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Fickle Games - Mock(ing)bird part II

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NOTES:

This work is a sequel to Mock(ing)bird but can be read as a standalone fic. In this prologue; Lord Varys gives an account of Littlefinger’s death and afterlife (includes a brief summary of what happened in Mock(ing)bird for those who have not read it). For those of you who have read Mock(ing)bird, this part may still contain some fun bits, so it’s worth a read. Sansa is aged up (early twenties) and Petyr is younger (32) at the beginning of this fic.

For those who want to read the prequel, Mock(ing)bird can be found here

Suggested music tracks:

Petyr Bealish

Someone made a wonderful compilation of Littlefinger’s life that would go very well with Varys’s tale.

Petyr Bealish//A little tale

Dance Macabre

Yes? All Sorted? Here we go!

 

 

PROLOGUE

Lord Varys’s little tale

Of

The Mockingbird and the Winter Wolf

 

 

Almost 500 years ago, in a land called Westeros, in another plane of existence than your own, there once lived a man who called himself Littlefinger.

As you may have guessed, it wasn’t his true name. It would have been particularly cruel of his parents to name him so if it was. No, it was an unkind nickname that his foster brother had once invented to make fun of him while he was still a young impressionable boy. Littlefinger later chose to use it as his own, because it reminded him of all the things he had to do, to prevent him from ever being mocked by anyone again. To remind himself even more, he replaced the sigil of his house with that of a mockingbird, for he had much admiration for such a small and humble creature that could trick even the mightiest beast with its songs.

And there you have it. This was what Littlefinger’s life was all about, all summarized in a nutshell.

Born as the only surviving son to the minor and rather insignificant house Bealish that owned nothing but a narrow strip of land at the edge of Seven Kingdoms that was little more than a couple of rocks stuck together with sheep dung that jutted out in the sea, Petyr knew that he had to climb quite a distance to get the respect and admiration that he so desired. It didn’t exactly help that at a very young age he was sent to Riverrun to be fostered by the highly respected lord Hoster Tully, where he lost his tender heart to the lord's beautiful daughter Catelyn.

Littlefinger thought of her as the love of his life and the center of his whole universe.

Catelyn thought of him as her bold, smart-mouthed, but needy little brother.

Needless to say, this kind of horrible misunderstanding could only end in bitter tears.

So, after his heart was rejected and his body was scarred, Littlefinger decided to put his foolish dreams for his unrequited love aside, and started his climb on the hierarchal ladder. He didn’t know where he wanted to end up at first, but he certainly was fed up of being trampled on all the time for being so near to the bottom. Littlefinger was an exceptionally clever and ambitious young man, and as the years advanced, so did his status and wealth. When he was appointed as master of coin in the small council of king Robert, many of us thought he had come as far as a man of his humble birth ever could.

But we were wrong.

First, the Hand of the king died under mysterious circumstances. Then the new Hand of the kind, lord Eddard Stark was unfortunately accused of treason and was beheaded. War broke out over the Seven Kingdoms. All the great families, the Starks, Lannisters, Bareatheons, the Martells, and the Tyrells were fighting each other like hungry dogs eying a single tasty bone, putting swords and spears on each other throats. One by one, all the major houses of the realm started to fall, like stubborn old trees felled down by an invisible storm. The whole country burnt. And all the while, Littlefinger continued to climb higher and higher, making his way to the top over an ever-growing mountain of rotting corpses. He did not care which friend he had to betray, or whose oath he had to break, or who he had to kill, maim, or sell, to achieve his final goal. All he wanted was that one shiny vision that he had cherished in his mind ever since he first set foot in the great hall of the Red Keep. Him, sitting on the iron throne, the true and only master of Westeros, even if only to be king of the ashes for a single day. 

He would have gotten there too in the end; oh I had no doubt about it. A most frightening thought, really. The Seven Kingdoms ruled by Littlefinger, would that still be a land with any order, honour, or justice? Would that be a place where you actually wanted to live?

But luckily for us all, he didn’t succeed.

It was a girl who stopped him. One with the heart of a Stark and the face of a Tully. His old weakness. For Littlefinger never had truly forgotten about his beloved Cat. Sansa Stark was like her mother’s mirror image that came back to haunt him after her demise.

Littlefinger first recognized that the girl was the key to the north and a valuable piece for his long game. So he took her away from her enemies. He protected her. He tutored her. He groomed her to become a master player on her own…And then he betrayed her, by selling her to the murderous Boltons, right before realizing that he had fallen hopelessly in love with her.

Indeed, for a man who was supposedly the most dangerous and rational mind of Westeros, that last part was rather baffling, even more so to himself. It was also very dangerous. Love was not a game that he was actually good at in playing at all. After all, he had already lost once when he was pursuing the girl’s mother. Despite his great intellect, he had no idea how to love Sansa in any way that would make her return her love to him. So the pitiable fool tried to play this little game the only way he knew how, which was by fucking over everyone who stood in his way, including the poor girl’s remaining family members.

Honestly, who needs mortal enemies if you have a deranged suitor like Littlefinger on your side? Perhaps you could say that he loved her just a little too selfishly, and a little bit too much.

In the end, this final reposition proved to be his downfall.

He never thought that after he had atoned by bringing the knights of the Vale to her aid that she would ever do him harm. In his increasingly deluded mind, he even believed that deep down, she could actually love him, and that if he continued to whisper his lies into her ear, she would one day give in and requite his strange and twisted version of love. He was actually right in a way. The girl did have some feelings for him. He never had the chance to find out though.

For in her heart, Sansa Stark was not a true mockingbird’s bride, but a winter wolf. One that placed family, duty, and honour above anything else. The remaining Starks, sisters and brother, bonded together like a hungry pack in the deep dark winter, and finally exposed the mockingbird’s many crimes. Sansa Stark, of all people, sentenced Littlefinger to death by the hand of her own sister. When the moment came that Arya Stark ran the blade across his throat, Littlefinger didn’t even know anymore what the real reason was for all his unwanted tears, whether it was the shock that the game had ended for him so very brutally, or because he was betrayed by the one woman he loved more than anything in the world.

In any case, dead Littlefinger made for a very bitter soul.

He arrived in the underworld, and stood before the Gods and masters who I now serve, waiting to receive his final judgment. Like all of us at that significant moment, Littlefinger still remembered exactly how he had lived, and why he had died. He was also still very angry, heartbroken, and very disillusioned by what Sansa Stark had done to him. When the time came to plead his case to my Lords, he acted both cynical and defiant.

“I have lived my life, good and bad. I know that I definitely wasn’t a saint.” He told them in his own charming, provocative way. “So it is not up to your standard to be considered good enough to gain access to paradise. Those are your rules. Your principles. Let me tell you, there are no true saints in the world where I came from. If you send everyone who is anything like me or worse to hell, that place is going to be seriously overcrowded. It will be worse than a whore house where all the whores come free of charge.”

We’re not sending you to hell. You are not even remorseful? Whispered the voices of my Lords to him through the cold dark crypts of the underworld.

“Remorseful? Yes, I certainly am. For ever have fallen in love and losing my heart and mind to that Stark girl and her mother.” He told them, refusing to even speak their names any longer. “As for the rest, I did what was requested by others. I did what was needed for me to survive. I did what every other sane man would have done, coming from my own unfavourable position. So how could I ever have any other regrets?”

Are you not afraid that we shall punish you mercilessly for your sins?

“Do what you want with me.” He bluffed. “What can you still possibly do to me that she hasn’t already done a hundred times worse?”

What have you valued the most in your life?

Let us witness.

Let us see.

Memories cannot lie. Not even those of Littlefinger. My Lords looked into his soul. What they saw buried deep inside his shrivelled old heart were the golden autumn days of his childhood that he had shared with Cat, and the kiss he had stolen from the snow maiden in the sky garden of the Eyrie.

“No, how can this be my rightful punishment?” Littlefinger reproached, assuming that the Gods were going to take these away from him. “What am I supposed to learn from your cruelty? Don’t keep pining over your lost childhood sweetheart, or fall in love with her beautiful daughter?”

You are troublesome.

You are insolent.

Every soul who comes here is treated the same.

They lose what they valued the most in life.

You need to be punished.

You need to atone for your sins.

“Don’t take those memories away from me.” Littlefinger pleaded, finally speaking from his heart. “They have made me into who I am.”

We are not going to take these memories from you.

We are preserving them.

The rest of your life, you shall forget.

A long burdened silence followed. When Littlefinger finally did speak, there was a touch of fear in his voice. “Then…what is going to happen to me? What will be my punishment?”

A lion without its claws and sharp teeth is but a cat. A wolf without its pack a lost hungry dog. You Petyr Bealish, shall go through your next existence without what you most value, the one thing that you treasure even more than the memories of your lost loves.

Your wits.

Your intellect.

Remove this, and this mockingbird shall mock no more.

And that was exactly what my new Lords and masters did to him. They sent Littlefinger to purgatory, a place they called King’s Landing, in mockery of those lost souls who once dwelled in the old capital of Westeros where all of their schemes and dreams had gravitated. It was a place that on the surface, looked very similar to your plane of existence, with cars and buses, streets and street gangs, grey asphalt car parks and ugly concrete building blocks. The only difference was that it was a far crueler place, one where the moral rules of kindness and mercy did not apply. Some of the lost souls that were sent there thrived. Others, like Littlefinger, or Petyr as he now called himself, who did not have the wits to protect himself or to do harm to others, withered away.

He really suffered, as was indented by my Lords. He suffered abuse, and humiliation, and degradation. He endured heartache and loneliness, almost without mercy.  

And just like that, centuries passed by.

Until one day, his salvation came in the form of a young woman who arrived from the land of the living after she had lost her way. Sansa Stark had always been a quite remarkable girl. In her previous life in Westeros, she had attracted trouble and tragedy like a jar of sweet honey would attract flies. This time, she unintentionally and unknowingly arrived in King’s Landing to seek it out herself. She didn’t recognize Petyr Bealish at first, having been wiped clean of all memory of her past life like so many others. After her initial encounter, she even tried to get rid of him. Petyr without his silver tongue and his natural wits and charms can be…how shall I put this, quite exhausting.

But he was also kind, and gentle, and forgiving. For what else could an injured lost soul like him be, without a smarter inner voice to tell him to act otherwise? And like water returning to the spring after a long journey through rivers, seas, and rain, Petyr had long since returned to his original self. He was a boy in the body of a 30 year old, who liked to watch birds and collect eggshells and empty bird nests, and who remained desperately and tragically in love with Catelyn Tully, so much so that he continued to look for her, right until the moment he finally met Sansa Stark.

Sansa was lost in his world and in trouble, so he took her in and sheltered her. He protected her, and healed her soul. And once again, like a tragic song that was doomed to repeat itself, it became his ruin.

This time though it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t even his own doing. You see, during her accidental stay with Petyr, Sansa Stark had woken up and had regained all knowledge of her past life, including her memories of her old mentor. She had also finally, truly fallen in love with the kind-hearted man that he had become. Knowing what she knew of Petyr’s old self, and witnessing how he now suffered in purgatory drove her to drastic actions. She wanted to save him. She swore she would free him and find a way out for them both. Unfortunately, due to ill-fated events that were started by her own hand, it didn’t work out exactly the way she had intended.

Petyr was wrongfully accused for abducting Sansa and was incarcerated in the Red Keep insane asylum. Sansa’s father Eddard Stark came to King’s Landing to find her, and eventually took her back home with him.

I guess, in the end, Sansa just loved him a little too selfishly, and a little bit too much. They do say that love is a madness of the soul. It has never been so true as for these two.

Or perhaps, it was all just a cynical joke from my masters to teach Littlefinger a thing or two about karma.

Whatever it was that had led to this, this is where this sad song ends. Petyr Bealish remains in purgatory, still without his wits and any knowledge of his past self, wasting away his existence behind the red stone walls of a deeper hell that is the Red Keep, and Sansa Stark, back in her own plane of existence in the land of the living, but desperately trying to find her way to back to him.

After all, she has made a promise to him that she intends to keep, even if she has to cross the many realms of the dead to fulfill that promise.

I do apologize, but I must move on now. My Lords have given me many charges to attend to. Being the only one who is tasked with guiding the long suffering spirits in purgatory who have sufficiently atoned back into the light, me lingering here for far too long would be nothing less than cruelty.

Yet, I do hope that one day, I shall find on my list of new charges the name of my former enemy and friend amongst the others. However much I enjoy watching my old enemy fail for the good of the realm, I do also wish, from time to time, to see an old friend succeed.

Besides, no one should be left to the cruelty of Ramsay Bolton for long. Even a soul as sinful and unrelenting as that of Littlefinger does deserve a certain amount of mercy.

 

TBC

 

Chapter Text

 

1.

20 months ago

They cuffed him to the railing so he wouldn’t try to trash the police van again, and drove him to the very edge of King’s Landing. When they finally stopped and the back doors flung open, Petyr saw that they had arrived in front of a large red and yellow-brick Victorian building, sat in what seemed to be a green parkland. It was almost peaceful looking, except perhaps for the electrical wire fencing that surrounded the entire premise. He was brought inside and dragged through a confusing maze of corridors, going through a succession of closed gates, till he arrived in a small room where a black haired woman, tall and almost regal-like in bearing, was waiting for him.

“Bealish, Petyr.” She muttered as she went through the file that was left behind by the officers after they had uncuffed him. She went through a few more things before she finally looked up at him with her large hazel brown eyes. “Petyr, I am Ellaria Sand.”

Petyr, although terrified, didn’t want to be impolite. He extended his hand for a friendly handshake, but Ellaria just glared at it as if she had just been offered a stick with a venomous snake curled around it.

“We don’t do that here.” Her voice was icy. “In fact, don’t ever try to touch me or any of my co-workers at the Red Keep, or there will be trouble. If required, we will touch you.” She added with a disdainful smile. “Believe me, you really don’t want that to happen to you.”

Ellaria handed him a set of clothes. “You stink of sweat and fear. You need to take a shower, get disinfected. Go through that door.” She pointed out. “Strip and throw whatever you’re wearing out into the corridor. Clean yourself up. Be sure not to make it any longer than 5 minutes or I will come in to drag you out. I will wait for you here. ”

“Miss Sand?”

Ellaria Sand returned him a look that plainly indicated that she was already bored with dealing with him.

“Is this where I am now? Is this place called the Red Keep?” Petyr asked in a small timid voice. He wanted to store it in his mind so he could let Sansa know where he was, if he ever had the chance.

Ellaria rested her hands on her waist. “It used to be called the Red Keep Asylum for the criminally insane. It wasn’t publicity friendly enough, so it was changed to the Red Keep psychiatric Hospital. Whatever they call it, it doesn’t matter. We still work in the same way like we used to when dealing with crazy human garbage.” She flung a bar of soap at him. “Shower, 5 minutes.” She told him sternly, pointing at the door again. “If you’re smart, you won’t keep me waiting.”

He did what he was told. The water was ice cold. The bar of soap smelled like the pink chemical power that misses Tyrell, his landlady, used to throw down the sink when the pipes were clogged. It stung his skin and eyes. He had no idea how long he was in there. The scary lady outside had yelled at him to hand over everything, so he had done just that, even removing his wristwatch. After exactly 5 minutes, she really did storm in and dragged him out, pulling him painfully by his ear.

“Get dressed.” She ordered. She folded her arms over her bosom and waited. Horrified that she just stood there and glared at him while he was still completely naked and dripping wet, he didn’t even dare to ask her for a towel and just put the thin dark blue hospital gown on as quickly as possible.

“Follow me.” She ordered. They went down another corridor passing by a series of gates, which she opened by pushing in a number code. “I will be in charge of you for the coming months. You will be kept in the observation ward.” She walked ahead of him all the way down to the last cell and opened the door. “This one is yours.”

Petyr entered a brightly lit cell that was, even compared to his old bedroom, claustrophobically small. There was just barely space enough to lie down or pace 3 steps from side to side. Except for a thin mattress and a blanket, it was empty. The walls, the floor, and even the door were padded in some sort of white foam material that smelled of burned tires. A small black square with a shiny surface sat at the back.

“Oh what’s the matter? You don’t like your room?” Ellaria joked, noticing the horrified look on his face.

“W-why is there is no window in here?” Petyr muttered anxiously, thinking that he wasn’t going to be able to watch his beloved birds again. He had left his binoculars in the burned out flat, but he had hoped at least to be able to see them when he looked outside into the garden.

“Ellaria pointed out the black square in the wall. “There is one, so we can keep an eye on you. Don’t try to mess this place up. The crazier you act, the longer I keep you here.”

She was about to leave when Petyr managed to pick up some of his shattered courage to call out to her.

“Miss Sand?”

Ellaria twisted the corners of her mouth in dismay, but still turned around. “Yes what is it?” She sighed.

“Can I please have my stuff back?” Petyr asked shyly.

“Why? I gave you clean clothes. We will provide new ones when the ones you now wear needs cleaning.”

“I don’t mean my clothes.” Petyr replied, fumbling with the ends of his sleeves and looking down at his bare feet. Although, it would be nice if he got his jacket back. It was freezing in this place. “Can I please at least get my mockingbird pin back?”

“You are asking for your pin?”

Petyr nodded eagerly. “Yes miss Sand. It’s a little silver bird pin. It’s still stuck to my shirt. Can I please get it back?”

“You’re not allowed to hold on to your own stuff in here. We’ll give it back to you when you are finally allowed to leave. In the meantime, I will keep it in storage for you.”

“But…My-my friend gave that to me.” The thought of Sansa cut into his heart and brought desperate tears to his eyes. “I really would like to keep it with me. Please. I won’t be asking for anything else if you let me keep it.”

Ellaria was not much touched. “It’s a pin, with a sharp pointy end. You could use it to stab somebody. What do you think?” She told him, rolling her eyes.

She slammed the door shut and locked it from the outside.

 

2.

Petyr didn’t want to be difficult, he didn’t want to cause miss Sand such troubles, but he really wanted his pin back. So every time she showed up in his cell to give him his medication, he refused to take them. He would press his lips tightly together, till Ellaria had enough, grabbed him by his nose and pinched it shut. When he finally opened his mouth, desperate to breathe, she would shove the tablets down his throat. Most of the time Petyr was able to spit them out again. It made Ellaria absolutely livid.

“You do this again, and I will have you transferred to another unit.” Ellaria warned him, her large brown eyes blazing. “If you think you have it bad here, you should think again. There are far worse places to be locked up in the Red Keep, I assure you.”

But of course, Petyr wouldn’t listen.

A week later, he was indeed moved to another place. At first he didn’t even think it made that much difference. The room was as small, ugly, and empty as the first one. Only this one did not have a black window at the back. He also didn’t see miss Sand again. In fact, he did not see anyone during the first two days after he was transferred. When he tapped on the door to ask to be let out to go the bathroom, no-one showed up. After 3 excruciating long hours of waiting, he finally relieved his bladder in a corner, hoping fiercely that they would not be too angry with him for making such a mess.

They didn’t come to give him his pills. There was no one to bring him his food or even a glass of water. By the end of the second day his throat felt like dry parchment, swallowing was becoming painful, and he was constantly nauseous and dizzy.

In the early morning of the third day, even before the lights were switched back on, he was finally woken by the sound of his cell door opening. Dying of thirst, he immediately began begging his warden for a drink. A glass of water was brought to his chapped lips. He swallowed it down eagerly till his stomach objected and made him throw up most of the liquid.

“Easy now.” Said a voice that sounded too familiar to him for comfort. “Don’t try to finish it all at once Petyr. You’re not a camel.”

Petyr’s heart froze. His eyes, painful and dry, slowly adjusted to the dark, and he finally saw who had given him water. “Ramsay?” He managed to utter, his voice hoarse and cracked. Remembering how he had set him on fire in misses Tyrell’s kitchen, and how he had disappeared afterwards, Petyr thought he was looking at a ghost. “A-are you d-dead?”

“God, you are a real idiot.” Ramsay scoffed. He put down the glass of water went out to switch on the light in Petyr’s cell. “Do I look like a ghost to you?” He told him when he returned. Petyr blinked up at Ramsay, his eyes struggling to adjust to the bright light. He noticed that he was holding something his hand. It looked like a hammer.

“So…I didn’t kill you? I d-didn’t accidentally b-burn you?”

“Kill? No.” Ramsay grinned, crouching down to stare him right in the face. “Burn? Yes.” He rolled up the sleeves of his blue shirt and showed him the horrible long patch of red scars that ran all the way from his wrist up to his shoulder. “Accident? No.” He added in a low and threatening growl.

“I am sorry.” Petyr told him, shivering of fear. Even under these horrible circumstances, he was still genuinely remorseful for what he had done to Ramsay. “I didn’t want to hurt you, I really didn’t. I just wanted to stop you hurting Sansa.”

Ramsay’s face suddenly cheered up. “Speaking of the mad bitch.” He grinned, almost comically. He sat down next to Petyr. “I was curious and took a look into your file. Did you know that it was Sansa’s dad who signed your commitment papers? Can you believe this? It was her old man who sent you here! So I guess we’re both royally fucked over by her, aren’t we?” He laughed and slapped on Petyr’s shoulder like he was sharing a joke with his best mate. “Didn’t expect to find you here in my ward so soon though. I though that that Sand viper woman was going to keep you in her unit for a while, if not forever. Boy, you must have really pissed her off.”

Y-your ward?” Petyr asked, his heart now trembling inside his chest.

“Involuntary community service.” Ramsay explained, pulling a face as if to say Yeah I know, Can you believe this shit? “That Tansy bitch didn’t want to drop her charges against me.” Ramsay explained. “It was either this, or picking up trash and dog poop in the park, wearing a bright orange jacket. At least this job was inside and out of sight of the general public.” He playfully flipped the hammer in his hand, wheeling it around and catching it in mid air.

“I must say, I didn’t know it could be so much fun to take care of nutcases. I should have signed up years ago. You know, they are actually very impressed with my contributions here. Father Sparrow had such faith me in, he even put me in charge of the forget wing.” Ramsay paused to take in the horrified look on Petyr’s face. “Do you know why they call it that?” He asked gleefully. “It’s basically the wing of the asylum where they dump all the people they want to forget about, because they think they are too difficult or impossible to treat. Sadly, that includes you now Petyr.”

He suddenly clapped in his hands, making Petyr jump in fright. “So, I am in charge of you now. Sorry that I forgot to check on you yesterday…and the day before…I have been very busy. Still, no real harm done. That little drink really helped, made your cheeks puff right back up.” He pinched Petyr in his cheek. “You’re like a bloody sponge, aren’t you?”

“Are y-you going to h-hurt me?” Petyr asked, glancing at the hammer in his hand.

“Now what kind of ridiculous question is that?” Ramsay told him, pretending to be baffled. “Of course I am going to hurt you, or it wouldn’t be fair to me, would it? Remember, you hurt me first. You burnt me because you wanted to protect that red northern bitch. It’s just good old boring an eye for eye really.” Ramsay rummaged through his pockets and took out something to show Petyr.

“My colleagues in the other unit told me that you were constantly whining about a bird pin. The one that was confiscated when you were processed? So, being the kind-hearted bastard that I am, I went through your stuff in storage. Look what I found for you.”

Petyr’s eyes grew wide in horror. Right in the palm of Ramsay’s hand was the silver mockingbird pin. “Please don’t damage it.” He pleaded, immediately understanding what Ramsay was planning to do with it. “Sansa gave it to me. It’s the only thing that I still have left that reminds me of her. Please don’t, don’t damage it.”

Ramsay’s smile was a very nasty one. “Come on Petyr, you can do better than that.”

“Please! I will do anything! Anything you want. I will take all the pills you give me. I will swallow it all down. I won’t be difficult, I swear. I will give you absolutely no troubles. Please, please don’t damage it. Give it back, please.”

“What if I want you to be very quiet?”

“I will.” Petyr nodded fervently, giving him his word. “I shall be very quiet. I won’t say a word if you don’t want me to.”

“Not even when I hurt you? You won’t tell the others? And you won’t cry out? Not even a tiny little scream?”

“I–I won’t.” Petyr swallowed a dry lump in his throat and licked his lips nervously. “I won’t utter a single sound, I promise.”

A content smile spread over Ramsay’s fat lips. “You’re very attached to your little pin, aren’t you?”

Petyr kept nodding, his eyes tearing up. “I will do anything you say from now on. Please, I shall behave myself. I shall be good from now on. Please, please, I beg you, please give it back.”

Ramsay pretended to give it a serious thought. He held the little silver pin up to the light and continued to flip the hammer in his hand.

“You know.” He finally said. “I actually do like you a lot. You were always such a great sport when I needed to run my dogs. You never talked back or tried anything stupid before you started to conspire against me with that red whore from outside.”

“Sansa isn’t a who-“

“Eh, eh, eh!” Ramsay interrupted him, pressing his finger on Petyr’s lips. “You just promised me to do whatever I say. Did I tell you to talk back to me?”

Petyr shook his head and consciously pressed his lips together into a thin white line.

“Right.” Ramsay gave him a long chastising look, one that he would use to discipline his dogs. “I think you better keep your word now, considering the rather unfortunate circumstances you’re in. So.” He said, taking a deep breath. “To briefly summarize that mad wailing of yours, you want your pin back?”

Petyr eagerly nodded his head, biting in his lower lip to remind himself not to speak out. The smile that Ramsay returned to him gave his worried heart a smitten of hope.

“Alright. I will give it back to you.” Ramsay held the mockingbird pin in front of Petyr’s nose. “I am actually just a big softy. I can’t stand to see a grown man beg like that.” He laughed.

For a moment, Petyr felt so relieved and happy. He crawled closer and held out his hand to receive his pin.

“Give me your hand first.” Ramsay told him coldly.

Petyr froze.

“Come on. You want your pin back. Give me your hand.” He urged.

There was something in the way how Ramsay said this that was very frightening. It was the same voice he used before he set his dogs on him, or when he forced him to lie to misses Tyrell or to the police. It never came before anything good.

Ramsay quickly lost his patience. “God this is boring.” He muttered, rolling his eyes, he dropped the little mockingbird on the floor. He raised his hammer high, and was about to slam it down on the silver pin.

No! No! No!” Petyr cried out. “Please no! Don’t do it. Don’t do it!”

“Were you not supposed to stay silent?” Ramsay scolded. He held back his swing just in time. The hammer now hovered right above Petyr’s precious silver pin. “Why are you speaking again?”

“I am sorry! I am sorry! I am –“ Petyr pressed his hands over his mouth to stop himself from rambling. Tears of fear and frustration were now running down his cheeks.

“Maybe you don’t deserve to get a break. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to give you your pin back.”

Petyr shook his head wildly, still covering his mouth with both his hands, too afraid to let go. He though he was going mad with worries.

“For the last time. You want the little trinket. Give me your hand.”

Petyr swallowed a few time and forced back the mad screams that were now bubbling up from the pit of his stomach. He nodded meekly and offered his right hand to Ramsay who took it firmly by the wrist. He placed it flat on the floor right next to the mockingbird pin.

“Now, spread out your fingers.”

Although he was trembling now like a wounded little bird that was cast out of its nest, Petyr did what he was told.

“Hold it there. Exactly like that. Don’t move a finger.” Ramsay whispered. “And Petyr?” Ramsay grinned playfully at him. “Remember, don’t make a single sound, or the bird gets it.”

Petyr continued to nod, and tremble, and cry, and bite the inside of his cheeks to stop himself from making any sounds.

Ramsay’s grin widened into something predatory when he finally swung the hammer down on his fingers, crushing 3 them. Petyr only produced a muffled cry. Whimpering of pain, his mouth quickly filled up with the taste of blood.

“Shshshsh!” Ramsay hushed. “Remember, not a sound.” He petted his head like he was one of his dogs. “It’s difficult right? It’s not easy to keep your lying mouth shut when someone is smashing your fingers. Maybe I can do something to help?” Ramsay suggested. “How about I sing a little song to you? That will distract you from the pain. Let’s see, what would be fitting? How about…”

“This little finger left home.”

The hammer came down, smashing his thumb.

“This little finger stole a kiss from a fair maiden.”

The hammer came down again and pulverized the largest joint of his index finger.

“This little finger lost his heart to a girl who doesn’t love him back.”

The hammer crushed the end bone of his middle finger, splitting his nail in two. The sharp ends, like razors, cut right into the flesh of his fingertip.

“This little finger sold his conscience and told nothing but lies.”

His ring finger was flattened in the middle. The brittle bones splintered till they stuck out in odd angles through his flesh.

“And this little finger, finally got what he deserved.”

Ramsay brought the hammer down three times on his last finger, first breaking the bones, then splintering them, till they were so pulverized that they hardly seemed any different from the soft bleeding flesh.

Petyr was in such paralyzing, horrible agony. He was writhing, whimpering, and weeping, rolling over the floor like a mad injured animal, his lips still kept tightly together to keep himself from crying out, while what was left of his poor right hand throbbed and oozed. It felt like it had been shredded into ribbons. It screamed of the horrendous mutilation it had just endured.

“Alright then.” Ramsay said, letting out a deeply satisfied sigh. He was rather enjoying himself. “Now, shall we move on to your other hand?”

When his tormentor finally left, Petyr could no longer use his fingers. They were like painfully bleeding sticks, red and horribly swollen, pieces of broken glass stuck into his hands instead of fingers made of flesh and bone. He couldn’t even bend them at the ruined joints. But for once, Ramsay Bolton had kept his promise. He had tossed the silver mockingbird pin on the floor, right before he left him to his own misery. He had stepped on it only once. Only the needle was a little bend, but the bird was still intact.

Petyr tried to pick it up, but every time he tried, it was so horrifically painful that he had to chew on his bloodied cheeks again to stop himself from screaming out. So in the end, he used the palms of his ruined hands to sweep the pin away from the door to the furthest corner of his tiny little cell. His strained efforts left a smear behind on the padded floor, making it look like some grotesque finger painting of a bloody rainbow.

Shivering of pain and shock, he huddled in the corner with his back against the wall. With his knees tucked tight against his belly, he gazed down at the little mockingbird, feeling so very depressed, and scared, and confused.

He didn’t know what to do anymore. He missed misses Tyrell. He missed Cat, but most of all he missed Sansa. He missed her so much.

Sansa always knew what to do. She always knew how to make things right again and say the right things to make him feel safe, and loved, and happy. Now she was gone forever. She had gone home with her father, back to Winterfell farm somewhere in the north where she belonged. She wasn’t homeless anymore. She didn’t need him anymore. She had her own family back to look after her. And he…he had nothing. He was stuck here in this tiny cell that was to be his whole world from now on. A white sterile place where there were no birds and no bird songs, no kind maidens who taught him not to be afraid of horses, who gave him a quick peck on the cheek before darting away playfully in the autumn sun. No kind-hearted girl who helped him to remember that a mock bird was actually called a mockingbird, and taught him how to speak to people in the right way, so they wouldn’t be angry with him all the time.

He was alone. He had no one.

Hot tears dripped from his chin and splashed down on the silver feathers of his little mockingbird.

Sansa. She gave him this.

She gave him this to remind him what she had promised. She had told him she loved him. She wouldn’t just leave him here. She wouldn’t just abandon him. She promised when she gave him the little mockingbird, that she was going to get him out of King’s Landing. She promised she would find him and take him with her.

And he believed her. He still did. He loved her. He trusted her.

Sansa would never lie to him.

He wiped the snot and tears from his face, unknowingly smearing it all out and mingling it into the blood from his still bleeding hands till his cheeks were all painted crimson. He wasn’t going to cry again. He was not going to despair. He will be brave now, and wait till she comes back for him. Ramsay could do his worst, but this time, he will not be broken in the same way he once was by Brandon Stark when he fought him for Cat’s affection. When Sansa finally comes for him, he will still be Petyr.

He will be able to take care of her.

He will be able to go home with her.

He gazed down at the mockingbird pin. Gritting his teeth and taking in deep ragged breaths, he tried once again to pick it up with his hands.

On his fifth attempt, he could finally make his broken fingers wrap around it, and slowly but steadily, he picked the little mockingbird up from the ground.

 

TBC

 

Chapter Text

 

NOTES: Suggested soundtrack:

 

Map of the Problematique

For part 3

 

GoT Unreleased Soundtrack: The Eyrie Courtyard

GoT Unreleased Soundtrack: Winterfell Godswood

For part 5

 

3.

Fear and panic in the air
I want to be free
From desolation and despair

And I feel like everything I sow
Is being swept away
When I refuse to let you go

I can't get it right

Since I met you

Map of the Problematique - Muse

 

12 months ago

 

His fingers were bleeding.

Ramsay had flayed all of his finger tips with the thin blade of his army knife. His nails were also gone, pulled out with pincers, leaving behind only raw, bloody stumps. His fingers had been broken so many times by now that all the nerve endings were damaged beyond repair. The joints had fused into bony scar tissues, and had become a cause of constant agony to him. Still, he kept trying to use them to punch in the numbered keys on the combination lock, repeatedly and desperately, while his hands shook like the wings of a tern caught in a storm.

482211, and the light flashed red.

He uttered a muffled, anxious sob, and immediately tried again.

6 numbers. That was all that stood between him and safety, what made the difference between getting caught and getting away, between more suffering and mercy. He had tried to engrave them into his mind by repeating them frantically till it was more like a deranged mantra than a short simple code to unlock a barred gate. Yet, he just couldn’t get it right. He kept failing. The numbers kept getting jumbled up inside his broken anxious mind.

His fingers slipped over the keys and left behind crimson fingerprints till all the confusing numbers were hidden beneath a smear his own congealed blood.

482211

481221

And the light kept flashing red. Please, please, please! He pleaded to whoever would still be able to help him now. Let it work just once! He is coming. He is coming with his dogs. He is going to hurt me. Please!

He shrunk in terror when he heard the gate behind him swing open, producing a loud metal clank that echoed down the deserted corridor when it slammed against the tiled walls.

“Oh Littlefinger.” Ramsay yelled, calling out the cruel nickname that he had made up for him in an almost comical way, like he was making voices for a children’s story and was now imitating the big bad wolf. “Oh little little Littlefinger, we’re coming for you.”

Barks and howls, ferocious and mad, came from not far behind. The very sound of Ramsay’s dogs sent Petyr’s heart into a frenzy. He immediately turned back to the locked gate and started typing in random numbers that came up in his mad panicking head in a desperate attempt to open the gate and get away.

Ramsay appeared, his face shining with sweat and excitement. He had trouble to keep his pack of crazed mutts under control as they increasingly started to jerk at their leashes once they came closer to their terrified target.

“Oh don’t tell me you’re still not done with it.” Ramsay complained, sounding much bored and faking disappointment. “God, it’s just 6 numbers Littlefinger! I told you just a FUCKING minute ago! How is it even possible that you cannot even get that right?! Seriously, how FUCKING retarded are you?!”

Petyr was close to tears and trembled like a scared dog waiting for a horrible trashing. He wanted to beg Ramsay for mercy, but he knew what would happen if he spoke out. Ramsay didn’t want him to speak like a human being. He didn’t want him to use any of those fancy words normal people would use. Dogs don’t talk Littlefinger. Ramsay had told him. Dogs bark and whimper and whine. When they do, I know exactly if they are hungry, or cold, or in pain, and want me to do something about it. You promised me that you won’t speak again. Not until I give you my permission to do so. You really should learn a few things from my clever dogs…at least if you want me to stop beating you.

With a mind that lacked any lucidity and that was terrorized by fear, Petyr dropped down on his knees and sobbed, begging in whatever ways he still had left at his disposal to the man who was now his everything, his tormentor, his warden, his god, to please have mercy, please have pity on him and make the hurting and the terror finally stop.

“Oh no, were not going to stop.” Ramsay reassured him, shaking his head. “Not till my dogs had a good run. I am very disappointed with you Littefinger. You are awfully out of shape. It’s nothing like the good old days. It’s hardly any fun like this.”

He gazed down at him, the drooling open mauls of his hounds barely an inch away from Petyr’s face.

“What? You want me to help you again?” Ramsay rolled his eyes. “Alright, fine…” He sighed. “Now listen to me very carefully, because I am seriously running out of patience with you. For the last time, the code is fourrr.” He spoke the number out very slowly to mock him. Petyr turned back to the numberlock at once and started looking for the right key.

Eight. Come on Littlefinger, my dogs are getting terribly bored! Two. And when they get bored, they get hungry. They can smell the blood on your fingers. One. Maybe I should let them chew on those useless little things. It’s not like you make any good use of them anyway. One. Let them strip all the meat right off till you’re left with 10 mangled skeletal sticks. Would you like that, Littlefinger?” He grinned. “Do you really want to piss me off that much that I would let my dogs do that to you?”

Petyr sucked in a ragged breath to shut out the horrifying images from his mind, trying hard to focus on catching the numbers between the lines of abuse.

"Aaaand, two.

The last key was pushed in, and the light finally, mercifully, flashed green.

“Congratulations Einstein.” Ramsay mocked. “Now, CAN WE PLEASE MOVE THE FUCK ON!”

Petyr gasped. Half stumbling over his own feet in panic, he clumsily swung the gate open and ran out into the open stretch of corridor.

“I shall just wait here with the dogs, shall I?” Ramsay yelled after him, a cruel glint burning in his eyes. “No need for us to rush!”

He was playing with Petyr like a toy. Of course there was no way out. The forget wing was one vast closed off unit where no sane person would ever set foot. There were only two connections to the main building, but Ramsay had made sure that Petyr wasn’t going to accidentally stumble into any of them any time soon. In his terrified state, Petyr had no idea where he was going. As long it was away from Ramsay and his mad dogs, away from more pain and ruthless abuse, he didn’t care where he had to go to hide. But Ramsay knew where he was going, he knew exactly where he wanted him to be. He was chasing him and rounding him up like a sheep farmer would use his trusted dogs to herd a scared lost lamb back into the barn for slaughter.

It wasn’t long before his victim was facing a blind wall, an abrupt end of yet another stretch of confusing corridor that led to nowhere. Petyr swallowed a desperate cry, and swirled around to find somewhere to hide. He tried to pull open each door. With each one that failed to open, His heart rate climbed till it was galloping like a horse stung by a hornet. They were all locked. There was nowhere left for him to go, and this time, he knew that Ramsay wasn’t going to just let him go. This cruel little game was not going to end with any mercy. Petyr had almost lost all hope when finally, he tried the last remaining door, a red large one, with flaking paint and faded signs. It gave way, and with a second tug it swung wide open. Before him was a wooden staircase that descended into a deep dark pit. Stale air rose, and carried up the scent of mildew, rotting wood and damp earth. A cobwebbed wire lamp sat like a big fat spider on the wall. It gave just enough light for him to see the first few steps down. 

“Oh Littlefinger? Are you ready with hiding yet?” Ramsay called down the corridor. “My dogs are just dying to go find you.”

Panicking, Petyr shut the door behind him before he rushed down the stairs as fast as he dared, tracing with his ruined painful fingers the damp walls as he descended into almost complete darkness.

 

4.

The decaying wooden steps gave way dangerously, but somehow kept his weight. At the very bottom, his bare feet touched a slippery mess of mud and gravel. He found himself in a long underground chamber. The walls were made of red brick that looked almost black in the little light that came from the single wire lamp that dangled above his head. Water dripped down from slime moulds into shallow pools of stinking stagnant water before him. Thoroughly exhausted from all the stress he had endured, he hunched down against the cold damp wall and tried to make himself as small as possible.

Please, please, please, don’t let him find me. He prayed. Please, please, please. His trembling fingers fumbled nervously with the silver mockingbird pin that he now wore as a pennant. Ramsay had finally allowed him to keep it…after he had made him bleed and suffer horribly for it first. Ramsay had even helped him to bend the needle into a ring and had fastened it to a piece of string for him to wear it around his neck.

Every dog needs a tag. Ramsay had told him when he had granted him this huge favour. Some times there were good days, and Petyr would be brought on the verge of tears, because he was so very grateful to Ramsay that he didn’t hurt him, and was almost kind to him, and took care of his wounds, and fed him, and allowed him to clean himself to restore what little remained of his dignity. Most of the days for him though, were much like today. Most of the days were terrifying and absolutely horrible.

Hiding his face between his pulled up knees, he ran his bloodied fingertips over the silver feathers of the little bird. Shivering, he shut his eyes, and forced himself to think of her.

A stray lock of fiery golden orange, the colour of autumn leaves, touches her pale soft lips. The morning light catches her azure eyes when she turns to look at him. The clumsy escapades of the young starlings in their nest in front of his bedroom window brings a much-longed upward curl to the corners of her mouth when she smiles.

Petyr’s mind used to work like a recorder. It used to store every piece of apparently trivial information, every detail, no matter how small, of his opponents and confidantes inside his head so he could use it later to craft his elaborate schemes.

The short time he had spent with Sansa in purgatory was now like a series of moving photographs. Each one of them was treasured deep inside his soul, frozen in time, and stored forever in immaculate detail. Every time he was in need of solace he would draw them out, and Sansa would return to him, still perfect and beautiful like she had been in that stolen moment. She would be there again, right by his side, and the real world with all of its horrors would mercifully fade away.

But unfortunately, fate had the cruel habit of snatching him away from his safe refuse and cast him out right back again into the cold brutal present.

A bright light shone directly in his face. Petyr flinched, his instincts urging him to crawl away and hide.

“There you are.” A woman called out. Her voice was soft and sweet. To Petyr’s desperate heart, she sounded even kind. “I was looking for you.”

No no, it’s not Ramsay. Not Ramsay. He repeated to himself, trying to control his fears and to stay sane. Hesitantly, he gazed up at her. She looked as sweet and innocent as her voice had led him to believe. Large hazel eyes. Long brown locks that curled around a pale young face. A pout formed by cherry red lips. Petyr was stunned by her presence. He had not seen another living soul since he was brought here, none except for his tormentor. He opened his mouth, eager to communicate with her, to beg her for help, but he struggled.

How many times do I have to remind you Littlefinger. You’re one of my dogs now. You’re not a man. Stop trying to talk to me like you are.

Fighting back the dread that rose in the back of his damaged, indoctrinated mind with each choked up syllable that he still managed to utter, his pained words finally came out as broken and confused as he was.

“H-help. Me. Help. Please. P-Please.”

“Oh you poor thing.” She shushed, coming over to take a better look at him. “You’re trembling all over. What has been done to you? Of course I will help. I love to help. Wait.” She put down her flashlight, and aimed the beam away from him, shining it at the opposite wall. Petyr thought he saw a bundle of clothes. It was damp and covered in green and grey mould, and entwined with long pale sticks that flashed white in the bright spot light. The girl walked over to it and picked out a rusted steel collar that was attached to a long, heavy chain. When she walked back, she stepped on something that was half buried in the muck. It snapped in two with a loud dry crack. When she kicked it aside, he saw that it was part of a human rib-cage. It was cleared of all flesh, except for four stubborn strings of dry sinew that made the whole thing resemble a macabre harp.

Petyr hollered in terror when he finally realized what that mouldy pile of decay in front of him exactly was. He was still scrambling backwards, trying to bury himself inside a small crevice in the wall while uttering mad screams, when the girl used the heavy collar to whack him on the side of his head. The impact swung him to the ground. Landing with his face in the mud, he gasped in choked up, whimpering breaths while the whole world swirled around him.

The girl turned the flash light back at Petyr and gazed down at him with cold indifference in her eyes. “Oh don’t be like that.” She said, her dimpled smile too innocent for what she had just done. “It’s all your own fault really. You promised Ramsay not to speak or to scream. But you were screaming. I thought I should help you to remember. Besides, it won’t help.”

Her hazel eyes cast up to the ceiling. “Old air raid shelter.” She mused. “Built during the second world war and long forgotten. No living soul remembers that it even exists. You’re what? At least 10-20 meters under ground? Ramsay says that you closer to hell here, than you are to day light.” Her smile continued to be a friendly and polite one when she crouched down beside him, the chains jingling loudly in her hands. “Here, let me help you. Tansy certainly won’t be needing this any more.”

Her hands, delicate, small, and cruel, pulled his head up by his tangle of curls and slipped the collar around his neck, snapping it shut and locked.

“I certainly hope you last a little longer than her.” The girl said, as she ran the chain through a metal ring that was attached to the wall and secured the end to a metal bolt. “You’re quite cute…in a deranged sort of way.” Her cherry lips curled into an amused smile. “I rather have Ramsay play with you than yet another one of his pretty little whores he picks up from the street.”

She pulled and shortened the chains, forcing him to get up or get choked. Petyr managed to scramble back up on his hands and knees, trembling like an injured animal. Blood of his crushed temple dripped into his eyes as he cast his gaze to the ground, too afraid of her now to look at her directly.

But the girl cupped his chin and forced him to look up. “He calls you Littlefinger now, doesn’t he? Ramsay told me so much about you.” She studied his blue-grey eyes and the many cuts and bruises on his face. “He says that you are his favourite little lunatic. You’re so lucky. He spends so much time with you. I was jealous. So, I asked him if I could come along to meet you. If it doesn’t work out, Ramsay promised me that he was going to get rid of you. He said he was going to get rid of you in the most…imaginative, amazing sort of ways.” She smiled, her fingers digging into his cheeks. “Now that I have met you, I don’t think I mind sharing him with you that much.” She ran her fingernails over the scars on the back of his neck, racking over his skin till they drew tiny beads of blood. “As long as he’s going to share you with me.” She pressed her cherry lips onto his, silencing his frightened whimpers, her large brown eyes flashed dangerously when she curled her tongue around his inside his mouth.

She tasted of the stink of Ramsay’s dogs.

She was still kissing him right till the loud barking of Ramsay’s pack came down the staircase. She quickly released him and got up, wiping the corners of her mouth with the back of her hand, before running her fingers across Petyr’s lips to remove all visible remnants of her lipstick from his face. “Mustn’t get Ramsay jealous.” She whispered with a mischievous smile, giving him a playful wink.

“Ah, you chained him up already.” Ramsay exclaimed when he finally appeared with his violent pack of hounds. “Well, that’s not much fun.” He added, with a touch of disappointment on his face. He jerked hard on the leashes to keep his overexcited dogs from tearing Petyr to pieces. “Oh.” He gasped, his lips suddenly pulling into a wide grin. “Where are my manners? You would think that I grew up in a barn or something. Littlefinger, this is Myranda. She is my special lady friend. I met her during one of those dog training courses my father made me attend. The course was an utter bore, but she definitely wasn’t. You might not think much of her by the way she looks." Ramsay added, eyeing her adoringly. "A sweet, frail little thing with little meat on her bones, but she is fearless.”

“I would say so.” She concurred, her lips pouting a little when she smiled back at Ramsay.

“Myranda.” Ramsay continued. “This is the little lunatic I was talking to you about.”

“I thought he would be.” Myranda pretended to study Petyr for a while. “You never said that he was already so damaged.”

“Well, you know me. I can play a bit rough some times.“ Ramsay laughed.

“And he looks mad.”

“That is not entirely my doing.” Ramsay pointed out. “I think poor Littlefinger here hasn’t been completely sane for a very long time.”

“So…what are we going to do with him now?” Myranda asked, leaning into her lover, her long dark curls cascading down over his shoulder.

“The run was very disappointing, but that’s not the fault of the dogs. They couldn’t help that Littlefinger over here is so completely rubbish. Still, they found him, so, they deserve a little treat for their efforts.” Petyr whimpered in distress when he saw Ramsay bring out his Swiss army knife. It was the same one he had used to flay his fingers. Ramsay was about to cut away whatever part of him that he deemed redundant to feed to his dogs, when Myranda stopped him.

“You want me to make it a little more exciting and less boring?”

“What do you have in mind?”

She glared down at Petyr as she ran the tip of her tongue over lips. “I want to watch one of your dogs fuck him while you make love to me.” She whispered to him.

Ramsay’s eyes grew large with excitement. The way that woman’s pretty little head worked, always exactly knowing how to please him, and never, ever boring, made him love her more than any of those other girls who had the great misfortune to ever run into him.

“You hear that Littlefinger?” Ramsay told him. “Myranda wants to see you get fucked by one of my dogs. Now what do you say to her? And remember your manners. Remember to be polite to my lady.”

“P-Please D-don’t miss. P-Please d-don’t let h-him.” Petyr blurted out, truly terrified as he pleaded with Myranda.

Ramsay slapped him hard across his bruised face.

“No you idiot.” He hissed. “Try again.”

Petyr swallowed the blood in throat. “P-Please R-Ramsay, don’t l-let your dogs f-fuck –“

Ramsay hit him again. This time he made a fist, and his knuckles collided with the already oozing head wound.

“God! This is getting tedious.” Ramsay sighed, getting dangerously close to being bored with him. “You were supposed to beg to be fucked by my dogs you fucking retard! It’s your choice really. My poor hounds are both ravenous and irritated. So, either you become their next chew toy, or you listen to Myranda, and let one of them play with you for a little while. Now, what is it going to be?”

“No, no, p-please d-don’t feed me to them.”

“Good. A very wise choice indeed. Now say it to my lady friend.”

Petyr looked down at the ground, biting his lower lip till it bled as he fought again his tears.

“The d-dogs c-can f-fuck me.”

“Eh, eh, eh, manners Littlefinger.” Ramsay reminded him. “And look at the girl when you plead with her. Myranda doesn’t even know that you are talking to her.”

Petyr looked up at Myranda, his anxious eyes begging her to be merciful, but she just gazed down lazily through her long lashes, pouting her lips. “Go on then, I am still waiting.”

“P-Please miss, p-please l-let the d-dogs f-fuck m-me.” Petyr stuttered in a small, broken voice, his tears now falling freely.

Ramsay selected the biggest, meanest looking beast to do the dirty deed and let Myranda chain up the rest of the pack at the other end of the underground chamber.

When Ramsay pulled Petyr’s pants down to his ankles to expose him to his hound, Petyr sobbed uncontrollably, his whole body shaking of the horror he was forced to go through, and clenched his buttocks in fright when the wet nose of the creature brushed over the bare skin on the inside of his thighs. The hound then climbed on top of him, the weight of the large beast held him down to the cold muddy ground as he whimpered and squirmed. When it finally thrust into him, he could no longer hold his silence and he cried out in horrendous pain and shame. Somewhere in the back of his rapidly unravelling mind, he still feared that Ramsay was going to punish him for this, but Myranda had her sadistic lover pinned down against the opposite wall. Her hand slipped down eagerly inside his pants while she pressed her lips onto his. Ramsay swirled her around and threw her against the wall, lustfully kissing her neck and shoulders as he unzipped to free his fat erect cock and pulled down her panties to enter her. As her lover started to thrust into her, Myranda stared at Petyr over Ramsay’s shoulder, her cherry lipstick now a vibrant smear around her open gasping mouth. It widened into a deeply satisfied smile, and her cheeks flushed bright red with arousal when she saw how the beast on top kept pushing into Petyr. Harder, faster, and deeper, every muscle of the disgusting creature trembling of excitement, while Petyr shivered like a wounded little animal, screaming and crying and slowly losing his mind with each assault.

When his tormentors had finally finished, the hound was still not ready, but poor Petyr was by now a complete wreck. A string of ineligible pleads and whimpers still came from him, but the shock had long since detached his mind from all of his physical actions. His cries were like echoes rippling through an empty vessel. Not even Ramsay’s severe scolding and horrible threats could return him to his senses and make him stop.

“Let me try.” Myranda told her lover. She came so close that he could smell the stink of Ramsay’s sweat on her. He yelped and shuddered when her hands, warm and soft, reached between his legs and grabbed hold of his shrivelled limp cock. She started to rub it between her fingers, pulling hard and rhythmically, while her well polished, red painted nails dug deep into the soft sensitive skin of the head. Pain and pleasure began to hit him in consecutive waves. Soon, each demeaning thrust of the beast on his back was melting together with the growing sensation in his cock into one overwhelming tide that began to ravage his body. He began to moan softly, gasping for air between each stroke and prod.

“You see, much better now.” Myranda voice was all poison and sweet sticky honey. “It’s no fun if you don’t enjoy it. This is a treat. Not a punishment. You ought to be thankful, not cry and scream like you’re being whipped. You can save that for later.”

Petyr just looked at her with an almost deranged, mindless gaze in his eyes. His swollen cock was now rock hard and locked in painful want, dripping needily. Still she continued, skillfully bringing his whole body to a squirming and quivering state in which he could think of nothing else but release. Then she stopped. 

Petyr never had sex before. Not in this cursed existence. Chaste kisses were all he ever had received from Cat and Sansa. They had given him a warm and happy feeling deep down inside him, but this…this was different. This was mad frustrating agony. His whole body was left trembling of violent want. The muscles in his thighs were spasming of need. He began forcing himself back into the hound’s prodding cock, animalistic instincts taking over from whatever little mind he had left. The dog’s cock invaded deeper and deeper inside him, increasing speed and force as it repeatedly hit and stimulated a spot deep down his belly that somehow could fill in that horrendous gap that was left behind by Myranda. The tender age grew till it first overwhelmed, and then consumed him. He felt the dog’s cock jerk and spasm inside him at the same time as his own began, and for a moment, he couldn’t breathe, his body doing things beyond his control. He came violently, the dog's warm sticky wetness filling him up till it dripped from between his buttocks down his thighs, while his own seed spewed out and leaked down from his poor abused cock.

The hound finally pulled out, leaving him soiled and traumatized.

“There, you see how enjoyable this is?” Myranda cupped his chin again to make sure he was looking at her while she petted his sweaty curls. “I knew you would learn to like it.” She gazed up at Ramsay. “We should do this more often. Train him to love this without the need of me giving him a helping hand.”

Myranda’s sick sadistic cruelty made Ramsay’s heart just overflow with mad adoration for her. He pressed his lips on her mouth hard. His hand dived under her thin sweater to pinch her hardened nipples.

Petyr didn’t want to look at her. He may have lost his wits. He may be severely damaged by this horrible experience, but he understood perfectly well what just had been done to him. From the moment the Gods had punished him and he was no longer aware of his past self, from the moment he was no longer Littlefinger and became Petyr Bealish, a vulnerable young man, trapped in King’s Landing, he had never truly hated anyone. Even the most horrible things that Ramsay had ever done to him, he had been able to forgive.

This was different.

This he would not be able to even ever forget. She had taken something from him. Something special that was supposed to be wonderful and precious, an act of love that should to be pure and affectionate, and had perverted it into something ugly, vile and horrifying. He felt so sickened by himself, so utterly disgusted, so terribly ashamed of what he had allowed her to do to him. He loathed himself and he hated her for it. He hated Myranda so much that he didn’t even know that he had it in him to despise someone so. But he had little time to come to terms with it. For Myranda was also right. There was still time to make him scream and weep again. This time, there would only be pain.

They stripped him naked, cuffed his wrists and chained him up from a wooden beam in the ceiling. Ramsay took off his belt, and used the end with the metal buckles to whip him. Petyr was struck repeatedly on his back, his chest, his groin, his legs and his arms, the metal part rending and shredding skin, creating one injury on top of the other, till all of the red lashes burst open. And as he received this merciless flogging, he screamed, and begged, and cried, whilst Myranda watched him bleed, her head nudged in the nook of Ramsay’s thick sweaty neck, her thin fingers caressing her sadistic lover’s back. 

When it was finally over and he was released from his chains, he collapsed on the muddy ground. A scarred, bruised, abused bag of skin and bones that cried blood and tears. His voice was raw and hoarse, but he continued to weep and plead, his speech an incoherent string of gibberish while he trembled uncontrollably of all the pain and suffering he had endured.

Ramsay stared down at him, nudging the tip of his shoe against his cheek.

“Hey Littlefinger. We’re done here. You can stop now.” He told him, looking a bit unsure.

But Petyr didn’t stop. He couldn’t. It all hurt too much.

“Oh dear.” Ramsay muttered with an apologetic smile. “I think I went a bit too far. I think I broke him.”

“He just needs a rest.” Myranda’s hand slipped inside one of Ramsay’s pocket. “The poor soul has gone through so much.” She produced a capped syringe with a cloudy liquid swirling inside the glass barrel. “You should help him with that.” She told Ramsay and held it out to him.

“I thought we were going to save that for ourselves?”

“You could give him a little bit. There’s more then enough. Besides, didn’t you tell me that the medicine cabinet in unit 5 is bursting with this stuff?”

“I suppose I could always go back to get some more. It’s not like they are noticing anything.” Ramsay replied after he had thought it through. “All right then, you’re lucky mate.” He crouched down beside Petyr, who cringed when he heard his tormentor’s voice come so close. “Easy now.” Ramsay spoke, suddenly gentle. “I told you it’s over. I am not going to hurt you anymore for today. You did very well, and my lady friend thinks you deserve another treat.” Ramsay took hold of his arm and after turning the inside upwards, tapped on the largest, easiest accessible vein that he could find. “This will help to calm you down.” He took off the cap and stuck the needle in Petyr’s arm, injecting the drug into his blood stream. “Hush now.” Ramsay told him, when Petyr let out a frightened moan. “It’s going to help you sleep. Easy now. Easy.”

Ramsay Bolton and his sadistic girlfriend from hell started to fade away. The pain and the trauma started to fade away. His laboured breathing slowed and his heart beat calmed down while the drug coursed through his system, turning his veins into rivers of ice. His head slumped into the muck while his eyes rolled back inside his skull.

 

5.

Darkness at first.

But then there came light.

He was no longer in that dreadful place.

He was nine, a young ward in the household of lord Hoster Tully, playing in the Godswood of Riverrun with Cat. He had just climbed up a tall maple tree and had helped her up the final branches to reach a blackbird’s nest. The chicks had long fled with the final days of summer. Only egg shells were left behind. One egg was almost intact. It was blue, like the sky in summer, with a gentle dusting of black dots. Protected in a layer of soft black and white down feathers, it looked more beautiful and precious to him than any priced jewel that may exist in the whole wide world. He wanted to share this with Cat.

Petyr was a late spring child. Born in the Fingers, a land with little distinction between the seasons except for it being either too cold, or too wet, the sweetest time of his childhood was when he was fostered at Riverrun, during the golden years of a long Tully autumn. The trees in the woodlands surrounding the great lakes, rivers, and rolling meadows had turned into a symphony of brilliant yellows and reds that reminded him of Cat’s auburn locks. The sun, though low and early setting, was still bright and relatively warm. On cloudless days, when the sky was blue and basking in the glow of the sun’s radiance, his entire world would turn into gold.

But it was on that day, that his long and beloved autumn would come to an end.

The sky had been white the entire morning. The air had suddenly turned unusually cold. Then the first white crystalline particles came drifting down. One landed on his cheek. The cold stung him, like a tiny little nip from a thin needle. Curious, he held out his hand and caught a few more, and saw that the particles were white and glistening, right before they dissolved into nothing in the palm of his hand.

“Cat? What is this?” He was smarter and knew more than he should for his age, but he had never really seen snow before. Caught by the fragile beauty of this strange miracle, Petyr stuck his tongue out to catch the flakes. They tasted like wind swept rain as they melted in his mouth.

Cat was four years his senior. She still remembered a little of the spring snowstorms of her earliest childhood. “It’s snow Petyr.” She told him with a smile.

“I think winter is finally here.”

The days became much shorter, the air much colder. Petyr learned about snow and frost. He still frequently left the castle with Catelyn. They went riding together over the meadows, Petyr clinging onto her waist, his heart fluttering wildly inside his chest, while Cat raced her favourite horse over the frozen grasslands. Cold wind swept her long billowing locks into his eyes. Hooves shattered the frozen mud pools into thin shards, fracturing them like brittle glass. When they reached the woodlands, Petyr could no longer hear any birdsongs. There was only a chilly silence and the howling of the wind, sweeping through the bare skeletal branches of the trees. More trips to the forest with Cat followed. Petyr started to find many of his beloved summer song birds on the forest floor. They were frozen and still, lying on crystallized beds of crisp dried brown leaves.

Even in death, they were still beautiful.

He took them home, kept them in wooden boxes filled with straw in his bedchamber. He frequently took them out, gently stroking the delicate feathers, while studying their beaks and tails. He cradled their tiny bodies in his hands and breathed his warm breath over them, comforted by the naïve sort of belief in miracles that only a child could have, that it might perhaps still be possible, if you wanted it badly enough, to bring something you loved back to life. He never succeeded of course. In the end, it was Edmure who complained about the stench and the vermin that came from Petyr’s room, and urged his father to order him to get rid of it. Petyr, although angered and much resenting Edmure, did comply, and together with his foster uncle Brynden, who seemed to understand these sort of things, he secretly buried the birds in the frozen ground under the ancient heartwood tree in the Godswood. He wept when the earth was scattered over their tiny bodies. He was very relieved that Cat was not there to see him like this.

Instead of scolding him, uncle Brynden gave him a long hug and called him a silly soft-hearted boy. He also told him that these were rather silly tears, but if he needed to shed them, better to do it now, so he would never have to do it again. 

He later came to understand what his kind foster uncle had meant to tell him. There were worse things in this cruel world that could happen to you than the grief he once experienced for his small loss.

Now, he even knew better than anyone else that there were a hundred million, more justified reasons for weeping his bitter tears.

As the drugs spread out over his body via his blood stream, he felt like he was one of those frozen birds he had buried so long ago. Wings stiff and tucked away against their sides, eyes glazed, every organ and muscle turning into ice.

Snow fell down from a vast white sky.

It was slowly burying him.

He was not a child anymore, but a dead thing. Abused, broken and degraded, left behind by Ramsay Bolton to die of neglect. Naked and cold, he lay curled up in a thick carpet of snow, frozen from head to toes.

“Petyr?”

His eyes were glazing over, a dusting of frost clung to his eyelashes, but he still saw her there. A snow maiden, dressed in a purple gown and dark blue cloak. Her hair a free falling long cascade of auburn. Her eyes a deep cold blue. She came to him, his name once again passing her lips. Lips, he remembered, that were soft and warm, and tasted like the last of summer fruits.

She knelt down beside him in the snow, removed her cloak, and wrapped it tightly around him.

“Petyr?”

He struggled to speak. His own cold lips were too frozen, and there were too many words that all want to spill out from his heart at once. In the end, he managed to speak only one. It was a word that was far more important to him than help, or please or even mercy.

“S-Sansa.”

His voice was the faintest of shivered whispers, yet she still had heard him. The smile she returned to him was enough to make the thick layer of ice that covered over his heart thaw.

“You’re freezing. Let’s get you inside.”

She helped him up and guided him into the great stone building surrounding the snow-covered garden. She helped him up the stairs and brought him to a tower chamber, where a warm fire was burning inside the hearth.

She let him sit and soak in a warm bath in front of the fire and washed his bruised skin and cleaned his wounds. Warmth dripped down his spine when she cupped her hand and carefully trickled handfuls of water over his fresh lashes, her fingers gently tracing the red swollen lines. It still made him wince repeatedly, but he didn’t try to stop her. With each one of her caring touches, his body thawed and softened, warm blood slowly returning to his organs and limbs. Sansa did for him what he could not do for his poor frozen summer birds. She brought him back to life.

Sitting there silently, with his knees drawn up close against his belly, his confused mind gradually regained some focus. When his wounds were clean, she took a pair of scissors and cut his mad long tangle of hair, using a fine comb to brush it out and remove the dog lice. She then returned with a shaving knife. The blade gleamed in the orange glow of the fire. Petyr gazed up at her, a touch of fear in his eyes.

“Do you trust me?” She asked.

He hesitated, but then nodded, for there could be no truer answer. When she nudged his chin up to expose his throat to her and brought the blade to his skin he did not wince even once. Gently, she shaved off his beard that had grown thick and rugged during the long months of neglect, and left his face as smooth as it used to be when he was in his twenties. When she washed the soap lather from his face, she cupped his cheek and rubbed with her thumb over the bruises that have now become visible after the beard was gone. Petyr closed his eyes and leaned into the warm wet softness of her palm, eager to be touched by her. When her thumb traced the cuts in his lower lip, he parted his lips and whimpered softly, a shiver rippling down his spine. He had missed her so much. Now she was finally here, he didn’t want her to let go of him. But as with most of these rare blissful moments, they never lasted for very long.

She cleaned up, washing the blade in the now tepid water before drying it on a towel. Petyr just gazed at her timidly while he sat silently in the now pink and dirty bath water.

“You want to ask me something? Just ask.” Sansa told him.

There were a million things that he wanted to know, but he asked her the most important one.

“Are you real?”

“Do you want me to be?”

“Yes. More than anything.” He whispered, his voice small, but full of yearning.

“Then I am real. I am real to you. That’s all that matters.” Sansa came over to him with a towel. Petyr struggled to get up. Water dripped from the wet strands of hair on his chest and groin. She helped him to dry himself.

“There is another question that you want to ask.” She wrapped the towel around his shoulders and let him step out of the wooden bath tube, carefully guiding his actions. “You have asked it so many times before in your mind, whenever someone was tormenting you. You asked it just a moment ago, when Myranda let Ramsay’s dogs do those horrible things to you. You asked it again and again when Ramsay broke and flayed your fingers and whipped you mercilessly. You didn’t dare to speak it out loud to any of them. But you can ask me.” She gazed at him with her azure blue eyes, silently telling him to trust her.

Petyr knew what she meant. He gazed down at his ruined hands, the words all choked up in his throat. “Why.” He finally muttered, chewing on the cuts of his lower lip. “I just don’t understand why.”

He didn’t hurt anyone. He wasn’t a bad person. He had tried to be kind and forgiving and helpful to everyone. He had tried to be good, but the world had only punished him cruelly for it, and he just couldn’t grasp why.

“I can tell you why.” Sansa said. “I can tell you the truth, if you really want to know. Do you want to know, Petyr? Because if you do, you will have a chance. You will be able to get away from all this. You will be able to leave the Red Keep and King’s Landing. Ramsay, Myranda and all the others, they won’t be able to hurt you anymore. You will be safe. But it’s not going to be easy. You will have to be brave and really want to know the whole truth, no matter how hard that turns out to be.”

“If I get out…will I still be able to be with you then?”

Sansa’s lips curled into a sad, gentle smile. “Yes. I promised you, didn’t I? I said that I would help you to return home.” She took the silver mockingbird that still dangled from a cord around his neck in her hand, gently caressing it.

“So please Petyr, for all that what you want most in this world, please say yes.”

“Yes.” He complied without a second thought, gazing at her and drowning in the deep blue of her eyes. Whatever that was required of him to be with her, he would always do.

“That’s all I wanted to hear.” She let go of the mockingbird and returned the little charm to its position, close to his heart. She went and came back with a pile of clothes that she had taken out from a wooden chest. “Here.” She said as she handed it over to him. “I’ve made these for you." The gentle smile she gave him made his heart flutter inside his chest. "Go try them on. I had to make a few guesses, but I think they will fit.”

There was a set of warm undergarments, together with a long black cloak and a dark brown tunic with silver threads woven into the fine shining fabric, patterned with silver birds. Lying on top was a silver mockingbird pin.

“This looks different from the one you’ve given me.” Petyr told her after he had dressed himself and looked into the mirror, studying the silver pin placed just beneath his collar and right above his heart. The clothes hid most of his wounds and scars, as it always had done. If it wasn’t for his mad tangle of curls, his clean shaven face and the haunted look in his eyes, he could have mistaken himself for the man he used be when he was first named master of coin at King Robert’s court.

He was right. The silver mockingbird that he had received from her before he arrived at the asylum and which he now carried around his neck, had the same short beak, the same ladder-like markings on its tail, and the same large circle around the eye. But instead of tucked-in wings, it was taking flight, its wings spread out in a delicate V shape.

Sansa was standing behind him. Petyr gazed into her eyes through her reflection in the mirror.

“You used to have this one.” She said, and tucked on his sleeves to adjust the length. “The little silver mockingbird with the wings folded and perched on a branch. You’ve designed it yourself, just like the clothes you now wear. A self-made man, dressed to make a good long lasting impression.”

She turned him around to face her. “Do you know where you are?”

He wanted to say no, but then he remembered. The sky garden in the snow surrounding the castle. The 6 towers, tall and narrow, piercing into the white winter sky, like lances stabbing into the clouds. The thin mountain air that he had breathed into his lungs when he first woke. 

“The Eyrie.” He said. With that one word came back a whole world of forgotten knowledge. His mind was flooded with memories of a past life associated with this strange castle in the clouds, so high up the mountains of the Moon, that it was basically impregnable to any attack. The archers of the Vale down in the valley below, who were guarding the three gates that everyone must pass to get to the peak. The narrowness of the path that limited passage to a single file ascend, leaving his enemies vulnerable to a gruesome death by a rain of arrows. There was also the knights of Vale, one of the most ancient and well trained armies still standing in Westeros, who were at his command as lord protector. And then there was at least a thousand miles of distance between him and Winterfell, between him and the Bastard of Bolton, and that deranged sadistic woman that Ramsay took as his paramour.

Petyr’s heartbeat slowed down. There was no reason for him to be afraid. He was safe here high up in the mountains, here in the Eyrie, with Sansa by his side.

She gazed back at him and narrowed her deep blue eyes. A faint smile curled her lips. “That’s correct. Do you remember what happened here?”

A lot had happened here, but none of it could explain to him better the reason why, than the one name that came up from the back of his mind.

“Jon Arryn.” He whispered.

That was what happened here. That was how it all first started.

 

TBC

 

Chapter Text

NOTES:

Suggested music tracks:

Here with me

For part 1

Guilty

For part 2

 

1.

I won’t go

I won’t sleep

I can’t breathe

Until you’re resting here with me

 

I won’t leave

I can’t hide

I cannot be

Until you’re resting here with me

 

Here with me - Dido

 

Three days ago

The city center of Edinburgh during Christmas time was almost like a scene stolen from a fairy tale. The Edinburgh castle on Castle Rock in the distant hills was illuminated in a dreamy golden glow against the dark blue sky of early evening. Countless Christmas lights, like strings composed of little stars, illuminated the ancient streets, and were reflected by the wet cobblestones, multiplying their numbers till they appeared to be in their thousands. A warm sense of joy filled the cold wet air. Everywhere she looked, people were in festive and cheerful mood. Parents were shopping with their children. Coworkers and friends met up outside of busy pubs, and young lovers were strolling hand in hand along the beautifully decorated and brightly lit shop windows.

Sansa gazed longingly at a young couple that had just stopped in front of her. A young man with a scruffy beard and a dark nest of curls adjusted the girl’s woolen hat, and draped his long scarf around her neck to protect her from the cold.

This kind innocent gesture tugged on her heart strings and made her feel deeply depressed.

“Are you still not done yet?” Jon asked, as he finally caught up with his sibling. He had been carrying at least 9 heavy bags of shopping through the overcrowded streets for a full hour now, and was starting to fear that this exquisite form of torture was not ever going to end.

“Are you getting tired already?” Sansa teased him, forcing herself to stop feel anything and for her focus to return to the task at hand. She turned to her half-brother, her lips faking a smile. “We still need to do the other half of the list.”

“Are you sure we need to get more?” Jon asked. “The shops are only going to be closed for 2 days. It’s not like we are preparing for the end of the world. How are we ever going to finish all this?”

“Mom said that it’s better to be well prepared than sorry. Besides, we’re done now with food shopping. It’s gifts that we’re after.”

Jon let out a long tired moan. “This is getting ridiculous. Didn’t we already have something for everyone? How much more stuff do we really need?”

“It’s all in the name of the good festive spirit of greed.” Sansa told him with a smile and a wink. “Let’s see. We still need to get the new power drill toolset mom wanted to give dad this year. Oh, and we need to get the 3 bottles of premier cru champagne for uncle Edmure and his new wife, and his ex-wife…at least if aunt Roslin finally decides to show up with the kids at Christmas dinner this year. Otherwise we will just have to drink it ourselves again I suppose.”

“But that’s going to weigh a ton together. I can hardly carry this around as it is.”

“I hope you’re not expecting me to help you out.” Sansa told him, crossing her arms over her bosom. “We agreed that I am the brain behind this operation, and you are merely the muscles?”

“I guess not.” Jon sighed, rolling his eyes. He kept reminding himself how dad had told him that he should try to stay nice to her.

“Do you want to go back to the parking and dump some of that in the back of the car?” Sansa suggested. It was close enough to sound tempting to Jon. She had made sure of that, when she was plotting out their mad Christmas shopping route earlier that day.

As she had expected, Jon quickly agreed, being more than happy to free his hands of the troublesome load. He even let Sansa take his car keys out of his pockets to open the trunk for him. She quickly let the keys disappear inside her own pockets after she had locked it.

“Come.” She told her older brother, hooking her arm around his. “I think we have deserved a little treat after all this work.”

“You mean I deserve a treat. You haven’t done anything. Except for bossing me around all afternoon.”

“That’s really what I do best.” Sansa smiled, and dragged him into a cozy looking café that was conveniently just around the corner of her chosen parking spot.

“Here you go.” She put the pint of ale in front of his nose while she herself settled down with a coke at a table near the window. “And a bowl of peanuts. In case you’re feeling peckish.”

“Wow, you’re really spoiling me here.” Jon said, but his weak frown was already on its way to turn upside down. Soon he was smiling again. He wasn’t really that angry with her. Annoyed maybe. Good old Jon. Always willing to forgive me for anything.

“How are you feeling?” He asked her, after she had been staring out of the window into the darkening street for a while, finding herself studying every face that passed by that reminded her of him.

‘A bit tired I guess.” She turned her eyes back to Jon. “It’s been a pretty long day.”

“That’s not what I meant. Has it been a good day?”

“You mean am I feeling crazy today or not?” Sansa replied to Jon with a hint of sarcasm her voice while cocking an eyebrow at him. “No I feel fine, thank you. I am still taking the prescription pills, so I am not hallucinating at the moment. If that is what you’re so worried about.”

“It’s just that you tend to forget to take them when you’re stressed.” Jon replied, taking a swig from his pint.

“I am not stressed. I am perfectly calm.”

“It’s not every day that dad let’s you go out on your own. So it might be bit stressful to you.”

“I am not on my own.” She told him. “And I have been in the city before. I came here with mom, and dad, and Robb and Talisa. For god’s sake, even Arya has been babysitting me once and a while. There’s really nothing special about today.”

“You still think of him much?”

“Think of whom?” She asked, feigning disinterest.

“That man you met in London two years ago. The one dad said has done something horrible to your head.”

“He has done nothing to me. And I don’t think about him at all. I haven’t for a very long time.” Sansa lied. “I might even have completely forgotten him by now if not everyone keeps reminding me.” She added cynically.

“We’re just worried about you. That’s all.” Jon sighed and covered his eyes with his hand for a moment. It had indeed been a long day, and he was feeling dead tired. He finished his pint. “It’s been almost two years Sansa. You should have gone back to university. I hate to admit it, but you’re the clever one in our family. If that whole thing with that Petyr Bealish bloke had not happened, you would have already graduated from uni by now, probably doing some fancy highflying job in the city. Instead you’re stuck here with dad and Robb on the farm. It’s a waste of a good mind.”

“It’s not like I don’t want to go back to uni. Dad won’t let me.”

“You know why. He’s afraid you’re going to try to get back to London to find him as soon as we let you go out of our sight.”

“Does he now? Really, I am amazed how much faith my own family has in me.”

“It’s not like your track record is giving him much the benefit of the doubt. You’ve tried to run away several times after you came back to us.”

“That was a whole year ago. I haven’t tried anything since then, did I?”

“I guess not.” Jon blinked his eyes slowly, covering his mouth to hide a long yawn. “I am sorry. It was a bit early this morning. The thing is, what I am trying to say, is that we all want the best for you. Especially mom and dad, they really want you to do well.” So please don’t disappoint them. He begged her with his eyes.

“I know.” Sansa stared down into at her coke to avoid his gaze. “You had your job interview at the recruitment office early this morning, didn’t you?” She asked, trying to distract him and change subject. “How did that go?”

“Better than expected I guess. They were asking me why I wanted to become a police officer. I just told them I don’t like dishonest people. Honestly, they make my skin crawl.”

Sansa’s lips curled into an amused smile. “What did they say?”

“That it’s a very good reason to join the police force.” Jon replied, smiling himself. “So they signed me up for a course to get the right certificates to start at police constable level. They will send me the official documents next week.”

“I can’t believe this.” Sansa laughed, shaking her head. “My brother Jon is going to become a cop. Dad is going to be so proud.”

“Yeah. I hope at least more so than he was when I failed all of my A levels.” Jon jawned loudly. This time he was even too tired to cover it politely. “God, what’s wrong with me. One pint and I am ready for bed.” He rummaged through his pockets for his wallet. “I think we better be going before I am too tired to drive. We can finish mom’s Christmas list tomorrow.” He was about to get up, but Sansa was already standing up and pushed him back into his chair.

“Let me get this.” She told him. He was already as weak as a kitten, but she figured that he might need another minute or two.

She went over to the cash desk and pretended to be interested in the pastry products in the cooling display, letting several customers to go before her. She only went to the front of the line after she had glanced over her shoulder, and saw that Jon had slumped down in his chair, his eyes shut with his mouth slightly open. When she came back to check on him, she noticed not without relief, that he was snoring loudly. She had dissolved four crushed up sleeping pills into his pint, not sure how many she should give him, and was glad that she didn’t accidentally give him too much.

“I am sorry Jon.” She whispered to him. “But I cannot leave Petyr behind.”

She produced a letter that she had written for her family, and left it there on the table with him.

“I will come back. I promise.”

She turned around and left the shop, her hand grasping for Jon’s car keys inside her pocket.

 

2.

Yes I am guilty

Don't come near me

The one thing I'm good at is messing up somebody else

 

Baby, I am guilty

I am turning sweet love into poison

And I got the scars, if you're talking about hurting yourself

 

Baby, I am guilty as hell

 

Guilty - Pamela Faith

 

When asked, lord Bealish, the master of coin, would always tell others that he had learned his life’s lessons from the unfair way the world had once treated him. Even when questioned by Sansa, he would still justify himself by saying that all of his scheming, calculative ways were but a response to a trigger, an effect to a cause. In his mind, he was a self-taught master manipulator, birthed by the loss of his beloved Cat and the horrible humiliation he had endured at the end of Brandon Stark’s sword. He needed no-one to become the man he was.

But deep down, Petyr knew that that was just a cartload of horseshit, a convenient lie he told others, and which he gladly repeated to himself. Every child needs a father and mother to give him life. Every child also needs a mentor to teach him the ways of the world.

Petyr Bealish had two tutors. The first carved the young olive branch into knife, the second honed the blade till it was cut-throat sharp.

One of them was Jon Arryn.

He had just returned from the land beyond the narrow sea. A 22 year old, fresh faced youth, arriving at the docks of the windswept barren coast of the Fingers, he was already well trained in ways that the more privileged lords of greater houses with their rigid mantra of family pride, duty, and honour, would have little knowledge of.

The old lord of Bealish keep had finally died.

Being the sole surviving heir of his house, Petyr was finally allowed to return home to inherit the land and title that his father had left behind. Not that it was much of an inheritance. It had been 7 years since his father had sent him away to Braavos to hide out the shame that he had brought to his own family. Once, Petyr had been a scared, homesick boy, full of remorse for having failed his father’s grand expectations. Now, if he felt anything toward the dead old man, it would be indifference, and cold resentment for his cruel banishment. Still, he played the dutiful and remorseful son at his funeral. When he lit the pyre and watched the frail, shrunken figure being consumed by the flames, the only thought that popped up in his head was why it had taken so bloody long for such a sickly old man to die.

I could have returned home years ago. 

Within an hour after Petyr had received the keys to the ruins of what was supposed to be his ancestral home, he left again. Determined of his goals, he rode South to the Vale to pay his respect to the lord of the Eyrie to which his small house had sworn fealty.

The truth was that he did not feel at home in the Fingers anymore. It was a place too barren and small for his ambitions. He wasn’t going to stay and rot on this stretch of cold coastal rocks for the rest of his life, like his father had done. His old man was a dreamer and a coward, who had projected all of his hopes and aspirations for advancing the family name onto his only son, while he himself hid on a rock and did nothing.

Petyr was a dreamer too, but he wasn’t a coward. Not anymore. During his forced stay on the continent, he had learned that a man’s life could easily be cut brutally short. He didn’t want to worry about how long his life was going to be. He wanted to worry about what he could achieve while he was still alive. He could live as long as his father did and die in a warm bed, accomplishing nothing and watching his dreams turn to dust.

He wanted to take charge of his life, for however long it may last.

And if he had to gamble all he had, to get what he wanted, he would.

Times had much changed since he had left for the continent. War was now ravaging the Seven Kingdoms. The journey took longer than anticipated, for he had to avoid the regions with active combat. He was also careful to avoid the war-torn lands that were left in ashes by the king’s army, not keen to be reminded what such a horrendous conflict could do the helpless.  

Lysa’s reception when he finally arrived at the Eyrie was as warm as he had expected it to be from the many secret letters that she had sent him over the years. Likewise, Lord Arryn’s reception was, as he had anticipated from what he had learned from the young wife about his aging husband, far more sceptical.

“Lysa told me that you are very good with matters of finance.” Jon Arryn said to him, after the old lord had offered him his condolences, and they had withdrawn to his study. “She calls you a sorcerer. She says that you can rub two gold dragons together, and breed a third.” He added with an amused grin.

Petyr smiled courteously. “Lady Lysa is too kind. I run a number of small establishments in Braavos. They are indeed lucrative, but it is nothing compared to the great wealth of one of the most noble houses of Westeros.”

“That great wealth, I can assure you, is quickly diminishing.” Jon Arryn replied. He was an exceptionally tall, broad shouldered man in his late sixties, with grey hear and a long beard on a face that Lysa had frequently described to him as being as ugly as the backside of a horse. He also had a long prominent nose that she found absolutely repulsive. How she still managed to share a bed with the old lord and get herself pregnant by him several times already, baffled Petyr. She probably just shuts her eyes, spreads her legs, and thinks of the Tully’s words to keep herself moist and receptive. He thought to himself, holding back a smirk.

“Ah yes. Robert’s Rebellion.” Petyr replied. “Wars are indeed expensive. But I heard nothing but good news about you and your allies, my lord. The Battle of the Trident was an absolute victory. I also do believe that Robert Baratheon has now officially declared his intention to claim the iron throne for his own?”

There was a look of surprise on Jon Arryn’s face. “You're awfully well informed. How long has it been since your return to Westeros, young lord Bealish?”

“Three days my lord, but words travel fast across the narrow sea when the winds are favorable and calm. Besides, I have always kept a great interest in the political affairs of my home land.”

“So, you do still consider Westeros as your home?”

“More so than Braavos will ever be. I am, after all, lord of the Fingers now. Like my father, I remain a loyal servant to the house of Arryn.”

His reply seemed to please the old man. “This war is burning through our reserves like wildfire. The treasuries of the Vale, Riverlands, the Stormlands, and the North, are all running dangerously low.”

“Then why not raise taxes to increase income?”

Jon Arryn stared back at him with an incredulous look in his eyes. As if the very thought disgusts him. Petyr thought most cynically.

“We have already taxed everyone to the limit. If we tax more, the farmers are going to suffer. The coming winter, no matter how mild, will definitely finish them off.”

“You have a charitable heart my lord, but if the treasuries run dry, won’t that dangerously reduce your chances of winning?”

“Of course it will. But what would you suggest, that I act against my conscience? That I disregard my duty and honor as lord and protector, and knowingly enforce ruin onto the weakest among my people, while advising other lords to do the same to their own?”

Petyr could almost feel his own stomach turn in revulsion in response to so much hypocrisy. And here speaks the honorable lord Arryn, who has never been in want of anything in his whole pampered, privileged life. The noble fool just feels so much compassion for those who are more then eager to slit his highborn throat, if that would put an end to this ridiculous war, and bring back the murdered and the slain. If you only knew, old man, what kind of rotten world lies beyond these protective blue walls of your fancy sky castle. A world you have helped to create. You may soon find yourself far less charitable of heart.

But instead of letting his resentment show, Petyr just smiled and said; “No my lord, I suggest that you find another source of income.”

“What other source my boy?” Lord Arryn dismissed, being either too stubborn or too stupid to see the other options that were so clearly available to him. “There is none except for what our tax collectors bring in.”

“Your allies have recently captured Gulltown. The port of that city has always been a key strategic location for trade between King’s Landing and Braavos. Why not make use of this? Intensify trade with the continent. Despite the war, the low lands of the Vale and the vast farm lands of the Riverlands are still rich and fertile. You could use the port to sell surpluses to generate much needed coin.”

“What would you have me sell then? Everything is in short supply as it is!”

“Tax the farmers not in coin but in grain. I have spoken to Maester Colemon shortly after I arrived. He assured me that all the signs are favorable for the coming autumn season to be an exceptionally long one, stretching out the sowing and harvesting time of the more hardy crops with perhaps 2 to 3 years. He also informed me that the granaries in the Vale are all filled up to their ridges. You have more than enough to keep your troops well fed for years. You should collect the next harvest of grain as tax, transport it to Gulltown, and sell it to double your tax income.”

“To whom exactly? Who is going to pay this absurd amount for only grain?”

“The merchants in Braavos my lord.” Petyr smiled knowingly. “The city is thriving, for the whole continent is thriving. Despite of the Dothraki hordes plundering the inland cities, the free cities in the West of Essos are kept safe and support an ever-growing population of immigrants. Have you ever been to the continent my lord? It’s mostly a dry and desolate place. Even the hardiest of crops often fail to grow into a full harvest. One draught, and the people in those cities are either starving, or they will have to pay a little more to import the grain from somewhere else. As it happens, I know a great number of grain merchants in Braavos who like a gamble. They buy in vast amounts and store it in underground granaries, then wait for the Gods to send them dry profitable weather. They will be more then happy to take it from your hand for a most fair price. It will be enough to sustain your payment to your troops. Do this a couple of times, and I swear, you will even be able to let your treasury grow again.”

“Lysa was right about you.” Jon Arryn muttered after a stunned, short pause. “You are clever beyond your years.”

“You flatter me my lord. I am merely applying what I have learned from my many travels to solve this problem that you have presented to me. I would gladly apply more of my knowledge to show you what else I can do to serve you in your noble cause.”

“And how, my dear boy, would you suggest you could serve me best?”

“Appoint me customs master in Gulltown.” Petyr asked boldly. “I will make sure that every cartload of grain will be at least doubled in profit. I also suggest raising custom tax for imported goods. However much I like the Braavosi merchants, they have profited enough by selling their weapons and raw materials to your lordship’s troops and armories. It’s time for them to contribute directly to the war.”   

Naturally, Jon Arryn said yes.

TBC

NOTES: Part 3-5 will be posted this Sunday. See you there! H. 

 

 

Chapter Text

NOTES: Suggested music tracks

Culling of the Fold

Cut him up, boy
You've got to cut him up, boy
He's a wicked disgrace
And he said it to your face
You better cut him up boy

Ply her heart with gold and silver
Take your sweetheart down to the river
Dash her on the paving stones
It may break your heart to break her bones

But someone has to do the culling of the fold

Culling of the fold - The Decemberists

 

3.

After that first meeting, Petyr never thought that it would be very difficult for him to earn Jon Arryn’s complete trust.

What he did not expect however, was how easy it was for him to actually like the old man.

When Robert’s war was over and won, and Jon Arryn was appointed as the new Hand of the king, it was Arryn himself, with only minimal persuasion from Lysa, who suggested that Petyr would be perfect for the position of the new master of coin. Together with Jon Arryn and his household, Petyr moved to King’s Landing to serve in the small council of the new king.

It didn’t take long for young lord Bealish to find his way around in the capital. Under Jon Arryn’s guidance, he learnt many things that he had never imagined would be necessary for him to know, but these new skills soon proved to be vital for his survival at court. His mentor was a just and kind man, but he certainly was no a fool. As wise as he was prudent, he pointed out the many flaws of the noblest families in Westeros, and taught Petyr how to use these to advance their agenda, which was to bring stability to the realm by ensuring the continuity of king Robert’s reign. Petyr worked diligently by Jon Arryn’s side. From early dawn to late in the evening, he was handling the affairs for his own position, while providing much needed support to the aging Hand. He did not need to help him, but he felt much obliged to his old mentor. Although he had long since sworn off such delusive vanities like family duty and honour, in his heart he did believe that it was his duty to protect lord Arryn’s from his many enemies at court. After all, the man had been more a father to him than his real father ever was.

Perhaps, he should have known better than to expect more from Jon Arryn.

“You summoned me, my lord?” Petyr asked when he entered his old mentor’s study in the tower of the Hand, one night in late summer.

Jon Arryn sat behind his desk, his face half hidden behind piles of books and scrolls. “Ah Petyr.” His tired eyes gazed up from his work. “Sit down, I am almost finished here.”

“You shouldn’t exert yourself so much. You are not well.” Petyr noted. It was true. Although most people at court would not know, for the now 76 year old Hand had maintained an appearance of robustness to keep the Lions from his throat. Jon Arryn’s health had severely deteriorated in recent months. Something was bothering the old lord. It was eating away at him. His mentor had, perhaps very wisely, kept his protégée out of it, but Petyr had his own sources now. He already knew it had something to do with his lord’s unusual visits to various brothels, and to the armory at the top of the Street of Steel. “You should rest and let me finish this tedious work for you.” Petyr proposed, truly wanting to help. “Allow me to ask Maester Colemon to prepare something to aid you sleep.”

“No no my dear boy, you did more then enough for me already.” Jon objected, his clouded eyes were swollen and red, the whites carried a hint of yellow. Petyr contemplated how much his mentor had aged in these last few years. And yet, even after more than 10 long years in his service, he still calls me boy.

“If I can’t even go through these documents that you have so carefully prepared for me, I am no longer worthy of being the Hand of the king.” Jon carefully rolled up the scrolls and set them aside. “Petyr, my dear boy. I called you because I needed to discuss an important matter with you.” Jon Arryn looked away from Petyr’s gaze and fiddled with his golden signet ring, indicating to Petyr who knew all of his lord's manners by heart, that he felt uncomfortable and was struggling to find the right words. “I am truly grateful for all the good service you have provided to me all these years." He began hesitantly, gazing out of the window into the courtyard below. "Without your diligence and ingenuity, the crown would have certainly been bankrupted many years ago. I also fear that I might not have lasted this long without your constant aid." He added with a knowing grin. "You have always been my trusted protégée and most loyal confidant.”

“You honor me beyond words my lord, but I regard it as my duty to you. I have learned a great deal from your mentorship. You have been more a tutor and father to me than my own ever was.” He told him truthfully.

“Oh that does my old heart so much good to hear.” Jon Arryn admitted, his strained shoulders sagging a little in relief. He turned around. “Petyr, likewise, you have been like a son to me. I have taught you everything you needed to know to survive at court. You have been a stellar student, my very best." He admitted with a touch of pride. "My previous wards, king Robert and lord Eddard Stark, though they have become good and honorable men, both lacked the mind and the patience to learn much from me about politics. But you, you are a natural.” The old lord granted him a smile. “You seem to thrive when you are challenged by the schemers in this court. You turn the tables on them so easily and call them bluff constantly. You’ve made me very proud my boy…That’s why it pains me so that I have to tell you this now.” He released a long sigh before he dared to speak any further. “I cannot hand my position over to you. I know you believe I will some day. I know you desire it more then anything else, but I shall not convince king Robert to name you Hand in my place after I am gone.”

Petyr felt like he had just been punched in the stomach for no good reason.  

“The truth is, I don’t think that you are the right man for the task.”

“You think I am not the right man for the position?” Petyr repeated very slowly, his head down and glaring up at lord Arryn while bitterness started to poison his heart. “Forgive me my lord, but I am very much confused. Surely you have groomed me to become nothing else?”

“I taught you all what I knew, because the position of master of coin is difficult and dangerous. I tutored you, so you could protect yourself. I wasn’t preparing you to become Hand of the king. Perhaps I did once…in the beginning…” His voice trailed off. There was no use in telling him what might have been. “The point is, the position of Hand is as important for the future of the realm as it is precarious. It requires tact, and stealth, a calm strategic mind.”

“And I have all these qualities and more.” Petyr objected, his usual mask of polite calmness and control slipping off. “You said to me once that the work of the Hand consists mostly of taking care of the king’s wishes, even before the king himself knows what he requires. You know that I excel in that! I have served you in this way for more than a decade. I have long since taken over the burden of many of your tasks, if not all of them. Why are you still unwilling to nominate me?” Why do you still think I am unworthy? Why am I in your eyes, still not good enough?

“My dear boy.” Old Arryn told him, his face strained. “I truly hate to see you so upset. You indeed excel in all of these things, and I admire you greatly for your hard work, your dedication, and your sharp mind. But I have worked with you for many years. I have worked with you side by side, and watched you grow from an uncertain but ambitious young man to a master strategist, a central spill around which the court now revolves. There is one important quality that is missing in your character that makes it impossible for me to name you Hand.”

“And what, my lord, might this enigmatic quality be?” Petyr asked sarcastically, his voice slightly trembling of anger.

“Mercy, empathy, and morality.” Jon Arryn replied. “A softness in the heart that is often considered a weakness, but contributes so much to the wisdom of a man. A true Hand does not require much of each, perhaps a spoonful in whole, but it is an absolute necessity.”

You miss a spoonful of goodness in me? What am I to you? A new recipe for mutton pie that you are trying to adjust? How much of myself do I need to rearrange and renege according to your taste to fit your deluded view of the world?

“Please Petyr, listen to me, the Hand of the king cannot be a ruthless man with no morals.” Jon Arryn tried to reason with him. “He cannot obey the king’s every order only to advance his own position or to save his own hide. When the king takes a wrong decision that could harm the realm or the sanctity of his Grace’s soul, someone has to stand up and correct him. It is the Hand’s burden to risk the wrath of the king for this. He has to act as his conscience. No one else in the small council will. I know you well enough Petyr, to be certain that you will not do this.”

“So, you think I am not a good moral man?” Petyr asked, feeling whatever love he still had for this man wither and die inside his heart. I have slaved away for you for the last 11 years. I have made countless of enemies by helping you to disgrace your own. I have sold my soul to monsters when I helped you to remove those who were a threat to you to protect your legacy, and this is how you repay me old man? By denying me what I so clearly have earned and accusing me for not being honorable enough to deserve it?

“It doesn’t mean that you are a bad man, Petyr.” Jon tried to reassure and comfort him. “I am fully responsible for you. I am the one who has mentored you all these years. If you still have these faults, it is my own failure as a tutor and friend that has led you here.” He shook his head remorsefully. “I pray to the Gods every night to grant me strength that I may tutor you a little longer, so that perhaps in a few more years…” His voice trailed off, but Petyr had heard enough. He had no need for his pity.

“If I am not becoming the next Hand, who will?” He asked, slipping back on the mask and hiding his bitterness as well as he could.

“I have already discussed these matters with the king. In case my health is failing and I am no longer able to carry out my duties, a raven shall be sent to Winterfell to inform lord Eddard Stark that he should come to the capital at once. He shall be named the next Hand.”


“Eddard Stark.” The words rolled over Petyr’s tongue like black poison.That great Northern ox Cat is married off to? In his mind, a picture of that blunt Northerner came up. A long face with a bulbous nose and a jaw like an anvil. A body built to slice and hack things into bits. A solemn gaze with a dim primitive intelligence burning inside the deep-set eyes.

Or was he mistaken, and was this his brother Brandon? All Starks do look alike.

Sure, why not, but why send a raven my lord? Just send Robert’s men out to the docks of King’s Landing. Have them dredge up a lump of rotting wood out of the stinking muck. Bring that over to the small council chamber. Prop it up in the Hand’s chair, paint an eternally depressing frown on it, dress it up accordingly, and pin the Hand’s emblem on its bark. Proclaim that Hand of the king. Compared to your choice of Hand, it wouldn’t make much difference anyway. Both are equally dim, deaf and blind and complete useless to all matters of state.

But Petyr said none of that to Jon Arryn. There was not a trace of his boiling anger and great dissatisfaction that was now slowly eating away at his sanity visible on his face. Instead he smiled calmly at the old lord.

“A very wise decision.” He reassured him with a courteous bow. Meanwhile, his inner cynical voice ranted and raved of how stupid and naïve he was to belief his loyalty to this higher born fool would ever be rewarded. That Jon Arryn would ever consider him anything more than a boy from nowhere with a convenient knack for counting coppers for him to exploit.

He was nothing to him compared to a Stark.

Now, where have I heard all of this before?

“If you would excuse me my lord.” He told Jon Arryn, before he took leave of him. “I want to retreat to my own chambers. I still need to prepare the documents for tomorrow's small council meeting.”

 

4.

Petyr sent his own ravens across the narrow sea to Braavos. 2 weeks later, he received what he had requested from an old friend who had contacts in faraway Lys.

2 days after that, he was lying with Lysa in a soft feathered bed, in a secret bedchamber somewhere in the Red Keep, hidden away from any spying eyes.

He had never allowed her this much intimacy with him before. It was needlessly dangerous, for he had long ago found other ways to manipulate her love for him. This time however, was different. It required from him a little more sacrifice.

“Oh I am not sure anymore Petyr.” Lysa told him as she lay in his arms, her naked body entwined with his, a desperate creeper vine strangling a tree. Her keen sweaty hands brushed over the insides of his thighs, caressing his cock in long eager strokes. He had to force himself to not feel repulsed by it. Last time she had touched him like this, he was recovering from the injuries that almost killed him after his humiliating duel with Brandon Stark, his mind and body heavily intoxicated with the milk of the poppy. The whole sordid affair had ended very poorly, and had left him a lasting bitter aftertaste for Lysa Tully’s affections in his soul.

If it wasn’t for your boldness, I wouldn’t have shamed my family’s name. I wouldn’t have been banished by my own father to the other side of the world to suffer.

He resented her for it, but he didn’t exactly hate her. You cannot hate someone if you have to pretend to love her. Hate is a too strong sort of emotion that does not tolerate lies of affection. So Petyr made sure that his resentment of her never grew into hate, and she remained very useful to him, at least, most of time.

The woman was, except for her constant and complete infatuation with him, as fickle as the autumn winds blowing over the narrow sea. “I am not sure we should do this.” She whined again, staring at him with love-sick eyes.

“Why are you not sure?” Petyr replied, his voice a kind, almost tender whisper. “I thought you said you wanted us to be together?” He expertly brushed her hand away from his cock and ran his finger tips over her hips, stroking the birth marks that lined her soft belly. Lysa shivered under his touch.

She’s been dropping young for the old man like an used-up cow in the field. Petyr thought. A pity for her that all except for one were all still born. As for the one that survives…weak as a starling chick in late autumn. Certainly not much of a survivor.

“Yes I do! With my whole heart, I wish for nothing more.” She told him, her hands now grasping onto his waist, holding onto him firmly.

“Then don’t you want it to be sooner, rather then later? We are not getting any younger Lysa. You know how much I care about you. You know I want to start a family with you. For you to carry my heir.”

“Oh that would be my dream. I long so much to give you a son Petyr! A boy born out of love instead of duty. Our little boy.”

Yes, and if you do, please don’t keep breastfeeding him till he’s even old enough to grow a beard, swing a sword, and fuck a girl. Seven hells, it does things to a man when he keeps being exposed to his mother’s tits for this long.

“Yes.” Petyr sighed, kissing her gently on the nape of her long neck. “Finally, after all these long years.”

“But…Jon has been kind to me. He is the father of my child.”

“Robin is such a gentle hearted child.” Petyr mused. “You know I care about him too, don’t you? In my heart, I still think that he should have been our child. He could have been, if it wasn’t for your father.” He added, keen to evoke her guilt.

“Oh Petyr.” Lysa lamented, her eyes quickly glazed over with tears, like clockwork. “I am so sorry. I am to blame. If I hadn’t told father he wouldn’t have forced me to drink moon tea. I really wanted to preserve our child. Believe me, I really wanted to.”

He let her weep for a while before he moved in. “Come come, my silly girl.” Petyr told her, wiping her tears and cuddling her in his arms, playing her like a skilled musician would a lute. “Lord Tully would have found out eventually.” He kissed her softly on her forehead. “You don’t have to be afraid for your boy. I will treat him as my own. I will be like a father to him, more so even than his own father ever was. And Robin would have you. You mean the world to him. I told you what Jon's plans are. If he stays alive, he will send his own son away to be fostered by Stannis Baratheon, a man who has a stone for a heart and no patience for a precious frail little thing like our sweet Robin. You don’t want to be separated from your son, do you now, my sweetling?”

“Oh no, no. You can’t let it happen Petyr! Please, It will be my death. I would die of grief if they take him away from me!”

“I won’t let it happen. I swear, on my life. I will do everything to keep you two together. You and Robin are my family now Lysa. As soon as Jon Arryn is gone, I will marry you, and we will have another child together. A little brother for sweet Robin to cherish and love.”

“Yes, yes.” Lysa sighed, her lips curling into a hopeful smile. Her eyes filled with longing. “Oh yes, that would make me the most happy woman in the world. I want that so much!”

Petyr smiled back at her, the smile never reaching his eyes, and stroked her long auburn locks that looked so much duller to him than that of her beloved sister. “Then we must proceed with our plan.”

From his bundle of clothes lying on the chair next to the feathered bed, he produced a delicate glass bottle with a swanlike neck that he showed to Lysa. The liquid inside was clear like spring water. Tiny bubbles rose from the bottom when he gently shook it.

Lysa stared at it, her blue eyes suddenly flashed with a hint of alertness. “Is this the poison?”

He nodded back at her in silence.

“Will it hurt him?” She asked, suddenly sounding fearful. “Oh I don’t want Jon to suffer Petyr.”

“Of course not. Jon Arryn is like a father to me. I owe him everything. I would hate to see him in pain.” Petyr reassured her, lying so much now that he wondered why his own heart wasn’t disgusted by the words that came oozing from his mouth. Maybe that last bit of empathy I had left inside my shriveled heart has finally died that night when old Jon Arryn told me I had none.

“A special potion that I have let made by alchemists in Lys. It’s very rare, and costly. It is supposed to be medicinal in a way that it dulls the senses and help you sleep. Take one drop, and you will drift into a dreamless slumber. Take one spoonful, and your sleep will last into eternity.” Petyr held Lysa’s gaze in his blue grey eyes that in a certain angle of light, sometimes seem to carry a hint of green as he handed the bottle over to her. “Don’t fear my love. He will not feel pain. Jon Arryn shall die peacefully in his sleep.”

The truth could not be much more different or far more crueler. The poison was called Tears of Lys. Dissolved in liquids and drunk, it would eat away the bowels of the victim, causing a long, agonizing death that looked like a natural disease of those parts. He knew that it was the right way for old Arryn to die, for he was known to be afflicted in the bowels. It would raise the least suspicion at court. But Lysa would only find out after the foul deed was done, when the father of her child died in excruciating agony, soiling his bed and night gown in blood. But Petyr was sure she would be able to forgive him afterwards. She always did.

“Petyr…” She mouthed with still a hint of reservation in her eyes.

“Lysa, listen to me.” He placed his hands on her shoulders, gently, reassuringly. “Jon Arryn is old. His health is failing. His golden days are long over. He could die today or he could die 20 years from now, not accomplishing much more but to stand in our way from finding true happiness together.” As with every lie he spoke, half of it was true. The old man was certainly standing in his way, preventing him to find happiness, and Jon was indeed old and frail and far over his peak. Someone has to do the necessary culling. Like his other mentor once told him, in this wicked little world, there was no place for the weak.

He took her in his arms, staring straight into her eyes. “I have waited so long for you to become truly mine.” He whispered, plying her heart with every word she had ever wanted to hear. “I don’t want to wait any longer.”

He felt her resolve melt away in his embrace. “Yes.” She whispered to him, her devoted eyes never leaving his. “I will do this. For us.”

“Remember my love. A spoonful in his wine. That’s all that is required.” He paused for a moment, then added. “Perhaps make it two spoonfuls, just to make sure. I do owe my beloved old mentor that much.” The corners of his lips twisted into a cynical half-smile.

This, was how it happened...This, was what had started it all.

A young man’s selfish dreams were trampled on. An old man died as a result, and the whole world started to burn and fall apart.

Many years later, when Petyr found himself trapped in Winterfell after he had declared loyalty to Sansa Stark, he would rather melancholically reflect back on his own life, and wonder, if his old mentor knew what would happen after he had rejected him, would he still find that one spoonful of goodness that was lacking in his heart, so very important after all.

 

5.

Cut him up, girl
Really cut him up girl
He lives by himself
In a hole in a wall
You've got to cut him up, girl


You can take him in a stitch
Dump his body in a ditch
Leave his limbs all naked
That'll teach him how to take it
Better cut him up girl

Because someone has to do the culling of the fold

Culling of the fold - The Decemberists

 

12 months ago.

He woke up in the dark, the steel dog-collar weighing heavy around his neck, the chains rattling between his legs. He was curled up in the mud, still naked, scarred and bruised, shivering of cold, the dirty long strands of his beard and hair crawling with lice. Ramsay kicked him in the stomach to get his attention.

“Look what I brought you.” His warden set down a metal bowl in front of him. Petyr saw that it was filled to rim with wet dog food.

“Go on, you must be hungry. I think I haven’t fed you in days.”

Not wanting to entice his wrath, Petyr tried to pick up to bowl.

“No.” Ramsay told him strictly, taking the bowl back from his clumsy trembling hands and putting it down on the floor. “Listen Littlefinger. I have kept you chained up like a dog. I have whipped you like a dog. I brought you dog food in a dog bowl to feed you. What do you think I want you to do here?”

Petyr knew exactly what he wanted. He crawled up to the bowl on his hands and knees, and swallowing down whatever was left of his dignity, started eating out of it like he was one of Ramsay’s hounds.

His heart leapt into his throat and he froze in terror when he heard Ramsay unzip his pants. A hot stream of piss splashed down on the back of his head and dripped in yellow streams down into the bowl. “Sorry. Sorry.” Ramsay said gleefully, shaking off and tucking it back in. “I really needed to go. Too much coffee this morning. In this cold weather, it does things to my bladder.”

Petyr kept his head down, Ramsay’s piss still dripping from his strands of hair and chin.

“Hey, why did you stop? Go on. It’s all yours.” Ramsay laughed.

Petyr just stared at the revolting mess till Ramsay grabbed him by the back of his neck and pushed his face right down into it.

“I said, eat it.” Ramsay whispered, his soft voice promising pain if he didn’t do as he was told. Petyr sucked in a ragged breath and forced his mind blank before he started to take bits of it into his mouth, fighting hard against the violent impulse to gag and retch it all out, while his eyes teared up from the horrible humiliation he had to endure.

Is this what I have to go through to pay for all of my sins?

He thought of his old mentor on his deathbed. How Jon Arryn had clutched onto his belly, his frail body paralyzed by agony. The once great lord reduced to a helpless wreck who soiled his bed linen with bloody discharge that stank so much that even his guilt ridden wife could not stand to be anywhere near him.

He thought of Lysa, and the look of pure horror and anguish on her face when he sent her to her death, tumbling like a frail bird with broken wings through the Moon door. The maddening grief in her eyes when he ruthlessly tore her heart to pieces as he coldly admitted to her that he had only ever loved her sister, and never her.

And then he realized, this was not going to be anywhere near enough.

Ramsay pulled his head back by his hair, forcing him to sit on his haunches. “It’s a shame Myranda isn’t here today. She would have come in quite handy right now.” He was suddenly terrifyingly gentle, his hand caressing Petyr’s hollow, bruised cheek till it reached his chapped lips, where he forced two fingers inside Petyr’s mouth.

“Don’t be afraid.” Ramsay told him, after he noticed that Petyr was clenching his buttocks in fear. “I am not going to fuck you from behind. I mean, that would be disgusting, wouldn’t it? I am not going to use the same hole one of my dogs just used last night.” His two digits whirled around, feeling around the soft warm wetness of Petyr’s mouth, while the bulge in his trousers grew large and hard. When Ramsay unzipped his trousers again, Petyr let out an anxious whimper.  

“Ah come on Littlefinger. Look at what you just ate. Compared to that, my cock is going to taste like heaven. At least Myranda thinks so. You’re not going to tell me that you think you’re better than her, are you now?”

Petyr shook his head, his eyes wide and pleading for him to not go through with this, when Ramsay’s fat fingers suddenly pulled out.

“Come on then.” Ramsay told him, a wide grin spread over his meaty lips while he took his cock out and readied it with a few strokes along the hardening shaft. “Open wide and swallow like the good little lunatic that you are.”

Petyr realized that the question was no longer why. He knew now why. The question that remained to be answered now was how much. Life had always been a constant bargaining for him. He would exchange one service for a handful of riches, one favor for a much coveted title, sacrifice one piece of his soul to get yet another step closer to his highest goal, till in the very end, his heart felt more like a neat stack of ledgers than an living beating organ of flesh and blood. So now he wondered, how much did he need to endure, how much degradation and torment did he need to suffer, to be able to compensate for all that he had done wrong? How much, before he had atoned for his sins and was allowed to leave this horrible place? How much did he need to go through, before he could be with her again?

In his rapidly unraveling mind, he saw her standing there in the snow. The proud lady of Winterfell in her rigid tight laced dress, a cape of wolf furs draped over her shoulders, her winter heart full of the Tully’s words of family, duty, and honor.

“Let’s play a little game.” Sansa told him, her voice full of steel resolve. “I know you love those so well. Let’s play who’s faster. Will you be able to retrieve your mind and all of your memories and become whole again, before Ramsay breaks you and turns you into a poor imitation of that deranged Reek creature? Come lord Bealish, time is ticking. Aren’t you supposed to be so very clever? You better start taking your fate into your own hands, you better start before there is nothing left of you that is even worth saving. Like you have once told me, in this wicked little world, there is little room for the weak.”

She was so very different from the girl he had known before he woke. She showed him no more kindness, or forgiveness, or even a smitten of understanding. Yet, he still needed her. His bleeding heart longed for her all the same.

He understood what she meant and what she was trying to make him do. He needed to return to the Eyrie and get back to her to finish this game. He tried to do this the only way he knew how.

He let Ramsay use him as he pleased.

The rattling of his chains reminded him of the sound that the copper arm bracelets of one of his whores made when he secretly watched her give head to her demanding customers. He only cried out once when Ramsay finally came inside his mouth and he failed to swallow it all down. To punish him, his cruel warden struck him hard across his face repeatedly, till the white in his left eye was bleeding into pink and his eyelid was swollen shut. Ramsay finished off by kicking him around in the muck, doing it more out of sheer boredom then he was truly interested in causing him any more pain. When he was finally satisfied and was about to leave, Petyr crawled to him through the mud and his own filth and blood, and held on to his leg.

“What?” Ramsay laughed down at him. “You want another serving of what you just got? Is that it?”

It wouldn’t take a genius to understand Ramsay Bolton. He was a sadist who loved to hurt others, but even more than that, he loved to control people. He wanted to own someone so much that the other would not possibly be able to exist without him. It was an even more horrible twisted version of Petyr’s own demons, his own terrible flaws, but knowing this, gave him a chance to use it to his own advantage. 

Petyr knew Ramsay would want him to look pathetic and completely helpless, so he begged, and whimpered and shed tears. He didn’t need to pretend much. Most of it was desperately genuine.

“What do you want?” Ramsay finally asked.

Petyr stretched out his arm and turned the inside up to him. The ugly blue bulge in the pattern of veins underneath his skin where Ramsay had injected him with the drug was still clearly visible to the naked eye.

“You got to be kidding me!” Ramsay laughed. “That’s expensive stuff. Why would I waste that on you again?”

He kept pleading, making mad, pathetic noises that he didn’t even know he could produce while he continued to hold on to him, weeping desperate tears. He had prostituted himself to Ramsay, and now he was begging for his payment.

“All right, all right.” Ramsay finally said, sighing deeply like he was bothered, but actually enjoying to play god for his human pet. “Give me your arm.” He took out a clean glass syringe and filled it with a clear liquid from a small medicine bottle, flicking it a few times to get rid of the air in the barrel.

“Hold still.”

The needle went in and the cold flowed into Petyr’s bloodstream, once again sending it coursing through his veins and turning it to ice. Petyr let go of Ramsay and turned on his back. He stared at the cracks in the ceiling with a deranged but serene look in his eyes. A small smile spread over his trembling lips.

The snow came for him again.

He was back in the Eyrie, standing in the white virgin snow of the sky garden. No longer Ramsay’s desperate tortured animal, but Littlefinger, lord of the Fingers and Harrenhal, lord protector of the Vale, dressed in a thick woolen cloak and a fine tunic. The neatly polished silver mockingbird gleamed proudly under his collar.

And there she was, his only light and salvation, waiting for him in the snow, like he knew she would.

“You have finally returned.” Sansa’s voice was exactly like that when she explained her little game to him, cold, and detached of any emotions. Petyr stumbled over to her, his feet ploughing rapidly through the snow. Despite the visible transition, in his own mind, he was still a broken thing. His arms yearned to wrap around her for comfort, he wanted to bury himself in her embrace and feel her soothing touch again. His remorseful heart was starving for the consolation and forgiveness that only she could provide. But when he came near to her, she held up her hand, and gently but firmly, pushed him away.

“There is no use and very little time for me to comfort your poor injured soul.” She mocked him. “I still have many more things to show you.”

Although anxious and heart broken, he lowered his gaze and moved back from her.

“Shall we go, lord Bealish?” She asked, gazing at him with hard blue eyes.

 

TBC

 

NOTES: Next chapter will be posted next Friday. See you there! H.

 

Chapter Text

NOTES:

Suggested music tracks:

 

For part 1-4

In the Wood Somewhere

 

1.

My head was warm
My skin was soaked
I called your name
‘Til the fever broke

An awful noise
Filled the air
I heard a scream
In the woods somewhere

Dear, in the chase
There as I flew
I forgot all prayers
Of joining you

I clutched my life
And wished it kept
My dearest love
I'm not done yet

 

7 months ago.

 

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

How much was still required, before he had finally paid all of his dues?

How much lord Bealish? Sansa asked.

One dead little psychopath who thought himself king, in exchange for one dead unreliable fool of a drunk, and one fair maiden, whisked away secretly under a heavy cloak of sea mist.

“15000 gold dragons. 1000 paid in advance.” Littlefinger said to the sole heir of house Hollard. A desperate man, he knew, who was out of luck and very much out of options. He snapped his fingers and his scribe threw a bag of gold coins on the table in front of Dontos, whose eyes, despite of the alcoholic haze, began to shine.

“Another 4000 after you give the necklace to Sansa Stark, with the final amount paid to you when you deliver her safely to me.” Littlefinger told him, smiling his most charming smile.

“Think of what you can do with this ser Dontos. You could leave Westeros. Go to one of the free cities on the continent where no-one knows your name or have ever heard of the shame you brought to your house. You could start afresh.”

One bolt, straight through Hollard’s heart, and the due was paid. It made Sansa scream so loud that he had to cover her mouth to silence her while he dragged her away from the side of his ship.

“You killed him.” She said in complete shock. Of course he did. Such a silly naive little gooseling she was. How else to ensure the man’s eternal silence? Only an idiot would trust a fool and a drunk.

 

How much Petyr?

12 cuts.

He hung from the ceiling by his wrists like a piece of ham to be sliced up, gagged with a dirty cloth to stop him from crying out. Unfortunately, he now had the presence of mind to absorb and understand everything, and anticipate the worst. The frightening sound of a Swiss blade snapping out before it ran across the side of his torso. The thin edge slicing underneath the skin and peeling away a strip of just the diameter of a small coin, but so agonizingly, so horrifically long, running from under his armpit all the way down to his thigh.

12 strips of skin that, once Cut away and held in front of his puffy red teary eyes, were fed to Ramsay’s starving mutts.

 

How much lord Bealish?

One dead Stark in exchange for my own Valaryian steel dagger, and a much desired I-owe-you from Cercei Lannister and the crown.

“I do not desire much as a reward, your Grace.” Littlefinger lied to the Lion queen in the presence of her precious little tyrant, faking modesty. “If the Hand of the King has turned traitor and has further ambitions to become usurper, it is my duty as a loyal servant to the rightful king Geoffrey to report this treachery to you.”

“And yet it does not sit well with us that your contributions shall remain unrewarded.” Cercei said, granting him a sour half smile. She knew very well that he required payment, and that she needed him to get rid of Ned Stark. “Whatever your heart desires lord Bealish. If it is reasonable and within our power, I promise, the crown shall provide.”

Littlefinger smiled back at her most courteously, presenting her a perfect bow. “Then I shall for now take that promise as my reward, your Grace. I would also like to take the dagger that lord Stark currently has in his possession. It has a Valaryian steel blade with a fine smooth dragon bone hilt. I admire it greatly. Such fine craftsmanship is rare to find nowadays.” He added with a grin.

The look on Ned Stark’s face when Varys informed him that Renly had deserted his cause was pretty much comical. As if the great lump could not even comprehend that what he believed was the right and honourable thing to do, might not sit well with others, including that selfish little poofter who had escaped the dance, just in time. When the queen took the late king’s testament and shred it to pieces, the shock and even more moronic expression on Ned’s face almost made it impossible for Littlefinger to keep his face straight. After all, he was supposed to be as shocked and concerned about all this as the great lord protector himself.

When the city watch turned on Ned, and started massacring the Stark soldiers like the dumb sheep they were that have been led to the slaughter by their clueless master, Ned’s eyes darted around, still more confused than enraged by the obvious betrayal. Littlefinger finally put an end to the man's misery by pointing a knife at his throat.

“I did warn you not to trust me.” He told him, feeling strangely apologetic for being the one responsible for ending the game of such a poor player. It was almost like drowning a pup in a well, or smothering a kitten in a pillowcase. Far too easy.

It was certainly not granting him the satisfaction he had so hoped for, for finally getting even with the Starks.       

 

How much Petyr?

254 lashes.

Or 256 lashes.

 257.

He wasn’t sure anymore. He wanted to count them to keep his mind from going mad, but it was all too much. Each time Ramsay’s belt made contact, it flayed a piece off him, red lines forming a criss-cross pattern, till his whole body was bleeding and raw, and had turned into a wretched instrument that had the sole purpose of conducting pain and little else.

16 times more did Ramsay let his dogs take him. Every one of those times, it was as shameful and horrific as the first, only now the responses that came from him sounded more mad, with more unhinged screams, and long unbalanced hollering sobs. He had long since discovered that it was best to let go, pretend it was someone else who was being so horribly degraded. He had to, or he might not be able to retain even a smitten of his sanity afterwards. And each time the dogs fucked him, he noticed that Myranda was there, watching and enjoying herself immensely.

He didn’t dare to even cry for mercy any longer. He was pretty sure he didn’t deserve any.

Once, he had done horrible things to other people. Now, horrible things were done to him. 

“Let’s play a game, lord Bealish.” Sansa had said to him, probably to be kind and to help him stay sane. Possibly also to be cruel and to mock him, but he was thankful to her nevertheless. What she offered him was a way to keep from giving up, to keep him fighting. Sansa was right. All of his troubles in life had always been much easier to deal with if he could consider it just a game, with rules for him to master and bend, and pieces for him to control. He was good at playing games. His whole life used to be about winning games. He almost never lose.

Sometimes, he was winning.

He would follow her determinedly through the halls of the Eyrie while she showed him all of his crimes, all what he had ever done to others. They entered one room and they were in Kind’s Landing in the tower of the Hand with him whispering into Ned Stark’s ears. They entered another, and they were on his ship, waiting for favorable winds to set sail in the mist, while his men shot arrows in Dontos corpse to make it sink faster.

With each scene that she showed him, memories came rushing back, and he became a little more his old self. His wits worked better and quicker each time he woke, building his confidence that he could truly win this cruel little game.

Other times he was losing.

When Ramsay went too far, and his weeping and begging were no longer part of a conscious act to get back to the Eyrie and return to her, but a genuine cry for mercy to finally make it all stop. When he thought that this game was taking too much and all he got in return was a conscience that weighted so heavy on him that he could barely stay sane.

He already knew he had deserved this. All of this.

He didn’t want to know more.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

563 lashes. 564…565…565…56…

21 cuts. 22…23…24

And yet…he still wanted to win. Sansa was like a beacon to him, pulling him back to the Eyrie every time he was about to give up. He could not live without the hope of seeing her again, of the promise of a salvation that only she could provide. Without her, he would just surrender to Ramsay and simply go mad.

How much Sansa? He would ask her in his mind, whenever he had failed to convince his tormentor to give him another shot, and he was left in agony and in want of comfort, longing for her presence. His fingers clutching onto to the silver mockingbird, cradling and treasuring it in his trembling digits like it was his own quivering heart.

How much Sansa? He would think when he cradled his torn body back and forth. His head held low and tucked away between his knees. His arms wrapped around himself in a futile attempt to console his own broken spirit. When he forced himself to stop weeping because his eyes were bloodshot and puffy, and because his constant wailing brought him closer and closer to losing and to madness, and dragged him further away from her.

How much Sansa?

How much time do I still have left?

 

2.

“There is not much time left, but it is almost done. You are nearly there.”

Sansa was guiding him once more through the sky castle in the Moon Mountains.

Her attitude towards him had gradually become as frozen and hard as the unforgiving winter ground in the Godswood. Petyr didn’t dare to contradict her, or even to attempt to slow her down, fearing that she might just disappear and send him back to the horrible reality he had so desperately tried to escape. No matter how far in his much forgotten past, or how dreadful the crime was that she was forcing him to remember, he had never failed her. He had never wavered in his steps to follow her. But now, as she passed through the castle gate to enter a small inner courtyard, his heart suddenly picked up pace, and a deeply unsettling feeling crept under his skin.

He slowed down his steps. His boots sank deep into the snow.

“Where are we?” Petyr asked, fearful of the answer.

“You know where we are.” She turned around slowly to look at him.

“Winterfell.” The realization brought nothing but dread to his heart. “You brought me to Winterfell.” He repeated, with a slight tremor in his voice.

“This was the place where your journey ended. Of course I was always going to bring you here.” She replied.

“No.” Petyr licked his lips and spun around. He was about to head back to the gate, back to the safety of the Eyrie, when Sansa stopped him.

“Why are you still resisting?” She asked him almost resentfully. “I thought you said you wanted to be whole again? You said that you would do anything to get out.”

“Yes. Anything, but this. Not this.”

“You need to remember all of it.” She pushed him back. “Don’t you want to leave the Red Keep? Leave purgatory, and go find me?”

Petyr stared back at her, desperately searching for a hint of mercy in those cold azure blue eyes.

“Sansa, please. Don’t do this.” He finally pleaded, trying to speak the truth for once. “I don’t want to remember how I died.”

“Why?”

Because it horrifies me. Because I have a suspicion that it has something to do with you. It would kill me if I found out that it was true.

“I don’t want to know.” Petyr told her in a quiet defeated voice. Even in this strange make-belief world, he was incapable of telling her the truth for long. “Call me a coward if you like, but I am not setting one foot inside.”

“You’re not a coward, lord Bealish.” Sansa replied, her voice full of ice.

And how I hate it when you call me lord Bealish. As if we are mere acquaintances. As if we barely know each other. Am I not more to you? Please tell me that I mean more.

“You used to tell me that you are a betting man.” Sansa continued. “You said you were a gambler who will risk everything he has for a chance to win. I don’t believe you are a gambler at all. I think you are an addict. You’re addicted to winning, because it makes you feel like you’re finally worth something. You’re addicted to your dreams because you’re too terrified to see what is really there for you, only loneliness, rejection, and humiliation. You’re addicted to love. You want to hang on to the illusion of it and even try everything within your power to turn it into reality, because the truth hurts too much and must never be told. That’s why you don’t want to step inside Winterfell.” She paused, stepping back from him. “I am afraid that if you keep doing this to yourself, you shall never find what you’re looking for.”

A cold northern wind swept down into the courtyard and whipped up a dense cloud of fallen snow. Suddenly, he could barely see an inch in front of him. Everything became hidden behind a whirling cloud of cold white particles.

“Go lord Bealish.” Sansa spoke to him through the icy blaze. “Leave Winterfell and run back to that hole where they have buried you. Don’t come back here until you’re ready to face your fears.”

 

3.

6 months ago.

She had completely abandoned him.

It didn’t matter how much drugs was injected into his system when he was finally rewarded for going through all the seven hells of Ramsay’s exquisite tortures, Sansa would not let him return. The needle no longer brought him to the safety of the Eyrie on a river of ice, but instead, plunged him into a deep pit. In that dark forsaken place he was completely paralyzed, unable to speak, or see, or hear, his arms and legs spasming uncontrollably, while a destructive chemical thunder storm ravished his mind. He would lie there for hours, drooling like a lunatic, half choking on his own vomit, till finally, mercifully, some of the chemicals were broken down by his abused body, and he was allowed to drift back to the surface.

“What are you saying, Littlefinger?” Ramsay’s grotesque face hovered above him. It was melting like a wax candle in the flames, dripping liquid flesh into his eyes. Petyr screamed, hardly realizing that he was suffering from hallucinations during the violent retreat of the chemicals in his brains. His tongue and mouth had regained some function, but remained beyond his control, pouring out an endless string of words that were either unintelligible, or just random cries and sobs that made no sense what so ever. Despite of this, his tormentor seemed very much intrigued by all what he had to say in his wretched state.

“Say that again Littlefinger? What did she tell you?” Ramsay continued to ask.

The tortures became less. The hours in between, with Petyr sitting alone by himself in the cold and the dark, just waiting to be tormented, became longer. More often now, his warden would show up and almost immediately, without him having to suffer or even plead for it, load a glass syringe full with the drug and inject it anywhere where there was still a functional vein visible on his skin by the beam of a torchlight.

Petyr was perversely grateful. He didn’t mind that his last attempt to go back ended in horrible torment. Nor did he care about the many failures before that. Here, with the new needle breaking his skin, puncturing the fragile walls of his vein, came another chance to return to her. He shut his eyes and let the drug take its course. His heart always remained stubbornly hopeful till the very last moment, just when the paralysis started to take over and darkness spread before him, letting him know that he had lost again. He was to be delivered once more into the deep dark pit, to be entombed inside his own body for what seemed to be an eternity, and when the long night was finally over, only Ramsay was there on the other side, impatiently waiting for him to start delivering yet another string of tormented madness.

“And what did she promise you?” Ramsay continued to interrogate him. His face now appeared swollen, like he had been stung by a horde of giant bees. His large eyes popped out of his eyesockets, and his two eyeballs were now dangling near his cheeks from two thread thin nerves. The whole sight of him was so very terrifying and so completely mad that it made Petyr scream and laugh at the same time.

“Where did she tell you to go? Stop laughing and talk to me Littlefinger. Talk to me.” Ramsay told him, stepping on his injured fingers to make him pay attention.

“Sansa.” Petyr finally managed to whisper, after Ramsay was long gone and he was alone in the dark again with his fragile senses more or less restored to him. “I am sorry that I have not listened to you. Please let me go back. Please let me go back.”

But she never did.

Days passed. The air in his underground prison became so much colder. The pools of stagnant water at his feet started to freeze over. He was now constantly shivering, his tortured body further weakened by severe neglect. Ramsay only came down once in two days to feed him and his starving mutts, and to see if Petyr was still alive. If he wasn’t, Ramsay had ensured him, he would make certain that no good meat was going to waste.

“I can’t really let you go now. Can I?” Ramsay said, almost with a touch of penitence. “Not after what I have done to you. Look at you. They going to lock me up if they see the state you’re in.”

Despite truly hating his tormentor and cursing him to hell for what he had done to him, Petyr could only agree in wretched silence. He didn’t dare to think that he would ever be able to face another human being again. In his heart, he had given up that Sansa was ever going to come back for him. She had forsaken him. Why wouldn’t she? Ramsay had turned him into a hideous creature that could not tolerate daylight. A disgusting broken thing with an equally broken will and mind. He had lost this game. He was useless to her now, useless even to himself. He should just stay here, locked in with Ramsay’s pack of feral hounds, and be forgotten.

 

4.

4 months ago.

Two weeks went by without Ramsay, without a sign of another human being, or even a single spoken word. Only the mad snarls and howls of Ramsay’s dogs, who were by now starved to a frenzy, and were tearing into each other for blood and meat.

He thought he didn’t want to stay alive, but soon his primal instincts got the better of him. He found himself licking the damp from the stones and slurping the dirty water from the half-frozen pools. By doing so, he managed to survive right up to the day Ramsay Bolton finally showed up again.

He was carrying a gun on his belt.

Petyr had not even noticed it. Too dazed by starvation and boiling up from a high fever, he was slumped against the wall like a quivering boneless bag of meat. His head was resting against a wooden pillar to keep the rest of his body away from the cold freezing ground. He only responded with a weak moan when Ramsay shone a torchlight in his face and pulled an eyelid up to check on him.

“You look horrible.” Ramsay crouched down beside him, and rummaged through his pockets to produce a glass syringe. It had a larger barrel than normal, and was already filled with the cloudy white liquid that he so craved and had become so utterly dependent on.

“You look like you’re going die soon.”

Petyr struggled to focus with his eyes, trying hard to align them so he could finally see Ramsay.

“But that’s not something that bothers you? Does it?” Ramsay scratched the back of Petyr’s neck like he was petting one of his hounds. “No, to a poor creature like you, it would be more like a blessing now. Think about it. No more pain. No more suffering. Just…nothing really.” He brushed away the long dirty strands of hair from his neck and shone the torchlight over his skin, looking for the clear markings of a superficial vein. When he finally found one, he stuck the needle right in. Petyr only moaned softly when he cleared the entire barrel from its content.

“There.” Ramsay threw the now empty syringe on the ground, breaking the glass under his shoe. “I wanted to give you something. A final treat. To help you on your way. This one takes a little more time to work, but it does the trick. Numbs the senses. Numbs the fear.” He took out his gun and loaded it, snapping on the magazine. “Works on dogs and humans alike.” He commented as he glanced over his shoulder. Petyr noticed that the mad barking of the dogs had finally ceased. In fact, Ramsay’s hounds had not been so quiet ever since he had them chained up down here with him.

“I am going to check on the dogs. I will come back for you.”

Petyr’s eyes felt incredibly heavy, as if they were covered in lead. He was almost closing them again and was on his way to drift back into a half-unconscious fevered delirium when a loud gunshot shattered his stupor. Cringing, with eyes wide in fear, he heard another shot, fired closely behind him. Ramsay’s dogs produced a chaotic uproar of mad yelps and barks. More gunshots were fired, and one by one, the animals were abruptly silenced. When there was just one lonely barking mutt left, Petyr finally dared to turn around to see what was happening.

At the other side of the underground chamber, Ramsay had created a blood batch. The last of his pack of hounds was still standing, cowering with its tail tucked between its legs in a blood splattered corner. The mutt was surrounded by the bodies of Ramsay’s 8 other dogs. They were all still chained up, lying on the cold ground with blood oozing out of the single bullet holes in their skulls. Ramsay fired a shot at the remaining one, right when it spun its head around. The bullet tore off its left ear, sending it howling while it pulled frantically on its chain.

“Shit!” Ramsay cocked the gun again, stepped closer to the wounded animal, and fired another shot. This time, the bullet entered right between the poor creature’s eyes, killing it instantly.

The horrible deed finally done, Ramsay stared up at the ceiling and let go of a deep anxious sigh. “Oh don’t look at me like that.” He said, when he turned around and noticed the horrified expression on Petyr’s face.

“It’s not like it doesn’t do anything to me. I am not a monster.” He calmly strolled back. “They were loyal to me. I don’t like killing them, but they deserved a quick, clean death.”

He carried the gun almost reverently, and caressed the still hot barrel with his fingertips. “I raised each one of them myself from when they were pups. For me, they couldn’t do anything wrong. They can bite me. They can wound me and I won’t love them any less. I have even forgiven them for tearing me apart and eating me alive.” Ramsay smiled, and looked down at Petyr. His large eyes hardened. “I know it wasn’t their fault.” He whispered. “It was that bitch Sansa Stark. She locked me up in the dog kennels. She bound me to a chair while my dogs were starving. It’s the smell of blood you see. It drives them completely mad.”

Petyr was finally experiencing the first effect of the drugs. Like Ramsay said, it numbed everything, even the horrible fear that was now rising in the back of his mind. He knows. He realized, succumbing to a strangely silent, sedated form of panic. He knows everything.

“Yes I know.” Ramsay said, as if he was reading his mind. “I know who I was. Ramsay Bolton, the bastard son of Roose Bolton, lord of the Dreadford. I remember everything. Thanks to you.” He crouched down in front of Petyr and stared right into his eyes.

“You say such interesting things when you’re tripping on the drugs. Really, on and on you go, about how Sansa Stark is the lady of Winterfell, how she came to find you here and has sworn to free you from your torment. That we are all living a lie, and that King’s Landing is purgatory. How we’re all lost souls who must atone for our sins to be able to leave this dreadful place. To be frank, I first thought that it was just a load of bullocks.” Ramsay laughed. “Highly entertaining bullocks, but still, nothing more but the drivels of a complete loon.”

Ramsay traced the end of the gunbarrel across Petyr’s hollow cheek, checking his responses. Petyr felt the warmth of the steel pressed against his skin, but didn’t cringe or even blink his eyes. Even the realization that there was still a loaded gun in Ramsay’s hand and he could do nothing but let the paralysis slowly take over, could not stir up even the faintest emotional response in his current tranquilized state.

“But then you mentioned Melisandre. That red witch who lives 2 floors down from Olenna Tyrell? You said that Sansa Stark had talked to that woman. She told you, that Melisandre was going to help you to get out of King’s Landing.”

Ramsay paused and pinched Petyr in his cheek. It was hard enough to bruise the skin, but Petyr didn’t feel anything anymore, and just kept staring at Ramsay with an exhausted, confused expression in his hooded eyes.

His mind however, took in all that Ramsay said to him with a growing sense of alarm.

His lack of awareness seemed to please Ramsay.

“My old man, he went to see that red witch woman, right before he vanished from the face of the earth.” Ramsay continued. “I used to think he was banging her or something. I mean, who wouldn’t want to fuck a delicious creature like that, even if she is always driveling on about her God like some crazed religious fanatic.” Ramsay laughed, turning the gun impatiently in his hand. “But after what you said to me about her, I became really curious. I went to see her. I wanted to ask her about my father. After some persuasion, she told me. She said that she had helped my old man to find a way out of purgatory and to pass over into another plane of existence, the one that your lady friend Sansa Stark came from? I couldn’t believe her at first. I thought she was just messing with me. But then, after I threatened to cut her up for selling me that cock and ball story, she helped me regain my memories. She didn’t even have to do some weird hocus pocus thing. She just asked the right questions, dropped a few hints, and it all came flooding back, like it all happened only yesterday." He gazed at Petyr, his large eyes narrowed slightly. "You have woken up too, didn’t you? You’re not that witless moron anymore who keeps smiling and forgiving people when he is punched in the face. I can see it in your eyes when I slide my knife under your skin. You remember who you are, and you fucking hate me for what I have done you. I don’t blame you. If I were you I would be seriously pissed too. Pity you can’t do anything about it now.” 

Ramsay rose, and cocked the gun before aiming it at Petyr’s head. “So after my little epiphany, I realized that you were right. We are fucked. We all are. We’re all imprisoned in this light version of hell, and there is no way to out. Unless you have 6000 pounds at your disposal. That’s what that red witch told me. To pay in cash, for some sort of passage ritual that she was willing to carry out, to help me follow in my father’s footsteps, so to speak. So, Myranda and I emptied the medicine cabinet in unit 5 and sold everything to get the money together. Guess what?" He smiled. "We’re leaving tonight. Can you believe it? More than 500 years of this – this dullness, - this constant disappointment, and suddenly, we are free to go, and it’s all thanks to you.”

Petyr was by now so weakened and dazed that he unknowingly leaned with his forehead onto the muzzle of the gun barrel in a futile effort to keep himself steady. The drug was coursing through his blood stream, but instead of dragging him back into the pit, it was freezing his veins into rivers of ice. Shivering like a wet dog, he struggled to stay awake, trying with great difficulty to take in Ramsay's every word. He wasn’t sure if it would ever do him any good. He could be dead within a few seconds, but he realized, he knew that it was important, and if by some miracle he survived this, he wanted to remember everything.     

“I hate to leave unfinished business behind. I don’t like any of my faithful pets to suffer when I am no longer here to take care of them. So, I am sending you on your way. Not sure really what there is after purgatory.” Ramsay mused. “Maybe there is nothing. Maybe there is another level of hell waiting for you. Anyway, I am sure the Gods who have sent you here will keep you entertained.”

His finger strained on the trigger. “So, dear Petyr. Or Littlefinger...whatever you like to call yourself, lord Bealish perhaps.” Ramsay’s lips pulled into an almost apologetic grin. “This is the end really. I shall forever be grateful to you for helping me and Myranda to find our way to out. But I think you are now smart enough to realize that it was always going to end like this. You’re not Theon Greyjoy. You knew that there wasn’t going to be a happy ending. The only way you’re going to leave this place is in a closed wooden box, or in a cheap plastic bag with a label dangling from your toe. It depends on how much is left of you really. How long it takes before they find you here. Well…at least I can make sure that the dying part is pretty quick.”

With that said, Ramsay pulled the trigger.

 

NOTES: Part 4-5 will be posted next Friday. Meanwhile, let me know what you think of the story so far, it motivates me to write on. See you next time! H.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

NOTES:

Another Friday, another chapter!

Fanart: The bird illustration is derived from a French fairy tale by madame d. Aulnoy, first published in 1697,  called L'Oiseau Blue (the bluebird). For those of you who are interested in unnecessary cruel fairy tales of princes being turned into birds by evil queen stepmothers of princesses imprisoned in towers, and of cypresses with branches heavy with knives and daggers to punish the love-struck and the cursed, you can find the whole story here: The Blue Bird. The illustration itself is a scan of my favorite children's book I had since I was 8.  

Selected music tracks:

For part 6

cruel intentions

And someone made a stunning vid with this song that is so freaking to the point:

Cruel intentions sansa x petyr

 For part 7 and 8

Penny dreadful soundtrack

 

4.

2 days ago

Sansa woke to the sound of persistent tapping on the side window of Jon’s car.

“Miss? Miss?”

All she could see through the fogged up glass was the hazy figure of a police officer. An exceptionally tall one, broad shouldered and built like a tank. For a moment, she was a confused. The voice calling to her sounded like a woman, but by the way she looked, Sansa could easily mistook her for a him.

"Can you please roll down your window miss?” She reminded her politely.

She did as she was told. “Yes officer?” Sansa blinked her eyes at the plain face with the shortly cropped hair, and the familiar frown embedded in the stern coarse features. The  breath of cold fresh air that she had just inhaled caught somewhere in the middle of her throat.

“You were asleep in your vehicle on the side of the road. This is an emergency lane, you’re not allowed to park here.” She heard Brienne explain to her.

How is this even possible? What is she doing here? She pinched her hand, just to check if she was still dreaming.

“Miss?”

“I am – I am very sorry.” Sansa muttered, forcing herself not to keep gawking at her. Except for her own family, she had never encountered anyone who she remembered from Westeros in her own world. She had met plenty of them when she was lost in King’s Landing, including Petyr. So perhaps, she was finally getting anywhere near that cursed place? Still, Brienne of all people, really shouldn't be in King's Landing. Dutiful, brave and loyal Brienne of Tarth, the champion of justice, if anyone did not deserve hell or purgatory, it would be her.

I didn’t do it on purpose.” She told the tall muscular police officer. She doesn’t seem to recognize her. She probably doesn't even remember who she used to be, just like Sansa's own family. Try to act normal. She told herself. She is not your sworn sword. Treat her like you would treat any other police officer. She is just doing her job.

“I am not from around here. I've lost my way." Sansa tried to explain to her. "I was trying to find a certain place. My sat nav couldn’t locate it. I asked the locals around for directions but no-one could really help me, so I ended up driving through London in circles all night.”

“Maybe I can help.” Her frown softened the way she remembered it always did whenever Brienne tried to assist her in anything. “Where you do want to go?”

“I want to go to King’s Landing.”

The frown reappeared again, but this time, it settled much deeper into her brows and skin. “King’s Landing?” She suddenly sounded much troubled. “Why may I ask, do you want to go there?”

“I want to visit a friend.” Sansa noticed how Brienne was tightening the corners of her lips exactly the way she used to, whenever she was trying to keep her mouth shut. “He lives there in one of the estate flats.” She added, keeping her eyes fixed on her.

“Your friend lives there?”

“Yes.”

“And you want to visit him?”

“Yes.” There was something strange going. In her previous life, Brienne had served her for decades, her loyalty never failing, her shadow always close to hers. Sansa knew the woman knight better than anyone else did. She could read her like an open book, and at the moment, she was definitely not feeling much at ease.

Do you know how to get there?” Sansa asked.

Too honest and too blunt to ever be a good liar, Brienne was grinding her teeth together, like she was chewing on the truth so she could swallow it down and spit out a lie.

“No miss, I don’t.” Brienne replied, the corners of her mouth twitching, repulsed by her own dishonesty. “I don’t think we have a district in London called King’s Landing. Maybe you have the wrong address.”

“Oh no, it does exist.” Sansa told her, convinced that she was hiding something from her. “I have been to King’s Landing. I have visited my friend before.”

“Really miss, I cannot help you. I am sorry. You should turn the car around and go back home.” There was now a nervousness in her voice.

“Go back home? What do you mean?” Sansa studied the other woman’s large blue eyes. There was definitely a hint of guilt in them. “You do know where to find it, don’t you?” She whispered. “You just don’t want to tell me.”

“Mylady, I –“ Brienne pressed her lips tightly together, cursing herself for that clumsy slip of the tongue. Old habits die hard, even if it had been more then 500 years since they had last spoken to each other. Alarmed, she turned around, and headed back to the police car that was parked behind Jon's car.

“Brienne!” Sansa called out, fully convinced now that Brienne knew who she was and why she was here. “Your name is Brienne of Tarth, the female knight of the Saphire Islands. You remember all that, am I right?”

Brienne continued to rush away, her cheeks glowing bright red. Sansa jumped out of the car and went after her.

“In the depths of winter, in the woods around Winterfell, after Theon and I have escaped from Ramsay’s men, you had sworn your loyalty to me.” She stood in front of Brienne and pushed her back in an effort to stop her in her tracks, making herself look absolutely ridiculous without making any impact at all. “You swore to protect me and to give me counsel.” Sansa reminded her, her azure blue eyes blazing and desperate.

Brienne finally gave up. “Mylady.” She sighed. “That was in another life.” She cast her eyes down, and was about to walk on, when Sansa grabbed her by her arm.

“Do you think it’s that easy? Death does not release you from your oath!” She reminded her, knowing exactly how to push her buttons. “I need your counsel now. Where can I find King’s Landing? You were always a terrible liar Brienne. I can see it on your face that you know where it is. You have to help me!”

“You’re not allowed to go there.” All the pretence was now gone from Brienne’s face, revealing a deep concern. “Do you have any idea what that place is?” She tried to warn her.

“I know what it is. It’s purgatory. I found out the last time I was there.” She replied in a matter of fact voice. Her hands slipped pass Brienne unnoticed and grabbed hold of the set of handcuffs that hung from the female officer’s belt.

Brienne’s features turned grim. “If you know what it is, why do you still want to return? You were lucky that you got out in the first place.”

“I need to go back. I made a promise. I have to go back to rescue Petyr.”

“Petyr?” Sansa noticed that Brienne was grinding her teeth again while her expression turned even grimmer. “You don't mean Petyr Bealish?” She said with true astonishment and a hint of disgust in her voice.

“Yes.” Sansa replied, taking in a deep breath while she took the cuffs and the matching set of keys and hid hit behind her back, hoping fiercely that Brienne would not take her eyes from her face. She didn’t need to worry, for the female officer was becoming far too upset to notice anything.

“You’re risking your life and the sanctity of your soul to get Littlefinger out of a place where he belongs?”

"Yes, and no, he doesn't belong there. Not anymore."

“I am sorry mylady, but now I am certainly not going to help you.”

“If you don't -” She replied, as she fiddled with the cuffs and managed to snap one shut around her own wrist. “You are breaking your oath.”

That last statement clearly cut deep into Brienne’s heart. “As you may remember mylady, I have not only sworn to obey, but also to protect you, even from yourself.” She pushed Sansa aside, eyes cast down again as she made her way back to the police car.

“Wait.” Sansa grabbed her by her wrist, and swiftly snapped the other end of the cuffs around it.

“What are you doing?” Brienne stared back at her, eyes wide in surprise. “Where did you get those from?” She patted her sides, and quickly realized that she had lost her own set of handcuffs.

“You’re stuck with me now.” Sansa told her, holding her nose up high as she crossed her arms over her chest. “And I am not going till you help me find King’s Landing.”

 “Where are the keys?”

She held them up in front of Brienne’s eyes.

“Give them back.” Brienne held out her hand to her to receive them, but instead, Sansa dropped them right through the grid of a sewergrate.

“Shit! What have you done? That’s the whole lot of them. I don’t have any spares.”

“Good.” Sansa said, trying to sound calm and in control of the situation. “Now take me to King’s Landing.”

For a moment, she thought that the huge female officer was going to slap her. The tense expression that was now on Brienne’s face certainly implied that she was slowly counting back from ten. Instead, she let out a grunt and tugged hard on the cuffs, dragging Sansa behind her as she swirled around. 

“Hey! Where are we going?” She noticed that they walked pass the parked police car without even slowing down. “Stop! I said, I want you to take me to King’s Landing!” Sansa shouted at her, sounding much like a spoiled teenager having a fit, and very little like the Lady of Winterfell commanding her sworn sword.

We’re not going to King’s Landing.” Brienne picked up her pace as she continued to drag her along. “What we are going to do, is to go somewhere safe and warm and sit down together to have a civilized conversation about the bad decisions that you have made so far in your life.”

“Wait! no!” She dug her heels in the pavement and leaned back in a futile attempt to make her stop. “I don’t want to sit down! I don’t want to talk! I need to get back to Petyr! Auw!” She gave a little yelp when the cuff started to cut in her skin.

“I don’t think you have choice.” Brienne reminded her, steaming onward with all the grace of a stubborn train engine. “That way. There should be a greasy spoon café on this side of the road.”

 

5.

3 months ago.

A shot should have been fired, followed by a bullet piercing his skull and exploding inside his head, turning his brain into a splatter of pink and grey over the stone walls…but that didn’t happened.

Ramsay cocked the gun again, leaving Petyr to silently prepare himself for a second time for his imminent death. The gun’s nuzzle was directly pressed against his head. Petyr felt the deadly metallic click of the trigger resonate through his skull several times, but after each attempt, he found himself still breathing…and very much alive.

“Shit!” Ramsay muttered. “Shit.” He finally bothered to check the magazine. “Ah, that’s the problem.” He said, rather apologetically. “I only had ten bullets. I had to use one extra on poor Violet.” Ramsay lowered the gun and scratched the back of his head, grinning like a stupid ass. “Sorry. Really sorry.” He laughed. “I didn’t buy more. I didn’t think I would need extra.” He stared down at Petyr who was now close to unconsciousness. The ice in his blood had spread all over his body, till he felt like one of his cherished frost birds from long ago.

“I can’t really make it quick for you now. Sorry for that. I really fucked it up, didn’t I?” Ramsay put the gun away. He was still laughing. “Oh well, at least I gave you one last good trip hey?” Ramsay petted him over his head. His strokes were almost tender, almost consoling. Petyr let his eyelids drop, feeling strangely at peace.

“Farewell Littlefinger.” He heard Ramsay say, his face fading till all that remained was that maniacal grin. “It was a real pleasure knowing you. I am sorry if it wasn’t likewise.”

 

6.

Snow was drifting down over the gray stone walls of Winterfell, softening the large ugly structure with a gentle blanket of powdery white. Petyr woke in the courtyard, his breath forming white clouds in the frosty air. With his heart racing, he ploughed through the thick white layer to reach the castle entrance. He knew that Ramsay was gone for good. The drugs had brought him back one final time. He had one last chance to become whole again. He needed to find her before it was too late.

“Sansa! Sansa, where are you?” He rushed through the dark corridors, calling for her as he searched through the castle. She was not in her chambers in the great keep, or in the Godswood, or in the crypts, or in the blacksmith’s armory. Then he thought he saw a lonely figure, standing on the parapet walk above east gate. He stumbled up the staircase and finally found her there. She was staring out over the snow-covered fields, her blue grey cape and hood flailing in the cold northern wind.

“Sansa –“

She turned and walked right pass as if she didn’t hear him, as if he didn’t exist and was but air to her, or a ghost. “Have my sister brought to the great hall.” She commanded one of her soldiers.

Desperate, and not knowing what else to do, Petyr followed her. He crossed the inner courtyard, and passed by the small Sept before he finally saw her enter the great hall. His heart rate doubled when he set foot inside that large stone building. His stomach turned when he saw the sizeable crowd that was gathered inside. Panic surged, and he was suddenly overwhelmed by a strong desire to run away from it all. He turned, and was about to flee back out into the cold when the doors slammed shut right in front of his face, trapping him inside.

Paralyzed with fear, Petyr shut his eyes.

As always, he kept himself aside, a silent spectator of the little tragedy that was about to be performed for his leisure. Leaning against the walls and half hidden in shadows, he waited like everyone else for the lady of Winterfell to pass her judgment on Arya Stark.

He remembered that he wondered how his lady would with deal her troublesome little sister. Would Sansa merely order her imprisonment, or had he made her so fearful of her own flesh and blood that she would feel compulsed to do something a little more drastic and permanent? Was it going to be exile or execution? He had not made up his mind yet, finding it far more enjoyable to figure out which way the sword was going to fall while the blade was still swinging. These long meetings with these loud, blunt-minded Northerners were rather dull and uneventful, so he preferred not to think of the outcome too much in advance to keep himself entertained. 

But that was then. That was Littlefinger. Arrogant, cocksure, and always smiling, because he simply did not know how it was to lose.

Now, he was Petyr, and he was truly terrified.

“You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer to these charges, lord Bealish?”

He knew what she was going to say long before he heard it pass her lips. The first time this happened, he was mainly taken aback, stunned by her sudden boldness to accuse him, of all people. In his mind, he had always been her wise mentor who had taught her everything, every dirty ploy, every trick of the book. He was her savior and protector, the only person to whom she owed her position as lady of Winterfell and her very own life.

So how dare she turn the table on me?

“Lady Sansa forgive me, but I am a bit confused.” Littlefinger stated, still finding it impossible to accept what was happening to him. Surely the master wasn’t going to be bested by his pupil.

He knew better now. Petyr knew better. She had bested him. She had trapped him in here, lured him inside this hall that was going to be his tomb, this lair filled with direwolves, half-wolves, wildlings, and raptors, all under false pretences of safety and camaraderie, of her acceptance and trust. She had him unknowingly surrounded by his enemies, and she was going to expose his crimes to all of them to hear.

“You murdered our aunt, Lysa Arryn. You pushed her through the Moon door and watched her fall, do you deny it?”

“I did it to protect you.” The words came rushing out before he could stop himself, just like the first time. It was the truth, however twisted his reasoning may be. Lysa would have wanted her niece gone from the Eyrie. Sansa would not have survived on her own. Not the way she was before he started shaping her. He had no choice really…or so he had lied to himself.

I did have a choice. I could have spared Lysa and thought of another way to get you to safety. I didn’t do that because it was so much more convenient for me to have that troublesome woman removed from my side. Never more shall any of my dark deeds be brought back to life by her mad whispers. She died because I cared for you and didn’t want you to know how truly depraved I am. I did it to protect you from myself, because if Lysa would ever breathe another word of my crimes to you, you would either have to accept me for what I am, or I would have to silence you too…and despite whatever you may think of me, I was not that deluded to truly believe that you would ever go for that first option any time soon.

Petyr wanted to confess and just tell her the truth, but the words remained stuck in his throat. Instead, he was ensnared by his past self. He became a hapless performer, doomed to enact this dreadful play all the way to the deadly end, without ever being able to change a single word that had once passed his lips.

“Whatever your aunt might have told you, she was a troubled woman.”

“I know of no such letter.”

“I deny it! None of you were there to see what happened. None of you know the truth.”

The mockingbird sung like he had been once taught to sing by his first mentor, the one across the narrow sea, from whom he had learned that a man could survive on nothing but lies if he was truly desperate enough. He sung his familiar repertoire of denials and deceits, of half-truths and accusations. He remembered being scared, and yet being too stubborn and too proud to surrender.

No, I am not going to die here today. I have faced far worse and greater dangers, and yet I’ve always won. I’ve always survived. Do you think you have me now Sansa? Do you think I would just lay down my life at your feet and go into the cold dark night without a fight? Think again.

But then her brother Bran spoke, the crippled boy who had returned from beyond the walls, who with his strange aura and detached way of viewing the world had freaked him out before. It was like the crippled young wolf had eyes that could look right into his rotten soul.

“You held a knife to his throat. You said, I did warn you not to trust me.” He said to him in a cold emotionless voice.

That one statement abruptly ended all of his songs, and erased all hope that he could still somehow lie his way out.

“You told our mother that this knife belonged to Tyrion Lannister.” Arya Stark slid the cold Valyrian steel from its sheath. It was his own dagger, he recognized, that he had offered to Bran Stark in an attempt to make peace. “But that was another one of your lies.” She added. There was a ghost of a smile on her otherwise expressionless face. Yet another vengeful Stark direwolf that was stalking him in the dark.

He came forward and pleaded with his lady, knowing very well that he was now pleading for his life. He had not expected this fight. He had underestimated her, not only her competence to better him, but also how much she actually loathed him. Her gaze was merciless. Her heart had hardened into ice. Her lips only spoke the Tully mantra of honour, family, and duty, no longer imitated the sweet songs that he had once taught her to sing. His love for her meant nothing, was nothing to her. Vengeance was all what now occupied her cruel direwolf’s heart.

Such a fool he had been to think that he could guide her back to the north, join her as she reunited with her pack and follow her into her ancestral lair without being ripped apart by these monsters with their sharp teeth and claws.

“If we could speak alone... I can explain everything.” He tried one final time to plead to the girl she had once been. A girl who was sweet and innocent, not a Stark direwolf but a Tully maiden, who liked and trusted him, and was so much like his beloved Cat that he had lost himself in his own lies.

“Sometimes when I am trying to understand a person's motives, I play a little game.” She whispered, leaning back, showing not even a trace of her former self. Her face was like a mask, one that was as cold and uncaring as the one he used to hide behind to manipulate and doom others.

Maybe she really is only wearing a mask. He had hoped, so very foolishly. Maybe this is all just pretence to satisfy her vengeful pack and once she believes she has punished me enough, she will show me mercy. Maybe she will just send me away. Maybe, she is still somewhere in there.

“Give me a chance to defend myself. I deserve that.”

She ignored his plea.

He swirled around to face the others. “I demand a trial by combat.” He claimed boldly, trying to plead to their sense of honor.

“And I reject your request.” Sansa replied. The crowd remained silent, no one objected to her blatant sacrilege of this sacred ancient law. Why would they? He was surrounded by those who were after his blood. If he thought that this was a fair trial, he was mistaken. This was nothing more but an execution.

“I have the right to be judged fairly by the Gods.” He still tried.

“I said, I reject it.” Sansa repeated. “Besides, since when do you care about what the Gods think of you, lord Bealish?”

He now flung himself to the side of Yohn Royce, demanding his safety as the lord protector of the Vale. That also was quickly denied.

That rigid old snob never even had a scrap of sympathy for me. He will probably be the first to cheer if they mount my head on a spike today. Why I am so foolish to even try?

Because I was desperate. Petyr thought. Because I had no other songs left to sing. Because I knew I was going to die. He was on his knees now, begging her to reconsider. Telling her every last truth that was left inside his wounded heart.

“I loved you, more than anyone.” How can you do this to me? Does my love for you mean absolutely nothing to you?

It didn’t move her.

“And yet you betrayed me.” Her response was as bitter as the cold northern storms. His sincere confession was tossed out together with his own bleeding heart onto the rotting mount of his deceits without a second thought. It is far too late. You have told her too many lies. It has become too difficult for her to separate them from the truth. She doesn’t even want to try anymore.

Just moments before his demise, Petyr finally felt his own will return to him. No longer was he forced to act out this horrible play. He had one last chance to finally speak his mind.

“Sansa, please, stop this.” He pleaded, not to the Stark direwolf but to the girl who had kept him sane and had guided him here. His voice was broken and small, more so even then the first time when this happened to him.

“I don’t want to see this. I don’t want to remember. Ramsay…he has already taken everything away…there is hardly anything left of me. Please…don’t let me remember you like this.” He knew almost certain what was to come next, and yet he still begged her, whatever was left of his dignity crumbling into dust right at her feet. “It will take away all of my love for you. It was the only thing that was ever good and pure and worthy in my life. Please don’t take it away from me. I beg you, let me keep just this…It’s all that I have left.”

But he was begging to a Stark. There was nothing gentle or merciful left in her. Petyr shut his eyes and breathed out a ragged sigh. He was an idiot to think that he could ever tame her, that a little mockingbird from nowhere could nurture a Stark direwolf and hold on to her as his own, keeping her in check with pretty songs and silly childish dreams. He had caused her father’s demise and her family’s downfall. Her crippled brother had exposed all of his crimes to her. There was nothing left to expect from her, except for her loathing, her cruelty, and her vengeance.

When he saw the blade of his own dagger approach him in the hand of Sansa’s sister, he finally let go of his grief-stricken mind, and allowed the Stark wolfs to descend on him, knowing now that it was the woman he loved, and whose love he wanted more than anything in the world, that had sentenced him to this fate.

 

7.

He was nothing.

He had lost everything that was ever dear to him.

He didn’t want to be whole again. Let the cruel Gods and Roose Bolton’s bastard win. He just wanted it to stop.

He could opt for sanity and live out his miserable existence with the knowledge that there was no hope for salvation. Or…he could chose madness, and let his sorrow consume him.

So he chose insanity.

He lost his mind. He was no longer himself, but a crippled song bird, a pathetic specimen of his beloved sigil. A child’s pet that had been brutally mutilated by the girl who was supposed to love and cherish him.

He was lying on the cold flag stone floor of the great hall, his throat cut. Warm blood kept trickling out in weak streams from his hideous wound. He was forever silenced, forever mute. His vocal cords had been shredded into ribbons…but he was still alive.

He was curled up in the frozen muck in the underground air raid chamber, still chained to the wall, left behind by his tormentor to die. Even now he knew that Ramsay was gone for good and he should try to call for help, he couldn’t utter a single sound.

The girl he once loved, the one he used to dedicate all of his songs to, she was the one who ordered her men to lock him up in a little wire birdcage. Too small to fly around in, not even large enough to fully spread his wings, it had only enough room for him to perch on a single barbed wire. She left him there, without food and water, with a dark heavy cloth covering his cage so he would never know if it was night or day. The sharp ends of the wire sliced open the skin on his feet and made him bleed.

In his underground prison, he was starving and cold, and dangerously weakened by his fever. The sharp edges of the steel dog collar cut into the red angry infected wound around his neck whenever he tried to move. The darkness and silence that entombed him was as pitiless as it was seemingly everlasting…till he heard voices, real human voices, descending from the staircase.

The cloth was removed from his wire cage. A man with a knife appeared before him.

A bright torchlight shone in his face, temporarily blinding him. A man with an axe appeared before him.


The man with the knife tried to grab him out of his wire cage. He flapped his wings frantically, his little heart rattling inside his tiny body when the man’s fingers closed around his chest, like a spider wrapping its legs around its prey.

The man grabbed hold of him, telling him to keep still. He didn’t listen, too afraid to be hurt again, to be sliced up by the man with the knife. He fought and squirmed and tugged on his chains.

“Stop wriggling around you little lunatic!” The man shouted down at him, holding the axe high up above his shoulder. “I am trying to cut you lose. You want me to plant this blade right in your arm?”

Petyr uttered a silent scream of pure terror when the axe came down, severing the links.

The man held him in a single hand, wings squeezed tight against his quivering body so he could not fly away. Another man came and pulled out his right wing till it was fully spread out, as if in flight. He tried to bite and stab and peck at the hand that held onto him, breaking the skin and causing mean little cuts to force him to let go, but it was hopeless.

The man wanted to pick him up from the frozen muck, but Petyr won’t let him. He bit in the man’s hand and didn’t let go till he received a slap in his face that left him half dazed.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” The man yelled, his voice now a raspy roar. “I am trying to help, you little cunt!” Petyr didn’t want any help. He wanted to get away from the nasty man with the knife. A blanket was thrown over him, and was wrapped tightly around his shoulders and head. He opened his mouth to scream, producing little more but a barely audible shriek that was completely muffled by the cloth. No longer able to fight back, the man bundled him up in his arms and carried him out of his underground prison.

The man wrapped a piece of cloth around his head so he could no longer stab him with his beak and couldn’t see what was happening. When the blade sliced through his flight muscles near his shoulder, he let out an anguished cry that remained trapped inside his ruined throat. A push with the flat palm of the man’s hand and his damaged wing was forced backwards till the fragile bones broke. They severed the rest and flung it into the flames of the hearth. Then a harsh hand pulled out his other wing to repeat what they had just done to him.

He was dragged inside a tiled cell and cuffed by his wrists to a wet wall, before they hosed him down to wash away the many layers of filth that was caked onto his body. He was still struggling and fighting them off when they grabbed and put him in a straight jacket, pulling and securing the straps on his back so tight that he could not move a single muscle in his arms. They gagged him to stop him from biting his handlers. Then they bound him to a chair.

He didn’t understand why he didn’t die of his wounds. What he did understand was that his mistress no longer cared for his songs, but desired his pain and suffering instead. The man used his knife to cut off his feet, severing tendons and bones with a little snap. It was like breaking a pair of dry branches. He tied the bloody stumps together with a short string, and left him lying in a pool of his own blood on the bottom of the wire cage.

They cropped his hair and shaved off his beard. Dirty tangles of lice infested locks dropped on the tiled floor in front of his bare feet. They cut it so close to his scalp that the sharp ends of the scissors often broke his skin. Then they dragged him into another cell, and strapped him down in an iron frame bed. Leather straps bound his feet and legs, crossed over his chest and held him down by his neck and forehead. They locked the door and left him there, sobbing and crying in silence, fully immobilized, and utterly confused about where and what he was.

I can’t sing. He thought, straining his bonds while gasping for air through his narrowing throat. I can’t utter a sound. She sliced my throat. I can’t flee. I can’t fly away. She cut off my wings, and broke my bones. I can’t perch on a branch or jump or climb. She cut off my feet. Why is my mistress so cruel? Why didn’t she just end it? Please, please have mercy on me. I can’t sing. I can’t fly. I am a useless, broken thing. Please have mercy. Please end it. Please, please, just end it.

“Oh it pains me to see you like this, truly.”

He couldn’t move his head to turn to see who was speaking to him. The straps held him down. All he could make out from the corners of his eyes was the faint shadow of a man.

Please mercy, have mercy.

“Stop trying to speak.” The man told him when he saw that was chewing on his gag. “I hear your thoughts loud and clear. Such horrible things he has done to you. Your poor confused mind, it could be scarred forever.” The man walked closer to him, folding his hands inside the long wide sleeves of his silk robe. A scent of lavender and rosewater drifted in a perfumed cloud around him when he leaned closer.

“That would be such a shame. Just when I found your name on my list of new wards.” Varys said, looking down at him most compassionately.

Mercy, mercy, I can’t fly, I can’t sing, please have mercy.

Varys furrowed his brows. “My dear old friend, you shall receive all the clemency I can give you. Let’s start by helping you regain some of your true self. Let me teach you a new song. A better and truer one than the one you’re lamenting right now. I cannot promise that it will completely restore you, but one can always try and hope.”

Mercy, mercy, please, please.

“Try to replace that with the following; I am Petyr Bealish, lord of the Fingers, lord of Harrenhal and, oh I don’t know…lord protector of the Vale? It’s a bit much and it’s all empty titles now of course. I don’t want to feed into your ego, as if it’s not frighteningly overwhelming already, but it might help you to restore your mind a little faster.”

Mercy… Petyr blinked the tears out of his eyes and gazed up at the peculiar bald man.

“Come come. You’re not a tortured little bird. You are a man. A completely delusional, vain, selfish, revengeful, overly ambitious, and spiteful little man, but a man nonetheless. Sing this song after me; I am Petyr Bealish, lord of the Fingers, lord of Harrenhal and lord protector of the Vale.”

 

8.

2 and half months ago.

It took a while for Varys to get to him, but eventually, he succeeded.

I am Petyr Bealish, lord of the Fingers, lord of Harrenhal and lord protector of the Vale. I am Petyr Bealish, lord of the Fingers, lord of Harrenhal and lord protector of the Vale. I am Petyr Bealish, lord of the Fingers, lord of Harrenhal and lord protector of the Vale...

To Petyr, words always carried an almost enchanted property. He was a master in weaving them into lies that could eventually become reality, if he played his pieces right, and if he repeated it long enough for everyone to start believing in them, including himself. So, he sung the song Varys had taught him, and the lyrics that in his troubled mind first sounded like lies, soon became half-truths, before finally transforming into the full truth.

He was Petyr Bealish, once lord of the Fingers, Harrenhal and lord protector of the Vale. He was betrayed and had died by the hands of the woman he loved. Now he was nothing but an inmate in an insane asylum and a wounded lost soul in purgatory…or whatever hell this place was.  

The truth stung him more than the many lashes Ramsay Bolton had once inflicted on him.

“Are you finally fully awake?” Varys asked, frowning down at him curiously. “Do you know who I am?”

You’re a spider. Petyr ran his tongue over the spit soaked cloth of his gag, staring at him with a restored alertness gleaming in his blue grey eyes. A big fat spider on the wall who claims he knows it all.

“It’s close enough, I guess.” Varys sighed, ignoring the insult. “Oh and do stop trying to free yourself.” He added, watching him struggle against his bonds. “It is all very futile. You’re strapped down quite efficiently. Besides, they only tied you down to prevent you from hurting yourself. In your current state, it is very much advisable to keep it like this for a little while longer.”

Varys sat down by his bedside. “I am truly sorry that you had to go through so much needless suffering." He told him, his face full of sincerity. "A soul’s awaking and reinstatement to his true self is an act of great clemency offered by my lords. It is an important milestone in your journey to full atonement. It should have been a most joyous occasion. In your case, I have to regretfully admit, it all had been rather dreadful.”

The long pitying look that Varys gave him was enough to send Petyr into a mad muffled giggle behind his gag.

Is this what you call mercy? Have Roose Bolton’s bastard torture the hell out of me while I regain the memory of every shitty little thing I’ve ever done to anyone? What kind of monsters are you now serving?    

“I wasn’t trying to sound comical.” Varys replied, clearly annoyed, and perhaps also slightly worried. “You’re acting like you have lost your mind again.”

Petyr just grinned back at him, tears stinging in his eyes.

“You do remember that you are in purgatory and have been sent here for a very good reason?”

Yes…To be punished mercilessly. Petyr replied, his sad cynical eyes shining with whatever little defiance he still could muster.

“To atone for your sins.” Varys corrected him, rolling his eyes. “To cleanse your soul so you could finally rise up to the light of paradise.”

I don’t feel much cleansed. My mind and my heart are a mess. I feel disgusted by all that Ramsay has done to me, and I loathe myself even more for every horrible thing I have ever done to others. There is nothing clean about me.

“It’s not uncommon for those who are newly awakened to find themselves lost in a bewildered, self-loathing state. That is why I am here. Only souls who are ready to complete their atonement are visited by me. You really should consider yourself very lucky. I am your new counselor who will help you in the last leg of your journey towards the light.”

Petyr cast up his eyes and studied the self-righteous grin on the eunuch’s face.

What if I don’t want your help? He asked hesitantly.

“Don’t you want to leave this horrid place?” Varys asked, taken slightly by surprise. “Put an end to all of your horrible suffering?”

I don’t want anything. Not anymore. I am at the bottom of the heap in a dumping pit for the broken, the crippled, and the useless. I am in the right place, and shouldn’t be anywhere else. I deserve to be here. Leave me alone Spider. I have no use for your so-called wisdom. I release you from whatever duties you have towards me. Let me be wretched.

“So you want to give up?” Varys let out a sigh, finally understanding what was going on. “Is that your grand scheme now?”

Petyr glared at him with accusation in his hooded eyes. You let me remember everything through her. When I was on my knees pleading to her, I was pleading to a phantom inside my head. That was a disgusting trick that you have played on me.

“It was not done to you to be spiteful. It was to help you. When the Gods took away your memories, they preserved the two that meant to most to you to guide you back when you were finally deemed ready. Sansa Stark has always been the sole light in your darkness. What better guise for your conscience to take to help you regain your memories than that of her?” Varys glanced down at him. “Be honest my friend, don’t you wish you could join her, the real Sansa Stark, to be with her where she is now?”

Is this another lie? Yet another cruel deception of your Gods to punish me?

“No. I am speaking truthfully. If you fully atone, you truly may leave and go pass into her world, into the land of the living, and go find her. Don’t you want that Petyr? Doesn’t your heart call out to her? Aren’t you just yearning to see that lovely face with those fiery auburn locks again?”

She…she betrayed me. She had me executed by her little assassin sister.

“Oh but the poor girl had no other choice really. Bran Stark had exposed all of your crimes to her. If she didn’t reprimand there wouldn’t be any justice in the world. Her clansmen demanded it. Her family honor demanded it.”

She hated me. The realization tore at his heart. It was as if the cut had been made only yesterday.

“Yes, she once did, and can you blame her? You betrayed her and her family, and for what? All for your own mad selfish goals.”

He struggled to breathe through his gag. Is this why I am still here? Fear and doubt rose in his heart as he gave in to his own demons. Is it because she has never truly forgiven me? He asked anxiously. Ned Stark, he sent me here. He signed the document to get me committed…Maybe she asked her father...

“Oh please, don’t go down that horrible depressing road. You’re torturing yourself for no good reason. Let me remind you, Sansa Stark came here to purgatory to find you. The girl loves you. She has forgiven you. Don’t you remember? When her father came to King’s Landing to take her back home, she was reluctant to leave you behind. She has sworn to return and to get you out.”

If that is true, why am I still here? Why has she abandoned me for so long?

“Healing takes time. Like you, she had regained knowledge of her old self and was very much affected by it. But she will come for you.”

Petyr found it very difficult to believe Varys. Deep in his heart he could no longer comprehend why she would ever want to come back for him. Remembering his own past had revealed to him what kind of monster he once was. How could she in her right mind, ever love someone as horrible as that?

How would you know? He asked with fear in his heart and doubt in his mind. How can you ever be so sure?

“I am still a spymaster, although the lords I am now serving are more of the celestial kind. My little birds cross over into the land of the living frequently, and bring back their whispers about your dearest to me. You have my word, Petyr. She will be coming back for you.”

Varys watched him struggle pitifully against his bonds. “What are you doing?”

I can’t move my arms. I can't move my hands. Petyr was caught in a surge of panic. I can’t make sure it is still there.

“You still have it.” Varys told him kindly, after realizing what he was attempting to do. “They let you keep it. The little silver mockingbird that she has given you. It’s in its rightful place, kept close to your heart.”

His reassurance calmed him. Petyr let out a long ragged sigh. His tired eyes glanced up at Varys. He still didn’t know if the Spider was speaking the truth, or if he could really trust him, but every bit of hope that he could offer him was better than none at all.

What do I still need to do to finally be able to leave? He asked, finally admitting that he needed help.

“Well, let’s begin by simply trying to stay sane for a start. You don’t want her to come and find you like this, do you?” Varys gave him a small reassuring smile. “When Sansa Stark finally arrives at the Red Keep, she expects to find Petyr Bealish, not some poor mutilated song bird.”

 

NOTES: Next chapter will be posted next Friday. See you there! H.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

NOTES: Suggested music tracks:

 

The night we met

 For part 2

 

1.

Two days ago.

The waitress at the counter of the Greasy Spoon café hardly batted her eyelids when she saw the over six feet tall police woman enter the establishment with the sulking young red head towed not far behind her.

“Hi Brienne.” She greeted her. She seemed almost too cheerful for the truly absurd early hour of the day. “Ah, I see you got another one.”

“Good morning Miss Greyfield, is my usual table still available?” Brienne asked politely.

“It’s the graveyard shift honey, of course it is.” She guided the two women to a booth tucked away in the far corner of the completely deserted restaurant. Sansa sat down first. The short chains of the handcuffs did not allow a lot of space, and she and Brienne ended up sitting awkwardly close next to one another.

“Here you go sweetheart.” The waitress offered her a menu. Although it was neatly sealed in plastic, it was still covered in all kinds of peculiar stains.

“I don’t want to order anything. I am not hungry.” Sansa told her, still sulking like a spoilt teenager.

“Oh but you will be by the time Brienne here is finished with you hon. At least order something to keep you from getting too bored.”

“Thank you miss Greyfield." Brienne informed the waitress, eager to get rid of her. "I will signal you when we’re ready to order.”

“Sure, just don’t be too harsh on her.” She gave her a wink and left.

“The food here is not too bad.” Brienne told Sansa. “You should order the pancakes. I find that talks like this are much easier with pancakes.”

“You do this more often?”

“It has become a quirky habit of mine." She admitted, a little embarrassed. "Whenever I find someone new who is looking for King’s Landing, I bring them here for a little chat.”

“You run into more people who are looking for it?”

“Mylady, you have no idea how many there are who trying to find it. Most of them are idiots of course. Self-proclaimed priests, witches, and other delusional nutcases who think they need to communicate with the dead or believe that there is something to gain from the lost souls that dwell in that cursed place. They must be stopped at all costs to prevent them to do any harm to themselves and to others. But then there are also decent folk, like your father, who have lost someone dear to them to the other side and are trying very hard to get to there to bring them back.”

“You’ve met my father?”

“Yes, I have met lord Eddard Stark. I ran into him when he came to London. He insisted-" She recalled with a little smile. "-that I called him Ned.“

“Yes.” Despite her irritation with Brienne, Sansa couldn’t keep herself from smiling. “He does say that often to people who he likes.”

“He told me he wanted to go to King’s Landing to find his daughter who had ran away from home. I first thought he was talking about Arya. The way I remembered you, you didn’t seem to me the running away type, but he was looking for you. Because his intentions were noble and pure, and he posed no threat to the celestial order, I decided to assist him.”

“It was you? You helped my father to find me?”

“I had to help him. Without my guidance, no living soul is able to cross over to the land of the dead."

“Well, no one, except for me, I suppose.” Sansa muttered, recalling how she had accidentally ended up on the same bus that headed for King’s Landing with Petyr, almost two years ago. “And now you think my intentions are not pure or noble enough to be worthy of your assistance?” Sansa asked, giving her an accusing look.

“Are you ready to order?” Miss Greyfield interrupted her.

“I said I would signal you.” Brienned replied sternly, but her face was showing a measure of relief.

“I know hon, but you looked like you needed a break.” The waitress said with a cheeky grin.

“Two large orders of pancakes please.” Brienne replied, suppressing a sigh. “Both with maple syrup, and one large coffee, black.”

“A cup of tea for me please, no sugar.” Sansa told Miss Greyfield.

They remained silent for a while after the waitress was gone.

“Lady Sansa.” Brienne said, when she finally found the courage to pick up the burdened conversation after the food had been brought to their table. “I have to inform you that it is now my official duty to protect the living from the evil that dwells on the other side. I have no idea what your exact plans are, but I shall never allow a demon to enter our world from purgatory. “

“Petyr is not a demon.” Sansa replied, sticking a fork in her stack of pancakes and twisting it like it was a knife in someone’s belly.

“All condemned souls are potentially dangerous. They can become vengeful demons if they have not fully atoned before entering our world.”

“Is that so?" She dropped down her fork on her plate. "So what are you now, some sort of border patrol guarding the entrances to the underworld?”

“Yes, I am like Cerberus, the three headed hound of Hades who guards the gates to hell to keep the dead and the living apart.” She noticed the peculiar look Sansa was giving her. “It's a joke mylady...I have been assigned to this duty for a very long time." She explained to her. "Although my task is an important one, it’s not always as exciting as being a knight in war torn Westeros. I had plenty of time to pick up some good books to read.”

Brienne then put down her own fork and gazed at Sansa. “Mylady.” She said with a sudden urgency in her voice. “Why do you still want to have anything to do with Littlefinger? You had him executed for his many crimes, and rightfully so. He was a crook, a malignant deceitful weasel of a man without a shred of honor. You shouldn’t feel responsible for his demise or what happened to him afterwards. That is for the Gods to worry about, and the Gods are just.”

“The Gods are not just. They are horrible and cruel.”

“You shouldn’t speak of them in such a way. It's very disrespectful. There is a natural order to things. We all should abide it.”

“Have you been to that place that they have instructed you to guard so very diligently? I have. It’s hell.”

“Some souls, like Littlefinger, deserve nothing less.”

“Littlefinger yes, but not Petyr.  You have not seen him like I have. He has changed. 500 years of being trapped in purgatory has changed him. He is a better man now. He’s kind, and good, and absolutely undeserving of all the horrors that he still has to go through. Believe me, he has paid more than enough for every wrong that he has ever done to anyone.”

“It's not that I don't want to believe you. It’s not for us to decide what to do with him. The Gods alone know when a soul has truly made amends and can be released. You have a tender heart mylady, even though you often pretend otherwise. Has it even crossed your mind that Littlefinger might have tricked you? With a devious devil like him, how could you be ever sure he is sincere, that he is not feeding you lies?”

“I know he wasn’t pretending. He has changed for the better. I just know.” Sansa sighed and locked her gaze on Brienne’s large blue eyes. “Please Brienne. You have served me in the past. If you still know me as well as you once did, you know how stubborn I can be. I will not rest till I find a way to get back to Petyr."

“You wouldn’t be able to find King’s landing without me.”

“I have found it the first time without any of your aid.”

“That was an exception, a mistake." She admitted. "You shouldn’t be able to just wander into the underworld.”

“Maybe it was. Maybe it was just luck, but what prevents me from being lucky again? Or maybe it was a not a mistake, but a decision made by your Gods, who have in their great wisdom, decided that Petyr Bealish has finally suffered enough and have sent me down to him to guide him out. Have you ever considered that possibility?”

“Stop this." Brienne pleaded. "I know what you're doing. You’re trying to sway me to do something that isn’t right!”

“I am trying to convince you that the world isn’t so black and white. It has multiple shades of grey. It's time you start to acknowledge this." She paused and looked away, searching for a way to get through to her. She finally found one.

"Jaime Lannister."

A pause with the length of a single heartbeat. "What about him?"

"You and Jaime were good friends, weren't you? You told me that he gave you his Valyrian steel sword. What was it named again." Sansa muttered, struggling to recall the details.

"Oathkeeper." Brienne said softly, the memory of ser Jaime visibly struck a tender cord in her heart. "His sword was called Oathkeeper." 

"What if I told you that Jaime Lannister was in purgatory?" Sansa told her, half cursing herself for her cruelty.

Brienne large blue eyes hardened in response to the injury that her words had brought her. "That cannot be true. Ser Jaime has redeemed himself. He was repentant and honorable. He was nothing like Littlefinger."

"Was he? He murdered a king he had sworn to protect. He killed his own sister."

"He sacrificed himself to save the Seven Kingdoms. He sacrificed his honor and his own life -" Brienne paused, her lips pressed firmly together and twisting downward. "Forgive me mylady." She added with a bitter accusing stare. "But I have not seen seen you weep a single tear for the demise of Cercei Lannister. None of us did. We were all glad that she was gone."  

But Sansa was not going to stop, not until the formidable female knight yielded. "He slept with his sister behind the king's back. He pushed Bran out of the window of the broken tower. He almost killed him."

"Enough!" Brienne slammed her hand down flat on the table, her face now torn by grief and flushed with silent anger. "Why do you wish to speak so ill of a man who you know has died to save my life?!"

"I just...wanted to make it a little more clear to you." Sansa blinked her eyes slowly. "You speak ill of Littlefinger, but he has saved my life, just like ser Jaime has saved yours. Yet both men have also done horrible things. If you knew that ser Jaime was sent to purgatory by the Gods to atone for his sins, and was suffering, would you not do something, anything to help him get out?"

"I see your point." Brienne finally admitted after a short silence. She sucked in a deep breath and gazed up at the ceiling for a moment before returning her gaze back to Sansa. "Is he...truly in purgatory?"

"No." Sansa lied, not wanting to tell her the truth and to cause her any more pain. "But I hope you finally understand why I am doing this. I was like you once, a rigid woman with honor and duty written all over my heart. It had forced me to do things that made me feel miserable and dead inside. I betrayed him. I betrayed my own heart. I deserved a fate as horrible as his and yet I have not been punished at all. How is that justice?" She glanced down at her handcuff. "Now that I know how I can make it up to him, I will not rest until I have done so. I will not give up on him. Now - I can do this without your help and no doubt bring myself in great danger by doing something stupid on the way, or…you could help me. You could show me the right way to do this, and protect me from all the demons and monsters in the underworld, and.. myself, like you have so cleverly pointed out.” Sansa leaned back in the soft leather chair. “So, what is it going to be?”

Another short silence, before finally Brienne replied to her. “If I agree to help you, swear to me that you will not try to release him if he is not ready.”

“I swear...I swear on my honor as a Stark.” Sansa lied.

Brienne nodded slowly and lifted her cuffed hand. “We need to get to a locksmith to have this sorted out first. I can’t swing a sword while dragging you around like this.”

 

2.

1 month ago.

He sat with her in front of a warm fire in the east tower chamber that used to be Jon Arryn’s study in the Eyrie. Inside his troubled mind, this was the safest place for him to be. It offered him a refuse from cruel reality where he could be alone with her.

Once again, Sansa looked very different from the last time he had seen her. Her hair was dyed black and tied together in a long ponytail. It matched her long silk dress that was also black, like midnight. He particularly liked the dark feathers that she had sewn onto her shoulders and bodice. It brought back precious memories from his early youth. An inquisitive smile played on her lips. Her clear blue eyes were shining with a hunger for knowledge, which he knew, he alone could nourish. This was not Sansa Stark, the cold angel of vengeance, who had ruined him and had sent him on his way to hell. This was Alayne Bealish, a much cherished name for a made up next of kin of his now extinct house. A disguise for his beloved pupil who had long ago wormed her way into his heart. 

“You look tired.” The hint of sincere concern in her voice was enough to stifle all of his resentment towards her and tore his old wounds wide open again. 

“I am very tired.” He ran his hand over his face, his trembling fingers unconsciously traced over the healing scabs. “It’s those pills. They stop me from thinking. They make me want to go to sleep all the time.” Red, blue, white and black, all different colors and sizes they had been. He had swallowed them all down whenever they gave it to him, without even questioning what they were and what they would do to him, just like the good little lunatic they had taught him to be.

“Then maybe you should stop taking them.”

A long silence followed. He was unsure how to react to her presence. “What are you?” He finally asked, figuring that he might as well just get this over with. There was no use in playing games with the phantoms inside his head.

“What do you mean?”

“This.” He gestured at the false security that the imaginary blue stone walls provided to him, the comfort of the soft furs at his feet, and warmth of the fire in the hearth, his grey blue eyes never left hers. “None of this is really here. You are not really her. So what are you? Are you my conscience, like you were when you forced me to regain my full memory? Or are you just a random hallucination this time?”

“You make me into what you need me to be. Right now, you want me to be your voice of reason.”

“My reason?” A tired smirk curled his lips, and he narrowed his eyes at her in baffled amusement. “So I think it is wise for myself to stop taking my medication?” He reasoned.

“You think it would be wise for you to start using your wits.” She replied.

He leaned back in his chair, wearing a bitter grin on his face. “And to what purpose exactly?”

“As always, to get what you want.”

His sad grin widened. He shook his head and raised his eyebrows at her. “Varys instructed me to keep my peace while I wait for you to come back for me. That’s all what I am attempting to do. I am trying to do what they say is right. I follow the path that the Gods have instructed me to follow.”

Sansa gave him a small, teasing smile. “It’s obvious to me that you have been here far too long. You don’t sound much like yourself. Do you even trust Varys and his Gods?”

“They are my jailors, they are the ones who have condemned me to this hell. What do you think?” He told her bitterly as the grin disappeared from his face. “But what can I do but accept whatever bullshit is offered to me? I am helpless. There are no other choices left for me here but to comply.”

“This really does not sound like you at all.” Sansa replied with a broadening smile, her mild teasing now turning into open mockery. “The Petyr I know would not give up and quietly sit in his prison cell, waiting for others to decide over his fate. He uses whatever he has at his disposal to get what he desires. He knows that there are always other options and other paths to thread. He always has a plan, and will always take his own fate into his own hands.”

She stared at him then, her azure blue eyes alight. “Because he knows that there is no justice in this world, not unless we make it.”

He slowly blinked his eyes at her. The old wounds that the very presence of her had cut anew were now bleeding openly. “The very last time I saw you.” He whispered. “When you said this to me, the old you…you gave orders to your sister to have my throat slit.”

“I was your student.” She replied, shrugging her shoulders in response to his accusation. “You made me in your own image, and you had wronged me. So what did you expect?” She leaned back and returned to him another smile. “I thought you would be proud.”

Petyr sucked in a deep miserable breath and gazed away in silence, not willing to engage in an emotional discussion with a woman who wasn’t even really there.

“I agree.” Sansa said, knowing exactly how he felt. “Let’s not get lost in matters of the heart. Your love for me has been nothing but a curse to you. Better to let it rest and let reason reign.” She leaned towards him, and caught his gaze again. “Let’s start at the beginning. The first thing you need to do is to stop lying to yourself. So tell me, what is it that you truly want?”

“I want...I want to get out of this cursed place.” He told her truthfully. “It doesn’t matter if it is in a way the spider would approve of, or not.” He confessed. “And I don’t give a fuck whether I have fully atoned in the eyes of his malignant Gods, or if my soul is still deemed too rotten to be suitable company for the saints of paradise. I just want to get out. Staying here any longer would make the end of me.”

“What else?”

I want you.” He whispered, and gazed up at her while letting out a deep wretched sigh. “I wish I didn’t, that I could hate you instead, but I can’t. You’re right. You do hold me like a curse.”

He paused, and swallowed a lump in his dry throat as he wrung his ruined hands. “I wish I had never met you.” His eyes were glazed with tears of frustration. “If I could go back to that very day we first met and tell myself not to be involved, I would. But once, I had all, and then some, and now none of you, and that loss cuts me. It cuts me like a knife. I don’t know what I am supposed to do. Investing my heart in you must be the worst decision I have ever made. It broke me, and yet…I am still haunted. So much so that even inside my own head I require these delusional representations of you to summon whatever strength is left in me to fight back. I cannot hate you, for I cannot live without you, and I still want you…despite of everything.”

“And?” She pushed on, knowing that there was more.

“I want justice.” He finally admitted. A strange smile appeared on his lips while his eyes drowned in angry tears as he remembered how he had suffered by the hands of his cruel tormentors. “I am not the only sinner here who has not fully repaid his debts. Maybe I got all what I deserved,” He whispered, his cheerless smile now carrying a hint of madness. “But I swear to you, so will they. They robbed me of my life. Took everything away from me, and buried what was left of me in a hole in the ground to let that be my grave, but I survived. I am still here… and when I am finally freed from this place, I am going to hunt them down. I am going to repay them a thousand times for every scar they have given me. I swear, I will burn it all down into ashes, I am going to tear their world apart till I have my revenge.”

She nodded. “Autonomy, love, and retribution.” She summarized. “So these are your goals then. Can you work with them?”

“Yes…Always.” And no other truer causes for any of my actions there were or ever shall be.

“Let’s begin with the first. How do you acquire your freedom? What do you need?”

“I need pieces to move on the board. I need knowledge of these pieces.”

“What do you have available to you? What drives them? Come on Petyr, you have been fully awake in this horrid place for almost 2 months now.” Her vibrant eyes were interrogating his. “What have you observed? Who has the right motives to be useful to you? Which of these poor lost souls require but a push into the right direction to help you get what you desire?”

He gazed back at this impossibly clever, beautiful, wicked creature, his injured heart full of adoration. How he wished this could be really her. This was the Sansa he had always dreamed of, a woman who had forgiven him and understood him fully, who had stared his demons in the eyes and had refused to run. She knew who he was, and still had accepted him regardlessly. Perhaps to her, he would never have to lie again.

My dearest love, you and I, we truly could have achieved so much together. I would have given you everything that your heart desired. If only you had let me.

“Do you have your pieces in sight Petyr?”

“There a few who I might be able to use.” He suggested, his mind finally working hand in hand with his reason again. He felt much calmer now, much more at peace. Falling back into his old habits was like shrugging on an old comfortable coat.

Sansa kept him captive with her bewitching eyes. “Tell me about each and every one of them.”

 

3.

2 months ago.

The impressively huge man who had rescued Petyr from his underground prison was not a complete stranger to him. It was hard to miss the hideous scars that pockmarked the entire right side of his face.

Sandor Clegane, the Mountain’s scarred little brother and Joffrey’s loyal killer hound. His older brother melted off half of his face when he was but a pup.

The last thing that Petyr had learned of his fate was that Clegane had fled the battle of Blackwater, and that the crown had denounced him as a deserter and traitor to repay him for his many years of loyal service.

So you have not killed enough men and were deemed a coward, or you have killed too many and you were deemed a murderer. Either way, you ended up here, with the rest of us dejected lot. And now you are even my new keeper. I bet the long years you’ve spent in purgatory have not softened your temper one little bit. I bet you’re still prone to horrible bursts of violence, and that I am going to bear the brunt of it. Petyr thought miserably.

He thought himself right when his warden finally, after Petyr had been left strapped to the bed for countless of days, took the catheter and the infusion needle out of him and dragged him to the showers. He stripped him and hung him naked by his wrists from the tiled walls before he hosed him down, like he was washing a muddy horse in the stable.

“If you want to piss, do it now. I have no time to drag you to the toilet.” Clegane said while he cleaned him, brushing his still raw and painful patchwork of healing scars with a coarse broom.

Petyr remained silent and cast his eyes down to the cracked tiled floor, too full of shame to look his new warden in the face.

Yet another brute to degrade and terrorize me. How my miserable existence just keeps repeating itself.

When Clegane was finished, he put him back in his straightjacket, securing the straps on his back so tight that he could hardly breathe in it. Then he brought him back to his cell.

“You have to start eating.” The Hound told him after he had bound him down in a heavy chair. Leather straps ran across his chest and legs. A very short leather leash, not much different from a dog leash, was secured around his neck to prevent him from getting violent towards his new keeper.

As if I would ever be able to harm this beast of a man. Petyr thought. One blow from his ham-sized fists would be enough to crack my skull wide open like a melon and bring all of my troubles to an end…So maybe I should try to aggravate him.

“I said, you have to eat.” Clegan repeated after he had tried several times to push a spoon pass his lips.

Petyr didn’t want to obey him. He didn’t want to be fed like an infant, strapped in a chair by a thug who had just made him go through so many humiliations.

All he wanted was to be left to his own misery.

“If you don’t eat you’ll die.”

No I won’t you dumb brute. I have been starved by Roose Bolton’s bastard for weeks, and still I didn’t perish. I am truly abandoned by everyone. Even the Stranger doesn’t want to take me away.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Clegane finally huffed, throwing the spoon into the bowl after several failed attempts.

Petyr just glared at him, a look of badly hidden resentment burning in his grey blue eyes.

“I don’t have all day. If you don’t eat by yourself, I will try something else.” Clegane pinched Petyr’s cheeks together with one large meaty hand. “I will put a thick pipe up one of your nostrils and shove it all down till it sits in your stomach. Then I will pour the slop down through your nose. Is that what you want? Do you want me to feed you like that?” He let go of him, grunting like an angered bear. When he turned, Petyr thought that he was going to hit him and cringed away, but instead his keeper picked up the bowl from the floor.

“Eat.” His warden rasped in a low, intimidating voice.

Although still gazing up at him with silent anger burning in his eyes, Petyr finally opened his mouth and swallowed down the slop that that was offered to him.

It wasn’t too bad, some kind of chicken broth thickened with flour. Every drop that entered his stomach reminded him more and more that he was actually starving. Soon he had forgotten all about his injured pride and was eagerly slurping down each spoonful that Clegane fed to him.

After the whole bowl was emptied, Clegane released him from the hated chair. Petyr quickly moved away and huddled down in the furthest corner of his cell. His arms were still strapped inside the straightjacket, but at least he was now free to move around.

“Give me less trouble tomorrow, and maybe I’ll let you out of that crazy jacket.” His keeper commented, taking the chair and the bowl away. “Just stop being such a proud stubborn little cunt. It doesn’t help when you’re hungry.”

 

4.

Much to Petyr’s surprise, the Hound kept his word.

“He really did a good number on your hands, didn’t he?” Sandor remarked during one of the humiliating feeding sessions, not long after he had let him out of the straight jacket. His warden caught him staring down at his ruined fingers. Petyr kept them side by side, resting on his knees as he quietly sat on the bed. He was trying very hard to hold them still, but the tremor was so bad that his efforts were hardly noticeable.

Petyr’s hands used to be quite delicate.

More like a girl’s hands, Edmure had often teased him when he was young. No wonder you cannot swing a sword right. You can’t even hold one properly with those dainty little fingers of yours.

But Petyr knew he could use his hands perfectly well for other purposes. His handwriting had always been very neat, and very regular. Combine this with a creative and persistent mind and countless of letters, court financial records, and official documents have been created by or passed through his hands over the course of his short but highly productive life. There had been many eloquent, heartfelt, but in the end, unsent love letters to Cat, and many more deadly secrets written on miniature scrolls that were delivered to his confidants and targets on the dark wings of ravens. Countless of treaties had been signed and broken, and great fortunes had been made and lost by nothing more but an elegant stroke of his pen.

Now, both his hands were barely recognizable to him. The skin on his fingers was scarred and ugly, the bones thin and hardened at the joints. The tips were useless, wrinkled stumps that could no longer sense anything, not even if he would press them against a hot burning stove.

I will never be able to hold a pen and write down anything again. I can’t even pick up a knife to stab it into that nasty piece of work who has done all this to me.  

“Can you use them?” Clegane asked.

What kind of cruel, foolish question is this?

He shook his head, not looking up.

“Can you eat with it?”

Petyr gazed up at him with a somewhat baffled look in his eyes.

Clegane put the bowl down and went away, but returned quickly, bringing a small table into his cell. He placed it right in front of him. 

“Here.” he said, putting the bowl with the spoon down on the table. “Try it.”

Petyr stared at the spoon for a while, before returning his gaze back to his trembling hands.

“Go on. You’re not going to eat today if you don’t even fucking try.”

His ward didn't move.

“I thought you were so fucking proud? Do you want me to keep feeding you like you’re a spoiled little brat?”

Still very uncertain and reluctant, but indeed too proud to not at least make an attempt, Petyr finally picked up the spoon from the table. He could hardly hold on to it, dropping it several times into the tepid broth. When he finally could hold it long enough to ladle a spoonful from his bowl, his tremor made most of it spill out again, and he barely managed to get two drops in his mouth.

Clegane watched him struggle for a little while longer before he rolled his eyes and grabbed hold of his thin bony wrist.

“Don’t eat like that. You’re making a bloody mess for me to clean.”

Recalling how Ramsay had treated him, Petyr let out a long miserable sigh before bowing his head to lap up the food directly from the bowl. Instead of satisfying his new warden, he was immediately yanked back up.

“No! That’s not what I meant you little loon.” Clegane rasped, taking the spoon from him. “Look! Hold it like this. Not like you’re holding a feathered quill to write a ponchy love letter to your sweet heart, but like a dagger. Like you’re stabbing someone in the guts.” He showed it to him before handing it back.

“Here, you try.”

Petyr took back the spoon and tried to hold it in the same way the Hound had shown him. It did reduce the tremor, and this time, he was able to get half of what he spooned up into his mouth.

“Good. Now try to get more into your stomach and less of it all over yourself.”

That night, and many nights afterwards, after the lights went out in his cell, Petyr would lie awake in his iron frame bed, and diligently train his ruined fingers by pretending to hold a dagger in his hands. A dagger, that he pretended to repetitively stab into Ramsay’s face, burying the cold steel into his bulging eyes and bulbous nose and slicing into his disgusting meaty lips to remove his devilish grin, till there was nothing left but one large gory cavity.  

 

5.

He was finally allowed to spend some time away from his cell and was brought out to the day room, a vast chamber with a high ceiling and white washed walls, covered by yellow floor tiles that were faded and cracked. All the inmates inside the Red Keep that were not deemed too dangerous were herded in here, kept together under lock and key during daytime. The place was seriously overcrowded, and stank of sweat and dried up urine. During his stays, Petyr always made sure that he did not get involved with his fellow lunatics. Frightful and pathetic creatures they were, with hollow cheeks and mindless gazes, who paced like caged animals up and down in front of the barred gates. He just feared that he might recognize too much of himself in their haunted deep sunken eyes.

There were no chairs, tables or any other furniture in there, leaving the inmates little else to do but to wander around aimlessly, or to sit on the ground, huddled against the walls. What were present were 4 large windows with bars in front that flooded the chamber with daylight.

They provided him with a much longed for view into the outside world. He had been incarcerated in the Red Keep for more than a year. Half of it he had spend in utter darkness, the other half locked up in a windowless cell without knowing if it was day or night, without seeing even a single blade of grass. Now, he would sit on the floor in front of one of the windows, swaddled in a coarse grey blanket, while staring out into the small courtyard garden for hours without end, his ruined fingers continuously fumbling with the little silver mockingbird pennant.

On the other side of the bars and the glass, the foliage of the trees had turned bright yellow, red and orange. A bed of fallen leaves sat at the feet of their black trunks. A flock of hungry sparrows came by each day to search through the growing pile, looking for small morsels of food.

“A very good day and seven blessings to you.”

He looked up at the grey old man who had just greeted him. Like Petyr, he was barefooted, and dressed in a simple thin blue hospital gown.

“May I join you?”

Not much in need of company, but realizing that he was not in any position to refuse anyone, Petyr just nodded. The old man leaned with his back against the wall facing him.

“You have to forgive me for not sitting down with you. It’s my knees you see, they are completely ruined. Once I get down to the floor I can’t get up again.” The old man studied his face. “You’ve been looking out at our garden for quite a while now, keeping all by yourself. Don’t you want to join the others?”

Join them in doing what exactly? Am I not damaged enough already? Do I need to practice to make perfect my madness with the rest of this bizarre flock of lunatics in this sick cage that we all have been put into?

Petyr just shook his head.

“I understand that most of the patients can appear very frightening to those in here who still hold the belief that they more sane than others. I can assure you, madness is not contagious. People who suffer from it are to be pitied, not punished and ignored because of their illness. I believe that compassion is better medicine than all the pills the modern doctors can prescribe to these poor lost souls. That, together with the mercy and the guidance of the Gods.”

A spark of recognition lit up in Petyr’s mind. Ramsay once told him that the Red Keep was run by a doctor turned priest called father Sparrow. This must be the High Sparrow, the self-proclaimed Septon of the poor who had turned King’s Landing into a religious masacre. Cercei finally got rid of him by purging him and his overzealous followers in wildfire…together with half of the population of the city…At least the Gods did right to put this mad fanatic in here with the rest of us madmen.   

“Who are you?” He asked, seeking acknowledgement for his suspicions.

“They call me dr. Sparrow, although I detest that academic title, I have indeed earned it in my younger years. It’s that tittle that allows me to be in charge of this place. They also call me father Sparrow. It’s a name I much more prefer, having found my true calling after my many wanderings later in life.” He gazed at him with a sharp glint clouded eyes. “And you are Petyr Bealish.”

Petyr nodded.

“You are not very talkative.”

“Forgive my rudeness." He replied hesitantly, his voice still hoarse for lack of use. "I am no longer much used to company. I have not been allowed to talk for a very long time.”

“Ah yes, Ramsay…that was very unfortunate. You can talk to me. That’s what I do with my patients. I talk and try to help them to get better by guiding them back to the light of the Seven. Do you believe in the Gods Petyr?”

“I used to. When I was a boy.”

“And you don’t believe in them any longer?”

“An awful lot has happened since then.”

“It always does.” The High Sparrow let out a deep sigh. “I think I don’t need to tell you that our world is a cruel, merciless place. The Gods have left us paradise, but mankind has turned it into such a poor imitation of hell.” He stared down at Petyr, his cloudy grey eyes full of sincerity and compassion. “Whatever hardship and difficulty you have endured, it shouldn’t stop you from believing. Following the one true faith is the only way to find salvation in this place. I believe you still want that, don’t you?”

 


 

“That was the High Sparrow? He is in purgatory as well?” Sansa asked him in his mind when he was left alone again in his cell at night.

“Does that still surprise you? Everyone of Westeros must be here. All except for the saintly Starks of course.”

“If he is in charge of the asylum, he is in a position to let you out.”

“I very much doubt he has the final say in this. I asked him a few more questions, to see if he has regained any knowledge of his past life. The old man is as clueless as all the others. He is as much a prisoner of this cruel system that the Gods have built to keep us here as I am.”

He might not be able to let you leave purgatory, but getting out of the asylum is still a necessary first step to your freedom. So, did you find out what he wants?”

His lips curled into a little smirk. “He wants me to go read a boring old book.”

 


 

A thick volume bound in worn leather landed on the father Sparrow’s desk.

“The true words of the Seven, bound together in more than 1000 pages of sacred text. We all should learn to live by its wisdom.” Father Sparrow placed his hand on the cover. The small act was full of reverence. “Have you read the passages that I have marked out for you?”

“Yes.” Petyr replied, staring down meekly at his dirty bare feet. “I’ve read them. I’ve read the entire book.”

Father Sparrow cocked an eyebrow. “That is remarkable. I have only given you a copy a few of days before.”

“My mind has been starved of any mental stimulation for a very long time. I was hungry for knowledge." He tried to appear as humble and sincere as possible. "I am truly, very grateful that you have given me this to read. The words of the Gods were a revelation to me."

“Oh?” Father Sparrow leaned against his desk and studied Petyr's face. “Tell me then, how has it affected you?”

“Before I came here, before they locked me up, I have committed many sins." He admitted, keeping his head bowed and his eyes down. "I have done many things that were considered great crimes in the eyes of the Gods. Reading the holy text has opened my eyes. I finally see what wrong I have done in my life, and why it has led me here.” He was telling lies as much as he was speaking the truth. Although he was restored to his old self, he had only been Littlefinger for the last 30 years of his life. He had been Petyr, the witless, but kindhearted fool trapped in purgatory for much longer. Even if he could fully remember Littlefinger now, the helpful young man who never saw the bad in anyone, who was always needlessly forgiving and almost terminally sympathetic, who couldn’t even let a single lie pass his lips without choking on it, was still very much part of him, and that Petyr was absolutely horrified and sickened by his past actions. It was impossible for him now to fully ignore his conscience like he had once done. Without himself realizing, his confession to the high Sparrow was as much a confession to himself as it was a fabrication to appease the old man.

“Knowing yourself and confessing to your sins is the first step to full atonement.” The High Sparrow replied, nodding at him in encouragement. “There are few truer paths that can lead us to salvation. If you want to come clean with your past, you can talk to me Petyr, and I will promise you that I shall guide you to absolution.”

“I don’t know if I should. I don’t want you to think that I am unredeemable.”

“No-one is unredeemable in the eyes of the Seven. There is also nothing shameful in admitting your wrongs, for most of us have sinned in one way or another during our long walk from darkness to the light. So go on my dear Petyr. I shall not judge.”

Petyr finally gazed up at the High Sparrow, letting out a deep sigh and looking much contrite. “How much time do you have for today father?”

 


 

“And? Did he lock you up again and throw away the key after he found out what kind of monster you were?” Sansa teased.

“No, he didn’t.” He had not told him everything, but he did tell him enough. He had also been careful leaving out the details that might trigger the High Sparrow’s memory of his past life in Westeros. Things were certainly complicated enough already. He didn’t want to needlessly make it more difficult for himself. “Although he seemed very shocked at first, I do think he was actually really pleased to hear my confessions. Finally there is real challenge for the old religious fanatic to shape and indoctrinate into submission.”

“And you wouldn’t mind that, would you?” Sansa commented with a smile, knowing him better then he would want to admit.

His eyes flashed up at her. “What do you mean?”

“You want to get out your way, because you don’t trust the Gods, and yet you cherish some hope that perhaps, the path that Varys and the High Sparrow offer to you will provide you with the absolution that you so crave. You want to be in absolute control of the situation and you want to submit to the will of the Gods. My poor Petyr.." She told him, shaking her head. "-you are so awfully confused right now.”

“I am not confused. I know what I want. Didn’t we establish that the first night we talked? I do not seek forgiveness.” He told her in a low threatening voice. “Don’t start thinking that you know me.”

“There you go, being horribly confused again.” Sansa laughed, and leaned back in her chair, her amused eyes still fixed on his.

“Petyr, I am you.” She calmly reminded him. “How can I not know when you’re lying to yourself?”

 

NOTES: Next part of this chapter will be posted next week Friday. See you then! H.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

NOTES: Sorry for being late with posting, it has been crazy!

Selected music tracks:

 

The Song of the Seven

 

Penny Dreadful soundtrack

For part 6

 

Monster

For part 7, 8, 9

 

 

6.

The Maiden dances through the sky

She lives in every lover's sigh

Her smiles teach birds to fly

And gives dreams to little children

 

The Seven Gods who made us all

Are listening if we should call

So close your eyes, you shall not fall

They see you, little children

 

The Song of the Seven

 

The woman who stood on the narrow strip of coastal rock of the Fingers at the very edge of the Seven Kingdoms, had long black hair and large, bewitching eyes, the colour green of precious emeralds. She smiled amused when she watched her boy of seven climb over the rocks to reach a bird’s nest for her.

“Do you see it Petyr?” Her voice although light, was loud and clear against the roar of the crashing waves below. If the current lord of Bealish keep was here right now, he would certainly have a grand fit and scold at her for letting their only son and heir do such a dangerous thing on his own, but her husband wasn’t present, and she had more then enough faith in her little boy. 

“Yes! Yes I see it!” Petyr turned around and beamed a smile at her when the storm tern’s nest finally came in sight. Such a warm, radiant smile he had. Her husband thought that he was too frail and small for his age, but to her, he was just perfect. A smart, daring child, blessed with a winning grin and all the luck of the Seven. “Here.” He held up a bundle of feathers and ran back to her after he had clambered down from the cliff. Agile and quick and fearless he was, like a little squirrel bouncing down a tree. “These are for you.” He pronounced proudly, his little cheeks flushed red with his efforts.

She gladly received his little gift and stroked the long silver-grey flight feathers with her fingertips. ‘Thank you my sweetling. They are very beautiful.”

“Put them in your hair! Put them in your hair!” Her son insisted, jumping on his toes in excitement.

That infectious smile again, beaming up at her.

“In my hair?” She winked and held the whole bundle in front of her long black locks. “Do you think it will look nice?’

“It will look beautiful mother!”

She selected two smaller ones and tucked the quills behind her left ear. “Like this?”

Petyr nodded happily and was already scuttling back up the rocks. “I am going to get the rest for you too.” He shouted back, his voice giddy with cheerfulness, his little heart overflowing with pride that his gift had pleased her so.

On a nearby birdshit splattered rock, an ink black raven observed the scene with mild interest. 

That night, when Petyr was lying in his bed and was supposed to sleep, he watched his mother sit quietly by the hearth and sew the feathers onto her favourite dress. She had already covered the shoulders and the bodice with the silver feathers of seagulls and terns that he had collected for her over the last few months. Her clever resourcefulness had transformed the once dull garment into a dress that was worthy of a highborn lady. The fabric now shone like the finest silk. The natural pattern of the feathers mimicked that of silver thread embroidery, and appeared exquisite and rich. To Petyr, there was no smarter, kinder, or more beautiful woman in his life. He adored her, as much as she adored him.

“Mother?” He asked, his sleepy eyes were still following her nimble fingers as they patiently guided the needle through the fabric. “When am I finally going to meet my little sister?”

His mother put her hand on her growing belly and stroked it lovingly. “It will take another three months or so.” She gazed up at him with a generous smile. “And I have told you so many times, you can’t be so sure that you’re getting a little sister. Your father is convinced that it’s going to be a boy. Maester Sentyl agrees with him. You still think it is going to be girl?”

Petyr nodded.

“Do you have a name for her then?”

“I want to call her Alayne.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “We can’t name her that.” She laughed.

“Why not?”

“Well…that’s my name Petyr. It’s your mother’s name.”

Petyr shrugged and grinned. “Yes I know.”

“So…wouldn’t that be very confusing, my sweetling?”

He shook his head. “Her name is going to be Alayne.” He was absolutely certain about this. To him, there was simply no better name in the world. “Besides, father wants to call her after grandfather. That’s much more confusing, especially for a girl.” He added with a cheeky little smile.

She lifted her eyebrows in amusement, smiling gently. “Honestly Petyr.” She told him, shaking her head. “Won’t you prefer a little brother? Your father wants you to have a little brother. You will finally have someone to play with. Like your cousin Cedrick? Didn’t you like his company when he visited from Braavos?”

“I don’t want a brother.” Petyr muttered, looking down and fumbling with his sleeves. “And I don’t like playing with my cousin. He hit me on the head with his wooden sword. He ruined the puffin’s nest that I have found for him and he drowned the chicks. I want a sister. She will be more like you, won’t she mother?”

“Like me?”

Petyr nodded. “She will be beautiful and kind, just like you. She won’t force me to do stupid things, like hitting things with sticks all the time. She will sing me songs, and we could all go to the shore together to watch birds and collect feathers for you.”

“She won’t be like me from the beginning.” She laughed; her voice was very pleasant, light and melodious, like a woodland bird’s. “She will need to grow up first.” She leaned towards him, and softly tapped his button nose. “And she can’t sing you any songs. She knows none yet. You need to sing to her first. You need to read to her.” She gently stroked his little crow’s nest of black locks and kissed his forehead. Her strange, clever, precious little boy, always with his head lost in the clouds. “You will be her older brother Petyr. You will be the wiser and more experienced one. You need to protect her, and teach her everything, just like I have taught you.” She whispered to him. “Will you do that for me, my sweetling? Will you promise me that you will take care of our little Alayne when she is finally here?”

He promised her.

 


 

She wore that same silver grey feather dress when the men lowered her down on the pyre made in haste on one of the windswept cliff of the Fingers. The man who stood silently next to it was tall, much taller then Petyr would ever become. He had mousy brown hair and a scruffy week-old beard. His blue grey eyes were red and puffy, and drowned in tears.

“What is this?” He looked down at his only surviving child while his beloved wife and stillborn child, a baby girl born 2 months too early, were carefully arranged side by side by the Silent Sisters on the tangle of driftwood. A large raven circled around their heads and cowed almost mournfully. Petyr held up the flower that he had made of silver tern feathers for him to see, but his father’s sight had become too clouded with grief to be able to see any beauty in such a simple thing.

“Don’t put that rubbish on your mother’s funeral pyre.” He scolded at him. “It’s bad enough I have nothing to give her to take with her.”

“But…she likes feather flowers.” Petyr muttered. “She always asks me to make them for her.”

“Believe me child, she never had any use for those.” His father sucked in a ragged breath. “Your mother deserved pearl necklaces, golden rings incrusted with gems, and rich silk dresses. She deserved everything I couldn’t give her.” He stopped rambling and finally broke down in sobs, his towering frame shaking. “Now she has passed on into the next world. I will never be able to make it up to her.” Overtaken by sorrow, he took the feather flower from his child and threw it over the cliff into the ocean. Petyr watched it fall apart as it tossed around in the waves, clashing against the rocks below.

The hollow words that the Septon spoke to the small crowd of mourners could console neither father nor son. Then the lord of Bealish keep lit the pyre, and Petyr’s mother and his little sister both left his world in flames, their spirits transformed into a dark plume of smoke that faded into nothing in the broad grey sky above. 

He could not sleep that night. He kept seeing his mother, holding the bundle of tern feathers in front of her cascade of black hair, and his eyes would swim in tears again. So he crept out of bed. He sneaked down the narrow winding staircase and went to the small Sept at the back of the keep. The building was ancient and dilapidated, one step away from becoming a full ruin, like everything else in the keep, but his mother had visited it every single day of her life. She had always been a devoted follower of the Faith.

It was her who had taught Petyr how to pray to the Seven. Following her gentle guidance, Petyr would kneel in the Sept every night before he went to bed, and humbly ask the Father to teach him to know right from wrong, and to never stray from the path of the righteous. From the Mother, he would ask to learn the true virtues of mercy and kindness. From the Warrior, Crone, and Smith, he would ask courage, wisdom and zeal, while from the beautiful blushing Maiden, he would plead to one day receive the precious gift of love. Ever since his mother had taught him about the Seven at a very tender age, he had prayed to these six stony faces of the one true God, but never had he prayed to all Seven of them.

It was not common practice to ask anything of the Stranger.

He didn’t even know if this faceless God would ever listen to anyone. Still, he was convinced that he needed to try. His mother had been taken from him by sickness and death. It was only common sense that he would ask no other face but that of the Stranger to bring her back. So he knelt down in front of the only altar in the Sept that was without representation of the Gods in stone.

No candles were ever lit in front of the Stranger’s altar. To make sure that his words will reach him, he took one from the Father’s altar and placed it on the flat stones in front of the empty pedestal. Then he folded his hands, shut his eyes, and poured all of his grief and pain and loneliness into his prayer.

“To the Stranger.” He whispered, careful not to speak too loud and wake anyone in the keep. “I humbly ask of you to bring back my mother Alayne. She died trying to give birth to my baby sister a few days ago. I miss her terribly. Please bring her back to me…” He paused, and suddenly struggled to find the courage to continue. His heart was hammering inside his chest. It felt like he was doing something wrong, something horribly wicked, and maybe it was. There must be a reason why his mother never let him pray to the Stranger, or why she never prayed to him herself.

“Please, I promise you that I will do anything.” He said, his heart full of sincerity. “Whatever you may ask of me, I will do, if only you would bring her back. She was kind. She was good. She prayed to the Gods every day. She didn’t deserve this. I don’t even know why you took her from me.” He muttered. Horrible things like this never happened in the songs she used to sing to him. In those songs, only the wicked were punished, the good and the brave always lived happily ever after. In those songs, the Stranger didn’t come to steal mothers away from little boys who had well behaved themselves, who had done nothing wrong to deserve such a terrible loss. Petyr knew very well that he shouldn’t. His mother had certainly taught him better, but secretly, he greatly resented the Gods for this. To him, they had not behaved like true Gods, for they had been neither merciful nor just…but perhaps the Stranger would now listen to him, and finally make right their horrible wrongs.

A cold wind churned through the Sept, and entered the chamber through the countless holes in the rotten dome ceiling above. It made the thin fabric of his night gown flutter around him and snuffed out the many lights in the altars of the Gods, all except for the single candle that he had placed in front of the Stranger. He shivered, and gazed around, wide-eyed and fearful of the sudden darkness. The only light that remained was a weak silver beam that shone down through the largest opening in the roof. When he looked up, he saw a pale slice of the moon, glowing sickly in a vast starless sky. High above him, the repeated cowing of a raven, alarmed and frightful, as if the animal was in panic, echoed down into the vast empty chamber.

A single name was whispered. The voice was cold and ancient, carried in a breath of damp earth and decay, as if someone was speaking to him from a dark hidden place, where the bones and ashes of the dead were laid to rest.

Littlefinger...

“Who is there?” Petyr called out, his own voice small and very frightened.

Littlefinger…

“Who is Littlefinger? I know no-one by that name.”

Littlefinger…

“I am not Littlefinger.” He tried to explain, convinced that the Gods had made a mistake. “My name is Petyr. I am asking the Stranger to return my mother to me.”

Littlefinger…

Petyr froze. Although he saw no shadow, he could sense that someone, or something, was standing behind him. Cold breath tickled the short hairs on the back of his neck. Hidden eyes were watching him from the dark. He did not dare to look. Without turning around, he pushed himself up and fled. Frightened like a deer caught in a chase, he forgot all of his pleads for his mother, and only wished that the Stranger would not follow him. Stumbling up the staircase, he burst into his room and hid himself under the bedcovers.

He did not return to the Sept at Bealish keep the next morning, or any of the days after that.

In fact, he did not step one foot near any of the statues of the Seven until he was sent to Riverrun and was required to join the Tullys for prayer. By that time, he had all forgotten about this strange and frightening encounter. He would not remember it again till many years later, after he had shamed his family’s name and was banished by his own father to Braavos. By the time he did remember, it was already far too late.

    

7.

Mercy, mercy

Chains all wrapped around me

Try to break free from the darker part of me

 

I forget myself and my good nature

When I let temptation get the better of me

Oh, mercy me

 

He is made of skeletons

I tried to bury long ago

His fingers always on the trigger

Oh, no, no, no

 

I want to be the hero you need

I want to be brave, I want to believe

But I take all the light and make it go black

Who could love somebody like that?

 

Monster – Milck

 

2 weeks ago.

“You’re not making any progress.”

With his consciousness safely tucked away in the refuse of is mind, in the old study of Jon Arryn, Petyr noticed immediately that her blue eyes were full of disapproval.

“A well thought out strategy takes time.” He replied to her.

“I don’t believe you. I don’t think you’ve been working on a plan at all." Alayna pointed out to him. "I noticed that you have become very compliant to the High Sparrow. It almost seems like you have fully submitted yourself to the dangerous delusions of faith.”

Nothing did escape his clever girl.

“It may appear so, but I just want to appease the old man. I can assure you, I didn’t stop working on a plan.”

“Liar. You have let yourself become distracted again. You better be careful now Petyr. Last time that happened, it didn’t end so well.” Alayne gave him an infuriating smirk that mirrored his own too much for comfort. “Remember that kiss you gave me in the Eyrie? Such a dangerous, costly kiss that was.”

“You don’t need to worry. Despite what you may think, I am still in control of everything.”

“If that is true, what have you learned over the course of last month that would be of any use to you?” She asked, challenging him and calling him bluff, like he used to do with her, when he was still the tutor and she, his pupil. Oh how have I fallen. To be lectured by my own student and to be on the receiving end of my own tricks.

“Go on –“ She pushed on. “Tell me. Show me that at least you have remained observant.”

“There was…there was this one incidence involving Ellaria Sand and Meryn Trant that may proof very useful.” He paused and looked away, acting timid and cautious to bring it up. She kept gazing at him, waiting. Eventually, he decided to come clean with her. “I was in the chapel of the Red Keep. Father Sparrow has allowed me to go there unsupervised to help clean the statues of the Gods for the coming mid-winter celebrations.”

“Wait, have I heard this right? You toil for him now?” Alayne commented, much bemused. “You’re on your knees and scrubbing the floor?”

“Cleanliness is next to godliness. Book of the Mother, verse 36.” Petyr replied automatically, almost mindlessly. After spending so much time feigning to be a devoted follower of the Seven, it was hard to shake off the shackles of pretence, even if it was inside his own mind, conversing with her.

“So that is what have kept you so busy? And you’ve been filling your head with useless verses from the Seven pointed Star?”

“It’s all just an elaborate ploy, nothing more.” He replied, a touch ashamed and eager to justify his obvious weakness to her. “If I want to gain his complete trust, he must believe that my devotion to his faith has become as strong as his. He needs to think that I want nothing else but to atone for my sins. I need to act very subservient, and humble myself in the eyes of the Seven.”

“And as you have been humbling yourself to almost everyone for the last 500 years, you certainly should have become very experienced at grovelling at the feet of some dusty old statues.” Alayne openly mocked him.

Petyr glared at her. “Are you sure that you are my reason, not my conscience?” He said, blinking his eyes slowly at her. There was anger in his voice, and for a moment, the blue grey of his irises carried a hint of green. “You are insufferable.”

“I just want to remind you not to lie to yourself again.” Alayne told him with a knowing smile. “Don’t be angry with me. You’ll only be angry with yourself. Go on then. Tell me what happened.”

 


 

“Seven heavens.” Father Sparrow stared up at the stone image of the Mother in the Sept with awe and surprise before turning to Petyr, who had just climbed down from behind the statue to greet him. “I never knew that the dress and the cloak of the Mother was such a bright forest green. I have always assumed that it was a dark brown. It had been like that for as long as I can remember.”

“All that was soot and grime.” Petyr explained as he washed out his brush in a bucket of tepid water. “Countless layers of it stacked on top each other. It has hidden the true colours from the naked eye. I think I have managed to remove most of it.”

“What did you use?”

“Just water, a brush, and a lot of elbow grease.” He replied, wiping a smudge from his face.

“No soap or bleach?”

“I was not sure if the paint would survive that. So I didn’t use any.”

“You have the patience of a saint.” The High Sparrow exclaimed. “Truly, you did wonderful work. Look at her robes, and her face. She is shining.” He let his gaze wander through the hall, passing by each of the five statues that surrounded the seven pointed mosaic star on the floor. “All of them, they are all shining, like beacons in the night.”

The High Sparrow was not exaggerating. Petyr had certainly done his very best. He had spent days scrubbing and sweeping and polishing every surface of the Sept. But then, I have been forced to do nothing else but to clean the dirt from other people’s properties for a beggar’s handful of coins for the last 5 centuries or so. Like Sansa said, I have acquired quite enough experience in humbling myself.

“You honour me with your kind words father.” Petyr replied, faking modesty. “I am just following the guidance of the Seven. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands so he may have something to share with those in need.”

“Book of the father, verse 13.” The old man replied with a content smile. “That’s very good. I am even happier to see that you are really trying to live by the wisdom of the Seven pointed Star. Many who come to me only demonstrate their faith in hollow words, but you prove yours in your actions. May your devotion and industry help you to find peace.”

“That is my greatest wish.” Petyr replied with a little bow.

Father Sparrow nodded solemnly in return. “The Mid-winter celebrations will be upon us soon. Your hard work will certainly help to lift the spirits of the patients when they come to the Sept to listen the words of the Gods. No doubt, many of them will ask me to light a candle for them afterwards to plead for their deliverance. Do you know why we have this practice Petyr?”

“It’s because the pleads of us sinners travel the fastest to the Gods in heaven by the flames of a lit candle.” A memory of his mother explaining this to him in front of the altar of the Father resurfaced. It caught him completely off guard, and tugged on his heart.

“That is correct. I am beginning to think that I cannot ask you anything about our faith that you would not know an answer to.” The high Septon said with a mild smile. “The Gods have truly gifted you with an exceptional mind Petyr. I only hope that you shall use it wisely and mercifully, to help others who are in need.” He came over to him and handed him a box of matches.

“You may light the candles in the Sept tonight.”

Petyr had not expected this. “But that’s your privilege. I thought that only the Septon, or an inaugurated Maester –“

“I am no more entitled to the mercy of the Gods then you are.” Father Sparrow placed his hand on his shoulder. “And you, my boy, are certainly in greater need of their forgiveness.” He raised his eyebrows as if to say how much he thought Petyr really needed it, still in awe of his pupil’s profound catalogue of offences. “When the truly righteous sees a starving man, he should not keep his bread to himself, but offer it to him to still his hunger instead.”

“Book of the Mother, verse 21.” Petyr muttered, struck by the High Sparrow’s kindness. “Thank you father.” He replied, truly feeling grateful. He cast his eyes up at the faces of the Gods above him. Suddenly, they all seemed very intimidating. “To whom should I pray?” He asked hesitantly.

“Light as many as you can for each of them. Be humble and sincere, pray to them from your heart, and you shall be heard.”

Petyr stood in silence for a while after the High Sparrow had left, unsure of what he should do next. Although he had prayed in front of others to keep his pretence of a devoted follower, he never truly had called upon the Gods. Not since he was 16 and desperate, left at the mercy of his first tutor. It was not that he didn’t believe in them. How could any rational man still not acknowledge the existence of Gods and demons, after they had sent him to hell, literally? What he did find hard to believe was that these celestial high lords would ever grant favours to anyone in exchange for some empty words whispered in the smoke of candles. In his brief life, he had learned that nothing in the world ever came free of charge. Why would it be any different in the next? Petyr realized he had precious little left to offer in exchange. He wasn’t exactly one of those men who had honour or courage, or at this moment, even luck to spare. Besides, no matter how desperate his pleads had ever been, the Gods had never answered him before…so why would they start now?

Varys did say that the Gods who have sent me here considered me to be on the right path to redemption. Maybe my sincerity and remorse will be finally enough, and they will show me mercy. It may not help at all, but then…there is also no real harm in trying.

He was about to kneel in front of the statue of the Father and light a series of candles when he heard people entering the Sept. A woman’s voice and a man’s voice, caught in the tension of a heated quarrel came through. Not sure what to make of this, Petyr climbed up the pedestal and hid himself behind the statue of the Father, leaving only the bucket with dirty water on the floor.

Ellaria rushed into the Sept. She was followed by Meryn Trant.

“Why do you want to come in here?” The orderly enquired. “Can’t you pick out a better spot? These bloody statues give me the creeps.”

“Why does it not surprise me?” Ellaria crossed her arms over her bosom, her nose held high as she looked down at the scruffy man with rigid disdain. “This is the safest place for us to talk. Except for father Sparrow, no one comes in here at this time of day.”

“So you want to talk?” A dirty smirk appeared on Trant’s lips. His hand slipped under her shirt and reached for her breasts. “Let’s talk then.”

Without even blinking her eyes, Ellaria slapped him hard across his face.

“I said I wanted to talk. Not fuck. Difficult to keep those two apart for you, I know, but please try.” She told him with a brash smile.

“If you don’t want to fuck, what is it that you want?” Trant sneered.

“I want you to stop abusing the inmates.” There was anger in her otherwise perfectly calm voice. “I am sick and tired of cleaning up your mess every time your cock has an itch and needs scratching.”

Trant just laughed at her. ”Why do you turn into the Mother of mercy all of a sudden? You never cared about what I did to these loons before.”

“I did care. I always did. I have always detested dumb violent brutes like you. You’re just too stupid to realize it. So, I figured I should warn you.” She added with a smirk.

“Oh yeah? Did you also have this chat with Ramsay Bolton then, right before you sent your patients to his ward?” Trant’s lips pulled into a nasty grin. “I heard there was nothing left of that Tansey girl after he had fed her to his dogs. Only a pile of mangled bones. And that little lunatic that Ramsay kept in the cellar, he was almost better off dead when Clegane found him. You didn’t worry about what he did to them so bloody much.”

“I didn’t know.” She replied, her voice suddenly small. “If I knew what kind of monster Ramsay was, I wouldn’t have done it.”

It’s a little bit late for you to be bothered by your conscience now miss Sand. Petyr thought bitterly. I know that I was troublesome, but did you need to send me to hell for it?

“So now what? You’re trying to make amends by bollocking me for taking my own small pleasures?” Trant told her.

“You’re fucking them against their will!”

“How would you know? They’re lunatics. Maybe they enjoy it.”

“You’re disgusting.” Ellaria sneered, her large hazel eyes flashing with contempt.

I am disgusting? What about you? You’re experimenting on them. You feed them your homemade poisonous brews and watch them drool and fit in their cells. Now that’s real cruelty! So what does that make you then?”

“I don’t give them poison, but potions. Some of them I – I really was trying to help.” She tried to justify herself, but the guilt-ridden and wary look in her eyes betrayed her.

“Poisons, potions, whatever. You’re cooking up drugs from what you can find from the medicine stock and are selling it for a profit to your shady friends behind the senile old git’s back. You are as accountable as I am.”

“We had an agreement.” She shushed, warning him. “You were going to keep your mouth shut about this!”

“Listen you bitch. You don’t want to be here, and I don’t want to be here. It was either this or jail for us both. So let’s not fuck each other over.” Trant reminded her.

Trant’s hands were wandering again, pressing on to her body, hungrily and forcefully caressing her breasts. “You know we both should keep our silence. Let’s say you stop having a go at me for enjoying my cock now and then, and I don’t tell the old demented fool about your little drug business that you have on the side.”

“How dare you to blackmail me again, you slimy little worm!” Ellaria hissed.

His hand disappeared underneath her skirt. Ellaria grimaced when he grabbed her crotch and was about to slap him again when he took her by her throat.

“We agreed on this too.” He snarled. “You let me fuck you, and I keep my silence. Don’t act like you’re the queen of Sheba or anything. You’re just a cunt, like any other.” He pinched her hard in her sex and watched her squirm. “Although I do like the faces you pull when you’re angry.”

Ellaria spat in his face. Trant’s scowl transformed into something far more sinister. He tightened his grip around her throat, fingers turning bone white at the knuckles. “You fucking bitch! I see I have my work cut out here for me!” He hissed, his face reddening as he started to throttle her.

Petyr saw how Ellaria was now clawing at her throat; her eyes bulging as she desperately struggled for breath, streaks of fearful and angry tears rolling down her olive skin. He shut his eyes and turned away, but the whole sordid scene was burnt into his retinas and was too much reminiscent of his own horrific treatment, of what Ramsay had done to him and to Sansa, to leave him untouched.

Trant was now loosening his belt buckle with his free hand.

“You’re such a proud woman.” Trant mocked her. “Proud and stupid. What you need is a good whipping to show you your place.”

He pulled out his belt and was about to strike her, when Petyr, who had finally seen enough of these horrors, threw the brush that he had kept in his hand down into the bucket. As it plunged in, it made such a loud clamour that it immediately sent Trant jump back from his victim. It almost looked comical, like he was some toy devil pulled back inside his box by a wire spring.

“Who the fuck was that?” Trant barked, gazing around like a guilty dog caught in the act of chewing up his master’s favourite shoe. He saw a shadow move behind the Statue of the Father. “You! Come out of there!”

Shit…what have I done now? Petyr thought, his heart pounding. Knowing that he had been spotted, and had little choice but to reveal himself, he climbed down from behind the statue. Hands folded in from of him, he lowered his head, and tried to look as meek and compliant as possible to not provoke Trant’s wrath.

“I am sorry.” He mumbled, his eyes cast down to avoid Trant’s hostile stare. His body language was one of complete submission, having been indoctrinated so very well by his former sadistic master. “I-I didn’t want to overhear any of this. I won’t tell anyone what you said to her sir, I swear.”

The fear of being discovered had completely disappeared from Trant’s face. It was only one of the Red Keep’s loonies, not another member of the staff. “You’re that fruitcake that Ramsay kept chained up like a dog in the old air raid bunker.” He said with an obnoxious grin. “The one that now licks the Sparrow’s boots.”

Petyr felt Trant’s fingers dig into the skin in the back of his neck when he was pulled forward from the safety of the shadows out into the open, like some disobedient pup that was grabbed by his scruff.

“Trant!” Ellaria tried, after she recognized Petyr. “Leave him alone. He has suffered enough. He said he wouldn’t tell.”

“And you believe him?” Trant pushed Petyr down on his knees in front of him. He folded his belt twice till he held a stiff bundle in his hand.

“She-she is right. I really won’t tell father Sparrow, please listen, I -“ Petyr curled up and let out an anguished cry when the belt turned rigid stick swooped down and hit him hard on his back. While he was still gasping for air, Trant struck him again. The violent impact made his healed scars and flayed flesh underneath his thin hospital robe scream.

“Stop it! Stop it Trant! Let him go!” Through the fog of pain, Petyr realized that Ellaria was now pleading for him to the vile loathsome man. “Look at him, he’s terrified! Let him go. He really won’t tell anyone!”

“You’re an idiot if you believe that. He is close with that religious bastard. If I don’t teach him to shut up properly, he will certainly go rat on us.” Trant sneered back at her. “Get up.” He hissed down at Petyr, half-pulling him up to his feet.

“Wait, where are you taking him? Ellaria rushed after them, her hazel eyes large with panic and real concern. “Trant!”

Trant didn’t answer her, but dragged and kicked and pushed Petyr through a side door into a small annex chamber next to the great hall of the Sept. He slammed the door shut behind him and locked it, before he pulled Petyr by his hair to the centre of the small room. He forced him down again on his knees with a harsh sweep of his makeshift whip on his bare calves.

“I usually don’t do this.” Trant unzipped his pants and pulled out his cock. “You’re too old for my taste and I am not a faggot. I prefer young ladies.” He stroked his fat red swollen stump to ready himself. “But I need you to understand. I need you to learn. I own you, you little fuck. If you ever say a word of what you have heard today to anyone –“

“I won’t. I really I won’t.” Petyr knew he should try harder to convince Trant to let him go, but by now, he was completely paralyzed with fear. His mind was incapable of functioning coherently to help him get out of this horror. Worse of all, reality was fading fast before his very eyes.

The stink of Ramsay’s sweat was in his nostrils.

He was reliving every horrendous trauma that he had ever suffered by former master’s sadistic hands. He felt the disgusting, sweaty weight of Ramsay’s dogs heavy on his back, crushing down on him. He heard the sharp snap of Ramsay’s Swiss army knife before the blade slipped under his skin. The mad excited barking of the starving beasts rang in his ears.

“Please don’t.” He still tried desperately. “There is absolutely nothing for me to gain if I would tell father Sparrow anything. Please, I really won’t –“

“You talk too much.” Trant sneered.

Trant’s belt swept down on his back again. He arched his spine in bright red agony. Angry lines of blood started appear through the thin fabric of his robe as healed wounds started to bleed afresh.

He hated himself for it. He thought he was now stronger than this, but tears still started to fall freely from the corners of his eyes.

Trant grabbed Petyr by his hair and pushed his face down into his crotch.

Through a blizzard of tears, Petyr was about to give up and let Trant have his way with him. His once indoctrinated mind fell back so easily in line with docility and full acceptance of his new suffering that it sickened him to the core. Sansa was right. I really don’t have the strength left in me to fight back. Ramsay has broken me too much. I can’t – I can’t save myself. I have no will or courage left to stop this.

A voice, low and dangerous, more mature and more wicked than his own, spoke to him from the back of his mind. What are you doing down on your knees again you pathetic weakling? Haven’t you already let us swallow enough cock to last us another lifetime?

Littlefinger…

He was crawling out from whatever swamp he had crept into to hide from Ramsay after he had resurfaced following his reawakening.

Why did you stick your neck out for that Sand woman? She deserves to be in our place for all the horrors that she has made us go through. When are you going to learn Petyr, no one is going to show you any gratitude, or reward you for crawling through the mud again in the name of what is honourable. You know how it goes. You know how it works. The deal is rotten and the dice are always fixed. Try to play the hero, and you will stumble and fall. Or have you been mindless for so long that you have completely forgotten?

Petyr choked up when the disgusting organ was pushed pass his lips. When he looked up, it was not Trant’s face he saw, but Ramsay’s, grinning down maniacally at him while he was on his knees, naked and chained up like a dog again, flogged to an inch of his life, and completely left at his mercy.

Littlefinger was now screaming at him from the back of his mind, the darker part of him clawing and trashing against locked doors. Angry fists banging on the splintering wood.

Come on you crying, tragic waste of a mind! Let me in already so I can drag your wretched ass out of this mess of your own creation! Hurry up before we both end up as a howling lunatic! Let me take care of this. Let me take care of him!

Petyr had no strength left. He was standing at the very brink of an abyss, one push and he was ready to surrender to howling madness. So he retreated, the frightful knocks on shut doors finally ceased when he let Littlefinger in and he himself fled into the darkest, most remote regions of his awareness. I can’t bear this heavy burden any longer. I just can’t.

Let him deal with it.

Petyr ran, clutching frantically onto his hard earned sanity as if it was his own life. He forced whatever was left of his panic struck mind to create a safe path for him to go up the East tower in the Eyrie to reach Jon Arryn’s study where he knew he could find her. He stumbled up the final steps of the winding staircase and into his refuge and slammed the heavy oaken door shut with two trembling hands. Her name was still slipping out in one desperate breath when he whirled around, and realized that the room was empty.

Of course she isn’t here, you idiot. He heard Littlefinger say. How could she be? You’re so consumed by fear that you cannot think clear. You made her to represent your reason. You cannot reason in your current cowering state. So how can your beloved made up cousin Alayne ever be here for you now?

Trant did not even notice that something had changed in the attitude of his victim till the sensitive tip of his cock ended up between Littlefinger’s teeth. He screamed in agony when hot blood started to gush out of mangled flesh.

“I am sorry, I am sorry.” Littlefinger cried out, pretending to be horrified and making good use of the convenient streaks of tears that Petyr had left behind. A drizzle of warm blood ran from the corner of his blood red mouth, hiding a little smirk. “Please - please don’t hurt me.”

Obviously, Trant wasn’t the type of man who would just let this transgression slip. Enraged that this pathetic loon had challenged him, he began hitting Littlefinger with renewed malicious vigour, thrashing down the rigid belt anywhere he could reach, till the red bloomed like bloody flowers through the course fabric on his victim’s back and legs. 

The foundations of the east tower trembled under Petyr’s feet. The blue walls around him started to quake and crack. Crumbling to the floor, he folded his arms over his head and waist, absolutely terrified.

“Littlefinger! What the hell are you doing?!” He yelled out, noticing that his mental refuse shook with every horrible sting of the lashing belt.

“You said you knew how to take care of this! What is your plan?! Do you even have one? Seven hells, do something!”

Littlefinger closed his eyes and shut down the panic struck voice that rang from the deepest recesses of his consciousness. He had no use for self-doubt and panic right now.

“Littlefinger!” Petyr kept crying out, not knowing that he was effectively silenced as Trant steel tip shoe made repeated impact with his stomach and brought parts of the ceiling crashing down. “He’s killing us. Do something! Anything! Make him stop! Please!”

But Littlefinger was not listening to him. He let Trant beat him up until he was half unconscious and the sadistic idiot stopped all by himself after his rage and strength were all spent.

“You had enough?” Trant was standing over him, sweating like a hog, and much bereft of breath. He lowered his belt and kicked him in the back…and finally noticed that the man curled up on the ground lacked all responses.

“Hey! Loony? Do you hear me?!” He kicked him again. This time, it was more a tentative prod. Littlefinger moaned incoherently. Blood pooled underneath his mouth and ears.

Panic finally struck Trant. Fearing that father Sparrow will find out what just had happened to his favourite convert, he figured he best dump him back inside his cell to hide him from sight.

So he picked Littlefinger up, swung his arm around his shoulder and dragged him out of the Sept through the back doors to prevent Ellaria laying eyes on him.

When they were back in the main building and were making their way through the last stretch of corridor in great haste, Littlefinger finally regained his consciousness. If Trant had been a little bit more observant, he would have noticed the inmate’s blue grey eyes now carried a hint of green.

Stop pleading. Littlefinger told Petyr, who was still terrified and hiding in his refuge. Stop panicking and start thinking. Do you remember that mad woman in the cell next to us? The one who can’t stop screaming every time Trant pays her a little visit?

Petyr knew exactly whom he meant. Before Varys had helped him to fully regain his mind, when he was still lost in madness, his neighbour’s sporadic wailing and banging against the wall had often caused him horrible nightmares. “What are you going to do with her?”

The little smirk reappeared on Littlefinger’s blood stained face. When they passed the door to the woman’s cell, he struggled free and deliberately ran into the metal door, causing a loud metallic clang. Almost immediately, the mad shrieking, screeching, and witch-like cursing, rang through the thick padding and stones in response.

“Please make her stop! Please! Please!” Littlefinger begged, letting himself being caught again by Trant while acting all anxious and mad.

“What are you rambling about, you lunatic?

“The-the woman in the cell next to me.”

“The mad one in cell 13?”

“Littlefinger nodded. “The one who is always screaming. Please make her stop screaming. Please make her stop.” He continued to plead with eyes wide in fear while squirming away from her cell door.

“You’re afraid! You’re scared to death of her!” Trant laughed. A cruel grin spread over his lips. “You should be.” He added, not without spite. “She is a one murderous bitch.”

To an atrocious vindictive bully like Meryn Trant who thrives on other people’s suffering, the temptation was just too much. All plans to hide the bleeding, simpering idiot in his cell forgotten, Trant searched his bundle of keys to open the door to cell 13. With a nasty kick he sent his ward tumbling in.

Littlefinger landed with his face in the soft covering of the white padded prison. From the corner of his eyes, he saw a woman huddled up in the corner. She was short of statue, with shortly cropped hair that made her almost look bald. Strapped tightly in a straightjacket, she was secured to a leather leash around her neck to prevent her from coming too close to anyone near the doorway. She had a vindictive and violent look in her eyes, and as soon as she locked her wild gaze on him, she came charging, a mad scream erupting from her throat. Pale and little, Littlefinger was surprised by how quick she was. As she launched at him with all the violence and blood thirst of a mindless beast, she almost got him…if he had not scrambled back just in time, uttering a cry of genuine fear.

Upset that she had missed her target, she hissed at the men like a fanged cobra, spittle flying from her mouth, when she gazed up at Trant with hatred burning in her eyes. “Shut it you bitch.” Trant warned her. “I am not going to play with you today. You have company. Make sure he feels comfortable.” With a nasty grin he slammed the door shut behind him.

Littlefinger scrambled all the way back till he was against the wall as far away from the wild and mad creature as possible.

“Why did you make him lock us up in here?” Petyr cried out in despair. “You reckless lunatic! She is going to rip us apart if she ever gets out of her restrains.”

You have not been paying much attention, have you? His alter ego told him. If you have, you would have noticed that Trant has been fucking her over for months.

“She is no use for us. No one will be able to reason with her. Look at her! She is completely out of her mind!”

You undoubtedly can’t, but I can.

The mad woman growled and made several attempts to yank free from her restrains to get closer to him. Littlefinger leaned his head against the locked door, and waited till he could hear Trant’s footfall on the other side to signal that he was leaving. Then he waited a little longer till his mad cellmate had worn herself out.

“Are you finally done?” He asked, his voice a perfectly calm, low whisper. She was no longer struggling to get to him, and merely stared at him with hate-filled eyes.

“I know you want to hurt me, but you can’t. The leash they have put on you is too short. Surely you must have noticed this by now.”

She responded with a snarl and bared her blood stained teeth at him. She had been chewing on her tongue, till it was barely a bloody stump.

“I know you are angry. You are angry because you are hurt. You want to hurt someone in return. Believe me, I know how it feels.” He ran the back of his hand over the corner of his mouth to wipe away the blood, which was a mixture of his own and Trant’s. “But it’s not me who you really want. It’s him. The man who whipped me and locked me in here with you. The monster who comes in your cell after the lights are out, who forces himself on you, and laughs while he makes you scream. It’s Trant you want, more than anyone else. You want to hurt him just like he has hurt you, but you can’t. You can’t get to him. Not while he keeps you restrained in that jacket. Not while there is a leash around your neck.”

He kept his green grey eyes fixed on hers. Having learned from Petyr’s horrible experiences, Littlefinger knew that for the truly deranged, there was very little mind left that could keep them being consumed by their sentiments. This woman was consumed by nothing else but pure delicious rage.

“Let me be your friend.” Littlefinger told her.

She slowly tilted her head to one side, like a serpent swayed by the music of her master’s lute. She glared back at him, her craving for violence and retribution smouldered in her mad black eyes like two burning pits in hell.

“Let me help you.” Littlefinger added, the right corner of his mouth already furling into a confident little smirk. “Let me help you get what you truly want.”

 


 

When Trant came back to cell 13 the following morning and opened the small porthole window in the door to check on him, he saw Petyr, face down, lying on the floor. A red stain bloomed underneath him on the white of the padding.

“Hey, Looney, are you all right?” He called out. There came no response. He quickly checked where his dangerous cellmate was, and found her in her usual spot in the left corner, her arms still secured tightly in the straightjacket, with the leash around her neck. She glared at him with dark rimmed, bloodshot eyes. “What did you do to him?” Trant barked, fearing that she might have killed him. The door was unlocked in haste. He entered the cell, and crouched down beside Petyr, his hand already on his shoulder to turn him over.

Petyr scrambled up, just when the mad woman launched herself at Trant. The orderly did not see, but her leash was no longer secured to the wall, enabling her to finally reach him. Trant cried out, first in surprise, then in agony, when she sank her teeth deep into the side of his neck and ripped off a bloody strip of skin and flesh.  

 "Auw! YOU FUCKING BITCH! YOU CUNT!”

A truly deranged, blood red smile opened like a pit on the mad woman’s face when she spat out the chunk and dug her teeth even deeper into the oozing wound. Trant clawed at his back to get her off, but she was also no longer restrained by her jacket. Littlefinger had unfastened all of her straps. She grabbed Trant’s head with both her hands, and pressed her thumbs into his eyes, pushing so hard that the howling man was weeping tears of blood and transparent gooh. Petyr struggled to get up and fled away from all this violent madness, staggering towards the open door like a frightful wounded deer.

So this is what she is capable of…How absolutely horrifying…

He heard Trant produce an inhuman sound like that of a hog being slaughtered one last time before he slammed the door of cell 13 shut. He sank through his knees, his entire body shaking, his blood rushing and singing from the adrenaline coursing through his veins, his heart galloping madly. He curled into himself with his back against door when he felt Trant pushing and kicking on the padded metal on the other side, pleading to be let out.

It’s still unlocked…If Trant gets out…what if he gets out…

I wouldn’t worry too much about Trant if I were you. He heard Littlefinger say. In his mind, he was still smirking. I am sure that the mad woman will keep him busy… till he is properly dead and gone.

“Oh shit…” Petyr whispered. “Oh fuck. What have we done?…What the hell have I done?!…”

You have rid yourself from a truly vile and obnoxious man who wanted to harm us. That’s what you have done. Or did you enjoy being raped and whipped by that fiend? Don’t tell me that you don’t want him to pay for these…transgressions?

Petyr breathed in deeply, and stared upward at the cobwebbed ceiling light. He thought he would find it horrible to hear Trant cry and beg for mercy, but Littlefinger was right. He not only didn’t mind, but felt in fact very pleased by it. As he sat there quietly, listening to the desperate pleads and frightful screams tearing through Trant’s throat, which with the passing of time, ebbed away into equally desperate whimpers, the mad gallop of his heart gradually slowed down, and became so peaceful and slow that it made him feel drowsy in his head. The fear that he had felt during his escape also quieted down into something so very tranquil and serene, that it shocked him.

He shut his eyes and recalled the horrified look on Trant’s face when the mad woman pushed her thumbs through his eye sockets. He imagined that those were Ramsay’s eyes, and a deep sense of satisfaction washed over him. His split lips curled into a wide content smile.

It was perverse. It was completely obscene and possibly even mad, but he had not felt this happy since he had ended up here.

When the cries became to weak to hear, he pressed his ear against the metal to pick up the final sobs, not wanting to miss out on anything, till eventually, even these died down, and there came nothing but silence from the other side.

 


 

“So, you let Littlefinger sweet-talk you into committing murder.”

Back in the Eyrie, back in his mental refuge, after he had told her everything of what had happened to Meryn Trant and how it came to be. In a way, it felt more like a confession than a narrative.

Petyr hesitantly gazed up at Alayne who stared at him with accusation burning in her eyes. No not Alayne. Her hair is back to red and her dress is armoured with leather strapping and wolf’s fur. This is the Stark direwolf who represents my conscience. After what I have confessed to her, of course it would be her. It was inevitable.

“How is that going to save your soul?” Sansa asked, her azure eyes blazing.

“I didn’t – I didn’t really want to hurt him.” He blurted out, telling her the truth. “He left me no choice. I did it so I could survive. ”

“You had a choice, you always had, to not harm anyone. Why did you have to listen to Littlefinger? You know he’s a monster.”

“He saved me…and you weren’t there. Not Alayne…and not you. Not the real you.” He paused and licked his chapped lips anxiously. “ None of you were there. If it wasn’t for Littlefinger I would not have been able to cope. I would have lost my mind again.” He tried to justify himself, his eyes begging her for a smitten of understanding.

“Don’t flatter yourself lord Bealish. You are hardly a good example of a sound mind.” She leaned back in her chair, her attitude so very similar to that day that she had sentenced him to death for his crimes. “Do you feel any remorse for killing him?”

“No.” Petyr shook his head and gazed away. He wondered how on earth she could make him feel so incredibly guilty for something that he did not want to regret. “I am just glad that he is gone. I hated him for what he did to me. I hope he burns in hell.”

“What about that mad woman? The one in cell 13 who you manipulated to do the dirty deed for you?”

He slowly blinked his eyes at her. “What do you mean?” He asked, faking innocence.

She leaned towards him, her gaze struck right into his soul. “What happened to her?” She whispered.

Petyr let out a ragged sigh, realizing now what she was trying to do. “She – she was taken the next day. I haven’t seen her since.”

“Liar. You saw her. You know perfectly well what happened to her afterwards. So tell me lord Bealish, what did they do to her after they found her guilty of your crime?”

A long silence followed.

“Clegane…He told me they took her for special treatment.” He finally admitted, casting his eyes down so he did not have to look at her.

“And what does that mean?”

“It means…that they perform a specific surgical procedure on her…” Petyr muttered. “-to remove the stone of madness that had caused her violent behaviour.”

“They drilled a hole in her skull and let the wound fester.” Sansa elaborated for him. “It left her completely paralyzed, locked inside her own body without any way to sense or respond to anything. It’s barbaric.”

“I didn’t want any of this to happen. They did this to her, not me.”

“No, Littlefinger did this to her. Your actions have condemned her to an eternity of suffering.”

“What do you want of me? There is nothing I can do for her now.” Petyr replied, his voice small and heavy with guilt. Oh, how he just wished there was a way to silence her, but his conscience had never been stronger, her voice and call for justice never louder. There was no escape.

“You saw what became of her. They wheeled her out of the operation room just when you were brought to the dayroom today. Did you get a good look of her face? That lingering stare, devoid of mind and presence, the drooling mouth and the light that has completely gone out in her eyes? Did you see all that?”

“Yes.” Petyr whispered. “I saw it.”

Sansa’s lips curled into a cold rigid smile. “Then you shall remember it.” She told him, passing out his sentence in one condemning breath. “You shall remember how she looked, whenever you shut your eyes, for the rest of your existence.”

 

TBC

 

Next chapter will be up in 2 weeks. I need more time, so see you the 19th of January!

 

Chapter Text

Notes:
Yeah I know, I said I was not going to post this week, but somehow I managed to scribble down two chapters, so I figured what the heck...

Selected music tracks

The Devil within

For part 2-3 Littlefinger’s POV.

I will keep quiet
You won't even know I'm here
You won't suspect a thing
You won't see me in the mirror
But I crept into your heart
You can't make me disappear
Til I make you

I made myself at home
In the cobwebs and the lies
I'm learning all your tricks
I can hurt you from inside
I made myself a promise
You would never see me cry
Til I make you

I will be here
When you think you're all alone
Seeping through the cracks
I'm the poison in your bones
My love is your disease
I won't let it set you free
Til I break you

 

The Devil within – Digital Daggers

 

1.

4 hours ago.

 

It didn’t take Brienne long to find King’s Landing. It took a little while longer to find the one man in purgatory who could tell Sansa where Petyr was.

Sansa’s memories of the police station where they had taken her and Petyr that night after Olenna’s flat burnt down were hazy at best. It was also very jumbled up with the memories of the many nightmares she had afterwards, in which she was always desperately trying to find Petyr in an everchanging maze of endless stretches of corridors with countless of locked doors. The reality was far less daunting. There was only one corridor that led straight to the chief constable’s office. They marched right in, fully ignoring the stressed out reaction of the police officer at the reception desk.

They found Tywin Lannister sitting behind his desk. Stern green eyes lifted from an impressive stack of paperwork and glared with irritation at the two women who had just dared to enter and disturb him without even so much as knocking.

“Lady Brienne.” The chief constable uttered the name in a sort of impatient troubled sigh. His was attitude as fortified and intimidating as ever. “I did not expect to see you here.”

“Lord Tywin.” Brienne greeted him courteously, bowing her head as if she was still a knight and he the Lord of Casterly rock. “It has certainly been a long while.”

He cast his gaze on Sansa. “And the Stark girl.” Another sigh. This one sounded even more impatient and more troubled. “What are you doing here? Last time I saw you, your father was taking you back home to Winterfell farm in the North. Why didn’t you stay there?”

“I am here to ask you about Petyr.” Sansa replied, taking in a deep breath to summon her courage to face this daunting man.

“Petyr?” Tywin muttered, as if the name didn’t exactly ring a bell. “Petyr Bealish?” Tywin leaned back in his chair. His annoyance for this sudden and completely unnecessary interruption to his daily work regime was growing visibly. “I thought we have sorted that problem out last time.” He told her, waving his hand dismissively. “We sent him to a place where he could be treated for his illness.”

“Petyr wasn’t ill.” Sansa defended him. “And he wasn’t mad.”

“He was causing me problems.” Tywin replied in a harsh voice. “Ever since he has been here really. The man is a walking disaster. He set fire to that Tyrell woman’s apartment and almost burnt down the entire towerblock with everyone in it.”

“I have told you a thousand times after you arrested us, that was Ramsay Bolton.” Sansa snapped back. “Why do you keep accusing him for something that he did not do!“

“Lord Tywin.” Brienne interrupted her, realizing quickly that this was not the way to get any information from him. “You can drop the pretence and speak plainly in her presence. Sansa has regained her full memories of her past life. She is very much aware of what this place is.”

“Really?” Tywin glared at Sansa with suspicion lighting up in his green eyes. “But she is mortal-“ He muttered. “-and still very much alive. Why did you drag her here?” He said accusingly.

“I made a vow once that I would serve her and always come to her aid when needed. Loyalty binds me, my lord, even now.”

“Is that so? You are also charged by the Gods with preventing the living from entering purgatory.” Tywin reminded her, not without malice. “You would have served her better by keeping her away.”

“Lady Sansa was...very persuasive.” Brienne replied, clearly embarrassed.

Sansa couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “So you knew.” She told Tywin. “You knew what this place was all along?”

“Of course I know. I have been in charge of of keeping order in King’s Landing for the last 3 centuries or so. A solemn task that was assigned to me by the Gods themselves after I had atoned for my many transgressions during life, and one that I have carried out most faithfully and thoroughly ever since. Tell me girl, you don’t strike me as a complete fool. Why did you ask Brienne to bring you back to find Bealish? What do you want with that poor deluded idiot? You are not trying to get him out, are you?” Tywin added, narrowing his eyes to cat-like slits.

Sansa didn’t reply, but met his intimidating gaze with a stubborn look in her azure blue eyes.

“What are you thinking girl?” Tywin remarked with irritation and anger in his voice, after he had drawn his own conclusions. “Don’t let your feelings for him cloud your wits. It’s dangerous business to meddle with a condemned soul. ”

“Lord Tywin.” Brienne tried. “Lady Sansa promised me that she won’t try to free him if he is not ready. She just wants to find him to make sure that he is alright. Please, could you tell us where you have sent Littlefinger?”

Tywin contemplated for a moment. “If I tell you, will you make her stop bothering me and wasting my valuable time?” He asked Brienne, without even looking at Sansa.

Brienne returned a firm nod.

“You also have to make absolute sure that she and Bealish won’t cause any more disorder.”

“I promise you, lord Tywin. I won’t allow that to happen.” Brienne stated solemnly.

Tywin let out a sigh. “Bealish was sent to the Red Keep. For as far as I know, he is still there, but there is certainly no guarantee.”

The name caused Sansa much confusion. “The Red Keep?” Is-is that a hospital?”

“How long has he been there?” Brienne asked, her brows furrowed with concern.

“Almost two years.” Tywin glanced at her. “So you might want reconsider how you want to fulfill your sacred oath to her, lady Brienne.”

“Lady Sansa-“ Brienne said, taking in the lingering look that Tywin was giving her with a growing sense of alarm. “We need to go immediately. Lord Tywin –“ She gave him a courteous nod. “Thank you for your help, and for your honesty.” She turned and marched out of the room in hasty strides, followed quickly by Sansa.

“If by chance you do still find him there-“ Tywin called out after the two women. “- but don’t like what you found, don’t come back to point fingers. It’s my duty to keep order in King’s Landing. I act for the greater good. I am not here to take care of individual pitiful little souls.”

“Brienne! What’s the matter?” Sansa ran after her as they rushed out of the police station. “What is he talking about? Why do you act like this? Is Petyr in danger?” She grabbed Brienne by her arm. “Tell me what’s wrong. Speak to me!”

“Mylady-“ Brienne replied with much hesitance, but also great urgency in her voice. “The Red Keep…it is a place at the very edge of Purgatory. It has the appearance of an insane asylum, but it is just one step away from the seven hells. It's a place of great suffering where all the condemned souls are sent when they have little to no hope for salvation. If Littlefinger has truly been kept there for almost 2 years...chances are that his incarceration has driven him over the edge…in which case…”

“He has ended up in hell…” Sansa whispered.

Brienne nodded. “Once a soul has entered that final realm, it will be lost forever. There will be no more possibility for atonement or restoration to one’s true self. He will be kept there, and he will suffer for his sins for eternity.”

“No, no, I can’t…" Sansa walked away from Brienne, shaking her head slowly. "This won’t happen to Petyr. I won’t allow it.” Her face had turned as white as a sheet. She swirled around and headed to the car in a most anxious state. “Do you know where to find the Red Keep?”

“Yes I do.”

“Bring me there, quickly. He can’t stay there one second longer. There is no time to lose.”

“Mylady –“

“I know! I promised you that I won’t get him out of purgatory!” Sansa justified her actions to her. “-but I didn’t say that I won’t help him if he is trouble! And he is, isn’t he? He is in horrible trouble!” She slammed the side door shut on her side and immediate started the engine. “Get in the car!”

 

2.

His usual refuge in the east tower of the Eyrie was very different from the last time he had visited. The fire in the hearth was out, leaving the chamber stone-cold, with crystal ice flowers blooming on the glass. Petyr breathed out a dense white cloud in the frosty air when he saw Littlefinger standing nearby the window, looking down into the courtyard below. When he heard Petyr’s footsteps he turned around. His lips swiftly shifted into a smug little grin.

“Where is she?” Petyr asked, trying to hide his desperation from his darker self.

“What?” The smug grin widened while he faked innocence. “You have been looking forward to talk to your dear Alayne again?”

He calmly strolled over and folded his hands in front of him. Petyr noticed, with helpless and complete irrational envy, that they were undamaged, and didn’t shake horribly like his own hands did. His flawless fingers were heavily adorned with golden rings. His fingernails were clean and manicured, whereas Petyr’s were dirty and ragged, a result of all the hard work he did in the asylum, and the injuries he had suffered from Ramsay. Littlefinger stood straight and tall, his expensive well-tailored tunic aiding him to keep his elegant posture. He looked the complete mirror opposite of him, a cocky confident man full of hubris, untouched by any hardship, who believed himself to be in complete control of his own destiny, while Petyr has been long reduced to a pathetic, deeply traumatized, shivering wreck.

“Surely you have enough presence of mind now to realize that she was just a figment of your imagination.” He lectured him, still with his smug little grin plastered on his face.

Petyr knew he could smell his weakness like a shark would smell blood. “You are also a figment of my imagination.” He reminded Littlefinger, glaring at him with his blue grey eyes. He desperately tried to pull down his sleeves to cover his own ruined hands, hiding them from his sight.

“Oh, I am sure that I am little more than that.” Littlefinger’s grin turned into a smile, his grey green eyes picked up Petyr’s nervous flumbling like a hawk would pick out a mouse in the field. “When little Petyr runs into trouble, who always takes care of his horrible fuckups? Who dries his tears and spends hours, trying to talk some common sense into him?” He added gleefully. “Who has saved your ass so many times that you must by now have completely lost count?” He spread his arms. “Surely that wasn’t Alayne Bealish…or Sansa Stark?”

“Go away Littlefinger. I have no need of you.” Petyr whispered, wishing hard that it was true.

Littlefinger quirked the corners of his mouth in a way that made Petyr aware that he was trying to swallow the insult without showing his anger. “That’s no way to greet an old friend.” He said, and continued to smile without the smile ever reaching his eyes.

“You’re not my friend.”

“I am your only friend. You owe your life to me, and everything else you have ever managed to achieve.”

“Your shitty incessant scheming and stupid recklessness has cost me my life you mean!” Petyr blurted out. “I am here because of you. Without you I wouldn’t have done half of all the horrible things that has condemned me to this rotten fate!

“Don’t play innocent with me.” Littlefinger stepped closer, and whispered into his face. “You created me. I could not have made anything happen that you didn’t wish to happen. Remember how angry you were when old Arryn told you he wanted to pin the emblem of the Hand on Ned Stark’s chest instead of yours? You wished him dead, but were too much of a coward to act to your desires, so you let me do the dirty work for you. And Ned Stark? You detested him the moment he climbed off his high horse when he arrived in the capital. You knew that the blind idiot was digging his own grave when he started to yank the Lion’s tail, and yet you still tried to keep him alive, because you’ve made a promise to our sweet Cat. If it was not for my interference, you would have done the honorable thing like the love struck fool that you still were, and would have ended up with your head rotting on a spike next to that of that witless Northern ox. Don’t tell me that you wanted to die for that ridiculous promise of yours?” He fixed his grey green eyes on Petyr. “You know she wasn’t worth it. Or do you still cherish the illusion that Cat had any feelings for you, even after she pointed a knife at your throat?”

The memory of that disastrous night in Renly Baratheon’s camp, of how she had reacted when he brought back his husband’s bones to her, cut into his heart and dissolved any resolve he had managed to muster. Littlefinger always knew how to hurt him, if there was any need for it.

“I – I don’t -”

“You don’t want to think about what you did anymore –“ Littlefinger finished his thoughts for him. “-Because 500 years of torment and the miraculous reappearance of Cat’s daughter has shown you a better way.” His lips carried now a most cynical smile. “You are guilt ridden and want do the right thing from now on, so much so that you even start to wonder if you should indeed regret the death of a vile abusive brute like Meryn Trant. My dear friend, can’t you see how ridiculous you have become?” He chuckled.

“I am still here because of you. I should have never listened to you.”

“Don’t put the blame of all your own failures on me. I wasn’t the one who fell in love with that murderous bitch! You should have let Sansa Stark go after she lost her trust in us. You should have done what we have promised to Cercei, let the Bastards destroy themselves, take control of the North with the knights of the Vale, and present Sansa’s Stark head to her in a salt box with a pretty little bow tied around her severed neck. Instead you stranded us at Winterfell. When that freak Bran Stark showed up and warned you that Chaos is a ladder, we should have turned our tail and fled, but you made us stay, lingering around a woman who hated you more than you would ever care or like to acknowledge, fawning over her like a mindless love struck idiot. Your blindness and stupidity have cost us our life. Or did you conveniently forget that it was my life as well that you have so recklessly thrown out to feed to the Stark direwolfs?”

“Enough!” Petyr noticed that his hands were trembling so violently that his arms were shaking with them. He had so little control left over everything, even over his own body. He hated and loathed himself for it. “Stop talking to me and crawl back from whatever swamp you came from.” He tried. “I am no longer listening to your poisonous advice.”

“I thought it was you who Ramsay Bolton buried in a hole in the ground.” Littlefinger replied with a shrug and a smile. “Tell me, how did it feel to be left at the complete mercy of that mad sadist? Did you like being at the bottom of the pile again? Did you enjoy being fucked by Ramsay’s dogs like a cheap whore in one of our own old brothels?”

“Stop it! Stop it!” Petyr shouted, gazing away and pressing his hands on his ears to block out his voice. The very memory of what Ramsay had done to him brought back a state of pure terror in mind. “Please stop it!”

“You’re not begging now, are you?” Littlefinger said with a sadistic little smile. “I thought we were done with begging. Look at you. You’re pathetic! We have been here with our mind fully restored for how long? Three whole months? We could have been out of this shithole already. We could have crossed out a few nasty names on our little list. Instead, what have you been doing? Praying to the Gods who have been fucking us over from the day you were born! Petyr-“ Littlefinger sighed, shaking his head while feigning sadness and concern. “Petyr, Petyr Petyr. I am beginning to think that I cannot leave you in charge.”

“No.” Petyr’s eyes widened with a sudden alertness. He knew where this was heading. He had been down this traitorous road before, and he knew he needed to put a halt to it now, while he still had the will to do so. “No!” He repeated, his voice full of resolution.

“Think about it.” Littlefinger opted, retracting his fanged threats and slivering back into his charming self to sway him. “If it is left to you, we will never get out of this madhouse. You just don’t have the right attitude anymore to get things done. With you at the wheel, this ship is only going to sink into the waves. We’ll be both lost to insanity.”

Petyr shook his head fervently, finally able to retrieve some his courage to stand up to him. “You’re not going to talk me into this again. I am no longer Littlefinger. Littlefinger is dead. I am Petyr, and whatever decision I am going to make next, however unwise or plain foolish it turns out to be, it will be my own, not yours. Never yours. Never again.” He hissed into his counterpart’s face.

Littlefinger glared at him, carefully calculating his next move behind his green grey eyed stare. “As you wish.” He finally admitted and gave Petyr a courteous bow. “Just don’t come crying when your plans blow up in your face again and you find yourself at the mercy of another villain…or at the wrong end of your lover’s blade.” He added, with a wry little smirk.

 

3.

2 days ago

 

Petyr did not know how to silence his conscience. He tried to ignore her and attempted to find solace in his reason again, but every time he retreated to his mental refuge, he either found Sansa in the form of the merciless Stark direwolf who kept cursing him with an ever growing burden of stifling guilt, or he found Littlefinger, who was more than eager to pour his venom into his ears. There was no sign of Alayne.

He couldn’t sleep a single night without seeing the face of that woman from cell 13 in his mind’s eye. Knowing very well that he had just gotten away with murder, he couldn’t speak with anyone about it without incriminating himself. The constant loss of sleep and the lack of a kind voice that could provide him with any sympathy left him nervous and wretched.

He tried to lift the heavy burden on his conscience by reading the Seven Pointed Star from cover to cover again, but as always, he couldn’t find any true meaning in the tedious text. He went to every sermon that the High Sparrow held in the Sept, but that too failed to give him any peace of mind.

It was 2 days before the midwinter solace when he found himself alone in the Sept. He was sweeping the floor and tidying the aisles shortly after the last sermon of the day had ended. It was already starting to get dark when he bumped into a bench and the forgotten box of matches that the father Sparrow had given him rattled inside his pocket. He took it out and stared at it for a little while.

He was so desperate for any kind of reprieve. So after his work was finished, he knelt down in front of the statue of the Mother. He chose her, because he was seeking mercy more than anything else. With a trembling hand, he lit all the candles on her altar, and gazed up pleadingly at her stone features in the flickering glow before he folded his hands and closed his eyes.

“Gracious Mother of Mercy, please hear my prayers.” His voice was barely a whispered breath that did not stir the yellow flames. “I ask you for forgiveness. I ask for forgiveness for all of my sins…I know I have very little to offer, but I am truly sincere and truly remorseful. Gracious Mother, please help me…forgive me my sins and finally let me find peace.”

To be fair, he didn’t really expect that it would help. Praying to shapely pieces of rock never had done him any good…So Petyr was very much flabbergasted when an actual reply came from above.

“Do you really think this is good enough?”

That voice…That firm voice that seemed to come from the statue of the Mother herself, he had not heard it for over 5 centuries, and yet he instantly recognized it.

His mouth dropped open. He had to suck in an anxious breath of air when he opened his eyes and saw how the stone features of the Mother had turned living flesh and now carried a most familiar face.

“C-C-C-Cat?” He felt his heart freeze over. The tremor in his hands became so bad that his whole body seemed to shake with it.

She was whole again. No sign of the deadly cut at her throat. She beamed down at him, still beautiful, still noble and proud, and still so very much unattainable to him, like she had always been.

“Why are you praying Petyr?” Cat said to him with her painted alabaster lips.

“I-I…” His voice was barely audible. The very presence of her had reduced him to a guilt-ridden child again. “I-I was asking the Gods for forgiveness f-for all of my sins-”

“All of them? Do you really think this is all you need to do to get away with all your wickedness? I died because of you. I was murdered, slaughtered at the wedding of my own son. Your vindictiveness and spite has brought this fate on me.”

“Cat I am truly sorry.” He folded his hands as if still in prayer. In life, she always had a way to make him feel easily guilty for even the smallest of transgressions. This however, was of course not exactly the same as hiding a dead rat under the floorboard in Edmure’s bedchamber, or putting a rotten chicken egg in her brother’s riding boots.

During better times in the past, Petyr would often indulge himself into a little wishful thinking. In his mind, he had played out this scene countless of times. One final meeting with Cat after she was miraculously brought back from the dead, when he finally had the opportunity to justify all of his actions to her. In these mindgames, he always knew how to win her over with his flawless arguments and charming deliverance. She would always finally come to see his point of view, and she would forgive him for everything. Now, he found himself in the exact situation that he once had so wished for…and his heavy conscience had made him completely lost for words.

“I didn’t know what Walther Frey was up to with the Boltons.” He told her. If lies failed to pass his lips, he could still try to win her sympathy by offering her the truth, however pathetic and incompetent it may make him look. “When my people found out, it was already too late.”

“Are you sorry too for my dead husband and son?” She continued to relentlessly chastise him. “Ned died because he loved me and I loved him in return, and because you envied and loathed him for it. He was a good man. An honorable man. You knew he was. You promised me you would help him and yet you betrayed him.”

“I-I paid for it, didn’t I?” He whispered. It was the only argument that he had left. “For every wrong I have ever done to you and your family. I paid horribly.”

“It’s not enough.”

“For mercy’s sake, Cat-“ He cried out. “I have spent more than 5 centuries in purgatory as a witless idiot. I have been tormented and tortured every single day since I died. What do you still require of me?! In which way do I still need to grovel and bleed to satisfy you or the Gods?”

“I know what has been done to you.” She said, hardly impressed by his desperation. “Believe me, it’s not even nearly enough.”

Something snapped inside of Petyr. “But…they said it was…" He shook his head in disbelief. "H-he said…V-Varys said that the Gods have restored me, because I was on the right way to atonement.” He tried hesitantly. “He said that Sansa –“

“How dare you to even mention my daughter!” Cat’s voice echoed like thunder through the empty Sept. “You kidnapped her and weaseled your way into her life! You used her and manipulated her, and then you still have the audacity to demand her to love you? What are you thinking, you lunatic! You have helped to murder her family!"

“But-but they are alive again! All of the Starks. Every last one of them.” Petyr tried. “I swear to you! They really are. Go ask Varys if you don’t trust me on my word! Truly…They are healthy, and happy, and living their lives without any knowledge of their past…while I am here in this hell of my own creation. So you see…justice has been done.” He added in a hoarse whisper, nodding his head vigorously. “There is really no need to punish me any further.” He added in a small, frightened voice.

“You think you have only wronged us? What about the thousands of innocent men, women and children who have died during that terrible war? A war that you have started! Have you seen what became of our childhood home? Have you seen the Riverlands burn? How the whole of the Seven Kingdoms was cast into chaos and bloodshed? Do you ask for forgiveness for these countless of lost souls too?”

The very last of his courage sank away. “I am sorry. I didn’t – I didn’t realize – “

“You didn’t think of how many others would suffer because of your selfish little schemes. How the pebble you threw in the ocean would ripple out and cause waves of violence and death that would swallow us all.” Catelyn shook her head in condemnation. “That’s who you are. That’s how you have always been, a reckless selfish little worm! You caused so much suffering and yet you beg forgiveness for only a fraction of the evil that you have caused, and now you want us to consider you fully redeemed? For a clever man you are so incredibly naïve! There is no chance for that to happen. You are closer to the gates of the seven hells than you are to redemption.”

The statues of the other Gods all came to life and turned their faces to look down at him. A memory surfaced, long banished to the furthest corners of his mind, of the very first day after he had arrived in the underworld, when he stood before these same Gods and was judged and sentenced by them. He had not felt any fear then, for he did not know what they could do to him. Now he knew, and he was more terrified of their wrath than anything else.

“But Varys said that I’ve almost fully atoned.” He cried out, trying to remind them of what was promised. “He said that it was nearly enough. He assured me that I could leave. He said that she…she would come back for me.”

“We could keep you here for another 500 years, and still not all of your sins would have been absolved.” The Father said. His face was strong and stern, and looked so much like Ned Stark that it filled Petyr with dread when he laid eyes on him. “You don’t deserve redemption, but eternal damnation in hell for all that you have done, you treacherous little snake!”

“Sansa would never love such a wicked and deranged little monster like you. She won’t ever return for you.” The Mother of Mercy said.

Petyr wept and crumbled down onto the floor, raising his folded hands up to the Gods as he pleaded. “Please. I can’t stay here. I’ll go mad. Please, I beg you, give me just one last chance. I’ll do things differently. I will make right all of my past wrongs, I swear. Everything I have suffered, it can’t all be just for nothing…please don’t tell me that…Please, please have mercy.”

“Why are you still begging?” The Gods exclaimed.

”You don’t deserve our mercy.” Cat said, casting her eyes down at him without a smitten of compassion.

“You don’t deserve our justice.” Ned Stark spoke from the lips of the Father.

“You don’t deserve our protection.” Arya Stark said to him, her face emerging from the stone features of the Warrior.

“And you don’t deserve my love.” The Maiden said, but it was Sansa, his beloved Sansa, who said it. “You don’t deserve to be given a second chance, lord Bealish.”

“What you do deserve…is a kiss from the cold steel of your own blade.” Arya whispered. She reached down, the Valaryian steel dagger already unsheeted in her hand.

The Gods then let out one last communal sigh, right before they went silent. Their breaths transformed into a frosty wind that swept through the Sept. It extinguished the flames of all the candles on the altars.

Petyr lost it again. He laughed and screamed and cried in the darkness. When the blade made contact with his throat, he uttered a cry that barely sounded human, before darkness entered and spread out like a black blot of ink in front of him.

 


 

W-where a-am I?

It was so dark where he was…and so very very cold.

“Petyr? Petyr can you hear me?”

W-why can’t I move? Please let me out. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe…

“Petyr, listen to me. It’s alright. Don’t panic.”

Am I dead? No, no, stupid-stupid, foolish me. How can I have died again when I am dead already? Or…have they finally buried me, put me in a coffin below ground? Oh please, please let me out. Sansa?! Please help me! Sansa? Is that you?…please help!

“You had a seizure. We had to restrain you. You were put in a containment box so you wouldn’t hurt yourself.”

Varys! Where the hell are you? Varys! Littlefinger!? Anyone! Please help me! Please, let me out. Please. I beg you, let me out!

“If you want to get out, I will let you out. But you have to be calm and not scream or fight me or anything like that. Do understand? Tap twice on the lid if you do.”

He didn’t even know that there was a lid. He couldn’t see anything. The darkness that surrounded him was so thick that one could cut it with a knife. But he managed to raise his left elbow a little in the small claustophobic space in which he was confined. It was just enough to allow it to make contact with a solid surface closely above him. He bumped his elbow against it twice, to signal to whoever was out there that he was going to be fully compliant. He would have done anything, as long as they would let him out.

“Alright, I will open it now. But be quiet, and remember, stay calm.”

There was a sound of squeaking hinges and the dry crack of wood, then a bright rectangle shone down right into his face, blinding him with harsh sterile light. He whimpered through his gag, and struggled to get up, but was still bound with his straightjacket to leather straps that were secured to the side of the cursed box.

“Don’t fight.” Ellaria’s large hazel eyes were looking down at him. “I will get you out.”

He was drenched in cold sweat and shivering. Somehow he managed to force himself to hold still and remain as quiet as possible, stifling the mad screams that boiled up from the back of throat by biting into his vomit soaked gag.

“It’s alright.” She whispered. She freed him from the last strap and gently took him in her arms. He was like old broken porcelain, worn thin, fragile and horribly shattered. “Shshsh, everything is okay now.” She took the gag from his mouth and started rocking him slowly. Softly, she stroked her fingers over his back to calm his nerves. “It’s over. Just breathe. Breathe.”

Petyr clung onto her like a man clinging onto a raft at open sea. He buried his face in her work tunic and wept till his sobs turned to dry heaves and the stress had subsided into a general numbness that left him weak and passive. When Ellaria finally got up and told him to follow her, he could hardly get on his feet and needed her help to walk.

She released him from his straightjacket and gave him a clean robe to wear. For both he was grateful. Then she brought him to a room where he had never been before and helped him to sit down on the floor. It was a staff bedroom, presumably hers. There was a simple bed, a rudimentary desk with a chair, and a closet in the corner. The walls were packed with little bottles and jars, all lined up neatly on multiple shelves.

She took a pillow and a blanket from her closet and gave it to him. “Did you stop taking your pills Petyr?”

Petyr shook his head.

“You’re lying.” She sighed. “It must be that, or you wouldn’t have suffered that horrible episode.” She searched through her collection of pills, and walked back while shaking the rattling content of a little brown bottle out on the palm of her hand.

“You shouldn’t have done that.” She tried to explain to him in a kind voice. “What we give you prevents you from becoming anxious. Without the medication, you’ll suffer violent hallucinations and nervous breakdowns.”

“I wasn’t hallucinating.” He whispered with much bitter conviction. “What are these?” He asked when she offered him a handful of white tablets.

“It will help you to keep calm. It will also help you sleep.”

He stared at it but didn't take it. His blue grey eyes were flashing with suspicion.

“Petyr-“ Ellaria sighed. “Take these. I am not trying to poison you. I am trying to help you. If you don’t take them, I can’t keep you here tonight. Policy dictates that we keep you in the isolation box for at least for 48 hours. If they know I have let you out this early I will be in trouble. But you can stay here, and nobody will notice. That is, if you don’t mind sleeping on the floor…and taking these pills, so I can be sure that I will be able to handle you.”

Anything was better than to be locked up in that horrible crate again, so reluctantly, Petyr took the tablets. He had already swallowed them before Ellaria could offer him a glass of water to help get them down.

Swaddled in a blanket, he gazed around the tiny room. Although it was supposed to be her bedroom, every available surface was used to store of what he supposed was her private stash of drugs. There was very little of Ellaria’s own possessions on display, except for a photo frame on the desk close to her bed. The girl in the picture was young and very beautiful, with a tomboy haircut, a sun kissed skin, and a pretty smile. She had her eyes.

“My daughter.” She explained to him with a fond smile. “Be careful please.” She added worriedly, when she saw him pick up the picture in his shaky hands. “It’s the only picture I have of her.”

“She looks like you.” Petyr’s mumbled. His mind was turning, trying hard to make sense of his new benefactor.

“Yes, she also has her father’s temperament.” Carefully, she took the picture from his hands and placed it back on the desk on the exact same spot. “I wish I could be with her more, but she lives outside King’s Landing. It’s hard to pay her a visit. I haven’t seen her for a very long time.” She sat down on her bed.

“Listen-“ She told him tentatively. “I know that you have something to do with what happened to Meryn Trant. It’s not difficult to guess, after that incidence in the Sept. No don’t be scared!“ She hastened to tell him when she saw his response. “I won’t tell anyone. Actually, I am very grateful for whatever you did. He was a disgusting brute. He got what he deserved.” She paused again and looked down at the bottle in her hands, turning the tablets inside around and around. “I am very sorry for sending you to Ramsay Bolton.” She finally admitted after a long silence, and gazed up at him, her hazel eyes full of sincerity. “Truly, I didn’t know how he was like. The way you looked when Sandor brought you back to us, it still gives me nightmares.” She whispered. “If there is anything I could do for you, just ask. Please do." She added with a timid little smile. "It will help me to feel less guilty.”

Petyr looked up at her, slowly blinking his hooded eyes. “Is it true what Trant said?”

“What do you mean?”

Do you…really experiment on the inmates?”

“That stupid brute was full of venom. You shouldn’t take his words so seriously." There was still guilt in her eyes. "I do make potions.” She admitted after a short pause. “I was a certified chemist. I was also making and selling illegal drugs. I thought I could make more money that way so I could move out of King’s Landing and be with my daughter. Then I was arrested. I was given the choice to either go to jail or to come here to do community work. Not much of a choice really.” The side of her lips twisted in a bitter half smile. “At first, I tried to just ignore all the horrible things that happens in here. Father Sparrow is a kind man, but he does not have eyes in the back of his skull…and this place –“ She shook her head and stared up at the ceiling. “-It somehow manages to attract only the worst of the worst, all the Meryn Trants and Ramsay Boltons of this sick little world.”

“I am not a bad person.” She finally told him. She seemed a little ashamed of her confession, that she was showing her frailty to him. “You have to believe me. But yes, I do still make and sell drugs behind father Sparrow’s back. Not that much like I used to, but just enough to make a living and keep a bit on the side. I also make potions for the inmates. Something to treat their hallucinations and anxieties, to relief their suffering…if only briefly. It’s a way for me to handle this place. I have to do something, or it won't feel right.”

“Is that what happened to that woman in cell 13?” Petyr asked cautiously. He noticed the change of expression in her eyes. “I saw her being carried out this morning. Clegane said she died in her sleep.” The way she had met her end had haunted him. He had wondered how she died.

“I was trying to help.” She looked away. “You saw how the treatment had affected her. She would have never recovered from it. She really had nothing left to live for.” She sighed and steadied her gaze on the picture of her daughter. It seemed to give her strength. “She looked very peaceful afterwards." She said pensively. "I have never seen her like that. She was always so loud. Loud and restless.”

So you gave her eternal peace to help put end to all of her suffering…that doesn’t sound so horrible to me.

She snapped out of her thoughts and gazed back at Petyr. “Let me get you an extra blanket.” She said, when she noticed that he still was shivering. “It’s very cold tonight. The bloody heater in this room is almost up for scraps.”

“Ramsay was right.” Petyr whispered, after Ellaria had returned and had draped another blanked around his shoulders.

“What was that scoundrel right about?”

“I am never going to leave this place alive.”

“Don’t think like that. Of course you will.”

“Have they ever let anyone go?” Petyr held her in his gaze, eyes unblinking. “Have you seen it happen? And please, don’t lie to me.”

A pause.

“No one.” She finally admitted with deep sigh. “At least no one that I can remember, but maybe before I came here -”

“So none of it is true.” Petyr muttered softly, finally drawing his own conclusions. Varys and the High Sparrow, they were just feeding me lies to keep me hopeful and docile. “No matter what I do, no matter how much I suffer or how remorseful I am, the Gods will never forgive me.” His eyes were getting moist with tears. “All that I have been through, it’s all just for nothing. They will never let me go. They’re going to keep me here till I die…or till I end up like that mad woman, a drooling mindless wretched mess!”

“Oh Petyr, please stop talking yourself into the ground.” She came to him and put her arms around him again, trying to console his broken spirit. “No one can survive in this place for long without any hope.“

“I don’t want to just survive.” He blurted out. He gazed up at Ellaria. “Please, if you mean anything what you just said to me…help me.” His voice was all choked up. “I don't want to stay here any longer. I can't...I would truly rather die.”

“You poor man…” She sighed, and gently stroked a damp curl from of his eyes. “Of course I will help you.” She said, her voice full of sincerity.

Then after a brief pause, she added.

“What is it that you need?”

 

Notes: Once again, thanks for reading! The second part of this chapter will be posted next Friday!

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Notes: Recommended music:

Take me to church

Sweet nothing

For part 4-6

 

Take me to church
I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death


Good God, let me give you my life

Take me to Church – Hozier

 

4.

18 hours ago

 

Petyr was sitting in the far back of the Sept. As always during father Sparrow’s notoriously long sermons, he preferred to sit apart from the other inmates. The sky had been full of rain all day, and it had turned dark early, but the many candles in the Sept failed to vanquish the gloomy atmosphere inside. With a congregation mainly composed of those with weak wills and minds, and the High Sparrow not knowing how to curb his enthusiasm for preaching doom over his flock of frightful sinners, it was no surprise that the celebration of the mid minter solace, which was called Christmas anywhere else, was not much of a spirit lifter to anyone present here. As usual, Petyr kept his head down, his freezing hands tucked between his knees in a hopeless effort to keep them warm. From the corner of his eyes, he was silently watching Ellaria. She was doing her medication round, distributing the compulsory white tablets to the inmates like she was the Mother of Mercy herself, handing out bread to the starving. When she came to Petyr, she quickly reached inside her pocket and produced two purple pills. They had a thick shiny coating that glinted in the flickering light of the candles. Petyr gave her a brief look, and seemed grateful when he took the pills from her, before he popped them quickly in his mouth and swallowed them down. Ellaria's eyes remained fixed on him briefly, worriedly, before she moved on to the next patient.  

It was done. There was no way for him to turn back now. Petyr had asked Ellaria about the poison that very night he had convinced her to help him. She had said that it was called Tears of Lys. He had panicked then, for he remembered that it was a poison with a similar name that he had once used to get rid of his old mentor. The Tears had ate away at his intestines, letting Jon Arryn die in the most painful possible way, without any dignity, or even a faint resemblance to his proud former self. It would be fitting though. Petyr had thought most cynically. A bit of poetic justice for old Arryn’s murder. You have to admire the twisted sense of humor these sadistic Gods have.

Wearily, he had asked Ellaria what the poison would do to him. When she then explained that it mimicked the symptoms of a violent epileptic fit like the one he had before, he couldn’t help himself from breathing out a deep sigh of relief.

“Are you sure you want to go on with this?” Ellaria had asked, her face showing real concern. “There will be a lot of pain. You know how a seizure feels like. You will be completely paralyzed.”

“I have not expected it to be painless.” Petyr had replied, trying to be brave.

He wished it would be over quickly. The nervousness and fears that naturally came with waiting for the inevitable was eating away at him, but the poison took its sweet time. As the sermon carried on with the pace of two snails mating, and started to last into what seemed to be a bloody eternity, father Sparrow’s voice, which was always flat and lacking in any animation when he delivered the words of the Gods, became a monotonous drone in Petyr’s ears till he, despite of his worries and the persistent cold, nodded off. He believed himself to be traveling in a two-span horse carriage, sent out on one of the many assignments to please the Lannisters or Tyrells or whoever he was working for at the moment, with the constant grinding of the wheels over the countless potholes in the Kingsroad lulling him into a slumber. Then he was awoken by a rough shake on his shoulder.

“I told you…don’t disturb me till we have arrived.” Petyr murmured, waiving his hand in a dismissive gesture, believing himself to be addressing one of his servants.

“Wake up little loon.” Clegane said, and shook him a bit more till Petyr finally opened his hooded eyes and gazed at him with much puzzlement. “Father Sparrow is asking for you.” Sandor rasped.

“What?…Why? W-what did I do?” Petyr mumbled. He couldn’t help himself from feeling incredibly accountable for almost everything at the moment, and the question just slipped out without him noticing.

Clegane shrugged his massive shoulders. With one hand, he hoisted Petyr up from his bench by the back of his collar. “He wants you to get to the front.” He rasped. The Hound gave him what in his perception must be a gentle little push, but it launched Petyr a good few yards forward in a clumsy half stumble.

The High Sparrow held his arms outstretched to receive him to the front altar with a most benevolent smile. He acted like a good shepherd who was welcoming one of his poor lost sheep back into his flock. “Come forward and stand next to me Petyr.”

Petyr timidly climbed the marble steps up the high altar and stood exactly where the Septon had indicated where he should stand. Suddenly he found himself facing a sizeable crow, all of them gawking at their fellow inmate, who seemed somehow to have caught the father’s benevolent eye.

There used to be an awful lot of vanity and arrogance in Petyr that made him much of an insufferable show off at court. His well-tailored clothes advertised his self-made wealth for all to see. The golden signet rings and his silver Mockingbird sigil he always wore with great pride reminded those higher born lords and ladies that his rising position as one of the greatest lords of Westeros, was all due to his own cunning and hard work, and had nothing to do with what he was given by birth right. His dream of one day having these haughty nobles who he so despised down on their knees, groveling in front of him, was one that he had cherished ever since he had started his ascend to the top of this feudal mount of corruption. And as Littlefinger, he couldn’t care less what others really thought of him, as long as they behaved like good little string puppets, and acted out every one of his schemes in perfect consistent predictability. This, however, wasn’t exactly his finest hour. With his ruined hands that always seemed to tremble beyond his control, and the many scars hidden underneath his filthy ragged robe, he felt like the lowest of the low, and didn’t really expect anyone to be envious of him any time soon. This audience of lunatics wasn’t one that he much cared for either. Worse still, he had just taken the poison and didn’t know how long he had before it started to work. He fiercely hoped that Ellaria wasn’t wrong about the effects of the drug. The thought that he would soon end up like his poor old mentor, lying on the floor, writhing of pain and drowning in his own filth in front of all to see, was simply too dreadful to consider.

“Why did you ask for me father?” He kept his gaze cast firmly on the floor, while his hands fumbled nervously with his sleeves.

“I want you to speak a few words to the congregation.” Father Sparrow had noticed his star disciple’s uneasy, but thought it would do him good to interact more with the other patients. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity. “Tell them about the long journey you have undertaken these last few months to get to where you are now.” He said to Petyr with a glint of pride in his kind grey eyes.

Petyr shook his head. His cheeks were rapidly flushing crimson. “Really, I don’t think anyone would be much interested.” He muttered.

“Of course they are. You are a shining example of redemption. Your story from how you battled your demons to come in from the dark is one that will certainly inspire us.”

Petyr, almost mortified, kept shaking his head fervently. Father Sparrow decided to just ignore it and draped his arm over his pupil’s shoulder to lead him forward. “Go on. Share your story with us.” He encouraged him with a gentle pat on the shoulder. “Don’t be shy.”

Petyr swallowed hard. He cleared his throat and gazed sheepishly around at the many hollow-eyed faces, staring back at him in the Sept. “I…I er, I think I am not the right man to speak of such matters…”

“Hey! Speak up little loon!” Sandor shouted at him from the far back. He was leaning against the pedestal of the statue of the Mother with his arms crossed over his chest. His ruined face showed crude amusement, but also some curiosity. “I can’t hear a word of what you’re mumbling from back here!”

Petyr was still trying to steady his nerves, just when the first waves of pain hit him. It was like the first bolt of lightening in a thunderstorm that came crashing into his brain. It sent his vision black for the briefest of moments.

Thank heavens, it really does work like a seizure, not like a sickness of the bowels. There was, considering the circumstances, certainly some comfort to be found in that.

Somehow, despite the sudden agony, he still managed to force his brain to make up something to say that would not sound completely foolish.

“Father Sparrow, he asked me to tell you something about…redemption.” He started hesitantly, bowing his head while noticing that the pain was already subsiding again. “My redemption…to be precise. I am much flattered that he actually considers me to be redeemed. I have done…truly terrible things in the past. I suspect many of us here have. As you may have noticed, this place is not exactly paradise for those who have behaved themselves saintly or honorably.”

So it’s not the fucking ornate watergardens in Dorne during springtime. Besides of pointing out the bloody obvious, what is your bloody point? He heard Littlefinger snarl at him.

“The point is –“ Petyr continued, raising his voice to drone out his wicked counter part’s mockery. “I have truly suffered here. I have been punished severely. For every wicked thing that I have ever done I now carry a hideous scar. Somehow, I have managed to survive months of Ramsay’s tortures. If you wondered what he did to me. He whipped me. He fucked me. He cut my skin away with his knife.” He paused, forcing back the frightful memories that his own words summoned up in his mind. “H-he made beg for my own death. For a while, I thought that that was the worst of what they could do to me here, but I was wrong.” He gazed up. The once bored and uninterested faces of the inmates started to show some interest. “Some of you must have been here longer then me. You know what I mean. The Gods have been punishing us by keeping us here. They think they can scare us by using the whip, by flaying our flesh or by violating our physical bodies in any other horrific way, but that’s not what breaks us. What truly kills us, and sends us over the edge, is the knowledge that we are complete abandoned. We are forgotten by everyone who was ever dear to us, by anyone who we have ever loved. Our mothers and fathers, siblings and friends, even our wives and children, or…our lovers.” An image of Sansa slipped into his mind. She was sitting at home at the dinner table with the rest of her family. They were just talking and laughing and sharing a meal together. There was nothing special about this mundane little scene, but it was something that he knew he could never have with her.

Something so very simple, and yet so beyond his reach.

He pushed the painful image aside.

“Maybe, they once have shed a tear or two to mourn for us. Maybe they even did not do that –“ He recalled how she had stood up from her chair to watch him bleed out on the floor. He wished he had at least seen a tear. There had been none. “And then the centuries move on. They forget that we have ever even existed. They have another life now, a new family, a new love, but we are here still, suffering for the things that we have done wrong lifetimes ago, while they are somewhere else, and live their lives, and don’t even know…or even care.” He paused and gazed up at the congregation.

He knew that he had said something that he shouldn’t. The men and women in the Sept looked back at him and at eachother in utter silence. Many of them were in a state of grief and confusion, or even panic. He had opened up a window into their consciousness, brought back memories of which their divine jailors had decided that they weren’t ready to regain, and the horrible effect of this on their fragile mental states was starting to become visible.

“We are truly wretched creatures.” He concluded in a hoarse whisper. “Abandoned by all. Even by the Gods.”

Some of the inmates started crying, others yelled out frightfully. A bald man who sat in one of the front rows clenched and unclenched his fists while he kicked into the wooden bench in front of him repeatedly.

Petyr gasped and bent forward when a second wave of pain hit him. It scattered his thoughts like a flock of birds reacting to a gun shot.

Very elegantly put. Littlefinger commented. He didn’t seem to be much affected by the poison that was ravaging through Petyr’s body. It does puzzle me though, to what purpose are you rousing up this herd of loons? I thought you have already decided that you wanted to die?

The reason was very simple. Every word of what Petyr had said was heartfelt. He had no plans to manipulate his unfortunate fellow inmates. He knew that there was no need to keep up his pretence of a devout follower of the Faith any longer, and it felt truly liberating to finally be able to speak his mind.

And yet...

It’s such…chaos, isn’t? He said to Littlefinger, completely mesmerized as he watched the anxious inmates leap up from the benches and start to tear the whole place apart. Such wonderful, brilliant chaos.

All this, achieved with little more but a few breaths of sound. Petyr had lost control over his life for a very long time. He had been reduced to a wretched plaything for the Gods and other malignant souls to taunt and ridicule, without any means to defend himself. He was a wolf without its pack, a lion without its teeth and claws, a mockingbird without a song. When it was finally returned to him, he had been so used to being silenced that he had not dared to sing, but no one can really change the true nature of a beast, not even the Gods. So when he was finally called forward and was given an audience, meaning actual people who would listen and be responsive to him, he just couldn’t help himself. He took vulgar pleasure in seeing what his words had achieved, what effect it had on others, and for a moment, he felt rather proud of himself.

It’s like a witch’s spell. He shut his eyes and breathed in deeply as he succumbed to deep sense of nostalgia. Oh how I have missed all this.

Someone laid a firm hand on his shoulder and tried to pull him back. “What have you done?” Father Sparrow urged, his grey eyes wide in shock and disbelief.

Petyr just shrugged and rudely brushed his hand away. “I did what you asked me to do.” He said with a sarcastic little grin. “I told your flock about my unfortunate adventures here in the afterlife.” He turned back to the now rowdy crowd and continued in a louder and harsher voice; “You know what I have learned, after centuries of this? All of my suffering wasn’t going to help me one little bit. No, the Gods have left us here and have all forgetting about us, without ever giving us any hope of salvation, or granting us even a smitten of mercy. They will happily let us rot in this hell for eternity. This is the sort of cruelty what makes two kinds of man. One who will lie down meekly and die in the hole they have dug out for him....And one who will stand up against them, because he simply can not accept this thorough fuckery any longer! Let me tell you something my new, brilliantly violent, mad, drooling friends –“ He concluded, rushing to finish his speech when he saw Clegane come for him. “- this great injustice is what really turns good men into monsters!” He still had a mad grin on his face when he was struck by a third sequence of seizures, just when Sandor grabbed hold of him with his ham-sized hands. “F-fuck the Gods!” Petyr still managed to yell out while he was being dragged away with his feet kicking in the air. “Fuck them all in their seven holy assholes!"

He was abruptly silenced with a hard slap across his face. Much to his surprise, it did not come from Sandor, but from the High Sparrow.

“How dare you to speak such profanity, right in the house of the Seven where we are standing!” The High Sparrow exclaimed, visibly angered.

Through the painful fog of his ongoing seizure, Petyr glared at him incomprehensively. “You let me say all these things in front of your feeble minded, easily manipulated flock, and then you get upset about one little dirty word? Seriously?” He was grinning again.

“Get him out of my sight.” Father Sparrow ordered Clegane. “Lock this unrelenting madman up in the isolation ward! Gag him before he soils his soul with more blasphemy!”

While he was being dragged out of the Sept by Clegane, Petyr managed to address his rioting audience one last time. “My suffering will soon be over my friends, but maybe I can provide some relief to yours, the lock code for the security gates is 482112.” He watched with much amusement how the inmates rushed over to the gates, although most of them looked rather baffled after they had punched in the first few numbers. “It’s 482112!” He reminded them with a cheeky smile. It wouldn’t do them any good, for it only opened the gates in between the units, and not the main gates to the outside public section of the asylum. To open those, one would need old-fashioned keys that were in the possession of various members of staff. Petyr knew this, because had thought about it countless of times, but couldn’t find a way for it to work. He did enjoy watch the inmates scramble and fight over who would get a turn on the numberlocks though. “Let me repeat that for our more mentally challenged friends." He laughed. "It’s 4, 8-“ He couldn’t finish his sentence. Clegane stuffed a piece of cloth in his mouth and was quickly securing it with a leather strap. Petyr, against better judgement, tried to fight him off, but Sandor just picked him up and swung him over his shoulder. The Hound silently made his way through the rioting mass, occasionally shoving one of the inmates aside, or punching another in the face, till he finally got Petyr to an isolation cell. By the time his warden strapped him inside a straightjacket, Petyr was already suffering from a fourth and final episode of brutal attacks that was so very destructive to his nervous system that he couldn’t even bat his eyelids, let alone offer any resistance.

Fear of any kind, in particular fear of failure or death, had the irritating habit to sneak up on Petyr only when the damage of his actions was long deemed irreversible. So it was only after Clegane had left him in his padded cell that he started to feel real dread for what he had done so thoughtlessly.

Congrats, you imbecile –“ He heard Littlefinger tell him, his voice dripping with morbid sarcasm. “You got yourself locked up in an isolation cell. How on earth is that Sand woman supposed to get to us now?

Petyr couldn’t provide Littlefinger with an answer. His mind was starting to shut down. The full-blown thunderstorm had finally arrived. It was raging inside his head, doors were slammed shut and curtains were falling, the intricate machinery of thought was grinding to a full halt, while his whole body was overtaken by violent spasms.

Dying, apparently, was just as he had expected, not at all a painless act.  

 

5.

Now.

They arrived at a place that seemed too peaceful and serene for it to be balancing at the very gates of hell. Sansa swept the car down the driveway that curved through the green parkland, and parked close to the building’s main entrance. When she and Brienne stepped out, she noticed a little flock of finches swirling low through the air before they disappeared in a dense patch of undergrowth. At least there are birds here. She thought, remembering how much Petyr loved to watch the starlings and the sparrows early in the morning from his balcony. Maybe Tywin and Brienne were wrong about this place. Maybe it’s not so bad and Petyr is still fine.

The naive hope she still cherished quickly vanished once they were inside. There were security gates that looked like cages, barring every corridor in sight. Behind them were yards of cracked floor tiles and cobwebbed walls with flaking paint. The stench of sweat and stale urine hung thick in the air. She caught her first frightful glimpse of one of the inmates. He was shuffling behind the bars, eyes hollow and mindless, and shaking his head continuously in utter fear and confusion while mumbling a string of incomprehensible gibberish under his breath.

Oh God, what have I done? Why didn’t I return for him any sooner?

“How do we get in?” Sansa asked Brienne. The thought that Petyr could have been reduced into one of those poor wretched creatures made her feel sick to the stomach.

Brienne stepped up to one of the barred gates and shouted into the corridor, trying to make contact with any member of staff. A tall woman with mousy brown hair dressed in a hospital tunic came to meet them. “Who are you two? What are you doing here?” She asked rather rudely.

“I am Brienne of Tarth and this is Sansa Stark. We are looking for one of the patients here. His name is Petyr Bealish. We would like to pay him a visit.”

“No visitors allowed." She said sternly. "This is not a normal hospital. Our patients cannot receive anyone from outside unless it’s authorized by father Sparrow.”

“Can we speak to father Sparrow then?” Sansa urged, grasping the bars so tight that her knuckles were turning white. “I really need to see Petyr urgently.”

“Father Sparrow is not available at the moment. He is occupied.” The female orderly replied. She paused as if she suddenly realized something. “Bealish you say. You are looking for him?”

“Yes! Yes! First name Petyr, last name Bealish.” Sansa confirmed, nodding fervently.

“Just allow us to speak to father Sparrow for a moment to ask him for permission.” Brienne opted. “We don’t want to cause any trouble. We will follow whatever procedure that is required for us to meet with the patient correctly. Just don’t send us away without even given us a chance to visit him.”

“Please, just let me see him.” Sansa pleaded.

The woman hesitated for a long while, but she eventually took out her bundle of keys and unlocked the gate to let them in. “Normally I wouldn’t do this, but considering the circumstances…you two better come with me.”

Sensing that something was horribly wrong, Sansa tried to get the woman to talk her, but she stubbornly refused. She led them through a maze of corridors, opening several gates with a number code she knew by heart. By the time they reached the study of father Sparrow, Sansa’s nerves were balancing on a knife's edge.

“Who are these people?” The High Sparrow asked, when he saw the female orderly enter with the two uninvited visitors. The old man looked tired and miserable. “Sister Unella, I told you I wanted to be alone for the rest of the day for my prayers.”

“I know father, but these two asked about Petyr.”

That immediate caught father Sparrow’s attention. He dismissed Unella before addressing the the two women behind closed doors. “You are his relatives?” He asked hesitantly.

“Friends.” Brienne replied. “Well, at least she is.” She nodded in the direction of Sansa. “I am only a friend of hers. My name is Brienne of Tarth.”

“I am Sansa Stark. I am a good friend of Petyr. Father Sparrow, I can assure you that he was sent here on false charges.” Sansa blurted out, her heart too overflowing with worry to allow her to judge and respond to the situation correctly. “Petyr shouldn’t be here." She rushed to tell him. "He isn’t mad, and he has not done anything to hurt anyone.”

You my dear, are not supposed to be here.” The high Sparrow replied, studying her face with a look of pure bewilderment. “There is something about you…some kind of radiant glow. I have not seen such a light in this place before. Not ever.” He muttered.

“She’s not from King’s Landing.” Brienne explained, hoping that it would be enough to keep the High Sparrow from asking any more questions.

“Why are you here?” Father Sparrow finally asked Sansa.

“I want to see Petyr. Please could you let me see him?"

“Ah…” It came out of him as a sad sigh, as if he was suddenly reminded of something horrid that her presence had allowed him to briefly forget.

“What? What ah? Is there a problem? Is there something wrong? Did something happen to him?”

Sansa’s heart sank when she noticed the mournful look in his grey eyes.

“My sweet girl," He said, shaking his head. "I am afraid you are too late.”

 


 

She thought that her heart would shatter when she entered the padded cell and finally saw Petyr lying there. They had already put him in a coffin, which was little more but a simple narrow crate made of plywood. He was naked, except for his briefs. They have taken everything from him. Sansa thought. They have stripped him from everything he was and reduced him into this. Her heart sputtered like it had just been struck with a knife. If he is really dead, I don’t know if I can stand it. I don’t know if I can look at him. Slowly, she walked closer, like a woman lost in a bad dream. She barely noticed the orderly who was standing near the door till he held out his hand to stop her. “Is she supposed to be here?” Clegane asked, looking at father Sparrow, who nodded approvingly in response.

She recognized the orderly's scar-marked face. Sandor Clegane. He is here too? She wondered if he had anything to do with what happened to Petyr. Was he ever mean to him? Did he hurt him? But she remembered how the Hound had treated her when she was still at the mercy of Joffrey. He was perhaps not the gentlest of souls, but he had been kind. It doesn’t matter anymore, does it? Petyr is dead. No matter how much you try to reason your way out of this, he will stay dead, he won’t come back.

“Your friend was a deeply troubled young man.” The High Sparrow said in a soft, quiet voice. “We have tried our best to help him.”

“How did this happen?” Brienne asked. She never had much sympathy for Littlefinger, but the suddenness of his demise did shock her.

I know how this happened. Sansa thought. I let it happen. I abandoned him. I promised that I will come back for him, but I was too stupid and too much of a coward to dare to come back sooner. Petyr loved me. He waited for me, and yet I betrayed him again, I let him die, just like the first time. 

“He was causing trouble during last night sermon.” Father Sparrow shook his head pensively, as if still struggling to comprehend it. “It was very strange. Petyr is usually very quiet and polite, but today he did not act like himself at all. He was rude and defiant, and was spewing out horrible profanities that were greatly offensive to the Gods. It was almost like the poor boy was possessed. I had to put a stop to it, and had no other choice but to order him to be restrained. He was locked away for only two hours or so, but he must have suffered a seizure. It had happened to him before. By the time miss Sand notified me that there was something wrong with him, it was already too late.”

Sansa stood so close that she could now see the markings on his body, not only the scar he had once told her about, the long jagged line that ran from his collarbone to his navel, given to him by her dead uncle a lifetime ago, but the countless of others, which she knew weren’t there before. They formed a terrible pattern of thin red streaks that covered most of what she could see of his chest, arms and legs. In between ran long horrific scars, ugly remnants of the coarse stitches made by the medical staff in an attempt to close up the cracked, festering wounds that were left behind after Ramsay had flayed him.

She ran her fingers over his face, lingering over the rope burns in the corners of his mouth where the leather had bound his gag in place, and traced over the inflamed red circle around his neck where the iron dog collar had scraped repeatedly over his skin. He felt so cold. He looked so awfully thin and frail. His belly was hollow, his ribs and cheekbones angular and protruding, his eyes deep-sunken. His once black curls had turned all grey, and his hands… Oh God his hands…

“What have you done to him?!” Sansa cried out, her voice trembling.

“We have not mistreated him in any way.” The High Sparrow rushed to tell her. “It was all standard procedure. He didn’t choke or swallow his tongue or anything like that. We have taken the right precautions to prevent such unnecessary accidents. I am afraid that the poor boy’s heart must have suddenly given up.”

“I meant the scars!” She snapped back angrily at him. “Why does he have so many scars?!”

Father Sparrow was taken much aback by her accusative tune and seemed too upset to respond, but there was a black-haired woman, supposedly another member of staff, who had just rushed into the isolation cell, who could provide her with an answer.

“We had a co-worker who grossly abused his position and had horribly ill-treated some of our patients. Petyr was one of them.”

“What kind of monster would do this to anyone?!” Sansa blurted out, her blurry vision swimming with tears.

“I am very sorry for what Petyr had to go through.” Father Sparrow said softly, after he had finally regained his calm. “It was truly a horrific incidence. I realize that it is a poor consolation, but I can assure you that we have learned our lesson. We have tightened supervision over our orderlies. Someone like Ramsay Bolton will not be able to harm any of the patients again.”

Ramsay Bolton?” The blood in her heart turned into a liquid poison that chilled her bones and turned her flesh completely numb. “He did this? He was here?”

“He was sent here to do community service.”

"Ramsa was left in charge of Petyr?” No wonder Petyr has suffered so.

"I am very ashamed to say that I trusted him. I thought Ramsay was truly repentant. He made me believe that he wanted to better his ways. I realize now how foolish I was. That little devil had a real talent of hiding his true despicable nature from us.”

Sansa froze. Everything that Ramsay Bolton had ever done to her came rushing back, every vile horrid thing that his deranged mind had come up with and his seemingly boundless cruelty had allowed him to act upon. She had been beaten and cut and whipped by him. Did that monster do all that to Petyr too? Her whole body began to tremble of shock and grief. She thought she was going mad. It’s my fault…it’s all my fault! I let him die in this horrible place. All these months, he was here all alone with no one to care for him, left at the mercy of that mad sadist.

Miss?” She felt dead and cold inside, like she was one of the stone statues in the crypt beneath Winterfell. She hardly noticed when someone put a hand on her shoulder and gently but also very persistently guided her away from the coffin. “I know that you are grieving, but you have to leave the room.” The black-haired woman said to her. “We have to close up the coffin. They are going to pick him up in less then an hour.”

“No.” Sansa muttered, the realization that they were trying to separate her again from Petyr pulled her right back from her catatonic state. “No! I’m not leaving him!” She threw herself down on Petyr, her tear sodden face soaking his grey locks.

“Really, I don’t think this is such a good idea.” The black-haired woman came running after her. “You are obviously in shock.” She laid her hand on her again, this time on her arm. “We must get her out of here –“ She tried to convince the others. “This is not doing her any good.”

The black-haired woman tugged gently on her arm to beckon her to leave. Stressed, Sansa suddenly lashed out and slapped her hard. The sound of impact resonated like a gun shot. The woman glared at her for a moment, but there was no anger in her hazel brown eyes, only anxiousness.

“Get her away from him.” Father Sparrow finally said, and gave a brief nod to Sandor, who grabbed Sansa by her arms from behind.

“Wait! What are you doing?” Brienne uttered. “Let her go.”

“Not until she is calm and father Sparrow gives the order.” Sandor growled while he held onto the madly struggling young woman.

“Let us all leave.” The High Sparrow suggested, eager to get away from the source of his guilt. He turned briefly to the black-haired woman. “Miss Sand, please proceed with your work.”

“No! No! Let me stay!” Sansa said, weeping helplessly. “I just want to stay with him! Why can’t I stay with Petyr? Let me stay! Please!”

But it was of no use. There was no way she could fight herself free from Sandor, and Brienne seemed to agree with the others that she was too much affected by grief in Petyr’s presence to be left alone with him. She caught one last glimpse of Petyr, and noticed that he still wore the little Mockingbird that she had given him with the silver pendant resting in the crevice of his bruised left collar bone, before she was dragged out and the cell door was slammed shut behind her.

Ellaria Sand waited till she could no longer hear their voices outside in the corridor before she rushed over to Petyr’s side.

“Mother of Mercy, I thought they were never going to leave the room.” She muttered. Quickly, she produced a vial with a clear purple liquid from her pocket. She removed the cap and drank the entire bottle before she bowed over the coffin and kissed him on his lips, letting the liquid pour from her mouth into his. She then wiped her lips with the back of her hand and tilted his head slightly, to make sure that the antidote would trickle down and reach his stomach.

“I don’t know if it will help-“ She said softly to him while she brushed away a drop of blood that seeped out of his left ear. “-but I pray to the Gods that they will keep you.“ She stroked his grey curls and placed a final kiss on his cheek. "Goodbye Petyr.” She whispered. “Safe journey. May you finally find out there what your heart is so longing for.”

 

Notes: That's it, thanks for reading again. I need some time to catch up with my writing again, so next chapter will be up 2nd of February, but I will be posting the first chapter of a new series next week, so maybe you could check it out and give it a try? Pretty please? ;)

Oh and for those who missed it: I wrote a bit of smut as a add on to the Mock(ing)bird series. If it is well received I will probably do it more often, but if you are tender of heart please don't read it, I don't want to scare you to death.

A little Kindness

Cheers

H

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Notes: I wanted to write this chapter for ages, and here it finally is.

Suggested music-tracks

World Ender

Solitude (Basically wrote this entire thing while looping this piece. Don't know what other people make of it, but to me it's a woodland bird struggling to take flight).

For parts 1-4 of this chapter

Winter is here

For part 1, the scene outside in the car-park.

 

 

1.

“So I suppose, I need to congratulate you for your achievement. You finally managed to get out of the madhouse.”

They were sitting opposite each-other in the study of Jon Arryn. Littlefinger and Petyr, the man he used to be and the man he had become, staring at each-other in the darkened room.

A sneer of a smile flickered on Petyr’s lips when he noticed that it almost physically pained Littlefinger to admit his success. “Why exactly, are you still here?” He asked, just to spite him.

“You don’t wish to find me here?”

“I wish you to be gone. Get out of my sight with that reptile smile of yours. Leave, and let me speak to Aylane again.”

“Did they ever tell you that you have a serious problem with self-hatred?” Littlefinger smirked, crossing his legs and resting his hands in his lap. “You’re a perfect specimen for all the Maesters in the Citadel who study self-destructive lunacy. Anyway-“ He added dismissively. “Isn’t it too quick to say that you don’t need me anymore? You’re not out of the woods yet.”

“Oh I don’t need you.” Petyr said, shaking his head, and still smiling that sneer of a smile. “Ellaria told me everything. I know what they usually do when they have a dead body on their hands. I know what to expect. I was put in a wooden coffin and shipped away to the morgue in King's Landing. There they will hold me for at least another 48 hours before they would even start thinking of putting me in the ground. That should be more than enough time for the antidote to work, and for me to wake up and get out.”

“Yes...you would certainly think so.” Littlefinger mused. He remained silent for a moment, and appeared much amused.

“What is it?”

“How long has it been since they hammered the last nail into your coffin?”

“It can’t be that long ago. I haven’t been here that long.”

Littlefinger’s gaze remained fixed on him. “Are you sure?”

Petyr felt a chill run down his spine. He let out an anxious sigh that immediately transformed into a frosty white cloud of air.

“Yes, it’s very cold, isn’t?” Littlefinger commented, watching him shiver and wrap his arms around his chest in an attempt to preserve body heat. “It’s almost freezing in here. Tell me Petyr, I am not much familiar with the customs of this world, but what do they do to preserve the dead before burial?”

Petyr couldn’t answer him. His whole body was starting to suffer from hypothermia. It made his teeth chatter, and turned any sounds that he was still capable to produce into broken whispers. He couldn’t feel his hands and fingers any longer, and his feet were devoid of any sensation.

Littlefinger leaned closer. Unlike Petyr he was not the least affected. “Another question, how long do you think it takes for someone to freeze to death?”

Petyr couldn’t even blink. His face was completely frozen. He couldn’t feel or do anything. From the corner of his eyes, he saw white fingers of frost creep over the blue stone walls, then the blue faded and a wood pattern emerged. It was covered by a thin sheen of ice.

“Wake up.” Littlefinger told him, snapping his fingers right in front of Petyr's face. His voice was still perfectly calm, but his cold grey green eyes were clearly berating him for his unforgivable stupidity.

Wake up! Wake up you mad idiot, unless you want to die for real!

He woke up in complete darkness, his whole body frozen and so stiff that it hurt to move. For a brief moment, Petyr thought he was imprisoned in that awful isolation box again, his body strapped down with leather belts and his arms confined inside a straight jacket. Panic rose from the pit of his stomach and he was about to cry out in distress, just when Littlefinger intervened.

Stop that you fool! You’re not in that padded box. You’re no longer in the madhouse. You escaped. That Sand woman helped you with her potions to fake your own death. Have you already so soon forgotten about this?

Petyr stifled a whimper and kept his lips tightly together to prevent himself from screaming.

You need to get out. They’ve put you in a wooden coffin, and that coffin is currently inside a giant ice box. You’re going to die in here if you stay too long.

Petyr sucked in a deep ragged breath to calm his nerves and clear his head. Then he raised his hands and traced over the wooden surface of the lid above him.

He stayed very quiet and held in his breath for a moment, trying to listen if he could hear any sounds or voices coming from outside. He could only pick up the mechanical hum of machinery, possibly an electrical fan of some kind. When he was sure he had been left completely on his own, he placed his palms flat against the lid, and started to slam his knee into the wood. Ellaria had only pinned it down with a minimal number of nails, and it took Petyr only several kicks to get the lid loosened enough to make a gap that revealed a thin line of light to him. He continued till the gap had further widened enough for his fingers to slip through. Then he pushed hard with his hands till he heard the cheap plywood crack and splinter, and the whole thing broke loose with a sudden snap. Clumsily, he struggled up and tossed the lid aside. Still panting heavily from his efforts and shivering uncontrolably, he gazed around. He found himself in a cold storage room. A row of wooden coffins was lined on steel top tables next to him. Cold light shone from flickering fluorescent tubes, making everything look sterile, bruised, and dead.

Petyr climbed out of his own coffin and stepped down the steel table on the freezing tiles, swaying a little on his unsteady feet.

No wonder I am freezing. He thought, finally realizing that he had been stripped down to his briefs. With his teeth chattering, he wrapped his arms tightly around his bare chest in an attempt to keep warm. After all that they have done to me, could they at least not have tried to bury me with a bit more dignity? He thought bitterly, before another, more urgent thought hit him.

He searched through the coffin and let out a deep sigh of relief when he retrieved the plastic package that Ellaria had packed in the crate with him. He tucked it safely under the crook of his arm and started to seek his way out. Luckily for Petyr, he found that the heavy steel door to the cold room could be opened from the inside, and was unlocked. After he had checked that nobody was there, he stepped outside. Hastily, he made his way through a series of long corridors, all the while worrying that someone might bump into him, or worse, that the High Sparrow had not shipped him off at all, and he was somehow still in the asylum. By chance, he passed by a staff locker room and heard water running in the nearby shower. His heart rate doubled. He was about to sneak pass when he saw a bundle of clothes lying discarded on the wet floor. Tempted, he went in and snatched it, quickly putting on the grey hoody sweater and the pair of old faded jeans. Everthing was clearly a few sizes too large for him, but it was better than to keep running around in his birthday suit, or freezing to death. He stuffed the package under his sweater and pulled a belt tightly around it. He also found a pair of muddy sneakers under a bench. He was still struggling to put these on when he rushed out of the room hopping on one shoe, after he heard the water being turned off and the owner of the outfit leaving the shower. 

Petyr started to run. He thought that the confusing maze of corridors was never going to end, and was beginning to get nasty flashbacks from the time he was being hunted down by Ramsay’s dogs in the asylum, when he finally found a green exit sign above one of the double doors. With his heart fluttering madly, he pushed through. Fresh cold air hit him in the face. Then the doors slammed shut behind him, and he finally found himself standing outside, breathing in the cool crisp night air on an ugly deserted car-park. 

I am out. I am finally out. He leaned back his head and stared up at the vast, starless, pitch-black sky.

Finally...I am free.

The very thought of it gave his heart wings. It made him smile. For the first time since a very long while, it didn't look mad.

You see. Littlefinger told him. It doesn’t hurt to keep an old friend close.

Petyr laughed giddily. Slowly, he blew out a breath of air, and watched it form fragile clouds as it danced in the yellow light of the street lamps. A memory of Sansa surfaced, eyes wide, reflecting the light of the street lamps in King's Landing estate.

She was terrified, running hectically while trying to escape from Ramsay’s dogs.

And then he remembered.

Ramsay Bolton was now in her world. The evil bastard was in the land of the living and could do whatever the hell he wanted. He and his bitch harlot from hell had been there for months while he had been stuck here, playing the devoted madman.

His worries hardened into a cold stone in his stomach as he realized that Ramsay could have found Sansa by now.

Where are you going? Littlefinger asked when he noticed that Petyr was starting to walk away from the building.

You know where. All his previous joy of having regained freedom had drained away from Petyr's face.

Seven hells! Not that again. Can you please stop thinking with your cock first?! Littlefinger sneered.

You wanted us to get out of purgatory. Petyr replied as he picked up speed and left the car-park, crossing the street. I am fully complying. Why do you care what reason I have to do this?

Leaving purgatory is fine with me, but not too fast. We still have things to do.

Like what?! I am sick and tired of this place.

Believe me, that makes both of us. But once we go over to the other side, chances are, we are not going to return. Don’t you want to take care of your little list first?

An image of chief constable Tywin Lannister, sitting behind his desk at the police station and showing Petyr the 5 signatures on his commitment paper popped into his mind. The names on the document, red and dripping, as if written in fresh blood, danced off the page and would not leave his thoughts until he had stopped dead in his tracks.

“Good point.” Petyr muttered out loud, blinking his eyes slowly to get rid of the last remnants of an image of Cercei’s Lannister’s face, when she watched him being arrested and taken away in the police car together with Sansa. Her booze-filled gaze carried glints of cheerful spite. Her wine-soaked lips spread out into a bitchy smile, full of malicious pleasure. And she had laughed. She had enjoyed herself immensely when she and her clueless brother knowingly sent him off to hell.

Slowly, Petyr clenched and unclenched his fists. He chewed on his lower lip till the taste of blood was on his tongue, then he pulled the hoody far down over his eyes, and turned to head in the direction of the bright lights of a nearby gas station with a fast determined stride. 

No one had seen him leave the mortuary, except for a tall, broad shouldered man, who had hidden himself behind a parked van. His scar marked face was hardly visible in the shadows, cast by the street lights.

 

2.

He had picked up his exotic perfume long before his soft footsteps could even notify him that he was there.

“Varys.” Petyr whispered, careful not to make too much noise and wake up the people inside the flat. He stopped with what he was doing and turned around to face the Spider with a smile that did not reach his eyes. Look what the tide has swept in with the rest of the useless muck. It certainly has been a while.

“My dear ward –“ Varys was looking at him with a most worried and wary expression. “Forgive me for my crude language, but what the hell do you think you are doing here?”

Petyr just smiled at him, and put a finger on his lips. You don’t want to wake up my old neighbors. He told him, shushing at him with an almost childlike excitement. Please, there is no need for actual words. You have said to me before that you could hear my thoughts loud and clear.

“They cannot see me and they cannot hear me Petyr. The Lannisters are still lifetimes away from ever being ready to leave.”

Is that truly how it works? Petyr puffed up his cheeks and rolled his eyes at the Spider. You don’t mind me keeping my silence though? I don’t want to spoil the surprise that I am preparing for them. He added with a gleeful smile, and turned his attention back to hauling heavy bags of garbage from a nearby parked container, over to an already huge pile that was slumped against the front door and kitchen window of Cercei and Jaimie Lannister’s flat.

“My poor ward -“ Varys sighed with true pity sounding through his voice. “What in the name of the seven Heavens are you doing?”

Make an intelligent guess. Petyr replied, still grinning madly.

“Oh please it’s not that difficult, is it?” It’s now Varys’s turn to roll his eyes at him. “You’re trying to get even with the Lannisters. You are barricading their front door because you are thinking about doing something truly horrid to them while they are asleep.”

Petyr shrugged. Cercei always said that I was a dangerous nutcase who one day was going to burn down her home with her and her brother in it. It seemed very rude not to live up to the grand paranoia and ludicrous expectations of her Grace.

He tossed the last bag on top. The pile was now so large that it had completely buried the whole front of the apartment behind it. No one was ever going to be able to get out without a serious struggle. Petyr took a few steps back to admire his hard work, then he casually swirled around and picked up a jerrycan from the floor.

“I must insist you stop with this madness immediately.” Varys said sternly, stepping in front.

Blue grey eyes, carrying a hint of green, glared up at the Spider. “Make me.” He said in a low whispered threat.

“I…can’t.” Varys admitted, a little embarrassed. “Regretfully, my new masters have not granted me an actual physical form that would allow me to intervene.”

Petyr lifted his eyebrows at him. Well, that’s pretty useless. It looks like you didn’t get a very good deal out of your current employment, my old friend. What if you ever get a nasty itch in that gash between your legs? He walked pass the Spider, walking backwards while smirking, before he turned and removed the cap, and started pouring out the entire content over the heap. The smell of gasoline filled the cold night air as it seeped through the many layers of rubbish.

“Stop this.” Varys urged.

Do you know how long it took me to gather and steal all this shit together? That heartless drunken bitch is definitely going to burn.

“Oh please stop this!” Varys was getting too desperate to keep his composure any longer. “You stubborn little man!" He spat out. "You have no idea how close you are, and now you’re going to ruin it. You are going to take away any chance you had for salvation.”

Petyr had enough. He tossed the empty can aside and turned around to face the Spider. “Where the fuck were you?” He whispered bitterly into his face, his anger rising like bile. You were supposed to be my guide. You helped me to restore my mind and then you just fucked off. You left me there in that shithole to rot! No sign of your fancy prancing celestial ass for months!

“I had informed you, I have many more wards to look after.” Varys said straight back to his face, but his demeanor betrayed his unease. “-And I do believe I had left you in good hands.” He tried to justify himself. “-with a re-awakened conscience in the form of Sansa Stark, to keep you on the right track.”

She wasn’t exactly helping. She was chastising me day and night. That woman doesn’t know when to stop. She tormented me.The Gods were tormenting me! And you- He pointed reproachfully at the Spider. You played me for a fool! You said I was on my way to absolution. You said, that the Gods were going to release me soon –

“I can assure you, I did not lie to you.”

You liar. No-one ever left the Red Keep! As for the Gods themselves, they couldn’t care less about me. They piss on my fate! They laughed in my face and told me that there was no chance in hell that they would ever let me go.

“That doesn’t sound right.” Varys muttered, looking puzzled. “My Lords would never show themselves after sentencing. They would only deal with the lost souls through me.”

So I am now even too low on the hierarchical ladder to be able to be directly spat at by your high and mighty lords? Is that what you’re telling me?

“Oh do please stop rambling and try to listen to reason for a moment! The Gods could not have visited you to condemn any further, it must have been your own imagination, -possibly a hallucination of your overactive mind.”

I know what I saw. Petyr replied stubbornly. It was real.

“My dear friend, I am aware that regaining a conscience as burdened as yours was never going to be a pleasant walk in the rose gardens…but maybe it had been a touch too much for you to bear.” Varys contemplated, carefully suggesting his suspicions to him. “Maybe...it has affected you far more then I had anticipated.”

No. Petyr understood perfectly well what Varys was trying to imply. He produced a broad grin and shook his head dismissively as he pointed at him again. In contrast to what everybody here seems to think, I am not mad.

“Listen to me –“

I am not going to listen to you anymore if all you have to say is such utter nonsense.

“Oh but you must.” Varys told him worriedly. “You must Petyr. Your thoughts at the moment are seriously flawed, and your judgement is all clouded by fear and rage…and indeed“ He admitted. “-possibly even a touch a madness.”

If I had followed your advice, I would still have been locked up, one step away from becoming a full lunatic. All docile and compliant and mindless. Petyr produced a box of matches from his pockets. With a trembling hand, he took one out. Not listening to you was the sanest advice I could have given myself.

Varys stared at it with growing alarm. “Please, do try to think rationally before you act. Remember. you did feel sorry for Cercei once. Could you not at least try to retrieve just a trace of that mercy in your heart?”

I was a witless idiot. Cercei Lannister has tormented me for years. She and her brother signed the commitment papers to ship me off to the asylum. She cheered and laughed when they took me away.

Determined, Petyr struck the match against the side of the box. The flame flared up with an angry hiss.

“Cercei has lost all of her children. Despite all of her flaws, you know she loved them more than anything in her life." Varys tried. "One of them was taking from her by you, I do recall.”

He held on to the burning match, staring silently at the yellow flickering flame.

“She also has been in purgatory as long as you have, and was separated from them all this time. It has driven her to the verge of madness.” Varys stepped closer, careful in his stride, as if he was trying to approach a man balancing on the edge of a cliff. “You do know how that feels, don't you? To be separated from the one you love? There is truly no need to play vengeful God to a miserable soul like that, don’t you think? She has been punished enough. She is just a poor lost soul, who deserves all of our mercy, just like you…”

Petyr sniffed loudly and stared back at Varys. The burning match was still held between two trembling fingers.

“My poor friend." Varys spoke to him gently. "My poor very confused friend…please don’t do this to yourself.” He begged him.

The flame had almost burned down entirely. Before it finally reached his thumb, Petyr took it in the palm of his hand and closed his fingers around it. He hardly noticed the bite of the flame on his skin.

Seeing this, the Spider let out a deep sigh.

“It’s no use.” Petyr whispered sadly, almost remorsefully. “It’s too late anyway.” He tossed the remains of the blackened match on the ground.

“Ah...I do believe, you are referring to that incident with Meryn Trant.”

Petyr looked at him sharply. So you know about it. A sad smile spread over his lips. Of course you do.

“My little birds are still everywhere.”

Why are you still showing your face? Am I not a lost cause to you now?

“No Petyr, you are not a lost cause. If you were, I don't think I could have convinced you to let Cercei go.”

Petyr gazed down, caught in his own thoughts. He ran his tongue over his chapped lips. What now? I am not going to stay here and wait. I am done waiting.

“I am very well aware of that.” Varys sighed sadly. “I truly regret that I cannot convince you to follow my advice. I am even more regretful that I can not stop you from following this destructive path that you have chosen for yourself.”

So that’s it then? I am no longer your responsibility? You’re washing your hands clean of me?

“No, no exactly. What I still can do is some measure of damage control to whatever harm your foolish actions is going to bring you, if you would still want an old friend to watch over you.” Varys seemed very sincere as he stared into his eyes and tried to read his response.

Petyr remained silent for while. He still didn’t trust Varys completely, but he was all he had. There was no one else who still cared if he lived or died. He had fully convinced himself by now that Sansa had abandoned him. He still loved her though. He still wanted to protect her, even if she no longer wanted anything to do with him. This desire to keep her safe and his thirst for vengeance was all that fueled him now, but to be left completely alone with no-one but the demons whispering inside his head for company,  frightened him. Petyr didn't want to admit it, but he was lonely. He needed a friend, even if, he so believed, it was all just pretence. 

Cursing, he kicked the garbage bags out of his way. “Next time –“ He told Varys, his voice trembling of frustration. “Don’t wait this bloody long before you care to show up again.” With that said, he walked away from him without looking back, his head hunched forward in deep thought.

There was something with what Varys had just told Petyr, that did not sit well with him at all.

 

3.

“Do you have some loose change miss? For charity’s sake?”

The red haired woman hardly slowed her pace, neither did she turn to look at the hooded tramp who stood at the corner of the street near her flat.

“I don’t do charity.” Melisandre replied, keeping her gaze down and holding up a hand to hide her face. She wanted to walk on, but the tramp stuck out his arm and blocked her way.

“Why does that not surprise me?” He chuckled.

She finally stopped and turned to look up at him. “Petyr?” Her eyes widened a little when she recognized the hooded figure. It was like she was confronted with someone who had returned from the dead. “Petyr Bealish? You’re back?”

Petyr took off his hoody. “You did not expect me here?” He noticed that the Red Priestess was hiding her astonishment and was quickly reverting to her usual demeanor of calculated calm. He also noticed that she had several bruises on her face and a black eye that was already on it’s way to fade into purple. Someone had been roughing her up. No wonder she kept her head down when she was out in the streets. 

“No, not really.” Her injured features stirred a little when she let her gaze rest on him, the muscles near the corners of her mouth quirking slightly. “Not from that place. I heard what happened to you. Tywin told me.” Something caught her eye and she came closer to examine him. “You look…different.”

“If different means that I was horrible tortured in a place close to hell after I was wrongfully imprisoned, then yes –“ Petyr grinned without any joy. “I do feel different. Let’s just say that I feel far less charitable and forgiving than before.”

“I see.” The Red Priestess muttered. There was a light burning in his eyes that she had not seen there before. When she looked more closely, she could see the blue grey of his irises briefly flicker into green. “You have woken up.” She took a hesitant step back. “Have the Gods of the Seven finally decided to give you back your sense of self?”

Petyr shook his head. “I regained it.” He said bitterly, so very sure that he was right. “Do not give those sadists all the praise for something I have rightfully earned after shedding so much of my own blood, sweat, and tears.” He noticed the look Melisandre was giving him, and forced himself to swallow down his anger. He needed her desperately, so best not to scare her away. “Let’s not dwell on trivialities.” He said, lowering his voice again and cracking a polite smile. “You probably are wondering why I sought you out.” He performed a mockery of a perfect bow to her, as if he was presenting himself to a highborn lady at court.

“Melisandre, Red priestess from Asshai of the land across the narrow sea, I have come to seek your aid.”

Melisandre’s eyes flashed with suspicion. “What do you want from me?”

“Not much. Only what you have promised.” He replied cheekily. “Does the name Sansa Stark still ring a bell with you?”

She blinked her eyes. “The girl who came from the land of the living to find you.”

“You promised her that you would help me to get out. Sansa told me that you were able to let condemned souls pass into her plane of existence.”

“I did tell her that I might be able to help you." She admitted hesitantly. "But that was two years ago.”

“Better late than never.” Petyr replied. “I can assure you, if anything, my desire to get out of this dreadful rehearsal of hell has only become so much greater than it once was.”

Petyr could see from the shocked expression on her face that she wasn’t particularly keen to come to his aid.

“I am sorry.” She said, and he saw from her more timid demeanor that she probably truly was. “I am sorry for what you have been through, but I cannot help you. My circumstances have changed. I have my own problems to deal with and am no longer in any position to help anyone. I am afraid you will have to find another way out.”

She wanted to walk on but Petyr held out his hand again to halt her.

“From what I have heard, you didn’t hesitate that much to help Roose Bolton cross over. Nor were you so very reluctant to help his demon spawn with his bitch girlfriend Myranda.”

There was resentment in her eyes when the she replied. “They threatened me - and they paid me.” She gave him a long look to take in his fragile, almost emaciated frame. “I don’t think you are capable to do either.”

“How truly vulgar is that?” Petyr chuckled, shaking his head mockingly. “Even in this fucked-up afterlife everything still revolves around money and violence. Luckily for me, I did not expect you to help me out of the sheer goodness of your heart. I do however, have 1 kilogram of synthetic cocaine with me, which I think, might interest you. It’s medical grade and highly addictive. Believe me, I should know. I have been so unfortunate to be forced to sample it for months. I was also assured by a friend that it’s worth a good deal on the black market, if you could find the right people to take it off your hands.”

That seemed to spark an interest with her. “How much?” Melisandre asked. It troubled Petyr a little that she didn’t appear more greedy, merely curious.

“Let’s just say, far more than the 6000 pounds that you have asked Ramsay Bolton to pay for his fare.” Petyr replied, remembering clearly what the diabolical little monster had told him when he had tried to kill Petyr with a lethal cocktail of psychoactive drugs and bullets.

“Show me that you have it.”

Petyr lifted his sweater and showed her the package that Ellaria had given him, tucked under his belt.

The Red Priestess gave him a brief nod. “Follow me.”

They made their way back to her flat. It seemed that the place had not much changed since the very last time he had been here. She still lived 3 floors down from where he used to rent his room at misses Tyrell’s apartment. Her apartment was still kept in the dark during most of the day, with heavy black curtains keeping out the light. In the living room, every possible surface was still occupied with candles, books, and badly done taxidermy creatures.

Last time I was here I was still a witless idiot. I brought Sansa here to see her. She sat right there on the couch, next to that ugly stuffed goat.

“I love what you have done with the locale. It’s so you.” He said sarcastically, grinning as he gazed at her furniture and the displayed items that would have fitted perfectly in the chaos of a mad witch’s cottage. He stared at the dark crimson stains on the snow white carpet. Blood stains, he now realized. He had visited the Red Priestess countless of times when he still lived in the neighborhood. He cursed under his breath. How stupid had those malicious Gods truly made him that he had been not be able to see it for what it was for so long.

If that is blood, it’s probably from some kind of sacrificial ceremony. Petyr could recall little of the practices of those who worshiped the Lord of Light. He never had much use for, and therefore very little interest in the matters of this obscure religion in the past. But he did remember that they practiced in blood magic.  

“I take the Boltons did not pay you enough to get it steam cleaned after you sent them off.” Petyr opted, eager to know if there was any relation between the blood stains and the way she had helped the Boltons.

Melisandre lit a candle. “Roose Bolton paid and threatened me. Ramsay only threatened me. It was not like I had any choice when father and son both pointed a knife at my throat.” She picked the candle up and used it to light the others, doing her round in the room.

“Didn’t your almighty God protect you?” Petyr scorned. He knew very well that dealing with a true fanatic like her, he should never mock her God, but he could not help himself. He truly had enough of these damning deities, who played with the lives of mortals so very carelessly, and had made him suffer so much. To hell with them and their twisted sense of morality. To hell with them all.    

Despite a quirk in the left corner of her mouth, Melisandre remained calm and composed. “My Lord does not do his work in that way.” She replied sternly. She walked over to Petyr, and held out her hand. “Hand me the package.” She demanded.

Petyr may not understand any of Melisandre’s motivations of why she dedicated her life so devotedly to serve a cruel deity, but he did understand common vulgar greed. “Not so fast." He grinned. "I need to divide the content first. You only get half. That should already be more than enough to cover the fare. The other half is for me to keep.”

“What Petyr?” The Red Priestess replied with a little smile. “Are you still addicted?

“It’s not for my own consumption.” Petyr replied, hiding his scorn. “I need something to help me line my pockets once I get to the other side. It was not my intention to live out the rest of my life as a homeless beggar. I need money to start anew.”

Her taunting smile widened. “What makes you think you could take anything along with you?”

“You’re telling me that I will pass over into the mortal world, without even a single thread on my body?” He said while he gave her a skeptical look.

“You shall emerge like a new born babe.” Milesandre smiled.

Petyr was troubled. He hadn’t anticipated this. If that was true, how was he supposed to carry out his plans? He had heavily relied on the money the drugs would have provided as a starting capital to get back on the first sport of the ladder. He had no illusions that he would be able to do anything about Ramsay if he had no means to do so, and Sansa, he wouldn’t be able to protect her in any way. No, the key to all what he wanted, was wealth, which on itself was only a stepping stone to power, a way to finally be able to control his own destiny. If he wanted to make sure that Sansa was safe and Ramsay Bolton would finally bleed for all his crimes, he needed to work himself up from the gutter again.

Are you sure you can do this again? Littlefinger said to him, sowing seeds of doubt into Petyr’s mind.

I have been destitute before. Even back in Westeros, I once started out with nothing.

Yes, but you did not have the dubious luxury of a conscience back then to hold you down, did you? Littlefinger reminded him. Neither did you suffer from these highly inconvenient complicated feelings you have for Sansa Stark. You will be weighted down and sunk by that dead horse you're trying to drag around.

“A joke.” Melisandre finally told him, snapping him out of his thoughts. “You may take whatever you please. It will travel with you from this world to the next." She walked over to the other side of the room. "I do, however, still need to ask for approval from the Lord of Light. You must understand that if he refuses, I won’t be able to help you.”

“Do you...need some time alone with him? You need me to go out of the room so you could fall on your knees and play with his candles?”

“No.” She smiled to show him that his mockery did not bother her, and produced a dagger from a wooden chest. The blade was needle thin, and glinted in the yellow flames of the candles around her.

“I need your blood.”

Without saying another word, she took Petyr’s hand and guided him to a fat red candle that burned in one of the darkest corner of the room. She gazed him in the blue grey of his eyes for a moment before she spread out his trembling, ruined fingers and guided the tip to his flesh. Petyr kept his gaze on Melisandre. His damaged nerve endings barely noticed that the steel had penetrated through his skin. He only looked down when his blood seeped through the cut and dripped on the flames, making it flicker and hiss.

Melisandre shut her eyes and started to whisper a string of words in an exotic ancient language. Petyr recognized it as High Valyrian. He had not heard anyone speak it ever since he left Bravoos to return to the Fingers, many centuries ago.

“Aeksiot Ono.” She said, her breath stirring the flame. “Rybagon aoha voktys iepagon se vejes hen bisa vala. Aeksiot Ono, nyke iepagon se vejes hen bisa vala.”*

*Lord of Light, I plead for the fate of this man. Lord of Light, I plead for this man.

The candle suddenly flared up, shooting hot red flames into the sky. Melisandre’s eyes widened as she gazed into the roaring fire, completely spellbound by the secret signs that were revealed to her.

“What do you see?” Petyr asked, staring with her into the flames.

“The past, the present, and the future. All combined into one.” She whispered, right before the flames shot up a second time with a violence not unlike burning magma spewing from an erupting volcano, reaching all the way to the ceiling. For a moment, Petyr thought he would still somehow get his way and see the whole tower block burn down with the hated Lannisters in it, but then the restless flames quieted down again as it changed colors, turning from an inferno of yellow and red into a strange ominous shade of green.

“Was that…supposed to happen?” He asked, brows furrowing and glaring at the tranquil green flame. He was just glad he didn't had his hair and eyebrows singed off.  

“No…This certainly is very rare.” Melisandre muttered, looking at the flickering green glow with a clearly stunned and anxious expression on her otherwise often impassive face. "It is also very strange."

“So? What does this all mean?” Petyr asked, struggling to make sense of it all.

“The Lord of Light grants his permission for me to help you. In fact, he orders me to aid you.” She added.

A cheeky smirk appeared on Petyr’s face. “Does that mean I can get a discount on your fare?”

Melisandre’s face lacked any amusement when she responded. “You have to understand, I don’t ask it for myself." She replied, dead serious. "In death as I was in life, I dedicate my whole existence to serve the Lord of Light. Unlike you, I have never chased after power or riches so very foolishly.” She added, with a knowing smirk.

Petyr quirked his mouth in dismay. Obviously the blood magic had revealed in the flames more to her about him than he had ever wanted her to see.

“If that is true, then what do you need the money for?” Petyr asked, feeling his resentment towards this woman grow.

If it wasn’t for you, Sansa wouldn’t have asked her father to transfer the money to her account. When Tywin Lannister shoved my forced commitment papers under Ned Stark’s nose, it was your 6000 pounds that he thought I had extorted from his daughter that motivated him to sign it to have me locked up. So you better give me a damn good reason why you wanted it.

But Melisandre was not revealing anything to him, not yet. “You shall see when it arrives.” She told him while she took out her mobile phone. “Now if you would excuse me. I need to make a phone call. With a bit of luck, you will be leaving tonight.”

 

4.

Petyr had suspected and predicted a multitude of different things. From sacrificial animals like a rooster or a goat, to Milesandre somehow getting her hands on another human being via some nebulous criminal network, so she could conduct whatever bloody and macabre ritual that was required to grant him passage. What he had never expected though, was that someone would simply show up and ring the doorbell to deliver whatever she needed right at her doorstep like someone would deliver a pizza.

“Could you please get that?” Milesandra asked. She was down on her knees, busy drawing what looked like a five-point star in a large circle on the carpet with drops of melted candle wax. She had build up a forest of candles around it and was acting very careful not to set the whole thing alight.

“Is that wise?” Petyr asked, cocking an eyebrow.

“I told him about you.” The Red Priestess answered, finishing the pentogram before she started to light all the candles. “He knows that you have the package. Hand it over to him, and you shall receive what we need in return.”

Petyr grabbed the plastic bag from the nearby table. It contained half of the synthetic cocaine that Ellaria had fabricated for him. The other half he had tucked safely under his belt. He turned the package around in his hand pensively as he walked out of the living room and opened the front door.

The man who had turned up at the flat was dressed in a yellow traffic coat and had a motorcycle helmet on, hiding his features. He carried a large white box with him.

“Are you Petyr Bealish?” He asked, his voice half muffled by his helmet.

“Yeah.” Petyr admitted, rather reluctantly.

The man looked down and pointed at the plastic bag containing the white powder that he held in his hands. “I believe you were going to give me that.”

Petyr handed over the cocaine. The man weighted the package in his hand. When he seemed satisfied, he opened his jacket and stuffed it under his shirt. Then he offered the white box to Petyr.

“Tell Melisandre that this is the very last time we're doing business with her. We’re not going to do this anymore with the coppers breathing down our neck.” With that said, the man turned around and left.

When Petyr shut the front door behind him, he didn’t notice that another man was standing nearby, watching him while he hid himself around the corner.

“What the heck is this?” He asked, sweeping aside some books to make place for the heavy box on Milesandra’s coffee table.

“Why don’t you take a look?” Millesandre replied while she continued with setting the forest of candles aflame. “After all, I have ordered it for you.”

“It’s not a decapitated head, is it?” Petyr half-joked, after he realized that it had just the right size to contain one. He had once received such a macabre gift from one of his associates. He had wanted someone removed, and his deadly crony had acted in accordance. Petyr had only expected to have the good news of the successful murder delivered to him by raven, not be sent a body part of his enemy in a salt box. That little mishap, the very sight of the black and blue head of the troublesome lord when he had accidentally opened the box, the eyes liquefied in their sockets, and skin bubbling with fat white maggots, was still giving him the occasional nightmares.

“Are you so very much afraid of dead things, lord Bealish?” The Red Priestess commented. “For a seasoned murderer, you certainly are very squeamish.” She said with taunting smile.

“I am not a mu–“ Petyr paused and realized that the troublesome woman was looking inside his head. No use in denying anything to someone who knew the truth. With his hands trembling slightly more than usual, he removed the lid. Inside was another smaller box that felt cold and damp to the touch. On the side was something written in red printed letters.

Human organ for transplant. Petyr read, and right below this. The Royal London Hospital.

When he opened it, he saw that there was a human heart sealed inside a square plastic box with tubes running in and out of it. It was resting on green plastic cooling elements.

“It’s a transplant heart from London Hospital.” Petyr gazed up at Milesandra, his brows furrowed. “What do you need it for?”

“We need a sacrifice. You are dead Petyr. If you want to pass over to the same plane of existence where Sansa Stark now dwells, you will have to come back to life.” She walked over to him, producing the needle like dagger from between the folds of her dress.

“Only life, can pay for another life.” She stabbed in the plastic and took the heart out. Gently cradling it like it was a precious babe, she carried it over the circle of candles and placed it right in the middle of the pentagram.

“But this is just piece of meat.” Petyr commented. “It’s just tissue. It might be still alive, but it’s not the same as a living breathing being.”

“I am not going to take away the life of this beating piece of muscle.”

“Then, how is this going to be enough?” He feared that it wasn’t. "I am not an expert on the matter, but the man or woman who has donated this has already died for sure. Whose life are you going to trade for that of mine?” Petyr mouth dropped open. How could he be so stupid to not see it immediately? “It’s not the life of the donor you’re taking, but the life of the person who was going to receive this.” Petyr concluded, feeling a deep sense of unease creep over his own heart. “The money was for paying the man who was in charge of transferring it to the other medical clinic. Whoever is waiting for this heart is going to wait forever, and will die before receiving another suitable transplant.”

"Does this bother you?” Miselandre asked, walking back to him.

“This heart comes from London, not King’s Landing. It was not heading to some poor condemned soul in purgatory. Someone in the real world is going to die, and all because of me.”

“As I said, only life can pay for another life.” She studied him closely. “Now you finally know what it takes to break free from here. It’s your decision. Do you want me to proceed?”

Petyr stared at the bloody organ on the floor. He had never seen the victim, and he knew they shall never meet. The tool of his crime came to him in a white sterile box, clean of guilt and any other distressing and complicating factors. There was no tearful face, or a pleading voice that could connect with him on any human level. in other words, it seemed almost free of any consequences. Petyr had to be honest with himself, even though he knew it was horribly wrong to sacrifice someone’s life for his, he had no will nor the strength in him to put a halt to this. For how could he ever turn back now? He was so close to freedom that he could almost taste it, like water on the tongue of a thirsty traveler who had been lost in the dessert. Yes it was indeed a heinous crime, but it was such a convenient one to him that it did not even seem to stir up his conscience...or so he believed.

If you cannot even stomach this, then you might as well return to the asylum and beg them to lock you up for the rest of your existence. Littlefinger told him. Go back and hide inside your padded cell, and leave the world and Sansa Stark to the bloody Boltons.

“I want to proceed.” He finally admitted. Milesandre acknowledged his decision and guided him to the center of the circle, where she indicated that he must sit down in the middle of the pentagram, close to the extracted heart.

“There are a number of rules that you must abide to for this process to be successful.” Milesandre explained.

“Tell me.” Petyr replied as he took hold of the dagger when she handed it over to him.

“Never interrupt me once the ritual has started.” She sat down opposite to him on the other side of the circle. Her heart shaped face flickered in the yellow glow with the rows of burning candles in between them. Her dress flared out around her, a red flower blossoming on the soft carpet.

“What happens if you are interrupted?”

“You don’t want to find out.” She told him sternly.

“Right.” Petyr muttered. “And rule number two?”

“The life you shall gain must be repaid.”

“I thought I am already doing that? Isn’t that what this human heart is for?”

“That will only pay for the fare of the crossover. Once you have arrived on the other side, you soon must take another life and send him here to purgatory so he can suffer in your place. Only then, your debt to the Lord of Light shall be fully repaid and you can stay.” She paused when she noticed him hesitating. “I once told Sansa Stark that a heavy price must be paid in return for restoring you. If you think the price is too much, you can still chose to not go through with this.”

“Does it matter whose life I take?” Petyr asked. Needless to say, he already had a few targets in mind.

“Who shall pay for the damnation of your soul is for you to decide.” She reassured him, and beckoned him. “Hold one of your hands above the flames.”

Petyr did as he was told.

“Lower.” She whispered. "Much lower - till it starts to scar your flesh."

Petyr held his left palm as low as he dared. The flame of the candle started to burn his skin and sent a frail trail of smoke with the sickly sweet scent of burnt meat into the air. Milesandre closed her eyes and started to whisper a string of words in High Valyrian. Although Petyr could sense very little with his damaged nerve endings, he was still very relieved when she finally signaled him with a brief nod that he could remove it from the flame.

He turned his hand and checked out the burn on his palm. It had was red and blistered, and strangely looked like a seal imprint with clear black lines. The symbol that she had drawn on the carpet was now etched into his skin.

“A token of your contract with my Lord." She explained. "As you can see, it’s black. Over time the symbol will slowly pale and turn into a red scar. When it has turned red completely, and you have not yet taken a life with your own hands to send it down to us as your replacement, the contract shall be nullified.”

“And then what? Shall I be forced to return here?”

Millesandre shook her head. “You will not be given another chance. Purgatory will be closed you, as are the gates of heaven. They will both be closed to you forever.”

“So…the only way left for me to go...will be hell?”

“Eternal damnation is what will await you…if you fail.”

“I won't.” Petyr stated firmly, trying hard to ignore his own doubts and worries. “I won't fail." He paused for a moment to compose himself. "Except for all this doom and gloom, what-else do I need to know?”

“The last one is not so much a rule, as it is a warning.” She gazed at him, the flames that were reflected in her eyes danced their infernal dance ominously. “Beware of your own nature, for darkness grows when it is no longer confined to the night.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Petyr asked, but Miselandre did no longer want to talk to him. Sensing that the right time had arrived to begin with the ritual, she raised her slender hands high up to the ceiling. “On my signal, pierce the heart with the dagger. Do not remove yourself from the circle.” She ordered, and shut her eyes and started chanting, concentrating hard on every word that passed her blood red lips.

*In high Valryan: *“I ask the Lord to shine his light, and lead his soul out of darkness. We beg the Lord to share his fire, and light this candle that has gone out.”

The flames around her flared up violently. Milesandre’s eyes flew open and she nodded to Petyr, who stuck the blade right into of the heart. To his astonishment, the detached organ started to beat again, like it was still sitting inside some-one’s chest and was connected to the bloodstream of the rest of the body.

*“From darkness, light.” Milesandra voice rose as she continued to chant in ancient Valyrian tongue. “From fire, ashes, from ashes, fire!”

Petyr watched with growing horror how the beating heart started to bleed out from the knife wound. Not just a little trickle of whatever remained in the chambers, but rivers of crimson, as if he had just stabbed the owner of the heart himself. It spurted out in a fierce fountain and spread all over the carpet, soaking it right through. Then came a loud threatening ruffle from behind him, as if the gates of hell itself had been brought here by the Red woman’s magic, and were now being rattled by an army of demons that she had summoned from below.

“What’s going on?” Petyr cried out, fearing that this wasn’t really a part of the ritual.

Milesandre's face showed that she too was stunned, but despite of this, she continued chanting, and shut her eyes again to block out the ominous noise that was now clearly coming from her own front door, focusing on her words. *“From fire and ashes, fire. From death, life.”

The front door to the Red Priestess’s apartment flew open and Petyr’s heart leaped into his throat when he saw a huge figure storming into the living room.

“What the fuck!?” Sandor Clegane cursed, his scarred face distorted with fear at the sight of so many burning candles. “What the hell is happening here?!” Then his eyes fixed on Petyr, and the terror in his eyes was immediately replaced with smoldering anger. “You little fucker! I knew it! I knew you weren’t dead!”

“No! No, no, no!” Petyr cried out, horrified when he saw the Hound stepping over the candles like a giant over the dwellings of dwarfs. He entered the circle and grabbed hold of him by his collar. “No Clegane! Don’t ruin this! Don't –“ Petyr's words were smothered when Clegane grabbed him by his throat.


“I saw you!” Clegane shouted into his face, ignoring how Petyr's face was fast turning red as he struggled for air, and shaking him like he was a ragged doll. “I saw you wandering out of the car park after I delivered you to the morgue! What the hell are you doing here with this mad fire woman? Is she a bloody witch?!”

Petyr still couldn't breathe, let alone answer him. He looked anxiously at Milesandra, fearing that Clegane might have interrupted the ritual after he had blundered in like a drunken bull in a china shop, but thankfully she was still chanting away.

“Fucking hell, everything is covered in blood!” Clegane said, disgusted and freaked out when he finally noticed the still beating heart lying on the floor, pumping out blood. “You are coming back with me, you hear me?” Petyr was close to losing consciousness when he noticed that Clegane was dragging him to the edge of the circle. “You’re going back to the asylum! You're going to be locked up for good! No more prancing around and making your little plans behind father Sparrow's back. I am going to keep you in that straight jacket till you fucking die in it!”

There were a lot of things that Petyr hated about the asylum, but the dreadful straight jacket was absolutely in the top list of the things that he hated and feared the most. Acting on instinct, and without thinking it through, he somehow managed to pull out the dagger from the donor heart, and with a swift movement and a flick of his wrist, he stabbed it right into Clegan’s left hand. The Hound howled like a wounded dog, and finally let go of him, just when the fires flared up again. Sparks flew around and landed on the circle of candle wax, setting the whole pentagram alight.

“What the fuck! What the fuck have you done!” Clegane roared. He wanted flee out the room, but he was mortified when he found out that he was surrounded by the flames. Petyr tried to scramble away from his warden, but there was hardly any room if he wanted stay inside the circle. He saw Clegane come charging at him, just when the Red Priestess called out, her voice loud and shrill, like the call of a wounded animal, when she finally reached the ritual's conclusion.

*“From fire ashes, from ashes fire, from darkness light, and from death - life!”

An hellish inferno erupted from the flames, burning so very bright that Petyr was completely blinded by it. Then he was sucked into a void together with Clegane, who had in his anger and fear, grabbed hold of his arm and was now tugging so violently that Petyr feared he might pull off his entire limb. Milesandre’s voice drifted away. For the shortest of moments, there was no sound, and he felt weightless, as if he was suspended in space. There was nothing, only this brightness. Then gravity suddenly restored itself and the noise of heavy traffic came rushing towards him. The ground, asphalt, black and wet, materialized around him as his world view started to spin with the force of a hurricane. Petyr’s heart stopped in pure terror when he saw the blinding headlights of a car coming for him. Then there was the noise of screeching tires and the dull smack of metal hitting vulnerable human flesh. Clegane let go of his arm. Petyr was propelled over the road, flying like a cannon ball shot straight out of the barrel, till he crashed into the railing. Lying on the side of the highway, he had blood slowly trickling in his eyes and a nasty pain throbbing in his side. when he blinked his eyes clear, he saw more cars breaking to a halt. People were getting out and rushed over to Clegane who lay in the middle of road, his scar marked face turned away from view. His leg was lying in an odd angle under the bumper of the car who had just hit them both.

When someone finally came over to check on Petyr, he had already drifted into unconsciousness.

 

Notes: That's it. Will be back next week on the 9th of February with part II of this chapter.

Thank you all for all the comments and kudos so far. They really helped me to keep this fic going! Hugs to you all who are still reading this every time I post and see you in a week time.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

5.

Human voices were buzzing around him, like the low hum of honey bees around a summer bloom. Slowly, Petyr opened his eyes.

“Are you alright?” A young woman in her mid twenties was crouched down beside him. “Can you hear me sir? Are you okay?”

“I-I think so.” Petyr winced and immediately had to gulp in a deep breath to deal with the throbbing pain in the left side of his lower chest. It seemed to become worse when he moved, or talked, or even breathed. “Where am I?” He asked, confused and rattled from not remembering much. Why was he lying on the side of a busy road with the traffic at a full stand-still with his back against the railing?

“Now don’t be alarmed.” The woman told him with a professional sort of calm of one who knew how to deal with these sort of things. “I am from the ambulance service. I am here to help.”

“Ambulance service?”

“You had an accident. A car hit you and your friend. The driver told us that you both suddenly appeared from out of nowhere. Seriously, what were you two doing out here on the M25? It’s bloody dangerous.”

“It hurts.” Petyr complained, too much in agony to pay attention to her peculiar questions. “My side, it hurts horribly.”

“I think you have broken a rib. Don’t be too worried. I don’t think it's anything too serious. Actually, you are very lucky. It seems that your friend over there has taken the bulk of the impact.”

Finally Petyr remembered. Of course, Melisandre. She had conducted the ritual to let him cross over to the land of the mortals. She must have been successful despite Clegane interrupting the ceremony, for both of them had materialized in the middle of some highway, where they were intercepted by the oncoming traffic.

Recalling that he had last seen Clegane lying on the ground, Petyr struggled up to find out what had happened to him.

“Hey, calm down! Don’t move too much now.” The young woman urged. “We haven’t checked if you have any internal bleeding yet.”

“How is he?” Petyr asked. He noticed that the Hound was surrounded by a dozen onlookers. Two ambulance brothers in yellow traffic jackets were carefully hoisting him up to a stretcher. He wasn’t moving, and appeared to be fully unconscious.

“He certainly has broken a lot more things than you did. Three ribs, and his right arm and wrist bone. There is also a knife wound in his hand. To be honest, they’re still busy counting all of his injuries.”

So the Hound was fully incapacitated. At least he wouldn’t be able to chase him around anymore, but Petyr didn’t exactly want him dead. “Is he – going to be alright?”  He asked. Despite being a completely clueless lumbering idiot, the orderly had been kind to him when he most needed it. Although this wasn’t exactly Petyr’s fault, he did not want his death on his conscience.

“With a bit of luck, hopefully, yes.” The woman reassured him. “We need to take him to the hospital first. See if there is anything else wrong with him.” She glanced at Petyr. “We are taking you to the hospital too. As soon as we have your friend stabilized, I’ll take you to the ambulance.”

Alarm bells went off inside Petyr’s head. He didn’t want to go anywhere near a hospital. He just broke out of one. He also didn’t think it would be smart for him to allow himself to be examined by the doctors while he still had half a kilogram of cocaine taped around his chest. He didn’t spend so much effort trying to escape from both the asylum and purgatory to end up in jail for possession of illegal drugs.

“I don’t need to go. I am fine, really.” To assure her, he tried to stand up, and was extra careful to not show anything on his face when the sharp throbbing pain in his side intensified.

“Nonsense.” She said strictly. You need to come with us. You are in absolute no condition to go home like this.” She had no idea how right she was actually. Then a little kinder, she asked; “What’s your name? Do you have an ID card or passport with you?”

“What ID? Why do you need that?” Despite her continuous discouragements, Petyr finally managed to get back on his feet. He honestly had no idea what she was talking about. He never had heard of a passport or an ID card before. Needless to say, he never needed one when he was in purgatory. Although his world shared many similarities with that of the mortals, some things were perhaps a bit too ridiculously complicated to be of any use to anyone in the afterlife.

“Your identification documents.” She said patiently. “So we can find you in the system and get information about your blood type in case you need surgery. It also helps u to notify your next of kin more quickly.”

“I- I don’t have anything like that.”

“I am sure you do.” She explained to him gently, assuming that he might still be in shock, or perhaps suffering of a concussion that she had missed. “Maybe you don’t carry it with you now?" She suggested. "That's okay. If you tell me your name and give me a telephone number of anyone you know, your family or a colleague, we can contact them, and they can bring it to the hospital for your registration.”

“I don’t…” He leaned against the railing and threw another anxious look at Clegane, who suddenly was cursing like a mad fishwife when the ambulance brothers moved his injured arm in a particularly painful way.

“FUCKING hell!” Clegane yelled out, his eyes flashed open with surprise and anger. “What the fuck is going on!? You fucking faggots! Don’t fucking touch me!” The huge man cried out in agony when the brothers accidentally moved his broken arm again, and wriggled madly on the stretcher, trying to get up despite being fully restrained.

“Robin?! Could you please give us a hand!?” One of the ambulance brothers called out to the young woman. There clearly was panic in his voice.

“I am coming!” She shouted back. “Wait here for me.” She said to Petyr. “Don’t worry, I will come back for you.”

“Robin! Quick, get 300cc of Librium ready! This gorilla bloke is going to rip through the restrains!”

Well…at least he is not going to die any time soon when he can still scream and curse like that. Petyr thought, feeling oddly relieved.

He watched her run off to aid the others. When she disappeared for a moment inside the ambulance to prepare the injection syringe, and Petyr saw that the ambulance brothers were still being kept busy by the Hound, he took his chance and made a run for it. Moving with all the grace of an injured deer, he clumsily climbed over the railing and found a steep grassy slope on the other side. Figuring that walking or climbing down were not valid options, unless he wanted them to hear him scream out in agony all the way down, he let himself slide through the muddy lawn on his backside. When he reached the bottom, he got on his feet again and stumbled into a forest border of young birch trees and thick undergrowth. It did not take long, before Petyr had disappeared completely out of sight.

 

6.

Petyr was standing in a street somewhere in London. The January sky was grim, and the weather cold and wet. The rain kept pouring down from the dark clouds without end. Petyr’s clothes, cheap and basically not much to begin with, provided him very little comfort, so completely sodden and heavy they were with rainwater and mud. Two days had already passed since he had first arrived in this confusing mortal world. Since then, he had found his way into the city center of London, and had been searching for anyone who seemed reliable, interested and capable enough to take the stash of cocaine from his hands. The situation had become increasingly desperate. Petyr had arrived here with not even a penny on him, and he urgently needed money for food, or shelter, or just to buy a cup of coffee somewhere to get out of the bloody rain.

He had his eyes set on a young man who always came to do business in the late afternoon in one of the dark alleys behind a busy shopping street that at night was teeming with hookers. Petyr found out that he sold cocaine and XTC, and was considered a reliable provider by the local clientele. He looked well dressed, healthy and well-fed, unlike many of his costumers, who obviously were tramps, or were just poor, and had very little means to buy anything more but a few milligrams at the time. In short, the young dealer seemed like he might be able to pay for what Petyr had to offer. So, Petyr had decided to wait for him to show up again to make first contact.

“Hey, are you here looking for Marc too?” A scruffy looking teenager with a dead look in his eyes shuffled over to him. No doubt, he was a young drug addict. He was as rain sodden and miserable looking as Petyr was. Like him, he had been standing here out in the cold and rain for hours now, waiting for the guy to show up.

“Yes.” Petyr replied cautiously. He just assumed that Marc was the name of the dealer. “Yes I am.” 

“Huh, that makes us both.” The boy snorted. He glanced up at the clock in the nearby church tower. It’s past 5 already. I don’t think that asshole is gonna show up. FUCK! I need a shot, I need it so fucking much!” He looked at Petyr, who noticed that his hands were slightly trembling. “Do you have anything?” The teenager came even closer, and his right hand disappeared inside the deep pocket of his coat. “I can pay you.” He reassured Petyr, although he was clearly lying. “Not now, but you know, I can pay later. I do this all the time with that bastard Marc. I can give you my word for it. As good as money that is.”

Petyr saw something glinting in the teenager’s hand, like a blade of a knife, or a piece of glass from a broken bottle, hidden behind his palm. Alarmed, he took a few steps back. He didn’t want to find out whatever that messed up kid had to offer. Getting stabbed wasn’t exactly high on his wish-list right now, not with his injury from the car-crash still causing him so much pain, and draining all the strength out of him.

“No, I have nothing.” He said, showing him his own trembling hands. He didn’t even need to make it look worse to convince him. “I am in desperate need of a fix too.” He stepped further away from him, carefully keeping an eye on whatever the kid tried to hide from view. He gave the youth a sheepish smile. “If he’s not coming, I am going to see if I can get lucky somewhere else.” He turned around, and fiercely hoped that he wouldn’t end up with a knife stuck in his spine as he forced himself to walk away as calmly as possibly.

“Yeah, fuck you too, you useless cunt!” The teenager yelled after Petyr, but except for hurling vulgarities, he didn’t do anything to stop him.

“Hey! Are you looking for a good time sir?” A woman in her late thirties with blond hair and harlot make-up, wearing a skirt too short for comfort in such unkind weather, glanced at Petyr as he walked down the busy street. It was getting dark fast, and the streetlamps had just switched on, casting reflections on the damp pavement. He passed a line of hookers who were standing in front of the liquor shop, all trying to attract customers. Petyr held his head down and ignored the blond’s call. He had not yet walked a few feet away from her, or the next streetwalker was yelling at him, trying to catch his attention.

“Don’t be shy.” A brunette laughed. Her voice was low and husk, her face all wrinkled up like old leather. “I can assure you that we certainly aren’t.” She laughed again, her red lips sucking on a cigarette.

“I am not interested.” Petyr muttered, and hurried along. With every step he took, the sharp agony in his side intensified.

“I am sure you are, you little pervert!” The brunette grinned. If he wasn’t a customer, at least he was an entertaining distraction from the cold and boredom.

“Oh don’t give us that innocent look honey. I have seen you stalking around. You’ve been walking up and down this street for days now.” The blond yelled after him. “If you are not looking for a fuck with any of us, FUCK OFF then, you faggot! Bum boys are that way in Soho!” She pointed out.

The other hookers laughed merrily in response. Petyr had enough of this. Almost running away from these harpies, he quickly turned the corner, and went into a narrow corridor. He was stunned really. Petyr had dealt with whores in his brothel business almost every day of his life when he was still Littlefinger. Of course, his old employees can sometimes prove to be feisty little creatures, particularly those who were imported from Essos, but these girls were complete off the scale. He had never seen women behave so aggressively and so obscenely to sell themselves to a man.

I could teach these foulmouthed shrews a thing or two about how to please their clients, and maybe they will have more luck with selling whatever is between their legs – probably a cock and a pair of hairy balls each. He thought sarcastically.

He was distracted from his misery when he heard a high-pitched shriek, piercing through the noise of nearby traffic.

“Please don’t cut me.” He heard a woman plead. She was dressed as seductively as the streetwalkers in the busy high street. Her face was hidden in the shadow. “Please don’t!”

“And why won’t I?” A bald man had her by her throat and held a pocket knife against her cheek. “You stupid lying bitch! I paid you for taking it up your arse! Now you want to just give me a lousy blowjob? If anything you deserve your face to be peeled off!”

“No! No not my face! Not there! I give you what you want, okay? I didn’t want to cheat on you, I swear. I just…I got scared.” Despite not being able to really see her, Petyr knew that she was crying, because he could hear her choke on her tears.

“What? Just because I wanted to push an empty beer bottle up your hole? What’s wrong with that?” The bald man grinned, and Petyr saw the blade glide across the woman’s cheek. It made her whimper. “I didn’t say I want to fuck you with my cock, did I?”

“No, no you didn’t. “ She hiccuped, trying to swallow her tears and to act brave. “So…If that really turns you on, I don’t mind now.”

“Go on then, get your skirt up.” he ordered.

He lifted the knife from her face. Her hands went down over the side of her miniskirt, and very slowly, very reluctantly, she pulled it up for him.

“Please.” She begged. “I will do anything you say…Just don’t – don’t be too rough.”

“That’s for me to decide, you stupid cunt.” The bald man picked up an empty beer bottle from the alleyway and spat on it to lube it up. “Remember it now for the next time. The customer always gets whatever he wants, because he fucking pays for it!”

He rubbed his spit all over the bottle neck and was about to pull down her panties when he was struck on the head. Another bottle smashed to pieces on his skull. Glass splintered and flew everywhere, with some of it embedding itself into the man’s face. He bled like a stuck pig and rolled his eyes back as he collapsed. As soon as he was down, Petyr kicked his knife out of his reach and hit him in the stomach and groin, making sure that he wouldn’t be able to get up.

He could feel his blood boil. “The customer only gets what he wants if he is not a complete and utter dickhead!” Petyr yelled down at the bald man. “You sick fucking sadist! You fucking psychopath!” Vicious and efficient, he let his blows rain down on him. He wasn’t punishing the man anymore who had attacked the streetwalker, but Ramsay Bolton, his mad diabolical grin still on his lips while Petyr’s knuckles quickly transformed his face in into a bloody pulp.

“Wait!” The woman shouted. “Stop! Please stop!”

Petyr could barely hear her. Too much consumed by rage, he was even about to strike her when she grabbed onto his arm. “No!” She yelped, and just in time, he held back his punch.

“I-I am sorry.” He muttered. She had come forward and stood within the reach of the streetlights. Petyr could finally see her face. He had thought that her voice sounded somewhat familiar.

“You have to stop now, please.” The red head begged him. “You don’t want to kill him, do you?”

Petyr blinked his eyes slowly at her, like a man who had just awakened from a nasty dream. Is this…Ros? He recalled the beautiful red head’s name who had come to work for him during his final days as a brothel keeper. Ros, the clever Northern whore. How can this be her? It was confusing and puzzling. Petyr was no longer in purgatory. He wasn’t supposed to bump into his old fellow Westerosi just like that. Then again, he remembered the tears the she had shed, just because she felt sorry for the dead child of another prostitute. The girl had a good heart, so maybe she really deserves to be here, just like the Starks. That she has turned up in front of me is just coincidence.

He looked down at the man at his feet. He was still alive, moaning loudly with his bloodied face buried in the garbage. Give him another minute or so to recover and he will be able to call for help. “We need to get out of here.” Petyr said, finally getting his mind back together. 

“I know the way.” Ros told him. “Follow me.”

Petyr walked closely behind her as she hurried down the back-alley, and turned into another, even narrower side street, before she took the fire escape entrance of a large red brick building. Stepping inside, they entered a narrow corridor with pink carpets and deep burgundy walls. The lights mounted in the low ceiling gave off a pinkish glow. There weren’t any doors, just curtain dividers made from beads and strings that provided very little privacy. Behind some of them, Petyr saw pretty young girls in different states of undress, busy entertaining their clients.

“In here.” She beckoned him to follow her inside a curtained cubicle that was unoccupied.

“I used to work here.” She said. “They always leave the back door open in case the girls want a cigarette during their breaks.” She pointed at the other side of the corridor. “There is a mean looking bloke called Victor standing at the entrance, working as a bouncer. He won’t ever let a pathetic fucker that like that messed up asshole get in here if he is looking for trouble. So we are safe.”

She plopped down on the blood red couch, emotionally drained and completely exhausted, before letting out a sigh. “Thank you.” She said, staring at Petyr with clear relief washing over her face. “Thank you for helping me to get rid of that bastard.”

Petyr didn’t sit down. He just kept staring at her.

“Don’t thank me.” He finally said, remembering how he had given her to Joffrey to be tortured, maimed and killed. It seemed horribly wrong and completely obscene that she would thank him, of all people.

“Oh my God! Your hands.” She cried out, and gently took his trembling hands into her own. They were completely covered in blood. “They look horrible. You poor thing! Did you cut yourself?”

“No, no, it’s not what you think.” He muttered. It really wasn’t. The blood on his knuckles all came from that bald bastard. The rest what Ros had mistaken for fresh wounds were old scars that all came from Ramsay’s tortures.

“You need to get this taken care of. Let me bring you to a -”

“No, no, definitely no hospitals.” Petyr hastened to tell her. “Please just - leave me.” He felt embarrassed and guilt-ridden that she was so worried about him. He, the man who had so ruthlessly exploited and murdered her.

Yes, but that was in another life, wasn’t it? Littlefinger cleverly commented. One that she doesn’t seem to remember much.

Shut up you. Petyr replied.

I am just saying, you could use some help right now, don’t you Petyr?

“Just, keep out of the way of that bloody idiot and the coppers. Keep yourself safe. You don’t have to worry about me.” Petyr told her, ignoring Littlefinger’s advice.

"How could I do that?" Ros replied, a little astonished. “You saved me. You’re hurt because of me. I am not going to abandon you like this." She stood up. "Come.” She nodded with her head in the direction of the door.

“Where are we going?”

“My flat is just around the corner. If you don’t want to go to the hospital, we can go back to my flat. I can ask Victor to keep an eye on us. If that bastard shows up again, he can help us deal with him.”

 

7.

Petyr was following her up a steep staircase leading to her flat when a door on the landing sudden opened. A shrunken old man with squinting eyes came out. “Ros!" He yelled. "Good to see you. Taking home a new customer I see. Does that mean you’re going to start paying the rent soon?”

“Soon enough mister Fendman.” Ross said to him, hurrying up the staircase to her floor. “You can be sure of it.” She added with a polite smile.

“You better be, or next month you can start looking for another flat.” Mister Fendman shouted after her. Petyr could hear his door slam shut behind him when they continued to climb.

“Greedy little bastard.” Ross muttered, opening her own door and letting Petyr inside. “It’s only 5 days due. It’s not like I have not paid in ages!”

Petyr entered a small living room. There were two tall windows, an old faded green two-seater, a coffee table covered in magazines, make up, and dirty plates, and against the wall on the left, there was a small cooker and a fridge, next to a plastic table with 2 chairs. Except for one other door that probably led to her bedroom, this was it.

“You live here alone?” Petyr asked.

“Yes, for now." She rushed over to the windows to shut the curtains. "My last flat-mate moved out 2 months ago. I am currently looking for another one. I know it is a dump and absolutely tiny, but it’s in central London, I really can’t afford this place on my own.” She disappeared inside the other room and came back with a red plastic bowl with clean water in it. She also carried a cloth, a roll of bandages, and a small bottle of Dettol.

Ros gestured that he should sit down on the couch. “Let me see your hands.” She said while she soaked and rinsed the cloth. 

“It’s not what you think.” Petyr said, while he watched how she gently wipe his hands clean from dried up blood. “See…it just washes of. Most if not all of it came from that bloke who attacked you.”

“I see.” Ros muttered. With the blood all gone, she finally realized that what she found looking so horribly shocking, were in fact old scars that had healed really badly.

“What happened to your poor hands?” She asked, hesitantly.

“I got into trouble.” He admitted, almost shyly.

She gasped when she noticed something else. “There is blood seeping through your clothes.”

Petyr looked down at his sweater. The injury in his side had hurt him all day and his clothes were still soaking wet, so he had hardly noticed that it had started bleeding again.

“I got hit by a car just a few days ago.” Petyr tried to pull up his sweater to check on the wound. He knew he was stabbed there by a piece of metal railing, and had tried to attend to it as best as he could. He winced when he tried to turn to get a better view.

“Are you sure you don’t want to see a doctor?”

“No please, no doctors.” Petyr fervently shook his head. “Not anyone who wants to see an ID or passport. Look, if this freaks you out I could just go.”

“No, stay! Stay! Let me get some more clean water and look at it for you.”

When she came back, she rolled up his sweater for him, careful not to cause him any more pain. What she found looked like a total mess.

“You’re kidding me.” She said, astonished and horrified in equal measures. “You were trying to keep this together with toilet paper?”

“There was nothing else I could get my hands on.” Petyr muttered, leaning back with his head against the soft, comfortable cushions. He remembered how he first tried to use old news papers, but soon had abandoned that idea after the ink soaked through and starting stinging the wound. He had to sneak into a public toilet near an underground station at Piccadilly to get these.

She removed the blood sodden tissues from the bruised skin, being very careful trying not to tear the wound open again. Then she washed it with a clean cloth dipped in a bit of Dettol for disinfection, before wrapping it up in clean bandages.

The smell of that stuff reminded Petyr of kind misses Tyrell, who used to keep the same bottle under her sink, in case he came home bleeding again after being beaten up. Although it stung horribly, he was grateful to Ros for patching him up.

“You’re lucky that you’re not dead yet.” She said with a little smile after she was finished.

Petyr hadn't had a proper rest for days and was completely exhausted. His hooded eyes were heavy with sleep when he looked at her. “Why are you so kind?” He finally asked.

“Well, isn’t it obvious? I am nice to you because you helped me.”

“You shouldn’t be. You shouldn’t be so nice.”

“Hush now.” Ros said, figuring he was just tired and didn’t know what he was saying. She brushed a damp lock of grey hair from his forehead. “Here.” She put two white tablets in his hand. “Take these and try to get some sleep.” She had taken two blankets from her bedroom and tucked Petyr in after she had helped him to lie down. “I will check on you tomorrow.”

“I don’t deserve this.” Petyr muttered, already half asleep, the pain mercifully receding as the tablets kicked in, but his guilt was still nagging him. “I don’t deserve you being so kind to me.”

“Hush.” Ros whispered. “Go to sleep.”

 TBC

 

Notes: Yes it's shorter than what I would normally write, but will post the next part coming this Saturday the 10th of Feb. Meanwhile, you can keep updated on any new posts via my Tumble account

 

Chapter Text

8.

Petyr woke with the afternoon sun shining brightly in his eyes.

“Ah!” Ros turned around from the cooker to beam a smile at him. “You’re awake. How are you feeling?”

“Much better, thanks.” He still had a slight headache, but except for that, he indeed felt fine. 

“Don’t get up too much. Your wound stopped bleeding. You don’t want it to bleed again, do you now?” Ros reminded him, while she kept stirring with a wooden spoon in a pan of baked beans. “Are you hungry? I’m making baked beans with eggs on toast.”

Before he could say no, his stomach already answered her with a loud growl. Petyr felt slightly embarrassed by it, but he had not eaten for days. His last meal was a runny porridge for his evening meal back in the asylum. The smell of eggs frying in butter and warm beans in tomato sauce and freshly toasted bread made his mouth salivate.

“It smells very nice.” He finally admitted, swallowing and feeling faint with hunger.

“So I assume it’s a yes.” After sliding a sunny side up egg on a plate of beans with a slice of buttered toast, she handed it over to Petyr, who immediately tucked in. Ros sat down with her own plate at the tiny plastic kitchen table and watched him wolf down the food with a content smile on her face. At least there was nothing wrong with his appetite.

“So, -“ Ros said with a curious glint in her eyes. “What’s your name then?”

He considered for a moment to make something up, but didn’t exactly know what good it would do to lie to her. It wasn’t like she remembered anything from before. “Petyr, my name is Petyr Bealish.” He mumbled between two mouthfuls of beans.

“Ros –“ The smile she gave him was kind and generous. “Ros Evergreen.”

“Evergreen.” Petyr let the information sink in while he licked the tomato sauce from his lips. “Is that really your surname?” He had never known the girl’s last name before. She must have had one when she still worked for him back in Westeros. Most of the small folk in the North did.

“Yes, anything wrong with it?” Ros asked, cocking an eyebrow at him as she took a bite from her toast.

“Nothing wrong. It’s a pretty name.” It’s just that I realized what an inconsiderate bastard I was to never have asked you anything about yourself, unless it benefited me.

“So Petyr –“ Ros leaned forward with her chin resting on her hand as she studied him. “Why do you have a bag of drugs taped around your waist?” She gave him a sheepish smile when she noticed him narrowing his eyes at her. “I saw it when I pulled your sweater up to check on the wound this morning. I wasn’t looking for anything, if that’s what you think. I just noticed it, that’s all.” Her explanation almost sounded like an apology. “Is that why your hands look like that?” She added hesitantly.

Petyr’s paranoia kicked in. He had always been excellent in guessing other people’s most darkest intentions, but he was exceptionally bad in being able to just accept general goodness in the motivations of others. To him, Ros here was obviously just trying to save her own hide.

“You don’t want me here any longer because of this?” Petyr raised up his ruined right hand. “Are you afraid that I will get you into trouble?” He wasn’t resenting her for it. He would probably have done the same if the situation was reversed.

But Ros’s response surprised him. “No, of course not. Why would I want to kick you back out in the street like this? I guess… I just wanted to know who you are.”

“Who do you think I am?”

She studied him again, her chin still resting on the palm of her hand. “Well, you obviously don’t want me to bring you to the hospital, because you don’t have any ID on you, and because of the drugs.” She hesitated for a moment. “Did you escape from prison or something?” She asked it with a little teasing smile, as if she was making a joke, but Petyr knew she meant it. He suddenly remembered how clever she was. A simple peasant girl from the Northern countryside, she had shown him a greater understanding in the nature of his most deprived clients and later, many of his ruthless opponents at court than most of the so-called players in the capital. Littlefinger had not finally made her into his confidante without a reason. The girl was simply too good to just play the whore in his brothels.

But that was back then, in Westeros. Here, in the mortal world, he needed to find a way to deal with her inconvenient cleverness.

“I don’t want to lie to you.” He lied bluntly. “I did escape from somewhere, but it wasn’t a prison. I was in some sort of treatment clinic. They had doctors there to help me with my...addiction.” He bowed his head shyly, pretending to be ashamed of his confession.

“My wife sent me there. I was locked up for 2 years.” He added, seamlessly blending the truth with lies.

“You’re a drug addict?” To his relief, there was very little on Ros’s face that told Petyr that she was repulsed or frightened by what he had said to her. If anything, she only seemed more curious and sympathetic. 

“I was. They treated me for it. It wasn’t very...nice.” Petyr shortly contemplated what kind of horrible understatement that was. “After a while, I was supposed to be clean. So I wanted to get out. Try to find my wife and go see her again. But the doctors wouldn’t let me. I still managed to escape and only came to London just a couple of days ago.”

“And the drugs?”

“Stole it from the hospital. I am no longer an addict, but I don’t have any money. They took everything away from me when they committed me, my bankcards, my passport. I wanted to sell the drugs to generate a little income so I could take care of myself, but so far no luck.”

“You’ve been sleeping rough, haven’t you?”

Petyr nodded. “I am very grateful that you took me in last night. That was the first decent sleep I had for days.” He said, smiling timidly.

“What kind of drugs is it?”

“It’s medical grade synthetic cocaine. Back in the clinic, it’s what they used to keep some of the more troublesome patients out of trouble. I have roughly 500 grams of that stuff.”

500 gram high grade cocaine?” Ros whistled in amazement. “That’s worth a small fortune if you could sell that in the streets.”

For a second time today, he was pleasantly surprised by Ross’s response. “Really?" Petyr repeated, trying to sound calm, and not too excited or greedy. "How much of a small fortune exactly?”

“Oh, let’s say about 100K? Maybe more?” She finally noticed the inquisitive look Petyr was giving her. “My ex was an addict too.” She explained. “He was a heavy user. Took everything he could get his hands on. I used to work in the streets and earn money for him so he could spend it all on drugs. I should have known better of course, but I was in love." She gazed down at her glossy fingernails." In the end, it killed him. I found him in the apartment one day, lying on that couch. He overdosed...choked on his own vomit.” She was telling this in a matter of fact voice, as if she had decided to not let it get to her any longer, but judging by her face, it clearly still did. Petyr wasn't surprised anymore that Ros was so sympathetic to his plight. “He used to pay 200 pounds for one gram of pure cocaine, but that was years ago.”

Petyr was stunned. Ellaria told him that it would probably yield 5 to 6 thousand pounds in King’s Landing. He had not expected to get much more for it here. If what Ros told him was true, he would be incredibly lucky for a change.

“So if you really have the high quality stuff, it easily fetches this price if you divide it and sell it directly to the users.” Ross concluded.

Petyr noted with amusement how streetwise she was. He thought this option through for a moment. “Could you find someone for me?” He finally decided. “A dealer, someone who might be able to take it off my hands in one go?” This seemed the wisest and safest thing to do. He still clearly remembered the youth he had encountered out there in the streets. Petyr was simply not the right type to be able to deal with those kind of idiots himself.

“I know a supplier who used to fix my ex up with the heavy stuff. He has a reputation of being very reliable. He’s also a very good customer of mine.” She added. “I know him as a true gentleman. A man of his word who won’t screw you in the back – figuratively speaking.” She added with a naughty smile. “He won’t pay you the street price for the whole lot though.”

“I understand.” Otherwise how could he take his cut? “Could you please contact him for me?” He asked, realizing that he was asking her for doing him another favor. “Tell him that I can sell him 500 grams for half of the street value. I would be truly grateful if you could help me with this.” He added, being fully sincere.

“I will call him.” Ros promised without even giving it a second thought. She noticed his half-finished plate. “But first things first, finish your breakfast. You look so awfully thin, it's not even fashionable anymore.”

 

9.

“Excuse me, are you Ros’s friend, mister…Bealish?”

Petyr gazed up from his tepid cup of coffee at the man standing near his table. Following Ros’s instructions, he had waited for her contact in the sandwich bar at the corner of her street. He had ordered a cup of coffee with the little money he had borrowed from her and had been sitting here for almost two hours now, just waiting for someone to turn up.

“Yes.” He smiled politely and got up to greet him. “You’re Ros’s other friend, mister Kartal?” The man who shook his hand had black greasy hair and an impressive handlebar mustache. He was dressed in an expensive looking black suit.

“Yes I am." He replied. For sure, he had now noticed the horrible state of Petyr's hands, but mister Kartal seemed too polite to make any comments about it. "May I join you?”

Petyr nodded and the man sat down. Petyr needed a moment, and shut his eyes to steady his vision. He was not feeling very well. While he waited, his headache had only grown worse, particularly after consuming the coffee. He also felt slightly feverish.

“So, our mutual friend told me you have something to sell that might interest me. She also said that you are ready to offer it to me for a very good price.” Mister Kartal waved at the man behind the counter, who acknowledged him with a small nod.

“That is correct.” Petyr replied, sitting down and noticing the expensive watch mister Kartal wore and the gold cufflinks in the buttonholes of his sleeves. It all reassured him that the man would indeed be able to pay the intended price.

“Did she also tell you that I usually don’t buy from anyone I know nothing about?” Mister Kartal said, when a coffee was brought to him together with a slice of baklava and a little saucer with 5 lumps of sugar on it, but no milk. He was obviously coming here more frequently.

“In your line of business, I had not expected otherwise.” Petyr replied, smiling and cracking up the charm. “You seem like a very successful man mister Kartal. You probably didn’t become so successful in what you do by trusting fools and charlatans.”

“That’s correct. So even if I like Ross very much, why then mister Bealish, would I do business with you?” He asked, while he loaded his coffee with the sugar cubes and stirred it in.

Petyr leaned forward and beckoned the other man to do the same. “I am currently holding a sachet with two grams of the product under the table.” He whispered. “Take it as a gift mister Kartal. As a token of our new friendship.”

Kartal took the sachet from his hands and stuffed it in one of the pockets that lined the inside of his suit.

“How do you suggest we proceed?” Mister Kartal asked, leaning back in his chair, and sipping from his coffee.

“I suggest you take it home with you for a few days. Do whatever you need to do with it to make up your mind about me. You may sample it yourself, or let your associates run a few tests. After that, we could meet again and do business, or you may decide you don’t want anything to do with me, and leave it at that.

Petyr paused for a moment to take in the other man’s response. He did not seem to be too dissatisfied with his offer.

“Is that an acceptable way for you to get more acquainted with a stranger, mister Kartal?”

“It sounds very reasonable mister Bealish. The price Ros has indicated is still what you have in mind?”

“Yes. But I would also like a passport. Ross told me that you could help me to get one.”

“That indeed can also be arranged. It will cost you 3000 pounds, but if this turns out to be what you say it is –“ He patted on his breast pocket where he had just put the sachet. “You will have no problem paying for it.” He smiled and stood up, straightening his suit. Petyr noticed he had not touched the baklava. If he had encountered mister Kartal yesterday he would have wolfed it down as soon as the man had disappeared out of his sight, but now he could barely look at it. His headache had grown much worse, and he felt hot and dizzy and sick in his stomach. The very thought of food completely nauseated him.

Still, he better not let any of that show right now. What was it that old Arryn used to say to him when things got rough? Never let the world see you tremble Petyr.

“Good to meet you mister Bealish.” The man said, shaking his hand, not noticing that anything was wrong with Petyr, except perhaps that his touch felt slightly warmer. “You will hear from me in a couple of days. I will notify Ros. I suggest we meet up again here in the café. My cousin Asil owns this place. He doesn’t mind me doing business here. Although… I did appreciate you keep the merchandise out of view of the other customers.” He was about to leave when he thought of something and went back to him. "By the way." He whispered into Petyr's ear while he laid his hand on his shoulder. "If this turns out to be complete shit, I will not hesitate to send someone to deal with you. I won't allow some idiot to sell bad cocaine to my costumers on my turf. It's bad for business, you understand?"

He gave Petyr a friendly pat on the shoulder. Petyr hid his nervousness perfectly well with a calm polite smile.

On his way out, Mister Kartal waved to the owner of the bar, and left without looking back at Petyr, who only dared to collapse back into his chair by the time the dealer had disappeared around the corner.

 

10.

By the time Petyr got back to Ros’s flat, he was already burning up with a rampant fever. The apartment she rented was on the fourth floor. He managed to take the 2 flight of stairs to the third floor, but was literally crawling up the final couple of steps, before he collapsed face down on the landing. It must have made a good racket, because the door to the nearby flat opened to a crack and the man who had greeted Ross yesterday was peering out.

“Hey you!" He barked. "Get up! Who are you?!”

Petyr gazed up at him. His vision had by now become so blurred that he could hardly make out the old man’s features.

“You’re that john Ross brought to my flat last night." The old man croaked.

“I don’t - I don't feel so well.” Petyr muttered feverishly, deliriously. Weak as a kitten, he could barely keep his eyes in focus.

“What are you still doing here? Ros is out working.”

Petyr couldn’t answer him. He retched and vomited up his breakfast all over the welcome mat of the down stair's neighbor.

“Bloody hell!” The old man yelled out. Disgusted, he stared at the mess of half digested eggs and beans dumped right at his doorstep. It finally seemed to make him take note of the horrible state Petyr was in. Not that it made him anymore sympathetic though.

“Hey, don’t sleep on the landing! Are you drunk or something? I told you she is out. You can’t stay here to wait for her. Not if you’re sick! Get out! This is private property!”

Petyr shut his eyes, and for the second time in the last three days, he lost consciousness.

 


 

“Petyr, Petyr? Can you hear me?” He heard Ros say.

He slowly peeled his eyes open and gazed up to the ceiling. “W-where am I?”

“You’re in my bedroom.” Ros was smiling down at him. He was lying in her bed, his back and head propped up by a mountain of cushions. She had buried him under layers of blankets and duvets and he was sweating like a roast in the oven.

“Thank God you are awake.” Ros was clearly worried about him. “You collapsed on the landing. My landlord called me and I found you outside. You’re burning up with fever.”

“Who is this?” Petyr asked, blinking his eyes when he noticed the stranger standing next to her by his bedside. A man somewhere in his late thirties, with dark olive skin and large expressive eyes. He looked well dressed and well groomed, and carried a leather doctor’s bag in his hand.

“I am doctor Rajan, a friend of Ros.” His friendly face was beaming a smile at him. “She asked me to come take a good look at you.”

“I do-don’t want this. I-I don’t want any doctors to examine me.” Petyr struggled to say, remembering that he still had the package of cocaine on him. "I don’t want to go to a hospital.” He rambled.

“Hush now. You don’t have to be so worried.” Ros reassured him. “He’s not a real doctor. He’s just a vet.” Ros gave the other man an apologetic look. “Sorry Rajan.”

“Oh that’s quite alright.” He chuckled. “Normally, I do indeed treat animals and not human patients. You must believe me though Petyr, that I am more than capable to help you. Perhaps even more so than those poor overworked bastards slaving away for the national health service.” He pulled up his sleeves. “Now, tell me when this hurts.” He said him, still wearing a friendly smile, before he pushed hard around the wound.

Petyr screamed out, and almost fainted. “It hurts! It all bloody hurts! Stop it! Please!”

“Ah yes.” The good doctor grinned, fully ignoring the nasty look his patient was giving him. “Just what I thought, a cracked rib bone.”

“He was in a car accident just a couple of days ago.” Ros hurried to explain. “Is it serious you think?”

“Not really. It’s very painful, obviously, but the two pieces are still in the right place. They should be able to mend without any surgical interference. It’s certainly not poking into his lungs or any other vital organ...or otherwise, well, he would have been dead by now, wouldn’t you, Petyr?” Doctor Rajan laughed.

“Thank you. That’s very comforting.” Petyr muttered sarcastically, still feeling the reawakened sharp pain biting in his side. “And it’s mister Bealish.” He added, with venom in his voice. “I don’t know you so very well, do I?”

“Ehum, ehm, yes.” Rajan’s smile disappeared from his face for a moment. “Just keep him in bed for the coming two weeks.” Rajan told Ros. “Don’t strain the injury, give him plenty of rest, and the fissure in the lower rib bone should heal itself.”

“What about his fever? Why did he suddenly lose consciousness?”

“Well, if mister Bealish here has been up, out and about with a cracked rib, it could easily be that some of the bone marrow has leaked out into his chest cavity. His immune system has reacted to it, hence the fever. I will give him something to reduce the inflammation. It’s meant for treating dogs, but I can easily ramp up the dose a little to make it work for him.” He said to Ros. “Do you hear me mister Bealish? No more of this silly running around business for you, unless you want to get worse.” Doctor Rajan told Petyr with a broad smile.

“You are a real jolly fellow, aren’t you?” Petyr replied, hardly hiding his scorn.

“Laughter is the best remedy for misery." The doctor replied. "That’s what my dear mother used to say. She was always right of course.”

“Thank you Rajan.” Ros said, ignoring how rude Petyr was. “You’re an absolute angel.”

“No problem. I see you on our usual date night next Friday evening, yes?” Doctor Rajan proposed as Ross walked him out. “I’ll treat you to your favorite Indian Restaurant in Fleet street.”

“Oh I’d love that.” She kissed him on his cheek while they both stood on the landing. “You’re always so incredibly good to me.”

“I will prescribe some painkillers for him as well, and maybe some tranquilizers? Just in case he gives you trouble.”

“Tranquilizers? Oh no, that’s absolutely not necessary.” Ros laughed. “Petyr is as sweet as lamb. He won’t don anything to anyone. He’s just a bit grumpy, that’s all.”

“I am just worried about you.” Rajan said, peering into the flat in the direction of Ros’s bedroom with a sudden anxious look on his face. “At least try to cheer mister grumpy up a little.” He whispered, as if he was afraid that Petyr might be able to hear him. "I swear, that man has a look in his eyes like the devil. He looks like he is at war with the entire world." He gazed back at Ros with a look of completely honesty and concern. "Just watch out with him, will you?”

 

11.

In the days that followed, Petyr stayed in bed, lingering on the edge of wakefulness and unconsciousness while doctor Rajan’s medication both got rid of his fever and kept him in a drowsy and tired state, leaving him unable to sense much of what was going on in the world around him. It was only on the 5th day after he had collapsed on mister Fendman’s landing, that he woke with some resemblance of a clear mind. 

Wake up you idiot! He heard Littlefinger yell at him. Wake up!

“What? Why? What’s the matter?” He muttered. Ros had left early for work and he had already finished the bottle of mineral water she had left behind for him. His tongue felt dry, and his throat was parched. Petyr wanted to get up and go to the bathroom to try get himself a drink, but his darker inner voice sounded too much in a state of complete panic to be ignored.

You lost your package!

“What?”

The cocaine. You no longer have it with you. She or that charlatan doctor must have taken it away while you were sleeping.

Petyr shot straight up in bed and started searching frantically for the package of cocaine. It was no longer there.

You messed up again Petyr. You let that lying Northern bitch rob you blind. You have lost the only asset that you had. How are you going to climb back out of the gutter now without that drugs money to help you?

“No, no no no." He muttered, stubbornly shaking his head. "Not Ros. Not her. She is not like the others in King's Landing. She doesn’t even realize who I am. She has no reason to fuck me over. Why would she do this?”

Why? Because she is an unreliable backstabbing whore, that’s why! Don’t you remember anymore how she had betrayed us the first time around? You trusted her, offered her a way out of prostitution and took her under your wings, and she repaid you by selling our secrets to the Spider! You were so mad when you found out. You punished her for it.

“I handed her over to Joffrey. He-he murdered her. I-I murdered her.”

Oh Yes, he used her for target practicing to improve his lousy archer skills. So you had her killed. So what?! It was what that bitch deserved! Now I would suggest you hurry up and do the same thing again. You can’t let her get away this.

Petyr struggled out of bed and fell to the floor. “She can’t have done this." He told Littlefinger, but his stomach tightened into a cold nervous knot as he crawled to the closet. "Ros is not the kind of person who would do this to anyone.” He was going through the piles of clothes in her wardrobe. When he still couldn't find anything, he searched madly in and under the bed. The package was nowhere to be found. It really was gone. Utterly devastated, Petyr sat down on the floor with his back against the bed. “How could she do this to me!” He lamented, and felt like he was bleeding out after being stabbed in the gut for no good reason.

"I trusted her." He whispered.

Yes, like how you trusted Cat, or Lysa, or Sansa Stark, or any woman who you encountered who you thought could see right into your soul and could accept you for who you are…they all betrayed you. Are you not sensing a theme here Petyr? You’re a sucker who constantly makes himself vulnerable to women who like to sink their teeth and claws into you. It’s time you deal with Ros like you have dealt with Lysa. Get a knife from the kitchen and make her tell you where she has taken the drugs, after that, get rid of that double faced traitor. One less hooker in the streets won’t matter that much to anyone. I promise I will help you to get rid of the body. Littlefinger added with a smirk. -if you are still too squeamish to deal with it yourself.

Petyr stared ahead of him with a hopeless expression on his face...then his eyes caught sight of a plastic shopping bag, tucked away in the narrow space between the wall and Ros’s wardrobe. He crawled over to it and took it out. There was a small yellow post-it note taped on the plastic. It only said: For Petyr. With a smiley face drawn on to it. With shaking hands, he opened the bag and looked inside. There were stacks of banknotes in there, all of them 50 pound notes. The stacks were were neatly held together with rubberbands.

“It’s in here.” Petyr whispered, feeling a deep sense of relief wash over him. “The money is right here. She brought the cocaine to mister Kartal and sealed the deal for me. She didn’t betray me. She helped me.”

Are you sure? Littlefinger opted, still sounding skeptical. Maybe she took a large share for herself?

“No, it’s all here.” Petyr concluded after he had counted the entire content of the bag. “The whole 50K. Ros didn’t take anything. She didn’t steal a single penny from me -" He paused and swallowed hard. "- and then to think that I could have listened to you." Petyr said with much disgust and loathing. "I could have seriously hurt her, or worse!”

You should not be angry with me for being too careful. Littlefinger said, trying to calm down his resentment and rage. It was just trying to prevent you from making a horrible mistake. A pause, then he noticed that Petyr wasn’t really so much angry, as he was upset with himself. You’re not... getting all sentimental now, are you? Littlefinger commented with a touch of badly hidden distaste.

“Shut up Littlefinger.” Petyr said softly, wiping the snot and tears from his face. I have almost killed her. Ros Evergreen, who pitied me and was so kind to take me in, who helped me selflessly and who sat at my bedside when I was ill. The smart Northern girl who cried because she couldn't bear that the Gold-cloaks had murdered the bastard child of another whore. I thought of slicing her up into bloody pieces and dumping her in the back alley where I had found her to feed to the stray mutts. Truly, what kind of horrible monster am I?

“I really don’t want to hear anything coming from you anymore.” He finally said, slowly getting up from the floor.

 

Notes: That's it. Next post is next Saturday the 17th, till then or in case I post a little earlier or later, you can follow me on my Tumblr for any post updates.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Notes: Music tracks

Bonfire heart

For parts 12-16 (Ross POV)

Hymn for the weekend

For parts 12-16 (Petyr's POV)

 

12.

“Ros look!” The blond hooker gave her friend a poke with her elbow, and pointed across the street at the rugged looking man in a grey sweater who was walking towards them. “That’s that moody creep who was hanging around here constantly a few days ago.”

Ros glanced up. “That’s not a creep.” She replied, recognizing him immediately. “That’s Petyr.”

“Petyr? Is that the guy you told us about?" She cocked her painted eyebrow. "Seriously, that bloke over there?" She asked, astonished, taking in his wiry frame. "He is the one who saved you from that nasty psychopath last Tuesday?”

“Yes, yes. That’s him.” Ros said, impatient to get rid of her, and rushed across the street to meet with Petyr. “What are you doing here?” She asked, furrowing her brows worriedly. “You should stay in bed. Didn’t you hear what dr. Rajan said?”

“I know what he said.” Petyr replied, smiling sheepishly at her. “I wanted to see you.”

“You can see me later tonight. I have just started working. Go back to the apartment and take some rest, will you?”

A playful smirk appeared on Petyr’s lips. “How much?” 

“What do you mean?”

“How much do you need to earn for you to decide to take the rest of the night off?”

“50…100 quid maybe, for a good night.” Ros muttered, shaking her head and thinking that he must be rambling because of his fever. “Why?”

“Here.” Petyr took four 50 pounds notes from his pocket and placed it in her hand. “Take this. Stop working. Spend the rest of the evening with me.”

Ros looked at the money before gazing back up at him most worriedly.

“Petyr sweetie." She said in a kind, gentle voice. "Are you feeling alright? Let me see.” She was about to put her hand on his forehead to check his temperature but he intercepted her and lowered her hand down again.

“I don’t have a fever anymore. I am absolutely fine. You can stop worrying about me.” He wasn’t lying. He actually did feel much better now. The short walk from her apartment outside in the cool winter air had done him good.

“You don’t have to worry about the rent anymore either.” He told her. “I went downstairs to apologize to mister Fendman. It didn't seem to appease him much, but when I handed him your rent, he was a bit more pleased." Petyr grinned. "He really was very pleased when I also paid him for the coming two months. He promised me he won’t bother you anymore.”

Ros was stunned for a moment. “That’s very sweet of you.” She said, realizing that he wasn’t acting strange at all, but just wanted to thank her. Suddenly feeling shy, she looked down before gazing away. “I don’t know what to say really.” She finally admitted, a bit overwhelmed.

“Just say, that you will spend the rest of the evening with me.” Petyr said, smiling back at her.

Ros thought it through for a moment. “Alright.” Finally giving in, she returned to him a warm radiant smile. “What do you have in mind?”

 




“Really Petyr, not all of these. This is far too much.” Ros objected weakly as she emerged from the cabin with a sigh. In the last hour, she had tried on 6 different dresses, each one more graceful and beautiful then the other. They all looked gorgeous on her, and she adored every one of them, but they were stupendously expensive. Petyr didn’t seem to have a problem with that. He helpfully took every item that she had tried on from her hand before he made his way to the counter.  

“You’re sure you don’t want this shawl?” He walked backwards to face her and held it up to her to reconsider. “It really suited you.”

“Yes I am sure. I have a wardrobe at home that is already bursting with clothes.” Ros replied, already feeling incredibly guilty for allowing him to buy all this stuff for her. “Truly, it’s lovely, but I wouldn’t know when to wear it.”

But Petyr would have none of it. “This one too please.” He told the woman behind the cash register, after he had quickly folded the rest of the clothes on the counter. “Could you remove the tag on this one please?” He pointed at the shawl.  "It's cold tonight. She would like to wear it immediately.”

The woman behind the cash register gave him a long sour look, but eventually did what he asked. She finally lightened up a little when Petyr took out the banknotes to pay in cash for the purchases.

Ros was shocked when she saw the final amount on the receipt. “Excuse me, when is the shop open again tomorrow?” She asked the shop assistant. “In case something doesn’t work out and I need to bring it back.” She hastily added, ignoring the increasingly sour look the other woman was giving her. She was about to fold up the receipt and carefully put it in her purse, when Petyr snatched it away and shredded it.

“No returns without receipt.” The woman behind the counter stated with much chagrin.
 
“Why did you do that?” Ros told Petyr when they made their way out of the shop.

“I said you could pick out anything you liked, didn't I? You seem to like everything you tried on, so why keep the receipt?" Petyr replied, looking back at her with an innocent, almost angelic grin on his face. "Compared to all what you did for me, this is nothing."

He stopped and took a strand of Ros’s deep red hair in his trembling hand. She was surprised by this sudden intimacy, but did not object. It suddenly struck him that the color of her hair was so very similar to that of Sansa. If Petyr didn’t look up at Ross's face, he could almost imagine that it was her, standing right before him. He remembered stroking her locks in the Sky garden, his fingers numb with cold, but still sensitive enough to feel the softness of her hair. The memory of her made his heart bleed. “Besides –“ He said, and finally let go of the red strands while reminding himself that it was Ross who was here with him now, and not Sansa. “When I said the shawl suited you, I meant it. The grey of that rabbit fur really makes the red in your hair shine.”

In his mind’s eye, he saw Sansa’s hair light up in the cold winter sun at it rested on the grey wolf’s fur draped around her shoulders.   

“Yes, but that was a small fortune what you have just spent in there.” Ros still objected as they walked out into the busy shopping street.

“I have enough money for now. Thanks to you.” Petyr shrugged, he offered to carry the shopping bags for her. “I wanted to repay you for your kindness. In my humble opinion, there is really not enough of that going on in the world. I try to remedy that a little.” He added with a little smile. He didn't like to mention to her that he was also doing this because he still felt really guilty for what he had done in the past. No matter how much money he spent, it never seemed to be enough to pay her back for her murder.

“How about you? Don’t you want to buy anything for yourself?”

Petyr furrowed his brows at her. “Like what?” 

“Like some new clothes? You’ve been wearing these ever since I met you. Honestly, if you want to keep this sweater I would love to give it good wash, because…well, it smells a little and it's kinda dirty.” She finally admitted, and immediately felt dreadful that she had pointed it out. Petyr had been so awfully nice to her. She really didn’t want to embarrass him or anything.

He immediately stopped walking again and gave her a curious look. “Does it really?” He asked, a little astonished. Of course it does.  He heard Littlefinger say. You’ve been practically living in this piece of stinking rag ever since you arrived here. No wonder that that woman in the shop was giving you foul looks. You smell and look like a tramp.  

Petyr pulled up his sleeve and gave it a good sniff. It really did smell quite ripe. And here he was, thinking that he had acted like the perfect gentleman to Ros. “I guess...it does smell rather awful.” He admitted timidly, feeling his cheeks flush red.  

“It’s not so bad.” Ros hastened to say. “Sorry, I really didn’t want mention it but…you do look a bit down-trodden wearing this.” God, she felt completely horrible when she noticed how he suddenly seemed to lose all of his confidence and poise. “You know what, let me take you shopping.” She suggested, trying to cheer him up. “We can go pick out some new outfits for you together.”

“Can we just go back to your flat?” Petyr said moodily, feeling so embarrassed now that he would rather go hide somewhere out of view of the general public.

“Come on.” Ros said, trying to buck him up. “We still have hours left before the shops close. It will be fun! I promise we won’t go back to that sour looking bitch in that shop we just visited.” She was relieved when she saw him smiling a little at her again. “You will probably need a shave and a haircut too.” She added, taking his rugged beard and mad grey nest of hair in mind. She definitely didn’t want to point this out to him now, but he looked like a crazy university professor who had fallen on hard times. “It’s better to get this done before you have your passport photo made.”

Her casual remark seemed to confuse Petyr. “Passport photo?”

“Kartal asked me to tell you to contact him when you are better. He can get the document ready within 4 days, but you need to provide him with a recent headshot of yourself. Seriously, I think you need a good makeover to look anywhere near presentable for one of those.” She said, smiling sheepishly.

 

13.

“And how would you like your hair sir?” The young hairdresser asked, staring at Petyr in the mirror with his scissors ready in his hand.

Ros had dragged him inside a busy barber-shop after she had managed to convince him that they wouldn't mind that he looked like a tramp. Petyr was still a tad nervous, but had to suppress a smile when he caught the red head in the mirror, quietly keeping an eye on him from behind her magazine.

“Ehm…I guess I would like it a little shorter?” He didn’t know what to ask really. When he was still Littlefinger, he frequently let one of his servants groom him to keep himself presentable at court. However, for the last 500 years or so, he had completely neglected his appearance, which wasn't that strange, considering he wasn’t exactly himself and...well....had been more or less trapped in hell. The last haircut that he had received was a rush job to get rid of his dog lice, done by an orderly in the asylum. He had been bound to a chair bolted to the floor while the inconsiderate brute nipped off bits of his skin and had cut off almost everything except for his eyebrows.

Although he had been quite mad at that time, this, however, seemed to be a far more confusing experience to him.

“Excellent!" The hairdresser beamed a smile at him. "How short sir? And would you like a color-wash to cover the grey? Or would you like me to put a highlight in? We have a very good product that will give your hair a gorgeous silver shine.”

This was just hopeless. Petyr gave up and glanced in the mirror at Ros, begging her for help.

“How about you cut it till about…here?” Ros said, indicating the intended length with her fingers while she gave Petyr a reassuring wink. “And a color-wash please, to get rid of all the grey.“ She then bowed down to study Petyr’s face at eyelevel.

“And the beard?” The hairdresser asked.

“Oh, get rid of that too please.” Ros answered, fully convinced. She glanced straight into Petyr's eyes. strange how she had not noticed before how truly lovely they were. Kind and loving and...a bit sad. “Get rid of all the facial hair." She told the hairdresser. "Go ahead and shave it all off.”

“Well…everything…except for the mustache.” Petyr suggested, almost shyly.

“What?” Ros knitted up her eyebrows. “No.” She shook her head, laughing giddily. “No no! Absolutely not! No way are you going to keep that thing!”

“What’s wrong with it? I think it rather suits me.”

“No Petyr, trust me. I really doesn’t.” Ros picked up a short comb from the dressing table and held it below his nose to give him an idea of how it would look without the rest of his rampant facial hair. “You see? It would make you look like a total creep.” She concluded. She needed a moment to catch her breath again from laughing, before she turned back to the hairdresser. “Make it as smooth as a baby’s bottom please, and definitely – definitely - don’t leave that horrid thing on his face.”

Utterly confused and much intimidated by her strange response, Petyr just sighed and wisely kept his mouth shut. If any of this was supposed to help boost his confidence, it was failing rather horribly.

 


 

“Are you sure this is really fashionable? It doesn't make me look like a completely idiot?” Petyr asked Ros. They were sitting inside one of those high street cafés that served hot sugary drinks for the price of a decent lunch in mister Qyborn’s greasy spoon café. He had changed into one of the new outfits that Ross had chosen for him back in the shop, and felt every bit the fool for wearing it.

“Of course not. Why would you even think that?” Ros said, sipping from her latte.

“People are staring at me in the streets. Normally they would just ignore me.” Petyr said worriedly.

“People? You mean women?”

“Yes I suppose. Maybe I should have stuck with the mustache.” Petyr opted, thoroughly puzzled.

“Petyr.” Ros smiled. “Has it crossed your mind that these ladies are looking at you, because they think you’re hot?”

A long pause followed in which he just glared at her like she had completely lost her mind. “You’re kidding me.” Petyr blurted out in utter disbelief.

“No, I am serious. You look very handsome in this suit.” She was right, he was wearing a dark blue jacket and light blue shirt that fitted his slender frame perfectly and made him look extremely attractive, every bit the gentleman. “And that hair cut.” She stroked a dark curly lock from his forehead. “It makes you look so much younger. You’re right about keeping the grey streaks around your temples though. Gives it just a touch of old fashioned sophistication." She let out a dreamy sigh and smiled. "It really suits you. It brings out the color of your eyes.” She added in a soft voice, patting his arm.

Petyr saw two teenage girls passing by the window with their chaperon, who was probably their mother. They were looking at him, and immediately turned around giggling when they found out that he had noticed them.

“So you think these 2 girls find me attractive?” He asked, pointing them out to Ros with an incredulous grin, while shaking his head in disbelief.

“Yeah. They definitely do, and to look at the way their mother is behaving, she seems to think the same thing about you too.”

“That can’t be right.” Petyr said with a widening smile as he watched the older woman secretly glance over her shoulder. “Do you find me attractive?” He asked, joking as he knitted his brows together.

Ros actually wanted to say yes, but then she remembered. Petyr had mentioned to her that he had a wife.

“Nah, you’re not really my type.” It wasn’t a very good lie, but luckily, he wasn’t paying much attention.

“Well at least you’re sane. Unlike those poor women.” He laughed merrily. It came very unexpected, this warm and cheerful laugh that made his face light up. Ros thought it was the sweetest thing to see...and it just made it a bit harder for her to keep hiding her feelings for him.

 

14.

“And here it is mister Bealish.” Mister Kartal placed his British passport on the table in his cousin’s sandwich bar. “Although I should call you mister Appleton now, shouldn’t I? At least that’s what it says in your official documents.”

“Thank you. It certainly will take some time to get used to this." Petyr picked up his new passport and studied it pensively. It looked quite similar to Ros’s passport. “So, how far can I get with this?”

“You can do with it anything you like really." Mister Kartal leaned back in his chair and stirred in his sugary coffee. "Mister Appleton was a registered resident of Liverpool before he died at the very unfortunate young age of 28, a full decade ago. He was single, with no known living relatives. My other cousin Altan who works in the national population registry department has revived mister Appleton for you last Wednesday. So using this, you could easily open a bank account, go rent an apartment or, if you so wish, even pay UK taxes. Let’s just say, your imagination is the limit - although I would not visit the hospital any time soon.” He added after a short pause. “We did remove your death registration in the national system, but your medical record will still state that you have suffered from an untreatable form of brain cancer. The doctors might be a bit surprised if they find you so miraculously cured ten years later.”

“I certainly wouldn’t want to do that any time soon. To be frank, they are not my favorite places to visit. So…I have to pretend that I am 38?” Petyr asked, placing the document carefully inside the breast pocket of his jacket. It certainly beat putting down his real age, which would basically freak people out completely. What would it be? Like close to 543? Something like that. If he included his time spent in the afterlife.

“As if mister Appleton himself has carried on living since 2003.” Mister Kartal grinned. “You can carry it off easily, now that you have dyed your hair." He pointed out and stood up. "I trust that everything is now clear, mister Appleton?”

Petyr nodded. “It is.”

“Then let me say that it's been a real pleasure doing business with you.” Mister Kartal took Petyr’s hand and shook it. “My clients are very impressed with the quality of your product. Next time you receive another batch of this, please don’t hesitate to contact me again."

 


 

Petyr celebrated that night by treating Ros to a nice take-away dinner from her favorite Indian Restaurant in Fleet Street. They were sitting at the tiny kitchen table, looking out into the busy street below. Dusk had settled and the shop windows and street lights outside were all lit up like lights in a Christmas tree.

“So Petyr, or Paul.” Ros said, sipping from her Rose wine. “Now that you have officially regained a legal identity, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

“That’s a very vague, rather philosophical question.” Petyr said with a little smile as he bit into one of the last sweet potato samosas. They were absolutely delicious, and he couldn't get enough of them. He was starting to gain a little weight again, and much to Ros's satisfaction, didn't look like he had just escaped from some horrible starvation camp anymore. “What do you mean exactly?”

“Do you want to go find your wife and meet up with her again?” Ros finally dared to ask. She had wanted to drop that much burdened question on him for quite some tome now. “I know she sent you to that horrible clinic, but you know, she is your wife? You must miss her…or perhaps...you still resent her?” She tried not to sound too hopeful.

“No I don’t.” Petyr said softly. “It wasn’t her fault. I was messed up. She didn’t have a choice.” He added, remembering what he had done to her, what they had done to each other. The silver mockingbird pin that she had given him still hung as a pendant from a cord around his neck, and felt warm against his skin. “And I do miss her…" He confessed. "I miss her horribly, but I can’t go find her yet. Not until I have done everything what I need to do first.” He said with much resolution, taking a sip from his almond milk.

“And what’s that?”

Petyr thought things through for a moment. He gazed down at his hands and turned his palm slightly upwards to check on the mark that Melisandre's ritual had left behind. To his relief, the scar lines were still ink-black. “Ros, could you please help me again? I need to open a bank account.”

She was surprised by his strange request. "A bank account?”

Petyr nodded. “I want to deposit the rest of the money on it to make it easier to use. More importantly, it would help me build up credit with the banks.”

“You want a bank loan? What do you want it for?”

“I want to get a starting capital together so I could invest in something to make more money. I know I still have about 44K, but that's not going to last me forever.” And it’s certainly not going to be even nearly enough for what I have in mind. Petyr thought.

“Invest your money? You mean, you want to put it in stocks and bonds, things like that?”

Petyr blinked his eyes. “I am sorry, I don’t think I quite get that? What kind of stocks do you mean?” Petyr thought she was talking about grain, or rye or even turnips. And what the heck are bonds?

“Company stocks and bonds, like in stock market trading?” Ros was clearly astonished now. “Honestly Petyr, if this confuses you, you probably shouldn’t invest your money in anything.” She muttered, finishing her glass.

He was instantly intrigued. “How does it work?”

I have no idea how it really works. What I do know is that some people get rich almost overnight, while others lose their entire fortune in a matter of hours or even seconds. You have to know a lot about economics and politics to be able to make any money out of it. I don’t think you should do this Petyr.” Ros said, trying to be honest with him. “Maybe you could put the money on a saving account?” She opted. “It’s much safer. I know the interest rate is very low nowadays, but at 1% you still get a good 400 pounds per year out of it.”

But Petyr had suddenly developed a very selective type of hearing. “Did you just say that people can get rich just overnight with this system?”

“Yes….Yes I did.” Ros replied warily.

“Can you show me what I must do to trade in these stocks?”

“Petyr, I am a prostitute, not an city investment banker.” She sighed. “Are you even listening to me? I just tried to explain to you that I don’t know anything about this. I am just familiar with the terms because they’re always moaning about it on the news.”

“But surely, there must be a way to learn this? Are there no books I could read, or people I could talk to who can teach me?”

“You can find a lot of information about this online, I guess. You can find almost anything online, so why not this.”

Online?” He asked. "What line?"

“No…You’re kidding me.” Ros mumbled, staring at Petyr with an incredulous expression on her face, but he remained dead serious.

“My laptop.” She pointed at the flat black plastic rectangular box that Petyr knew was usually half-buried under a heap of magazines on her coffee-table. “Surely you have noticed me using it sometimes? Surely, you do know what it is for?”

“I am sorry.” Petyr muttered, slightly embarrassed. “I am afraid you have to spend some time to make it all clearer to me.”

“Right.” Ros stood up and went over to the sink with her empty glass.

“You don't want to explain anything?” Petyr asked, a little disappointed.

“Yes I do.” Ros replied, placing the dirty wineglass in the sink while still wearing that incredulous expression on her face. “But first, I am going to put the kettle on. I am in need of a good strong cup of coffee. This is going to be one seriously long evening I am afraid.”

 


 

Luckily for her, it actually didn't take Petyr that long to get a hang of the internet. After he was taught the basics by Ros, his natural curiosity impelled him to explore it on his own, and soon he was able to find whatever information he desired about the mad world of market trading. Petyr had always believed that knowledge was power, and in this brave new world it seemed that he didn’t needed a vast network of spies anymore to get it. He only needed to insert the right keywords into google. The ease with which the information was almost instantly delivered to him was intoxicating, and ignited in him such an obsessive excitement about learning something new that he was continuously glued to Ros’s laptop for the next couple of days, and had much trouble sleeping, or eating, or doing anything else.

Petyr learned about bonds and stocks and leverage, about company reports and dividends, what the effects are of the central bank raising or lowering the interest rates, and of the impact of local and international politics on market volatility and stock prices. Petyr had traded before. He had managed shipping businesses for his uncle in Braavos and Jon Arryn in Gulltown when he was customs master in the past, and had generated a a lot of money for them both by buying and selling all kinds of goods at the right price and at the right moment. It seemed to him that what he had learned from his previous experiences was still very much applicable, only now, he didn’t need to bargain with any troublesome merchants anymore. He didn’t need to know the right people to gain an advantage over his competitors, or bribe anyone to outsmart his opponents. He didn’t even need to bother with the boring logistics of having to physically store or own the product that he was trading anymore. Somehow, this mad world had managed to fully detach it’s wealth from it’s material origins in gold or any other earthly goods, and had reduced everything into a hectic series of red and green numbers that flashed across his screen on numerous news and market websites. The only thing Petyr needed to do, was to crack the code, to find the patterns of cause and effect in this seemingly chaotic mess and use it to predict the future behavior of the stocks, and he would be able to climb his way out of the bottom of the societal ladder again.

It took Petyr four days to learn about the stock market and gain enough confidence practicing with a simulator online to make his first trade. He started cautiously on Thursday morning, investing only 5000 pounds into a tracker fund for gold in response to a large sell-off in the general stockmarket. By the end of the day, when the major indices world wide continued to slide, he had all his money invested in similar trackers for precious metals and in Index puts, all leveraged to maximize his gains. When he sold everything off on Friday afternoon, Peter had transformed his initial 44K into 100K, more than doubling his start-off capital.

But more importantly, he knew he never had to worry about money again, for he was certain that he would always be able to make more, if he needed it.

“Such strange world this is.” He muttered to himself, shaking his head in astonishment as he leaned back in his plastic kitchen chair at 5 in the afternoon, gazing at the final number on his bank-account that was displayed on screen while the market closed down for the weekend. 

“One that is truly made for the likes of me.”

Petyr was right. It was a world in which greed, boldness, opportunism, and cunning were shamelessly rewarded, where knowledge brought almost instant wealth, whereas honesty, hard work, dedication, and brawn didn’t take you much further than a dreadful 8-5 job, paving roads, cleaning toilets or washing someone's birdshit splattered car. Here, no matter who was prime minister or president or king, Petyr would always end up on top, because he was so exceptionally good at playing this same ancient game of greed, and had learned to play it so very well in a place where the game used to be so much harder.

“Such strange new times indeed.” Petyr muttered, finally logging out and closing Ros’s laptop with a wide content smile.

 

15.

“Ros, is that not that bloke who you said has moved in with you now? Ehm, what’s his name again…Peter?” The blond prostitute said hesitantly, pointing out a smartly dressed man who was half-hanging out of an expensive looking white car with dark blue tinted windows. “Oh my God!" She gasped, when the car rolled closer and she took notice of the little mascot on the bonnet. "Is that a fucking Rolls Royce he’s driving in?”

Ros was so stunned that she couldn’t say a thing and kept staring wide-eyed at Petyr, who was waving happily at her while the car kept crawling towards her in the mid of one of London’s many daily traffic jams. “What has that man done now?” She muttered, and hurried towards him. She was trailed closely by her two friends, who were keen to find out more about Ros’s highly attractive new friend.

“Ros!” Petyr beamed a happy smile at her and swung the back car-door wide open. “I am sorry. I can’t really let the driver park anywhere nearby, so you have to hop in.” He patted on the white leather seat next to him.

“Oh, is this your new boyfriend Ros?” The brunette asked Ros, pushing forward. Petyr immediately recognized her from a few weeks before. It was that same scary mad woman who had been hurling insults at him when he had told her that he wasn't interested. “Wow, he cleaned up real nice, didn’t he?” She said, practically undressing him with her hungry eyes.

“Can you introduce us to him?” The blond urged, and gave Petyr a predatory smile that made him want to turn and run for the hills. “Oh come on now Ros. Pretty please? There is more than enough room for the three of us in the back of that gorgeous car.”

“Hush you two.” Ros felt her cheeks burn bright. “Petyr, what is this? You didn’t buy this, did you?”

“I rented it." He said with a reassuring smile. "It’s only for a couple of hours. I don’t have the skills to drive, and I have no ambition to learn it any time soon.” He wasn’t joking. After he had seen how the chauffeur did it in the middle of heavy traffic of London, he basically gave up the whole idea, thinking that he probably would just end up killing himself if he did ever attempt it. “Come on miss Evergreen.” He said, raising his voice above the continuous honking of the cars stranded behind the Rolls Royce. “Don’t just stand there. Get in!”

Still too astonished to protest, Ros got into the back of the car with Petyr. Her two friends wanted to come too, but Petyr quickly slammed the car-door shut and double locked it before they could plant their asses on the seats. "Sorry ladies." He apologized, but meaning not a word of it. "It's kind of a special occasion. Maybe next time." He hurried to roll up the electric window and the car pulled away.

The two hookers left behind on the pavement stared at each-other with incredulous expressions on their heavy make-upped faces.

"Well, have you ever." The blond muttered, as she watched the Rolls Royce Phantom disappear in the traffic. "Looks like Ros found herself a frog prince."

“I wish I had a sugar daddy like that.” The brunette whined, letting out a deep sigh. “I would be perfect for it. Some girls just have all the bloody luck in the world.”

 


 

“You look amazing.” Ros stared at Petyr as she settled herself in the luxurious soft white leather seat. She completely felt out of place here, like she was some cheap street hooker who had been just picked by a younger version of Richard Gere in that soppy Rom-Com movie she had seen at least a hundred times when she was still a teenager. It didn't help that she didn't particularly felt like Julia Roberts at the moment. It had been windy, drizzling rain all day. Her make-up and hair were a complete mess. 

But Petyr looked absolutely stunning. His well-tailored clothes helped to straighten and shape him, injecting so much confidence in his poise that he looked like one of those young successful entrepreneurs, a high-flying CEO of a tech-company, or a swavy investor with a 7 figures on his bank-account. He looked like he completely belonged in this world.

“Yeah.” Petyr replied, smiling cheekily at her while he had adjusted his silver cufflinks. Ros noticed that they were shaped like little birds. “I thought I go back to that shop you took me and buy a couple more suits. I wanted to try something different. What do you think?”

“It’s beautiful.” She lightly brushed with the back of her hand over the side of his neck when she adjusted the silk collar of his light blue shirt. It made her heart flutter all the way up her throat. “I-I really like the silver sheen on the fabric.” She said, hoping fiercely that he didn’t notice her blushing.

“I am glad you said that.” He held up a finger and raised his eyebrows before he presented her with a beautifully wrapped box tied up with a big blue silk bow. “A gift.” He explained with a grin. “I am pretty sure it will fit.” He told her as he watched her unwrap it. “It has the same measurements that were on the label of the dress I bought you a week ago. It’s silk, a grey silver color, like the feathers on a silver seagull.” He carefully studied her eyes when she held the gorgeous gown up for herself to see. “I hope you like it.” He added, a tad unsure after he noticed the troubled expression on her face.

“Petyr, this dress is breathtaking, but it’s a Chanel.” Ros said, after examining the label and the box. “By the sight of it, it’s probably limited edition too. This costs way too much.”

“I only want to know if you like it or not.” Petyr said, looking a little disappointed.

“I do, I adore it! How could I not love it? It looks like it’s spun out of moonbeams or something, but -”

“Good, good! That makes me very happy.” Petyr said, grinning.

One look at that happy warm smile of his, and Ros melted and immediately knew that she had lost the argument. “Were are we going?” She sighed, while she carefully folded the dress back inside the box.

“To the Savoy hotel. I booked a table in one of the restaurants at 8:00. I also booked two rooms. You can go up there to freshen up and chance into your new dress before we have dinner together. The nice lady on the phone told me that we are on the eighteenth floor with a good view overlooking the London Bridge and the river. It should be quite spectacular in the evening.“

“A stay at the Savoy?" Ros gasped, eyes wide with astonishment. "Petyr I am completely lost here. What is going on?” She cried out.

“Why don’t you just try to relax and enjoy the ride? I will explain everything later at dinner. From the look of the traffic, we might enjoy it a little longer than I have anticipated.” He searched around for a moment before he found a button, half hidden in his armrest. “Do you want a drink?” He suggested, he pushed the button, and a hidden door in front of Ros popped open to reveal a small fridge. “I didn’t know when I rented this, but apparently this comes with complimentary Champagne.” He took a chilled crystal flute from the fridge and poured her a glass.

The champagne was pink and bubbly. Ros took a sip. It was absolutely delicious. “Don’t you want one?” She asked Petyr, noticing that he wasn’t drinking. Come to think of it, she had never seen him drink alcohol, not even once.

“I want to keep my head clear.” Petyr replied, giving Ross a generous smile. “But please, go ahead. I want you to enjoy it.”

The truth was, Petyr didn't need to use or drink anything right now to feel this heavenly happy and drunkenly high. He felt like he was soaring miles up over the top of the world, and nothing could ever bring him down again.

 


 

“They told me that they serve a special Swedish tasting menu this month.” Petyr said. They were finally sitting together at their table in the restaurant. It was beautifully set with a snow-white table cloth, Japanese table ware, and a magnificent centerpiece of freshly cut pink Dutch tulips, white hellebores, and delicate snowdrops in a background of evergreen creepers. The restaurant decor was equally stunning, with comfortable sea-green leather chairs set in dark mahogany wood, and cut-glass mirrors, a cream marble floor and shining brass finishes, all decorated in elegant art deco style.

Ross was now full dressed and groomed for the special occasion. Petyr thought she looked breathtakingly beautiful.

“It’s going to contain a lot of seafood.” he put down the menu and folded his out his napkin over his lap, grinning cheerfully as he thoroughly enjoyed this evening out with her. “I hope you don't mind. You mentioned that you like fish.”

Ross did mention that to Petyr once, but at that time, she was actually talking about fish-fingers. “I don’t think I could mind anything right now.” Ross said, still completely blown away by where she was at the moment. She had walked by the Savoy so many times before, but never had she dreamed that she would be able to stay in this landmark hotel, or have diner in one it’s most fancy restaurants.

“And? Do you actually like it?” Petyr asked, a little worried when he saw her nipping prudently at her starter of cured salmon with pine needle ash and Beluga caviar like it was gilded with gold. To Ross, who had seen the ridiculous price of the tasting menu, this could very much be true.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because you look like you rather prefer to be tortured on a rack than to have this dinner with me?” Petyr explained, smiling nervously.

It’s not that. It’s super delicious, really.” Ross put her fork down and gazed around, taking in the posh-looking men and women occupying the other tables. She still couldn’t believe that no-one had showed up yet to kick her out of this grand place. “It’s lovely. Everything is absolutely lovely…only -”

“Only what?”

She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “Why are you spending all this money?” She whispered. “I thought you said you wanted to save that all up for your investments?”

“Yeah, I did say that.” Petyr grinned, finishing his plate and putting his fork down.

Well then, have you seen these prices? The bottle of white that you have just ordered for this one course alone would cost me a whole month of rent! And you don’t even drink it yourself!” She pointed out the flat table water that Petyr seemed to prefer. You ordered the whole bottle, just for me. And then I am not even mentioning the car you rented to get here, or the large double sized rooms you have booked for us, or my ridiculously pricey dress.”

“Well, if it’s any consolation, you do look really beautiful in it.” Petyr smirked.

“If you keep on spending on this rate, you will have nothing left by the end of this week.”

“That’s not true.”

“I might be just a street hooker, but I can count.”

“I know you do. You would make an excellent accountant.” Petyr smiled.

“What?” Ross leaned back in her chair and stared back at him with an incredulous expression on her face.

“You don’t have to worry about all this.” Petyr reassured her. “I am not an idiot. I only spend when I know for sure that I can miss it. I can assure you, the money won’t run out on me. Not ever again.”

“Oh God, Petyr…have you lost your mind or something?” Ross muttered, fearing that the poor man somehow had. She had been very worried about him spending too much time on the internet. “Or perhaps…were you so lucky to find another super stash of cocaine? Is it perhaps both? Did you use anything before you came to pick me up?” She suggested. She wasn’t even joking. She was really getting rather anxious now.

“What?!" Petyr raised his eyebrows. "No! Of course not!” How does she get these completely mad ideas? For heaven’s sake, he even tried to avoid getting drunk. “Look, do you remember that evening when I asked you about what stocks and bonds are?” Petyr said to her while the waiter came to refill their glasses. “I looked things up about it on the internet. I opened a bank account for stock trading on Monday. I practiced on a demo account till Wednesday. And yesterday, I made my first trade.”

“Aha.” Was all that Ross managed to say. It was followed by a long pause. “So I guess you made a bit of money.” She finally concluded, but didn’t seem any less troubled. “Congratulations, but still that’s no reason to waste it all.”

“Ros.” Petyr sighed. “Listen…I made 56K in two days. I more then doubled my input capital in less than 6 trades. Believe me, I think we can safely enjoy this nice meal together without me directly getting into any financial troubles.” He told her confidently, when the waiter returned to clear their table.

As the lavish 12 course meal rolled on, Petyr patiently explained to Ross how he had made the money, and by the time they had finished their second main of grilled lobster and Wagu beef, Ross had developed a pretty good idea that he knew what he was talking about, and wasn’t lying about how much he had made.

“But how can you be so sure that it’s not just luck?” Ros opted. “I know you said you’ve done your research, but still. I have seen investment bankers going bankrupt during the banking crisis here in London. Some of them were very good clients of mine. These guys have done this sort of thing for a living for over decades. You just started out on…Monday.”

“Not Monday, I started on Thursday…” Somehow it seemed important to Petyr’s recuperating ego that he made that perfectly clear to her. “Look, I really have more experience in this sort of thing than you know. Trust me. I know how to keep the money flowing in from now on. There is nothing difficult about it. It’s just a trick. In a way, I have done it a thousand of times before, and I am sure I can do it again.”

“You seem very confident.” Ros sighed.

“You still have a hard time believing me?” Petyr muttered, gazing at her pensively. This was not entirely going according to plan. He really wanted her to trust him. He needed her.

“No, I do want to believe you.” Ros replied, her face full of sincerity. “I am just worried, that’s all.”

“Ros-“ Petyr started, hesitantly. “This night, the car, this dinner and everything else, it’s not just to show off, if that what you think. I really wanted to thank you for what you’ve done for me. It if wasn’t for you, I would still be sleeping in the gutter. I would have probably been mugged and stabbed by thugs by now…”

“That’s incredibly sweet of you Petyr, but you’re a friend.” She took his hand and gave it a light squeeze. “I am more than happy to help you out. You really don’t need to do all these things as some kind of repayment to make me happy.”

“Actually, I also want to ask you something.” Petyr admitted. “Ros, if I would offer you a job, would you take it, and stop working in the streets?”

A pause. “You want to give me another job? Me?” The look of utter astonishment quickly dissolved when Ross burst out laughing. She couldn’t even stop when she noticed that the other guests were glancing over their shoulders, looking at her. It all just sounded completely ridiculous. Only two weeks ago, she had found Petyr in the streets, homeless, wounded, and destitute, and now he wanted to become her new boss?

“What?” She finally stopped when she noticed the dead serious expression on his face. “You’re for real? You’re not kidding?”

“No I am not.” Petyr admitted, actually hurt by her strange reaction. “So, what do you think?”

“I think you are definitely out of your mind now." Ros replied, the mirth disappeared completely from her face. "What do you think I can do? I have barely finished secondary school, I can’t write, I can’t type. I know absolutely nothing about stock trading. What are you exactly going to pay me for Petyr? Unless you are planning to hire me as your mistress, I shall be completely useless to you.”

“Don’t underestimate yourself. Like I said, I am sure you make an excellent accountant.”

“Your accountant? Petyr have you turned mad?”

“I can’t see why not.” He said with a touch of rude defiance. He was starting to lose his patience, and he really didn’t like it that Ross, of all people, was calling him mad. “You are very good with numbers. You kept a good eye on my expenses over the last few weeks. You ‘re also very streetwise. You have many contacts in the city that I still lack but could be of great use to me. So you see, if I would hire you, you would be a true asset to me. I won’t be just paying you because I want to be nice to you or because you have a pretty face. Plus…I rather enjoy your company.” That last part came out before he fully realized that he had said it.

“Is that your way of saying that we are more than just friends?” Ros replied with a teasing smile.

“Do you take my offer?” Petyr asked, wishing hard that she would say yes.

But Ros was still hesitant. “Give me a day of two to think about it.”

“Why would you want to think about this?” Petyr argued, sounding much irritated. He seriously had no idea why she had to be so skeptical. He was offering her a way out of prostitution and poverty. The idea that Ros had to spend the rest of her life as a prostitute with that bunch of sad over-the-hill hookers sickened him to the core. Why can’t she just accept things for what are and stop distrusting everything he says? It was not like had lied to her – or at least not that much. He wasn’t trying to seduce her to do horrible things to gain himself some sort of advantage, he wasn’t abusing her kindness. He just liked her and wanted to keep her close. It was that simple. Honestly, why are virtuous people always this difficult to manipulate?

“I offer you an opportunity to get out of this nasty business you’re in.” Petyr said, still trying to convince her. “Listen to me. You have good heart, and you are intelligent. You deserve so much better than what you have right now. Don’t you want to enjoy living for a change instead of just surviving? Don’t you want to do something great with your life? Go where ever you want to go, do what ever you want to do, and to – FUCK!

“Ehm, yes, I guess I would still want to enjoy that once in a while, depending with whom.” Ros muttered, very stunned and confused at the same time. Then she noticed the shocked expression on his face. “Petyr, what’s going on? You look awfully pale.”

Petyr’s breath stalled in his chest when he saw the very familiar scar-marked face of Sandor Clegane in front of the restaurant window, peering inside with a malicious sneer on his lips. The huge man had his eyes set on Petyr, and when he noticed that he was spotted, raised his left upper lip in what Petyr could only interpret as bloodthirsty snarl, the kind a dog with rabies would give you before he ripped you to pieces. Then Clegane ran his thick finger slowly across of his neck, imitating the slow cut of a knife across the throat.

Petyr jumped up in fright from behind his seat with such haste that the chair fell backwards on the floor.

“Petyr?!” Ros said with a wide eyed stare. She was sitting with her back to the window, and had not seen what he had seen.

“I need – I have to –“ Petyr rambled, sweating cold sweat and with his eyes fixed on the Hound. He couldn’t get in here, could he? Certainly, someone is going to keep him out. For crying out loud, the man is wandering around in muddy hospital clothes. But all of his hope evaporated when he watched Sandor quarrel just briefly with the doorman in front of the hotel entrance before knocking him out with one really nasty punch from his good left arm, the one that wasn’t wrapped in plaster casing. Then Sandor disappeared inside the building. Shortly after that, Petyr could hear him cursing and shouting loudly outside in the lobby.

“You fucking lunatic!” Clegan roared, as he came storming into the restaurant. “You fucked me over you little rat!”

Shit, shit, shit - I am so fucking dead. With his heart pumping in his throat, Petyr whirled around and stumbled right into a waiter who was about to serve them their next course.

“Sorry!” Petyr said, as he tried to move away from the table, his expensive new shoes slipping over the mess of scallops and cream sauce that now lay splattered all over the floor. “I am really really sorry. I’ll pay for it. I’ll pay for everything.” He mumbled, he finally got some firm ground under his feet and ran off into the direction of the kitchen. “Just keep the lady happy. I will be right back." He yelled his shoulder at the stunned waiter. I hope. He half fell through the swing doors when Clegane reached his table. Petyr then spotted the back door and immediately went for it, running through the kitchen while ignoring the hectic warnings and shouts coming from the kitchen brigade. He caught a glimpse of Clegane’s enraged face, steaming with the rising sweltering heat of the kitchen, heading straight for him, just when he escaped through the back door out into the streets.

 

16.

Clegane must have chased him around at least 15 blocks before Petyr was starting to give up the idea that he would ever be able to get that rampaging madman off his back. Although initially he was much faster than the Hound, by the time he crossed over Westminster bridge, his side was starting to sting again and all the lead he had just vanished within a few short sprints. By the time they reached Waterloo station, Petyr was so out of breath and close to utter exhaustion that he would now just prefer to lie down and let Clegane beat him into a bloody pulp then to run one step further.   

“This is – fucking - ludicrous.” He panted, gasping for air, his lungs and side on fire. He finally dared to swirl around to face Sandor. “Oh come on!” He cried out, close to desperation. “Stop chasing me already! I can’t- I really –“

He coughed like an ancient locomotive struggling up hill, then crawled on his hands and knees to a soft green patch of lawn next to the pavement, before collapsing  on his back. Petyr was spent. He really didn’t care anymore. He just wanted to lie down and die.

“Get up you!” Clagane rasped, stumbling towards Petyr with all the speed and agility of a rusty truck stuck on reverse. “What are you doing, you fucking lunatic?! Get up! We’re not finished!”

“Oh no.” Petyr reassured him, gazing up at the Hound’s angry mug. “We are finished. I am finished. Just kill me already and be done with it. Just don’t expect me to run any further. I am so fucking done here.”

Petyr winced and shut his eyes when he saw Clegane pull back his fist to take a swing at him. When the hurting did not come, he cautiously peeled open an eye, and saw the Hound sitting next to him on the narrow path of grass. His expression was still grim, but like Petyr, he seemed completely worn out and was visibly in some degree of pain.  

“Look at you.” Petyr said, slowly struggling back up to a sitting position resting on his elbows, and took in the bandages that were wrapped around Sandor’s right arm and wrist. “You’re still recovering. They took you to a hospital. Why aren’t you still there?”

“You don’t think I want to?” Sandor rasped. He sounded a bit calmer now, but there was still a fat lot of anger in his voice. “I couldn’t stay there. They tried to lock me up because those idiots couldn’t figure out who I was. They kept asking me about a plastic card or something. It was all fucked up.”

“An ID.” Petyr said, realizing what the Hound was talking about. “They asked you about your passport or ID card, but you couldn’t show it to them. That’s why you left the hospital in this state.”

“It’s all your fault! You together with that red witch dragged me here to this fucked up place.”

“You shouldn’t have intervened. I didn’t really ask for a travel companion.”

“You were not supposed to be out! I just wanted to do my job and drag your skinny crazy ass back to the asylum. I still want to, because it’s where you fucking belong!” Like a Nile crocodile suddenly snapping at a bird resting on its jaw, Sandor lashed out. Petyr just slipped out of the way in time to keep himself out of his grasp, but Sandor did managed to get hold of his sleeve.

“For fuck’s sake, can’t you just stop it?” Petyr sneered, wriggling himself out of his jacket and stepping away from the Hound. “You know you’re never going to get your hands on me! You might be better at hitting things with your fists or slicing someone up with a sword, but I am much quicker than you are. You’re wasting your breath and my precious time! Why can’t we just call it quits?”

“Never!” Sandor replied, crumbling up Petyr’s brand new jacket and wringing it in his hands. By the sight of him, he probably was imaging that he was wringing Petyr’s neck. “You owe me you little lunatic! I am not going to stop. Not before you get me back or I get to you kill you.”

“Oh I am so sick of this.” Petyr muttered, gazing up to the night’s sky in total expiration. “Look, you can’t go back. Not without Melisandre here to perform the spell. Without her, I am pretty much useless to you. Why can’t you get it through your thick dumb skull?!” He took in a deep breath to calm himself. It wouldn’t help to make the Hound more even angry then he already was. “You know what, fine. Maybe what is inside the pockets of my jacket is going to persuade you. Go on then. Take a look.”

Sandor gave him a distrustful gaze, nevertheless he went through the pockets. “What is this?” He asked, as he took out a stack of banknotes.

“That’s about 3000 pounds in cash. It is all I have with me for now. Take it and leave me in peace.”

The Hound furrowed his heavy brows. “How did you get this? We’ve been stuck here for only two weeks.”

Petyr shrugged. “It’s just numbers my simple minded friend. The same numbers and the same old game with the same old rules as it was in Westeros or in any other place. Only here, it’s played much faster and the game is much easier.”

A long pause, as the information was slowly digested by Sandor. “You earned this?” He concluded, his face showing much disbelief.

“I wouldn’t say earn. That would imply that actual labor was involved. There wasn’t any.” Petyr replied, with a little smugness.

“So you stole it then?”

“I bet and won. I am a gambler, always have been. I still had a good 50000 pounds worth of medical grade cocaine on me when we arrived here. I sold that. That was the difficult part really. I used the money that I received from the drug deal to make more.”

“So, you are surviving then.”

“Surviving? I am thriving! As long as you leave me alone and stop trying to drag me back to King’s Landing, I am thrilled, I am absolutely deliriously happy here.” Petyr smirked, and gestured at the wad of banknotes in Sandor’s hand. “Take that as a token of my goodwill. Keep out of my way for the coming days and come back here on Monday at 8:00 in the morning. I shall give you more to get you started, enough to pay for a small apartment, and to buy some food. I can even help you find someone to fix you an ID. If you smarten up a little, you should be able find yourself a job in this place.”

It calmed Petyr's nerves a great deal to see the Hound put away the money in his back pockets of his dirty hospital trousers. “What if I don’t make it?" Clegane asked. He looked up doubtfully at Petyr. "Even with all this money you’re giving me. What if I can’t make a living here?”

“Why wouldn’t you?” Petyr scoffed. “Even in this world there must be a need for someone with your particular talent to terrorize people. I am fully confident that you will find an occupation that is suitable for you.”

“What if I don’t?”

“Why do you keep asking me? Do I look like your personal magic eight ball? How would that continue to be of my concern? How you live and how you die is not my responsibility.” Petyr added with a smirk, and jumped right back before Sandor could grab him by his neck.

"You little shit! You dragged me here!” Sandor roared.

“Yes. I did." Petyr replied, starting to have enough of this. "I had an inkling that you might not have completely grasped what I was trying to offer you here. Let me elaborate." He came a little closer, as much as he dared, his heart still fluttering inside his chest. "I was trying to pay you to compensate for your little discomfort.”

Petyr had half-expected that he would lash out at him again, but instead, Sandor laughed. “You are a little smart-ass aren’t you?" The Hound sneered with a wide sarcastic grin on his face. "I wouldn’t have guessed it when I first met you, a pathetic nutcase drooling away in the cellar of the Red Keep. But something happened to you. You’ve changed. This is who you really are, isn’t it? A smart-mouthed know-it-all who likes to piss people off. One that always knows how to look after himself, no matter what.”

“It’s a pleasure to finally get properly acquainted.” Petyr smiled back at him, although he didn't quite get the joke. “So what is your bloody point?”

“My fucking point is, a smart know-it-all like you might be a clever little dick, but clever is not the same as wise, is it? I bet you run into all sorts of trouble easily. Even if you say that you are fast, I bet you cannot always get away fast enough from all the troubles that you stir up, am I right?”

Petyr finally got where this was heading. “Are you offering me some sort of deal, Clegane?”

"Yeah." The Hound grunted, looking at Petyr like a hungry lion would scrutinize a mouse, trying to figure out if that tiny bite would be worth all the trouble. “I will work for you, provide the muscle that you so obviously lack. I’ll hurt the people who threaten you, and you –“

“Provide you with all the income you need to survive.” Petyr concluded. “In other words, I give you a job.”

“Yeah, that’s about it. What do you think?”

It wasn't such a bad idea. Considering what plans Petyr had, he could certainly need a little protection. “What makes you think I can pay you for your services continuously?” Petyr asked.

“You said you’re a gambler. You bet to earn money.”

“Yes, I am and I do.”

“How lucky are you?”

For the first time dealing with Sandor, Petyr lip’s curled into a smile that reached all the way to his eyes. “If I can keep my wits together, I would say very very lucky.”

“Well." Sandor rasped. "That is enough reassurance for me.”

Petyr smiled back at him. It turned out that the Hound wasn't the simple minded brute he mistook him to be. He was much wiser than he appeared.

“Alright Clegane. I don’t see why this little agreement won’t work out to both of our advantage. I take your offer. If you would now be so kind to hand me back my jacket. I still have a dinner with a lovely lady to attend. You can come with me."

Petyr offered Sandor a hand and the Hound got back to his feet.

“You will need a shave.” Petyr told him as they made their way back to the Savoy. “You look like one of those dancing bears on an April fair. My flatmate is one of the kindest women you will ever meet, but she won’t be able to tolerate you otherwise. She clearly has trouble with facial hair, it makes her act all strange and giddy.” Petyr warned Sandor, still puzzled by how weird Ros had reacted to his suggestion to leave his mustache in the barbershop. He took a sniff from Sandor and wrinkled up his nose. “May I also suggest you take a shower as well? The stench that is coming off you right now is absolutely horrendous.”

“You weren’t exactly smelling of roses yourself when I dragged your naked ass out of the that sludge in the sewers, you little cunt.” Sandor rasped.

Petyr glanced sideways at him. “You do understand that I am your superior now? A little more respect won’t be out of place here. I used to be a lord. You might want to address me as such.”

“I am sorry sir, I will remember that. You lord cunt.”

Petyr only replied with a small twist in the corner of his mouth and an amused look in his eyes. As he saw it, this could be the beginning of a long and very fruitful work relationship.

TBC

 

Notes: That's it for this time. I need more time to get the next chapter up, so hopefully in two weeks time I will have it posted for you. I will post a notification on Tumblr for this. Meanwhile, let me know what you think. Next chapter will be called Myranda.