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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 a 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 a car.

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 a 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 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.

 

Chapter Text

Notes: Suggested music tracks:

The theory of everything.

For part 1 and 2 (you know when it stops after you have read it…)

Hurt

For part 1 and 2 (Sansa POV)

 

1.

The letter came to her one day in a wax sealed envelope.

The moment Sansa picked it up from the doormat and saw the mockingbird impression in the blood red seal, her heart skipped a full beat. It took her a while to acknowledge its presence, to convince herself that it wasn’t just another hallucination, another elusive figment of her much aggrieved mind. She blinked her eyes a couple of time, all the while expecting it to disappear. It was really there, a solid form in the grasp of her own two hands.

It was addressed to her in a handwriting that she did not recognize. Quickly, she flipped the envelope around, but found no return address. With trembling hands, she slipped her finger under the fold and ripped it open.

The letter itself was embossed with the same emblem. A little mockingbird taking flight. Its wings spread out wide as it took to the air.

It was almost exactly like the silver pin she had once given him.

With her heart pounding, she let her eyes fly over the letter. Her mind obsessively consumed and analyzed every word on the page. Soon, the letters started to swim in front of her eyes in a haze of tears.

After all these years, after what she had seen and knew, she couldn’t dare to hope, but hope was exactly what this letter gave her.

She covered her mouth, muffling a cry, and slowly she sank through her knees. Soon after, the grief she had kept deep inside for these past 5 years came pouring out all at once.

 

2.

The party was already in full swing when she arrived that night at the great mansion, just outside the city. Sansa stepped out of the cab. The cold February air chilled her to the bone as the harsh winter wind went right through the fabric of her simple blue dress. She clutched the letter of invitation with the mockingbird emblem close to her bosom, afraid that she might lose it. As she made her way up to the mansion, she noted that the front garden was crowded with new arrivals, all eager to get inside. A chaotic line sneaked all the way to the entrance. At the head of it, the progression was slowed down by two men who were assigned to receive the guests.

“Excuse me!” Sansa made her way through a group of paparazzi gathered at the door, and waved, trying to attract the attention of one of them. “Excuse me! Could you help me please?”

“Miss, this is a private party.” A broad shouldered man with a black goatee and dark sunglasses replied. “You're only allowed in if you have received an invitation.”

“I do! I do have an invitation.” She held up the letter and wrestled her way through till she couldn’t get any closer. “I was invited by mister Jay Mockingbird personally. He sent me this.”

The guard gestured to the others to let her through and took the letter from her hand.

“Looks alright to me.” He muttered. After observing the emblem and reading her name on the paper, he returned it to her. “Welcome miss Stark.” He stepped aside to let her pass. “Enjoy yourself tonight.”

“Wait.” Sansa said, after noticing how crowded it was inside. “I would really like to meet with mister Mockingbird. Could please you tell me where I can find him?”

“He is mingling with his guests. Just go straight ahead. On your left, you will find the ballroom. He’s right in there.”

“Actually, I don’t know him very well.” Sansa lied. Or maybe she wasn’t lying. She simply didn’t know. The mockingbird emblem and the unusual name of her host could still all turn out to be a horrible fluke. She realized that it would be complete miracle if it really turned out to be Petyr, and yet she still hoped. She needed to find out who had sent her the letter, no matter how much the truth could potentially hurt her.

“You don’t know how he looks like?” The guard snorted. “And yet he invited you?”

“We have met before, I am sure, but I really can’t recall anything about him.” Sansa said, acting embarrassed and feigning helplessness in the hope to gain sympathy from him. “Please, could you point him out to me? I know he’s an important businessman who wants to invest in our region. I don’t want to make a bad impression.”

It seemed to work. “Let me arrange a few things, and I will come with you.”

Sansa was surprised when the guard produced a bird mask from the pocket of his jacket and slipped it over his face before he entered the marble hallway. Then she started to notice more people wearing similar masks.

“What’s going on here?” She asked as she turned to watch a group of beautifully dressed young women pass by, their glittering gowns adorned with colorful feathers. Their faces hidden behind plumaged masks that represented white owls, peacocks and birds of paradise.

“Didn’t they send you the second letter?” The man told her. “It’s a masked ball with a spring theme. Everyone is supposed to turn up disguised as a species of bird, even the blokes from security. It’s not my cup of tea for sure, but the boss wants it.”

“Really.” Sansa muttered as she followed him into the vast ballroom.

“I should have figured you didn’t get the memo.” The guard chuckled, looking at her from head to toe. Sansa looked beautiful in her blue dress, and was certainly presentable, but she was clearly not dressed for a fancy masquerade ball. He took off his own mask. “Here.” He said, handing it over to her. “Use mine. Like I said, I am not one for dressing up anyway.”

“Thank you.” She caressed the snow white feathers on the painted surface. It was supposed to represent a dove. She slipped the blue silk bands behind her ears and fastened them, but let the mask rest on top of her head. The guard led her further into the ballroom, crossing over to the other side till they came close to an impressive looking marble fireplace. A large group of guests were gathered around a slender man in a silver suit.

“You see that gentleman over there?” The guard pointed out. “The one with the black and silver feathers on that mockingbird mask? That’s mister Jay Mockingbird. If you want to speak to him, just go. I need to head back. You’ll be fine, right?”

“Yes.” Sansa nodded. Her heart lifted up all the way up to her throat. “I think I will be. Thank you.”

She went over to meet him. Her feet seemed to float on air, like she was wandering on clouds inside a dream. She dreaded that any moment now she could wake up. Her host must have made a good joke, for the crowd around him laughed merrily. She was now close enough to notice his dark curls, just peeping underneath the black and white feathers of his mask. She recalled how she had cried into Petyr’s silver curls when she had found him lying in a coffin in that God-awful asylum. Her heart wept with each step that took her closer to him.

“Petyr?” She said hesitantly. Her voice was as soft as down. In her heart, she knew that there was a good chance that it wasn’t him, and that whispering his name only could break this blissful magical spell in which there was still possibility and hope, but she could not help herself. That one word represented all of her hopes and dreams. It carried her whole world, and perhaps by speaking out his name and pouring all of her yearning into that one breath of sound, she could somehow make it come true.

She held her breath when he spun around. The mockingbird mask dropped, a man with dark blue eyes, a gaunt face and a goatee, turned to Sansa with a pleasant smile. “Excuse me.” He said, narrowing his eyes at her. “Do I know you miss?”

It wasn’t Petyr. Of course it wouldn’t be him. How could it be? Petyr is dead. Brienne told you that he was now in hell and will never be able to return to you. You cried your heart out and locked yourself away, till your family brought you back from the brink again. You have mourned for him, and then you promised yourself to let him go. Why can’t you remember that, you stupid stupid little girl?

Why do you still keep on hoping while there is truly - no more hope?

“I am…I am sorry.” She blurted. She felt numb and cold, and in that horrible forsaken moment, her heart died again.

“Sansa.”

She whirled around, much startled, her great grief suddenly transforming into an instinctive kind of fear, when someone from behind grabbed her roughly by her wrist.

“Sansa stark.” Ramsay said. He was dressed in a white tuxedo with black lapels and wore a black silk bow-tie to match. The large snarling snout of his paper bloodhound mask stuck out between his dark curls on top of his head. He had much changed since she last saw him. Instead of a looking like a hooded thug, he appeared to be every bit the gentleman now, but to Sansa, it was still the face of all of her nightmares turned flesh. “I am so happy that you’re here.”

“Mister Bolton.” Jay Mockingbird, who was supposed to be the host of this ball, addressed Ramsay with a reverence that was alarming to her. “Is this the girl you were waiting for?”

“Yes.” Ramsay replied, still grinning, and kept his eyes on Sansa while holding on firmly to her wrist till it started to hurt. “Thank you Jay, that will be all. Run along now and do what we’ve paid you for. Go entertain our guests.”

“No! Don't leave me with him!” Sansa cried out, but Jay Mockingbird, or who ever he was, was already retreating, taking the others with him. Struggling to free herself, she raised her hand to strike Ramsay. “Let me go you bastard –“

“Manners miss Stark.” Ramsay hissed, catching her other hand and holding it tight. “Really, the more you act like this, the more you convince me that I need to do something about you.”

Sansa let out a wretched sigh. “I swear, if you try something here I will scream.” But no matter how hard she tried, the threat sounded hollow.


“Do whatever you like princess.” Ramsay glanced around. “Most of the people who are here tonight are my father’s friends. They really don’t care about with I do in my own home. Or…perhaps they do care, but they’re not stupid enough to say anything about it.” He looked back at her. “Come come Sansa, my pretty wife, don’t make a scene. It’s our reunion! Finally, after all these years, you’re back in my arms, right where you belong!”

Her heart shuddered when she realized the horrible meaning of these words. She felt the ground being swept away right beneath her feet. Last time she saw Ramsay, he was stuck in King’s Landing, just like Petyr, and he had tried to rape her. He would have succeeded if Petyr had not intervened. But back then, Ramsay didn’t know who he was. He didn’t know he was a lost soul in purgatory. Now the vile vicious bastard seemed to remember everything.

Finding him here instead of Petyr just became so much worse.

“How…” She muttered, just when the band of musicians stationed on the podium nearby started to play.

“Shall we dance?” Ramsay said cheerfully, still smiling that deranged smile of his, before he dragged her away to the middle of the ballroom.

“There is no Jay Mockingbird.” Sansa said, her face drained of all color when her ex-dead husband took her hand and spun her around to the melody of the waltz.

“Nope. He is just a third rate actor I hired to see how you will respond.” He laughed giddily, his hands still clasping onto her like talons. “Oh in case you still have your hopes up, I sent you that letter." There was pride and a sadistic sense of joy in his voice when he told her that. "Did I get his sigil right? I can’t really remember anymore how it used looked like really. I have only seen it once, when he brought you to me for our marriage, but 500 years is a really long to remember such a tiny little detail. This one was made based on that precious silver bird pin he used to wear around his neck.”

His words gutted her like a knife jabbed into her stomach. “You have seen him wear it?”

“Of course I have. I was there with him in that asylum your father sent him to. I was his warden. Oh don’t look so horrified my dear.” He swept her around in a circle so fast, that the desperation and fear in her movements were easily mistaken for elegance. “Believe it or not. I took very good care of your Petyr, right till the very end.” His grin became almost diabolic when she noticed the heart rendering grief in her tearful eyes.

“So you really do remember him then?” He laughed. “Ha! I knew you would!”

“W-Who?” Sansa lied. Her face was a grim static mask. A single tear rolled down her cheek. She knew that it was already too late, that she had revealed herself, but she was too scared not to try. If Ramsay realized that she, just like him, knew everything about her past life, he wouldn’t let her live. And yet it wouldn’t be so horrible. Death would be such a relief than to live on with this horrendous guilt and loss.   

He grabbed her waist and pulled her closer as the music swelled and the others, the snow owls, the white and sliver cranes, the peacocks and the swans and the birds of paradise, all kept swirling around her and her captor like a mad colorful flock of birds, caught in the graceful violence of a hurricane.

This isn’t real. She told herself, her will paralyzed by fear and shock. I am lying in my bed and I am stuck in yet another nightmare. Soon my alarm will go off and I will wake up again…And poor Petyr will still be dead.

“Oh come on. Don’t insult me by pretending you don’t know. I just heard you call his name. You were hoping that Jay Mockingbird would somehow turn out to be Petyr Bealish.”

Ramsay leaned close to her, his hot heavy breath on her sweat cooled skin, as he whispered into her ear. “I am very sorry, but that’s absolutely impossible. You won’t ever see him again. You see, I am pretty sure I killed him, just before I came over to your world with Myranda." He turned her around to face him. "Do you want to know how?”

Her heart froze over as she watched Ramsay smile, his eyes gleaming, his mouth all teeth. “Do you remember what I did to you? Of course you do. How could you forget? Now, do you know what I did to Theon?” He studied her composure, drank it all in with glee, the rapid falling and rising of her bosom, the mild quivering of her lower lip. “Yes, you seem to remember that alright. Reek must have told you after you two ran off together. Let’s just say, take all that, and make it a hundred times worse, that’s what I did to your beloved Petyr.”

His grin widened. “I even chained him up naked in the cellar, let my dogs fuck him raw.” That last statement came with a giddy little laugh. Sansa felt sick. She wanted to stop listening, stop Ramsay from putting these horrible images in her head, she wanted to turn around and flee, but he tightened his grip around her waist and pulled her even closer. She felt the disgusting bulge in his trousers as it hardened and pressed against her. “Me and Myranda used to watch him. We loved it. I let my dogs have him so often that eventually, he learned to love it too.” He laughed loudly now. His voice sounded like nails scratching over a blackboard. It repulsed her. She imagined how much better it would sound if his throat was torn wide open by one of his own disgusting mutts.

“The sad thing is, I think he must have cried out your name at least a thousand times. The poor sod never stopped hoping that you will come back for him, right till the very very end.” He swirled her around again, and gleefully observed the damage that he had done to her. “He was bat-shit crazy by the time I got bored torturing him. You should have seen him really. It was truly heartbreaking. He used to be such a cunning, proud, formidable man. All that was just gone. He had become such a scarred, pathetic broken thing. He begged me for anything. Food, water, or comfort, or even for me to fuck him so I would stop hurting him. Oh, and he begged me to let him keep his silver mocking bird. He told me it was all he had left of you. My dear wife, your Petyr died in hell, waiting for you.” He finally concluded, his words rasping in her ear, his face faking compassion.

A waiter came by, holding up a tray filled with crystal glasses filled to the rim with champagne. Sansa grabbed hold of a champagne flute and smashed it against Ramsay’s face. Glass splintered, shattered all over the marble floor, and the music halted. Everyone stopped dancing and glanced in her direction. Sansa blinked her eyes. A shard stuck out Ramsay's left cheek. She watched with silent content how a narrow stream of crimson started to drip from the cut.

“You fucking bitch!” Ramsay roared. The brute anger in his voice echoed through the vast space, startling everyone around him.

Sansa knew she should run, but instead she remained right where she was, her chin raised in defiance. She felt no longer afraid. Ramsay’s poison had leached all of that right out of her. What remained was a deep sense of grief and self-loathing for what had been done to poor Petyr, and a burning desire to avenge him. She was almost shaking of rage, and had not felt this much hatred for anyone since she had faced Ramsay in the fields, right before the battle of the Bastards, when she watched Rickon die. 

But foolish anger makes brave lions of timid housecats, and she really should have run while she still had the chance.

“You are so dead! You are so fucking dead!” Ramsay yelled, loud enough for all to hear. He didn’t give a fuck anymore about keeping up pretence. His mild manners and paper thin charm had all evaporated, and he was back to the Ramsay of old, the violent, sneering, sadistic bully who thrived on preying on the weak.

“You want to see him again? You really want to? Let me help you with that!” He grabbed her by her arm and pulled her behind him as he rushed out of the ball room. “What the fuck are you all staring at me for?!” He shouted at the others. “You’re invited to a party! Fucking act like you’re in one! It’s not a bloody funeral!” He turned to Sansa. “Well…at least not theirs.” Sansa desperately glanced over her shoulder as she was removed further and further away from the crowd, and noted with growing panic that all attending seemed to follow Ramsay’s orders and were dutifully looking away. But just when the band started playing again, and she thought she should abandon all hope, someone finally stepped in.

“Mister Bolton. I believe this young lady would like you to let her go.” The voice was calm and kind, and carried a hint of authority that naturally came with age. A very tall gentleman was barring their way. He was somewhere in his mid 50-ties, with a long gaunt face and grey hair, combed back neatly. His eyes were grey as well, and showed concern when his gaze fell on the red fingerprints that Ramsay had left behind on her arm.

She saw Ramsay’s expression change from angry to genuine surprise. “Lord Arryn.” He murmured, and a much faked grin swept over his face, quickly hiding his darker intentions. “I certainly have not expected to see you here. I thought you have declined my father’s invitation?”

“Have I?” The other man said, faking surprise. “No, I don’t think I did.” He was smoking, and took a long drag from his cigarette. “Your father is a very popular man according to the latest polls. It wouldn’t surprise me if we become colleagues soon. I was truly looking forward to meet him here and to get to know him better in a less formal setting away from office.” He blew out a string of smoke and calmly gestured at Sansa. “You and the young lady have a quarrel, I believe?”

“Oh nothing to worry about.” Ramsay laughed, pulling her closer. “Sansa and I are very old friends. We were just fooling around, aren’t we darling?”

“Let - me - go!” She finally saw her chance and shrugged his arm off her before she fled to the side of the other man.

Ramsay was left standing alone, furious and repeatedly clenching and un-clenching his hands. It was only then that Sansa noticed a strange marking on Ramsay’s left palm. It was shaped like a black circle, as if someone has marked him with a branding iron.

“Are you alright my dear?” Jon Arryn said in a kind voice.

Sansa nodded. “Could you please get me away from here?”


“Ah come on! You don’t want to stay a bit longer?” Ramsay said, still wearing that fake grin on his face. “We were just starting to have some serious fun.”

“I believe the lady wants to leave Ramsay.” Jon Arryn said, putting a gentle hand on the small of her back. “I will escort her out and come back later to speak to your father.”

Sansa thought she might be going mad, but she believed she recognized all this. Lord Arryn's calm composure, the way he spoke in a low, polite, non-threatening voice, and yet was silently demanding, forcing his will on Ramsay. Petyr used to speak and act exactly in the same manner.  

Lord Arryn. The name sounded familiar. His face looked familiar. She had read about him and had seen his face on many news sites online. She had watched this composed man give interviews to the press. Lord Jon Arryn. She reminded herself, of course, he is the party leader of the conservatives. He is standing for general election this year. And yet…there was something else about him…Petyr had mentioned him to her…long ago, when he was still whole and brilliant and her tutor…

“Of course.” Ramsay said, pretending he didn’t mind or care. “Go ahead.”

“Did you drive here?” Lord Arryn asked Sansa as they made their way out, walking side by side. She didn’t have to look back to know what Ramsay was doing right now. She could almost feel his hateful gaze stinging in her back.

“No, I came here with a cab.”

“Then I will bring you home.” Lord Arryn bowed his head to her and whispered in a low voice. “He’s still looking and one of his men is following us, but he won’t dare to do anything when he sees that you’re staying with me.”

Sansa only dared to breathe normal again when they were standing outside.

“Thank you for helping me to get rid of him.” She said. A long black car pulled up the drive way. A chauffeur got out to open the door for her and the older man.

“There is no need to thank me miss Stark.” Lord Arryn gestured that she should get in first.

“You know me?” She asked as she slid over the back seat of the car.

The tall man sat down next her. “You’re Sansa Stark, the daughter of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully. You work as a freelance writer for the Guardian.” Lord Arryn noted the worried look on her face. “Forgive me, I have the annoying habit of wanting to find out almost everything about anyone I am interested in before I start dealing with them.” He took a final drag on his cigarette before he flung it out of the sidewindow with a casual flick of his fingers.

“You were interested in me?” Sansa asked, when the car drove down the driveway.

“Not exactly. I was interested in Roose Bolton’s son, Ramsay. I don’t want to alarm you, but the young lad hired a private detective to spy on you. It has been going on for months now. That’s why my people notified me about you.”

“He had someone following me all this time?” She was disgusted and she was worried about her family, but felt no real fear for herself.

“Yes. It made me rather curious why he did it. You’re not lovers, friends, or even acquaintances. For as far as my sources go, you have never even met each-other before tonight. Do you have any idea why is so interested in you?”

“Maybe it’s because of the articles I wrote about his father and his many elusive businesses.” Sansa opted. She didn’t want to tell him the truth. The truth was too strange and mad to be believed by anyone. She had learned that much over the last five years.

“Yes, they were quite critical and very much to the point.” There was a smile on his face that told her that he didn’t entirely believe her, but that he would let it rest for now. “I must say, I liked most of them.”

Sansa had her own questions. “You’re lord Jon Arryn, the party leader of the conservatives. You’re running against Roose Bolton of the labor party in the upcoming campaign. Why are you attending one of his private parties?”

“He invited me. It’s only polite to show up. I always make sure that I know my political enemies better than my friends. Only a foolish man would do otherwise.” He gazed out into the darkened countryside for the while before he continued. “So miss Stark, why are you so critical about the Boltons? Why do you distrust them so much?”

“If you have read what I still managed to get published about them, you know why.” She said, her voice suddenly stern. “I have written about the suspicions the Scottish police department has that the entire Bolton’s family fortune was made with drug deals, forced prostitution and extortion. There are countless stories of families in the north who were threatened by Roose Bolton with violence and ruin if they refused to sell him their businesses or their farmlands. His vile son has a fair share in all sorts of illegal activities, including human trafficking in Belgium and the Netherlands. Long story short, These people are scum. They are the equivalent of human sharks preying on the weak. We need to get them behind bars, not on the benches of parliament or as a matter of fact, in any position of power.”

She paused and feared that the fire in her condemning statements would make him doubt her sanity. Instead, he gazed back at her with much fascination and a quiet sort of admiration.

“I can see that you are very passionate about your cause.” He told her. “But to the general public, your story might seem too one-sided. Roose Bolton is well known for his charity work. He donated great sums to a great number of good causes and has initiated many local projects that had benefited the northern region. The local voters, especially those who don’t know him too well, all love him.”

“It’s just his way of buying himself a seat in government. Believe me, nobody who really deserved help have benefited from anything the Boltons did. Only people from his own network, particular those who are useful to him and protect him politically are getting richer and are gaining more power in the region, while everybody else who are against the Boltons are financially ruined or are removed from office. It’s disgusting, the evidence is right there for everyone to see, and yet no-one stops them because anyone who still has the power to do so is either already bought or too scared to act. If this election goes the way the polls have predicted, soon there won’t be anybody left who can.”

“My dear child. I am aware how dangerous and brazenly corrupt this family truly is. It still strikes me though that you are so driven to bring them to justice. It’s almost like you have a personal feud with them.”

“Maybe it has become personal.” Sansa whispered, thinking of all the horrid things Ramsay had revealed to her, and seeing in her mind's eye the scars on Petyr’s body as he lay there, silent and cold in his coffin. Ramsay did this. He killed Petyr. He made him suffer so much that it pushed him over the edge.

“I admire your great sense of morality miss Stark, but it is a dangerous thing, to let such passions rule your actions. My people informed me that it has already cost you your job as a staff member of the Daily Herald. Roose pulled a few strings to get you fired. Also, judging by the way how Ramsay Bolton has been keeping an eye on you, they might be planning something that could put you or your family in great danger.”

“I am not afraid.” I want them to suffer, just like I and my family and Petyr have suffered by their sadistic hands. I want them dead.

“The question is not if you are afraid.” His gazed on her intensified, studying her, weighing her. “Do you think that this is all worth it? Are your believes and principles worth risking everything you have to prevent someone like Roose Bolton getting into power?”

“Yes.” She replied, without hesitation, thinking only of revenge. “I would do anything to stop that monster.”

“Good.” Jon Arryn said, his voice firm and sincere. “So would I.” He turned his head and gazed out of window again. He didn’t say anything for the rest of the ride, not until they drove down her street and stopped in front of her family home. “I believe this your place miss Stark.”

The chauffeur opened the door for her. Sansa stepped out.

“Thank you again.” She said to Lord Arryn. “If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know what would have happened to me.”

“It was my pleasure. After reading your articles, I already had much admiration for you miss Stark, and that has only grown after tonight. You kept your calm.”

“That’s how it is when you deal with people like the Boltons.” Sansa replied. “You should never show them any fear. Never let the world see you tremble.”

There was a look of surprise, followed by an amused smile. “Did your father teach you that my child?”

“No.” Sansa said, and felt a pang of grief in her heart. “A very dear friend once said that to me. I always remember his wise lessons.” She turned and was about to walk back to the house when Lord Arryn called her back.

“Miss Stark.” He held out a business-card to her, his long arm stretching out of the window. “I forgot to give you this. Visit me in my office next Monday. You’re still jobhunting, are you not? I could use a new campaign assistant.”

Sansa gazed up at him, realizing what he was offering her.

“I am not sure that I am qualified.”

“I am looking for someone with an strong moral compass, who is driven and completely devoted to our cause. You seem qualified enough to me.” He smiled at her, and suddenly she remembered what Petyr had once said about Jon Arryn. The old Hand of the king had been Petyr's turor when he was younger. This man had taught him everything he knew, how to play the difficult political game, how to survive at court and deal with is enemies…and now, that same brilliant man was going to take her under his wing. He regards the Boltons as much as threat as I do. 

After all the horror and grief she had experienced tonight, there was much comfort and consolation to be found in these revelations. Ever since she took notice of the Boltons when she was a junior staff member at the Heralds and had fought to bring the truth of their many crimes to light, she had been alone in her battles. She wouldn't be alone anymore. 

Oh, and do send my love to your father.” Jon Arryn said.

“My father?”

“Didn’t he tell you? I looked after him briefly. I was his legal guardian after your grandfather died.”

“But that’s uncle Jon. You’re uncle Jon?” Sansa blurted out in disbelief.

A smile came from Jon Arryn, then the sidewindow rolled up and the car engine started. “See you next Monday miss Stark.”

 

3.

The church was old, like numerous other buildings in Bruges. The dark interior was adorned with the imagery of saints, angels, and bleeding Christ figures in every niche and corner and stained glass window. Petyr was sitting at the back in one of the last rows of benches, his shaking hands tucked between his thighs to keep them warm. The place reminded him of the Sept back in the Red Keep Asylum. It worried him a little that he didn’t exactly mind sitting here, staring at the statues and the flames of the many candles in the dark.

“There you are.” Petyr didn’t have to glance over his shoulder to know that it was Clegane. “I was looking for you all over this medieval shit hole.” He came standing next to him, his ruined brows furrowed into a frown. “I thought you said you didn’t believe in benevolent Gods? What the fuck are you doing in a church then?”

“It’s the only place where I can get a bit of piece and quiet.” Petyr sighed, keeping his eyes on a statue that was mounted high up in a niche in a stone pillar right in front of him. “You see that one over there?” he pointed out to Sandor. “I just found out who that is. One of the tourists who came in here sat right next to me and read it out to his wife from his 4 euro guide book.”

“And? Who the fuck is he?”

“Peter of Bethsaida. He is one of the apostles and supposedly a saint.”

“You don’t have much in common with him then.” Sandor said with a sneer of a smirk.

“Do you know what his job is?”

“No, and I don’t fucking care, but I am sure you’re going to tell me anyway.”

“He holds the key to the gates of paradise.”

“So what? He’s like a bouncer who keeps the trouble makers out of the good places?”

“You could say that.” Petyr said pensively. “You see that book he’s holding? It is supposed to contain the complete list of all the souls, of everyone who ever lived and is going to be born into this world, everyone who is considered to be good enough to be allowed in.” He glanced up at Sandor. “So, what do you think?”

“Nothing, except that I am fucking bored.”

“It’s not a very thick book, is it?” Petyr pointed out to him. “Certainly when you consider that we’re now living on a planet with what - like 7.6 billion people? I bet there is hardly any one on that short shitty little list of his.” Petyr added with unfeigned resentment and hostility. “I bet it starts with Jesus, followed by Josef and his wife, and then a bunch of Jesus’s his best mates, and that’s it. The end. The rest of us are all just fucking screwed.”

“Are you done with spewing out your frustrations?” Sandor rasped, rolling his eyes at him. “I swear, one of these days I am going to write a book to get rid of my mine.”

“Really?” Petyr grinned, half turning around to meet his eyes. “I mean, you and writing? You can hardly spell right.” He teased. “Do you need my help?”

“Yeah sure.” Sandor replied. He was used to him being a complete cock, and he knew how to deal with it. “You know what I will call it?”

“Oh do tell me.”

“Shit lord Bealish says.” He held up his hand, spreading wide his thumb from forefinger. “It’s going to be like this thick, like a fucking phone book.”

“I think you will find that you would need to publish it in several volumes as well.” Petyr said, looking amused.

“I don’t fucking doubt it.” A grin finally appeared on Clegan’s face. “You still want to know why I am here?”

“You like my company?”

“Like a fucking molar extraction I do. I rather stick my dick in a badger hole. It’s less depressing and less painful.” Then his mood for banter cleared for something far more serious. “I am here to tell you that we have found her.”

Petyr’s eyes lit up, immediately he was alarmed and alert. “You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

“How is she?” He dreaded to ask him this, for he feared that he already knew the answer.

“Not as bad as you thought she would be, but pretty fucking bad.”

Petyr let that sink in for a while, then he nodded slowly and rose from his seat. “Call the boys and tell them to get ready.” He said to Sandor as he walked out of the church, wringing his half frozen hands. “I want her to be safe before nightfall.”

 

4.

The large villa half hidden in the forest in the Belgium countryside was very much on fire by the time Petyr arrived with Sandor.

“Fucking hell!” Sandor rasped. He stepped out of the car but kept his distance, not keen to get this close to a blazing inferno. “It’s hotter here than in Satan’s fucking anus.”

One of the Italians who was working for Petyr showed up with a cigarette between his teeth and a machine gun swinging from his shoulder. “Something wrong?” he asked, when he noted his boss’s face.

“Yeah there is.” Petyr sneered. “I didn’t tell you to burn the whole place down, did I? Please at least tell me that you didn’t leave her inside, or am I just overestimating your IQ and underestimating how fucked up you are to expect such rationality?”

“Oh don’t you worry, she is safe boss. Amadeo got her out. It’s just easier this way to deal with Ramsay’s men.” He said, chewing on one end of his cigarette while he talked, like a cow chewing on the end of a straw. “Some of them are still hiding out in the cellar. So I thought, let’s just torch the place. This way, we can make sure they are all dead.”

He had barely finished his sentence, before a round of bullets was fired at them. One of Ramsay’s men came running out of the house, his hair and shirt on fire, while he swung his machine gun for side to side. Petyr, Sandor, and the Italian henchman ducked for cover. They hid behind an oversized garden shed, just when Petyr’s Italian gang started firing back. There was a sick sweet smell of charred meat in the air, when Petyr watched the crazed burning man go down, his chest sieved through with bullet holes, as a triangular spray of blood exploding in the air.

“Or...when they come out of hiding you can mow them down, right here on the lawn. Brilliant. Everyone who isn’t deaf living within a mile from here must have heard this. How fucking discrete.” Petyr muttered, using his sarcasm as a much needed shield while his heart rattled inside his chest while he tried to recover his nerves. No matter how often he witnessed these gruesome things, it still managed to shake him to the core. How utterly pathetic, he thought, I am some sort of a mob boss now, and still I cannot stomach all this death and violence. I was supposed to keep my hands clean this time, what ever happened to that plan?

It was on days like these that he wished he could still let Littlefinger out to deal with this horror.

His hand shook a little more then it normally did when he fished out his phone from his pocket. “How long has this been burning?” He asked, punching in a few keys.

“A couple of minutes, maybe 10 or 15. Why?”

“For fuck’s sake.” Petyr sighed, shaking his head while his let his phone ring. “Ros-” His voice mellowed down when she picked up. No matter how fucked up things were, looking at her, or just hearing her voice always managed to calm him down. She reminded him so much Sansa. “No we’re not back yet. Sandor and I are still stuck in Belgium with a couple of morons. Listen, I need you to do something for me. Please call inspector Jacobs. That’s J-A-C-O-B-S. You’ll find his number in my list of contacts. You know the password. Call him immediately, and tell him to pull a few strings, make sure the fire and police department does not respond to any calls asking for assistance for this particular address that I am sending you right now. For how long?” Petyr stared at the burning inferno. Impossibly high flames were shooting right through the blackened hole in the roof. Surely, he couldn’t let this go on for ever. There was a small patch of very dry looking pine woodland right behind the villa that was just itching to catch fire. Even though Jacobs owed him a large favor, there would be limits in what the senior officer could sweep under the carpet for him. “Uhm, I’ll give you sign when they can show up again. No I don’t sound stressed.” He replied, a little louder than he had intended, and sounding indeed much stressed. “Don’t worry about me, really. I have plenty of complete incompetent people around to vent my frustrations on. It’s like a bloody therapy session here. I’ll speak to you later.” He quickly hung up before Ros could ask him about his medication.

“Did you tell her that you threw out dr. Rajan’s pills?” Sandor said. His lips pulled into a smug grin.

“You want her to be on my phone for the rest of the afternoon?” Petyr replied, quite irritated. Although he now did actually regret that he had also got rid of the heavy duty tranquilizers directly after they had arrived at the airport in Antwerp. His false confidence often proved to be such an inconvenient error.

“Right.” Petyr said to the Italian, after they have waited for a while and were sure that no one in the cellar was left alive. “Where is she?”

“Behind us in the garden shed. She is in quite a state.”

He had feared that she would be. When Petyr entered the shed, Amadeo was still by her side, taking care of her many wounds. Jeyne Poole was 25 summers young when Petyr first met her in a rooftop party in Singapore in one of the iconic hotels overlooking the bay. She was an attractive brunette, her light silk summer dress fluttering around her curves in the hot tropical wind as she danced and raised her flute of bubbly champagne at him while they both watched a golden sunset. She had also been very confident, so much so that Petyr almost felt like she had seduced him instead of the other way around. Now, the same woman was huddling in the corner of a dirty wooden shed, naked except of the oversized coat that his henchman had draped around her shoulder. The chains with which she had been shackled to the wall had been cut through, but the metal cuffs had shafted her delicate skin and had left ugly marks on her wrists. Worse still, over her entire body, she had scars that Petyr knew were left behind by a whip, a knife, or were the products of ferocious attacks by Ramsay’s mutts. The sorry sight of her made him feel repentant, and sick to the stomach. He could have been looking at his own body, at what was now hidden underneath his fancy suit and immaculate clean shirt, but what had scarred him mentally for life.

There were smudges of cherry red lipstick on her cheeks.

Petyr could hear the mad barking of Ramsay’s dogs that were chained with him in the dark cellar. You could pretend to be more Petyr,  Myranda warned him - but no matter how much you try, you will still be Ramsay’s bitch. She was laughing when she rammed a hard rigid stick up his tight hole till the flesh tore and blood started trickling down his shivering thighs. Then she dug her slender polished fingernails into the soft pink sensitive flesh of his balls, and kissed him where his tears had been streaming down his face, smearing her cherry red lipstick all over his cheek. Come on then you crying lunatic, come for me now. The sharp blade of Ramsay’s Swiss army knife was held at an angle at the base of his testicles, ready to part skin. Or...I am going to cut off these pathetic little things. You want to me to castrate you and make you into a proper bitch? Maybe I should be a little bit more creative and carve out a cunt in you, give the dogs another hole to play with.

Petyr shut his eyes, suppressing a shudder as he sucked in a deep breath to force himself to stop feeling anything. 

“Boss?” His henchman gazed up at him, his heavy brow knitted into a frown.

“Leave us.” He managed to say.

He crouched down to look her in the eyes.

“Jeyne?” His voice was soft and gentle. He remembered how horribly fragile he had been when Clegane finally came to rescue him from that cursed cellar. He didn’t want to traumatize the poor girl. She had suffered enough. “Jeyne Poole?” He whispered. “Don’t be frightened. They’re gone. The people who have hurt you are all gone. No-one is going to hurt you anymore. I am not going to let them. Look at me. Do you remember me?”

Two lidded eyes blinked slowly at him. “P-Paul?”

“Yes. Yes it’s me.” He smiled at her, and stroked her shoulder soothingly, calmingly. “Don’t worry. I will get you home. Everything is going to be alright from now on. You’re with me now. You’re safe. I would never hurt you.”

Liar. Littlefinger said, condemning him in the far back regions of his mind where he had confined him, knowing exactly what had truly had happened to the poor girl. You are a liar Petyr Bealish.

Petyr didn’t dare to contradict him.

 

5.

He was sitting on a bench, waiting in the corridor of the hospital outside Jeyne's room when his phone pinged, notifying him of an incoming message.

The One True Path: My dear Petyr, what do you think you’re doing? (Frowny face emoji)

Petyr sighed, much aggravated. He didn’t know what was more laughable and bizarre, that the Master of Spies had taken to whatsapp like a fish to water or that the eunuch had made up that barf-worthy pompous handle to communicate with him. Thinking of a reply, he stretched his ruined fingers before he started typing. In the last five years Petyr had trained often and long enough to be able to put something readable on the small screen, but every message he sent still contained for him an embarrassing amount of spelling errors. He preferred to keep his messages short.

Mockingbird: Juszt trying to get even. Don’t tell me that Ramsay zxand his bitch don’t deserve itk! It’s KARMA.

The One True Path: What about the collateral damage? Did you think of that before you acted? (Scream emoji).

Although Petyr felt a deep sense of guilt when he was reminded of Jeyne, his irritation with Varys still managed to make him roll his eyes at the tiny screen.

Mockingbird: Stop using those hkjlorrible overofdramatic cartoon faces to makefh your affing point.

Honestly, if communicating in pictograms was suffice for humanity, why did we ever bother to invent the written language in the first place? Why have Shakespeare and George Orwell and John Irving if we could just read cartoon comics from now on instead? What are we, simpleminded cavemen?

“Mister Tybeshire.” Petyr turned around. Paul Tybeshire. That was the name he had chosen for himself and what was now printed on his passport...and yet after 5 long years, he still noticed that he reacted a fraction of a second slower to that name then when Ros or Clegane called him by his real one.

“Mister Poole.” He stood up and walked over the older gentleman. Vayon Poole was naturally short of stature, but after he had seen his beloved daughter, he looked even smaller. It was almost like the man had shrunk, and was now almost vanishing inside his large overcoat.

“What did they say?” Petyr asked. “Is she going to be alright?”

“Yes.” He sounded so frail that one of his men came over to assist him, but he waved him away, too stubborn and proud to show frailty. Petyr understood this. In the line business the old man was in, showing any sign of weakness was like offering your throat to the wolves. “Although…those horrible wounds on her arms and legs -”

“I heard that from one the doctors who treated her. 55 stitches in total. They should keep an eye on her. She’s going to be in a lot of pain when the anesthetics wear off.”

“She going to be scarred for life you mean!” Vayon said, shaking and covering his hands over his eyes as his anger and grief were finally getting the better of him. “That fucking bastard!” He cried out, the harshness in his voice echoing through the corridor. “How could he do this to her? She was his fiancée. She was going to be his wife next spring! Has he no fucking shame!?” He kicked at the bench, sending it crashing into the tiled wall.

“I am sorry for what happened to her.” Petyr said. You have no idea old man, how truly sorry I am. I suffered through everything she went through, and still I had the heart to send her to the same hell. If only you knew, you would take the gun from one of your goons and shoot me in the head right where I am standing. I wouldn’t even blame you for it. It would be right. It would be justice.

But he didn’t know. “Why are you apologizing?” Mister Poole barked, almost like he was angry with Petyr for even suggesting that Paul Tybeshire, the man who Vayon sent out to rescue his precious daughter had any blame in this. “You didn’t do this to her! That bastard Ramsay Bolton and his over-jealous mad cunt of a girlfriend did this my poor Jeyne.”

“I still do feel partly responsible. When I first met Jeyne half a year ago in Singapore, and she told me she was going to get married to Ramsay Bolton, I should have warned her.”

“You knew how he was?”

“I have heard rumors about Ramsay. The lad has a certain reputation. Even if I am just small fry compared to you or the Boltons, the whole drug business on this island is still limited to a certain small group of entrepreneurs, and people talk.”

“Well you knew more than I did. I wish I had known. It already didn’t seem such a good idea at the time, I mean, in what time and age are we living? An arranged marriage! I should have read the signs on the wall really, but Roose Botlon had insisted. We should join our two great families together he said, and the UK market would become ours alone. Such a greedy old fool I was, to sell my only daughter to that maniac.” He bald his fists, his grey old eyes sharp and shining with rage. “Oh I wish I could get my hands on this sick pair of rabid dogs. Repay them for everything they have done to my beautiful Jeyne.” He ground his teeth so loud that Petyr could hear it from where he was standing.

“So? Why wouldn’t you?” His voice was calm, almost nonchalant, when he made the suggestion to him.

The old drug baron looked at him. “Me, take on Roose Bolton?” He snorted, knowing that it was impossible. “That would be like digging my own grave and that of my daughter with it. They are savages. They own half of the northern counties. They have powerful backing from similar crooks, ranging from politicians to local crime lords.”

“But they also have a lot enemies. I can assure you mister Poole, you’re not the only one who has problems with the Boltons. It’s true that many powerful men have received favors, but even a larger number have been wronged by them in one way or another, and the latter are increasingly outnumbering the others. I myself, would rather see them gone as well. There is very little room for my business to thrive with those Bolton sharks circling in the narrow pond.”

“They will kill you. They will kill me.”

“Not necessarily.” Petyr grinned. “As you can see, they are not infallible. I did bring your daughter back to you, as I have promised.”

“Yes, but rescuing my Jeyne is one thing, taking on the Boltons and wiping them from the map is quite another.”

“We should cooperate with like-minded souls. Only then can we beat them, step by step. It’s like lions on a hunt. One lion cannot achieve much, but grouped together into a formidable pride and with some patience and cunning, even the largest, most fearsome beast can be brought down and slaughtered.”

“And yet…it would not be without severe risks.”

“Have you seen your daughter, mister Poole? Did you take a good look at what they have done to her? Can you tell me in the face, that next time you meet with Roose Bolton in some boring board room meeting, that you will still be happy to shake his hand and keep your fake smile on your lips, when deep down you know, how his bastard son has completely ruined her?” Petyr paused, his blue grey eyes catching that of Vayon Poole’s. One look, and Petyr knew that the old man was going to take the bait. “Don’t tell me, that you don’t want revenge.” He concluded, putting more gasoline on the flames.

Vayon sighed deeply. It wasn’t an expression of grief, or helplessness, but a conscious act to temper the cold rage that was now burning in the pit of his stomach. “You spoke of patience and cunning. Do you have a plan for this, mister Tybeshire?”

Petyr smirked. “I was just waiting for you to ask.”

 

6.

The great hall of the Eyrie that represented Petyr’s mind refuge now housed a wire bird cage right in the middle, so large in size that it could contain a man. It hung from an iron hook van the ceiling, dangling dangerously above the open moon door and its deadly miles long drop.

Littlefinger, although he must be very uncomfortable in his straight-jacket, hardly dared to shift his weight from one side to the other. Petyr calmly strolled around the cage. In his hand he held a long stick which he rattled over the bars repeatedly. He noted, not without some pleasure, that Littlefinger looked truly afraid when the collision made the cage swing from side to side.

Still, Littlefinger would not be himself, if he could not hide his fear and continue to agitated him. “And?” He asked, when the swinging had finally stopped and he had regained some color on his face. “Did you enjoy pretending to be me? Did old Vayon Poole fall for it?”

“Why are you talking?” Petyr commented with a grin. With business concluded in Belgium, and Jeyne Poole brought back safely to his drug baron father, he was in such a good mood today. He wouldn’t let that his darker alter-ego ruin it so very easily. “Didn’t I gag you?” He noted.

“It’s your mind refuge Petyr. You do in here whatever the hell you want. So, if I am no longer silenced, could it be that you actually are receptive for my advice again?”

Petyr faked contemplating it for a moment. “Do you think so? Funny, I thought I have decided years ago that I would rather prefer to have your tongue cut out.”

“I just want to point out a few interesting observations to you.”

“Such as?”

“You are a hypocrite.” Littlefinger hissed, his anger surfacing.

“Am I now?” Petyr replied, and pushed with the end of the stick against the bars, sending the cage swinging again. His satisfaction grew when he saw Littlefinger swallowing hard and pushing himself against the cage floor. It was such a horrific long fall through the moon door, it must be terrifying for him.

“You lock me up in this cage.” Littlefinger finally said. “You keep me restrained. All this because you don’t want me to come out and hurt the people you care about, or do anything that would burden your precious conscience. It’s all very well, but then you realize that sometimes there are no other ways, that once in a while you need to do wrong to get things done. And then you let me out, and I still cause all the damage that you have tried so hard to prevent. The only difference is, when you’re faced with what you have done, with the people you have hurt, you blame me.”

“I didn’t let you out. You escaped.” Petyr said, although his lie even failed to even convince himself.

Littlefinger grinned. “I pity you Petyr, you’re so desperate now to keep that dirty soul of yours clean that you even lie to yourself.”

“No.” Petyr said, shaking his head fervently. “I remember it very clearly. It was you who talked and seduced Jeynr Poole in Singapore to get closer to her father, And it was you who hired the photographer to make those pictures of her with Ramsay, and sent it to Myranda.”

“Yes, but it wasn’t me who decided that the Poole girl was an useful piece to move around on your side of the board. You came up with this plan to make that crazy whore Myranda jealous. You knew what she would do to Vayon’s daughter after she finds out that Ramsay is betrothed to her. You ruined her innocence. I am as much accountable for your sins as the Hound is for your killings.”

“Stop it.” Petyr had dropped the stick and was grasping onto his little mockingbird pendant, fumbling it nervously. “Stop talking to me.”

But Littlefinger came closer to the bars, grinning, because he knew that despite everything, he was still the stronger one. He was still wining. “How is dear Jeyne by the way? Does her horrible scars bother you? Haunt you in your dreams? What now Petyr? Are you going to call that BDSM hooker again and order another round of lashing to punish yourself? You know how truly fucked up you are? Can you even function now without those dog pills from that horse doctor to calm you down?”

“Stop it!” Petyr yelled at him, nudging his ear against his shoulder, his head twitching like that of a jittery little bird. He had not done this since those horrid days back in the asylum. “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!”

“Look at you, you are so full of mad tics and amusing quirks that you’re just one step away from becoming a circus freak.” Littlefinger said, laughing now. “And I am the one who’s being kept in a cage and a straight-jacket!”

 

7.

Petyr woke up in his hotel room drenched in cold sweat and with the duvet twisted around his naked body like a creeper twisting around a tree. Littelfinger’s cruel mocking was still echoing in his mind. It was cold in the room. He had turned off the heating and had spent the night curled up on the floor with his back against the wall. He had long since found out he preferred it this way, especially when he was anxious, usually after he had done something horrible to some one, no matter if it was deserved or not. It reminded him of his first days in the asylum, when he used to sleep on the ground of his freezing isolation cell with nothing but a thin blanket to keep him warm.

Somehow, it felt right to him.

He wasn’t Littlefinger anymore who preferred to sleep in feather beds and didn’t get any nightmares of the people he had wronged or killed. He was Petyr, and he did have nightmares, and this was where he belonged. He tucked the duvet under his chin, wrapping it all around himself tightly till he was swaddled in it like an infant. I am sorry Jeyne. The thought went through his mind like a mantra. I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. His phone pinged. He reached for it, unaware that he was rocking himself back and front repeatedly.

There was another message from Varys.

The One True Path: And? Is taking revenge on Ramsay Bolton worth a part of your soul? What happened to Jeyne Poole is going to haunt you for the rest of your life. (Sad face emoji).

It was that fucking sad face meoji that brought him right back, snapped him out of his mental agony. Petyr stopped rocking and started typing, hitting one particular symbol repeatedly.

Mockingbird: (String of emoij middle fingers).

The phone started to ring. Petyr thought it would be Varys and was very reluctant to pick it up, then he saw on the display that the call came from someone who was less celestial but not less saintly. It was Ros who was calling him.

“Ros? What’s wrong?” He immediately asked. He knew it had to be urgent or she would not call him at this time. She knew more about his problems than he wanted her to, and she would not think of disturbing him in the middle of the night, completely convinced that he needed more rest.

“Petyr.” He heard her swallowing heard over the phone. “Mister Aleksei is here. He is here with his men, and he doesn’t want to leave before he gets to talk to you.”

A short silence as he tried to compose himself. “They didn’t do anything to you, did they?” His voice was calm, but his heart was rattling inside his chest. Pretending to be Littlefinger didn’t come easy to him. Littlefinger never had cared about anyone except for himself. He had nothing to lose. Petyr had so much to lose right now. If anything would happen to Ros, or Clegane, or Sansa...he would not be able to live with himself.

“I am alright. Your boys are protecting me, but he insists that you will turn up tomorrow. They are armed Petyr.” There was real fear in her voice. “They showed up with guns and everything. There is also a large van parked right outside the house, right on the driveway. I have no idea what’s in there, but I sent Dean, and he told me that he could hear someone screaming inside.”

“It’s alright, don’t worry.” He was frantically looking for his clothes, and pulled his shirt and trousers from the back of the chair. “I’ll catch the first flight back with Clegane and will be home before noon. Just make sure that you keep yourself safe will you? Leave the house if you can.” He was putting on his shirt in such a rush that he didn’t even notice that it was inside out.

“I tried, but they won’t let me.” A short pause. “Petyr, you are not in any real trouble, are you? Are they going to hurt you when you come back? Please stay! Stay where you are and keep Sandor close if you are in trouble.”

“I am not in trouble.” He tried to sound bold and in control of the whole situation, but his own voice, laced thick with worries, kept seeped through the song that he was imitating from Littlefinger. He sucked in a deep breath to steady his nerves. He couldn't let himself fall apart. There was too much at stake right now. “Just stay safe. It’s going to be okay. Trust me Ros.” He hung up and rushed out of the hotel room to get Sandor.

 

Notes: That's it, see you next week (hopefully) or keep updated via my Tumblr account.

 

Chapter Text

 

Notes: Suggested Music tracks:

For parts 7-9

Shape of my heart

 

7.

The moment Petyr stepped inside his own living room, he could feel 8 pairs of eyes following his every movement. Only one of those was friendly. He found Ros standing almost motionless in a corner near the window. She looked worried, and nervous.

Two of Aleksei’s men shut the doors behind him, and there was no way left to flee. Petyr glanced up at Ros, who returned to him a nervous smile to let him know that she was alright. It only managed to calm him down slightly.

“Mister Aleksei.” Petyr faked a smile and strolled forward, his hands turned up to the Russian as if in a friendly gesture, but really it was to show that he was unarmed, unlike Aleksei’s men, who all had their guns aimed at Petyr. “I have not expected to find you here. What unfavorable wind has brought you to my doorstep?”

“Mister Tybershire, I am glad to see that you are back.” The Russian mobster said, grinning a mouth filled with gold-capped ivory. He was large and round, his face pudgy with of a blue expansion of veins crawling underneath his skin. His voice was soft, and dangerous. “I heard from your lovely assistant that you were on a business trip to the continent. I do hope that the matters you were attending were close to my heart and that you were successful.”

“If you want to know how it went, certainly a phone call would be suffice?”

"Excuse me." Aleksei was still grinning, faking politeness while the red laser dots of six shotguns continued to dance over Petyr's chest. "My English is not so good. I particularly have trouble with what you English call sarcasm. I may have misunderstood this, but can I assume that you’re not glad to see me?”

“You can assume that alright.” Petyr said, his gaze hardened, and the polite smile vanished from his face. “What are you doing here, showing up in my home like this? Threatening me and my people?”

The grin quickly disappeared from the Russian mobster’s face when 10 of Petyr’s men soundlessly moved from behind the curtains and the narrow gap that had opened up between one of the book cases and the wall. They had sneaked into the living room via a secret network of passageways and were pointing their guns at the Russian gangster. “Please.” Mister Aleksei, still pretending to be calm, slipped his hand down to the colt hanging from his belt, but then Sandor appeared and cocked his gun with the end of the barrel rammed against his skull.

"One more move with your cunt hand, and I'll redecorate the nice white walls in here with the insides of your ugly mug." The Hound nudged his head at Petyr who smirked back at Aleksei. "He said he needed redecorating anyway."

"Please." The Russian mobster said, raising his hands in surrender. "There is no need for any of this."

"Isn't there?" Peter sneered. "Didn't you see any need in pointing a gun at my accountant only yesterday?" He glanced over his shoulder at Ros. She gave him a slight shake of the head, meaning that she would rather have him stop pushing this any further.

“It was not my intention to scare the lovely lady.” There was definitely a hint of begging in the Russian’s otherwise arrogant manners. “Mister Tybershire, I would very much appreciate if we could stay…how do you say this in English? Civilized.”

“Tell your men to stand down, and I shall return the favor.”

 He did, and the Russians gangsters lowered their guns. Petyr order his men to do the same.

Aleksei straightened his collar and moved away from the Hound, who continued to glare at him with an icy stare that made him feel quite uncomfortable. “You must understand, I mean you no disrespect." He laughed nervously. "It’s just that me and my associates are starting to get very worried. We have invested a lot of money in your businesses, and you have promised us a great deal in return.”

“Exclusivity to the escort market in Belgium and the Netherlands. Yes I remember what I have promised you. I am not a goldfish with a brain the size of a grain of wheat who constantly needs reminding.”

“And yet the benefit of our collaboration remains to materialize for our side of the bargain.”

“I told you, the Boltons own the entire sex business over there. They have hundreds of thugs working for them to ensure that their interests shall remain protected. If we want to break their monopoly to get a hold on the European market, we need help.”

“And? Did you manage to attain it? I know about your attempts to make a deal with Vayon Poole, but I also heard that his daughter is going to be married off to Roose Bolton’s son soon. I would think that this would complicate matters severely for you.”

"Jeyne Poole was engaged to Ramsay Bolton. She isn’t anymore.” Petyr said, smiling smugly. Oh how he hated it that men like Aleksei always underestimated him so very easily. “They had, shall we say, a little dispute? Now her father wants their blood. I did speak to Vayon Pool. He agreed to assist us in our plans. From next month onward, he will help us to clear out all the clubs owned by the Boltons and intercept their resource lines to cut off their supply from Eastern Europe. He has also sworn to not intervene when you and associates step into the vacuum left behind after all the dust has settled. If everything goes to plan, you will have your delectable human flesh market all set up and running in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Brussels before the end of this summer.”

“Oh that’s very good news!” Aleksei laughed, clapping in his hands, his row of gold caps shining. “You achieved this just from one visit? I am impressed!”

Petyr smirked sourly. It certainly would appear so to this greedy idiot, but it had taken years of planning and getting close to Jeyne Poole to compromise this alliance by exploiting Myranda’s weaknesses. Petyr knew he could rely on her pathological possessiveness of Ramsay to ruin things for the Boltons, but the crazed bitch still needed a well-aimed push to get her jealous enough to make her actually carry out the abduction of the drug baron’s daughter. All in all, it had cost Petyr a lot of time, efforts, and not to mention, a big chunk of his burdened soul, to get where he was now.

So he was going to make damned sure that every sacrifice he had made was going to be worth all of his blood, sweat and tears.

"I scheduled a meeting with Vayon and his associates next week to talk us through the details. Now if you would excuse me for being a terrible host, I had an early flight and very little sleep, which makes me rather irritable.” Petyr walked pass Aleksei's guards and swung open the door. “So please leave, before my clumsy hands accidentally give the wrong signal to my men.”

Finally content, the Russians started to make their exit. “Before we go.” Aleksei said to Petyr. “Let me offer you a gift, to make up for any inconveniences.” He clapped his hands and one of his goons presented him with a large dome shaped object, covered under a black silk cloth.

Petyr noted that it was a wire cage with a creature flapping inside. “What is this?” He asked, narrowing his eyes.

“I heard from my contacts that you like to keep exotic birds.” The Russian said, very pleased with himself. “This one, I was assured, is a very rare type of bird.”

Petyr lifted a corner to take a peek inside. For a moment he remained silent, his face a blank mask. “Thank you." Petyr finally said, hiding his dismay with a smile that did not reach his eyes. "This most precious gift is very rare indeed.” 

Mister Aleksei didn’t notice it. “I also leave you another present. The van on the driveway, we intercepted it last Friday. It’s one of Ramsay Bolton's. It was a rather strange shipment, heading for the east to Moscow instead of the other way around. I understand you love beautiful things. You still own a few brothels in London, don’t you?"

"I do." There was a slight twist in the corner of Petyr’s mouth that might have revealed his utter scorn and detest for this second so-called gift, but this too was too subtle to be noticed by the Russian gangster. “How thoughtful of you.“ Petyr just said, keeping his polite smile on his face, but opening the door a little wider so that the Russians could all fuck off a little faster. "We shall keep in contact for next week."

Petyr was visibly shaking of anger after Aleksei was gone. “Did he hurt you?” He asked Ros.

Ros shook her head and seemed to be more concerned about him. “Petyr.” She muttered, laying a hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright?”

“Tell Dean to keep a file on mister Aleksei.” His voice was calm, but he was sucking in his rage. He just didn’t want to upset her. “I want him and his disgusting gang of thugs rolled up as soon as we are finished with the Boltons.” He handed her the bird in the cage. “This was stolen last week form London zoo." He pointed out. "There were two of them. The thieves accidentally killed the other one when it got stuck in the wire fence. For fuck’s sake, there are only 14 of them left in the entire world and that Russian lard-cake fucking kills off the female of the only breeding pair in captivity!”

He spun around and rushed out while he signaled to Clegane and two of his men to follow him.

“Where you going?” Ros asked, going after them. She had not completely understood what the Russian had meant with his second gift, but Petyr had understood him perfectly.

“That bastard has offered me a van full of kidnapped women that were being trafficked by the Boltons to eastern Europe.” Petyr explained to Ros while they made their way out of the house and up the driveway. “That was the screaming you told me about.”

“My God.” Ros muttered, visibly shocked.

“God has nothing to do with this. It's all the work of that Satan's spawn Ramsay. They have been kept in that van since last Friday, without fresh air, water or food. We need to get them out before we have a pile of corpses on our hands.” He turned to Sandor. “Shut the gates. No one comes in here, no visitors, no deliveries, not even the fucking mailman, not until this mess is cleaned up!”

Petyr let his men force the lock. A horrid smell of human waste and stale sweat and urine assaulted their senses when the doors swung wide open. A sea of faces, all angst-ridden and miserable looking, stared back at them from the dark bowels of the van. Ros clutched her hand to her bosom when she saw the terrible state the women inside the truck were in.

Petyr climbed up the back of the van. He was suddenly confronted with his own ugly sin turned flesh when he stared into these rows of hollowed eyed gazes, each of their bruised and abused presence a reminder of what he had done to poor Jeyne Poole. He forced back the sick feeling that rose from the pit his stomach and made a mental note that whatever happened, he was going to make sure that Aleksei was going to pay. He was going to fucking destroy that sick Russian bastard.

“Get them out. Get everyone out.” He took off his jacket and draped it over the shoulders of a thin young girl with who was gazing up at him with large fearful eyes from behind a curtain of greasy long hair. She was cuffed with her hands to a railing that ran along the side of the van, and whimpered when Clegane used a heavy-duty bolt cutter to set her free. “Don’t be scared.” Petyr whispered. “You are safe now. No one is going to hurt you here.” Somewhere in the back of his mind, Littlefinger was calling him a hypocrite. “Bring them inside, give them water. Feed and clothe them.” He told Ros. “Call your friend dr. Rajan and ask him to come immediately. They need a check up.”

Ros nodded and led the first group of miserable looking girls away from the van while Petyr and Sandor and the others continued to help the remaining women.

“Clegane.” Petyr called, when he was finally getting to other end after being confronted with row after row of human misery. “Get a stretcher. There is one lying down here at the back.” He put a hand on the girl's shoulder, encouraging her to turn over. “Are you alright?”

"Littlefinger." Petyr froze when the injured girl slowly turned around. The face that stared right back at him from the dark made his heart stumble. As fast as lightening, she jumped up and looped her chains around his neck.

Arya Stark!? Petyr could hardly suck in another breath before the chains began to choke him. Like the other kidnapped women, she must have been severely dehydrated and weakened, and yet it surprised him how deadly effective she was. There was a hell of a lot of strength in the grip of this frail looking girl.

“Why are you working for Roose Bolton?” The icy voice with which she interrogated him was like the crack of a whip, or a deadly gunshot in the dark.

“I- I d-on’t.”

“What are you doing with these women?” She barked again in his ear.

Petyr could not say much with the little air that was left inside his lungs. His eyes darted from side to side, desperate, panicking, his ruined hands clawing at the chain around his throat. Clegane and his men around him were shouting, while confusing visions of Ned Stark and Jon Snow choking the life out of him came bubbling up from his memories. Ah the Starks, quick temper, slow minds…

Is this how it was going to end? I am getting killed yet again by Sansa’s crazy little psycho sister before I can even begin to give the Boltons what they deserve. And I have tried so hard this time…How completely, utterly unfair…Even if I did deserved some of this. I – just, I want more time…please… Sansa…She is not safe – not safe…His final thoughts evaporated from his mind when his vision started to turn grey. His eyes rolled back in his skull, just when Arya was hit in the chest with the teaser bolt that Clegane fired at her.

 

8.

He was slammed against the wall of his own brothel with such force that it knocked the air right out of him. Petyr wanted to say something, but couldn’t, the powerful grip tightening around his throat was quickly reducing the opening of his windpipe to the size of that of a narrow straw.

“You’re a funny man, hey?” Ned Stark said, his eyes full of fury. “A very funny man.”

Petyr was gazing up, half-remembering that right about now, before he was going to black out, Cat was going to save him from this brute, that any second now, she was going to stick her head out of that window and show her mindless ox of a husband that she was safe and that he wasn’t lying…only there was no window on the second floor. In fact, there was no second floor. He wasn’t thrown by Ned Stark against the wall of one of his whorehouses either, he was inside one of the bare padded cells, back in the asylum, restrained in a straight-jacket, so he couldn’t even claw at Ned’s hands trying to get them off.

“Why are you stalking my daughter?” Ned was dressed in a light blue tunic and a white doctor’s coat. So he was a doctor then. Of course he is. If I am an inmate in here, then what else could the honorable lord Stark be. Petyr’s much confused brain just accepted it, although he couldn’t imagine any less suitable occupation for the late Hand of the King then something in the medical profession, in which he had to actually think things through before he acted. But he is probably just a psychiatrist. You really don't need even a half a brain to get to be a psychiatrist. His lungs felt like they were on fire and it was starting to get black again in front of his eyes. Desperate to communicate this, he let out cry that was so muffled that it sounded more like a mouse choking. Finally, Ned understood. He let him go and Petyr sunk to the floor, gasping to fill his poor deprived lungs with much needed air.

“It’s been almost 5 years since you found Sansa.” Ned said. “You’ve been stalking her ever since. Do you want to hurt her to get back to me? Is that it?”

“What? No, no never. I would never –“ Petyr coughed, down on his knees in front of the man he had wronged, fighting to get his breathing normal again. “I was trying to keep her safe. She isn’t safe, not with the Boltons around. I could never hurt her. I love her. I want to protect her.”

He had half-expected Ned to strike at him, but instead he just looked down with utter disgust.

“You’re delusional.” Ned replied. There was also pity in his voice, which made Petyr’s stomach turn. He would much rather have Ned Stark’s anger. “You’re diseased. Look at the state of you. You’re not going to protect her from anyone.” The doctor version of Ned Stark stabbed his forefinger at Petyr’s temple, turning it slowly like a screw, making him cringe. “There is something not quite right up here. It has never been right, and you know it. What do you think Arya?” Ned asked.

“I concur.” Arya Stark appeared next her father, her lithe petite frame half-disappearing inside a very similar looking doctor’s coat. She looked like a child who was playing dress up, but her voice was more frightening to Petyr than that of Ned’s. Calm, efficient, rational…deadly.

“It’s sad really. He should have been treated for this years ago instead of letting it fester. He must be as mad as a doorknob by now.”

Is that the official medical term of my affliction? Despite of his fears, Petyr let out a giggle, and it indeed sounded quite mad.

“Luckily, there is still a way to make him better.” From out of nowhere she produced his assassin’s dagger. It was still crusted with his own dried blood from the last time she had used it on him.

Petyr was horrified, but instead of screaming out in fear, he just…laughed.

It didn’t matter. No matter how hard he tried, no matter what he did, it always came back to this. Here he was, left at their mercy again, but this time, he didn’t even have the cohesion of mind to plead with them. Ned held him down while the knife came closer. He struggled, fought back a little, just to make it not too easy for them, but he knew he had lost and they had won. The Stark always won, because they had Sansa, and she had taken hostage of his heart for centuries now. There was no way she was ever going to set him free.

“Hush. Be still now." Arya Stark told him when Petyr let out a small frightened whimper. "It cured you the last time. It’s going to do the trick again.” And with that said, he felt the cold familiar kiss of the ruthless blade running across his throat, separating flesh and slicing through arteries.

 

9.

“Wake up little loon. Wake up.” Clegane was shaking him. It was meant to be gentle, but to Petyr, who was still with his mind trapped inside the asylum, it was like he was being manhandled, being tossed around in his cell by the orderly.

“No please. Don’t strap me down.” He muttered, his breath hitching as panic seized him. “Don’t lock me up in that horrible crate again. Please don’t.”

“Stop shouting. Nobody is going to lock you up. You’re having another one of those fuzzy fucked-up nightmares.”

The fog of the dream finally cleared, and Petyr opened his eyes. He was lying on the floor of his oversized bedroom, the sweat drenched bed-covers all mangled and twisted around his waist. Clegane was staring down at him, his scarred face was, as always, like a stony pockmarked mask. The fine lines of concern on his brow were so subtle that it could be easily missed, if you didn’t know where to look, but unfortunately, Petyr did know where to look.

“What?” He asked, pretending that nothing was wrong, but he was still shivering like a beaten dog. A bead of sweat trickled in his eyes.

Clegane didn’t say a word, but went to search through the drawer of the nearby nightstand instead. He found a small white bottle, and shook out four blue pills, which he offered to Petyr.

Petyr groaned softly. “Is this really necessary? That’s double the usual dose.” He gazed up at Sandor almost pleadingly.

“Just take it. You know you need it.” Clegane rasped, and pushed the tablets in his trembling hand. He sat down on his bed and kept his eyes on him till Petyr finally decided that any resistance was just useless and starting taking them down, one by one.

“Where are the girls we freed from the van?”

“Ros already took care of them. They’re alright, for as far they can be, considering all the horrid shit that has been done to them.”

“And...that murderous little psychopath we found in the back?” He asked, after he had swallowed the last one down.

“Who? Your little killer?” There was an amused grin on the Hound’s face. "Feisty that one. Almost garotted you, didn't she? We put her in the east wing in one of your special guest rooms. I stuck a pair of guards in front of the door, just in case.”

That managed to calm Petyr down considerably. He sent Sandor away, telling him to catch some sleep. He would rather keep him around, but he couldn't stand it when the Hound felt sorry for him. It was like that nightmare version of Ned Stark in the asylum all over again. It was still early, only 6 in the morning. The house was cold and quiet like the grave. The tranquil woodland that stretched out beyond his bedroom window was just re-appearing in dark blue hues and black lines. Petyr got out of bed, feeling lightheaded and unsteady on his feet. The tranquilizers often made him feel groggy, so he wasn't too alarmed. He knew it would wear off in a couple of hours...or maybe one hour, if he could counter it with a good dose of caffeine. A strong cup of coffee was what he craved more than anything right now. So he made his way through the hallway and went down the staircase to the kitchen. The lights were on, and there was the sound of busy activity. He thought not much of it, believing it must be his cook who usually came in around this time to prepare  breakfast. It may have been that the pills had made him more reckless, but it wasn’t until he had actually stepped inside the kitchen when he noticed that something was wrong.

Arya Stark was sitting at the kitchen table, quietly spooning up cereals from a bowl.

Petyr froze while his heart began pounding in his chest. Shit. He really really should stay in bed when he was tripping on these stupid horse pills. How thoroughly moronic of me to just wander around without Clegane watching my back while there is a well-trained Faceless assassin in the house!

He almost jumped up to the ceiling when Arya Stark looked up at him. “Cool this.” Her voice was calm, sounded almost normal, absolutely not cold psychopath murder mode.

Good. Petyr thought, but still horrified to find his one-time murderer eating breakfast at his kitchen table.

“You have the whole place for yourself?”

“Uhm, yes.” He replied, half mumbling, not knowing what to expect, which made it all together, even more frightening for him. “This is my home, I live here with…the people who work for me.” He wanted to say friends, but he wasn’t sure if what he had with Ros or Clegane would qualify for friendship. He never had friends before, not real ones. They are very valued employees. He told himself. That’s what they are. People who I care about and who are irreplaceable to me.

“I took a good look around. It looks like some grand hotel or something. That mega-large green house in the back is really cool. And you have two indoor swimming pools? I mean, seriously? What are they even for?”

“Swimming?” Petyr suggested, while he remained standing in the door opening. His body instinctively resisted to come anywhere nearer to the little assassin. When Arya looked down into her bowl to take another spoonful, his hand discreetly slipped away searching for a device hidden inside his pocket.

“Yeah, but two? Whoever needs two?” She frowned.

“They came with the house, and it’s not a green house, it’s an aviary. That I did order to be built.” He pressed the button on the security device. Over the last few years, he had made a great number of enemies in his quest to destroy the Boltons. Keeping in close contact with Clegane and his staff was what had kept him alive…at least until now. Why is she still keeping up this mindless chit chat? And why am I not dead yet?

“It looks like a jungle in there.” She said with a mouthful of cereals. “Seems like you have done very well for yourself.”

“I suppose, for a dead man, yes I did.”

“My sister, she still thinks you’re dead.” It came out tentatively, and it took Petyr by surprise.

“I know she does.” He said softly.

“You do?” She sounded astonished. “So why didn’t go tell her that you’re not dead?” There was definitely resentment in her voice, for reasons that he could absolutely not comprehend. Does she actually want me to meet up with her? Then he remembered the cold nasty look Arya had given him whenever she saw him together with her sister at Winterfell and quickly concluded that he must have miss-interpreted it. “What are you doing here?” He asked instead.

“You don’t expect to find me here?” She replied with a crooked little smile.

“No I don’t.”

“You’re the one who brought me here.” She said cheekily.

“Yes, and I locked you up in a room with pretty strong bars in the windows and two gorilla-sized guards in front of a well locked door to prevent you from getting anywhere near me.” Petyr sighed.

“Really? Why?”

“Because you’re dangerous. You tried to choke me to death only yesterday with the chains of your handcuffs.”

“Oh that. Don’t worry. I talked to Sandor last night when you were still out. He explained everything, told me that you actually were trying to free the girls and that you weren’t working for the Boltons. So it’s alright, we’re cool.” She said, shrugging.

Petyr could hardly believe her sudden nonchalance. “And that’s it? You just believe him?”

“Oh Sandor wouldn’t lie. He totally sucks at it.” Arya said. Petyr watched her calmly pour a cup of tea, and thought that she was damned right about that. Clegane could not lie even if his life depended on it. He couldn't even fool a toddler.

“I want to know though.” Arya said as he handed him a cup with a serious frown on her face. “Are you still planning to hurt my family?”

“No.”

“Good." She immediately brightened up. "Then you are not in any real danger, unless you’re telling lies again, in which case you are dead. Toast?”

“Toast would be fine. You can have this cup back. It’s 6 in the morning, I need something stronger.” Particularly after last night, after those nightmares of you slitting my throat. Tentively, like a deer stalking at the edge of the woods after dusk, he started making his way into the kitchen. He still wanted that coffee desperately. “How did you get out? Did you kill my guards?" Then he added after a brief pause while he poured coffee beans into the grinder. "And why are you making breakfast in my kitchen? Did you kill my maid too?”

“Pff, I am not a psychopath like you. I don’t go around killing people for no good reason. Your guards are unconscious and locked in a closet somewhere. Your maid has left you a note. She is coming in late.”

“Forgive my suspicious nature, but the last time we met you cut my throat and let me bleed out like a slaughtered pig at your sister’s feet. You can imagine that I do worry about my own well-being at least a little, with you stalking around outside a decent cage.”

“I don’t stalk." She eyed at him. "I am not a wild animal or a creep. You do realize you deserved your death, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.” He replied in a quiet voice.

Judging by Arya’s face, she had not expected that he would admit to it so wholeheartedly.

“Well I do now, but still, being executed wasn't particularly enjoyable –“ Petyr added, sitting down at the breakfast table next to her and taking a sip from his coffee.

“It was a merciful death.” Arya said, as if to defend her actions. “I made it quick. Sansa told me to. I did what she asked, even if I didn’t necessarily fully agreed with her at that time.” She pointed a butter knife at him. Despite that there was still a whole table of distance between them and the knife being as blunt as a spoon, Petyr still felt the urge to tilt his head back away from her. “You see, if it was up to me, you would have had a really slow and agonizing death. Believe me, I have done worse with people who had wronged us.” She stuck the knife in the yellow cube of butter. “Butter or marmalade?”

“Both…” Petyr muttered. “Could you please stop telling me things I don’t really want to know. I saved your life yesterday. You’re staying as a guest in my house. You’re drinking my tea and incinerating my bread in my toaster in my kitchen as we speak.” He pointed out the black smoke wafting up from the overheated appliance behind him. “Is this all the conversation I am going to get?”

“You brought it up yourself, but hey, fine.” Arya shrugged again, handing over to him a serving of toast.

Petyr barely ate while he watched her wolf down an impressive stack of slices. “Why do you even remember who you are? I clearly recall Sansa telling me that her little sister Arya was safe, happy, and pretty much sane, nothing like the little psycho-killer that you seem to be.”

“It just...happened really.” There was a pensive look on her face. “The Many faced god, he came to me one night. Asked me if I still remember who I was. I wanted to say I didn’t. I didn’t even know who he was, but as soon as he finished that sentence, I did know. I remembered everything. Everything I ever did, the people I killed, and what was done to my family, by nasty people, like you.” She shot him a cold gaze. Gone was the cheerful Arya, replaced by the cold-hearted girl with the dead look in her eyes who had turned up at Winterfell so many lifetimes ago to play his executioner. Then her hostile stare retracted, like a knife pulling out of a wound.

Petyr tried to stay calm. “How did you end up in the hands of Ramsay Bolton and his gang?”

“I tried to kill him and his father.”

“Any particular reason why?” He asked with a sarcastic grin.

“Because I remember him. I remember them both, and because I know they haven’t changed.” She looked at him across the table. “Why are you messing with the Boltons?”

“Because you’re right. The old dogs have not changed their ways. Roose is a threat to your family, and Ramsay, he is danger to you sister.”

“So that's why. You are still lusting after her, don't you?” Arya commented with a sly little smile.

Petyr coughed and almost choked in his coffee. “If you really need to call it that…yes.” Then a bit worried, he asked. “Do you want to kill me a second time for it?”

“No. I don’t think she wants me to." She looked at him with a sincere expression in her large hazel eyes. "She came back home completely changed after she ran into you again years ago. I first thought you had harmed her, that you did something to her, manipulated her in some way to make her care about you and turn her back on her own family. I was furious about it, but I know better now. I have seen how she was after she thought you were dead. It broke her. Even more so then the first time she lost you. I don’t think she will forgive me if I put a knife in you now.” She paused. "Seriously, why don't you go tell her that you are still alive?"

 "I can't. Not without endangering her. If Ramsay knows I am here and finds out what I have done so far to ruin his plans, he would try to get to me by harming your sister." There were more reasons but he didn't really care sharing those with her.

"You can't let her think that you're dead forever."

"After I have done what needs to be done, when father and son are six feet under, lying in an unmarked grave feeding the worms fat and happy, then I can finally let her know."

Arya rolled her eyes at him. "I suppose this must somehow make sense to you."

Petyr held her gaze. “You don't really trust me, do you?”

“No.” She was dead serious now. “Do you trust me?”

“What do you think?” Three red dots appear on Arya’s chest. She had been held under gun shot by his security team all this time.

“I still would have been quicker.” Arya replied, not showing any signs of alarm, she spread the butter over a new slice of toast and calmly nibbled at the corner.

“You didn’t notice that they have sneaked up on you from behind the window. And I doubt you’re really going to kill me with just a butter knife.” Petyr took it away from her and flung it into the sink, just to make sure. “So, are you going back to your family now? They’re probably worried sick, and I don’t like keeping my murderers around the house for too long. It’s getting too complicated for security to deal with. I will be delighted to drop you off back home, if you promise me to keep your silence about me. You are a clever girl. You don’t want me to stop being successful in protecting your family against the Boltons, do you?”

“My family aren't worried about me. They still think I am at uni, and I won’t tell anyone about you, unless you do something really stupid that makes me angry, you don't have to worry. But I won't be going home. Not yet.”

“What do you mean, you want to stay here?”

“It’s a large enough mansion.”

“Look, I am not running a hotel for troubled homeless assassins.”

“You won’t even notice me. I just need a place to lay low for a while. If I go back, I will just put everyone in danger. The Boltons won’t come looking for me here. Sandor told me they don’t even know that you exist. This is really the safest place for me to be.”

“For how long exactly?”

“You said you wanted to turn the Boltons into wormfood, so I suppose...till Roose Bolton is dead. You probably could need some help with that.” She added with a confident smile.

Petyr smirked back at her. “At least that wouldn’t take that long then. Give it a couple of weeks.”

“You already have a plan?”

“Ever since the day he helped to murder your mother at the Red Wedding I had a plan for him.” He told her most confidently. “I have elaborated and perfected it over many years. It has become a much cherished pet project of mine, something that I am very eager to bring into reality. If you stick around, you might be lucky enough to finally see it come to fruition.”

Arya didn’t seem very much impressed by that. “You’re very strange guy.” She commented, finishing her toast, while she kept staring at him like he was some kind of freak attraction on display on a May fair.

Her reaction did not sit well with Petyr. In his mind, "strange" came too uncomfortably close to "eccentric", which was just one step away from being called "mad". “Says the girl who likes to collect other people’s faces and carry it around in a bag.” He retorted rather resentfully.

“Oh, would you like to know what I did with your face?” There was a grin on Arya’s face that was just much too bloody cheerful for such a dreadful subject to be sane.

Suddenly, Petyr had completely lost his appetite and threw his half eaten toast back on the plate. “No thanks.”

“What happened to your hands?” Arya asked. “They look like they have been run through a meat grinder.”

“You’re nothing like you sister, do you know that?” He said, faking a smile.

“And that bothers you?”

“No, I was just trying to make pleasant conversation.” Petyr replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm as he stood up to clear his plate and cup. If he had any fear of her left after this odd-ball conversation, it had vanished completely now that she had relentlessly managed to push in all of his wrong buttons.

“It doesn’t bother me, you know.” Arya commented in soft voice.

“What doesn’t?” Petyr mumbled as he put everything in the dishwasher.

“That you’re strange. I am strange too. I know you can’t really help who you are. Sansa said that."

Petyr slowly turned around. “She said that about me?”

“Right after we executed you.” Arya replied, nodding. “Weird is fine, as long as you don’t harm anyone who doesn’t really deserve it.”

A pause. He wondered if Sansa had said it because she pitied him, or that she had really felt something for him once. It was depressing. Everything that reminded of her was depressing. Even the very presence of her little sister, Sansa's own flesh and blood, sitting right here in front of him, made his heart bleed. It just hurt to be reminded of her. “You’re welcome to stay.” He told Arya. She was right. It was probably for the better to keep her out of sight of the Boltons for a while, and maybe she could proof herself of some use. “Just don’t kill any of my staff. "He warned her. "I need people alive to do the actual work for me.” He was about to leave the kitchen when he added. “Also, next time, leave breakfast to Anita, you are absolutely rubbish at it.”

 

10.

She was working on a long report about her research on the dealings between Roose Bolton and the current secretary of transport when Jon Arryn came by and dropped a thick stack of papers on her desk. Sansa stopped typing and gazed up.

“Did you read this file on Roose Bolton’s contact with Vayon Poole?” He asked her.

“Yes I read it.” She remembered it well, for she had been truly amazed to discover from Jon Arryn’s resources that Jeyne’s father had somehow become the kingpin drugsdealer of the Northern counties. The Vayon Poole she remembered from when she was growing up at Winterfell was a kind and just man who had served her father for many years as his loyal steward, and she could completely not imagine him as any type of criminal, unlike the murderous Boltons.

“Vayon let his daughter get engaged with Ramsay Bolton, did you know that?”

“No…No I didn’t.”

Sansa shuddered at the very thought of her childhood best friend being married off to that monster. “Must we not warn the poor girl?”

“No need, the engagement is already off. Jeyne Poole disappeared a couple of weeks ago. The strange thing is, her father didn’t went to the police to report her missing.” Jon shook out a cigarette from a silver casing and lit it, despite the clear sign on the wall that indicated that smoking in the public office was not allowed. “She resurfaced two days ago in a Belgium hospital.” He turned his head and puffed out a long lazy string of smoke. “The official statement of the local police was that she fell down a flight of stairs. Our suspicion is that she was kidnapped by Roose’s men, perhaps because Ramsay's father fell out with her father over some deal gone terribly wrong.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because Vayon and Roose seemed to have turned from happy would-be in-laws into deadly enemies, although on the surface everything still appears fine. They are both trying to keep up appearances to keep the vultures at bay.”

He handed her another file. “I want you to find out more about this man.”

Sansa looked at it. It was marked with the name Paul Tybershire.

“He seems to be working for Vayon from time to time. He was also seen in Singapore with his daughter a year ago.”

“Who is he?”

Some new tech high flyer, founder and CEO of a company called Mimidae Solutions. He’s also a real-estate and investment tycoon, so he’s pretty minted. Could be that Jeyne Poole and he have become lovers, or that he just wants to dip his toes into some lucrative illegal business, although you would expect that someone like him would not have any need to get involved with this shady side of our society, unless he's very greedy, or very foolish, or both.”

“So he doesn’t have criminal record?”

“According to existing police records the man is squeaky clean, no dirt on him whatsoever.”

“If that’s so, this Paul Tybershire doesn’t really sound suspicious. Why do you still want me to investigate this guy?” She didn't want to sound rude, but it seemed to her a bit of a time waster. She rather worked on something that would really help bring the Boltons down.

Like I said on that first day we met, I like to be thorough.” Lord Arryn told her with a smile.

After Jon had left, Sansa picked up the file. She accidentally held it in an odd angle, and a couple of photographs fell out, fanning out all over the floor. Without a second thought, she picked one up and turned it around, giving it a fleeting glance.

 

Notes: Sorry it took so long to write the new chapter. It has been a busy couple of weeks. Please let me know what you think, it will encourage me to write on. I will try to make more time to continue this story. See you Friday the 30th again! H.

 

Chapter Text

 

Notes: Selected music tracks:

From dust till dawn

Part 11-14

On the nature of daylight

Part 12 and 14, after Petyr takes hold of the Whiskey.

 

11.

Ros was sitting at her desk busy updating the administration of one of Petyr’s many business accounts when Sandor came into her office.

“Where is our little loon?” The Hound asked. “He told me to keep an eye on our assassin girl. She disappeared from my sight when I went to take a piss. I can’t find her anywhere, so I figured I better find him and watch his ass before she tries anything funny again.”

“Oh you don’t mean Arya now, do you?” Ros laughed. “God, she is as sweet as apple-pie, she won’t do anything to harm him. I am sure Petyr’s just a bit paranoid, that’s all.”

The Hound gave her a long funny look. “Still, I better tell him before he freaks out again. Where is he?”

“It’s Friday night.” Ros replied. “You know where he is. He went out on a date with his wife.”

“Fucking hell.” Sandor sighed, frowning and rolling his eyes up to the ceiling. “Not that shit again.”

“Come on, let the poor man. I actually think it’s sweet.”

“You think everything is sweet, dripping with sugar water even if it’s drenched in acid vinegar. It’s fucking depressing. That’s what it is.” Sandor cocked a ruined eyebrow at her. “Why do you keep calling her his wife? I told you a million times, he isn’t married.”

“Well, Petyr calls her his wife. I just believe what he says.”

“What are you? A fucking moron?” Sandor huffed. “The little loon is out of his fucking mind. She really isn’t his wife. She can’t be.”

Ros leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms over her bosom. “How can you be so sure?”

“Trust me. I know him longer than you do.” He growled, but further keeping his mouth shut. He had promised Petyr to not tell her anything about King's Landing.

“I still don’t believe it. If he’s been keeping an eye on her like that all this time, and they aren’t even married, than he’s just –

“-stalking her, like a fucking psycho, for the last five fucking years. yeah, now you’re getting it. If our little loon wasn’t so damned clever, he would have been locked up for it in a white bouncy castle of a room years ago.”

“Still, she must be someone really important to him, otherwise he wouldn’t care about her so much –“

“Oh stop being so incredibly stupid!” There was a nasty edge in the Hound’s voice that took Ros by surprise. She knew Sandor ever since Petyr took him to her flat 5 years ago, and although a bit blunt, he had always been very mild mannered and kind to her. A bit shy perhaps. His sudden outburst of what appeared to be genuine frustrated anger, startled her. “Why do you always need to justify everything what he does wrong?  He lies, he deceives, he really ain’t a saint. He’s a killer, just like me, only he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. That he sometimes chooses to be nice to you or anyone else, doesn’t change all that.” He shut his mouth when he finally saw the wounded expression on Ros’s face.

“Look, I didn’t mean – I didn’t want to call you a moron. You’re a lovely girl, but you’re sitting here, all by yourself on a Friday night. That ain’t right. That selfish little shit should just stop obsessing about what he can’t have and open his eyes for once. You’ve always been there for him. He should really look at you, see how lovely you are, and realize how lucky he is to have you, and…take you out to a nice steak dinner or something.”

Sandor lowered his gaze when he noticed the look Ros was giving him. “That’s all I wanted to say, really.” He mumbled, and turned around to get out the room as quickly as he could, his giant shoulders sagging a little.

“Wait.” Ros called after him.

“Yeah?”

“Thank you." She said to him with a sad little smile. "That was a very kind thing to say.”

"Yeah." Clegane rasped, pretending that he didn't care. "Whatever. It's not like you're ever going to do anything with that, is it?"

 

12.

"So, this is our first proper date together."

Sansa tore her gaze from the view outside the window and stared back at the very handsome face of the sandy blond man sitting at the table opposite to her. Harrold Hardyng was the type of guy she had always dreamed of marrying one day when she was still a carefree teenager, before she met Petyr, and started remembering everything of her past life. He was young, built like a Olympic athlete, with beautiful heaven blue eyes and a sweet dimpled smile that could melt any young woman's heart, but what Sansa somehow found a bit cheesy looking. Why oh why did I agree to have dinner with him again? Because I want to try to pretend to be normal. That's the reason why. I want to show my family that everything is alright with me again so that they can finally stop worrying about me. This is the price I have to pay to set up this charade to fool everyone, including myself. I am going to have to spend more and more time with him till he finds out that I don't really care about him after all, and he dumps me for another woman...or he maybe never finds out and we keep this up till I am actually married to him and have his children. Either way, it's all the same to me. No matter what happens, I will never truly feel anything for anyone ever again.

"I am sorry." She apologized to him, smiling sweetly. "What did you say?"

"I said, this is going to be our first proper date with just the two of us." Harrold smiled that cheesy smile of his again, like an cartoon version of a man in an advertisement, beaming his row of whites at an invisible audience. "Going to the movies on a double date with your brother Rob and his lovely wife of course doesn't count." He smirked, believing himself to be oh so very funny and charming...and maybe he was. She wished she was still naive enough to be susceptible for such things, it would make her life a lot easier, but she just managed to squeeze out a little polite smile in return.

"Uhm yes....I guess not." She gazed through the window again.

There was car parked outside. A large, rather expensive looking one, with dark tinted windows. It had been parked right outside the restaurant ever since she began to notice it after they had sat down at this table in front of one of the largest windows in the restaurant. When they first came in, Sansa told the waiter that she rather preferred a table at the back with a bit more privacy, but the man had insisted that they took the table at the front, so that they remained in full view of anyone looking in from across the street. This didn't sit well with her, and she could have sworn that she had seen that same car parked nearby when she crossed the high street to meet up with Harrold.

It's almost like someone is following me. She suppressed a shudder. Remembering what Jon Arryn had told her about Ramsay's dirty spying, she thought she better watch out for herself. Or maybe I am just going mad, otherwise I wouldn't think that I saw Petyr in those photographs yesterday at work.

There was not one photo that was taken with the man's face fully turned to the camera, and the distance was often too great and the image too blurry to make out any real features, but she believed it was him, or rather her heart tried to convince her that it was. Her rational mind however, was telling her something else entirely.

Yes his locks are dark and grey at the temples, and the way Paul Tybershire's hair grows into a V shape in the back of his neck does remind of him, but Petyr is not the only man who wears his hair like that. And yes, he has the same wiry slim build as Petyr had, and when he squints in the sun, the fine lines in the corner of his eye behind his sunglasses look exactly like Petyr's on those rare occasions when his smile reached his eyes, but again, that all means absolutely nothing. Petyr is dead. Get that written somewhere please to keep reminding yourself, so you can finally stop killing yourself over and over again with this stupid false sense of hope.    

But that was simply impossible. Hope for the hopeless was probably the hardest thing to kill.

The evening just dragged on while her mind wandered. Courses were delivered to the table. They ate the food. They drank the wine. Sansa pretended to listen while Harrold talked continuously. Most of the time, he was just gossiping about his mates who he met once a week at his tennis club, or he was telling her what he had for lunch breaks, or tried to amuse her with anecdotes about the people he met on one of the countless mandatory after work parties that his father organized for him to get more familiar with the employees at the office. Utterly tedious, Harrold sighed, before emptying his glass and snapping his fingers at the wine steward, shouting; "One of those please!"while pointing at an interesting-looking bottle of wine on the neighbouring table. He turned back to Sansa, and asked her if she had ever been to the Bordeaux region in the summer, opting that they should go there together to taste the fine regional food but skip the wine because, so he claimed, - it was far too overrated, dry and completely tasteless, like the gravel in which those damned Frenchies cultivated their precious vines. Sansa just kept nodding and smiling to all that drivel, wondering how on earth someone could talk so much, but say so little. In her mind she kept slipping back to the moment she turned those photographs around, and saw a glimpse of what she believed to be the man she loved and had lost in Paul Tybershire, the mystery tech tycoon and self-made man. Just like Petyr was when he was still Littlefinger, and so much unlike Harrold, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had been groomed to one day take over his father’s multi-million dollar business empire ever since he could crawl out of his cradle and demand a nappy change from one of his father's servants. Jon Arryn had introduced him to her at a party, now almost two months ago, and they had gone out a few times. Sansa's parents were, of course, delighted when they found out that she was seeing him, but Sansa, although initially really trying hard to like the love-struck young man, quickly got bored by his superficial kindness and charm. She often found herself amazed by how little a well educated man like Harrold really knew about this world in contrast to all that he claimed to know in his almost non-stop pompous bragging. Harrold was just simply too confident and too rich and privileged to realized how truly lucky he really was to have all what he had, to never have to lie or cheat or beg or humble or work himself up to get something he really wanted, including her. It just all came to him like a late autumn windfall, all the love and wealth and power that a man could ever desire, thrown right into his lap while he yawned and stretched and complained about dry French wine and the lack of entertainment value of his father's overworked employees.

He wasn't a bad man. He just was the wrong man for her.

By the time they finished their dessert, Sansa was longing to get away as soon as possible. It’s all your fault Petyr. She thought. You have spoiled him for me. If I had never known you, if I had been allowed to stay the naïve protected little princess I once was with her head filled with stories of knights in shining armors and gallant handsome princes, I could have been so content right now. Harrold could have made me happy. But I’ve met you, and you have turned my whole world upside down. This fine perfect man, who my father would consider truly worthy of my love, would never ever receive it, because I have given all of it to you.

“Do you want me to walk you back to your car?” Harrold opted. It finally was the end of the evening, and they were standing outside, both shivering in the early spring cold. Harrold’s cheeks were flushed hot with wine, and his walk was so unsteady that his chauffeur, who had come to collect him, needed to hold on to him to keep him on his feet.

She politely declined. When Harrold leaned into her to give her a parting kiss full on the lips, she turned her head away.

“Sansa.” Harrold said, slurring a little, while he waved his chauffeur away to be alone with her. “Are you- bored with me or something?”

“Why are you saying that?”

“Because you always seem a little disappointed, every time after we seen each other. Is there perhaps something that I do wrong?”

“Of course not.” She lied.

“Because if there is anything you don’t like about me. I can do something about it. I can change it.”

“I don’t really want you to change anything for me.”

“Oh I wouldn’t mind.” There was a sudden shyness in his voice as he stuck his hands deep inside his pockets, staring down at his expensive Italian shoes as he kicked away some invisible pebbles. “Sansa, I think I must be completely honest with you now. I know I may have a bit of reputation of going after the ladies, but that was before I met you. Honest to God, I have never fallen for anyone this hard. It’s like you have bewitched me or something. I can’t stop thinking about you all day at daddy's office. Every girl I see, just reminds me of you. I really want to cherish this. I want this to work so much. So if there’s anything I can change, please tell me.” He told her, with complete honesty in his blue eyes.

“Really, there is nothing.” Sansa said softly.

Harrold leaned closer. His warm breath carried the scent of the sweet dessert wine they just had with their last course of chocolate fondant. “Then why –“ He whispered, his hand gently caressing the fine line of her jaw, cupping her chin. “-wouldn’t you kiss me?”

She felt sorry for him, and it has been so long since someone had touched her the way Harrold did. When his lips collided with hers, she closed her eyes and thought of Petyr. She saw him waiting for her under the bright red leaves of the ancient heart tree in Godswood, his dark hair and black cloak dusted with the fine powdery snow, and remembered the warmth of his touch on her cheek, which she could feel right through his thin leather gloves.

She let Harrold kiss her, and just for the briefest of moments, it was Petyr who she held lovingly in her arms, and kissed back longingly.

“That was…very very nice.” Harold said with an almost ecstatic grin when she finally moved away from him. “I do hope we’re going to do this more often from now on.” He added cheekily.

They were both startled by a car-engine nearby growling to life, rudely disrupting their tender little moment together. Two bright headlights flashed right into the young pair’s faces, blinding them before the car drove away, roaring loudly as it pulled aggressively at the tarmac. It wasn’t until it had swept around the corner in the direction of the high streets that Sansa realized it was the same car that she had noticed trailing her for the entire evening.

 

13.

She didn’t regret rejecting Harrold’s offer of him walking her back to her car till she stepped out of the elevator and found herself alone on the second floor of the garage. She had just grabbed back her ticket from the pay machine when she heard a metal door slamming shut behind her. The sound echoed eerily through the deserted building as it bounced off the concrete walls. Startled, she glanced over her shoulder. A tall man dressed in a black sweater was staring back at her, his hands hidden inside his pockets. The cold glint in eyes reminded her of her encounter with ser Ilyne Payne, the king’s justice and her father’s executioner, when she was just a child on her way to King’s landing. This man has the same eyes. Ones that have seen too much and have forgotten all about the meaning of mercy.

She quickly turned around and hastened her steps, walking away from him, hoping fiercely that he would not follow her. When she could clearly hear his footfall trailing behind her, her heart rate doubled and she began to run. Unlike the fearful knight, her stalker wasn’t mute. “Where are you going girl?” There was a cold harshness in his voice that chilled her to the bone. “Don’t run.” He said to her, almost calmly. "There is no way for you to run." Sansa still fled, her fear tearing at her reason till she could no longer think clear, when she turned to see how far he was still behind, she saw him produce a gun from his pocket.

“Help!” Sansa cried out ,hoping someone would come. “Please help me! Someone please!” She fled in the direction of her car, her heart trembling with the adrenaline rushing through her system. In her panic she tripped and fell to the ground, opening her knees and the palms of her hands painfully as they scraped over the rough floor.

I am going to die here. She thought as she struggled back up on her knees. He is going to put a bullet in my skull. She kept her gaze on the grey tarmac, too terrified to look her would-be killer in the eyes, her cascade of red hair mercifully shielding her off from everything around her. My blood is going to seep through these cracks in the floor, right between my fingers. An image surfaced of Petyr’s blood, pooling silently underneath the wound in his neck, a crimson color so dark that was almost black, seeping through the cracks of the ancient flagstones of the great hall. She remembered how his eyes had kept looking up at her till the very end, right till the lights in his grey-green eyes had finally faded away. That’s how I will look like tomorrow morning when they find me here, open eyes staring up vacantly at nothing. At least the last person Petyr saw was someone who had loved him. I won’t receive such mercy.

“Please. Don’t.” She begged when the man cocked the gun and aimed it at her from only a few feet away. There were tears running down her cheeks, for which she hated herself. She knew exactly who had sent him. She didn’t want to grant Ramsay the satisfaction to hear that she had cried just before she died when his hired hand goes back to report her murder to him.

But she was so incredibly scared.

“You shouldn’t have fucked with the Boltons.” The man reminded her, showing no pity, or any other emotion other than perhaps a touch of unease...right when he picked up the sound of an roaring engine. A car swept around the corner at a neck-breaking speed, and before he could even complete a half turn to see what was going on, it had already tore away the distance between them. Sansa let out a frightened shriek when the bumper rammed into her assaulter, sending the man flying over the bonnet, rolling all the way over the top and the back end till he smashed onto the ground just behind the exhaust pipe as the vehicle came to an abrupt screeching halt.

Sansa, wide-eyed, her breath hitching in sheer fright, stared at her own her pale face reflected in the dark tinted side window. She couldn’t see the driver, who suddenly shifted gear and reversed the car, just when her assassin, who was still lying on his stomach, struggled to reach for his gun that was only inches away from his bleeding fingers. She shrieked again, and this time, she was joined by her would-be assassin, when the car slowly drove backwards and rolled over his spine, making the bones in his rib-cage crunch. The horrific sounds that came from him sounded barely human when the weight of the car started crushing his inner organs, making a bloody mash out of intestines, lungs, liver, and heart. Sansa tore her gaze away from the gruesome sight, just when his cries were smothered as blood rose up from his throat accompanied by a string of wet bubbling sounds. The car did not move till whatever remained of that man finally stopped flopping, then it rolled forward, away from the red splash on the tarmac. The tires left behind a gleaming trail of crimson.

Sansa slowly rose to her feet. The horror of what she had just witnessed had pushed her to the very edge of her sanity, but she wasn’t afraid. She recognized that car. It was the same one who been following her for so long. If who ever who was behind the wheel wanted to harm her, he would certainly have done so by now, considering how little scruples he had to commit bloody murder. Moving forward on shaky legs, she walked up to the tinted side window and tried to see inside. “Who are you?” She said, looking straight at the hidden figure in the driver seat. “Why did you help me?”

She jumped back when the driver started the car and began to move away from her. “Hey! Wait!” She slammed her hand flat on the side window and saw a blood-red print of her palm left behind on the glass. It was only now that she realized that she was covered with blood that wasn’t exactly hers. “Wait!” She shouted, running after him as the car picked up speed and drove down the steel ramps to the first floor. “You can’t just leave me here!”

But the car vanished from sight. Not knowing what to do and dazed with shock Sansa waited, throwing anxious fleeting glances at the mutilated body at her feet. I really should call the police. But then she realized, she would have to try to explain what had happened here tonight. No matter what sort of thug her would-have been assassin turns out to be according to the files of Scotland Yard, he had just been gruesomely murdered, because someone wanted to save her life. The police would certainly want to dig deeper into this, and her honesty could bring her savior into trouble with the law, or worse...with Ramsay Bolton. She didn’t want that. Perhaps it was someone who wanted to help me, because he has grievances with the Boltons, that would make sense.

Her heart fluttered back in her throat and she held her breath when she heard another car coming on her direction. Maybe it’s him again…Or it could be someone else who Ramsay has sent to get rid of me. She straightened her back, the muscles in her legs already strained and ready to run, when a red flashy looking sports car spurted up the ramp and came to a halt just a few feet away from her.

Whatever happens now, I certainly can no longer pretend that I have nothing to do with this. Sansa thought worriedly. It’s not like I can sweep what little left is of that man under a carpet.

The side window rolled down, and this time, she did get to see the driver’s face.

“You’re Sansa Stark, am I right?” The short man behind the wheel asked.

Sansa was too stunned to answer, so she just nodded.

"Right. You’re quite in a predicament I see. The police are on their usual delayed way, and will be here in a couple of minutes. No doubt they are very keen to ask you all kinds of very troubling questions. So may I suggest you leave with me to get out of their sight? Hop on my dear, the back seat door is unlocked.”

Normally, Sansa would be crazy to trust anyone who would just show up after a murder and offer her an easy way out by asking her to step into his car without even introducing himself. But this man wasn’t a stranger to her. She knew him. She was married to him once, and she remembered Tyrion Lannister well. She knew he was someone that she could completely trust. 

She climbed into the backseat and Tyrion turned the car around. “I am sorry for not explaining much to you before I urged you to leave, but we have very little time." He said while he followed the exit signs. "I am Tyrion Lannister. Like you, I work for lord Jon Arryn.” The imp told her after the car drove out of the garage and into the high street. Somewhere two blocks away, Sansa could hear the disturbing whine of the police sirens approaching fast. “Jon sent you?” She asked, holding on to the arm of her seat as Tyrion swept around another corner to get away from the police cars.

“I do hope you don’t get the creeps about this, but he has indeed been keeping an eye on you. It was for your own safety, I can assure you. It’s just that the cavalry he sent came in a bit too late. I was called to pick up the pieces and clear the scene, so to speak.”

“So it wasn’t one of Jon Arryn’s man who saved me.” Sansa muttered softy.

“Ah yes, your secret slightly psychopathic guardian angel…We have no idea who that was really, and we kinda lost him when we tried to trail the car. I must say, whoever that was behind the wheel is an absolutely dreadful driver, but he certainly knows when and how to pick up speed when it counts.” The imp smiled back at her through his reflection in the front view mirror. “Don’t worry miss Stark. I know you have a real dreadful night, but you’re safe now. I won’t allow anything terrible to happen to you.” 

"I know you won't." She said, staring ahead of her.

 She could not get the image of the driver with his face hidden behind the tinted glass out of her mind.

 

14.

It amazed him that he actually managed to get back to the mansion in one piece. When he killed the engine and took the key out of the ignition, his ruined hands trembling more than usual, he could hardly pull open the lock on the side door.

One of these days I am going to get myself killed. I must have driven through at least six red traffic lights from the city all the way back here to get rid of Jon Arryn's goons. He got out and slammed the door shut. Still nervous and a little disorientated, he walked away from his car. It was only then that the frantic pounding in his heart finally seemed to calm down a little.

“Hey, you’re back boss.” Dean remarked, glancing up from his girly magazine. Then he noticed the countless dents in the car-bonnet. “What the fuck happened to the BMW?”

“Nothing. Get rid of it.” Petyr sneered, searching through his pockets and struggling to get to his phone.

“What? You want me to sell it?”

“No not sell it. Get rid of it! Burn it, bury it, sink it to the bottom of the canal! I don’t care, think of something and make it vanish. Just make sure no-one ever finds it again.”

Dean sighed. “Ah, you mean that type of getting rid of things. Sure thing boss.” Odd as it may be, it certainly wasn’t the first time he had dealt with such a request. “Still, a bit of shame really. It’s nice car and it’s almost brand new.”

“Order a new one for me.” He found the contact he was looking for after scrolling through his long list of names and started the call. “I’ll let you chose, as long it has bullet proof glass and armored side doors, it’s fine with me. Try to get one from the Russians, they owe me at least a fat discount after all that I have done for them.”

“Where have you been driving with it anyway?" Dean remarked. "There are bits of flesh and hair in the front grid and the tires. Have you accidentally hit the side of the road again to get this much roadkill stuck to the car?…Boss? Are you alright?” Dean asked worriedly when Petyr suddenly burst out giggling.

“Yeah, right…roadkill, that’s what it is.” Petyr laughed giddily, feeling his sanity slipping away from him. “Just get rid of it for me yeah?” The call went through, a groggy male voice on the other side of the line answered, and Petyr snapped back from seemingly calm to being absolutely furious.“Treacy, are you familiar with a town called Pompeii?” Petyr asked, his voice almost sounding polite.

“What? Who is this? Is that you boss?”

“Yes, you are talking to the man who pays you to keep an eye on Sansa Stark, remember her?” Only you haven’t been doing your job very well lately, have you now?

“What are you talking about?”

“Pompeii, do you know the town?”

“Uh, no, not really.”

“That’s a shame. It’s a real nice place to visit if you're into the Roman antiquities. It’s an ancient Roman town that became buried when a nearby volcano erupted. Everything inside that city, including the people and the animals who didn’t escape in time, was entombed in meters of ash. Imagine that, one moment you’re still fully conscious, trying to get out of the way of burning rubble falling down from the skies, and just like that within a blink of eye, you’re turned into one of the most well preserved corpses in the world.”

“Uh yeah boss….That sounds real interesting.” Came the reply, but petyr could hear from the hesitation in his voice that the poor man had absolutely no clue what he was talking about.

“You know what happens to the human body when it’s covered in layers of volcanic ash Treacy? It still rots, just like any other dead body. Only it leaves this cavity behind where the body used to sit, and in Pompeii, they have made these casts of these vacant cavities, poured them full with concrete and letting them set before lifting them out of the ground. You should go see these things, they are like fine works of art. You can literally stare right right into the eyes of a man who has died 2000 years ago. The expression on his face is still exactly the same as when he was buried alive, perfectly capturing the exact moment of pure agony when his skin started peel off his flesh.”

A long frightened pause came from the other side of the line as the rusty penny finally dropped. “Oh God, I didn’t fuck up, did I?”

“Oh yes, you fucked up! I asked you to keep an eye on her, to keep her safe for me, and you failed. Ramsay Bolton sent one of his dogs after her tonight. I didn’t know anything about it while you were supposed to keep me informed. Luckily I was there, or she would have been…” Petyr sucked in a deep breath to calm himself. The thought of losing her was too much to bear. “Let me just say, if something had happened to her, I wouldn’t be wasting my breath talking to you.”

“Please boss, I really did my best. I told you Ramsay was watching her didn’t I? S-so I’ve not failed you completely, and I gave you all that information about that new guy she was seeing. Please give me another chance! Think of my wife and kids! Please!”

“Listen to me. From now on, you’ll be guarding her with your life. I’ll send you two more men to help you out, but if you slip up again, I will bury you. I will send people to come knocking at your door in the dead of night to drag you out to one of my building sites and let them pour concrete over you till you fucking drown in it. I am going to bury you into the walls and turn you into one of those lovely cast statues after your body rotted away and send it to your wife and kids with a neat bow tied around your neck for Christmas. What happened tonight cannot happen again. Do you understand me?”

“Y-yes boss. I understand.”

Dean was glaring at Petyr after he had ended the call. “What?” Petyr barked, putting away his phone.

“Nothing.”

“Make sure you get rid of the car.” He noticed the fear in Dean’s eyes when he walked right pass him. I’ve just threatened to bury someone alive who had been loyal to me for the last three years. I’ve met his wife and let Ros sent flowers to her when she gave birth to his children. What the fuck is wrong with me? He walked into the kitchen and searched through the cupboards till he found the bottle of Irish Whiskey that he knew Clegane kept aside for some particularly bad days. Petyr had never cared much for alcohol before. He didn’t like the taste and dreaded the effect it had on him, making him lose control over himself and clouding his mind, but of late, he had found himself increasingly pinching from Sandor’s stash, more often than not, it happened on those dreadful Friday nights after he had seen Sansa, getting on happily with her life without him.

Clegane always claimed that it could make him forget even the most horrid things he had ever done. If it’s good enough for the bloody Hound, it’s good enough for me. Petyr unscrewed the bottle and took a long swig, letting the fire of the liquid burn all the way down his throat into his stomach. It was utterly revolting, and he was about to put it away again when he saw Dean through the kitchen window, whistling a merry tune while he walked back to the garage with a bucket of soap-water, a brush, and what seemed to be a stick to clear out the meaty bits of human flesh from the car.

I killed someone today. Petyr shut his eyes, listening to the wet snap of bones and sinews of the man’s ribcage echoing in his ears. I really killed someone. I didn’t just order his execution. I was his executioner. I did it with my own hands. In his mind’s eye he once again saw the raw fear and utter disgust on Sansa’s face when she saw how he dealt Ramsay's hitman. It made his stomach turn. Is this how it feels to be one of them, those brutal killers who he had once so envied because they and everything they stood for dominated his whole world?

I was taught that slaying the villain and saving the damsel in distress was the right and heroic thing to do, but I bet they won't sing those same pretty songs to praise the way how I got rid of Sansa’s would-be killer.

As the alcohol began to slowly seep into his blood, his memories played another nasty trick on him and made him recall how earlier this evening he had seen her kiss the man who she had now chosen to share her life with. Harrold Hardyng, heir to the grand Hardyng family fortune, a man so perfect that he could have been a cartoon Disney version of prince Charming. He was at least a head taller than Petyr was, and he was everything that Petyr was not, completely respectable, honorable…possibly even sane...basically not a murdering crime lord and pathological liar with clear signs of mental instability.

Would you just stop it! Do I really need more reasons to be absolutely disgusted with myself?

He took another swig of Whiskey, thinking he probably needed the entire bottle to get some of his calm and sanity restored, or any chance of sleep for that matter. Hugging the bottle tightly to his chest, while his head started to feel like his mind was being carried away by a warm tide of blood rushing behind his eyeballs, he tried to find his way to the winding staircase in the hall. He had hoped to be able to sneak up quietly to his bedroom without anyone noticing, but Ros managed to sneak up at him first.

“You’re back.” The cheerful smile immediately vanished from her face when she saw the state he was in. “Is something wrong?”

Petyr looked up at her, his eyes glossy and red. I saw her with another man Ros. He wanted to confess to her. Someone who is undoubtedly a hundred times more suitable for her then me, and who could probably make her truly happy, give her everything she so very much deserves...and I just wanted to plow my car right into that lucky moron to wipe that cheesy ecstatic grin off his fucking face. I didn’t get to do that, but I did get to kill someone else, I killed someone for her to keep her safe...and she doesn’t even know… And I ended up shouting crazy threats at my phone and scaring the shit out of my men like some fucking psycho lunatic, while all I really wanted was to just to be able to walk up to her and…and put my head in her lap.

“Petyr?” Ros asked quietly, shocked when she saw a tear roll down his flustered cheek. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.” He replied, quickly wiping the wetness from his eyes with his sleeve. He needed to get out of sight of everyone before he really lost it.

“How did your date go?” She barely dared to ask about it.

"It went fine." He bit on his lower lip. “Like a fucking car crash really.” He finally replied, grinning through his grief.

“Petyr-“

“Not now Ros, please. All I want is to not to be bothered for a while.” Without looking at her again, he rushed up the stairs with two steps at the time and vanished inside his room, slamming the door shut and locking it from the inside.

“What the fuck is wrong with him?” Clegane said when he saw Ros left standing near the bottom of the staircase with a worried look in her eyes.

“I honestly don’t know. He went upstairs with a bottle of Whiskey.”

“For fuck’s sake. He’s trying to get drunk again.” Sandor rasped, rolling his eyes. “You see, that’s what happens when you keep indulging him in his delusions. Date fucking night, it’s fucking depressing I tell you.”

“What’s going on?” Arya appeared out of nowhere, biting into an apple she had nicked from the pantry.

“Where the heck were you?” Sandor asked. “I told you, I was supposed to keep an eye on you.”

“I was completely bored out of my mind.” She said, chewing while speaking. “I went out to take a stroll in the garden. It's not my fault that it’s so freakishly large.” She swallowed her mouthful and stared back at the others. “You both look like someone has just died.” She commented. “What the heck did I miss?”

 

Notes: Next time, Petyr gets to cross out a name on his list.

 

Chapter Text

 

In this post: Myranda finally gets what she deserves…

Selected music tracks:

For part 1 for Myranda’s POV

Crush

For part 3, Petyr’s POV

Arsonist’s lullaby

 

1.

I would die for you

I've been dying just to feel you by my side

To know that you're mine

I will cry for you
I will wash away your pain with all my tears
And drown your fear

I will burn for you
Feel pain for you
I will twist the knife and bleed my aching heart
And tear it apart

I will lie for you
Beg and steal for you
I will crawl on hands and knees until you see

You're just like me

Violate all the love that I'm missing
Throw away all the pain that I'm living
You will believe in me
And I could never be ignored

- Garbage, Crush

 

The room was dark, and smelled of sweat, woodfire, and greasy cooking. Myranda had little trouble to realize that she was no longer in her own bedroom. After the fiasco with Jeyne Poole, Ramsay had sent her to Bruges to hide from his infuriated father's wrath. Needless to say, she had not been very happy about it, finding the charming little Belgian city as appealing as the many horseshit shantytowns surrounding Winterfell she remembered from her childhood. This place however, did not only look like a cheap tourist trap imitation of the real thing, it really was genuinely a medieval shit-hole.

Westeros. She thought. I am back in Westeros. What the hell am I doing here?

Then she recalled the last time she had ended up in a place like this. There had been a burning candle, a blood red one with a strange crimson flame, and a woman, kneeling in front of it in a back room of some equally backward looking tavern. She had been puzzled and scared the first time she experienced this. Now that she had been through this several times, she didn’t feel scared any longer.

A young woman, a bit on the fat side, but not un-pretty, with round apple cheeks and moist plump lips, was kneeling in front of her on the chicken shit and straw covered floor, her brown eyes large in fright as she gazed up at her.

“The red virgin.” She fretted, almost choking on her breath in awe. “Oh for the love of the holy Seven, it worked! I did it. I really did it! I have summoned the red virgin!”

Myranda had to suppress a smirk. The red virgin. She recalled. That’s what all these funny women are calling me. She was hardly a virgin. It felt ridiculous to be worshiped as one.

“Why did you summon me?” She asked calmly. She was playing her part, knowing by now that this was what these women expected from her.

It took a while for the flabbergasted woman to compose herself. “Your holiness…I mean your unholiness. Is that the correct way to address you? I really don’t know.” Suddenly panic seized her. “I have always been a faithful follower of the Seven.” She lamented. “I have never summoned a demon before! I have always been a good, god-fearing woman. I swear.”

A demon. Is that what she was now? Myranda certainly did not feel very saintly at the moment, facing a bumbling lardcake who was keeping her stranded in this damp depressing hole that reminded her too much of her own lowly birth. “Shut it.” Myranda commanded, getting annoyed. “Why do you even want to be good? Good is boring. If I were you, I would rather be enjoying myself." To hell with everyone else, especially Ramsay. Myranda studied her for a while, maybe there was still a little fun to be had with this shivering wreck. The woman was scared out of her wits by her presence, that much was certain, but there was also something else. With these wretched women, there was always something else.

“You summoned me for a reason. Tell me what that is. Don’t waste my time.”

“I-I want my master and mistress dead.” The young woman finally confessed.

This was more like it. “You want them gone?” Myranda mused, a half smile played on her ruby lips. “Why?”

It turned out that the young woman was a lowly servant. Her master, a Riverland farmer of modest means, was her lover, and it was she who he loved, not his wife, or so the young impressionable fool had thought. Whenever they were alone, out in the fields or down here in the kitchen in the cellar out of his wife's sight, he had made passionate love to her, and soon she had found herself pregnant. But instead of embracing his future child as she was convinced he would, he had forced her to get rid of it, because the mistress of the house didn’t want him to raise a bastard. It was only then that the simpleton finally realized what kind of heartless git her master really was. She cried for 3 long nights after the Moon tea had washed her babe out of her womb, then she took all of her savings and walked for 4 days to find the old woman who lived alone in the ancient woods near the next village, and bought the candle from her for 1 silver dragon. She had exactly carried out the ritual following the old woman’s instructions, and now, the demon she had summoned was standing right in front of her.

“You want revenge.” Myranda concluded. “You want to hurt your master, because he cares for his wife and doesn't care about you.”

“He forced me.” The woman cried out. “He made me drink Moon tea to get rid of our child, just because that bitch told him so! I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was bleeding for a whole week. He didn’t even come down in the kitchen to see if was alright. I am nothing to him.” She swallowed her tears and continued. “I want him dead.” She whispered bitterly. “I want them both dead. Oh red virgin, I pray to you, do your worst! Make them both suffer like I have suf -.”

Her last word died in her throat when a loud knocking disturbed the night's peace in the farmhouse. “Open up!” Someone yelled. Startled, she hastened to get up when she realized that the shouting came from the front door. “Let us enter in the name of the king!”

What’s going on? Who are those men?”

“Soldiers, sent by king Geoffrey to arrest your master and his household. He’s being charged with treason for secretly selling grain to the northern troops.” Myranda explained.

T-treason? But that's punishable by death!”

“And a very painful one too.” Myranda grinned, just when the soldiers forced the lock and came down the narrow staircase into the kitchen.

“Hey, there is a fat one in here!” One of them shouted at his mate. “You got nice tits girl.” The other laughed, and took her roughly by her arm.

"No!" the woman cried out, pulling away. "Why are you taking me!? I didn’t do anything! It was my master! I didn’t sell anything to Robb Stark’s troops!”

“Tough luck dearie.” Myranda mused. “They don’t really care if you’re innocent or not. They were told to drag everyone out to the courtyard and to get rid of you all. Although they might do a bit of raping and torturing first.”

“Help me!” She begged Myranda.

“Sorry.” She replied with a nonchalant shrug. “But you got what you want.” She added with a cheerful smile. “Your heartless master and his bitch wife will have their heads rotting on spikes in a couple hours time. It's just that yours will be rotting beside theirs.”

The hysterical cries that came from the young woman as the soldiers started to rip off her clothes sounded barely human. “Oh may the seven gods forgive me for calling the wrath of a demon on this house! No, no please no!”

Myranda just sniggered while she followed the soldiers as they dragged the poor half naked woman into one of the looted bedrooms. One was already loosening his belt and his trousers while the other shoved her down on her master's bed. There was a mirror in the room, and Myranda caught a glimpse of he own reflection as she passed.

What she saw wiped the smile right off her face.

She finally found out why all these wronged women were calling her the red virgin, for as lovely and desirable the maiden of the Seven was, so shockingly frightful and repulsive was her demon counterpart. Her skin was sweating beads of blood that ran like streams down her cheeks. Her eyes were mad, large  saucers that peered through the grotesque crimson mask, swimming in dark hollow eyesockets that wept fat maggots like tears. Myranda opened her mouth to scream, and a river of blood, as black as ink, flowed out.

She woke screaming her lungs out, bolting upright in her bed with her long dark curls stuck in damp strands on her forehead. With her heart rattling inside her chest, she frantically checked her left hand. The mark, shaped like a pentagram that Milesandre had branded in her palm during the ritual was still there. She clearly remembered the red witch's warnings and she had been keeping a worried eye on it ever since.

The outer lines had started to turn scar-like and red.    

Thoroughly spooked and sucking in an anxious breath of air, her hand shot out to reach for her iphone lying next to her pillow. She scanned for any new messages, but there were none, not even a lousy text from him. She must have left Ramsay at least a hundred messages, and she had tried to call him at least a thousand times since his men had brought her here to hide out in his seedy little sex club, but ever since she had crossed the channel, it was like she was attempting to communicate with a concrete wall. Angry that he continued to ignore her, she cursed the cruel heartless bastard. If only I could do to him what I did to the men of those women. She chewed nervously on her ruby lips as she tried to phone him again, letting it ring for ages, but of course he doesn’t pick up. That selfish little shit was too much with his head up his daddy’s asshole right now to care about her. Truly enraged and letting out a frustrated cry, she flung the phone against the wall. That shithead! How dare he abandon her like this? After all she had done to please him! He doesn’t deserve her!

She sucked in snot and tears, and wiped her runny mascara all over her cheeks, turning her face into a complete mess. She stared ahead of her into nothing for a while, but then changed her mind and picked up her phone to send Ramsay a message.

Doggy girl: If you don’t contact me within a day, I will tell your father that you knew about what I was going to do with that Poole bitch! Let’s find out what your daddy has to say about that!


This time, it didn’t take so long for him to send her a reply.

The great Flayer: You wouldn’t….

Doggy girl: You know me, fearless…

Her phone finally rang, with mixed feelings of joy and dread choking her chest, she answered the call.

“Ramsay.” She whispered, it was pathetic really, but even hearing the sound of his breathing seemed to calm her down. If only he could just shut his mouth and leave it at that.

“What the fuck are you playing at?" He raged instead. "My dad is going into politics next month. He is about to hand all of his businesses over to me. He finally trusts me again. You’re going to spoil everything.”

“That’s not my problem.” She tried to sound as cold and heartless as he did. “Why didn’t you call me?”

“For fuck’s sake! My dad’s men are looking for you everywhere. The old man is not stupid. If I contact you, they ‘ll find you, and you will end up being cut up into ribbons and dumped somewhere in a ditch. You have ruined a very lucrative marriage for our family.”

"But you said you hated the idea of being married to her! You said you didn’t love her and would be glad to be rid of that silly cow!”

“Yes yes! She was a whiny boring cunt, but she was very rich and her dad owns half of the UK black market. We agreed that we would wait Myranda." He pointed out accusingly. "Instead you decided to go solo and go completely psycho on her months before I had even the chance to sign the marriage papers.”

“You were as impatient as I was to get rid of her. But now I am the one in exile in this shithole of a country while you keep up the pretence of being a good loyal son to your moron of a father...I wonder what Roose would do if he finds out that it was you who have left me in charge of your men to carry out her abduction.”

“Are you threatening me Myranda?" His voice suddenly  turned soft and dangerous. "Don’t get any silly ideas in your head now. You don’t want me to get angry with you.”

“Then get me out of this shithole!”

“I sent you to Bruges because you needed somewhere to hide out for a while. My father is not going to forget about this very soon. You should stay there if you know what’s good for you.” He warned.

“Ramsay, I can’t. I can’t stay here. I am lonely.” She confessed, finally breaking down. “That red witch who helped us - She did something horrible to us, didn’t she? I am having those nightmares again. The ones in which I am back in Westeros and am turned into a demon? And what the hell is wrong with that mark? That witch woman said that if we kill someone to send back to purgatory in our place, it will not turn red and disappear, but mine has just turned red at the edges. We must have killed a dozen people by now, but it’s not making any difference. Why is it not fading? Oh, could you please come over Ramsay? I am scared. I don’t know what to do.”

“Stop whining! You're boring me with your constant whining! Do you want me to stop giving a fuck about you all together? Tell my men to stop protecting you and kick you out in the streets? Is that what you want?”

“No, no, that’s not –“ She swallowed down her tears and forced herself to sound calmer. “I won’t bore you anymore Ramsay. I just…I just want to hear your voice.” She admitted, feeling her heart shatter into a million tiny little pieces.

“Just stay where you are right now.” Ramsay replied coldly. “If the times are right, I will come over to see you. Don’t you dare to contact my father, or I will let my men flay you alive.”

With that said, her lover hung up on her.

 

2.

“Show me the mark on your hand Petyr.”

He was sitting with the red priestess in the circle of burning candles in her flat. He offered her his hand, palm side up.


“It’s not turning red yet.” Melisandre commented, and gazed up at him, the reflection of the flames shimmered in her eyes.

“It should disappear soon.” Petyr told her, recalling what had happened last night, and what he had promised to the Lord of Light.

“Why do you think it would?”

“Because…I killed someone today.” He explained, slightly puzzled by her question. “I mean I didn’t order or schemed or planned his death. I didn’t let anyone else soil his hands for me. I did it. His blood is directly on my hands. Isn’t that what was required of me?”

“You seem regretful. Did you not want him dead?”

“Perhaps not…but I had no other choice. He was sent by Ramsay Bolton to get rid of Sansa. I had to protect her.”

“And now you believe that the debt you owe to my Lord is fully paid?”

Her strange comments started to raise Petyr’s suspicions. “You said, a life for a life.” He reminded her strictly. “That’s what I did. I took a life in exchange for mine.”

“I said that the life you gain must be repaid with another soul of your choice. Clearly, it was not your choice to kill that assassin who was threatening Sansa Stark's life. The circumstances forced you to act. It was not a decision that came from your heart.”

Petyr shook his head, realizing where this was heading. “That’s not fair.” He said with a sour grin.

“My dear lord Bealish, you have existed in these different planes long enough to know that justice and fairness only exist in songs and fairytales to pacify little babes. If not, you must wise up quickly.” She let go of his hand. “Your life in this world is only borrowed. If you do not repay your debt to my lord very soon, he will no longer grant you this great favor. Be very careful Petyr, don’t waste the most precious thing you have on building grand schemes that may never come to completion, your time is ticking away.” She stood up and lifted her blood red dress to leave the circle.

“Wait! You said it didn’t matter whose soul I took, and now suddenly it does? Tell me then, whose life should I take to make it count?”

“You must take a life that you have chosen for yourself.”

“Yes, you keep telling me that, considering your advice is going to determine if I am going to spend another eternity in hell or not, could you just help me out here and be a little bit more specific about it?” Petyr retorted with great sarcasm to hide his growing anxiety. “It all remains rather confusing to me. Can’t you just let your lord stick his giant almighty finger through the clouds and point out exactly, who I need to kill to satisfy his divine bloodlust?”

“It’s nothing complicated, it’s not a riddle that you need to solve.” Milesandre answered, seemingly astonished that he had not figured it out yet. “Your heart has already decided for you. So you shouldn’t ask me or the Lord of Light. You should ask yourself.” She turned and walked away into the shadows, disappearing from his sight. Only her voice remained, a warning echoing through the fog of sleep that was quickly starting to fade.

“Remember Petyr, repay your dept to my lord, or eternal hell awaits.”

“Wait!” Petyr cried out, and woke up in bed, his damp clothes stuck to his body that was drenched in sweat. The empty bottle of Whiskey was lying next to him on a booze stained pillow. Recalling his dream, he immediately checked his mark. As expected, it had not disappeared, but at least all the lines were still black.

With his head filled with thoughts and his heart filled with worries, Petyr dressed himself and went downstairs to the kitchen, craving a good dose of caffeine to help him sort out his befuddled mind. He found Clegane sitting at the kitchen table. The Hound was busy shoving his usual impressive mount of fried eggs, pork sausages and toast buttered with lard down for breakfast, and didn’t bother to say anything when he saw his boss downing at least 8 cups of double espresso before he even left the side of the coffee machine and came to sit down next to him with a large mug filled to the rim with ink-black coffee.

“Rough night huh?” The Hound growled, looking at him sideways while he wiped yellow yolk from his lips.

Petyr just uttered a noise that was somewhere between a groan and a sigh, then he caught a glimpse of what he thought was something round and dark on Sandor's palm. He grabbed the Hound’s hand and scanned it obsessively, convinced that he had seen the same mark on him that was burnt on his own skin, but it turned out to be only a smudge of soot, which must have come from the messy way how Sandor prepared his greasy meals.

Idiot. Petyr reminded himself. How often have you checked already? He does not have a mark. You’re the only one who needs to pay your fare in blood.

The Hound stared at him. “You’re not turning fucking gay now because your “wife” doesn’t want you?” He rasped, after Petyr let go of him. Clegane was actually doing the thing with the fingers to indicate the quotation marks. Petyr let out a sigh, too emotionally exhausted to tell him to fuck off, and just glared back tiredly at him.

“Just saying.” Sandor muttered, realizing that perhaps, he had gone a bit too far. “You’re not my type.”

“No...you probably prefer someone with a sweet dimpled smile and red braided locks.” Petyr muttered. He shifted his gaze to Ros who just came into the kitchen, fumbling with her hair-band to fix her braid. When she saw Petyr sitting at the table she beamed a radiant smile at him that made the dimples in her rosy cheeks show.

“Oh, you’re up already.” She said, happy to see that he wasn’t still sulking in his room after last night. “Good morning Petyr, Sandor.” She flashed the Hound a little smile before she went over to the kitchen counter to make herself a cup of tea.

Petyr fixed his eyes back on Sandor, and just grinned.

“Don’t you dare to say another fucking thing.” Sandor warned, his raspy voice barely a whisper.

“Just trying to point out the obvious. There is no need for us both to be unlucky in love.”

“What are you boys on about?” Ros asked, turning around and noticing that both were looking at her. “Is there something you want to tell me?”

“Yes.” Petyr said, just when Clegane replied with a hoarse no, followed by what would have been a really nasty kick under the table aimed at Petyr’s left knee, if it wasn’t that he was quick enough to move out of the way in time. Petyr shot another smug grin at Sandor before he continued. “Sandor and I are going back to Belgium tomorrow.”

“Belgium? So soon?” Ros furrowed her brows. “You’ve been back hardly a week.”

“We still have some unfinished business to attend to in Bruges.”

“It’s not for those bloody Russians again, is it?” Ros opted, looking really concerned.

“It’s not for mister Aleksei.” Petyr replied, trying to calm her down. “You don’t need to worry. I know he’s a nutter, but we are on his good side at the moment. His great talent for violence shall work in our advantage for the coming weeks. After that you, I promise he won’t bother us again.” He gave Ros a vague smile, before he fished out his phone from his pocket to get started. So much still had to be done in preparation for this much-anticipated trip, he really needed to stop himself from being distracted. Time is ticking away Petyr. He heard Milesandre say. Don’t waste what you do not have. “I am leaving Dean and a dozen men behind to keep on eye on our little assassin girl. I will also double the security to make sure that you’re safe.”

“Petyr.” Ros asked hesitantly, knowing that look on his face far too well. “You’re not going to do something dangerous, are you?”

“Not dangerous at all. Just a surprise visit to an old friend.” Petyr said, smiling reassuringly at her while he let his phone ring and waited for Vayon Poole to pick up.

Ros noticed that his eyes were not smiling along.

 

3.

When I was a child, I heard voices
Some would sing and some would scream
You soon find you have few choices
I learned the voices died with me

When I was a man I thought it ended
When I knew love's perfect ache
But my peace has always depended
On all the ashes in my wake

All you have is your fire
And the place you need to reach
Don't you ever tame your demons
But always keep 'em on a leash

- Hozier, Arsonist’s lullaby

 

“So you’re from the UK.” She commented as she slid on the bar stool next him.

The lights in the busy club wasn’t particularly clear, but Myranda had easily spotted the handsome man in the silver grey suit sitting all alone at the bar from right across the room. Ever since she was stuck here by Ramsay in his fancy up-market brothel, she had played the hostess of the establishment. Not that she needed to work from Ramsay, she volunteered. It took away some of her boredom, and she certainly didn’t mind dealing with the more good-looking clients. She also liked playing with Ramsay’s stock of much frightened and abused girls. It was almost like the good old times really, with lots of screaming and crying and bleeding…only Ramsay wasn’t here to enjoy it with her. She quietly cursed herself for thinking of that heartless bastard again and quickly returned her attention to her well-dressed, and exceptionally well-paying client, who grinned and tilted his head slightly to study her. Myranda did the same, taking in his features. He seemed of indeterminate age, but looked very youthful, with a sharp, clean shaven face and short dark curls with only a touch of grey at his temples. He had the kind of blue grey eyes a girl could drown in…or where they green? They seemed to shift in shade whenever she tried to decide on the color.         

“You’re from the UK too.” He told her, widening his grin, and raising his voice above the music and the noisy conversations from the crowd around them. He had a low husky voice that was so soft that she felt the urge to lean closer to him to hear him speak more clearly.

“Which part are you from?”

“Which part do you think I am from?”

“Well, you definitely got an accent. You sound slightly Northern. Are you a northerner?”

That charming grin again. “Look, I do recall explicitly reading in the brochure that I don’t need to tell the girls anything about myself.” He laughed, and took a sip of his champagne. Myranda noticed that despite the sweaty atmosphere in the fully packed club, he kept his black leather gloves on. “This was supposed to be a very discrete establishment.” He added.

“It is. Very discrete.” Myranda said, pouting her ruby lips as she leaned back over the bar counter, her low cut top revealing a bit too much of her perky bosom. “You don’t have to tell me anything real if you don’t want to. You could just lie. Everybody who comes in here does.” She looked around, flashing her eyelashes seductively. “It’s just that there are an awful lot of Italians and Russians here for the last couple weeks. I was happy to finally talk to someone from home for a change. It’s such a shame that us Brits are becoming a bloody minority in the club.”

“We are in Belgium. We are supposed to be a minority.” He joked.

“Oh, it’s not that I really care where they’re from. Men are still men. It’s just that they often have very different tastes and desires. Speaking of it. What are you into, mister “Appleby”?" She ran her blood red fingernails over the lapels of his suit. "Assuming that you don’t mind me calling you by your - no doubt - entirely made up name.”

“Appleby would be fine. Concerning my preferences….I don’t want to scare you off, but they are perhaps a touch exotic and unusual.”

“If you really have read that stupid brochure, you know that doesn’t matter in here.” Myranda laughed, swiping back her long chestnut locks with a flick of her hand. “Come on, tell me. Otherwise how are we supposed to give you a night that is really worth the 20 grand that you’ve paid for?”

A bit shy, her client beckoned her to come closer, then leaned over and whispered into her ear.

“If it’s not too much, I would like to tie down one of your lovely ladies.”

“Tie them down?” Myranda sniggered, hardly believing what she had just heard. “Is that it? You just want some good old-fashioned bondage play?”

“It’s not a strange request for you?”

“No, of course not. Honestly, this is quite safe, almost vanilla. Gosh and you are blushing about it too. How fucking adorable.” She laughed and stood up to leave the bar. “Come with me.” She said, beckoning with her slender finger. Her client followed her through a glass bead curtain at the back of the room, down a spiral staircase into a long stretch of underground corridor. It was damp and vaulted, lit by dim red led lights that made the entire place look like a secret passageway to the devil’s dungeon.

“What is this place?” Appleby asked slightly bewildered, and glared through one of the many barred windows that lined the brick walls.

“Special rooms for our guests with some kind of sex asylum/torture chamber theme. Not all of the men who come here are so modest in their desires as you are. Some like to play with their girls a bit more roughly.” She explained, right when they passed by another window. The room on the other side was occupied. A girl was tied up naked by her wrists from the ceiling. A short muscular man dressed in black, his face hidden underneath a black hood, made her scream every time he cracked the metal ends of his whip on her bloodied back.

“She doesn’t sound like she is enjoying herself.” He remarked. “Is this kind of thing not supposed to be happening with mutual consent?”

“Are you accusing us of hiring actresses to service our clients?” Myranda laughed. “It’s all real dearie. She isn’t faking it. She really is in pain. She rather wouldn’t be of course, but they all have very little choice in the matter. East European whores are not difficult to come by, if you know the direct line to the right suppliers." She studied his face, and found it very hard to read. "They scream a lot, but you will be surprised how eager they are to please you. They know if they are not used, we will simply get rid of them, and I don’t mean sending them back to their poor distraught parents somewhere in the Russian countryside.” Myranda turned to look at him. “Does this not turn you on mister Appleby?” She whispered, giving him a wicked little smile, and enjoying the first signs of distress she thought she finally saw appearing in his eyes. “I thought you wanted this. Otherwise, why even bother to come here?”

He remained silent. There was a vulnerability in his reserved response that she found very attractive. Oh it would be such a delight to flay away that thin surface of calm, to expose whatever humanity that lies beneath and to thoroughly corrupt it, like rubbing dirt into an opened wound. You might not be entirely sure that you like this the first time, but I am sure I can show you a few things that could easily change your mind.

She turned away from him. “Come this way.” She opened a door at the end of the corridor and let him go through first.

“We have prepared a private room for you. I took the liberty of stocking it myself.” She proudly showed him the collection that was laid out on silver trays on the table in front of him. “Whips, knives, and all sorts of medical instruments, all stainless steel of course, all of excellent quality.” She turned around and pointed out the devices, a rack, a Judas chair, and a wooden horse. They all brought back fond memories of Ramsay, keeping busy with one of his countless whores while she watched and assisted him. She had to turn her gaze away to stop herself of becoming too depressed and nostalgic. “You could use any of these for your enjoyment." She continued with her tour. "If you don’t know how they work, I can show you.” She noticed the lack of response coming from his client. “And of course –“ She walked over to a cage that stood in a dark corner of the room. Two young women were locked up inside. “Here are the girls.” Myranda unlocked the cage door and dragged out a weeping woman by her hair. “Aren’t they a just a lovely pair?” She said, stroking over the poor shivering creature's breasts with her glossy fingernail. “I hope you don’t mind that they are both red heads.”

“What are their names?” Her client asked in a quiet voice.

“Oh you could call them whatever you want. This one, I usually call cunt-face.” She said with a playful grin, and pulled up the girl’s tear-stained face to show her off to him. “Pretty isn’t she? You could make her less pretty if that bothers you. They are yours for the entire night. For the money you’ve paid, you don’t even necessarily need to return them to us alive tomorrow morning.”

“Please please please.” Whispered the girl, pleading with the only word in the English language that she knew, before she started repeating her desperate mantra in her own mother tongue. Myranda slapped her hard in her face.

“You want me to gag her?” Myranda opted playfully.

Her client seemed repulsed. “Really, that won’t be necessary.”

“Suit yourself.” She shrugged, getting annoyed with him. If you want vanilla sex, why don't you go home and fuck your wife instead? She let go of the shivering wreck. “You could ring that bell next to the door if you need any assistance or want refreshments.” She explained in a businesslike tune as she started to head back out. “Anything you want, champagne, wine, whiskey, it’s on the house. In case it gets really messy in here, you could also call for someone to clean up before you proceed. No need to get all that gore on those lovely expensive looking shoes.” She added with a polite half-smile, before she turned away.

“Wait.” He came after her and gave her a generous smile. “Are you leaving me so soon? You’re not going to join in?”

“No I am afraid not.” Myranda replied, laughing at the very preposterous idea. “I am the club manager here, not part of the merchandise.”

“I am not asking you to join them, but to join me.” He walked up to her. His gloved hand reached out behind her neck and brushed away a strand of her hair. “You look very lovely, and very very bored. You look like you could use a bit of distraction.”

Mister Appleby.” Myranda said, scraping her throat as she felt a slight tingling sensation run down her spine, as if his touch was secretly charged with a sensual sort of electricity. “If you can find this place all by yourself, then you must be aware to whom this establishment belongs to. I can tell you, I am very close to the owner, and he doesn’t like other people touching his property.”

“So you consider yourself his property?" He grinned teasingly. Tell me then, is your owner here?” He whispered, still grinning, oh so very seductively.

“No.” She could feel the heat of his body warming her skin. It was dangerous to stand so close to him. One of Ramsay’s minions could find her here and report back to him, but…she so very much longed for it, to finally, at long last, be touched again by another living soul. It has been such a long time since she had felt anything real. Even the last of the bruises that Ramsay had left behind on her arms and thighs from the last time they had a fight had already faded away, leaving her yet again with nothing to remind her of her lover. If she could just pretend that this man was Ramsay, only for one night, and let him touch her the way Ramsay used to do. Would that truly be so terrible?

“Would you tell him anything?”

“No.” Myranda replied, knowing that her lover would simply kill her if he ever found out that she was unfaithful to him. He didn’t want her, but he didn’t want any other man to have her. How utterly unfair is that?

“Then, what your jealous lover does not know, wouldn’t hurt us, would it?”

She thought of the countless of times that Ramsay had fucked one of his playthings right in front of her eyes, mocking her, insisting how much better this new whore was compared to her, cutting into her with his cruel thoughtless words and hurting her more than any of his vile dogs or his fists ever could. She made up her mind and leaned over to Appleby and hungrily, revengefully, planted her lips on his. She wanted this man. She lusted for him, but she knew she could not love him. How could she ever love anyone after all what Ramsay had done to her? But there was an innocence that she recognized in him. One she just yearned to corrupt, very much like how Ramsay had once corrupted her when she was still young and innocent herself, looking after his father’s dogs in the kennel, knowing nothing of the horrors in this world.

“Tie her up for me.” He told her in a hoarse whisper after their lips parted again. His hand, still gloved in leather, moved up her thigh. “Show me how it is done.”

She took the Russian girl and tied her up. She really was very good at it, her slender hands working quickly and skillfully. She had plenty of practice on Ramsay’s whores. It did her good to see that Appleby truly wanted to learn from her. When she tied the more complicate knots, he practiced along with her with a shorter piece of rope, and soon seemed to get the hang of it. Maybe not just a dumb pretty face after all. She thought with some amusement.

“What do you want to do now?” Myranda asked, after she was finished and the girl was lying on the floor, fully immobilized. Her eyes were already eagerly going over the collection of torture instruments.

“Let me tie you down.” He suggested with a smile that promised pure wickedness.

“I thought you said I was going to join you, not them.”

“Please indulge me.” He laughed innocently. “I just want to practice on someone who won’t struggle too much. You don’t have to be afraid of me. I won’t hurt you.” He added with a little grin and a naughty twinkle in his eyes.

“I am not afraid of getting hurt.” Myranda said with a confident little smile. She was convinced that she had nothing to fear from this man. He was clearly a newby in this, and there was nothing of Ramsay’s dangerous predatory glee in his eyes when he watched her handling the girl, only a calm sort of curiosity that seemed to be completely harmless. So she held her hands on her back while she turned around to offer him her wrists. “Start with tying the rope around my neck.” She suggested.

He indeed turned out to be an excellent student, and had her restrained with her hands tied behind her back in no time. She ended up bend forward, strapped down across the wooden horse with her chest pressed somewhat uncomfortably against the wooden saddle, her legs spread wide, and her tight ass lifted up high in the air.

“So now that you got me all tied up, what do you want to do with me?” She asked with great amusement.

He remained silent, and walked around to study her, admiring his work like a sculptor would his creation. She noted that his gloved hands were trembling. The poor lamb, he’s still nervous. She thought. Then she felt his hand on her firm buttocks, caressing her through the thin fabric of her cotton skirt. Her breath caught when with a sudden harsh pull, her skirt was ripped apart right through the middle, leaving the light ribbons of fabric dandling between her legs. Then she felt her panties being pulled down far over her ankles, “What are you  –“ She stopped and breathed in deeply when she felt his hand slip in the crack of her ass, moving forward to caress the soft mount of her pussy. She was pushed apart and two gloved fingers penetrated her, slowly but steadily, while the firm side of his palm rubbed hard against her clit. She quivered, letting out a soft lingering moan, her ruby lips parted with a roll of her wet pink tongue. He continued working her up, making her soft and moist, His touch, first so very gentle and slow, became more forceful and impatient as his fingers pushed deeper and deeper inside, while he continued to mercilessly tease her now pink swollen clit. “Oh God.” She moaned, getting so wet that she could only feel the maddening want burning in the pit of stomach, and could hardly stand on her legs any longer. “Just get it over with and fuck me already!” She shouted out, her cheeks flushed red with frustration and desire.

Instead of doing what she begged him to do, he just…stopped. “You would like that, wouldn’t you? You sad perverse whore.” His voice had suddenly turned hard and cold. At first, she wasn’t that alarmed, she was used to being called much worse by Ramsay when he was fucking her. If anything, she might be even be more turned on by it, but then she picked up the commotion that came from outside in the corridor. 

“What is going on?” She craned up her head to look up at the shut door facing her. “What’s that noise?”

“Oh that?" Appleby looked casually over his shoulder. "There is no real cause for worry. It’s just the barking of dogs. Don’t you recognize it? I would think that the kennel master’s daughter would immediate know a sound like that.”

“Dogs?” She was so troubled by the frightening sounds that she had failed to be alarmed by his last statement. She tried to get up, straining the ropes that were wrapped tightly around her, but it was of no use. She was all tied up snugly like a big roll of roast and couldn’t even move an inch away from the wooden contraption. “What are bloody dogs doing in here?” She asked, noticing that despite her annoyance, her voice was high and almost shrieking.

“They’re here because of me.” He smiled, but there was no friendliness in that smile, and this time, Myranda did see a similar type of glee twinkling in his grey green eyes that she recognized all too well from her sadistic lover. “I asked my Russians friends to bring them over. They are very eager to meet you.”

“Meet me? W-what’s going on? You creep! Untie me!”

“Oh I don’t really want to do that. Not until the dogs are here at least.” His voice remained perfectly calm. He gently caressed her cheek. “You asked me what I was into.” He whispered into her ear. “Let me be completely honest with you, I am not much interested in these two girls, but I would just love to see you getting fucked by a dog.”

“You’re sick!” Myranda cried out. “You fucking pervert! Do you know what will happen to you if Ramsay Bolton finds out that you’re messing with me? His men are just outside. They will protect me! Touch me and there will be nothing left of you after they are finished!”

“Let them do their worst!” He laughed. “I have spent one and a half year under your psychopath boyfriend’s sadistic care when I was locked up in the asylum. Somehow, I managed to survive that. I doubt if a couple of his trench-monkeys are going to really shake up my world today.”

“A-asylum?” Finally the Penny dropped. “You know King's landing?”

“Take a good look at me Myranda.” He removed his gloves and showed her ten thin bony fingers. The layer of reddened skin covering them was ugly and scarred. He crouched down to meet her gaze at eye-level. “Don’t you recognize me? My hair was a little longer, and Ramsay didn’t let me shave, or bathe, or rest, or even eat or drink as a matter of fact. Come to think of it, I did look quite different back then." She cringed when he touched her with his withered hand. "I must have looked like an animal to you."

“You’re that - that lunatic Ramsay kept in the cellar!” She couldn’t believe her eyes. Ramsay had told her that he was dead. “The –the one Ramsay and I let the dogs –“

“Explains a lot of your current predicament, doesn’t it?” Petyr interrupted her. It was amusing for him to see how fast her tiny little brain finally seemed to be able put one and one together, and how much the extrapolation of that information to her imminent fate was wrecking her with blind panic.

“Please no.” She cried out, begging now. “Not the dogs. Have mercy. Please!”

“Mercy?" His voice turned to ice. "Why would I show you mercy? You certainly didn’t show me any. I thought you would be pleased. Back in the asylum you were such a big fan of bestiality. You used to enjoy it so much, watching me getting fucked by Ramsay’s mutts. Instead of watching, I want to let you experience it for yourself. I can assure you, it's quite an experience...”

“No! no! Help!” She shook her head and craned her neck again, shouting in the direction of the closed door in the vain hope that one of Ramsay’s men would hear her. “Help me! Help! I am in here with a lunatic who wants to hurt me!”

She cowered when loud gunshots were fired. Men were shouting in English and Russian, just on the other side of the door. Then one of Ramsay Bolton’s henchmen burst in carrying a riffle.

“Kill him!” Myranda yelled out. “He wants to hurt me! Shoot him! Shoot him!”

Petyr didn’t move when the man aimed his riffle at him. He also remained perfectly still and calm when a bullet fired from outside the hallway pierced through the man’s skull and sprayed a fine mist of blood over his face.

“Oops.” He tisked, as he watched him collapse on the floor. “He can’t do much for you now I am afraid.” He turned around to face Clegane. “You’re late by the way.”

The Hound shrugged and entered, followed by half a dozen of Vayon Poole’s men, tailed by the Russians who came in with a loud growling pack of dogs held back by tight leashes. All of the men were carrying guns. Some of them had somebody else’s blood on their clothes. “Couldn’t find a parking spot nearby.” Sandor rasped.

"There was one behind the little church at the end of the street." Petyr commented.

"Yeah, if only we were driving a pram and not a real car, it would fit perfectly." Sandor retorted.

“What’s with the other girls?” One of the Russians remarked, pointing out the two red heads, one still in the cage, the other, tied up on the floor and weeping hysterically. “I thought there was only going to be one? Not that we mind!” He added, earning a round of laughter from his fellow Russians.

“You’re not going to touch them.” Petyr told him, his blue grey eyes flashing him a warning. “They are staying with me. Clegane is going to take care of them. Your job here, as discussed with mister Aleksei, is only to take care of this whore!” He kicked the legs of the wooden horse to mark his point, making Myranda whimper in fright. Petyr turned back to her, a fake smile on his lips.

“But where are my manners! Myranda, my sweetling, let me introduce you to mister Fyodor. He’s here because his patron owes me a considerable favor. He is going to repay your kindness to me. He and his men are going to take you on a grand tour to visit all of the greatest whorehouses in Europe. Since you like watching people getting fucked by vile beasts so much, I think that this trip will satisfy you thoroughly. They promised me that they will film everything what they will do to you, from all possible angles, so when they lock you up in your cage at night you can watch and experience it all over again. Oh don’t go crying now. There won’t be anything done to you that hadn’t been done to me, and I turned out reasonably alright.” He concluded with grin.

“You’re mad! You’re sick in your head!” Myranda yelled out, snot and sweat and tears trickling down her chin. “Let me go...please! I had nothing to do with it. It was Ramsay. He forced me to hurt you. It’s Ramsay you really want, not me…Please spare me.” She begged in a tiny, frightened, broken voice.

“You’re right. It’s Ramsay who I really want…You’re nothing to me…”

Myranda, for as far as the ropes allowed, nodded fervently.

“But he isn’t here, is he? So…I think, for the moment, I have to be content to let the dogs have you. Fyodor here and his men would also like to take a turn. They've traveled all the way to Belgium just for you. I couldn’t possibly disappoint them.”

No, no please, no! Littlefinger!” She cried out, finally remembering his name. Littlefinger, please don’t do this!”

“Don’t call me by that name.” He warned her, before turning to the others. “Take these two girls outside and keep an eye on them.” He said to Sandor. “Gentlemen.” He told the Russians with a most generous smile. “She is all yours.”

Myranda screamed madly when the first of the Russian thugs led his drooling mutt forward.

“Oh come on Myranda, don’t be like that. I swear, Ramsay wouldn’t find out. It will be our little secret.” Petyr assured her mockingly. Then he stepped aside and let Aleksei’s men take care of the rest.

I wanted this. Petyr tried to keep reminding himself as he stood in the corner of the room with his back against the wall, listening how her screams intensified, and watched how the blood started to flow. I wanted to see her suffer. All this time, I have dreamed of it. I have planned and schemed and worked tirelessly every waking hour, ever since my escape, to bring this into reality, to give this bitch from hell what she deserves. Now that I am finally getting my revenge, I must not turn away. Keep your eyes on her face and keep smiling, just like she had done when you were left at her mercy.

But Petyr found it incredibly hard to watch, and despite what he had promised to himself, he had to shut his eyes from time to time to block out the most horrendous sights.

“It's bothering you?” Sandor said, finally noticing how awfully pale Petyr began to look. “You want to step outside?”

“No.” Petyr replied, shaking his head, slowly, stubbornly. “I want to stay.” What was it that Sansa told him her father used to say? The one who passes the sentence should swing the sword. He didn’t have the courage to carry out these horrific punishments himself, but at least he should remain to witness all the evil that he had set in motion.

It’s not that easy, is it? Littlefinger smirked. He had been let out of his perilous prison above the Moon door for today. Petyr couldn’t have dealt with Myranda on his own, and Littlefinger knew it. It’s one thing to dream of revenge, it’s quite another to actually stare your victim in the face. Why don’t you go hide out in that mind refuge of yours? Let me deal with the rest of whatever is left of our Myranda. You don’t need to do this to yourself.

“No.” Petyr muttered quietly, forcing himself to keep his eyes on his victim. “I am not leaving you in charge. Like I said, never again.” He noticed that Sandor was raising his eyebrow at him.

Are you sure? It’s going to be yet another heavy burden on your precious conscience. No matter how much you hate her, you’re not the kind of man who can enjoy this.

But you are. That’s exactly why I am staying and you’re going back in your cage after all this is over.”

As you wish…It might take a while though.

To Petyr, it seemed that it took ages for it to be over. When the Russians were finally done with her, they dragged whatever was left of Myranda to the back of their van that was waiting outside in the back-alley. After they had shoved her inside a wire dog cage and secured the padlocks, Petyr finally could muster enough courage to check on her.

“Can you still hear me, Myranda?”

The broken girl opened her bruised and swollen eyes and glared at him through the metal bars. The corners of her burst lips pulled into a nasty sneer.

“Anything you want to say before I let these men take you away? Perhaps, a final word of farewell to your beloved Ramsay? I promise I’ll pass on the message when we finally meet.”

She couldn’t say much, not after what the brutes had done to her jaw, but she did let him know exactly what she though of him by scraping her throat and spitting right into Petyr’s face.

“I am not upset." He calmly wiped the bloody spit off. " I believe in your view, I do deserve that. Goodbye Myranda.” He said coldly. “Try to enjoy whatever is left of your life. Don’t despair. I am not a complete monster like your sadistic sweetheart. When you’re not sure anymore if you want to live any longer, I’ll send someone to take you out of your misery. Believe me, that moment will come. I am speaking out of experience here.”

Large hazel eyes filled with rage and brimming with tears, continued to stare in wide-eyed helpless shock at him as Vayon Poole’s men slammed the back doors shut.

Petyr heard her scream out one more time. Completely mad it sounded, devoid of any reason and raw with terror. Did I sound like that when I was locked up in that horrific cellar?

He slammed his hand flat on the side of the vehicle to let the Russian driver know that he was finished with her. As he watched the van disappear around the corner of the street, he felt a deep sense of calm wash over him. He had not felt this peaceful ever since he had escaped from the asylum. Petyr let out a deep sigh. The face of his victim was already fading from his memory, leaving behind only an exhilarating sense of accomplishment. He felt like a man who had struggled up a formidable mountain and had finally reached the summit, staring over a field of serene white clouds. One down. He thought excitedly, and in his mind, he crossed out Myranda’s name from his bloody list. Two left to go. After that, I can finally turn a new leaf. Sansa and I can finally be together again.       

“You do realize-“ Littlefinger tried. “-You couldn’t have done this without me.”

“No I couldn’t have done this alone.” Petyr whispered to himself, smiling as he headed back inside to check on the others. “I had Clegane, Aleksei's gang and Vayon Poole to help me out. By the way –“ He added with a smirk. “You’re still going back to your cage.”

 

Notes: Yes, I know, it's been a long time since the last post. Thank you for your patience! In the next post I will start with the next chapter called Roose. In part I: It’s Petyr turn to finally get what he deserves….I will post on my Tumblr account if there are any updates. As always, let me know what you think, I love to hear from you, it keeps me motivated to write on.

Best wishes

H

Chapter Text

 

Notes: Recommended music

 Love the way you lie part II (cover version)

For the end of part 4

Hurricane

For part 1 and 4

 

1.

Sansa was alone in the office, sitting almost motionless at her desk as she stared at the monitor.

A word document was left open. Displayed on the screen was the name Paul Tybershire. She had been staring at it longer than she could keep track of. Thinking in silence. Chewing on the well mangled tip of her pencil.

Several letters were highlighted in red and green.

It had been two weeks since she had requested and received his official passport photo from the digital archive.

The man in the photo was certainly not Petyr, but neither was he the man in the photographs in the Tybershire file. His face did bear some resemblance, but it wasn’t him. Sansa was absolutely sure.

It was the reason why he was driving her absolutely crazy.

“Sansa?”

Her thoughts interrupted, she fluttered her eyelids, and finally turned away from the screen.

It was Jon Arryn.

“What are you still doing here child?" He asked. "It’s almost midnight. Even the cleaners have left."

Sansa didn’t know how fast to click away the document. “You’re still here.” She noted.

“I am the leader of the conservative party who wants to be elected prime minister." He leaned sideways on her desk. "My ambitions dictate that I have to be here.” He searched his pockets for cigarettes and lit one up. “You on the other hand -" He continued, inhaling. "Are my employee, who is already being heavily extorted by me with countless evenings of unpaid overtime.”

He blew out a perfect circle of smoke. “It wouldn’t be right to also claim your nights as well for the poor salary you receive.”

“You pay me well enough lord Arryn.” Sansa smiled. “- and I love to work for you.”

“That’s all very well, but you’ve been here since 8 this morning. You should go home and try to have a life.”

“I don’t have a life.” Coming from Sansa, lord Arryn worried that it wasn’t so much a joke as it was a statement. He had tried to give her a reason to have a private life. He had introduced Harold Hardyng to her at a party. The boy was completely besotted with her, but she didn’t seem to be much interested.

“Not until this country wizes up and finally decides Roose Bolton is un-electable.” Sansa continued with much high spirited conviction. “Besides, my report on Paul Tybershire is due tomorrow.”

“Anything interesting that I should know?”

“No.” The disappointment in her voice was not hard to detect. “Like you said, the guy is squeaky clean. I have been through his records for the last two weeks. Everything seems to check out fine.” She didn’t want to confess that she had been playing scrabble with the man’s name for over 2 days now. Being inquisitive was one thing, but this was turning too much into a mad fixation to be deemed mentally healthy.

“In that case it was a boring waste of your talent and time.” Jon Arryn concluded, exhaling another puff of smoke as he stood up and put his left hand in the pocket of his elegant suit. “Let's close it. I shall give you something else to dig your teeth in.”

That was exactly what she didn’t want to hear from him. “Really, I don’t mind working on his background check a little while longer.”

The minister raised a curious eyebrow at her.

“You said that you always wanted your people to be thorough.” She explained with a little smile, reminding him of his own words.

"Touche young lady." Jon Arryn replied, offering her a much amused grin. “But for now, please leave it for tomorrow. Go home and take care of yourself. You’re turning into a part of the cobwebbed office furniture if you stay any longer.”

“My car broke down last Tuesday. I came with the bus this morning. I think I have just missed the last one.” Sansa replied while she checked the time on her iphone.

“Then allow me to give you a ride home.”

They were in the back of Jon Arryn’s car, driving down a deserted road that went out of the city, when her boss stared out of the window and commented on the progress of the campaign.

“It’s not looking good.” He rolled down the side window and tapped the ash from his cigarette. Sansa inhaled a deep breath of the cool night air. Although she didn’t much mind the smoke in the cabin, the smell of damp grass and last traces of the scent of May flowers did her good. With a pinch of worry in the pit of her stomach, she watched him rub his thumb over the side of his nosebridge. Even the ambitious and driven lord Arryn was not completely impervious to fatigue at this late hour of the day. “Are the most recent polls really that bad?” She asked.

He shook his head. “The polls my child, are looking excellent. I seems that we’ve gained a slight advantage over Roose ever since we started reprinting your articles in the national papers.” He rested his elbow on the window sill, and looked very tired in the dim light of the passing streetlamps. “Did you see last night BBC commentary on the 9 o’ clock news? The one about the Boltons possible involvement in the Royal Bank of Scotland low-income credit scandal? Thanks to you, people are starting to take notice that things are not quite what they seem with this family. With a bit of luck, we might keep this going till election-day. Who knows, we might even win this thing.” He added, offering her a wink.

“But if public opinion is going in the right way, what’s wrong then?”

Jon Arryn’s smile faded. “Tyrion picked up some disturbing rumors from his, shall we saw, less official resources.”

“You mean his network of petty criminals?”

“They have their uses.” He replied. She remembered how Jon Arryn had explained to her why he tolerated and protected these crooks. I rather feed a few crumbs to these small fry than to loose a limb to a real shark.

“What did they find out?”

“The Boltons have not taken their considerable decline in popularity very well. They are planning something. Something big.”

“Like what?”

According to what Tyrion has been able to dig up for me, they are currently trying to recruit specialists to do a high risk job for them.” Although on the surface, he seemed to remain calm, his gaze hardened. “I have a suspicion...I think they are making plans to get rid of me.”

“You mean…they want to assassinate you?”

“That’s what it looks like.” Jon Arryn replied, calmly exhaling another puff of smoke.

Sansa felt her heart drop. She couldn’t understand how he could remain so cool-headed about this. “In that case, shouldn’t you notify the police, or tell the party to hire more security to keep an eye on you?”

She was absolutely mortified. She couldn’t allow this to happen. She couldn’t lose Jon Arryn too to those murderous Boltons. He had been her sole support in her struggle for vengeance. Ever since he took her under her wing, Petyr’s old tutor had kept her focused and sane. He had been there for her in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on her life. He had brought her back on her feet. Under his guidance, she had at least seen a possibility, a clear path to follow to ensure the Boltons demise. Without him, she would be lost. It would be like losing the very last part she had left of Petyr...

“Maybe you could go into hiding?” She opted with an urgency and panic in her voice.

The minister replied with such calm that it only further unnerved her. “I have been in politics for a very long time. I have made a lot of enemies. This is not the first time that one of them wants me dead. If I would simply crawl under a stone every time there’s a threat on my life I wouldn’t be able to ever show my face in public again.” He gave her a little smile that was supposed to reassure her. “We must not let those who want to terrorize us dictate what we can and cannot do, or they would have defeated us already. Besides.” He added decisively, convinced that it was right. “I cannot just disappear from the public eye now. There is little more than two weeks left to election. You know how the general public will respond. Out of sight, out of mind. I would be handing victory over to Roose Bolton without a proper fight.”

“But you must do something." She begged. "Maybe you can take some kind of precaution.” Tyrion, she should talk to Tyrion. He will be able to help her convince him to get himself to safety first. “What if –“

Her last words were cut short. The car suddenly hit the brakes hard. Her seat belt cut into her bosom as she jolted forward. "What's going on?" She swirled around and looked out of the back window. They have stopped in the middle of an empty country road, miles away from any residential areas.

"Why did we stop?" Jon Arryn asked his driver.

"There is another car in front of us. It’s blocking the road sir." He replied, without turning around to look lord Arryn in the eyes. It was too dark outside. Sansa couldn’t see any car parked in front. The driver was quickly unbuckling his seat belt. "I will go take a look."

He had barely placed one foot outside, when a pair of bright headlights turned up in the rearview mirror. Turning her gaze back again, she felt her fear swell inside her chest when two white vans came to a screeching halt right behind hem. There was loud shouting. The back doors swung wide open. Squinting into the blinding headlights, she saw 6 masked men climb out of the back. All dressed in black and fully armed with machine guns, they rushed towards their now stranded car.

“Don’t move.” Sansa’s eyes darted from the barrel to the thug with the manic looking clown mask who was aiming his gun at her from the side window, while two other men came from the other side and took aim at lord Arryn.

“Who are you people? What do you want?” The minister demanded to know.

“For now, we want you to shut up and come with us.” A thug wearing a cheery Santa Claus mask said. He stuck his gun through the open window.

The rest of the group went for lord Arryn’s chauffeur. He was standing next the vehicle, one hand on the door handle, the other raised high in hesitant surrender.

 “Move away from the car!” Barked one of the thugs.

“All right, all right!” The driver said. Sansa saw him reach down for something that was kept underneath the glove compartment. “Let me just kill the engine…” His movement suddenly accelerated, and his hand re-emerged with a semi-automatic pistol. Sansa thought that he was going to shoot down the nearest attacker, but instead, he made a half turn, like he was trying to take aim at one of the men who kept lord Arryn under shot. What is he doing? He’s never going to make it! Sansa thought. A split second later, and her instincts proved right. Their man was brought down with a single bullet through his skull, right between his eyes.

Sansa let out a cry.

The thugs shoved his lifeless body aside and unlocked the back seat doors. The man in the creepy clown mask flung the side door on Sansa’s side wide open. “Get out! Get out!” He barked, and pulled her out by her arm. He wasn’t tall, shorter than the rest of his gang, even a head shorter than Sansa was, and he wasn’t even muscular, but he had a surprisingly firm grip. Despite her fighting back furiously, she was dragged out of her seat and stumbled on her feet.

“Don’t harm the girl!” She heard Jon Arryn say. Her vision swayed from looking down at her shoes and the black asphalt back up to men surrounding the car. Jon Arryn was being taken away to the other van. The door at the back was open and waiting. He is going to disappear. Sansa thought, alarmed. They are going to drag him inside and shut the door and drive away, and that would be the last of what I will ever see of him…Just like I never saw Petyr alive again when they took him away from the police station.

Mortified, she shouted and pleaded with them to let him go, only to see the minister vanish inside the cabin of the white van, while she herself was spun around callously by her captors and dragged inside the back of the second van.

“Where are you taking him?!” Her voice trembled. She struggled to get it under control. She didn’t want to show them her fear.

They didn’t answer her. The short one shut the doors, locking her inside with the three of them. The man with the Santa Claus mask waved with his gun to point out that she should sit down on the wooden side bench. She obeyed, keeping her head down, shivering. Outside, she could hear a car engine start up and the other van pulling away. She shrunk away in fright when the short thug with the clown mask slammed his hand hard on the side of the van, giving the driver a signal. Soon after, the car engine came to life, and they were moving.

Sansa forced herself to regain her calm when two of the armed men sat down next to her, while the clown mask thug took a seat right across, lodging his gun in between his knees, pointing the end at her at an angle. Remember, it could have been worse. At least they didn’t kill you on the spot. She shut her eyes and breathed in deeply. I need to stop being afraid. I need my brains to work to help me survive this.

She collected enough courage to lift her gaze up to her captors. “I know who you’re working for.” She said, staring each one of them directly in the eyes. “We have expected this. You’re not going to get away with it. People will immediately know that we are missing.”

“Shut it.” Came the singular reply from the short man. The end of the barrel was shoved closer to her face.

“Where are you taking me?” She asked, feeling her heart tremble and her blood rush and pulse in her veins.

The short thug opened his mouth and was about to bark something at her, when a loud explosion shattered whatever was left of her nerves. Mortified, she rolled up into a ball, head between her knees, arms folded over her head for protection.

She thought that the van was hit, but it wasn’t.

“Get back up.” The barrel end of the gun again, swaying slightly in her vision with the movement of the vehicle behind the strands of her copper hair. Realizing that the explosion took place down the road behind them, she instinctively turned in that direction. In her head, she saw Jon Arryn’s car blown to smithereens with what ever was left of the mangled metal carcass was being engulfed by an inferno of flames.

“That doesn’t’ make sense.” She muttered. “Why did you blow up the car if you have already kidnapped us?”

“Don't be daft. We didn’t blow up the car.”

The voice that came from behind the clown mask sounded lighter than the low snarl that she had expected. In the dim light of the van, she could see his eyes, gleaming through the holes of that terrifying face. They were large and round…and somehow triggered in her a sense of recognition.

The thug, noticing her gaze, quickly turned his face away. He snapped his fingers, and before Sansa could make any objections, the men beside her pulled a linen bag over her head.

 

2.

“Is this how you teach your thugs to treat a lord?” Jon Arryn told the younger man in the grey suit, who had just welcomed him to some kind of secret criminal den. He wished he had at least an inkling of where he was, but he had been kept blindfolded until this very last moment. His host offered him a polite little grin and indicated to his men that his restrains could be removed. As soon as lord Arryn had his hands free, he straightened his back, and defiantly tried to shrug off the hands of his kidnappers.

“Let him.” His host ordered. His cronies backed away. He stepped towards him with an air of confidence, the only one of these criminals who didn’t bother to hide his face behind one of those ridiculous masks.

The man in the immaculate suit was not tall, and Jon Arryn’s impressive frame was looming right over him. Combined with the air of calm and authority that came natural to the minister, if they have met under other circumstances, the old lord could have appeared quite intimidating to him. He doesn’t look anything like how he used to be. Petyr thought. Or maybe, I just keep recalling how he looked in his final days, and have forgotten how he was before I began to ruin his life.

“I apologize lord Arryn.” It was strange to be standing here, talking to what his mind perceived to be a dead man. Petyr almost addressed him with my lord, a habit so drilled into him when was still the pupil and servant of the Hand of the king, that it was hard to shake off, even after all these centuries. “My men are simple folk. All brine and very little mind. They are unfamiliar with the complicated etiquette of the upper classes.”

Lord Arryn gave him a most scrutinizing look. "I presume, you are my kidnapper?

“Your presumptions are right.” Petyr straightened his back in an attempt to boost his own confidence. He needed it. The past kept creeping back to him. I wonder if he’s happy. He knew that even in this world, he was married to Lysa. He should be happy, without me sleeping with his wife and turning her against him behind his back. “Although, I could also be considered to be your well-wisher.” He was speaking the truth. He needed him. His old mentor’s untimely death would make it much harder for him to complete his plans. But even if his old lord wasn’t part of his schemes, he would have done something to help him. Wasn’t this what his current existence was all about? Right past wrongs, and play the avenging angel in judgment to another’s crime. 

“Are you? This is a rather funny way to show your goodwill towards me. It’s certainly not very convincing.” Jon Arryn remarked skeptically as he re-adjusted his silver cufflinks.

Petyr offered him a smile and snapped his fingers at one of his men. “What if I show you this?” The flat screen was switched on behind Petyr. It opened on a 24 hours news website. The webcast that ran in a loop showed footage of what appeared to be a car, engulfed by sea of flames.

- Firefighters are on the scene to put out a car-fire on Bristol road this morning - Was the comment of the news reporter. - People living in nearby West Linton have claimed to have heard a loud explosion around midnight. The police is currently investigating its connection to the fire incidence –

“That’s my car.” Jon Arryn said.

“Yes.”

“I presume that since you’re showing this to me, it wasn’t you who blew it up?”

“No.” Petyr replied, happy to see that his mentor’s mind was still as sharp as a knife’s edge. “The Boltons paid someone to plant a bomb under it. If you weren’t taken away in time by my men, you would have made tonight’s headlines. Prominent partly leader killed in a car bomb assassination. Your wife and child would have been distraught.”

“So…” Jon Arryn said, not failing to notice that Petyr had just mentioned his family, and registering it as a potential threat. “Now you’re claiming that you have saved my life.”

Petyr pulled an innocent face. “It’s not like I am expecting a great deal of gratitude from you for this good deed.” He smirked.

“Good deed? You killed Sam Clayfinch, my chauffeur!” His voice suddenly turned loud and booming, whatever anger he hidden away finally spilling out. “That man had a family! He had worked for me most loyally for over a decade!”

“Then you probably did not pay him enough for his loyalty.” Petyr noted. “I don’t want to disappoint you, but he was the one who planted the bomb after being paid a royal sum by your enemies. I heard from my men that he was reaching for his gun. He wasn’t doing that to protect you. He wanted to make sure that his assignment from the Boltons was going to be successful. He was going to kill you.”

The message hit the old lord like a hammer. “W-where…did you get all this information?”

“You have your resources, I have mine.”

“Yes, but I work for the government.”

“And I pay a hell of a lot of money for it. Like with everything-else, it seems that it’s money that buys you the better quality of service.” Petyr mocked with a joyless grin.

Jon Arryn shook his head, showing as much disbelief and disappointment as he would ever allow himself to show under these circumstances. Petyr recognized that pained look of betrayal on his old mentor’s face. It was the same one he had given him on his deathbed, after the poison had taken its toll.

“Am I just supposed to believe you and everything you say? I don’t know you. I don’t even know your name.”

“Names can be such an inconvenient in our line of business, don’t you think my lord?” There it was. My lord. He must have addressed him in this way a thousand times in the decades that he had served him. My lord. My lord Hand. My mentor. My friend. The man who taught me everything I know and who was like a father to me.

The man who he had betrayed.

“But if you really want a name, you could call me Petyr.”

“Petyr.” Lord Arryn muttered. No doubt he was immediately assuming that it was a made-up alias, but it felt good to hear him speak his name again. It was as if they had returned to the old days, when his service and care for him was still sincere. When Petyr still had the illusion that the sort of world his old mentor wanted to create was perhaps worth preserving.

Before everything went to hell really…

“Listen to me Petyr. I don’t trust you.”

And you never should have. Trusting me has been your downfall. “I am afraid you’ll have to.” Petyr said instead. “If you want to survive.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The Boltons want you dead. Your unexpected success at the latest polls threatens their grand political ambitions. They hired somebody to annihilate you, and for now they still think they have succeeded. They won’t any longer when they find out from the news reports that there was only one charcoaled corpse found in the car’s remains, especially when dental record reveal to the police it wasn’t you, but their highly costly but rather incompetent assassin that was killed in the fire.”

The clever lord understood him perfectly. “Is this what this is about? You’re brought me to this hole under the ground because -”

“Because when your enemies want you dead, it’s better to be dead already, so they won’t bother trying to kill you again.”

“You want me to hide out here from the Boltons, like some sort of coward.” Jon Arryn said with a touch of anger and injured pride ringing through his voice.

“There is no shame in hiding my lord. Being dead has certain advantages. A brilliant man once told me that a wise strategist will know when to battle in broad day light, and when to retreat and fight in the shadows. I think it’s time for you to keep yourself at the margins.”

The words seemed to resonate with the minister. How could it not? It was his own wisdom echoing back to him through centuries via his one time pupil.

“Why are you helping me?”

“I have my reasons. Let’s just say that my benefactors are very keen on removing the Boltons from the stage, political and otherwise. Life can be so much easier when the local pike is fished out of the pond.”

Jon Arryn nodded pensively. “How do I know I can trust you?”

“You can’t, but you can rely on your own judgment.” Petyr laid down a thick file on the desk in front of him. “This is what my men could find about Ramsay and Roose Bolton and what your men obviously couldn’t, including your loyal employee Sam Clayfinch dealings with Roose. Read these through, then make up your own mind about me. I also believe that you do trust your own people quite a lot, although that wasn’t very wise in the case of your chauffeur.” Or in the case of me. “Is there someone you would like to contact?”

“Yes. I do.” Lord Arryn said grimly. “Tyrion Lannister.”

“A wise choice. I would suggest you tell him to hurry up, and take care of the coroner and police reports to the press.” Petyr threw him a mobile phone. “You can use this to contact him. The chip is modified. No one will be able to trace back the call to your location.” Petyr stuck both his hands in the pocket of his expensive suit. “It’s up to you my lord. You could stay here in hiding, and no one except for your most loyal men will know that you are alive. You can start organizing and undermine the Boltons from behind the stage. Or…you could call for help. No doubt, the cavalry will show up in no time to take you home and back into public eye, right into danger. It’s your choice. I won’t stop you.” Petyr admitted frankly.

There was a long silence in which lord Arryn was looking directly at Petyr, weighing his options and trying hard to judge his character, before he gave his reply.

“I will call Tyrion to handle the press reports.” He finally admitted grudgingly, knowing that he had just been forced into making a decision he didn't really want to make. 

“Again, that is very wise of you.” Petyr offered him wide grin. He got what he wanted, and turned around to make his way out with three of his men, leaving two behind to keep an eye on Arryn.

“One more thing-“ Jon Arryn noted. “The girl who was with me in the car –“

“I can assure you, she is in good hands.” Petyr rushed to say, his mask slipping, his heart overtaking the well thought through responses his mind had so far dictated to him. “I would never let any harm come to her.” A stunned pause followed. Realizing what he had done, Petyr stared at his old mentor, whose grey eyes lit up with a hint of curiosity.

Petyr quickly turned around again and rushed out, leaving lord Arryn to ponder on his own.

 

3.

That went rather well…till he completely fucked it up.

Petyr was kicking himself. Such a stupid idiot he was! Why did he have to react like that right in front of him? That man is clever. He can recognize a weakness in any man by just a flutter of the eyelids or a slight gesture of the hand. He wouldn’t even be able to miss the way you fumbled and stuttered and poured your heart out when you were mentioning her. Why didn’t you just shout it right into his face that you’re in love with her, for God’s sake?

He knows Sansa. He’s going to use this to his advance to undermine me. Or worse...mention me to her.   

As he rushed out of the building, heading to his car, he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket.

This better not be Varys. He thought, realizing that he still needed to respond to his string of most distraught Whatsapp messages concerning the way he had dealt with Myranda. I can’t – I really can’t handle him right now. Please let it not be him. Go away Spider! Go mess up the minds of your other condemned souls!

But it wasn’t the Spider. It was Clegane.

A bolt of panic seized him as he took the call. “Yes” He replied, expecting the worst. After all that he had been through, Petyr wasn’t much of an optimist these days, but the task he had assigned to his most trusted man, was too important for him to stick his head in the sand.

The Hound never called him. Not unless there was real trouble.

“Something went wrong.” He heard Sandor’s raspy voice say.

His heart turned to ice. For a moment his mind shut down and his clever tongue forsook him.

She has fallen into the hands of Ramsay’s men. He concluded, and felt such dread that it made him tremble. She’s shot. She’s wounded. She’s lying in the back of Clegane’s van, bleeding to death. It’s my fault. It’s all my fault. I have failed to protect her yet again.

“It’s that little assassin girl you wanted me to take along. She’s causing trouble.”

Petyr dared to let out a sigh of relief. His mind kicked back to action, and he finally managed to say something back to Clegane.

“What the heck did she do?” He asked, dreading his answer.

 

4.

The minute Petyr arrived back home with Clegane and his men, he stormed inside and went searching the rooms. He finally found the little troublemaker with Ros in his office. The girls were chatting. The weather had been unseasonably hot, and Arya was sucking on a pink ice-lolly while she sat on his desk, dangling her feet from the side.

“Petyr, you’re back early!” Ros’s smile immediately faded when saw the way he looked at the little Stark girl. She had never seen him so upset. “What’s the matter?”

“Where is she?” Petyr was almost steaming, his voice barely a credible imitation of calm.

Not the least intimidated, Arya just shrugged back at him. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t play innocent with me. I know what you have done. Sandor told me that you pointed a gun in Dean’s face when he was taking a toilet break and drove off with the van leaving them all stranded at the service station. Where did you take your sister?”

“I brought her here.” Came the calm reply.

Petyr was stunned. His hands were trembling like crazy. He wanted to shout at the brat. He wanted to punch her right into her smug grinning face. He hadn’t felt this helpless, with so little control over his mind and body’s responses, ever since he woke up mad in the asylum after his memory was restored.

Let one Stark into your life, and this is what happens.

“She is here.” He said, with the little control that he had left. ”Right now. In my home?”

“Yes.” Arya snapped back, getting annoyed. “What’s the matter with you? Are you deaf or something? I just said she was.”

“I told Dean to get her home. The Boltons didn’t know that she was in the car with Jon Arryn. They weren’t looking for her. Why did you bring her here?”

“You told me to keep her safe. This is the safest place I can think of.”

“For fuck’s sake!” He ran his fingers through his hair in despair. “Where is she?”

“I put her in one of your guest rooms. The ones with bars and doors that can be locked from the outside that you’re so fond of.”

Thank God. Petyr let out a sigh of relief. “At least she is not wandering around here on her own.” He muttered.

“Well, actually she is.”

The sudden look of utter dread on Petyr’s face was almost comical.

“I did tell her to stay put. I really did.” Arya explained for herself, finally sensing that she might have pushed too many of his wrong buttons this time. “But she didn’t want to listen. I had to let her out. She was shouting, lording over me like she always does at home.”

“You WHAT?”

“Look you weirdo, I am not going to lock up my own sister just because you say so. Besides, she wouldn’t be able to find out that you live here anyway. There’s hardly a single photograph of you in this place, except for the one Ros keeps in her room, and that’s locked all the time to keep you out.”

“Arya!” Ros blushed, but luckily for her, Petyr was too much in a panic to notice anything it.

“What did you tell her?” He demanded to know.

“Nothing.” She shrugged again. “Well, she knows one of her kidnappers was me, obviously.”

“Obviously…”

“She is not dumb. I couldn’t help it that she recognized my voice. But, I promised you I wouldn’t let her know that you are still alive. So I didn’t tell her that.”

“WHAT did you exactly tell her?”

“I just said, a guy called Paul Tybershire kidnapped her and her boss to save them both from the Boltons’ assassination attempt, and that she was brought here to his ridiculously large mansion for her own safety.”

“So…you basically told her all of my plans except for one tiny detail that Paul Tybershire is me…”

Petyr rubbed his hand over his face, visualizing in his mind’s eye how all of his grand schemes were imploding into themselves, like a tired old sun.

“What? I had to tell her something. She was nagging my ears off. What are you doing?”

“I am calling Clegane to round up some men to help find your sister and kick you out of my house.” He sneered, putting the phone to his ear.

“Petyr.” Ros tried. “Calm down, you’re over reacting.”

“Over-reacting?” Petyr put down the phone. “I was wondering what the hell I took that day from your doctor friend Rajan when I made this most idiotic decision to involve her in any of my plans. It had to be some kind of horse tranquilizer, because I was obviously out of my FUCKING mind! She brought everyone and everything I care about in danger!”

“I didn’t do that!” Arya snapped back at him.

“Of course not.” Petyr said, smirking sarcastically. “The Boltons wouldn’t find it suspicious at all that your sister has suddenly vanished from the face of the earth now that Jon Arryn is assassinated, would they? You know what you are?” He told her in a low threatening voice. “You’re not a skilled silent assassin, there’s noting silent about you. You leak more information than a bloody Facebook page! You’re a natural screw-up. You’re an armed missile with a boomerang attitude! Trying to make use of you is a sure way to get myself killed. It’s like bloody assisted suicide!”

“Fine, be like that. I just wanted to help. What the heck is the point of all of this anyway?” Arya shouted back, going full enraged teenager mode on him. “Do you have any idea how miserable you look every single Friday “stalk” night? Ros and Sandor are both sick of looking at your depressing mug all the time. And do you know how miserable my sister is without you? She is absolutely insufferable! I would rather hang out with a depressed lemming than to be left at home babysitting her. What’s the bloody use of you two being miserable all the time and making everyone around you miserable if you could just stop it all by letting her know the truth?!”

“For the last time, I want to keep her safe!” He retorted, but suddenly finding himself almost lost for words. “If the Boltons would ever –“

“The Bolton, the Bolton, the Boltons! Such a stupid little lie that is! You’re afraid, aren’t you? No matter how long it’s been, no matter how much different you are now from that asshole who helped murder my family, you still think you’re not good enough for my sister. You think you don’t deserve her and that she’s going to reject you again, that’s why you keep making these stupid excuses! You don’t have the guts to step up to her and tell her that you're not dead because –“

“Petyr?”

Arya immediately shut her mouth. Petyr turned around and stared straight into Sansa's face. She stood there in the door opening, and stared back at him with a wide-eyed look of shock, her blue eyes glazed with tears.

"Well…at least you don't have to tell her anymore." Muttered Arya.

 

Notes: I know, horrible timing, but otherwise this post would have to wait till next week Friday. :)

Hopefully, see you next week, and please don't be shy and comment. I love to know what you think!

 

 

Cheers H

 

Chapter Text

Notes:

Recommended music:

 

A thousand times goodnight

For part 1-3

 

Undisclosed desires (cover)

For part 4

 

And just like that

For part 5

 

Dance for me Wallis

For part 6

 

 

1.

The very first thought that came to him was to flee.

“Petyr, wait!” She called after him as he awkwardly turned around and tried to head out of his own study. When Petyr renovated this house, he made damned sure that every room had at least two exits. You never knew when your enemies came knocking at your door in the middle of the night. There was a secret back door to the garden, but before he could reach it, Arya jumped off the desk and had already blocked his way. Arms crossed, the grim expression on her face sternly informed him that he wasn’t going to leave before he had settled things with her sister.

Petyr halted his steps, but did not turn around. He was simply too terrified to face her.

“So it is you.” He heard her say. If his heart was cut out of a thin sheet of paper, it would have been all crumbled up by now, just from hearing her voice.

“I was so stupid. How could I ever think that you were that imposter Jay Mockingbird? You’re not an idiot. You would never choose a name that is that obvious. Not when you know how dangerous Ramsay has become.”

Sansa approached him. She was so very much afraid that even a simple gesture might scare him away, that she moved slowly, carefully, holding in her breath with each step she placed. “But you couldn’t betray yourself. It’s like that silver mockingbird. You’ve always worn that so very proudly, right above your scar. You’ve always hidden you true self in plain sight for everyone to see. You’re too damned arrogant not too. You just can’t help yourself.”

She was so close now that she could see the little tuft of black hair in the back of his neck, and the greying strands near his temples. His demeanour was so familiar. At the surface, he was seemingly so very composed and calm, like her old tutor once was, and yet there were hints of his nervousness and vulnerability, a slight twitch of the head, a fumbling of the fingers, that reminded her of the Petyr she had left behind in purgatory. She didn’t know who of the two she was trying to reach out to. All she knew was that the world was spinning around her, and her heart was fluttering like a butterfly, lost in the middle of a hurricane.

“Your company, Mimidae, it’s the Latin name for the mockingbird family. Your name, Paul Tybeshire, it’s an anagram…” She was now standing right in front of him, trying to catch his gaze. ”Scramble the letters, remove the “U”, and what do you get?” She let out a sigh when she finally gazed into his grey blue eyes. “Petyr Bealish.” She whispered, her own azure blue eyes were stinging with tears. “I thought I was going mad when I noticed it at first. I thought I missed you so much that I was starting to see things that weren’t really there, but here you are, alive and well.”

“I couldn’t really make a decent name without it.” He said hesitantly, almost apologetically, and immediately felt ridiculous for having said it. After having waited for so long, after all the hardship he had endured trying to get back to her, now that she was finally here, his mind was completely paralyzed with fear. She must loathe me for having kept her in the dark for so long. “If I didn’t add the extra letter, it wouldn’t work –“ He rambled on.

She shut him up with a hard slap in the face. The sound echoed in the room, bounced off the expensive marble floor, loud as a shot fired from a handgun.

You see. There is no love here. There never was. You’re pathetic. Petyr heard Littlefinger say. The last time you spoke to her with your full presence of mind was when she sentenced you to your own execution. Does that not paint a clear enough picture for you? She might have forgiven Petyr, the harmless simpleton from purgatory, but she can never forgive you. You’re mad and delusional for believing that she ever could.

“I thought you were dead.” She told him, and Petyr could only pick up on all of her anger and bitterness in that frail trembling voice, and very little else.

“I am very sorry-“ He muttered, casting his eyes down at the floor. “- if I have caused you any inconvenient grief.”

“Inconvenient?” She blinked her eyes, reacting completely dumbfounded. “Are you mad? I’ve mourned you. I have wept for you every single night. I went back to King's Landing to find you, but you were dead Petyr! I saw you lying in a wooden box."

I know." Petyr mumbled. Clegane had told him everything.

"You were not breathing. Your body was cold…and your heart…it had stopped beating. I thought I had lost you! It has been five years, five long years! How could you fake your own death and not let me know? How could you do this to me? You heartless bastard! You lying selfish little shit!” She was screaming now, pounding on his chest with hard-clenched fists, her eyes hazed with free falling tears.

“I am very very sorry.” He whispered. He didn’t dare to move a muscle and kept as still as a statue, taking in all of her well-deserved blows.

“You’re sorry? They didn’t even let me bury you. Did you know that? They took you away again and…and… I couldn’t…I couldn’t even visit your grave…” She stopped hitting him, her fists unfurling as all of her anger seeped out of her. “I ran into Ramsay. He told me what he did to you. How he had humiliated you and tortured you and left you all by yourself to die all alone without anyone by your side. It ripped my heart in a thousand pieces. I thought it would never heal again. I hated him. I wanted to avenge you. I wished him to hell for all that he had done to you. You have no idea how it felt…I felt so incredibly alone, and so very very guilty, I still do.” She leaned on his chest and started sobbing uncontrollably, soaking his shirt with dark patches of her tears. “I am sorry…” She whispered to him in a small broken voice. “I should have come back for you sooner. I am sorry that you had to spend two years in that horrible place...that I wasn’t any stronger and – and let them take you away…”

“Ssst, it’s alright." Petyr whispered, clumsily trying to console her while he still did not dare to touch her, keeping his hands by his side and generally treating her like she was some sort of fragile china doll. "That’s all in the past, faded into nothing.”

He had yearned to meet her again for so long. He had prepared it immaculately and had thought this moment through at least a thousand times, lived through it in his dreams in which he had thought up a million things to say to her. How he was sorry for everything he had done in the past to hurt her. How much he had missed her, and how he was willing to do anything to make her happy again. But all that seemed to be forgotten the moment she spoke his name and stared into his eyes. He was completely lost, fretting like an anxious, completely clueless schoolboy. He did not know what to do, till he finally caught Ros looking at him.

Her eyes were shining with tears, but she was smiling.

“Do something.” She mouthed silently.

Like what? He mimed back.

Arya rolled her eyes at so much lack of bloody common sense, and wrapped her arms around Ros to demonstrate what he should have done. “Come on you idiot.” She whispered under her breath. “Don't just stand there like a dumb log of wood. Console her.”

That seemed to release him from his emotional paralysis and he finally moved to take Sansa in his arms. Petyr feared she would reject him, just like she had when he had tried to reach out to her under the Weirwood tree at Winterfell a whole lifetime ago, but she fell into his embrace, soft and willing, and hugged him tightly, her tear-stained cheek brushing over his neckline till it finally found a place to rest on his shoulder.

“I’ve missed you.” She cried, burying her face in his neck as she caressed his black locks, her fingers brushing through his hair. “Oh I’ve missed you so much.”

“I...I have missed you too.”

For once, the mockingbird was too overwhelmed to say anything else.

 

2.

“Would you like a glass of water?”

It was a civilized enough question, something to fill in the silence and banish the awkwardness, after Ros and Arya had both tactfully retreated and they left them both alone in the study to sort things out. Sansa sat in one of the leather armchairs facing the garden. Her eyes were still red and puffy, but at least she was no longer weeping. Petyr offered her a glass of mineral water.

“Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome.” He said quietly, before he took the armchair next to her. 

“So...this is where you hide from me.” She was trying to keep the strained conversation alive. It was very clear that Petyr was not at ease in her presence. His eyes kept glancing up timidly at her, before retreating and staring back down at his floor. She gazed around, taking in the expensive furnishings and decorations. “It’s a very nice place. Very – large.”

She took a sip of the cool water and studied his face. Despite his apparent shyness, she knew that this was not the same man she had left behind in King’s Landing. This wasn’t innocent and witless Petyr, who lived with his landlady in a small flat in purgatory and was who naïve and kind and knew nothing of his past.

Arya told me that Paul Tybershire is some sort of mob boss. He has hundreds of gangster types working for him in secret to undermine the Boltons. He’s basically a dangerous criminal who’s too clever and too rich to show up on the police’s radar…or even in lord Arryn’s secret files. So, somehow, Petyr must have woken up and regained his wits. He must remember now who he used to be, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to work his way up to where he is now in such a short time.

The question that plagued Sansa the most, was how much of his old self Petyr had recovered, and how much of the kindhearted man she had fallen in love with in purgatory had been lost because of it.

“I wasn’t hiding from you.” He replied as he fumbled with his signet ring.

“I didn’t see you for 5 long years.” She said it as calmly as she could, although deep down she did still resent him a little. How could she not?

“I was always keeping an eye on you, to make sure you’re safe. As soon as I had the means I hired professionals to keep you under surveillance 24/7.”

She was a stunned by his revelation. “That’s really not the same.”

“I was seeing you…I saw you. I kept checking on you from time to time, to see how you were.”

“So what?…You mean you were stalking me?”

“I wouldn’t really call it that.”

“It is what it is Petyr. How often?”

“At least once a week. maybe more." He grudgingly admitted.

"When?"

"Mostly Fridays.”

“Okay…” She nodded, raising her eyebrows in surprise while taking it all in and putting 1 and 1 together. “That’s very disturbing...”

She noticed that he was busy pulling his sleeves over his hands and was wringing the fabric between his thumb and fingers. Just like he used to when he was still living with misses Tyrell. She remembered that he used to do this whenever he was nervous or worried or frightened.

“…It is disturbing…in a sweet sort of way.” She added with a little smile, to let him know that she wasn’t really upset about it.

That seemed to put the fumbling right to a halt. “For the last couple of years, you seemed very happy.” He said to her after a short silence. His eyes were still looking away.

“I really wasn’t. True, I kept a brave face, but I was miserable.” She paused for a moment, trying to catch his gaze again. “Is this why you’ve been avoiding me?”

He just kept staring ahead of him in painful silence.

“Petyr.” She tried again. “Why did you hide from me?”

He couldn't or didn't want to answer her. She noticed that his hands were trembling. They still looked horribly scarred, the fingers bone thin and the joints swollen and stiff. She recalled how horrible Ramsay had treated her when she was left at his mercy, and felt the urge to take Petyr’s hand in her own to comfort him, but as soon as she made an effort to reach out to him, he moved his hand away from the armrest.

He is ashamed. He hates what has been done to him. She remembered how angry and traumatized she herself was after she had lived through the horror that was Ramsay Bolton’s twisted idea of a perfect honeymoon. She knew that Petyr must had gone through much worse. Maybe it’s that shame that have kept him away from me for so long.

She searched around, trying to think of a topic that wouldn’t make him feel uncomfortable.

“Those paintings.” She finally noted, recognizing the framed bird illustrations that were displayed behind his desk. “They’re from your book, aren’t they?”

Petyr finally seemed to regain some of his courage to look her in the eyes. “The encyclopedia of birds." He explained, seemingly relieved. "I used to really treasure that book when I was still a pathetic witless moron trapped by the Gods in King’s Landing.”

“You were not a pathetic moron.” You were a kind man who had earned my forgiveness and love. I wish with all my heart that there is still a part of him in you. She stood up to get a better look at one of the pictures. “That’s the page with the mockingbird.” She pointed out.

“Mockbird. Do you remember?" He asked hopefully. "I couldn’t even recall the name of the bird species of my own sigil. The book had a typographical error which confused me profoundly. You corrected it for me, and from that moment on, I could remember it.”

“You brought it here with you?” She was truly astonished to find it here. “I thought everything was lost during the fire in misses Tyrell’s flat?”

“It was. This is a copy, or at least a part of it. I’ve searched for years, but was never able to find the complete book. What I did find were some of the pages with the bird illustrations, including this one of our mockingbird.” Petyr came to stand next to her, crossing his arms as he observed the picture. “I was very lucky to be able to retrieve this. It even contains the same error in the name.”

Sansa traced with her fingers over the black pen lines that inserted the missing letters in the printed text. They mimicked her handwriting perfectly.

“I have tried to copy your handwriting from my memory as well as I could.” Petyr explained. “But no matter how hard I tried, it’s just not the same…”  

He still remembers this. She thought with relief. He still cherishes this memory, of that one rare moment of happiness that we had together. The realization of this filled her heart with joy. No matter what kind of dangerous crimelord he has managed to shape himself into, part of him is still the Petyr I have known and loved.

“Petyr” She tried hesitantly, keeping her voice soft and gentle, attempting to get through to him. “What happened to you?”

He broke eye-contact and bowed his head and gazed down at the floor again, shoving around invisible dirt with his expensive Italian shoes.

“I don’t…”

“It’s all right.” Sansa finally said, after another long and painful silence. He doesn’t want to talk about it. So don’t force him. “I understand…I want you to know that I don’t mind. I don’t mind what you have done in order to survive, what you had to do to get where you are now. I don’t care. I won’t judge you.” She reached out to him again and this time, she did manage to grab hold of his trembling hand.

“I love you.” She gazed into his blue-grey eyes. “I have never loved anyone else. I never could.” She gave him a tender smile and squeezed softly in his hand before leaning into him and pulling him closer. She wanted to console him, kiss away all those painful memories, exorcise all of the demons that haunted him.

I love you Petyr.” She whispered. “I will take the darkness that comes with your light.”

She kissed him then, long and deep, holding him close and clasping his hand to her bosom till the tremor finally ceased and she felt his tense body soften against hers.

When their lips parted again, Sansa saw that he had a hopeful, but also slightly puzzled look in his eyes. 

"What's wrong?"

“Nothing.”

“You look surprised.”

“It’s just…it’s not exactly how I have planned this to happen.”

Sansa raised her eyebrows. “You planned for this?” Of course he did. Petyr being Petyr, what else could I have expected? 

He nodded. “I thought it would happen at a different time…and in a different place.” He scratched the back of his head, visibly embarrassed by his confession, but Sansa just found it touching and very adorable.

“What were your plans for me?” She asked, granting him an amused little smile.

 

3.

She was too overjoyed that he kept holding her hand to mind that she was actually being dragged behind him like a mother by an over-enthusiastic school kid keen to show his parent his latest science project. They left his study and crossed to the other side of the hallway where Petyr opened a large glass door for her. She stepped right through and entered a warm space that was engulfed in bright natural light.

“What kind of place is this?” She gazed around, struck with a sense of wonder, as she found herself inside what seemed to be a vast glass structure, tightly packed with exotic trees, shrubs and flowers. 

“My greenhouse aviary. The roof is made of double glass to keep out the cold and let in the light.”

“These trees...” Sansa ran her fingers over the moss covered bark of a very tall specimen. Its bright green foliage reached all the way to the rooftop. “They look ancient. They look like they have been here forever. It's almost like a real forest.”

“I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. I have to keep it fairly warm in here, or some of the plant species wouldn’t grow.”

“No…no I am fine.” They have reached a wooden bridge that arched over a crystal clear stream at the foot of a small waterfall, which cascaded over a dark stone cliff face covered with lush ferns. Although it was humid and warm, the relentless rush of the falling water created a refreshing breeze that cooled her right down. Somewhere in the low overhanging branches, a colorful bird proudly flashed its bright red and yellow tail feathers and began to sing to her, as if on cue. Sansa leaned on the railing. As far as she could see, a bed of purple, pink, blue and yellow flowers covered the banks of the stream, and swayed softly in the gentle breeze.

It literally was paradise....and Petyr had created all this, because he wanted to share this special place with her.

If this is only a dream, please let me never wake up again.

“It’s beautiful.” She whispered. She closed her eyes and listened to the water rushing beneath her feet, and inhaled deeply to take in the scent of the forest and the flowers surrounding her.

“What’s that sweet smell?” She murmured.

“I will show you.” He seemed happy and relieved that she was enjoying herself, and her heart trembled when she finally saw him smile at her again. They walked over the bridge and left the waterfall behind. On the other side of the river bank was an entrance to a walled garden. The walls were made of red brick and lime mixed with red oxide, the very same materials that had been once used for building the houses in the real King’s Landing back in Westeros, including the fortified castle walls of the Red Keep.

“This looks like the royal gardens of the Red Keep.” Sansa remarked as they entered.

“It is exactly similar to the royal gardens. I made sure that everything is the same. From the olive trees in the Red Grove to the specific types and colors of roses growing in the shaded pavilions. The only thing I could not reproduce from my memory was the view.”

She couldn't believe her eyes. It was like she had traveled back to her past.

They passed through a green tunnel of fragrant jasmine flowers and emerged at the other end in a orchard, bathing in sunlight. Four rows of white bark trees with twisted stems, lining a path made of sun baked red tiles. All of the branches were heavy with white blooms, while some also carried large yellow fruits.

“This is the lemon orchard.” She muttered, as she walked past and brushed her hands over the lavender bushes, the scent of lemons and citrus flowers mixed with that of the fragrant oily shrubs. The scent was absolutely heavenly…and was exactly like she remembered from her past. “I used to come here, with Shae.”

“I know.” He confessed. “You would spend hours here, reading and conversing with your hand maiden, or just sitting in the shade, watching the ships sail by. That was the only thing I couldn’t recreate for you." He said regretfully.  "A view from the terraces over the King’s Landing harbor and the narrow sea.”

She found herself truly lost for words. “Why did you do this?” She asked, touched and overwhelmed by what he had shown her. “Not that it’s not beautiful, it is - absolutely breathtakingly beautiful…but why?”

“It was the only place in King’s Landing where you seemed to be at peace." He explained to her, almost shyly. "This was where I first saw you smile again long after your father's demise. I remember that day very clearly. Your hair shone like polished copper in the bright afternoon sun, and the light was shimmering in your eyes, like the reflections in the waves, just like today." He carefully came closer to her, and just brushed with his fingers over her arm. "I wanted to recreate that memory. I wanted to see you smile again. I wanted to make you happy.”

“I went out to the gardens all the time, because I was trying to hide from the Lannisters. It was the only place where I felt a little safe. I didn’t know that you were watching me.”

“I was always watching you. No matter where you were. In the great hall, in the corridors hiding amid the crowd, or out on your balcony at night with a single candle, praying to the Gods to keep your mother and siblings safe.” He finally dared to really reach out to her, and timidly, gently caressed her jawline. “You have no idea -" He whispered. "-how many times I had tried to stop myself from looking at you from afar, and how many times I've failed. ”

He noticed that her eyes were getting hazed again. “You...do not want this?” He concluded, immediately alarmed, with touch a dread in his voice. “I will tear everything down again." He reassured her, trying so very hard to make her happy, and so very much afraid to fail. "I made this all for you. To please you. If you don’t like any of this, then there is no point for it to exist. Just let me know and I will make it disappear. Please, please don’t be upset Sansa.”

“No, no I do. I do like it. It’s just…” She took in a deep breath and stared back at him, completely overwhelmed by his complete and tireless devotion to her. “I just realize that only a completely wonderful, stubborn, mad kind of idiot like you would put in so much effort, trying to recreate a fleeting moment from so very long ago...” She smiled at him through her tears. “All this, just for a simple smile.”

“It was all I ever wanted. It took me nearly two life times to come this conclusion. I only wish I had not wasted so much time and realized it earlier.”

She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer while she tilted her head for another kiss. “In that case...” She whispered. “Don’t ever leave me again Petyr, and I promise, I shall never stop smiling.”

 

4.

Her kisses were sweet and hungry, as if her lips could never be sated with the taste of his. He felt exactly the same as he pulled her down with him on his feather bed, her soft body willing, melting into his. Every touch of his trembling hands over her velvet skin sending a delicious chill down his spine. He had been starved of her affection for so long, had dreamed of her for so long. Now that she was finally here, all he could think of, all that he wanted, was to drink in her presence and cherish her warmth, her intoxicating loveliness, and bathe in her bright radiant glow.

“Take me.” Her voice was barely a husky whisper in his ears. Her sweet breath on his sweaty skin stirred his loins awake. Petyr worshiped her like she was a Goddess, stroking every glorious part of her body and showering her with loving kisses, starting from behind her soft earlobe and trailing down the line of her delicate neck, till he lingered between her breasts. She removed her top and pulled down the straps of her bra, and he kissed and sucked on the soft pink mounts of her nipples, then ran the tip of his tongue down over her cleavage all the way up to the tip of her chin. Sansa shut her eyes in pleasure. Smiling a radiant smile, she threw her head over her shoulders and arched her back while she straddled him, letting her long copper hair cascade down over her snow white skin where it caught the golden beams of the late afternoon sun. Petyr gazed up at her in complete adoration, struck silent and mesmerized by her unfathomable beauty. If the Gods in their boundless cruelty would take everything away from me again, l will fall on my knees and beg them to let me at least keep this one memory. I never want to forget how lovely and beautiful she looks in this exact moment.

Her fingers were on his chest, were curling into the fabric of his shirt. Petyr let out a nervous sigh as she tightened the grasp of her legs around his waist and started to unbutton him.

“Sansa, please…” He shook his head and removed her hands. “Don’t do this.”

There was a flicker of doubt, a ghost of the insecure young girl who he had first met on the Hand’s tournament in her sky blue eyes. “Don’t you want me?” She asked softly.

“I want you. I have always wanted you.”

“Then what’s wrong?”

“I don’t want you to remove my clothes.” He finally said, feeling anxious and ashamed for having to admit this to her. I don’t want you to see what I have become. I don’t want to disgust you.  In his mind he was hideous and grotesque, his broken body still covered in bruises and bleeding, puss filled scars. He could still hear Ramsay mock him cruelly as he pulled the dogs away, leaving him scarred and crawling in his own filth.

Sansa gazed down at Petyr, her face calm and full of compassion. He did not need to say anything. She understood his fears perfectly. “What would you have done if I had offered myself to you, right after you came to my rescue with the knights of the Vale? If you had taken me to bed, and had seen the countless scars that Ramsay had left behind on my body. Would you still have wanted me?”

“Yes of course. It wouldn’t have changed anything.”

She leaned over him, her fingers trailing over the centerline, slowly running over the neat rows of buttons.

“Would the sight of them make you stop loving me?”

Petyr gazed back at her, finally realizing what she was trying to tell him. She was such a clever girl. It never ceased to amaze him how insightful she was when it came to matters of the heart. She would have made a good leader. A wise and benevolent queen. Maybe she had been.  

“Nothing could make me stop loving you.” He told her sincerely, and took her hand and kissed her palm. “I would have cherished everyone of your scars, because they were all part of you. Nothing in this world is more precious to me.”

He didn’t object again when she started unbuttoning his shirt. His body became weak and soft, his sighs fading into soft breaths under her warm gentle touch. Then she started placing kisses on the ragged lines of his scars, caressing each single one, stroking them lovingly as she shifted her body down onto him...and he knew that there would never be a need to be ashamed and hide himself from her.

She felt exactly the same about him as he did about her.

 

5.

It was already dark when they were lying in each others arms, post-coitus sweat cooling on their skin, the light curtains near the open window swaying gently in the breeze of the cool night air. Petyr was listening to her heartbeat. Her breathing was shallow but very peaceful. Just lying here, listening to it in the dark made him feel serene and content. She stirred a little, turning her face towards him, curling up under his chin. He stroked her locks and kissed her crown, breathing in the comfortable soothing scent of her hair.

It was then that he realized that at this exact rare and blissful moment, he truly felt happy, and had nothing else to want or long for in this world.

He had not felt this way for a very long time, not since he was a boy of eight.

He had just been sent away by his own father to be fostered by complete strangers. It was only a few months after he had watched his mother's ashes being scattered out over the sea when he arrived at Riverrun. He had much trouble adjusting, and lord Tully's oldest son Edmure, who had been promised a play mate to practice sword fighting, found in the frail, silent and demure boy an easy target for bullying.

Petyr had screamed and wept after Edmure had found his treasured collection of feathers that he had collected with his mother, and tossed it in the burning kitchen hearth, just to torment him. But his sister, kind and goodhearted Catelyn, had come to his aid. She had berated her moronic sibling for his needless cruelty, then had tried to console Petyr, taking the young boy to her bedchamber. Sitting down quietly on the side of her bed, she had held him in her arms, like his mother would have done.

Catelyn had kissed him then.

It wasn't anything sexual. They were both still too young to fully understand that type of passion. It was just a little peck on the cheek to dry his tears, nothing more, but it had changed him. it had sparked in him a lifetime of devotion to her. His love for her first grew into a something magnificent and pure during the golden days of his childhood, then morphed into something darker and more shameful, some sort of sin that he could not fully understand but was punished for nonetheless, when he fell to the muddy shores of the river Trident after Brandon Stark had cut his flesh into ribbons. A week later, Cat did the same to his heart, when she told him that she did not care for him the same way he did for her, and then left Riverrun with her betrothed without ever saying goodbye.

Although harsh, her rejection did not kill his love for her. It merely twisted it, mangled it like a sapling being shaped by the harsh unforgiving winds on the cliffs of the Fingers. And like those unfortunate trees, in the lonely years that followed, he grew hard and bitter, demons begetting demons, starting with envy - of the Starks, of the Tullys, of everyone who looked down at him and didn't think he was worth anything. Then came greed, the desire to better himself, to get higher on higher on that ladder, to reach up to those higher born lords and ladies of all the grand houses and to surpass them in every way, in wealth, in status, and later, in cruelty, in cunning and in ruthlessness, for that seemed to be all that mattered in this game he played to survive and thrive. Not family, duty or honor. Not those three silly little words of the house Tully, which he had once believed in and had tried to live by. After Catelyn, those three words had lost all meaning to him. And as time progressed and he made his way up in the world, he started collecting masks. Smiling masks to charm and manipulate his betters, polite masks to hide his secrets and intentions from his rivals, cruel masks to frighten and threaten those below him to submit to his will. He hid himself well under layers and layers of lies and deceit, till he didn't even know who he really was anymore. But despite all he had done, despite all the wickedness and evil and wrongs that followed after his fateful decision to murder his old mentor Jon Arryn, at the core of it, at the very heart of everything, there would be Catelyn Tully, the woman he could never have, but also could never forget, and that one moment they shared together, when they were both still children, still innocent and pure. She, sitting on the bed with him, consoling him, telling him that the world, despite its cruelty, would be alright again, and letting him know that he is loved.  

During the chaos of the war of the five kings, when he was still more Littlefinger than Petyr Bealish, amid the aimless destruction of lives and the endless bloodshed, he had once asked himself in a rare moment of self-reflection, how many people needed to die before he would finally be satisfied.

To answer this truthfully was impossible, because the question itself was wrong. The answer to the right question would be, that it would have taken just one soul, one single light in his darkness, to love him back, in order to save this world from destruction. 

Now he was lying in bed with Cat's daughter in his arms. Once upon a time, he had simply wanted her because she reminded him of the woman he had lost, now he loved her because she was Sansa, because she was clever and beautiful, and could be wicked and brave and cunning too, and make him laugh and smile and fill his heart with happiness. Because she could hurt him with just one frown or a dismissive look, or simply by the thought of never seeing her again. Being with her, there was no more anger, no more resentment, no more greed and envy that had fired his dangerous ambitions ever since he survived the deadly cuts of Brandon's blade. Staring into her kind sky blue eyes, there was no more darkness...no more Littlefinger. It was just him and her. Petyr, the boy from the small spit of land called the Fingers, and Sansa Stark, his wolf queen from the North.

Lying here, just being together with her, he had finally found peace, because there was finally someone in this world who he loved and could love him in return.

And yet...there was still one thing that stood between him and finally finding happiness with her. One last demon in the dark. One last monster to slay. 

He pensively studied the mark on his palm that Milesandre had left behind to remind him of the bargain he had made.

It had troubled him deeply ever since he had discovered that killing Sansa's assassin wasn't equal to repaying his debt to the Lord of Light. 

One life, in return for his own.

According to the red priestess, Petyr had already made up his mind whose life it had to be.

"Petyr?" She murmured, breathing slowly as her eyes fluttered open.

""I thought you were asleep." He whispered, gently stroking her hair.

"I couldn't really sleep."

"You should rest a little longer. You had a long rough day." He gazed through the window. The birds outside have just started their morning serenade. "The sun will be coming up soon."

"I don't want it to be morning soon."

"Why?"

She shifted her weight, her hands curling through the strands of hair on his chest as she raised her chin to gaze up at him. "Because then you will tell me to leave."

He stroked her arms and tightened his embrace around her. It felt impossible to let her go, and like her, he dreaded what the dawn would bring. Loneliness and separation. Cold bed sheets and cushions that carried only a faint scent of her fading presence. A hollow emptiness in his heart shaped by the very memory of her.

"I can't let you stay. It wouldn't be wise." He was regretting it, as soon as he had said it, but he couldn't let his heart overrule his mind and triumph over common sense. "Tyrion has already sent out the official reports, stating that only two bodies were discovered in the burning wreckage. One was identified as lord Arryn, the other as his unlucky chauffeur. We cannot fake your death as well. Ramsay wouldn't believe it."

"It's not like he's not already finding me a threat. He sent someone to kill me just a few months ago. Not that you wouldn't know about it." She raised herself up and turned to look into his eyes. She curled the corners of her lips into a knowing smile. "It was you in that black BMW, wasn't it? You saved me from his hired assassin."

My beautiful, clever girl. Petyr gave her a wide smile. "Like I said, I was keeping an eye on you."

"Yes." She gave him a little peck on his forehead to thank him. "Every single Friday Stalk Night..." She caressed his cheeks lovingly. "I want to stay." She told him. The playfulness had vanished from her face.

"You cannot just disappear. It would raise too much suspicion. It would greatly endanger Jon Arryn's life. They cannot find out that he's still alive. Don't worry my love. I will keep you safe. I would rather die than to let anything happen to you."

"I am not fearing for my own safety." There was clear frustration in her eyes. "I want to see you. I want to touch you. I want to hear your voice. We have wasted so much time Petyr. I have wasted an entire life time mourning and missing you. I don't want to waste another."

"Sansa. There is nothing in the world that I want more than to be with you. To wake up everyday and see you lying here beside me. But I want you safe, and you will never be safe while Ramsay Bolton is still alive."

"We could just get away from all this." She suggested, and for a moment she was fully convinced that they should. "We could leave this country. Hide somewhere where they never will be able to find us. We can just start a new life together and forget about the Boltons."

"I don't want to hide from Ramsay Bolton." There was a sudden vindictive glint in his eyes. "I want to take him down. I want to take away all that he finds pleasurable or cares for on this green earth and destroy it, right in front of his eyes. I want to hear him scream and beg for mercy while I rip him to pieces and feed parts of him to his disgusting dogs. I want to send him to hell." He whispered. His light frame was literally shaking of rage.

Sansa noticed that he was unconsciously rubbing his fingers over a strange dark circular patch on the side of his palm.

"Is that...really what you want?" She gazed at him, her eyes large and still. "You would deny yourself a chance of true happiness in exchange for revenge?"

"I am sorry Sansa, but knowing that that psycho is still alive somewhere, even when we both are safe, I just can't live with it. I am truly truly sorry." He ran a trembling hand through his hair. "I cannot forget what he has done to me, or what he did to you. I wish I could, but it's impossible." There was more to this, but he couldn't really tell her everything at this stage. It would make her worry too much. He didn't even know for sure if his instincts would prove right, that he really had no choice but to kill Ramsay to save his own soul from being sent back to hell, that his own vindictiveness and mad obsession with bringing down his tormentor had sealed his own fate. "I know you've expected so much more of me...but the truth is...I am really not a saint. I cannot forgive everything like I used to when I was punished by the Gods. I am not that man anymore. I don't know who I am really." He pressed his hands against his eyes, hiding from her in shame. He had tried so hard to keep his mental turmoil a secret from her, but he was breaking down, right in front of her eyes. "I've tried to be Littlefinger again." He confessed. " You have no idea of the things I have done to get this far, to be in the position to be able to get to Ramsay. It turns my stomach to think of it. You would hate me for it. You would be repulsed. I've tried to be myself, but all I do is wallow in my own self-doubt and misery. I really don't want to be Petyr Bealish again. Pathetic and weak, abandoned by everyone." He paused, taking a deep breath and wiping the wetness from his eyes. "When I was in the asylum, I was so confused when I first woke up. I really thought that I had lost my mind. Maybe I really did. Maybe I still have." She gazed up her, begging her to understand. "You were the only thing that kept me going. The memory of you. That deep longing to be with you again. It kept me alive. It gave me the strength to fight back. That...and my burning desire to take revenge on those who have wronged me." 

She gentle took hold of his wrists and lowered his hands so she could look him in his eyes again. 

"You must think me mad." He whispered softly, afraid that she would abandon him now, just like Cat once had. She had seen how vulnerable he really was, how truly scarred he was in both flesh and mind beneath this skin thin mask of confidence and sanity. There was no reason for her to stay by his side.

"I don't think you are mad." She tenderly stroked his face. "Petyr, listen. If this is truly what you want, then do it. Finish what you have started. Make Ramsay Bolton pay. Make him pay for both of us. I shall be waiting for you." She said with a small fragile smile.

"Are you sure?" 

She nodded back at him.

"You will be waiting for a madman who belongs in an insane asylum."

"No, I will be waiting for a man who deserves my understanding and patience. A kind man. A good man, who had earned all the love I can give him." She placed a soft kiss on his lips. "Just let me help you Petyr." She pleaded. "I love you. I truly do. Please let me in. You don't need to do this on your own."

"Please. Don't shut me out."

 

6.

She was sitting in the back of the BMW, slowly being driven away from the mansion. Petyr was standing on the driveway with his hands in his pockets. As he became smaller and smaller, with the distance ever growing between them, her heart felt like it was cut in half. When she finally watched him disappear behind a line of trees, she couldn't keep a brave face any longer.

My love, how long do we have to wait to be together again? I can't even keep my eyes dry when I am away from you.

"Miss Stark?" Petyr's chauffeur was looking at her in the back mirror. "Are you alright? Do you want a handkerchief?"

"No. I am going to be fine." She wiped the tears away with the back of her hand. "Thanks."

"Oh, before I forget. Boss told me to give you this." He held a shiny flat black square over his shoulder. Sansa took it from his hand. It was a mobile phone.

"He also told me to tell you that you are free to use it at any time, in any place. He sent it to the tech boys last night to convert it for you. Any texting or calls you make with this little baby, it's completely safe. It's untraceable."

"What does he want me to do with it?"

Dean just shrugged his shoulders. "What do you usually do with a phone? Call people up?"

This time she did understand his message, and with a mad flutter in her heart, she switched on the device. As soon as it lit up, a string of whatsapp messages rolled over the screen.

All of them were from her Mockingbird. 

I missss you.

How could I ever be so ddelusional to thhink, that I wzould really be aeble to live wwithout you.

She smiled happily, radiantly, and scrolled further down the line to read the rest of his messages. The errors he had made in the first few lines of text seemed to decrease. Sansa thought of the state of his fingers, how much effort it would have taken him to try to type it down flawless, and she cherished the messages that he had sent to her even more.     

I want to see you.

Coming Friday. From now on, that will be our sfdate night. Ross booxcked us place. A rooftop terrace restaurant with a beautsdviful view over the island offff Skye. 

I have always wsdfanted to visit it with you. There are cvsountless of places in this wworld that I want to visit with you, so let us sstart here.

Wsdait for me at the nhorth gdate of Edinburgh chastle at 17:00.

 Next Friday. That was tomorrow! She held the phone to her bosom, clutching it tight, her head light and dizzy and her heart overjoyed.

PS: I sent you little present. You wanted to help me to bring ruinnn to the Boltons. I am fully confident that sdgyou will be able to slpeed up the process considerably. It's waiting for you, back at the office. Go through it. Discuss it with Tyrion. He will know the way to bring this insdfformation to the right people. Remember, don't contact them yourself. Keep your hands clean. I want syou to be safe.

I love you.

Please, please keep yourself safe. P.

She could literally kiss the screen.

"Where are you taking me?" Sansa asked her chauffeur while she stored the phone safely in her pocket.

"Home miss Stark. You fancy going somewhere else?"

"Could you take me to the office? The Conservative party's headquarters in Fleet street. I want to pick up something from work."

"Right-O miss Stark. I will bring you there."

Sansa glanced out of the window, her mind was whirling, her heart impatient to send a reply to Petyr. The only thing that kept her from doing so was that she feared to be disappointed if he didn't immediately text her back. I should act responsibly. She told herself. Another 24 hours, and I will see him again. Just 24 hours. That's not really an impossible long time to wait.  

She just made it to the city when she couldn't hold herself back any longer and took the phone out again to send him a message.

 

Notes: Thank you for your patience! Hope you're not disappointed, I really did try, but wasn't able to write any smut for this chapter. I guess I am just terrible at it. *shrugs*. For updates, please keep an eye on my Tumblr account.

 

Chapter Text

 

Recommended music

Melting Waltz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gF6A04vZiI

 

 

1.

“Hey, what are doing in here?”

Petyr, startled by Arya’s sudden appearance, almost let the knife slip through his fingers. “Don’t you ever knock?” Came his irritated reply. “I almost cut myself with this damned thing. Have you any idea how sharp it is?” He half turned to scowl at her, brows furrowed. “What are you doing in here? Don’t you have anything better to do?”

"I wasn't looking for you. I just ran into this weird place by accident.” Arya gazed around the cold room with what could only be described as a dull type of curiosity. She seemed bored, and more than eager to get into an argument, just to start up trouble. “I keep stumbling into places I’ve never been before, and I have been here for weeks. It’s seriously getting ridiculous.”

“You could stop being so nosy.” Petyr opted, turning back to the gutted pig carcass that dangled from a hook from the ceiling in front of him. “Then it probably won’t happen again.”

“What is this, some sort of giant fridge?”

“It’s an abattoir.”

She stared at him with a funny look on her face, lifting up her dark eyebrows. “Excuse me?”

“It’s where butchers do their job.” Petyr took a better hold of his knife before slipping the thin blade under the mangled flap of skin again that he had been trying to peel off the back of the carcass for the last hour or so. It wasn't easy for him. “It’s where they keep their meat after they have slaughtered the animals.”

“I know what an abattoir is. I am not an idiot. Why do you have one?”

“I need to practice.”

“Oh right, your hands.” Arya muttered, noticing how much he struggled to even keep the blade still. For a while, she watched him work on the dead animal in silence. The butcher job wasn’t done very well. Despite Petyr's best efforts, pale pink and yellow slivers of pig meat and fat were still clinging on to the hide.

“You know, you could just pick up knitting or painting if you want to improve your skills. This is not really what you call a normal hobby, is it?” She remarked, wrinkling up her nose.

“I thought you didn’t mind me being a little weird.” He commented as he continued.

“I just don’t think you’re the type who can handle anything sharp without making a real mess of it.”

Petyr stopped carving. Being very much aware of his own limitations, he was easily frustrated with Arya rubbing his nose right into it. Letting out an exhausted sigh, he turned around to face her again. It seemed that today, there was no way of escaping Sansa’s troublesome little sister.

“It depends how motivated I am.” As it happens, right now, I am very much motivated. “As with everything else in life, the harder I concentrate, the better the results.” He studied her for a moment before he continued. “Look, let’s not beat around the bush. I think I know why you’re here.”

‘Do you?” Arya replied, acting completely nonchalant.

“Yes.” Petyr smirked. “You think I owe you a favor, because of your sister.”

“You mean you owe me an apology.” Arya corrected him.

“And for what exactly, would that be?” Petyr asked, grinning like a man with a severe toothache and blinking his eyes in utter disbelief.

“For yelling at me. For calling me a screw-up and a bad assassin.” The thick-skinned young adult seemed genuinely hurt when she recalled these insults. “I am a damned good assassin. I thought I had demonstrated that well enough to you. You are completely wrong about me, and I want an apology.”

For God’s sake, how old are you, you insufferable little brat?! But instead of yelling at her, he slowly counted back from ten, and tried to hold on to his calm. “I am sorry for yelling at you.” He finally said, trying to sound not too sarcastic. “You’re not a screw-up, and your killing skills are very professional. In fact, I would recommend your services to any of my enemies. If I ever need to be executed again, you would be the first person I would bare my throat to." He raised his hands up in the air. "Satisfied?”

“It’s okay...I guess.” Arya shrugged. “You still need to thank me though.”

“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a very needy little person?”

“Thank me –“ Arya pushed on with a nasty glint in her eyes. “Or I am going to tell my sister that you’ve turned back into a slimy evil scheming bastard again.”

Petyr couldn’t believe his ears. Was that little shit really blackmailing him? “What do you think I am? Somesort of werewolf who transforms from normal to monster by the light of a full moon?” Why oh why do I always end up in these completely bizarre arguments with her? And why am I such an idiot to keep on taking the bait?

“No you’re much sneakier than that. You can’t see it on the outside when you turn bad.” Arya opted, smiling of her own cleverness.

Petyr ground his teeth and sucked in a deep breath, hiding his frustration rather badly. “Look, you’re going to wait forever for that! I am not going to thank you for disobeying my orders! I did however, really want to repay you for reuniting me with your sister. So for FUCK’s sake! Stop annoying me so I can be nice to you for a change!” He wasn’t yelling, but it came pretty close.

“Alright, alright.” Arya tut-tutted calmly. “No need to lose your temper. Honestly, sometimes it’s impossible to see what my sis sees in you.” She said with a cheeky little grin.

There was no other adequate way for him to respond but to roll his eyes up to the ceiling and sigh. “You said you wanted to help me bring down Roose Bolton. I could use an extra pair of hands.” He grudgingly admitted.

“Really?” The look of boredom vanished from Arya’s face. “You’re seriously going to let me help you turn Roose Bolton into worm food?”

“Not exactly a meal for worms.” Petyr mused, a ghost of smile playing on his lips as he thought of all the great things he had in stall for lord Bolton senior. “Let’s just say he will get there in the end.” He finally said, letting his smile widened into grin.

Arya’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Cool! Oh, can I try to remove his face afterwards? I haven’t practiced harvesting ever since I started remembering everything. I am just itching to see if I still have it in my fingers.”

The very thought of watching Arya peel off Roose Bolton’s ugly old mug made poor Petyr’s stomach make an unexpected summersault when very disturbing images of what she had claimed to have done to his own corpse sprung to mind. “Fine.” He muttered, grimacing a little as he tried to get rid of the most gruesome visuals. “Just don’t go waving it around in front of me after you’re finished.”

“I am so going to take Needle along for the job.” Arya rambled on, hardly able to reign in her enthusiasm. “Needle, that’s my sword.” She explained, after she saw Petyr give her a long perculiar look.

“I’ve never understood why people like you always seem to get real satisfaction out of naming their favorite metal killing things." Petyr responded, shaking his head. "It’s just a dead inanimate object, not your beloved pet dog or cat.”

“You are not a warrior. That's why you don't get it. My father used to tell me that all great swords have names.”

“That might be, but it really won’t come running back to you, wagging its tail because it’s in great ecstatic rapture to see you when you whistle and call." Petyr commented, finding the whole idea quite rediculous. "Where did you get your "Needle" from anyway?”

“It’s not the original one. I had it remade. It’s not Valyrian steel, but it is still pretty good. It’s certainly much sharper then any of those toy knives that you’re playing with.”

“At least I am not giving them silly names, and try to have a meaningful relationship with any of them by taking them out on a romantic murder date.”

He had half-expected her to lose her temper with him again, but she didn’t. “You know-“ She told him in a serious voice. “I didn’t really take your face after you died.”

“You said you did.”

“I was just lying.” She shrugged. Petyr noted not without alarm that the little assasin girl lied a lot more than he did nowadays. “Sansa wouldn’t let me. She ordered her soldiers to drag your corpse out to the courtyard to give it a proper burial.”

“Did she?”

Arya nodded. “She even had Maester Wolkan say a few words before we set your funeral pyre on fire. I thought it was a real waste. I could have used your face to get close to Cercei, or any other of our enemies in the south.”

“Such a shame that is, I am sure I could have been really useful to you, one way or another.” Petyr replied sarcastically, but still felt a cold shiver run down his spine.

“…but now I am just glad that I didn’t take it.”

That came rather unexpected. “Really?”

“It wouldn’t feel right, standing here…talking to you.” Arya explained, still looking serious. “You aren’t so bad. Actually, the more I get to hang out with you, the more I think Sansa was right. She saw something in you, something good that was worth remembering you for, that’s why she didn’t treat you the same way she treated Ramsay. That’s why she didn’t let me take your face. My father used to say, you only live on after death as long as there are people alive who want to remember you. Sansa erased all public memory of Ramsay and his clan when she became lady of the Winterfell, but I know she had never forgotten about you.”

Petyr didn't know how to respond. “Thank you.” He finally said, touched by her kind words.

The cheeky grin re-appeared on Arya's face. “You see. Thank you. It’s not such a difficult to say. Not difficult at all. You’re very welcome Petyr.” Her grin widened and she gave him a little mocking bow before she happily skipped out of the cold room.

Petyr, realizing that he had been tricked, shut his eyes and bit on his lower lip in irritation. “I can’t believe this.” He muttered, mentally kicking himself. “That little shi-“

His phone went off. Thinking that it could be Sansa, he hurried to wipe the knife clean over the side of his apron and sheathed it in the leather casing that hung from his belt. He fished out his phone, but much to his disappointment, saw that it was a message from Varys. Petyr sighed and swiped over the screen, leaving an oily smudge over the glass surface.

She is working right now. He reminded himself. She can’t text you all the time. Stop acting like a love-struck teenager.

The One True Path: My old friend, we need to talk.

Petyr winced. He didn’t feel much like talking to his celestial ward. He was expecting a serious scolding from him for the way he had dealt with Myranda. He still had the 70+ messages from the Spider about this very topic stored in his unanswered list, which he just wanted to delete. Still, he couldn’t really continue to ignore him. If he did, Varys might just turn up right here and now to give him a good live bollocking, which he dreaded even more.

Mockingbird: You csfould sjust sendasd message.

The One True Path: Ha! As if you would ever answer that!

A moment later, and another message from Varys arrived.

The One True Path: Seriously, it is very important. We must talk.

The phone went off again. This time it was indeed an incoming call. The number was unknown. Expecting it to be from Varys, Petyr turned it down, but seconds after he had refused the call, the phone vibrated again. Once again, there was an unknown number on the display. Petyr had enough of it and hastely switched off his phone.

“Not now.” He whispered, feeling a mix of agitation and guilt. Give me another two weeks my old friend. As soon as I have dealt with these last two demons of my past, I will be able to face you again. I will be the good, little remorseful soul you want me to be, but for now, let me finish this. Allow me to make my own justice...and let me have my revenge.

 

2.

“What the FUCK are these?!”

Ramsay was so angry that he couldn’t even look the man who had brought him the package in the eyes. If he did, he would have garroted him with his own tie. He reminded himself that he shouldn’t explode like that again, taking out his frustration on one of his own men. His father had warned him not to, claiming that it made him look like "a rabid dog on the loose that needs to be shot”, and lecturing him that it was very bad for morale.

He tried to stick to his father’s advice, mainly because he was taking his old man’s analogy as a badly concealed threat.

“They’re video tapes, boss.” His minion replied.

“I can see that!” Ramsay pointed out, his eyes large and bulging, he quickly grabbed them from the desk, opened a drawer and swept it on top of the other tapes that he had collected over the last two weeks. “Who sent this? Who dumped it in our mailbox?”

“I don’t know boss.” Although Ramsay must have tried very hard to remain civilized with this clueless idiot, his minion was shaking. “I guess it just came in with the regular mail.”

Of course it did. Just like the last 8 of them. Agitated, Ramsay wiped his hand over his face and rubbed his chin, aggressively blowing out a breath of air like a boiling steam engine.

“Is there anything else you want from me boss?” The other man muttered. Ramsay noticed that he was back crawling his way towards the exit. “I will get back to work then.” He muttered apologetically. No reply, only an angry, slightly mad look from Ramsay wide rimmed eyes. The man scuttled out of the office, tripping over his feet in great haste.

Been denied of his human punching-bag, Ramsay vented his anger by slamming his fists into his father’s desk. It made a good dent in the wood, and left his knuckles bruised.

Who the hell dares to fuck with me like this? He tore open the drawer and took out the two tapes again. And what kind of complete retard still uses VHS? With some dread and a queasy feeling in his stomach, he read the labels that were stuck on the side with cheery pink tape. Like the rest of the small collection he now owned courtesy to his secret tormentor, they both had enticing titles.

Myranda does Holland.

Myranda does Belgium.

Myranda in the land of the wolves.

The last two were called: Myranda’s final adventures, part I and II.

Like he had done with his previous gifts, he took them to the old video player that his men had managed to retrieve from a scrap-yard and was now kept it in a corner of the study. He inserted the first tape into the outdated machine and sat down in front of the screen to watch the highly distrubing content with growing revulsion, rage...and a highly perculiar sense of perverted arousal.

The quality of the video was not that great. The images were so hazy and sprinkled with electronic snow that it could have been shot in the deeply sad eighties instead of somewhere remotely closer to the current century, but what Ramsay witnessed in the short half hour of amateur recording was enough to turn the cold sickness in his stomach into hot liquid bile.

What kind of deprived mind and perverted madman would do such vile disgusting things to a defenceless girl?! Ramsay fumed, trying hard to ignore the sensation of hot blood rushing towards his loins. He didn't want to admit it, but some of the things these brutes made poor Myranda do were quite..tittilating?...but in the end, his anger and frustrations commanded more from his attention than his ever growing hard-on did. 

How dare they to ruin her like that!? Myranda was his! His alone! She used to be so beautiful and so strong. Now look at her! They have completely destoyed her. There is nothing left of her that he would find even remotely desirable. If by some miracle, Myrande would manage to escape, and would turn up on his doorstep the way she was in the video footage, naked, bruised, madly rambling, and wailing like a pregnant cow in utter distress, he would probably be so fucking disgusted that he would grab his gun and shoot her in the face.

Ramsay was sure that that would be a kindness, considering the horrid state she was in. He really just wanted to forget about all the repulsive things they had done to her. The more he watched, the more his mad inflated ego became fully convinced that Myranda had shamed him deeply by allowing these brutal men to violate her in such disgusting ways.

He didn’t need to worry about shooting her himself though. The final tape wasn’t like any of the others, and in the end, really lived up to the title.

In the last 5 minutes of the final recording, a tall man with a neck the size of a young bull, his coward face obscured behind a paper dog mask, came into her cell where he opened the suitcase in full view of the camera. It was filled with loaded glass syringes. When the dog masked man went over to Myranda, her eyes opened, and she stared at the syringe with the clear blue liquid that he held in his hand with a dull dazed look, but then some alertness returned, and her chapped lipped opened to utter a string of incoherent noises. The man replied in a some sort of East European dialect, and stroked whatever was left of her hair with the sensitivity of a vet who was about to put your favorite arthritic pet down to sleep, shushing all the way to keep her calm. Then the needle went in and the syringe was emptied out. Myranda’s eyes rolled back in her skull. Her arms and legs went limp, and her body slacked in the chains.

She was gone.

In the minute of silence that followed, a ghastly familiar feeling crept into Ramsay’s shriveled cold heart. It was the same frightening, anxious sensation that had struck him, when he sat on his horse as lord Bolton, warden of the North, overviewing the final moments in the battle with the Starks, when the knights of the Vale suddenly came swarming down the hillside to crush his army and stamp his dreams into the ground.

It wasn’t just that the loss of Myranda had deeply upset him. Something in his life had suddenly fundamentally changed. No matter how bleak the situation had seemed for his ex lover, he always had been convinced that he would track the sick fuckers down, and that he would be able to get her back. It didn't matter if it was to save her or to dispose of her, at least Myranda’s fate would have been his decision. He would have been in control of the situation. Now, someone else had decided her fate for him, and suddenly he was reminded of the God-awful way she had died at the hands of his deranged creature Reek, right before everything went to hell for him at Winterfell.

On screen, the man with the dog mask turned around and gazed right into the camera.

“Mister Bolton.” He said in broken English with a badly concealed Russian accent. “My benefactor wants to leave you a message.”

He silently held a piece of cardboard up to the camera.

Alas, no more adventures for poor Myranda. It read. Then he placed another reading card in front.

Did you enjoy watching her?

I know you did.

How hard are you?

You sick, sadistic fuck.

Ramsay screamed out in equal measures of embarrassment and rage, and hurled one of the tapes at the recorder. How the fuck did they know? He was right in the middle of trashing a chair through the TV screen when Roose Bolton entered the room.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" His father's voice was deceptively calm, lacking in any signs of displeasure, but Ramsay knew him too well to be so easily misled. Roose was had warned him about his behavior before. He wouldn't want to be warned again. Still shaking of anger, Ramsay put back down the chair. 

Someone took her father." He blurter out, breathing out air from his nostrils like an worked-up bull. "They took her, and humiliated and tortured her to get to me."

"She?" came the icey reply.

It was only when Ramsay met his father's pale calculative gaze, that he realized that he had said too much.

"You're not talking about that mad psychopathic whore who had ruined our alliance with Vayon Poole, are you?" He concluded, studying his son's face.

"No father." 

Roose returned his son a sly knowing grin. "Really?"

Ramsay lowered his eyes, and Roose knew enough. He noticed the VHS tapes that lay scattered over the floor and pensively, he picked one up. "What are these?"

His son showed him the videos. If any of the grotesque and obscene images did anything to him, he didn't let it show.

“You see father.” Ramsay said, trying to convince him of the urgency of the matter. “Whoever that bastard is who did this, he’s provoking us! That sick fuck dares to take something that is mine, kidnap one of us and torture her –“

“She isn’t yours.” Roose commented. “And she is certainly not one of us.” He turned to look Ramsay in the eyes. “She is not a Bolton. You are. I thought you said you have broken up all contact with her, and didn’t know where she was. And yet, someone is sending you these." He waved the tape in his son's face before he flung it across the desk. "Obviously he is trying to break you. As far as I can see, it seems to be working.” He rested his cold eyes on him as he drew his own conclusion. “I had hoped that you would have learned your lession by now, but you've lied to me again.”

"I didn't lie to you, father!" Ramsay objected, shaking his head fervently as if his life depended on it. In a way, it did. "I did what you told me to do. I sent her away. I really didn't know where Myranda was."

Roose looked like he wasn’t going to believe him, but then the dark mood in his father's eyes passed and he granted his son a smile.

“Good. He stated, placing a hand on his shoulder as if to reassure him. “Because if you are, you know what I said to you, right after you turned up what that lunatic woman at my doorstep.” Ramsay felt his father’s grasp tighten, rigid fingers digging into skin and muscle. “I have forgiven you once for your betrayal, I won’t forgive you again.” He whispered.

“I remember that well  - and I have promised you that I will never disappoint you again.” Ramsay reassured him, playing every bit the obedient and remorseful son.

Roose slapped his hand hard on Ramsay's shoulder, and without looking at him again, turned to leave.

"Wait father. What are we going to do about this?" Ramsay gestured at the tapes.

"What about it?"

"Isn't it obvious? This was done by someone who's out to get us."

"There is always someone." His father replied. “We always had countless of enemies who want to do us harm. That’s part of the rules of this deadly game we play. We harm others, so they would like to harm us back. It's really nothing new. As long as we make sure that they fear us, and we have more hired guns and corrupt politicians at our disposal than our enemies, we are not in any real danger.”

“But this freak is obviously not intimidated by us at all. Don’t we need to find out who he is? Deal with him before he becomes a threat.” Ramsay opted, still keen to seek retribution for his dead lover.

Roose’s expression froze on his face as he sudden grabbed Ramsay by his shirt and pulled him up.

“Listen to me you little shit.” He said in a voice that only rose slightly to reveal but a trace of his hidden anger. “The elections are in the coming week. We rid ourselves of our main rival, and the poles finally look favorable for us. Without Jon Arryn taking the lead, your old man here has a serious change to be elected.” His voice lowered into a dangerous whisper as he leaned forward to speak into his son’s ear. “So don’t you dare to screw this up for me, just because you want to avenge your useless dead whore.” With that said, he let go of Ramsay and shoved him back a few steps.

“Hide these offensive tapes from the press, keep them under lock and key.” Roose ordered him. “We will take a better look at them after the elections. I promise you, we will find the bastard who has dared to challenge us, and we will get rid of him in the most bloody and satisfying way imaginable, but only after I have become prime minister.”

There had been a time when Ramsay would have responded to his father's insults by simply putting a knife in his stomach, but those days were over. His fortune and status as well as his safety, were all depending on the wealth and position that his father had created for himself in this new world. Ramsay was nothing here. He was legally not even recognized as Roose his legitimate son and heir, and his father would prefer to keep this way. Roose had learned his lesson, and he would think twice before he would make the same deadly mistakes again.

"If that is what you have decided father, I will listen to you and do as I am told." Ramsay replied, staring back at him with white rimmed eyes. Unlike his father, he was certainly not as good in masking his dismay and anger.

While he was on his way back to the campaign office, seated in the back of his chauffeur driven car, Roose contemplated the limited options he had left when dealing with his first born son.

“Is there a problem, boss?” His driver was looking at him through the rear-mirror. It was the same man who had delivered the tapes to his son a little earlier on. Months before, after the incidence with Jeyne Poole, Roose had secretly assigned him to keep an eye on Ramsay.

“You’re right about him. He’s getting out of hand.” Roose said. He stroked over the grey stubble on his chin while he gazed out into the crowded streets. It was near 5 o’ clock in the late afternoon, and the roads were heavily congested, rows of cars inching their way to their destinations. “He’s been lying to me. He told me he got rid of that mad woman, but he didn’t.”

“How did you find out?”

“He is not as good a lair as he used to be. Or maybe I have become a bit more careful and observant when dealing with my bastard son.” A crude smile twisted Roose Bolton’s lips.

Like most of the others who Melisandre had helped to pass over into this realm, Roose had his memories of his past life fully restored. he still remembered the sharp pain of the blade that entered his chest when he was murdered. He also, clearly remembered the even more devastating sense of betrayal when Ramsay held him his arms while his lungs filled with blood, drowning his every breath while the lights faded into black.

“What do you want us to do about this?” The man looked back at him with a sternness in his expression that clearly showed him that when it came to matters in the Bolton family, his men would know exactly to whom them should remain loyal to. To Roose, it was only a poor consolation for the crude realization that was now slowly beginning to dawn on him. No matter how much time had passed, no matter how much he wished that it could be different, Ramsay was still not to be trusted.  

I’ve always placed too much faith in him.

“Continue to keep an eye on him.” He ordered. “If he does anything unusual or exceptionally mad again, like last time when he tried to assassinate that Stark girl, report to me at once.”

“And if this continues?”

“If necessary, we will have to get rid of Ramsay.” Roose stated, keeping his cold grey eyes on the croweded streets passing by his window.

His thoughts were toiling in dark places when his mobile rang. Roose was not expecting any calls at this time, and he froze when he read the ID of the caller.

Having once been a Northern warlord of the Seven Kingdoms, and having survived countless of bloody battles, Roose wasn’t a man who was easily shaken, but now he was stunned, for it was not every day that he received a call from a dead man.

"Yes?" He answered in a voice that didn't reflect his unease.

“You betrayed me.”

The sound of the caller's voice further unnerved him. For as much as he could recall, it matched the voice of the deceased perfectly.

“Who is this?”

“You know who I am. You bought my soul with a bag of silver, then sent me to hell together with the man who I was supposed to kill for you.”

“You can’t be him. You can’t be Sam Clayfinch. He’s dead. He died in the explosion in Jon Arryn’s car.”

“I got away in time.”

“That’s not what was reported on the news.”

“Do you trust the news, or your own ears?”

Roose contemplated this for a moment. “What do you want?”

“Compensation. You have ruined my life. I want a 1000 grand in cash so I can have a new one.”

“And if I refuse?”

“I will go to your enemies instead, see how much they want to pay me for instrumenting your downfall –“

“Don’t take hasty decisions.” Roose interrupted him. “That money can easily be arranged.”

That’s what I thought you would say. Meet me where we have last met, tomorrow at 5 in the evening. Don’t take your cronies along, or the deal is off. Come alone.”

“Wait, how do I know it will be safe?”

“You don’t.” With that said, the line went dead.

 

3.

Mockingbird: I miss you.

Wolfqueen: I miss you. I wish it’s Friday already.

Mockingbird: I have been busssy all day, but can’t stop thinkjging about you. What are you doingoffsg right now?

Wolfqueen: It’s mum and dad’s wedding anniversary today. We’re going out to celebrate. Mum wants us to have a nice family dinner together.

Mockingbird: That sounds reahlly nice. Where are yysou gsdgoing?

Wolfqueen: I don’t know. It’s going to be a surprise. Mum booked the place. Dad has forgotten all about it, as usual. He forgets it every year. He forgets everything, our birthdays, mum’s birthday, Valentine’s day, mother’s day…it’s a miracle that she still sticks around with him after all these years.

Mockingbird: I used to spend a lot of time wondering asgdbout tdghat too.

Wolfqueen: Stop it! Don’t you even dare to go there! I am the only one who gets to complain about my own dad, not you.

Mockingbird: I won’t type another wsford about hghim if it isn’t nice…which means I will be sgfsending you mostly blankkk messages.

Wolfqueen: I know that you two have a history. I know what you must think of him after he sent you to the asylum… but he really didn’t know what he was doing. He was only trying to protect me and he thought he was helping you.

After some hesitation, she added; I wish you two could meet.

A long pause followed before he sent his reply.

Mockingbird: To do wwafhat exactly?

Wolfqueen: I don’t know. Maybe you two could talk things through, get to know each-other a little better, so you can put the past behind you? He really is alright you know. He is a kind and wonderful man.

It took another while before Petyr could think up a suitable and not too offensive reply to send back to her.

He didn’t type a single word, but just sent her a string of emoij scream faces, followed by one that was barfing its guts out.

Wolfqueen: You’re despicable! She added an Emohij with a winking smiley face to let him know that she wasn’t really upset about it.

Wolfqueen: And you? Where are you? What are you doing right now?

Mockingbird: I am busy with Clegane and the ganghgg, planning Ramsay’s downfall, sharpening my knives, readying ourselves to commmmit first degree murder. You know, the usual.

Sansa rolled her eyes and smiled at his silly little joke.

Wolfqueen: Just make sure you don’t get caught! My brother Jon was recently promoted to DI by his department. I don’t want him to get wind of you. Knowing Jon, future family get-togethers can become oh so very awkward afterwards.

Mockingbird: I don’t exactly see myself sitting with your family at the dfdgdinner tshable any time soosfn.

Wolfqueen: I do. There’s nothing scary about my family. They are all really nice people. Except for Arya, and you’ve met her already and you’ve survived that pretty well. The rest of them don’t even remember you & don’t know who you are yet, so I am sure it will be lovely...at least for the first couple of hours.

“Sansa.” Catelyn called out to her daughter from the bottom of the staircase. She was putting on her coat, readying herself to go out. “We need to leave now. Your brothers and your father are already waiting in the car.”

“Shit shit shit.” Sansa muttered. “I will be right there mum!”

Wolfqueen: I really need to go. Talk to you later. She closed the message with an emoij blowing a kiss.

 

4.

Petyr put his phone away, grinning like a cat who had just licked cream from his whiskers. Sansa had sent him a kiss emoij. He hasn’t used that one yet. Such wonderful things these tiny yellow cartoon faces were, especially when they were coming from her. He whirled around cheerfully and grabbed the butcher knife and wettingstone from the stainless steel table, twirling and floating on his toes like a dancer in some high brow artistic performance.

“Ah there you are, just in time with the delivery.” He grinned at Clegane and Dean who came into the cold room dragging in a hooded man by his arms. They were trailed by a man with a hideously burnt face. His scarred skin and burnt clothes were all blackened with sooth, making him look like a nightmarish demon more than a human being. He was wielding a needle thin sword that he kept aimed at the prisoner’s spine.

“Lift up his hood.” Petyr said to Dean while he sharpened his knife. “I want him to see me.”

Dean did as he was told and a very bewildered and much disorientated Roose Bolton blinked his eyes at the bright fluorescent tube lights dangling from the frozen ceiling, then settled his anxious gaze on his kidnappers, fixating it on the burnt man with the demonic appearance.

“Lord Bolton. I trust they have not treated you too roughly.” Petyr smirked. He put away his knife and grabbed a white clean apron from a nearby hook, putting it on. Roose Bolton wasn’t reacting, but instead kept his fearful white rimmed gaze on the man with the gruesome burns.

“Ah.” Petyr noted. “You’re still in shock. That’s fully understandable. A guilty mind can respond in such curious ways when confronted with its ghosts from the past.” Petyr turned to the blackened demon. “Remove it.” He told him.

“But look at him! He’s terrified!” The dead man replied with an excited glee.

“Exactly, and it going to spoil everything else that I have planned for him. Come on, take it off. You have played with it long enough.”

The man sighed and grabbed onto a flap of loose skin hidden behind his charred left earlobe. With a light pull, he peeled off the scarred face to reveal the young and smiling features of a young girl.

For a second time today, the otherwise impervious lord Bolton was completely stunned by this revelation.  

“And get this thing out of my kitchen.” Petyr scolded.

“It’s just a flap of processed human skin.” She was using her normal voice again, no longer flawlessly imitating the speech and manners of Jon Arryn’s chauffeur. The transformation from dead man back to Arya Stark was complete.

“It’s unhygienic. You just retrieved it from the morgue.”

“It’s burnt to a crisp, how can it be unhygienic?”

Petyr didn’t say another word, but kept glaring at her till she finally relented and took the offensive thing out of the cold room, hopefully to dispose of it.

Petyr turned his attention back to his guest of honor. “I apologize.” He told Roose Bolton, almost a little embarrassed. “That’s Arya Stark, Ned Stark's youngest daughter. She is a very strong-minded young lady, and really should come with her own warning against mental exhaustion. She also has a strange, rather cruel sense of humor that is not to everyone’s taste, although I must say, as time pass by, I have learned to appreciate it a little bit more.” Petyr told him with a smirk.

Roose was finally noticing him. He blinked his eyes, then squinted like an old man in the need of glasses. “Bealish?” He muttered, completely astonished. “Petyr Bealish?”

Petyr flashed him one of his warmest smiles. “You have no idea how delighted I am that you remember me. This night wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t. It would have been far less enjoyable.”

“Bealish…Ramsay told me that you were dead.”

“Are you sure that he really said that?” Petyr replied, still smiling while he shook his head. “Let me correct this for you, he probably said he killed me. That’s what he must have said. You may think it’s just me being needlessly fastidious, but I disagree. There is an important difference here. You see, the way you said it, it just seems like no one was to blame for what happened to me, but the way I said it, there certainly was.“

“What do you want from me? Why did you let your goons bring me here? What is this place?”

“A lot of questions my lord, luckily I have the whole night to provide an answer to them all.” With a fluid turn of the wrist, Petyr grabbed the knife again from the counter, and stabbed it right into Roose Bolton’s left shoulder.

“Let’s start with the first one, shall we?” Petyr shouted back at him, still smiling and raising his voice over his victim’s mad wails of agony. “You’re in the kitchen of an establishment called l’Oseau Blue. Does that sound familiar to you?”

“It’s one of your own restaurants.” Petyr explained when Roose’s failed to respond in any coherent way. “One of the many you have confiscated from the locals. You had your greedy heart set on this lucrative little business a couple of years ago, and you threatened the rightful owner, mister Allard and his family, to get your hands on it. You financially ruined him, and when he still didn’t want to sell, you let your goons set fire to his family home. He lost his wife in that fire. His 12 year old daughter was left permanently scarred. She can’t go outside without covering her face. Now…is this all finally coming back to you?”

“You stabbed me.” Roose struggled to say, sounding outraged, despite of his fear. “Do you know who I am in this world? Do you know what I can do to you?”

“Yes I know." Petyr replied calmly. "That’s why I am not planning to let you walk out of here again.” He gazed up at the meat hook dangling from the ceiling. “String him up and leave us. Tell mister Allard to get ready.” he told Dean and Clegane. He then picked up another knife from the counter.

“W-what –are - you -“

“Ssst.” Petyr put the tip of the blade against Roose’s lips. “I am not finished with answering your first three questions yet. Let’s take this slow, shall we.” He cut a shallow red line across Roose’s lower lip and watched him whimper ever so slightly. “I really want to enjoy this.” He said to him with a mad smile. “It’s been a hell of a long ride all the way from purgatory to get us to where we are now, so let’s not overrush things to get you back to hell so quickly." He lifted the blade. "Now about the reason why. Why did I let my men kidnap you and bring you here? Why is there a knife sticking out of your shoulder?” Petyr pointed out with a cheerful grin. “Do you remember when I brought you Sansa Stark to be wedded to your bastard son? We were discussing our new alliance at the dinner table when you said something to me, something that I found greatly offensive.”

“I – I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Petyr made a nasty cut that parted the thin fold of skin between Roose's left thumb and forefinger. “Oh come on.” He encouraged him between Roose's hash cries. “Do try to remember. It’s no fun for me if you don’t.”

“For God’s sake, that’s a life time ago Bealish! No matter how much I had offended you in any way, surely that doesn’t mark me out for this kind of treatment!”

“Oh but It’s not me that you have offended.” Petyr continued, and made the exact same cut on Roose’s right hand. Like his deranged boy had once said to Petyr, one lazy afternoon when he was leisurely mangling his fingers; it’s much preferred to keep the cuts in balance on both sides. It’s more aesthetically pleasing. “Try again.” Petyr told him.

“Wh-what did I say? I can’t – I can’t remember, stop, stop this, please.”

“Catelyn Tully." Petyr's blue green eyes met Roose's troubled gaze. "Do you remember what you said about her?”

“W-what?”

“You told me how one of Walter’s boys murdered her after she begged on her knees for you to spare the life of her boy. You told me that the sound she made when she watched your men shoot her boy’s heart full of arrows, was highly comical, like a call of a pig in heat. You were laughing while you mocked her. You said she sounded like a bitch swine that was being taken from behind when they cut her throat. I had sworn that day, that I was going to bring you down to avenge her. I promised myself that one day, I would make the mighty lord Bolton beg for his own life, and make him cry while he's on his knees, screaming like a pig as he gets butchered.”

“You-you can’t be serious. You want me dead because of that? What kind of psychopath are you?”

I am a psychopath?” Petyr grinned, shaking his head in disagreement. “What about your son? If I am mad, what does that make him?”

“R-Ramsay?”

“And that bring us to the final question. What do I want? That one is simple, really. I want revenge. Your boy has done things to me that I cannot possible forget, let alone forgive.”

“But that’s all Ramsay’s doing. If you have any problem with my bastard you should try to get to him. Not me. I have never wronged you Bealish!”

“I disagree. If you have not fucked his bitch mother and sired this Satan’s spawn of a bastard son in the first place, I am pretty sure that many of the most unfortunate things that have ever happened to me, would not have happened at all. Let's face it Roose, your son, is a diabolical little monster of an exceptionally cruel breed." Petyr placed the blade against Roose's chest and one by one, cut the buttons loose from his shirt.

"What do you want with me?"

 Petyr gave him an icecold grin. "I am here to collect what Ramsay owes me, by transferring his sins onto the flesh of the man who has created him. Tonight, with the help of monsieur Allard, I am going to treat your loyal and corrupt entourage to a feast that they would find very hard to ever forget.”

“You’re insane.” Roose blurted out. He was in a state of paralyzing fear and panic, as he finally realized where this was heading. “You’re fucking mad!”

“Call me what ever you like, I just need to get this done to be able to move on.” Petyr produced a small thin blade from a pocket of his apron. It had a worn wooden handle, and looked very primitive, almost medieval… very much like those flaying knives that the Boltons would have used to flay their enemies.

“No no.” Roose shook his head anxiously, his eyes wide with horror. “Don’t! Bealish! Can’t you see that whatever fuck happened to you has nothing to do with me?! Please don't do this! Take Ramsay, take him! Not me! Not me!”

Roose kept shouting, pleading for his own life in exchange for that of his bastard son’s, right until Petyr cut out his tongue and handed it over to mister Allard, who was silently waiting outside in the kitchen, eager to put the offensive organ into a boiling pot.

 

5.

"Are you sure you made reservation with us?" The girl with braided red locks behind the reception desk asked in broken English. It wasn't encouraging that she was checking the guest list with the typical panic of a novice.

"Yes yes." Catelyn urged. "There it is. You see." She pointed out her own name among the others in the booking register. The girl looked at it with a somewhat helpless expression on her face. "No no, you should not be on the list. "You see?" She showed it to Catelyn. "All other names are in red, yours is in blue." 

"How does that matter?" Catelyn argued.

"It just does. You should not be here tonight." The girl replied with a serious look on her face.

"Look I have made this reservation all the way back in January. I received a telephone call that the booking was accepted, and now you're telling me that we are not welcome here?"

"I am sorry."

"You're sorry?" Catelyn was besides herself, but before she could really show her dismay, her husband laid a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"Cat." Ned tried. "Let it rest. We will go. It's not that late yet. We will be able to find another restaurant."

"On a Sunday night?" She told Ned, her blue eyes blazing. "I don't want to go to another restaurant! I made a booking here. We are entitled to get a table." She turned back to the girl. "Listen to me, my name is on that list. I've been trying to plan this family get-together for months now. I am not going to let some clueless waitress ruin this and send us away only because someone picked up a blue pen instead of red one when he wanted to put my name down."

"But the list!" The girl ranted helplessly. "My boss told me to keep to the list!"

Sansa watched her mother's face turn red and tried to intervene before this was getting really out of hand. "Can you please talk to your manager for us?" She pleaded with the waitress. "This is a very special occasion for our family. My parents are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary today. It's very hard to get everyone together and we would really like to eat here."

The girl behind the reception desk sighed. "I see what I can do, but he will not like it."

 

6.

Petyr was busy helping out mister Allard and his cooks with prepping the vegetables and all the different cuts of meat that he had already harvested when Lena, a young Polish girl he had rescued from Ramsay's truck and who had volunteered to help out in the restaurant, came rushing into the kitchen to find him.

She looked much troubled. Petyr had given his made-shift restaurant staff clear instructions to keep to the list and not let any hapless guests wander in from the street. Today's special menu served at the l’Oseau Blue was only meant to be enjoyed by those who really deserved to be here. Crime-lords without conscience who sided with the Boltons, and greasy politicians who had turned a blind eye to Roose Bolton's many transgressions, in exchange for lucrative positions within the party, and countless generous bribes. They all believed that tonight they were invited to this free feast by their benefactor, unknowing that he was about to be served up to them for dinner.

"We have a problem." She stated before shoving the booking register under his nose.

"What's the problem?" Petyr asked, slightly irritated. He and the rest of the kitchen bridage still had a million things to do, and the first of the guests have already arrived.

"The list! There is a name in blue, not red. Someone made a reservation for today and we didn't her call to cancel." The girl explained.

"Just tell them that we made a mistake and that unfortunately, there are no more tables available." Petyr replied, slicing up a piece of liver into cubes without giving her another glance.

"I said that already. She doesn't want to go. She said her name is on the list and we can't send her away."

"Christ." Petyr sighed and turned around while the girl continued to point out the blue scribbles on the page. "I really don't have time now." He said, much agitated, just when his eyes picked out the name written down in blue ink.

"Wait.” He finally took the booking register from her, and stared at the page with his brows raised. “Someone called Catelyn Stark made a reservation here?"

Lena nodded. "She said she made it months ago."

"Where is she?” He asked. “Is she on the phone?"

"No, she is here with her family, standing outside in the corridor and waiting."

Could be someone else with the same name. It would be such an impossible coincidence if it really turned out to be Cat. But one secretive look through the porthole window of the kitchen doors and Petyr could no longer deny the cruel fact that the universe seemed to utterly delight in screwing up his carefully, painstakingly made plans, possible only to piss him off. He puffed out a sweaty lock from his eyes and racked his fingers through his hair. He couldn't believe his dammed luck. What the heck are the Starks doing here? Is this some sort of sick cosmic joke, initiated by Varys because he didn’t want to answer his calls?

"What should I tell them?” Lena asked.

“Tell them…there is no place. Tell them to leave.” He replied, thinking on his feet.

“Okay. But she might make another scene.”

“Doesn’t matter, the other guests would just love it. Nothing that snobs adore more than to be confirmed in their own conviction of superiority over others.”

“Rrrright.” Lena commented, not sure what to think of his rambling, and started heading back to reception.

“Wait.” Petyr suddenly thought of something. “Did she come with her eldest daughter?”

“There was a younger woman with her. Same flaming red hair. Not sure if she is her daughter or not. She asked me to come talk to you. She wanted to get a table for her family.”

Sansa…She is here too. The very thought that she was just outside, on the other side of the kitchendoors, calmed him down considerably. It was only Sunday today. Date night was still almost a whole week away, and he really did long to see her, instead of just communicating with her using short texts and cartoon faces. 

“So…I am going to tell them to go away now.” Lena told him.

“No wait. Don’t do that. Tell them they can stay."

"There is no room."

"Offer them the table next to the fireplace, the one with the nice view into the patio garden.”

But that’s the best table in the house. You told me safe that for the secretary of finance and his wife.”

Fuck the secretary and his wife. “I have changed my mind. Offer the table to the Starks and give them my apologies for causing any previous inconveniences.”

“Okayyy….If you’re really sure about this now, I will go tell them.”

“Go ahead.” Petyr nodded, feeling very relieved that he had finally made a decision. From where the Starks were to be seated, he could watch Sansa quietly from the kitchen without being noticed. “Oh, and offer them a glass of chilled champagne, tell them it’s on the house.” He added with a smirk before he returned to his prep-station, his mind filled with happy memories of Sansa's radiant smile. It might not be the same as date night, but at least he could keep her close and be able to sneak a peek at her from time to time.

"I shall also give them tonight's menu, shall I?" Lena opted.

"Yes go on with it." He was about to hack into a lump of dark liver when he realized what he just said. "No no wait! Not that menu!" He rushed to correct himself.

 

Notes: Hi everyone, I am sorry I have been away for the month June, hence the lack of new posts. but hey! it's Friday again, which means date night! Eh, ahum I mean post night. I had planned to finish the Roose chapter with this post, but as always, it's getting a way too long, so I am cutting it in half. Next week, you get the second half. For tid bits, follow me on Tumblr. Best wishes to everyone who are still reading this story and have a glorious summer!

NB: If the whole Roose & Petyr talking about Cat scene sounds somewhat familiar to you, yeah I used that in Mock(ing)bird (prequel), see chapter 4.

H

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Notes:

Recommended musictracks:

 

In the hall of the mountain king

La foule

 

and:

 

Iris

 

1.

The restaurant had gradually filled up with people, and the first dishes were sent out to the hungry waiting guests when Lena returned from the Stark table.

Petyr stopped plating the still warm red cubes of Bolton steak tartare. “And, what did they say?” He asked, wiping his hands clean over his apron.

“They liked it.” Lena replied.

No real surprise here. He was offering the Starks an elaborate new menu stuffed with foie gras, black truffles, expensive seafood and prime beef cuts for the ridiculous price of a Mac Donald’s happy meal. Only an idiot would stick to the old Bolton plates du jour.

“Good. So they all ordered from the second menu?”

“Most of them did.”

Petyr cocked an eyebrow. “What do you mean, most of them?”

“The husband from the woman who made the reservation didn’t like to order anything from the new menu for his starter. He first wanted to order the foie gras like all the others, but then his wife explained what it was. He wants something else now.”

Petyr grunted. Ned bloody Stark. He had almost forgotten that Cat’s insufferable lump of witless rock was here too. Petyr remembered watching that idiot absentmindedly munch down a whole sack of raw onions during a dreadfully long council meeting and suffering the terror of his alliumnous bad breath for hours afterwards. That man had as much sophistication as a Greywater mudfish farmer who had fallen on particularly hard times.

“What did he order?” He asked, clearly irritated.

“He said he wants something simple. He wants to have what the table next to him had. The one with the media guy?”

That was the table of Philip Marlowe. Petyr had kept an eye on the media tycoon ever since he arrived with one of his younger and more voluptuous mistresses. Marlowe, a man the size of a tub of lard with sleazy oily manners to match, had been acting as a public mouthpiece, relentlessly advertising for Roose Bolton’s campaign. Worse still, he had invented and distributed more fake stories to damage lord Arryn’s reputation as a trustworthy politician than Donald trump had to torpedo Hillary Clinton’s career. It seemed to Petyr that the obnoxious newsmonger should be taught a lesson to stop him from continuing licking Roose Bolton’s balls for the considerable sums that he received from his patron on his secret Swiss bank account. He had personally selected a dish for him that in his eyes, perfectly fitted the purpose.

Petyr couldn’t believe his ears…or his luck. “Ned Stark wants the boulette?” He was hardly able to contain his grin.

“That’s what he ordered.” Lena nodded.

Petyr glanced at the prep-table where the last remaining testicle of the man who he was currently dismembering in the nearby cold-room was sitting in a glass bowl of melting ice, waiting to be served up to the hapless guests.

I can’t do this. He thought, rather regretfully.

Sansa would kill me.

She doesn’t need to know, does she? He heard Littlefinger whisper into his ears. Petyr had let his alter ego out of his cage for this special occasion. So far, he had proven very useful. For one thing, Littlefinger had no trouble to skillfully wield the butcher-knife without so much as a slight tremor of the blade.

There is no harm in a little horseplay. Unlike the last time we toyed with that idiot Northern fool, this is not going to kill him…unless, of course, you wish so…

Petyr hesitated, but to be fair, the opportunity to see Ned Stark take Roose Bolton’s private parts in his mouth was simply too tempting to let pass.

“Monsieur Allard, could you please prepare a second order of your sumptuous boulette for table 12 please?” Petyr said with a mischievous little smirk. “And since I am feeling particular generous today, we might as well add an extra treat and serve your famous saucisson de Lyon on the side.” He gleefully picked up his butcher knives and was about to head back into the cold room for the required extra ingredient, when he felt the tip of a needle thin blade prick in his spine.

“No.” Arya told him coldly. “No way you’re going to serve his smelly genitals to my dad.”

“Easy there girl.” Clegan grunted, emerging from a corner of the kitchen as mister Allard frighteningly stepped aside. He had been keeping an eye on things, just in case Ramsay’s men showed up. “Don’t pay notice to the little loon.” He rasped while pointing a gun at her. “He was just fooling around. Probably didn’t mean a word of it."

“But I am not joking.” Arya responded, her expression indeed too stern and dangerous to be interpreted otherwise. “Listen to me.” She told Petyr. “If you go on with it, I am going to slice off one of your balls and stuff it in your mouth. You’ll be choking on it before Sandor here could even manage to fire a shot at me. Do you want to risk that, after you finally got a change to get together with my sister?”

Petyr gazed back at her with unblinking eyes full of defiance. “Do you have any idea, what your father’s idiocy has costs me?”

Shut up you idiot.” Clegane growled as he carefully watched Arya’s blade. “Can’t you see she is fucking serious.”

“He signed the papers that allowed Tywin Lannister to sent you to an insane asylum.” Arya replied calmly. “Yeah. I know that boring old story. Sansa told me.”

“Considering what I went through, this little jest can hardly be considered a heavy price for him to pay.” Petyr justified himself.

“Can’t you see that I don’t care?” Arya replied. Her gaze was still deadly. “Have you already forgotten what you have done? You betrayed my father. He lost his head because of you. I would say, karma-wise, you owe him more than he owes you.”

Petyr tried to move away, but Arya steadied her hold on Needle, keeping him at striking distance. “Go on then.” She said. “Go ahead with the order…my sister shall be very disappointed next time you two have an intimate moment together.” She added with an impious little smile.

It took him a while to digest the humiliation that the little assassin girl had the upper hand. Eventually, his common sense won from his dented pride and childish malice. Still, when he finally gave in, Petyr's face was close to sulking.

“Monsieur Allard." He sighed. "Cancel that order please. Lena, would you be so kind to inform our guest that we have unfortunately, run out of meatballs. Suggest the blood sausage with caramelized apples instead.”

“We have no ordinary boudin noir in the freezer.” Mister Allard noted.

“We don’t have the right ingredients for the rest of the orders from table 12 either. I will think of something.” Petyr told him.

Arya put away Needle, and to Petyr’s surprise, went over and stood on her toes to give him a small peck on the cheek. “Thank you.” She said, suddenly as polite as a proper little lady, as she beamed up a smile at him.

Petyr turned back to his prep-station after he watched her skipping away happily, shaking his head in astonishment.

I used to serve kings and queens and counsil the most powerful men and women of state, now I am in the company of ex-whores, moody, redemption-seeking criminals and mad murderous little psychopaths. Truly, how low have I sunk?

Nevertheless, there was still an unnoticed smile lingering on his face when Lena returned with the final order from the Stark table.

 

2.

The next hours that followed were hectic with orders coming in almost every minute. Soon the neat and organized kitchen transformed into a messy battlefield of sweaty cooks juggling boiling pots and sizzling pans, while Lena and the rest of the brigade of waiters rushed out with plates filled with exquisite looking food, only to return seconds later with stacks of dirty dishes.

Petyr was overseeing it all, and managed to keep on top of things. He especially made sure that the special take out delivery from the restaurant La Provence from down the street arrived hot and beautifully plated on the dinner table of the Starks, while the dishes from l’ Ossant blue were kept far away from them most immaculately.

Petyr also made regular visits to the cold room. As the evening progressed, the captive crimelord was slowly transformed in mister Allard’s masterful hands into a feast of exquisite dishes to feed to Roose Bolton's morally bankrupt associates. His spleen turned into panfried mock sweetbread. His flesh, diced, sliced and shredded, left as steak tartare, steak Diane, honey glazed roasts, spicy saucissons or melt-in-the-mouth pates and terrines. They were heavy with herb seasoning, garlic and a good splash of Armagnac to hide the slight stink of fear that was easily detected when one was to take a good whiff of the raw ingredient.

Somewhere in the back, Dean and Arya were helping out too, boiling slivers of skin together with calf-feet to make gelatin in preparation of the dessert puddings.

On Petyr’s orders, nothing was to be wasted. Tonight, Roose Bolton was to completely disappear from the face of the earth...right through the stomachs and intestinal tracks of the 66 invited guests.

In the meantime, Petyr was spoiling Sansa and her family rotten.

“This is absolutely wonderful.” Cat clapped in her hands excitedly when a frighteningly large tower of fruits de mer was brought to the table. It was served in a vessel of ice, painstakingly chiseled into the likeness of a ship at sea. It was laden with cooked shellfish, shrimps and crab legs, smoked salmon, cod, and tuna, together the largest damned lobster Sansa had ever set eyes on.

“Isn’t this wonderful?” Her mother exclaimed. “And you all wanted to go somewhere else.”

“I am sure glad we didn’t.” Robb grinned as he piled his plate high with a mount of shrimps drowning in mayonnaise. The moment his mum told him that were going to a 2 star French restaurant, he had complained that they were probably going to be left hungry by the end of the evening. This was far more to his liking. "This stuff is excellent.” He commented with his mouth full.

“Hey! That’s my crab leg!” Rickon complained when Bran snatched it away under his nose.

“There is another one here.” Bran dug it up from underneath the carcass of the monster lobster and tossed it over to Rickon, who half caught it before dropping it on his Sunday-best outfit.

“You two! Stop that!” Cat hushed, feeling the disapproving looks of the other guests sting in the back of her neck.

“What’s this thing?” Bran asked, and picked up the funny looking instrument lying next to his plate. It looked like a sturdy set of silver pincers.

“It’s for breaking shells.” Jon explained. He was trying to get to one of the last crab legs before his ravenous siblings snatched it away.

“Like this?” Before Cat could stop him, Bran put the entire monstrous lobster, slippery with melted butter, between the pincers and squeezed hard, launching the damned thing from their table right into the exquisite flower arrangement of their neighbours, scaring the hell out of them.

“Oops.” The boy muttered.

Needless to say, his mother was distraught and utterly mortified. “I am so sorry about this!" She told the other table, her cheeks flushing bright red with embarrassment. “Can you all behave yourselves, please!" She pleaded with her own disfunctional brood. "Oh Bran, look at what you have done! Ned, say something!” Cat begged her husband.

“Boys, listen to your mother.” Ned muttered absent-mindedly, too busy trying to figure out how to get the damned meat out the spindly leg of a piece of snow crab to pay her any more attention.

Amid this messy chaos, Sansa kept mostly to herself. She wasn’t eating much, although she was enjoying the company of her family. Her brothers’ voracious appetite was nothing new. The scene could have just as easily played out at home, although she was certain that her mom would have been far less stressed out about it if it was.

What she did find far less pleasant were the type of guests that currently co-occupied the premise. She recognized several of them from Jon Arryn’s files. They were all rich and powerful men, suspected to be heavily involved in many of the Boltons’ most unsavory businesses. Only two weeks ago, Petyr had given her a file of documents containing detailed information on their dealings with Roose. She had shared it with Tyrion with Petyr’s specific request to find suitable news channels willing to distribute it in exactly two weeks time. As it happened, the condemning articles were ready to be published first thing tomorrow morning.

It could be just a coincidence that she had run into a good number of them tonight in this particular restaurant, but ever since the failed assassination attempt, she was very careful to dismiss anything connected to Ramsay as pure random chance.

Then she noticed a strange little detail in the fruits de mer ice ship. It was her mother’s sigil, a Tully silver trout skipping out of the waves, chiseled into the sail. Her mom wouldn’t have recognized it, having no clear memory of her past, but Sansa did.

It certainly did not help to calm her nerves.

 

3.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Petyr was encountering a few problems of his own with the demanding clientele.

“Why is no one ordering the liver?” He complained, turning around from his station, sweatdrenched and his face flushed with the heat of the kitchen. “I told you to push them to order it.”

“I did.” Lena explained. “But they really don’t want it.”

“Why wouldn’t they want it?”

“Because it’s crap.” Sandor rasped. “No one in his right mind likes liver.”

“Liver sautéed in charlottes with truffle cream sauce.” Petyr muttered, thinking it through while he ran his fingers through his sticky curls. “What’s not to like?”

“They think it’s pig liver.” Mister Allard explained. “It’s not a common thing to eat for the English.”

“Well, we still have to get rid of it.” Petyr concluded. “There are masses of it left in the fridge. It’s too late to turn it all into sausages and terrines.”

“Just chuck it in the fryer with the chips.” Sandor said. “It will taste much better.”

Petyr gave him a funny look. “You would prefer everything to be thrown into the deep fat fryer. I am not sure I want to follow your culinary advice here, my friend. You like fried haggis and mars bars dipped in lard for God’s sake.”

“Nothing fucking wrong with that.” Sandor grunted. “It’s damned good eating.”

“Your friend here could be on to something.” Mister Allard said pensively.

But Petyr would have none of this. “We’re not going to serve deep fried liver to the clientele of a two star French restaurant.” He told the cook and his moody bodyguard, fully convinced that it never was going to happen.

A couple of minutes and a heated argument later, and Petyr was reluctantly covering the purple slices of liver in egg-yolk and rolling them in bread crumbs. Fried to a golden crisp by monsieur Allard, they were sent out by Petyr under the smug gaze of Sandor, who was also more than eager to be the first to point out the clean plates on their return.

“You see.” Clegane said with a crooked grin. “Told you these rich snobs would love this shit.”

“These idiots have leather on their tongues instead of taste buds.” Petyr lamented grumpily. "-Wait!" He was just in time to halt one of the waiters who was on his way out to the Starks, carrying a tray full of dishes. Petyr had asked one of monsieur Allard’s most skilled cooks to create a gorgeous decoration out of fresh garden vegetables. He would not let the main course leave for Sansa’s table before he had carefully placed and arranged it on her plate himself.

Peeking at her from time to time through the pigeon hole window, it had worried Petyr that Sansa had seemed stressed out the entire evening. It was probably due to the truly gruesome table manners of the rest of the Stark clan. He had seen wild beasts rip their prey apart with more grace and far less bloodshed.

At least all the effort he put into her food was bound to put a smile on her face.

 

4.

Sansa didn’t know what worried her more as she uncomfortably sat through the last two courses, the dire wolf sigil that had just popped up, branded onto the crust of her mushroom truffle pie, or the heart tree that came to the table with her perfectly roasted duck breast. It was exquisitely carved out of squash and cucumber, with leaves cut from cherry tomatoes, and its fresh green depressing features were weeping cucumber juice.That last part was certainly weird enough to give her reoccuring nightmares...

“Sansa, my sweet.” Cat hesitantly asked her eldest daughter. “What’s wrong? You have barely touched your food. Don’t you like it?”

“It was delicious.” Sansa reassured her with a tired smile. “But I am stuffed.”

“Are you feeling alright? You look a little pale?” Cat reached out to brush over her daughter’s cheek in an badly shielded attempt to feel for her temperature.

“Mom, I am fine, really.” Sansa muttered.

“It's just, you have so little appetite lately.” Cat muttered worriedly.

“Cat.” Ned opted, noticing that his daughter was starting to get embarrassed. “Just leave her be. You know Sansa always eats like a tiny mouse.”

I just don’t want you to get ill again.” Cat sighed, taking her hand away. When his wife was distracted by one of their misbehaving boys again, Ned caught his daughter’s eye and gave her a reassuring wink. Knowing that her father was going to keep her mother off her back, Sansa relaxed a little.

She knew that although her parents were sadened by Jon Arryn's sudden demise, they were nevertheless very relieved that her tutor's death had not triggered a relapse of her mental state to her darker days. Of course she had heard from Petyr that Jon was alive and well, safe in hiding and kept under his protection, so there was no reall cause for any distress. In addition to that, the last few weeks in which she had been able to finally spend time with Petyr after he had revealed himself to her were complete heavenly bliss. She had never been happier before, and she struggled to not let it show to her family and her colleagues to keep Petyr's existence a secret. Still, it was hard for her to see her parents worry about her so much. If only they knew what was really going on…But then, if she told them about Petyr, they might end up worrying about her even more…

The desserts arrived at the table, finally signaling the near end of this seemingly endless meal. Sansa suppressed a worried sigh when she took in the golden lemon cheese cake, shiny with honey glazing and decorated with slices of sugared lemon. As soon it was placed in front of the family, it filled the air with a fragrant citrus scent.

It was her absolutely favorite….Come to think of it, the whole elaborate menu that was so kindly offered to them by the talented chef was, by what must be a stupendous amount of coincidence, full of her favorites, and that of her mother…

It was when Bran and Rickon were starting to riot over who was going to cut the cake, that she finally noticed the remarkable decoration. A white chocolate wolf, its coat shining with a silver sugar coating, was sitting happily on a patch of white icing, like a direwolf in the snow. Sansa let out a sigh in relief. It was the little marzipan mockingbird that finally did it for her. It perched confidently on top of the white direwolf’s head, building what appeared to be a little nest out of chocolate twigs between the wolf’s fur.

Petyr.

The worries that had gnawed on Sansa mind for the last couple of hours vanished completely and were replaced by something that balanced somewhere between joy and annoyance.

What the heck does he think he’s doing? She thought, as she rose from the table and excused herself for a bathroom break. As secret messages go, these ones are very confusing and very wrong indeed.

Instead of going to the ladies, she headed into the opposite direction and disappeared into the kitchen when no-one else was looking.

She had barely passed through the kitchen doors when she nearly bumped into one of the waitresses.

“Excuse me miss.” Lena told her, much alarmed to find a guest in the middle of the kitchen. Petyr had explicitly told her to not let anyone in. “This is staff entrance only. Let me guide you back to the restaurant area.” She was nudging her back towards the doors when Sansa caught a glimpse of the rest of the kitchen staff. They were all turning their backs to her, while lowering their heads and hiding their faces in a hurry.

“I want to say thanks to the chef. It was such a delicious meal that we just had.” Sansa told Lena, showing her a disarming smile while she continued to snoop around. “I would really like to thank him in person. Where is he?”

From the corner of her eyes, Sansa saw a man dressed in a sweat drenched chef outfit and a dirty apron spin around as soon as she set eyes on him. It was too quick for her to get a good look at his face.

“Ehh, He’s really busy right now.” Lena tried, while behind her, the man hurried away towards the back of the kitchen. “We all are. Could you please return to your table miss? I will let him know that you liked his food.”

“Oh never mind.” Sansa told her, still smiling sweetly as she brushed the hapless waitress aside. “I’ll go find him myself.”

“No miss! You really can’t stay here!” Lena yelled after her, but Sansa was already rushing down the kitchen aisle. She was heading after the cook who from behind, suspiciously looked like Petyr, and ignored all the commotion that she seemed to cause as she rushed pass the rest of the kitchen brigade, right until she ran into some very familiar faces.

“Sandor?” Sansa muttered, much surprised. “Arya?!” They were both dressed in chef jackets, and looked strangely comical.

“You’re not supposed to be here little Dove.” Sandor rasped.

“Before you start shouting, let me just say this first.” Arya hurried to say. “I wasn’t lying to mom when I said I really had something important to do at uni and couldn’t come home for the anniversary dinner.”

“You’re not at uni now.” Sansa told her accusingly, her blue eyes blazing.

“Yeah no – but it really was something –very- important –“

“So you lied to her. You lied to our own mother to weasel your way out of this family outing that she had planned for months in advance. You should be ashamed of yourself. What the heck are you two doing here?”

A long awkward pause followed during which Arya and the Hound gave each other anxious looks.

“You know.” Arya finally dared to opt. “It’s all your boyfriend’s fault. He talked me into it. Go kill him if you need to go apocalyptic on anyone’s ass. I really was just following orders. You know how he is. Evil scheming master mind...” Arya’s voice trailed off when her sister continued to look at her with a gaze that could set a house on fire, before she turned her eyes on Sandor for any further explanation.

“Ehh.” The Hound growled uncomfortably. “Whatever your little sis just said.” He finally told her with a sheepish grin.

“Right.” Sansa nodded, sighing deeply. “Where is he?”

 

5.

The cold room was small but well lit. As soon as Sansa stepped inside, her high heeled shoes dipped into puddles of crimson, staining their soles with blood. Her breath caught in her chest in shock when her eyes set on the flayed figure, hanging from a large meat hook that frighteningly disappeared in the back of his exposed neck muscles. A tangle of tubes, flowing with blood and pale pink translucent liquids, snaked in and out of the ruined body to a collection of half-empty IV drip bags that dangled right above her head. She noted, that there was very little skin left on the flesh. Most of it was lying in strips on the floor.

She found Petyr half hiding behind the plastic curtains. With his head held low, he nervously bit his thumb nail as he gazed up at her in way a child would after getting caught. Sansa saw in his eyes that he knew he had done something truly horrible...and right now, as he faced her, he was dreading the consequences.

“Oh God.” She said in a quiet voice. “What have you done?"

“I am very sorry. You were not supposed to see any of this.”

“Who is this?” She asked, dreading the answer.

“Roose Bolton.” He muttered, gazing down at his blood splattered shoes. 

Sansa knew it was absolutely wrong, but upon hearing this, she couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of relief. Despite how horrific this looked, at least it made sense to her. Stop panicking. Calm down. She told herself. He has not hurt anyone who didn’t really deserve it.

“Or…what’s left of him.” Petyr added, looking at Sansa with a guilty look in his eyes.

“Is he…is he still alive?” She barely dared to think he was.

“I am afraid he is." Petyr said, wincing a little. "The drugs and the transfusions are keeping him alive. He has lasted longer than I have expected.”

“Why is he here in the restaurant?” Sansa caught sight of the thick cuts of meat that were lying on the butcher table. “Oh shit.” She muttered, feeling her stomach revolt. “All those people outside…You’ve been carving him into pieces to serve him up!"

“No no no!” Petyr rushed to say. “I didn’t serve anything from him to you or your family. Of course not! I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“But all that food we just ate -” Thinking of all those meatdishes, she immediate became pale. Petyr rushed over to steady her.

“That all came from a restaurant further down the road.” He tried to explain while he held onto her shoulders. “I swear, not a drop of his blood has passed your lips.”

“But what about the others?”

There was a long pause before Petyr dared to answer her. “These are men and women who have allianced themselves with the Boltons in order to enrich their pockets at the great expense of others. They are partly responsible for his political rise and criminal reign. If you knew what they have done, you would not feel sorry for them.” He said, trying to justify his actions. “Sansa…” He asked hesitantly as he tried to read her reaction. “Are you alright?”

“I am fine.” She licked over her dry lips and gazed away. The horror that she had just witnessed had not left her untouched.

What else? - She thought worriedly. What else is he capable of?

Sansa fully realized that Petyr had committed a horrendous crime, but what had she expected from him? This was the same man who had murdered her aunt Lysa in order to protect his secrets. The man who once poisoned his old tutor Jon Arryn and betrayed and helped murder her own family for his own gain…She really should be wiser and just turn around and flee.

But this was also the same man who had protected her from her aunt Lysa’s deadly rage, who had saved her from the Lannisters and who had redeemed himself by rescuing her many times from Ramsay Bolton, and had suffered through hell because of it. She knew what Petyr had been through. She cared for him and loved him. She could not do anything else, but forgive him.

“Sansa, please.” Petyr tried, looking now truly penitent and miserable. “I would rather have your anger than your silence.”

She found herself kissing him, surprising both herself and her seemingly contrite lover.

“What was that for exactly?” Petyr asked, lifting his eyebrows in confusion.

“For showing mercy to your enemies.” She knew that he was smart enough to get her hint. “I think he suffered enough, don’t you?”

“Yes.” Petyr replied after a short pause. “You’re right.” A knowing grin appeared on his face. “I will send lord Bolton on his way.”

Sansa leaned closer to Petyr and curled her fingers through his black locks. Her lips brushed over his ear.

“Don’t let the darkness of those who have wronged you consume you too my love.” She whispered to him. “I don’t want to ever lose you again.”

She kissed him then a second time. Her lips were warm and soft, her touch caring and forgiving.

“Thank you for the lemon cake. I loved that little mockingbird and the direwolf. It was really sweet.” She turned and made her way out of the cold room. When she took one last look over her shoulder, she tried very hard to see only him and ignore everything else.

“Please be careful. “ She pleaded. “Jon is just outside. I don’t want to see you arrested for this.”

She knew that he would never be a saint.

She knew that Petyr was damaged. She knew that at this moment, he was so obsessed with taking revenge that he could be quite possibly mad, but despite of everything, everything he had done, and everything he was still capable of, to have him in her life, to have his love, was all she wanted.

“Lovely isn’t she?” Petyr told Roose, as he watched her disappear out of the kitchen through the cold room porthole window with a dreamy look full of devotion in his eyes. “She is such a gentle kindhearted soul. She always has been, till fate and your sick fuck of an offspring twisted her into something else.” He turned around and grabbed a clean knife from the cutter block. “Still, even now she can’t bear to see others suffer, even when it comes to first class human scum like you.”

There was little movement coming from the flayed man, not even a change of expression on his face. Although it would have been nearly impossible for Roose to show any kind of emotions now, being left with a mouth without lips and eyes without eyelids.

“I must confess, I was planning to keep you going for at least a little while longer.” Petyr watched the blood red mouth muscles twitch to the first sight of the knife. “According to the calculations of my doctor friend Rajan, I still have a good few hours left until your heart gives up. But you heard her...I guess all good things must come to an end eventually.” Petyr said, and suddenly, his smirk turned into somthing quite deranged and demonic. With a short sharp thrust, he stabbed the knife into Roose Bolton’s heart. “Goodbye lord Bolton.” Petyr whispered as he twisted the blade to enhance his final agony. “Say hello to Myranda for me. Your bastard son will follow you soon. A happy family reunion in hell! At least that’s something for you to look forward to.”

The wretched lord gargled and retched, as if drowning in his own blood. Then his head sank down on his chest, and all was still again.

Petyr leaned back against the table, his bloodstained hands resting on the table top, the murder weapon still in his hands, as he gazed at his lifeless victim in silence.

He felt absolutely nothing.

It puzzled and worried him deeply.

“So it’s done?”

Petyr slowly blinked the blood from his eyes as he turned around. Clegane was standing in the doorway. If he was troubled by what he saw, he didn’t let it show.

“Yes. It appears so.”

“I go tell the boys. They should start tidying things up.”

Petyr only nodded, and placed the knife back on the cutterblock. There was not one knife left in the row of ten that wasn’t completely stained with blood.

I just crossed out another name on my list. Petyr thought. Sansa saw me torture a man but wasn't repulsed by what I have done...She even seemed to accept me for what I am...I should be ecstatic. So...why am I still not happy?

“Wait.” He told Clegane before he could leave for the kitchen. “Could you stay a little longer?” Petyr really wanted him too. All of a sudden, he truly dreaded to be left alone with his victim. He couldn’t really see them but it was as if Roose’s dead eyeballs were still staring at him accusingly.

You should have gauged them out while he was still alive. Littlefinger laughed. Now I am sure it’s going to give you nightmares for the rest of your life.

The very thought of it sickened Petyr to the core.

“What do you need me for?” Sandor asked.

“I-I n-need your help.”

“For what?”

To keep me sane. Petyr barely could subdue his urge to run out into the restaurant screaming and drop down on his knees to beg Sansa for help. Look at what I have done. Look at what I am capable of! Without her by my side, I will always go too far. I need her. I need you. I need the people I trust to keep me in check and to prevent me from turning into a bloody monster.

But instead, Petyr hid all of that from Clegane and forced himself to stick to his original plan.

There was no time for any doubt or self-loathing.

There was still a horrible lot of Roose Bolton left that needed to be cleaned up before someone noticed anything and go notify the police...

“Please.” He finally said, his voice was slightly shaking. “Hand me that cleaver over there, will you?”

 

6.

"You did this?"

Jon Arryn showed Petyr what was reported on the local and national news websites that he had found with the one labtop that Petyr had allowed him to use. Petyr hardly blinked his eyes when lord Arryn scrolled down the numerous news articles, and seemed not much alarmed by the sensationally gruesome headlines.

"You did this -"lord Arryn repeated after Petyr remained silent. "- with the confidential information I gave you about Roose Bolton's dealings with the Allard family? With the secret list of high profile politicians and associates that meddle in his criminal affaires?"

"You didn't expect me to do nothing with it, did you?" Petyr replied with a smug grin.

"This -" Lord Arryn continued to point out with a trembling finger on the screen. "This is absolutely horrific! Only a madman would conceive such a barbaric plan!"

"I guess you have to be there to fully appreciate the many subtleties of my actions..."

"Subtleties? For crying out loud, you shred him into pieces and fed him to his entourage! You shoved his decapitated head in the oven and baked him with an apple stuck in his mouth. You boiled up his bones into soup. Your actions are repulsive and completely shocking!"

“Yes, it has shocked and repulsed the entire nation, shaking everyone up from their ignorant slumber. They all now know what happened to Roose Bolton, the popular Labor candidate, who, as persistent rumors has it, was liquidated by one of his criminal associates turned enemy in the most gruesome, but publicly visible way. It also happens to really shine the spotlights on the men and women who had helped to get him as far in politics as any shady crimelord could possibly get in this country. It has opened the eyes of the public to their staggering level of corruption. Miserable and sick as those poor boys and girls may be after accidently consuming their former patron, they have never been quite so popular with the police.” Petyr grinned, fully convinced that what he had done was right. “I thought you would be pleased lord Arryn... A dead man cannot win elections. Neither can anyone from his party who once supported the now publicly reviled crimelord.”

“What happened to mister Allard and his family? What have you done to them?”

“They’re safe. I took care of that. The police won’t be able to link this back to mister Allard.” Why would you even think that I would ever harm them? “So you see.” Petyr smirked, trying hard not to give in to the tempration to taunt and sneer at his former tutor any further. “Finally, a true happy ending for all who deserve it.

“Are you truly so delusional that you really believe in your own lies?" Lord Arryn replied astonished, fully convinced now that he was indeed dealing with a madman. "What about justice?”

“What about it?”

“You had no right to harm anyone like this, not even your worst enemies. Roose Bolton should have been arrested and trialed for his crimes.”

“He was brought to justice by me.”

Lord Arryn slammed his fist on the table.“This lawless chaos that you have created is NOT justice! We do not live in a society in which you get to play avenging angel to anyone in anyway you see fit! You have committed first degree murder in the must abominable way. You should be locked up for this!”

“Are you going to contact one of your associates to arrest me?” Petyr's blue green eyes suddenly flashed with cold hostility. “Before you answer, I urge you my lord, to really reconsider in what kind of circumstances you find yourself in right now.” He added, as two of his armed men came forwards towards Jon Arryn.

Be careful now old man. You have no idea what I am capable of...I could set your world on fire, and call it rain.

“Are you threatening me?”

“Do you leave me any other choice?”

“You saved my life.” Lord Arryn grudgingly admitted. “I know that in your eyes, it is wrong that I should repay you in such a way...I take you’re going to confiscate my phone and laptop?”

Petyr gestured at his men to do exactly that. “It wouldn’t be wise to let you keep it now, would it?” He sneered.

“Petyr!” Lord Arryn called after him when he was about to abandon him again in his underground prison. “You claimed that you were only keeping me here for my own protection. Roose Bolton is dead. When are you going to let me go?”

“The old dog is finished indeed, but we still have his mad pup to deal with. After Ramsay is safely removed, you are free to go. I promise you that.”

“Ah yes.” Lord Arryn said pensively. “Then you must know, if you are really going to keep your word, which I doubt, I shall have to keep to mine. I will have you arrested.”

“Do what you must old man.” Petyr said, without turning around to look him in the eyes. 

 Just don't expect me to be waiting for you to pass your sentence on me.

He’s wrong. Petyr thought, his anger still smoldering as he rushed out of the dark underground corridor and up the staircase to emerge back into daylight. He’s wrong about everthing. How DARE he judge me like that?!

He was sick of his old tutor's moral reasoning, sick of his disgusting hypocrisy. Surely he had done more good than wrong with his actions? Didn't he save his ungrateful mentor's life? Didn't he help mister Allard and his family? Didn't he rid the world of a murderous criminal with dangerous political ambitions?

Didn't any of his good deeds count for anything?

I am not a madman. I am not violent or malicious. I am the result of what they have made me into. The Edmure Tullys, and Brandon Starks and Ramsay Boltons in this world, those are the men who are really to blame. And how very easy it is for my old lord to condemn me and call me a monster after I so very conveniently removed one of his deadliest enemies for him!

I guess it takes a monster to get rid of one….

Petyr was about to step in the back of his chauffeured car that was waiting for him when his phone went off. He was very relieved to see that the call came from Sansa.

“I am so happy to hear your voice.” He admitted with a tired sigh while he sank back into the leather seat.

“Petyr did you hear what happened?” Sansa told him, sounding very excited. “The police are arresting the most prominent figureheads who have supported Roose Bolton’s political campaign. They have been charged with all sorts of things, ranging from white-washing humongous sums for Roose Bolton’s drug deals to turning a blind eye to human trafficking, forced prostitution and murder. It’s all over the news and trending right now on social media. Everybody is talking about it.”

Of course it didn't surprise Petyr. After the tyrant was gone, the whole house of cards was bound to fall apart. "It's the beginning of the end. No one in his right mind will be willing to risk his own hide to protect these crooks anymore after what happened to their patron.”

“Jon's department is investigating the case. He said it was placed on high priority, but they still don’t have a clue who could possibly have done this.”

“And they never will. Pleasantly clueless, that's how I like to keep these hard-working men of the law.” Petyr commented with a smug grin.

“You told me to publish those articles exactly today.” Sansa said, thinking things through and finally noticing the pattern in this seemingly chaotic chain of events. “This public shaming of Roose Bolton's associates, the wild rumors that followed his gruesome demise…You have planned this all, didn’t you? You didn’t only want to get rid of Roose Bolton, you wanted to destroy his reputation as well.”

“Sometimes it not enough to only kill a man to get rid of the evil he represents." He further explained to her, smiling and delighted that she got it so fast. "Roose Bolton’s legacy of corruption and greed that has tarnished the Labor party ever since he became a prominent member will now fade away into nothing. With the protection of his father’s contacts gone, and their family business soon under investigation by the federal government, Ramsay shall very quickly regress from a rabid guard dog into a toothless pup.”

“You’re a genius!” Her words were brimming with pride and adoration for him. “You bloody are, and I absolutely love you to bits for it!”

She had no idea how happy it made him to receive such rare praise from her.

“I told you." He replied, his heart swelling and trembling with joy, restoring his much needed confidence. "With your help my love, Ramsay stands no chance.”

He heard her laugh over the phone, it sounded light and cheerful, and even after all this time, it was still completely addictive to him, but then the happy moment was suddenly interrupted by someone screaming her lungs out at the other end of the line.

“Sansa!” Petyr heard Cat yell out at her daughter most anxiously. “Have you read what happened in that restaurant we visited yesterday?! Someone murdered Roose Bolton, that man from the Labor party. They cut him into pieces in the kitchen and cooked his head in the oven!” Cat sounded like she was about to run out of breath and faint. “Oh what kind of madman would do such a horrific thing!! And to think we just sat there, just a room away from that bloodbath!”

“I think I better go check on her.” Sansa apologized. “I will call you a bit later, okay?”

Petyr felt his heart beat furiously inside his chest after she hung up. You see old man. He said to his old tutor. You’re completely wrong about me. Sansa proves you wrong. She could never love a monster, but she loves me. She sees the good in me. So I don’t care anymore. I don’t care what you and the rest of the world think of me. As long as she loves me, I know that I am not the monster you believe me to be.

As long as she still loved him and believed in him, he knew that there was still hope.

 

Note: Thank you so much for keeping track with this fic and for your patience. I love to hear from you guys, so please leave a comment if you have the time. Next post is hopefully coming next Friday, but otherwise, keep in contact by following my Tumblr account for any updates. With this post, the Roose chapter has finally come to an end. Next time, I will be starting on a new chapter called Sansa...Well, all good things must eventually come to an end...

 

 

Chapter Text

Recommended Music:

Love come

For part 2 (pool scene)

 

1.

Playing God with that facade,

Won't get you your Camelot

- Sweet revenge, Milck

 

Once upon a time in Westeros, in a dilapidated farmhouse that stood on the dead and frozen earth that once was a fertile field in the Riverlands, a frightened little boy kneeled in front of a burning green candle. Despite the damp, he had managed to light the flame after several failed attempts with the last of the dry straw that he could find. Shivering, with the frost creeping from the flat stones through his thin rags up his to his knees, he looked up despairingly at the little figurine that was displayed on the family altar. It represented a man dressed in a long dark robe and cloak, his face hidden underneath a hood. As he shut his eyes to say the incantation that he had learned now by heart, he hoped fiercely that all of his efforts would pay off and that the spell would really work.

It was not common practice to pray to the stranger.

More uncommon still, was it to pray to his darker half.

“To the Stranger’s shadow.” He started, shutting his eyes in the hope that it would help. His breath was barely a frosted cloud of whispers, immediately lost in the freezing air. “I call upon thee, the demon who is the night and the moon to the day and the sun of the Stranger. I summon thee from the lands beyond the living. I summon thee to hear my prayer.”

“Where the hell am I?” An annoyed growl of a voice exclaimed.

His eyes flashed open, and for a moment, the boy was too dumb-folded to speak. A stranger had suddenly materialized in front of him. He didn’t look much like the small sculpture on the altar. His way of dressing himself in this freezing cold weather was peculiar to say the least. It must be very hot in the seven hells.

When the boy did try to speak again, his breath could form but one word.

“De-demon?”

“Excuse me?” Petyr replied, and gave him a funny look. Hugging himself to keep warm, and with his teeth chattering, he half turned to take in the strange surroundings. He was in a small building held up by a sooth blackened wooden frame. The stone walls around him were frozen, covered with a sheen of frost. Heavy wooden shutters in front of small windows kept out any daylight, if there was any, for it seemed that an icy storm was raging outside, blowing fresh snow through the cracks.

“A-are you the demon that I have summoned?” The boy tried again, his voice still shaky with fear.

“Where am I? And who the heck are you?”

“My name is Stuar, Stuar Colliner. You’re in the house of my father Barden Colliner.”

Colliner, it sounded like a common name a lot of small folk living near the Trident used to have. “Is this…Westeros?” Petyr muttered, getting a suspicion that he was dreaming - or was suffering from a delusion - or was having a nightmare -or maybe he was having all three of them at once.

“You are in the Riverlands. On my father’s farm…or whatever is left of it.”

So he really was back in Westeros - and he was standing in some peasant hovel dressed in nothing but a rag-thin T-shirt and shorts, literally freezing to death. I must be mad to dress myself like this in the dead of winter. “Do you have anything –“ He muttered, unable to finish his sentence when an icy draught entering through the cracks of a nearby window hit him full in the back and made him gasp. He would given happily away a bag of gold dragons to this farm boy, just to get his warm cloak and tunic back…but then he didn’t remember deliberately journeying to a shack in the middle of nowhere. What he did remember, was going to bed and falling asleep with Sansa sleeping peacefully by his side.

“I am sorry that you’re cold. I can’t light up the hearth.” The boy said, interrupting his thoughts. He pulled a horse blanket from a hook and gave it to him. “I have no more fuel left. This is the warmest thing I have.”

“B-better than nothing.” Petyr took it and wrapped it tightly around his shoulders. His teeth were still chattering. “Why am I here?” He was more asking this to himself than that he was adressing the boy, but the kid was keen to reply.

“I summoned you. I want you to bring my mother back.”

“Your mother?”

The boy nodded solemnly. “She was taken a few days ago. It was all my fault. She was trying to protect me. We were running in the snow, but I slipped and I fell. She tried to get me up, but I kept falling back. When I finally got up, they grabbed her. They took her away. My father was killed in the war. My little sister died weeks ago, because we had no more food left. My mother was too thin and weak to feed her.” Petyr saw that he was coming close to tears. “Please ser, I am all alone. I don’t know what to do. Please, you have to help me!”

The boy’s father died in the war. In Petyr’s mind, there was no doubt that that would be the war of the five kings, the bloody conflict hat he had knowingly started, which had ravaged the lands like wildfire, leaving a trail of widows and orphans in its wake. Is that what this is all about? Another reminder of the Gods to never let me forget what I am responsible for?

“You were praying to the Stranger.” He muttered as he caught sight of the figurine on the altar. “You believe that I am him, that’s why you think I can bring her back.” Now that he had established that this was very likely a dream, He decided to just play along and see where it would go. “Listen to me boy. The Stranger is not going to help. The Gods are cruel. Spending time on your knees in prayer won’t bring back your loved ones.” It certainly did not bring my back my own mother.

He genuinely felt sorry for the young orphan. He could recognize his own past in his fate, but it was better for him to stop believing in that fairy tale nonsense sooner then later. His situation was dire. He was close to starvation. He should refocus his efforts, and start thinking how to survive on his own.

“Of course not” The boy replied, completely convinced that he was right. “The Stranger only takes lives. He never brings them back. Only a child would think that.”

Petyr quirked the corners of his mouth in slight irritation. “If that’s what you believe, why did you ask for my help?”

“Because you’re not the stranger. You’re his shadow. Your task is the complete opposite. People say that can you bring back the dead.”

“You summoned me with this?” Petyr picked up what remained of the candle from the table.

“Yes, a green candle dipped in sacrificial blood, lit the day after the night with a blood moon. That’s what the witch in the old forest told me to do.”

“Where did you get the blood?”

“There is a war going on. There is plenty if you know where to look.” There was a haunted look on the boy’s face that told Petyr that he had seen things a child his age were not supposed to see. “You can bring her back, don’t you?”

“I am sorry, but you are mistaken. I am not the shadow of the Stranger, I am just an ordinary man.”

“You’re lying. You just appeared out of nowhere. You must be the demon! I summoned you! So you have to grant my wish and bring her back!”

“I want to help you, truly, but I wouldn’t know how.” Petyr tried to explain to the grief-struck child.

“Just say the words.” The boy insisted. “Just say that you want to bring back Emely Colinner. Let her come home.”

“It wouldn’t work.” Petyr insisted.

“Please just try. I miss her…please.”

The look the boy gave him cut into his heart. “Her name was…Emely?”

The boy nodded, his face still shining with tears. “Emely.” He whispered.

Petyr let out a deep sigh. Why am I doing this? This farce is not going to help anyone. The whole thing was ridiculous really. He didn’t have the faintest idea how to raise someone from the dead with spells. He didn’t even believe in all that gooble-de-gook blood magic till Milesandra used exactly that to bring him back.

But Petyr couldn’t recall most of what the red priestess had chanted during the ritual, even if his life was depending on it.

The boy was still staring at him, eyes wide in expectation, and so full of hope.

For God’s sake. It’s just a kid. Just make something up Bealish.

“To the earth that has swollen the flesh and bones of Emely Colliner, hear me.” He started tentatively. Then with a little more confident: “Obey me. Let my words be heard. Let her soul return to her. Let flesh be restored to her bones. Let her heart guide her back to her grieving child. Let her limbs carry her home. Let her mind be filled again with the memory of her boy. Let death no longer divide what my will can join together.”

This strange incantation came so easily and suddenly to him that it surprised Petyr, it shocked him even more when it seemed to immediately summon a loud rattling of the locks at the door.

“It worked. That’s my mum!” Delirious with joy, the boy rushed away to let her in. “She has come home!”

“How you can be so sure?” Petyr called after him.

“It has to be her. You summoned her, didn’t you? Who else can it be?”

Convinced, he removed the metal rod that barred the door. It flew open till the chains held it back, and a cold wind, so severe that it cut deep into Petyr’s bones, blew a swirl of ice particles through the widening gap.

“Wait!” Petyr warned, sensing danger. “What war did you say she died in?”

“I told you.” The boy slipped the key in the padlock. “She was taken by the Whitewalkers.”

“No no!” Petyr shouted. “Don’t open it!”

Too late. The chain slipped off and a hand, frozen in its decay with bones white and thin, reached out and clawed around the boy’s neck.

 

2.

He screamed himself awake, crying out in terror like a frightened animal trapped in the wood by hunters.

“Calm down Petyr, Petyr!” Sansa pushed him back into the cushions and held his head still. “Look at me! Please look at me.” Her hair cascaded over her left shoulder, tickling his skin. Her fingers stroked over his damp cheeks. “Look at me Petyr. It’s not there. Not there.”

Petyr did not reply. Only stared back at her with fearful white-rimmed eyes.

She took his hands in hers.

“You’re shivering. Your hands feel like lumps of ice. Let’s go outside.” She decided, helping him up. “You have to get out of this crazy air-conditioning.”

She opened the balcony doors, flooding the room with the warmth of a stifling hot tropical night. They went outside into the veranda, where she helped him sit down on one of the lounge sofas facing their private pool.

Their suite was on the top floor of a hotel in the Harbor front area of Singapore. The veranda overlooked the skyline of this exotic metropolis, which, like so many south Asian cities nowadays, never seemed to rest. Even at this crazy hour, the sky was awash with pink and blue hues coming from the city center. The giant landmark Farris wheel glowed like an extraterrestrial spaceship in the dark, and the tall sky-scrapers in the back were giving their own colorful performance of flashing led displays, not caring if there was still anyone awake to watch it or not. Sansa had been in this bustling city for over 3 days now. She found it fascinating and beautiful. It struck her that Petyr had only been in her world for no more than five years, and yet it was him who had introduced her to this strange and wonderful place.

He had done and experienced so much in these past five years, had fought so hard to get where he is now, but I wasn’t there to help him.

“What happened?” She asked. She was here now. She will be here for him now.

“The Riverlands.” Sansa noticed that there was a still slight tremor in his voice. “I was back in the Riverlands.”

She waited for more explanation, when it did not come, she took his hand again and gave it a light squeeze. “Whatever it was you saw. It was just a nightmare. You’re not there anymore Petyr. You are here with me.”

She sat down next to him. As soon as she draped her arms around his shoulders, Petyr coiled up on the couch and put his head in her lap. They sat together like this for a while. A gentle wind swept into the harbor from the surrounding seas, bringing fresh air that cooled the sweat on their bodies. Sansa ran her hand through his curls, softly stroking him, while Petyr kept staring at the city skyline in the distance. His mind was slowly putting itself back in order. She didn’t need to say anything. There was a comfortable silence between them that came with complete trust.

As she cradled him in her arms, she noticed that his heart-beat began to settle down again.

“I really don’t mind cuddling.” She finally said, kissing him on his nose. “But it’s getting rather sticky now. Maybe we could take a dip together?”

“You go first.” Petyr looked up at her, and gave her a gentle smile.

He watched her get up slowly. With a lingering look over her shoulder she took off her nightgown and underwear till she was standing there fully naked, the curves of her back a vision of loveliness against the backdrop of the man-made lights of the city. Then she stretched her arms out to the sky and went in with a graceful dive, head first.

Petyr sat down beside the pool. He smiled when she came up again and playfully spewed out a mouthful of water at him, before she turned with a seductive smile, and started to swim across the infinity pool to rest at the side that overlooked the harbor.

When he was sure she wasn’t looking, he glanced fleetingly at the mark that Milesandra had branded into his palm. With his thumb, he rubbed over the scar like lines.

He noticed, that a quarter of the circle had turned red.

It was just a dream. Nothing more. He tried to tell himself. You are here. You’re here with her. Ground yourself in this moment, and live. Count yourself among the lucky ones.

He lifted his gaze from his condemning mark and focused on her. Her naked body glided through the water, just underneath the rippling surface. Her skin reflected the paleness of the moon light. Her hair fanned out and waved underwater like a copper cloud in the shimmering blue. He watched her swim two laps before she returned to his side, her long hair stuck to her back and shoulders, as she leaned on the tiles and gazed at him with a glowing smile.

He couldn’t take her eyes off her, and like with so many precious moments they had before, he stored it in his mind. Sanda in the pool, pearls of water on her skin, her hair slick and wet. Her silhouette against the night’s sky, the harbor and the city skyline with a thousand lights and a thousand colors. This perfect picture of her would never be forgotten.

“I thought you were going to join me?” Sansa opted.

Petyr grinned. “How is it? Not too cold?”

“It’s heaven.”

He scoped his hand through the water to test the temperature. “It’s lovely indeed. Still I think there is something lacking.”

“What’s lacking?”

She watched him go back inside. When he returned, soft music was playing from the hotel room. Sansa listened, and recognized the melody immediately. As the orchestra slowly swelled, a woman started singing. Her voice was gritty and beautiful, full of longing and heartache.

“Heavenly music.” Petyr told her, before he slipped into the pool to join her.

 

Le ciel bleu sur nous peut s’effondrer

Et la terre peut bien s’écrouler,

Peu m’importe si tu m’aimes,

 

Je me fous du monde entier.

 

“I can’t believe you took that with you, just to listen to this one song.” She heard the familiar crackle of the old record on the antique record player that Petyr had brought along all the way from home to Singapore. “You could have kept a copy on your phone.”

“There is something about these old records. It works so much better with her voice.” He was still wearing his T-shirt and shorts. Sansa helped him to get rid of the shorts, but let him keep his wet shirt. She knew he preferred it that way. It might be their private pool, but it was still outside in the open. He still really didn’t feel comfortable showing his scars in public.

It was a beautiful night. The sky was clear, without a single cloud, and the stars were out, scattering their reflections over the tiny waves. Holding Sansa in his arms, they were two castaways, adrift in a diamond sea.

“I should get you a new cord for this.” Sansa took the silver mockingbird charm that Petyr wore around his neck in her hand. She knew he never it took off, not even when he was sleeping. It was her gift to him when he was still lost in purgatory, unable to remember his old self.

It originally was a pin, but Ramsay had cruelly turned it some kind of dog tag to humiliate him when he was at his mercy in the asylum. Sansa had often opted to have it restored, but on any of those occasions, Petyr had stubbornly rejected the idea.

It was as if he wanted to keep his charm tarnished in this way, to purposefully remind himself of all the pain that Ramsay had caused.

The cord that held the charm was just a crude piece of string, whatever Ramsay could get his hands on at the time. It was almost dyed completely black with the dried up stains of blood and grime.

I don’t want it to be replaced.” He returned a small smile that did not reach his eyes, and gently eased her fingers, urging her to let the little silver bird go. “At least, not yet.”

Sansa knew that she would not be able to change his mind. Going on any further about this would only bring back too many bad memories. He was still shutting her out. Like with everything else that he let her experience with him, he only wanted her to see the beautiful and the light, not the ugly and the dark. She wished that he could trust her more than this.

“I love that song.” She said instead, and wrapped her arms around Petyr and pulled him closer and deeper down into the water with her. “I still can’t understand a word she sings though.” She said as she guided him to swim away from the shore. “Will you ever tell me what it’s called so I can look it up for myself?”

“No cheating.” Petyr gave her small peck on the lips. “You are supposed to learn French.”

“I am, but it’s taking ages. It’s not that easy.”

I have both patience and faith in you, mademoiselle. I want you to learn the language before we go live there.”

“Ah yes, our little hideout in France.” She smiled. Her hand slipped down and caressed his chest under water. He only wants to share his dreams with me, not the nightmares. Still she gratefully took whatever little of himself he dared to give. “Tell me more about that.”

“I must have told you a hundred times by now.”

“I don’t mind to hear it again. Go on monsieur Bealish, tell me