In ancient days, before the coming of the Power, arranged marriages were always between a man and a woman (or, with Targaryens, a man and several women) and were for the purposes of consolidating power through children.
After women gained the Power, many things changed. Wars were fought differently when any woman could kill with a touch. Queens and queen-claimants were plentiful, and kings were exceedingly rare. And marriages were arranged primarily between women, in the hope that the bonds of love and desire would overcome the lust for power, and lead to a lasting peace…
—A History of Westeros, by Maestress Hylda Spark
Once the war was over, and the ashes were plowed back into the soil and the long work of rebuilding was underway, a wedding between Sansa Stark, Queen in the North, and Daenerys Targaryen, Queen of the Six Kingdoms, became an inevitability. They had fought against a common enemy, and then they had fought each other to a stalemate. If they were to battle once again, it would destroy the entire realm. And both Sansa and Daenerys, once they had fought past their own anger and bitterness, had agreed that more important things were at stake than pride.
Most of the meetings between them were held at Winterfell, in exchange for the wedding itself to take place at Queen’s Landing. It was only fair, for it was so much easier and faster for Daenerys to fly to Sansa’s home than for Sansa to ride to hers. They tended toward the chilly, regardless of actual weather. The dragons snorted and huddled in the snows of the north, and Lady whined and panted in the hot air of the south. Their mistresses, ignoring their own discomfort to soothe their beasts, had sometimes caught each other’s gaze and smiled.
Sansa wasn’t sure when the frost between them had begun to thaw. Perhaps it was one of those moments. Or perhaps it was when she caught herself studying Daenerys’s bare hands not with an eye to their use as weapons, but as a queen admires a particularly fine piece of sculpture. Or when she caught herself imagining them not as art to be admired, but as part of a warm living woman, stroking her skin with the intent to cause pleasure rather than to harm.
Essential messages had always flown back and forth between them, carried on the black wings of ravens, but they began to acquire more personal postscripts.
Daenerys wrote to inform Sansa that she had given land to Dothraki who had tired of city life, with strict instructions not to venture too far north. She added,My best wishes for Lady’s litter. Do let me know how many cubs she births.
Appended to a message about a Wildling’s report of an aggressive nest of ice-spiders beyond the remains of the Wall, Sansa wrote, Along with this alarming news, the messenger also brought several bottles of a wine made from coldberries, which grow under snow. If you care to deal with the ice-spiders personally, do stop by Winterfell afterward and you may taste it yourself. As for Lady’s cubs, you will see them yourself if you visit.
Daenerys did indeed burn out the nest herself. Afterward, she and Drogon landed outside Winterfell. Upon her arrival inside the gates, she was greeted by Sansa, a rather put-upon Lady, and five rowdy wolf cubs.
The Queen of the Six Kingdoms knelt down in the mud and snow to play with the cubs. Sansa couldn’t help warming to anyone who would let the cubs rip her leathers and nip her fingers.
“What are their names?” Daenerys asked.
“They will be named by the people they will bond with. I cannot say who they will be, except for this fierce one here.” She indicated the sandy-colored bitch growling at her larger red-brown brother. “This is Salt. Yara Greyjoy visited to make a trade agreement, and she and the cub could not be parted. Yara will come and take Salt once she’s weaned. I hope she enjoys the sea air.”
Daenerys smiled. “And which of Lady’s brothers sired them?”
“None. A great gray dire wolf came out of the woods and howled to her, and she went to him. Afterward, he returned to the woods. He hasn’t been seen since, but we’ve found deer devoured down to the bones and even the femurs cracked for marrow. The dire wolves have returned to the north, I believe. It is forbidden to hunt them.”
“Of course. They are the sigil of your house.” Dany glanced toward the gate, where Drogon’s great form was visible. “I had hopes for mine… but no eggs yet.”
“Perhaps someday,” Sansa said, though she wasn’t certain she truly wanted more dragons in the world.
But she sent a cow for Drogon’s repast, and invited Daenerys to her own table. The two queens dined together on venison braised with beer, ash-roasted potatoes, and honey-cake, and drank the bottle of coldberry wine.
Daenerys swirled the brilliant red wine in her goblet. Her eyes widened after she took a sip. “It’s stronger than it looks.”
“Like many things in the North,” replied Sansa.
Daenerys merely nodded, but Sansa felt unexpectedly abashed. They would be married soon; was it not time to cease trading darts at the dinner table?
“I hope you like it,” Sansa said. “You need not drink it if you don’t.”
“I like it very much.” Daenerys took a larger sip, looking at Sansa over the rim of her goblet with unmistakable meaning.
Sansa had too much control over herself to flush, but she felt a warmth rising in her. “You need not wait on ice-spiders and formal councils to visit me, you know. You may come at any time.”
“You too are welcome at Queen’s Landing,” replied Daenerys. Then her pale eyelids flickered, and she said, a little awkwardly, “You are welcome to visit me.”
“It’s more difficult for me,” Sansa replied. “I don’t have dragons.”
Daenerys smiled. “But I do.”
Sansa hesitated. It was one thing to be alone with Daenerys or to visit Queen’s Landing; while she was vulnerable to the other queen’s deadly hands, Daenerys was equally vulnerable to hers. And while their mutual unwillingness to start another war, far more than the possibility of their own death, was what assured their safety, Sansa felt a qualm at the idea of getting on the back of the beast that had burned Queen’s Landing, accompanied only by the woman who had ordered that massacre, and taking to the air.
Daenerys brushed her hands together and stood. In her huge dark eyes, Sansa saw some offended pride and some hurt, but mostly resignation and understanding. “Thank you for your hospitality. I must go now.”
Sansa bid her farewell, then lay awake in her huge bed piled with furs, thinking of Daenerys, their marriage to be, and their wedding night. They would be living separately, even should they chance to fall madly in love. The marriage must be consummated, but there was no need for them to do so on a regular basis.
Sansa’s hand stole between her thighs as she thought of the consummation. But when she touched herself, her fingers were cool, and she withdrew them. Daenerys’s fingers were fever-hot; they had clasped hands to mark their promise. Sansa’s touch would only remind herself of who was not in bed with her.
She tossed and turned, then finally rose and wrote a message.
To Daenerys, Queen of the Six Kingdoms, my promised bride.
I accept your offer of a dragon flight. I will not ride to Queen’s Landing. You must come to Winterfell, and fly me to our wedding.
Sansa Stark, Queen in the North, your promised bride.
She sent a raven before she could regret it.
The day of the wedding dawned crisp and clear. Sansa was dressed in her wedding garb, but was bareheaded; her crown, like Daenerys’s, had been given up to the smiths and jewelers. She forced herself not to pace. Lady, who could not have come to the wedding anyway due to her cubs, licked her hand.
She stood looking up at the sky until a dark speck appeared. It grew larger and larger until Sansa could see the great black dragon and its pale-haired rider. Drogon landed, and Daenerys—also in her finery, also bare-headed—extended her hand.
Sansa’s heart pounded, but whether with fear or excitement, she knew not. She climbed the natural steps of the dragon’s body, scaly foot and bent leg and wing-joint, and settled down behind its rider. Drogon was as rough and cool to the touch as Daenerys was smooth and hot.
“Hold tight,” said Daenerys.
“To that?” Sansa said doubtfully, looking at the nearest spine.
Sansa clasped Daenerys around the waist. For the first time, she realized that Daenerys too was taking a risk. With her palms pressed against the other woman’s belly, all Sansa had to do to kill her was will her lightning to strike. She felt a shiver run through Daenerys, and knew the other queen was thinking the same thing.
“I’m ready,” Sansa said.
Daenerys gave a click of her tongue, and Drogon sprang aloft. Sansa gasped and tightened her grip as the world fell away below her, and she felt pressed down into the dragon she rode. Then Drogon’s flight leveled off, and Sansa looked down with wonder as well as fear at the world below. Everything she saw seemed so small. People were like ants. She understood, suddenly, how much easier it might be to kill from dragonback, at such a distance, than up close with the Power, where you had to see your enemy’s face as they died.
But it was beautiful, too. Sansa felt free and light and unafraid. It was like when she slipped herself into Lady’s body to run and hunt in the woods. The air was cold but Daenerys’s body was hot, warming her as she eagerly turned from the ground below to the infinite sky above.
When Drogon swooped down toward Queen’s Landing, Sansa gave an involuntary sigh. “Oh, it’s over too soon.”
Daenerys lifted a hand to clasp Sansa’s, but her touch felt companionable rather than threatening. “Now you understand.”
Sansa nodded. As Drogon landed and Daenerys helped her down, she wished they didn’t have to go through a long formal ceremony in front of a huge crowd. Something had changed between the two queens, whether in the air with Drogon or in the snow with Lady or written on paper and sent on the wings of ravens, and Sansa wished she could be alone with Daenerys to explore it together.
Daenerys glanced at her, and Sansa knew without speaking that her bride-to-be felt the same way. They clasped hands to lend each other strength for the ceremony, and the crowd murmured to see them touch palm-to-palm: “So brave!” they exclaimed, and “This will be a true marriage.”
The ceremony felt at once agonizingly long and over in a flash. Afterward, Sansa recalled little but the silken fineness of Daenerys’s hair when Sansa laid on her head the crown that had been forged from their original crowns melted together, and Daenerys’s fingers brushing Sansa’s temples as she did the same, hot as flames.
And then it was over, and Daenerys was leading her into a room decorated specially for the wedding night, with Stark and Targaryen colors both, and a bed heaped with furs and silk.
“Daenerys…” Sansa whispered.
“Dany,” Sansa repeated.
When they kissed, they both gave a start. The pleasure of that one small touch jolted Sansa to her core, so much so that she thought for a single mad moment that Dany could strike with lightning through her lips. Then they leaned in again, and the ecstasy was just as strong but less shocking.
Sansa’s hands trembled as she began to strip her bride. She exposed Dany’s breasts, with their pink nipples, and the slim curves of her hips. Her woman’s parts, with their wet pink folds. Their scent, hot and tangy and irresistible, gave Sansa an impulse she couldn’t control. She bent her head and tasted Dany. She was tart and sweet as the oranges of the Vale, her folds even hotter than her hands, and she gasped at Sansa’s kiss.
“Your hair,” Sansa whispered.
Dany’s hands too were shaking, but she reached up and unpinned her hair. It fell over them both like a curtain of silk, cloaking them as Sansa licked Dany until she cried out in ecstasy.
Together they stumbled to the bed. Dany was rough with Sansa’s clothes, tearing her undergarments to uncover her more quickly, but Sansa gloried in it. And when both women lay naked together, Sansa saw sparks dance in the depths of Dany’s eyes.
“The Power is not only for death and pain,” Dany whispered. “Did you know that, Sansa? It can be used for pleasure too.”
Sansa swallowed and nodded. “Yes, I know. But I have never experienced it.”
Dany clasped her hands together, a gesture of peace. “I will do nothing without your consent. I will not even ask you to allow me. But Sansa, if you wish to ask me…”
Sansa gazed into her wife’s eyes, and watched the sparks became crackling lightning, and the promise of pleasure beyond all human comprehension. She could not lie to herself that Dany was not dangerous. Sansa knew all too well what terrors she could unleash. But Sansa too had fought and killed. And here they were now, together with naked palms.
Gathering her courage, she said, “Yes. Call up your lightning, and return to me the joy I gave to you.”
Sansa lay back, quivering with more feelings than she could put a name to. But Dany did not immediately summon the Power. She kissed Sansa first, long and hard and hot, and Sansa fancied she tasted a tingle of lightning in her lips. Her tongue was even hotter than her folds.
And then Dany sat up and held up her hands. Lightning wreathed them in white fire, making her hair and Sansa’s crackle and lift. The scent of it filled the room. And then the lightning shrank, subsided, became no more than a faint shimmer, like a heat haze, around Dany’s palms.
Only then did she bend to Sansa, and touch her with her Power. Sansa, wild with anticipation and desire, poised on the edge of fear, started and cried out. But not with pain. Dany’s fingers were vibrating like the string of a lute, and the sensation they brought struck a bolt of ecstasy through Sansa’s core. Dany’s Power crackled through her body, joining with Sansa’s own, until her entire being was aflame. It was like riding on a dragon. It was like running as a wolf. It was like nothing Sansa had ever felt before, and something she knew she would feel many times again.
When she finally came back to herself, she could hardly believe that she was still a woman of flesh and blood, rather than the Power itself.
“All that Power in me,” she said wonderingly. “In you. I knew, but I never felt it like that. Dany, can you teach me?”
“Of course,” Dany replied. “I can hardly wait to experience what you can do to me with it!”
“I am so glad that custom brought us together,” said Sansa. “I only wish you did not rule quite so far away.”
Dany laughed and kissed her. “You forget. Now we both have wings.”