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Longing for home

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Sansa 


Alayne was getting ready for the start of the tourney of the Brotherhood of Winged Knights when Father arrived to give her news from the North. He told her of the Northern lords following Stannis Baratheon into battle against the Boltons to rescue Arya Stark from a forced marriage to the son of Roose Bolton. Arya. She’s alive! Sansa was so happy to know that she was no longer alone.

“Is Lady Arya alright?” Alayne asked.

Petyr closed the door and sauntered to the window before looking  at her with a conspiratorial smile, “Oh the girl was never your sister. Your sister was never found my dear, the poor girl is probably dead. The Boltons were given your old friend Jeyne Poole. Remember her? She was of a similar enough look to your sister to fool the Northern lords and would give legitimacy to the Boltons until we could return you to your rightful seat my sweet,” he swaggered.

“It’s time to do away with Alayne Stone so Sansa Stark can take her place as Queen in the North.”

“Queen in the North?” Sansa inquired incredulously.

Petyr began walking toward her,  “In your absence the Northern Lords proclaimed your bastard half-brother King in the North. It’s time we corrected this don’t you think?” he requisitioned, straightening Sansa’s necklace in the process.   Jon! 

“Here, wear this,” he dictated, picking out a dress, “It befits your station and wash the dye out of your hair, it’s time to show the lords and ladies of the Vale your Tully look.”

With that he walked out leaving Sansa to her thoughts. Jon! I still have family! Robb, Bran, Rickon and Arya may be gone but Jon is the last of my family. When I’m safe and within the walls of Winterfell as Queen, I will not let Littlefinger harm him , Sansa decided thinking on her mother’s words: Family, Duty, Honour. 

 

“My lords, my ladies, before we start the tourney, please, allow me to say a few words. Most of you have met my natural daughter Alayne Stone. I believe the time has come for me to come clean on a few matters.”

Standing outside the hall Sansa could hear the murmurs of the lords and ladies of the Vale.

“As you know, I was raised by Lord Hoster Tully with my late lady-wife Lysa Tully Arryn and her sister Lady Catelyn Stark. I considered them both my family and was raised to believe in the Tully words: Family, Duty, Honour.” 

“I was as distraught as any of you to hear of the misfortunes that befell House Stark and while many of us were unable to help in more military means, my late lady-wife and I saw an opportunity to assist our niece, Lady Sansa Stark.”

Still outside Sansa could hear how the earlier low level muttering grew into a buzz.

“As you know, the Lannisters forced her to marry the Imp after killing Lord Eddard Stark and holding her hostage. My lady-wife and I could not stand by and watch as our niece was tortured at the hand of the Lannisters so we decided to take action to save her from their clutches. Unfortunately, on the day we planned on rescuing her the Imp killed his nephew and we had to hide Lady Sansa away for her safety, against false claims of kingslaying. Lady Sansa, would you please join me?”

Sansa walked in then, wearing a grey and white dress, the Stark colours,  with the glossy auburn hair she spent the afternoon brushing until it shone revealing the look she shared with her Tully kin. 

Myranda Royce gasped but Sansa could see it was a feigned surprise while Nestor Royce looked at her unperturbed by the revelation. They must have known this entire time. Lord Yohn Royce and Lady Anya Waynwood both showed some surprise at the revelation, but they had been increasingly suspicious of how well Alayne took to noble life. It must not be too big of a shock to them . Harrold Hardyng on the other hand looked absolutely bewildered. He is stunned at his treatment of a Lady above his station. Ser Shadrich merely had an amused look on his face. 

After assuring the lords that he regretted having to lie to them and that he only did so for Sansa’s safety, Petyr revealed that the North was free of Bolton, and by extension Lannister, rule now. Winterfell was being held by Jon Snow, Eddard Stark’s bastard, and recently declared King in the North. Petyr made an impassioned plea to the lords of the Vale declaring that with the Lannister’s grip on power increasingly fraught following Cersei’s wildfire plot against the Faith at the Sept of Baelor, where poor Margaery died, and the recent arrival of a boy claiming to be Prince Aegon Targaryen, the lords of the Vale owed a duty to the blood of their former lady, cousin of their current Lord and the daughter of their friend Eddard Stark to return Sansa to her rightful place in the North. Although the Vale may have sat out the War of the Five Kings he argued, looking at Lord Yohn Royce, “it’s time for the Knights of the Vale to join the fray.” While they could not immediately make for the North with the increasingly bad weather, the Lords of the Vale began planning a campaign to return Sansa to her rightful seat. In that time Harry began to get closer to her to make up for his previously awful treatment. 

 

While the weather started to get slightly more permissive of travel, their campaign was further delayed by attacks from the mountain clans who were getting desperate for food. The Knights of the Vale had to deal with them first. During this wait, Petyr told Sansa of a letter from Jon requesting aid from all the Great Houses of Westeros against the Others.

“Was the bastard always one to jape?” he sneered.

Sansa had no response to that particular question. What is Jon playing at?

Later Petyr told Sansa about how Jon was now proclaiming to be the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. With Jon claiming to be a Targaryen, a Targaryen king in the South and recent news of a Targaryen queen with dragons landing at Dragonstone, Sansa felt like it wouldn’t be long before they had to live through another Dance of the Dragons. I’ll be safer within the walls of Winterfell . Petyr was elated at the news of Jon’s alleged Targaryen heritage. He assured Sansa it would make their job much easier. 

 

When they finally set out for the North, Sansa noticed Ser Shadrich of the Shady Glen getting closer to her and trying to get her alone during the progress. One night while Sansa made water he grabbed her, putting a hand over her mouth and began to make away from the camp with her. Sansa felt a panic she hadn’t felt since she left King’s Landing. As she felt the bile began to build up inside her, she felt someone drag him off her. She turned to face her saviour and saw him  behead  Ser Shadrich with a single stroke of his sword. A tall hooded man accompanied by another tall hooded figure, Sansa felt herself growing increasingly frightened until the man removed his hood to reveal his face. Sandor! 

 

“Little bird. You should have left King’s Landing with me.” he declared. The figure behind also removed their cloak revealing a tall, armoured, disfigured blonde woman. She immediately went on one knee and offered her services to Sansa explaining that she had once sworn an oath to her mother to rescue and protect Sansa. 

 

Sansa didn’t initially trust Lady Brienne but decided that if Sandor vouched for her she would give her a chance. Brienne told Sansa that Ser Shadrich had been looking for her for some time seeking a reward for returning her to King’s Landing. The decision to allow Sandor and Brienne to travel with them to Winterfell did not please Petyr. He doesn’t want me to have allies he does not control but Sansa felt safer in their company. Sandor kept advising her not to trust Littlefinger, never missing an opportunity to list reasons why she shouldn’t. 

 

When Sansa finally saw the grey, warm, walls of home she felt a sense of security she hadn’t felt since she first left Winterfell.

Once inside the castle Jon greeted her with a warm hug and Sansa was introduced to her great uncle Ser Brynden Tully. Sansa found it odd that he would be at Winterfell but was happy to be around another member of her family. He will look after my interests and keep me safe.  

 

Sansa noticed that her uncle didn’t look particularly pleased to see Petyr. 

 

Once inside the Hall, courtesies were exchanged, Jon insisted Sansa sit at the high table while he sat on the Seat of the Kings of Winter. The rest of her entourage sitting on the benches. One side of the room was made up of the lords and knights of the Vale and the other side composed of Northmen and, to Sansa’s surprise, wildlings. 

 

Impatient, Petyr stood and began, “My lords, my ladies, I was as aggrieved as any of you about what befell House Stark and the North.  Please accept my condolences for your losses. While I was in no position to provide martial assistance during the war, I could not sit by while the daughter of my childhood friend, and good sister,  Lady Catelyn Stark was mistreated by the Lannisters. My late lady-wife and I went to great efforts to save Lady Sansa from the clutches of the Lannisters and kept her safe in the Vale until it was safe to return her to her rightful place. Here. In Winterfell. With you. The lords of the Vale and I were so pleased to hear of your retaking of the North from the Lannister-aligned House Bolton and are honoured to return to you your queen.”

 

The hall erupted in a thundering clamor, Lords speaking over one another furiously.  Southern Lords would never do this . Sansa found herself embarrassed by the gruff Northern lords.

 

Jon raised a hand and clenched his fingers into a fist and the hall quietened.

 

“My lord, you have my thanks and the thanks of all the North for returning Sansa home. Like many in the North our family has suffered many losses. Sansa’s return brings hope to us. Thank you for protecting her.” Jon said earnestly. Oh Jon, you are so much like Father now

 

Petyr smiled at that with the look of a man who had won. 

 

“I am pleased to have protected the rightful Queen in the North, it’s what Cat would have wanted.”

 

“Are you seeking to usurp the King we chose? Lady Lannister?” someone spat, drawing Sansa’s attention away from Petyr. The voice belonged to Barbery Dustin, Lady of Barrowton, late to join the Northern cause to overthrow the Boltons; she was still trying to ingratiate herself to Jon. Her first step had been to return Father’s bones to Winterfell and Sansa would find out years later how she had a particular dislike for the mother Sansa resembled so much. First for allegedly taking Uncle Brandon from her and then Father who was supposed to replace him. She also held an animosity towards Father for not returning her husband’s bones after the events at the Tower of Joy.

In that moment though, Sansa straightened her back, for all she preferred the South, she was a Stark of Winterfell who had nothing to fear. “My Lady, I am a Stark. I have always been a Stark. The Lannisters held me hostage after they killed my father and forced me to marry Lord Tyrion. Surely you cannot begrudge me for something that was forced upon a girl of three and ten?”

Before anyone could respond Petyr interrupted, “My lords, my ladies,” he punctuated with a pause, “the Lady Sansa is your rightful queen. She is the only Stark here and the heir to the King you chose. You cannot place a ba- ahem, pardon me, a cousin, before the true born sister of your king and the daughter of your liege before him.” 

 

“Our king,” Lady Maege Mormont countered, Sansa wasn’t sure she would ever think the peculiar woman with the dirk at her belt a lady if she wasn’t ruler of Bear Island, “chose Lady Arya as his heir if she was found and King Jon if she was not. I don’t see Lady Arya here. Do you?.”

 

 “I suppose you already know that answer since you sent a fraud in our rightful Queen’s place,” Lady Dustin added with a smirk that belied her own role propping up the Boltons and her prior knowledge that Jeyne was not Arya. Not that Jeyne was in any position to tell anyone the truth back then. 

 

“My lady, er, Mormont isn’t it?” Sansa was sure Petyr knew who she was, feigning ignorance was a tool he used to belittle. He had no recourse for Lady Dustin, “For all I’ve heard about The North Remembers , I cannot see how the North can support a-“ he looked at Jon disapprovingly then, “..Targaryen over a true-born daughter of Eddard Stark. I am sure King Robb did not know what we know today,” Littlefinger flaunted. 

 

Lady Mormont smiled knowingly, “I don’t believe it would have made much of a difference, Lord Baelish. Lady Catelyn was very open to making more distant kin Robb’s heir.” Sansa saw Jon’s jaw tense at that. “King Robb chose King Jon as an heir because he was a son of the North.”

 

“Why do you think we declared a King in the North in the first place?” Galbart Glover joined in. “When both Stannis and Renly were options against the Lannisters?”

Hiding his impatience with a smug smile, Petyr retorted,  “my Lord that does not answer my question. Why should a cousin or a younger sister come before King Robb’s rightful heir?” 

“You keep bringing this up. Didn’t you know Lady Lannister was disinherited?” Lord Manderly said with a voice that sounded bored.

Sansa looked at her uncle then. He simply nodded at her. Petyr had a mildly bewildered expression on his face.  The news saddened Sansa but did not particularly shock her. Robb was protecting the North from the Lannisters.


More immediately however, Sansa realised how out of depth Littlefinger was. They’ve been toying with him. They could have mentioned this when he first started speaking but they waited for him to make his intentions clear.

Sansa saw her opportunity and began to cry. She stood up, prompting Jon to do the same, and threw herself into his arms. . “I can’t hide the truth anymore,” she began with a whimper, a lady did not snivel, looked at Jon and then away at where Littlefinger stood near the front benches, “I have to tell the truth.” And so she did. She told all who were there how Littlefinger had been keeping her hidden in the Vale, threatening her against revealing her identity because she was wanted for kingslaying. 

 

 “I did it to protect you my lady. Your mother was like a sister to me and your aunt my wife,” he began. Sansa saw fear in the cool facade he struggled to maintain. 

 

“You betrayed my mother, killed my aunt and you used me to lie for you. You used me to hide your monstrous acts by threatening me with the Lannisters who would find me guilty of a crime you planned.” The tears were flowing readily now,

“You knew my hairnet contained the poison that killed Joffrey while I did not, and you made me lie and say it was the singer who killed my aunt. Before that you convinced Aunt Lysa to poison Lord Jon Arryn with tears of Lys. I heard her confess just before you killed her.  It was you who started the animosity between the Starks and the Lannisters when you had my Lord uncle killed.” Sansa felt her blood boiling now and noticed the murderous looks of both the lords of the Vale and Northern lords and ladies levelled at Littlefinger.

 

“My lady,  whatever your aunt said, she was a disturbed woman.” 

 

Unphased Sansa continued, “You sent Jeyne Poole here pretending she was Arya. It would give you time to consolidate your power in the Vale before revealing my identity. You wanted to crown me Queen in the North and crown yourself King which in addition to your position as Lord of Harrenhal and your power in the Vale would give you power in three kingdoms. How do we know you didn’t kill my sister just to reach your goal?” Sansa felt Jon tense behind her, and both her uncle and the Northern lords looked irate. They marched for Arya, their queen. The thought of Arya being placed above her perturbed Sansa but she knew her brother was only trying to protect the North from the Lannisters. He and mother knew I would be the better queen. I was raised for it, not her. 

 

“I did no such thing, my lady, everyone knows I was raised in the home of Lord Hoster Tully, I would never harm someone of his blood.” He looked imploringly at Ser Brynden then, the man who helped raise him.

 

His words broke Sansa’s reverie, “I wouldn’t put it past you Lord Baelish. You had me procuring sweetmilk for my cousin Lord Robert Arryn. You told me it was to help treat him but Maester Colemon told me the truth. He told me it would harm him so I stopped giving it to him but you didn’t care did you? Robert dying would be convenient for you. You’d replace him with Ser Harrold who you thought was more predictable.” 

 

Harrold Hardyng never looked more incredulous than in that moment, keen to show himself loyal to his kin and to the Vale. This latest revelation on top of Littlefinger being behind the death of Lord Jon Arryn and the Vale lords seeing an opportunity to free themselves of the hold he had over them all but sealed his fate. 


“My lady, I am innocent of these crimes. You have not provided any proof of your claims.” 

 

“We can always call Maester Colemon my Lord.” Now that the Vale lords were incensed, Sansa saved the best for last, The North Remembers. I’ll show them I’m a Northerner too.  She began to sob. “That’s not all,” Sansa hiccuped, the hysterics were feigned but her anger true, “Sandor, tell them, tell them what he did to my father.”  

 

Sandor Clegane moved  to the middle of the hall and told all inside how upon King Robert’s death Eddard Stark marched into the throne room with King Robert’s will declaring him regent. He was in the company of his own guard and 100 gold cloaks, enough to outnumber the Lannisters five to one. Sandor also revealed how Cersei ripped the will and ordered Lord Stark arrested. He revealed how the Hand’s own guards stood around him to protect him from the Kingsguard in the belief that the gold cloaks, Janos Slynt and Petyr Baelish would stand with them before the gold cloaks turned on them slaughtering the Stark men while Littlefinger held a knife to Eddard Stark’s throat saying, “I did warn you not to trust me.” 

 

When Sandor finished the Northern lords began shouting, Whoresbane Umber was being held back by his brother. Hother Umber had sworn fealty to the Boltons to save his nephew the Greatjon but was a loyal friend of her father. Sansa saw Robett Glover doing the same to his brother Galbart. The Vale lords were just as enraged. Bronze Yohn Royce principal among them. He was a friend of Father and supported Robb. Petyr always said he was the biggest threat to his plans. He didn’t see me coming. 

 

Littlefinger knew he was done for. Not that it stopped him making a feeble argument pointing out Sandor worked for the Lannisters too. “My Lord, Sandor Clegane was bound to obey his King, what excuse did you have? Despite his vows, he protected me in King’s Landing and he had even offered to help me escape during the Blackwater. I wish I had gone with him. If I had I would have been reunited with my family.”

She couldn’t help but think, Robb would have made me his heir, I would be a good queen. “He protected my sister Arya for a time as well before he was injured. Sandor Clegane has proven himself a man of honour and loyal to House Stark, something I cannot say about you.” 

 

Jon spoke for the first time then, with a furious look that made him look like a true King of Winter, “Take the prisoner away, he will be executed in the morning.” 

 

Despite their fury, she noticed later that night that the Northern lords and ladies had become somewhat less antagonistic, even if not particularly friendly, toward her. Well, all but two of them: Lady Dustin had a less than impressed look on her face and  Lord Manderly had a queer expression on his face. One that Sansa couldn’t quite read. She saw Lord Manderly later that night wobbling his way out of the dungeons. Jeyne Poole once told her he was called Lord-Too-Fat-To-Sit-A-Horse, Sansa would never use that nickname out loud though. Sansa paid him no mind. Sansa Stark was home and safe behind the walls of Winterfell. 

 

Littlefinger was executed the next morning by Jon.  His last words a pathetic plea for mercy. 

 

At the execution Sansa heard Thoros of Myr, a recent arrival from Castle Black where Jon had sent men to shore up the Night’s Watch’s numbers, speaking intensely to Sandor, who was always next to her - her trusted sword. “I’ve seen it all with this family. The fish in the river with the red cheeks, her son the wolf that wailed in the rain. Now I’ve seen the maid once of the purple serpents in her hair slay the giant in a castle built of snow. I wonder what came of the wolf-child, the blood child, the one whose sorrow was too much even for one who gorged on grief in Summerhall.” Sansa had no idea what the drunk priest was babbling on about.

 

Not long after Littlefinger’s death, the Dragon Queen answered Jon’s call for support in the war against the Others and came in the company of Sansa’s husband, Tyrion Lannister. Unfortunately, his arrival had soured attitudes to Sansa once more. Jon bent the knee to the aunt who insisted he take his Targaryen name as her heir. While Sansa did not agree with Jon bending the knee, her more immediate problem was making the lords of the North see her as one of their own. I will make them love me . She spent much of the preparations for war losing herself in securing food for the winter. Sansa was determined that the mountain clans would not have to send their old men “hunting” this year. The Northern people are grateful people. They still love father for all he did for them. They even keep talking about Arya as if a nine year old can do anything of note. When I feed them they will love me too. They won’t care about who I was forced to marry. 

 

With news from the Vale that Sweetrobin was on his deathbed Sansa found herself having to ingratiate herself to Harry the Heir and the Lords Declarant of the Vale. Upon Sweetrobin’s death Sansa promised the newly styled Lord Harrold Arryn and the various lords of the Vale, as cousin to the Crown Prince, to ask for her marriage to be annulled as soon as the war was over so she could marry Harry and become Lady of the Eyrie. “My father may have been a Northman, my lords,  but he was raised in the Vale. You sheltered me in my darkest time. You are my people as much as those of the North and the Riverlands. I will always stand by you. All I ask is that you stand by the North with provisions for the winter.” Harry was easiest to convince. 

 

When the Others were defeated, the combined forces of the Vale, the North, the Reach, the last remnants of the Ironborn,  under Asha Greyjoy, the last of the Greyjoys after the Dragon Queen killed her uncles,  some Riverlords under the command of Brynden Tully, some Westerland lords and the Dragon Queen’s armies turned their attention to the war for King’s Landing. The majority of the Houses in the Westerlands refused to side with either faction in the second Dance of the Dragons - although only one side truly had dragons. Those Westerland houses argued that they could not side with a usurper who had a kinslayer for a Hand nor one who usurped the rightful queen Cersei Lannister. The Targaryen King had the Crownlands’, Stormlands’ and Dornish armies on his side, a sellsword company he brought from Essos and some Riverlords under the Freys who knew that if the North-aligned Dragon Queen won their position would be untenable. 

 

Tyrion Lannister died during the Siege of King’s Landing and Harrold ungallantly insisted that he and Sansa marry before the sack of the city. While Sansa could not say she loved Tyrion Lannister, she could not help but note how the upjumped former landed knight turned Lord Paramount salivated at the opportunity  to marry someone with ties to the Royal family. He did away with all courtesies. 

 

Their marriage was equally uncourteous. While Sansa gave him a son, her beloved Robb, now  Lord of the Eyrie , in their two years of marriage, Harry fathered two more bastards before falling in an ambush by the mountain clans of the Vale. Good thing all his bastards were girls. Still, just to be sure they never became a threat to her son, out of her grace Sansa determined she’d betroth them when they became of age to some minor landed knights. It’s more than most bastards could expect. 

 

With her control in the realm still new, the Dragon Queen spent her first few years of rule cementing relationships with the Houses of her Realm and upon Harry’s death, she proposed a marriage between Jon and Sansa. 

 

Sansa found her half-brother turned cousin and betrothed difficult to understand. How could she ingratiate herself to someone she couldn’t read? He spent as little time as possible with her, preferring to spend his time with a former outlaw from the Dornish Marshes who married Beth Cassel, Harwin the son of Hullen, who took his father’s position as Master of Horse and a red-headed wildling who married Maege Mormont and styled himself husband to bears. Recently, he also spent time with Lord Edric Dayne of Starfall who he met in King’s Landing and had recently arrived in Winterfell for the wedding. Sometimes he’d even spend time with Sandor talking about Arya. 

 

Apart from her uncles, nephew and her little Robb, Jon was the last of the family she had around her. She decided she’d make him love her. She had to. They were all the other had. He still puzzled her though. Once she was watching Sandor walking around the yard with her son when she heard Jon say, “You love him.” It wasn’t a question and even if it were, Sansa wasn’t sure she knew the answer to that question. Instead, turning to Jon with a smile, she quipped, “that’s not something one usually says to their betrothed Jon.” His gruff response before he walked off  in the direction of the glass gardens, probably to stare some more at winter roses , was, “if you did I wouldn’t blame you. People can’t help who they love.” 

 

Weeks later she found herself reflecting on his question. Did she love Sandor? She wasn’t certain. He was the first person to try to open her eyes when she was nothing more than a little bird parroting courtesies, drawn to the glamour of a life she only knew of from the songs. Except songs of love and chivalry never once imitated life in Sansa’s experience. Twice married for power, first for her name and then for her husband’s, here she was considering a third that might make her queen to a man who favoured her long-dead sister. “ When did I turn into aunt Lysa? ” she found herself asking before reminding herself Jon was no Littlefinger. Still, it was Sandor who sat her down that night after the tourney and  taught her there were no true knights. A lesson life had beaten into her again and again. In a world where honesty and true honour died south of the Neck with Ned Stark, at least in most of the men Sansa had the misfortune to be around, Sandor never broke her confidence - even if a lady of her stature should not associate herself with such a man.  “A hound will die for you, but never lie to you. And he’ll look you straight in the face,” he once told her. 

 

But Sansa was a grown woman now, Lady Regent of the Vale, connected by blood to two Lord Paramounts, one of them a prince and her betrothed, mother to a third and mayhaps one day a queen if the expensive news of the Queen’s barren womb was anything to go by. Sansa’s children may one day sit the Iron Throne and she’d find her little Robb a worthy marriage. She might even make him Hand to his brother or sister. Mother prepared me to raise princes and lords . While the years have turned her skin from porcelain to ivory to steel, and made her so much more at ease with the burnt man that once terrified her, underneath it all she was still the girl who vowed to herself “ when I am queen I will make them love me .” Could she give up that dream for Sandor? A man with a dubious history, no wealth to show for himself and an even worse grip on courtesies than Arya. No, a marriage to him would weaken her hold on power in the Vale. If she was to marry, her lords expected her to marry from themselves to consolidate power. She only had two options. The first was to never marry again, she could always fall back on being a widow loyal to her “one true - dead - love.” Or she could marry someone above them: another Lord Paramount or, better still, a prince. Jon would never hurt me and he’d never father a bastard - he’s too much like Father . Though he and Mother never got on, Jon was raised to know the importance of Family, Duty, Honour. Why else would he break his vows for Arya? 

 

Joffrey and Cersei and Petyr and all the countless little men in between taught Sansa life was not a song - even if one of a little bird and her dog was oh so sweet. A lady should only marry from her station in life. No , it will have to be Jon she convinced herself. Mayhaps one day I’ll even hold his heart and if not with my beauty and courtesies, Cersei did teach me the greatest weapons in a Lady’s arsenal. My tears have already helped me so far when I blubbered about the lords of the Vale all but forcing demands of marriage on me. As if they could. I have secrets that could destroy each one of them. A final gift from Petyr. Still, my son and I will be safer with Jon. 

 

“Lady Lannis, pardon me, I’m getting old, Lady Arryn, please accept my congratulations on your third marriage.” The voice that broke Sansa’s train of thought belonged to the Lard Lord, Lord Manderly.  

 

He’s still annoyed that I made the case for the port at Gulltown to be expanded as a priority before White Harbor’s at the council of Great Lords. The queen wanted to use the remaining wealth she had from her conquest of Volantis to begin rebuilding Westeros. She held the Council to find out the needs of the kingdoms and spent the majority of the money feeding the Crownlands and the Riverlands. Expanding White Harbor’s port would have been a boon for the North’s silversmith industry which was more valuable than it’s already profitable lumber trade. While the quality of the Vale’s produce of foodstuffs could rival Highgarden, the Vale could not rival the North in producing silver or lumber but an expansion to the port at Gulltown would benefit both the Vale’s general trade as well as it’s profitable trade in marble. At the meeting, Sansa simply pointed out that the Vale had been a stable region during the wars and that port would be easier to expand than the one in White Harbor. White Harbor may need trade but like the devastated Riverlands expanding the port surely had to be the last of their priorities. Feeding the people through winter was. If the port was to be expanded, it could be expanded at a later time. Runestone is not far from Gulltown and I need Yohn Royce’s favour to secure my son’s position, Sansa thought then. One has to give when taking. Lord Royce helped me secure food for the North during the war. And if the Vale is rich, I can continue feeding the North. They would be grateful to me. The people would love me. Lord Manderly should be thanking me - I'd be feeding people who rely on him.  It makes no matter, he will regret his disrespect when I’m Queen. I’ll ask Jon to grant him a position in our Small Council. When he sees how gracious I am he will regret his treatment of me. I will make them love me

 

Reminding herself that A lady’s armor is courtesy, Sansa smiled at him and engaged in a polite conversation about his journey to Winterfell asking whether she could do anything to make his stay more comfortable when she spotted Jon fresh from his return to Karhold. He was flanked by Ghost and the monstrous Nymeria who rejected Sansa’s every attempt to groom her like she did with Lady. It was clear she took after her uncouth, wilful mistress there. Still her rejection hurt. I am a wolf too, Sansa thought, Lady died because of Nymeria. Arya died just like Lady. Nymeria should be mine now.  

 

Sansa walked over to Jon hugging him in greeting and asking about his visit to Karhold where Lady Alys and her wildling husband lived with the permission of the freed Lord Harrion Karstark. Sansa never understood why a lady of a noble house would marry a savage. All of a sudden Ghost and Nymeria started howling, starting a ruckus that set off the beasts Jon allowed to live in the Wolfswood. They were moving in the direction of a long faced girl wearing breeches with specks of dirt from travel on her face. She’s probably a servant . Sansa had turned back to Jon when she noticed a look of bewilderment on his face and tears in his eyes before he started running toward the girl in a very unlord-like  fashion. Sansa turned to look at the girl properly. Jon had slowed down when he reached her. Stopping just in front of her, softly holding her face in his hands, as if she might break, while he looked at her adoringly. Both of them openly crying and looking at each other as if the other might disappear. Jon then affectionately pulled her against his chest in an embrace. 

Arya.