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Lift Me Like an Olive Branch and Be My Homeward Dove

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During the first few nights in the Vale, before Sansa learns to become Alayne Stone, she dreams of being rescued.

Sometimes it’s the Hound that comes for her, mouth hot and insistent against hers but in the dreams she does not fight him. Instead she surrenders, offers herself up for oblivion. Other times it’s Robb or Arya and when Sansa sees them her relief is instantaneous. It’s something palpable that wretches her heart when she wakes to the empty stone room that doesn’t belong to her.

The most bittersweet is when it’s her father - her real father - that comes for her. In her dreams he holds her to his chest and she fits with him as she did when she was still a child. He smells like Winterfell and when he speaks her name she cries, heart full of an emotion she has no name for. She wakes from those dreams, face wet and grief awakened again - an old wound festering inside.

She never dreams of Jon Snow but in the end he is the one that comes for her under a Targaryen banner, the might of Winterfell and the North behind him with their father’s sword on his back.

--

Sansa does not ask Jon what has became of his vows or his promise to the wall.

Petyr had told her of the rumors around Jon’s heritage, of how he might fold into the plan for her return to Winterfell. It had seemed a distant thing at the time and difficult for Sansa to think of her bastard brother, her cousin, away at the wall as something real and solid.

There is no uncertainty anymore. She can feel the heat of him beside her at the high table before the reveling Lords and Ladies of the Vale. For all they say about him he looks remarkably the same to her, face still heavy with some unknown worry as he holds him self apart from the others, uncomfortable.

He turns when he feels her eyes on him, unasked questions on his lips. Sansa knows she could answer them easily, spin a pretty lie for him but in the end she is quiet, offering him nothing he does not ask from her.

Petyr had taught her the value in that.

--

The ride to the North is hard and long and Sansa sees for the first time the destruction the war has wrought on the empire. She understands then what Littlerfinger had protected her from, and she is thankful to him for that small mercy, but in the end it is not enough to still Jon’s hand.

She keeps her face empty and her gaze is steady when Petyr looks to her, eyes wild with panic. His words fail him so close to death and Sansa thinks she might have fought for him once. She would have protected him from anyone who would do him harm but Jon had told the truth of his deceit. She knows now how he betrayed their father to the Lannisters.

She feels, only briefly, guilt but it passes when Jon’s fingers brush her shoulder and she turns to follow his path. She can see Winterfell in the distance and her heart aches in her chest but this must be done first.

“Petyr Baelish you have been sentenced to death for crimes against the Seven Kingdoms and in the name of Queen Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, I Jon Targaryen, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, will see her justice done.” He says and his voice is steady and calm but it feels to Sansa, too loud in the silence.

“Look away,” Jon says as his Bannermen, her father’s Bannermen Sansa thinks, lay a struggling Petyr over the blood stained rock.

“No,” she tells him, eyes bright. She is no longer the girl he once knew and for too long she has looked away from the world and what the Stranger brings.

“For our father,” he says, voice soft. It is meant only for her and Sansa’s breath catches in her throat, chest tight with emotion before she is overcome by rush of sweet relief when Jon takes Petyr Baelish’s head with her father’s sword.

Ned Stark may not have fathered him, she thinks, but here they stand together before the Old Gods as brother and sister, tied by the love of a father long gone.

--

Sansa does not weep, with relief or sorrow, when she sees the ruin of Winterfell. Much has changed but it still stands and all around her the streets are bustling with activity, people and animals, hurry past her.

“Most of the repairs are nearly finished,” Jon tells her as he leads her through the old, familiar path to the inner keep. There are new sections of stone and wood everywhere, carefully woven into the castle to blend into the style of old but Sansa sees them all, bright reminders of what has past.

When she stares too long she feels Jon’s eyes on her, watching her, but Sansa’s expression remains unchanged. It is second nature to her now to keep her emotions buried away where they can not be used against her. Petyr had taught her well, showed her long ago how to be the empty vessel he needed. Sansa fears that is all she will be, that she couldn't fill herself again even if she wanted to.

She knows she can not be that bright eyed girl with her heart on her sleeve that Jon searches for. Part of her worries that girl is dead - head high on the wall next to her father at King’s Landing with all those she loves.

“Lady Stark?” Jon asks and when she looks to him, face so like her father’s, the tangle of emotions inside her, grief and fear, relief and gratitude, well up inside her so fiercely she fears she will drown in their wake if she speaks.

She wants to tell him all this but her words are swollen and heavy in her mouth. “Lead on,” she says instead.

---

Jon gives Sansa her Lady Mother’s chambers but there is little left that would identify it as such anymore. The furniture is new, made of the deep and heavy wood from the Northern forests. The craftsmanship is flawless and the wood is smooth and cool under her touch. Her mother’s bed had been made of soft wood from the south, light in color and warm, always warm Sansa remembers, as if the bed still had its roots. It is gone now. Like all the things that were once hers it had burned in the sieges or been looted.

There are no tears and no grief to steal her breath at that thought, just a heaviness taking root inside her.

--

Hours later, then the sky has grown dark and angry Jon comes to her.

The knock on her door is soft, hesitant.

“Come in,” she says, rising when he enters.

“Lady Stark….I thought,” he starts and she sees then now that it is just the two of them how unsure, nervous he is. He looks smaller, diminished somehow out of his fur lined cloaks she thinks. “Some of the household maids, loyal to your mother, kept these safe when it appeared she would not return.”

He hands her the box awkwardly and when their fingers touch his eyes jump to hers. Up close it is easy to see how he has aged, where duty has worn deep grooves into his once smooth face. They say he has the might of the Dragon Queen behind him but there is nothing Targaryen about him. He is all Stark, she thinks, and feels some of the tightness in her chest ease at that though.

“Thank you, Lord Targaryen,” she tells him voice full of emotion that gives too much away. There is more she wants to say but it is all she can do to incline her head down in a motion reminiscent of her mother as she smooths her fingers over the box. Inside is a clutter of jewelry and trinkets and when Sansa touches them, memories from a time long past, she feels her heart settle in her throat.

“You are welcome,” he returns when he sees her expression, and the smile that emerges before he turns to go is shy and tentative. He doesn’t speak again until he is at her door, head turned down and away from her. “And please,” he sighs, “it’s Jon.”

“Thank you, Jon,” she says after a moment but he is already gone.

--

The Godswood, Sansa is grateful to find, remains mostly unchanged. There are some trees, dark and bare with the agony of fire on the edge of the woods but at the heart the great Weirwood still stands, face as familiar to Sansa as her own. She kneels before it, ground hard and cold beneath her and the air curls sharply in her lungs.

Her memories of her father are the strongest here and it is almost easy to forget all that has past alone here. For a moment Sansa can believe when she leaves this place she will find her family waiting in the hall for dinner. She imagines Arya covered in bruises and scrapes with Rickon and Bran not far behind. Robb would be there too, fresh from sword practice to give her a sweaty hug and dirty her dress. Her mother would laugh, hand curled inside her father’s. It would be perfect, lovely in a way it never really was because she’d been young and foolish then.

They are all long dead now and Sansa knows she will find only Jon sitting in her father’s place, waiting for her when she returns.

--

There is to be a feast to celebrate the restoration of Winterfell and her return. The city swells with people already, with all of the North it seems to Sansa. There are other houses, great Lord and Ladies south of the neck that will come too but their journey is long and hampered by the heavy snow.

“They’ve come to see Winterfell rebuilt,” Jon tells her as she watches the brightly flown banners file into the city. “And to see you too,” he tells her. “They have come to welcome home the last surviving child of Eddard Stark.”

“Perhaps they come to see the man that would deny a crown too,” she says but her words are not unkind, just curious.

“Perhaps,” he says and Sansa studies the hard line of his jaw. “But only ruin lays south of the Neck for our family.”

Sansa shivers against the truth of his words and feels Ghost against her leg, something warm and solid to anchor herself to. She thinks of Lady then and a small, unexpected ache springs to life inside her after all this time as Ghost gives a low whine beside her.

Sansa says nothing but Ghost’s fur is soft against the tips of her fingers when she touches the crown of his head gently. Beside her the stiff line of Jon’s shoulders loosen a little and she hears him breathe out.

--

The party is larger then Sansa expected, richer too but Winterfell’s coffers are full again with Jon’s Aunt on the throne.

No expense is spared and Sansa can see how desperately the people of North need this moment, this triumph after all has passed. The hall overflows with the laughter of children and Sansa watches peasants and Lords alike dance in time to the music. There are few familiar faces in the hall. Most of those she knew from her father’s time are dead from Robb’s war and the rest perished fighting the wildings. These new Lords are untried and untested but she sees the way Jon commands their respect and loyalty just as her father once did.

Sitting beside her he looks very much the Lord of the North with his furs and rough cut beard. He will be a good Lord, Sansa thinks, but he has much to learn about politics and the way of the world outside.

That had been her father's failing and she prays it will not be his.

--

“My Lady,” someone says and Sansa is quick with a demure smile and polite murmur towards the Lord that bids her welcome but he has already turned to Jon. Sansa does not recognize the sigil on his breastplate but his accent is light with Southern influence.

“We understand Lady Stark has just returned to Winterfell Lord Targaryen,” he is saying to Jon, “But the House Malton would be happy to petition for her hand when the time arises.”

Sansa can not help the way her breath stills inside her chest or the way her hand trembles around the goblet. She can feel Jon stiffen in surprise beside her and for a moment the noise dims in the hall. Sansa had known this would happen, she knew the moment Jon came for her in the Vale that should would marry for an alliance, for politics and not for love but she never imagined this soon.

“Your offer is most kind but as you say, Lady Stark has just returned to Winterfell." His voice is polite but there is steel behind his words and Lord Malton swallows anymore he might say before he bows out gracefully.

He is not the last Lord to ask for her hand that night and Sansa bears each with an unchanging expression as she waits until enough time and enough drink has past for her to leave without being discourteous to Jon or their guests.

--

Later, when the party has died out and the castle is quiet once again she seeks Jon out. He does not look surprised to see her at the door to his chambers and he lets her in without question. He looks tired in the dying light of the fire and for a moment Sansa wishes she had not come. She is here though, hair wild around her face and mouth tight. She can not keep silence anymore, unable to empty out the fear and dread inside as Petyr had once taught her.

“I’ll marry one of your bannermen if you’d like,” she says and her voice sounds thin and high, “but please Jon, please don’t send me south. I can’t,” she starts, throat seizing up. I can not go back South, there is Winter in my bones and I will die there, just as surely as our father and all those we have loved did.

“Sansa,” he says, her name full of a sadness she does not expect and his palm is warm against her cheek. Sansa finds, to her shame, that her cheeks are wet with tears. Guilt rises up sharply inside her. She had not cried in years, not for Winterfell or for her dead family but here before Jon she cries for herself, selfish once again.

It is simply too much.

“I will never send you south, never,” he promises softly and she sags against him with relief. “You will marry eventually but not now, not for a very long time,” he swears. She knows he can not keep her in Winterfell forever, the Queen will need them both married to secure the North but to know he will not send her away immediately either eases her fear.

“Besides,” he tells her, a gentle smile on his face, “I believe Ghost has grown quite fond of you.”

Sansa laughs then, heart lighter as reaches down for the Direwolf who regards her calmly, tail wagging slowly as he stands between them. “He is beautiful,” she tells Jon with a small smile.

“So are you, Sansa,” he says and she knows from the way his face colors red he had not meant to say it. When she looks up again he is watching her still and she waits for his eyes to slide away from hers in embarrassment.

Minutes pass and the wind is howling outside but still he holds her gaze.

--

In the morning Sansa rises before dawn and goes out into the Godswood. The world is quiet and still in the woods, away from the activity in the castle. Sansa knows those who came for the celebration are preparing to make their return home and that she should be there now to help Jon. It is only polite to see the Lords and Ladies who have travelled so far on their way, but Sansa can not bear the way those Southern men look at her, like she is a prize to be won.

She does not hate the South for all Jon may think though. Her mother had been Southern and for a time Sansa had thought she’d been too. Years ago she would have gladly accepted the affections and gifts of those men. She would have dream nightly of sun and flowers and golden-headed men to spirit her away from the cold wasteland of her home.

Now she dreams only of Winterfell and the dark haired men of the North.

--

When the days begin to grow shorter and the nights longer and darker Sansa feels something awakening inside.

Winter is coming.

Jon knows this too, he can feel it in his bones as surely as she does and Sansa breathes easier at being useful once again. He does not ask for her help but she offers it all the same, pouring over old records and inventory lists to help Winterfell prepare for what will surely be a long Winter. Her mother had dreaded it, the heralding of Winter and the memory of her here, sitting at this very table with Master Luwin to see to the running the household, rises sharply inside Sansa. The unexpected flood of emotion leaves her face hot and she starts under the gentle hand Jon lays across her back.

It has grown late and they are alone.

“Sansa?”

“It is nothing,” she tells him but his gaze lingers on her face too long and she feels warm under her woolen robes and longs to be in the open air. “I was thinking of my mother,” she admits after a moment but immediately regrets her words at the pained expression Jon wears. She knows, as she did when she was still a girl, her mother’s treatment of him was never fair.

She thinks of her time at the Vale then, an unwanted image of Petyr taking shape inside her. It passes after a moment and Sansa remembers what it was to be Alayne Stone. Her heart feels suddenly full, an understanding she can not deny. “I’m sorry,” she tells him, voice heavy with compassion as she lays her hand over his on the table. “My mother was never kind to you and-“

“Sansa,” he says and she thinks he sounds more weary than pained. “She was a good woman at her heart and she loved you all very much.”

“They say I look so very much like her now,” Sansa says quietly. She had not meant to speak her thought aloud but sometimes, when it is just the two of them it is hard to remember to hide herself away. Words bubble up inside her before she can stop them but she finds only relief when she speaks them to Jon and not that hot coil of fear in her belly like before.

“You do,” he says and she wonders then if it is her mother Jon sees when he looks at her now. “But you have the best of her, all that was good and kind and fair.”

“Oh,” Sansa says and in the silence that follows she listens to his even breathing and the slow pull of her own heart against her chest.

Between them Ghost sighs, low and soft, like a song.

--

Sansa wakes early for the last day of Summer and the sunrise is brilliant and blood red. Face upturned, on the highest wall of the keep, Sansa imagines she can feel its warmth. She commits the beauty and the luxury of it to memory because she does not know when she will see it again.

When Jon finds her later, the day nearly at an end, her face has gone cold and numb from the wind.

“The sun is leaving us,” she says quietly. “It will not rise again tomorrow.” She does not know how to tell him she knows this is a certainty but she thinks he understands.

“I know,” Jon says and she realizes then he has caught a strand of her hair, brilliant and red, in his hand. He twists it gently and Sansa can feel the answering tug against her scalp. “Come eat with me,” he asks her and she can see then that he is troubled, brow flinty with some unknown worry.

They eat in his chambers, the ones that were once her father's, because it is too cold in the grand hall. They do not talk of Jon’s worries or Sansa’s fears but the silence is comfortable and the fire warm. Afterward they sit with mulled wine, spicy and hot in their mouth and look over the household charts together.

Outside the sky colors brilliantly with the dying sun, Winter settling into the castle once more and Sansa feels at peace.

--

It is dark in the Godswood and not even the lights that hang carefully from the trees make it anything less than treacherous to come to the forest. Sansa does not hesitate where others would, she knows the path to the Weirwood tree. It is difficult work to make her way through the snow but Sansa presses on. She is surprised to find Jon already there, the line of his mouth uneasy. Ghost is beside him, head low and ears back and Sansa knows then something weighs heavily on him.

He does not look surprised to see her and she settles beside him on the fallen tree, curling her fingers in Ghost’s soft fur.

The silence stretches between them and the snow begins to fall, heavier and faster until finally Jon speaks. “I never wanted any of this,” he admits to her. “I thought you were dead…all of you,” he says, voice heavy with grief. ”After what Theon did to Rickon and Bran and then Robb….I looked for you and Arya,” he says and Sansa turns away from him, from the painful words that force troubling memories she has tried to forget to the surface once more.

“Dany gave me leave from the wall but when I couldn’t find either of you…I wanted to die,” he told her and Sansa feels the heat of tears against her cold cheeks and there is a sob caught in her throat that pushes painfully against her windpipe. She wants to comfort him just as much as she wants to silence the words she does not wish to hear. She wants to escape this pain he brings back to her but she does not. She stays beside him.

“I said yes because Winterfell would have passed onto another family and I thought….there should always be a Stark in Winterfell.”

Sansa realizes then that he’s asking for her understanding, for her benediction and when she stares at his grey eyes, so like Arya's, she feels her heart twist painfully. His whole body trembles when she takes his hands in her own. His skin is rough, hand heavy in hers but she strokes the soft skin of his wrist as her mother once did to her as a child until she feels Jon breathe out the sob that’s been bound inside him since he came for her at the Vale.

“You are a Stark,” she tells him, fervor in her voice because while Sansa no longer knows what he is to her brother, cousin, friend she knows they share a common blood, bound together by a family long gone. She wants, so suddenly and desperately, to take this pain away from him that is startles her.

“You are all I have left now,” he tells her and she cries softly against him, a shared understanding passing between them that can not be given life in words. They were never brother and sister. Not in the way he and Arya were because Sansa had been young and foolish and Jon didn’t know how to breathe easy in a house held by her mother.

They are something new now, undefined and untested. It is why Sansa does not push him away when he leans into her, mouth hot against her brow. It is almost natural to turn her head towards his and accept the kiss he places against her cheek. She expects his skin to be hot, fire in his blood, but he’s cool, a Stark through and through. That thought warms her more than it should and she lets him pull her to him and crush her mouth against his. He tastes sweet with sorrow and his beard chafes against the softness of her chin but she does not pull away, does not struggle against him.

He is all that is left to her.

--

The next morning Jon rides out to the Wall. He is gone before she wakes to the darkness of her chambers and it is one of the maids, young and fresh faced that tells her this over breakfast. Sansa is proud of the way her face falls easily into blankness.

She buries the sting of it away, under her grief and loss and all that has passed before. She does not go to the Godswood that morning. She rides out instead, into the snow and cold, rides until all she can feel is the bite of the wind on her face and the chill deep in her bones.

--

The morning Jon returns he sends his Steward to finds her

Samwell, they say, took the black with Jon but Sansa never asks him. He has always been unfailingly gently with her and she understands a little of what it is to leave behind unwanted memories.

“Jon requests your presence,” he tells her and she rises, to follow him. Jon is Lord of Winterfell and she must come when he asks but it hurts that he does come for her himself.

“This way,” Samwell says but Sansa still at the top of the steps, fear hot in her belly.

The tombs.

She has not been down to the crypts since she was a child and even now the stale curl of damp air makes her stomach heave. “He is waiting for you,” Samwell tells her and Sansa accepts the heavy torch from him to light her way. She will not be cowered by old memories and childish fears. There is nothing beneath the castle that can hurt her she reminds herself and presses forward, down into the waiting darkness.

She finds Jon at the bottom of the steps and dressed all in black it is easy for Sansa to imagine him at the Wall. He looks thinner, gaunt almost in the flickering light of her torch and Sansa hates herself for the way it makes her heart ache a little.

He reaches for her wordlessly and Sansa places her hand in his and lets him pull her through the damp corridors. “Here,” Jon tells her softly and Sansa starts, finding the familiar faces of her own parents among the statues. The likeness is startling and Sansa stares at their stone hands, clasped together. She sees then the faint, hopeful smile her mother wears and the peace on her father’s face. For a moment she cannot breathe, overwhelmed.

“This way,” Jon tells her and she barely notices how his fingers curl around the swell of her hip. It feels like a dream, something unreal as they pass other statues and one by one the torch bringing to life the face of each of her brothers.

“Arya?” Sansa asks quietly, almost afraid when they reach an empty section, the half carved figure of a young woman standing unfinished before them.

“We did not find her body,” Jon admits. “And I couldn’t…not until I know,” he says and Sansa loves him in that moment so fiercely for his belief, for the hope she can not find inside herself.

“I come down here to see them sometimes,” he admits and she thinks of him here, all alone before he discovered her at the Vale.

“Thank you for this,” she tells him, eyes bright with unshed tears. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me. I can never repay you, never,” she says. “I will miss all this,” she says quietly, thinking of the day she will leave this place to be Lady of another keep.

“Then stay with me,” he says, suddenly. “Stay here as Lady of Winterfell, as my wife. You’ll never have to go South, never have to leave,” he promises.

“Jon-I,” she says, taken aback and bewildered by the desperation and desire she sees in his eyes. She thinks of their stolen kiss in the Godswood and the pain of his absence. “Yes,” she says finally because in the end he was the one that came for her when others would not and he was the one to give her Winterfell again.

For this she will always love him.

“Yes,” she tells him again, overcome by the strange happiness on his face. She lets him sweep her up and spin her in his arms, their shadows melding into one in the flickering torchlight. He kisses her then, before all their family and Sansa feels her heart sing in her chest once more.

--

They are married before the great Weirwood, under the watchful eye of Jon’s Bannerman and the Queen herself. There are no friendly faces here for Sansa on her wedding day, save for Jon. All those that might have come to stand in place of her family are long dead. Sansa feels her father’s presence in these woods all the same and when they speak the words of binding and promise together she feels something lighten inside, a burden shifting away.

Jon wraps her gently in the black and red colored cloak of the Targaryens and she is Lady Stark no more. She is a Targaryen, the true Lady of Winterfell and Jon kisses her then, chaste and pure, but the heat in his eyes makes her flush, warm all over.

--

Before the feast in the great hall Sansa finds her Lord Husband and the Queen speaking, sharing quiet moment together. She stills at the edge of the corridor, watching them together. There is a familiarity between them that surprises Sansa but she thinks it really shouldn’t. The Queen and her dragons had fought alongside the Night's Watch against the whitewalkers for months before any victory was won.

“What do you think of Sansa?” she hears Jon ask and Sansa thinks of when she spoke with the Queen earlier, at the welcoming feast. She’d been kind but distant, almost other worldly in her beauty and grace.

“I think she is wasted on Winterfell,” the Queen says with a smile. “She is clever by half with an eye for politics although she would deny it. She would be useful in Kings Landing, You both would,” The Queen says, her unspoken offer clear.

“No,” Jon tells her and Sansa can tell from his expression this is an old argument. One he is tired of.

“I thought not,” the Queen says with a sigh. “I’ll never understand you Starks and Winter. Give me the Dothraki summer any day,” she says and Sansa watches her shiver then. “You have my blessing obviously Jon. She is a smart match,” the Queen says, “but she is wounded too.”

Sansa thinks she sounds sad.

“So am I,” Jon tells her and Sansa’s heart stills in her chest at the emotion in his voice.

“Do you love her?” The Queen asks but her tone is softer, gentler now.

“Yes,” Jon says without hesitation.

---

The feast passes quickly and it is not long before they are alone in his chambers-hers now too she realizes. She is his lady wife, Winterfell hers once more and that thought fills her with a strange mix of joy and sorrow that makes her skin tingle.

“Jon, I,” she begins, anxious and unsure of what to say to him. The hard-won ease between them is gone now. She thinks of Henry suddenly, of Petyr and the Vale. She has been married once and betrothed twice but this will be her first true wedding night.

“Oh,” Jon says, “Oh Sansa,” and she sees the understanding dawn on his face. Her heart settles in her throat and a painful moment passes between them before she feels his hand, warm and dry in her own. She traces each of the fading sword calluses she finds in the grooves of his hand until her heart eases back into her chest and she can look at him again.

He smells of the damp earth, clean and pure and his body is a promise beside hers on the bed. She watches the shifting of emotions in the light of the fire on his face.

“I love you,” she tells him, half-surprised to find she means it.

The kiss he gives her is gentle but when she touches him in return, fingers curling against the nape of his neck, he presses against her more firmly. She lets him undress her, face hot when she is finally naked before him. He eases her hand to her side when she tries to cover herself and the look of adoration and reverence he gives her stills any question she might have about the women he has had before her.

“You are the most beautiful thing I have seen,” he says and Sansa does not recognize the low, pleased sound he dregs up from inside her when he presses himself, fully clothed, against her. Soon he is naked too and the chill of the room forces them under the heavy furs on the bed. She laughs, high and breathless, when he strokes along her sides and sighs softly into his mouth when his fingers brush against the swell of her breast.

“Sansa,” he says and her eyes flutter open, a brilliant blue like the whitewalkers that makes him still.

She reaches out for him, drags her fingers along the line of his shoulder and feels him shiver, mouth falling open to accept her kiss. His jaw is warm and firm under her hand, beard rough as she maps his face with her hands. She watches the muscles under his skin flex at her touch and she sees in him the same grey eyes of her father and Arya. His hair is soft against her fingers and she thinks of Rickon and Bran, dark, curly haired boys frozen forever in youth.

Her hand trembles against him then and when she looks away, she catches sight of herself in the highly polished surface of an old shield, sigil warn away. Red hair and fair, she thinks of her mother and then Robb. She wonders what Jon sees when he looks to her. She knows what the servants say, how like Ned Stark he looks now and she is undeniably in her mother’s image.

“Sansa,” Jon says and she feels his hands, strong and sure curl against her hips.

In her father’s old chambers it is impossible not think of all that has come before this moment, not to think of her family entombed below them. Sansa is surrounded by the dead, ghosts that threaten to pull her under but it is Jon, always Jon, she thinks, that comes for her. His mouth against hers is warm and sure, an anchor to this new life they are making together.

There is nothing left to her but the feel of Jon against her side and the way he pours himself into her heart with each kiss, each touch and whispered promise. It is easy to open herself to him, body soft and pliant against his when she feels his breath, hot across her chest.

When Jon touches her she shudders, fingers grasping at his bare back with an urgency she has never felt before. She does not understand the flood of emotion she feels; only that the weight of him is a comfort as he moves above her, moves in her.

She wants to say his name but things are spinning fast and there is no language here, only a symphony of wordless noises as she climbs higher and higher. He touches his head to hers and she feels an old hope taking root inside her again, a new future unfurling before her.

--

When they wake, moon bright and swollen in the sky, Jon does not tell her loves her and she does not whisper the words to him either. Time has passed for confessions and pledges of love and Sansa finds she likes the silence, the unspoken need.

There is nothing to prove, nothing to fight for here and Sansa finds relief in that.