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Aftermath - The Wolf and the Lion

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Sansa brought the flame of her torch to the corpse before her, a wildling girl with red hair like hers. She ignored the tears that stung her eyes as she moved to the next, an Unsullied soldier the same age as Jon. He burned just as the girl did. The only sound was the crackle of the fire as it consumed them.

The survivors had barely rested. Instead they were all here, outside Winterfell moving and burning those who had fallen, a sullen but necessary ceremony. Up ahead, she saw her brother and his Dragon Queen lighting similar fires. She glanced to Arya who looked half-dead herself, an exhausted and talented marvel burning those they could not save.

The wind picked up, blowing her hair across her face. Carefully, she brushed it to the side and continued on her terrible path. This one was a Karstark. The next was an Umber. Then two Dothraki buried beneath their black mounts.

When satisfied with the number she’d reached, Sansa turned to glance back at her home, a castle that still stood despite the horde and dragonfire that had been unleashed upon it. Not fifteen feet away, Tyrion stood staring and holding a torch of his own.

Her stomach fluttered, recalling how he’d looked at her mere hours ago, convinced they were fated to die. He’d impulsively brought her hand to his lips, the most intimate they’d ever been with one another, and the gesture had helped Sansa remain determined. Surely they’d both faced worse odds.

Tyrion soon realized he was gawking and continued his work. He strolled toward another pile of corpses and kissed their frozen forms with his fire.

Once the field separating Winterfell from the Wolfswood was aflame, they returned inside to hear both Jon and Daenerys give their thanks. Sansa only half listened, unable to stop hearing the scratching from within the tombs and the terrified screams that had come from both above and within the crypt.

When dismissed, Sansa did not request a bath nor did she travel to her chambers to rest as many did. She found herself before Tyrion’s door with one hand on the knob and the other knocking. Ever a gentleman, he welcomed her with a wrinkle upon his brow that told her she’d surprised him. She disregarded his pleasantries and turned the lock.

“Sansa,” he breathed. Confusion strained his voice.

She did not respond with words. Instead, she removed her needle necklace and placed it atop his dresser. Next, Sansa started on the fastenings of her dress, carefully undoing the clasps at her neck and following the line to her chest.

“Sansa,” Tyrion repeated, stunned. “What are you doing?”

Her hands stopped their work, and her eyes met his gaze. “You once told me you would not share my bed until I wanted you to.” She grinned coolly, despite the rapid pounding of her heart. “I’m sure you've waited much longer than you would have liked.”

Tyrion shook his head as a small, sad smile took his mouth. “You needn’t do this, my lady.”

“Do not presume to tell me what I need and need not do.” She slowly unfastened another clasp. “The manner in which you looked at me… I don’t think anyone has ever…”

With a soft chuckle, he moved toward her. “You are steadfast and kind and clever, my dear. It would be wrong to look at you in any way beside admiration.” She felt his light eyes walk the path her hands had started and blushed. “We were both afraid, but I like to think braver together.” His hands fisted at his sides, an action she knew was of unease. “Many men will fall in love with you, I think, and many of them will be handsome and decent. You do not owe me any sort of gratitude.”

“Are you insisting that you would not if I plainly offered?” she asked. “Or are you insisting you do not want me? At the very least, you admire me. You said so yourself.”

“Sansa, a man would have to be blind, dumb, and a fool to not want you. And you’re twisting my words.”

“Am I?” She swallowed her insecurity and uncertainty and undid another clasp, revealing the edge of her corset. “Do you believe I am indebted to you?”

“Of course not.”

“Then why do you believe a debt would be my only reason for coming to you?” Another clasp. “You are a good man, Tyrion.”

Her husband from a lifetime ago nervously shifted. “Do not do this.”

Sansa moved to sit upon her heels before him. “I want to be touched by someone who doesn’t yearn to hurt me.” She took one of his hands in her own. “I want you.” With Sansa seated as she was, Tyrion slightly towered above her, and his curls fell forward upon his face.

Whatever reservation he had clung to disappeared when she squeezed his hand. He slipped from her grasp and brought both his hands to her face before he bent to kiss her. It was soft and maybe desperate, but there was no malice. She returned the kiss, opening her mouth and demanding more of him.

“I will remove the rest of your northern dress, wife,” he told. “I only ask that you continue kissing me like that.”

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