“Your grace, we have him.”
Sansa slowly lifted her stoic face away from the warm hearth of her solar towards the Northman in her doorway.
“Are you certain?”
“Yes, your grace. Lady Arya also helped in the search. He was the largest man in the Red Keep... well, other than the huge bugger crushed under him.”
A slight but sad smile curled into her lips as she let out a small noise of acknowledgement under her breath. So he completed his mission. Hopefully that gives him some peace.
“Thank you, ser. I shall see to him right away.”
The man bowed awkwardly, unsure of how to read his Queen, her ice veneer never betraying what stirred underneath.
Her movements were not hurried as she made her way through the keep. Her heart hammered in her chest as she desperately tried to keep the strands of her composure from unraveling. Each step forward felt further away than the last. Lost in her thoughts she somehow arrived at the aged ironwood door.
Her feet remained planted to the cool dark stones of the floor as she stared at the ancient door. She lifted her hands and brushed them across the cold iron of the door, stalling just a moment longer to collect herself.
Sansa gently applied pressure to the door through her shaking fingers. She closed her eyes against the deafening creaking that echoed through the damp corridor. She didn’t dare open them until the ancestral door slid open enough for her to quietly slide through.
She carefully opened her eyes and the sight in front of her caused her to immediately fall to her knees as she choked on the sobs that erupted from her chest. She snapped her eyes away from what laid before her, squeezing them shut as tears forced their way out.
Gentle cries reverberated against the dark walls as she willed herself to stand up. You are the Queen of the North, not a little bird anymore. She shakily straightened out her gown as she brought herself back to her feet. After a few deep breaths Sansa wiped away the tears staining her cheeks and took a deep breath in, then out. She lifted her eyes and began to process the sight before her.
The pine box was much larger than she expected, but then again he was much larger than most men. It was simple but sturdy wood, made strong enough to carry his enormous frame from King’s Landing to Winterfell. A rather nondescript sword was the only thing adorning the box. It was meager, even for the second son of a minor house. Especially not the sword of a knight, but of course, he never was one.
She didn’t realize her feet had been carrying her until her hands spread out across the rough texture of the box. She stared at the sword until her vision became too clouded to make out its shape. She blinked away the tears as they fell to wet the pale wood surface in front of her.
A small hand suddenly appeared on top of her own. Her frayed nerves caused her to start, but her body quickly began to soften as she recognized the face of her sister.
Arya didn’t need to say anything. She merely looked up at her sister, her queen, and gently squeezed Sansa’s hand within her own before they slowly began leaning against one another, draping their joined hands over the pine.
And there they stood, in the solemn silence occasionally punctuated with a light sob or sniffle. They both reflected on how they all ended up here and what the future had in store now. Neither was really satisfied with the path laid out before them.
Shaking herself of the tunnel vision she had been trapped in, the room began to come into focus. This place held such sadness yet much comfort for Sansa. The effigies of their most treasured loved ones surrounded the sisters. Their father, mother, brothers, grandfather, uncle, looked over the intimate scene.
She silently prayed for each of her departed family members, wishing more than anything to have their guidance now.
Sansa looked back toward her younger sister and their eyes met immediately. A tearful smile played at the corner of Arya’s mouth as she gently nodded.
She stood, her eyes never leaving the wooden lid in front of her. She slowly leaned over, her finger tips tracing the rough texture of the wood as she made her way toward the head of the box. She held her breath as she closed her swollen wet eyelids and pressed her lips against the wood. As she pulled away she let go of the breath that was captive in her lungs and rested her forehead against the rough surface of the pine lid.
Pulling herself up, she glanced around the crypts of Winterfell. There stood an impressive stone form. It reflected him as he was in life; strong, reserved, and a head taller than most other men. The face as perfect as Sansa remembered, the memorized lines and features painstakingly described to the sculptor.
Standing beside the stone man was a much smaller one. Sansa looked at the reflection of herself and smiled. Not today, her sister would say.
She felt Arya’s hand sneak it’s way into hers and she was brought back to her body. They looked at one another and after a breath looked back toward their precious cargo. Sansa cleared her throat.
“You’re home, Sandor Clegane.”