Sansa got up from her chair, and picking up the jug of mulled wine, began to refill all the glasses as Doc launched into his next tale. Everyone was laughing and joking and enjoying themselves thoroughly.
It was good to see everyone together, happy and healthy and in good spirits. It almost wasn’t that way. Sansa thought of how many times over the past ten months that someone had been hurt or almost died. Then she thought about how all those times had turned out okay. But what if they hadn’t?
Sansa put her hand on Sandor’s shoulder. Her turned and smiled at her then went back to listening to Doc’s joke. Sandor was still a little sore, but three weeks later, his bullet wound was almost completely healed and the three broken ribs were well on the mend.
When Sam and Gilly had first arrived for the Christmas holiday, they were amazed and delighted at Sandor’s lack of transformation. Sam had been worried that his uncle would get a more dramatic procedure changing the look of his face. Sam and Gilly were relieved that the changes he made were more for quality of life than for vanity. Both of them had also noted a marked difference in the attitude of the people of Leeston. Everything was working out for the best.
Talk of the kidnapping incident was kept to a minimum. Nick and Doc were told what happened when Sandor and Sansa had arrived back at the cabin. When Sam and Gilly arrived they were filled in. It went no further than that, because everyone wanted to focus on the joy of the season. The tragedies were in the past, those tragedies had been survived, and they had moved on.
Sansa was till drifting away in her thoughts when she heard Nick ask a question. Sansa heard Sandor answer it, but it wasn’t until Sandor lightly shook her arm that she snapped back to the present.
“Hmmm?” she asked, blinking.
“What about you?” Nick asked. “Are you looking forward to the trip to Hawaii?”
“Of course. I’ve been there before but only just in Honolulu in a huge resort in the city, so it won’t be anything like where we’re going.”
Lord Varys had invited them to stay for three weeks. They had pushed the trip off until the end of January. Travel was less hectic now that most people were back to their post-holiday lives and things had settled down in Leeston allowing Sansa to take the extended vacation.
It took some hand-holding, soothing words of encouragement, and a little bit of alcohol, but Sansa did manage to get Sandor on the plane. It was his first time flying. Sandor successfully checked off a lot of firsts in that one trip, but he delighted in every moment of it.
The flight took them to Honolulu on O’ahu. From there, they took a second flight to Lihue on Kauai. At Lihue airport, Sandor and Sansa were surprised to find a limo driver waiting for them. It was Lord Varys’ personal driver come to pick them up and drive them directly to the northwest corner of the island, over an hour away.
When they finally arrived, they were shocked and amazed – by both their host and his home.
Lord Varys was short, round, and very bald. Like, Telly Savalas bald. He was dressed in a silk kimono with an elaborate pattern of bright pink tropical flowers and brilliant green palm fronds.
“My dear friends. I’m so glad you’ve finally arrived.” He walked with his arms out toward Sandor. “Sandor Clegane. Finally, after all these years.” He shook Sandor’s hand covering it with both of his.
Lord Varys turned his attention to Sansa. “Ah yes. The prince has brought his princess. Come, my dear,” he said to Sansa with his arms held wide. He gave Sansa a warm hug, then held her at arm’s length and looked her up and down. He gave Sandor a look of approval.
“You’ve done very well for yourself, my friend,” he told Sandor.
“Lord Varys, this place is amazing … and it’s so huge,” Sansa remarked.
Lord Varys explained that he preferred to be remote, but not too remote. His home had once been an out-of-the-way resort that had gone bankrupt. He purchased the resort and the surrounding property and had it renovated to his needs. It was perfect for the solitude and space he required. The property was large enough for him to have as many guests as he wanted, but still have his private space.
“And I do like having my parties.” He laid a hand on Sandor’s arm. “It’s a shame you couldn’t have attended one of my parties over the years, but I do understand the need to hide oneself away.” Lord Varys led them through the main house to a wide set of double doors. “I don’t ever leave my home, but then why would I want to when I have all this?” He flamboyantly threw open the sliding doors. Beyond was the most amazing view either Sandor or Sansa had ever seen. The neatly tended yard was laboriously crafted with ornate gardens, wide swaths of green grass and bordered with picture perfect palm trees. Beyond the yard was a wide black beach, and beyond that, the open ocean.
It truly was paradise.
Over the next three days, Lord Varys and Sandor went over all the paperwork and negotiations from their agents and HBO executives until they were satisfied enough to sign all the agreements and begin working on Dragon Games within the next few months.
Each day, Lord Varys would appear in a different kimono of varying designs. Some were a plain solid color, some bore elaborate designs in a multitude of patterns, but he only ever wore his kimonos.
The three of them were sitting around one afternoon having tea on the lanai. Now that the business end of things had been completed, they were enjoying casual conversation, and Sansa and Sandor’s vacation could begin.
“I’m so glad you opted for only minimal improvements during your cosmetic procedures,” Lord Varys commented to Sandor. “Your face has character like no other.”
“You knew about his surgery?” Sansa asked, surprised that Sandor had shared it with him.
“Why, of course, my dear. Sandor tells me everything.” Lord Varys leaned forward and placed a hand on Sansa’s knee. Surprisingly, it did not feel creepy in the least. She felt only the warmth conveyed by his words.
“Sandor and I have been close friends for many years. In fact, I think he’s my only true friend.”
“But you only just met for the first time three days ago.” Sansa was confused.
“Oh, yes, but we’ve been corresponding regularly for more than 15 years.” Lord Varys fluttered a hand at this throat. “Your Sandor writes the most marvelous letters. Sad how the art of letter writing is nearly dead. Anyway, Sandor and I have come to know each other very well through our letters. Oh, and the phone conversations. We’ve had many long phone conversations over the years.” Lord Varys looked down at his Mickey Mouse watch.
“Oh,” he exclaimed. “I have some urgent business to attend to. Why don’t the two of you go for a nice stroll on the beach?” Lord Varys stood quickly and scuttled off through the house. “Ta ta,” he said waving over his shoulder.
Sansa and Sandor walked along the shoreline holding hands and watching as their toes disappeared into the black sand. A warm breeze whipped around them making them feel like everything was right with the world.
It wasn’t long before they came to a large boulder at the edge of a sand dune. Sandor led Sansa over to it and they sat down. They stared out over the endless expanse of ocean and horizon. Sandor put his arms around Sansa and hugged her close. He kissed the top of her head, then turned her face up and stared down into her blue eyes.
“Thank-you for coming into my life,” he told her.
Sansa smiled. “I think it was you who came into my life first when you pulled me out of the mud.”
Sandor kissed her passionately for a long time. When he finally broke their kiss, he said, “Can I ask you a question?” Sansa nodded.
Suddenly, Sandor slipped off the edge of the rock and knelt in front of her. From out of thin air, he opened his hand and produced a small velvet box. Sansa gasped. Before she had a chance to react, Sandor opened the box and the question came.
“Will you marry me?” It was the perfect little diamond ring, held out to her by the perfect man. Sansa burst into tears. She nodded excitedly, tears flowing, too emotional to get any words out. Sandor took the ring from its box and slipped it onto her slim, delicate finger. It fit perfectly. When she looked up at Sandor, there were tears in his eyes. Sansa leapt forward and hugged him so tightly, that Sandor lost his balance and fell backwards onto the volcanic sand beach. They laughed and kissed as they rolled on the wet sand.
As they walked back to the resort, Sandor suddenly stopped and turned to Sansa. “Will you marry me today?” he asked her.
“What?” As if the proposal wasn’t enough, Sandor had shocked and surprised her again.
“Will you marry me today? Marry me here in this perfect paradise?”
Sansa wanted to say yes. She wanted to leap into Sandor’s arms and say, “Yes, yes, yes!” but she couldn’t. A sad look came over her.
“I can’t, Sandor, not today. Not without my family. Not without your family.”
Sandor was disappointed, but he understood. It would be selfish of them to not include the family that she hadn’t seen in almost a year. Sandor agreed that he would want Nick Davos, Doc Tormund, and Sam to be with him.
They climbed the steps onto the deck and up to the wide sliding doors that led inside. Before they went in, Sandor picked up her hand and admired the ring he’d put on her finger. He’d chosen it himself and it suited her perfectly. He kissed her hand then kissed her lips.
Reaching over her, Sandor pulled the doors apart. When Sansa turned around, everyone was there. Everyone. She scanned the room with her mouth hanging open. Catelyn, Arya, Jon, Bran and Rick and their girlfriends all stood waiting. Nick and Netti Davos were standing next to Sam and Gilly. Doc was standing next to Lord Varys and eyeing him peculiarly.
Sansa didn’t know who to run to first. It had been so long since she’d seen any of them, she was frozen to her spot. So they came running to her. Everyone hugged her at once, embracing each other.
When she finally got herself under control, Sansa used the sleeve of her shirt wipe the tears from her face. Everyone congratulated them. Sansa turned to Sandor and hugged him. He picked her pick off the ground and embraced her as tightly as he could.
“But … how?” she asked bewildered and amazed. Sandor pointed to their host. “Lord Varys arranged everything. He’s very good at keeping secrets,” Sandor advised with a wink.
Sandor set Sansa on her feet and got down on one knee. “I’m going to ask you again,” he told her. “Will you marry me today? Will you marry me here, now, in this perfect paradise … with all our friends and family?”
“Yes,” Sansa said. “Yes!”
While Lord Varys and his staff got the grounds prepared for the ceremony, Sansa was introduced to the new girlfriends in the family. Bran’s girlfriend was Tarah, and Rick’s girlfriend was Linda.
Jon walked up to Sansa and gave her a long embrace. They hadn’t seen each other since Catelyn had kicked him out years earlier. Sansa knew how hard it was for him to be here, but he was here for Sansa, and he’d had no intention of missing this.
“You look amazing,” he told her. His devilish grin was just as she remembered. “I want you to meet someone.” He gestured behind him to a feisty-looking redhead with freckles and a long braid. “This is my fiancée, Ygritte.”
Sansa welcomed her to the family and chatted with them for a few minutes. She hated not being able to talk longer, but there were so many things to do. “I have to find a dress to wear and I have no idea who will be marrying us and –”
“Uh, that would be me,” Jon piped up.
“You?” Sansa asked in disbelief. There had been so many surprises already today.
Jon nodded. “I got my license a few years ago. Up where I am it’s pretty remote and many of the men are pretty religious. You have to be when you’re doing the kind of work we are and under those conditions.” Jon spread his arms wide and grinned. “So I’m a minister!” he announced.
“Thank-you, Jon. I wouldn’t want anyone else to marry us,” Sansa said hugging him again. She turned sad again. “I just wish Robb could have been here. Have you talked to him?”
Jon nodded. “A few days ago. He sends his regrets and best wishes. He tried to get leave but …” Jon shrugged. That’s just the way it was.
Jon wasn’t the only one full of surprises. Lord Varys presented Sansa with a full length white silk kimono. The style was close fitting to accentuate her curves, but it was a wrap dress so that it could be tightly wound around her resulting in the perfect fit no matter her size. The fabric was thin, delicate and stunning.
As Sansa was ready to make her way to the open grounds of the resort for the ceremony, a commotion broke out. Sansa looked out the window to see a helicopter flying in low. Ready to go out to her family and friends, Sansa arrived in time to see the helicopter taking off again in the distance. A man in combat fatigues rushed toward her with a duffel bag in his hands.
“Did I make it in time?” Robb said as he hugged her and swung her around. Sansa laughed and cried. Now everything was perfect.
Jon stood before them and read from a small leather book.
“We are gathered here today in the sight of God, family, and friends to witness the union of man and wife, one flesh, one heart, one soul, now and forever.”
“Who comes before God to ask His blessing?”
“I do,” Sansa answered.
“Who comes to claim her?”
“I do," answered Sandor.
“Sansa, do you join this man freely, to take him as your protector, your friend, and your husband?”
Sansa raised her eyes to gaze upon Sandor's adoring face. Tears slipped from her eyes and ran down her cheeks. “I do,” she promised.
“Sandor, do you join this woman freely, to take her as your protector, your friend, and your wife?”
“I do.” Sandor knelt before Sansa and held her hand in his. Jon wrapped a red ribbon around their hands.
Sandor said his vow. "In the sight of God, we seal our souls, binding them as one for eternity. I am yours and you are mine from this day until the end of our days.”
Sandor kissed her hand, then stood and let the ribbon fall to the floor. He kissed her tenderly. "I will love you forever," he told her.
And that's how it was until the end of their days.