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what a mess was made upon our innocence

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When Sansa crosses the threshold into Castle Black, she is dressed in grey, her red hair only just starting to peek through the dye. She doesn’t know if her horse or she is closer to dying, but it matters not.

Sansa is unaccompanied, her dear friend Mya Stone dead back somewhere in the woods. Sansa has no idea where. About two moons of travel back towards the Vale, is the extent of her knowledge. Gods, Sansa doesn’t even know in what direction.

Just south.

Just away.

She knows she must carry on just a little longer, knows that she is not safe, not yet; Sansa is all too used to the looks she is now receiving from these men, the supposedly-honourable Night’s Watch members.

Sworn to take no wife, she remembers. That means very little here, at the edge of the world.

Jon. She needs to find Jon.

She must mumble those words aloud, because an eerie silence settles over the courtyard.

“What business do ye have with the dead?” One man grumbles, and Sansa nearly topples from her horse.

“Dead?” she whispers, voice as cracked as her lips.

There’s an uncomfortable shuffle of the men that have come to her, and Sansa realises belatedly they have circled her and her horse.

She’s let her guard down.

Her horse shuffles with agitation, and it snaps a little bit of awareness into Sansa.

Don’t get off the horse, Sansa tells herself, hand tightening around the reigns. It’s of little use, because if these men decide they want her, her darling horse is getting her no farther than Mole’s Town; if even that.

“He’s not dead,” another man snaps harshly.

“He’s my brother,” Sansa says, trying to bring her chin up, trying to look like the Lady she was raised to be. She doesn’t know if works, but that same uncomfortable silence falls over the men.

“Aye, I can take you to him,” someone says, while another says harshly, “Have you seen her? Sister or not, he’ll fuck –“

“Stop!” Another interrupts. “You know he’s not –“

“He’s hardly human, is what he is. Turn back, girl, you’ve no brother left to you here.”

“Is he alive or not?” Sansa asks, voice and grip tight. Her head is swimming, from a lack of food and sleep, and now from confusion, too.

“Technically,” someone answers lowly.

“Bring him to me,” Sansa commands. She won’t get off the horse. These men are clearly exhausted; have clearly just gone through something. Their words are tinted with madness, and are puzzles with little sense.

How can one confuse whether a man is alive or dead?

No, she’s not safe yet. Not until she’s in Jon’s arms.

The mostly-dead horse beneath her is skittish on its feet, and it stops anyone from getting too close to her.

Just a little longer.

 

 

When Jon emerges into the chill of the air, there is a long moment where there is no recognition on his face. She can feel his gaze travel over her, though, the long appraisal of it, and when his foot hits the first step, disbelief floods his expression.

From here, she sees his mouth quirk, sees it open around her name, Sansa, and she is falling from her horse before she realises it.

The men around her part as she stumbles towards him, and Jon, even though he’d seemed unsure at first, sweeps into the courtyard and gathers her in his arms like she belongs there. Like they’ve done this before. Like he knows how well she fits into his arms, even though she’s fairly sure she’s never hugged her half-brother before.

His face buried between her neck and shoulder, Jon tugs her to him tightly on a sharp inhale. When he breaths out, it is with her name on his lips.

Sansa.”

“I made it,” Sansa whispers, not quite able to believe it. Whatever these men had meant, wherever their confusion had come from, Jon is flesh and bone beneath her. He is alive, and his rapid heartbeat proves. “Oh, Jon, I made it. I found you, I found you.”

Jon pulls back from her, just slightly, enough to cup her face in his hands. He isn’t wearing any gloves, and his palms are freezing. She shivers beneath him, but Jon doesn’t move, just continues to stare into her eyes. “How did you get here?”

“My friend . . .” She whimpers, and her eyes fill with tears, even though she wishes they wouldn’t. She is just so tired, so relieved, she can’t contain herself. “She helped me escape, and I – and I – I’ve been riding moons – “

“Escape?” He murmurs, cold thumbs sweeping her cheekbones. “Escape . . . King’s Landing?”

Sansa’s brow furrows up at him. She thought that everyone knew she’d gone missing from King’s Landing years ago.

“No,” she replies slowly. “The Vale. I was . . . There was . . . Oh, Jon, I thought you’d think I’ve been dead all these years.”

Jon’s face shutters and then clears, and Sansa has no idea what she said to inspire such a thing, but then he is pressing her into his arms again.

“Come to my chambers,” Jon says quietly into her ear. “You’re not safe out here with these men.”

Sansa’s fingers bunch in his jerkin, and then she is being tugged along by her hand. She follows after him wordlessly, feeling a chill down her spine at the confirmation of her instincts.

Sansa throws a surreptitious glance over her shoulder as Jon pulls her inside, and almost freezes in place as she locks eyes with a red-haired woman across the way. The woman is tall and beautiful, her hair long and a few shades darker than Sansa’s.

“Don’t look at her,” Jon rumbles from behind her. Sansa inhales sharply, turning back to Jon. He is glaring past Sansa, towards the woman in red. “She is dangerous, too.”

“Have you been surrounded by dangerous people for a long time, Jon?” Sansa asks quietly as she leads her through the halls, hand still twined with hers.

Jon goes quiet, back hunched. He doesn’t answer her, but that’s okay. His silence is answer enough.

 

Jon pours her a cup of ale, and then one for himself, too.

“What happened to you, Sansa?”

Sansa takes a long drink, coughing at the strong burn of it, but she pushes through and takes another swig. She doesn’t want to answer him. She can’t make her mouth push out the words, even if she wanted to tell him.

“What happened to you?” She counters, then pauses, staring into her cup. Softer, she amends, “What happened here? The men out there seemed half-mad.”

Jon’s jaw clenches, but she sees only a flash of it before he’s turned his back to her.

“You don’t want to know.”

“I do,” she disagrees softly. “I do if you want to tell me.”

Jon turns back to her, his body a hard and taut line. He looks like the sigil of their house, a wolf with his hackles raised, ready to fight. Fight her? Sansa wonders. Or the world?

“You shouldn’t have come here,” Jon says finally, his steps light on the wooden ground as he comes to fall into the seat beside her. “It isn’t safe.”

“I was in more danger where I was,” Sansa disagrees, placing her cup on the table. She won’t be made to feel like she made the wrong decision. The gods know the amount of times she’s thought it herself, the amount of times she’d dragged her skirts through the mud or gone to bed hungry or gone days without water, or watched her dear friend die. “I am safe, as long as I’m with you.”

“You can’t trust me, either,” Jon says, with more vehemence to his voice than she expected. His hand clenches around his cup with barely concealed restraint, but Sansa doesn’t feel scared. She should, she supposes. He is telling her in no uncertain terms that she is in danger – and for some reason he believes that she is in more danger here, with him, than she was in Vale, alone – but Sansa doesn’t believe him.

Well, she believes that those men out there are a danger to her. But not Jon. There is nothing so transformative that could have happened to him that would change him so drastically from the boy she knew. No, Jon Snow is a good man. Perhaps the best man. Sansa feels no fear when she’s here with him.

“I do trust you,” Sansa says quietly. “More than I have anyone in years.”

Jon seems to struggle with his words, wetting his lips and taking another drink of ale.

“Your trust is misplaced,” Jon replies finally, but he turns to her with determination blazing across his face. “But I will do my damnedest to keep you safe anyway. None of these men – no one at all – will ever touch you again. I’ll protect you, I promise.”

Sansa reaches across to him, taking his hand in hers. He resists, even though he had so eagerly lead her by the hand earlier, but Sansa persists, wiggling her fingers impatiently. Jon slides his hand into hers, staring down at the intertwined fingers with a puppy-like confusion on his face.

“I know you will,” she says. “That’s why I came.”

Jon’s eyes flick up to hers, his brows pulled down and highlighting the scars across his face. Sansa moves forward, off her chair, so she’s on her knees before him. With her free hand, she reaches up to trace her fingertips over the scars adorning his face.

Jon inhales sharply when her fingers first touch his skin, and Sansa pauses, knowing just how much she hates people touching her face. Sansa lingers, her fingers hovering over him, and Jon’s eyes search her, intense and burning.

Suddenly, her hand is full of his cheek as he nuzzles into her palm. His grip on her hand tightens, just slightly.

“How did you get these?” Sansa whispers, tracing her finger down the length of one that goes directly over his eye.

Jon doesn’t answer, or perhaps doesn’t hear, because he just presses his face further into her touch. His own hand comes up to circle her wrist, thumb smoothing gentle circles around the protrusion of her wristbone, and Sansa practically melts into him the way he is melting into her. Jon’s hand travels further up her arm, the callouses and scars on his hand catching in the fabric of her dress as he goes; perhaps the caress of his hand should feel inappropriate, but Sansa doesn’t even entertain the thought. It is just gentle, just sweet, just tender in a way that feels wholly and completely right.

“I can’t believe this is real,” Jon whispers, hand travelling further to cup her neck. His other pushes into her hair at her temple, his eyes still closed, and Sansa’s own flutter shut at the sensation of his fingers gently scraping across her scalp as he moves to cup the back of her head. Their foreheads press together, breath mixing between them, and something odd and hot starts to settle low in Sansa’s belly. “That you’re here.”

“Did you think I was dead?” Sansa questions quietly, feeling a pit of guilt.             She knows exactly what it’s like to think all of her family lost to her; surely Jon can’t have mourned her too much, but to know that you’re the only Stark left . . .

“No,” Jon replies, his voice croaking, “I thought I was.”

Sansa opens her eyes, and even though his are still closed, she roams her gaze over his face, trying to find a clue into what he means. He looks . . . gods, he looks old. He looks like he’s lived more lives than any other man, like he is trying to hold the whole world together but barely succeeding in holding himself together. He has deeply etched frown lines, too many scars for one so young, and a dip at the corners of his mouth that looks like it won’t ever turn up again.

Her heart aches for him.

“You’re alive,” Sansa whispers, pressing her fingertips further into his cheek to prove it to both of them. “You are alive, Jon. I’m alive. We’re together again. It’s just you and me now, Jon.”

With her eyes open, Sansa see’s the exact moment Jon opens his own. It is not a gentle thing, not a curious thing like her own; it is a burning, intense thing, so intense that Sansa gasps and pulls back from him slightly. Jon doesn’t let her go far, his grip on her head gentle and yet demanding.

“You and me,” he repeats fiercely, pulling her forward so he can press a hot kiss to her forehead.

Sansa hasn’t felt so safe and loved in years.

 

Over the next few weeks, Jon doesn’t much let her leave the rooms. Truthfully, she has no desire to leave anyway – it is too cold out there, even for her tastes, and those men and that woman scare her (and, not coincidentally, it is their presence that makes Jon so hesitant to let her walk around) – but when the air starts to get stale and Sansa is ready to tear her hair out with boredom, she puts her foot down.

Jon accompanies her, her hand hooked through his elbow as they take a turn about the walkways. They don’t speak much, and Sansa doesn’t miss the way Jon’s eyes are darting about, and how tense he is under her touch. He looks entirely uncomfortable, and Sansa’s not convinced that it’s just because of her.

In broken words, he has whispered to her words of betrayal, of his brother’s sliding a cold knife between his ribs. He hasn’t spoken all the words, but Sansa has figured out enough for herself. She doesn’t blame him for being on edge around these men.

Still, she wishes they could talk. She has quickly become used to having free conversation with him, even if his tongue doesn’t work as smoothly as hers. Truthfully, she rather likes how he stumbles over his words when it’s just the two of them.

He never seems to have that problem when he addresses his men as Lord Commander, and Sansa loves the sweet dichotomy of it. It’s almost like she makes him nervous, unsure of himself, and Sansa likes the sound of that.

He makes her nervous, too.

Oh, not scared. Never scared. But he is just so . . . so . . . Sansa doesn’t know what it is. If she didn’t know better, she might liken it those little flutters her tummy erupted in as a silly girl, when she pictured her life beside the handsome King. But she does know better. Jon is her half-brother.

You can lie to everybody else but not to yourself, you silly girl, some terrible, sweet voice whispers in her ear.

Just when the silence between them starts to become stifling, and Sansa is of half a mind to either start chirping away or ask to go back, the Castle Black gate groans open.

Jon’s lip pulls back from his teeth. “I haven’t given them leave to open them,” he grinds out.

Sansa squeezes his forearm, trying to effuse some calm back into him.

“They know how to do their job,” Sansa reminds him.

Jon glances down at her, and even though he doesn’t lose the curl to his lip, even though it likely gets even more wolf-like, he doesn’t snap out any harsh commands.

On their way down to the courtyard, a man rushes up to them.

“The men from Greyguard, Lord Commander,” he says.

“Finally,” Jon mutters, a disgusted look settled on his face as he glances down at the small group of men making their way into the courtyard. At her questioning glance, he explains, “I sent for them more than a moon’s turn ago.”

“Thank you,” Sansa says to the man who gave them the news. The man gives her a shy smile, and Jon pulls her tighter to her side, throwing a glare at him for good measure. Sansa rolls her eyes. “You have to be polite, Jon.”

“I don’t have to be anything,” he mutters, though he does drop his glare.

His muscles are still tense, though, as he watches the small contingent greet their brothers. Sansa wonders why he isn’t going down to greet them, like he should, when suddenly she catches sight of a man she thought she’d never see again.

When Janos Slynt’s eyes halt in their perusal of the courtyard to fall on she and Jon, Sansa feels like her veins turn to ice.

It is like she is in King’s Landing again, the way her body reacts. Fear makes her want to fall to her knees, the only place she knew that satiated Joffrey’s rage enough. She can hear the sound of her dress tearing by the hands of the very man she is now locking eyes with; her back aches with the feel of the flat of his blade hitting her.

“Sansa?” Jon murmurs beside her, now turned completely to her. She realises she is shaking, but she can’t stop, and she can’t tear her eyes from Slynt. “What’s wrong? Are you alright?”

Sansa opens her mouth to say something, anything, hopefully a command for him to take her back to his rooms, but instead a tumbling, rage-induced string of words come out. “I want you to kill him, Jon.”

“What?” Jon asks, clearly surprised. His eyes are wide when she finally looks over to him, his lips parted. She’s not seen such a look on his face since she arrived back to his arms. “Who?”

“Slynt,” Sansa says, voice hard. Jon’s face darkens. “His betrayal caused our father’s death.”

“I know,” Jon replies, and again his lip is curled. “I’ve longed to kill him since he arrived here, but I’ve never been given reason enough.”

“He killed our father,” Sansa repeats, furious that that’s not reason enough.

“Westerosi events have no place here,” Jon admits reluctantly. “I couldn’t be his Lord Commander and kill him for a crime I have no jurisdiction over.”

If she were thinking rationally, Sansa would say that that was very politically astute of him. To put aside personal grievances to rule wisely and justly; their father would be proud.

But, no, she isn’t thinking rationally. All she is thinking about is the sound of his armour sliding, metal against metal, as he descended upon her, a girl, a child, and beat her bloody in front of a whole court of people.

“He hurt me,” Sansa informs Jon. His gaze seems to focus in on her, grows even more intense as he stills and stare at her. “He beat me, with his fists and his sword, on the command of Joffrey. I was just a girl, but that never stopped him. Jon, he –“

“Stop,” Jon grinds out through clenched teeth. His eyes have fallen shut, and his jaw is taut and tight; his hand curls over the rail, and the leather of his gloves creak in protest. “Don’t . . .”

“I want you to kill him, Jon,” Sansa repeats, stepping closer to Jon. For so long while stuck in King’s Landing, Sansa had dearly wished a brave knight would come and save her; would take Slynt’s head from his body, and prove once and for all what a true knight is. She had never pictured that knight to be Jon, but now she is here, she is glad that it is. “For what he did to our family. Our father. To me.”

It is the last that makes his eyes fly open. The weight of his hands settle against her waist and pull her closer to him. Sansa has to brace her palms against his chest to stop herself from stumbling.

“I will,” he agrees simply.

His hands fall from her waist, and then he turns away from her, his steps heavy on the stairs as he descends. When Sansa turns back to Slynt, there is fear in his wide eyes as he stares up at her.

Sansa’s own lip curls over her teeth.

 

Sansa doesn’t know what reasoning Jon uses to pull Slynt up on the podium.

She knows it sets the men around her to unease, can feel it in the way they shuffle around, and deep inside, she knows that she and Jon are making a mistake. This is not the time for revenge, for flimsy reasons to execute men.

But the wolf inside her howls with the desire to see this man’s head roll on the ground.

Beside Sansa, someone shuffles close to her. Sansa turns, and sees the dark red hair of the woman Jon says brought him back to life.

“I thought my god had brought back the wrong man,” the red woman says slowly, her eyes trained up to the podium.

Sansa turns her eyes up there herself. Jon looks so much like their father, clad in his black cloak, hair tied up at the back of his head, sword in hand.

“Until you arrived,” she murmurs. “You’ve changed him.”

“I haven’t,” Sansa disagrees, even though even she’s noticed how different he is now to what he was when she arrived. Still, he’s nothing like she remembers. “Your god shouldn’t have brought him back. You should have let him rest.”

Sansa believes those words, she truly does, because she knows better than most just how heavy the weight of existence can be; but there is still a selfish part of her that delights in the fact that she is not alone. That she found him alive and not dead.

“I saw a vision of you,” the woman says softly, ignoring Sansa’s words. “He and I both thought it your other sister . . . But here you are.”

“Here I am.”

“His girl in grey.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“I shall call you what I please,” Melisandre says. She folds her hands over her stomach, then looks up to watch Jon herself. “Lady Stark. Girl in grey . . . Nissa Nissa.”

Sansa feels a pit of frustration and turns to Melisandre with a scowl. “Enough of your riddles,” Sansa spits. “If you’ve seen the truth in your flames, then you know who this man is.”

Melisandre’s mouth ticks up in a smile. “Yes, I do,” she confirms. “But I should think I know more about how this day is going to end than you.”

Sansa grits her teeth. “Enough. Leave me, now, or else the Lord Commander might find himself inclined to put another neck on that chopping block.”

“You do seem to have such persuasion over him,” Melisandre agrees quietly, and then disappears with a brush of her skirts.

Sansa ignores the odd twisting in her gut, and determinedly turns back to the podium.

Jon is staring at her, his eyes dark and unreadable, but as soon as they catch with hers, he lifts his sword from the ground.

When he swings it down and disconnects Janos’ head from his shoulders, Sansa feels nothing. There is no relief, there is no sadness; there in no guilt nor is there joy.

There is just another man dead.

When Jon lifts his eyes again, finding her in the crowd, his sword now slick with red, Sansa feels something start to burn in her belly. Her heart starts to beat louder and faster in her chest, and her tongue darts out to wet her lips, even though she doesn’t quite know why.

That’s a lie. She knows exactly why.

Jon doesn’t hand Longclaw off to a steward, like he probably should. No, instead he holds the hilt of it by his side as he comes through the dispersing crowd to her side.

“I want to go back to your rooms,” Sansa tells him as soon as he’s in front of her, her eyes trained on his bloody sword.

“I think that’s for the best,” he agrees.

“You’re coming,” she says, brow arched.

Jon wets his lips, tongue sliding along the top lip, and Sansa’s eyes follow the movement.

“Aye,” he says, voice pitched as low as she’s ever heard it. “I’m coming.”

Sansa turns on the spot, determined to keep some kind of control even though she knows where this is going. She has known for a while, now. But this, this, Jon executing the man who so thoroughly hurt her on her askance; she finds herself with very little restraint.

He must find very little, too.

As soon as they are in his chambers, Jon’s heavy hands are gripping her waist. He pulls her to him, hips against hips, and nuzzles his nose across the hairline at her temple.

“Do you want me to leave?” Jon asks, mouth open and hot against her cheek.

Sansa digs her nails into the leather stretched across his back. “No. Stay with me.”

Jon hums, a rumble deep in his chest, then uses his teeth to pull his gloves from his hands. Skin bare, he lazily drags her skirts up her legs. He bunches them in one fist, high on her waist, and then skims his fingers down the plump of her bottom, along the edge of her small clothes.

“I told you that you couldn’t trust me,” Jon murmurs. “You’re my sister, and you can’t even trust me not to touch you.”

“I can trust that you’ll do as I ask,” Sansa replies, then tilts her chin up, moving her head slightly so that her mouth hovers over his.

When Jon kisses her for the first time, Sansa has little thought to spare for the fact that they are half-siblings, that this is a sin in the eyes of all.

No, no, all she can think is that he tastes like ale, like leather, and that the air is tinged with the metallic blood of the man Jon had so easily executed on her request; and when he licks his tongue into her mouth, Sansa is helpless against the tide.

She moans, lifting one hand to fist the curls at his nape.

It is apparently all the encouragement he needs to go from toying with the edge of her smallclothes to dipping his fingers beneath them. The chill of his fingers against her hot skin is enough to make Sansa hiss and pull her mouth from his, but it takes only a moment for Jon to spread his fingers between her slit and make Sansa’s eyes roll back.

She’s never felt anything like this before.

Jon hums against her again, and Sansa feels the vibration down to her toes. She shudders against him, swaying on her feet. With the hand gripping her skirts, Jon steadies her, and as he leans back against the door and rests her across his chest, he kicks her feet further apart.

When he slides a finger inside her, Sansa takes only one second to think of the fact that she’s never let a man do this before, never done it to herself before. It doesn’t take her long to think that she should have been letting Jon do this since she got here. He works at her and works at her, enough so that she becomes a trembling mess in his arms; and then he pulls his hand from her cunt and leads her to his bed.

“There’s no going back from this,” he warns, as Sansa lays her back on top of his furs and pulls her skirts up.

She lets her legs fall apart, and then Jon’s eyes fall from hers and to the apex of her thighs. His hands run down the smooth skin of her legs, and then he kneels on the edge of the bed, his mouth falling to hover over her smallclothes.

His hot breath, even through the fabric, and is enough to make Sansa buck her hips from his bed.

“I don’t want to go back,” Sansa says, breathless. “Gods, Jon, just, please –“

He pulls her smallclothes from her quickly and deftly, and then his mouth descends on her properly.

Sansa’s back arches from his bed.

 

Jon hovers over her, sweat-slicked curls sticking to either side of his face, elbows planted either side of her head.

She is gasping and mewling beneath him, but she is long past having any control over that; that was maybe three, maybe four, peaks past.

On a ragged, panted breath, he lowers his face to hers, and groans, “Did you like that, sweet sister?”

He punctuates his question with a series of quick, deep thrusts that make her body slide up the bed. She has to put her hands above her head to stop the top of it from hitting the wall, but Jon doesn’t slow down. Instead, he pulls from her and flips her body over, pulling her hips up so her back is arched and he can fuck into her again. 

His chin pressed into her shoulder, Jon pants into her ear, “Did you like that I killed him for you? Did you like watching it?”

Sansa muffles her answering groan into the pillow, determined not to give him the satisfaction, but he can likely tell the answer just from the way her cunt flutters around him.

Jon drags his fingers against her jaw, turning her head so she can’t hide her noises, and then he asks again.

“Say it, Sansa,” he grunts, but his hips slap against her arse so hard she can’t form any words and she doesn’t know how he expects her to. “Say you liked watching me kill him for you.”  

Sansa groans, shuddering beneath him.

“I liked that you – “ She interrupts herself with a yelp as his other hand slides underneath her to rub at her nub. Oh, gods, she really can’t speak when he’s doing this, it just feels too good, yes, keep going, she’s so close.

“Sansa,” Jon commands, sitting up so his chest is no longer pressed into her back. He trails his fingers down her spine, and Sansa’s fingers tighten in the pillow and her mouth falls open. “Say it.”

“I liked that you did what I asked,” Sansa admits in a tumble, anything to make sure he keeps going, “I used to – oh, oh, oh – I used to picture a brave knight coming to stop him from hurting me.”

“No one’s ever going to hurt you again,” Jon growls, and Sansa falls over the edge yet again, writhing beneath him. 

Jon pulls out from her, painting the back of her thighs with his seed. Sansa can’t even lift her head she is so exhausted, but Jon collapses beside her, thigh wedged between hers, and gently pushes her hair from her face and shoulder.

Sansa watches him through half-closed lids, as she tries desperately to fight her tiredness and stay awake.

“Thank you,” Sansa mumbles.

Jon chuckles from beside her, an amused thing that lights up his usually dour expression. “What for?”

“For executing him.”

The smile is wiped from Jon’s face, but that is unsurprising.

“It won’t be taken well. I fear I might have put you in danger.”

Sansa takes his hand, resting it underneath her cheek as she finally lets herself close her eyes.

“You’ll protect me,” she whispers. “You promised.”