The last thing Jon expected to see as he exited his room was Sansa, curled up in the chaise chair, in the middle of the night. She sat with her feet tucked up under a thick fur blanket while she stitched by both candle and firelight. Judging by her focus on the fabric in her lap, Jon doubted she had heard the door open.
Cautiously, he tapped his knuckles against the door frame, “Sansa?”
Despite his caution, her head still snapped up at the sound of his voice, “By the gods Jon! You startled me!”
“Sorry,” He sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. He’d yet to figure out how to get her attention without scaring her. Ghost brushed past him and into the solar. Even with his size, the white direwolf agilely serpentined through the furniture to greet Sansa. Over the past two weeks of living in a shared space, Ghost had become quite attached to Sansa.
As Sansa stalled her sewing to give Ghost the attention he demanded, Jon followed into the room and leaned against the armchair by the fire. Sansa and her handmaid had completely redecorated from the barren solar to a comfortable and welcoming space, complete with new furniture and decorations. Sansa asked for his opinion exactly one time, but he admitted to being hopeless when it came to design and felt confident in her abilities. Needless to say, he was very happy with his decision. It wasn’t like how Lady Catelyn designed it. It was different, it was theirs.
“What are you doing?” Jon asked, clasping his hands together. He had no idea exactly what time it was, but judging by the silence out the window, it was the dead of night.
“Stitching a new dress,” Sansa stated so simply as if it were completely obvious what she was doing. She even lifted the fabric to enunciate her point.
Jon rolled his eyes and then nodded to the window, “Now? It’s the middle of the night.” Not exactly ideal sewing time. He’d picked up on the fact she’d often sew before bed to relax her mind or her nerves.
“Couldn’t sleep.” Sansa shrugged, her head cast down and eyes trained on the fabric of her dress. Her red hair fell in a heavy braid over one shoulder. He had no idea how she maintained it, but even at night, it looked beautiful.
That statement provided little guidance on the true reason for her being up, and why she sat out here and not back in her own room. He had figured out that she had nightmares as he could hear her toss and turn, mumbling in her sleep. Most often, she’d wake herself up, and then he would hear her pace her room and try to slow her breathing. Occasionally, he would hear her cry out for her dead family and then her sobs once she awoke to the painful fact they are gone.
All of this deduced from his own inability to sleep at night. However, she had yet to admit anything to him. Every morning when he asked how she slept, Sansa would respond with a lie that she slept great, despite the growing bags under her eyes. He supposed he did the same, as night was also his least favorite time.
He didn’t want to push and cause her more pain, but he so desperately wanted to help. However, he couldn’t solve a problem that she wasn’t even willing to admit. Twisting his thumbs around each other, Jon darted his eyes back at Sansa, whose full attention had returned to her dress. “Is that all?” he asked.
“Yes,” Sansa laid the dress back down and fixed him one of her famous glares. “And why are you awake?” She turned the question back at him, raising a single eyebrow.
He opened his mouth but quickly shut it, suddenly unable to admit his own demons, keeping him awake at night, and the constant desire to go roam outside the castle walls with Ghost. Instead, he shrugged as he fell into the armchair, “Couldn’t sleep.”
He did his best to ignore Sansa’s smirk, but even he couldn’t hide his smile as he picked up the book of Northern Legends he had been reading. They spent the majority of the rest of the night like that, Sansa occasionally asking about the legend he was on, or Jon commenting on the color of fabric she chose. Both of them painfully avoiding details of their nightmares until they could not hold their eyelids open any longer.
The following three nights, they found themselves in similar situations, just with different tasks or topics distracting them from the terrors they got. At first, they would work as Jon tended to the ledgers and Sansa debated menu options or tasks for the next day. But soon just speaking over logistics of Winterfell fell to the side, and they found other ways to spend their time. They’d played cards, debated court gossip, and if he asked nicely enough, Sansa would sing for him.
He loved her voice. While it may be a biased thought, he did think it was the best out of their bards and minstrels. There was just something about her soprano tones that brought him comfort. She knew songs from the North ballads to Dornish ditties and she would provide ample background on whatever she felt like singing that night.
Tonight, felt different. Sansa started to sing without prompting and sung a low, sad tune about some Jenny dancing with her ghosts. Her sewing remained discarded in a basket in her room, as did her journal of notes for the staff of Winterfell and deck of cards. Instead, her red hair, normally tied back as she slept, fell loose around her shoulders and she tangled her fingers in it as her voice filled the solar.
Jon polished the blade of Longclaw, watching her from the corner of his eye. She seemed unfocused as she stared at nothing in particular, only her lips moving around the lyrics. The rasp of her voice and swipe of the rag against the blade combined with the howl of the wind outside created a haunting feeling in the room. Jon didn’t get cold often, but he couldn’t help but shudder after her singing trailed off.
“I get nightmares,” Sansa whispered. If there had been any other noise in the room, Jon doubted he would have heard her admission. She wasn’t looking at him, but off in the corner.
Jon coughed, feeling obliged to admit that he’d known all along, “I know. I can hear through the door.”
Faster than a candle’s flicker, Sansa looked at him and then away, pulling more of her hair over her shoulder. How had he never noticed how much hair she had? “Don’t you sleep?” She asked. It wasn’t an accusatory tone or anything, more confused as to why he would be up as well. While Sansa had to fall asleep to meet her demons, Jon couldn’t even get his eyes closed.
“Not often. It’s hard since Castle Black.” He explained, balancing Longclaw over his lap and having stopped polishing it for the moment. The truth was he rarely slept anymore, and when he did sleep, it was hardly longer than an hour or so.
Luckily, he didn’t need to elaborate how he spoke over the mutiny as Sansa nodded once before whispering a soft, “Oh.”
What a match they were, two people plagued by the demons of the past and unable to cope so they simply avoided them. The days kept them busy, and now at nights, they had each other to distract themselves.
Neither of them spoke for a while, nor did they do anything. Jon leaned Longclaw against the chair while Sansa laid her head down on the chaise. Taking a deep breath, he willed himself not to return to that night it all went dark and he laid in an abyss of nothing. He didn’t want to think of the pain and betrayal. He didn’t want to think at all.
A log in the fire split in half and Jon welcomed the distraction, standing to tend to it. Perhaps he should check the fires in their bedrooms, assure that they would burn warmly by the time they would retire once more.
Just as he was about to turn to leave the solar, Sansa’s voice softly interrupted him, “Do they still hurt?”
He found her gaze studying him, but was unable to determine what she spoke of, “Hm?”
“There.” She nodded and pointed her gaze to his chest. He hadn’t even realized it, but his hand rubbed right over the scar by his heart. “It’s where they stabbed you isn’t it?”
Glancing down, he shrugged, “They don’t hurt, but I can somehow never forget they are there.” Jon kept his hand there, suddenly wondering how often he absentmindedly rubbed the scars. It must have been often enough for Sansa to have noticed it.
What he said was mostly true. The scars would throb or even burn if he ever found himself moving past what had happened. They were his constant reminder that a part of him would still be in Castle Black, during that night. A part of him would always be dead.
“I understand.” Sansa whispered, curling up tighter on the chaise, “I will never forget Ramsay’s touch or Joffrey’s voice.”
His scars throbbed a little harder, “Is that what your nightmares are of?”
She didn’t answer, but she didn’t need to. Her face told him enough. He supposed it would make sense, every night he returned to his darkest moment, and she was visited by her worst abusers. He could think of a few more who probably would make that list.
“I shall, uh, I shall tend to the other fires.” He had no words and no clue on how to comfort her. No matter how much he practiced his sword or defended their home, this was something he could not solve. Only Sansa could deal with her ghosts and demons. Unfortunately, whatever plagued her persisted into the next few nights.
Jon quickly noticed how the light died behind his wife’s eyes every night when the sky turned to black and stars. She brought so much energy and life into the day-to-day workings and people of Winterfell, but at night, it faded. Whatever nightmare plagued her currently, it had clearly sunk its talons into Sansa, draining her completely.
She would still come and sit with him out in their solar, but rarely engaged in conversation or activity. Instead, her eyes would gloss over, and she’d get lost in thought. Jon kept to himself then, hoping she could pull herself out of it, and shoo the terrors away.
However, every night she only pulled closer into herself, and during the day, faded sooner. She needed something, a distraction. Which is exactly how Jon found himself standing above the chaise with his hand extended down to her. “Teach me to dance.”
“Pardon?” Sansa's bewilderment at his request seemed to pull her from her thoughts. He knew it had been a particularly tough day as Baelish demanded a private audience with her. She left his solar hours later and immediately went to the Godswood, stationing Brienne at the entrance to assure her privacy, allowing only Arya to join her. He never quite knew what Baelish told her, but he had seen the way the ass stared at her: lustfully and wantonly. Jon could guess what Baelish desired.
But this wasn’t about Baelish. This was about Sansa and making her feel more like herself. Jon gestured once more with his hand, hoping she would take it. Currently, she stared at it as if it had grown eyes or sprouted an extra finger. While Jon never considered learning to dance, surely this wasn’t too strange a request. He was King after all and it was beginning to seem odd how he never joined Sansa on the dance floor.
Still, he felt obliged to explain himself, “Come on, I watch you night after night, you are clearly the best dancer in court. And I never received proper training.” Tired of holding out his hand, he dropped it to his side but pleaded with her still to join him.
Sansa glanced fully around the room, before offering the weakest excuse, “There’s no music.”
“So?” Jon shrugged. That was kind of the point. He felt so little confidence in his moves that he did not want anyone to see his attempts at dancing until he knew the steps well. Not even a bard. The only other soul in the room was Ghost and judging by the loud snore only a moment ago, he was oblivious to them.
After another moment of pondering, Sansa returned his shrug, “Alright, fine.” Pushing herself up off the chaise, she asked, “What do you want to learn?”
Jon had already begun to move the chairs to create room for them when her question arrested his motions. He knew painfully little about the dances the court would perform at night. Lady Catelyn kept him far away from dancing lessons as she considered it a skill a bastard would never require. He racked his brain but came up with not a name.
Turning back to Sansa, he smiled sheepishly. It had been his idea, but he had nothing to suggest. Sansa crossed her arms and tapped a foot, waiting for him to speak. All he could do was shake his head to signify its emptiness. Signing once, Sansa joined him in the space he had created.
“This is a current court favorite; they play it nearly every night. It’s a Northern Jig. Upbeat. Northern dances are fair better than the slow pieces of the South.” She explained, grabbing his hand to pull him into the space with her. Her words surprised him, as he could distinctly recall Robb complaining that all Sansa made him practice with her were the slow waltzes of the South. Although, he could think of more than a few reasons that her opinion of dancing had changed over the years.
Shoving the thought out of his mind, he focused on Sansa who stood only a pace away from him. He had no idea what this could bring, but he was willing to try his best, “Alright.”
“First, you bow, and I curtsey,” Sansa lowered into a partial curtsey, dipping her head and holding her robe out in her left hand. “Every dance starts and ends with that.”
“I can manage that.” Jon bowed his head and shoulders, hopefully hiding the nerves that he suddenly felt. Something about this felt odd to him, perhaps it was the memory of Lady Catelyn’s words or the fear of stepping on Sansa’s toes. Or perhaps it was the fact he was about to hold her close, and in the seclusion of their room, it felt almost intimate.
Sansa, however, already seemed more comfortable, and brushed off his nerves, “Don’t worry, this is a fun one. Take my hand, and then bounce-.”
“Bounce?” Jon cut her off before she could even begin to demonstrate. He didn’t mean to, but her choice of words seemed comical. He swallowed the laugh on the tip of his tongue when she crossed her arms and cocked an eyebrow. He wanted to be a good student, so he bounced on the balls of his feet, which, thankfully, caused Sansa to understand his confusion and smile.
“Yes bounce, not like that! Like this,” She demonstrated the step, not quite a hop, but a sort of hiccup step. Jon did his best to mimic the motion but felt his steps paled in comparison. Sansa seemed satisfied though, and grabbed his hand once more, “Decent enough, now we first start apart, then move close, and then apart.”
She walked him through the rest of the steps, stepping around each other, bouncing in and out once more, and then twirling her around a few times. She pointed out the claps and pauses, and most gratefully of all when the dance repeats itself. Her focus was entirely on the steps, but Jon could only focus on her, the determination in her eyes, and the passion as she explained it all. Every time they moved in close, his breath hitched and when she spun under his arm, her smell was intoxicating. Yes, something about dancing felt all too intimate.
Overall, Sansa proved to be a brilliant teacher, and Jon, well, he tried. Luckily, he only stepped on her foot once or twice, and she blissfully ignored it. She convinced him dancing to be more fun than he originally thought. He especially enjoyed making Sansa smile at his terrible steps.
Perhaps it was the late hour or the fact neither of them had gotten much sleep lately but during one of the many twirls they were trying to perfect, Sansa tripped over his feet, exclaiming loudly as she fell back towards the floor. Luckily, Jon was close enough to grab her.
“I’ve got you!” Jon wrapped his arms around her to keep her from crashing to the floor. The smallest gasp escaped her dainty lips before erupting into a belly laugh, unlike he’d ever heard from her before. He pulled her to her feet and looked in confusion at what caused such a noise from her.
Between her chortles, Sansa gasped, “Your face, you should, the look, on your face!” She finally managed to choke out before snorting loudly. It was positively unladylike, and therefore, completely un-Sansa-like.
Her laughter paused as they both stared at each other. Redness crept onto her cheeks as her lips pulled in close and her eyebrowed rose in embarrassment. The next thing he knew, they both descended into deep, loud laughter. He even needed to brace himself on the closet chair and wipe tears from his eyes as Sansa clutched her stomach. Later that night, he slept for longer than he had in weeks, a hint of a laugh still on his lips.
The following night, Jon waited for Sansa to inevitably join him once more in their solar. He sat with a ledger open in his lap but hardly noticed the numbers before him. He focused on her closed door instead. While he had resigned himself to the fact sleep evaded him every night, Sansa still tried to sleep for a while.
After their evening meal, either in private or in the grand hall, they would sit in the solar for a while more, before separately retiring for the night. They’d both ready for bed, but after Jon would hear Hanna leave Sansa’s room for the last time, he would return to their solar, and wait for Sansa to wake back up. This ritual felt a little ridiculous to Jon, but he would keep up formality for her sake.
He buried his hand deep in Ghost's fur as his glare hardened on her door. A few moments before, the telltale sounds of her sleep being ruined had begun. He could hear her sigh, whimper, and even cry out occasionally. Normally by now, she would have startled herself awake, and be taking a few moments to compose herself before leaving her room.
Instead, the cries grew in volume, and words became distinctive, “No, no, please, no!” The fact he could understand them still with the door closed concerned Jon. Silently, he willed her to wake up, and realize that she lived in the safety of Winterfell and not the terrors of her dreams.
Ghost let out a whine just as a shriek erupted from her room. It jolted him out of his chair and release the grip on his direwolf’s white fur. He cared not for propriety or for the fact he hadn’t stepped foot in her room since their wedding night. Every cry stabbed his heart and Jon could not bear to hear her suffer anymore.
In a quick motion, he opened the door and raced to her bed, Ghost trailing behind him. The furs matted around her feet as her face twisted and pulled in pain. A thin line of sweat shined in the moonlight and hair stuck to her forehead. “No! It hurts!”
Grasping her shoulder, Jon shook her awake, trying still to keep his distance. He knew from the Night’s Watch that being awoken from a terror could often be a stark contrast and cause the person to lash out. He did not want to frighten her further. “Sansa, Sansa! Sansa! It’s me! It’s Jon!”
Her eyes blinked open and Jon tried to focus on them, not the heavy rise and fall of her chest. Sansa scrambled back in her bed and darted her eyes around the room. “He’s here I swear. He’s here!” She cried.
Her mind must have brought some of the dream with her as Sansa awoke, causing her to curl back in fear. He didn’t know which 'he' she spoke of, but Jon wished he could run his sword through him now, just to bring some comfort back to her. However, he knew Ghost had followed him into the room and took reassurance in the fact that if someone else had been here, he would have already alerted Jon.
“Shh, no, no, no one is here but me.” Cautiously, he sat on the edge of her bed, palms open so she could see his hands. “You’re safe. Shh.”
Sansa heaved a few times as his words sunk in and then surprisingly enough, threw herself at him. She tightly wrapped her arms around him and sobbed into his chest. Wet tears dampened his shirt as he sucked in a single breath. “Jon,” She whimpered, the saddest sound he’d ever heard.
He’d never been a comfort for her. Growing up she turned to her mother or Robb. And then she went South and she was forced to find what little comfort she could in the Lion’s Den. She’d gotten some of it back when she returned to Winterfell, but it came at the price of Ramsay, and then a forced marriage with him.
Jon was no fool. Their marriage was not a romantic one, nor even one of convenience. It was a requirement, a demand. He’d tried to be a good husband, even though he had no idea how to. He’d tried to give her space, not to force anything. He thought by doing this, he was making their marriage tolerable. Now, having seen her terrors first hand, he was regretting that decision. How could he have let her suffer like this for so long? She was his wife, gods be damned.
Not wasting a moment more, he shifted to hold her better in his arms, to create a haven for her. “I know, Sans, It’s okay, no one is here. You’re safe.” Even though he trusted his wolf, he still scanned the room, assessing for any threats. Thankfully, finding none.
“It felt so real.” Sansa continued to sob, clutching his shirt tightly in her fist. “He was here!”
Jon did the only thing he could think of, remind her that whoever she dreamt of, could no longer hurt her. “Joffrey is dead. Poisoned. Ramsay is dead. Fed to his hounds. The Bolton’s are no more.”
It felt gruesome to remind her of them, but he could feel her sobs slow as she tried to take a breath with each name he rattled off, so he continued. “Tyrion is gone. Banished. The Freys are dead. Slaughtered. Tywin is dead. Shot.”
“But Baelish-.” She shook as she said that name, so Jon pulled her even closer, his resolve sound.
“Will be dead by dusk.” He stated, cradling her head, and pressing a kiss to the top of it, “We’ve waited long enough. It’s time.”
Her head nodded against his chest and she had stopped crying for the moment. She’d found some comfort in his words. “Dead by dusk.” She repeated, her voice trembling in a way that matched her body. “Say it again?”
Bright eyes, still wet with tears that threatened to fall at any moment stared up with him, pleading. He knew it that moment, he would do anything she asked him to. Hell, he’d go and slay Baelish where he slept if she asked. Swallowing, he tried to temper his rage, “Jeffrey is dead,”
“Poisoned.” Sansa settled back against his chest, her shaky breaths beginning to match his as her trembles slowed.
“Aye, poisoned.” He took to stroke her hair and watching the fire burn in the fireplace. “Ramsay is dead.”
“Hounds. Will you stay?” She asked, looking back up at him.
Ghost curled up by the foot of the bed and Jon nodded, “I will sweet girl. I will.” And they stayed like that, rattling off their enemies and their end. Occasionally, Sansa would bring up a new name or Jon added in his own. Some names he knew, others he didn’t. It felt almost cathartic. A reminder, others were dead, but they were alive, and they were going to stay that way. The two of them whispered names back and forth until they both dozed off into a dreamless sleep.
Jon intended to make good on his promise of seeing Baelish dead by the end of the day, but it turned out Sansa hardly needed his help. All she needed was to hear him tell her to do it. She and Arya had planned this whole fake trial, but the accusations were all on Baelish, instead of Arya. Honestly, it was beautifully crafted, and all Jon wanted to do was sit and enjoy Baelish try to dig himself out of this one, knowing he would fail
Sansa laid out all of his crimes against the Starks in a neatly, chronological fashion. Her icy tones knocked Littlefinger down another rung with each accusation, and Bran’s monotone voice confirming each crime with detail only someone who was there would know. Jon Aryan’s death, the role in his Uncle’s false imprisonment and execution, manipulation of countless people, including Sansa, and the death of their aunt.
“Our Aunt dead, our father executed, years of conflict all at your behest. Do you deny it?” Sansa clasped her hands in her lap and leaned forward. Jon had rested his head in against his hand and tried his best not to beam in pride. From their newly carved direwolf thrones, situated at the head of the hall, he certainly had the best seat to witness this.
Sansa looked every bit the powerful Queen he predicted her to become. She wore a new dress, with black leather woven together, almost like armor. She’d pulled her red hair back into a low bun and held her head high, so her silver crown glistened in the light. Jon didn’t know which he liked better: his beautiful, strong wife or Baelish becoming more flustered with every accusation and passing minute.
“I deny it!” Baelish cried, forcing Jon to pull his attention away from Sansa. A thin bead of sweat formed at the top of Baelish’s head, another indication of his coming demise.
“And what of less than a moon ago, when you ordered a man to come into my bed chambers the night before my wedding to rape and defile me. You then gave him the knife to kill himself with before he could be tried, the same knife you threatened my father with years ago. Do you deny it?” She enunciated her question by hitting the armrest of her throne.
The high Lords and Ladies around the room whispered to each other at the newest accusation. The reminder of the attack on Sansa boiled his blood in anger. He was still upset that he never got to try the man guilty of the crime but knowing Baelish would pay tenfold was a sort of comfort.
“This knife, which you claimed belonged to Tyrion Lannister, which was yours all along.” Arya paced around Baelish, tapping the knife in question which was secured on her belt.
“Queen Sansa, everything I have done has been for you, I have protected you. If we could only speak alone, I could explain everything.” Baelish pushed forward, directly towards Sansa, but many people moved to stop him. Both Arya and Brienne came on either side of him, swords partially drawn, and the two guards on either side of their thrones lowered their halberds, creating a barricade between the two royals and Baelish. Even Davos who stood of to his right, took steps to stop Baelish, hand on his hilt.
Jon lifted a hand, stalling his people once Baelish froze, having realized how painfully outnumbered and unarmed he was. Jon hardened his glare and spoke for the first time since this trial had started, “You will never be alone with the Queen.” He almost growled, matching the snarl on Ghost. His direwolf had been curled around his feet, but now stood in between the two thrones.
Despite all the action that took place in quick succession, Sansa seemed completely unbothered. Instead, she began to stroke the top of Ghost's head, who kept his teeth bared. Her docile tones taunted Baelish further. “Sometimes when I’m trying to understand a person, I play a little game. I assume the worst. What is the worst reason you could have to turn my family against each other? It’s all you’ve done.”
“Sansa please.” Baelish pleaded, eyes darting around the room.
“Do not presume to call my sister by her name.” Arya snapped, reminding Baelish of his place.
“Sansa-I-.” Baelish stumbled back a few steps, clearly in shock of his sudden loss of control. Once he backed away from their thrones, everyone seemed to relax a bit as swords were sheathed and halberds raised. He then directed his attention to some of the Knights of the Vale who were in attendance.
“I am Lord Protector of the Vale, I command you take me from this place safely and back to the Eyrie.” He barked, ordering Yohn Royce, the last variable of Sansa’s plan. Jon held his breath as he waited for the older knight’s response.
Yohn Royce paused, before cocking his head to the side, “I think not.”
Baelish let out a dramatic gasp, but Jon could no longer hold back his chuckle. Everything had gone according to plan. Sansa’s plan. Littlefinger being out manipulated was something, a spectacle Jon fully enjoyed. And it was even better that it was at the hand of his brilliant queen. Baelish returned to his original spot in the hall, in the center, completely alone, where he fell to his knees in a final plead.
“Sansa I beg you, I have loved you as I have loved your mother.” He sounded desperate and unhinged, but Jon felt no remorse for the man. His days of torment were over.
“And yet you betrayed me.” Sansa kept the same leveled tone that he had held for the entirety of the trial. She pulled her hand away from Ghost, to open it to Jon who gladly took it. “Thank you for your many lessons Lord Baelish.”
She squeezed his hand ever so slightly but it was enough of a signal for Jon to speak up, “Petyr Baelish, for your crimes against the Starks and the North, we sentence you to die.”
His eyes got impossibly large as he launched his final plead, “Sansa ple-.”
But he did not get to finish his statement because as soon as the sentence passed his lips, Arya was on the move and slit his throat in one quick motion, with the very knife that had caused so much pain over the years.
Arya’s actions were not something Jon had been expecting. She turned back to the two of them and shrugged her shoulders as Baelish choked and spluttered before slumping over, leaking blood, “He wouldn’t shut up.”
That night, as the court ate and fellowshipped in the same hall that had been the site of a trial only hours before, Jon felt himself relax for the first time in a while. He sat at the high table next to Sansa and their family with a plate of boar and potatoes in front of him. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, especially the Knights of the Vale. They couldn’t call it a formal celebration, as it wouldn’t be proper, but it certainly felt as such.
“You almost can’t tell.” Jon leaned over to Sansa so she could hear him over the loud laughter and banter. His eyes were trained on the spot where Baelish lost his life. The servants had done a great job cleaning the blood and the body had already been burned. Petyr Baelish was nothing more than a memory at this point.
Sansa leaned into him, sipping on her wine, “The room certainly feels lighter. No more lurking in the shadows. We can breathe.”
Perhaps most accurately, she could breathe now. He could already tell how Baelish’s death had affected her. The last person tying her back to her childhood in Kings Landing and who manipulated her for years, gone. At first, he had been concerned that she held remorse for killing him as when they left, tears fell from her pretty eyes.
However, when Jon commented on it, Sansa only smiled and said she felt free as if she’d left what was holding her down with Baelish. That was something Jon could understand, as he felt a similar removal of weight after executing the mutineers at Castle Black. Together, they walked to the battlements and watched as some soldiers burned his body. Jon rubbed her back until her tears were no more.
Her giggles as the arm wrestle at the table to the right of them between two bannermen ended with the Manderley winning over the Stark guard brought him back to the present. Yes, the hall was full of a happiness that hadn’t existed when Baelish lived, and it now ran rampant.
“Yes, although I am a little sad, she got the final blow.” Jon nodded to Arya who went to go challenge a spear maiden at that same table. Jon was not even a little surprised that an arm wrestle tournament had broken out and people flocked to test their strength. A part of him knew, with another goblet of ale, he’d go and join the table himself and see if any of his bannermen would challenge him.
“I’m just happy he is dead.” Movement from the left pulled her attention away from Arya winning against the spear maiden. Sansa waved out the bards with their lutes and drums in hand, “Good, the musicians come. I’ve promised Yohn Royce a celebratory dance, so you’ll be left without my singing for the night.”
Already, the empty space in front of them began to fill with eager young couples, wanting to dance. Every time the bards made an appearance, it was a gamble if Sansa would grace the dance floor or join the bards and bless them with her singing voice. Personally, even though Sansa did seem happiest while dancing, Jon loved when she sang. His favorite nights were when she did both.
Tonight, she seemed set on dancing. Jon quickly downed the rest of his ale and mustered up all the courage he had, “I’ll survive. Especially if I could have your first dance.” Cautiously he extended a hand to her. He’d never danced in front of people before, but he so desperately wanted to see that smile and hear that laugh he had only experienced while dancing their demons away in their rooms.
Sansa eyed his outstretched hand and then back up at him. Already a smiling was growing as she exclaimed, “Really?”
“Aye,” He responded, but pulled his hand away just before she could lay hers in it, “but only if it is the one, we’ve practiced.”
His demand was met by feigned annoyance but then the sweetest grin on her face, “Very well, My King.” She stood quickly and Jon followed, her excitement contagious.
Together they stood and walked to the floor, making way by the bards so Sansa could request the song to best fit the dance. He did his best to ignore the claps and jeers of people excited to finally see him join in the dancing.
“My Queen.” He bowed his head as the music started and took Sansa’s hand. Between the loud music and claps, Sansa’s laughter floated on top and her smile shined brightly. A perfect melody that Jon felt certain would become his favorite. A perfect evening surrounded by his people, in his home with one of the threats against them eliminated. A perfect love with his wife.
Did he love Sansa?
The burning sensation radiating from his heart as he twirled her around confirmed that very question.