Jeyne Lannister (Westerling, Stark) follows her husband into the the Gates of the Moon in the waning days of winter as they hopefully start to fade to spring. The war has not reached any sort of closure, as Stannis Baratheon’s host continues to trouble the Boltons in the North. Aegon Targaryen has taken control of the Stormlands, and the Lannisters need the support of the Vale if they plan on keeping the throne.
Petyr Baleish, Lord Protector of the Vale, greets them with all the pomp afforded to envoys from the crown.
“This is my baseborn daughter, Alayne Stone,” he says, and Jeyne’s heart stops when she sees her. From her cheekbones to her half-frown to her eyes, the girl is almost a perfect replica of Catelyn Stark. Aside from the brown hair, she looks like she could be her daughter.
“Alayne will show you to your chambers, Lady Jeyne,” he says, and the tone in his voice and the look in his eyes almost looks far different than fatherly affection. The girl affords her a small, almost certainly fake smile as she leads her out of the hall.
The Gates of the Moon is a drafty, cold castle, but Jeyne supposes that’s only natural. It is one of the highest castles in the realm, and winter is coming. Robb only said the Stark words to her once, but they’ve been seared into her brain.
It’s almost a minute into the walk before Jeyne manages to say something tactless. She’s naturally a tactless person, always has been. Jeyne remembers once accidently telling Robb’s mother how much sex they’d been having and blushing as red as his hair. Her tactlessness probably would have gotten her killed by now, if her husband were a different man. Martyn Lannister is not a terrible person, she knows this. He’d never kill her and never beat her, no matter how much she weeps for Robb. Sometimes she wishes that he would though, so she wouldn’t have to live on without the husband that she chose, like a traitor.
Tactless, tactless Jeyne says, “You look like Catelyn Stark.” For a moment, Alayne Stone looks like a deer who spotted the crossbow, but then she regains her composure.
“That’s strange,” she says softly. Then a look passes over her face as she considers something.
“How do-did, how did you know Lady Stark?” She asks, but the words sound strange coming from her, like she is asking out of more than just idle curiosity. Jeyne considers lying, but she’s never been a good liar, and she has already dug herself a hole. She might as well lie in it.
And there’s a part of her that will never be ashamed of marrying Robb.
“I didn’t know her well,” Jeyne says, “but she was my good mother in another life.” A look passes over Alayne’s face, something that Jeyne can’t quite place, and she almost regrets saying anything. Her mother would call her rash and reckless, but because her mother betrayed her, she’s taken to doing the exact opposite of what she would have wanted her to do. They walk in silence for a few moments before Alayne decides add something.
“How did Robb Stark’s widow end up wed to a Lannister?” the girl asks. Jeyne assumes that she wants to sound casual, but there’s a sort of ice in her tone that Jeyne can’t place. It doesn’t belong to the bastard daughter of a Lannister ally.
“I didn’t want to,” Jeyne admits and her voice takes on a distant quality as she remembers. She remembers screaming and kicking and demanding justice for her husband, or death for herself.
“But eventually,” Jeyne says, “it became either give in and survive, or fight forever.” She doesn’t know what it is that makes her spill so much to this girl. Maybe it’s her natural lack of filter. Maybe it’s the girl’s Tully blue eyes staring back at her, kind and familiar like Robb’s, but she feels like she can trust her.
Alayne looks to her, almost desperately, and then quickly searches the room.
She takes a deep breath, and then grabs Jeyne’s hands. She drags her into the rooms, small, but lavish quarters, and she closes the doors.
“Jeyne,” she says, and her voice is so soft that Jeyne almost can’t hear it, “I’m Robb’s sister, Sansa.” Her tone almost sounds questioning, like she hasn’t said the name aloud in forever. It sounds insane, laughably insane, but Jeyne knows it must be true. It explains more than it obfuscates. The girl is her good sister.
“Sansa,” she says, and then she thinks over everything that she’s ever heard of Sansa Stark. It isn’t much to be honest, but she knows that the girl was left in the lions’ den, and she knows that she fled King’s Landing. The Lannisters had no idea of her whereabouts. Apparently, she ended up in the Vale.
“I am so sorry,” she says. The words feel empty, after thinking of everything that Sansa has gone through, but they’re all that Jeyne has to offer her. She can’t offer her back her lost years, and she certainly can’t offer her back her brother. He’s lost to them both.
Sansa smiles, and there’s something bitter, but also something genuine in it.
“Thank you, I suppose,” she says. They both know that Jeyne’s words change nothing, but Jeyne hopes that she can make Sansa smile some more. She’s so beautiful when she smiles.
The days pass by as her husband (she feels sick every time that she thinks that) and Lord Baelish discuss terms.
Jeyne isn’t sure how the kiss happens, but it does. Sansa’s lips are soft and curious against hers, softer than Robb’s, and her tongue is warm as it makes its way into Jeyne’s mouth.
Sansa breaks their kiss for a moment, and says with a grin (the sort that makes her look so terribly, tragically beautiful), “I’m kissing my brother’s widow.” There’s a hint of amusement, but also a bitter sort of disbelief in her tone.
“Life’s funny like that,” Jeyne says, and she feels a pang of guilt when she thinks about it. But Robb is dead, and Sansa is here with her, beautiful and sad and wonderful, and all she wants to do is kiss her senseless. Sansa steals her lips, and Jeyne gets lost in her kiss, all thoughts of her dead husband fading away at the feelings on her lips.
They awake that morning in Sansa’s (Alayne’s) quarters to the bright light of midmorning peeking in through the curtains. Sansa frets, remembering all of the chores that she has.
“We’ll do this tomorrow night,” Sansa promises, but there’s a hint of doubt in her voice, of unidentifiable fear. Jeyne can see in her eyes, hear it in her voice; Sansa just wants to be able to trust someone. Jeyne will try her hardest to give her that. Sansa quickly flutters out of the room, and Jeyne remembers that they can’t have too much time left to spend in the Vale, and she finds herself dreading having to leave.
Neither of them has been able to really talk to someone in longer than they can remember, so they flit about, discussing a million different topics.
The subject of Lannister husbands, just one of the many things that they have in common, comes up fairly quickly.
“Martyn’s not that bad,” Jeyne says, and she knows that it’s the truth. He’s not Robb by any means, but he’s never beaten her or taken her too hard, which is more than can be said for many men.
“But he’s a Lannister,” Jeyne says, and a look of understanding passes over Sansa’s face. Of course Sansa would understand, she was wed to a Lannister as well.
“That reminds me of Tyrion,” she says.
“He wasn’t a bad person,” Sansa tells her, and Jeyne can tell that she means it, “He never tried to force me. He even saved me from Joffrey, once. But he was still a Lannister.” And this is when Jeyne realizes something: in some ways, Sansa is more worldly than Robb had ever been. Her husband gave away the North, gave away the entire war for her, and didn’t have to live to deal with the consequences. Sansa paid the price for his rebellion, and is still alive to tell the tale.
She had to spend what must have felt like a life time in the lions’ den to do it, though.
Jeyne pauses and like she always does, says something tactless.
“I heard they shipped your sister up North to wed Bolton’s bastard.”
Sansa actually laughs at that.
“The Lannisters don’t have Arya,” She assures her, with a wistful quality to her voice, “she escaped King’s Landing the day they captured my father.” She pauses a moment, and a sadness creeps into her tone as she says, “She might be dead, but the Lannisters don’t have her. I take comfort in that.” Sansa smiles at her, and it’s almost hollow. Jeyne can see the ghosts of Robb and Catelyn Stark in her, but in some ways, Sansa is a ghost herself.
Her innocence died with the Lannisters, and Jeyne kisses her softly, hoping to give her back a little bit of her joy, her ability to trust. She’s not sure if she succeeds, but Sansa kisses her back.
That must mean something.
They’re set to leave the Vale in a few days. Sansa pulls her aside and nearly drags her into her bedchambers that night.
“I don’t want you to leave,” she says softly, honestly.
“I don’t want to leave either,” Jeyne says, and it’s the truth. She doesn’t know what she wants, now. She has no true place. Casterly Rock is not her place any more than the Vale is Sansa’s, but they don’t have anywhere to go. Winterfell is still in the hands of the Boltons. Stannis is miles further North, and here they're surrounded by Lannister allies. They have nowhere to go, but they have to go somewhere.
“We could go to the Free Cities,” Sansa laughs, but looks as if she’s considering it. Not seriously, of course. Sansa thinks that most of Jeyne’s ideas are reckless.
In women, courage is called recklessness and stupidity.
“Maybe,” she says, “maybe we could.” Sansa looks deeply into her eyes, bright blue eyes meeting Jeyne’s soft brown ones.
“I don’t want to think about that, yet,” she says with a sigh, and then she turns to ghost a hand over Jeyne’s face.
“Just hold me,” she says softly as she lies down against Jeyne. Jeyne wraps her arms around Sansa’s taller form, and she takes a deep breath, trying to push away her worries for the future.