“No. No. Seven hells, no!”
Margaery closed her laptop with a click and pushed it away from her. Then she started knocking her head rhythmically against the café table while chanting softly under her breath. “This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.”
Across the table, Loras stirred his latte serenely. “Marg. Babe. I know that law school has caused you to partially lose your mind, but could you just rein it in for a second? I’d appreciate that.”
Margaery lifted her head. She knew she probably looked like death, but that was how she felt.
“My roommate just emailed me. She’s moving to Essos with her fiancé,” she said in a brittle voice. “She was perfect—sweet, studious, quiet as a mouse. We never had a single argument.”
Her brother raised his eyebrows but said nothing.
“She’s leaving—get this—tomorrow. The semester starts in four days, Loras. I don’t have time to search for another roommate! I can’t just trawl Craigslist for randoms!”
Margaery was actually blinking back tears at this point. They were stress tears, and she was used to them. This was how she lived now. She flicked them away expertly and continued.
“I have to get at least a 3.9 this semester, Loras, and I don’t have time for distraction in the form of some… some chatty Cathy undergrad, or a first year who’s going to want to pick my brain about how to get into the law review. Nor do I have time to downsize to a studio.”
“You couldn’t anyway, you have to stay in that place or Mom and Dad won’t keep covering your share of the rent,” Loras pointed out.
Margaery stifled a groan and sank her head onto her hands.
Above her, she heard Loras remark conversationally, “I miss old Margaery. Fun Margaery, who used to go out drinking with me, and actually had time to hang out and do things that weren’t work dates. What happened to her?”
“She went on vacation,” Margaery snapped, raising her head, “when I started law school. I got two A minuses last semester, Loras. Two A minuses!!”
She paused. Even thinking about those subpar grades was deeply upsetting. She pointed one finger at her brother. It was shaking slightly, and its chipped fingernail polish was just a reminder of what a shell of herself she’d become. “Tell me you understand, Loras."
“Margaery… Do you think you’re maybe overreacting a little? Just a tiny bit?” Loras was gazing at her with equal parts concern and amusement. “Okay, okay. I understand. Try to relax.” He scooted his chair over to Margaery’s side and rubbed her back soothingly in small circles. “Come on, Marg. It’s really going to be fine.”
Margaery rested her head on his shoulder and took several slow, deep breaths.
She did feel better—having a brother for a best friend was so valuable sometimes. After a while she said, with some acidity, “You don’t even know. You were smart enough to choose a career that doesn’t require grad school, and you live with your perfect boyfriend who you poached from me.”
Loras rolled his eyes fondly and laughed, and Margaery forced a smile. To be perfectly honest, she missed dating Renly. “Dating,” of course. But it had been so nice. She’d had a handsome, charming date to any social occasion that required her presence, and he left her alone the rest of the time to study. When they did hang out, Renly was whip-smart and a gentleman, and gave her plenty of pointers that she used to stay at the top of her class. But their fauxlationship had ended after her first year of law school when Renly graduated, went to work for the district attorney’s office, and moved in with Loras, who he’d been seeing all along.
Now it was almost time for her second year to start, and she needed everything to be absolutely perfect. But this? This felt like she was having the rug yanked out from underneath her feet.
Loras kissed the top of her head. “Don’t worry about your roommate, little sis. I’ll put my feelers out on Facebook, and it’ll work out. You know I know people.”
Guess I shouldn’t have underestimated Loras, Margaery thought. Two days later she was back at the same coffeeshop under the familiar strings of twinkling overhead lights, waiting to interview a candidate for the position of potential roommate.
She’s the ex of Renly’s nephew, Loras had texted. little lord shitleroy. u remember him?
Unfortunately, Margaery did. She wondered what type of girl would have the bad luck to get involved with Joffrey. She imagined a shrinking violet, a mousy kind of girl who couldn’t stand up for herself—at least that type of person would be likely to keep quiet. On the other hand, this girl could also be a hellion who loved drama. Who knew?
Margaery was fidgeting in her chair. She checked her watch. If this took under an hour, she could run some errands. It was important to have everything in order before the semester began.
Exhaling, she scanned the coffeeshop. Everyone had been seated for a while, but someone was walking in through the main door just now. Margaery glanced over and did a double take.
The girl who’d come in was—there was no other word for it—gorgeous. Long auburn hair flowed over her face and shoulders. She had a face straight out of a classical painting, with perfectly symmetrical features and plush lips. She was dressed simply in jeans, boots, a jacket, and a silver scarf, but might as well have been wearing angel wings.
Wow, Margaery thought. It wasn’t that law school had turned off her attraction to women, it was just that all corporeal pleasures seemed to have been temporarily blunted and dimmed in comparison to her bitchy mistress, homework. It had been a while since she felt that electric frisson of attraction at first sight. It was nice to know that it still existed.
Ah well, time to sit back and wait for the roommate interviewee.
Then the oddest thing happened. The gorgeous girl looked around the coffeeshop, and when she spotted Margaery, her entire face lit up with the warmth of her smile. “Are you Margaery?” she said a bit shyly, approaching the table.
“I’m Sansa. Hi.”
Margaery stood up, smiling, and extended her hand for a handshake. They shook.
They exchanged pleasantries and some background information as if this were a brisk speed date. Sansa had just moved to the city after graduating from university in the Vale. She was teaching elementary school students as an aide through a federal program.
As they spoke, Margaery carefully sized up the other woman. Sansa was soft-spoken and reserved, and sat with her hands folded in her lap. She had the air of someone who listened far more than she spoke, but she seemed to warm up to Margaery fairly quickly, and shared details of her life in a quiet but confident voice. All she said was that most of her family was still in the North, which was where she was from, and that she liked animals, baking, and reality TV.
There was nothing wrong with her: she had decent social skills, seemed normal, and was gainfully employed. She was perfect. “You’ve got it,” Margaery said, smiling. “Do you want to come by to see the place?”
Sansa sighed with relief. “No, thank you. The pictures you showed me look amazing.”
They stood up to go. Sansa was hesitating in a way that made Margaery pause, keeping her body language open.
“I don’t mean to be weird, but—do you mind if I hug you?” Sansa asked at last.
“Of course not.”
Sansa immediately pulled her in for a hug. Margaery would have pegged Sansa for an A-frame type of hugger, but Sansa pulled Margaery in close to her body so that Margaery was almost crushed against her breasts. She smelled lovely, like gardenias and vanilla. Margaery inhaled through her nose, fighting to keep her undisturbed smile on her face. A strand of red hair tickled her cheek.
“I’m so glad to have met you,” Sansa exclaimed, drawing back. “My sister told me it’s nearly impossible to find a good apartment in this city. And you’re just so—”
Sansa paused, and waved a hand in the air to convey the general aura that was Margaery. She widened her eyes and laughed. “So you!”
Margaery continued to smile. She had absolutely no idea what that meant.
“I’m so glad to have met you, too,” she said honestly. “I can’t believe this worked out.”
“How did you even find her?” Margaery demanded. Her phone was on speaker as she disinfected her kitchen countertops. It was one of the last nights before Sansa moved in, and she was using the opportunity to clean up her place, which had recently gone neglected due to the long nights demanded by her summer internship.
“I told you,” said Loras’ amplified voice. “She used to date Renly’s nephew and we’re still Facebook friends. Which means she has terrible taste in men, but I remember her being quite sweet.”
“Oh, she is a sweetheart.” Margaery bit her lip as punishment for letting any inflection sneak into her voice, but her brother didn’t seem to notice.
“So it went well, you liked her? She didn’t get scared off by your temporarily induced law student insanity?”
“Very funny. It went well. Like you said, she’s nice. And pretty, too.”
There was a moment of silence on the line, and then Loras’s voice said, “Oh? Pretty, or pretty pretty?”
“Just… you know, she’s attractive. She looks like maybe she used to model or something.”
Her brother snorted. “Okay. So are you going to hook up with her within the week, or give it two?”
Margaery set down her rag and pressed the back of her rubber-gloved arm to her forehead.
“Loras,” she said crisply, “you’re forgetting one thing. I’m going to live with her. I don’t even play around with my law school classmates, all right? Hooking up with my roommate could have disastrous consequences. Don’t you remember what happened my sophomore year?”
Loras sighed. “Suuuure. I’m just saying… if I weren’t dating Renly, and some fresh young hottie moved in with me… I don’t know what I might do. That’s all.”
“I don’t see how that’s the same thing.”
“I don’t see how you don’t see that that’s the same thing.”
Nothing made Margaery angrier than when people didn’t take her ambitions seriously. She drummed her fingers on the countertop, waiting until she was calm enough to speak without snapping at her brother.
“Well, I think you’d be singing a different tune if your GPA, academic performance, and entire future were all on the line,” she said finally, her tone bright enough to crackle. And then she changed the subject.
Sansa Stark moved in that Saturday with just a few boxes and pieces of furniture delivered in a small moving van.
The apartment was located on a shady street in a pretty residential area a few metro stops away from Margaery’s university. It was a first-floor walkup, with its own entryway with brick stairs and a wrought-iron railing around which ivy curled and grew.
For Sansa, it was love at first sight. “It’s so big,” she marveled, walking through the spacious living room with a box in her arms. Sunlight slanted in through French windows and Sansa stepped from island to island of light as if crossing a body of water. “And the artwork is stunning.”
Margaery glanced around, surprised. She rarely noticed. For her, the apartment was little more than a place to sleep and eat and study. “Oh, it’s old. From my family’s collection.”
“So you didn’t pick out any of this?”
“Not really. It’s my parents’ pied-a-terre,” Margaery explained. “They live in Highgarden, but almost all my brothers have used this place for grad school. It’s sort of a tradition.”
“Oh, okay.” Sansa nodded slowly. “You don’t really like to decorate?”
“I do, but I’ll decorate when I have my own place. Or when I’m not studying 24/7.”
“Sure.” Sansa continued to look around her. “So you don’t mind if I do a little bit?”
“Do whatever you want,” Margaery said with a shrug. “Just don’t throw anything out. There’s a storage unit if we need to use it.”
When all of her things had been moved into the smaller bedroom and her futon bed had been assembled, Sansa turned to Margaery. “I don’t know if you had plans, but do you want to order some sushi? There’s this place that I know that delivers—”
“Of course,” said Margaery.
They ate out on the balcony, attempting polite conversation. Most of the time Sansa stared out at the quiet street below them with a contented expression, and Margaery watched her. It felt nice to do this with someone—to enjoy the apartment, to enjoy the neighborhood with the soft southern wind rustling through the trees.
“Thank you for saying yes to me,” Sansa said when they had finished eating. “I don’t think I ever could have afforded to live in a place like this on my own.”
Embarrassed, Margaery began to say something, trying to play it off.
Sansa reached out and grasped her hand gently. “I mean it,” she said sincerely. “Thank you, Margaery. I’m really happy to be living here with you.”
The semester began and, as expected, Margaery’s workload was crushing. Luckily, Sansa was just as considerate as she’d initially seemed; she kept the apartment clean and was generally quiet. The hours at her teaching job in Flea Bottom were long, and for the first month Margaery almost never saw her. It was a blessing: sometimes she even forgot that she had a super hot roommate.
Then October came, and with the leaves everything changed. Margaery’s four-week elective ended, and she found herself with a little more time on her hands. Suddenly she saw Sansa almost every day. Sansa in her tartan pajamas, with her sleepy smile in the morning. Sansa at night, sitting cross-legged on the floor of the living room, preparing crafts for her next day of work. Sansa, rushing out the door each morning in a carefully mixed-and-matched procession of printed dresses, skirts, and cardigans, lugging a shoulder bag that was always packed to the brim.
Not only was Sansa beautiful and sweet, she was deceptively smart with a keen people sense that cut to the bone. Margaery took to feeding her bits of law school case briefs to see if Sansa could puzzle them out. Nine times out of ten, Sansa said something insightful or hilarious.
“My dad was a judge,” Sansa explained at last, but offered no more than that.
Sansa started making Margaery coffee in the mornings. When Margaery confronted her, exclaiming that she didn’t have to do it, Sansa just smiled in that gentle way she had. “I like to,” she said simply. And when Margaery started having extremely late nights, Sansa made doubles of whatever she was cooking, and left them in Post-It note labeled Tupperware containers in the fridge.
Yes, Sansa was almost perfect. She had only one flaw, which was that she would sometimes argue with Margaery over the remote when Margaery wanted to watch the nightly cable news, but she needed to catch up on her latest reality TV obsession. “It’s stress relief,” Sansa pleaded. “Come on, I know you like watching Real Housewives.”
“This is real world stuff,” Margaery said, holding the remote hostage. “You can always watch it tomorrow! You have all your shows set to pre-record anyway.”
“I have to wrangle 40 kids under the age of 8 tomorrow, come on, Margaery, have a heart.”
“I’m trying to save the world here,” Margaery groused, but usually handed the remote over. Sansa almost always won. She was hard to resist.
Margaery was double-occupying a library carrel with her study partner, books stacked in precarious towers around them, when her phone lit up with a notification. Sansa. “Oh, I told her not to watch our show without me!” she said to herself, typing away.
Myrcella looked up. “Our show? We? I didn’t know you were part of a ‘we.’”
Margaery cleared her throat, feeling herself blushing. “Oh, just me and my roommate.”
Myrcella raised both perfectly shaped eyebrows. “Margaery, you know I know you’re gay, right? You don’t have to hide anything from me.”
“Myrcella, I’m serious, it’s my roommate.”
“No, I get it, it’s cute. What show do you watch together? My boyfriend and I always watch The Walking Dead. One time I saw half an episode without him and he sulked for the rest of the day.”
“We’re halfway through The Crown on Netflix,” said Margaery without thinking, and then checked herself. “But I mean—we’re not together. So you know.”
“Uh huh,” Myrcella drawled, but she had already turned back to her case brief and was scrawling thick lines of fluorescent yellow highlighter.
Two hours later Margaery’s phone started vibrating on the table, Sansa’s picture flashing on the screen. Myrcella glanced over and her expression immediately changed. “She’s hot!” she mouthed.
Margaery flipped her study partner the bird and quickly silenced her phone. Can’t talk, still in the lib, she texted. What’s up?
What time are you coming home? I made dinner. Red lentil curry
idk, probably late. I have like 20 case briefs to finish
:( okay. Miss you
miss you too
see you later <3
A few months into the semester, Margaery was idly scrolling back through the albums on her phone. She laughed when she came to a screenshot of a conversation with Loras. Just repeat to yourself in the mirror every day, “I must not sleep with my roommate” he’d written. “I must not!”
It was funny to think about that now. It wasn’t that Sansa had become any less appealing. It was just that her glamour had faded somewhat, since Margaery had seen her in every state from casual to two-days-unshowered to polished professional. She’d seen Sansa eat popcorn off the floor and laugh about it. No, the thing was, Margaery felt comfortable around Sansa, in a way that reminded her of how things had been with Renly. It was a feeling that had nothing to do with sex. This was such a relief that she’d wanted to get up and dance for joy when she realized it.
Margaery loved sex. She did. Even bad sex—bad sex was just an excuse to get to know a stranger, to see what kind of underwear they wore and what their face looked like when they were about to come. She considered herself a bit of a sexual anthropologist in that way.
All right, no, she didn’t. The truth was that Margaery had a secret, and it was that she rarely had sex with the same girl more than a few times before it was onto the next one. Relationships were something exotic: for straight people who didn’t have to hide parts of who they were, or for people who had the freedom to relax, like Loras. She knew that eventually, after law school, she was going to be in the public eye and she was going to have to be picture-perfect, and even though she told Loras breezily that if the world wasn’t ready for her brand of lipstick lesbian then it didn’t deserve her, sometimes she lay in bed at night and wondered just how that would go. Would she be brave enough to have a wife? Or would she find herself another Renly? Who could say?
Anyway. With Sansa, things were good. Margaery stopped thinking about it, stopped worrying about it. Life resumed its normal pace.
Then midterms hit her entire class like a runaway train. After their last exam, Margaery and Myrcella went out to the bars with a group of classmates. Several tequila shots later, Margaery woke up next to an extremely hot Korean girl at 9 a.m. the following morning.
She tiptoed out of her room, desperately needing to pee but also to drink as much water as she possibly could, and stopped dead when she was confronted by the sight of Sansa, who was wearing jeans and brewing a cup of French press in the wraparound kitchen.
“Fun night?” Sansa said, looking amused. Margaery ran a head through her messy hair, wincing. It felt like an elephant had just trampled through her skull.
“Yeah, um. I just—”
“Uh… sorry, I’m not really awake yet.” Margaery waved a hand vaguely and then hastened to answer nature’s call.
She bolted into the bathroom and stifled a sigh of release as she peed. She hiked up the floral boxer shorts she’d stolen from Loras, washed her hands, walked out, and froze.
Last night’s hookup, whose name was either Jenna or Nina, stepped out of Margaery’s bedroom, yawning widely. Her eyeliner had smudged around her eyes, and her ombré hair was sticking up like a halo. She wore a baggy old softball T-shirt of Margaery’s that read Highgarden Hitters and nothing else. “Hey, where’s your bathroom?” she asked sleepily.
Margaery darted forward and took her by the elbow, but it was too late. At the sound of a female voice, Sansa had rounded the corner from the kitchen. “Hiii,” said Margaery’s hookup, a little unsteady on her feet. She squinted at Sansa and extended one hand. “I’m Nina.”
“Sansa,” Sansa said, smiling politely and gripping her coffee mug tighter. She shook Nina’s hand with her free one.
Nina nodded peacefully and stepped back, looking around. Her eyes lit up.
“Oh, sweet, the bathroom,” she said, and ambled off.
Sansa looked Margaery, and there were about seven different layers to that look. It was the onion of all looks. Margaery bit her lip and smiled, trying to bring the charm.
She couldn’t hold eye contact. She looked down at the floor.
Nina turned out to be a fashion intern, and she was incredibly smart and funny.
Margaery hung out with her a few more times and it wasn’t long before she was feeling torn. Nina was great, but Margaery hadn’t had a steady thing with a girl in well, gods knew how long. It’s just bad timing, Margaery told herself, even though she had a fairly good idea why things with Nina never would’ve have worked out.
She felt guilty even having Nina over to the apartment. That was to say, in Sansa’s presence.
It wasn’t because Sansa seemed homophobic. Sansa had in fact been remarkably chill about the whole my-roommate-didn’t-tell-me-she’s-a-lesbian situation. Margaery felt heavily relieved, and also guilty. “I just didn’t think it was important,” she hedged as they ate shrimp pad Thai together a few nights later. “I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable.”
Something dark crossed Sansa’s eyes as she looked at Margaery. “Why would you think that it would make me uncomfortable? I don’t have anything against gay people, you know.”
“No, no, not at all! I just…” Margaery shrugged airily. “It can be hard to bring up. You never know how someone’s going to react.”
Sansa frowned and looked down at her food. She didn’t say anything.
Things didn’t turn out so well with Nina after that. Margaery couldn’t bring herself to answer texts, and became the kind of flake that she herself would’ve kicked to the curb in no time. But Nina, who deserved way better, stuck around until Margaery couldn’t bear stringing her along any more. Sorry, I just can’t commit right now and you deserve something better than that… Margaery texted at 1 am, wondering when she’d turned into such an asshole.
The next night she got trashed with Loras and Renly, picked up the hottest genderqueer person at the gay bar, and let them fuck her with a strap-on against the wall of her bedroom as she moaned as loudly as she knew how. She didn’t let them stay the night, but woke up alone the next morning with vivid memories. Very vivid memories. And scratch marks.
She was so embarrassed when she came into the kitchen for coffee she couldn’t look Sansa in the eye. “Fun night?” Sansa remarked, acid in her voice, and Margaery just smiled queasily. When she got out of the shower to see the hickeys that marked her neck and chest like rings of thorns, she threw a pashmina around herself and ran out of the apartment without saying goodbye.
“If this is what self-sabotaging feels like,” she told Loras on the phone grimly, at the greasy little diner around the corner where she’d fled, “then I think I’m on a suicide mission.”
“You did this to yourself,” Loras reminded her. Margaery groaned and ate her eggs, hoping they could cure both her throbbing hangover and the sense of guilt that just kept growing and growing.
Things kept getting worse—or better, depending on how you looked at it. After a particularly grueling law review meeting, during which everyone argued and Margaery had nearly lost her temper, Margaery came home to a darkened apartment. Sansa was sitting in the living room, the only light coming from the flickering old black-and-white movie playing on TV.
“What are you watching?” Margaery asked, dropping her heavy bag and pulling off her boots. She slid onto the couch next to her roommate.
Sansa turned to look at her, the movement illuminated somewhat eerily by the screen. “Laura. Gene Tierney. It was on TCM.”
“I love film noir,” Margaery mumbled, pulling her feet up onto the couch. Sansa smiled, still cast in half-shadow. “D’you want some wine? I opened a bottle of Dornish red,” she said.
“That’s my favorite,” Margaery sighed, and gratefully accepted a full glass.
“How was the meeting?” Sansa asked.
Margaery groaned and shrugged, rolled her tense shoulders a little. Sansa made an understanding noise of sympathy.
Sansa murmured, “You must be tired. Let me rub your shoulders for you.”
“Oh, you don’t have to.”
Sansa reached out to touch Margaery’s shoulders, pulling down the back of Margaery’s blouse slightly. Margaery caught her breath as her roommate’s fingers grazed her skin, and fought back a moan as Sansa began to massage her exposed back.
“Can I slide these down?” Sansa asked quietly, hooking her thumbs under Margaery’s bra straps.
“Yeah.” Margaery set her wineglass on the coffee table and turned sideways, bowing her head to her chest and closing her eyes. She didn’t think, she only felt. And it felt wonderful.
After a few blissful minutes, she wished acutely that Sansa would press her lips to Margaery’s back instead of just using her hands. A moment later everything wrong with this situation caught up with her.
“I… I’m really tired,” she heard herself say, shaking her shoulders slightly. In the darkness behind her she heard Sansa draw a long breath. The hands on her shoulders disappeared.
“That’s okay,” Sansa said after a moment, and her voice sounded soft and warm. “Here, you can lie down.”
Margaery vaguely knew she shouldn’t, but she let Sansa guide her into a reclining position, her head resting on a cushion in Sansa’s lap. Through her drowsiness, the buzz of the wine, and the otherworldly voices from the film playing in front of them, she wondered if she was imagining the brush of Sansa’s fingers through her hair and down her shoulder. It was so gentle that she couldn’t be sure it was really happening. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, but if it were, then her entire body wouldn’t be quivering…
Then Sansa leaned down and kissed her. Margaery sat up as if she’d been waiting for it, stomach muscles tensing. Before she knew it, she was in Sansa’s lap, and they were kissing, hot mouths on each other in the dark. Then she was shirtless, and Sansa was gripping her tightly around the waist, one hand cupped around a breast, and Margaery felt molten, body-less, uncontrolled.
Sansa’s hand skimmed lower, to the top of Margaery’s skirt. She paused and all Margaery could think was why did she stop? Then Sansa let out a giggly little breath and whispered, “Do you want me to—can I go lower?”
Oh, fuck. She’s never done this before.
Margaery paused. Forced herself to stop. Got off of Sansa’s lap.
“I’m sorry,” she said, crossing her arms over her bare chest. She rocked from foot to foot on the carpeted floor, dizziness rushing to her head. “I’m so tired, I got confused. This was a mistake. We live together, Sansa. I don’t want to ruin that.”
A long, awkward moment. They couldn’t quite establish eye contact.
“Of course, I understand,” Sansa said faintly. She looked dazed. She didn’t pause the TV. The movie kept running, the actors talking and talking, as Margaery picked up her shirt and bra from the floor and left.
Margaery went into her bedroom and lay miserably on her bed as she imagined what hadn’t happened: Sansa’s fingers inside of her, Sansa’s mouth on her.
She had barely even gotten to touch Sansa’s body at all. But she wasn’t going to think about that.
The next morning Margaery awoke with the bright resolve to compartmentalize what had happened the night before until it was like it had never even occurred.
Sansa was nowhere to be found. She was probably mortified, Margaery reasoned. As for Margaery, well, she had a weirdly dizzyingly sense of relief now that the worst had happened. She’d hooked up with—started hooking up with—her roommate. The damage had been done; now all she could do was run damage control.
Margaery was very, very good at damage control.
It was a Thursday. She called her cousins and they went out. (She texted Sansa that she’d be sleeping at her cousin’s; Sansa didn’t respond.) Alla brought a cluster of her sorority friends, and Margaery zeroed in on the hottest one without thinking twice.
This girl was so hot, and so, so painfully straight. She also had long brown hair that sort of looked red if you squinted, in the right light. Or if you’d had enough to drink.
So Margaery kept drinking. She ordered the girl tequila shots, and they ended up at the bar by themselves, Margaery standing between the girl’s legs with hands on the girl’s parted thighs in their tight jeans. The girl was giggling under her hands, squirming into Margaery’s touch like she wanted more.
“You’re like, really hot,” the girl said, breathing heavily. “Like, I’d never know you were gay.” She looked at Margaery’s lips.
Margaery’s head felt thick. That’s heteronormative and insulting to both of us, she wanted to say, but instead she just laughed thickly. She was too drunk for this. “Well, that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” the girl said breathily. “It is.” She giggled, and Margaery leaned in closer.
The girl’s lip gloss was sweet and she smelled like mint, not like vanilla and gardenias. Not even close. But it’s fucking close enough, Margaery thought blurrily, and ordered them another round of shots.
“What the hell happened to you?” Myrcella asked critically at their study session after lecture the next day, giving Margaery an once-over. “You look like you got hit by a bus.”
Margaery groaned. “I… I just… I’ve just been sleeping with a lot of girls lately,” she mumbled. “It’s kind of catching up to me.”
“Huh. Well, I’m sure none of that lady ass you’ve been tapping is as sexy as this hot little case brief,” Myrcella said brightly, sliding a sheaf of notes in front of Margaery. She winked. “Get to work! We need two pages of notes, pros and cons, before mock debate next week.”
Margaery reached for her bag and the Advil she desperately hoped she’d packed. “Are you sure we can’t just… reschedule?” she tried, head pounding.
Myrcella pushed her tortoiseshell-framed glasses up her nose. “Not a chance, you dirty womanizer. It’s not my fault if you’re not getting your beauty sleep.”
A few hours later, Margaery’s headache had somewhat abated, and they’d actually managed to get a significant amount of work done. Myrcella yawned, stretching her arms into the air. “Finally! I think we’re done for the day.” As they walked out of the library, Myrcella stopped short, grabbing Margaery by the elbow. “I almost forgot. Trystane has Ultimate Frisbee this weekend, but I wondered if you wanted to get brunch before that? He’s dying to meet you. He’s always asking questions about law school and never believes me when I tell him how fucking boring it is.”
“Uh, yeah,” Margaery said. “Okay. Just us three? I don’t want to mind being a third-wheel, I just like to know in advance.”
Myrcella scrunched up her nose. “That’s weird. Fine, bring your girlfriend.”
“I don’t have a—”
“Your roommate. Same difference.”
Margaery glared at her, but Myrcella either didn’t notice or pretended not to. “So can you make it?” she asked brightly, drumming her French-manicured nails against her armful of binders.
“I’ll ask Sansa,” Margaery said with as much dignity as she could muster.
“See you on Saturday, hopefully,” Myrcella sang, walking briskly off across the quad.
With a carefully neutral expression, and evident relief that she and Margaery were talking again, Sansa readily agreed to go to brunch, and they wound up at a cute diner in the east part of the city that Myrcella had found on Yelp.
When they were finally seated inside the bustling restaurant, Sansa won over Myrcella and Myrcella’s good-looking boyfriend Trystane by explaining her teaching work. Margaery ate her egg white frittata slowly, listening with pride. It was more than she’d heard Sansa speak in the past week, and it was nice. Soon, she thought, things would be okay between them. She would make it be.
When Sansa excused herself to go to the bathroom, Trystane leaned over the table to Margaery, smiling. “She’s absolutely amazing, Margaery. How long have you two been together?”
Margaery’s mouth fell open. Across the table, she saw Myrcella smirking.
“Oh, we’re actually not together,” she said awkwardly. “She’s, um—she’s actually my—We’re just roommates.”
“Oh, God, I’m sorry,” Trystane said, looking embarrassed. “I thought—Myrcella said that you lived together. I assumed…”
Myrcella smirked at Margaery, not looking sorry at all. “I mean, they are basically dating in all but name. As you, and anyone with eyes, can see.”
Trystane gave his girlfriend a little shove with his shoulder. “Babe, come on. Don’t be rude.”
Sansa materialized at the end of their table. “Hey, everything okay?”
“Of course,” Margaery said hastily, standing up to let Sansa back into the booth. Just then there was a loud exclamation from across the restaurant, and up popped a familiar brunette head, surfacing from a table of equally glossy-headed girls.
At first Margaery couldn’t place her—then suddenly, with a sinking feeling, it all came together. It was Alla’s sorority friend, the one Margaery had let sit on her face all night, and whose name Margaery could actually not remember for the life of her. That was, if she’d ever learned it in the first place.
“Margaery!” the girl cried, crossing the restaurant with a look of ecstasy that not coincidentally resembled the look on her face when she’d come three times riding Margaery’s face like a merry-go-round.
She put both arms around Margaery’s waist, purring into Margaery’s ear. “Oh my…. god,” she purred in a very loud whisper. “The way you made me feel was so incredible. I didn’t even know I could bend like tha—”
“I don’t think you’ve met my friends,” Margaery said equally loudly. “This is Myrcella, my study partner, and Sansa.” She paused, hoping the girl would take the hint and introduce herself.
Sansa, Myrcella, and Trystane looked up at the two of them with nearly identical polite, strained expressions.
“Santa? That’s so funny, I didn’t know girls could have that name,” the girl said, pulling a wide-eyed face of astonishment.
“It’s Sansa, not ‘Santa,’” Sansa snapped, with a look that could kill small animals. “What are you, deaf?”
The table went very quiet, and Myrcella and Trystane wore identical looks of shock. Margaery had nothing but a feeling of despair.
“You know, this isn’t really a good time,” she said fake-sweetly, trying without success to remove the girl’s barnacle-like hands from around her waist. She avoided looking at her friends, because she really, really did not want to see Sansa’s expression right now.
The girl sighed. “Okay, I get it.” She lowered her voice again. “But can I get your number? I didn’t hear from you, and I just—”
“It’s the craziest thing, but you know what? I lost my phone. In a fire and a hurricane. I’m basically a hermit now, isn’t that funny?” Margaery had to walk the girl partway over to her table before she got the hint and started walking away of her own accord. Call me, the girl mouthed, beaming.
Stiff-backed, Margaery returned to their table. Trystane and Myrcella had matching looks of sympathy, while Sansa refused to even look at her. “That was… a friend of my cousin’s,” she said weakly. “Really… friendly girl.”
“Santa, huh?” Trystane said mildly to Sansa. “That was, um, original. You heard that one before?”
Sansa was stone-faced. “Actually that was a first.”
“Ho, ho,” said Myrcella, glancing wickedly at Margaery, and Margaery stepped on her foot hard under the table. I am going to kill you, she mouthed when Myrcella caught her eye, and Myrcella just raised both eyebrows as if to say, You made your slutty gay bed, and now you have to lie in it.
They finished eating, and thankfully no one said anything as they left the restaurant together.
A few days passed in semi-glacial silence. Sansa seemed to be avoiding Margaery like it was her job.
Margaery got back mid-afternoon from her Saturday spin class to find an empty apartment. Gleeful in her brief solitude—not that she didn’t want to see Sansa, but hell if things couldn’t get any more awkward between them—she dashed into the shower.
While she was getting dressed, Loras texted her. can you FT???
Desperate to talk to her brother, Margaery grabbed her phone and went out onto the living room couch, not bothering to put on pants. It wasn’t like Loras was going to see anything other than her face, and even if he did, he’d probably picked out her underwear anyway.
Lying on her back, she FaceTimed her brother and beamed when he popped up on her screen, also grinning. “How was your we-ek,” Loras asked in a singsongy voice.
“Good. Hard, boring, the same. Law school sucks.”
“As I always say,” her brother said primly. “You did this to yourself.”
She rolled her eyes. “Got it, thanks.”
“And how’s everything else?” Loras asked delicately, making a little face.
“‘Everything else’ is not good, Loras. I haven’t got a clue what to do about Sansa,” Margaery complained, as her brother looked disappointed and then nodded sympathetically.
“So it hasn’t gotten any better?”
“No, she’s been icing me out since brunch. And—”
“And now you just wish you’d just gone for it that night, hm? But you fucked it up properly, just like I told you would.”
“You’re so welcome.”
Margaery groaned, rubbing her forehead. “It’s just like, I don’t know what to do about it. Every time I see her I just—uugghh.” She let out a sound of frustration. “It’s gotten ridiculous. She’s driving me crazy, Loras.”
Loras nodded. “I know, but—” Suddenly he looked up, above Margaery’s head, and his eyes went wide. “Uh, Marg? I think you should—”
But it was too late. Margaery caught a flash of red hair in the rectangle that held her own little image, and immediately sat up and turned around. In the apartment entryway, her roommate had pulled open the entry closet and was pulling on a winter coat with a stony expression.
There was a loud noise in Margaery’s ears, but she couldn’t tell if it was rushing adrenaline or Loras squawking, “Mayday!” Margaery leapt to her feet, dropping her phone.
“Sansa, where did you come from?”
Her roommate made an incredulous noise, zipping her down jacket. “Um, I was here.”
“But I thought—”
“I was here!” Sansa repeated angrily. She looked furious. “And look, Margaery, if you have some sort of problem with me, you could have just brought it up.”
“I didn’t know you were home!” Margaery exclaimed, and then backtracked quickly. “And it’s not what it sounded like, Sansa—please.”
Sansa, shaking her head incredulously, yanked open the apartment door and stormed out. Margaery, who wore nothing but her sweater and her underwear, had only a second to debate putting pants on before she threw the idea out of her mind. She had one chance to make this better.
She stepped into her untied tennis shoes and ran down the hall after Sansa. “Sansa, wait!”
But her roommate showed no sign of stopping. She didn’t even slow down or acknowledge that she was being chased down the hall or two flights of stairs, even as Margaery cried out “Sansa, wait! Please!” behind her. Finally, Sansa stormed out into the cold parking lot behind their apartment building and Margaery followed, gasping at the bracing chill of the early winter air.
It was only once she was outside that Margaery remembered that she was wearing nothing on her lower half but lavender underwear with ‘Bite Me’ written on the butt. At least it was semi-cute.
A guy passing with his friend stopped to whistle at Margaery. “Damn, sexy!”
“Eat my whole ass, you creep!” Sansa screamed at him, whirling around like a demon out of hell. He stepped away, looking genuinely scared. “Shit… I’m sorry…”
Sansa whipped her head around to look back at Margaery. Her cheeks were flushed and her red hair was flying in the early winter air. She looked terrifying. Margaery wanted to climb her like a tree.
“I… didn’t know you could talk like that,” Margaery stammered. Her knees were knocking slightly together. She’d never been very good in the cold.
“I grew up with four brothers, Marg, I told you,” Sansa said pointedly, and then narrowed her eyes when she remembered that they were fighting.
“So, what’s your problem with me, huh? Why can’t you stand me? Why were you ranting to your brother about me instead of just talking to me like a mature human being?”
“Well—okay—look,” Margaery said pathetically. Words were falling out of her mouth in mealy little fragments. Her silver tongue, the one that was going to get her through law school, the one that had helped her talk her way out of every sticky situation since she was three years old, was failing her. “I—Sansa, I’m… gay.”
It was the least confidently she’d said that phrase in her entire life.
“Oh, I know.” Sansa didn’t look too pleased. “I know. Seeing as you’ve been sleeping your way through the entire lineup of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and then letting them stay the night!”
Margaery swallowed. “Uh, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that many gir—”
“So, you’ll sleep with every available woman in King’s Landing, but you have a problem with me?” Sansa bulled on, her voice rising. “What’s wrong with me, Margaery?”
There was a lot going on here. Margaery needed a moment to process, but Sansa wasn’t stopping. In fact, she was barreling on like her life depended on it.
“I’m not pretty enough? Not smart enough? You like them stupid, is that it? Is it like a power trip thing, since you’re going to be a big fancy lawyer? Well let me tell you, just because I didn’t go to law school doesn’t mean that I’m not smart enough to be—”
“Wait, wait a minute,” Margaery interrupted, realization dawning on her. “Are you… jealous?”
Sansa stopped mid-word. She didn’t say anything, but an adorable blush started to spread across her face.
“You’re jealous,” Margaery repeated.
“No,” said Sansa. She shuffled her feet. “Well, maybe a little. Yeah.”
“But I thought you were straight,” Margaery said weakly.
“That is SO up for negotiation!” said Sansa, waving a hand in the air. “If you saw my ex-boyfriend, you’d understand.”
“I… okay, yeah, that makes sense.”
Sansa crossed her arms, staring at Margaery with an expression that represented the delicate balance of a scale. It was up to Margaery to tip that scale one way or the other.
She took a deep breath. “Okay. The thing is I’m attracted to you. That’s why I keep hooking up with other girls, because I think it’ll make the way I feel about you go away.
“However, it just makes it worse. And I feel awful about it, every time I hook up with someone and see you the day after. And,” Margaery swallowed, "I know it's pretty awkward for you too."
Sansa gazed at her, still unmoved. “Why didn’t you just tell me how you felt?”
“I didn’t want to come off as a complete and utter creep! I mean, we’re living together!” Margaery could hear herself start speaking louder and faster. “Plus, you said that you were really grateful to find the apartment, and you’re basically the perfect roommate, and I can’t afford to just live with anyone during law school when my grades are incredibly important, so—”
Sansa held out her hands calmingly. “Okay. Okay, I get it. I’m sorry.”
“—So I couldn’t mess it up,” Margaery blurted out, color rising in her face. She was breathing heavily, and to her surprise there were tears pricking the corners of her eyes. It seemed like talking about law school was always going to make her cry. Ugh. Whatever. “I couldn’t mess this up for either of us.”
“I hear you. I really do.” Sansa paused. “But I just need this to be clear. You like me.”
“I like you,” Margaery confirmed. “I really, really like you.”
The smile that spread across Sansa’s face could have made flowers grow in the dead of winter. Margaery couldn’t help but smile back, even though her teeth were chattering.
Realization suddenly flashed across Sansa’s face, her eyes filling with guilt and worry. “Oh my god! You’re so cold!”
“J-just a little,” Margaery managed, before Sansa had stepped forward, pulled off her coat, and wrapped it around Margaery. “Can we go inside now?”
“Yes,” Sansa said. “But not before I do this.”
She stepped in close, holding the lapels of her jacket closed around Margaery’s body, and kissed Margaery. Margaery was trembling, but lifting her head to meet Sansa’s lips made her feel protected, safe, and warm.
“Wow, you’re really good at that, Santa,” she murmured, and Sansa swatted her on the butt. “Ow. Okay, sorry.”
“Too soon,” Sansa warned her, but she was smiling. Margaery found that she liked it when Sansa got aggressive.
As they walked back inside, Margaery felt Sansa pat her butt again. She gave Sansa a startled look, and Sansa looked abashed. “Sorry. Is that weird? Not allowed yet?”
“No, it’s okay. I just didn’t figure you for an ass girl.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me,” Sansa said significantly. “And you have a really cute ass.”
They walked slowly back to their apartment, bumping into each other in the hall and giggling as they did so. “Well... here we are,” Margaery said at last, as they approached their familiar door. “Home sweet home.”
Sansa smiled at her, and it was like everything had changed, and nothing had.
She held the door open for Margaery, and shooed Margaery in. It closed behind them with a click of finality.