(Scenario: Sansa’s finds herself caught in a paradox when Lord Petyr Baelish makes her a proposition.)
The Bastard of Bolton screamed as his hounds tore into him. Sansa turned away and smirked. She had opened the cages for the dogs to eat him alive. It felt like justice, a fitting punishment for a man who had used his vicious beasts to torment and torture others. And for all that Ramsey had done to her.
Sansa approached the entrance to the Great Hall of Winterfell. The men were inside, celebrating the victory over the Boltons by feasting and drinking. No doubt, Jon, Ser Davos, Tormund the Wildling and Lord Nestor Royce would be sat at the head of the table, eating and drinking the most.
“Three cheers to the Knights of the Vale!” a drunken soldier shouted.
The Men Should Have Been Cheering Her Name
The men cheered thrice. Sansa, with a hand on the door, decided against entering into the hall. What that idiot of a soldier had chanted was an affront to her. If she had not sent a raven to Littlefinger, the Knights of the Vale would never have come. The soldier should have been cheering her name, not the men.
Sansa turned away. She did not want to spend her night with rowdy, drunken men anyway, even if they had helped her take back Winterfell. Rather, she wanted to walk around the castle; this time, safe in the knowledge that she was home and not a prisoner-wife to a monster who falsely claimed ownership to the place.
As Sansa walked away from the Great Hall, the chanting and the noise receded. She liked the quiet. It meant she could enjoy her own company, relive moments when she had been a girl, surrounded by Robb, Jon, Arya, Bran, Rickon, as well as her mother and father. That all seemed like another age, long ago and lost forever: her mother, father, Robb and Rickon were dead; Arya was lost, if not dead; and Bran was alive, according to Theon Greyjoy, but only the gods knew where he was.
Sansa sighed and found herself in the Godswood, before the heart tree. She did not know how she got there. Seemingly, one moment she had been in the courtyard, then she had blinked and had arrived in front of the carved face with bleeding eyes.
Sansa gulped. This was where her father used to go when he had wanted peace and solace, to be alone with his thoughts. Sansa had always thought herself like her mother. Mayhap, she had more in common with Lord Eddard Stark than she thought.
Like her father used to do, Sansa knelt before the tree, before emotions clogged her throat. “Thank you,” she managed to say. She wanted to thank the Old Gods for granting the Starks victory over the Boltons, for enabling them to avenge the Red Wedding, for bringing her back home. But the words would not pass her throat.
Ripples Crept Up Her Back
Then, boots chomped on the snow behind her and ripples crept up Sansa’s back. She did not need to look behind to know who it was. She recognised the methodical way he walked and breathed. She could even smell the mint on his breath from a distance, and her stomach heaved at the thought of him kissing her again. And worse.
“It seemed the Knights of the Vale arrived just in time,” Lord Peter said. “Another hour and… who knows?”
He placed a hand on Sansa’s shoulder and she shuddered. Sansa hoped Lord Peter would get the hint and remove his hand. But he didn’t. “Take your hand off me, Lord Baelish,” she said.
“Call me Peter,” he said, friendly as ever.
Sansa imagined the corners of his lips curling upwards, like a cat after it had caught a mouse, and she cringed. “House Stark is most grateful for the aid you brought from the Vale,” she said. “Without your help-”
“Your half-brother and his armies would have been crushed,” he said. “I told you once that there is no justice in the world; not unless we make it. I have helped you make it, have I not?”
“You Gave Me To The Boltons!”
Sansa’s blood fired up inside her like an inferno. “How dare you, Lord Baelish!” She stood up, spun round and faced him. “You gave me to the Boltons, to Ramsey! You did not care for justice then and you do not care for justice now. Do not lie to me.”
Lord Peter did not seem fazed by her outburst. On the contrary, his smile widened as if he enjoyed it. “I did not lie to you,” he said. “I would never lie to you.”
You’re lying to me right now.
“I made a marriage arrangement with the Boltons,” he continued. “So you could avenge your family and take back your home. And when you called for aid, I answered the call-”
“Enough! You don’t know what it was like to be married to Ramsey. I was a prisoner in my own home! You gave me away for your own gain, to pursue your own ambitions. You coming to help turn the tide of the Battle of the Bastards had nothing to do with helping me or getting me justice.”
“What Do You Want?”
Lord Peter’s smile widened further and Sansa’s skin crawled. “I promised your mother that I would protect you,” he said, taking a step forward. “If me riding to Winterfell had nothing to do with helping you or getting justice for the Red Wedding, then why did I do it?”
So you could ask for my hand in marriage? Her supper rose to her gullet and she gulped to swallow her vomit, lest it spewed out of her mouth on the spot. “What do you want, Lord Baelish?” she asked, instead.
Lord Peter put his hand on cheek, softly. The way he always did before he kissed her. “I have heard that there is a great threat from beyond the Wall,” he said. “The Night King, they say he is called; and it is said that he has raised an army of the dead, who march behind him in their thousands. If they breach the wall, Winterfell will be unable to defend the North with the few men that have survived.
“One word from me and the Knights of the Vale will remain here and help the North fight this… army.” His pupils then enlarged and glimmered with glee. “All that is required for me to give this order is a nod from you. A nod that you will marry me.”
Caught In A Paradox
Sansa glared at him. Lord Peter had cornered her. When she had written to him, pleading for aid, she had inkling that he would make this demand. But she had been confident that once the Boltons had been defeated, she would be able to reject his overtures as she would have had no more need of the Knights of the Vale.
In addition, Sansa was a highborn woman, the daughter of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark; she was meant to marry a prince or a noble lord’s son; not a man of lower birth and foreign blood.
Yet, Sansa had not factored in the threat from north of the Wall when she had sent the raven to Lord Peter. Jon and Ser Davos had spoken about the White Walkers several times. Jon had told her once about what he had seen at Hardhome. The fear that had glinted in his eyes had been palpable and had sent shivers down her spine worse than when Old Nan had told her scary stories of the dead rising as a girl.
The Next Move
Jon would need every man in all the Seven Kingdoms to defeat the Night King, including the Knights of the Vale. Sansa could not simply dismiss Lord Peter’s offer just because he gave her the creeps. “Now is not the time to discuss wedding proposals, Lord Baelish,” she said, in an attempt to deflect the issue. “Now, we should be celebrating our victory-”
“And we are,” Lord Peter interjected. “You are the only living, legitimate child of Lord Eddard Stark. You are the Lady of Winterfell. The North is yours. We should use this moment to plan the next move to safeguard the North, your people, and the realm.”
Sansa raised her brows. He had just given her an idea. “The North are not my people yet, and may never be,” she said. “The lords of the North must still choose their liege, whether it be Jon or I. That is the North’s first priority and until that choice has been made, I am afraid that I cannot give you an answer to your offer.”
The Old Gods
Lord Peter let go of her cheek and his smile vanished. “You erred when you didn’t tell Jon that I was coming,” he said. “You nearly got him killed, and your quest for vengeance nearly ended with him. Err again, either by declining my offer or by making me wait too long, and it won’t matter that you have gained your revenge and retaken your home.”
He huffed and walked away. Sansa wanted to pick up a nearby rock and throw it at him. Everything he had said was true. She hated that. Worse, she was caught in a paradox, and she hated that as well.
What can I do to keep the Knights of the Vale without marrying Lord Baelish? She caught sight of the heart-tree once more and Sansa knelt before the face. If anyone could tell her how to get out of this paradox, it was the Old Gods.
PS: For more Game of Thrones fanfiction short stories, including the next part in this mini-series, please fill out the form below.