(Scenario: Lord Petyr Baelish believes the Vale deserves a reward for its role in the victory over the Boltons. But will Jon agree to his proposal? This short story is a continuation from the “I deserve to choose who I will marry.”)
“The King in the North!” Lady Lyanna Mormont cried.
“The King in the North!” many a lord responded.
Jon looked around the hall. Everyone seemed to be chanting for him; all, except Lord Petyr Baelish, the Lord Protector of the Vale, who was looking at Sansa as if he were trying to pierce his thoughts into her through a penetrative stare.
Jon did not want to think about what ideas that snake had in his mind. Lord Petyr reeked of devious schemes that would advance his position and influence. Jon had a mind to send him back to the Vale, to weaken his hold over the lords of the Vale.
“The King in the North!” Lord Robert Glover bellowed.
“I Must See To It That The Night King Does Not Prevail”
Jon had had enough of the chanting and stood up. He raised and then lowered his hands, patting the air like he would a flame to put it out. At first, Jon had been overwhelmed by the chants of the Northmen, Knights of the Vale, and the Wildlings. Now, he just wanted it all to end. He had a kingdom to rule… and defend from the Army of the Dead. “My Lords, My Lords,” Jon said. The men took note and the noise decreased. “You have chosen me as your King and I am honoured. I will follow in my lord father’s footsteps and lead you as best I can. But now my work must begin. We have a threat more terrifying than the Boltons awaiting us and I must see to it that the Night King does not prevail.”
The lords fell silent and a cold wind blew through the hall, as if the Night King had exhaled a killer breath that would freeze mankind forever. Lady Lyanna thumped her hand on the table near her to draw attention. “With you leading us, Your Grace,” she said. “We will be safe.”
You say that because you haven’t been north of the Wall. But Jon smiled and nodded to betray his thoughts, and to reassure his people that they had not made a mistake in choosing him as their king. “My Lady is too kind.” Jon then turned and made for a chamber where he could get to grips with his new role without the scrutiny of dozens of lords watching him. He tapped Sansa on the shoulder. “Come with me,” he said.
I Did Not Ask To Be King
Jon did not wait for her response. He may not have been king for an hour, but he understood about ruling from his stint as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Jon could not be seen to wait for anyone, so he walked out of the hall with the expectation that his sister would follow him.
Footsteps echoed behind him. Jon stopped and turned around. Sansa was before him; her face sullen with a thin fissure of displeasure for lips. Jon had inkling for the surliness. “I take it you feel you should be Lady of Winterfell,” he said. “I did not choose for them to make me-”
“But you accepted it anyway,” she interrupted. She looked down on him, the same way she had always done as a child growing up. He had been the bastard then, and in her eyes he was the bastard now: beneath her. Yet, the lords and even Lady Lyanna had still chosen him over her, the legitimate daughter of Lord Stark. “I suppose it must feel good to have them singing for you.”
“It got boring quick enough,” Jon said, in an attempt to lighten the mood. It did not as Sansa frowned. “Listen,” he continued. “Ruling the Night’s Watch was hard enough; one man alone cannot manage the Wall. The thought of ruling a kingdom… the sound of it sounds daunting, weighing down on my head harder than a crown. I am going to need help from people I can trust. I am going to need you, Sansa.”
“If I Can’t Trust You, Who Can I Trust?”
Sansa raised her brows. “You can trust me now?”
“You are my sister. If I can’t trust you, who can I trust?”
“Then why did you question whether or not you could trust me after the Battle of the Bas… Winterfell?”
Jon sighed. Why was Sansa being impossible? She had been untrustworthy in the run-up to the battle. If she had informed him that the Knights of the Vale had been on their way, he would never have fallen into Ramsey’s trap. He would have just waited until the Vale came and then given the order for his men to charge at Ramsey. That way they would have sandwiched the Bastard of Bolton.
Yet, Jon could not say that to her. He wanted her trust, not her mistrust. Sansa was obviously upset that she had been overlooked as the Lady of Winterfell, even the Queen in the North. He had to give her something to appeal to her better side. “Sansa,” he said. “The day after the battle I was exhausted and hungover. I should not have questioned you then. Also… if I had listened to you before the battle, I would not have lost as many men as I did either. I let you down and did not take adequate heed of your counsel. I won’t make that mistake again. That’s why I trust you. That’s why I need your help.”
Sansa’s surly expression eased with a smile. “I’ll help you as best as I can,” she said. “Just promise me that you won’t undermine me again.”
“Then there is nothing more to discuss.”
Lord Petyr Approaches
Sansa walked away; her footsteps echoed in the corridor, getting fainter with every step. Jon hoped it was not an ominous sign of her drifting away from him. He could not have her scheming with Lord Petyr Baelish. Not with the threat from beyond the Wall. A chill went down Jon’s spine, as if an icy wind had stroked his back. That seemed to happen more often than not when he thought about the White Walkers, the Others and the Night King these days.
The voice sent another chill down Jon’s spine, before his stomach heaved. The latter always happened when Lord Petyr Baelish approached him. He had a way of making Jon’s skin crawl.
“I was hoping,” Lord Baelish continued. “To have a moment of your time to ask a question.”
This is the moment he’s been waiting for. “Aye, My Lord,” Jon said. “You have my attention. Ask away.”
Lord Petyr’s Proposition
Lord Petyr bent his head, to make himself appear deferential to a king. “The Knights of the Vale showed their worth during the Battle for Winterfell. Many Northmen and Wildlings would have been crushed if we had not arrived.”
We? Jon wondered who Lord Baelish was referring to. He was neither from the Vale, nor a knight, nor even a fighter. What right did he have to consider himself one of them? “I have yet to hear a question, Lord Baelish,” Jon said.
“I prefer Lord Baelish.”
Lord Baelish curled his lips, as if he were trying to personify the mocking part of his mockingbird sigil. “As you prefer, Your Grace,” he said. “The Vale deserves a reward for its part in retaking Winterfell for the Starks. We ask for a union with the North; one through blood that will ensure that our interests will remain mutual for generations to come. I propose a marital alliance between the ruler of the Vale and Lady Sansa.”
The Vale Deserves A Reward
Jon inhaled deeply and stared at Lord Baelish, to give nothing away. As the silence grew, the glint in Lord Baelish’s eyes altered from haughtiness to nervousness, like he sensed that his one chance to marry Sansa was disappearing before him. “That the Vale deserves a reward,” Jon said. “We are in agreement. Remind me, though, My Lord, who is the current Lord of the Vale?”
Lord Baelish snorted and a hint of smile returned to his face. “The Vale does not have a lord at present. We have a boy liege, but he is too young to rule and certainly too young to wed.”
“He is not too young to be betrothed. Sansa can wait until her cousin comes of age.”
“You are right, Your Grace. Lord Robin Arryn is not too young to be betrothed and he is fond of his cousin. But he is a sickly child and afflicted by coughs. There are fears he may not see out the winter if his coughing fits continue-”
“If such an unfortunate scenario were to occur to Lord Robin, and we pray it doesn’t,” Jon interjected. “Then, Sansa would marry the next in line to the Eyrie: Harold Wardyng, Lord Robin’s cousin, if I am not mistaken?”
Lord Baelish’s eyes narrowed. “The Vale has heard of the threat from north of the Wall,” he said, as if he were playing his last, most desperate hand. “It makes us shiver at night. We want to stay at Winterfell and fight alongside the Northmen. But, as the Lord Protector of the Vale, I decide if we are to stay for the fight or not. The Knights of the Vale will only if you permit me to marry your sister.”
Jon raised a brow. “The agreement has already been made. I had Maester Walkin send a raven to the Eyrie, stating that Lady Sansa will marry Lord Robin when he comes of age, or the next in line should he not. Furthermore, Lord Nestor Royce and the other lords of the Vale have agreed to remain in Winterfell to help us fight the Night King.”
“They are men of honour. They would not undermine their Lord Protector.”
A smirk pulled at the corners of Jon’s mouth. The Lords of the Vale had not undermined their Lord Protector. He was their equal on the Vale’s council, now that Lady Lysa Arryn was dead. But Jon decided against reminding Lord Baelish that. “It would seem your vassals already have,” Jon said. “How else do you think I know that Harold Hardyng is Lord Robin’s cousin?”
And he walked away, satisfied with the knowledge that he had denied Lord Petyr his wish. The man would not be marrying Sansa.
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