dollsome: (game of thrones ♦ once & future queen)
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a radiant darkness upon us - Game of Thrones ; Tyrion/Sansa, Sansa + Shae, Tyrion/Shae ; Part 4 - 2,900 words. In the days before Joffrey's wedding to Margaery, Sansa and Tyrion's marriage grows more complicated.

Part 4

Sansa sits at her dressing table, absently stringing the necklace between her hands. She doesn’t want to put it down just yet: she’s still enjoying the comfort that came from the encounter. Ser Dontos may not be very dashing or handsome, but no one ever is in real life. At least he saw something worth admiring in her.

The door opens. Tyrion announces, “I’m only in here for a change of clothes. Then I’ll be out of your way.”

“It’s your room, my lord,” Sansa replies crisply, and does not turn to look at him.

Our room.”

Sansa doesn’t reply.

“Sansa,” Tyrion says as he rifles through the wardrobe. His voice is so casual that Sansa knows it must be something important. “How would you feel about a bit of travel after the wedding?”

Leaving the Red Keep seems as unfathomable as flying. “To where?”

“I’m considering asking my father if you and I might go to Casterly Rock.”

She feels suddenly disoriented with hope. To leave this place—to really leave, even if it is only to go to another place overrun by Lannisters—to leave Joffrey behind—

“Isn’t it too dangerous to travel?” she asks, careful not to sound excited.

“It is dangerous, yes,” Tyrion admits. “But it’s dangerous here, too.”

She can’t help it: she turns and looks at him. He meets her gaze, and his eyes are warm.

He listened. He listened yesterday and he’s changing things.

“Will Lord Tywin let you go?” Sansa asks, trying not to let her gladness show too openly.

“He wants an heir in the North. If I tell him that Casterly Rock is more conducive to romance than a place where you’ve lived in constant agony as Joffrey’s prisoner, I think he might just see the light.”

Nervousness darts through her. Does he really mean—?

“It’s the excuse he will listen to,” Tyrion adds, reading her face. “That’s all. I have no intention of breaking the promise I made on our wedding night.”

She calms. “All right.”

“Good.”

He gives her a kind little smile, and she can’t quite help but smile back.

He is doing what a husband should. Protecting her. Keeping her safe.

But as soon as she thinks the word ‘husband,’ she feels like a fool. He isn’t hers, not properly. He never has been. How could he ever even consider her his true wife for a moment, when Shae has held his heart for so long?

Not that Sansa wants to be a true wife to him. She doesn’t. But there’s something that burns indignantly inside her, knowing that she never even had the chance.

Lightly, she asks, “Will Shae come?”

“Do you want her to?”

“Do you?” Sansa asks, not looking at him.

He’s quiet for a moment too long. “I want your happiness.”

“Do you think she would want to come?”

“I know she likes to be by your side.”

“Or yours,” Sansa can’t resist muttering.

Tyrion chuckles darkly. “I think she’s quite sick of me. But you, Lady Sansa, have a certain inexhaustible charm.”

Sansa rolls her eyes, trying not to let his words sink in. “I suppose she’ll come if she wants to.”

“Yes,” Tyrion agrees. “Let’s leave the choice up to her, shall we?”

Sansa nods.

Tyrion gives her a slight smile, the corner of his mouth curving in a way that Sansa has come to find oddly handsome. Once she never would have imagined she could find anything handsome about him, but she supposes that must be part of getting to know someone. You begin to see all the little truths of them that are missed at first glance. She smiles back thoughtlessly, them remembers that she’s supposed to be angry with him.

She doesn’t know why she can’t just remain cold; it would make things so much easier. But he is trying, really trying to take care of her, and if there’s one thing her mother taught her, it’s that a husband and wife shouldn’t quarrel on the important things. They must stand together.

So maybe it isn’t weak and foolish of her to want to forgive him. Maybe it’s simply what’s best.

“Where did you get that necklace?” Tyrion asks, approaching her. He seems eager to keep talking, now that the ice has melted between them.

Sansa’s heart leaps. Smoothly, she lies, “I’ve always had it. My mother gave it to me when I was little.”

She doesn’t quite know why she holds back the truth. It’s a silly thing to lie about, but she doesn’t want the gift spoiled. She knows it was stupid of her to wander outside alone, to let a strange drunken man talk to her. It could have been so much worse than it turned out to be. It could have been Joffrey. If she tells, Tyrion will worry whether she can take care of herself, and Sansa doesn’t think she could bear being more caged than she already is.

She would like to keep this one small sweet thing to herself.

“I’ve never seen it before.” Tyrion reaches out with one fingertip to poke one of the necklace’s gemstones.

“I didn’t want to wear it here,” Sansa invents. “I didn’t ... I didn’t think it was fashionable enough. I thought the other fine ladies might laugh at me. But now that she’s dead ... I don’t care so much about fitting in anymore.”

She feels a pang of guilt, using her mother to lie. But she knows that Tyrion won’t question it.

Sure enough—

“Vastly overrated stuff, fitting in,” he remarks wryly.

“You’re too wise to worry about things like that.”

“On the contrary. If I had the choice, Sansa, I believe I would jump at it in an instant. To be just like everyone else, to have someone look right through you without a second thought ... My gods, what a treat it would be, to be thought wholly unexceptional.”

“Oh, but it isn’t a treat,” Sansa protests without thinking. “It’s exhausting, to always have to seem like there’s nothing interesting about you. Not that I’m interesting, but—it’s difficult to keep all of your thoughts inside all the time. I know people have always been cruel to you, and that’s awful and unfair. But at least you get to say what you think.” Boldly, she says, “Sometimes I wish I could.”

“I wish you could, too. Though I admire your restraint. More restraint would do me good, no doubt. Once we’re away,” he adds, “there will be less restraint. Still some, of course—polite society demands it, and I’m not ready to turn wildling just yet—but less. We can begin anew. Say what we mean. Get to know each other for who we really are.”

Sansa smiles. “You mean you think I’m more than just a silly girl?”

“Depends. Do you think I’m more than a funny—and, alas, too-often-inebriated—dwarf?”

“Of course I do.”

“And of course I do, too.” He clasps her hand, quite gallant. “I look forward to getting to know you better, Lady Sansa, away from all this mayhem and misery.”

“And I you, Lord Tyrion,” Sansa says, inclining her head. For once, it’s fun to play at courtliness.

They stare at one another, faces lit with smiles. It’s the sort of moment where a proper married couple might share a kiss.

As soon as Sansa thinks it, she wishes she hadn’t. Her cheeks begin to burn.

Tyrion looks into her eyes a second longer, then drops his gaze to the floor.

“But first,” he says rather hastily, and lets go of her hand, “we have the wedding of the century to attend, and we shall have to keep our masks firmly in place.”

“To nod and smile at everything Joffrey does,” Sansa says wearily. Her fingertips tingle.

“To refrain from dumping our wine over his head,” Tyrion says woefully, “when it’s so plentiful, and his golden locks just asking for it.”

“Maybe it won’t be so bad,” Sansa suggests, “as long as we have each other’s company.”

“Lady wife,” Tyrion replies gladly, “it will be the saving grace of the day.”


+


Sansa wonders if Shae will come to dress her for supper. She was here this morning, and Sansa allowed her to help with getting dressed; Sansa didn’t want to look like a mess visiting Lady Margaery. It was excruciating, the room heavy with awkward silence as Shae swept around, dealing with buttons and laces and then weaving Sansa’s hair into plaits. Sansa felt the stupidest urge to cry the whole time; once, she would have been happy and comfortable to have Shae fluttering around her, helping. She would have liked the chance to talk to her. And now it was all ruined. She couldn’t bear to meet Shae’s eyes in the mirror, even though she wanted desperately to know if Shae felt just as awful as she did.

So really, Sansa can’t blame her for disappearing.

Sansa would disappear too, if she had the choice.

She considers the gowns in her wardrobe, wondering how sloppy she’ll look if she tries to dress herself. She mustn’t look sloppy: she’s to eat with the Lannisters, a feast celebrating the wedding on the morrow, and Joffrey will take anything less than impeccable beauty as a personal slight.

It seems grotesque, to do so much celebrating over a poor girl getting bound to a monster for life. If she were Margaery, she would go mad from it.

Sansa sighs and goes to the looking glass instead. Her hair could use restyling. She makes a face at herself in the mirror, then reaches for Ser Dontos’ necklace and puts it on.

She is tilting her head, considering how the necklace looks, when the door opens and Shae comes in.

“There you are,” Sansa says, relieved in spite of everything. “I can’t be late, or Joffrey—”

“We’re leaving tomorrow,” Shae interrupts, her voice low and determined.

“What?” Sansa asks stupidly.

“I made the arrangements already.” Shae glances around the room. “Start planning now. Take what you must, but not too much.”

“Why?”

“Because you will become much less attached to your pretty things when they are slowing us down.”

“No. Not that,” Sansa says, frustrated. “Why would we leave?”

“What do you mean, why?” Shae says impatiently. “Joffrey. These people. You do not need to live like this anymore.”

“But I can’t just go.” The idea is so unfathomable that Sansa almost laughs.

And yet Shae carries on like it’s the most reasonable thing in the world. “You’ll be fine.”

“That isn’t what I meant.”

Shae puts her hands on her hips. “Well then, what did you mean?”

“The wedding is tomorrow,” Sansa says blankly.

“And you really want to stick around for Joffrey’s happy day? That means so much to you?”

“Margaery will want me there.”

Shae scoffs. “Margaery Tyrell can take care of herself. I promise, Sansa, she is not relying on you.”

Sansa feels a sick, flopping feeling in her stomach. Surely there’s something real in her friendship with Margaery – not everything, no, but at least some flicker of true caring. But Shae seems to think that there’s no way Margaery could ever really care about Sansa, or find comfort and strength in her friendship, and there is no denying that Shae’s clever. Much cleverer than Sansa. She knows just how to see right into the truth of things.

“I can’t just—they’ll find us,” Sansa protests weakly.

“No they won’t. I’m good at hiding.”

“I can’t just run away with you. Tyrion, he’s taking me to Casterly Rock after the wedding, he promised—”

“And you think you’ll be safe there in that pit of Lannisters? Tyrion is Master of Coin. You won’t be able to stay away forever.”

“But it will at least be a start.”

Shae comes forward and grips Sansa’s shoulders. Sansa flinches at the familiar touch of her hands, but doesn’t move away. “It’s all right to be afraid,” Shae says, her dark eyes fixed on Sansa’s. “But I swear I will keep you safe. And we have money. We can be comfortable, if that is what you’re worried about.”

Sansa feels as if she’s been dropped into deep water and can’t fight her way to the surface; all the breath threatens to leave her lungs. “No,” she manages.

Annoyance darts across Shae’s face. “What do you mean, no?”

“I mean no. I can’t just run away with you!”

“Why not?”

Shae asks it so simply, as if she can’t fathom why Sansa wouldn’t trust her—even after always telling her not to.

Shae, who has tricked her from the moment they met.

“Because you lied to me!” Sansa cries. Shae glares at her—a glare that means Do not let them hear you, and Sansa lowers her voice. “All this time, you’ve lied to me, every single day! I’m not an idiot, I’m not going to just trust you—”

“What, you think I have some big plan to hurt you?” Shae demands, anger creeping onto her face. “You think I would ever let you get hurt?”

“I don’t know anymore!” Sansa wants to say more, but can’t. She wants to say that now she can’t stop thinking of Shae taking stories back to Tyrion about Sansa: Sansa at her most pathetic and stupid. Sansa crying herself to sleep, or not understanding why the poor would try to hurt her, or not knowing why the sheets should have been bloodied after her wedding night. Maybe Shae told Tyrion all of those things, and together they laughed at what a child Sansa was, what a small little idiot. And meanwhile Sansa has been here, blind, loving the both of them. Trusting the both of them, even though she knows she shouldn’t trust anyone at all.

“I don’t know,” she says again, and hates how weak she sounds.

Shae moves one hand from Sansa’s shoulder to touch her cheek. “I would not let you. I would kill anyone who tried to hurt you. I would rather die than cause you harm, you hear me?”

Sansa finds herself blinking back tears; it makes her furious, more than anything. She swallows the lump in her throat. “How can you even stand me, after I married him? I took him away from you—”

Shae’s expression turns solemn, sad, and she pulls her hand away from Sansa’s face. It tells Sansa all she needs to know. It’s true. Shae and Tyrion were in love, really in love, and Sansa’s the one who ruined it. Who destroyed their lives. Who destroyed Shae’s life.

“That was not your choice,” Shae says, the words careful and steady.

And of course it’s true—Sansa didn’t choose to marry Tyrion; she never would have.

But now she thinks of Tyrion holding her hand. That hint of a kiss in the air around them.

“And if I did choose him?” she asks, a little breathless.

“Fine. Choose him. Take him. I don’t want him.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Shae grips her shoulders again, hard. “Sansa, you mean more to me than any man. Even him.”

It’s a beautiful promise. The kind that a mother would make. For a moment, Sansa wants so badly to listen and accept it as the truth.

But of course she can’t.

“I don’t—I can never believe you. Let go of me!” Sansa tries to shake her off.

Shae’s eyes fall on the necklace. She touches the chain. “Where did you get this?”

“It’s mine, it—it was my mother’s—”

“It is not. I know every piece of jewelry you have. This was not here before.”

“It was too—”

“Where did you get this, Sansa?” Shae demands. “Who gave it to you?”

“It’s none of your business! What answer do you want? Maybe Tyrion gave it to me, and he just didn’t want you to know. Did you ever think of that?”

Did he give it to you?”

Sansa can’t quite bring herself to commit to that lie. She stays quiet, glaring at Shae.

“Fine,” Shae says bluntly. “Keep your secrets. But we are going tomorrow, whether you want to or not. We are getting away from this place.”

“You can’t tell me what to do!” Sansa cries, even though it makes her sound like a petulant child.

“Well, that is too bad, because I am telling you what to do.”

“You can’t!”

“Oh, can’t I? Why not?”

Something inside Sansa snaps.

“I am a highborn lady, a daughter of Winterfell! A Lannister’s wife. What are you?” Sansa stands taller, glaring down at Shae. Usually she thinks of her mother when she wants to be strong, but now her thoughts turn to Queen Cersei. Coldly, she says, “You’re a servant. A whore. You don’t get to talk back to me.”

In the wake of what she’s said, the very silence seems to catch fire.

Sansa watches the hurt break over Shae’s face, as raw and dreadful as the sickness Sansa suddenly feels inside. Shae’s dark eyes are so vulnerable for a moment that Sansa thinks she might cry.

But then Shae lifts her chin higher, and turns and storms from the room. The door slams behind her, harsh and sudden as a slap.

It’s only once Shae has gone that Sansa realizes she’s shaking. She lets herself sink down onto the floor and breathes in and out, feeling sick and foul and cruel.

They’ve made me a Lannister, she thought once. She thinks it again, here and now, and the thought is like winter in her veins, turning her hard and cold.
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