Note: This follows my earlier stories give me hope in silence, skin and bones of love, and we lost faith in the arms of love. It exists in that series of events, and is therefore non-compliant with season four of the show itself.
But it doesn't work that way
Wanting not to want you won't make it so
It doesn't work that way
Don't leave me here alone
(The National, "You Were A Kindness")
Look around you. We're all liars here, and every one of us is better than you.
Jaime drinks deep from his goblet, then sets it down on the table with a thud. He's still ungainly with his remaining hand. Tyrion tries not to find it unsettling. "The Stark girl looks miserable."
"My lady wife looks miserable, you mean."
"Very courteous, though."
"Ah yes." Tyrion grimaces. "I don't know if a more courteous lady has ever lived."
"Cersei told me you're staying out of her bed."
"Her family was slaughtered by ours. It's not exactly conducive to romance."
Jaime smiles, mischievous. He's lost his hand but not his ability to annoy. "Would you like to romance her?"
"Go away," Tyrion grumbles.
"Oh, you would!"
Tyrion says nothing. Jaime laughs to himself. The laughter does not last for long, though, and when it stops, he looks startlingly gaunt.
Solemn now, Jaime says, "I swore to return your wife to her mother. Her and her sister."
"Swore to Catelyn Stark?" Tyrion asks, surprised.
"No, no. To Brienne."
"Brienne, your statuesque new traveling companion?"
"The very one. I can't wait to introduce the pair of you, by the way. Seeing you stand next to each other – at this point I can hope for nothing better out of life."
Tyrion ignores the jape. "Why is Brienne so devoted to Sansa?"
"She swore Catelyn Stark a vow. When she thought she would be unable to fulfill it, she passed it on to me."
"And you agreed to it?" Tyrion can't quite imagine that.
Jaime doesn't reply, aside from looking suddenly very disgruntled.
"Your giantess must be very persuasive."
"She's all duty and honor."
"Aren't we all?" Tyrion says dryly.
"But she means it, is the thing. She's ..."
"Odd," Jaime concludes. "And very annoying."
"Ah, I see. The two of you have that in common. So you swore her a vow."
"I did. Alas, there will be no keeping it. Catelyn Stark is dead, the little girl's who knows where, and Sansa ... well. Sansa won't be going anywhere, will she? She's part of the family now."
Tyrion doesn't say anything. Instead, he stares at the wine in his goblet. Turns the cup in small circles and watches the liquid swirl.
"Tyrion, it's good of you to leave her be. But it can't go on. You know that. There must be a Lannister heir in the north. You know what our father—"
"Oh, fuck our father." He's tired of talking about Sansa. There's no one he can speak to about her in the way he would like to. He wishes he could talk about her cleverness, her bravery, her strength. But of course, no one can know about any of those things. They're her only weapons, and ought to be kept secret. So instead it's all pity and despair. And speaking of pity and despair: "How have you found our darling sister since you returned?"
It's Jaime's turn to stare into his drink.
"Did she miss me?" he asks. He means to sound sarcastic.
"Desperately," Tyrion says. "It made her even more charming than usual."
Jaime does not look so heartened by that.
In the morning, Sansa embroiders pink roses onto a handkerchief – a small wedding gift for Margaery, who no doubt has a hundred handkerchiefs with pink roses on them already. Still, none of those are from Sansa. It's a small, silly gift, but she likes thinking that Margaery will have something of Sansa close to her even after she's married.
Tyrion sets a book down on the table, catching her attention. "What do you think?" he asks.
Sansa sets aside her needlework for a moment to consider the book. It's old and very grand looking, the sides of its pages pressed together like a brick of gold. She puts two fingers to the leather cover, tracing the letters of the title. Lives of Four Kings.
"It's beautiful," she says truthfully, looking back up at Tyrion.
He smiles, pleased by her interest. "I'm glad you think so. I predict its recipient will be staggeringly ungrateful."
"It's for Joffrey and Margaery?"
"Indeed it is. Perhaps a bit of history will lend our great king a bit of wisdom."
"Our great king wants to be wise almost as much as he wants to be kind."
He chuckles as he takes a seat beside her. "My lady wife, I couldn't have said it better myself."
Sansa smiles to herself and returns her attention to embroidery.
"You're very good at that," Tyrion remarks, leaning closer to peer down at the tiny roses.
Sansa can't help but feel pleased at the compliment. "I love doing it. When I was younger, Septa Mordane always told me I had the tidiest stitches of any girl she'd ever known. Arya hated anything to do with a needle and thread. She always said it was a stupid thing to be good at, but that's because she couldn't do it. We used to get so angry at each other. Our mother would—"
She can see her mother's face, her mouth pinched in that disapproving way that Sansa found so irritating back then and would give anything to see now.
"It's for Margaery," she forces herself to say.
"It's very beautiful," Tyrion says softly.
She looks up at him. His eyes are warm with sympathy. "Thank you, my lord."
He puts his hand on her shoulder, the touch light and almost timid. It's a funny thought: Tyrion Lannister, with his smooth words and jokes and cleverness, being timid about anything. About Sansa.
Sansa wants very badly to visit Margaery on her own – to have a few last moments that are just theirs – but like most things she wants, she doesn't get it. She's nearly to Margaery's quarters; she turns a corner and there's Joffrey coming toward her, trailed by a pair of guards.
She feels a powerful combination of sickness and anger at the sight of him. She's getting used to that feeling.
"Your Grace," she says demurely.
"Lady Sansa." He beams at her. "I'm on my way to visit my sweet lady Margaery. Won't you walk with me?" He offers his arm, practically bouncing with delight. Once she would have been so thrilled to imagine a young king could ever be so happy to see her.
Ignore him. He's nothing. She takes his arm.
"You and my uncle look very cozy lately," Joffrey remarks pleasantly as they walk along.
"He is my husband, Your Grace."
"Is he? I know he hasn't fucked you yet. Why is that? You see, I think it's that he can't." Behind them, the guards chuckle. Joffrey lowers his voice. These words are just for her. "It's not that you won't let him. You'd let anyone, wouldn't you? Even a gnarled little monster like him."
Sansa holds her head high and pretends not to hear him.
"You'll let me." Joffrey curls his fingers around her arm. Sansa imagines breaking every one of them.
"You'll be married to Margaery."
"Oh, I'll fuck her too." Sansa feels a lurch of sickness. Someone as kind and bright as Margaery shouldn't have to waste her radiance on a husband so unworthy of her.
Annoyed at her silence, Joffrey orders, "Don't be rude. Answer me when I speak to you."
" Yes, Your Grace."
"Mm, that's better. Is that what you'll say when I take your maidenhead?"
The words are so coarse – Sansa doesn't mean to protest, but she can't help it. "You can't."
"What?" Joffrey snarls.
You idiot, she curses herself.
"Lord Tyrion is my husband," she says again. "He's already ..." But she cannot bring herself to say the rest of it. It's too vulgar. And besides, it's treason to lie to a king.
Even though she doesn't say it, Joffrey follows along well enough.
"So he has fucked you." He looks Sansa up and down. "Poor lady. And here I thought you were so depressed because your family's been slaughtered. But it isn't that at all, is it? It's that you've had that gargoyle inside you."
Sansa wants to follow her husband's example and slap Joffrey right across his smug evil face.
Instead, she stares blankly forward and resists the eager tingling in her fingers.
"Don't worry," Joffrey sneers. "I'll have my lady wife to please first, of course, but I won't neglect you too long. You'll see what it's like with a real man soon enough."
He squeezes Sansa's arm, tight enough to bruise, and then lifts his hand to rap his knuckles against the door.
Margaery opens the door, already smiling. She looks as though there's no one in the world she'd rather see. Sansa resolves to keep the handkerchief for now. She won't let Joffrey ruin the gift.