Tyrion has been trying to abstain from wine (well, too much wine, anyway), but considering the day's events, he can't quite fault himself for the relapse.
He banishes himself out to the terrace, leaving Sansa her privacy, or at least some semblance of it. He is not sure how long he sits there, kept company only by his wine cup and a hearty sense of abject failure. The daylight eventually fades, passing into night. The wine helps to dull his senses, at least, if not his guilt.
Eventually Shae comes, carrying a tray of food.
"You're drunk," she says briskly. "You should eat something."
"Neither of us deserve her."
"Speak for yourself," Shae scowls. She sets the tray down in front of him with an unnecessary clang. He winces. "You should take her away from him."
"Do you really think my father would allow it?"
"Do you really think your father is a god? I promise you, he is not. If someone shoved a knife in his guts, he would bleed and die same as anyone."
"Don't get any ideas," Tyrion says dryly.
Shae rests her hands on the table and leans down, meeting his eyes. She lowers her voice. "Joffrey is a rotten king."
"Not the first rotten king."
"What difference does that make? I thought you stayed here to make things better. That's why you wouldn't run away with me when I asked you. Why a life with me was not enough."
"Shae—" he says miserably.
She glares at him. "Don't look at me with your sad puppy eyes. I don't want your pity. But you know it and I know it: keeping that little shit on the throne will help no one."
"What other option is there?"
Shae says nothing.
"There's a good chance Margaery will soften him," Tyrion says. "The girl knows what she's doing."
"Maybe. But not soon enough."
Tyrion groans. "What would you have me do?"
"Help her. Protect her. She is your wife."
"Yes, really!" Shae cries. She goes quieter, gathering control of herself, but the words don't lose any bite. "So you are not in love. What good is love in this place? Who does it help? The point is, you are bound to each other now. You protect each other." She pauses for just a moment, then finishes, her voice steady, "She is yours and you are hers."
Tyrion feels a sharp pang of misery. "If I could have married you—"
"I wanted you to be my wife." The words come out choked and pathetic—and yet somehow, not saying them would be worse. She deserves at least this much. "I do love you."
He doesn't know for certain in the dark, but he thinks Shae's eyes might be gleaming. "And what good is that, hmm?"
"It's brought us some happiness."
"It did for a time," she agrees, almost gently. "And now it's over."
He sighs heavily. "I know." For a long time they're quiet. "Are you going to leave?"
"Only once I know she is safe." Shae leans in close and presses her lips to his forehead. "You help her. Be brave, my lion."
Lying in bed, Sansa listens to Shae and Tyrion talking outside. She can't make the words out; she hears just the sound, the way their voices twine familiarly. It makes her heart ache.
What would it be like, to have someone like that? One person to be true to while you lie to the rest of the world.
Of course, there's no point in wondering. It can never happen—not for her. She squeezes her eyes closed, angry at how much it makes her want to cry, and pretends not to hear them talking.
When she wakes in the morning, she discovers that Tyrion is still out on the terrace, asleep in his chair.
For a moment, she feels guilty—this is his home just as much as it is hers (more, really), and she knows that he is already an outcast in his own family. Now he has been banished by his wife, too. Maybe she is a true Lannister after all.
But that isn't true and it isn't fair. He's the one who hurt her. Lied to her. She shouldn't be the one feeling guilty.
She leans against the doorframe, watching him sleep. His mouth is slightly open, his hair mussed. He looks foolish, really, and not at all like the handsome dream husband Sansa had always imagined and expected.
Still, there is a part of her—a stupid part—that feels so fond of him.
As if he feels her watching him, Tyrion stirs, groaning. Then he wakes properly and looks up at her. She meets his eyes for a moment, and that stupid part of her wants him to speak. To say something that will magically turn everything better, and make them friends again.
"Sansa," he says, his voice a croak, and she realizes that he has been drinking. Is still a little drunk.
Disappointment pulses through her. Disappointment in him, for breaking another of his promises. In herself, for caring in the first place.
She holds his gaze a little longer – long enough that she thinks he must see how he's hurt her, because his eyes go weary and sad and he looks away. Sansa turns and disappears inside, and he stays out on the terrace, banished like a bad dog.
Sansa has better luck visiting Margaery a second time: Joffrey is nowhere to be seen. Margaery dismisses her handmaidens, insisting that she needs some time alone with her dear friend. The words make Sansa blush, and yet doubt lurks underneath her happiness. She knows better than to trust kind words like that, words that insist she is special.
When Sansa gives her the embroidered handkerchief, Margaery's face lights up in a smile. "Oh Sansa, you shouldn't have. It's beautiful."
"It's nothing. I just thought—"
Margaery smiles and tucks the handkerchief into her bodice. "For luck."
Sansa knows better than to really trust Margaery. She is too beautiful and kind and warm and good; Sansa has believed in people before and been wrong, and she has never wanted to believe in anyone more than Margaery. That's why she knows she mustn't.
"Sansa, what is it?" Margaery asks, brushing a finger against Sansa's cheek.
"Nothing. I ... I just hope you'll be all right."
She regrets it as soon as she's said it. It's too honest. No one must ever say what Joffrey is really like; Margaery certainly hasn't. And now here Sansa is, as good as saying that marrying Joffrey is dangerous.
But Margaery doesn't protest. She does not say some sweet pretty thing about what a joy it is to be Joffrey's bride.
Her face almost grim, she says, "Thank you."
Sansa knows that look on Margaery's face so well—knows exactly how it feels to wear it, and how hard it is to cover it with a smile.
On a whim, Sansa wraps her arms around Margaery. Margaery is still for a moment, and Sansa is almost embarrassed, but then Margaery's arms circle around her, holding her close. Sansa closes her eyes, and lets herself pretend—just for a moment—that she has a family again. A sister who understands. Someone she can trust as simply as breathing.
Shae is called to Lady Margaery's room—something about a message for Lady Sansa and her dress for the wedding. Frivolity. Shae feels a stab of something, almost like jealousy, at the fact that a girl like Lady Margaery retains Sansa's trust when Shae has lost it, maybe for good. Perhaps it all comes down to blood and rank, like always. Margaery is a fine lady too. People trust those of their own kind, and Shae can never be what Sansa is.
When Shae enters the room, Lady Margaery is standing at the window. She turns, her arms folded in front of her chest. This is not the pretty girl who is all charm and laughter in the garden. There is stone in her look, and Shae knows right away that something is wrong.
"Leave us, please," Lady Margaery instructs her servant, who does not need telling twice.
The door shuts, leaving Shae alone with her.
Lady Margaery comes forward slowly, her steps measured. "You're Lady Sansa's handmaiden."
"Yes," Shae says. She will say only as much as she needs to.
"I've heard her speak fondly of you."
Shae says nothing, waiting.
"I know you must have her best interests in mind, as I do," Lady Margaery continues.
"She can rely on me."
"I'm glad to hear it. Some time ago, Petyr Baelish was often in Lady Sansa's company."
"What do you think his intentions were?"
"Nothing good. Why?"
Of course, Margaery does not explain. Her face is thoughtful, eyes sharp. Abruptly, she changes her tune. "I've heard the most awful stories about Lord Tywin and his son." Shae feels it like a blow; it pulls the air from her lungs. "Did you know, there is a rumor that he made it very clear that if Lord Tyrion brought a whore to the Red Keep, his father would have the woman killed?"
Here she is at last. Caught.
Shae keeps her voice steady, uninterested. "Why would I know that? Besides, Lord Tyrion is a husband now."
Margaery laughs shortly. "And what could husbands want with whores?"
"I suppose some of them prefer pretty blonde boys."
Lady Margaery's mouth twists in what might be a smile. If it is, it is not a pretty one. "I know who you are, Shae."
"I don't know what you mean," Shae answers evenly.
"Very well. If you'd like to play it like that, then by all means, do. The point is, I think you should feel a bit uneasy. A mysterious handmaiden, appearing quite suddenly when Lord Tyrion returned here, with no discernible ties to anyone and something—well, unusual in her manner. Coarse, some might say. Most servant girls don't threaten other servant girls at knifepoint, as a rule. Not to mention that you were spotted—never mind by who—speaking alone with Lord Tyrion yesterday night in quite an intimate way. Put all of this together, and, well. You certainly wouldn't be able to blame Lord Tywin for being suspicious, if he were to find out about you."
Shae curls her hands into fists, trying to stifle her rage. Calmly, she asks, "What do you want?"
"I want you to be quite aware that I could ruin you," Lady Margaery answers simply. She is standing close now. "Not that I want to. I'm not Joffrey, or his mother; I take no joy in such things. But I could. I hope I've just illustrated that."
Shae glares at her.
"Lord Baelish will be returning very soon," Lady Margaery continues, "but only for a little while. He intends to take Sansa away with him, and it's as you said: I doubt his intentions are good. I don't think it would make her happy, to go with him."
"So what do you want me to do?"
"I want you to take her away first."
"Far. You'll be provided with money and safe passage. It won't be a luxurious journey, but I have faith in your capabilities."
"What makes you think I will be able to just steal away Lord Tyrion's wife?"
"Timing will be rather crucial."
New suspicion prickles. Shae asks, "When would we go?"
"Your wedding is tomorrow."
"And I trust the celebration will provide a suitable distraction."
"It's a wedding. There are always a thousand things happening at once at a wedding." Margaery gives her one of those charming fine lady smiles.
Shae scowls at her. "And what about him?"
"I doubt he will take kindly to losing her."
Margaery says nothing, her face unreadable. After a moment, she says, "I'm not the only one who has people listening out there. There's a good chance you've been found out by those less kind than I." She places a hand on Shae's bare shoulder. Her fingers don't stay still; instead, she traces small circles against Shae's skin. "This is the best thing for you, and for Sansa. Please tell me you'll do it."
Shae meets her eyes. "Do I have a choice?"
"Do any of us?" Margaery says, and Shae cannot argue with that.
Sansa goes again to the godswood. She knows Shae forbid her from walking around alone, but Shae is the servant, not the mistress. Besides, what difference is there between sitting in her room, caged, and roaming out in the open air? Either way, Joffrey will find her if he wants to, and either way there is no one to protect her but herself.
But as she nears the godswood, she realizes that someone else is there already: a man, kneeling. Her heart flutters nervously, and she turns to go.
Then the kneeling figure turns and looks up at her, catching her interest. He is a sad-faced man, chubby and unwashed, his face vaguely familiar.
"Lady Sansa!" the man says, and scrambles to his feet.
Her stomach lurches, afraid. Joffrey isn't the only man who can hurt her. (She will never, never forget those men in the alley.) Taking a few steps backward as gracefully as she can, she asks, "Are we acquainted?"
The man smiles wistfully. It is a gentle, good-hearted smile. Sansa relaxes slightly. "We were briefly, my lady. I don't blame you for not remembering me. I have more reason to remember you – you see, you saved my life."
She is able to place his face at once. "Ser Dontos. Of course." The man Joffrey meant to kill for his own amusement. The man Sansa saved. "I'm glad to see you doing well."
He snorts. "Well? Not quite." He looks doubtfully down at his less-than-pristine clothes, and his staggering movements make Sansa realize he's drunk. Why must all the men she sees today be drunk? But when he looks up again, his face is achingly sincere. "But alive. And for that I am forever grateful, my lady."
"It was nothing," Sansa says, feeling flustered—but happily so. "Truly, anyone would have done the same."
"But they wouldn't have. The way you changed the King's mind—it was very clever and very brave."
Sansa feels a surge of pride. Here, at least, is someone who thinks she is more than just a gullible little fool.
"I'm sorry to have interrupted you, Ser. I'll leave you to your prayers."
"Actually, I was hoping to see you."
"You were? Why?"
He flushes, bashful. "I've wanted to repay you in some small way for what you did for me. Of course, nothing can ever truly pay such a debt—"
"Please," Sansa says, "don't worry—"
"—but it would ease my mind to give you at least a token of my appreciation." He digs into his pocket and reveals a necklace. It is not as fine as most of the baubles Sansa owns, but the look on Ser Dontos's face as he stares down at it makes it clear to Sansa at once that it is priceless. "I meant to give it as a wedding gift, but couldn't seem to find the chance. It belonged to my mother, you see, and her mother before her, and it would honor me and House Hollard to gift it to you."
"Oh, Ser Dontos, I couldn't. It's very kind of you, truly, but I couldn't take such an heirloom—"
"Please," he interrupts. "Please take it, and wear it. It would bring such comfort for me to know that some small part of my house still prospers, and—and keeps the company of beauty."
Sansa cannot quite resist his gallantry. His words are so well-meaning; it makes her want to do something kind for him. And it's only a necklace.
"It's very beautiful." Sansa acquiesces, allowing him to drop the necklace into her palm. She stares down at it. "In fact, it will go very well with my dress for the wedding tomorrow."
"Will it?" Ser Dontos looks almost nervous with delight.
"I shall wear it there proudly," Sansa assures him, and allows him to clasp her hand like a knight in a song would.