*It goes without saying that Game of Thrones – the story and all related characters – belongs to George R. R. Martin. I claim no ownership or association to either the books or the TV series called Game of Thrones. This was written by a fan solely for the enjoyment of other fans.*

A QUICK WORD FROM DAYSTORM: I am the definition of procrastination. With two (count that: 2) full-length fanfics, one of which hasn't been updated in three weeks – I sit down and just whip up a GoT one-shot. So much for working on the chapters I've already got going. LOL

But I wrote this in honor of Sansa Stark. The girl receives so much hate that it's often difficult to filter out all the noise and see Sansa for who she is. Not proud or stubborn, but strong. She may have wavered, her courage waning but through all of it she was never broken. Despite the best – and worst – efforts of those who sought to destroy her Sansa is alive. Not only in body but also in spirit.

She continues to fight with the same deceptive calm of a winter's night. The quiet, almost-warmth of the white snow and crystal stars where the unwary would lie down to sleep, and freeze to death in their dreams without ever waking to realize that the winter was killing them.

A little poetic. But that is how I see Sansa Stark. A girl who has done justice to the Stark name, and who I believe would have made her mother and father very proud.


DAUGHTER OF THE NORTH

"My skin has gone from porcelain, to ivory, to steel."

Sansa Stark

Game of Thrones

George R. R. Martin, author


Sansa Stark knelt in the snow, feeling the icy crystals crunch beneath her legs as she carefully arranged the wide skirt of her gown around herself. Her long auburn hair spilling over her shoulders, like liquid flame in the starlight. The deep red strands against the black wool of her cloak making her seem a forest sprite. That bit of color in the darkness, offset by the milky paleness of her skin. Well aware that she would be interrupted, but hoping for some time to herself before she was missed Sansa pulled a slender blade from the small pouch she had brought with her.

The pouch was unremarkable. Only a small, rough cloth bag that smelled faintly of herbs.

The knife was silver.

A slim, discrete weapon. It was very, very sharp. A knife like this was made for precision. One must know exactly where to cut if one intended to kill. Or to maim.

Taking her time despite the threat of discovery, Sansa lay the knife down to the side of herself. The silver seemed to catch the starlight, shining beckoningly in the night-blue snow. A stiff wind gusted from the north, pinching her cheeks and burning the tips of her ears. But rather than pull up the hood of her cloak, Sansa straightened her back and turned her face into the icy cold. She let her eyes fall closed and allowed only the faintest tilt of a smile touch her lips.

She felt her heart swell, aching with tears and a secret joy. The clear, crisp night seemed to fill her up to where she thought she would burst. It slid against her skin, soaking into her flesh to burrow deep. Deeper. Straight through to her soul. And it was the most glorious sensation. One of happiness and belonging unlike anything she would have imagined.

Sansa had been so long away; she had feared losing this most precious part of herself. The fierceness she once denied. A token of her northern blood. Sansa Stark was not a lady of the south, of the city or of the intrigue of the royal houses. No matter that she once longed for the splendor and magnificence she imagined would be her life at King's Landing, or that she would find her hero-knight like in the old tales told to her as a child. How foolish she'd been!

She was not very much older now than when she first left, but oh how she was different. The girl who returned was not the same naïve little lady who once wanted nothing more than to leave this place. Sansa Stark had needed to turn her heart to ice, to survive the brutality of the world she was thrust into. And as she grew colder, hardening herself against the callous viciousness of that place she did wonder if she would ever be able to thaw that ice . . . were it ever safe to do so.

Truthfully, Sansa did not know.

But it was good to be home.

The wind gusted once more, howling eerily over the deep drifts. Sweeping icy crystals into the air, to fly and flurry like diamond dust in the moonlight. Merry little whirls of weightless snowflakes. Sighing, Sansa finally allowed a real smile to slip past her walls. The wind tangled in her hair, cold fingers brushing her scalp and it felt good. It felt clean.

The moon was nearly-full and so bright she could see its light shining on the wisps of cloud.

It was time.

Using both hands, Sansa scooped handfuls of snow from the ground directly in front of her. Taking care not to disturb the pristine sheet that stretched from the walls of Winterfell behind her all the way to the mysterious dark of the forests beyond the clearing. She would have liked to have gone there and bask in the seclusion of the trees and the sounds of the wilderness away from the bustle of humanity but Sansa knew she would be spotted traversing that wide open expanse of white.

Sansa dug deeply, shoveling out snow to where needed to lean forward to reach the bottom. Her hands quickly turned red and sore, but the pain faded as her flesh became numb. She was out for too long, as the bitter chill of the late night finally began to penetrate her layers of clothing. The heavy cloak. Her fine but sturdy dress. She did not stop. She was unsurprised to find that she could not cease . . . what she was doing was foolish, but it was important. This was something that mattered and to Sansa – who had lost so much already – it felt as if this moment was all that remained to her. It was hers and she would finish what she started.

And so Sansa dug, burrowing down to where ice and snow turned to earth. This is what she wanted. The ground.

A peculiar smell wafted up from the hole. Not the frozen scent she would have expected, but actually the rich black soil-smell of a freshly plowed field. The scent of awakened life. Of spring. Encouraged, Sansa vowed to accept this as the earth granting her permission to do what she came to do. The north welcoming one of its own. She felt warm, now. Cradled by the night, and protected.

There was so much she could have said. She could have wept and been safe, with only the stars to witness. No one would know.

But her purpose in coming here kept still. Silent.

Sansa picked her little silver knife from the snow by her knees. The blade was cold as an icicle in her hand, burning against the skin of her palm.

She shivered.

A moment of doubt seeped into her mind. Fear tightened her belly. They would know! They would know and they would wonder at what she'd done. Sansa could not afford the questions. The suspicion. And once she did this, she could not easily hide the evidence. But she could lie . . . if the south taught her anything it was how to lie.

Swallowing past the knot in her throat, Sansa drew a thick red curl of her own hair forward. Over her shoulder to the front where she could see it. Auburn. Red. It was the color of wine and it was hers. Her heart ached as she recalled how, as a child, her mother would send her maids away so that she could comb Sansa's glorious red hair herself. Run her fingers through it. Sansa would sit patiently, never fidgeting though she sometimes wanted to. Ever the lady, even as a small girl. She would smell the delicate scent of her mother's skin – of wildflowers and wool and smoke – and she would feel comforted. Reassured. Happy to be held and loved.

With a single quick slice of the knife, Sansa cut a heavy lock of hair from her head. She held it a moment, watching it curl in her hand. Foreign and unrecognizable. It looked so strange there, against her pale skin. Like a stain. A ribbon of blood. Another small tremor rolled through Sansa's body as she let the hair fall into the hole she'd made. It landed soundlessly against the dark soil of her homeland.

Sansa knew she'd cut more than was safe. Even by keeping her hair carefully braided in the following weeks, people would notice the missing length.

Her skin had warmed the silver blade, so that it now felt too hot in her grip. But it was too late to stop, now. Too late to decide she was frightened.

Holding the knife tightly, she pressed the razor's edge against the plump flesh of her thumb. She felt the sting of the cut, the uncomfortable sensation of her skin splitting open but the pain was minor and no worse than those times she would prick herself on sewing needles as a girl, while learning to embroider.

In fact, the knife was so sharp and the cut so clean that it took several seconds for the blood to begin to trickle out. Dark in the night, but still very clearly red. A living crimson that came from her heart. Sansa held up her hand, watching with a detached fascination as the blood trickled down the length of her thumb and over her wrist. She took a deep breath, swallowing the icy night air and drawing strength from the sheltering darkness.

Holding her hand over the hole in the snow, Sansa allowed her blood to drip down onto the bare earth. Her heart thudded, beating like a drum within her. A funeral dirge no one else would hear.

I am my mother, she though and that wild fierceness swelled suddenly. With conviction. With purpose. With power. I am my father. Their flesh is lost to me but through my blood – their blood – I have returned them to their homeland.

Out loud, her voice hushed but clear and devoid of her former doubt she said, "I am Sansa Stark. I am the wolf. The north remembers. I will never forget."

And from the darkness beyond the veil of men, from the depths of the forests, the mournful wail of wolves rose as if in tribute. Their songs ageless, timeless. And Sansa understood. She was forgiven.