Philip99: Quentyn would've never married Margaery if Nymeria was against it.
najex: This isn't canon Quentyn, though (although canon Quentyn is still a knight, he does have muscle mass). At this point, Quentyn is likely having daily sex or almost with Nymeria, and has had sexual experiences before. He knows what to do.
dabra: The Tyrell situation is dealt with in this chapter, it's unfortunately not as simple as you would think. The conditions that changed are that before she was allowed a paramour all the time, now she's only allowed one when she has finished bearing children for him, which is already a big condition moved. For Mace and Olenna, they reproach her not for trying, but for allegedly marrying right after Joffrey's death, which was at the point where Jon's dragon was not common knowledge at the Tyrells were in an extremely good situation. For Dany and Quentyn, their relationship is unfortunately already strained past the point of no return.
cliff: Daenerys is definitely not going to be happy, you are correct. But there are more pressing issues.
As the large ship with Martell sails finally docked, Sansa breathed a sigh of relief.
Never would she have imagined that she would be relieved to see the harrowing Red Keep, towering over Blackwater Bay, nor did she imagine she would smile while seeing the agglomeration of King's Landing looming on the horizon.
It had been a long journey since Sunspear. First, by horse, to Ghost Hill, where she stayed at least a week, waiting for a break in the weather to head to Greenstone.
Then, by ship, to Greenstone, where she was feasted by Ser Aurane Waters, who had named himself regent of the place while waiting for Prince Quentyn to formally give it back to the Estermonts.
Another journey by ship then started, towards Storm's End.
She did not stay long in the old keep, but long enough to be impressed with its walls, great halls and intimidating allure, waiting for the final leg of her journey, towards King's Landing.
On arrival, things had indeed changed.
Lannister, Baratheon and Tyrell banners were gone, replaced by those of the three-headed dragon of House Targaryen, flanked by the sun and spear of the Martells, the trout of the Tullys, the falcon of House Arryn, and, most importantly, the direwolf of House Stark.
Sansa carefully stepped out of the ship and onto the dock, looking around her. Several armed men accompanied her, all bearing the direwolf of House Stark on their armor or doublet.
Like a Queen, she was escorted to the edge of the dock, where Stark banners fluttered in the wind, but, most of all, someone was waiting.
It was like she was struck by lightning.
There, at the edge of the pier, waiting for her, in a simple black and grey outfit, was Jon, his dark brown hair waving slightly in the wind, with Ghost by his side, ever vigilant.
Sansa rushed to him and immediately hugged him tight, not letting him go as she cried out tears of joy in his arms.
"By the gods, Jon, it's really you…" she wept, not even trying to keep her composure.
"It's me." Jon hugged her back dearly. "You're safe now, I swear it."
She broke the embrace, looking at his dark grey eyes, when she noticed them flicker in surprise, or shock. What happened? Did he realize how big she'd grown? When he'd left for the Wall, she was a girl of eleven, whilst she was now fifteen, almost sixteen. Not a woman grown, but almost.
Jon ran a hand across her cheek and muttered, "What have they done to you…"
Sansa clasped her cheek slightly and sighed.
Sometimes, she forgot she got burned at all, having tried to lock that painful memory away. Every time she acknowledged her burn or placed her hand against it, she could remember it all. The pain, the cries, the pleas for mercy, and Cersei's hysterical cries and shouts.
"Cersei," she chose to say simply.
Jon slowly nodded.
A voice came from behind Jon. "I think I've done my part." He slowly turned around to face Prince Quentyn, dressed in his fine Dornish garb, with Margaery at his side.
"Aye, I'll release the Dornishmen into your custody before the morrow," Jon acquiesced.
"Prince Quentyn. Margaery." Sansa bowed slightly.
"I think it's Princess Margaery now." Margaery gave her a half-smile.
Sansa opened her mouth, but no words came out. She closed it, before finally uttering: "So the rumors were true?"
Margaery shifted awkwardly while Prince Quentyn snickered slightly.
"We were wed after you…left," Margaery simply replied. "Nothing had happened before."
"Ah…congratulations, then, Princess Margaery." Sansa bowed again. "I wish you both a happy marriage."
"And to you a safe trip home, Jarlinna Sansa." Prince Quentyn bowed to her, kissing her hand. "Know that you will always be welcome in Dorne."
Sansa shied a little at the words. It would have to take some time to adjust to this new reality, where she would be equal in rank to someone like Prince Trystane.
Jon, for his part, had stayed silent. Once they had left, though, he turned back to Sansa and shook his head.
"They're the easiest ones to interact with, surprisingly enough. Shall we go?"
Sansa followed him back into the Red Keep, her prison for three, almost four, years. A place she would have cursed and dreaded to come back to. But now? With Jon at her side, it felt…liberating.
"When do we leave for the North?" she asked.
"As soon as I have finished with the southern politics here." Jon sighed. "I'm afraid a lot has changed since I last saw you."
"News travels fast, even to Dorne," Sansa countered, petting Ghost as they made their way towards the keep. "I know much of what happened. They say you destroyed an entire Reacher host at Riverrun. They say you ride a dragon three times the size of Queen Daenerys'. They say you took down three dragons in battle…"
"A lot of exaggerations, I'm afraid." Jon chuckled.
"You do ride a dragon, though?" Sansa asked.
"Yes, that part is true."
"I would never have believed it." Sansa snorted. "Father…that he could hide something like this. I remember being jealous of your dark brown hair, how you resembled Father so much…"
"I believe that's how I am alive now," Jon said. "Whatever Father has done, it is thanks to him that I am the man I am today, and I cherish it."
"But who are you, Jon?" Sansa looked into his grey eyes with a tinge of sadness. "Is it true that you have renounced your name?"
"I gave up the Stark name so that the North may yet prosper," Jon answered with a deep sigh. "I gave up my own name to ensure that you, Rickon and Arya would live peacefully in Winterfell…"
"Arya is alive?" Sansa gasped in shock.
"You did not know?" Jon raised an eyebrow. "She escaped during Father's execution, and managed to run to Riverrun."
"I…I thought she was dead." Tears began flowing down her cheeks as Sansa tried to grab a hold of something to sit down on.
Ghost whimpered, putting his head in her lap, while Jon kneeled down to wipe the tears from her face.
"She's in Winterfell at the moment, with your mother and Rickon," Jon told her. "She'll be delighted to know you're safe too."
Sansa laughed; her eyes filled with tears of joy for the first time in years.
When she left, she thought that Arya was an insufferable idiot, but now, the only thing she truly wanted was to hold her in her arms and tell her how she was sorry about her behaviour, for saying all these mean things to her and having to separate her from Nymeria…
"Bran?" she asked.
"No news," Jon said sadly. "Your mother prays that one day, he will show up at the gates of Winterfell, as if nothing had happened. But, to this day, nothing at all. It is like he vanished."
Sansa slowly shook her head. It would have been too good to be true. For Bran, Rickon and Arya to all be alive. Slowly, she got back to her feet, helped by Jon and Ghost alike.
They entered the Red Keep and immediately headed to Jon's rooms, escorted by a few guards. She recognized the rooms they were in, for they were Baelish's before. Ghost did not enter with them, much too large to even fit within the door.
The room was just like she remembered. A large room, richly decorated and stocked, with a large bed and several long chairs.
However, what attracted her eye was not the fact that the room had stayed almost identical to how she remembered it, but more the figure in one of the chairs, who was helped by another woman.
"Sansa…" Jon coughed, "this…is my future wife, Arianne."
Sansa gasped, turning to him with a sly smile."I'm guessing the whispers were true there too."
Sansa looked at the woman in the chair. She had a beautiful face, long, dark, curly hair, brown-golden eyes and full lips. Though, what defined her the most, other than her olive skin, was the state of her belly, which was now completely round.
"Sorry I couldn't come to greet you, Lady Sansa." Arianne smiled at her. "But as you can see, I am quite incapacitated."
"Ari, Sansa is a Jarlinna now," Jon pointed out.
"Apologies, I forget with these names. I much prefer calling you Princess, like my brother. Would this be fine?" she asked.
"My congratulations, Princess Arianne." Sansa bowed, shaking her hand. "But call me Sansa, I hardly like titles anymore. When is the babe due?"
"Any day now, according to the Grandmaester…well, the new Grandmaester." Arianne scoffed.
"What happened to Grandmaester Pycelle?" she asked.
"He has a serious case of having his head removed from his shoulders." Arianne laughed. "Lannister creature…"
Sansa nodded. She did not particularly like Pycelle, the memories of him checking her maidenhood were still fresh in her mind, but at least he actually cared for her health. Though, if he lived or died, she could not care.
"And you have not yet wed?" Sansa asked.
"Not under the Seven, yet," Jon answered. "But we have sworn our vows in the godswood, in front of the Old Gods."
"I am happy for you, then." Sansa nodded, resting on a chair herself.
"You must be tired from your journey, Sansa." Arianne smiled sweetly. "Tyene, could you maybe have someone bring us some wine, refreshments and lemon cakes?"
Sansa smiled sweetly." That would be wonderful." "Of course." The blonde woman besides Arianne rose up and made to leave, but Jon stopped her.
"If you could also just leave us for a few moments, Tyene?" Jon asked. "I would like to have some private time with Ari and my sister."
"Should I come back in an hour?" Lady Tyene asked.
"That would be perfect," Jon said.
"Very well. Enjoy your rest, cousin. Good day to you, Princess Sansa, Prince Daeron." The blonde woman curtsied and left the room without another word.
"There's something hiding underneath that smile," Sansa observed as Lady Tyene left the room.
"Ah, my cousin is a sweet lady in appearance, but like a snake, she is deadly when she strikes," Arianne said with a knowing hum.
Sansa looked at Jon, who hadn't said anything, then back at Arianne, and sighed deeply, sinking into her chair.
"Prince Daeron?" she asked.
"Please don't call me that, Sansa." Jon frowned. "To you, to Arianne, and to anyone that I call family, I'm still Jon."
"I'd have trouble calling you anything else," Sansa replied, interrupted by the sound of knocking.
A servant came to serve some wine, water, and a few delicacies including lemon cakes, which Sansa greedily took a handful of.
With the servant dismissed, Sansa took a cup of wine and brought it to her lips, savoring the taste of the Arbor Gold.
"I suppose Arianne is the reason you aren't going back North right now," Sansa finally let out.
"It's a great part of the reason, yes." Jon winced. "But there remains many issues to be dealt with, notably the start of the work done on our new home…"
"Where have you chosen?" Sansa asked.
"Summerhall," Arianne answered. "Close to Dorne, only a few days away from Stonehelm and any ship willing to take us anywhere we wish."
Sansa sighed, but she understood. King Aegon and Queen Daenerys could never allow Jon to live anywhere else than within touching distance of their own possessions. She did not know where they would have allowed him to live: Duskendale, Dragonstone, Rosby, Darry or Harrenhal, but it would have to be south of Moat Cailin. At least, this answered that question.
"I understand," Sansa replied. "I would guess they want control over the dragon eggs too?"
"And Targaryen names for the babes as long as King Aegon and Queen Daenerys have no progeny!" Arianne raised her hands in the air. "As if we did not have Duncans or Joffreys before."
"And that's just one of the issues to deal with at the moment." Jon sighed, drinking a cup of wine himself.
"What else is there?" Sansa asked.
Arianne smirked. "My insufferable little brother, for one." "He has been stretching the monarch's patience thin. Well, at least Queen Daenerys'." Jon chuckled. "That is not something I can fault him for. It seems something happened at Tumbleton that broke him."
"Marrying Margaery Tyrell certainly came out of nowhere, but if there was a match for my brother, it would be her," Arianne pointed out. "Pretty, of age, intelligent just like my brother would have liked his consort to be…and most importantly, she would not impede on his relationship with our cousin."
"Not to mention the fact that Prince Quentyn resigning from the position of Master of Coin put the realm in a difficult situation. Lord Baelor Hightower was summoned, but he is too busy repairing the damage to his own city…" Jon shook his head. "But I agree with you, Ari. Your brother does seem to want to annoy the Targaryens as much as he can."
"Quentyn has always been quite…well, not spiteful, but hot-blooded, as all us Martells are. He knows how to hold a grudge and he will hold it well." Arianne drank a sip of water. "Though he should really stop pulling the dragon's tail, for one day, he will get burned."
"As long as he does so without being outrageous, he will have my support," Jon replied. "Just like Lord Tully will always have my support against Lord Arryn."
"Ah, that sad state of affairs." Arianne shook her head. "Let us not dwell on it for too long, or you will summon my cousin."
"Then there's the issue of Ice," Jon pointed out.
"What happened to our sword?" Sansa asked.
"Well, there lies the problem, it doesn't exist anymore." Jon frowned. "Tywin had two swords made out of our ancestral sword. Do you remember Quentyn Martell's Valyrian steel sword?"
Sansa nodded. She had not seen it up close, but she knew it was Valyrian steel from the way everyone talked about it.
"Well, it is one of these two swords. He took it from the cold body of Tywin Lannister." Jon rested his head back into his chair. "And, of course, he refuses to give it back, by right of conquest."
"And the other part?" Sansa asked.
"That is the sword that the Targaryens wish to keep. Unfortunately, their arguments as to why they should keep it are…not that strong," Jon answered simply. "It has been a tug of war between myself and Aegon, and Prince Quentyn has been the winner since no one asks a single question about his sword anymore."
"Don't count on Quentyn returning it, either," Arianne let out in a soft voice.
"I unfortunately don't have much hopes on it, no." Jon shook his head. "But I will wrestle the other one out of Aegon's hands."
"And you, Princess Sansa?" Arianne asked. "How are you faring in all this? Did my brother treat you well in Dorne?"
"As well as could be," Sansa said. There was no need not to be truthful in this instance. "Lady Ellaria is a charming woman, and all of the young snakes are very cute and friendly. Your brother, Prince Trystane, is growing into a charming young man, and Princess Myrcella is also…radiant."
"The Water Gardens are a special place." Arianne leaned back into her chair. "I cannot wait to see them again."
"And I would love to visit them by your side." Jon smiled back.
"Dorne is indeed beautiful." Sansa slapped Jon's shoulder. "Oh, and you should see Sunspear! They have running water, latrines that flush when you are done, and installations called showers which pump water so it pours over you just like if it were raining, so it saves you the water of a bath!"
"Quentyn…" Arianne shook her head.
"He promised us we'd have the same in Summerhall." Jon chuckled.
"You lucky ba-" Sansa stopped herself from going further.
"Would you like to come back? Perhaps I could arrange a betrothal…" Arianne smiled at her.
"That is kind, but I wish to go back to my home, and my home is the North." Sansa shook her head. "Dorne is lovely and beautiful, and I do hope to come back one day, but for now, all I wish is to see my family again."
"I understand that, believe me." Arianne nodded, rubbing a hand over her belly. "I too wish to go back to Dorne, see the Water Gardens…"
"One day, Ari, I promise. I'll take you atop Winter and we can go see the Gardens like you've never seen them before." Jon smiled.
Arianne blushed slightly.
"It would certainly be more enjoyable for you than listening to those petty debates in the Small Council." Arianne chuckled.
"The Reach, the Westerlands and the Ironborn." Jon sighed. "That's all they talk about."
"What about them?" Sansa asked.
"The Reach, first of all. Because we are heading towards a long Winter, everyone wants a piece of them. But it's not that simple," Jon admitted wearily.
"My brother muddied the waters even more after he revealed his marriage to Lady Margaery and the offer of Starpike and Dunstonbury as dowry." Arianne smiled. "Typical Quentyn."
"Not to mention my own distaste for most of the Reacher lords. There were many talks about giving the Paramountcy to someone else…" Jon sighed. "But everyone followed the Tyrells, and because I defended their castle against the Ironborn, it's them who have the largest intact forces in the Reach!"
"Not to mention no one would consider the Hightowers," Arianne added. "Giving the center of the Faith and Citadel such power would be…to create much more problems. Unless you split the Reach in the middle, of course."
"Which was never going to happen. An unstable Reach right now is the last thing we need." Jon shook his head. "For the Reach, they came to the conclusion that making the Tyrells indebted to the Crown and even more dependent on the Iron Throne was the best option. To completely strangle them."
"How so?" Sansa asked.
"Place low prices for their grain, discharge most of the crown debt on them and the Lannisters, make them pay exorbitant reparations to the Tullys and Martells…in short, ruin them," Jon answered. "It's a simpler solution."
"The issue is…my brother." Arianne chuckled.
"Indeed. Prince Quentyn moved fast. Gods only know how; he secured four betrothals. Princess Margaery to himself, Lady Alla Tyrell to Lord Cletus Yronwood, Lyonel Tyrell to Lady Teora Toland and Lord Willas Tyrell to Lady Delilah Fowler."
"Prince Quentyn tied Dorne to the Tyrells."
"Which makes it impossible for us to take the paramountcy away." Jon shook his head. "With so many ties to who is arguably the most powerful kingdom at present..."
Arianne beamed at that.
"Well, the Tyrells have good backers, now. If we remove the paramountcy, we might as well spit in Dorne's face, or, worse, it will allow them to become a lot more powerful much more quickly. And even Daenerys Targaryen knows that, at present, she cannot afford that." Jon smiled. "The only thing she got was for the Reach to give up Grassy Vale, Tumbleton, Smithyton, Hammerhal and the Ring. All which are quite expendable for the Reach."
"To whom are they giving it to? Lord Edmure?" Sansa inquired.
"The Crownlands," Arianne replied. "The Stormlands is passing under direct dominion of the Crownlands, with the exception of Nightsong, Blackhaven, Fawnton, Greenstone and Harvest Hall, which will go to Dorne."
"Marchers under Dornish supremacy, this is bound to go well…" Sansa rolled her eyes while biting into an apple.
"Take it up with my brother." Arianne scoffed. "Though much of these houses are dead, which makes it easier. And any banditry has to be dealt with by the Crown…"
"Crown which will delay to answer, or just offload it on the member of House Targaryen closest to the point of conflict, which would be me." Jon said, sounding twenty years older. "Do you understand now the position I'm in?"
Sansa grimaced. "You'll have to spend a good part of your life hated by the people of the lands around you. I've seen kinder fates."
"The Ironborn, on the other hand, are an easy subject. Everyone wants them gone, and for the most part, they've achieved that themselves." Jon scoffed. "But the issue is that no one wants to actually deal with them, and keeping them as a kingdom is out of the question. The proposition that seems to satisfy most people is to compensate the Westerlands' territorial losses by giving them most of the Iron Islands, with the Riverlands getting the rest, and the North will get Blacktyde."
Sansa tilted her head in thought. That should prevent a repeat Greyjoy Rebellion…though Ironborn are a stubborn lot.
Jon continued, "The Westerlands is losing Greenfield, Silverhill and Riverspring to the Crown, and Lord Edmure will get Deep Den and Hornvale, which will add to the Golden Tooth which he claimed through marriage.. The Lannisters will have to pay a substantial amount of gold to the North, the Riverlands and Dorne, as reparations. Casterly Rock is bound to be ruined for many generations, it's just the amounts that people are now bickering over. Everyone wants the lion's share, so to speak."
"And the Lannisters?" Sansa asked.
"Lord Kevan took the Black, Lord Lancel chose to turn to the Faith, Casterly Rock thus goes to Willem Lannister." Jon replied.
"And…Cersei?" Sansa inquired.
"She's been given to us. As compensation for father's unjust death. I'll take her head in three days," Jon solemnly declared.
"Can I…see her?" Sansa asked. "I wish…to face the monster who did this to me."
"She's in the black cells, hardly in a good state, would it be wise?" Jon asked.
"I want to, Jon. I need to show her that I won and she lost," she said, her eyes narrowing.
"Very well, but I'll have Ghost and a trusted knight escort you."
"I can send for Lord Dayne," Arianne offered.
"That's a good idea. Lord Dayne is a good knight," Jon agreed.
With that, Jon sent out the orders. They stayed a few more moments, talking about Dorne and the North, and forgetting about politics. Though, eventually, a knock was heard at the door.
Lady Tyene and Lord Dayne entered the room.
Lord Dayne was a boy around her age, if not one or two years older, with lovely blue eyes and blonde hair that bordered on silver, almost like a Targaryen.
Sansa was struck by his beauty, but immediately turned her face away, refusing to show the burned part of it.
Arianne asked Lord Dayne to escort Sansa to the black cells to see Cersei, and keep her safe at all times. He bowed and left to escort her alongside the direwolf.
"My lady, why do you turn away, what have I done to shame you so?" Lord Dayne asked while they walked down the stairs.
"I do not wish for you to see my scars, my lord," Sansa answered.
"Nonsense, you are beautiful, even with your burns. I have found that scars can be pretty," Lord Dayne replied simply.
"Even these?" Sansa turned around to show the burned part of her face.
"Even these." Lord Dayne said without flinching, even cracking a smile. "Don't be ashamed of what you are. And do not call me 'my lord', if it pleases you."
"What would I call you, then?"
"Edric, or Ned. All my friends call me Ned. If it please you, I would like you to call me that as well."
Sansa winced. "I…please do not feel insulted if I call you Edric."
"No insult received." Edric Dayne showed her the way to the black cells, going down a maze of corridors. They had to leave Ghost at a door, for he, once again, did not fit.
Finally, they arrived at the cell where Cersei was held.
"I will wait at the door," Edric said. "Call if you need any assistance."
Sansa nodded and walked down the short hall which led to a large cell. Inside it was Cersei Lannister.
She was unrecognizable. Her blonde hair was tossed all over the place, looking like a crazed witch. Her robes were torn to shreds, her jewellery was gone and her gaze seemed to wander everywhere. Finally, though, she noticed Sansa's presence.
"You." She rushed to the cell like a madwoman. "You killed my son!"
Sansa took a step back, but stayed firm.
"I wish I did," Sansa calmly replied. "I will not hide the fact that him grasping for air brought me the greatest joy imaginable. He was a monster and he died like one."
"I knew it. You killed him. I will have your head for this!" she screamed.
"You will have no one's head." Sansa shook her head. "Your reign is over."
"I am the Lady of the Rock! When my armies descend upon you, you shall cower in fear and I shall smite you all!" Cersei was ranting, now, completely mad. "You will all pay dearly for this treason."
"You did this to me." Sansa pointed to her cheek, to her burns. "I will have my due. A Lannister always pays his debts, does he not?"
Cersei growled at her, pathetically trying to reach for her.
"In three days' time, you will be dragged towards the Sept of Baelor, where you had my own father killed. The smallfolk will be there, and they will cheer for your death, as they did with mine." Sansa stood emotionless over her. "Will you accept death as calmly as he did? I wish you do not. I wish for Jon to miss his strike and you suffer before you die. I wish for you to experience the pain I did when you tore my skin apart."
Sansa took a step forward.
"You are lucky that you will not burn in dragonfire. I would have gladly heard you scream," Sansa continued, unabated. "You are lucky that my father taught Jon that he who passes the sentence must swing the sword, for I would have loved to persuade him to use his dragon's flames to burn you alive. Would Joffrey have swung the sword, I wonder? I'd wager he'd have had a better chance of him accidentally chopping off a limb. Wouldn't that be a sight?"
"You're a liar! Liar!" Cersei cried out. "The dragons are dead! Rhaegar was the last dragon, and he loved me! Not the flat-chested Dornish bitch, not the annoying Northern whore, me!"
"Enjoy your last days in your miserable cell, Cersei Lannister." Sansa smiled. "In three days, I will be in the same spot as I was four or five years ago. But this time, you will be kneeling before the headsman, and I will not be screaming. I will be smiling, knowing that you have lost and I have won. House Lannister will be nothing. House Stark will rise to be a Princely house. Stark boys will ride dragons, while Lannister boys will only ride horses, if they are lucky. Starks will marry Princes, Great Lords and Honorable lines, while Lannisters will be lucky if they marry Westerlings or Ironborn. We have won your stupid game, Cersei Lannister. Enjoy the Seven Hells."
Sansa did not listen to the screeching behind her. All she could think about was the great burden that was lifted from her shoulders, and the grin that had settled on her otherwise emotionless face. Cersei Lannister was right. In the Game of thrones, you win or you die. Sansa won, and Cersei would die.
And that was truly the most beautiful thing in the world.