Do you think Petyr genuinely loves Sansa? I just saw a post floating around showing in-text examples of him expressing love for her but I can't help but see it as manipulation.
Thanks for the question, Anon.
Ummm … no. I think it’s safe to say Littlefinger desires Sansa for wholly unsavory reasons, but love? No. Absolutely not. Here are just a few things Littlefinger does to Sansa that totally destroy any concept of “Petyr really loves her”.
The first time he meets her, touches her and talks about Catelyn in a really uncomfortable way:
“Your mother was my queen of beauty once,” the man said quietly. His breath smelled of mint. “You have her hair.” His fingers brushed against her cheek as he stroked one auburn lock.
Touches her again after Sansa talks to him about sending Beric after Gregor:
Sansa had no choice but to explain about heroes and monsters. The king’s councillor smiled. “Well, those are not the reasons I’d have given, but …” He had touched her cheek, his thumb lightly tracing the line of a cheekbone. “Life is not a song, sweetling. You may learn that one day to your sorrow.”
And, lest you think this is supposed to be considered normal in-universe, Sansa - who is explicitly more naive in AGOT than subsequent books - notices right away his feigning happiness in her and is made deeply uncomfortable by him:
“You must be one of her daughters,” he said to her. He had grey-green eyes that did not smile when his mouth did. "You have the Tully look.“
“I’m Sansa Stark,” she said, ill at ease.
(just after that sweetling quote above)
Sansa did not feel like telling all that to Jeyne, however; it made her uneasy just to think back on it.
Varys was wringing his soft hands together, Grand Maester Pycelle kept his sleepy eyes on the papers in front of him, but she could feel Littlefinger staring. Something about the way the small man looked at her made Sansa feel as though she had no clothes on. Goose bumps pimpled her skin.
Though everything Sansa endures in King’s Landing in ACOK and ASOS, where is her supposed love Littlefinger? Nowhere.
He saved Alayne, his daughter, a voice withing her whispered. But she was Sansa too… and sometimes it seemed to her that the Lord Protector was two people as well. He was Petyr, her protector, warm and funny and gentle… but he was also Littlefinger, the lord she’d known at King’s Landing, smiling slyly and stroking his beard as he whispered in Queen Cersei’s ear. And Littlefinger was no friend of hers. When Joff had her beaten, the Imp defended her, not Littlefinger. When the mob sought to rape her, the Hound carried her to safety, not Littlefinger. When the Lannisters wed her to Tyrion against her will, Ser Garlan the Gallant gave her comfort, not Littlefinger. Littlefinger never lifted so much as his little finger for her.
He also reinforces the idea that she is completely dependent on him (after he’s misled her about where their final destination is):
“You look distraught. Did you think we were making for Winterfell, sweetling? Winterfell has been taken, burned, and sacked. All those you knew and loved are dead. What northmen who have not fallen to the ironmen are warring amongst themselves. Even the Wall is under attack. Winterfell was the home of your childhood, Sansa, but you are no longer a child. You’re a woman grown, and you need to make your own home.”
I thought it was Ser Dontos, my poor old drunken Florian, but it was Petyr all the while. Littlefinger was only a mask he had to wear. Only sometimes Sansa found it hard to tell where the man ended and the mask began. Littlefinger and Lord Petyr looked so very much alike. She would have fled them both, perhaps, but there was nowhere for her to go. Winterfell was burned and desolate, Bran and Rickon dead and cold. Robb had been betrayed and murdered at the Twins, along with their lady mother. Tyrion had been put to death for killing Joffrey, and if she ever returned to King’s Landing the queen would have her head as well. The aunt she’d hoped would keep her safe had tried to murder her instead. Her uncle Edmure was a captive of the Freys, while her great-uncle the Blackfish was under siege at Riverrun. I have no place but here, Sansa thought miserably, and no true friend but Petyr.
He also emotionally (and falsely) blackmails her to keep silent on Lysa’s murder:
“Especially when we are alone. Elsewise a day will come when a servant walks into a room unannounced, or a guardsman at the door chances to hear something he should not. Do you want more blood on your pretty little hands, my darling?”
And - ugh, I just can’t with the following:
“I told you that nothing could please me more than to help you with your castle. I fear that was a lie as well. Something else would please me more.” He stepped closer. “This.”
Sansa tried to step back, but he pulled her into his arms and suddenly he was kissing her. Feebly, she tried to squirm, but only succeeded in pressing herself more tightly against him. His mouth was on hers, swallowing her words. He tasted of mint. For half a heartbeat she yielded to his kiss … before she turned her face away and wrenched free. “What are you doing?”
Petyr straightened his cloak. “Kissing a snow maid.”
She knew better than to ask what sort of tales. If Petyr had wanted her to know, he would have told her. “I did not expect you back so soon,” she said. “I am glad you’ve come.”
“I would never have known it from the kiss you gave me.” He pulled her closer, caught her face between his hands, and kissed her on the lips for a long time. “Now that’s the sort of kiss that says welcome home. See that you do better next time.”
“Yes, Father.” She could feel herself blushing.
So, to summarize: Littlefinger is a man who immediately begins treating Sansa with a level of intimacy that makes her uncomfortable, does nothing to ensure she survives the Riot of King’s Landing, blackmails and traps her so that she is dependent on him for escape from Joffrey’s murder, and demands even more uncomfortable intimacy from her after he seizes power in the Vale and convinced her that she has no one but Petyr himself. Does that sound like love to you? Because it doesn’t to me.
The Queen Regent (NFriel)