Summary: Before Sansa leaves for King’s Landing, Jon unexpectedly gives her comfort, and something more, in a time of trouble. Ned Stark puts a stop to it.
For @jonxsansafanfiction Day 7: Flowers (Jon x Sansa: 15 Days of Valentines). Multiple POV.
Shoutout to @janebrkin for the lovely idea of Jon comforting Sansa during thunderstorms when she was little - I was inspired by your story and people should go read it! :)
Jon knew it was wrong, truly wrong, because his father was angry. Lady Catelyn had been known to come down hard on him for some perceived slight, but his father was fair, and rarely raised his voice. Lord Stark’s face was stormy now, his grey eyes like chipped flint.
“Never again, Jon, do you understand? You cannot–” Jon had seen his father at a loss for words before, but never with his mouth working quite this way. “Sansa is meant for–”
“A prince, I know, father.” Joffrey had pranced into Winterfell like the spoiled brat he was, and something about the way Sansa looked at him made Jon’s blood boil.
His father swallowed, then nodded. “Yes. A prince.”
Jon shifted uncomfortably in his seat. His father had ordered him into the Lord’s Chambers and pointed for him to sit, after bellowing at Jon and Sansa in the godswood. Sansa had fled. “Why were you cruel to her, father? I gave her the crown. It was my fault. Sansa didn’t do anything wrong.” Jon wasn’t sure what he’d done wrong either, but he knew Sansa was blameless.
His father ran a hand over his face. “I’ll talk to her, Jon. It’s not your fault, either, you just – you must promise me, now, never to be alone with Sansa again.”
Jon didn’t fully understand why he had to stay away from his half-sister, but he swore the oath then and there. He didn’t even risk saying goodbye to her when he left for the Wall. Sometimes, when he took the watch at night, he’d look out over the shelf of ice and remember the crown he’d placed in Sansa’s red hair. He’d whisper a prayer into the cold air that Joffrey had become the prince Sansa deserved.
It was only flowers. Sansa liked flowers, liked to plait them in her hair and tuck them into Lady’s collar. So when Jon learned what had happened to upset her, he picked most of the blue roses in the glass gardens. He snapped off the thorns and wove a kind of crown –lopsided, hardly the perfect construction Sansa would have made. Jon might not get along with Sansa easily, but he cared for her, just like he cared for all his family. Maybe not quite the same way, since Sansa had come of age and he’d been less able to meet her eyes. Something tightened in his chest now when he saw her toss her hair over her shoulder, and he wasn’t inclined to examine the feeling too closely.
Sansa was ecstatic when the royal visit was announced. Jon would need to practice staying out of the way, but Sansa was to be put forward as a candidate for betrothal to the Baratheon prince. Sansa had always been a thoughtful, courteous girl, and she’d made a gift for Joffrey. Jon had seen her bent over her work in her lap, the tip of her tongue sticking out as she concentrated. She’d presented Joffrey with a handkerchief, emblazoned with a golden lion, that even Jon could tell was finely worked. Joffrey had bowed to her, and Sansa glowed with happiness.
At least, she did until she picked up the handkerchief by the corner that afternoon, where Joffrey had dropped it in the mud. Joffrey and his guards had just passed by the training yard, where Robb and Jon were sparring. The sound of their ugly laughter made Jon angry. He came at Robb quicker than he should have, and got in a few blows before getting thwacked in the shoulder by Robb’s wooden sword. He was rubbing his arm as he saw Sansa and Jeyne walking together.
Robb kept striding towards the gate. Jon saw Sansa was slumping, with her head down, and he slowed his pace. Being a bastard had few privileges, but this was one of them. Jon noticed things others didn’t, and since his station lent him a kind of invisibility, he was able to hear and see details others missed. He’d surprised his lord father more than once with his knowledge of the goings-on around the castle.
“I’ll never be able to get it clean, but I suppose it makes no difference. He didn’t care for it anyway.” Sansa was twisting the dirty handkerchief in her hands. “Oh Sansa, I’m so sorry, I’m sure he didn’t mean what he said.” Jeyne sounded as if she didn’t believe her own lie. Sansa had shaken her head. “It doesn’t matter, Jeyne. I’ll stitch him finer things. I’ll be more beautiful, I’ll make him love me.” The tremor in Sansa’s voice scared Jon the most, made him afraid for her, afraid of what she might give away to this boy. So he decided to give her something of her own.
He’d found her in the godswood the next day, and listened to her, and held out the makeshift gift. “The crown of love and beauty, for you, you’re already beautiful, Sansa. He’s your prince, he’ll love you and treat you kindly. He has to. Any prince would.” You’re worth loving, he wanted to say, but he thought that might be a step too far, even though it was true. Jon placed it on her head. She’d smiled, and asked him to play an old game. Father had crashed through the branches a few minutes later, yanking him by his injured arm, while Sansa ran.
The stitching, Sansa thought numbly, I’ll never get the mud out. She’d begged gold thread from her mother, too, to make sure the lion’s head gleamed. Her favor had floated half-in, half-out of the puddle. Joffrey’s sneering remark echoed in her ears. All she could think was that her needlework must have been coarse, and uneven, though she’d checked and checked. She had to do better, though she wasn’t sure how. So when she heard someone step through the trees into the godswood, she was momentarily angry. Couldn’t she be left alone, to cry, to be unladylike for once in her life? She wiped her eyes, and held tight to the low tree branch. A light rain had started to fall, and the bark was slightly slippery.
Jon emerged from the leaves. He was prone to sulking, and there was an anger and melancholy that never left him. But before her mother made it clear she was to have nothing to do with Jon, when she was very little, and scared of storms outside her window, Sansa would sometimes go to him at night and ask to sleep in his bed. Robb would let her too, of course. He would chuckle, and muss her hair, and tell her there was nothing to worry about before falling back asleep. Sansa would still shake, though, each time the thunder boomed. Robb was big and strong, her oldest brother. He wasn’t frightened by the storm. But Sansa was small, so small it was hard for her to climb into Robb’s bed. She couldn’t stop the fear that coursed through her each time the thunder sounded as if it would swallow her up. Jon would tell her it was all right to be scared. He would hold her, and talk to her, until the rain ceased. She could still recall how warm he’d been, how he’d sing to her in a high, sweet voice if she asked. Her lady mother forbade her from joining her half-brother in bed when she turned six, and Sansa learned that the word “bastard” separated Jon and Robb. Although Sansa dutifully turned her head away now when Jon walked by, she remembered that he’d been gentle with her, when they were children.
Still, she was ashamed of her tears, and wasn’t sure she wanted to share them. “Did you come to mock me too, Jon?” She heard the thread of anger in her voice, but held her chin high. Jon stopped in front of her, strangely quiet. It took her a moment to realize he was holding a mass of blue flowers in his hand.
“No, Sansa. I – I came to see if you were all right.”
If he had been wheedling, or commanding, she would have sent him packing. Instead he let the silence draw out between them, and Sansa began to relax. Then, slowly, she began to talk, in fits and starts. “I wasn’t – the gift, Jon, I made Joffrey a favor, I spent weeks on it, getting every stitch right, though there’s no reason for you to know that–“
“I saw you,” Jon said. “You’d work on it day and night. You brought it outside a few times, while we trained.”
“The sunlight, it’s best for certain techniques, I – you noticed?” She thought Jon Snow would be the last person to pay attention to an embroidery hoop.
“You seemed…tense, while you did it. And you stuck your tongue out.” The corner of his mouth quirked.
“I do that when I’m concentrating. Though I’d rather others couldn’t tell.” She gathered her skirts in an effort to look dignified, even when sitting in a tree. “Yes. Well. I’d hoped – I’d hoped the prince would like it. I’m only a lady, Jon, not a princess, I have to show him I’m not stupid, I’m worth marrying, worth bringing to King’s Landing, there are so many others he could choose. I heard him, did you know that? I heard what he said, when he dropped it. ‘Trust a dog not to know a lion’s likeness.’” She twisted her damp hair around her finger. Jon listened to her, really listened as she talked, it felt liked so few people did that anymore. “I did my best, Jon, I asked Maester Luwin to show me pictures in the library, I stitched the lion as fine as I could.”
He held the flowers out to her mutely. “Thank you Jon.” Sansa was polite, but puzzled. “What is it?”
“It’s a crown,” Jon said. “Love and beauty.” She and Robb and Jon had played this game a thousand times when they were younger, the Queen of Love and Beauty. Robb, her bright-eyed brother with the easy laugh, had always won, and named her his queen. Jon was the one before her now, serious and solemn. She bowed her head. When he placed the crown on her hair, his touch was light. He told her she was beautiful, and any prince would love her.
She drew strength from his gesture, enough to bring back some of her good humor. “Should you swear fealty then?” Robb would have teased her, and chucked her under the chin. She half-expected Jon to stammer out an excuse, and leave the way he came. Instead Jon simply went down on one knee, and took her hand. They were too old for this game, and perhaps that was the reason for the flush on her cheeks. His curls were wet, and stuck to his forehead. He brushed the back of her hand with his lips. “My queen.” Jon looked up at her with dark eyes as if she already was a queen, as if there was no room for doubt.
She held onto that look, even after father’s lecture, even after arriving in King’s Landing. She thought back on it when Joffrey’s men struck her, when Littlefinger undressed her with his eyes.
After she bled, when she was to be wed to the man she knew to be a monster, she picked at the blue roses she’d embroidered on her gown. I’m already beautiful. Any prince would love me. Sansa started to cry. Jon had spoken those words that day as if they were as true and as plain as the rain that soaked her hair.
Promise me, Ned. Ned knew he was terrifyingly close to failing Lyanna, when he saw Jon Targaryen kneeling before his daughter in the godswood, as a crown of winter roses graced her hair. Sansa’s gaze was rapt, and Jon looked at her like she was the sun and stars together. No, he thought, Jon, stop, you can’t, a love like this once broke the world apart. So he shattered the scene, sending Sansa running, dragging Jon back to Winterfell’s halls. He’d forbid his daughter and his nephew from spending time with each other. He’d send Jon to the Wall, and escort Sansa safely to King’s Landing, before he’d let a love so strong and dangerous bloom again.