empty branches

I was waiting for you
Where the four lanes wander
Into a city street,
Listening to the freight
Train’s whistle and thunder
Come racketing through,

And I saw beyond black
Empty branches the light
Turn swiftly to a flurry
Of wingbeats in a hurry
For nowhere but the flight
From steeple-top and back

To steeple-top again.
I thought of how the quick
Hair shadows your lit face
Till laughter in your voice
Awoke and brought me back
And you stepped from the train.

I was waiting for you
Not a little too long
To learn what swallows said
Darkening overhead:
When we had time, we sang.
After we sang, we flew.

Gibbons Ruark, “Waiting for You with the Swallows,”  On the Mason-Dixon Line: an Anthology of Contemporary Delaware Writers, eds. Billie Travalini and Fleda Brown(University of Delaware Press, 2008)

3.0 | a good way (theater au! joshua)

you would be best friends, always.  nothing would ever come between the two of you, right?

wc. just under 8.8k (whoopS) | fluff, angst, it’s all here | dedicated to my sweet choco ( @choco-seventeen ) for supporting me while writing and basically becoming this fic’s second mom

It was strange.  Weird.  Practically unfathomable and there must be some kind of mistake.  The play had those two characters as romantic leads.  The ones who slowly turn to look at each other, catch the starry glint in the other’s eye before slowly leaning in, before slowly closing their eyes, before slowly feeling their heartbeat accelerate because oh heavens this is it—before slowly kissing each other for the first time with such tender passion some members of the audience start to cry.

Those roles were not ever meant for the ones who have been friends since seventh grade, where one of them accidentally tripped and tossed their lunch all over the other, rendering the former an apologetic mess and the latter slightly smelling of garlic for the rest of the day.  Not for the ones who stayed up far too late binge watching whole seasons of anime because they finally turned in that big project and it’s in fate’s hands now.  Definitely not friends who are each other’s best friends, always.  Never them.

But when the director swings back to the two of you, the mischievous and excited glint in his eye is unmistakable.  His giddiness even bubbles over and he repeats himself, happily gazing between you and the best friend of 6 years standing beside you.  "Joshua, [Y/N], you’ll be the best two leads this stage has ever seen.“

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Summer House ~Chapter One: Changing Writers

Okay so…. @diggo26 is the only person whose read this story or what I managed to write during the month of April during the camp that @green-arrows-of-karamel allowed me to take part in. She’s certain this is a great story and I’m still unsure. I’m posting the first chapter because again a certain friend desperately wants me to share…

Summary: Oliver Queen has been missing for two years. On the eve of his 2nd anniversary the local paper with the families consent has decided to run a memorial article since one was never done when he first went missing. Sara Lance was assigned the story at first but know the paper’s hotshot reporter Felicity Smoak has been assigned the story. Felicity must now put her personal feelings aside as she searches for the truth to Oliver Queen’s disappearance.  

FYI I suck at summaries so please give it a shot. 

Read it here or on AO3


Red tapestries, faded hardwood and, broken glass surrounded his tall, angular form. He pushed his fingers along the white marble window sill; the dust fell over the beveled edge with ease as his cold blue eyes peered through the scratched up window panes.

The empty branches scratched along the battered, abandoned glass; the windows now were simply a broken reflection of a place that once felt like his true home. He shifted his gaze and, let the rhythmic pace of the wind along the glass ease the growing loneliness within his hardened heart. The clock along the stone mantel clanged, the windows rattled and, the shutters snapped along the home’s stone exterior.

His sharp inhale seemed silent when the wind once more howled, “Two years tomorrow,” he groaned to the creaking walls. “Two years and no one’s come…” he bemoaned as the lone flicker of light finally went out…

Chapter One: Changing Writers

The room around her was filled with the sounds of tapping fingers and thudding brains. Her brightly painted fingernails tapped along the faded black keys of her worn office keyboard. She tapped at the edge of the archaic machine and, let her furrowed brow fade into a frustrated one.

“Every life has a story, every journey has a reason and, every life has to find its ultimate purpose.”

Once she read the line aloud she immediately pressed her eager pinkie over the fairly worn backspace key. She watched with anticipated annoyance while each word slowly began to simply fade away.

She heard the sharp scowl of her thoroughly overworked officemate. “Please explain to me how that cow expects us to produce miracles from absolutely nothing!”

Felicity grumbled in sour agreement, “I take it you’ve been given the memorial story from hell?”

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E.V.O.L - Chapter 4 (Trixya) - VicThirteen

A/N: Hieee! Did my best to post this one a little faster than the others. Do you still like this story? (Much like Violet, I need constant validation, ok?) Anyway, let’s make some people touch their faces together, amirite? Thanksss <3

Chapter 4 – You don’t love me, big fucking deal

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Morning of buttered toast;
of coffee, sweetened, with milk.

Out of the window,
snow-spruces step from their cobwebs.
Flurry of chickadees, feeding then gone.
A single cardinal stipples an empty branch –
one maple leaf lifted back.

I turn my blessings like photographs into the light;
over my shoulder the god of Not-Yet looks on:

Not-yet-dead, not-yet-lost, not-yet-taken.
Not-yet-shattered, not-yet-sectioned,

Ample litany, sparing nothing I hate or love,
not-yet-silenced, not-yet-fractured, not-yet-


I move my ear a little closer to that humming figure,
I ask him only to stay.
—  Jane Hirshfield, “Not Yet”

In honor of falling apart less,
and stitching myself up more.
In honor of the way you made me burn.
I present this poem,
a nuanced art of pretending everything is alright.

I washed my sins off in the shower last night,
I let the hot water scald your touch off my skin.
That was for you.

For myself,
I  drowned  in holy water,
as cold as the river stream,
baptized away unclean emotions.
I wish I was free, free, free.

My hair drips angel wings down my back.
My hair drips and I dissipate into porcelain,
my reflection melting and distorting in this steamed mirror,
I let myself whirl down the drain.
My hair drips, and with it my blood runs hot and cold.
My hair drips, and I let it drown me.

I turn off the lights,
and let my body lay,
feel how it feels,
how it moves,
how bones grind and muscles glide.
I let myself feel how I am inside.

It’s mechanical though,
because the emotion is too fluid to grasp,
and it slips through my fingers.
Like panning for gold, in a hot valley,
sun pounding down on your neck,
hours of searching, searching, searching.
You finally strike gold.
but river current strings of fate pull it away.
Your sweat rolls down your neck, and drips,
it wraps around you like a noose.

I fall back into bed,
let its arms enfold around me,
and wrap myself against it’s chest.

I wish I was divine,
I wish I sipped ambrosia, and nectar,
had casual conversations with the gods.
I wish I was so heavenly I brought him down on his knees.

I wish I was so heavenly I brought you down on your knees.

Instead, I dry myself off,
pretending the water on my face isn’t tears,
salt eroding my skin.

I take a deep breath, and
on my skin I draw a beautiful girl.

Who doesn’t know what heartbreak is,
who doesn’t hate herself when she wakes up everyday,
who doesn’t shake when she thinks of all that she fucked up.
Who doesn’t cry alone at night,
when the only one who can hear her is mother moon,
who is so far,
her glow doesn’t alight on mortals with broken eyes.
Who still somehow thinks they are holy,
Who still somehow thinks they are angel.

I draw a girl who doesn’t pretend she is okay.

I dress myself up,
I smile in the mirror and say
I am okay, I am free, and I can do whatever I want to,
I am free and I can do whatever I want to.
I am free… but I am not.
But I wish it was true.

My hair still drips down my skin,
It hasn’t dried after all this time.
I hide my wings under my shirt,
I hide my wings and it all hurts.

At the end of the the day
No matter how much I wish or pretend,
I dress myself down, and take it all off.

I am just a  mortal girl,
whose wings are just empty bones,
dark branches, ink bleeding into white snow.

I am just a girl.
I laugh in empty spaces,
I smile through the tears,
I love the way you make me burn.

I am just a girl but,
I cauterize my wounds,
I bless myself,
I heal under the moon.

I am just a girl
but I am holy and
I stitch myself up with shaking hands,
I burn to keep you near.

I am just a girl but
oh don’t you wish that you knew that I was so much more?

—  I loved you so I could hate myself a little less, it didn’t work, but that’s okay.
The Tree: a Fable

Once upon a time there was a lovely tree that bore the most beautiful, succulent fruits. Now this tree was still quite young and lush and healthy and rightfully proud of its growth and yield. But it was also alone on a hillside by itself, and so it became afraid that its gifts would go untried, unwanted, unnoticed, and that all its value would simply ripen and fall and rot on the ground. After all, the tree told itself, what good is a fruit tree if no one enjoys its fruit?

So the tree did its best to show its fruit to the world. It decorated itself with passing butterflies and brightly-plumed birds, and it danced on the wind, waving its branches while whispering: Come enjoy my lovely fruit: Come and pluck and taste me. Take pleasure in my unique flavor. Harvest my sweet offerings that I might find comfort in your enjoyment and know myself worthy.

So of course, in a world full of hunger, many did come. They gathered round the tree and tugged and plucked and gnawed and slobbered and consumed, murmuring all the while to the tree how lovely it was, how fresh and plump and juicy was its harvest, and how they had never before known such sweetness. And feeling so appreciated, so consumed with their attention and affections, for the first time since it was a sapling the tree actually felt moments of something like joy, moments when it was certain it had found its actual purpose. And though the first arrivals eventually took their fill and left, others came and took their place, all the while whispering and praising and consuming, such that the tree had no time to feel bad amid all that bright hunger and frantic activity.

And on and on until one day the tree found itself alone again, only now stripped bare and bleeding sap from a hundred little wounds where they had stripped off bark or dung in too deep while climbing its branches, seeking out every single last offering, every fruit and flower and bud to fill their all-consuming hunger. And as it gazed on at its own empty, outstretched branches, and felt the pain from its trampled roots, the tree suddenly realized that, in all that noise and activity and admiration, not a single visitor had bothered to see to it that the tree was being fed and watered and cared for. And the tree wept, now weak and once again alone, and it wondered what had happened. How could it have happened? After all, it had just wanted love.

~The Mystical Lion

The Coffin in the Hills.

(warning: very long story)

I moved to a new house a few weeks ago. It was a simple two story house in the hills of West Virginia down a fairly residential road nestled between a cluster of looming trees. It had been on the market for a long time apparently, so I purchased it at an almost criminal price. I couldn’t figure out, why, the foundation solid and the interior in amazing condition.

It was at the end of the street, my neighboring residents scattered before me like an audience in a throne room. It was just outside of a small town, a quaint, fairly poor stretch of the state.

I was pleased with the move. I was away from the noise of DC and more importantly, away from the bad memories I left behind. A broken marriage, the loss of a beautiful apartment, and an inevitable divorce. Thanks God I didn’t have any kids.

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Territorial Jealous [a Barry Allen AU]


a/n: WHY IS IT ALL IN CAPS AHHHH…er, request evil and/or earth 2 Barry? or other characters

Wind sways the empty branches of the trees, dancing around your Adidas high tops while your fingers hang loosely on Barry’s. The colors of the sunset mix between a vibrant pink and a soft pastel purple, fading into a deep ocean of blue. His famous black and white checkered slip on Vans take each step carefully, mindful of the patches of ice coating the sidewalk.

He smirks at group of girls holding their Starbucks drinks and looks up at the sky, swinging your pinky in his. Barry isn’t one for PDA - in fact, he shouldn’t be out in public since he’s a wanted criminal - and you know this. Yet, when you hear one of the girls whisper that she wants to ‘get inside his pants’, you can’t control yourself.

You tug on his red flannel, causing him to halt, gazing dopily down at you; eyelids half closed in a daze and a sleepy smirk. Grabbing his jaw, you glance at the group of girls as you latch your lips on his, sucking and trailing your tongue over his bottom lip. The fabric of his black gloves comes into contact with your rosey, cold cheeks, his thumb rubbing on your skin.

He moans and goes to pull away but you reject his request, yanking his mouth back to yours. His lips pucker against your own, creating small incoherent moans that get louder with each movement. Again, he attempts to detach you, only to be met by another savory kiss. This is turning into a full-on makeout session.

Out of the corner of his eye, he notices the group of girls scoff and walk away, finally understanding. His now red lips curl into a smirk and you take a breath, nose touching his. “If I knew you were this jealous, babydoll, we coulda done so much better.” he winks, pawing at your waist. A gust of wind blows, whipping your hair to one side; the ruby red paisley bandana sways behind Barry, hanging halfway out of his back skinny jeans pocket.

Your eyes squint at him and you tug on your North Face jacket. “I’m not jealous.” you grumble defensively, leaning on your toes to reach his hat. Curling your fingers around his dark gray Neff beanie, you fix it so a small fluff of his light brown hair shows; he raises an eyebrow. “I’m territorial jealous. There’s a difference.”

“Territorial jealous, eh?” he muses, puckering his lips while his brain processes that. “Sounds fake but okay. If you say so, babydoll.” he shrugs, flexing his hands around your body. It’s getting really cold; his joints are starting to tense. He should get back to the safe house, he doesn’t need the speed force to tell him that.

The wind picks up, blowing through the bare trees, creating a howl. “It’s protecting what’s yours.” You roll your eyes, pressing your body to his. There’s a similar gleam of mischief apparent in his seafoam orbs as he peers down at you. “And I’m yours and you’re mine. End of story.” you grumble, clutching his torso.

He chuckles, continuing to walk, “That I am, babydoll. That I am.”

Cloudy Skies, Cloudy Water

A Trolls fanfic

Inspired by @ask-artsy-oncie promt here 

Note - I haven’t written in years, I gave this thing a prologue to both stretch some really old muscles, and two, to give some context of the first time (post movie) Branch loses his colours … Chapter 1 will be set at the actually beginning of the story following the prompt

Note 2 - If anyone can give me a better title, please shoot them my way … this was a filler title whilst I thought of something better … (though it kind of fits a little with the context of the story)

Chapter 1


“Branch I -” the bright pink queen turned her head with a grin, looking to her new partner. The smile faltered, realising the troll she was looking for wasn’t there. Her eyes looked left, right, left again.

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Morning of buttered toast;
of coffee, sweetened, with milk.

Out of the window,
snow-spruces step from their cobwebs.
Flurry of chickadees, feeding then gone.
A single cardinal stipples an empty branch –
one maple leaf lifted back.

I turn my blessings like photographs into the light;
over my shoulder the god of Not-Yet looks on:

Not-yet-dead, not-yet-lost, not-yet-taken.
Not-yet-shattered, not-yet-sectioned,

Ample litany, sparing nothing I hate or love,
not-yet-silenced, not-yet-fractured, not-yet-


I move my ear a little closer to that humming figure,
I ask him only to stay.

Jane Hirshfield, “Not Yet,” in The Lives of the Heart (HarperCollins, 1997)

Drabble: Iroh and Zuko - Cold Kindled Waiting

The White Lotus camp was still.  Iroh pulled his blanket around his shoulders and stepped out of his tent.   It snapped around his feet like a cape and dragged in the dust, but even in the summer, the fields outside Ba Sing Se’s walls left him chilled, and when he found a spot outside the ring of tents, he sat down and drew it tighter.

Lu Ten had been bright, a little piece of sun that had fallen down to earth, and here, outside the walls of Ba Sing Se, he had been snuffed out.  Without him, the world was a little colder.

Iroh looked away from the wall and out over the western plains and the desert scrub, dark smudges against the ground under the feeble starlight.  The wind hissed and rattled through the twigs and branches, empty of leaves, cold.

The siege of Ba Sing Se had been something for father and son to share.  He didn’t remember being afraid for his son, only proud that his boy was so brave, and so strong, ready to do his duty.  He would grow up to be a great Firelord.  Nothing could ever happen to Lu Ten.  He was too good.  The fates weren’t that cruel.

If Lu Ten had been bright sunlight, Zuko was dragon fire, full of so many colors, and flickering on the wind.  The one thing about Zuko visiting him in prison every day was that Zuko visited.  He could see his nephew.  He knew how he was, and there, at he walls of Ba Sing Se, he didn’t.   He hoped his nephew had found his way again, hoped he chose to do the right thing.  Hoped that he wasn’t lost and afraid.

But mostly, he just needed Zuko to be alive when it was over.

Have You Been Aware?

Summary: He came to the library everyday to see you.

Genre: Fluff

Member: Kyungsoo

Have you been aware, how hard it would be for the tree to let go its own leaves every year, although for its own good?

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Of Angels and Christmas Lights

Cas can barely finish reading the last sentence before Maya turns the page, eager to find out how the story will end. She doesn’t let him continue, though. She leans forward to point to the winged and haloed figure hovering in the corner on the page.

“Do all angels have white dresses, papa?” she asks, turning her head to him.

“Uh—” Cas bites his lower lip, struggling to come up with a proper answer under her expectant stare. “No,” he decides, finally. “No, not all of them. Only those that like white dresses.”

Maya raises her hands. “But they aaaaaalways do!” she says, frustrated.

Cas narrows eyes at her, trying to figure out what the “always” refers to. As she shifts on top of his knees, he shuts the book around his index finger to– Oh, of course.

“Do you mean angels in your books?”

“Yes! And in television!” she explains. “And—and on a Christmas tree!”

“Christmas tree?” Cas repeats. “On television?”

“In Veronica’s house,” she corrects. “It’s so big—” she throws her hands up above her head, nearly punching Cas’s nose in the process—”up to the ceiling! And there’s a star on the top—a gold star and angels in white dresses and little lights. It’s sooo pretty!”

“I’m sure it is,” Cas says, using the occasion to change the topic. Explaining angels, and other creatures that to children and most people are fairy tales, without outright lying, is a balancing act that Cas is not very skilled at. “What color are the lights?”

“All colors,” Maya says, jumping off her papa’s knees. “Blue and red and yellow and they twinkle like this—” she opens and closes her palms and eyelids for the most accurate portrayal of twinkling Christmas lights—”and then faster!”

She involves her skipping feet and her head bobbing up and down in her presentation. Losing her balance, she sways to the side. Cas’s arms shoot forward and lock around her to ensure she doesn’t fall. As if encouraged, Maya starts jumping around, swinging to the sides, until Cas scoops her off her feet. He pulls her in, buries her face in her neck and leaves tickling kisses, drawing a salve of squeaky laughter from her mouth.

It takes her a moment to calm down and sit straight in Cas’s lap, but when she does, she doesn’t call for the book Cas abandoned beside him on the couch. Instead, she turns to him, head cocked to the side.

“Can we have a Christmas tree too?” she pleads with a sweet grin.

Cas sucks in a breath, but before he can say anything, the front door swings open and rattles shut.

“Dean!” Cas raises his voice, only slightly. He doesn’t have a heart to scold Dean for slamming the door when it’s the door that saved him from making up another awkward answer.

“Sorry!” comes a rasp from the entrance and Dean storms into the living room, snow falling off his shoulders and to the carpet.

His movements are sharp, steps rushed but firm on the floor. He’s anxious or angry, either way, it’s more than enough to alert Cas; his body tenses, hold tightens around Maya’s small form.

“What’s going on?”

Dean stops in his tracks, turns to them, hands thrown to the sides.

“Oh, I’m gonna tell you what’s going on,” he starts, tipping his chin.

All of the tension escapes Cas at once. Dean’s angry, yes, pissed, even. But Cas knows this tone too well and he knows what’s coming next.

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whereas in the photo for ‘we don’t talk anymore pt. 2’ the window was looking out into a body of water with a broken telephone in its midst, the song cover photo for '4 o'clock’ is from the perspective of outside a house – the shadows created by the moon fall into an otherwise dark and empty room, the tree branches beside it i can almost imagine are rustling with the chill and wind

*(note that because of Dunk’s actions, the tourney didn’t end properly… hmm.)

                                                   - Baratheon - 
                                                  (Lyonel & Joffrey)

She dreams of golden lions.  Arya says it should be stags, but he’s not like that fat drunk king, he’s gracious and beautiful and so it’s lions.  The lion of Baratheon sounds better than the stag.  Stags are prey, after all.  How many times has her father hunted venison, and how many times has she dined upon it.  

The wolf dines upon the stag.

That sounds fine and fair, and Sansa clutches her pillow to he and kisses it, pretending it’s Joffrey for just a moment.  He is so beautiful, and she’s to be his queen one day, and she’ll be as good and gracious as Queen Cersei, she knows she will.

She doesn’t know about Ice.  She doesn’t know about her screams.  She doesn’t know that it will end in blood and death and destruction, and that her lion is not her lion at all. All she knows right now is what she dreams.

                                                         - Tyrell - 
                                                               (Leo & Willas)

What did it matter about his leg, she reminds herself when she wakes in the morning, the secret a talisman in her heart.  What matters is he’ll want me.  He’ll want me.  That’s more than Joffrey ever wanted.  

It makes it easier to smile as she walks through the hallways.  It makes it easier to listen to the queen, or to Joffrey.  Only a little while longer, she thinks.  I’m to be wed, and to a good man.  

Someone who’s worthy.  She had not thought of those words, but there they are tickling her mind, calling to her as if from some dark cave.  Her father had promised her someone who was worthy when he’d broken her betrothal to Joffrey.

Margaery said he was worthy, and Margaery was the sister she had wanted, the sister she should have had, and the sister she was going to have when she was wed to Willas.  Surely Margaery wouldn’t lie to her, for sisters don’t lie to other sisters.  

She doesn’t know about the dress, doesn’t suspect.  She does not know that they know, and that Margaery isn’t her sister now, and never shall be.  She does not know that Willas may be gallant, but he’s never to be hers.  All she knows is hope and that’s enough to let her walk the halls of a bloodred keep.

                                                      - Lannister - 
                                                     (Tybolt & Tyrion)

They have made her a Lannister, and slain her mother and brother.  She was the last Stark, and now she is a Lannister.  They have won the war and there is no hope for Winterfell and joy ever again.  

Her lord…husband is kind.  Or rather, he is not unkind.  Sansa has learned that an absense of unkindness doesn’t mean that a Lannister is truly kind.  But he smiles at her, and seeks to make her smile, and perhaps one day she can come to admire him.

Admire, but never love.  She cannot love a Lannister, not after Robb, and father, and mother.  Her heart aches, and she tries not to think of what her parents or brothers would say to her.

Her father had promised her someone who was worthy, and she’d been given a Lannister.  At least he did his best to shield her from Joffrey, but every time she sees the golden lion on crimson she almost remembers blood on white steps before her vision went dark.

She weeps at night.  Weeps for she’d dreamed of songs and love and marriage and babies like what her mother had had, and all she’d gotten was Lannister Crimson.

She does not know about the plot.  She does not know about the poison.  She does not know that she’ll be whisked away in only a few weeks time.  All she knows right now is despair and misery.

                                                       - Hardyng - 
                                                         (Humphrey & Harrold)

She does her best not to dream of Harry.  She has learned what comes of dreaming of betrotheds.  She shall wait until she knows him, and knows that they are wed.  Then she shall let herself dream.

Her father plans, and promises.  He smiles as he drinks his arbor gold, and gives her significant glances over certain words.  His eyes speak louder than his words, Alayne has learned that well.  He does mean it, doesn’t he?  

She wants to have faith in her father, but faith is in poor supply these days.  Instead, she does her best to trust him.  Trust, because she sees his wits, sees the way he spins reality from words, and Alayne marvels at just how he does it and wonders if maybe she might do it too.  One day.  With practice.

She doesn’t kiss her pillow at night and pretend it’s Harry.  She doesn’t mourn brothers and parents Alayne never had.  She doesn’t dream of puppies.  She doesn’t even let herself imagine his face.  He could be as beautiful as Joffrey or as ugly as the Hound and it wouldn’t matter, not truly.  When she closes her eyes and imagins a great castle of strong grey stone, and Harry’s knights at her side as she rides north to throw the Boltons from her father’s seat.

She does not know about the High Septon, doesn’t know about his righteousness, doesn’t know that he’ll require more than just words to undo her marriage.  She doesn’t know about Saffron, and Myranda, or Ser Shadrich.  All she knows is that maybe, just maybe, she’ll be going home.

                                                    - Targaryen - 
                                                            (Valarr & Aegon)

“You’ll wed him,” he, looking harried.

“I’m already wed,” she reminds him.  The High Septon had not undone her marriage to Lord Tyrion.  She’d been glad of that in the end, so as not to have been saddled with Horrible Harrold, even if it meant that Winterfell…

“I should like to go home,” she says quietly.  “My brother sits in my father’s seat.  I am grateful for your protection, but I am a Stark and should be returned to Winterfell.”  She does her best to keep her bitterness from her voice.  Jon Stark in the end.  Robb legitimized him, because Robb didn’t want her to have the castle.  

“You’ll wed Aegon,” Littlefinger says.  “It doesn’t matter what the High Septon says now, or any of them.  The Faith has been shattered, thanks to our good mad queen.  And Aegon will give you all you want and more.”

All I want? He was getting vague.  Sansa saw that now.  Vague for his plans were all falling apart, for he’d not planned for two dragons–only one.  “All you want,” Sansa says quietly.  “I want to go to Winterfell.  You could send me with twenty men and I could be there in a month.  No need for marriage, no need for Aegon.  Only a need for you.”

“Alayne,” he begins, but Sansa shakes her head.

“Can you give me what I want?” she asks him evenly, and his green eyes are sharp as they look at her.

“You will wed Aegon.  The matter is decided.”

She doesn’t know about the knight.  There’s no way she can.

                                      - She might have prayed then,
                         if she had known a prayer all the way through,
                                            but there was no time.

This time for true, is all Sansa can think.  There is word that Aegon’s camp is only a day’s ride away, and on the morrow, Sansa’s to be his bride.  She somehow doubts that he will be like her first husband, and heed her wishes not to be bedded.  Perhaps she’ll want to bed him.  She’d once dreamed of being a queen, and now she’s to have it.  Except that like as not her head will end up on a spike just like her father’s.

As if she’d not dreaded it for years.  As if she’d not expected it.

The snow floats around her as she rides.  No wheelhouse can make it through the snows, but Sansa doesn’t mind the cold.  It reminds her that all this is real, even if she feels numb, and dreamy.  She dismounts in the darkness even as Lord Littlefinger’s men set up camp, and she looks around the clearing they’ve settled on.  It’s sheltered by trees, and it’s on the side of a hill.  Somewhere, she remembers someone saying that hills were safer to set up camp on than valleys.  

She walks around, feeling Lord Littlefinger’s eyes upon her.  He is wroth with her, she knows.  Once that would have frightened her, but she can’t be frightened now.  She’s in a cold dream, but instead of green firelight there’s moonglow and snow.  

“Lady Sansa.”  She looks about, wondering if it’s the wind, or the rustle of empty branches.  But it’s a voice, truly a voice and she spots a hooded figure, taller than anyone she’s seen in years.  The figure raises one finger to his lips, and then removes the hood.

Her face is scarred, and Sansa has never seen her before.  Perhaps because she is a woman, Sansa trusts her more and she goes to stand by the tree at the edge of the clearing, leaning against it and looking in.

“Who are you?” she asks without moving her lips.

“I am Brienne of Tarth, my lady, I served your mother Lady Catelyn.  I vowed to her I would find you and return you to her.”

“You cannot do that now,” Sansa says.  Her voice flutters, and her stomach is twisted in knots.  

“No, I cannot,” Lady Brienne says, and Sansa hears rather than sees the pain the words cause her.  “But I can bring you home to Winterfell.  Your brothers are there.  And your sister soon enough.”

“Arya?” Sansa asks sharply.  Her little sister is dead, and then was wed to Ramsay Bolton, and then wasn’t Arya at all, but Jeyne Poole.  It was that that changed him from Father to Littlefinger.

“Yes my lady.  At the head of a pack of wolves.  She had a little sword called Needle.”  But Sansa had never known of a sword called Needle.  It didn’t sound like something Arya would name a sword.  Unless it was a secret of some sort.  Why would Brienne think she knew the sword unless it mattered somehow?  

“A pack of wolves?” Sansa asks instead.

“Headed by her own direwolf,” Brienne says quickly.  “My lady, I speak the truth.  I would not lie to you, though I know that others will say the same.  I…you know my squire, Podrick Payne.”

“Pod?” Sansa says, startled and too loudly.  Littlefinger’s eyes flicker at her and she feigns a cough.

“Aye, my lady.  He entered my service to help me find you.  He has no designs on reward, just your safety.” 

This could be a lie–the cruelest of lies, but Sansa cannot know.  If Lady Brienne were a knight–a true knight…except true knights don’t exist, and Lady Brienne’s a lady, not a knight.  But Sansa wants to believe it, she does.  She wants to believe her mother sent someone for her, that her brothers and sister await her in Winterfell that she can go home at long last.  She thinks of Littlefinger, thinks of Aegon and the marriage bed she does not want.

“I will keep you safe.” She hears the words and this timethis timeSansa goes.

Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.

—  Rainer Maria Rilke, from Onto A Vast Plain
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.
The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.
Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
—  Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows, in Book of Hours