A gift for a girl who no longer exists
It shouldn’t matter as much to her as it does, this small silver hairnet of blue and white stones that Jon’s just given her, stammering all the while.
Sansa remembers when gifts and jewels filled her daydreams. She’d while away the hours spinning stories about the favors she’d graciously bestow on golden knights, and the gowns and jewels suitors would shower her with as they tried to woo her.
Sansa’s gowns are simple now, made by her own hand as she sits in the Lord’s Chambers Jon prepared for her. She sews designs that are easy to take on and off. Lords and ladies alike compliment her on the elegant, sweeping lines. She smiles, and keeps the true reason to herself - she can’t bear the thought of anyone touching her, even if only to help her dress.
She turns away offers of ladies’ maids, and wears her hair plainly, spilling over her shoulders. Some of her advisers think it’s a strategic move, a “banner for all the North to see,” a subtle reminder of her lady mother. Sansa’s not blind to the symbolism, and uses it to her advantage, But she also can’t bear to have someone stand behind her, to brush and braid her hair. The feeling is too intimate, and too vulnerable. So she pins pieces away from her face, and lets the rest fall free.
Jon devotes too much time to her comfort, now that he’s King in the North. He asks after whether she’s eating, and makes sure her chambers are well-stocked with logs. When she confronts him about it, he rubs the back of his head and mumbles a few words about remembering how cold she was at the Wall.
She’s frustrated that he recalls that moment of weakness. She’s also touched.
Now, as she pours the hairnet through her fingers, she starts to smile. She thinks how she could make a gown match, with embroidery that would bring out the shine of the silver metal. But she’s afraid of opening up that part of herself again. She’s wary of giving voice to the girl inside her who still loves pretty things, and might, just might, believe in songs.
Jon sees her face fall. He sways towards her, then stops. “Do you…is it the wrong size?”
Sansa can’t hold back a small laugh. Jon’s stance eases. “No, Jon, I can adjust the hairstyle, a hairnet can’t be too small.”
Jon looks as relieved as he does when a favorable report comes in about their growing support from the Northern houses. “Good, that’s good. I just thought it would…look nice, with your hair.”
At King’s Landing, men had recited poetry for Sansa. She’d even received a few fanciful, beautifully written love notes delivered by secret messengers. All were politically motivated, calculated to test her loyalty, to Joffrey, or to Tyrion. She’d learned to steel herself to sweet gestures. So she’s not sure why she’s fighting back tears at Jon’s simple words.
“Sansa, are you all right?” Sansa glances at Jon. His brow is furrowed, and he’s nervous again. She wishes he’d leave, and let her vent her unruly emotions in peace. She wishes he’d open his arms, so she could walk into them, because she thinks his touch might be one she could welcome.
Sansa nods, composing herself. “Yes. Thank you Jon. I’ll…” She has a response ready from her prior life - a promise to wear the gift soon. But she can’t give Jon that promise. As talented as she is, without a ladies’ maid, she can’t craft a style on her own that would allow her to place the net in her hair. So there will be no gown with silver thread, and no moment where she gazes into her mirror, admiring how the stones bring out the color of her eyes. “I’ll keep it safe. It’s beautiful.”
Jon shifts his weight. He seems about to say something more, but instead awkwardly takes his leave. Sansa carefully stows the gift away in a drawer. She takes it out from time to time, allowing herself to hold the stones up to the light, before tucking it away again. The girl who loves this gift can have a few moments of Sansa’s time, but no more. There’s a war on, after all, and Winter is here.
inspired by @dragonchristianlady97‘s headcanon about Jon giving Sansa gifts! Edit: There is a sequel here: I don’t know about kings, but I’ll help you, because I couldn’t leave Sansa so sad.