Chapter 023




At once, his eyes fell on the bed. Sansa was lying there, very still, except for her breathing. Her facial complexion was an unhealthy mix of a cheesy colour and red blotches; the brow was sweaty. The fever had got her into its clutches all too fast.

There was also a nurse in the room; she curtsied hurriedly as soon as he became visible.

“She's fallen asleep, my lord,” the woman whispered.

Lord Lannister waved his hand, and the woman scuttled out of the room.

Tywin sneaked closer, ever the predator.

Sansa's mouth was slightly open, and she didn't react right away.

Perhaps it was better to leave again at once. Hm, but he wanted at least to have a closer look at her. You never knew, if thoroughness didn't pay off in a situation.

When he sat down Sansa's eyes opened a little.


It was everything she said, and her voice sounded like breaking parchment. Apart from that, it was still so weird to be addressed thus, by his first name.

Suddenly, there was a motion. To his complete surprise, Sansa took his hand, put it under her feverish cheek and clutched it as if it were a cushion she wanted to hold in place.

Confused, he attempted to ask what on earth she was thinking – but the same instant, he realized she had fallen asleep again. Now, he didn't know what to do next. After all, it was impossible to stay in this position.

“My hand isn't a pillow,” he thought. “What a strange young woman.”

Carefully, he tried to withdraw his fingers, but that earned him a petite protest sound, and Sansa clutched him even more.

“Damn, I've got to rule wintry, wight-infested Westeros. I've got no time for this rubbish,” he told himself and pulled more forcefully.

Sansa whined a little when his hand was gone.

“Tywin?” she mumbled.


Unnerved, he pinched the bridge of his nose. Why on earth did she call for him, of all people? She should be asking for her bratty little sister's presence, not for his.

“Sansa, I'm here. Shall I bring you Arya?”

The thought of the unnerving Stark girl in his private chambers made him re-evaluate the offer at once, but Sansa didn't seem to be interested anyway.

“Tywin. Please.”

The Old Lion felt a weird tug deep inside. In his core.

His eyes darted to her feverish brow where the nurse had left a wet cloth. Surely, it was warm by now. With quick fingers he snatched it, soaked it in a nearby bowl with cold water and put it back. In the process, he stooped over his bride... and suddenly, there were weak, but determined arms around his neck, and he was pulled half on top of Sansa.

He could have freed himself easily, but he had not foreseen the move and allowed it for a moment.

Sansa opened her eyes; they were glassy.

She whispered: “The... drawer. Kiss. Please.”

Tywin wrinkled his brow and didn't understand. Well, not the first part at least. With regard to the second one...

He bowed deeper and gave Sansa a quick peck on her cheek, feeling awkward all the while. Caresses had never been his strength.

Next, Tywin quickly re-focussed on his wife's mentioning of “the drawer”. What could she have meant?

He rose and opened her bedside table, but only found a scarf, a pair of gloves, some hairpins, a brush and a little sewing basket inside it. Nothing noteworthy.

He tipped with his index finger against his lips, deep in thought.

Next, he walked over to Sansa's dressing table, which had found a new place in his – now their – bedroom after the marriage. Concentrated like the leader of the pride of lions that he was, he sifted through the contents of its three drawers. More hairpins, two golden necklaces he had never seen Sansa wear (presents from Joffrey?), some richly-embroidered handherchiefs, several ribbons and a pearl string for the hair, two fans...

In short: normal women's equipment and inconspicuous by all means.

So what on earth had Sansa been talking about? It was easy to dismiss her words as feverish blabbering, but Tywin couldn't believe this. Sansa had been too intent to mention “the drawer”.

Suddenly, he breathed in.

Had she...?

With only a few strides Tywin was on the other side of the bed. His own side. It was likelier that a spy would look into Sansa's drawers than his own ones, in case she possessed some volatile piece of information, or a potentially dangerous object. If his young bride was as clever as he was slowly coming to see her...

Lord Lannister fumbled on his own bedside table and opened it.

And there it was. A letter, which had already been opened.

The envelope said: “To Lady Sansa”.

It was written in an unknown spidery kind of handwriting.

And underneath he could read in what he recognized as Sansa's handwriting: “The best lie is always seasoned with a grain of truth.”

Against his will, Tywin's heart was starting to beat faster. Of course, he would read the letter – but he also knew he wouldn't like the contents of it. Not at all.