A Lightness


Chapter 001





She thought she had heard enough screams, sounds of torture and death being Joffrey’s hostage over the years. She certainly didn’t expect to hear them outside the barred door of the black cell to which she was currently confined.

A girl of seventeen, Sansa Stark was immune to any kind of violence. She'd seen bellies split open and innards slipping out, arms sliced off of their shoulders, throats slit and tongues pinched out of mouths. After seeing her own father’s head being taken from his shoulders, nothing affected her like when she was a girl. She no longer balked. She no longer flinched. She no longer smiled.

Sansa Stark had been forced to harden her skin. She knew never to show an emotion on her face. When she finally realized that it was seeing her cry and scream that made Joffrey continue his torment, she stopped reacting at all. It had been difficult at first, not to cry out as she was beaten, but she quickly learned to bite her tongue. Joffrey soon lost interest and Sansa made sure never to go back to that frightened little girl that was so easy to torture.

Her original goal was to hide her emotions around Joffrey. She learned that it was easier to hide herself away. This behavior soon creeped into other areas of her life. She would usually see Margaery every few days after they were married. Margaery filled the time with stories of gossip about her cousin’s trysts and love lives. It was easier with Tyrion. She and her husband spent as little time together as possible. After Lord Tywin had died, the pressure to have children was lifted and soon enough, it seemed as though Joffrey and Cersei had completely forgotten about them all together. After Margaery became pregnant, gave her king a prince of his own, Sansa barely saw her anymore. Neither Sansa nor Tyrion were privy to the inner workings of the seven kingdoms any longer. She did not know what was going on with the war that her brother tirelessly waged out there in the world. She and her husband were now just two pawns set aside until they would become of use again. It seemed as though no one cared about their comings and goings. Still, having found out how to sneak Tyrion out of their rooms early on in the marriage, the couple felt no reason to stop their nightly routine. It fit them both well enough. Sansa got the bed to herself and Tyrion - well, she didn’t exactly know where Tyrion went off to every night.

But it was these times, when she was alone, at night in the dark of her rooms that the fear and terror she felt deep inside bubbled up to the surface. The visions of death, mutilation and torture that she had witnessed would creep behind her eyes, refusing to give her the mercy of sleep. She never went to bed without the light of a candle to soften the darkness. On the rare occasion that Sansa was able to sleep through the night, it was ever fitful and riddled with nightmares or horrors both real and imagined; her father’s head on a spike, the man who tried to attack her in the streets, Joffrey’s sneer as she was beaten again and again. Even though the nights were torturous, Sansa considered this time alone to be the best part of the day. This was her life now, and she had accepted it long ago.

Gone were the days that Sansa hoped her brother would come to save her. Gone were the dreams of Knights in shining armor coming to rescue her. Sansa lost that child's dream years ago. Sandor Clegane was to blame for that. He was still a member of Joffrey's Kingsguard. Sansa supposed she was to blame for that.

It was night, it must have been two days ago, that this mundane life Sansa had gotten used to was interrupted. She was sleeping, dreaming, when her door was broken in. She immediately thought of Tyrion. They were found out. Someone had seen him leaving. Before she knew it, two Lannister guards had thrown a sack over her head and dragged her kicking and screaming from her bed in naught but her nightshift.

“What has happened? Where are you taking me?” Sansa demanded of them. But they would not answer. She tried to picture where they were going, taking a mental note of the twists and turns they made, but there were soon too many that she had lost track. She heard a commotion at every turn. Fearful women, anxious men yelling orders, the unmistakable sound of a sword being pulled from a scabbard. What is going on? Is someone attacking the city? Her heart fluttered. Robb? No. She could not allow herself that hope. She had to focus on the matter at hand, which involved these men taking her further and further down flights of stairs.

Only a few moments later, the sounds and the movement was over. Sansa felt the sack removed from her face, but the world she opened her eyes to was no less dark. No. Not here.

“NO! Please! Don’t leave me here!” She screamed. She heard the lock close on the door. She followed the noise and felt along the barred wooden door, locking her into one of the black cells.

Sansa learned soon that screaming was of no use. She crept along the walls, whimpering as she stepped her bare feet in an unknown mess, and kicked away filthy rats. She guessed that her cell was about eight feet on all sides. She tried to calm herself by counting. Surely Tyrion or Margaery will find a way to help me. After only a few hours, she was unable to continue counting the seconds. Soon she lost all sense of time. That is when the darkness finally consumed her. She found what she hoped was a clean corner and slid down against the wall. Her hands shook as she pulled her knees to her chest. All of the things that kept her up at night were starting to encroach upon her worried mind. With no candle, no light, there was no escaping them. She saw Lady, her beautiful soft coat tainted with her own blood. Her father’s head rolling on the ground. The men who tried to pull her from her horse, succeeding. She imagined Arya being beaten, tortured and butchered. Bran, Rickon, Robb, Mother, even Jon. These are the things that kept her up at night. The things she saw happening to other people at the hand of the gracious King Joffrey, happening to the ones she truly loved. Sansa tried to slow her breathing, but it was useless on her own. In times like these, when the nightmares were this horrible, she couldn’t help herself. She began to think of the one memory that she rarely allowed herself to consider.

Sansa remembered that night like it was yesterday. The green light of the wildfire burning outside her window brightened her whole room; the room that seemed to shrink once Sansa noticed just who was sharing the space with her. Sansa remembers the smell of him. The stink of sweat, smoke and someone else’s blood radiated throughout the room. He wanted to take mewith him, but he took his song instead. Even to this day, she can still feel the uneven surface of his face under her fingers, the wetness of blood and tears. She can still hear her voice after she stopped singing. Don't leave. Please. She didn't know why she said it. Even now, she couldn’t answer herself that question. She remembers how he blinked, released her and stepped away. Whatever trance he was in was broken, and he was the Hound again. He left without another word. The next morning, he was back at the side of his king managing the clean-up of the city as if nothing had happened. That was over two years ago. It always seemed to Sansa that he thought nothing had happened. She knew he was drunk. Perhaps he just didn’t remember. Beyond finding themselves in situations where they had needed to address one another, they never spoke, never looked at each other in the eye. Except for one night a few months ago…but she wouldn’t think of that. Not now.

Sansa continued to calm herself, breathing in deeply, imagining the rough feel of his skin under her fingers. She never understood why, but this seemed to be the only memory that consoled her troubled mind.

Sansa soon lost all sense of time and succumbed to the darkness. She had woken from her nightmares twice and there was still no water or food for her. That is when she heard the screams. She could hear steel clashing, men fighting and dying just mere feet away.

She heard footsteps getting closer, fast and pounding down the passage. Stopping right at her door. Sansa got to her feet. Her head spun, but she remained standing. They were beating at the door. She began to shake. What could possibly be happening? The door broke down, light from the torch engulfed the room, momentarily blinding her.

“It's her!” The man shouted down the hall. "It's Sansa Stark!"

More footsteps pounded down the hall, a new man entered, and stepped closer to Sansa. She backed away toward to wall behind her. Who are these people?

“My lady!” He clearly noticed her fear. "It's alright. You're alright now, don't be afraid."

"What do you want? Who are you?" she asked, her voice weak with lack of use.

"King Robb has taken the city. It's over. The war is won."

"Oh." Sansa breathed. And the floor came up to meet her.