A Lightness


Chapter 084





What did you just say?”

Sansa let out a shuddering breath. She heard her voice in her head, echoing over and over again.

It was me.

It was me.

It was me.

She wanted to scream it again. She wanted to take it back. She wanted to hide in a hole and never come out. But there was something else; an undeniable feeling of freedom - relief, that filled her veins. When she spoke, it was quiet, but her voice was strong, clear and steady. “You heard me.”

Robb clenched his jaw so hard, Sansa was waiting for his teeth to crumble into pieces in his mouth. He barely opened his mouth to speak. “Rickon. Roslin. Leave us.”

“No.” Sansa said, her chin high. “They’re not going anywhere.”

The four of them stood there, no one making a move, everyone seemingly afraid to say another word.

Until Robb took a step forward toward her, his hand in front of him, approaching her gently. It was a movement she remembered mimicking toward Sandor, just a few nights ago when he accidentally told her he loved her. Sansa blinked at the thought. If it wasn’t true, then why did it slip out like that?

Robb’s eyes were different than hers had been. His were harsh, as if he clearly already knew the answer to the questions he was about to ask. As if he wanted to be wrong about it. “Did he force himself on you? Did he convince you to do this? Did he threaten you?”

What? No!” How could he suggest something so horrible? “I – If we are going down that road Robb, then you must know that it was me who initiated…” Sansa gulped, not sure of what to call it. “…everything.” Her head continued to spin. It felt like she was underwater again, from the rushing sound in her ears.

Robb asked her question after question and she felt her panic rise with each answer she gave. “Why did you do this?” He pressed.

“I wanted to. I wanted to be with him. I…I love him.”

He didn’t even react to that. “Who else knows?”


“Besides my brother. And my wife it would seem.” He glared at Rickon, but kept his back toward Roslin, who looked more distraught than any of them. “Were you a truly a maiden Sansa?”


“You heard what I asked.” Robb was beyond looking uncomfortable. He wasn’t even thinking of propriety. “Did Tyrion bed you first? Did you lie to mother and me about that?”

She froze. This could be a way out.

But how could I do that? You wanted to get the truth out there, get the whole truth out. Sandor lied enough for the both of you already. “No.” She gulped over the incessant lump in her throat. “I was still a maiden after Tyrion died.”

Sansa watched her brother’s hands clench into fists. “Until?”

She was so willing to share everything just before, but now it felt so wrong, to speak about something so personal, so intimate, so dangerously secret. Well, you went and ruined that for yourself now didn’t you? She took a breath and tried to steady herself. “Until about a month ago.” Robb’s shoulders slumped. He looked completely defeated. So horribly disappointed. “I wanted to tell you today Robb. I tried…”

“What were you going to tell me?” He snapped at her.

Sansa had to swallow before she spoke. “That I couldn’t marry Gawen because I am in love with Sandor. And he loves me. And we want to be together.” Though it seems those last two sentences were untrue on his part.

Robb’s eyes narrowed and he shook his head in what looked to be utter disbelief. “How could you do this?”

Sansa cleared her throat. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, how could you jeopardize everything I have worked for, for the Hound?”

You?” Sansa swallowed, the guilt she had just been feeling already dissipating. “Everything you have worked for?

“Yes Sansa. You know how important it was that we make a good match for you. To strengthen the North once again. And you went and ruined it all.”

“So…” She started, feeling another wave of anger course through her. “…I’m worth nothing to you other than my virtue? The parts of me that are yours to sell?” Robb opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out and he close it again. “So you admit it? That all I was good for was the piece of flesh inside of me that is gone now?”

“Sansa!” Roslin gasped.

“Everything you said today in the crypt, was that a lie too? Am I so ruined to you now that everything else about me and my person is now worthless to your cause? To your family? Your legacy?”

Robb huffed and Sansa saw that he started to shake. “I did my duty.” He pointed to Roslin. “I married the woman I was promised to marry, with no questions asked. Why would you do this? How could you?”

“Because I wanted to! I have no explanation other than that!” Sansa flung her arms out to her sides, and tried to hold her shaking hands steady. “For once in my life, I did what I wanted to do. Not what was best for me, or expected of me, or commanded of me. I chose to give myself to Sandor. Because I love him.” Robb rolled his eyes in exasperation at the sentiment again. And it only made her angrier. “In addition to that simple fact, I don’t know if you have forgotten Robb, but I’ve already been forced into a marriage that I didn’t want. I was expected to put up with that too and I did. Because they would have killed me. I never imagined that I would feel as pressured by my own family as I was by the Lannisters!” Sansa took a breath to steady herself. It didn’t work. “The only one there, keeping me safe, looking out for me, was Sandor.”

Robb rolled his eyes angrily and moaned. “This again.”

“This again? What the fuck do you mean this again?” Robb didn’t say anything, but he didn’t look any more cowed by her either. “I can’t believe you. You will never understand anything I had to go through!”

Robb answered, condescending as ever. “We all had our own troubles Sansa. Rickon was off living with cannibals. I was waging a bloody war!”

“I know you were. Which is why I don’t blame you for my being alone. But you don’t know the things I had to witness.” She closed her eyes trying to push the images away. “The things I had to endure.”

Robb groaned and she could tell by his tone that he had probably rolled his eyes yet again. He’ll never understand. Not unless I make him. So she opened her eyes and said something she had never said aloud before. “Joffrey tried to rape me.”

What?” Roslin stepped forward.

Sansa.” Rickon sighed in shock.

But Robb’s eyes just widened briefly.

Sansa licked her lips. She’d never told anyone what happened. The only one who knew about it was Sandor, and he was there. They had talked about it once, but she never had to explain what had happened. In doing so, she found her mouth terribly dry, her heart fluttering in her chest. But she pressed on. “Joffrey came to my room one night when Margaery couldn’t get pregnant. Tyrion wasn’t there.” Sansa felt her jaw start to shake and she shrugged. “He thought he might try with me.”

Robb looked away and wiped his hand hard across his jaw.

“Joffrey hit me, he tore at my clothes, and he called Sandor in to hold me down.”

Seven hells Sansa.” Rickon breathed. There was something in her that thought her little brother shouldn’t be hearing this, but it was too late for that now.

“The only reason I wasn’t raped by the king was because Sandor was there.” She put her hand to her mouth. “He hit him over the head. Knocked him unconscious when he was on top of me.” Sansa breathed in a shuddering breath through her teeth. “We only talked about it once, since then. Sandor almost killed him that very night.” She waited, remembering, listening to the silence in the room. “Gods.” She breathed, the tears flowing freely. “If he wasn’t there…”

Roslin came to her side. She held her hand and rubbed the top of Sansa’s arm soothingly. “But he was there. It’s all over now Sansa, you’re safe.”

She couldn’t believe she was supporting the man who just broke her heart. But she couldn’t deny these simple truths, and it was time Robb knew them too.

Sansa pulled her hand away from Roslin and wrapped it around her stomach. “He kept me safe. He was the only one I trusted.” A sob racked through her chest. “And now he’s gone.”

“Gone?” Roslin chirped. “What do you mean gone?”

Sansa shrugged out another sob. “He’s probably halfway to Essos by now.”

“Essos?” Roslin gasped. “But he’s here.”

What!” Robb and Sansa shouted at the same exact time.

“He’s…” Roslin’s eyes shifted nervously from Sansa to Robb. “He’s here. I’ve… only just passed him.”

Sansa felt herself start to sober up, the tears stopping almost immediately. “You mean…he didn’t leave?”

“Unless he managed to do so in the last five minutes. Though I’m not sure if he’d be able to, drunk as he was.”


“Well yes. “ Her eyes shifted again. “I could smell him before he even spoke-“

“He spoke? What did he say?”

“He just said, ‘evening little queen’.”

Why hasn’t he left? He’s had plenty of time to get far away from me, just like he said he wanted. “He’s here.” Sansa repeated to herself.

“Yes.” Roslin let out a light chuckle.

“See Sansa, I told you!” Rickon was pulling at her arm again, but gently this time, encouraging. “He would never leave you. He loves you.”

Sansa started shaking her head before he even finished. “But it can’t be true. He told me he didn’t love me. He just told me that it was all a lie!”

“But Sansa you released him from his vow to you and he is still here!” Rickon shouted.

“You did?” Roslin was shocked. Sansa had to remember that she wasn’t in the room until she finally revealed her secret to Robb. “When did this all happen?”

“Just a little while ago.” Sansa answered.

“Sansa he is still here.” Rickon tugged at her arm again. “What does that tell you?”

She shrugged and sniffed. “He’s drunk…he doesn’t want to leave the wine?”

“No Sansa.” Roslin scolded her. She grabbed Sansa’s hands again. “Rickon is right. He can’t leave you. He won’t. He loves you.” She pulled Sansa closer and her stare bored into her. “The only lie he ever told you was today, when he said he didn’t love you.”

“But why would he...” She was so lost.

“I don’t know.” Roslin shrugged. “To make things easier for you maybe? Whatever he did I am sure it was in self-sacrifice.”

“I don’t…” Sansa trailed off, not knowing what to think, not knowing what to say.

But Roslin seemed sure. “I saw it on his face, Sansa. He is in love with you. He practically admitted it to me. I saw it, and I believe it.”

Seven hells…what if she is right?

Have you all lost your bloody minds?” Again, Sansa had completely forgotten about Robb in the room. By Roslin’s reaction, it seemed that she did too. “You can’t actually be supporting her in this.” Roslin looked at her feet and dropped Sansa’s hands.

Roslin shrugged innocently. “I just want her to be happy Robb.” Sansa chest warmed and she wanted to rush over to her good sister and wrap her arms around her.

Robb just huffed again. He looked at Rickon. “How long have you known about this?”

Rickon shrugged, clearly uncomfortable and out of his element. This was obviously not what he was expecting when he initiated the conversation, the poor boy. “I’m pretty sure I knew they loved each other before either of them did.”

Robb closed his eyes slowly. Sansa was sure the whole ‘love’ aspect of this discussion was but a minute detail. Sansa watched him turn on his heels, slowly as anything, toward his wife again. When he opened his eyes, Sansa could see that Roslin held his gaze, though it seemed to be difficult for her.

“Roslin. How could you lie to me like this?”

“Robb…” She stepped forward and reached for him, but he pulled away. Roslin wrung her hands together out in front of her. “It was never my intention, to keep something from you.”

“She didn’t know everything Robb. She figured it out on her own when she saw-“ The bite mark on my neck. Sansa felt her eyes widen and she knew she couldn’t go that far. You just told him that Sandor has been fucking you for a month and now you are afraid to mention a little bite mark?

Thankfully, Roslin stepped in. “When I saw the way he looked at her. When she passed out, on the way to Deepwood. He…he held her.” She shook her head slowly, visibly remembering the moment in her mind. “Robb. The way he looked at her. It was the same look…” She glanced at Sansa, at Rickon, looking like she was at war with herself for what she was about to share. “…It was similar to the way I see you look at me sometimes.” Roslin looked at the ground when she said it, her pretty cheeks turned bright red.

Sansa saw Robb’s features soften, but only for half of a moment. She continued then, trying to help dig Roslin out of the hole she had just thrown her into. “After that, I told Roslin that it was over. I told her we had broken it off. For… for my marriage. For Gawen.”

Robb’s eyes darted in between them, remembering. “That afternoon. When I came to the room, and you stormed out.”

“Yes.” Roslin answered. “That is when I first…addressed her about it.”

“And it is also when I told her that it was all over. That I was committed to marrying Gawen.”

“But you didn’t keep that promise did you? Not if you were trying to tell me today how you didn’t want to marry him.” Sansa looked down at her hands, waiting for the next assault. “Deepwood.” Robb said under his breath. Sansa looked up. Robb was staring at nothing, but she could see that he was thinking hard, putting something together in his mind perhaps.

“The bed.”

Oh no.

“The broken bed at Deepwood Motte.”

“Bed? What bed?” Rickon piped up. “What did I miss?”

He remained unanswered and Robb’s eyes didn’t leave hers. “That was you?”

Sansa couldn’t tear her eyes away from Robb, as much as she wanted to. So she nodded and choked out a pathetic, “Yes.”

Robb’s nostrils flared again, but the look on her brother’s face could only be described as pure disgust, and Sansa knew it was directed right at her. She felt herself flush again, finally feeling some bit of shame for what she had done.

Something in his eyes changed after a moment, something that Sansa couldn’t identify. Robb growled through his gritted teeth. “I’ll kill him.”

“What?” Sansa was so quiet, she barely even heard herself speak. “I’ll kill him.” Robb strode over to his desk, leaving a frozen Sansa in his wake.

“No…you can’t…you can’t be serious…” She trailed off in a nervous laugh.

Robb grabbed for his sword that was leaning against the wall, unsheathed it. “Robb, what are you doing?” Rickon asked, his voice sounding very small.

“Robb.” Roslin reached out for him, but he pulled his arm away again and headed to exit the room.

He’s not kidding. He’s not kidding. Stop him. Stop him! Sansa threw herself in front of the door before he could get there.“Don’t be ridiculous Robb! You can’t kill him.”

When he looked at her, it was like he just saw right through her. His eyes were wide and nearly aflame with rage. “I killed his brother. This should be easy.”

He pushed her lightly and Sansa stumbled out of the way. Robb opened the door, Grey Wind at his heels, his sword unsheathed in hand.

“Robb! Stop this right now!” Sansa scrambled after him, Rickon and Roslin behind her.

“Your grace, is everything alright?” One of his guards asked. Robb stopped only briefly to address the guards outside of the door.

“What are you going to do?” Sansa begged. “Don’t hurt him! Please Robb!

Sansa saw Robb’s eyes crinkle in disgust, but he didn’t look at her. “Detain my sister.”


Roslin shouted. “Robb what are you doing!” But she didn’t dare go to physically stop him.

The hands around her arms weren’t ungentle, but she was powerless to escape them. Sansa watched Robb take two steps before Rickon clutched onto his arm. “What are you going to do? You can’t hurt him!” Robb shook Rickon off and turned back to the guards.

“My brother too.”

Two more men appeared to grab hold of Rickon and Sansa watched helplessly as her brother set off down the long hall to kill Sandor.

Robb! Please!” She screamed, her voice rasping, not sounding nothing like herself anymore.

Rickon fought widely against the men and soon Shaggy was at his side, threatening with an unmistakable growl of warning. But Sansa didn’t watch. She turned to Roslin who stood there, her mouth agape. “Stop him! Stop him Roslin please!”

“I can’t.” Roslin was frozen to the spot. “I doubt anyone will be able to.”

“No.” Sansa sobbed and pulled at her captor’s grasp on her arms, her shoulder tightening with every yank. “Robb!” He was almost at the end of the hall. And then she thought of it. “Robb! If you don’t have them release me, if you hurt him, if you even touch him, then I will tell everyone.” Robb stopped in his tracks just before he was to turn the corner, but he didn’t turn around. Sansa’s heart nearly stopped in relief. “You heard me. This castle, this kingdom, all of bloody Westeros would light up with the talk of it. I don’t care about what happens after! I will tell them all!”

Robb turned around slowly on his heel. The look he gave her sent chills to her core. For the first time in her life, Sansa could see a side of her brother that she could only ever imagine, that only those on the battlefield with him and Grey Wind would have seen before. The man capable of killing the Mountain.

His voice was cold and not his own. “Let her go.” And he turned back around toward the great hall.

The guard couldn’t release her fast enough and soon she was bounding down the hall, barefoot, after her brother. She heard Rickon and Shaggy behind her. She was sure Roslin was making her way after them too. She’d never run so fast in her life. She saw ahead of her as others in the hall moved out of Robb’s way and she dodged between them, ignoring their looks and scandalized gasps. She nearly caught up with Robb when he burst through the doors of the Great Hall.

Hound!” Robb’s voice reverberated through the hall, filled nearly halfway with people eating, drinking, like they did every night. A hush fell over the crowd and Sansa swore she could hear his voice echo.

Sansa found Sandor easily enough. She wanted to fold over and collapse on the floor again when she saw him. He picked his head up from the table and Sansa could see that he was drunk. But he’s here. He’s here. He didn’t leave like he said he wanted to. That has to mean something. Sansa felt something inside of her that she could only identify as hope.

Hope that was about to be dashed away in an instant, if Robb had his way.

Robb waited for Sandor to respond. He can’t hurt him. Not here. Not in front of all of these people.

Sansa felt Rickon collide with her in the next second and the force pushed her further into the room on her unsteady bare feet.

Sandor stood up then, nearly knocking the others over on his bench. He wobbled just a bit, though he stood straight and tall and Sansa hoped no one would notice. Sansa glanced around the hall at the concerned and confused familiar faces. Gawen. Erena. Ramsay Bolton. Roose Bolton. Darol even. Everyone’s eyes were on her and Robb.

“Hound.” Robb growled and stepped forward. “Outside, with me. Now.” But Sandor didn’t move.

Sansa grasped for Robb’s arm but he was already approaching Sandor and out of reach. Sansa watched as Sandor’s eyes took in the sight of Robb’s unsheathed sword. “Robb. Please.” Rickon moaned from behind her. How Robb imagined on doing it here with everyone around was beyond her, but his mind was set, that much was clear.

He didn’t believe me. He didn’t believe that I would actually tell everyone about me and Sandor.

“Robb don’t!” He stopped again, just mere feet away from Sandor. “I’ll say it, Robb. I’ll tell them all.” Sansa pulled up her chin and stood on her toes, aware of all the eyes on her. And she meant it. By the seven, did she mean it. “I swear by the old gods and the new, I’ll say it!” Her voice was strong and steady again, revealing nothing of the nausea and nerves within her.

“You’ll say what?” Catelyn appeared out of nowhere, holding her skirts up over her feet as she shuffled quickly over toward her wild children. “What in the heavens is going on here?”

Sansa gulped. Mother. Could she say it now that she was here? If Robb, continued, she would have to. She had no choice.

Sansa caught Sandor’s eye just then and she swore, through the wetness in her eyes, she saw his mouth move to form the words, I’m sorry. And she felt like she was going to burst.

“Your Grace!”

Every head in the room turned to the door. Maester Luwin’s voice reached them before he did. When he made it to the hall, he was pale, he was breathless and he held a raven’s scroll in his shaking hand.

“What is it? What’s happened?” Robb shouted as he approached the Maester. From where Sansa was standing, she could see the writing was naught but scratch on the parchment. Whatever it was, it had been hastily written.

“Ser Gawen, Lady Erena.” The brother and sister looked at each other briefly before hurrying over to where Sansa stood near Robb and Luwin. “I’m so sorry.” Luwin tried to catch his breath, but he couldn’t. “It’s from your father.” He panted quietly. “They’ve taken it. The ironborn. They’ve taken Deepwood Motte.”