AFFC – SANSA I
The chapter begins with Sansa noting ironically that there was a time in her childhood when she would have done anything for singers to come to Winterfell and play songs for her, but now she cannot stand to hear Marillion’s constant singing at night.
But that was when she little girl, and foolish. She was a maiden now, three-and-ten and flowered. All her nights were full of song, and by day she prayed for silence.
Due to the sky cells being in the open air, Marillion’s singing can be heard throughout the entire castle:
He sang of the Dance of the Dragons, of fair Jonquil and her fool, of Jenny of Oldstones and the Prince of Dragonflies. He sang of betrayals and murders most foul, of hanged men and bloody vengeance. He sang of grief and sadness.
Sansa is disturbed by the music, and remembers that although Marillion’s voice may sound rich and sweet, he is a wicked man who tried to rape her and played music to drown out her cries when Lysa tried to kill her. She asks Petyr to make him stop, but he claims that he has given the singer his word, and tells Sansa it will soon be over because Lord Nestor Royce is coming to the Eyrie the next day. Sansa is alarmed by the possibility that Lord Nestor will see Marillion and learn the truth, but LF has no such qualms:
“On the contrary, I shall insist on it.” He beckoned her to take the seat beside him. “We have come to an agreement, Marillion and I. Mord can be most persuasive. And if our singer disappoints us and sings a song we do not care to hear, why, you and I need only say he lies. Whom do you imagine Lord Nestor will believe?”
“Us?” Sansa wished she could be more certain.
“Of course. Our lies will profit him.
LF goes on to reassure Sansa that he will not let Lord Nestor harm his “daughter” but Sansa thinks:
I am not your daughter… I am Sansa Stark, Lord Eddard’s and Lady Catelyn’s, the blood of Winterfell. She did not say it, though. If not for Petyr Baelish it would have been Sansa who went spinning through a cold blue sky to a stony death six hundred feet below, instead of Lysa Arryn. He is so bold. Sansa wished she had his courage. She wanted to crawl back into bed and hide beneath the blanket, to sleep and sleep. She had not slept a whole night through since Lysa Arryn’s death.
LF then proceeds to coach Sansa on how she must behave when Lord Nestor visits. He tells her that her fear will not make her look guilty and that she has her mother’s eyes, honest and innocent. He tells her that she needs only to tell Lord Nestor the same tale she told Lord Robert.
Robert is only a sickly boy, she thought, Lord Nestor is a man grown, stern and suspicious. Robert was not strong and had to be protected, even from the truth. “Some lies are love,” Petyr had assured her.
Sansa realizes that LF is serving her lies as well, but thinks:
They were comforting lies, though, and she thought them kindly meant. A lie is not so bad if it is kindly meant. If only she believed them…
She remembers the things her aunt told her before she died and is still troubled by them, although Petyr tries to dismiss them as the ravings of a man woman. She thinks that Petyr must at least love her because he saved her, but:
He saved Alayne, his daughter, a voice within her whispered. But she was Sansa too … and sometimes it seemed to her that the Lord Protector was two people as well. He was Peytr, her protector, warm and funny and gentle … but he was also Littlefinger, the lord she’d known at King’s Landing, smiling shyly and stroking his beard as he whispered in Queen Cersei’s ear. And Littlefinger was no friend of hers. When Joff had her beaten, the Imp defended her, not Littlefinger. When the mob sought to rape her, the Hound carried her to safety, not Littlefinger. When the Lannisters wed her to Tyrion against he will, Ser Garlan the Gallant gave her comfort, not Littlefinger. Littlefinger never lifted so much as his little finger for her.
Except to get me out. He did that for me. I thought it was Ser Dontos, my poor drunken Florian, but it was Petyr all the while. Littlefinger was only a mask he had to wear. Only sometimes Sansa found it hard to tell where the man ended and the mask began. Littlefinger and Lord Petyr looked so very much alike. She would have fled them both, perhaps, but there was nowhere for her to go. Winterfell was burned and desolate, Bran and Rickon dead and cold, Robb had been betrayed and murdered at the Twins, along with their lady mother. Tyrion had been put to death for killing Joffrey, and if she ever returned to King’s Landing the queen would have her head as well. The aunt she’d hoped would keep her safe had tried to murder her instead. Her uncle Edmure was a captive of the Freys, while her great-uncle the Blackfish was under siege at Riverrun. I have no place but here, Sansa thought miserably, and no true friend but Petyr.
Later that night she hears Marillion singing again, but this time hardens her heart against pity. She thinks that one has to tell lies sometimes to survive and that this is what she did in King’s Landing to avoid being beaten bloody by the Kingsguard. Lord Nestor arrives the next day and Sansa has to help get Robert ready. We learn that Robert has been accustomed to coming to Sansa’s bed at night which she doesn’t like because he tries to nuzzle her breasts and can wet the bed when he has a shaking fit. She cleans him up as best as she can and takes him down to sit in the High Hall to receive the guests.
The High Hall had been closed since Lady Lysa’s fall since Lady Lysa’s fall, and it gave Sansa a chill to enter it again. The hall was long and grand and beautiful, she supposed, but she did not like it here. It was a pale cold place at the best of times. The slender pillars looked like fingerbones, and the blue veins in the white marble brought to mind the veins in an old crone eyes.
Sansa nervously recites her story to Lord Nestor and the other men he has brought with him. During her testimony a tear rolls down her cheek and she thinks, “that’s good, a tear is good.” Hearing the story again causes Robert to go into another fit and he has to be removed by Lothor Brune and Maester Coleman. The lords believe Sansa’s story, strengthened by their own dislike of Marillion. The singer is brought up from the dungeons and confesses his guilt to the Lords.
Sansa describes him looking almost elegant in constrast to Mord:
Someone had bathed him and dressed him in a pair of sky-blue breeches and a loose fitting white tunic with puff sleeves, belted with a silvery sash that had been a gift from Lady Lysa. White silk gloves covered his hands, while a white silk bandage spared the lords the sight of his eyes… Sansa stared at his hands while he spoke. Fat Maddy claimed that Mord had taken off three of his fingers, both pinkies and a ring finger. His little fingers did appear somewhat stiffer than the others, but with those gloves it was hard to be certain. It might have been no more than a story. How would Maddy know?
After Marillion is taken back to the sky cells, LF meets with Nestor Royce in private. Nestor informs him that he’s going to face more questions from the other Lords, in particular Lyn Corbray, whom Royce describes as a dangerous man. LF states that there is nothing he can do but receive them graciously when the time comes. He then takes out a parchment and proceeds to tell Nestor that Lady Lysa held him in high esteem and had made plans for him to become Keeper of the Gates of the Moon, but died before she could sign the document. LF has signed in her place as Lord Protector. After Nestor leaves, LF begins to explain to Sansa why his strategy worked. Sansa is able to figure out the significance of LF’s actions:
“The signature … you might have had Lord Robert put his hand and seal to it, but instead…”
“… I signed myself, as Lord Protector. Why?”
“So … if you are removed, or … or killed…”
“… Lord Nestor’s claim to the Gates will suddenly be called into question. I promise you, that is not lost on him. It was clever of you to see it. Though no more than I’d expect of mine own daughter.”
“Thank you.” She felt absurdly proud for puzzling it out…
Petyr goes on to caution her that she must always pretend to be his daughter, even when in private, in case a servant overhears something:
Do you want more blood on your pretty little hands, my darling?”
Marillion’s face seemed to float before her, the bandage pale across his eyes. Behind him she could see Ser Dontos, the crossbow bolts still in him. “No,” Sansa said. “Please.”
I am tempted to say this is no game we play, daughter, but of course it is. The game of thrones.”
I never asked to play. The game was too dangerous. One slip and I am dead.
LF tells her that she can trust no one, and that he once told this to Ned but he didn’t listen. He places two fingers on her left breast, telling her that she must be Alayne “all the time,” even in her heart.
“Can you do that? Can you be my daughter in your heart?”
“I …” I do not know, my lord, she almost said, but that was not what he wanted to hear. Lies and arbor gold, she thought. “I am Alayne, Father. Who else would I be?”
Later in the night, Sweetrobin comes to her bed, and questions if she is his mother now.
“I suppose I am,” she said. If a lie was kindly meant, there was no harm in it.