Sansa closed her eyes and licked her lips as she leaned back against the pillows which were piled high against the headboard. She was dimly aware of the others in the room…Sam’s low tenor voice and the higher ones of the midwife and the midwife’s daughter.
She felt a sympathetic lick on her hand as it dangled over the side of the bed.
“Good boy”, she murmured as she patted Ghost’s head.
The midwife’s daughter wrung out the washcloth in the basin of cool water and daubed it gently over Sansa’s slick forehead. Then she smoothed back the wet tendrils of Sansa’s hair.
Sansa opened her eyes.
“Thank you”, she whispered. The woman smiled and dipped her head.
“You’re so close, Sansa”, said Sam enthusiastically as he clasped her hand in his own.
The midwife peered between Sansa’s legs with a look of intense concentration.
“One more push should do it…she is almost crowning”, she observed.
Sansa could feel the intolerable pain once again intensifying in her back and belly. She let out a strangled cry as she began to bear down and push with what little strength she had left. She dug her fingernails into the palm of Sam’s hand, her face twisted in agony.
The midwife looked up at Sansa.
“Give me your hand, milady”, she called out in excitement.
Sansa gritted her teeth and reached out. The midwife placed Sansa’s hand on the top of the baby’s head just as she was emerging. The top of her daughter’s head felt soft and slightly alien. And then, as the midwife caught the baby and held her up for her mother to see her, Sansa shed happy tears for the wondrous miracle of birth.
The midwife swiftly cleaned up the squalling bundle and wrapped her in a soft blanket before placing her in her mother’s arms. Sam sat on the edge of the bed and prodded the baby’s small fist.
The midwife then plunged her hands in the basin and washed them vigorously.
“She’s a wee bit small, milady, due to her being a few weeks early”, she commented as she dried her hands on a clean cloth. “But, she has all her fingers and toes. And her lungs seem to be working just fine”.
“She’s perfect”, said Sansa as she kissed her daughter.
Sam beamed at them both.
“Have you decided on a name?” he asked.
Sansa smiled and cooed as the baby gripped her mother’s finger.
“Lyra”, she replied. “Jon and I settled on it before he left”.
“A nice northern name”, said Sam with approval.
The midwife produced a small, sharp knife to cut the cord and then waited patiently for Sansa to deliver the afterbirth.
When her sleeping daughter had been placed in the cradle next to her bedside, Sansa rolled over and closed her eyes.
As she dozed lightly, fragments of memories formed her dreams. She dreamt of the time when Jon had been brought back to Winterfell, when the fever that raged inside of him threatened to consume him. No amount of cooling baths was helping to dowse the fire that burned within.
“The water is not cold enough, Sansa”, said Sam. “I swear he warms it up the longer he remains immersed in it”.
Sansa was silent as she desperately tried to find a solution.
“The pond in the center of the godswood”, she began, “Father always said it was very deep, dark and cold. We were forbidden to swim in it as children because Mother was convinced it was too dangerous”.
“I’ll take him there”, he replied.
Sansa grabbed his arm.
“I’m coming with you”, she said firmly.
They mustered a group of men to carry Jon to the godswood. As they lowered him to the ground, Sam began removing his boots.
“What are you doing?” asked Sansa.
“Somebody has to go in the water with him to make sure he doesn’t roll over and drown”, replied Sam as he began to pull his tunic over his head.
Sansa grabbed the hem of his tunic and held fast.
“I’ll go in the water with him”, she said.
Sam opened his mouth in protest.
“Sansa, it should be me…I’m his brother”, he argued.
Sansa began to shed her shoes and gown.
“But I’m his blood”, she replied, shivering as she waded into the frigid water.
She took hold of him as he was lowered into the pond.
“How long?” she asked, her teeth chattering and her lips turning blue.
Sam looked at her helplessly.
“As long as you both can stand it”, he answered.
She scooped up some water and poured it over his head. She uttered a silent prayer as she continued to bathe him in the icy water, stopping only when she saw his eyelashes begin to flutter. Then he opened his eyes.
“Sansa?” he asked weakly.
She pressed her lips against his forehead which no longer felt so fiery hot.
“You have a serious infection, Jon”, she whispered. “We needed to bring the fever down before it killed you”.
He reached up to grab her hand.
“Sansa”, he gasped, “can we get out of the water now? It’s bloody cold”.
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