Jon pressed kisses into his son’s bright red curls while Sansa surveyed the sky with arms folded. She watched the dragon fly lazy arcs around the perimeter of the castle and then dip suddenly into the Godswood. The dragon reappeared with a small creature in its mouth which was tossed into the air before being blasted with fire and eaten in a single gulp. She turned to Jon with a look of skepticism.
“Can you assure me that our son will not become that creature’s next meal?” she demanded hotly.
Jon stroked Torrhen’s pink cheek with his thumb.
“It’s not a puppet, Sansa”, he replied with a note of irritation in his voice. “I can’t just pull its strings and have it dance to my tune”.
Sansa glared at him.
“I assure you that the dragon is no longer a threat to us and our people”, he said with a deep sigh and a look of contrition. “The dragon has cleaved unto me and my own so that it will be instrumental to our cause”.
Then he shifted the baby into the crook of one arm so that he could pull her closer.
“We need to continue keeping faith”, he added softly. “Please bear in mind that much of what the priestess saw in the fires has already come to pass”.
Sansa snorted. The red woman, she thought, should have died with Stannis. Instead she lives to fill my husband’s head with foolish notions of prophecy and destiny.
“It cannot stay here. The chickens will not lay and the mothers refuse to allow their children outside when it is near”, said Sansa vehemently.
Jon nodded in agreement.
“There is a suitable cave a few hours ride from here that is linked to the underground stream that feeds the hot springs. Ghost and I will accompany it there this afternoon”, he replied.
They set out just after midday with Jon riding his favorite grey mare and Ghost kicking up powdery snow as he galloped alongside. The dragon kept in range, flying barely above the treetops in order to keep an eye out for a quick meal.
By nightfall they still had not returned. As she settled her son to sleep in the nursery for the night, Sansa tried to ignore the feeling of anxiety that was swelling inside of her. Jon is more than capable of defending himself, she reasoned to herself, especially with a dragon and a direwolf at his side.
Sansa retired to her solar to finish some mending but soon grew restless. She stood on the battlement searching for signs of her husband’s return. Her patience was rewarded when a white furry creature burst from among the trees. Ghost had returned so that meant that Jon must be close behind.
She heard voices beyond the castle walls and the challenge issued by the sentry on duty at the main gate. Voices, thought Sansa… Jon is not alone. Seconds later Jon appeared silhouetted against the moonlit snow, leading a small group of stragglers. Sansa slipped down the steps to greet them as they entered through the gate.
As his horse was led to the stable, Jon turned to Sansa.
“I brought back reinforcements”, he explained gesturing to the bedraggled band of men, women and children. Then he issued orders to his men to take the newcomers to the kitchen for food and drink. As they were led away Sansa grabbed his hand.
“Who are they?” she asked.
“Refugees from the Gift”, replied Jon grimly. “It is now completely overrun with wights. Many of the free folk have crowded into the fortresses that lined what used to be the Wall. But provisions are low and they will starve to death eventually if the wights don’t kill them first. Others have fled into the mountains or to Last Hearth. And they say it is just a matter of time before an army of wights and their masters descend on Winterfell”.
As the free folk wolfed down the meager supper set out before them, Jon and Sansa circulated amongst them to listen to their stories. Each tale was more horrific than the last and hearing them curdled their stomachs and left a sour taste in their mouths.
As Jon did his rounds before retiring for the night, Sansa issued instructions to have beds made up for the newcomers. Then she bid them goodnight before joining Jon in his solar. Sam was already there with some messages recently arrived via ravens.
‘It’s not good news, Jon”, said Sam in a quavering voice. “An army of wights that grows every day marches south…an army that requires neither sleep nor sustenance. The only thing that could possibly slow it down is a fierce winter storm”.
“Then let us pray for bad weather”, muttered Jon as he stoked the fire in the hearth.
“We can’t wait any longer, Jon”, Sansa blurted out. “We suspected that one dragon wouldn’t be enough and now it is clear. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for her to decide when to come to us so we are going to have to go to her”.
Jon nodded and Sam looked at both of them with a look of incredulity on his face. His mouth opened and closed silently before he finally spoke.
“Sansa, what…what are you saying?” Sam stuttered.
Sansa laid a hand on Sam’s shoulder and looked directly into his eyes so that the meaning of her words would be fully understood.
“Jon is going to ride Viserion across the sea to Meereen where Daenerys Targaryen currently resides as its ruler. And he is going to have to convince her to bring her dragons to the north now or we are all going to die”.
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