It’s almost time.” said Catelyn as she pulled the maiden cloak from the bag.
“I never thought I’d be playing this part. I still remember draping my cloak around your shoulders, Cat. Thinking of the responsibility of loving you and caring for you. Now, here I am draping a Stark cloak on my baby girl. I can’t imagine willingly entrusting her to another. My beautiful girl. I still remember holding you for the first time.”
“I’m not going anywhere. You are still my dad. I just need to find my own companion in life.”
Catelyn took Ned’s hand and kissed him on the cheek. He squeezed her hand. His eyes were deep grey and held back a stray tear. She turned back to Sansa to avoid her own tears.
“How do you think I feel? Sansa, you remember, I’m not old enough to be a grandmother.”
“Mom, please! How can you even go there? This is a social experiment. I don’t know how this is going to go. I’m just giving it my best shot. Who knows?”
“Ok focus.” reminded Catelyn, “The maiden cloak, come on Ned, help me. Sansa don’t move!”
“How can I move. I already have to stand straight to keep this crown on. Dad, don’t let me trip.”
“I’m always here to catch you. You look beautiful. Like a princess.”
Catelyn took the white, silver and grey brocade cloak off the padded hanger. She looked at Ned and took a deep breath. They each took a side of the cloak and draped it over Sansa’s shoulders. Ned took a deep breath too. He could see the tears beginning to well in Cat’s eyes.
There was an annoying knock on the door. “We go live in 4 minutes.”
One of the staffers knocked on the door and Jon felt a jolt go straight through him.
“Mr. Targaryen, when you are ready. We are beginning to stage.”
“See you in the Sept.” Jon leaned over and kissed Aunt Dany. “I’ll be the guy looking scared shitless.”
“You’ll be the most handsome man bun there. Ha… Didn’t know, I knew that, did you!”
“Let’s go my boy.” Said Davos putting his hand on Jon’s shoulder as they walked out of the door.
“Hey, what are we going to do with GoPro?”
“Keep it OFF and in my pocket. I’ll slip it to Edd later.”
“I still don’t see Jorah.”
They walked slowly down the paneled hallway hung with portraits of kings and queens from centuries past hoping not to see anyone. At least for a couple more minutes.
“Davos, I have to thank you.”
“For what Jon?”
“For always being around for me. For taking me fishing and teaching me how to sail, when I was a kid. Including me with your boys. For stepping up. I hardly remember my father. But, I remember you always being around. You’re here right now, where my father would be.”
“It has been my pleasure. My boys, all off in the Navy. An email, here and there. But you, Jon. You always come to me as if I could solve your problems. Trust. You always looked to me with such trust in your eyes, I………”
They emerged from the hallway and the sight of decorated Sept stunned them both. There was a profusion of yellow roses on the altar and yellow candles glowing golden beneath the Father and Mother as well as in every candelabra throughout the main room. Around all of the grandeur, were videographers on portable scaffolds and others standing at strategic angles to capture the ceremony and the families and friends. Much to their mutual displeasure there was a figure with a mic, who looked like a comedian warming up a live TV audience before the main event.
“Who????” began Jon, before he realized the answer. “That’s Tyrion Lannister!”
“You mean the historian?”
“Fuck, probably bragging about how his family rebuilt the Sept. It was his ancestor, Mad Queen Cersei that blew it up.”
“And it was one of your far flung ancestors that built it.”
Just then the music swelled into something baroque but unidentifiable. Jon looked at Davos with a skeptical smile.
“Go ahead, I’m just behind you.”
“Ladies and Gentleman, our groom, Jon Targaryen is entering the Sept.” announced Tyrion. “He is an investment banker with, of course, The Targaryen Bank of Westeros. He is the son of the late Rhaegar Targaryen of Dragonstone and the late Elia Martell of Dorne.
Something is Jon’s brain switched to autopilot and he began to walk down the aisle into the main Sept, not looking right or left, but straight ahead at Tyrion. Through the music, he realized that he heard Jorah’s voice. He was standing just behind the huge granite statue of The Father. And he was holding a garment bag. The music swelled again and Jon continued down the aisle, now focused on Jorah’s face. He winked at Jon. Jon walked up the steps to the statue, half turned facing the audience and at the same time searching Jorah’s face. Davos came up just behind Jon and turned to face forward trying to give Jorah a place to slide in behind him. They both hoped that the music would continue and Professor Lannister would not continue his color commentary introducing their pedigrees’ as well.
Tyrion began again into the mic.”We wish to thank the generosity of Daenerys Targaryen, CEO of The Targaryen Bank of Westeros for donating the services of the Orchestra of Westeros to all of our couples today.”
Jon whispered to Davos and Jorah. “This sounds like a commercial.”
“No, it was something she wanted to do. The commercial is Tyrion Lannister himself. Still trying to suck up after all these years. I think he’s spent his whole life trying to apologize for his ancestors.”
“So what about the cloak?”
“I had to pull some strings at the museum.”
“Yes, I realized there is an exhibit of ancient clothing that your Aunt had funded. It was a conservation, restoration and reproduction of clothing of the Targaryen Dynasty. So I borrowed a copy of Rhaella Targaryen’s wedding cloak for the ceremony.”
Jon breathed a sign of relief. “So I won’t have to marry Bat Girl.”
“No you won’t. But, I do have a plan for that cloak and some black lingerie after the reception. I believe I have a dragon to tame. I better go and escort your Aunt in before she begins breathing fire.”
Jorah slid the heavily embroidered black and red cloak out of its bag and handed it carefully to Davos. Jorah stepped back behind the statue and disappeared back to Aunt Dany. Davos draped it over his arm then checked his breast pocket for the rings. He patted his pocket.
“What did I tell you.” he whispered into Jon’s ear. “Trust.”
“I can’t believe we have to sit here and listen to Professor Impdick, tell us the whole history of Westeros.” raged Arya to Robb.
“Yeah, what is he doing here? It’s like a cross between a lecture and a circus. It must be part of the show. Look at all these camera people.” whispered Robb. “Sansa is going to kill you.”
“Hey, I didn’t have anything to do with this part. I never even though about this commotion.”
“Arya?” asked Rickon leaning over to her. “What’s an impdick?”
“Rickon, shut up! Forget, I even said that.” fumed Arya.
“I’ll explain it later.” whispered Bran, in hopes of shooshing Rickon’s barrage of questions that were about to explode. They all fidgeted in their seats in the front of the Sept waiting for something to happen. Then Tyrion Lannister introduced the groom as he and a companion walked hesitantly up the long aisle.
“Ha! He’s the guy carrying the tree!” laughed Robb.
“Targaryen, so that’s why the gifts were so extravagant.” concluded Arya. “At least he’s hot.”
“What’s Mom going to say? A Targaryen in the family?”
“Hope he has a sword, and knows how to use it.” joked Arya.
Jon watched as Aunt Dany emerged from the hallway on Jorah’s arm and they took their seats at the front. The music softened into simple piano. Everyone in the Sept looked up. Jon looked up. It was time.
Standing at the very beginning of the long aisle was a robust man in a deep charcoal grey tuxedo. Standing next to him was the most radiant young woman Jon had ever seen. The girl from the balcony! Jon watched as a director held up her hand, signaling for them to wait. The director seemed to be counting down. As the first cello joined the piano and the melody heightened into a clean theme, she signaled for them to proceed. They began to walk toward him slowly, almost flowing with the music. Behind them, was another red haired woman, fixing and fussing over the long white maiden’s cloak.
Sansa held tightly to her father’s arm as the director motioned for them to wait. She could feel her mother behind her pulling at the maiden cloak. Gods, mom. Sometimes you worry about the craziest things. You should be sitting with Robb, Arya and the boys. Why is this camera person staring me down? Is he going to walk backwards all the way up the aisle? In fact, why are there so many cameras? I hope I’m smiling! The Sept looks outrageous. I know Mom had something to do with all these roses. I wonder if she got me a lemon cake too? She so fooled me……. she and Arya in yellow dresses. Wonder how she accomplished that? She is a force of nature. Do I know this song? I’m not sure. It’s not Chasing Cars. Focus, focus. I think I can see him. If we could just move a few steps closer. Oh, no. Walk. Don’t let the crown fall off, please no. Ok, Ok. Just walk. It’s him. The guy from the balcony!
I bet she can’t see me up here. What’s she going to say, when she realizes I’m the guy from the balcony. Well, I’ll have to buy her another hairbrush. That hair. I wonder if she would let me brush it? Direwolves equal Starks. I wasn’t even thinking. Good thing I put the cufflinks on. Her father is Lord Eddard Stark, MP. This could be messy. Targaryens and Starks have a weird history. Lannister better not point that out. I’ll have to kick his ass as my first official act as a husband. Fuck. I wonder if she heard his intro? Probably not, she wasn’t in the Sept then. Shit! They’re getting closer. I can see the glint of the earrings Aunt Dany gave her. She’s smiling. I can’t see the key though because of her maiden cloak. She’s glowing. And those blue eyes. Blue like the clearest sky. She’s smiling and glowing. Thank the gods, Jorah found something a bit more suitable. I can’t see her in that dragon cloak. At least this one is an heirloom of sorts. They’re Northerners. Big on traditions. It should be appropriate. Slow down and breathe. She is fucking profound. Davos said trust. Alright, I trust that she won’t run screaming back down the aisle.
It’s him. His eyes are so grey. He looks nervous. But, he’s smiling. That’s a good sign. I wonder how I look to him? Why did his family give me such lavish gifts? What if he’s really an asshole and they’re trying to bribe me? No, he was so nice on the balcony. Even offered to go get my brush. What was his love life like? He’s quite handsome. Bet he’s had girls all over him. Getting closer. Closer. If he’s doing this, he must have had some heartbreak, some terrible experience. Unless someone volunteered him. But, he’s here so…..
Sansa and her father finally reached the steps to the altar. The music stopped and she could hear the High Septon intoning a prayer. She didn’t hear a word. She couldn’t take her eyes off Jon. Standing there, in front of the statue of The Father, looking like he just walked out of an Esquire photo shoot. His eyes were warm, yet appraising. His smile magnificent. She squeezed her father’s arm and turned to kiss his cheek. She looked back to him. Their gazes locked. She knew she would go to him. He held his hand out to her. She took a deep breath and stepped toward her future.
Jon felt frozen in place. She was a princess. He didn’t know how to describe her any other way. The white and silver lace ball gown peaking just beneath her maiden’s cloak. The crown of silver roses in her magnificent red hair. She was blushing and sweetly kissed her father. He hoped that he wasn’t just staring at her with his mouth agape. When she turned back to him, her blue, blue, sparkling blue eyes met his. She beamed at him. Jon moved forward to receive her from her father. As she stepped forward, Jon stepped toward her. Their hands touched, fingertips first, then he enclosed her hand in his. He had no intention of letting go.
Cameras clicked around them. Videographers positioned themselves on each side and there were more at the top of the altar on either side of the High Septon. When their eyes met and their hands clasped, all of the world dissolved. Jon only saw his bride. His princess. Sansa only saw her husband to be, her Prince Charming. They started up the stairs together. Davos followed discretely behind with the Targaryen cloak. It was happening.
“Hi again.” she whispered. “I’m Sansa.”
“Jon, I’m Jon…. Sansa,” he whispered using her name of the first time, “ you take my breath away.”
“Keep breathing, please.” Sansa continued squeezing his hand. “I was planning on marrying you.”
“Good, I was planning on marrying you too.”
They continued to climb the stairs to the top of the altar of The Seven, the videographers following their every step. One more step. Jon nodded to Sansa. She winked back. They stepped up together to face the High Septon.
“Welcome all to the wedding of Jon and Sansa.” began the High Septon. “We will begin with the traditional cloaking ceremony. Jon, you may now cloak your bride and bring her under your protection.”
Jon reluctantly let go of Sansa’s hand. Sansa undid the silver direwolf clasp and allowed the cloak to drape softly on her shoulders. Jon saw the glint of the diamond key around her neck. Davos had stepped up to Jon’s side and held the black and red brocade and jeweled cloak toward him. Jon turned to Davos and then back to Sansa questioning how to proceed?
“Take her cloak, go ahead.” prompted the High Septon.
Jon looked at the High Septon and then back to Sansa. They could feel the digital eyes on them as they both fumbled. It felt like minutes passed. Finally, Sansa turned her back to Jon, so he could remove her maiden cloak. Jon gently lifted it from her shoulders and then turned and gave it to Davos who in turn handed him the heavy Targaryen cloak. Sansa had turned to face him again, so Jon walked around her and unfolded the thick fabric and with both hands encircled her in the weighty cloak.
“Thanks.” he whispered, his lips grazing her hair.
“Family and friends, we stand here in the sight of the Gods and loved ones to witness the union of man and wife. One flesh, one heart, one soul. Now and forever.” intoned the High Septon. “Now in the modern tradition, the couple will exchange rings.”
Jon turned to Davos who handed him the two rings. Jon was amazed that Sansa was still standing before him wearing the cloak. She glanced at his hands. They were trembling. He was trying to figure out which hand to hold two wedding bands in. He finally grasped them tightly in his right hand.
“There are two rings. Is that alright?” Jon asked. “May I?”
She nodded her ascent and extended her left hand toward him. He took her hand. He was so nervous. Sansa’s hand shook a bit and then stilled at his touch. Someone dropped a boom mic over their heads intent on getting every word.
“I want you to have a symbol of our union and my promise to love and protect you that you can wear always. I will keep you to my heart and hold you to my soul. I will let nothing of you go, ever.” Jon said as he slid the white and yellow gold and diamond band onto her finger.
Jon then handed Sansa a simple white and yellow gold band. One of the cameramen leaned intrusively over her to get a close up of their hands. She turned and glared at him and he backed off. She took Jon’s left hand and slid the ring onto his finger.
“I want you to wear this ring always as a symbol of the loving bond we are creating. I accept your protection as my husband. You will become my heart and I will hold your precious soul to mine for eternity.”
The two stood silently appraising each other. Both surprised by the words they had just spoken to each other. They had not been told to write vows to each other as that wasn’t part of the traditional ritual. The High Septon reached forward and took their left hands, placing Jon’s hand under Sansa’s in a further symbol of protection. He produced a yellow ribbon from his robe and began to bind their hands together and tie them in a knot on top.
Again he began to speak the ancient words. “Let it be known that Sansa of House Stark and Jon of House Targaryen are one heart, one flesh, one soul. Cursed be he who would seek to tear them asunder. In the sight of The Seven, I hereby seal these two souls, binding them as one for eternity.” The Septon then untied the ribbon and placed it on the altar. He looked at them both. “Look upon each other and say the words.”
Sansa and Jon took deep breaths and intertwined their fingers as they both spoke them together. “Father, Smith, Warrior, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Stranger. I am hers and she is mine. I am his and he is mine.” Their separate voices mingling. “From this day, until the end of my days.”
They both paused for a moment and then Jon spoke triumphantly. “With this kiss, I pledge my love.” He drew Sansa even more closely to him and kissed her. “I’ve been waiting for this part.”
“So have I!” She replied and returned his kiss.
They could feel the videographers hovering and jostling each other for the best angle, but they didn’t care. However, propriety and thoughts of their families watching, did catch them. Jon and Sansa turned and faced their gathered loved ones, hand in hand. Applause filled the Sept. The live TV audience went wild. The orchestra began to play Beethoven’s Ode to Joy as they walked down the steps. Sansa raised her skirts with her free hand and he realized for the first time that her shoes were pale yellow. When they got to the bottom of the stairs, the guests remained in their places applauding, cameras clicked and flashed. Jon and Sansa proceeded down the aisle, videographers following their every move, but it didn’t matter.