At the airport yesterday, my family and I were caught up in a whirlwind of paparazzi chasing after actress Jennifer Lawrence.As they ran after her, trying to get their perfect shot, they managed to knock my nine-year-old-daughter over her luggage.
She fell over her bag and looked up in shock, trying to understand what had just happened.The only one who seemed to notice was Jennifer herself, and she knelt down to check on my daughter.
The paparazzi were completely unconcerned by any destruction they may have caused but were grateful to have Jennifer stop to talk to my little girl so that they could continue to snap away.
After dropping off our bags, we made our way to the lounge, where Jennifer was once again waiting to get on the same flight as us.
As we sat down, my daughter made her way over to ask if she too might get a picture with her. Jennifer graciously agreed, and my daughter was thrilled with the encounter.
I watched this interaction with discomfort. Our fixation with celebrities and our hope for their reflected glory is a sad fact in our culture.
Suddenly we were now mini-celebrities. As word of the incident spread, people wanted to hear the story from us. The fact that somehow celebrity might be contagious, that it might in some way make us more important to our friends and family, is a seductive illusion.
As a concerned mother, I watched as my daughter got swept away into our celebrity-obsessed world. My nine-year-old girl had put this woman on a pedestal simply because of her fame—not because of any specific accomplishment.
As a parent, I feel it is my job to develop my kids’ sense of self worth, confidence and inner pride, which should be based upon their inherent characteristics and sense of self, as well as their hard work and accomplishments—things that took time, perseverance and determination to achieve.
I would like my kids’ sense of pride to be grounded in who they are on the inside, not how they look in the mirror. Looks will fade, but our inner beauty and the traits that make us who we are will always be with us.
I wanted to tell my daughter: “If you want to admire Jennifer Lawrence, do it because she showed kindness and empathy, not simply because she is famous.” A person can be famous as well as kind and compassionate, but being famous doesn’t always mean that a person deserves to be admired. In this case, Jennifer Lawrence proved to us that she is as beautiful on the inside as on the outside.
Lake Retba in Senegal
The bizarre colour is caused by high levels of salt - with some areas containing up to 40% of the condiment.
Michael Danson, an expert in extremophile bacteria from Bath University, said: “The strawberry colour is produced by salt-loving organism Dunaliella salina.
“They produce a red pigment that absorbs and uses the energy of sunlight to create more energy, turning the water pink.
“Lakes like Retba and the Dead Sea, which have high salt concentrations, were once thought to be incompatible with life - hence the names. But they are very much alive.”
here’s to the ladies who get pushed aside, who aren’t wielding swords and words and even femininity like weapons of war, who are rarely the protagonists and more rarely the antagonists and even more rarely noticed at all. here’s to the girls that fandom prefers to ignore, who aren’t celebrated like their equally excellent peers but sit on the sidelines, who can also be selfish or petty or mean but also kind and quiet and understanding. here’s to the girls who believe in fairy tales and freedom and watching from the sidelines, who endure abuse and worse as patriarchal narratives see them as plot instead of characters, foils instead of people. here’s to the ladies who are called “whiny” and “passive” and “boring” for watching the story play out and getting swept up in it because they don’t have the ability or even the drive to be the ones calling the shots. here’s to the rival love interests, to the observant children, to the women killed off before they have a chance to shine. here’s to the ones reviled for loving someone they shouldn’t or sacrificing more than they should. here’s to the ladies out there who are never called special or stanned or remembered by more than a few.
here’s to the ladies who are rarely your favorites but who have stories- all rich, most untold- all the same.
This is what we need reported more in the media-positive stories
“It’s amazing that Brittany and Santana still have love for each other and they’re not awkward like Rachel and Finn.”- Naya Rivera
“Well, when we were in New Directions we had like six-hour dance rehearsals. It was very rigid. Now they’re literally just running around with balloons.”
naya telling how it is rivera
A Time for Wolves - The Case for Jon and Sansa
The idea of Jon and Sansa as romantic pairing might sound absurd but I think it is actually far from unlikely.
The heart of it is quite simple to explain: ASOIAF is not and never will be easy on the readers. So even a positive resolution will eschew looking like a happy ending at every cost. And Jon/Sansa as the endgame will be everything but easy to the readers.
Working on the assumption here that most of the readers wish these two characters well - wishing them the best possible happy ending that their world can realistically provide, perhaps even wishing that they’ll get what they desire in life - I’ve come to believe that Jon/Sansa has the potential to provide everyone with everything they want, except the “best” possible happy ending. But given a not even particularly specific set of circumstances it could be very easily be the “least terrible.”
And that is why I think Jon/Sansa stands a pretty good chance of happening.
There are some pre-conditions for Jon/Sansa (the aforementioned circumstances) all of them super-obvious, all of them ultimately speculative - like them being alive. It would also help for them to be single, available, in the same place at the same time - and the second greatest conjecture of all (after them being alive) - R+L=J not just being true but also being known around Westeros.
But once that’s the case, Jon/Sansa will look like a great idea to nearly everyone in the story while being a completely unforeseen turn of events to the readers. It’s surprising yet obvious - the definition of a good plot twist.
But then surprising but obvious is very much the modus operandi for Jon and Sansa in relation to each other.
Because, just as surprisingly, they are fairly similar characters. Disguised by the fact that they face vastly different challenges, these challenges reveal similar character arcs, similar characteristics and even similar wants and desires. They are in many way two sides of the same coin.
They start out in the same place, not just geographically, but psychologically. They both believe in the songs, in the heroes of those songs, and that life is just waiting to make Aemon the Dragonknight (Jon) or his lady love, Queen Naerys, (in the case of Sansa) out them.
And as they go in opposite directions geographically, they undergo the same disillusioning journey as they are soon forced to face the same harsh reality. And from there on their journeys partially become the mirror images of each other: Sansa goes from Lady Stark to Lady Lannister to bastard (which she models to some degree after Jon) while simultaneously Jon goes from Jon Snow to Jon Stark (according to Robb‘s will, even if Jon doesn‘t know it yet) to Lord Commander.
But other parts of those journeys aren’t even mirrored but completely similar. Sansa has to pretend she wants nothing to do with her previous life while being a prisoner in King’s Landing and Jon has to do exactly the same while being with the wildlings. “Fake it ‘till you make it” seems also the motto that accompanies them on their journeys with Jon being tempted to stay with the wildlings and Sansa trying to actively forget that she isn’t Alayne Stone.
But as all of this happens, as they are both forced to lose their idealism to deal with choices that puts them between rocks and hard places, as they have to grieve for their family, as they even try to become other people, they both still cling to the concept of justice, of fairness, of doing the right thing, of erring on the side of compassion. They both try and sometimes fail to remain decent people.
Jon’s acts of decency are active and often easily supported by rational argument, like letting the wildlings in and saving Gilly’s child.
Sansa, being condemned to passivity by her situation, cannot often be active with whatever she is doing (saving Dontos is the rare exception) and thus the generosity of her passive actions seems to want to make up for it. In a seemingly self-negating, saintly way she even prays for her enemies:
Sansa knew most of the hymns, and followed along on those she did not know as best she could. She sang along with grizzled old serving men and anxious young wives, with serving girls and soldiers, cooks and falconers, knights and knaves, squires and spit boys and nursing mothers. She sang with those inside the castle walls and those without, sang with all the city. She sang for mercy, for the living and the dead alike, for Bran and Rickon and Robb, for her sister Arya and her bastard brother Jon Snow, away off on the Wall. She sang for her mother and her father, for her grandfather Lord Hoster and her uncle Edmure Tully, for her friend Jeyne Poole, for old drunken King Robert, for Septa Mordane and Ser Dontos and Jory Cassel and Maester Luwin, for all the brave knights and soldiers who would die today, and for the children and the wives who would mourn them, and finally, toward the end, she even sang for Tyrion the Imp and for the Hound.
(Compare that prayer to one of Arya’s lists which are all about who she’s gonna murder and you get an idea of how outrageous her it is.)
But Sansa’s list of people she prays for during the Battle of Blackwater isn’t as super-forgiving as it looks. Suspiciously missing are Cersei, Joffrey, most of the Kingsguard, and other assorted, certified douchebags. Because Sansa is sensible enough to not forgive those who have harmed her. Her generous compassion becomes a problem for her because she isn’t very often correct in her assessment of people. Just like Jon (Bowen Marsh being a case in point.)
That doesn’t mean they are saints by any stretch of imagination. They are both flawed, naive, still, to some degree, selfish, short-sighted and selectively blind.
Both have repeatedly trusted the wrong people and probably for the same reason - life has killed their idealism but not their predisposition to see the good in people. Or to just passively accepting the bad and getting hurt for it.
It’s not necessarily that they’re overly trusting, it’s just that they have been both wrong on memorable occasions to believe that certain people wouldn’t actively harm them. (They also have been right on that account though.) But that baseline trust/selective blindness is the reason why Sansa is wanted for regicide, Tyrion‘s wife, and Littlefinger‘s bastard daughter instead of chilling with Willas Tyrell in Highgarden, while Jon is chilling with a few knives in his back.
Of course, being similar people doesn’t make them likely to happen or anything. It’s an interesting factoid that makes it easier to explain why them being with each other might not be worst of ideas, character-wise, but it’s not decisive. What is decisive is that is the perfect ironic twist, that it’s “be careful what you wish for” for Sansa, for Jon, for the audience.
“Everything you want, in the worst possible way.” This is an extremely important element of good storytelling, and I find myself surprised I haven’t talked about it before. Giving the audience everything they want, while stabbing them in the eyes at the same time, […is] one of our storytelling staples…” - Jane Espenson
Sansa, the eleven-year old dreamer, who wished to be part of a song, wished for a valiant knight to make her his lady love, idealized Aemon the Dragonknight’s love affair with Queen Naerys (making it a fairy tale when it very likely wasn’t) wished for all that and defined all these idealized men as heroes.
What Jon will be like near the end of the series - if R+L=J is real and merely a quarter of the fandom’s predictions regarding Jon’s fate come true - is absolutely everything eleven-year old Sansa wanted. And Jon’s “song” will make Aemon the Dragonknight’s look like child’s play. He will literally the hero from the song.
We, the audience, know the dirty, depressing reality behind that song and so will every character in the books, but this “song” removed from that reality as it will be in Westeros a few generations down the line, has all the markings of a fairy tale - Cinderella and King Arthur all rolled up in one.
So Jon could be absolutely everything eleven-year old Sansa once wanted. Valiant knight, hero, and even in a way the prince from a fairy tale.
And then he wouldn’t just fit naive Sansa’s idea of a hero but also disillusioned Sansa’s (the one she thinks leaves the world without heroes.) And there is not and never will be a single other character in ASOIAF who can do the same:
Frog-faced Lord Slynt sat at the end of the council table wearing a black velvet doublet and a shiny cloth-of-gold cape, nodding with approval every time the king pronounced a sentence. Sansa stared hard at his ugly face, remembering how he had thrown down her father for Ser Ilyn to behead, wishing she could hurt him, wishing that some hero would throw him down and cut off his head. But a voice inside her whispered, There are no heroes…
“I will not hang him,” said Jon. “Bring him here.” “Oh, Seven save us,” he heard Bowen Marsh cry out. The smile that Lord Janos Slynt smiled then had all the sweetness of rancid butter. Until Jon said, “Edd, fetch me a block,” and unsheathed Longclaw.
(I’m not saying that Sansa cannot adjust her definition of hero again. But right now, Jon is Sansa’s only hero.)
But just like getting that pony when you’re 80 that you wished for when you were 8 is completely not what you want anymore, getting Jon, despite being all Sansa has ever wished for in a husband, might not going to be a dream come true for Sansa.
First of all, she has moved beyond fairy tales. Second, even more obviously - what will look like a fairy tale a few generations down the line, is ugly, drenched in blood and takes place on a continent that will be ruined by an endless war and The Others. The reader might be aware that Sansa’s childish dreams have come true but Sansa won’t probably even remember what being a child was like.
Same goes for Jon’s not-so-childish dreams. Of course, on the surface, the only thing that Sansa has that he has ever shown interest in is red hair, but a closer look at his fantasy about Val and lording over Winterfell, is pretty revealing:
I would need to steal her if I wanted her love, but she might give me children. I might someday hold a son of my own blood in my arms. A son was something Jon Snow had never dared dream of, since he decided to live his life on the Wall. I could name him Robb. Val would want to keep her sister’s son, but we could foster him at Winterfell, and Gilly’s boy as well. Sam would never need to tell his lie. We’d find a place for Gilly too, and Sam could come visit her once a year or so. Mance’s son and Craster’s would grow up brothers, as I once did with Robb.
He wanted it, Jon knew then. He wanted it as much as he had ever wanted anything. I have always wanted it, he thought, guiltily.
It’s a pretty picture he paints here but what doesn’t really feature is Val, as we and Jon know her. Jon dreams pretty blatantly about recreating the Winterfell of his childhood, with the wildling children taking his place, his son taking Robb’s place and he himself becoming Ned. But he doesn’t dream about a wildling princess who walks 500 miles uphill through Other-infested territory, a warrior queen, or even a mother of dragons here. The space for the imaginary Mrs. Snow is entirely shaped by Catelyn (the only mother Jon has ever known), and how he wishes Catelyn would have been.
He imagines Val primarily as a mother and caregiver. Romantic love is a side-effect and not one Jon even appears to desire, describing stealing Val to be loved by her in a way that seems like it is too much of an effort. Her heroics, her independence, her qualities as anything but a mother never get a place in Jon’s fantasies.
And ironically, as Jon disregards Val’s personality in order to make his fantasy work, his fantasy is shared by hardly any female character whose point of view we have seen. (Westerosi girls are action girls.) The dream of quiet domesticity is something that we’ve seen only one character seriously fantasizing about as a possible and desirable future:
She pictured the two of them sitting together in a garden with puppies in their laps, or listening to a singer strum upon a lute while they floated down the Mander on a pleasure barge. If I give him sons, he may come to love me. She would name them Eddard and Brandon and Rickon, and raise them all to be as valiant as Ser Loras. And to hate Lannisters, too. In Sansa’s dreams, her children looked just like the brothers she had lost. Sometimes there was even a girl who looked like Arya.
Sansa’s fantasy about Willas Tyrell is truly the missing half of Jon’s fantasy. They both want sons, they both think that love is secondary to marriage itself and requires effort. (I guess Ned and Catelyn’s relationship might have planted that idea.) And between Jon and Sansa’s fantasies they have the whole set of imaginary sons and daughters to replace their dead and missing siblings. There’s Robb, Arya, Bran, Rickon, and even a Ned. Interestingly enough only they themselves are missing.
And it’s with those children Sansa’s dream reveals itself to be Jon’s (plus puppies and a boat (but she’s thirteen, so what?)) - that it’s about Winterfell and their family just like they used to be. Replacing their parents with themselves to recreate their childhood.
The thing about Jon wanting this, having always wanted it, is that there is only one girl who knows what the Winterfell of his childhood was like and who honestly wants the same thing and is not yearning for adventure, vengeance, a throne, or power above all.
And just like Jon is the only hero left for Sansa, Sansa is the only person who fits that bill.
As for the reader, the readership will be largely fine with R+L=J. After all Jon is the closest thing the series has to a traditional hero. Regardless of his heritage, fandom expects dragon riding and Others-defeating and getting the Iron Throne or something. And the ones who don’t “because GRRM is always subverting expectations and tropes - or should be” are usually so well-versed in those tropes that they know and accept Jon as a secret Targaryen as a real possibility. The former type of reader will easily and happily swallow R+L=J if it is revealed and the latter will complain that it’s lame because they have guessed it all along.
But what the readers have in common is that they think it inevitable that Jon is going to be special because the narrative has done everything to convince them that he will be. Anything else would be an epic letdown. For that reason alone, him being a Targaryen would probably please a lot of people.
But here’s a fun idea - what if Jon is a Targaryen not just in the way that pleases (dragon-riding, special snowflake-yness, “I predicted this since the Stone Age”) but also in the way that doesn’t?
Because there are some fun facts about the Targaryens, about the things that are unique to them: It’s not just dragon-riding, it’s not just sporadically-appearing madness, it’s also voluntary sibling incest. (Yes, let’s talk about that.)
In at least three cases, that we know of, Targaryen sibling incest has been not just voluntary but also politically absolutely pointless (Aemon the Dragonknight/Queen Naerys, Aegon IV and Daena, Bloodraven/Shiera Seastar/Bittersteel). These people didn’t bang each other (Or just indulged in some legendary public yearning. Same difference.) because it kept the blood pure. They banged each other because they wanted to bang each other and no one else would do.
These cases illustrate that Targaryens didn’t just commit incest because it was convenient or because they lacked the biological impulse not to do it. (Although they clearly lacked it in general.) They also committed incest because they were actually attracted to their siblings.
And yet Targaryen sibling incest has served barely any purpose in the story so far. If it existed to explain an obsession with keeping the blood pure or congenital madness, cousin marriage Habsburg-style would have sufficed. (But actual Targaryen cousin marriage gets so little mention that there is only one time it is featured with character of note. Although calling Rhaegar/Elia cousins is actually somewhat of a stretch.) Backstory-wise it has never been important. So far the only purpose it has served in the narrative is “the Targaryens are weird and that makes Jaime and Cersei less weird.” Which is not a lot, considering it’s a big, pink elephant that comes up over and over again.
Targaryen sibling incest might have been just be Chekov’s Gun for Jaime and Cersei but it’s an extremely well-developed gun, which continues to hang prominently on the wall. Perhaps too much for it to be irrelevant now. But if Jaime/Cersei was just a warning shot - the first one instead of the first and the last one - so the audience will feel safe seeing it on the wall… now that would explain why we are still getting stories and references galore to the incestuous Targaryen marriages and relationships five books and three prequel novellas later when Jaime and Cersei aren’t even a thing anymore.
If Jon/Sansa happens, GRRM can just rest on his patented troll-face and point out every single time he mentioned the Targaryen’s fondness for sibling incest as foreshadowing. And suddenly it would have a point because it narratively legitimizes Jon/Sansa.
It also paves the way for making Jon/Sansa potentially a lot less strange to Jon and more acceptable to Westeros in general. And it would also further legitimize Jon’s claim to be a Targaryen. Jon Snow/Stark would never marry his (ex-)sister. But to Westeros, that Jon Targaryen does, goes a long way of proving that he is who he claims to be.
And if Jon is going to get released from the NW (a major requirement for his Targaryen-ness to matter in the first place) and marry - his marriage will need to work on three levels in order to feel well-rounded to the audience. A personal one (it would be weird if Jon married someone he doesn’t know at all), a narrative one (the audience would need to know that character and consider them important enough), and a political one (so there would be a narrative reason for them to marry other than pulling a Game of Thrones-Talisa “let’s just do it because we feel like that” situation.)
Westeros has not many female characters who are simultaneously relevant on all three levels right now. Yet, Sansa’s relevance on every of these levels is off the charts. As a POV character, she is narratively relevant, as Jon’s family she is important on a personal level to Jon and politically, her relevance to Jon is probably even larger than they both could currently comprehend.
She is high up in line to inherit the North, the Riverlands, and Harrenhal and will be for as long either Rickon, Bran, and Edmure’s kids have not children of their own. That Sansa has potentially so much power in Westeros makes her hand in marriage literally worth killing for. And not just random people but those with a stronger claim to the North and the Riverlands. Her mere existence puts her family in danger.
Yes, we all like to imagine she’s gonna be Westeros’ Elizabeth I: Independent, Single Woman, Queen in the North and perhaps even Sansa Stark, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord (Lady?) of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm …. but I don’t think Sansa will be Elizabeth I. If anyone she could parallel Elizabeth of York. (At least the murdered younger brothers fit.)
I mean, I love the idea of her winning the Iron Throne in the end but I have serious doubts that it will happen. And anything less than ruling over all of Westeros would be really dangerous for Sansa and even more dangerous for anyone preceding her in the line of succession.
Just look at Littlefinger attempting to murder an easily-led child just speculating on Sansa’s claim, even though she has been disinherited, is wanted for murder and married. Unmarried Sansa would be catnip to every murderous, ambitious jerk in the realm.
And to Jon as the guy in charge of any place where the North matters, Sansa being married to a Tywin, a Ramsay, a Vctarion Greyjoy type of person would be a political problem.
I know that Dany with her three dragons/weapons of mass destruction looks like the better political option for Jon, marriage-wise. But gaining dragons is nice but not vital if Jon manages to not make enemies out of Dany or her dragons. (In which case, marriage would not be in the cards anyway.)
Not losing influence in the North, however, is vital. And every potential husband of Sansa’s would have the opportunity and motive to fuck over Jon politically. To kill whatever is left of Jon’s family. To make a second Lady Hornwood out of Sansa.
That’s why it’s so important that Sansa marries someone who isn’t a creep and who she can trust that he cares about her for a reason other than her potential inheritance. Anyone else could be deadly to her and her family. (And she’s been there, done that already.) But who can and would Sansa trust to be that person? Probably someone who she knows cared about her before she became an heiress to all that potential power.
So actually, Jon whether he is king or simply an landless, poor ex-Lord Commander, is her ideal political match.
Of course, if Jon survives and people know he’s Rhaegar’s son, it would give him a pretty good shot at the Iron Throne. And a more certain shot at gaining a “little” kingdom, so he (with his legitimate claim) would leave whoever actually sits on the Iron Throne alone.
But it’s not just the idea of R+L=J that makes people believe he will be king. Or that he “accidentally” gets called “king” repeatedly.
For example by Mormont’s raven:
“King,” croaked the raven. The bird flapped across the air to land on Mormont’s shoulder. “King,” it said again, strutting back and forth.
“He likes that word,” Jon said, smiling.
“An easy word to say. An easy word to like.”
“King,” the bird said again.
“I think he means for you to have a crown, my lord.”
“The realm has three kings already, and that’s two too many for my liking.” Mormont stroked the raven under the beak with his finger, but all the while his eyes never left Jon Snow.
and also by Robert:
“Kings are a rare sight in the north.”
Robert snorted. “More likely they were hiding under the snow. Snow, Ned!”
No, one major piece of evidence for everyone who believes R+L=J is the Kingsguard hanging around the Tower of Joy after learning of Aerys, Rhaegar and Aegon’s death. They should have gone to Viserys. But if Jon is Rhaegar’s legitimate son, they would have stayed to protect him - as he would be the legitimate king of Westeros.
So if you are like Dany or any other Targaryen loyalist (or Stannis, actually) and reject the idea of the “right of conquest/might makes right” claim to the throne (because that is a free-for-all) he already is king.
(But then if you reject the right of conquest, Rob’s disappeared will and the fact that Bran and Rickon aren’t dead, (so basically everything) Sansa is also already Queen in the North.)
But it’s not that Sansa is kind of Queen if you squint reality away. She gets repeatedly foreshadowed as queen and it is a lot less subtle considering that was the point of her engagement with Joffrey. Sansa even had plans to be the sort of queen that people would love. But even after that falls through, people don’t entirely stop thinking about her in those terms.
Yet when Sansa praised his valor and said how good it was to see him getting strong again, both Lancel and Ser Kevan beamed. She would have made Joffrey a good queen and a better wife if he’d had the sense to love her.
And perhaps Littlefinger:
“….What little peace and order the five kings left us will not long survive the three queens, I fear.”
Cersei, however, despite fearing a prophesied younger, more beautiful queen never seems to suspect Sansa of being the one in her POVs. Fandom, as it does with everything else, disagrees with Cersei’s assessment.
So here’s the one million dollar question: If all that foreshadowing and claims pan out and Sansa is gonna be (someone’s) queen and Jon’s gonna be king for real… isn’t the most likely scenario that it’s gonna be the same throne?
Especially, if we are talking about the throne in the North? If Jon is Rhaegar’s son the chances of him becoming King of the North, replacing the Starks, are pretty dim. As long as one of Ned’s children is alive, Jon will not be widely seen as the better option… unless his children are also Ned Stark’s grandchildren, legitimizing him as a “Stark” through marriage. There is more than enough precedent for that. Like Mance’s favorite story of Bael the Bard. People seem to think that the story is a way to foreshadow the R+L=J reveal but what if it is foreshadowing for an actual future event?
It is also hardly the only potential foreshadowing for Jon/Sansa. People who believe in Jon/Dany put a lot of faith in Dany seeing a blue rose growing from a wall in the House of the Undying and hearing a howling wolf while being in the Dothraki Sea (her last chapter in ADWD.)
In Jon’s last chapter in ADWD, he gets stabbed. Jon calls out for Ghost in the same way Robb calls out for Grey Wind before he dies. But we never learn if Ghost howls when Jon gets stabbed the way Grey Wind howled when Robb was hit by multiple arrows. It stands to reason though because not only Dany hears a howling wolf in the distance around that time but also Sansa. In her last chapter in AFFC (which shares ADWD’s timeline (and is most definitely after Jon became Lord Commander) and therefore could fit the timeframe of Jon’s assassination extremely well) she hears something that sounds like a howling “ghost wolf, big as mountains” while coming down the Eyrie.
That far away-carrying sound of a person in need reeks of magic, of fate, and of a high-brow literary reference: Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. The interesting thing here is that not only does Sansa’s location support the reference to Brontë’s romance, the sound she hears is described pretty precisely as Ghost and it’s so loud and all-encompassing that she thinks it’s the wind. The howling wolf Dany hears, on the other hand, is far off in the distance.
But Jon does more than just getting stabbed in his last ADWD chapter. His stream of consciousness about his siblings in the same chapter earlier also has him associating Sansa with Ygritte:
Of Sansa, brushing out Lady’s coat and singing to herself. You know nothing, Jon Snow.
Which is spectacular (even if you disregard it as romantic foreshadowing), since the two rarely think about each other at all. Sansa’s POV shows her only consciously thinking of Jon when she prays at the Battle of Blackwater and when she is told he was made Lord Commander (again in her last AFFC chapter, which is with some degree of likelihood is around the same time Jon thinks about her):
She had not thought of Jon in ages. He was only her half brother, but still … with Robb and Bran and Rickon dead, Jon Snow was the only brother that remained to her. I am a bastard too now, just like him. Oh, it would be so sweet, to see him once again. But of course that could never be. Alayne Stone had no brothers, baseborn or otherwise.
Jon’s conscious thoughts of Sansa are nearly equally rare. He says that Winterfell is hers to Stannis and remembers that she told him to always compliment a girl’s name. But there is no conscious reflection of her being Tyrion’s wife, for example, which seems like the thing that should be at least worth a thought.
If one believes in dramatic irony, it is that thoughtlessness in regards to each other (and possibly Sansa’s anvilicious “that could never be” when thinking about seeing him again) that gives them the best chances of being the first (if not only) Starks to reunite.
Especially since they have never interacted on any of these nearly 6,000 pages. Which in combination with so little thought about each other, reeks of authorial intent rather than GRRM missing the opportunity to do so.
Because that way, any reunion between them will be fresh and new - the first time we see them interact and not merely passing each other by, like it briefly happens in AGOT. (Jon describes Sansa as “radiant” there, which is a weird nearly-Targaryen-like description for a sister.)
But even if Jon is that weird, he is still a step up from Sansa’s usual ”suitors”: a collection of old creepers, murderers and kin-slayers. Maybe one day someone like Willas Tyrell or Harry the Heir or the Great Other will turn up to be a good man to Sansa. But considering how important marriage has been to Sansa’s storyline, resolving it with a last minute white-knight-type character addition is so much of a narrative cop-out that it’s practically deus ex machina.
(I know some people like to imagine Sansa as the prize a male character gets after he stops being a creeper and becomes a “good guy” (although that’s rarely how they put it.) Personally, I find the idea of Sansa becoming a reward, even it is just a partial purpose of her character, creepy.)
Of course, other people find Jon/Sansa just as creepy because of their (pseudo-)incest. Ironically, it’s exactly this sort of repulsion which makes me believe in Jon/Sansa as a real possibility.
See, without the incest, Jon/Sansa is a tired, tired trope about a damsel in distress and a dragon-riding/slaying hero. Two puzzle pieces that fit in the way they are similar and yet complimentary opposites. Boring.
But with the pseudo-incest it becomes the most outrageous and surprising plot twist. No one in the fandom, not even the people who ship it have any money on it happening. I don’t have have any money on it and I am writing a 6,000 words essay about it.
It is ultimately one of the most surprising plot developments in terms of “love/marriage” that can possibly happen. ASOIAF lives from its plot twists. To discount this one solely because we won’t see a “positive” portrayal of pseudo-sibling incest is premature.
But the ultimate irony for the audience here though is not that Jon gets to be a “real” Targaryen with all that this entails or that of all “smart” political matches he can and should make, Sansa is the best one, but what I mentioned in the beginning - that the average reader wishes these two characters well and gets stabbed in the eyes for that.
We don’t want Jon and Sansa to die or suffer in the end. We want them to get what they want, we want them to be happy. But we also expect better from GRRM than a happy ending. Our perception of the world of ASOIAF is that it’s a crapsack world where happiness cannot exist without being tainted, that wishes and wants only come true at a high price.
And Jon wanted to be important, he wanted to be Stark, he wanted a loving family, he wanted Winterfell, he wanted legitimacy, he wanted to be a hero, he wanted to be Ned.
Sansa wanted to be queen, to be important, to be loved for herself, wanted revenge, wanted to survive, to have her family (or what’s left of it (which to her knowledge the last time we’ve seen her is just Jon)) back, by marrying a good man, by marrying a hero, by marrying a prince.
And the readers, the majority of them, who don’t actively hate either of them, would like their wishes to come true after all what they went through.
Jon/Sansa, especially as king and queen will give everyone everything they wish or wished for. Every single thing. And half of that Jon and Sansa won’t want anymore (because they are so gonna be over fairy tales, heroism, and thrones by the end of the series) and the other half they won’t want because the idea of pairing up won’t come to them naturally either.
I know it’s super-speculative of me to say that they will marry without being in love with each other. But I don’t think that Jon/Sansa makes sense in a scenario in which they end up together because they fell in love first - which is the other way Jon/Sansa could happen.
I don’t see that happening because 1 - it’s anti-climactic as far as story-telling is concerned, 2 - it’s too happy, 3 - nothing good ever happens to people in ASOIAF who fall in love with each other without good reason, 4 - that Jon/Sansa is an ideal political match should matter and if they are majorly into each other it won’t matter very much at all.
So here we have two characters we wish well and in a way they both get everything they wanted in life at some point in their lives. They get what we wanted them to get.
And maybe some day that the timeline of the books certainly won’t cover, they might be able to arrange themselves with that. After all, they are similar people with similar dreams and their marriage will be the closest simulacrum to the childhood they both have began to idealize and idolize.
And Jon might just have inherited the Targaryen gene to find a sister attractive in that way and Sansa, having been portrayed as super-distant from Jon and at least sibling-like in everyone’s recollection and the audience’s perception of their relationship might get over the ex-sibling thing. One day, they might circle all the way to the beginning and become the family they’ve lost and be happy.
And maybe there will be some twisted poetry and romanticism in Jon/Sansa as Ned and Catelyn 2.0. The two had after all one of the healthiest, happiest, and because of that perhaps even most romantic relationships in ASIOAF (to be fair, the bar is low and the competition practically non-existent.) So even the romantics might get something they wished for and yet didn’t. But no one, not the characters, not the readers, would consider the far away possibility of happiness a happy ending. It might be everything they want or wanted in a way, it might make them happy one day, but if it is the rational decision that I presume it would be, it would be merely the least terrible of all choices. No one’s gonna be happy with that - not even people who would actually like the idea of Jon/Sansa.
GRRM, in his trolling glory, promised a bittersweet ending. Giving us something that we want but in a way we don’t, with happiness as something that might occur - but only after we won’t be able to read about it anymore, is most certainly bittersweet.
But then, unlike Jon/Sansa itself, that is my one certain prediction about the series - that no matter who live and dies, who marries whom or who’s gonna be sad, and forever alone in the end - that all we get in the end is the hope for happiness, not happiness itself.
* original illlustrations by James Jean