Thanks to sansalayned for organizing Sansa Appreciation Week! Sorry this is late, but this is for Day 5, favorite scene.
His hand was shaking.
Oh, no, Alayne thought. Please. Not here. Not now…
Alayne took Robert’s gloved hand in her own to stop his shaking. “Sweetrobin,” she said, “I’m scared. Hold my hand, and help me get across. I know you’re not afraid.”
He looked at her, his pupils small dark pinpricks in eyes as big and white as eggs. “I’m not?”
“Not you. You’re my winged knight, Ser Sweetrobin.”
“The Winged Knight could fly,” Robert whispered.
“Higher than the mountains.” She gave his hand a squeeze.
Lady Myranda had joined them by the spire. “He could,” she echoed, when she saw what was happening.
“Ser Sweetrobin,” Lord Robert said, and Alayne knew that she dare not wait for Mya to return. She helped the boy dismount, and hand in hand they walked out onto the bare stone saddle, their cloaks snapping and flapping behind them. All around was empty air and sky, the ground falling away sharply to either side. There was ice underfoot, and broken stones just waiting to turn an ankle, and the wind was howling fiercely. It sounds like a wolf, thought Sansa. A ghost wolf, big as mountains.
And then they were on the other side. Sansa, AFFC
You know, there’s a lot of talk of Sansa manipulating, and people point to scenes like Sansa/Joffrey when she saves Dontos. But in that scene, and most every other discussed from the earlier books, it’s not a plan. It’s not really conscious. Sansa blurts out Joffrey can’t kill Dontos and then has to scramble for a lie to explain why she reacted that way. It’s quick thinking but not really true control as she needed Sandor to back her up, it wasn’t thought through. But that scene is in ACoK and Sansa has grown considerably since then.
This scene illustrates the control over her instincts and Sansa’s development as a character. She sees the issue (Robert beginning to shake) and panics, but then she recovers and handles it seemingly effortlessly.
She doesn’t blurt something out, she collects herself and plays Robert using her knowledge of him. It’s a lot like Arya’s whole playing the person tactics that continued in her Mercy chapter.
Sansa knows Robert Arryn at this point. If she attempts to order him around or tell him to calm down, it’d be useless. But she also knows his pride, how he has such sheltered power thanks to Lysa and his status as Lord Arryn. So instead of trying to command him, instead of pleading with him, Sansa plays into that pride.
He wants to feel powerful and strong, Sansa uses that as well as subtlety playing up her own fear to assure him of his lack of terror.
I love this moment so much because of a few reasons. For starters, this is in many ways the accumulation of skills and lessons Sansa has obtained through her time in King’s Landing and from Littlefinger. In court, she learned to say what people wanted to hear or expected. She was taught to boost the egos of those around her and control her emotions so that they didn’t manifest in anger or tears. With Littlefinger, he taught her the importance of lying to achieve a specific purpose and to behave in a way that is considered harmless. Both of them enhanced her perceptiveness of people and reading their character.
Sansa utilizes all of that in this moment. She takes her knowledge of Robert, processes it, turns that knowledge into something useful for her situation, manipulates Robert, and all the while appears to Robert as though she wasn’t doing anything at all.
Had Sansa blurted out something or reacted emotionally, she probably would have caused Robert’s shaking to worsen. Moreover, if she didn’t have such a good read on Robert, she may have caused him to have an attack or tantrum as he is a pretty unstable and emotional individual.
She appeals to his as a child, with youthful ideas about himself (“Ser Sweetrobin” the winged knight) and as a proud lord/man (with him needing to be strong for her.)
I just find this scene to be a very underrated Sansa moment. Sure, it’s not her life or death and it may not be very politician/warrior in nature. It’s a very subtle scene, not that noteworthy in a series full of coups and beheadings and battles.
That being said, it’s a favorite of mine. I love Sansa’s growth here. She’s in complete control despite her fear. She handles an unforeseen crisis quickly and efficiently whilst displaying the tricks and teachings of her hardships. She just handles it with maturity and awareness.
I think it’s a precursor in some ways to a Sansa with agency. She reads the person, considers that knowledge, uses it for a purpose, and achieves her means- all the while seeming as though she hasn’t done anything worthy of notice, harmless and not worth worrying over.