Bloodraven & Sansa Stark -
“I had expected better from you, Sansa. The Starks have always been a family gifted in transfiguration.”
Sansa drops her head, turning her eyes away from the roll of parchment that was supposed to have been a dove. At least I got the feathers right, she thinks, her eyes focusing on the shine of her freshly polished shoes, but that’s the only thing. “I’m sorry, Professor Rivers.”
She was embarrassed more than sorry. To be a Stark and be failing transfiguration! It was positively unthinkable. Even after months of tutoring from Jon and Arya, her spells were mediocre at best. Even Bran, undoubtedly Professor Rivers’ favorite, could do nothing to help her. I’m hopeless. I’m not worth being called a Stark.
Through her eyelashes, she sees Professor Rivers lean back in his chair and steeple his fingers under his chin. He seemed to be staring at her, so she drops her eyes again. Sansa had always been afraid of Professor Brynden Rivers, though she did her best not to be rude and show it. The name the students called him behind his back did nothing to ease her fears. Lord Bloodraven, they call him, and it’s easy to see why. But the raven-shaped birthmark on his cheek, or even the empty eye socket his half-brother gifted him in the last great wizard war, wasn’t the gruesome feature that unnerved her so. It was his one eye, red as blood, that always sent a wave of shivers down her spine.
He had that one eye fixed on her now, his mouth twisted curiously. “You’ll try again, Ms. Stark.”
She begins to nod, relieved that he apparently didn’t intended to shame her any more, and that he was seemingly getting ready to dismiss her. If I hurry to the Great Hall, I might get there before all the lemon cakes are gone. “Oh, I will, Professor! I’ll try again much harder tomorrow, and I’ll-“
“You misunderstand me.” He leans forward and gestures at her feathered parchment. “What I mean is that you will try again now.” Her head darts up and his one eye narrows contemplatively. “Perhaps a wolf this time.”
“A wolf?! Professor, I can’t even turn a piece of parchment into a little bird. I couldn’t possibly transfigure anything into something as large and complicated as a wolf!”
“It doesn’t have to be a large wolf.” He says, as if it should have been obvious. With a sigh, he leans back again and rests his white head against the tall back of his chair. “Humor me, Ms. Stark. I would think that out of any animal, the wolf would come most naturally to you.”
He was right. The direwolf was the sigil on her House’s coat-of-arms. Wolves were carved into the architecture at the Stark’s ancestral manor Winterfell. Some of her family had even kept them as pets. Father always says that Starks are wolves, and wolves are Starks. And I am a Stark.
Ignoring the feeling of Professor Rivers’ bloody eye on her, Sansa conjures the image of her House’s sigil, her father’s sigil, in her mind, grips her wand tightly, points it at her feathered parchment, and speaks the incantation with sureness and determination.
And nothing happens.
Feeling red hot shame crawl up her neck, she tries again. And again. And again.
There are tears on her cheeks when Professor Rivers finally calls an end to it after her sixth attempt. “That’s enough, Sansa.”
“I’m sorry, Professor!” She sobs, furiously wiping away her tears. “I’m sorry, I tried, but I just can’t!”
He conjures a hankerchief and sends it floating to her. It’s expensive looking, scarlet red with a white dragon embrodered on one corner. She dabs at her face half-heartedly with it, loathe to dampen it with her tears and the drippings from her nose and embarass herself any further. When she folds it and returns it to him, he doesn’t smile, but does give her a look that could almost be called kind. “Tomorrow you’ll do better.”
I won’t. She thinks, but doesn’t have the heart to say it. She only nods and makes for the door. When she opens it, a brush of fluff runs over her leg, and she lets out a frightened squeal. Sansa looks down, ready to curse whichever house ghost decided to come through the floor and terrorize her, but she has to bite her tongue.
On the floor outside of Professor Rivers’ classroom are six wolf pups heaped together in a gray and black and snow white tumble.
Over her shoulder, Lord Bloodraven begins to laugh. “Six pups for six spells! We’ll certainly have to work on your aim, but you appear to be more a Stark than I’d thought, Sansa.”