This week I'm looking at Sansa's chapter, titled "Alayne" as that is the identity she has assumed. She is currently in the Vale, posing as Littlefinger's bastard daughter, and she is a favorite of Sweetrobin, the son of Lysa Arryn and heir to the Vale. Robin is too young to be running things and Littlefinger is basically manipulating everything behind the scenes. Alayne reads stories to Robin and is one of the few people that can calm him, since he tends to have nervous fits. She's reading to him at the start of this chapter as Mya Stone arrives, to announce that the Waynwood party is due.
The Waynwoods are coming to join the tournament that has been announced- knights from across the Vale will compete for a spot on the young lord's new house guard. Among therm is Harrold Hardying, "Harry the Heir," since he is next in line after Robin. Many think Harry is just waiting to ascend to lordship of the Vale, and Robin seems to understand this, as he says as much to Alayne. Complicating matters is that Alayne is now betrothed to Harry, thanks to Littlefinger's machinations.
Robin wants to marry Sansa himself, and she has to explain that as a bastard she would be no fit match. She then runs off to find Littlefinger, to alert him to the Waynwoods' arrival, but she finds Myranda Royce instead. Myranda and Alayne seem to have a good relationship, although there is an undercurrent of hurt as Myranda fancied Harry, and is a little upset about Alayne's betrothal to him. They come upon Lyn Corbray sparring in the yard, and Sansa pokes the bear a little by japing him about his brother, who is expecting his first child. A child that will make Lyn no longer the heir to their House.
Lyn is surprisingly bitter, and she wonders if she blundered into stirring that pot. She knows that Lyn is secretly working for Littlefinger, but the depth of his anger (Littlefinger arranged his brothers marriage) makes her question whether he is truly a catspaw, or merely pretending to be. They also run into Ser Shadrich, who has been hanging around and who many suspect knows who Alayne truly is, and will try to steal her away to return to Cersei. I think it interesting that George RR Martin gives us moments with Lyn Corbray and Ser Shadrich in quick succession- foreshadowing?
We also learn that it was Sansa's idea for the tourney, and that when she told Littlefinger he rushed to set it up, thinking her clever. And Myranda mentions that her husband died in bed, and when Sansa tells her it's not her fault, she replies that she doesn't remember anyone else being in the bed. One other thing that comes up, seemingly innocuous, is a mention of the tapestries that Littlefinger had shipped to the Vale- the same tapestries that Robert had in the throne room at King's Landing, at one point. There are fan theories that there is something in the tapestries that Littlefinger wants to preserve, some clue perhaps- to something? Perhaps the Lannister incest?
So the Waynwoods arrive, led by stout Anya Waynwood, along with her son, grandson, and ward- Harrold Hardying. Alayne finds him attractive, but he's initially quite rude to her, and when she tells Littlefinger this he reminds her that Yohn Royce probably warned the boy about them. Littlefinger himself is busy instructing Lords Grafton and Belmont to hoard grain for the winter, so that when everyone else runs out of food they can make a fortune. He then tells Alayne to beguile Harry at the coming dance, instructing her to tease him yet not seem too eager. He correctly predicts that the knights who are present will flock to her due to her beauty.
Sure enough at the dance Alayne does not lack for dancing partners, and after dancing with several is asked to dance by Harry himself. He apologizes for his earlier rudeness and she is rather cool to him, but agrees to dance. She asks him about his becoming a father, since she's heard through the grapevine that he has a bastard coming from some common girl. He admits this will be his second, and that his current lover- Saffron- is a merchant's daughter from Gulltown, and is quite beautiful. Alayne laughs at her name and generally gets the better of Harry as they spar verbally, and he's quite surprised by her and a little taken. The chapter ends with her telling him
"Should we ever wed, you'll need to send Saffron back to her father. I'll be all the spice you'll want."
He enthusiastically promises to hold her to that, and asks if he can wear her favor in the tourney. She declines, saying it's already given to someone else, thinking to herself that now she'll have to find someone to wear her favor.