Fandom: Game of Thrones
Word Count: 54,591
Summary: "Westerosi A/U, SanSan: This story takes place after Ned Stark declines Robert Baratheon's offer to become the Hand of the King. A war between the two men ensues. Having lost this war, Sansa wages a partisan guerrilla offensive for Northern freedom. When the Hound is ordered to take control of the North, Sansa gets more than she bargained for."
Can I just start by saying that I love badass Sansa AUs?? Because I really really do.
Also the fact that there aren't more "What if Ned said no to Robert?" fics is really a crime. But anyway...
This is a fanfiction that you finish and go, "Ok, but I need more," and luckily Vermilion_Sunrise is working on a sequel as we speak. But it doesn't make the mistake that a lot of fics do and drag on the same story for a couple hundred thousand words, adding in unnecessary details or drama that do nothing to get the characters from where they started to where they need to be.
The pacing Vermilion sets for this fic is just right. There's enough time spent on learning Sansa's cause and establishing the AU, then we meet Sandor and spend just enough time getting used to his rule of the North before getting some SanSan action. And really there's the best part.
We know through Sandor's diary that he is already basically in love with "Magda" before he spends any real time with her, but we get to see every step of Sansa falling for him in return. And due to how reluctant she is in the beginning to have anything to do with the man who is running her family's lands for the Lannisters, Vermilion does a great job in convincing the reader that this change of heart is real.
But therein lies the best part of the best part: Despite her growing love for Sandor, Sansa doesn't give up her cause in the least. And it would be so easy for her to do it. She could live in Winterfell, marry the man she loves, have a family and forget all about the plan she made years earlier with Jon and Arya (who might never come back for all she knows). But she doesn't take the easy way out. She continues to plot and make plans with Gendry and use her position to learn valuable information about the Southern occupiers.
And the respect Sandor has for Sansa and her cunningness even after he suspects (or even realizes) that she's a leader of the resistance is so refreshing that I want to take this fic's Sandor home for the holidays.
The only critique I have is how much of a slave to Sandor's touch Sansa seems to be. Before she loves him or even when she's angry with him, all Sandor seems to have to do is initiate sex and she forgets herself, which doesn't necessarily track with how dedicated to the resistance's cause she is, at least to me. But everyone has character faults, I guess.
The sequel is still in its early chapters and hasn't been updated in a few months, but let's hope that Vermilion gives us a follow-up as good as the original.