The rules of love and marriage in Westeros and Essos (and assumedly Yi Ti and Asshai) are different than our modern sensibilities. While most Houses frown on straight up incest – Targaryens and some Lannisters excluded – nobility likes to keep it in the extended family. Nearly everyone in the upper echelons of power is related, and cousins getting married is so common place no one bats an eye. This is why I”m not entirely convinced Game of Thrones isn”t setting the stage for Sansa Stark and Jon Stark to get married. And I”m pretty upset with myself for being on board with this.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES BEYOND THIS POINT.
First of all, I”m not proud of this. The warped machinations of Westerosi politics have tainted me. But hear me out. Sansa Stark is now the eldest child. She has experienced helplessness and power. Now that she has a modicum of freedom and agency, I doubt she”ll ever let it go. Her love for Bran and Rickon may not outweigh her desire to be Wardeness of the North and her own keeper. But to maintain her position, she would need to either be the eldest Stark child AND a boy, or marry someone higher on the heir food chain than Bran. Jon Snow could be that heir.
But ewww, they”re siblings right? Nope. And I”m not talking about Littlefinger”s reminder to Sansa that they”re only half-siblings. Though gods know in this culture, that might be far enough genetic distance on its own. But they”re not even that. Sansa Stark is Jon”s cousin. Jon TARGARYEN”s cousin. A surprise to no one at this point (though this is what the spoiler warning was for), Jon Snow is not the product of an out-of-character tryst between Ned Stark and some mistress, but the lovechild of Ned”s sister Lyanna Stark and her lover (or perhaps husband, or perhaps rapist if you believe Robert Baratheon) Rhaegar Targaryen. At some point Jon will learn the truth and everything will change.
This is where things get interesting and, admittedly, icky. Okay yes, I'm a monster. A politically savvy monster.
As a direct descendant of Rhaegar, Jon Targaryen has a claim that is as solid as his Aunt Daenerys”. And he isn”t some outsider coming in with a marauding horde to plunder the continent and set it on fire. He”s a homegrown boy coming with a more familiar marauding horde to save the continent from ice zombies. Should Jon”s parentage come to light, he becomes the heir to the Iron Throne and the Lannisters become the pretenders. However, one cannot rule by right alone. Sansa Stark is the eldest child of Winterfell, the lead House of the North. The North is the largest territory in the Seven Kingdoms. Should Targaryen and Stark merge, they”d form an alliance to be reckoned with.
Would Sansa and Jon agree to this madness? Perhaps. Sansa is nothing if not pragmatic at this point in her life. She feels that Jon is the only man in her life she can be both herself around and feel safe with. They see each other as equals. Jon would be more likely to balk at the suggestion at this point. But death can offer strange attitude adjustments. And he does have a thing for red-heads (I'm a monster, send help).
Is it likely? Probably not. But can”t you see these two with crowns on their heads?