1: Sanaki has balls of steel
She's most likely a product of her environment. When you're surrounded by people trying to take you down, your options are limited - you learn to take their abuse with a grain of salt and grow a backbone, or you fold under the pressure and withdraw. She no doubt had support from Sephiran, but I imagine he did more backstabbing behind the scenes to keep her alive, and less of the "you're wonderful, don't listen to them, they're jealous~" idiocy that parents spoon out when their kids are being ostracized.
Funny, because in spite of my OTP, which would imply I have fluffy ideas about their time together, I believe he probably left her alone for the most part unless she really needed help. Socially, I mean. If she can't stand without his support, she's not going to make a good ruler.
That led me to:
Undoubtedly Sephiran had something to do with her pro-laguz sentiment, and the fact that she had a sense of honor at all is pretty amazing considering her environment. Her willingness to abase herself in apology for the Massacre is actually really interesting, but.
We don't know what Altina was like, but there are shades of Sanaki that remind me of Ashera. That just made me wonder - when Sephiran trained her to rule, did he draw upon memories of his goddess of order? Because Ashera and Sanaki display the same imperial arrogance. It's not a special brand of arrogance or anything; it's supreme confidence that one is better than others. And ruling a kingdom, one would think, is much like a constant battle to keep chaos under control.
3: What this says about Sephiran
I just don't think Lehran had many strong female figures to model Sanaki after, on account of being locked away for seven centuries and probably being acquainted with lots of herons. (Nor is Almedha a paragon of feminine strength, in my opinion.) The ones we know about are a goddess and Altina, who also had balls of steel, and two really big swords to beat people up with. Lehran's idea of a woman might not be... traditional.
Completely without any pairing bias, I promise, I claim this: he wanted to create an empress he could feel confident in kneeling to. Herons seem to have this chronic need to be devoted to someone. It's like an exaggerated form of Ike's "I fight for my friends! :(" thing.
Lehran psychology is a weird thing. I don't really think he's weak. He has some fault lines, so if you hit him in the right place he might snap temporarily, but he comes back from it. He was severely disillusioned by the Serenes Massacre, not to mention several centuries of racial conflict, but I don't think he was insane to plot Ashera's awakening. It's what she told him to do if he felt the world did something that put it beyond redemption, and in a fit of emotion, he forgot some important concepts like individuality vs. the group, and made his decision. Also, I have to say, the Massacre is an ugly manifestation of what people are capable of. I have sympathy for his point of view, if not his response.
Also, he loves his goddess. He has probably followed her all his life. He wouldn't know what to do without her, as evidenced by the story Nasir and Gareth tell about what happened when he lost his power. He apparently hasn't ever defied her, which is important in understanding his decision to wake her up. But Ashera is cold and Altina is dead, so I wonder if he found the strength he needed in Sanaki. She has enough steel for an entire freaking nation.
I have to really admire her, because even though she didn't fight Sephiran personally, she didn't give up when he turned on her. And-- then she went to kill a goddess. BALLS OF STEEL. I love you, Sanaki.
So, to summarize: Lehran likes falling to his knees for strong women. Obviously.
I... just don't feel like writing fic. That's why I'm subjecting you to this. And it's Thursday.