Sansa had always enjoyed a good daydream. As a child, it took her away from the boredom of Maester Luwin's turret, or another tedious afternoon in her sister's company. She would imagine herself a fair maiden trapped in the drab, grey castle of the north, hidden away by her evil parents, awaiting rescue by a handsome knight who would sweep her away to the warmth and diversions of the south. She could easily spend half an hour simply deciding whether her saviour should have brown hair or blond, short or long, a chestnut mare or a white stallion.
Now, of course, she would sit in her rooms in the Eyrie, staring out at the sky and the distant land below, and daydream herself back into that drab, grey castle in the north. Sometimes, when it was not too painful, Sansa would even imagine her evil parents and tedious sister there with her.
Sometimes, Winterfell was a stretch too far, even for an imagination like Sansa's, and she would instead picture herself at the Wall. Her brother was the Lord Commander there, and she was certain his life would be more comfortable for a woman managing his affairs. She imagined great roaring fires and men in black going about their noble deeds, bowing to her as she passed on her important errands. She imagined sitting on her brother's right at the high table, listening to the watchmen's tales of valour and flirting chastely with her brother's generals.
The thing about a daydream, Sansa had always thought, was the details. To truly get swept up in it all, you had to believe in the world within your head, at least for a little while. For the five minutes it took your maid to pin up your hair, or the half an hour you were sitting waiting for Littlefinger to summon you, you must truly want to be in that other place.
Which was why it confused her that she daydreamed about the Hound so much.
At first, Sansa merely found herself reliving his kiss. It had not been a pleasant kiss, in the way she had been taught a knight should kiss his lady. But it had been strong, as he was strong, and fierce, as he was fierce, and it was not so long before she began to imagine what it might have been like to return it. Inevitably, that led to daydreams of having accepted his offer of escape. She imagined a midnight gallop and a boat to the Free Cities. She imagined a manse, with high walls and guards bristling with weapons, she imagined beautiful gardens and strange languages and exotic foods, and she imagined her sworn shield, who had once been Joffrey's Hound, and who occasionally grabbed her in a fit of passion and pressed his mouth roughly to hers. As a highborn lady, Sansa would suffer the indignity of it with grace and forbearance, and only kiss him back when she was certain the servants weren't in sight.
Contrary to general King's Landing consensus, however, Sansa wasn't stupid. She did know the difference between daydreams and reality. Only one whose waking life had been so awful could ever really appreciate the true power of a daydream. She knew better than most where the line between real life and wishful thinking lay, and so when Sansa started to dream of the Hound, she knew it was something a little different.
For a start, the dreams were often quite uneventful. There was a lot of digging. Sometimes, felling trees. She was somewhere very quiet, or else the people around her didn't speak very much. It was unlike anything else she had ever dreamt up before. But that wasn’t the strangest thing: in truth, she did not dream about the Hound. Sansa dreamt that she was the Hound. And what was even stranger still, was that she woke smiling, feeling comforted, the memory of strength in her limbs.
It was, she supposed, only natural to wish to be stronger than the weak little bird that she was. How wonderful it would be, to fear no one, be at no one's mercy, only a sword away from freedom. She wished she could dream up a sword into her hand instead of the more usual shovel, just once, to know what it would feel like to wield a weapon with such absolute power. But the difference between dreams and daydreams was that she had no control over what she saw, once asleep. She was merely a passenger.
That was what she reminded herself one morning when she awoke with a start, skin fevered and sheened in sweat, a queer damp feeling between her thighs. She had not known that men... that was, she had never seen... well, she had seen Tyrion's, but she preferred not to think on that if at all possible. But she had never seen a man reach his own climax before, and certainly never when that man was her. Of course she had tentatively touched herself down there before, and noted the little shots of pleasure with vaguely horrified curiosity, before removing her hands in embarrassment. But as the Hound, well... merely looking down her own naked body, rippling solid muscle and scarred skin, had been exciting. Apart from her brothers, the only man she had ever seen completely naked was Tyrion, and the Hound was built nothing like her husband. She had watched helplessly as one big hand had reached for an engorged manhood, gasping aloud at the shock of the sensation, her voice rasping in her throat. It had been quick and brutal and efficient, pumping into her hand until her whole body seemed to seize and her manhood pulsed and spread its seed onto her fingers.
And now Sansa laid abed, the place between her legs seeming to burn with sensation as the grey light of pre-dawn teased at the shutters. She struggled with herself for a moment. She was certain what she wanted to do was not in the slightest bit ladylike. But then again, she was supposed to be Alayne Stone, bastard daughter of Petyr Baelish who owned half the brothels in King's Landing. Probably, Alayne's mother was a whore, and besides, everyone knew bastard blood ran hot.
Pulling her bedgown out of the way, Sansa probed between her legs tentatively. She had a woman's hair on her mound, now, and when she slid a finger between her lips she realised she was wet there, too. It made her finger glide easily over the little nub of sensitive flesh and something sharp and hot sparked inside her. It certainly hadn't felt like that before. She rubbed again, breath hitching with the rush of sensation, and kept rubbing until the ache between her thighs became almost akin to pain, and just when she thought she could not stand any more sensation she remembered the sight of her manhood sliding through her big fist, and her body exploded in pleasure.
"Sandor," she murmured dreamily as her eyelids became heavy once more and Sansa drifted back into the safety of sleep.
Brother Sandor of the Quiet Isle lay abed staring at the ceiling, trying to think. He was not, generally speaking, well accustomed to the action this early in the morning, but was aided in the endeavour by the fact that Elder Brother did not allow wine on the island. He had been dreaming of her again. That in itself was not unusual – the many voices of his regrets often surfaced at night to torment him, and Sansa Stark was chief among them.
He sometimes wished that he had never laid eyes on the stupid little bird. He wished she had never spoken to him with her polished courtesy, as though he were worthy of it. He wished he had never given her the chance to look away from his face in fear and disgust. Sometimes, he wished he had taken her with him that night, kicking and clawing at him with every step if needs be. But mostly, Sandor Clegane simply wished that he could look on her again, the soft, burnished sheen of her hair tumbling down her back, the arresting blue of her eyes, the line of one high cheekbone.
His sleeping mind did not tend to accommodate him – while he did most certainly dream of Sansa Stark, it was more that he felt she was present in some unfathomable way. It was both better and worse than actually seeing her pretty face might have been, never failing to awake in him the dreadful yearning he had tried to leave behind, and a tangle of conflicting emotions.
Emotions and desires. Sandor had never been a man shy of taking what pleasure he could from whatever source it came, but since the dreams had started... he had not felt the need to explore his own body like this since the long spring of his thirteenth year. And yet, his hand moved almost of its own accord to the hard muscle of his belly, fingers stroking soft skin and coarse hair before slowly descending to his hardened cock. He had never been one to enjoy toying with himself, and he had certainly never let a woman play his body as he now frequently did himself. He was more used to fucking into his hand with quick, rhythmic strokes until he came, but now it was almost as if he had no control of his own actions. Sandor wondered idly if Elder Brother would tell him it was the grace of the Seven filling him up, and laughed for a moment until his voice cut out into a long, low groan.
Gods, but it felt good. The queer feeling the dream had left behind lingered in his chest, a feeling of closeness to Sansa Stark, and he closed his eyes to concentrate on it. Since childhood – since Gregor had seen to his face – Sandor had not felt he needed to be close to anyone, had trained himself so that he would not. But this strange sensation... he clung to it with a ferocity that he did not care to examine too closely.
Sandor stroked himself slowly, almost tenderly, and could not force himself to speed up. It was freeing in a way. All men craved order in their lives, instructions to follow, a function to perform, and Sandor perhaps more than most. It gave their lives meaning. But since he had fled King’s Landing, he had been on his own, and even giving himself up to some strange inner demand brought a feeling akin to relief.
Something forced his eyes open and he propped himself up on one elbow, looking down his own body. He had never really considered before that his body could be pleasing, but he was strong and had not spread in girth as he passed his thirtieth nameday as some men did. He had scars everywhere, yes, but they were nothing compared to his face and were not, ultimately, all that uncommon for a man who had been in his line of work. He watched, almost distantly, as he thrust up into his own hand, the feeling in his chest intensifying for a moment before the sensations of his body overwhelmed it.
He lay for a moment, catching his breath. Something seemed to flicker at the corner of his vision, and Sandor sat up abruptly and swung his legs over the edge of his narrow cot, peering sharply into the dark corners of his room.
“Sansa?” he asked, his voice coming out a scratchy whisper.
Then he shook his head to clear it of the ridiculous notion, and got up to clean himself and start his day.
Sansa began to suspect that they were more than dreams when the news came about the Hound’s death. She had felt the wrongness of it – not just that she didn’t want it to be true, but that it couldn’t be. Petyr had looked at her censoriously and she had quickly re-schooled her features before the messenger could notice anything, and hoped that he simply thought her upset at the death of someone she had once known.
She became certain later that day, dozing after dinner from too much wine. It was dark in her dream, and she was riding Stranger along the bank of a great river visible only by the white swirls of rough water. Whatever the quiet place had been, she knew she was riding away from it, though it was not long before the lights of an inn came into view and she dismounted. Once inside, the Hound wasted no time, and went upstairs to wait for the woman he had paid for.
Arya had often accused her of being vain and while it was true Sansa did not exactly think it a crime to take care with her appearance, she was certainly no narcissist. So when the whore slipped in through the door to the Hound’s room and Sansa saw that she had long red hair only a few shades brighter than her own natural colour, she knew this was no creation of her own sleeping mind.
Recently Sansa had begun to realise that she could indeed exert some control over the Hound’s body, and the sudden realisation that somehow, impossibly, it really was his body sent a shock through her so great she awoke with a gasp. The things she had made him do! Gods forgive her.
It was enough to keep her awake the rest of the night, worried that if she closed her eyes she would slip into his mind once more. But what a queer thing to happen. The only thing she could even begin to compare it to was that sometimes, with Lady, she had felt a connection... Now she thought on it, in fact, Sansa remembered she had dreamt herself a direwolf once or twice. She had thought nothing of it, at the time, but had it been something akin to what was happening to her now? Old Nan had told she and Bran stories of the skin changers north of the Wall when they were children, but she had never heard tell of anyone able to do that with people.
It scared her. She tried not to think on it, filling her days with tasks she would not necessarily have otherwise done, in the hopes of ensuring she would be too tired to inadvertently invade Sandor Clegane in her sleep. It worked for a little while, though she slept badly, constantly waking herself through the night out of fear and shame and some other feeling she could not quite pinpoint. It was not long before Petyr gave her a piercing look one morning over breakfast and remarked over her look of exhaustion. She quickly made something up about a sore throat she had felt coming on, and went meekly back to her room on his instruction to wait for the maester’s inspection. Only when the man had gone did she give in to the rising panic, her limbs trembling in fright at what Petyr might say if he discovered her secret.
Sansa allowed herself a few minutes of weeping before coming to the conclusion that if she did not want him to find out, she would simply have to do a better job of keeping it hidden. And that started with getting some sleep.
She lay in her bed for several minutes with her eyes forced wide open, promising herself that should she dream of the Hound, she would simply be a passenger as she had been at first. He would not like it if ever he should find out, but it was not as though she could help it. Finally satisfied that things were as clear in her mind as they were ever like to get, Sansa closed her eyes. She was asleep within the minute.
Winter settled in to the Vale not a week after their descent from the Eyrie. Perhaps it was the trapped feeling the snow brought with it, or perhaps it was the new pressure Petyr had put on her of charming Harold Hardyng, but it was not long after that that Sansa slipped into Sandor’s mind for the first time while fully awake. She came back to herself quickly enough, when Randa shook her shoulder and laughed at her for daydreaming, but after that it got easier and easier.
She found herself peeking in on his life as she might peek around little Robert’s door to check he was all right. Despite all the digging and other menial chores, it seemed restful, and she needed that. Since she had realised that the visions were real, Sansa had taken more interest in Sandor’s surroundings, and had come to realise that he was on an island somewhere, probably not too far away given the timings of the sunrise and sunset. Those around him were all men, and they wore the dun and brown robes of the godsworn, but though the Hound dressed in the same garb as the rest she had never visited him at prayer, nor indeed doing anything holy. In fact, like as not, when Sansa slipped his skin on over her own he ended up doing something decidedly unholy. She flushed to think of it, only half in embarrassment, but though she knew he would be furious if ever he found her out, and though she did feel a little guilty over the intrusion, she could not in truth say that she was sorry for it.
Besides, how would he ever find out? Sansa had been visiting his mind for near on a year now, and he had never shown any sign that he could detect her presence behind his eyes in any way.
The answer to that came several turns of the moon later, the night before her fifteenth nameday. The night Robert Arryn finally died. Petyr wasted no time in announcing his daughter’s engagement to Harold Arryn (formerly Hardyng), and fixed the day of their wedding for two moons’ time – one turn to grieve, one turn to plan.
“The real question,” Petyr said to her that very evening in his solar, indecently merry, “is how to get a Stark maiden’s cloak made without anyone realising the significance.”
“Why father,” Sansa had replied, pasting a sweet smile on her face, “I will make it myself, of course.”
He smiled back and touched her cheek and told her what a good girl she was, and when he finally dismissed her Sansa had to force herself not to run back to her rooms. She did not want to marry Harry, and she did not trust Petyr, and she had a dreadful cold feeling in the pit of her stomach that once the charade of her identity was revealed for what it was, any protection pretending to be Petyr’s daughter might have brought her would be at an end. She did not like the way he looked at her, like a predator.
Heart racing like the rapid drum of rain on the window, she closed and barred her door and paced about her room wringing her hands. It was the middle of winter. Running away by herself was out of the question, and she could not imagine anyone here would be inclined or even able to help her escape. There was only one possibility she could think of, but...
Well, what harm could it do, in the end? Either he would come, or he wouldn’t. If he didn’t, she would never have to face up to him. And if he did... she would cross that bridge at the river.
Sitting down before she could lose her nerve, Sansa closed her eyes and slipped into Sandor’s mind. He was at dinner, but she could see it was coming to an end. Sansa had not taken control of his body since realising that it really was him, but her sense of urgency eventually overrode her sense of propriety, and she forced him up and out of the hall. She could feel him fighting her as she made him walk to the island’s small library, and it was all she could do to stop him from pushing her out completely. I’m sorry, she tried to tell him, I’m so sorry, though she did not think he could hear her.
The library was deserted. Taking a candle, Sansa went to a bench and pulled over a sheaf of vellum and a pot of maester’s ink.
“What in the seven hells-“ Sandor ground out through gritted teeth and Sansa felt like crying, felt the tears gathering in Sandor’s eyes, felt his consternation at his own strange reaction. Reaching out she put her quill to the vellum.
‘Please,’ she wrote, the letters scratchy and uneven. She could feel Sandor’s heart thundering in his chest. He was still resisting her. ‘Let me explain,’ she added, forcing every letter onto the page. And finally, when that did not work, she added, ‘Sansa Stark.’
Minutely, she felt Sandor relinquish some ground. It was enough for her to write what she wanted him to do.
He came by boat, and by boat he took her away again. She thanked him and begged his forgiveness in turn, but two full days had passed and still he would not speak to her. At first, she felt miserable. Then, she started to feel angry. It bubbled under her skin at every glower he sent her way until her blood was boiling with it.
“Are you more upset that I took control of you, or that you couldn’t stop me?” she finally flared one afternoon. It was a beautiful, clear winter’s day, the sea was like a millpond and the wind was like knives. Sandor Clegane sat at the prow of the fishing boat, sharpening his sword on a whetstone, but at her sudden outburst he glanced up at her, the burnt side of his mouth twitching.
“Consider yourself lucky to be freed instead of cleaved in two as you deserve, unnatural girl,” he rasped. “They told me you’d magicked yourself out of King’s Landing, but I never thought to find it true.”
He had lowered his whetstone as he spoke and now stood, towering over her as he always had, a fierce look on his face.
“Oh, don’t give me that,” Sansa spat right back at him. “It isn’t like you’ve never made free with me before, or have you forgotten putting your sword to my neck on the battlements of Maegor’s?” she said, eyes flashing. “And what about the night of the Blackwater Battle?”
He stared at her for a long moment, expression unfathomable, before sheathing his sword. He bent to pick up the whetstone and put it away in a small leather pouch. When he spoke again he did not turn to face her, and so Sansa saw only the good side of his face.
“Why me?” he asked in a low voice.
Sansa looked at him and saw, perhaps for the first time, just a man. “I don’t know,” she said honestly. Tentatively she reached out a hand to his forearm, and was quietly pleased when he did not throw her off. “I didn’t mean to, if it’s any consolation.”
She saw his eyebrow rise in disbelief and he glanced down at her. “Seemed like you meant to in the library.”
Sansa felt her cheeks colour, but refused to look away. “Usually I didn’t mean to,” she amended.
He turned fully to face her once more and she looked up at him, the good side and the burnt. He had not had a looking glass in his cell on the island, and it shocked her to realise that she had missed his face. The whole of it.
“I could feel you inside my head,” he said then. “Didn’t know what it was until you told me, but looking back, I know when you were there.”
The look he gave her made her insides turn to lava, and she felt the colour in her cheeks deepen. Still she refused to look away.
“I made you do things to yourself,” she admitted, lowering her voice so that the sailor standing at the wheel would not overhear. “I did not realise at the time that it was you I was doing it to, but ultimately I suppose it makes little matter. I... violated you, and I am truly, deeply sorry.”
“Little bird,” Sandor said softly, “still so naïve after all this time.” He took her chin in his hand, despite the fact that she was already looking at him. “Are you going to make me amends, then?”
He was mocking her, Sansa knew, but she was in no mood for it. “If it please you, my lord,” she said boldly, and was satisfied to see the look of surprise on his face. His eyes travelled the length of her body, almost unconsciously, she thought, and then he smirked.
“Aye, I suppose you’ll feel free to stop me if it turns out I’m not to your liking.”
“I will,” Sansa said. “All the more reason to be gentle,” she added, before taking his hand and leading him belowdecks.
It had been nearly three years since he had last seen her, and in that time Sansa Stark had grown even more comely. She was tall for a girl, probably still growing, with rounded teats and what were starting to become full, womanly hips. And she would not stop kissing him, which slowed down the process of getting her naked, but he found he did not mind over much.
Gods, she was beautiful. The very thought that she would give herself to him willingly... After the library, it hadn’t taken him long to realise the strange dreams and stranger pleasures were her doing, insane as it seemed. He had wondered, at first, if it had been some revenge on him, intended to humiliate and expose, but here she was, making good on the promises she had been writing into his soul all this time. It occurred to him, as he knelt to untie the knot at the waist of her smallclothes, that he was possibly the only man in Westeros she could ever hope to give herself to without any risk of harm. In its own way that comforted him, though. He had spent most of his thirty-two years in this world honing himself into a weapon – he had killed in the hundreds and maimed many more, and he was not sure that he knew how to give pleasure without causing pain.
Sliding the silken garment from her hips, Sandor leant forward and kissed her soft skin, just below the navel, before burying his face in her maiden’s hair. She whimpered, tangling her fingers into his hair, holding him close.
“Sit,” he commanded, pushing her down onto the edge of the bed by her hips, before parting her thighs and exploring her with his tongue. She was flushed and panting when he finally noticed it, stroking her to wetness with his fingers – the little veil of flesh at her entrance. Sitting back on his heels he looked up at her.
“You didn’t tell me you were still a maid.”
Sansa looked back with glazed eyes, pupils huge and black in the dim light of her cabin. “Is it important?”
Sandor threw his head back and laughed. “Most ladies seem to think so, little bird.”
Sansa looked thoughtful for a moment and he took the opportunity to pull his tunic over his head. When he looked again he found her staring transfixedly at his bare torso. “Quite frankly,” she said, reaching out to touch the centre of his chest, running her fingers through the black hair there, “my maidenhead has caused me a lot of trouble and I would rather be rid of it.”
Sobering, Sandor stopped the movement of her hand by wrapping his own around her thin wrist. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said honestly. The instinct to protect her had first sparked in his chest the day he rode into Winterfell, no point in denying it anymore.
And, yes, while he’d been angry at the way she had used him for her own purposes, there was also no point in denying that he had liked giving up the control of his body to her, even if he hadn’t entirely realised that’s what it was. He was a second son and a Clegane to boot – he had been raised to follow. And the wish of all such men was that the one in control of him would be worth his loyalty. He thought, for Sansa, his loyalty might be the least of all the things he would end up giving her, but for tonight at least all she seemed to require of him was a good fucking.
“Little bird,” he rasped, not knowing how to suggest what was on his mind, but she seemed to grasp it nonetheless.
“Are you sure?” she asked dubiously, raising her free hand to his chest and toying with a nipple. “From what I can tell, when I leave my body to wear yours, I look as though I’m daydreaming. It might be a little... odd.”
She raised her eyes to meet his and gave him a long look before a smile began to tug at the corner of her mouth. “You want me to,” she murmured, “don’t you? You liked it.”
Sandor did not know how to answer her, and so he growled her name before kissing her hard, pushing her back onto the cot. She twined her arms and legs around him tightly, pushing her whole body against his, moaning and gasping into his mouth, and for a time he thought that she would not do it.
He was sucking on her neck with his hand between her legs when he felt her breath on the shell of his good ear. “You are sure?” she asked once more.
“Yes,” he breathed, a jolt of excitement searing straight to his cock. “Show me what you like.”
He felt it when she took him, both in her body and in his. She became limp in his arms, eyes open but distant, and the sensation in his chest he now knew to come from her bloomed into liquid heat. He felt it as she made to move his limbs, tentative at first, but more forceful as he gave up control.
He had been on all fours over her, kneeling between her spread thighs, and now Sansa sat him back a little, placing one hand on her own soft thigh and the other on his erection. He moaned when she stroked him, though it was impossible to tell whether it came from her or himself. His balls were tightening already and if she wasn’t careful he would soon not be able to take her, at least for another half an hour or so. She seemed to realise that, though, and slowed her strokes to little more than a tantalising brush of the hand, before releasing his cock and touching her fingers to her clit.
That she would feel his pleasure he had expected. That he could feel hers was a surprise. It was more distant than his own, less urgent, but as she stroked herself gently in small circles with his hand, he could feel the warm ache between her legs building. Sansa bent him back over, then, and put his mouth to suckling a teat. Her body arched into him and he felt her control of his body waver for a moment before she flooded his senses once more.
It was a different sensation to before. She had clearly not used the full extent of her ability on him, or perhaps the distance had lessened the effect, but as she moved him around, taking his cock once more to position him at her entrance, Sandor felt as though she were not only possessing him from the inside, but surrounding him too. He felt somehow wrapped up in her, a terrible lightness close to freedom that squeezed his heart painfully.
He felt the sharp sting when she pushed him into her, alongside his own pleasure, and knowing she felt both too made it easier to accept. She took it slowly at first, and then, when the burn receded, she used his hands to raise her buttocks and the change in angle as she thrust into herself gave rise to a sudden, shocking stab of heat. That was when she tumbled out of him, falling back to her own body with a sound like a scream, her muscles contracting around him as she came. He was not long in following her.
The cot was too narrow for two, and too small in general for him, and so at her urging they ended up on the floor, atop the blankets, sharing a pillow. Sansa lay half on top of him, one leg hooked possessively over his own, her teats pressed delightfully into his chest, stroking his shoulder with the arm flung across his torso. Her hair fanned out behind her and Sandor buried his fingers in it, wrapping his other hand around her thigh.
“Will you stay with me, when we land at White Harbour?” she asked.
He should say no. His presence would do nothing for her long-term prospects, mainly because he suspected himself capable of running through any potential suitors. Plus it was the middle of winter, and raising an army to retake Winterfell would be hellishly difficult, not to mention the fighting itself. But the fact was she had taken him just as definitively as he had taken her, and he knew he would never be able to let her go again.
“I’ll stay with you until the end of the world, Sansa,” he said, and felt her smile against his skin.
“Good,” she said, squeezing him lightly. “Good.”