She grows better by the day. But there are still moments when Sansa's gaze will shift out of focus, when she will fail to respond to her own name, when she will vanish inside herself to a place that she cannot describe in words, a place that Robb will never understand.
But Jaime Lannister...for some godsforsaken reason, he seems to understand.
Robb feels his jaw tighten beneath his beard as he watches the Kingslayer place his one remaining hand on Sansa's shoulder. He sits quietly at her side, his thumb rubbing circles in the juncture between her neck and collarbone, whispering words in her ear that Robb cannot decipher.
A few moments pass, and the light returns to Sansa's beautiful blue eyes. She turns her head to look at Jaime, and her face splits with a beatific smile as she lifts her hand to cup his cheek. There's a tenderness between Robb's sweet little sister and this vile man, a bond through shared experience, something to which Robb will never belong.
Jaime brushes a wayward strand of ruddy hair out of Sansa's eyes, and Robb's stomach twists until he's sure he will vomit.
Later that day, they stop to make camp in a wooded area beside a pond. After he finishes a letter to Jeyne and sends it off with an envoy, Robb walks to the tiny lake, hoping to find the water clear enough to drink.
A blur of red and gold against the trunk of a tree; Robb stiffens and clenches his fist around the pommel of his sword. Slowly, quietly, he steps forward.
Sansa and the Kingslayer sit on the hard ground with several strips of damp cloth between them. Robb watches his sister lift the pieces one by one and fasten them around Jaime's left wrist. He knows without seeing that the other man has an ugly red gash there- he'd ventured too close to Grey Wind earlier in the day and had received a harsh nip as a reward.
"It's naught but a scratch," the Kingslayer's low voice rumbles. But Sansa only shakes her head and continues to place the bandages.
"It's a scratch now, and I'd rather it not turn into anything worse." She dips the last bandage in a mug of liquid before she starts to wrap. "Please try not to upset Grey Wind again."
"Upset him? That mongrel tried to savage me for merely breathing in his direction-"
"Jaime. Please." She finishes tying the final bandage, and she brings her face close to Jaime's, a soft smile on her lips.
"Doesn't that feel better?"
"As you say, my lady." He leans forward until his forehead barely brushes Sansa's...she closes her eyes and tilts her head...
With a loud stomp and cough, Robb blusters into the clearing, greeting the startled pair with a curt nod before turning his back on them to fill his water flagon.
On the way back to camp, Robb kills a plump rabbit and places it in his rucksack. Grey Wind is very fond of rabbit meat, and the treat is well-deserved.
Sansa has a tent all to herself, and Jaime and Robb quarrel over who should occupy the adjacent one. When the girl lightly suggests that they share, Jaime scoffs and shakes his head. But as little as he likes the idea of breathing the same air as the Kingslayer, Robb sees merit in the notion. He's learned from hard experience of Jaime's skill and cunning, and if the man tries to flee from the King in the North this time, he may not leave alone. Best to keep an eye on him, to keep him close.
Jaime stirs in his cot; after everything he's endured, Robb never expects to sleep soundly again, and he wakes at the slightest hint of noise. He peers over at the golden-haired man, who twists his bedlinens around his legs and murmurs something in a low, purring tone.
It's the same word, again and again- two syllables, both beginning with a hissing sound. A twist of revulsion assaults Robb's stomach- he's dreaming that way about his own sister...
But then the words come louder and quicker...and clearer...
A hot burn of rage bursts in Robb's belly and chest and head, and he reaches for the long dagger he keeps beneath his pillow. He bares his teeth in as vicious a snarl as any Grey Wind could give before sliding from his cot and stepping across the tent, the blade of the knife glinting silver and white in the faint moonglow.