Actions

Work Header

The Sweetest Thing There Is

Chapter Text

Chapter One – Fuck the King

SANDOR

“…Fuck the Kingsguard… fuck the city… fuck the King!” the Hound spits out at the Imp and Joffrey before yanking another wineskin from some Lannister ser and storming back towards the Red Keep. More specifically towards a certain gilded cage within Maegor’s Holdfast.

Gods that felt bloody brilliant! The look on Joffrey’s face was pure gold. Lannister gold, at that! Finally admitting aloud how he feels about the King and his buggering Kingsguard is something the Hound has dreamt of doing for years. Ever since Cersei and Joffrey plucked the first feather out of the Little Bird’s wings. That was the day they ordered her direwolf killed on their way back to King’s Landing from Winterfell. Part of her died that day.

The Hound knew the very moment Joff started charming the Little Bird that she was doomed to suffer his every twisted desire. The Little Bird was enamored with the golden prince and chirped all of the pretty little courtesies a highborn maiden was trained to do by equally maidenly Septas.

While King Robert was still alive, Joff was all smiles and praises to the naïve Little Bird, and she fell for him hard. It wasn’t until the hunting accident with the boar that killed King Robert that Joffrey started showing his true colors. Being Joff’s sworn shield since he was just a princely pup let him see the boy in all his devious glory long before his self-absorbed mother ever became suspicious.

The boy was a sweet child at first, believe it or not. It wasn’t until Joff was about eleven years old that the boy’s evil tendencies started to rear their all too familiar head. The Hound recognized the warning signs as he had seen them himself once a long time ago. The very same warning signs were there in his own home as a child.

The mutilated dead bodies of animals, oftentimes dogs and cats, would often turn up around Clegane Keep. The poor things were very clearly tortured before being killed. He knew that only one person in his household would dare do such cruel things—Gregor Clegane, known as The Mountain that Rides—his very own brother.

 

He cannot count how many times he has had to dispose of the mutilated carcasses of Joff’s experiments just as the Hound’s father always tried to hide away Gregor’s atrocities. Quite a number of Joff’s victims were the remnants of little Prince Tommen’s cats.

Joffrey and Tommen were about as different as siblings as the Little Bird was from her wolf-bitch younger sister, Arya Stark. The Hound and the Mountain are very different from one another as well, but not nearly as different as the Starks’ and Baratheons’. Gregor and I are both monsters, true enough; just I am the lesser of the two evils. I may enjoy killing, but at least I am not a buggering rapist!

 

The Hound tried to warn both King Robert and Queen Cersei countless times about the dead animals that began trailing behind in Joff’s wake, but King Robert could never tear his attention away from whatever whore or kitchen wench had the misfortune to catch his eye. Queen Cersei was too busy trying to keep up appearances as the perfect golden queen with equally perfect golden whelps to really care what Joff did; so long as the Hound could dispose of the evidence discreetly, of course. Gods forbid it get out that Joff was destined to become another Mad King! Too late, that! he scoffs to himself.

 

As he reaches the serpentine stairs of the Red Keep, the Hound finally allows himself a moment to catch his breath as he was already exhausted beyond belief when he abandoned his post. He knows that he will be labeled a craven and a deserter for leaving his post and a traitor for telling the King off, but after losing half of his men and horses during his third and final sortie, plus the added stress of the bloody Imp using wildfire against Stannis’ forces, something inside the Hound snapped. He couldn’t stand the battlefield any longer. I tucked tail and ran. Running to hide behind a maiden’s skirt, he thinks inwardly, belittling himself as he always does.

 

The regular fire from the battle was bad enough to get him unnerved; however, the very moment he saw those unmistakable green flames and watched in horror as one of his men literally melted right before his very eyes, he was instantly transported back to his bedchamber at Clegane Keep. The burning flesh of his man was suddenly his own. His man’s screams were so intense they were making his own throat tight and sore. Those screams, he realized, were his—his man was already gone. No. The Hound was no longer on the battlefield on the banks of the Blackwater Bay. He was being held down in a brazier by his very own brother.

 

The Hound shakes his head to rid himself of the memories from his ruined childhood. He may have abandoned the King and the battle, but he has a new purpose and forces his feet to march down the serpentine towards Maegor’s Holdfast and the Little Bird’s chamber.

He had sworn to himself that he would do whatever was in his power to ensure the Little Bird’s safety after Stannis takes King's Landing. He knows it is only a matter of hours before King’s Landing falls, and the memories and stories of what happened to the Targaryen’s during King Robert’s Rebellion has him terrified for his Little Bird. My Little Bird? Right… dream on ugly arsed, scarred up damn dog! he silently muses, laughing at his wishful thinking.

The Hound knows how his very own brother raped and murdered Princess Elia Martell, the wife of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, before brutally murdering her two small children. The same thing will not happen to Sansa Stark; not my Little Bird! The Hound doesn’t even notice that he referred to her as his once again though he might not care all that much if he did at this point.

While Gregor might still be in the Riverlands pillaging and plundering on behalf of the Lannisters, he knows very well that his Little Bird is still in danger from these so-called honorable sers and their bloodlust. Seven hells, I might better calm my own bloodlust down before reaching her, or it will be me hurting her instead of protecting her! Fuck! Wine. He needs more wine before standing guard outside his Little Bird’s cage for the inevitable sacking of the city. Stannis himself may not hurt her, but he knows that as soon as his men find the Little Bird, her immense beauty topped with their bloodlust would be a disastrous combination. Like adding oil to the fire, he thinks with a deep chuckle reverberating from his chest.

 

Deciding to swing by the kitchens for more wine he notices how eerily quiet and empty Maegor’s Holdfast is. He knows all of the able-bodied men are expected to be out on the battlefield to die for a cause that most could not care any less about, but he is surprised to see that most of the servants are missing as well. He knows most of them would love to be hiding for their own safety, or try spending their possible last night alive with their loved ones; however, Queen Cersei will demand the Keep to be fully staffed to wait on her hand and foot. Selfish fucking cunt!

Not really giving a rat’s arse where all the servants are, he finds his way down to the wine cellars off of Maegor’s kitchens and immediately searches for his beloved Dornish Red. All a man needs… he smirks to himself. Collecting three wineskins, he quickly turns on his heel to make his way towards his Little Bird’s cage.

 

Finishing the first wineskin in just a handful of quaffs, he tosses the empty skin to the ground and unstops the second for a deep quaff without ever missing a step. He is almost halfway to her chamber when he finally runs into someone. Ser Meryn fucking Trant! Seven bleeding buggering hells!

“Hound! Why aren’t you out fighting for your King?”

“Might could ask you the same thing, Ser Meryn. You are Kingsguard after all; shouldn’t you be guarding your King instead of wandering the corridors of Maegor’s?”

“Where do you think I’m headed, Hound? The King sent me back to look for anyone not out fighting. So, I repeat, why are you not out on the battlefield?”

“Just so happens I’ve been ordered to protect the King’s former betrothed from other noble sers such as yourself! The city is going to fall. Soon. Don’t got to remind you of what happened the last time King’s Landing was sacked, do I?”

“You ought to know best, Hound. It was your brother who raped and murdered the Martell cunt, after all. Might be that you’re hoping to repeat history with the pretty little Stark bitch!” Trant snickers back, immediately regretting his poor choice of words.

In one swift movement, the Hound drops his remaining wineskins and is on Trant with the point of his dagger digging into his throat. “Watch your fucking tongue, Trant, or you’ll soon know how Payne feels.” The Hound’s jaw grinds as he feels the left corner of his scarred mouth violently twitching in his ever increasing anger. He grins at Trant the way he knows can always make the bravest knights piss themselves.

Mere moments later Trant gives out a small, pathetic, whimper and gulps causing the apple of his throat to get pricked by the Hound’s dagger. Seeing the fear flood his eyes, and the thin trail of blood trickle from the point of his dagger, the Hound presses it ever so slightly deeper to make it crystal clear that his threats are not to be taken lightly!

It works.

Suddenly the unmistakable stench of urine begins to waft up through his nostrils, causing the Hound to bark a viciously cruel laugh all the while twisting his dagger slightly, deepening the hole forming is Trant’s throat.

“S-s-sorry, Hound,” he stutters, “puh-pl-please. I know you hate the Mountain. I-I was only making a jape. I swear it!” he whines to the Hound’s chest seeing as he is nearly a good two heads shorter than him. It wasn’t Trant mentioning Gregor that pissed the Hound off; it was the way that the whoreson talked about his Little Bird that caused his ire to rise.

Relief floods Trant’s beady little tear-filled eyes as the dagger is slowly eased away from his sweat streaked grime coated throat. He stumbles when the Hound releases the death grip he has on the scruff of his neck making him laugh once again, knowing how it makes him look even more frightening. Pleased with the outcome, the Hound sheathes his dagger and steps back from the buggering coward. And I’m the one who’ll go down as bloody craven!

“Bugger off before I decide that your apology is shite!” he barks at Trant before stooping for his wineskins and continuing his way towards the Little Bird’s cage.

“Oh, ser Meryn? You might want to tend to your armor soon so that your piss don’t rust it over!” he mockingly bellows at Trant over his shoulder from where he is half way down the corridor.

 

When he finally reaches the Little Bird’s chamber, he is finally beginning to feel his bloodlust diminish thanks to the wine. He takes the last quaff from the second wineskin he acquired from the kitchens and tosses it to the ground.

 

Propping himself up on her door, he debates with himself on whether he should let her know he is standing guard; or better yet if he should just stay with her inside her chamber. No doubt, if word gets out to Queen Cersei that the Hound deserted her precious Joffrey and is instead seen outside of the King’s former betrothed’s door, she would have Ser Ilyn put his head on a spike immediately.

I know my head is hideous, but I would like to keep it attached to my neck! Deciding that it is safer for both he and his Little Bird if he stays with her, he raps three strong knocks on her door before quickly realizing that he is not at all prepared for what to say to the girl to let her know he is trying to keep her from getting raped and murdered.

“Lady Sansa, it’s Clegane; I’m here on orders from the King,” he uncharacteristically lies, and yet proud of how he didn’t slur his speech in his early state of inebriation. He hates lying to the Little Bird as lying always seems to leave such a foul taste in his mouth. Besides, it is highly unlikely that Lady Sansa would believe the Hound’s guarding her was of his own idea and choosing, and not something orchestrated by the Small Council in order to make Joffrey or Cersei look benevolent.

She does not answer, so he knocks once again. “Little Bird? Open up; I’ve been sent to be your guard tonight.”

Still no answer.

Where in the seven hells is she? Panic is beginning to creep up inside of him now. What if I am too late? Ser Meryn did come from this direction….

Suddenly filling with dread, he tries the handle of her door. The door is unbarred. I shouldn’t just barge into her room, but what if she is hurt?

Deciding he should take the chance of her becoming angry at his intrusion, he needs to make sure she is safe.

She’s terrified of me; she would never feel safe with me regardless of how many times I’ve tried helping her. Fuck it! The Little Bird’s just got to learn to trust me. If I wanted to hurt her, I could have done so years ago!

He opens her door a sliver and peeks inside. “Little Bird, you alright?” he asks, trying to disguise his ever increasing concern as indifference. She still does not answer. Seven buggering hells—where is that girl?

As he is starting to really worry now, he takes a quick look behind him to see if the corridor is still clear. It is. He swiftly enters her chamber and quietly closes her door behind him.

Surveying his surroundings in her chamber he notices two things: one, his Little Bird is nowhere to be seen, and two, there are candles still lit and a fire going in the fireplace. He also notices that her bed hasn’t been slept in yet, either, despite the fact that it has already been turned down for the night and waiting for her. So, she must intend to return soon.

 

Suddenly an overwhelming feeling of relief floods him at the remembrance of Cersei ordering all of the highborn ladies to shelter with her during the duration of the battle.

She is safe. She has no need of me protecting her…. Why this silent admission should make his chest ache though, he knows not. It’s not like Sansa Stark cares about the King’s hideous dog.

Former dog, he reminds himself, knowing good and well that he will have to flee King’s Landing before morning comes if he wishes to keep his ugly, scarred head attached to his neck. Where he will go, though, he knows not.

 

He knows he cannot go back to Clegane Keep, even if he wanted to; it belongs to Gregor, after all. Aside from that, though, he simply has no desire to live amongst the ghosts of the family he failed to keep safe. His father, Daryle, he does not mourn for—he never showed much love to him, anyway. Lying about how he received his burn scars so that his precious Gregor would still be knighted had ended any love he had for his father, anyway. No. It is his gentle and kind Lady Mother, Eleanor, and his beloved sister, Elandria, who the Hound still mourns for, nearly twenty years and sixteen years after their deaths.

His mother died first. He was too young, then, to understand how she died; he thinks he may have only been about four years old at the time of her death. When she died, he was told by both his father and the Keep’s maester that she became very sick with some mysterious illness. However, as he grew older, his sister confessed that their beloved mother was killed by none other than Gregor.

Elandria told him that Gregor punched their mother in her stomach one evening, as she was trying so desperately to keep him from hurting her two youngest children. She did not die right away, either; she suffered from internal bleeding and died about a moon’s turn after Gregor struck her.

Once again, his father covered up Gregor’s violence by saying that their mother had fallen down the stairs while carrying something large, and damaged her stomach upon hitting the floor.

 

His older sister was two and ten when Gregor bestowed upon the Hound his infamous visage; all because he wanted to play with a fucking toy knight his brother was too old for when he received it. It took three grown men to pull Gregor off of him and Elandria had to be the one to lift her crumpled, screaming, baby brother out of the brazier, as their father was more concerned with pacifying his future ser than tending to his youngest who just had half of his face melted off.

 

The pain was agonizing. He wanted to die. He wished for death and even begged and pleaded the maester to give him a lethal dose of Sweetsleep. It was Elandria who talked him out of wishing for death; though she just barely managed that feat.

The very moment Gregor shoved his face into the burning coals of the brazier, his hopes and dreams burned away along with his flesh. All the Hound had ever dreamt of was to someday become a brave knight and rescue a beautiful maiden who would fall hopelessly in love with him.

Now, women cannot even stand to look at him. Even whores, who are professionals, cannot bear to look upon his face while he fucks them. They immediately get on their hands and knees and make him take them from behind, like the ugly damn dog he is. If that wasn’t degrading enough, they always charge him a bit more than the other men, as well.

He has never even been kissed. At seven and twenty, the Hound has all but given up on ever experiencing that act. Whores always charge extra for kissing, anyway.

One time, though, he got up the nerve to pay the extra Silver Stag for the whore he had just fucked to give him his first kiss. There the Hound was, at two and twenty years of age, and he had to pay to be kissed for the first time.

The thought of having to pay for something as trivial as a kiss was embarrassing enough to him, but he wanted to be able to pretend just once that a woman was actually attracted to him; not merely fucking him for his coin. When he handed the whore the coin and quite shyly told her of his request, she looked absolutely revolted. He did his best to ignore the look of horror on her face, though, until she began to lean towards him.

The whore was only a couple of inches away from his face when she retched right there in his lap at the sight of his half-ruined lips and the piece of bone that shows on the left side of his jaw. He was so humiliated and hurt that he didn’t even bother taking the offered refunded coin; he instead stormed out of the brothel, never returning to that particular establishment.

Once the Hound reached his chamber that same night and caught a glimpse of himself in the only small looking glass he allowed that hung on his wall, he instantly shattered it with his fist, slicing himself deeply in the process. He has never looked upon his face in a looking glass again. He knows he is ugly; why remind himself of it every day?

 

Every so often, when the Hound would be alone in his chamber at night drinking his beloved Dornish Red, he would think back and remember how his sweet sister used to try to comfort him.

As a young boy, he often cried on his sister’s shoulder about his broken dreams, and how he knew he was destined to be alone his entire life. Elandria, ever the optimist, though, would always tell him that she just knew that one day he will meet a very special maiden who will see through his scars to the man hidden beneath.

“Who knows baby brother, mayhap she hasn’t even been born yet? Or mayhap she just needs a handsome knight, with scars, to come and rescue her?” she would tell him with a sincere, loving smile.

However, he would always respond through his tears and sobs with “but I am a hideous monster, Lanny; Gregor made sure of that! Who could ever love someone as ugly as me?” Elandria always seemed to know, somehow, just the right thing to say to him in order to instill a bit of hope.

“Sweet brother, I promise you that there will be a very special lady in your future. She may not love you because you are handsome; however, you will be handsome to her—in her eyesbecause of her love for you!”

He always tried to believe his older sister; she never lied to him, after all. They both hated liars.

 

After Gregor came home from some minor battle, one day, with his bloodlust up, he ran into sweet Elandria who quickly became his next victim. Gregor raped and murdered their very own sister.

When he found Elandria’s bloody and broken body at the edge of the Godswood of Clegane Keep that very same night, he lost his faith in the Gods and any belief in his own happiness. The only person who ever had any faith that he would find a true love died, and with her went any of his own hope.

 

As if the Hound’s life couldn’t get any more miserable, he just had to go and fall in love with the King’s betrothed.

Sansa Stark is by far the most beautiful woman in all of Westeros; mayhap even the entire known world. She will never look at him the way he wants her to. The way he needs her to.

It hurts him more than he will ever admit.

To try to distance himself from his self-inflicted heartache, he always growls and barks harsh realities at her, to keep her scared of him. The fear in her eyes makes it so much easier to keep his hopes down that she could ever care for him the way he does her.

However, he has noticed that the last year and a half, or so, she has not shown nearly as much fear for him as she used to. Either I’m getting softer or she’s getting tougher; which, though, I know not.    

 

Knowing that he must flee King’s Landing before the battle is over, he decides that he cannot leave without seeing his Little Bird, one last time. He knows the chance of him ever crossing her path again will be slim. Hells, he might even get himself killed while on the run! He has to see her one last time if for nothing more than to commit her to memory. He desperately needs to look into those beautiful cerulean blue eyes of hers. He wants nothing more than to be allowed to run his fingers through her fiery red hair; the only flames he has ever wanted near him.

He would love to be able to hold his Little Bird in his arms; just once. To actually tell her how he truly feels about her. But he knows he can’t ever do that. He won’t. Why make his leaving any more painful for himself? Besides, she would probably be disgusted to know that the King’s ugly, scarred dog is in love with her.

Or worse yet, she might even laugh at him. He doesn’t think sweet Sansa Stark—his kind-hearted Little Bird—could ever be that cruel, but it is still a risk he is not willing to take. A dog’s got to have his pride, after all.

 

In his dreams, however, is another story altogether. He dreams of her often and every time he does, she is his. She chooses him. She always tells him that she loves him more than anything, and that she thinks he is the most handsome man she has ever seen. Just like my sweet sister promised, so many times.

During these dreams, he actually believes her, too. She always says these things to him with such strong conviction that he cannot help but believe her. She holds him so very tight, never really wanting to let him go. She passionately kisses his half-ruined lips, and even kisses and caresses his scars, which she also tells him she adores. The Little Bird of his dreams always whispers her devotion to him in the hole where his ear should be, never once looking disgusted by the deformity.

He lovingly fucks her in his dreams, so many times, and quite often they even marry, and she happily grows heavy with his pup. He has never been as happy and content as he is in his dreamlife with Sansa. He knows they are only dreams, of course; this isn’t exactly the kind of life meant for the likes of him, after all. These dreams with his Little Bird are simply wishful thinking; nothing more. He knows they will never come to fruition, but yet he still cherishes them all the same.

 

Looking around his Little Bird’s chamber, he tries to find a place where he can rest and await her return. Surely she won’t stay with Cersei until morning—they both hate each other with a passion.

Noticing two small, dainty chairs positioned before the lit fireplace, he quickly realizes that he would probably break one of the chairs with his weight. Looking back over towards her bed, he decides that he can sit there until she returns. Sure he is filthy and covered in smoke, grime, blood, and no telling what else, but her handmaiden can always change her linens before she retires for the night.

As soon as he sits down on the side of her bed, her scent completely engulfs him. Taking in a deep breath, he realizes that her linens must not have been changed since she last slept in them. Desperately wanting to remember her scent, he lays down on her bed and buries his face into her pillow, breathing her in. Gods she smells so damn good. Lavender with just a hint of lemon, he chuckles to himself, knowing how much she loves her beloved lemon cakes.

He then clutches her pillow to his chest and wraps his arms around it. If he closes his eyes, he can at least pretend that he is finally getting to hold his Little Bird in his arms.

Before too long, he drifts off into the most peaceful sleep he has had in quite a while, dreaming of his Little Bird once again.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Two – A Heartfelt Request

SANSA

Sansa sits with the other highborn ladies in the Queen’s Ballroom in Maegor’s Holdfast, alternating her attention between looking out the window at the battle in full force, to glancing over at the Queen and Ser Ilyn Payne.

Sansa knows the truth of why Ser Ilyn is here, and it has nothing to do with King’s Landing potentially falling and the lie Queen Cersei told her. The lie that Ser Ilyn will ‘mercy kill’ all the noblewomen to keep them from being raped and murdered by Stannis’ men. No. That is not the real reason why he is here, standing like a silent gargoyle behind the Queen. He is here for me and me alone. Should the city fall, Joffrey will want her head on a spike, and his mother will oblige him. Adding insult to injury is that Ser Ilyn would be using the same sword that he took her father’s head with—Ice, her father’s greatsword.

Ser Jaime Lannister somehow managed to escape from her brother’s custody, so Sansa is no longer needed as a bargaining chip. Sansa overheard something about Ser Jaime being visited by a Lannister cousin who was to see to his condition and then report back to Queen Cersei; but, Ser Jaime managed to kill both the cousin and the man standing guard, and was able to escape. Supposedly some large female knight is said to be out looking for the Kingslayer, as the Lannisters never let Sansa’s family know that Ser Jaime made it back to them. That way they can do with me what they please.

 

Being the daughter and sister of traitors, King Joffrey has renounced his betrothal to her, in order to secure a match with Lady Margaery Tyrell, three moons ago; just in time to secure the Tyrell forces for the battle. Of this turn of events, Sansa is thrilled. However, now her usefulness to the Lannisters is gone. Sansa knows that Joffrey only keeps her alive because he enjoys torturing her. She is terrified, though, as she knows it is only a matter of time before Joffrey tires of tormenting her, and just murders her outright.

I’m sure he will take my maidenhead before he takes my head, too. No! She won’t allow that to happen! She owes it to her father to not give up, no matter what. This is why she must flee her gilded cage and escape Joffrey and Cersei. Tonight!

 

Cersei was already well into her cups by the time Sansa arrived to wait out the battle. Sansa notices that the Queen has started to drink a lot heavier than she used to. She has watched her drink four and a half goblets of wine since she has been here, and that has only been for about an hour. No telling how many she had before Sansa got here. I bet she could outdrink the Hound by now!

Oh, my poor Hound, I hope you are alright. The wildfire must be terrifying you; please be safe. Sansa knows the story of how the Hound got his infamous scars; he had told her one evening during the Tourney of the Hand, in honor of her late Lord Father. She has seen him react fearfully whenever any kind of fire comes close to him during the last three years she has been an ‘honored guest’ of the Lannisters.

This wildfire must be worse than regular fire. I’ve never heard of a fire that burns green and can melt stone! Wishing she could do something to help him, she silently begins to pray to the Seven. Mother, please look after the Hound and keep him safe. Help ease his fear. Warrior, please guide his sword and help him stay brave and strong. He may be one of the best warriors in all of Westeros, but this wildfire could be his downfall.

Suddenly, a flash of red and gold darts past Sansa’s peripheral vision, interrupting her prayers. She turns just in time to see the Queen running from the Ballroom, essentially abandoning the terrified noblewomen under her care. Hoping now would be a good time to get back to her chamber, change into her travel clothes, and grab her last bags, she looks up to see the cold unfeeling eyes of Ser Ilyn, staring at her. Immediately crestfallen, Sansa fears that her chance to escape is diminishing by the minute. I wouldn't be surprised if Joffrey’s orders were to behead me regardless of the city’s plight, Sansa thinks, causing a chill to shiver all the way down her spine.

She feels her warm tears beginning to trail down her cheeks as she looks back out the window towards the scene of the battle in the not so far distance. Knowing she cannot really make out any details from where she is, she desperately begins scanning over the men fighting, looking for a particularly unique helm.

As she concentrates on trying to focus her eyes, she nearly misses the gentle tug on her sleeve. Quickly whipping her head around fearing it is Ser Ilyn, she is relieved when she comes face to face with her friendly, but sassy, handmaiden, Shae. “My Lady, it is time for you to fly,” Shae whispers in her endearing exotic Lorathi accent.

Relief and panic both crowd her at once, though, when she frantically tells Shae that Ser Ilyn is watching her like a hawk. “He’ll never let me leave,” she says, sounding completely broken.

Shae just smiles mischievously at Sansa and tells her “do not worry your pretty head about him, my Lady; he will be quite distracted for a while.”

Curious, Sansa turns her head slightly towards where Ser Ilyn is standing and blushes at what she sees. There is a whore caressing the man’s chest and… oh, Gods, she’s touching his manhood!

Blushing even more furiously, Shae simply giggles at the embarrassed girl and hands her a cloak. “Here my Lady, put this on. It will help hide you. Pull the hood up over your hair.” Shae then gently grabs Sansa’s hand and gives her a little squeeze before urging her towards the door. Looking back towards Ser Ilyn once more, afraid he will see her leaving, she is shocked to see that the whore has not only guided him to a back corner of the Ballroom, but she has even turned him so that his back is facing towards Sansa.

 

As Sansa and Shae slip out of the Ballroom unseen, Shae spins Sansa around. “Listen to me, my Lady. Run as fast as you can to your chamber. Bar your door and do not open it for anyone but me. Got it?”

“But, aren’t you co…” Sansa tries to plead before her handmaiden cuts her off.

“I have one more important thing to get for you. I will be there a few minutes after you. I promise! You are leaving tonight,” the foreign woman tells her. Quickly, Sansa nods her head and turns on her heel to make a mad dash towards the stone, circular stairway leading to the floor where her chamber is.

 

Taking the stairs two at a time she reaches the top faster than she thought she could. Leaning against the cool stone wall for a few heartbeats, she allows herself a moment to catch her breath. She can see the door to her bedchamber from where she is, so she peels herself away from her perch, and runs the short distance in record time. She opens her door, slips in, and closes it behind her, though, much harder than she intended to. She then bars her door as Shae had instructed her.

 

“Little Bird? I knew you’d come.” Sansa jumps with a start as she hears that all too familiar deep raspy voice of Sandor Clegane.

Immediately relieved knowing that the Hound is safe, and away from the fighting and the fire, she mentally thanks each of the Gods for protecting him; even thanking the Old Gods.

Slowly turning around, she looks at the man who has become a huge comfort to her over the last few years. “Sandor?” she asks him, hoping he will figure out that she is trying to ask him if anything is wrong. Sansa begins looking him over for any obvious injuries. When she looks back at his face, though, she gasps!

“My Lord; you’ve been hurt!” she worriedly says as she hurries over to where he is sitting on the edge of her bed. She takes a closer look at the slowly bleeding wound running diagonally across the right side of his forehead. The man is filthy and his face is coated with dirt, sweat, and dried blood, from him or men he has killed, she knows not.

She then makes the short distance to her side table next to her bed, and takes the ewer pouring some water into the basin. She grabs the washing cloth that was left there for her to wash her face in the morning, and carries it along with the water basin back to Sandor, setting it next to him on her bed. Wringing out the excess water from the cloth, she gently begins washing the remnants of the battle from his face.

Sansa isn’t quite sure, but she thinks she may be feeling him lean ever so slightly into her hand as she runs the cloth over his scars; though she wishes she was caressing him, instead. My poor Hound, I don’t think anyone has ever shown you any kindness, have they? “Do you have any more injuries, my Lord?” she asks, rinsing the cloth out in the water basin and continuing her ministrations.

He sighs, “how many times do I have to tell you, Little Bird? I’m no buggering lord. Not a damned ser either! You just called me by my given name only a moment ago; use it, Clegane, or Hound!”

“Yes se--Sandor,” she answers back, feeling her cheeks warm a bit at the realization that she loves the way his name rolls off her tongue. She repeats her question. “Sandor… are you injured anywhere else?”

“No, Little Bird; I’m alright,” he answers, sounding exhausted beyond words.

“Well, this cut doesn’t appear to be very deep. It shouldn’t leave a scar,” she tells him as she washes the cut and gently examines it, closely.

Sandor barks out a loud mocking laugh, “oh, no! I can’t dare have any scars on my face; that may make me ugly!”

Realization dawns on her face, making her immediately regret how that may have sounded to him. She quickly stammers through an apology, “I… I’m s-so, so sorry, Sandor! I didn’t mean it like that! Please believe me!”

Oh, Gods; no Sandor, I love your face…. I love your scars! Sansa wishes nothing more than to be able to tell him that. And to touch his face. She wants to be able to gently caress his burnt cheek, but she can’t. She can never do that.

Instead, she settles for reaching out and lightly resting her hand on his left armored shoulder. Sansa watches his face for any response and notices that his good brow furrows at her touch. She quickly removes her hand as if she touched something hot. Of course he doesn’t want my touch. I’m just some stupid little bird to him. On top of that, now I’ve gone and hurt his feelings. Any remaining hope she has about Sandor possibly returning her love, is gone.

 

After few quiet moments, they both jump at the sound of a loud explosion and ear piercing screams of both horses and men echoing throughout the Keep. The eerie glow of fire lights up Sansa’s entire chamber, as if it were midday. Sansa’s heart is pounding furiously as she runs to her window and fearfully looks for the source, praying the building is not on fire.

She lets out a sigh of relief, “it’s alright, Sandor; it’s on the other side of the dry moat. It won’t reach us.” Turning back to make sure he heard her, she sees that he is trembling, breathing heavily, and has gone pale. His eyes have opened wide and tears are welling up, beginning to trickle down his cheeks.

“Sandor? Are you alright?” she asks, her voice laden with concern.

“I’m sorry. No… please no! Gregor, I didn’t mean it.” Oh, Gods! I don’t think he’s in my chamber with me anymore; he’s back at his childhood home! The night he got burned!

“I’m sorry, Gregor! I’m so sorry. I’ll never touch it again. Please nooo.” Sansa’s heart shatters when she hears the pleading and screaming of a terrified little boy escaping the lips of the fiercest warrior in the Seven Kingdoms.

Sansa quickly, but cautiously, makes her way back to him, trying not to startle him.

“Sandor, it’s me, Sansa. You’re safe.” Noticing that he is still breathing heavily and his tears are falling faster now, she does the only thing she can think of to try soothing and comforting the large man. The same thing that her Lady Mother would do whenever she or her siblings had bad dreams.

Sansa steps closer to Sandor, stands between his knees, and carefully wraps her arms around his shoulders, drawing him near to her. Regretting that he still has his armor on, she lightly strokes the nape of his neck beneath his thin, sweat and grime coated black hair while whispering words of comfort to him.

“Shh… you’re alright, Sandor. Gregor is not here. He cannot hurt you," she whispers. "The fire won’t hurt you, Sandor. I have you. You’re safe now; I’ll keep you safe. I will not let the fire touch you Sandor, I promise!

My poor Hound; has anyone ever held you this way? I could be so good to you, Sandor, if you would only love me back. I would take care of you and comfort you; all the days of my life.

Still stroking his nape, Sansa begins to softly and quietly sing, hoping that her voice will help ease him out of his flashback, and bring him back to her. He is as taut as a bowstring. He must be so terrified!

 

“Gentle Mother, font of mercy,

Save our sons from war, we pray.

Stay the swords and stay the arrows,

Let them know a better day.”

 

Sansa suddenly feels Sandor beginning to relax a little. As she starts to sing the second verse, she feels him wrap his arms around her back in a tight embrace. I’m finally in his arms and getting to hold him; if only it were for a better reason. She slips her small hand down the back of his armor a bit, trying to touch any bit of his skin she can, in order to soothe him.

 

“Gentle Mother, strength of women,

Help our daughters through this fray.

Soothe the wrath and tame the fury,

Teach us all a kinder way.”

 

Sansa doesn’t want to leave him, but she cannot stay here another day. They are going to kill me! What if… mayhap I can ask him to come with me? She knows it is probably a futile attempt, but she will regret it forever if she doesn’t at least try! She loves him and would miss him way too much. Please, Gods; please help me convince Sandor to escape with me, Sansa silently prays to both the Old Gods and the New, while she sings the last verse of the Mother’s Hymn.

 

“Gentle Mother, font of mercy,

Save our sons from war, we pray.

Stay the swords and stay the arrows,

Let them know a better day.”

 

She feels Sandor let out a tremulous sigh and knows that he has calmed down considerably.

“Sorry, Little Bird. I… I’m alright. Don’t know what came over me.” Sansa can tell that Sandor does not want to admit that he was having a flashback, so she does not mention it. He probably feels like he is weak for having such, and mayhap even less of a man, which is a preposterous thought.

Sansa has stopped caressing his nape, but they both still have their arms wrapped around each other; though, unfortunately, not quite as tightly as before. It feels so perfectly right being held in his arms, and getting to hold him, too.

 

After enjoying a few moments of just holding him close, Sansa decides to tell Sandor of her plans for leaving.

“Sandor, I need to talk to you.” Sansa immediately misses his embrace as he let’s go of her and eases her back to look at her, though not ungently.

“Aye, Little Bird; I’m listening,” he responds, looking right into her eyes. Gods his eyes are beautiful; they are like liquid silver!

“I’m leaving, Sandor,” she states, matter-of-factly, awaiting any kind of response, though not sure what he will say.

“Leaving?” he asks back with his good brow slightly furrowed in confusion.

Smiling mischievously, she cannot help but tease, “now look who’s chirping back what he’s been told? Mayhap I should call you ‘Big Bird?’” Grinning wider now, she is relieved when he barks out a strong laugh, lightening the mood some.

“Mayhap you should, Little Bird,” he says as Sansa notices the amusement in his eyes making them sparkle. He is so beautiful when he smiles.

His smile begins to fade, though, when he clears his throat and tries again. “What is this nonsense about you leaving?”

Taking a deep calming breath, Sansa mentally steels herself as best she can and begins the most heartfelt request of her life. “I’m leaving King’s Landing. Tonight.”

Sansa composes her nerves and continues. “Before the battle is over, while everything is in chaos, your Little Bird will fly away from this gilded cage and head North, towards Winterfell. Towards home. I have to leave, Sandor. I am dead if I stay here! Both Joffrey and Cersei have as good as confirmed it.”

Sansa notices the usual rich silver hue of Sandor’s eyes deepen to an angry steel grey. “Stupid Little Bird!” he spits out at her. “You wouldn’t even make it out of Maegor’s on your own. How the hells you think you can make it out of the damned city, and then all the way to buggering Winterfell, with nothing but your innocent little wings to carry you? As you buggering Starks always like to remind everyone, winter is coming, after all! You would freeze before you ever made it to the Riverlands.”

She feels her tears welling up in her eyes, blurring her vision, but she wills them not to fall. “I know you think me stupid, Sandor. Everyone does. But, please listen to me. This isn’t some last minute idea of a bird-brained little girl. I have been planning my escape for well over three moons, now.”

She notices that Sandor looks a bit surprised by that. He truly does think me so stupid to try to run away on a whim, she thinks, feeling hurt by his lack of confidence in her.

“I have had help, too! Lord Tyrion has been helping me plan my route, and where I should stay, knowing that I’ll have to sleep in the woods and travel off of the Kingsroad.” Sansa notices Sandor’s eyes narrow and his jaw tighten, causing the scars on the side of his jaw to twitch, at the mere mention of Tyrion Lannister. “I know you hate Lord Tyrion, but even you must admit that he is nothing like the other Lannisters. He is the only Lannister to ever show any kindness to me," she tells him.

“My horse is already saddled, packed with all of my supplies and rations in my saddlebags; including a medical bag I… ‘acquired…’ from Maester Pycelle, in case of any accidents or emergencies. Everything is being held for me by Lord Tyrion’s squire, Podrick Payne, in an abandoned barn outside of the Gate of the Gods.” Sansa sees that Sandor is quite surprised by all of her planning.

“Shae, my handmaiden, has also been helping me prepare, Sandor. She has even taught me to use a dagger! I am wearing it, right now, on my hip,” she states, patting her right hip with her hand. Sansa thinks she sees a bit of amusement ghosting across Sandor’s features, mayhap even a bit of pride at the mention of her knowing how to handle a blade. “I am from the North, Sandor. My Lord Father has made sure we all learned basic survival skills!”

“Little Bird, you are not stupid—far from it, actually. I shouldn’t have called you that; it was wrong of me.” I don’t think he has ever apologized to anyone before.

“The fact that you have planned an escape proves that you are not stupid. But, be realistic, girl. How long do you think it would be before someone found a pretty little maiden, all alone in the woods, and ripe for the plucking?" He truthfully states.

"Or better yet, do you really think Joffrey and the Queen will be fine with you just wandering off from under their noses? They would chase you to the ends of the earth, simply because you giving them the slip makes them look weak!” He is right, of course. She knows he is right.

I have already thought of all of these outcomes, and many much worse. But, it wasn’t his neck Ser Ilyn was salivating over not even an hour ago!

Emotions getting the best of her, the tears she has desperately been holding back are now falling unbidden. “Sandor, please listen to me,” Sansa pleads to him.

“I know that I will more than likely get raped or killed during my attempt to leave. I know that there is a good chance that I will not even make it to the Riverlands before I am found by someone and brought back to Joffrey. However, I will be dead for sure by morning if I stay here. Joffrey has told me as such.”

Wiping her tears away, she tells Sandor of what Joffrey told her, just the night before. “When King’s Landing falls, Joffrey is going to have Ser Ilyn take my head, with my Lord Father’s own sword; just as they took his head," she sobs out. 

“I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he decides to take my head regardless of the battle, actually. I cannot stay here, Sandor. I owe it to my Lord Father to at least try to get out. I have to try!”

“Little Bir…” Sandor starts to respond, but Sansa silences him by placing her fingertips against his lips.

Taking several deep breaths to give herself strength, she begins the hardest part of this conversation.

“Come with me!”

Sansa notices sheer shock register in Sandor’s eyes. He certainly didn’t see that coming.

Hoping he won’t turn her down without at least considering her request, she continues, “I am not the only one who the Lannisters have mistreated; pardon my language, but they have treated you like shite, Sandor! You are nothing but an animal to them… a... a dog!”

“Aye, Little Bird; you've got the right of it there,” he snorts out in agreement.

“Aren’t you tired of putting up with Joffrey’s mistreatment?” she asks. “You’ve been so good to these people, for most of your life; and they repay you by mocking and ridiculing you! And Joffrey is just so cruel the way he speaks to you, and about you, behind your back!” Sansa knows she is laying it on thick, but she desperately wants Sandor to realize that he would be happier with the Starks than the Lannisters. And with me, if you’d let me!

She tries one last thing. “Sandor, you are from House Clegane; your sigil is three dogs on an autumn field. I am a Stark; our sigil is the direwolf. You and I both come from a canine background. Neither of us have any business being with these damned lions!” Sandor looks a bit amused, and even more confused, by her sudden request for him to go with her.

“Why do you really want me to go with you Little Bird? I thought that you were scared of me?” he asks with confusion written across his face.

Knowing how she cannot tell Sandor the truth about loving him, as that would only scare him away, she settles for a partial truth. “I haven’t been scared of you in two years, at least. And, as you already said, even with all of my preparations, I’m still likely to get hurt or killed. But… but, if I am with you, I know I will make it to my family!” she tells him, earnestly. “You are the best warrior in all of Westeros… if anyone can see me safely to my family, it is you!”

Sandor smirks at that, so she continues. “I just know that my brother would accept you as a retainer in thanks for bringing me back to them, safely. Or mayhaps he could even make you my sworn shield! I mean, technically I am a princess now, after all,” Sansa tells him.

Sansa honestly doesn’t even want to be a princess, though, seeing as how both Joffrey and Cersei have ended any wishful thinking of her ever wanting to become royalty. I would much prefer to simply become a Lady Wife to my handsome non-Lord Husband.

“Sandor, I just know you could be so much happier with the Starks than you ever were with the Lannisters! Besides, surely a ‘dog’ can join a ‘wolf pack’ and feel at home!” She offers him a shy smile at the thought of Sandor joining her pack.

 

Sansa takes a couple of steps back from Sandor, reaches her hand out to him, and begs one last time; “come with me!”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Three – A Decision Is Made

SANDOR

Looking at Sansa’s outstretched hand and then back to her face, Sandor is shocked at what came out of her beautiful little mouth.

Did Lady Sansa Stark just ask me, the Hound, to come with her to Winterfell? Surely, he must have misheard her. There is no way this shy, beautiful Little Bird would want to go anywhere with the fearsome Hound, much less be alone with him. Leaving together would require them sleeping beneath the trees and stars together for at least three moons, mayhap even longer, all while heading towards the frozen hell known as the North.

This entire encounter with Sansa has shocked Sandor from the very moment she walked through her door, waking him. At least she didn’t ask why I was asleep on her bed and clutching her pillow. As soon as she saw that he had a scratch—she said I was hurt—she took it upon herself to clean his face and see how bad it was.

Sandor hadn't had a woman tend to him in such a way since before his mother and Elandria died. His sister was the last person, aside from himself and a couple of barbers, to touch his face in any kind of way; so when his Little Bird began gently washing the grime off of him, he couldn’t help but enjoy the long overdue physical contact. As she began to clean the burnt side of his face, he began to imagine that she was actually caressing his scars, just as she always did in his dreams. When he felt himself lean into her hand, though, he quickly snapped himself out of his wishful fantasy.

But then, when he made the jape to her about not needing any more scars on his hideous face, she reached her delicate little hand out and touched his shoulder, only to snatch it away again. She can still barely stand to even look at me, much less actually touch my ugly arse more than she felt she had to.  

But… Sansa held me, though. She comforted me during my pathetic moment of weakness; and she even sang to me. Sandor had teased Sansa about getting a song from her since he had known the girl. Never did he think she would give him one willingly; even though she once said she would. Not quite the song I had in mind, though.

He couldn’t help but notice how perfectly Sansa fit in his arms, once he wrapped them around her in return. Fuck! It felt like she was made just for me. Stupid damn dog!  

Sandor can still feel the heat from the touch of her skin on the nape of his neck. Gods, she even stroked my back a bit, beneath my cuirass and hauberk, he remembers, while feeling his stomach flutter and heart pound in his chest. Her touch was the sweetest fire he’s ever felt.

The way Sansa washed his face, held him, sang to him, and soothed him, has Sandor briefly thinking that she may indeed share his feelings for her, after all. No. Of course she doesn’t. Don’t be stupid, you fucking foolish dog! She so much as told him that she only wants him to go with her to keep her safe, anyway; she’ll never love him. She could never love something as ugly as me! She needs a pretty little knight like the Tyrell boy, or some other noble buggering lord; not a second born dog from a minor house, whose liege lord is one of her enemies.  

 

Sandor shakes his head to clear out his wishful thinking. When he looks back at Sansa, he notices that she has slowly begun lowering her hand. She has tears welled up in her eyes that he can tell she is fighting back. She looks disappointed; like she is sad thinking I’m not coming with her. Sandor knows that he still hasn’t given her an answer and realizes that she must have mistaken him shaking his head for a ‘no.  

The very moment she said she was leaving, he knew that he would not let her go alone. I have to flee King’s Landing myself, anyway. To stand by and watch her walk into the unknown—into her own inevitable death—is something that Sandor just cannot do.

He figured he would have to shadow the girl several hundred feet behind her the entire way north. That way he would be far enough away that she wouldn’t know he was keeping his eye on her, but still close enough so that he could get Stranger and get to her before she was hurt.

Never in his wildest dreams did he expect to have her ask him—no, she more or less begged me—to come with her.

Even if she only wants his sword and physical protection, he will give it to her. At least this way he will get to spend time with her. He knows she will never love him, but just being near her will be more than he could ever hope to have. I’m so desperately in love with the Little Bird that I’ll take whatever bone she throws my way, like the starving dog I am.

Sandor also knows that her Kingly brother will more than likely take his ugly, scarred head the moment he steps on Winterfell’s soil. The Little Bird thinking her brother would want him as a retainer, or as the Princess in the North’s sworn shield, is just folly; but he won’t say anything to her about that. If King Robb takes my head, at least my final days would be spent with my Little Bird. Never thought I’d live this long anyway; just wish I could take Gregor out first.

 

Sansa’s arm is nearly back to her side when Sandor suddenly reaches out to take her delicate little hand in his, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Aye, Little Bird. I’ll come with you.”

Squeezing his hand back, Sansa let out both a laugh and a sob at the same time, causing relief to flood her features. “Really?” she excitedly asks. “You promise? You will come with me?”

“A hound will never lie, Little Bird; you know that.”

“Oh, thank the Gods, both Old and New! We need to hurry then. It would be best to leave while the battle is still in full force; don’t you think?” Sansa asks him, while pulling him to his feet.

“You will need to go to your chamber and grab anything you don’t want to leave behind. I have quite a bit of food already in my saddlebags, but we can snare, fish, and hunt more on the road, and I do know what plants and berries are edible,” she proudly informs him. “I have a few wineskins and waterskins also; but not the Dornish Red you seem to prefer. If you want some of that, then we’ll have to stop and get some. However, I do think we should keep at least one wineskin for boiling; just in case either of us receive any injuries.”

Sandor listens in amusement as the Little Bird proudly, and frantically, chirps her list of preparations at him. Does she really think I don’t know how to survive in the wild?

“I promise that you won’t have to do all the work on this trip, Sandor. I can and will help out. I will take care of you!” Sansa beams up at him, not realizing how her words have caused the Hound’s heart to pound violently in his chest. She means it innocently, I know, but no woman has ever offered to take care of me in any way. I’m not the kind of man women want to fuss over. Hells, I’m just a dog, not even a man. A dog can dream, though.

“I’ll get you home safe and sound, Little Bird. No need for a Lady to worry over a mangy cur like me,” Sandor tells her while smirking, trying to convince himself of that fact, more than her. “And you can stop your chirping, girl. I know what all I’ll need to get from my chamber. I’ll swing by the wine cellars and grab some ‘true wine’ for myself, before I come and pick you up. I still have one skin that I grabbed before coming here off the battlefield,” he tells Sansa gesturing to a wineskin laying on the floor next to the foot of her bed.

“First though, we need to discuss your planned route.” Sandor knows Sansa has worked very hard with her escape plan, but he is a bit concerned with trying to stay out of the Lannisters sights. “As soon as that little shitstain notices you are missing, he will send out a search party North, knowing that is where you would be heading. I kind of regret not being able to see the bastard’s face when he realizes he won’t be able to send his dog to hunt down his prey for him,” Sandor chuckles.

Sansa giggles at that thought, as well. “Well, now that I know you are coming with me, I can tell you of my... of our… true route. Please don’t be mad that I wasn’t completely honest up front!” Sansa hurriedly tells Sandor. “I was just being cautious, so that it wouldn’t make it back to Joffrey or Cersei. I hope you understand.”

Watching Sansa worry her bottom lip, he knows he can’t be upset at her lie by omission. Fuck! Don’t bite your pretty little lip like that, Little Bird; feel free to bite mine instead, he thinks while feeling his cock twitch at the thought of her mouth on his, and wondering what a kiss would feel like.

“It’s alright, Little Bird; I understand, and I am actually proud of your hesitation in telling me. It shows me that you actually listened to a few of my warnings over the years.”

“I’ve tried to heed all of your warnings and advice, Sandor. Of course, some of it was way over my understanding at the time; for I was but a child.”

“Anyway, about our route… I spoke to Lord Tyrion about my concerns of trying to stay ahead of the Lannister search party that is most assuredly going to be sent after me… well, us now. I had made the suggestion to him that I would allow everyone to assume I would head straight North, seeing as that is where Winterfell and my family are.

However, I had thought that it would be best if I, well if we, went west and stayed in the Westerlands for a while to lay low. That way, the Lannisters could head North toward Winterfell. Obviously they will not find me, though, since I am not going to be there. Mayhap they will assume I went to Essos or something, that way, who knows?

“Eventually, though, they will have to turn around and search for me on their way back to King’s Landing before telling Joffrey that I vanished into thin air like Arya,” she smiles conspiratorially at her reasoning. “That is when we can make a circle back around, and head North; hopefully avoiding them.

“I was thinking that if we wait in the Westerlands, mayhap somewhere between Deep Den and Hornvale, or somewhere, for a couple turns of the moon, we might just miss them. Or, do you think that is a stupid idea?” Sansa asks him while wringing her hands nervously. Seven hells! Beauty and brains. She’s fucking perfect.

“You’re a whole lot smarter than Joffrey and Cersei give you credit for, Little Bird,” Sandor honestly tells her. “I think it is a fine idea and I was actually going to suggest something similar. Was also going to suggest the Westerlands as a place to sit out and wait as well,” Sandor admits. “As you know, I grew up in the West, near Casterly Rock; so I am certain I can find us a safe place in the region to stay for however long it takes.

“They claim the best place to hide is right under someone’s nose. The Westerlands are full of houses loyal to the Lannisters; they’d never suspect either of us to head that direction, so it’s doubtful they’ll send word out to the noble houses there to be on the lookout for a redheaded highborn maiden. They also know that I have no love for Clegane Keep, seeing as it belongs to Gregor; so it would be unlikely for me to head that direction as well.

“Besides, war has already ravaged that area, and there will be many abandoned cabins we can use, as well as caves in the mountains. We’ll have to be cautious of bandits, but we should be able to avoid any armies. My brother and his rats are still wreaking havoc among the Riverlands, so we will have to be more careful after we are leaving the Westerlands to continue north.” Mayhap I’ll get an opportunity to kill the fucking bastard, yet! If he makes the mistake of eyeing my Little Bird, the Stranger, Himself, couldn’t prevent me from killing Gregor!

“We will have to be close enough to a village to hear news occasionally, though; so we will know when it is safe to head North.” 

Nodding in agreement, “Lord Tyrion said that he would send a raven to me, using the false name Norah, in Deep Den to let me know the status here in King’s Landing. He wants me to send the same raven back, still using my false name, to update him on how I am, and if I need help. He said that if I thought I needed help after getting that far, then he could always pay Bronn to come help me continue. But, I’m not entirely sure I trust him to keep his hands to himself,” Sansa admits, embarrassedly, while he sees a flush crawl up her neck.

“Has that sellsword ever been inappropriate with you, Little Bird?” Sandor worriedly asks, hoping she says no.

“Oh… no! He’s never touched me. It’s just… the way he leers at me… and all women, really. I just feel uncomfortable around him, if I’m alone. He always smiles so lasciviously at me.”

Sandor nods in response. “Good; he better not have touched you.” That fucking whoreson better never lay a finger on my Little Bird, or I’ll wipe that smirk right off his smarmy face.

“Alright, then we will stop in Deep Den and see if there are any messages from the Imp, but he can keep his pet here in King’s Landing. You have your own personal guard dog, you damn sure don’t need him,” Sandor says grinning, not caring that it makes his scars stretch tightly.

Giggling at his words, Sansa looks at him and asks, “Sandor, are you sure you won’t mind being with just me for several moons? I know I tend to annoy you with my chir--” Suddenly, her question is being cut off with three swift knocks on her chamber door, startling her and putting Sandor on alert.

Sworn shield instinct immediately kicking in, Sandor pulls Sansa protectively behind him and draws his sword in one swift movement.

Reaching her hand out from behind him to stay his sword arm, Sansa starts to make for her door. “It’s alright, Sandor; it’s probably Shae. I was expecting her.”

“Who’s there?” Sansa asks while approaching the door.    

“It’s Shae, my Lady; let me in. I’ve brought that last item for you,” the foreign handmaiden responds. Sansa quickly unbars the door, narrowly opens it, and peeks out the small opening.

Letting his tension ease up some, he is still on alert until Sansa’s handmaiden is let inside, the door closes, and is barred once again. Sandor sheathes his sword and lets out a breath he didn’t even realize he was holding. Fuck! I never felt this protective over Cersei or Joffrey, before.

The pretty handmaiden’s smile fades and her kind eyes harden the instant they rest on the scarred warrior in the room. “What is he doing here?” she hisses, not waiting for Sansa to answer.

“My Lady, I told you not to open your door for anyone! He’s the King’s dog!” the woman more or less screams out at Sansa, though looking right at Sandor.

Before Sandor can even register what is happening, a blur of skin and chiffon suddenly meets his throat with the edge of a rather sharp dagger leading the way. “Shae!” Sansa screeches at the deranged woman. “Lower your blade this instant!” she orders her handmaiden.

Sandor isn’t upset. In fact, what he feels is a combination of amusement and satisfaction. Amusement that this wisp of a woman thinks she has the upper hand on him, and satisfaction that she is obviously putting Sansa’s safety ahead of her own. Such loyalty to my Little Bird means I won’t kill you for your insolence, you fucking cunt! he muses to himself. She looks to be about my age, he notices, realizing that this is the handmaiden Sansa mentioned who taught her how to handle a blade. There is promise for Sansa there, if she can be as quick with her draw as this woman; but I’ll feel better after the Little Bird demonstrates her skill to me once we leave this viper’s nest.

Shae apparently did not care for Sandor’s smug smirk and is ignoring her Lady’s order to lower her blade, choosing instead to babble out a string of curses in… what language is that? Lorathi?

Seeing the distress on Sansa’s face, Sandor decides he should end this little charade for her to keep the Little Bird’s feathers from getting even more ruffled.

Sandor reaches his large hand up and encircles the woman’s small fist holding the dagger; twisting the blade away, he shoves the woman back, not quite so gently. “Enough, woman! A handmaiden is supposed to follow the orders from her Lady!” he barks at her, clearly taking her by surprise, while slipping her dagger into the back of his sword belt. What kind of handmaiden from the Red Keep isn’t used to being yelled at? Sandor wonders. Fuck, Cersei makes it a sport! He knows that Sansa might not yell at the woman, but she must have been one of Cersei’s at some point to be passed down as the handmaiden to the ‘traitor’s spawn.’

The handmaiden huffs and turns to Sansa, “my Lady, you promised me you wouldn’t let anyone besides me in your chamber! What do you think will happen once the dog goes and tells Joffrey of your plans?”

“Shae, don’t call him that! Besides, I didn’t let him in! He was already here when I got back to my room!” Sansa retorts and then suddenly turns toward Sandor and furrows her brow. “Why were you here, Sandor? I forgot to ask you after everything that happened.” Fuck!

Sandor was hoping she wouldn’t ask. Shite! I can’t tell her the truth; she’d change her mind about wanting me. Wanting me to come with her, you fucking idiot, she doesn’t actually want you! “I wanted to make sure you had protection; for when the city fell to Stannis. Joffrey wouldn’t much care, but after what happened during King Robert’s Rebellion, I didn’t want to take any chances.” Well, I wasn’t planning on letting her know I was worried about her, but I fucking hate liars. A partial truth is better than lying.

Smiling at him, Sansa nods and turns back to Shae. “I asked him to come with me, Shae. He agreed!” she happily informs the handmaiden, much to the woman’s dismay.

What! My Lady, do you think that is wise? He is Joffrey’s dog! His own personal guard! He’ll take you rig--” Sandor barks out a laugh to cut her off, causing the foreigner to glower at him.

“I guess word hasn’t reached Maegor’s yet, eh? That would be former dog, girl.” Sandor sarcastically responds. “I told the little bastard to go fuck himself! Him, his city, and his buggering Kingsguard. I have to leave King’s Landing anyway or risk losing my ugly, scarred head. At least this way I can flee this hellshole and keep my Little Bird safe.”

Fuck, the Little Bird, not my Little Bird! I hope she didn’t notice that, Sandor worries, while stealing a glance at Sansa. She is still smiling, but shows no indication of having noticed his slip-up. Seven hells, this is going be a lot harder than I thought, he realizes, knowing that Sansa is bound to eventually figure out that he has feelings for her. She’s a Lady though; she will ignore them and pretend she doesn’t know, he sincerely hopes.

Ignoring him, the handmaiden continues to address Sansa, “but my Lady! You’ll be alone with this man! In the wilderness. For several moons…! Anything could happen to you!” she stresses. “He’s the Hound, after all; not a bloody Septon!”

Interrupting her yet again, Sandor spits out through gritted teeth “yes, I’m the bloody Hound. However, I am not my brother! I am not the Mountain. I. Do. Not. Rape!” Sandor all but yells at the foreigner; his ire raising with each punctuated word.

“Shae, it’s alright. I trust him! Besides… the Hound won’t hurt me,” Sansa earnestly tells her handmaiden while looking straight into Sandor’s eyes.

Calming at what Sansa just said, he takes a deep breath. “No, Little Bird. I won’t hurt you,” he says in agreement with her. “I can keep you safe. Everyone is afraid of me. No one will ever hurt you again, Little Bird; or I’ll kill them,” Sandor sternly says, more to reassure the handmaiden, though, than to Sansa herself.

Normally Sandor wouldn’t give a fuck about reassuring a servant, but this woman seems to be a friend to the Little Bird.

Sansa said she trusts me. She fucking trusts me! She really isn’t scared of me anymore. Fuck! When did this change? Sandor wonders dumbfounded, noticing that Sansa is smiling sweetly at his promise. Seven hells, don’t keep smiling at me that way Little Bird; you’ll get a desperate dog’s hopes up.

The handmaiden’s features soften and she nods curtly at him; something in the tone of his voice must have satisfied her. Good, he thinks, we both obviously want the same thing—to get Sansa safely out of this damn Lion’s Den. She’ll be safer with me than on her own.

“Alright; well, honestly my Lady, I will feel better knowing you won’t be going alone. I’ve prepared you the best I can, and you have learned to use your dagger quite well—but the Hound’s fierce reputation, and the skill he is known to have with his steel, will definitely ease my nerves; tremendously,” Shae admits to the both of them.

She sure talks about the Little Bird with a lot of affection, she must not be one of Cersei’s pets after all. “Hound, do you have everything you need to leave? There will be a brief change in the guard, at the Gate of the Gods, in one hour’s time. That will be the best time to slip out of King’s Landing unseen, unless we have to kill the guards. Would draw less attention to sneak out without spilling blood, but I will help do it as a last resort,” Shae admits unemotionally, surprising Sandor at her apparent ease with taking a life just to keep Sansa safe. Sansa won’t appreciate unnecessary killing, though; that’s for sure.

“I haven’t much to pack, so won’t take but a few minutes to grab what I need,” he tells them. “Most of my weapons and armor are either on me or in the stable in Stranger’s stall. I only have my clothing, what I have of my coin from the Hand’s Tourney that’s not in the Iron Bank, and one personal item to grab that I won’t leave behind.”

He turns to look at Sansa, “I’m going to give you a part of my coin to keep on your body at all times. I want you to hide it somewhere under your clothing,” he instructs her. “If something should happen to me, or if we are separated for whatever reason, I want to know that you will have the means to buy protection, such as a sellsword, or be able to flee the rest of the way on your own.”

Sansa nods at him, and adds “I received a purse from Lord Tyrion, as well,” while gesturing to a pouch on her dressing table.

“Give it to your handmaiden. I’ll take care of you, Little Bird. I have plenty of coin,” he tells her, frankly.

“We don’t need to be in debt to another Lannister, even if he is already helping you. If it ever comes out that the Imp has not only helped you plan an escape, but also helped finance it, the Queen and her bastard would have his head just as fast as they’d have ours.” Sansa’s hand flies up to cover her mouth as she gasps.

“Of course, Sandor; you are right. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before,” Sansa grimly agrees. “Shae, please give this back to Lord Tyrion. Tell him I thank him sincerely, but also why I cannot accept any more than he has already done for me. He’s already put himself in danger to help me; you both have Shae. I won’t let either of you risk yourselves even further, just for me,” Sansa tells her friend while fighting back tears.

“Besides, Shae… I know it would kill you if something happened to your ‘beloved Lion!’” Sansa tells the handmaiden, mischievously smiling at her, causing the foreigner to blush. So that’s the deal with the handmaiden! She is the Imp’s lover? Seven buggering hells! That little fucker can get a beautiful woman like Shae to love him and I have to pay women just to fuck me? Granted, the Imp’s face isn’t a ruin of twisted, disgusting flesh with bone showing; but still… he’s only a buggering half-man!

Sansa’s chirping suddenly snaps Sandor out of his self-directed pity, “do you want me to go with you to your chamber while you pack? We really need to get on our way!”

“No Little Bird, I’d feel better if you and your handmaiden safely waited here, for me to come get you,” he replies. “I won’t be but a few minutes, and once I’m back, we will head for the stables together, and then head towards your horse and freedom.” Sansa earnestly smiles at that and nods.

 

“Good, that will give me the time I need to explain about the last item I fetched you, anyway, my Lady. And then I will help you change into your travel gown, boots, and cloak and will braid your hair up,” Shae chimes in.

“What did you have to get for me? I thought I had everything I needed?” Sansa asks, truly curious, adding to Sandor’s own curiosity now.

“It would be best to explain it while the Hound has left to pack, in order to save both time, and embarrassment!” Shae mischievously giggles out. Must be moonblood supplies; like I don’t know what women go through, Sandor thinks through a snort of a laugh. The Little Bird flowered over two years ago, though; she should have known to pack supplies for that, I would think.

“Right, well stay in your chamber; I will return shortly,” Sandor tells them as he heads towards her door.

“Hound! Might I have my dagger back now?” the handmaiden annoyingly shouts, just as he is about to unbar the door to leave.

Sandor reaches behind him for the dagger and hands it to the woman hilt first. “Bar the door after I leave, and don’t open it for anyone but me. Understand?” he orders the women. They both nod in acquiescence.

Opening the door a sliver, Sandor peeks out to see if all is clear. Satisfied that the corridor is empty and quiet, he slips through the door, closing it behind him. He waits to hear it being barred before he continues toward the White Sword Tower and to his own chamber.

 

It doesn’t take Sandor long to reach the White Sword Tower since it is only a short distance from Maegor’s Holdfast. Taking the stairs in the tower two at a time, he reaches the third floor where his chamber is located without incident, relieved that he has not encountered anyone on his way.

 

While he is alone in his chamber gathering his meager possessions, he has time to reflect on what all transpired in the Little Bird’s cage. First she asks me to come North with her, then claims she is not scared of me, that she fucking trusts me, while also promising to ‘take care’ of me. Fuck, man! If I didn’t know any better… I could almost allow myself to believe in Sansa sharing the same feelings for me, that I have for her! Or that, mayhap one day, she could actually develop some kind of feelings for me….

Guess it’s a good thing I know better, Sandor muses and laughs at himself, while stuffing his few articles of clothing into one of his saddlebags and loading his largest saddlebag with his light armor.

After packing his clothes and the few pieces of armor he had kept in his chamber, he strides over to the garderobe and inspects the floorboards, looking for a particular loosened board. Finding the sought out board, Sandor pops it loose and reaches into the hidden cache to retrieve what he kept out of the Iron Bank of his winnings from the Hand’s Tourney. Withdrawing six leather pouches, he places the board back in place, and transfers them to one of his saddlebags, keeping the smallest one accessible for Sansa, as promised.   

Sandor then moves over to his wardrobe, fetches his warmest woolen cloak, and folds it to fit in with the rest of his clothing. Continuing his hasty packing, he then heads to the large cedar chest at the foot of his huge weirwood bed. Steeling himself for what he knows he seeks, he opens the chest and rummages through the contents until he feels the desired item.

Pulling the item out of the chest, he is instantly hit with memories of his sister once again. He holds in his hands the Bride’s Cloak that Elandria was embroidering for him with their house sigil. It was her way of showing him that she had faith he would have a normal life, fall in love, and get married… despite his burn scars.

However, Elandria was killed by Gregor before she could finish the third black dog on the autumn gold silk cloak she began just a few years after Sandor healed from his burns. If this wasn’t something that you made for me yourself, sweet sister, I would leave it behind. I have no need for a Bride’s Cloak. Unfortunately though, this is all I have left of you; I just can’t leave it behind.

Wishing the cloak was completed, Sandor wonders if he could ask Sansa to finish it for him. He knows that his sister was extremely proud of her embroidery work on it, as she worked very hard on perfecting her stitches, and would have loved to see it completed.

Sansa reminds me of you, that way, Elandria. I bet you would have loved my Little Bird. If only she was mine. Sighing, Sandor decides that he might ask the Little Bird if she would consider finishing the third dog for him. Folding it with great care, he places it in the saddlebag, beneath his clothing, to protect it.

 

Taking a final look around the chamber that was his home for the last several years, he quickly scans his surroundings to see if he forgot anything he wishes to keep. Realizing that he has no remorse about leaving the only other home he has known besides Clegane Keep, he walks to his door one last time, opens it, and exits the chamber while quietly closing the door on his past to begin anew. New dog, new life.

Now… time to grab my Little Bird and get the hells out of the Lion’s Den. Here goes nothing; wish us luck, sis!

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Four – Time to Fly

SANSA

As soon as Sandor leaves to pack, Sansa rushes to her wardrobe and collects the simple dark forest green gown she has chosen to wear for their escape. I cannot believe I am finally going to see my family again!

Once Sansa knew that Lord Tyrion would help her with her escape plan, she asked him if he could acquire several bolts of warm fabrics in dark blues, browns, greens, and greys for her. She was pleased with the soft and warm woolen fabrics that young Podrick Payne and Bronn delivered to her chamber only a couple of days after asking for them. Sansa immediately began to fashion six simple gowns in the blue, green, and brown fabrics and fashioned two full heavy cloaks in the grey. Lord Tyrion managed to give her ten yards of each of the fabrics, so Sansa decided to make two gowns in each color.

The design of the six gowns are quite simple. They are form fitting in the bodice—more like properly fitting, Sansa muses while remembering how the Lannisters never furnished her with gowns appropriate for her womanly body after flowering and maturing into womanhood. The gowns she fashioned all lace up the front so that she can dress without the assistance of a handmaiden. I will miss Shae so much. She is truly much more than a handmaiden; she is like an older sister to me.

Not thinking it very practical, Sansa decided not to embellish the gowns aside from a bit of embroidery work she added to the two blue gowns while being cooped up in her chamber more often after Joffrey renouncing their betrothal. During the brief periods Joffrey did not wish to torture her—thank the Gods Lady Margaery could keep Joff’s thoughts off of me for a few hours each day—Sansa took to embroidering an intricate design of vines and little birds along the necklines of the two blue gowns. Now that Sandor is coming with me, I hope he notices, and likes, the little birds, she smiles to herself; now glad, though, that she decided against embroidering a hound and a little bird frolicking about a leaf design for the green gowns. That would have been awkward to try to explain. I don’t think he would have believed that it was a direwolf.

 

Sansa managed to create a hidden slit in each of her skirts so that she can easily reach through to access her small dagger strapped to her right thigh. Another secret feature Sansa thought of adding was a series of hidden pockets of varying sizes inside of her skirts and bodices where she can hide items of value while traveling. Depending on the quantity of Gold Dragons Sandor wants me to carry, the pockets may be perfect for them.

She has two pieces of jewelry that she simply cannot leave behind to the Lannisters and she knows that wearing them out in the open would draw too much unwanted attention. Plus, she doesn’t want to risk losing them out of her bags, either.

 

Already holding her chosen travel gown, she hurries over to where her Weirwood jewelry box is and fetches two items from the drawer.

One particular item is a beautiful golden brooch of a leaping trout that her Lady Mother gave her to wear on her wedding day to Joffrey. It is a brooch that every Tully bride has worn on their wedding day and fulfills the “thing of old” role of a traditional Faith of the Seven wedding custom. Running her fingers over the carved golden trout, Sansa recites the Thing of Old, Thing of New wedding poem in her head.

A thing of old,

With sentimental value,

And made of gold;

 

An item of new,

Something that is personal,

A precious gift from him to you;

 

An object borrowed,

Be it silver with maidenly blue;

 

A silver stag worn in your shoe.

Sansa has dreamt of her wedding day ever since she was a young girl of three years old. Throughout her childhood she would always picture her wedding unfold in her mind’s eye and the details would always remain the same, save only the groom changing as her dreams changed. She always knew she wanted to marry a knight in shining armor or a handsome and honorable lord just like her Lord Father. When she was told that she had the chance to marry a handsome prince, however, Sansa begged and pleaded with her parents to allow the match to be made. A prince would be so much better than a lowly knight or a lesser lord, after all!

Sadly, her very own Prince Charming turned out to be not so charming, after all. Then, after dealing with the lords of the court of King’s Landing and the so-called chivalrous knights of the Kingsguard who beat her on command, she has come to realize that the dreams a little girl conjures up are generally not what they are believed to be.

I should have listened to Sandor when he first tried to warn me of Joffrey and knights; but being a stupid little girl, his scars scared me when I first saw them and I didn’t believe him and thought him cruel. She hates her initial reaction to his scars as she knows it must have hurt him to see the fear in her eyes when she first saw them up close. His scars are a comfort to her now, though; they mean safety and honesty.

Brave and gentle and strong.” Suddenly Sansa hears the traits of the perfect man her Lord Father had promised to find for her to replace the cruel and evil Joffrey. Sansa knows that Sandor fits those traits perfectly, almost as if her father had him in mind when he told them to her. She knows he was not too happy with Sandor at the time, though, due to the whole Butcher’s boy incident; but surely her father knew he was only following orders. Sansa just knows that if her father had gotten to really know Sandor he would have loved him and he too would have known that Sandor was brave and gentle and strong. Not like it matters, though, for Sandor does not love me. A Little Bird can dream though.

 

Sansa hides the golden trout brooch in one of the hidden pockets of the bodice of her gown and picks up the other piece of jewelry she won’t leave behind. The second piece actually belongs to her sister, Arya, and is a silver direwolf pendant with beautiful blue sapphires for its eyes.

The pendant once belonged to their Aunt Lyanna Stark. Their Lord Father had given it to Arya when they arrived in King’s Landing but told her to keep it secret. This was due to the hatred Queen Cersei had towards their Aunt Lyanna. Everyone knew that King Robert loved Lyanna more than he ever did Cersei; even going so far as to call Cersei by Lyanna’s name while making love on their wedding night. I cannot stand the queen and have no sympathy for the woman, but even I think that must have hurt badly.

It is said that Cersei was excited to be marrying King Robert when she was first betrothed to him. When he was a young man, King Robert was said to be extremely handsome and very fit—such a stark difference from the obese, slovenly, and whoremongering man Sansa first met as a girl of three and ten almost three years ago at Winterfell.

Sansa hides the direwolf pendant in another hidden pocket of her gown near the pocket with the trout brooch.

 

At her handmaiden’s suggestion, Sansa did decide to take one of her more formal silk gowns with her. “What if you manage to reach your family at the Twins just in time for your brother’s wedding? Surely you will want one gown that isn’t wool and so plain to wear to such an important event! He is the King, after all!” Shae had successfully stated her point to Sansa. She acquiesced with little persuasion realizing her handmaiden was right. Besides, by then I shall be reunited with my Lady Mother and she can help me with the laces. Sansa chose her favorite autumn gold colored gown as she loves the way it complements the color of her coppery red hair.

The design of the golden silk gown is more similar to the Northern style gowns than her Southron style silks Cersei had always insisted she wore. Sansa immediately begins to wonder what Sandor will wear to her brother’s wedding, himself, and wondering if she can somehow convince him to accompany her personally. No matter what he wears, he will be the most handsome looking man there with his tall stature and magnificently broad shoulders... Sansa Stark, this is so unladylike; stop thinking of Sandor’s body like that, it isn’t proper! Sansa silently admonishes herself knowing that her poor late Septa would cringe at her having such wanton thoughts.

 

Even though Sansa can dress in her travel gown unassisted, she still needs Shae to help her shed the purple silk brocade Southron style gown and her corset for the last time. She will not be able to wear a corset while on the run as she cannot do the laces on her own. It feels like I am shedding an old skin and starting fresh, she thinks while her handmaiden begins to unlace her gown and tug the sleeves off of her shoulders.

Once her arms are out of the gown, she pushes it down her hips and happily steps out of the last part of her Lannister confinement. Good riddance, she thinks as Shae neatly folds the gown and places it on the chest near her bed. I still cannot believe that I once thought Southron everything was far superior to my Northern roots, Sansa somberly reminisces.

“After we get you dressed, my Lady, I need to explain what I brought for you, why I have it, and most importantly, how to use it,” Shae informs Sansa as she unlaces and removes her corset before helping her step into her travel gown.

Once the gown is pulled over Sansa’s hips, Shae helps her weave her arms through the sleeves and then ties her laces. “Alright Shae, I am dressed. I must admit, you’re starting to make me both nervous and curious! What is this mystery item?”

“Oh, my Lady!” Shae giggles, “It’s nothing bad, I promise! Though, now that I know your Hound is accompanying you on this little adventure, I will feel more at ease knowing you have it!”

“Shae, I already told you that he won’t hurt me! Besides, I already have a dagger,” Sansa replies, assuming by Shae’s words that she means to give her some way to protect herself.

“It isn’t a dagger, my Lady, but it is a form of protection,” Shae coos while walking to Sansa’s dressing table and picking up a small metal casket. Handing the casket to Sansa, she notices that it is decorated with a rather amorous looking design. Opening the casket Sansa notices a small metal teacup, a couple of bottles of honey, a small spoon, and a considerable amount of… are those tea leaves? “It’s moontea, my Lady,” Shae states frankly, answering the question on Sansa’s face.  

Sansa immediately closes the casket, thrusts it back at Shae, and starts blushing in the brightest crimson from the tips of her toes all the way to the very top of her head. She opens her mouth to speak but no sound will come out. Gaping at her handmaiden like a fish, Sansa is just sure that her skin has now reddened to a hue even brighter than her hair.

Smiling at Sansa’s obvious embarrassment, Shae opens the casket again and proceeds to explain why she got her moontea. “My Lady, I know this seems like an odd thing to give an innocent maiden, but I wanted to give you moontea for emergency use,” she explains. “The reason why is because I was worried with you going out on your own. If for gods know why you were raped, I wanted to make sure you had the means to ensure you wouldn’t get with child from such an attack. Do you understand?”

Still unable to form words, Sansa simply nods.

“My Lady, I am not giving this to you because I think you are promiscuous, you know that is silly. I just want to make sure you are prepared for the real world. However, now that your Hound is going with you, it may be good that you have this. Moontea doesn’t just have to be used in case of an attack; you can use it to prevent getting with child with a permanent lover,” she tells Sansa with a coy smile.

Sansa finally finds her voice and almost shouts “but Shae! Sandor and I are not lovers!” Just saying the word has Sansa blushing furiously once again. “He does not think of me romantically at all!”

“You truly believe that, my Lady?” Shae teases. “I do find it funny that you say he doesn’t think of you that way, but you didn’t say that you don’t think of him that way,” she says with a knowing smile.

Shocked at her handmaidens’ insight, Sansa tries to respond but only succeeds in her mouth opening and closing several times. Setting her jaw and steeling her features into her courtly mask, Sansa finally adds “it does not matter how I feel; it takes two participants to have a relationship and Sandor Clegane is very clearly not interested!” 

“Hmm, well, whatever you say, my Lady. But I am still making you take the moontea. I hope for your sake that you won’t need it; if that is your choice, that is,” she says. “However, I still need to teach you how to prepare it and when to use it, should you need to or want to.”

Sighing, Sansa relents to Shae’s request and walks over to where she is standing with the moontea near her dressing table. “I am only listening for emergency usage only. I won’t have any need of it, though,” Sansa insists.

“Of course, my Lady!” Shae smiles at Sansa as if she doesn’t believe her at all before proceeding to explain how to prepare moontea to be the most effective. “Now, listen my Lady, this is important. After lying with a man, you will have up to five days before his seed could take root inside of you. That means that you have up to five days after he spills his seed inside of you to prepare and drink moontea to avoid getting with child,” Shae tells Sansa who is blushing wildly and staring at her handmaiden with huge eyes. Septa Mordane never once talked to me about what it takes for a man and a woman to make a babe; I had no idea babes come from seeds!   

“But Shae, what would happen if moontea couldn’t be made until after the five-day window has passed?” Being on the run in the woods may make finding water difficult; I better keep one waterskin for emergencies, I guess.

“I’m getting to that, my Lady,” Shae responds to Sansa’s inquiry. “Taking moontea within the five-day window is for preventing you from getting with child. To prevent you from getting with child, you only need to take a single serving of moontea weekly until you have your moonblood. A single serving of moontea is three helpings of this particular spoonful of the mixed tea leaves steeped in boiling water. You then add honey to taste. Moontea is pretty bitter, so the honey really helps to make it drinkable.”

Sansa nods in understanding. “One thing to note, my Lady—the moontea will not cause your moonblood to come. You must continue taking the moontea once per week until you have your moonblood to know it has worked.”

Oh, Gods! I guess it is a good thing I’ll probably—well, let me make that hopefully—never need this. I don’t think I’ll be able to remember everything if I did need it. “Obviously, though, you will not need to continue drinking moontea during your moonblood and you only have to resume taking it after your moonblood if you are being intimate once again,” Shae informs her.   

“Now, to answer your question about taking moontea after the initial five days. If his seed has taken root, the moontea will end any chance of you growing heavy with his child. But, that is only if you drink the required amount to do the job. To end the possibility of your being with his child after the five-day window, you will need to double the strength of the moontea. That means you will steep six spoonfuls of the tea leaves. You will also need to drink the moontea three times per week until you have a moonblood. Once again, add the honey to taste and keep taking moontea three times per week until you have your moonblood,” she instructs Sansa.

“Now my Lady, moontea is perfectly safe if you use it primarily for preventing a babe. However, if you cause your body to dispose of a babe often, it can affect your mental state and possibly even your ability to carry a babe to full term when you are ready to have children,” she tells her, seriously. “I have confirmed this with a maester, myself, years ago. I use moontea regularly, but I have only had to dispose of a babe twice,” Shae tells Sansa looking a bit mournful at the remembrance.

Fishing a folded piece of paper from out of her gown, Shae asks Sansa if she has any questions about how to prepare and take moontea. “I have written the directions down for both methods of preparing and taking moontea and will put it inside the casket with the tea supplies,” Shae tells Sansa while showing her where she is placing the paper. She then shows Sansa that she is putting the moontea supplies into the same bag that contains her moonblood cloths.

“You have enough moontea leaves to continuously prepare one preventative serving per week for over six moons. So, should you and your Hound finally get on the same page with your feelings towards one another, you can take him into your bed without worrying about him giving you any puppies,” Shae cheekily says, winking at a very flustered Sansa. “There is nothing stopping you from taking him as a lover, you know. Even if you truly believe he doesn’t love you; you don’t need to be in love or marry the man in order to enjoy his… virility!” Shae tells Sansa while waggling her well sculpted eyebrows at her with yet another wink.

Sansa’s eyes widen as she gasps, slapping her hand to cover her mouth. “Shae! You are just incorrigible! I could never do such a thing! Even if I wanted to be with him, I could never just be his… his paramour; being highborn means I must remain a maiden until I marry!” she tells her friend. “Besides, I want more than that.”

“Then I guess you’ll just have to realize that he loves you, as well, and marry him!” Shae beams.

Gods, how I wish. “Unfortunately, it is not that simple for a noble marriage. My marriage must be arranged by the head of my household; in this case my brother, the King in the North. I’ll have to marry a Lord from a noble Northern house. Even if Sandor did care about me, being the second son of a minor house means he isn’t a Lord. Plus, he is a Westerman, not a Northman. My brother would never allow a match,” Sansa sadly admits.

Collecting Sansa’s riding boots from near her wardrobe, Shae helps her into them. “You really do love him, don’t you my Lady?” Shae asks. Sansa can only nod at the question, knowing that admitting it aloud would cause the tears she is trying to fight back to fall. I can actually see us married, too, Sansa thinks as Shae begins to brush out and braid her hair for travel.

 

Sansa knows that she could make Sandor so happy. She would take care of him and would always make sure that he knew he was loved, cherished, and desired, every single day. She can even see their potential children—he would call them pups. She imagines that their sons would have his black hair and her cerulean-blue eyes. They would be so tall and strong, just like their handsome father. They would look like true Northmen; just as Sandor does, Sansa realizes. He really does have the look of the North with his size and coloring. She pictures their daughters having her coppery red hair and his beautiful silver-grey eyes. Our children would get their kindness from me but their father would make sure they learned early on that life is not a song. Sansa smiles at thinking about how protective her Hound would be over their pups; especially their daughters. They would never have to worry about their own Joffrey, that’s for sure. He would be a wonderful father; I just know it!

 

“All set, my Lady,” Shae says, snapping Sansa out of her domestic daydream. “As soon as your Hound arrives, all you will need is to don your cloak and you will be ready to leave,” she says somberly. My Hound, Sansa smiles at the thought, oh, how I wish that could be true.

 

Noticing Sandor has been gone nearly half an hour, she begins to worry if he has changed his mind about leaving with her. Surely he would tell me if he changed his mind, Sansa thinks causing her brow to furrow with concern. What if he was caught? She suddenly begins to panic, causing her heart to pound and her breathing to quicken a bit.

“My Lady, are you alright? You look nervous,” Shae asks while gently tilting Sansa’s chin up to look her in the eye.

“He’s not back yet!” Sansa stresses. “He’s been gone half an hour now, and you said the guards would be gone for a few minutes within the hour.” 

Trying to reassure her, Shae caresses her cheek with the back of her hand. “He did have to pack, my Lady. And remember, he said he was going to stop by the wine cellars,” she says soothingly. “I am certain he will be here very soon.”

 

Suddenly snapping Sansa out of her worrying, the women hear three swift knocks on her chamber door. “Little Bird, it’s me, open up,” she hears Sandor say, immediately lifting her spirits. Oh, thank the Gods, he did come!

“See? I told you he would be back, my Lady. Feel better now?” Shae asks Sansa with a coy smile. Sansa shyly smiles back and nods while Shae unbars the door and lets Sandor in.

 

“Time to fly, Little Bird; got everything you need?”

Sansa nods while putting on her cloak, rushing over to grab her last saddlebag, Sandor’s previously discarded wineskin, and rushing over to meet him by her door with a huge smile spreading across her face.

“Wait Little Bird, before we leave, take this and hide it somewhere on your body under your clothing,” he tells Sansa while handing her a small leather pouch containing several coins. “It’s only a hundred Gold Dragons, but that will be more than enough to get you to Essos and back at least a dozen times should something happen to me,” he tells her. “It’s also few enough coin that it shouldn’t be too uncomfortable to wear. Try to hide it someplace where it won’t jingle about. Don’t want to draw attention to the fact that you’re not only a beautiful young maiden, but that you’re a beautiful young maiden with enough coin to make a man well off as well as making him well pleasured,” he says causing Sansa to blush once again. Sandor thinks I’m beautiful?

“Come my Lady, let me help you get it hidden,” Shae says while taking the pouch from Sansa and guiding her behind her dressing screen next to her dressing table.

“My Lady, I think this will fit in one of the hidden pockets you stitched into your skirts. Or do you have another place you want to carry it?” she asks Sansa.

“No, Shae, I believe that will be the best place for them. As you know, I made the pockets for that very reason—to hide coin or jewels while on the run,” she tells her handmaiden. “I am a bit surprised that Sandor has decided to give me such a large amount, though!”

“It’s very kind of him to give you such a large sum of his winnings, my Lady; I wonder if he is doing so because he cares about you?” she whispers questioningly in Sansa’s ear while raising her skirt and securing the pouch firmly within the hidden buttoned pocket near her waist.

“Shae, we went over this already!” Sansa replies quietly. “He may care for me in some kind of way, mayhap a familial way or something, but it is not because he is in love with me!” she sadly whispers to Shae, praying to all of the known Gods that Sandor cannot hear their exchange. I wish Shae would stop mentioning Sandor caring for or loving me; it hurts too badly. That will never happen; Sandor Clegane is not in love with me!

 

With a sigh of exasperation, Shae smooths Sansa’s skirts back down. “Alright, my Lady, you are ready to fly away!” she tells Sansa while trying to hide the tears welling up in her eyes, but not succeeding.

“Shae, are you alright? I am sorry; I didn’t mean to snap at you,” Sansa says soothingly to her friend.

Sniffling, Shae wipes her eyes with the back of her hand, “no my Lady, it is just… well, this will be goodbye!” Grabbing Sansa and pulling her into a tight embrace, the handmaiden’s tears fall unbidden now.

Hugging her handmaiden back, Sansa knows that Shae has been the only true friend she has had since Jeyne Poole. I honestly feel closer to Shae than I ever was Jeyne. I’m closer to Shae than I am my own sister. “Oh, my sweet and sassy Shae, I shall miss you so; you’ve been like a sister to me,” she honestly tells her friend.

“I am positive that I can get Tyrion to bring me out to Winterfell for a visit once this war is finally over. This is not goodbye, I promise!” Shae swears wholeheartedly to Sansa as they release each other from their tight sisterly embrace.  

Before Sansa can reply, though, Sandor coughs trying to end their emotional conversation so that they can finally leave King’s Landing. “I hate to have to interrupt your goodbyes, but those guards will be changing posts soon and if we want to get away without a lot of unnecessary bloodshed, we need to get on the move.”

“We’re coming, Sandor,” Sansa says as she and Shae emerge from behind her dressing screen and make their way back to Sandor with Sansa’s remaining saddlebag and his previously discarded wineskin.

 

“Here, let me carry that,” he insists while reaching for the saddlebag she is carrying.

“I can carry it, Sandor; it’s not that heavy,” Sansa replies. However, Sandor ignores her protest and takes the bag from her hands, anyway.

“Let’s get out of this fucking hellshole,” Sandor says while opening her door and ushering Sansa and Shae out before closing it behind him.

“I’ve already been out to Stranger and got him saddled and my bags ready,” he tells her as they round the corner coming face to face with three soldiers.

Sansa tries not to panic when she sees that the three armored soldiers blocking their path to freedom are carrying shields emblazoned with a stag on a burning heart. Stannis Baratheon has breached the walls of the Red Keep!

 

"My, my, my! Look at what we got ‘ere boys! Two real pretty lasses to congratulate us on our taking of the city!” One of the filthy soldiers’ gloats while leering at Sansa and Shae. Oh, Gods, Sandor, please keep them away from us, but please be safe fighting them, too! Warrior, please keep my love safe! I mean Sandor, not my love, Gods, Sansa, pull yourself together! Sansa silently begins to pray to all the Gods, both Old and New, to help Sandor dispatch the obstacle standing in the way of their escape.  

 

“Stay back while I deal with these buggering gnats, Little Bird,” he tells her while handing her saddlebag to her once again. “Don’t go getting all scared; this won’t take but a moment.”

 

With that, Sandor unsheathes his longsword and immediately begins his assault on the soldiers.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Five – Overcoming Obstacles

SANDOR

Knowing that Sansa and Shae are a safe distance from the butchery about to take place, Sandor unleashes his inner Hound with a wicked grin spreading across his face. Sword unsheathed, he takes a stance before the three Baratheon soldiers and quickly sizes up his opponents.

 

“Really think ya can take all three of us on? Why not save yerself some pain, boy; just pass them pretty lasses of yers over fer a bit o’ fun,” one of the soldier’s laughingly sneers, trying to intimidate him, and failing miserably. Bugger that! None of you are touching my Little Bird, nor her friend. “Mayhaps we’ll even let ya take a turn with that pretty li’l redhead who’s got her eyes on ya. Lemme guess; by her worried look, she mus’ be yer li’l wife? Well then, s’pose I know who I’m gettin’ ta fuck bloody first, then; right next ta yer corpse,” the oldest soldier taunts. Big mistake talking about her that way.

“Last time I checked, dead men can’t fuck,” the Hound snarls back.

 

The oldest soldier looks to be in his mid-forties and might even have a bit of experience with a blade, despite his ill-fitting armor. Another soldier is the tallest of the three, though appears to be the youngest, and mayhap even the greenest at killing. He looks fucking terrified, the Hound realizes with amusement. The third soldier fills out his armor the best; though he seems to be filling it out with fat, not muscle. Mismatched armor and helms that clearly do not fit properly; definitely nothing for my Little Bird to fret over.

 

“There’s three of us an’ only one of you, my friend! I think we’ll be jus’ fine,” the older soldier says. “After we gut ya, though, we’ll be nice an’ ready fer some proper entertainment,” he says while leering at the Little Bird and the handmaiden. Nice try, old man. First, I ain’t your bloody fucking friend; and two, in just a few moments, the three of you will be properly dead, the Hound muses to himself knowing that killing these buggering gnats won’t take much effort at all.

 

Without rising to their taunts, the Hound strikes his sword out against the older soldier while dodging a strike from the shorter one. The Hound’s blade crashes down on the older opponent’s shield with a loud crack! The extreme force behind his strike has already split the man’s shield in two, rendering it useless.

The man throws it down and parries the Hound’s next strike causing the sword to vibrate up the soldier’s arm, jarring him, and causing his grip on his sword to loosen. Using this as an advantage, the Hound uses his sword to knock the man’s blade out of his hand. It swishes through the air before crashing to the ground emanating a deafening clangor of steel on stone.

Before the soldier can even comprehend that he has lost his sword, the Hound’s steel slices through the side of his stomach. Cutting through both muscle and plate with ease, pain and disbelief flood the man’s face as he draws his final rattled breath.

 

Withdrawing his sword from the body of the older soldier, the Hound quickly pivots just in time to retreat from a lunge by the fat soldier while advancing into a strong thrust of his sword, plunging it into to the tall soldier’s chest. Laughing menacingly, the Hound cannot help but enjoy the feel of his steel ripping through the flesh and bone of his opponent. Killing is the sweetest thing there is.

 

Two down, one buggering bastard to go, he thinks while yanking his sword from the breastbone of the crumpled up soldier choking and gurgling up blood as his breathing gets shallower with each inhale. Poor bastard probably never wanted to fight to begin with.

 

“I know who you are! You’re the Hound!” the last of the soldiers finally realizes too late as he takes his stance to continue this mockery of a fight.

 

The fat soldier lunges at the Hound with all of his weight. Deflecting the blow, the Hound launches himself backwards making the man think he is retreating before he quickly advances forward as the soldier raises his sword for a diagonal strike. The Hound’s sword slices clean through his stomach beneath his too short breastplate.

A crimson spray follows the path his sword slices through in the man’s gut, splattering blood across the Hound’s face. Fuck! My Little Bird just washed my face for me, too, the Hound thinks, secretly wishing she would do it again. The fat soldier drops his sword and grabs ahold of his stomach as if trying to stop the bleeding and his entrails from spilling out. After a few moments, he lies lifeless on the floor.

 

Looking at the carnage left behind from the fight, the Hound uses one of the soldier’s cloaks to wipe the blood from his blade before sheathing his sword.

As soon as his sword is sheathed the Little Bird launches herself at him and wraps her arms around him, pulling him into a tight embrace. “Thank the Gods you’re alright Sandor! You fought so bravely,” Sansa smiles sweetly and chirps at him before releasing him from a much too quick embrace.

“Are you hurt anywhere?” she asks while looking him over head to toe and practically spinning him around to look for any scratches. Seven hells, if that’s all it takes to get Sansa Stark to throw arms around me, I should kill in front of her more often, he muses to himself, not quite understanding why killing three gnats warrants such an embrace or frantic worrying, but will gladly accept it all the same.

“I’m fine Little Bird,” he chuckles out. “Told you it wouldn’t take long; they were soldiers no doubt, but not very good ones. No idea where they got their armor from but it made them look a right motley crew, that’s for sure,” he says while secretly thrilled, and yet so very confused, why his Little Bird was so worried over this so-called fight. Feels so damn nice to actually have a woman worry about me for once, he thinks, reasoning that she is only worried that she’ll have to continue on her own or with the Imp’s sellsword. Don’t worry Little Bird, your escort North is still in one piece.

“Give me that wineskin, I need a damned drink after that,” he tells Shae who is holding Sansa’s bags, feeling his bloodlust slightly elevated from the scuffle. Taking the wineskin from the foreign woman, he unstops it and quaffs several deep gulps to quench his thirst.

Stopping the skin once again and tucking it into his sword belt, he turns to Sansa. “Come on Little Bird, let me help you fly over this filth to keep your feathers clean,” he teases as he lightly envelopes Sansa’s small waist with his huge hands. Sansa squeaks in surprise as he lifts her over the death littering the corridor, causing Sandor to smile. Fuck, she makes the most arousing sounds, he thinks as he imagines making her whimper and moan in pleasure, causing his cock to stiffen and start to throb in want of her. Down dog, don’t need to frighten the girl after she just embraced your ugly arse or she’ll never do that again; though it is highly unlikely she ever will, anyway.

“You’re next,” he tells Shae after he sets Sansa gently back down on her feet away from the blood crawling along the stone floor.

“Just give me your hand, Hound; I can jump over the bodies,” she smugly says with a smirk while glancing at Sandor and Sansa. Fuck, I think she knows I love the Little Bird. Shite! Is that why Sansa’s been smiling at me so much? Could she know and is only using my affection to get me to help her to her family? Sandor begins to wonder, hoping Sansa wouldn’t use his feelings against him. He knows she will never return his feelings, but he damn sure doesn’t want to be made a fool of, either. Oh, well, it is too late to worry about that now; he already promised to escort her to her family. Her possibly knowing about his love for her won’t make him love her any less. So far she hasn’t teased me about it, at least.

If she were anything like Cersei she would torment me about it, he thinks knowing that her being nothing like Cersei is a very small part of his attraction to her. Sansa is such a sweet and loving lady; Cersei could learn a thing or two from the Little Bird on how to get people to love you. Though Cersei seems to prefer ruling by fear, which only works for so long.

I feel the Lioness’ days of ruling might just be numbered, Sandor hopefully thinks, knowing that between Joffrey and Cersei, Westeros is ruled by some of the worst tyrants in the history of the Seven Kingdoms. Somehow I think the two Lannisters have surpassed Mad King Aerys in cruelty and hate.

 

Taking hold of Shae’s hand, she leaps as elegantly as a deer over the dead soldiers and hands him Sansa’s saddlebag once again.

“Now, mayhap we can finally get the fuck out of this place,” Sandor says as he places his hand on the small of Sansa’s back guiding her through the corridors of Maegor’s Holdfast with Shae following closely behind. Seeing Shae out of the corner of his eye, he notices her smirking at him as if trying to tell him that she knows his secret. Buggering hells. Fuck it; so long as no one laughs at the hideous dog’s feelings, she can know all she wants. 

 

After quietly making it through the maze of corridors, the three finally make it out of Maegor’s Holdfast. Sandor can feel Sansa take a deep breath from where his hand is resting on her back. Happy to finally be leaving your cage, eh Little Bird?

 

Sansa looks back over her shoulder at the building as they cross the drawbridge over the dry moat, leaving Maegor’s Holdfast. “I am kind of surprised that I am actually feeling a bit sad about leaving. That is odd, is it not,” she asks aloud.

“Well, my Lady, you did spend three years of your life here. The years you spent with the Lannisters are some of the most important and formative years for a young woman, seeing as the events that happen during that time can really impact your life and personality,” the handmaiden chimes in. Great, basically tell the girl that she’s at a risk for turning into Cersei, why don’t you? I thought you were her fucking friend! Sandor thinks, incredulously.

“Little Bird, a lot happened to you here; but worst of all is that this is the last place you saw your father and your sister, alive. Arya may still be alive; no one knows what happened to her. She is a real little wolf-bitch; if any child could survive on their own, it is her,” he tells her.

“I’m sure a part of you will always associate the Red Keep and King’s Landing to your family’s peril and hardship, considering this buggering place caused such pain,” Sandor tells Sansa, hoping that sounds a bit more comforting than telling her that she’s likely to turn into an evil, selfish cunt.

“You’re right, Sandor. I lost my father here. I lost Arya here. I lost Lady on my way here…. And though I love them with all of my heart, it still hurts knowing how my brother and my mother left me to fend for myself here, instead of trading Ser Jaime for me, or even just sending someone to at least try and rescue me,” she somberly says, wiping a tear from her cheek. “I just came so very close to losing me here,” she sniffles out. Fishing a small cloth from inside the edge of his cuirass, Sandor stops Sansa and wipes the tears that are now falling faster from her face.

“Here, Little Bird; in case you need this later,” Sandor tells her as he places the cloth into her hand. Memories suddenly return to him of when he dabbed at her bloodied lip after being struck by Ser Meryn on the command of Joffrey after showing the girl her father’s severed head rotting on a spike above the battlements of the Red Keep. She came so damn close to killing both Joff and herself that day, seeing as she wanted so badly to push Joff off the battlements to his death. If I thought I could have saved her from killing herself in the fall, and somehow managed to whisk her away from King’s Landing, then, I’d not have stopped her shoving that waste of flesh to his death, Sandor recollects.

“Thank you,” Sansa responds, never forgetting her courtesies.

 

As they reach the end of the serpentine stairs heading towards the stables, they suddenly hear the loud, unmistakable roar of fire, and the panicked screams of trapped men.

Instantly feeling his own panic slam into him, Sandor stops dead in his tracks. Frantically looking for the source, hoping it is not near, he is horror-struck when he notices that Stannis Baratheon’s men have set fire to the armory and that there are Lannister men trapped inside. The fire is directly in the path of the stables and Sandor knows that he will not be able to get both him and Sansa safely to Stranger. The fire is too close to where they have to walk, and his fear of fire completely paralyzes him.

 

Fire! I… I can’t. No, I can’t do it. Not again…. Godsdamnit; I’m fucking letting her down, he ridicules himself while feeling tears well up in his eyes, once again. “Such a pathetic fucking coward,” he scoffs under his breath.

Staring wide-eyed at the fire, trying not to blink to keep his pathetic tears from falling, he suddenly feels a small hand clasp his and sees Sansa step in front of him.

“Sandor, look at me,” she firmly orders. “The fire won’t touch you! It’s far enough away that it won’t get to you,” she tells him while lacing her fingers through his, keeping his attention on her instead of the blazing inferno behind her.

“I’ve got you, Sandor. I won’t let the fire hurt you; I promise,” she continues, squeezing his hand gently. “Let me help you through this, Sandor; you do not have to face your fear alone.” I wish she didn’t have to see me so bloody craven; she must be regretting wanting me to go with her now, he thinks, knowing she is probably disgusted with having to be the one to help him with his fear of fire twice now.

Sansa walks backwards, keeping her back to the fire, and also keeping eye contact with Sandor the entire time. “Do not take your eyes off of mine, Sandor; understand?” He nods in acquiescence.

Shae has Sansa’s other hand and is guiding her towards the stables, while she keeps Sandor from focusing on the fire. Focus on Sansa, you fucking fool. She is the only fire I could actually pray to be burned by, he muses to himself. I can do this… for her…. With her. I will do this, he recites like a litany to himself. Sandor is so fixated on her beautiful face that he doesn’t even notice how they have walked right past the fire with absolutely no incident.

“I knew you could do it, Sandor. We did it. Together,” Sansa tells him with pride filling her eyes making him realize that he is now standing in the stables, next to Stranger’s stall. I made it, he incredulously thinks. That’s the first time I have ever been able to get that close to fire.

Sandor knows that he could not have done any of it without Sansa Stark, who he suddenly realizes is still tightly holding his hand, despite already guiding him safely past the fire and inside the stables. She is right… we did it, he contemplates, wondering if this is what she meant when saying that she would ‘take care’ of him.

Suddenly he hears her words echoing in his mind, ‘surely a dog can join a wolf pack and feel at home.’ If only I could join her pack as her mate, he wishfully thinks, knowing that wolves mate for life.

 

Noticing that Stranger is the only horse in the stable, Sandor turns to look at the women. “Little Bird, there isn’t another horse for your handmaiden to ride to follow us to your horse. You might want to say your ‘goodbyes.’”

“But, what if you need help with the guards,” Shae asks.

“I can get us out. I’m wearing my Kingsguard cloak still and they won’t have heard of my desertion yet, either. However, if they are stupid enough to try and stop us, I’ll fucking bugger them with my steel,” he says frankly.

 

Trying to give Sansa and her handmaiden some privacy for their farewells, he opens the stall door and guides his huge black courser out.

Noticing the handmaiden leaving the stable after a few moments, he addresses Sansa. “Little Bird, I’ll need you to ride behind me in case I need to use my sword,” he tells her. “I want you to hide under my cloak to keep you hidden as much as possible.”

Nodding in understanding, Sansa steps closer to Stranger. “Don’t get too close to him, girl, he’s likely to bite you,” he tells her, grabbing her arm and quickly pulling her away from Stranger’s head where his ears are laid back, nostrils flaring, and he is stomping his right front foot. “I’ll have to lift you into the saddle; he only minds me.” He’s as cantankerous as I am, Sandor humorously thinks, causing him to slightly grin at his warhorse.

After patting down his mount and soothing his agitation, he motions for Sansa to come to him. Cautiously, she eases her way to stand beside Sandor, next to Stranger. Encircling her small waist with his huge hands, he effortlessly lifts Sansa into Stranger’s saddle and hands the saddlebag for her own horse to her. Mounting in front of her, he then covers her with his cloak.

As Sansa wraps her arms around his waist, Sandor suddenly wishes that he was not wearing his cuirass, as he would love to be feeling her body pressed up against his back and her arms wrapped around him.

“Ready to finally leave, Little Bird?” Hearing her response, he spurs his horse to exit on the opposite side of the stables, away from the fire.

 

Weaving throughout the streets of King’s Landing, Sandor is glad to see that because of the battle, most of the citizens of the city are sheltering in their homes, and not in the streets and in their way. It doesn’t take long to reach the Gate of the Gods and he quickly notices that the gate is still open and the new guards have not yet arrived to replace the ones that recently left. Glad that it appears they will be able to make a clean exit without anyone seeing them leave, he spurs Stranger into a fast gallop.

 

As soon as they are through the gate, he hears Sansa laugh gleefully. “We made it,” she peeps out. “We’re out of the city!”

“Aye, but we aren’t out of danger, yet, Little Bird. Where’s your horse hidden?” he asks her while patting her little hand hugging his waist.

“She’s about a league out of the city, on the right hand side of this road. You’ll see a small stone house with a broken down wagon right in front of the doorway. There’ll be a barn right on the left hand side of the back of the house. I’ll keep an eye out for it, for you,” she tells him from beneath his cloak. “You think I can take your cloak from over me yet?”

“Let’s wait until we get to your mount, just to be safe.”

 

After a few minutes, Sansa tells him that the barn where the Imp’s squire and her horse are hiding is within sight. Slowing Stranger down to a cantor, they near the structure quickly. Guiding his horse to the barn in the back, he quickly pulls his cloak off of his Little Bird and dismounts.

Sansa begins to dismount as well, but Sandor quickly stops her. “Little Bird, I would rather you ride with me tonight,” he tells her. “Not to offend you, but you are not the best rider, and I really don’t want another Bread Riot incident,” he says, remembering how terrified he was in thinking how he wouldn’t get to her in time.

“Do you really think I am at risk for that? There surely won’t be many people around where we are going,” she asks looking concerned.

“Mayhap, mayhap not. Don’t really want to take that chance with your safety, though,” he tells her, leaving out the fact that he really just wants to have her riding in front of him so he can hold her.

 

Apparently hearing their talking, the barn door cracks open and Sandor notices a young man’s face peer out at them. “Lady Sansa, that you,” the boy calls out.

“Yes, Podrick, we are here for Maiden.” Of course she’d name her horse Maiden, Sandor smirks under his breath. “Thank you ever so much for bringing her here for me,” she smilingly chirps at the boy, causing Sandor to roll his eyes. She’s smiling at him, he pouts, feeling jealousy creep up. But she asked me to go with her, though, he incredulously, yet smugly, thinks.

“’We?’ I thought you were leaving alone, milady,” young Podrick asks Sansa.

“I was originally, Pod, but I asked Sandor Clegane to come with me,” she replies with a sweet smile.

“Sandor Clegane? You mean the Hound,” he asks, voice breaking and eyes huge as saucers; clearly shocked that such a highborn lady like Sansa would ask the Hound to do anything aside from bugger off!

“Aye, boy, she asked me to go with her. Now fetch her damn mount so we can get the fuck out of here,” he barks at the boy, causing him to quickly scurry back into the barn, amusing Sandor.

 

After Podrick leads Maiden from the barn, Sandor takes Sansa’s saddlebag from her and affixes it to her mount before tying her reins to Stranger’s saddle. “Thanks again, Pod, for all of your help and for taking such good care of Maiden. I am truly grateful to you,” she coos at the boy, causing him to blush and look at his feet.

“It was nothing milady, glad to help. Wish I could help more,” he replies, causing Sandor to roll his eyes again. He’s obviously attracted to my Little Bird. Can’t exactly blame the boy, though.

 

Walking back to Stranger, Sandor slides Sansa forward in his saddle. “You’ll ride in front of me, Little Bird,” he says while mounting behind her.

Wrapping his left arm around her waist, he feels her shift to make herself comfortable, causing her arse to press firmly against his cock. Hissing in a deep breath, he feels himself hardening against his breeches and wonders if having her ride in front of him was such a good idea.

When Sansa settles back against his breastplate, lays her head against his armored shoulder, and sets her hand on top his against her waist, though, Sandor decides that it definitely is a good idea, after all!

Making sure that Sansa is settled, Sandor takes his reins and spurs Stranger into a trot heading toward the Gold Road with Maiden obediently following along.

 

 

After several hours of traveling along the Gold Road, Sandor leads Stranger and Maiden deep into the thick of the forest in order to find a place to make camp for the night. Sansa has fallen asleep in the saddle while resting against Sandor, and although he had a short nap in her chamber, he feels his exhaustion from the events of the battle, and his fight during their escape, catching up with him once again.

Seeing a small stream next to a clearing hidden behind two large boulders and a large grouping of trees, he decides that this looks to be a safe place to retire for the night. “Little Bird? Wake up. We’re going to make camp for the night,” he says while gently shaking Sansa awake.

“Oh, Gods, Sandor, you should have woken me up! I didn’t mean to fall asleep and leave you up alone,” she says while covering a yawn with her hand. “I guess I was just comfortable and the motion of Stranger rocked me to sleep,” she admits with a slight blush causing Sandor to chuckle. Never imagined she could feel comfortable enough to sleep on me.

“It’s alright, Little Bird. Been a stressful day for you, too,” he replies while dismounting and helping her down. “Can you set up our bedrolls while I go to the stream over there and wash up?”

“Oh, of course! Do you think it would be too risky to light a fire tonight?”

“Should be safe enough tonight. Not likely anyone will be out looking for us just yet with the battle still going on,” he tells her. “Assuming Joff survives and is still King, he will be too busy the next couple of days to worry about sending out a search party to find his plaything.”

Sansa cringes at being called Joff’s ‘plaything.’ “Alright, well I will get our campsite set up while you bathe and change,” she responds as Sandor begins rummaging through one of his saddlebags for some clean clothes.

After gathering his clothing, he unbuckles his sword belt and begins to remove his armor. Suddenly, Sansa is at his side and begins to unbuckle his cuirass and pauldron on his left hand side. “What are you doing,” he asks her, surprised at her assistance.

“Well, I figured the faster you shed your armor, the faster you can bathe, eat, and get to sleep,” she chirps with a slight blush ghosting her milky white cheeks. “Will my helping bother you,” she nervously asks. Seven hells, this is just a bit too close to Sansa fucking Stark undressing me!

“No, it won’t bother me,” he says while his fluttering stomach, pounding heart, and throbbing cock say otherwise. Fuck! She’s going to be the bloody death of me!

 

Working together, they quickly shed him of his armor. Just as he picks up his sword and clean clothes to head towards the stream, Sansa stops him. “Sandor, wait. I have some soap and a washing cloth you can use,” she chirps at him while fishing the items out of one of her bags. “Oh, and a drying cloth!”

Taking the proffered items from her, he smirks at the lemon scented soap she hands him before turning on his heel and heading towards the stream on the opposite side of the boulders.

 

Reaching the stream, Sandor sets his sword down near a tree not too far from the water’s edge, and strips his boots and soiled clothing off. Soap and washing cloth in hand, he crouches down into the frigid water hoping the cold will make his throbbing cock ease up. Feeling his arousal only grow, though, instead of diminish, Sandor knows he will not get any rest tonight with sleeping so near his Little Bird with a hard, aching cock. Seven hells!

 

Taking himself in hand, he spreads the seeped out evidence of his heightened arousal over the head and down the shaft of his cock. Remembering how it felt when Sansa gently washed his face, held him tightly, sang to him, embraced him again after the fight, and how her firm little arse felt pressed so snuggly against his groin, he begins to stroke his rock hard, throbbing member.

Fucking hells, I bet she’d feel incredible, he wishfully thinks, letting his head fall back while imagining Sansa’s tight, soaked little cunt milking his cock as if it were begging for his seed. Not taking very long due to how aroused he already was, he feels his balls tightening up after several firm pulls at his member.

Pumping himself faster now, he bites down on the side of his cheek to keep from uttering Sansa’s name out in a groan as several strong spurts of his seed erupt out of his cock, in his release. “Fuck!” he says, as quietly as he can manage. Don’t need her to know what I am doing while thinking of her, he thinks, hoping that the sound of the stream has managed to drown out any possible sounds of his pleasure.

 

Feeling better, but not quite satisfied, knowing that only a fuck could truly satisfy him—and honestly, only one with my Little Bird—he rinses his seed off his hand, stomach, and thighs before picking up the cake of soap and washing cloth Sansa had given him to bathe with. Washing the dried blood off of his face from the three Baratheon soldiers, Sandor secretly wishes Sansa would have offered to help him with that, again. I would have preferred her help with my cock, more though, he muses to himself, knowing that that will never happen. Keep dreaming, hideous damn dog!

Washing the rest of the battle from his body, he equates his ministrations as scrubbing away his years of misery with being under the Lannisters’ control. He then soaps up his hair to rid it of the sweat, blood, and grime coating his black locks. I must admit, feels damn good to wash away the filth of the Lions.

 

Feeling like a new dog, he makes his way to the tree where his drying cloth and clothes are. Drying himself off, he quickly dresses in his clean smallclothes, breeches, and tunic before sitting down to pull on his fresh socks and boots.

Picking up his sword, Sansa’s soap, and his soiled clothes, he makes his way back to their campsite to find that his pretty Little Bird has turned it into quite the proper little nest.

 

Sansa has built a nice sized fire and is perched on top of her bedroll. His is directly next to hers, and a whole lot closer than he would have thought she would want him. Seven hells, our bedrolls are damn near touching, he thinks in bewilderment. Sandor is glad to see that she has placed him away from the fire; unfortunately, though, he is on the right side of her meaning that his scars will be facing her.

Fuck, did she have to place me so that my ruin of a face is on display to her? Sandor self-consciously rakes his damp black hair over the left side of his face, desperately trying to cover and hide the puckered remains of his twisted flesh from her view as best he can.

Sitting on his bedroll is a wineskin and a cloth covered bundle that he can only assume is food. Setting his sword down next to his bedroll, he decides to unsaddle, brush down, and feed and water both mounts before settling down for the night next to Sansa.

 

After removing Stranger’s saddle, Sansa chirps at him that she fed Maiden an apple but was scared to approach Stranger, with good reason. He looked like he wanted to bite my Little Bird at the stable, which would have been a huge mistake! “Here, catch,” Sansa says as she tosses him an apple for Stranger.

“See there, boy? You try to bite her and she still offers you an apple,” he tells his huge black beast of a horse. “Next time, you’ll be feeding him an apple yourself, Little Bird. Think of it as a peace offering,” he smirks at a nervous looking Sansa while feeding his horse the treat.

After feeding Stranger Sansa’s offering, he brushes down his horse and leads him to the stream to drink before returning and doing the same for Maiden. After both horses have been unsaddled and brushed down, he leaves them both tethered by the stream to drink and graze as much as they want.

 

Realizing he is more exhausted than he initially thought, he decides to oil down his mail and armor, and sharpen his swords in the morning. Right now, he wants wine, food, and sleep. In that order. Wouldn’t mind a fuck, too, but that ain’t going to happen, he thinks knowing how his release only minutes earlier did not sate his arousal, in the least.

Picking up the wineskin and cloth bundle, he tiredly plops down on his bedroll next to his Little Bird who is daintily nibbling on some dried meat, cheese, and bread. Unstopping his wineskin, he takes several long, deep quaffs before opening the bundle of food the Little Bird had left for him.

“I won’t eat all of this, so if you are still hungry, you are welcome to it, Sandor,” she says. “You’re much bigger than me; you’ll need more food,” she chirps at him with a coy smile.

“Keep what you don’t eat, Little Bird; we will need to stretch out what we have for as long as we can.” He takes a large bite of the dried meat and washes it down with another swig of Dornish Red before eating more of the cheese and bread.

 

Sansa eats about half of her meal and puts the remaining portion up in one of her saddlebags before settling back on her bedroll. “You were right, you know?”

“What about?” He takes the last bite of his own food and glances over at the Little Bird perched in her nest next to him.

“You said I wouldn’t make it out of Maegor’s on my own. Had it just been Shae and I…” she trails off, unable to finish the thought; though Sandor knows exactly what would have happened.

“I am so glad you decided to come with me, Sandor. Thank you for saying yes,” she says while drawing her knees up to her chest and looking at him with her cheek resting against them.

“I wasn’t about to let you leave on your own, so don’t fret over it. It’s been a long day for both of us and we'll be needing to get an early start tomorrow so we can cover as much ground as possible.” With that, Sandor crawls beneath the furs of his bedroll, settles on his right side, and turns his back to Sansa, knowing good and well that sleeping so close to the girl will be hard enough on him; even without having to watch her sleep.

“Try to get some sleep, Little Bird. If you hear anything, wake my arse up; though I’m sure I'd hear anyone approach before you,” he sleepily says through a yawn knowing that his near two decades of being a warrior have honed his senses.

“Goodnight Sandor; sweet dreams,” Sansa sweetly chirps as he hears her shifting under the furs of her own bedroll. I’m sure I’ll be having dreams of a certain redheaded Little Bird with you so close by, he secretly hopes, preferring his farfetched dreams of Sansa over the nightmares that have plagued him since he was a freshly burnt pup. Goodnight, my beautiful Little Bird.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Six – Conversations, Cover Stories, and Awkward Moments

SANSA

After watching Sandor settle down beside her for the night, Sansa tries to heed his advice and get some sleep herself. Unfortunately, though, her unplanned nap in the saddle has rested her well enough that she is finding herself very much awake. I cannot believe I fell asleep on Sandor like that!

Sansa softly smiles and blushes upon realizing just how very comfortable and safe she felt, despite being pressed up against his hard armor. She relished the way it felt to have his strong arm wrapped snuggly around her small waist and couldn’t help but place her hand atop his, even though she knew she shouldn’t have.

Sansa knew that laying against Sandor in such a manner was indecently intimate, considering they are not married. However, she found that with all the stress of the battle and their escape, she just couldn’t find it in herself to care one bit about propriety.

The comfort she felt from Sandor’s arm wrapped around her, topped with Stranger’s steady gait, rocked Sansa into an effortless sleep.  

 

Hearing rustling from Sandor’s bedroll, Sansa quietly turns over to face him only to find him now laying on his back. Propping herself up on her elbow, she decides now is the perfect time to study his face without his knowledge, before the fire dies out completely.

His scars are facing her and she decides that they are not nearly as bad and gruesome as she once thought they were when she was barely going on her third and tenth nameday. She is so used to seeing him now, though, that she is having a hard time understanding what ever scared and repulsed her about his scars, in the first place. I was such a foolish, stupid little girl.

Upon noticing Sandor’s scars trailing down the side of his neck and disappearing beneath his tunic, she is curious as to how much of his shoulder and chest are also scarred. His perpetual scowl has softened in his sleep, causing the wrinkling between his good brow and where his scars begin to completely melt away. He looks so peaceful.

She realizes how much more handsome Sandor is to her when he isn’t trying to scare or intimidate people. Sansa thinks back to how angry she would become anytime she heard Joffrey calling him ‘ugly,’ ‘monstrously hideous’ or even worse names. Joffrey not only said such horribly cruel things behind his sworn shield’s back, but he oftentimes said them directly to his face! No wonder Sandor always looked so angry, and sometimes even hurt, she thinks, knowing how it must have stung to hear the boy you practically raised since birth think and speak so poorly about you.

Sandor would never openly admit that Joff’s comments ever bothered him, of course; Sansa knows that. He always seemed to try and look as if he never even noticed what was said about him; though, sometimes, she swears he would ever so slightly flinch at such words. Occasionally, Sansa honestly believes that she could even see pain and humiliation momentarily ghosting across his features—whenever Joffrey thought he was being clever, that is—before his face would resettle into its usual mask of indifference.

Sansa cannot help but feel sympathy for the man. Growing up with almost everyone you have ever encountered either running in fear from you, or looking repulsed by you, must have some kind of an effect on Sandor Clegane, regardless of any denial. After all, even the most hardened of men are not completely impervious to constant torment, ridicule, and hate.

Mayhap that is why Sandor is always so angry? I know if I were in his place I would probably beg for people to accept me instead of running or screaming in fear, Sansa thinks while feeling that, deep down inside, he must be quite a lonely man and secretly aching for him for it.

 

Very carefully, Sansa reaches her hand out to brush back a lock of his black hair that’s now laying across his burnt cheek and nose, from when he turned over. She freezes, though, when he suddenly turns his head slightly, swatting at what he probably assumes is an insect. Thank the Gods he did not wake!

Sansa takes note that he might just have a bit of feeling on his scarred side after all. For whatever reason she decides to file this information away, though, she does not quite know.

Cautiously continuing her clandestine adoration of him, she watches the rise and fall of his chest as his slumber deepens. Sansa would love nothing more than to be able to snuggle up close and wrap her arms tightly around him while laying her head on the expanse his magnificently broad chest. She is certain that listening to his steady heartbeat could easily soothe her back to the sleep that still eludes her.

Sighing, she knows that she can only ever dream about doing such things, though, as acting out on her desires could cause him to anger at, or to even mock her. He mayhap even abandon her in the forest over such wanton behavior. She doesn’t think he would go so far as to actually abandon her, but it would definitely make traveling, and essentially living, together for several moons, very awkward indeed.

Although, Sandor doesn’t seem to get as angry at her, nor even mock her, as much as he used to, she knows that that doesn’t mean he couldn’t start up again; and even worse than before. No. This is exactly why she can never let Sandor know how much she loves and desires him.

Because of this, though, Sansa has simply resigned herself to love him from afar; just like one of her silly stories and songs she once loved as a girl. Sandor is right, I’m such a stupid and naïve Little Bird and this is a heartache that I am only bringing on myself.

Forcing herself to try to and get some sleep, she steals one last glance at the face of the man she loves before settling back down into her bedroll beneath her furs.

Closing her eyes, she finally drifts off to sleep.

 

 

Feeling the warmth of the early morning rays filter through the canopy of trees on her face, Sansa suddenly realizes that she is surprisingly warm and feeling content in a way that she has never felt before. Fluttering her eyes open, she startles at seeing Sandor’s sleeping face merely inches from her own and facing her. However, that is not all that is unusual.

Raising her head and looking down, she notices that, somehow, she has made it halfway into his bedroll and beneath his furs with him with their bodies flush against one another. Their legs are even tangled together—his right thigh is nestled between her own in a most improper fashion!

Blushing at this, she discovers that their arms are also folded up between them and that they are clasping hands, complete with their fingers laced together, just as when Sansa led Sandor past the fire last night.

Oh, Gods! How did this happen? Sansa wonders while feeling her cheeks flush even more fervently and very glad that Sandor is still soundly sleeping.

Despite how extremely comfortable she feels in such an intimate position, though, Sansa knows that she should try untangling herself from him before he awakens. She would most definitely like to avoid any ire or mockery that she is fairly certain this would cause.

Did I grab onto him last night, or did he grab me? Or could we have somehow sought each other out? she wonders, deciding that it must have been her reaching for him and severely admonishing herself for it. Of course, Sansa desperately wishes that Sandor had actually reached for her as well.

Despite the impropriety of it, though, Sansa cannot help but enjoy the feeling of nearly being held in his arms. That’s as close as I’ll ever get to being held by him at night!

 

Before prying her hand out of his, she realizes how well their hands actually fit and look together. The stark contrast of her pale, delicate, and flawless little hand creates a strikingly beautiful juxtaposition to his much larger, calloused, and scarred tan hand.

After admiring how their hands look together, she attempts to disentangle their legs before he notices their positions. Her movements cause him to stir a bit, but thankfully, he is still peacefully sleeping. Sandor simply rolls over onto his back, thus freeing her legs.

 

Finally freeing herself from his body, she instantly misses the close proximity of how she woke. Seeing his lips slightly parted, Sansa realizes that she would love nothing more than to wrap her arms around him and kiss him good morning. However, she knows she cannot ever do such a thing. No telling how angry he would become at such wanton behavior, anyway. My poor late Septa must be rolling in her grave at my thoughts!

I wonder what his lips feel like though, she ponders while staring at his mouth and imagining pressing her lips to his. Would the burnt part of his mouth feel rough? I wonder if he could even feel my kiss on his left side. Gods Sansa, a kiss not my kiss! Sighing, she just knows that kissing Sandor would have to be so much more enjoyable than the few times Joffrey slobbered all over her face with his wormy lips.

Feeling slightly emboldened, Sansa kisses her fingertips and ever so lightly presses them against his lips, all the while praying he doesn’t wake. Thankfully, he doesn’t awaken but he does slightly moan, leading Sansa to blush once again while feeling her tummy start fluttering and an indescribable yearning sensation to settle deep within her woman’s place. Sansa does not quite understand what her body is feeling, but she somehow knows that it is an ache only Sandor Clegane would be able to soothe.

 

Deciding she should quickly distance herself from Sandor before she does something indubitably foolish, she scrambles over to her saddlebags and fishes out some food and a waterskin for the two of them to break their fasts.

Settling back on her bedroll she debates with herself on whether she should go ahead and wake Sandor up. Surely he will want to awaken as early as possible to get back on the road, she reasons as she gently nudges Sandor’s shoulder. “Sandor? It is morning, I have some food to break your fast.”

Grunting in response, Sandor does not wake. He must be so exhausted after the battle and the fight! But I don’t want him angry at me for not waking him! “Sandor! Wake up,” she says a bit louder while nudging him with more force. Suddenly grabbing his sword, Sandor points it at Sansa's chest while forcefully grabbing her arm, causing her eyes to widen as she trembles in fear.

Seeing the realization that he is not under attack and that it is only Sansa register in his eyes, he lowers his blade while loosening his grip on her arm before letting her go to sheath his sword.

“Fuck, Little Bird. Not used to being woken up like that. Sorry,” he says while noticing her rubbing where he grabbed her arm. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?” he asks, sounding worried.

“No, you didn’t hurt me,” she meekly replies while lowering her gaze, “just scared me, is all.” Stealing a glance back to his face, she can tell that her words have made him feel quite ashamed. He never used to look upset about scaring me before; he always seemed to enjoy it. I wonder what has changed?

 

“How long have you been awake?” he asks through a yawn while running his hands through his hair and rubbing his eyes.

“Only a few minutes. Here is some food to break your fast,” she tells him while offering him some bread, cheese and an apple. “And here is a waterskin we can share, as well; we don’t have as much water as we do wine, but I can go to the stream and refill this one once I wash up and change.” She sets the waterskin between them and begins to pick at her own meal.

“You can take the wineskin I had last night and fill with water, as well; it’s empty,” he tells her while unstopping the waterskin to quench his thirst before tearing into his bread.

 

Between bites, Sansa tries to engage Sandor in a bit of polite conversation. “Did you rest well?”

“Well enough,” he curtly responds. “You?”

“I did, thank you,” Sansa replies, slightly smiling at the remembrance of how she woke up with him as she collects the waterskin for a small sip.

“Unfortunately, my most peaceful sleep came just within the early morning hours. Not sure why I felt better then, but it sure as hells didn’t last long enough,” Sandor says causing Sansa to suddenly choke on her water while blushing deeply.

“You alright, Little Bird?” he asks with concern filling his voice as he gently pats her back.

After her choking has subsided, she answers his inquiry. “Yes, thank you; I am quite well. I only swallowed wrong, is all,” she lies, hoping he will believe her as she knows she is a terrible liar.

 

Stopping the waterskin once again after finishing her morning meal, Sansa stands and makes her way to her saddlebags containing her clothing, soap, and washing and drying cloths. “If you do not mind, I shall like to clean up and change before we get back on the road.”

“Aye, go ahead. I need to tend to my swords and armor before we leave anyway. Don’t go past those boulders, though. There’s a small clearing right behind them where you can safely bathe,” he tells her. “Got your dagger?”

“Yes, I slept with it on.”

Sandor only grunts and nods in response. He seems kind of quiet. I wonder if he knows about this morning…. Oh, Gods, I hope not!

“Oh, where is that empty wineskin of yours?”

Taking the last bite of his meal, he simply points towards where his saddlebags and saddle are resting near a tree. Finding the empty skin, Sansa makes her way behind the boulders and begins to shed her gown, shift, and smallclothes before sitting to remove her boots and stockings.

Before she begins bathing though, she remembers to transfer her two pieces of heirloom jewelry and the Gold Dragons Sandor had given her to the hidden pockets of her new gown, before refilling the empty wineskin.

Sansa has decided on wearing one of her blue gowns that she embroidered the little bird and vine motif on, knowing that her hair and eyes are complemented by the color and secretly hoping that Sandor will take notice. Is it so wrong to want him to think me pretty, even if he will never return my affection? she silently wonders, though, honestly, not really caring if it is wrong or not at this point.

Removing her sheathed dagger from her thigh, she unsheathes it and sets it on the bank of the stream where she will be able to reach it easily. Shae had advised her to always keep her dagger unsheathed and nearby whenever bathing and dressing so that she could access it quickly in the event of an attack. Even though Sandor is on the other side of the boulders and will most definitely protect her, Sansa has learned that she should never fully rely on a man for protection if she is also able to protect herself, as well!

Suddenly, the realization that a couple of large boulders are the only things separating Sandor Clegane from seeing her nude form is having an odd effect on her. The fluttering in her tummy, and the yearning sensation she felt earlier this morning, is upon her once again, but this time even stronger than before. On top of that, though, she is beginning to feel a strange wetness pooling within her woman’s place, as well! Oh, my Gods, did I just make water on myself? she shockingly wonders, feeling immense heat creep up her neck and face.

Oh, how I wish Shae were here, Sansa thinks, knowing that her friend and former handmaiden would surely know what is wrong with her. Deciding it best to ignore these strange new feelings and sensations she’s been experiencing, Sansa instead grabs her soap and cloth, takes a step in, and kneels down into the shallow water of the stream.

 

As soon as the frigid water laps at her bare skin, Sansa cannot help but shout out in shock.

“Oh, Gods that’s cold!” In response she hears a loud bark of laughter coming from Sandor.

“Aye, sure is. Damn near froze my balls off last night!” he shouts back causing Sansa to blush at his words.

Sandor! You shouldn’t say such things!” she admonishes him, though laughing at the same time.

“Why the hells not? It’s true!” he loudly responds with mirth filling his voice. Well, at least he seems to be in a better mood at the moment.

 

Due to the cold water, Sansa hurriedly finishes her bathing. Collecting her dagger and sheath, along with her soap and washing cloth, she makes her way back to the tree to dry off and dress as quickly as possible.

After strapping her dagger sheath back to her thigh, she takes up her soap, soiled clothing, and their newly refilled waterskin, before heading back to where Sandor is sitting atop his bedroll sharpening his longsword.

“If there is any running water near where we make camp this evening, I might could wash our soiled clothing and let it dry overnight near the fire. If you feel it safe to have one, that is,” Sansa offers as she makes her way to her saddlebags.

Sandor glances up and nods in agreement before continuing his work, but not before his eyes trail over her body, lingering a bit longer on her bust, causing her cheeks to redden a bit. Unable to see his expression, as he looks back down rather quickly, she cannot help but think, and hope, that he may have actually liked what he saw, even if he didn’t verbally say so.

 

While taking her braid down, Sansa puts her things back in her saddlebags and fetches her brush. Sitting back down on her bedroll next to Sandor, she begins brushing out her hair to braid for the day.

“The water was too cold to wash my hair. I am afraid if I leave it wet this time of year, I could become ill,” she says to break the growing silence.

“Do you think we will be able to stay in any inns at all? Or do you feel that would be too dangerous?” she quietly asks, hoping he will not think she is just acting like a spoiled, whining child. “It would be nice if we could occasionally as it will only be getting colder now with winter coming. It would not be safe for either of us to get wet and chilled.”

“We mayhap can; it’ll just depend on how things look once we near a town or village with one,” he rasps in response while never slowing his ministrations on sharpening his blade.

“We will have to have a cover story though, in case anyone talks to us,” he plainly states. “Innkeeps can be a rather talkative breed. I would prefer if you left the talking to me, though, since you sound so bloody highborn.” I cannot help that, I am highborn, she silently sulks.

“Well, I could always use the name Lord Tyrion wants me to use for the raven messages in Deep Den—Norah,” she responds, reminding him that she already has an alias, at least.

“As far as a cover story… hmm, let me think.” Sansa is honestly only pretending to silently think for a few minutes, knowing good and well how she already has a story in mind!

Finally, after a few moments, she peeps out “you are a sellsword on a mission for your current employer and I am your loving and doting wife! I always insist on traveling with you on your missions, though, as we never know what will happen on one, nor how long you will actually be kept away from me,” she happily states with a sincere smile, hoping he will go along with pretending to be a loving husband and wife.

Sandor suddenly stops his work with his sword and whips his head around to look at her with slightly narrowed eyes. “My wife?” he incredulously asks before barking out a harsh, mocking laugh.

“You honestly think anyone with eyes in their godsdamned head will truly believe that a lass as beautiful as you would actually really marry a hideous fucking dog like me?”

Shaking his head in disbelief and still chuckling, he continues more somberly, “they will think that I raped you, or ruined you, and that you were forced into marriage by either your father or myself.”

Reaching out to gently touch his arm, Sansa notices that her touch causes him to slightly flinch and his breath to catch at her contact. Looking right into his eyes, she very clearly tells him a truth he refuses to believe.

“Sandor Clegane, you are not hideous!”

“Oh, right! Next thing you’re going to say is that I’m as handsome as the bloody Knight of fucking Flowers!” he responds callously, though she can actually see something different than anger in his eyes.

Sansa cannot be certain, as this look is something she has never witnessed from the scarred warrior before, but it almost looks like vulnerability, and mayhap even hope. As if he is desperately wanting to allow himself to believe her words. Oh, Sandor, if only you could see yourself the way I see you; Ser Loras Tyrell has nothing on you!

“Spare me, Sansa,” he quietly states with a sigh before turning his face away, looking off into the distant trees. The tone of Sandor's voice breaks Sansa’s heart. She would love to be able to tell him how handsome she finds him to be but she knows that after what he has just said, he would only think she was mocking him no matter how adamantly she denied such an accusation.

That was the first time Sandor has ever called her by her given name, Sansa realizes. He didn’t call her by her title, Lady Sansa, nor did he call her Little Bird—he just called her Sansa. Unfortunately, though, he was upset when he did so.

 

Determined that her proposed cover story is the only believable option, she tries to compromise and reason with him. “Let us at least try my idea out, Sandor, just once. That way, if anyone questions us, or seems to act like they don’t believe us, then we can change our story for the next town. I just do not think you are old enough to believably be my father, plus we look absolutely nothing alike. And not to mention how we have different accents, so pretending to be siblings would not be all that believable, either,” she adds, hoping to satisfy his pessimism.

“Any other scenario where I am accompanying you as an unmarried woman without a chaperone, plus sharing a room with you, would just paint me as your… well, as your paramour!” she states, trying not to sound so scandalized by the thought; though, truthfully, she is scandalized by it! “I do not want to be thought of as just your whore, Sandor; so, what do you say? Can we at least try my idea out? Please?”

Sandor takes a deep breath and slowly exhales before looking into Sansa’s pleading eyes. She can see that he is about to accept her proposal, even if he is hesitant to do so.

“Fine. But I’ll be sure to come up with something more believable for when we get laughed out of the next buggering town we come across trying to make people believe that you would actually marry my ugly arse.” Oh, Sandor... I would marry you!

 

“You know, Sandor, physical appearances are not the only thing that can make you attractive to someone,” she tells him after a few moments, hoping to soothe his doubts. I think I could probably kill Gregor myself for causing my sweet Sandor so much pain! Wait, my Sandor? Gods, Sansa Stark! You know Sandor is not yours and won’t ever be yours, so stop torturing yourself, you stupid, foolish girl!

“Aye, mayhap you're right; but when a woman cannot bear to even look you in the face without retching at the sight of you, she ain’t likely going to want to get to know you well enough to fall for your charms,” he dejectedly says as he sheathes his longsword and reaches for his greatsword. Oh, no, has someone actually done that to you? she wonders, realizing now why he seems to be retreating inside himself. That must have been so unbearable! My poor love.

“You know that Lord Tyrion is not considered attractive in any conventional way. Not only is he a dwarf, but his eyes are two different colors, his body is somewhat twisted, and his head is even a little misshaped, as well. But, that sure did not stop Shae from falling in love with him,” Sansa tells him, hoping to instill a bit of hope in him. “They are so much in love that they were actually secretly married two moons ago, too!”

That got Sandor’s attention causing him to stay his movements and look at Sansa with his good brow raised before furrowing back into a deep scowl. “Wait a fucking minute… you mean to tell me that the buggering damned Imp is married to that exotic beauty?” he growls out with a mixture of disbelief and jealousy written across his face and in his voice. ‘Exotic beauty?’ W-was Sandor attracted to Shae? “Seven buggering hells, that fucking figures,” she hears him mutter under his breath with a deep sigh while disbelievingly shaking his head.

“So just how in the hells did they manage to pull off a ‘secret marriage’ right under Cersei’s and the Old Lion’s noses?” he asks without looking up.

“Well, from what Shae told me, Lord Tyrion paid a traveling Septon a considerable amount of coin to remain quiet about the entire thing. On top of that, though, Bronn supposedly put the ‘fear of the Seven’ into the poor holy man,” Sansa replies with a shy smile and trying to stifle a giggle.

“The wedding was very beautiful, but brief. It took place in the Godswood of the Red Keep since no one ever visited there aside from me, anyway. I gave Shae away and removed her Maiden’s Cloak for her. She knelt and Lord Tyrion cloaked her and then they said their vows. It was so romantic, Sandor!” Sansa happily beams with a huge smile.

Shaking his head, Sandor looks at her. “Romantic? Still believe in your songs after everything you’ve been through, eh Little Bird?” he scoffs with a raspy chuckle. “And just why exactly did you have to give away your handmaiden?” he asks, looking at her once again.

Sansa tells Sandor that Shae had asked her to stand in as her family, seeing as how the two have grown as close as sisters, but how they got to that point is, actually, kind of a long story. She decides to give him a somewhat shortened version of the tale, though.

Turning her body on her bedroll to face him directly, she begins the story of how Lord Tyrion and Shae met, fell in love, and married; all in secrecy.

“So, everything began when Shae came to Westeros from Lorath as an orphan at three and ten years of age, trying to escape her father’s immoral intentions with her….”

As she begins her story, Sansa sees Sandor’s chainmail and armor laying in a pile by his side, next to an old rag and a pot of oil. She suddenly remembers him saying that he still needs to oil his armor before they can leave. “While I am telling you the story, would you like me to help you tend to your armor? You said it needed to be oiled, am I correct?” she sincerely offers while holding her hands out for him to pass the supplies over.

Sandor stops his work and looks at her with not only confusion at her offering to help with such a task, but with also admiration for actually making the offer. He obviously didn’t expect a highborn lady offering to assist with such physical work, she proudly thinks, glad that he is being forced to see that she is not just some spoiled little princess who cannot pull her own weight.

“The hauberk is rather heavy; think you can handle it?”

“I am not quite as weak as people assume, Sandor.”

Sansa thinks she hears him say ‘no, Little Bird, you are definitely not weak,’ under his breath, but he was so quiet that she cannot be certain.

“Oiling armor can be rather messy. You’ll ruin your pretty gown if you don’t cover it,” he says as he leans over to his right and reaches for his discarded Kingsguard cloak. He thinks my gown is pretty! “You can cover yourself with this; don’t right give a fuck if it stains anymore.” Sansa takes the proffered cloak from him, feeling a slight jolt as their fingers briefly touch.

Noticing him slightly flinch and glance up at her to meet her eyes, she thinks that he may have felt it, as well. I wonder what that was, Sansa wonders, slightly blushing and demurely lowering her gaze.

She blushes even deeper, though, at the realization of how she has another one of Sandor’s Kingsguard cloaks packed safely in the bottom of one of her saddlebags. That coarse white woolen cloak is one of my most cherished possessions, Sansa admits silently to herself, fondly remembering how much comfort she felt anytime she brought it out to sleep beneath after a particularly hard day at court.

Sansa always loved wrapping Sandor’s cloak snuggly around her body and lying in bed, imagining him pulling her tightly into his strong, warm embrace. She would often breathe in his tantalizingly masculine scent that, somehow, still managed to linger, despite him not wearing the cloak for quite a while. Anytime Sansa felt overwhelmed by Joffrey’s cruel antics, she would always secretly wish to be held and comforted by Sandor. However, seeing as how that was never possible, she would have to settle for his cloak, her imagination, and dreams, instead.

 

The day Joffrey heard of how her brother, Robb, defeated the Lannisters at the Battle of Oxcross, he had Sansa severely punished to “send a message” to the King in the North. Joffrey ordered Ser Boros Blount to dole out her punishment, and so the knight ripped her mauve silken gown off of her shoulders, chest, and back, along with her corset, thus exposing the last remnants of her modesty to the entire court. Ser Boros then set to punch her several times along her bare stomach and her sides with his gauntlet sheathed fist before setting to strike her across her back and the backs of her thighs with the flat side of his sword.

Sandor covered her stripped and beaten body with his cloak when no one else would after Lord Tyrion finally arrived and was able to reign Joffrey in. Sandor then gently picked her up and carried her back to her chamber. Since he didn’t ask for his cloak back, Sansa happily kept it.

Once upon a time, Sansa would have prided herself on her smooth, unblemished flesh when she first arrived in King’s Landing. Now, I wear quite a number of scars, myself, proving that I am indeed a wolf, after all. I am a Stark—I can be brave and I will survive.  

 

Spreading Sandor’s Kingsguard cloak across her lap, she intently listens to his instructions on how to tend to his armor. “Alright Little Bird, you will need to work the inside of the hauberk first, as that always rusts the fastest due to being against my sweat covered body during battle,” he tells her as he hands over the chainmail.

“Take this cloth and a rub a thin coating of oil along the mail. Anywhere you see any rust, you will need to work the oil into the individual loops. Fresh rust will be about the color of your hair.” Nodding in understanding, he then hands her the cloth and the pot of oil.

“With the amount of needlework that you do, your fingers should be strong and nimble, making them suitable for the task. They are also small enough to manipulate the metal loops fairly easily, too; in fact, probably a whole lot easier than my own huge fingers, at that,” he says while she notices the unburnt corner of his mouth forming a slight smirk.

 

Having heard her instructions, and with the required supplies in hand, Sansa immediately sets to work and continues telling Sandor all about Shae and Lord Tyrion.

“Alright, so once Shae arrived in Westeros from Lorath, she had no connections here. This led her to having become a whore, as unfortunately, there are not very many occupations a young foreign woman can do to earn a living.”

Wanting to make sure she is doing as he instructed with his mail, she asks “am I doing satisfactory, Sandor?”

Stilling his sharpening, he watches her work for a few moments. “Aye, you’re doing just fine, Little Bird.” Proud that she did not need to be corrected, she continues her work and the tale of true love.

“Back during the Battle of the Green Fork, Shae served as a camp follower; though, honestly, I am still not quite so sure what that actually is,” Sansa says, causing Sandor to ever so slightly chuckle at her.

“No, don’t s’pose you would; what, with being such an innocent and maidenly Little Bird, and all,” he rasps with yet another chuckle, sincerely confusing Sansa.

“Well, anyway… so, that is how Bronn found her, who then brought her to Lord Tyrion’s tent the night before the battle. Lord Tyrion became instantly enthralled with her, too, seeing as how Shae never once made him feel as though his being a dwarf was anything wrong; unlike how his very own family tends to do to him. He then found that her sassiness complemented his sarcasm so well, that he actually offered to bring her to King’s Landing with him as his kept woman; if he survived the battle.”

“So, since the Imp obviously survived the battle, where the hells did she live during her time as his kept woman?” Sandor asks, sounding fairly interested in the story, which seriously surprises Sansa. “I don’t recall ever seeing her around the Red Keep before becoming your handmaiden.”

“Well, from my understanding, Lord Varys helped Lord Tyrion set up a manse for her outside of the Red Keep, nearer to Flea Bottom. Lord Tyrion would then use the Red Keep’s hidden passages to visit with her. But, after the Bread Riots, he feared for her safety and so he had Lord Varys help him get her placed in Lady Stokeworth’s service.”

Sandor only grunts in response, so Sansa continues. “Apparently, though, Lord Tywin actually threatened Lord Tyrion, telling him that if he found out he had brought a whore to court, then he would have her hanged! I just simply cannot fathom how a father can be so utterly cruel to his very own son; and all because he was born with an affliction that no one had any control over,” Sansa disdainfully says.

“Anyway… so that was when Lord Tyrion had Shae placed into my service, as my handmaiden, allowing him the ability to watch over her more closely.” At least that way Sansa knew that Shae was not one of Cersei’s spies, otherwise Joffrey would have known that she was planning an escape several moons back.

“Aye, and I definitely would not put it past the Old Lion to make good on his threat about hanging her, either; especially after what he did to the Imp’s first wife—poor little lass,” Sandor somberly rasps, shaking his head at all Sansa has told him so far.

“Wait… what? Lord Tyrion was married before?” Sansa asks, unsure if she heard him correctly.

“Aye… was many years ago. The Imp was about five and ten, I guess. I was only three and ten; same as the girl. Tysha, I think her name was.”

“What happened to her?” Sansa nervously and quietly asks. Oh, Gods… why do I have such a bad feeling about this? Because, Sansa Stark, most the Lannisters are evil, that’s why!

Sighing, Sandor stills his work with his blade and looks at her, trying to determine whether or not she honestly, really, wants to know the horribly gruesome truth.

“Tywin forced the Kingslayer to lie to the Imp, telling him of how Tysha was just some young whore he had paid to fuck his little brother into becoming a man. After that heartless blow, though, the Old Lion then took the girl and had all his buggering sers rape her bloody before forcing the Imp to be the last one to take her. Tywin ‘so generously’ paid her a Silver Stag for each man that took her, while giving her a Gold Dragon for the Imp’s turn; seeing as how he is a Lannister, and all. As if a mountain of coin was any fucking consolation for all that girl suffered,” he says, voice practically dripping with sarcastic contempt.

Gasping, Sansa slaps her hand over her mouth as her eyes widen in heartbreaking shock. “Oh, Gods! H-how awful! That poor girl!” Trying to suppress her tears, she decides that she just absolutely must know whether or not Sandor had been a participant in such a vile act.

Finally getting her bearings about her, Sansa steels her nerves and quietly whispers, “d-did you participate in that?” Please say no.

“You know that I don’t rape, Sansa,” he rasps as he looks directly into her eyes. “Never have, and don’t have any intention on ever starting, either.” Oh, thank the Gods!

“I know you are not a rapist, Sandor, and I didn’t really believe that you could have done something so horrendously vicious; but seeing as how you were so much younger at the time, I guess I just wanted to be sure.”

Gregor took a turn. Or three.”

“Why, that does not surprise me?” she rhetorically asks while feeling a couple of warm tears trickling down her cheeks. Sansa finds it so hard to believe how Gregor and Sandor could actually be brothers. Aside from their unusually large size and similar coloring, the two men are as polar opposite as Sansa is from her wild younger sister, Arya. Gregor is just vile!

 

The two fall into a comfortable, companionable silence as they both continue their tasks, and after a few minutes, Sandor sheaths his sword and takes in Sansa’s progress with his mail.

“You sure learned to oil mail a whole heck of a lot faster than my last squire,” he tells her with what she thinks, and hopes, sounds like pride in his face and voice. “Way more beautiful than him, too,” he adds in a near whisper, as if he wasn’t really intending for her to actually hear his compliment.

“Thank you,” Sansa whispers in response, anyway, all the while blushing and smiling sweetly at the man.

Sandor merely grunts and clears his throat while trying to hide away his embarrassment of being heard, thus amusing her, greatly. Sansa swears that if she did not know any better, she might just be able to interpret the slightly pink tinge to his unscarred cheek as a faint blush.

“Where’s your dagger? I’ll sharpen it for you,” he asks, apparently wanting to redirect her attention.

Briefly stopping her work, Sansa silently reaches her small hand through the two slits in her skirt and shift to unsheathe her dagger and hands it to him, hilt first. He looks at her in surprise, his good brow raising, and asks with pride filling his voice, “you actually made an opening in your skirts, just to access your blade?”

Smiling, she nods, “I did! I thought that it would be better, and even a bit easier, than having to lift my skirt and shift just to access it if I needed it in a hurry. The folds of my skirt hide the two openings well enough, I think.”

“But, have you actually practiced drawing it, though? As if you were being attacked, I mean?”

“I have, yes. Shae taught me how to use it, and Bronn played the part of an attacker,” she tells him, nearly laughing at the memory of when she almost cut the poor man’s arm after she had caught him unawares. Shae was rather proud of my very nearly drawing blood!

“Good. We will make camp a bit earlier tonight, then; I’m wanting to see with my own eyes how you handle yourself,” he tells her, suddenly making her feel extremely nervous. I have been practicing with my dagger for several weeks, now; why would demonstrating my skill to Sandor make me feel so nervous? Sansa wonders, knowing how she is really wanting him to be impressed with her and not just think that she is some helpless, stupid little bird in constant need of protection!

“Do all of your gowns have access to reach your blade?”

“All of the gowns that I personally made for our travel do. However, there is one silken gown that I brought with me, for when we make it to my family, that is, that doesn’t. Although, I am thinking I should probably add an opening to that gown, as well.”

“Clever Little Bird, indeed. Might not be such a bad idea,” he tells her with a slight smirk lifting the good corner of his mouth. “Just because you’ll be back with your family doesn’t mean you won’t be around potential danger.” Surely you will be there to protect me, too, though… right?

 

As Sandor sharpens her dagger for her, Sansa has just finished oiling down his hauberk. “I am done with your mail, so would you like me to start working on your plate armor, now?”

“You’re done already?” he surprisingly asks. “Aye, you can, if you feel up to it, Little Bird. You’ll need to coat it over with the oil, paying more attention to the inside, where it’s closest to my body; just as you did with the hauberk,” Sandor tells her. He then effortlessly lifts his heavy mail hauberk off of her lap with one hand, as if it weighs absolutely nothing, before he hands her his cuirass.

“If my armor rusts over too much, it’ll weaken, which could lead me to getting wounded, or even killed, in a fight,” he emotionlessly says, as if talking about his own potential death has absolutely no effect on him, whatsoever.

“Oh, Gods; please make sure you check over my work before you put it on again, Sandor. I could never forgive myself if you were hurt or… or… oh, Gods… No!

Sansa flat out refuses to finish that statement. Even just the notion of her somehow being responsible for Sandor getting hurt, or worse—to actually get killed—is just way too much for her to bear.

Chuckling at her, he says “don’t go getting your feathers all ruffled, Little Bird; I’m sure you did just fine, but I will look it over.”

Smirking at her apparent distress with amusement in his eyes, he adds “stop your worrying, girl; your dog’s not going anywhere. It would take a lot to kill me.” Wait, did he call just himself my dog?

“Sandor, you are not a ‘dog,’” she firmly tells him. Sansa is secretly thrilled about him calling himself hers, though, even if he did just call himself a ‘dog.’ Don’t read too much into it, Sansa; he is only jesting with you.

Chuckling a bit more, Sandor looks at her and says “now, just because I don’t belong to the buggering King any longer doesn’t make me any less of a dog, Little Bird; just have a new master is all. Well, mayhap we should make that a new ‘mistress,’” he teases, causing her cheeks to flush.

“Face it, girl… you stole Joffrey’s dog from him,” he tells her, sounding rather amused at his own jape.

Not sure how to respond to all of this, Sansa just stares at him through huge eyes, an open mouth, and a flushed face. He laughs heartily at her reaction as he hands back her freshly sharpened dagger, hilt first.

Honestly, if Sansa didn’t know any better she could almost think that Sandor was actually trying to flirt with her. Wait, could he know…?

No… surely not. Sansa nervously begins to wonder, now, whether or not Sandor has managed to figure out that she has fallen in love with him. If that’s the case, then she is sincerely hoping that he is not just mocking her feelings for him.

 

“We’ll get done faster and can move on sooner if we work together,” he says, interrupting her worrying. Sandor uses his own dagger to cut off a large square piece of his Kingsguard cloak, making himself a rag. He then dips it into the pot of oil and works on oiling his gauntlets, pauldrons, gorget, and rerebraces, while Sansa continues working on his cuirass.

“As soon as my plate is done, we can pack up camp and get back on the road.”

Sansa notices Sandor working much faster on his plate than she is, but she wants to be thorough, knowing all that stands between the man she loves and injury or death, is this here armor in her very hands!

 

With the both of them working on his armor in unison, they finish just a short time later. Sansa hands him his oiled cuirass and ties the lid back onto the little pot of oil before handing it to him, as well.

“Can you begin packing up camp while I saddle our horses?” he asks as he stands and stretches with the surprising grace of a feline. Gods… how can he look even bigger without his armor on? Sansa wonders, watching his fluidic movements in awe. He is magnificent!

Forcing herself to stop ogling his impressive physique, she tells him “of course, Sandor,” as he fastens his sword belt to his waist and straps his greatsword across his broad back. “Don’t you need to adorn your armor before putting your sword belts on?”

“About that… I am going to need you to ride with me again, Little Bird,” he tells her, not realizing how happy he has actually made her just now. “I’ll need to let my hauberk dry thoroughly before I can wear it again, and I thought to drape it over Maiden’s back. My plate armor will dry well enough in my larger saddlebags, if I leave them open to get air.”

“But Sandor! You need to wear your armor!” she frantically and worriedly chirps at him. “What if we are attacked?”

“No need to panic, girl; I’ve fought thousands of times without any armor. Everything will be fine, Little Bird; I’ll keep you safe,” he soothingly rasps to her, instantly easing her worries a bit. “We will stay far off of the road, as well; not quite as likely to run into very many people that way.”

“Alright,” she says, immediately rising to her feet and stretching before she begins rolling their bedrolls up while Sandor heads towards where he tethered their horses.

Making quick work of gathering up their bedrolls and collecting their saddlebags, Sansa kicks the dirt and leaves over the sight of their campfire. Satisfied that she has successfully hidden any trace of the fire, she does the same thing to where their bedrolls were. Sansa is now hopeful that it will be much harder to tell if anyone has ever stayed here; just in case anyone might be actually trying to track them.

 

As Sandor is saddling Stranger, Sansa brings his saddlebags and bedroll to him so that he can affix them to his mount, repeating the process as he fetches and saddles Maiden. Next, she watches as he checks over and picks out any rocks and sticks from each of their horses shoed hooves, knowing how vital it is to take care of your horse’s feet; especially when traveling long distances, or over rocky terrain.

“How long do you think it will take for us to reach Deep Den?”

“Deep Den’s a hundred and fifty leagues, give or take, from King’s Landing, and we can travel about twelve, or so, leagues per day; if we make good time. So, we should make it in about a fortnight; or thereabouts.”

“That’s not so bad, at all, then! I honestly thought that it would take us much longer than that,” she tells him, wondering what kind of temporary home he will be able to find for them once they reach the area.

Sansa is secretly rather thrilled about her and Sandor getting the opportunity to live together in an actual home, as if they truly are husband and wife, instead of only pretending to be married if they happen upon any towns. This notion simply serves to make her shyly smile to herself, though, all the while sincerely trying to fight down a rather deep blush.

“Nah, it’s not too bad; we’ll need to get an earlier start from here on out, though. I know I should have tended to my armor and swords last night, but, honestly, I was just too damn exhausted to even give a fuck about it,” he says as he finishes checking Stranger’s hooves.

“Was thinking that we might could stay in Stoney Sept for a couple of nights; if it looks safe enough, that is. It’s a small market town about twenty or so, leagues north of the Gold Road; plus the Peach is there.”

“Is the Peach an inn?”

“Aye; and a brothel,” he emotionlessly rasps, as if Sansa Stark staying in a whorehouse is a common occurrence.

“A brothel? Sandor, you cannot be serious!” she responds with a wrinkled brow.

“D-do you mean to use a woman’s ‘services’ while we are there?” Sansa nervously asks, trying to camouflage her hurt and jealousy as mere disapproval.

“What the Seven Hells you talkin’ ‘bout, girl? You are the one who suggested we pretend to be married, Sansa,” Sandor drolly rasps out with a look of mirthful disbelief plastered across his face.

“Fuckin’ hells, Little Bird…!” he wheezes out through a loud bark of laughter, slightly startling Maiden from where he’s still tending to her feet and sounding entirely more amused at Sansa’s distress than she feels he ought to be.

“I wouldn’t exactly be taking my wife along with me to a whorehouse if I was intent on fucking some whore, now would I,” he mirthfully rasps, apparently finding way more enjoyment in this entire ordeal than Sansa is.

“Seriously though, Sansa… if we were actually married for true, then there is no way in the Seven buggering Hells that I would ever have the need of some whore. I’d be busy fucking you, now, wouldn’t I, Little Bird? You know… with you being my wife, and all?” Sandor explains, though still incredulously chuckling at how ruffled her feathers have apparently gotten over the situation.

The verbal, and rather graphic, visual imagery Sandor just painted of he and Sansa being married in truth, though, is inappropriately flashing throughout her mind. In fact, because of what he’s inadvertently caused her to visualize, she just knows that her face, neck, chest, and ears absolutely must be turning a shade of red that is at least three shades brighter than even her hair.

There is also that same fluttering feeling in the pit of her tummy, and her heart is beating considerably faster now, too. On top of that though, she is also beginning to feel the strange yearning sensation she’s experienced a time, or two, as well.

Spinning around to turn her back to him, so that she can try calming herself down, Sansa feels it once again; only this time, there is considerably more of it.

What is that? Sansa worriedly wonders regarding the moisture that has now begun trickling down her inner thighs from her woman’s place. Oh, I hope I am not becoming ill!

“Um… please excuse me for a moment, Sandor; I should like to go tend to my needs before we leave,” she untruthfully says, making a quick dash past the man towards the other side of the boulders, before he has a chance to reply.

Using the excuse that she needed to see to her needs, Sansa tries to use the time she has alone to calm her rapid heartbeat. Taking several deep calming breaths, she finally begins to feel her face returning to its normal creamy complexion as her racing heart slows its frantic rhythm.

Thinking about the various times she has actually felt these new strange sensations, she realizes that they have always been any time she ever has any kind of inappropriate or wanton thoughts about Sandor. Sansa deduces that they must have something to do with what men and women do in the marriage bed; though, she’s not entirely sure what, exactly, that would even be, just yet!

                                       

Feeling herself settling down, finally, she makes her way back to Sandor and their horses. “Do you think we will need to wear our cloaks, even though we’ll be traveling through the forest?”

“Nah, we should be alright without them until we near a town or village; but, whenever I tell you to put it on and draw your hood up though, don’t ask questions—just do it!”

“Of course, Sandor; I will do as you bid.”

 

Sandor has just finished draping his hauberk across her saddle on Maiden’s back and has placed his plate armor in a couple of large saddlebags, allowing it to dry thoroughly before he goes to wear it again.

“Let’s get going, Little Bird; we’ve dallied about long enough this morning,” he says, motioning for her to approach him and Stranger. After walking over to him, Sandor encircles her small waist, effortlessly lifts her up, and gently sets her atop Stranger’s back before gracefully mounting behind her.

Allowing her to get settled in the saddle in front of him, Sansa thinks Sandor might actually be pulling her back into him a bit more than she was last night. Mayhap it only feels as such because he is not wearing his armor.

Feeling Sandor’s hardened muscular chest pressing so firmly against her back, Sansa tries to ignore the effect his close proximity is having on her, but to no avail. The deep sense of desire she is starting to recognize is making its reappearance, though it’s only intensifying by the way the saddle is slightly rubbing against her most delicate of places.

“You all set?” Sandor asks, thankfully oblivious to her semi-aroused state.

Not trusting her voice to betray her, she simply nods as she feels his strong muscular thighs urging Stranger forward with Maiden in tow. Oh, Gods, this is going to be so very difficult!

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven – Startling Revelations and Drastic Measures

TYRION

“Where is he?” cries a worried feminine plea from the solar of the Hand of the King’s chambers. “Where’s my Lion?” the dulcet voice demands more insistently. “You better let me in to see my husband, Bronn, or I swear I will cut you!” the newest Lady Lannister demands with enough venom in her voice that could make most of the Kingsguard cower in fear. Not that our Kingsguard are of a particularly courageous breed, however.  

“Easy now lass, if it weren’t for me, your Lion would be as ugly as the Hound!” Bronn mirthfully responds back. “So, instead of threatening me, Lady Lannister, you ought to thank me!” he tells Shae through a mocking grin.

“All jesting aside, though, the maester just left and gave the little Lord a clean bill of…” Tyrion hears Bronn try to explain his condition to his beloved wife but is cut off as she barrels right past the sellsword cursing him in her sultry sounding Lorathi accent and bursts through the doorway of the bedchamber. “…health…” Bronn finishes with one of his characteristic sly smirks as he trails along after the lissome woman.

Before Tyrion can reiterate Bronn’s declaration of his wellbeing, his sweet Shae is throwing herself into his short arms on his bed and pressing their lips together with a force that would normally be excruciatingly painful if it were not a kiss he so desperately needs. Knowing how so very close he came to death only a few short hours ago, he will not push his Shae away. He needs this affection from her. This reassurance. Apparently, Shae needs this from him, just as much.

 

After showering him with much needed kisses, Shae suddenly slaps Tyrion’s arm with more force than he feels necessary. “Ouch! That was harsh!” he feigns hurt while trying to suppress a smile at his concerned little wife.

“What does he mean by ‘I ought to thank him?’” she asks with concern practically dripping off of her precious little pout.

“Oh, it is really nothing, my dear. Bronn just earned his next pay day is all,” he says, trying to sound casual so as not to have her needlessly worry. Seeing that she is not falling for his nonchalance, he proceeds to explain what Bronn meant. “During the final hours of the battle one of Baratheon’s men came running towards me wielding a huge battleaxe. Just when he was about to split my handsome face in two, Bronn here cut the man down,” he finishes while suppressing a chuckle at seeing Bronn’s smug look of satisfaction. “I did stumble, though, and fell backwards with my head striking against a dead soldier’s helm rendering me temporarily unconscious, hence the maester’s examination. He says I have a nasty lump on the back of my head but that I am out of danger of a concussion.”

“Ah, the benefits of the little Lord having such a hard head!” Bronn helpfully chimes in causing Tyrion to give the sellsword a sarcastic smile in return.

“Tyrion!” Shae says while slapping his arm once again, this time harder than before and actually almost hurting. “You told me you weren’t going to be in danger with what your position in the battle was!” she pouts out at him. “You lied to me! You knew all along you’d be in the middle of the fighting, didn’t you?”

Her being upset is exactly what he was hoping to avoid by untruthfully telling her he would be far removed from the battlefield and the fighting. Sighing, he only has one option if he wishes to remain out of the proverbial dog house. “Yes, my love, I did know I would be in the midst of the battle and I am truly sorry for not being forthcoming about my role,” he somberly admits, looking rather sheepish at his lie even if it were to keep his wife from worrying which in turn kept him from worrying about his wife’s worrying! All this worrying about worried wives is giving me quite a thirst, he muses while reaching over to the bedside table for his goblet and flagon of wine.

After taking a small sip of the sour red wine, he gently rubs Shae’s arm. “Please tell me you forgive me, my sweet Shae,” he coos, looking apologetically at her, “and tell me that you shall still wish to sleep in our bed tonight?”

Tyrion can always tell when his Shae has forgiven him. She tries so hard to keep her face looking forlorn or angry, but whenever he gives her his ‘I’m sorry’ face, her eyes smile first before her luscious little mouth. Ah ha! Works every time, he thinks, as he sees the sparkle in her eyes immediately followed by the slight twitching of the left corner of her mouth before her lips finally curve into a coy smile. “Of course I forgive you, just don’t lie to me ever again!” she demands. “I could have lost you, Tyrion!” He agrees to her demand to pacify her but he knows that there are times when he absolutely must lie to his wife in order to keep her and their marriage a secret, especially from his nephew, father, and Cersei. What my Shae doesn’t know won’t have her pissed off at me!

 

After a few moments of passionately kissing, they both hear Bronn not quite so subtly clear his throat to break the newlyweds out of their happy reunion. “I hate to interrupt you two…” he sarcastically begins only to laugh at the daggers Shae is shooting him through her intense gaze. “Did the little Lady make a clean escape?”

“Oh! Right, Lady Sansa. I had meant to ask sooner but my beautiful wife distracted me!” Tyrion chimes in looking like the cat who got the cream. “How did things go last night?”

“Lady Sansa is safely on her way to her family,” Shae informs the curious men. “My Lady instructed me to give this back to you my love,” she says while fishing the leather purse Tyrion had given Sansa from out of the belt of her dagger sheath strapped to her shapely thigh.

“Why did she give it back?” he asks with a furrowed brow while taking the proffered pouch from his wife.

“Because her escort North insisted he would take care of her!” she responds with a coy smile letting the men know that she knows something they don’t but would very much like to find out about. Tyrion is more like Lord Varys in that regard than he cares to admit; I do love some juicy gossip!

“Escort?”

“He?”

Bronn and Tyrion ask in unison, both men looking rather confused at this turn of events.

Tyrion continues to question Shae, desperately curious to know what transpired last night to change Lady Sansa’s plans of escaping alone to now having not only an escort, but a male escort. “Who is this escort?

Asking if both men are ready for this startling revelation, she finally tells them, “the Hound!”

“Wha…” not even able to complete the word as he is just so completely speechless, Tyrion sees that Bronn isn’t doing much better with his eyes as huge as saucers and his cocky mouth now gaping open like a fish.

Shae laughs heartily at the shocked looks on both men’s faces, “you heard me right, boys. The Hound is going North with Lady Sansa!” she says once again. “Let me tell you, though… as soon as Lady Sansa told me that she had asked her Hound to go with her and him agreeing, I have never been so glad to fetch moontea for an innocent maiden before in my life!”

“You think he will force himself on the little Lady?” Bronn asks, actually sounding concerned which sincerely surprises Tyrion considering he normally is not a very moral man.

“Last I heard, you cannot really rape a willing participant,” Shae answers with a smirk.

“Whoa, whoa… wait a minute… did you just say willing participant?” Tyrion asks in disbelief. “As in, Lady Sansa would actually want the angry, sullen, scarred, and drunken brute?”

Laughing at his obvious bewilderment, “oh, Lady Sansa not only wants him, she also loves the man!” Shae states with confidence.

“Just let me get this straight. You mean to tell me that Lady Sansa Stark, of House Stark with bloodlines dating back eight thousand years is in love with Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane?” Tyrion asks before adding, “a second born son from a minor house who is one of the fiercest warriors in Westeros, with a temper as ugly as his face?” 

“The very one,” Shae answers. “Though you might want to be glad Lady Sansa did not just hear you call the man she loves ugly!” she teases. “Her inner wolf might emerge at such talk!”

“Well, does the Hound know of her feelings for him?” Bronn chimes in with a look of utter surprise still plastered to his face.

“No, but he does share them,” she tells them. “They are both very much in love with each other though it seems neither believe the other capable of feeling the same way.”

“So, Clegane actually told you that he is in love with Lady Sansa?” Tyrion asks. This is just unbelievable, he thinks.

“Oh, no way!” Shae laughs. “But with my former profession,” she winks at Tyrion before continuing, “I am quite adept at reading men. I have known for quite a while that the Hound had a soft spot for Lady Sansa. Haven’t you ever noticed how the man looks at her when he thinks no one sees him?” she asks.

“No,” both men respond in unison. It isn’t like Tyrion goes out of his way to look at Sandor Clegane. Doing so would draw the man’s attention and he knows that drawing his attention usually draws forth his rage. And also his rather large greatsword as well!

“Now that you mention it, though,” Bronn begins, “I have noticed him coming to the little Lady’s aid anytime the young King took to punish the girl….”

“Huh… you are right; why I never noticed that before, though, I do not know,” Tyrion acquiesces. “Clegane has even gone as far as speaking out of turn at Joffrey when the bastard had the poor girl stripped and beaten, trying to stop him.”

“Aye, I remember that. He shouted ‘enough’ at both Ser Boros Blount and the King when he ordered the knight to hit the girl with his sword after stripping her and punching her. The dog’s got balls, I’ll give him that; not like your nephew to be interrupted and be fine with it,” Bronn says dryly, making Tyrion realize just how huge of a risk Clegane took on trying to spare Lady Sansa from Joffrey’s wrath. Clegane may have damn near raised the boy and is his sworn shield, but Joff’s vicious enough to overlook the man’s near two decades of loyalty for his insolent treason, as Joffrey and Cersei would see it.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the man pummel Blount and Ser Meryn Trant in the training yard any following morning after they beat the girl on command,” Bronn says sounding grateful that he never had to spar with the giant of a man himself. “The morning after she was stripped by Blount was especially brutal,” Bronn chuckles at the remembrance. “Blount was huddled on the ground in the fetal position while the Hound relentlessly thrashed him with his tourney sword, ultimately breaking it on the whoreson. After it broke, though, he resulted to pound him with his fists until five other knights pulled him off the man. Even with Blount wearing his cuirass and mail, the Hound managed to bruise, and mayhap even crack, the bastard’s ribs; and don’t even get me started on how his face weathered,” he finishes actually sounding proud of Clegane’s revenge for Lady Sansa’s pain and humiliation.

“Good! I could have killed that bastard myself for hurting my poor Lady Sansa that way!” Shae chimes in making Tyrion smile at how close the two ladies became. One of my smartest decisions was putting my Shae in Lady Sansa’s service; they were good for each other.

 

“Let’s not forget about the Bread Riots when I tried in vain to get Ser Meryn Trant to go after poor Lady Sansa. Joffrey didn’t care what happened to her and viciously exclaimed that he would rather let the rioters have her as he had no more use for the girl,” Tyrion says to his companions. “I was about to send you out, Bronn, to help me locate her when suddenly in stormed Clegane with a terrified, but otherwise safe, Lady Sansa. She was nestled in his arms with her own clasped tightly around his neck in desperation.”

 

Shaking his head of the memory of seeing the severely obese High Septon being ripped apart limb from limb, he recollects the brief exchange of words he had with Clegane after the man pried the Lady’s trembling arms from around his neck. ‘The Little Bird’s bleeding. Someone take her back to her cage and see to that cut,’ he remembers Clegane saying. Though when he tried praising the man for rescuing the girl, and thus ensuring his brother, Jaime’s safety with the Starks while he was temporarily in their custody, his response of ‘I didn’t do it for you,’ made little sense to Tyrion at the time. But now after Shae’s revelation, those six little words Clegane uttered are as much of a public declaration of love as one could expect to hear out of a man like him.  

“Can you blame her for holding on to him so tight after he saved her from almost being brutally gang raped?” Shae asks. “Lady Sansa told me how she was pulled from her horse by what she thinks were five men before they drug her to an alley where they were hitting her and ripping at her gown and smallclothes,” she somberly reiterates Sansa’s near tragedy. “She tried fighting them off but was losing her strength. She said she was about to give in to her fate when the Hound pulled the men off of her, butchering each one, before scooping her up and carrying her to safety.”

No, Tyrion definitely cannot blame her for that. He was tempted, himself, to kiss Bronn right on the lips after he prevented the Baratheon soldier from splitting his own head in two just the night before. Stealing a glance at Bronn before looking back at his beautiful Shae, he smirks to himself, well, I may not be quite that thankful. “You are positive that she really loves Clegane, right Shae? It isn’t just some sort of hero worship she is feeling?”

“No, my love. I am certain that Lady Sansa is hopelessly in love with her Hound,” she answers. “I will be honest; I was actually thankful he was with us when we were leaving Maegor’s Holdfast as we came across three Baratheon soldiers right around the corner from her chamber. The Hound reassured his ‘Little Bird,’ as he calls her, before getting rid of the soldiers. And then, as soon as he got his sword sheathed, Lady Sansa threw herself into his arms embracing him briefly, yet tightly. He looked a bit confused, and even nervous at first, but his eyes briefly closed and it appeared like he melted right there in her arms for a very brief moment. It was actually pretty sweet to see them together like that. I don’t think the poor man has ever had a woman love him or show any kind of affection to him, which is kind of sad.”

“I have heard him refer to her as ‘Little Bird’ a few times,” Tyrion says thinking of how uncharacteristically sweet the nickname is coming from Clegane.

 

“And, after he dispatched the Baratheon soldiers, Lady Sansa ended up helping him soon after when his fear of fire prevented him from being able to pass by the burning armory,” Shae says making Tyrion realize now why Clegane acted the way he did on the battlefield last night. Of course! His burn scars. Tyrion never considered him having a fear of fire because thinking of Clegane scared of anything seems preposterous, but now it all makes sense. The wildfire was probably the final straw for him; he must have finally snapped when he said what he did to Joffrey before leaving the battlefield. Knowing Clegane went straight to Sansa just confirms Shae’s saying he loves the girl as what he said to the king will be considered treason. He would know that he would have to flee or Joffrey would have him executed, but yet he risked getting caught in order to see the woman he loves. That’s actually quite romantic, Tyrion thinks knowing that his sadistic shite of a nephew must never hear any of this; especially that the wolf and the dog are in love, and ran away together, even if they haven’t told one another yet.

 

Never in his life would Tyrion have thought that sweet and innocent Lady Sansa Stark could fall in love with her former betrothed’s scarred up guard dog. But, to tell the truth, it seems like Clegane has been Lady Sansa’s dog for a couple of years now, he reasons to himself. If Shae can look past my being a dwarf and love me then I guess it really isn’t so hard to believe that the kind and beautiful Northern princess could be able to see past burn scars and get to know the man behind the Hound persona. “Well, they both may be in love with each other and who knows, mayhap they will eventually figure out that their feelings are mutual. But however romantic you may find that to be, my dear wife, it is highly unlikely King Robb will be inviting Clegane to sit above the salt as his most eligible pawn’s husband,” Tyrion states, sad for poor Sansa knowing that King Robb will probably betroth her to someone the moment he sets eyes on her to secure an alliance. That is if he hasn’t already betrothed her in absentia, he thinks, glad that at least her future husband-to-be couldn’t possibly be any worse than Joffrey.

 

Before Shae can respond, the three hear light knocking on Tyrion’s chamber door. Quickly ushering Shae to hide behind a dressing screen, Bronn makes to answer the door.

 

“Is Lord Tyrion awake?” coos the effeminate timbre of Lord Varys. Sighing in relief that it is not Cersei, Joffrey, or his Lord father, Tyrion tells Shae that she can come out of hiding as Lord Varys knew about their secret wedding before they even exited the Godswood. The Master of Secrets ‘little birds’ fly everywhere, he muses, glad that Lord Varys so far hasn’t betrayed him and his secret marriage to his family.

 

Crawling out of bed and putting on his red, black, and gold silken robe, he waddles in to his solar with Shae following closely behind. “Lord Varys” Tyrion forces a fake smile and calls out, “and to what do we owe the pleasure this fine post-battle morn?” he asks the bald man noticing the rather smug look on his normally jovial face.

“Lord Tyrion,” the man addresses him with a bow of the head before turning to Shae, “Lady Lannister,” he says with another slight bow and a sincere smile. “I am pleased to see the battle has left you in one piece, my Lord,” Lord Varys addresses Tyrion after turning back towards him.

“As am I, Lord Varys,” he agrees before giving Bronn his due. “Bronn here is who I have to thank for preventing me from becoming the quarter-man,” he jests knowing how Clegane would oftentimes refer to him as Half-man, when he didn’t call him Imp, that is.  

“’Tis what you pay me for,” the sellsword smirks and gives an over exaggerated bow.

“Well, we are all thankful you were there in the right place at the right time,” Lord Varys titters out. “Though I suspect Lady Lannister here is the most thankful.”

“Oh, aye, she is,” Bronn grins, “that’s why she threatened to cut me when she saw me this morning!”

Huffing in exasperation, Shae exclaims “that was before I knew you saved my Lion’s life!”

“Now, now children!” Tyrion feigns disappointment. “We already went through this and I am sure Lord Varys has a reason for his visit and does not need to hear you two bickering.”

Lord Varys stifles a chuckle before speaking up. “Yes, I did come to see you for a reason,” he says, steeling his features to his normal unreadable expression. I can never tell whose side the Spider is on in this gods-be-damned game of thrones. “I came about Lady Sansa and her escape from King’s Landing.”

Getting all three of their attention, they all seem to draw a sharp intake of breath and gape at the silken clad eunuch. It should not surprise me that he knows, but Godsdamnit, we have been so bloody careful! “Oh, yes, I knew all about her planning to leave for a couple of moons,” he says smugly. “I also know that the King’s former betrothed fled her gilded cage with the King’s former dog,” he adds with the corner of his lip slightly turning up in what Tyrion assumes is a smile.

Before Tyrion can even say anything about this admission, Bronn surprisingly draws his sword and threatens the man on Lady Sansa’s behalf. “You best keep that information to yourself, Master of Secrets,” he says at a visibly shaken Varys. Whoa, talk about uncharacteristic of Bronn! I guess Lady Sansa Stark brings out the protectiveness in the unlikeliest of heroes, Tyrion ponders to himself thinking of her obvious effect on two hardened men.

 

“Bronn, lower your blade,” Tyrion says as he tries to read the bald, plump man. If he has known about Lady Sansa’s plan to leave for so long and didn’t tell Cersei or Joffrey, mayhap he will keep this secret too. “I want to hear what Lord Varys has to say,” Tyrion tersely states giving an almost imperceptible threat that should he feel Lady Sansa is in danger from the Spider’s tattling, he will not hesitate to make good on Bronn’s initial warning.

“I know no one trusts eunuchs, but honestly, I have absolutely no intention in betraying sweet Lady Sansa,” he earnestly states, his eyes displaying a deep sincerity. “I failed to help her father as he unfortunately trusted Lord Baelish due to the man’s history with his wife, but I will do my best to help his daughter. Lord Stark was a good man who wanted what was best for the realm. Like him, I too serve the realm; not the mad little boy on the Iron Throne.” For some reason, I feel like I can actually believe his words, Tyrion contemplates knowing how Littlefinger betrayed Lord Stark causing his arrest that ultimately led to his death. That’s one way to earn the affection of the woman you love; assist with having her beloved husband beheaded!

 

“As it is now, the King is still unaware that Lady Sansa is missing,” Lord Varys conspiratorially begins, making Tyrion wonder what plans he has hidden up his silken sleeves. “With the aftermath of the battle, and with a new and demanding betrothed to fuss over him, the King has, thankfully, been too busy to realize that the girl is gone.”

“Oh, to be a fly on the wall when he finds out that his favorite whipping girl is gone,” Bronn says with a chuckle, though stating Tyrion’s own thoughts on the matter.

“Indeed, he will be rather upset, won’t he?” Lord Varys jests. “What will be even more rewarding is seeing the boy King’s reaction when he realizes that his dog is missing as well.”  

Tyrion knows that Joffrey will be incensed over both Lady Sansa and Clegane being gone; he also knows that he is too stupid to think that Lady Sansa would plan an escape. And he always thought the Lady was the stupid one.

However, Tyrion knows that if his sister manages to put two and two together and figures out that Clegane and Lady Sansa are together, and long gone, she will more than likely send every living soldier out searching the ends of the earth for them. Or even worse… she’ll send out her favorite champion, Gregor Clegane. Shuddering involuntarily at the thought of what Gregor would do to sweet Sansa should he find them and defeat the younger Clegane, Tyrion says with all seriousness, “we have got to come up with a way to ensure that Joffrey and Cersei never find out that the two are together.” Cersei will be unrelenting and merciless if she does figure it out, Tyrion fears, though knowing deep down that it won’t be if she finds out, but when.

“My thoughts exactly, my Lord, which is why I am here,” Lord Varys chimes in. “When I am eventually asked in the Small Council if I have heard any whispers from my little birds on the matter, I shall tell them that Lady Sansa has not been seen since the night of the battle; perhaps it will be thought that she was taken by Baratheon’s men considering a number of them did breach the Red Keep,” he says to which Tyrion, Shae and Bronn nod in acquiescence. “However, I shall tell them that Clegane was seen boarding a ship for Essos in Maidenpool and was most assuredly alone. Hopefully, that will make the boy King realize that his former sworn shield is not with his former betrothed and thus not worth the effort in hunting him down.”

“That may and well work in regards to Clegane, but not for Lady Sansa as she is still a valuable hostage, even with Jaime back home and the King in the North alive. Lady Sansa is still a very highborn maiden with a lineage of eight thousand years,” which is still the main reason why Tyrion initially had a hard time seeing her falling in love with the likes of Clegane.  

 

“Uh… I got an idea, though you might not like it,” Bronn speaks up.

“I believe we are open to hearing any and all suggestions at this point to ensure the Lady’s safety, no matter how farfetched. It is the least I can do to honor her late Lord father,” Tyrion says knowing the debt the Lannisters owe the Starks, thus prompting Bronn to express his idea.

“Well, let’s say that in about a moon’s turn from now, a rather decayed body of a tall, fair skinned, redheaded woman is found washed up on the banks of the Blackwater Bay, mayhap in the King’s Port or near the Fish Markets,” Bronn says to a rather shocked, and somewhat disgusted, looking Tyrion, Shae and Varys. “Now, now… just hear me out,” he pleas, only continuing when Tyrion urges Bronn to continue discussing this wild idea of his, as he did say he was open to hearing all suggestions.

“You see, if the body is decayed enough, it just might could be passed off as the little Lady thus ending any suspicions that she made it back to her family. We could take one of her gowns she left behind and get it all dirty and torn like she was kidnapped and raped before being murdered and dumped like trash,” he says a bit too casually for Tyrion’s comfort in mentioning Lady Sansa being brutally raped and murdered. “Now, obviously for this to work, we’d have to find a young woman about Lady Sansa’s age with the same coloring and stature that wouldn’t be missed; preferably an orphaned whore, mayhap. We could dress her in the Lady’s old gown and then weigh the body down in the Bay enough that she would wash up during the next high tide.”

 

Tyrion knows he must look affright with his slacked jaw hanging open and eyes wide as saucers while looking at the man he considers his friend, despite paying for his company and sword. Seven hells, I want to keep Lady Sansa safe but this is taking it a bit far, Tyrion shockingly thinks not noticing at first how his sweet Shae and Lord Varys are seemingly agreeing with this suggestion of Bronn’s and are even adding their own input on how to best pull it off successfully. “You two cannot seriously be considering this plan?” he asks with a furrowed brow.

“Tyrion, my love, I will do whatever it takes to protect my Lady Sansa! You know I love her like my own sister,” his wife states, confirming his suspicious fear. Looking back at Bronn and Lord Varys, Shae continues, “now the thing is, we absolutely cannot get a whore from King’s Landing as Lord Baelish might recognize her despite being decayed, as you say, Bronn.”

Lord Varys speaks up saying that he will find the perfect Lady Sansa replacement with the help of his little birds which Tyrion secretly finds a bit grossly ironic considering the nickname of Little Bird Clegane calls the girl. Oh, may the Seven forgive us our sins against this unknown innocent woman who’s only mistake will be being a whore at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sadly, the more Tyrion thinks about it though, he feels that these drastic measures might just be drastic enough to actually work.  

 

“Do you remember my telling you of how I replaced Prince Aegon with a peasant baby prior to Ser Gregor’s attack on Princess Elia and her children during King Robert’s Rebellion?” Varys reminds Tyrion thus letting him know that he has already essentially done something similar to what Bronn suggests. Tyrion simply nods at the man in response.

Tyrion knows that if Joffrey believes the body that washes up actually is Lady Sansa, he will be sure to send a raven or a messenger to gloat on the death of the King in the North’s eldest sister. However, he also knows that to have the plan remain foolproof, he will not be able to send any ravens to the Starks, himself, to let them know that the real Lady Sansa is, as far as they know, alive and well and on her way to them with her loyal and faithful guard dog in tow. And by the time she arrives to them, this guard dog just might be her potential lover and possibly even husband if Shae is correct, Tyrion thinks knowing that Sansa’s family would not be pleased. He feels that they may even have to keep their relationship secret, just as he and his Shae must do, that’s if they both get on the same page. Tyrion cannot help but hope that they do for he knows Sansa deserves happiness in her life after her mistreatment by his family. And if Shae is right about Clegane never having a woman love him, then the man should be allowed to experience that with Lady Sansa if the Gods allow.

 

Seemingly satisfied with their plan for protecting Sansa, Lord Varys makes his leave and Tyrion dismisses Bronn as well. He intends to spend the remainder of the day in bed loving his wife. He knows that tomorrow he will be expected at court for Joffrey to reward gallant soldiers during the battle. Bronn is supposed to be knighted, himself, and Tyrion is more than happy to support his friend.

 

 

As he watches Shae undress from her handmaiden’s gown, Tyrion sheds his silken robe and smallclothes. Standing in front of his wife, next to their bed as naked as his nameday, he cannot help feeling his arousal soar and his cock stiffening under Shae’s hungry, lust filled gaze. Seven save me, she looks ready to devour me, he smirks to himself as he watches the sway of Shae’s nude hips and breasts as she walks towards him, kneels down, and passionately begins to kiss him.  

 

After breaking from their kiss, Tyrion makes to climb up in the bed but not before Shae surprises him by turning him to face her, lifting him up, and sitting him on the edge of the large feather bed. He knows that he is not very heavy since he is half the size of a man of normal height, but Shae has never done that before. Before he can even say anything, though, she gives him a mischievous smile, pushes him to lay back, and takes him into her mouth much to Tyrion’s delight. “Oh, fuck me,” he half way chuckles out causing Shae to smile around his cock.

“Not yet, my love. We have all day for that!”

“I am definitely not complaining!”

“Good, then shut up and let me suck your cock,” Shae cheekily says as she takes him back into her mouth while gently massaging his balls the way she knows he loves.

Swirling her tongue around the head, she laps up the clear essence of his immense arousal before sucking him deeper into her mouth and rubbing her tongue along the protruding vein on the underneath side of his cock. He knows he won’t last long like this; he can already feel his balls tightening up in his beloved’s hand. Trying to urge her to move away, she just slaps his hand away and starts sucking on his cock even harder. His peak is suddenly upon him as he feels three strong spurts of his seed filling Shae’s mouth. Trembling from such an intense release, Shae is still sucking on him firmly. Oh, Gods, I think she’s trying to suck me dry.

Releasing his overly sensitive cock from her incredibly talented mouth, he watches in awe as she savors every last drop of his seed before licking her lips and giving him a rather smug look. “Shae…” he begins, though still breathing heavily, “that was… just… Gods, that was incredible.”

As Shae lightly laughs at his rather dreamy looking expression plastered to his face, he too starts chuckling. I love the sound of her laugh, he thinks as he makes a silent vow to always keep his beautiful wife smiling and laughing.

 

Tyrion slides himself back into the bed and pats the mattress next to him, “come here you little minx,” he says which warrants yet another lighthearted laugh. Shae crawls into the bed next to him and kisses him with immense passion, not even caring that he can taste himself on her tongue.

Breaking from their kiss he wryly smiles at her as he says “I think I will need a few minutes before I am ready for anything more,” causing her look of smug satisfaction to grace her face again.

“Oh, I am quite certain it will not take my Lion very long to recover, for he is quite a virile man.”

Knowing that he has been unable to spend much time with Shae during the days leading up to the battle, he is more than happy to remain in bed and make love to his Lady wife the rest of the day.

 

After a few short minutes, Shae obviously has noticed his cock stiffening once again while she is nibbling and sucking on his ear and neck. Giving him a knowing smirk, she straddles his hips while reaching to guide him to her entrance. “Gods, you're soaked,” he half way moans out as she lowers herself agonizingly slow onto him, burying his cock clear to the hilt inside of her perfectly tight cunt.

As she rolls her hips over him, Tyrion realizes that he desperately needs to find a way to leave King’s Landing with his wife so they can start living their lives without the fear of being found out. Mayhap Lord Varys will have an idea.

 

 

Waking with a smile at the remembrance of his and Shae’s rather active day yesterday, he reaches over to her side of the bed and disappointingly feels nothing but empty sheets. I hope she was able to sneak out unseen, he thinks as he flutters his eyes open to immediately squint and groan at the sunlight shining through his bay windows. Ugh, it is way too early to be so bloody bright outside!

Suddenly realizing that the sun is further up than when he normally wakes, he darts up to scramble out of bed and anxiously reads the sundial by his bay window. “Oh, fuck! I was supposed to be at court half an hour ago!” he curses to himself as he quickly waddles as fast as he can to his wardrobe to dress in his clean smallclothes, black leather breeches, red and gold velvet lion embroidered doublet, and silken socks before he then sits to pull on his black leather knee high boots. After finishing getting dressed, he runs his hands through his hair and puts on his Hand of the King pin while stealing a final glance in the looking glass on his wardrobe’s door. Very handsome, if I do say so myself, he smirks at his reflection in approval.

 

Rushing out of his chamber, he runs as fast as his short little legs allow down the spiral staircase of the Tower of the Hand towards the throne room. Finally reaching the back entrance to the throne room, after what feels like forever, Tyrion sneakily saunters in behind the Iron Throne and takes his place towards the back left hand corner of the throne right out of Joffrey’s eyesight. Even though Joffrey is so caught up with telling of his prowess on the battlefield to see his tardy uncle’s appearance, Tyrion does catch the smirk and wink of Bronn from where he is standing in line awaiting his knighthood.

 

Really getting into his tale of battlefield heroics, Joffrey has now risen from his throne, arms flailing about, while animatedly telling the court of how he singlehandedly fought back Stannis Baratheon himself. Joffrey’s ferocity, of course, caused Stannis to retreat and flee out of sheer fear. Apparently noticing Tyrion out of the corner of his eye while prancing up and down the dais, Joffrey stops mid-sentence and furrows his brow in confusion, “Uncle, have you been here the entire time?”

Of course, your Grace! I would not dare miss this momentous occasion despite my injuries. Please, continue telling the court how a true and proper King defends his people and his Kingdom!” Tyrion states with feigned sincerity. “We are all so entranced with your tale of bravery.”

Apparently none the wiser of Tyrion’s mockery, Joffrey turns back to the court, “as you all should be, of course!” he begins again before remembering that he has lost his train of thought, “wait, where was I?”  Gods save us from such ignorant stupidity!

“You were just telling the court how Stannis retreated in fear from you, sweetling,” Cersei coos at her son.

Whipping his head around to glare at his mother he spits out “that’s your Grace, mother!”

“My apologies, your Grace,” she replies while demurely lowering her gaze and donning a modest, yet insincere, smile on her face. Must sting fiercely to be reprimanded by your own son at court, eh sweet sister?

 

“Excuse me, your Grace,” Tyrion cuts in awarding a glower from the boy King, “we are all so very thankful for your retelling of the battle; perhaps, though, his Grace will feel it is time to reward the other brave men who kept our beloved King’s Landing from falling to that pretender, Stannis Baratheon?”

Hearing murmuring and tittering from the court, Joffrey apparently is appeased enough to agree, and by the way Tyrion stated his suggestion, the King believes ending his own tales are actually his idea. “Quite right. Of course a good King honors his brave warriors and so I have decided that it is time to begin with the ceremony!”

 

Tuning Joffrey out as he begins his pompous, yet overdue, invocation, Tyrion begins to wonder how sweet and innocent Lady Sansa is coping with her beloved, yet perpetually angry and drunken, Hound their first day away from King’s Landing.

After his discussion with Shae and Bronn yesterday, Tyrion realizes that Clegane has proven that he is more than just an obedient Lannister dog. Now though, he cannot help but wonder if mayhap a maidenly Little Bird is all that is really needed to further bring out the humanity in the fearsome Hound. If those two somehow manage to marry and live a happy life, the bards will have a wonderful time with their story, Tyrion thinks, knowing that many a song would be composed in their honor. ‘The Maiden and the Hound, Northward Bound!’ Tyrion muses to himself, trying to stifle a chuckle at his prospective song title.  

 

Hearing the future queen, Lady Margaery Tyrell, clapping and cheering, suddenly brings Tyrion’s attention back to court just in time to see Joffrey appoint Ser Loras Tyrell as the newest member of the Kingsguard. Well, with Clegane gone there is an opening.... Seeing that Bronn is next in line, Tyrion stands a bit straighter, proud of his friend’s recognition.

 

“For your bravery on the field of battle and for your impeccable aim at setting the Blackwater Bay aflame, thus eliminating much of Stannis’ fleet, it is my honor to award you with a knighthood!” Joffrey announces before taking his sword, Hearteater, and tapping Bronn lightly on each shoulder while swearing him in under the Faith of the Seven. After listing the promises Bronn must swear to uphold from each of the seven Gods, Joffrey smiles and addresses both Bronn and the court “I am honored to introduce the Kingdom’s newest knight, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater; arise Ser Bronn!”

Cheering along with the rest of the court, Tyrion is thankful that the end of court appears to be in sight.

 

“Lady Sansa?” Apparently, I was wrong! “Please come forward,” Joffrey says as sweet as honey. “I shall like to thank my Kingsguard with another gift!” Oh, shite!

 

“It does not appear that Lady Sansa has come to court today, your Grace,” Cersei answers in place of Joffrey’s unanswered summons.

“Ah, well then, we shall rectify that. Dog!” Joffrey shouts, “fetch Lady Sansa and tell her to dress appropriately… for entertaining,” he says in a viciously lascivious tone.

We have now gone from ‘oh, shite’ to ‘oh, fuck!’ The look on Ser Bronn’s face shares Tyrion’s sentiments. The murmuring and gasping from the court makes it evident that Joffrey has been so caught up in himself that he has failed to notice that his dog is also missing from court.

“Pardon me, once again your Grace?” Cersei says again, “it appears Clegane is also not at court today; nor has he been seen since leaving the battle late last night.”

Joffrey is enraged.

His face has gone so red in his fury that Tyrion is waiting to see if smoke will begin to blow out of his ears. “Find my dog!” Joffrey screeches at the top of his lungs, apparently now remembering Clegane’s little speech from last night. “Ser Meryn, go to Lady Sansa’s chamber and bring her to court—at once! Drag her if you must!”

“Right away, your Grace,” the ferret faced knight says with an evil smirk and a bow before heading towards Sansa’s empty chamber. Oh, this is not going to be good.

 

After what feels like an hour, or so, Ser Meryn reenters the court empty-handed. “Lady Sansa is nowhere to be found, your Grace,” the knight warily tells Joffrey with what Tyrion assumes is fear in his voice, as being the bearer of bad news to Joffrey can often end up with one’s head rotting on a spike. Now that would be a huge waste; what with being the ‘honorable knight’ that Ser Meryn Trant is, of course…!

“What!” Joffrey shouts so loud that he has caused the doors of the throne room to rattle. “First my dog, now Lady Sansa? Someone better have some answers for me!” the mad boy King demands, causing tittering and snickering amongst the court.

“I ran into Clegane last night after you sent me to look for men to fight, your Grace,” Trant begins with what Tyrion thinks could be a smirk. “I questioned where he was heading and he said he was ordered to be the Lady’s guard for when the city fell. After looking in the Lady’s chamber, I saw that her bed was bloodied and disheveled. Seems to me the Hound must’ve ran off with the girl since he’s gone, as well, your Grace.” Oh, shite, fuck, damn! This is exactly what we did not want anyone to know!

Beginning to panic, Tyrion is not hearing what Joffrey is saying, but apparently his silent communication with Ser Bronn is successful as the sellsword-turned-knight ducks into the crowd of the court after an imperceptible nod. A few moments later the shiny bald head of Lord Varys is seen meandering its way through the crowd.

 

“Pardon me, your Grace,” Lord Varys soothingly calls out trying to calm the irate King.

“Lord Varys! Exactly who I needed to see. It appears as if Lady Sansa and my dog are both missing! Ser Meryn, here, says that he believes they are together—find out!”

“That is precisely what I am here to address you about, your Grace,” Varys says with his normally passive expression looking rather dour. “During the final hours of the battle, Clegane was seen near Chataya’s before one of my little birds saw him leaving the city through the Dragon Gate, and was most definitely alone. As for Lady Sansa, she has, unfortunately, not been seen since she joined the other noblewomen in the Queen’s Ballroom. I would suggest we question Ser Ilyn, as he was a guard there; but obviously, that would not be very… helpful,” the Eunuch says causing laughter to erupt from the court.

“As your Grace is well aware of, a number of Baratheon soldiers did manage to breech the Red Keep and three bodies were found in the corridor leading towards Lady Sansa’s chamber. If what Ser Meryn says is true, regarding her soiled bedding, it is quite possible that the poor child was taken by some of Baratheon’s men,” he somberly says, playing on the sympathy of the court. Lord Varys’ mummer’s farce is, thankfully, quite good; Tyrion realizes, glad the Spider is able to fall back on his early years of performance experience in order to fool the king. Not that it takes much to fool King Joffrey, of course.

“Yes, yes. You may very well be right, Lord Varys,” Joffrey acquiesces, much to Tyrion’s and Bronn’s apparent surprise. “Still though, both my dog and my wolf bitch must be found!” he spits out with thinly veiled contempt.

 

Twenty thousand Gold Dragons to the search party who locates Lady Sansa and ten thousand Gold Dragons to the search party who finds my dog!” Joffrey announces to the court much to the approval of the knights and soldiers still standing after the battle.

“It is said that my dog left out of the Dragon Gate, so be sure to search the ports and all brothels and taverns between here and the Vale! Lady Sansa would head north if she manages to escape whoever took her. She does have family in the Riverlands, so be thorough in your search all the way from King’s Landing to Winterfell!” Joffrey instructs before finally adding, “I want them both alive!”

 

“Your Grace?” Cersei politely chimes in. “Perhaps your Grace would like me to send a raven to Ser Gregor, who is currently still gallivanting about the Riverlands, to also be on the lookout for Lady Sansa?”

“Quite right, mother. That is a fine idea; do so at once!” Joffrey agrees, much to Tyrion’s, Bronn’s and Varys’ dismay.

 

After the two search parties have been chosen, Joffrey finally dismisses court leaving Tyrion and Bronn to make their way back towards the Tower of the Hand with Lord Varys discreetly following at a safe distance.

Tyrion and Bronn enter the solar of the Hand’s chamber first and only have to wait a short while before Lord Varys is knocking at his door. “Well, that went better than I thought it would,” Varys says after Bronn bars the door behind him upon his entering. “I already have my little birds on the lookout for a suitable replacement for Lady Sansa, so we must now hope that Clegane can keep both of them safe and away from the search party heading north and from his most hated brother. After a few days, I will inform King Joffrey at the next Small Council meeting that Clegane was seen boarding a ship towards Essos from Maidenpool as we discussed last night.”

“I wish there were another way to get Joffrey off of Lady Sansa’s trail aside from our horrible plan, but since it doesn’t look like any other options will be viable, I sure hope your little birds find someone quickly.”

Nodding at Tyrion, Varys says that he already has a young woman in mind but that his little birds will confirm whether or not the lady in question warrants Bronn and Shae making a visit to Wickendon, near the Vale, to ensure she is a close match.

 

At this admission, Lord Varys makes his leave to see if he has received any more news on the matter at hand while Bronn tells Tyrion all of his gruesome and gory details on how to prepare the girl and stage her ‘dumping,’ much to the nausea forming in Tyrion’s stomach.

Clegane, you so better uphold to your end of the bargain in keeping your lady love safe, you big brute! You should thank us all, as well! Tyrion muses to himself while silently sounding out potential names for the Hound and the Wolf’s little wolfhound pups. Hmm… Tyrion Clegane, Shae Clegane, Bronn Clegane, and Varys Clegane… yes, I do believe that could work, he thinks with a smirk and a chuckle knowing that Clegane would have to give Lady Sansa a litter in order to honor them all by naming their pups after them.

 

While pouring a goblet of wine for himself and his freshly knighted friend, Tyrion turns to the man, “well, Ser Bronn… here’s to Lady Sansa Stark and not-a-Lord Sandor Clegane! Let’s pray our efforts for those two clueless canines are not in vain, shall we?” he says while raising his goblet in a toast to Bronn who chuckles and nods in acquiescence before the two men down their beloved Dornish Red.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight – Break a Heart and Mend It

SANDOR

Sandor and Sansa have been traveling about fifteen leagues into the forest off of the Gold Road for going on a sennight now and Sandor has been pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to travel with his Little Bird. She definitely was not jesting when she told Sandor of her having planned her escape for three moons.

Sansa has yet to complain about sleeping on the hard ground night after night, nor having to take intermittent baths in the cold streams and rivers they occasionally come across. As Sansa told Sandor their first day, she has even taken to washing their soiled clothing anytime they have water to do so, if it is safe to have a fire for them to dry by.

That is something else she has never once complained about—whenever he tells her that he doesn’t feel it safe enough for a fire, she never complains or pouts like he expects her to. He knows she must get cold, but she never says as much. However, he has noticed that every morning as he awakens before her, Sansa has ended up halfway in his bedroll, beneath his furs, and snuggled up closely against him. He usually finds his arm draped over her sleeping form making him wonder if he has unconsciously pulled her to him or if she is simply seeking out the warmth from his body. Of course, he would be lying if he said that waking with Sansa in his arms bothered him; he just lays there enjoying the feeling of holding his Little Bird for a few minutes before getting up to tend to his needs.

 

Just as Sansa promised in her chamber the night they fled, she has been pulling her weight equally and even attempts to ‘take care’ of him much to his amusement, and secret delight. The Little Bird worries over him so by always ensuring he eats a bit more food than her and even makes sure he actually goes to sleep instead of keeping watch all night. This must be what it feels like to have a wife worry over you, he wishfully thinks while stealing a glance at her delicate profile as she watches the scenery pass them by from her usual place perched in front of him on Stranger.

Their riding arrangements are yet one more thing that has surprised Sandor during the last sennight. Either he or Sansa has managed to always come up with some sort of excuse where his Little Bird must ride with him on Stranger instead of her riding Maiden. The first full day on the road was his doing due to needing to use her saddle to let his mail dry before he could wear it again. He was too tired to tend to it the night they fled, after all; but he also did not mind that arrangement in the least, nor did she seem to.

However, it seems that most of the excuses lately have been chirped out of his Sansa’s luscious little mouth. The first excuse on their second day was her claiming to be afraid of running into a search party and having to ride harder than she was accustomed to in order to get away. He acquiesced right away knowing good and well that she was not lying about her lack of proficiency in riding. The third and fourth days on the road saw Sansa starting out riding Maiden. However, when the deer trails they were following had them heading towards rocky and uneven terrain, Sandor cannot be certain, but he almost thinks that Sansa was pretending to lose her balance in her saddle before asking to ride with him again for her own ‘safety.’ He cannot prove that, of course; he is afraid that if he asked her about it she would never want to ride with him again.

These last three days however, Sansa no longer even says anything to Sandor, nor does she even attempt to mount Maiden at all. No. His Little Bird merely brings their supplies to him and waits for him to saddle both horses before coming to stand next to Stranger. Sandor just silently lifts her into his saddle before mounting behind her. They both seem to have come to the conclusion that Sansa simply belongs perched in front of Sandor sharing his saddle.

Sandor is not complaining, of course; why on earth would he do a foolish thing like that? He wants her as close to him as possible despite the fact that her perfectly firm little arse is constantly rubbing against his cock and keeping him as hard as Valyrian steel and painfully aching in want of her. He has lost count of how many times he has had to take himself in hand. Every single time they stop for food, rest or to see to their needs, he has had to excuse himself for a few moments to ease the immense pressure built up in his balls while imagining fucking her into oblivion.

Occasionally though, if Sandor didn’t know any better, he could almost believe that Sansa purposefully grinds her arse against his cock at times. No. No way. That is preposterous! Sansa Stark is a true little lady, not a common whore.

He knows she has to be feeling his arousal, though, as he is not a small man by any means—due to his saddle’s high cantle, he can only sit so far back in his saddle away from her arse, after all. Though, being the proper little lady that she is, she never says anything about it. However, he does sometimes see a beautiful flush grace her alabaster skin when certain movements from riding causes her to slide back in the saddle against his hardened cock. Such contact from her tends to cause a primal guttural groan to emanate from Sandor’s chest and throat making him struggle to suppress the slight involuntary thrusting against her arse from his hips when it happens.

One time though, Sansa glanced at him over her shoulder during one of these groans and not quite so suppressed thrusts. He swears that for a very brief moment Sansa’s beautiful cerulean blue eyes darkened to a deep sapphire blue with what looked like lust. Stop it, you filthy fucking dog! You are misreading the poor girl; she probably doesn’t even realize how she affects you, he thinks, remembering how the very brief lust-filled look in her eyes quickly turned to innocence when she blushed and smiled at him like a clueless child.

 

Sandor knows that if, and that is a huge damn if, Sansa is looking at him with any sort of sexual desire, it is only because her body is maturing into womanhood and is thus experiencing a very natural reaction to being so close to a sexually mature man. There is no way in the Seven hells that Sansa Stark could ever want my ugly arse even if she could get past being repulsed by my face. Sandor knows that his warrior honed body could be considered rather impressive, even if his face is a ruin; but that doesn’t mean Sansa could ever see past that to find him sexually desirable. Hells, the whores I pay always resort to slathering on some sort of oil or grease instead of letting me try to make them wet on my own. So how the fuck could Sansa become aroused by me if a whore has to fake it?

Sandor refuses to read more into it, though, as he knows Sansa’s flowering over two years ago is probably the cause to any potential reaction she could be having towards his close proximity. He was the one who caught her trying to annihilate her blood-stained bedding when she realized that she was then physically ready to marry Joffrey and whelp his cubs, after all. He cannot blame the girl for trying to destroy the evidence of her womanhood with the help of that handmaiden of hers; the Imp’s bloody fucking wife. He hated having to be the one to inform Cersei of her change in status as just the thought of Sansa having to wed and bed Joffrey had him seething, himself. He felt like he was betraying her by going to the Queen.

However, Sandor knew that if either Cersei or Joffrey found out that Sansa tried to hide her flowering, she would have been severely punished as a traitor. She was treated bad enough as the sister and daughter of traitors, but to commit treason herself would have caused her head to end up rotting on a spike, Sandor reasons, causing him to shudder at the thought of his beautiful Little Bird being murdered by the inbred Lannisters.

Sandor knows that he would have done all that he could to try to stop that from happening as sitting back and watching his Little Bird being murdered would not have been an option. However, Sandor also knows that he probably would have only succeeded with having his own hideous head rotting on a spike right next to hers.  

 

Apparently feeling his shuddering, Sansa turns in his saddle to look at him over her shoulder. “Are you alright, Sandor?” she sweetly chirps at him with concern filling both her eyes and voice.

“Aye, Little Bird, I’m fine,” he replies while unconsciously pulling her slightly closer to him with his arm that is wrapped snuggly around her, as if trying to protect her from what could have happened. He knows he should be keeping his hands away from her, she is a lady after all; but he feels that she is safer with his arm protectively resting around her small waist. Sansa has never asked him to remove his arm like he figured she would—like she should—but he is glad she hasn’t.

Sansa must have felt him pulling her tighter into him because she blushes ever so slightly before reaching her hand up to his on her waist and lacing their fingers together causing Sandor’s breath to catch and his heart to suddenly start beating violently. Gently squeezing his hand, Sansa blushes a bit deeper before bashfully smiling at him and turning back to watch the trail in front of her with their fingers still woven together. Is Sansa Stark actually holding my hand? Surely she must only be doing so out of fear of falling, or something… right? he silently questions to himself while looking down in front of her to where their hands are clasped together against her stomach.

Sandor is unsure why she appears to be holding his hand; but, what he is sure about, is how such a small, simple, and innocent gesture is causing his heart to damn near pound right out of his chest. He is also beginning to feel a bit of moisture collect in the corners of his eyes, like the pathetic fucking weak arse bastard that he is. Sansa holding his damn hand is the only affection he has ever received from any woman who did not take his coin. Sandor knows that it is the little, insignificant, things Sansa does like this that can just fucking almost allow him to hope she might possibly care for him as more than… what… a friend? Is that how she sees me, her ‘friend?’  

Sandor has never had any friends, so he is not sure if her actions toward him are what ‘friends’ would normally do or not. When most children are forming friendships that span a lifetime, Sandor was spending his childhood bedridden with ointments being smeared into his burnt flesh by a fucking maester before having his head bandaged up in strips of cloth.

Elandria was the only person who ever spent any time with him while he was healing. Of course she would hold his hand, but she was his sister. Would a Lady hold the hand of a man she just considers her friend? Knowing his sweet Little Bird, Sansa would probably do just that, he reasons, thus snuffing out the smidgen of hope he nearly allowed himself to have for a very brief moment. Sure he wants to think that Sansa could have feelings for him, but it is going to take a whole lot more than her holding his hand to allow him to believe that.

 

Sandor leans forward slightly and rests his chin on the crown of her head. Sansa lightly laughs at his actions—a delicate feminine sound that he has grown to cherish—which causes him to quietly chuckle along with her. She doesn’t ask him to move, so he stays put enjoying the closeness it affords.

 

Despite neither of them being able to bathe during the last couple of days due to their traveling away from the stream they had been following, he cannot help but notice how intoxicating Sansa still smells. He can still smell hints of the lavender oil she uses in her hair with a faint trace of lemons from her soap she brought with them. Underneath the lavender and lemon though, is the feminine scent he relishes that is just plain Sansa; a delicious aroma that always manages to heat his blood and make him crave a taste of her.

With the way Sansa’s hair is neatly braided and pulled over her left shoulder, her long, graceful neck is exposed to him. He realizes how easy it would be to lean down and kiss, lick, and nibble on the flawless skin there. While feeling his mouth watering at just the notion of getting a taste of his Little Bird’s neck, he secretly wishes to get a taste of a much more private area of her. He has never done such a thing to a woman before as he has only ever been with whores. They never seemed too keen with having his ruined mouth anywhere near them and he honestly has no desire to put his mouth where countless men spill their seed, either.

However, his Little Bird would be an entirely different story considering she is an untouched maiden. Sandor would love to be able to lick and suck on that precious little nub at the apex of Sansa’s thighs. He desperately wants to delve his tongue deep inside of her soaked little cunt to explore and taste her inner most sweetness until she’s singing his name out in pleasure. Fuck! I bet she would sing so beautifully and taste even sweeter than honey.

He knows that if given the chance, he could easily become addicted to the taste of her essence and would lap up and drink her sweet juices every chance he got; just like the starving dog he is. At the mere thought of licking and sucking on Sansa’s sweet cunt, he feels his own arousal soaring to a height he has never before experienced.

As soon as they find a place to camp, he knows he will be having to take himself in hand to ease the immense pressure threatening to cause his cock and balls to damn near burst. Thankfully Sansa doesn’t appear to realize the state of his arousal so he tries desperately to put his sexual thoughts of her out of his mind. For now, at least….   

 

Still feeling Sansa holding his hand, Sandor starts to think back over the last few days. He’s beginning to realize that Sansa seems to be touching him a lot more often than she used to. It is just little things though he has definitely noticed her actions.

Sansa will often reach out and delicately touch his arm before handing him his food, wine, or water. Sometimes she does so just to get his attention while talking; though if she looks closely, she would notice that she always has his attention. He cannot help but watch her when she sets to doing whatever task she has chosen for the night; she’s the flame, and he’s the suicidal moth.

 

However, Sansa is not only touching him more often; he also notices that she looks at him more often, as well. Not looking at his chest, or his shoulder either! No. Sansa looks at him in his face. She unwaveringly looks directly into his eyes when talking to him and many times she even fucking smiles at him while keeping eye contact as if it is the most natural thing in the world for her. He knows how he used to pinch her chin and force her to look at him when she was younger, thus terrifying her. Now though, her looking at him on her own feels like the acceptance he so desperately wanted from her all along.

 

She manages to sit or sleep on his left side so that his scars are always facing her; however, she never looks repulsed by him. While he is starting to feel like she is able to accept his hideous appearance, he cannot lie to himself in that the way she looks at him at times makes him feel extremely exposed, as well. He usually tries to rake his thin black hair even more over his scars anytime she briefly breaks eye contact. 

 

Unfortunately, being on the run for a sennight so far has done little for his appearances. Sandor did not bother bringing a razor with him since he doesn’t have a looking glass anyway, and the week-long growth of his beard is really irritating him.

He never keeps a beard as with his scars it only grows on the right side of his face, aside from a few small patches of hair that somehow manage to grow within the craters and crevices of his scars. The way the hair grows within those crevices physically bothers him. The whiskers will prickle and rub against his surrounding scarred tissue causing a severe amount of irritation. This makes the left side of his face appear reddened and sometimes causes it to ooze from the irritated spots making him look diseased as well as just scarred. On top of that, having only half a beard just draws even more attention to his ruined face and makes him look even more monstrously hideous than normal. A disease ridden scarred up hideous monster; exactly what every highborn maiden fantasizes about, he ruefully thinks.

He would usually go to one of the barbers within the Red Keep or in King’s Landing once a week for a shave. He always used the same two men as they were accustomed to his face and knew how careful they had to be while shaving within the crevices of his scars so as not to cut him and cause even more scarring.

Even if Sandor did have a razor and a looking glass he would still have a difficult time shaving the left side of his face for that very reason. So, unfortunately for now he will just have to look even more freakishly ugly than normal. Mayhap there will be a barber in Stoney Sept.  

 

Noticing the sun beginning to sink below the tree line, he decides that they have traveled long enough for the day and begins to look for a place to make camp before the sun sets completely.

 

After a good half hour, Sandor ultimately gives up looking for any running water and finds a place to camp for the night that looks safe enough. He knows Sansa won’t complain; she never does. But, he also knows that she would love to be able to bathe and honestly he wouldn’t mind a bath either; hopefully they will reach Stoney Sept tomorrow. “Alright Little Bird, this place looks as safe as any for the night,” he tells her before adding “sorry I couldn’t find you a place to bathe.”

Looking over her shoulder at him she just smiles mischievously and says “are you telling me that I smell bad, Sandor?”

Chuckling at her he shakes his head, “not even close to it, girl, though I am sure your dog needs a bath!”

Smiling and laughing again, she says “you do not stink, Sandor! And stop calling yourself a dog or I will have to start treating you as such! That means that the next place we find water, be it either a stream or a bath at an inn, I will give my dog his bath, myself!” she firmly states with her brow raised as if to illustrate her seriousness in the matter.

He cannot help but loudly laugh out at that thought until what she has said actually registers in his mind. Whoa! Wait a fucking minute… did Lady Sansa Stark just make a jest about bathing me? Surely not. Sansa would never make such an innuendo as a jape. Of course, Sandor knows that it is quite possible Sansa does not understand how such an offer can be interpreted considering that she is an innocent maiden. Although he would be more than willing to educate her in the matters of the ‘Birds and the Hounds.’

The thought of Sansa Stark running her hands all over his naked body, even with a washing cloth, is enough to get his cock rock hard and aching for his Little Bird once again. Fuck! Down dog! She surely doesn’t know what she is saying.

 

Sandor cannot be certain, but he thinks he just heard Sansa refer to him as hers, despite her admonishment of calling himself a dog. Sandor has called himself her dog before—just a few days ago in fact. But he has never heard her say as much. She may not like me calling myself a dog, but I am her dog; just wish I were her man, instead though.

Distracting him from his thoughts, she says “do not worry about not finding water, Sandor; hopefully we can stay at an inn before too long.”

 

Sandor dismounts from Stranger and proceeds to help Sansa down enjoying the way his large hands engulf her tiny waist. Allowing his hands to linger on her waist longer than he knows he should, he cannot help but relish the physical closeness of their bodies and the slight blush ghosting across her beautiful face as he tells her “we should reach Stoney Sept by tomorrow afternoon.” Regretfully letting go of her, Sandor can almost swear that Sansa looked just a bit sad for a very brief moment as he removed his hands from her body, despite telling her how close they are to a town.

 

He hands their bedrolls to her outstretched hands and places their saddlebags near where Sansa is now preparing their nest as she does every night. “If things look safe enough, we may can stay at The Peach for a night or two. Get the beautiful Northern Princess a hot bath and a real bed; what do you say? Would you like to preen your feathers, Little Bird?” he shyly smiles at her, hoping she won’t say anything about him calling her beautiful. Ladies like being told they are beautiful, so she probably doesn’t mind; even if the compliment is from a mangy cur like me.

Sansa quickly spins around to face him, and gently reaches for his forearm making his breath hitch at the contact as she beams at him with hope filling her eyes. “You mean a real bed and hot baths? Oh, Gods… yes, please Sandor!” she happily pleads as she leaps up to wrap her arms around his neck in a tight embrace causing that strange fluttering in his stomach to reemerge. He swears he can hear the cacophony of his heart beating as loud as the drums of war. As if on their own accord, Sandor finds his own arms tightly wrapping around her back, pulling her even more flush against him, thus causing her own breath to hitch as she pulls her head back in order to look at him.

Noticing those beautiful Tully blue eyes dart back and forth from his eyes to his half-ruined lips, Sandor cannot help but incredulously think, and sincerely hope, that Sansa is silently trying to ask him to kiss her. Oh, fuck… he thinks as his chest begins to ache from his pounding heart. Is Sansa really wanting me to kiss her? Would she slap him if he tried? Mayhap even keep her distance then, or order him to leave? Or… or would she just retch on me like the only other woman I ever tried to kiss?

Looking down at her, he watches in amazement as her eyes flicker to his mouth once more before he sees her pretty little pink tongue slowly lick her lips, leaving them slightly parted as she glances back to his eyes. He can tell she is breathing heavier now, just as he is, as he can not only hear it but he can also feel it from where his arms are wrapped around her back. He swears he can damn near even feel her chest slightly heaving despite the fact that he is wearing his hauberk and cuirass.

Feeling his own lips part just a bit, themselves, he desperately summons up every ounce of courage he can muster without having drunk any wine as of yet today. Holding his breath, he quickly decides that it is now or never. Feeling himself begin to tilt his head down towards her, agonizingly slow, he focuses his eyes on her moist and hopefully inviting mouth. Sensing her sudden intake of breath, he breaks eye contact with her delicious looking mouth to seek out permission to continue in her eyes.

Her eyes are closed.

 

Of course her eyes are closed, you godsdamn fucking fool! he silently weeps. She still cannot bear to look at me, he thinks while feeling his eyes burning and filling up with unshed tears. As his nose slightly tingles, his chest constricts painfully and he desperately prays to the non-existent gods to keep from pathetically crying from his disappointing heartache until he is at least out of her sight.

 

Needing to be left alone to his own devices for a while, Sandor suddenly releases her, reaches up to her arms, and roughly yanks them from around his neck. Sansa’s eyes fly open as she surprisingly yelps and slightly stumbles when he abruptly takes a step back from her, breaking the close contact of their bodies.

He sees her face contort into sheer confusion before she slightly pooches her bottom lip out; the very lip he came closer than he has ever been to tasting. He notices her chin to begin quivering and her own eyes are now watering up. She must have been terrified and praying I wouldn’t follow through and kiss her. Well, never you worry my Lady; your dog knows his godsdamned fucking place and it is not kissing the Princess in the North!

He desperately tries to keep his voice from breaking due to his emotional state as he cruelly barks out “get the fucking camp set up; I’ll be back later,” and ignoring her tears falling in abandon.

Quickly turning on his heel, he storms off into the thick of the forest nearly missing her imploringly weep out “Sandor?”

 

Ignoring her pleas, he marches out into the trees far enough away that she won’t be able to hear him, but close enough still to hear if danger approaches her due to his honed hearing as a warrior. Suddenly unable to walk any further though, Sandor collapses and slumps down on his hands and knees.

Hanging his head down in defeat—causing the black curtain of his hair to hide his ruin of a face completely—he allows himself the very rare opportunity to let his feelings flow out unbidden and wallow in his own damned self-inflicted misery.

Sobbing out in complete and utter despair, the tears he was just barely able to contain in front of Sansa now fall with abandon causing a not so small puddle to form in the earth beneath him. Why! Why did you have to try that only to humiliate yourself, you fucking fool? He knew Sansa did not share his feelings, yet he still threw caution to the wind and tried making a move by getting his first kiss from the only woman he has ever loved. He knows he should at least be grateful that Sansa didn’t retch on him like the first woman he tried with, but he’s not.

Feeling the violent tremoring hiccups quaking his body from sobbing like a buggering damned child, Sandor could have sworn that he was reading her correctly. He felt so damn certain that Sansa actually wanted to be kissed by him. Making a noise sounding like something between both a laugh and a sob, he silently admonishes himself of his stupid, pathetic foolishness. Wrong again, dog. As always. What on fucking earth made you think she would want to have you that close to her face in order to kiss her? he asks himself knowing that her behaviour towards him these last few days is why he allowed himself that sliver of hope. Save yourself some pain, dog; fucking give it up already, he settles, vowing to never try such a foolish move like that again.

Sandor cannot possibly believe that pressing his deformed lips against Sansa’s perfect mouth could ever be worth this kind of pain. He honestly feels that this heartache hurts far worse than any of the physical injuries he’s ever received throughout his life; aside from being burned, of course. For once in his pathetic existence he can even somewhat understand why some people decide to take their own lives and feeling damn near tempted to himself. Wish the fucking ground would just open up and swallow me whole, he thinks, wanting nothing more than to disappear and not knowing how he can ever face her again. Surely she is going to be terrified of me again. I just had to go and ruin whatever the fuck it was that was possibly growing between us. He’ll count himself lucky if she doesn’t chase him off like you do a mangy stray mutt you mistakenly feed in a moment of weakness.

 

Fuck it, he sighs to himself; I guess I can’t hide from her forever. Mayhap she will at least let me get her to Deep Den before she tells me to bugger off in favor of taking her chances with the Imp’s sellsword, he wishes, though knowing that that notion is more than likely futile now. He will allow himself this one last wish, though, before having to leave her. Using the last bit of his resolve, he forces himself to man up and stop blubbering like a green boy as he does not want Sansa to see him any weaker than she must know he is by now. The fearsome Hound—unmanned and completely broken into an infinite number of pieces by an innocent fucking maiden, barely a woman, he condescendingly muses with a chuckle at his own expense.

Fishing a cloth from inside his cuirass, he desperately wipes the evidence of his weakness from his face. As he slowly trudges back towards where he left Sansa, he suddenly realizes that this is the first time since fleeing King’s Landing that he has not taken himself in hand seeing as his pent up arousal from earlier is long gone. Hopefully it will stay gone!

 

Finally making it back to camp, he is even more crestfallen at what he sees. Sansa has placed his bedroll about a foot away from her own instead of touching like they had been since day one. If that wasn’t enough to make the damn tears he just wiped away only moments ago try to return, not only has she not left his evening meal out for him as usual, but Sansa has now switched their bedrolls. She is asleep in his and he will be forced to squeeze into her shorter one and have her scent envelope him as he tries to sleep, knowing he will be unable to now, for sure.

He is not sure if she switched their bedrolls out of distress and on accident or if she is meaning to punish him for his untoward behaviour. Deciding that it must be the latter, he wishes she would choose a less cruel way to punish him. Damn, Little Bird, didn’t you learn anything from your three years in King’s Landing? That’s not the way to punish a misbehaving dog, he thinks, wishing she could just beat him bloody like he deserves for even thinking about her possibly wanting and mayhap even loving him.

He sees from the tear stains streaking her beautiful face that Sansa has cried herself to sleep and feels like the vilest creature who has ever lived for making her frightened of him once again. “I am so sorry, Sansa. I promise I will never touch you again, don’t worry,” he very quietly whispers to her. He wishes there is some way he can help her mount Maiden without having to touch her as not to upset her any further.

 

Realizing that he is too upset to eat, and honestly too upset to even drown away his misery with whatever wine he has left, he quietly removes his armor. This is the first time I have had to perform this task alone since we left, as well. After removing the last piece of steel from his body, he silently crawls beneath the furs of the shorter bedroll she has left him, turns away from her, and hopes he won’t disturb her sleep.

 

Unable to fall asleep just as he knew he would, Sandor hopes that Sansa will still at least be happy with the notion of staying at the inn tomorrow. When Sandor first mentioned on their second day that they may could stay at an inn, he knew the Little Bird would be pleased. He also knew she would balk as soon as she found out that half of the inn in question also serves as a whorehouse. What he was not expecting, however, was her asking him whether or not he would be seeking out the company of a whore and actually sounding upset about it. Why Sansa would be upset with him fucking a whore though, he knows not; especially after tonight.

Just hours ago he knows he would have loved nothing more than to believe that her being upset was actually jealousy, but that is just plain laughable now. Princess Sansa Stark jealous over the hideous Hound; ha! Right; keep dreaming, pathetic damn dog. He knows that her apparent initial displeasure at the notion was just her moral high ground spilling over from all that Septa of hers taught her. Sansa has lightened up her prim, proper and rigid ways over the last year of being a hostage of the crown considerably. Somehow, I bet I have managed to undo all of the progress she made this last year in less than five fucking minutes.

 

Sandor had no intention of paying for a whore even before Sansa’s feathers got all ruffled at the thought. To be honest, he hasn’t had a fuck in damn near eight moons; not since the day before the Bread Riots. The last whore he had fucked had been some redhead from one of Littlefucker’s brothels who he so fucking stupidly called ‘Sansa’ in the heat of the moment as he spilt his seed into her.

If Sansa’s name being rather unique wasn’t bad enough, this redheaded whore just had to be from the damned North. Oh, and not only from the North; no… but from buggering Winter Town, at that! Plus, the fucking cunt knew who he meant! “The bells of Winterfell rang all day long when Lady Sansa was born,” the whore had reflectively said to him as he tucked himself away and laced his breeches. He had just tossed her his coin and was about to leave when she said to him “Lady Sansa is a real beauty; I don’t blame you for picturing her. Is she the reason why you always choose redheads? Does Lady Sansa know you desire her?” He only glowered at the whore and made an expeditious exit out of the brothel. He was just certain that all of King’s Landing would know that the Hound was fucking redheaded whores while fantasizing about the King’s betrothed come morning light and wondering how soon it would be before he saw the disgusted look on Sansa’s face and ended up tasting Ser Ilyn’s steel. Sandor decided right then and there that if he ever sought out a fuck with a whore again in his life, he would never again choose a redhead.

 

However, if Sandor is really honest with himself, fucking whores never truly satisfied him, anyway. He has come to realize that he needs so much more than a whore on her hands and knees offering her cunt up for his cock. He can empty his balls on his own for free when he is really bad off which has caused his hand to become very well acquainted with his cock. For the last several moons a simple fuck just hasn’t been enough for him; so why waste his coin and force some whore to fuck him when they usually all but beg him to choose another girl, anyway? He is not that cruel.

What Sandor really needs and desires is affection. He longs to be held and kissed and caressed—to be loved, and cherished, and wanted. His wants and needs are things you cannot get from a whore, no matter how much coin you pay her. What Sandor truly needs is something not meant for the likes of him—for Sansa Stark, that beautiful Little Bird sleeping a foot away with her back towards him—to reach up and caress his burnt cheek, kiss his half-ruined lips, and tell him how much she loves him while she pulls him into a tight embrace and holds him in her loving arms. After what happened less than a couple of hours ago though, he realizes more than ever how hopeless that is and how godsdamned pathetic he is to even fantasize about it.

 

One time though, Sandor surprised himself by actually praying to the damned non-existent gods about his needs and desires. That was on that same cursed night of the Bread Riots. He had just rescued Sansa and immediately went back out into the fray for Stranger. After finding his horse, the realization of how damned close he came to losing the Little Bird hit him and it hit him fucking hard. The filthy rat he pulled off from on top of her had ripped her skirt, shift, and smallclothes away, managed to unlace his breeches, and was beginning to stroke himself hard when Sandor gutted the bastard with his katar.  

Sandor made sure to avert his eyes when he knelt down, covered her with his cloak, and lifted Sansa into his arms in order to preserve her modesty. Or what little modesty that shite of a king left the girl, at any rate. Oh, he wanted to take a nice long look at her, there is no denying that; but not when she was in such a state of distress and after having nearly been brutally gang raped. No. Sandor wants Sansa to offer herself to him willingly. And because she wants to; not out of some since of duty she thinks she may owe him. I’d sooner find myself riding one of the Targaryen bitch’s dragons before that would ever happen though.

 

After getting Stranger back to the stables and soothing the beast, he made his way to one of the winesinks in the outskirts of Flea Bottom and drank himself into a stupor. That night was the drunkest he has been in years; probably the drunkest he has been since Joff had Lord Stark’s head taken. Sandor felt so godsdamned helpless that day knowing there was nothing he could do to ease his sweet Sansa’s suffering; so he drank away his feeling of worthlessness.  

 

Not knowing how, nor even why, but somehow while drunk from the aftermath of the Bread Riots, Sandor stumbled his way into the damn sept of the Red Keep. He then gracelessly dropped to his knees at the altar of the Maiden, but not before he found his hands lighting a candle as if he’s been a praying man all of his buggering life.

The next thing he remembers was his sorry, pathetic arse crying while looking into the face of the damn statue of the Maiden and begging the ‘gods’ for Sansa Stark to love him as much as he loves her; all in vain now. He remembers pleading with the Maiden, herself, and swearing not only on his own life, but on the graves of both his beloved mother and sister, that he would cherish the Little Bird and love her like she deserves—like the Queen she should be. Sansa will always be my Queen, no matter who reigns over Westeros or the North. He knows he can keep her safe and would worship both her body and her mind like no buggering Northern Lordling could ever even dream of. But, the gods are not real and Sansa Stark will never love him.

 

Sandor knows that Sansa’s kingly brother will betroth her to some lucky damn bastard the moment she is reunited with them; if she isn’t already betrothed without her knowledge or consent, that is. True, the King in the North could not force her to marry as a person can refuse to say marriage vows. However, the Little Bird’s since of duty to her family and the North will see her comply to marrying whichever little Lordling bids the highest for her precious maidenhead.

 

He knows that Sansa originally hoped her brother would take him on as a retainer or as her personal sworn shield; but even if King Robb somehow agreed, he knows now that she would change her mind. If she even allows him to escort her all the way to them, that is. He also knows, though, that he cannot just sit back and watch her with another man. Not after watching her with Joffrey all this time.

There is no way in the seven fucking hells that Sandor can watch Sansa vow herself to be another man’s Lady Wife. No one would ever be good enough for her; fuck, he knows that he isn’t good enough for her either, but that is beside the point. To watch her lissome little body grow heavy with another bastard’s whelp would be just way too much to bear.

So instead, he plans to get Sansa settled back with her family, if she allows it—and if King Robb allows him to keep his head—he will leave after a short rest and never look back. Looking back is not an option; not if he wants to keep his reputation as the fearsome Hound, that is, as he knows good and well that looking back while walking away from the Little Bird would undoubtedly finish him off. Mayhap King Robb will offer him a monetary reward for bringing Sansa home. He knows he isn’t doing it for gold, but because she asked him to, and knows that she must regret that insane decision now.

He figures he will probably cross the Narrow Sea and mayhap can find employment as some wealthy merchant’s guard or find work as a sellsword somewhere. If it weren’t for the fucking dragons, I might even see if that Targaryen bitch could use another sword. However, he knows deep down that there is a damn good chance he’d never even make it out of the North before he ended up drinking himself to death in some fleapit of a winesink. Fuck, mayhap I should just join the Night’s Watch and take to the black.


Feeling the tears he so desperately tried to fight back slowly trickle down his cheeks, he finally manages to fall into a restless, dream filled sleep.

 

*** 

 

The rustling of leaves and snapping of twigs suddenly startles Sandor awake after what feels like merely a couple of hours of sleep. Quickly and quietly grabbing his sword, he withdraws it from its sheath as he hears light footsteps approaching their campsite.

“Little Bird! Wake up; we’ve company,” he urgently calls out while scanning his surroundings in search of the perceived threat. When he hears no reply or rustling from Sansa’s bedroll though, he quickly turns to check on her and is greeted by only emptiness.

There is no bedroll.

There is no Sansa.

Looking to where he tethered the horses the night before he sees that there is also no Maiden.

 

The Little Bird has taken Maiden and flown away.

 

Seven fucking hells. Should have known. Sansa… just please be safe, Little Bird; I will never forgive myself if something has happened to you.

 

Feeling the effects of Sansa’s sudden departure constrict his chest and making it difficult for him to even breathe, Sandor contemplates his options and begins to wonder if he should even bother with fighting for his life anymore. Mayhap it’s time to stop and just let them take me.

On one hand, the threat quickly approaching might just be a group of bandits with no knowledge of Sansa, whatsoever. But, on the other hand, this could be a search party sent by the Lannisters who found out that they are together; were together, he reminds himself. So far we have been very lucky not running into anyone, he thinks, knowing that their luck is probably due to no one suspecting either of them traveling west towards Lannister allies.

If it is a search party, then finding the Hound alone would just cause more men to go after a lone Sansa. She might could fend off one, or mayhap even two on her own with that dagger of hers, but not an entire sortie. No. This is why he has to fight. If for no other reason than for one last attempt to protect his Little Bird.

 

With the footsteps coming closer towards him and being unable to ascertain the direction from where they are coming, he offers a rare silent prayer, of sorts, to the non-existent gods to protect his Little Bird wherever she is and help her fly safely home.

 

Readying himself for what he is sure to be an ambush and quite possibly his own death sentence, Sandor is shocked to his core at what he sees.

 

Stepping from out of the underbrush and away from the tree line in front of him, he notices a pair of striking silver-grey eyes and a familiar face, beneath a curtain of raven black curls, smiling lovingly at him.

 

 

“You will not be needing your sword, baby brother,” a soft, feminine, yet ethereal voice says to a wide-eyed Sandor.

“E-Elandria? But… but how…?” he manages to choke out before dropping his sword and running into her open, outstretched arms and gripping her in a tight embrace just as he always did as a pup. Fuck me sideways! I must have died and somehow actually made it into the damn seven heavens.

“No, Sandor, you are not dead; this is just a dream. However, I am real. The Gods are not finished with you yet,” she says, answering his silent statement while gently caressing his scarred cheek, wiping the solitary tear away with her thumb.

“There are no gods,” he rasps out wondering how the hells she managed to read his damn mind.

Her smile slightly faltering, she sadly says to him, “I hate that my death has caused you to lose your faith, Sandor; but, please know that even if you do not believe in the Gods, they still very much believe in you!” Rolling his eyes, Sandor snorts out a mocking laugh in response.

“Fuck sis, you never used to lie to me before; why start now you’re dead?” he teases, causing her to sigh in disappointment and shake her head at his words.

“Oh, Sandor, hush! You know that I would never lie to you,” she gently admonishes him.

“Fine. Then, if I am not dead, how the hells are you even here? You have never once visited me before!”

“I have tried, Sandor; countless times! Unfortunately, I was unable to… until now!

“What do you mean ‘until now?’ Why is now so important or different?

Smiling once again she says “it seems that a certain Little Bird has been slowly, but surely, pecking holes all throughout the stone wall surrounding that huge loving heart of yours, Sandor. She finally managed to peck a big enough hole to allow me the chance to come through to you. That was the day your Little Bird rescued her Hound back at the Red Keep! Things were going well between you two so I stayed back, waiting, until I felt you needed me.”  

Not wanting to look like a fucking weak arse green boy by crying in front of his sister, he asks her not to mention Sansa Stark to him. “Please, don’t talk about her…. It hurts too godsdamn bad, Elandria,” he confesses, not even noticing how his sister just referred to him as ‘her Hound’ a moment ago. Looking at the spot where the Little Bird’s bedroll should be, he adds “besides, she’s flown away.”

“No baby brother. Remember, you are dreaming, so you cannot see her right now. Your Little Bird has not left you. She is still right there by your side; right where she belongs.”

“Where she ‘belongs?’ Bugger that! She won’t even be able to look at me after last night!” he all but barks at his sister and instantly regretting his outburst.

 

Undeterred, Elandria stands her ground with him just as she always did whenever his temper would flare. Reaching up to hold his face with both of her hands and not allowing him to turn away from her she asks “do you honestly, really, believe that foolishness, Sandor?”

Grinding his jaw, he is unable to turn away so he settles for lowering his gaze, “I don’t believe it. I know it.”

Smiling ever so slightly at her beloved baby brother, she ducks her head to meet his gaze and locks eyes with him before honestly saying “then I hate to tell you this, sweetling, but you are very much mistaken.”

Feeling those now all too familiar tears once again collecting in the corners of his eyes as they had earlier that night, he would love to believe Elandria, but he reminds himself not to hope for impossible things. “What makes you say that?” he says, barely above a whisper trying to keep the sheer desperation from sounding in his voice.

Steeling her features, Elandria very pointedly tells him “because Sandor, Sansa Stark is hopelessly and helplessly in love with you!

Sandor’s eyes shoot open as wide as saucers before he quickly scrunches them closed, forcing the tears welled up to fall, and shakes his head. “Please Elandria; do not fucking mock me. Sansa does not love me! How could she? Just fucking look at me!”

“I am looking at you, Sandor Clegane. Do you know what I see?”

Giving a half shrug, his sister continues. “I see a tall, strong, and very handsome warrior who just so happens to have scars on his face,” she earnestly says before adding “and your Sansa sees the exact same thing!”

Feeling like he is a young lad of ten years old again and hanging on every word his elder sister has to say, Sandor looks at her through his tear dampened lashes. “What makes you think that? No other woman has ever thought me anything but hideous or monstrous thanks to what Gregor did to me; how could someone as beautiful and perfect as her see otherwise?” he pleads, hoping she is being honest with him.

He searches her eyes for any hint of a lie as she replies with “because, Sandor, I have heard Sansa say so, myself!” While he cannot detect any lies from his sister, he still cannot believe it.

“No. Sansa always fawned over that golden haired Joffrey before she knew what he was really like, and after him she was enamored with that pretty Tyrell knight. Ladies’ tastes don’t go from one extreme to the other like that, Elandria; Sansa wouldn’t choose an ugly, scarred, mangy mutt over a perfect fucking pedigree.”

“Some ladies’ tastes do change that drastically, actually. Especially when said ‘perfect pedigree’ is having her stripped, beaten, and treated worse than you would war criminals while the ‘ugly, scarred, mangy mutt,’ as you call yourself, always rushes to her side to shelter, save, and advise her, even if you are not always the most gallant at that,” Elandria smirks causing Sandor to look away from her in embarrassment.

“Besides, Sansa Stark is not just any typical lady either, is she, Sandor?” she asks causing him to suddenly look at her. “If she was, you would not have given her a second thought, and you know it. The loyal Lannister Hound definitely would not have repeatedly disobeyed his master’s orders in order to protect and save such a woman, nor would he run away with her the very moment she asked.”

“No; Sansa isn’t like anyone else,” he quietly admits. “She is the only person who’s ever treated me as a human. As a man,” he says knowing that even though Sansa always chirped her damn courtesies at him, she was still the only person who never called him ‘dog.’ She may have called him ‘ser’ or ‘my Lord,’ to his chagrin, but looking back now he knows she never meant it out of disrespect seeing as she knew how he felt about such titles.

Propriety would have kept her from being so informal in the Red Keep, so calling him by his given name would have been out of the question. Most people called him Clegane if they didn’t call him Hound and he always wondered why she didn’t call him that as well.

The first time she called him by his given name was the night she found him in her chamber the night they left King’s Landing. He’s never loved the way his name sounds more than when coming from her lips.

 

Taking her brother’s face back into her hands, and thus snapping him out of his memories, she orders him to listen to what she has to say. “I want you to listen to me Sandor, and I want you to listen closely! I know it will take more than me to convince you of Sansa’s feelings towards you; especially with how you are feeling right now,” she soothingly says.

“I know your heart is aching after a kiss that could have happened last night; a kiss that should have happened, Sandor. Do you know why Sansa closed her eyes when you were leaning in to her?”

“She couldn’t stand seeing my hideous face so close to hers and hoped to gods I’d move away.”

Elandria sighs deeply and shakes her head at her brother, not removing her hands from his face. “No Sandor. She closed her eyes, sweetling, because that is what you do when you kiss,” she states simply to a wide-eyed Sandor.

Brow furrowing, “what?” Closing his eyes briefly and slightly shaking his head, he looks at her with his brow slightly raised now, “are you sure, Elandria?” he asks with bated breath, allowing a bit of hope to creep its way back into him.

“Yes! You completely misinterpreted her, Sandor! Sansa was not rejecting you; she was inviting you to continue! She wanted you to! In fact, the woman was silently begging you to!”

 

Sandor feels himself let out a breath as both relief and hope begins to once again spread through him. “Listen Sandor, I know that you are not experienced in the art of kissing; especially having never been kissed yourself. So, it is perfectly understandable that you did not realize that you generally close your eyes to do so.”

He drops his head down in pure humiliating shame. Realizing that his sister obviously knows how pathetic he is to have never done something he remembers her doing at least once before she was killed is beyond embarrassing to him. “You may not have experience with the act Sandor, but your Sansa does!” she says before he can say anything.

“Now granted, Sansa, herself, has only ever been kissed a handful of times by that disgusting, vile Joffrey; which she hated every slobbery moment, by the way. So while she does not have a lot of experience, she will happily guide you through it!”

Feeling like a fool and a failure for misreading a situation most would have no issues with, he feels his tears falling faster now. He manages to barely croak out “I really fucked things up with her. Such a pathetic, stupid damn dog!”

“Sandor Clegane! Don’t you ever let me hear you say such a thing to yourself again! You are not pathetic and you are far from stupid; nor are you a dog!” she firmly says.

“You are not Gregor!” she heatedly grinds out. “Do you understand me?”

Sandor simply nods his head in response.

 

“One more thing, Sandor… you know those tear stains you saw on Sansa’s face last night? Those were not out of her fear or repulsion of you. Those tears were pure, unadulterated heartbreak, Sandor. Couldn’t you hear it in her voice calling for you as you walked away? Sansa felt like you rejected her!

With his mouth agape, Sandor is just standing there wide-eyed and staring at his sister in complete disbelief. “Are you absolutely certain, Elandria?”

“Positive! Sansa only moved your bedrolls apart because she is afraid you do not share her feelings. That little switch she did was no accident, Sandor!” she tells him before adding “your Little Bird was so desperate to hold on to any part of you she could that she purposely took your bedroll to keep your scent near her. Sansa desires you Sandor; just as much as you do her!”

Finding himself uncharacteristically blushing at what his sister has just said, thus causing her to laugh, Elandria teases “imagine that! The big, bad Hound blushing over a maidenly Little Bird desiring him,” she jests, much to Sandor’s feigned annoyance, causing him to fail at suppressing a genuine smile.

He can feel himself trying to regain the hope he had been slowly allowing himself to build up due to Sansa’s attentions towards him the last few days. “So… what do I do? How can I fix this?” he pleads to his sister.

“Oh, my sweet Sandor… what you should do is take Sansa into your arms, hold her close, tell her that you’re hopelessly in love with her, and kiss the woman! However, I do know my baby brother. I know you will probably not be able to make such a bold move as that since I can tell that you are still not completely convinced that Sansa does indeed want and love you. So unfortunately, all I can do is reassure you that things will work themselves out when they are supposed to. There is no need for you to fret over it just now.”

Seemingly pleased and grateful that he has not irreparably damaged things between he and Sansa, he can only manage to nod at her before pulling her into a tight embrace and whispering “thank you.”

Embracing him back she reminds him to not pull back from Sansa, either.

Apparently sensing that Sandor is still nervous on how to approach her or make any sort of move, she tells him to continue to let Sansa take the lead, if need be.

“She is the one who asked you to run away with her, after all. Sansa promised to take care of you. She is the one who always places your bedroll touching her own every night, save this once. She took your hand in hers’ yesterday; and not letting go of it for a while, mind you. Finally, she is the one who leapt up, wrapped her arms around your neck and closed her eyes hoping you would finally kiss her! So if it helps, Sandor, let Sansa continue taking the lead and setting the pace between you two. Eventually she will do what you are unable to.”

Before he can even respond though, his sister quickly gets out “and no, baby brother, Sansa will not think you any less of a man if she must make a move first! If I know you, Sandor, you were thinking just that, weren’t you?” she asks with a raised brow causing Sandor to grumble under his breath about how Elandria always seemed to be able to read his damn mind before nodding in acquiescence.  

 

 

Regretfully telling him that it is time for her to take her leave as morning is nearing and knowing that he and Sansa will need to get back on the road, Elandria lifts up on her toes one more time to wrap her arms around her brother’s neck. “Only for now, Sandor. I will be here for you anytime you need me; rest assured! Mother is hoping that she shall be able to come through the next time I visit you, as well,” she says, pleasing him greatly as he desperately misses both his mother and his sister.

 

“Sweet Sandor, please know that I have been with the both of you every step of the way; ever since the very evening when you asked me to wish the two of you luck with your escape back in your chamber. I will continue to be with you until I feel you no longer need my guidance. Only then will I be able to finally rest in peace.”

“That means you will be here with me forever, then,” he slightly jests causing her to laugh. “Seriously, though, I guess I should hurry for you then, no?”

“That would be nice; seeing as it has only been fifteen years of worrying over you, you big, beloved brute! I want to see you happily married, settled, and if it isn’t too much to ask, mayhap you and your Little Bird can give your beloved sister a niecepup or nephpup… or mayhap even… five?” she says with a giggle causing her beautiful silver grey eyes to sparkle.

After barking out an earnest laugh, he tells her with true sincerity “I think that would equate to a litter, sweet sister; but I will try to make you proud.”

Smiling wider at him, she says to him “you already do, Sandor; and don’t you ever forget that!”

He closes his eyes briefly, causing a few lasting tears to trickle down his cheeks as he nods at her. “I love you, Elandria. And I miss you.”

“As do I, baby brother,” she replies while gently wiping the tears away from his cheeks with her fingertips. “I wish I could have been there for you when you were becoming a young man; mayhap I could have helped you avoid this unfortunate incident and you would have finally been kissed this evening and now sleeping with a beautiful Little Bird contentedly nesting in your arms,” she says, her voice laden with emotion while caressing his burnt cheek.

“I will see you soon, my sweetling; please allow yourself to know that you are worth being happy,” she says before standing on the tips of her toes and allowing her lips to take the place of her hand on his scarred cheek. “I love you….”

 

Learning from his mistakes and figuring that he should probably close his eyes, even though this is just a kiss on his cheek and from Elandria, he is deeply saddened as he opens his eyes to find that his beloved sister has vanished completely without a trace.

 

***

  

Feeling the crisp and cool early morning breeze drift across his waking form, Sandor is reminded once again of that infamous Stark motto: “Winter Is Coming.”

Remembering the disastrous fiasco that occurred between he and Sansa last night, Sandor is dreading what he will find when he finally opens his eyes. At some point during the night he must have turned over in the much too short bedroll to face towards Sansa. Trying to steel his nerves as best as he can, he forces himself to man up, open his eyes, and face whatever is in store for him.

 

Sansa must have left after all, he thinks upon noticing his own bedroll still lying a foot away from him and very much empty. It’s your own damn fault, you stupid fucking dog.

 

Vaguely remembering that he had dreamt of his beloved sister for the first time since she died last night, Sandor is frustrated to realize that he is unable to remember what the dream was actually about. Fuck! I usually always remember my dreams. Fucking figures that the one time I dream of Elandria I can’t remember a godsdamn thing about it. All that he can recall is seeing her beautiful face and feeling her loving arms holding him as tightly as she always did when he was just a pup. He knows that she was talking to him about something important—mayhap even something regarding Sansa—but no matter how hard he concentrates, he just cannot remember any of the details.

 

As Sandor is desperately trying to rack his brain to remember what any of the conversation with Elandria was about, he nearly misses the light feminine humming drifting his direction from where the saddlebags were left last night.

Sansa? She stayed? Sitting up quickly in the bedroll, relief floods every fiber of his being to see Sansa rummaging through her saddlebags. She stayed! Her back is to him and as he loudly lets out the breath he didn’t realize he was holding, she stops humming and quickly looks his direction.

“Oh, I am so sorry Sandor; did I wake you?” she asks him with a sweet smile causing Sandor’s heart to damn near stop. She’s smiling at me; after what happened last night… is this still a dream?

“No, you didn’t wake me.”

Sansa smiles again and nods at him before turning back towards the saddlebags and continues her rummaging for what remains of their food. They have done fairly well with rationing their food. Every other night Sandor has been able to snare small animals such as rabbits or squirrels to offset their consumption of the dried meats.

Even though Sansa did not complain, her blanching the first night he had her help with skinning a rabbit made him decide to handle that task for her from then on. Cooking the meat though, she had no issue with and even surprised Sandor by excelling at the task. Never would have thought a highborn maiden could cook so well. She even stumbled upon some sage growing near their camp one night and deliciously seasoned the meat.

Their bread may be stale and hard, but it is still edible if they pick around the small growths of mold. Sansa was concerned about the mold until Sandor told her that it is harmless and can easily be picked off.

They are completely out of apples, much to Stranger’s and Maiden’s disappointment, but Sandor is more concerned with the two horses not having much water to drink the last few days seeing as they can graze for food. Thank gods Stoney Sept is just little more than half a day’s ride away.

 

With her hands full of the last rations they brought from King’s Landing, Sansa makes her way back to the empty bedroll and sits facing him before smoothing out her skirt. Still unsure of how, or even if, he should bring up what happened last night, he decides to let her broach the topic if she wishes to. I’d personally much rather forget it ever happened, myself.

“Here Sandor,” she says, passing him a slightly larger bundle of food than normal.

“I am so very sorry for not having your meal ready for you last night. I guess I must have just been very tired and fell asleep. I feel so horrible about neglecting you; please forgive me?” Sansa pleads to a very confused Sandor. Huh? She is asking me to forgive her? Just because she didn’t have food out? I should be the one on hands and knees begging for forgiveness after making a fool of myself last night, he thinks, but deciding not to mention it. She doesn’t appear to be angry at him for his untoward behavior and so he doesn’t want to bring it up in order to avoid any potential awkwardness.

“Don’t fret over it, Sansa. I was perfectly able to get my own food last night if I wanted it; I was pretty exhausted as well,” he says, neglecting to mention that he was honestly too upset to even think about eating.

“I know you could Sandor, but I did promise to take care of you when we left King’s Landing. And now I failed you!” she says with a rather adorable pout making her bottom lip protrude in the most delectable manner. Don’t even think about her mouth, you buggering idiot; wasn’t last night hard enough on you? 

“Anyway, I am giving you extra food this morning to break your fast. I want to see you eat more this morning to compensate for my neglecting you! And do not dare argue with me about it, either, Sandor Clegane!” Sansa tells him with a brow raised and pointing her finger at him causing him to chuckle at her seriousness. Gods she’s so damn beautiful when her inner wolf emerges.

“Little Bird’s got claws!” he jests with a smirk causing her to smile as she overly exaggerates a sigh and shakes her head in feigned annoyance.

Sandor is unsure why Sansa doesn’t seem to be upset with him about last night but he has no intention on finding out by asking her, either. If she wants to pretend that nothing happened, he will gladly play along. Hopefully this means she won’t chase me off in Deep Den.

 

Taking up the proffered bundle of food he realizes he is hungrier than he initially thought. Sure, they haven’t been eating very much since they have been rationing their food, but he is surprised how skipping one small meal has affected his appetite.

Deciding that he needs wine after such a night instead of the usual water Sansa has left out for him, he crawls over to reach for his own saddlebags and promptly digs out one of his last two remaining wineskins. Knowing that if it were not for Sansa’s rationing of his wine as well, he would have probably been out after only three days on the run. Thank gods we should reach Stoney Sept by tonight; hopefully we can at least get some more rations even if we don’t end up staying at the inn.  

 

After unstopping the skin for a long pull of his much needed Dornish Red, an object he nearly forgot about catches his eye in his saddlebag.

It’s the very thing he spent the last three nights working on while Sansa was fast asleep. He had worked on it a couple of hours each night in order to have it done in time for… shite, it’s today! I bet the Little Bird has no idea today is her nameday. Having spent most of his life out on campaigns for various battles or skirmishes, he has no trouble keeping track of time; especially when it is something important to him, like anything to do with Sansa.

Being a prisoner of the crown for over two years, he knows that no one has done anything special for her nameday since the one she had six moons before her father’s execution. On that nameday, King Robert ordered a special feast and small tourney for the future Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Sandor had no intention on riding in that tourney as the purse was so small it didn’t warrant getting Stranger worked up for it. But, Sandor was so damn powerless to say ‘no’ when a certain Little Bird asked if he would ride with a massive ego boosting “it would please me greatly, ser, to have only the best ride in my nameday tourney,” that he couldn’t even mock her for calling him ‘ser.’

 

 

Sandor might have possibly been excited to give Sansa the gift he made for her a day or two ago, despite his nervousness; now though, he is not entirely certain if he should even give it to her at all. Her acting like I didn’t make a complete and utter arse of myself last night and accepting a personalized gift from me today are two very different things.

Debating with himself on whether or not he should give Sansa her gift, he does do as he was ordered by his pretty little mistress and promptly begins eating the extra rations as she so adorably instructed. A good dog must obey, after all.

 

While wolfing down his meal, he cannot help but notice that Sansa has chosen to wear one of her bird embroidered blue gowns, again. Must be one of her favorites, he thinks, silently admitting how he loves the way it looks on her, as well. The cut of the gowns she made for their travel accentuates her matured body, beautifully.

Remembering how much she had outgrown the summer silks Cersei had given her, he is amazed at how much more voluptuous Sansa’s figure is when not being confined by gowns that are too small. Or a bloody corset that she had no damn need for.

 

When Sandor first saw Sansa in the bailey of Winterfell, he noticed right away that, though young, she was quite tall for a lady. She is just slightly over a foot shorter than me now that she is grown, he reasons, knowing how he is barely an inch or two shy of seven feet, himself.

Considering how she had not yet flowered at the time, she was quite boyish in shape, despite her delicate, refined features. Now that she is fully grown though, those delicate, refined features, added with both her height and her curves, make for a strikingly beautiful woman.

Her teats are ample, but not excessively large. They would probably fit perfectly in my hands. I wonder if her nipples are the same pretty pink color as her lips? The way her bust curves into her small waist before flaring into her womanly hips gives Sansa a near perfect hourglass shape. After lifting her on and off of Stranger so often, Sandor cannot help but feel like his hands fit the curvature of her small waist as if her body was sculpted to fit him and him alone.

“Is there something on my gown?” Sansa chirps out, awaking him from his daydreaming. Realizing that he has been caught staring at her, he can’t fight the warmth he feels crawling up his neck and cheeks. Seven fucking hells, busted like a green boy peeking in his first whorehouse window.

Quickly turning his attention to their mounts to hide his flushed face, he tries to nonchalantly play off getting caught. “No, I was just thinking of our route in my head. Didn’t realizing I was staring.” Fuck, I hate liars but I don’t think it wise to tell her ‘oh, no Little Bird; I was just picturing your pretty pink nipples and wondering how responsive they would be to my tongue!’

“Oh, well, I guess that is why you didn’t hear me then; you were distracted!” she replies with a blush of her own and a smile that makes him wonder if he actually mentioned licking her nipples aloud, by mistake. Bugger me, what the hells is wrong with me this morning?

“Sorry Little Bird, what did you say?”

“Oh, it was not important, Sandor,” she replies while collecting the waterskin for a sip. As she unstops it, she asks before taking a pull, “so, we should make it to Stoney Sept this evening?”

“Aye, unless we run into any sort of obstacles to slow us down. We’ve been lucky not running into any search parties or bandits; better pray to those gods of yours that it stays that way.”

“I have been every morning and night,” she says, though Sandor figured as much already seeing as she is so devout in her faith. I actually envy her ability to have blind faith in something like the gods, he thinks, knowing that he is a man who must see to believe. “I am guessing with a name like Stoney Sept that there is actually a sept?”

“Unless my brother and his pets, or the war in general, has demolished it, aye there’s a sept. Why? Is praying in the woods not enough? Need to light candles as well?” he asks, which regrettably comes out sounding more condescending than he planned.

“Well, it makes praying for specific things a bit more… meaningful. At least, it does to me. And I have need to pray to the Mother, Maiden, Crone, and the Warrior.”

“Now I can understand a young Lady praying to the Maiden and mayhap the Mother and Crone, but the Warrior? Something troubling you?” he asks, actually curious and not just wanting to mock her faith.

“Ye… well, no, but I would like some guidance on something and I feel all four would be best to help me,” she replies rather cryptically. “I do not mean offend, Sandor, but my prayers are a rather private matter,” she says while blushing and taking another sip from the waterskin.

Mayhap she means to ask how to keep your dog from humping your leg, he wryly muses and inwardly chuckling to himself. “Alright, well, if it is still standing and looks safe, we’ll see if we can stop by for you.”

Obviously giving her an answer that pleases her, she happily smiles at him and begins rummaging through her saddlebags again. Anything to make you smile, Little Bird. “I sure hope we will be able to stay at the inn you mentioned,” she peeps out with her back to him.

Immensely relieved, and pleased, that their incident last night has not made her wish to alter their plans, he only grunts in agreement as he finishes the last of his meal.

 

Seeing that the result of her rummaging through her bags is her brush and watching her deft fingers quickly unbraid her hair, Sandor decides that if he is going to go through with giving her the nameday gift, he better do so now.

Quickly grabbing what he made out of his own bag, Sandor musters up his nerve by taking a long pull from his Dornish Red. “Little Bir—” he begins when his voice suddenly breaks like a nervous green boy. Seven. Fucking. Hells!

Clearing his throat, he tries again. “Sansa?” he settles on, just to get her attention.

“Yes Sandor?” she replies while stilling her brushing and looking expectantly at him.

With his heart pounding in his chest, he can feel beads of sweat forming on his brow. Feeling like there is an entire swarm of butterflies in his stomach, or mayhap an entire flock of little birds, he cannot control the way his hands are beginning to tremble. Suddenly feeling like his tunic is strangling him, he reaches up and yanks the ties loose as his mouth goes as dry as cotton. Seven buggering hells! This is a lot fucking harder than I thought.

“Are you alright, Sandor?” Sansa asks with her brows furrowed and concern filling her voice. Unable to keep eye contact with her he decides to just give her the gift and get it over with.

He suddenly thrusts the item towards her, not quite so gently. “For you… um, well, it’s for your nam… fuck!” he manages to stammer and stutter before getting “for your nameday, Little Bird,” out at last.

 

Feeling like he has been holding his hand out for ages, he finally steals a glance at Sansa. He sees her staring at him with her eyes wide and mouth agape clearly in surprise, though he isn’t sure if Sansa is truly seeing anything at the moment. What Sandor was trying to say must have finally registered to her, because suddenly she closes her mouth, blinks several times, and slightly shakes her head before looking at him again. “My nameday?” she repeats while her eyes trail down his face, shoulder, and outstretched arm before settling on the carved wooden object laying in his hand.

Reaching out to pick up the item, her fingertips lightly graze his palm sending a jolt clear through him that he has felt a few other times when she has touched his skin. Cradling it in her hand, her face is unreadable. “I-it’s for your hair,” he offers. “You can use it to put your hair up off your neck.” She hates it.

 

After what feels like several hours he sees her eyes glossing over as a smile begins to form on her lips. “You made this, Sandor? For me?” she asks while tracing the carvings of the three-pronged hair-fork with her fingers.

“Aye,” is all he says as he watches her fingertip glide up each of the prongs of the hair-fork towards the part he is most nervous about. On the head of the hair-fork stands a canine, which he figures Sansa will see as a direwolf. Its head is looking over its back at the little bird carved to appear as if it is perched on the tip of its tail and singing to it.

 

“Oh, Sandor! It’s…” she sniffs out before continuing, “it’s beautiful! I didn’t even realize it was my nameday and yet here you have made something so precious… for me.”

‘Beautiful?’ ‘Precious?’ Sh-she likes it? Seeing her smile widening as she studies the hair-fork with tears streaming down her face he is hopeful that she genuinely seems to like it. “So… you… you like it, then?” he can’t help but shyly ask, needing to know for sure in case he is misreading her.

She stares at him in disbelief and half laughs out “’like it’? Sandor, I love it! Thank you so much!” she says to his relief, causing him to smile in earnest despite how horrible his scars must be stretching. “I have been so very tired of having to keep my hair braided as after a while it starts to irritate my neck. You must have noticed me flipping my braid from shoulder to shoulder at times? I have regretted not bringing anything to put my hair up with and was even contemplating asking you to just cut it off for me with your dagger. Now, though, I have something perfect for it,” she says, making Sandor damn glad that he gave it to her now, as cutting her gorgeous hair would be a crime punishable by death.  

 

“Your carvings are quite exceptional, Sandor. I didn’t know you were so good at woodworking.”

“Would have been better had I more than my dagger to use.”

“Oh, no, Sandor; it’s perfect! When did you learn to work with wood?”

“I uh… well, while I was healing from my…” he starts, while gesturing to his face as his voice trails off. Sansa slightly smiles at him as she reaches out to gently squeeze his forearm in support and nods her understanding, so he continues. “The maester thought I needed something to keep me occupied while being stuck in bed for so long. So, believe it or not, but the same buggering woodcarver that made that fucking toy knight came by after hearing of my ‘accident’ and taught me the basics. The rest was just practice and experimenting while being cooped up in my own cage of sorts.”

“Father liked to dabble with woodworking while I was a young girl, but he was never able to spend much time on it aside from the wooden castle he made for my dolls on my fourth nameday that I cherished,” she says reminiscently. “I am hopeful that it is packed away somewhere at Winterfell so that if I ever have any daughters of my own one day, I can give it to them.”

Nodding at her, he cannot help but want to know what she considers the carved canine to be. “So, you like the little bird and the… well, you know… that I added?” Fuck! I sound even worse than a buggering green boy, if that’s even possible.

“You mean the little bird and the hound?” she asks, causing his breath to hitch in hopeful anticipation.

“You want it to be a hound?” he nervously asks.

“That’s what it is, isn’t it? It looks like a hound.”

“I-I thought you might want to consider it a direwolf?”

“Well, I was assuming that the hound and the bird were representations of us,” Sansa says causing a lump to form in Sandor’s throat. “The Little Bird belongs to the Hound after all; not a direwolf!” she says with a shy hint of a smile forming on her lips.

With his eyes wide, he tries to swallow down the lump in his throat to no avail. His mouth and throat feel drier than the damned desert of Dorne. Desperately grabbing his wineskin to quench his parched throat, he finally manages to ask with raised brow and bated breath, “you mean that the Little Bird, as in you, belongs to the Hound, as in… me?”

A crimson flush suddenly races across her pale, beautiful face. Fuck! Way to ruin it, idiot. She obviously either didn’t mean it that way or just didn’t realize the way it sounded.

Biting her bottom lip and wringing her hands, she steels her features and finally seems to compose herself. “Well Sandor… you are the only person who calls me that; so, wouldn’t that pretty much make me your Little Bird?” she asks while looking at him with huge, innocent blue eyes and slightly reddened cheeks.

“I mean, um… well, since you made the hair-fork for me and with the little bird there I just assumed that it was supposed to be me and that the hound was supposed to be you… b-but mayhap I interpreted it wrong…?”

“Sansa, I just thought to let you call it whatever you saw it as or wanted it to be.”

“Well… honestly… I immediately saw the Hound and his Little Bird,” she shyly says with a demure smile while looking up at him through her lashes.

Letting out a breath he had no idea he was even holding, he suddenly feels his heart start beating again, as if it too were awaiting her answer. Not trusting his voice at the moment, since it has betrayed him quite a bit recently, he simply nods and attempts what he hopes looks like a pleasant smile, despite knowing that only half of his mouth is really turning up.

 

She likes it! Sansa likes her gift! No… my Little Bird likes her gift. And she actually wanted it to be a hound; not just any hound, but me! Sandor knows he must be grinning like a fool, but he can’t find it in himself to give a fuck. His Little Bird’s reaction to her nameday gift has just about wiped out all of his self-loathing heartache from the previous night. Sansa has no idea how her calling herself his, even if she only means due to his pet name for her and not that she is actually his woman, has boosted his self-confidence.

For the first time in his life, Sandor finds himself actually allowing a slight sliver of hope and wondering if he might should take a chance to visit that damn sept, himself, once they reach town. Mayhap she won’t chase me off after all… perhaps she will still want me as her sworn shield, too, he wishes, knowing that what he wants to allow himself to hope for is out of the question. He would love to allow himself to hope that Sansa could one day love him, but just hoping she won’t chase the stray mutt away will suffice.

 

Once again, his daydreaming seems to make him miss what Sansa is saying, as he startles with a slight jump when she nudges him, causing her to giggle. “Really Sandor… and you used to tease me about having songs and stories in my head and about daydreaming. You really have me curious as to what you are thinking about so much today,” she teases causing him to chuckle.

“Sorry about that Little Bird; what did you say?”

“I asked if you knew the best way to wear this. I’ve worn hair combs plenty of times, but I’ve never had a hair-fork before. I know it’s probably a stretch to think you would know more about it than me, so if not I’ll figure it out; just thought I’d ask, is all.”

“Actually, I think I may remember one or two ways Elandria used to wear hers.”

Elandria? Who is she; a… a lover?” Sansa asks and sounding a bit… is she jealous?

“Elandria was my elder sister,” he says, a bit surprised by the sudden relief in Sansa’s eyes.

“Your sister! Oh, Sandor, I didn’t know you had a sister! Where is she?” Sansa excitedly asks. “What’s she like? Is she married? Do you have any nieces and nephews?”

“No, Little Bird… Elandria is dead,” he replies as Sansa gasps and covers her mouth with her hand.

“Oh, Gods Sandor… I-I am so sorry. I really didn’t mean to sound so insensitive,” she soothingly says as she reaches out and squeezes his arm again while a couple of tears trickle down her cheeks.

“It’s alright, Sansa; not your fault. Only three people alive even know of her existence; well, four now.”

“Sandor, I promise I won’t pry if it is a sore subject, but if I asked what happened to her, will the answer have anything to do with Gregor?”

Sandor simply nods once at her causing her tears to trickle faster. “Alright. You do not need to say anything about it; but please know Sandor that if you ever need to talk about it, or anything really, I am here for you.”

Wiping her tears away with the pads of his thumbs, he gives a half smile and says “aye, Little Bird; I know you are.” How can anyone be so damn sweet?

“She had a beautiful name; mayhap you can tell me about her one day?”

“One day, Little Bird,” he answers knowing that he has yet to ask Sansa about finishing the Bride’s Cloak Elandria started and feeling that would be the best time to talk about her. Mayhap at the inn.

 

“So… you said you might remember how Elandria wore hers?” she asks to which he nods in response. “Do you think you could show me?” she asks with a sweet smile as she hands him the hair-fork and her brush.

Motioning him to uncross his legs, she promptly perches herself down between his thighs with her back to him before he has a chance to answer. Looking over her shoulder at him, she asks “is this alright or am I too close?”

Feeling that lump reappear in his throat, he manages to tell her that she is fine where she is. Fuck, I can’t believe she wants me to do her hair! Sandor incredulously thinks knowing how long he has been dying to be able to run his fingers through her flaming locks and planning on taking his time to enjoy every second of it.

 

Gathering all of her hair behind her back, he runs his fingers down through her strands, immediately following them by brushing long, steady strokes down the length. Her hair is softer than the finest silk. Sandor decides that the same method he uses to brush out Stranger’s mane and tail will also work for Sansa’s hair. She does not seem to mind and he is rewarded by hearing her contentedly sigh as he works his way through her hair, brushing it until it shines and shimmers like a freshly minted Copper Star. “I think you may have found yourself a new job, Sandor.”

He can’t keep from chuckling at her rather wistful sounding voice. “Oh, is that so? Am I to be your handmaiden now, too, Little Bird?” he jests causing her to laugh.

“Well, we might have to rethink the Red Keep’s style of handmaiden gown if you are very hairy,” she laughs back at him. “Seriously though, your brushing feels better than Shae’s! She could be rather ungentle.”

“Well, Shae was a whore.”

“And you are a warrior!” 

Laughing at her valid statement, he tells her “aye, but I have been brushing Stranger down for over twelve years whereas your Shae has been doing… well, other things.”

“Lucky horse,” Sansa says under her breath. Not sure if he was meant to hear that or not, he doesn’t respond; but it does make him smile.

 

“Alright Little Bird; now it has been about fifteen years since I’ve seen my sister do her hair, so this may not turn out as pretty as what your other handmaidens could do, he says, eliciting a giggle from Sansa. Setting her brush down, Sandor gathers her hair in his left hand and begins twisting the length of it using his right until it’s in a thick twisted rope. After coiling the twisted length around itself against her scalp, he picks up the hair-fork and begins weaving it through the twisted coils, leaving the hound and the bird sticking up from the top. Finally, he tucks the ends of her hair up into the back of the coil to hide them.

His eyes are instantly drawn to her long, graceful neck that seems to be even more on display to him than when her hair is simply braided. Ignoring the intensely strong urge to wrap his arms around her waist, pull her back into him, and nuzzle her neck, he leans back a bit to inspect his work instead. “Does it feel secure?”

Gently shaking her head to test its hold, he is pleased to see that it appears to be staying in place. “It’s not moving at all!” she happily says while cautiously touching her hair before rising to her knees and turning around to face him.

“So, how do I look?” Turning her head left, right, up, down, and every possible angle in between, he swears that her neck is now teasing and taunting him with what he cannot have.

“Beautiful.”

His single word response must please her as her cheeks blush in the prettiest shade of pink and her smile damn near makes his heart stop.

 

Realizing that Sansa is still between his thighs, he cannot help but think that his mind is playing tricks on him as she looks to be closer to him now than when he did her hair only moments ago.

Before he can say or do anything, though, Sansa suddenly leans in to him and wraps her arms around his neck in a tight, comforting embrace. Just as it did last night though, her action has caused his breath to catch and his stomach to flutter uncontrollably; but that is as far as he will allow any similarities from that disaster to repeat themselves. I fucking refuse to humiliate myself again, damnit.

 

Very, very cautiously though, Sandor slowly allows his own arms to wrap around her in return, hoping his reaction won’t scare her. Since he is not yet wearing his armor, he is acutely aware of how well he can feel her perfect full teats pressing firmly against his chest, causing his cock to harden instantly which he tries in vain to ignore.

Still holding him tightly, she whispers “thank you so much for my nameday gift, Sandor. It’s beautiful and I love it” against his right cheek allowing him to feel her lips graze the shell of his ear as she speaks, causing an involuntary shudder to course through him. Suddenly surprising him even further, she pulls her head back slightly and presses her lips firmly against his stubbled cheek in a sweet, tender kiss before replacing her cheek against his once again.

Sansa kissed my cheek! And she’s still holding me. Oh, fuck… this feels so much better than even my best dreams of her, he thinks, knowing how long he has wanted and needed to feel such a simple form of affection from anyone; especially Sansa. He can’t even find it in himself to care that she chose to kiss his good cheek. The fact that Sansa Stark’s lips touched any part of his body is enough to bring him to his knees making him so damn grateful that he’s already sitting!

Sandor closes his eyes in order to savor every single detail about this moment knowing that it surely won’t ever happen again—Sansa’s content sighing, the enticing scent of her hair wafting through his nose, how perfectly she fits within his arms and pressed so firmly up against him—but most importantly, the way it feels to finally be held tightly by the woman he loves and not from her doing so due to a flashback. Please Sansa; please just hold me for a bit longer, he silently pleads to his Little Bird, seeing how he so desperately needs this from her. Especially after last night.

Taking a chance, he pulls her even tighter into his arms. His action elicits what he thinks actually sounds like a slight moan, causing a deep and rather intense feeling of desire to course through his body. Sansa tightens her arms around Sandor in return and he suddenly feels her reaching up to tenderly cradle the back of his head with her hand, essentially holding him even more firmly against her.

 

After several long minutes, but still not nearly long enough, Sansa slowly releases him and sits back on her heels. “We should probably… um, well we should probably pack up camp and get back on the road…” she says with a blush. “If… if we want to get to that inn before nightfall, that is,” she finishes, seemingly unable to make eye contact with him. She must be embarrassed now, realizing she held me. Thought her reaction to a simple gift might have been too damn good to be true.

Not trusting his own voice to be any better than hers right now, he simply grunts an agreement with her as he stands and stretches before reaching a hand down to help her up as well. Feeling the effects of the wine he drank earlier, as well as the emotional whirlwind from the last two days, hitting him, he asks Sansa to start packing up camp while he goes to tend to his needs.

 

Finding clean clothes in his saddlebags, Sandor starts to head into the thick of the forest to relieve himself and change. After making it a few feet into the trees, he realizes that he has ended up in the same area he was in last night. Well, at least this time I don’t feel quite as horrible; but I really hope Sansa won’t stay upset about holding me as she did.

 

Quickly shedding his clothing, he relieves himself of his full bladder before redressing in clean socks, smallclothes, breeches, and tunic before pulling his boots back on and strapping his sword belt to his waist.

Making his way back to Sansa he sees that she has really gotten quick at packing their campsite up. She has even affixed their bedrolls and saddlebags to not only Maiden’s saddle, but to Stranger’s as well. “Stranger actually let you near him?”

“I think Stranger and I are slowly becoming friends! He even let me scratch his nose!” Sansa replies with a huge smile, obviously proud of her progress with his hellion of a horse.

 

As he checks both horses’ hooves, Sandor realizes that he forgot to unsaddle and brush down both horses last night in his distress. Thank the fucking gods we only have half a day’s ride ahead of us. He will have to make sure both horses receive extra care once they reach town, knowing he must tend to Stranger himself if he is to save a poor, innocent stable boy from losing an ear or a few fingers.

“Alright Little Bird, ready to go?” he asks to which Sansa’s response is simply her coming to stand next to Stranger for him to lift her into his saddle. She still wants to ride with me? Surely she wouldn’t if she were upset… would she? “We only have about five leagues to ride before reaching Stoney Sept.”

Looking immediately crestfallen, she asks “so I cannot ride with you then?” Fuck, she does want to ride with me; but why?

“I never said that, Sansa,” he replies seeing her eyes instantly light up. “You can ride with me until we are about a league out from town, but then I’ll need you to put on your cloak and switch to Maiden.”

“That’s fine, Sandor; thank you,” she beams at him, much to his disbelief as his hands immediately find their favorite spot on her waist to lift her into his saddle.

Mounting behind her, he is not sure whether he should assume it alright to wrap his arm around her as he has done the previous days or not, so he resorts to resting his hand on his thigh while urging Stranger and Maiden forward.

 

After a few minutes of riding in silence Sansa slightly turns in the saddle to look at Sandor with a wrinkled brow and concern written across her face. “Sandor, is everything alright?”

“Aye, why do you ask?”

“You just seem a little… off… today. I mean, normally you have your arm around me when we ride,” she says, almost sounding like she is pouting.

“I wasn’t sure if you would want me to do that.”

“Why ever not?”

Fuck. I can’t tell her why without bringing up last night and I damn sure don’t want to talk about that; things have been going fairly well, considering. Besides, if someone actually recognized Sansa and word got back to her family that the Princess in the North was not only riding double with the Lannister Hound, but that he was holding her, things could possibly complicate even further.

Sandor just knows that her mother and her kingly brother would demand for his Little Bird to have her maidenhead assessed by a septa or a maester as soon as they arrived at the Twins should they hear that their Princess has been traveling unchaperoned for several weeks with none other than Joffrey’s dog.

“Considering we are so close to a town I didn’t think you would feel it would be proper.

Raising her brow at him, she says “really Sandor?” before rolling her eyes and reaching for his hand from where it is resting on his thigh. Pulling his arm snuggly around her waist, she proceeds to lace her fingers between his, just as she did yesterday.

“Remember our ‘cover story’ Sandor? If I am to be your ‘wife,’ surely you can touch me in public! Besides, we aren’t in public yet,” she says with a mischievous smile before turning back to face forward and settling back against his chest.

So… mayhap she’s not upset after all? Fuck, why are women are so godsdamn confusing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine – Signs and Dreams

SANSA

Sansa isn't sure why Sandor didn't kiss her last night like she thought he would—like she hoped he would—but what she is sure about is how the lone patch of yellow jonquil blooms with the paw prints running alongside them being the answer to her prayers.

They are a sign. They have to be!

She stumbled across them early this morning after waking from her restless, fitful sleep and making her way into the trees to tend to her needs as Sandor slept. Those were definitely not just any paw prints, either. Had they been from a shadowcat or any other type of feline, the toenail impressions would not have been visible, as feline claws retract unless being used to fight or climb. Also, feline paws tend to be wider and shorter than canine paws as well. No. These were most assuredly canine. Either a lone wolf or a wild dog, I cannot be certain, but canine all the same.

 

Sansa had prayed to the Mother, Maiden, and the Crone last night to try to understand what she did wrong; to figure why Sandor didn’t kiss her like she sincerely thought he would. I couldn’t have been reading him wrong—he was even leaning his head down to me! The way it felt, though, when Sandor roughly yanked her arms from around his neck before storming off into the trees shattered Sansa’s heart.

He had rejected her.

But why when all of the signs Sandor had been giving off this last sennight led Sansa to believe that he may have actually fallen in love with her just as she has him?

Sansa was heartbroken; but more than that, she was truly and utterly confused.

 

She was glad that he didn’t yell at her for switching their bedrolls last night, at least—she only did so to keep his scent near her, after all. It wasn’t like she could have brought out Sandor’s old Kingsguard cloak that’s hidden in of one of her saddlebags, and sleep curled up beneath it as she was wont to do anytime she was hurting. Instead, she had to settle for the next best thing. As soon as she crawled beneath his furs, she was surrounded by his scent. How can any man still smell so incredibly delicious even though we haven’t been able to bathe in three days?

Sansa knows that breathing him in was the only thing that helped soothe her to sleep. Despite sleeping in Sandor’s bedroll, though, she still couldn’t keep from crying herself to sleep.

Before she finally felt herself start to drift off, she sent one more prayer up. This prayer, however, was not sent to the Gods. It was sent instead to her late Lord Father asking him for any kind of sign that Sandor is the man she is meant to be with.

 

As Sansa slept last night, she was plagued with one dream after another that did not make much sense to her until she was well awake this morning and could thoroughly analyze them. These were not like any dreams she was accustomed to, either. In these dreams, Sansa could actually watch her own self from the sidelines playing out the scenarios as if she were witnessing a troupe of mummers acting out a story.

 

Some of the dreams were memories; of that much she was aware of even during the dreams. One such dream memory was the night of the Hand’s Tourney in honor of her late Lord Father. Sansa watched from afar as Sandor was ordered by Prince Joffrey to escort a younger Sansa back to her chamber after he had dismissed her for the night.

Even though Sansa already knew what to expect in this memory, she still startled with a jump when Sandor suddenly and cruelly barked out a demand for the younger version of herself to look at him. Although she was watching things unfold in a dream, she could still feel the fear she felt as a young girl when Sandor crouched down at eye level with her, bringing the torch closer to his face, forcing her to gaze upon his scars.

Sansa remembers the hatred and anger in both Sandor’s eyes and voice as he told her of how his brother burned him. However, now that she is older and more mature, her older self was able to sense something more in him than just rage in that dream. There was pain and loneliness in his eyes, along with a faint trace of longing, all wrapped up in a hefty dose of hope.

Sandor wanted her to look at him. He wanted her to really see him, the man, and accept him the way he is; to not just see his scars and fierce reputation as everyone else always does. She almost thinks Sandor may even have been silently pleading her to do so. He not only wanted my acceptance of him; he needed it and was desperately begging me for it the only way he knew how… through anger. Anger which was very rarely ever directed at her, of course; it was merely empty threats.

Sandor was rather drunk that night, and she knows that people often do and say things they normally wouldn’t when inebriated—such as promising to kill her should she ever tell anyone about how he was burned. Sansa never for one moment believed that Sandor would have actually killed her, though she still had no intention of ever telling anyone what he had told her, either. Sansa rather liked the thought of sharing such a huge secret with the fearsome Hound, even if she were still terrified of him at the time; not even torture could have gotten her to reveal what he had confided in her.

 

Realizing now just how important it was for her to actually look at him, Sansa believes she may understand just why Sandor did not kiss her last night, after all. As soon as he began leaning his head down towards her, Sansa took in a quick deep breath and closed her eyes, eagerly awaiting to finally feel his lips pressed against hers.

He must have heard her sudden inhale, though, and wrongly believed her eyes were closed because she couldn’t bear to have his scarred face so close to her own… surely that must be it. He must have felt like I was rejecting him.

Oh, sweet Sandor; if you only knew, my love…. 

 

Sansa knows that isn’t the case at all as she loves his face; scars and all! However, people have reacted negatively to his physical appearances since he was just a burnt little boy. Plus, the way he has been treated—by nearly everyone he has ever known—as if he were less than human, puts Sandor’s self-esteem and self-confidence extremely low.

So low, in fact, that he probably cannot even fathom being wanted by anyone—much less actually loved. And especially not by a highborn maiden such as herself as Sandor is below her station. Not that Sansa cares about any of that anymore, though; her experiences at court these last three years have greatly opened her eyes regarding social class order.

Mayhap we can try last night again…. But, how?

 

Sansa believes that if they are to ever have a second chance at a hopefully first kiss, she may just have to be the one to take that first step herself. Normally doing such a thing would be highly improper and untoward and would not be something Sansa would ever consider doing if she did not love that man so much.

Even though Sansa sincerely feels that Sandor may indeed want to kiss her as much as she does him, she honestly feels that he might just be too afraid of being humiliated in order to try again. After all, he already thinks I rejected him last night. This is why Sansa must find some way to make a move and kiss him first if they are to ever share any kisses at all!

She wants to do this, though. No, she needs to do this. Sansa Stark refuses to live out the rest of her life without ever finding out what Sandor Clegane’s lips feel like or how delicious his kisses taste! Somehow I bet his kisses taste even better than lemon cakes….

Despite how very badly she just wants to jump up, throw her arms around his neck, and press her lips to his, Sansa knows that she must be careful in how she actually approaches him. She doesn’t want to be untrue to who she is. Sansa Stark is a lady, after all; not a common whore!

 

 

Immediately following the dream memory of Sandor, Sansa felt herself being pulled into yet another dream. Only, this dream was no memory I can recall ever having before, Sansa thinks, as she remembers how it felt to look upon her beloved Lord Father once again while he sat on the edge of her childhood bed back at Winterfell. This version of herself was much younger than in the previous dream with Sandor. She thinks she must have been about seven or eight years old in it. Felt so strange to see myself so young! And my Lord Father—how very handsome he looked!

Sansa tearfully watched from a distance as her father tucked her younger self into bed before proceeding to tell her one of her favorite stories to help ease her to sleep. Sansa’s father has told her stories numerous times; they were generally more on par, though, with Old Nan’s tales of the North, Beyond the Wall, the Children of the Forest, and the First Men. That's why Sansa couldn’t help but find it very uncharacteristic of her Lord Father choosing to tell her the story of ‘Florian and Jonquil’ in this dream, considering it was generally her Lady Mother who told it to her.

After her father finished telling her the story she already knew by heart since the tender age of three, he asked her a rather strange question that was completely unrelated to the tale. “Do you know why I love the Stark sigil, Sansa? Direwolves are much like dogs, you see. Being canines, both Direwolves and dogs are brave when most would cower, gentle to both their pack and those they love, and strong to handle whatever obstacles come their way. Remember that, Lemon Cake, and all of your worries will work themselves out.”

 

She couldn’t truly analyze this dream at first; not until she saw that patch of jonquils with the canine paw prints this morning. Right then and there, though, Sansa knew with all of her heart that both the Gods and her Lord Father had answered her prayers. Her beloved Hound is the man both the Gods and her Lord Father have chosen for her.

 

Sansa's father has confirmed to her that Sandor Clegane is indeed “brave, and gentle, and strong.”

 

So, knowing that she has loved Sandor for at least a year—mayhap even closer to two—Sansa must now determine Sandor’s feelings on the matter.

 

Sandor’s actions towards her this last sennight have Sansa believing that he may actually be harboring some kind of affection for her after all. He has been so very kind and attentive; much like a true Lord Husband would be to his Lady Wife. He always asks how she is feeling and if she needs to rest from riding. He tries so hard to find campsites near running water and that are safe enough for fires, as he wants to ensure her comfort—as much as possible while living outdoors in the woods, at least.

She also cannot count on both hands how many times she has caught him staring at her, either. However, whenever she looks his direction, he quickly looks away; but not before she sometimes sees the slightest trace of a blush crawling up his neck and across his good cheek. Sandor looks rather adorable when he blushes. 

 

This very morning was no different, either. While the two of them were breaking their fasts, Sansa was acutely aware of Sandor's staring at her. She could nearly feel the gentle caress of his eyes as they trailed down her body, lingering just a bit longer on her bust, before continuing down towards her waist and hips. At first, Sansa only intended to sit there and let him look at her all he wanted, pretending not to notice. That is why she is not sure what came over her when she actually called him out on his staring by asking if something was on her gown. It's as if my mouth spoke out on its own accord!

Sandor's response was utterly endearing to her. His neck and cheeks turned a bright pink—though it was more prominently visible on his unmarred cheek—before he quickly looked away and flat out lied to her to avoid his own embarrassment. There was absolutely no possible way for Sansa to contain the smile that formed on her lips at his reaction to getting caught.

The reaction her body had to his staring, though, was most apparent to her, as well. She felt the deep yearning sensation she often feels for him flood her core. On top of that, though, she could even feel her nipples starting to stiffen and become rather sensitive, making her very acutely aware that her shift is no longer as soft as it would be from being properly and regularly laundered.

Sansa was sincerely grateful that her heavier woolen gown prevented her hardened nipples from showing through to Sandor. Though secretly, way down deep inside, she might not have entirely minded him knowing just how his admiring her body had affected her. Gods, Sansa… such wanton thoughts! And here you call yourself a Lady!

 

So, while Sansa is not entirely certain the feelings Sandor may have for her are actually love, she is quite sure that he does at least desire her. Every single day she has felt evidence of his desire for her from where she sits perched in front of him, in their saddle, while his arm is wrapped snuggly around her waist.

The first time she felt his hardened manhood pressing against her backside had scared her. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust him; as she said back at Maegor’s Holdfast, Sandor will not hurt her. Of that, she is absolutely, positively certain! No. What scared Sansa was her own body’s reaction to his obviously aroused state.

Sansa is just now starting to realize that what she has been experiencing these last several days is her desire for him. Her body should not be reacting this way, though; a proper lady’s body simply does not behave in such a manner! She just knows that poor late Septa Mordane must be utterly disappointed and ashamed of her… so tell me again why you do not feel more ashamed of yourself, Sansa Stark?

 

The desire Sansa has been experiencing has gotten so intense that she has had to resort to wearing her strips of moonblood cloths every day now, lest Sandor discover the state of her desire.

Sansa was forced to make such a decision after a mortifying incident only four days prior. As the animal trail they were following lead them up a small, yet rather steep hill, the sharp incline caused Sansa to slide backwards in the saddle. This normally wouldn’t have been such an issue; however, she ended up sliding right into Sandor’s groin. She tried using the pommel to pull herself forward, though her efforts seemed to be in vain and only managed to make things much, much worse. Her movements caused her backside to involuntarily grind against Sandor, letting her feel just how incredibly hard his manhood had become. Are men supposed to get that hard?

 

Realizing that she was the cause of Sandor’s apparent aroused state made the wetness Sansa’s been feeling within her woman’s place rush to her a lot quicker than she has ever experienced before. Plus, she could tell that there was considerably more of it than she’s gotten in the previous days, as well. So much more, in fact, that she felt it nearly pouring out of her, dripping down her inner thighs.

As if that weren’t bad enough, something else happened that time, as well. All of a sudden she heard a rather deep groan emanating from Sandor’s chest. She could even feel it reverberating clear through her, and settle deep in the pit of her tummy, from where her back was firmly pressed up against him. Hearing and feeling that groan from Sandor caused both her heart and her tummy to flutter wildly, and caused a very strange—but yet not at all unpleasant—mysterious throbbing sensation deep within her woman’s place, as well. She has no idea what that throbbing is, nor why she felt it in the first place—but she’d be lying to say that she didn’t find it a rather enjoyable sensation, even if it was an unusual feeling.

 

Sansa isn’t sure why she did it—and Gods know she shouldn’t have and should be oh, so ashamed of herself for it—but she had such a strong compulsion to press her bottom against his groin once again; only this time even firmer than before. This impulse she felt was not something she could have ignored had her life depended on it! Sansa was completely and utterly powerless as her bottom involuntarily ground itself against Sandor’s extremely hardened, and evidently rather large, manhood once again. She was thankful to be able to keep the moan threatening to escape her lips from actually coming out upon discovering just how surprisingly good his large, hard manhood truly felt pressed against her.

Are all men as large there as Sandor seems to be? Sansa wonders. Though she is having a difficult time imagining a man with such a slight, thin build as Joffrey having a manhood anywhere near the size of someone with a tall, broad, muscular build like her Sandor. After all, Joffrey is but a mere boy; Sandor Clegane is all man!

 

Having Sandor’s large, hard manhood pressing so firmly against her caused that very unusual throbbing sensation she felt only moments earlier return to her even stronger than before. I so wish Shae were here to tell me what that actually is!

On top of the throbbing, though, Sansa kept having yet another rather strange feeling. A sort of hollowness or empty feeling—both deep within her woman’s place and down very low in her tummy—that she didn’t even know possible to feel. How can it feel like there is literally something missing from inside of me? And why does it feel so achy? That hollow emptiness feeling gave Sansa an ache of which she’s never before experienced—an ache she is certain could only ever be soothed by one particular Hound; even if she is not quite sure how… yet!

The new achy hollowness was followed by even more throbbing and yet one more surge of wetness, which only intensified tenfold upon feeling Sandor slightly thrust against her backside, letting out yet another deep groan. Or mayhap it was a moan that time? Gods, Sansa! You have got to stop this!

 

Rather suddenly, though, Sandor decided that it was the perfect time and place to take a short break so they could let their horses rest, tend to their respective needs, and eat a bit of food. Usually, Sandor would assist Sansa with dismounting Stranger rather gently. This time however, he seemed rather hurried to get her down before asking her to get their rations out as he had a rather urgent need to make water—although he did choose a much more colorful word for the deed!

 

Considering the condition he was in before he left, and the fact that he was also gone for several minutes, it did not take Sansa very long to figure out that Sandor was doing much more than simply making water. She has heard the ribald talk of the Red Keep’s servants enough times—after being labeled the daughter and sister of traitors, that is—to know that men are often known to pleasure themselves whenever they have certain needs and no one about to help sate their desires.

However, knowing that Sandor was more than likely doing just that—and realizing that she was the reason for his rather expeditious dash into the trees to do so—secretly, and yet so inappropriately, thrilled her.

However, Sansa just could not keep her mind from wandering off into forbidden territories. Her mind drifted off on its own accord to actually envision what Sandor was really doing before severely admonishing herself for such improper and unladylike wanton thoughts. A true lady simply does not fantasize about a man in such a manner!

 

While Sansa fought the rather intense—and oh, so completely inappropriate—desire to sneakily follow Sandor out into to trees in order to catch a glimpse of what she had caused, she forced herself to collect some rations from their saddlebags, instead.

From the corner of her eye, however, she noticed that something looked just a bit off with his saddle. Upon closer inspection Sansa was absolutely and positively mortified to see that what caught her eye was a not-so-small, and rather damp, circular shaped area from where she sits in the saddle with him.

She thought that her smallclothes felt rather wet, but she had no idea the moisture would soak clear through them and become visible there of all places! If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that I made water myself, right there; and very nearly in his lap! Sansa was so very thankful that Sandor was not nearby at the moment to see the utterly embarrassing mess she made of his saddle. She could just barely manage to fight back the tears burning her eyes from seeing it, herself!

So as red hot humiliation spread across her entire body, Sansa quickly gathered one of her waterskins and a washing cloth from her saddlebag. She dampened the cloth slightly and tried to buff away the evidence as quickly, yet as thoroughly, as possible.

As soon as his saddle was as clean as she could possibly make it without being forced to snoop through his saddlebags to see if he had any saddle soap, she suddenly feared that her gown may have been affected in the same manner. When she pulled her skirt around to examine the back of it, her worst fear was confirmed.

She made quick work of washing that area of her gown just as she did the saddle. She decided to tell Sandor, should he have asked, that she accidentally sat on something to soil the skirt of her gown, and silently prayed her lie would have sounded believable.

Sansa decided at that very moment—as she quickly retrieved new, dry, smallclothes—that it might be best if she simply wore her moonblood cloths permanently while traveling with Sandor. After all, she would very much like to avoid experiencing any future incidents like that, again; the humiliation was positively unbearable!

 

 

So, even though Sansa sincerely believes that Sandor may at least desire her, and knowing how she most definitely loves and desires him, she desperately needs to find out if he actually loves her, as well. Or, if mayhap his desire for me could one day turn into love.   

How she plans to determine this, though, is something she does not yet know. If Sandor were any man other than her beloved Hound, she could always just find the right moment to come out and confess her love to him. However, Sansa knows that Sandor will need to be shown how much she loves him; not just told.

Knowing just how low Sandor’s self-confidence and self-esteem are, he would probably feel that she was making a jape, or was even mocking him. I have heard it said that actions speak louder than words, after all; with a man like Sandor Clegane, words are wind!

 

Sansa has been trying already to show Sandor just how much she loves and adores him, and that his scars no longer bother her in the least. In fact, she has been trying to do so ever since the very night she found him in her chamber. Sansa has been going out of her way to really take care of him; just as she would do if she were his Lady Wife in truth.

She has been trying to show Sandor that she can, and in fact loves, to look at him. She absolutely adores gazing into those exquisite silver grey eyes of his; the very same beautiful grey depths that seem to be showing far less rage than they used to.

Sansa knows that the rage is still there, of course; it would take far longer than one sennight to soothe the wrath and tame the fury within the Hound. The two of them have only been away from the filth of the Lions a mere seven days, after all.

She also knows that if something provoked the deadly warrior, his barely suppressed rage could come flooding back with a vengeance. Especially if his vile brother, Gregor, is what causes her Hound’s hackles to rise. However, Sansa is glad that Sandor seems to be able—and willing—to tuck his anger away into some hidden cache of his mind; at least while the two of them are alone together. The Hound’s infamous rage is so intense and strong that it truly is quite terrifying to behold; she definitely does not want a reason to, once again, feel frightened of him.

 

Not only has Sandor’s anger lessened, but Sansa has also noticed that he genuinely seems to be happier now, too. Well, if he is not truly happy, then he is at least not quite as unhappy as he always appeared to be in the past. She has noticed him laughing and smiling a whole lot more than she has ever seen him do in King’s Landing. In fact, I don’t think I ever saw him smile or laugh before I asked him to come with me.

Leaving King’s Landing may have been good for him, she figures. Mayhap I was actually able to save him for once! Sansa is well aware of Sandor saving her life countless times, so the thought that she may have finally been able to return the favor, pleases her immensely.

 

The first time Sansa ever saw a real, genuine smile grace Sandor’s lips was when she teasingly made the jest about calling him ‘Big Bird’ the night the Blackwater Bay burned green. Despite the fact that only the right side of Sandor’s mouth actually turned up in his amusement—the scars on the left side of his face merely stretched and twitched—Sansa can honestly say that she has never seen a more beautiful smile on a man before. She notices that whenever Sandor does smile, his stunning silver eyes sparkle and glisten; just like the hot pools of the Godswood, back at Winterfell, as moonlight filters through the leaves, dancing across the water’s surface.

Since that night in her chamber, Sansa has made herself a solemn vow to do whatever it takes to see that beautiful smile return to his handsome face, and to see it often. To do this, though, she knows that Sandor will have to become much more to her than just her protector—more than my sworn shield—he will have to become her beloved non-Lord Husband!

 

 

Unfortunately, though, even if Sandor truly does, or could, in fact love her and one day even want to marry her, her brother Robb would never approve a match between them. Not only is Sandor a former Lannister man, but with his notoriously infamous reputation of being Joffrey’s ’dog,’ him not being a Northman, plus his not being a Lord, nor even a knight, would cause her brother to flat out refuse allowing them to marry; regardless of how much she begged and pleaded with him.

Sansa knows deep down inside, though, that should Sandor actually want to marry her, they would undoubtedly be forced to wed and bed without her brother’s consent; and long before ever reaching her family, as well. They mayhap even have to do as Lord Tyrion and Shae and keep their marriage a secret at first.

That would sincerely pain Sansa though, as she would want to let the entire world know that Sandor is not only her husband, but the love of her life. Having to possibly keep their marriage a secret would make her feel as though their love is wrong. She’s afraid people would also spread rumors claiming her to be ashamed to have married beneath her station once their marriage was made known. No telling what vile lies would be spread about my choice of husband, too.   

 

However, Sansa knows that there is also a very real chance that her marrying Sandor could cause Robb to label the both of them as traitors to the Northern Crown. Sansa being the ‘Princess in the North’ makes her a highly valuable asset for forming an alliance, after all. A marriage to a former Lannister man could weaken her brother’s position; even if Sandor bent the knee to Robb in front of all of the Northern Lords. Will I ever be anything but a useful commodity—a pawn—in this Gods forsaken war?

 

Both her brother and her Lady Mother could even go so far as to disown her if she were to follow her heart and marry the man who used to serve and protect her House’s sworn enemy—the pretender King born of incest. But… could I do it, though? Could I actually choose Sandor over my family if it came down to that?

Sansa would hate to have to even try to make that decision. It would completely shatter her heart if she had to walk away from either her family or her Hound—the man she loves with every fiber of her being.

Sansa loves her family wholeheartedly, as well; there is no denying that! But she also knows how desperately she is praying for Sandor Clegane to become a part of her family one day, as well. Sadly, though, I have a strangely strong feeling that my family would try to force me to choose between them…. Of course, none of this will ever be anything to worry about, however, unless Sandor actually shares her feelings.

 

Sansa only wants to be happy… is that really so much to ask? She has had nothing but heartache, pain, and misery since the Royal Family sent the raven announcing their visit to Winterfell. The visit that changed the entire Stark family forever; a change sparked by late King Robert so adamantly insisting her Lord Father accepting not only the position of being the new ‘Hand of the King,’ but of also joining their two houses together through a marriage between Joffrey and herself.

 

So, if Sansa must be forced to make a choice and decide between Sandor and her family to find her happiness, she at least wants to be given the option.

 

Please, Gods; please help Sandor realize that I could truly make him happy. If he would only open his heart up to me…. All of Sansa’s days would be spent showering Sandor with a love far deeper and stronger than he could ever imagine. Mayhap she could actually help him realize that love is ‘the sweetest thing there is;’ not ‘killing,’ as he once mockingly told her nearly three years ago.

 

Her silent prayers to the Gods makes Sansa unconsciously squeeze Sandor’s hand, as they are still clasped together atop her waist.

“You alright Little Bird?” Sandor asks while looking at her profile from behind her. “You are rarely this quiet.”

“Oh, sorry about that, Sandor. I am fine; just have a lot on my mind, I guess. Also thought you might could use a break from all of my incessant chirping,” she responds, while shyly smiling at him from over her shoulder. “I know how annoyed I tend to make you.”

Sandor sighs deeply and looks down at her. “You don’t annoy me, Sansa. Besides, kind of got used to all of your peeping while traveling with you this last sennight. If my Little Bird’s not chirping, makes me think something’s troubling her. So… what’s wrong, girl?”

I love when he calls me his Little Bird… though not when he calls me girl! “Really Sandor, I am perfectly fine; truly. Was just thinking of my family, is all,” she vaguely says, knowing that it is not entirely a lie seeing as how much she is hoping and praying her ‘family’ will one day include this large, beloved brute she is sharing a saddle with.

“Hmm… well, if you say so, Little Bird. We are just a little less than a league out of Stoney Sept, so I’ll need you to switch to Maiden now and put your cloak on. Draw the hood up over your hair; it shines like bloody fire,” Sandor tells her as he takes Maiden’s reins, leading her up next to Stranger on their right-hand side. Before Sansa can attempt to dismount Stranger, though, Sandor suddenly lifts her up, leans a bit over to his right, and effortlessly places her on Maiden’s back all the while eliciting a small squeal of surprise.

That squeal, however, suddenly turns to full laughter from her followed by a smirk and a chuckle from Sandor. “What? Think I’m not strong enough to lift you that little bit?” he teasingly asks before adding “all of my plate, mail, and weapons combined outweigh you by at least a good two stones, Little Bird,” he finishes with another chuckle as Sansa affixes her feet into her stirrups.

She turns around a bit in her saddle and reaches behind her to dig for her cloak in one of her saddlebags. As she pulls the cloak out from her bag and shakes it open, she tells him “I may only weigh about nine stones, Sandor, but I highly doubt your armor and weapons weigh more than me! However, I have absolutely no doubt that you are quite strong, though.”

Through a loud guffaw from him, he finally manages to get out “fuck, that’s all you weigh? I think I may need to double or even triple your rations, Little Bird! I outweigh you by at least ten stones myself,” he says while shaking his head in disbelief.

“Well, it isn’t seemly for a lady to be heavy, Sandor,” she responds with a slight air of haughtiness at the idea that he thinks she should eat more to put on weight. “I rather like the size and shape of my body, thank you very much!” she indignantly responds. The way she has caught Sandor staring at her these last few days makes her realize that he too likes the way she looks.

He says after chuckling at her ruffled feathers, “I guess it wouldn’t be right if you were any heavier, else you would cease to be my Little Bird!” he amusingly rasps, adding emphasis on the ‘Little.’

Gasping in shock, Sansa reaches out and lightly slaps Sandor’s arm. “Sandor Clegane, you are just incorrigible!” she says through a laugh of her own.

“Aye, Little Bird; you should know that well enough by now.” 

“Yes, yes I do!” And I wouldn’t have you any other way, my love!

 

Now that Sansa is on his right side, she can only see his unmarred profile. She knows that Sandor would not be what is considered ‘classically handsome’ by society’s standards, even if he did not have extensive facial scars covering the entire left side of his face. His thick heavy brow bone and single black eyebrow, high defined cheekbones that makes him look just a bit gaunt, a strong square jaw, and a somewhat large nose that is slightly hooked—which honestly looks to have been broken a number of times over the years and never properly set by a maester—are in stark contrast to what would normally be considered attractive.

Over the last sennight, Sandor’s facial hair has grown out past the stage of mere stubble, as well. Sansa cannot remember him ever wearing a beard; in fact, it is hard to picture him wanting to wear one as it is only growing on the right side of his cheek, jaw, and throat. Mayhap he forgot to bring a razor? Sansa wonders, thinking that he could always use his dagger to shave with if he truly wanted to. She saw a Stark man shave that way once, so she knows it can be done.

Even though beards are the general preferred look of most Northmen, Sansa has grown rather fond of Sandor’s clean-shaven visage and his newly grown beard is seriously making her miss it. If we stay at the inn, I’ll offer him use of my own razer; I cannot wait to be able to shave under my arms and my legs, myself! The stubble is getting rather itchy.

Sansa has surprisingly noticed that there are a few areas within the craters and crevices of Sandor’s scars where some whiskers are actually managing to grow; though they appear to be irritating his scarred flesh and causing it to look enflamed and to even ooze a bit. It looks very painful. Mayhap he needs help shaving due to his scars…. Knowing his pride though, he probably wouldn’t let her help him, even though she would be more than happy to do so.

 

Sandor’s lips are not too full and when his mouth is closed there is a bit of a gap between his lips on the scarred side; there is also that small patch of bone that shows on the left edge of his jaw, as well. His obsidian black hair is straight and somewhat thin, nor does it grow on his left side where much of his scalp burned away, along with that side of his face.

Sandor always tries covering his scarred flesh by combing his thin black hair over the left side, making his hair appear even thinner than it really is. Also, this really only draws even more attention to his scars and therefore defeats his intended purpose. However, Sansa won’t ever mention that to him, though, as she knows how insecure he is of them. He tends to use his hair to hide behind, as if it were a shield, protecting him from ridicule; though she wishes he didn’t feel it necessary to do so.

Sansa knows that if she were his Lady Wife in truth, she would do all she could to soothe his self-consciousness by trying her best to convince him that his face and scars are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. If she truly had her way, she’d even pull his hair back and tie it at his nape, as is often worn by Northmen, ensuring that the eyes she so adores are not obstructed by the curtain of his security. I would make sure to hammer into his thick, hard head just how handsome he is to me. Every. Single. Day!

 

After donning her cloak and drawing her hood up, Sansa steals another glance at his profile. No. Sandor’s visage may not be in the same league as the charismatic Ser Jaime Lannister or the pretty Ser Loras Tyrell with their unquestionable good looks; but to Sansa, Sandor Clegane is truly beautiful.

Mayhap not in the way that Ser Loras Tyrell is, of course. Sansa secretly thinks that Ser Loras is far prettier, and even more feminine, than his lovely sister, Lady Margaery.

‘Feminine’ is definitely not something one could ever say about Sandor, though; he has far more masculinity radiating out of every pore of his body than any ten men, combined! This thought is one that speaks directly to Sansa in a primal, almost animalistic, way. It’s as if her body can sense the extreme masculine essence of Sandor and is begging and screaming its desire to be paired with him—much the same way animals do when choosing the healthiest, strongest members of their species to mate with.

 

 

After riding for a couple of hours in a comfortable, companionable silence, Sandor suddenly speaks up, waking Sansa from her fantasies. “We will be reaching the gates of Stoney Sept in about a half hour or so. I’m going to want you to stay safely hidden outside the wall, in the forest, while I scope the town out to make certain it is safe for you. Keep your cloak on, with the hood drawn up, at all times; in and out of the town,” he instructs.

“Now listen closely, Little Bird, this is important…. If for some reason I do not come back for you after no longer than one hour’s time, do not come into town to look for me; understand? Something may have happened to me if I do not come back for you. Should I fail to return, Sansa, I want you to travel Maiden west as fast she can run towards Deep Den. Do not stop riding west until she has worked up a lather and needs to rest in order to get you far away from whoever or whatever could have taken me out!

“Once you reach Deep Den, you could either send a raven to the Imp asking him to send his sellsword to you, or you could hire a sword of your own to help you continue north, or even to a port in the east and set sail to Essos should the need arise. You have plenty of coin for either option,” he says to Sansa, who is now staring at him with huge eyes and praying to every deity in the known world that Sandor will return safely to her side; right where he belongs!

Not trusting her voice all that much right now as she is getting rather nervous at how serious he sounds, she nods her understanding and promises to do exactly as he says. Should she have to follow through with his orders, though, she knows that Maiden will essentially be traveling west without her handling the reins, as her tears would most definitely render her blind.

 

Sansa suddenly reaches over and tightly grasps Sandor’s forearm making him look directly into her eyes. “You better come back to me, Sandor Clegane! I shall never forgive you if you go and get yourself killed; do you understand me?” Sansa orders with a raised brow and with as much authority as she has often heard her Lady Mother use when ordering the servants of Winterfell about. She is rather proud of her ability to keep her unshed tears from falling and the fear from making her voice tremble.

“Aye my Lady,” Sandor says with an amused smirk, despite his eyes showing a trace of surprise at her apparent emotional state and her insistence for him to return to her alive and unharmed. “Your dog will return to you, Little Bird; or die trying. Don’t plan to be leaving your service just yet, at any rate.” Well, I do not plan to ever let you leave me, non-Ser!

“Good. Now that we have that settled… what did I tell you about calling yourself a dog, Sandor?” Sansa asks with a look that could probably stop an unruly child in his tracks.

Sandor sighs, quietly chuckles, and shakes his head slightly. “Fine, Sansa… your Hound will return to you; that better?” he asks with that same sarcastic smirk Sansa has grown to cherish gracing the right side of his mouth that she yearns to kiss every single time it emerges.

With a sigh and a head shake of her own in feigned annoyance, Sansa replies “I suppose so; you may very well be my Hound, Sandor, but you are not a dog! Got it? I shall not allow you to degrade yourself in such a manner, any longer!”

Oh, my Gods! Did I actually just call Sandor ‘my Hound’ aloud? The look in Sandor’s eyes tell her that yes, she did just call him her Hound and that he most definitely heard her possessive slip of the tongue. However, Sansa sees the look of initial shock on his face suddenly changing to a look she sees more and more from him lately—a look of hope. As if Sandor wants to allow himself to believe that he really is hers, and as possibly more than just a shield, too. Mayhap there really is a potential future for us, after all…!

 

As much as Sansa wants to confess her feelings to him, she is just not quite ready yet. She wants to do this right. They should both be well rested, with full tummies, and feeling refreshed after a nice hot bath; in other words, Sansa wants the timing to be just right and the setting to be perfect!

Riding along some road side-by-side approaching a town, and the unknown fate that lies ahead there, is not that time and setting. She is afraid that should she tell Sandor that she loves him right this very minute—right as he is about to potentially head into danger—her admission could cause him to become distracted and thus ultimately put him at risk for injury or even death! No! This is why she must wait to reveal her feelings to him. Sansa will be keeping her wits about her and will tell him how she feels when the moment is right!

Mayhap tonight at the inn…?

 

“I have never stayed at an inn before,” Sansa says in order to change the subject and divert his attention away from her slip-up. She has always wanted to stay at an inn as the idea of it always seemed so exciting. When she, Arya and their Lord Father were traveling with the rest of the Stark, Baratheon, and Lannister parties towards King’s Landing, she typically stayed in the Stark tent erected for the three of them.

One night, though, Sansa was allowed to sleep in the royal wheelhouse with Queen Cersei, Tommen, and Myrcella, of which she was utterly excited about when the Queen initially made the offer. However, the Queen’s thinly veiled mockery and contempt quickly wore thin. So the following night when Queen Cersei offered to let her join them once again, Sansa politely declined saying that her Lord Father needed her to watch Arya. Which wasn’t entirely a lie seeing as how Arya did require constant supervision. Oh, Arya, I sure hope you are safe! I miss you, my wild baby sister.

“Inns aren’t anything to write home about, Little Bird. Remember, half of The Peach is also a whorehouse. Although the common room of the inn and the common room of the brothel are separated by a door, you will likely still see the occasional whore leading a patron to and from rooms.” I sure hope you aren’t planning on becoming one of these so-called ‘patrons!’ “I’ll be sure to take you in through the inn entrance, though. Have to preserve as much of those maidenly sensibilities of yours, as possible,” he teases, which warrants a raised eyebrow before a roll of the eyes from Sansa.

“I do believe a certain lion cub we are both acquainted with has wreaked havoc upon said ‘maidenly sensibilities’ during my years as his ‘honored guest;’ wouldn’t you agree, husband?” Sansa teases back with a smile. The strange look on Sandor’s face makes Sansa think he may have forgotten their ‘cover story’ already, even though she did briefly mention it while reaching for his hand this morning after they packed up camp and got back on the road.

Sighing, she asks “have you forgotten that we are to pretend to be a loving husband and wife in public, Sandor?”

“No, I haven’t forgotten,” he says as he also sighs. “Just thought you would have come to your damn senses before getting this far and realize no one will ever believe that far-fetched lie.”

“Well then, shall we make a wager on it? I say that no one will think it ‘far-fetched’ at all! Should I be correct, you must visit the next sept we come across, including the one in town should it be safe, and pray with me!” Sansa beams at Sandor, trying to suppress the fit of giggles wanting to escape her lips upon seeing the look of incredulity flooding his eyes, and just barely succeeding.

“And if you are correct, which you absolutely won’t be by the way… what shall I have to do?” she smugly asks.

With a mischievous glint in his eyes, Sandor darkly says “guess who will be skinning the next rabbit or squirrel I catch for our supper after we leave town? On her own!” Seeing Sansa pale from that mental image elicits a raucous bark of laughter from Sandor as she desperately tries to keep bile from rising in her stomach.

“Deal,” she finally says after she squares her shoulders, steels her nerves, and sets her features. “I shall even be so kind as to light the candles at each of the Gods altars for you, should you wish me to! Now, my dear husband… I see that the gates to town are within sight; where do you wish me to await your return?”

 

After directing Sansa to a clearing behind a small cluster of trees and boulders, Sandor reiterates his directions of avoiding the town and heading west should he not return within one hour’s time.

Please be careful Sandor. Come back to me,” she pleads as he is about to leave her. Nodding once in response, he quickly spurs Stranger forward towards the gates of Stoney Sept leaving Sansa with her prayers for his swift and safe return all the while she worriedly watches his retreating form fading from her view.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten – Soon… Very Soon

SANSA

Five hours.

 

That's how long Sandor has been gone.

 

Or, at least that’s how long it feels like. It's actually only been about fifteen minutes!

But that is fourteen minutes and fifty-nine seconds too long for him to be away from me! Sansa thinks, as she tries in vain to keep from worrying. She knows the importance of thinking positively, so she keeps telling herself over and over that Sandor will return to her side well before an hour has passed. Sandor is the best, strongest, most fearsome warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… surely no one is stupid enough to try and test themselves against the living embodiment of the Warrior!

 

Sansa decides that she should really be doing something more productive than just sitting here on Maiden’s back and praying to the Gods. So, to try and keep her mind off of the fact that Sandor absolutely must be returning to her within the next forty-five minutes, she rummages through one of her saddlebags and brings out the wedding gift she began a few moons ago for her brother and his future Queen.

About two moons before leaving King’s Landing, Sansa began embroidering the profile of an elaborately detailed Direwolf with skeins of silk thread, ribbons, sequins, and beadwork on a large square piece of white silk. The way she has been stitching the silken ribbons and threads, some of which are a shimmery metallic silver and pearlescent white, really brings lifelike qualities to the Direwolf.

The combination of both thread and ribbon has really started resembling fur. Topped with the way she has added beautiful golden sequins to the eye and rare dragonglass beading to the nose, of which she has Lord Tyrion to thank for gifting her, makes them glisten as if the creature could turn and look her in the eye at any moment.

Any time Sandor has them stop to rest—and if there is sufficient lighting to do so—she tries to work on it for a few minutes after eating and tending to her needs. She would like to have the gift completed, and hopefully even framed, by the time they make it to the Twins. Now that I know Sandor is so talented at working with wood, mayhap I can get him to make a frame for it; then this could be a wedding gift from the both of us! The thought of her and Sandor giving a wedding gift to her brother and his bride together, as if they really are a married couple, makes Sansa smile. And if by doing so helps Robb find it a bit easier to accept Sandor, all the better!

The Direwolf she has been embroidering has begun to look more and more like Lady with every loving stitch she adds. She did not intentionally set out to recreate Lady’s likeness; she merely wanted to make the Stark sigil as a way to welcome the future ‘Queen in the North’ to the Stark family and pack. Now though, she’d be untruthful if she says that she isn’t almost sad that she will be giving this to another person. Mayhap I can recreate one for myself once I am settled back with my family.

 

Craggy lichen-encrusted boulders nestled between sprawling trees, stand sentinel over her—their natural formed leafy bower adding an extra layer of protection from the burning rays of the sun for her pale complexion. Her white silk fabric is dappled by sunlight seeping through the lush treetop canopy as she begins adding stitches to her design.

Delicate melodious birdsongs complemented by percussion of chirruping crickets and crackling of breeze blown leaves, make for a rather enjoyable accompaniment to Sansa’s work. Briefly pausing her embroidery to fully take in the symphony surrounding her, she is alerted by the rustling of foliage along the edge of the underbrush in front of her signaling the start of a troupe of silly scurrying squirrels scavenging for nuts scattered about the forest floor.

Sansa watches with sheer delight as the bushy-tailed furry mummers are chirruping over their newly found forest edibles. Their increasing search for nuts to fill their winter stores disturb the leafy carpeting of the forest floor, causing a blended loamy scent of decaying branches, pine needles, and multitudes of various leaves to waft up towards her—the earthy smell of the forest’s floor creating a sap sweet perfume reminiscent of the Godswood of Winterfell. Both the sights and smells around her vie for her attention making her realize just how much she has missed such things during her miserable years in King’s Landing. She cannot wait to be back home.

 

Maiden seems completely undisturbed by the frolicking squirrels now giving chase around and around the trunk of a particular time chiseled tree towering above the others and looking to possibly be from the era of the First Men. Her sweet, gentle mare merely continues her snack of the various flora within her immediate reach not giving a care to much else around her. When the squirrels dart into a knothole hidden behind tendrils of wispy moss, Sansa resumes her needlework, having enjoyed the brief reprieve.   

 

Both her embroidery work and the show put on by the squirrels has done such a good job at distracting her that she nearly misses the snapping of twigs nearby and the heavy sounds of horse hooves padding her direction. Sansa quickly sticks her needle into the cloth, sets her embroidery in her lap, and quietly reaches through the two slits in her skirt and shift to rest her hand on the hilt of her dagger, just in case the approaching horse is not Stranger and Sandor.

 

“Little Bird?” she hears Sandor raspingly call out from the other side of her forested fortress. Oh, thank you, Gods! He came back! He’s safe!

 

“Sandor!” she excitedly chirps aloud in what could probably be called a joyful shout. She releases her dagger hilt, shoves her embroidery back into her saddlebag, not even caring if she breaks her wooden embroidery hoop, grabs her reins, and quickly urges Maiden towards him.

“Thank the Gods you came back, Sandor; I was so worried! You didn’t have to fight, or anything, did you? You are alright, aren’t you?” she frantically and worriedly chirps out all the while trying to look him over from head to toe for any possible injuries as best as she can considering he is still on Stranger’s back. The least he could have done was dismount Stranger so I could check him over a bit easier!

“Aye Little Bird; I am fine… completely unharmed and my blade is free of blood! No need to worry, Sansa; promised you I’d be back, didn’t I?” he laughingly rasps out, clearly amused at all of her worrying.

“I know you did, Sandor, but I still worry about you. You don’t seem to worry about yourself very much so someone has to worry about you, you big brute!” she responds with a shy smile at admitting how she tends to worry and fuss over him so. She cannot be certain, but it almost looks as if her admission has caused Sandor to slightly blush a bit. She realizes that the poor man probably hasn’t had a woman worry about him since before his sister was killed. Well, he better get used to it!

Apparently unsure how to respond to what she’s just said, Sandor clears his throat and instead tells her that the town looks safe. “I stopped by the sept for you, too. The Septon travels between five different towns and has not made his rounds back to Stoney Sept yet, but you can still pray at the altars.” ‘We’ can still pray at the altars you mean, because I am going to win our little wager!

“There appears to be rooms available at the inn since travel is still low; what, with the war and all. The general store is still standing and in business, as well, so I’ll leave you in the room and go there tomorrow. If there’s anything specific you want or need though, you’ll have to let me know.” With all that said, Sandor leads him and Sansa towards the gates of town. “Keep that hood of yours up and if possible let me do most of the talking.”

“Yes, darling husband,” Sansa smiles at him as she and Maiden fall into place next to Sandor and Stranger. Sandor merely huffs under his breath and rolls his eyes.

 

Seeing the tall grey stone wall and gatehouse that enclose Stoney Sept nearing, Sansa can hardly contain her curious excitement at finally seeing another town. She has never traveled anywhere aside from a few trips to Winter Town with her family as a young girl. Aside from that, though, King’s Landing is the only other place she has ever been.

One difference she notices right away before they even enter the town, aside from the sheer size of Stoney Sept, of course, is how you cannot smell the stench of sewage like you can an entire league out from King’s Landing. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Stoney Sept is particularly clean, however; it’s just obviously not nearly as filthy as King’s Landing!

As they pass through the gatehouse, Sansa cannot contain the smile at seeing how quaint the town actually is. Its citizens are hurrying about their evening routines before settling into their homes for the night, and the numerous shops that are still open line the cobblestoned main road through the town. There is a fairly decent sized market square with quite a number of carts and stalls selling any and everything a merchant can possibly get their hands on.

Noticing Sansa and Sandor, many of the merchants are beginning their well-practiced sales pitches, trying to lure the potential customers over to their stalls to check out their wares. If it were not too risky of someone figuring out who they are, she would love the opportunity to browse some of them; especially the one she notices selling sewing notions and fabrics of varying patterns and colors.

Seeing that the inn is right off the left side of the market square confuses Sansa, as Sandor seems to be leading her right past it. “Sandor, isn’t this the inn?” she asks as they pass the freestanding two-story stone and half-timber constructed building with white wattle and daub walls constructing the second floor, and with a weatherworn wooden sign displaying a large peach with a bite taken out of it.

“Aye, but the town’s stables are in the northernmost side of town, along the wall,” he says as he reaches for her reins and protectively leads Maiden a bit closer to him and Stranger. Everything in this town looks so romantic; just like it came right out of a song! Sansa muses as she lets her smile widen while fully taking in the storybook scenery.

 

“There’s the sept, Little Bird; right down the road here,” Sandor says while pointing towards a grey river stone building with a roof consisting of seven wooden gables sitting upon a small hill next to what looks like a fairly large Keep. “I can take you tomorrow, if you’d like.”

“That would be perfect, thank you.”

 

Entering the town’s dimly-lit musty, malodourous stables, Sandor dismounts Stranger and calls out for one of the stable boys to meet them for instructions on caring for their horses.

“Listen boy; unless you want to lose body parts, don’t come near my courser. You can tend to the palfrey mare here and set up a stall for mine; however, I’ll come back in about half an hour or so to tend to my mount after I get my lady settled in a room at The Peach; got it?” he says to a young scraggly looking blue-eyed lad with a mop of unkempt russet brown hair, wearing a threadbare flax tunic, and patch covered brown woolen breeches he has clearly grown too tall for.

The wide-eyed look on the boy’s dirt-smeared freckled face—and the fact that he cannot seem to look Sandor in the eye—shows that he is quite obviously scared of his scars. “We’ve been traveling for the last sennight so you be sure to give her extra care. There’s a Stag in it for you if you do as you’re bid!” 

“Aye milord,” the stable boy squeaks out, furiously nodding his head. He quickly scurries off to prepare two stalls with fresh feed and water, obviously hoping to earn that mentioned coin.

“I’m not a lord!” Sandor predictably shouts at the boy’s back, making Sansa smile, as he walks over to help her dismount Maiden.

“He probably would have been just as excited with a Copper,” Sansa says as he gently sets her on her feet.

“Aye, mayhaps your right… but the scrawny pup looked like he could use it,” he replies as he heads back towards Stranger. “No telling how much he actually earns here; supporting his mother and siblings, most like.” He sure can be the most chivalrous of non-Ser’s and the noblest of non-Lord’s when he has a mind to be!

 

“We’ll need to take our saddlebags with us,” Sandor says to her as he begins collecting his from his mount.

As Sansa removes hers from her own saddle and starts draping them over her shoulder, Sandor walks over and promptly takes them from her, ignoring her insistence that she can manage. With his and her saddlebags draped over both of his shoulders, and him carrying the last two in his left hand, he turns to head out of the stables and back towards the direction of the inn.

 

Watching his retreating form for a few heartbeats, Sansa cannot help but enjoy the way his dark brown leather breeches snuggly caress his taut muscular bottom; she is sincerely thankful that his tan colored tunic is not hiding such a beautiful work of art from her view. It is quite alarming to her, though, of how strongly she feels the desire to reach out to him and smooth her hand over his bottom; to even cup it in both of her hands while giving him a firm squeeze, making her blush hotly at the thought.

That very same beautiful backside, she has noticed, seems to have gotten a bit fuller, and she thinks mayhap even firmer, considering the particular muscles making up that part of his body are being used so much more frequently due to their long hours on horseback. The same thing can be said about his strong, muscular thighs, that Sansa swears feel as though they are thicker. She believes she can actually notice the change in their musculature just from sharing his saddle, seeing as how the backs of her own thighs very nearly rest atop his, as if she were sitting in his lap.

As sculpted as Sandor’s body looks to be fully encased in way too many articles of clothing, she can only imagine the feast for the eyes his nude form must be. Gods be good, Sansa… you have got stop objectifying the poor man! Beautiful as he is, there is just so much more to Sandor than a gorgeous physique, she admonishes herself while her eyes betray her in order to steal another glance at such a marvelous specimen of masculinity. Good work, Gods…!   

 

Quickly rushing to catch up with him, Sansa reaches out and takes Sandor’s right hand in hers which causes him to suddenly flinch in surprise, stop dead in his tracks, and look at her with his single brow deeply furrowed. Oh, Gods, I guess I went too far this time, she thinks as she immediately let's go of his hand.

Sansa cannot help feeling embarrassed after seeing Sandor’s reaction to her reaching for his hand. She saw her parents walk hand-in-hand together numerous times while growing up; she thought that if she did the same with Sandor, then their cover story would seem even more believable. However, all she managed to do was make Sandor look at her as if she had two heads.

 

Continuing towards the inn ahead of him, Sandor finally begins to trail along after her. His long legs have him catching up with her in just a couple of strides.

Sansa is only ten or so steps in front of him when Sandor is suddenly next to her and takes her hand in his. Even though his expression is unreadable, she still cannot fight back the smile, nor how her heart has just skipped a beat, as he laces his fingers between hers, and gently squeezes her hand.

So, mayhap I just surprised him, is all? Sansa wonders while enjoying the feeling of his warm calloused palm kissing the flawless skin of her own, and realizing just how well his large fingers seem to fit so perfectly between her own. Sansa cannot help but relish how safe she feels like this—like no harm can befall her—so long as Sandor Clegane is holding her delicate little hand in his strong, steady grip.

 

Passing many small wooden and stone houses—the sizes making many of them look like nothing more than hovels—Sansa smiles and waves back to one woman who has waved and smiled at the two of them while she hangs her family’s laundry out to dry on a clothesline.

Suddenly, Sandor stops Sansa just in time to avoid colliding with a young freckle faced boy chasing a black and white puppy as they cut right in front of them while running across the dirt road. The infectious laughter of the energetic boy, and playful yipping barks of his rambunctious flop-eared pup, make Sansa smile sadly as the scene before her brings back bittersweet memories of when she first received her beloved Lady.

 

After walking for what feels like several leagues, they have finally made it back to the cobblestone plaza of the market square. Walking directly towards the inn, Sansa finds it difficult to ignore the sing-song chorus of merchants vying for their gold; how Sandor can tune them out, she does not know. Years of practice remaining invisible behind Joffrey, I guess.

 

Leading her through the door of the inn side of The Peach, Sansa realizes that it is probably a good thing Sandor has ahold of her hand, as the overwhelming cloying aroma of incense is strong enough to nearly knock her down! Gods, do all inns smell so strongly of the flowery and spicy scents of jasmine, patchouli, sandalwood, and musk I detect; or is it just because The Peach is also a brothel?

Making their way towards a long wooden bar towards the left of the door, Sansa’s eyes finally adjust from leaving the bright evening sun and entering the darker inn; although the assault on her olfactory senses has not lessened in the least.

Looking around the half-timber and white plaster constructed room, she sees that it is illuminated by various candles strewn about the heavy wooden trestle tables. Oil lanterns and large wagon wheels that have been converted into rustic chandeliers are hanging from huge timber beams connected to equally large timber columns supporting the upper floor. The wattle and daub walls are decorated with mounted heads and pelts of various small animals; many of which look quite old and worn.

There seem to be only five men this side of the inn and they are each sitting at different tables; two at fairly small round tables and three at larger rectangular trestle tables. A few of the men even seem to be conversing with one another, as well—despite having to speak loud enough to cover the distances between them—all the while eating and nursing flagons of either wine or ale.

Suddenly, Sansa finds herself blushing wildly as her jaw nearly hits the wooden planked floor upon discovering that one of the men not conversing with the others has his mouth right there on the breast of a whore who is laughing and wiggling in his lap! Oh, Gods! It looks like he is trying to actually suckle from her nipple! Do men like to do that sort of thing? If they do… why?

Sandor’s own eyes follow her trail of vision. Upon noticing what has caused Sansa’s shocked gasp and immense blushing, he chuckles at her embarrassment as she quickly looks away to give the two some privacy—even though they are right out in the open where anyone can see them!

Does Sandor like to do that sort of thing? Sansa curiously wonders as she tries to reel her gaped jaw back into place. She begins to feel her own nipples stiffening and becoming rather sensitive at her curiosity of whether or not Sandor likes to do that same act, and not at all understanding why. Sansa knows that you feed babes by having them suckle at a mother’s breast, but she has no idea why a grown man would want do something similar. She is fairly certain, though, that the man she just saw is not actually seeking out nourishment!

 

It doesn’t take very long for someone to finally meet them at the bar and Sansa is surprised by the rather garish appearances of the robust buxom, hazel-eyed woman with, quite obviously, dyed vermilion colored red hair. There is no way that is a naturally occurring red!

She’s wearing an inappropriately tight sable and moss colored silk corseted gown with a rather deep plunging neckline. Her gown is so low that her nipples are nearly showing, Sansa shockingly realizes upon noticing the rosy colored semi-circular areas of the woman’s areolae peeking out from the much too low neckline of her gown.

When Sandor lets go of Sansa’s hand in order to grab his money pouch from his sword belt, she reaches her hand up to the crook of his elbow and possessively clasps it. She is not wanting to let go of him in such a place as this, lest any woman set their sights on what is hers!

 

“As I live an’ breathe; was wonderin’ if’n I’d ever see tha likes of you back ‘ere! So… what’s it been, ‘ound; six or seven years since you an’ good ol’ Fat Bob came by to play with me girls?”

Gasping at what the woman has just said, Sansa cannot help but feel extremely jealous all of a sudden. She knows she shouldn’t—she has no right to as she didn’t even know Sandor during that time. However, Sansa still feels her eyes prickling and slightly burning with the threat of unshed tears while her racing mind is chock-full of images of her Sandor knee deep in whores!

Her gasp obviously gets the woman’s attention as she turns slightly to look at Sansa with a warm, yet snaggletooth smile, before turning back to address Sandor with a knowing smirk. “Well what do we ‘ave ‘ere then? Seems the ‘ound’s gone an’ gotten ‘imself married, ‘as ‘e? Oh, an’ such a pretty young bride ya got there on yer arm, as well.”

Sansa cannot stop herself from looking up to Sandor and flashing him one of her most innocent looking ‘I told you so!’ smiles. They only stare at each other when their eyes meet before he gives her a nearly imperceptible little smirk and slightly shakes his head a bit before he’s finally sighing in defeat!

Yes! I won our wager! I knew I would win… we must obviously look like a married couple! Sansa quite proudly muses, glad that someone automatically assumes they are married instead of having to mention it themselves.

“Aye, she sure is,” Sandor replies while still looking into Sansa’s eyes. Sandor just told another person that he thinks I’m pretty; while actually looking at me! Sansa happily thinks to herself as she blushes at his compliment.

“We’re going to need a room for two nights, with meals, and my wife would like a hot bath,” he says to the innkeep after turning back and tossing three Gold Dragons on the bar to the woman.

“Of course milord,” she replies as she collects the coins and transfers them to a metal coffer. “Helly, dear, prepare tha large room for our guests ‘ere an’ ‘eat up some water. The ‘ound’s wife would like a bath.”

“Aye, Tansy,” a thin young flaxen haired girl says as she hurries up the stairs to prepare their room and Sansa’s bath.

“I’m puttin’ you two in our best room; it’s got a nice extra-large feather bed,” she says with a smirk and a wink that suggests she suspects they will be using the bed for much more than just sleeping, causing Sansa to blush at the thought.

“Please milord, milady, go an’ take a seat an’ I’ll ‘ave one of tha kitchen girls bring ya a couple bowls of venison stew an’ some freshly baked bread!” Tansy says to them which immediately sets Sansa’s mouth to begin watering at the thought of getting to eat something besides dried salted meats, stale moldy bread, squirrels, and rabbits.

Sandor looks questioningly at Tansy before asking “venison? Only High Lords can hunt wild game; won’t you get reprimanded for poaching?”

“Oh, aye, milord. Venison ain’t normally somethin’ we smallfolk can get, but tha Lords in tha area issued a decree lettin’ tha menfolk do a bit of huntin’ as tha ‘erds of deer were gettin’ too large, ya see… and tha Lords, well they said that they needed to be thinned out a bit. A couple of the tanner’s lads brought us by four deer an’ sold ‘em to me for tha fair price of five Coppers, an’ a tumble each with a couple of me girls!” Tansy says with a wink to add emphasis on what she actually meant. Sansa figured as much already though, with the place being a brothel.

“So, you two came by just in time to enjoy a right rare treat!” she says with a proud infectious smile.

Seeing Tansy so proud and pleased has Sansa smiling along with her as she knows how welcomed this decree probably was to the smallfolk of Stoney Sept. During wartime, it’s generally the smallfolk who suffer most, after all. The Lords are usually safely removed from experiencing the famine war brings due to their stores of food being securely locked away behind guarded walled keeps. Sansa knows first-hand just how desperate smallfolk often become whenever left to suffer from starvation, making her internally shudder at her remembrance of the Bread Riots.

Sandor seems satisfied with Tansy’s explanation and merely grunts an acknowledgement. So I guess we’ll be eating venison these next two days!

“Does milord still like ‘is Dornish Red?”

“Aye, and some Arbor Gold for my Lit--wife, if you got it.”

“Right away, milord,” she replies while heading towards the kitchen. Sandor escorts Sansa to a table way in the back dark corner of the room away from prying eyes and places their saddlebags beneath the table near their feet.

Sansa did not miss, however, the licentious gawking a couple of the conversing men gave her as they walked past. Nor did she miss the extremely threatening sneer coming from Sandor that promptly had both men looking elsewhere with a frightened look settling in their eyes.

 

As soon as they sit down on the long wooden bench at the rectangular trestle table, a young blue-eyed girl with pretty sorrel colored hair—who looks surprisingly like the stable boy—approaches them carrying a large wooden tray overflowing with two bowls of piping hot delicious smelling venison stew, a loaf of bread with a small bowl of butter to share, and two goblets and flagons of wine.

“Here you go milord, milady; is there anythin’ else I can get for ya?” she asks, more so to Sansa than to Sandor, of course. The young girl sets their food and wine down in front of them before reaching into the pocket of her pinafore for two spoons and a couple of cloth napkins.

“Nah, that’ll be all,” Sandor rasps out for the both of them as Sansa pours both him and herself each a goblet of wine. As soon as the girl places their spoons and napkins on the table, she quickly scurries back to the kitchen allowing them to eat in peace.

 

Blowing on a spoonful of the steaming stew to cool it a bit, Sansa cannot contain the rather loud sigh of contentment as she takes her first bite and the heavenly flavors caress her tongue. The blended flavors of the delectable warm broth, chunks of tender venison, green beans, baby carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, finely chopped celery, pearl onions… all deliciously seasoned with minced garlic, salt, thyme, and black pepper, nearly have her in a blissful stupor from the surprisingly sophisticated medley courting her palate. It’s almost as if the stew is begging her to take bite after bite of which she voraciously complies, without hesitation.

“Like it Little Bird?” Sandor asks through a chuckle at her as he takes a bite of his own meal and practically moans like a wanton kitchen wench, himself.

“Gods yes; it is so good!” she quietly responds while breaking off a piece of flaky white bread and sopping up some of the broth. “You sound to be enjoying it, as well!” she teases as she pops the broth laden bread into her mouth, not even caring how unladylike she must be looking.

“Aye, sure am. Your dog is apparently more hog today,” he jests causing her to do a not-so-ladylike giggle-snort as she had just taken a sip of her wine. He obviously finds this amusing enough to laugh at her, all the while gently patting her back until she is no longer trying to choke and cough herself into an early grave.

 

As her nose stops burning from the wine that attempted to humiliatingly spray out of it, all the while continuing to quietly eat for a few minutes, Sansa notices that Sandor has already cleaned his bowl so thoroughly that it does not look like it ever contained any food, at all!

“Would you like a second serving, Sandor?” He is such a large man and we have been rationing our small amount of food…. Oh, my poor love; you simply must be so much hungrier than you let on to me, Sandor, Sansa worries, wanting him to eat his fill now, while he can, to ensure his health and strength—especially in case they run into any trouble requiring him to fight! A man of his massive muscular build needs so much more sustenance than they’ve been eating to remain healthy, after all.

“Was thinking about it….”

Before he can say or do anything further though, Sansa promptly gets up from her perch next to him and picks his bowl up. “Sit down, Little Bird; I can get my own food.”

“I know you can, Sandor, but I am your wife; so let me take care of you!” she firmly orders with her brow slightly raised as she makes her way towards the kitchen before he can protest any further.

His ‘wife…’ definitely love the way that sounds! Now, to make it a reality. Think, Sansa… think, she silently plots, trying come up with some sort of tactical battle plan to tear down the stone wall Sandor has surrounding his heart.

If only I had a trebuchet… she silently jests to herself, knowing good and well that she fully intends to besiege that fortress surrounding Sandor’s heart until he finally, fully, surrenders it to her. She has fully surrendered her heart to him, after all—Sansa feels it only right that Sandor should replace her stolen heart with his own!

That stone wall surrounding Sandor’s heart is precisely why she has need to pray to the Warrior tomorrow, as well as to the Mother, Maiden, and Crone. She is hopeful that by praying to the Warrior, He may could help her out with her very own warrior!

 

Not taking but a few moments for one of the serving girls to notice Sansa and the empty bowl in her hand, she takes it from her and immediately refills it. Sansa thanks the young girl as she takes the steaming bowl of stew and another loaf of bread from her, and heads back to Sandor. However, as soon as Sansa turns around, the petrifying nightmare before her has her stopping dead in her tracks!

Gasping in devastating disbelief, Sansa tries desperately to keep from dropping and spilling Sandor’s meal all over the wooden floor. While fighting back her freshly welled up tears, Sansa watches with pure unadulterated heartbreak constricting her chest—making her struggle to even breathe—as she sees a whore sitting in Sandor’s lap, lavishing him with attention!

Sh-she’s flirting with him….

The very notion of Sandor wanting the company of some whore tonight completely shatters Sansa’s heart into an infinite number of pieces. He made me believe he wouldn’t be seeking out the company of a whore, she thinks, remembering their conversation a few days ago after him mentioning the possibility of staying here at The Peach.

Oh, Gods… no! Please no…, Sansa silently pleads to him from afar. Di-did I push you to this, Sandor? To… to make you want… or… or to mayhap even need some other woman’s embrace? Sansa anxiously wonders, worrying if her intentional increase in attention towards him these last few days could have ultimately led to this.

Sansa cannot help but fear, now, if mayhap she is to blame for possibly making Sandor want to be with some whore. Especially considering how he cannot sate certain needs and desires with her; even if she is the cause of them. She is pretty sure that Sandor has been tending to those needs, himself, whenever necessary while they have been on the run together.

However, now that there is a willing woman available, Sansa is terrified that Sandor will decide to spend his night with some whore, instead, while she is left alone in their room, desperately trying not to think about the man she loves making love to someone else! The thought of that, alone, has her stomach rolling, threatening to make her violently retch.

Sansa has heard of the reputation Sandor has regarding whoring, of course. She knows that back in King’s Landing, whenever he was not on duty, he could oftentimes be found in either a winesink or a brothel; just the same as countless other men. However, she tries in vain to keep from picturing him engaging in such a nightmarish activity now.

Unfortunately, though, her mind just insists on flashing her glimpses of things she would rather not see, making her unsure of which imagined scenario is the most horrifyingly painful for her to visualize—this whore getting to discover the taste of his kisses and the warmth of his strong embrace? Or Sandor intimately touching and caressing this whore in such secretly forbidden places, and giving her the same smiles that he’s only ever shown Sansa before? While both images hurt her quite badly, one thing is for certain; it should be me in that whore’s stead, damn it—I’m the one who loves him!

 

After being unable to move, nor even blink, for what feels like an eternity, Sansa suddenly realizes—as relief washes completely over her—that Sandor is actually trying to rebuff the advances of this whore, but to no avail. This whore just doesn’t seem to want to take ‘no’ for an answer!

Well we shall just see about that! Sansa thinks as she storms back over to Sandor, her ire growing with every single step she takes and her heartache replacing itself with fury.

 

Making it back to Sandor, she silently sets his bowl of stew and bread down in front of him before tightly gripping the whores’ wrist and roughly yanking the woman right out of his lap!

The whore yelps in surprise and stumbles once Sansa has let go of her, nearly causing her to bust her bottom on the ground. Sansa nearly misses the extremely surprised look plastered to Sandor’s face as she addresses the woman, all the while struggling to keep her inner wolf from going for the whores’ throat!

“Would you care to tell me just what the hells you think you are doing with my husband?” Sansa angrily spits out at her. “I do believe he was trying to tell you that he is not interested in your ‘services;’ so go whore yourself to some other man to earn your damn coin!” Sansa is so furious that she cannot even calm down enough to feel shocked about cursing.

“I… I’m so, so s-sorry milady; I dinna realize milord w-was spoken for,” she responds. “But… but, now that I kn-know, mayhap milady could use a… a rest tonight? Mayhap milady would like to let m-me ensure milord is well ple-pleasured so milady can sleep?” the whore brazenly stammers out.

Nothing can stop Sansa from narrowing her eyes at the audacity of this woman. If looks could kill, this whore would be feeding worms right about now. How dare she think that I would not want to be with my own husband! Or believe that I would ever even think about sharing him! This whore cannot even bear to look at Sandor’s face, Sansa realizes, thinking that Sandor deserves so much more than the attentions of some filthy, cheap whore who looks absolutely disgusted with the notion of ‘pleasuring’ him.

“He is mine and I do not share!” Sansa vehemently states through gritted teeth as she quite possessively wraps her left arm tightly around Sandor; her left hand gripping his shoulder tight enough to whiten her knuckles. Sansa’s right hand slips unnoticed through the hidden openings of her skirts to rest on the hilt of her dagger; just in case this whore really does have an early death wish! Somehow I bet Shae would be rather proud of me right about now, even if poor Septa Mordane is doing somersaults in her grave!

Sansa does not miss the near imperceptible look of sheer relief in the whore’s eyes, despite her trying in vain to hide it. She is secretly thrilled that Sansa refused her ‘offer’ to pleasure Sandor on her behalf, even though the whore could probably really use the coin.

The thought that this vile, hideous whore is so disgusted by Sandor’s scars only manages to add oil to the fire feeding Sansa’s fury. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Sandor’s face; for Gods’ sake, it is just skin, after all! Sansa knows that the whore hasn’t really done anything worse than give Sandor the exact same reaction to his face that everyone else always seems to do; including herself, even, when she was younger.

Despite Sansa having looked upon Sandor’s face with disgust herself at one time, she still cannot help but think that this whore’s doing the same thing as being much worse. After all, Sansa was only a child of three and ten when she first met him; plus, Sandor did tend to go out of his way to frighten her, as well.

This whore, though, is not only a grown woman, but is one who gets paid to bed any, and all kinds, of men! Sansa refuses to believe that every single man who comes to The Peach to partake in the peddling of flesh shares the uncommonly good looks of Ser Jaime Lannister!

Ignore her disgusted look, Sandor. You are absolutely beautiful to me, my love, Sansa thinks as she looks down into Sandor’s stunning silver eyes. Silver eyes that happen to be shining with a mixture of humiliation, confusion, and even a bit of amusement.

Pulling him into her side a bit firmer, Sansa silently tries to communicate her thoughts to him, hoping to be able to verbally tell him of her feelings one day. It is getting harder and harder to keep her love for him bottled up inside; she just needs the right time to tell him how much she loves him to present itself to her… and hopefully sooner rather than later!

 

Tansy suddenly reemerges from the brothel side of The Peach and, thankfully, intervenes upon seeing the confrontation before her. “Leslyn! Get yer arse back over to tha other side where ya belong, an’ leave ‘em be! Tha ‘ound is married now; if anyone is gonna be pleasurin’ ‘im tonight it’ll be ’is wife! The li’l lass seems quite capable of handlin’ tha task an’ more than ‘appy to do so,” Tansy firmly states, causing both Sansa and Sandor to blush wildly at the insinuation, despite Sansa’s increased wrathful state.

 

Sansa blushes even deeper, though, at the realization that she is still possessively holding Sandor firmly against her side, before reluctantly letting him go. However, she also notices a slight shudder course through him as she slowly sweeps her hand across his broad muscular back, enjoying mapping out the vast expanse of pure raw strength, before her arm is back at her side.

As Leslyn finally scurries off, Sansa wishes she could have taken up the residence from where she had just forcefully evicted the whore. Since she cannot do that, though, Sansa sits back down next to Sandor and quietly resumes eating her now room temperature meal, all the while working on calming her roiling emotions.

 

Sensing Sandor staring at her after a few moments, she looks over and sees that his good brow is raised and his mouth agape. Apparently, he is quite surprised and shocked, still, by Sansa’s rather public, and rather angry, jealous outburst.

“What?” she innocently asks as if she did not just sling her Ladyship and Princess titles right out of the window, and into a compost heap.

He does not respond… only continues to disbelievingly stare at her. Since she is feeling rather emboldened right now, and wondering if this is what it feels like when a man’s ‘bloodlust’ is elevated, she impishly says “you know Sandor, I have it on great authority that some species of Little Birds are quite possessive of their Hounds!”

Surprise fills his eyes before the slightest trace of a smile graces the right side of his mouth, “oh, is that so? Tell me, then… what ‘species’ of Little Bird would that be?” he asks as the slight smile turns into his full on characteristic smirk.

Coyly smiling back at him, Sansa playfully replies “why the Redheaded Northern Songbird, of course!” allowing them both to get a good laugh out of the incident with the stupid, pushy whore.

 

After they both finally finish their meal, young Helly hurries down the stairs to inform them that their room and Sansa’s bath are ready. “’Tis the last room on the right; milord, milady.”

Nodding at the girl, Sandor collects their saddlebags and leads Sansa towards her much wanted bath. Reaching the stairwell, Sandor stops and allows Sansa to head up first with him protectively trailing behind, just like the chivalrous knight he so often claims he’s not.

 

When they make it to their room, Sansa cannot help but smile upon seeing the large wooden tub full of steaming water. She hurries over while removing and tossing her cloak to the large oak four-poster bed in order to feel the warmth of the water with her hand.

Sandor chuckles at her as he sets their saddlebags against the wall, opposite the door. “The Little Bird might want to wait until I leave the room before she starts to preen those pretty feathers of hers,” he teases with a smirk, causing Sansa to blush in embarrassment at her haste.

“Alright Little Bird, come bar the door after I leave; don’t open it for anyone but me. I’ll be back in about an hour or so.”

“Of course, Sandor; only you,” she says as she makes her way back to the door, barring it as he instructed once he goes to tend Stranger.

 

Sansa quickly reaches her saddlebags and retrieves clean smallclothes, the linen sleeping shift she has yet been able to wear, and her razor. She hurries to undress and removes the Gold Dragons from Sandor and heirloom jewelry out of her gown’s pockets before removing her dagger sheath from her thigh. She places her unsheathed dagger and her razor on the small table on the right side of the tub, and the retrieved items from her gown on the small desk near the only small window in the room, where Sandor left their things.

 

Oh, how lovely! They even have hair wash preparations so I can thoroughly cleanse my hair, Sansa approvingly thinks after noticing that the inn has provided several variations of scented oils, washes, and soaps for her bath. Is bathing a man a ‘service’ typically offered by whores? she wonders, considering they have provided so many options.

Sansa suddenly blushes deeply at the remembrance of what she said to Sandor yesterday evening while they were making camp. She told him that, should he again call himself a dog, she would have to start treating him as such; even going so far as to threaten to ‘give her dog his bath!’ She wonders how that may have sounded to him coming from her, now; especially if that really is a typically offered ‘service’ after all!

However, Sansa would be lying if she tries to deny that the thought of following through on her ‘threat’ has not crossed her mind since making that ultimatum. Just the notion of doing such a thing makes her body start responding with those unusual sensations she tends to get anytime she improperly fantasizes about him.

Merely thinking of being allowed free reign to rub her hands all along the hard planes and muscular ripples of his massive body, lovingly memorizing every mark, scar, bulge, and crevice, is causing her woman’s place to get all tingly and become quite wet. She also begins to occasionally feel that strangely pleasant throbbing sensation she’s previously experienced deep within her nether regions, as well.

Hmm… well, Sandor did call himself a dog again… quite a few times, in fact! She wonders if she would have the courage to actually follow through with such a thing.

If Sansa is truly honest with herself then she’d admit to having all sorts of highly improper thoughts and fantasies about him; and long before the two of them ever left King’s Landing, as well. Ever since she flowered and became a woman, it’s like her mind often wanders off on its own to wonder what it would be like to kiss and snuggle up close to him; both of them wrapping each other up in their arms and never wanting to let the other go.

On more than one occasion she has even dreamt of Sandor. Many times these dreams are of him carrying her to their marriage bed after marrying in a wedding ceremony put on by her family, and with him asking her to ‘sing’ for him which always confuses her. Why Sandor would want to hear me sing ‘Florian and Jonquil,’ or something similar, in our marriage bed—and on our wedding night no less—completely baffles me, she humorously wonders, knowing how much disdain he has for the song. ‘A fool and his cunt,’ she remembers him once saying about it and remembering how his saying such a word with such casual ease disturbed her so.

Sandor has teased Sansa about singing for him so many times, so it only seems natural that she would dream of such a thing; especially seeing as how dreams often rarely make sense. She would be lying though if she tries to say that most of her dreams of him were not enjoyable; even if she did often wake up breathless, practically drowning in sweat, and feeling things she is still trying to understand.

 

While removing her hair-fork from her hair, allowing her copper locks to tumble down her back, Sansa cannot stop the smile spreading across her face. She cradles her cherished gift in her hand, and gazes adoringly at it while lovingly remembering every single detail about Sandor gifting it to her. I cannot believe he made such a precious gift for me!

Not only did he actually know, and remember, when her nameday is, but he must have spent quite a bit of time and thought working on this…. Would Sandor actually do such a thing if he didn’t love me? Sansa wonders. She finds it hard to imagine him doing such a thing for just any woman; she just hopes that whatever feelings he may have for her, match her feelings for him.

 

When she lifted the hair-fork from the palm of his hand—and felt that strange jolt she’s experienced other times they’ve touched—Sansa could not help but smile at Sandor’s endearingly awkward nervousness as he asked if she ‘liked’ her gift. He was absolutely adorable! Bless his heart; his voice even cracked a bit, making him blush in embarrassment.

Sansa also could not contain her giddiness at seeing Sandor’s reaction when he asked if she liked the actual figures he carved. A ‘direwolf…’ seriously Sandor? The look on Sandor’s face was absolutely precious when she told him that the Little Bird belongs to the Hound, not a Direwolf. My silly, sweet Hound…. His eyes got comically wide and she saw a rather deep blush crawl up his neck and across his cheeks, even making his scarred cheek rather red, when he asked her if she was meaning that she was his Little Bird.

The smile he gave her when she quite shyly and nervously confirmed that she is indeed his Little Bird was enough to make her heart melt into a goopy puddle and therefore completely forgetting all about her shyness! I will always be your Little Bird, my love… and you will always be my Hound… she thinks with a smile knowing how she is a Little Bird on a mission to make that happen. I guess now I am a ‘warrior’ on my own campaign, of sorts!

 

I got to hold him, she happily thinks, remembering just how incredibly right it felt when she tightly wrapped her arms around him, drawing him near to her. This time felt even better than the first time I got to hold him, too; which felt amazing then. Sansa cannot help but feel like Sandor fits wrapped up in her arms as if he were sculpted by the Gods to perfectly fit there. She relished the way it felt when he finally wrapped his strong arms around her in return, essentially pulling her even closer and deliciously tighter against him. I got to kiss his cheek, too!

Sansa wishes now that she had kissed his scarred cheek, instead; just to show him how much she loves and cherishes both sides of his face. But being able to finally kiss any part of his handsome face was enough for her… at least for now, that is!

She actually nearly giggled, though, at how his week-long beard tickled her lips and cheek after kissing and pressing her left one against his right. When she felt him pulling her even tighter into him yet again, after that kiss, she couldn’t stop herself from doing the same to him had she even wanted to! She didn’t, of course.

She also couldn’t stop the rather wanton sounding moan that Sandor must have ended up squeezing out of her. Her rather improper moan made her blush; though, thankfully he either didn’t notice it or just chose not to mention it.

 

Sansa really enjoyed being able to tightly hold him for several long minutes. It may have even been closer to ten or fifteen minutes! She just couldn’t help feeling like Sandor really needed to be held that way, though; like he needed the comfort. So she tenderly cradled the back of his head with her small hand to hold him even more firmly against her.

It was almost as if she wanted him to melt completely into her; letting the two of them become one. She stayed holding him that way for as long as she could and he allowed. Honestly, I had to force myself to let go of him, and that was only because we needed to get back on the road. Had we nowhere to go, though, I think I could have held him like that for the rest of the day, she reasons, knowing that she could quite easily still see them sitting in that very same spot and still wrapped in each other’s arms.

 

Kissing the carved wooden hound of her hair-fork, she gently sets it down on the desk near the window where she placed her other valuables.

 

After making her way back to the wooden tub, she notices three small bottles of oils available to choose from for scenting her bathwater. Sansa takes a whiff of each one before ultimately choosing the one that smells to be a mixture of jasmine, lavender, and chamomile. She knows how the combined aroma of the three scents will help soothe and relax her.

She has heard that jasmine, lavender, and chamomile are quite often used to help soothe nerves, relax the mind, and are also good for easing sore muscles and stiff limbs and joints. Exactly what Sansa needs after the last sennight’s worth of traveling and living rough.

 

Shae once teased her about another ‘benefit’ of jasmine one evening as she prepared her bath back in King’s Landing. She informed Sansa of how jasmine is often used in brothels as it cannot only help create a euphoric feeling, and boost a person’s self-confidence, but it is also a very well-known aphrodisiac and helps to bring about feelings of love and desire. Well that certainly explains the hints of jasmine I thought I smelled downstairs. Shae also said that it has even been known to help men suffering from impotence, causing Sansa to blush and seriously regret asking her what impotence actually was.

Gods how I miss Shae… like Sandor, she can be rather crude and often speaks very unguardedly and oftentimes even quite vulgarly. But she couldn’t, nor wouldn’t, change one single thing about either of the two unorthodox people she loves—my beloved non-ser and my former non-handmaiden! Sansa thinks with a smile at how similar the two are; probably the reason why she loves them both so much.

Pouring a small bit of the chosen oil into her bathwater, she stirs the water with her hand to ensure it mixes and blends thoroughly before removing the remainder of her clothing.

 

As naked as her nameday, which is today, she smiles, Sansa finally steps in and lowers herself into her much longed for bath. Upon feeling the steaming water welcome her so deliciously into her bath, Sansa cannot help but let out a loud sigh of contentment. Oh, Gods, this feels so wonderful!

All of her stiff joints and aching muscles from their long hours spent on horseback and sleeping on the hard ground are beginning to melt away, almost instantly. While holding her breath, she submerges herself all the way under the water to wet her hair. Remaining underwater for a bit, she enjoys the feeling of being completely engulfed by the hot water for a few glorious moments.

 

Deciding she should shave first, Sansa eases herself up to perch on the side of the wooden tub. Reaching for her razor and cake of goat’s milk soap provided by the inn, she removes the weeks’ worth of hair from both of her legs and from under her arms. While rinsing her razor off in her bathwater, she realizes that she still has one more area to shave.

When Shae had suggested to Sansa that she should shave the area right against her woman’s place and her upper inner thighs, she was positively shocked and mortified! Ladies are not supposed to touch themselves there for any longer than necessary; and that is supposed to be strictly for bathing! Shae proceeded to tell her though, that it was for cleanliness and to help prevent odors during her moonblood, which would be especially important while traveling through forests where she will be unable to regularly bathe.

After much coaxing on Shae’s part, Sansa finally and reluctantly acquiesced, realizing that she was much more experienced in these matters than her and was probably right. Sansa definitely does not want to draw attention to wild animals while traveling through the woods, either… nor a Hound!

Besides, she did feel more at ease when Shae told her that she didn’t have to get rid of all of the hair; she told her she could leave the patch of red curls on the top of her mound above her woman’s place, should it make her feel better. It did.

Sansa very carefully finishes removing the hair from her most sensitive of areas, excluding the top of her mound, and rinses the razor off in her bathwater one final time. Sinking back into the warm water, she takes the inn provided washing cloth and soap, and proceeds to thoroughly scrub herself clean until her alabaster skin is nice and pink. I sure do miss not being able to bathe with soft, squishy sponges!

Examining the two bottles of hair wash provided by the inn, she sees that the bottle of rosemary hair wash states that it is meant for darker hair colors, especially brunettes and blacks. This would be for Sandor, then; unless he feels it smells too feminine, of course! Picking up the second bottle, she sees that it is chamomile and is intended for lighter hair colors, specifically for shades of flaxen through auburn. I only ever had lavender oil for my hair; this should be interesting!

Upon enjoying the enticing aroma of the flowery scent fill her nose, she works it thoroughly through her locks, ensuring all of the dirt and excess oils are removed from her strands before rinsing the hair wash out with the provided ewer. Wanting to ensure her cleanliness, she washes and rinses her hair once more for good measure as there is no telling when, or even if, they will get the luxury of staying in an inn again before reaching her family.

 

Having finally finished her ablutions, she wrings the excess water from her hair, promptly gets out of the tub, and dries herself off before putting on her clean smallclothes and sleeping shift. I don’t think I will be needing my moonblood cloths right now… or at least, I shouldn’t; it isn’t like we are sharing a saddle tonight, after all.

After toweling her hair dry, she collects her brush and quickly removes the tangles from her hair. Deciding she should leave her brush out for Sandor to use after he washes his hair, she sets it on the desk near the window. Wait a minute… Sandor only ordered one bath; is he not planning to take advantage of having hot water available? Hmm… perhaps he ordered a second bath once he went to tend to Stranger….

 

Feeling refreshed and like a true Lady again, instead of some wildling spearwife, Sansa looks around the room and decides that she should prepare the place for the night while she awaits Sandor’s return. Padding over to the stone fireplace, she stokes the dying fire back to life and places another log nestled amongst the flaming embers to ensure that Sandor won’t have to go anywhere near the fire.

As she makes her way back towards the bed, she notices that the inn has also provided two goblets and two flagons of wine sitting on a table at the foot of the bed. Picking up one flagon and tasting its contents to determine what kind it is, she instantly chokes as soon as the strongwine hits her palate. Definitely Sandor’s Dornish Red, she discovers before pouring a goblet of it. She takes the cup and flagon and sets it on the small table next to what she assumes will be his side of the bed. I am guessing he will want to sleep closest to the door in case of any threats.

Going back for the second flagon, she cautiously takes a small sip to see if it too is Dornish Red, and hums in approval when the sweet wine coats her tongue. Much better… Arbor Gold! My husband is so considerate, Sansa giggles to herself as she pours half of a goblet of wine to immediately enjoy. Refilling her goblet, she places it and her flagon on the small table next to her right side of the bed.

Blushing at the thought that she will be sharing a real bed with Sandor—instead of just sleeping in a bedroll next to him—she begins to turn down their furs, woolen blankets, and linens. I have a strong feeling that my dear Lady Mother would definitely not approve of her Lady of a daughter sharing a bed with a man who is not her husband, even if we are pretending to be married! Though, Sansa herself, is quite nervously excited at that knowledge even though she knows Sandor will be a gentleman with her.

 

After getting their bedding turned down, she proceeds to fluff up her pillow before walking around the bed to do the same to Sandor’s. Sansa cannot stop herself from leaning down and lightly kissing where she knows her love will be laying his head in just a few short hours.

As she begins smoothing the linens out with her hand, a knock on the door startles her, causing her to jump and slightly yelp in surprise at the sudden loud noise interrupting the peaceful quietness.  

“Little Bird, you done yet?” she hears her ‘husband’ rasp from the other side of the door.

“Coming, Sandor!” she replies loud enough for him to hear as she quickly flies to the door, unbars it, and opens it a sliver to peek out before opening it wider to let him in. My Gods! His huge frame fills the entire doorway, she thinks as he ducks just to enter the room before shutting and barring the door behind him. I wonder why he brought his bedroll in with him?

“Enjoy your bath?”

“Gods yes; more than you can ever imagine! Thank you so much for this, Sandor,” she smiles at him before asking “were you not wanting to take a bath as well? I only heard you order the one for me…?”

“I figured to just use your water; didn’t see the point in making the poor little lass drain this one just to refill it again.” Oh, no… definitely not a knight! she muses to herself while inwardly rolling her eyes at his refusal to realize how he is the epitome of a ‘true knight.’ Well, honestly Sandor is better than a knight… he’s my Hound!

“Oh, alright then; well if you could just wait outside the door for a few minutes I’ll get redressed and can wait downstairs while you bathe,” Sansa says as she heads over to collect the gown she wore today.

“Nah, Little Bird. Don’t want you going down there alone; anyone could show up and anything could happen,” he says making Sansa wonder what he wants her to do while he bathes, then. Surely he isn’t meaning to undress and bathe in front of me… is he? Sansa wonders while feeling her cheeks redden at the thought of seeing Sandor’s beautiful naked muscular body.

“Just keep your back to me, Sansa, and those ‘maidenly sensibilities’ of yours will remain intact for one more day,” he says with a teasing smirk as he removes his sword belt and daggers, placing his unsheathed sword by the tub.

Sighing and rolling her eyes at him in feigned annoyance, she makes her way over to her saddlebags. “Just let me grab the wedding gift I’ve been working on for Robb and his bride to keep me occupied….” More like to keep my mind off of the fact that the most beautiful man in all of Westeros will be as naked as his nameday right behind me! Quickly collecting her embroidery, she goes to sit in the middle of their bed with her back squarely facing the tub.

 

When they first entered their room, Sansa’s eyes immediately sought out and fixated on her bath. Now though, she’s of a mind to take in the more prominent feature of their room before she resumes her needlework.

There are bare rails affixed within the tester overhead that’s attached to the great four-poster bed where curtains would normally be hung. She figures the inn must not feel the bed curtains necessary while the weather is still moderately warm. By not having the bed curtains hung right now, at least the washerwomen will have much smaller loads of laundry to clean after each guest leaves.

With the chilly bite of the air each morning and evening signaling that winter is coming though, she figures they will soon have to redress the beds with their curtain shrouds. A simple fire in each room just wouldn’t be nearly enough to stave off the hostile Westerosi winter.

Travel will be considerably lower during winter, of course; but unfortunately, there are times when travel is unavoidable. Anyone caught out in the bone-chilling cold would be very grateful for the thick curtains of a warm bed to ward off the potential deadly grip of such a life-threatening season.

 

The soft plushness of the thickly filled feather mattress has Sansa eagerly anticipating bedtime. She is pleasantly surprised that this bed feels to be just as comfortable as her bed back at the Red Keep, though it is considerably larger. Tansy was not jesting when she said the bed was ‘extra-large!’

Sansa thinks that it may be a good foot or so wider than her bed from King’s Landing; thankfully though, it also seems to be a few inches longer as well. Sandor’s feet will probably still hang over the edge some if he likes to sleep all stretched out, but it shouldn’t be quite as bad as a more common sized bed.

Sansa herself tends to curl up in bed. At least she has done so since her time in King’s Landing. I hope I won’t hog too much of the bed and make it uncomfortable for Sandor, she thinks knowing that she is no longer accustomed to having a bed partner.

The last time she shared a bed was when Arya or Bran would have bad dreams back at Winterfell. She would often awaken around the hour of ghosts, or the owl, and find one of them crawling beneath the furs in bed with her. They often came to her room instead of their parents, as they both wanted so badly to show to everyone that they were no longer children. Running to your mother and father after a nightmare simply did not help that argument!

 

As she hears heavy boots hitting the floor and the rustling of clothing behind her, Sansa is reminded once again of just who she will be sharing a bed with tonight. She furiously begins adding stitches to her embroidery work, trying not to let her mind wander and allow wanton thoughts fill it.

Do not think of Sandor naked and behind you, Sansa Stark! Just don’t! And don’t even think you could sneak a glance at him… you can’t, Sansa repeatedly keeps telling herself, knowing that the infamous Hound would definitely notice, after all. He notices everything!

After realizing that the last several stitches she added to her design have been completely buggered up due to her lack of concentration, she sighs heavily in frustration and immediately picks out the tangle of silk thread. So much for this helping to keep my mind off of him….

“Everything alright, Little Bird?” Sandor asks as she hears the sloshing of water and the creaking of the wooden tub from his lowering himself into the bath. See there, Sansa? Told you! He notices everything!

“Oh, I am fine Sandor; was just not satisfied with my last few stitches, is all,” she says as she rethreads her needle to begin anew. ‘Not satisfied…’ now there’s an understatement!

“That reminds me… I actually have something I would like you to take a look at; if you don’t mind. Curious if mayhap you could finish it for me,” he says as Sansa begins adding stitches once again. 

“I would be happy to; what is it?” Sandor has something he wants me to embroider for him? His request has sincerely piqued Sansa’s curiosity. She could understand if he needed her to mend seams or add patches in some of his clothing, but needlework is not something she’d ever dream he’d ask her to do for him.

“It was something my sister started making for me… after healing from my burns; she was killed before she could finish it, though,” he replies, sounding quite mournful, which breaks Sansa’s heart for him.

“Is this that personal item you mentioned in my chamber back in King’s Landing that you said you wouldn’t leave behind?”

“Aye,” he says; but before he can elaborate further, the two of them are startled by light knocking on the door.

“Would you like me to go to the door? I mean… you aren’t exactly dressed at the moment,” she says, blushing at the knowledge of that.

“Get your dagger first; I think it may be for you anyway,” he says piquing Sansa’s curiosity once again.

For me? Who would be at the door for me?” she asks before suddenly fearing the worst. “Oh, no… oh, Gods… ha-has someone seen us?” she worriedly asks as she goes to fetch her dagger.

“No Sansa, no one saw us… everything should be just fine; open the door a sliver and look out. If it is danger, let me know, and I will kill them,” he says with complete nonchalance.

“You’ll be alright, Little Bird; I promised you I would keep you safe and I will.” Sandor’s cool calm confidence eases her nerves tremendously as she knows he will do everything he can to ensure no harm comes to her.

Making it to the door with dagger in hand, she unbars and narrowly opens it to peek outside. “There is no one there,” she says, her voice full of surprise and opening the door a bit wider.

“Look down, Little Bird.”

Looking down as he says, Sansa is surprised to see a wooden saucer with some kind of a pastry and a wooden spoon sitting atop a tray laying on the planked floor right in front of their door.

“What is this?” she asks as she picks up the tray before reclosing and barring the door again.

“That was much quicker than I thought,” Sandor replies, not exactly answering her question.

“Sandor?” she asks, still with her back to him and the tub, wanting him to clarify.

“I… uh… well… Godsdamnit!” he stammers before swearing under his breath and clearing his throat. “I stopped by the kitchen when I went to tend to Stranger and ordered some more rations for when we leave. While I was there though, I… I saw a bowl of lemons… and… and asked what they planned to do with them. When I heard their answer, I asked them if they could make something… special… for your… your nameday,” he replies a little quietly and rather awkwardly, almost as if he is shy or embarrassed to admit it.

“Are you serious, Sandor?” she surprisingly asks with a huge smile and fighting back the tears collecting in the corners of her eyes at how thoughtful he can be.

“Aye.”

“Oh, Sandor… thank you so much; you are just so sweet to me!” she sniffles out. “And no; don’t you dare even try to deny it, either, Sandor Clegane!” she says, reaching behind her in order to point her finger at him, before she sits back on the bed.

While wiping her happy tears away, she takes a small bite of the still warm from the oven lemon and honey tart topped with a thin layer of lemon curd, sprinkled with a fine dusting of sugar, and garnished with three slices of candied lemons.

The piquant tart melts instantly in her mouth allowing the flavors of the buttery flaky crust, the extra sticky sweet honey, and the acerbic tang, from both the candied lemon slices and the zesty flavor of the delicious lemon curd, to waltz across her palate, caressing her tongue as she hums in mouthwatering approval. “Oh, Gods, Sandor, this is so, so, so delicious!” she mumbles with a very unladylike mouthful.

“Glad you like it,” Sandor chuckles. “I know it’s not your beloved lemon cakes, but I figured every Little Bird deserves something lemony on their nameday.”

“I love it, Sandor; it was so very thoughtful of you,” she says, knowing how he has given her two surprises for her nameday now. Surely this has to mean something… right? Sansa wonders, hoping that she is correctly interpreting his actions as him having feelings for her and that mayhap this is his way of trying to show them to her without the risk of her rejection.

 

Sansa enjoys a good amount of the treat, before realizing that there is just no way she could ever eat such a large portion. This is very clearly meant for two people to share; oh, and what luck… I happen to have a person to share with!

“I am going to share some of this with you, Sandor.”

“Don’t worry about me, Little Bird; it’s your nameday, not mine.”

“I know it is; that’s why I am going to share it with you. Besides Sandor, this is just way too much for one Little Bird to eat on her own without acquiring some canine assistance!”

She hears him sigh in defeat—despite him slightly chuckling at her play on words—obviously knowing by now that when Sansa sets her mind to something, she will not rest until she gets what she wants. Especially when what I am wanting is the heart of one particular handsome Hound! “Fine… your dog will be out soon to eat your scraps. Want to enjoy the water while it’s still warm enough to soothe my muscles—even if I will end up smelling as pretty as my Little Bird.”

“But Sandor! You have to eat it warm! It just wouldn’t taste the same cold,” she stresses as she climbs back off of their bed. “Can you just make sure that your… um… well… that your… you know… is covered?” she embarrassedly asks while feeling her entire face, neck, and ears redden brighter than Lannister crimson.

Obviously quite amused at both her embarrassment and her request, Sandor barks out a huge laugh before calming down enough to say “seven hells, Sansa… aye; I will make sure my cock is covered for you!”

“Sandor!” she shockingly admonishes him. “You shouldn’t say it like that! Especially to a lady!”  

“Well how the hells else am I going to say it? It’s a cock, isn’t it?”

“You could have called it your… your… manhood! Or better yet, just say that you are covered without calling… it… anything!” she says as her flushed face becomes, surprisingly, even brighter.

Laughing at her again, “gods, you’re such an innocent maidenly Little Bird. Fine Sansa; I am covered,” he rasps through his chuckling.

 

Keeping her eyes lowered and fixated on the saucer in her hand, she carefully makes her way over to the left side of the tub. Looking up quickly to ensure she doesn’t run into it, and consequently fall into the bath with Sandor, the sight of him causes Sansa to gasp, her eyes widen, and stop dead in her tracks!

Sandor’s extremely broad shoulders, bared muscular arms, and rather defined upper chest—that’s covered in a fine dusting of black hair interspersed with a multitude of old silvery white and pink scars from various injuries—are on full display to her. Oh. My. Gods! So many muscles… and this is only a small portion of him!

Sansa could tell that Sandor is extremely muscular, even through his tunic; however, seeing even this small area of him bare makes her realize just how much she has underestimated his build and strength. My Gods, he is magnificent… truly beautiful, she thinks, feeling her woman’s place becoming rather wet and start to get all tingly, while sporadically beginning to throb; she realizes that it probably would have been best had she actually worn her moonblood cloths after all!

“What? I am covered,” Sandor innocently rasps with a smirk, clearly amused at the look on her face, before she notices his eyes trailing down her body now. His gaze begins to slowly travel all the way down her face, lingering a couple of moments longer on her breasts, eyes widening a bit as they reach her thighs, and probably noticing that the shape of her legs are inappropriately visible through the thin fabric, before finally resting on her small pale bare feet. He’s apparently just now realized that Sansa is in nothing but her smallclothes and a sleeping shift, causing him to suddenly grip the edge of the tub rather tightly and gulp, making the apple of this throat hypnotically bob up and down.

 

“I-I-I kn-know,” she stutters out trying to ignore the fact that a bit of soapy water is the only thing keeping her from seeing all of him!

Trying to regain her composure, Sansa sits on her knees next to the tub and tries to keep her eyes on either his face or behind him as those areas are safe. Safe is good, Sansa; stick with safe!

Since she can finally see his shoulders bared to her, she cannot help but notice how his scars trail down the side of his neck and cover about half of his left shoulder, as well. She’s been curious as to how far the scars travel and it breaks her heart to see that Gregor hurt more than just his little brother’s face.

 

Not wanting to draw his attention to the fact that she is staring at his scars, knowing how he could very well misinterpret her curiosity as disgust, she instead gets a spoonful of the tart. Holding the spoon up to his mouth, his good brow lifts surprisingly high while his eyes equally widen in surprise.

“Are you going to open your mouth or are you just going to stare at me?” she asks with a shy smile.

“I can feed myself, Sansa,” he replies right before opening his mouth and taking the proffered bite, causing Sansa to smile in triumphant success.  

“Yes, you can. However, you can also do as you had planned and enjoy soaking in your bath. So, just open your snout when I raise the spoon, Hound!” Sansa teasingly says, eliciting a smirk from his full mouth, as she prepares another bite while making sure to also include a piece of the candied lemon, and watches for when he is ready.

“How do you like it?” she asks after seeing that he is no longer chewing and has swallowed the first bite.

“It’s not bad; tastes about as tart as your lemon cakes.”

“The honey makes this a bit sweeter than lemon cakes, but this is really quite delicious!”

As Sandor does as she instructed him by taking the second bite, Sansa cannot help but further tease him, seeing as how they have both been playfully teasing each other a lot these last few days.

“There’s a good Hound,” she says as she cheekily pats his head with an impish smile, causing him to bark out an earnest laugh.

“Though I do believe a belly rub is what most ‘dogs,’ as you insist on calling yourself, receive when they are well behaved and do as they are told,” Sansa coquettishly jests while fighting down an intense blush as her eyes involuntarily drift towards the waterline to where Sandor’s hair covered muscular stomach is, unfortunately, hidden from her view. Her sudden brazenness is surprising even herself right now, so she is certain he must be quite surprised by her playful flirtation, as well.

Sandor chuckles mischievously at her, “aye… mayhap if your dog is ‘well behaved’ later, he might just earn himself that ‘belly rub,’” he replies causing her to gasp when what he says registers to her, thus making him loudly laugh at her reaction.

Oh, my Gods! He really is incorrigible; she thinks with a giggle. Could this perhaps be Sandor actually trying to flirt with me, though? Sansa wonders, knowing how the teasing jests she’s been doing these last several days are her own attempts at flirting with him! Perhaps, though, it isn’t the best idea for me to flirt with him while he is as naked as his nameday and in a bath… topped with me feeding him.

Sansa realizes that just her feeding him—from my own spoon no less—would be considered highly improper, as it is a rather intimate act. She believes now though, that this is more than likely the reason behind Sandor’s surprised reaction when she held the spoon up to his mouth.

Honestly though, she does not really care that it is improper at this point. Sansa rather likes the idea of doing such an intimate, yet still fairly innocent, act together; as if they truly are really happily married, instead of just pretending to be. Besides, it isn’t like anyone is actually here and can see her behavior in order to report it back to her brother and Lady Mother. She seriously doubts Sandor will say anything to her family about her behavior; even if he truly did feel that she was being improper.

Even back in King’s Landing, Sandor kept many of her actions Joffrey or Cersei would have considered treasonous to himself. He spared me countless beatings and quite possibly even a beheading a time or two, she recollects. She remembers how Sandor not only stopped her from shoving Joffrey off of the battlements of the Red Keep, but of how he also caught her trying to destroy her feather bed after she finally flowered and started her first moonblood the night before. He could have gone straight to Cersei and told her of how she and Shae had tried to hide her flowering; Sandor was only there to escort Sansa to the Queen’s solar to answer her summons, after all.

Instead though, Sandor carefully removed the knife from her trembling hand, and gently wiped her tears away with a cloth that his armor seems to magically grow all on its own considering how many he’s retrieved for her over the years. He soothingly rasped out that he would wait until she was cleaned up and calmed down before taking her to the Queen.  

There is just something about Sandor’s deep, gravely, raspy voice that can soothe me so effortlessly. Of course, his voice tends to also have a completely different effect on her at times, as well. Especially when she can feel his deep timbre reverberating through his chest from where she is often pressed up so firmly against him while riding together. It feels as though his voice radiates clear through to the very core of her, turning her insides to pure mush.

 

As she prepares the third bite of the tart for him, she sees that he is trying to collect something from the bathwater’s surface out of the corner of her eye. Holding his hand out of the water, he starts chuckling before looking at her. Confused, Sansa looks at his hand causing her eyes nearly bulge right out of her head while she suddenly begins blushing deeply.

“So… seems my Little Bird preened her pretty feathers, after all, did she?” he teasingly asks with a smirk, showing her the short red hairs laying in the palm of his hand from when she shaved during her bath. Noticing the actual length of the hairs, though, she gasps. Those are not from my legs… nor from under my arms, she humiliatingly realizes while her face and ears threaten to ignite from how hotly red they’re turning.

“Oh, Gods… I… I… I am so sorry, Sandor. Had I… had I known you were going to share my bathwater I’d not have… have… I’d not have shaved,” she tries to get out as her voice thickens in her humiliation. “This is so embarrassing,” she cries as she sets the plate down in order to hide her face in her hands, all the while wishing she could just crawl into a hole somewhere and disappear.

“Fuck’s sake Sansa, it’s just hair! Don’t worry about it, Little Bird; was just ruffling your feathers, a bit is all. Nothing to feel embarrassed about,” he says, trying to soothe her.

“But… how can you ‘ruffle my feathers’ if I’ve already ‘preened’ them?” she tries to jest in return after a few moments, sniffling and wiping her tears away. She is hopeful that a jape will help her feel not quite so humiliated.

“Adorable silly Little Bird,” he rasps, making Sansa shyly smile at his calling her adorable. She hopes he isn’t meaning ‘adorable’ in the way that puppies are adorable, though. Sandor does realize that, according to Westerosi law, I am a woman fully grown now that I am six and ten… doesn’t he?

“Well, thankfully you didn’t preen all of those lovely feathers away; can thank those non-existent gods of yours for that. Would be a crime to have a Little Bird with no pretty feathers, after all,” he says while reaching out to very gently tug playfully on a lock of her red hair. His cheeks tinge a bit with what Sansa thinks looks like a hint his own slight blush. He’s sure been blushing an awful lot lately.

“You think my feathers are pretty, Sandor?” she cannot help but shyly ask.

Snorting out a disbelieving laugh, he says “aye, Sansa. You’re beautiful; but you know that Little Bird.” She cannot stop the smile that spreads across her face.

She’s been told she’s pretty and beautiful her entire life, even Joffrey commented on my beauty; but for some reason the compliment just seems all the more sincere when coming from Sandor Clegane. He is not exactly the kind of man known for praising and complimenting ladies, after all; so when he does say something sweet like that, it is because he truly means it.

Sansa used to enjoy how handsome knights such as Ser Loras Tyrell or Ser Arys Oakheart would flatter her; telling her how lovely she looked anytime they were near. But now that she is older, she can tell how insincere men like them really are. They told all highborn ladies they encountered the same thing, without preamble—they didn’t think one lady any prettier than the other. They were all full of sweet honeyed words but never meant a single word spoken.

 

After preparing and feeding Sandor the next bite of the tart, Sansa notices that a bit of the sticky honey, and even some of the lemon curd, has managed to seep out from between the gap on the scarred side of his lips. She doesn’t really want to verbally mention it to him as she is afraid he might feel self-conscious and embarrassed by it, even though it is nothing he can control. Plus, he hasn’t wiped it away himself yet, anyway. She isn’t quite sure if he has even noticed it there as she is uncertain of how much feeling he actually has on his left side. So, Sansa decides to just take matters into her own wings.

 

Setting the spoon on the saucer, and then placing the saucer on the floor in front of her, she reaches her right hand out to gently wipe the seeped out tart filling from his bottom lip with her thumb. He flinches and completely stiffens at her touch.

The scars on that spot don’t feel nearly as rough as I always imagined they would, she realizes upon feeling the rather smooth skin on the outermost left side of his bottom lip.

Not thinking it very proper to stick her hand into his bathwater to rinse her thumb off—even if the water was originally hers—she decides to just lick it off of her thumb, as she doesn’t have anything to wipe it on, either. Plus, I don’t exactly want to waste any of my beloved treat, anyway!

As she raises her hand to her mouth and suckles the sticky sweet and tart goop from the tip of her thumb, the shocked look on Sandor’s face has her turning ruby red. “That came from my mouth, Sansa,” he incredulously says. Which is probably why it tasted so much more delicious, and even sweeter!

Rather suddenly though, Sandor’s initial look of shock quickly fades into shameful embarrassment as he lowers his gaze and turns his face away from her, even though he has turned so that his scars are more visible to her. “Food always manages to leak out of that damned spot,” he emotionally says as he rubs his hands down his face, lingering just a moment or two longer once his fingers reach his eyes. Sansa wonders if he is actually trying to nonchalantly wipe tears away, hoping to prevent her from noticing.

“It’s fine, Sandor.”

“No it’s not; its fucking humiliating!” he all but shouts as he momentarily looks at her before looking away once again. “I try not to eat in front of people; usually disgusts them to see food dribbling down my damn chin and covering my clothes,” he says, sounding rather disgusted with himself; he’s still unable, or rather unwilling, to look at her.

She wants to soothe and comfort him, but she knows that anything she could possibly say may very well be misinterpreted—he would probably feel I was pitying him. She knows that pity is one thing he does not want. It would make him feel weak, and if Sandor Clegane is anything, he is definitely not weak!

She reaches her hand up—resting hers atop of his—and cups it from where he is gripping the side of the wooden tub hard enough to whiten his knuckles. He doesn’t flinch like he usually does whenever she touches him; nor does he even look at her. He keeps his eyes averted, even as she begins to gently stroke his scarred, rough-skinned knuckles with her thumb.

She caresses him as best she can, seeing how desperately wants to give him as much comfort as possible. Sansa begins to think that Sandor may be lost in his own little world when he finally speaks after several minutes, breaking the deafening silence growing in the room.

 

“The maester had to cut them apart. Twice. First time was a week after Gregor burned me; they… my lips melted together.” Feeling her eyes burning from the threat of unshed tears at how horrible that had to have been, she does not reply; instead she lets him talk as much as he wants. She just continues holding and caressing his hand.

“Second time was about six moons after the burns healed. Hurt too damn bad to open my mouth more than a sliver as it stretched the skin. Stretched and pulled so damn bad that even the healed parts tore away from the burnt quite often, anytime I dared try opening my mouth. Eating was out of the question. I survived on various broths; sucked them up through a thin glass cylinder the maester usually used in creating his concoctions.

“Since I couldn’t open my mouth for any length of time, the previously cut apart skin of my lips grew back together; the burnt flesh fused together with unburnt. The maester ended up cutting them apart again; this time, though, he decided that to keep my lips from growing back together a second time, that he… he shou…” he woefully stammers out as he tremulously sighs.

He closes his eyes, forcing a couple of tears to trickle down the ridges and crevices of his scarred cheek, before taking a deep breath and continuing. “That he should just cut away a portion of my lips, leaving me with this huge fucking gaping hole wide enough to throw a bloody damned aurochs through,” he morosely gets out, his voice breaking occasionally from intense emotion, as Sansa feels one single tear drop of her own trickle down her pale cheek.

The pain her beloved Sandor has had to endure is just too heartbreaking for her to truly even cry in earnest for him. She just tightly squeezes his hand, realizing that while he was talking, he must have turned his hand enough to allow hers to slide fully into his. Her fingers are against the warm calloused skin of his palm, with his fingers firmly curled around her own, leaving her thumb free to continue her loving caresses across his knuckles. 

 

Thinking he is done talking, she slightly startles when she hears him speak up again after a quiet reprieve. “He covered the left side of my face in fucking maggots; said they would eat the dead burnt skin so new healthy skin could grow back.” Sansa prays the disgust she feels at the thought of such a horrid sounding treatment is not showing on her face, while she also tries to prevent bile from rising up in her stomach.

She’s not disgusted of Sandor of course, but rather for the poor, sweet little boy who had to endure such horrendous things, even if it did essentially help him in the long run. No telling how much more severe his scars would have looked had the dead tissue not been removed; even if the method of doing so is rather nauseatingly vile.

“Me being just six years old at the time, I wasn’t understanding why the maester was putting such sickeningly disgusting things on my face; thought mayhap he just felt I hadn’t quite suffered enough at Gregor’s hand. That mayhap the maester merely meant to punish me even further for daring to touch what wasn’t mine—Gregor’s buggering damned toy knight.”

The fact of an innocent little six-year-old Sandor even humoring the idea that being horrifically burned was not ‘punishment enough’—that he honestly felt a maester would have believed that a sweet little boy deserved even more nightmarish hell than just having Gregor for a brother—completely shatters Sansa’s heart into an infinite number of pieces.

“Knowing that I had disgusting looking things crawling all over my face gave me such horribly vivid nightmares. And those were on top of the ones I already had nightly, fearing Gregor would come finish me off while I lay helpless in bed.

“Kept dreaming that I had maggots crawling inside of me; getting inside my body through my ruined ear, my eye, nose, and my mouth. I swear… at times I could even fucking taste the damned things,” he says as he wipes his tears away with his free hand, obviously not caring, or mayhap just not noticing, that he is crying in front of her now; all the while making her cry along with him.

Sansa honestly believes that it is his subconscious who is actually talking of his past experiences; that mayhap Sandor, himself, has retreated into some safe place inside his mind. Mayhap, even on some subconscious level, my sweet Sandor is actually speaking of this to me while being held and comforted by his beloved sister, Elandria, Sansa contemplates to herself while remaining hopeful that one day he can think of, and come to, her whenever he is in need of comforting.

I sure hope you would approve of me for your precious baby brother, Elandria…. Sansa would do anything and everything she could for that man. She would cherish him, love him, adore him—as he truly, sincerely deserves—completely, unconditionally, endlessly!

“My skin crawled all over my fucking body every single time the maester would put a fresh batch of the disgusting fuckers on my face, neck or shoulder. Before the previous ones could mature enough to start growing into flies, they would have to be replaced with fly larvae again and again and again. Subconsciously, I could even feel them under my skin—felt like I was being eaten alive! Began scratching at places, trying so desperately to dig them out—usually not stopping until I drew blood on both my body and my face, as I even began feeling like they were getting under my unburnt skin, as well.

“I was scratching at any and every part of my skin I could reach—including one area that was actually starting to heal fairly well. Unfortunately, though, no one noticed that my razor sharp fingernails were untrimmed, so I ended up damaging the area that already had some healthy skin growing back. Scratched all the new, healthy tissue away only to leave this monstrously hideous fucking hole where my godsdamn jawbone actually shows through,” he says, absently touching the hole with his right hand, seeing as Sansa is still tightly holding his left.

Sandor is unconsciously squeezing Sansa’s hand so tight, that it is actually quite nearly causing her pain. However, she will not say anything to him about that; she can sense that he is really needing her hand at the moment. So even if he does hurt her with his grip, she will not dare say anything about it. Instead, she simply squeezes his hand back, equally tight.

Looking at the area in question, she can see that there are a couple of narrow little slivers of skin that must have managed to grow back across the opening of the hole. The skin there looks a bit stringy in that spot, but you can indeed still see a bit of bone.

Honestly, that was always one of the things that disgusted Sansa so when she was younger and didn’t truly know him. That along with his rage-filled eyes that frightened her so. Now though, neither is she disgusted by the hole, that is honestly smaller than half of a Copper Star and therefore virtually unnoticeable unless really studying his face, nor his eyes that nearly make her swoon from the beauty of their hue which show his emotions so intensely. Neither one causes her to flinch or tremble in fear any longer.

“After realizing how I was only causing more damage to my ruined face, and ultimately destroying all of the maester’s efforts at trying to salvage whatever remained of my former appearance, he decided it would be more conducive for allowing new skin to grow back if he just tied me down to my bed. My arms and legs were stretched out to the bedposts for several days on end. Was only allowed untied long enough to shite, or for Elandria to help me bathe, seeing as how he made me piss in a chamber pot he would hold for me,” he says as he wipes a single fallen tear from his left cheek with his right hand.

As that same hand unconsciously drifts up to where his left ear should be after a few quiet moments, he continues once again. “The shell of my ear was so melted and damaged that the maester just cut the damn thing off. My earhole was even melted over to where I couldn’t hear more than muffled sounds from it. He was worried that the trauma of the injury might have caused permanent hearing loss in that ear.

“After cutting the melted shell off, he then cut through the melted skin, creating a small hole to test my hearing; I could hear, thankfully. By some godsdamned fucking miracle, both my hearing and my vision on my left side was unaffected,” he says causing Sansa to silently thank all of the Gods for granting him that small miracle.

 

“My voice didn’t fair quite so well, though. Apparently my screaming was so fucking loud and lasted for damn near a solid hour or two, that my vocal chords eventually just burst. I started screaming the very moment Gregor yanked me up and tucked me under his arm, carrying me closer to the brazier, all the while fearing the worst only to have it come true.

“Only stopped screaming once my voice finally just gave out; it was then that the maester nearly drowned me in Milk of the Poppy and Sweetsleep to knock my arse out. He felt that I might have either swallowed some small embers of the burning coals or quite possibly even some of my own burning fucking flesh. My entire throat was scorched all the way down, only to cause my voice to rasp out like steel on stone,” he croaks out, trying to keep his emotions from sounding out in his voice, but not succeeding.

“It wasn’t bad enough that I have to look like some kind of hideous fucking monster from the depths of the Seven Hells; guess I have to sound like one, too,” he absently says with a sigh. So typical that the voice I so adore, he utterly despises!

Speaking up for the first time since he began his heart wrenching story, Sansa tightly squeezes his hand and says through a tear laden voice threatening to break from holding her tears back, “you do not look, nor sound, like a monster, Sandor Clegane! Nor are you hideous… far from it, actually…. That, I sincerely promise you! Gregor is the monster, Sandor; not you!”

 

What she says to him suddenly awakens Sandor from his painful reverie. He looks confusingly at her with his good brow deeply furrowed upon noticing that they are rather tightly holding each other’s hand. As he touches his face with his free hand, he apparently notices that the both of them also have tear stains streaking their faces.

“Wh… what happened, Sansa? What the fucking hells did I say?” he worriedly asks as if he is terrified to receive confirmation that his suspicion of talking of his burns is true. The look in his pleading gaze is naked with emotion, so afraid that he may have said something to disgust her, and ultimately humiliate himself.

Not wanting to lie to him, she tells him the truth as gently as she can. Her confession causes him to scrunch his eyes closed and look away from her, yet again, in his embarrassment. “Well there’s a bedtime story for you…” he sarcastically rasps to her, disdainfully shaking his head. She knows that he is most likely silently calling himself every hurtful name he can think of right now.

Sansa honestly wishes that Sandor was already out of his bath as she would love to be able to hold him close right now, if she could. His Little Bird wants so desperately to be able to tightly wrap him up in her loving wings; to let him bury his face in the crook of her neck, trying to give him as much comfort as possible. However, if Sansa gives in to her temptation and reaches out to hold him anyway, her thin shift would soak clear through, rendering it completely transparent!

Well, that may at least get his thoughts off of what he told me of his childhood, she muses with a blush at the thought of giving Sandor a fairly unobstructed view of her breasts through her thin linen sleeping shift. It would be soaked completely and clinging inappropriately to her skin. Just the idea of letting Sandor see her that way has her nipples budding up as hard as little pink pebbles and feeling extremely sensitive. Talk about an eyeful, she thinks. Or mayhap it would be more of a… mouthful…? she inappropriately wonders at the remembrance of what she saw downstairs earlier this evening.

However, as Sansa’s mind is actually mentally replaying that memory, she is no longer seeing some nameless whore and her unknown patron. She now sees herself sitting on Sandor’s lap! Her arms are wrapped snuggly around him and she can very nearly feel the moist heat coming from his warm wet mouth, suckling at her left breast while his huge hand cups the right. He’s staring up into her eyes with a look she is unable to decipher; his normal silver depths darkening to such a deep and dark charcoal grey, causing her to tremble from the heat and intensity in his gaze.

The images she has playing in her mind’s eye causes her to feel a rather different sensation—something she can only describe as being some sort of strange feeling of hunger. She is fairly certain, though, that this hunger has absolutely nothing to do with her wanting, nor needing, to eat, seeing how she ate her fill downstairs. No. This hunger is a need to devour Sandor Clegane! And in a rather intimate manner, too!

 

Desperately trying to awaken herself from these forbidden fantasies, she realizes that Sandor seems quite capable of causing her to experience such wanton, inappropriate thoughts and uncontrollable bodily reactions without ever doing a single thing nor saying nary a word. Just thinking of that man, even in chaste manners, seems to make her body yearn for him in ways she just cannot quite comprehend yet. For goodness sakes, Sansa… you are not any better than that horrid whore, Leslyn, whom you yelled at only a few short hours ago!

 

Trying to both bring Sandor back to when he was in a happier mood, and also working on getting her own mind out of forbidden and inappropriate territories, she dries her eyes with the back of her hand and prepares the last bite of the now stone cold tart. “There’s only one bite of the tart left, Sandor; would you like it?”

“No, Sansa, you eat it. Was meant for you anyway,” he quietly rasps, still not looking at her and absently staring at the bathwater before him.

Eating the last bite of her precious nameday treat, Sansa decides that she should probably give Sandor a bit of space to be alone for a while. He is more than likely still mentally belittling himself for opening up to her as he did, even if he were practically in a trance. I wish it didn’t embarrass him so to open up to me like that; to even allow himself the freedom to cry without feeling less of a man.

Sansa knows that it can be very healing to allow oneself to cry. Only the strongest of men would ever allow themselves to do so; especially in front of another person. And Sandor Clegane is the strongest man I know!

 

“I’ll go sit back on the bed so you can finish your bath and wash your hair in peace,” she says as she reluctantly releases his hand, but not before giving him one more firm squeeze, and a last gentle sweep of her thumb across his rough knuckles.

“Can’t.”

“Pardon? Can’t what, Sandor?”

“Can’t wash my hair.”

“Why can’t you?” she asks with her brow slightly furrowed in curious confusion.

“The way I have to wash it, to keep unclean water from getting in my ruined ear, would flood the whole damn room; the water would leak through the floorboards, dripping below to downstairs,” he says with a sigh. “I’ll have to wait until we find running water somewhere. Wouldn’t be such an issue if we were in my own chamber; or even somewhere that’s already wet, such as a bathhouse. Whenever I get dirty or soapy water in that ear, I always come down with an extremely severe and painfully feverous infection which can affect my balance and, ultimately, my fighting.” Oh, no! Definitely do not want him doing anything that could ultimately place him in danger or at a disadvantage in any potential fights.

Deciding not to offer to help him wash his hair though, knowing good and well what his answer will be, Sansa merely walks over on her knees to position herself behind him. She immediately begins pulling his hair that’s draped over the left side of his head back over towards the right, essentially putting all of his scars on full display to her.

Sandor completely stiffens at her actions, and grips the edges of the tub so hard that the wood is creaking and groaning angrily in its protestation.

“What the fuck do you think you are you doing?” he half growls out, looking over his shoulder at her with the angry sneering scowl she hasn’t seen directed towards her in several moons! His voice, thick and heavy with nervousness, and even a bit higher in pitch than its usual deep bass, is completely belying his anger as fear.

“What does it look like I am doing, Sandor? I am about to wash your hair,” she answers matter-of-factly. She is completely unfazed and undeterred by his growling sneer, knowing that the Hound is all bark and no bite when it comes to her. She recognizes his actions for what they are: a scared, cornered, mistreated ‘dog’ snapping at the only hand wanting to pet and love him.

He is so unused to being shown anything other than mistreatment that he doesn’t know how to accept compassion and kindness; though Sansa plans to teach her scared, cornered Hound that not every touch he receives will cause him pain.

 

“Sansa, no! I will do it later!” he protests, trying to bat her hands away and move as far out of her reach as possible considering he is tightly wedged into a tub meant for people half his size and with his knees even sticking up out of the water.

Not letting him get away from her, though, Sansa reaches her hand out and clasps Sandor’s thick wide shoulder, pulling him back against the tub so that she can reach him easier. “Sit back, Sandor!”

I swear… I have had to do this exact same thing just to get little Rickon to bathe for mother once when his nursemaid had taken ill…. “We will do it now and that is final! You will rest much easier if your hair is clean.”

“Seven godsdamn fucking Hells this is humiliating,” he quietly curses through a mutter under his breath while letting out a huge sigh. However, he did finally stop fighting her as if he were still just a little boy not wanting to bathe after his mud puddle escapades.

“I am not doing anything more than what your Lady Wife would do for you, Sandor. Try to relax and enjoy the luxury of having your hair washed for you. Most people rather enjoy it,” she says, knowing how badly she misses having her own hair washed by someone, after all.

Seeing him still looking like he feels extremely exposed, she adds “you should know well enough by now, Sandor, that your scars do not bother me… not one bit, in the least!” He does not answer, nor does he look like he even believes her either, which hurts Sansa a bit. She’ll make him see the truth of that, though… no matter how long it takes!

 

After pulling his black hair back over to the side of his head where it originally belongs, she has to stifle the gasp threatening to escape her lips, thus completely belying her insistence that his scars do not bother her, upon seeing the full extent of the damage inflicted him from such a close proximity. She notices that literally half of his scalp has been seared away, leaving only a few wispy strands of his hair that are managing to grow through the damaged scarred tissue.

Ripples, crevices, and valleys undulate across his face and scalp, rendering it the battlefield of a war that was waged between the pure evil of a monster and the genuine innocent goodness of a child. Even though evil may have won that particular battle, Sansa is hopeful that with her help, her beloved Sandor’s innermost goodness will ultimately win the war he is still mentally fighting, after all of these years.

 

As she reaches for the ewer she used during her own bath to wet his hair, she notices that he is so tense from knowing how on display his main weakness is to her that he is ever so slightly trembling. She understands that he feels slightly embarrassed with her doing this for him—that he probably feels a bit emasculated even—as she tried to tell him, though, this is nothing she would not do for him if she were his Lady Wife in truth.

Sansa knows, though, that telling Sandor to try and relax will likely only have the opposite effect on him, so she decides to just ignore his trembling as if she doesn’t even notice. She instead fills the ewer with his lukewarm bathwater.

 

To try and keep soapy water from making its way into his earhole and causing him pain, Sansa flattens the palm of her left hand against the opening, causing him to flinch, yet again, at her touch. She slowly pours water over his strands, avoiding the left side as much as possible. She refills the ewer and repeats the process twice more times before his hair is wet enough to cleanse with the provided hair wash.

“You only thought you were going to smell ‘pretty’ from the bathwater, Sandor; you’ll smell even lovelier, now!” she teases, trying to lighten the mood some. She picks up the bottle of rosemary hair wash that’s intended for dark hair, and pours some into her right hand. She then begins to work it into his hair all the while keeping his missing ear covered with her clean dry left hand the entire time.

“Wonderful,” he sarcastically responds, causing her to smile. Sandor remains extremely tense and continues to grip the edges of the tub hard, but as she begins massaging the wash into his scalp and hair, he finally slowly stops his trembling, at least. Progress! At last…. Baby steps, my love; baby steps. She’d be able to wash his hair much easier with both hands, but she is determined to manage just fine with only the one.

Allowing her fingernails of her right hand to graze and gently scratch his scalp as she thoroughly works the wash into his locks to remove any dirt, sweat, and excess oils, she hears him give out a slight contented sounding sigh making her smile. She sincerely hopes he is enjoying this experience as she wants to do all that she can to comfort him and to make him feel good. 

“I am not hurting you, am I?” she asks as she gently begins to massage his scalp where his burns blend into the unburnt skin, trying to avoid using her nails there so as to not scratch him, while continuing her ministrations.

“No; feels good, actually,” he quietly, and almost shyly, admits. “No one’s done this for me since I just was a pup.”

“I am assuming Elandria was the last person to wash your hair for you?”

“Aye. Took a good solid year for me to heal enough to not worry about damaging any healed skin; before then though, she washed it for me thrice a week.”

“Well, you know that I am more than willing to wash your hair for you at any time, Sandor,” she says while pouring a bit more of the wash into her hand to work on the length of his hair now. “If we stay at any inns in the future, I will happily do it for you; if you would like me to, that is,” she offers with true sincerity.

“Oh, and by the way, I just wanted to let you know that if you didn’t bring a razor with you and would like to shave… you’re more than welcome to borrow mine.”

“It’s alright, Sansa. Thank you, though,” he responds, denying her offer. “Can’t really shave myself due to my scars. I’ll have to go to a barber next town we come across that actually has one. Unfortunately, Stoney Sept doesn’t have one in town any longer. So, sorry Little Bird, but I’ll just have to look even more ugly than you’re used to for a little while longer.”

Sansa slaps his bare shoulder, causing him to flinch. “You are not ugly, Sandor! In fact, you are the complete opposite of ugly!” she firmly states. Gods, my love; you are absolutely gorgeous!

He merely disbelievingly huffs under his breath and mutters what Sansa thinks sounds like “I wish, Little Bird.” But since he obviously didn’t want her to hear him, considering he said it so quietly, she won’t reply. Him kicking himself like so is just not the right time to tell him of her true feelings. She knows he would incorrectly believe it was only said out of either pity or mockery, and she is unsure of how—or even if—she could convince him otherwise.  

“Would you like me to help you shave?” she shyly asks, knowing he will more than likely say ‘no.’

Fuck no! Absolutely not!” he adamantly protests, confirming her thoughts. “It’s bad enough you feel the need to give your dog his godsdamn bath; not letting you groom him, too! And that is final… you are a Lady, Sansa; not a fucking kennelmaster!” Sansa sighs and disappointingly shakes her head. Men and their foolish pride!

Placing her hand under his chin, she tilts his head back so that she can look him in the eye, even though she is looking down at him from above and behind. She firmly says with a raised brow and a serious tone to her voice “and you are a man, Sandor; not a dog! What is it going to take to get that through your thick hard head?”

“Best way to train your dog is through patience and repetition…” he says as his beautiful silver eyes sparkle with mirth and the right side of his mouth forms its usual adorable smirk. Sansa can tell he is only jesting with her this time—mayhap even trying to flirt with her a bit—causing her to mockingly raise her brow at him again, and to fail at suppressing a fit of giggles.

Sansa just sighs, shakes her head with a huge grin, and pushes his head back up, making him chuckle now, too, while she begins finger combing the hair wash through his strands, ensuring that his hair is clean from roots to tips.

 

As she collects the ewer and fills it with water once again to rinse his hair, she notices that he has apparently missed a streak of dirt down the middle of his back. She isn’t sure how long it has been there; could have even been there since the battle a sennight ago. That’s what he gets for being so huge, she muses to herself. Even his long arms are no match for his magnificently broad back!

If the dirt doesn’t come off while she is rinsing his hair, she guesses she will just have to scrub it away with soap and washing cloth herself! Oh, darn my luck…! Is it so terribly wrong for me to hope that it doesn’t come off? She smiles at the thought, realizing that she honestly doesn’t really care if it is wrong, or not! Mayhap this will force her to get the courage she needs in order to dole out the ‘punishment’ she promised him yesterday evening about calling himself a dog.

Covering his missing ear with the palm of her left hand, she rinses his hair thoroughly thrice times, while trying to avoid both his earhole and his back as much as possible. Wringing the excess water from his locks, Sansa notices that the smear of dirt granted her wish of it to remain.

Yes! What a lucky Little Bird am I, she happily muses to herself, excited about getting the opportunity to feel the powerful muscles of his back, even if it is through a washing cloth, and is such an inappropriate thing for an unmarried innocent maiden to do. Do you honestly really care that you shouldn’t even be thinking about doing this, nor that it is also highly inappropriate, Sansa Stark? No? Didn’t think so, she asks and answers herself with a mischievous smile.

Though a maiden she may yet be, her innocence seems to be dwindling each and every day she’s with her beloved Hound. She’d be lying, though, if she says that she’s sorry to see it go. Her innocence only ever seems to get her in trouble or taken advantage of by those, who by all accounts, should be trustworthy. She is very tired of being the stereotypical ‘damsel in distress’ needing rescuing by a not-so-chivalrous ‘knight in shining armor.’

Mayhap it is high time for the songs and stories to tell of the independent maiden rescuing the non-Knight in dented armor, for once! She knows that Arya would at least be proud of her trying to save herself as much as possible.

Sansa and Arya may not have a lot in common, but beneath Sansa’s prim and proper ladylike exterior, she has always secretly wished to be more assertive and as self-reliant as her younger sister; especially during her imprisonment at the Red Keep. I’m getting better, Arya. I may always be the Little Bird Sandor calls me… however, this Little Bird has the heart and soul of a Direwolf!

 

“Lean forward, Sandor,” she says as she reaches over to pick up the washing cloth from where it is draped over edge of the tub, wetting it in the bathwater, and collecting the cake of soap.

“I already bathed, Sansa,” he rasps about an octave higher than its usual deep bass in nervous surprise as he looks at her through huge eyes from over his shoulder.

At how adorably nervous he looks, she is unable to suppress the smile forming on her lips. “Yes, that may very well be true; but, remember what I told you would happen, yesterday, should you go and call yourself a dog again, Sandor?” she replies with a raised brow.

When he very slowly nods in response, she continues “and here you’ve gone and called yourself a dog quite a number of times since then. Now, you shall be dealt your punishment! That ultimatum was no jest, Sandor Clegane!” she says as she makes sure that her hands are in the path of his vision.

She is purposefully trying to tease him a bit now by slowly—and she hopes possibly even seductively—soaping up the cloth where he can see. Noticing him watching her from out of his peripheral vision, she does not miss his gulp causing the apple of his throat to bob, nor his fists gripping the tub tightly once again. He’s grabbing the tub so hard, in fact, that it’s making the muscles and veins in his arms flex and bulge.

Proud of the effect she thinks she may be having on him, she places the soap back on the table. “Besides Sandor, you actually missed a smear of dirt and grime down the center of your back, anyway; so be a good Hound and lean forward,” she says with a mischievous smile, and with more than just a little bit of blushing. She is quite proud of herself, though, for finding the courage to follow through with this. Having already fed him and washed his hair has obviously helped.

 

Pushing Sandor forward by his shoulder, she can feel the heat his body is emanating from where her small hand is touching his bare skin. The heat he’s producing seems to radiate clear through her own body. Its pooling itself deep inside of her tummy, making it flutter uncontrollably, while she begins feeling her woman’s place start to do that strange throbbing and becoming rather wet again. Oh, Gods… I guess I really should have worn my moonblood cloths after all, she realizes while unconsciously squeezing her thighs together, trying to get any kind of relief she can.

 

Sandor sighs in defeat but completely stiffens the very moment Sansa places the soapy cloth against his back. Deciding to take her time in order to enjoy this experience for as long as possible, she very slowly washes the smear of dirt from down his spine before she begins washing every other inch of his beautiful muscular back that she can appropriately reach. Happy nameday to me!  

 

Knowing that her own scars given to her by Ser Meryn Trant and Ser Boros Blount are actually a bit sensitive, themselves, she makes sure to lighten her touch anytime she nears the silvery white and pink ridges serving as evidence from old battles. With the sheer quantity of scars scattered across the vast landscape of Sandor’s back—of which she can, unfortunately, only see the upper third that’s not hidden beneath the bathwater’s surface—it seems that she is constantly having to ease the cloth over them. So much pain he’s had to endure; some of these scars look to be from wounds not properly tended to by a maester and ended up festering.

While she lovingly bathes all of his back that she can actually reach, she notices him finally beginning to loosen his grip on the tub and actually let’s out a rather content sounding sigh as she works her way closer towards his right shoulder.

Nearing the old burn scars on his left shoulder, though, she wonders how sensitive they actually are, and if her touch will hurt them. “Sandor, will it hurt you if I wash your left shoulder?”

“I thought you said I missed some dirt down the middle of my back; is it suddenly traveling around now?” Oh, Gods… he must be upset!

“I…um… uh, well…” she stammers out, disappointed in herself for upsetting him so. She was hoping to make him feel better by showing him some kindness; but apparently he would rather she didn’t.

Must have been a sigh of annoyance, not contentment, she sadly realizes. She cannot help but wonder now if mayhap she has been so very wrong in reading his actions towards her these last few days.

“Sorry, Sandor,” she quietly and sadly says with a sigh. “I already got that spot, so I’ll stop bothering you now. I… I just thought that you might have enjoyed me continuing; guess I was wrong.”

Feeling her heart slightly constrict with the beginning threat of heartache, she hangs the cloth on the side of the tub and quickly wipes her eyes with her sleeve so that he will hopefully be unable to see her disappointment.

Placing her right hand on the edge of the tub for leverage, Sansa makes to rise to her feet before she suddenly feels a large warm hand lightly encase her small wrist, stilling her movement.

“I was, Sansa,” he quietly rasps once she looks questioningly into his eyes.

“Pardon?”

Letting her wrist go, he says in nearly a whisper “I… I was enjoying it.” 

“You were?” she shyly asks as the beginning pains of heartbreak are slightly diminishing.

“Aye. Just not used to someone wanting to touch me,” he admits, quite shyly. “Not unless they’re trying to kill me, that is.”

Offering him a small smile, she takes a chance and quietly asks “would you like me to continue?”

“Aye. If it… if it please you,” he says, with a slight stutter barely above a whisper and an even slighter blush. He really was enjoying it then. Enough that he wants me to keep doing it, too! Instead of answering him directly, she just smiles, picks up the washing cloth, and wets and soaps it up again seeing as how cold it got draped over the edge of the tub.

“I’m not sure how much feeling your scars have; I won’t hurt you if I touch the scarring on your left shoulder, will I?”

“No Sansa, you won’t hurt me if you touch them. Don’t have a lot of feeling on my left side, but I can tell when my scars are being touched.”

“What kind of feeling do you have in them?” she asks as she finally resumes her previous ministrations and gently sweeps the cloth over his left shoulder to wash it after his confirmation that she won’t hurt him.

She can tell that he is thinking of how to describe what it actually feels like for his scars to be touched, and after a few moments he finally responds. “You know the feeling you get whenever your leg, or something, falls asleep? Before it starts that prickling and tingling feeling?”

“Yes; it feels numb, but you can still feel sensations of touch?”

“Aye. That numb feeling, right before the tingling, is pretty much what I feel whenever my scars are actually being touched; odd feeling, but I’ve gotten used to it. Not like they are exactly touched a whole lot; Elandria, and a couple of barbers back in King’s Landing are the only ones who’ve ever braved touching them. Well, plus the brief moments by you tonight,” he raspingly laughs, which Sansa thinks may be to cover up the fact that he is actually craving to be touched by someone who actually wants to be touching him.

He doesn’t believe a person who would truly want to lovingly touch, kiss, and caress him even exists. He’s wrong, of course—very wrong! He’s got a woman behind him right this very moment who’s dying for that exact opportunity. However, Sansa’s afraid that if she tried to do so right now, he’d once again feel that she was only doing so out of pity.

“Do they ever still hurt you?” she asks, not wanting to allow him to keep mentally dwelling on his incorrect belief that no one could ever want him.

“Aye. That they do. Get random sharp stabbing pains at various times, for no known reason.”

That must be so horrible to keep feeling pain from them so long after being burned.

 

Sansa has noticed that the entire time she was washing his back, the muscles in his shoulders and neck were extremely tight and he never did ease up his tension completely; even after admitting that he was actually enjoying her actions.

Glancing at the table on the right side of the tub and seeing the multitude of bottles provided by the inn, Sansa feels slightly emboldened as she plans her next move. She plans to get her hands against him, and this time, without an annoying washing cloth in the way!

 

After rinsing and ringing the cloth out and draping it over the edge of the tub, Sansa hurriedly goes over to the desk and quickly picks up her hair-fork before going back and sitting on her knees behind Sandor once again. He flinches, yet again, once she starts pulling his hair back and twisting it into a coil, just as he did hers this very morning, causing him to look at her from over his shoulder.

“What are you doing now, Little Bird?” he asks with a furrowed brow.

“Now… I am going to rub your neck and shoulders! But first, I need your hair out of the way,” she says as she weaves the hair-fork through his hair, leaving it in a topknot in order to keep his strands out of her way. She giggles at his mumbling under his breath of how it’s not bad enough that he first had to smell like a girl, now, he’ll be looking like one too.

Seeing such an extremely masculine man wearing a feminine decoration in his hair is rather humorous, she thinks with a huge grin. How absolutely precious he looks! “Once you’re out of the tub and dressed, Sandor, come sit in one of the chairs by the desk and I’ll brush the tangles out of your hair. My precious hair-fork is only on loan to you temporarily!” she teases causing him to chuckle before he, surprisingly, agrees to her demand.

“Hopefully I can manage to work out some of these huge tight knots that are nearly as big as your muscles, themselves!” Sansa says as she reaches for the bottle of oil that she added to their bathwater, pouring a small amount in her hand.

She vigorously rubs her palms together, trying to warm the cool liquid of the aromatic oil as much as possible, before touching him. “Surely your neck and shoulders must ache from the tension, Sandor. Mine are killing me just from seeing how tense yours are!”

“Sansa, you really don’t have to do this. I’m fine,” his insists. However, his insistence is ignored by Sansa, though, as she places her hands on each of his shoulders near the base of his neck.

So unused to being touched as he is, he flinches a bit as her hands rest against him. Even through the oil coating her hands, she can still feel the intense heat of his skin against her palms and fingertips. She begins to firmly squeeze and knead the tightly wound muscles starting near the base of his neck, slowly working her hands outward towards the edges of his broad shoulders.

“I know I don’t have to do this for you, Sandor; but I want to! I… I want to make you feel good,” she says, feeling rather shy all of a sudden. Her face feels like it could nearly spontaneously combust from the heat she feels rising in her neck, cheeks, and ears.

Despite her sudden bashfulness, though, she squares her shoulders, steels her features, and reins in her nerves. “Besides, after everything you have done for me these last three years—preventing me from making potentially lethal mistakes with Joffrey, saving my life quite a number of times, sparing me beatings as often as you could, and ultimately being one of the only people, aside from Lord Tyrion and Shae, who generally cared whether I lived or died—I just feel that you deserve a bit of pampering, is all,” she declares, quite proud of herself for getting all of that out without her voice faltering.

“Plus, you’ll sleep much better if you are relaxed; I personally feel like we have both earned the right to have a relaxing good night’s sleep in a soft, comfortable bed, tonight,” she says thinking of how sore and stiff she has been this last sennight. She honestly wouldn’t mind her own shoulders and neck massaged; she’d never ask Sandor to do such a thing for her, though, as she’d be way too worried of how her body would respond to him touching her so.

However, should he ever offer… well… she just might not have the strength to be able to turn such an offer down!

“The oil I’m using is the same as what’s in the bathwater. It’s made from jasmine, lavender, and chamomile and the combination of the three herbs and flowers are well-known for their ability to relax and soothe tight, aching, sore muscles,” she says while pouring a bit more into in her hands.

After warming the oil in her hands as she did before, she begins to rub her thumbs in firm, circular patterns, pressing into the muscles along the sides of his neck, leading upwards towards the base of his skull. “Please let me know if I hurt you, Sandor… especially near your scars.”

The hardness of his strong muscles are forcing her to use quite a bit more pressure in her fingers than when she used to practice on her late Lord Father, Robb, and even a time or two, on Jon. Both her father and Jon were hesitant in allowing her to practice such a thing on them, at first, being as stoic as the two are; though Robb held no qualms with letting her use him to learn on. However, Sansa’s insistence that she should learn how to make her future Lord Husband relaxed and comfortable after long hours tending his various duties—especially once he came home from any campaigns or battles—had both her father and her half-brother reluctantly agreeing.

Sansa’s practiced several times on the three men over the year prior to the Royal family’s arrival at Winterfell three years ago. She was also quite often in attendance and watched as her Lady Mother rubbed her father’s shoulders, neck, and back many evenings. She attentively listened to any suggestions put forth by either of her two brothers or her parents on the art of massage, until they were all four praising her ability and technique. Now, she’s finally able to use her well-practiced techniques as she intended—on a man she genuinely loves and adores and is praying will become her future Lord Husband.

 

As she works his neck and shoulders over—focusing on the areas where his muscles feel the tensest and with the largest knots—her hands and fingers manage to manipulate one particular area causing him to suddenly let out a loud moan as he hangs his head forward, exposing the length of his neck to her massaging hands. Judging by his verbal reaction, she cannot help but feel proud that her technique seems to be working well for him.

The moans she is pulling forth from his lips only encourage her to keep going. However, the sounds emanating from his chest and throat are also seeming to make her tummy flutter and her woman’s place start to throb and get all tingly, yet again this evening. She does her best to try and ignore how she is feeling, though. She started this wanting to do something kind for him, after all; not to get herself all hot and bothered and yearning for something that she is still not quite yet understanding.

“Does it feel good?” she asks with a surprisingly deep, and rather breathy sounding husky voice that Sansa can barely recognize as her own. There is no way that could have been me! If she didn’t know any better, she would have thought that someone else had come into their room and asked Sandor that question. How—and better yet, why—did my voice sound so… so strange?

“Fuck yes, Sansa,” he says, almost through another moan acting as confirmation.

“Feels incredible, actually,” he admits, making her smile with pride and feeling as if her plan was actually successful.

“If you ever want, or need, this again Sandor… just ask,” she sincerely offers.

“Aye. Might just take you up on that offer sometime. No one’s ever done this for me before.”

 

Believing she has successfully worked out most, if not all, of the tension she could feel knotted up in his neck and shoulders, she takes up the washing cloth that’s now fairly dry from hanging over the tub’s edge, and wipes off as much of the excess oil remaining on his back that will come off.

By the way the candles and firelight reflect against the oil, making it glisten, she notices how it is really setting off the ripples of his muscles, essentially making them look even more well-defined than they were beforehand; if that were even possible. The Warrior, Himself, could envy Sandor’s physique, Sansa thinks before admonishing herself for such a blasphemous thought.

“Alright Sandor,” she says as she makes to stand up and stretch her stiff legs from sitting on her knees for over an hour and a half. “I think that’s about as good as I can do in just one sitting. You best get out of the tub, now; lest you shrivel up even more wrinkly than a raisin!” she teases with a laugh, drawing forth one from him as well.

As Sansa goes to sit back on their bed so that he can get out of the water, dry himself, and get dressed, Sandor suddenly speaks up.

“Thank you, Sansa… I… I appreciate your kindness to me, Little Bird—just not used to it,” he says a bit awkwardly as she hears water sloshing from him getting out of the bath.

“Well, Sandor… I guess I’ll just have to make sure you get used to it, then; won’t I?” she asks as she picks up her embroidery and begins adding stitches to her design once again.

“I… I’d like that,” he quietly and shyly says with a sigh, his voice laced with hopefulness, thus making her smile as she feels her own hope growing like a weed.

Yes… I do believe it is almost time. Soon… very soon!

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven – Brave and Gentle and Strong

SANDOR

Sandor only thought that he was confused this morning. Confusion stemming from Sansa’s apparent decision to ignore his pathetic attempt at a kiss that almost was the night before had left him scratching his head. Now though, he is so bewildered that he doesn’t know whether he should be oiling his swords or sharpening his armor!

Normally Sandor would rather enjoy the mundane task of tending to his blades and armor; however, he is finding it nearly impossible to keep his mind on the task at hand. This lack of concentration is caused, of course, by none other than one Sansa Stark.

By the way his Little Bird is so nonchalantly sprawled out across the bed while working on her needlework, and slowly swinging her bent up legs bared at her knees from where her shift has slid down, he is just unable to concentrate. Fuck, I think even Renly would have had trouble concentrating!

Not only that, though, but he is also trying to keep his cock from damn near bursting the laces in his breeches. He is sincerely grateful that he decided to dress in his looser fitting woolen breeches after bathing, instead of a pair of his usual snugger fitting leather ones. Since they are not riding tonight, he also decided to forgo wearing smallclothes, as he generally only wears them when he’s going to be spending a considerable length of time in the saddle. Nothing worse than having your balls chafe from sweating—the linen smallclothes help to wick moisture away from his skin.

 

Putting his aching cock, befuddled mind, and the lovely vision of pure perfection in front of him that is Sansa aside, Sandor can honestly say that he has never had a more pleasant day in his miserable sodded life. Sure, he may have completely humiliated himself during his bath—humiliation caused by not only telling Sansa all of the gruesome and gory details of his burn treatments, but by also fucking crying in front of her as if he were some buggering damned pup, still on the teat!

Up until that humiliating display, though, he had rather enjoyed soaking in the way too small, but thankfully still hot, bath; despite the sweet Sansa smelling water. Truth be told, he rather liked the thought of sharing her bathwater. After all, that very same bathwater just fully engulfed a completely naked Little Bird only minutes before.

The thought of something that had touched every inch of her perfect body was then also touching his own nude form stirred something in him, essentially heating his blood. He knows that is the closest he will ever get to having her nakedness against his own.

Mayhap it is childish to think that way; in fact, he knows it is. But knowing how he cannot have her in truth tends to have a way of making him desperate enough to cherish any type of connection with her he can; even if it is a rather pathetically foolish notion.

A similar thought entered his mind once Sansa began feeding him a part of that nameday treat he asked Tansy to have made for her. When Sansa so boldly sat on her knees on the left-hand side of the tub, with nothing more than a bit of soapy water hiding his cock from her view—and thus preventing her from becoming a rather educated maiden—it took a few moments for the initial shock to wear off enough for him to register the spoon being held up to his mouth.

He surprisingly noticed Sansa’s eyes roving across his bared arms, shoulders, and the small portion of his chest visible from the water a few times, as well. Her eyes never lingered for very long, though. He only saw their movement from his own peripheral vision, as if she were trying to look when she thought he wouldn’t notice. He noticed, of course. Sandor Clegane has not survived the number of battles and skirmishes he has by being unobservant.

He also noticed that her cheeks tinged pink once her eyes drifted lower towards the water’s surface. Being the filthy dog that he is, he would like to believe the blush he saw was due to Sansa actually picturing what was hidden beneath the water and, if so, hoping that she may have liked what came to her mind. But that’s only if the innocent and maidenly Little Bird actually knows what a cock even looks like, of course.

 

When Sandor took the first proffered bite of the tart, for a split second the thought that he was eating from the same spoon as Sansa thrilled him. He couldn’t help but briefly wonder if a part of the sweetness he had detected was actually the taste of Sansa, herself, seeing as how that same spoon had just been inside of her own mouth only moments before. Knowing how he will never get the chance to discover what her kisses taste like directly from the source—having already tried last night and failing miserably—he cannot help but sadly realize how that was the closest he will ever come to finding out whether or not Sansa Stark actually tastes like lemons.

Unfortunately though, with the treat being a lemon tart, it was more than likely it he was tasting; not the essence of his Little Bird. It isn’t very likely he will get a second chance to get a taste of her; unless she takes it upon herself to feed her dog once again, that is.

 

Things were going fairly smoothly up until she happened to see how food tends to dribble out of the huge damn gaping hole between his lips. If her just seeing that wasn’t embarrassing enough for him, in true Little Bird fashion, Sansa decided to wipe away the tart filling with her thumb, herself. Of course, as soon as he felt her thumb against his bottom lip, he instantly froze.

He was so worried that she would be sickened upon feeling the foreign texture of his ruined lips. The left side of his mouth doesn’t even feel like real lips—the scarred tissue is slick and smooth to the touch towards the furthermost left edge of his mouth, and is actually rather rough in the center where it meets the normal part.

He tried not to watch her, as he didn’t want to see the disgust on her face. But when he saw her raise her hand up to her mouth from out of the corner of his eye, he turned to face her and suddenly found that he could not tear his attention away.

The sight before him became even more surprising, though, when Sansa suckled the seeped out tart filling from the tip of her thumb. Her action caused him to disbelievingly remind her of how she just ate something that had been in his own mouth, only moments before, thus making her blush.  

A part of him briefly wondered whether or not she even thought of that—if it ever even crossed her mind that she had essentially just tasted a part of him now, as well. Sure, they’ve been sharing waterskins for days, but the mouths of the waterskins only ever touch their lips. Now though, they’ve both tasted something that has previously been inside the other’s mouth.

However, something inside him must have decided that he had not yet been embarrassed enough in front of Sansa. Suddenly, he found himself relaying the painful, miserable moons he spent healing from Gregor’s handiwork, as if he were in some kind of a trance. He had absolutely no control over—nor did he have any recollection of—what he was saying; his mind was making his mouth speak out on its own accord. It was Sandor’s subconscious talking; not he, himself.

In fact, it wasn’t until Sansa spoke up with a thick, tear laden voice that he felt the stickiness of tears drying on his own cheeks, thus making him realize how he humiliated himself so completely. When he asked her what he had spoken of, he was terrified to think that he may have said something to disgust her.

Unfortunately though, she confirmed his worst fear and he couldn’t even blame his big fucking mouth on being drunk. He wanted nothing more than to drown himself at that very moment and was silently cursing the much too small tub for not being big enough to allow him to do so.

This now makes three separate times that he has embarrassed himself in front of Sansa—twice now in two godsdamn fucking days. At least last night he was able to get away from her before she saw him pathetically crying at the realization of how wrong he was in thinking Sansa would have actually accepted a kiss from his scarred lips. He just hates to imagine how weak she must think he is by now. I’ve gone from vicious Hound to docile lapdog in seven fucking days.

 

When Sansa told him that she would go sit back on the bed, thus allowing him to finish bathing and washing his hair, he heard himself admitting to her that he wouldn’t be able to wash it, unless he felt like flooding the entire damn room. He isn’t sure why he told her that; how many more times must he insist on humiliating himself in front of her?

It’s almost as if he is subconsciously trying to sabotage any possible chance of something miraculously ever transpiring between the two of them—mayhap to avoid the inevitable of rejection. Fuck it; I guess adding one more nail to the coffin containing my manhood won’t make much of a difference, at any rate. The Little Bird is not meant for a hideous dog like me—she was made to be a godsdamn queen.

That final nail got hammered in fully, though, when Sansa decided to take it upon herself to wash his hair; no matter how much he tried stopping her. As she pulled his hair back over to the right side of his head, he tried so fucking hard not to visualize the frightful disgust he just knew had to be painted across her face. His scars were on display to her more than they have ever been before. That thought alone was enough to have him slightly trembling.

After all, he knows how nauseatingly repulsive his scars are—he’s the one who’s lived with them for nearly twenty-two years, now. The one who’s received the curious, yet horrified, stares and the shrieks of pure terror from nearly everyone he’s ever encountered. If Sansa felt the inclination to retch at the sight of his ruined scalp and missing ear from such a close proximity, she sure hid it well.

Surprisingly though, when he felt her flatten her hand against his missing ear to keep the soapy water out of it, it is as if her touch was the balm for his humiliated soul. Much to his disbelief, he actually even began feeling his embarrassment somewhat lessening a bit.

And when her fingers lightly began massaging his scalp where the ruined flesh meets healthy, his embarrassment began lessening even more. In fact, Sandor actually felt his heart swelling up inside his chest with how gentle she was being with him.

Sure, the Little Bird is all about kindness, compassion, and gentleness, but by the way she not only covered his earhole, and soothingly massaged his scalp, without shying away from having to touch his scars, her earlier insistence of her saying she is not bothered by them began to ring true.

Mayhap she truly doesn’t mind them anymore… but, could that be true, though? Is Sansa truly able to accept me… scars and all? Or is Sandor only seeing what a desperate and lonely dog wants to see?

 

Knowing how Sansa was going out of her way to be as gentle as possible, touched him; especially considering how extra sensitive Sandor’s skin is in the areas where his scarred tissue blends into unscarred. The nerves in those areas seem to be closer to the surface of his skin, thus making it much more sensitive there than in the thick of his scars. The Little Bird’s feather-light touches actually felt… well, rather nice.

So nice, in fact, that he could almost get lost in the belief that her gentle touches were actually caresses—as if she was wanting to touch him. A notion he’d give anything to discover was true.

In all honesty, Sandor felt himself wishing that these new sensations Sansa was making him feel would linger just a bit longer. After all, since his sister died, this is the first time he has ever been touched in such a kind manner. Or honestly, just by someone who wasn’t trying to kill him.

It was such a queer experience for him, though—being touched with kindness and compassion, as opposed to malice and anger.

Sandor wasn’t lying, either, when he quite shyly confessed to Sansa that he would like to get used to her kindness towards him. He would. Kindness and compassion is something he has been desperately craving from someone, other than Elandria, since the day half of his face was melted off.

Of course, he never actually planned on admitting such a thing, though; it will only lead to further his heartache, after all. Sandor knows that he would only end up falling even more hopelessly in love with Sansa; if that were even possible, that is. The Little Bird showing her abused dog a bit of kindness does not mean she actually returns his love. She never will and he knows that.

Still though, he is finding it increasingly harder to remember that fact, and harder still to want to remember it. It is getting more difficult to keep his hopes down; especially with days like today.

By the way the Little Bird so convincingly played the role of his loving and doting ‘wife’ downstairs—even going so far as to smile and look at him as if his face isn’t a ruin—at times makes it hard for him not to believe it isn’t true. That he isn’t ugly and that Sansa isn’t truly his Lady Wife.

Of course, as soon as he runs his hands down his face or pushes his hair back out of his eyes and feels the mass of twisted leathery flesh, reality hits him like a gauntlet to the gut. He is hideous; Sansa is beautiful. He may belong to her, but she most definitely is not his.

Sandor isn’t sure how Sansa did it downstairs, either. How could she have seemed so genuinely happy to be thought of, and actually called, the Hound’s wife? And that incident with the whore—Sansa couldn’t have really been jealouscould she?

No. No way. She couldn’t have been… I mean seriously dog, how could she? Have you even looked at yourself lately?

But then again… with the way Sansa held him so tightly against her side while looking into his eyes after very publically declaring him as both hers and by adamantly stating that she would not be ‘sharing’ him, he cannot help but wonder what the possessiveness she displayed actually means. Or if it even means anything.

Sandor also couldn’t interpret what was being said by her beautiful blue eyes. It’s a look he has received from her quite a number of times lately, but hells if he knows what it means. He knows what he wishes it means, of course; but since when do the wishes of a desperate, ugly dog ever come true?

No. Sansa Stark was not looking at him with love in her eyes, and she most definitely was not jealous over some poxy whore!

Although, he will admit that he was rather enjoying watching the interaction between Sansa and the whore downstairs. For the first time in his life, Sandor actually allowed himself to briefly believe that he had a woman who honestly, truly loved him—a woman who was even willing to fight for him.

Fuck’s sake; that’s just ridiculous… even for you, dog, he inwardly mocks himself, trying not to laugh out loud at the sheer absurdity, and just barely succeeding.

Of course that foolish notion didn’t hang around very long—the relief in the whore’s eyes at the realization that she would not be having to fuck him tonight, instantly brought him back to his senses. Sansa was only playing her part as his ‘wife.’ Had she let him go off with some whore, it would not have seemed all that believable that they were truly married.

Even though a large majority of men who visit brothels are indeed married, most men do not take their wives along with them; unless they are into that kinky shite, of course. Sandor will never understand why a man would waste his coin on a whore when he has a perfectly good wife he can fuck every damn night, for free! Ungrateful fucking bastards don’t know how godsdamn lucky they are to even have a wife. 

By the way the whore couldn’t even bear to look him in the eye, despite the buggering bitch brazenly sitting herself in his lap, he was reminded of just how quickly Sansa’s eyes slammed shut last night once he finally got up the nerve to try and kiss her.

How could he forget? The Little Bird rejected his ugly arse last night. He’s just her guard—her friend—nothing more; best he remember that, too.

Sansa Stark does not love you, she does not want you, she was not jealous over you, he declares to himself with a disappointed sigh that apparently gets the Little Bird’s attention from where she is still laying across the bed, working on her needlework.

“Are you alright, Sandor?”

“Aye, Little Bird, I’m fine,” he dejectedly says, trying to ignore how heartbreakingly beautiful she looks in such a relaxed position; as if she hasn’t a single worry in the world. The Little Bird doesn’t have to fear for her life, nor worry about any threats, so long as she has her faithful Hound willing to lay down his life to protect her; a fact of which she very clearly knows.

No. Sansa may never love him, but he can at least pride himself with the knowledge of her quite obviously feeling safe and comfortable in his presence; and that will have to suffice.

“Are you certain? You sound rather… sad…. Is there anything you wish to talk about?”

“Nah, Sansa; nothing really to talk about. I think I’m just a bit tired, is all,” he uncharacteristically lies, knowing good and well that telling her the truth would only make things much, much worse. He cannot and will not tell Sansa that she is what he is sad about—that she is what he would be talking about. And definitely not to her, herself!

What would I say, anyway? Be all ‘oh, no, Little Bird; nothing’s wrong. It’s just that I’m so godsdamn in love with you that it fucking hurts! And by the way you can so easily pretend to actually love my hideous damn arse, and even actually look happy to be called my ‘wife,’ only makes things hurt all the more, seeing as how that’ll never happen.’

This is especially true when it sometimes feels as if Sansa is still pretending to love him, even when they are alone; be it out in the woods or this here very room. It almost feels as if she is continuing with their ‘cover story,’ even when they have no need of one. Who knew that Sansa Stark would be so adept at mummery; the Little Bird could excel as a player in a traveling troupe of mummers.

“Well, honestly Sandor, I am a little tired as well; I think it may be past our bedtime,” she says while covering a yawn confirming her tiredness.  “We normally would have been asleep for a couple of hours by now; it’s bound to be approaching the Hour of the Bat, I would think,” she says while collecting her needlework and climbing off the bed.

“So, how about I go ahead and brush out your hair so we can go to bed and get some sleep?” Putting her needlework up, she grabs her hairbrush and drags one of the wooden chairs next to the desk out towards the middle of the room, not even waiting for his answer. “Come sit in the chair, here, so I can reach you easier.”

Having just finished sharpening his blades moments ago, anyway, he silently puts his whetstone back in a saddlebag and sheathes all of his steel, placing them on the desk, save his longsword he’ll keep near his bedroll while he sleeps. As soon as he sits in the chair Sansa positioned for him, she immediately plucks her hair-fork from where she pinned his hair up earlier, and runs her fingers through his strands, unwinding the coil.

“Your hair is still a little damp,” she says, continuing to run her fingers through its length. “I know I probably should have removed my hair-fork a little earlier to let your hair air dry, but I didn’t want to let water get in your ear. Plus the linen shirt you’re wearing would have soaked clear through.” Sandor honestly forgot the thing was still stuck in his hair or he would have just removed it himself.

“Even though the room is of a comfortable temperature thanks to the fire, I will feel much better if your hair is dry so that you will not be going to bed with wet hair. I definitely do not want you to become ill on me.” Fetching the drying cloth he used after his bath, Sansa proceeds to wring out and squeeze the excess of water still lingering from the length of his hair, before toweling away any moisture that may possibly be remaining.

Running her fingers through his locks again, she hums in approval, seemingly satisfied with how much water she managed to wick away from his strands. Grabbing her brush, she gently pulls all of his hair over to his right side and carefully begins brushing out the tangles.

“I’ll try to brush out the majority of your hair away from your scars as much as I can, so as not to hit them with the bristles,” she tells him as she slowly works the brush through his hair.

“It would just kill me if I hurt you, Sandor,” she very quietly states, almost in a whisper. What does she mean by that?

 

The way that Sansa is so gently brushing his hair, even going so far as to hold his hair up away from his scalp anytime the bristles snag on a tangle in order to pick it out, reminds him of how his sister used to care for him as a pup. He understands—and truly does appreciate—how Sansa is purposefully keeping his hair over on the right-hand side of his scalp so she won’t hit his scars with the brush, but still… he hates knowing how close she is to his uncovered scarred scalp. She doesn’t act like the sight of his scars repulse her, but he knows they must; fuck, they repulse him!

Trying to ignore the thought that she has seen more of his scars in just three short fucking hours than she ever has before, he realizes just how good it actually feels to have another person brush your hair. Not only are the bristles massaging the good side of his scalp, but each stroke of the brush through the length of his hair feels rather relaxing. Sandor’s never truly taken his time to brush out his hair as thoroughly as Sansa seems to be doing—it isn’t like he actually has a whole lot of hair to really worry about, after all.

 

Moving to stand slightly in front of him on his right-hand side, Sansa begins to part his hair, using her fingers to help separate his strands into her intended designated sections. Sandor cannot help but hopefully wonder, by the way she is arranging his hair, if she will be able to successfully hide his scars better than he, himself, has ever been able to do. It would be nice if she didn’t have to be subjected to them any more tonight, considering how she can probably recall every single revolting ridge and crevice by now.

As she begins brushing his hair down on the right side of the part she made, Sandor cannot help noticing how the corners of her lips are upturning just a bit, forming a very slight smile—a smile that he would love to press his own lips to. As if she can read his thoughts, Sansa darts a glance down into his eyes—sparkling blue meeting silver grey—while slightly blushing and biting her bottom lip, making her look more beautiful than ever.

Apparently satisfied with the outcome of the right side of his head, Sandor watches the innocently seductive sway of her svelte hips and full, firm teats through the thin fabric of her sleeping shift as she walks around the front of him to stand on his left. He is rather surprised that she chose to wear such a thin garment in front of him making him curious if she has even noticed how transparent the fabric truly is. I wonder if I should tell her just how easily I can see how prettily pink her nipples are through her shift?

As Sansa reaches up, with both her left hand and the brush, to begin bringing his parted hair over towards the left side of his face—essentially causing her left teat to rise up a bit and bringing it deliciously closer to his face—he decides to just keep his big mouth shut!

Shut about how transparent her shift truly is, and also shut as to not try suckling on said slowly approaching, and sadly linen shielded, nipple into his rather eager mouth. Instead, he simply enjoys the view as he tries to will his stiffening cock from pitching a rather large tent in his breeches.

Fuck… she’s going to be the bloody death of me, yet! But damn; what a way to go, he thinks as he tries to keep drool from dribbling out of the gap between his lips. The realization of how he’d only have to lean his head forward a couple of short inches before her linen shrouded nipple grazes his lips is fucking with his mind and testing his restraint.

With a bashful smile playing on her lips, and a blush once again returning to her porcelain cheeks, Sandor briefly begins to wonder if perhaps the innocent maiden known as Sansa Stark isn’t quite as ‘innocent’ as she lets on. If mayhap his Little Bird truly knows what she is doing to him, and is actually rather enjoying this torture she is inflicting upon him.

Or mayhap she is noticing the increasing bulge between his legs, instead, and truly is as innocent as she seems. Mayhap that blush he sees is due to her realization that she is the cause of his stiffening erection, seeing as how there is no one else in the room with them.  

 

Finally feeling some of his hair falling into place over the twisted bulk of his scars, Sandor feels as if Sansa may have actually been able to cover them just as well as he had hoped. However, she also seems fairly determined to keep his hair from in front of his left eye. Generally, he would try to cover the huge knot of scarred tissue that makes up his left eyebrow; now though, he feels rather exposed without his hair shielding it from view.

“There; all finished,” she says as she smiles at him with that same look in her eyes that she gave him downstairs—the look that he cannot decipher—making him suddenly forget how exposed he feels. He feels her tenderly smoothing her hand down the back of his head, assumingly to smooth his hair down. However, it almost feels rather intimate, though—as if she is slightly petting him. And if he didn’t know any better—topped with that look in her eyes—he could almost believe that she was doing so with… affection! As if Sansa’s pretending to love him all of this time isn’t truly pretend, after all.

But… that couldn’t possibly be true… could it? Cou-could Sansa truly be feeling something… for…for me? Sandor wishfully hopes while stealing another glance at her, only to find her still looking at him, and feeling her hand continuing to gently caress the back of his head.

Does he even dare to allow himself that wishful thought, though? Should he allow himself to… to hope? He knows he shouldn’t. He knows doing so will only hurt him even more in the long run. As it is now, he is about two heartbeats away from relinquishing any bit of his manhood he has left, dropping to his knees in front of her, and begging her to love him.

Unfortunately for him, though, even if Sandor did take the route surest to turn him into yet another cockless Lord Varys, as soon as he gets Sansa back to her family—and all of those comely little lordlings start flocking around her—she will forget all about her ugly, scarred guard dog. Not that he could blame the Little Bird, of course; it’s what she has always wanted, after all.

But for now, though… mayhap it truly isn’t so bad that he lost the wager Sansa made with him this morning, and now has to go to that sept with her tomorrow.

Mayhap hedging his bets by actually trying to pray to the non-existent gods couldn’t hurt? Might not help—well, make that probably won’t help—but no… it certainly couldn’t hurt things if he thought to ask for at least a chance with her. Of course, it is highly unlikely his prayers would ever be answered—if they are truly even heard, that is.

However, for once in his life, Sandor would like to know what it feels like to be wanted, and mayhap even loved… no matter how brief the experience. Before he ends up dying all alone, surrounded by empty flagons and discarded wineskins, he would like to know what the love of a woman actually feels like. To finally understand what it is that those damn minstrels and bards sing about so often—and he wants to experience it with Sansa Stark.

So, fuck it! He will allow himself this small sliver of hope at winning Sansa’s love; no matter how insanely far-fetched the notion truly is, nor how brief it would possibly be. But of course, that’s only if the Little Bird does, or could, ever… ever love me, he thinks, trying not to laugh at his own pathetic stupidity. He’s honestly barely even able to form the wish in his mind, due to the sheer absurdity of it.

 

Seemingly completely unaware of the war Sandor is silently waging with himself, Sansa’s dulcet voice awakens him from mentally planning his strategy on a futile attempt at conquering her heart.

“Sandor, do you think there is any chance you could order another bath tomorrow?” she asks as she is gathering the gown and shift she wore earlier today. “I was thinking that I could mayhap use it to wash our clothes while you are busy with your errands.”

“Might not have to. Many inns will wash anything you leave outside your door overnight.”

“They will?” she asks with hopeful eyes and smile, to which he nods in response. “Seriously, Sandor… you’re not jesting with me, are you?”

“Aye, Little Bird; I’m serious,” he says, unable to contain the slight chuckle at seeing her rather adorable look of disbelief. “I’ll go downstairs and ask. Don’t see one here, but usually there’s a labeled basket, or something, in each room for your clothes to be placed outside the door. The label is to keep guest’s loads from getting mixed up,” he says as he stands and stretches. “The little lass may have just forgotten to put the one for this room back in here; she looked pretty worn ragged, if you ask me.”

“I did notice that she looked rather exhausted,” Sansa agrees with very obvious sympathy for the little waif showing on her face. “The poor child couldn’t be any older than Arya, I don’t think,” she adds with a far-off mournful look in her eyes while staring out of the window. Sandor remembers how seldom his Little Bird got on with her wolf-bitch younger sister; though that doesn’t mean she doesn’t miss and worry about the little hellion.

He wasn’t lying the night they left when he told Sansa that Arya may still be alive. Out of the two Stark girls, Arya was the one he feels he’d not have had to worry about quite as much; had she actually stayed in King’s Landing. Of course, the little chit’s big unchecked mouth would have probably gotten her into a heap of shite with Joffrey and Cersei, he reasons, realizing that despite her young age, essentially being just a child, she was probably safer in the wild on her own than in the Lion’s Den with her caged sister.

“If the washerwomen are already done for the evening, we can just leave our clothes out tomorrow night. However, if the Peach doesn’t offer laundry services, then I’ll order you the bath,” he says, heading towards the door, not even bothering to pull on his boots for such a short distance.

“I won’t be far from the stairwell, Little Bird, so you won’t have to bar the door. Anyone would have to come through me to reach you, at any rate, and I’d never let that happen,” he says, giving her what he hopes isn’t too ugly of a half-smile.

“Well Sandor, they would have to be absolute fools to even attempt to get past my fearsome Hound; you are the best warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms, after all,” she says with a beautiful, yet rather shy smile, and even prettier blush that’s reaching all the way to her scalp, even reddening her ears.

She said ‘my fearsome Hound.’ Sansa fucking Stark called me her Hound…! That… surely that has to mean something… right? he sincerely hopes. He quickly closes his agape mouth, not even realizing at first of how his jaw dropped clear to the wooden planked floor.

However, even if what Sansa has just said actually did, by some fucking miracle, mean that she has developed—or is developing—some sort of romantic feelings for him, he is unable act on it. If anything is to ever transpire between the two of them, it will have to be from Sansa’s doing—of that he is absolutely certain!

After her rejecting him last night, he has sworn to himself to never try making a move on her again. After all, he seriously felt like dying from the failed experience, and was sincerely tempted to slit his own damn throat last night.  

Of course, Sansa making a move on him is almost as laughable as her actually loving him. He knows deep down that neither one will ever happen; but, a small part of him is still desperate enough to at least hope for it.

“Do you mind if I collect your soiled clothing from out of your saddlebags?”

“Nah, I don’t mind. Nothing in there you shouldn’t see; you already got your gift,” he replies, eliciting a warm, sincere smile from her. He’ll never tire of her smiles; especially when directed at him. “I’ll be right back, Little Bird.”

As Sansa kneels in front of his saddlebags, Sandor makes to head downstairs. Drawing the door closed behind him, he pulls it to, but does not let it latch. As he told Sansa, he won’t be far from the stairwell to worry about her safety.

He immediately sees a small basket with rumpled up clothing sitting outside the door of the room directly across from theirs, confirming his telling Sansa of the inn more than likely washing their laundry.

 

As soon as he reaches the bottom of the stairs, the same young servant girl that originally prepared their room and bath quickly approaches him, looking slightly less tired than before. Must’ve gotten a nap in somewhere. “Is there somethin’ amiss, milord?” she shyly and worriedly squeaks out while avoiding eye contact and wringing her hands.

“Not a lord, lass. And no, nothing’s wrong… my… my wife was just wondering if there is a basket we can put our clothes in to be washed?” Fuck, it sounds strange, but yet so damn nice, to get to say ‘wife;’ especially when referring to my Little Bird. If only it were true, he internally sighs to himself.

“Oh, no! I’m so sorry ser; I must ‘ave forgot’n ta place it back in yer room. One moment, please.”

“Not a ser, either lass,” he replies to her back as she hurries towards the kitchens. Quickly returning with a small wicker basket, he sees a green ribbon tied to the handle, assumedly so the washerwomen will know which room the basket belongs to, just as he told Sansa.

“Is there anythin’ else I can get fer ya?”

“Nah, that’ll be all; thank you lass,” he replies, taking the basket from her and heading back towards his ‘wife.’

 

As soon as he makes it back to their room and opens the door, he cannot help but just stop and stare at the sight before him. Since Sandor isn’t wearing his boots, Sansa must not have heard his return. Still on her knees in front of his bags, she pulls out the tunic he wore earlier today and shakes it open. But, things suddenly turn rather… curious.

Unexpectedly, he sees her holding his tunic up before burying her face into it. The fuck’s she doing? Just watching her seemingly breath his scent in for a few moments, his curiosity finally gets the best of him.  

“Little Bird? What on earth are you doing?” he asks, causing her to drop his tunic as if it were on fire, quickly scoot back a bit, and start blushing redder than he has ever seen her get, before suddenly looking his direction.

“Oh! You’re… you’re back… I uh…I didn’t hear you come in. I…I was just… um… was just trying to see which of your clothes needed… um, needed washing, is all,” she stammers out, unable to keep eye-contact, while her face turns, surprisingly, even redder. She’s fucking lying! But… why?

“That’s the tunic I wore today, Sansa; don’t you remember?” he asks with his good brow slightly furrowed. He’s wanting to see if she’ll continue to lie or if she’ll actually tell him what she was truly doing, because he is so damned confused as to why she’d be smelling his clothing. He knows he must have stunk pretty damn bad since they hadn’t been able to bath in the last few days. Sandor loves the way Sansa smells, but he seriously doubts she loves his scent!

“Well, um, you… you have two different tan colored tunics,” she begins while holding up the two items to illustrate her point. “I just wasn’t sure if… if this one… was the one you wore today or… or not,” she replies as her blush is now extending down her neck and chest, making him feel as if she may still be lying.

However, her excuse seems so plausible that he figures she must be telling the truth. Although, that still doesn’t explain why she buried her face into it for several moments. Surely a simple whiff would have sufficed!

Figuring that is the only explanation she will likely give him, and not entirely certain if she is being truthful or not, he sets the basket down on the floor next to her. Sansa quickly throws the offending tunic in question into the basket, before covering it with the rest of their collected laundry, as if she is desperately trying to hide it from him. Taking the newly filled basket back from her, he reopens the door and places it outside their room just as one of the washerwomen arrives upstairs to begin collecting each guests loads.

Closing and barring the door for the last time tonight, Sandor turns around in time to see Sansa stand and stretch her arms way over her head, causing her back to arch out towards him. Taking advantage of her eyes closing while she stretches, he feels his mouth watering and his stiffening cock twitch in his breeches by the way her delectable pink nipples are nearly completely visible through the thin fabric of her shift. Despite not having a completely unobstructed view of them, he can still see how Sansa’s nipples have firmly pebbled up, as if begging for attention. Attention that he would quite happily give to them—undivided!

Letting his gaze quickly travel down the length of her body before she opens her eyes and catches him hungrily ogling her, his cock goes from twitching to throbbing upon noticing how well he can see her long, shapely legs silhouetted from where she’s standing in front of the lit fireplace.

He’s dreamt about those very same lissome limbs wrapping around him so many times that he can very nearly feel her silky smooth thighs sliding against his flanks. He must admit, the sight before him is far better than any of the fantasies he’s ever conjured up, though.

Eyes hastily continuing their southward journey, he notices that her shift falls to just the middle of her shins, leaving delicately thin, dainty ankles and perfectly shaped narrow bare feet exposed. Oh, Seven holy fucking Hells! Even her damn toes are beautiful, Sandor amusingly thinks upon seeing the adorable alabaster appendages. Is there anything not gorgeous about Sansa Stark?

Feeling as though she is about to open her eyes, he quickly turns to face away from her before he feels the unavoidable urge to stretch his own limbs and back. Damn, I’ve heard of yawns being contagious; never thought stretching was, too, he muses while doing as Sansa has just done.

Palms flat against the high wattle and daub ceiling that’s easily reachable with his extreme height, he uses the tension it affords him to flex and stretch his broad shoulders and back. Shoulders feeling considerably less stiff, and even quite a bit more flexible than they normally are, Sandor realizes that the rather surprising massage Sansa gave him a couple of hours ago must have truly helped. He still cannot believe, though, that Sansa did such a thing for him. The act did require her hands, rather intimately, touching his bare skin, after all. However, he did thoroughly enjoy the experience… immensely!

Sandor has never had anyone do such a thing for him before, just as he told Sansa. The barbers back in King’s Landing never even bothered asking if he would like them to perform the service on him. He knows how it is traditionally offered when a man pays for a shave and a hair-cut, but he figures the barbers must not have wanted to be around or touch him more, nor for any longer, than was absolutely necessary.

However, if he would have known just how incredible it felt to receive a massage—plus how it seems to have even improved the range of motion in his left scarred shoulder where the skin is tighter—he would have probably just requested it done himself, a time or two!  

Even though a male barber’s hands would be much stronger, and therefore able to knead his dense, rock-hard muscles with greater ease than Sansa’s small, delicate hands, Sandor just somehow knows that a massage by one of them would pale significantly in comparison to the one his Little Bird so sweetly gave to him. He can still feel the heat from her therapeutic touch, searing right into his flesh—a burn he welcomes and wishes to feel again and again and again. The words Sansa said when he told her that she needn’t do such a thing for him are still ringing in his ears, as well. ‘I know I don’t have to do this for you, Sandor; but I want to. I… I want to make you feel good.’

It was the ‘I want to make you feel good’ that caused his stomach to flip-flop in his gut, nearly making his heart stop, before it began pounding out a frantic rhythm. He didn’t know what the hells she meant by that, but he sure knew what it sounded like. For a very brief instant, Sandor truly believed that Sansa was trying to tell him that she cared about him—romantically.

That’s why, when she added that she felt he ‘deserved it’ for all that he has done for her the last three years, such as saving her from getting raped and killed, he realized right away—while his hopes instantly died as if Joffrey, himself, shot them down with that damned crossbow of his—that she was only doing such a thing because she felt that she owed him.

She was only ‘thanking’ her sworn shield; nothing more. It was exactly the same as when she held him and kissed his cheek, this very morning, as her way of saying ‘thank you’ for her nameday gift.

However, despite knowing how all of her actions toward him these last few days are just her way of repaying him for saving her so many times, Sandor still wants to hope that there could eventually be something… more… between them… one day. After all, they’ll be alone together for at least another two moons before getting her back to her family; that’s two moons to hope for a miracle. Anything could happen in that length of time.

He knows that he could never consummate any kind of relationship with Sansa; of course, that’s only if a relationship ever even comes to fruition. Sansa would have to remain a maiden so that her family can sell her off to some Northern lordling in trade for more swords. So, even though Sandor may never be able to physically express his love to Sansa, he could die a happy dog to just receive a third of the love and desire he has for her, in return from her.

 

Walking over to the chair she had him sit in when she brushed his hair, he picks it up and places it back against the wall, next to the desk from which it came. Hearing Sansa behind him trying to silence her second yawn, he turns to face her as she speaks up.

“Don’t know about you, Sandor, but your Little Bird is ready to roost herself in that huge feathery nest!” He cannot help chuckling at her play on words while also feeling secretly hopeful by the way Sansa has just called herself his Little Bird.

However, just as Sansa, herself, said this very morning, Sandor is the only person who ever calls her Little Bird, so he is fairly certain she is only meaning it due to his pet name for her. Still though, it does sound promising….

After watching her fluttering about the room and blowing out all of the lit candles, save the ones on the two bedside tables, Sansa crawls into the large feather bed and pulls the linens, woolen blanket, and furs up around her. Sandor silently grabs his longsword and his bedroll, unrolls it, and places them both in front of the door.

Not only would someone have to break the barred solid oak door down, but they would also have to go through both the Hound and his steel, before ever even making it across the threshold to his Little Bird. When it comes to Sansa’s safety, the Hound goes off-leash and turns vicious guard dog; needless to say, she is perfectly safe!

As soon as he lays down on his bedroll, Sansa speaks up. “Sandor? What are you doing down there on the floor?”

“Going to sleep?” he responds, looking across the room at her with his one eyebrow raised, confused by her question. Surely that should be obvious… shouldn’t it?

“I see that, silly; but why are you on the floor?”

“Well, where else would you have me sleep?” he asks, wondering if she is telling him that he should have gotten his own room.

“Why, in the bed, of course!” Sansa states with a look on her face saying that Sandor has just asked the stupidest question in all of Westerosi history—mayhap even all of Essos, as well!

Wait… what? Sansa really wants me to share the bed with her? he incredulously wonders, knowing good and well that sleeping in an actual bed with his Little Bird would be an entirely different thing than just sleeping in bedrolls next to each other.

“There is plenty of room for both of us, Sandor,” she adds, confirming his suspicious and surprising curiosity. “Besides, after sleeping next to you for the last sennight, I… I think I’d just feel a bit safer if you were here, beside me, right now…. I mean, considering we’re in such a strange place, and all,” she says rather bashfully while wringing the linens in her hands and glancing at him from beneath her lashes, as a beautiful blush returns to her cheeks.

“I can protect you just as easily here, Sansa. There’s no need for a Lady to have to share the bed with her ugly damn dog,” he says, a bit harsher than he intends, considering that he is so completely and utterly confused as to why she thinks he would have to be in the bed, with her, just to keep her safe.

Aside from that though, Sandor’s also just not all that sure if he can actually, honestly, trust himself that close to her—and with nothing more than his woolen breeches and her thin linen sleeping shift between them. A man can only resist so much temptation, after all. What if he did something untoward to her in a groggy haze? She would hate him then, and with good reason; plus, he just would not be able to live with himself if he somehow hurt his Little Bird.

“Sandor Clegane! You stop that; this instant…! You are not an ‘ugly dog!’ You are not even an ugly man; in fact, you are not ‘ugly’ at all!” Sansa sternly stresses.

“Come. To. Bed…. Now!” the Little Bird firmly orders with a raised brow and a no-nonsense look on her face brokering absolutely no further discussion on the matter. Sandor has never heard her sound so demanding. In fact, he actually pities her future pups whenever they’ve done something to warrant a scolding from their Lady Mother.

Putting the visions of Sansa’s future redheaded pups out of his mind, Sandor cannot help but briefly wonder if she truly means what she says about him not being ugly. He would like to believe it is true—that she mayhap even find him somewhat… attractive. But, with how deeply seated his self-loathing is though, he just finds that next to impossible to believe for more than a fleeting moment.

 

Standing back up, he grabs his longsword and ultimately gives up trying to convince her that he shouldn’t share the bed with her. Making his way over to the left side of the bed and placing his unsheathed sword within reach, Sansa holds up the linens, woolen blanket, and furs for him. Finally crawling into bed next to her, she proceeds to bring them up to his waist.

“There’s my good Hound,” Sansa teases, while lightly rubbing his stomach. This causes him to not only truly laugh in earnest, but also causes his cock to begin stiffening once again for the night, as well. Fuck, not now!

“Just as you had hoped, Sandor… you’ve ‘earned’ that earlier mentioned ‘belly rub’—you finally did as you were told,” she says with a playful smile and a blush, apparently rather surprised with her own boldness.

“Now, isn’t this much better than that hard, drafty wooden floor?” Her hand is still on him, but she has now slid it up his chest, resting directly over his heart, making him wonder if she can feel how frantically it’s beating. Feeling the warmth of her fingertips against his bare skin as she absently plays with the patch of his black chest hair visible from the unlaced V-notched collar of his linen shirt, Sandor cannot help but enjoy their somewhat intimate, yet still rather innocent, position.

“Aye, feels good,” he quietly responds, referring more to her hand’s placement, though, than the bed itself; although the bed is comfortable. Sandor’s never slept on a feather bed before; only straw.

Giving him a small shy smile, Sansa pulls the linens, woolen blanket, and furs the rest of the way up to cover his chest, ultimately tucking him in. They just stare at each other for a few moments once their eyes meet; that same strange look he’s been receiving from her lately is in her eyes, yet again. He can tell that she is trying to say something, but something seems to be holding her back. Composing herself though, she finally speaks up.

“Sandor, I love…” she begins before apparently losing her nerve and suddenly stopping short of finishing… whatever… it was that she intended to say. With his eyes slightly widening, his breath catches in his chest, and his heart damn near stops, eagerly wanting to hear the rest of that statement and actually honestly praying that it will end the way he hopes—the way it sounds.

“Aye, Little Bird?” he eagerly pleads, desperately urging her to continue. You love what? Or… or who?

“I um… love… loved… my… my nameday…. Thank you, Sandor; for making it so special for me,” she finally manages to finish through her bashful stammering, causing his stopped heart to plummet down to the pit of his gut. Sandor was praying so damn hard that Sansa would have finished that statement in a different way—that she would tell him that she loved him; but she didn’t. She doesn’t.

Am I just fooling myself hoping that Sansa will one day love me? Probably… but, still… Sandor doesn’t want to give up hope, just yet, that Sansa could perhaps feel something for him… someday!

Not wanting the disappointment he feels to sound out in his voice, and also hoping that she cannot see it in his eyes, he quietly responds “don’t worry about it Sansa; no need to thank me—you deserved it, Little Bird.”

“Well, thank you all the same, Sandor; for everything,” she says again before leaning over with her hand pressing against his chest for leverage, and placing a soft lingering kiss to his heavily stubbled right cheek.

Lifting her head back after a few long moments, she looks into his eyes and says “goodnight, Sandor,” before placing yet another kiss to his cheek; this one much closer to the edge of his mouth, though still not nearly close enough.

“Sweet dreams,” she quickly chirps out before he feels her lips touching his cheek for yet a third time—and for the fourth time, today—in a very light and short peck of a kiss. With a blush returning to her cheeks, Sansa silently, yet swiftly, turns over and faces away from him.

 

Fuck he’s so godsdamned confused; he just cannot read her no matter how hard he tries. I don’t think I’ll ever figure her out, he reasons before turning over to face the left side, himself, thus putting them back to back. The only consolation he has is knowing that his scars are not facing her tonight, at least, considering she’s on his right side. Gods know she’s seen enough of them today to last her five fucking lifetimes!

Reaching over to blow out the candle on the side table next to the bed, Sandor notices a goblet and a flagon of wine. Discovering that the goblet is full, he thankfully drinks the Dornish Red. Hoping it will help ease up some of his disappointment, he refills the goblet thrice more times before realizing that the flagon is now, regretfully, empty.

Setting the empty goblet and flagon back on the table with a sigh, he blows out the candle, and lets the wine help sooth him to sleep while listening to Sansa’s gentle breathing from the early stages of her slumber.

 

Feeling the bed shift after merely an hour or so of sleep, Sandor groggily awakens only to feel a warm body pressing firmly up against his back and a thin, delicate arm draping over his side. Turning his head a bit to see if Sansa is actually awake, and aware that she is holding him, he notices that her eyes are still closed and her deep even breathing tells him that she is still very soundly sleeping.

Not only is Sansa holding him with her tiny hand lightly gripping his forearm, but he also notices that Sansa is so close to him, that she is essentially sharing his pillow. His Little Bird has completely abandoned her side of their nest.

Debating with himself on whether he should move her back over to her side of the bed or not, Sandor relishes the feeling of actually being held by a woman like this, having never experienced such intimacy before. Realizing just how incredible it feels to have Sansa surrounding him so completely, he decides to leave her exactly where she is.

Slumber finally reclaiming him, Sandor surprisingly allows himself to enjoy the unknown, yet absolutely incredible, feeling of not only being held, but to also savor the absurd notion of him being protected by someone like her, for once in his life. He’s hoping that Sansa’s close proximity—combined with the way she is actually holding him—will help keep the fiery nightmares he’s been plagued with since he was just a burnt pup, at bay.

 

Awaking for yet a second time, only a couple of hours later, Sandor suddenly finds himself facing Sansa—his arm is around her, and her arm is around him. Even though Sansa is still sharing his pillow, though, it is the feeling of a leg sliding up over his hip, that startles him.

Inwardly cursing to himself, he summons up every ounce of self-restraint he has in order to prevent himself from thrusting his painfully aroused erection against her.

Knowing that he should most definitely move her this time, Sandor slowly slides his arm that’s draped over her side down towards her thigh laying across his hip, in order to lift it up and off of him. However, as he hooks his hand into the crook of her bare knee to do just that—and suddenly realizing how her shift has apparently slid up past that knee, letting him feel just how petal-soft her supple skin is—his hand seems to completely betray his intended actions.

Instead of lifting her leg off of him, he finds himself pulling her silky smooth thigh up, just a bit further, to now drape over and across his waist! You should be godsdamned ashamed of yourself, you filthy fucking dog.

Thankfully, Sansa has not stirred from his improper actions and is still very soundly sleeping. She is completely unaware of his untoward behavior towards her; regardless if it was intentional or not.

Carefully easing his arm back up over her side, he takes another chance and possessively pulls her just a bit tighter into him. Sandor cannot help but slightly grin at feeling her unconsciously doing the same thing to him, while also being acutely aware of how well he can feel her lush body pressing so deliciously flush against him. Her firm, full teats are pressing so snugly against him that he can even feel the hardness of her nipples through two layers of fabric: her sleeping shift and his linen shirt—two garments that he is silently cursing the very existence of.

Noticing how Sansa apparently has a fistful of his hair, complete with her fingers entwined through his strands, he realizes that he couldn’t have moved her back over to her side of the bed without waking her, even if he truly wanted to.

Truth be told, not a damn fucking thing could make him want to move her from this spot. Joffrey himself, all of the remaining Kingsguard, and every last Lannister and Baratheon soldier could come storming through that door, and he’d tell each and every one of them to bugger the fuck off!

While watching her sleep for a few quiet minutes, he takes in the delicate features of her face. Even in the darkness of the room her pale skin seems illuminous, setting off the auburn fringe of her soft feathery lashes sweeping against the fine bones of her cheeks. Taking a chance yet once again, he lightly kisses the coppery crown of her head. Gods, Sansa… please love me, Little Bird; let me love you.

Sending up a sort of impromptu prayer to the Gods—that he’s not entirely sure are real or not at this point—he silently begs them for some sort of a damn sign that being wrapped up in each other’s arms like this, might just mean something… more.

As he tries to ignore the realization of how close his burgeoning erection is to her cunt, by the way that her thigh is draped over his waist, Sansa unconsciously tucks her head under his chin. He can feel her smooth warm cheek pressing against the part of his chest exposed through the collar of his shirt, which happens to be right over his heart.

“Bwave an’ ghentle an’ shtrong,” he hears her quietly slur out in a murmur, while still sleeping quite soundly. He is not sure what that actually means, if anything; but Sansa Stark talking in her sleep is rather adorable.

Sandor gently rests his chin across the crown of Sansa’s head as he allows himself to slowly fall back asleep. Realizing that this is the most comfortable he has ever been in his entire life, he does not awaken again until morning.  

 

Bright warm rays of the early morning sun streaming through the window dance across Sandor’s face, gently awaking him from his peaceful slumber. The first thing he notices, while refusing to open his eyes just yet, is that he no longer has a Little Bird nesting in his arms. He begins to wonder if he somehow dreamt the entire thing. Fuck knows it wouldn’t be the first time he’s had such a dream.

Finally opening his eyes, he groans at the onslaught of the harsh sunlight against his sleep blurred eyes as he scrunches them closed and turns his head to bury his face into his pillow. Deciding not to let the sun win the battle for his eyesight, though, he blinks his eyes a few times before they finally adjust to the light enough to narrowly keep them open.

Still laying on his right side, he finds Sansa’s side of the bed empty. Hearing her fluttering about the room, however, quickly puts his mind at ease, knowing she is safe.

Unseeingly staring at her vacated nest, a slight shadow on his pillow catches his eye. Inspecting the area, he notices that it is actually an indention in his pillow, right next to his own head. However, it is the lone long coppery red hair left behind in that indention that makes him realize how his holding Sansa last night was not at all a dream, after all!

Sandor cannot fight the smile stretching across his face, from ear to scarred earhole, at the remembrance of feeling not only an arm wrapped around him, but also a leg draped over him, as well!

Sansa Stark was holding me just as tightly as I held her! Sandor cannot help but wonder how long they actually stayed tightly wrapped up in each other’s embrace—he certainly hopes it was for most of the night.

Briefly wondering if Sansa woke while still in his arms, he sincerely hopes that she wasn’t too terribly upset about it. Hells, who is he kidding? He honestly hopes that she might have actually enjoyed the thought of being held by him.

 

Finally deciding to get his lazy arse out of bed, Sandor sits up and is greeted by the sight of Sansa illuminated by the sun from the window as she sits in a chair, working on her embroidery. She’s no longer in her sleeping shift, instead having already dressed for the day in one of her brown woolen gowns.

Enjoying just how breathtakingly beautiful she looks with her thick hair cascading in loose fiery waves around her narrow shoulders, he just sits there in the bed and watches her for a few moments. Backlit from the sun, giving her an ethereal glow, he sees that her porcelain cheeks are beginning to redden with the start of a blush.

She must obviously sense him staring at her, despite the fact that she’s looking down at her work; a fact that he isn’t even going to try to hide should she look his direction and catch him in the act. He wants Sansa to know just how badly he burns for her with a heat that scorches his damn soul—he just cannot manage to say so with actual words. The fear of rejection cripples him.

 

“Good morning, Sandor,” she sweetly chirps as he forces himself to stop visually feasting on her loveliness, and instead crawl out of bed.

“Good morning, Little Bird,” he raspingly replies through a yawn, while stretching his back and limbs. Seeing Sansa watching him stretch from his peripheral vision, Sandor cannot help but feel as though she might just be a bit impressed with the view of him upon noticing her somewhat widened eyes and slightly gaped mouth. As he finishes stretching, he makes sure to hold his shoulders back and pushes his chest out just a bit more while he stands at his fullest height, hoping she will notice.

Her eyes widening a bit more, Sansa quickly looks back down to her needlework as her tongue slowly licks her lips, before slightly biting her bottom one. Her deepening blush and slightly heaving chest makes him feel as if his plan may have actually been successful. Like what you see, Little Bird?

Sandor knows that he may not be able to attract Sansa with his face, so he might as well try to attract her with his one redeeming asset: his warrior honed body. Mayhap if she can find my body attractive enough, she might be able to look past me having a hideous face! As he begins to wonder if he should try removing his linen shirt and putting on a clean tunic in front of her to gauge her interest, Sansa interrupts his thoughts.

“Did you sleep well?” she asks, apparently having composed herself from her staring at him.

“Aye, sure did,” he responds while watching her face for any trace of acknowledgement that Sansa is aware of having slept in each other’s arms last night. “In fact… think that may have been my best night’s sleep in years,” he adds, causing a blush to return to her pale complexion. Fuck, I think she does know! Her slight smile playing at the corners of her lips only confirms that belief.

“Good! I’m glad I made you get in the bed, then,” she replies with a sincere smile, while looking straight into his eyes.

“I also slept well…. Honestly, I think last night may have been the best sleep I have ever had, actually.” Oh, shite! Could that mean that Sansa actually liked us holding each other?

“I-is that so?” he stutters a bit in hopefulness of any further indication confirming that she did.

“Yes. I was warm. Comfortable…” she begins and trails off before looking at him again and continuing. “Protected…. Honestly Sandor, what more could a Little Bird hope for?”

However, before Sandor has much time to try to analyze what she could mean, or even try to respond for that matter, a light round of knocking on the door interrupts their ‘good mornings.’ Seven buggering Hells!

 

Going to first grab his sword, Sandor unbars the door and opens it a sliver to peek out. Seeing a young serving girl holding a wooden tray overflowing with food, he sets his sword down by the door before opening it wider.

“I was told ta bring you an’ yer wife some food ta break yer fast, milord,” the little flaxen haired waif squeaks out, unable to look him in the face. “Got yer laundry ‘ere, too,” she continues, gesturing to the floor next to her with her head.

“My husband is not a Lord, but we thank you all the same, sweetling,” Sansa replies with a friendly smile before he has a chance to even form a thought. Fuck, my senses must be dulling—I didn’t even hear her come up!

“Husband dear, take the tray from the darling girl, and I’ll grab our laundry.”

“Aye, wife; as you say… um… dear,” he shyly replies, feeling a bit of warmth spreading across his good cheek and lone ear, with a hint of a smile tugging the right side of his mouth at the thought of Sansa calling him her husband, to another person. Taking the tray from the girl, she quickly drops into an unpracticed curtsey and gives Sansa a warm buck-toothed smile.

“’ave a good day, ser, milady,” she says with a bob once more.

With a warm lighthearted laugh, Sansa says “my husband is no ser, either, sweetling; you have a nice day, as well, little one!” The girl nods her head with a big toothy grin, causing her huge doe-like brown eyes to sparkle, before bounding down the stairs with the exuberance only a child possesses.

 

As Sandor goes to set the tray of food down on the table at the foot of the bed, Sansa closes and bars the door before setting the basket of their freshly washed clothing on the floor near the desk.

Coming to inspect the varied array of foodstuffs to choose from to break their fasts, Sansa says with laughter hinting in her voice, “goodness, her curtsey was as wobbly as Shae’s!”

Not even trying to fight back a smirk, he replies, “well, neither whores, nor workers in whorehouses, have much need to curtsey, Little Bird” eliciting an infectious giggle from Sansa.

“No, I suppose not. Mmm! Everything looks and smells so wonderful, Sandor! Go grab that extra chair over there and come sit down,” she orders, pointing towards the desk.

Doing as his ‘wife’ instructs, Sandor fetches the chair and sets it perpendicularly next to hers, just as she begins loading two plates with the offerings from the inn. Setting his much fuller plate in front of him before placing the butter, preserves, and rasher of bacon between them to share, she then pours them each a goblet of mulled wine.

“Would you like a cup of this mint tea as well?”

“Nah, Little Bird; the wine is good enough for me,” he replies before taking a bite of an apple cake from his plate and reaching for a slice of bacon.

 

Continuing eating their hearty morning meal of four fried apple cakes stuffed with pine nuts, of which Sansa gave him three of, a loaf of freshly baked crusty white bread with two small bowls of honey-butter and wild blackberry preserves to share, six soft-boiled eggs, of which she gave him four of, a rasher of crispy bacon, and four various hard and soft cheeses, Sansa asks Sandor which of the two available pieces of fruit he would prefer. Telling her to just give him the one she doesn’t want, he takes the proffered plum from her hand as she takes a small bite out of a plump peach.

 

As if hearing her slightly moan while eating the peach isn’t enough to have him thankful that his groin is hidden beneath the table, Sansa goes in for the kill.

Mmm… this is so good! Want to taste my peach, Sandor?” she asks with a sweet smile, causing him to suppress a groan, while she holds out a piece of the fruit to him. “It’s so sweet and juicy….” Fuck! Fuck! Seven buggering, fucking fucks, he silently swears, spraying wine over the side of the table, essentially painting the wooden planked floor in the sweet and spicy liquid.

His coughing and choking on the wine finally subsiding, he answers her innocently suggestive inquiry. “Sansa… you have absolutely no idea how bad I want to taste that sweet juicy peach of yours, Little Bird!”

Obviously none the wiser to the fact that he is referring to the ‘peach’ between her supple thighs, and not the stone fruit in her hand, she smiles happily while reaching over to hold a bite up to his lips.

Leaning forward to meet her hand, he looks her right in the eye—as he decides to try paying her back—by slowly taking the bite from her. Not even attempting to keep from licking, and gently suckling the juices from her fingertips, he sees an intense blush heat her entire chest, neck, face, and ears. With her eyes widening, her chest slightly heaving, and her mouth hanging open, Sandor lasciviously smirks at the, most definitely not-quite-so-innocent, Little Bird, all the while chewing the bite of fruit.

There! Payback’s a bitch, eh Little Bird? Sandor thinks as he slips his hand beneath the table to nonchalantly loosen his breeches’ laces enough to readjust his painfully aroused cock. He will definitely be having to go take care of the overabundant amount of seed built up in his balls… very, very soon!

He honestly wouldn’t be all that surprised to find that his balls are now the same damn color as that plum she handed him a few minutes ago!  

Taking a bite of said plum, he breaks off a small piece and offers it to Sansa. However, she does not reach for the offering with her hand like he expects; she simply leans over towards him and opens her mouth. Obviously, Sansa is wanting him to feed her, just as she did him! Why do I feel like this is not going to end well?

Holding the piece of plum up to her mouth, she never breaks eye contact with him as she plucks it from his fingers with her lips.

Feeling her tongue slide across his fingertips as she suckles the sticky sweet juices from his skin, his mind is now making him envision much more than a simple piece of fruit between her lips.

Closing her lips around both the plum and his fingers, she flutters her eyes closed and slightly moans at the flavor of the fruit. Both the sights and sounds coming from Sansa is making him picture her full lips tightly surrounding his cock, and her moaning being caused by the seeped out clear fluids from his immense arousal coating her tongue, as if she is craving the taste of him.

“Fucking hells…!” Sandor somehow manages to groan out. That’s it! He better go take care of his throbbing, dripping cock, and damn near purple balls now, before he ends up spilling his seed in his breeches like some green boy and embarrasses himself in front of her… yet again! Sansa most definitely won this round. The Little Bird does not play fair; that’s for sure!

Quickly throwing his chair back, Sansa’s eyes fly open at the sudden loud scraping sound it causes as it slides across the wooden floor. “Sandor, is everything alright?” she asks with a furrowed brow, her voice and eyes practically dripping with concern.

“Aye, Sansa; I’m fine,” he replies as he hurriedly stands and abruptly turns away from her. He is trying to prevent her from seeing how his cock is now attempting to figure out how to unlace his breeches from the inside… all on its own! Fuck… and damn near succeeding too, by the looks of it!

Rushing over to grab and yank on his boots, he’s not even going to bother with putting socks on yet. He can always put some on after he’s finished emptying out his balls—that are now melon sized, thanks to Sansa.

“Your dog just needs to go hike his leg on a tree; I’ll be back in a couple of minutes. Come bar the door after I leave,” he finishes, now collecting his sword, heading for the door, and ignoring her continued admonishment at his persistence in calling himself a dog. If the Little Bird knew what I’m about to really do, she’d be calling me a dog, herself!

As he opens the door, Sansa quickly flies over to bar it once he closes it behind him. Gratefully seeing a backdoor and rear stairwell of the Peach right off of the left side of their room, he quickly, yet cautiously, runs down the stairs towards the back of the building—a feat not at all that simple, considering the damn near near eleven or twelve inch long, thick, iron-hard rod protruding from between his legs!

 

Finally reaching the back of the building, Sandor is so godsdamn thankful that no one else is back here. He sets his sword down against the wall, and quickly yanks open the laces of his breeches. Laces untied, his cock springs out from its woolen imprisonment, damn near weeping tears of joy at finally being free.

Facing the wall of the inn for some small semblance of privacy, he reaches inside his breeches to release his aching balls from their confines, as well. Taking himself in his right hand, Sandor closes his eyes, and lets himself get lost in his erotic fantasies of a redheaded maidenly Little Bird.

Imagining his hand being replaced by Sansa’s full, luscious lips firmly wrapping around his thick shaft—knowing how she would probably struggle to open her mouth wide enough to take him—he pictures her looking up at him with those stunning blue eyes; her pupils blown wide with her desire for him. With the tip of his finger, he spreads the clear fluids seeping out from the slit of his cockhead around the engorged flesh, just as if she were eagerly lapping it up with her tongue and begging him for more. The moans she made when taking that bite of fruit from his fingers is replaying in his mind, making Sandor imagine them being caused by Sansa actually loving the taste of him, instead.

Cupping his large, heavy balls with his left hand, he slowly begins stroking his throbbing length as his head falls back, squeezing his fist a bit tighter each time he reaches his swollen, sensitive tip. After several slow, steady pulls on his member, he begins to quicken his pace.

While firmly rubbing the prominent veins along the underside of his cock with his fingertips, just as if it were Sansa’s tongue, he lightly begins massaging his balls in perfect rhythm with his strokes. With the sheer size of his sack, Sandor cannot keep from visualizing them spilling out of Sansa’s dainty little hand as she cups and massages them—a thought that only serves to heighten his arousal. 

Pumping his pulsating member yet faster, and even firmer now, he feels his balls beginning to tighten as his building peak steadily approaches. Picturing Sansa’s cheeks hollowing as she coaxes him towards a desperately needed release, his blood begins flowing hotly through his veins as he starts to slightly jerk and spasm with every muscle of his body tensing up in eager anticipation of his impending peak.

Breathing rumbling out of his chest in ragged pants as he rushes towards the point of sweet relief, he grits his teeth against the oncoming sensation as he finally explodes. With a shuddering guttural cry of Sansa’s name escaping his scarred lips, several violent blasts of his seed erupts out of his cock in a hot arc, splattering the grey and tan river stone wall with copious thick white, pearly rivulets of his pleasure.

His powerful release leaving him gasping for air and trembling from head to toe, Sandor props himself up against the wall with his left hand, feeling slightly weak in the knees from the sheer intensity of his orgasm. Firmly milking out every last drop of his peak from his still twitching and pulsing manhood, he cannot keep himself from imagining Sansa hungrily devouring his seed. In his mind, she’s eagerly sucking him dry as if she just cannot get enough of him, essentially draining his cock and balls.

 

Balls thankfully emptied and cock happily sated for the time being, he finally empties his full bladder from the wine he drank, both last night and this morning, before tucking himself back into his breeches and retying his laces.

There is just something seriously fucked up about this, he thinks, shaking his head and chuckling at his own expense from the sheer absurdity of fucking into his fist behind a godsdamn whorehouse!

However, even if his Little Bird were not upstairs and awaiting for his return, he still couldn’t—nor wouldn’t—have paid for a whore, regardless if it were for a full fuck or just a simple suck. He’d have chosen to take care of matters himself, instead, seeing as how whores no longer satisfy him. They just aren’t my Sansa.

 

Heading back upstairs to her, Sandor cannot help feeling like a filthy arsed damn dog for having fantasized about Sansa in such a manner. He’s dreamt of—and fantasized about—fucking her more times than he can count. However, this is the first time he has ever fantasized about her sucking his cock as if she were some cheap arse Flea Bottom whore, and he ought to be buggered with a hot poker for it! Sandor cannot help but feel as if he has somehow just tarnished his sweet Little Bird by imagining her doing such a thing for him. A Lady like Sansa Stark would never sully herself by sucking a man’s cock and swallowing his damn seed!

 

Reaching their room, he forces his rare feeling of guilt down as he knocks on the door. “Little Bird, it’s me; open up.”

After a mere couple of moments of hearing rustling and shuffling from inside their room, Sansa unbars the door and narrowly peeks out to confirm that it truly is him, before fully opening the door to allow him entry. “Goodness Sandor, I was beginning to get worried! You were gone so much longer than I thought you’d be.” Alright, so mayhap we should change that to me being buggered with a hot poker doused with wildfire, he thinks, seeing the worry on her face melting away.

“Sorry Little Bird; took a bit longer than planned, I guess,” he replies while feeling an intense amount of warmth crawling up his neck and across his cheeks; surprisingly even across his ruined cheek, as well. She’s bound to figure out that he was doing much more than just taking a piss or a shite. Though hopefully, she won’t know what he was truly doing, considering she is not all that knowledgeable in the actions of men. I hope…!

“It’s alright; I’m just happy you are back,” she says with a shy smile, looking at him from beneath her lashes, and bashfully tucking a strand of her copper hair back behind her ear as Sandor closes and bars the door behind him. She… she missed me?

Seeing a couple of stacks of folded clothes on the floor near the desk, he can see that Sansa busied herself while he was out back tending to his, erm… needs.

Following her over to what’s remaining in the wicker basket, he offers to help her finish folding their laundry. The least he can do is fold his own clothes, after all… especially his smallclothes. However, she politely declines saying that she’s just about done, anyway.

“You know, Sandor,” she says, getting his attention as she folds one of his tunics. “I happened to notice that you don’t seem to have any clothing suitable for colder weather.”

“Aye; but unfortunately, what I’ve got will just have to make do.”

“Well… I could make you some warmer clothes,” she sincerely offers, which genuinely surprises him.

“When we arrived in town yesterday, I happened to notice a merchant who was selling fabrics and sewing notions; she would more than likely have what I’d need to do so. I am pretty sure neither of us have any spare room in our saddlebags, but if you could perhaps find something for Maiden to carry while you are out today, I could work on making you some warmer garments whenever we stop traveling each night,” Sansa adds before he has a chance to even respond. It’s almost as if she has thought this all the way through already, and is trying to leave no possible room for Sandor to argue with her over it.

Honestly though, he has been a bit concerned about what he would do for warmth once they reach the North; much less for when winter actually comes. All of his clothing is meant for the Southron climate; he only has the one cloak—a heavy olive green woolen cloak that’s, honestly, not all that heavy.

“You don’t think you’d mind making me a few things?” he asks, not wanting to take advantage of the Little Bird’s generosity, but also rather liking the idea of her performing tasks for him that would normally be left up to a man’s wife to do.

“Of course I won’t mind, Sandor,” she insists while folding the last piece of their clothing. “How many times must I remind you of how I promised to take care of you when we left King’s Landing?”

Shrugging, he shyly rasps “don’t know, Little Bird. Never had anyone wanting to take care of me before.”

“Well, you do now,” she replies, short, to the point, and with direct eye contact before putting their clean, folded garments back into each of their saddlebags. Do I, Sansa? Truly? 

“Alright, Little Bird. Mayhap we can stop by that merchant’s stall once we visit that sept for you later today; if it looks safe,” he says to which Sansa smiles from ear-to-ear and vigorously nods in agreement.

He can tell that she is excited about the possibility of checking out that particular stall; it definitely did not escape his notice, after all, that Sansa damn near did a double-take as they were walking past it yesterday. In all honesty, he was planning on letting her stop by on the way back to their room this evening, anyway. Though he was intending for it to be a surprise. Oh, well… might be that it’s better this way, anyway. Don’t want to look too obvious in my attempt at winning Sansa’s heart.

 

“Now that we have that settled, why don’t you go ahead and show me that personal item from your sister that you wanted me to take a look at. Hopefully I can work on it for you while you are busy in town.”

“Nah, Sansa, don’t worry about that; it’s not all that important, anyway. You should finish the gift for your brother and his bride, first.”

“Well, actually, I added my last stitches to their gift this morning; so, honestly, Sandor, I have nothing else to do,” she insists.

“Besides, my working on that for you will just keep me occupied while I’m staying here in our room… all alone…” she stresses, a bit melodramatically. In fact, if Sandor didn’t know any better, he could almost believe that Sansa looks to be very nearly pouting at the notion of him temporarily leaving her for a few hours.

He does know better, though… right? Surely Sandor is just reading way too much into both, Sansa’s choice of words, and her actual tone of voice… isn’t he?

“However, now that I know how talented you are with making things… do you think you could make me a frame for their gift?” Sansa asks. “Whenever we get settled in our temporary home in the Westerlands, I mean,” she adds.

‘Our temporary home…’ damn that sounds nice; so fucking nice! A home with just me and Sansa, he fantasizes before awaking himself from his domestic daydreaming to answer her.

Aye; if you really want me to,” he finally says. Sandor’s honestly feeling rather proud to actually be asked to create something for a change; instead of being commanded to kill and destroy as was his norm with being under Joffrey’s golden paw.

Ever since he and Sansa left King’s Landing together, Sandor’s been experiencing things that, time and time again, remind him of just how much better his life is away from the Lannisters. But more specifically, how much sweeter things are with Sansa Stark by his side. He is just hoping that she will always be by his side.  

“Thank you so much, Sandor” she says with a sincere smile. “Now, show me what Elandria started making for you. I’m very anxious to see what your most cherished possession is!”

“Only if you’re sure you won’t mind, Little Bird.”

“It would be my pleasure, Sandor; truly.”

At her insistence to see, and possibly even finish, what Elandria started sixteen years ago—and suddenly realizing that, as of her nameday yesterday, it is the same age as Sansa—Sandor goes to one of his saddlebags and nervously retrieves it. He sincerely hopes that Sansa won’t laugh at the ridiculous notion of him having a Bride’s Cloak; especially considering how there has never been a woman who has ever actually wanted to be cloaked by the infamous, hideous Hound.

Tenderly cradling it against his chest, he turns back to face Sansa. “This is all I have left of my sister.” Taking a deep, calming breath, he shakes it open so that she can see the incomplete cloak. Watching her through his lashes, he’s not really sure what to make of her visual response just yet; her eyes have somewhat widened and her mouth is slightly agape.

“Oh, Sandor!” she gasps after a few moments, excitedly rushing over to him and the cloak. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” she gushes, inspecting it more thoroughly now, with a look of wonder spreading across her features.

“I’m sure you probably think it silly for me to actually have a Bride’s Cloak; fuck, mayhap foolish, even. Elandria was just so damn optimistic, though…. She just somehow ‘knew’ that I would miraculously find a woman who would actually want to marry me someday,” Sandor rasps through a slight derisive snort of a laugh.

“Lanny believed it strongly enough, though, that she began making this cloak for me; nearly sixteen years ago—just about six moons, or so, before her death,” he thickly says. His eyes are beginning to feel watery, and his nose is slightly burning and prickling at the remembrance of his sweet sister’s unwavering faith in his future happiness.

“Why on earth would I find that ‘silly?’” Sansa asks with confusion in her voice and across her face, furrowing her brow. “Your sister loved you, and wanted to see you happy! Nothing at all silly about that—you deserve to be happy, Sandor,” she sincerely says, reaching out to him and gently squeezing his forearm in support.

Unfortunately, though, the kind words from Sansa are only serving to break down the rather poorly constructed dam that was just barely holding back his emotions. He is now beginning to feel the familiar and humiliating warmth of tears starting to trail down his cheeks.

Fuck!”

Scrunching his eyes closed in embarrassment, Sandor quickly turns away from her before croaking out, “sorry, Sansa; not sure what’s come over me. Just haven’t talked about Elandria to… well… anyone, before.”

Gently clasping his arm and turning him back around to face her after a mere couple of moments, Sansa steps closer to him. Reaching up, she very gently wipes away the few tears that have fallen from his eyes with a small, and honestly rather familiar looking, cloth.

“There is absolutely nothing to apologize about!” Sansa adamantly insists. “It is extremely evident how much you loved your sister, Sandor. Just as much as Elandria, quite obviously, loved and adored you!”

Reaching up once again to wipe the last couple of tears trickling down his right cheek, she adds “please remember that my original offer from yesterday still stands. Should you ever want, or need, to talk about Elandria, I would absolutely love to hear all about the woman who raised Sandor Clegane to become the brave, gentle, and strong Hound that he is!”

As she bashfully smiles and looks up at him with a beautiful flush painting her creamy complexion, Sandor suddenly remembers Sansa muttering out those same exact three words through a slurring murmur, in her sleep last night. C-could that mean what I think it does? He cannot help but incredulously wonder, now, if mayhap Sansa was actually dreaming about him last night. If so, then he is sincerely hoping that it might have actually been a pleasant dream.

Watching Sansa’s face while she’s gingerly tracing the two and a half black dogs of the unfinished cloak with her fingertips, Sandor notices the very same strange and unreadable expression that she keeps giving him, is also in her eyes while she’s looking at his Bride’s Cloak. He also cannot help but realize just how absolutely incredible Clegane autumn gold seems to complement his Little Bird’s peaches-and-cream complexion and fiery locks that shame the renowned beauty of the Dornish desert sunsets.  

“No one knows what the future holds; however, you are still a young man! I am absolutely and positively certain that Elandria’s hopes and dreams for her precious baby brother will come true, yet, Sansa insists, sounding more and more like Elandria with every optimistic assurance.

“And when they do, Sandor, then this gorgeous Bride’s Cloak that your beloved sister so lovingly began for you, will simply serve to become a treasured family heirloom to be passed down to your own future pups, one day!” Sansa declares with a smile and a look in her eyes saying that she honestly, and wholeheartedly, believes every single word that she’s saying.

“Your beautiful daughters will one day wear this as their Maiden’s Cloak, while your handsome sons will be able to cloak their own brides in their beloved Clegane House colors!”

I sure hope you’re right, Little Bird, he thinks once she takes his cloak from him, spreading it out over the bed to further inspect it.

Goodness… Elandria was extremely talented, Sandor. Her stitches are flawless,” Sansa sincerely compliments with a look of awe painting her features, causing him to earnestly smile with immense pride at hearing Sansa praising his sister’s work.

“She worked tirelessly on it; wanted so bad for it to be perfect,” he says as he comes over to stand next to Sansa, looking at it with her.

“Well, she most definitely succeeded! Her satin stitches here are perfectly proportioned; see how smooth she got them?” she asks while pointing out the stitches she used to fill in the bulk of the dogs. “It isn’t always so easy to keep your thread straight enough to look as smooth as Elandria got it; especially when using long skeins. It took me a couple of years to reach her quality!”

“Do you think you can finish it?”

“Oh, absolutely! It honestly won’t take me longer than an hour or two, at the most; plus, I still have plenty of black silk thread. She was nearly done with it, it seems,” she says. Sansa keeps looking back and forth between the two completed dogs and the remaining half-dog that has been left untouched for the last sixteen years; trying to determine where exactly Elandria stopped work to start back up where she left off, Sandor figures.

“It just deeply saddens me knowing how Elandria won’t be able to see the cloak completed and to finally get to watch you cloak your future bride, Sandor,” Sansa somberly says with a sympathetic smile as she reaches over to gently squeeze his hand.

“She would just be happy to know that you’re going to complete it for her,” he says, missing his sister more and more the longer he talks about her and looks at her unfinished work.

“You know… I very well might even be done by the time you get back from your errands—I just sincerely hope that I can do your sister’s work justice.”

“Now, I don’t know a damn thing about embroidery, Little Bird, however, I do know talent when I see it. I sincerely doubt that there are very many ladies who can compare—nor even come close to comparing, for that matterto your skill with a needle and thread, Sansa,” he earnestly says, causing her to blush and smile before thanking him for the compliment.

 

“Are you going stop by the stables to check on our horses while you are out?”

“Aye. Need to see how many fingers Stranger’s bitten off,” he says with a smirk, causing Sansa to giggle.

“Sandor! That’s not funny!” she barely gets out through her laughter.

“That’s why you’re about to piss yourself laughing, eh Little Bird?”

With a loud gasp, she says “you are so horrible!” With a huge grin, she wipes her tears of laughter away from her eyes and cheeks with the same cloth she wiped his tears away with.

“When you go visit that huge handsome hellion of yours, you make sure you tell him that if he has hurt any poor stable boys, then he will not be receiving any more apples from me!”

“Awe, come on Little Bird… now that’s just cruel; especially from you,” he says through a chuckle, not believing her the slightest bit.

“And you also be sure to tell him that Maiden shall receive any and all apples originally intended for him!” Sansa adds, barely even able to get that damn lie out without laughing at the sheer absurdity of it.

“Why do you want to go and lie like that, Little Bird?” Sandor asks, smirking at her not-quite-so believable intended ‘punishment’ for his horse’s very likely bad behavior. “Now you know damn good and well that you could never give Maiden an apple in front of Stranger, without giving him one, too—especially considering how fond the damned beast has grown of you.”

Sighing, Sansa smiles and admits “oh, of course not! I could never do that to my sweet Stranger.”

“I think you may be the only person in existence to call that hells-spawn ‘sweet!’”

“Well, that’s because like you, Sandor, Stranger is vastly misunderstood!”

“S’that so?” Sandor asks, anxiously eager to find out where this conversation might possibly be heading.

Definitely! Whereas you both can be a bit… intimidating… at first,” Sansa begins with mischievous grin. “Once you take time to get better acquainted with both horse and Hound, your sweet and charming natures’ slowly chip away at your gruff exteriors’ enough that the both of you actually become rather likeable,” Sansa finishes with a tender gaze and a warm, sincere smile.

Wait, Sansa thinks I’m ‘sweet?’ And… and ‘charming?’ Me…? The Hound? Sandor incredulously wonders while finding himself actually, earnestly blushing. What Sansa has just said, though, coaxes a shy hint of a half-smile that’s now turning into a huge lop-sided grin stretching across his face.

Sansa’s kind, gentle praise of him—and Stranger, too, for that matter—is managing to work wonders on his self-confidence. Surprisingly, for once in his life, Sandor isn’t worrying over, nor even thinking about, how a smile usually makes his severely scarred visage look even more mangled.

If Sansa finds me ‘quite likeable’ now, then is there any possible chance she could, mayhaps one day, actually find me ‘loveable?’ Sandor wonders, hoping he isn’t counting his little birds before they hatch, so to speak.

“Make sure you give both Stranger and Maiden a pat on the nose for me,” she says, awaking him from his wishful fantasies of Sansa possibly loving him one day.

“Aye, Little Bird; you know I will.”

 

While Sansa collects her wooden embroidery hoop to begin finishing his Bride’s Cloak, Sandor changes out of the loose linen shirt he slept in so that it will be clean for him to wear again tonight, and puts on a clean flaxen tunic. Wanting to look as inconspicuous as a nearly seven foot tall, severely scarred man can, he decides to forgo wearing his plate armor.

He chooses, instead, to wear his light armor consisting of his mid-thigh Clegane autumn gold padded woolen gambeson, his mail hauberk, and his black broiled leather, diamond studded brigandine, while not even bothering to change the black woolen breeches he’s already wearing.

After removing his hastily put on boots to put some woolen socks on, he pulls them back on, straps his sword belt to his waist and tucks his money pouch into it, before running his fingers through his hair.

Stopping him, Sansa says “come sit so I can brush your hair out… properly.” 

Having learned his lesson last night about arguing with the Little Bird, he quietly does as she orders and sits patiently while she brushes his hair. “Your hair is so soft when it’s freshly washed, Sandor,” she quietly says as she finishes parting his locks and covering his scars the way he likes. This time though, she actually even brushes his hair so that it covers the wad of scar tissue making up his left eyebrow, of which he is grateful.

“There. Now you may leave,” she says with a smile, before looking into his eyes and adding “please promise me that you’ll be careful, Sandor.”

“Aye, Little Bird; I promise,” he says, touched that she almost sounds sad that he’ll be leaving her.

“Is there anything specific you want or need while I’m out?”

“Only for you to return to me; safely,” she shyly says with a pretty blush and a small smile, making his heart swell up in his chest.

He walks over and picks up the tray of dishes from when they broke their fasts, intending to take it downstairs and leave it at the kitchen. Mayhap I should insist on no peaches tomorrow!

“Come bar the door, Little Bird; do not open it for anyone but me… not even for servants,” he reminds her as he leaves their room.

Closing the door behind him, he waits to hear it being barred before heading downstairs. He’s hopeful that he won’t be away from his Little Bird too long; he only has a handful of specific things he’s hoping to find, and damn it if he isn’t already missing her.

 

Having dropped off the tray of dishes with a kitchen wench, Sandor promptly heads to where he saw the town’s general store. Reaching his destination, an older plump balding man approaches him and asks if he can be of service. Asking the merchant if he happens to have a tent available, the man directs Sandor to an aisle at the back of the store.

Unfortunately, it appears that only one two-person tent is available. He knows sharing the tent would make things very cramped with his bulk, so he’ll just give it to Sansa should they run into any inclement weather. With winter quickly approaching, Sandor knows that their luck with agreeable weather is waning.

Lifting the oilcloth tent to his left shoulder, he starts to carry it back to the counter at the front of the store when he spots a stack of canvas sacks. Knowing how Sansa was hoping he could find something to carry her sewing supplies in on Maiden’s back, he grabs a couple of the sacks to buy as well. It’s better to have one too many instead of needing one later on and not being able to find one.

As he pays the merchant a handful of Coppers and Stags for his purchase, he asks him if he happens to know of anyone with a longbow and some arrows to sell. If he and Sansa are going to hide out in the Westerlands for any length of time, they’ll need to have another means of finding nourishment aside from snaring small mammals and catching the occasional pike or carp—he refuses to let his Little Bird go hungry!

While Sandor may not be an expert bowman, preferring to wield steel weapons of war over hunting implements, he is generally adequate enough to snag the occasional stag. After all, he’s been on enough royal hunts during King Robert’s reign to hone his hunting abilities enough that he should fare fairly well. And with how the dense mountainous forests of the Westerlands are generally known to be teeming with herds of deer, it shouldn’t be a very arduous task.

“You might try the tanner’s place. The lads there do a bit of hunting when the Lords allow it; might be willing to sell you one of theirs… for the right price, of course.”

Grunting a thanks to the merchant, Sandor heads towards where he said the tanner’s workshop could be found.

 

The putrescent stench of tannin, urine, animal feces, and decaying animal flesh burning his nose, along with noticing various pelts covering a wooden wall behind a long wooden workbench, tells Sandor that he has found the local tannery without incident. Catching his eye, he stops and admires the finely tanned skin of a shadowcat stretched taut on a wooden frame. The soft thick black fur with white stripes is starkly contrasting against the multitude of dun buckskins strewn about the walls behind it. 

Entering the noxious workshop, he gets the attention of a young man who couldn’t possibly be any older than Sansa. The lanky lad is wearing a heavy leather apron and kerchief covering his nose and mouth, and is in the middle of processing a deer pelt near an open window of the tannery.

“Help ya with somethin’?” the brown haired pup asks, wiping the sweat from his brow with his sleeve and pulling the kerchief down from his face.

“Was told you might have an archery set you’d be willing to sell. I’m in need of a longbow and some arrows, if you got it.”

“Aye, I got one. But it’s gonna cost ya,” he says before fetching the set from a corner of the workshop. “Made tha quiver m’self,” he proudly says before handing the set to Sandor for his appraisal.

Inspecting the quality of the golden wood longbow and buckskin quiver containing several arrows fletched with azure and crimson feathers, Sandor is quite satisfied with it. “Nice craftsmanship,” he says, taking another look at the longbow and testing the weight of the draw since it has yet been unstrung for storage.

“How much you want for it?” he asks, before suddenly adding “for that shadowskin out front, as well.” He knows that Sansa already has a couple of woolen cloaks, but he figures she may could either line one of her existing ones with the fur or create a new, heavier fur cloak out of it. Or she could even just use it for warmth in her bedroll once they reach the North and the first winter snows start falling. Either way, he knows that shadowskin is exceptionally warm, and he wants to ensure his Little Bird’s comfort, as best he can.

Sandor can tell that the pup is sizing him up, apparently trying to figure out how much he can actually get out of the giant scarred man. “I reckon I might can give ya tha archery set fer a couple of Stags, but that pelt is another thing,” he says as he folds his skeletal arms over his underdeveloped chest. “Now, me pa lost his left leg baggin’ that beast, just a couple of moons back; he ain’t been able ta get back ta work yet… don’t think I can let it go fer less than a couple of Dragons,” he finishes with a smirk, obviously doubting that a man like Sandor has that kind of coin.

Without saying a single word, Sandor just silently collects two Stags and two Dragons from his money pouch. He can see the boy’s eyes widening and jaw dropping at the realization that he has severely underestimated Sandor’s wealth, thus amusing him greatly. That’s what the bastard gets for judging a man on his looks!

Giving the pup a cocky smirk, he tosses the four coins at him and takes his purchase before he foolishly, and fatally, tries scalping the price higher. Immediately heading outside of the tannery, he takes a deep breath to fill his lungs with fresher air with the young tanner following him out. He watches as the young lad takes a flaying knife and cuts the twine lacing affixing the shadowskin to the wooden frame, before handing it to Sandor. Folding it, he stores it in one of the two canvas sacks he bought, and hopes Sansa will like the surprise he got her.

Loosening the buckle on the quiver’s leather strap, making it longer to fit across the breadth of his chest, Sandor slings it across his back before swinging the longbow over his right shoulder. Readjusting his grip of the oilcloth tent up on his left shoulder, he picks the sack containing the shadowskin back up before heading towards the stables. He’ll leave his purchases in Stranger’s stall—that hellion of his is as good as any guard dog could ever be at protecting his master’s property.

 

Now, time to see if that young stable boy is still in one piece, he only half-arse muses, knowing that it is not uncommon for Stranger to take a bite out of anyone crazy enough to try approaching him. His horses’ surprising affection for his Little Bird both amuses and baffles him, greatly. Sansa’s persistence with trying to win over his beast has obviously not gone unrewarded by the unruly courser.

Of this, though, Sandor is actually pleased. At least by Stranger accepting Sansa—should anything happen to him and she need to get away quickly—he’d like to think that Stranger would possibly allow Sansa to ride him on her own. Stranger’s battle training would give the Little Bird so much more protection than her sweet, gentle little palfrey ever could, after all.  

 

Sandor reaches the town stables just as the same stable boy from yesterday evening is closing the gate on Maiden’s stall. Upon noticing him approach, the boy wipes his hands off on his breeches as he rushes over and addresses Sandor.

“Just finished muckin’ out yer mare’s stall, an’ brushed her down, milord! Gave her fresh water, more hay… an’ some fresh feed too,” he eagerly says, obviously hoping that Sandor will be pleased with the attention he’s been giving to her in order to earn that Stag he promised yesterday. With the pup’s eagerness to please, Sandor doesn’t even bother correcting the ‘milord.’ Better than being called a damn ser!

“Wasn’t able ta muck out yer courser’s stall yet, as ya told me ta not go near ‘im.”

“Aye, you can do his while I have him out brushing him down,” Sandor says as he hears the nickering from Stranger’s stall and sees his head raised and ears pricked in his direction. His horse obviously hears him talking to the stable boy and is very impatiently trying to get his master’s attention by calling him over. As Sandor nears his horse, Stranger’s nickering starts coming out more rapidly, and higher in pitch, in his eager anticipation.

Maiden’s stall is directly next to Stranger, and before he leads him out, he stops and sets his purchases on the ground before patting her nose, and scratching beneath her forelock, between her ears. “Your pretty little mistress misses you, you know that?” he raspingly coos to the little mare in as gentle of a not-so-gentle voice as he can muster. In response, Maiden simply nuzzles his chest as he is patting down her neck.

Giving her a compulsory checking over, he can see that the stable boy is really taking his job seriously. Having just brushed her down, her pretty sorrel coat is shining and shimmering like smelted copper. Her coat’s almost as pretty as the Little Bird’s feathers, he thinks, realizing how the manes of the two little maidens share damn near the same shade of coppery auburn hair.

“Is yer mare’s care ta yer liking, milord?” the stable boy anxiously asks as he meets Sandor over by Maiden’s stall. Sandor has surprisingly noticed that the pup seems to be able to actually make eye-contact with him today. Mayhap he thinks that’ll give him a better shot at that coin, he muses, impressed by the boy’s show of bravery, as he was most definitely terrified of him last evening.

“Aye, you’re doing a fine job, pup,” he says as he ruffles the lad’s mop of russet brown hair. Both the pup's body language instantly relaxing and the sheer utter relief written across his freckled-face is damn near palpable.

Due to his fairly good mood, Sandor is feeling especially generous, knowing that it must surely be the Little Bird’s kindness rubbing off on him. Reaching for his money pouch, he retrieves a Copper Star and tosses it to the pup.

Catching the coin, the stable boy looks at it before a quizzical expression causes his dirt-smeared brow to furrow over his intensely blue eyes. “Milord?”

“Let’s call it a bonus for your taking such good care of my wife’s mare,” he says, making the curiousness instantly melt away to reveal immense gratitude. “Keep up the good work and that promised Stag is still going to be yours tomorrow,” Sandor adds with a chuckle at how eagerly the boy is nodding his head and promising to treat Maiden as if she were the King’s very own cherished and prized noble steed.  

“I promise milord, I won’t let ya down—nor yer wife, either; you’ll see!”

“Aye; I’m counting on you, pup.”

 

Giving Maiden a pat down once more, he finally makes it over to his beast who’s excited nickering is now turning into blowing and snorting, anxiously hoping his master is here to take him for a ride. Stranger never was one for staying stabled for very long; he has always been full of energy and extremely eager to go, go, go!

“Easy there, boy… we’re not leaving just yet; still got another day here,” he says while rubbing his horse’s nose and nuzzling him back. “I know… you’re anxious to get back on the road, aren’t you? But we promised our Little Bird two night’s rest in that inn, did we not?” he soothingly appeases to Stranger as if he understands every word spoken.

Judging by the way Stranger has instantly calmed down, he very well might be able to understand what was said, after all. “Or is it just the mention of our Little Bird that’s calmed you down, eh boy?” he asks his horse, knowing how much of a calming influence Sansa can be for him, so it may not be that much of a stretch to think that she can have the same effect on Stranger.

Sandor has definitely noticed how he’s not been as consumed with anger as much these last eight days as he generally was in King’s Landing—he can only attribute being around Sansa as the cause in dampening his rage. He also thinks that she may be aware of his change in temperament, as well. He just hopes she actually likes the changes in him, and appreciates how strongly he’s trying to keep his temper in check, for her sake.

 

Opening the latch on the gate to Stranger’s stall, he leads him out so the stable boy can muck it out and put fresh water, hay, and feed in his troughs for him. As Sandor begins brushing Stranger down, the young stable boy grabs his shovel and broom, and starts cleaning out the stall.

 

The rest of his visit to the stables goes by uneventfully. Before he leads Stranger back into his stall, he puts his purchases in the far left-hand corner of it so that anyone would have to lose any sense they may possibly have by trying to get past his warhorse to rummage for any valuables. However, he decides to take one of the canvas sacks with him to carry Sansa’s purchases.

For an extra measure of security, Sandor offers the stable boy yet one more Copper that he can earn, on top of the one he got from him a couple of hours ago, and the Stag he was promised yesterday, if he makes sure no one sniffs around either of his two horses. As Sandor figured, the pup agrees wholeheartedly.

Now, time to get back to my precious Little Bird! Fuck he’s missed her and it’s only been about three hours! If he’s this damn eager to see Sansa after such a short time apart, he has no idea what he’ll do, or how he’ll manage, if King Robb won’t allow him to stay with her. One thing’s for certain, though… if Sansa still wants him to stay with her once they reach her family, and her brother won’t allow it, Sandor will not be leaving her without a fight!

He is fairly certain that her family will try to make her choose, though: either her sworn shield, who’d gladly kill and die for her, or the family who left her to suffer at the paws of their sworn enemy. A part of him would like to think that Sansa would be torn on who to choose; but Sandor is a realist. He knows Sansa would choose her family over her dispensable protector. If he remembers correctly, her Tully mother’s House words are ‘Family, Duty, Honor,’ after all; it’s ingrained in her to choose them. She can always find herself another sword who’d more than likely love the opportunity to lay down his life for her.

However, if by some fucking miracle Sansa did choose to stay with the only person who has ever put her wants, needs, and safety first, Sandor would whisk her away to some far off exotic locale faster than those damn fish and wolves could ever even think about blinking. Could take her to Braavos, mayhap… buy her a manse and get her some servants, like she deserves.

Or could mayhap take my chirping Little Bird to the Summer Isles, he muses with a chuckle at the remembrance of mockingly telling her how she was like a pretty little talking bird from the Summer Isles, when he first met her. Somehow, even though he was originally making fun of her by calling her Little Bird, the moniker has turned into an affectionate term of endearment. Fuck, even Sansa calls herself a Little Bird, now, too!

He hates knowing how rude he was to her at first; and how he used to mock her courtesies and naivety. He knows he only did so to try and distance himself from her; to keep the heart he thought long ago petrified into stone from crossing over the line. Didn’t work, of course—despite Sandor’s best efforts at being an arse, Sansa’s kind, sweet, gentleness still saw the Hound falling, snout over paws, in love with her.

 

Finally reaching the inn, Sandor cannot fight the excitement at seeing Sansa again. Knowing that he’s got to take her to the sept soon, the entire time he was walking back to her, his eyes were constantly scanning his surroundings, looking for any possible dangers or threats.

Having not seen anything out of the ordinary on his trek back, he grunts and nods an acknowledgment to Tansy, who’s sitting in some patrons lap, before taking the stairs two at a time. Making it back to their room, he raps a couple of knocks on the door. 

“It’s me, Little Bird.”

“Sandor!” he hears her excitedly chirp out loud from the other side of their door. “I’m coming…!” Seven hells, he thinks, feeling his loins already starting to stir at the double meaning such a simple phrase can mean.

Hearing the door being unbarred, he instinctively runs his fingers through his hair to try and cover his scars from where the wind blew it about. As soon as the door opens, he is greeted by a Little Bird launching herself into his arms, and feeling hers wrapping around his leather-clad waist. The force at which she flew at him nearly had them both toppling over, had he not braced himself for the impact at the last moment.

“What’s all this about, Little Bird?” he asks, gently patting her back. Feeling her regretfully letting him go, the smile she gives him makes his heart skip a beat.

“Sorry, Sandor; was just worried about you. I’m so glad you’re home… erm, I mean back!” she says with a very intense blush. ‘Home?’ She did just say ‘glad you’re home…’ right?

“Are you alright? You didn’t run into any trouble or anything, did you?” she asks, apparently trying to direct his attention away from her little slip up of welcoming him ‘home.’

“Aye, Sansa, I’m fine,” he rasps as he closes and bars the door behind him. “Got you an oilcloth tent, in case we run into any rain, plus a longbow with a quiver and a few arrows so I can hunt some larger game for us, once we reach the Westerlands. Oh, found you a sack, here, for whatever supplies you find this evening. There is also a surprise for a certain Little Bird; but she won’t be seeing it until after we leave here tomorrow.”

Taking the canvas sack from him, she places it near their saddlebags. “A surprise? But, Sandor, my nameday was yesterday, and you’ve already given me so much!” she says, even though her smile and eyes say that she’s very pleased with the thought of being spoiled, just a bit more.

“Well, this isn’t for your nameday, Little Bird; it’s just something I saw and thought you’ll be able to use once winter is here, to keep you warm.”

“What is it?” she excitedly asks, curiosity very much piqued.

“Oh, no… not telling; you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow morning!” he says, not even trying to keep from chuckling at her rather adorable pout.

“You about ready to head over to that sept?” he asks, trying to change the subject to keep her from begging him to find out what the ‘surprise’ is, knowing all too well how he’d cave in and tell her. He can’t deny her anything.

“Let me show you your Bride’s Cloak first; finished it little more than half an hour ago,” Sansa says as she walks over to where she has draped the cloak over one of the chairs and shakes it open for him to see.

“You’ve finished it already?” Sandor is quite surprised she got it completed in such a short amount of time. Normally work done so fast would look rushed and sloppy; but Sansa’s stitches look just as beautiful as Elandria’s. He can tell that Sansa took great care to do as perfect work as she could, since the cloak means so much to him.

“Told you it wouldn’t take very long. So… what do you think?”

Inspecting the now completed cloak, he tries to fight back the intense emotions threatening to overflow. Elandria would have been so damn happy to see it like this; however, she would have been happier still to see him cloaking his bride—cloaking Sansa. “Looks…” he begins when his voice emotionally breaks. Clearing his throat, he starts over.

“Looks beautiful; thank you, Little Bird.”

“You are very welcome, Sandor. Here, why don’t you put it on so I can see how it hangs on you. Your sister started this when you were but a little boy; you are very much a man, now,” she says as she hands him the cloak. He did not miss how she looked him over from head to toe when she called him a man, either. “I’d like to see if any adjustments are going to be needed.”

Sandor puts the cloak on, as Sansa asked, and turns around for her to see. It falls nearly to the floor with his height, only an inch or two shy of pooling around his feet. As Sansa approaches him from behind, he feels her pulling his hair from inside the cloak, before feeling her smooth the fabric down with her hand. Whoa! Wait a minute… did Lady Sansa Stark’s hand actually linger a bit longer on my arse? Sandor incredulously, yet amusingly, wonders, feeling a slight pressure against his backside.

“Looks absolutely incredible, on you, Sandor! Doesn’t appear like any adjustments will be needed, either. Elandria must have somehow known—or was able to correctly surmise, at least—just how impressively large a man her precious baby brother would grow to be!” Sansa says as he turns back around to face her. ‘Impressively large…?’ Little Bird, you’ve absolutely no idea just how ‘impressively large’ you can so easily make me ‘grow to be,’ Sandor licentiously thinks.

As he makes to take the cloak off, Sansa asks “would you like to see how it looks being worn? Here, put it on me, so you can see it on,” she says as she holds her hair up for him to drape the cloak over her narrow shoulders. Wait… what? Cloak Sansa… in my Bride’s Cloak?

Sandor knows that draping his Bride’s Cloak over Sansa’s shoulders will feel a bit surreal. Gods know how he’s both fantasized about, and dreamt of, cloaking her in his House colors so many times, that he could probably do so with his eyes closed! Of course, each of those imaginary times were generally in a sept, and with Sansa vowing herself to be his Lady Wife; not in an inn, on the run from the King, and her only offering to wear it so that he can see how the completed cloak looks on.

Steeling his nerves, he removes his cloak and drapes it over her shoulders. Fastening the clasp made from two snarling silver dogs across her collarbone, he notices that she seems to have a blush gracing her cheeks, once again. With a sweet, yet rather shy smile, she slowly turns around and shakes the cloak out so that the finally completed three black dogs are visible. The fabric pools considerably at her feet, unlike how it did on him. On top of that though, Sandor cannot help but feel as if the cloak looks to have been made to fit Sansa Stark, specifically. She looks stunning in my colors.

“Well? Do you like it?”

“Aye, Sansa; it’s perfect,” he rather wistfully rasps. You make it perfect, Little Bird; if only I could cloak you for real.

She removes his cloak after a few moments, and folds it with great care before handing it back to him. Putting the cloak back in the bottom of one of his saddlebags, he turns around to find Sansa holding her brush and her hair-fork.

Walking over to him, she gives him a bashful smile before holding the two items out to him. “Would you mind?” she asks, sounding a bit shy. Taking the proffered items from her hands, he tries not to let her see just how excited he is about having another opportunity to run his fingers through her hair.

After turning around to give him access to her hair, he proceeds to take his time to thoroughly brush it before putting it up in her hair-fork, just as he did yesterday.

Walking over to collect her grey woolen cloak from where it’s laying over the back of a chair, he drapes it around her shoulders, clasps it, and pulls her hood up over her hair.

“Ready to go?”

Nodding in response, Sandor leads her to the door before unbarring it and guiding her out of their room. Since there’s no way to lock the door from the outside, he’ll have to rely on the servants of the inn to make sure their room is undisturbed. Seeing the same young servant girl who tended to them last night wiping off one of the wooden trestle tables in the common room, Sandor offers the little waif an opportunity to earn a Silver Stag if she can ensure that their room and belongings will remain safe and untouched while they are out.

 

Reaching for Sansa’s delicate little hand, they leave the Peach and quietly walk through the relatively crowded market square, heading towards the tiny sept perched upon a small hill off the main road, right next to the grey river stone holdfast. As they meander through the throngs of denizens congregating near various stalls, Sandor cannot help but chuckle at the adorable way his Little Bird’s head is swiveling this way and that.

Every time some merchant—or just something shiny from various stalls, for that matter—catches her attention, Sansa’s little head damn near rotates itself right off of her slender neck, with her eyes widening in excitement. My lovely Little Bird looks more like a bright-eyed owl, Sandor humorously thinks at seeing the look of wonder painted across her face and hearing her occasionally chirp out a faint “oooh! How pretty!”  

Noticing the fountain at the heart of the market square, Sansa excitedly points to it and proudly exclaims—though thankfully only loud enough for him to hear—“look Sandor! It’s in the shape of a Leaping Trout; just like my Lady Mother’s family sigil!” She must not have seen the famous ‘Stoney Sept fountain’ yesterday, he figures, as several young pups were playing and splashing about it when they arrived in town.

“Aye; Stoney Sept is just barely considered a part of the Riverlands. We are right on the border of the Westerlands, so this is probably the furthest south-eastern town that’s under the rule of your House Tully,” he rasps to her.

Noticing the look of longing in her eyes as she stares at the fountain displaying her mother’s House sigil, Sandor is beginning to wonder if Sansa is wanting to change their initial plan of heading towards, and living in, the Westerlands for a couple of moons.

Seeing a secluded alley between two half-timber and stone shops, Sandor leads Sansa to perch on a large log that’s been whittled into a rustic bench, so that they can talk privately and without fear of being overheard. Kneeling down in front of her, he asks “I know that you are missing your family, Little Bird; so, would you rather we travel to Riverrun instead of Deep Den once we leave here tomorrow?”

Awaiting her response, Sandor is honestly hoping she will want to stay their original westward course, as that means he will get to have Sansa all to himself for a while longer. He’s been rather enjoying their time together these last eight days. With it just being the two of them, the Little Bird has begun to spread her wings and fly without having to worry about what anyone will say or think.

Over the last several days, Sandor has witnessed her saying and doing things that she would have never been allowed to do while under either Joffrey’s imprisonment or the strict Lady Catelyn Stark’s ever watchful eye.

Her newfound freedom is letting Sandor get to know a side of Sansa that has, apparently, been lying dormant for most of her sixteen years; a side of her that he cherishes and adores. Sure, Sandor was already completely in love with the Little Bird, and long before they ever left King’s Landing, too. However, seeing how she is once she was freed from her gilded cage just makes him love her all the more!

“Honestly, I kind of feel as if it would be safer to continue on to Deep Den; don’t you think? I mean, so far we have been very fortunate not running into anyone searching for us. So, wouldn’t heading deeper into one of the first areas Joffrey is likely to send a search party just tempt fate, considering how we’ve only been gone for eight days?”

“This entire adventure of ours is your orchestration, Little Bird; I’m letting you call the shots,” he says, earning a smile of gratefulness from her. It isn’t very likely Sansa has ever been allowed to make such a huge decision before, as most highborn ladies are told what they are to do, and when they are to do it. Sandor can tell that she is appreciative with knowing that he respects her choices.

“I don’t really like the idea of taking you further north into the Riverlands just yet, either, as there are probably Lannisters and Baratheons only a couple of days ride behind us,” he adds, glad that she seemed to have felt the same concern as he did. “So… we’re still heading to the Westerlands then, yes?”

Yes! Tomorrow morning we leave Stoney Sept, and head west,” she confirms with excitement in both her face and voice. “I’ve always wanted to see the Westerlands; Maester Luwin’s geography lessons always made it sound so breathtaking!” Not nearly as breathtaking as you, Little Bird.

“The mountains and forests of the Westerlands are quite beautiful; one of the only things I ever missed when I left Clegane Keep,” Sandor agrees, retaking her hand, and gently pulling her to her feet to continue their trek up the hill to the sept.

 

Finally reaching their destination, Sansa immediately leads him towards the wall at the back of the small seven-sided, single room sept, opposite the door. Having knelt in front of a small statue of the Mother, Sandor suddenly feels Sansa pulling him down to his knees, next to her, by his hand.

Finding himself now face to marble face in front of one of the seven aspects of the Seven Who Are One, he realizes that Sansa is apparently not going to let him off the hook from having lost that wager with her yesterday. Whereas usually, Sandor would scoff at the idea of visiting a sept—while being sober, at least—he is honestly only feigning his annoyance with being forced to pray.

When he decided just last night to allow himself to actually hope Sansa may develop some kind of romantic feelings for him, the thought of trying to pray to the Gods for help didn’t really sound all too terrible of an idea, after all.  

 

With their visit to the sept going by smoothly, both Sandor and Sansa continue lighting candles at each of the Gods altars and remain silent during their prayers. Definitely, do not need her to hear my sheer desperation! Bad enough the Gods have to hear it; if they are actually even real, that is.

 

Touching his shoulder from where she’s now standing beside him, Sansa quietly says “I’m ready whenever you are, Sandor,” about an hour and seven lit candles later. Sandor didn’t even realize that his eyes were still closed while he’s been kneeling in front of the small statue of the Maiden for the past several minutes.

He is honestly rather surprised with how he found his silent prayers coming to him with such ease; especially with the Maiden. Sandor had specifically saved Her for last as he is hoping that She might could help him with winning the love of his very own maidenly Little Bird.

Once he moved on to kneel in front of the Maiden, while Sansa, herself, knelt in front of the Warrior, Sandor’s hopes, dreams, and pleading requests managed to flow out of him as if he were a raging river racing towards a waterfall.

The first time—and also the last time—Sandor ever tried praying in his adult life was that buggering night of the Bread Riots. He was so piss-drunk that night, though, that he doesn’t even remember stumbling into the Red Keep’s small sept in the first place. Nor stumbling back out of it either, for that matter!

Therefore, it isn’t as if Sandor has a lot of experience with what one does when they pray; hells, he had to ask Sansa what you’re supposed to say once you’re done praying to each of the seven aspects. It’s ‘Amen,’ apparently.

He used to visit the small sept of Clegane Keep with Elandria when he was just a pup, of course; though after she had died, he never stepped foot there again.

“Aye, I’m done,” he replies, making to stand beside Sansa. His sore knees are definitely thankful to be off of the cold, hard flagstone floor. 

Taking her small hand once again, he leads her out of the sept and back towards market square.

“Thank you for bringing me to the sept, Sandor,” she says as they are approaching the textile merchant’s stall he promised to let her stop at.

“You’re welcome, Little Bird,” he rasps in response as they enter the wooden and canvas booth.

 

Sandor had no idea that there could be so many fucking colors and patterns of fabric, essentially turning the stall into a bombardment against his eyes. There were hundreds of merchant stalls just like this one back in King’s Landing, but since Sandor had no need to ever visit them, he never paid them any mind.

As a buxom, middle-aged woman with dull, muddy brown hair who’s wearing layers upon layers of what is probably every color and type of fabric known to man addresses Sansa, Sandor stands back and leans against a wooden post holding up the stall. I think I’ll just stand back here and let the two women talk shop…!

 

After a good half hour, Sansa nervously approaches him. “Is three Silver Stags too much?”

“Nah, Little Bird, that’s fine; get whatever you want or need,” he replies as he collects the coins from his money pouch and hands them to Sansa. She immediately takes the coins and pays the merchant who is now cutting several long pieces of fabric. Fuck, how many garments does she think I actually need?

Cradling her bundled purchases against her chest, she heads back towards Sandor with a beautiful smile. He offers to carry the bundle for her but she seems quite insistent on carrying it herself and almost looks as if she’s trying to protect it from some non-existent foe!

As her hands are otherwise occupied, Sandor instead places his hand on the small of her back, and protectively guides her back to the inn and their room. There is only one man this side of the inn as Sandor and Sansa head upstairs; thankfully though, he seems more interested in checking the bottom of his wooden tankard for holes, rather than in either of the two fugitives from King’s Landing.

As soon as they make it back to their room, he checks to make sure their things were undisturbed. Excusing himself for a moment, he heads back downstairs, locates the little servant girl he made the deal with, and pays her the promised Stag, eliciting a huge grin and immense gratitude.

Returning back upstairs, he bars the door once again as the Little Bird proceeds to show him everything she bought.

Sandor can tell that his Little Bird is really in her element right now; she looks positively radiant with her excitement. The beautiful happy smile she’s wearing while showing him several different heavy woolen fabrics in dark brown, deep blue, forest green, and charcoal grey—of which she says is to make him a warmer cloak than the much thinner one he has—is warming his heart. It does not escape his knowledge, however, that the two of them will essentially have matching cloaks if she indeed makes him one from the grey wool she bought.

Not that he minds, of course. Sandor honestly rather likes the thought of having matching cloaks with Sansa. After all, many husbands and wives cloaks are made from the same fabrics and therefore match. If theirs are matching, or are at least similar, then perhaps anyone who doesn’t know the truth actually sees them together will automatically assume that Sandor and Sansa truly are husband and wife; a thought that serves to make Sandor’s heart skip a beat. Fucking hells… I’m getting to be just as bad as Sansa was when she thought that life at court, and with Joffrey, would be like a damn song, Sandor muses, trying not to laugh at his own silly, and truthfully rather naive, thoughts.

It seems as though Sansa has managed to buy enough fabrics, trimmings, and notions to create him several garments, including new shirts, tunics, and even some warmer woolen breeches. At least she isn’t going to try to make me any new smallclothes; that would be a bit… awkward—especially for her!

Showing him two more fabrics, he sees that they are a golden yellow wool and a buttery soft, lightweight black leather. “Since I found some fabrics reasonably close to your House colors, I thought I might could make you something slightly more formal… for Robb’s wedding, I mean. I thought to make you a nice doublet out of this golden yellow wool to wear with a jerkin from the black leather over it,” she offers with a bit of shyness in her features. So, Sansa still wants me to stay with her once we’ve reached her family at the Twins, it seems, Sandor happily realizes. Or, at least she still does, so far….

“The merchant did have a fancier golden yellow silken brocade, but I thought you might appreciate the simpler and more practical wool. I know you aren’t one to be very showy,” she says while worrying her bottom lip and slightly wringing her hands.

“I’ve never had such fine looking clothing, Sansa. I’m sure to love anything you decide to make for me, Little Bird; I mean it” Sandor earnestly says, causing a look of sheer relief to show in Sansa’s eyes.

“I am glad you went with the plainer fabric though; the last thing I need is to look like I’m prancing around as if I were that buggering damned Florian,” he teases, eliciting a laugh from Sansa. Though, with how much of a fool I am for Sansa, I pretty much am her Florian. Hmm… would that make her my Jonquil, then?

 

As Sansa puts away her newly purchased sewing supplies in the canvas sack he bought for her, Sandor hears light knocking on their door. Unbarring the door a bit and looking out, he sees their usual servant girl holding a wooden tray of food and two flagons of wine. Opening the door wider, she surprisingly looks him in the face as she tells him “since you an’ yer wife are back, I thought ya might like a bite ta eat?”

Taking the tray from her, he thanks the little waif as she heads back downstairs. Barring the door again, he carries the tray over to the table they ate at this morning. Coming to the table and sitting down next to him, Sansa pours them each a goblet of their preferred wine before she places two bowls of the same venison stew from yesterday before them, and sets the bread and butter between them to share.

As they both eat in relative silence, enjoying the delicious meal, Sandor cannot help but slightly chuckle causing Sansa to look at him with confusion furrowing her pretty brow. “You even eat like a little bird,” he explains while watching her daintily nibble on a bite of buttered bread. Sansa simply smiles and prettily blushes as she continues to eat her supper.

 

As soon as they are done eating, Sandor sees Sansa suddenly covering her mouth as a yawn escapes her. “Sleepy, Little Bird?” he says with a chuckle before her contagious yawn hits him as well.

“Apparently so; though it seems as if you are rather tired as well,” she says with a playful smile.

“Aye, I am feeling a little sleepy; must be due to our full bellies. If we turn in early tonight, we might could get an early start tomorrow; what do you say?”

“Sounds good to me,” she agrees. “If you could take the tray of dishes back downstairs, it would give me the chance to change into my sleeping shift.”

Just the mere thought of seeing Sansa in that same thin linen sleeping shift she wore last night is causing his blood to start flowing hotly through his veins, sending a tingly jolt surging straight to his groin. Fighting back a guttural groan, he nods in acquiescence, not exactly trusting his traitorous voice at the moment.

Picking up the tray of empty dishes, he does as he was asked and takes it downstairs, leaving it with a kitchen wench. Standing outside their door for a few minutes longer, he knocks and asks if she is done changing for bed.

At hearing her response, he enters and bars the door for the final time, seeing as tomorrow they will be leaving; a thought that is actually kind of bittersweet. Sandor’s rather enjoyed their two days in Stoney Sept; this visit with Sansa was far more pleasurable than the time he visited here with King Robert several years ago.   

 

Not only has Sansa changed for bed, but she has also removed her hair-fork and let her hair down. With the way that her thick coppery waves are framing her heart-shaped face and falling to the middle of her slender back, topped with her wearing that white linen sleeping shift, Sansa looks every bit the living embodiment of the Maiden Above. If given the chance, Sandor would gladly worship at Sansa’s altar, every single fucking day.

He knows that burying himself balls deep inside of Sansa Stark would be the closest he could ever hope to get to the Seven Heavens. Though I am fairly certain I’d have a far better chance at making it to the real Seven Heavens than ever feeling the tightness of the Little Bird’s sweet, wet cunt wrapped around my cock.

As Sansa walks over to her side of the bed, promptly crawls in, and pulls the linens, woolen blanket, and furs up around her, Sandor tries to push the imagery of her spreading those supple thighs open wide enough to accommodate his bulk out of his mind. A task that is proving extremely difficult.  

Before joining her in bed, Sandor removes his sword belt and places his money pouch near her hair-fork on the desk. He then changes into the linen shirt he slept in last night and removes his boots and socks. Deciding to change his breeches in the morning, as he’ll need to put on some smallclothes before they start their journey again, anyway, he walks over to the left side of the large tester bed. Setting his unsheathed sword down within reach, he finally crawls into bed next to Sansa.

Both of them yawning again, and quite nearly in unison, says that they are apparently too sleepy to engage in any small talk tonight. Normally Sandor isn’t a very talkative man, and he usually scorns those who are excessively chatty; however, he has discovered that conversing with Sansa is, actually, rather enjoyable!

Unexpectedly, though definitely not unwelcomed, Sansa leans over and places a gentle lingering kiss on his lightly bearded right cheek. Sandor wishes more than ever now that there had been a barber in Stoney Sept so that he could have gotten a shave.

Even though he is unable to really feel how soft her lips are through the growth of his facial hair, just the thought alone of having her lips meeting his face, more than makes up for his whiskers blocking the sensation. He can hardly believe though, that just since yesterday, he has had Sansa Stark’s lips pressing against his right cheek five separate times now.

Not that he’s counting, of course; except that he is counting, and he is honestly hoping the number of kisses will continue to climb! And mayhap even travel closer and closer to my lips, with each and every one, he hopefully wishes, feeling a bit of warmth spreading across his right cheek at the notion, before suddenly wondering if his scarred lips would actually hurt the delicate, smooth skin of her own.

Mayhap there’s a reason why I’ve never been kissed, he morosely contemplates, knowing that a person’s lips are quite sensitive. My rough scarred lips would more than likely cause more pain and discomfort than any enjoyment an inexperienced kiss from me could ever even bring, he figures, realizing that he should probably just strive to be content with any and all of the chaste, platonic affection Sansa’s actually willing to give him. Dogs shouldn’t be greedy when receiving hand-outs, after all.

“Goodnight, Sandor; sweet dreams,” Sansa chirps out with a sweet smile, interrupting his disconcerting thoughts.

“Aye; goodnight, Little Bird,” he rasps in response, giving her a slight half-smile as he wills his negative emotions out of his mind.

As of right now, Sansa is staying on her left side and facing him, and Sandor cannot help but hope that she’ll actually end up in his arms once again, come morning light.

 

Just as Sandor was hoping, he manages to awaken right in time to find his Little Bird slowly making her way over to his side of the bed. It’s almost as if some kind of invisible force is drawing her closer to him; a force for which he has absolutely no desire to fight!

He watches in amusement as Sansa unconsciously inches herself closer and closer to him, until they are ultimately sharing his pillow once again. Feeling his Little Bird burrowing herself down into his arms and snuggly against his chest, he bites back the groan threatening to escape him once he feels her arm snaking over his side and firmly wrapping around his back, pulling him deliciously tighter into her.

With her pretty plump lips slightly parted, her deep even breathing lulls Sandor back to sleep with neither of them waking again until morning.

 

Awaking before Sansa, Sandor just lays there for several long minutes while enjoying getting to hold her, knowing that this is probably the last chance he’ll have at sharing a bed with her; unless they stay in any more inns, of course. Tonight though, they’ll be back to sleeping beside one another in their own bedrolls, so he wants to make this moment last and enjoy it for as long as possible.

From the way Sansa’s face looks in the faint early morning light streaming through the window, to the way her body feels pressed so firmly against his own and with her arm tightly wound around his back, Sandor is committing every single detail to memory. This way, when he’s all alone in his bedroll tonight, he can at least close his eyes and conjure up the pure bliss he is feeling right this very moment.

 

After nearly half an hour, or so, of just holding Sansa while she sleeps peacefully, Sandor very lightly kisses the crown of her head before, reluctantly, trying to extract himself from her embrace. Smiling in earnest at hearing her unconsciously protest him removing her arm from around his back, and quite nearly struggling due to the tight grip her hand has on his linen shirt, Sandor finally frees himself from her body.

As soon as he crawls out of the bed, Sansa curls her arms up under her, looking especially like a pretty little bird, roosting in her nest. Deciding to leave her asleep while he gets dressed, he carefully pulls the linens and woolen blanket back up over her so she won’t get chilled.

Hurriedly and silently shucking his shirt and breeches, Sandor retrieves his freshly washed smallclothes, woolen socks, a dark grey tunic, and a pair of black leather breeches and quickly readies for their departure before Sansa wakes. Having decided to wear his light armor again today, as well, he quietly dresses in his Clegane autumn gold padded woolen gambeson, slinks himself into his mail hauberk, and puts his black broiled leather, diamond studded brigandine back on before strapping his sword belt to his waist and adorning all of his usual blades. 

Just as he grabs his money pouch and tucks it into his sword belt, the Little Bird starts to stir from their nest. “Rise and shine, Little Bird; time to preen those pretty feathers of yours so that we can fly away from here,” he teases, causing Sansa to try smiling and laughing through a stretch and a yawn, and not at all succeeding.

“Good morning, Sandor,” she groggily says as she sits up in bed, wiping the sleep from her eyes, as the linens and blanket pool around her waist. With her sleeping shift’s neckline hanging loose, thus exposing her creamy white left shoulder, her hair all a mess from her slumber, and with red creases marking up her face from their pillow, Sandor can honestly say that Sansa Stark has rarely looked so damn pretty!

“Good morning, my sleepy Little Bird,” he rasps before dolefully realizing how he is getting a glimpse of what her future Lord Husband will be fortunate enough to wake up to every damn day. Without even knowing who the lucky little lordling fortunate enough to be allowed to call Sansa his Lady Wife will yet be, Sandor already hates him! Whoever the buggering bastard is, one thing is for certain… he is not good enough for her!

“Have you been awake long?” Sansa chirps while crawling out of bed, interrupting his plotting of how to slowly, and painfully, butcher her unknown future Lord Husband, should he make the fatal mistake of mistreating her as Joffrey has done.

“Nah; only a few minutes,” he lies, internally smiling to himself and enjoying the memory of them sleeping wrapped up in one another’s arms for both nights in Stoney Sept. Aye; I do believe I’ll rather miss this town… or rather this bed, at least!

“I’ll head downstairs in a minute to see if the rations I requested are going to be ready for when we leave. That should give you time to get dressed,” he says as Sansa begins brushing out her long copper locks. “Hopefully they’ll have some food ready so we can break our fasts before getting back out on the road, too,” he adds, sitting in the chair by the desk as he finally puts on some clean woolen socks, pulls his boots on, and slips his fighting knife into the sheath he’s had built into the inner side of his right boot.

Before he has a chance to stand up and go downstairs as he had planned, he’s suddenly finding Sansa on his left-hand side and reaching for his hair with brush in hand. “The Little Bird going to groom her dog every day, now?” Sandor teases with a smirk.

“No, but the Little Bird is going to help her Hound brush his hair every day, though,” she retorts back while beginning to brush out his tangles and making it quite obvious that she did not appreciate him disparagingly calling himself a dog… yet again!

After Sansa finishes brushing out his hair for him, she asks once again if he’d mind putting hers up in her hair-fork for her. He’s beginning to humorously wonder if this is how things are always going to be now: Sansa brushing his hair and him brushing hers. Just call me the Little Bird’s handmaiden… or better yet, let’s make that ‘Houndmaiden!

 

Once he’s finished preening his Little Bird’s feathers for her, Sandor finally goes to check on the rations he ordered from the inn’s kitchen their first day. Informing the kitchen girls that he’ll be back shortly to pick up their new supplies on their way out, he ends up carrying a tray of food back with him so that he and Sansa can break their fasts. Seeing as she is not quite finished getting dressed yet though, he is having to wait outside their door for a couple minutes longer.

Once she opens the door for him, he goes to place the wooden tray of food on the table they’ve been eating at these last two days.

As they are enjoying their morning meal consisting of two steaming bowls of oat porridge topped with cinnamon and honey, two tangy poached pears each, a small loaf of warm spicy ginger bread to share, four soft-boiled eggs for the two of them, six grilled pork sausage links, of which Sansa gives him four of, and a flagon of mulled wine, Sandor isn’t sure whether he should be thankful or regretful that no peaches were included this morning!

 

Having finally finished breaking their fasts, Sansa and Sandor gather all of their belongings. After double and triple checking the room to ensure that they are not leaving anything behind, they both head downstairs with Sandor carrying the wooden tray to trade for their rations.

With Sansa now carrying their newly restocked rations and Sandor carrying the majority of their saddlebags, the two begin their walk back towards the stables, leaving the Peach behind to continue their journey west.

 

As soon as they reach the stables, Sansa immediately begins pleading with him to see the ‘surprise’ he mentioned yesterday, obviously having remembered it. After making her beg for a few minutes, enjoying the slight adorable pout on her lips from making her think she’d have to wait even longer to receive it, he finally pulls the shadowskin out of the canvas sack and gives it to his Little Bird.  

“Oh, Sandor, it’s exquisite! I’ve never seen shadowskin in person before; where on earth did you find this?” she asks while feeling the soft fur with her hand and nuzzling her face against it.

“The tannery; where I got the archery set. Like it, then?” he asks, leaning against Stranger’s stall door, facing her, with his arms folded over his chest, and grinning at her adoration of the pelt.

“Oh, I absolutely adore it; thank you so much, Sandor,” Sansa beams as she’s suddenly hurrying over to him and reaches up to place her hand on the back of his neck. Gently pulling him down towards her, she places a sweet kiss on his right cheek, her supple lips lingering for a couple heartbeats before she’s, unfortunately, releasing him.

That… that’s six kisses to my cheek, now… in only three days! Despite Sandor’s elation in receiving yet another kiss to his cheek from Sansa, in the back of his mind, he cannot help but notice how each and every time her lips have actually met his face, it has always been to his right, unscarred, cheek.

Not that this fact surprises Sandor, of course; it’s just that a small part of him—well, let’s make that a huge part of me—was hoping that, by now, she might not shy away from actually kissing his scarred cheek… at least once. Especially considering how Sansa tends to be able to look at him as if she doesn’t even notice his scars, anymore. She obviously does, though….

“I thought it would help keep you warm once winter comes and we either, reach the North, or just run into colder weather,” he rasps, forcing the tinge of disappointment back into the recesses of his heart.

“Indeed! This will keep us toasty warm at night once the weather starts changing,” she says through a smile as she finally stops petting the pelt and refolds it, putting it back away in the sack. Wait… did I hear her correctly…? Sansa said ‘us?’ Sandor wonders, thinking his ears might be playing tricks with his mind. I did say ‘you…’ didn’t I?

“With the nights getting cooler and cooler, I’m just certain we’ll get to use this long before we ever reach the North; especially on any nights we can’t have campfires,” she adds, causing visions of snuggling up with Sansa beneath that fur to invade his mind. Or on top of it… with Sansa as naked as her nameday, Sandor fantasizes, before forcing himself out of such carnal thoughts. Fuck; down, you filthy damn dog!

 

As Sandor leads Stranger out of the stall to saddle and affix his bedroll and saddlebags to his mount, the young stable boy that’s been caring for Sansa’s mare offers to ready Maiden for them. Considering Sansa usually ends up riding with him anyway, Sandor figures that Maiden will have to be turned into a temporary packhorse. At least until he can find a rouncey, or even a mule, somewhere, to carry the new supplies they’ve bought these last two days.

After the stable boy leads Maiden out of her stall, the young lad saddles her and proceeds to affix Sansa’s bedroll and saddlebags to her back. Sandor tells the pup to leave the other things though, as he’ll affix them to her mount, himself; he wants to make sure that Sansa will be able to ride her should the need arise. Sandor can always use his dagger to cut the heavier items off, if need be, and try finding them later on in the event that he has to fight and have Sansa flee.  

 

Both horses now saddled, and their belongings securely mounted, Sandor pays the stable boy the promised coins, earning an enthusiastically heartfelt ‘thank you.’ He’s a good pup, Sandor humorously thinks, as the boy quickly bids them both ‘farewells’ and ‘safe travels’ before bolting towards the exit; he is extremely eager, it seems, to run home and show his mother all the coin he’s earned these last two days. Probably more than he’ll earn in three moons… at least.

“Ready to leave, Little Bird?” he asks, now that they are all alone.

Sansa simply smiles, nods, and rushes over so that he can lift her into their saddle and mount behind her. As soon as Sandor puts his arm around her narrow waist, Sansa’s small hand is finding his before she’s lacing her fingers between his own against her belly, just as she’s become accustomed to doing these last several days. Not that he minds, of course.

Exiting the stables, they head back towards the main road through town and depart through the northern gate, leaving Stoney Sept behind.

Just in case anyone may actually be watching them, and taking note of the direction they are heading, Sandor decides to stay on the road they are traveling for a couple of leagues before veering off deep into the forest; then, they’ll head due west.

 

 

For the last four days, their travels westward have been a bit slower going than normal. This is due in part not only to the terrain becoming denser with forests, and considerably rockier the further west they travel, but also from the Little Bird starting her moonblood not even a full day out from Stoney Sept. She tried to keep this knowledge to herself at first; but after Sandor discovered her doubled over and whimpering in pain after setting some snares three nights ago, he forced her to tell him what was wrong.

He was terrified that she had gotten ill at first, so when Sansa reservedly confessed that she had only begun her moonblood, he started laughing, in sheer relief! The humiliated look on her pretty face had him reminding her once again, though, that he was Cersei’s dog, long before she ever passed him down to Joffrey. This wasn’t the first time he’s dealt with a woman during her flux. Because of Cersei though, Sandor had learned a few tricks to help lessen the cramping known to accompany the bleeding.

Sansa was very confused when Sandor started heating up a waterskin by setting it in his helm and placing it atop the burning embers of their campfire; until he then laid the heated skin across her lower belly, that is. As soon as the heat seeped through her woolen gown and shift, the Little Bird sighed in contentment, laid flat on her back in her bedroll, and fell fast asleep.

Every night for the last three saw Sandor reheating the waterskin for her. Two days ago though, when Sansa’s cramps were especially painful for her, he started a small campfire that morning and heated the waterskin so that he could help her hold it against her belly as they rode on. The constant jostling from Stranger was not helping her out any, but she said the heat from the waterskin helped alleviate her discomfort, considerably.

With her moonblood ending just this morning, they have been able to make up for a bit of the lost time from having to stop more frequently, so that she could tend to her needs. Sandor estimates that they are only about three or four days out from Deep Den, and even though they’ve been traveling alongside a stream, he can tell that Sansa is hopeful to find some small hamlet with an inn soon; just so that she can intimately clean herself a bit better.

Sandor thought at first that he’d be having to set up the tent he bought for her yesterday evening, but thankfully they rode right out of the darkening clouds. The cloudless skies have been holding today, as well, so in just about an hour, or so, they’ll finally stop for the night, set up camp, and sleep beneath the stars. Sansa seems to like stargazing at night; especially when the skies are clear enough for Sandor to point out the different constellations or wanderers that he spots.

 

After finding a suitable isolated clearing near the stream, Sandor asks “alright Little Bird, you ready to build us a nest for the night?” causing Sansa to lightheartedly laugh.

“Chirp chirp, tweet, chirp,” his Little Bird impishly responds with a mischievous smile, eliciting a boisterous bark of laughter from Sandor.

Silly Little Bird,” he mirthfully rasps while lightly tickling her sides from where she’s perched in front of him. Oh, big mistake, he thinks with a hiss and a groan once she furiously starts wiggling in their saddle, all the while trying to swat his hands away and loudly laughing, essentially causing her pert round arse to firmly grind against his groin. Fuck… don’t wake up now, he pleads to his cock, trying to will the damn thing back to sleep.

Cautiously dismounting Stranger, hoping that she won’t notice the beginnings of his bulging breeches, Sandor helps Sansa down and hands her their bedrolls. He then places the remainder of their belongings near where she’s setting up their nest per usual, before he unsaddles and tends to their horses.

 

Having just finished brushing down their mounts, he feeds them each the apple his Little Bird dug out of their saddlebags for them. He then tethers both Maiden and Stranger near the stream—though leaving Stranger’s tether considerably longer than Maiden’s—on the opposite of the small copse of trees shielding their campsite, to allow them to graze and drink their fill.

Giving Stranger a pat on his neck and a scratch beneath his forelock, he lasciviously teases to his beast “you have fun tonight, ol’ boy! Don’t you go hurting that little lass, though…. Remember, she is a maiden, after all; best to take things slowly!”

A couple of days ago Sandor happened to discover that Maiden has come into season, therefore garnering a considerable amount of… attention… from his virile stallion. Of course, just as he had suspected, as soon as Sandor mentioned to his Little Bird that they’d be having to keep an eye on the two horses, unless they wanted them to breed, saw Sansa immediately cooing to him that Stranger and Maiden were ‘in love…!’

However, it was his precious, sweet Little Bird so adorably declaring ‘oh, Sandor, it’s so romantic,’ followed by ‘we’ll be grandparents if they have a babe!’ whilst gazing at their mounts with stars in her eyes and her hands clasped together under her chin, that saw Sandor earnestly smiling at her naivety. If she has no problem with Stranger and Maiden breeding, then he won’t worry about trying to keep the two horses apart.

Maiden is Sansa’s little palfrey mare, after all; it should be her decision if she drops a foal or not, which led the Little Bird deciding to just let nature take its course. If Stranger and Maiden breed, she’s hoping to gift any foal possibly born to Arya.

Honestly, Sandor had thought to one day try breeding Stranger with selected mares to create a line of his own warhorses. Stranger may be a cantankerous arsehole of a horse, but many a knight and lord, alike, have expressed an admiration of both his battle prowess and his beauty as a stallion. Maiden might not have been the broodmare he had originally imagined to breed Stranger with, what with her sweet temperament and all; but fuck, who knows… perhaps Maiden’s ease of handling combined with Stranger’s size and battle skills will actually prove suitable for desirable warhorse stock.

“Don’t you let Stranger get too rough with you tonight, you hear? Remind that ornery bastard of mine that you are a Lady; he best be treating you as such or he’ll be having to answer to me… and to Sansa,” he teases the sweet little mare as he kisses the side of her beautiful face and pats her neck, eliciting a gentle nuzzle from the pretty palfrey.  

 

As Sandor makes it back to the other side of the small copse of trees where Sansa has been setting up their campsite, he is greeted by the sight of his Little Bird perched atop the shadowskin he bought for her. Since it seems to have gotten quite a bit cooler these last few hours, he doesn’t find it all that unusual that she would want to sleep beneath it tonight.

However, what he does find surprising is how she has spread the pelt out over both of their bedrolls! The furs they normally sleep beneath are rolled up and have been turned into improvised pillows. It seems as if Sansa has essentially created an actual bed for them to share tonight, right here in the middle of the damn forest! The edges of their bedrolls are even overlapping a bit, they are so closely positioned. Only Sansa Stark could make bedrolls look as cozy as a feather bed at an inn, Sandor humorously muses.

This, of course, only serves to bring back very pleasant memories from their two nights spent at the Peach. Memories of not only sharing a comfortably deep plush feather bed with Sansa, but of how she also ended up sharing his pillow and completely wrapping herself around him both nights, as well! He is sincerely hopeful that she may end up in his arms once again tonight, and feels that there’s a significantly greater chance of that happening now, considering the way she’s built their nest.

Sandor isn’t sure whether the two of them ended up in one another’s embrace these last four nights or not, seeing as how Sansa awoke before him, due to having to deal with her moonblood. If they did end up in one another’s arms, she never once mentioned it; nor gave any indication of it, either, for that matter. Surely if she awoke to find herself in his embrace, she’d have just moved her bedroll further away the next night, wouldn’t she? Unless, of course… there is any possible chance that Sansa could have actually liked finding herself wrapped up in my arms…?  

“Here is some food for your supper, Sandor; and also a wineskin for you,” Sansa chirps once she notices him, thus awaking him from his musings, while gesturing next to her. “Why don’t you go ahead and eat first, and then I will help you remove your armor, afterwards.”

“You are a Lady, Sansa; you shouldn’t be having to play the role of a squire,” he rasps in response as he removes his sword belt and placing his unsheathed sword next to his… next to their bedroll. Or mayhap it is more of a pallet, now…?

Picking up both the cloth bundle of food and his wineskin Sansa had readied for him, he heavily plops down beside her. Unstopping the skin, Sandor quaffs a big gulp of his Dornish Red, while nonchalantly wiping away the drops that’re dribbling from the gap between his lips with his sleeve, hoping she won’t notice.

“You know that I do not mind helping you, Sandor. Besides, that way you will get done much faster and can relax all the sooner,” she replies while unstopping her own wineskin for a small, ladylike sip.

Knowing what a futile effort it is to argue with his Little Bird, he silently unwraps his bundle of food and begins digging into his salted venison, a wedge of hard cheese, some bread, and a pear Sansa had left for him.

 

After having quietly eaten their small rationed supper, Sandor takes the final swig from his wineskin before putting it back near his saddlebags. Now that the skin’s empty, he’ll be sure to rinse out and refill it with fresh water from the stream, come morning.

With the way that Sansa has been rationing his wine since leaving King’s Landing, he has surprisingly found that he doesn’t really miss his usual inebriated state. Considering how he has not stopped drinking all together, though—having merely slowed his consumption down to only one or two wineskins per day, instead of his typical five to seven—he has thankfully been able to avoid the wine sickness one tends to get when suddenly abstaining from regularly partaking in drink, to the point of excess.

 

As Sansa removes her hair-fork, places it in one of her saddlebags, and starts brushing her hair out to braid for the night, Sandor stands to begin removing his armor. Not having worn his plate or mail over the previous three days, he won’t have to oil it down tonight, seeing as how the temperature has been cool enough for him not to have gotten very sweaty; he won’t have to worry about any rust forming just yet.

However, starting with this very morning, Sandor’s decided to wear his plate armor these next few days, though; with the closer they get to Deep Den, the more chances there are of running into people. He’d rather be prepared in case they come across any future… corpses… after all!

Straightening back up after removing his greaves, Sansa is now on his left-hand side and silently begins unbuckling his gorget, cuirass, pauldrons, and rerebraces for him. He sheds his plate armor relatively quickly with the task being shared between them.

As Sansa returns to their pallet, Sandor shimmies out of his hauberk—the metal loops catching on a couple of his long hairs, making him slightly wince—before neatly stacking it and his plate near their saddles beneath a towering pine. Finally, he rejoins his Little Bird for the night in the shared nest she built for them.

 

“This shadowskin is incredibly soft, and oh, so warm, Sandor,” Sansa says after a few quiet moments while running her hands all across the soft fur covering them. “I’m really glad you bought it for us.”

‘Us…?’ The thought that Sansa wants to share it with him, and the fact that she’s even turned their bedrolls into an extra-large pallet to do so, warms his heart, makes him smile, and serves to feed his ever growing hopefulness in possibly receiving her love, in return, one day.

 

After a few comfortably quiet moments of just lying next to one another beneath the argent crescent moon faintly illuminating the benighted sky, Sansa silently crawls out of their pallet from beneath the fur. “Something wrong, Little Bird?”

“What? Oh… no, Sandor; nothing’s wrong. Was just thinking that, with the shadowskin being so pleasantly warm and all, it might not be such a bad idea to smother the fire,” she says, looking at him from over her shoulder. “Do you agree, or no?”

“Clever Little Bird, indeed; if you don’t feel you’ll be needing it for warmth, then, by all means, go ahead and smother it. Damn sure don’t need to be drawing any notice to us; a campfire at night can be seen pretty far off,” he rasps in response, earning a smile from Sansa as she begins to kick dirt over their campfire, extinguishing it.

Once the embers are producing nothing more than wispy tendrils of smoke, she returns to their pallet and crawls back under the fur next to him. Sandor cannot help but incredulously wonder, though, if his mind is playing tricks on him, as it almost looks as if Sansa is laying closer to him now.

She was already considerably closer to him than they were last night, due to the way she’s combined their bedrolls, allowing them to share the shadowskin. Now, though, there seems to be only a couple of inches separating them. And that’s still a couple of inches too many, in Sandor’s opinion.

With her as close as she is, though, he knows he will be unable to hide how he is often scratching at his whiskers. Being so unused to facial hair as he is, Sandor’s half-beard is irritating much more than just his scars! The itching from the two-week old growth is just plain torture.

Fuck, knowing his luck, he’ll even end up getting fleas in the damn thing! A dog with fleas… now there’s something you don’t see every day, he sarcastically muses, mocking himself.

Sansa has offered numerous times to help him shave, of course; but each and every time he stubbornly refuses. He already felt unmanned when she took it upon herself to wash his hair for him; despite having actually enjoyed it, in the long run. Her shaving him, though, would make him feel just as emasculated, if not even worse!

On top of that, though, Sansa shaving his face would only serve to put his scars on display to her even more than they were when she washed his hair. To shave the parts of his face that are bothering him the most—the areas within his scars—she’d not only have to touch them, but she’d also have to come much closer to his face just to keep from cutting him. It’s not like Sandor doesn’t want to feel Sansa’s soft hand touching his mangled cheek; he wants to alright, just not like that.

In fact, Sandor desperately wants her little hand cupping his scarred cheek. To truly feel her fingertips gently tracing the craters and crevices of his marred flesh—lovingly trailing over the hills and valleys of his ruined visage. To actually discover that each and every caress allows his facade to burn into her memory, simply because she honestly loves his face so fucking much. That, in spite of his scars, or mayhap even with his scars, Sansa truly finds Sandor to be handsome.

What he does not want, however, is for the purpose of her touch to be grooming her dog! He would rather go his entire life never having her hands upon his face if that is the only reason why it will ever happen. 

So, no! Sandor will not be having Sansa Stark shave his face for him, no matter how much his growing beard is aggravating him, or irritating his scars. He’d like to try keeping at least some of his dignity, after all. Please, please, please let there be a barber in the Deep Den area, he silently pleads to any deity that may possibly be listening.

 

It seems that despite the extra-long day of travel tiring them out, plus being serenaded by the rather peaceful forest symphony surrounding them, both Sandor and Sansa are just unable to drift off to sleep. Noticing Sansa watching the night sky, he starts studying the stars, looking for any of the constellations or wanderers he’s yet shown her. The first thing he spots is the Red Wanderer, a dull red speck in the raven black sky that he pointed out to her just last night.

After a few minutes, he finally spots a constellation. Pointing towards a specific formation of stars, Sandor says “look, Little Bird, see the grouping of stars right over there? The Red Wanderer is right there, in the center…? That constellation is the Moonmaid.”

“I think I may have spotted the Ice Dragon, too,” she proudly responds while pointing to a different constellation.

“Aye, that’s it; if you follow its tail, it’ll lead you South. And see the blue star there… making up its eye?” he asks, moving her hand for her until her finger is now pointing towards it.

“I see it.”

“Follow that, and it’ll take you North… all the way to Winterfell,” he tells her, causing her to smile and a look of longing to spread across her face.

“Ha! Look, Sansa… what are the fucking odds?” he suddenly and mirthfully asks, causing Sansa to look at him before following his hand and finger to where he is pointing at a group of stars, directly above them. “It’s the Shadowcat!” Sandor adds, laughing at the coincidence of sleeping beneath not only the pelt of a shadowcat, but also underneath the Shadowcat constellation.

“Oh, how funny!” He can damn near hear the grin she’s wearing. “It is quite obviously a sign, Sandor! This just proves that we were not only supposed to sleep in this exact location, but also beneath the shadowskin you bought for us,” she proudly reasons, causing Sandor to slightly laugh.

 

After a few moments of the two of them silently watching the heavens above, Sansa says “there is that Red Comet. I swear, it doesn’t look like it has moved at all in the entire two years it’s been seen in the sky,” she adds, before quietly saying in nearly a whisper “it scares me.”

“What are you scared of?” Sandor asks, looking over to his right at Sansa lying next to him.

“So many people believe it means so many different things,” she begins. “Ser Arys Oakheart once told me that he was just certain the Red Comet was heralding Joffrey’s ascent to the Iron Throne, and that he would ‘triumph’ over his enemies. What if he is right?” Fucking Oakheart…!

“Weren’t you the one who told me just a few days ago that no one knows what the future holds, Sansa?”

“Yes.”

“Then who’s to say what Oakheart said will come true? There are hundreds of theories about that comet; some completely insane and others plausible enough to hold some merit,” Sandor says, hoping to soothe her fears and worries. “I’ve heard it means that the lost Targaryen is destined to come and take the throne with fire and blood, hence the comet being red.”   

“Do you believe she’ll come to Westeros?”

“Aye, I do. And with her fucking damn dragons, too!” he says with a shudder at just the thought of such unnatural creatures that breathe fire. “By all accounts, the throne should be hers; she is the rightful Targaryen heir to the late Mad King, after all. Now, I don’t mind the ‘blood’ part of her threat to reclaim what is hers… it’s the ‘fire’ I’m scared of,” Sandor adds, not even ashamed of admitting how terrified he is to think of a battle with dragonfire.

Sansa already knows all too well about his fear of fire; has witnessed it first hand, and has even helped him with it as they were leaving King’s Landing. She would never mock him, nor laugh at him for it, either; a fact that he’s extremely appreciative of.

“I won’t let them hurt you, Sandor,” Sansa says with a small, yet sincere smile on her face telling him that she truly means what she says. The notion, alone, of Sansa protecting him, would normally be something to warrant unending laughter, but it’s the thought that she cares enough to even try protecting him from his greatest fear that has warmth spreading throughout his chest, causing his heart to swell.

“I am sure to be safe then,” he says with genuine sincerity, despite knowing that she could not physically protect him from dragonfire.

“You know, mayhap Ser Arys was partially right about the comet,” Sansa chirps out after a lull in conversation. “Mayhap the comet is a sign regarding Joffrey… such as, hopefully, about his timely demise!”

Sandor cannot stop himself from laughing at Sansa’s own Red Comet theory. Gods know he’s imagined all of the different, and exceedingly painful, ways to dispatch the buggering bastard. And usually all on behalf of his Little Bird, too. “Aye, Little Bird… mayhaps you’re right. I’d present his head to you on a silver platter, if I could, Sansa; best believe that.”

“I know you would, Sandor. You are so good to me,” she quietly states.

 

As they fall into a companionable silence backed by the hooting of an owl perched high above, and the humming vibrato of chirruping crickets, Sandor notices that Sansa’s left arm is on top of the shadowskin and by her side. Realizing that his right arm is by his side and on top of the shadowskin, as well—and also how close his right hand is to her left—he wonders how she would react should he actually try holding her hand. So far, the only time he’s done such a thing is when they are riding, or the few times he’s led her through Stoney Sept. Would she pull her hand away? 

Steeling himself, he decides to take a chance by slowly inching his hand over towards hers. He is hoping that should she say something, or even just yank her hand away, for that matter, he could make it look as if it were all accidental! You fucking coward, Sandor ridicules to himself regarding his ‘plan,’ though still determined to follow it through.

Slowly, and nonchalantly, finger crawling his hand closer and closer towards Sansa’s, all the while occasionally peeking over to see whether or not she has noticed any movement, he stops suddenly once his fingers brush up against hers. Stilling his movements completely, afraid she’ll just move her hand away, Sandor tries to contemplate some way to get Sansa’s hand into his own.

Silently conjuring up and rejecting idea, after idea, it seems as if Sansa has actually been aware of his ulterior motive, all along! Finally, she puts him out of his misery.

Sansa takes Sandor’s hand in hers, laces her fingers between his own, and gives him a gentle squeeze. She never says a word, doesn’t look at him, nor even acknowledges his efforts at all—of which he is honestly grateful, as it lets him save face—they simply lay next to one another, hand in hand.

Such a simple act as holding Sansa’s hand may not seem like much to anyone else, but to Sandor, it serves to feed his ever growing hopefulness. 

 

From the corner of his eye, he sees Sansa covering a yawn with her right hand after a few minutes. Turning over to face him, she leans over the few inches between them and kisses his bearded cheek for the tenth time since her nameday, six days ago.

“Goodnight, Sandor; sweet dreams,” she sweetly chirps before closing her eyes in an attempt to fall asleep. It takes a few moments for it to register to Sandor, once he turns over to face her, that Sansa is still tightly holding his hand. Internally smiling at the knowledge, he wills himself to follow her in sleep.

 

After enjoying a very pleasant and comfortably warm night’s sleep, Sandor slowly awakens to see that Sansa has vacated their nest. However, it is the eerie silence of their campsite that alarms him, causing him to quickly crawl out from beneath their fur.

Usually, he’d hear Sansa fluttering about or quietly humming some tune as she collects some rations to break their fast. This time, though, Sandor frantically scans over their campsite only to find that, despite a small campfire she must have built upon waking, Sansa is nowhere to be seen.

“Little Bird?” he worriedly calls out. He sees that her saddle and saddlebags are right where he left them, so he quickly rules out her abandoning him.

Ignoring the nagging fear in the back of his mind that Sansa was somehow snatched away from him, right from under his nose, he hurries towards the stream where he tethered their horses, hoping she may have just gone to freshen up.

“Sansa?” he calls out a bit louder.

Barely making it a few yards from their campsite, Sandor finally finds his Little Bird.

“Oh, Sandor, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you,” she says after noticing the panic in his face melting away and his chest heaving from his ragged panting. With how loudly his heart is beating, he wouldn’t be surprised if she could actually hear it pounding in his chest!

“I was just collecting some water in your helm to heat over the campfire I built a few minutes ago,” she explains, showing him his water filled helm.

“Fuckin’ hells, Sansa,” he finally wheezes out through his breathlessness, all the while trying to regain control of his breathing. “I was afraid something happened to you, Little Bird.”

“I really am truly sorry, Sandor. I guess I should have woken you to let you know, but you were sleeping so peacefully that I didn’t have the heart to disturb you,” she adds as they walk back towards their campsite.

“S’alright, Sansa,” he rasps in relief as he makes it back to their bedroll and gracelessly plops down.

Watching her set his helm in the embers of the campfire to heat the water within, Sandor finally asks “why do you need to heat water? I thought your moonblood ended yesterday?”

“It’s not for my moonblood,” she replies, not giving him any further explanation.

“Then, what’s it for?” he asks in curious confusion.

“I need to wet and lather up your beard before I can shave you,” she states, matter-of-factly.

No!” he protests. “I already told you that I am not letting you shave me, Sansa! Besides, we are only a couple of days out from Deep Den, and there’s bound to be a barber there!”

“And if there isn’t?” she asks with a raised brow. “I am sorry, Sandor, but I have watched you scratch at your beard in your sleep, at least, four separate times since I have been awake. So, protest all you like… but I am shaving you, regardless!” Sansa firmly declares as she takes his helm from the fire, checks the temperature of the water with her hand, and brings it along with a washing cloth, her soap, and her razor as she comes to sit on her knees beside him.

With a deep frustrated sigh, Sandor reluctantly resigns himself to his fate, as the Little Bird is apparently refusing to take ‘no,’ for an answer. As he warily watches her wet a washing cloth in the heated water, he tries to prepare himself for the inevitable. However, he flinches and freezes in place once she wraps the cloth around his face to soften his whiskers for a bit.

Removing the cloth from his face after several minutes, she wets it once again and proceeds to lather his beard with her cake of soap as best she can, considering how she doesn’t have any proper shaving soap.

“Hold perfectly still,” she orders as she unfolds her straight razor and begins to shave his right, unscarred cheek. Continuing to scrape off his beard from his cheek and jaw, Sansa surprisingly moves to straddle his thigh before she very carefully shaves around his lips and chin.

“I apologize, Sandor. I realize this isn’t very ladylike, but it does make reaching you a bit… easier,” she says with a blush before tilting his head up to access the underside of his chin and his throat.  

Seemingly finished with both his right side and his throat, she says “now… on to the harder part. Please do not move.”

“You don’t have to worry about the left side, Sansa; I know how difficult it is to shave,” he says, trying to relieve her of the unpleasant task.

Nonsense, Sandor; I’m shaving all of your face! The whiskers managing to grow within your scars are really irritating your skin,” Sansa says before adding “I’ll be as careful as I can. I do not wish to cut you; especially within your scars.”

Turning his head towards the right, she leans in a bit closer to his face and holds the razor closer along the top edge, as to give herself better control. Holding his breath, Sandor desperately tries not to flinch once he feels Sansa’s hand on his scarred cheek. Smoothing out the ripples of his mangled flesh as best as she can, Sansa is now very, very carefully shaving the few areas within the craters and crevices of his scars, where whiskers are somehow actually growing.

 

“There,” she says after a few minutes while she rinses and refolds her razor. Collecting and wetting the washing cloth, she begins to wipe away any soap and whiskers stuck to his skin, before adding “I think I may have gotten it all, but I’ll still need to check.”

Finishing wiping his face clean, Sansa places her left hand against his right cheek, feeling for any leftover whiskers, before sliding her hand down to do the same to his jaw and throat.

Reaching her right hand up, he does flinch this time as she proceeds to do the same to his scarred cheek. Hoping not to see any potential disgust on her face, Sandor closes his eyes as she gently glides her fingertips between the craters and crevices of his scars, feeling for any whiskers that are possibly remaining.

Apparently satisfied with her results though, Sansa says in a playful tease “yes, I do believe I got it all. My Hound’s muzzle is finally furless, again!”

Not only has Sansa just declared him as hers, once again, but she has also yet to remove her hand from his scarred cheek, despite having finished her task. Instead, Sansa simply cups his left cheek in her hand, leading Sandor to briefly close his eyes again while allowing himself to enjoy the sensation of her soft hand against his scars. Continuing to lean into the palm of her hand for a few moments, he realizes how intimate this experience is, despite still being chaste.

After a few moments, he feels her thumb gently stroking a couple of particular ridges of his scars, directly beneath his left eye. She… Sansa is actually caressing my cheek, now. My… my scarred cheek.

Knowing just how long he has yearned to feel anyone touch him so, but especially Sansa, causes Sandor to lean even more into her gentle touch.

Feeling her hand slowly drift a bit lower on his cheek, now, Sandor both feels and watches with amazement as her thumb is tenderly sweeping across his bottom lip; both his smooth side and scarred side, alike.     

Sansa briefly breaks eye contact to dart a glance at his mouth. Slowly licking her lips and leaving them slightly parted, she looks back into his eyes. Sandor incredulously wonders if Sansa is actually wanting to try repeating what nearly happened the evening before arriving in Stoney Sept. He only hopes that, if so, this time ends entirely different.

“Little Bird…” he quietly croaks out, his voice thick with emotion, and imploring her to follow through with what he thinks she may be about to do.

Please, Sansa…please kiss me, he silently begs to her. I-I want to, Little Bird, but I can’t. Not after that last time. I couldn’t go through that again; it’d fucking kill me.

Both extremely nervous and excited, Sandor is absolutely frozen in place once Sansa, very slowly, begins leaning towards him, all the while never taking her eyes off of his. That same strange, unknown expression she’s been giving him lately is in her eyes, once again.

All of a sudden though, Sandor depressingly realizes that he, honestly, doesn’t even know how to kiss. Desperately pleading not to let him fuck this moment up to any of the Gods that may possibly be listening, Sansa is now within mere inches of his face.

Unsure how, Sandor is suddenly hearing his late sister’s disembodied voice in the back of his mind, telling him what to do. “Just follow Sansa’s lead, sweetling; she will guide you through this.”

Despite the unexpected encouragement from his dead sister though, the first time Sandor ever tried getting a kiss from a woman starts to replay in his mind, due to Sansa’s close proximity. The whore he had paid was no further away than Sansa is, right this very moment, when the woman repulsively retched, right in his lap. Please don’t retch. Please don’t retch on me, Sansa. Please don’t retch.

Terrified that he will see disgust starting to show on her face—or just witnessing her possibly even gagging—once she sees his ruined, melted lips, and the huge fucking patch of bone showing on his jawline from so close a distance, Sandor quickly scrunches his eyes shut while Sansa slowly continues leaning towards him.

With his heart painfully pounding at a frantic rhythm, and damn near beating right out of his chest, he waits with bated breath to see if Sansa will actually follow this, all the way through. 

 

After what has felt like an eternity, Sandor finally feels Sansa’s lips tenderly pressing against his own, in his very first kiss.

 

Eyes shooting wide open at the sheer shock of what is truly, honestly happening, Sandor incredulously realizes that Sansa Stark is actually kissing him.

She… she’s kissing me. Sansa’s really kissing me! Oh, fuck… oh, Gods…!

Closing his eyes once again, Sandor lets himself get lost in the sensation of Sansa’s perfectly smooth, gentle lips repeatedly pressing against his own, all the while never fully breaking their kiss.

Wait… would this still be considered one kiss, then? Or… could it actually be thought of as several kisses?

When Sansa’s tongue gingerly brushes against his bottom lip, thus snapping him from his musings, Sandor hears his sister’s voice, once again. “Open your mouth for her, baby brother; Sansa wants to deepen the kiss, now! Remember, follow her lead, sweetling; you’ll do just fine,” Elandria somehow manages to tell him from beyond the grave.

Doing as his sister says, Sandor tentatively opens his mouth, leading Sansa to slowly slide her tongue over his, essentially allowing them both to get a taste of the other. As her tongue slowly begins to sensually swirl around his own, waltzing throughout his mouth, Sandor does his best to mimic her movements, sincerely praying Sansa won’t find his kiss, wholly, inadequate.

When her arms slide up and around his neck and shoulders, Sandor gently wraps his arms around her in return, eliciting what he thinks sounds like a slight moan being muffled by his own mouth. Sansa pulls him even tighter into her now, causing his own low guttural groanthat honestly sounds more like a deep growl—to escape from the back of his throat and chest.

Fucking Hells, this feels so damn good! How can merely kissing feel so fucking incredible? Sandor silently wonders, all the while finally discovering what he has been missing out on his entire twenty-seven years. That fact alone is enough to cause his nose and eyes to start prickling and tingling with the tears he’s desperately fighting back.

After several long, perfect minutes, Sansa slowly breaks their kiss and sits back on her heels while bashfully looking at him. They are both gasping for air, their chests heaving with every single breath.

As rendered speechless as he is from the pure shock of actually being kissed for the first time ever, Sandor finally manages to croak out the very first word that comes to him.

“Why?” he demands; the question coming out much rougher, and considerably louder than he truly intended, due to his intense emotional state.

Gasping, Sansa’s trembling hands fly up, covering her mouth, as her eyes widen. “Oh… oh, Gods,” she stammers while a crimson flush is now painting her entire face. “I… I thought you wanted it, too!”

Her widened eyes are now filling up with huge tears that are beginning to overflow, pouring down her reddened cheeks. “Oh, Gods… I-I am so sorry, Sandor; please forgive me,” she pleads, starting to crawl back away from him.

Realizing how he is about to completely bugger up the happiest fucking moment of his life, Sandor manages to quickly, yet shyly, get out “I… I did want it, Sansa,” causing relief to spread across her face, slowly replacing her heartbreak and humiliation.

Slightly sniffling and wiping tears away from her eyes and cheeks, she shyly asks “you… you did?” with what he thinks might actually look like hope spreading across her features.

So fucking much. It’s just… that was my first…,” he attempts to get out before sighing. Attempting to steel his nerves, he tries once again. “I’ve never been…,” he fails for the second time, knowing that it is sheer embarrassment causing his failure.

“That was your first kiss,” Sansa helpfully finishes for him; it was not a question.

Humiliation causing his cheeks to hotly burn with a fiery flush, he drops his head down, not wanting her to see his shame, as he nods and says, barely above a whisper, “aye.”

Half expecting to hear her laughing at how pathetic he is for being a man of his age and having never been kissed before, it is Sansa instead shyly asking “did you like it?” that causes his head to whip back up to look at her.

Seeing her nervously worry her bottom lip while awaiting his answer—that very same lip that he finally got to taste—Sandor finally manages to shyly admit, “aye, Sansa… loved it, Little Bird.”

As a beautiful smile stretches across her face, Sansa surprisingly, and rather timidly, asks, “then… then may I give you your second kiss now?”

“You… you want to kiss me, again?” he incredulously asks, eyes widened and breath bated, in his hopefulness.

“Very much so,” she replies with a blush, looking up at him through her lashes while bashfully tucking a lock of her copper hair back behind her right ear.

However, finally noticing the state her lips are in, self-doubt slams into him. “But… my scars… your… your lips are all swollen and red, Little Bird. My scarred lips, they… they hurt you, Sansa,” he disappointedly croaks out, his voice breaking, hating himself for his fucking scars causing her any pain or discomfort. He figured they would.

“No, Sandor,” Sansa gently says, caressing his scarred cheek again and wiping the lone traitorous tear away with her thumb that’s fallen from his left eye. “Your scars did not hurt me,” she declares.

Your lips are red and swollen, as well. It… it tends to happen when you kiss; especially when you kiss as we just did,” Sansa says with a slight blush, causing him to gingerly reach up, feeling his lips with his fingertips, and discovering that they are, indeed, a bit swollen.

Honestly, Sandor… your scars actually felt… rather nice,” she bashfully adds with her blush deepening and a hint of a smile forming on her kiss-swollen lips. What Sansa has just said, though, causes Sandor to truly smile in earnest, himself.

With her admission, she shyly asks once again, “so… may I kiss you again?”

Sandor simply replies with a nod, still feeling a bit shy and nervous, himself. Fuck, Little Bird, you can kiss me over, and over again… as often as you like.

At his response, Sansa slides her left hand to the back of his neck, gently pulling him into her as her right hand finds its way back to his scarred cheek, just in time for her to claim his lips in their second kiss.

Having learned that he should open his mouth upon feeling her tongue against his lips, asking for entry, Sansa’s contented sighing begins to turn into deliciously muffled moans filling his mouth. The gentle vibrating sounds she's producing is caressing his tongue as she languidly swirls her own around his, all the while guiding him into her mouth, allowing him to taste and explore her as much as he wants.

His cock jerks violently against the laces of his breeches; the painful restriction of his throbbing member is temporarily overshadowed, though, by the way Sansa is gently suckling his tongue. As his arms firmly wrap around her back, he pulls her even tighter and more flush against him, letting him feel her full teats pressing into his chest. Even through his tunic, and her woolen gown, and shift, he can still feel how hard her nipples have pebbled up.

He’s completely unable to stop the guttural groaning managing to escape him upon feeling Sansa's small hands sliding up, working themselves into his hair. Her delicate fingers are tangling around his thin black locks, grabbing for purchase, and gently tugging on his strands. Each deep, growling groan emanating from his chest and throat, though, is hungrily gobbled up by his beautiful Little Bird.

Willing her to know just how much he loves her, how strongly he desires her, and how desperately he wants her, Sandor pours everything he’s got into it as they continue to passionately and sensually kiss, for several long, glorious minutes. It feels as though neither one is wanting to tear themselves apart.

With the way that Sandor is trying so fucking hard to show Sansa how he feels about her, though, it seems as if he is completely and utterly powerless in preventing the tears that have been welling up for the last half hour from falling down his cheeks. His emotions are just way too intense and raw to even try fighting back, so they are beginning to fall in earnest now, completely unbidden.

Once Sansa finally breaks their second kiss, they are both breathlessly panting as they rest their foreheads against one another, trying to calm their roiling emotions, their ragged breathing, and also trying to let their hearts return to their normal rhythm.

After collecting herself and looking at him once again, Sansa sees the tears falling from his eyes and gives him an understanding smile while cupping and caressing his scarred cheek. What she does next, though, surprises him just as much as her actually kissing him.

Leaning back into him once more, Sandor tries to prepare himself, thinking that she may be wanting to kiss him for yet a third time. However, her lips do not meet his own.

This time, Sansa gently presses her lips to his right cheek, as if to kiss away his tears, before softly kissing his right eyelid.

Turning her focus to his left cheek now, Sansa repeats the process just as she did to his right. As soon as her lips actually press against his ruined flesh, though, Sandor surprisingly realizes that Sansa Stark is now kissing his scars; just as he has dreamt of, as he has fantasized about, as he has even prayed for.

 

Reaching her hand up, Sansa gently eases the hair draped over his scars back to the right side where it belongs, causing Sandor’s breath to catch as he starts to slightly tremble from feeling so exposed; just as he did when she washed his hair back in Stoney Sept.

Sansa then turns Sandor’s head towards his right, making his scars face her completely, before gently angling his head down a bit, towards her.

Rising up on her knees to better reach him, Sansa softly presses her lips to Sandor’s scarred scalp, right where the ripples blend into his smooth flesh, in the gentlest, most tender kiss.

“Oh, Gods,” Sandor unintentionally chokes out in a combination of a shudder, a sob, and a sigh as Sansa continues to cover his entire scarred scalp with sweet, soft, and tender kisses. Each kiss to his ruined skin lingers for a few heartbeats before she slowly continues down his face, leaving no crater, crevice, or ridge unkissed.  

Sandor cannot help but feel as if he might actually be dreaming everything that’s been happening this morning; he’s desperately wanted this—no, he’s needed this—for so damn long. Every time her lips press against the ripples and crevices of his scars, he feels himself melting more, and more, into her affection.

Each kiss serves as an army marching over, and annihilating, the map making up all of his pain, his humiliation, every self-loathing thought he has ever had, every shriek, every shudder, every disgusted look, and every single cruel utterance and hateful word that has ever been flung his way. It feels as though he is being wiped clean; Sansa’s tender affection is giving Sandor a fresh start, letting him start anew.

As Sansa’s kisses slowly continue their southward journey down his scarred cheek, towards his jawline, Sandor begins to anxiously worry about his jawbone showing on the edge of his jaw. However, Sansa simply presses her lips firmly, yet gently, against that spot; her kiss actually lingering a bit longer there than the others.

 

After she has thoroughly kissed every single crater, crevice, and ridge of his scars, Sansa wraps her arms snugly around his neck and shoulders, pulls him tightly into her, and presses her perfectly smooth cheek against his scars. Reaching her small hand up to cradle the back of his head, she tenderly caresses him as she softly rubs her cheek against his own, slightly nuzzling him.

Pressing her lips gingerly to his earhole, Sansa softly, and quietly breathes out in a whisper, “I love you…,” directly into his missing ear.

 

Instantly freezing as his breath catches, Sandor just knows that both his ears and his mind absolutely must be playing cruel fucking tricks on him!

No… Sansa couldn’t have truly said that she lov no! No, no, no… there is no fucking way that I heard her right. I simply misheard her, is all.

Gently clasping her arms and pushing her back to look at her, Sandor desperately pleads, “what did you say?”

“I love you.”                                                                                                        

“Oh, Gods…,” he emotionally croaks out. “Please Sansa; please tell me that you’re not just mocking me? That this isn’t some kind of a cruel fucking jape? I couldn’t bear that from you; not my Little Bird,” he desperately begs her; his eyes and nose burning, once again, from his tears.

No, Sandor; I would never do such a thing,” she replies, caressing his scarred cheek again, wiping his falling tears away with her thumb. “I’m in love with you. I have been, for nearly two years,” she confesses, causing his mouth to drop open and his eyes to widen in sheer shock. Tw-two years…?

With his tears falling even faster down his cheeks, now, Sandor merely buries his face in the crook of her neck, allowing his tears to flow out, completely unbidden, as he honestly doesn’t even care. Sansa simply holds him so very tight and tenderly caresses his back while he cries into her neck and shoulder; not only in disbelief, but also in pure, sincere happiness.

 

After several long minutes of her just holding him, Sansa shyly asks, “do you love me?” causing him to look at her, once again.

“I would understand if you don’t, but… I was hoping you might,” she whispers, glancing up at him through her lashes and looking extremely nervous while awaiting his answer.

Slightly nodding his head, he thickly confesses, “aye, Sansa; I love you.”

With the most exquisite smile he has ever seen, Sansa has a few tears of her own welling up and falling from her eyes, now, as she happily says through both a laugh and a sob, “then kiss me, my love!”

Hooking his hands in the crook of her knees, Sandor gently pulls Sansa to straddle his lap completely from where she’s been straddling his thigh since shaving him.

As they wrap their arms tightly around one another, Sandor claims Sansa for himself through his kiss; both of them declaring their love for one another through the most passionate, meaningful, and loving kiss, yet!

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve - Making Plans

SANDOR

Their tongues are tired, their lips are sore, and they are both damn near out of breath; yet, neither Sandor nor Sansa seem to be able—or make that willing—to tear themselves apart. They merely cling to one another as if their very lives are depending on it.

In fact, for the last half-hour, or so, they have only stopped kissing long enough to occasionally come up for air, or for Sansa to cover Sandor’s entire face with sweet, tender kisses. Something of which she has done four separate times by now, and with her lips always lingering twice as long once she reaches his scars.

Sandor knows there are a few things that they really need to talk about; however, he is honestly pretty damn nervous to actually do so. He is sincerely afraid that this may all be just a dream. The best dream he’s ever had, of course; but still just a dream, nonetheless. He fears speaking aloud about it, because what if it just instantly wakes him up?

It would absolutely devastate him to discover everything that’s been happening these last couple of hours has been all in his own damned head. Sandor would much rather slit his own godsdamn throat if that were true! Or set myself on fucking fire, for that matter.

Steeling his nerves though, Sandor finally begins to slowly break their kiss, eliciting a rather adorable sound of protest from his Little Bird.

Resting their foreheads against one another, they remain tightly wrapped up in one another’s embrace, trying to collect themselves as best they can. Their breathing coming in small, quiet pants is mingling hotly between them from the aftermath of their latest round of kissing. The tingly sensation of Sansa’s eager mouth so passionately possessing his own still lingers on his lips, despite them having already parted.

Once they have both finally calmed themselves down and caught their breath, Sandor tries desperately to compose himself before beginning their much-needed conversation.

 

“You love me, Sansa… truly?” Sandor nervously asks with bated breath, looking at her through his lashes while a few traitorous tears are welling up, threatening to escape, and feeling more vulnerable than he has ever felt before.

“I do, Sandor,” Sansa plainly states with welled up tears of her own just barely managing not to fall. “I am so very much in love with you,” she thickly confesses, caressing his scarred cheek while gently wiping away a couple of his teardrops that have apparently given up their fight.

‘Love,’ though, really isn’t even the right word for how I feel about you, Sandor,” Sansa surprisingly admits, never removing her hand from his scarred cheek.

After tucking a lock of his black hair back behind his right ear, Sansa gently takes his face in both of her hands as she looks directly into his eyes, and elaborates on her admission. “There is not one single word in the common tongue that can describe how strongly, deeply, and completely I love you, Sandor Clegane.”   

Not quite able to choke back the convulsive sob threatening to escape from hearing such a declaration, Sansa’s confession is making it exceedingly difficult for Sandor to keep from breaking down, completely. Gods know how he’s dreamt about, wished for, and even actually prayed to hear Sansa saying such words to him these last three years; he just never truly believed he ever really would hear them, though.

Of course, he also cannot keep from feeling so damn confused, though, with how a beautiful, highborn maiden such as his Little Bird could ever love an ugly arsed, scarred up, lowborn man such as himself, either.

“But… but how? I mean… hells Sansa, just look at me; I’m fucking hideous, Little Bird! How could you love this? Sandor disbelievingly asks through an emotionally thick voice that occasionally breaks, his single brow furrowed as he gestures to the ruin that composes his face while even more tears fall.

Retaking his face in her hands once again, not allowing him to turn away from her, Sansa looks directly into his eyes, shakes her head, and firmly states “no Sandor; no! You are not ‘hideous,’” as she wipes his tears away with her fingertips.

You, my love, are absolutely beautiful! Your scars are beautiful to me, Sandor,” she says, causing the tears she just wiped away from his cheeks to reappear at hearing such an admission.

“I would give absolutely anything if you could see yourself the way that I see you,” Sansa begins, making him extremely curious with how she truly does see him. After all, he knows how others tend to see him; as nothing more than a disgusting fucking monster from the depths of the Seven Hells who would kill a person, soon as look at them.

“Your exquisite silver-grey eyes that nearly make me swoon by how they sparkle and glisten oh, so beautifully; that adorable little smirk you get that I long to kiss, every single time it emerges; your extremely impressive warrior-honed body that could quite easily rival the Warrior’s, himself… I mean, honestly Sandor, you are really, and truly gorgeous, to me, my love!” Sansa says, actually causing Sandor to slightly blush a bit from hearing what she actually finds attractive about him.

“And you know what else?” Sansa asks, surprising him even more. What she has already confessed to loving about his appearances far exceeds anything he could have ever even dreamt of hearing from her lips, after all.

Shaking his head at her question, she continues. “If by some miracle I actually could, I would not change one single thing about your face, my love. Not one single scar would ever be removed!” Sansa declares, pulling him towards her and tenderly kissing his lips before turning his face to kiss his scarred cheek and even the patch of bone along his jawline, once again; making a point not to shy away from that horrendous spot in the least.

Willing him to look at her once again, Sansa adds, “and even if both sides of your face were equally scarred, Sandor Clegane, I would love you just the same, and you would still be so incredibly beautiful to me. Do you understand?”

At such a declaration, Sandor can only simply nod in response, seeing as how he has honestly been rendered completely, and utterly speechless.

He can tell from both her eyes and her voice that Sansa is not lying to him—that she truly believes what she says about him—but, fuck… ‘beautiful… gorgeous…,’ those are still not words he would have ever expected to hear within the same sentence as his name.

At the very least, Sandor was hoping that Sansa might not think him ‘monstrously ugly,’ anymore. However, at the absolute most, though, he was hoping that, mayhaps with time, she might possibly find him to be ‘somewhat attractive,’ one day. He honestly had no expectations, at all, in regards to his scars, though.

No longer able to hold back his emotions, Sandor’s tears are quite nearly pouring out of his eyes now, leading Sansa to pull him into her loving arms. She just lets him bury his face into the curve of her neck, letting everything he is feeling flow out, completely unbidden, for as long as he wants, or needs.  

Holding him firmly against her, Sansa caresses his back and shoulders, cradling his head in her small hand, all the while continuously whispering, “I love you, Sandor… I love you so very much,” directly into his ruined ear, and occasionally kissing his scarred cheek, over and over and over again.

I… Gods, I… I just can’t believe that this is real; that this is really, honestly happening. Sansa loves me! She truly fucking loves me, Sandor repeatedly keeps telling himself, trying to make it actually sink in and register in his mind. He’s honestly only succeeding with causing even more tears to fall from his eyes, though, instead. However, at least these are tears of true happiness, for a change; something he’s never really experienced before this morning.

She doesn’t even find me ugly, anymore, Sandor realizes, very well aware that once upon a time Sansa found him just as repulsive looking as everyone else does. Although, by some fucking miracle, she somehow actually loves his scarred face now.

Please, Gods; please don’t let this all be just a dream, Sandor silently prays, still not all that used to the act of piety. Despite it going against his very nature, Sandor is truly trying his damnedest to be respectful of the Gods he is just now really starting to believe in. Mayhaps you lot really aren’t quite as fictitious as I once thought you were.

 

After several incredible minutes of being lovingly wrapped up in his Little Bird’s wings—enjoying the brand new feeling of being held by a woman who honestly, truly loves him—Sansa eases their embrace so that she can look into his eyes, and addresses him once again.

“Now, listen love… I am not going to lie to you by saying that I no longer see your scars, Sandor, because I do. I see them every single time I look at your face, and I absolutely adore them; do you know why?”

Shaking his head at her question, Sandor is hanging on every single word Sansa says. “Because, my love, it shows to me just how incredibly strong you are! How strong you have been your entire life. At only six years old, you survived something that would have killed most grown men!”

Wiping a few of her tears away with her fingertips at the knowledge of what nightmarish hell a six-year-old little boy was forced to endure, Sansa continues. “I know what I’m about to say next may sound strange, Sandor; especially the first part. However, I need you to promise me that you will hear me out and let me finish; alright?

“Aye, Little Bird; I promise,” he responds, curious as to what she’s about to say. He is highly doubtful, though, that anything she might possibly tell him could actually shock him any more than she has this morning.

“In some small way, Sandor, I am actually grateful for what Gregor did to you,” Sansa begins, leading him to slightly furrow his lone brow in disconcerting confusion.

So, apparently I was wrong about her not being able to shock me any further… very wrong, Sandor realizes, honestly a bit taken aback and seemingly unable to prevent himself from feeling slightly hurt by her rather surprising admission. Sansa is happy that I was burned?

The wounded bewilderment in his features, though, has Sansa urgently pleading, “please, love, let me finish; alright?”

Nodding his acquiescence, thus urging her to continue, Sandor isn’t sure where Sansa could possibly be going with this conversation. But, seeing as he did promise to hear her out, he will remain silent until the end.

“It absolutely kills me to know that he hurt you so badly, my love, yes,” Sansa continues as she pushes his hair back out of his eyes, holding it in place against his scarred cheek with her hand, seeing as how he doesn’t have a left ear to tuck it behind.

However, by Gregor giving you these scars,” she begins, lightly stroking a few particular ridges of his twisted flesh before continuing, “he was partly responsible for you essentially turning into the man who I fell so madly and deeply in love with!” Upon hearing her reasoning, Sandor’s unsettled nerves are beginning to ease up a bit.

“Who knows, Sandor, mayhaps if you had not been burned, then you might have possibly turned out just like that monster! Or, you may have even been like all of the so-called ‘knights’ of the Kingsguard who would beat me on Joffrey’s command!” Sansa tearfully says through a sniffle, making Sandor internally shudder at the thought of what damage could have been bestowed upon his delicate Little Bird, had he ever actually hit her as Joffrey had once commanded of him.

Fucking Hells, even a godsdamn blow from just one-third of my strength would have killed her, Sandor realizes, causing a single tear to trail down his scarred cheek at such a nightmarish notion.

“These scars,” Sansa says, caressing his mangled cheek while wiping the fallen teardrop away, “and the way that everyone has reacted to them, and treated you because of them, has kept you from becoming anything like Gregor—like those ‘knights.’”

Letting everything Sansa has said ruminate for a few minutes, Sandor admits that he truly does understand what she is saying. He also admits to having never really thought of it that way, himself, either; although, it does make perfect sense.

After all, Sandor is very well aware that Gregor burning him—topped with how people have treated him and reacted to him after being burned—has affected both his life and his psyche while growing up. From the disdain he has of the hypocrisy of knighthood, all the way to his immense animosity towards rapists, Sandor has done everything he can to ensure he would never become just another Gregor—that he would not shame his Lady Mother, nor let his sister down.

Fuck, though, who knows… had Sandor not been burned, it’s not an entirely impossible notion to think that he couldn’t have turned out just as bad, if not even worse, than that fucking hells-spawn. It’s not like Gregor and I don’t have the same Clegane blood flowing through our veins, after all.

Sadly, Sandor suddenly realizes though, that had he not been burned, then he might not have had Lanny raising him, either. There is a very good chance that he and Elandria wouldn’t have grown as close as they did had Gregor never shoved his face into the brazier. Sandor knows that the bond he and Elandria shared has undoubtedly influenced his formative years, growing up; just as much as both the actual act, and the aftermath of Gregor’s burning him did. Especially considering how his elder sister all but raised him after their mother’s death.

Sandor wouldn’t have been bedridden for several moons with no one but Lanny for companionship had Gregor never attacked him, so he wouldn’t have been around his sister nearly so much. Sandor would have been just a normal pup and would have chosen, instead, to run around with the other village boys his age; and very likely causing shiteloads of trouble, too.

So, in some absurd, barely fathomable way, Sandor figures that he, too, is actually a bit grateful to the fucking bastard!

Gods know that had it not been for Gregor’s cruelty, not only would Sandor have potentially missed out on having a loving relationship with his sweet sister, but he also probably wouldn’t have Sansa right now, either. Receiving Sansa’s love, alone, was worth being burned for.

 

“You know, I used to actually dream about becoming a knight when I was just a pup,” Sandor rasps through a chuckle after a few minutes, trying to keep from thinking about how his sister—and mayhap even his Lady Mother—might still be alive, had it not been for his brother. “Before Gregor and that buggering damned toy, of course.”

“I am fairly certain most little boys have dreams of becoming knights at some point, love. Surely you remember of how I once dreamt of actually marrying a knight—or even a lord—when I was a little girl, myself before Joffrey, Cersei, and the Kingsguard gave me such a rude awakening, that is,” Sansa says, slightly laughing at the rather sheltered and naïve worldviews she left Winterfell with.

“Now, whereas the little girl in me may have wanted some handsome, honorable lord, or a knight in shining armor… the woman in me needs a non-knight in snarling dog helm!” Sansa adds with a playful smile. ‘Non-knight;’ now that’s actually kind of adorable. 

Chuckling at that, Sandor’s amusement begins to fade once he depressingly remembers, “your family will never allow me to be with you, Sansa; surely, you must know that, Little Bird. They’d have my head for even thinking about being with you. Hells, love, they’d have my head for even kissing you!”

“I know that my family will not be happy at first, Sandor, but with time, I am confident that they will accept you, and even grow to love you; especially after they realize that there is absolutely nothing they can do about it. I will never let them hurt you,” Sansa firmly states, caressing his scarred cheek.

“They will never be able to take you away from me, my love, and should they ever even try, then they will lose me, for good!” Sansa sternly stresses with a look in her eyes showing him that she wholeheartedly means what she says.

Gently holding his face in both of her hands now, Sansa looks directly into his eyes and vows, “you are mine, Sandor Clegane; and I am yours! From this day, until the end of our days,” before leaning in to seal that promise with a tender kiss to his scarred lips.

“You… you really think you could give your family and Winterfell up… just for me?” Sandor asks with bated breath, wondering if that is what Sansa is truly saying.

“If they are foolish enough to even try forcing me to choose between the man I love and them, then they will quickly discover that I have already made my decision, and long ago. I will give absolutely everything up to be with you, Sandor. My family. Winterfell… Hells, love, I will even renounce my title if it comes down to that!”

Sansa truly loves me that much, he incredulously wonders. But… does she love me enough to… sh-should I even ask…? Sandor questions to himself, wondering if it is too soon, despite her earlier claim to having been in love with him for nearly two years, now. He is trying to muster up his courage as best he can, and it is taking a considerable amount of effort to do so. Oh, Gods… wh-what if she says ‘no…?’ Fuck, what if she says ‘yes?’

Before he has the chance to talk himself out of it, though, Sandor finally blurts out, “marry me…,” causing Sansa’s breath to catch as her eyes widen.

With her eyes filling up with tears, Sansa merely throws her arms around his neck and forcefully presses their lips together, barely breaking their kiss long enough to breathe out “yes,” directly into his mouth.

“Fucking Hells, Sansa, seriously? You’re… you’re really going to marry me?” he somehow manages to choke out through his complete disbelief while firmly wrapping his own arms around her now, and burying his face in her hair, against her neck.

“Gods, yes, my love! I’d marry you right this very moment if we were near a Heart Tree,” she says once he looks at her, watching her futile attempts at wiping her constantly falling tears of happiness away seeing how they simply continue to stream down her face until they are dripping off of her nose and chin.

“It is all I really want, Sandor—to marry you, love you, take care of you, and become the mother of all of your pups!”

“Fuck, Little Bird… y-you actually want to have my pups, too?” Sandor asks, wholly overcome with happiness, leading his own tears to damn near pour out of his eyes for at least the fifth or sixth time this morning, making him wonder how he could possibly have any tears left!

He never expected to have a woman ever even love him, after all; much less actually want to marry him… and to have his children, on top of that? It’s as if all of his prayers have been answered in less than two short hours.

Sandor cannot help but feel, now, as if the Gods truly are real, after all! He also cannot help but realize how a visit to a sept to fall on his knees is most definitely in store in his immediate future, as well!

With a teary-eyed, watery smile, Sansa laughs out, “oh, my adorable, sweet Hound! Of course, I want to have your pups, you silly man!” as she lightly slaps his chest while sniffling.

“This Little Bird is going to hatch her handsome Hound out an entire litter of pups!” Sansa adds with a playful smile, making Sandor grin, himself, at both the thought and her rather adorable bird euphemism.

“Seriously, though, my love, I want to completely surround you with people who will love you and cherish you; just as much as I do—our children will. They will absolutely adore you, Sandor,” she says, caressing his scarred cheek before leaning in for a quick kiss.

However, I was thinking, though… perhaps we could wait a year, or mayhaps even two, before we have our first?”

“Fucking Hells, Little Bird,” Sandor says with a huge lopsided grin. “You mean to tell me that you’ve seriously thought this all the way through, already?”

Sheepishly smiling, Sansa admits, “um… well, honestly, Sandor… I actually even have a potential name for one of our daughters picked out, already. Perhaps, for our firstborn daughter,” causing Sandor’s eyes to widen as she adds, “but that’s only if you like the name as well, of course.”

“Are you serious, Sansa?” he asks with a look of sheer surprising disbelief plastered to his face.

Hells, it is honestly hard enough for Sandor to really fathom Sansa loving him so much that she has imagined the two of them actually even marrying, in the first place. Much less that she’s been wanting to have his pups to the point where she has already come up with a name for their firstborn daughter!

Nodding in response, Sansa shyly suggests, “I was thinking that we could possibly name one of our daughters after both of our sisters by combining their names. Perhaps by turning ‘Elandria’ and ‘Arya’ into ‘Elanrya?’

Nervously biting her bottom lip while awaiting his response, she quickly adds, “unless, of course, you would prefer to name one of our daughters after Elandria, herself? You know that I would not object to that, at all, Sandor; especially considering how much your sister meant to you.”

“Elanrya Clegane,” Sandor says aloud, testing how it sounds and sincerely moved that Sansa has thought to include his sister, despite not even knowing much about her, yet. Sansa has merely made the suggestion due to the deep love she has for him.

“I like it, Little Bird; sounds beautiful. Lanny would be so touched by the gesture, as well, and would have probably even liked the way you blended her name with your sister’s name, as well,” Sandor admits before the realization slams into him of how he and Sansa have just chosen an actual name for their firstborn daughter!

A daughter…! Sansa truly does want to marry me and have my pups. Holy fucking Hells! I-I’m going to be both a husband and a father…, he realizes in complete amazement, glad that he’s been sitting through all that’s been happening this morning, else he’d have collapsed to his knees hours ago!

What the Hells kind of alternate universe have I actually found myself in? Sandor humorously muses, knowing that he most definitely cannot be on Planetos any longer!  

“And aye, Little Bird; might not be such a bad idea to wait a year or two to have any pups. Mayhaps this damn war will be over by then.”

“Good, I am so glad we agree,” she states, caressing his scarred cheek. “I just thought that it might be nice to keep each other to ourselves for a while. That way, we will have time to get used to actually being married and living together as true spouses before we try bringing any children into our lives,” she adds before placing a quick kiss on his lips.

“Besides, as that stupid, ugly whore at the Peach found out, I am not exactly too keen with the idea of sharing my Hound,” Sansa adds with a bashful, yet extremely mischievous, smile.

“Whoa, wait a fucking minute! You mean to tell me that you were actually really jealous over that whore?” Sandor incredulously asks, his good brow raised and his eyes widening in surprising amusement.

Looking somewhat embarrassed to be called out on her previous behavior at the inn in Stoney Sept, Sansa momentarily buries her flushed face within the crook of his neck.

Finally composing herself, she looks at him through her lashes, and shyly nods. “Had Tansy not shown up when she did, I was honestly afraid that you’d be having to pull my dagger from out of her throat.” Wha… Seriously?

“Fucking Hells, Sansa!” Sandor amusingly wheezes out through a boisterous bout of barking laughter as he is seriously getting a visual mental image of the prim and proper Lady Sansa Stark going all Shae Lannister on the whore!

“What?” Sansa innocently asks, apparently rather confused as to why he finds her confession so damn amusing.

“She was flirting with you!” she pouts out. By the way her little bottom lip is so adorably pooched out, Sandor is absolutely powerless to resist leaning forward and kissing said pouty lip—an act that turns her pretty precious pout into a sweet shy smile.

“At first, though, I thought that mayhap you were wanting to be with her and it was killing me.”

“Nah, Sansa, even if you weren’t with me I couldn’t have gone and fucked some whore. Haven’t been with a woman in damn near nine moons now, because of you.”

“Is that how long you’ve been in love with me?”

“Oh, no, Little Bird. It’s been much longer than that.”

“Really?” she asks with a shy smile and tone of voice that says she is wanting him to elaborate.

“Aye,” he admits. “Was attracted to you since I first saw you in the bailey of Winterfell, even though I was pretty fucking disgusted with myself considering you were so damn young; made me feel as sick as Trant. But, I just couldn’t fight it,” Sandor says, pushing her hair back behind her left ear and caressing her cheek, leading her to slightly lean into his hand.

“I fell in love with you, though, that night of your father’s tourney; when I was ordered to take you back to your chamber.”

Sandor can remember the very moment his inappropriate attraction to Sansa turned into the early stages of love. He had been noticing the Little Bird sneaking glimpses at him their entire journey back to King’s Landing from Winterfell. That evening of the tourney when he escorted her back to her chamber in place of her septa who was passed out from being in her cups, hadn’t been any different, either.

Since Sandor was already drunk that evening, himself, her occasional peeking had irritated him to the point where he had callously called her out on her staring, and forced her to take a good, long look, up close and personal, knowing he was terrifying her. Having decided to do a thorough job of frightening the Little Bird, though, he proceeded to tell her of how his very own brother burned him. The gruesome story caused her to start crying before reaching out and placing her delicate little hand on his armored shoulder as she told him that Gregor was ‘no true knight.

It was at that very moment that the Hound’s ownership transferred from Joffrey Baratheon to Sansa Stark. He was no longer the ‘Lannister dog’—he was Sansa’s dog, from then on; whether either one of them knew it, yet, or not.

Those tears she had shed for him, her hand on his shoulder, having refuted Gregor as a ‘true knight…,’ Lady Sansa Stark, an innocent maiden barely past her third and tenth nameday, showed the Hound something he has been desperately wanting for years—sympathy, kindness, and compassion; even after he went out of his way to frighten her.

So, what did Sandor do as ‘thanks’ for showing him a bit of kindness? Threaten to kill her, of course! He knew that it was merely an empty threat; but with the Little Bird being only a child, he also knew that Sansa, herself, truly believed his ‘threat.’

“You know, that was the evening that I stopped being afraid of you,” Sansa says, awaking him from his memories. Alright… so mayhap she didn’t believe me, after all…?

“Really?” Sandor surprisingly asks. “You always looked terrified of me in King’s Landing.”

“I know, and I hated having to pretend that I was. I was just so scared, though, that if Joffrey realized I wasn’t afraid of his ‘dog’ any longer, then he’d just have had Ser Meryn or Ser Boros escort me around more often. They still scare me.”

“Those fucking bastards will never hurt you again, Sansa. Nor will Joffrey!”

“I know, my love; you’ll protect me… just like you always have.”

“So… when did you know that you were actually in… in love with me?” Sandor asks, finding it so damn hard to believe that he and Sansa are actually having this conversation.

“Remember that horrible day when Joffrey forced me to look at my… at my father’s head?” she thickly asks, her tears welling up at the remembrance.

“Aye, Sansa,” he responds. “I remember it clearly, Little Bird. I was so damn afraid I wouldn’t have gotten to you in time. I could tell what you were planning; just couldn’t let you do it, though. And it had absolutely nothing to do with me wanting to protect Joffrey, either,” Sandor confesses, wiping her tears away.

“Well, that was the day I started falling for you. When you knelt down before me, stopping me—and ultimately covering my foolish plan in front of Joffrey—I saw so much more in your eyes than just anger at me or concern for Joffrey’s well-being. I could tell you were worried, but it was for me… not Joff. You knew I wanted to kill myself and was hoping to take him down with me; but you stopped me. You saved my life, Sandor,” Sansa confesses, her voice slightly breaking. “The first of many times that you’ve saved me.”   

“Gods, Sansa… there is no way in Hells I could have gone on living had you followed through with your plan. I love you so fucking much; you are just so godsdamned precious to me Little Bird,” Sandor says, caressing her cheek and wiping her tears away with his thumb before pulling her into a tight embrace, letting her cry into his shoulder. He knows how she is still mourning the senseless murder of her father, after all.

 

After several minutes of holding her firmly against him, gently caressing her back and petting her hair, Sandor says, “I can’t believe you’re actually mine, Sansa.

“I will always be yours, my love,” she responds, caressing his left cheek. “I may very well be your Little Bird, Sandor, but I am also a wolf… and wolves mate for life!”

“Aye, Sansa… certain breeds of Hounds do, too, love,” he replies before she pulls him in for a kiss.

Letting his tongue graze her lips, this is the first time Sandor’s actually tried deepening a kiss with her, seeing as he’s still feeling slightly nervous and a bit unsure about this whole kissing thing. Sansa completely relinquishes herself to him, though, and opens her mouth, allowing his tongue to sensually swirl against her own.

After several passionate moments of savoring one another’s kiss, Sansa’s soft, supple lips find their way back to his scarred cheek. With her lips now traveling down his jaw, she begins kissing the scars covering the left side of his neck that’re visible from the collar of his tunic that she’s stretched out, trying to reach more of his skin.

Slowly kissing her way towards the front of his throat, Sandor tilts his head back and grants her the access she’s wanting, leading Sansa to kiss, lick, and gently suckle on the apple of his throat. A deep groan rumbles from within his chest as she teases the hollow at the base of his throat, tasting him with her tongue.

“Fuck, Sansa, that feels so damn amazing, Little Bird,” he barely gets out before another growling groan escapes him, her lips slowly traveling towards the right side of his throat.

He can feel the heat of her flushed cheek against his jaw as Sansa practically moans out, “Gods, Sandor; you taste so good,” causing his cock to violently twitch in his breeches. Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck… don’t spill your seed in your breeches, Hound.

Sansa must have felt the movement from his cock, as she tentatively rolls her hips over him, trying to rub her little cunt against his burgeoning erection. Apparently wanting a bit of relief, she obviously feels comfortable enough with him to experiment with what feels right for her.

Knowing that Sansa is going to be rather shy about seeking out her own pleasure at first; especially considering how highborn ladies are foolishly, and ridiculously, taught that it is ‘improper,’ Sandor gently wraps his arm around her hips as her mouth seeks out his, once again.

Pulling her down onto him a bit firmer, he very slightly thrusts up against her, essentially grinding her cunt against his cock and causing a gasp-turned-moan to escape her lips, filling his mouth.

Sansa shyly repeats that action and rubs herself against him once more. Her moans are being followed by deep groans of his own reverberating from his broad chest; though the sounds of pleasure they’re both emitting are being muffled from their kiss.

With the skirt of her gown and shift bunched up between them, Sandor knows that the only things preventing them from being skin to skin are his leather breeches and both of their smallclothes; a thought that is insanely heightening his arousal.

Slightly rolling her hips over his bulge once again, Sandor meets her half-way with another tentative thrust. Swallowing one another’s gasps and moans, Sansa now makes to kiss, suckle, lick, and nibble on every single inch of his neck and right shoulder until she has stretched the collar of his tunic out as far as the fabric will allow, making Sandor regret having the damned thing on!

Just as he is considering yanking his tunic off, though, a rather loud rumble reverberates from the pit of his stomach, eliciting a fit of giggles from Sansa.

“Sounds like someone is hungry,” she playfully says, gently rubbing his belly over the fabric of his tunic.

In response, an even louder growling rumble erupts from his gut, causing the both of them to laugh, this time. “Guess I better feed my Hound before he decides to gobble me up, instead,” Sansa teases with an impish smile.

Sandor just gives her a mischievous grin, in return, kisses her lips, and helps her to stand from where she’s been straddling his lap for the past couple of hours. All in good time, my beautiful Little Bird; all in good time….

As soon as she is on her feet, Sandor notices that something feels a bit off with his breeches. Wondering if he actually did end up spilling his seed all over himself after all, and without even realizing it, he looks down to his groin only to discover a rather damp circular shaped area right over his cock. Holy shite! That is definitely not from me…!

“Fucking Hells, Sansa,” he growls out through a guttural groan as his arousal surges to new heights at knowing how wet she has gotten for him—at how wet he has made her. Damn, if Sansa’s arousal managed to soak clear through her smallclothes enough to actually make me wet, then how fucking wet is her actual cunt?

Sandor’s mouth is already watering at the notion of how truly wet she must be, making him crave a taste of her more than he ever has before. Especially considering how he will actually be allowed to feast on her in the very near future. Mmm… and feast on her, I shall, too! Fuck, I can’t wait to taste her, he thinks, imagining plunging his tongue deep inside of her sweet channel, suckling her folds between his lips, and drinking up every last drop of her sweet juices right out of her cunt, her very essence filling his hungry mouth and quenching his thirst for her.

Upon hearing what he groaned out, Sansa’s eyes follow to where Sandor is looking. However, once she actually figures out what they are both, indeed, really looking at, she gasps as her eyes widen. Covering her face with both of her hands in horrified humiliation, the Little Bird is turning redder than Lannister crimson.

“Oh. My. Gods… not again!” she cries out from behind her hands that’re muffling her voice. Again? She said ‘not again?’ As in, she’s done this before?

“I-I promise you that I didn’t make water in your lap, Sandor,” she swears as her widened eyes fill with huge tears, all the while somehow managing to turn even redder.

With how mortified she is, Sandor simply holds his hand out to her and motions her back over to him. “Come here, Little Bird.”

“But… but aren’t you hungry?” she quietly peeps out, her chin pressing against her chest with her eyes averted, and her face nearly aflame from her humiliation.

“I can wait a few minutes, Sansa; I won’t starve. Besides, this is a bit more important, anyway.”

After she shyly and nervously approaches him—all the while avoiding eye contact—Sandor simply eases her back down to sit in his lap and cradles her within his arms, tenderly kissing her forehead.

“I think we might need to have us a little talk about the ‘Birds and the Hounds,’ love,” to which her blush is now extending down her neck and chest, disappearing beneath the neckline of her gown, as she bashfully buries her face into the crook of his neck.

At how upset she is, Sandor first tries to reassure her as gently as his rough, harsh voice will actually allow. “Sansa, love, I know that you did not make water on me; alright?”

Nodding her understanding against his neck, he asks, “can you tell me what you meant by ‘not again?’ When else has this happened to you?”

“A-about a sennight ago,” she quietly and bashfully says, finally extracting herself from his neck and looking extremely embarrassed about the subject of this conversation. Though, judging by her wariness, it is one she desperately needs.

“Will you tell me what happened?”

“Well, um… I-I had been feeling your… your manhood pressing against my… my backside for quite a while that evening, but, as we were taking a trail up a fairly steep hill, I… I could feel it a bit… a bit more,” she manages to confess, making Sandor damn near worry that her face might just ignite from how fiery her cheeks are getting.

He definitely remembers that afternoon, clearly; especially with how her pert arse was grinding so firmly against his groin. At the time, he had tried telling himself that it was accidental—that she was not intentionally rubbing herself against his cock. Now though, he’s not entirely certain that it really was accidental, after all!

Figuring she’d be too embarrassed to talk about it in further detail, though, Sansa actually surprises him by continuing. “I um… I accidentally got… well, I-I got the back of my gown and your… your saddle wet,” she confesses rather quietly, very nearly in a whisper. Holy fuck, he thinks as his cock instantly perks up, damn near standing at attention from the knowledge.

“I don’t remember seeing it wet…?”

“Well, that’s because I cleaned it up as best as I could while you were tending to your… your needs,” she says, turning even redder than before, if that were even possible. Her explanation, though, is causing Sandor to blush a bit, himself, now at the realization that she was actually aware of what he was really doing that afternoon.

“Now, just how is it that you have come to know about what men do, Sansa?” Sandor asks, wondering if her whore of a handmaiden’s big fucking mouth is to blame.

“After being labeled the daughter and sister of traitors, I guess the Red Keep’s servants just no longer really saw me as someone they felt the need to speak respectfully around. So, over the last two years, they became much more… liberal… with what they talked about while in my presence,” Sansa says, causing Sandor’s ire to escalate at the total lack of respect shown to the truest proper Lady King’s Landing has probably ever seen—or ever likely will see, for that matter.

“Hmm… well, seeing as you’ve managed to soak both your gown and my saddle, then I’m thinking you must’ve actually liked feeling my cock pressing up against you; s’that right?” Sandor asks, trying to get his mind off of how he would brutally cut down anyone who has ever disrespected his Little Bird, if given even half the chance.

Sansa was obviously not expecting to be asked such a thing, though, judging by how she is bashfully biting her bottom lip and looking down towards her lap. She is apparently unable to make eye contact, as well; nor to even answer him, either, for that matter.  

“So, I’m guessing I can take your no answer, then, as an ‘aye?’” Sandor asks with a slight confident smirk, already knowing the answer, though still wanting her to admit aloud it to him… and to herself!

Even though she doesn’t give him verbal confirmation, she does at least nod her response. Seeing how new Sansa is to all of this, though, Sandor will accept that; for now, at least!

“Alright, Little Bird, now, do you know what that wetness you’ve been experiencing is actually for?”

Shaking her head as she reburies her face within the crook of his neck, Sansa mumbles, “I know that it has something to do what men and women do in the marriage bed, but I’m not entirely sure what, though,” against him, causing her voice to be muffled from his skin and entirely too embarrassed to actually look at him at the moment.

“Well, first, can you tell me what exactly your Lady Mother and that late septa of yours actually taught you?”

After a few quite moments of his Little Bird trying to compose herself, Sansa finally manages to rein in her nerves enough to pry her flushed face from out of the crook of his neck. Upon telling him what little bit she actually was ‘taught,’ Sandor discovers just how truly unprepared her mother and septa had left her.

“My Lady Mother had left that part of my education up to Septa Mordane; just as it had been left up to her own septa before she ever married my Lord Father,” Sansa quietly begins.

“Septa Mordane instructed me that when the time comes to partake in… in lovemaking with my Lord Husband, that I am to lay there on my back and let him take his pleasure, whenever, and as… as often as he wishes. She said that I should also try not to say or do anything that my husband might deem as improper or think of as… as wanton behavior,” she adds, unable to make eye contact the entire time she’s talking.

“She then also suggested that during the actual act, itself, that I could always try thinking about all of the heirs I will be giving to my Lord Husband one day—that it may help to make the act more bearable for myself, and that I should also try to encourage our lovemaking sessions to pass as quickly as possible, seeing as I will have a busy Keep to run.”

‘Bearable…,’ ‘pass as quickly as possible…,’ are you motherfucking shitting me?

“That is all she said about it, Sansa? Seriously…?” Sandor incredulously asks through gritted teeth, causing the scars on the corner of his mouth to violently twitch while his fists ball up, feeling angrier than he has in a very long timelong before ever leaving King’s Landing, that’s for sure.

Nodding, Sansa adds, “I really think she believed she would have had more time to prepare me better; but, when my entire household was killed…,” she trails off, unable to finish.

Sansa may very well be right; perhaps her septa had intended to go into greater detail, only to be murdered before actually being able to do so. But still… Sandor cannot help but feel angrier at Lady Catelyn Stark, though, than some old maidenly septa who probably knew about as much—or rather, as little—as Sansa, does, herself!

After all, there are just some things that a maiden’s mother should prepare her for. Things such as her first moonblood; puberty and the changes a young lady’s body goes through when maturing into womanhood; what to expect on her wedding night; growing heavy with a child; the actual birthing process; giving help and advice with raising children—especially with her daughter’s firstborn child. Some of these are just not topics that should be left up to an old maid who will never marry to teach to a young maiden on the cusp of married life!

And although Sandor will not mind educating Sansa on the very few things that he actually knows, these are also not exactly subjects that a young maiden’s future husband should be teaching his betrothed, either.

Sandor knows he won’t be able to answer every question or concern Sansa may possibly have, but, he can at least let her know that the wetness she is experiencing is normal—that it is supposed to happen—and more importantly, why it is supposed to happen.

“Alright, Sansa… so, whenever you become sexually aroused, a few different things will start happening to your body, alright?”

“Alright…,” she squeaks out, her eyes widening a bit and slightly worrying her bottom lip as her face flushes once again. In fact, with how profuse her blushing has been this last half hour, Sandor is humorously wondering if Sansa will ever return to her usual peaches-and-cream complexion.

At her response, Sandor takes a deep breath and tries to steel his own nerves as best he can, and elaborates. “So, first, your pupils will become larger, making your eyes look a bit darker than normal. You might start noticing your voice sounding a bit deeper, and even a little breathier or huskier when you talk, as well. You’ll also begin breathing heavier as your heart speeds up and starts pounding harder; and I’ve even heard that a woman’s belly may actually start to flutter, too… though I can’t really say for certain, nor why. Finally, though, your nipples will pebble up and become sensitive, and your little cunt will become rather wet; do you understand, so far?”

“I… I believe so,” she replies, still incredibly red.

“Your cunt needs to be wet, Little Bird,” he says before trying to explain why in such a way that she’ll understand, without him having to go into full graphic detail; for both her sake, as much as for his own. After all, having such a conversation as this with a bashful highborn maiden is not exactly the easiest of things to do; even if that highborn maiden is his betrothed!

“If your cunt is wet, it’ll make it much easier for you to take my cock inside of you, when the time comes,” he adds, causing her breath to catch before she hides her face against him again, making him slightly chuckle at her bashfulness.

“Don’t get all embarrassed Little Bird, it’s a perfectly normal act between a man and a woman,” he rasps, kissing the coppery crown of her head.

“You being good and wet, though, will just make things less painful during your first time. And then, once you are used to fucking, it’ll make it feel good for you; alright?” Sandor asks, feeling her nod within the curve of his neck. “It can really hurt a woman pretty damn bad if she is dry, which is just one reason why women who survive being raped are usually in so much pain.”

“Bu-but is it normal for me to get as… as ‘wet’ as I sometimes get, though? I’ve actually had to start wearing my… my moonblood cloths because of it. But, since my moonblood ended yesterday, I didn’t have any clean ones to wear today,” she shyly asks while also explaining just why she ended up getting him so wet this morning.

Gods, if Sansa only knew how incredibly aroused she is making him at such knowledge. I can’t believe how fucking wet she gets because of me; and that’s without me even touching her! Hells, he’s likely to make her flood the damn room once he actually does get to touch her for the first time; a thought that causes his cock to throb and twitch, and his mouth to water.

Gods, I can’t wait to taste her, he thinks. Though, honestly, he really isn’t sure what he is most anxious to try first: licking her cunt and fucking her with his tongue, drinking up her sweet juices, or burying himself to the hilt inside of her and emptying out his balls, filling her up with his seed.

“Aye, Little Bird, the wetter you are, the easier it is to fuck; especially with me, seeing as my cock is much bigger than most other men,” he says, eagerly anticipating just how tight her cunt will feel wrapped around him.

“I hate to break this to you, Sandor; but you are much bigger than most other men in general!” Sansa teases, making Sandor chuckle before agreeing.

“You do know that it will probably hurt when I take your maidenhead, don’t you, Little Bird? Aside from that, though, it’ll just be a matter of you getting used to my cock stretching you open and filling you up.”

Nodding her understanding, Sansa timidly says, “I know it’ll hurt,” before shyly asking, “wh-what about the other things I’ve been experiencing, though?”

“What ‘other things?’”                                              

With her eyes averted, Sandor pushes her hair back from her face and tucks a lock behind her left ear as she composes herself, attempting to go into further delicious detail.

“I keep experiencing this unusual, but yet, actually kind of… kind of pleasant feeling throbbing sensation, deep inside of me… well inside of m-my woman’s place, that is,” she says, her face and hair competing for the fieriest shade of red.

Sandor would probably be smiling at her bashfulness right about now… if he weren’t so godsdamned aroused from what she’s telling him that he’s at a risk to blow his load in his breeches, that is, leading him to bite down on his bottom lip nearly to the point of drawing blood.

Holy Seven fucking Hells… she’s gotten so damned aroused that her little cunt’s been throbbing for me? Sandor incredulously realizes, failing at suppressing a groan. His insanely heightened arousal is practically pouring from the slit of his throbbing, aching cock, thus adding to the wetness Sansa’s already left on the front of his breeches. He is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to feel her cunt throbbing around his shaft after burying himself clear to his balls inside of her, letting her milk his seed straight out of his sack.

He cannot help but begin wondering, though, if Sansa will even be able to take his entire length inside of her; especially knowing how he has actually bottomed out on many a whore before ever fully sheathing himself.

However, even if Sansa won’t be able to take every single inch of his shaft, Sandor’s still certain that what they share will be far better than anything he has ever felt before. And that’s mainly because both he and Sansa are deeply in love with one another—they won’t be partaking in a simple fuck as he’s only ever experienced with the whores he’s paid.

“And… um, I-I also tend to… to feel this strange hollow feeling or um, like this… this emptiness inside of me. I’m sorry; I-I’m not sure how else to describe it,” she stammers out rather quietly and extremely awkwardly.

“All of those feelings are just your body’s way of telling you that it’s wanting my cock buried deep inside of you, Little Bird; filling you up. It tends to happen whenever you become extremely aroused,” Sandor answers her, causing a look of relief to wash over her face, even if she does look a bit shocked, still.

“So, it’s… it’s normal, too, then?”

“Aye, Sansa; it’s perfectly normal,” he says, kissing her cheek.

“Thank Gods; I was afraid something was wrong with me,” she admits, burrowing herself a bit deeper in his arms and tucking her head under his chin.

“Nah, Little Bird; nothing wrong that a good fuck won’t cure, soon enough,” he says, causing Sansa to suddenly look at him with huge eyes as she gasps and turns crimson once again. With a faint little squeak, she reburies her face against his neck causing Sandor to chuckle at her maidenly nerves before tightening his arms around her, holding her firmly against him.

“You know, since we’ve agreed to wait a year or two to start having any pups, I won’t be able to finish inside of you,” he says, truthfully feeling a bit sad that he won’t be able to fill her with his seed just yet. Although, he is still excited about actually being allowed to fuck her and claim her as his wife, to begin with, though.

“Actually, I have… well, I have moontea,” Sansa shyly admits, shocking Sandor.

“Where… why… wha--… moontea?” he stammers out, not sure if he should be angry and upset that she has moontea, of if he should be grateful and happy knowing that he actually can spill his seed inside of her, after all.

“Where the fuck did you get moontea? And why do you have it, Sansa? I thought that you knew I’d never hurt you, Little Bird?” Sandor asks, sincerely hoping she hasn’t been secretly doubting him and worrying about her safety all of this time.

“Oh, Sandor,” Sansa says, cupping and caressing his scarred cheek. “Of course I know you will never hurt me, my love,” she reassures him, leaning up and placing a soft kiss on his scarred lips, easing his worries.

Shae gave it to me,” she admits, making Sandor realize that he probably should have suspected her handmaiden all along instead of automatically assuming that Sansa was still scared of him. It’s not like he has any reason to doubt Sansa’s trust in him—his Little Bird loves him, after all!

“Remember when Shae said that she brought me a ‘personal item’ just as you were about to go pack, that evening?”

“Aye?”

“Well, she collected moontea for me. She said that she brought it for me for ‘emergency usage,’ in case I was… well, in case I was raped,” she says, making Sandor feel even better; especially with knowing that Shae was thinking about Sansa’s well-being and planning ahead in the event of any potential sexual assaults. So, mayhaps I won’t actually kill her, after all, now, Sandor muses, honestly feeling as if he now owes the woman his gratitude if he and Sansa ever see the bloody Imp and his wife, again.

“Alright, well, I’m glad that is the reason why she gave it to you, and not that she felt you’d be needing it because of me,” Sandor says, eliciting a faint blush from Sansa as she bites her bottom lip and mischievously smiles.

“What is it, Sansa? Is there more to her reasoning that you’re not telling me?”

“Not really, Sandor. It’s just… what you said actually reminded me of something that she said to me.”

“And what was that?”

With her blush deepening, she says, “that moontea didn’t have to be used for just emergencies; that I could use it with a ‘permanent lover.’”

“But, you are maiden; you don’t have a permanent lov--”

With her giggle cutting him off mid-word, Sansa confesses “she meant you, silly,” with a grin.

“Me?” he asks, sincerely confused at the admission, before adding, “but we didn’t even know our feelings were mutual until today!”

“I told her that you weren’t my… my lover and that you didn’t even think of me that way, but she seemed quite adamant that I was wrong,” Sansa slightly laughs out. “She then said that should you and I both ‘get on the same page’ regarding our feelings for one another, that I could take you into my bed without the risk of you giving me any ‘puppies,’” she shyly says with a smile, causing Sandor to loudly laugh.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake…,” Sandor chuckles out. “Well, at least that explains the looks she kept giving me as we were walking towards the stables—as if she could read my damn mind regarding my feelings for you,” he amusingly says.

“Indeed! It seems as if Shae knew how we felt about one another, all along! ” Sansa agrees. “Seven save us if she ever finds out that we actually married, though,” she laughs out. “She’ll never let us live it down, you know—at least not without constantly reminding us of how she was right, that is,” Sansa reasons with a grin.

“Aye… I have a feeling that your Shae can be just as annoying about things like that as her Imp husband!” Sandor chuckles out, causing Sansa to giggle and agree.

“Now, I’m not sure how women actually use moontea, Little Bird; did she teach you how to prepare and drink it?”

“She did, yes,” Sansa says, relieving Sandor in that regard. “She even wrote down the instructions for both methods of preparing and drinking it.”

Both methods? There are two ways of using it?”

Nodding her head, she tells him, “I can take it to either prevent a babe or to dispose of a babe,” making Sandor feel a slight pang in his heart at the thought of Sansa ‘disposing’ of his—of their—babe.

His face must show his feelings on such an idea, though, because Sansa caresses his cheek and wills him to look into her eyes as she says, “the preventative method is the only way I will ever want to use it.”

“But, what if we cannot get the moontea made in time for prevention, for whatever reason, though, and your womb quickens?”

“Then we’ll be having a child sooner than we planned,” Sansa states, her tone of voice telling him that this is not negotiable to her. “If I am taking moontea exactly as Shae directed and my womb still quickens, I will not kill the unborn child we created from our love, Sandor Clegane; do you understand me?”

Nodding, Sandor rasps, “aye, Sansa, I do understand. And I’m happy you feel that way, as well, Little Bird,” before pulling her in for a kiss. He is sincerely touched that, even though Sansa may want to wait to have children, should she actually grow heavy with his pup despite the moontea, then their family will simply begin sooner than they originally intended.

“So, how are you supposed to take it to prevent a pup?”

“If I remember correctly, and without reading the directions, for that method, I will have to drink it once per week after we’ve been intimate until I have my moonblood,” she explains, making him hope that wherever they end up staying for the next couple of moons will have a means to heat water.

“Shae told me that I will have up to five days after you plant one of your seeds inside of my womb to prepare and drink moontea, preventing it from taking root.”

One of my seeds, Sandor thinks with a chuckle at how adorably innocent she is to misunderstand what Shae more than likely told her.

“It isn’t one seed, Little Bird,” Sandor explains to her with amusement.

“It isn’t?” she asks with her brow furrowed in confusion. “But Shae sai--” Sansa tries to add before Sandor cuts her off to inform her of what her handmaiden actually meant.

“It is called a man’s seed, Sansa, but it isn’t an actual seed,” he begins, her brow wrinkling even deeper in her confusion that he simply kisses away. “A man’s seed is a thick, white, creamy liquid that’ll spurt inside of you, filling you up,” he explains, causing a blush to reappear on her face and chest.

“Oh… well, that does make a bit more sense, I guess. I mean, I was kind of wondering how a man could actually grow a seed inside of them,” she says, slightly giggling at her own innocent misunderstanding, leading Sandor to chuckle along with her.

“Aye, Little Bird, I think that might hurt to have an actual hard seed coming out of my cock, Sansa,” he says with amusement, causing her to bashfully laugh even as her blush deepens; more than likely from the visual image he just created.

“I bet that would probably feel rather unpleasant for me too, then,” she adds with another laugh.

“Aye, love, I don’t doubt that,” he agrees with a smirk.

“But, seeing as my seed is a liquid, it won’t hurt you at all, even though it is pretty hot when it comes out. I’ve actually even heard of some women loving the way it feels when a man empties their seed inside of them,” he says, causing Sansa to hide her flushed face against him in the apparent nervousness of a maiden.

Trying to ease her nerves, he soothingly rasps, “don’t worry, Little Bird; even though I’ve never been allowed to actually pleasure a woman, myself, I’ll be sure to take things nice and slow with you, alright?”

In all honesty, Sandor is probably just about as nervous about their first time as Sansa is, herself. He knows what to do in theory, of course; but with never having been allowed to actually practice the things he’s heard and seen over his twenty-seven years, he’s feeling just as green now as he did during his own first time, back when he was just a young pup of two and ten.

Just please let me make it enjoyable for her and keep me from being completely inadequate, he silently prays, hoping he will actually be able to not only give her pleasure, but that he will also be able to bring her to completion, before he ends up finding his own release.  

Sansa simply nods into his neck before asking, “b-but I thought you used to make love to… to whores?”

“You don’t ‘make love’ to a whore, Sansa,” he says, chuckling.

“Besides, they could honestly barely even stomach the sight of me long enough to earn the coin I paid them,” he rasps more somberly, eliciting a sympathetic sad look from Sansa as she cups and caresses his scarred cheek.

“They couldn’t stand the thought of having to look upon my scarred face while I fucked them, so they would immediately get on their hands and knees and make me take them from behind; just like the dog everyone calls me,” he adds, feeling rather embarrassed to admit such a thing to Sansa, even though he knows she would never mock him for it… nor for anything, really.

“Is that also why you’ve never been kissed before this morning?” Sansa asks, leading Sandor to embarrassedly nod with a faint blush.

“Whores charge extra for kissing, anyway, seeing as how it’s so much more intimate than just a fuck meant to satisfy a person’s base need.”

“And you’ve never wanted to pay the extra coin for it?” Should’ve known she’d have asked that, he internally sighs to himself.

Feeling his cheeks burn quite a bit more, now, he really doesn’t want to have to admit such a humiliating experience to her. But, considering how Sansa actually managed to face her own embarrassment a few minutes ago, Sandor figures it only fair that he confess his humiliation to her, now.

With a deep breath, he steadies himself as he says, “I… I did pay a whore to give me my first kiss, once; back when I was two and twenty,” while his eyes start to prickle at the humiliating memory.

“What happened? Did you change your mind?”

“No, Sansa, I didn’t change my mind,” he answers with a sigh. Sansa’s small hand seeks out his before lacing their fingers together. Sandor knows she is trying to be supportive and encouraging, and it actually seems to be working a little.

Trying to fully compose himself as best he can, now, Sandor finally gets out just what happened to ruin his attempt at getting a first kiss. “As soon as the whore was leaning into me, she retched in my lap. She was so fucking disgusted by my face that she just couldn’t go through with it,” he quietly says, his voice slightly breaking. A lone tear trails down his scarred cheek that Sansa leans up and promptly kisses away before she wraps her arms snuggly around him.

“I’m not even really sure if it was my ruined, melted lips, that repulsed her so much, or if it was seeing the hideous fucking hole where my damn jawbone shows through that caused her to be ill. Hells, what am I saying… it was probably my entire scarred face, in general, that caused her to spew all over me. At least she didn’t seem to have eaten a very large meal beforehand,” he says through a half-hearted snort of a laugh, trying to make light of the situation and not succeeding, at all.

The humiliation he felt at the time, plus having to exit through the brothel covered in the whore’s vomit—and feeling as though everyone there knew what had happened, and were laughing at him—still haunts him to this very day.

Sansa quite obviously sees through his thinly veiled attempt at humor trying to camouflage his pain, though. Caressing his scarred cheek, Sansa has quite a few tears in her eyes, herself, from hearing what he went through that evening.

“Was that the only time you ever tried getting a kiss?”

“No,” he says through a tremulous sigh. “I did try once more; five years later.”

“With another whore?”

“With you,” he simply says, causing Sansa’s welled up tears to start falling at the knowledge.

“Oh, Sandor, I am so sorry, my love,” she sincerely apologizes, caressing his scarred cheek, leading him to lean into the palm of her hand.

“That was the day before we arrived in Stoney Sept, wasn’t it?” Sansa correctly surmises.

Sandor simply nods in response, the memory of feeling wholly rejected still painful for him.

“Sandor, am I correct that you misconstrued me closing my eyes as disgust?”

“Aye,” he sighs out in response. “I thought that you were rejecting me; that even after all of our time alone together, that my face still disgusted you.”

A few tears fall from Sansa’s eyes at his admission. “I am so, so sorry, my love; that wasn’t the case at all. I wanted you to kiss me, and when you stormed off, I thought that you were actually rejecting me!” Sansa confesses, causing Sandor’s eyes to slightly widen and his mouth to drop open.

“You truly felt as though I rejected you?”

Nodding in response, Sansa says, “had I known, though, Sandor, I would have gone after you,” while caressing his scarred cheek. “I would have ran after you, thrown my arms around your neck, and just kissed you senseless before showering every single inch of your gorgeous face with tender kisses; over, and over, and over again!”

Shyly smiling at the thought of her running after him, he cannot help but admit, “I wish you had come after me; thinking that you were disgusted by my face and were rejecting me… fuck, Sansa, it completely shattered me,” as he fights back the emotional memory.

“I wish I had too, my love,” Sansa says before leaning up to tenderly kiss his scarred lips. “I only realized that you read my eyes being closed as rejection after praying for the Gods to show me what went wrong.”

“And you truly feel that they answered you?” Sandor asks, for once truly curious, because if Sansa believes that they answered her prayers, then it may just help him believe that it really was the Gods who actually answered his prayers, as well.

“I know they did, Sandor,” she confirms with a confident smile. “I also prayed to my Lord Father.”

“You did?” Sandor asks, surprised. “What did you pray to him about?”

“I asked him to let me know whether you were the man he wanted for me, or not,” she replies with a small smile.

“And he wanted to know whether or not you’ve lost your damn mind, didn’t he?”

With a raised brow in feigned annoyance, Sansa says, “no, silly. He actually confirmed what I already knew—that you, Sandor Clegane, are, indeed, the man my late Lord Father has chosen for me.”

“Sorry, Little Bird, but I have a hard damn time believing that the stoic, and ever proud Lord Eddard Stark would actually choose some second-born son of a minor lord for his precious and very highborn daughter,” Sandor raspingly chuckles out.

Smiling at his pessimism, Sansa says, “well, he did, love! In fact, not long before he was executed, he had actually promised to find me a good man to replace Joff—a man who is ‘Brave, and Gentle, and Strong.’

“I’ve heard you call me that before—the morning you finished my Bride’s Cloak for me,” Sandor says. He also remembers her mumbling those same words in her sleep that previous night, as well, while tightly wrapped up in one another’s arms. At the time, he simply figured she was saying random words; now, though, he knows that she was probably dreaming of him—a thought that makes him smile and wonder if she really could be right about her father approving of him, after all.

“That’s because you are brave, and gentle, and strong, my love,” she says with a sincere, loving smile. “And both my Lord Father and the Gods have confirmed it—the Hound and the Little Bird are meant to be together, Sandor.”

Caressing her cheek, he tucks a fallen strand of her copper hair back behind the delicate shell of her ear. As his hand cups the back of her head, he gently pulls her close, claiming her pillowy soft lips with his kiss.

Deepening their kiss, his hand finds its way to her narrow waist before slowly sliding up her stomach and across the curve of her ribs, stopping once his fingers brush up against the underswell of her right teat. Breaking their kiss, he looks into her eyes, silently seeking permission to allow his hand to continue further up. Sansa never even has to say a word though, as he can see the answer, shining in her eyes.

Cupping her teat, he gently squeezes and kneads it as his thumb brushes over her pebbled up nipple, eliciting a slight gasp that melts into a mewling moan from Sansa. Her eyes flutter closed as her head falls back, leading Sandor to lean down, kissing, nibbling, and licking the porcelain-white soft skin of her graceful, slender neck. Gently squeezing her teat, again, she slightly arches her back, pressing herself further into the palm of his hand as he flicks his thumb across her nipple, once more, loving the response he’s receiving. Fuck, she’s gorgeous when aroused.

Sandor’s stomach suddenly starts protesting having not yet been fed, temporarily ending the chance he has to feel any other part of her; for now, that is. With a giggle from Sansa and a chuckle from him, he gives her a quick kiss before helping her to her feet. 

 

Watching his Little Bird fluttering about their campsite, she takes his helm and pours the remaining water over the smoldering embers of their fire, fully extinguishing it before drying the helm with the hem of her skirt. He’ll be sure to oil it later this evening to prevent any rust from forming. Placing his helm with the rest of his armor, Sansa kneels in front of their saddlebags and collects some rations to break their fast.

“Would you like some of your wine this morning?”

“Aye… it is kind of a special occasion, after all,” he rasps, making Sansa smile and agree.

With two wineskins and a single large bundle of food filling her arms, Sansa makes her way back to him and immediately perches herself in his lap. His left arm instantly wraps around her waist, practically on instinct alone, despite never having held a woman like this before this morning; it’s almost as if they’ve sat snuggled up like this for years. Sandor cannot help but marvel at how perfectly Sansa fits sitting in the crook of his legs, nestled in his lap, and with his arm wrapped around her. Feels as though she was tailor made for me.

Setting the bundle of their rationed meal in her lap, she hands him his wineskin and unstops hers for a sip. As she now unwraps their meal, Sandor unstops and takes a drink from his own wineskin, himself.

Affixing the stop and placing the skin beside him, he starts to reach for some of the cheese Sansa brought, though she just gently slaps his hand away with a playful smile. Sansa instead breaks off a bite of the cheese and holds it up to his lips, evidently intent on feeding him. Not that he is complaining, of course; especially when she sporadically kisses on his scarred cheek and along his jaw between bites.

It surprises Sandor how easily Sansa can kiss the area where his bone shows through, though, making him curious how she doesn’t get disgusted by that spot. After all, it has always repulsed or disgusted nearly everyone else he’s ever encountered. Fuck, that area used to make Sandor, himself, sick when he was younger, as it always made him feel as though he looked like some sort of a walking corpse whose skin is rotting away.

When her lips tenderly press against that area yet once again, he can no longer keep his curiosity to himself. “How are you able to kiss that spot without being ill, Little Bird?”

“What do you mean?” Sansa asks, her brow furrowed in confusion.

“Y-you are kissing the patch of bone that shows, Sansa; how does it not make you retch?”

With a wave of understanding washing over her features, Sansa cups his right cheek as she replies, “because I love you, Sandor Clegane. I love everything about you… all the way down to the very bones of you,” before leaning up to press her lips to it yet again in a kiss that lingers even longer than any of the other time she’s ever kissed him there, proving her point.

Sandor cannot put into words how what she has just told him touches his heart; instead, he simply wraps his arms around her, damn near crushing her against his body. A small part of him is worried he will hurt her; though, truth be told, Sansa seems to like when he holds her this tightly against him—she simply wraps her own arms around him, equally tight.

 

Between giving him a bite, and taking one for herself, Sandor and Sansa resume eating their meal of some hard cheese, a couple of pieces of stale bread, and some salted venison they picked up in Stoney Sept, with her feeding and kissing on him the entire time.

In fact, the only thing she is letting him do on his own is drink from his wineskin. Knowing his precious Little Bird, though, that is probably only due to her not being at a good enough angle to allow her to do so without spilling it all over them.

 

Having finished eating their small rationed morning meal, Sansa remains curled up in his lap, letting him hold her for a few minutes longer before they get back on the road. Sensing something on her mind, he tilts her chin up to get her to look at him, before asking, “is something wrong, Sansa? You’re awfully quiet all of a sudden.”

“Oh, no, my love; everything is finally perfect!Sansa says with a tender gaze, ending his nervousness. “I was just praying for there to be a sept and a Septon near Deep Den,” she adds with a warm smile. Leaning up, she gently kisses his lips before snuggling back down in his arms, her head tucked under his chin, and her hand resting right over his heart.

“You want to marry in a sept?” Sandor asks, finding it a bit… surreal… to actually be talking about getting married—and to Sansa Stark no less! “I kind of thought that you might want to use a Heart Tree.”

“I honestly just feel as if it would be best to use a sept and Septon; that way we will have documented proof of our marriage,” Sansa says. “I do not want to give my family any room to try and claim that our marriage is not real!”

“They will still probably try to annul it, you know?”

“I know,” she says with a sad sigh before adding, “that is why, though, before we ever even get to them, you will not only need to wed me, but you will also need to… to bed me…,” she says, getting increasingly quieter and redder with each word, causing Sandor to smile at her bashfulness before tenderly kissing her forehead.

“Won’t hear me arguing with that,” he says causing her blush to deepen. So, if we can locate both a sept and a Septon, we’ll be married in just a few days, Sandor happily, yet incredulously realizes, the thought making him both nervous and excited about becoming a married man.

Finally composing herself, yet still with intensely pink cheeks, she adds, “not the High Septon, nor even a king, can annul a marriage once it’s been consummated,” before leaning up for another kiss. He’ll never tire of her kisses.

Even briefly talking about consummating his marriage with Sansa is already causing his loins to stir again from their previous conversation. Sandor knows he will want, and need, to take his time with her—just as he told her—but fuck, it will be so damn difficult. Gods know how long he’s wanted her, after all.

Not to mention how he hasn’t been with a woman in going on nine moons, now. Fuck, he’ll probably need to take himself in hand before ever even touching her—or just seeing her as naked as her nameday, for that matter! If not, he’s likely to spill his seed the very moment air hits his cock!

 

Even though Sandor would be perfectly content to continue sitting here holding and kissing Sansa for the rest of the day, he knows that they should actually start packing up their campsite to get back on the road. Especially if they are hoping to find a sept in the Deep Den area.

With one more kiss, he asks Sansa to start packing up their campsite while he readies their horses. Before he has a chance to do just that, though, Sansa quickly grabs her hairbrush to brush out his hair from when her hands were all in it earlier, making Sandor slightly smile at the remembrance.

Pulling his hair over to the right and carefully brushing the tangles out, Sansa leans down and tenderly kisses his scarred scalp before parting and brushing his hair back in place to cover his scars. As soon as she finishes his hair, she just silently hands him her brush and hair-fork with a smile and comes to sit on her knees, between his legs, in front of him.

After putting her hair up for her, Sandor takes advantage of his Little Bird’s exposed neck. Pulling her back into him, he kisses and nuzzles the left side of her long graceful neck for a few moments, enjoying the slight mewling moans escaping her lips and the sweet taste of her skin.

“Sssaaaandooooor…,”Sansa draws out in a moan-turned-sigh as he licks and kisses on her pulse point behind her left ear. Letting his hands slide up to cup and knead her full teats, his thumbs graze her pebble hard nipples, making him wish they were in his mouth, instead.

Fucking Hells…! We can’t find us an inn soon enough, damnit, Sandor thinks, not even trying to suppress a groan; wanting her to know how she affects him so. He is definitely excited about getting the opportunity to taste the rest of his Little Bird… and very, very soon, too!

 

Finally getting up to ready their horses, Sansa quickly packs up their campsite so thoroughly that it doesn’t look like anyone has ever even stayed here. She is traveling rough far better than he would have ever thought possible for the extremely highborn Lady Sansa Stark!

Horses saddled and supplies mounted, both Sandor and Sansa work together in perfect harmony to adorn him in his armor. As soon as the last piece of steel is in place and securely buckled, his Little Bird reaches up to grab the top edge of his cuirass and yanks him down into a kiss.

“I’ve always wanted to do that,” she says, earning a lopsided grin from Sandor that prompts her to kiss his lips once again before he lifts her into their saddle and mounts behind her. Wrapping his arm around her small waist, she weaves her fingers between his, against her belly. Spurring Stranger forward, they continue westward with Maiden obediently following along.

 

Thankfully the day has gone by relatively fast, as that means they are one day closer to Deep Den. One day closer to making Sansa his wife!

Whenever they stop to let their horses rest, or just to eat their mid-day meal, Sansa perches herself in Sandor’s lap. As soon as the last bite of their food is consumed, the two of them immediately pick back up from where they left off with their last kiss.

At first, Sandor had attempted to keep count of how many kisses they’ve shared, but after their twenty-seventh kiss, he happily gave up that fool’s errand. The quantity doesn’t matter, anyway. What does matter, is that Sansa seems to be just as eager to repeatedly taste his kisses as he is hers!

 

With the sun starting to sink below the trees, Sandor begins looking for a place to make camp for the night. He isn’t even going to try hiding how excited he is to be able to finally fall asleep with Sansa in his arms for a change, instead of just waking up with her there. She seems to be just as excited about that prospect, as well.

They had left the stream they’ve been following these last couple of days behind several hours ago, so after finding a decent sized grouping of massive boulders surrounded by a copse of numerous conifer trees, Sandor brings their horses to a stop. Dismounting, he helps Sansa down so that she can prepare their campsite while he tends to their mounts.

 

Tethering their horses to a couple of trees on the opposite side of the boulders, thus allowing both equine and human couples a bit of privacy, Sandor unsaddles, brushes down, and picks out any debris from their hooves before heading back to his Little Bird. As soon as he makes it back to her, Sansa immediately pulls him down by his cuirass for a quick kiss before helping him remove his plate and mail.

Armor divested, Sandor eases himself down next to Sansa on their combined bedroll. Earlier today they decided that they are a bit too close to Deep Den and civilization to risk lighting any campfires for the next few days, leading Sansa to say that they can keep each other warm, just fine.

Sandor knows she meant that innocently, of course—meaning they’d be able to sleep wrapped up in one another’s embrace beneath their shadowskin—but visions of all of the different ways he could manage to warm her up invaded his mind, causing an instant erection. One that she must have felt from her place in front of him in their saddle, judging by the blush he saw on her profile. A blush that simply served to harden his cock even more, considering how much he adores her bashfulness; it is a part of her allure, after all.

Taking a pull from a wineskin Sansa brought out for him, Sandor gently clasps her narrow waist and eases her into his lap before she unwraps the bundle of their food.

After playfully feeding one another their meal of salted venison, some hard cheese, stale bread, and two apples, Sandor takes one last quaff from his wineskin causing a bit to dribble from the gap between his lips.

Before he has the chance to wipe it away, though, Sansa teases, “oops! Looks like my Hound sprung a leak.” Leaning up, she licks and suckles the wine from his bottom lip, leading a guttural growling groan to escape his chest and throat and his cock to twitch in his breeches, beneath her arse. Fuck!

“You know, Sandor… Dornish Red tastes a whole lot sweeter coming from you, my love,” she says, sounding rather salacious, causing Sandor to actually blush at her surprisingly bold innuendo. Caressing his right cheek while kissing his left, she mirthfully adds, “you are absolutely adorable when you blush, my love,” making his blush deepen a bit more.

Tilting her chin up, he tucks back the strands of hair that’s escaped the braid she put her hair in for the night and caresses her cheek. “Gods, Little Bird … you have absolutely no idea how much I love you, Sansa Stark.”

“Perhaps just as much as your Little Bird loves you, Sandor Clegane,” she replies, turning to kiss the palm of his hand. “I sincerely cannot wait until I become Sansa Clegane, though!”

“You're going to take my name?” he asks, very much surprised by that. “I figured you’d have to keep your Stark name, considering…?”

“Considering what?” Sansa asks with her brow furrowed in confusion.

“Considering how low I am beneath your station?” Sandor rasps in response, hating having to remind her of how he is not even remotely close to being good enough for the likes of her! “I mean… fuck, Sansa, you are a very highborn Lady; I’m just the second born son of a minor Lord. Shite, Little Bird, I’m not even good enough to be allowed the privilege of emptying out your chamber pot!”

Deep down inside, his pessimism keeps telling him that Sansa will eventually come to her damn senses and tell him to bugger off. He has to keep telling himself, over and over again, that this isn’t a dream. That, not only does Sansa truly love him, but that she is honestly, really going to marry him, too!

Of course I am taking my husband’s name!” Sansa exclaims with a look on her face telling him that he is denser than a potato if he believes otherwise.

“I do not care if it is customary for me to keep my family name just because you are not a High Lord, Sandor,” Sansa elaborates. “You, my love, are far more noble than any of the so-called Lords I met in King’s Landing,” she says before adding, “and I want everyone to know just how tremendously proud I am to be the Hound’s loving wife!”

“Are you sure about this, though, Sansa? You know how feared and hated the Clegane name is, after all,” Sandor asks. “I…I just don’t want you to regret your decision, Little Bird. Fuck, I’m already scared that you’ll regret even marrying me once everyone finds out,” he says with a sigh, knowing how he is often judged for his brother’s crimes just because they share the same damn family name.

“Sandor, listen to me,” she orders, before saying, “the only thing that I regret is how we did not confess our love for one another long ago! Who knows, my love, we could have possibly secretly married that same evening as Lord Tyrion and Shae,” Sansa says, making him visualize having to share the happiest day of his life—his and Sansa’s wedding day—with the bloody fucking Imp! That buggering bastard would have never let me live that down.

“Besides, love… you, me, our children, and our grandchildren will make the Clegane name synonymous with honor,” she says, caressing his right cheek. “It will become just as loved and well respected as the Stark name was before Joffrey became King,” she replies, placing a kiss on his scarred cheek.

Sansa has absolutely no clue how touched he is that she is actually going to take his name. She’s reached Sandor where no one else ever could—in the darkest and deepest recesses of his tormented soul. He will do anything and everything he can to try and prove himself worthy of her, knowing it will take time; if it’s even possible, that is.

“I’m going to need to hurry with the doublet and jerkin I started making for you the other day! Ooh, and I’ll also need to put the Stark sigil on my Maiden’s Cloak before we find a sept, too,” she excitedly says, making Sandor wonder what she will use for her Maiden’s Cloak. He honestly thought she would have to use her grey woolen cloak.

“Did you buy some white fabric I don’t know about?”

“No, but I do have a cloak I can use,” she replies with a rather impish little grin.

“What cloak is that? Your grey one?”

Instead of answering him directly, she just gets up from her place perched in his lap, goes to kneel in front of her saddlebags, and collects a rather familiar looking, folded white cloak. That can’t be….

“I’ve had this for over a year,” she says, shaking open a white woolen Kingsguard Cloak. By the length of it, he can tell that it truly is his, just as he suspected. He just doesn’t know when, or how, she could have gotten ahold of one of his old cloaks. It’s not stained enough to be the one from the Battle of the Blackwater; besides, she did say that she’s had it for over a year, now!

“Where on earth did you get one of my old Kingsguard Cloaks?” he asks with his brow furrowed in confusing surprise.

With a coy smile, Sansa says, “from you….”

“From me… when?” I don’t remember giving her one of my cloaks, he thinks, wondering if he could have possibly given it to her when he was drunk, sometime. Hells, it’s not like she didn’t see my arse drunk more often than not.

“You gave me your cloak after Joffrey had me stripped and beaten in the Throne Room,” she explains, causing his fists to instantly clench at the remembrance. Sandor was so damn close to drawing his sword and disemboweling the weaselly little fucker, right where he sat!

“And you actually kept the damned thing?” Sandor asks with a disbelieving, lopsided smile, forcing the painful memory out of his mind. I will be killing that fucking bastard, yet, Godsdamnit—that, he sincerely promises himself!

I will also be placing his severed head right at my Little Bird’s feet, as well! Sandor silently vows, wanting to give her, the rest of the Starks—fuck, and even just the North, in general, for that matter—the warranted justice that they deserve for not only the murder of Lord Eddard Stark, but for the constant mistreatment of their Princess in the North, as well!

Shyly nodding, Sansa confesses, “this coarse woolen cloak is my most cherished possession,” with a small smile and a blush. “It… it smelled like you, so I would wrap myself up in it at night while pretending that you were holding me as I slept,” she shyly admits, making him smile and his heart swell up in his chest at the thought.

“You sure you want to use a Kingsguard Cloak, though?” he asks before adding, “especially knowing what hypocrisy it represents?”

“Well, this particular Kingsguard Cloak, though, represents you, Sandorthe most knightly non-knight in all of the Seven Kingdoms!” Sansa says, causing him to chuckle.

“Honestly, though, I actually find it kind of fitting to use a cloak from Joffrey’s Kingsguard, you know? He is the reason why I met you, after all!”

Sandor cannot prevent himself from loudly laughing at that thought. “Aye, wish we could see the buggering bastard’s face once he discovers that his former betrothed has married his former Sworn Shield,” he adds, causing Sansa to start giggling now, herself.

“He is going to be so angry; I love it!” Sansa exclaims with a mischievous grin as she refolds and puts the cloak back in her saddlebag. “If it wouldn’t let him know where we were, we could send him a ‘thank you’ note,” she adds with yet another giggle, drawing forth another laugh from Sandor, as well.

“Mayhaps we can send him a raven once we’re back with your family, Little Bird,” Sandor offers in amusement before adding, “assuming they don’t kill me or chase us off, that is.”

“They will not kill you, Sandor! But, if they do chase us off, then we will just find us some small little town or village—or we might could even find a safe, secluded area to build a small cabin in the woods somewhere—and live happily ever after! Just you, me, and our entire litter of pups,” she says, making him envision the two of them herding several redheaded and black haired pups inside some little cabin, somewhere… and with Stranger more than likely watching in amusement, too! Ornery damn horse!

“You know, I was thinking… if we aren’t accepted by your family, and if you like the sound of it, then we might could cross the Narrow Sea?” Sandor offers before adding, “you just deserve so much more than a rural peasant life, Sansa, and someplace like Braavos would have many employment opportunities for me. I could probably find work as a sellsword or become a wealthy merchant’s guard, fairly easily.”

“Sandor, my love, I will follow you anywhere! I do not care where we live. Braavos, Pentos… even if we end up having to camp out and live in a tent for the rest of our lives,” Sansa responds as she comes to sit back in his lap.

“My home is right here, my love,” Sansa says, placing her hand flat against his chest, right over his heart. “Your Little Bird has built herself a permanent nest, right here within the brambles surrounding your heart, Sandor. Where you go, I go! Alright?”

“Aye, Little Bird; but I will not have you living in a tent, though, Sansa,” he says, nuzzling her neck.

“If we do end up emigrating to one of the Free Cities, then I could always buy you a manse, and get you some servants. Just like my sweet and beautiful little Northern Princess deserves,” he adds, causing Sansa’s eyes to light up at the thought.

“But… but can you afford that?” she nervously asks, looking rather worried that he will anger at her implying he is poor.

“You are not marrying a pauper, Little Bird,” Sandor rasps with a chuckle.

“Remember, when I saved that pillow biter—the little Tyrell knight—from my monster of a brother at your father’s tourney?” he asks to which she nods in response.

“He declared me the champion, Little Bird. The purse for that tourney was forty thousand dragons! I still have every bit of it, too, plus other tourney winnings, seeing as how I didn’t have very many expenses in King’s Landing. My job as Joff’s shield came with everything I needed—room, board, a place for Stranger, and meals. The few expenses I did have I paid for with my earnings, not my winnings,” he says with a confident smirk at letting his future wife know that she is actually marrying a fairly wealthy man, causing her to smile. In all honesty, Sandor actually has more coin than many of the Noble Lords of Westeros, seeing as how quite a number of them tend to be more land poor, after all.

Her happy smile soon turns to confusion furrowing her pretty brow, though, when she suddenly asks, “what did you mean by ‘pillow biter?’” making Sandor completely unable to contain the laughter from knowing how genuinely innocent Sansa is.

“It means that Ser Loras Tyrell likes men, Little Bird,” he barely gets out through his chuckling at her shocked look and huge eyes. “He was Renly Baratheon’s lover, Sansa; they fucked each other up the arse,” he adds, causing Sansa’s cheeks to nearly ignite and her jaw to fall open.

“Hells, love, I actually caught them in the stables once, several years back, as they apparently believed they’d have a bit of privacy. Ser Loras Tyrell was on his knees, sucking Renly’s cock as if it were the most delicious thing he’s ever had in his mouth!” Sandor rasps, laughing at how her slacked jaw practically lands in her lap and her widened eyes threaten to bulge right out of their sockets.

“Oh, my Gods! But… but I liked him!” Sansa cries out in humiliating embarrassment as she turns even redder, now; more than likely due to the mental image that Sandor painted of an anointed knight actually sucking another man’s cock. A knight that nearly every young noble woman swooned over, too!

“I know you did,” he mirthfully rasps through a chuckle, kissing her forehead. “You were just barking up the wrong damn tree with that one, though, Little Bird!”

“Apparently so… hmm, I wonder if Ser Loras would have actually preferred the Hound to ‘bark up that tree,’ instead?” Sansa teases with a wicked grin.

“Oh, bugger that, Little Bird!” Sandor chuckles out, tickling her sides as punishment, causing her to furiously wiggle in his lap while laughing quite loudly. “Hounds are strictly for Little Birds, Sansa; something of which you should very well know by now, too.”

After her laughter finally subsides, she says “I do know that Sandor; I was only teasing you a bit,” with a beautiful smile. “Little Birds are only for Hounds, as well,” she adds before reaching up and gently pulling him down by his neck for a kiss.

“I love you, Sandor.”

“I love you, too, Sansa,” he breathes against her lips before deepening yet another kiss.

After holding her for a few minutes, Sansa yawns and says “I don’t know about you, my love, but I think it’s time for your Little Bird to crawl beneath this fur of ours and nest herself in your arms for the night.”

“Aye; that sounds like a wonderful idea to me, Little Bird,” he agrees, kissing her cheek before she crawls out of his lap. Holding their fur up, Sansa crawls beneath it before he follows her.

As soon as Sansa’s settled next to him, Sandor wraps his arm around her back and possessively pulls her into him, firmly up against his chest, eliciting an adorable little squeak turned giggle.

“I’ve dreamt of you holding me like this so many times, Sandor; though having your strong arms tightly around me feels even better than I could have ever imagined,” Sansa confesses.

“I’ve had those same, exact dreams, Little Bird,” Sandor responds. “We actually woke up this way a few times, you know?”

With a bashful smile, she nods and says, “yes, I know; those times were like dreams coming true, too. Especially our first morning in Stoney Sept,” Sansa says, reminding him of her reaction to her claiming to have slept well.

“Oh?”

“Mmhmm,” she hums with a blush. “We were completely wrapped around each other—it was wonderful.”

“Aye, it was. I actually woke up in the middle of the night and found us that way; debated whether I should have moved you, or not. My heart won out over my brain, though,” he says.

“I’m so glad you let me cuddle with you, Sandor; I think we both needed it,” she replies. “I was a bit embarrassed, though… I actually woke up not only in your arms, but with my leg draped over your hip!” Sansa says, making Sandor smile at the memory of him actually pulling her leg up even higher; though, he’ll just keep that information to himself.

Instead, he simply says, “that sounds like the perfect way to sleep snuggled up with you, Little Bird,” causing her to blush, before agreeing with him.

Caressing Sansa’s left cheek, Sandor slides his hand to the back of her head and leans in for a kiss. As she opens her mouth for him, his tongue glides across and around hers, exploring and savoring the delectably sweet taste of her.

Easing his hand down to caress her back, her left leg eases up over his hip, leading his hand to involuntarily drift down even further, gently squeezing and kneading her perfectly firm little arse over her skirt.

With his cock straining the laces of his breeches, Sandor pulls Sansa firmer against him, slightly thrusting his erection against her, wanting her to feel just how hard she can so easily make him.

Trailing open-mouthed kisses along her jaw and down her slender neck, around to the front of her pale throat, a slight gasp turns into an arousing mewling moan as she tentatively meets his thrust with one of her own.

As Sansa pulls his head back up, reclaiming his lips with her own, a deep growl escapes the back of his throat when her hips slam into his; an act that only seems to spur Sansa on by the way her hungry kiss intensifies. Her hands slide over every single inch of his broad shoulders and muscular back that she can reach, as if she’s desperately needing to feel as much of his body as possible.

When Sansa’s legs slide up his flanks, Sandor thrusts against her once more before suddenly realizing that they have somehow changed positions. The fuck did this happen?

Sandor doesn’t know how, nor when, he actually ended up on top of Sansa. Her arms are firmly wrapped around his back, under his arms, and he is now nestled between her thighs that she has managed to spread wide enough to accommodate the bulk of his huge form.

Upon meeting his thrust yet another time, though, Sandor is instantly brought back to his senses. Fucking Hells…. No…! Not like this.

“Gods, Sansa,” he breathes out, burying his face in the crook of her neck and shoulder, his breathing coming out just as rapidly as his heart is pounding.

“I want you so fucking bad, Little Bird,” Sandor practically whines before reluctantly rolling off of her and back over onto his side, making her slightly pout in protest.

“I can’t… I won’t take you like this, though,” he says, pulling her snuggly up against his chest again, wrapping his arms firmly around her, and trying to cool his scorching blood enough to allow his hardened cock to soften. A feat that is damn near impossible considering how he is quite nearly always rock hard around Sansa.  

“I fucking refuse to have your first time—our first time—in the middle of the forest, Little Bird. You deserve so much more than a rut in the woods like a damn animal; you deserve a fucking palace,” Sandor rasps, brushing her hair back from her face and caressing her flushed cheek.

“But, unfortunately, that’s just not all that possible. So, the least I can hope to do is try finding you an inn with a soft bed—and preferably one with a feather bed, at that,” he says before gently kissing her lips.

Aside from their less than romantic locale, though, Sandor is fairly certain Sansa will actually want to marry before they physically consummate their love, anyway; especially considering how she is a highborn maiden.

With a fiery flushed face that is even visible in the darkness of the dense forest, Sansa shyly says, “I am so sorry, Sandor; I-I shouldn’t have acted so… so wanton,” as she tucks her head under his chin, looking highly embarrassed at her actions. “It isn’t exactly the proper behavior becoming of a Lady, after all.”

“Bugger that, Little Bird,” Sandor responds, tilting her chin up to have her meet his gaze. “I loved every single second of it,” he adds, making her look of embarrassment ease up a bit.

“I want you to be as wanton and uninhibited with me as you feel comfortable with; alright, Sansa?” Sandor asks, to which she shyly nods her understanding. “I do know it will take time for you, though, and that is perfectly fine,” he reassures her, tenderly kissing her forehead.

“We will take things just as slow as you need, Little Bird—there is no need to rush; we have plenty of time,” he says, despite his dripping cock and aching balls protesting, attempting to order him to go behind a tree and spill some built up seed. However, if Sansa must suffer her own pent up arousal, then Sandor will suffer alongside her. After all, he just doesn’t exactly think it fair for him to be able to find relief when she can’t. Hopefully it’ll only be for a few more days, anyway.

Gently caressing her back, Sandor and Sansa tenderly kiss, and declare their love for one another before settling down beneath their shadowskin, right where they both belong—tightly wrapped up in one another’s embrace.

As the two of them slowly drift off to sleep, Sansa eases her leg up over his hip as she tucks her head up underneath his chin again with her cheek pressing against his chest, directly over his heart. Possessively pulling her tighter against his body with his arm that’s wrapped around her back, he sends up a silent prayer thanking the Gods for the priceless gifts they’ve bestowed upon him today as he is finally claimed by slumber.