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Sandor reclined with his arms spread across the backrest of a wooden bench underneath a large oak tree and adjacent to a bend in one of the many running and cycling tracks weaving through and around King’s Landing Botanic Gardens. When he had first arrived the park was full of activity: chattering, the pounding of running shoes along the asphalt track, the barking of dogs, the excited cries of young children enjoying the nearby playground equipment and the incessant ringing of bicycle bells. But now it was dark and completely serene, a light cool breeze stirring through strands of his hair. This was his favourite time because he did not have to contend with the constant stares, the open mouthed shock or worse the looks of pity that were cast in his direction by those who frequented the park during the day. He especially tried to avoid the children. It would not do to be the stuff of their night terrors. In the dimmer light cast by the lampposts and the soft glow from the crescent moon as it waned gibbous above him, he looked just like anyone else; for a short time he could pretend that he was just like anyone else and it lent him a degree of comfort.

 

He stared off into the distance at a flock of bats that settled into a stand of enormous fig trees, their strident squeaking and the leathery swish of their wings piercing the tranquillity of the night. Suddenly he was pulled from his reveries by the rapid approach of clattering claws along the walking trail and looked up just before he was smothered by a wet and bedraggled furry form that licked furiously at his face and neck.
“What the fuck?” he yelled out in shock and anger as he desperately tried to dislodge the animal from his person. The damned mutt was getting mud and water all over his clothing and not to mention spittle all over his buggering face.
“Lady! Come back here. Bad girl.”
He heard the voice before he saw the woman from whom it emanated as she was still hidden somewhere around the bend in the track.

 

He finally managed to push the Alaskan Malamute off him but it still jumped up constantly, plastering its dirty paws all over the front of his shirt and jeans and barking excitedly. Just then the owner of the dog slowed to a walk and then a shocked standstill in the middle of the track only a couple of yards away from him with a loud gasp. His eyes widened in wonder. She was a beauty. Slim and tall (although still considerably shorter than himself) with gentle womanly curves, long slender arms and legs - she was clothed in a white t-shirt covered by a sky blue skin tight zipped hooded jacket and black leggings. Her long wavy red hair was tied back in a ponytail, accentuating the high cheekbones and the delicate line of her jaw. Her lips were plump and looked incredibly soft and perfectly formed in a delicate shade of pink. Her flawless skin glowed alabaster in the light of the moon and lamplights. But what affected him the most were the bright blue twin pools of her eyes that regarded him with a look that he had unfortunately been on the receiving end of way too many times before.

 

He felt a characteristic pang of hurt but instantly buried it, scowling fiercely at the young woman who blushed and averted her gaze.
“If my face offends you that much then maybe you should just keep on running. Don’t let me stop you,” he grated out between clenched teeth, his face angling instinctively so that his long dark lank hair covered the ravaged right side of his face as much as possible.
“And you can take your mangy mutt here with you while you’re at it,” he added as he pushed the excited dog off himself once again.
“Lady! Come!” she commanded more firmly.
The dog whined and took one last look at him before slinking reluctantly back to its mistress, its tail between its legs.
“Ummm, I – I’m so sorry. I wasn’t expecting… Ah…. I’m…,” she stammered as she wrung her fingers anxiously in front of her.
Sandor decided to put her out of her misery.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s not like I don’t experience it every day of my life anyway.”

 

While he had meant it as a conciliatory gesture he hadn’t quite been able to master his tone sufficiently to remove the bitter undercurrent that lurked there. It was also obviously the wrong thing to say. Subtlety had never been his strong point. He noticed an immediate shift in her expression. Gone was the shock and horror and the worst emotion and the one he dreaded most of all: pity. She now looked as though she was in physical pain and her eyes had started to brim with tears. She was a gentle soul, it would appear. He instantly felt a little guilty for the way he had spoken to her. He couldn’t realistically fault her for her initial reaction to him because she probably would have reacted in fright anyway given the situation they found themselves in: her alone in the dark, and such a little thing too, with a big hulking menacing man. She still hadn’t spoken; she stood firmly rooted to the spot, her eyes downcast in what could only be construed as deep shame. Finally she lifted her watery eyes to meet his, her voice more steady.
“I am very sorry for my behaviour. I was brought up to be better than that. It was very insensitive of me. Please forgive me?” she added in a small voice.

 

Buggering hells. How could he look into that angelic face, those mesmerising eyes and listen to the sweet music of that voice and remain angry?
“I said don’t worry about it,” he mumbled. “There’s nothing to forgive. Except for the damned paw prints all over my clothes.”
He attempted a small smile to cheer her up but the effort only quirked up the unburnt side of his mouth and he knew it did nothing in the slightest to improve his appearance. To his utter astonishment she beamed at him, flashing her startlingly white teeth, her eyes lighting up in relief and gratitude.
“I’m really sorry about that too. I usually have her on the lead but she broke it, jumped into the lake and ran off. I don’t know what got into her.”
“Must have been my magnetic personality – she just couldn’t stay away,” he japed.

 

The girl laughed – a light melodic tinkle that he would do anything to hear from her again.
What the fuck was she doing to him?
“She really likes you, you know. She wouldn’t normally be that friendly with a complete stranger. Here, for the laundering,” she said, as she reached into the pocket of her jacket extracting a banknote and walking closer to offer it to him.
He looked at her slender fingers as she reached out to him but did not take the ten dollar note.
“Keep it,” he replied.
To his surprise she grabbed his hand and stuffed the money into it. He recoiled reflexively from the unexpected contact. It was so unusual for a woman to initiate contact with him that he just couldn’t control his reaction. She gave him a look that told him that it hadn’t gone unnoticed.
“I insist,” she stated firmly.

 

He looked down at her hand that still grasped his in a warm and firm grip and frowned in perplexity.
“Why aren’t you afraid of me?” he asked in wonderment.
“Should I be?” she responded looking him straight in the eye, not a hint of distress to be found.
“Most people are. And besides we are all alone here. You don’t know me from Adam,” he added.
She gifted him a small smile and released his hand.
“You have kind eyes and besides Lady here is an excellent judge of character. If she thought I was in any danger from you, well, let us just say I would be up for some substantial medical bills rather than a measly tenner for cleaning your clothes.”
She thinks I’ve got kind eyes? What the fuck? Did I just get zapped into some strange alternative universe where random beautiful women come up to me and touch me and flatter me?
He huffed in amusement. “It must be darker here than I thought. If you could see me in proper light you’d run a mile.”
“No, I wouldn’t,” she replied with a very earnest look in her eyes.

 

Sandor shifted nervously on his feet and averted his gaze. Her sweetness and honesty, something he was so unaccustomed to, was starting to overwhelm him. She must have sensed his discomfiture because all of a sudden she stuck her hand out again.
“My name is Sansa. Sansa Stark.”
“Sandor Clegane,” he replied.
He reached with his massive paw and enveloped her small hand in his, marvelling at how soft and delicately formed it was. If he wanted to he could crush it without any effort and the thought made him hold it more gingerly than he might otherwise have done. He felt a gentle squeeze from her which he did his best to return in equal measure. Suddenly his undisciplined mind wondered what it would be like to feel that hand squeeze around his cock. He immediately pushed the notion aside as both absurd and dangerous. He could start to feel a stirring at his groin and prayed that he could get it under control before she noticed anything untoward.

 

To his surprise he detected a faint blush across her cheeks as she slowly released his hand and wondered what had provoked that reaction. It was almost as if she were reading his mind.
“Do you come here often…..Oh God,” she gasped as she clasped her hand over her mouth. “I can’t believe I just said that.”
A genuine laugh, his first in quite a long while, rumbled from deep within his chest.
“You really need to work on your pick up lines. That was truly shite.”
She reddened even further and could not meet his eyes. He decided to be merciful although he really enjoyed her blushes and was sorely tempted to extract more of them from her.
“It has been known for me to come here on occasion, yes. It’s peaceful, well, most of the time,” he answered with a small quirk of his lips.
She gifted him a wide smile and fiddled nervously with her hair.
“Oh good. Well maybe we’ll see each other again sometime then, Sandor. It was nice to meet you,” she said as she began to walk away.
“You too, little bird,” he replied.
She stopped and turned to look at him quizzically then continued on her way, Lady bounding happily along beside her.

Chapter Text

Sansa arrived at her house, removed her keys from her jacket pocket and let herself inside, Lady hot on her heels.
“Come on girl. Time for some dinner,” she said as she reached down to ruffle the dog’s ears.
She opened a can of dog food and spooned it into a large bowl, added some kibble and placed it in its usual spot by the back door as the dog attacked it with gusto, her tail wagging enthusiastically.
She opened the fridge and stood for some time in indecision before extracting a small container of leftover homemade pea and ham soup popping it into the microwave to heat it up. She moved to the lounge room and plonked herself down on the couch, reached for the remote and flicked on the TV. As she sat eating her meal she started to reflect on her encounter with Sandor Clegane in the park.

 

As she had rounded the bend in the track she had been entirely unprepared for another human presence as it was, but when she had first laid eyes on the man standing by the bench, she had instinctively slowed to observe him. He was a very large imposing figure with stringy unkempt hair, broad shouldered, barrel chested with narrow hips and strong muscular thighs. In the dim lighting of the park, Sansa could not clearly discern any features of his face, besides which one half seemed to be partially obscured by the curtain of his black hair. She was cautious but Lady seemed perfectly content in the man’s presence so she wasn’t as frightened as perhaps she might otherwise have been. As he moved in his efforts to quieten Lady, his head flicked back exposing his face more directly to the light from the nearest lamppost and she had gasped audibly and frozen in place. Terrible white and bright pink burn scarring afflicted the right side of his face, extending from his hairline and over his forehead and eyelid, down over his cheekbone and his lips and right across to his partially melted ear. At first she had reacted in horror and fear. But then she was overcome by a deep feeling of pity for the man when she contemplated how much pain he must have endured when the injury occurred and the hurt he probably still endured due to the reactions of those around him. Like the reaction she had just shown.

 

She detected a fleeting look of pain in the man’s eyes, and his tone, when he had spoken to her, was filled with bitterness. She felt then a deep stab of guilt and remorse. She had hurt him with her reaction and in turn, it hurt her to the core. She would never deliberately cause another pain and to think that she had done so to this man who had probably suffered unbelievably during his life had brought tears to her eyes. She had no idea how to fix it, even if it could be fixed. He had seen her response to him and it could never be taken back. She had flustered and stuttered like an idiot, digging herself into an even deeper hole. But then in a move that was sensitive and completely unexpected he had offered her an out. He had even attempted to smile but she noted how the damaged nerves on the right side of his mouth prevented him from fully achieving it. He would never know how much she appreciated the effort.

 

She had looked into his eyes then. Big, brown, warm and full of expression. When she looked into Sandor’s eyes she felt like she was diving deep into the waters of his soul. They twinkled with humour and a hint of mischief. When she smiled back at him in gratitude at his solicitousness towards her she felt a warmth and fluttering in her chest as he mirrored the sentiment right back at him with his eyes. When she had taken his hand to offer him the money to clean his clothes she could not help but notice his hand jerk at the contact. She wondered if he was unused to being touched and schooled her features not to show the surge of pity she felt for him at that moment.

 

Then he had asked her if she was afraid of him. She had considered for a moment before answering. Any woman who suddenly found herself alone in a darkened park with a man of his imposing stature would be crazy not to feel some level of apprehension. But it was clear that wasn’t what he was referring to. He had expected her to be frightened due to his affliction. But why should she be afraid of some mere scar tissue? He had proven himself to be gentle with her and kind so it was with complete honesty that she could look him square in the eye and assure him that she was perfectly comfortable in his presence. It surprised her a little, well a lot. There were not many men that she could say the same about, particularly after everything that she had been through with other men in her past. There was something about Sandor Clegane that put her at ease despite his rough exterior.

 

When he had taken his hand in hers and returned her gentle press, she felt a bolt of pure energy that travelled right through her body to her core. She had almost gasped out in shock but instead had bitten her cheek and blushed rather hotly. At the same time she had looked into his eyes and had detected a flash of lust there. She was becoming increasingly flustered and had proceeded to completely humiliate herself with the oldest and corniest pick up line in the book, albeit unintentionally. But her embarrassment had been mitigated by the unrestrained boom of laughter that emanated from Sandor. She suspected that such a vocalisation from him was extremely rare – the look on his face spoke to his surprise at his own reaction. She loved the uninhibited sound of it and was happy beyond words that she had been the source of it, especially after what had first transpired between them. She had left the park in a buoyant mood, somewhat awed at the physical and emotional effect the man had had on her and completely unable to account for it. He was clearly much older than her and most decidedly was not her type, not that her type had worked out so well for her in the past, admittedly.

 

She finished her soup and cleaned the bowl and spoon before returning to the couch and laying back with a loud sigh. Having finished her own dinner, Lady trotted up and jumped up on the couch next to her, curling up by her feet. She reached out to fondle the dog’s ears.
“What do you think, Lady? You liked him didn’t you, girl?” she asked.
Lady lifted her head and made a sneezing noise before settling back down.
Just then Sansa’s cell phone rang.
“Hi Margaery.”
“Hey Sansa. What are you up to?”
“Oh nothing much. Just sitting watching some TV. You know. Exciting social life.”
“Yeah. Same. What are you doing tomorrow night?”

 

Sansa considered. She had wanted to go by the park hoping to bump into Sandor again but when she stopped to think about it rationally she decided that she was being rather egotistical. What made her think that he would be there the night right after their first meeting? She was nothing to him and she should have no expectation that he would seek her out. Her parting words to him were those that were commonly uttered as a gesture of civility and she felt sure that is exactly the way he would have interpreted them. No, it would be ridiculous of her to blow off her only real friend on the off chance that this man, a mere one time acquaintance, would put his life on hold by sitting on a park bench just waiting for her to arrive. She was being ridiculous. And yet….

 

“I haven’t anything planned,” Sansa replied after some deliberation.
She would not tell Margaery that it was actually her 21st Name Day. She had no intention of celebrating with a party, the date holding too many painful memories for her.
“How about we go out for a drink at the new wine bar in Old Gate?”
“Sounds great,” Sansa responded, hoping that her tone sounded more enthusiastic than she actually felt.
“Awesome. I’ll come by and pick you up at 7pm?”
“Looking forward to it,” she said. “Thanks Margaery. I think a night out is just what I need right now.”
Margaery was silent at the other end of the line but eventually responded.
“Is everything okay,” she asked.
“Yes, of course,” Sansa replied. “Just tired that’s all. Time to hit the sack.”
“Okay then, good night and I’ll see you tomorrow.
“Good night Margaery.”
Sansa terminated the call and stared blankly at the phone for a moment before laying down on the couch and closing her eyes.

Chapter Text

“Fuck!” Sandor grunted as he rubbed at the knuckles of his right hand.
His hand had slipped as he had attempted to loosen a bolt in the engine bay of the BMW he was working on and he had rapped his knuckles soundly against unrelenting metal and broken the skin. It kind of summed up his whole day really. For some buggering reason he had awoken an hour late to find that he had no electricity in his house and that his clock radio alarm hadn’t gone off. He’d paid the fucking bill. What gives? He dragged himself from the bed, hastily threw on his coveralls and work boots and rang Stanley the boss at the garage. To say the man was angry was an understatement. It was the busiest day of the week right before a public holiday long weekend and of course everybody in Westeros wanted their pissing cars worked on before they took off on their road trips. Too bad these morons didn’t bother keeping up their regular car services during the year. If they did, a lot of this last minute bullshit wouldn’t happen. He terminated the call after some mumbled half-hearted apologies, grabbed a light jacket and his wallet and keys and headed out the front door.

 

“Morning Sandor,” his neighbour, Mrs Shuttleworth greeted.
“Hi, Mrs Shuttleworth. Are you without electricity or is it just me?” he asked with a frown.
“It’s not just you. It’s the whole area. Someone took out a power pole with their car.”
He sighed and stifled a curse. He had learned that his neighbour was not fond of swearing and so he always tried to tone it down around her. The older lady was a little nosey and irritatingly cheerful but she was also one of the only people in the neighbourhood who would give him the time of day. Mostly his other neighbours steered a wide berth and avoided him at all costs. As cordial as she was with him it did not go unnoticed that she still could not look him straight in the eye, discomfited as she was by his scarring. He knew he should be used to it by now but for some reason it still stung. That was why it was such a surprise when Sansa Stark had gazed so earnestly at him.

 

He knew that she was the reason he had overslept. Nine times out of ten he would wake of his own accord without assistance from the alarm, but he had spent the whole night lying on his back staring up at the ceiling and replaying their interaction in the park over and over again in his head until he had finally succumbed to exhaustion in the early hours of the morning. He was completely baffled by her. If he didn’t know better he could have sworn that she was attracted to him. But that was too absurd. She was by far the most beautiful woman he had ever met and he was…. well, he was what he was.

 

And she was so young. How old was she anyway? Nineteen, twenty? He was thirty for Christ’s sake. No, he was kidding himself. He’d seen what he had wanted to see. She was merely trying to compensate for her earlier reaction to seeing his face by being especially kind towards him. It was simply another form of pity and he should recognise it for what it truly was. And yet, the mere fact that she had not turned tail and run and had sounded as though she would in fact welcome another meeting with him, could not be so easily ignored. He was a complete fucking fool for hoping, he knew it, but yet he still hoped.

 

He drove the ten minute trip into work and exhaled loudly before making his way to the office.
“There you are. Finally decided to get your ass into work, I see,” Stanley grumbled with a frown as he looked up from the computer screen.
“Yeah. Sorry boss,” he mumbled, “The whole street lost electricity and my alarm didn’t go off.”
“Okay, whatever,” he replied waving his hands dismissively. “You’re here now. I suppose I should be thankful for small mercies. Take the silver BMW job. The owner is in a hurry so try and be quick, will you?”
It was on the tip of Sandor’s tongue to remind his employer that every fucking customer was in a hurry and that his other two mechanics were lazy cunts who usually left the most difficult and time consuming jobs to him while they swanned around doing as little as they possibly could. They were constantly late to work or invented excuses for needing to leave early. This was the first time he had ever been late, he was never inefficient when he worked and often stayed back to finish difficult jobs. Although he knew he owned the moral high ground, Sandor couldn’t afford to get his boss offside. He needed this job. He had only been employed due to a government placement incentive program for parolees and he knew that with his criminal record and his frightful appearance he would find it difficult if not impossible to find another job. So he swallowed his pride, as he always did, and set to work on the BMW.

 

A couple of hours into the job Stanley appeared at this side with a frown on his face.
“What the hell have you been doing all this time?” he exclaimed.
Sandor scowled at him but kept his voice as calm and steady as he could.
“It turned out to be a bigger job that I expected. I’ve had to dismantle the engine assembly to fix the issue.”
Stanley sighed, “How much longer?”
“About another hour, give or take. Why?”
“The owner’s been on the phone to me three times so far this morning. He’s getting louder and louder every time he rings. He’s busting my balls. Just hurry it up.”
“Do you want me to half-ass the job or get it done right the first time? I’m sure he’ll be even louder if the thing conks out as soon as he gets halfway down the street,” Sandor growled.
“Just do it,” Stanley grunted in irritation as he turned and started to walk away.

 

Sandor swore under his breath but resumed his work until the other two mechanics sauntered over to him laughing and cursing up a storm while they scoffed their lunchtime sandwiches. He had decided to work through his break in order to finish with the BMW to get Stanley and the impatient car owner off their respective backs.
“Earning your keep for once, Clegane?” Hal sneered.
“Fuck off,” he grumbled back, in no mood to humour the prick.
“Oh leave him be,” Jeff smirked, “brown nosing the boss must be very hard work.”
Sandor stopped what he was doing, wrench clenched tightly in his hand and shot the man his most menacing glower. Jeff’s smirk faded and he flinched backwards slightly, the blood draining from his face.
Just then, of course, Stanley felt the need to make an appearance.
“What’s going on here? Have you finished with the car yet? The guy will be here soon to pick it up”
Sandor took a deep breath and steadied his voice as the other two men took the opportunity to slink off.
“The car is finished,” he snarled out.
“Good, it’s high time. Can you start working on the white Ford Ranger now? It’s an issue with the alternator.”
Sandor grunted in the affirmative and moved to the next vehicle. It was going to be a long, long day.

Chapter Text

Sansa squirmed as she pulled her skin tight black dress over her hips and reached around to pull up the back zip. She checked her reflection in the mirror and decided it would have to do. She hadn’t had much time to do any clothes shopping since she had moved to King’s Landing, her first priorities being finding a place to live and finding a job. Luckily she had some excellent references from previous employment in the Vale so she had landed what she considered to be a dream job in a small bookshop café along the High Street within no time. The only problem with the job was that she adored reading so much that she was tempted to just hand the owner back her entire pay cheque every week so she could take home every new release for her own enjoyment.

 

She pushed her feet into her high heeled pumps and walked to the bathroom to apply her makeup. A smoky eye, deep plum lipstick, a hint of blush at the cheekbones. She ran her fingers through her long tresses and decided that any more fussing was a waste of time. She looked so tired from her troubled night’s sleep that no amount of concealment would be an improvement. She sighed listlessly and made her way into the kitchen to pour herself a glass of water. Just then her phone rang.

 

“Hey Margaery. What’s up,” Sansa asked in concern as she checked her watch. It was only minutes before her friend was due to pick her up.
“Sansa, I’m really sorry but I’m going to have to cancel tonight. Loras isn’t feeling very well. He has a really high temperature and I’m a bit worried about him. The flu is going around so I really want to keep an eye on him. I’m sorry I didn’t ring sooner but he seemed to get worse very quickly.”
“Oh,” Sansa replied a little sadly as she contemplated being alone on her Name Day. Still Margaery’s priority had to be her brother. That was perfectly understandable.
“Of course you have to stay with him. I hope he’s better soon,” she responded.
“I feel terrible,” Margaery murmured.
“Don’t. It’s totally okay. I’m a bit tired anyway, truth be told. I’ll probably just order a pizza, watch some TV and hit the sack.”
“Okay, but we’ll definitely do it soon.”
“It’s a date girlfriend. Please give Loras my best wishes,” Sansa replied with a smile.
“I will. Bye Sansa.”
“See ya, Margaery.”

 

Sansa sighed loudly and terminated the call. What now? Although she did not feel like partying she did not exactly relish the thought of a night all alone in an empty house either. She loved her fur child, Lady, of course, but she felt the need for some human companionship. Unfortunately she had not had the time to form many friendships in King’s Landing so her options were somewhat limited. She briefly considered stopping by the park but decided that if Sandor was not there as she feared, her loneliness would only be compounded. Feeling a little emotionally fragile she did not want to take the risk. Turning on the television she watched a reality cooking show with little interest as she crunched on an apple. She couldn’t be bothered whipping up a meal at this late stage and she decided that the thought of greasy pizza really didn’t hold that much appeal.

 

Feeling completely bored she decided that she would visit the local pub. At least there she could perhaps strike up a conversation with some of the locals; at the very least she could sit and soak up the conviviality of other peoples’ interactions. Margaery had taken her there when they had first met at the bookshop where she worked. It was only a five minute walk from the house and was a decent enough place, having been recently renovated.
She grabbed her handbag, keys and phone and made her way out of the house, locking the door behind her. Lady began to whine and bark at the side fence. Sansa walked around and reached over the fence to pat her reassuringly.
“Bye girl. I won’t be long.”

 

She walked briskly down the street picking her way carefully with her high heels along the cracked pavement in the dim lighting from the street lamps. Arriving at her destination she pulled open the door to the pub and made her way inside. The main bar area consisted of large oak barrels with stools for seating placed sporadically around the room. Around the perimeter sat large armchairs in various sizes, shapes and colours for more intimate and relaxed seating. It was a relatively busy night so many of the seats were occupied but she spied a couple of spare chairs around a small table in one darkened corner of the room. She ordered her drink at the bar and took her place at the table, quickly removing her phone from her handbag to check for any missed calls or messages. One missed call from Petyr. She sighed heavily, her finger poised in indecision.

 

“Do you come here often?”

Chapter Text

Sansa startled at the familiar gruff voice, as her eyes snapped up to the face of the man in front of her. Her lips parted in shocked recognition but words entirely escaped her. She hastily returned the phone to her bag.
“You’re sitting in my favourite spot,” he continued, “do you mind if we share?”
A hot blush suffused her cheeks and she felt decidedly flustered as she tried to regain her composure.
“Umm. Sure. Please do,” she replied with a stammer, internally cursing herself for the panic in her voice.
He pulled the chair out and settled in to face her.
“This is quite a coincidence. Us meeting here like this.”
“I suppose so,” she responded. “So do you come here often?” she asked with a small smile.
“It’s the closest pub to home, so I come quite often,” he replied with a slight smirk.
Sansa nodded awkwardly but averted her gaze, unable to meet Sandor’s eyes.
“I was at the park earlier,” he continued.
“Oh?” Sansa asked in a small voice as she took a quick glance at him. He was staring at her intently.
“Aren’t you going to ask me why?” Sandor asked eventually.
“Why?” she responded a little weakly.
“I’m skint at the moment and was rather hoping to score another tenner for my laundry expenses,” he smiled.
Sansa relaxed and laughed softly.

 

“I did want to come by tonight but my friend Margaery invited me out. Unfortunately she had to bail at the last minute so I came here instead.”
“That explains it, then,” Sandor commented.
“What?”
“Well, the dress. It’s … not something one would normally expect to see worn at the local flea trap.”
Sansa looked down at herself a little self-consciously, suddenly aware of how tight her dress was and how much it accentuated her cleavage. Luckily her legs were obscured by the table as she realised how far up her thighs it had ridden when she sat down. She felt an unwelcome blush at Sandor’s undisguised scrutiny. He must have sensed her discomfort as he soon averted his eyes and took a long draught of his stout beer, examining the other bar patrons with little interest.

 

“Can I tell you something personal, Sandor?” Sansa asked.
She had no idea why she had chosen to confide in the man but for some reason had felt compelled to do so.
Sandor regarded her with curiosity.
“If you wish to, then go right ahead,” he offered.
“It’s my 21st Name Day today. That’s why I’m here. I didn’t want to spend it alone.”
His eyes widened in incredulity.
“But why would you be here on your own? Why aren’t you spending it with family and friends?”
“I moved to King’s Landing only a short time ago so I don’t have many friends yet. What is left of my family is back up North.”
“You were not tempted to make the trip to be with them?”
“Tempted, yes. But here I am.”
“Well, I know I am a poor substitute but I will do my best to entertain you, little bird.”

 

Sansa tilted her head to the side and regarded him quizzically.
“Why do you call me that?” she enquired.
Sandor appeared a little perturbed and rubbed his fingers through his hair.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Does it offend you? It is not meant to be patronising or chauvinistic in any way.”
“No, no it doesn’t offend me, but I just want to understand,” she replied quickly.
Sandor took a deep breath and grimaced as though what he was about to reveal caused him physical pain.

 

“When I was a young boy my mother gave me a small yellow songbird – a canary. Lacking the imagination of an adult I called it “Little Bird.” I loved that thing. Every time I would enter the sunroom where her cage was hanging, she would trill out her song to me. And only ever me. No matter how often my parents and my older brother neared her cage, she would never gift them her song.”
“That’s beautiful Sandor,” Sansa smiled, “but I still don’t understand.”
“You remind me of her. Your voice is sweet like a bird’s, especially when you laugh.”
Sansa blushed wildly and averted her eyes. Once she had recovered her composure sufficiently she spoke.
“Umm. What happened to the canary, Sandor?”
“My brother Gregor happened,” he replied with a snarl.

 

Sansa recoiled at the angry flash of his eyes and the downturn of his lips at the unburned side of his face. When he noticed her reaction, he relaxed his countenance.
“Gregor hated me with a passion. He was jealous of my relationship with our parents. Believe it or not I was not always the big strong guy you see before you now. When I was born I was sickly and not expected to survive. My parents focussed a lot of their time and energy on me as I was growing up and I think Gregor felt neglected, although that was only his perception and was never actually the case. One day he deliberately left the door of the birdcage and the adjacent window open and she flew away. He argued that he was giving Little Bird her freedom. I found her the next day dead in the neighbour’s yard having been attacked by their cat.”
“Oh Sandor, that’s so sad. I’m sorry,” Sansa muttered, regretting that she had led the conversation down this path. It was obviously stirring up some painful memories for the man.
“Don’t be. It was a long time ago.”
“Do you still see your brother? Is it still difficult between the two of you?”
“Haven’t seen him in years. Thank the Gods for small mercies,” he grunted.

 

Sansa fiddled with her hair nervously but before she could respond, he spoke again.
“So, you said something about your remaining family?”
“My father passed away in a car accident with my two youngest brothers last year. My mother is still living and I have a younger sister, Arya, an older brother and a half-brother; Robb and Jon are both in the military.”
Sandor shook his head with regret, his eyes downcast.
“I am sorry to hear of your loss, Sansa. That must have been very difficult for you.”
“It was. But it was especially hard on my mother. Luckily she still has her sister, my Aunt Lysa for support. She and her husband helped out a lot when the accident happened.”
“Why did you move to King’s Landing?”
Sansa’s breath hitched and she could not meet his eye.
“Things…got complicated. I couldn’t stay anymore. I had to get out.”
“Do you want to tell me why?” Sandor asked gently.
“Umm. A guy. I got involved in a situation I couldn’t handle.”
“But surely your mother -”
“No,” Sansa interrupted in a rush, “she wouldn’t understand. I couldn’t tell her,” she added in a fluster.
“Okay, okay. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry, little bird,” Sandor replied in a reassuring tone. “It’s just a shame, that’s all. I mean, my parents are dead, my brother is basically dead to me, I literally have no one.”
“Regrettably, I feel pretty much the same way at times, Sandor,” Sansa added sadly.

 

“Do you feel like getting out of here?” Sandor suggested after some minutes of finishing off their drinks.
“Sure, where do you want to go?”
“We could go back to the park or -”
“You could come back to mine,” Sansa suggested in a rush, not quite convinced that the words had actually left her lips.
Sandor’s eyes widened with surprise.
“Umm. Sure. If you want,” he mumbled.
Sansa stood from her seat and grabbed her bag, holding out her hand to Sandor.
“Yes, I do. Come on. I know Lady will be pleased to see you.”
He looked at her hand for a short moment and harrumphed before accepting it and pushing himself from his chair. As they exited the pub and headed out into the cool night air, Sandor wove his arm around her waist and drew her closer as they walked. She sighed and leaned into him as they sauntered slowly towards her house, relishing the warm press of their bodies against each other.

Chapter Text

If anyone had told Sandor that he would be spending the rest of the evening and late into the night rolling between very silken sheets with the most beautiful young woman in King’s Landing, he would have slapped them upside of the head and declared them from hell and back as a buggering fool. And yet, here he lay in her bedroom, the first rays of the morning sun slanting in through the window, her angelic face snuggled into the coarse dark hairs of his massive chest as her warm breath wisped against his skin. Sandor chuckled affectionately at the raspy purr, just short of a snore, that emanated from her slightly parted lips. He ran his fingers gently up and down her upper arm as she slept, relishing the velvety softness of her and marvelling that such perfection had, for even a short time, been gifted to him. He had no idea what he had done to deserve it, to deserve her, and didn’t doubt for a moment that, like everything else that had ever been good in his life, it would soon be snatched away from him.

 

Sansa stirred, her eyes fluttering open and her chin lifting to meet his gaze. He half expected her to look at him in the cold light of day and shrink away from him, regretting their sensual activities from the night before; hell, he would have expected to wake up to a cold and empty bed, if he were completely honest. But to his surprise and relief she seemed perfectly happy to find herself in his arms, simply smiling softly and humming in contentment before cuddling up to him even closer, playing with the hairs of his chest with her small fingers as one of her toned legs curled over his thigh. He felt an unexpected warmth blossoming deep inside his chest.
“Good morning, little bird,” he rumbled, hugging her close and kissing her chastely on the forehead.
“Good morning handsome,” she sighed, as her hand smoothed over his pec muscles and she stretched up to kiss him gently on the lips.
Sandor’s cock twitched, moving against the top of Sansa’s thigh causing her to giggle.
“It looks like someone else has woken up early,” she smirked, as she reached down to stroke his length with her fingers. He squeezed his eyes shut and groaned, his hips thrusting upwards to press his member firmly against her hand as she began to work him more earnestly.

 

Sandor moaned loudly as he felt his cock engorging; Sansa shimmied her body down his, her nipples scraping across his torso, her long fiery red tresses trailing across his hypersensitive skin. Spotting a drop of pre-cum on the head of his member she licked across the slit and then ran her tongue over her bottom lip as she stared intently at him, gauging his reaction.
“Sansa, fuck,” he moaned as he smoothed his hands through her hair.
Encouraged by his response she swirled her warm wet tongue over and around the ridge of the head while continuing to stroke him firmly with her hand, eventually taking him into her mouth and sucking as he moaned loudly. It took every inch of his willpower to still his hips so he didn’t thrust up into her mouth. She hummed and moaned in response to his sounds of arousal which sent a delightful sensation to his cock, the pressure in his balls intensifying. She was clearly enjoying this and well, of course, so was he. Sansa hollowed her cheeks and slipped her lips further down his shaft attempting to take as much of him in as she could but he knewthat he was well endowed and that she would not be able to do so. Not that it mattered. The skilful play of her tongue, the determined grasp of her small fingers around his cock that employed just enough pressure around him, and the play of her other hand that had now moved to fondle his balls, had him on the very edge of what he knew was going to be a powerful and very satisfying release. But more, so much more than all of this, was the emotional connection he felt with this extraordinary young woman. The very thought of it terrified him.

 

Before he lost all control, he moved his hands to the sides of her head and gently lifted her up and away from him. She searched his eyes in evident confusion as he positioned her body to straddle him; he sensed her advanced state of arousal when her warm wet sex made contact with his hard hot cock. They both moaned in unison as she rocked, slicking her moistened folds along him, his hands moving to massage the velvety skin of her plump rounded breasts. His thumbs grazed over her pebbled nipples as she rose up on her knees, held onto his cock and guided herself down gradually onto him with a sensual hiss. He groaned as he was progressively enveloped in her velvety sleeve, feeling her walls adjusting around him and the contraction of her muscled thighs around his. Once he was fully seated within her, she stilled above him, her brows knitted together in discomfort.
Sandor frowned in concern remembering that she had experienced some pain trying to accommodate his considerable girth and length the night before and that she was clearly struggling with the deeper penetration this current position afforded.
“Alright, Sansa?” he asked.
She did not reply straight away, instead breathing deeply and starting to move herself slowly, her discomfited facial expression gradually morphing into one of increasing pleasure.
“Yes, Oh Gods. Oh. It hurt a little at first, but now. Oh. You’re so big. It feels… so good,” she moaned as she began to move her body faster, her palms pushing down on his pecs, her head thrown back and her back arching, pushing her breasts firmly into his questing hands.

 

Sandor thrust his hips up in time with her, plunging even deeper as she gasped and cried out, her movements increasingly erratic as she neared her climax. Sansa’s face and chest were flushed deep pink and a light sheen of perspiration slicked her brow, fine strands of hair adhering there; her eyes were squeezed shut in ecstasy. Watching her in her sexual extremis, he didn’t know how much longer he could hold on. Trailing one of his hands down her torso and to the point where they were joined, he firmly circled her clit as she mewled loudly and slammed down onto him a couple more times before stiffening and crying out his name with a strangled sob. Her walls fluttered and clamped around his painfully thrumming cock; her thighs trembled and her arms shook with the intensity of her climax as the pressure in his balls reached breaking point. He grabbed at her waist and flipped her small body over until she lay on her back still gasping from her release. Bending her legs up towards her chest he thrust into her hard and fast; she cried and whimpered as he prolonged her orgasm while he brought himself right to the edge. With a few more deep thrusts and a loud deep groan his release overwhelmed him in a white blinding flash of pure pleasure that shot up from his balls and up his spine. His member pulsed as he flooded Sansa with his warm wet seed and collapsed to her side in exhaustion, his mouth planting sloppy open mouthed kisses at the crook of her neck as he hugged her close.
“Sandor,” she whispered, as she sniffled away tears. “That was…wow! I feel…Gods. You’re amazing. No one’s ever made me feel like that, ever.”
He brushed at her tears with the pad of his thumb and smiled at her tenderly. He blinked rapidly, dispelling a strange prickling watery sensation that he felt in the corner of his eyes.

 

How could he tell her that the only other times a woman had ever let him kiss her, touch her, fuck her, was when he paid them to do so? Even then, it was done perfunctorily as a mere business transaction, lacking any intimacy or passion. What she had given him last night and this morning was a gift beyond reckoning.
“Same little bird,” he responded, his voice low and soft. “You are so fucking beautiful when you come, you know that?”
Sansa flushed and bit shyly at her bottom lip. It amazed and delighted him that a woman who had proven to be quite uninhibited in bed still blushed like an innocent virgin at times and that she seemed to have no conception of how incredibly sexy she was.
“This is the best Name Day I’ve ever had. How did I get so lucky?” she asked, gently smoothing errant strands of his raven hair away from his sweat slicked face.
He rumbled low in his chest.
“I’m the one who is lucky here. How on earth someone like me ended up with someone like you, is anyone’s guess.”
Sansa leant on one elbow and regarded him with what looked like mild irritation.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, look at you. You’re stunning. Sublime. Me? I’m nothing but a mangy old dog that should have been put out of its misery years ago.”
Sansa gasped in indignation and glared at him. Even though he hardly knew her, he sensed that he was fucked and about to cop a big serve from her.

 

“Sandor Clegane! You listen to me and listen good! I don’t want to hear you ever speak of yourself like that again. You are a beautiful, beautiful man. You’re strong, sexy as hell, and your cock is a certified work of art.”
Sandor’s laugh boomed around the room at her unexpected obscenity but she wasn’t finished. Her grip on his forearm tightened as she fixed him with a steely and determined glare.
“You’re kind, sensitive and gentle. You’re everything a woman could want in a man. You’re perfect.”
“Okay, now I know you’ve gone fucking soft in the head,” he chuckled.
She shook her head in annoyance.
“I mean it, Sandor. In the short time I’ve known you, you’ve made me feel special and like I matter; that my pleasure and my feelings and my thoughts matter. That’s not something I’ve had a lot of from men in the past.”
Her voice resonated with a deep sadness. It was Sandor’s turn to shake his head.
“Then the men you went out with are fucking idiots. If they can’t see what they had then there must be something seriously wrong with them,” he grunted.

 

Sansa smiled fondly and cupped the ruined side of his face with her hand.
“That’s sweet. But I meant what I said. Do you remember when we first met in the park?
“How could I not?”
“You told me that if I saw you in proper lighting I’d run a mile?”
“I remember,” he nodded.
“Well, I’ve seen you. Completely. I’ve seen you inside and out. All of you. And I’m still here. And I’m not going anywhere,” she stated firmly as she leaned in and kissed him right on the corner of his mouth where the skin had melted and shifted all those years ago.
He sighed and hugged her tight momentarily lost for words as he felt a stinging in the corner of his eyes. He blinked furiously and buried his face in her hair kissing and nibbling gently at her neck as he thanked the old gods and the new for this completely unexpected and undeserved benefaction.