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The War of Southern Occupation

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Read Me First:  This story assumes a couple of things have not taken place, and actually diverges rather early form both the book and tv series.

  • Sandor Clegane does not come to Winterfell with Robert Baratheon, thus not knowing what Sansa looks like.
  • Sandor Clegane is higher up in military command for the Lannisters / Baratheons.
  • Sandor Clegane is a bad guy in this one….yeah I know. Maybe he will become sympathetic but honestly I haven’t thought that far ahead yet :-)
  • Sansa Stark never lived in King’s Landing, as her father would rather start a war with his old friend than become Hand of the King.

 

 

Prologue: To Fight From Within

 

Winterfell was burning, the embers and ash swirled around in the air making it difficult to breath. Everything was gone, everything was destroyed. So many had fought so bravely, but  It had ended in complete and utter disaster. Eddard Stark had lost the war against Robert Baratheon; they had lost the War of Southern Aggression. It had started simply enough, Ned Stark had refused to become the Hand of the King. He had refused to wed his eldest daughter Sansa to Robert’s eldest son Joffrey. Lord Stark’s refusal would hurt the pride of the King leading to an argument that would spiral out of control, that would lead to an invasion of their lands.

 

“We will all pay for the sins of our fathers.” Sansa muttered through her tears.

 

There was no way to contain her emotions or to heal the wounds inflicted on her as her home, Winterfell, was sacked by the southern armies. So Sansa did what she and her siblings had agreed they would do should the city fall, they would run. The tears were so thick in her eyes that she was bumping into trees and tangling her dress in the underbrush of the deep forest. It was the dead of night, the only illumination in the forest was the light cast by the great fires that now raged in the keep she had call home her whole life.

 

Sansa cursed the Southerners for breaking their peace, for following a King so easily wounded and so ready to jump into conflict. They had been ready to offer a diplomatic solution, been ready to pay in gold for their refusal of these offers. Robert Baratheon would have none of it.

Sansa wiped her eyes and looked for the clearing. She was five and ten, a woman flowered but still somehow in this moment she was in desperate need of her mother.

 

‘She’s dead.’ Sansa reminded herself, ‘She and father, Robb… ’ They were dead and she knew it. She had seen it with her own eyes.

 

‘The southern occupiers will pay for this.’ This was her vow to herself. Made while stumbling toward their predefined meeting ground. Sansa hoped against hope that at least some of her siblings had made it now as she had.

 

“Sansa?” The voice came from the clearing, she turned to see her half brother Jon waiting for her there. Covered in blood but seemingly in good health. At his side Arya, her last surviving family members. It pained her to know she had lost so much--it angered her too.

 

Hugging them both at the same time Sansa cried even more, heaving and weeping for happiness, sadness, and loss. Everything had happened at once, it was overwhelming, debilitating and physically exhausting.

 

“Listen to me.” Jon said to her, “If we want any chance of making it through this we need to split up. We need to scatter to the winds to have any hope of coming back stronger.”

 

They all agreed, nodding their heads in silence.

 

“Good.” Jon continued. “I’ll head to the Wall, see if I can round up support from the Crows and the Wildlings.  Surely there must be some support for us amongst the Wildling tribes. But it will take time to bring them to our side.”

 

Sansa nodded, rubbing the snot from her nose.

 

“I’ll go to Essos,” Arya offered, “Father had some connections in the free cities there, and perhaps I can also train and garner support for our cause.”

 

Jon nodded in acceptance. Arya was young but she had always been able to fend for herself. Then all eyes were on Sansa.

 

Honestly, she wasn’t sure what she would do. Sansa had trained to be a lady, not a warrior. She had trained to run a household and a keep, not to live on the run from an army. This war had destroyed everything, turned her world upside down, chewed it up, and spit it back out again.

 

Then it hit her, “I’ll stay here.” She said, to the shock of her siblings.

 

Sansa continued, “Most everybody in the castle has been murdered. So no one will know who I am.  I will take refuge amongst the people, live under the occupation and...and keep the people ripe for rebellion.” She looked at Jon, “Keep support for you when you come back.”

 

Jon took her by the shoulders, “Are you sure about this? The Southern Dogs will punish the population. I can’t even think about the crimes that will ensue once they take over in full.”

 

“Yes.” She said, not afraid of what was to come. “They will never suspect a woman. I will be patient Jon.  I will lead a war of sabotage, make it difficult for them to rule the North. They must pay for what they have done, and sowing the seeds of rebellion is the first logical step.”

 

Jon understood, Arya too. “Then the best of luck to you my sisters. If you need to send me word, do it via the traveling Crow, the one who picks up the men for the Wall.”

 

Sansa nodded.

 

They kissed one another and held each other one last time.

 

When they left, Sansa cast out any finery or riches she had on her, throwing them into a nearby river. She closed her eyes, taking a single deep breath and pushing it out again. She would become Magda, she would learn to work the land, and she would use all of her knowledge of organization and politics to mount a guerrilla offensive against the southern occupiers.

 

“The North remembers.” She declared out loud, knowing that vengeance would be a long fought battle in and of itself.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 1: Guerrilla Warfare

 

3 Years Later…

 

The southern occupation had been harsh on all the people of the North, particularly those in Winterfell. Sansa’s family home was now the center of Southern power in the region, where the inept governor Mace Tyrell indulged his love of food and wine. His taxes were high, forcing the farmers close to starvation, storing the fruits of their labor in graineries for his troops and no one else. People were hungry, people were dying. It broke Sansa’s heart.

 

The complaints of the people were listened to of course, but nothing was ever done. The King, now Robert Baratheon’s son Joffrey, wanted to bring the region onside, wanted it to love him they way the South loved him. But these were empty words and empty promises, said by a King who spent more time looking in the mirror than he did governing. It showed how futile the whole exercise was, how ridiculous the thought of occupation of the vast North truly was. It fueled the kind of hatred in the people Sansa needed to make her revenge. It made her promise to Jon easier to hold than she had expected.

 

Furthermore, Northerners were second class citizens in their own region. They were not allowed to hold office or take up arms, even police their own people. The northern folk outnumbered the foreign soldiers ten to one, and yet they were continually harassed, raped, made to work harder and longer in the field to produce more food for the vast feasts of the governor. It had made the people ripe for rebellion, ready to put up small bits of resistance that would eventually grow into more. It was how Sansa had predicted just a few years before as she spoke to Jon and Arya in the forest clearing. All of her planning and preparation had lead up to this point.

 

It had taken her two and a half years to establish herself, find people she could trust and have them train. Then, six months ago,  a farmer was hanged for not paying his taxes. The region went into an uproar and major acts of resistance, together with those partisans ready to free themselves from the occupation began. Magda, had seen the perfect opportunity to encourage the people to fight back and took it.

 

“Come on Magda, we need to leave. Or old Tyrell is going to find us and string us up.” Came Gendry’s voice from the darkness.

 

The grainery had a sort of twisted beauty while on fire, the colors of red, orange and yellow so brilliant against the night sky. It reminded Sansa of Winterfell the night it was sacked, of the light that had lead her through the forest to her siblings. She had been reborn in that light, her whole purpose in life changed in the blink of an eye and with the lighting of a match.

 

Now Sansa was smiling, knowing that they were cutting off the food supply of the occupiers, knowing that they were pushing the governor to his limits. Fraying the occupation at its edges.

 

This was not the first act of sabotage they had done, but it was probably the biggest. Sansa and Gendry had started out small, destroying wagons and picking off soldiers who wandered too far into the countryside alone. Picking off the weakest or the most troubling individuals, winning the affections of the people. Nobody knew who they were, of course, but the idea of having partisans ready to fight the southern power was an idea that quickly caught on.

 

“You’re right.” She said, clapping her comrad on the shoulder and turning to run through the forest with him..

 

They were both orphans of the war, had both lost much. Gendry was a good man, strong and had a good sense of morality. He wanted to fight, and he had been the first person Sansa had trusted, as Magda of course, to take up the cause. Other men would follow him, they trusted him and trained with him. Along with many Northern customs and their religion, weapons were forbidden. So Gendry taught the men how to use farm implements, pitch forks, well cranks, whips, just about anything they could get their hands on to fight with. Sansa and the other women who supported this rebellion had even trained with the men, having found the need to fight off southern soldiers early on. They were a small, but well coordinated group of people, working under the cover of darkness.

 

The most important aspect of the whole rebellion was that Sansa’s true identity remain anonymous. She feared the day she might bump into a noble person that they would recognize her. This was the reason she stayed away from the castle as best she could, why she lived in the countryside surrounding Winterfell and not in it. The less attention she attracted the better. The last three years had been good to her and Sansa knew she was beautiful, knew that it attracted unwanted attention. But she also knew how to use her looks to get what she wanted. A smile could give her an extra piece of bread, a laugh a useful allie, a wink could loosen a drunken soldier’s tongue, bringing much needed information to the surface. Yes, she used her wiles in every way possible to cultivate support, bring her countrymen to her side and get information they would need for sabotage.

 

She had also learned how to work on the farm, it had been a challenging and eye opening experience for the former high-born lady. If anything it helped her understand the sacrifices her people made on a daily basis to produce food and to eat.  It brought her closer to them, made her one of them in a way her privileged life had never offered. Sansa had even improved her Northern accent over the years, able to sound like a peasant or a lady depending on her audience. There was no doubt her deception was going well, but as for Jon she could not be so sure how well he was doing. What word she had received from him had been cryptic and unclear. The Wildlings were notoriously difficult to band together and even more difficult to train. Sansa hoped that, at some point, he would raise an army. However, she was coming the realization that it might be further off than she had hoped.

 

A few weeks after the destruction of the grainery there was a murmur catching like wildfire through the countryside. So much so, that it had reached her on the small farm she helped keep up with other orphaned young people. Curious, Sansa took some milk and cheese she had to sell in a little basket and made her way to Winterfell to see for herself. She made sure to pull her travel cloak close to her, pulling her hood as far down over her hair and face as possible. She needed information, she needed to know if the destruction of their crops, sabotage of their roads and soldier killings had made it to King’s Landing. As she approached Winterfell she saw the common folk on either side of the King’s Road, lined up as if they were expecting a procession.

 

‘Strange.’ she thought to herself, walking up to an older lady with a leatherface worn by the sun.

 

“What’s going on, Nana?” She asked the lady, looking over the heads of the people in front of her. Nana was a northern term of endearment, a sign of respect.

 

“Governor Tyrell is getting kicked out of the castle.” The old lady said, then lowered her voice to a whisper, “He was such a tosser.”

 

Sansa laughed and whispered back, “Yes he was.”

 

“But I hear they’re gonna replace him.” The old woman said, “With the Hound.”

 

Sansa’s blood ran colder than a deep winter’s night at the old woman’s assertion. The Hound was Joffrey Baratheon’s most feared military commander. Known for his cruelty and inventive punishments, the Hound was only brought in when a population needed to be put into submission.  He would be unyielding and rule with an iron fist, submission through tyranny. If the near genocide of Dorne had been any indication of how hard he could be, Sansa knew she needed to keep her wits about her.

 

Whispers went through the crowd and Sansa turned her head down the road, the convoy was arriving. The Hound was approaching with his army and she couldn’t suppress this sinking feeling in her stomach. Sansa pulled the hood of her travel cloak over her head to cover her face subconsciously, a nervous habit.

 

She looked out of the corner of her eye as he approached, he was at the head of the convoy and probably the biggest man she had ever seen. His mean looking black charger was imposing, and gave one the impression that it might just breathe fire. Atop his horse, the Hound towered over all the peasants who had gathered to see him for themselves. He was an oddity, a monster among men and his reputation had proceeded him. The scowls on the faces of the people and the fear that permeated the gathering made it clear that this was It certainly not a gathering to welcome him with open arms.

 

Sansa observed him more closely, her blue eyes scanning his enormous form, taking stock of him. This was a skill that Sansa had, one that she prided herself on, sizing up a person. The Hound, however, was almost unreadable, save a few small things. His armor was not like that of Mace Tyrell’s, something shiny and used for show. It was battle worn, dented, stained with the blood of his enemies. His dog’s head helmut hung on his saddle, swinging in the air and scaring some of the younger children. It showed him to be a warrior, a leader who took his place in the vanguard and not in the back. This would almost certainly mean his soldiers would be a thousand times more loyal to him than to Mace Tyrell.

 

His face was certainly the next point of interest. Joffrey’s Hound had built up quite the reputation over the years for being brutal over the years, even before the fall of Winterfell. If there was one thing that always came with these stories it was how much of a ruin his face was. He had been burned as a young lad, though just how was something of legend. Be that as it may, that was certainly the reason many of the peasants had gathered today, to see if he really did look as bad as they had heard and to speculate how in the taverns and over dinner.  Sansa didn’t find him so terribly ugly, clearly his injuries were a source of intimidation even building up this ‘invincible warrior’ mythology that surrounded the Hound.

 

The final thing that jumped out at Sansa was the fact that he looked straight ahead, as if the people on the road didn’t exist. She wondered if this meant that the people had no value in his eyes or if he was afraid of them. ‘Tyrants suppress so strongly because they are afraid of the will of the people.’   Fear is a dangerous thing though, something to be handled with care and approached with caution.

 

‘If we can break him, then perhaps we are one step closer to freedom.’ Sansa could only hope this, and hope that Jon would soon send word with some positive developments.

 

The procession passed, filled with the Hound’s elite soldiers and Sansa knew her people would suffer. These men were not like Mace Tyrell’s, they would not waste their time asking the people or trying to reason with them when something was amiss. They would just make an example out of them and move on. The very thought of this sent a shiver down Sansa’s spine.

 

She glared into the Hound’s back as he reached the gates of Winterfell, what she still considered as her home. ‘ He has no right to be there, no right to use it to destroy and torture my people.’

 

Packing up her goods back into her basket, Sansa hurried back to the farm. She would have to tell Gendry about what she saw here, and they would have to lay low for the time being. Sansa wanted many things, and would sacrifice to get what she wanted. But she did not want to incur the wrath of the Hound, at least not yet.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: Sowing the Seeds of Revenge

 

In the cellar of their small farmhouse Sansa and Gendry were doing their best to form a plan. A single candle provided just enough light for them and their small group of followers to see each other’s faces and no more.

 

“So the Southern Dogs are running scared?” Gendry said, looking Sansa in the eye.

 

“I don’t know if they are scared so much as desperate to reign in order.” Sansa replied, looking around the room.

 

She didn’t want anybody to lose their nerve, if all she had heard about the Hound was correct, he would kill and torture a people until they had no will left in them.

 

“Some of us have families.” One of the men piped up, “Mayhaps we don’t want to put them in danger too.”

 

This was exactly what Sansa was worried about, exactly what she didn’t want to happen.

 

“We certainly have to be more careful than we have been in the past Joris, but to give in now would be to admit defeat before the war has even begun.” She answered.

 

“But can we even be sure the King in the North will return?” A lady asked, “I don’t want to be fighting a war for nothing.”

 

Sansa’s hands clenched into fists under the table, she needed a moment to think. It had been some time since she had had communication with Jon, she couldn’t say exactly how close he was to coming back. She didn’t even know if he was alive still.

That was when Gendry cut in, “You would wait for these men to steal more of your crops? Rape your wives and daughters? Even if the King in the North never returns it is better we fight.”

 

Sansa continued, “A foreign ruler cannot be the norm. We must let them know that they cannot squeeze us without paying the consequences.”

 

That got a lot of support, hands slapping on the table in approval.

 

“We must be organized and our message must be clear.” Sansa said. “We will leave a piece of parchment when we do our deeds against our oppressors, and we’ll leave these.”

 

She showed a piece of parchment with a handprint on it, it was a northern symbol of defiance. There was a nod of approval from everybody around the table.

 

Sansa went to sleep that night, her direction clear, her heart at ease. ‘ The North remembers.’

 


 

 

The Hound’s reign of terror began almost immediately upon his arrival, and the common folk were not prepared. Men, women and children suspected of being partisans were executed without trial. Their bodies left to decorate Winterfell. Some were her friends, some she didn’t know, but all their sacrifices moved her in the same way. Her people were a brave and proud people, nobody argued, nobody plead for their lives, they died with dignity and honor. It brought a tear to Sansa’s eye just thinking about it. He was sowing the seeds of revenge in the North. Everyone was suspect, everyone was scared.

 

Except for Sansa Stark, she wasn’t scared, she was angry. She was not blind to the fact that her and her follower’s acts of resistance would bring with it suppression from their Southern overlords, she had even expected it. This, however, had been far more than she had bargained for. The only positive consequence was an increase in willingness to join the partisans. With this new found support, she decided to hit the Hound as hard as she could.

 

Tonight they would attack two farmhouses, two farmhouses resettled by Southern farmers. The Hound had begun to bring settlers to the northern territories, families loyal to him and his King. It was a stroke of genius, Sansa couldn’t deny that. With some intermarriage and some generations, the common folk would slowly settle. They would forget the King in the North. It was an attempt to dilute the population, to decrease the will of the her homeland. The partisans would need to nip this in the bud, immediately.

 

Gendry, Sansa and their supporters had never threatened civilians before, always hit places and infrastructure even soldiers, so this would be new. Tonight they would play with the lines of ethics and morality in order to win back their homeland. Sansa couldn’t say that it didn’t bother her, pain her even to terrorize these people, but she remained steadfast in her belief that this had to be done if they were to win.

 

The partisans waited until the dead of night, dressed in black with their faces covered as they went about their business. Sansa nodded to her comrades from her hiding place in the woods. Each of them had a job to do tonight, each of them knew what was expected of them. The men broke into the house, pulling the family out and began to beat them, leaving the children to watch their parents beg for mercy.

 

She addressed the scared family as their house was raided and set on fire. “Do you know who lived in this house before you? Do you know who tilled this field before you were brought here to take it over?”

 

Their silence allowed for Sansa to continue, “The McAllisters ran this farm and they were butchered during the war. Murdered in the war your King started, and over what? Nothing. And if they cannot have this land, then nobody can.”

 

The was scared, all members weeping uncontrollably, the husband and two older boys battered and broken. “Run back to where you came from and tell them of what has happened here. Tell them to never come back.”

 

The family fled, taking a few small possessions and running into the night. Sansa and her partisans would burn the crops and salt the fields. It would be the biggest ‘fuck you’ one could give to the new governor. It would hit the Hound were it hurt, loyal farms eager to support his army would now be too scared to do it. They were escalating their cycle of violence and Sansa hoped it was the means to an end.

 

“Let’s move on Magda.” Gendry said to her, taking her by the shoulder and moving her from her thoughts.

 

Sansa nodded, knowing they had more work to do this night. She left some parchment pieces with the hand impression there, so there would be no doubt who had done this and why.

 


 

The next morning Sansa took her basket and went to the market in Winterfell, her travel cloak pulled around her it’s hood heavy on her head. She needed to assess the mood of the occupiers, see what was being said by the people. Their acts had certainly not gone unnoticed, but would they be seen as done with the people in mind? Or as acts of terror?

 

Sansa was extremely sensitive to the idea that if the proper information was not disseminated amongst the people, then their rebellion could be seen as acts against the common folk, not against the pillars of their Southern oppressors.  She made her way through the market, her eyes and ears open. There were soldiers everywhere, walking through the market their gaze weighing her down. They were on higher alert than usual, a sign that their campaign was working.

 

Some women were speaking near a vegetable stands, Sansa neared them, “Did you smell the fires last night?” One asked.

 

“Yes they were terrible. We don’t have enough food as it is, and now we’re burning everything.” the second woman whispered, sure not to arouse the suspicion of the soldiers in the crowd.

 

“I heard the family wasn’t from here. That they were helping the soldiers.” Sansa chimed in, whispering as well as she looked at some potatoes.

 

One woman was surprised, the other simply nodded. “But where will it end?” The first woman asked Sansa.

 

“When the Starks return.” Sansa said, looking around to make sure they were not being watched.

 

The women breathed uneasily at Sansa’s words, then one of them spoke. “How can we be so sure they’ll even come back? I haven’t seen hide nor hair of a Stark since the King took control of these lands.”

 

“The North remembers.” Sansa said to them, “Don’t forget that. The Starks will return.”

 

The women smiled and nodded at the name of their old ruling family. It was a positive sign, at least the people were still loyal to this idea.

 

Then they were suddenly silent as a black courser approached, the Hound was going through the market. Intimidating the people, on the lookout for saboteurs most certainly. So caught off guard, she didn’t have time to pull her long red braid back into her hood. Looking up inadvertently Sansa’s eyes met his and she narrowed them. She was unafraid, knowing it would be hard to cover her contempt for him, but also knowing just this look could get her beaten, or killed.

 

His eyes were unflinching, there was a coldness about them that Sansa could not place. Again she found herself unable to discern any human emotion from his eyes, which only made her more steadfast in her decision to glare at him. If looks could have killed, he would have been dead several times over.

 

“My Lord, there are the furs we were discussing.” A man’s voice came from a second horse, he was clearly addressing the Hound. He held her gaze a few beats more before turning the the man.

 

Sansa took the opportunity to leave, pulling her braid into her hood and moving with the crowd. It would not do to draw his attention or even his eire at this stage. A cautious girl would have kept her eyes down, would not have looked at him. But Sansa’s patience was running thin and she found herself becoming less and less patient.

 

Taking a quick glance over her shoulder, she could see his eye scanning the crowd perched high atop his enormous war horse. He was looking for her. Sansa swallowed but kept her pace even and her eyes open for a hiding spot. She could hear the hooves of this horse hitting the ground in a relaxed walk, as if he were not bothered to find her quickly. Eyeing a bakery Sansa slipped inside, rushing behind the counter and moving toward the ovens in the back. Holding her index finger to her lips, she silenced the young boy who was watching the shop for his father. Sansa sat under a small window on the ground, her knees drawn up.

 

She could hear the horse hooves moving in the dirt, the horse snorting in the cool air just outside of the window. It stopped there, not moving further. Sansa didn’t dare breath, she didn’t dare make a move for fear the Hound was looking into the window trying to find her.

 

‘He’s not moving.’ Was the only thing on her mind, ‘He’s not moving.’

 

She felt like she would pass out, like she would faint from lack of air, so strong was her need to not make a sound. Then finally the horse moved on taking his master with him.

 

Sansa breathed a sigh of relief. She had lived to fight another day.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: An Unlikely Opportunity



It was when the neighboring farm began to burn, that Sansa knew the Hound has come to teach the farmers a lesson. It only stood to reason that a farmer would have burned and destroyed the southern occupied farms, you didn’t need to be an investigative genius to see that. So they picked out a couple of farms at random to terrorize, to make examples of them.

 

The smell of burning wood and hay was overwhelming, screams permeated the air as both Gendry and Sansa ran outside of the farmhouse they shared with friends to see what was going on.

 

“I’ll release the horses, you get everybody else out of the house.” Sansa ordered. He nodded and ran back to the house. It would do no good to die now, to have invested so much time into their resistance and make it all for nothing. They would flee their home, giving the Hound’s soldiers nothing to terrorize except pigs and sheep.

 

The barn wasn’t close to the rest of the house, in fact it was about a quarter of a mile down the road in the direction of her neighbor’s burning farmhouse. Sansa was swift and she knew she needed to be on the lookout for soldiers. The horses were panicking, their shrill cries audible from outside the barn, it would be dangerous in and of itself to go in there and release them. Sansa steeled herself and opened up the large barn doors, using all the strength she could muster. The sight of the flames incited the horses move, their nostrils flaring their hooves flying wildly through the air.

 

Sansa ran to the stalls and started opening the doors, yelling and motioning for the sacred beasts to run. They would return once the danger was over, but for now they were better served to run.

 

“Go! Go!” She screamed, smacking a particularly stubborn mare on the hindquarters. The horse snorted, but eventually got over its fear of the flames and the smell of burning. Sansa took a moment breath, she leaned back on one of the stall walls and pulled her hair away from her face.

 

Suddenly there was a sound in the barn, not the creek of a door in the wind, or a stubborn horse unwilling to run, but of something else. Sansa did her best to stay calm, taking the pitchfork from the ground in the stall and holding it as a weapon in her hands.

 

“Gendry?” She called out tentatively.

 

Her mouth went dry when no answer came. Somebody was in the barn, and it wasn’t Gendry. Sansa inhaled then rounded the corner of the stall she was in, there was movement and she struck out with the wooden handle of the pitchfork.

 

Whoever it was, she had hit him in the head, hard. Her training kicked in then, advancing toward her target, she hit him twice in the body, again in the head then flipped the pitchfork and ran the man through, leaving a bloody hole in his stomach. Sansa was breathing hard, as the man dropped to his knees in front of her, blood coming out of his mouth. She recognized his uniform. He was not just any soldier, he belonged to the Hound.

 

Sansa gasped, but then she was seized from behind by two powerful arms. “You little bitch, you’ll pay for that.”

 

Another soldier had her in a bear hug, and she struggled as best she could kicking and wiggling against his strength. Then, realizing she was almost at the same height as her attacker, she threw her head back as hard as she could, connecting with the man’s nose breaking it with a sickening crack. It had the desired effect because he immediately let go of her, his hands flying to his face. Sprawled on the floor, she picked herself up and ran back toward the pitchfork, but he was behind her, she could feel he was close. Grabbing the farm tool she fell on the ground and pointed it at her attacker, he ran himself through, a look of shock on his face. Finishing the job Sansa pushed the farm tool toward him, having the soldier fall over, pinning him to the ground. She spat on him then, taking a moment to observe him in his suffering.

 

“Well well, what do we have here?” Came a deep voice from the open barn door.

 

Sansa turned to look at the man, feeling her knees weaken at the sight of the Hound. His tall muscular form hung in the door frame, casually putting his sword back in it’s sheath, not at all intimidated by the scene before him. He leaned relaxed on the door frame, crossing his large arms across his even larger chest. Sansa uncoupled the pitchfork from the dying soldier and held it up toward her new threat.

 

“It looks like we have a little killer.” The Hound’s smile made her uneasy, it was the leer of the devil, something that didn’t make you sleep easy at night.

 

“You stay away from me.” Sansa countered, mustering all the courage she had. It didn’t cover up her shaking, but she hoped in the darkness he couldn’t see it.

 

The big man blocking her way out, held up his hands in mock surrender, grinning even wider at her. The fire from the other farm lit up his face, showing her its burnt side. Sansa did not to flinch at its sight, knowing it was what he expected.

 

“Unfortunately killing these men is considered a crime. A crime against the King, and…” he seemed to pause for effect, “...a crime against me.”

 

Sansa gripped the pitchfork tighter, gritting her teeth hard.

 

“What’s your name, little bird?” He was standing upright now, his arms still crossed in front of his chest. He was huge, towering over her, a mass of flesh and bone sculpted into the perfect warrior.

 

Sansa glared at him. “Magda.”

 

“I’m in a little dilemma here Magda. You see...you killed two of my men. The punishment for that is death...but…” He put his hands in his pockets and began to walk in her direction, as if she were not threatening him with a pitchfork at all.  “...it would be a crime in and of itself to put a pretty thing like you to death.”

 

Sansa swallowed, knowing instinctively what he would say next. She watched his grey eyes pass over her body, making her stomach turn.

 

“So I’ll give you two options. You put your weapon down and come back to the castle with me...willingly. You’ll get a job in the kitchen by day, warm my bed by night and I promise that if you are good to me girl, I’ll be good to you.” He was studying her face, trying to see if she was swayed, Sansa did her best to look impassive.

 

“Or you can fight me, I’ll win, have my way with you and cut you down where you stand.” Her foe had a self satisfied grin on his face, one that made her uneasy.

 

She didn’t want to die, not when she had so much more to do. Sansa considered her options, considered what she was willing to endure to take back her homeland. It was clear that he thought her a farm girl, a peasant unable to read or write.

 

‘They always underestimate peasants, and women.’ Her mind was racing.

 

It was the way he was studying her that peaked the most interest in Sansa’s mind, however. She was curious to him, that much was clear from this tone and his words. Perhaps even intriguing.

 

‘The closer I am to him the more I’ll know about what he’s doing…’ her deviant thoughts ran through her head with lightning speed. ‘Gendry comes to the castle every Thursday to repair weapons...what better way to get information than that?’

 

Of all the games to play, sleeping with the enemy was by far the most dangerous, and possibly the most rewarding. It affordered Sansa certain access she wouldn’t have normally had, but it put her at his mercy, made her less anonymous to him and his men. On top of that she had lost the element of surprise with him, he’d clearly observed what she had done to his men, knew she would not waiver to kill a man.

 

‘I’ll kill him when the time is right. ’ She decided. ‘ Or die trying.’

 

“You don’t mind to share your bed with a killer?” She asked, looking him in the eye. She said these words as defiantly as she could, a slight hope she could sway him to change his mind.

 

The Hound chuckled, taking a few steps toward her, allowing the bloody end of the pitchfork to rest on his chest. It was almost as if he was daring her to kill him.

 

“If I can be honest with you Magda, I kinda like it.” He flashed her a devilish grin. “The blood on your hands, the droplets on your face, the way your dress has been ripped, exposing the curve of your collarbone. It gets me hard.” His attention to detail didn’t go unnoticed, nor the sound of arousal in his voice.

 

The Hound continued, “I am many horrible things, but I am a man of my word. If you’re good to me, I’ll treat you well. If you whelp for me…” His eyes ran over her body, hungry. Then he ran his fingers through his hair in a nervous almost boyish sort of way, “...I’ll even give you my name.”

 

‘He likes me.’ Sansa thought, ‘He likes a fighter. And he wants me to like him too.’

 

It was not uncommon for soldiers to take local wives, but it was much less common for commanders to do so. This either indicated that he intended to stay there awhile, or he had taken a particular fancy to her. Sansa knew she could capitalize on this, but needed to endure certain unpleasantries in order to fully understand how. The unknown excited her, and scared her all at the same time.

 

Sansa looked him over again, asking herself if she could not only endure him, but eventually conquer him. She would never achieve this feat physically, but emotionally or psychologically perhaps. He was strong and powerful, a killer for sure, but also a brilliant tactician.  

 

‘Can I outsmart the Hound?’ The thought was alluring, intoxicating actually. It would be a game of chess fought on multiple fronts.

 

The decision was made, Sansa dropped the pitchfork to the ground. The clang it made ringing loud in her ears.

 

The Hound grinned, pleased with her answer.

 

In an odd display of chivalry, her opponent removed his cloak and with a flourish wrapped it around her shoulders to keep her warm. Sansa walked out of the barn with him, a clenching in her chest. They approached his horse and the Hound got down on one knee next to it, offering his hands as a way to vault her up into the saddle. He looked like the happiest man on the planet as she put her foot on him and he brought her to sit in the saddle of his massive war horse. She felt him settle into the saddle behind her, grabbing the reins and pulling her close.

 

Her captor smelled her hair, then whispered in her ear, “Mmmmm kissed by fire, just like me.”

 

He laughed at his own joke. Then he spurred his horse, “Hup Stranger.”

 

As they rode off into the night, Sansa checked the edge of the forest knowing Gendry would be watching from there. Not knowing if he could see her or not, she made a hand motion low, where the Hound could not see. It meant, ‘take it easy.’ It meant ‘don’t risk yourself now.’ It was a plea not to attack the Hound.

 

Sansa steeled herself for the journey she was about to embark on. It was an unlikely opportunity that had been thrust upon her. She had cast her die and hoped her gamble would pay off.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4:  Shades of Grey

 

A strange feeling coursed through Sansa’s body as they entered the gates of her former home. Once ravaged by fire, she could see it had been repaired and that life flourished there, even at this time of night. But Winterfell was different, there was no joy in its walls, no laughing in the courtyard, it had been turned into a military camp full of foreign soldiers. The soldiers looked at her pressed against their leader’s chest. She glared at them defiantly, not willing to show the southern pigs any fear.

 

In the center courtyard, where her brothers had so often trained together, the Hound dismounted his horse and held up his hands to help her down from his horse. Sansa brought both her legs to the his side of the horse, grabbed his large shoulders and allowed herself to be lifted off of Stranger. The Hound dragged her down his body, the studs of his leather armor catching the woolen fabric of her simple dress. He set her gently on the ground. Smiling, her captor motioned her toward the main tower of the castle, a large hand on the small of her back.

 

The castle was much like she remembered it and this gave Sansa a sense of strength as the Hound took her by the hand and lead her to his quarters. It was her parents’ room, her parents’ bed not his. Anger bubbled under the surface as she crossed the threshold.

 

At least the room was tidy, clean even. ‘The consummate military man. ’ Sansa observed, looking around to see what had been taken and what still existed from happier times.

 

There was a large desk in the corner near a window with papers all over it and a large map of the northern territories behind it. This part was new, otherwise the bed was in the same place, the chair near the fire too. Sansa fought back tears and her memories, as she slowly walked around the room.

 

“What’s your name, my Lord?” She found herself asking, feeling it best to swallow her anger and build a connection between them. His chivalry giving her the impression he would rather keep her than discard her.

 

He chuckled at her question, “Sandor Clegane.” Was his simple answer. He eyed her a moment, then went back to what he was doing.

 

Sandor took his sword belt off and sat in her mother’s old chair near the fire. It was dark, the night already well advanced by the time they arrived at the castle.

 

“Take off your clothes and come here, I want to look at you.” He ordered, unusually relaxed as he leaned back in the chair.

 

Without knowing why Sansa turned around, her back facing him and she removed her clothes slowly.

 

“Your small clothes too.” He added, amusement in his voice at her vain attempt at modesty.

 

Inhaling deeply, she pulled her small clothes over her hips, her shift over her head, then turned to face him. She had done her best to drape her long hair in front of her, covering her breasts as best she could. It didn’t seem to dampen his impression of her, the Hound was grinning from ear to ear motioning her to come to him.

 

Sansa’s legs felt like they were made out of lead as she made her way to him. Eventually she sat on one of his thighs, her legs between his. She still had blood on her hands, still smelled like the farm where he had found her. But the Hound didn’t seem to mind as he ran a hand over her body, his course fingertips drawing lines on her soft skin. She couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking as his eyes flashed over her features, dropping below her neck, then between her legs. He leaned his lips toward her neck and began to kiss her there. His were warm against the biting cold of the room, gentle in contrast the roughness of his leather armor touching her skin.

 

“I never saw such a pretty redheaded northern girl. Where are you from?” His voice grumbled into her throat as he spoke.

 

It was hard to speak, she was so stiff in his arms, fighting her instinct to flee. “I...uh...I...my father was a raider from the Riverlands. Stealing women, like you.”

 

Sandor looked at her a moment, as if he were searching her features for something again. Then he laughed loudly pulling her naked body closer to him, smelling her skin. “Stealing women like me.” He repeated, as if there was some sort of funny ring to it.

 

“So why are you here and not in the Riverlands?” He was kissing up her neck toward her ear, pushing her long hair out of his way.

 

“She fought back.” Sansa lied, hoping her words would shield her from his advances. Give him call to reconsider. Sandor did stop a moment, looking her straight in the eye a long while, it unnerved Sansa.

 

Then he spoke again, “You’re gonna try to kill me the first chance you get, aren't you?” His voice was calm and even playful.

 

“Yes.” She whispered, seeing no point in lying to him.

 

A growl formed in his throat as he smiled, took her hand and brought it between his legs. “You see what that does to me girl?”

 

His manhood was rock solid, just like the rest of him. Huge and hard, Sansa gasped at the feel of it. Surprised by his size and what it clearly meant.

 

He moved to kiss her neck again when the door to his quarters swung open without warning, his lieutenant rushing in.

 

Sandor pulled his naked prize possessively to him, hiding her nudity from the other man’s eyes.

 

“Don’t you know how to fucking knock?” The Hound’s voice was immediately filled with anger. A murderous look in his eye.

 

“My Lord forgive me but…” The man was afraid of him, stammering as he spoke, “...saboteurs it’s the barracks. The Barracks is on fire.”

 

“Fuck.” Was the first word to escape Sandor’s lips.  “Get my horse ready, and gather the men. Then we hunt those bastards down and hang them.”

 

His lieutenant bowed and scuttled out as quickly as he came in.

 

“And you,” Sandor said, turning his eyes back to Sansa. “Stay like this and get in bed little killer, I’ll tend to you when I return.”

 

He pushed her toward her parents’ bed, grabbed his sword belt and rushed out the door, slamming it behind him.

 

Still nude, Sansa closed her eyes and waited longer than she needed to in order to make sure he was gone. The castle was silent, save the men yelling and screaming to put out the barracks fire. She knew Gendry was behind it.

 

‘Good.’ She thought. She’d see him soon enough. ‘ Enjoy that sinking feeling of no control.’

 

Nobody knew the castle better than Sansa Stark, and she planned to use that knowledge to her advantage. There were some things to check in this room and Sansa moved quickly to do so. She walked to a back wall, where she knew a secret passage to be and felt at the joint of the floor and the wall. It lead out into the forest through a series of tunnels. There was the slight feeling of air moving though. She smiled.

 

‘Excellent.’ Here she would be able to hide or escape if necessary. The passage lead out into the forest, to safety.

 

Then she went to the desk, sat down in his chair and propped her feet up on the papers scattered across it. She looked around the room a moment, taking reveling in the feeling of being home. Then she began to look through the papers spread atop her father’s oak desk. It wasn’t long before a smile spread across her face.

 

‘He works from here, he gets his orders and writes his responses from here.’ A sense of triumph spread through her body. ‘Maybe this isn’t all for naught.’

 

There was one document of particular interest, one from Mace Tyrell informing Sandor of his progress in finding the Stark children. ‘Three are dead, their bodies interred below the castle. Jon Snow has gone North, but to where I cannot say. Arya Stark has fled across the narrow sea, outside of our reach. Sansa Stark is missing and presumed dead.’

 

A laugh escaped her lips. ‘All this time and this was the best all the gold of Casterly Rock could come up with?’ Sansa was smug in her confidence.

 

She went through the other documents, orders, and ledgers, all the administrative paperwork one would need to run an army from the comfort of a stolen bedroom. Bringing her feet to the cold stone floor, still naked, she began to go through the drawers of the desk. There was a small leather bound book in the second drawer that drew her eye, though its plainness had not meant to draw any kind of attention. It was worn, thick and had a small buckle on it to keep it closed.

 

Sansa ran her fingers over the spine and over to the buckle. Gently she opened it, her curiosity overwhelming

 

‘A diary.’ She smiled.

 

It was not uncommon for military men to keep diaries, she knew this from her father. It helped them to track troop movements, remember losses and also to think out tactics in an unofficial way.  Some men even found it a mental release, a way to normalize the crimes they committed against the enemy. This was his private diary and it would give her incredible insight into the impenetrable fortress that was the Hound. Her hands shook with anticipation.

 

Sansa began to leaf through the book casually, the Hound’s neat handwriting covering the many pages there. Her eye was caught by a heading, ‘Going North.’ Stood out on the page. She read on, ‘I fucking hate going North. It’s cold, its harsh and the people are built of a different fiber than the King realizes. Robert Baratheon made a mistake taking it, opening a front that will last for as long as we occupy it. He should have just let it be. Given the bloody Starks their territory full of hovels and swallowed his pride. I will take no joy in this appointment, Governor of the North. In Dorne the people are poorly organized and lazy, in the North they are headstrong and deliberate in their actions. It does not surprise me that Tyrell couldn’t handle them. He’s a weak prick of a man who likes to get in his tin armor and play soldier. The only problem is I’m being handed a tainted territory, something that might never be truly winnable.’

 

She was surprised by his begrudging respect for her people, an honest account in his diary. There was no need lie here, no need to embellish the truth. Sansa flipped through some more pages, moving ahead in time and continued to read.

 

There are days I curse my forefathers for allying with the Lannisters. The resistance in the North is strong and my only orders are to squash it at any cost. What they don’t understand is that there may be nobody left to rule if I do so. The King learned nothing from Dorne and this will be my burden to bear, leaving their hands clean. Ever the dutiful commander I will do as I’ve always done, hold my tongue and follow orders. As much as I hate to admit it, if I could shake the hand of the leader of this Northern Resistance I’d make him my lieutenant, tactically he’s very good and inventive. Yet, I ask myself if a Stark is behind it.’

 

Sansa lifted an eyebrow in interest, ‘ The eldest boy is in the far North, this has been confirmed. He is a bastard, it’s hard to know if he could rule the North even if he tried. The tribes up North and are difficult to unite, they will be easy demoralize should the time come. The youngest girl is said to be in Essos, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. She was not good at covering her tracks as she left to go there, unaware of how many ears there are open for information in port towns. Not so smart if you ask me. That leaves the eldest girl, marked by Tyrell as missing. If she is alive she could be behind this, as I can’t imagine somebody mounting such a tireless campaign against a foreign ruler unless they had something to gain. But if she is here, under our noses, we cannot even be sure what she looks like. Robert Baratheon killed everybody in the castle before they could get a description of her. Now the accounts of her vary from brown haired and boyish, to red headed and feminine, and everything in between. There are no drawings of her either, another victim of the fire of Winterfell castle. I am hopeful to find a Maester’s description of her somewhere in this shithole they call a castle.’

 

There was no way to read these things and not develop an odd respect for the man. It gave Sansa a cold chill reading his words. There was no disputing from his personal accounts that he was more than a killer and a soldier, he was intelligent, and somehow a man himself. ‘And men are only human.’ She smiled feeling better about her choice. Perhaps he could be swayed, he did not seem fully committed to the Boy King.

 

Sansa needed to find the books from their library that might mention her or her family and destroy them. She would need to do it as soon as possible, this entry was only from three days prior. Unable to stop herself from prying into his personal thoughts, Sansa scanned through the final entry, until her heart stopped.

 

‘I saw a peasant woman in the market today, her hair as red as the sunset and it reminded me of home.’ Her mouth went dry, he was talking about her almost certainly. ‘ She made me reconsider ever giving up women, I am quite taken with her. A pretty face is one thing, but the way she looked at me was something else. She’s the epitome of fierce northern womanhood, unafraid of my scars, flashing me a look like she’d rather rip my beating heard from my chest than give me the time of day. No southern woman would dare defy me, look upon me as if she were my equal. I fear she may have stolen my heart with this look. Then she vanished into the crowd and I could not find her. Though, should I come across her again, I will offer her father gold and several horses, surly no peasant father could refuse such a bride price?’

 

She looked up for a second, her heart suddenly beating more quickly than she would have liked. This explained a lot, more than she was willing to admit. ‘What kind of a man are you?’ She asked herself, as she read the final bit.

 

‘Once I have her I will make her love me, using all of the advantages I have been gifted with. I can be a good man, I am not incapable of tenderness. With persistence she will grow fond of me, I’ll see to that. That is, of course, if she doesn’t kill me first.’

 

Smiling at his dry sense of humor, Sansa closed his diary and carefully put it back in its place. She was more confused now than she had been before about this man. Everything had been so black and white for so long, to see that there were shades of grey in this narrative made her feel uncomfortable. With a shiver she got into bed, feeling the cold furs on her nude body. They were soft and they reminded her of a life almost forgotten, a life still worth fighting for.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: The Seduction of an Enemy

 

Sansa couldn’t have said when sleep had taken her, only that she was woken up by the sound of the door opening to her room. She knew where she was and from the heavy sounds of the person’s footsteps and the characteristic dropping of a sword belt on the floor, she knew who was in the room with her.  Sansa did her best to act as though she were sleeping, her back to the door, slightly exposed through the sleeping furs to the chill of the night air.

 

She heard a flagon of wine being poured into a glass, then that glass consequently being emptied.

 

‘A long night?’ She wondered to herself, hoping that he would forget about her, or be too tired to make good on his earlier advances.

 

The sound of clothing russling and dropping to the cold stone floor, dampened Sansa’s hope for a reprieve. Then he stopped and there was a bit of silence. A soft moan escaped his lips after some moments, and she could hear movement.

 

‘He’s pleasuring himself at the edge of the bed.’  Sansa swallowed, trying so hard to stay as still as possible, afraid that any movement might make him pounce on her instantly.

 

Then the bed depressed on the open side, and her mouth went dry. The Hound’s large form slipped under the furs next to her. He pushed his hairy masculine chest flush against her back, pressing his erection between her legs and wrapped her up in his arms.

 

“My bed is so warm with you in it.” He whispered in her ear almost lovingly, she squirmed in his gentle and rather affectionate grasp. What surprised her was how familiar it felt, how natural it was. The written words from his diary ever present in her mind. ‘ He wants a lover, but he doesn’t expect it to be easy.’

 

“Please no.” She pleaded, as he turned her around to face him. Sansa pushed against his chest, resisting the warrior.

 

He gave her a shake and her eyes snapped to his. The Hound was not in a compromising mood, a flash of anger crossing his steel grey eyes.

 

“You remember our agreement?” Sandor looked at her, narrowing his eyes a bit. Then he began to kiss down her jawline, a hand moving from her breast to between her legs.

 

Sansa closed her eyes, not wanting to see him do what he was doing. As if this would somehow make it less real. Yet, his touch was so soft, his lips so skilled, that she couldn’t help but lean into his embrace. She had not anticipated that his skills as a warrior might directly translated into the bedroom. Sansa had never wanted to be in this position with him, preferring to wage a war of words and weapons, not of sexual passion. Now, face to face with him, her body was betraying the will of her heart. Her instincts yearning for her captor to continue.

 

Sandor growled into her neck, pleased with her responses.

 

The thought of touching him should have made her sick and yet, he smelled of fresh sweat and pine, not of death and pain. There was something in his masculinity, in his unrelenting pursuit of her that gave her this strange feeling of wanting to submit to him. Sansa had fallen asleep with the idea that she would be the one seducing him, molding him to her will, a toy to wrap around her little finger. She did want to be wrong, but couldn’t contain her desire to nuzzle his neck, taking in more of his scent. Even though she did it with some apprehension, he enjoyed it all the same.

 

Sansa didn’t understand what was going on with her body, just that his fingers between her legs were eliciting a response from her that she could never have imagined. She reminded herself of her plan between his rubbing, kissing and sucking. It had been to use his desires for her against him, to seduce him into trusting her blindly. This wouldn’t happen without some resistance from her side, he’d indicated that as his expectation in his diaries. While the look in his eye would indicate she was achieving that, she had not realized the danger of being seduced by him. Her woman’s place was getting wet, his rough fingers slipping between her lower lips with increased ease.

 

Her reservations didn’t seem to matter to her biology, as she bucked her hips toward his fingers and moaned. Sandor kissed down her neck resting his lips on her right nipple, and sucking it lightly. Sansa found herself moaning again despite herself, he was slowly possessing her senses forcing her to feel and react to him in ways that were traitorous. She didn’t want him to win, she didn’t want him to conquer her. He was the enemy afterall, the subject of her hatred, not of her desire.

 

“Give into me.” He said to her, as if reading her mind, “You’ll learn to love my cock, I promise you that girl. You’ll be begging me to fuck you before the night is out.”

 

“No.” She said again, shaking her head and closing her eyes. Sansa was squeezing her legs shut in a vain attempt to keep him away from her. He was a warrior after all, not feeling he had truly won something until he felt he had conquered it completely. If she wanted to rule him, she would need to give him that feeling, make him work for it.

 

He stopped his kissing and grabbed her face roughly, willing her to look at him, “Look at me wench.” There was a gentle anger in his voice. His hand was hurting her jaw, threatening to crush it.

 

She was face to face with a monster, a man capable of killing great numbers of people at once. Sansa swallowed hard.

 

“You try my patience. I won’t give you another chance.” His voice was eerily even and emotionless.

 

Sansa’s heart was beating through her chest. Sensing she might now be more amicable to his desires, his voice softened, “Now be a good girl, Magda, and tell me what I want to hear.”

 

Satisfied she had given him his struggle, she took his face in her hand, her blue eyes searching his for the slightest bit of mercy. “Please forgive me, my Lord.”

 

Sandor was still unflinching, his eyes fixed on hers, “How would you like that I please you?”

 

He smiled then, his demeanor changing almost instantly. The Hound seemed to be considering something, then he straddled her, his massive thighs on each side of her shoulders, his hand tipping his cock toward her.

 

“With your mouth.” His voice was heady, his body imposing over hers.

 

Sansa took his manhood in one hand and tentatively pressed her lips to his extremely large member. Not tasting as bad as she might have expected, she began to suck him, his hand slipping around her head and guiding her mouth over him.

 

“You have such a pretty pretty mouth.” He said, looking down at her as if he was in love. There was something gentle in his eyes, like longing.

 

The Hound started penetrating her slowly, but had quickly graduated to fucking her mouth, grabbing the headboard of her parents’ bed, not leaving her much space to move or air to breath. He didn’t seem to care much in the throws of his passion, but he was a slave to her mouth she noted, the large warrior moaning and growling with a need only she could fill.

 

At the point where her mouth almost couldn’t take anymore, he withdrew from her, then crawled back down her body, spreading her legs easily. He began to rub his iron length over her increasingly wet folds. It felt good, Sansa found herself looking at him, her eye wandering over his muscular frame, his tapered waist and his masculine profile. He was attractive in some terrible way, desirable in a time where men of strength and power got you something.

 

She reminded herself, ‘He’d just as easily slit your throat than fuck you, don’t forget that.’

 

Sansa gripped the sheets as Sandor rubbed his cock over a bundle of nerves above her woman’s place, it was delightful and she moaned loudly spreading her legs automatically wider. An invitation for more that she had not bargained on giving him.

 

Then, without warning, he began to slip himself inside her hungry heat. He was thick and she felt herself spreading to accommodate his manhood. With one hand next to her head to hold his weight and another grasping her breast, his eyes rolled back in ecstasy. When he made it to her maidenhead his eyes snapped open and he cocked his head to the side, almost confused. Once he understood what it was, a calculating look came over his face.

 

‘He’s considering something.’ She realized. Almost no farmer’s daughter was a maiden at her age, ‘Does he suspect my identity?’ She felt fear then, fear that he might realize who she really was and turn her over to the King. He was suspicious of her whereabouts, as to whether she had escaped or was living right under his nose.

 

To her relief a smile cracked across his face wider than she could have imagined. “You’re a maiden.”

 

She nodded, hoping he had not thought of it more than that. He dropped down on his forearms over her. He kissed her lips eagerly, “I’m one lucky son of a bitch.”

 

He continued to kiss her, more heated and pushing himself eagerly into her, determined to bottom out in her young virgin pussy.

 

“You’ll never want another man after me.” He whispered in her ear. “I’ll ruin you.” He brushed her hair almost lovingly out of her face as he said it, a softness surfacing for a brief moment.

 

He bottomed out in that second and she moaned loudly. He was big and thick in her body, he filled her to completion her breathing intensifying. She hated him for being right, for blurring the thin line between love and hate. She wanted to be securely on the hate side, yet she found her body pulling her to the love side.

 

“Please.” She said simply, gripping his back. She hadn’t wanted to say it, but it had slipped out of her mouth all the same.

 

“That’s right girl, you learn quickly.” She could tell he was eager, that he wanted her to want him. And she did, in this one very confusing moment, she wanted him. Both achieving her goal and failing in one passion filled moment.

 

Sandor began to fuck her in ernst, his strong body slapping against her soft one. It didn’t take her long to start screaming for him to keep going. It was getting harder and harder to say she didn’t, at some level, enjoy it. Her hips raised to meet his and she gripped him as firmly a she could. A thin layer of sweat had begun to form on her forehead, a sign of the immense heat building between them.

 

He was a good lover, not that she really knew what a good lover was, but the fact that he could get her to forget everything, even her surname, meant something. This was no normal courtship, that much was not lost on Sansa. But the Hound was different from other soldiers she had seen take local wifes. Yes, he had taken her against her will from the farm and yes, he had willed her in his bed against her own desires. Yet he yearned to show her a side of him nobody had seen, to give her something she was still not sure she wanted.

 

‘He wants me to love him.’ She realized, touched in some deep recess of her heart.

 

She didn’t have much time to ponder this, as he threw one of her legs over his shoulder allowing him to penetrate her deeper. She cried out in passion, never having felt like this before. Perhaps he had been right, that he would ruin her for other men. Her body was on fire, she had never felt so good before. He was creating a need in her that she had never had before, awakening her to desires she didn’t know existed. She hated him for this, didn’t know if she’d be able to forgive him for his treachery.

 

After a series of particularly deep thrusts he found his climax, his speech unintelligible as he pressed himself flush with her body, spilling himself as deep inside her as he could. His breathing was labored, as if he’d just come back from battle.

 

The Hound put his forehead to hers, both of them were breathing hard she realized. “Was I good to you girl?”

 

The smugness of his voice was her signal that he didn’t need an answer, her reactions had been all he needed to see. Rolling off of her, he laid on his back beside her, his chest heaving in physical exhaustion.

 

Sansa was suddenly taken with the desire to keep her distance from him, too confused about what had happened between them. If she let him close perhaps he would poison her will with his charms, his ‘advantages’ as he had described them in his diary.  But he wouldn’t give her that choice, he pulled her close to him, her head resting on his chest.

 

She had never actually touched a naked man before tonight, never felt the warmth a man’s body could give, never felt the pleasure she could derive from the opposite sex. It was surprising how foreign a man’s body was to her own, in particular how different his was to her own. Sansa ran her hand through the rough hair of his chest, reminding herself that this was supposed to be pretend, that she wasn’t supposed to get attached to him. She took a deep breath, then focused herself on the task at hand, finding out more about her enemy.

 

“Where are you from Sandor Clegane?” She said lazily, trying to gauge if he was a man who talked after he had satisfied his sexual urges.

 

She knew men could be like this from talk around the village and from Gendry, when he admitted once to her that he had told the miller’s daughter some of their plans. Men could be weak creatures in this moment, and she hoped to capitalize on this.

 

His eyes were closed, but he was not sleeping. Sandor snorted at her words, taking his time to answer her. “I’m from the West.”

 

He opened his eyes and he looked at her, “My mother was from the North, but I grew up in the Westerlands.”

 

So he wasn’t a talker, that was obvious but even with a few words what he said was curious. A man from the Westerlands with northern heritage fighting the wars of a Southern King.

 

“Then perhaps we are more similar than we think.” She said, her words hanging heavy in the air between them. The silence was uncomfortable, suffocating even.

 

“Yeah. We’re both killers.” He said suddenly, a smirk on his face.

 

She pushed away from him, lifting up on one hand to look down at him, “I kill when I have to protect myself, not because I enjoy it.”

 

He laughed outright, “Killing is killing little bird, whether you like it or not.” Sandor cocked his head to the side slightly, “What makes us two of a kind, is that we both enjoy it.” He let his words sit between them, a grin on his face.

 

She was taken aback by this assertion, her eyes narrowing at him. Sansa’s mind went back to the barn, back to the moment she had run the second solider through with her pitchfork, back to the thrill.

 

‘He is wrong. He is a mass murderer, he has tortured and suppressed. We are not the same.’  But she couldn’t find the words to tell him this. All she could do is glare at him, the fire casting dancing shadows across the wall.

 

An intoxicating smirk crossed Sandor’s blemished face as he scooped her up effortlessly, positioning her on top of him. The monster of a man looked into her eyes, the unscarred side of his face illuminated by the waning fire in the fireplace. He looked fragile somehow, breakable in this passing moment of intimacy. It warmed her cold heart, but only briefly.

 

His large hand cupped her ass, giving her a firm smack there. She could feel his erection starting to grow underneath her, taking almost no time to regain its full size.

 

She swallowed, surprised by this, “My Lord is virile.” Was all she managed to say.

 

“Aye.” He answered, a devilish grin forming on his devil’s face. “Now hop to girl, I want to watch you fuck yourself.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 6:  Two Sides of the Same Coin

 

She was losing control and it scared her. Sansa was straddling the Hound, the man sent to enslave her people, the monster meant to bring them to their knees. Yet there he was, his torso propped up on some pillows, his long black hair over his shoulders, his arms behind his back at perfect ease with their intimacy. She was supposed to hate him, he was supposed to be evil in the shape of a man. Now nothing was what it should have been, much less what it seemed to be, Sansa had to stop this.

 

“No.” She said more forcefully this time, “I can’t.”

 

He shot her a rather perplexed glance, his hands still behind his head. “You can’t, or you won’t?”

 

“I won’t.” Sansa shot back at him, trying to contain the tears that threatened to spill forth from her eyes. “I won’t be your whore.”

 

He always seemed to be one step ahead of her, and this only served to infuriate Sansa more. Sandor wasn’t angry with her this time, nor did he look it, but he held her in his analytic gaze like a snake charmer a poisonous cobra. Sansa refused to break his stare, not willing to give another inch to him. He seemed to be playing the same unspoken game with her as he moved his hand to the bedside table, pulling a dagger from it without ever looking at the weapon and handing it to her, hilt first.

 

The weapon was cold and heavy in her hand, unblemished from use.

 

“Go on then.” He urged her, still one arm behind his head.

 

Even in the increasing darkness of the room his body didn’t go unnoticed. The way his neck and shoulders dipped and curved to form the basis of chest. The upper part of his chest was covered in thick hair, which thinned out into a trail down his stomach, ending in his groin. His abdominal muscles casting shadows on the rest of his body, showing their definition even in the dim light. It was a deadly beauty, one that could light the flame of passion as easily as it could snuff out the flame of life.

 

Sansa chose a spot on his chest and held the dagger there, its point gently depressing his skin. She swallowed hard so as to keep her nerve, weighing whether it would be better to drive it through his chest or to let him live. So focused was she on her own inner turmoil that she didn’t notice how much her hand was shaking.

 

Never moving his eyes from hers, Sandor took her hand with the dagger and moved it to a different spot on his chest, “Aim for my heart so you’re sure to kill me. If you wound me, I’ll just get mad.”

 

There was something terribly demoralizing about threatening to kill a man who has no fear of death. Sansa wanted him to beg for his life, or at least to be horrified by the thought of losing it. Instead he was calm, relaxed and very much in control. She held the dagger there, over his heart a while longer. Suddenly her hand dropped, both it and the dagger resting at the side of her leg, she slumped back on his thighs. The tears were coming now, running down her cheeks in small rivers, she had to pull herself together, to be strong.

 

His low soothing voice came from the darkness, bringing her eyes back to his. Sandor sat up, moving a hand to the side of her face in an almost comforting way. “Give yourself to me tonight. You can always kill me in the morning.”

 

Ever the careful soldier, Sandor slid the dagger off the bed but put it on top of the night stand, still within her reach. Both of his hands free, he brought the second one to her face and kissed her lips. It would have almost been chaste had they not both been naked, his erect manhood between them.

 

‘Perhaps just for one night…’ Sansa found herself conceding to his unexpected charms yet again.

 

Their kiss became heated, lips gave way to tongues, then to moans. His hand slid between them positioning his manhood so she could easily mount it. Lifting up on her knees she helped him position himself at her opening and slowly began to work him into her. She used his shoulders to balance herself while she continued to urge his first inches inside her.

 

It was a pleasurable torture, the feeling of her body stretching to its limits so as to hold him. Sansa revelled in the fact that he had not taken his eyes off of her, much less blinked since she started to take him inside of her. He was mesmerized by her curves, clearly feeling every bit of her in a similar way to how she was feeling every bit of him. When their bodies were finally flush, he sat back as if waiting for some kind of show to begin.

 

The realization that she wasn’t sure what came next must have crossed his mind as the good side of his face twitched slightly, then he popped her gently on the ass. The surprise of the smack made her jump, the extraordinary feeling of their friction and the depth she could get from this position announcing themselves at the same time.

 

Subconsciously Sansa leaned forward, a hand on his chest and began to move her body up and down over him.  Closing her eyes she could better feel every inch of him, experiment with her strokes and the angle with which she took  him. There was no way she could avoid moaning loudly, then feeling a hand on her breast she moaned again even louder.

 

Sansa began to roll her hips now, the tip of her lover’s cock hitting a spot deep inside of her. The more she leaned and the longer she rubbed, the better it felt. She was electrified all the way through her breasts, her nipples so sensitive that she cried out when his lips clasped around one just to kiss it. The faster she rolled her hips the harder Sandor’s breathing got and when he smacked her hard on the bum she leaned back, gripped his upper thighs and screamed in pure pleasure.

 

Not able to sit idly by any longer, her partner sat up properly from his reclining position on the bed, wrapping her up in both of his arms. He’d spotted an opportunity and would not pass it up. His forearms against her back, his hands holding her shoulders so as to fix her in place, he began to roll his hips in response.

 

Her eyes closed, her head tilted back Sansa began to urge him further. Her hands were blindly grabbing in front of her for something to brace herself, her impending orgasim so close she feared she wouldn’t find stability fast enough. Her nails glanced off some parts that might have been skin, a cheek, part of his neck,  eventually digging themselves into his chest, tensing her fingers around his dark curls so tight she feared she’d rip out by its roots.

 

Her orgasam was punctuated by the feeling of his beard on her neck as he kissed her, still thrusting relentlessly into her. Sansa had no idea how much strength she had, only that when her body relaxed she collapsed toward the Hound’s chest. Her body was pulsating, her mind devoid of any thoughts, she barely sensed the fact that Sandor had turned her on her back, intent on finishing his pleasure for a second time.

 

When he did reach his peak, Sansa could feel him tensing in much the same way she had, his eyes closed, eliciting a roar of pleasure that could surely be heard through the thick castle walls. Once he was satisfied that he had emptied himself completely, he again rolled on his back, breathing even harder than the time before. The dimming light from the fire seemed to illuminate the thin layer of sweat that had formed on his neck and shoulders even more this time. His eyes were closed, one hand was on his chest while he breathed deeply, enjoying.

 

She’d never seen a man so sated, so content before. The warrior had found peace, if only for a brief moment. Then he turned on his side, to get a better look at her moving some of her sweat matted hair from her face, “You howl like a damn she-wolf at the end of my cock girl.”

 

Sansa snorted at this, ‘You have no idea.’ She thought.

 

Her mind wondering to her heritage, to the direwolf, the symbol of her house made some emotions surface. She frowned, turning her head from Sandor.

 

He chuckled, “You feel guilty don’t you?”

 

She rolled on her side turning her back to him this time, not wanting to start another conversation on this topic right now. She was in no mood to further concede anything to him.

 

“You only feel guilty because you kind of liked it with me, didn’t you?” Sandor whispered in her ear as he ran an idle finger down her shoulder and over her arm.

 

“You feel guilty because I see you for who you are, and I respect you for it.”  He paused, just long enough for her to peek back behind her shoulder at him. “I even find it arousing.”

 

When she didn’t respond he kissed her on side of the head and pulled her closer into his body, spooning her under his enormous arm.

 

“We’re two sides of the same coin, you and I.” He mumbled, clutching her body tightly to his. He didn’t explain his assertion, and Sansa had no interest in hearing his explanation even if he had offered it. What had transpired tonight bordered on treasonous to her own people, to herself. She would have no more of it tonight.

 

Sandor’s breathing began to slowly even out as he fell asleep gently next to her. She didn’t want to be like him, couldn’t even begin to fathom what it might be like. Things could never be the way they once were before the war, of all things she knew that. But it wouldn’t stop her from taking back what was rightfully hers, be it through blood, tears, war or love.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Men Like Me

 

It was the soft light of the early sunrise that would wake Sansa the next morning, its gentle light with the rich colors of orange and vermilion flooding through an open window into the room. In that fleeting moment of half sleep, Sansa wondered if this was what her mother must have often woken up to, warm furs and the gentle sun warming the otherwise cold room. Of course this little daydream was quickly dashed as she slowly came to her senses, the dull pain between her legs reminding her of what had transpired in the night.

 

‘He’s not here.’ She realized, as she slowly sat up to look around the room.

 

Sandor was there, just not sleeping next to her. Seated at her father’s old oak desk, he was scratching away quill to parchment. It was certainly the more boring of his command duties, no warrior ever won renown for paying out salaries, keeping their men fed or writing responses to orders from central command. The furrow in his brow was a clear indication of his distaste for the work, but he was indeed a dutiful soldier. He had not looked up from his work, not noticed her rousing herself from sleep. It was a strange feeling to have been the center of his attentions the night before, and to be so easily overlooked in the morning.

 

All the better.’ Sansa thought to herself, surveying the room.

 

A wash basin, screen and dress were placed at the foot of the bed, an obvious invitation for her to wash herself and wear something more becoming of a housemaid. Sansa was glad for the little bit of privacy the screen afforded her as she quickly tiptoed behind it and began to wash herself.

 

The water was ice cold, making the small hairs on her arm stand on end, goosebumps forming on her skin. That didn’t bother her much. More disconcerting was the mix of blood, fluids and the Hound’s seed that was slowly running down her thighs. Sansa did not know much of such things. Ladies of her station were not meant to know of all the details of what happened in the marriage bed, but she had not anticipated it would be so messy. Her bruised lower lips stung as she dabbed them gently with water, doing her best not to hiss at the pain.

 

Once she was finished, she took the light grey woolen dress from the bed and put it on. Sansa was surprised it fit her so well, hugging her curves and then flaring out at the waist. The long sleeved dress dipped in the front to show some cleavage, and a small insignia of the House of Clegane was humbly pinned near her upper right shoulder. Slipping on her shoes she walked out from behind the screen and made the bed. It was only then that she noticed a flash of silver where her dress had been. It was a hair brush, her mother’s brush to be exact.

 

Sansa snorted, ‘Bastard. Using stolen things from a dead woman to woo another.’

 

Sansa took the brush all the same, moved it through her damp hair, then placed it on the table next to the bed. ‘At least I can admire it.’

 

The dagger from the night before was still there, staring back at her as if daring her to use it. Glancing back to the Hound, she wondered what he planned to accomplish keeping this weapon within her reach. ‘Is he so confident I won’t do it that he doesn’t care? Or does he want to give me a sense of comfort?’

 

Her mind traveled back to the night before. He had been forward and intent on getting what he wanted, but he had not treated her poorly. Sandor had been gentle, even vulnerable at times. Somehow Sansa realized she needed that, it was an odd confirmation that her own vulnerability was somehow normal and ok. She had spent so many years just surviving, showing strength and suppressing weakness that to see a man like him show her tenderness gave her hope that she might still have a chance to be normal again. That she might be able to find that happy, carefree girl she was before the war and cherish it.

 

Fluffing up the pillows on the bed, and tidying up the room Sansa shook these superfluous thoughts from her head. They would give her nothing now, they would only seek to pain her further. She kept an eye on the Hound, but he did not look up from his work, singularly focused on what he was doing, seemingly oblivious to her actions. Once finished, Sansa moved toward the window, it was close to where he was working and she hoped an obvious sign for him to dismiss her.

 

As she neared the window and put her hand on the ledge, Sansa couldn’t suppress the gasp that escaped her lips as she looked down onto the bustling courtyard of the castle. Three men hung in middle of it, their hands were black with pitch, the parchment with the sign of the Northern Resistance pinned to their shirts. She knew two of them, had spoken with them only a few days prior. It was a hideous sight, their necks hanging unnaturally to the side, broken. Their eyes and tongues bulging. The thought of it made Sansa angry. The thought that the Hound had tracked them down the night before, strung them up for all to see, then came to the bedroom to have his fill of her just sickened her beyond anything she could possibly think of.

 

“You’re a sick bastard.” She found herself saying aloud, without meaning to.

 

With that the scratching of the quill ceased, making her turn her head to look at him. She couldn’t read the expression on Sandor’s face, much less understand the meaning of the way he held his head as he looked at her.

 

“I said I would track them down and hang them. Did you expect anything different?” His voice was even, but behind his words Sansa felt a fight coming on.

 

“No trial, no sentence handed down, just hanging them in the dead of night? Is this how the exact justice in the South?” A flush crept up from Sansa’s chest and spread through her neck to her cheeks. She could feel the warmth it was producing, it was making her blood boil despite the crispness of the air.

 

At this he chuckled darkly, shaking his head and laying his quill on the table. “They killed ten of my men in that fire. Justice would be stringing up twenty of your Northern farm boys, two for every soldier.” He paused a moment to let that sink in. “The way I see it, I was rather lenient.”

 

Sansa wanted to lash out, she wanted to fly in his face and rip it to shreds. Her fists balled up and the flush crept even further through her face. The Hound’s grin didn’t make it better, there was something knowing about it, like he knew he was right.

 

“War is not pretty girl, that’s why they send me and not you.” His eyes went to the dagger, still sitting on the nightstand where he had put it, daring her to concentrate her rage into something more meaningful than a stare off.

 

‘Keep your head on your shoulders.’ Sansa reminded herself, even though she was livid.

 

“When they’re cut down, you should allow their families to take them. It’s the Northern way, it’s our custom to bring them back into the home. You’d do well to know our ways.” She said, only slightly succeeding in suppressing the anger in her voice.

 

Sandor stared at her a moment, his mind contemplating something before waving his hand. “Go on! To the kitchens with you. I’ll expect you to serve me my lunch at mid-day.”

 

He went back to scratching in a ledger. Sansa saw his diary open, as if he had been writing in it before. She smirked slightly as she dipped her head and rushed out the door.

 

Rushing down the stairs with haste, Sansa walked past the cleaning ladies and the milkmaids, most of which gave her a treacherous glance as she continued. She had not anticipated that her exploits with the ‘Governor of the North’ would bring her such backlash so quickly, mark her a traitor amongst her own people. She did not blame them for feeling this way, but it was not easy to swallow.

 

‘If they only knew.’ She thought to herself as she walked past the kitchen, her head down so as not to rouse suspicion.

 

If she was going to harness her anger to do something useful, it was going to be to destroy the Hound’s hope of finding any documentation on her looks. There was only one other place in the castle where any book of her family would still be, deep in the cellars. Her lady mother was hard pressed to part with these books, determined that they should survive any bombardment of the castle. It was ironic to think that they probably had made it, while many of those depicted in the books had not.

 

‘I would have sacrificed those things so that you could still be alive.’ Sansa muttered to herself as she walked through the castle.

 

Looking both ways down the dark hall, Sansa grabbed the torch hanging on the wall and pushed open the heavy wooden door, stepping through. She closed the door behind her leaving only a crack, there was no sense in getting locked in. The cellar was dark and dank, as cellars normally would be, the cold whirling around her as she searched its dormant recesses. Nothing had been touched here since she had fled the castle, it was like it had been when her parents were still alive, and that was a good thing.

 

There were barrels of wine, old weapons and other odds and ends that thad been stored away here out of necessity rather than function. Sansa remembered that her mother feared a fire would destroy some of the most precious things of their house, most of which were the family tree and drawings of them done by Maester Luwin. So Catelyn Stark had taken these books from the library and brought them here, so that they might survive the barrage of fire arrows and boiling oil. It would hurt Sansa’s heart to destroy these precious things, to snuff out the last memories she had of her family.

 

“I have to do this. It’s the only way to keep myself safe.” She said it out loud so as to better convince herself it was right.

 

A small wooden crate in the back corner of the cellar, near an old well, drew Sansa’s attention. She moved the torch in that direction and knelt down beside it. There were books here, quite a few to her astonishment. Fighting that sinking feeling in her chest, Sansa placed the torch in the holder on the wall and began to go through the assortment of tombs saved from the Winterfell library. The various histories of her family she would leave, they had no impact on the here and now.

 

The books were musty and some were damp from the cellar, ‘ Hopefully this problem will be solved by rot and mold.’

 

She sifted through a few more books, ‘There.’

 

Sansa had spotted it, one of the several family books she knew they had, dated not more than a year ago. She did not smile knowing that what she was about to do would have broken her lady mother’s heart. Sansa quickly flipped through the pages to confirm what was in the book. There were drawings of the Stark children and their parents, descriptions and, of course, events of the year. She began ripping the pages out and throwing them down the well, into the dark disgusting water below. It was like ripping out her soul. She found herself on the edge of tears watching the drawings of Robb, Bran and Rickon falling softly into oblivion.

‘I will always keep you alive in my heart.’ She promised.

 

Her promise did not comfort her much as she destroyed a second then a third book of their family. Continuing to dig through the mass of books, Sansa was convinced that one or two more existed that might contain some identifying information. The closer she got to the bottom of the crate, the soggier the books were becoming, she hoped upon hope that they were destroyed.

 

‘This one.’ It had the Stark family name but the date was smudged off of the cover. She couldn’t be sure if it was newer or older.

 

Just as she was about to open it up to take a look, she felt a hand grab her shoulder, she was whirled around to face a person behind her. She gasped, keeping the heavy book behind her back.

 

“Well well, the Commander’s new toy. What are you doing down here girly?” It was the Hound’s lieutenant, the man who had barged in on them the night before.

 

“That’s none of your business.” She answered, trying to keep the book in her hand behind her.

 

“Oh I think it’s very much my business.” The man was dark haired, with a beard and a moustache.  

 

She immediately had a bad feeling about him. A man with something to prove was the most dangerous kind of man. It was that kind of man that had destroyed her family, burned down her home and sent her family into exile. Sansa knew to be careful with this man the moment she laid eyes on him.

 

Gone was the fearful stutter he had in the presence of his superior and in its place and predator ready to pounce on the weak. His eyes raked over Sansa in the dim torch light, it sent a shiver up her spine. He reached around her, his hand grazing her bum as he did so, leaning in far closer to her than he needed to. Snatching the book from her hand, he opened it up to take a look.

 

“Now what in the Seven Hells would a fucking peasant whore be doing with a book like this?” His words and tone were condescending and arrogant.

 

‘He’s playing right into my hands.’ Sansa smiled to herself.

 

“I just liked the pictures.” She answered putting a bit of fear in her voice, hoping this would be enough to stop the whole conversation.

 

The man flipped through the book and his eyes lit up, then he shut it with a pop and put it under his arm. A self-satisfied grin on his face. Sansa’s heart sank, she knew he knew the significance of the book, but just wasn’t sure what he had seen. She needed to leave, needed to put some distance between them before he looked even more at her face.

 

Stepping to the side, she made a move to pass him and exit the cellar. It was with great force that he grabbed her wrist, jerking her back to her place, nearly flinging her against the wall.

 

“And just where do you think you’re going pretty thing?” Sansa knew that look in a man’s eye and she did not like it.

 

“To get wine as the Lord Commander requested.”

 

The lieutenant slapped her, she could feel her lip start to bleed. “Don’t lie to me you Northern whore. He never drinks wine at mid-day.”

 

There wasn’t so much distance between her and the wall, moving quickly Sansa grabbed the torch and waved it close to his face, the soldier immediately let go of her and took a step back.

 

“Touch me again and I’ll make sure you and your Commander sport matching facial expressions.” Her threat was real, her blue eyes colder than ice as she stared him down.

 

They were assessing one another, trying to figure out what to do next. If he told the Hound he had found her here digging through the Stark’s old family books it would point the suspicion right at her, ruining everything. On the other hand if he told the Hound about what had transpired, she could manipulate the situation so the Hound would punish his lieutenant.  Clearly he was considering the same scenarios and had decided they were at a stalemate.

 

Taking the opportunity Sansa pushed passed him, torch in hand doing her best to walk, not run to the door. She would give him the pleasure of knowing he gave her the creeps.

 

Just as she reached the door he yelled out, “You’d better watch your back girly.”

 

Rolling her eyes, Sansa pushed through the door and back into the relative safety of the hallway.

 


 

 

Sansa kept her head down while helping out in the kitchens and listened. There were alot of things you could learn if you didn’t draw attention to yourself and sucked in the information around you. In the few hours she had been assisting the cooks by cutting vegetables she had learned which of the women were sleeping with the soldiers, the habits of said soldiers and how they were defending the castle. It seemed that they kept to a pretty regular schedule and that would be something Gendry would need to know.

 

Pushing the incident in the cellar from this morning as far out of her mind as she could, Sansa loaded up the tray for the Commander’s lunch. It consisted of a stew with leftover bits of meat, some bread, ale and a boiled egg. Confirming that was all, she began to make her way to his quarters, knowing the women in the kitchen would gossip like crazy about her once she left.

 

Nearing the room, Sansa could hear Sandor talking to somebody through the door. She leaned her ear to the door but could not discern any more than if she were just right in front of it. Without knocking she leaned on the door handle and walked into the Hound’s quarters, the tray of food clinking slightly as she crossed the threshold.

 

Turning her eyes to the desk she was not surprised by who she saw there, it was the Hound’s lieutenant, the book from the cellar on the desk. The look that passed between her and man must have been intense enough to tip Sandor off that something had transpired between them. Sansa couldn’t be sure if it was the gentle dilation of his pupils or the way the muscles in his face twitched as he observed the two of them, but somehow she knew he had sensed something.

 

Sandor continued what he had been saying before the door opened, “She’s fucking five years old in this drawing Trant. What the in the bloody Seven Hells am I supposed to do with this?”

 

When Trant didn’t answer, but looked nervously over to Sansa then back again, Sandor narrowed his eyes and continued, “She doesn’t even have teets yet!”

 

He bunched up the drawing and threw it on the floor in front of Trant.

 

“But what about….about this?” The Hound’s lieutenant pointed to something on the page in front of Sandor.

 

Reading it a moment Sandor looked back at Trant, “It says she has red hair. Not all kids keep that as they grow older. But her mother is from the Riverlands and was a redhead,” Sandor looked over to Sansa a brief moment, as if speaking of the Riverlands reminded him of her.

 

‘It was dumb to tell him that lie.’ Sansa thought to herself, realizing that her story about her father might have made him suspicious of her now.

 

Then he looked back at Trant. “I’ll consider this, but we can’t be sure. Go back to where you found this and dig deeper.”

 

Trant nodded, glared at Sansa as he turned around, then started to leave the room.

 

“And don’t come here until you have something that’s useful.” The Hound shouted out after him.

 

There was silence as the mountain of a man sat back in his chair, still seated at the desk he had been in the morning. He  ran his fingers through his long hair, a nervous gesture she noted. His tunic was white and simple, the fabric only a step up from what a peasant might wear. His pants were leather, fitting his form and showing off the huge muscles of his legs. The Hound came to where Sansa was standing, having put the tray on a small table near the fire.

 

Just his closeness elicited a response from her body, as if it were begging him to be there, longing for his touch. In her mind she was nervous, not sure if what he had seen and pieced together from the book would make him suspicious of her true origins. Sandor stopped in front of her, his grey eyes piercing her as he looked her over. She could not tell what he was thinking, just that it seemed he enjoyed her closeness too.

 

After a time, he gently took her chin in his fingers and turned her face so as to look at her lip. It had been where Trant had slapped her, she’d forgotten about it. Sansa had been so busy in the kitchens she hadn’t even considered the need to cover it up,  but surely it must be a bit swollen by now. She was looking at him out of the corner of her eye, not even daring to breath so as not to upset him. Anger flashed briefly across his face before he released her and sat down. Without any words she knew he understood what had transpired between her and Trant. Perhaps not every detail, but enough to brood on it. Motioning her to take the seat across from him he proceeded to share his meal with her.

 

The silence that pervated the room as they ate was not unwelcome, nor was it particularly worrying. Sansa had grown to like silence, only speaking when she had something worth saying and it seemed as though the Hound was the same.

 

‘We are not the same.’ She reminded herself as she observed him across from her.

 

If she could admit one thing to herself, it was that she had underestimated his intellect. It was a silly misstep now that she thought about it. One could not become a successful warrior and an even more known general without some kind of mental aptitude, and the Hound was showing to be her equal. It stoked a desire in her she never knew had existed. The fact that she had to cheat by infiltrating his office was a clear sign of what she was up against and the stakes of the game.

 

‘Well that’s war.’ She thought to herself, suppressing a smile as she remembered his words from the morning.

 

“Come with me.” Sandor said suddenly, standing up and motioning her to the door.

 

“Where are we going?” She asked, getting up.

 

The level of frustration on his face was warning enough not to ask too many questions, but he answered all the same. “To the practice yard.”

 

He took her by the wrist and lead her to the door.

 

“Why?” She asked, knowing she was pushing his limits.

 

“Because I’m going to teach you how to defend yourself,” He looked at her a moment longer, his eyes zeroing in on her lip, “against men like me.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Gracious, for a Price

 

The practice yard was both a yard and a room, Sandor had brought them to the room, where a few straw dummies stood. It was an orderly place, all the weapons one could ever want to use were properly displayed and neatly arranged. The straw dummies were used but not in a terrible condition. It smelled of men and steel, an odd smell when you considered it. They could have been any men, Northern or Southern, it smelled almost exactly as it had smelled when she was a child. It was an unsettling feeling.

 

Sandor went to the weapons and began scanning them for something particular.

 

“This is utterly ridiculous.” She said, watching him look at the swords.

 

He continued on as if he had no heard her until he pulled out what he had been searching. It was a sword made of steel, the same as the others, except it was smaller. Not a child’s sword, but one that might have been made with weak young man in mind. So the size was good but the width and, Sansa predicted, the weight were slightly reduced.

 

“You can wield a pitchfork better than any peasant man I’ve ever seen, so why not a sword?” He was matter of fact, yet his eyes had something playful behind them, something that might have been excitement.

 

She crossed her arms and shook her head. “I’m not going to walk around the castle with something like that strapped to my hip.”

 

“Aye.” He answered taking off his sword belt slowly, removing his sheath and replacing it with that of the smaller sword. There was something oddly sexy about the way he deftly moved his hands across his hips and stomach. It drew her eyes to where she knew his manhood was. Just the sheer thought of it made her swallow hard in anticipation, thinking about what had transpired between them the night before. Strapping the belt securely to his body, Sandor looked up and caught her eyes on him. A confident grin crossed his face at the realization he was being watched. Sansa averted her eyes quickly, but could not stop the flush that crept through her neck and into her cheeks.

 

Looking back at him it was almost comical now, to see the mighty warrior with a sword that could have passed for his own personal toothpick. Sansa couldn’t wipe her amusement at the situation off her face.

 

“You won’t wear it, but there are plenty of swords around to take...if you know what you’re doing.” There was a glint in his eye, something lively that reminded her of their night together. It was passion, but passion for imparting this on her.

 

Realizing she was not going to get out of this unless she tried at least once, Sansa walked up to him and made a grab for the sword. He smacked her hand away with ease and pushed her to the ground.

 

Her eyes narrowed at this act, he hadn’t pushed her hard, but just the thought of this kind of treatment angered Sansa.

 

“Again girl.” He said.

 

This time she approached him with a bit more anger, and again the same thing happened. She landed flat on her bum on the dirt floor of the room. A flush creeping in her face, Sansa got up and glared at him, only to be met by a huge grin.

 

“Come on girl, you can do better than that.” Now came his taunts.

 

‘Oh if I could just bury a knife in his back I’d be the happiest girl…’ then it hit her. Her anger left her immediately, it was replaced with a fire, a passion that could have equaled her opponent's.

 

“Turn your back to me, I’ll never be able to snatch it from the front.” She said and to her surprise, he smiled and turned.

 

Her third attempt when only marginally better, but it was starting to make sense.

 

“Think about different ways you could draw my attention away from my sword.” He told her, the smirk never leaving his face.

 

‘He’s enjoying this.’ It was clear to Sansa that he was having some fun with her, blowing off some steam from the morning.

 

So she continued to find ways of distracting him, through noises, deception, and touches. Some worked well, others found her on the floor. Time was flying by, but the only way she could tell was by how tired she was becoming. Sansa stopped to catch her breath, Sandor had his arms crossed, a penetrating stare on his face.

 

“You forgot one final way to distract me.” He said finally, his voice lower than before, almost a whisper.

 

Without even thinking she threw him a competitive glance and moved the shoulder of her dress down, exposing it and some more of her cleavage to him.

 

At this small act of defiance he chucked approvingly, “Aye girl. Use everything to your advantage. Trust me, if I had tits I’d use them.”

 

Sansa walked over to him, not having adjusted her dress and stopped no more than a few inches in front of him. Her blue eyes flickered with excitement. “What makes you think I won’t use this against you?”

 

Sandor took her chin between his thumb and forefinger, “As I said, this is to defend yourself against men like me.” He paused, taking in her face, “You already know I am not like other men. So what do I have to fear?”

 

There was a smug confidence to his words, a smirk crossing his face as he looked down at her. It was a smirk that finished the sentence with   ‘and you like it.’

 

She could have slapped him for such arrogance, to even elude to the fact that she might like that kind of a thing, yet she found herself intrigued, taken with the idea of wiping that smirk off his face. Sansa couldn’t deny that there was a calm confidence about Sandor Clegane that made her weak in the knees, ready to gamble everything to make him submit to her.

 

Clearly he was up to the challenge, stealing a kiss from her before he made his way to the door. There was an urgency in his lips that drew Sansa in, made her forget everything else around her. The smell of his skin, invaded her nostrils. The feeling of his tongue playing across her own, calmed her whirlwind of emotions. She had completely underestimated this man, and wasn’t quite sure what that meant for her overall plans of subversion.

 

“Work on that.” Sandor breathed, once he came up for air. “Then, when you’re good enough, I’ll teach you how to swing that thing.”

 

His eyes held hers for a long while, “See you tonight.”

 

The way he said the words held the promise of things to come that evening, of the passion he wanted to share with her, that he would impose on her. Sansa couldn’t help but feel torn, the psychological warfare he foretold in his diary was more than formidable.

 


 

 

A slight feeling of defeat embedded itself in Sansa’s chest when she entered the Hound’s chambers after nightfall. She had hoped to have a bit of time to read his diary from the last day, compelled to know what he had written about her, hungry for that insight into his otherwise impenetrable mind. Unfortunately tonight would not be her night, he was seated at the desk still clearing up paperwork from the looks of it. She couldn’t be sure what it was, just that he had the same look on his furrowed brow.

 

He must have taken a bath, as his long dark hair was still damp and pulled back into ponytail, ‘It suits him.’ She thought as she silently walked over to the fire and began to knit.

 

Needlepoint would have been too obvious and she was thankful that one of the old ladies of the village had shown her how to knit things. It seemed like a proper peasant girl thing to do, and Sansa was sure that it would keep her busy and pass the long silences like this one. She began to move the yarn over her needles and scan the room for changes. Most things were untouched, only the dagger was back in its place inside the nightstand or at least she presumed so because it was no longer there. In its place however, there was something else.

 

Trying not to squint too obviously in that direction she could only make out a few words, ‘Northern….something something….and Traditions.’

 

‘Humm.’ She wondered to herself as she continued to knit a small scarf. ‘ What kind of relevance could that have?’ She asked herself.

 

Sansa pondered this thought as she continued to knit through the silence. He was not a man of many words, but somehow that made the ones he did say more meaningful. Sandor was dark and brooding, but if the way he had been rooting out the resistance was any indicator, he was also smart and adaptable. But from here, where she sat near the fire, all she saw was a man, more muscled than most, eclipsing a desk that would have looked large next to a normal person, writing away on something that was probably mundane. He wasn’t actually that scary when you looked at him from this angle.

 

There was a knock at the door, and it moved Sansa from her thoughts. Sandor made some grumble that indicated it was alright to come in. A young page boy hurried in and handed him a scroll.

 

“This came just a few moments ago my Lord.” The boy said, out of breath from running the entire length of the castle.

 

Sandor nodded, “Go on then, If I have to reply I’ll take it to tower myself.”

 

The boy bowed slightly then left out the door.

 

Sansa kept knitting, looking down at her work but keeping the Hound in her peripheral vision. He opened the scroll and read it through, then slammed a fist down on the desk so hard that she almost jumped out of her seat. There was a string of what she assumed were profanities in a dialect she did not know, and an angry look on his face. Clearly it was worth further investigation.

 

Finishing her row, Sansa waited a couple of beats more, as it became clear he wasn’t calming down from whatever news he had received. Putting her knitting back in a basket, she walked over to where the Hound was seated and gently, almost gingerly put her hands on his shoulders. She had positioned herself behind him, the best possible position she could have for reading the piece of parchment on his desk.

 

“My Lord seems distressed.” She said, rubbing her hands down his neck and over his shoulders, his muscles were tense his pulse quicker than what it would have been normal.

 

He stopped his tantrum for a moment and just sat there, not responding but not dissuading her from her motions either. She massaged his neck with a bit more pressure and leaned into him, so as to apply more pressure and get a better look at the piece of parchment before him.

 

The note read something along the lines of, ‘ Hound, Highgarden has seen it fit to rebel against us. The men promised to you will be retained for the impending war here. Also, we will need a backup force of two thousand men. Pick the ones you will send and confirm you will do so within the next three weeks. Once we crush Highgarden that number of men will be returned to you. Signed Joffrey Baratheon, First of His Name.’

 

She couldn’t help but feel bad for Sandor, but only just briefly. The less soldiers he had in the North the easier it would be to make trouble, the easier it would be to take it back.

 

‘Perhaps I shouldn’t wait for my brother to ride in and save the North.’ She thought to herself, ‘Perhaps we should make plans to take Winterfell sooner rather than later?”

 

It was a curious thought, one she wasn’t sure about right now, it would be a decision to sleep on. Her thoughts turned her head to look out the window, as she had this morning. The men who had been hanging there were gone, their bodies but a distant memory.

 

Sandor then took one of her hands and kissed it, looking back at her and then to where her eyes were focused. “The bodies were given back to their families.”

 

She looked at him almost in disbelief, he clearly picked up on that. “Now don’t go thinking I’ll make a habit out of that.”

 

Something was off, but she couldn’t be sure what it was. The gesture was a pleasant one, unexpected even. Sansa proceeded cautiously, “My Lord is gracious.” She said looking into his eyes.

 

Then she saw it, that devilish flash that both put her on edge and made her woman’s place tingle, “Am I now?”

 

It was the way he said it, that emotion in his voice that pushed the subtext of reciprocity. He had told her as much in the barn when they had first met, ‘ If you’re good to me girl, I’ll be good to you.’ Of course his graciousness would have a price, one that only she could pay.

 

She smiled though, all the while thinking what a bastard he was. The chair was at an angle from the desk, leaving her some space to walk around him and stand between Sandor and the desk. From there she could better see the smirk that was on his face, one that indicated he knew what he was going to get rewarded with, and he was exceedingly happy about it.

 

Sansa kissed him, going along with his little game. She had leaned over him, her hands on his chest as their lips met. They were warm and soft, with a hint of mint that you could taste as his tongue entered her mouth. Her mind was desperately racing, trying to think of what to do next. It wasn’t like she had a huge amount of sexual experience to draw from, she had never been with a man before him. The whole feeling of it all, the excitement and the fear were so fresh that she wasn’t quite sure what was expected of her.

 

‘Conquer him.’ Was the only thing that popped into her mind. ‘With my mouth.’ She remembered how he had loved her mouth, how it had made him so pleased to have her kiss him between his legs.

 

She dragged her hands down his chest, still looking him in the eye and knelt down on the floor in front of him. Clearly she had chosen correctly, as an approving sigh escaped his lips, a smug expression on his face. She untucked his tunic from his pants and began to kiss him on his belly where the skin was exposed. The hair on his flat stomach tickled her lips as she kissed him at the edge of his trousers, her hands kneading his upper legs. It was almost like kneading marble, there wasn’t one fleshy spot there, his muscles hardened from long days of riding.

 

She could see she was doing well, he had spread his legs further apart and slid down into a more comfortable position, a satisfied expression on his face as he watched her. It wasn’t long before his manhood began to peek out slowly from the waist belt, reminding her that wanted to be teased and fondled just as much as any other part of his body. The pure sight of his cock made her wet at the juncture of her thighs  and she couldn’t understand why. Perhaps it was because she knew what he could do with it, knew how it would make her feel.

 

Shaking those thoughts from her mind, Sansa began to kiss his erection over his pants. This got the response from him of bucking his hips toward her mouth, almost begging her to do more. She  would however, not be swayed, nor would she do anything other than what she wanted to do. A saucy grin on her face, Sansa ran her hands over his strong stomach, while still kissing him over his trousers. She loved the feeling of his soft body hair transposed on top of his solid physique. As her hands continued to wander up under his tunic, he became so frustrated that he pulled the garment over his head in one go, his chest bare for her enjoyment.

 

There was a look in his eyes, a look that would have scared her yesterday, but today filled her with passion and desire. Sansa knew he wouldn’t hurt her, at least not intentionally, but he was not above taking her vigorously. A cheeky smile crossed her face as she looked into those steel grey eyes of his, kissing up his stomach and letting her clothed breasts rub teasingly over his manhood. Sandor gripped the arms of the chair and began to grind on her with more need, his way of moving from begging for more, to demanding more.

 

Satisfied that her little torture was having the desired, Sansa reached for the laces of his trousers and began to loosen them. He was so impatient to have her lips on him that he almost took the laces and undid them himself. Chuckling, she removed his hands from the laces, taking control once again of their encounter.

 

He took her face in his hand and gave her a good hard stare. ‘He’s uncomfortable giving up control.’ She realized, pleased to see that they were building some kind of trust.

 

Leaning into his hand with her cheek, she kissed it, doing her best to put him at ease. Sansa removed his boots, taking his loose trousers and pulling them down over his legs, throwing them on the floor behind her. His manhood rested on his stomach, clearly aching for her touch. It was calling to her, demanding all of her attention. Looking up at him, Sansa didn’t hesitate to wrap one hand around his length, the other cupping his balls. When she took him into her mouth, he moaned loudly.

 

She had decided to approach this act of oral sex much like she had their kissing, using her tongue to elicit a response. This also, seemed to lead her down the right path.

 

A large hand began to stroke her hair, “Gods girl, yeah like that.”

 

Her hand began to gently pump his length, working together with her mouth to pleasure him in the way that he wanted, to give him what he felt he was owed. Sansa didn’t think it was possible for him to get harder, yet she could feel his cock stiffen even more with her attention, his breathing becoming ragged. There was a particular sweet spot on the underside of the tip of him that made the Hound pant even louder. Sansa kept hitting that, rolling her tongue over it with surprising accuracy.

 

He was twisting under her grasp, his hands clutching the arms of the chair when she released him from her mouth and began to use both hands to pleasure him. Her mouth was tired, her jaw felt as though it might fall off. Stroking him with two hands, her saliva still running over him only seemed to embolden her lover more, making him thrust into her hands with increased need.

 

His release was not silent, his deep voice traveling through the bedroom as his seed ran over her hands. It was fascinating the way it erupted from him, covering both of her hands almost completely and then some of his upper legs. It was hard to imagine that this was how a child was made, that a man implanted his seed in a woman and this thick, ropey white substance was that.

 

The Hound reclined on the chair, still breathing heavily as Sansa stood from her kneeling position in front of him. She’d paid her dues, now it was time to wash her hands and prepare for the next day.

 

As she turned to leave, he grabbed her wrist, “We’re not done yet.”

 

They held each other’s eyes a moment, the silence deafening. Then he stood, wrapped her up in his arms and began to kiss her, all the while pushing Sansa gently to the edge of the desk.

 

“My Lord…” She protested, but it was far too late. She knew she wouldn’t be able to escape his lust.

 

He pu shed her so she was seated on the desk, then pressed her torso down so she was laying on the desk, her legs hanging off. Sandor shifted her skirts over her head quickly, blocking her view of him. It was as if he were making sure she couldn’t see what he was about to do, similar to putting blinders on a horse so it wouldn’t buck at the sight of a snake. He unceremoniously yanked her small clothes from her body and brought his leathery fingers between her legs. Sansa could hear him grunt approvingly at what he found there as he ran his fingers over her slit, using her own juices to wet them.  

 

Her body had done it again, it had betrayed her. It had told him of the joy and arousal she had felt as he had let her rule him. As he had let her control him with only her eyes and her tongue. She didn’t have much time to dwell on it though, as she felt his mouth cover her woman’s place and start to kiss it. He kissed her between the legs much as she had him, gentle at first, then slowly with the tongue. Before long he was licking her slit, laping at her juices and using his hands to spread her legs wider.

 

Of course her first instinct was to gasp in surprise, she had not known such pleasure could be given to a woman. Her septa had never spoken of such things, nor had any of the farm girls she had befriended over the last years.

 

“Ohhhh!!” She leaned her head back and moaned loudly, her skirts still pulled partially over her head, obstructing her view.

 

There was something about the warmth of his tongue, the dexterity it had as it ran over her most intimate regions. On top of that his beard would graze her inner thighs, tickling and teasing her. Sansa was, again, no longer in control of her body. He had stolen it from her and wasn’t keen to give it back to her any time soon. Her arms thrashed wildly trying to find something to brace herself with. She knocked over a candle, quickly glancing over to see it hit the stone floor, going out almost immediately, it’s holder making a cold metal sound as it hit the ground. Sansa’s legs began to squeeze and jerk with each of his movements, gyrate to his persistent penetration.

 

Suddenly the heat of his mouth was gone, replaced with two of his large fingers. Sansa could see him now, he’d stood up from his kneeling position and was watching her. His eyes flickering with excitement, amusement and desire. Sandor used his free hand to hold her hips steady, a calloused thumb rubbing her little nub, the fingers of his other hand thrusting into her. She could no longer think properly, or see properly for that matter. As her eyes glanced around the room all she could see where colors, all she could think about was her own impending pleasure and release as she let her body take over. It wanted him, it needed him to possess her.

 

Almost as if on cue, his fingers were then replaced by something much larger. “Oh gods!” Were the only words she was capable of saying.

 

Sandor’s smirk held a calm confidence in his abilities to please her, both of his large hands now on her hips steading her body. If the Stranger were to take her now, Sansa would die a satisfied woman. There was no way for her to name the emotions that his mere presence made her feel. No way to understand the feelings he was pulling unbid  from her body. All Sansa knew was that they were overwhelming and deep, they filled her with a sense of selfishness and agency. Chasing her own pleasure Sansa sat up, wrapping an arm around his neck. Sandor’s muscles strained from use, from holding her body in position. There was something in the way his hips rolled to meet her own and the rhythm that he found that made her weak to him. There was no in denying it, he had her right where he wanted her, her arms clutching him close, taking in his irresistible musk that was so uniquely him. It was all becoming too much as she kissed his neck, tasting the thin layer of sweat that was forming there. Eccestay building slowly in her body with each of his well placed thrusts.

 

Sansa was gripping his back now, digging her nails so deep into his skin that she was sure she was going to draw blood. Her breath caught in her throat, then pleasure overtook her. Sansa’s body clenched, shook, shuddered against his. She came so hard she nearly pushed his cock out of her, a soft laugh escaping his lips at the whole situation. Sandor took hold of her hips and continued to fuck her over the desk, somehow continuing to enjoy the sweet torture of her insides.

 

The light was so much brighter in their bedchambers than the night before, so Sansa’s eyes could better take in the frame of her partner. His was a body used to violence, having both taken and inflicted untold amounts of pain and sorrow on others. It was humbling for Sansa to see this side of him, perhaps even bring it out in him. The Hound had never bruised her, never hurt her though vigorous and energetic while they coupled. His brow was furrowed in concentration, his eyes alight with passion. As he found his second peak he clutched her closely as if to let her go would be to never see her again. Kissing her softly on the mouth, he began to unlace her dress, helping her out of it. The Sandor scooped her up and began to walk across the room.

 

‘Do I make him a better man?’ She wondered to herself as he set her gently into the bed they now shared.

 

He left her only briefly to blow out the rest of the candles in the room, his naked body littered with the scars of battle, covered with near misses and lucky escapes. She couldn’t help but marvel at him, hold a deep respect for his morbid success. The very fact that he was alive, a testament to his skill as a fighter and a tactician.

 

Slipping softly into bed, Sandor positioned her so her head was on his chest, Sansa’s body cupped close to his own. She found herself, despite her better judgement, running a hand over his chest. Sandor held her hand on his chest, covering it with his near his heart and breathing deeply. Sansa hated his persistent attempts at loving her and yet, welcomed the feeling of normalcy that came with them. There was no denying that these moments of intimacy had always been something she had wanted in her life, something she had dreamt of as a child. Perhaps not this way exactly, but the feeling of it was similar.

 

‘How different would my life have been if my parents had married me off to some Lord I had not known? Would he have been so passionate, so open, so approving of me? Would he have been so well endowed?’ She lifted an eyebrow at the last thought.  


‘Oh stop it Sansa.’ She thought to herself, almost angry. For all the fuss she put up, for all the protests she gave, she had the overwhelming feeling that Sandor Clegane was making headway in the battle for her heart.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9:  On the Backs of Northern Lords

 

This morning did not start out like the one before. Sansa was roused from sleep before the sun had risen and the bed was empty; she could only see the silhouette of Sandor’s naked body lighting a candle and walking over to the wash basin. It was odd to her how he had no modesty when it came to such things; she wondered if that was just the way men were brought up--as if it were their right to take what they wanted when they wanted it, to not fear the eyes and desires of others. Mulling this over, Sansa wiped the sleep out of her eyes as he splashed his with the water, his body shaking from the biting cold.

 

‘Southerners.’ She smirked, knowing they could not take the cold well. They didn’t belong here, not in Winterfell, not in the North.They were occupiers in a foreign land, that was something Sansa dare not forget. Even as Sandor Clegane had begun to possess her body, seize her senses and encroach on her heart, she could not allow him to pull her from her singular purpose: To liberate her people and to reclaim what was the rightful domaine of the Starks.

 

‘I will avenge you dear mother, dear father, dearest siblings.’ She repeated her oath silently to herself not wanting to disturb her captor, lest she rouse his seemingly insatiable lust.

 

Sansa sat up in the bed, took the hairbrush from the nightstand, and began to brush her long hair. It was certainly a fright, as she had not had time to brush it properly the last few days.Taking a page out of his book, Sansa did not make a move to pull the furs up to cover her breasts, more intent on ridding her hair of the knots that had accumulated in it during the night.

 

Wrapping her long hair over her right shoulder, Sansa began to tame her riotious copper mane. Sensing eyes on her, she turned her head to investigate. Sandor was sitting on a chair, his armor on, pulling up his boots. He’d stopped everything and was looking at her with a stare so intense, she felt like a small rabbit in the eyes of a wolf. She must have been quite a sight to take in, topless, her red hair spilling wildly over her back and shoulders. He exhaled, clearing his throat then broke their eye contact to continue putting on his boots.

 

‘He’s smitten.’ That was the first thought that entered her mind upon seeing the expression on his face. It made her feel vulnerable yet valued, being able to stir such feelings in a man not given by nature to love or affection. The sight of his grey eyes devouring her form whilst performing one of the more mundane tasks of the day, was thrilling-- even arousing.  

 

Sandor took his sword and walked to the door, looking back at her as he moved to open it. He said not a word, but there was something in his eyes that spoke to her--as if he were memorizing her on the chance he didn’t come back from his patrol. Sansa made a point to keep her face expressionless, not wanting to give away any more of her feelings for him than she already had the night before. He held her gaze a moment longer, then exited the room, closing the door behind him.

 

Sansa exhaled, surprised she was even holding her breath. Something about him put her on edge. It wasn’t the fear of him hurting her, or the threat of physical violence. It was this feeling he made well up inside her. She could not name it, but it felt like anticipation mixed with desire somehow wrapped in a deep seeded respect for her opponent. It had often been told to her that love and hate were two sides of the same coin, but she had never really believed it until now.

 

Pushing these thoughts from her mind, Sansa dressed quickly and made up the room. She would have not time to rifle through his papers quite yet as she needed to get down into the courtyard of the castle as soon as possible. It was Thursday and Gendry was sure to be smithing for the soldiers. Depending on the work they had for him, he might stay until mid-day or leave earlier. So she would have to forego his diary entries in favor of stopping by the kitchens briefly and then heading over to visit to her second in command.

 

There was work to do on the resistance front, and the more Sansa thought about it, the more she felt it was time to try to win the Northern Lords to her side. It would be a political chess game to make them believe there was a Stark ready to retake the North. Titles would have to be promised, lands redivided, offers made that were more attractive than those of the Hound and the Baratheons. This window that would open up in six weeks would be an opportunity to turn up the heat on the Southern Occupiers, a way to make them feel on edge--tip the game in her favor. But a war was not won on guerrilla tactics alone, they would eventually need the armies of the Northern Lords. Gendry knew a man, Baron the Bard, who claimed to have connections to all the courts in the North. If she wanted to get the word out, if she wanted to test the waters for the chance of overthrowing the occupying forces, she would have to see if they were willing to support her. This would take time, but given she had not heard from Jon in a while, she was not willing to wait longer.

 

‘I won’t wait for my brother to ride in and save the day. If we move now we have a better chance than later.’ This was the only clear thought in her mind. The only sure reference point in this storm of emotions she was weathering.

 

Bolting the door from the inside, Sansa then made her way to the hidden passage across the room. There was a latch at the juncture of the wall and the floor, rubbing her fingers under the wall softly she felt it, then pressed it.The heavy stone door pushed out and she opened it slowly. It was heavy and dragged across the floor a bit. She knew that right inside the door there was a small box, and in this box there was a seal. It was the official seal of the Starks, a piece that nobody other than a Stark would own. She opened the little box and pulled it out. It was silver and heavy, on the bottom the etching of her house. Gendry would need to pass this to the bard and the bard would need to show it to the Northern Lords, proof that the Starks still lived. It was a gamble, but she had to try.

 

She swept up the floor around the hidden door, trying to make it look as though she had not just moved a thick stone door across it. Satisfied with her work, Sansa put the seal in her pocket and went down to the kitchens.  

 


 

The rain was pouring down and it made even crossing the courtyard a difficult and muddy task. Sansa grabbed a thick black cloak she found hanging in the hall and put it on. It was a bit short but it was enough to shield her body from the rain and cold, the hood large enough to cover her hair. There was no need for any of the soldiers to recognize her, particularly talking to the blacksmith. That would be the best way to get Gendry beaten or hung - or both. She sighed solemnly at that thought.

 

Gendry had been her rock over the last couple of years. An orphan of the war similar to her, they had taken up residence together in a small farm house. He had taught her what he knew about animals and farming, she had done her best to help things run as smoothly as possible. When it came time to build the resistance, he had been her first recruit. Strong, capable and a natural leader, he had been instrumental in spreading the word about their fight. He had also been the only person she could turn to with questions, or with wicked ideas. Their patriotism was born of war, and personal loss. They thought alike and this was extremely useful. Sansa counted on his continued support to win against the Southerners. She counted on his friendship to help her see this war to its end.

 

Lifting her skirts, Sansa made her way across the courtyard, doing her best to dodge the huge puddles of water and mud that were forming. Rounding the stables she walked back to where the blacksmith was to do his work. She was thankful that it was warm and dry in the little hut where he worked, much different from other parts of the castle at the moment. It was difficult to miss Gendry, his muscular arms bare, sweat on his noble looking brow. He was shoeing a horse, banging the shoe on an anvil with a hammer in order to fit it properly.

 

“Gendry.” She whispered loudly over the banging of the hammer.

 

He stopped and looked in her direction, a relieved look suddenly on his face. “Magda!” He dropped what he was doing and embraced her. “Is he hurting you?”

 

His blue eyes were searching hers with proper concern. He had seen Sandor take her from the barn only two days earlier, knew what that meant. It almost made her blush, Gendry knowing what she was doing with the Hound. It made the demure ‘Lady’ in bubble to the surface.

 

“I’m surviving.” It felt like a lie coming out of her mouth, knowing that she was not being treated poorly given the situation. Knowing that she was slowly growing fond of her enemy’s touch, despite his unforgivable crimes against her people.

 

Gendry simply looked her over once again and nodded, going back to his work.

 

“I saw some of the boys hanging.” She said, turning back to the subject that mattered and away from her thoughts.

 

He simply nodded, striking the heated horseshoe again, “Yeah, but we killed ten of those bastards, so it’s worth it.”

 

There was a brief pause, as if a moment of silence to remember the dead was appropriate now. Then she continued, “I do have some news though.”

 

This peaked Gendry’s interest, he put another shoe in the fire to heat it up. Sansa continued, “I heard that they are not getting reinforcements.”

 

At this her friend’s eyebrow raised, a devilish grin crossed his face. “Oh really?”

 

“Yes, it would seem there is war with Highgarden, they not only won’t reinforce the Hound’s troops, but they are asking him to send some to aid them.”

 

“A war on two fronts is difficult to win.” Gendry mused as he pulled out the horseshoe and began to hit it.

 

“Indeed.” She said. “In six weeks they will send troops; they will be weakened. It will be a good time to make some trouble.”

 

Gendry nodded, his mind clearly racing with possibilities.

 

“Are you still friends with Baron the Bard?” She asked, almost tentatively.

 

“Ha.” Gendry laughed, wiping the sweat from his brow. “That bastard stole my girl, but she wasn’t worth winning her back.”

 

At this Sansa shook her head, ‘Men.’ She mused.

 

“But yeah, we still keep in contact. Why?” He asked.

 

“There has been news from the North.” She lied, though she suspected Gendry either knew or was highly skeptical of her peasant ancestry. “Give this to him, tell him that the Starks are ready to take Winterfell. He needs to get their support and report back to us. We have to know if there is enough willingness amongst the Northern Lords to rise against the Baratheons.”

 

Gendry took the seal and looked it over, as if he could discern its authenticity. He had a concerned look on his face.

 

“What?” She probed, concerned as to what he might say.

 

“Well I just hope he can do it. You know bards are all talk, talk, talk, sing, sing, sing. We can’t be sure he knows all the lords in the territory.”

 

“But what else can we do?” She questioned. “If we don’t attack when they are weakened here, there might never be a chance. The Starks are ready, but we need to lay the final groundwork.”

 

She wasn’t sure if he was onboard with her suggestions, but she could see he was mulling it over. “I’ll talk to him.” Gendry said finally.

 

“Good.” She answered, almost relieved. “How long do you think it will take him?”

 

Gendry shook his head, “If he’s not drunk half the time? Two months, two and a half.”

 

Sansa nodded, it fit the timeframe. They could continue to demoralize the troops and launch an offensive when they were weak. It would fit.

 

“Otherwise, I’ll try to come by when you are here. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for anything of value.” She looked around to make sure nobody had come in during the time they had been speaking.

 

Gendry nodded, understanding the need for both of them to be as discreet as possible.

 

They looked at each other one last time, and then she ducked out of the small hut, pulling her hood back over her head. As she hurried away, her eyes looked around to make sure that nobody was paying too close attention to her. It seemed fine, but her mind was awash of the possibilities.

 

‘Will the lords agree? Or will they even take it seriously?’ She hoped so. There was no way she could wait any longer. If Jon would not come, she would take the North.

 

Rounding the stables Sansa was so lost in thought that she almost did not notice the sound of scuffling from within. It wasn’t an animal, it was far too small of a sound for that. There there was a muffled cry, human. Something was going on, and it didn’t sound like the ordinary work of a stable boy.

 

Entering the stable Sansa tiptoed to the back, past some horses in their stalls and into an emptier part of the building. What she saw as she zeroed in on the sound, made her stomach turn violently.

 

It was the Hound’s lieutenant, Trant; Sansa could tell by his hair and armor. His britches were down around his knees as he struggled on the floor with a girl. He was having difficulty muffling her cries while trying to navigate her skirts. It was a milk maid; she couldn’t have been more than ten years old.

 

Rage hit Sansa quickly as she looked around for the first weapon she could find. It didn’t take long for her eyes to rest upon a  bull whip hanging arm’s length away on the wall. She silently thanked Gendry for teaching her how to use any farm implement available to defend herself. The whip had been something she had always been able to use well. She smirked as she took it from the wall.

 

‘I might even enjoy this.’ Were her only thoughts as she swung the whip over her head, a large crack filling the air--a thin line of blood forming on Trant’s hip and ass.

 

The man screamed in pain and rolled off the girl, in an attempt to understand what was going on. As his stiff manhood came into view it was clear to Sansa why he tried to rape ten year olds. She laughed at the sight of him outright and cracked the whip again across his upper thigh.

 

“I’d take off your manhood with this whip, but I don’t think I can hit something so small from here.” She taunted as she advanced on the man.

 

“You bitch!” He yelled his face red with anger as he reached for his sword.

 

Sansa cracked the whip again, hitting his hand away from his sword, cracking it again and giving him a lash across his cheek. “Silence!” She yelled anger flooding through her veins.

 

Sansa took only a brief moment to look over at the girl--to see if she was badly injured. Satisfied with what she saw, she turned her attention back to Trant, still sitting on the ground his arms up trying to defend himself.

 

“Take off your armor girly, and put your hands on the wall.” Her saccharine voice dripped with the sweet feeling of revenge.

 

When Trant began to protest she cracked the whip next to her, the pop screaming through the stable. “Hurry! Or I’ll take an eye.”

 

Shaking Trant did as he was told, all the while glaring at her hatefully. If he could have murdered her right then and there he would have done it, but he was too craven to pull his sword under these circumstances.

 

He did as he was told, his pants around his ankles, his hands on the wall. There was no way to contain her feelings, no way to go back now. He was disgusting, a pitiful excuse for a human being. She flicked her wrist twice in quick succession, two lines of blood forming on his back. It felt so good to hear him scream in pain, to hear the way his voice choked up.

 

Her eyes narrowing, Sansa raised the whip over her head once again, but felt it catch on her attempted downswing--irritation and frustration building as she turned to find herself  face to face with the Hound. His left hand had caught the whip end, wrapping it around his palm twice. He was wet, drenched from the rain, only his white tunic and his trousers were covering his body. He’d clearly relieved himself of his armor before he put his horse in the stable. There was a glint in his grey eyes as he assessed the situation.

 

“What is the meaning of this?” The Hound’s voice boomed through the stables, turning all eyes to him.

 

Trant turned around immediately and pointed straight at Sansa whining like a petulant child. “My Lord, this bitch is attacking me. You see what she has done?”

 

His pants were still around his ankles--his naked body visible for all to see.

 

Pulling the whip out of Sansa’s hand effortlessly, Sandor cast his lieutenant  a disparaging look, as if he couldn’t have ever imagined the man was so poorly endowed. “Stuff that pecker back in your trousers before you embarrass yourself further, Trant.” He said, then shifted his eyes to the young milk maid.

 

Her blue dress was ripped and she had pushed herself deep into a corner, shaking. She was clearly disturbed, and the smell of urine wafted from her direction. The poor thing was so scared of everything, Trant, the Hound. Sansa didn’t blame her, she had done nothing wrong yet she could be punished all the same. Sansa’s heart raced as Sandor approached the girl, knowing all too well how imposing his form felt as it loomed over you, and she was a woman grown, not young girl filled with fear. Sandor’s face held the same expression it often did, unreadable and Sansa could not discern what his true intentions were.

 

‘Will he punish this poor girl?’ Sansa asked herself, ‘He wouldn’t give her to Trant, would he?’ The mere thought of this made Sansa’s mouth dry. If he did anything dishonorable she would attack him, she would not hold back. She readied herself.

 

Then, Sansa watched Sandor’s eyes soften at the sight of the girl, knowing instinctively what had happened or was about to happen before Sansa had intervened. He reached into his coin purse and pulled out a golden dragon. Squatting down in front of the girl he handed it to her, her eyes full of tears, her little body trembling. Sansa’s body was also trembling, but from relief.

 

“Take this and get out of here. Don’t come back ok?” There was a firmness to his voice, but a gentleness as well. It seemed to shake the girl from her trauma.

 

She nodded only a little, looked at the coin briefly, and ran out of the stables keen to put as much distance between herself and the situation as possible.

 

“Now, Trant…” Sandor’s deep voice resonated through the air, bringing with it a darkness that permeated the stables. “...we’re supposed to be ruling these people, not giving them more reason to rise up against us.” His eyes were on his lieutenant, standing between him and Sansa.

 

“My Lord.” Trant began, “That girl wanted it, I offered her some silver stags and she was happy to spread her legs for…”

 

“You lie!” Sansa screamed lunging toward Trant with murder on her mind.

 

Sandor quickly scooped an arm around her waist, pulling her in close to him, his lips close to her ear. “Calm down.” He whispered to her.

 

“Your whore,” Trant started, pointing a finger at Sansa, “deserves as many lashings as she gave me. She deserves to be beaten and thrown naked in the barracks for what she’s done. How dare she even raise a hand to me!”

 

She was still in Sandor’s grasp and Sansa could feel the way his muscles tightened at Trant’s words, she could feel the anger rolling off of him. But he clenched his teeth, took a moment to breathe then continued, “I will deal with my woman, Trant. And I will deal with you.”

 

There was a heavy silence.

 

“Go to the Maester, get something put on those wounds. Then you are out on countryside patrol for the next two weeks.”

 

“But that’s out in the middle of fuck all!” Trant protested, clearly angered by this new assignment.

 

“Yeah, exactly.” Sandor said, his eyes burning a hole through his lieutenant.

 

Trant made a move like he might argue, but then rightfully thought better of it. He glared at Sansa, grabbed his armor and, limped out of the stables with his wounds starting to swell.

 

Sandor watched the man leave the barn, clutching Sansa protectively to him. Only when Trant was no longer visible did he let her go, keeping the whip in his hand and taking a few steps back. He ran his fingers through his wet hair and finally turned to face her. The Hound’s whole demeanor changed, relaxing he leaned against a stall door and crossed his arms. Sansa noticed his arousal right away, it was difficult to miss how it strained against his leather trousers, aching for her.

 

“You did good.” He said simply, frustrated by the situation.

 

“The only good thing would have been if I had killed him.” She spat back, her blue eyes darkening.

 

He chuckled and shook his head, “You can’t kill Trant, Magda. He’s a relation of the Queen who wanted to play soldier...so here we are. It would be more trouble for me than it's worth.”

 

The shock was obvious on her face. The Hound continued, “Trust me, or I would have beat you to it if I could have.”

 

“He forces himself on little girls.” Sansa hissed.

 

“And boys, women...you think I don’t know that?” Sandor’s voice strained in frustration. “But I can’t keep an eye on him all the time. And I can’t protect you from him all the time either.”

 

Their eyes met and there was something between them, something that made Sansa’s heart beat faster, that pulled her in. She knew he felt it too, the fire of the forge that was building their relationship growing hotter, despite her best efforts.

 

There was a bit of a swagger in his walk as he came to her, stopping mere inches from her body. Sandor handed the coiled whip over to her, “Tell me you don’t only use this when you’re angry.”

 

She knew that voice, this graveling deep sound his voice had when he was deeply aroused. She could feel his lust rolling off of him, found it difficult to ignore.

 

“My Lord wishes to add more scars to his collection?” She whispered more teasingly than she had wanted, taking the whip from his hand, then running the weapon over the giant bulge in his pants.

 

A feral growl escaped his lips at her words, and he leaned down to smell her hair possessively. “I’m still on duty.” He whispered into her hair, “But you’re going to take care of this later.” He was clearly referring to his erection as he reluctantly took a step back and made his way to exit the stables.

 

Sansa smiled despite herself.

 


 

The chatter in the kitchens that evening made it clear that the Hound was again out on patrol. There had been some trouble on the outskirts of Winterfell, some reports of Ironborn raiding smaller settlements. Sansa finished her work quietly and efficiently, then made her way upstairs to the room she shared with the Hound. It was much like she had left it this morning, except for the fact that the bed had been slept in and not made. It seemed as though he had only had a chance to get a small amount of rest before heading back out. Peering quickly out the window, she saw the red flag signaling the commander was in residence was down, so he still had not returned.

 

Slipping over to the large oak desk, Sansa opened the second drawer and found his diary exactly where she had found it two days earlier. A sheepish grin crossed her face as she took it out of the desk and opened it, unbuckling the leather strap. Inhaling deeply to steady herself,  she opened it up toward the end and started to thumb through the very small selection of new entries.

 

He had added to the diary since she read it. Most of it was mundane, numbers of soldiers and thoughts on how to improve security. Then she saw it, right at the end. ‘And then there’s Magda. It’s as if the gods made her for me, though it’s not like I deserve her. She loves to hate me, or she hates to love me … well love might be a strong word, but I’m working on it.” Sansa smirked slightly at his assessment.

 

‘She reminds me of when I tamed a wild mare in Dorne. This mare was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen, strong, smart  and extremely distrustful of man. Those Dornish pricks said it would be best to use the whip with her, break her spirit though torment and pain. But there was just something about this method that never settled well with me. There was a vibrance to her character that I didn’t have the heart to break. I looked her in the eye and somehow knew it would be different with her, that I had to be different to have her. So instead I taught her what an apple was, started leaving them on the fence post for her. Then got her to eat them of my hand while I put a bridle on her. Slowly but surely, I won her over. She trusted only me enough to ride her, and I taught her how to be a good war horse. In the end she probably killed just as many Dornishmen as I did in that war. It’s no different with Magda. I looked her in the eye and I knew it would be different with her. Knew that I would have to be a better man to have her. She’s weary of me, distrusts my intentions. She hates me for ruling her homeland, for interrupting her life here. I have no doubt I’ve killed friends and family of this girl, that’s why she’s learned to defend herself. Despite this when she lies with me, there’s so much passion between us it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.’ Sansa could feel her woman’s place respond to his words, as if he were writing her a love letter, one she was never supposed to read.

 

‘She came to me as a maiden and yet when I make love to her she can’t help but feel what I feel. With time her protests against my advances will become less and less, and her submission to her true desires will only increase. How can I tell her that the more I make love to her, the more human she makes me? How can I make her understand that her womb holds my future? I can’t--my mouth can’t form the words. So I will show her through persistence and patience.’

 

Sansa pressed the diary against her chest a moment and took a breath, her heart pounding. ‘When she finally accepts me as her man, I’ll marry her under that big white tree the Northerns hold so sacred. Marry her proper, the way my mother would have wanted.’  A tear slipped down Sansa’s cheek, there was something so poetic about his thoughts, about what he wanted to do. Somehow he wanted to be a good man, but all of the circumstances in his life had not allowed him to be.

 

She looked down at the diary again, reading the final lines. It was peculiar, they were just kind of tacked on the end as if he had an idea and left it kind of in the middle. As if he had a quick thought and he wanted to record it before he forgot. ’Perhaps I have been going about things wrong. If the North is to be ruled, we should stop bringing soldiers from outside and start bringing troops from within. The war against the resistance will be won on the backs of the Northern Lords. I’ll appeal to them for support.’

 

Sansa snorted at this and almost laughed. Now it made sense why he was doing so much to maintain the peace outside of Winterfell, the reason he was gone this very evening. The more he helped the North out, the more likely it would be for the Lords to support the claim that was given to him. They were both racing for the same goal, she would have to do everything she could to press her advantage. They had both made their move, now only time would tell who would win their strategic game of chess--Sansa had a sinking feeling that both she and Sandor would not relent until one of them had the other in the perfect position for a checkmate.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Tortured Confessions

 

Two moons had passed since Sansa had begun living in the castle, in her home before the war. In this time, she had been able to gather a lot of information to help fuel the efforts of the resistance. This came in many forms: observations, conversations overheard, and of course whatever written materials she could get her hands on. There were perks to sharing a bed with the commander of the occupying forces. While he did not speak much, as some men do in the dead of night when they are sated and vulnerable, he didn’t need to. The orders that he was given and the conversations he had were enough to keep her and the resistance ahead of his soldiers -- but only just.

 

If Sandor was anything, he was cunning. For every delivery of weapons the resistance stole, for all the uprisings they insighted, and for all the foreign soldiers they killed, the Hound countered them often with little mercy. He was ruthless as a commander: Sansa had come to understand this as the time passed, even admire his grit and determination to govern under the worst of circumstances. She had not been brought up to govern like her brothers or even to wage war, quite the opposite. So she picked up what she could from Sandor with regard to managing a small army. Then used that in turn as she lead her followers from the castle. He was an extremely good teacher, even if his lessons were unwittingly given. His troops had been reduced, leaving him vulnerable with regard to manpower. So the Hound reverted to more political means of maintaining and securing his hold on the North. It was something Sansa had to begrudgingly admire, Sandor’s fluidity of tactics. That did not stop him from striking fear into the hearts of the people, but he took every opportunity to publicly denounce the resistance, blaming them for his iron rule. Much to Sansa’s dismay, it was working. It was getting harder for Gendry to recruit, harder to organize the support they had into something of value.

 

Using her position with the commander, Sansa often did her best to sway the Hound through means only she seemed to be able to employ. She was able to soften his orders and make his judgements more lenient, but it came at a price to the resistance. Whenever he gave a body back to a family or released a prisoner, it looked as if it were his doing - as if he were the one so merciful. Sansa’s work behind the scenes, while saving lives, only promoted the Hound’s image amongst the people rather than her own. It was hard to decide which thought made her sleep better at night: that he was pulling ahead in his ‘charm offensive,’ or that she was saving the lives of friends and Stark loyalists.

 

There was also another problem Sansa had to contend with. The Northern Lords were not all in agreement with regard to who they would support. Baron the Bard had thankfully done his duty;l he had put out the news that a Stark was ready to take Winterfell--was ready to lead. The Boltons and the Karstarks however, headed the minority opinion that they could reason with the South, negotiate better terms with the Baratheons and gain favor with Sandor Clegane. The thought of a Northman vying for the scraps of her lands served up by Southern Occupiers, made Sansa sick to her stomach.

 

So the time to reveal herself was near, Sansa would have to gamble big if she intended on winning the North for her family. She just needed the right opportunity to present itself. To just announce herself as Sansa Stark would not be enough. She was a female child after all, bred to be a Lady--not a military leader. She knew that even those lords who would support a Stark may lose their courage to rise up under the banner of a woman. Sansa realized she would have to prove herself in their eyes, she would have to have an action attached to the power of her name, in order to bring them to her side. So she waited for the chance to give birth to her coup.

 

Though she had the sinking feeling that her time was running short. She knew Sandor was getting suspicious of her. His diary touched a little bit on his true feelings, a passage she read a few weeks before still haunted her. ‘The resistance is too targeted with their attacks to have it be by chance. There is a spy in the castle, perhaps many, I can’t be sure. Everybody is a suspect, even my troops, so I have to stay vigilant. When I find this person I will have them drawn and quartered. But in order to do that I have to smoke out the rat, wait for a moment they cannot resist and then catch them. I’m a dog after all, a rat is nothing to me.’

 

Of course, she was as careful as she could be not to reveal herself. But try as Sansa might, through all the means available to her, she could not, with any degree of certainty, be sure what the Hound knew about her. She had knowingly accepted a certain element of danger when she had decided to venture into the belly of the beast, to sleep with her sworn enemy. Though she had expected her instincts to be sharper, to tell her the moment danger was looming. That would not be the case, as were many things with Sandor Clegane. Sansa had come to realize there were many more shades of grey in life, her black and white world the simplified world of a young woman protected by her family. Sansa Stark was a woman grown now, and with that came the realization of how muddled the world could become when one actually lived in it.

 

Trant had cast suspicion on her early on, whether that bastard knew it or not. Sansa could also not cover up her closeness with the people, her desire to see them safe. There was also something inside her that questioned whether he knew she was somehow connected to the resistance. What bothered her the most was the idea that Sandor did know she was part of it and just didn’t care. It put her on edge to think he was employing the same tactics as she was, keeping her enemy close, more than skin deep. The only advantage she had was anonymity, the thought that he did not know her true identity, and even that could be quickly waning.

 

Though when they were together it was difficult to tell there was such uncertainty building between them. The passion they had once shared only at night was spilling over into the day as well. Sandor had awoken a carnal urge in her that was not easily put back to sleep. Of course, she still protested his advances, argued with him over his treatment of the people, but found herself inexplicably drawn to him more now than before. Whether he took her after they trained with the sword around mid-day, or pulled her into a dark hallway to feed his desire for her almost publicly, she was losing the battle inside of herself to stave off his appropriation of her heart and soul. The Hound was passionate, dangerous, and made no attempt to cover up his true feelings for her. He was wearing her down, invading her not only with his body but with his unflinching love and tenderness.

 

‘Can I be in love with a mass murderer?’ She asked herself often, particularly when she wasn’t able to compartmentalize her feelings. ‘Yet I am a murderer as well. Blood is on my hands too be it directly or through the actions of others.’

 

Sansa did her best to rid herself of these thoughts. Anything that distracted her from her ultimate goal would have to be suppressed-- should be suppressed. Though, as with many things in her life, Sansa could not choose when opportunities would arise or the circumstances under which she would have to make tough decisions. Her life was not her own, it was one of service to her own people. A people she would lose to inaction, should she not choose the right moment.

 

The courtyard of Winterfell castle was suddenly full of noise and yelling, shaking the young woman from her consuming thoughts. Sansa stopped her kitchen duties to peer outside at the commotion. There was a mass of villagers, mixed with soldiers -- the Hound bringing up the front. He looked haggard from a long night’s patrol, his hair loose and matted together, dark circles under his eyes, his shoulders slightly slumped. She knew the resistance was wearing on him, breaking him down as he was breaking her down. Only time would tell who would snap first, who would make the wrong move.

Sandor had a man in his possession--bound and bloodied--he was the captive everybody was fussing over. The Hound was pushing him through the courtyard of the castle to the loud jeering of the crowd. The moment was tense. Sansa felt her blood course faster through her veins. There were many among the crowd of onlookers who would like to see a member of the resistance dead. For the more the resistance fought, the harder the common folk were oppressed. There were others in the courtyard who were booing the soldiers, some rotten vegetables being thrown toward Sandor and his men. He was making a spectacle of it, making an example out of this man. Sansa shut her eyes a moment to charge her strength, knowing what would transpire but hoping it would not.

Sansa peered closer from her hidden spot near the threshold of the kitchen doors. She squinted against the sunlight to make out the man’s face, which was already a bit swollen from the beating he had received. The prisoner’s clothing was torn, his brown tunic and trousers stained with what was most certainly blood. He was a mess, stumbling and tripping over his own feet due to his own exhaustion. Though, as the small group of soldiers made their way past the kitchens, the prisoner’s face became clearer. Sansa was shocked, a chill running through her body despite the warmth of the sunlight. She knew this man well, it was Marcel, a close friend of Gendry’s. If she had to guess one of his most trusted friends and certainly one of the most senior in the resistance. The Hound had finally succeeded in capturing one of her more trusted helpers, captured a bishop in their game of chess. He had strung up pawns before, but they knew very little. Marcel, on the other hand, knew much about their plans and activities. He also knew who she was, knew that the peasant girl Magda was instrumental in forming the resistance. He knew she was feeding them information from within. A rat to be smoked out.

Passing through the gates, the crowd that had gathered to see the prisoner was pushed back. Sansa dropped what she was doing and whipped around through the kitchen to come out the back door. It was paramount she know what they were going to do with Marcel, she had to know what he said. For him to give anything away, a description or even her name, would almost certainly sign her death warrant. There was no doubt that all of the blood had drained from her face, she was shaking at the mere thought of what was going to happen. For as much as she did not want to see Marcel suffer, she also did not want to see her plans for retaking the North fall on a single peasant's words. It was a sticky situation at best, one Sansa had hoped to avoid a while longer.

That didn’t get around the fact that they would lynch Marcel, and Sandor would be at the head. This conflicted her greatly, churned up all these terrible emotions that Sansa had been locking up deep inside of her. She should not feel for a man like the Hound; she should despise his very being. Yet part of her wanted to sooth his raging soul, take him away from violence and war, just as she wanted for herself. Part of her wanted to have this all be a dream, or at the very least, a distant memory. She wanted to wrap him in her arms and give him the peace he deserved.

Inhaling sharply and pushing her feelings for Sandor out of her mind, Sansa tiptoed behind the small group of lynchers, following them to a place behind the stables. She ducked into the building, finding a hole in the wooden wall that would allow her to watch them mostly undetected. Trying her best not to make a sound, Sansa stood there, waiting to see how it unfolded, knowing whatever would happen it would be brutal.

The Hound dragged Marcel out to a chair, surrounded by nothing more than a handful of soldiers. He didn’t tie him down, nor did he tell him to stay, he merely cut his bonds letting the smaller man lay somewhat limp in the chair. It struck Sansa then that it was almost as if the Hound were giving his prisoner a choice, much like he had done with her and the dagger. It was a psychological tactic making the captive feel as though they had a choice in the matter, when they truly did not. It did seem to work as Marcel stayed seated out of pure fear or courage, the line between the two very thin. Sandor threw some water in his face to perk him up a bit, then the questioning began.

Sandor gestured toward one of his soldiers, the young man handing him some sheets of parchment with the sign of the resistance on them.

“These were found in your home.” Sandor began, his voice calm and collected. It belied the way he looked, on edge and exhausted.

His prisoner said nothing.

“Do you deny that you are part of the resistance?” The Hound’s voice grew louder, an attempt to pull something out of the broken man before him.

“No, I do not.” Marcel said, squinting against the sunlight, looking up toward the Hound.

Sansa’s heart sank, she had heard that the Hound was known for his unrelenting interrogations. Though she had never witnessed one, she knew Sandor well enough to know he would squeeze the information out of his prisoner, and not shy away from doing whatever was necessary.

“Tell me about the resistance.” The Hound said, his voice low and threatening.

Marcel said nothing.

The Hound cracked him hard on the side of the head with his large hand, then again with the other hand.  “I said, tell me about the resistance. Who runs it?”

Marcel spat blood at the Hound, covering most of the good side of his face. “Fuck you!”

She watched anger rise in the Hound, his massive fists punching Marcel in the gut and again in the face. Marcel was coughing now, wheezing in pain from the beating. Sandor had easily knocked some teeth out of his mouth, the blood covering everything -- even Sandor. She covered her mouth so her screams would not alert the men. Sansa cringed to see Sandor use his hands for such violence, felt ill at the idea that he used those hands to caress her, even to pleasure her. There was such a brutality to him and it pained her greatly, made her wish things were different.

“I will not ask nicely again. Who runs the resistance?” Seeing that this line of questioning was going nowhere, Sandor continued. “ Let’s start simply. Is it a man?” His voice threatened more violence and Marcel did not answer.

This time Sandor kicked Marcel out of the chair, held him to the ground and beat him, Sansa lost count of the punches, turned away at the sight of his blood flying.

Finally Marcel spat something out other than teeth. “No.” He hissed.

At this the Hound stopped. “So it’s a woman?” There was a hint of eagerness in his voice that only Sansa could have picked up on. It was the same sound his voice made when she encouraged him during their love making. It sounded so strange and out of place in this moment.

Through the swelling and the blood, Marcel spoke again. “No.”

Sandor buried his knee between the man’s legs, eliciting a howl of pain. “Don’t fuck with me you little piece of shit. So what is it, a man or a woman?”

 

Marcel laughed that kind of crazy laugh you hear when your head is getting bashed in and you’ve lost a bit of your senses.

 

“It’s both.” He said finally and Sansa’s heart sank. In a way she could not begrudge him this answer after the pain he was feeling, yet if she could walk over there and kill him herself for his traitorous words, she would. He had not only hinted at her involvement, but at Gendry’s as well.

 

‘Traitor.’ Sansa mumbled to herself, an anger building within her.

 

Sansa could see a triumphant smirk cross Sandor’s face at the news, as if he were confirming something he already knew.

“Tell me about the woman.” Sandor demanded, brining Marcel’s face closer to his own. Sansa gulped, knowing subconsciously why he had zeroed in on this piece of information.

 

His captive was on the edge of consciousness, spitting only more blood and not giving any further information.

 

“Is she a Stark?” The Hound’s voice was commanding as he pulled the bleeding man face to face with him. Sansa couldn’t imagine how scary it must be to have the full breadth of the Hound’s anger upon you as the last thing you see and feel before you die.

 

“Don’t know. She’s a fuckable little piece of ass, with a fire cunt I’d like to stick my…” Marcel never finished his sentence, something in Sandor broke and he took both of his massive fists to the man’s face. There was an anger and a rage in him that confirmed to Sansa what she feared most of all. Through thick tears she watched Sandor beat the man to death, beat his face into an unrecognizable pulp. The Hound’s hands were weapons that could inflict death and destruction as easily as they could coax her into desiring him. He was a torn man, and she was uniquely positioned to observe this were few others could.

 

‘He knows.’ Was the only thought her mind was able to process.

 

Tears were rolling down her face as the Hound stood over Marcel, now very much dead, his face or the shape of his skull would not be recognizable from where she stood. Sandor was defending her honor, she knew it instantly without having to look into his eyes or speak to him. She had felt the way he tensed when Trant spoke ill of her, seen the look he gave when other soldiers dared look at her in a scathing way. Sandor had heard all he needed to to both confirm her identity as a leader of the resistance, and punish anyone who would speak ill of her. She couldn’t stand it anymore, her walls were collapsing she needed to find a place to calm down, to think about what to do next.

 

Sansa rushed through the castle, her tears flowing freely and found refuge in her parent’s bedroom. She threw herself on the bed as she would have done as a young girl, and just gave into the emotions that had been boiling over inside of her since the war had begun.

 

‘What will he do to me? Will I have the same fate?’ She was not afraid to die, but she was not ready to either. She wanted to breathe her last breath in a North that was free, in a North that belonged to her family. So the tears came spilling forth, fear mixed with confusion and anguish. The frustration of her current somewhat powerless position mixed with the unknown bringing her to more anguish.

 

She sobbed because it was hard to reconcile the man she had just seen, with the man she knew he could be. Sansa understood now why he had his name and his reputation, she understood it all and yet she could not purge her own vision of him from her mind. She hated him for killing, but in the dark recesses of her logical mind she understood why he did it.

 

He was not only protecting my honor, but also my identity. ’ It stood to reason that, had Marcel named her or even described her further in front of his men, it could have been disastrous for both her and Sandor. If his soldiers had any inkling that she was part of the resistance, the Hound’s hand would be forced to deal with her as such -- to execute her.

 

‘Does he know I’m a Stark?’ This was the only bit of knowledge that gave her some hope that she would survive an interrogation by the Hound. Something inside her told her that he would never hurt her, but she questioned that now. Particularly after what she had just seen.

 

There was no way for her to stop her tears, she was tired of this. Tired of the constant back and forth, she could feel her resolve faltering, her will failing. She was sick of it, of the death, of the pain, and of the mental strain it was taking on her. Sansa hated what the war had made her, an angry, revenge seeking woman with only one thing on her mind: retaking her homeland. The war had killed the little girl inside her, killed the young maiden believing that anything was possible. Pining after a love that did not exist and was wholly unattainable, yet not knowing it or caring. She hated the fact that Sandor was winning, even though she found him a worthy opponent. Sansa knew that he was taking those childhood desires and turning them on their head, altering her old ideals of what a desirable man should be. Sandor Clegane was weaving these desires in such a way that only he would be good enough for her, that only he was desirable.

 

Sansa’s mind flashed back to the prophetic words Sandor whispered to her their first night together, ‘You’ll never want another man after me. I’ll ruin you.’ He had said it in the heat of the moment, as he was tearing her maidenhead -- his male pride at being her first bubbling to the surface.

 

Smiling at this moment through her tears she found it ironic that he had been correct -- just not in the literal way he had meant it. While his physical attributes certainly surpassed that of average men, Sandor had in truth changed her vision of what a real man should be -- of what characteristics a partner should have. Strong, intelligent, cunning, loyal and tender -- Sansa had not known that all of these could things could be contained within one person. Especially within a man she should not love, but had found herself falling for all the same.

 

‘You did.’ She spoke to her old memory, ‘You did ruin me. No other Lord in Westeros can make me feel the way you do. No other  man would find a worthy opponent in a woman the way you do.’

 

Sansa was crying her eyes out now, tears pouring down her face at an alarming rate, her nose was snotty, her chest heaving and she was unable to catch her breath. It had been so long since she had properly let go, she hadn’t even cried this hard when her parents were killed. The door to the room opened suddenly and the Hound walked in. He hadn’t expected her to be there, but he’d cleaned himself up all the same. The blood that had covered his face, chest and hands was gone. His eyes immediately went to her, assessing her for a physical cause for the pain, upon seeing none he undid his sword belt as usual. His eyes never leaving her. Her crying had stopped suddenly, but there was no way for her to hide the intensity with which her emotions had come flooding out.

 

Sandor’s face was expressionless as he approached her, seating himself on the bed no more than two or three inches from her. Gently he put his hand on her leg, his eyes never leaving hers, “Tell me.” His words were simple and direct, in a tone that said he was intent on listening.

 

Sansa was shaking from anger, pain and raw emotion. She just stared at him a moment, her puffy red eyes filled with tears her mouth unwilling to move. Yet, she knew she had to say something. To cry for seemingly no reason, after that had happened behind the stables and all the old wounds she had reopened, would cast even more suspicion on her. If he knew she was leading the resistance, then there was no point in hiding it. Had the Hound come to do her ill, he would have done it by now, not asked her why she was crying. She sniffled, using it as a cover to reign in her emotions.

 

Finally, after a few very long minutes, she spoke. “You killed that man with your bare hands. There was nothing left…”

 

It never ceased to amaze Sansa how her mind worked. She was taken aback by the fact that this was what bothered her most, the fact that Sandor had ruthlessly beaten a man to death. Not that she had lost a member of her own movement, or even that she felt her advantage over the Hound fading. Rather the cruelty he had exacted with his body, and the realization that he now also knew he was sleeping with the enemy upset her the most.

 

He breathed in deeply, then exhaled sharply as if he had somehow known the subject would eventually come up, but did not quite know how to approach it. So he said nothing, gave no reasons, said no apologies, but instead made to stroke her cheek with his index finger. Sansa flinched and pulled her face back, unwilling to have him touch her with his murderous hands. It was with a soft chuckle and a glint in his eye that Sandor persisted, a gentle finger tracing a line down her face. It was affectionate and warm, not at all reminiscent of what had transpired just moments before. Assuring she would not flinch away again, Sandor then put his arm around her shoulders and brought her to lean on him, kissing her on top of her head.

 

Despite her best efforts she turned her head into his chest, the cotton of his tunic soaking up her trail of tears. Taking comfort in her enemy was the strangest feeling, one that words couldn’t quite describe. Yet it felt right , like he was the only one who could truly understand her hopes, fears, and burdens. The trials of an exiled ruler, the pains of military leader slowly reaching their limit within the confines of her mind.

 

He held her for quite some time, then he spoke. “I have some business to attend to. I’ll be gone for about ten days.”

 

There was no emotion in his voice, and it worried her. “I would take you if I could,” then he paused as if trying to find the words, “...but I think it would be unwise.”

 

Sansa turned her head so as to look into his eyes. There was something firm and settled in them. She said nothing just wiped her own tears from her face. Something inside her feared losing this connection that they had, this fierce companionship born of war and need. Yet his eyes were firm, unyielding in their raw appreciation of her.

 

“If you are not here when I come back,” He continued, “I will kill ten men each day until you return yourself to me.” It was not a threat, not spoken like that at all. It was a promise, an odd profession of the love he had for her, a way for him to say he could not bare to be apart from her.

 

‘He’s imprisoning me.’ She thought, his eyes confirming this as she looked into them. ‘He knows and he wants to keep me here, but for what exactly I cannot say.’

 

Immediately she was thrust back into their ongoing battle of wits. Had he been intent on torturing answers out of her he would have done so by now. Had he despised her for her treasonous acts against him, he would have thrown her in the dungeons. In spite of what must have been rather clear to him, Sandor Clegane had done none of this, and Sansa did not know whether to be thankful or concerned.

  

“My lord values my companionship.” She managed to choke out, a biting sarcasm to her words. He had put her in an uncomfortable position, one she knew he would follow through on -- without hesitation.

 

Sandor let a sarcastic smirk cross his lips in response, then shook his head at her words. He got up from the bed and grabbed a few things he would need for his journey: his thick cloak, some pieces of parchment and a few other odds and ends, as well as his diary. There was an efficiency to the way he moved, a clearness of mind that was so opposite from her current state that it continued to push Sansa back to reality.

 

‘Where is he going? What is he doing?’ Sansa wondered, her mind coming back into the game. His calm confidence instilling a quite awareness in her she had not been able to harness alone in a mess of her own tears.

 

Heading to the door Sandor opened it and looked at her, it was his Lord Commander look, a side of him she rarely saw. He considered something a moment, then spoke. “You shouldn’t shed tears for a rat.” He said finally.

 

Sansa had a questioning look on her face so he continued, “A true loyalist would have had me kill him faster, but he squeeked. He deserved to die by my hand for that reason alone.”

 

With that Sandor walked out, shutting the door behind him. Sansa sat there on the bed, her hair matted to her face with tears and considered his words carefully. Gendry would have never said anything that would have given her away, she would not have said anything either in such a situation. At least she didn’t think she would. Considering the Hound’s words, Sansa shook her head in frustration. He’d said those words to her as if he had been doing her and the resistance a favor by disposing of their trash. Perhaps he had. Sansa knew the resistance could not survive on tortured confessions, that there was truth to Sandor’s dark words. A loyal soldier would have said nothing, would have kept any important information from the hands of the enemy. She would lose the battle if she kept people like this around her.

 

Thinking back on the situation from her vantage point in the stable, she threw her body back onto the furs that covered their bed. ‘I would have killed Marcel if given the chance, once it seemed like he was going to talk. If I had been armed and had a clear shot I would have taken it.’

 

This realization both calmed and frightened her. ‘I too would have done what was necessary to protect myself and the resistance. Just as Sandor does for the crown.’ The thought chilled her, made her confront feelings she did not want to.

 

Wiping her tears from her eyes, Sansa sighed understanding better now what the Hound had told her the first night they had been together. ‘ We’re two sides of the same coin you and I.’

 

Sansa had not wanted to admit it then, but now it was almost impossible not to see their similarities. They were both strong, smart and focused on a cause. Be it for family or the spoils of war, both of them had stakes in this game and neither of them were willing to lose. They were just fighting on opposite sides, nothing more.

 

‘And if we are two sides of the same coin that means as one side looks up the other looks down. All that needs to be done to change this, is a simple flip. ’ Sansa smiled at the idea that their fortunes were intertwined, that she would have to dig deep to find the agency necessary to change this downward turn of her own fortune.

 

She would need to find out more information about what the Hound was doing and where he was going. It was clear to her that he would now go appeal to the Northern Lords for their support, seeing as he had one half of the resistance leadership in his custody.

 

‘But if he follows Northern custom…he would have to feast them at Winterfell.’ A dark smirk crossed Sansa’s face as her plan was coming together. She would need to keep her ears sharp in the kitchen and make sure to be discrete when she spoke to Gendry. Surely they would be able to use this to their advantage.

 

If the Hound were to bring the problematic Northern Lords here, to her home on her turf, then the right opportunity might present itself to put her at an advantage. Today he had bested her, but tomorrow could bring with it a very different chain of events.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Eliminating an Ally

 

Some wars are waged on a battlefield, a sea of green dyed with the red blood of fallen young men. Some wars are fought with words, the persuasive tongue a tool for both peace and treachery. Yet there are those few wars that are fought with whispers, coy smiles and sweat caught between sheets. It was a battle of this particular nature that Sansa was engaged in.

 

It seemed that every kitchen maid had a soldier in her pocket and most of those soldiers had loose tongues. Often on these tongues would be a clue to what they were involved in, a hint of what Sandor Clegane had in mind as his next move. It was through these maids and their diligent tongues that Sansa was able to put together a more accurate picture of where the Hound had gone and what he was doing. It seemed he was closing a deal with the Boltons and the Karstarks, finalizing the terms under which he would give them more power in return for support.

 

Word had been sent, and Sansa could tell by the amount of boars being slaughtered, loaves of bread being baked and tarts being finished that Sandor would bring back around forty men. It was a good number, one that she hoped would bring these treasonous Northern Lords and their sons right where she wanted them.

 

While Sansa could not leave the castle during the day, it did not stop her from sneaking out at night, the secret passage in her parent’s room proving itself an indispensable tool. Their plan was clear, their roles set. Sansa would ensure that the doors to the castle, including the Great Hall, were unlatched. It was known that the night patrols of the castle were weakened in favor of putting more soldiers on the streets of the village to keep order. So it would not be difficult for Gendry to slip his one hundred and fifty or so men into the castle, lock themselves into the Great Hall and slaughter the Northern Lords and the entirety of the Southern command. It would be their coup, it would be an undeniable way for Sansa to cement her power by both eliminating the military minds of the Southern threat and punishing the traitorous Northern Lords.

 

Their plan was not foolproof however, there were many things that could go wrong. So Sansa and Gendry had backup plans in the case that either one of them were captured. They made sure that those they trusted most knew of these plans and prayed to any god that would listen that it would all go to plan. The Hound would return this afternoon, and she would have to be ready to leave him to his fate. Knowing he would be one of the main targets this evening. Sansa knew it was the only way to both rid the North of its oppressors and to free herself of the stranglehold Sandor had on her heart. That didn’t make it any easier.

 

The thunderous pounding of hooves alerted the smallfolk and kitchen maids to the arrival of the lords and their hosts. Unlike the others, Sansa did not run out into the courtyard to catch a glimpse of the lords and their sons parading themselves through Winterfell as if they were some sort of liberators. Instead she stayed in the kitchens away from sight. Should Roose Bolton look upon her face, or any other lesser Lord for that matter, they could very well recognize her. Sansa’s father had often hosted the lesser Lords of the North in their home, many of these men and their sons had watched her grow up. Even some of the knights that might accompany them would have possibly recognized her, so it was imperative Sansa not be seen.

 

She stood outside of the kitchen in the back, a wooden awning covering her from the light rain that fell. Sansa was plucking chickens for tonight’s feast, her back to the courtyard and her hair pulled up into her kerchief.

 

It was a surreal moment for her, one that reminded her of when the Northern Lords had come to feast with her father on occasion. The smell of the horses, the sound of their hooves, the chatter of these men as they made their way into the castle. It seemed a fitting time to play a game with herself, one that she and Arya had often played together during such feasts as children. They would close their eyes and see if they could recognize the voices of the Lords, see if they could tell from their words, manner of speaking or voice who they were. Arya had always been better at it, but now, as Sansa closed her eyes, she could hear the voices of the men she had hoped would come.

 

‘You’re in my home now, and you will pay for your disloyalty.’ This was the thought that went through her mind as she aggressively plucked a chicken, throwing its feathers to the ground.

 

As she continued to tune her ear to the familiar voices, there was one that came into clear range that Sansa had only hoped to hear from afar. “Well well what do we have here? A kitchen wench all alone.”

 

Her eyes still closed, Sansa took a knife she had on the worktable in front of her and flipped the blade so that it was hidden under her forearm, its handle in her hand. She knew the voice coming from behind her and she knew it well, it was Lord Bolton’s bastard, Ramsey. He had a reputation for being a psychopath, with blue eyes so cold and wild they would have put White Walkers on edge. He had scared her as a girl-- the way he had looked at her like a rabid dog ready to attack. As a woman, he disgusted her and she would not hesitate to drive the knife in her hand through his eye if she had to.

 

Ramsey cackled in a way that would turn most women’s blood cold, but not Sansa’s. It made her mind more focused, made her clench her weapon even tighter. She could hear his footsteps coming closer to her, so she would have to pick the right moment. Sansa evened her breathing, willing herself not to turn around just yet. Every sense in her body was screaming, trying to pull her away from danger. Only her mind remained calm and ready.

 

“Ramsey!” It was Lord Bolton come to reclaim his son, “She’s not for you. We have business to attend to with the Lord Commander. You can wet your cock later boy.”

 

Sansa swallowed hard, but felt a rush of relief as their footsteps exited the empty kitchen. ‘Come night you’ll both get what you deserve.’ Sansa smiled at this revelation, putting the knife back on the table and finishing up her work with the bird in her hand.

 

---

 

Working quickly and efficiently Sansa did what she could to ready the Great Hall without being seen by any of the visitors. That usually meant she was holding a plant in front of her face or working with her back turned, even sticking to the darker halls so as not to draw too much attention to herself. There was something oddly comical about her mission, an attention to maintaining a level of anonymity that she had not thought so much about before. Though she had been so successful, she had even eluded the Hound’s ever watchful eye. She had seen him looking for her, his eyes on alert, his nostrils flaring in an attempt to pick up her scent.

 

It was a rumor in the halls of the castle and in the kitchens that the Hound possessed a supernatural ability to sniff out a liar--to track down a traitor and bring him to his fate. Sansa couldn’t personally say if this was the case, but couldn’t deny her intrigue at the mythology that surrounded the Hound. For as ferocious a fighter he was, or as cunning a commander, she saw him for what he was. A man. A man forged by violence and duty, seeking something to save him from his fate. Now that he had found it, he seemed rather unwilling to let it go.

 

Pushing her traitorous thoughts from her mind, she set to making sure the doors were unlatched, the way clear and the young ladies riled up to see their beaus after a long absence. There was an advantage to be taken in drunken Lords and distracted soldiers, and advantage that could turn the tide of an already complicated battle. Gendry had trained his men well, but they were not trained killers. Not like the men that the Hound would feast in the Great Hall tonight. They were farm boys, merchants, and orphans. Young men who would have avoided violence at all costs had they not believed in an ideal--had they not lost family and lands in this war--they would not have taken up arms. Sansa was grateful to them, though the thought that many would die tonight weighed heavily on her heart.

 

Satisfied that she had done all that she could, Sansa feigned illness and went back up to the bedroom she shared with the Lord Commander. Locking the door behind her she sighed almost sorrowfully, ‘May the Old Gods watch over you my loyal men.’

 

She had decided not to leave this room until she was sure that the deed had been done, until she knew that Gendry had gotten out safely. If he were to be caught alive, she knew Sandor would not kill him immediately, he would keep him, torture him and then...eventually allow him to die a slow and painful death. In this case, Sansa had made a promise to herself that she would come forth as the Stark heir. His life for her own, his imprisonment for her own. Her life would be assured, no Lord in Westeros would see it fit to spill her blood. Yet Gendry was a different story. Her friend. Her most loyal soldier. She knew what she needed to do if something went wrong.

 

Stepping toward the fire ablaze in the room, Sansa peered into it, a hopeless feeling enveloping her. It wasn’t long before a familiar scent began to slowly fill her nostrils. As she breathed in deeply, Sansa was suddenly overwhelmed by the smell of him, of Sandor. He’d been there, in this room not too long ago, that much was not difficult to see. His armor was stacked neatly in the corner and the papers on his desk had been moved about. The dutiful host, he had probably changed into some finer clothing, unaware of what was planned for tonight. Shaking her head, tried to refuse her true feelings for him. Her weakness that was the Lord Commander of one of Joffrey Baratheon’s armies.

 

Time was passing, Sansa had taken a seat near the fire, noticing her leg was fidgeting uncontrollably. It was a terrible task, waiting. Sansa sat there, in the dimly lit room waiting for something to happen. She imagined there might be screams and yelling, something that would alert her to the night’s events. Though, looking out the window of the bedroom onto the courtyard she could only see the moon, bright and full and hear some laughing.

 

Guilt began to overwhelm her. ‘ Sandor.’ Her mind went immediately to him. Something inside her begged that something be done, pleaded with her to save him from this end.

 

He was a warrior, certainly one of the best, if not the most feared in Westeros. ‘If our boys see him slice through their friends like butter, will they run?’

 

Sansa was suddenly gripped by fear, wondering how much the Hound could tip the balance in his favor. ‘But if he’s not there, perhaps Gendry and his men have a better chance of winning the day…’

 

There wasn’t much time to consider the consequences of either allowing the Hound to stay in the Great Hall or having him absent when the fight started. What Sansa couldn’t shake was that awkward feeling of knowing that this world was a better one with Sandor Clegane in it. That his absence had made her heart grow fonder and stronger.

 

‘If he is to die by my orders, then it should be by my hand. Nobody else’s.’ There was an unwritten honor to their little game, one that she was not willing to break.

 

Sansa didn’t have much time. Quickly she removed her maid’s uniform, splashed some water on her naked body and threw on a long yellow robe, which she tied at her waist. There was no mirror in the room, so she did her best to arrange her hair with her hands ensuring that it was long and flowing. Sandor liked that, he had always enjoyed her cascading auburn locks. Her bare feet making almost no sound on the stone floor of the castle, Sansa made her way to the Great Hall. She peeked her head out from the service entrance, taking in the sights and sounds of Sandor’s feast.

 

Most of the Lords and their entourage were drunk while the music played. There was laughing, jeering, and the typical murmur one would associate with celebration. All soon to be ripped its seams. It looked as though the Hound had prepared a special dessert for his guests, as some handpicked whores were roaming the room, laughing and caressing their clientele. Sandor sat away from it all, at the head table with this feet on it, leaning back in his chair. He was alone on a slightly heightened dias, while the others were below, preparing for the debauchery that would surely happen that night.

 

A whore walked over to Sandor and tried to put her hand on his chest teasingly. To Sansa’s unknowing relief he slapped the whore’s hand aside with authority and pointed to the other lords in the middle of the room. She smiled knowing that he was hers and hers alone . Her breath caught at the sudden realization that she had unknowingly began to domesticate the wild beast that struck fear in the hearts of men. It was an enthralling feeling one that warmed her aching heart.

 

Sandor was close to the service entrance, perhaps only ten paces or so. Sansa would have to chance being seen,  if she wanted to get his attention, walk out into the open and expose herself to the random eye of a Lord or Knight. In this moment she didn’t care, she had to get him out of the hall as quickly as possible.

 

Her eyes took a moment to assess the massive back of the man in front of her. He wore a tunic in the color of his house, yellow. His trousers were of black leather which hugged his legs tightly. His posture was relaxed, perhaps even slightly contemplative as he reclined alone at the head table. Reaching her hand out to his shoulder, Sansa was not unsurprised that he knew her touch, that he didn’t push her hand away. Sandor turned his gaze to her, just slightly behind his shoulder.

 

“I’ve missed you my Lord, is it not time to come to bed?” Sansa began. Her voice was low, coming out much more alluring than what she had expected. Though she was able to keep the urgency she felt from surfacing, it surprised even her. “Your guests are being well served, there is nothing more for you here.’’

 

Sandor raised an eyebrow, clearly skeptical of her advances but not unhappy to see her. “I thought you didn’t like what we did at night.”

 

Brining his feet to the ground, he pulled Sansa by her arm so that she had no other choice but to fall in his lap facing him. Her legs were slung over the arm of the chair, her butt firmly in his lap. Sandor’s encompassing grey eyes inspected her closely: perhaps to discern her true intentions, perhaps because he had just missed her. It was often very hard to tell just where his thoughts were.

 

Sansa wasn’t sure if she could ever get used to Sandor’s disarming stare, the way his eyes roamed over her with the sort of militaristic efficiency that made her weak in the knees. She answered him truthfully, knowing he would be able to detect a lie.

 

“I’ve grown quite fond of our intimacy my Lord.” She paused, their eyes locked together, Sandor’s calloused, rough fingertips gently drawing a line from her neck down the open part of her robe between her breasts.

 

She swallowed. “So much so,” She leaned in to whisper in his ear, “that I have come to pleasure myself in your absence.”

 

That seemed to catch his attention, his lips finding their way to her neck. Sansa leaned into him, enjoying the feeling of his rough stubble against her neck and shoulder. Titillating was the only word she knew to describe it; his warm breath making her skin form goose bumps in its wake.

 

“What do you use to pleasure yourself?” He whispered in her ear, an eagerness returning to his voice that she had long not heard. A hand gripping her ass more firmly to his lap.

 

Blushing Sansa pulled back so she could see his face and replied, “With my fingers my lord.”

 

Groaning at the thought, Sandor took the offending hand in his and held to his mouth, “And which fingers do you use?”

 

She wiggled her index and middle fingers to his wicked grin. He took both her fingers in his mouth and sucked them, Sansa could feel her nipples getting hard, her body a slave to his touch. But she could not doddle now, she needed to get him out of the hall as quickly as possible and keep him busy.

 

“They are sufficient, but not like you my Lord.” She did really want him, she could not deny that her body called out for him, desired him above anything else in this moment.

 

Smiling with the promise of more she gripped his forearm with her other hand, “Come my Lord. I’ve missed you in our bed.”

 

When she pulled again he came with her, though she couldn't help but wonder if it was the candle light playing tricks on her or if she saw  a slight questioning look cross his face briefly. His logical mind questioning why she might be pulling him from the dining hall. Though he seemed to either go along with it, or decide there was not threat. Once through the servant’s entrance he pushed her against the wall, his arms wrapped tightly around her, his erection pushing into her hip.

 

“How about I just take you right here?” His lips were kissing her ear, his hands grabbing at her the skirts of her robe.

 

It was too soon. She needed him to be further away, and their bedroom would be far enough he might not even hear the commotion of killing and anguish if he were adequately focused. She had to think fast.

 

Sansa pushed against his chest breaking their kiss, he thought it was rejection, she could see the fear and anger in his eyes flash briefly. Her warm smile pulled him back to her. Rolling up on her tiptoes she whispered in his ear, whilst bringing his hand around her bum, “Well my Lord I thought we could try something new…”

 

She brought his fingers to draw a line between her ass cheeks, hoping he would get the idea. Sansa had heard some of the kitchen girls talking about this kind of sex, that it made men crazy because it was rare to get that kind of sex even from a whore. She desperately hoped it was true. Sansa kept her eyes locked on his, preying he couldn't sense the trepidation flowing through her body. It seemed he had not, for a boyish grin crossed his weathered face, then he kissed her.

 

Gods she had missed his lips and his passion. Sansa had been empty without it. She had missed the feeling of levity that being intimate with him brought her. Missed the fact that it made her forget everything, and just live.

 

Sandor threw her over his shoulder then, giving her a proper smack on the ass before bringing her effortlessly through the castle, up the tower stairs and to the bedroom they shared. Ducking to make sure she didn’t hit the doorframe, Sandor brought her into the bedroom where a fire was still roaring, the mood set. He slid her down his body slowly so she could feel ever ripple and very curve of his muscles. It sent a shiver down her spine, made her wet between her legs. As her lips came closer to his he claimed them again, devouring her as if he were a man half starved.

 

Leaning her weight forward he gladly followed her lead, backing up until his legs hit the bed a bit harder than he had anticipated and forced him to sit down on the mattress. Intent on not losing her lips he did his best to keep her face close to his, even though she was standing over him now. Sansa ran her fingers over his massive shoulders, consumed by the feeling of having a strong, sturdy male at her will. Finally, when he came up for air, Sansa shot him a coy smile and took a few steps away from her standing position between his legs. Turning her back to him she slowly and as sensually as she could possibly imagine, began to remove her robe.

 

There was no mistaking the state of his manhood in those tight black leather pants, it was beyond motivating. She slipped the robe slowly over her shoulders, looking back and Sandor just in time to watch a slight moan escape his lips. He wasn’t the type to enjoy teasing, preferring to get down to business. Yet he had  a sort of sheepish grin on his face as the fabric gently slid down the rest of her body, revealing her curves to him. He liked it. Smoothing her hands over her breasts and down her hips she moved toward him, turning just at the last moment to settle her bum in his lap.

 

Sandor moved quickly to secure her hips in place and to snake his other hand around the front of her, cupping her sex. She thought for sure he would want to explore the uncharted territory of her bum first, as she had promised him, but it seemed like he had other plans.

 

He rubbed his fingers over her very wet, very aroused pussy, then brought them to he his nose. Sandor inhaled her musk deeply, as if it were sweet perfume. “I want your sweet little cunt first.” He whispered in her ear, “I think it missed me.”

 

Sansa groaned at his words, rubbing her bum against his aching erection. There was no doubting how he felt about her, his kisses to her shoulders and neck so delicate purposefully placed. Sandor twisted her now so that she playfully spilled onto the bed where he had been sitting. He was standing now, looking down at her fully naked form stretched across the furs there.

 

“Show me what you did when I was gone.” He ordered, a gruffness in his voice that told her just the thought of watching her touch herself might be enough to have him find his pleasure.

 

Sansa blushed from head to toe at this request, finding it difficult to understand why somebody would take pleasure from watching such an act but not participating. Her heart skipped a few beats as she considered how best to begin, feeling almost ashamed to touch herself in front of him. Though, as he slowly unlaced his britches with the intention of taking himself in hand, she felt a little bit better about the whole situation.

 

She closed her eyes first, feeling it better to pretend she was alone. Laying back on the bed and bringing her knees up so her soles of her feet were on the bed, she began to gently rub her women’s place. Quickly dipping a finger in and bringing the accumulated moisture outside, so she could better caress her outer lips and the small nub at the top. Some soft moans escaped her lips as one hand tweaked a nipped and the other continued to slowly chase her own pleasure.

 

It didn’t take long for her to hear the unmistakable sound of Sandor moving his hand over himself. She opened her eyes then, to find him stroking his engorged length furiously, a deep love etched in his features. She motioned with her free hand that he come closer, he did presenting her the weeping tip of his cock. He had missed her, she could see that. It was that lost look in his guarded eyes, the desire that had long bubbled over that tipped her off.

 

Starving to taste him, Sansa eagerly grasped his cock and brought it to her lips. He was musky and salty, some of his lubrication already coming out of the tip. She could hear him mumbling, “Gods” and “Fuck” as she kept both of her hands busy. The sheer empowerment of her situation was enough to heighten her own pleasure, Sansa moaning loudly with Sandor’s cock in her mouth as she found a particularly good rhythm with her fingers to penetrate herself. She was close already, no mistaking the moment she could feel her pleasure nearing the surface.

 

All at once Sandor quickly withdrew his cock from her mouth, then took both her arms and pinned them over her head, stuffing his aching manhood deeply into her ready heat. The change in the size of what was inside her, mixed with his scent and the knowledge that he was inside of her sent Sansa over the edge. Her inner walls were contracting around him, her back arching against the bed and her tears falling against his marred cheek.

 

“Please...please...please…” that was the only word she was capable of uttering. Sansa didn’t quite know what she wanted. Was she begging him to love her, or to pleasure her, or to never leave her again?

 

He felt right moving inside of her, Sandor’s strong arms wrapped around her, his lips on her cheek and neck, his steel hard manhood reminding her of the intimacy of their relationship. When she felt his body stiffen, the warmth of his seed flood her body --  a confirmation of their bond. An unconventional way of telling her that, no matter what could happen, nothing could break the ties they had to one another. That he wouldn’t let anything come between them. She felt this in the way he kissed her so greedily, held her so close and nuzzled her with an affection she knew he was not given to.

 

Flipping her so she was on top of him, Sandor licked a finger and wrapped it around her bum, teasing its entrance. He was still hard, rock solid to her surprise. Over their short time together she had come to expect and appreciate his virility, but this was something that was even uncommon for him. Her palms now flatley on the mattress on either side of his head, she slid herself over his cock almost lazily, enjoying the feeling of him that she had missed so greatly. It had the effect that every time she slid to sheath him fully, his finger would gently press  against her bum.

 

Sansa squeaked at the sudden pressure in a place she was not used to.

 

A broad smile crossed her partner’s face as he then pushed his finger into her, up to the first knuckle. “Just relax naughty girl.”

 

There was a beauty to his smile that she was sure few people had ever appreciated before. It was an honest type of smile, one that saw the edge of his marred face curl up in a way it almost never did. It was an indication that the flesh there was still alive, aching to be as much a part of life as the normal side of his face. Only then did she realize how much it suited him, his disfigurement showing on flesh, the conflict he held in his heart. Sandor was beautiful to her, with all of his blemishes and all of his faults; she could not deny that she would somehow, always be his.

 

Sandor bucked his hips to indicate she should focus more on his cock than his finger. Bringing her hands to his shoulders, Sansa closed her eyes gave into the feeling of joy to the utter wantonness she had been storing up inside her the last days he had been gone.

 

It wasn’t hard to lose herself, to trust her lover so much that she would just let go completely. It was in such contrast to what she should feel, to what she know she should do while in the presence of her enemy. But her draw to him was too strong, her feelings for him too deep to want to do anything else. What she had been fighting against inside herself all this time was now dead and in its place pure unbridled desire.

 

There was no way to know how long they had been locked in their lover’s embrace, the only thing that shifted Sansa from her thoughts was the sudden jerking of Sandor’s body under her own. Her eyes opened to see his face contorted in pure pleasure as he released for a second time. It was a violent release one where she was sure she would leave bruises on her hip from where his fingers were digging into her. Sansa smiled, it was only now she noticed that she had managed to accommodate both his large manhood and his complete finger. It brought her pleasure to see him smiling, exhausted, happy with their little experiment and sated. Gently uncoupling herself from him, she layed on her side and observed him. There was an utter peace and fragility to him now, his chest heaving slightly from exertion, his eyes closed, his face almost happy. Sansa was sure that he had not had the opportunity to feel happiness in his life, at least not often. She wished this was the normal way of things and not the exception. This feeling utter bliss and happiness was, unfortunately, a casualty of this terrible war. Something she had certainly taken for granted.

 

Sansa trailed a finger down Sandor’s chest. She hadn’t really noticed until now that he had been wounded, parts of his arms and chest healing. “These are new my Lord.”

 

This seemed to wake him from his contentment, his eyes opening and his arm scooping her flush with his body. “Aye.”

 

“My Lord is very brave.” She said, feeling the rush of relief that came with the idea that his aggressor had gotten the rawer end of the deal. Her fingers still tracing the wounds on his chiseled chest.

 

At that he shook his head and chuckled, “You know its not bravery little killer.” He looked into her eyes a moment longer, their steel grey disarming her. “I like to do it. I live for it. The only other feeling that even comes close is the one that I get, when I’m here with you.”

 

It was difficult to contain the tears that were racing toward her eyes, Sansa smiled at his odd, yet rather heartwarming declaration of love for her. Sandor always had a strange way of telling or showing her how deep his affections for her ran. That sentence alone told her many things. That he lived for her as she somehow felt she did for him. It told her of his respect for her, one few men had for any woman. Sandor’s finger stroked her cheek in their silence, his eyes were peaceful looking, beautiful, and hers alone.

 

She opened her mouth to say something when the door to their rooms burst open, forcing her lover to whip around his hand reaching for his sword. To Sansa’s utter disappointment it was Trant, that meant that her men had not fully completed their mission. She did her best to keep her expression shocked looking and not disappointed, pulling the covers over her naked body.

 

“My Lord ... come immediately!” Trant had blood on him, as his glance turned to Sansa it morphed into a glare. “We caught the leader, but...they’re dead...they’re…”

 

“What the fuck is going on Trant?” Sandor’s voice held an anger and alarm, his senses firing all at once.

 

Sansa heart dropped to her feet at Trant’s words. She clutched the furs closer to her body hoping her trembling would pass for a sudden chill.

 

Trant was stuttering, too high on fear, adrenaline and gods knew what to speak a cohesive sentence, “Northmen my Lord. They killed them all...all the…”

 

The sniveling man didn’t need to finish his sentence for Sandor to put it all together. “Secure the castle now.” Sandor barked his order as he jumped out of bed and went for his sword and armor.

 

She could hear the anger in his voice, feel the rage radiating off of him as the Hound readied himself for battle. Sansa hoped he had forgotten about her, suddenly scared by the intensity of his mood. Pulling his sword from its sheath, not bothering to tie his sword belt to him, Sandor finally turned to her. The expression on his face was a conflicted one, one she was not familiar with. It was a awash of anger and disbelief that the entirety of his guests had just been slaughtered in his absence. But there was also something else, that cheeky sort of grin you get when you know you’ve been out witted and you’re up for the challenge. He knew she’d saved him from possible death, but also stopped him from intervening -- Sansa cocked her head to the side as if to dare him to say it out loud. To say he had lost this round and to thank her for keeping him out of harm’s way.

 

Instead his eyes fixed to her, keeping her in place. “I’m locking the door from the outside. And if you move from that spot...I’ll kill him.”

 

Sansa knew who he meant, even if Sandor did not yet know himself. If Gendry had been caught he would not hesitate to kill him if she left. There was no point in hiding it now, he knew ...and he knew he could make a plan to gain the upper hand using both her and Gendry. Having both leaders of the resistance would be the best way to suppress it. Yet she could not be quite sure if he knew what she had in store for her southern oppressors.

 

“As you wish my Lord.” Sansa inclined her head, not able to suppress the the feeling of triumph she felt. They had known the chances they would win the day now, were small. She and Gendry knew what needed to be done.

 

Sandor snorted, a slight grin crossing his face as he left their quarters, the sound of a wooden bolt locking in place soon following.

 

Sansa closed her eyes for a moment, in order to calm the hammering of her heart. She had a backup plan for this, one that she hoped would work. Her goal for now, was to keep Gendry alive and to capitalize on the embarrassment she had imposed on the Hound. They had eliminated some of the Hound’s allies and, in so doing, put the other lords on high alert. She would need to take ownership of this plot, the time to reveal herself was close.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: Unraveling

 

Sansa had managed to dress herself and return to her seat on the bed, exactly where Sandor had left her. She knew he would appreciate her taking his words very literally, in truth she was too scared to test his threat on Gendry’s life. So she waited, she waited and did her best not to unravel while she did so. Her mind was awash with the possibilities of what could be happening right now -- at times giving into the temptation of her most horrific blood stained thoughts. The fear of discovery, the pain of losing her best friend, her name and her birthright all in one day. It made her head pound, her blood run hot then cold, the hair on her neck stand up. In the end she would always come back to herself, reign in her feelings that threatened to run away with her. Sansa knew that if she wanted to win this war, she would have to gamble big, she would have to beat the Hound at his own game, she would have to take the combined forces of the Lannisters and the Baratheons head on-- she would have to achieve something her father could not.

 

She would have to win.

 

Though try as she might, it was incredibly difficult to quiet the raging storm within her. Hours had passed since the offending Northern Lords had been slaughtered, that much was clear from how high the sun was in the sky, yet Sandor still had not returned to their room. This unnerved her.

 

‘He’s torturing Gendry.’ Sansa knew it, knew it deep down in her soul.

 

There was no doubt in her mind of what Sandor was capable of -- she had witnessed it herself. There was also no use in shedding tears, no utility in getting angry. Both would divert her from her true mission. From what had driven her to order such a bloody act to be committed.

 

‘I’m too close to throw it all away now.’ She reminded herself, remembering the faces of her mother, father and brothers -- killed over titles, pride and stupidity. ‘I will finish the war the way it was intended.’ Her vow not one to be taken lightly.

 

Sansa raised her head to the sound of the bolt moving, the heavy door to her parents’ room opened. When her eyes met Sandor’s she could devine nothing from their grey depths, as if he had cast blinders over them with the intention of keeping her out. It hurt, she realized. This act of resistance had caused him a lot of grief, with ramifications she could not even fathom. Yet she cared little for those things right now. Instead she sat there with this silly feeling in her heart, hoping that he still loved her -- knowing there was so much more at stake, yet praying he still held a spark for her.

 

“Come with me.” He said to her with a softness that calmed her raging mind.

 

‘He looks defeated.’ She said to herself. He looked like she had the day she had fled her home, the day her family had been slaughtered -- she and her remaining siblings scattering to the wind. There was a tiredness to his posture and a sadness in his facial features that told her this. Sansa did not wish that feeling on anyone, knowing how deep it cut.

 

‘This is war.’ She reminded herself sternly as she rose from the bed and took his hand. ‘War has no place for love and no room for emotions. They are the victims of war, not the purveyors of it.’

 

Sandor lead her through the castle, down its twisted staircases, along its dark halls and back to the place where their evening had begun. The door to the great hall was closed, two soldiers guarded it. They were not at the service entrance, where she had entered and whisked her lover away the night before, they were at the main entrance -- one of the doors she had been sure to leave open. The soldiers nodded upon seeing their commander and opened the doors for him eyeing her suspiciously as they did. Sandor pulled her through with him, bringing her in front of him and pushing her further into the room. Sansa closed her eyes, hearing the heavy clang of the doors close behind them.

 

“I thought you might want to admire your work.” He said, turning her to him -- his large hands on her tiny shoulders. She opened her eyes then, looking into his deep grey hard eyes. Once he was sure he had her full attention, he turned her around gesturing to the entirety of the room. His voice had changed too she noted. Gone was this kind of heaviness that had overpowered it moments before, in their rooms. In its place a spark, a hint of admiration tinted with the challenge of a competition.

 

Swallowing hard, Sansa took a step forward and did her best to interpret the mayhem that lay before her eyes. What struck her first was the smell. It was the scent of a whore’s perfume mixed with fresh blood and the smell of excrement -- it seemed your bowels emptied when you died for the smell was almost overwhelming. She fought to keep her stomach from turning inside of her own body, swallowing again so as to make sure she wouldn’t throw up. Nobody was alive here, except for her and the Hound. It was hard to count how many there were, but she could be sure there were many souls here. Their lives ending in a horrific fashion, clear even in death -- in the dead silence of the once boisterous Great Hall.

 

The Hound was testing her, this much she knew. It wasn’t a test to see if she was the leader of the resistance or not, that detail seemed to be more fact than speculation. Sansa was struck by the thought that he was much more curious to see if she could stomach her own orders, if she could be confronted with the consequences and not break down -- as would be expected of woman.  

 

‘I will not show weakness to him here. Not now.’ It was a strange sentiment, given Sansa had shown him almost every side of her over the last weeks -- whether willingly or not. She had cried, laughed, loved and hated in front of him without concern, but this was something else.

 

Sansa’s head did its best to process what her eyes were seeing, and it could only be understood as ghastly. The floor of the Great Hall were covered in congealed blood, there was almost not one part of the grey stone there that was not in some way blemished with the blood of the men who had breathed their last breath there. Surprisingly Sansa found herself looking to see if the men she had hoped would perish in this trap had. Her eyes scanning the room, she forced them to look at each twisted face, the last expression of the living man etched on to them. Most held a look of surprise, some fear and a few others anger.

 

‘Yes. You brought this on yourselves lying with the enemy.’ Though the irony of her thoughts was not lost on her, Sansa noted that she had been able to compartmentalize her feelings of duty and loyalty to her name. She had proven to herself that, despite her own personal feelings, she was ready to do what needed to be done to reclaim the North. She had grown as a leader as it was something she had not trusted herself to do when she had first returned to the castle. Sansa exhaled, pleased with this affirmation of her own mental strength.  

 

The Boltons were dead, which pleased her beyond measure. She would have to move quickly to secure the Dreadfort, of that there was no question. It would serve as a prize to those Lords who would serve her loyaly from the beginning. Sansa narrowed her eyes when she realized that Alys Karstark was not among those dead, but that was of no consequence. His father was dead and the boy would serve as either a good hostage or easy prey once she came to power, of that she had little doubt. He had always been weak in the shadow of his father and this was what she would capitalize on.

 

Among the dead were, of course, her own men. Men of the resistance, those who had fought over the years with her to unknowingly secure her kingdom. They were a smattering of boys and men from completely different backgrounds, a hatred for the crown of the South strong within them.

 

‘May the old gods rest your souls and bring you to the peaceful place.’ She prayed, knowing the gods had favored them last evening.

 

Finally, when all the faces of the fallen had been looked at, their eviscerated bodies splayed across the floor of her home, a testament to their death, Sansa turned calmly to the Hound. His large arms were crossed over his chest, making him look even bigger than normal. He had been studying her, he often studied people -- that was the reason he was good at what he did. Sansa was sure to look him in the eye without fear or weakness, allowing the deathly silence of the room to speak for her. If it could have spoken it would have said, ‘I am satisfied with this outcome and do not regret it.’

 

After a long while of looking at her, the Hound finally spoke. “I could very well lose my head for this show of arrogance.”

 

Sansa smirked at this comment, feeling in control of herself for the first time in a very long time. She slowly bridged the gap between them, resting a hand on his large warm chest. “I’m sure you’ll manage. You always do.”

 

He snorted, a grin begrudgingly taking over his face. They stared into each other’s eyes a moment, the spark she had so hoped for still burning strongly. Lacing his fingers into her hair he pulled her into a long deep kiss. It was never easy for Sansa to understand his motivations. Kissing her passionately, clutching her tightly against him in a room full of dead men would have been disgusting to most, off putting to others, but not to her. Sansa had a faint idea of what it could be -- a love so deep that nothing could bring it ascunder. He was power, the culmination of strength and maleness that had forged their current world; she was was cunning the embodiment of patience and will. It was not self evident that they could meet one another on the same field of battle and find themselves well matched. They were diametrically opposed in many aspects, and yet the draw between them was so strong -- the respect even more so. The knowledge that together they would be more than formidable -- perhaps even invincible flooded her mind.  

 

Her thoughts were interrupted when he broke their kiss, pulling his face away from hers to look at her. There were no words in their language to describe what she saw in his eyes. Sansa just knew that she felt it too, that he was hers and she was his -- pure and simple.

 

“I’m going to hang him.” Sandor said evenly, slipping his hand from her hair to her chin, grasping it affectionately in his large hand, “Then we’re putting this thing to bed. For good.”

 

Sansa knew what “this thing” referred to, the resistance against him and his men. The resistance against the Southern Occupation. The feeling that swept over her was one she could not express easily, ‘ He doesn’t fully understand yet. ” She realized.

 

There was no putting this to bed, she would win her lands back or she would die trying. Smug confidence rose in her as she realized he only had part of the picture, not all of it. She opened her mouth to say something, but the door to the great hall flung open. “We’re ready Lord Commander.” Was what the man said as he saluted Sandor.

 

Their eyes never left one another, a war of words and wills being fought between her ice blues and his steel greys. There was no doubt in her mind how much she wanted him now, unable to fight the urge of letting his conflict play out between the sheets. But Sansa knew better, ‘You are my greatest weakness and my greatest strength.’ She told him through her eyes. ‘That’s why what will happen today will be so hard.’

 

Plans were in motion, events that she cold no longer stop or control. Gendry had been captured, which meant, if all went to plan, that she could not stop the forces that be from her true desires. Sansa didn’t want to. For today, if her preparation came out as well as she had hoped, today would be the day she claimed both her crown and her freedom.

 

A schooled expression on her face, Sansa followed Sandor from the dark hall through the narrow passages of the castle and out into the blinding sun of the courtyard. She didn’t smile though she wanted to, the setup of the gallows, the area where the execution was laid out, was as she had told the others. ‘This could still work.’ She thought to herself as they walked there.

 

The platform of the gallows was several steps above the ground, wooden with three nooses prepared. Each noose had a trap door underneath it that would be triggered by a leaver, hence dropping the body through this door. At the moment the executioner was still doing some last minute checks, straw dummies hung in the place of men in the middle of Winterfell’s courtyard. It was a promise of things to come, a reminder that blood price was the payment for their crimes.

 

‘There is no such thing as a bloodless revolution.’ Sansa told herself, as she walked up the stairs of the gallows together with the Hound.

 

What Sansa had not counted on was that the Hound would put her up on the platform where the gallows were and not with the crowd. ‘He fears I will flee.’ She mused.

 

She breathed in deeply, steading her wild nerves. It was an odd moment to admit to herself that Sandor looked rather dashing, having found his sword belt and settling it round his waist. Her lover didn’t need armor, or at least it seemed. His build was so imposing, his strength obvious even to the casual observer that it seemed like a futile pursuit to oppose him openly. Taking her by the arm, the Hound brought to a chair and seated her next to Trant. Both she and Trant regarded one another with distaste as she sat down uncomfortably next to him. The last time they had opposed one another, she had won. Grinning at the thought she took her seat. Like Sandor, he had his weapon but no armor - unlike Sandor he was not as physically imposing. Having learned from the best Sansa eyed Trant in her peripheral vision searching for his strengths and weaknesses. Her eyes roving his body for weapons, studying his posture and zeroing in on his most vulnerable spots should she have to confront him physically.

 

A large crowd had gathered in the courtyard to watch this hanging. There was always a crowd when it came to public executions, but there were more here today than usual. Word had most certainly spread about what had happened in the Great Hall, it would soon make its way to the other Lords. This was exactly what Sansa had wanted, but she needed to take responsibility, to mark it as her own. Put the mark of House Stark on it. She had to bide her time.

 

There were three nooses hanging in front of her, each with a small staircase affixed to it for the hangman to tie the nooses to the wooden structure. They were collecting the straw men now, making space for actual men -- her men. The drop was not far, Southerners liked to watch those being executed dance, so the falls were usually never long enough to break a man’s neck instantly. Sansa had also counted on this as she squirmed uncomfortably in her chair.

 

Noticing her apparent unease Trant leaned in, “Your man is gonna hang just like that.” He grinned at the prospect of unsettling Sansa further.

 

She narrowed her eyes, knowing what was to come. Sansa chose to say nothing, allowing Trant his last bit of superiority while she sat next to him.

 

Knowing that she would have to keep the Hound in view, Sansa turned her head to where he was. Of course he was keeping a very close eye on the crowd -- some of his own soldiers visibly scared of what another peasant uprising could mean their own lives. He was jostiling them making sure they were on the look out and proud, not scared. The murmur of the crowd was growing of course. Some of peasants were staring at her, looking at her and talking amongst themselves. There was a different taste to the air today, something that electrified everybody without any obvious reason.

 

‘Do they know I’m Lord Stark’s daughter?’ she mused to herself, ‘Do they know that I’m here to free them?’

 

All eyes turned toward the castle as those prisoners to be executed were marched out. There were not so many in the end, which meant most of Gendry’s men had gotten away. ‘Now I know why are are on edge.’ She grinned to herself, despite being nervous.

 

Everything she had been doing had built to this point. This was, in a very twisted way, the moment she had been waiting for her whole life. The moment she had played over and over in her head these last three years. Sansa’s heart clenched when she saw Gendry walk out, the last of the bunch. He had indeed been beaten, his two black eyes and the bruises that covered his chest were indications of that. If there was any man who could stand up to Sandor, it was most certainly Gendry. She felt easier seeing that he was not broken, but instead holding his head high and defiant.  As he was lead up the stairs to the platform Sandor eyed Gendry suspiciously, a twinge of jealousy in his eyes not easily hidden.

 

Gendry’s eyes, on the other hand, fell to hers.. ‘It’s done.’ She thought to herself and to Gendry, ‘Everything is set. Now I have to give in to the unknown.’

 

It wasn’t an easy thing to accept, the inability to control your rise to power. Knowing that, despite all the planning and the work it had taken you -- years of investment -- that it could all hinge on one fleeting moment in time.

 

The first three men were hung, the creaking of the rope making an eerie sound as the crowd watched. Sansa didn’t turn away, nor did she flinch. The eyes of the first men bulging out of their heads, their legs kicking and twitching as their life was slowly strangled from them. She knew there were eyes on her in the crowd, she knew that weakness would be frowned upon and transmitted to the Northern Lords.

 

She also surveyed the crowd, doing her best to see if her men were already there. Sansa was pleading to every old god that would listen that they had not lost faith, that her men had been emboldened from the night before -- that they would trust in her leadership and do what had been agreed upon. Yet, from her perch next to Trant high atop the platform, she could not tell one peasant’s face from another. They all seemed to look the same, none of them standing out from the crowd.

 

Her heart stood still as the executioner motioned for Gendry to step forward. Sansa felt like she would faint from fear -- die from the mere thought that her friend might breath his last breath. Gasping for air as if she were in his place, Sansa breathed in erratically as they tied a noose around Gendry’s neck. Her heart was beating so loudly, she was surprised nobody could hear it above the murmur of the crowd. It seemed deafening to her, a terrible feeling that took over both her throat and her chest.

 

Sandor read out the sentence, as he had for the first group. He was standing on the far end of the platform, away from her. Gendry was nearest to her, perhaps ten paces just in front. She wondered for a moment if Sandor had done it on purpose -- but had to shove this sentiment from her mind as she eyed the crowd again.

 

Her lips went dry as did her throat, Sansa’s fists clenched so tightly her nuckles were turning white. The sentence read aloud to completion, the hangman began to pull the leavers leaving Gendry’s for last. She heard the door open, saw how he tensed his strong neck in order to fight the deadly pull of his weight downward.

 

‘Come on!’ She was screaming in her head, ‘ Come on, do something!’

 

Her mind and body were slowly giving up hope, watching Gendry tense and thrash against the weight of his own body. It was a sickening sight, knowing he was in pain and just waiting for something to happen. Almost as if a prayer had suddenly been answered, an arrow flew through the air so silently she had not noticed it until it had passed partially through Gendry’s rope, slamming into the wall just to the right of Trant’s head. It made her jump, its impact loud against the wall.

 

‘It’s not enough. ’ She realized, as Gendry was still flailing around on the end of the noose -- the arrow had failed to sever the rope completely.

 

There was a shock in the air, the heaviness of it permeating the warm day as Sansa moved to action. Trant had already started to stand as she whipped around in front of him, grabbing his sword with both hands, pressing her foot against his stomach and pulling at the weapon as hard as she could in a bid to win it from him, just as Sandor had been teaching her. The sword came easily, and, as she watched an expression of surprise form on Trant’s face, she made sure to lean into his direction, thereby pulling the full blade of his sword across his unarmored belly. She had disemboweled him, his guts making their way to the floor, though Trant had not realized it yet. Satisfied with that, Sansa ran with the heavy sword the couple of paces toward Gendry and, using all of her might, swung the sword toward the frayed rope, cutting him loose. Looking down she saw people catch him, Gendry taking a breath despite how red his face had become.  

 

‘Gods be good.’ She said to herself against the mayhem that had since broken out.

 

The crowd was now in chaos, those fighting for the resistance had begun to engage the Hound’s soldiers in open combat. Those not fighting for the resistance were running, screaming and panicking as people were being indiscriminately cut down. Spotting one of her men atop a large white horse, Sansa motioned to him and he ran the horse through the crowd toward the platform. She new better than to make her way down past Sandor -- it was a gamble she was not willing to take.

 

Dragging the heavy sword behind her Sansa made a run for the edge of the platform. That was when a huge whistle rang out through the air, she turned to see Sandor -- a calmness about him that seemed almost overstated in this moment of chaos. He had not yet drawn his sword, nor did he seem to care about what was happening around him.

 

“Sansa!” He yelled, using her true name. It was loud enough for most to hear. She smiled. “I will find you. Don’t forget my promise!”

 

She took him in one last time, memorizing his features. She smiled at him, her auburn locks carried by the wind, wanting to engage in the chaos just as much as any other fighter there. Sansa knew his words to be true, knew the depths he would go to for her -- knew that this would not be the last time their paths would cross. She blew him one last kiss then jumped on the back of the white horse. Grabbing his sword with both hand’s Sandor pulled it from its sheath a feral grin on his face, entering the madness which had become the courtyard of Winterfell with such deadly efficiency she had to turn away.

 

“The North Remembers!” She cried in the chaos. “The Starks are back!” Her men chanted this several times as the battle raged on. It was done, the real battle had begun.

 

They rode out of the courtyard as quickly as they could, not looking back. They had done it, they had managed to save Gendry and start the revolution. She would need to work on the Northern Lords now, she would need to quickly unite them and use this momentum to move forward. The Hound’s grip on power, and by proxy the crown’s, was unraveling -- it would only be a matter of time now. It would only be a matter of time before the North would be free.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: Unconditional Surrender

 

Sansa knew the Hound was a man of his word, she had expected him to follow through on his threat. As such he executed ten able bodied men every day. There was no explanation given, no crimes were read out, no public plea for her to return made. It was a deadly dealing meant to be kept between the two of them. It was a ruthless promise, one born of a purely egotistical desire -- to have her.

 

At first Sansa had done her best to ignore it, choosing instead to focus on gathering the Northern Lords and building the armies they had since pledged to her. She had shown herself resourceful, cunning and with the ability to lead -- that was enough to win her father’s fickle bannermen to her side, to gain the reigns of power once again. They would lay siege to Winterfell, that much was clear -- but timing was key and Sansa needed to wait. But for every day she waited, her people suffered. It had become unbearable.

 

‘He knows me well.’ Sansa thought to herself perched upon the branch of a tree in the forest, watching the window of her parent’s old bedroom in Winterfell castle.

 

While she could turn a blind eye to many things, the continued decimation of her people was not one of them, and the Hound knew it. He was not afraid to use violence as a means to bring her back to him -- she admired how effectively he had used his power and his personal knowledge of her to draw her in. She cursed it as well, knowing she was giving him exactly what he wanted. It had been over two weeks since they had rescued Gendry, escaped the castle in a near mythical fashion and began to build their forces. She was disappointed it had only taken two weeks to get her to this point, to draw her back to the castle he still occupied. But she had to, Sansa needed to negotiate an end to the killing.

 

“You can’t go back to that monster. Uh...my Lady.” Gendry had pleaded with her earlier that evening.

 

“I’m not ‘my Lady’ to you.” Sansa had reminded him, putting a hand reassuringly on his shoulder. “I must talk with him, I must see if I can negotiate a stop to this violence -- maybe I can even get him to vacate the castle without drawing any blood.” She knew that probably wouldn’t be the case, but hope had gotten her this far, so there was no reason not to try. “He knows he cannot win against the combined forces of the Northern Lords. Perhaps he can be reasonable.”

 

Gendry hadn’t liked her answer, but could also not say much against it. Of course there was a chance Sandor could capture her, throw her in the dungeons and use her as a pawn in this political battle. Somehow she knew he wouldn’t, Sansa felt it deep in her bones. He would see it as petty, the easy way out. If there was one thing she knew Sandor Clegane liked, it was a challenge. To cage her would be to deny himself one of the things he admired most about her. It was unlike him, even in a moment of desperation. At least she hoped so.

 

Sansa pulled her cloak closer over her body, it was cold this night and Sandor seemed to be staying awake longer than usual. She snorted a quiet laugh at the thought knowing he hated doing paperwork above all else, ‘Surely we’re giving him more grief than he bargained for.’

 

The King must be livid at the recent developments, the lands his father had secured in the war now in limbo. Ravens had been seen coming and going from the castle in record numbers. Those that had been intercepted by her men had calls for arms in them -- pleas for reinforcements from a King now fighting a war on two fronts. Highgarden was not bending to the will of the Lannisters as easily as the King, or the Hound had wanted. So their number of reinforcements were thin, which played into her favor.

 

Sansa sat a while longer in the darkness, contemplating her next move until, finally the candles were blown out, the room dark. Sansa felt the nerves gathering in the pit of her stomach, not sure what to expect when she went to him. There was no use in denying she wanted to see him, even touch him -- or have him touch her. A mirthless smile crossed her lips at the bitterness of their reality was also present in her mind.

 

‘You are my greatest weakness, and my greatest strength.’ She repeated to herself, knowing that if this were a different time, with a different King, in a different moment she would have given up her birthright to be with him. The world had made Sandor the way that he was, yet she could see there was so much more in him than war, blood and killing. But it was clear that, in this life, neither one of them would be able to escape the monsters war and necessity had turned them into.

 

Sansa sighed waiting a while longer after the candles had been snuffed out. She needed to be sure he was asleep when she came into the room. Just incase she lost her nerve. Climbing down from her perch she took Trant’s sword, which had been leaning against the tree’s trunk, strapped it to her waist and made her way toward the castle. The secret passage that lead to her parent’s room came out from a small cave in this forest. She knew this route well having used it several times herself, twisting her way through the moonlit woods and taking a left at the old oak tree. Once at the cave Sansa lit a lantern hidden in the rocks and made her way through the caves moist interior. She stepped carefully over the wet narrow staircase that lead to her parent’s room. Finally, she found the door, a latch on her right hand side.

 

Breathing in deeply, Sansa pulled the latch and gently pushed the door out -- the false wall sliding surprisingly quietly in the dead of night. Not much had changed in the room since she was last there. A dim fire did it’s best to give warmth and light to the dark room, some moonlight spilled in through the open window. Sansa took a moment so that her eyes could adjust. Closing the false door quietly behind her. Then she tiptoed to the large bed they had once shared. Sandor was sleeping on his belly, his massive back open to the air, the furs haphazardly strewn across his waist.

 

They had not been apart long, but even then she felt like she was appreciating his physique for the first time. Even at rest he had a deadly look to him, he made you feel small and weak -- insignificant if you let him. Sansa never had, perhaps that was why he liked her so much. Smiling at that thought she took her time to observe him at peace, her eyes memorizing the shadow every muscle cast, each scar that graced his warrior’s form. Ignoring the pull of arousal she felt, Sansa stood close to the bed and unsheathed her sword.

 

Inhaling deeply she pointed the sword toward him, then spoke. “You sleep soundly for a man with so many enemies.”

 

At these words he inhaled, opening his eyes and immediately zeroing in on her. It was a warriors instinct, how he jerked himself awake. The way his nostrils flared at the sight of her told Sansa that she had surprised him -- a feat few men could boast.

 

Understanding he was not in any real danger, Sandor turned in the bed and sat up. His hair hung over one side of his face, allowing her to see the unscarred side in the pale moonlight. She could see he was happy to see her, feeling a bit of relief that couldn’t be overstated. He stared down at the sword, observing it a moment then his eyes went back to her.

 

“Trant’s sword never looked so bloody sexy in his hands...and so deadly.” His wide grin was enough to further confirm to her he meant her no ill will. But even then she could not play fast and loose with her own life or even her own freedom.

 

Not able to hide a cheeky smirk from her face she kept the sword pointed in his direction. “I’ve come to parley. So I would expect you give me all the rights therein, meaning free passage back to my headquarters.”

 

At this he laughed, a full boisterous laugh. “Well...I guess I don’t have much choice, given you’re pointing a sword at me. I saw what happened to the last guy you pointed a sword at…” He let his words trail off, the headyness in his voice cued Sansa in to his arousal. Sandor had always liked her with a  weapon in hand -- he had always appreciated both her mental strength and her capability to protect herself. Surly the thought of her eviscerating Trant had brought him great pleasure over the last few days.

 

Nodding Sansa sheathed the heavy sword pulled a chair up and sat down, crossing her legs taking a more relaxed posture. He eyed her from his position on the bed, a feral hunger in the them she had rarely seen before. She eyed him back, a curious yet cautious look in her eyes. They both knew what was at stake now, there were no more secrets between them. There was an exhilaration to it, sitting across from your enemy. The titillation of knowing you are equally matched - trying to keep yourself three steps ahead of them.

 

“Do you know what I’ve come here for?” She asked, a regalness about her she had not shown him whilst in his custody.

 

Sandor crossed his arms across his broad hairy chest, observing her intently. He was probing for weaknesses, scanning her for any way he could get the upper hand. It excited Sansa more than she let on, pressed all her buttons in all the right ways. It was as if her were disrobing her with his eyes, trying to find where she would give into him. It kept her on her toes, her mind a blaze with how best to counter him.

 

After some moments he spoke. “I would say you’ve come to agree to an unconditional surrender.” He paused a moment then continued with complete confidence, “I’ll let the Northern Lords live, and forget this whole thing ever happened when you become my wife. Relinquishing your armies can be discussed after or during the bedding, whatever you prefer.”

 

Sandor wore a smug expression on his face, one that told of a certainty regardless of whether he was coming from a position of power or not -- she knew he wasn’t. The expression on his face also told Sansa that he knew it too, but just had the audacity to ask for exactly what he wanted. That was something Sansa admired about men, how they could lie to themselves even when the odds were so stacked against them. She would have to remember this as she took power and would deal with the Northern Lords.

 

Sansa leaned forward confidently, crossing her arms on her knees, allowing her cleavage to push out a little further in the dim light. She smiled sweetly, “That’s what I’ve always liked about you Clegane. Not just a fantastic cock between your legs, but a sense of humor too.”

 

At this he laughed, an affectionate and rather proud look in his eyes. “I need wine.” He said to her as he jumped out of bed, his trousers still on.

 

‘He never wore trousers to bed when I was here.’ She mused as he walked across the room and poured two glasses. As he came back to her she stood up taking the glass from him, but sure to watch him drink first. She couldn’t be too careful.

 

After they had both drank deep, not all that far apart from one another, Sandor wrapped his arm around her, pulling Sansa flush with his body. “How about we make use of my...most endearing weapon?” He whispered roughly in her ear, pushing his aroused manhood into her hip.

 

She could smell his skin, with that earthy spice she had come to connect with sex and arousal, with unbridaled pleasure. It was hard to resist, it took all her will power to stop herself from giving in.

 

“How did you know who I am?” She whispered in his ear unable to control her free hand from moving idoly down his chest, “And for how long?” They had been questions burning in Sansa since she had escaped Winterfell.

 

He chuckled into her neck, his tender lips nipping at its nape, his beard tickling its sides. “How did I know what?” He whispered, far more intent on seducing her than answering her questions.

 

Dropping her glass to the floor and pressing her palms flat against his bare chest Sansa pushed back, taking her neck out of his reach, “Don’t play dumb with me Sandor Clegane. You are far too intelligent for that. Tell me!”

 

Seeing he was defeated in his bid to seduce her Sandor took another sip of his wine and sat down on the bed. “That you were in the resistance? Always.”  He said it as if it were common knowledge. “No woman gives a man a death stare like you did in the market, nor does she fight like you did in the barn unless she believes in something.”

 

Clearly the look on her face posed another question, it was confusing why he would not have taken more action against her. How he would have so easily slept with her. “I didn’t know how high up you were, but I figured out you were important. Keeping you so close I was able to watch you and wait, much like you were doing with me.”  

 

He paused a moment, as if considering whether to tell her the next part or not. Then a naughty grin crossed his face, “It was only a matter of time before my seed would take. Before my child would grow inside you. I gambled -- hoping it would be sooner rather than later, knowing that it would be easier to persuade you to end this foolishness with a child in tow.”

 

He said it almost heartlessly which didn’t fit with the other things she knew about him. “In your diary you speak of…”

 

He cut her off, putting his glass on the table and, almost embarrassingly running a hand through his hair, “Of course you read that...fuck!” She could see his mind was racing, going over all of the things she could have found out about him and his plans through his diary.

 

Sansa had outsmarted him on this front, clearly he had not factored in that she could read or even knew a diary had existed. He shook his head as if admonishing himself for the stupidity that was keeping his own thoughts on paper, a move in their chess game having been taken away from him,

 

“Then you know how I feel about you.” He said finally his eyes met hers. There was a vulnerability in them she had not seen before. “You know I would do anything for us to be together. Lie, steal, cheat, murder -- nothing will get in my way. Not the gods and certainly not a Northern army.”

 

There was something overwhelmingly beautiful about his devotion, about his loyalty to her and what she meant to him. It was a dark devotion, that brought with it a passion that was impossible to resist. It would consume her. In any other moment this would have been a romantic gesture, one a poet might quip -- but as they were on two sides of a complicated war Sansa couldn’t help but understand it as a threat. She had underestimated his cunning, hadn’t thought about what it might mean with a child in play. Sansa fought the urge to bring her hand to her belly.

 

Sandor continued, “What always surprised me though was that you never asked a Maester or anybody else for moon tea.” The way he said it clued Sansa into the way he was thinking, this bit of smug male pride that he had when it came to impregnation. “I always wondered why?”

 

“A Maester might have recognized me.” She offered weakly. Truth be told she had not even considered that their actions could have lead to a child and how that would have affected her strategy. She couldn’t help but admire his long term planning and reprimanded herself for not thinking that part of their relationship through.

 

Sandor never responded, he just looked at her -- the feeling that just the implication that she wanted his child was enough to put a smug grin on his face.

 

Sansa instead crossed her arms from where she stood, unable to keep the bit of jealousy for his forethought out of her gaze. “And when did you know I was a Stark?”

 

At that Sandor smiled, their game of chess had been intriguing for him and she wasn’t sure if he was going to give up all his secrets today. “Well, I had my suspicions of course. But I couldn’t just go around saying I had a Stark in my bed without being sure.” He leaned back on the bed and propped himself up on his elbow, “Sooo...when I was wined and dined at the Dreadfort I just dropped it into conversation.”

 

She nodded then, but he continued anyway. “Seemed Bolton’s bastard had quite a thing for you. Could describe you in nearly perfect detail.” Sandor’s eyes washed over her, taking in her beauty. “You did me a favor in the Great Hall that night, saved me the trouble of killing that creepy son of a bitch myself.”

 

Satisfied with his responses, Sansa moved on to the business at hand. “I’m here to ask you to stop the executions. If you do that and vacate the castle, your men will not be harassed on their way South. Let’s end this without blood.”

 

At this he sat up cocking his head to the side as if she’d just asked the most ridiculous thing she could. “No.” He said simply. “The executions have served me well. Why would stop doing something that is getting me exactly what I want?”

 

Sansa narrowed her eyes. “Then we will storm the castle. Your men won’t stand a chance.” She said with more force.

 

Sandor stood then, “Go ahead.” He had a knowing smirk on his face, as if he enjoyed making this difficult for her. Knowing she expected more but instead giving her very little.

 

“With the amount of men you have and your defenses, I think you should reconsider. You have one moon to take all of your men and supplies and leave.” She didn’t want to sound pleading, but feared it had come out as such.

 

“I don’t need to reconsider anything.” Knowing an opportunity when it presented itself, he moved toward her again, putting both of his large hands on her shoulders. “You have no idea who I am dealing with on the other end. The King’s mother is not one to be crossed. If I walk out of here and just hand it over to you without a fight, I might as well chop off my bloody cock and hand it over.”

 

Sansa eyed him for a moment, knowing what he told her was true. He was stuck, caught by duty in a place he did not want to be. There was nothing she could say or do to change his mind, he would side with the hand that feeds him. He would side with the King.

 

‘Two sides of the same coin.’ She said to herself, remembering what he had whispered in her ear the first night they were together.

 

After some moments passed, Sandor continued, “The war will not be an easy one. One of us could perish.” She looked at him unsure about where he was going with this. “So I think it would not be so stupid to feel that sweet little cunt of yours around me one more time. What do you say?”

 

His arms were wrapped tightly around her, his lips on her ear. She loved it when he talked like that, it was so dirty and so exhilarating that it made her dampen her smallclothes almost immediately.

 

“No.” She said, too halfheartedly for him to take as the truth. She could see she was getting nowhere, her hopes for negotiating a great peace falling on the Hound’s deaf ears.

 

Ever the vigilant warrior, he easily spotted his opportunity to gain the upper hand. Sandor moved one of his hands to her bum while pushing his tongue deep inside her mouth. Sansa couldn’t deny she had missed him, that she had wished for him to warm the bed next to her. Her hands traced the well known curves of his chest muscles, the tips of her fingers curling in the hair there that she so loved. He was pushing her so hard with his kissing that she found herself backed up to the bed, her calves against its frame.

 

With a cheeky grin on his face, Sandor swiftly turned her around then playfully pushed her on all fours on the bed. Whipping her head back around to look at him, she asked, “What are you…”

 

He was unlacing his britches with the naughtiest of smirks on his face. “I’m about to show you what a dog does to a she-wolf in heat.” He licked his lips as he saw the flash of recognition on her face. Taunting him she pulled her skirts over her bum, exposing her legs and dampened underwear to him. He wasted no time pulling the small bit of cloth down and taking his position behind her.

 

Removing her sword belt quickly, Sandor’s fingers traced the curve of her bum. The grunt that escaped his lips as the tip of his engorged cock grazed her sopping entrence was a clear indication of his excitement. Sansa could smell her own arousal even from where she was -- it was clearly spurring him on. He was teasing her through, rubbing his head up and down her swollen cunt enjoying the feeling of her that he had very obviously missed. Grabbing a few pillows that were in reach, Sandor brought them under her belly. She had never been taken this way by him before, so she wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Looking back over her shoulder, all she could see was a blissful look on Sandor’s normally sullen face.

 

He shifted on the bed, squatting behind her and lining himself up with her entrance. A bit of nervousness overtook her as she realized how powerful his strokes would be in this position, his thighs were strong from long days of riding, powerful even when tired. Before she could squirm or protest he had gripped her hips roughly and brought her back onto him, bringing himself flush with her bum.Sansa gripped the furs tightly as a moan of pleasure so deep escaped her lips, that it could have been mistaken for howling.

 

She hadn’t remembered him being so large, the stretching of her woman’s place to accommodate him bringing with it a strong and much appreciated pain. ‘ Gods he’s made for me.’

 

Sandor kept them coupled a moment, slowly circling his hips as if to feel every bit of her insides with his cock. He was groaning in pleasure and the feeling of her tightness, committing it to memory as if this were to be their last time together. For all they both knew, it could be. Without much time to dwell on that point, Sansa was immediately brought back into the moment by Sandor’s strong and steady strokes -- the tip of his erection coming just to the cusp of her pussy before being fulling pressed back inside.

 

“Deeper!” She found herself yelling, much to his satisfaction.

 

He had pressed her so her belly was on the pillows, her ass up in the air and her arms were almost fully stretched out in front of her. He was properly fucking her, his pace insistent, the strength and depth of his penetration making his balls slap against her body rhythmically. His power was immense, his need of her even more so. It was making her scream at the top of her lungs, grip the bed with such force she was certain she had broken a nail or two. It was difficult to breath, the intensity of her buildup so strong, that she wasn’t thinking straight or able to comprehend what was going on. Yet he continued, his hips moving steadily, his fingers depressing her flesh, her wetness making it easy to have him glide inside of her bottoming out every time.

 

Even as she found her release, the force of her muscles so strong as they contracted in pleasure he would not stop. The profanities coming out of her mouth were making her blush, the stars in her eyes a sign of how overwhelmed her body was by his prowess. Sansa could feel Sandor’s rough fingertips trace a lazy line down her back. He leaned over her, taking her chin in his hand and turning her face to kiss him. In contrast to their rough coupling, his lips were soft and tender. There was love in his kiss, a desire so deep she could not fathom it.

 

Moving his second hand over her stomach, be paused there a moment then wrapped his arm around her, pulling her in a seated position on him. He was sitting back on his legs his face against the back of her shoulder. The hand that was on her chin now had pulled down her neck line of her dress and begun fondling her breasts while the other was teasing her clit.

 

“You’re spoiling me.” She breathed, gripping his thighs with her hands and using her strength to move herself up and down on his arousal.

 

He merely chuckled at her words, while lavishing attention on her nipples. ‘I’m going to die here.’ She concluded, not sure how much more pleasure she could take before she exploded. ‘A happy death to be sure.’

 

“Turn around.” He whispered in her ear.

 

Reluctantly uncoupling herself from her partner, Sansa turned to see him adjust himself so as to sit upright his legs stretched out on the feather mattress. Removing the burden of her dress Sansa came to him with a smile, eagerly straddling his lap and taking him inside her one more. Sandor brought her legs around his back so her ankles crossed. His lips were at her chest then, his hands guiding her to move on top of him.

 

Sansa rolled her hips enjoying the feeling of having him so firmly inside of her. Her cheek was resting against the burnt side of his face, she was gripping him as if she never wanted to let him go, and in fact she didn’t. She was a ruler and as such had no right to be selfish, expect for here, with him. She could indulge her true feelings in Sandor’s arms, give herself to him without any hesitation. Sansa smiled at the thought that she had indeed surrendered to him unconditionally -- just not in the way he had envisioned.

 

Their lips met, their tongues clashed and she began to thrust herself harder over his cock. Sandor’s breathing was changing, she knew he was close. “Marry me.” He gasped between heated kisses.

 

Sansa’s heart sunk at his words. For as much as she would have -- for as much as she wanted to -- duty would not allow it. Not now, perhaps not ever. She had fought so long and so hard for this, for the loyalty of her father’s bannermen, for the support of her people. To marry their oppressor would defeat the purpose of what she had accomplished. Nobody would understand and there was not a good way to make them. She felt a hole in her heart at this thought, a sadness sweeping over her.

 

Bringing her hands over his chest she said, “You are a rather shrewd negotiator Clegane.”

 

He smiled, his hands now flat on the bed, meeting her motion with his own burying himself deep inside her willing body, “Do I take that as a yes?”

 

Refusing to answer his question, she kissed him, knowing that she could no longer hold back the power of the release that had been building inside her. Her walls began to shudder, her head began to feel light and when she found her peak so did he. Flipping her on her back he pressed his manhood deep inside of her, he wanted to be as deep inside her as he could -- she knew that now.

 

They held each other for some moments, forgetting the the looming war ahead and just being content with themselves. If it were up to Sansa they would just stay like this and never leave. She wanted love in her life, she needed it -- but she couldn’t have it all. She would have to let go of something, and that something would have to be him. Lifting his head, Sandor looked into her eyes. He was true to his nickname, a dog on the relentless hunt for a rabbit. Intent on getting an answer to the question he asked her in the throws of passion. He had meant it, Sansa knew he was anything but frivolous with his words. His grey eyes drilled through her, trying to enter her thoughts, her desires, her soul.

 

“I am not free to do as I please.” She began, a bit more choked pu than she had wanted. “I have a duty to…”

 

“Fuck your duty.” Sandor cut in. “We’ll make it work, we’ll do something.” His eyes were firm, but not angry. He was frustrated with the whole situation, a man used to getting his way had little patience for such discussions.

 

“Give up the castle, pledge allegiance to me, and I am sure we can find a mutually beneficial solution.” She was serious, her blue eyes searching his for an indication as to how he would answer.

 

Sandor laughed ironically and threw his legs over the side of the bed, running his fingers through his hair in irritation. “It’s not as easy as you make it seem. There are forces at work that neither one of us can control.” He didn’t look at her, just straight ahead, pain etched on his face.

 

Sitting up to meet him, Sansa put a hand on his shoulder, “Then it seems we are both bound by duty.”

 

There was an uncomfortable silence between them. Sneering he shook his head, angry at the situation and not knowing how to get out of it. His fists clenched and his breathing changed for a moment -- then it passed. He had succeeded in containing the raging beast that was stirring inside him. “You’re stubborn, you know that?”

 

Smiling softly Sansa answered, “And you are unreasonable.”

 

Sandor shook his head as if he knew something she didn’t, though he wished this knowledge to be intuitive to her. “You will have it your way this time. I will give you what you want, but I will take no pleasure in this war. It is one thing to fight against a great power, and another to become that power. You’d do well to remember that.”

 

“The sun is coming up, I need to leave.” She moved her eyes toward the open window in order to avoid his gaze and his eyes followed. Bits of vermillion sun rays covered the horizon indicating early morning was upon them.

 

Sandor nodded, taking a short moment to bring her forehead to his as if in prayer. It was a sign of closeness, a sign of devotion in the West. Sansa snaked a hand around his neck in return as a tear fell down her face. It seemed like a crime not to be able to tell him how much she loved him. He deserved better than that, but she could not give it to him now. Perhaps she was too prideful, or too set on winning to allow her weakness to be spoken aloud.

 

Dressing quickly and picking up her sword belt, Sansa threw her cloak over her shoulders, the cowl over her hair. Sandor too had donned his clothing and a cloak, a torch in hand. Taking her by the hand, Sandor lead her through her home, down the back staircases and out a backdoor to avoid the guards. There he opened a small door to the outer walls and took her in one last time.

 

‘I love you.’ She said to herself as she looked at him one last time. She hoped he could feel what she felt, knew he had an uncanny knack for it.

 

It was with a heavy and empty heart that she turned and walked out of the gateway, not once turning around as she disappeared into the dawn light of the forest.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Wars Have Been Waged Over Less

 

Sansa ordered the assault of Winterfell fifteen days later. True, she had given Sandor one month to vacate her familial home, but he was naive to think she would have actually waited that long. Time was of the essence and the longer she waited the more her power waned. They attacked at dawn, the air crisp, gentle orange hues just popping up along the horizon. It was a beautiful day to become Queen of the North, there was no way she would not see this through.

 

‘Today there will be a Stark in Winterfell.’ She promised herself as her armies fell upon the castle.

 

There was no escaping the feeling of dejavu this moment gave her. The only strength she could pull from it was knowing that, this time, she was on the other side of the assault. Things had been so different then. Sansa had been a girl, he head full of nonsense -- dreams of marrying a fair noble knight from a good family had been all she ever talked about. It had angered her younger sister to the point of tears and annoyed her older brothers beyond what they could comprehend. She had been born and bred to be a Lady, and she had intended to live up to the expectations of that role.

 

Her recollections of these moments were bittersweet. ‘Being a lady doesn’t win you your birthright. Courtesies don’t topple an occupying force.’

 

Perhaps her sister had been right, perhaps she had just been a stupid girl. At least then. There were very few who would call her a stupid girl now, and if they dared she would see to it they were taught their courtesies. Yet, for as strong and capable as she had become, she longed for just a small moment where she could let go of her cares. The burden of surviving, as well as the burden of ruling had crushed the little girl inside of her -- had made Sansa something altogether different. Sandor was the only person who saw her for what she had become, and loved her for it. True, it was a dangerous love -- one that would tear down mountains and put innocents to the sword just to be near her. But it was their love, something unique, indescribable and better left as such.That was why today would be bittersweet. She would both win and lose something of great importance, and it would take all her strength to do the right thing.

 

Turning her eyes back to the battle, Sansa was relieved to see that her men were meeting little resistance. Just as she hoped, Sandor’s men were unprepared and unwilling to make a hard stand with such small numbers. They were in a foreign land after all, strangers here with family in the South.

 

‘Why die in this dark godforsaken place?’ She smirked darkly to herself at this thought.

 

What her advisors had estimated would take three days to do, they had done in three hours -- chaos reigned supreme. Winterfell was defensible, but only if you had the right amount of men with which to do so. As the Hound’s had been taken from him for the war against Highgarden, his defenses fell quickly, allowing her collected armies to storm the castle. It would be a slaughter, she had ordered that no one be left alive -- the message had to be clear to the Southern King and those who fought for him -- even Sandor. To step foot in their lands would mean that you never returned.

 

‘It’s actually happening!’ She said to herself as she watched from atop her horse.

 

Sansa was close to the castle, hidden in the woods for her own safety. Gendry would have never allowed her to be in the vanguard, particularly now. That would not stop her however, from doing one final thing. She only hoped it wasn’t too late. Inhaling deeply she waited for a lull in the noise, a signal that things were calming down, then made her way to the castle. Nobody there knew Winterfell castle better than Sansa Stark. Its twists and turns, secret passages and deep dark halls. She and Arya had played together as children here, her adventurous younger sister pulling her unwillingly into the most awful of places. The effect was that she knew the castle, felt at home there, free to do as she pleased when she pleased.

 

Dismounting her horse, Sansa entered a small mausoleum in a clearing in the woods. It was old, the stone covered in moss, the lettering nearly illegible. Ducking inside she lit a tortch and searched for the proper stone, the one that opened a hidden door. Smiling once it depressed, she made her way through this door, which lead underground to the crypt where her ancestors were buried. Nobody would expect her now in this place, at least she hoped so.

 

‘When it is all said and done I will make sure you are interred here.’ She offered in silent prayer to her fallen family members, ‘We will do it correctly so that you may finally rest.’

 

The end was near, and a new era just beginning. Excitement coursed through Sansa’s veins as she passed the crypt, made her way up some stairs and peered out to the courtyard. Death was everywhere, neither her eyes nor her ears nor her nose could escape its presence. She waited a moment, making sure that she could find a clear moment -- then she made for the main part of the castle. She drew her sword, as she had been taught, but hoped to all the gods who would listen that she did not have to use it. Seeing all was rather quiet, Sansa tiptoed up the stairs catching her breath as the realization hit her that this was harder than it should have been. She shook off this thought and continued on her way, she had one last thing to do, one last person to see.

 

The door to her parents’ room was slightly ajar, and her chest clenched hoping she was not already too late. The sound of a desk being rifled through alleviated that fear almost immediately as she stuck her head in the room, to see Sandor on his knees rummaging through some documents, his back to her. Too focused on what he was doing to notice, she came behind him and again, pointed her sword at him.

 

“You can leave those here, but take the diary -- there’s some traitorous stuff in there.” She had a smirk on her face as he turned around, the sword almost perfectly placed at his throat.

 

His hands up in surrender, Sansa could see the pain in the Hound’s eyes. Anger at the overwhelming defeat he would suffer today, pain that she had not agreed to be his wife. A storm raged within him, one she could not quiet. It pained Sansa deeply to see him like this -- hurt, wounded. Part of her would do anything to take the pain away, hold him, kiss him, deny him nothing. But for as much as she loved him, the war that Robert Baratheon began would always stand between them, until they could knock down the past and create their own future. It was a luxury neither one of them could afford. Not now, and perhaps not ever.

 

Their staring contest had gone on too long, “If you’re here to kill me woman, then crack on with it!” He yelled, making her insides shake from the reverberations of his voice. Taking the sword in his hand he brought the tip to his throat, its sharp edges causing blood to form on his bare fingers.

 

She hated it when he did this, wished his own death by her hand. It had not been the first time they had found themselves in such a situation -- only this time it was very different. The tables had turned, and she saw fear in his eyes for the first time ever. The fear that she might make good on a promise she made him long ago, to kill him when the time was right. From the strategic standpoint, this was the perfect time -- and he knew it.

 

Waiting a moment to collect her emotions, Sansa could not stop a single tear from rolling down her cheek as she spoke, her sword still trained on Sandor’s throat. “No.” She started, knowing there was no easy way to tell him, but knowing she would have to. Sansa Stark was many things, but not so heartless as to deny him this.

 

“I will not be a kin killer this day.” She said, her voice as even as possible, her words unyielding.

 

The effect of her words were automatic, their full meaning crystal clear to him from the moment they left her lips. Gently pushing the tip of the sword aside Sandor opened her cloak and pressed his burnt cheek against her belly. It had swollen in the last days to a place where others had begun to notice, there was no hiding it anymore.

 

“I knew it.” He whispered into her belly, “I knew it the last time we were together. Your breasts had changed, you…” he paused a moment overwhelmed with emotion and looked at her with his large excited grey eyes, “Sansa our child.”

 

There was a glossy look in his eyes that nearly tore her apart. “Let’s be wed.” He pleaded, still on his knees both hands on her hips -- clutching her belly close to him as if he would never let it go.

 

‘Gods!’ Was the only word Sansa could think of, but it didn’t accurately describe her pain or her current dilemma. She would rip her family apart, so that her other family could live -- it was a devastating choice, one no person should have to make.

 

She took a step backwards, out of his reach, her sword hand trembling with sadness and emotion. “You must leave this place and never come back.” Her words came out choked and emotional, too emotional.

 

Sandor’s face changed from elated to upset, angry she would choose a kingdom over their family. She continued, choking back tears, “The wall back there has a passage, the latch is there.” She pointed with the sword, “There is a horse waiting for you with some supplies. Leave this place, and never come back.”

 

Snorting Sandor shook his head in frustration and stood up. His demeanor changed and she knew he would not plead with her now, he would not beg. That time was over, now he would take what he wanted. She would have to negotiate with the Hound. She smiled to herself, he was a warrior, commander, partner and now father all in one. A survivor, just like she was. She possessed an understanding of his complex emotions, even if he did not know it.

 

‘It’s nothing personal.’ She thought to herself as she watched him process her words.

 

Sandor ran his fingers through his hair and looked at her, “No Northern lord will deny me you, we are married in the eyes of the old gods.” The smile that crept across his face was one of triumph. “ If that wasn’t enough the swell of your belly would be.” He smiled, as if catching her in a lie.

 

“But how did you…” She started.

 

He smirked, “I read that book on Northern customs you said I should. Some interesting stuff in there, particularly the part about stealing women and making them brides.”

 

There was no doubt he was right, the laws in the North were clear on this matter. The child was his and that meant so was she. But there was far more at stake.

 

Cocking her head to the side Sansa challenged him, “You wouldn't dare start a war for me.”

 

“Wars have been waged over less. You know that better than most.” His stare was intense as he looked her over, his diary in hand now.

 

She could tell he didn’t want to leave, but was unsure how serious she was about defending her person. If he made a move to take her with him by force, she would not have the strength to fight back. “We will be together, I promise you that. I don’t even think you are that upset about it. You’re just stubborn.”

 

To engage him in a battle of words would be to give him the opportunity to sway her, and Sansa could not allow it. She would have to end this, now.

 

Pointing her sword at him again she narrowed her eyes, “You have until the count of ten. Or I will make good on my threat. One…”

 

He exhaled deeply and loudly, his exasperation at the situation hitting a high point. He spoke through gritted teeth as he began to make his way to the hidden door, “You will not raise that child alone Sansa. We will be a family, you will be mine.”

 

“Five….Six…” She was keeping her voice as steady as possible, fighting the tears that threatened to spill forth from her traitorous eyes.

 

Opening the secret passage he turned once more to her, “I love you woman, but your bloody pride threatens to kill us both.”

 

“Eight...Nine... “ She began to walk toward him, her sword raised, hoping he would not call her bluff. But to listen to any more of his words, would be to strip her of all common sense, of all she had left.

 

“The North will burn for this. It will burn until I have what I want.” There was a sad look in his eyes as took her in one last time, then fled.

 

Dropping the sword with a large clang on the bedroom floor, Sansa fell to her knees, tears flowing freely now. It was done, yet she did not feel better. Over the years she had been in hiding Sansa had prepared herself for war, to rule -- but not for the casualties she would have to endure. Her people, her friends -- her own heart -- not one part of her, mind, body and soul had gone untouched. It made her feel dirty, it made her feel broken and now she would bring a child into this crazy world. The Starks would continue and she had to find some poetic justice in that. Could a child of war, made in love bring the peace she had been dreaming of?

 

“Sansa?” Gendry stormed into the room followed by some of his own men and scooped her up. “Are you alright?”

 

“Yes.” She said. Not because she was, but because it was expected of her. She smiled weakly.

 

“The day is ours!” His eyes were bright and happy, the day they had planned for so long finally a reality.

 

“Yes.” She slowly stood up and adjusted her hair and dress. “This day is ours, but what of tomorrow?”

 

Sansa knew that for as easily as she had toppled one ruler, that she could easily be toppled by the next. A storm was brewing, one that had began that night she and her siblings ran through the woods in fear and would not end until House Baratheon was extinguished.

 

‘The South will pay for what they have done.’ She made this oath as she took her father’s heavy silver crown and put it atop her head -- knowing this was but one battle of many yet to come.

Chapter Text

Epilogue: The War of Southern Occupation

5 Months Later…..

 

The fog was thick, rays of sun only just coming through to lighten the morning. It was grey, but then again it was the North, it was often grey. Sansa took in the smell of the fresh damp grass, the wind whipped her auburn locks around her face, the only color on her side of the battlefield  this dark morning was her hair. She looked across the battlefield, observing the army on the other side. The red and gold of the Lannisters mixed with the black and yellow of the Baratheons was clear across the way. The Southerners had come to claim the North again, but she would not allow it.

 

“My Lady, would you like that I ride out with you?” Lord Glover asked, his eyes subconsciously looking down at her swollen stomach. He’d been attempting to court her favor for a while now and it was getting weirder by the day.

 

Sansa didn’t look at him, she kept her gaze at the army ahead. She had more important things to worry about. It would be days now, no longer weeks before she gave birth. She was so swollen with child it was a surprise she could mount her horse, much less ride.

 

“No my Lord. I will come to no harm.” She looked at Lord Glover then, and he nodded. He was more nervous than she was, as afraid of the Hound as most of the other men there.

 

Spurring her horse Sansa road out to the middle of the battlefield, a neutral zone between the armies of the North and South. Her heavy fur cloak could no longer cover her condition, her belly prominent in her wollen black dress. Sandor was already waiting there for her, the closer she came the bigger and broader his smile became. It was an honest smile, the one of a man who missed her presence, of one who looked forward to becoming a father. It seemed he harboured no ill will toward her, given the abruptness with which she had dismissed him the last time they had seen one another. Her heart was glad.

 

Sansa pulled up next to him, their knees almost touching, so that they could look one another in the face. It was best that way. Sandor was unreadable in the best of times, so the more she could see of him the better.

 

“You carry our child as if it were a boy.” He said, a calm confidence in his voice. He was relaxed atop his horse, despite the weight of his armor.

 

At this the baby began to thrash, kicking Sansa in the liver. Wincing she held her stomach with her free hand, “If it is a boy, he will be a strong warrior, like his father.” She said with a smile.

 

If the child had been anything these last months, it had been strong and active. She couldn’t keep the affection out of her voice as she spoke those words. Sandor was one of the fiercest warriors in Westeros, it was only fitting that his sire would follow suit.

 

Sandor put his hand on her stomach unbid, contentment filling his features. He held it there for a while enjoying the motion of their child, “He will be beautiful and tactical like his mother.”

 

She blushed at this, and hated herself for it. It had been so long since she’d seen him, she had forgotten how charming he was. She had missed his honesty and his admiration. Perhaps the words of the old wet nurses were indeed true, absence had indeed made her heart grow fonder.

 

“Which one of those Northern lordly cunts is trying to court your favor?” He asked her, a smirk on his face. He looked over toward the whole of the Northern Lords, as if he could tell from that distance which one was keeping a particularly close watch on her.

 

Sansa laughed, as it would be ridiculous to think she would even consider another. “Why would you want to know that?”

 

“So I know who to kill first.” His smirk was confident and relaxed, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to kill the man competing for his wife. “Is it Glover?” Sandor glared in the direction of her army, zeroing in on the correct man.

 

She smiled softly, feeling the pull of his eyes, the excitement behind them. Yet she said nothing, not wishing for Lord Glover to die just because he chose the wrong man’s wife to court.

 

“I think about you every night Sansa.” He said, as if it were a prayer. Low and almost a whisper.

 

“As do I you Sandor.” She answered, then diverted her eyes.

 

“Then end this madness.” He said to her softly, as if taming a wild filly. “Let’s be wed and join our armies in feasting, not fighting.”

 

It was surprising that he would suggest peace over war, it was unlike the Hound to do so. But he had changed, though she could not yet place just how.

 

“I can’t do that, and you know it.” Sansa’s voice was firm, her mind made up.

 

“Yes you can. You’re the bloody Queen of the North.” He said indignantly, as if challenging her claim to power. Seeing that she was not responding to him, he continued. “I do not want bloodshed this day.” Sandor was almost pleading, or as close to a plea as he could come.

 

Her blue eyes were cold when they met his, “I will not submit to the Lannisters or the Baratheons. They slaughtered my people and my family. There will be blood. I will make them pay.”

 

Sandor shook his head, frustrated. “When I take back Winterfell Sansa, and be sure I will.  I will take you as my wife and there will be no discussion. There will be no asking, no courtship, nothing. No Southern or Northern Lord will deny me my family, my wife or the North.”

 

He stroked her cheek gently and she let him, knowing his words about their family were true. Knowing that she would have gladly ended this with a marriage, if circumstances had been different. If this were a different time with a different king in a different world.

 

But it was not.

 

Her silence irritated him.

 

“Sansa!” The rage in his chest finding its way to his voice. “I will kill these men.” He said through gritted teeth. “I will slaughter them all and show no mercy.”

 

He waited for her to answer but again she held her tongue. “You would see these men die for your pride? Do you want the great Northern Houses to fall for this...this arrogance?”

 

“You are very confident you will win this day. What if you don’t?” She said to him finally, wanting to put an end to this negotiation. “I will not bend the knee, not to the South. Neither will the Northern Lords, it was a unanimous decision.”

 

“You know nothing of the other factors at play here. Nothing!” He was raising his voice now, not in anger at her but in a plea. As if the louder he became the more quickly she would understand his thoughts and his fears -- the reasoning behind his words. But she did not, she could only look at him with a sense of confusion.

 

“Marry me Sansa. We will rule the North together and let the Southern Lords play their petty games. We will bide our time, then when the time is right we will make our move.” Now he was pleading, she could see it in his eyes, sense it in the urgency in his voice.

 

“I’ll make you my lieutenant, you are adaptable and you gamble -- I like it more than you know. We’d be unstoppable, you know that.” He had her chin in his fingers, his steel eyes softening at the thought of them waging war together.

 

She felt a tear run down her face, “It’s too late now. I will not back down.” Then she took control of her senses, “You could always surrender to me, you know. Your men will be treated well and with time we could perhaps…”

 

Sandor shook his head. “You’re stubborn woman, I’ll give you that. I’ve shed too much blood here. Suppressed these people too much -- the North remembers as you say.”

 

Sansa sighed, knowing it was true. Knowing it would be difficult to erase his atrocities, tarnish her image further to allow him to live -- whether he was the father of her child or not.

 

“Their blood,” He pointed to the Northern army, “will be on your hands.”

 

She said nothing, fearing any show of weakness would spur him on to plead further. And push her to accept.

 

“If it’s war you want, then it is war I will give you. Though I take no joy in it.”  Sandor steadied his horse, his anger scaring the animal. There was not a defeated tone to his voice, it was more one of resignation -- an understanding of what he needed to do.

 

Sansa leaned in toward him, and he did the same, their foreheads touching. Each put a free hand on the other’s neck and looked into their eyes. It was a sign of affection, that this war was nothing personal between them. It was a matter of duty, honor and tradition. She could feel this course through her body, deep in her soul. If there was anybody in this world who understood her, it was him. And if there was anybody in this world who loved her, it was him.

 

‘Wars have been waged over less.’ Sansa reminded herself, her husband’s words ringing clearly in her ears. She blushed, having never thought of him as her husband until this moment.

 

“I’ll be there when that baby is born, I promise you that.” He said to her, his eyes penetrating her own.

 

“I promise to let you out of the dungeons for the birth.” She whispered, teasing him slightly.

 

Sandor snorted, amused by her words. “I promise we will be a family. Whether you like it or not.”

 

“I love you.” She said suddenly, knowing she needed to tell him on the chance he should perish in the bloodshed that would undoubtedly happen this morning. It was satisfying to let it out, to hear it come from her own lips.

 

Sandor chuckled as if she had confirmed something he had long known, then drew his forehead away from hers and took her cheek in his palm. “You have  a pretty fucked up way of showing it woman.”

 

Sansa smiled, a tear in her eye. “It’s our way.”

 

The Hound studied her a long moment, a husband, a warrior and a partner -- her soulmate. “I intend to dine tonight in Winterfell’s halls, with you by my side.” He smiled, happy to get in the last word as he spurred his horse back to his armies.

 

Shaking her head Sansa could only smile and feel indignant at his threats, as she returned back to her armies. They had come so far and yet there was still such a long way to go. No matter what the cost, Sansa knew in her heart this war was right. She also knew that today, would be the first day of the war of Southern Occupation and she had no intention of backing down.

Chapter Text

A Selection from Chapter 2

 

Sandor Clegane was a logical man, he always had been. It was what had made him a good commander and an even better leader. Everything had run fine until she had come into his world. Sansa had changed everything, changed Sandor’s life in so many ways he couldn’t even begin to describe it. It was not the first time he had felt the fear of losing someone -- his sister was a case in point. But this was the first time he had felt romantic love, the first time his logical mind had been invaded by the illogical. With this came fears he could never have conceived of nor described if he had been asked to. It was an unsettling feeling, one he was not given to.

 

Weaving in and out of the tents with the knowledge that he must act Sandor began to slowly feel  a calm fall over him, a calm he had not felt in a very long time. It was that kind of calm you only felt once you knew what you had to do and were no longer afraid to do it. ‘We’ll attack at dawn in two days’ time. ’ He promised himself. It would be the best way, the only way.

 

Sandor had a smile on his face as he made his way back to his tent. The men would be in good spirits after this show, and it would be the best opportunity to rally them for a final assault on Winterfell. The stars were aligning, his plan taking shape in his mind. That confidence didn’t stop his hair from standing on end when he noticed a shadow moving within his tent. Narrowing his eyes a moment, Sandor observed the figure. His candles were still burning as he had left them, meaning that any motion inside his tent could be seen on the outside.

 

Snorting, the Hound quickly assessed his opponent. He was tall and lanky, dressed as a stable hand from what he could tell based on the shape of the hat that adorned the boy’s head. It had to have been a boy, for the body was far too thin to be that of a man’s. Sandor’s dagger burned in its sheath at his hip.

 

‘A spy?’ Sandor wondered, for he was going through Sandor’s desk, rummaging around the papers.

 

Smiling, Sandor made his way around the back of the tent to a small seam where the fabric overlapped. Always on the highest alert, he usually had an escape route in the back of his tents, just in case he had to make a hasty exit. Tonight, Sandor would have the joy of using it to catch his opponent by surprise, for they were facing toward the tent flaps in the front, looking up from time to time so as to make sure nobody was approaching. Pulling the dagger from its sheath, Sandor silently made his way to the back of his tent eyeing the shadow as a predator would its prey. Pushing through the back of the tent at speed, he grabbed the boy from behind, pulling him flush to his body and pressing the dagger to his slender long throat. But just as quickly Sandor felt a sinking feeling in his gut, he couldn’t have said what had triggered this feeling -- a sound, a smell, a touch -- but he was suddenly overcome with the fear that he had pressed the knife too deeply into Sansa’s throat.