Even at ten years old, Sansa Stark was considered beautiful.
Sometimes, she hated it. If she weren't beautiful, Petyr Baelish wouldn't try to kiss her all the time, or brush against her on purpose sometimes, or pinch her backside or grope her when he was in one of his drunken stupors. If she didn't have good looks, Lysa Arryn wouldn't hate her so much.
But other times she was grateful for it. If she didn't look like her mother, she often feared she'd forget her.
"Oh, sweetling," called her stepfather (and constant tormentor). "Could you run down to the market and get some apples?"
"Of course... Father." The word was a lie, and felt so wrong on her lips but she said it anyways. It would do no good to anger him.
Ever the dutiful daughter, she traipsed down the path leading to the market, basket in hand. It was a lovely day, uncannily warm for spring, and she would not let anger at her surrogate parents spoil it. Well, even further than they'd already spoiled it.
Approaching the fruit stand, the small girl opened her mouth to ask the heavily muscled man behind it who had his back to her for apples, when he turned around.
Two things happened at once.
She cried out in fright.
The world blacked out.
"Well, at least you're honest." a gruff voice echoed against her mind's walls, and she blinks the room into view.
"What?" Her voice was scratchy and she swallowed painfully. "What?" she asked again, grateful for the clarity this time.
"Most people will see my scars but none of them have been so fucking honest as you, little bird."
The curse grated harshly against her ears. "Why did you call me that?" She asked.
"Do you always ask this many questions, little bird?" His voice is rude but there's an unexpected gentleness behind them that she wouldn't expect from a man that looks like him, like he'd snap the necks of little birds as a child.
The red-haired girl persisted anyways. "Why did you call me little bird?"
"The bird has talons. I called you that because you're such a pretty little thing and now you're chirping so much too. All those pretty little courtesies your lady mother taught you."
She cut him off, distraught and unsettled. "I don't have a mother. I live with my aunt and my father."
"Littlefinger, is it? Well, he sure as fuck doesn't look at you like you're his daughter. He looks at you like you're his whore."
She thaughty of what he said to her one time, In other circumstances you could've been my daughter.
She flinched away from him. She didn't like him. He unsettled her. She wasn't supposed to but there was something about him that intrigued her, the way the broken shards of a vase call to each other or puzzle pieces long separated try to fit back together.
Like calls to like after all, and they were both shattered, like it or not. Him on the outside, a ruined face, and her on the inside, a mess of scars on her heart.
"How do you know how my father looks at me?"
"I watch you, little bird." Somehow that confession was reassuring. She felt safer. She didn't know why a beast like him looking out for her made her feel secure, but perhaps it was the stark comparison of him, brute force and ugly scars, compared to Littlefinger's mustachios and accents.
"Sansa. My name is Sansa Stark."
"Sansa Stark... You're that wolf bitch's sister, aren't you?"
"Arya? Did you run into Arya? Do you know where she is?" Her heart leapt. She hain't seen her sister in a year, since Arya had run away from home after Winterfell had burned to the ground, and Sansa had been taken by Petyr Baelish and Aunt Lysa.
"Your sister is a real piece of work. Fire in her blood, l that one." There was a grudging respect in his words though, however blunt they might be.
"Do you know where my sister is?" she repeated.
"And why would I tell you that? I may be a scarred dog, but even a hound has brains. Nah, I'll tell you next time I see you. You'd best be going little bird. Your father -" he said the word with a mocking lilt. "- will be wondering where you've got yourself to."
"I... It was nice talking to you, ser."
"I'm no buggering ser, girl. So don't think me one."
He didn't answer so she turned to go, but he caught her arm and said one last thing. "And stop your incessant chirping, little bird. All your bloody courtesies are just lies wrapped up in silk and Myrish lace. They're pretty, but they're nothing."
As she left, shaken, Sansa thought that maybe her entire life was a pretty lie wrapped up in silk and Myrish lace.