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"Show me, girl," the Hound growls at her. Sansa had been too shamed to let her maidservants see, but with him, it seems only fair. But the gown she put on this morning laces up the back, and it hurts too much to stretch behind and untie it.

"You'll have to help me," she whispers, and turns her back on him, pulling her long auburn braid over her shoulder and out of his way. For a moment nothing happens, and Sansa wonders distantly if he knows what she wants him to do. She can't imagine many women would give themselves willingly to the Hound (and she can't imagine him forcing anyone, despite his harshness) – do whores unlace their own bodices, to save their patrons’ time? She couldn't say.

After several heartbeats, though, she hears the rustle of movement and faint clink of his armour, and then she feels his big hands on her shoulders, just touching her for a moment, before he pulls on the knot and loosens her gown. She steps out of it as it pools at her ankles, a distant part of her disbelieving that she is alone in her room with this man, wearing nothing but her shift and smallclothes. The rest of her is too numbed to feel much of anything.

She stands for a moment staring wistfully at the bright sunshine streaming through the windows, before turning back to face Sandor Clegane. She cannot bear to look at his face, but she hears the sharp hiss of his indrawn breath when he sees what Joffrey has done to her.

Her shift has stuck to her chest and stomach with her blood. Maester Luwin used to clean their cuts with salty water, but Joffrey had warned her not to seek out a maester: he wanted her skin to scar.

"Can you take it off?" the Hound asks her, voice oddly gentle. Sansa plucks tentatively at the fabric, and almost sobs when it pulls on her damaged skin.

"N-no. It's stuck on."

Without a word, the Hound pulls a knife from his belt. The sun catches on the blade and suddenly all Sansa can see is Joffrey's awful face, his fat wormy lips and the look of utter delight on his face as he ordered Ser Meryn to hold her still.

"No!" she whimpers, backing away, "Please! I'll look. I'll look as much as you like."

"Do you want the whole castle to come running?" a voice rasps, and Sansa finds her chin forced upwards until she meets the Hound's hard grey eyes. "Be quiet," he warns her. And then, "I'm not going to hurt you."

He stares at her for several long moments until Sansa nods, though she cannot keep from trembling. His face is so awful; she has never been able to look at it for long. She had never guessed Joffrey would deign to notice such a thing. Neither would she have guessed he would take inspiration from her aversion, but then, Sansa supposes, perhaps she is just lacking in imagination.

The Hound steps forward and runs his knife carefully down the front of her shift from neckline to hem, then reaches for the cloth in her washbowl and presses it to the bloodstains. At first she cannot fathom what he is doing, but then he peels the wet shift from her skin and it comes off a lot more easily now, though the air stings viciously where it touches her cuts.

"You should get a maester to look at these," the Hound says after a moment.

"I can't," Sansa replies. “Joffrey won’t allow it.” Her eyes flick to the washbowl and back to the cloth in his hand. The Hound sees her and laughs, low in his throat. Sansa thinks she knows his moods well enough by now to judge this laugh to not be unkind. That will have to be sufficient.

"All right, little bird," he says, and rinses the cloth before kneeling in front of her. He rests one big hand on the curve of her waist and with the other, slowly wipes away the blood from her skin. Some of the cuts are bleeding again, the skin raised red and angry, and it hurts desperately, but she can tell that he’s trying to be gentle and so she tries to hold the pain inside her, and stares over his shoulder at the white cloak draped down his back.

She wishes he would talk to her. The Hound very rarely has anything kind to say, but she would dearly like something to concentrate on.

“I’m sorry,” she says, because it’s the first thing that comes to her mind.

You’re sorry?” Sandor Clegane laughs again. “Aye, I’ll wager you are, little bird.”

“That isn’t what I meant,” she says, screwing her eyes shut against the sudden stabbing pain as he cleans the cut Joffrey had so lovingly made around the edge of her breast, trailing the dagger all the way down to her navel. “He- he said it was punishment, for being discourteous to his dog. He said he would cover me in scars, and see how I liked it.”

The Hound’s hand stops moving. She can feel his eyes boring into her like a physical force.

“He meant to make you like me.” The Hound’s voice is flat, a statement rather than a question, but when she dares a glance at him his eyes are full of rage. For once, Sansa doesn’t feel as though she wants to recoil.

“Yes,” she says simply.

The Hound’s eyes drop from hers to her bare chest, the criss-cross of cuts on her breasts and belly.

“Then he’s a fool,” Sandor Clegane says. “You’ll have some marks, aye, but they’ll fade in time. The boy didn’t cut you deep enough for the skin to pucker. You don’t even need stitching, girl.”

This time, Sansa thinks despairingly, her eyes filling with tears. But the sensation of warmth distracts her and when she looks down the Hound has pressed his mouth to the cut at the edge of her breast. He’s kissing me, she realises in shock, and a little jolt of heat shoots through her, for a moment eclipsing the pain she feels.

She cannot help but stare at him when he draws back. His expression is queer, the burnt side of his mouth twitching. Some instinct makes her raise her hand to cup his cheek with her fingers. It’s his burnt cheek, and the skin feels... different to how skin usually feels, though not as unpleasant as she might have guessed.

“Thank you,” she murmurs, barely knowing what she’s saying.

He says nothing, simply rising to his feet before ripping up a clean sheet from the chest at the end of the bed and bandaging her wounds. And then he unclasps his white cloak and draws it around her bare shoulders, pulling her closer as he does so.

This time, he does not need to force her chin up to make her look at him.

“Joffrey could burn you to within an inch of your life, and you would never be like me, Sansa.”

His voice is rough, harsh with the force of his words, and all Sansa can do is nod. Though when he leaves her, wrapped safely in his cloak, part of her cannot help but wish him back again.

Chapter Text

He isn’t there the next time it happens, either, which only proves that Joffrey’s concern for his dog’s so-called offense is just the flimsy excuse the boy is using to inflict more savagery on the Stark girl. Sandor supposes it’s a mercy the young King’s balls have barely dropped, or the little bird would have more than Joffrey’s dagger to fear, but it doesn’t feel like a mercy. It feels like a matter of time.

Maegor’s Keep has a hushed, heavy feeling to it that evening. That’s how he knows. Joffrey missed out on his much-enjoyed brutalities at court this morning, having no petitioners to order to fight to the death, and only a single thief to cut the fingers from. It seems he’s discovered a liking for a new sort of entertainment, in its stead.

He waits in the shadows until he sees Sansa’s maidservants leave for the night, then lets himself into her chambers. She’s lying on her bed, and he sees that this time, at least, she had the sense to remove her shift before the blood dried.

She looks as though she’s been whipped. Lying face down on top of the covers, she has only her smallclothes to preserve her modesty, her bare back exposed to the air and Sandor’s gaze. Red wheels stand out livid against her skin, raised from swelling and seeping blood. It’s uglier than last time – Joffrey’s gaining in confidence, it seems.

“Aren’t you going to ask who’s there?” he rasps, shutting the door behind him, and barring it.

Sansa doesn’t move, and Sandor knows a moment of sudden, shocking fear, until her voice drifts over, rough from screaming and muffled in the bed linens.

“It doesn’t matter.”

Sandor supposes she’s not in any state to fight off an aggressor, should he have been one, but she could at least have barred her door.

“Stupid little bird,” he says, angry. “You’re in pain, aye, but there’s always someone who can make it worse for you.”

“Will you?” She doesn’t sound afraid, but she doesn’t sound interested, either. Instead of respond, Sandor goes to her stone basin for the cloth, and sees a number of little piles of linen beside it on the table, neatly folded and fraying slightly at the edges. It’s the bed sheet he used to bind her wounds last time, he realises, cleaned and set out ready. As though she meant to tend to herself before losing the will. Or, maybe, as though she was expecting someone else to do it.

He’s as gentle as he can be, but it hurts her a lot more this time and he barely knows what to do with himself, feeling brutish and clumsy but knowing it must be done. She will get scars from this. They’ll be nothing to rival his own, but without a maester’s attention the best she can hope for is that they’ll simply be slow to heal. A couple of the lashes are still bleeding, beading fresh red as he wipes away ruddy flakes, and he wonders briefly if he should stitch her – he’s done it for himself before – but the swelling would make it next to impossible.

She whimpers every time he touches the cloth to her skin, and by the time he’s ready to dress her wounds the water in the washbowl is stained red.

“You’ll need to sit up now, girl,” he says. It takes her several heartbeats to respond, her arms shaking when she does with the effort of raising her body from the bed. Putting his hands on her hips, Sandor carefully helps pull her into a kneeling position, and from there to sit on the edge of the bed.

This is the second time he has had his hands on her while she’s topless, and somewhere in the dark recesses of his heart it shames him that his body responds to hers when she is in such a state. The cuts on her teats and belly are healed now, neat little red lines criss-crossing her skin, and he sees the place he put his mouth, the line that follows the curve of her small teat.

She sits very still as he wraps her up, long strips of linen tied around her torso to hold the rest in place. At one point he brushes a teat with the back of his hand and she draws in a breath, quick and sharp. When he looks, her perfect pink nipples have hardened to points. Carefully, deliberately, Sandor repeats the action. Her eyes flutter closed.

Heat pools in his belly, and lower. Quickly, he secures the last knot in place, then sits beside her. The mattress dips with his weight and she opens her eyes, gazing up at him with a terrible dullness, and he wonders if he can replace it with something else. Anything else, even anger or disgust. But when he touches light fingers to one tight nipple, her face shows neither of those things.

“Don’t stop,” she murmurs, when he hesitates. She might well have flowered, but she’s still a child, small enough beside him to seem fragile in his hands. She raises one hand to his face, just as she did the last time, though now she is touching the unburned side, and she strokes the smooth skin beneath his eye almost affectionately, or so it seems to him. “It’s the only nice feeling I’ve felt all day,” she says, and how can he argue with that?

She rests her head against his arm as he strokes her skin, thumbing her nipple as he cups her teat in his hand, running his nails along the full underside, Sansa sighing in pleasure. Sandor has never really touched a woman just to explore her, but knowing he can’t take her in this state banks his own fire to a steady, controlled burn. He’ll fuck into his own fist later tonight thinking of this, without a doubt, but here and now this is about her, and he finds he doesn’t mind that. Finds he could stare into blue eyes glazed with arousal all night, if needs be.

It isn’t long before he notices how she is clenching her thighs together, her sighs becoming closer to moans.

“Little bird,” he breathes in her ear, “is there anywhere else you wish me to touch you?”

Her breath hitches and she gasps a soft, “Yes,” though it takes her a moment before she lets her thighs fall open.

Heart racing like a callow youth, Sandor trails his hand down her body. The bandages are in the way, but that hardly matters right now. He slows at her belly button and toys with the waist of her smallclothes for a moment, before smoothing his hand down the silken fabric and pressing his fingers flat against the gusset. She stops breathing for a moment, he is certain, then releases her breath all at once in a long, low moan.

“Yes,” she says again, and Sandor strokes her gently through the fabric.

He would love nothing better right now that to sit her between his legs and lean her back against his chest, so that he could reach one hand beneath her smallclothes and give her a proper frigging. But her back won’t stand up to that, so instead he rises from the bed to kneel between her thighs.

“Stand,” he orders, sliding his hands beneath her arse cheeks to help her rise, before pulling her smallclothes down her hips to pool around her ankles. Completely naked, she sits once more, though at his direction she is now further on the edge of the mattress.

Parting her legs once more Sandor kisses the soft inside of one thigh before gently parting her lips and kissing her clit. Her cunt is wet when he touches her there, and though he doesn’t push his finger into her as he would like, he can still feel her muscles clenching as he drives her closer to her peak.

“Oh gods,” she whispers as he works her with his tongue, hands tangling in his hair, “please, my lord, faster.”

Even her begging is polite, and it seems to flip some switch inside him, so that the low burn of his arousal suddenly spikes and he has to palm himself through his breeches to find relief.

She is silent when she comes, but he feels it against his face, the pulsing of her muscles, the way she shudders into him. Conscious of causing her more pain, he laps at her one last time before sitting back on his heels and wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand.

“I’m sorry there is nowhere for you to get cleaned up,” she says, blinking slowly at him. He wants to kiss her, but he knows himself well enough to know that that might well be the straw that breaks the dog’s back.

“I’m not,” he says, running his eyes over and over her, to memorise the way she looks right now, flushed and naked and, for now, completely his. “I’ll be licking your taste off my fingers while I find my own pleasure later.”

Her mouth falls open into a small “oh” of surprise, but she does not look displeased. Part of Sandor is simply happy to see the blank expression of earlier chased away into the shadows.

She’s exhausted, and trembly from his ministrations, and so he has to help her into her bed before he leaves, tucking her up still naked with only a fleeting thought for what her maids will think in the morning. She’s asleep before he reaches the door to her bedchamber, and he spends a moment wondering if there is some way to bar it from the outside, once he is gone. But that’s foolish – even a barred oak door couldn’t protect her if the King wanted her brought before him again. Even a man in a white cloak.

Chapter Text

Sansa supposes she has Joffrey to thank for this day. It is her sixteenth nameday, and the day her mother will finally allow her to marry Sandor Clegane. Her wedding gown is a woman’s gown, as befits the day she comes of age – it is low in front and in back, and that means the silvery network of her scars will be on display, but she has learnt not to care about that. Let them have their look. To her, the marks mean strength, and they mean freedom, and the place they began is the same place, in her heart, that her love began. Of all the things she is sorry for, this is not, ultimately, one of them.

“My darling Sansa,” Lady Catelyn says, taking Sansa’s face lightly in both hands so as not to smudge the powder and paint she has so carefully applied. There are tears in her mother’s eyes, and Sansa knows she is thinking of father. “You look the very image of Jonquil, come to life.”

Sansa smiles wryly – the songs never said anything of Jonquil’s body being covered in the marks of another man’s brutality. But she’d learnt that song as a tiny child at her mother’s knee, and it was ever Lady Catelyn’s favourite and her own. Sandor snorts in distaste every time she sings it, but Sansa knows if she ever stopped he would want to know why.

Her mother does not love Sandor in the way that she loves Jeyne Westerling. Perhaps it is simply the difference in a mother’s eyes between a son bringing a wife into the family, and a daughter being taken away to another man’s House. But if her mother and her intended do not always get along as Sansa would like, she at least knows Lady Catelyn values him. Ever since the Red Wedding, when Sansa had begged her mother to listen to her own instincts, when Sandor had agreed with Catelyn that nothing seemed right and pushed her to act, when he had taken an arrow for Robb as they escaped. Ever since then, Catelyn had refused to let him leave the family, and if that had meant allowing him to become her eldest daughter’s betrothed, she had eventually been happy to pay that price.

“Is it time to go down?” Sansa asks, her stomach fluttering.

“Not yet,” says Jeyne in her soft, girlish voice as she weaves winter roses into Sansa’s hair. “Robb is just fetching your Maiden’s Cloak.”

She has dreamed of this day since childhood, the day a brave knight would drape his colours around her shoulders. Sandor will never be a knight, and he will never be handsome as the boys she liked to imagine in her youth, but he is everything to her. Sansa can still remember the night of the Blackwater Battle, burned into her memory in oranges and greens, finding him reeling drunk in her bed beside a sack of food and a roll of clothes for them both.

“I could keep you safe,” he’d said. “They’re all afraid of me. No one would hurt you again, or I’d kill them.”

She had had a moment of doubt, for he had been present the last time Joffrey had taken the flat of his sword to her thighs and buttocks, and though Sansa’s heart had leapt when he’d spoken up and said, “That’s enough,” it’d sunk again when Joffrey ignored him. He had been able to do nothing but carry her back to her bedchamber when the King was done with her.

“Little bird,” he said, voice raw and harsh as steel on stone, and she cupped his cheek as she was now well accustomed to. He put his hands on her waist and pulled her closer, so close Sansa could smell the stink of sweat and sour wine and stale vomit, and over it all the reek of blood. He was too strong to fight, and Sansa didn’t try – if he meant her harm he’d had plenty of opportunities before tonight.

“Sansa.” He was drunk enough to slur her name. “When I watched him hurting you, that last time, I got hard. D’you know what that means, girl?”

Sansa nodded, though really she only had a vague idea. Despite what she had asked him to do for her, he had never taken his own pleasure in front of her. Beneath her fingers, Sansa felt the stickiness of blood, and a wetness that wasn’t blood.

“We need to get out of this nest of shit and lies,” he rasped, “for both our sakes.”

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he hung his head and pressed his forehead against her belly. Sansa moved her hands from his face to his hair and stared out the window, the flashes of wildfire and the distant clamour of battle. She remembered the Queen’s promise of what awaited her if Joffrey lost, and thought on what awaited her if he didn’t.

“When do we leave?” she asked.

That was near on four years ago, Joffrey was long dead at the hands of his Tyrrel bride, and Sansa was back in Winterfell, living under her brother’s peace as King In The North.

Sandor smiles when she enters the Sept on Robb’s arm. It’s a look that isn’t obvious to those who don’t know him well, becoming easily lost in the twisted mass of scar tissue on his face, but Sansa knows it for what it is – an expression of genuine happiness. She has only ever seen it directed at her, as it is now, and she smiles in return, so hard it feels like her face will split.

After the ceremony, Sansa returns to the Great Hall on the arm of her husband with the three black dogs of his House draped down her back. The feast will last for several hours, but Sansa can already feel her blood heating. Sandor knows her body better than she does, and he is putting his knowledge to good use, teasing touches that cannot be construed as inappropriate but that nonetheless are driving her quite wild.

“My love,” she murmurs once they are seated on the dais, “if you don’t stop that, I fear one of us is going to embarrass ourselves.”

He glances at her, a smirk on his lips but his eyes dark with desire and, hand hidden safely under the table, strokes her thigh through the thin fabric of her gown. “I’ve been waiting for this for four years,” he says in a low voice that goes straight to her womanhood. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to let maiden’s nerves get in the way.”

Sansa feels the colour rise in her cheeks, though not from shame. Since she had put herself in his power on the night of the Blackwater, Sansa has allowed him to become increasingly well acquainted with her body in the most intimate of ways, yet in all that time he has never allowed her to touch him, and he has never taken her maidenhead. In truth, she would not have minded if he had, had possibly begged him on one or two occasions, but the way he spoke to her was almost as good, the promises and vivid descriptions of the things he would do to her, let her do to him, once they were married.

“It’s not nerves causing my smallclothes to stick to my thighs,” she replies, leaning over to whisper it in his ear. Out of the corner of her eye she can see an old man smiling indulgently at her. If only he knew the subject of my sweet nothings.

Sansa can barely touch the first course, so preoccupied is she with what her husband’s hands are doing. After it has been taken away, when he is reaching over for the flagon of wine to refill his goblet, Sansa lets her hand fall into his lap. She has touched his manhood before, though only fleetingly before he would grit his teeth and force her hand away. Now he merely grins and, having grabbed his goblet, sits back in his chair and lets his legs fall open.

He’s so hard. His breeches cannot be comfortable while he is in that condition. But she’s somewhat uncomfortable herself, and so has little pity. She strokes him with the flat of her hand, lightly at first and then more firmly when he lets out a sound like a groan.

“Little bird,” he says, and Sansa has to restrain herself from crawling into his lap right there and rubbing herself against him like a wanton.

The courses come and go, and Sansa is becoming so dazed from want that she can barely pay attention to what else is happening in the hall. Luckily, everyone else is well into their cups, and so her behaviour is little out of the ordinary.

“I can’t wait for the bedding,” she eventually decides, while they’re waiting for the first round of sweets to be brought forth. When she was younger, the tradition had seemed delightfully wicked, but faced with her own, Sansa finds she does not care two figs for any man’s hands on her except her husband’s. And besides, it’s likely still hours away. “I am going to tell mother that I need to use the water closet. Wait a while and then follow me.”

She does not give Sandor a chance to respond, merely gets up and leaves him seated alone on the dais. She has barely made it to her room before she hears his familiar footfalls on the stairs – he has not been discreet, then, but everyone will notice their absence when the wedding pie is brought out anyway, so it makes little matter.

Sandor rips the bodice of her dress in his eagerness to get her naked, her breasts spilling forth into his hands. She fumbles with the remainder of the laces while he suckles one nipple, massaging the other with his big hand. Once she is naked, Sansa turns her attention to Sandor’s clothing. He is not in the least bit helpful, throwing her onto her back on the bed and burying his face between her legs.

“Sandor,” she half-complains, half-whimpers. “You promised me.”

She is, by this time, so aroused that she fears he will not stop before she reaches her peak, and tries to pry him off with her feet. Eventually he gives in to her, pushing himself up off the bed and tearing his own clothing off with as little regard as he gave her own. Sansa slides forward to the edge of the bed and rests her hands on his naked hips. She glances up at him once, for the pleasure of seeing the look on his face, before lowering her mouth to his manhood.

He is moist at the tip already, salty but not unpleasant. She is suddenly ravenous for him, and takes him in as far as she can manage, wrapping her hand around his length to cover what she cannot. His skin down there is surprisingly silky. It feels good against her tongue, and the sounds he is making make her ache most viciously between her own thighs.

He allows her only a minute or two of this previously elicit pleasure before pushing her off with a growl, pulling her to her feet before wrapping his arms around her waist and lifting her for a hard kiss. For a moment, the world narrows down to the feeling of his mouth on hers, and then she feels the tip of his manhood teasing at her entrance.

“Please,” she begs against his mouth, “Please, Sandor, now.”

“Say it,” he orders, lowering his mouth to her neck.

Sansa is quite used to his foul language by now, but she does not like to indulge in it herself. She settles for, “Take me,” and it seems he is in no mood to argue, for once.

With her legs wrapped around his body he can support her with one arm. With the other he reaches down to line himself up before slowly, slowly lowering her onto him. She gasps, as it stings a little, but far less than she had been told it would. When he is fully sheathed in her she gasps again, because now it feels good.

He is sucking deliciously on her neck but she forces him up to kiss her again, moaning into his mouth. He holds himself still within her for the space of several rapid heartbeats, before tumbling her backwards onto the bed. He pushes himself up on one arm so as not to crush her, and reaches between them to rub her clit with his thumb with the other, and then, just as she arches up into his touch, begins to fuck her in earnest.

After such a great long time teasing each other in the hall, it is over for both of them quite quickly. Sansa has been told that it’s best not to draw it out, on the first time. She is sore, but she is also humming with bliss, sweaty and tangled in her husband’s arms atop the bed sheets.

They lie quietly for a while, listening to the distant revelry rising up from the hall below. Sansa touches every part of him she can reach, the pleasing shape of his arms and shoulders, the dark hair on his chest, the soft skin of his flanks and hard ridges of his belly.

Sandor does as he has often done, when she is naked and basking in the afterglow of her pleasure, and traces the silvery lines of her scars across her chest and stomach. With tender fingertips he follows the one long line from her navel to the edge of her breast, and pauses there a moment before leaning over to press his mouth there. It is a soft kiss, but when he draws back her nipples have tightened and a persistent heat is slowly building in her core once more.

“Little bird,” he rasps, meeting her curious gaze. “Do you remember the first time I kissed you there?”

It was the first time he had ever kissed her. “Of course.”

“I think I fell in love with you that night.”

Yes, Sansa supposes she has Joffrey to thank for this day. As Sandor kisses his way to one sensitive nipple and her body blooms for him once more, she marvels at the way in which the dead King brought them together. She thinks this is the best possible revenge either of them could have dreamt up – and that is the last thought she has for Joffrey Baratheon, as she looks up at her husband’s grey eyes, his ruined face that is now so dear to her, and gives herself over to him as completely as she knows how.