It was her name that woke her, her name and the strangeness of hearing it. In all the time that she had known Sandor Clegane, he’d only ever spoken her name once, and it hadn’t sounded anything like this. He rasped the single word out into the blackness of their small cabin with such desperation, such despair, that it dragged her from sleep as the ceaseless rocking of the ship and the sound of sailors moving on the deck above had been unable to do.
Sansa opened her eyes, blinking a few times as they adjusted to the lack of light, though she didn’t need to see him to know he was still lying next to her. She could feel him shifting restlessly against her on the small cot they were forced to share. He lay on his side facing away, solid as a wall built between her and the door, the heat he radiated seeping into her. There was an echoing heat inside her, deep in her belly, one that had little to do with physical warmth but seemed to burn ever hotter any time she pressed herself closer to him. Of late she’d felt it whenever they touched, even casually, even accidentally, even in broad daylight. It was something to do with his skin, she thought, the deceptive smoothness of it covering so much dense deadly muscle…
She wondered sometimes what it would be like if he pulled her close to him the way he had the night of the battle, the night unnatural green fire had lit the sky and he’d come to take her away. He had frightened her then, even as he’d promised to keep her safe, but when she thought back on it, it was not fear she felt. Even when she remembered his weight on top of her, pressing her deep into her mattress, even when she remembered his knife at her throat, she was not afraid. In all their time on the road and aboard the ship, he’d never come to her like that again, and sometimes she thought it disappointed her. He disappointed her often, in fact, rarely speaking to her, rarely looking at her, distant and cold unless he couldn’t help it, as he couldn’t in the night.
Frowning to herself, she pushed her foolish thoughts away. It was right that he not speak to her or look at her, that he simply do his job and keep her safe while keeping his words and eyes to himself. Of course it was. She resolutely ignored the sadness that thought filled her with and focused on the present, listening to him, to his breathing. It was deep and regular as always, and despite his restive movements he seemed to be fully asleep still. Perhaps she’d merely dreamed he’d cried out. Her eyes began to drift shut, lulled by the comforting feel of him beside her, the sense of utter safety he gave her.
Her eyes flew open once more, the fear in his voice causing a strange ache in her chest. She knew she hadn’t dreamed it this time, knew it because when she dreamed of her name on his lips it was always whispered softly, like a kiss against her ear.
“My lord,” she murmured, placing one small hand on his shoulder, shaking gently. “My lord, please, you must wake.”
He rolled onto his back, and she was shocked at the tautness of his jaw, the way his teeth were clenched. His hands were clenched too, opening and closing at his sides, and as she watched he began to breathe heavily as though running. She shook him once more, a little harder than before, but he only called out for her again, voice louder and more frantic than before.
“My lord! Please!” she hissed anxiously, suddenly worried that perhaps the crew would hear his cries, that he would inadvertently disclose her true identity when they had worked so hard to keep it secret. “You must be quiet, please ser!”
He opened his mouth, lips clearly forming her name once more, and she could think of only one way to silence him. Before she had the chance to change her mind, she brought her mouth down on his, muting his voice with the press of her lips.
At first all she could think was that her gambit had been remarkably effective. Then, in the space between one heartbeat and the next, she was overwhelmed by the sensation of his uneven mouth frozen beneath hers and couldn’t think of anything at all except for the fact that she was kissing the Hound. She’d wanted so badly for so long to kiss him, and she was – clumsily, awkwardly – and after a moment of complete stillness beneath her, he was kissing her back. All the desperation that had been in his voice was now in his lips as they moved under hers, and the hands that had been curled into fists beside him were suddenly in her hair, holding her firmly in place. He pressed his tongue deep into her mouth and she could feel it gliding against her own, could taste him as he was tasting her, and she felt almost dizzy with it.
He slid his lips from under hers and trailed soft kisses across her cheek, tugging gently at her tangled locks until she tilted her head to the side, baring her throat to him. Then his mouth was open over her pulse, sucking at her skin, flicking it with his tongue and nipping it with his teeth. She shivered, gasping for air though her lungs seemed to be incapable of holding any, moaning wordlessly because she didn’t care.
Suddenly, Clegane’s body jerked beneath her, fingers releasing their grasp on her hair, mouth retreating from the crook of her neck as he threw his head back against his pillow. He too was gasping, pale eyes wide and blinking blindly in the dark.
“Little bird?” he asked, confusion heavy in his voice.
“I –” she began, ashamed of how small and pathetic she sounded over the deafening throb of her pulse in her ears. “You were having a nightmare, my lord. I couldn’t wake you.”
He exhaled, the breath uneven and shaky, and passed his large palm over his face. “Go back to sleep,” he growled after a moment. His voice was both weary and rough, though she thought the roughness had more to do with the way he’d kissed her than any kind of exhaustion. She wondered if he could still taste her the way she could still taste him.
She remained silent for a moment, imagined trying to fall back asleep while every fiber of her being was singing with… Something… And knew she couldn’t. Instead she reached out and delicately pushed his hair away from his face, away from his scar. The damaged skin felt almost waxy as her fingertips brushed over it, and she curled them in on themselves, the ghost of a sense-memory reminding her of his burned cheek cupped in her hand the night the Blackwater was set aflame and he’d come to her. “Would you… Would you like to tell me about it?”
“You were calling my name,” she said. “You sounded terrified.”
“Leave it be, little bird,” he ordered. “Go back to sleep.”
Determined, she shook her head. “No. You were calling my name. I have a right to know –”
She barely sensed him moving, but suddenly he was leaning over her, half on top of her, one large hand warm on her shoulder as he held her down. She couldn’t see his expression or make out his features, but she felt intensity in his touch, anger in the tautness of his muscles where his own weight pressed him against her. Her lips throbbed as though bruised and she knew only the answering pressure of his own would soothe her. There was a sudden urge inside to lift her hips, to force herself even closer, but she knew it wouldn’t be close enough.
“You have a right to know?” he demanded, and the same intensity present in every sinew of his body was evident in the harsh timbre of his voice. “Why? Is it not enough to have my body for your shield and my sword for your protection? You have a right to my every thought and dream as well? No. Those are my own, and my nightmares too.”
“I only want to help,” she whispered, lying. She wanted so much more than that, things she didn’t understand, but also simpler things, quieter things. She wanted to know him, really know him.
“Talking about it won’t help,” he snarled, his grip on her shoulder tightening, fingers digging into her sensitive flesh. “Nothing will. I keep you safe day after day but at night –”
“At night…?” she prompted.
Slowly, finger by finger, he released his hold on her and rolled away. “It doesn’t matter. Forget it. Go back to sleep.”
“Please. Just… I wish…” trailing off, she sighed. Before, he had been close to a breaking point; she had felt it in his body, heard it in his voice. But now he was so far away. As he should be, she reminded herself. As he should be. “Forgive me. I should not have… It’s just that I’m tired. Good night, my lord.”
For a long, tense moment, there was a very loud silence, louder than sound, cluttered with the chatter of unspoken thoughts. Sansa had never felt less capable of sleeping in her life, and she was prepared to resign herself to an awkward, uncomfortable restless night. But then Sandor spoke, so softly she might have thought she was imagining it, if not for the fact that she was so painfully attuned to him.
“I used to dream of fire,” he murmured, “and wake screaming. Used to dream of Gregor too. Never thought I’d wish those nightmares back if I was ever rid of them.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The riot,” he said, and it was like a dam breaking, words suddenly rushing from his mouth so that they were almost on top of each other. “I dream of the riot, you disappearing into the chaos. I search for you and… That day, I should have been watching after Joff, but I was watching after you. When you were taken up by the crowd I never lost sight of you, kept my eyes on your hair and followed. But in my dreams I don’t find you. Not until it’s too late.”
“You weren’t too late,” she reminded him. “You saved me. So many times.”
He let out a shuddering breath. “Sometimes I find you but can’t reach you, and then I have to watch – but you see me, and you just look at me expecting me to help you but I can’t –”
Sansa propped herself up on her elbow, leaning over to look down at him. He was staring straight up into the blackness hiding the ceiling, face distorted into a grimace she thought was meant to hold back tears. Her heart ached for him, and for herself.
“I dream of it too,” she told him, bending close. “I’ll never forget it, not ever, the way they threw me down… And I could feel them, touching me… I thought – but then you came. And I’ll never forget that either.” A sudden wave of emotion hit her, dragging her under until her voice broke. “You came for me.”
There was a featherlight brush across her brow; his fingers, she realized, trailing down from her temple to her cheekbone. Instinctively she placed her hand on top of his, forcing him to cradle her face. His eyes were wide and open, vulnerable, and he stared at her with as much hunger as she’d always hoped.
At the sound of his name, his expression changed. For a moment there was bleak disappointment on his face, quickly replaced by an amused twist of his lips. “This is a dream,” he said. “Of course it is.”
“Why would you think so?”
“You only ever say my name that way in my dreams,” he answered, very seriously, before threading his thick fingers through her hair, pulling her head down and kissing her.
She froze, shocked by the possessive pressure of his mouth on hers, but then thawed, melting, responding with all the frustrated desire she’d been feeling for so long. Her lips parted in a silent gasp, and he took advantage of it by slipping his tongue smoothly into the warmth of her mouth, tangling it with hers. It felt strange, the slickness of his flesh exploring hers, but it also felt right in some indefinable way. Hesitantly, she did her best to mimic his movements, and then he was gasping too.
He pulled her on top of him, never breaking their kiss, and she could feel her veins thrumming with anticipation when he held her against him. There was no hiding his desire. The hard ridge of his manhood was unmistakable beneath her, and she moved her hips restlessly, wanting nothing more than to feel him more fully. She was as innocent as she should be but she knew enough to understand what was happening to him, to her, with him. Enough to understand what she wanted to happen.
“Gods, little bird,” he groaned, echoing her thrust, the pressure of his cock against her most secret place filling her with longing.
“Sandor,” she whispered back. It felt so good to say his name.
With a growl he wrapped his heavily muscled arms around her, rolling until their positions were reversed, and she reveled in the sensation of being so overwhelmed by him, of all his strength so focused on her. His hands were everywhere, clutching at her hair, her hips, the hem of her nightrail. She didn’t protest as he pushed it up around her waist while unbuttoning the front one-handed, or when he slid that hand inside to stroke her breasts. They felt heavy and sensitive, her nipples so hard and aching for his touch, and he obliged her by rubbing his calloused finger roughly over each in turn.
She dragged her lips away from his, fighting for breath between moans as the ecstasy of his skin on hers filled her with unfamiliar heat. There was a strange sense of not being in control of her body anymore, because surely the woman writhing underneath him, arching up to press her breasts more firmly into his hands, could not be Sansa Stark. Sansa Stark was a lady. But she was also indisputably straining against him, lifting her hips for the joy of feeling his hardness cradled between her thighs.
“Sandor, please, I want…” she begged, not entirely certain of what she was begging for.
“You want what?” he responded, voice somehow both desperate and amused.
“I don’t know,” she answered raggedly, truthfully. Her understanding of what was to happen was all clinical, and there was nothing clinical about this. “I want… I don’t know, I need you, please. I can’t…” Her nonsensical words trailed off into a grateful cry as he delved low with his hand, exploring uncharted parts of her and caressing her just where the unbearable ache within her was centered.
“This?” he asked, rubbing his thumb over something that sent pleasure rippling all throughout her body. “Or this?” He slid one finger inside of her, and she could feel her untried flesh giving way for him. It stung with a pain so sharp it was nearly pleasure, a pleasure that only increased when he added another finger, stretching her even further. She bucked her hips, forcing him deeper, and cried out.
“Yes, this, yes... Gods…”
“So eager,” he murmured, sounding pleased and aroused but also somehow sad. He moved his fingers deep within her even as he rubbed that sweetly sensitive spot above her opening, and she could feel her entire body drawing taut like a bowstring ready to let fly. “You get so wet for me in my dreams.”
“Yes, for you, yes, please –”
“You make me so hard.” He proved his words by guiding her hand to his stiff cock, helping her wrap her fingers around as much as she could grasp and directing her to move up and down his length. It grew even harder as she touched him and she moaned at the sensation of holding him that way, of feeling what she did to him. “Is this what you want, Sansa?”
“Yes, yes.” She tightened her grip on him, stroking his smooth flesh the way he’d shown her and adjusting so she could feel him hard and hot, sliding against the wetness she knew was slick between her thighs. It was for him, all for him, had never even happened before him.
“Tell me,” he urged.
“I want you inside me,” she said, some part of her utterly shocked by her own audacity. She knew that was how it was supposed to happen but she’d never imagined how much she could desire it. There was an emptiness inside her and she knew she needed him to fill it.
He groaned low in his throat, leaning forward to rest his forehead against hers, and she lifted her hips so that their lower bodies were fully aligned, the smooth tip of his cock nudging at her entrance.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” he gasped, pushing forward until he was just barely inside her as though he couldn’t help it. She tried to lift herself to him again, to bring him deeper, but he stilled her by gripping the flare of her hip tightly, fingers digging into her skin in a way that should have been painful yet somehow, just now, wasn’t.
“Please,” she begged, breathless and almost sobbing with her need. “You won’t. It doesn’t.”
Whatever control he still clung to snapped and he surged into her, utterly unheeding of any barrier, laying claim to her with his body. She could feel him filling her, stretching her, opening her to him, and while intellectually she knew there was pain she didn’t feel it, not really. All she felt was him, on top of her, inside of her, touching all of her all at once and it was everything she’d wanted for so long.
“I’m sorry,” he said, pressing his mouth to hers, holding himself still above her, shaking with the effort of it. “I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be.” Threading her fingers through his hair, she held him close, wanting nothing more than the sensation of him moving in her. “Nothing hurts. You would never hurt me.”
He let out a strange, broken sort of sound, burying his face in her throat. “No one will, not ever, I swear it.”
Raising his head, he kissed her softly then slowly, carefully began to rock against her. His rhythm was almost languid, almost like the rhythm of the ocean surrounding them as he withdrew and returned again and again like the tide. With every thrust even the echoes of the pain of his possession faded away to nothing until there was only the melting liquid pleasure of him filling her deep inside. She looked up into his face, just barely able to discern his features in the dark, but she could tell he was as focused on her as she was on him. He stared at her the same way he touched her, the same way he kissed her, soft yet somehow starving all at once, as though he could never get enough of her.
She knew the feeling. As incredible as the sensations caused by his careful thrusts were, she wanted more, needed more. Frustrated, she arched up against him, wrapping her legs around his tapered waist and drawing him deeper, closer. The new angle made her gasp as he sank further into her than she’d even imagined was possible. He hissed in surprise, leaning close as he stroked her long hair away from her face.
“We have time. I want this to last all night,” he murmured to her, one large hand lifting her to him, the other stroking her, caressing her breasts, slipping between her thighs where they were joined. Every gentle brush of his skin against hers added to the sensations building inside of her with each flex of his hips. “I never want to wake up.”
“Then don’t,” she said, the last syllable fading into a moan as his clever fingers found their way to the aching, sensitive flesh above her opening. He rubbed it gently and she writhed beneath him, everything within her suddenly focused on the way he touched her there. All the pleasure he’d given her thus far paled in the face of this, so sharp and sweet and somehow radiating through her. “Gods, Sandor, what –?”
“It’s alright.” He was moving faster now, harder, every smooth stroke drawing her muscles tighter and tighter. “I only want to make you feel good… It does feel good, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, yes, please… Don’t stop.”
“I won’t,” he promised. His voice was rougher than before, his breath coming in short little gasps just like hers. “Sansa… So beautiful, so bloody sweet… Don’t close your eyes, no, look at me…”
It was difficult to obey, difficult to keep her eyelids from drifting closed, the better to focus on the bliss rippling throughout her body. She was floating in it, or drowning in it, but she did as he asked, looking up at him even as the delight of his cock so deep inside of her, his fingers on her most secret place, threatened to overwhelm her. It was terrifying somehow yet part of her thought she wanted it to.
“It’s alright,” he said again, and she believed him because he had never lied to her, would never lie to her. “Little bird, let go.” And then he did something, she couldn’t say what, but suddenly she was doing just as he said, letting go and giving herself up to the ecstasy welling within her and carrying her away, dragging her down under a silent sea. It filled her as completely as he did, every cell of her body crying out with one voice as she shuddered in his arms. He was crying out too, a wordless sound of victory as he found his release with her, inside of her. She could feel the rush of it at her core, hot and vital and she knew it made her his, utterly, completely. He moved deeply a few final times as her own bliss receded, then collapsed on top of her and was still.
His full weight was hard to bear but she didn’t mind it, didn’t mind anything really, thoughts still reeling from all she had experienced. She hadn’t known, had never imagined… She felt humbled, as though she’d been given a priceless, precious gift, and knew she had.
“Sansa?” he asked, and there was a note of horror in his voice as he trailed one finger over the curve of her jaw. Whatever he found there made him tense and panicked. “Gods, are you crying? How badly are you hurt?”
To her surprise, she realized tears were indeed rolling down her cheeks until she could taste the salt of them, could almost taste the sea. She shook her head, reaching up and covering his hand to hold it against her face. “You didn’t hurt me,” she said, somehow crying and laughing at the same time. “I’m just so happy.”
He looked down at her, self-hatred clear in the harsh lines of his face. “Don’t lie to me. Of course I hurt you.”
“You didn’t. Not once, not ever.” Even in the Red Keep his every touch had always been so careful… He’d been harsh, yes, and she’d thought then that he was cruel, but looking back she knew he’d been the only one to offer her truth and kindness. Gentleness. Gods but he was gentle with her. Her mind was so full of so many moments she now understood had been tender, and suddenly words were tumbling from her lips, rushed and anxious.
“Do you love me, Sandor?” she asked. “It’s alright if you don’t… But I would like you to, because I love you and it would be better if you loved me back."
The expression on his face turned fierce, almost wild, almost angry. “Is this a dream?” he demanded, his large callused hand clutching desperately to her cheek.
“Only if you want it to be,” she whispered. His words hadn’t been an answer, not really, but maybe they were answer enough.
A strange emotion unfurled across his face, one she’d never truly seen there, something that looked remarkably like joy and terror together. “And if I don’t want it to be?”
She could feel the smile breaking across her face like the dawn, and knew that it was blinding. “Then kiss me, and when we wake up I’ll still be yours.”
He did. They did. She was.
Title and inspiration from the song Under A Silent Sea by Loney Dear.