Actions

Work Header

Always Find Me Here

Work Text:

Sandor stood outside the door with a white-knuckled grip on the hilt of his sword. He could hear the little bird inside the king’s bedchamber, her cries muffled, though by her own will or Joffrey’s ire he could not tell. The corridor was empty at last, the stragglers from the bedding finally meandering back to the feast, leaving the Hound to listen in grim silence as the Bastard King took his Wolven Queen’s innocence.

Innocence, Sandor thought disparagingly. The girl had lost her damned innocence long ago, whether the scrap of flesh between her thighs was intact or not. Joffrey had done his fucking best to break Sansa Stark from the moment he ascended the throne.

And tonight it seemed Joffrey might succeed. The little bird wasn’t chirping, swearing undying love or eternal loyalty to please Joffrey and his entourage. She was weeping, her hitched breathing and sharp grunts of pain carrying easily to Sandor’s ears. He’d known the moment Joffrey broke her maidenhead – she’d sobbed and the Hound had heard the sharp crack of the king’s open palm on his new wife’s cheek.

I know you said you’d protect me from Joffrey when I become queen, Sansa had whispered to him in a rare moment alone before the wedding, but please only come if I ask. He’ll have you killed.

Not if I kill the royal bastard first, Sandor had rasped, fear and rage coiling in his stomach at the thought of what Joffrey would do to her once he’d claimed her for true. He’d seen what Joffrey had inflicted on the whores. He’d carried one to the Tower of the Hand to lay her at the halfman’s feet.

Promise me, Sandor, Sansa had insisted, curling her fingers over his gauntlet, all Tully blue eyes and earnest concern. Fuck him for a bloody fool but Sandor had given her his word.

So there he waited, the obedient Lannister dog, still as a gargoyle and just as useless. A wounded whimper echoed louder than it should and Sandor flinched, grinding his teeth so hard he expected them to crumble to dust in his mouth. He could hear Joffrey muttering obscenities, the rhythmic slap of skin on skin, and a guttural shout as the king finally peaked.

The hush that descended stretched on, broken by Joffrey’s quiet snoring and the tiny squeak of the hinges as the door opened just a crack beside him. Sandor could make out the angry red of a handprint on her cheek and the thought of how she’d received it frayed his fragile temper. Her wild tangle of hair and crumpled silken bedclothes obscured the rest.

“I’m all right,” Sansa whispered to him but the trembling of her voice spoke the truth.

“You’re a damn liar, little bird,” Sandor contradicted her bluntly and Sansa glanced up to catch his gaze. Gone were the days when she feared to look at him. Her eyes were bloodshot, her hands shaking as they rested against the edge of the door.

“You’ll stay?” She sounded so young, so vulnerable that he wanted to punch something. Preferably a golden-haired cunt who was sleeping off the wine and exertion of his wedding night.

“Aye. I’ll be here.” It was all he had to offer her.

The door closed once more and Sandor bowed his head.

::

Sandor heard the whispers, as did every other buggering git in the court of King’s Landing. Women tittered and men shook their heads, shooting stern looks at the young queen as she passed them in the Red Keep.

A year had passed since the wedding – since the fucking gods-cursed night that had sent Sandor diving into a keg of Dornish sour the moment his guard shift ended – and not once had Sansa conceived. Sandor stood by that fucking door time after time and willed her to call out to him, to let him intercede as he’d said he would. She bit her tongue more often than not – he’d seen the teeth marks on her lower lip often enough to guess the facts of the matter.

Sansa didn’t cry out any more. She lay beneath her royal prat of a husband and let him do as he pleased without a sound. Somehow that made it worse. At least when she wept with pain he knew she was alive, that the king had not strangled her to death in his frustration. He watched Joffrey rant and rave, listened while he hurled insults and heaped blame upon Sansa’s pretty head as month after month went by and her moon blood came upon her over and over again.

Your river-slut of a mother birthed five Stark brats, Joffrey raged, all but frothing at the mouth. What in the seven hells are you good for if you can’t whelp even one?

Nothing, my king, Sansa chirped serenely. Nothing at all. And Ser Meryn’s fist collided with her side.

Later that evening, the Hound’s fist collided with Ser Meryn’s face and several other parts of the man’s anatomy.

They called her a failure, the fucking nobles with their judgemental eyes and pitying looks. They laughed and japed and made a mockery of her where Joffrey couldn’t hear. She was reaping what her father’s legacy had sown, they said, and for the sins of her family the Seven would not grant her a child. They gossiped that Joffrey should have married Margaery Tyrell and damn it, Sandor agreed on that point. At least the Tyrell bitch had the power of Highgarden at her back. Joffrey wouldn’t have dared to treat Margaery with the same cruelty he showed to Sansa. Lord Tywin would not have allowed it.

He found her alone in the queen’s bedchamber one night while Joffrey was hunting in the Kingswood. She was standing before the mirror in her bedclothes, running her fingers over a fading bruise on her upper arm. The imprint of fingers was clearly visible and fury smouldered in Sandor’s gut. She caught sight of his reflection and her lips thinned as he approached.

“They’ll be gone by the time he gets back,” Sansa sighed, looking for all the world as if Joffrey were hunting her and not the five-point buck that had been reported by his huntsman.

“He’ll only give you more, little bird,” Sandor pointed out and Sansa shrugged her robe back up over her shoulders, whirling away from the mirror abruptly. She sat down on the edge of the bed and ran a hand over the opulent sheets.

“I can’t sleep,” Sansa admitted, her fingers fisting in the covers. “I keep thinking he’ll come back early just to spite me.”

Sandor circled around the bed and hunkered down in front of her so that he wasn’t towering over the girl like an aurochs. He saw her resignation, her capitulation, for what it was: armour. Joffrey was no Robert. Though the latter had not been a perfect husband by any bloody standard, he had not deliberately tried to beat Cersei down until she shattered. Joffrey would accept no less than submission and terror from his wife. The more Sansa distanced herself from what Joffrey did to her, the harder it was for him to truly own her. At least that’s what the little bird seemed to think.

Sandor found her reasoning pretty fucking flawed. He had a solution sheathed at his hip if she would only live up to her side of the bargain and ask. Damned buggering oaths.

“Call for me,” Sandor urged her, his voice a low taut rumble, putting a finger under her chin and forcing her to meet his eyes.

Sansa gazed at him for a long moment and lifted a hand to cup his burned cheek, her thumb stroking across the ruined skin. She shook her head, her vibrant hair falling around her face.

“No.”

::

“Dog!”

Sandor forced his every muscle to relax just enough for him to move from one side of the door to the other. He’d listened, tense as a bowstring, while Joffrey railed against the injustice of having a useless, stupid, barren bitch for a wife. It seemed that Sansa’s moon blood had made another unwelcome appearance.

The sight that greeted him made his jaw clench and his hand yearn for the freedom to wield his sword at the little shit who’d caused it. Ser Boros stood to one side and Sansa was on the floor by the bed, her hair hanging out of its southron stylings in wild chunks, her skirts torn apart to bare her legs to the thigh. She looked up at Sandor with enormous blue eyes full of tears, her skin pale as whey, and the ever-present knot of anger in his belly grew stronger.

“Your Grace.” Sandor bit the words out and they left a bad taste in his mouth.

“My lady is in need of a sharp lesson, dog,” Joffrey said in the oily, unpleasant tone that the entire court was familiar with. “Ser Boros, leave us.”

Boros bowed crisply and walked out as if nothing were amiss, head held high like a fucking peacock. Sandor glowered at him, mentally adding yet another mark to the large tally of affronts the man would one day have to answer for. The door closed with a resounding thud.

“My queen thinks to mock me,” Joffrey declared, staring down at Sansa with eyes full of contempt.

“No, Your Grace,” Sansa said desperately. “I would never –”

“She uses moon tea to stop my seed from taking root. Is it not so, my lady?” Joffrey continued harshly, his blue eyes like ice. “She conspires to thwart me, to rob me of an heir.”

“Your Grace –” Sansa tried again.

“You will be silent!” Joffrey snapped and Sansa obediently shut her mouth, shoulders hunched against his wrath. “You shall be punished.”

Sandor’s fingers curled around the hilt of his sword, a motion that Joffrey, in his arrogance, completely mistook.

“Oh, you’ll not be needing your sword for this punishment, dog. Not that sword, at any rate,” the king sneered and Sansa blinked up at the king, startled. The Hound stood frozen, only the discipline of long practice giving him the strength to remain still as the implications sunk in. The king had to be out of his fucking mind.

“M-my l-lord?” Sansa stammered uncertainly. “I-I don’t understand.”

Joffrey stepped towards her, forcing Sansa to crane her neck to look up at him. “You will whelp for me, my queen.” His tone was deceptively soft. “And until you do, you will play the bitch to my Hound every time you bleed.”

Sansa’s eyes went wide and she looked to Sandor with panic written plainly across her face. Her frightened expression cut Sandor to the core. After all this fucking time, after he’d promised to slay a king for her, the Hound was still more of a monster in her pretty eyes than the noxious brat who had just said he would share her with his dog.

“B-but... Joffrey, my moon blood... you can’t...!” Sansa protested, struggling to her feet. She looked like she might be sick and Sandor swallowed down the impulse to commit regicide as Joffrey slapped her with enough force that she fell back on the featherbed.

“You will do whatever I command, sweetling,” Joffrey told her with deadly calm, “but not on my bed. We wouldn’t want to make a mess now, would we?” He grabbed her roughly by the arm and dragged her over to the stone floor by the fireplace. Joffrey looked her over with a considering eye. “Take your hair down properly.”

Sansa lifted shaking hands and did as he bid, removing pin after pin from the mess Ser Boros had made of her hairstyle. Finally the auburn mass spilled freely over her shoulders. She was breathing fast and trying not to show it when Joffrey turned to the Hound.

“Fuck her.”

Sandor shifted uneasily. “Your Grace, the queen’s honour –”

“I don’t care about the queen’s honour,” Joffrey cut across him ruthlessly. “I care that she is a traitor, that she betrayed my sacred trust and she must be punished for it. Do you understand?”

And there it was – the bare bones of the matter. He was a fucking punishment to be inflicted upon her and one the girl didn’t welcome if her trembling was any indication. Sandor had done many things to the little bird. He’d frightened her, threatened her, tried to strip the blind idealism from her eyes by force... but he’d never physically hurt her.

His grip tightened on his sword yet again and over Joffrey’s shoulder he saw Sansa shake her head at him with pleading eyes.

“T-the king is right, d-dog. I should be punished,” Sansa blurted out, hugging herself and looking every one of her fifteen years. So damned young and still chirping in the hope of mitigating Joffrey’s hunger for blood and humiliation.

Ask, Sandor mouthed over the top of Joffrey’s head as the king smiled maliciously at her. Only when Joffrey looked back at the Hound did Sansa shake her head yet again. Always no. Sandor couldn’t understand it any better now than he had that first night. It would be so simple. His blade would slash across the king’s throat and Sandor would spirit her away from this buggering nest of vipers. He’d take her home, take her north to what little remained of her family.

He wasn’t supposed to take her like this.

“There, you see? Perhaps she’s not as stupid as I believed,” Joffrey chuckled, pushing Sansa’s hair back over her shoulders. She didn’t look at the king’s face as he found the ties of her ruined gown and unlaced them, stripping the garment from her with little ceremony. Her eyes were on the Hound, her hands flying up to cover her breasts as she stood in front of the fire in her silken smallclothes.

She seemed small, breakable and afraid compared to a rough brute like him.

“Well, dog?” Joffrey prompted him, his lip curling. “You can hardly fuck my queen in your armour.”

Sandor cleared his throat and turned away from the little bird’s gaze to begin stripping, ashamed to realize his cock had twitched at the image that had jumped into his mind of Sansa writhing beneath him. If he refused, odds were that Joffrey would take it into his blasted head to call Ser Boros back or give her to Ser Meryn. Gods knew the rest of the fucking Kingsguard had never been gentle with her in the past. They would not be inclined to start now.

Without a squire it was awkward work and it wasn’t until Joffrey snapped at Sansa to assist his dog that Sandor could bring himself to look at her again. She touched him tentatively, her hands fluttering between shielding her breasts and doing as she was told. Fuming at the entire situation, Sandor chose a spot on the wall to stare at and tried to think of the Blackwater as it blazed against the night sky for nothing would cool his blood faster than that. Upon realizing he was not ogling her, Sansa made short work of what remained, dropping each piece onto the floor until he was in only his breeches. He could feel her hands trembling all the while.

“In front of the fire, both of you,” Joffrey commanded and seated himself in a sumptuous high-backed chair that gave him an excellent view. His crossbow lay beside him on a small table, a quarrel already loaded.

Sansa was pink to the tips of her ears, the blush creeping down her neck, shivering – in fear or disgust Sandor couldn’t tell. Both, most likely.

“Take her from behind like the bitch she is,” Joffrey instructed and Sandor wished the young king into every one of the seven hells for that. Sansa had tears in her eyes as Sandor put a firm hand on her shoulder and pushed her down towards the cold stone. A sob escaped her lips and Sandor cursed his oath to her yet again.

Let me kill him, damn you!

He wanted to tell her he wouldn’t hurt her. He wanted to tell her that her sadistic shit of a husband was not the standard against which other men should be measured, but he didn’t dare with the king in earshot. Sandor got down on his knees before her, his hungry eyes raking over Sansa’s perfect form for a split-second before he turned her away from him and pressed on her back until she was on all fours. Her breath hitched miserably and he saw tears splash onto the floor, her whole body quaking.

Then it hit him. He could smell her – not just the scent that clung to her day after day but the metallic tang of her moon blood tinged the air now that she was down to her smallclothes. The thought of what he was about to do made Sandor faintly ill. One of the first lessons a boy was taught was that a woman was not to be touched while she was bleeding. Even Gregor wouldn’t cross that line.

“Get on with it, dog,” Joffrey said impatiently.

Sandor wanted to throttle him, to watch his eyes bulge and his lips go blue. What part of this was he supposed to find arousing? The all-too-obvious distress of the little bird or being watched by the king while he essentially raped the fucking queen?

He stripped the remaining covering from Sansa’s body, letting it pool around her knees and the moon-soaked cloth fell from between her thighs with it. He could see her mound, the pink flesh moist with blood, and through the hand that still rested on her hip Sandor could feel the tension in her. Sansa was as taut as the crossbow Joffrey was stroking and despite himself, the thought of fucking her was enough to make his cock jump. He unlaced himself with his free hand, stroking reassuring circles on her hip with the other.

Sansa looked over her shoulder, careful to make sure she twisted away from Joffrey, and gave Sandor a tiny, tremulous smile. He could see humiliation in her eyes and yes, there was trepidation there as well. The first he could do nothing about but the second he might be able to alleviate. He ran his hand over his dick, once, twice, three times to get the blood pumping and guided the head until it rested against her opening.

“Try to relax, little bird,” Sandor murmured as quietly as he could manage and slid into her in one long, smooth thrust. Sansa stiffened against him, a tiny mewl escaping her lips as he bottomed out inside her. It felt strange – the blood was thinner than a woman’s natural wetness but just as slick and when he withdrew his shaft was coated in it, the crimson glistening in the firelight. She was tight as he plunged in a second time, her muscles gripping him so hard it almost hurt.

Sandor was acutely aware of the crossbow in Joffrey’s lap as he found a rhythm, starting out as slowly as he could manage with their audience and building up speed as the minutes ticked on. He felt Sansa begin to settle into the cadence of it, her hips rocking back against his tentatively as the friction built and he kept his hands firmly on her hips to make it look as if he were guiding her movements. It wouldn’t do to let Joffrey think she was actually participating. Better that he saw what he wished – his queen being dominated.

He dared not explore her body as he desired, couldn’t cup the teats that bounced with every roll of his body against hers. He wanted to map out her curves and learn what felt good to her but that was folly. Sandor was breathing hard as he snapped his hips forward again and again, gritting his teeth against the exquisite pressure building in his cock.

A strangled noise was torn from Sansa’s throat and Sandor froze for a moment, registering for the first time that Joffrey was frowning. Sansa went rigid, realizing her mistake at the same moment Sandor did. It lasted only a heartbeat before Sandor started moving again, needing this to be over quickly. He was supposed to be her punishment, her penance, yet that had been a cry of pleasure rather than pain. He reached out and fisted his hand in her mass of auburn hair, dragging her upright so that her back was pressed against her chest.

“If you value your head, don’t make another sound until it’s over,” Sandor grunted in her ear. “Get ready to start crying, girl.”

Sansa’s fingernails dug into the meat of his thigh in answer and Sandor picked up the pace yet again, thrusting relentlessly until he lost his rhythm completely and spilled wildly inside her with a snarl of triumph. He was breathing hard as he came back down from his peak and with a heavy heart and stoic expression he let go of her hair, shoving Sansa away from him. He slipped out of her, his now-flaccid manhood covered in the same blood and seed that painted the inside of her legs, his knees protesting being subjected to hard stone.

The little bird collapsed onto the floor facing the fire and curled in on herself, dissolving into tears as Joffrey watched with his lip curling in satisfaction.

“Well done, dog,” the king declared, his eyes following the line of his wife’s shuddering body in the firelight. “Well done indeed.”

::

Sansa wouldn’t acknowledge him when other eyes were on them. He understood her reasoning. Joffrey expected her to hate him for being the tool that dishonoured her, to resent him for degrading her, but that didn’t ease the sting of rejection that Sandor felt at being so thoroughly ignored. Once upon a time he could have taken her chin in his hand and demanded that she look at him. That was impossible now. Joffrey watched him when he was in Sansa’s presence, delighting in the way the queen shrunk away from him.

On one of the few nights that Joffrey let her be and barred her from his presence, Sansa wandered the halls after everyone else was abed and found him at the base of the stairs that led to Joffrey’s chambers. Sandor knew there were fresh marks beneath her dress. He could picture them more vividly than ever having seen and felt and fucked what was underneath those silks.

“Sandor,” she greeted him quietly. “I was hoping I’d find you.”

“I don’t think the king would be pleased to hear that,” Sandor rasped, keeping his voice low so that they wouldn’t be overheard.

“Were you planning on telling him?” she asked with genuine curiosity.

Sandor met her eyes and after a moment he shook his head. “No. Your secret’s safe.”

Sansa’s lips curved upwards slightly. “I wanted to thank you for...” She broke off and blushed furiously, leading Sandor to wonder how far down the colour went. She looked terribly uncomfortable. “For being gentle.”

“Don’t thank me for fucking you on command, little bird,” Sandor warned her softly. “The king said I was to do so every time you bled until you give him an heir. Knowing his tastes, how long do you think he’ll let me be kind to you?”

Sansa’s face fell and she wrung her hands together. “I...” She licked her lips. “I didn’t know that it could...” She hesitated yet again and dragged in a deep breath, meeting his eyes. “It felt good... when you were inside me.”

Sandor’s guts clenched at her admission. He’d known that. He’d heard the noise she made as he pumped in and out of her, the one that had made Joffrey’s face darken. In that moment Sandor had realized she’d given him something she’d never given to the king and it had struck him to the heart.

“It’s supposed to feel good,” Sandor said in a gravelly voice, though strictly speaking he’d never been terribly concerned with satisfying the whores he’d paid to ignore his face and ride his dick. This girl had no way of knowing it could be different. Her only experience of sex had been with Joffrey and she’d been taught all her life that it was her duty to be bedded, not a pleasure. No wonder she sounded surprised that it could be enjoyable.

“Will you try to... could you try to make it feel good again?”

Sandor stared at her, at a loss for words. He wanted to say yes but he knew Joffrey would not want his wife to find gratification in fucking his Hound. All it would take was one ecstatic moan, one willing thrust of her hips against his and the king would know that Sansa’s chastisement had gone quite badly wrong. They’d gotten away with it once but Sandor wouldn’t count on luck again.

His indecision must have shown on his face because her eyes sparked crossly.

“Would you have me go to my grave knowing only Joffrey’s twisted idea of what ought to happen in a marriage bed?” Sansa challenged him, glancing about the corridor to make certain they were still alone.

Sandor’s grey eyes hardened.

“How is this notion of me getting you off in front of your husband when I’m supposed to be punishing you any less twisted, little bird?” Sandor rasped in return and watched her shoulders droop in defeat. “I’ll get a crossbow bolt in the neck and you’ll end up under Payne’s blade for treason just like your father did.”

Sansa turned and walked away from him without another word.

::

The queen had already been stripped naked the next time that Joffrey demanded Sandor’s presence in the royal chamber. She was sitting facing the fire with her knees drawn up to her chest and her hair falling about her like a curtain, the stone stained scarlet with the moon blood leaking from her body.

She didn’t even glance at him when he walked in.

Joffrey smirked as the Hound closed the door. “My lady has already had one lesson tonight from Ser Meryn,” he chuckled. “Time to begin the second.”

Sandor’s lips twisted angrily as he moved to look more closely at the little bird. Her arms and belly were marked with weals where she’d been struck repeatedly with the flat of a sword on bare flesh. Sansa’s gaze finally moved to meet his but her face was expressionless, her eyes red-rimmed from crying.

Seven buggering hells, Sandor cursed inwardly as her words floated back up to haunt him.

Could you try to make it feel good again?

He knew in that moment that he would. He’d do anything to erase that fucking dead look from her eyes, to make her forget some of the pain that Meryn and Joffrey had dealt out.

“You’ll look on his face tonight, my queen,” Joffrey taunted her, leaning down to let his hand encircle her throat like a necklace that could squeeze the life out of her at any given time. Sansa flinched at his touch. “You’ll look on the Hound’s ugly face and every second he’s inside you you’ll wish you carried my child rather than endure his touch again.”

“Yes, my king,” Sansa replied, her voice rough from weeping.

The Hound had known he’d be summoned. Every time the queen bled anew the word spread like wildfire. He’d worn no armour this time – it would serve no purpose lying discarded on the ground. Only his sword adorned his person as he waited for the king to give the order.

As before, Joffrey took his seat and cradled his crossbow lovingly, as if it were a pet. “Punish her for me, dog. Make her scream.”

Sandor wondered if the little blond bastard had any notion of how that last phrase could be interpreted as he stripped down to his breeches again – the same ones that had been stained with her blood the last time because he hadn’t thought to disrobe entirely. Sansa watched him closely, her teeth worrying her lower lip. Her eyes were on his lacings and he realized with a jolt that even though he’d fucked her before, she’d already been on her hands and knees when he’d gotten his cock out. She’d not seen him but she’d certainly felt him. He knew he was bigger than the king just from looking at the brat, though being larger than an adolescent boy was nothing to boast about.

Sandor advanced on Sansa until she scrambled back so that he wouldn’t step on her, leaving a bloody trail behind her. Better to give Joffrey a show of intimidating her. He stared down at her, taking in the teats that heaved with every breath she took and the thatch of curly auburn hair that guarded her sweetness.

He untied his laces slowly, lifting his half-hard dick free of its prison. Sansa’s blue eyes went wide, yet another blush suffusing her features as she stared at his length.

“I... I can’t... Your Grace, please, no!”

“You can and you will, as your king commands,” the Hound interrupted her, his voice cold as the stone beneath his feet, and Joffrey snickered. He made no move to take the breeches off. He wasn’t interested in giving the king an unimpeded view.

Please, little bird, understand what I’m doing and why, he thought as he went to his knees and grabbed for her, dragging her beneath him. Sansa squeaked in fright, scrabbling for purchase on the unforgiving floor as he parted her thighs and settled himself over her, his cock sliding against her wetness.

Sandor dipped his head and let his teeth scrape over her pulse point. “Ask me,” he begged her again, his voice harsh in her ear.

“No,” Sansa sobbed in reply and Sandor’s heart clenched at the sound. It was an answer that sounded like a plea for mercy to Joffrey, whose cruel smile only became wider, his eyes bright with anticipation.

“Take her, Clegane.”

Sandor obeyed like the dog he was, sinking into her all at once, the king’s eyes burning into his back. He felt Sansa’s thighs twitch as she tried to lie still beneath him for both their sakes, her hands flat against his chest where Joffrey couldn’t see them. The muscles of his stomach flexed and bunched under her touch as he withdrew almost completely and filled her again, drawing an almost inaudible murmur of encouragement from Sansa’s lips.

Seven hells, he wanted to kiss her when those same lips parted on a silent exclamation and she hid her face against his neck so that Joffrey wouldn’t see. On and on it went, the tempo increasing with every thrust until Sansa was panting as she fought every instinct her body possessed. Her thighs were shaking from the strain of resisting the urge to wrap them around his hips.

“Weep, damn you,” Sandor snarled in her ear when her breathing fractured dangerously.

Sansa let out a sob of sheer frustration, genuine tears leaking from her eyes with no other way to relieve the building pressure. Sandor began grinding against her, seeking the sweet spot and Sansa’s fingernails clawed at his chest, catching in the dark hair there. She was biting her lower lip so hard that it bled, scrunching her eyes shut in an effort to control what came out of her mouth.

Sandor was so close he could taste it, teetering on the gods-damned edge of one last crescendo, but Sansa was not quite there yet and he didn’t want to leave her behind. He slipped the hand furthest from Joffrey’s view between them, his fingers sliding through the tangle of his hair and hers, and after a few experimental strokes found that spot that made her hips jump and coaxed her into climaxing.

Sansa threw her head back, a broken keening erupting from her and in a last ditch effort to save their skins, Sandor reared up and clamped the same hand, coated in blood, over her lips. Sansa wrenched her head away and sank her teeth deeply into the side of his hand, the pain making him grunt as she shuddered beneath him. Sandor was distantly aware that Joffrey was laughing, thinking she was biting him to hurt him as he released inside the little bird at last.

Sandor collapsed atop her, utterly spent, and felt her stroke the side of him that Joffrey couldn’t see.

“Thank you,” Sansa whispered as she tried to catch her breath and Sandor gathered his remaining strength to roll off her. She was still quaking where she lay, her mouth smeared with the blood from his fingers and tear tracks staining her skin.

Sandor swallowed down bile when he heard Joffrey choke and gasp his way through his own peak a few feet away.

::

Sandor didn’t know how much more he could fucking well take. His hand throbbed for days, the imprint of teeth clearly visible where Sansa had drawn her own measure of blood. Once again she was treating him as if he didn’t exist, averting her eyes whenever he was in the vicinity, while the king took pleasure in making her squirm with veiled taunts and quiet threats.

Sandor’s temper grew more volatile and he found himself snapping and snarling at anyone who looked at him sideways. The Hound sent servants scuttling away in fear and squires shook in their boots in the face of his rage. He tried to drown himself in Dornish sour, losing hours here and there and waking up winesick with bruised knuckles, black eyes and torn clothes only to discover that the men he’d fought were far worse off.

Then one day he roused with a throbbing head and a roiling stomach and Sansa’s form solidified as his vision came into focus. He had no idea where in the seven hells he was – he didn’t recognize the room – but the little bird was sitting beside him on a bed of rushes, a heavy cloak drawn about her shoulders. Her hair was down, a handful or two drawn back in the Northern style, but the rest floated freely around her shoulders.

“I need you to stop doing this to yourself, Sandor,” Sansa told him, holding his eyes with concern on her beautiful face. She covered one of his hands with hers, exploring the hollows between his knuckles and circling the place where her teeth had left their mark. “You’re beginning to scare me.”

He looked away, unwilling to admit how much he hated the idea that they might have backtracked into old territory. “Nothing fucking new about that,” Sandor rasped, his throat raw and he surmised that he must have thrown up before he finally passed out.

This time, it was Sansa who grabbed him by the chin and forced him to look at her. “I’m afraid for you, not of you, Sandor,” she corrected him, honesty shining in those too-blue eyes of hers. “I care what happens to you, whether you believe me or not.”

Damn him, he did believe her. Part of him wanted to hate her for it. He’d spent so many years using his scars as a shield, frightening people into staying away, and all it had taken was one naive slip of a girl with stars in her eyes to get under his skin.

“Fucking hells, little bird, ask me,” Sandor beseeched her. “Do it and put us all out of our damned misery. I don’t understand why you won’t.”

“Soon,” Sansa said softly, stroking the hair away from the burned side of his face so that she could trace the scars with delicate fingers. Her lips followed the path her hand had followed, brushing across his temple, his cheekbone, the corner of his mouth. “I promise.”

Then she was gone.

::

“I’ve never tasted moon tea.”

Sandor had been in his chamber when there had been a knock at the door. He’d opened it expecting to find someone bearing an order for him to go to the king’s apartments where he would be required to humiliate the queen for a third time. The last few days had been torture, waiting for the inevitable command. Yet it had never come.

Sansa was standing there instead, glancing about as if she expected to be found at any moment.

He let her in quickly, silently swearing to disembowel the bloody fool who tried to run his mouth about the queen visiting the Hound’s room at twilight. Her confession had surprised the fuck out of him, to say the least.

“What the buggering hells are you talking about, little bird?”

“He softens if I don’t cry when he hurts me,” Sansa admitted and Sandor clenched his fists at the picture of Joffrey trying to bed her, hitting her, hurting her. “He needs me to weep or whimper or scream. So I don’t... and he can’t finish. He blames me because I have not given him a child and he’s right. It is my fault.”

Sandor’s temper flared. Of course the buggering cunt would blame Sansa for his own shortcomings, for his inability to fuck her like a normal man.

“Why are you telling me this?” It was agony to listen to it and know she wouldn’t let him do a damned thing to stop it.

“Because my moon blood hasn’t come. It always comes; it’s never late... except this time.”

Sandor stared at her, trying to decipher what she was telling him. “Do you want that royal bastard’s offspring growing in you, little bird?”

“No.” Sansa’s eyes were hard with determination. “Never. He can beat me all he likes. I’ll not give him an heir so long as it’s in my power to deny him.”

“He’ll kill you if you don’t,” Sandor cautioned her.

“He’ll kill me anyway when he learns that the moon blood my maids found on the sheets this morning came from a slaughtered aurochs.”

And just like that, it all fell into place in Sandor’s head. I’ve never tasted moon tea, she’d said. “You said he can’t...?”

“Can’t... and hasn’t,” Sansa replied anxiously. “If I am with child, it isn’t his.”

Sandor felt like he’d taken a mailed fist in the belly when Sansa reached up to cup his face in her hands, her fingers stroking gently over his skin. She kissed him then, a long soft press of her lips to his, and gazed deeply into his eyes.

“Sandor?”

“Aye, little bird?” he rumbled, a slave to her will in that moment.

“I’m asking.”