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Lingering Looks

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Sansa had gone from seething to sore. She was tired of sitting in the back of a wagon not knowing where they were headed. They had bound up Sandor, who sat in front of her, but they had not dared touch the daughter of Eddard Stark. The Brotherhood Without Banners had caught them at an inn. Sandor had been drinking. It was the first time he had laid hand on wine since they had fled King's Landing. At first, she had hoped his bindings hurt as much as they looked. Now, the sight of them only seemed to add to her own discomfort.

Their guard, a man named Kyle, had not said a word since climbing in and setting himself nearest to the canvas door. He had closed his eyes some moments ago and was now breathing deeply. Sandor himself had closed his eyes, but she could not tell if he really was asleep or not. All the same, Sansa took the opportunity to watch her traveling companion at her leisure. She studied his face, his eyelids, his brow, his mouth, his scars, his hair, lingering a little at his neck, his jaw. He had bathed and even shaved the night before but she could already discern the dusking of a beard. Her gaze fell on his large shoulders and broad chest. It felt liberating to be allowed to watch him like this after days of tension riding in front of him and nights sleeping beside him. She looked at his outstretched legs, inches away from her. Sandor had made any room in the Red Keep feel small because of his imposing stature. The wagon felt cramped with this body worthy of the Warrior. Her gaze wandered back upward till she met with a very awake-looking pair of grey eyes.

Sandor smirked. Sansa colored but kept her stare locked with his. His smug smile melted though his gaze remained intent. They stayed like this for a while as if seeing the other for the first time.

Sansa indeed thought she saw him in a new light since last evening. The way the men from the so-called brotherhood had treated him made her realize what a friendless life Sandor had led. Some of these men he had know for years and yet they had been triumphant in tying him. Maybe Sandor was right, they were all afraid of him, because otherwise catching him unaware (and unconscious) would not have looked like a such victory to them. Rats, Sandor would probably call them, or maybe toads?

Sansa frowned. Sandor probably read her frown as a sign of reproach because an expression that could only be described as apologetic on anyone else's face crossed his features. Well, he really was to blame for all this. She narrowed her eyes a little and bit her bottom lip trying to determine if he indeed felt bad for their situation. But Sandor's gaze went down to her lips which then opened without her consent. She watched as his stare jumped back to her eyes, only to catch herself watching his mouth in turn. All of a sudden the small wagon seemed to shrink and the air grew dense.

Beside them, Kyle snorted and puffed in his sleep. They both tensed in his direction only to see the man change position and resume his snoring. Sansa let out a quiet giggle. As she sat back contemplating their misfortune, an idea struck her. She pulled up her skirt revealing one slender calf. Amidst the jolting of the wagon, Sansa caught Sandor's sharp intake of breath. She pretended nothing was amiss as she retrieved from her boot a knife that she had stolen at the first inn they had stayed, thinking of her handmaid Shae.

Now, gripping the hilt, it was her time to smirk as she closed in on the bound up man in front of her. The way Sandor surveyed her approach only served to broaden her grin further. Kneeling beside him, she made for the ropes. She could feel his stare on her while she did her best to work quietly. They were as close to one another as when they rode Stranger, but somehow it had never felt as close as this, he had never smelled as clean as this either. The wagon hit a bump and Sansa was projected against Sandor, only stopping her fall by steadying a hand on his chest. She peered at him under her lashes before resuming her work. He still gave her his undivided attention.

At last the rope gave way and Sandor inhaled loudly. Sansa sat back and watched his body regain freedom, stretching like a statute of the Warrior coming to life. When finally he turned towards her, his smirk was feral.

* * *

Kyle was long past feeling his hands and feet when at last, the wagon came to a halt and one of his companions teared the canvas door open. Kyle's gag was swiftly removed, but once it became clear that he had had no idea that the pair was escaping with the Hound's horse and purse right under their noses that he had been sleeping when they gagged him, his companions faces started to harden. And indeed, the Brotherhood felt that justice had been made when they left him to spend the night tied to the very spot where his sleep had proven so injurious.

* * *

Several miles away, in the quiet of the night, Sandor brought Stranger to a halt and helped Sansa dismount, his hands lingering on her waist only slightly less than hers on his shoulders. Little did Sansa know that her dainty yawn and her gentle "Good night Sandor" left the big warrior lying awake long after she had gone to sleep, counting his blessings for the first time in his life.