Podricks knees buckled when he realized that the man who had joined the little girl with the sword was Sandor Clegane. The Hound. There was a sudden tension in the air and Brienne could feel it too, judging by the way her hand had just tightened on the pommel of her Valyrian steel sword.
“That’s Sandor Clegane” he managed and Brienne went rigid.
The little girl circled the big beast of a man and stood beside him grasping her sword. It looked to Podrick as if she was readying for a fight, which he found absolutely baffling since he himself would think two, three, four and five times before even considering something as foolish as fighting Lady Brienne. Although standing next to the Hound might have had something to do with it.
“You are Arya Stark”. Briennes voice sounded hollow with the realization and Pods mouth fell open.
The Hound reached for his sword. What was Arya Stark doing traveling with the former sworn shield of the king? Was she his prisoner? Then why would he let her carry a sword? Why would he care enough about her to get between her and a broadsword wielded by a knight?
Brienne was trying to convince Arya to come with them and Clegane was refusing. He seemed to care for her and Pod found it strange that this didn’t come as a surprise to him. The Hound, with his burns, his lethal fighting skills and his foul temper would not have struck Podrick as the caring type if it wasn’t for Sansa. Sweet Lady Sansa with the sad smile.
He remembered the day of the bread riots and the way Lord Tyrion had been pacing his chambers afterwards. He had no need for Pod, since he had taken to gulp down his wine straight from the decanter, but didn’t dismiss him either. Lord Tyrion, who seldom looked shaken, was pale and sweating, muttering about idiot boy kings and the cursed womb of Queen Cersei. Podrick knew he didn’t mean it. He loved Prince Tommen and Princess Myrcella, but that love seemed to be outweighed by his hate for the king. That afternoon at least.
“.. and thank the heavens for Clegane” Lord Tyrion had said before emptying the last of the wine with one big swallow. Podrick thought he had seen a glint of tears in his masters eyes, but couldn’t be sure.
“That poor girl, as if it weren’t bad enough to be bethrowed to that monster of monarch, she is nearly dragged of by his charges.” Tyrion flung the empty winebottle at the wall and it shattered, raining tiny shards in the thousands over the floor. He slumped down in a chair. All the fight had gone out of him.
“She seems to have domesticated The Hound some how. A loyal dog rescuing the lonely wolf” Lord Tyrion had sighed with a sad smile. “ He growls and he barks, but seems to genuinely care for the girl” he said as if baffled by the concept.
Podrick had watched The Hound around Lady Sansa from that day on. Since Pod rarely said much people often forgot he was even in the room. To say that Sandor Clegane was kind towards her would have been stretching the truth. He did growl and he did bark, just as Lord Tyrion had put it. Most of the time he seemed to ignore her. And then there were the fleeting moments when The Hound would glance at Lady Sansa. Split seconds when Podrick could see that the beautiful girl with the red hair wasn’t as alone in King’s Landing as she she might think.
Swords were being drawn. Not fully unsheathed but the intent was there.
“Come with me Arya, Lady Brienne was begging the child, I will take you to safety”.
“Safety? Where the fuck's that? Her aunt in the Eyrie is dead. Her mother's dead. Her father's dead. Her brother's dead. Winterfell is a pile of rubble. There is no safety, you dumb bitch. You don't know that by now, you're the wrong one to watch over her.", The Hound spat.
Watch over her. The words rang loudly in Pods ears. Watch over her. Like he had been doing with Sansa. Protecting her. A guard dog in the shape of The Hound.
They had drawn their swords now.
Pod stumbled between the fearsome warriors towards Lady Arya with his hands outstretched, as if begging not to be cleaved in half by The Hounds sword.
“W-we know where Lady Sansa is” he stammered, forcing himself to meet Lady Arya’s eyes and then glancing over at The Hound.
She looked uncertain for a moment, making her face appear even younger than her years. Then her eyes grew hard and her jaw clenched. She raised her tiny sword and placed the point against Podricks jugular. Lady Brienne gasped, but did nothing. What could she do, he thought, charge the small girl she had sworn to protect?
“You’re r lying” the girl said with a voice dripping of venom. Pod could feel the skin on his neck splitting ever so lightly and beads of blood begun to trickle. He swallowed causing the blade to penetrate deeper. It may be a small sword but sharp as a razor, he thought as he tried to think of a way to convince Lady Arya. He glanced over to The Hound who was scowling at him as if trying to determine his sincerity by sheer force of a furrowed brow.
“Lord Baelish has her” he managed , locking eyes with The Hound, doing his very best to keep from shaking or worse, soil himself in front of two great fighters and what looked to be a tiny warrior in the making. For a split second Podrick saw what looked like genuine fear and worry flitting through the grey eyes of Sandor Clegane, and then it was gone and replaced by a white hot fury. In on quick stride he descended on Podrick, heaving him up in the air by his leather jerkin. He could hear Lady Brienne scream something but his ears didn’t seem to be working properly, with The Hound burnt face mere inches from his own, and he couldn’t make out what exactly.
“You are playing a very dangerous game, boy. Tell me why I shouldn’t split you open cunt to mouth with my fists for telling lies?” He rasped, so close to Podricks face that he could feel the mans voice reverberate through what little space was between them.
Pod felt like crying but managed to pull himself together long enough to shake his head.
“I-I promise I’m not, ser, we saw her at an inn a couple of days ago, I recognized her from court and Lord, Littlefinger too. He had many men with him so Lady Brienne wasn’t able to fight em all.” he managed. Then his bladder gave out and he pissed himself in front of one of Westeros most fearsome killers, his master and Lady Arya Stark.
“He’s not a ser” Lady Arya said, and looked at puddle that was forming beneath Pods dangling feet. Then she spoke to The Hound. “Why would he lie if he is scared enough of your gnarled face to wet himself just by looking at you”. She shrugged. “Might as well hear what he has to say”.
Podrick could feel the hands on his jerkin tightening and then, suddenly he was falling. He hit the ground with a thud, catching his breath and trembling all over.
“If a single lie slip past those quivering lips of yours I will let the little wolf practice her knife skills on your piss reaking flesh, boy”. A low growl sounded from deep in his scarred throat and he gave Pod a look that would have guaranteed a loss of bladder control if it hadn’t already emptied all over his own breeches and shoes.
“And you, he said, turning to Brienne, I trust that your not as stupid as you are ugly”. He spat at the ground in front of her.
Lady Brienne shot the Hound a disgusted look.
’”Are you?”, she asked with a calm voice.
The Hound stared at her for a moment and then turned to walk over to the horses.
“Have your squire make a fire, we have a rabbit for skinning” he said and sheeted his sword. He didn’t take the hand of the pommel, something Pod was sure Lady Brienne had noticed too.
She walked over to where he lay panting and reached out her hand. He took it and she hoisted him to his feet.
“You did good Podrick”, she said.
Pod nodded feebly and went to find sticks and kindling for the fire.