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Search for the Shattered Star

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A little thrill of excitement shivered up Sansa’s spine when she saw Sandor Clegane hunched over the table in the Museum of the Seven Kingdoms staff room. The other players were all there already too, except for Arya who was at her side, eyes glued to her phone screen whilst she texted someone. Sansa only wanted to enjoy the sight of the taciturn head of the Antique Machinery Division in a rare instance of post-work socialisation, but now Margaery Tyrell was waving at them.

Sansa waved back at Margaery, nudging Arya to pay attention.

“I’m messaging my supervisor,” muttered Arya, still focused on her phone. “I’m not sure if the new broadsword is from the reign of Maekar I Targaryen or Daeron II Targaryen. I need his opinion before tomorrow.”

Sansa gave a neutral hum in response. If the new acquisition was a tapestry or an item of clothing, she might have an opinion, but weaponry was very much not her field of expertise.

Sandor, she noticed, was fiddling with a pen, frowning at some writing on the piles of paper in front of him. His hair had flopped forward, as it often did when he wasn’t working on an engine, hiding most of his face. A blue-haired figurine sat just above the pile, what looked like a tiny woman holding an early type of firearm.

She’d already seen Sandor earlier in the day when he came to the preservation lab, to consult with her on how best to handle the seat covers of an antique automobile that he was working on. Samwell had squeaked in alarm then pointedly buried himself in cleaning the ancient, recently donated portrait of Aegon the Conqueror. Textile preservation was Sansa’s speciality anyway, and she had greatly enjoyed her consultation with Sandor.

Sansa had had a secret crush on him for months. Ever since she had moved to Kings Landing and joined Arya, who had been employed whilst writing her PhD on early Valyrian weaponry, as part of the museum staff. She had been nursing a broken heart after her relationship with Harry Hardyng imploded, if you could call finding your boyfriend in bed with two other women imploding, and had found comfort in admiring Sandor from afar. As far as Sansa could tell, and admittedly Sandor was very hard to read, he didn’t seem to have any interest in her in return. She did wonder if he might be sensitive about his appearance and how it might affect potential relationships. His scars were undeniably disfiguring, but Sansa still found him desperately attractive with his hulking physicality, blunt honesty and passion for his job. She was almost completely sure he was both heterosexual and single, but it would be rude of her to assume he found her as desirable as she found him.

The museum co-director, Stannis Baratheon, looked absorbed in reading something, but the others hailed her and Arya.

“Take a seat, ladies,” said Tyrion Lannister, saluting them with his glass of wine. “I look forward to providing my healing services to some new party members.”

“’Healing services’,” said Margaery, making air quotes. “Tyrion means he follows Calistria, goddess of lust, and heals people in ways you might want to avoid.”

Margaery flicked her warm brown hair back off her face and Sansa, Arya and Tyrion all watched the movement. It was like viewing a shampoo commercial, and Sansa experienced a jab of Hair Envy. She suspected that museum visitors often stopped at the library just so they could watch Margaery and Margaery’s hair at work.

Tyrion shrugged. “I fulfil an important role.”

Stannis made an abrupt movement and turned to scribble something on the whiteboard positioned behind him. Her name was on it and she read through the list that Stannis had written in his admirably neat handwriting.

 

Museum of the Seven Kingdoms: Staff RPG club

Stannis Baratheon – Dungeon Master

Sandor Clegane – gnome artificer – Zonox

Margaery Tyrell – dwarven fighter – Runa Cragsword

Tyrion Lannister – human cleric of Calistria – Mirabelle Tittington

Jaqen H'ghar – human rogue – a nameless man

Arya Stark – half-orc rogue – Griselda Ballsach

Sansa Stark – elven druid – Midnight Fairheart

 

So the blue-haired figure was a gnome. She took the empty seat beside Sandor, tickled that he had chosen to play a tiny little character.

“Hi Sandor,” she said brightly.

He didn’t look at her, just muttered a brief greeting in response.  

Feeling awkward about Sandor’s tepid reply, she turned back to Arya. Her sister was taking the seat on the other side of Sansa, across from the head of Human Resources, Jaqen H’ghar.

“Why are you even here?” Arya was saying to Tyrion as she sat down. “You aren’t staff.”

“Philanthropy can open many doors,” said Tyrion mysteriously. “And even billionaire playboys need hobbies.”

Stannis cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention. “Sansa and Arya have kindly agreed to join our group, to make up numbers after that regrettable incident last time with Hot Pie, Varys and the cheese fondue.” He looked sternly around the table. “Which, might I remind you, we agreed to never discuss again.”

There was a general murmur of agreement and Margaery gave a delicate shudder. Sansa was intrigued, and made a mental note to ask Tyrion about it later, when he’d had a few wines.

Stannis fixed her with a gimlet eye. “Sansa. You are meeting this group of adventurers for the first time, could you describe your character please.”

“Alright,” said Sansa nervously. “My name is Midnight Fairheart. I’m an elf with dark purple eyes and long blue-black hair. I travel with my companion, a direwolf named Glimmer.”

“My suggestion would have been better,” Arya interjected.

Sansa frowned at her sister. “Wolfy McWolfface is not a proper name for a trusted companion.”

Arya scowled ferociously. “It’s a great name. You just have no taste.”

“Ladies, please,” Stannis said. “Sansa, kindly continue.”

“Oh. Okay, well I’m a druid, and I have left my solitary existence wandering the wilds of Varisia in order to undertake this important quest.”

“What are you wearing?” asked Tyrion, then yelped and clutched his leg.

Margaery wore the smug smile of someone who had just kicked someone else under the table.

“I am wearing a sturdy collection of leather armour, all fashioned by my own hand.”

Arya smirked at Tyrion. “You’re shit out of luck, Lannister, actual women don’t have their characters wear fucking impractical chain mail bikinis and that shit.”

“Hey my character is wearing a chain mail bikini.” Tyrion gestured to the scantily clad figurine in front of him, who was wearing scraps of metal over gravity defying bosoms.

“Yes exactly.” Arya rolled her eyes.

Sansa glanced at Sandor out of the corner of her eye. He seemed to be ignoring the discussion and was doodling what looked like engine diagrams on his paper.

Stannis cleared his throat. “If we could just get back to the matter at hand...”

Tyrion waved a hand to shush Stannis without even looking at him. “But wait, how can you tell if someone is a woman unless they are wearing armour shaped for a woman.” Tyrion gestured in front of himself to indicate curves.

Arya let out an indignant squawk. “A female wearing armour is wearing female armour you sexist cockwomble.”

Stannis bought his hand sharply down on the table and everyone jumped at the sudden noise. “This conversation is getting derailed. We are hearing from Sansa about her character. Please continue.” Stannis motioned towards Sansa, glaring at anyone else who looked like they might speak.

“Ahh, that’s it really,” said Sansa, keen to avoid sparking any more debate.

“That was acceptable,” Stannis intoned, “thank you Sansa. Now you all see a raven-haired druid sitting at a table in the tavern. Where is your direwolf companion?”

“She is sitting quietly behind my chair,” said Sansa, thinking quickly.

Finally Sandor did something other than stare at his papers. “Aren’t direwolves the size of fucking horses?” he rasped.

Sansa jumped a little at the sound of his voice, then heat started pooling between her legs. She sternly reminded herself to focus on the game, not get sidetracked by her regrettable crush.

Stannis turned to Sansa and raised his eyebrows in question.

“Okay,” Sansa replied, “she is sitting very quietly behind my chair.”

Sandor snorted. “Fair enough.”

“So,” Stannis continued, “beside Midnight Fairheart and her horse-sized direwolf sits another woman. Arya, would you care to describe your character.”

Arya grinned and cracked her knuckles. “I am a half-orc rogue, so I have green skin, black hair and you can see the tips of fangs poking out of my mouth. My head is shaved except for a long, badass, braided ponytail.”

“Are you named Orchy McOrcface?” whispered Sansa, with a glance at Stannis to see if he objected to her speaking out of turn.

Arya gave Sansa the middle finger without looking at her. “My name is Griselda Ballsach.”

Margaery gave a musical peal of laughter. “Arya, that’s an appalling name,” she said between giggles.

“You love it,” Arya said unrepentantly, then pointed at the board that contained their character names. “Anyway look it’s spelled B-A-L-L-S-A-C-H, so it’s perfectly fine. It’s not my fault the c is hard and the h silent.”

Sansa laughed. “It is exactly your fault Arya.”

“A girl has chosen a strong name,” said Jaqen, speaking for the first time that evening.

Everyone looked a little surprised Jaqen had spoken, even Stannis.

“Well,” said Arya, recovering first. “Thanks big guy.”

Jaqen nodded elegantly in her direction.

“Anyway, it’s better than making my character sound like they should be on that variety show.” Arya pursed her lips in thought. “You know, the one Varys likes. With that pop star?”

Margaery frowned. “Daenerys Targaryen?”

“That’s the one,” said Arya, grinning.

“We’ve had audio recordings of old episodes of the Daenerys Targaryen Variety Hour playing on repeat in the library.” Margaery’s voice held a long-suffering air.

“Oh, that sounds awful,” said Sansa sympathetically.

She and Sam were both content to work in productive silence in the preservation labs. The thought of having to examine and preserve delicate textiles accompanied by the bubble gum pop music of Daenerys Targaryen playing was a daunting thought.

Jaqen bowed his head slightly at Margaery. “A man can register a human resources complaint?”

“No thank you Jaqen,” said Margaery, “it’s fine.”

“A DRUID AND A ROGUE ARE SITTING AT A TABLE IN A TAVERN,” said Stannis loudly, and the chatting finally ceased. “Which is convenient,” he continued more quietly, “Because you, Mirabelle Tittington, are looking for two more members of your party so you can undertake the mission you have signed up for.”

“I still fucking object to that cunt being in charge,” Sandor muttered.

“We rolled for leadership fair and square,” said Tyrion, “and I won. Anyway, Mirabelle is a cleric and we are naturally trustworthy and should be in a leadership position.”

Sandor shook his head. “You’ve fucked your way across half of Varisia.”

“It’s my job,” replied Tyrion primly. “And might you recall the rule we had about no slut shaming in the Role Playing Zone of Friendship and Safety?” He gestured to indicate the table they were sitting at.

Sandor muttered something under his breath that Sansa didn’t quite catch but that Tyrion seemed to interpret as an apology.

Bickering about the hierarchy of their band of adventurers continued until an exasperated Stannis finally informed them that they only had to journey to the cellar of the Inn. One floor down. Apparently the tavern keeper had heard some noises coming from beneath the cellar.

“Why is this adventure called ‘Search for the Shattered Star’ then?” said Tyrion, sounding annoyed. “It should be named ‘Journey to the Boring Basement’.”

“Tyrion,” said Margaery patiently, “We don’t know what is below the basement.” She raised her voice. “Runa would like to examine the room for any small barrels of mushroom ale she can siphon. My personal ale supply is running low.”

“Roll a Perception check please Runa,” said Stannis.

While Margaery was having her turn hunting for ale, Sansa looked over her character sheet again. She’d read the players handbook in preparation for this evening and studied her carefully calculated character sheet but learning something in theory would only take you so far. The character sheet was a bewildering array of numbers. She had spells to cast too though at least they had names that generally represented what they were supposed to do. She’d seen one named ‘Prestidigitation’ when she was reading the players handbook, and was relieved to find she didn’t need to worry about that spell. She’d stick to things like ‘Call Lightning’ and ‘Control Weather’ thank you very much.

Sandor glanced over at her. “If you get stuck,” he muttered, “just ask me. I played a druid in our last campaign.”

“Thank you,” Sansa whispered in reply. “There’s a lot to remember.”

“Midnight and Zonox,” said Stannis, staring pointedly at her and Sandor to get their attention, then he looked around the table. “Now that the barrels of ale have been moved, you’ve all now noticed the trapdoor in the floor. What does the group want to do?”

“Can I open it and take a peek down into the darkness?” said Arya. “I do have dark vision.”

Stannis nodded. “Roll a perception check.”

Arya rolled one of her dice. “That’s an eighteen plus fifteen, so that’s thirty-three.”

Stannis checked something on his notes, which were hidden behind a tall cardboard screen. “The drop is about fifteen metres. The floor of the cavern looks damp and spongy.”

“Okay, I’m going to jump down,” said Arya, grinning.

There was a general commotion triggered by her words.

Margaery looked aghast. “Arya, wait for me to go first. It’s not safe for you on your own.”

“A girl should not split the party.” Jaqen narrowed his eyes at Arya.

“I don’t have that many healing spells,” Tyrion huffed. “And the favour of my goddess is running low. It’s been days since I made sweet love to that Duke’s son and his entourage.”

Sansa made a mental note never to play as a cleric of Calistria. “Arya, jumping into a cavern doesn’t seem like a good idea,” she said.

Arya looked mulish. “Too late, I’ve already jumped. Griselda is a rogue, I’ll be fine.”

“I’ll protect you!” Margaery looked at Stannis. “Runa will jump after her.”

Stannis pinched the bridge of his nose. “Both of you roll Athletics checks, to see how much damage you’ll mitigate.”

Sansa snuck a glance at Sandor while Arya and Margaery rolled dice and calculated the results of their jump. He was looking at the other party members, what seemed to be a slight smile hovering on his lips.  

It turned out that the jump was survivable, just, with Arya’s Griselda Ballsach and Margaery’s Runa Cragsword only taking a moderate amount of damage. They were swiftly joined by the other players jumping through the hole, except Sandor’s gnome.

“Zonox, what are you doing while this is happening?” Stannis tapped his pencil on the edge of his privacy screen.

Sandor cleared his throat. “Is there a ladder?”

The rest of the party fell silent

Stannis’s lips twitched upwards. “Yes, there is a ladder.”

“Well shit,” said Tyrion, exasperated.

“I’ll climb down the fucking ladder,” said Sandor smugly. “Taking no fucking damage at all.”

Stannis nodded, then looked at Sansa. “You have a giant direwolf left in the cellar.”

“Oh. Ah…” Sansa had forgotten about her character’s animal companion.

Tyrion leaned forward, resting his elbows on the huge pile of papers in front of him. “We should have carried it. Down the ladder. Which is apparently there.”

Sandor sighed audibly. “The fucking thing is the size of a horse.”

“Could she jump down the hole too?” ventured Sansa.

Margaery nodded enthusiastically. “Let her try to land on me. My dwarf can handle anything.”

Sansa had her direwolf jump down into the cavern, only slightly crushing Margaery’s character.

The other players were discussing the next course of action when Sandor handed Sansa the plate of Margaery’s homemade brownies which had been passed around the table. She took it, letting her fingers brush against his.

“Thank you, Sandor,” she whispered.

A blush suffused the unscarred side of his face. “Fine,” he muttered in response.

Sansa shook her own hair back, in what was no doubt a far less shampoo commercial way than Margaery.

She realised Sandor was still looking at her, though he hastily directed his gaze towards the table when he apparently noticed she’d caught him. Sansa’s heart started racing.

“Let’s go!” said Tyrion, interrupting their moment, “onwards into this lovely moist cavern.”

Chapter Text

As soon as Tyrion spoke, the lights in the staff room flickered as a faint crash of thunder sounded outside.

“Must be a bad fucking storm,” muttered Sandor, looking up at the roof as if he could see through it

“We’re in the middle of the building, with rooms all around us,” said Sansa, passing the plate of brownies to Arya after selecting one for herself. “I can’t believe we can hear anything that’s happening outside.”

Arya’s phone dinged for a message. “Storm warning,” she said, squinting at the phone. “Severe thunderstorms,” she read aloud, “are likely to produce damaging winds and large hailstones in the warning area over the next several hours. Locations which may be affected include the greater Kings Landing area including outer suburbs, Blackwater Bay and Kingswood areas.”

Stannis hummed and drummed his fingers on the table. “Do you wish to continue playing, or stop here before the storm gets worse?”

Tyrion made a careless gesture with his wineglass. “This is Kings Landing. Storms here are never that bad. They send those warning messages at the slightest provocation.”

There was a chorus of general agreement.

“There you go, Dungeon Master,” said Tyrion, flashing Stannis a grin, “the mob has spoken.”

Stannis nodded, glanced down at his notes then his voice rose again. “You enter the cave…”

“Moist cavern,” Tyrion murmured.

Stannis ignored him. “…and can hear the distant sounds of people talking. You can make out the words ‘Shattered’ and ‘Star’. What do you do?”

“A man would like to stealth,” Jaqen intoned.

Sansa jumped as Jaqen spoke. She kept forgetting he was there.

Arya sat up straight. “I would like to stealth too, so I can follow the, um, nameless man and scout the area.”

“You may both roll a stealth check,” said Stannis.

Arya and Jaqen’s respective characters scouted ahead, leaving the rest of them waiting. Tyrion and Margaery availed themselves of more wine. Sandor had started doodling on his notes again whilst idly rolling his dice over the backs of the fingers of his free hand. He had long fingers with a dusting of dark hair across the knuckles. Sansa did like a man with strong hands. Large, strong hands.

Sansa leaned towards Sandor, after waving away Tyrion’s offer of wine. “I like your dice,” she whispered. “Where did you get them?”

Sandor blinked at her, as if surprised she was speaking to him again so soon after the moment they had over the plate of brownies. “I made them myself,” he said after a slight pause.

“They are amazing! I didn’t know you could make them at home.” Sansa had never actually considered dice before she found out she needed some for the staff role playing night, but she wanted to talk to Sandor again. She was telling the truth though, his dice had caught her eye, even if his hand had caught her eye even more.  

“I make my own silicone moulds and use resin for the dice themselves.”

Sansa had a quick glance around the table, but the efforts of the rogues still occupied the attention of the other players and Stannis. “So you can make them look like little galaxies?”

Sandor gave a short nod. “Yeah, with coloured sparkles and that kind of shit.”

“Can I have a closer look?”

Sandor waved his hand towards his dice. “Knock yourself out”

Sansa picked up the biggest dice, the twenty sided d-twenty, and examined it. It was gorgeous, swirls of dark blue and black mixed with silver glitter. “It’s so pretty,” she said, glancing at Sandor.

“Aye, it is,” he said, studying her face.

“Sansa!” Arya’s voice bought her back to reality. “Stop fondling Sandor’s dice and pay attention.”

“Oh I’m sorry,” Sansa said, abashed. She gently put Sandor’s dice back and focused back on the group. “Did you need me?”

“As I was saying.” Stannis’s voice was a dry as a Dornish desert. “There are bioluminescent plants on the walls of the cave.”

Sansa blinked. “Okay?”

Margaery coughed delicately into her glass of wine. “That seems very druidy,” she said gently.

Sansa’s brain caught up with the rest of her. “Oh. Ohhh! I would like to examine the plants?”

Margaery nodded, smiling encouragingly.

“Roll for Knowledge Nature then please,” said Stannis.

Sansa ran her finger down the list of skills on her character sheet. “Geography, History, Local, oh there we go, Nature.” She rolled her clear green d-twenty, which was nothing like as nice as Sandor’s one. “Thirteen plus eleven is twenty-four.” She looked up at Stannis.

He nodded. “Midnight Fairheart examines the plants on the wall. You determine they are, in fact, a type of algoid, which will attack to defend their cave if you disturb them.”

Sandor leaned forward. “I want to fire my electromagnetic projector at it,” he said, “to emulate the spell lightning bolt.”

Sandor’s actions triggered an altercation with what turned out to be a group of plant men. They all had to roll their dice to determine what order they would go in during the fight.

Sansa looked through her list of spells when it was her turn. “I would like to cast…” she pursed her lips in thought. “Call Lightning!”

Margaery clapped excitedly, only avoiding spilling her wine because Tyrion smoothly removed the glass from her hand.

“Kick their asses, big sis,” said Arya.

“I’ll need to roll a reflex save,” said Stannis. “What’s your spell DC?”

Sansa frowned over the unfamiliar terminology. “My what?”

Sandor leaned over and pointed to a section on the second page of her character sheet. Sansa was grateful for the help but she was suddenly aware of the fact he smelled really good and that was very distracting. Was that engine grease? Whatever it was, Sansa liked it. A lot.

She refocused back on the game with some difficulty, glancing at where Sandor had pointed to the sheet of paper. “It’s a third level spell, so nineteen.”

Stannis rolled some dice. “The algoid has failed the reflex save, so please roll three d-six dice to reveal the damage.”

Sansa only had two six-sided dice in the set she’d bought for the occasion, but she was about to ask Arya for one of hers when Sandor handed her one of his homemade galaxy dice.

“Thank you,” she said.

This time his fingers brushed hers and her cheeks grew hot. She managed to get through the rest of her turn, but the instant it was over she couldn’t recall what had happened.

Sansa felt like a ridiculous teenager, losing her head over twice touching the hand of someone she had a crush on. She hadn’t had sex with anyone since she broke up with Harry, which was nearly ten months ago now. Clearly celibacy was making her a little bit crazy. Next she’d be flashing him a glimpse of her ankle and thinking that was titillating.

She let out an involuntary snort of laughter at the thought of Sandor’s confusion if she seductively displayed her ankle to him, as if she was a temptress from a century ago.

Stannis’s voice trailed into silence and Sansa realised too late that she’d laughed in the middle of his heartfelt narration of the tragic backstory of the creatures they’d been fighting. The narration that she’d only been half listening to.

“Ahh, sorry,” Sansa said, apologetically. “I had something, um, caught in my throat.”

Arya made a coughing noise that sounded suspiciously like “Bullshit.”

Sansa kicked her sister under the table. Arya kicked her back.

Stannis shot them both a dubious look, but mercifully launched back into his oration.

“I was going to make a cup of tea,” Sansa whispered to Sandor, trying very hard not to think about engine grease. “Did you want a hot drink?”

“I’ll have another coffee,” he murmured, handing her his empty mug. Their fingers touched again. “White, no sugar. Thanks.”

She felt her face flame hot again. Finger touches and engine grease. She was losing the plot.

“I’ll have a tea thanks Sansa,” said Arya loudly as Sansa stood up with her and Sandor’s mugs in hand.

Sansa turned so Sandor couldn’t see her face and poked her tongue out at Arya.

Arya handed her mug over and grinned unrepentantly.

Sansa made the hot drinks at the little kitchen on the other side of the room and listened as the party ventured further into the cave. She was carrying them carefully back to the table as Arya’s rogue happened upon a small chest that she pried open.

“You’ve found a ring in the chest, which is positioned beside a ledge in the cavern. You notice that the ledge leads to a precipitous drop,” Stannis said, flicking through the pages of one of his hardcover game books.

Arya jiggled in her chair with excitement. “Can anyone tell me what kind of ring it is?”

Sansa pulled her chair back in properly and scanned down her list of skills. “I have Spellcrafting as a skill?”

Stannis glanced upwards and grimaced as a particularly loud crash of thunder sounded. “Make a Spellcrafting check then please, Midnight.”

Sansa rolled her twenty-sided dice. It came to rest against the coaster where her mug of tea sat. She squinted at the number. “Oh no, it’s a one.”

There were a series of groans around the table.

“Critical fail,” said Margaery, sounding aghast.

Stannis looked at Sansa. “You examine Griselda Ballsach’s ring.” He pronounced the surname ‘Ball-satch.’

“Midnight! At least take me to dinner first,” said Arya with faux outrage.

Stannis scowled and ostentatiously ignored Arya. “Midnight, you examine the ring,” he said in a louder voice. “It looks like a ring. A completely ordinary ring.”

“Sorry Griselda,” said Sansa sadly.

Arya banged her hand down on the table. “I still think it’s magic. I’m going to put it on.”

“It might be a cursed ring,” said Tyrion, sounding concerned. “We should wait until we’re in a city and can have a wizard check it for you.”

“Oh please,” said Arya, rolling her eyes. “What’s the worst that can happen? I put the ring on.”

She looked expectantly at Stannis and grinned broadly.

There was a pause.

Sandor shook his head and sighed.

“Did anything happen?” asked Arya, still grinning though it was looking a little fixed.

“Everything appears to be as it was,” Stannis intoned.

Arya leaned forward and peered at Sansa. “Midnight. Can you still see me?”

Sansa looked between her sister and Stannis. “Can I still see her?”

Stannis gave a single nod. “You can still see her.”

Arya bit her bottom lip. “So it’s not a Ring of Invisibility. Wait, we’re right beside that ledge. I bet it’s a Ring of Fly left there so we can easily get down. I jump up in the air, does anything happen?”

“At the apex of your jump, you feel lighter.”

“Yes! I told you it was a Ring of Flying!” said Arya. “I’m going to jump off the ledge.”

Sansa gasped. “Arya, no.”

Sandor took a sip of his coffee and shook his head slightly.

“Arya, yes! Griselda jumps off the ledge, launching herself into a badass flying manoeuvre.”

“Runa would like to try to grapple Griselda to stop her jumping off the edge,” said Margaery, looking worried.

“You can’t stop me!” said Arya indignantly.

“Roll a grapple check please, Runa Cragsword,” said Stannis, ignoring Arya again.

Margaery rolled her twenty-sided dice and gasped at the result. “Oh seven hells,” the librarian swore, “it’s a one.”

“Two critical fails in a row for the group, that’s horrible luck,” said Sansa sympathetically.

“Griselda jumps off the ledge,” said Arya, triumphantly.

Stannis pursed his lips. “Griselda jumps off the ledge,” he said in agreement.

There was another pause.

Sandor facepalmed.

“Sucks to be you guys, I can fly!” Arya made a zooming motion with her hand.

“Griselda is plummeting off a cliff,” said Stannis, deadpan.

Arya’s jaw dropped. She stopped with her hand still in the air. “Wait, what?”

Margaery groaned.

Stannis’s lips twitched minutely. “Do the rest of you do anything?”

“I look over the edge,” said Sansa. “What do I see?”

“You see Griselda plummeting off a cliff.” Stannis’s voice was brisk.

Sansa glanced at Arya, whose mouth was still hanging open, then back at Stannis. “Do I hear anything?”

“You detect an audible thump as Griselda hits the ground at the foot of the underground cliff. Griselda is dead.”

“Fuck,” said Arya. “What happened?”

“It wasn’t a Ring of Fly,” said Sandor, looking almost amused.

Stannis nodded. “It was a Ring of Delusion. It tricks your character into believing it’s something that it is not.”

Arya made a face.

Tyrion made a sympathetic noise in the back of his throat. “Can I reach the bottom of the cliff in one round?”

“If you recall,” Stannis replied, “one round is six seconds, so unless you want to jump after her, the answer is no.”

Tyrion sighed. “Well that’s Breath of Life off the table. I’ll have to cast a Resurrection spell then. It costs ten thousand gold.”

“Wow,” Arya said, “I don’t have that much gold.”

“I do, I can cover it.” Tyrion refilled his wine glass and raised his eyebrow at Margaery who nodded at him to refill hers.

Arya scowled at Tyrion. “Wait, your character is rich?”

Tyrion snorted and clinked his wine glass against Margaery’s. “Once a Lannister always a Lannister. Even if she’s a Tittington.”

Arya sat back and folded her arms over her chest. “Aren’t religious people supposed to be poor?”

Tyrion made a rude noise. “This isn’t the Faith of the Seven. There is no High Septon here, just my sex goddess encouraging me to make love and obtain wealth.”

Sandor sat forward. “Enough fucking bickering,” he said. “I have ropes in my pack. We can rappel down.”

“A man has a Ring of Fly,” said Jaqen, making everyone jump this time when he suddenly spoke. “A man wishes to fly down and resurrect my fellow rogue.”

Tyrion frowned. “But only I can…”

“A man wishes this,” said Jaqen smoothly.

A crash of thunder suddenly sounded from outside again, and this time the lights flickered and went out, plunging them into darkness.

There was a few seconds of silence then the hum of the museum generators started up and the dim emergency lighting flared into life.

“This is a good time to end the session,” said Stannis, shadowed in the faint light.

Arya squawked indignantly. “But I’m fucking dead and we haven’t even found the Amulet of the Shattered Star yet.”

“Arya,” said Stannis. “Playing during a power cut is against every health and safety regulation I could possibly imagine.”

Sansa patted her arm. “We can find the amulet next session.”

“And restore you to life.” Tyrion still sounded miffed.

Sandor slipped out when everyone was busy packing their things up, and whilst Sansa kept a lookout he still hadn’t reappeared as they made their way down to the underground carpark together. Stannis insisted the players move through the museum as a group, for safety.

It was eerie being here at night, let alone with only the faint glow of the emergency lighting and people’s phone torches lighting the way. Sansa was thankful for the state-of-the-art generators that the Baratheon brothers had funded for the museum, as she and Sam were working on a number of artefacts that required strict climate control.

A thin layer of storm water had covered the floor of the underground carpark and the noise of the storm was deafening.

Everyone except the absent Sandor were getting into their cars. She and Arya confirmed brunch plans for Sunday then hugged goodbye. Tyrion’s car appeared to have a chauffeur in the driver’s seat, which relieved Sansa because he’d had several glasses of wine. Margaery was getting a ride with Tyrion. Sandor had parked his truck near her car, so he obviously hadn’t left yet. She felt a jab of disappointment, she’d hoped to say goodnight to him.

Sansa lingered over getting into her car, still hoping to at least be able to wave to Sandor after an evening of what seemed to her to be mutual flirtation.

Everyone had driven away by the time she gave up and turned the ignition to start the car.

Nothing happened.

She tried again.

Nothing. The car was completely dead.

Sansa leaned her forehead on the steering wheel and sighed.

She’d pulled out her phone ready to call for a roadside mechanic when there was a tap at her window. Sandor.

She opened the door to talk to him.

“Pop the bonnet,” he said gruffly.

He spent several minutes tinkering around with her car… parts… whilst she held her phone torch high so he could see.

The storm howled outside. It looked like torrents of water were coming down the ramp into the carpark.

Eventually he stood up and frowned. “It’s the electronics. Fucking modern cars. You’ll need to get it towed to the garage and have them hook it up to a computer.”

Sansa groaned. “There’s no point getting it towed tonight, nothing will be open this late in the evening.”

Sandor grunted an agreement. “Leave the car here over the weekend, get it sorted on Monday. You want a ride home?”

Something suspiciously akin to arousal fluttered inside of Sansa at the thought of Sandor being anywhere near her house.

“Yes, thank you,” she said, in a voice that wasn’t too wobbly. “So long as it isn’t out of your way.”

He waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Even if it was, I’ll not leave you fucking stranded here.”

She made a noise that she hoped Sandor interpreted as an acknowledgement. Mostly she was tingling at the thought of being in close proximity with him. Alone.

Sandor’s truck turned out to contain a variety of toolboxes and engine parts scattered about. The smell of engine grease was distinct.

“Don’t normally take passengers,” he muttered, clearing off the front passenger seat.

Sansa hoisted herself up to sit in the cleared space. “It’s fine. Thank you again for the ride.”

The storm made itself even more evident as they drove out of the underground carpark out into the city. The rain was horizontal, and even with the window wipers on full speed the visibility was terrible.

Sansa gave Sandor directions to her little house. She lived alone in one of the outer suburbs in a small cottage that was old and a touch run down but that was all hers. She had a view of the harbour from her living room and a lemon tree in her tiny backyard which she loved. Arya always said all she needed was fifteen cats because she already had an old lady cottage.

They didn’t talk on the drive. Sandor looked like he had enough to concentrate on driving in such treacherous conditions and Sansa didn’t want to distract him.

Sandor pulled up outside her house, pulling up her driveway to avoid the surface flooding of the full gutters on the road.

The rain increased and lightning ripped across the sky. It was almost white out conditions through the downpour. Sansa had never seen a storm so severe.

“Good fucking luck getting inside without getting drenched.” The storm was so loud he had to raise his voice to be heard above it.

She couldn’t let him continue to drive in conditions like this. She shivered in anticipation. The thought of him actually inside her house was doing funny things to her insides.

Sansa fiddled with her keys as she licked her lips nervously. “This storm is terrible, Sandor. It’s not safe to drive in. Do you want to come inside and wait for it to calm down?”

He looked through the windscreen, grimaced then sighed. “Yeah.”

Chapter Text

The power cut must have been over a huge part of the city because Sansa’s cottage was pitch black.

They were both soaked from the dash from Sandor’s truck to her house. Luckily Sandor had remembered to grab his gym bag, so they both had clothes to change into. Sansa briefly entertained the fantasy of Sandor having to wear one of her towels for the evening because she certainly didn’t have any clothes large enough for him to borrow. The sight of him in a form fitting t-shirt and gym shorts was delicious enough though. She tried not to stare as her phone light illuminated him, but he was built like one of the ancient statues of the Warrior from the museum collection. His usual work uniform of trousers and a shirt, currently hanging up to dry in her bathroom, in no way did his physique justice.

She shook herself to stop staring at his body. It wasn’t respectful to ogle someone like that.

She looked at his face. His gaze was travelling up her body in much the way hers had on him. She couldn’t help but huff a laugh.

At least he was wearing somewhat revealing clothing. All she on was black leggings, and a lightweight knitted jumper of soft pale blue wool. Nothing she considered even slightly sexy. He caught her eye and shrugged, apparently unrepentant.

Sansa put her phone face down on the kitchen bench so the torch function would light up the room.

“I could light some candles,” she said. “Save our phone batteries.”

Sandor winced. “Can we keep the candles to a minimum? One or two. I’m no fucking good with fire.”

Sansa gasped. Of course, fire must have caused the injuries to his face. She thought for a moment, then snapped her fingers as she remembered her last nameday gift from Robb and Jeyne. “I have a camp lantern in the cupboard. One of those wind-up ones. My brother and his wife always give me camping gear as presents. That would provide more light than a candle, anyway.”

“Thanks,” he muttered, sounding embarrassed.

“I’ll get us some food and drink then find the lamp.”

Sandor hovered awkwardly beside the bench whilst she fluttered about, considering her options for food and drink she could supply Sandor with.

“I don’t want to open the fridge in case we don’t get power back for a couple of days.” She stuck her head and her phone into the pantry. “Oh I have some red wine.” She held the light in front of one of the labels and squinted at the small writing. “It’s a Dornish sour.” She looked over her shoulder at him, lit by the torch of his own phone. “Do you want some of that?”

He gave a single nod. “Aye, I’ll drink a red.”

Sansa assembled a tray with the wine, some glasses and bowls of tiny rice crackers and green seedless grapes she found in the pantry. She spread a blanket on the floor in front of her couch and put the tray in the middle of it, along with the lamp she retrieved from the emergency cupboard.

“A floor picnic seems like a good power cut thing to do,” she said, smiling at Sandor as she wound the crank on her lamp to charge it.

Sandor had arranged himself leaning against the couch with his long legs out in front of him. He held out his hand for the lamp. “I’ll have a turn, little bird. How long do we have to wind it up for?”

“I think it’s about twenty minutes of light on the lowest setting per one minute of winding.” She paused. “What did you call me?”

Sandor looked flustered in the dim light. “Little bird. That’s what you remind me of. Always fluttering about, chirping and chatting to people.”

Sansa laughed. “That’s a cute nickname, thank you.” She looked at him through her eyelashes, enjoying the sight of his bare legs. “I didn’t think you ever noticed me unless you needed your upholstery appraised.”

Sandor regarded her as he steadily wound the lamp. “I’d have to be fucking blind or dead not to notice you,” he said softly.

The breath whooshed out of Sansa’s lungs.

“Oh,” she whispered.

She wiggled forward and poured them both a glass of the wine, acutely aware of the sudden sexual tension.

Sansa handed Sandor his glass of wine and took the lamp off him, placing it beside the tray so they were both bathed in the soft, muted light.

She held up her own glass and smiled at Sandor, conscious that her cheeks must be pink. “Cheers,” she said.

He hummed and clinked his glass against hers. “Cheers,” he replied, and took a drink.

Placing her glass carefully on the floor, she selected a grape and bit it in half. She looked up to see Sandor staring at her mouth. Feeling saucy, she licked the juice off her bottom lip. His eyes widened.

Would he assume she was coming on to him? More to the point, was she coming on to him?

What was she thinking? Of course she was coming on to him.

Was it time for a flash of ankle?

Sansa covered her unladylike snort of laughter with a cough into her fist.

She needed to break the tension somehow, otherwise she was going to throw herself at Sandor and potentially scare him off or look foolish.

She tilted her head to the side. “So. What’s your favourite colour?”

He eyed her over the rim of his glass. “What the fuck is this, twenty questions?”

“Everyone has a favourite colour, Sandor.”

He huffed and took a handful of the rice crackers. He gesticulated with one of them as he spoke.  “Fine, it’s black. What’s yours, bubblegum pop song pink?”

“No,” she said loftily, “my favourite colour is a tasteful forest green.”

Her head whipped around as one of the living room windows rattled with an especially hard gust of wind.

Sandor didn’t flinch. “Same colour as your couches?”

Sansa relaxed a little. Her little house was sturdy enough to have survived many years of storms. “Exactly. And the cover on my bed is green too.”

There was a slight pause, and Sansa flushed at the mention of her bed. She’d already provocatively eaten a grape, now she was talking about her bed.

“What do you like most about your job?” she blurted to buy herself more time.

He appeared to be contemplating his response for a few moments. “Working in the basement,” he replied finally, “where people leave me the fuck alone.” He sounded amused, and she suspected he realised her intentions. “You?”

“Well I like our colleagues, they’ve been lovely and welcoming since I started.”

Sandor made a sceptical noise. “Bunch of cunts.”

“They aren’t!” said Sansa, giggling despite Sandor’s use of such a shocking curse word, though she assumed he wasn’t serious. “Don’t be mean!”

Sandor’s lips twitched in a small smile and she realised she was correct in assuming he was japing. “Some of them are alright,” he conceded. “Stannis doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Jaqen doesn’t talk too much.”

“Is that your standard for people you like?” said Sansa, smiling at the thought of Sandor roaming around his basement, casting judgement upon the other museum workers. “People who are serious and don’t talk much?”

He ate another cracker. “Depends on the person,” he said, his gaze lingering on her. “That all you like about the job? Cups of tea in the staffroom with that flighty librarian the Tyrell girl, and that other one from palaeontology.”

“Randa Royce,” said Sansa, naming her friend who oversaw the dinosaur exhibits. He’d noticed who her particular friends were. Sansa’s heart fluttered, but she answered his question again. “Alright then, I enjoy cleaning historical clothes, and restoring them to the original colours. You can take something stained with age, ugly, and dirty, but underneath it might be a beautiful cloth of gold. It’s incredibly satisfying.”

He hummed in agreement and took another drink of his wine. She did the same.

“I like fixing the old, fucked up machinery,” he offered. “The pieces are broken and unwanted. Discarded. Like you restoring your pretty dresses, underneath is something of value. Just have to see it.”

Sansa wanted this night to never end. She’d never seen Sandor talk so much, playing along with her questioning. It was nice to see him being reasonably light-hearted.

The storm kept raging outside, the wind howling and still rattling the windows as they continued to chat. It was thrilling being able to talk with him outside of work, though being in such close proximity was still doing nothing good to Sansa’s self-control.

They talked about everything and nothing and progressed onto their second bottle of wine. Sansa learned that Sandor had a black cat named Stranger, that he had almost played professional rugby after graduating from university in Lannisport, and that he spoke fluent Dothraki after a year spent living off his wits in the Dothraki sea. She shared with him her love of history, her family, and the north, as well as her mistrust of owls.

Sandor was aghast to learn she didn’t like owls. “Who the fuck doesn’t like owls? Owls are objectively the best fucking birds around.”

“They have insanely long legs,” Sansa said, pretending to be defensive. “You lift up their feathery bits and they have these gangly legs. It’s creepy.”

Sandor shook his head. “What the fuck. Lucky I didn’t call you big bird. Are you scared of puffins?”

“What! No, puffins are cute, and what you see is what you get.”

“So are owls,” said Sandor definitively.

“Puffins don’t have hidden legs.” Sansa carefully selected one of the puffier rice crackers.

He laughed and rolled his eyes. “Scared of fucking owls,” he said, then shifted position so he was facing her more directly. “How about this one: what do you like to drink?”

Sansa shifted herself too, her rear end was slightly numb from sitting on the ground. “I like tea for everyday, but I love sour lemonade as a treat too.” She hummed with the pleasurable memory of fresh lemonade. “Freshly squeezed lemons. You can’t beat it. What about you?”

“Wilding Whiskey,” he said immediately. “After a long fucking day dealing with those cunts at work.”

He looked sideways at her for a reaction and she laughed.

“If you really felt that way you wouldn’t have joined the staff role playing group,” she said triumphantly.

He made a rude noise. “I needed some place to use my homemade dice.”

Sansa shook her head and wiggled a little closer to him, in the guise of reaching for the wine bottle.

Was it her imagination, or was he leaning towards her slightly?

“What’s your favourite type of bread?” she asked.

He made another derisive noise in the back of his throat. “Who the fuck has a favourite type of bread?”

“The white sourdough from Hot Pie’s Bakery and Delicatessen,” Sansa said immediately. “You must have a preference?”

“Mmm Hot Pie’s is pretty fucking good. Okay then, his dark rye loaf. Extra solid, extra fucking angry.” He was definitely closer than he had been. “What’s your favourite vegetable?” he rasped.

Sansa grinned at him and spoke without thinking. “We should grab lunch at Hot Pie’s on Monday. You can try my sourdough, I can try your rye.”

Her own words sunk in and she froze.

Sandor blinked, then nodded. “Aye, we should.”

Did they just organise a date?

She let a long breath out.

A date.

Feeling both naughty and elated, Sansa said “And Cucumber. That’s my favourite vegetable.”

He barked a laugh. “Is that a euphemism for something else, little bird?”

Sansa took some grapes and popped one into her mouth. “Maybe.” She spoke the word with her mouth full and could almost sense the spirit of her mother in the room, ready to point out she was being impolite by doing so. She swallowed hurriedly. “What’s your favourite fruit?”

He assumed a contemplative expression. “Peach,” he said.

She licked her bottom lip again, making sure he was paying attention. “Is that a euphemism for something else?”

“Aye could be.”

She took a chance on a more risqué question. “Have you ever gone skinny dipping?”

“Went camping beside a lake in Dorne once,” he replied. “It’s hot as fuck down there and I was on my own in the middle of fucking nowhere. So I stripped everything off, went for a swim in the lake. Naturally a busload of fucking drunk tourists shows up.”

Sansa tipped her head back and laughed. “How much did they see?”

“Every fucking thing. I could hear the cheers all the way back to my campsite.”

“I mean, cheering is very flattering,” Sansa said between giggles. He was a large man and Sansa was more than intrigued to see if that translated to... other… parts of him.

Sandor snorted. “Only because they were too far away to get a good look at my ugly fucking face.”

Sansa gently touched his arm. “Hey, I don’t think you’re ugly at all.”

A thunderclap punctuated her observation and Sandor looked at her. “Have you been skinny dipping then?”

Sansa removed her hand and ducked her head, a little embarrassed at the memory. “We have hot pools in Winterfell. One year during university holidays some of my girlfriends and I got drunk in the godswood and skinny dipped in the biggest pool.”

Sandor snorted. “Well that sounds fucking blasphemous.”

“From the man who has a cat named Stranger.”

“I didn’t say it was a bad thing. So you got drunk and naked in hot pools with a bunch of women?”

“Well when you put it like that,” Sansa said, feeling her face grow heated.

Sandor raised his eyebrows and didn’t speak.

She huffed a breath. “Yes, that is accurate.”

He smirked. “I’ll be thinking more on that… later.”

She slapped his arm lightly. “Sandor!”

He took a long drink of his wine then swirled the dregs around in his glass. “Have you ever been caught fucking?”

A thrill of excitement jolted through her. She wasn’t the only one interested in suggestive questions.

“Almost, in my last year of high school,” she said. “My family were all out, and I was in my room, ah,  having sex with my first boyfriend, Joffrey. My Dad came home early because he forgot something and he almost caught us. Luckily he always knocked when my door was shut.”

“Wasn’t the little shit hassling you at the last museum benefit night named Joffrey? Robert’s kid, blond, skinny, looks like a mean little cunt.”

Sansa felt warm at the memory. Not because of Joffrey, because she hated him, but because Sandor had come over to stand near her, looking huge and menacing, and Joffrey had fled. He hadn’t done anything more than stand nearby and look intimidating, but it was the first time she’d really noticed how attractive Sandor was.

“Yes, that’s him. He never forgave me for breaking up with him.”

He looked sceptical. “That’s all?”

Sansa decided to be honest. She didn’t believe Sandor would judge her. “It was okay at the start, when we were intimate, but things got too rough, and painful and he liked to humiliate me for his own…” she swallowed the lump in her throat at the hurtful memory, “…his own enjoyment. He wouldn’t stop, so I broke up with him.”

Sandor looked furious. “What a fuckwit.”

She put her hand gently back on his arm again to calm him. “What about you? Have you been caught with someone?”

He let out a long breath and seemed to relax again. “No. Came close a couple of times, in the back rooms of bars.”

Sansa blinked. “People do that in bars?”

He laughed, though this time it was harsh, not happy. “Only fucking ugly people.”

“I don’t think you are ugly at all,” she said quietly, squeezing his arm. “I said that before, and it was true.”

“Women only want to fuck this body, and will only tolerate this face,” he tapped the scarred side of his face, “if they are drunk.”

Sansa squeezed his arm until he looked at her. “I’m not drunk.”

The red wine had relaxed her, but she’d nursed the two glasses of wine she’d had over the course of the evening. Sandor had had more, but he didn’t seem affected either.

“No,” he said slowly, “you are not.”

Sansa licked her lips and leaned even closer to him. “What’s your favourite position?” she murmured. “You know, in bed.”

He put his free hand over hers and leaned closer to her. “I knew you’d be a filthy girl.” His voice was quiet, but spine tinglingly intense. “It’s always the prim and proper ones.”

Sansa’s heart was racing but she kept her gaze steady upon Sandor’s face. “Well?”

“On my back. Watching the woman ride me. It’s fucking perfect, tits on display and I can see everything.”

Even Sansa’s fingers were tingling with arousal. She’d never been so turned on in her life and she hadn’t even touched him.

He took her hand properly then and ghosted his thumb over the back of it. “What about you? How do you like to be fucked?”

She looked at their joined hands as she replied, too embarrassed to watch his face while she spoke such filthy words.

“On my hands and knees,” she whispered. “It feels really good.”

She glanced at him when she had finished speaking. His eyes were dark, and he had the expression of someone who absolutely wanted to devour her.

She took a fortifying breath and wiggled sideways so her thigh was flush against his. She twined her fingers with his and then leaned towards him for a kiss. He looked wide eyed but met her halfway, pressing his lips against hers.

Sandor seemed a touch hesitant at first and the kiss started off chaste, just lips pressing together. He had one hand tangled in her hair, the other still holding hers. She soon deepened it, darting out her tongue to touch his lip. He groaned and opened his mouth to her, so they could kiss more passionately. He tasted of wine and Sansa desperately wanted everything he was willing to do with her.

She broke the kiss only long enough to straddle him. He pulled her back into his embrace and they kissed again.

She kept one hand on his shoulder for balance but the other she ran over his body, marvelling at his muscular firmness. He shuddered at her touch, pulling her flush against him so she could feel how hard he was for her. She ground herself against him as they kissed.

She lost track of time, their kisses and touches punctuated by the wild storm outside.

Eventually Sandor stopped kissing her long enough to look into her eyes and tug on the material of her leggings.

“These. Off.” He growled the words.

She quickly stood up to yank her leggings and underwear down and off. Even the low light of the lamp couldn’t disguise the hunger in his eyes.

She sat back down in the same position on top of him.

He ran his fingers up the soft skin on the inside of her thighs, then pulled her back in for a kiss as he started gently running his fingertips through the auburn curls between her legs and over her soaking wet folds.

He moved to kiss along her jaw then down her neck. “You do fucking want me,” he murmured into her skin. “You are so fucking wet.”

His words turned her on even more, if that were possible.

She scrambled to form a coherent reply. “I want you Sandor. I want all of you.”

She moaned as he slipped a finger inside of her, then another.

“Come for me first,” Sandor rumbled. “After that you can have my cock if you want it.”

“Yes,” she whispered frantically, “I need that. I need you.”

“Then sing for me,” he replied.

He positioned his hand so his fingers were inside of her and the heel of his hand was stimulating her clit as she pushed against it.

Sansa clasped his face, one hand against his scars and the other against his bearded unscarred cheek, and kissed him again. She would never get tired of kissing him. She suspected he wasn’t used to doing that, and she tried to pour all the desire from the months she’d been wanting him into her kisses.

Her actions were getting harder to control as the pleasure built inside her.

“Can you come like this?” he asked gruffly.

Sansa managed what she hoped was an affirmative moan as she ground herself against his hand. She leaned her forehead against his and concentrated on chasing her climax.

He slid a third finger inside her as he moved his other hand under her jumper to rub her nipple over the fabric of her bra and the extra stimulation was enough to send her over the edge.

She cried out against his mouth and he held her tightly with his free arm as her body shook against him.

She finally slumped against his chest and he ran a soothing hand over her back.

He held her gently, though as Sansa came back to herself the front of his shorts showed her quite how ready he still was for his own pleasure.

With some effort she stood up on wobbly legs and held her hand out to him. “Shall we move this to the bedroom?”

 

Chapter Text

Straddling Sandor’s bare thighs, waiting for him to roll the condom on must have only taken a few seconds, but it seemed like forever. Sansa squirmed with anticipation. She wasn’t even self-conscious in the lamplight, open and on display, probably helped by Sandor’s frank appreciation of her body once they both got properly undressed. She felt the same seeing him naked. He was the Warrior made flesh, and she wanted him inside of her. Right now.

“My cock isn’t going to disappear if you have to wait for it,” said Sandor dryly, though his unscarred cheek was flushed in the light of the camping lamp, belying his tone.

“I’ve wanted this so much,” Sansa confessed. “I just… I really want you.”

Sandor finished applying the sheath and tugged on her thigh so she’d wiggle further up his body.

“How long have you wanted to fuck me for?” He trailed his calloused fingertips reverently over her smooth skin as he spoke.

Embarrassed to admit the truth, that it had been almost as soon as they met, she bent forward to kiss him, planting her hands either side of his head. “Months,” she hedged, whispering against his lips.

He grasped his manhood and rubbed the head against her centre, coating it in her wetness. She moaned into his mouth. It was as if the whole world had disappeared into the storm outside and only they existed.

“I wanted to fuck you on the first day I saw you,” he said, pushing himself inside her a little way.

She whined in the back of her throat and tried to impale herself further, but he grasped her hip with one hand and held her back.

“You were in the preservation lab,” he continued. “Wearing a short skirt under your lab coat and I wanted to bend you over one of the work benches and fuck you until you screamed.”

He thrust again, still only shallowly inside her.

“I would like to do that,” she said hoarsely, before pausing to kiss him again. “Sometimes when I got home after work, I would touch myself thinking about you. Thinking about sneaking down to see you in the basement, naked under my coat, and surprising you.”

He swore under his breath and pushed inside her, all the way.

She gasped at the sensation of suddenly being almost too full and she couldn’t help her slight wince of discomfort.

“You okay?” he asked, stroking his fingertips down her face.

“Yes,” she said breathlessly. “There’s just, um, a lot.”

He cupped her face as they kissed, holding still inside her. She would never have guessed this was how her day would end. It was supposed to be an ordinary workday, followed by an ordinary evening of socialising with her colleagues. Now here she was, naked and intimate with the man she had fancied for months.

“I’m a big fucker all over,” he said finally, “but you’ll get used to me.”

Sansa took a shaking breath. There was only pleasure now.

“It’s okay, it’s good now,” she said, sitting up again, leaving his lips with some regret.

She ground herself against him, revelling in her ecstasy. This was nothing like it was with Harry. She was filled to the brim with Sandor, overwhelmed having him in her house, in her bed, in her body.

He reached up to stroke her breasts, rubbing a thumb over each nipple.

“I hope you don’t want a long fuck this time,” he said, groaning as she started to move against him more rhythmically. “Watching you fuck me is going to make me come too fucking soon.”

At his words she ran a hand down her body, over her soft skin and down through her auburn curls to where they were joined. She slid her fingertips through her wetness then moved back up a little to her clit.

She chased her own climax with ruthless efficiency then, spurred on by Sandor having trouble holding off his own.

“Fuck you are sexy,” he hissed through his teeth, eyes wide and fixed on where she was rubbing herself. “That isn’t fucking helping.”

“You feel so good,” she moaned, her hand still moving desperately between her legs.

She arched her back and gasped his name as she came, then sagged forward with her hands on his broad chest as she caught her breath.

Sandor cried out in pleasure a few moments after she did, now holding both her hips so hard she hoped they’d have finger-marks tomorrow.

She flopped down beside him and curled up on her side, facing towards him. He let out a long breath then removed the used condom, rolling over to reach her bin.

Sansa blinked drowsily and watched him.

Would he want a cuddle?

She would love to snuggle with him, but he was a prickly person and she didn’t want to push his boundaries.

He rolled onto his back with a huff and held out the arm nearest to her in mute invitation.

She wiggled closer and rested her head on the front of his shoulder, slinging an arm across his broad chest.

They lay in silence as Sansa sleepily ran her fingers through his chest hair, listening to his breathing slow down and become even.

Doubts began to creep in.

Was he also interested in starting a relationship, as his words before he slipped inside of her seemed to indicate, or would he want things to end now they had been intimate?

She’d never slept with anyone without being in a relationship first, was snuggling afterwards normal?

Was he suddenly going to get up and leave? What if she fell asleep and woke up to find him gone? Would he want to talk to her at work on Monday?

Was their date for lunch still on?

“I can hear you thinking,” Sandor rumbled, nudging her leg gently with his knee. “A gold dragon for your thoughts?”

Sansa lifted her head to look at him, reluctantly moving her hand from his chest to smooth her hair out of her eyes. “I thought the phrase was ‘a copper for your thoughts’?”

He shrugged, rustling the pillows. “They’re worth a gold dragon to me,” he replied as he tugged her in for another kiss.

The kiss was languid and unhurried. He cupped her face with his huge hand and Sansa relaxed.

She used the time to formulate how she wanted to word her thoughts.

“Do you still want to have lunch together on Monday?” she said eventually.

He kissed her again, gentle and sweet for such a big man. “I’ll take anything and everything you want to give me, little bird.”

Sansa considered this. “Do you want to stay the night then?”

“Aye.”

A peal of thunder punctuated his agreement.

He turned onto his side and held her in the soft light, stroking her hair as his lips rested against her forehead. She breathed in the scent of him, engine grease and man.

He ran his rough hand down her body, drifting over her curves.

After two orgasms more sex would usually have been the furthest thing from her mind, but Sansa was suddenly desperate for more of him. She moaned and arched towards him. He rumbled a faint chuckle and cupped the curve of her bottom in his huge hand.

“How long until you can go again?” she whispered.

In response he pulled her closer to him and she could feel that he was hard and ready.

She rolled onto her front then pushed herself onto elbows and knees. She looked over her shoulder and wiggled her hips at him invitingly.

“Fuck me,” he rasped as he moved to get another condom. “You are so fucking sexy.”

Waiting for him to put the condom on seemed to take even longer than before, probably because he kept getting distracted and running his hands over her hips and bottom.

Taking him inside of her was easier this time though. Nothing in her previous experiences had prepared her for how good he would feel.

He still waited to let her adjust and she despaired at her future prospects of ever getting any work done in the preservation lab when the man who could give her pleasure like this would be in the same building.

He began to move and all other thoughts flew away like a thousand little birds.

“Did you imagine doing it like this too?” he rasped. “When you were thinking about fucking me?”

He punctuated his words with a firm thrust and Sansa braced a hand against the headboard.

“Yes,” she moaned. “I tried to imagine how you would feel.”

He continued to move inside her, grasping her hips for leverage and thrusting hard. Sansa relaxed into it, keep one hand on the headboard so he didn’t push her too far forward.

“Does it feel good? Do you like taking my cock?”

“Yes,” she gasped, “harder.”

He pounded into her, each stroke making the headboard hit the wall. The sounds were overwhelming, the steady slap of his skin against hers, the slickness from where they were joined, the bang of the headboard and crashing of thunder and rain.

Sansa cried out on every thrust, headless of her own noise. She was going to come again, she knew with utter certainty, just from this, just from the feel of him deep inside her body.

Her orgasm hit hard as she wailed out her pleasure again, tensing up and causing Sandor to groan more loudly behind her.

She collapsed face down in a sated heap after he’d finished too. Sansa suspected it would be awhile before she was able to walk anywhere. Sandor tugged on her hip, so she’d roll onto her side and he curled himself behind her after tugging blankets over them both. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt so warm and safe, cocooned in Sandor’s arms.

Unexpected or not, this was exactly how she would have wanted her evening to end.