Sandor lugged pails of water into the washing room. Since the cauldron was filled with food, he couldn't heat water for his bath, but he was looking forward to the cool refreshing water anyway. Something about Sansa's behavior was making him nervous. He tried not to think about it as he scrubbed himself clean and washed and combed his hair. Normally, when he was on his own, he didn't care that much how he looked and often tied his hair back out of the way. Tonight, Sandor swept his hair down over the side of his face in a feeble attempt to hide some of the scarring.
While Sandor dished out the chili, Sansa cut them each a thick slice of bread. They ate mostly in silence as they sat across from each other assessing and wondering. Sandor spoke only once to tell Sansa that the chili was good. He was too nervous to say more.
After they ate, Sandor cleaned up. Sansa remained sitting at the table waiting.
"I've got to go out out to the barn and do some work," Sandor said uneasily. It was just an excuse to get away and Sansa knew it.
"Come sit and talk to me," Sansa said nodding toward his chair.
Sandor evaluated his options. He could ignore her and get away outside, but the pull of her was irresistible and he found himself back at the table.
"How old are you?" Sansa asked.
"Why? What difference does it make?"
Sandor narrowed his eyes with suspicion. “I’m forty. Why do you want to know?”
Forty, Sansa thought. Thirteen years difference. Lady Di and Charles were thirteen years apart and look how that turned out. Sansa shouldered on. "I want to get to know you," she finally answered.
"Why? You’re going to be leaving soon anyway.”
“How about right now?” Sansa challenged. “We could be there in what … less than an hour?”
“What are you talking about?” Sandor asked, confused.
“If you’re so eager to get rid of me, let’s go now.”
“I told you. I’ve got to get the road cleared.”
Sansa stared at him. She hated being lied to, but she wasn’t angry, not with Sandor Clegane. How could she be?
“The road was cleared the day after the storm.” Before Sandor could protest, she added, “You’re friends a came by for a visit today. Nick Davos and Doc Tormund.” Sansa pointed to the corner next to her. “They brought me crutches.”
Sandor sat and stared at her. He didn’t know what to say. He swallowed hard and gave up. It was time for her to go. Clearly, that’s what she wanted.
“Fine. If you want to go to Leeston, I’ll take you in the morning.” He started to stand up.
“Sit down, Sandor!” The tone in Sansa’s voice caught him off guard and he sunk back onto his seat.
“I didn’t say I wanted to go to Leeston. You’re the one who’s been saying you want me to go. And yet the road has been cleared for four days and you haven’t taken me.” Sansa leaned across the table toward him. “Because you want me to stay.”
Sandor stood up and leaned on his knuckles. “What the fuck makes you think I’d want a spoiled princess like you to stay?”
Sansa tried to control the grin that wanted to spread across her face, but she lost the battle. “Because you think I’m cute.” She leaned down and retrieved the note from her pack. She unfolded it and slid it across the table between Sandor’s fists. He looked down at it as his cheeks started to turn pink.
“Because I didn’t run screaming. Because you’ve been sleeping on the couch right next to me instead of in the beautiful bedroom you have upstairs.”
The muscles in Sandor’s jaw quivered. He glared at Sansa, his shoulders heaving with what appeared to be rage, but he didn’t speak.
“Because you didn’t take me into Leeston even though you had lots of chances to,” Sansa reminded him. “Your friends seem to think you have feelings for me.”
“Does it matter how I feel?” Sandor asked her.”Do you think I’m stupid?”
“Not at all,” Sansa answered honestly.
“Then why would I risk letting myself get wrapped up in some spoiled little brat who’d head for the hills the first chance you got. Do you really think I’d believe a woman like you could have any interest in a man like me?” he shouted.
“Why not?” Sansa asked raising her voice to match his. “Give me one good reason why not.”
“Look at me!” he yelled pounding his fists on the table. Leaning as close to her as he could get from his side of the table, Sandor pulled back his hair and pointed to his scarred face. “Look at me!”
“I’ve seen your face. It doesn’t bother me.”
Sandor bellowed in frustration. He was going into a full on rage. “You know nothing about me. You don’t know what my life is like, where I came from, what I’ve been through.”
“So tell me!” Sansa pleaded.
Sandor screamed with rage. He lifted the long end of the table and flipped it over sending everything on it flying in all directions. With her good leg, Sansa pushed her chair back out of the way in time to watch the table upend and land upside down against the fireplace.
With the table out of the way, Sandor grabbed Sansa by the shoulders and growled in her face. “It’s none of your fucking business!”
On his way out the door, Sandor kicked a metal canister out of the way. A cloud of flour erupted. The canister landed somewhere in the living room with a clang. Sansa remained sitting until Sandor was well away from the cabin.
Sansa watched Sandor go out to the barn then began cleaning up the mess. The edge of the table had slid down the wall and was now resting in the hot coals of the fire but hadn’t yet caught alight. Sitting in a chair, Sansa pushed on one of the table struts with her good leg, shoving it far enough to drop off the edge of the hearth ledge away from the fire. To the best of her ability, she cleaned up the flour and anything else that had gone astray.
By the time she was done, Sansa figured Sandor had had enough time to calm down. She grabbed her crutches and went out to the barn to see him. When she arrived, Sandor was sitting on hay bales staring down between his feet. He looked sad and worn out.
Sansa took a chance and sat close next to him on the hay. She was on his right side. Tentatively, Sansa placed her hand on top of his and squeezed it. He didn’t pull it away. She reached up to the scarred side of his face and pulled his hair back behind his mangled ear, lightly brushing her fingertips over his gnarled skin. Sandor didn’t recoil from her touch.
“I won’t kid myself that I could have a life with you or any woman,” he told her without looking up.
“Why?” she asked, squeezing his hand.
“Tomorrow I’ll take you into Leeston and show you.”