Sansa was down to one crutch. After only six days, she was able to put very limited weight on her injured knee. She exercised the joint as often as she could, but she didn’t want to push it too hard and end up with a worse injury than she already had.
Sansa set the slop pail down so that she could unlock the doggie door in the barn. Sandor had laughed at her when she called it that, but he had to admit that’s exactly what it looked like. The little pigs came squealing out into the fresh air and waited expectantly at their trough. Sansa filled it and watched them greedily gobble the scraps.
“Don’t get too attached,” Sandor warned. He pointed to one of the pigs. “That’s Christmas dinner.” Then he pointed to the other pig. “That one will be for Easter.”
Sandor sat down on the wooden bench beside Sansa and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. They had agreed to take things slow. Both of them still had things they needed to work out.
“Am I invited?” Sansa asked jokingly.
“Of course. You know I would want you here, but …” He looked at her curiously. “Don’t you have family to be with?”
Sansa shrugged. “I don’t know. I have four brothers, a sister, and my mother, but we’re not exactly a big happy family right now.”
Sansa explained to Sandor how her family had been torn apart and spread around the globe. Jon was in Alaska, Rob was in Afghanistan, and the last Sansa had heard, Arya was somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean.
“Didn’t you say you have four brothers?”
“I have two younger brothers, Bran and Rick. Bran’s 24 and Rick just turned 20. They’re in college and they have girlfriends and family isn’t really their main priority right now so I don’t know if they would even make it home for Christmas.”
“What about you?” Sansa asked. “You wouldn’t be fattening a pig if you’re going to be alone, would you?”
“What makes you think I would be alone? There would be five of us. Six if you were here.”
Sansa counted on her fingers. “I presume you mean Nick Davos and Doc Tormund, but who else?”
“Well, there would be me, Doc, Nick and his wife, and my nephew.”
Sansa leaned back in shock. “Really? You would want your nephew here?”
Sandor nodded. “Of course.”
“But why? He hates you.”
Sandor looked confused. “He doesn’t hate me. Why would you think that?”
Sansa wondered if they were having the same conversation. She was standing right beside Sandor when they were in Leeston that day. “He had some pretty nasty things to say,” Sansa recalled.
Sandor looked insulted. “Since when is it nasty to say ‘Nice to meet you’ to someone?”
“When did Shawn say that?” Sansa asked, distinctly recalling every foul word that had come from his mouth.
Sandor threw his head back and laughed heartily. Sansa was relieved to finally see him smile so genuinely, but she didn’t get the joke.
“Shawn isn’t my nephew. Sam is.”
Sansa’s jaw hit the floor. “Sam?!” Sandor nodded. A big grin was plastered across his face.
“But Sam is so nice. I guess I assumed that any son of Gregor's would be a lot more like he was.”
Sandor waved away the idea. “Shawn is just some angry kid. He’s a small mind in a small town. Fortunately, Sam got all his mother’s DNA. She was a pretty nice lady.”
“Was?” Sansa asked cautiously.
“She did her best, but after what she went through with Gregor, she had a pretty hard time of it. She never blamed me for any of it. She made me promise that if anything happened to her, I would take care of Sam. They didn’t have a lot of money, so I sent Sam to college. I think that when she saw how well Sam was doing, she figured he didn’t need her anymore and she kinda gave up. She died about three years ago.”
“Does Sam know the whole truth about what happened?”
Sandor nodded. “He knows everything. We’re pretty close and I look out for him. He’s working on his masters in English literature right now. I don’t think he needs me too much anymore,” Sandor admitted.
Sansa put her arm around Sandor and snuggled into his shoulder. “Don’t you ever give up,” she told him. She wanted to tell Sandor it was because she needed him, but she wasn’t ready for that. Not yet.