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Bad Moon Rising

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c.1859

Sansa woke to the soft sound of Sandor’s voice, the deep rumble barely above a whisper but it was enough to pull her from slumber. Judging by the soft light coming through the windows, it was just after dawn, a new day rising in the North. They had spent the night as they did the ones previous, lost in each other until exhaustion had claimed them. She never slept as well as she did, sated and safe in her Mate's arms.

Shifting against the cool sheets, she realized that her husband was not laying beside her, but had moved to rest his head on her stomach. The weight and warmth of him against her bare flesh was a comfort, one that had a smile curling her lips.

“Husband” she ran her fingers through his loose hair, drawing his eyes to hers. “What mischief are you getting up to?”

“Talking to my son, Princess” he shifted then moved to her side, wrapping his arms around her, his fingers idly toying with her hair. “Man talk. Secret stuff.”

“Oh, I see” she laughed against the bare skin of his chest. “What time are you needed below stairs?”

“We have time” Sandor assured her, his lips curving into the lecherous smirk she had come to love.

“Oh we do, do we?”

“Aye, Little Mate” he growled, sitting up against the headboard to pull her astride his lap. His large hands splayed wide over her hips, holding her close. “Plenty of time for me to enjoy the view.”

“And are you enjoying the view?” she rocked her core against him, his cock quickly coming to life between them.

“Absolutely” he growled softly, using his hands on her hips to guide her, grinding up against her as she whimpered. Her head lolled back, hair falling behind her and she felt Sandor’s hands travelling upwards, the warmth of his touch spreading through her.

“Sandor” she sighed as his hand ghosted across the column of her throat, lingering over her mating mark he had left there their first night together for just a moment before he cupped her face.

“Beautiful” he muttered, tracing the curve of her jaw. “I could watch you--admire you forever, Little Bird.”

“I’d rather you make love to me, husband” she leaned closer, working a trail of fluttering kisses from his temple to his jawline, the texture of his scars something she rather cherished against her lips.

Her mate, her husband was a survivor. Strong, fierce and yet so incredibly gentle. She had known, she had always known from the moment that she walked into the Great Hall and laid eyes on Sandor Clegane for the very first time, that he was a man unlike any she had ever met before.

And time and time again she had been proven right.

Every time he protected her from harm. Every time he made her smile, made her laugh when all she wanted to do was cry in solitude. Every time he stood by and allowed her to speak for herself. Every time he encouraged her to share an opinion, on everything from books to current events, no matter who was listening. Every time he kissed her. Every time he made love to her, taking time to worship every inch of her body.

And every time he fucked her, taking her and reminding her that they belonged only to each other.

There were a million things that she adored about Sandor Clegane and she was sure that there were a million more she had yet to discover. And she couldn’t wait to discover them all. They had plenty of time for that, she knew all too well. Wolves tended to live for hundreds of years if not longer. Old Nan had been over a millenia in age when she had finally died. Sansa could only pray that she would have that long with Sandor and their children.

“I’d make love to you anytime you ask” Sandor mumbled against her lips at the same moment his fingers dipped between their bodies. “Already wet for me, hmm?” She sighed as he traced her folds, delving just deep enough to wet his fingers--likely with her own slick and a bit of his spend from the night's passion, before tracing them over the head of his cock.

“Always” she promised, nearly boneless as he shifted her and aligned himself at her opening. “Always” she repeated, sinking onto him. Sandor’s deep growl rumbled through them both, his cock filling her in that delicious way and she allowed herself a moment to simply savour the way he felt buried within her.

“Aye, Little Mate” he whispered his agreement, having heard her thoughts echo through their connection. She took a shaking, fluttering breath, raising her fingers to trace over her stomach, dancing across the smooth skin over her belly button and lower.

“I love the way this feels,” she purred. “Having you here, joined with me” her hand settled over her womb.

“There is nothing in the world more incredible than this” Sandor’s voice was tinged with awe, affection flooding their bond, settling in her blood like a heady wine. “Nothing in the world like knowing our child is here” his hand covered hers, rough and warm. “Growing safely, a miracle made from both of us.”

“It’s how I know that you love me” she couldn’t help but tease. “You have given me everything I could desire; including your love.” She turned her hand to twine with his, raising it to the headboard beside his head and holding him in place before giving the same treatment to his free hand. The movement of holding his hands to the wooden frame had her leaning closer, idly rocking her hips as her breasts brushed his chest.

They both knew that Sandor was only ‘trapped’ for as long as he wished to be. He could easily overpower her but she knew from the way his breathing hitched that he was perfectly content to let her hold him captive. You could hardly be a prisoner if you were willing…

Sansa started slowly, grinding their bodies together rather than moving in earnest, using her hold on his hands as leverage. Absently her mind registered the rhythmic smoothing of his thumb against hers, yet another small reminder of how much her husband loved her.

It did not take long for the gentle lust to simmer into a boil, their shared chambers filled with panting breaths and soft mewls, just as Sandor’s eyes were filled with blatant and swirling affection that made her blood race.

“That’s it, Little Mate” he encouraged, his voice tickling across her flesh as his hands flexed in hers. “Take what you need of me. Take all of it, take everything.”

“Yes” she could only force the single syllable from her lips and once it escaped she renewed her focus on her building peak. She hadn’t realized that she had wilted against him, her cheek pressed together as she rode him, not until his voice sounded beside her ear, his warm breath tickling her neck.

“That's it,” her mate purred. “I can feel you, so close, Little Mate. Are you going to be a good girl and come on my cock? Hmm?” he asked and she whimpered, biting her lower lip as she moved her hips faster, slamming onto his with firm, steady strokes.

Her breathing hitched and then her entire world exploded, every nerve firing, every muscle pulling tight as she shook with the power of her climax, sagging heavily against her mate’s chest. Sandor’s growl registered in her ear in the same moment his hands slipped from hers to take her hips, holding her in place as he fucked up into her.

The sounds of his flesh slapping against hers echoed in a sinful symphony until Sandor’s cock had driven her to another peak, this time coming around his cock as he drained into her in heated jets that coated her inner walls.

“Fuck” he whispered, his fingers flexing and releasing the flesh of her hips, sliding them to her back to hold her tight as she burrowed against his bearded jaw.

They sat together, bodies entwined and at peace until their hearts slowed to a normal pace and the sweat on their skins had begun to cool. Only then did they part with a lingering kiss, cleaning themselves up to face the day’s duties.

 

Sandor was nearly to the King’s private offices when a thump in the hall to the kitchen caught his attention. Frowning he stepped around the corner only to draw up short at the sight that awaited him. Once he realized, however, what he was looking at he could barely cover the burst of laughter that escaped from his lips.

There, leaning against the kitchen’s massive wooden table, looking more haggard and exhausted than any other Wolf in history, was Gendry Waters. He wore only breeches and a lawn shirt, his feet bare and hair a mess--as if hands had spent the night pulling at it. That was a fact that Sandor did not wish to dwell on.

“Clegane” Gendry groaned, sagging against the table.

“I can not tell if she’s finished you or brought you to life, Waters” Sandor looked him over as he chuckled, not surprised to see the mating mark--no, mating marks that marred Gendry’s neck and even the one beneath his chin, just curving to his jaw.

“I think she has killed me” Gendry laughed breathlessly. "I am not sure why I expected anything less. She does nothing in half-measure."

“Then you’re lucky” Sandor crossed into the kitchen, working deftly to plate meat, cheese and bread enough for both Gendry and Arya before grabbing a pitcher of milk. His lips twitched at the memory of a time not so long ago that he had done the same for his mate. Though, truthfully Sandor had been in much better shape than Gendry was in this moment. Poor boy had been ‘ridden hard and put up wet’. “Here” he set the plate and pitched in front of Gendry.

“Thank you” Gendry nodded, swallowing thickly, looking up at him. “Aren’t you going to ask after Arya?”

“No” Sandor scoffed. “That little Runt is likely snug and warm in bed while you’re as faint as a mayflower” his eyes went pointedly to the series of marks. “She certainly got the best of you.”

“She did” Gendry laughed then, shaking his head. "Oh Gods she did" he sighed, leaning heavily on the table.

“Do not act like you’re miserable” Sandor patted the smaller Wolf on the back. “Welcome to the family, Good Brother.”

“Thank you, Clegane--Good Brother” Gendry nodded, then paused. “I’ve never had a family before, not a proper one.”

“Then allow me to offer what is sure to be the first of many ‘brotherly’ reminders” Sandor grabbed Gendry’s shoulder, holding it just tight enough to be a warning. “As long as Arya is happy, your life will be easy, painless…” he let the unspoken threat hang in the air for several beats before he continued. “Now take that upstairs, before the rest of the house wakes.”

“I will,” Gendry replied, answering both the threat and instruction. “Thank you” he lifted the plate and pitcher before striding, however unsteadily, from the kitchens.

Sandor stood in the empty room for several minutes before his laughter filled the air, his hand running over his bearded chin in amusement. He resumed his path to the King’s offices, his mind wandering to the not-so-unexpected change in events. The little Runt had a mate now, soon she’d get a taste of her own medicine, a little payback for all her snippy comments and dramatic sighs. Sandor couldn’t want to dish that out.

But more importantly the Stark family was one more Wolf stronger and he knew that, for all his faults, Gendry would protect Arya to his dying breath, as she would protect him. Family ties and fierce loyalty were all that would get them through whatever was coming on the horizon, and he knew without a doubt in his mind that the Stark family’s solidarity would be more than enough to ensure victory.

 

“Where to begin” Olenna sat on the plush window seat beside Sansa, smoothing her pale grey skirts out over her feet. “Ah, yes,” she continued. “Go ahead and take off the locket and hold it with your hands.”

Sansa did as the older Witch instructed, working the clasp to allow the warm metal to pool into her hand. She traced her finger over the flaming stag engraving on the front, unused to seeing it when it wasn’t reflected back at her in a mirror.

“It always surprises me how warm the metal is,” Sansa said quietly without looking up. “As if a great flame lives within it.”

“The flame of righteousness, possibly” Olenna mused. “Divine magic is so rarely used, I was very fortunate to have come across it. The shopkeeper, Davos, always knows to alert me when he has found such rare items as this.”

“And yet…” Sansa paused, carefully considering her words.

“I would encourage you to speak openly with me,” Olenna cupped her hands under Sansa’s. “You have already seen that I am a woman of too much honesty and not enough propriety.”

“And yet you have gifted it to me” Sansa met Olenna’s eyes, holding her gaze. “A woman you had never met before and had no alliance to. Why?”

“I have known Petyr Baelish for many years, not a single day of which I ever trusted him” Olenna explained, carefully cradling Sansa’s hands and therefore the locket. “When your Mother rejected his advances and chose to marry your Father, something within him--some tether to the morals of men, shattered. So when I learned that you had fallen ill and by some miracle it was Baelish who helped…” she raised her eyebrows suggestively and Sansa felt the impact of Olenna’s meaning.

“You knew he had something to do with it--with me falling ill?”

“I strongly suspected and so I went to his realm and asked him” Olenna smugly smiled. “He wasn’t too happy about that little visit and it confirmed my suspicions.”

“And because of this you chose to make an alliance with my family?”

“Because of this I knew that I couldn’t let you be hurt, not by a sniveling shit of a weasel like Baelish” Olenna sighed. “Pardon my language, of course.”

“Of course” Sansa laughed.

“The moment I decided to help you--which could have been the moment that Baelish called me a ‘hag’, the locket set on its path towards me and I knew it was fated to be yours the moment I held it in my hands” Olenna released Sansa’s hands. “And now I am going to teach you how to talk with your Guardian.”

“It would be nice to put a name and face to this invisible, omnipotent protector” Sansa agreed.

“Well,” Olenna clicked her tongue. “Certainly like all other men in this world, he will instantly fall in love and throw himself prostrate at your feet” she laughed wildly, the sound free and uninhibited. At her joke, Sansa could feel Sandor’s bristling scoff in the back of her mind and a smile twitched at her lips as she imagined his grumbling expression.

“That is not an ideal plan” Sansa replied to Olenna who calmed her laughter, clearing her throat.

“Ahem, now then, let’s begin.”

“Alright” Sansa squared her shoulders, preparing herself for whatever lay ahead.

“It is very simple, really” Olenna began. “You press the locket between your palms, holding firmly to ensure the metal is flush with your skin. And, do not say them yet but when I leave, you will speak--with confidence of course, darling, volo loqui cum custos in Spiritu,” she said, repeating them several times while Sansa committed the phrase to memory. “And if he consents, you will be able to speak with him. These things are all about consent, meeting as equals. It's rude to simply ‘pop’ in unannounced, even with magic.”

“And when we are done?” Sansa asked.

“You agree to break the connection, bid each other goodbye, and it is done” Olenna assured her.

“Baelish” Sansa whispered. “The night before I shifted for the first time, he pulled me into this nightmare…”

“Did he?”

“It was a field with flowers and he was there” Sansa shivered at the horrible memory. “I couldn’t escape and the things he said…”

“He invaded your mind, that is a violation not only of trust but also of your person” Olenna said sadly. “He is not a good man, my darling girl. He is dangerous and his grip on his sanity is slipping.”

“He is going to start a war, isn’t he?”

“He already has.”

“All of this scares me,” Sansa admitted and she felt Sandor’s affectionate reassurance passing through their connection. While he could hear all that was being said, and speak to Sansa in return, he was downstairs with the others discussing strategy and the war to come.

“War is terrifying” Olenna agreed. “But you are protected, safe and strong. Being afraid is normal, there is no shame in that. Now, Margaery is likely getting into trouble with that dashing older Brother of yours, so I will leave you to your peace. You remember the words?”

“Yes” Sansa nodded.

“Then I wish you well” Olenna briefly pat Sansa’s cheek before standing, moving silently from the room and pulling the door closed behind her.

Suddenly, the silence in the library felt overwhelming and Sansa had to take several deep breaths to prepare herself.

“You’re alright, Little Bird” Sandor assured her. “I am right here with you.” His words gave her the boost of confidence that she needed and she closed her palms around the locket, holding it tightly.

“Volo loqui cum custos in Spiritu” she spoke with confidence she hardly felt. The world around her was silent for nearly a minute when suddenly she felt the world fall out from under her feet, everything going black.

And then…

“Oh” Sansa gasped, opening her eyes to find herself in the dense fog of morning, directly facing the open door of a massive stone Church. The inside seemed to glow with firelight, warmth emanating from the open door. The warmth reminded her so much of the locket, how it felt...

”Sandor?” she reached out but her connection to him felt muted, as if they were a great distance apart.

”I am here” he assured her. “I will stay with you.”

”Thank you” she focused back on the matter at hand.

A quick glance around revealed terrain she had never seen before, and beyond there was a vast, shimmering ocean though it too was hindered by heavy fog.

Wherever she was, she was far from home.

The sound of footsteps had her looking back to the Church and there in the doorway was the second largest man she had ever seen. The first being Sandor, of course.

She looked him over, just as he was coolly examining her, hoping that the details of his person would give away his identity. Atop his head, one shaved completely bald, sat a golden crown that consisted of intricately entwined antlers. Like other crowns she had seen, there were no jewels in this one, only cold metal and harsh angles.

He looked like a medieval warrior she had seen in picture books and fairy tales, all raw power and honor. He was clad in black leather, the armor plates settled over his breast and shoulders well worn and battle scarred. Even the great sword at his waist seemed to be exhausted. His face was strong, if impassive and his eyes were a shocking shade of midnight blue that she had not, for some reason, expected. But they held such sadness, unspeakable pain and loss that made her heart ache.

The final detail she noticed really should have been the first, since the flaming stag emblazoned over his heart perfectly matched the locket’s engravings. It was him...

“Good morning” he spoke smoothly, his voice deeply accented and strong.

“Good morning” she took a step closer. “My name is Sansa of House Stark.”

“A Wolf then?” he asked and she nodded in return. “I am Stannis of House Baratheon, welcome to Storm’s End” he offered his arm and she carefully took it, his height towering over her as he escorted her into the Church proper.

“It’s beautiful” she marvelled at the stunning murals on the walls and the fixtures and statues along each side. It was more opulent than any ancient Church she had seen before, filled with detailed paintings and metal stag details.

“It is the oldest Church in Westeros, somehow it has survived every war and rebellion. A small mercy of the Gods, I suppose” he explained, leading her down the aisle to the first row of pews. They paused at the base of the dais, the altar looming before them.

“Allow me to begin, before I forget,” she started shyly. “Thank you for agreeing to speak with me.”

“Of course” he gave a small nod. “I would ask that you forgive me if I am ill-practiced in conversation, it has been quite sometime since I have spoken to another.”

“You mean...you are alone here?”

“I am” he nodded. “While technically we are in Storm’s End, my being here is but an echo, a shadow. My heart was always in Storm’s End, so it makes sense that it has become my afterlife.”

“You must be very lonely, I am so sorry.”

“I am well, thank you for your concern. Even in life I was a solitary man” he escorted her to the front pew and helped her to sit before sitting a polite distance away from her on the same bench. They angled towards each other to continue their conversation. “What brings you here today, Princess?”

“I have been given a locket--your locket, though you must have already guessed as much” she began, noticing the sharp flash of pain that swept across his features as she spoke. “And I had hoped to know you--the Guardian.”

“The locket belonged to my Mother,” he looked to the altar for several seconds and when he looked back at her the pain had been schooled away from his features. “She wore it every day until she was killed.”

“I am very sorry” Sansa replied, though she knew words wouldn’t help to soothe the loss of a Mother.

“She was the reason I chose the path of a Guardian” he explained and Sansa listened intently as he spoke. “She was with child, nearly full term when the attack came and she was cut down. I knew that she was gone before I reached her side, but I held her tightly, lost to the realization that I had failed her completely. Her and my younger sibling who would never have a chance to live.”

Sansa quickly wiped the tears from her cheeks, “I am so sorry, Stannis” she used his given name without permission, and while it broke propriety, she felt that there was no space for titles and formality in this candid conversation. “I cannot even imagine how awful it was, and I am so sorry.”

“Thank you” he nodded vaguely, clenching and unclenching his jaw for several moments before he continued. “Divine magic comes at a high cost, but it is one I was willing to pay. I only sought to protect those who could not protect themselves. Which, I suppose, is what brings you here.”

“It is,” she nodded.

“I confess, I am surprised that a Wolf would find itself in possession of the locket” he said, glancing over her person once more. "They were always the strongest, most powerful of the supernatural beings."

“I am not sure how much you know about Wolves, but when a female Wolf is with child she cannot shift” Sansa said softly, placing her hand over her still-flat stomach. “They--we are trapped in our human forms until no longer carrying the child.”

“I see” his jaw clenched several times and she wondered if he was grinding his teeth as well.

“You need to tell him everything” Sandor encouraged, his presence ever-strong at the corner of her mind.

“If you would allow it,” she paused. “I would tell you...well, everything.”

He considered her offer for several seconds and then nodded, “Please do. I am quite interested to hear your story, Princess.”

“Please call me Sansa,” she politely corrected and then began, starting at the beginning she told him everything.

Her parent’s history. Sandor’s arrival in Winterfell. Her sudden illness. Baelish's arrival. Her marriage. All of it.

To his credit, Stannis listened intently, never once looking bored or impatient. He did pause her several times to ask a question or for clarification, but he allowed her to speak until she had revealed it all, laying it out before him like a story.

“I am grateful to have a greater understanding of things” he nodded, crossing his arms across his broad chest as he leaned back against the pew. “It seems that war is coming to Westeros once again, which is unfortunate.”

“It scares me,” she admitted. “The idea of war tearing across the continent and taking away those that I love. Especially now that I have so much to lose” her hand settled on her stomach once more and she did her best to hold back tears.

“There are several constants in the world; war is terrifying, unfortunately that will never change,” Stannis agreed. “You can always trust a Targaryen to be mad as a hare, and one should never trust a Bolton.”

She laughed in spite of herself and she thought a smile might have tugged at the corner of Stannis’ frowning mouth. Had he ever smiled, she thought to herself.

“Man hasn’t had much to smile about, Little Bird” Sandor said softly and she couldn’t help but agree. Stannis’ life had been consumed by war and loss, and his afterlife had been spent in eternal solitude.

Abruptly, Stannis stood, armor clattering as he strode to a large wooden table that was covered in parchments and candles. He shuffled through them for several minutes but he located whatever it was he had been looking for, and returned to sit beside her once again.

“This is a Valyrian blade” he showed her the small leather scabbard in his hands. It was old, very old, and the leather had a lovely patina from wear and tear. At the top, near the blade’s handle was a prancing stag made of metal, it too had a lovely patina.

“It is beautiful,” she noted, watching as he pulled the blade free of its home.

“This blade is connected directly to me. Just as was Lightbringer, my sword, this dagger was affixed to my belt when Cressen wove the spell and bound my soul to the locket” he explained, his eyes intense and jaw tight. “All you have to do is draw blood with it, even if it is your own from a prick of the finger, and I will come.”

“Stannis--”

“The locket, if you open it I will come but there could be a delay” he shook his head. “Divine Magic and its courtesies. But if you use this blade, I will know you’re in immediate danger, and I will come. I will protect you, Sansa, I vow it.”

“I do not know what to say,” she whispered.

“Say you will take it and keep it with you always” he slipped the blade back into its sheath and extended it to her. “You can fasten it to an ankle easily enough.”

“Already giving you gifts, I see” Sandor grumbled, surely remember Olenna's earlier gest. “And thinking about your ankles.”

“Oh hush, do not be absurd” she replied, taking the blade from Stannis, surprised at how light it was.

“Should you feel up to it, I would appreciate updates as things progress” Stannis asked, sitting up straighter.

“I will keep you updated,” Sansa promised. “I should like for us to become friends, if you will allow it.”

“I find that agreeable” he briefly looked away, as if uncomfortable with the shift in relationship. “And do not trust Roose Bolton,” Stannis added, turning back with renewed determination.

“No, I will not,” she agreed. “Thank you, Stannis. For listening and for offering to help, I am very grateful.”

“Of course” he nodded, rising smoothly and offering her a hand to help her stand as well. She slipped her fingers into his and gracefully stood, keeping the blade in her other hand. “For now I shall bid you good evening.”

“Evening?” she looked beyond the open door of the Church to see the sun setting over the ocean. “Oh.”

“We talked for sometime” Stannis gave an odd chortle of a laugh at her surprise.

“And you said you were ill-practiced in conversation” she teased, squeezing his hand before releasing it. “Until we speak again, Stannis.”

“Until we meet again” he agreed, bowing his head slightly. “Keep the blade close.”

“I will” she bid him farewell and the world around her fell away once more, this time returning her to the library. Darkness had all but fallen on Winterfell, but the library was illuminated with candles and a blazing fire, chasing the chill from the room.

Her eyes immediately found Sandor, his large frame enfolded into his chair beside the fire. He had discarded his jacket and held a closed book over one knee, his eyes watching her closely. Ever the protector, she smiled, watching over her while she talked with the Guardian. She knew that, at least for the first part of her discussion with Stannis, Sandor had been in a meeting with her Father and the Others. But once that was done, Sandor had continued to observe her and the Guardian through their connection.

It would, more than anything, make things easier as she wouldn’t have to explain what she had seen and discussed with Stannis Baratheon.

“You’re well?”

“I am” she clasped the locket back around her neck, the familiar warmth making her smile. She now had a face and a name to put to the Guardian, and she felt as if she could now list Stannis Baratheon amongst her circle of friends. Picking up the dagger she stood and crossed to where Sandor sat.

 

Sandor took the blade she extended to him, the light weight of the rare metal settling into his palm before the weight of his mate settled into his lap. Sansa sat across his lap, her legs dangling over the arm of the wingback chair as she snuggled to his chest, the crown of her head beneath his chin. As always, she fitted against him perfectly, her body the missing piece of his own and he sighed in relaxation at being connected to her once more. Setting the blade on the side table, he wrapped his arms around her, holding her close.

“He agreed to help” she said, the words more of a relief than a statement of fact and he ‘hummed’ in response. “He looked so very sad.”

“The men in his time did little but fight and die, Little Bird” he assured her. “He has not seen much joy.”

“I know” she whispered and he could see that the Guardian’s sadness weighed heavily on Sansa’s heart. His wife was a loving and warm woman, it would only make sense that seeing others so unhappy would sadden her. In truth she had seen the pain and unhappiness in his own eyes many times and immediately soothed it away. He could see that the duty of the crown was a heavy burden for Stannis Baratheon to wear, as were the painful memories of his past. The man had taken shelter in a Church on his family’s property, hiding away in the shadow of a world he had died to protect. No, there was little for Stannis to smile about.

Sandor had listened to their conversation through his bond with Sansa. Seeing, hearing, even smelling was possible if he focused, which made him feel better about the odd way she had looked, peaceful and sleeping on the window seat in the library, her mind in another world.

“I am glad that he will help” Sandor admitted. “As your Mate it is my duty to protect you but if things go badly, I will be needed with the armies and I cannot bear the idea of being parted from you.”

“I will be safe” Sansa promised, raising a hand to rest it on the fabric of his waistcoat over his heart. They sat in silence for several moments, the crackling of the fire filling the air, until Sandor spoke.

“There is one thing, Little Bird” Sandor placed a kiss on the crown of her head. He had noticed the smell the moment he had taken a seat in the library. Away from the King’s offices and the other males, he could finally focus on where Sansa was, what surrounded her and it had surprised Sandor entirely.

“What is that?”

“Stannis Baratheon smells familiar” Sandor whispered, leaning closer to bury his nose into her hair. Even her proximity to the man during the length of her stay had his distinct scent lingering in her hair. Sansa, of course, had never been close enough to another male to recognize the familiar scent, but Sandor had trained and fought alongside the males for years, he knew it straight away. While part of him--most of him, bristled at another man's scent on his Mate, he was oddly grateful that it had, as it served to confirm his suspicions.

“He...the Baratheon blood?” Sansa raised her head to look at him, her eyes wide, the pale orbs reflecting the firelight.

Sandor nodded, “He smells like Gendry Waters…”

“Oh. Oh no.”

Amplificare” Sandor spoke the word as a pang of fear settled into his gut.