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The Lost Rose

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  Sandor and his men rode hard to get back home, winter was slowly finding its way down and they were all eager to get out of the cold. It had been a week now that Sandor had been away from the keep, rent was due- and for as long as he had been Lord, Sandor made sure to show his face when collecting the moneys.

  Not to scare the villagers, as the people here had seen his ugly mug for decades now- since he was a child. Since Gregor had done the awful thing, the villagers knew that Gregor was the one to be scared of- not Sandor. 
  No, Sandor made sure to collect the rents personally to show his people that he was not above them- that they were all the same. People. 
  His people.

He would not sit in his castle- if you could call Clegane Keep a castle- and set out decrees for his people to obey. If Sandor was to ask something of them, he would do it personally. 
   It was not a large party, only himself and three other fighting men, his solicitor, and a man to drive the wagon. Not everyone could pay with coins, so a lot of his payment was livestock or grain. It was something the people appreciated, that they didn’t have someone like Tywin Lannister as their Lord. 
  Sandor wasn’t the richest Lord out there, but he had enough- and for at least the moment he had peace across his lands. 
  Unbeknownst to him all that was about to change, and it all started when he heard the cry of a young child. At first Sandor thought he was hearing things, maybe a noise from one of the goats- but then he heard it again.

  Clearly a child. 

And he wasn’t the only one, Bronn stopped his horse along side Stranger, and they both strained their ears for a listen. In the woods.

  “Bronn, Hamish- come with me. Pod, guard the wagon- if it’s bandits let out a yell. Spread out.” The three of them dismounted, and walked into the woods- ready to pull out their sword if need be. 
  The woods in the area were a confusing lot, with sounds bouncing around making it hard to find someone with ears alone. But Sandor has always been an experienced tracker, so it wasn’t a surprise when it was him who found the child. 
  He was a young little boy, with unruly curls- a dark Auburn in color, his little eyes were screwed shut with tears running down his face. Why was he out here on his own? He couldn’t have been more than two or three years old, but what really made his blood boil were the clear bruises on his neck and face. 
  A twig snapped underfoot and the kids eyes snapped open, his breaths came faster, and Sandor knew this look- the look of a child who was beaten, as Sandor was sure this was how he, himself had looked often in his young years.

   He squatted down, trying his best to make his height less intimidating, “C’mere wee one. It won’t be me hurtin ya. Yer safe now.” His lowland accent coming out in full force, yet he tried to keep his voice soft for the lad. 
   Sandor motioned the boy forward, hoping the kid wouldn’t try to run- as he would be forced to give chase and catch him. There was now way he was leaving a little kid out here alone. 
  After a few minutes of the two of them just staring at each other, his little legs slowly shuffled forward, the little boys tears seemed to be slowing down, until finally he stood right in front of Sandor. Staring him right in the eyes, it would have made him uncomfortable if the little boy had been staring at his scars this close up- but the kids eyes never moved from his own. As if he was staring right into Sandor’s soul, so he did what he thought best- and opened his arms.

  After a beat the boy fell into his arms, shoving his little face into Sandor’s neck- all he could feel were tears and all he could hear were sobs. 
  Sandor wouldn’t have been able to explain the feeling in his chest, the emotion that seemed to clog his throat- only knowing that he must protect this child. So he stood and walked back to his party, it was strange- the child was dirty and beaten, which suggested he could be a poor orphan- but what confused him more were the boys clothes. They felt fine, and though they were dirty and covered in mud, the clothes were of quality- which suggested something different. 
   But he did not know this child. Sandor knew all the families in the area, wealthy and poor alike- he had just been collecting all the rents, he should know who this boy was. Sandor could only conclude he wasn’t from around here, another mystery surrounding this child.

   Finally arriving at the wagon, Arron- the wagon driver, called out for Pod.

  “The Lords back, Pod. And he’s got a little lad with him.” Both came towards him with confusion on their faces- again neither of them recognizing the boy.
   Sandor placed the child on the wagon, his eyes taking in the new men around him- not liking it, the boy reached for him yet again.

   The small smile was something wouldn’t or couldn’t explain, but he shoved it aside, “Old man, get him some bread and a skin of water... or milk?”

  Tears were starting to form yet again, so Sandor placed his hand on the boys back, hoping it would comfort him in some way. 
  “So where’s he from? He’s all dirty, and those are some wicked bruises, boss.” Pod leaned in closer to get a better look, and when the boy shifted further in towards Sandor, he felt this surge of protectiveness.

  “I don’t know, Podrick. He’s not been talkin.” Sandor couldn’t explain his feelings, he knew Podrick wouldn’t hurt a fly- so why was he acting this way towards a child he scarcely knew?

  “Okay.. okay, well laddy you got a name? When do kids start talkin? Is he old enough?” Finally Arron came around with the piece of bread and handed it to the boy, with the water in his other hand.

   Sandor held the water while the boy ate- more like scarfed the food down, obviously hungry. Probably hadn’t eaten in a long while by the looks of it, “Where’s yer Ma?”

  The child looked up at him when Sandor asked the question, with crumbs all over his face, “Ma?”

  “Yes! Your mother? Do you-“ As he was about to continue speaking, he heard a shout from Hamish. 

  “Milord, we’ve found a woman!” From the tone of his voice he knew it wasn’t good, so Sandor shoved the skin of water at Pod with a scowl.

  “Watch him. I’ll be back.” Sandor looked back at the little boy, before running towards the direction of this mystery woman. 

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  Following Hamish towards this girl was one of the strangest experiences of Sandor’s life- the route towards her simple and quick, but in his mind the journey went much slower. When Sandor saw her, it was as if he were walking through molasses- it was hard to process what he was seeing. 
  She was singlehandedly one of- if not the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. But to see her like this.... It was nauseating. 
   “Is she alive?” Sandor had to know, so Bronn crept closer and put a hand to her mouth.

  “She’s breathing, but she looks... delicate. Breakable.” He could only nod in agreement, the girl was beaten- with bruises going up and down her body, her wrists were rubbed raw and bleeding- Sandor assumes it had to have been some kind of rope to leave that kind of mark.

   And all of this combined with the boy- it only made Sandor furious. There was a person or persons on his lands beating up women and children- something had to be done. Someone had to pay.

   Because worst of all, the girl reminded him of his sister- her clothes were torn and there was blood between her thighs. 
   He would kill this person.

Limb from limb. And smile doing it.

   But that was for another day, right now Sandor could only help her- so he pulled off his cloak and threw it over the girl, before carefully lifting her up.Her head rolled to the side, and he saw more blood, on a large stone she must have hit her head on- explaining her state of unconsciousness at least.
   Bronn and Hamish were silent, knowing this was serious- Sandor turned to leave, when something caught his eye. 
   A plaid not but a few feet away. 
He turned to Hamish, “Go and grab that will ya? I think it’s the girls.”

  Hamish nodded and Sandor walked, trying to keep his gait steady, so as not to jostle the already fragile girl. Beyond the bruises and blood, he could see how pretty she really was. But Bronn was right, she looked as if one wrong touch might shatter her like an already broken vase. 
   Sandor held her as gently as he could, but inside he was almost shaking with the reminder of his past. The reminder of his sister and what Gregor had done to her, it was many many years ago- but at this moment felt like it had happened not but yesterday. His sister was no longer part of the living, but he’d be damned if he lost this girl as well. 
  Finally the wagon came into view, and Bronn jogged ahead- but Sandor could hear the little boy crying from here. As Sandor got closer he could see Pod trying his best to soothe the boy, but he was fighting him- having almost a full on fit. 
  “Make room. We’ll put her in the cart with the boy.” At the sound of a familiar voice, the child seemed to calm down and turned to look for him. Only to start freaking out again. Sandor thought he might be reaching for him, when he saw that the boys eyes were on the woman. 
  And finally it clicked. 
The flaming red hair on her, was not too different from the deep auburn of the boy. They were related. 
   “Pod, you’ll be riding in the cart with the boy and his..... and the girl,” Sandor turned to the rest of the party before continuing, “this’ll delay us o’course, but it must be done. I’ll not have rapers and beaters on my lands. Hopefully we’ll be home by nightfall.” 
   The men nodded before going around to get things sorted, while he watched the little lad touch the girls face.

  “Gently, lad.” The boy turned to look at him, and while Sandor knew the kid probably didn’t know what he was saying, somehow it seemed to get through to him- instead snuggling as close to the unconscious red head as possible.

   And that same impossible to explain feeling came rushing to Sandor, making his chest warm in a way it hadn’t in many years.

Chapter Text

  Sansa woke with a start, her eyes flew open and she immediately tried to sit up- and found that she couldn’t. Her body felt this heavy soreness, and the pain made her fall back into the bed. 
   Her body was grateful for the relief, but then a thought went through her head- she couldn’t remember how she got in the bed, or why she was hurting all over... Sansa’s breathing sped up, panic setting in at how little she could actually remember. 
  It was in this state, that the door to her unfamiliar room creaked open- and the old woman who ambled in saw her and came rushing over. 
  “Oh lass... ‘tis alright, yer safe now.” The old woman held her hand and tried to soothe her as best she could, bringing a cup of cool water to Sansa’s lips. And despite how kind this woman seemed to be, she was a stranger- everything was new and frightening. 
  Sansa closed her eyes, hoping this was all some terrible dream- praying she could remember something. Anything. 
   The old woman worked around her, checking her body- the mysterious bruises made Sansa sick to look at, felt the bump at the back of her head- that was tender to the lightest touch. “Now, m’lady ye must tell me yer name... If the laird is to find where ye are from- he canna find yer clan without it.” 
   The old woman spoke with an accent that made her head spin, Sansa knew what she was saying- yet at the same time it was harder to process with all the unfamiliar words. 

  Sansa opened her mouth to speak, and it was as if her tongue was heavy with misuse, and she wondered how long she had been asleep- “I don’t... my name.... I- I can’t.....”

  And again her breath sped up, because now she was realizing the extent of her head trauma- it wasn’t only her journey here that she couldn’t remember. It was everything... 

   Her name, age, home, family- all gone. 

“Ye dinna ken yer name, lass? Oh jesu, I must get the laird.” The old woman patted her hand in what she thought must have been a comforting gesture- but all it did was worry her more. If this woman felt pity for her- than Sansa must truly be in trouble. 
  What could have been done to her, that she couldn’t remember anything? That she was covered head to toe in bruises? This soreness that Sansa felt, made her feel week in both body and soul. And despite the old woman being a stranger, Sansa didn’t want her to leave- the only person who had been kind to her, the only person she knew so far. 
  “Wait! Don’t leave... please.” The old woman turned back to look at her, and her face turned from one of pity to a softness that Sansa felt she needed at the moment. 
   “Dinna worry, lass. I will fetch the laird, and then bring ye some broth from Cook.” With that she left the room, and Sansa was alone yet again. Because she was alone. 
  She was a stranger even to herself- and the anxiety that came with that thought was suffocating. Sansa sat up, with considerable pain- but knew it must be done, and tried to catalog all the injuries she felt. She was looking at her hands, the torn and what must have been bloody nails- and though she must have been scratching someone or something with incredible force, when she heard a yell. 
  The yell of a child, a happy mixture of laughter and glee running near her door- when it suddenly opened.

  And she saw a giant.

A man so large and intimidating, she thought he must have been there to finish the job- and kill her where she lay. Sansa was about to cry out for the old woman when a child attached itself to his leg. The young boy was looking up at him with such a large smile on his face, it startled her at the juxtaposition of the image before her. 
   “Alright we’re don’t playin lad, get off.” Though the words sounded deep and rough, that same gleeful laugh came ring out of the child- and Sansa was confused.

  Who were these people? 

Finally the giant looked up at her, straight in her eyes- and all Sansa saw were the deep gray of a storm brewing behind those eyes. And it was familiar. 
   Not in a bad way- but something about him reminded her of that feeling that must have been home. His large figure, long hair- the only thing that drew a gasp from her were the awful scars on his face. And all she could think about were the bruises on her body, and how much those hurt- and how much worse his scars looked than hers. How much worse his pain must have been. 

  The man must have heard her gasp, and rightfully assumed it was because of his scars- his eyes hardened, before he went to pick up the boy off the floor. 
  “Girdie says ye canna remember yer name, is it true lass?” She nodded her confirmation, and was about to speak when the young boy reached out to her- and almost threw his whole body weight towards her. 
   It was so unexpected the man almost dropped the boy, and tried to stop his struggles- until finally the boy wiggles free and landed on the bed. 
   The child was much faster than either of them must have thought because in almost an instant he was crawling on top of her. The bruises burning with his weight- and if she had been an awful woman she would have tried to shove him off, instead trying to breathe through the pain for the sake of the boy. 
  Sansa could only assume this was the laird the woman called Girdie must have been referring too, “My lord, your son is quite heavy...”

   The man had been about to lift the little boy off of her when suddenly he stopped, and let out a loud laugh. 
  “This one is nae my son! We found him near ye, little lass.” The man continued to laugh, as if this was some great big joke. 
  And Sansa couldn’t have been more confused, and his laughter only seemed to rile her up even further, “Me?”

  “Yes, ye girl. Ye dinna remember him?” Sansa’s head shook fervently at his question, watching as the little boy gently touched her face and tried to snuggle as close to her as possible. Despite the warm feeling the little boy was inspiring in her gut- she could not remember him for the life of her. 
   “Well he certainly remembers ye, girl. Might be ye just-“ The man was about to finish his thought when the door opened again. His hand immediately went to the hilt of the dirk on his waist, when they realized it was only the old woman back again. Girdie, was what he called her- she carried a tray in her arms while opening what must have been a heavy door. 
  “Ah Laird Sandor, ye made it. Now be a dear and help an old woman- I shouldn’t have to ask. I thought I raised ye better than that, boy.” Girdie smiled at the man, and Sansa was almost jealous- that he had someone who cared for him so, when she couldn’t remember a thing.
  Did she have someone who loved and treated her like that? Someone who cared?
  “I jest, I jest- ye ken. Oh!” Girdie turned to look at her and saw the little boy in her lap, “No, no, no- Sandor get the lad off. Ye ken she is all black and blue, the little one is too heavy.”
   The man, Sandor as she called him, went and lifted the boy off of her- Sansa hadn’t noticed he had fallen asleep on her chest, and again that strange feeling came back. 
  She did not know this child, but a voice in her head told her to reach out- told her that this boy was precious to her. Sansa did not understand- who was this boy? Who was she? If he felt as important to her as he did, why then could she not recall him in the slightest? 

   “Now, m’lady- lie back and Ol’ Girdie will feed ye yer broth.” Sansa nodded at the old woman, already almost too tired to fight the heaviness of her eyelids. 
   Only questions filled her head as she fell back asleep.

Chapter Text

  Sansa stood at the foot of the bed, Girdie behind her trying to help her dress- the little boy playing in the corner of her room. It had been a strange few days since she met the Lord of Clegane Keep, the man himself hadn’t been back- but Girdie had told her that he constantly asked about her welfare. And apparently Sandor took his meals in the great hall with the small boy, and played with him outside often. 
   She couldn’t explain her attachment to the little one even if she tried, like Sandor the little boy reminded her of home for some reason. Though it was more than likely the little boy was from her home, as much as it did confuse her- the boy did look somewhat like her. With his dark red hair, pale skin, and his little nose- in Sansa’s deepest dreams she thought the boy might be her son. But when she asked Girdie, the woman's face went grim and she shook her head- like it was impossible. 
   But it didn’t feel impossible- despite not knowing this boy, he felt important. Sansa had already grown to love him, in the few days she had known the child. Girdie was helping her put a simple blue dress over her shift, the woman had insisted for the past few days that she take small walks- she said it was to get her bones strong again. But Sansa wasn’t sure it was her bones that needed the exercise, however she went along with it. Sansa enjoyed her short outings into Clegane Keep, the few people she saw were always kind, the air was fresh, and the land was beautiful. 
   “Alright lass, once ye put yer cloak on ye will be ready. ‘Tis getting cold out, with winter on the way.” Sansa nodded her head, agreeing that the air had a chill to it as it had yesterday. Turning her head as Girdie put her cloak on, Sansa looked towards the boy, “Come, little one.” 
  The child looked up at her with a smile, and Sansa wished she knew his name- wished she knew where they had come from. She wished a lot of things. 
  Girdie and herself began walking, with Sansa leaning on the woman for support when need be- and the little boy toddling along with a hold on her dress. The three of them walked through the halls, until they made it to the courtyard. 
  It was there they saw the Lord, training with a bunch of his men- and the boy let out a little screech. He was faster than Sansa though a boy of his age should be- Girdie and herself had concluded he couldn’t be more then two summers, almost three with how he could walk but not yet fully talk. The boy would say things that were almost words, but not quite yet. 
   The little child went running towards the Lord, and once Sandor saw him- a small smile was put on his face, and his sword was sheathed. 
   Sansa panicked- not wanting him to get hurt near all the fighting men, so she called after him, “Wait, R-“

  Her brows furrowed, had she been about to say the boys name? Yes. She had been about to- she could just feel it. 
  Sansa had to think, names that begin with the letter R....

   Ronald? Robert? Reese? Richard? R... Ugh it was so frustrating! Sansa was mad with herself, she could feel the name on the tip of her tongue- it just wouldn’t come out.

  In her distraction she hadn’t noticed Sandor coming over with the boy in his arms, “Are ye alright, lass?”

  She looked up at him, the sun hurting her eyes, pain suddenly came to her head- “Yes my lord, it’s only a sudden ache in my head. I feel... I must retire for I feel a great weakness coming upon me.” 
  Sansa must have truly looked unwell, “Aye, lass. Ye look as though ye are about to faint. Girdie take the boy-“

 Then before she knew it, she was in Sandor’s arms- and she was grateful, for she didn’t know if she would have made it back to her room on her own two feet. His steady footsteps, were almost relieving the pain- his presence calming her down for some unknown reason.

  Gently he placed her down in bed, “I dinna think ye were ready to walk so far, I shall tell Girdie as much.”

   “No, it wasn’t her fault. My head only began to ache, because I think... I think I’ve had a memory. Girdie did nothing wrong, she’s taken great care of me, sir.” Sansa pleaded, not wanting her daily walks to be shortened- despite today’s pain, her walks were nice. 
  “Aye, she has. But I canna have ye fainting in the halls- I’ll not be there to catch ye every time, only every other time.” Sansa couldn’t help but laugh, the small joke seeming strange coming from such a giant man. But she knew this Sandor Clegane was a good man, if not from how he treated her- but how he cared for her boy. 
  “Thank you, sir. For catching me this time, I can only pray that my head will not ache so every time a memory comes back to me.” The pain in Sansa’s head was slowly beginning to fade.

  Sandor swiped his hand in the air, “Ach don’t call me sir, lass. No one round here does, and no thanks are needed.” 
  Nodding her head, she was struck yet again with many questions- most of which centered around her heritage. She could plainly hear how different she sounded from all these people, an accent that made herself feel so very foreign. 

  “So what do I call you then?” 

Sandor turned from the window he was looking out of to stare back at her, a small smirk on his face- and Sansa realized she could almost get lost in those eyes, deep soulful eyes that drew her in. A gray so deep it reminded her of cold winter days, a time that must have been close to her heart, “Ye can call me Sa-“ 

  He has been about to finish when the door opened and a man she did not recognize came into her room, immediately her instincts told her to shrink further back- but stopped when she saw the man was carrying her boy. 
  Sansa’s arms reached out for the child, as he did the same- and the mystery man slowly handed him over. With caution as if approaching a scared animal, the boy snuggled closer and Sansa knew she would remember. She had too, for the boys sake- no one should go with a name. 
  Ironic, as her own name was still a mystery- but her child deserved better. 
  “This is Bronn, lass. He’ll not hurt ye, I’d skin him ‘afore he could. I’m laird here, so ye need not be worrying over any fool who would dare to try to hurt ye.” The man he spoke of smiled at what his lord was saying, as if it was funny somehow- before looking at her again. 

  “Thank you, my lord. And thank you sir Bronn, for bringing the boy back to me.” Both men nodded at her, before heading towards the door- presumably about to leave. 
  They were almost gone when Sandor turned back to her, “It’s almost midday meal, lass. I’ll have Girdie bring up something for ye and the boy- until then ye should get some rest.”

   She nodded her head, fully agreeing rest was what she needed- her body already on its was to dreamland. On her chest the weight of R- the boy, was not uncomfortable anymore. Her eyes shutting, thinking of how kind Lord Clegane had been to both her and her boy, was shocking- and heartwarming.

   A smile on her lips, her eyes shut, ready for sleep- when suddenly they flew back open again. Sansa bolted right up, and a word flew out of her mouth, as if she had no control of it at all-


Chapter Text

  It had been a few days since Sandor last saw the girl, he probably could have held her arm when escorting her back to her room, but picking her up had felt like the right thing to do. It was strange having someone so new around the castle after so many years- the girl brought out a curiosity in Sandor that baffled even himself. He needed to know everything about her- her name, what had happened on the road, the whereabouts of those fuckers, he wanted everything. 
  Worst of all- she was a great beauty, and despite trying to deny his feelings- every time he saw the girl he grew self conscious. Sandor knew what his scars looked like, he had had them for most of his life- but almost everyone around him had known him for years. Some of them had lived here when it had actually happened, others heard the story from mother’s or grandmother’s and knew not to stare. 
   He had seen the girl looking at his scars, most strangers did- but what threw Sandor was that she didn’t look at them with fear or disgust. Which is almost what he would expect- instead Sandor saw an almost kinship, or compassion staring back at him. It unsettled Sandor, it would almost have been easier if she screamed in fear- that would be easier for him to understand.

   Her memory was top priority at the moment, if they wanted to catch the men who had done this, if they wanted to find their family- she would need to remember. Sandor was hopeful that with time her head could heal and begin to fix itself, his theory was already proving correct. As Girdie came to him a few days ago and told him the girl had suddenly remembered the child’s name- Rickon was what she called him. 
  The boy responded to it well enough, so everyone figured it had to be true- and that’s what they started calling him. Rickon was easy enough to please, after he was fed all he wanted to do was play- and with Sandor no less.

   Sandor was told he was maybe two or three summers, so all the lad did was squeal and run amuck like one of the pigs. He was quite cute- though Sandor wouldn’t admit it, there was a little smugness when Rickon wouldn’t want to go to anyone else. Seeing the fading bruises put a fire in Sandor’s gut, but it was the trust in the child’s eyes that shocked him most. 
   He was outside the gates with most of the men, chopping wood for when winter would be most brutal. Sandor had seen the devastation of what hunger and fear could do to people, how desperate they could get- so every year the village and himself would try their best to prevent that from happening. He would chop until his hands bled if that’s what it took, so that his people could be warm, or have a hot meal. 
  Sandor and his staff were at the moment getting ready for the final grand feast before winter truly took hold. He would annually host a great feast with tons and tons of food for everyone in the village to attend, with enough left over that they might take some home for later. 
  It wasn’t something every lord did, but every winter Sandor figured it would be better to send his people home with full bellies, and drunk off wine and laughter. It was something Sandor’s people always looked forward to, that didn’t mean it was any less stressful to prepare for- so his head was in the clouds when Bronn started chopping beside him.

   “So....” the annoying man began.

Sandor looked up at him, “So?”

  “So... she’s a sassenach?” He knew immediately of whom he spoke, and the term didn’t sit right with Sandor. 

  Though it may be true, the way he said it just didn’t fit the girl, “We dinna ken who she is, Bronn.”

 Bronn laughed at that, hearing the defensive tone of his boss, but choosing to poke the bear even further, he kept going, “Well I may be daft and dumb, but I have ears... And you and I both know that lassie- is a northerner.”
  “Aye, she’s a northerner. But I wouldna’ be so judgmental, Bronn.”  Sandor kept hacking away at the wood that was passed along to him, the other men listening in like a bunch of hens. If Bronn wanted to poke fun at him, Sandor knew how to rile the other man up just as well.

   “Oh? And why’s that?” 

 Sandor smiles up at the man, knowing how sensitive he could get about his own accent, “Well, I was born at this Keep- I’m as southern as they come, but ye... I remember when ye came here, we dinna ken where ye were from. With the way ye speak mayhap ye were a northerner as well!”

   Laughter roared up all around him at Bronns expense, with all the other men hearing Sandor joke at how different the man sounded down here in the south.

  “Ach that’s bullshit and ye know it-“ Bronn shoved back at Sandor before Dougal cut him off with a laugh.

  “No, no, no Bronn- dinna be using ‘ye’! That’s no’ how ye sound, what was it ye said? Oh now I ken... ’you and I know that lassie’ Ye are just as bad! Ha” At that Sandor could see Bronn blush a bit, hearing Dougal imitate his voice. 
   “Shut up, I thought we were supposed to be working...” Everyone kept on laughing but went back to it, before Sandor slapped his friend on the back- the man knowing it was all a jape. 
   It was another hour or so of back breaking work, the cold weather making them sweat even harder when a maid came to speak to him.

   “Me laird, the washerwoman sent me to fetch ye.” Sandor looked up at the small woman and gave a nod, before wiping his face with his shirt. 
   “It’ll be dark soon, men. Might as well end it now, pick it up again on the morrow.” All the men looked relieved to be done for the moment, so Sandor went to follow the maid.

   “What is it, lass?”

The girl looked up at him, “Ye told the washerwoman to clean the sassenac- I mean, the girls plaid. We found a word embroidered on the corner, laird. The washerwoman and I canna read, so she sent me to fetch ye...”

   Sandor’s eyebrow furrowed at the maids slip of the tongue- it was one thing when Bronn said it to get a rise out of him, but wholly different if the maids were gossiping about her. He didn’t like it. She wasn’t some stranger here for nefarious reasons, the girl had been attacked- and didn’t deserve a sullied reputation.

  “I’ll come with ye Nelly, but... I dinna like that word, understand?”

   Nelly nodded before lowering her eyes, “Yes, me laird.”

 Finally the two of them reached the washer rooms, and Nelly opened the door.
   “Mrs. Ables? Ye called for me?” Sandor looked around the room sheets hanging from wires, blocking his view- before an old woman popped out from behind one of them.

  “Ah Sandy boy, here ye are. It’s right there on that stool, child. Best be using those reading eyes of yers.” He smiles at the woman, having known her since birth- Sandor didn’t really care how embarrassing her nicknames for him were.

   Sandor wasn’t the best of readers, his solicitor had tried to teach him- with only a little success. So he hoped he would be able to read this himself, instead of admitting defeat. 
  He grabbed the edge of the plaid and saw the embroidery, it looked fine- it was beautiful work...







Chapter Text

  Sansa fell to the floor from her seated position, feathers flying all about- Rickon laughing as he hit her with his pillow. Sansa played along, “Oh no.... my delicate head! Who will save me from Rickon the Terrible? Ahhhh-“

  Rickon let out a great roar before picking his chosen weapon up again, ready for another round of ‘Pillow Pillaging’. A game that had recently come to her- something she wasn’t sure if she was only now coming up with, or a game she had played with the boy in the past. Sansa was letting Rickon climb all over her, when suddenly the door burst open.

  “Woman, I have good news-“ Sandor came through and looked for her on the bed, knowing she was in here with the boy- yet not seeing her at first. Finally his eyes came upon the duo playing on the floor. 
  It was Rickon who came flying towards him, with a pillow in hand and a grin stretching across his face. 
  “My lord! I did not know you were coming, I apologize for the mess-“ Sandor couldn’t help the grin that came to him when he saw her sit up- feathers were sticking straight up in her hair. 

  “No, it is I who should apologize, little bird. I dinna think to knock in my haste.” Her face screwed up in confusion as she watched the giant man pick up little Rickon and toss him in the air. Little bird?  Sansa couldn't help but wonder what he meant as Rickon squealed his delight, so she asked him as much.

   “Little bird, my lord?” 
As the big man looked back down at her, there was a hint of pink- and Sansa might have thought it could have been a blush, except for how ridiculous an idea it was that he might be blushing around a girl like her. “Umm... it’s yer hair. There’s some feathers,”

   Now it was her who was blushing- except this wasn’t some small dainty blush, this was bright red to match her hair in her embarrassment. She cursed the stupid game, before trying to walk as calmly as she could to her mirror- where her embarrassment grew as she plucked the feathers out of her head. Like a freaking chicken.

   “But that’s besides the point, woman. Ye will be calling me Sandor, and we will be calling ye by yer name....” the statement at first going straight over Sansa’s head- her mind only choosing to focus on the fact that he asked her to call her by his name.

  “You wish me to call you by your Christian name?” 
  Sandor nodded his head, “Aye, I want ye and the boy to feel welcome here- as my guests,” Sansa furrowed her brow, thinking how his own people still called him ‘laird’- but figured it must be some southern guest rights that she didn’t know about.

  “Lass, you dinna hear what I had to say about yer name?” It was at that moment Sandor saw that bit of confusion leave her face, and a spark was lit behind her eyes.

  “My name? What of my name?” Rickon was wiggling to get out of Sandor’s arms by that point, wanting to keep playing as the adults talked.

  “It’s why I came runnin in here, girl. We have good news- when I found ye... there was a plaid nearby, me men figured it was yers and picked it up. I had me washerwoman clean it, and old woman found a name embroidered in the corner!” In his excitement his southern accent was more and more evident, hoping this was right.

  “Embroidered? I think... I think I can sew! Well, what is it?” She was smiling right back at him, ready to fit another piece into this puzzle that was her life.

 “Yer name is... Sansa!”
 Her smile faded just a bit- the hope that she would just recognize her own name immediately as she had with Rickon, was squashed when he said that name. “Sansa... Saaannnsssaa? I am Sansa. Hello, my name is.... Sansa?” 
  Sandor saw her excitement deflate in seconds, “Ye dinna recognize it? Do ye, girl? It’s a bonny name.” 
   Sansa saw him reach out to her with the plaid in hand, giving it to her to inspect herself.

  “No. I thought.... I thought I would just know, ya know?” She asked him, but didn't wait for answer- instead she just kept going, “Sansa.... I am- Sansa. Well- it’s better to have a name, rather than just ‘girl’ I suppose. I will be Sansa. I must be.” Her blue eyes looked up at him and he saw so much- so much that reminded him of himself.

   After he’d been burned, there were so many days he wondered why God let him live, why God would let this happen? Why did this have to happen to him? What purpose could this possibly have? 
  And Sandor saw something similar in her.... in Sansa- he saw a question, one that he had asked to no one in particular many times.


He wanted so much to give her an answer, to tell her he would avenge her, to rip the man who had done this to her to shreds- instead all he could do was reach out to her. Sandor put his hand on her shoulder, hoping she too would see that he understood.

   “I’m sorry, gir- Sansa. I will do everything in my power to see this put to rights. I’ll find yer attacker, I’ll find yer family- I won’t let this go unpunished, little bird.” And despite what she just said, about wanting to be called by her name- Sansa wasn’t too mad about being called little bird.

  So long as Sandor was the one saying it.