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First Impressions

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“Fuck!” Sansa muttered to herself and hit the steering wheel in frustration. “Shit.. I’m never late. I’m NEVER late!”

Somehow, yelling to no one in particular always helped. She was sitting in her car, at the last stoplight between herself and her son, Oliver, who was waiting for her at school. Probably on the curb, in the rain. Alone. Possibly sobbing uncontrollably. Even though the sun was shining happily above her and she knew they had designated teachers assigned to wait with the students, she couldn’t help but lean into the more dramatic side of her imagination.

What she said was true - she really had never been late to pick him up before. Today was a special circumstance because she was coming from a real estate meeting for a possible new location for her and Margaery’s business. As exciting as that was, she couldn’t really focus on that now, because the guy in the car in front of her was texting and NOT paying attention to the light.

“MOVE! Stop texting and driving! Let’s gooooo!!”

Somewhat startled at being screamed at, he lurched his car forward and made the left turn with Sansa’s car following swiftly behind. She made the prompt right turn into the school parking lot, nearly squealing her tires as she found a spot and slammed her car into park. She flung open the car door, springing from her seat, and slamming the door behind her as she sprinted to the student pick up area. She was really, really late. She ran up to the school, wincing when she saw that Oliver was the last kid left waiting.

Shit. At least it’s not really raining. and he’s not even alone.

She saw a man kneeling down, talking to Oliver, who was nodding along to whatever the man was saying.

“Oliver! Ollie, I’m here! I’m coming!” Oliver looked up when he heard her voice, smiling at her as the man turned to face her as he stood up. Gods, he’s tall. She finally arrived at her son’s side, pulling him into a hug and apologizing profusely to both him and the giant of a teacher who was waiting with him.

“I am SO incredibly sor-“

“School ended 20 minutes ago.” The towering man interrupted her apology, looking less than impressed at her time management skills.

“I know. I promise, I’ve never, ever been late before. I just had this meeting today, and it ran over even though I TOLD Margaery that I absolutely, 100% HAD to leave at one-thirty.” She was babbling, and the worst part was she knew she was babbling, but she couldn’t help it. She hated when people even remotely thought she was being a negligent mother. Even this huge, unknown teacher whom she hadn’t even gotten a good look at until now.

He stood at about 6 and a half feet, still looking at her skeptically. He had a faint scar covering almost the entire right side of his face. He was dressed in athletic gear - what looked to be a moisture wicking polo shirt with the school mascot embroidered on the left side of his huge chest (Go Direwolves!) tucked into black shorts. A school badge on a lanyard, identifying him as Sandor Clegane, Physical Education Teacher, hung around his neck.

“Mama, look! Coach Key-gane was showing me his whistle! Look, Mama!” Oliver was holding a whistle, ardently trying to shove it in Sansa’s face. “He said I can’t blow into it because it would be loud. But I could blow it softly. I told him I would be super, super soft with it. Right, Mama? I can be soft.” 

Before she could answer him, Clegane squatted down, putting himself on Oliver’s level. “I believe you, Oliver, But remember what else I said? Whistles are not only loud but they’re for..?”

Oliver’s little shoulders slumped dejectedly as he finished the sentence. “…teachers only.” He dropped the whistle into Mr. Clegane’s waiting hand.

Clegane put his hand on Oliver's head, ruffled his hair. "Thanks, Oliver." 

“You're welcome, Coach Key-gane.” Oliver mumbled. He glumly kicked his little foot and caught the edge of his shoe on a tiny rock. Just like that, a new game was born in which Oliver just had to see how far he could kick this little rock down the sidewalk, all previous disappointment completely forgotten.

Sansa pressed her lips together, trying to hide her amusement, lest her 5 year old think his anguish entertained his mother. She stuck her hand out to the man next to her, trying to fully show her appreciation to him genuinely. “Mr. Clegane, thank you so much for waiting with Oliver. I’m Sansa Stark, his mother.” The warmth she had seen briefly on his face while he talked to Oliver had cooled just slightly. He clasped her hand in his, quickly letting go so he could turn his body towards Oliver, who was running up and down the sidewalk near them.

“It’s Coach Clegane, and it’s my job. I’m the new hire here, so I share car pick up duty in the afternoons.” He bent down to pick his clipboard off the bench, putting his whistle in his pocket as his eyes scanned the list on his board. “He was my last kid so unless you need anything..?”

“Oh. Um. No, no. We’re all set. Thank you again.” She tried to beam her brightest smile at him, eager to make up for her terrible first impression. His eyes looked up at hers, a quizzical look on his face as his brows drew together. He cleared his throat and glanced down at his board again. “Have a good day, Mrs. Stark.” He began to walk back towards the entrance of the school.

“oh, y-you too! Thank you, Coach Clegane! Bye!!” Ok, it’s too much, Sansa. Like, chill. She glanced over at Mr - no, Coach Clegane, seeing if he happened to glance over his shoulder back at her.

He didn’t.

Yeah, not your best first impression there, Sans. Shake it off.

She called out to Oliver that it was time to go home, and they walked hand in hand back to her car. As Oliver regaled her with all the adventures he had at school that day, she couldn't help but go over her interaction with the Coach again.  Grey eyes. He had grey eyes, have I ever seen that color before?

Chapter Text

Sansa had just finished packing up all the supplies she needed when she heard little feet running down the hallway, towards the kitchen. 

“Today is the Bake Sale, Mama!” He was so excited, his little fists clutched under his chin and eyes wide with happiness.  His straight, dark hair was sticking up in all directions and his pajamas were all twisted from a wiggly night of sleep. 

“Yes, Baby, it is! I just put all the things we need in this bag, so we need to get you ready and get a moooove on!” She leaned down to kiss his cheek and ran her fingers through his hair in a fruitless effort to get it to lay flat. 

“Get a mooooove on, get a mooooove on!” It was the morning game they played, Move on Cows, to make the frantic mornings more fun and less stressful. She chased him, mooing like a cow, while he shrieked and ran back to his room. While she picked out his clothes, she mentally crossed off her checklist. Homemade Lemon Bars, check. Bakery bought cookies, check. Everything individually wrapped, check. It wasn’t against the rules to bring store-bought baked goods, in fact, she didn’t think the PTA at Wolfswood Elementary really cared. But she cared, so she brought one homemade thing (the one thing she was good at baking if she was honest) and then some delicious chocolate chip cookies from a local bakery. See? I’m supporting local businesses AND supporting the school with participating in the bake sale to begin with. It’s a win-win. She knew it was peculiar to justify her own actions to herself, especially when no one was saying she was in the wrong, but she couldn’t help it. Ever since her divorce from Ramsay, she had to be in control and KNOW that her feelings and actions were justified. It was something she and her therapist were working on. She started seeing Dr. Seaworth a couple of months after her divorce when she was near catatonic in depression and fear. In the beginning, she saw him every week to discuss all the trauma she went through at the hands of her ex-husband. It had taken a lot of work, and she still had things to work on, but now years later, she only saw Dr. Seaworth when she really felt the need to. Moving to a new city farther North, closer to where she grew up, but no too close to rely on her family like a crutch, seemed to help. A Fresh Start. Just me and Oliver.

After Oliver was dressed, fed, teeth brushed and everything packed in the car, they made their way to Wolfswood Elementary. The bake sale was to be set up on the front tree-lined sidewalk that led the way into the building. There were a number of other parents as well as teachers getting things ready when Sansa and Oliver pulled into the parking lot and crossed the lot towards the group. Oh, damn. That man is here, Coach Clegane. He was indeed, lifting a giant folded table from the back of a pickup truck and setting it up in the grass by the sidewalk. A blonde woman, presumedly a parent, was simpering and thanking him profusely for the help. Hopefully he won’t even notice us and I won’t have an opportunity to embarrass myself further.

“COACH KEY-GANE!” Oliver screamed so loudly it actually made Sansa jolt from the shock.

Oliver ! Good grief, you nearly gave me a heart attack. Why are you screaming like that?” Sansa reprimanded her son, but the damage was already done. Coach Clegane, finished with setting up the table, turned to face Oliver and started to walk their way. Gods. The Giant approaches. She was overly bitter even in her own opinion. Oliver was so excited he could hardly stand it. Once his little feet hit the grass, he broke away from his mom’s hand and sprinted the rest of the way to Coach Clegane.
“Hey Oliver, are you here to eat some cookies?” He gave Oliver a fist bump in greeting.

“Ha! Nooo, this is a bake SALE. You SALE the cookies, you can’t eat ‘em!” Oliver grabbed his belly in laughter and nearly doubled over, the concept of eating cookies at a Bake Sale just too hilarious. Coach Clegane’s eyes crinkled in amusement at Oliver. 

“What?!” He grabbed his chest in faux shock. “I came here to eat some cookies. I thought I was going to get to eat 47 cookies!”

“FORTY-SEVEN?! You can’t eat that many cookies! You would have a big, BIG tummy ache.” Sansa had caught up to her son at this point and ruffled his hair with her hand. “Mom, did you hear? Coach Key-gane is going to eat FORTY-SEVEN cookies!!!” He sounded so astonished, in complete disbelief at such a thought. 

“Yes, Baby, I did hear. That sounds like a lot of cookies but you know, maybe Coach Clegane can fit that many because he has a big tummy!”

Oh Gods.

She whipped her head up and looked at Clegane’s face. His eyebrows had drawn together in confusion, his head cocked to the side a bit.

“I mean, no. I meant because you’re tall. You have a big stomach because you’re big. Not fat. Obviously. You don’t have a tummy, you’re very fit.” She gestured towards his arms, which were crossed over his huge chest, sculpted and barely contained in the sleeves of another school shirt.  “But it would be fine if you were fat!” She quickly glanced at Oliver to make sure he wasn’t paying attention to this word vomit that was spewing from her mouth.

He was looking at her with rapt attention.

Shit.

“We shouldn’t even say the word ‘fat’, that’s such an ugly word. All bodies are beautiful, is what I meant. Even Coach Clegane’s!” Clegane’s eyebrows shot up, and he sputtered a cough out. He wasn’t looking at her anymore, just staring at the ground, shaking his head and pressing his lips together. Sansa’s eyes were wide with shock.

Why am I still talking? Stop talking. Now. Stop it.

“Um. So. Anyways. We’re here for the Bake sale!” She frantically lifted the bag she was carrying way too high, almost above her own head. “Gotta go sale some bakes!” She laughed uncomfortably at her own joke. “Ok, great, please excuse us.”

She grabbed Oliver’s hand and pushed past Clegane, face bright crimson from sheer mortification. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.. Did I just have a stroke? Did I just.. I don’t even know what that WAS. 

She walked alongside the tables on the lawn until she found one that was half empty, definitely enough space for her two items to be spread out. She sat down in the chair behind her space, appearing to look through her bag, and if that happened to hide her still-red face, then that was just a bonus. “Momma? Can I go play with Sam?” He looked over at the school playground where his friend was waving frantically at Oliver.

“Uhh..” Ok, It’s surrounded by a fence, lots of teachers minding the kids, I’m only at best 20 feet away.. “Yes, sure, Ollie, that sounds great.” Oliver started to shoot off towards his friend “Oh, Ollie, wait! What’s the password?” Oliver came back towards his mom and gestured for her to bend down so he could whisper the password into her ear. 

Quack like a duck.”

She couldn’t help but smile down at her son, who took their security password so seriously. “Yes, baby. Now, go play.”

She watched him shoot across the grass and head into the fenced playground area to meet up with his little friend. 

“He’s a good kid.”

“OH GOD.” Sansa jumped and put her hand to her chest as she turned to see who was next to her. Her eyes met with a man’s chest, so she looked upwards and saw Coach Clegane looking back at her, a very faint smile on his lips. 

“I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m checking with everyone to see if they need any help setting out their items.”

“Oh, right. Um. Well, I only have the two.” She tried to collect herself, clearing her throat and turning back to her bag. She bent down and retrieved her containers, popped the lids off, and started setting out the saran wrapped goods.

“What did you end up making?” He had taken a couple of steps to stand directly next to her table. Wow, quiet.

“I made the lemon bars, and I bought the cookies from a local place, Dough-Thraki.”

“Oh, I know the place. My buddy and his wife run it. Good cookies.” He fished out his wallet and pulled a dollar bill from it. “Since I know you have good taste in buying cookies, can I see how your homemade bars stack up?”

“Oh, of course!” She lifted the container still half full of her lemon bars up to him, more than eager for him to try one. Yes, here we go. I know for a fact my bars are little squares of heaven. 

She looked over at the playground to check on Oliver (safe and sound) while Clegane took one of them. She couldn’t help but watch intently as he bit into it, impatient to prove that she wasn’t a complete and total idiot. At least in this one area.

Clegane’s face was far from blissful though. After his bite, his expression turned sour. He started coughing, using his fisted hand to cover his mouth. “Gods! That’s.. Um. That’s interesting.” What?! ‘Interesting’? My bars aren’t ‘interesting’, they’re a fucking masterpiece . “Did you happen to taste them after you baked them?” He was still trying to contain his coughing. He hadn’t spit it out but she couldn’t rule out the fact that he might still.

“Um, no. I finished them this morning just as Oliver was waking up, packaged them and brought them straight here.” He held out what was left of his bar to her. She gave him a questioning look, but he motioned for her to take the bar from him. Sighing, she grabbed it and broke off a piece. The second it hit her tongue, she knew what was wrong.

Salt.

She closed her eyes in frustration, pinching the bridge of her nose between her fingers. Godsdamnit!

“I mixed the salt and sugar up.” She lifted her eyes to his face, only to see that he was amused. Amused at her complete fuck up. The corners of his mouth were turned up in a slight smile, but he might as well have been openly laughing at her for how small she felt.

“I..  I don’t even know how that happened - it’s never happened to me before, that’s for sure. My lemon bars always come out how they’re supposed to. I’ve won awards! Well, one award. In high school, I baked these for a home economics class contest and I got 1st place. Not that I’m bragging, I’m not trying to brag, I’m just saying that I know how to bake and these are not supposed to be like... like tiny yellow salt blocks!” She dropped the ruined dessert down on the table, trying to curb the tears of frustration she felt building behind her eyes.

Ruined. I can’t even sell these - so there go my efforts of trying to help the school raise money for the kids. She looked up at Clegane, ready to tell him to just - go away, can’t he see that I'm having a moment?

“You chirp.”

"Huh? I .. what?”

“You chirp. When you’re nervous, or when things don’t go how you expected.” 

She straightened her shoulders and leveled him with a glare. “Well. Excuse me for not expecting my lemon bars to come out with 5 times the necessary sodium content for the entire population of the North! Nevermind the fact that I can’t even sell these now, but I .. “ She broke off her sentence and sighed, shoulders falling in disappointment. “I - I wanted to do well. This is our first school event and Oliver was so excited. How does it make him look if his mother can’t even bring in a properly baked lemon bar?”

Clegane tiled his head to the side and half shrugged one of his shoulders. “That’s kind of a lot of pressure, for a lemon bar.”

Sansa scoffed and picked up her bag, getting ready to pack up all her things and call it a day. “You wouldn’t understand.” 

Clegane held his hands up, whether it was to placate her or to hold her off from packing up, Sansa couldn't say. “I understand. You want him to do well here.” She broke eye contact with him to look over at the playground, finding Oliver quickly amongst the other kids. She looked back at Clegane. “But Oliver is fine. The teachers and parents here, they don’t care about shit like that. They care that you show up, that you’re invested in Oliver’s happiness and his future.” 

Sansa drew her eyebrows together, confused. “Of course I’m invested in him, he’s my son.” 

Clegane’s expression darkened as he looked down at the tabletop. “Genetics doesn’t automatically mean you have your son’s best interest at heart.” He cleared his throat and whatever was plaguing him disappeared from his face. “Look. Just.. you still have the cookies, sell those. Oliver can shout at people to drum up business.” They both smiled fondly, thinking of the little boy’s exuberance for life. “As for these..” He pulled out his wallet again and lifted a $20 from the fold - more than enough to cover the cost of what her lemon bars would’ve sold for. “I’ll take them.’ 

Sansa opened her eyes wide with shock, “What! No! I can’t let you take those salt blocks - they’re horrible, awful.”  She reached out to take the container that he had picked up off the table. He lightly smacked her hand away, “Ah, I’m a paying customer.” He looked down at the container in his hand and grimaced “with a sodium deficiency, I guess.”

Sansa laughed lightly, still in shock at the turn of events her morning had taken. She watched him walk away, hands full of the truly awful dessert. She looked down at the twenty on the table, heart a little lighter about her future in this new town. 

Chapter Text

Sansa looked at her watch and moved to get out of her car. The bake sale was yesterday, and after selling out the bakery-made cookies, plus Clegane’s very generous $20, she was able to hand the PTA leader a nice hefty little sum to help the school out. Well, $46. But still. It felt good to be able to do that, to prove to everyone (and also no one, because she hadn’t even received so much as a sly side-eye since she moved to town) that she could fit in here, be part of the community. She couldn’t stop thinking about that $20 though, and how he paid for nothing, so she brought him some real lemon bars today as a thank you. 

She smiled to herself as she walked across the parking lot to pick up Oliver from school and drop off the dessert for Clegane. Today was a great day, and she was in a happy mood - not only was she NOT late in picking up Oliver, but she and Margaery might have finally found the perfect little location to open their business. Admittedly the demographic for an Embroidery and Alterations shop was small, but Sansa had the talent to back it up. Margaery definitely had the business savvy (and the shameless flirting) to get a good deal for them. It was a tiny shop downtown, wedged between a bakery and a comic book store. No more strange people coming to my house to pick up their items, no more using the spare bedroom for all my sewing things. Yes, today is a good day indeed. 

She walked up to the student pick up area and spotted her son, playing happily with a couple of friends from his class. She waved at him when he spotted her and put a finger up indicating that he could play for just a minute longer until they needed to go. Her eyes scanned the small crowd of parents picking up their kids and teachers trying to quiet the students who were all excited to go home for the day. 

Ah, there. 

Clegane was a head taller than everyone else, conveniently easy to find in a big group of people. She made her way to his side, noting that he was talking to another woman. The woman was older, maybe 70, head tossed back in mid-laugh while she lightly pushed Clegane’s arm. About as good as pushing on a brick wall, I bet. Sansa couldn’t see Clegane’s face, but apparently whatever he just said was downright hilarious because the woman was beside herself with giggling. Standing behind him and feeling awkward, she cleared her throat. “Coach Clegane?” He turned from the woman and saw Sansa, gifting her with a small smile. 

“Mrs. Stark, hello.” 

Sansa’s smile fell a bit. “Oh no, actua-”

“Well now, I had better be off.” The woman interrupted Sansa but smiled warmly at her. “You better keep your eye on this one.” She gestured to Clegane. “Nothin’ but trouble. Always tryna flirt with me so I’ll go out to dinner with him.” Sansa raised her eyebrows and looked at Clegane. 

“One of these days, Ms. Mormont, you’re going to cave and let me take you out.” 

Sansa couldn’t hold back a small laugh. 

Ms. Mormont leveled Clegane with a glare, one hand on her hip, the other pointing a finger at him. “I don’t think you even have the stamina to keep up with me, Sandor Clegane.” 

Clegane let out a gruff laugh, surprised, while Sansa lowered her jaw in shock, eyes wide. 

“Now you behave and help me find my granddaughter. LYANNA?” She shouted towards the biggest throng of students, where a young girl’s head popped up from the mass of kids. “Lyanna! You come here now, we’ve got to go.” She gave a wave over her shoulder, made sure her granddaughter was following her and shuffled her way to the parking lot. 

“You know, she’s right. I don’t think I could keep up with her - she actually terrifies me a little, if I’m honest.” 

Sansa turned back to face Clegane - she had unconsciously turned and followed Ms. Mormont’s departure - and breathed “ I love her.”  

Clegane gave a huff of laughter, “Yeah, Ms. Mormont is a riot. One day I’ll wear her down though.” 

“I wish you luck with that.” She looked up at him, smiling. “Oh! Here.” She handed out the container of lemon bars to him. Instead of taking it, he crossed his arms and bent over at the waist, eyeing the container suspiciously. 

“Oh, will you stop.” She thunked him lightly on the shoulder with the container. Yep, like a brick wall. “I tasted them before I boxed them up this time. It’s a thank you for being so nice yesterday. You didn’t have to do that and .. and it really helped. To have a friend.” 

His face softened as he took the lemon bars. He popped the lid open and pulled out a square, biting off a corner to taste test. Sansa held her breath, even though she already knew this batch was fine. 

Immediately, he closed his eyes, leaning his head back and humming in happiness. “Damn, that’s good.” 

“What’s good?” A tall woman with short blonde hair and startlingly blue eyes walked over to them. 

“Nothing that concerns you, Brienne.” His words were hostile but his eyes held some mirth as he addressed the newcomer. He also shoved the rest of the lemon bar he was eating into his mouth and closed the lid, hiding the remainder he had left.  Sansa shook her head at his antics, hiding her laughter by turning around to check on Oliver. Still safe. She waved to him but he was too busy playing, not a care in the world. 

No harm in staying to talk a bit then. New friends and all. 

She turned back to Clegane and Brienne, the former now hugging the container of lemon bars to his chest while Brienne tried to tug it free. “Honestly, he’s like a child.” Brienne huffed and rolled her eyes, relenting in her quest to steal his treasures. She was almost as tall as Clegane, although not nearly as broad. 

“I am not.” He glared at Brienne before breaking out in a smile that honestly made Sansa do a double-take. 

Oh. 

Sansa cleared her throat and crossed her arms, looking down at the ground. That was.. He has a nice smile. 

“Oh, sorry.” Sansa looked up at his words, noticing his smile had left. She felt a twinge of disappointment. “This is Brienne Tarth, she’s another PE Teacher here. Brienne, this is Mrs. Stark, Oliver’s Mom.” 

Brienne stuck her hand out, giving Sansa a firm shake. “I’m actually the assistant PE Teacher, I work 3 days a week helping Coach Clegane here.” 

Clegane rolled his eyes, not unkindly. “You’re another teacher here, the assistant part doesn’t matter. I don’t know why you’re always so focused on that.”

Brienne shrugged her shoulders. “I am what I am.”

“Ok, Popeye.” He muttered, seemingly to himself. He looked down at the container in his arms, focused on opening it just enough to sneak out another square. “Should be a bloody knight then, as much as you help me.” 

“If I’m so helpful to you, why don’t you just share a piece of whatever it is you have in that box?” Brienne held her hand out with a raised eyebrow. 

Clegane paused and looked up at Brienne, pursing his lips, furrowing his brows. He took a good 15 seconds to really think about it, then narrowed his eyes at her. 

“No.” 

Brienne lowered her hand with a laugh. Sansa laughed as well, positively beaming on the inside. Yay, he likes my baking.  

She looked back to Brienne, “I’m actually Ms. Stark. Sansa, really.” She tried not to look over at Clegane to gauge his reaction. It didn’t matter anyways, Did it? She flicked her eyes over to his face briefly, but he was still looking down at her lemon bars. See? Doesn’t matter. 

“Well it was nice to meet you Brienne, I better get Ollie home. Bye, Coach Clegane, Brienne.” They said their goodbyes to her, so she turned to go collect her son. Before she could get too far, she heard a deep voice call out “Oh, wait!” She turned to see him taking a couple of steps towards her. “Thank you for the lemon bars. Much better than the first batch.” Sansa’s cheeks pinked, a little from embarrassment over her blunder, and a little over her happiness at the reminder that he liked them so much. 

“See you tomorrow, Ms . Stark.” He took a few steps backward, turning up the corner of his mouth before finally turning his body and making his way back to Brienne’s side. 

Sansa blinked. 

Oh. 

Chapter Text

“Oliver! Oh wheeere could my little Ollie beeeee?”

Sansa stopped walking down the hallway and turned her head, ears perked and waiting for the tell-tale sign. 

Giggling. 

“Ah! I hear my little Ollie-vater!” She stomped her feet comically loud while she made her way to Oliver’s room.

Stomp, stomp, stomp. More giggling. 

She whipped open the door to his bedroom, to find a very large lump hidden under a blanket in the middle of his floor. Oh, Oliver. Never change. 

“Oh no!! I found a very lumpy spot in the middle of Oliver’s floor! Whatever should I do?”

The lump giggled. 

“Oh, I know! I’ll have to tickle it away!”

Sansa dropped to her knees and grabbed the lump with very tickly hands. 

“No, Mama!! Nooo! it’s me, it’s Oliver! I’m your son, not a LUMP!” 

“What? Oliver? How did you get here? I swear, one minute I was tickling this lump away, and the next I was holding you!” 

“Mamaaaa!” He could barely get the words out between all his giggles. “Mama, I was the lump! It was me the whole time!” 

Sansa gasped theatrically, then proceeded to smother his little face in as many kisses as possible. 

“Mama! Mama! I can’t BREAVE!” She finally let up so the poor kid could breathe. He snuggled in close to her chest as they lay in a heap on top of the blanket on the floor. 

After a moment, Sansa sighed, bracing herself. “You know, someone has a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks.”

Oliver gasped in excitement. “Who?!” He sat up and pressed his forehead to Sansa’s, little face deadly serious. “Mama.” He grabbed her face in his hands, focusing with all his might on maintaining eye contact with her. “Mama. Is it me?” 

“I feel like I’m going to be permanently stuck cross-eyed if we keep this up for much longer.” She said, in lieu of giving him an answer. It was more fun to drag out his torment this way. 

“Mooooooom!!” 

“Yes?”

“Is it my birthday next week?”

“Yes.” 

“Ahhhhh!!!!!”

Oliver sprung up from their little nest, running around his room in sheer joy. Sansa laid on her side, head propped up in her hand. He has a happy life. That’s all I wanted for him. 

She sat up and tried to get Oliver’s attention. “Alright, hey! We need to plan a few things so, hey, hey. Settle. Let’s stand here and take a deep breath, ok?” She knelt on her knees so they were more-or-less face to face, and they held hands while taking in a deep breath together. She held it for a few seconds, then let it go and Oliver followed along. “Ok, now we can talk. Can you please go get a piece of paper and a pencil and bring it back?” 

“Ma’am, yes ma’am!” He saluted like a tiny soldier, accepting the most dangerous of missions, and ran off to fulfill his duty. Back in a flash, they settled down in the nest while Sansa grabbed a hardcover book from his bookshelf to write on. 

The Stark family tradition was usually a big, huge birthday party. Her parents would spend hundreds on having an elaborate location, perfect decorations, big unnecessary forms of entertainment, food that would provide leftovers for days. Ever since Sansa had Oliver though, she wanted to take a more reasonable approach. Their tradition was to have a gathering at the house, in the backyard. Since he was born in September, they usually could bust out the kiddie pool and sprinkler to entertain the kids. A cake (made my Sansa) with decorations (also made by Sansa) and some snacks, it was simple and it was theirs.  

“Ok, so. What would you like the theme to be?”

“Direwolves” Of course. They’re his favorite animal.

“And what kind of food would you like?”

“Sammiches. Mac n’ cheese, some grapes. And a yogurt.” Ok, we can embellish on that a bit. 

“Alright, now who would you want to invite?”

“SAM!” Sansa nodded her head. He was expected. 

“Flynn. Rhaego. Arwaya, Aemon..” Ok so basically his entire class. Yikes, that’s a lot. 

“And Grandpa and Grandma. And Uncle Jon. and Aunt Ygritte. Aunt Arya. Uncle Bran, Uncle Rickon, Uncle Robb and Aunt Myrcella. And little baby cousin Dacey.” Sansa nodded along, all of these names expected. 

Oliver gave a big sigh, obviously making this list was very exhausting “aaaaand Missus Reed. Coach Key-gane. Coach Brienne. Missus Frey” Wait, what? 

“Wait, Ollie, those are teachers. You want to invite your teachers to your party?”

“Well, yeah. They’re my bestest friends, Mom” He looked at her like she was the one who was bonkers. 

“Uh, well, honey. I’m not sure if teachers can come to birthday parties.” His little face was stricken and he took a big breath, ready to launch into an immediate rebuttal. “Wait, waaait. Just breathe. I will invite them, of course, but I want you to be prepared just in case they can’t come, ok?” He let out the giant puff of air that he had held in, his little face screwed into a look of determination. 

“Ok, Mama.” 

She kissed him on his head, so proud of his maturity for such a little thing. He hopped up, off to play with his toys while she sat in their nest, thinking. 

Why am I so excited to invite Coach Clegane to this party? 

- - - - - - - - - - 

Sansa looked in the mirror on the back of her sun visor, smoothing her hair down and checking that her chapstick was in order. 

My chapstick? Honestly. 

She rolled her eyes at herself, flipping up the visor and sagging back into the driver’s seat. 

I need to get a grip, is what I need to do. 

Her head lolled to the side, bored. The meeting with the realtor went really well today, they put in an offer for the downtown space and were waiting to hear back. Because everything went so smoothly, that left Sansa with about an hour to kill before Oliver’s school ended. Normally she would relish that free time - read some of her book (a new murder mystery from her favorite author, T. Lannister, The Purple Wedding) Try as she might, she just couldn’t care about who murdered Prince Jack, and she knew exactly why. 

Coach Clegane. 

He had her all .. confused. He was nice to her, but he seemed to get along with a lot of people from the school, so that wasn’t a good indicator. 

An indicator of what? Do you want an indicator?  

That was the other thing. She hadn’t wanted an indicator from anyone since her marriage ended. 

She glanced at the clock on her dashboard. Ugh, 15 more minutes. 

She dropped her head in her hands, running her fingers through her hair, then panicking slightly because she had just smoothed it all down. 

Ok, enough! Get a grip. What has Dr. Seaworth said in the past? List the things that you know to be true. Ok - 

Number 1. Clegane is friendly towards me. We’re .. we’re building a friendship. Ok. 

Number 2. Do I have enough information to decide if I want that friendship to become something more? No. I don’t know if he’s even interested - and I don’t even know if I’m interested. 

Number 3. Do I think Clegane has a smile that has ignited something deep down that I thought was buried, never to see the light of day again??  … yes. 

Number 4. Also, he has nice arms. I don’t know the exact relation of this observation to the rest of these but... I just feel like it should be noted. 

Sansa closed her eyes and took a deep breath, tilting her head back to rest against the headrest.

Ok so, for now, I am happy with ju- OH GODS!!

Someone had knocked on her window loudly, startling her out of her mental meeting with herself. She looked up to see Clegane’s face looking back at her through the window, a small smirk on his face.  She huffed a sigh, gave him a small closed mouth smile, and opened the door. (While subtly smoothing her hair one last time, just to be sure.) 

“I thought you might’ve fallen asleep.” He was standing with his arms crossed, pinning a clipboard to his chest - the picture of a good samaritan. But then she noticed his lip twitched.   

She pushed his arms with one hand, although it didn’t do anything because he didn’t move an inch. “You big liar! You knew damn well I wasn’t asleep. You just wanted to scare the livin’ daylights out of me!”

He tried to hold his faux-stern look for as long as possible, but his lip twitched again and his facade cracked a little bit more. 

“‘Livin Daylights’? My, my, I didn’t know we had ourselves a southern belle.” He looked in her eyes and she could begin to recognize the mirth there, the same look he gave Brienne when he was teasing her. 

Sansa huffed a breath and tucked some hair behind her ear. “I uh, I spent some time down south.” She cleared her throat and looked at the trees next to the parking lot. “Some of the phrases they use... they’re pretty catchy.” 

He only hmmed at that, the sound coming deep from his chest. He tilted his head and looked at her, a little of the laughter disappearing from his eyes. Before it could get awkward, Sansa spoke up. “So what are you doing out here? Shouldn’t you be inside, hurling dodgeballs at the children?” 

He uncrossed his arms, clipboard in one hand, pointing a finger with the other for emphasis. “Hey, that’s an act of self-defense. Those little goblins team up on me every time - I’m lucky if I walk away without limping after a game of dodgeball.” She looked up at him and the amusement was back in his expression. She smiled. Ok, fine. I’m interested. 

He smiled back, faintly. “I don’t have a class during the last 30 minutes of the day, so I come out here and get ready for pick up duty.” He gestured to her car. “Good thing, too. I basically saved your life. Don’t you know you’re not supposed to sleep in a hot car, Ms. Stark?” 

“Sansa.” She cleared her throat. “It’s Sansa. You can um, you might as well call me. Uh, Call me that, I mean.” oh, Gods. She closed her eyes, crinkling her nose and trying to force the embarrassment down so she wouldn’t blush. When she opened her eyes again, Clegane was just watching her, one corner of his mouth turned up, eyes observant but not asking anything of her, or judging. It was nice. 

“Would you like it if I did?” His voice was deep, and his eyes a little sharper than before. 

“Hmm?” Her heart beat wildly in her chest. She didn’t want to assume anything. He would need to spell it out - she was done making a fool of herself for today. Well, probably done. 

He huffed a laugh and shifted his weight on his feet. He squared his shoulders and took a breath, trying again  - “Would you like it if I called you?” 

Sansa’s face beamed. Trying to contain it would be useless, so she hit him full force with a smile so he could see how happy he made her. His own face broke out in a smile, similar to the one she saw yesterday that lit up his whole face. 

There it is. 

He reached in his back pocket and pulled out his phone, handing it to her. “Technically you didn’t answer, but I’ll take a leap of faith that you would be ok if I called you?” 

She laughed, huffing out a yes, of course, while she swiped on his screen to unlock his phone.

Hmm, he keeps it unlocked. Cute dog in the background, too. 

Stranger

She quickly put her number into his phone and handed it back to him. He looked at the screen, typed a few things, and her phone inside her car dinged. 

“Oh. I’ll just..” She turned and reached into her car, found her phone and pulled up her new text message

1+(726)377-2672 [1:47pm] - You can call me Sandor. 

 

Chapter Text

They texted back and forth over the next week. Sansa felt an undercurrent of excitement every time her phone dinged, displaying his name. It was mostly get-to-know-you things, nothing too deep or personal. Sandor seemed like a really good guy, a good person in general. She learned his dog’s name was Stranger, a rescue he adopted from the local pound. He liked action movies, spoke very minimal (and terrible, he said) Dothraki. His favorite food was Pentoshi style noodles, (She favored Honeyed chicken). He had 3 tattoos (she had none, but was admittedly curious about the process) and he had read every book in the Star Wars Saga. (She had called him a huge nerd for this, but also found it incredibly attractive.) 

Her phone dinged, breaking her reverie. It was the weekend before the birthday party, she and Oliver were at the park so he could run his energy out on the playground. 

Playground

Sansa was sketching some possible embroidery designs for a client from her Etsy shop, laid out on a blanket in the grassy area next to the playground, enjoying the sun on her skin. She looked over at her phone and saw Sandor’s name and smiled, picking it up. 

Sandor [11:32am] - I think I found the perfect gift for Oliver

Her smile got even bigger, remembering how he reacted when she told him about the party. 

- - - 

They had just exchanged phone numbers, Sansa biting her lip and smiling as she programmed his name into her phone while they walked over to the pick up area. 

Ugh, I hope I’m not misjudging this. 

She finished with her phone and slid it into her pocket, chancing a glance over to Sandor’s face. He caught her eye and the corner of his mouth turned up. 

No... I don’t think I am. 

She blushed and cleared her throat, feeling butterflies in her stomach while her eyes were drawn to the benches, the trees, the other parents waiting for their children. She was trying to avoid eye contact until her blush cleared away, but she could feel his eyes on her. 

“Oh! Um. Before I forget, Oliver’s birthday is two weekends from now, we were just compiling his guest list and he mentioned he wanted you to come.” She tucked some hair behind her ear, weirdly nervous. “I don’t know if there’s some policy - or something. Uh, I told him you probably wouldn’t be able to come, so. Don’t feel obligated.”  

He blew out a small laugh, “No, there’s no policy. And I don’t feel obligated - I’d love to come.” 

Relief swept through her at his words. 

He scanned his eyes down his clipboard, making marks by certain names. “Yeah, I think it’s great to try and make it to any of my kids’ events. I like for them to see that I’m a real person, you know, not some robot who only lives and breathes at the school.”

Oh. 

“Oh, right. Yes, I um, I like that you think so highly of your students.” Her face had fallen a bit, although she did genuinely like how much he seemed to care for the kids he was in charge of. She turned to look at the trees again, trying to not let her disappointment show. 

His hand lightly touched her forearm, bringing her attention back to him - her skin burned where his fingers made contact. His head was cocked to the side, eyebrows furrowed. He took a minute before answering her. 

“I do love my students, I like being there to support them when they have a birthday or sporting event they invite me to.” He took his hand off her arm, placed it back on his clipboard instead. She felt the loss immediately. 

“But I will admit, I’m excited about this birthday for more selfish reasons, as well.” 

- - - 

Sansa shook her head at herself, aware that she was the type of person who sometimes needed things spelled out for her. When someone was straight-forward and honest, that’s when she felt most confident in herself and her actions. 

So far, Sandor seemed to pick up on that pretty keenly. 

Her phone dinged again, this time he sent a link which she clicked on, then gasped in horror. 

Megaphone

...He wouldn’t DARE. 

Sansa [11:37am] - I will uninvite you. 😡

Sandor [11:39am] - can’t do that, birthday boy would riot

Sansa grinned, he had her there. Ever since Oliver found out Sandor was coming, he was beside himself with joy. Some of his other teachers couldn’t make it, but Coach Brienne was on the list of expected guests as well. 

Sandor [11:43am] - What are you two getting into today

Sansa looked up, eyes searching for Oliver on the playground. She found him easily, running and playing with some other neighborhood kids. She loved this park, it was only 3 blocks from her house and mostly surrounded by trees and houses. She pursed her lips, wondering if she should take the chance and invite him. Only one way to find out. She took a fortifying breath before sending her next text. 

Sansa [11:44am] - We’re over at Cerwyn Park. Want to come watch Oliver run around like a madman with me?

She held her breath, willing her phone to ding with his response. 

Sandor [11:45am] - I’m at a soccer game for one of my students 

Oh. Shoot. 

Sandor [11:45am] - but it’ll end at noon, will you still be there

Oh. Yay! 

She clutched the phone to her chest, trying to hold in a squeal of happiness. Sandor was coming! Here! She tried to calm herself down enough to reply. 

Sansa [11:45am] - Yes! 

- - - - - - - - - - 

35 minutes later, Sansa heard the rumble of a truck pull in behind her, parking in a spot along the street. She was laying on her stomach, sketching, watching Oliver play. She looked over her shoulder to see if it was Sandor. 

The door of a huge pickup truck was open, with a booted foot stepping onto the curb. Her eyes followed up the length of his body as he closed the door and headed towards her. He was wearing jeans, perfectly worn-in, and a plain dark blue t-shirt slightly stretched across his chest. His hair, normally up in a man bun while at school, was down and around his shoulders. He was wearing sunglasses and by the time Sansa made it up to his face, he was smirking at her blatantly checking him out. She snapped her eyes back to her notebook, blinking repeatedly in an effort to center herself. 

Gods. Fuck! It should be a sin to look that good in a plain shirt and some jeans. 

She sat up and crossed her legs, smoothing her hand down the front of her tank top. Her legs were covered in a pair of black leggings, feet bare, sandals placed on the grass next to her. She smiled timidly at him while he approached the blanket. He had a plastic bag in one hand full of take-out containers, the other had a couple of water bottles.  She hadn’t even noticed he was carrying anything at all until now. 

“Hi.” She said simply. 

“Hi.”

He smiled at her, a small one, but it reached his eyes as he pushed his sunglasses up on top of his head. She returned his smile, both of them staring and smiling like idiots. 

She gathered herself enough to realize he was just standing there on the side of the blanket with his hands full. 

“Oh!” She collected her sketching materials, closing her notebook and moving her pencils aside. “Would you like to sit?” 

He nodded, setting the bags on the blanket. He kept his boots on the grass, but laid out on his side, nearly spanning the entire blanket, facing her. He propped himself up on his elbow and started taking the containers out of the bag. Sansa smiled, enjoying her view as she watched him unpack all the food. Her expression turned into a look of surprise though, mouth agape, when she realized he had unpacked 8 or 9 containers, varying in size. 

She let out a startled laugh, “Wow, did you leave any food left at the restaurant?” 

He pursed his lips and surveyed the spread carefully.  “Hmm.. I left behind the curry chicken..?” He screwed up his face and stuck his tongue out in disgust, shivering. He opened one of the large containers - honeyed chicken - and set it down in front of her, along with a packet of silverware. He placed one of the waters in front of her as well, then opened the rest of the containers, setting a large box of Pentoshi noodles in front of himself. He opened a set of chopsticks and leaned back to begin eating. 

He remembered my favorite. 

“You brought me honeyed chicken?” She looked over at him, amazed. 

He looked at her, paused in mid-bite - then gestured towards the rest of the food. He huffed a laugh. “What, you think this is all for me?” She saw 2 small boxes of white rice, a bowl of seasoned black beans, 3 pieces of brown bread, 2 little boxes of sliced beef, his box of noodles and her chicken. 

She let out a little laugh, “Well, I - I don’t know. Maybe you eat a lot.”

He hummed. “Oh yes, need to fill up that big stomach of mine.” He punctuated this by taking a bite of noodles, eyes full of mirth as he looked at her. 

“Oh Gods.. no! You can NOT bring that up!” She leaned over and pushed him on the shoulder with one hand, covering her face with the other. “SO embarrassing!” 

He let out a laugh then, face raised to the sky, eyes closed in amusement. She looked over at him then, fascinated by how happy he looked. 

He’s beautiful. 

His eyes were alight when he looked at her again. “I swear, I’ve never heard someone talk that fast in my life. You were chirping, like a little bird.”

“Oh, a little bird, huh?” She reached forward, bringing the honeyed chicken closer to her lap. He was almost halfway through his noodles. See, you do eat a lot. 

Unwrapping her silverware, she tilted her head to the side, as if in deep thought. “I’m trying to decide if that’s a good thing or bad..” She took her fork and pierced a piece of chicken, bringing it to her mouth, closing her eyes to savor the flavor. She hummed in delight, opening her eyes and catching Sandor watching her face. His eyes moved over her eyebrows, down her cheek, across her lips and down her neck to her collarbone. It didn’t feel lascivious or dirty - but it ignited a spark deep in her belly all the same. His gaze drifted back up to her eyes, the look she found there causing the spark to curl a bit tighter with an emotion she hadn’t felt in a long time. 

No, I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything like that. 

He cleared his throat and swallowed, looking down at his near-empty box of noodles, using his chopsticks to shift the contents around a bit. “It’s a good thing, Little Bird.” He looked up and gave her a half-smile. “A very good thing.” 

She blushed, pleased. “I thi-”

“COACH KEY-GAAAAAANE!!!!” Sansa and Sandor both turned their heads towards Oliver, who was running at them full speed, as fast as his little legs could go. 

Sansa warned Sandor, “Oh Gods, brace yourself.” 

He had already set his container of noodles down on the blanket by the time Sansa issued her warning. He sat up and got his legs under him, kneeling with one knee to the ground, ready for impact. 

Oliver launched his body at Sandor, engulfing the man in his arms as best as possible. He leaned backwards and looked Sandor in the eyes. “Wait. This is not the school! What are you DOING here?” 

Sansa was instantly stricken - wait, wait! He doesn’t know anything about .. whatever this is becoming! Fuck!

Sandor flicked his eyes up at Sansa quickly, then back down at Oliver. 

“Well,” He cleared his throat and shifted his weight a bit. “I had a very strong urge to go down a slide.” 

Sansa, relieved, hid her laugh behind her hand, watching as Oliver’s eyes widened with amazement. “What! There are slides RIGHT HERE. I can show them to you!” He grabbed Sandor’s hand and pulled, trying in vain to tug the big man towards the playground. 

“Wait, wait.” He pulled lightly on Oliver’s hand, bringing the boy back around to face him. He held on to Oliver’s hand gently while he continued to speak.  “You know the first rule of good slide technique, don’t you?” Oliver shook his head, eyes rapt on Sandor’s face.  Sandor pulled on Oliver’s hand again, bringing the boy’s face closer. Sandor leaned in, as if sharing a secret with him. “ You have to eat some lunch. ” 

Oliver’s face scrunched up in confusion. “What?” 

Sandor nodded his head solemnly.  “No, it’s true. The more you eat, the faster you slide down the slide because you weigh more, because your belly is full. It’s physics.” He shrugged a shoulder, as if everyone knew this to be true.

“Look, Ollie,” Sansa gestured to all the food laid out on the blanket. “Coach Clegane brought some lunch for us, would you like some?” 

“YES! I need to go super fast!!” He came over to the blanket quickly, sitting cross-legged next to Sansa as she set one of the containers of rice in front of him. She placed a few pieces of beef in Oliver’s container as well and he began to eat. 

“What do we say to Coach Clegane, for bringing all this food for us?” Sansa prompted her son. 

“Fank oo -” He began with his mouth full. 

“Ah - Oliver .” She leveled him with the patented ‘Mom glare’.  He gave her a sheepish smile, chewing his food quickly, tilting his little head side to side as if the motion would help him swallow faster. 

Mouth finally all clear, he looked over at Sandor. “Thank you Coach Key-gane for the food. I like the rice the most.” Obligatory manners out of the way, he shoved an entire forkful of rice into his mouth. 

Sansa laughed and rolled her eyes kindly at her son’s antics. She looked over at Sandor, who had laid out again on her other side and resumed finishing up his noodles. He used his chopsticks to grab a couple pieces of beef from the communal container, bringing it back to his bowl.

“Yes, thank you, Coach Clegane .” Her eyes crinkled as she smiled, amused at having to follow formality for the sake of her son. “You really didn’t have to bring us lunch, that was nice.”  

Sandor swallowed his mouthful of food, shrugged his shoulders as he cleared his throat to speak. “My favorite noodle place is right around the corner from here. Plus, it was lunchtime. I figured you two might be getting hungry.” 

She smiled at his thoughtfulness. “Thank you also for your um.. discretion. With Oliver.” She looked over at her son, who was pretending his fork full of meat was an airplane. “We need passengers!!” Oliver exclaimed as he placed a couple black beans precariously on top of the meat airplane. She smiled fondly at him, then looked back at Sandor. He was watching Oliver play, too. 

“I haven’t um.. told him anything about what’s going on. If there even is anything going here, obviously.” Her cheeks pinked as she tucked some hair behind her ear, looking down at the blanket. “I haven’t actually had a reason to tell him anything. About anyone.” She took a bolstering breath. “It’s always been just us.” 

Sandor had been watching her speak, putting his chopsticks down so he could focus on what she was saying. “I understand.” He said, after a moment to think. “I’ll follow your lead - whatever you want to say, or not say, I’ll abide by.” He glanced over at Oliver, who was now loading black bean passengers on top of a piece of bread. Sandor turned back towards Sansa. 

“But, just so you know. I think there’s something going on here. If you would like there to be.” 

Sansa could feel her face heat up, pleased to hear exactly where his thoughts were at. She looked at her son, back at Sandor. 

He’s a good man. He’s patient and kind with me, with Oliver too. 

Her eyes roamed over his muscled shoulders, down his arms to his hands. 

He’s strong. If he got angry over something.. could I trust him not to hurt us?

She brought her eyes back up to his face. He had a very faint, large scar over the right half of it. She had noticed it in the past but it didn’t tarnish his appeal to her - she was no stranger to scars. He was watching her as she looked him over, just waiting - giving her the time she needed to really think about her decision. 

But Sandor is so different from Ramsay. I can feel it. 

“Yes, I would like there to be.” She smiled easily at him. 

He moved one of his hands towards her, laying it flat on the blanket, palm facing up. She reached down and squeezed it, briefly, and he squeezed hers in return. He had his lip between his teeth, one side of his mouth turned up in a crooked smile. 

“Mama, look. I finished my rice and my meat and my bread and my beans.” He swiveled his head over to Coach Clegane. “Is that enough to make the biz-icks work?” 

Sansa huffed a laugh, squeezing Sandor’s hand once more before letting go. She leaned over to ruffle Oliver’s hair. “It’s physics , baby. With an ‘F’ sound. Can you say it?” 

“Fiz-icks?” He looked at her questioningly. When she nodded her head at him, he looked over to Sandor again. “Mama said it was enough for the fiz-icks Coach Key-gane! We can go plaaaaaay!” He shot up to his feet, waiting for Sandor to do the same. 

Sandor set the chopsticks and food down, wiping his palms off on his jeans as he stood up. “I guess that’s my cue.” He grabbed a hair tie that was around his wrist, putting his hair up in a bun with practiced ease. 

She laughed, putting her own food down, reclining back on her hand. “I don’t envy you at all, crawling through those tubes totally murdered my knees last time.” 

He had a gleam in his eye, smirking as he looked over to Oliver. “Did you hear that Oliver? Your mom thinks we’re just going to leave her here all by herself while we play. That wouldn’t be very kind, would it? 

“No, Mom! We can’t just make you lonely! You have to come play with us so you’ll be happy!” 

She narrowed her eyes at Sandor, who had the audacity to wink at her. 

Oh, it is so on.

Chapter Text

Monday, Sept 11th  

Sandor [4:39pm] - I can’t feel my knees

Sansa [4:42pm] - 😂😂😂 

Sansa [4:42pm] - You can’t blame that on me. 

Sandor [4:44pm] - I can and I will 

Sansa [4:47pm] - You’re active with kids all day, how are you even sore right now? 

Sandor [4:49pm] - playing with O wasn’t the issue 

Sandor [4:49pm] - it was the murder tubes

Sansa [4:53pm] - You poor thing. Should I write to the mayor and request that all playground tubes be removed just for you??

Sandor [4:56pm] - yes actually

Sandor [4:56pm] - also have him raise the doorways

Sansa [4:59pm] - ????

Sandor [5:02pm] - what im tired of ducking

Sansa [5:04pm] - Sandor 😂😂😂 

 

Tuesday, Sept 12th

Sansa [3:13pm] - Guess who is an official business owner!!!!

Sansa [3:13pm] - 

 

Sandor [3:18pm] - 

 

Sandor [3:18pm] - that’s amazing

Sandor [3:18pm] - you go glen coco

Sansa [3:22pm] - Wait. Did you just reference Mean Girls??

Sandor [3:24pm] - i watched it for research

Sandor [3:24pm] -  i take my job as an educator seriously

Sansa [3:26pm] - Oh, really? What did you learn from it, oh wise educator?

Sandor [3:28pm] - that butter is a carb

Sansa [3:29pm] - Sandor, no. 😂 

Sandor [3:31pm] - and that I have a thing for redheads 

Sansa [3:32pm] - 😍😍😍

 

Wednesday, Sept 13th

Sandor [7:06pm] - when does your business open up 

Sansa [7:10pm] - Umm.. I’m not sure? We need to fix up a couple things first. 

Sandor [7:11pm] - like what 

Sansa [7:12pm] - Well, we’re thinking we want a type of shiplap wall up. Plus like paint and stuff. 

Sandor [7:15pm] - like this 

Sandor [7:15pm] - 

 

Sansa [7:17pm] - Yes! We just have to find someone to help us do it first. 

Sandor [7:18pm] - i can do it if you want 

Sansa [7:19pm] - You know how to do something like that??

Sandor [7:21pm] - sure

Sandor [7:21pm] - I remodeled my place a bit when I moved in so i have all the tools you would need for it

Sansa [7:22pm] - Sandor! 😍 That’s so amazing!! We would obviously pay you for your time and work. 

Sandor [7:23pm] - no little bird 

Sansa [7:24pm] - Omg Sandor, we absolutely have to!

Sandor [7:25pm] - little bird 

Sansa [7:26pm] - Sandor. 

Sandor [7:26pm] - little bird 

Sansa [7:27pm] - Sandor!!

Sansa [7:29pm] - Sandor. No. 

Sansa [7:35pm] - Fine! It may not be in money but I WILL find a way to pay you back as a thank you! 🙏 😍

Sandor [7:35pm] - i can think of a few ways 

Sansa [7:36pm] - Sandor!! 



Thursday, Sept 14th  

Sandor [2:57pm] - how does O do with dogs

Sansa [2:58pm] - He loves them! 

Sandor [3:01pm] - 

 

Sandor [3:01pm] - someone wants to go to the dog park, want to come

Sansa [3:02pm] - Yes! When are you going? 

Sandor [3:03pm] - we’re headed there now, the place over by blackwater brews on 7th

Sansa [3:04pm] - Give me like 15 mins to pack some snacks for Ollie and then we’ll meet you there?? 

Sandor [3:05pm]- see you there 

Sansa [3:05pm] - 😍

Sandor [3:09pm] - 😊

 

Friday, Sept 15th  

Sansa [9:23pm] - I hate everything right now. 

Sansa [9:23pm] - 

 

Sandor [9:24pm] - what am i looking at 

Sansa [9:24pm] - That’s supposed to be what holds up Oliver’s decorations for tomorrow. 

Sansa [9:24pm] - I can’t get it untangled. 

Sandor [9:25pm] - do you need help

Sansa [9:25pm] - My whole family is here to help, they came into town today to hang out with Oliver. 

Sansa [9:26pm] - They have to leave right after the party ends for some big football game. My dad and sister have fancy tickets or something. 

Sandor [9:27pm] - oh yeah southern suns vs bear island 

Sansa [9:27pm] - Omg no 😨

Sansa [9:28pm] - Please don’t tell me that you’re some huge sports guy. 

Sandor [9:28pm] - I’m a huge guy in general 

Sansa [9:29pm] - Sandor! This is serious! 

Sandor [9:29pm] - why little bird

Sansa [9:31pm] - Because! I spent my entire childhood surrounded by all these sports nuts and I hated it and now my boyfriend is some big sports fan and I’ll be stuck watching football games every sunday and monday night!!! 

Sandor [9:31pm] - boyfriend huh

Sansa [9:33pm] - Um.. yes? 

Sandor [9:33pm] - Yes. 

Chapter Text

Sansa stood in her living room, surveying all the people around her. Her house was chaotic - birthday party preparations were happening and everyone was helping. She ran through her mental checklist - 

  Ok. Dad, Bran and Rickon are all outside with Ollie to distract him and keep him out of my hair, check. 

Mom and Myrcella are finishing up all the food in the kitchen, almost time to put stuff out on the table for the guests, check. 

Arya is.. somewhere. I don’t know where - that can’t be good. We’ll circle back to her in a minute, check. 

Jon, Ygritte, Robb, and Baby Dacey are setting up the yard games in the back for everyone, check. 

Cake is baked, iced and waiting on top of the dryer in the laundry room so Ollie doesn’t see it, check. 

Presents are all out on the table in the backyard, Mom and Dad bought way too much per usual, check. 

Still no idea where Arya is, check. 

Decorations are up - oh! Super secret pinata that Ollie doesn’t know about. Hmm. I need to hang up that rope on that tree in the back for it. Maybe ask Sandor when he gets here? Check. 

She let out a deep breath. Time for a party. 

- - - 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kid happier.” Sandor was standing next to Sansa in her backyard, both watching her sweet, beautiful son gleefully whack the crap out of a direwolf-shaped pinata with a plastic baseball bat.  

Sansa laughed. “No, I think you’re right. He’s in heaven.” She looked at Sandor and bumped her shoulder against his arm. “Thank you for helping me figure out how to hang it up.”  

He looked at her and leaned to the side so his arm bumped her shoulder this time. “Of course.” They exchanged smiles, happy to just have a moment to share together - there hadn’t been very many since Sansa was on hosting duty. The party was winding down, only the birthday cake left to do after the pinata was busted open. There had been a pretty good turn out - 6 kids had shown up from Oliver’s class, plus a few from the neighborhood. Oliver was thrilled to have all of his ‘bestest friends ever!’ all in one place.

“Actually, we really owe it all to Drogo since he was the one who lifted me up to tie it. I didn’t even realize his and Dany’s son was in Oliver’s homeroom.” 

Sansa turned fully to Sandor and put her hand on his arm, face cheerful. “Oh my gods , I thought I was going to absolutely die of laughter watching you on his shoulders trying to tie that rope up. I still can’t even really believe he was able to lift you.” 

“Well, he probably works out, I would guess.” Sandor deadpanned. He raised his drink to his lips to try and cover the smile that was beginning to take shape. 

Sansa smiled and shook her head at him, turning back to the pinata to see how it was progressing. Oliver’s turn was over and he was handing the bat to the next kid in line, Rhaego. 

Drogo cheered his son from the sidelines where all the parents had huddled so the kids could have room to swing. “ Sek rizh! Hake yeri athhajar!” His fist was raised in the air, eyebrows furrowed as he focused on his son. A couple of parents widened their eyes and shuffled away from him. 

Sandor chuckled and called out across the yard to Drogo. “ Jini vo jin athvilajerar , Rambo!” 

Drogo laughed, rolling his eyes as he dismissed Sandor with a wave of his hand. Dany appeared from behind Drogo, eyes ablaze as she clenched her fist, taking a step towards her son and screaming “ GENDE ME ZOHHE!!!” 

Drogo barked out a laugh, his head thrown back. He looked down at Dany, she smiled sweetly in return as he ran his hand over her hair, brushing a piece out of her face that had come loose from her braid. They both looked towards their son, who had begun smacking the pinata as Sansa turned to Sandor with wide eyes. 

He huffed a laugh and translated what they had said. “Drogo wants his son to show his strength, fight like a warrior. I told him this isn’t a battle, which Dany didn’t agree with. She told Rhaego to rip it down.” 

Sansa wrinkled her nose at the violence of it all, although she had to admit the family as a whole seemed sweet. Just… maybe in their own way. Drogo and Dany cheered again at Rhaego, who had just landed a clean hit on the neck of the Direwolf. The pinata started to crack - it wouldn’t be much longer now.

I better go get the cake ready to bring out. 

She turned to Sandor again. “I need to go get his cake ready but umm.. before I forget, I was wondering if maybe you were free to stay after the party and hang out at the house? Oliver will likely crash early after all this excitement and I kind of wanted to tell you a few things. About my past.” She winced at her own explanation. “I - I just mean, there are things I want you to know. About me. And Oliver. You should really know some stuff before we take this any furth-” 

“Little bird.” He put his hand on her shoulder, letting it fall down her arm until he had her hand in his. She squeezed, thankful for his comfort. “Go get Ollie’s cake, I’ll stay after the party.” 

- - -

“And THEN Sam- ” Oliver’s laughter interrupted his own story. He couldn’t stop enough to speak. “He - he tried to throw the horseshoe but it flew BACKWARDS , Mama!! He was supposed to throw it in front but it went in the back instead! It was so funny!” He cackled, smacking his little hand on his forehead in disbelief as Sansa tucked his blankets around him, putting him to bed for the night. 

“Yes, I saw that! It was pretty funny. I liked that you helped him find the horseshoe after he realized what he did, baby. That was so kind. What else did you like about today?” She laid down next to him on her side, sharing his pillow while running her fingers through his hair as he told her about his day. 

“I liked my cake! It was so chocolatey and so a-licious! And my presents!!!” He reached down and grabbed the toy whistle that was hanging from a cord around his neck. “Coach Key-gane gave me my own whistle, Mama, look!” 

She laughed at his excitement, “Yes, I know! May I see it?” Oliver nodded, pulling the cord up over his head and handing the whistle to his mom. Sansa ran her hands over it, inspecting. She had glared at Sandor when Oliver unwrapped it earlier today, but Sandor had only laughed and assured her it wouldn’t make a shrill sound like a real whistle. He was right, it only made a faint blowing sound - Oliver loved it. “How about we put it on your side table right here for safekeeping? That way when you wake up in the morning, it’ll be right here so you can find it.” 

Oliver thought over her suggestion, shrugging a shoulder and nodding his agreement while burrowing down deeper into his blankets. She leaned over to place the whistle on his table then turned back to face him. His eyes were closed, mouth gaping open as he snored very faintly. 

Sweet Oliver. 

She huffed a laugh, brushing her fingers over his hair one more time before getting up, turning out his light and shutting his door behind her. She leaned back against the door, head thunking lightly as dread curled in her stomach. 

I don’t want to talk about this. 

She was worried about a lot of things - she didn’t want Sandor to pity her or look at her differently. She didn’t know what his reaction was going to be. She was afraid it would change things between them - not that Sandor would blame her for what happened but.. what if he couldn’t see past Oliver’s conception? What if he didn’t try to understand where she was coming from or try and see why she made the decisions she felt she had to? 

Stop procrastinating and just go out there. Give him the chance to decide for himself. 

She took a deep breath, pushing herself off Ollie’s door and heading back towards the living room. Sandor was sitting on the couch, waiting, scrolling through his phone. As soon as he noticed her coming, he turned the screen off and placed it on the coffee table, looking up at her. 

After a moment, she moved, coming over and picking up a pillow from the couch, wedging it against the arm. She sat down with her back against it, her legs stretched across the couch, her bare feet almost touching his thigh. He thought for a second, then grabbed his own pillow, situating himself so he mirrored her, their legs intertwined between them. She rubbed the back of her neck, feeling awkward, trying in vain to rub away the tension she felt building there. Sandor reached a hand out, grabbing her foot lightly, bringing it back towards his lap. He applied some pressure to her arch and she couldn’t help but let out a little sigh, dropping her hand into her lap, sinking deeper into the couch. She looked up at him and he was just watching, massaging her foot, waiting for her to start. 

“I’ve mentioned to you a couple of times how it’s always been just Oliver and I.” He nodded his head “I wasn’t just using a figure of speech - it really has been just the two of us. Always.” She took a deep breath. “I used a sperm donor to conceive Oliver.” 

Sandor’s hands paused on her foot and he blinked at her, expression remaining impassive. He tilted his head to the side, rubbing her foot again, listening. “I would like to explain to you why, if you want to hear it.” He nodded his assent, so she began. 

“I met Ramsay when I was 17. We went to high school together, over in Winterfell. He was cocky and charming, not unlike most teenage boys. After we graduated, he applied to as many jobs in King’s Landing as he could, eager to get away from the North, away from our families. Right after my 18th birthday, he was offered an entry-level position at some big computer company. He suggested we get married to celebrate, said we could be each other’s family.” She breathed in, shifting her weight to get more comfortable. Sandor gestured for her to move her other foot towards him so he could switch, massaging the other one. 

“Once we were in King’s Landing, things changed. The charming boy I married started to have these anger issues - one second we would be laughing, the next he was backhanding me across the room.” Sandor’s nostrils flared as he inhaled deeply, jaw clenched tight as he ground his teeth together, but his hand on Sansa’s foot was still massaging gently. 

Sansa focused on picking pieces of lint from her cotton shorts, unable to look up at Sandor for the next part. “The abuse steadily got worse over the next couple of months. I should’ve left but.. I thought I was in love. When it was good, we were fine, happy - I figured it was just a rough patch we had to get through. I blamed it on the stress of living in a new place so far from home.” 

She felt tears collect on her lashes, when she blinked they fell onto her cheeks. She glanced up at Sandor, his face was tight, gaze focused on her, hands paused on her feet. She looked down again at her shorts. 

“The third month we were in King’s Landing, he sexually assaulted me.” Sandor squeezed her foot but she didn’t bring her eyes up to look at him. “That’s when I knew I had to get out. I called my Dad, he came down with Robb and Jon immediately and helped me pack up, brought me back home to Winterfell.” She wiped the remnants of her tears off her face, crossed her arms over her stomach, leaned her head back against the top of the pillow. “My mom watched me lay in bed for weeks until she dragged me to see a therapist, Dr. Seaworth. The sessions with him were hard - I hated them at first but.. now I can see that they saved my life.”

She paused here, closing her eyes, taking a moment to just breathe.

She opened her eyes again and looked over at Sandor’s face - he was seething . His eyebrows were drawn together, eyes closed, nostrils flared as he drew in slow deep breaths. One hand of his was still resting on Sansa’s foot, squeezing it, but not painfully. The other was gripping the back of the couch so hard she thought he might crack the wood inside. 

“Is he dead?” His voice was so deep, she barely recognized it. He still had his eyes closed so she waited until he opened them again before she answered. 

“Yes.” 

She gave him a faint smile, and his hand on the couch loosened a fraction. His other hand, the one he had on her foot, started to massage her ankle, running his fingers up her calf halfway before coming back down to her ankle, repeating.

“How?”

Her smile dimmed as she explained, “The night I came back home to Winterfell, my mom had enough forethought to take pictures of my body. The marks, they… I still have some scars.” She ran her hands across her stomach, unconsciously. Sandor removed his hand from the back of the couch, using both hands now to rub along her ankles and lower calves.

She sniffed, rubbing her nose and eyes with her hands. He knows the worst of it now. 

“Robb is a lawyer, partner in a firm with his best friend, Theon. Once they opened a case against Ramsay to prosecute, other girls began to come forward. In the end, he was charged with enough counts of felony assault and battery to land himself in jail for 17 years.” She looked up again at him, a smile on her face as she spoke. 

“He lasted 3 days before he turned up dead in his cell.” 

He paused his massage again, looking at her questioningly, “Suicide?” 

She shrugged a shoulder, looking down at his hands on her ankles, a smile on her lips. “The State decided not to pursue an investigation into it. I guess we’ll never really know.” She raised her eyes up to his, smirking.

He slowly mirrored her smile. 

 

- - - - - - - - - - Sandor POV - - - - - - - - - -

He watched her as she shrugged her shoulder, not making eye contact, shit-eating grin on her face. “The State decided not to pursue an investigation into it. I guess we’ll never really know.” When she looked back up at him, she wasn’t the same melancholy girl who just spilled her entire past to him. No, this woman was confident her demons had been put to bed and she reveled in it.

Damn. 

“Your father?”

He didn’t want to push her. Hell, the whole night he had been fighting the urge to pull her across the couch and just hold her. But he couldn’t make that call for her - if she wanted to tell her story from across the couch, she deserved that right. He would settle for providing any comfort he could. 

She shrugged her shoulder again, grin growing bigger and eyes gleaming. 

Well, shit. Note to self - don’t piss off her Dad. 

She cleared her throat and continued, “Anyway. I received a sum from the settlement. At the time, I couldn’t have cared less about the money so I gave it to my dad - he owns an investment firm. I’m not sure exactly what he did with it but he put it somewhere where it would sit and accrue interest until I was ready to deal with it.” 

She sat up a bit, stretching her arms above her head, leaning side to side. She looked lighter - he was relieved. She lowered her arms back down, continuing. “Once I was actually receptive to the therapy, I made a lot of progress. Not just in dealing with all of the shit with Ramsay, but also just life in general.” She looked over at Oliver’s closed door, smiling. “One of the things I had always wanted to be was a mother.”

Fuck, I forgot that’s what started this whole conversation in the first place. 

She looked away from the door and started pulling at her shorts again. “At this point I was 22. I know that’s young but - after what I had been through.. I didn’t feel like waiting around until it was socially acceptable to have a baby. I talked to Dr. Seaworth about it, I included my parents in the conversation, too. Surprisingly, everyone was supportive.” She took a breath and closed her eyes. 

 “I tried not to use my fear as a motivating factor but -  I will admit the fact that the baby would be just mine - no one could take him or her away from me with a custody battle... it was something I needed.” She opened her eyes and looked up at him, and he understood. 

Just in case the baby’s father turned out to be a monster, like Ramsay did.

He felt like someone punched him in the chest. 

She tore her eyes away. He used all of his self-control to not pull her towards him. 

“So, I did my research on which Donor Bank I wanted, chose which sample I wanted, and used my own money from the settlement to make it happen.” She looked up at him and huffed a laugh, “You know, they say the best revenge is to live your life well, or something like that. It felt pretty good to use that fucker’s money to make my dream come true.” 

That shocked a laugh out of him. He squeezed her ankle, sliding his hand back down towards her foot. 

“My parents live on a large estate in Winterfell” Her cheeks flushed a little. “I lived with Ollie on their property in one of the guesthouses. I was able to be there for every moment as he grew up.” She smiled and looked back at Ollie’s door. “When it came time for him to start school, I felt ready. Ready to live on my own, to start working, just... ready. So we moved here to Wolfswood in May. My friend, Margaery, lives here. Ollie and I would visit her and I loved the area. We got settled in time for school to start in August.” She turned to look at him. “And then we met you.” 

And Thank fuck for that. 

She looked down and cleared her throat, uncertain. “So. Now I have to ask.. Does any of this change how you feel? About me.. about Oliver?” 

“Fuck, no.” His answer was immediate. He didn’t give a shit how Oliver was conceived. He cared that Sansa was a good mother, that she was raising him to be a good kid. Frankly, the idea that some fucker wasn’t going to swoop in out of nowhere one day and take them away from him was appealing. 

She looked up and smiled at him, one of those smiles that made his chest feel tight when he looked at her. 

Damnit, I’ve waited long enough. 

“Come here.” He held his hand out, letting her decide if she wanted to come lay on his side of the couch or not. 

 

- - - - - - - - - - Sansa POV - - - - - - - - - -

Oh Thank Gods. 

He had his hand held out to her, ready to help her move over to his side of the couch. She grabbed it, using his hand as leverage to pull herself up and crawl over to him. He shifted onto his side, his back against the couch so she could lay next to him. She decided to lay facing him, one leg thrown over his so she didn’t fall off the couch. He had one arm bent, tucked between his head and the pillow, the other draped over her waist, his fingers lightly grazing her back. Her hands were folded between them, her head tucked under his chin.

She could feel his heartbeat under his skin, pulsing right where his neck met his chest. Without thinking, she leaned in and placed a kiss to the skin there. She felt his chest rumble, arm tightening around her waist. She liked how it felt, so she did it again - this time a little higher up his neck. His arm around her waist tightened again, his hand moving from her back to rest on her side. 

“Little Bird.” 

“Yes?” 

He took a breath. 

“What are you doing?” His voice sounded tight. 

She leaned backward, moving her head from beneath his chin, trying to look him in the eye. “Do you want me to stop?”

He hooked his hand under her thigh, the one that was draped over his legs, and pulled, moving her upwards so her face was even with his. He propped himself up on his elbow, leaning over her slightly. He looked over her face, his gaze starting on her lips, coming up to her eyes. He bent down slowly - she would’ve had enough time to tell him to stop if she wanted to but she didn’t. 

His lips met hers softly. She moved her hand behind his head to encourage him, let him know she wanted him to continue. He had some light scarring on his lips, she could feel the difference in the skin as he moved his mouth against hers. She pushed her lips against his, making the kiss firmer. She opened her mouth, running her tongue along the seam of his lips. He responded with a groan, but then he pulled back completely. She opened her eyes - she hadn’t even realized she had closed them - protest ready on her lips when she felt her body being pushed sideways, towards the back of the couch. He had raised his body up, balancing on his hand while he moved her so she was centered on the couch, then boxed her in with his arms. His body was laying on top of hers, painfully squishing her legs, so she nudged him with her knee. He lifted his body up and she opened her legs, making room so he could lower his body back down on top of her, her legs wrapped around him loosely. Their centers didn’t quite match up, but that was ok - that wasn’t what she was after. 

Yet. 

She smiled to herself, putting one hand on the back of his neck, the other pulling him down by his shirt gently so they could resume their kiss, now that they were more comfortable. He groaned again, opening his mouth and pulling her lower lip between his. She felt a curl of hunger in her belly, tightening with every brush of his lips against hers. He took his time with her, languidly kissing her until she felt like a puddle beneath him. He refused to speed up the kiss - she had tried in vain to raise the intensity - but he was content in keeping it slow, savoring her. Tasting her. The curl in her belly began to ignite, she could feel it burning her from the inside out. 

He bucked his hips, just once, and then pulled his head back from hers, slowly. 

“Little Bird.” 

She understood. It was a lot, after the conversation they had just had, and now this. She was overwhelmed in the best way, surrounded by his scent and his taste on her lips. She didn’t want to go too far - at least not tonight. 

“I know. I - we can stop.” She took a shuddering breath, huffing out a laugh.

He bucked his hips again, slowly. “I don’t want to.” He kissed her cheek, her nose, her jaw. “But..” 

She smiled up at him. His eyelids were half-closed, he looked drugged. She brought her head up, kissing him chastely on the lips before lowering her head back down to the pillow. 

“I know. Me either.” 

He kissed her once more on the mouth, quickly before it could turn into more, then groaned as he sat up, pulling his body off of her. She sat up as well, running her hand through her hair, pulling down her tank top that had ridden up. 

He was on the edge of the couch, bending to grab his phone from the coffee table and sliding it in his back pocket. He stood up and she was eye level with his waist - she couldn’t help but notice the bulge in his jeans. Her cheeks pinked as she looked up towards his face. He saw her looking - he shrugged his shoulders with a smirk on his face. 

Well, at least I’m not the only one who’s all...bothered. 

“I need to go, Stranger is probably pissed at me for making him wait this long.” He held out his hand, helping her up off the couch. 

She nodded, smiling. Taking his hand, she interlocked their fingers as she walked him to the front door. She had to let go so he could bend down and pull his boots on, but he grabbed her hand again when he straightened back up. He leaned down and she met him halfway, rising up on her toes to kiss him again, her free hand against his chest for balance. She pulled back from him, hesitantly, not wanting him to go but understanding he had to. She bit her lower lip, cheeks flushed. 

“Bye, Sandor.”

“Bye, Little Bird.” He paused, running his eyes over her face again. He smiled at her, a small upturn at the corner of his mouth, before turning and walking out the door. She closed the door behind him, leaning back up against it as she sighed.

Chapter Text

Monday, Sept 18th

Sansa pulled into a parking spot in front of her shop, putting the car in park. “Ok baby, we’re here. You can unbuckle but stay in the car while I text Coach Clegane, ok?” 

“Ok, Mama!” Oliver unbuckled himself from his booster seat quickly, moving down to the floor and kneeling so he could play with his new direwolf figurines, a birthday present from Grandma Catelyn, on the empty seat next to him. 

Sansa grabbed her phone from her bag on the passenger’s seat, swiping to unlock it and pulling up her and Sandor’s text thread. 

Sansa [3:07pm] - We just pulled in! 

Sandor [3:08pm] - ok i’m walking stranger now

Sandor [3:08pm] - then packing up the tools

Sandor [3:09pm] - as soon as bronn gets here we’ll be on the way

Sansa [3:09pm] - Tell Stranger I said hi!

Sansa [3:09pm] - Ok, see you soon!!!! 😍

Sandor [3:10pm] - 

Sandor [3:10pm] - he says hi

Smiling, she switched over to her thread with Margaery.

Sansa [3:10pm] - Hey, we just pulled in! Sandor is getting his tools then they’ll be on the way!!  🎉🎉🎉

Margaery [3:11pm] - YAY!!!! 🎉 Getting dressed, stopping for a chai from Sbux and then omw!!!! Do u want anything?

Margaery [3:11pm] - wait, who is he bringing with him??

Sansa [3:12pm] - No, thank you though! 

Sansa [3:12pm] - His friend, Bronn. He’s going to help with the shiplap wall, Sandor said it would be faster with both of them working on it. 

Margaery [3:13pm] - omg is he cute?? 😍😍

Sansa [3:14pm] - 😂😂😂

Sansa [3:14pm] - I have no idea Marg, I’ve never met him. 

Her phone dinged with an incoming text from Sandor. 

Sandor [3:14pm] - we’re on the way 

Sansa [3:15pm] - Ok, yay!!! 🎉

She switched back to Margaery’s thread. 

Margaery [3:14pm] - tell sandor to send u a pic!!

Sansa [3:16pm] - He’s driving, weirdo! They’re on the way, guess you’ll have to wait. 😘

She turned the screen off and tossed her phone back in her bag, turning to Oliver again. “Coach Clegane is on his way, Ollie, with his friend. Aunt Margie is coming, too!” 

“Yaaaaay!!” He picked up his toys and stood, crawling over the middle console to get into the passenger’s seat. Sansa quickly moved her bag to the floor before it could get smushed. 

Sansa took a deep breath. “Hey, I wanted to talk to you about something real quick.” It was time to tell Oliver about her and Sandor. 

She had asked Sandor for his thoughts on the matter yesterday when they were at the hardware store. 

 - - -

Sunday, Sept 17th

Sansa and Ollie walked down the paint aisle, cart already full of the wood they would need to construct the shiplap wall. Oliver was excited, pointing at all the color swatches. “This one is the color of my room, Mama! This one is the color of that one leaf I saw that one time! This one is the same color as my direwolf!! Can I take this one, pleeeease?” He pulled it from it’s slot, showing it to her with puppy dog eyes. 

She sighed, “You may pick ONE paint swatch to take. If you take them all, there won’t be any left for other people who need them, so only one, ok?” 

“Ok, Mama!!” He looked at the swatch in his hand, back at the wall, and down to his hand again. His little eyebrows drew together, a look of concentration on his face. 

That should keep him busy for at least 3 minutes. 

Sandor came up behind her, a large plastic container full of nails in his hand. He placed his hand on her waist as he leaned by her to put the nails in the cart. “They found them.” Sandor had gone to the front to ask if they had a specific size nail he needed for his nail gun while she and Ollie came over to try and find a color she liked for the walls of the shop.

“Coach Key-gane, look! This color is the same as that one piece of POOP we found on the blacktop!!” Sansa laughed and put her forehead in her hand. 

Sandor’s mouth twitched but he managed to keep the rest of his face straight. “Yes, I see, Ollie. Hey - let’s not scream about poop in the middle of the store, ok?”  

Ollie tilted his head, considering. “Can I scream about poop outside of the store?”

Sansa had to stifle her snort behind her hand, turning her body away from them. 

Sandor squatted down so he was on Oliver’s level. “You know what, let’s play it by ear, see how the day goes.” 

Oliver’s face scrunched up, “What’s play it by the ear?”

Sandor’s face finally cracked, he smiled at Oliver. “It means ‘we’ll see’.” He ruffled Oliver’s hair. 

“Oh. Ok! We’ll play it by the ear!’ Satisfied, he turned back to the color swatches. 

Sandor stood back up, moving back to Sansa’s side. She had turned back around, recovered from her laughter. 

“Your son is something else.” He told her. 

“Ohh, don’t I know it. One time, I was trying to rush him to the bathroom at Target because he told me he had to go potty, only for him to stop in the middle of an aisle and scream ‘Don’t worry, Mom, it went back up my butt!’”

Sandor barked a laugh and she grinned at him, enjoying his reaction. She reached out and grabbed his hand, squeezing once before letting go, mindful in case Oliver happened to glance over. She turned to the wall of swatches and looked them over. 

“Do you know what color you’re looking for?” He asked her.

She shook her head. “Margaery said she didn’t care what color it was as long as it ‘looked nice’, so..I have a lot of range to work with.” She glanced over at Sandor, who was looking at the colors too. “Hey so.. I want to tell Ollie about us.” 

Sandor looked over at her and smirked, raising an eyebrow. Sansa’s cheeks pinked, remembering the night before on her couch. 

“Not everything obviously, you perv.” She smiled as she said it, swatting him lightly on the arm with the back of her hand. He laughed and held up a deep blue swatch for her to consider. She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say yet but I wanted to make sure you wouldn’t get in trouble at work, first.”

Sandor furrowed his brows, “Why would I get in trouble?” He held up a bright yellow for her - another no.

She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know - couldn’t it be like a.. conflict of interest or something, teaching your girlfriend’s kid?” 

He shook his head, holding up a light grey for her. She pursed her lips, considering it before ultimately shaking her head no.

“It would maybe be an issue if I was his homeroom teacher, but I’m a Specials teacher - I only see him one day a week for 30 minutes.” He held up a white swatch - she paused, tilting her head first one way, then the other. She plucked it from his hand and he grinned.  “Plus, PE is pretty straightforward in elementary school - if he shows up, puts in an effort to participate, he passes. I don’t issue standardized tests or specific grades for my students.” 

She bit her lower lip, taking in everything he said. If he says it’s not a problem, I trust him. She let out a breath. “Ok so, are you ok with me telling him, then?” 

“I told you before, Little Bird. I’m following your lead.” He grabbed their cart and leaned his forearms on the handle. “Now - let’s go see what random ass color your kid picked out, and get you a couple cans of very exciting white paint.” 

- - - 

“What is it, Mama?” He put his little hand on her face. 

Sansa cleared her throat, trying to figure out where to start. “Well. You know how Coach Clegane has been spending a lot of time with us?” Oliver nodded his head. “Well… that’s because we’ve decided to start dating.” 

He dropped his hand, his face crinkled in confusion. “What’s dating?”

She took his hand in hers. “It means that we like spending time with each other, and we want to keep doing it.” 

“But I get to spend time with each other too, right?” His face wasn’t worried, he was asking as if to clarify. 

“Oh, of course! Yes, baby, yes - you’ll spend time together with us, too. Always. I just mean .. you might see Coach Clegane and I hold hands sometimes or maybe hug occasionally. What would you think about that?” She held her breath. 

“Oh. Ok.” 

She exhaled. “...ok? You don’t - you don’t have any questions or anything about it?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “No.”

“You’re just.. You’re ok with everything?” 

He looked at her as if he had no clue what she was talking about. “Can I play with my toys again, Mama?” 

“Oh!” He was trying to gently tug his hand from hers - she let it go. “Yes, sorry.” 

Uhhh..  that was easier than I expected. 

She turned off the ignition, grabbing her bag from the floor, “Well, come on then, let’s go wait for everyone inside.” 

Sansa gazed at the front of the shop as she got out of her car. Oliver climbed out behind her and went to stand on the sidewalk, waiting to be let in. He had been here a couple times with her already - they had come to measure the space for furniture and let the flooring guy inside so he could install the new wooden floors. - so the novelty for him had worn off. 

Not for Sansa. She put her hand up, shielding her eyes from the sun as she looked at the new awning that had been installed above the door. The logo she drew was on it, an embroidery hoop with the shop name “ Hand & Arm” (A not-subtle reference to the types of embroidery they did, hand for Sansa and using an arm machine for Margaery) with a flowery design surrounding the words. 

Since embroidery was such a niche market, they had expanded their services to include alterations and tailoring, as well as a small section in the shop to house different materials to sell - their favorite types of threads, hoops, needles. They would also use the shiplap wall to display pieces of their work that were for sale, but a majority of their business came from their etsy shop orders. This space was really an office for her and Margaery to work in together, where local customers could pick up their things, or an occasional walk-in could come in.

She loved it. 

She unlocked the door and held it open so Oliver could walk under her arm, inside. The new floors were finished, a light oak that made the space seem huge. The walls were bare, a pale blue, from the previous tenant. It was a long space, currently empty, waiting for the furniture that would be delivered later in the week. The wall to her left had 2 arches, one was a little alcove - she was thinking this could be some space for shelving, maybe? - and the other was a doorway, leading to the bathroom. The wall to her right, closest to the door, was the one Sandor and Bronn would be putting shiplap on. 

She set her bag down on the floor towards the left corner, out of the way, while Oliver ran around the shop, arms wide as he spun like a helicopter. “Oliver, I need to go out to the car and get the paint, I’ll be right back, ok?” He nodded, showing that he heard her, but didn’t stop twirling. Keys in hand, she stepped out to her car - the front of the shop was all glass so she could still see Oliver clearly - and went around to the back of her car, popping the trunk with her key fob. She grabbed a bag of supplies and two cans of paint, closed the trunk and headed back inside. 

She put everything down in the middle of the space, throwing her keys towards her bag in the corner. She rummaged through the hardware store bag until she found the roll of blue painter’s tape they got yesterday. Lifting it out, she pulled the clear wrapper off of it, shoving that back in the bag, and began taping where the new floors met the wall so they could start painting once everyone arrived. 

She heard the rumble of his truck pulling up outside, and called out to Oliver. “Ollie! Coach Clegane is here!” 

“YAAAAY!” He ran to the door, both hands on the glass, pushing it open. 

“Hey! Stay on the sidewalk!” She reminded him, following him out. 

She saw Sandor, he had backed into the spot next to her car and was lowering the tailgate on his truck. She had just seen him at school pick up - she tried not to stay and flirt with him at his workplace, so it was usually a quick ‘hi’ and ‘how was your day?’ before she collected Oliver and left - but her stomach still swooped as he turned to face her, small smile on his face.  

“Coach Key-gane!! You are dating my mom!” He yelled gleefully, as he went to wrap his arms around Sandor’s legs.

Sansa heard a sputtering sound - she looked towards the front of the truck and saw Sandor’s friend, Bronn, standing next to the open passenger side door, gatorade bottle in his hand. His face was down, looking at his chest, wiping at the liquid that now dripped down the front of his shirt.  She heard him mutter fuck and it made her laugh as she turned back to Sandor. 

He was looking down at Oliver, who was still hugging his legs, little face pointed up at him, his chin poking into Sandor’s thigh. “Oh, I am?” He huffed a laugh, putting his hand on Oliver’s head in greeting. ”And how do you know?” His tone was playful.

“Becauuuuse she told me!” He unwrapped his hands from Sandor’s legs and put them on his own hips. “She said you will hug and hold HANDS!” 

“Did she, now.” He laughed again.

“Uh-huh.” Oliver nodded his head once, emphatic. 

Sandor flicked his eyes up to Sansa, smiling. She just shrugged her shoulders, smiling back. He looked back down to Oliver. 

“Well, ok then. If she said it, I guess I better go give her a hug. Do you want to help me?” 

“Yes!!” Oliver ran back over to his mom, wrapping his arms around her hips. “Me first!” 

Sandor laughed, walking over to her, putting his arms around her shoulders, smushing Oliver between them as he giggled. “ Hey ! I’m DOWN here!” Sansa wrapped her arms around Sandor’s waist, breathing in the scent of him, pressing her face against his chest. 

“I see that he’s taking the news horribly.” Sandor spoke softly, his chin resting on her head.

She gave a dramatic sigh. “Yes, it’s dreadful.”

Oliver, finally having had enough, pushed against her legs. She moved them to the side so he could be freed. He sprung out from between them - his hair was sticking up all over, big grin on his face. “That was so funny! Ok, bye!” He turned and went back to the door of the shop, pulling it open with both hands and disappearing inside. 

Sansa laughed, pulling back from Sandor as he furrowed his brows and frowned. “I feel so.. dismissed.” 

“Yeah,” She placed her hand on his chest, consoling him. “You get used to it.” She raised herself up on her toes, kissing him on his cheek. He put a hand on her waist, squeezing slightly. He looked down at her after she kissed him, one side of his mouth turned up in a half smile. 

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” 

Sansa turned towards the voice, facing Sandor’s truck. Bronn had shut the passenger door and was walking towards the tailgate, brows furrowed but a smirk on his face. 

“If I’d known his mooning was gonna be even worse in front of you, I would’ve stayed home.” 

Sansa smiled - she liked the thought of Sandor mooning over her, especially enough that his friend noticed. 

“It’s been barely tolerable lately - although now that I meet you, I can see what all the fuss is about.” He took a step forward with his hand extended but Sandor’s hand on his chest stopped his movement. 

Easy .” Sandor said, voice deep. 

“Alright! Would you fucking relax? I’ll keep my mitts to myself.” He put his one hand on his hip instead, putting his other one to his head and tipping it, like he had an imaginary cowboy hat on. “Nice to meet you, Sansa. Seven knows I’ve heard enough. “

Sansa giggled at his antics. “Nice to meet you, Bronn. Thank you so much for coming to help us with the shop.” 

“Ok, that’s enough from my good buddy Bronn.” Sandor clapped his hand on Bronn’s shoulder, squeezing, turning his friend back towards the truck, Bronn mumbling ok, ow! I was just kidding, fuck as they went. 

She walked over to the bed of the truck with them, looking over everything he’d brought - wood planks, something that looked like a plastic briefcase, nails, a giant saw, an extension cord, folded sheets of plastic, a big red metal cylinder with a black box attached at the top, a coiled orange hose, paint tray, some rollers, a level, a black canvas tool bag, dust pan and broom. 

“Wow.” She was overwhelmed, but ready to get started. “What can I carry?” 

Sandor loaded up her arms with the sheets of plastic. She grabbed the handle for the nail container and carried everything back over to the shop. She used her elbow to knock on the glass, calling Oliver’s name through the door for him to come open it for her. He pushed it open and she thanked him, setting the nail container in front of the door, propping it open, then went inside. 

“Mama! Your new work has the biggest echo, listen! ECHO-ECHO-ECHO!!!” The noise reverberated off the walls, and Oliver jumped up and down, clapping his hands. “Oh I know, we should play some music!! Can we, Mama?” 

Sansa set the plastic sheeting down in the middle of the room next to the paint cans, shrugging her shoulder. “Sure, Ollie. I love that idea.” She went to her bag and got her phone out, opening her music app and selecting the ‘Oliver Dance’ playlist. 

Oliver Dance

She handed Oliver the phone as energetic techno music starting blasting from the tinny speaker. Oliver immediately started moving his little body around - jerking and jumping as much and as fast as he could. He waved his hands above his head, twisted his hips left and right, bent almost backwards and sprang forward. 

“That makes my back ache just looking at him.” Bronn walked through the doorway, carrying the tool bag and extension cord. Sandor was right behind him, the red metal cylinder in his hands.  Sansa laughed, squeezing Sandor’s forearm as she passed by him on her way back out to the truck for another load. She got the broom and dust pan, looped the coiled orange tube around her other arm, grabbed the plastic briefcase - luckily it wasn’t heavy - and quickly turned to head back. She almost ran smack into Sandor’s chest, but he stopped her with his hands on her arms before she could make contact. 

“Oh! Sorry.” She let out a little laugh, made to move around him but his hands lingered on her arms so she stopped. He hummed, smiling as he looked down at her, letting go of her arms, trailing a thumb across the bottom of her jaw. 

Oh.

He leaned down as she raised herself up on her toes, meeting in the middle for a kiss. His hand was on the back of her neck, fingers in her hair and she was frustrated that her hands were full - she didn’t know what was in the briefcase so she didn’t feel right just dropping it. Before she could kiss him deeper, he pulled back, fingers still in her hair. 

He hummed again, “I like your pants.” 

She huffed a laugh, crinkling her nose in confusion. “My pants?” She looked down. She was wearing plain black leggings. “They’re just leggings.”

He laughed, “Yeah well,” He kissed her again, quickly. “I like them.” He let go of her and walked back over to the truck, casual. Her eyes followed him, a dazed smile on her face. She kept smiling as she walked back into the shop. Bronn stood by the front window, facing her son with one arm crossed over his chest, the other hand under his chin. 

“Huh, show me that last move again.” Oliver’s face was flushed from his frantic dancing but he happily obliged. “I wouldn’t have thought to put those two moves together but you know what, it works well.” Bronn noticed Sansa standing there and smiled at her.  “Ah! Casanova all done then, eh?” He turned and walked back out to get more supplies, leaving Sansa with pink cheeks as she realized what Sandor did. 

“Mama! You missed the best part! We have to do it over again!” Sansa moved to set the items she was holding down in the growing pile of things in the middle of the room. 

“Ok! I’m here now so go ahead and restart it.” She watched as he turned the screen on and carefully pushed the button to start the song over. Sandor and Bronn came in, hands full of the paint tray, level and rollers. 

“WAIT!! We have to ALL do it.” He turned on the phone’s screen again, hitting the pause button carefully.  “Coach Clegane and umm..” He looked at his mom. 

“The name’s Bronn.” He leaned down with his hand out for Oliver to shake. 

“Hello, my name is Oliver Eddard Stark.” He grabbed Bronn’s hand and shook it, once, letting go to move behind him and shove Bronn’s legs so he moved closer to the dance circle. Satisfied that Bronn was in the right position, he turned to face Sandor, who had moved to stand next to Sansa while Bronn and Oliver were making introductions. Oliver nodded his head, happy with everyone’s placement. 

“IS EVERYONE READY???” He yelled unnecessarily - they were all standing within 3 feet of him. 

“Ugh, Oliver, too loud.” Sansa winced and covered her ears. 

“Uhh.. what is happening?” Bronn looked warily to Sansa. 

She took her hands off her ears and gestured to Oliver. “He likes to do this thing at a certain part of the song - the music gets quiet and we squat down, then when the music builds back up, we pop up like fireworks.” 

Bronn’s face was blank as he took a second to think about it. He blinked, sighed. “Ok, let’s get this over with.” 

She looked over to Sandor. He shrugged his shoulders and let out a little laugh, incredulous. “Might as well.” 

“YAY!” Oliver pressed play and they all stood there, watching him flail as they waited for the song to get to the special part. Sansa pressed her lips between her teeth as she tried to hold in laughter at how weird this was. She looked over at Sandor - he was watching Oliver dance, smiling at him. Her chest felt warm, she reached out and grabbed Sandor’s hand. He smiled at her, interlocking their fingers as he looked back at Oliver. 

“OK THIS IS IT!” The music was quiet so they all squatted down, Oliver bouncing up and down slightly in excitement. “IT’S BUILDING!” 

They waited some more.

“GET READY!!”

More waiting. 

“My knees are starting to cramp.” Bronn said, but he stayed squatting. 

“HERE WE GOOOO!!!” The music cranked up again and everyone jumped up at once. Oliver’s joy was so contagious Sansa laughed, putting her free hand on her chest as she threw her head back. Sandor was laughing as well, shaking his head as he pulled Sansa in for a hug. Oliver had gone back to dancing, more thrilled than ever, while Bronn was bent over at the waist. 

“Thanks so much for that, my back will never be the same.” He rubbed his lower back with his hand. 

“Hi! I’m sorry I’m late!!” 

Bronn immediately stood up, straightening his shoulders as Margaery walked into the shop, chai tea in hand. 

“Aunt Margie!!!” Ollie ran to hug her, wrapping his arms around her hips as she bent down to lay her head on his, returning his hug. 

“Ollie!! I’m so happy to see you!” She squatted down to talk to him, pulling her phone out of her purse. “Did you know I saw the biggest lizard yesterday? Look, I took a picture of it so I could show you.” Margaery pulled it up on the screen for him, completely oblivious to Bronn, who was off to the side, smoothing his hair down, sniffing his own shirt. 

Margaery stood back up, leaving her phone with Oliver so he could look at the picture some more, and looked around. “Sandor! Good to see you again!” They had met, briefly, at Oliver’s birthday party.” She looked to Bronn, eyes looking him up and down quickly before holding her hand out. “Hi, I’m Margaery!” 

He nodded and shook her hand, “Bronn.” puffing out his chest a bit. Sansa looked over at Sandor, rolling her eyes. Sandor just shrugged his shoulder, trying not to laugh. Margaery walked over to where Sansa’s bag was thrown and put her drink and purse down, walking back to join the group. 

“Sandor! Sansa says you won’t take any payment for all this hard work you’re doing!” She gestured to the pile of materials beside them. “That’s crazy! We definitely have to pay you for your time, at least.” 

Bronn swooped in, “Uh, actually. I had a thought - how about you let me take you out to dinner, sweetheart? That would be more than enough payment.” 

Margaery turned around, narrowing her eyes at him. “Aw, sorry sport , I’m busy that night.”

Bronn looked at her, confused. “But.. I didn’t say which night”

Margaery put a finger to her chin and pursed her lips, humming. “Hmm. Yeah, funny that.” 

She turned her back to him, facing Sansa. “Ok, Sans!” She clapped her hands together. “Put me to work, what should I do?” 

Sansa looked around, “Well, um.. Sandor?”

She turned to face him, no idea where to begin. He clapped his hand on Bronn’s shoulder. “We’ll get started taking measurements, then cut the wood out at the truck and bring it inside to start nailing it up. You two can start painting the other walls, if you’d like.”

“Or you can sit and watch us work.” Bronn winked at Margaery. 

She looked over at Sansa, “Where are the brushes?” 

They all divided up - Margaery and Sansa on one side of the room, finishing putting the painter’s tape down, laying out the plastic on the floor to protect the wood. Sandor and Bronn began writing measurements, Oliver was in the middle using the paintbrushes he found as drumsticks on the paint cans, tapping along with the music.

An hour later, Margaery and Sansa had finished putting up the first coat of paint on the two walls. They put their rollers down and stepped back to survey their work. 

“Mama, I’m hungry.” Oliver had been sweeping the plastic with the broom, enjoying making a crinkling sound, but he laid the broom down and he walked up to Sansa, leaning his forehead on her thigh. 

She looked over at her bag - she had snacks for him in there, but she thought of Sandor’s little scheme earlier and decided turnabout was fair play. 

“Hey Margaery, do you mind taking Oliver over to the bakery next door for a snack?”

“Oh, sure! I could use one of their danishes anyway. C’mon, Ollie!” She reached her hand out and he took it as they walked to the door. 

Sansa winced. “... and could you take Bronn with you?” 

Margaery whipped her head around “What? Sansa, no! He’s cute enough, sure, but he knows it. He’s an arrogant..” She looked down at Oliver, mindful of little ears. “You-know-what.” 

Sansa pleaded with her “I just need you to distract him for a few minutes, just long enough so I can get a moment with Sandor. Pleeeease?” She used Oliver’s trick and gave Margaery puppy dog eyes. 

“Ugh, fine! But you owe me!” 

“Yes! Thank you so much!” 

Margaery walked out the door with Oliver’s hand in hers. Sansa stood against the wall, the only dry one in the room, out of the way of the glass, listening. 

She heard Margaery deadpan “Bronn. Will you please escort Oliver and I over to the bakery?”

Sansa rolled her eyes. For seven’s sake, you could’ve at least pretended to be excited, Marg. Anyone would see that ‘invitation’ is obviously fa- oh, there he goes. She had peeked through the glass and saw Bronn walking with Oliver and Margaery towards the bakery. She cleared her throat and opened the door, calling out “Hey Sandor?” 

He was bent over the tailgate, looking at the paper that had all their measurements, pencil in hand, focused. 

He looked up at her “Yeah, Little Bird?” 

She smiled. “Can I get your help in here?” 

“Sure.” He looked back at the paper, made a mark on it, then put the pencil down and walked over to her. Sansa’s phone had been playing music for everyone while they worked - it switched songs as Sandor approached. 

Convenient Mood Music

She held the door open so he could walk in first, then followed him. He looked around, then turned back to face her, confusion in his expression. “What did yo-” 

She took two swift steps over to him, putting both her hands up around his neck and pulling his mouth to hers. He caught on quickly, putting his hands around her waist, returning the kiss eagerly. She moaned, pulling his lip with her teeth slightly, hungry. He groaned, then bent down and put his arms under her thighs, lifting her up and pressing her back into the wall near the door, pinning her with his body. He pressed his chest against hers, shifting to get more leverage, his hands on the outside of her thighs as her legs were wrapped around him, her ankles crossed at his lower back. She ran her hands through his hair - it was up in a man bun so she found the hair tie holding it up and pulled it out, throwing it down somewhere on the floor, running her fingers through his hair freely. Sandor’s mouth was demanding - he kissed her like he was withered, parched and she was the only water for miles. He moved a hand from her leg, thumb going to the hollow of her neck, drinking her in. His mouth moved over hers, hard, fast. 

Sansa was lost. All she tasted, smelled, felt was Sandor and she tightened her hold on his hair, basking in everything that was him. He canted his hips, the angle wasn’t right - he was too tall to hit her where she wanted, but she felt that fire in her belly all the same, blazing. She pulled back for air as he returned his hand to her thigh, dropping his mouth down to her neck, using his teeth to graze lightly across her racing pulse point, licking to soothe the skin there after.  She moaned as she pushed her hips into him - her body wanted that friction but she knew, they both knew Oliver and the others would be back any second. 

“Sandor.” 

They were both breathing heavy, movements starting to slow. His face was still buried in her neck, she could feel him exhaling against her skin.  He dragged his lips along her throat, upwards, kissing just below her jaw as he lifted his head to look at her.

“Sansa.” 

She smiled, pleased. Leaning forward, she kissed him on the mouth slowly, lingering. She had loosened her grip on his hair when they were trying to catch their breath, now she tucked a piece of it behind his ear.  

“You didn’t need to make up some ruse to get me alone, Little Bird.” He smiled when he said it. 

“You did it to me earlier, I was just following your example.” 

He laughed, happy. “Yeah,  I asked Bronn to keep Oliver company so I could kiss you - not attack you like some wildcat.” He kissed her again, pulling her bottom lip slightly with his teeth. She moaned, pushing her hips into his body again. 

"What,  you don't like wildcats?" She put her hand on the side of his face,  running her fingers down his cheek. 

"Of course I do,  they're my favorite animal now. " They shared a laugh,  both relaxed. 

“Little Bird.”

“Yes?”

“Have dinner with me.”

Her brows drew together, she tilted her head to the side, trying to understand him. 

“I want to make you dinner. Come to my house, you and Ollie.” 

She leaned forward and kissed him again, simply. “Ok.”

Chapter Text

Friday, Sept 22nd

Sansa turned the ignition off, opening the car door and stepping out to go pick up Ollie from school. She was excited to see Sandor, too - she missed him. They hadn’t spent any significant time with each other, besides 10 minutes or so at school pickup, since that wonderful Monday at the shop. Sandor had rugby practice with Bronn and Drogo on Tuesday, which Sansa definitely needed more details about, and the furniture had started to arrive at her shop Wednesday so she had been busy managing all those deliveries and trying to figure out where things should go. She invited him over Thursday but one of his students had a basketball game that he wanted to go to - she understood of course. She loved that he did that - showed the kids he cared by showing up. The more she saw of him, the more she felt like she was uncovering layers and layers of attributes she didn’t know any single person could possess. She liked what she knew of him, so far. 

Yes, I find myself to be quite… smitten. 

Her chest felt warm as she approached the pick up area, scouting out Oliver easily - they grouped the kids by grade so he was more-or-less always in the same area. She waved, and he grabbed his backpack, said bye to his friends and made his way over to her. 

“Ms. Stark.” 

The corner of her mouth tugged into a smile as she turned to face Sandor, resisting the urge to roll her eyes.

“You know, you could call me Sansa.” She had a hand on her waist, hips cocked to the side.

 He just shrugged his shoulder, smiling. “More fun this way. More professional. ” He wiggled his eyebrows at her. 

This time she did roll her eyes, laughing and dropping the hand from her waist.  “Brienne is right, you are such a child.” She smiled up at him, then turned and looked around. “Is she on pick up duty with you today?”

He nodded and gestured across the sea of kids. Brienne was talking to Ms. Mormont, clipboard in hand, looking like she needed to be rescued. She noticed Sandor and Sansa, and waved, signaling she would be right over.  

“Hi Mama, Hi Coach Key-gane.” Oliver grabbed her hand and stood next to her, subdued. 

Sansa squatted down to see his face, “What’s wrong Oliver?” 

“I had to go into a timeout today.’ His chin was practically touching his chest, she could barely hear him. 

She winced - that was never a good day.

Wait.. 

“For which class, baby?” She held her breath. 

Oliver didn’t answer, just shifted his foot on the ground, pushing an acorn. Sansa looked up at Sandor, he was grimacing, scratching the back of his neck. 

Oh no.

“What happened?” Sansa was looking back at Oliver - she needed to hear it from him. At first, at least. 

What if it was something big? I didn’t think about the implications of how this would affect our dynamic as teacher-parent. What if I don’t like how Sandor disciplined him or-

“Coach Brienne said that I had to put the basketballs away but I didn’t do it.” He lifted his head up, energetic now. “I wasn’t done playing! I wanted to see if I could bounce the ball four times in a row! I had done it three already!! ” 

“Hi Sansa, Hi Oliver.” Brienne came to stand next to Sandor, grimacing as Oliver crossed his arms and stood behind Sansa’s leg as she stood up. 

“Uhh..” She had wide eyes, mouth agape slightly as she looked up at Brienne, unsure of what to do. 

I want to crawl into a hole. 

“Sansa,” Brienne laughed, she put her hand on Sansa’s arm. She spoke kindly. “It’s fine - it’s our job. We handled it. He had some time to think about his decisions and he’ll make some better choices next time, right Oliver?”

Sansa heard a hmph from behind her. 

“Hey, no sir!” She turned and squatted in front of Oliver, her hand on his arm - not grabbing him, just touching him so he would look at her. “You are allowed to be upset but you can not speak to a teacher that way! Oliver Eddard, I want you to make a better choice, right now!” Her eyes were hard as she looked at Oliver, cheeks pink in embarrassment that her child had not only disobeyed a teacher in class but was now being blatantly rude because he was mad. 

Oliver kept his arms crossed on his chest, his face still pinched in anger, shoulders up high by his ears. He glared at his mom, and she narrowed her eyes back at him. The standoff lasted a couple more seconds, until Oliver sighed and dropped his hands, his shoulders slumping. He turned to Brienne. 

“I’m sorry, Coach Brienne. I will listen better next time.”

He seemed genuine, so Sansa was satisfied. 

Brienne smiled at Oliver and knelt down, talking to him softly. “Oliver, I know it’s hard sometimes..” 

She looked up at Sandor while Brienne was talking to Oliver, brushing a lock of hair out of her face, still mortified at her son’s behavior. The corner of his mouth was turned up in a smirk. He had his hands on his hips, eyes on her face as she stood up. He winked, and her blush darkened. She tried to contain a smile, lips twitching, as she focused back on what Brienne was saying to Oliver. 

“.. so I’m proud of you.” Brienne clapped Ollie lightly on the shoulder, and stood up. Whatever Brienne had said to him helped - he wasn’t quite as sullen now.  

Brienne turned to Sansa, “We can have a conference together if you’d like to talk about it.” 

Sansa dismissed the idea with a hand wave. “No, that’s not necessary.” She looked down at Oliver, who was now squatting down to look at a bug that was crawling across the sidewalk. “I trust your judgment.” She looked back up at Brienne, smiling at her. Brienne returned the smile, then nodded her head in goodbye as she walked away. 

Sansa frowned slightly. 

Sandor sighed, speaking softly. “He just had a bad day, Little Bird.” 

“Hmm? Oh.” She waved her hand. “I’m not worried about that - we all get frustrated.” She bit her lip, hesitating. 

Sandor looked at her, eyebrows furrowed, shifting his weight. 

“I just.. What if you being his teacher causes a problem between us?” 

“Like what?”

She hesitated. “I.. I don’t know. It just might.” 

“Have you had a problem with a teacher before?”

She shrugged a shoulder. “No.”

“Then.. I don’t think it will be an issue.” 

She pursed her lips, still unsure. He huffed a laugh. “Ok, I promise you that if I ever need to talk to you in any official-teacher-capacity, we will sit down and discuss it immediately. Is that fair?”

She tilted her head side to side, thinking, then sighed. “That’s fair.” She reached up towards his neck pull his mouth to hers but then halted her movement when she remembered where they were. 

He had an amused look on his face, head tilted. “Me too, Little bird.” 

She cleared her throat. “So anyway.” She made an awkward laugh. “Are we still good to come over for dinner?” 

“Tacos!” Ollie yelled from below her, leaf in his hand, trying to get the bug to crawl on it.  

Sansa smiled. She and Sandor had been texting all throughout the week - he had asked her yesterday if tacos would be ok, which happened to be one of Oliver's favorites.

Sandor chuckled “Yes, you guys are good.” He pushed lightly on Oliver’s shoe with his own. “Stranger will be excited to see you, Ollie. He talks about you non-stop.” 

“Stranger!” Ollie yelled again, then “Ha!” as he lifted the leaf up so they could see the bug on it. 

Sansa laughed, turning back to Sandor. “What time should we get there?” She bounced up on the balls of her feet. Sandor had already sent her his address - he lived about 15 minutes from her house, in a more industrial part of town. 

Sandor smiled, shrugged. “Doesn’t matter to me, Little Bird. All I have planned is a workout at home and then making you some food.” 

“Hmm, a workout, huh?” She exaggeratedly looked him up and down “I bet that would be fun to see.” Her eyes glinted at him. 

He huffed a laugh. “You wanna come watch me work out?”

“Hey, I workout too!” She did - she enjoyed bodyweight exercises and running - Oliver would ride his bike next to her while she ran through their neighborhood. She also used some elastic bands when she wanted to up the intensity.

“Oh, I’ve felt how strong your thighs are, Little Bird.” He said it softly, playfully cocky, and she gasped, smacking her hand on his stomach. She looked down, then around to make sure Oliver or anyone else hadn’t heard. No one was paying attention - she was surprised since she had been standing here a while and openly flirting, which she told herself she wouldn’t do - but she couldn’t help it, she had missed him.  

“Ok, go get your workout stuff. I should be done here soon - I need to go help Brienne, I’ve been slacking enough.” He smiled. “See you in..” He checked his watch. ”Let’s say 30 minutes?”

She nodded, watching as he bent down to ruffle Oliver’s hair, then walked over to join Brienne. 

She smiled. “Come on, Oliver. Let’s go.” 

Chapter Text

Sandor's Home 1

Sandor Home 2

Sandor's Home Tour

Friday, Sept 22nd

Sansa and Ollie walked up to Sandor’s home, hearing music through the frosted glass door. It had a loud drum beat, steady, and most of the words were in a language she didn’t understand. She knocked loudly, so he would hear, and after a moment the music stopped. She saw his figure through the door, fuzzy, his hand on the handle - a sharp whistle, then  “ Hey, sit.” 

She smiled, looking down at Oliver. His face had a huge grin on it. “ Stranger.” He whispered. He and the dog had been best friends ever since they met at the dog park. 

The door opened and she looked up at him - and her jaw dropped. He was shirtless, chest slightly damp with sweat. 

He had a tattoo on his chest, his left side - a beautiful profile of a girl, with flowers along the back of her head.

He had another tattoo of a snake on his right side, going up his ribs, the body of it in a type of zig-zag pattern with Dothraki runes dispersed in between the snake’s curves.. His hair was up in a bun, some tendrils had fallen down, stuck to his neck slightly with sweat. He was breathing hard, stomach muscles tensing with each breath, leaning on the edge of the door with his forearm, smirking at her reaction. 

“My eyes are up here, Little Bird.” He smiled, amused. 

You did that on purpose.  She glared at him, playfully.

“Where’s Stranger?” Ollie was pushing up against Sandor’s legs, trying to see past him. “Ew, you’re wet.” He made a face up at Sandor, who laughed, then moved aside so they could come in. 

Sandor’s studio was amazing. She toed off her shoes by the front door as she came in, looking around. It was all one big room, except for the enclosed bedroom - she could see his huge bed through the black framed glass folding doors that were slightly open. It had 3 huge windows taking up most of the wall to the right, tiny black frames making up a grid in them, afternoon sunlight shining through. She set her bag down on a big black sectional that took up most of the living room area, facing a giant TV that was mounted on the wall.  He had a home gym set up in a pocket of space that was probably intended to be for a dining table near the front door - there was a bench, some kettlebells, free weights, and some yoga mats rolled up, everything organized neatly. 

A large woven tapestry covering almost the entire wall depicted what looked like the mountains in Vale. She stood by the island in the kitchen, running her hands over the concrete countertop. 

Sandor.” She breathed.

She heard a whine, looked over to see Stranger barely containing himself. Ollie was petting him, hugging him around the neck, but Stranger’s eyes were on Sandor, feet shifting, waiting for permission to get up. 

After Sandor set him free with a quick ok Stranger, good boy, Stranger turned and playfully pounced on Ollie, licking him in the face, Ollie shrieking with joy. 

Sandor walked over to her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders, engulfing her so her face was buried in his chest. 

“Hi.”

Hi.” Hers was slightly muffled. 

He huffed a laugh and let her go, still standing close. She made a face playfully at him - “Ew, you are wet. Got started without us?” She was already dressed in workout clothes - the leggings he liked so much and a simple shirt. 

He ran a thumb along her jaw. “Just doing a warm up” He smiled at her. 

She looked around the room, dislodging his thumb accidentally while doing so, trying to take in every single little detail. She spoke softly, awe-struck. “Your home.. This is so magnificent.” She looked back at him. “What did it look like before you fixed it up?” 

He had been watching her face as she looked around. Now he looked around the room as well, recalling. “Uh.. mostly just an empty room.” He looked back at her. 

“Sa- Sandor !” She choked on her words, shocked. “You did everything in here?” She looked around again, seeing the craftsmanship, now knowing his hands had formed everything in the room. She looked back at him and shook her head, disbelieving. “Honestly, why don’t you ever brag about yourself?” He shrugged a shoulder - she laughed, pushing him playfully on the chest. He laughed at her attempt to move him - like pushing a tree over. She left her hand on his chest. “How long did this even take you?” He shrugged another shoulder, smiling. 

“I’ve been here a little over a year so..” She hummed at that, looking up at him. Then moving her eyes down to his chest - her hand was near his tattoo. She moved her hand, ran her finger along it, softly, expecting to feel the ink raised along his skin but it was smooth - if she closed her eyes, she wouldn’t be able to tell anything was there. “This is lovely.” Her voice was soft still - it was like they were in their own bubble, she didn’t want to ruin it. 

He cleared his throat, she looked up at his face while he shifted his feet a bit. “it’s my sister.” The tone he used was clear - it was a memorial tattoo. 

“Oh.” She looked down at it again. “She’s beautiful.” 

He didn’t say anything, but the corner of his mouth lifted at her words. She shifted her attention down to his ribs and ran a finger across the ink there. “Are these Dothraki?” He nodded, eyes steady on her face. “What does this one mean?” She touched the topmost rune. 

“Beginnings.”

She pursed her lips, humming in thought. She ran her finger down, his skin prickled with goosebumps. “And this one?”

“Growth.”

She hummed again, sliding her finger down to the next. “And this?” She looked up at him now, keeping her finger on his skin. His eyes were sharp on her face, his gaze dipping down to her mouth before coming back up to her eyes.  

“Strength.” 

She slid her finger down to the last one, her heart rate picking up. His skin was hot under her finger. She cleared her throat. “This?”

“Truth.” His voice was tight. He took in a deep breath, released it quickly. “Do you want to see the bathroom?”

Her face crinkled, confused. “Why would I wan- oh .” She moved around him, towards the living room, where Ollie and Stranger were still playing. 

Her voice cracked as she spoke, “He-ey Oliver, Coach Clegane is going to- you know what, he’s fine.” Sandor laughed as she grabbed his hand, dragging him towards the back of the kitchen, through the doorway on the left, into the bathroom. 

He pulled the door behind them, leaving it slightly cracked, and she pushed him back against the wall. He hissed - the wall was cold against his skin. He whispered wildcat playfully as she launched herself at him, practically climbing him as she brought herself up to his mouth, her hands wrapped around the back of his neck. He hummed in amusement, bringing his hands around to grip her ass as their lips met, holding her up, her thighs bent, pressed to his sides. She ran her tongue along his lips, seeking entrance, which he granted. He squeezed his hands, pushing her into his body more. She quietly moaned into his mouth, tightening her thighs, squeezing his body between hers. She felt a curl begin to ignite in her belly - but before she could get completely lost, she pulled away slightly, his head following towards hers, trying to chase. 

“I have a surprise for you.” She kissed him again, slowly, letting her words process as they both calmed down. 

“Hmm?’ He wasn’t really focused, pressing his mouth to hers again. 

She laughed, returning the kiss before separating again. “Ollie is going to my parents house tomorrow.  To spend the night with them.” 

That got his attention, he opened his eyes, pulling his face back and blinking at her. 

She giggled, kissing him quickly. “I thought we could go on a date, if you’re free.” Another kiss. “And maybe.. you could spend the night, if you’d like to.” Her eyes widened “Not - I didn’t mean for- I’m not quite, I mean, this is very nice with you.” She moved her hands from around his neck down to his arms, squeezing his biceps once. “ Very nice. But, I’m not quite.. ready. For sex.”

She had thought about this a lot - she wasn’t afraid of sex with Sandor because she was scared of him hurting her - she was nervous because she hadn’t had sex in a decade. She never dated anyone while she lived at Winterfell - she didn’t really feel the desire, just wanting to heal and focus on raising Ollie. She did have a vibrator - she wasn’t a nun - but she wasn’t open to another person’s hands on her until around the time she moved to Wolfswood. She hadn’t really wanted anyone’s hands on her until she started dating Sandor. 

He let her body down, slowly, until her feet landed on the floor. He brought both of his hands up to her jaw, cupping her face, fingers tangling in her hair. “Yeah Little Bird, I’m free.” He kissed her then, gently and she sighed into it, her hand on his chest. He deepened the kiss, swiping his tongue across her lips until she opened for him. He dropped his hands from her face as she tilted her head to match his movements, moving down to grip her ass instead, squeezing once before he pulled his head back. She bit her lip, cheeks pinked, pleased, as he took her hand and led her back out to the living area. 

Ollie had taken the Valyrian blanket from the back of the couch and was hiding under it on the floor, curled in a tight ball. Stranger was crouched next to him excitedly, pushing Ollie with his nose and sniffing, trying to uncover him, making him cackle with laughter - both completely oblivious that Sandor and Sansa had even left the room. Ollie had taken his shoes off, they were haphazardly thrown over towards the front door. Sansa let go off Sandor’s hand to lean down and pick them up, setting them next to hers. 

Sandor was laying out two yoga mats parallel to each other when she turned to face him.  

“Ok so, what are we doing?” 

He smiled, gesturing over to a small white board she hadn’t noticed leaning against the wall, behind the bench. 

25 KB swings

60 squats

25 push-ups

2 min plank

150 jumping jacks

50 Leg lifts

35 KB tricep extensions

x5

“Five - you do this entire thing five circuits?” She gaped at him. 

He laughed as he walked over to her, putting his hand on the curve where her neck met her shoulder, squeezing gently. He rubbed his thumb up and down over her collarbone - it was distracting, pleasant, “You can do it, Little Bird.” He let go, walking over to the kettlebells, picking out one that looked huge and bringing it back to his mat. 

She scoffed. “Umm. I most certainly can not do five circuits of that.” But she walked over to the kettlebells anyway, picking out one that was significantly smaller than his and brought it to the other mat. 

He went over to the TV, a music app was paused on the screen. He picked up the remote from the low table in front of the couch. “You ok with some music?” 

She nodded, “Of course.” and he looked back at the TV, moving the cursor around until he hit play and walked back over to his mat.  

A woman's voice came from the speakers, high and ethereal - it caught her off guard until the heavy bass kicked in and she smiled as they got to work. 

They moved together easily, not quite in sync - he was faster, more used to the movements - but she enjoyed having him next to her. Ollie had been drawn out from under the blanket by the music - he came over to their mats, excited to work out too. He did a couple moves with them, then got bored and went back into the living room area to dance and play with Stranger instead. He occasionally would come back over to join in, usually when they started a new exercise, but for a majority of the workout it was just Sansa and Sandor moving quietly, efficiently. She would feel his gaze on her and look up, finding him eyeing her up and down while she worked, or just looking at her face, smiling. She would playfully stick her tongue out at him, or smack him on the arm when she caught him looking at her ass, not really upset. She liked flirting with him - it came easily to her, even though she had never had that kind of dynamic with anyone before. 

When it was all over, she laid on her back on the mat, panting heavily. She ended up doing half as many repetitions of each exercise as he did, still only making it through three circuits while Sandor finished all five - even though he had to stop and get Ollie a cup of water halfway through. He’d brought her a cup too, placing it next to her mat while he set his own water down next to the wall, then resumed his workout. 

Sandor was on his mat, using a foam roller on his thighs to help ease the tension there from the exercises. 

“You know, I’m going to be useless tomorrow now.” She laid there, arms sprawled out from her body, legs heavy. She didn’t feel sore yet but she knew it was coming. 

He huffed a laugh. “Maybe, but what a great view for me today.” He winked at her as he got up, putting the foam roller next to her in case she wanted to use it. He ran his fingertips up her arm lightly as he stood, raising his hands over his head, stretching out his back. 

“Oh, as long as you’re happy, huh?” She sat up, and bent one leg in so her the bottom of her foot was touching her other inner thigh, bending forward towards her outstretched leg, stretching. “And now I’m all sticky from your crazy workout.” She looked up at him as she switched legs, folding the other one in, stretching the other side. He had put his arms down, walked over to his water and was drinking it, emptying the cup.

“You know, I do have a shower.” 

She crossed her legs, finished with that particular stretch, and looked up at him. “Well.. I didn’t bring any of my shower things. Or any extra clothes.” She didn’t normally pour sweat like she did today when she worked out at home so she didn’t expect to need a shower at Sandor’s place. 

He rolled his eyes, not unkindly, at her as he took his cup into the kitchen. “I do use shampoo.” He called over his shoulder, putting his cup into the sink. He turned back towards her. “And believe it or not, I wear clothes.” 

She laughed. “Well, I don’t want to just assume I can use your things..” she trailed off. 

He came back around the island, towards her. “Let me rinse off while you finish your stretching, then you can hop in.” He smiled at her, then went into the bedroom, leaving the door open slightly behind him. 

She shook her head at him, even though he had already left the room. How is he so casual about his selflessness? The way he just offered up clothes - yes, she realized it wasn’t that big of a deal, but he was always so prompt to help, offering solutions. 

She finished up her stretches then grabbed her water cup and went over next to Ollie and Stranger, setting her cup on the table and sitting down on the floor. They were obsessed with each other - Ollie had found Stranger's basket of toys against the wall and was busy flinging them one at a time across the room yelling, “Go get it, Stranger!” Stranger would bring it back, dropping it at Ollie’s feet and sitting, waiting for him to throw the next one. Sansa rubbed his head, scratching his ears until Stranger rolled over on his back, exposing his stomach for belly rubs. Sansa and Ollie both obliged, Ollie on his knees next to Stranger, Sansa on his other side, both trying to find that special spot to make Stranger’s foot kick. 

Sandor walked out of his bedroom wearing a plain t-shirt and a pair of loose lounge shorts, wet hair down around his face, just as Ollie cheered “I got it!”, Stranger’s foot rapidly kicking in the air. Sansa looked up at Sandor, laughing at both Ollie and Stranger, who had gotten up, shaking his entire body before pouncing on top of one of his toys, taking it in his mouth and shaking it rapidly side to side. Ollie crawled over to him, grabbing the toy and trying to yank it out of his mouth, laughing when Stranger tugged it back, not letting him have it. 

Sansa stood up, brushing her hands off on her pants, and walked over to Sandor, giving him a hug around his waist as he put his arms on her shoulders. “Your turn.” He spoke into her hair, pressing a quick kiss to the top of her head as he let go, moving into the living room. He roared playfully, putting his hands high above his head like claws from a large animal, Oliver shrieking with glee as he ran behind Stranger, Stranger barking happily, ‘protecting’ Oliver from Sandor. 

Sansa watched the scene, her chest tight. She turned away before she could assess her feelings too deeply, grabbing her bag from the couch and heading through Sandor’s bedroom into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. 

She opened her bag, pulling out a small, flat paper bag. Inside, she had a gift she made for Sandor, a small thank you for helping her at the shop - a simple embroidered portrait of Stranger with a bow-tie on. 

She opened the bathroom door a crack, peeking to make sure Sandor was distracted - he was on his back on the floor in the living room, Oliver had just tackled him to the ground - and she tiptoed over to his bed, placing the gift on his pillow, then sneaking back in the bathroom, closing the door behind her. 

She smiled to herself as she began to strip, rolling her clothes up and putting them in her bag - grimacing at the fact that they were sweaty but not really able to do much about it. She turned to his shower - it was floor to ceiling black tile that took up almost an entire half of the room, with a glass door that swung open and a waterfall shower head that hung down from the ceiling.  

She opened the door, walking in and turning the water on - luckily it was already warm from Sandor’s shower. She didn’t really need to use his shampoo - she just wanted to rinse the salt off her body - but she couldn’t resist grabbing the bottle, opening it and bringing it to her nose to smell it. She closed her eyes as she breathed it in - it smelled like trees and oranges. She smiled, closing the bottle and putting it back on the ledge. She turned her back towards the water, rinsing her hair out, then her body quickly - she had forgotten to get a washcloth so she used her hands to rub the water over her face, splashing it on her body, before turning the water off. She opened the glass door and grabbed the folded towel Sandor had left for her on the counter, wrapping it around herself as she stepped out onto the bath mat. A set of clothing had been underneath the towel - she unfolded it and saw it was a pair of shorts identical to the ones he was wearing and a shirt that said The Children’s Village across the front, with a logo that had a pair of adult handprints with a pair of child’s handprints inside them, and a slogan of Hands of Hope on the back.

Curious.

She didn’t have any clean underwear so she slipped the shorts and shirt on after drying off, hanging her towel up on the towel hook that was on the wall. The shorts were big on her so she cinched up the string that was through the waist as tight as she could. The shirt was big as well but not as big as she would’ve thought, given Sandor’s size. She grabbed her bag and turned off the light, walking back through his bedroom, into the main living space. She put her bag back on the couch - Oliver was kneeling at the coffee table, one hand on Stranger’s head, who was laying next to him, the other hand scribbling in a direwolf coloring book with a crayon. The box next to him looked brand new - she huffed a laugh, shaking her head. 

Sandor was in the kitchen, kneeling to get a cutting board from a cabinet behind the island, standing to put it on the counter next to the sink. The island was nearly covered with a spread of ingredients. He looked up as she walked over, the corner of his mouth tilting up in a half smile at her. 

“Feel better?” He asked, before turning to walk over to the fridge, opening the door and grabbing a plate of steaks before closing it again and walking back to the island, setting the meat down in front of the cutting board. 

“So much. Thank you for the clothes. And for getting Oliver a new book and box of crayons.” She smiled at him, raising an eyebrow, suspicious “You keep doing all these nice things - are you even a real person?” 

He barked a laugh at that, reaching over and pulling a knife from a wooden block in the middle of the countertop, setting it down next to the cutting board. “I saw it at the store when I was getting the supplies for tonight - I thought he might like it, especially since I don’t have anything for kids here.” He tilted his head, considering. “Except Stranger.” 

She laughed, nodding her head in agreement. She pulled out one of the stools that were lining the side of the island, sitting down across from Sandor. “Can I help you?”

He hummed, kneeling down to get another cutting board from the cabinet, standing and setting it in front of her, as well as another knife from the block, setting that next to the board. He smiled at her, then went to the pantry that was at the other end of the kitchen, opening the doors and looking through the shelves. 

She looked at the food that was already on the counter - tomatoes, avocados, some flour tortillas on a plate, a head of lettuce, the uncooked steaks and a bowl of some type of long dark red pepper. She picked one up from the bowl, sniffing it, then wincing - it burned. “What is this called? I don’t think I’ve seen this before.” 

He walked back to the counter, setting a jar of olives down amongst the ingredients and looked at the pepper in her hand. 

“Ah. In Dorne they call them asesina, it means ‘killer’.” He huffed a laugh as he grabbed a tomato, bringing it to his cutting board. “I had a friend who said they were solo para valientes , only for the brave.”

She laughed, raising her eyebrows at him, putting the pepper gingerly back in the bowl. “I didn’t realize you spoke Dornish, too.” 

He smiled and shrugged a shoulder, picking up his knife and beginning to cut the tomato in even slices. “I know a little. I lived there for a couple years so I just eventually picked up the phrases.” 

She hummed at that, liking it when he shared little details like that about his life. She picked up an avocado, bringing it to her cutting board, then picked up the knife Sandor had placed in front of her, pausing when she felt a texture on the hilt. It was wooden with intricate designs carved in it, thick metal wrapped around the top and bottom. She ran a finger over it, admiring. “This is beautiful.” 

He looked over at her, seeing that she was talking about the knife and nodded his head, looking back down at his board, pushing aside the diced pieces and grabbing another tomato to cut. “I got that when I lived North of the Wall. “ He shivered. “Too fucking cold there.” 

She laughed then. “Wait, wait! I can’t keep track - you’ve lived in Dorne, North of the Wall - I need you to start at the beginning.” 

He sighed, pausing in cutting the rest of the tomato, humoring her. “It was a rainy night, long ago..”

“Sandor!” She picked up a killer pepper from the bowl and threw it at him - he caught it, laughing, tossing it back into the bowl. 

“What, Little bird, you want my life story?” He resumed cutting the tomato, eyes focused on his task. 

She started cutting the avocado - piercing the skin with the tip of the knife and cutting around in a circle. “Well, yeah. I mean,” She cleared her throat, eyes focused on the avocado. “You know my story, I would like to hear about all of these adventures you apparently went on.” She smiled at him then. 

He returned the smile, although it was a small one. He looked down at the tomato - it was all diced too - and he set his knife down, turning to get a stack of bowls from a cabinet at the far end of the kitchen. He cleared his throat as he walked back, putting the bowls on the counter, pulling one from the top, focusing on putting the diced tomatoes in it. “How about this Little Bird - I’ll start at age eighteen, that’s when the real good adventures start.” 

She looked at him, assessing. If he didn’t want to talk about something, she wasn’t going to push him. Obviously he didn’t have the best childhood - she could surmise that from the scar on his face and his reluctance to talk about himself before the age of eighteen. But he seemed genuinely willing to talk about a time in his life when he was actually happy - and she was the last person who would fault someone for not wanting to tell a hard story about their life. So, she smiled at him, happy to listen to anything he wanted to tell her. “I would love that.” 

His face had a brief look of relief before he smiled, this time it reached his eyes, and cleared his throat. “Well, first there was Essos.” 

“Ah,” She grabbed one of the bowls and put the avocado pieces in it, moving it to the side and bringing the lettuce to her cutting board. “I should’ve guessed - the Dothraki.” 

He nodded, popping a piece of tomato in his mouth that was left behind on his cutting board  before moving it over the sink and rinsing it off. “I wandered around the continent for about 2 years - started up top in Braavos and worked my way down. I stayed in Myr for a while, then Tyrosh, visited Pentos - fell in love with their noodles.” He winked at her as he used a towel that was hanging from a cabinet handle to dry the board off, setting it back down on the counter. She smiled, remembering their day in the park together. “I got tattooed by a priest in Volantis.” He pulled up his right shirt sleeve and showed her his inner bicep. 

She had seen it while they were working out, a flash of black on his arm, but she had forgotten about it, distracted. She leaned forward to get a good look at it, and he took a couple of steps around the island, closer to her so she could see. She ran her finger over it. “It’s.. not quite what I would expect on you. But I mean - it’s stunning.” 

He smiled, nodding his head in agreement, putting his sleeve down and walking back in front of his cutting board. “The priest picks the image - you don’t know what it is until he says it’s done. It’s supposed to bring you more luck that way.” He thought for a second, trying to get back on track. “I eventually found my way to Qarth, where I stayed for a few years helping a man and his family on their farm. He was old, so I mostly lifted heavy shit for him - but he knew how to build things and he taught me a lot.” 

Sansa listened, looking over at Ollie while Sandor was talking - he was still coloring happily in his book, telling Stranger a story about something that was on the page. The dog was sitting up looking at where Ollie was pointing, tilting his head as if comprehending whatever her son was saying. She smiled, turning back to Sandor. “So that’s where you learned how to use tools?” 

He nodded, then smirked as he grabbed the lettuce head from her board - she hadn’t been cutting it, too enthralled with his story. “He taught me a lot about construction - he built every building on his property. After Qarth, I flew to Dorne.” He smiled at her and she returned it, glancing down at the peppers before bringing her eyes back up to his face. She had put down her knife, all pretense that she could work and pay attention to him at the same time, gone. She crossed her arms across the countertop and leaned towards him. “So how old were you at this point?”

He thought for a second. “At this point I was 22, 23. I had some knowledge in construction now so I got a job at a company that built commercial properties.” He chopped the lettuce head in half, moving one half to the side as he centered the other half on his board, making even slices into it. 

“So then, after Dorne was North of the Wall?” She was trying to keep it all straight. 

He laughed, “No, Little Bird. After Dorne was Vale.” She laughed then, shaking her head. 

“Vale was when I decided I wanted to teach. I had always liked kids - they’re honest. And I like looking after them, being someone they could turn to if they needed help.” He looked over at Ollie, who had abandoned his coloring book and was playing with his direwolf figurines, running them up and down Stranger’s back - she hadn’t even noticed him fishing those out of her bag, she was so engrossed in Sandor’s story. 

He looked at her, smiling faintly, then back down at his cutting. “So I did 2 years at Vale Community College before going to Oldstown University to finish out my degree.” He finished that half of the lettuce, getting an empty bowl from the stack and putting the diced pieces in it. 

She smiled, “A new place.” She leaned back in her chair, rolling her eyes playfully. 

He nodded, moving the other half of the lettuce onto the middle of his board now. “After you graduate, they want you to do a year-long internship at a school under another teacher - I wanted to go somewhere where the kids were really underserved so I went to…” He looked at her expectantly.

“Oh, is it time for North of the Wall now?” She laughed as he nodded. 

“Yes, and that year couldn’t end fast enough.” He shivered again. ”I did love the kids there, but fuck.” The lettuce was all finished - he set the knife down. “So once I served my time, I could accept a position anywhere. The closest place hiring was an elementary school here, so. Here I am, for now.” He turned, rinsing his hands in the sink, drying them off on the towel. His eyes scanned the counter, looking at all the ingredients, double checking everything was out. 

Satisfied, he walked around to her side, putting a hand on the side of her neck, rubbing his thumb back and forth on that spot on her collarbone he seemed to favor. She liked it. “I need to go turn on the grill, Little Bird.” She nodded, he looked down at her lips then back up at her eyes before dropping his hand away and walking back towards the other end of the kitchen, opening the back door and stepping out onto the deck there. 

Sansa shivered as fresh air blew in through the open door - the weather was starting to get chilly in the evenings. She crossed her arms and put them on the countertop, shoulders up by her ears, her elbow bumping the knife he had given her to use. She took it in her hands, it really was beautiful. She tilted her head and pursed her lips, contemplating. She looked around the room then - the tapestry, blanket, food he enjoyed, even the music he listened to - it was a roadmap, the pieces all linking to where he had been. She smiled, running through his story again in her head, thinking of how every place he lived in had helped shape him into the man he was today. 

Huh, he’s kind of like this sexy nomad. 

She laughed at herself, still looking at the knife in her hands. Then her smile fell a bit. 

He’s like a nomad. 

She looked back around the room - at the roadmap of his life. 

In all these places, he never stayed more than a few years.

She thought of how attached she was, how attached her son was to him - how he had said for now when he finished his story. She felt stupid for not realizing until now that a man like him wasn’t single because she had just been the lucky woman to snag his attention - he probably had flings like this in every country he lived in - until he got bored and left. He was eventually going to leave.

A heavy stone formed in her stomach. 

Sandor came back into the kitchen, closing the back door behind him. He walked up behind her, putting his hands on the countertop, boxing her in. He bent down, putting his face near the side of her neck. When she didn’t respond, he lifted his head, looking at her face. “Little bird?” He moved his arms, dropping his hands from the countertop, stepping to the side of the island that was perpendicular to hers, so he could see her face fully. “What happened?” 

She looked up at him. “Are you a nomad?” Her voice was soft, curious. 

He furrowed his brows. “I don’t understand.” 

She gestured around his home, raising the knife up that was in her hand - not threateningly, but he still removed it from her hand, setting it on the counter. “Sansa? What happened?”

“You never stay more than a few years.” Her voice was starting to get panicked now. “You move!”

“Yeah.. ?” He still looked confused, shifting his weight as he leaned forward, his forearms on the countertop. He took her hands in his and she squeezed them.

“Well what happens when.. I don’t know. You said..  I thought teachers.. stayed in places!” She wasn’t explaining it fully - she didn’t know how to explain what she was feeling. 

“Well.. some do. You only have a year-to-year contract with the school - you can leave at any time. The administration usually encourages you to stay -  well, if they like you.” He tried to smile at her, but she just looked at him, face pale. 

“Will you?” She watched as comprehension took over his face. His jaw tightened slightly, he moved his gaze down to the countertop, eyes unfocused. 

“Sansa..” He didn’t say anything else. 

She continued, now that he saw the issue. “Because I really like you. And .. and we’ve been dating for - “  

One week. 

Oh gods. 

She hadn’t realized it had only been one week - 7 days since she had unintentionally called him her boyfriend. She felt like she had known him so much longer - they had only met .. she couldn’t remember the exact day, but it was maybe 3 weeks, if that? 

She let go of his hands, putting both of hers on her face, leaning down towards the countertop. She was mortified . She couldn’t even think of anything to say - she just groaned into her hands. 

She heard Sandor huff a laugh, but she didn’t move her hands to look at him. 

“Please don’t laugh at my pain right now.” She said it in a joking way, but half of it was true - she really was in pain. She was used to sticking her own foot in her mouth a lot but this was another level - freaking out on her very new boyfriend about him abandoning her and her son. 

He stood up, coming over to her side. He hugged her towards him, it was an awkward angle, with her shoulder poking into his stomach because she hadn’t turned her body towards him. She did lean her head though, resting it on him, hands still covering her face. 

“Little Bird.” He let go, squatting down so his face was more level with hers, although he was slightly lower than her now. He pulled gently at her wrists, trying to get her to take her hands down. 

“Sansa.” She pulled her hands away from her face - she could feel the heat in it still, sure that her skin was practically maroon. He looked in her eyes, running his thumb across her jaw. 

“I really like you, too.”

Chapter Text

Saturday, Sept 23rd

Sansa [8:37am] - Ok, I have a confession. 

Sandor [8:39am] - should i be sitting down

Sansa [8:40am] - Haha, no. 

Sansa [8:40am] - Even though I’m the one that asked you on a date, I have no idea what we should do. 

Sansa [8:41am] - Mini golf? Picnic? What are your thoughts?

Sandor [8:42am] - I have an idea 

Sansa [8:42am] - Ohh, what is it??

Sandor [8:43am] - surprise

Sandor [8:43am] - i need to call someone but it should work

Sansa [8:44am] - Ooo a super secret date? With a mysterious call you need to make?? 

Sandor [8:45am] - what time will you be back from dropping off O 

Sandor [8:45am] - so i can make sure my mysteries are ready

Sansa [8:46am] - I’m meeting my dad halfway between here and Winterfell, he can’t meet until 12 so I’ll be back home around 1. 

Sandor [8:51am] - ok text me when you’re back i’ll come pick you up

Sansa [8:52am] - 😍😍🎉

- - -

Sandor’s truck pulled into the gravel lot, parking next to an archway, Tumbledown Equestrian Center written across the top. 

“Horses? You brought me to horses?” Sansa’s face was beaming, she was practically hanging out of his passenger side window - she had prodded him almost the entire 30-minute drive out but he held strong and didn’t tell her. He smiled at her excitement, leaned towards her across the middle console and she met him halfway for a kiss. She pulled back slightly, her hand on the side of his face. “ I love it.” She whispered against his lips. He hummed as she kissed him again, quickly, eager to get out of the truck.

She was thrilled that it was horses. She hadn’t ridden in years - not since her own horse, Lady, had died 5 years ago. Her parents had stables on their property, all of the Stark children had their own horse. 

She heard another truck door slam shut as she and Sandor got out of his truck and turned towards the sound - Drogo had been parked across the lot, she’d been too excited to notice. 

Mathchomaroon, okeo.”   Sandor called out in greeting to Drogo as they walked towards each other, clasping hands and hugging, clapping their other hands on each other’s backs. “ San athchomari yeraan ha jin.” He told Drogo, as they let go and walked back towards the archway, where Sansa was standing. 

Yer zigereo ei jin rhellaya yer laz. ” Drogo thrusted his chin up in the air as he spoke, cocky, but playful towards Sandor. Sandor pushed him in the chest, managing to throw Drogo off balance, both laughing. 

Sandor looked at Sansa, his face relaxed, happy. He pointed a thumb towards Drogo, “I call him a friend, tell him thank you for doing this and he responds by telling me I need all the help I can get? I need to rethink my friends.” Sansa laughed, appreciating the casual translation by Sandor so she didn’t feel left out. She made a mental note to ask him how to say a few things in Dothraki later - she had always been intrigued by the language. 

“Drogo, hi!” She waved at him, a little awkward flap of the hand, unsure - she never knew when you knew someone enough to hug them in greeting. Drogo didn’t really seem like the type to accept hugs willingly from her so she decided an awkward wave was sufficient. She cleared her throat, “Thank you so much for doing this! I didn’t know you owned stables.” 

He turned and hit Sandor in the shoulder with a closed fist - Sandor didn’t move but it would’ve certainly knocked Sansa over. “ Yer tat vo astat mae ?” He muttered to Sandor, smiling, as he moved past them, through the archway. 

“No, I didn’t tell her anything,” Sandor responded, reaching for Sansa’s hand, interlacing their fingers and moving to follow Drogo. “It’s called a surprise, which neither of you seem to understand the point of - to surprise. ” He rolled his eyes, smiling at Sansa and shaking his head. He was playful, in a good mood. She loved it. 

“We don’t own stables, we just keep the horses here.” Drogo spoke in slightly broken, heavily- accented English as he led them down a pathway, voice tight, but friendly enough. 

The horse stalls were on their right, parallel vine-covered beams were overhead. A beautiful field was to her left past a wooden fence. She could see some stablehands guiding horses with leads around the property, farther back she saw a girl on a horse, riding it smoothly through an obstacle course with jumps and ramps. Past that was a huge forest of trees, leaves speckled with orange, red and brown. She looked at Sandor, face beaming, squeezing his hand with excitement. He smiled back at her, amusement in his eyes. 

Drogo stopped at a stall, rubbing his hand along the nose of a beautiful black horse. 

He was huge, gigantic really, but his eyes were soft, peaceful. He leaned in towards Drogo’s hand as he muttered to the horse in Dothraki. 

“He’s beautiful.” Sansa was in awe.

“This is Drogon, he’s Dany’s horse.” Sandor explained to her. 

Sansa crinkled her brow. “Drogon, like-?” She gestured to Drogo, who had gotten a carrot from a bucket hanging on the handle to Drogon’s stall. 

Haji mae dothralat anna .” Drogo's voice was strong, confident as he fed the carrot to Drogon with an open hand, petting his nose again after the horse accepted it eagerly.

Sandor huffed a laugh, closing his eyes, shaking his head. He looked at Sansa, bringing a hand up to scratch the back of his neck. “Uhh.. basically, she named the horse after Drogo because he’s her favorite thing to ride.” He watched her face, waiting for her reaction. 

Sansa cackled , surprised - she wasn’t expecting that answer at all. She raised a hand up to her mouth, covering it, face pink as she closed her eyes, trying to stop laughing. Sandor laughed fully then, taken aback by her reaction. She looked over at Drogo - he had finished feeding Drogon and was facing them with his hands on his hips. He shrugged, a cocky smile on his lips. It was very clear he loved his wife - they seemed like a good match. 

“Oh, how is Dany? And Rhaego?” She asked Drogo, mostly recovered from her laughter. 

“She is..” He trailed off, brows furrowed. He looked to Sandor, putting a hand up towards his own chest, moving it up and down where his sternum was. “ Aena yalli.” 

“Morning sickness?” Sandor said, “Dany’s pregnant?” 

Drogo nodded, a full smile on his face. 

“Holy shit!” Sandor moved to Drogo, clasping his hand and doing the same hug as before, although they held it a little longer, laughing together - Drogo looked overjoyed. 

Sandor pulled back from the embrace. “ Zhokwa davra vekhikh , that’s great news.” He stepped back to Sansa’s side, moving to hold her hand again. 

“Congratulations, Drogo! Please tell Dany I’m so happy for you both.” It was slightly awkward without giving him a hug, so she squeezed Sandor’s hand, bringing it in front of her, diagonally across her chest, moving her other hand to wrap up around the inside of his bicep. She was genuinely happy for Sandor’s friends, despite how awkward she felt.

Drogo nodded his head once, then cleared his throat, turning to go to the next stall down. There was a white horse inside, almost the same size as Drogon. 

“Viserion,” Drogo said. “My horse.” 

“He’s beautiful.” Sansa took a step closer to the stall door to look at him, but jolted back in surprise when Viserion’s hoof slammed against the wood door. 

Vo athostar!” Drago told him tersely. He stepped between her and the stall door, watching Viserion closely. After a moment, he turned slightly to Sansa. “Do not take it personal. He is angry at everyone.” 

“Not everyone.” Sandor came up to the stall, putting one hand on the top of the door, reaching in with the other, rubbing Viserion’s nose. The horse didn’t shy away from his hand, although he didn’t seem thrilled either. 

Sek haji yer hash jin zhokwa.” Drogo said, and Sandor laughed, kicking a foot out to hit Drogo, who dodged it easily. He turned to Sansa. “Your boyfriend is a big asshole so Viserion knows he cannot mess with him.” 

Sansa laughed, turning to watch Sandor with Viserion. He was rubbing the side of Viserion’s face, then under his chin - he didn’t seem like an asshole though. He was actually being soft with him, speaking low, moving his hand slowly up and down. He removed his hand, walking back to the bucket on Drogon’s stall door, grabbing two carrots from inside and walking back to Viserion’s stall. He held up one in his flat hand and Viserion took it, although roughly - not as graceful as Drogon was. 

“Sandor will ride this one.” He nodded his head to Viserion, then walked a couple steps to the next stall down. “Rhaegal is for you.”

He was a beautiful reddish-brown with a white stripe down the middle of his face, between his eyes. His mane was cut short - he was smaller than the other two, but still large. Drogo raised his hand up, rubbing him between the eyes gently - Rhaegal seemed amiable. Sandor nudged Drogo’s shoulder, handing him the extra carrot when Drogo turned. He held it out to Rhaegal, who took it happily. “He is our new one, three years old.” 

Drogo moved and gestured for Sansa to come forward so she did, raising her hand and rubbing Rhaegal between the eyes, down to his soft nose. She smiled when he pushed his face against her hand, impatient for more affection from her. “Did Rhaego name him?” 

Drogo huffed a laugh, nodding his head. “ Tat tikh allayafi anna," He raised a hand, gesturing to Drogon. "T o be like me.” It seemed like naming horses after family members was their tradition. Sansa smiled as she looked back at Rhaegal, whispering Hello Rhaegal as she rubbed him one last time before Drogo gestured to her that he wanted to open the stall. 

She backed up, getting out of the way as Drogo set to work getting Rhaegal ready for her. She looked over and saw Sandor already inside Viserion’s stall, putting a blanket on his back - which Viserion promptly reached back and pulled off with his mouth once Sandor had turned around to get the saddle. Sandor turned, saddle in hand, and paused, looking at Viserion’s bare back with confusion, then down at the ground. He scoffed, the humor in his face making Sansa laugh. He set the saddle back down, bent down to get the blanket off the ground, shaking it out before refolding it and putting it back on Viserion’s back. He kept a hand on it and reached out, trying to get the saddle with his other hand - Sansa stepped closer to help him, pausing once she remembered Viserion’s reaction to her last time she came too close. 

Eventually, Sandor got the blanket and saddle on, using both hands to tighten the strap that went under Viserion’s stomach, securing the saddle to his back. She enjoyed watching him get everything ready - clearly he was comfortable around horses. Although she had grown up with her own horse, Sansa's cheeks pinked when she remembered that whenever she wanted to ride growing up, the stablemen her parents employed got Lady ready, not her. 

She wasn’t embarrassed by her parent’s wealth - she was embarrassed by her own behavior as a child and teenager. By her own admission, she was spoiled. Although her parents were good parents in that they loved her dearly, she had almost everything she wanted handed to her growing up. She wasn’t complaining - it was a far better childhood than most had, she knew, but she didn’t think it did her any favors when it came to functioning in the world as an adult. 

After Sandor finished getting Viserion ready, he led him out of the stable by the reins, being sure to stay far enough away from Sansa that Viserion couldn’t kick her if he decided to try. Drogo led Rhaegal out and over to her - she thanked him as he handed her the reins - and he nodded to them both as he turned and walked back to the stables, walking up to Drogo’s stall and opening the door, disappearing inside. 

She led Rhaegal over to Sandor, giving Viserion a wide berth, coming up to Sandor’s side and raising herself up on her toes, kissing him on the cheek. His free arm wrapped around her waist, keeping her in place so he could turn his head and kiss her on the lips. She leaned into it, enjoying the feel of his lips on hers - and being able to do it out in the open without having to be mindful of Ollie - and he moved his lips against hers slowly before leaning back, looking at her. 

“This is so nice, thank you.” She kissed him again, chastely, before pulling back, adjusting the reins in her hands - Rhaegal had dipped his head down to eat some of the grass at their feet, pulling them a bit from her hands. She looked up at Sandor. “I need to think of a way to thank Drogo and Dany too, I can’t believe they’re letting us borrow their horses for the afternoon.” 

He looked over at her, playfully. “Maybe a picture of Rhaegal with a bowtie?” 

She laughed and her cheeks pinked - he had texted her that night after dinner to thank her for the gift and sent her a picture of it propped up on a shelf in his living room. 

Sandor looked at her, “Are you ready?” 

She nodded enthusiastically, moving around to Rhaegal’s side. Her muscles ached from the workout yesterday so she winced slightly as she put her left foot in the stirrup, swiftly swinging her right leg up and around to Rhaegel’s other side, securing her foot in the stirrup there. She adjusted the reins in her hands, sitting up a bit to find a comfortable spot in the saddle, then looked up at Sandor. 

He was staring at her, head tilted to the side, brows furrowed and an amused smile on his face. His mouth wasn’t gaping open - but it might as well have. She smirked at him and winked. 

Yeah, I know horses too. 

Sandor shook his head, looking down at the ground and blinking a bit before going to Viserion’s side and lifting himself up onto Viserion’s back, adjusting his reins, looking over at her. “Do you mind if I lead?” His eyes were lit up, teasing, amused at her surprising him. 

She laughed, pretending to consider the idea for a minute. They both knew she had no idea where to go from here. “No, I don’t mind.” 

He shook his head again, speaking elat to Viserion softly, who moved forward. She guided Rhaegal over to Viserion’s right side, almost nose to nose with them, keeping an eye on Viserion in case he had a problem with Rhaegal - he seemed ok with them both now that they were out of the stable area. 

Sandor led them along a wide path that ran next to fields that were bordered with black wooden fences, explaining that Drogo and Dany chose this particular stable to house their horses because of the extensive trails they had through the woods on the property. 

They passed the last of the fields and came to the treeline of the woods, where the path was more narrow. She fell in step behind him, enjoying the view of him on top of a horse. He was comfortable, at home. 

“So where in your adventures did you spend time with horses?” She felt a pang in her chest at the reminder that he was rather nomadic - but she still wanted to hear about his life.

Yesterday, after she recovered from her mortification at completely freaking out over him possibly abandoning her and Ollie, he assured her that he didn’t have any plans to move from Wolfswood - she was too afraid to ask if he had any plans not to move. Every time she thought about asking him what his thoughts were on staying, she had an image in her head that flashed like a neon light, ‘ It’s only been 8 days!’ . So instead, she enjoyed her time, decided to get to know him better - seeing if there was even a relationship here that she wanted to build on before freaking out about it all disappearing.  

“The farming family I lived with in Qarth, they had horses. I liked being around them, learning how to care for them.” He guided Viserion to the left side of a huge grouping of boulders, down the path into a little valley. 

“When I miss them, I come visit these fuckers.” He gestured to Rhaegal, bending forward to rub Viserion on the neck. She smiled at his open affection. 

“And you, Cowgirl?” He looked back and smirked at her then. 

She laughed, “I had a horse growing up, Lady. I loved riding her.” He raised his eyebrows at that, surprised. “My parents have stables on their property, all of us have a horse - or, had one at one point in time.” Her chest tightened briefly with grief. 

“Does Ollie ever ride?” His question made her smile. 

“Yes, he loves horses. He rides in front of me, or one of my siblings - usually Arya or Jon, although Arya goes too fast so I prefer Jon.” He huffed a laugh, having met both at the birthday party, although briefly - that day was chaotic. 

“Maybe next time we come, we can bring him. Rhaegal would be a good fit for you both to ride.” He looked at her over his shoulder, seeing what she thought of that idea - she grinned back. 

They had traveled down the short valley and the path widened significantly where it met a small stream. He guided Viserion to the side, making room for her to come up beside him. “You go ahead, Rhaegal doesn’t mind the water.” He grimaced. “Viserion might take some convincing.” 

She guided Rhaegal up to the creek - it was only a couple of inches deep, about 4 feet wide. He crossed it easily, even stopping in the middle to lower his head for a drink. She came to the other side, turning around to face Sandor, rubbing Rhaegal’s neck, whispering that she was proud of him even though she sensed his ease with water was more his natural reaction to it than a conquering of fear. 

She watched as Sandor got off of Viserion’s back, flipping the reins over the horse’s head and walking him up to the edge of the creek. Viserion’s eyes widened in fear, whinnying as his head jerked back, pulling Sandor’s hand up into the air as he held onto the reins. Viserion backed up - Sandor went with him, reaching up and putting his hand over the bridge of Viserion’s nose, speaking to him softly. 

Sansa grimaced - this wouldn’t be easy. 

Sandor rubbed his hand back and forth along the side of Viserion’s neck, whispering in Dothraki to him, trying to get him to calm down. He rubbed Viserion’s neck a final time before flipping the reins back, putting his left foot in the stirrup and swinging his right leg around, getting situated in the saddle. 

He gripped Viserion’s reins, bringing his hand higher up on them but not making it uncomfortable for the horse. He clicked his tongue, encouraging Viserion to turn to the left, then quickly back to the right, guiding him in a tight figure-eight pattern. Every time Viserion would catch a glimpse of the water, he would try to rear back, but Sandor would just click his tongue, and bring Viserion’s head back around, continuing the figure-eight shape. Gradually, he brought Viserion’s hooves closer to the creek, taking his time, edging him closer with each pass. One of Viserion’s hooves touched the water’s edge, and he didn’t flinch back in fear, too focused on turning tightly. Sandor continued, each pass having Viserion's hoof touch the water more than the last, then backing away, getting Viserion used to the idea.

Sansa, seeing what the plan was, moved Rhaegal over to the edge of the path, out of the way. Sandor looked up to see where she was, nodding when he saw that she had moved. He brought Viserion around a final tight curve, encouraging him closer to the water, then tightening his thighs and guiding Viserion across the water. Viserion, eyes wide, trotted across quickly, passing through the water and onto the path on the other side as Sandor pulled the reins back once to get Viserion to slow before they crossed into the woods.

“You did it, Viserion!” She was beaming at Sandor, who was patting Viserion on the neck, talking to him in Dothraki. She knew how to handle horses, but that showed a level of skill she hadn’t seen before. She was impressed. 

She guided Rhaegal over to Viserion’s side and reached out for Sandor’s hand. He grabbed her hand and squeezed, giving her a small smile before letting go and turning Viserion to continue on the path, Sansa guiding Rhaegal to walk along Viserion’s side. 

The rest of the ride was beautiful. The path eventually narrowed again, and Sandor gestured for her to go first, following behind her. 

They talked more about his time with horses, a little about her childhood and the stables at Winterfell. She remembered that she wanted to learn some Dothraki so she asked him about certain words, learning how to say things like ‘horse’ ( hrazef ), ‘boy’ ( rakh ), and ‘kiss’ ( zoqwa)

The trail eventually brought them back to the stable area, the horses picking up speed once they saw their home. Sansa laughed when Rhaegal began trotting happily towards the stable - their ride had been just under 2 hours, and although they kept the horses at a walking pace for it, stopping at other creeks that flowed throughout the property (not having to cross them, probably to Viserion’s relief) so the horses could drink, they were still tired, ready to go rest. 

Sansa dismounted Rhaegal’s back, flipping the reins over his head to walk him into the stall, rubbing his neck and cheek in appreciation - he really was a great horse. Sandor had put Viserion in his stall, closing him in briefly so he could take Rhaegal’s saddle off for Sansa (she wasn’t quite tall enough to do it, she had asked him for help) before going back to Viserion to take his saddle off too. Sansa looked around Rhaegal’s stall while he drank water from his trough and found a brush for him. She began brushing his back and sides - she had always done this with Lady when they were finished riding and she loved it. 

Sandor came around to the front of Rhaegal’s stall, having brushed Viserion and put away his saddle already, leaning with his forearms on the top of the door, watching Sansa work. 

“Sandor, I can’t even tell you how fun this date was. I really loved it, so much.” She kept brushing Rhaegal as she spoke, focused on her task. 

He huffed a laugh and she looked at him, setting the brush back where she found it. He leaned back, taking his arms down and moving to the side, opening the stall door so she could come out. “Date’s not over, Little Bird.” He was smiling, looking down at her. “Are you hungry?” 

- - -

Sansa leaned back on the park bench, hand over her stomach, sighing. “That was so delicious.” She had just finished her pita, full of heavily spiced chicken, rice, beans, and pineapple. "Thank you for showing me this place." The food truck Sandor had brought her to served delicious food from the Summer Islands. Sandor balled up his wrapper, having just finished his own pita full of a thick, flaky type of fish instead of chicken, and smiled at her.  He leaned back next to her, casually draping his arm across the back of the bench behind her. His fingers grazed her arm, moving up and down.

He looked over at her. “Well, now you have your next choice.”

She groaned playfully, turning her body to face him, one knee up on the bench, her shin laying flush against his thigh, the other foot down on the ground. She leaned her head to the side, using his arm like a pillow. “There’s more? How can this day get any better?” She hadn’t expected all this - he had put some real thought into their day together, even though she had just sprung this on him this morning. 

He hummed at that, watching her face. Then he shifted his gaze, looking at the sidewalk in front of them. “We can either go over to the drive-in, they’re showing a movie in.. “He looked at his watch. “35 minutes.” She pursed her lips, thinking. “Or we can take you back home, get some of your stuff and you come back to my place.” She lifted her head up, looking at him. She had thought he would stay at her place but this made more sense - Stranger would be alone all night, otherwise. 

“Oh, Stranger! He’s been cooped up all day, I’ve stolen you from him.” She winced, feeling bad. 

He shook his head, shifting his hips slightly towards her, getting more comfortable on the bench. “No, I asked my neighbors if their kid Shireen could come over and check on him. She’s twelve, loves taking him for walks when I get tied up.” 

She sighed, relieved. “Well, you’ve just thought of everything.” She smiled at him. 

He shrugged a shoulder, returning her smile. He put his balled up wrapped in his lap, bringing his hand up to her jaw, leaning towards her - she met his lips with hers, opening her mouth slightly to tease him with her tongue. He hummed, breaking away from her slightly. “Have to show you a good time, so you’ll keep me around.” He spoke it against her lips, she felt his breath on her mouth. She grinned, then pressed her lips to his again, simply, before pulling back. 

“Let’s go.” She stood up, holding her hand out to him. 

He took her hand, grabbing the wrapper with his other one, and stood up. “Did you decide what we’re doing?” He interlocked their fingers as they headed over to his truck. 

She had - she barely ever got out of the house by herself these days, really only when Ollie went to spend the night at his grandparents, so she was tempted to continue the night out by going to the drive-in, but she didn’t want to. 

“Take me home.” 

- - -

They walked through Sandor’s front door, Stranger standing in greeting, his tail swinging back and forth as he walked over to them. She squatted down to pet him, rubbing her hands along the sides of his neck, kissing him gently on the top of his head, as Sandor closed the door behind them. 

“He probably needs to go out.” Sandor told her as he walked towards the back, putting her duffle bag that was slung over his shoulder onto the couch, Stranger following quickly at his heels. Her stomach swooped when she eyed her bag - she was going to spend the night. 

Yes, she had already told him she wasn’t ready for sex, but she had been thinking about other things. She was hesitant to open herself up to him, physically, because she was scared, knowing that if she let him touch her body, and touched his in return, that would only deepen her emotional investment into him more. 

The conversation from last night ran through her mind - she looked over at the concrete island unconsciously. 

What if this is all some casual fling to him?

She sighed. It was all so complicated - made even more confusing because her son was also thrown into the mix. 

She walked towards the back door, Sandor had already opened it and was outside in the back throwing a ball with Stranger. 

It was a big grassy space, backed up to a wild mass of trees and bushes with huge trees and rocks all throughout the property, sporadically grouped - one group in the back corner had a large canvas hammock bolted up between two trees. 

Sansa walked over to the hammock, carefully climbing in, turning on her side using her arm as a pillow as she watched Sandor throw the ball with Stranger. When Stranger got tired, laying down with the ball to chew on it instead of bringing it back, Sandor walked over to her, nudging her legs with his hand so she lifted them up. He wedged himself under her and they shifted until she laid with her head on his chest, her hand resting up by her face, their legs all twined together. He had his fingers running through her hair mindlessly as they both looked up at the canopy of leaves above their head, hammock swinging slowly back and forth. 

She took a breath. “Sandor.. why are you single?”

He laughed a bit, still running his fingers through her hair. 

She shifted her head, looking up at him. His face was still pointed to the sky, he had his other arm bent behind his head for a pillow. “I just mean.. during all of your travels..” Her chest felt that pang again. “..did you ever date anyone?” 

He shifted, looking down at her then. His face was relaxed and his hand still moved through her hair. “Do you really want to hear about this, Little Bird?”

She shrugged. “Well, I mean, obviously I don’t love the idea of my boyfriend with women, but it’s all before we started dating.” She shifted so she was up on her elbow, able to see his face better. “I’m not jealous Sandor, I don’t expect you to have been some pure virgin before we met.” 

He huffed a laugh. “No, I’m not a virgin.” She nodded, expecting this. It didn’t bother her. He was 35, handsome, personable. She didn’t expect he would be lonely on his travels. 

“I had .. flings. Dated some. Nothing serious.” He shrugged.  “It was all pretty casual.”

Casual. 

She shifted, moving back so her head was on his chest. 

Did any of them feel like this? 

She wanted to ask him so badly, but that neon light in her head flashed again - ‘ It’s been 8 days!’

She took in a deep breath. 

Fuck it. 

“Did any of them feel like this?” 

She didn’t move to see his face - she wasn’t feeling that brave. She held her breath, closed her eyes as she waited for him to respond. 

His fingers had paused in her hair. He didn’t answer for a minute and Sansa’s stomach began to sink. 

“No, Little Bird. None of them felt like this.” 

She looked up, shifting so she could see him fully again. His eyes were locked on hers, his face genuine.

She released her breath, relief sweeping through her. No, it wasn’t a declaration that he would stay with her and Ollie forever and ever - but it was an acknowledgment that she wasn’t alone in this. That yes, it had only been 8 days but he felt that there was something special here too.

“This is different?” She pressed him for clarification, wanting to be sure they were on the same page. 

His fingers moved through her hair again. “Yes, Sansa. This is different.” 

Chapter Text

They laid in the hammock, kissing each other languidly. They were both on their sides, her laying with his arms around her. She had moved up, bringing her face closer to his, one of her hands was trapped between them, the other resting against his side, roaming down to his waist and back.  One of his arms was pinned under her body, hand resting on her ass, but the other was grazing her side and waist, exploring, taking his time. Their legs were twined together, her leg on top of his - he was still wearing jeans from their date but she had changed into a pair of cotton shorts when they stopped at her house, getting comfortable for the night.

She hummed as he moved his lips, his tongue against hers, enjoying getting lost in the taste and feel of him. His free hand came up to the back of her neck, holding her to him, and she tilted her head to the side, deepening the kiss. She felt a tendril of lust in her belly slowly unraveling - something about him always seemed to bring that alive in her. 

She grabbed a handful of his shirt, pulling him closer to her, hitching her leg up on his hips. He groaned, the pace of his lips speeding up, his breathing getting deeper. His free hand went down to her thigh, fingers tightening along the underside, pulling her lower body into his. 

She moaned then, feeling the tendril in her belly uncoil more. She shifted her hips against his, looking for friction and he responded by bucking softly back. 

“Sandor .” She spoke against his lips, getting eager. 

He hummed, breaking away from her. “Turn around, Little Bird.”

Not what she was expecting, she pulled her head back, looking at his eyes. They were dark, focused. He kissed her again, whispering turn around, Sansa against her lips

Slowly, so she didn’t fall off the hammock, she turned - first over onto her back, then shifting onto her other side in his arms so her back was pressed against his front. He wrapped an arm around her stomach, pulling her body into his so he was cocooning her - she felt his erection pressing into her back. 

“Sandor, no, I-” She was confused, she wanted to keep going, not stop. 

“Tell me I can touch you, Sansa.” His face was right next to hers, the arm that was around her stomach had dropped, his fingers just above the waistband of her shorts, stopped, waiting. 

Yes. Yes, Sandor.” 

He groaned at that, dipping his hand beneath her shorts, running his finger along her lips, over her panties. She gasped, pushing her head back against his shoulder. 

He brought his hand under her thigh, lifting and hooking it over his own legs, opening her up to him, giving himself access. He snaked his hand through the leg hole of her shorts, fingers under her panties, running them along her slit. She whimpered then, pushing back against his body, feeling him buck his hips against her, seeking friction. 

“Sandor, please.” She could feel the tendril solidifying, building. 

He groaned then, dipping two fingers inside her, just barely stretching her opening before pulling back out, getting his fingers wet before moving up, searching for her clit. He found it quickly, and she gasped again, feeling her body respond, her lust taking over her thoughts until she could only think Sandor, Sandor, Sandor. 

His hand moved at a steady pace, unchanging - fingers barely entering her, a wide swipe over her center before moving upwards to stroke her clit, circling it before moving back down. 

Her body was confused, in the best way, her hips bucking into his hand to match the rhythm he had set. She could feel her orgasm building, her breath hitching.  

She thinks she murmured his name but couldn’t be sure because her body finally released her tension, bursting as she moaned loudly, shocked as heat and relief spread through her body, running from her center through all of her limbs like molten liquid. 

Her body sagged back against his as she recovered, panting. She could feel his lips on her shoulder, kissing softly, - she hummed, satisfied, as his hand trailed his fingers over her stomach gently, letting her recover. 

She turned her head towards his, wanting his lips on hers even though the angle was awkward. His eyes looked over her face before he pressed his lips against hers and she brought her hand up to the back of his head, pulling him as close as she could before getting frustrated at how little of him she could reach. 

She sat up and swung her legs out of the hammock, feeling his hand on her back as he helped push her forward so she could stand. She turned around, held her hand out to him. He ran his gaze over her face again before taking it, moving to the side of the hammock before standing up and she smiled at him before guiding him back into his studio, him whistling for Stranger to come inside. 

He closed the door behind them as she led him to the couch. She pushed him down, straddling his hips as he huffed a laugh at her eagerness. 

“Sandor, that was…” She didn’t have words, but she could feel his length constrained in his jeans so she rubbed herself on it and he hissed, the laughter on his face changing into lust again as he brought his hand up to the back of her neck pulling her towards him for a hard kiss. 

“Sansa. ” He spoke against her lips. 

She nodded, understanding. “Show me - show me what you like.” 

She moved off of him, sitting on her knees facing his lap as he unbuckled his jeans, lifting his hips to pull them down over his thighs, setting his erection free. 

It was large, not surprising given his size, seeping precum from the head and hard , looking nearly painful. Her hand was on him immediately, wanting to give him some relief, but her movements were awkward, not used to touching him yet. He was breathing hard, mouth slightly open, eyes focused on her hand as he brought his up to engulf hers, guiding her hand into a rhythm he liked. He closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the couch, sighing in relief as he let her hand go - she had caught on quickly. 

She rubbed her hand up and down, but it was dry - she heard him make a type of choking sound as she surprised him by taking his head into her mouth, sucking gently, before letting it loose with a pop. 

Sansa. ” He breathed her name, sinking further into the couch as she set on him with her mouth and hand working in tandem - he was too large to fit him entirely in her mouth. She bobbed her head up and down, avoiding her teeth hitting his skin as she sucked him, her hand gripping him under her mouth, twisting back and forth, now lubricated from her saliva dripping down him. She moved her mouth down, taking in as much of him as she could, and hummed , bringing her other hand up to switch places so she could reach down and gently tug his balls with her now free hand. 

He groaned, bucking his hips up into her mouth slightly, and she hummed again in approval. He did it again - she could tell he was building. 

Sansa, I’m gonna cum.” His voice was tight, restrained. 

She nodded as best she could, humming so he knew she heard him, appreciating the warning but not stopping her movements. 

She felt him explode into her mouth and she swallowed - still moving her mouth up and down his length, although slower, as he groaned loudly, his hand on the back of her head, his fingers in her hair. 

She released him with a final pop, and he shivered as she sat up, smiling at him. He was languid, his eyes half closed with a lazy grin on his face. He reached up and put a hand on the back of her neck, bringing her to him so he could kiss her, tongue opening her mouth, tasting her. Her hands were on his chest, more for balance than anything, but she enjoyed his eagerness. 

“Sansa.” He didn’t say anything else, but his face was lit up, still relaxed but happy. 

She giggled at him, still satisfied and in disbelief from her own release just moments before. She moved, situating herself so she sat curled in his side, his arm around her shoulders as he leaned his head back against the couch again, eyes closed as he sighed. 

- - -

She was woken up hours later by her bladder, opening her eyes to almost complete darkness - only the moonlight coming in from the giant windows on the opposite wall illuminating the room. She was confused for a moment - the last thing she remembered was being on the couch, tucked into Sandor’s side but now she was laying flat, in Sandor’s bed, him sleeping peacefully next to her on his back, arms up by his head. Their legs were intertwined, but their bodies were spread out, similar to a V shape. 

She looked at Sandor, half of his face was blocked by his arm but he still looked peaceful, handsome. She smiled, feeling her chest tighten with affection. 

She folded back the blanket, swinging her legs off the side of the bed, wincing as her bare feet touched the cold concrete floor. She bent down to pet Stranger on his own bed - he had raised his head to look at her when she stood up. She walked softly around the bed, over towards the bathroom, unhooking her bra behind her back, pulling it up and out the front of her tank top and flinging it somewhere into his room, still half-asleep and angry at the underwire digging into her ribs. 

She rinsed her hands after relieving herself, drying them on the hand towel that was on the counter before padding back to bed, crawling in and snuggling up to Sandor’s side. He groaned sleepily - her hands were cold from the water and she had put them on his chest as she settled down, head and arm laying across him, body pressed against his side. He dropped one arm down to come around her back, squeezing her to him tightly once before resting again, not waking up fully. 

She smiled to herself as she drifted back to sleep, warm and comfortable. 

- - -

She was woken next by something tickling her across her neck and collarbone. She swiped her hand at the sensation before opening her eyes to find Sandor propped up on his elbow, smiling easily down at her - he had kissed her softly on her collarbone to wake her, his hair grazing her skin. She smiled back and sighed, stretching her body, arching her back - it was barely morning, the sky a very faint light blue in the windows. 

He hummed when she sighed. She looked down at him and he was eyeing her peaked nipples through her tank top - it was a chilly morning. She forgot she’d thrown her bra off in the middle of the night, but couldn’t find herself to be embarrassed - he was looking at them like he was hungry. His eyes met hers and she nodded, faintly, barely, breath caught in her chest. 

He leaned down, mouthing her nipples through her shirt. He sucked lightly, barely letting his lips touch her before pulling away, bringing his mouth down again, repeating, making her breath quicken. He used his teeth, grazing her nipple lightly and she gasped, arching up into his mouth. 

He snaked his hand under her shirt, just barely brushing his fingertips on her bare stomach, lighting her skin on fire where he touched. She whimpered then, and he took the hem of her shirt in his hand, looking up to assess her face before pulling it up, exposing her skin to the cold air. She leaned up, helping him as he brought it up and over her head. She laid down again, watching his face - she knew her skin was marked, mostly thin, light scars crossing her stomach, with one wide ribbon, cutting diagonally across her skin. He didn’t stop to look though, focused on his task. 

He had climbed over her, his body weight resting on his own forearms, his legs up on his knees on either side of her body,  his face even with her chest. He took her nipple in his mouth, humming, and she gasped, arching into it again. He flicked his tongue, swift and strong as he sucked gently before letting it go with a small pop. He mouthed her breast lazily, moving from one to the other side, coming up under instead of going straight for her nipple, running his tongue along the sensitive underside of her breast. She was squirming now, sighing, shifting her hips, trying to get him to lower his body down on her but he only hummed in amusement.

He wouldn’t be rushed. 

He moved his hand to her side, trying to keep her still while he explored. He finally ran his tongue up, around her other nipple as she arched, moaning, lust sparking wildly in her belly. 

He grazed his teeth on her, sucking briefly before leaving her nipple to move downward. He kissed in a random pattern, not following the lines of her scars - just moving, wandering to explore her . She closed her eyes as sudden tears built up, relieved at him not giving her past a voice in this moment they shared. 

His hands moved down her body, fingers dragging along her skin, gripping her hips as his mouth finally made its way down to the top of her shorts. He stopped then, putting his chin on her stomach as he looked up at her, eyes blazing but waiting, small smile on his lips.

She looked back at him - no one had ever put their mouth on her before. She wasn’t nervous though, she was ready , so she nodded, moaning his name as his fingers came to the top of her shorts, pulling them down briskly, completely, until they passed her feet and were off on the floor somewhere. 

He laid flat on his stomach then - she tried to move her body up on the bed so his feet didn’t hang off the edge but his hands on her hips stilled her, his eyes locked on her center. He wedged his shoulders under her legs, hands wrapped around her thighs, spreading her open for him. 

The first swipe of his tongue had her gasping, her eyes closing, head pressing back into the pillow. She had no idea this type of sensation existed - immediate and complete yearning for him to keep going, not stopping until the orgasm she could feel building erupted from her skin. 

He drew his tongue up her slit lazily, slowly. He would dip his tongue down into her center, but never going near her clit. She whined, pushing her hips up against his mouth, trying to force him to soothe her but he just hummed against her, amused. 

“You taste good, Little Bird.” His voice was deep - he had brought his head up to look at her, writhing and under his spell. 

“You’ll have to let me know how I taste when I cum .” She was frustrated, the building lust in her body having been halted at a pause. He laughed at that against her, she felt his breath on her. He hummed in agreement as he moved his mouth back to her, still slower than she wanted. 

“Sandor, more.” She bucked her hips against his mouth again, done with his teasing. He increased the pressure then, bringing up a finger to enter her slowly as his tongue swiped up towards her clit.

Yesss, yes , please”  Her eyes were squeezed closed, hands fisting the sheets tightly, thighs beginning to shake from the mounting tension. 

He lapped at her eagerly now, moving his finger inside her deeply, bringing it to her entrance to circle around before pushing back into her while his tongue worked her clit as she repeated his name over and over. 

Her body crested - shattering, melting her body as she came. She had arched her back, bringing her hands down to grab his head, shoulders, anything to center herself. 

He licked her slowly as she came down from her high, until she lightly pushed his head away, too sensitive. He laughed softly, wiping his face off on the shoulder of his shirt as he crawled up her body, coming to rest next to her, pulling her body into his as he spooned her. 

Sandor .” She could only breathe his name, still trying to catch her breath, her chest rising and falling. 

He hummed at that, nuzzling his face in the curve of her neck. His hands roaming across her stomach, not with any intent, just enjoying the feel of her. 

“No one’s ever done that before.” She spoke softly, not wanting to bring the moment down but thinking he should know - what he just did meant something to her. 

His hands stilled at her words, and he moved slightly so he could roll her over on her back, assessing her face. His eyes were curious, his mouth relaxed as he looked at her. 

She smiled at him. “It ..was wonderful, if that helps.” She laughed awkwardly. He didn’t look upset but she wasn’t sure what he was thinking. 

He smiled then, his amusement reaching his eyes as he ran his thumb along her cheek, down to her jaw. She met him as he leaned down, lips opening, running her tongue along his as his mouth opened to her. 

She pushed his shoulder, wanting him to roll on his back. She straddled his lower stomach, looking down at him. He had one arm bent behind his head, the other hand was resting on the outside of her thigh. She smiled at him, and he smiled back, watching her. She raised herself up on her knees reaching between her thighs to grab the hem of his shirt, pulling it up and above his head once he sat up to help her take it off, throwing it to the floor. He leaned back down and she admired his chest, running her hands through the short chest hair, gliding a finger along the trail that led into his shorts. She felt his erection against her ass, he hissed as she tilted her hips, pushing against him. She smirked at him, moving off his body, briefly, to pull at his shorts until they too were thrown somewhere in the room.   

She hesitated for a moment to consider lowering herself down on him fully before ultimately deciding she wasn’t quite ready. Instead she put a hand on his thigh, pulling it towards her so he knew to open his legs as she settled herself on her knees between his thighs. He hummed when she took him in her hand, closing his eyes and breathing in deeply through his nose. He opened them back up though, to watch her as she lowered her mouth onto him, taking him in as deep as she could immediately. He put his fingers in her hair then, groaning her name, as she moved her mouth up and down, sucking once she reached the top, her hand holding him still. She found a rhythm, bringing her other hand up to tug on his balls again since he liked that so much earlier, moving her mouth over his length, swirling her tongue over his head once she reached the top. 

His hips bucked into her mouth, his grip in her hair tightening just a little, and she sucked, hollowing her cheeks. 

“Sansa..” His voice was deep, cracked.

She nodded, keeping her movements steady, wanting to feel him come undone. 

Her mouth filled as he groaned, raising his hips off the bed, head thrown back against the pillow with his eyes squeezed tight. She could see the tendons in his next flexing as she slowed her movements, licking the last of his cum from his head. 

She sat up, a satisfied smile on her face at seeing him trying to catch his breath, recovering. He opened his eyes, finding hers before widening his eyes and letting out a deep breath, making her laugh. 

“Good morning, Sandor.”

Chapter Text

Monday, Sept 25th - 3:14pm

“Mama, can we go to the bakery and get a snack?” Ollie had his hands clasped together under his chin, the picture of innocence. 

Sansa pulled her phone out of her back pocket, checking the time. “Oh, Coach Clegane is going to be here any second to help me put up these shelves, baby. Can you wait?” She stuck her phone in her back pocket as his little shoulders slumped, disappointed, but nodding his head. 

“Oh, I can go with him! I need a break from staring at this anyway.” Margaery stood up from her workspace, taking off the glasses she used to focus on fine details and stood, rubbing her hands over her eyes. “I feel like I’ll go cross-eyed if I look at it any longer.” 

“YAY! Me and Aunt Margie!” Oliver raised his hands in the air, exuberant. 

Sansa laughed, running her hand through his hair as he walked by her over to Margaery, grabbing her hand and walking out of the shop with her. 

Hi Coach Key-gane! I’m going to get a doughnut!” She heard Ollie’s muffled voice through the glass. She turned to look out the front windows and saw Sandor walking up to the door, one hand carrying a small tool bag, the other waving at Ollie and Margaery as they walked over to the bakery. He grabbed the door handle and came into the shop, eyes finding her quickly, smiling. 

“Hi.” She was blushing, she was sure, as thoughts of yesterday ran through her head. After their wake up yesterday morning, they spent most of their time in bed, exploring, talking, taking breaks to escape to the kitchen to eat before falling back in bed together until it was time for her to go pick up Ollie. They didn’t have sex but she didn’t feel like that diminished the fun - Sandor was very talented with his fingers and mouth. 

“Hmm, I wonder what you’re thinking about.” He was standing close now, running his thumb over her darkened cheek, smirking. 

“Hmm, I wonder.” She smiled back, raising herself up to kiss him on the lips, one hand going to his chest for balance. He pressed back against her mouth, putting one hand against the small of her back, then breaking away, winking at her before turning to set his toolbag down on the floor by the alcove. 

He knelt down, digging in his bag as she turned, going back to organizing her materials for the current project she was working on - her and Margaery just started selling embroidery kits on their Etsy page, little packages that had a pattern and all the materials a customer would need to make their own creation. They were selling really well so she had lots of orders to fill. 

Sandor’s hand came from behind her, holding out a simple daisy in front of her. 

“Happy first day in your own space, Little Bird.” He kissed the side of her neck.

She beamed as she took it, bringing it to her nose and turning to watch him walk back to his bag. 

- - -

Tuesday, Sept 26 

Sandor [6:37pm] - what are you doing sunday

Sandor [6:37pm] - and do you still hate sports

Sansa [6:40pm] - 😒😷

Sandor [6:41pm] - lol

Sandor [6:41pm] - does that change if your boyfriend is playing

Sansa [6:42pm] - Oooo, yes!! Now I’m very interested. 🎉🎉

Sandor [6:42pm] - wow 2 emojis i feel honored 

Sansa [6:43pm] - I can make it 3 if you’re shirtless when you play.. 

Sandor [6:43pm] - gotta wear a jersey little bird

Sandor [6:43pm] - you can take it off me after though if you want

Sansa [6:44pm] - 🎉🎉🎉

- - -

Wednesday, Sept 27th - 5:32pm

“Umm, it absolutely does matter.” She huffed as she threw her package of Oreos into the cart with a little more force than she intended. “They could’ve lived together happily ever after!”

He shook his head at her, amused. “I don’t think it’s a matter of if he would’ve fit, it was a buoyancy issue.” He pushed the cart, turning into the next aisle. 

“It wasn’t a buoyancy issue! He barely even tri- No, Ollie, put that back- tried to get up on the door, did you notice?” She put her hands on her hips, stopping next to him when he paused to look at something on the shelves. 

“No, I remember he tried to get on and the door started to tip over. Rose would’ve died.” He picked up a box of muffin mix, then grimaced and put it back on the shelf. 

“All I’m saying is, if you had a choice between pos- No, Ollie, you have those at home- possibly dying in this freezing cold water waiting for a rescue boat or trying to figure out a way for you both to fit on the door, wouldn’t you want to at least try a couple more times?” She picked up a bag of marshmallows and threw it in the cart. 

He eyed the bag, grimacing again. Then he looked over at her, lips pursed, thinking. “Maybe the point the writers were trying to make was that he was willing to die to ensure she could live.” He put a jar of organic almonds into the cart. “Showing the audience that it really was true love after all.” He pushed the cart forward, leaving Sansa behind with her eyes wide, mouth agape.

After a moment, she ran to catch up to him. “Wait, wait - did you watch the Mythbusters episode? Because - No, Ollie, that has too much sugar in it- because in the Mythbusters episode, they proved that it actually wasn’t a buoyancy issue at all, in fact... ”

Sandor groaned. 

- - -

Thursday, Sept 28th

Sansa [6:57am] - Good morning, Sandor 

Sansa [6:57am] - 

Sandor [7:02am] - damn little bird

Sandor [7:02am] - that coffee looks pretty good

Sansa [7:03am] - 😒

Sandor [7:04am] - can i come taste it tonight

Sansa [7:05am] - That depends. Are you going to sip it slow or gulp it down?

Sandor [7:05am] - might actually lap it up instead

Sansa [7:06am] - Ollie goes to bed at 8, you better be here at 8:01. 

- - -

Friday, Sept 29th 

Sandor [10:35am] - little bird i need your help

Sansa [10:36am] - Omg Sandor are you ok? 

Sandor [10:36am] - yeah im fine O is fine too

Sandor [10:36am] - they just emailed about a fucking pointless staff meeting right after school today

Sandor [10:37am] - I textd my neighbors but shireen has a swim meet and cant walk stranger 

Sandor [10:37am] - are you free

Sansa [10:37am] - Of course!! Absolutely. Do you have a key hidden?

Sandor [10:38am] - no ill have to give you mine after school when you come get O

Sandor [10:38am] - s will be fine until school gets out, hes used to it

Sansa [10:39am] - Do you want us to bring him home with us? Ollie would love it, and you can just come to my house after your meeting to get him and your key back. 

Sandor [10:40am] - that would be great

Sandor [10:40am] - thank you Sansa

- - -

Sansa [2:10pm] - 

Sansa [2:10pm] - Got Stranger!! 

Sansa [2:10pm] - See you at home later! 😍

- - -

Saturday, Sept 30 

Sandor [1:17pm] - howd aryas cake turn out

Sansa [1:19pm] - 

Sansa [1:19pm] - Mom was horrified that I put the fake blood on it, but Arya thought it was hilarious 

Sandor [1:20pm] - fuck that looks awesome

Sandor [1:20pm] - well you gave her what she asked for thats for sure

Sansa [1:21pm] - Yeah, when someone says they want a ‘fucking hardcore cake’, I deliver! 😂

Sandor [1:21pm] - good job little bird

Sandor [1:22pm] - how did it taste though

Sansa [1:22pm] - omg Sandor that was one time! I made sure I was careful!

Sandor [1:23pm] - if arya was really hardcore she wouldve eaten some lemon saltblocks 

Sansa [1:23pm] - I mean.. That’s true. 😂😂😂

Sandor [1:25pm] - what time do you and O come back to town

Sansa [1:26pm] - Late 😫 

Sansa [1:27pm] - Are you still coming over tomorrow so we can ride to the game together?

Sandor [1:28pm] - yeah s and i will be at your place around 830

Sansa [1:29pm] - We’ll be ready!! 🎉🎉🎉

- - -

Sunday, Oct 1st

Sansa zipped up her jacket and opened the passenger door on Sandor’s truck. “Ollie, don’t forget to put your jacket back on, it’s chilly.” 

RUGBY! RUGBY! RUGBY!” Ollie was standing next to the truck, chanting and raising his fists into the air in his short-sleeve shirt as Stranger excitedly circled him. 

“Ollie. Listen.” She pointed to the open door in the back where he had just sprung free from the truck, his jacket laying haphazardly across the floorboard. 

“Yes, Mama!” He kept chanting as he walked back to the truck, climbing up the step attached to the truck and grabbing his jacket quickly before jumping back down on the ground, beginning to put his arms through the sleeves. 

She smiled and shook her head at him - he had always loved sports, much to her chagrin. She turned back to the truck, standing as she looked through her bag that was on the passenger seat. 

Ok, Ollie’s snacks, check. Water bot-

“Mama, I can’t do the zip part.” He was standing hunched over, a piece of the zipper in each hand, trying fruitlessly to get it together. 

“Come here, Ollie, I’ll help you with that zipper.” Sandor had been at the back of the truck so he could grab the camp chairs they had brought to sit in.

Sandor came around to Ollie, kneeling and speaking softly, explaining how to get the pieces to line up before showing him and zipping the jacket up neatly, Stranger sitting next to them, watching his hands with his head tilted. Sansa’s chest tightened with affection as she watched them together. 

“Thank you Coach Key-gane! There’s Rhaego! Can I go over to him, Mama?” Sansa looked over and saw Drogo, Dany and Rhaego piling out of their truck on the other side of the lot. 

“Uhh…” That’s kind of far, with all these cars moving around..

Sandor came over to stand at her side, speaking softly. “I can go with him if you’d like, I need to talk to Drogo about one of our plays anyways.” He shrugged a shoulder, casual, while he waited for her to decide. 

“Um, yeah. Actually, that would be great.” 

He nodded, smiling at her. He squeezed her hand in his before turning to walk to Ollie. “Ok, let’s go over to the Khals." He whistled at Stranger for him to follow along. "Here, Ollie, you carry this for me.” He reached over the side of the truck bed, grabbing 3 camp chairs, slinging 2 over his shoulder before handing one to Ollie. 

“OOOOF, this is way too big, Coach Key-gane! I can’t carry this!” Ollie had the camp chair laying across his arms, struggling to keep it balanced.

Sandor laughed at him, kindly. “Here, try it like this.” He took the chair and put the strap over his head, laying the strap across his chest, the chair resting diagonally across his back. It was almost as tall as him. “There, now you look like Robin Hood.” 

Sandor took Ollie’s hand as they began to walk across the parking lot, Stranger at their side.

“What’s a robin hood?” Ollie looked up at Sandor, his face crinkled. 

Sandor laughed again. “He’s a person, he was this good guy who..”

Sansa couldn’t hear what they were saying anymore as they walked away, she just stood there feeling her chest constrict, almost painfully.

Refusing to analyze her feelings, she turned back to her bag, checking to make sure she had everything instead.  

 

Chapter Text

Friday, Oct 6 - 2:02pm

 

 

- - - - - - - - - - Sandor POV - - - - - - - - - -

 

Sandor heard her say his name right after he’d said good-bye to Mr. Hardyng and his daughter.

He turned, immediately feeling concerned when he saw her face - her normal joy that seemed to seep out of her pores was dulled, her expression sad, stressed. Her arms were crossed against her chest - he reached a hand out to hold her arm right above her bent elbow, his thumb rubbing in small circles, trying to comfort. 

“Sansa, what’s wrong?” He hadn’t seen her like this - normally she beamed when she saw him at pick up.

“Nothing serious.” She reached her hands up to her face, rubbing her eyes, muttering this is so stupid

“Hey,” His voice was soft, feeling really worried now. “It’s not stupid. What happened?” 

She brought her hands down to her sides abruptly, a frustrated look on her face now. “Nothing like- I mean, I’m fine technically. I’m just so stressed . You know that big order we got Wednesday?”

Relief that she was physically safe flowed through him as he nodded his head - she had texted him a couple days ago about some bride in White Harbour that ordered 50 handkerchiefs with a design embroidered in the corner as keepsakes for her VIP guests. A hand-embroidered handkerchief as a wedding favor for only some of your guests sounded pretty fucking pretentious to him but he was happy she was getting business. If some rich fucker wanted to spend an obscene amount of money on her talent- well, all the better for her. 

She sighed. “Well, I’ve been working non-stop as much as I can, even bringing the materials home with me so I could work after Ollie goes to bed. I have to have them at the post office by tomorrow at 5pm - I looked it up and that’s the absolute latest I can drop them off in order for her to get them in time and I just- I don’t think we’re going to make it. Margaery is trying to help as much as she can but she has that fever so it’s really just all on my shoulders.” 

She brought her hands up to her face again, rubbing her eyes, looking like she was about to start crying. He didn’t like seeing her like this - at all. “This bride is just.. She’s like an influencer on instagram and I mean- I don’t really care about follows and stuff but it would be a lot of exposure for the shop and if I had to cancel it.. It would just look really bad and I’m worried she’ll bad mouth us and then all her followers or whatever will come after us and our business will collap-” 

“Sansa.” He put his hand on her shoulder, pausing her meltdown before it could really get started. He was focusing all his strength on not showing his amusement at her spiral, always coming to the most dramatic conclusion. He loved when she got all huffy - but this time it seemed like a big issue. He wanted to help, of course, but was at a loss - he could do a lot but he couldn’t embroider worth a damn. “What do you need?”

She sighed again, shrugged her shoulders glumly. “I already talked to my parents about taking Ollie this weekend, but they can’t meet me halfway until like noon tomorrow so it’s basically pointless because not only would Ollie be in my space all morning, but then I would have to stop and drive him out there and it’s really just taking up more time that I just don’t have and I jus-”

“Sansa.” 

Gods, she’s charming as fuck when she talks fast like that.

He saw the easy solution. He brought his hand up to her jaw, tilting her chin with his thumb so she would look at him  “Call your parents so they’ll come get Ollie - I’ll meet them halfway tomorrow.” 

She blinked, then shook her head, pulling her chin back from his hand in the process. He put his hand down and tilted his head at her while she protested. “What? No! No- I couldn’t ask you to do that.” 

He smiled at her, then paused, thinking. “Do you trust me to take him?” Shit, I didn’t think about that. 

She looked up at him then, confused. “What? Of course I do. It’s just.. asking a lot of you.” 

He huffed a laugh, shaking his head good-naturedly, putting his hands on his hips now. “Why is it you’re so surprised when I do something nice or try to help you, Little Bird?” His tone was relaxed - he wasn’t mad. She was just always so caught off guard when he did things that felt natural to him - to protect, provide, or make her and Ollie happy.  It’d been that way ever since he tasted that fucking terrible lemon bar. 

Sansa thought for a moment, then shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not sure - I guess I’ve never had a reliable partner before.” She looked up at him, a look of realization on her face - like she had just realized the reason herself. 

Hmm, fair enough. Can’t really fault her for that. 

“Is this what it’s like, having a reliable partner?” She was still looking up at him. 

He scoffed, looking down and kicking an acorn with his shoe. “Fuck if I know Little Bird, this is my first time, too.” He said it without thinking, really - but it was true. Sansa had always been reliable, consistent. She was unpredictable in that he never knew what the fuck she was going to say next but she had never flaked on him or made him feel like she was taking advantage of him. 

Huh. Interesting. 

She smiled at him then, not exactly back to her normal beam of happiness but it was closer. He felt good about that. 

She took a deep breath, holding it for a second before letting it go in one big rush. “Well, ok then. Ummm so, I’ll call them and tell them that you’ll be there at noon. You can meet me at the house at like, 11:15 tomorrow? I’ll text you the address where we meet, plus I’ll have to get his bag all ready..” She trailed off, eyes staring at the trees around them, unfocused. 

There she goes, making a fucking checklist in her head again. 

He smiled at her, his lips twitching in amusement. Then he had a thought. “No, Little Bird. I’ll be there at 9 tomorrow.” 

She looked at him, brow crinkled. 

“I can take Ollie to the park first, get him out from under your feet so you can work. I can either feed him before we meet your parents or you can pack food if you don’t want him eating noodles for lunch.” He smiled at her, actually looking forward to spending time with Ollie tomorrow. 

He had never wanted kids - he liked them, obviously, but having a kid would really make his lifestyle harder. Ollie didn’t make him feel weighed down though. He liked all the crazy shit that came out of that kid’s mouth, seeing the world through his eyes, watching him enjoy just being a kid - like how a childhood should be lived. 

Sansa looked like she wanted to refuse, but they both knew she would need all the time she could get to finish that order - plus, they had just admitted they were reliable partners to each other, and reliable partners helped each other out, especially when they really needed it. 

“Ok.” She smiled up at him, this time beaming. 

There it is. 

His chest felt tight with a feeling he couldn’t really identify. 

- - - 

Saturday, Oct 7 - 9:16am

“Ok, bye!! Have so much fun, Ollie!!” She waved good-bye from her front porch again for the 76th time as Sandor pulled out of her driveway, Ollie buckled safely in his booster seat in the back. Sandor had lowered all the windows and she could see Ollie waving, barely visible behind Stranger standing up in the backseat, tongue lolling in the wind. 

She had thanked Sandor so many times that morning while she ran around, packing some final things for Ollie’s bag, that he finally cut her off, saying she was forbidden to thank him anymore. 

We’re reliable partners, after all. 

She smiled to herself, beamed really, as she walked through her front door, closing it behind her and looking around her living room, flipping up pillows on the couch, trying to find her phone - she wanted to get to the shop, preferring to work in that space rather than sitting hunched over on her couch. 

Thanks to Sandor, she believed she would get everything completed in time, possibly even making it to the post office earlier than her deadline. She had told Sandor that - also that she had worked into the night and woke up early before Ollie did so she could get a lot of it done and he wouldn’t necessarily have to take Ollie for her. He just shook his head, kissed her on the temple and asked Ollie if he wanted to come outside to help him transfer his booster seat to Sandor’s truck. 

Before he left, he told her to come over to his studio, if she wanted, after she left the post office and they could hang out, since Ollie was spending the night at Winterfell.

She shook her head at his thoughtfulness - he was honestly remarkable. He always seemed to put her and even Ollie’s needs on the same level as his own. He didn’t seem to be quick to anger, certainly didn’t get frustrated easily - if he could teach elementary P.E., he was basically made of patience. 

She sighed as she finally found her phone, hidden inside her tote bag she used to bring materials home from the shop. She checked a final time to make sure she had everything, grabbing her keys from the bowl she kept them in on the kitchen counter, thinking again about Sandor, smiling as she pictured his face, thought of how he told her they were partners, and she finally let herself think what she had known for days now. 

I love him. 

Chapter Text

Saturday, Oct 7 - 3:42pm

Sandor opened his front door, head tilted as he smiled at her. 

She sighed. “Hi.” 

She was exhausted, felt like she wasn’t even coherent enough to form any words other than the one. 

He huffed a laugh. “Hi.” 

He held his hand out and she took it, both walking into the house as he shut the door behind them. Stranger stood from his spot on the rug to greet her, tail wagging, nudging his nose into her other hand for affection. She weakly told him hi , letting go of Sandor’s hand to rub Stranger’s head and ears as she toed her shoes off by the front door. 

She made her way into the living room, dropping her duffle bag somewhere on the floor as she shuffled to his couch. She flopped on it face-first - she knew it was dramatic but she was tired . She had just completed the biggest order she had ever filled, all by herself - which she didn’t hold against Margaery, not like she did it on purpose - but still. Her hands felt raw, her eyes throbbed and she was dead to the world before she could even- 

- - - 

She woke hours later. It was daylight when she had arrived, but now she couldn’t see anything out of the windows in his living room. She did see a glow though, and she turned her head to see Sandor’s TV on, displaying a man in a business suit loudly declaring bankruptcy in front of a wall of office supplies. She was laying on his couch, a pillow under her head, blanket thrown over her and her feet in Sandor’s lap, Stranger asleep on the rug in front of them. Sandor had turned to look at her when she stirred, smiling softly as he gave her time to realize what was going on, brain still foggy from her sleep.  

“Every time I sit on this couch, I seem to wake up hours later.” Her voice was groggy and her mouth tasted like a dumpster - she grimaced as she swallowed. 

“It’s a good couch.” He shrugged. 

“Yeah, or maybe it’s the company.” She countered. 

“Oh so, I bore you to sleep?” He raised an eyebrow, challenging.

She laughed at that. “Read into it what you want.”  She poked him in the chest with her foot. ”I’m just saying, I seem to spend a lot of time here asleep.” 

He hummed at that, taking her foot in his hand, rubbing it, while he considered her words. “I’d say you’d spend a lot of time awake here, too.” His eyes darkened slightly, teasing her. 

She smiled at him. She saw the look in his eyes - and she wanted to respond to it  - except her mouth still tasted terrible, and she had to pee. 

She began to sit up, moving the blanket off of her. “Right now I need to spend some time in your bathroom with my toothbrush.” 

He barked a laugh at that, shaking his head as he lifted his hands up so she could get her feet free. She stood up from the couch, stretching with her arms above her head and she felt his fingers graze the side of her thigh.

She lowered her arms as she looked over at him - he didn’t say anything, just pulled her hand gently towards him, laying his forehead against her stomach when she stood in front of him, his hands moving to the backs of her thighs. She ran her fingers through his hair, scraping her nails lightly on his scalp and he hummed, leaning into the sensation like a cat. She smiled.

I love him.

She stood, enjoying the moment for a while before she backed up and he let her go, dropping his hands and smiling softly at her before she turned, bending to grab her bag from the floor next to the couch, making her way to the bathroom. 

She relieved herself and brushed her teeth quickly, feeling somewhat better. She didn’t feel tired anymore, but she couldn’t exactly remember the last time she showered and she felt gross. 

She smirked to herself, getting an idea and kneeling down to pull her phone out of her bag. She stripped off all of her clothes, throwing them in a pile on top of her bag and took a picture of her body, angled so it captured her from the neck down. She sent it to Sandor, then scrolled through her music app and picked a song , placing her phone on the counter while she waited.

He appeared at the doorway 20 seconds later, face eager, his phone clutched in his hand - she could see the screen displaying her picture. It was zoomed in on her nipples, which made her laugh loudly. He laughed with her as he came into the bathroom, setting his phone on the counter before wrapping his arms around her, kissing her on the neck but not doing anything else. 

She leaned back, still smiling, hands on his sides as she looked up at him. “How did you even have time to zoom in and get here that quickly?” 

He shrugged. “I ran.” 

That made her laugh again as she reached up, wrapping her arms up around his neck. He bent down, putting his arms under her thighs so he could lift her onto the countertop, stepping between her legs. 

“I need to shower. Do you want to join me?” She was looking at him as she ran her hands down his chest, bringing them to rest on his hips, running her thumb back and forth over his skin. 

He only hummed before he leaned forward, bringing his mouth to hers. She pressed back, and then he pulled away from her, turning around and stepping into the shower to turn the water on, letting it heat up as he came back to stand between her legs. 

She reached down, dragging the hem of his shirt up and he helped her pull it over his head. She kissed his chest then, making her way to his nipple, flicking her tongue over it, making him groan. She smiled against his skin, moving her hands to the waistband of his shorts, tucking her fingers inside and pushing down until gravity took over and they fell to the floor. He stepped out of them, moving them to the side with his foot. 

He was hard, and she felt her lower belly throb when she looked at his face to see him watching her, eyes dark. He shut his eyes though, breathing deeply as she took him in her hand, running her hand up and down, not squeezing hard yet so he wouldn’t be rubbed painfully - just touching. 

She waited until he had opened his eyes again, watching her, when she licked her palm, making him groan as she brought it down to squeeze him properly now, applying the pressure she knew he liked. 

He leaned forward, resting his forehead on hers, breathing deeply in through his nose as she touched him, the bathroom now filling up with steam from the shower. He kissed her, putting his hand on top of hers, stopping her. His lips still on hers, he bent down again, wrapping his arms under her thighs and lifting her against his body, carrying her into the shower, his erection pressing against her slit sending a wave of warmth up her body. 

He put her down slowly, dragging her now wet body down his and she moaned from the sensation, her body igniting. He backed her up until she touched the tile, making her hiss at how cold it was compared to the water, her skin. He put his palm above her shoulder against the tile behind her, his free hand going to her waist, holding her still as he brought his mouth to her neck, kissing her shoulders - licking the new water droplets from her skin. 

She reached her hand out to touch him again, but he batted her hand away, smiling as he moved to step out of the shower, leaving her there to watch him walk across the bathroom to get a washcloth from the shelves in the corner. He came back in, watching her face as he got the washcloth wet, then he grabbed his soap and lathered it up with thick suds. 

He started on her shoulders, rubbing slow circles against her skin, leaving a soapy trail across her collarbones, down to her chest. She could feel his thumb rub her nipples through the cloth, circling, bringing first one to a stiff peak, then moving to the other. Her breath started to quicken, she could feel the familiar curl of tension beginning to build as she watched his face but his eyes were lowered, focused on his task. 

He ran his hand down her side, pulling her forward so he could turn her around. She leaned against the wall as he washed her back, her sides, down to her ass. He took his time then - abandoning the washcloth, using his hand to touch her skin instead, slowly dragging his fingers across her. He ran his hand between her legs, barely touching her slit from behind and she moaned while tilting her hips more towards his hand, seeking friction. 

She heard him hum as he pressed into her, barely opening her lips before his hand disappeared and she whimpered. He turned her around, her back against the tile again, and he smirked. She narrowed her eyes at him, but it only made him smile wider as his hand came up to her shoulders, guiding the water to rinse her skin off. 

He ran his bare hands over her skin, using the water to rinse away all the soap, spending extra time focusing on her nipples before leaning down to lick one, making her gasp. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back, enjoying the sensation of his tongue on her as he took her completely in his mouth, sucking lightly, pulling with his lips. 

She began to arch into his body, needing more now. She reached out to touch him but he denied her again. She huffed in frustration until she saw him kneel down in front of her on one knee. He brought her thigh up, resting it on his shoulder, opening her up, his dark eyes focused on her center. She whimpered again, she needed him to touch her, she felt like her skin was on fire. His eyes flicked up to hers as he ran his finger down her slit slowly, making her moan as she closed her eyes, only able to focus on feeling him touch her. He ran his finger down her lips again, circling her center before raising back up, ignoring her clit in favor of teasing her instead. She put her hand on his shoulder, next to her thigh, digging her nails in slightly as she tilted her hips towards his face, inviting him, begging him to put his mouth on her. 

“Sandor. ” She looked back down at him, just in time to see him bring his mouth to her, tongue flicking over her clit, making her moan as a mantra of finally, finally, finally ran through her head. 

His mouth kissed her clit, tongue swirling as his finger entered her, barely, then pulled out only to do it again. The tension in her body was building, making her moan, gasp as he touched her, hips bucking into his face. 

He hummed as he circled her clit one more time with his tongue, moving his finger inside her fully now, swirling it quickly and she cried out, orgasm rushing through her body like a wave of liquid fire, flowing from his mouth into her very bones. 

He kissed along her inner thigh as she recovered. When she finally came back to him, she looked down, putting her hand on his cheek. 

“More, Sandor.” 

He laughed at that, his eyebrows raised in amusement as he looked back down to her slit, leaning forward to put his mouth to her again, before she stopped him.

“No, Sandor, more.

She saw him realize what she meant, his eyes sharpening, the laughter disappearing from his face - replaced by such open desire that she moaned. 

They had had the important conversation before - he was clean, she was clean, she’d had an IUD ever since Ollie was born so they were good against pregnancy. The only thing that ran through her mind was that she was in love with a man that might leave one day - but she didn’t want to think about it anymore. She just wanted to feel his skin against hers, his body inside hers, lose herself to him completely.

He stood up and assessed her face and she looked at him openly, wanting him to see that she was ready, she wanted this, wanted him. He brought his mouth down on hers, rough, and she responded eagerly, wrapping her arms up around his neck. He picked her up, he might have turned the water off but she didn’t know, didn’t really care as they left the shower, coming into the bedroom.

He tossed her on the bed, hair splayed out underneath her as she laughed at him. “Sandor! I’m getting your sheets all wet!” 

His body covered hers, forearms up by her head, her legs wrapped naturally around his waist, his erection pushed up against her. “I don’t give a fuck about the sheets.” 

He looked at her then, gaze roaming over her face, taking a minute before he lowered his mouth to hers as she brought her hands up around the back of his neck, pulling him to her. Their movements were quick, greedy. They had been exploring each other’s bodies for weeks, they knew what each other liked and now they would finally experience more. 

She moved her hand down between them to line him up against her, and he bucked his hips, entering her in a fluid movement, his hand moving down to her waist to help pull her body onto him. 

Her body felt electrified, shocked alive from all the sensations running through her - he had bent down to kiss her neck, suck on her shoulder while he held his hips still, waiting for her.

She canted her hips up against his, he bucked against her, once, and the movement sent a familiar warmth up through her limbs, building tension, her body still sensitive from the shower. 

She trusted Sandor - she knew now that he could never consciously hurt her so she wasn’t afraid, she was craving him. She drug her nails down his back while she moved her hips against his again, impatient. 

He took her cues and pulled out from her slowly before driving into her with such force she inched up on the bed. 

“Yes, Sandor, yes. ” This is what she needed - she wasn’t in the mood to be a delicate flower, gently laid down on a bed on petals. She wanted to be fucked, to feel desired and irresistible at the same time and she knew Sandor could do that for her. 

He moved faster at her words, his lips on her neck, teeth against her skin as he groaned, seating himself in her fully before pulling away, entering her deeply again and again - fucking her - as she raised her hips to match his rhythm. 

It was everything she needed it to be. 

She moved her face to the side, saying his name so he would lift his head up to her. She could feel herself building, but she knew she couldn’t quite get there. His mouth came down on hers - it was messy but perfect, his lips pressed against hers, just holding there. 

Sandor, touch me.” He nodded once, leaning back so he was sitting on his knees, pulling her body towards him by hooking his hands under her knees, dragging her back so they stayed connected, her ass laying against his thighs. 

She could see everything in this position - how he entered her slowly, disappearing inside her before pulling back out, glistening from her. Her stomach clenched at the sight, the curl in her belly unfurling, almost consuming her. 

He bent over her again, palm pressing into the bed above her head as he kissed her. His other hand snaked down between them, his thumb rubbing her clit while he slowly bucked into her, this time moving his hips in a wide circle. 

Sansa couldn’t focus anymore - overwhelmed in the best way. All she could feel was him, moving inside her, hitting every spot she needed him to while his hand worked her body and that was it - she burst. 

She cried out, body arching up towards his as she was drained, her body clenching around him tightly with such force she heard him mutter oh fuck as he grabbed her hips, bucking into her, his earlier smooth rhythm forgotten. She moaned, the movement only making her orgasm that much sweeter, watching as his eyes squeezed tight and he stilled, groaning as the tendons in his neck twitched. 

They savored each other while they caught their breath - lips on skin, tongues tasting, slowly coming back to reality. He kissed her one more time before moving up to lay next to her, both of them lying diagonally across the bed but too tired to really care. She dragged herself so she was laying across his chest and she sighed, limbs heavy, satisfied. Happy. 

She didn’t regret having sex with him - she hadn’t been lost in the moment, too consumed with lust to think properly - she would deal with the fallout when he left, if he did. He might not. 

What really mattered was Ollie. He still called him Coach Clegane, never slipping and calling him something more familiar. If the worst happened and Sandor moved away one day, at least Ollie would just remember him as a blip - some coach he had in elementary school that hung out with them a lot for a while. 

She closed her eyes, focusing her attention on her running her fingertips across his skin. He had a rough patch of skin on his chest - she had noticed it before, as well as some on his legs, his arms. She ran her finger over it, acquainting herself with the texture. Sandor’s arm was looped around her back, his fingers grazing the skin on her side. His chest under her cheek was breathing deep, calmly. 

“My brother did that.” 

His voice startled her at first, she thought he might’ve fallen asleep. She didn’t know what to say to him, so she just kept moving her finger across his skin, waiting. 

He cleared his throat. His voice was slow, steady. “I was 6, in this little shed we had in the backyard. I was looking for something - fuck if I can even remember what. But I remember what that bolt sounded like, sliding through the slot in the door, locking me in. And I remember what his laughter sounded like, as he set it on fire with me inside.”

She stopped moving her finger then, shocked. She lifted her head to look up at him, but his eyes were on the ceiling, unseeing. He was blinking rapidly, clenching his jaw. She waited, laying her head back down, scooting closer to him and moving her finger over his skin again. 

“Eleanor came in to get me.” Voice tight, he rubbed his free hand against the tattoo on his chest, and she understood. “I had passed out from the smoke so it took her a while to find me in the corner.” He paused. “I ended up surviving my injuries but uh.. “ He cleared his throat again. “She didn’t.” 

Sansa closed her eyes, willing her tears not to leak out. She didn’t want him to think she pitied him - she knew from experience that only made your past pain worse. She kept moving her finger over his chest, letting him know that she was there with him. 

“I ended up in the foster care system when I was 16, after my dad died.” His voice wasn’t as tight as it had been before.

Ah, Children’s Village. 

“There was a counselor there, he helped me work through a lot of the survivor’s guilt and anger I had built up.” He started moving his hand on her side again - she hadn’t even noticed when he had stopped. “I lived there for 2 years. I left the day I turned 18, went as far away from my fucking childhood as possible.”

He touched his tattoo again. “She was only 15 when she died. She didn’t get to see anything except our shitty home so, I take her with me.” He shifted his weight again, maybe shrugging but she couldn’t be sure. “I know it doesn’t make sense but.. I feel like I can try to make it up to her by showing her the world, I guess.” 

Sansa looked up at him. “Sandor, it does make sense.” 

And it did. She felt like she understood him now. 

She sat up, moving to straddle his chest, laying down on top of his body. She wanted to take away all of his pain, but she couldn’t - so she tried to provide as much comfort as she could. 

He put his arms around her, holding her to him and she finally felt the tears she had been fighting leak out of her eyes. 

She cried for Sandor - for his terrible childhood, his trauma, his sister. 

And she cried for herself, because she understood now that Sandor would never stay.

Chapter Text

Sunday, Oct 8th - 4:26pm

Sansa closed her front door, waving to the neighbors as she came down her front steps, jogging a bit to catch up to Ollie, Sandor and Stranger, who were at the end of the driveway. 

“Ok, I got them!” She raised up the plastic bowl and water bottle she had gone into the house for, and Ollie cheered as if she had accomplished a massive feat. 

“Yay!! Good job, Mama! Now LET’S GO!” He took off towards the park on his scooter, his foot pushing off the ground to propel himself as fast as he could go. 

They had just gotten back from picking up Ollie at the halfway point. He had a new kite from his grandparents that he had begged them to try out at the grass field next to the neighborhood playground. 

Sandor smiled at his excitement as they started walking, reaching over to hold Sansa’s hand as they walked, interlacing their fingers. She looked over and smiled easily at him before looking back towards Ollie, who was squatting down on his scooter, shrieking while it blazed down a small hill, Stranger running next to him excitedly. 

Little Daredevil. 

She gestured with her chin towards the kite in Sandor’s hand. “Think you can actually get that thing to fly?” 

He huffed a laugh, shaking his head. “No, I already told Ollie we probably wouldn’t get much air, if any at all. But he was hell bent on trying.”

Sansa hummed. “Yeah, that sou-”

The sound of metal scraping against the pavement floated back to them as Sansa’s eyes snapped forward, seeing Ollie sitting up on the road, crying and holding his knee. Stranger was next to him, barking sharply back at them. 

Sansa ran forward, but Sandor’s legs were longer and he got there before her, kneeling down next to him. Ollie shot his little arms around Sandor’s neck and Sandor stood, arms wrapping around him. Sansa came around to the side where she could see Ollie’s face as he clung to  Sandor. She unbuckled his helmet and took it off, rubbing circles on his back. 

“Ollie, what hurts, baby?” Her initial panic was gone - she anticipated that he was more scared than injured. 

“I hurt my knee.” He sniffled as he tried to raise his leg so she could see. 

She bent down, putting everything in her hands on the ground before she stood and rolled up his jeans, gingerly, finding a shallow scrape right along the crest of his knee. It probably burned a bit, but would heal just fine, which she told him. 

He nodded his head, burrowing his face into Sandor’s neck as she rolled his pant leg back down, rubbing her hand on his back again.

“Do you still want to go to the park, Ollie?” She asked him.

He turned his head to face her. “Yes, I think flying my new kite will help my knee feel better, Mama.” 

She nodded her head, hiding her smile as she made eye contact with Sandor. He smiled back at her before an awkward look took over his face as he looked down at Ollie. He gestured to Sansa, silently asking if she wanted to take him in her arms but she shook her head - Ollie was fine where he was. 

She walked over to his scooter and bent down to set it upright, wheeling it back over to Sandor, thinking of how exactly she was going to bring up a conversation she didn’t want to have. It was obvious her son cared for Sandor, more than she had let herself believe - and that changed everything. 

- - -

She sat on the park bench next to the field, watching Sandor and Ollie run around with the kite in the air, Stranger chasing alongside them. They were the only ones out there, enjoying the entire field to themselves. It turned out that there had been just enough breeze in the air to lift the kite up about 3 feet above Sandor’s head, but that was enough for Ollie to be ecstatic. Occasionally a stronger breeze would gust in and lift it high, but mostly Sansa watched Sandor tire himself out running back and forth with the kite limply following behind him. 

Sandor stopped running, finally out of steam, and he handed the kite to Ollie, who took it and immediately started running with it, Stranger chasing him.  Sandor walked over to her, smile on his face, sitting down next to her with an oof.  

“That’s fucking tiring.” He was panting, still trying to catch his breath. She laughed, handing him the water bottle she had brought.  

He drank from it while she watched Ollie play - he wasn’t having as much success as Sandor, the plastic kite kept plummeting to the ground. Eventually Ollie brought it up to her, asking if he could go play on the playground instead. She laughed and waved him off, watching him run across the grass field over to the playground - Stranger stayed behind, laying down at their feet, panting. 

Sansa bent down, putting the bowl she had brought next to him while Sandor leaned down to fill it with some water. They shared a look, smiling as they leaned back, Sandor putting his free arm up on the bench behind her, fingers running up and down her arm. 

He cleared his throat. “Are you ok, Little Bird? About earlier?”

She nodded, brows furrowed. “Yeah, kids fall all the time when they play. You know that better than anyone.” She huffed a small laugh. 

He shifted his weight, uncomfortable. “No, I meant when I held Ollie. I didn’t mean to overstep.” 

She smiled, leaning into his side, moving in to kiss him on the cheek. Sandor turned his head so their lips met, kissing her slowly before leaning back. 

She smiled at him. “No, I like that he feels safe with you. I promise, it didn’t bother me at all.” 

She frowned after she realized what she said - she meant that it hadn’t made her jealous, but the truth was it did bother her, just not in the way he meant. 

He moved his arm from behind her, leaning his forearms on his knees, looking over at her. “What’s going on, Sansa?” 

She took a minute to think about everything, gathering her thoughts while Sandor waited, his eyes roaming over her face.

“I just.. “ She blinked, looking down at her hands, trying again. “You’ve always left. Every place you’ve ever been you.. you leave.”

He furrowed his brows, confused. “Why does what I’ve done in the past bother you now?”

She huffed a laugh, humorlessly, turning her body more towards him. “Because you could just leave now !”

He leaned back, looking completely confused. “You say that like you expect me to just pack up and disappear in the middle of the night.” 

Mama! Coach Key-gane! Look at this! ” They both looked up at Ollie. He was hanging from the monkey bars with two hands, swinging back and forth. 

She waved at Ollie. “That’s great, Ollie!” 

No, it’s better when you come look from over here! Come here! ” He swung his feet wildly, causing his body to swing slightly faster. 

She sighed, frustrated. “Ok, just a minute!” 

She looked back to Sandor. “I know you aren’t going to just disappear - that’s not what I’m saying.”

Sandor’s face was tight, his voice frustrated. “Will you tell me what you are saying then, because I don’t get it. I don’t understand where this is coming from, Sansa.” 

She let out a frustrated noise as she stood up to go over to the playground, Sandor standing with her, Stranger on his heels. She turned to face him, the words right on her lips. She wanted to tell him everything - tell him that she loved him, that she didn’t want him to leave, that he should stay forever and they could live happily ever after - but she couldn’t, because that wasn’t who he was. He had always been clear on that. He didn’t stay in one place for long - and she had fallen in love with him anyways.

Mama! Coach Key-gane! Look! ” He was hanging from the monkey bars with one hand now, smiling widely at them.  

She turned back to Ollie, aggravated. “Oliver! Sometimes you have to just wait a minute!” 

She turned back to Sandor, angry now. Angry at herself, for not realizing the hole she had dug for herself until it was too late. “What I’m saying is - how do you know when it’s time to leave for a new place?” 

Sandor put his hands on his hips, face hard, eyes focused on her. “That's not how it works, Sansa. I don't have a set schedule where I spend an exact amount of time in a certain place and then move when the timer is up.” 

She raised her hands in the air. “Right, that's what I'm saying! It could happen at any time!”

He shook his head. “No, not without a reason.”

She raised her chin at him, her hands on her hips. “Well then how do you know when you have a reason?”

The sound of Ollie falling to the ground behind them stopped any reply he could’ve made.

 

- - - - - - - - - - Sandor POV - - - - - - - - - -

Sandor stood on the curb, Ollie’s kite in his hand, as he stared at the corner where the ambulance had turned minutes ago, taking Ollie and Sansa to the hospital. 

He had called as soon as they ran to Ollie and saw the angle of his wrist. His heart was pounding as he talked quickly on the phone while Sansa sat on the ground, cradling Ollie as he sobbed. 

She hadn’t looked at him while they strapped Ollie to a stretcher and loaded him into the ambulance, her crawling into the back with him, spouting off his medical history to the paramedic. That hadn’t bothered him though - Ollie was the one that needed her in that moment, while he stayed behind with Stranger. 

What made the stone form in the pit of his stomach was Sansa’s last words she had asked him in that field. 

“Well then how do you know when you have a reason?”

Stranger whined from beside him, sitting next to Sandor, feet moving as if he wanted to take off, go sprinting after the ambulance. 

“Yeah, I know the feeling.” He sighed, rubbing Stranger’s head as he turned to go get the bowl they had left back at the bench, where the whole argument had started.

How did we get to this place? This morning we woke up in fucking heaven, and now …

He bent down to get Stranger’s bowl, standing and shaking his head, trying to dislodge the images that came to his mind of their morning together - her bare skin, her face as she laughed, her face when she came. 

He couldn’t dislodge her though. She had crawled into his mind, changed everything he had thought he wanted. Adding Ollie only sweetened the deal - he had two people in his life now that he needed, something he never thought he would want. He couldn’t let them go.

He whistled to Stranger, jogging back towards his truck parked at Sansa’s house. 

“Come on boy, let’s get you home.” 

- - -  

Sansa laid in the hospital bed next to her son, her body curled around his as she ran her fingers through his hair slowly. She blinked, her gaze resting on his little wrist wrapped up in a splint. She felt small, just her and Ollie in this silent, sterile room. 

She heard a commotion in the hallway and she lifted her head, brows furrowed. The noise got louder, so she kissed Ollie’s forehead and swung her legs out, standing up from the bed. She looked through the window on the door and saw people standing at the nurses station, all around a huge, angry man. She gasped, opening the door. 

“-rn’t family sir, I’m sorry but I can’t let you in.” The nurse had her hands up, trying to prevent him from coming back behind the desk.  

“I don’t give a shit about your fucking rules - I need to get in to see my-”

“Sandor.” She breathed his name, surprised to see him there. Her voice wasn’t more than a whisper, but he turned immediately.

“Sansa.” His posture sagged with relief, reaching her side in two steps. 

“Sir! We can’t permit you back there!” The nurse behind him was flushed, angry. She picked up the receiver on the phone next to her, dialing a number hurriedly.

“N - no, it’s ok. He’s - I’m sorry for all the concern but he’s fine - he’s with-um, he can come back.” Sansa flashed a quick, nervous smile.

The nurse eyed Sandor, assessing how much of a threat he was now. He stared back at her, one hand on Sansa’s lower back, his face hard - daring her to call someone to escort him out. 

“Fine.” She huffed, slamming the receiver back down. 

Sansa took Sandor’s hand and led him to Ollie’s room, opening the door to find him still asleep. Sandor closed the door behind him carefully and walked over to the end of Ollie’s bed, still holding Sansa’s hand. 

“How is he?” Sandor’s face was pale, his free hand squeezing the footboard on the bed.

She cleared her throat. “Um.. a broken wrist. There’s a small chance he has a concussion, so they want to keep him overnight for observation.”

Sandor’s face grimaced slightly at her words but didn’t say anything else, eyes watching Ollie sleep. It was quiet as they both stood facing the bed. Sansa dropped his hand, wrapping her arms around herself instead. 

She turned to him, taking in a breath before speaking. “Sandor.”

He turned to face her, his eyes first looking at her arms, then coming up to meet her gaze. 

She looked back at him, speaking in a low tone. “Sandor, this is all my fault.”

His face looked confused as he shook his head once. “No, Sansa, it was just an accident.” 

She took a step towards him, dropping her arms, voice harder. “This happened because of me. My child fell because I was too busy arguing to pay any attention to him!” She raised her hand, gesturing to Ollie in bed. 

He shook his head again. “Kids fall when they play, Sansa. You couldn’t have stopped this even if you were staring right at him.” He moved towards her, hand extended to take her hand, but she didn’t give it to him. 

She closed her eyes, bringing her hands to her temples. “I should’ve been there. Instead of being so focused on myself - this entire time, I’ve been thinking of myself and what I want when I should’ve been thinking of him .” She gestured to Ollie again.

Realization swept over his face as he dropped his hand. 

“Don’t do this, Sansa.” His voice was quiet, pleading with her.

It broke her - she thought she could physically feel the crack. But if she thought it hurt now, she wouldn’t survive it when he left in one year, two years, however long he stayed. Every day she spent with him just dug the hole she had made for herself deeper, and now she saw Ollie would suffer when he left, too. 

She spoke softly, looking down at his feet. “I have to let you go.”

Sandor turned his body, facing the door with his hands behind his head, fingers clasped together, elbows flared out. She could hear him breathing deeply, slowly, his breath stuttered. He collected himself before he turned back to her, lowering his arms down by his sides.

His face was blank, unreadable and when his eyes met hers, she knew - she could see that his mind was made up. She watched as he turned from her, walked to the door, turned the handle and walked out the room.

Sansa’s chest tightened, constricting painfully. She blinked rapidly, looking down at the floor, the wall, the door. She bent over at the waist, curling in on herself as her eyes welled up and her hands moved to cover her mouth, trying to contain the sob that was building in her chest so she didn’t wake up her son. 

Her eyes widened as she heard his footsteps coming back, looking up to see Sandor walking back into the room, a pillow and folded-up blanket in his hands. He closed the door softly behind him, but his steps were quick, angry as he walked past her over to the couch, putting the supplies down with his back to her. 

“Sandor?” She had stood up when he entered the room, eyes still wide, her heart beating wildly in her chest. 

He took his jacket off using rough movements, laying it across the back of the couch, not answering. 

“Sandor, what are you doing?” She took a step towards him. 

“I’m getting ready to sleep.” His voice was clipped as he set the pillow up against the arm of the couch. “We can take shifts, I’ll rest now and be awake for the night shift so then you can sleep.” He grabbed the blanket, letting it fall open messily. 

She shook her head, blinking rapidly, trying to keep up. “Sandor, I don’t-” 

He turned around to face her, the blanket still in his hands.

“I love you, Sansa.” 

Her eyes widened, shocked. 

He looked over to Ollie. “And I love him.”

He watched Ollie for a moment before turning, tossing the blanket back on the couch, facing her again. “I didn’t know having a family could feel like this.” He paused, swallowing. “I’ve been running away from this fucked up guilt from my sister that I’ve had for so long, I didn’t stop to think about what it could be like if it was good . ” 

He looked back up at her, his face open. “You’ve shown me that. Sansa. You’re the strongest person I’ve ever met. You-” He stuttered a laugh. “You’ve been through just as much fucked up shit as I have and look.” He gestured to Ollie, looking at him. “Look what you’ve done.” 

He watched Ollie sleep for a moment. “My childhood was shit and I.. I was terrified. Of falling in love or making a family - so I avoided it all.” 

He put his hands on the end of Ollie’s bed, his head hanging down. “But now I’m terrified you’re going to send me away, alone, to worry and pace and give myself a fucking ulcer just thinking about Ollie laying here, thinking about you dealing with all of this shit by yourself.” 

He laughed humorlessly, raising his head up to look at her now, his hands falling from the bed. “And I know you could do it by yourself, I know you could. But.. I want to be here. I need you, and I need Ollie, Sansa, please. Let me stay.”

She had felt the tears roll down her face while he spoke, but now her mouth opened as she blinked at him, voice dazed. “You.. you want to stay?”

“Yes.” 

“No, I don’t mean here, at the hospital, I mean -”

“I know what you mean, Sansa.” His voice was sure, steady. “I want to stay.”

Chapter Text

- - - Three Days 

The morning light was barely coming in through the windows, skimming across Sandor’s chest as she straddled him, moving her hips in a slow circle. His hands ran up her thighs, up to her hips, squeezing as he bucked up into her, matching her pace. She moaned and lifted her chin, face to the ceiling as she felt him hit a particularly sensitive spot, sending goosebumps over her skin. He hummed, bringing one hand up to thumb her nipple, making her gasp as she looked down at him, a slow smile appearing on her face. She leaned down, putting her hands on his chest for balance. He raised his other hand to her jaw, stopping her before she could press her lips to his, tucking her hair behind her ear with an easy smile on his face. 

“I love you, Sansa.” 

She smiled, closing her eyes in joy at hearing his words. 

I will never get tired of hearing him say that. 

She opened her eyes, humming, blissful. 

“I love you, Sandor.” 

 

- - - Two Months 

“Do you have any 3s?” Sandor narrowed his eyes at Ollie, watching him closely.

Ollie’s tongue stuck out of his mouth, concentrating as he looked at the cards in his hands. “Uhh… no. Do you have any 5s?”

“Damnit.” Sandor frowned as he handed over another card, Ollie grinning as he took it and laid it down amongst his many pairs on the floor.

“Now I get to ask again!” Ollie wiggled his body happily.

Sansa passed by them, coming from the kitchen to drop off a plate of apple slices for them on the coffee table. She kissed Sandor on the temple, running her fingers through Ollie’s hair as she turned to go move the clothes over to the dryer.

“Do you have any 2s?” Ollie's voice was hopeful.

Damnit!” 

Sansa smiled as she walked down the hallway.

 

- - - Five Months 

“Are you sure you won’t miss it?” Sansa stood in front of Sandor, looking up at him as he stood in the front doorway.

Ollie was spinning with Stranger in the middle of his studio - his old studio. It had sold earlier this morning after one day on the market. 

He looked around the empty room, seeing all the things he’d built with his own hands - the drywall he’d hung, the concrete countertops he’d poured, the lighting he’d installed. Then he watched Ollie giggle as Stranger chased him around the room. 

He looked down at Sansa, smiling easily before pulling her mouth to his with his hand on the back of her neck, kissing her slowly. 

He spoke against her lips. “Yep.”

 

- - - Eight Months 

“Ollie, go ahead and clean all those up, it’s almost dinner time.” She pointed to all the legos he had spread across the living room floor. 

“Ok, Mama!” 

She walked over to Sandor, who was stirring something in the skillet on the stove. “Oh my gods, what’s in that? It smells so good, I could smell it all the way in the backyard.” She kissed his shoulder before moving to get some plates down from the cabinet next to the microwave. 

He hummed. “How about you guess when you taste it and I’ll tell you if you’re right?”

Sansa groaned. “Oh no, is it venison again? I swear I can still taste that meatloaf you made that one time.” She made an exaggerated gagging sound. 

He scoffed, turning to her but noticing over her shoulder that Ollie had gone back to playing with the legos instead of cleaning. 

“Ollie, your mom told you to clean those up. Should you be playing right now?”

Ollie looked up at Sandor. “Oh, sorry, Daddy!” He started pulling the legos apart, putting them in the bin next to him on the floor. 

Sandor stood frozen with wide eyes, spatula in his hand as the dinner sizzled behind him. He turned his head to look at Sansa, who was looking at him with wide eyes and an amused smile.

She recovered first, walking over to him and raising up on her toes to kiss him on the cheek. 

“You’re letting dinner burn, Daddy.”

 

- - - One Year

SANDOR! ” She screamed his name as she walked into the front door, slamming it behind her, phone pressed to her ear. He came running to her through the house, putting his hand on her shoulder as she pulled the phone from her ear and pressed the speakerphone button. 

“...he hospital now, they said she is still in surgery, they won’t even tell me how extensive the damage is. I told them I’m her mother but that didn’t seem to matter at all. I’m supposed to just wait until the doctor comes out and tells me what's going on. I’ve already called your father but he’s not answering because he had that big meeting today and I just don’t know what I’m going to do, Sansa. They said Arya’s car is totaled, I don’t even know where they towed it to and..” 

Sansa had tears running down her face, distraught as they listened to her mom detail everything she knew so far. 

After her mom took a breath, Sansa assured her she would be on her way to help and hung up. 

Sandor held her as Sansa clung to his chest, sobbing, his hand on her head and his other arm wrapped around her shoulders. She looked up at him, still sniffling from her tears, face distressed. 

He kissed her forehead. “I’ll get your overnight bag down from the hall closet, Little Bird. You go tonight, be with your mom, and call me later to let me know whether Ollie and I need to come up tomorrow after school or just stay here, ok?” He rubbed his thumb across her face, wiping her tears away even as more fell. 

She nodded, in a daze. 

He frowned, “Should I drive you up tonight?” 

She shook her head, wiping her face, pulling her shoulders back. “No, I’m fine.” She grimaced. “Well, I’m fine enough to drive. Um..” She looked around the room, starting to grab things she needed to bring as Sandor moved towards the hall closet. 

 

- - - One Year, Six Months 

Sansa [11:12am] - Just dropped off Ollie at halfway, I’m on my way back!!!

Sansa [11:12am] - That suitcase better be packed!! 

Sandor [11:13am] - 

Sansa [11:13am] - Sandor Clegane! Our flight leaves in 5 hours!! This is not a time for jokes!!

Sandor [11:15am] -

Sansa [11:15am] - SANDOR!! 😠😠😠

 

[Incoming Text - Jon]

Jon [1:28pm] - 

Jon [1:28pm] - Boys are having a great time! Have fun in Dorne!

 

- - - Two Years - Ollie, Age 8

“Gods, this is the form you have to fill out for your history project, Ollie?” Her eyes widened as she flipped it over and saw it was even more extensive on the back. She rubbed her hand over her eyes and sighed, sitting down at the dining table next to him. 

“The teacher wants us to discover our own history.” His shoulders slumped as Sansa slid the paper in front of him on the table. 

“Hey, let’s just work together and get it done, alright?” She ran her fingers through his hair as he sat up, nodding his head. 

Ollie’s eyes were reading the paper. “Ok, the first part is about my Dad’s side.” 

Sansa winced. She had told Ollie a bit about how he came to be, but they hadn’t really gotten into the specifics yet. 

“Hey, Dad!” He yelled for Sandor, who was in the garage, finishing his workout. 

Sansa smiled as Sandor opened the door that led into the garage, poking his head inside. “Did you call me, Ollie?” 

“Yeah, I have to fill out this paper on family histories and the first part is about my dad’s side. Do you know if your family had a crest?” 

Sandor cleared his throat, coming into the house fully and closing the door behind him. He looked over at Sansa, who just shrugged, before he came to stand behind Ollie, looking at the paper. 

His eyes widened. “Isn’t this a little excessive for second-grade history?” He looked back at her. 

Sansa sighed, getting up so Sandor could take her seat. “Don’t even get me started on common core math.” 

Sansa kissed him, making a disgusted noise when her hand touched his sweaty chest, causing him to wrap his arms around her. She shrieked as she pushed him away, laughing while she ran away, escaping into the living room. 

She got out her laptop, pulling up the itinerary she was working on for their next trip as she listened to Ollie and Sandor talk in the other room. 

“So, your family crest?”

“Uh, yeah. It was three black hounds with a yellow background.”

“Hounds? Why Hounds?”

“I’m not exactly sure, I know the story goes that one of my ancestors saved some rich guy’s life and he gave him a title and land, but I also know I’m related to a guy who was known as the Hound, a big warrior.” 

“A warrior? Like a knight?”

“Hell no, he wasn’t a knight. He was better than some wimpy knight, they say he could go against 10 men at once and still win in a fight.”

"Wow!! So he was.."

Sansa shook her head, tuning them out to work on her itinerary. 

 

- - - Two Years, Five Months - Ollie, Age 8

“Sandor!” She said his name excitedly, opening the bathroom door and practically skipping into the bedroom. 

He sat up on the bed, swinging his legs over the side. She came up to him, standing between his knees, her hand on his shoulder, face glowing. 

“So, you know how we decided I would take out my IUD and we would just kind of see what happens?”

He smiled. “Yes, Little bird.”

“And, you know how I’ve been kind of tired and just not feeling great?”

“Yes, Little Bird.” 

“And you know how the smell of your coffee in the morning made me puke that one time?”

He huffed a laugh. “Yes, Little Bird.’

She sighed, exasperated now. “Do you really not see where this is going?” 

His eyes gleamed. “Why don’t you tell me, Sansa?”

She narrowed her eyes at him, assessing. He kept the same easy smile on his face, but his eyes gave it all away.

She put a hand on her hip, an unamused look on her face. “Sandor, how long have you known?”

He laughed fully then, pulling her forward to kiss her chastly on the lips. “About two weeks.”

Her eyes widened, shocked. “Two weeks! How could you have known that long?”

He shrugged a shoulder. “You haven’t let me touch your nipples in about that long, and your tits are huge.” 

“Sandor!” She laughed as she pushed him over with both hands, making him lay back on the bed. She got on top of him, her legs straddling his hips as she put her body weight on her hands by his head, looking at his face. 

“We made a baby, Sandor.” Her eyes were wet, her smile bewildered. 

“I love you, Sansa.” His own eyes started to tear up, and she lowered her mouth down to his, enjoying the feeling of being so happy, everything perfect in this moment. She pulled back for a second, realizing something. 

“How did you know? About the nipple thing and the big...tits?”

He shrugged a shoulder again. “It’s the same with dogs.” 

She gasped, sitting up and grabbing a pillow, ready to attack. “Sandor Clegane, I am not a dog!”  

 

- - - Two Years, Nine Months  - Ollie, Age 8 - Sansa, 4 months pregnant

Sansa [12:11pm] - I made it to the sports center, waiting on O to come out any second. 

Sandor [12:11pm] - Ok

Sandor [12:12pm] - how about this one

Sandor [12:12pm] - 

Sansa [12:13pm] - Sandor it has a swimming pool

Sandor [12:13pm] - i know should i call now to put in an offer

Sansa [12:14pm] - or maybe we could go look at this one this weekend

Sansa [12:14pm] - 

Sandor [12:15pm] - theres no pool

Sandor [12:15pm] - or movie theatre

Sansa [12:16pm] - No, but there’s enough room to install a stripper pole..

Sandor [12:16pm] - fine but im not wearing a thong

 

- - - Three Years - Ollie, Age 9 - Sansa, 7 months pregnant

Sansa smiled as Sandor came around the couch, sitting next to her with a bowl in his hand. 

She leaned towards him. “Mmmm, what do you have in there?”

He tilted it so she could see. “Just some cereal. The kitchen is a disaster zone right now, I wanted something easy before I go back to working on getting that backsplash up for you.” He winked at her before offering her a bite from his spoon. 

She leaned back, wrinkling her nose. Milk didn’t appeal to her today. She was trying to think about what snack she wanted, but couldn’t concentrate. 

She looked over at Sandor, staring at him until he turned his head slowly towards her, closed mouth full of cereal. 

“Can you chew louder?” Her voice was annoyed.

“Wha?” 

She glared at him. “I can hear you fucking crunching.”

He swallowed his mouthful, brows furrowed. “It’s cereal. It crunches.”

She scoffed. “Not if you let it sit and soak in your mouth first before you chew it.” 

He laughed, then abruptly stopped when he could see that she was deadly serious. 

She glared at him, enraged. He broke eye contact to look down at his bowl, spoon stuck in mid-air, unsure. 

He got up and finished his cereal in the garage. 

 

- - - Three Years, Two months - Ollie, Age 9 - Sansa, 8.5 months pregnant

Sandor [2:37am] - ok got the starburst do you need anything else

Sansa [2:27am] - No baby, thank you!!!

Sansa [2:27am] - Wait, Sandor.

Sansa [2:28am] - Can you get me a pink gatorade, too? Please 😁

Sandor [2:28am] - ok got it 

Sandor [2:28am] - anything else

Sansa [2:29am] - No, now I’m done. I love you! Hurry back. 

Sansa [2:29am] - Wait 

Sandor [2:30am] - Sansa im in line

Sansa [2:30am] - Forget it all 

Sandor [2:30am] - ?

Sansa [2:31am] - Sandor I think my water just broke

 

- - - Three Years, Six Months - Ollie, Age 9 - Eleanor, Age 4 Months

Sandor smiled as he heard Sansa come into the bathroom, turning his face from the spray and wiping the water from his eyes. He looked over his shoulder to see her looking at him, sly smile on her face as she eyed him up and down through the glass. He felt himself start to harden - he loved that smile on her face. 

She walked over to the shower door, opening it slightly. “Ellie’s finally asleep .” She whispered, even though there was no need - the nursery was at the other end of the house. “Can I join you?” 

“Fuck yeah.” He whispered back, winking at her when she glared at him for teasing her. 

She turned back to the counter, setting the baby monitor down and stripping off all her clothes. He took himself in hand, stroking once, twice as he watched her bend down to pick up her shorts, putting all her clothes in a pile on the counter.  

He held the door open for her and she stepped in, eyes darkening when she saw what he was doing with his hand. 

She launched herself at him - he laughed as he caught her, barely getting his hands up in time so she wouldn’t fall. 

“Wildcat.” He whispered against her lips, making her laugh as they kissed, eager, hungry to explore one another.

He moved his fingers down to touch her nipple just as they both heard a faint, tinny waaaaa! coming from the monitor, causing them both to lean their heads back and groan. 

He set her down gently, moving towards the door. “I got her, you shower.” 

She stopped him, moving past him to step out the door. “No, I’ll just go, it’ll be faster - she probably just wants to eat a little more. You stay here, be ready for when I come back.” She turned around to take his hand, putting it back on his softening erection and he laughed. 

“Babe, the water is going to be cold by then.” He tried to reason, pumping his hand on himself despite his words. 

Just stay in there! ” She hissed as she grabbed her shorts from the counter - no point in putting on a shirt as she walked out of the bathroom, closing the door behind her. 

He laughed, more in love with her than ever. Then the water spraying him started to turn cold, and he groaned. 

 

- - - Four Years - Ollie, Age 10 - Eleanor, Age 11 months, 29 days

Sansa turned the corner, holding Ellie on her hip as she looked around the guest bathroom with wide eyes. 

“Sandor…” She was shocked. She had just been at the store for twenty minutes. 

How did he even have enough time to do all this in twenty minutes??

Sandor stood up when she spoke, his hands out, palms facing her. “Sansa, I can explain.” 

Sansa’s eyes scanned the floor - it was covered in tools, pieces of the cabinet, PVC pipe sections, and dirty rags. The sink cabinet was completely removed from the wall, and Ollie sat in the middle of it all, grinning widely. 

“Look, Mom!” He held up a wrench. “I’m helping Dad fix the sink!” 

She let out a shocked laugh, too stunned to really say anything. She looked back up to Sandor, who was grimacing. 

“What happened? You were supposed to fix the leaky pipe!” She gestured with her hand to where the pipe used to be - connected to the wall. 

“And I was, I was doing exactly that. But when I opened the cabinet, I noticed the leak had been going on for longer than we thought, and the bottom of the cabinet, I mean, babe, this stuff is basically particle board - it just disintegrated when I touched it. So then, I had to take it off to see if we had mold growing under it.” He paused, waiting for her to say something, but she just stood, mouth agape, staring at him. 

He swallowed. “Which we don’t, by the way, so .. that’s the good news.” He raised his hands up in a lackluster cheer, Ollie mimicking the movements behind him, grinning. Ellie clapped her hands together. 

She furrowed her brows at him, shifting Ellie to her other hip. “You realize my family will be here in four hours for her birthday party, right? So now we have one bathroom for like fifteen people. For two days.” Her face was unamused. 

He scratched his neck, thinking. His face lit up when he had an idea. “I can shower outside, if that helps. Spray off in the garden.” He mimed rinsing his head with a hose. “Arya probably would, too, actually.” 

She scoffed, rolling her eyes and walking away as Ollie shouted. “Ooh, me too!” 

 

- - - Five Years - Ollie, Age 11 - Eleanor, Age 2

Sansa [8:37pm] - Are you almost on the way home?

Sandor [8:38pm] - yeah just getting the milk and checking out

Sansa [8:38pm] - Ok, hurry. Both kids are asleep and I’ve been thinking about your body all day. 🍆

Sandor [8:38pm] - fuck the milk checking out now

Sansa [8:39pm] - Sandor it’s for your children. 

Sansa [8:39pm] - Just hurry!

Sansa [8:39pm] - I need those washboard abs here to wash my dirty mouth. 👅

Sandor [8:40pm] - 

Sansa [8:41pm] - You don’t like my seduction?

Sandor [8:42pm] - please dont ever speak any of those words ever again

Sansa [8:42pm] - Fine. Just come home!!

Sansa [8:43pm] - When you get here, I’ll be opened up like Route 66, and you can be the wild hog, ready to take a ride. 

Sandor [8:43pm] - sansa NO

 

- - - Six Years - Ollie, Age 12 - Eleanor, Age 3

“Sandor, I don’t think I can do this.” She looked at him, face panicked. 

He laughed, then sighed, running his thumb over her cheek. They had gone over this before. “Sansa. You don’t have to do this. It’s supposed to be an enlightening experience, not something to stress you out.” 

She shook her head rapidly, eyebrows furrowed. “No! No - I’m definitely doing it. This is the main reason we came all this way.” She grimaced. “It’s just on you forever. What if I don’t end up liking the image he does? What if it’s something ridiculous like.. like a gnome riding a camel??” She gripped his forearms with both hands, eyes wide with fear. 

Sandor laughed, pulling her towards him, into his chest. He rested his head on hers as he hugged her, still laughing at her words. 

I love the crazy-ass shit her brain comes up with.

He spoke into her hair. “I don’t think the priests even know what a gnome is.”

She nodded her head against his chest, squeezing her arms around his waist. 

The priest came out from behind the curtain, bowing at them before gesturing for them to follow. 

They bowed back and Sansa looked up at Sandor, nodding her head once, face determined. 

They followed the priest, curtain falling closed behind them.

 

- - - Six Years, Five Months - Ollie, Age 12 - Eleanor, Age 3

Sansa smiled as she watched Eleanor walk down the aisle, bending down to put a flower petal on the ground. She stood up and walked two steps before bending again to set a single petal delicately on the ground, making the guests laugh kindly. Eleanor looked up, eyes glancing at everyone before she waved with both hands, dumping all the petals from her basket onto the ground at once. She looked down at the ground, bottom lip poking out sadly. 

She looked towards the front of the aisle at Sandor, pointing her little finger at the pile sadly. “Daddy, look.” Her lip quivered, on the verge of tears as Sandor laughed, jogging to her and picking her up, bringing her back to the front of the aisle as she laid her head down on his shoulder, still sad but content now.

He looked over at Sansa once he was back in his spot and they shared a smile, shaking their head at their daughter. The music swelled and the guests stood, turning to face the bride as she walked in. 

- - -  

Sansa laughed as she sat down in the chair roughly, grabbing her water and draining the glass.  Sandor sat down next to her, draining his own glass as she lifted first one foot, taking her high heel off and then the other, dropping both shoes to the ground. He laid his arm across the back of her chair as she leaned back into his chest, sighing - tired, but happy.

“They certainly look delighted.” She gestured over to the bride and groom, Margaery throwing her head back in laughter as Bronn whispered something in her ear, arms wrapped around her waist, twirling her around the dance floor. “Do you have any idea how this happened?”

He laughed as he shook his head. “I have no fucking clue.” He grazed her arm with his fingers, leaning close, speaking softly. “Does it ever bother you that we didn’t do this?” 

She shook her head immediately. “No, never.” She looked over at Ollie, who was swinging Ellie around the dance floor as she shrieked with glee. “I’ve been a wife before, the title doesn’t mean much to me now.” She looked over at him, their faces close. “Is it something you want?”

He frowned, shaking his head. “No, not particularly.” He took her forearm in his free hand, running his thumb over the ink there. “I’m not going anywhere.” She smiled at him, leaning forward to kiss him softly before leaning back, bringing her own eyes down to look at her only tattoo - a hound. 

 

- - - Seven Years - Ollie, Age 13 - Eleanor, Age 4

“Can you just please make sure I don-FUCK!” A sharp jolt of pain shot up from his foot. He muttered son of a bitch as he bent down, massaging his baby toe, certain that it was broken. 

“Shit, I’m sorry baby. I thought you cleared it. We’re almost there.” He could hear the sympathy in her voice, knew she was probably wincing at his pain. 

“I still don’t see why I had to put on the blindfold. I could’ve just closed my eyes.” She couldn’t see his eyes, but he rolled them anyway. 

“Because Dad, Mom enjoys being dramatic.” Sandor smiled at Ollie teasing his mom.

“Oh, shush. Ok now, stand right here.” Her arms left his sides.

“Ok, now you can look!!!”

He took off the blindfold, blinking at the bright sunlight. He was standing in the yard facing their house, Sansa in front of him between their children. Her hands were clasped together under her chin, face ecstatic as she bounced on her feet. 

“Ok, hi?” He waved to the family, Ollie laughed while Ellie waved back. “Hi daddy!” 

“Sansa? I don’t get it.” He looked at her, confused. 

“Turn around!” She came up to him, taking him by the arms and turning his body to face the street. 

His jaw dropped, eyes wide as he looked up at the RV parked in their street. Sansa was at his side, jumping up and down now. “Isn’t it GREAT?! I rented it for us for the next month! We can drive and explore all over together!” 

“Mama, can we go inside it now?” Eleanor came up to stand by Sandor, her small hand grabbing his fingers. He picked her up and held her in his arm as she leaned her head on his shoulder. He smiled. 

“Oh, yes! Yes, now we can!” She stepped forward, the family following her together as she opened the door and they all climbed up the stairs. 

Sandor set Eleanor down and she ran through the little kitchen, down the hallway into the bedroom in the back, climbing up on the only bed. Ollie followed, flopping down next to her as they both talked excitedly and explored the space. 

“Do you like it?” She looked up at him, a nervous look on her face. 

He laughed. “Yes, Little Bird, this is great.” He hugged her to him, and she sighed happily into his chest. He let her enjoy watching the kids for a few more moments before he popped her bubble of happiness. 

“You do realize we basically can’t have sex now for the next month, right?” 

She looked up at him, horrified. 

 

- - - Eight Years - Ollie, Age 14 - Eleanor, Age 5

Sansa [9:57am] - The interview went great! Marg and I think this might be the one!

Sandor [9:58am] - awesome babe i hope so

Sandor [9:58am] - marg is gonna pop any second now 

Sansa [9:59am] - I know, I’m so excited!! I’ll need the help, for sure. 

Sandor [9:59am] - wait E wants to text you

Sandor [10:01am] - 💩🎃😻👧👶💅🐱🐹🐸🐧🐥🐢🐬🌺🌸🌹🌷🐇🌈❤️💜💙💚💛

Sansa [10:01am] - Hi Ellie!! I love you! 

Sansa [10:01am] - What are you guys up to? I’ll be leaving here in a minute

Sandor [10:02am] - E painted Os nails

Sansa [10:02am] - Hmm... only Ollie’s?

Sandor [10:03am] - 

 

- - - Nine Years - Ollie, Age 15 - Eleanor, Age 6

“Coach Clegane! Do you want us to go ahead and unload the balls from the bags or wait until after warm-up?” Ollie jogged across the grass, coming up to stand beside him. 

Sandor’s eyebrows furrowed as he turned to face Ollie, putting his hands on his hips and narrowing his eyes. “Why are you calling me that?” 

“What? More fun this way - more professional. ” He grinned at Sandor, tossing a soccer ball in between his hands. 

Sandor shook his head, trying not to laugh as he remembered saying those same words to his mom all those years ago. He reached out, trying to pop the ball from his hands, but Ollie was too fast and shifted away, laughing as he ran back towards the field.  

That little shit. 

Sandor laughed as he turned back around, going over the plays they needed to practice for the upcoming game. 

 

- - - Ten Years - Ollie, Age 16 - Eleanor, Age 7

Sandor looked up from the paper in his hands over to Sansa, his eyes wet. “You knew about this?”

She smiled at him and nodded her head, the movement causing tears to fall from her eyes. “He told me about it and I helped him figure out what to do but - this was his idea.”

Sandor looked back down at the paper, his hands shaking. He pressed his lips tightly together in a futile effort to stop the tears from falling. He looked up at Ollie, who was standing at the other end of the table. “This is what you want?” 

Ollie nodded his head. “I know I’m older now, so it might not be as important but.. yeah. It’s always been you, Dad. I just want to make it official.” 

Sandor stood from his chair, coming around the table to hug Ollie, squeezing him tightly to his chest. “Not important? Ollie, it’s everything.” 

Sansa cried as she watched them, sniffling happily as she reached over to grab the paper Sandor had dropped. Her eyes ran over the first line again, and she smiled.

PETITION FOR ADOPTION OF OLIVER EDDARD STARK

 

- - - Twenty Years - Ollie, Age 26 - Eleanor, Age 17

Sansa pulled the album off the shelf and carried it over to sit at the desk. She smiled, reading the handwritten title on the cover

Family Travel Photos

She opened it up and flipped through the pages slowly, running her hands reverently over some of her favorite images. 

Sandor scaring the shit out of me in Dorne

Ollie (7) explores Bear Island

Ollie (9) on Father/Son fishing trip at Long Lake

Ellie's First Trip! (Pentos)

Family as Ants at Yunkai Cliffs (Ollie 11, Ellie 2)

Enjoying the view from the Priest's Sanctuary in Volantis

Ollie (12) on RV trip through the North 

Ellie (5) in the Fields of Ashemark 

Our Anniversary Trip to Norvos

Ollie (16) ziplining in the Summer Islands

Ollie(17) and Ellie(8) on the coast of Tarth

San&San trip to Sunspear

Ollie (19) scaring the shit out of me at Rainwood Cliff

Ellie (11) on Father/Daughter trip in Barrowton

San&San trip to the falls at White Harbor

Ellie(16) scaring the shit out of me at The Golden Fields

- - -

I hope you can see this, Eleanor. He’s happy. We all are. Thank you for saving him. 

She wiped the tears away, turning to the next empty page in the album. 

Sandor poked his head into the study, fixing his shirt. “Are you ready?” He tilted his head as he noticed her red eyes. “Hey, are you ok?” He stepped into the room, coming to stand behind her. He smiled when he saw the album, understanding her tears now. 

He kissed the top of her head. “I love you, Sansa.” 

She looked up at him, eyes still wet. “I love you, Sandor. So much.” 

He leaned down to kiss her slowly, still savoring her. He hummed as he stood back up, running his thumb over her cheek. "You finish up here, I'm going to go start the car. We can't be late - the groom will never forgive us." He winked as he left the room. 

She wiped her eyes again, laughing. She picked up the latest photo, sticking it to the album and adding a caption before she stood and left to join Sandor. 

Ollie and Viseyna Khal, Engagement Weekend!