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A Song Given

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That damned dream again.

Sansa awoke suddenly, sweating and feeling flushed. It was still dark in her bedchambers, with only a few candles burning on the mantle and the brazier slowly fading. Sansa slowly lifted herself up to sitting to digest what she had just felt in her sleep.

She dreamt it was dark in her bedchamber, but it was not here in Winterfell. It was King’s Landing and the realization that she was back inside the walls of the Red Keep terrified her. She was breathless, and green light poured through her window managing to light up her surroundings just enough to walk towards the window. Sansa stood there looking out at the green hue enveloping the bay until a hand grabbed her wrist. She gasped, wanting to scream, but a second hand covered her mouth, turning her around towards the unknown figure.

“Hush, little bird” a deep voice rasped quickly.

It was a voice and a face that only belong to one person: Sandor Clegane, the Hound. She tried to pull herself away but only managed to make grunting noises.

“Stay quiet or it will be both our heads rotting on the wall tomorrow” he whispered in her ear. He gently removed the hand over her mouth but kept his other hand tight on her wrist.

He’s so close. I can smell the blood on him. I can smell the wine. He’s drunk. Sansa realized.

“Please, ser, my wrist. You are hurting me” she began to weep.

“Ser? When will you learn, little bird?” he replied with anger clearly building up in his voice.

“I didn’t mean…please…you are hurting me, please let go.” Tears began to roll down her porcelain cheeks but she tried her best to not lose her composure entirely.

“Do you think I would ever hurt you? You think I’m no better than that cunt Joffrey, is that it?”

She could not manage a response. Her blue eyes met his fierce grey eyes which were reflecting the green light coming into the room. As she stared at him silently, his rage continued to peak and her failure to respond clearly set him off.

“So that is how you feel, little bird? So fucking be it.” Sandor grabbed her other wrist and forcefully pushed her to the bed. She shut her eyes, terrified of what she would see if she opened them. Before she could speak, he leaned down on the bed, supporting himself with his hands on either side of her head.

This is it. She thought with defeat. He will have me tonight and there is nothing I can do about it.

His right hand moved from beside her head down to breasts. He squeezed them with more gentleness than she expected, and she could hear his breathing begin to quicken. The sensation was not uncomfortable but something Sansa could not quite put into words. As his hand trailed from her breasts down to her sex, she gasped.

“No, please. Sandor, please don’t do this!” she finally managed to get out but rather screaming as she intended it came out as a sigh. Sansa was feeling several emotions at once, most of which she could not describe.

His hand stopped suddenly, hovering over her sex but not quite touching. He shifted his hand back to beside her head and stared at her face. She slowly opened her eyes as once she noticed he stopped touching her. As she met his gaze, she noticed this time it was not just blood on his face, but a wetness. Tears.

“What did you say?” he whispered quietly. Sansa hardly heard him but she knew better than to ignore his questions and make him angry again.

“I said please stop.” she muttered, trying her best not to cry.

“Not that, little bird.”

It was then she realized immediately what she had said. Sandor. I said his name. Have I ever said his name?

“Sandor.” she responded.

Suddenly he dropped his face towards hers and she felt his lips meet hers. The half-missing lips of his mouth pressing softly into her soft rosebud lips. A tear fell onto her cheek, but this time it was not hers.

As soon as she realized he was kissing her, he rose from the bed. She heard a ripping noise and then the door open and shut.

A few moments passed as she laid on back, staring up at the canopy. Once she sat up, there was nothing. It was not until her eyes shifted to look at the floor that she saw his bloody white cloak on the floor.

It was only then that she awoke. Too many times had Sansa dreamed of that night of the Battle of Blackwater Bay. And every time, things were different. She no longer remembered what really happened that night. She was just a girl and she was so scared and so confused. But as the dreams continued to come from time to time, she began to react differently to the memory of it. His kiss, unwanted at the time, now sparked feelings inside her that she now knew were feelings of desire. He did kiss me, did he not? It was the one part of her memory that did not change no matter how many dreams she had, so it had to be the truth.

When she had this dream as a girl, she would toss and turn not being able to sleep with the anxiety it gave her. She constantly wondered what her life would be like had she left King’s Landing with him as he had. However, as a woman, she often felt aroused by her dreams of him and the only way she would be able to sleep comfortably is if she touched her sex and rubbed until pleasure overtook her. It was not a ladylike thing to do, but Sansa was through being a perfect lady. All being a perfect lady taught her is that you make it that much easier to be everyone else’s pawn. Littlefinger’s pawn especially.

She knew he was manipulating her and using her to better himself, but she still did not have the proof needed to bring him down. And if she was honest, they used each other. He lied to her, she to him, and they both gained and lost as the game went on. But she could not rid herself of him yet, not until she gained enough knowledge to bring him down with honor. Else, she would become known as the Cruel Lady of Winterfell, who kills those she cannot trust whilst providing no proof.

Thinking of Littlefinger began to frustrate her, and her dream already created frustrations in another manner, sexual frustrations.

He is here. Go to him.

The thought was ludicrous, but it was the truth. Sandor had come to Winterfell along with the Brotherhood without Banners and even her sister Arya. When her guards notified her of their arrival, she felt more emotions than she had in so long. More than since that night during the Battle of Blackwater Bay.

Arya, her little sister, home again at last. Sansa thought she was dead but felt like a complete idiot doubting her sister’s ability to defend herself. Arya was truly one of a kind, a warrior, and now a Faceless Man, she thought with a hint of fear.

Once the other riders came into the gates, Sansa’s heart stopped. She stared at the large man for so long, her mouth gaping slightly, her hands wringing one another in front of her. She felt like she was looking at a ghost.

It is him. Sandor.

Once he saw her, she turned away so quickly it was obvious she had been staring at him. She began to blush and cleared her throat, making the necessary orders to her Northmen to arrange rooms and take the horses from the newest Northern loyalists who came to fight the dead. She immediately walked up to her sister and hugged her, trying her best not to cry.

That was just yesterday morning, and now it was still night, but sleep would not come to her. And the thought of Sandor being so close to her after all this time took her sexual frustrations to a new level.

Sansa was still a maiden, with no thanks to Littlefinger’s schemes. If it had not had been for her decision to call the Knights of the Vale to the North and revealing her true identity to them upon learning of her half-brother Jon Snow attacking to retake Winterfell from the Boltons, she could have easily been wedded and bedded by Harry the Heir by now, if not Littlefinger himself.

Despite her being a maiden, her innocence was not as it once was. Myranda Royce taught her many things while in the Vale and Sansa could not believe her mother and Septa went about her proper education as if these things did not exist. Of course, she had been a child in their eyes, but she was betrothed to Joffrey at a time and it would have been good to know just what losing your maidenhead would be like.

Myranda told her all she knew about men with ease. What men liked, what they did not, how to give herself pleasure, and how to manipulate men most of all to get what you want. With Myranda’s teachings and Littlefinger’s scheming, Sansa was indeed no longer the young, innocent, naïve girl anymore.

Now, she had clear intentions on what she wanted. She would never have considered bedding a man prior to marriage despite her growing sexual desire, but it only took Sandor Clegane to walk back into her life to make her reconsider.

I should have talked to him. I should have said something.

Sansa began to regret not seeking him out or even welcoming him, but she spent the entire day with Arya, discussing all that had become of their time since their father’s murder. They both had been through traumatic events over the years and neither of them knew where to begin. But after all was said over hours of discussion, Arya made it clear that she did not trust Littlefinger despite him helping Sansa flee from King’s Landing. Neither do I, she thought, but she tried to reason with Arya he had his purposes.

The wetness between her legs brought her mind back to Sandor. She began to lay down and brought her hand to her sex to take care of the feelings herself but stopped as suddenly as he had in her dream.

He is here, in this very castle. If I want to see him, there is no better time than now when mostly everyone was asleep. The guardsmen would not dare to question my comings and goings as Lady of Winterfell. Ladylike behavior be damned.

Without mulling it over, considering how she would explain herself coming to him in the middle of the night, she got out of bed and began to dress herself. She took out her auburn hair from her braid and let it fall loose down her back in waves. As she finished getting herself presentable, she unlatched her door and opened it, only to find Littlefinger sitting on the chair that was meant for her guard. His lips turned up in a smile, but his eyes were filled with anger.

“My sweet Lady Sansa.” He greeted.

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“Lord Baelish,” Sansa feigned a small smile. “What are you doing here? It is late.” She stood in the doorway, putting all her effort into appearing innocent.

Littlefinger stood up and brushed the wrinkles on his clothing. He reached out for her hands, lightly brushing them with his fingers.

He is trying to make me nervous. He is going to feel the clamminess of my hands.

“My dear, it is extremely late indeed. Upon the arrival of our guests yesterday, I ordered your guards to notify me if any unusual noises or persons happened to be coming to or from your chambers. It appears you were having a nightmare, according to your guard. Quite a few murmurs and gasps were heard coming from within.” His eyes never left her face and his hands continued to hold onto hers, the grip becoming firmer as the seconds passed.

Clever, very clever. Sansa should have expected such. He appeared less than thrilled when the newcomers came to Winterfell but kept his thoughts to himself regarding the matter.

“Thank you for your concern, my Lord, but I am just in need of a stroll after a startling dream I had.” Her lie was not necessarily a lie, and she did not show any hints of fibbing. She had become a much better liar over the years, indeed.

Her hands however betrayed her. She could not control them becoming sweaty after seeing Littlefinger sitting there, ruining her plans of giving her maidenhead to Sandor Clegane. As he rubbed her hands, his smirk gave it away. He knows I am lying.

“Sansa, I have known you for quite some time now. You really are quite a poor liar. Come, let us talk somewhere more comfortable.” Littlefinger let go of one hand and led her inside her bedchambers with the other. Once inside, he let her go to close and latch the door and motioned her to sit. Sansa sat at the small circular table inside her chambers while Littlefinger walked over to stand in front of her. He looked down, a small smirk still plastered on his face, and it was a few moments before he spoke again. “My dear, when you went behind my back and called the Knights of the Vale to go North, revealing your identity, I was truly disappointed. I set up a splendid marriage for you and Harry and had other plans for your safety and well-being put into place.” He knelt on one knee in front of her, grabbing one hand into his own. His eyes poured into her. “But I saw wisdom in what you did…independent thinking. And I should have expected this of you sooner or later. You would only naturally begin to make your own moves as you have learned a great deal from your competent teacher.” He smiled at her, but his eyes still told a different story.

“Excuse me, my Lord,” Sansa was cut off as he began to pull her towards him, his free hand caressing her face. As his lips touched hers, she pulled back quickly and pushed herself to standing, startled despite his kisses not being a new occurrence. Littlefinger followed and stood up with the smirk that seemed to be permanently engrained on his face.

“I can forgive you for what you did behind my back.” Littlefinger said as if the kiss never happened. “However, you must be honest with me if we are to work together in defeating the dead and Cersei.”

Sansa flushed red, not from guilt, but anger. He still treats me like a child. Which just makes his touches and kisses that much more atrocious. However, Sansa knew she must play his game just a little longer.

“My Lord,” Sansa began before being cut off again.

“Petyr,” he corrected her.

“Petyr, I was not lying about my dream or needing to leave my room. I have become overwhelmed with my newfound responsibilities in addition to preparing for a war. Bran tells me what he sees when he…has his visions. It was not my smartest idea to take a walk during this hour but oftentimes I feel like I am going mad inside my chambers.” Sansa was proud of her response. Littlefinger always felt superior when Sansa admitted to being weak, fragile, or an idiot. Acknowledging her rashness in her decision was sure to please him, even if he continued to have his doubts.

“Of course, my dear, it seems to run in your family, your mother’s side that is.” Littlefinger quipped, a clear shot at her Aunt Lysa’s madness. I will remember that. When she did not respond, he sat at the table, crossing one leg over the other. He gestured towards the other chair for her to sit. “I only jest. I hope you will forgive the orders to your guards but with the arrival of this Brotherhood, I felt it only prudent to instill heightened security of your person. You are the most beautiful woman in the seven kingdoms, after all. And one of the most important. Any man would risk his head to have you, even if just once.” He smirked a little larger now, making her stomach turn.

“I appreciate your concern Lord…Petyr. However, I am capable of taking care of myself along with the orders I have put in place of my guardsmen.” She responded trying her best to hide her frustrations.

“Sansa, if I had not been here, you would have taken a stroll through a sleeping Winterfell. Who knows who might have see you all alone and decide to seize their opportunity? You must be aware of everyone: guards, knights…dogs.” With that last word, he smiled sinisterly and caught her eyes widen ever slightly.

“Petyr, I will not make such a rash decision again. I swear it.” She lied, hoping he would not have noticed her respond to his jape at Sandor’s nickname.

“Oh, I know. Sleep well, my dear. You still have a few hours to have a more pleasant dream.” He stood and grabbed her hands pulling her up. He kissed her again on the lips and she counted the seconds until he let go. As he unlatched the door and walked out, he took one last look at her over his shoulder and smirked again before closing it behind him.

The day I can exile you will be one of the happiest days of my life. She thought as she began to undress. If she was not feeling frustrated enough before, Littlefinger’s scheming added to her frustrations tenfold. She dressed down until she was in her shift, latched her door once more, and fell onto her bed, her hair a wild red mane framing her face. As she closed her eyes, she moved her hand to her sex and began to think of Sandor, imagining what it would have been like had she been able to finally reunite with him.

 

Chapter Text

As soon as he saw her, he began to believe Thoros and Beric’s prediction that he had a bigger part to play.

The Elder Brother managed to save him when the wolf bitch left him for dead, and he became nothing more but a Gravedigger on the Quiet Isle, living out his life in complete anonymity. The Hound died there. But I am still alive.

Sandor never expected to leave the Quiet Isle and felt that that it was his punishment for his shameless killing and rage to live amongst the other sinners in silence. It was not until the Elder Brother approached him one day telling him his atonement was almost complete that Thoros and Beric joined him. Thoros explained that he saw Sandor in the flames at Winterfell, killing in a great war. Killing to protect others. Sandor did not want to believe the horseshit that was coming from his mouth, but he did witness Beric die and Thoros bring him back to life. Who was he to question anything at this point? Thoros also witnessed Sandor on the Quiet Isle while looking into the flames, and the Elder Brother took this as a sign that this would complete his atonement: serving others for a deeper purpose. The Elder Brother warned Sandor before leaving that the Hound must remain dead. He should spend the rest of his life protecting others in the light of the Seven, or surely, he would be punished.

Departing the Quiet Isle, he traveled with Thoros and Beric to Winterfell along with a few other men still a part of the Brotherhood. He rode on Stranger, his horse, who the Elder Brother seemed happy to be parting with due to his wild nature. During their travels, Thoros remained drunk and would not shut up about what was happening all over Westeros and Essos. Ignoring most of what he was blabbering about, Sandor wondered what the rest of his life would be like as the nearly atoned Sandor Clegane and not the Hound.

It was not until Thoros mentioned her name that he began to grasp every word. Little bird.

Beric joined the conversation and explained how she was now the Lady of Winterfell after Jon Snow defeated the Boltons, and it was rumored she was to be betrothed to some pretty boy, the heir to the Vale. That was the last they heard regarding Sansa. All the meanwhile, Thoros looked over his shoulder at Sandor, smirking, as they rode.

“What the fuck are you looking at?” Sandor lashed out.

Thoros only smiled wider. “I thought you were not supposed to be motivated by anger?”

“When it comes to killing, doesn’t mean I have to put up with your girlish gazes.”

Thoros cleared his throat. “Clegane, I saw more than you fight at Winterfell in the flames. How close were you and Sansa Stark in King’s Landing?”

The question struck him, and he was visibly caught off guard. He never confided in his feelings to anyone, not even the Elder Brother, aside from having to repent from having urges to have her the night of the Blackwater.

“I knew her. I protected her from that sadistic cunt Joffrey on several occasions. Saved her from being raped as bad as Lollys when the riot broke out. That’s it.” Sandor responded attempting to seem disinterested in the subject.

“You never gained affection for her?” Thoros asked, this time in a serious tone.

“No, gods she was a fucking child.” Sandor growled.

That much was true, she was a child. But despite his efforts to keep his distance and not care for her, his infatuation began the moment he saw her at Winterfell years ago.

“Perhaps my vision was wrong then, Clegane. Although I could have sworn it was you cloaking her underneath one of those Northern trees.” Thoros turned to Beric. “That is how they perform marriage ceremonies in the North?”

Sandor froze.

“Aye, much simpler than marrying in the south.” This time Beric turned to Sandor and grinned.

For fuck’s sake.

Refraining from killing for so long did change Sandor. The deep rage he felt his entire life had been suppressed somehow. The confessing and sworn silence as he lived on the Quiet Isle led him to reflect on his wrong doings but also on what he did right. I helped the Little Bird as much as I could. He thought. I tried to help her sister too, until she left me for dead.

He learned his punishment was not for being an arse with a harsh tongue, but for being motivated by killing and seeking revenge on his brother until it consumed him. Somehow, killing to kill no longer was a thought he cared to think about. And he could not give two shits about his brother. Let him dig his own grave.

Days passed and Sandor could not think about anything other than what Thoros mentioned about his vision. A marriage? Between me and the Little Bird? That hope was as dead as the Hound.

How was she ever to forgive him that night of the Blackwater when he nearly raped her? Only to leave her there in King’s Landing to be wedded to the fucking Imp.

Aye, she will wed me, to a block and headsman.

One evening when they made camp a few days south of Winterfell, a lone rider passed by them slowly, staring into their direction. It took only a few seconds for Sandor to recognize who it was.

The wolf bitch. Seven hells.

Without invitation, Arya Stark rode over to their camp, showing no expression on her face. This one has changed too.

Arya hopped down off her horse, resting her hand on her miniature version of a sword. “I thought you died.” She said stoically.

“The Hound did.” Beric responded as he began to start a fire. “No need to finish the job if that is what you come for.” Beric gave her a smile. “Come child, sit.”

Sandor grunted at Beric’s invitation to Arya but went about his business gathering wood and finding water.

That evening, Arya informed them she was headed to Winterfell after she heard it was taken back from the Boltons. Beric offered her to travel with them as they were headed the same way. She stared at Sandor for a few seconds expressionless before she agreed. He cared for the girl, which he would never admit, but she seemed to be something else now. That there is a killer.

The last days of travel were the most difficult for them due to the amount of snow falling, but Arya seemed to not be fazed by it. Of course not, she was bred here.

Once they finally approached Winterfell, Sandor could only think about the new Lady of Winterfell. She was just a child the last time he saw her. Now she would be a woman grown and he hoped she would find it within herself to forgive him for their last encounter. Else, he might as well consider this his last day alive.

Once they approached the gates, Arya took her hood off and introduced herself as Arya Stark, daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark and sister of the Lady of Winterfell. The guards immediately signaled to open the gates and the party of Thoros, Beric, Arya, himself, and the few remaining individuals of the Brotherhood without Banners rode in.

The ride to Winterfell was filled with dead trees, snow, and an overcast sky with no color to see but white, black, and gray. It appeared no different as he looked around Winterfell from the towers, stables, and ramparts. Until finally, he saw her. The sight of Sansa Stark was the first vibrant color he had seen in weeks. Was her hair always this red? When their eyes met, he saw her attention quickly shift from him to Arya and the others. She probably hoped I was dead and rotting somewhere.

She was without a doubt the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. As a girl, she had been pretty but now she had mature beauty along with the body of a woman. She was tall for a girl her age, still slender, but with womanly curves that had not been there before. Her face no longer appeared frightened or submissive as it had been since her father’s death at King’s Landing. Now she appeared to be confident, a leader, and so fucking beautiful.

As they dismounted, Sansa hugged Arya and walked inside the building he remembered from his last visit to be the Great Hall.

“Don’t worry, Clegane. You will see her again soon.” Thoros patted his shoulder and Sandor jerked back.

“Get your fucking hands off of me.” Sandor grunted, taking Stranger’s reins, and leading him to the stables himself since no one else would be able to handle the beast. He heard Thoros laugh behind him and muttered under his breath.

After taking Stranger to the stables, he turned to find Littlefinger standing a few strides from him, looking amused with himself. Sandor never liked nor trusted the slimy fucker, but it appeared that this confrontation would be inevitable.

“Sandor Clegane,” Littlefinger welcomed with the falsest tone of pleasure in his voice. “Everyone thought you were dead.”

Sandor continued to walk and took a few steps past him before Littlefinger turned and followed him.

“What do you want?” Sandor muttered.

“I wanted to welcome you to Winterfell. I apologize for the Lady herself not being able to greet you, but I am sure you understand her wanting to first visit with her sister over a Hound that has come back from the dead.” He smirked, keeping his pace as Sandor crossed the courtyard.

Sandor chose not to respond to Littlefinger’s slick comments. While some trusted him for saving Sansa from King’s Landing, others remembered his betrayal of the Lannisters when it fit his agenda. Despite this, Littlefinger continued.

“I thank you for deciding to come North to assist us in the wars to come. If you would follow me, I can take you to the Lady’s solar if you wish to speak to her.” Littlefinger turned without another word.

What is this fucker up to? Has she summoned me or is this another clever Littlefinger trick?

Sandor did not know whether he should follow or go back with Thoros and Beric, but what would he say if Sansa expected him to be there and decided not to show up? Without another thought, Sandor turned to follow Littlefinger as they headed to her solar.

Once inside, the warmth fell over Sandor and he could not remember how long it had been since he was sheltered from the cold. Too bloody long. Littlefinger closed and latched the door behind him and his demeanor went from falsely pleasant to suspicious.

“I will admit, I am quite surprised by this arrival. Not many things go on without my knowing, so you will forgive me if I am suspicious of you and your companions.” Littlefinger headed towards the chair behind the large table full of parchments and sat. Sandor did not follow suit and remained standing in the middle of the solar, knowing he fell into a trap.

“Bugger your suspicions. I did not plan on coming here. The Brotherhood came to me and claimed I needed to come along with them to fulfill whatever fucking thing they saw in their fires.” Sandor made no effort to hide his disdain for the man.

Littlefinger folded his hands together on top of the table and nodded.

“Fair enough. I am aware of Thoros and his visions. And Beric and his lives. However, I should inform you of few things since I can see the years have not made you any tamer. Over the course of Sansa being in my care, I have learned a great deal of things from her, both voluntarily and involuntarily. While at the Vale, several of my servants would go through her belongings at my request. Of course, she was known as my bastard daughter while we were there and no one seemed curious as to why I would want to keep an eye on her. Occasionally, I would peak into her bedchambers with an inconspicuous hole that I had placed in the wall. A useful trick I used in my brothels to make certain the lady was up to her best behavior.

She is quite clever for being so young. But I am afraid she mumbles quite a lot in her sleep. Whispers, words…names. It seems that you of all people made it into her dreams and I have wondered many times why it is she would dream of you, her late betrothed’s former Kingsguard.”

Sandor stood, face unflinching but inside he was struggling with a wave of emotions.

Littlefinger sat there, his eyes never leaving Sandor’s face. He took a deep breath and continued.

“And then, one of her chambermaids was sorting through her belongings and informed me that my bastard daughter possessed a white cloak that was covered in blood. Upon my inspection of it, I knew it could only be a cloak that belong to a Kingsguard. A Kingsguard who left his duty during what I assume had been quite a bloody night.” Littlefinger smirked.

Seven fucking hells.

Sandor could hardly believe the little bird held onto his cloak after that night. He wondered what it could have meant. Despite his efforts to appear disinterested in this discussion, Sandor began to imagine Littlefinger peeking into Sansa’s bedchambers as she slept and dressed and felt like choking the bastard. You sick cunt. Sandro’s face reflected his feelings.

“Go on, get to the bloody point.” Sandor rasped.

“My point? I am just informing you that I am aware that there is some history between the two of you. While I cannot prevent the two of you from interacting, I would caution you on what you say or do to her while you are here. It would not be difficult to convince the Knights of the Vale, her Northmen, and her siblings you mean to…dishonor her.” He smiled mischievously.

Sandor gave a sound of mocking laughter and gripped the chair in front of him.

“Sounds to me like you are the one hoping to dishonor her.” Sandor let go of the chair and headed to the unlatch the door.

“It would not be dishonoring her if she were my wife.” Sandor turned to look over his shoulder at the disgusting smirk plastered on Littlefinger’s face. Sandor’s anger caused him to firm his grip on the doorknob, nearly ripping it off.

Without responding, Sandor threw open the door and strode down the hallway, to the stairwell, and back out into the freezing courtyard.

Author Note: A Sansa/Sandor chapter is coming next! Stay tuned 😉

 

Chapter Text

Sansa never slept that night.

After pleasuring herself after Littlefinger ruined her plans to see Sandor, she spent the last hours of night tossing and turning, thinking of what she would say to Sandor whenever she did finally see him.

I will go and see him while the others are breaking their fast. What can Littlefinger’s guards say then? That I should not go about my duties as Lady of Winterfell?

Sansa opened her window and watched the snow fall from the sky, daydreaming, until she saw first light.

She grabbed her robe and tied it around the small of her waist. She unlatched the door, opening it enough to peak out. A different guard was posted outside of her room. Not one of my Northmen, but a guard from the Vale.

The man was half asleep but jerked up to attention once he saw her.

“Good morning, my Lady.” The guard smiled sleepily.

“I need a bath drawn, please summon my chambermaid for me.” Sansa ordered and shut the door before he could answer. He may not have deserved the harshness of her words, or the door to be slammed in his face, but the lack of sleep along with the eagerness to see Sandor left her feeling erratic and unlike herself.

I am acting just like a child again, she thought as she began to braid her hair.

Moments later her chambermaid entered and filled her tub with warm water, adding floral fragrant oils. Sansa did not know the girl well; she was the daughter of one of the armorers and could not have been older than ten. Sansa found herself wishing Myranda had come along with her to Winterfell. Despite her mischievous nature, Myranda was the closest she had to a friend in a long time. Myranda had decided to stay with Sweetrobin in the Vale as he was young and sickly and would have never survived the trip to the North. Sansa began to feel morose and stepped into the bath to end her sulking.

I have enough on my mind as it is, Myranda will take care of him.

Sansa washed herself quickly and decided to wash her hair another day so it would be dry when she headed out. Minutes later she rose out of the tub and began to dry herself off and dress herself for the day. She took her braid out and let the red waves drape freely down her back. She put on her smallclothes and chose a dark grey dress, embroidered with silver threading, that buttoned up along the front. It was lined with fur and would be warm enough underneath one of her lighter cloaks to make her way over to the guest tower.

Sansa headed out, the sun still low in the east, and nodded at those she passed by with a small smile on her face, hoping she would not catch any unwanted attention on her going abouts.

Sansa eyed Arya as she crossed the courtyard. She was eating an apple on the ramparts and descended the stairs as soon as she saw Sansa headed toward the tower, throwing the apple to the ground.

Gods, why is it so difficult to see Sandor without someone intervening?

“Where are you going?” Arya asked as she met her pace, step for step.

“Giving an overdue welcome.” Sansa responded without making eye contact. Arya would have been a fool to not sense Sansa’s frustration but continued to follow her.

“If you are headed to see the Hound, I do not know why you bothered putting clothes on at all.” Arya japed without cracking a smile.

“Arya!” Sansa said in disbelief at her sister’s vulgarity. Sansa still thought of Arya as a child, but who knows what Arya had seen or done in the years apart that she did not tell Sansa about yesterday. Sansa stopped walking and lowered her voice to a whisper. “You cannot talk like that in public. With Littlefinger here, you never know who might be listening.” Sansa looked around to see if anyone was lingering about them, but those who were awake at this hour were going about their usual duties.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have Littlefinger here then.” Arya quipped.

“I told you, it is not for much longer. I can not hold a trial without proof that he has been scheming to destroy our family. And he still has people working for him in the south, which helps us know what Cersei’s moves are.” Sansa continued to walk again but slowly, still talking in a whisper.

“Bran is the only person you need to help inform you.” Arya added with a defensive tone.

Here she goes again.

“Arya, I love Bran, but I don’t know. I am skeptical about these visions he has. How is it possible he can see everything happening? I do not think he is lying, but magic, prophecies…all of it can be interpreted incorrectly.” Sansa knew Bran was different once he returned from beyond the Wall, but it did not make sense to her how he managed to know so many things. And for the time being, she did not feel comfortable relying on it. Furthermore, she could not put Littlefinger on trial with her only proof being Bran’s visions.

“I wish Jon was still here, at least Littlefinger might be less of a shit if he felt Jon was watching what he is doing.” Arya sounded disappointed, and for the first time, she showed emotion other than the constant stoic demeanor she had adopted over the years. Sansa knew how close Arya and Jon were as children, but Jon had left to Dragonstone before Arya arrived to meet with the Dragon Queen in hopes of gaining her dragons and armies to defend the North in the wars to come.

The two approached the guest tower and Sansa turned to her sister before opening the door.

“Arya, I need you to do me a favor.” Sansa expressed with the faintest sound of desperation in her voice.

Arya seemed to read her mind and knew exactly what she would ask.

“Littlefinger is breaking his fast with Nestor Royce. I saw them in the Great Hall as I was leaving. I will keep him away from here so you can welcome the Hound.”

Before Sansa could say anything, Arya turned to walk up to the ramparts again and watched over the courtyard.

Sansa took a deep breath and walked inside the tower. The guest’s chambers were full of the visiting Northern families, knights, and Lords, whereas most of the armies and commoners slept in tents or in emptied halls. Despite Sansa not having spoken with the men who arrived yesterday, she informed the stewards to give them proper bedchambers in the guest tower on the top level.

As Sansa walked up the stairs, she could hear footsteps and rustling within the rooms and corridors as more people began to wake up. As she reached the top level, she passed by one room where she could her one of the visiting Lords grunting and a lady sighing with pleasure. Sansa’s manners were forgotten as she paused for a moment beside the door to hear the lovemaking that was taking place on the other side. The sounds aroused her; she wondered if that would ever be her and Sandor.

Continuing down the corridor, she took another deep breath to retain her composure after her sudden arousal, fixing her windblown hair and straightening out her dress. Finally, she knocked on Sandor’s door.

A few seconds passed and no answer came. She knocked again, this time putting her ear to the door to listen for any movement, but she heard none. Suddenly, the door next to her opened and Lord Beric Dondarrion walked out.

“My Lord,” Sansa greeted with a shy smile at the thought of being seen knocking at Sandor Clegane’s door. “I hope you are doing well and find your accommodations satisfactory. I apologize for not coming to welcome you yesterday. I spent a great deal of time with my sister and it was far too late to summon you and your men by the time I was available.”

Beric gave her a warm smile and reached for her hand, kissing it softly.

“My Lady Sansa, I understand, there is no need to explain yourself. We are very thankful for allowing us to stay here. It is our pleasure to serve and fight for you.”

“Thank you, my Lord.” Sansa gave him another gentle smile as she pulled her hand away. A silence fell between the two and since Sandor appeared to not be within his chambers, she began to make her way back towards the stairs. “If you will excuse me, my Lord.”

“Pardon, my Lady. Were you by any chance looking for Clegane?” he asked kindly.

How is he so happy when we are on the brink of two wars? There was no denying that she was knocking on Sandor’s door, so she nodded.

“Yes, my Lord. I was hoping to speak with him.”

“He left with Thoros. The two went to look at the armory I believe. I will send him to you.” He closed the door behind him, appearing eager to take on the task.

“Actually, my Lord, would you mind bringing him back to his chambers without mentioning that I am here?” Sansa asked with an innocent smile.

“Aye, my Lady. I can do that. I will return shortly.” He nodded and headed towards the stairs.

Sansa entered Sandor’s room, closing the door behind her gently. The guest chambers were a modest size with a brazier, bed, small chest, desk, and chair. Sansa contemplated whether she should sit or stand, not wanting to look either too formal or informal. Her hands began to sweat again and looking at the bed made her remember the sounds she heard outside of the bedchamber just a few doors down.

Sansa felt as if she was losing herself at the prospect of finally meeting with Sandor again. The years, and Littlefinger, had taught her much about people: how to manipulate them, what their intentions were, how to feign your interest and disinterest to benefit yourself. However, when she thought of Sandor, all her newfound maturity and cunning seemed to escape her.

You are not a little girl anymore. You are a woman and the Lady of Winterfell.

Minutes passed and still nothing. Sansa began to pace the bedchamber and felt the longer she was alone, the more anxious she was becoming. She opened the window at the far side of the room and took a deep breath.

Stop being nervous. Stop acting like such a stupid little girl.

The confidence she had last night in her attempt to see him was now foreign to her. She closed the window and turned back towards the bed and sat, sitting directly facing the door.

I am here, there is no reason to try and hide and press myself against the wall. I should be the first thing he sees.

As she sat down on the bed, caressing the fabric of the sheets, the door flew open.

Sandor was clearly frustrated, cursing under his breath as he carried in armor, swords, and other items from the armory. His attention went from the items in his arms to the bed, where she sat startled by his entrance. He immediately dropped everything onto the floor, and shut the door behind him, latching it for good measure.

He slowly turned back around to face her and said nothing. Sansa would have laughed at his expression, staring at her as if she was a ghost. However, she could not laugh. She could not even think. All she could do was stare at him with the same expression.

In my dream, he liked it when I called him Sandor. Sansa caught her breath and finally the first word between them in years came out.

“Sandor,” she managed to say.

Sandor let out an exhale as if he had been holding his breath for minutes. He began to walk over to her hesitantly as if his next step could be fatal. Once he stood over her, he reached out to grab both of her hands, pulling her up to standing; his hands were rough and calloused while hers were porcelain and smooth. The sight of her hands in his sparked her curiosity, wondering how his hands would feel rubbing her sex as she had all those nights apart.

“Little bird,” he whispered. His grey eyes were fixed on hers and Sansa had never seen an expression like this from him before.

The years have made him different, somehow, just like the rest of us.

All her proper words and formal courtesies fled from her mind. I have no song to sing for him, not one like that.

She had thought of this moment for hours during the night, fantasized of such a moment countless times, dreamt of him time and time again. But now that she was finally here, her hands in his, his eyes fixated on hers, she could do nothing other than soak in the moment.

Before she processed her decision, she stood on her toes and placed her lips onto his. He instantly let go of her hands and pulled her into an embrace so sudden it was as if he had been waiting for a signal to do so. With his right hand on the back of her head and his left moving down her back, the kiss transitioned from soft and subtle to eager and hungry. She felt her tongue move into his mouth, as Myranda had taught her to do during their many late-night mischiefs, and his met hers to send sparks throughout her body. She placed both of her hands on his chest, feeling the strength and warmth in his core. Sansa could feel his heartbeat beating as wildly as hers and she moaned from the sheer ecstasy of how perfect this moment had become.

I will never let him leave me again.

A grunt escaped his lips in response to her sounds and soft caresses. She continued to move her hands up and down the front of his body, until she began to push on his chest. While she lacked the physical strength to make him budge, he understood that she wanted him to move backward onto the bed.

Sandor grabbed her waist with both hands and laid her down onto the bed as if she weighed no more than a doll. Her breasts were heaving from her intense breathing, and her auburn hair was a wild sight underneath her. He climbed on top of her and met her lips again, this time using both hands to hold onto her face as he supported his weight with his elbows. She always felt small when standing next to him but being underneath him as she was now made her feel even smaller somehow.

She moved her hand down to reach the bottom of his tunic until he grabbed her wrist, pinning it above her head.

“You don’t know what you are doing, girl.” His voice came out in deep exhales as if he had just finished fighting in a battle. The obstacle of his hand on her wrist that prevented her from undressing him had enraged her. She had enough of people telling her what to do and not do as if she could not think for herself.

With her other hand free from his grasp, she slapped him across his face.

He pulled back from her until their faces no longer touched and let go of her wrist in the process. He held himself over her, staring with longing in his eyes.

I know this look all too well. He will have me, and I will have him.

To Sansa’s delight, the slap she had given him ignited a new level of lust within Sandor. He grabbed the neckline of her dress with one hand and pulled so hard the stitching began to rip, the buttons snapping at the force. She laid there feeling euphoric as he continued to rip her dress off her, tossing it to aside. Underneath she only wore her smallclothes that covered her breasts and sex. She looked down at herself and then at him, but as he sat back between her legs, his eyes were no longer staring at her face, but instead fixated on her body.

She took initiative to move her hands to the thin fabric covering her breasts and pulled it over her head, tossing it onto the floor. Her soft white breasts were shifting up and down with her erratic breathing, her pink nipples harder than she had ever seen them before. She would have blushed at the thought of being so exposed to Sandor years ago. But now, revealing every inch of her body to him felt so right.

“Seven fucking bloody hells.” Sandor rasped under his breath, soaking in the sight of her.

She proceeded to grabbing his tunic again and this time he assisted her in pulling it over his head.

He is so large, so strong, so scarred. He is beautiful, she thought, her mouth gaping open at the sight of the dark hair along his chest that complemented his masculine physique.

Sandor leaned down and placed his mouth onto her right nipple, forcing her hands to cling onto his bare shoulders from the erotic sensation it sent through her. She began to moan much more freely, letting her body respond naturally to his.

With one hand rubbing her left breast, he trailed the other hand down between her legs, rubbing her sex through the thin fabric that covered her. He grunted with a deep exhale as his fingers shoved the fabric to the side and felt her auburn curls. As he slid his fingers up and down her folds, she could hear wet sounds and felt his mouth twitch against her breast.

She could not stop herself from gasping at the sensation of his rough, thick fingers touching her where only she had. Heat radiated from the fingers that were mixing the juices from her sex and her moans became cries of pleasure.

Sandor shifted up to meet her lips as he roughly took her tongue into his mouth again. Her mind could not process what was happening as he moved his kisses from her mouth, to her cheek, and then down her neck. Her heart was beating faster with every kiss and her breathing continued to be erratic and short as his mouth moved lower on her body.

Once he met the folds of her sex, he grabbed the front of her smallclothes and ripped them clean off her body, throwing them to the side. She clenched her fingers through his hair as his lips finally touched her and his tongue began softly licking the inside of her folds. Sansa squeezed her thighs together when she felt like she could not take anymore. His large hands grabbed the side of her thighs and pulled them apart, forcing her to take in every suck and every lick.

Within seconds she peaked, immensely more powerful than any she achieved on her own. She was so loud in her release it put the lovemaking of the couple she heard on her way here to shame. Whoever happened to walk by, whoever happened to be on this level, would surely hear her. Sandor lifted his face up while grasping her thighs as she looked down at him.

He is smiling.

Sansa sat up to grab his face in her hands and pull him into another kiss, deep and longing.

His lips, facial hair and nose were covered in her juices and it tasted better than anything she had ever known. Rather than feeling calm once she achieved her climax as she usually did, Sansa felt her arousal double at the thought of pleasing him.

She reached her hand down and felt how hard his cock was inside his clothing. He stopped kissing her and his forehead fell onto her shoulder, grunting at the sensation of her fingers tracing over his length. She continued to feel up and down when she remembered what Myranda had said about using her mouth. Sansa began pulling at the laces that were confining him before Sandor sat up to pull the remaining clothing off himself.

He began to lower himself back on top of her until Sansa pushed her hands onto his shoulders with all her strength to urge him to lay on his back. Once on his back, Sansa shifted down to rest between his legs, sitting on her knees. She took in the sight of his cock and did her best to push aside the thoughts of how painful losing her maidenhead would be. With it in her hand, she began to stroke it, up and down, as she remembered from Myranda’s gossip. Sandor stared down at her in bewilderment before jolting at the sensation of her mouth coming to meet the head of his cock. She looked up at him as she attempted to fit him inside her mouth, but his girth and length would make it impossible to achieve that completely. Sandor’s eyes were shut, and his left arm fell over his face which almost appeared to be in pain.

He is trying not to come, she thought with a smile falling over her face.

Sandor grabbed a handful of her hair to pull her head up, forcing her face to meet his again as she crawled over his naked body.

He took her into his arms and flipped her underneath him, grunting with each kiss. His right hand reached down to his cock and brought it to her entrance, stroking the head through her wet folds before beginning to push inside of her.

Sansa gasped and tears formed in her eyes as he thrusted his length into her.

He stopped moving and looked into her eyes, his breathing erratic as sweat began to drip off his forehead. Sansa was not going to ruin this moment for him by acting like a little girl who could not handle pain. She used both of her hands to cradle his face, sending kisses all alongside his scarred half. He slowly began to push himself back into her.

Myranda said it would not hurt for long. Then again, her first lover was likely not as large as Sandor.

The sensation of pain felt hot, almost like fire, as he broke into her. Her toes dug into the bed and her fingers gripped his face, shoulders, and anything else in proximity. When she thought he was fully inside her, she nearly fainted when the rest of his cock slid into her.

As she looked at him, she noticed his eyes were closed tightly again. He began to gently pull out of her, and then pushed back in. In, out, in, out, the rhythm began to pick up and Sansa felt the pain become more tolerable as her walls began to accommodate the thickness of his manhood.

Sansa continued to watch his face and saw his various expressions wondering what all it could mean. Was it a mixture of concentration, pleasure, pain from not being able to go as hard as he wanted to while also attempting to refrain from spilling into her? Watching him, feeling him, hearing him and the sound of his cock mixing her juices led her to a climax more powerful than the last.

“Sandor, oh—”

He released a guttural sound and pushed his entire length into her, sending his seed deep inside.

“Fu…fucking hells.” he muttered as he leaned on top of her. His elbows began to give out supporting his weight, so he fell over onto her side, jolting at the sensation of his manhood leaving the embrace of her inner walls.

The two were covered in sweat, their hair damp, and both could do nothing but catch their breaths and let their pulses stabilize.

Sansa threw her arm over his chest and nuzzled in his side. He reached around her with his left arm and pulled her closer to him. As they laid together, Sansa wondered how long it had been since she arrived at his bedchambers.

Any moment now someone will come looking for me. Why can’t I live in this moment forever?

Suddenly she felt Sandor’s lips on her forehead placing the lightest kiss and chuckling under his breath.

“I thought you hated me,” he whispered into her ear.

She turned her head up to look at him, the scarred side of his face closest to her filling her with a sense of comfort when it once filled her with a sense of fear.

“I hate many people, Sandor, but you are not one of them.” She kissed his cheek lightly before laying back onto his chest.

A minute later, they heard faint shouting coming from the courtyard through the closed window. Sansa turned to look at Sandor when the sound of steel became audible and the clashing of steel on steel became more intense. Sandor jerked up and walked over to the window with haste.

Sansa sat up with a sigh, knowing it was time for reality to resume as her euphoric moment with Sandor came to an end. Sandor shut the window to a close only seconds after he had opened it and he began cursing under his breath.

“Get your clothes on, little bird.” Sandor voiced without looking at her, heading towards the bed to grab his own clothing off the floor.

“Why? What is happening?” Sansa began to panic, feeling like a child again.

“Thoros and Beric are going at it with those cunt Knights of the Vale.” Sandor muttered.

Littlefinger.

“My dress, it is ripped.” Sansa uttered as she picked it up.

Sandor walked over to her now fully dressed and took the dress from out of her hands. Her pulled it onto her over her head, her bare breasts spilled from the front where the buttons should have been. The sight of it made him pause for a moment before he turned from her to grab his coat from the chest at the end of the bed.

“Wear this. Wrap it around you tightly and keep your arms crossed. No one will be able to tell a difference with that shite going on outside.” Sandor pulled the hood over her head and lifted her chin up with his right hand. “It will be alright, little bird.”

Suddenly, a rapid, forceful knock came from the door and Sandor picked his sword up off the floor.

Chapter Text

Kill to protect. Remember what the Elder Brother told you.

Sandor repeated the phrase several times in his head, reminding himself that the Hound was dead. The Elder Brother warned him not to forsake the gods when he saved his life and atoned for his sins. And now that he had the little bird back in his life, Sandor was not going to risk being sent to hell when he finally had something worth protecting.

Sandor clenched the hilt of his sword with his right hand as he reached out to unlatch the door, swinging it open to meet the stranger knocking relentlessly on the other side.

The fucking wolf bitch.

Arya had the hilt of her sword, Needle, ready to pull out with her left hand as Sandor opened the door. She took one look at Sandor, then at Sansa, and shifted her head slightly to see inside the room.

“Littlefinger has asked for you,” Arya spoke looking at neither person, pushing her way past Sandor into the room. Sandor closed the door, knowing the little bird’s sister was going to be a pain in the ass. As she was surveying the environment, she happened upon Sansa’s torn smallclothes on the floor and gave Sandor a sinister look. 

“Who?” Sansa asked, crossing her arms tightly in front of her chest, engulfed in his large black coat.

“You,” Arya replied to Sansa, examining her sister’s appearance.

“What the bloody fuck is going on outside?” Sandor rasped.

“Thoros was going at it with a Knight of the Vale. He said something about him being a drunk priest.” Arya reached out for her sister’s arms to pull them apart.

“Arya, stop it!” Sansa shrieked.

“Why are you wearing that?” Arya asked.

She thinks I hurt her and is looking for proof. Sandor nearly smiled.

“I ripped my dress. I need to head to my bedchambers before I meet with Littlefinger.” Sandor could hear the dread in Sansa’s voice. “What was he doing when he told you he needed to see me?” Sansa asked.

“In a meeting.” Arya turned back around to look at Sandor.

“A meeting with who, Arya?” Sansa urged, becoming frustrated with Arya's short responses.

“Harry the Heir.”

Arya snatched Needle from her sheath and pointed it at Sandor’s throat. Sansa shrieked but Sandor wanted to laugh; he knew Arya was a killer, he had seen it, but it was clear she was only wanting to protect her sister’s honor. Sandor knew better than to test her patience though. In many ways, Arya’s patience was as bad as his own. Sandor looked down, furrowing his brows at her. 

“Sansa, if he raped you, I will slit his throat right here and set his corpse on fire.” Arya’s eyes were focused on his.

“He did not rape me, Arya! You were with me when I came here to see him. If you were so concerned about him raping me, why did you let me come?” Sansa yelled.

Arya stood still as she continued to point her sword at Sandor’s throat.

“I was friends with enough whores in Braavos to be able to tell the difference between the ones who were fucked with their consent and the ones who were raped. Your dress is ripped, your smallclothes are ripped, and besides, it’s the bloody Hound. I thought I called your bluff on welcoming him but apparently I was wrong.”

“I fucked him, is that what you want to hear you little fool? I have had enough of your belligerent attitude and it has been one day. I am glad you’re a quick and clever killer now after training in Braavos, but Sandor is not your enemy so put your bloody sword down now!” Sansa shouted, her grip on his cloak loosening and falling down over her left shoulder. Sansa did not even seem to notice or she just did not care.

Sandor could not help but smile at his little bird’s ferocity. The fire in her eyes, the tone in her voice, and the cloak revealing her porcelain chest began to arouse him.

If the wolf bitch wasn’t here I would fuck you all over again.

Arya lowered her sword hesitantly and then sheathed it as she turned away from Sandor. He grabbed his sword belt off the floor and sheathed his sword as well. 

“Let’s go.” Arya told her sister as she headed out the door with a fast pace.

Sansa sighed and walked over to Sandor, placing her head on his chest.

“Look at me, little bird.” Sandor whispered.

She looked up and stared at him with her vivid blue eyes, her auburn hair unkempt around her face. He held her chin with one hand and placed a kiss on her lips, a moan escaping her lips. Sandor fought the urge to throw his cloak off her and have her one more time with the door wide open.

“Go on,” Sandor muttered as he pulled away. Sansa nodded as she headed slowly out the door. 

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In the courtyard, the scuffle between one of the knights and Thoros appeared to be over. Thoros sat on an unloaded wagon, drinking, while Beric honed his sword. As the two men spotted Sandor exit the tower, they both had smirks on their faces.

“Clegane!” Beric called him over to join them.

Cunning little shits. Acting as if they made a man of me.

Sandor walked towards them but instead of the angry demeanor he usually possessed out in public, his indescribable moment with Sansa had made him feel different...happier. Fucking her felt better than anything he had ever experienced and knew nothing could ever compare. It was better than killing, which had been the only thing to make him happy in the past. But that was the Hound, not Sandor Clegane. Despite his feelings, he was not going to give Beric and Thoros the satisfaction of acting like a giddy green boy, but he did not have to snarl at them either.

“I told you taking your armor back to your chambers would be a good idea before we broke our fast.” Beric smiled as he sheathed his sword.

Sandor ignored the comment.

“So you’re picking fights with Knights of the fucking Vale now?” Sandor asked Thoros as he stood watching some of the Northmen training with their swords in the distance.

Thoros took another sip before letting out an airy laugh.

“Aye, called me a drunk priest. Can’t let people begin to speak falsely about me now.”

Across the courtyard, a young man with sandy hair descended from the ramparts. He was dressed in a light blue tunic with a cloak patterned with red and white diamonds. 

“That’s him, Clegane.” Beric said, gesturing towards the young man. “Harrold Hardyng. Heir to the Vale.”

The pretty fucker that wants to marry Sansa.

Sandor was not surprised when he saw him. Every one of Sansa’s suitors, save for the Imp, had been handsome, even that psychotic fuck Joffrey. It baffled Sandor to think that Sansa chose to give him her maidenhead over the pretty boy.

Harry looked far too pleased with himself as he walked into the courtyard and Sandor had remembered that Arya mentioned that Littlefinger was meeting with him prior to summoning Sansa. 

Something is not fucking right.

Harry looked over in their direction and motioned for a few of the Knights of the Vale to follow him.As they approached Sandor, Beric, and Thoros, all three placed their right hand on their sword hilts.

Kill to protect. Remember what the Elder Brother said. Do not swing your fucking sword unless they swing theirs first.

The boy could not look more like a lord-in-waiting. Picturing the twat fucking Sansa made Sandor want to cut his perfectly sculptured head clean off.

No! Remember what the Elder Brother told you.

“So you are Sandor Clegane. The Hound. Everyone has heard of you and your monster of a brother. Well, the rumors are true. You are the most hideous creature I have ever seen.” Harry laughed, his companions joining in.

Do not swing your fucking sword.

“What the fuck do you want?” Sandor lashed out.

“I just wanted to see the man the little Northern whore decided was more important than the support of the Vale.”

Sandor unsheathed his sword, instigated by the insult of Sansa. Thoros and Beric unsheathed their own swords within the blink of an eye, as did the three Knights of the Vale. Everyone in proximity to them stopped what they were doing, gasps and whispers filling the air.

“Go on, kill me, Hound. I would love to see what Lord Baelish would do to the man who dishonored Sansa Stark.” Harry smirked, and began to turn the other direction, but not before spitting at Sandor’s feet. “Here, use that to wet her cunt the next go around.”

Sandor began to swing at him until Thoros and Beric pulled him back with one hand on each arm, positioning their swords at the knights to prevent them from attacking back.

Harry began walking away smiling, his companions following him, and Sandor felt his blood pumping with rage. As Thoros and Beric let go of his arms, he shut his eyes and sat on the ground, catching his breath.

You are not the fucking Hound anymore. Kill to protect. That cunt just used words. Do not swing your fucking sword unless they swing first!

“Clegane, the boy will get what is coming to him.” Beric assured him, offering his hand to help pull him up off the snowy ground.

Even though Sandor wanted to slap his hand away, he was genuinely grateful at how Thoros and Beric stood beside him and prevented him from making a fatal mistake.

Remember what the Elder Brother said. Remember why you are here.

Sandor took Beric’s hand and stood up, sheathing his sword.

“He said Littlefinger knows about Sansa. How the fuck is that possible? It just happened.” Sandor muttered under his breath, talking more to himself than to the other men.

“It’s not.” Thoros said, taking a long swig of his wine.

Chapter Text

Arya helped Sansa make her way across Winterfell as inconspicuous as possible. Only an hour had passed while with Sandor, so Winterfell had only just recently become busy with people starting their day. With what sounded like another commotion happening behind them from where they came, the two sisters were able to make their way to Sansa’s bedchambers without the interference of others.

After Sansa’s young chambermaid drew her a second bath for the day without question, Sansa welcomed the warm water on the soreness of her body, especially the aches radiating from her sex. She washed her hair with floral fragrant oils, saddened that the scent of her and Sandor’s lovemaking would no longer be on her. Each time she closed her eyes, she pictured how perfect that moment between them had been, wondering how long she would need to wait to feel that intimacy with him again.

Sansa stepped out of the tub and brushed her hair, anticipating what Littlefinger wanted to discuss with her. If he was meeting with Harry previously, it had to be about their betrothal. However, he was betrothed to Sansa when she was Alayne, Littlefinger’s bastard. No mention as of yet regarding the marriage between Harry and Sansa had occurred due to the battle with the Boltons and now prepping for battle against the dead who were heading south.

Three months, Bran said. Three months and the dead will be here. Sansa shuddered at the thought. One step at a time. Figure out what Littlefinger wants. 

Once clad in a modest black dress, she braided her hair and draped it over her right shoulder, heading out the door.

She kept her pace quick, desperately wanting this meeting to be over and done with. As she approached his door, she knew it would do no good to meet with him feeling anxious or scared. She had to remember who she was, the Lady of Winterfell. She knew him well enough by now that he would do anything to make her lose her confidence against him.

Let’s play your little game.

“My beautiful Lady Sansa, please do sit. You look quite weary. I assume it is from the lack of sleep.” Littlefinger stood as she entered, a clever smirk playing against his lips.

And so it begins.

“Hello, Lord Baelish.” Sansa walked to sit across from him at his desk. As she sat, she felt pain radiating between her legs and involuntarily winced, however Littlefinger was too busy sorting through parchments on his desk to notice.

“Sansa, I am afraid I have some troubling news. You will no longer be marrying Harry.” Littlefinger pushed the parchments away from him and sat upright in his chair as he met her eyes with his.

He is gauging my expression.

“You will understand if I am not weeping, my Lord. He was hardly kind to me when he thought I was your bastard, and even after he learned who I was, there is quite a lot of talk that he makes crude japes behind my back.” Sansa looked at the parchments on the table, only then realizing he shifted them closer to her. Littlefinger never did anything on purpose, he shifted them in her direction on purpose. 

You want me to notice something. Why?

Before she could remove her eyes to avoid falling for the trick, she saw the parchment that was placed on top of all the others, stamped with the new sigil of House Royce of the Gates of the Moon. 

Nestor Royce’s sigil...a letter from the Vale. Myranda, the letter is from Myranda. Sweetrobin.

Sansa instantly began to feel sick to her stomach, but did not want to give Littlefinger the satisfaction of successfully shaking her confidence.

“Even so, my dear, the marriage would have been quite beneficial for you.” Littlefinger removed the parchments from in front of her, placing them underneath a thick book. Sansa ignored him, knowing he wanted her curiosity of what was in that letter to kill her.

“So what was it? Did Harry decide that Northern girls do not meet his standards? I have already heard how he feels about bastards.” Sansa watched as Littlefinger gave her a small smile before standing up and walking towards the open window, staring out towards the yard. 

“No, my dear. You see, initially Harry was under the impression he would marry my maiden bastard Alayne. Of course, with you revealing yourself, the potential of marrying a highborn, the Lady of Winterfell at that, was incredibly attractive. However, Harry is a young man, and unfortunately, terribly shallow and vain.” Littlefinger’s gaze was fixated out the window but Sansa could somehow feel his stare nevertheless. “All he wanted from you was a maiden.” Littlefinger turned his head to look over his shoulder, a smug smile on his face.

Sansa’s breath caught in her throat.

“But I am a maiden.” Sansa lied.

“Come, Sansa. Stand next to me. It is a beautiful morning.” Littlefinger held his hand out to her.

What does he know? How could he know? And what is happening with Sweetrobin? 

Sansa reluctantly stood up and walked over to meet him, placing her hand into his. He gently led her to stand in front of him, facing the yard, only to pin her forcefully against the wall with his hips. His hand grabbed her braid softly, and she could hear him sniffing her. Sansa looked out the tower, frozen from what he was doing to her.

His hips pushed hers harder into the wall, sending sensations of pain between her sore legs. He began to softly speak.

“Sansa, when have you ever known me to plan out my every move, only to have it all fall apart? I will admit, I wanted nothing more than to keep you chaste, but I knew that was an inevitability. However, last night I was able to confirm my suspicions about you and the Hound when you meant to go on a late night stroll. If you were really my bastard daughter, I would have locked you in your bedchambers until the day of your arranged marriage to who I saw fit. But you are the Lady of Winterfell and your Northmen would have my head if I did that. I had to decide how this inevitability of you spreading your legs to your old friend could fit into my plan. So I adjusted the plans, my dear; this is how you play the game.” Littlefinger let go of her hair and began to brush the back of her neck with his fingers. If anyone chanced to look upon the window, it would look like the two were in a moment of passion, unable to see his hips forcing himself onto her.

Sansa shut her eyes and wanted to scream, cry, and push herself away, but she could not process what was happening. The thoughts of Sweetrobin, Sandor, and Littlefinger’s games put her in a state of shock. As she began to hyperventilate, his fingers were replaced by his lips on her neck as he began to whisper.

“I wonder what your old friend the Hound thought when he saw you naked, how it felt for him to fuck the famously beautiful daughter of Catelyn Tully.” 

Sansa could feel his manhood erect, pressing into her ass. He turned her around to kiss her on the lips, allowing anyone on the ground to witness. Sansa stood there unmoving, her lips flat against his, feeling like a plaything, like the scared little girl in King’s Landing. All of her newfound tricks, cunning, and confidence gained over the years was gone.  

Seconds later, Littlefinger backed away from her, walking towards his desk as if nothing happened. 

“Sit, my dear. It is time we discuss the next steps.”

Sansa stood there for a moment attempting, and failing, to regain her composure. She sat back down and he continued about his business.

“Harry and the Knights of the Vale will be leaving Winterfell to head home tomorrow” Littlefinger explained as he dipped his quill in the ink.

Sansa was taken aback by the information, snapping out of the shock of him molesting her. The Knights of the Vale strengthened their forces significantly. Losing them could not happen, at least not until Jon had confirmed the Dragon Queen would fight with them. If not...

“I don’t understand. They came here for my family to win back Winterfell.” Sansa watched him drop his quill onto the parchment.

“My sweet Sansa. The Knights of the Vale came here with you when you were to wed Harry, and even so, they did not set out for Winterfell until I allowed it. However, as Lord of the Eyrie, Harry now has complete authority on their posting, so I am afraid it is not up to me.”

Sansa stared at him, thinking of the parchment with Royce's sigil. Her fears were confirmed but she would not believe it.

“He is not Lord of the Eyrie, Robert still is.” Sansa spoke in disbelief. 

“I am afraid I have some other troubling news.” Littlefinger dropped his quill into the ink and folded his hands together. “Our sweet Lord Robert passed this morning. Apparently, he had a fit that could not have been managed. That would indeed make Harry the Lord of the Eyrie now.” The smirk on Littlefinger’s face was faint, but present, and Sansa could not hold her grief for the little boy she cared for in any longer.

Tears began to swell in Sansa’s eye and she looked down at her hands, wringing them until it began to hurt.

“I know you cared deeply for the boy. It pains me to see you so upset. But, Sansa, you have made some very poor choices, my dear. Many individuals become too confident while playing the game, and it always ends poorly for them. They lose sight of the goal and become impulsive, forgetting to plan their next step carefully. Your brother Robb is an excellent example.

“You chose to give the one gift that can only be given once to a man who also stood aside while your father was executed and while you were beaten by fellow Kingsguard. I know that guilt will be hard to live with. That, and the guilt of lying to me, the one person who has looked out for you since the beginning. But despite your lying and unappreciativeness, I made it work so we can both win. I made it fit into the game, Sansa.” Littlefinger stood up and walked to her, kneeling on one knee as he grabbed her hands into his. 

“Fortunately, Harry has agreed to assign the Knights of the Vale to Winterfell under one condition. I have done the boy many difficult favors and now is the time for him to pay the price for those favors.” He lifted her left hand up, kissing the top of it gently. “Marry me, Sansa. Marry me and the Knights of the Vale will fight alongside the North in the wars to come.”

Sansa stared at his face incredulously. She wondered how someone could appear so genuine but deep down be so evil. She made no response but instead, pulled her hand out of his grasp. His face went from feigning kindness to his usual smirk. 

“Perhaps this might make it easier for you to make the correct decision: Harry and his men will leave tomorrow at first light, as will I, if we are not to be wedded. But before we depart, I am afraid Harry has insisted on putting down a very disobedient dog.”

Chapter Text

Sandor awoke in his bedchamber, every muscle in his body aching. 

Yesterday, the hours passed and there had been no sign of Sansa since she left him to meet with Littlefinger. Sandor could not seem to locate Arya either, despite his efforts. He managed to find only their younger brother, Bran

Sandor heard talk about the boy, saying that his time beyond the Wall changed him into something else. Apparently, the boy showed no emotion and spent most of his day in the godswood, having some sort of visions or dreams. Despite Sandor’s unfamiliarity with the godswood, Sandor knew if he wanted to find out where Sansa was without raising suspicion, he would need to talk to her brother.

The godswood was much larger than Sandor expected and the sun had already begun to set in the west, creating an eerie atmosphere. Many of the trees were bare as winter approached, however, their limbs formed a haunting canopy overhead as moss and snow covered the ground. Past trees of ash, ironwood, oak, and many others, there stood the weirwood tree. The black pool it stood over reflected the red hue of its leaves, and the face carved into the tree would have made Sandor turn back in any other circumstance.

I do not belong here.

Bran sat in a wheeled chair underneath the weirwood tree, watching Sandor as he approached. His face was still and something about the boy was unsettling. 

As still as a corpse.  

“Hello, Sandor.” The boy greeted, so quietly that Sandor hardly heard him.

“My Lord,” Sandor began, knowing he would be wise not to deny him the proper courtesies.

“You have come here to know where my sister is,” the boy stated.

So he does know everything.

“I have not seen either of your sisters since this morning.” Sandor sat on a wide stone bench beside the black pool, facing towards Bran.

“No, they do not want to be found by men.” Bran’s right hand lifted to brush the weirwood tree, caressing the bark like a mother would on her child’s cheek.

“Why not?” Sandor asked, becoming more disturbed by the boy’s speech and behavior.

The boy’s hand froze on the tree and seconds passed before Bran placed his hand back into his lap, meeting Sandor’s eyes. 

“Do you love Sansa?” Bran asked as soft as a whisper.

Do I? What do I know about love? I know about killing and hate, and the closest I have ever come to love is by killing those I hate. 

Sandor sat for a moment and sighed, chuckling under his breath at the thought of how absurd it was for a man as ruined as Sandor Clegane to love someone as perfect as Sansa Stark, atonement or not.

“Aye, I love her.” Sandor admitted, staring into the water across from him.

I love her, but she could never love a man like me. She might have let me have her, but many beautiful highborn girls did such things behind closed doors for a thrill.

Sandor remembered about Thoros’ vision, stating that he saw Sandor marry Sansa. But no matter how badly he wanted to believe it, the seven hells would have to freeze over before that happened.

“A great number of men desire my sister, if not for her beauty, then for her title. It is good to know there is one man who genuinely loves her. A man who would trust her in the decisions she must make, no matter how little he may understand them, or how badly they might hurt.”

Sandor looked up at the boy, his eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

What is this strange boy getting at?

“I do trust her. She is a clever young woman, only a fool would deny that.” Sandor responded.

“Good. That will be important for you to remember.” Bran stared at him, silence lasting for a minute before looking down at the dark water.

“Sansa has accepted Lord Baelish’s marriage proposal. The two will wed here, in the sight of the old gods, two days hence. Goodbye, Sandor.” Bran reached again for the weirwood tree and his eyes fell back into his head. The sight might have frightened Sandor, but the totality of his mind was processing what the boy had just told him. 

The sun was fully set by the time Sandor found Thoros and Beric outside of the Great Hall, drinking on a bench. As he approached, the two stopped talking to one another and immediately began to stand.

They know. Everyone must know by now.

Sandor kicked the wine flask from Thoros’ hand, spilling the contents into the snow. Beric attempted to pull him away from Thoros, but was pushed aside forcefully. The onlookers who were lingering outside the Great Hall began to return inside, clearly not wanting to be in the midst of the infamous Hound’s rage.

“Clegane, calm yourself!” Beric shouted before Sandor kicked Thoros to the ground. 

Sandor stopped once he fell and began stalking angrily towards the now empty yard that was meant for sword practice. Once he unsheathed his sword, he began slashing at every practice target, wooden pillar, and stone wall in his direction. Blind with rage, he swung at everything until Beric met him in the yard and unsheathed his sword, swiping his hand along the length and engulfing it with fire. 

The sight of fire gave Sandor pause and he slowly began to lower his sword as a grimace fell over his face. 

“You mean to fucking kill me, is that it?” Sandor shouted.

“Better to kill you than to allow you to kill one more innocent man.” Beric said, not unkindly, but justly.

Sandor threw his sword down in the snow, walking towards the guest tower. He skipped several steps at a time as he ascended to his bedchamber and shut the door behind him so hard he heard the wood crack.

Minutes later, Beric and Thoros entered with his sword, placing it on the table. Sandor sat on the edge of the bed, his elbows resting on his knees as his head was placed between his hands to stare at the floor.

I am losing my mind. All of my thoughts are not mine but the Hounds.

Sandor slowly looked up at the two men who stood in front of him in silence.

“You said you saw her marry me,” Sandor pointed at Thoros, making every effort not to shout at him.

“Aye, Clegane. That is what I saw.” Thoros’ demeanor was unusually grim.

“So why the fuck is she marrying that perverted scheming cocksucker?” Sandor’s head fell back into his hands. Very few times in Sandor’s life had he felt weak and not in control. The feeling put horrible thoughts in his head: killing Littlefinger in the most gruesome ways possible, fucking Sansa every which way, whether she wanted him to or not, killing anyone who got in his way.

No, those are not my thoughts, those are the Hound’s thoughts.

“The Lord of Light has shown me many things, Clegane. Many times I have been confused by what he chooses to show me and what the meaning of it is. You need to keep faith.” Thoros preached, taking a swig of wine from a flask that was different than the one he lost in the snow. 

“Keep faith in a buggering god that I don’t hardly believe in aside from keeping this fucker alive for so long?” Sandor gestured towards Beric.

“Keeping faith in Sansa, my friend.” Beric clarified as he sat in the chair across from him.

“Here,” Thoros offered his wine, but Sandor declined with a grunt.

“If I drink that, I will end up killing someone.”

“Wise choice, Clegane. Although I never thought I would see the day.” Thoros managed to smile faintly. 

“Leave me.” Sandor fell back onto the bed, his eyes shut. He heard the two men leave, shutting the door behind them.

Sandor began to imagine his little bird. Her pretty auburn hair, the softness of it in his first as she sucked his cock. The sounds she made as he touched her, licked her, and fucked her. Her blue eyes so fixated on his face, his face. A face no one could look at longer than a second but she looked at him as she peaked and clenched around him inside her. 

The thoughts made Sandor’s cock so hard that he immediately began to release himself from the confinement of his clothing, stroking his manhood as he remembered how she smelled, tasted, and felt that morning. He could hear her moans and her sighs, remembering how erratic she had been breathing and how the sweat began to form between her thighs and breasts. 

His fantasy ended when he began to picture Littlefinger on top of her, making her moan and scream and gasp. He stopped stroking his cock and sat up, reaching over and throwing the wooden chair at the stone wall, causing it to erupt into several splinters. 

Sandor collapsed back onto the bed and somehow managed to find sleep.

As he awoke in the morning, the soreness from yesterday greeted him coldly. He did not want to move and he would not have if it were not for the quiet knock on the door.

The door was not latched and Sandor only lifted his head up to see who was entering.

Arya had shoved a man inside, appearing to be one of the guards who had come from the Vale. She pointed Needle at him and gestured for him to sit against the wall. 

“If you leave this room or tell anyone I came here...if you so much as do anything other than sit, and piss and shit in that chamber pot, I will gut you and feed your entrails to my brother’s direwolf.” 

The guard nodded in terror and backed as far up against the wall as he could. Sandor sat up, his head throbbing from lack of water or food, and stood to face Arya in confusion.

“What in the seven hells are you doing, girl?” Sandor rasped.

“Taking you to see my sister.” 



Chapter Text

Sansa entered the godswood at first light, admiring the beauty of the old gods, wondering how she could have been such a fool to want to leave the North.

The ancient weirwood tree stood alone in front of her once she entered. Sansa had become so accustomed to seeing Bran sitting next to it, the tree looked isolated without him. Sansa stood in front of the weirwood, brushing the bark lightly. She had prayed to the new gods for the majority of her life that praying to the old gods felt foreign to her.

The new gods never heard my prayers when I was being tormented by Joffrey. Perhaps my father's gods will protect me and give me the courage I need to do the things that must be done.

Tomorrow, Sansa would stand in this very spot and wed the man who had manipulated and molested her time and time again. 

Upon departing Littlefinger’s solar and accepting his marriage proposal, she spent the rest of the day with Arya down in the crypts. Sansa was always frightened of walking among the crypts as a child, but she knew now this was the only place to feel safe, and besides, her father was down here.

Remember who you are, you are the Lady of Winterfell.

Sansa had expressed to Arya once in the crypts how disgusted she was with herself during her encounter with Littlefinger. She had allowed him to manipulate her once again and shatter her confidence upon learning of Sweetrobin’s death, the Knights of the Vale leaving, and the threat on Sandor’s life.

Despite their differences in the past, Arya and Sansa were still sisters and Sansa was especially thankful for the wisdom and comfort that Arya provided her. Littlefinger’s game had provoked Sansa to come up with her own, and she would play her game to bring him down at last. The hours passed and the girls discussed the consequences and benefits of each action until finally it was settled.

“He has won a battle, you will win the war.” Arya said.

Yes, I will win the war.

The two departed from the crypt late that evening and Sansa entered her bedchamber, repeating the plan in her head again and again, until she fell asleep.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Arya woke her up at first light by knocking on the door and shoving the guard outside of her room inside, her sword pointed at his throat. 

“Sit down and do not make a sound. If you leave this room or notify anyone about what has happened here I will cut off your limbs one by one.” Arya threatened him.

Sansa immediately began to get dressed, her hands shaking at the realization that their game had officially begun.

“Arya, when I said remove our guards from our rooms, I did not mean for you to threaten to kill them.” Sansa explained as she brushed her hair.

“So should I just slit his throat instead?” Arya asked innocently.

The guard shook his head rapidly, his mouth gaped open in fear.

“Seven hells, Arya.” Sansa sighed.

“Well then this is the only other option or else he would have just come back to your empty room.” Arya retorted, shoving the man to the ground to face the wall as Sansa began to dress.

Sansa decided on a deep green dress with a corset that caused the top of her breasts to spill over as much as a highborn lady would dare. Even if she could not give herself to Sandor the way she wanted, she hoped he would at least find satisfaction at the sight of her.

Or hate me for teasing him, Sansa thought with a smile.

As Sansa headed to the godswood, Arya went to repeat the process with Sandor, incapacitating the guard Littlefinger put outside his bedchamber to ensure that he and Sansa did not have another encounter. Fortunately, Littlefinger did not assign more than one guard, perhaps to keep suspicions and rumors at bay.

The Lady of Winterfell, and a prisoner in my own castle. 

Moments continued to pass in the godswood as she sat at the base of the weirwood tree, sitting alongside thick roots that nearly went up to her knee when standing. It was cold, and snow covered the ground, but Sansa did not fuss over it. Her mind was preoccupied with plan, and the thought of seeing Sandor heated her very core. However, she knew this visit would not be a pleasant one for either of them. 

As Sansa began to hear footsteps approaching through the trees that lined the entrance to the godswood, she stood abruptly, her back leaning against the weirwood tree.

What if something went wrong? What if instead of Sandor, it’s Littlefinger. What would he do to me then if he found out? What would he do to Sandor?

Sansa’s sudden paranoia ended when Sandor appeared, striding over to her and grabbing her roughly into his arms. He kissed her eagerly from her mouth, to her neck, and to the tops of her breasts. She was breathless when he finally stopped to speak.

“You are the most beautiful fucking woman, do you know that?” He grunted as he returned to kiss her neck, but as much as she wanted this moment to go on forever, she could not waste any time.

“Sandor,” Sansa began as he was still kissing her neck, his arms gripping her body to be flush to his. “Sandor, please. We need to talk. I do not know how much time we will have before someone comes to look for me.” 

“Aye, little bird.” Sandor responded, letting her out of his embrace slowly. “That we do. I met here with your brother yesterday. He dealt me the brunt of it.” Sandor mummered. 

Sansa sat beside one of the tall roots and pulled him down with her. 

“Sandor, you will not like what I am about to tell you but I need you to listen to me.” Sansa warned. He sighed and proceeded to nod. “I would have met you in the crypts, as it's safer there, but there are too many eyes on that side of the castle. This is the safest place for us, for now.” Sansa picked up his right hand and placed it into her lap. “I need to know as briefly as you can explain it: what happened after Arya left you to die?” Sansa asked.

Sandor’s eye’s shifted to look down at their hands and chuckled under his breath. 

“The Hound died. The Elder Brother saved me. I became a gravedigger on the Quiet Isle once I confessed to my sins. I vowed never to speak again unless chosen to and to never return to what I once was.” 

“To never kill again?” Sansa questioned for clarity.

“Not that, just to never kill from rage again. To only kill to protect.” Sandor brushed her hands with his fingers, her mouth beginning to gape open from how good it felt to have him touching her again. 

“I prayed for you, you know. The night of the Blackwater. I prayed to the Mother to save you and to gentle the rage inside of you.” Sansa reflected, remembering how scared she had been that night.

Sandor stared into her eyes deeply and she thought he meant to kiss her again, but he only sighed and his gaze went back to their hands. 

“The rage has not left me, little bird, not yet.”

“But you have changed, I have seen that. Arya has, too. She heard you talk with the others on your way to Winterfell about atoning for your sins.” Sansa shifted to sit onto her knees so she could be eye level with him on the ground.

“What does this have to do with anything?” Sandor asked, his eyes struggling to stay off her breasts spilling from her corset.

“Everything.” Sansa replied. “Sandor, you know I must marry Littlefinger tomorrow.”

Sandor’s demeanor became exasperated, his eyes meeting hers with both wrath and sorrow.

He is right, the rage is not gone.

“Aye, your brother did not fail to mention that. I assume you have a good reason to accept that fucker’s proposal. Or did you just need a good fuck from me before you decided to settle down with a lord?” Sandor rasped at her.

Sansa’s hand left her lap and she slapped him across the face with all her strength.

“No! You do not get to talk to me that way, not you. I have been insulted and shamed by everyone since I left Winterfell years ago and I will not allow you to become another one of them.” Sansa yelled.

A smirk appeared on Sandor’s face as he wiped away the blood that began to form from the fresh cut on his lip. 

“Do that again, little bird, and I will have to fuck you right here in the snow.” Sandor warned.

Sansa decided to ignore that threat, despite how arousing it was to hear him say it. 

“If I did not accept his proposal, you would be dead right now.” Sansa muttered.

“I will gladly die if it means saving you from wedding that perverted fuck.” 

“Well, that is not an option for me. Aside from your life, Harry would have left with the Knights of the Vale had I not accepted Littlefinger’s offer. It would mean losing a bulk of our strength in the wars to come,” Sansa explained.

Sandor gave a throaty laugh.

“What is so amusing?” she asked, becoming irritated at his failure to remain serious.

“I just realized why you wanted to know what I did on the Quiet Isle. You think I am going to kill Littlefinger, little bird? I would have done it the moment I spotted that slick fucker. I would have done it ten times over by now. And I will, once I find out he has hurt you.” Sandor added, his gaze shamelessly meeting her breasts now.

“Sandor, you cannot kill him. Not yet.” Sansa’s hand brushed the scarred side of Sandor’s face and his eyes left her breasts to meet her eyes. “Not until we have exposed him and the others who are involved.” Sansa began to explain before he cut her off.

“Expose? Get your little assassin of a sister to fucking end this shite here and now. Why do you need to make his death a formality? Kill him before the marriage and be done with it.” Sandor’s eyes began to fill with rage again.

“If you would let me explain!” Sansa began, removing her hand from his face. “Littlefinger killed Robert Arryn, my Aunt Lysa’s and Lord Jon Arryn’s son. When I lived in the Vale with Robert, Littlefinger was always ordering the maester to give him sweetsleep to help with his fits. The maester often warned against it, that too much could kill the boy, but Littlefinger insisted. When I met with him yesterday, a parchment was on his desk with Nestor Royce’s sigil. Littlefinger has only recently granted him hereditary lordship over the Gates of the Moon which makes him in favor to support Littlefinger. Nestor’s daughter, Myranda, stayed with Lord Robert when we came to the North and it would not have been difficult for her father to have her give Robert one large dose of sweetsleep. I always thought Myranda cared for the boy, but she is in many ways like Littlefinger. 

Robert dying makes Harry the Lord of the Eyrie, but Littlefinger would have never gone to such lengths or risk so much for him. He initially wanted me to marry Harry. Why do you think that is? Once I was Harry’s wife, Littlefinger would have made me a widow and taken his place. I know for certain Littlefinger will have him killed somehow after our marriage tomorrow is consummated.” Sansa paused once Sandor gave her a furious glare. 

“Consummated? So now you have included fucking him into your plan?” Sandor growled at her. 

“Stop it! I have had enough with you. I told you this conversation would be difficult but you need to listen! If our marriage is not consummated, Littlefinger will not kill Harry until it is. Once he feels he has secured me as his wife, I would not doubt it within a day that Harry is murdered. Once Harry is dead, it will be a bloodbath between the Lords Declarant, Littlefinger, and any other extended family of the Arryn’s to gain a foothold of the Eyrie. If he has me, he just might be able to convince the Lords Declarant that not only is he fit to rule, but rely on their sympathy as I am my late aunt Lysa Arryn’s niece. He will use the fact I took care of Robert, that he saved me from King’s Landing, and a slew of other things to win his favor. Nestor Royce will certainly help him because Littlefinger has him bought with titles and lands, as he does many others in the Vale.

That being said, the only way we bring down Littlefinger is by providing proof. My brother has had visions of Littlefinger conspiring against my family and tricking my father into trusting him. He murdered my aunt right in front of me, justifying it was to protect me. But Bran’s word as well as mine is not enough. Littlefinger is a lord, it will take more than two siblings to justly bring him down. If I have him murdered in cold blood, I become the Lady of Winterfell who kills those she does not like. And who is to say Harry will not take the Knights of the Vale and team up with Cersei as revenge? Harry is a fool and believes Littlefinger to be his ally.

Littlefinger does well to cover his tracks, I would never find a parchment leading him guilty on all of these charges.” Sansa took a deep breath, to allow Sandor to speak.

“How in the seven buggering hells can you know this from seeing a sigil on a parchment? If you are wrong, you will be wed to a man who knows you mean to have him murdered.” Sandor expressed with frustration.

“You have to trust me Sandor, please. I know Littlefinger and I know he does not help anyone unless it directly benefits him. Please, just have faith in me, please.” Sansa pleaded.

Something appeared to have struck Sandor and his eyes met hers with a gentleness that was a welcome sight after the scornful attitude he had for most of the conversation. Sandor took her hand and kissed it lightly.

“I do trust you, and I do have faith in you.” Sandor whispered.

Sansa could not hold back a smile before continuing.

“Tomorrow night, you will need to follow and watch Harry. Arya will be with you when she can but she has her eyes set on Nestor Royce to catch him off guard. If Littlefinger has one of his men set on killing Harry, you need to stop it from happening. We need both Harry and whoever Littlefinger hires to be alive at this trial. Harry can verify that someone intended to murder him and the hired assassin will testify he was paid by Littlefinger if we offer to send him to the Wall as opposed to beheading him for his crime. Once we have done that, the assigned judges will find Littlefinger on at least the one charge, which is enough to sentence him to death.” Sansa took another deep breath. “Once found guilty, I will have him beheaded. By you. Consider it a just enough reason for killing.” Sansa smiled, hoping the fear of unsuccessfully implementing her plan did not show in her eyes.

No, it is a good plan, a smart little game. I pray to the old gods I am right.

Sandor smirked, clearly pleased with the idea that he would be able to enact the justice that Littlefinger was long overdue for. 

“Aye, I can do that.” Sandor nodded. “Clever, little bird.”

Sansa gave a sigh of relief at his agreement, and began to stand up from the snowy earth. 

Sandor grabbed her hand and pulled her down forcefully, falling onto his lap. His face fell between her breasts, licking the tops of them with hungry grunts. 

“Sandor, stop it! We have to go. Littlefinger will be looking for me any moment to break his fast.” Sansa began to push his head off of her despite the arousing sensations developing between her legs.

“I see. You wore this dress to give that smug fucker a little taste of what he would be getting tomorrow night, is that it?” Sandor asked with malice. 

Sansa slapped him again, even harder than the first, creating a deeper cut on his lip.

“Now you’ve done it.” Sandor rasped, turning Sansa onto her stomach on top of a thick root of the weirwood tree. “I said if you slapped me again, I’d fuck you right here.” Sandor lifted up her dress and pulled down her stockings and small clothes in one motion to expose her to him.

Sansa used all her strength to push up from the root of the tree, but his right hand pressed down into the small of her back so that she could not escape.

“Stop it! Not here!” Sansa’s cries came out sounding more aroused than scared. The feeling of his hand rubbing her folds with her ass up in the air felt even better than it had the very first time he had touched her there.

“Stop, please, this isn’t right Sandor,” Sansa whimpered in pleasure.

Sandor reached around her, pulling her breasts out of her dress, allowing them to hang over the weirwood root. He made a grunt so guttural, it sounded as if a beast meant to take her. Sansa heard the sound of him lowering his breeches and within seconds he pushed himself inside of her, holding tightly onto her hips.

Sansa cried from arousal but also from the pain. Her sex was still sore from their lovemaking yesterday however the pain subsided much quicker this time as he took her from behind. Sansa’s back arched and she began to feel the same euphoric feeling as she had in his room. She listened to the sounds of his grunting, the sound of his cock in her wet folds, the sound of him slapping her ass, and watched as her breasts bounced over the root with each thrust. 

Sandor’s pace continued to increase and before long she found herself moaning with every entrance and exit, their lovemaking melting the snow beneath them. Sansa looked over her shoulder to see the sight of it; having her bent over, exposed to him, him in full control. He had the bottom of his tunic in his mouth so it would not cover the sight of his manhood entering her sex nor the bouncing of her ass as he thrusted inside of her. She could see the muscles and scars along his body and felt herself tighten against his length. His eyes were closed, but she watched his face anyway, admiring every inch of the man she loved. 

He opened his eyes when he felt her tighten against his cock, and she immediately peaked, arching her back so far that her face fell down onto the root. Sandor let out a long, deep grunt and felt him spill his seed inside of her, his face falling onto her back as he convulsed from pleasure. 

Tell him. 

Sandor pulled out of her slowly and jerked at the sensitivity of removing his cock from inside her warmth, back into the cold environment. Sansa felt his seed begin to run down her thighs and pulled up her smallclothes and stockings. She stood to fix her dress and place her breasts back inside the corset, her knees sore from the impact on the hard earth.

Sandor stood alongside her, lacing his breeches, and pushing his hair out of his face. 

Tell him.

Sansa took his hands into hers and stood on her toes to kiss him on the lips.

“I love you,” she whispered.

 

Chapter Text

Remember who you are. You are the Lady of Winterfell. He has won a battle, but you will win the war.

 

Sansa arrived at the godswood wearing a gown of silver, embroidered with dark grey leaves on the sleeves that shimmered in the candle light. She wore her hair half up, letting the loose auburn waves caress over her shoulders. 

The sun was set in the West by the time the wedding ceremony began. Sansa was escorted by her brother, Bran, while Arya assisted in pushing his chair through the trees and towards the weirwood.

Littlefinger stood in the exact spot where Sandor had made love to her the day before, now covered in freshly fallen snow. He was clad in a long black coat with fur trim, accompanied by a silver mockingbird pin. With each step, Sansa stared at his malicious grin without an ounce of fear visible on her face, watching as his smugness slowly faded when she did not give in to his intimidation.

Northern weddings were never large, and certainly not a spectacle like her wedding to Tyrion Lannister. The few in attendance included the lords and ladies of the visiting Northern houses who were sworn to House Stark in the wars to come, Harry Hardyng, the new Lord of the Eyrie, and several of the highest ranked Knights of the Vale. As she met the faces in the audience, she witnessed a range of expressions, from Harry’s taunting smile to Lady Karstark’s horror. 

They all think I'm a fool to marry Littlefinger. But it is better to be a clever fool than to watch the man I love murdered due to my pride. 

Sasna arrived underneath the weirwood, steps away from Littlefinger, and feigned a smile in his direction. 

Let the game begin.

In the presence of the weirwood tree, Lord Nestor Royce walked forward to begin the ceremony. Sansa heard a snigger come from the audience and knew it would have come from one of the Northern lords.

Only a Northerner should perform a Northern ceremony. But which Northern Lord would assist in wedding me, the honorable Ned Stark’s eldest daughter, to the sly, manipulative Petyr Baelish?

“Who comes this night before the old gods?” Nestor Royce bellowed.

“Lady Sansa of House Stark comes here to be wed. She comes to beg the blessings of the gods. Who has come to claim her?” Bran’s voice was a haunting sound in the godswood, quiet and monotone. His face remained utterly vacant and Lord Nestor Royce appeared to become agitated by the boy’s response.

Littlefinger took a step forward, eyeing Arya warily, before smiling towards his bride.

“Petyr of House Baelish, Lord of Harrenhal. Who gives her?” Littlefinger asked.

“Brandon of House Stark, eldest surviving son of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully.” Bran’s response was so hushed Lord Nestor Royce furrowed his brows at him before continuing. 

“Lady Sansa, can you claim this man?” Nestor Royce questioned.

Sansa’s eyes met with Littlefinger’s and without hesitancy or fear, she responded.

“Yes.”

 


 

The wedding feast in the Great Hall was modest as food became scarce with the onset of winter, but nevertheless, the Northmen and Knights of the Vale alike managed to get thoroughly drunk.

Sansa took a small bite of everything that was provided to her despite her lack of an appetite. She knew better than to outwardly appear anxious whilst around Littlefinger. Littlefinger was powerless against her when she maintained her confidence and composure but once he caught sight of her fear, he would always win.

Remember who you are. The Lady of Winterfell. He is the pawn in your game, you are not the pawn in his.

Sansa looked across the Great Hall and saw Harry Hardyng pull one of the serving girls into his lap, his face nuzzling at her breasts, and knew he was entirely too drunk.

Entirely drunk and entirely easier to kill. Another one of Littlefinger’s moves, surely.

Somewhere outside the Great Hall, remaining inconspicuous, Sandor would be waiting for Harry to exit. It would be his duty to keep Harry alive, taking the hired killer into custody with enough capacity left to testify against Littlefinger in a trial. 

Sandor will not fail me, and when this is all over, perhaps it will be him and I sitting on the dais together.

Sansa consumed more wine than she had intended, but as the time for the bedding became nearer, she was convinced it would be better to be as drunk as Harry. As she held up her cup for a passing serving girl to refill it, Littlefinger placed his hand over it, shaking his head at the serving girl.

“Thirsty tonight, my wife?” Littlefinger asked, pulling the cup from her hand.

“Most wives like to drink on their wedding night,” she responded coyly. 

His eyes met hers as he smirked and took her hand.

“Drinking, yes. Or perhaps you are anxious about something?” Littlefinger posed, squeezing her hand lightly.

Feeling for sweat, no doubt. 

“No, my Lord.” Sansa responded without hesitance. 

“Very well. I do believe it is time to leave these good men and women to enjoy their festivities.” Littlefinger squeezed her hand tightly before standing up on the dais. “My lords and ladies, I do believe it is time I have bedded my bride. Enjoy tonight, for tomorrow we shall continue our preparation for the wars that are to come.” Littlefinger bowed as the drunk attendees began to cheer and yell out bawdy japes at the couple. 

Sansa was thankful that a bedding ceremony had not been granted but the Knights of the Vale, including the deliriously drunk Harry Hardyng, were yelling out the most vulgar japes she had ever heard. Sansa could only look at the young lord and for the first time, feel sorry for him becoming a pawn in Littlefinger’s game. 

He so deeply believes that the two are allies. Then again, we have all been there.

Littlefinger led her by the arm and the two exited from the warm, lively Great Hall into the cold, desolate courtyard. It appeared to Sansa that everyone who had not been invited into the Great Hall had retired for the night save for the few guards on duty throughout the castle.

And Sandor. He will be out here, somewhere, waiting for Harry.

Sansa’s eyes continued to explore the yards, ramparts, and bridges of each tower as they headed towards the bedchamber. She yearned for the sight of Sandor, reflecting on the moment she confessed that she loved him in the godswood. She had never seen Sandor Clegane so staggered. Initially, she took his reaction as a sign he did not have mutual feelings. But to her delight, he kissed her fervently and whispered that he loved her too. 

However, Sansa knew seeing Sandor as she was being led by a man he despised to consummate their marriage would be a disaster. Sandor’s morals regarding killing may have changed after his time on the Quiet Isle, but he continued to struggle with his anger; it would be better for him not to be tested and for the two to not cross paths.

As they entered her bedchamber, she was overwhelmed by the heat radiating inside of the room. She looked towards the brazier and saw a raging fire. The flames were so large she worried it would set the whole tower up in flames. Feeling uncomfortably hot, Sansa wiped the sweat dripping down her forehead and began to fan herself with her hands.

“Too warm, my love? Allow me.” Littlefinger walked towards the window and opened the shutters, letting in a welcome gust of cold air. He turned back towards her, a roguish smile on his face.

No, Sansa thought. This is no coincidence. This is a trick. He wanted a reason to have the window open. And you fell for it.

Despite her suspicions, Sansa continued to play her part in the game, praying for her confidence to remain unscathed.

Remember who you are. The Lady of Winterfell. Win the war.

Sansa gasped when his cold, slender hands touched the small of her neck as he began to unlace her gown.

“In another life, you could have been my daughter. Perhaps the gods were blessing me when Brandon Stark nearly killed me when I challenged him for your mother’s hand. You look so much like her, my dear, it is almost like a second chance”. The tone of his voice was filled with mischief and he had spoken so quietly she nearly had to stop breathing to understand him.

Ignore his words. Do not let him distract you. Remember who you are. 

The unlaced gown fell down onto the floor and she stood there in her smallclothes, her nipples poking through the fabric as the cold air rushed into the window. He stood in front of her with hungry eyes, admiring his view.

“As a brothel keeper, the whores would often complain about men who became too frugal with their coin. And I do not like frugal. But when I looked into the matter, they were not frugal, they were bored. For most men, fucking the same whores becomes tiresome. While there is no shortage of whores, sometimes it is better to have one priceless whore over a hundred common whores.” Littlefinger reached for her thin fabric covering her breast and pulled it over her head gently. 

The cold breeze gave her goose pimples and her nipples were so hard they began to ache. He stood back once more, smirked, and then walked behind her to place his hands on either side of her hips.

“What is a priceless whore? Well she is not a whore at all, but a maiden. Bring me one maiden and I can make the same amount off her as I can with one hundred skilled whores.” Littlefinger explained, pulling off her remaining smallclothes, revealing the curve of her ass and the auburn curls on her sex.

Sansa continued to stand in silence as he circled her, attempting to maintain an unruffled demeanor. But something about this story began to fracture her confidence.

“The problem with maidens though is they do not last. One fuck and suddenly she is a whore like the rest of them. Unless you consider an alternative, which I did. Most women believe they have one maidenhead but in reality, you have two.” Littlefinger placed the palm of his hand on the front of her sex, rubbing her curls with his fingers. “The first maidenhead. The one you decided to give to your Hound.” Littlefinger reached around her waist, placing his hand in the middle of her ass. “And the second maidenhead. The one you will give to me.”

Sansa’s demeanor broke in an instant as her heart sank into her stomach.

“You can’t mean...I can’t,” Sansa stuttered.

“Oh, you can, my dear. I have seen hundreds of whores do it, male whores specifically, but it was quite a trend in my brothels in King’s Landing. Some of the women do find it quite pleasurable. Perhaps not the first time or the second.” He placed a soft kiss on her lips before turning away towards the window. At first she thought he meant to close it, but instead he patted the empty table that laid below, grinning sinisterly.

Not only does he intend to sodomize me, but he means to have me heard by the entire castle.

Sansa’s hands began to tremble and were covered with cold sweat. You have to consummate this marriage, Sansa reminded herself. Remember who you are. 

She made her way towards the table as Littlefinger watched her breasts gently bounce with each step. She paused at the table feeling like she would faint, placing her hand on the surface to balance herself.

If only I could have become utterly drunk at the feast, I would not have to live with this horrifying memory.

Littlefinger knelt down in front of her, his face at level with her sex, smelling her. His fingers traced down her long milky legs until he stopped at her knees.

“Your knees appear to be bruised, my dear,” he whispered. “Quite poetic. Losing your maidenhead to a Hound while being fucked like a dog”.

Sansa gasped as he turned her over, shoving her face down onto the wooden table. 

“My wife. The daughter of Catelyn Tully,” Littlefinger said as he began to place a finger inside the folds of her sex. Sansa jerked at the painful sensation, whimpering into the table. Seconds later, another finger shoved inside of her, a cry escaping her mouth. Her sex was dry and her walls were still sore. Whichever way Littlefinger decided to take her, it would be painful.

He wants you to be heard. You cannot let him win. Remember who you are.

Littlefinger removed his hand and Sansa could hear the sound of him undressing. She anticipated what would come next, the pain of his manhood entering her, sodomizing her.

She heard the sound of him spit and then felt the touch of his fingers spreading apart her ass, rubbing her entrance before shoving a finger inside. 

Sansa turned around to push his hand away, screaming in the process, but he halted her efforts by using his left hand to press sharply into her back while his right hand loosened her entrance. He inserted another finger and began to fuck her ass slowly, grunting at the tightness. Sansa covered her mouth with her right hand, gripping the table with her left, and let out a long whimper as tears began to fall.

“I have loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you. I rescued you, taught you, killed for you. It hurts me to see you in pain, my love, but I did warn you not to lie to me.” Littlefinger muttered as he pulled his fingers out of her, replacing them with the head of his cock.

Sansa began to weep softly into her hand, her eyes clenching in anticipation of the pain, trying to think of any moment other than this.

Think of Sandor. His kisses, his caresses, and his voice. Do not let LIttlefinger break you.

She was immediately snapped out of her thoughts as the length of his manhood began to enter her as he sighed with pleasure at the sensation of her ass tightening around his cock. A blaring scream escaped Sansa’s mouth and she began to beg as if it were a reflex.

“Stop! I can’t! Please stop!” she cried, trying to crawl away from his tight grip on her hips.

“Yes, Sansa,” Littlefinger moaned as he filled her with his entire length. “Let them hear you,” he pulled out his length slowly and took her by the arm, shoving her against the wall with her head out of the window.

Sansa looked down at the yard below, her tears blurring her vision, but she could see no one. Littlefinger pulled a handful of her auburn hair forcing her to arch her back and lift her head up. She began to bawl causing her breath to become ragged. The window of the bedchamber that once belonged to Lord Eddard Stark was now being used as a tool to defile his daughter publicly. 

“Let them see you, Sansa,” he muttered into her ear as his thrusts intensified. “Show them the real you. To them you may be their Lady,” he paused, giving a satisfied moan. “But to me, you have always been mine.” 

The pain was excruciating and Sansa felt her entire body slowly become numb from shock. Her breasts were scratching against the stone underneath the window as his hand gripped her hair so tightly she expected to see blood drip from her scalp.

Littlefinger’s moans became more frequent and she knew it would not be long before he climaxed. She gave up on fighting him off and took every thrust he dealt her, every spank, every whisper in her ear. Another minute passed before he spilled himself inside of her. He released the grip of her hair and began withdrawing from her ass. He kissed her lightly on the small of her neck.

“Remember your role, my wife,” he whispered breathlessly.

As he retreated towards the privy, all she could do was place her head onto the windowsill and stare out in agony until something caught her eye.

A shadow appeared in the yard and then disappeared. A familiar shadow. Sandor?

The last sound she heard before collapsing onto the floor was the unsheathing of steel.

Chapter Text

Sandor watched Sansa’s chest lift and fall. He laid on the bed next to her, matching his breathing to hers, waiting for her to budge, to wake, to speak. It was late in the night last he knew, but the time seemed to be still in the bedchamber.

Sandor laid there, trying to recall what had happened nothing but an hour ago. He waited in the shadows outside of the Great Hall for Harry Hardyng to make his exit. As the door to the Great Hall opened, Sandor saw Littlefinger escorting Sansa towards their bedchamber. His face grimaced at the man that held the arm of the woman he loved. Sandor began to make his way over to them before forcing himself to stop.

Stop being a bloody fucking fool. If you miss Harry leaving, he could be dead before you find him and she will have been fucked by that scheming cunt for nothing. 

Sandor fell back against the wall, waiting, watching, as more people began to retreat for the night. Nestor Royce exited and Sandor spotted movement along the ramparts to his right, following the man like a shadow. 

The wolf bitch. She is determined to catch that one up to something.

While the rest of the higher lords and knights began to exit left towards the guest tower, the vast majority staggering drunk, Sandor did find it suspicious that Lord Nestor Royce headed right, towards the front of the castle.

Perhaps the little wolf is on to something.

Minutes later, Sandor spotted Harry Hardyng being escorted by a Knight of the Vale. He was easily the drunkest man he had ever seen, and Sandor was no stranger to what it meant to be drunk. Harry leaned against the wall outside of the Great Hall and began to vomit. The knight held onto his arms so he wouldn’t lose balance and end up falling into the vomit pile in the snow while Harry started to laugh. 

Even as a drunkard the fool manages to be pleased with himself.

Suddenly, a faint scream was heard across the yard, taking Sandor’s breath away.

Sansa.

Harry and the knight heard it as well as they began to head to the right, towards the tower where Sansa’s bedchamber was, all the while laughing. 

“Sounds like Baelish is giving it to her good,” Harry slurred, “let’s go hear the bitch moan,” he snickered, holding onto the arm of the knight to keep from falling over. 

Sandor moved against the wall quickly and quietly, keeping in the shadows. He felt his stomach clench as he heard more distressing sounds coming from the direction which they headed. 

She is crying. That fucker is making her cry!

As they made their way closer to the tower, Sandor saw a figure appear from behind between two wooden pillars and sneak behind the knight, slitting his throat. Harry jerked away, falling into the snow unable to get back onto his feet. The blood from the knight's throat sprayed all over Harry’s face, causing him to hyperventilate. Both Arya and Sandor ran onto the scene, sword in hand, their points at the cloaked figure’s head. Harry began to cry and plead for his life.

“Shut the fuck up boy,” Sandor growled, pulling him up as Arya kept her sword pointed at the figure’s head.

“Try anything and I will stick this through your eye and out the back of your skull. Drop your sword,” she demanded. The sword dropped onto the snow and Arya shifted closer to the hooded figure. As she pulled the hood of the cloak off with the point of her sword, Sandor stared at Arya in disbelief. It was Nestor Royce.

“You have got to be the dumbest fuck I have ever seen,” Sandor rasped at Nestor Royce. “Most lords hire cutthroats and sellswords to do their killing.” 

Nestor Royce stared at Harry with malice, spitting at his feet. “I did not want to give anyone else the pleasure of killing this fool.”

“Littlefinger hired you.” Arya stated coolly. 

“I am not telling either of you a bloody thing.” Nestor snarled. 

“Girl, take this weeping child with you and go find Beric and the rest. I will lock this fucker up and get your sister,” Sandor pointed his sword at Nestor’s throat as he let Harry stumble over to Arya. He poked his skin lightly, urging him to move towards where the cells were kept, “Go on, you dumb cunt.” 

Sandor could hear Sansa whimpering as he made his way towards the cells, wishing he could kill Nestor Royce right here and save the girl. Sandor spotted a guard along the wall across from the cells and whispered into Nestor’s ear. “Make one sound and I will cut your cock off.” Nestor remained hushed as they walked quietly in the shadows, making their way into the cellar.

As Sandor shoved the man inside, he used a nearby chain to tighten the bars closed. “If you would rather be an exiled dumb cunt after this is over instead of a dead dumb cunt, do not make a fucking sound,” Sandor rumbled at the man. Nestor spat at the ground again towards Sandor’s feet, but made no effort to speak. Sandor growled at him before departing the cells and rushing towards Sansa’s tower with haste.

As he stood in the shadows, he witnessed two guards hiding behind a wagon, whispering to one another and pointing towards a window in the tower. The guards did not sense him standing there along the wall so Sandor looked up into the window, towards the harrowing noises. It was a sight that burned hotter than the fire that disfigured his face.

“Seven hells,” one guard said to the other, “I can’t watch this anymore. Let’s go.”

“We can’t leave,” the other whispered harshly. “Lord Baelish said the Hound would come. I don’t know about you but one hundred gold dragons is a fine prize to kill one man.”

“I am not going to die trying to kill the bloody Hound for a man who degrades his wife on her wedding night. Go,” the other whispered as they slowly crept past the tower. 

Sandor stared back at the window, his anger flaring. It was a display meant to humiliate and belittle Sansa in her own home, fucking her as if she were a whore. Her eyes were shut tightly and her breathing sounded ragged. Her head was being forced to look up and her cries were filled with such pain that Sandor knew it could not have been just from Littlefinger fucking her. He was hurting her in some way he could not see, and hurting her badly.

The minute he made towards the tower, the raping suddenly stopped. He saw Sansa fall onto the windowsill, her eyes staring out the window and frozen like a corpse. Sandor’s rage pushed him out of the shadows and continued towards the tower, unsheathing his sword. 

The door was latched as Sandor expected so he began to kick at it vigorously, grunting at the pain induced on his leg.

He heard Littlefinger on the other side and a clicking sound, speaking through the solid wooden door. 

“I had a feeling you might be arriving. Although, I expected you to be dead by now. I should have arranged for you to be killed the moment you fucked my wife,” Littlefinger taunted. “Leave here tonight and I might decide not to place a bounty on your head.”

Littlefinger’s words persisted in fueling Sandor’s rage. He kicked at the door twice more and finally a deep crack began to fester. Sandor continued to kick, breaking the metal latch on the other side. Once the latch gave out, he kicked the door once more as it split open, toppling over onto the ground.

He looked up at Littlefinger, a crossbow in his hands, as a bolt shot into his right shoulder.

Sandor dropped his sword at the impact, falling back against the corridor wall as Littlefinger reloaded his crossbow. Sandor pulled the bolt out in one swift motion and lunged at Littlefinger before he could loose the next bolt. Sandor’s hands tightened around his throat, squeezing him with such ferocity that killing him felt like the most honorable thing he would do in his life. 

“No, Sandor.” Arya stepped over the broken door, placing a hand on his shoulder gently. “Leave him for my sister.”

“I could kill this fucker right now and still have kept that bloody vow I made!” Sandor yelled as he continued to squeeze his throat.

Kill to protect. Where is the fault in killing this sick cunt to protect the woman I love?

Arya walked quickly towards the window as her sister laid unconscious on the cold ground, naked, with blood running down her thighs.

“No, my sister deserves to be the one to put him to death.” Arya explained as she gave a short, horrified look at the sight of her sister. She quickly turned to grab a quilt off the bed.

Sandor let go slowly as Littlefinger laid there unconscious, still breathing.

For now.

Beric, Thoros and the other men from the Brotherhood rushed in, pausing at the entrance. Thoros was holding on to drunk Harry Hardyng as he swayed on his two feet, covered in blood.

“Clegane, what have you done? You nearly killed him.” Beric muttered.

Sandor stood and walked towards Arya as she wrapped the quilt around Sansa’s body.  He picked Sansa up into his arms, grunting at the piercing pain in his shoulder where he was shot. She was limp, cold, and the sight of blood on her legs was a thousand times more painful than the blow from the crossbow had been. His eyes were fixated on her pale face and the tears dried on her cheeks. He cradled her in his arms and touched his forehead to hers, hearing her soft breaths. “You are all right, little bird,” he whispered. 

“Take this one out of here and put him with Royce,” Beric ordered two of the men. “Clegane, Lord Hardyng has informed some of the knights what has occurred and Lady Arya informed a couple of the Northern lords and ladies, the only ones who are not unconscious from drink.” Harry nodded his head drunkenly, but appeared to be in a much more sober state after the threat on his life.

“Thank you...thank you…” Harry trailed off, his eyes red from crying. 

“Take her to your bedchamber, Sandor. I will send for the maester.” Arya placed her hand on Sansa’s porcelain cheek for a moment before turning towards the door. 

Littlefinger began to groan and cough, moving his arms as if he meant to push himself off of the ground. Arya kicked his head as she passed by, knocking him out unconscious once more. Before departing, she picked up the crossbow and turned towards the men.

“No one kills Littlefinger until my sister says so or I shoot you with this,” Arya threatened.

“Aye, my lady,” Thoros responded as Harry leaned against him. “As you command.”

From there, Sandor had taken Sansa to his bedchamber as carefully as if he were carrying an infant. He wrapped her with several more quilts before exiting out into the cold, making his way towards the guest tower.

A knock came at the door and Sandor sat up, wincing from the pain in his shoulder as he reached out to unlatch the door. The maester arrived, breathless from the trip up the stairs, looking half a corpse himself being awakened in the late hours of the night. 

“You are injured as well?” the maester asked, squinting at the blood staining Sandor’s shoulder.

“Attend the lady, maester!” Sandor ordered, frustrated at the old man’s lack of haste.

The maester nodded quickly, his eyes widening in fear. He took his bag towards the bed and began disrobing Sansa of the many quilts that covered her. In different circumstances, Sandor would have been aroused and hungry at the sight of her bare body. Now, his eyes shifted towards the blood on her legs and the bruises on her arms and hips that began to darken. 

She was still unequivocally beautiful, but the physical proof of her rape had sent his emotions in disarray. He watched the maester examine her and saw that he, too, appeared distressed from the sight of her. He grabbed a cloth and soaked it in a basin of water as he wiped the blood from her. As the maester began to explore her sex, he urged Sandor over to assist him in keeping her legs open, applying an ointment on her folds and down her ass. Sandor nearly doubled over in pain at the slow realization of what Littlefinger did to her.

Her sharp cries, her ragged breathing...that blood is not from her cunt. That sick fuck sodomized her!

The maester finished attending to Sansa and turned to Sandor, offering to clean his wound. Sandor nodded, knowing he could not die from a festered wound when Sansa would need him to execute Littlefinger.

And execute that sick fuck, I will.

Once complete, the maester exited the bedchamber and Sandor returned to lay on the bed next to Sansa, watching her chest rise and fall. 

 

Chapter Text

Sansa ran into her bedchambers and latched the door, breathless and afraid. She turned towards the window and saw Blackwater Bay on the horizon, glowing.

Not glowing. It is burning. Burning green. 

From behind, a hand grabbed her arm as another covered her mouth. Sansa began to struggle before she recognized she had been here before.

It is only a dream. The same dream. Only, I am older and different somehow.

Sansa touched the hand covering her mouth with tenderness. In this familiar dream, she knew where she was, what was happening, and who was with her. She also knew the person who stood behind her was the man she loved. She caressed the hand with her fingers as it slowly let go and stroked down her neck. Sansa grabbed the hand, kissing the palm with fondness until she realized it was wrong. She paused and ran her fingers over the palms of the hand again.

Too smooth, too slender, and cold...so cold. 

Sansa turned around and saw Petyr Baelish in front of her, a sinister smirk on his face, as green as the flames burning the Blackwater.


Sansa jolted awake and woke to a dimly lit bedchamber.

As her eyes opened, she noticed her vision was blurred. She could not see the figure next to her, but she felt its body reacting to her sudden movement and it touched her face. 

The marriage, the feast, the....

“No!” Sansa screamed pushing the figure combatively, feeling the aches and sores all over her body. “Get away from me!” 

The figure was larger and heavier than she expected and Sansa knew it could not have been who she initially thought it was. She quit pushing and rubbed her eyes as she heard the figure inhale.

“It is all right, little bird,” the figure assured her; a familiar voice, one that brought her solace. The figure cupped her face and stroked her cheek slowly. She reached up to feel the hand, traced its fingers with hers, felt the texture of the skin; it was large, calloused, and warm. 

Sandor.

Sansa attempted to sit up but the soreness in her body, particularly the pain in her lower half, obstructed her from doing so. She let out a whimper as her mind began to waken, revisiting memories from the wedding, the feast, and the…

“Sansa,” Sandor whispered. “You need to rest.” He pulled up the furs that had fallen in her attempt to sit and she realized she was fully naked. Sansa continued to process what was happening but she was too disoriented, feeling as if she had awoken in someone else’s body without knowledge on where or who she was. The only things that were certain to her were that she loved the man next to her and that the pain in her body was debilitating. The pain that had occurred during the...

“I don’t understand,” she whispered, realizing how parched her throat was. “How are you here?”

“I took you, little bird.”

“Took me? But...where is he?” Sansa asked, realizing she was not in her bedchamber but in Sandor’s. He gave a long sigh and Sansa could hear the loathing in it.

“Do not worry about that right now,” Sandor muttered. He grunted as he sat up on the bed, reaching over for a moment before coming back. “Sit up, little bird. Drink.” She lifted her head as he placed a cup against her lips and began to sip, expecting water, but tasted something foreign and minty instead. She spat it out and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.

“What is that?” she asked perplexed.

“Seven bloody hells, girl, just drink it,” he insisted gruffly. He placed the cup back onto her lips and she began to sip, ignoring the unfamiliar flavor. “Your sister brought it for you,” he said in a gentler tone.

Moon tea. 

Once she was finished, she laid her head back down onto the bed and was silent for a moment, remembering more details from the night before. 

Arya brought me moon tea, but she did not need to. His seed never spilled inside me, not there.

“I did not need that,” she said quietly, wondering if he knew what he did to her.

Sandor cleared his throat and placed the cup back onto the table. “A precaution,” he muttered as he laid back down next to her and reached for her hand. 

“But it could…” she began.

“Could what, girl?” Sandor asked.

“It could be yours.”

“You don’t want to be carrying my bastard either, little bird.” Sandor gave another long sigh but this time it sounded dejected, not angry.  “You were right,” Sandor said, changing the subject. She noticed him grunt again as he turned onto his side.

“It was Royce. He was the one who tried to kill Harry. Ended up killing one of the boy’s precious knights in the process. But, Harry saw the whole thing.” Sansa’s mouth gaped open but she did not know if it was due to her shock that Nestor Royce would do the bidding or because she had assumed correctly about the attempt on Harry’s life happening. “Where is he?” 

“The cells. The Knights of the Vale have been paying him frequent visits, I hear, but they know to keep him alive”. His hand moved up to cradle her face again and Sansa let out a sigh at the contact of his warm skin on her cool face.

“What happened after that?” Sansa rolled onto her right side despite the discomfort. As she stared at him, she noticed his right shoulder had been wrapped in cloth. “You are hurt,” she fretted.

“After I took Royce to the cells, I came to get you. Two guards were waiting outside your tower...heard them talking about killing me but the twats ran before seeing me. I had to break down your door and once I did, the mad fucker shot me with a crossbow,” Sandor said harshly.

“A crossbow?” Sansa interrupted. “Littlefinger is no fighter, my uncle nearly killed him in a duel.”

“Aye, and crossbows are for cunts who cannot use steel. It is what that bastard Joffrey used to kill whores and what the Imp used to kill his own bloody father,” Sandor grunted. “Once I saw what he did to you in that window...I lost it, Sansa.” She felt his hand begin to tremble as it rested on her face. “I nearly killed him. If your sister had not come I may have bloody well had.” He took a large inhale before continuing. “I picked you up and brought you here. The maester came and cleaned you up, said your body would heal quickly but…,” he cut off.

“But what? That I would end up like Lollys Stokeworth? Stay in bed and sleep and never want to leave my chambers again? That I would allow the man who humiliated me to destroy me?” Sansa asked with indignation.

“I saw, Sansa. I saw what he did to you,” she heard him becoming enraged. Sansa pushed herself up to sitting, fighting through the pain.

Remember who you are. The Lady of Winterfell. You forgot once. He wanted you to forget. Never again.

Sandor grabbed her lightly by the arm as she attempted to stand up and sat her back onto the bed. “Where in the seven hells do you think you are going?” Sandor asked, grunting from the use of his right arm.

“The longer I stay in bed, absent and delaying the trial, the longer it gives Littlefinger to think of some clever way to get out of this.” Sansa pulled away from his loose grasp and stood up, the furs falling onto the floor revealing her naked body. Aches were present everywhere, but the worst were in her neck, hips, and both her entrances. She looked down and saw deep bruising on either side of her hips and on her breasts. The sight sickened her but rather than feeling defeated as she had last night, she felt more determined than ever to bring him down. The thought of him aiming a crossbow at Sandor only escalated her anger.

Sandor quickly stood up and walked towards the other side of the bed, placing both hands on her shoulders. “Easy, little bird. He has no way to conspire with anyone from that cell. That pretty little lord won't forget who gave the order to have him killed.” 

Sansa placed her hands on Sandor’s bare chest, her fingers trailing through his coarse, dark hair. “As long as Littlefinger has his head intact he has everything he needs.” Sansa walked towards the window with slow steps, wincing each time she shifted her weight from one foot to the other. Once she opened the window saw the sun had recently set, she began to feel as disoriented as when she woke up. “I slept all day,” she whispered.

“Stay here, I’ll go fetch your sister. She will be wanting to see you.” Sandor said as he dressed himself.

“Find a chambermaid as well, I would like a bath,” Sansa turned to Sandor and noticed him staring at her naked body, her bruises but also her curves. She could feel that he was restraining himself from holding and kissing her; the thought that he was limiting his intimacy due to her current state made her feel grateful but also sad.

Sandor shifted his attention towards the door and began to open it, but before departing he looked over his shoulder. “I love you.”

Sansa walked over to him, pushing the door back to a close, and held his face with both hands. “I love you.”


Sandor returned moments later lifting a tub into the room on his left shoulder as an unfamiliar chambermaid followed behind him, staring at Sansa’s body briefly before looking away in shame. Sansa did not bother to cover herself with furs or one of Sandor’s cloaks as she waited. She wanted to see herself this way. She wanted to remember what Littlefinger did to her. Each bruise was a reminder of his dishonor, each ache gave her another reason as to why she needed to be the one to end his game of thrones.

‘Only by admitting what we are can we get what we want’. That is what he said to me years ago, back when I was a child and thought he cared for me. Now, I am the Lady of Winterfell. I am a woman who has lost her father, her mother, two of her brothers, and her best friend all to monsters. I am a woman who has been beat, humiliated, and raped. But I am not a woman who has forgotten who she is. 

Once the bath was prepared and the brazier lit, Sansa stepped into the warm water as Sandor kneeled down onto the floor next to her. She moaned at the relief the heat of the water provided on her most aching parts, closing her eyes at the sensation. Suddenly, she felt a splash of water on her face. She opened her eyes and saw him smile at her, a kind, warm smile that made her heart flutter.

“What was that for?” she asked with a giggle.

“For this,” he traced the smile on her lips with his thumb, his grey eyes staring at her deeply with admiration. 

A quick knock came at the door and Arya entered without hesitation. She was holding a black dress and coat, gloves, and boots for Sansa and placed it down onto the bed. Arya stepped quickly towards her sister, bumping Sandor along the way, and kneeled down to hug her.

“How are you feeling?” she asked softly.

“I have never felt more determined in my life,” Sansa answered. 

“You have the support of every man here. All of the Northern families have called for Littlefinger to answer for what he has done, as have the Knights of the Vale. I have a feeling you could execute him without a trial and no harm would come from it,” Arya explained.

A subtle offer to do the killing. My little sister, the Faceless Man.

“No, I will not dishonor our house by refusing to give him a trial. Besides, he has more to answer for than the attempted murder of Harry Hardyng. The Northmen want him dead for what he did to me, they have always wanted him dead. But they do not know what he has done...all of the things he has done,” Sansa sighed as she thought of her father, Ser Dontos, Aunt Lysa, and Sweetrobin.

“If we put him on trial, he might find a way to defend himself to the judges you select. You only have proof of the murder.” Arya pointed out as she stood closer to the brazier.

“Nestor Royce will turn on him the moment he believes his testimony will buy him his life and Harry can testify to the truth of his attempted murder,” Sansa remarked before turning to Sandor. “I want you to find the two who were ordered to kill you. They will be useful as well.” 

“Aye, little bird,” Sandor granted, his hand swirling around in the water. Sansa caught Arya rolling her eyes at Sandor’s nickname for her and she would have chuckled had they not been preoccupied with a heavy discussion.

“I do not doubt he is coming up with some clever plan to turn this around for his benefit. That is why he needs to be reminded of how small and powerless he is,” Sansa said, standing up slowly from the tub.

“How?” Arya asked.

As Sansa left the tub and walked towards the drying cloth, water dripped from the length of her auburn hair and beaded on her skin, porcelain and bruised. She turned back towards the others and remained silent for a moment. Sandor watched her with longing while Arya scowled at him for his blatant stare.

“By seeing me,” Sansa answered her sister. “Tonight.” 

Chapter Text

“Sansa, my beautiful wife.”

Sansa stood outside the cell in a dress of black velvet, embroidered with the direwolf sigil of House Stark in silver thread on her breast; she wore a black coat lined with fur, black leather gloves, and black boots. Against the darkness, her hair fell along her back in rich auburn waves, glowing in the light of the torch in her hand. Arising inside the cell from the cold ground, Littlefinger walked towards the barred confinement and gave her a feigned smile. She noticed the deep bruising on his neck, and it looked like his nose had been broken as well.

Sandor did almost kill him. How Littlefinger managed to survive from Sandor’s grip is bewildering.

Sansa instructed Sandor to wait for her at the top of the stairs near the entrance. He refused at first and cursed every word under his breath that he should come with her. He only conceded the argument when he felt the sensation of her lips on his. Sansa did not want to appear weak when meeting with Littlefinger and bringing Sandor along would have made her look like a frightened little girl. 

“Go on,” Sansa bidded. “I know you have something clever to say.” Sansa kept an expressionless demeanor as she held out the torch towards the cell.

“No, my dear. I am just a bit confused on how it is considered honorable to lock a man in a cell for consummating his marriage.” His voice was hoarse and Sansa could tell he was in a great deal of pain.

“That is not why you were brought here, but you already knew that,” Sansa responded.

“Oh, I believe it is. I have had many of your Northern men bid me a visit.” Littlefinger grunted as he shifted his weight and stared at Sansa forbiddingly.

I will not give you the pleasure of scaring me again. It is my game we are playing, not yours.

“You lied to me. You said if I married you, you would spare Sandor’s life. But instead, you hired two guards to have him killed. And when that failed, you tried to kill him yourself.” Sansa’s demeanor reflected her disgust as she tightly clenched the torch she held.

“It is a husband’s duty to protect his wife. I should have had him killed the moment he arrived, but I thought he could play an important role in our game.” He let out a pained sigh.

“You are done playing your little game,” Sansa muttered.

“Almost.” Littlefinger gave a weak smile. “What would your mother and father think, Sansa? Spreading your legs for the Lannister’s dog; a highborn lady infatuated with a fugitive,” he chastised her.

“I love him,” Sansa corrected him defensively.

“Oh,” Littlefinger grinned, holding onto the bars to keep his balance. “I tried to teach you, Sansa. And you learned well, for a time. But that is perhaps the least crafty decision you could have made. We both know what putting love and honor before wit has done to the Starks.”

He wants me to lose my confidence. He wants me to feel like I am making a mistake. 

“Tomorrow evening, a trial will be held determining your guilt or innocence in the plot to murder Harry Hardyng, along with the murders of Lysa Arryn, Robert Arryn, and Ser Dontos Hollard, and conspiring against my father. Until then, I suggest you pray to whatever gods a man like you chooses to believe in.” Sansa turned towards the stairs leading out of the cells before hearing Littlefinger begin to tap the bars lightly with his hand.

“Our new Lord Harry paid me a visit,” Littlefinger informed her in a hushed voice. Sansa stopped in her place, contemplating whether she should learn of this encounter between the two or avoid it all together. Sighing, Sansa looked over her shoulder, shining the torch back into his direction. 

“I assume he wanted to hear you confess before you played your little game during the trial,” Sansa prompted.

“Not quite, my dear. It appears that young Harry has his doubts on who wanted him murdered. We were allies, him and I, and he finds it awfully convenient that the Lady of Winterfell could use the attempt on his life to rid herself of her husband.”

Sansa stood in silence.

How can one man be such a fool to still think Littlefinger is his friend after trying to have him murdered?

“Lord Royce was ordered by you to kill him. He will confess to it if I agree to exile him for his testimony in your trial,” Sansa enlightened him. 

“Nestor Royce is dead whether he testifies against me or not. If he is loyal to me, he will be executed on your order. If he is not, Harry will place a handsome bounty on his head for conspiring against me. Afterall, Harry believes it was Royce and Royce alone who wanted him dead in pursuit of the lordship. Perhaps our dear friend will choose to die an honorable fool.” Sansa stood too far apart to see, but she could sense his smirk.

“You said Harry owed you a debt which is why he agreed to stay in Winterfell upon you marrying me. Was that a debt incurred by making sure Sweetrobin died an early death to make him Lord of the Eyrie?” Sansa took a step forward to measure his response. 

“Perhaps that is what I did. You mentioned you wanted justice for the death of the sickly child, but you would overlook one of the men involved in his murder?” Littlefinger pointed out.

“No, I-” Sansa caught herself. She took another step and winced at the pain in her body. “You do not gain anything from telling me this. Why do you care if Harry is charged with conspiring to murder Sweetrobin?” Sansa asked suspiciously.

“I have always loved you, Sansa, from the day I met you as a girl. If our time together is at an end, let me offer you one last piece of advice. It is true, you can turn a blind eye to Harry’s involvement but that would mean you do not want justice for the boy at all. You just mean to use his death to get what you want. Not very honorable for a Stark,” Littlefinger grinned. “Unless your time as my bastard daughter in the Eyrie has made you forget your honor.”

Sansa ignored him this time and turned back towards the stairs. As her footsteps took her away from him, she heard him continue to speak. 

“You would be wise not to inform him of your intentions, dear. Once he knows you are aware of his involvement, it might be that he chooses not to testify against me at all. And if Royce chooses an honorable death, well, it would appear the only evidence you have against me would be gone.”

The last of his words were faint as Sansa did not disrupt her pace due to his muttering. Nevertheless, she heard it all the same. And with the information he had given her, she knew what she needed to do.

She walked out into the frigid night as snow slowly drifted down from above, nesting in her hair. Sandor stood beside the entrance and gently embraced her into his arms. 

“You were gone awhile, little bird.” He gave a sigh of relief. “I thought I might need to come down there.”

“You will be needing to hone your sword before tomorrow. You will be using it on more than just Littlefinger.” Sansa stood on her toes and gave him a long kiss, caressing the scarred side of his face before he could manage to respond. She noticed him staring into the sky incredulously as she pulled away, shaking his head before returning his gaze to her.

“Your sister came by about your brother. Says the dead cunts have stopped marching south.” He looked again at the sky, spawning Sansa to follow his stare.

“Stopped? Why?” Sansa briefly looked above but observed nothing other than the clouds and snow drifting down. She turned back to Sandor when he had not yet responded and watched his grey eyes grow wide again.

“I- Seven fucking hells!” he shouted.

Sansa jolted at his volume and every ache within her body ignited when he drew her tightly into his arms. From the sky erupted a blaring screech followed by three beats of thunder.

Chapter Text

Sandor eagerly watched his little bird sit at the center of the dais in the Great Hall.

Not a little bird, he thought. The Lady of Winterfell.

Sansa had chosen two presiding judges to assist her in the trial of Nestor Royce and Littlefinger: Jon Snow and the Dragon Queen, Daenerys Targaryen.

He would never forget the fear he felt last night as he stared at the three black figures drifting in the sky. 

Living, breathing fire is what those monsters are.

Rumors of dragons were one thing, but to see the beasts in the night sky with one’s own eyes was another. The creatures had landed outside of Winterfell’s gates, stirring commotion amongst all those awake in the castle and those who had awoken at the sounds of their screeching. A line of defense began to manifest up on the walls, though it would have been a worthless attempt to fight three grown dragons. His brave little bird made way for the walls and climbed to witness the approach. Once grounded, two riders mounted off; riding on the back of the largest dragon was Daenerys Targaryen herself, and on the back of one of the leaner, smaller beasts was Sansa’s half-brother, Jon Snow. 

At their arrival, Sansa ordered for the gates to be open. The two made their way through the entrance as the three dragons began to soar back into the sky, disappearing into the dark overcast. Sansa embraced her brother and greeted Daenerys courteously, but Sandor could sense her hesitancy with the Targaryen woman. When Jon realized that Sandor was in Sansa’s company, he placed his right hand on the hilt of his sword. Sansa quickly placed a hand on Jon’s arm and insisted they make way for the solar for a private discussion. 

Before retreating, Sansa placed a small kiss on the scarred side of Sandor’s face, urging him to rest while she met with Jon and the Targaryen woman. Jon gave a bewildered look at Sansa’s affections before departing with her towards the solar. 

Sandor had not intended to sleep until Sansa returned. However, once he felt Sansa’s soft hands gently pushing the hair out of his face, he realized he must have slept for quite some time. She crawled into his bed delicately and whispered that Jon and the Dragon Queen would serve as the additional presiding judges for trial. According to Sansa, she only offered the position to Daenerys out of respect for agreeing to help the North. She muttered something else under her breath about Jon, but by the time Sandor asked her to repeat it, her breaths became slow and regular, sleeping in his arms. 

The following morning, Sandor awoke abruptly at the sensation of Sansa’s hand stroking his cock underneath the furs.

“Seven hells, girl,” he moaned. “You don’t need to do thi- fuck.”

Sansa ignored him and continued to stroke his manhood, placing gentle kisses on his bare chest. It was no longer than a minute before he spilled into her hand. He grunted deeply during his peak and guided her face to his, enraptured by her kiss. He desperately wanted to give pleasure to her, hear her moan and sigh underneath him, but as his hand traveled to her breast she stopped him. 

“Soon,” she whispered.

Later in the morning, Sansa went to complete the preparations for the trial while he went out into the practice yard with Thoros and Beric. They each honed their swords as they discussed everything that the rest of Winterfell was prattling on about: the Targaryen, the dead halting their conquest south, and the trial. 

Afterwards, the three sought out the two guards that Littlefinger hired to have Sandor killed the night of the wedding. Sandor did not think it important to prove Lord Baelish’s attempt on his life, but Sansa was adamant about gathering as much evidence as she could. 

It did not take long to find them, and although Sandor was not positive the two men he approached were the ones from that night, their response at his approach gave them away. Sandor took one by the collar of his doublet and growled at them that the Lady may lessen their punishment if they serve as witnesses if called upon during the trial. The two nodded rapidly and ran for the Great Hall though it would be several hours before the trial began.

And those remaining hours of the day were agonizingly long. It felt as if days had passed before the sun made its way into the west. Sandor had not chanced to see Sansa again before making his way towards the trial and he began to wonder if something was wrong. As he entered, The Great Hall’s trestle tables were full of lords, ladies, and Knights of the Vale, and many of the Northmen and men from the Brotherhood stood alongside the walls and entrance. It was clear that not a soul wanted to miss out on the trial that might bring down Littlefinger. As he walked past the tables, Sandor heard many of the men placing bets about whether Daenerys might use her dragons to pass the sentence if the men are found guilty.

Bugger the fire breathing bastards, I will be the one who brings Sansa the justice she deserves.

Sandor took his place beside the dais to Sansa’s left. When her sister entered the Great Hall, she stood next to him with her hands behind her back.

“Gods, what are you doing standing here? You should be sitting next to your sister,” Sandor grunted.

“No. This might get violent,” Arya added without taking her eyes off Harry Hardyng at the nearest trestle table.

“Why the fuck do you think I am standing here?” he muttered.

Before Arya could respond, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen entered and began making their way towards the dais. Half the men in the hall gave the blonde lustful stares while the other half looked like they wanted to slit her throat. Finally, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Sansa enter the hall, every man and woman bowing their head at her. She looked like a true Northern Lady in her silver dress and long, flowing hair. Even her demeanor appeared as gruff as her Lord father’s had been. She may have had the Tully coloring, but Sansa was as Northern as the late Eddard Stark, and the men and women in the hall respected that.

Sansa gave a small nod to Sandor as she passed him on the dais. Despite their affections for one another being known to Littlefinger, the Brotherhood, and now Jon Snow, the rest of Winterfell remained ignorant of the love between the two. Beric had informed him that there was a lot of talk that Sandor was merely infatuated with the girl and swore his sword to her despite the feeling not being reciprocated. 

Let the fools think that. It is all the better for Sansa. These Northerners hate me enough for serving her. There is no telling what they might do if they know I am bedding her, their Lady.

Sansa sat in the center of the table on the dais. To her left, Bran sat in his wheeled chair with his vacant expression. To her right sat her half-brother and the Dragon Queen. Sansa gestured for the men and women in the hall to be seated and become silent. The sight of Sansa presiding on the dais as the Lady of Winterfell made him hunger for her even more. He wanted to take her right there on the table and pleasure her, make her peak, as she did for him this morning. He felt his cock begin to harden at the thought of her soft, delicate hand stroking him and immediately shifted his gaze back towards the audience in the Great Hall.

Once everyone was silent, Littlefinger and Nestor Royce were escorted down the hall with their hands in chains by two Winterfell guards. The two already looked half-dead from their short time in the cells. Nestor Royce’s face was plastered with blood and bruises from the frequent visits the Knights of the Vale paid him for killing their brother. And once Sandor met Littlefinger’s glance, he was revulsed when the man continued to look pleased with himself despite his circumstances.

Not much longer until I can cut this sick cunt’s head off and watch that smirk whither off his face.

Once the two men stood in front of the dais, Sansa folded her hands onto the table and began.

“My lords and ladies, Knights of the Vale, and all those faithful to House Stark, a trial will now be conducted determining the guilt or innocence of the two men who stand before you today: Lord Nestor Royce and Lord Petyr Baelish. Both are accused of conspiring together in the attempt to murder Harry Hardyng, Lord of the Eyrie. Lord Nestor Royce, you are also accused of murdering a Knight of the Vale in the attempt. How do you answer these charges?” Sansa asked.

Lord Royce turned towards Littlefinger before meeting Sansa’s gaze.

“Fuck you, you northern whore,” he spat.

The crowd piqued and Sandor’s rage festered at the disrespect uttered towards Sansa. His hand met the hilt of his sword and he noticed Arya begin to unsheathe her blade. Before the situation escalated further, Sansa gestured again for the audience to become silent.

“Very well. Lord Petyr Baelish, you are are also being charged with the murders of Lysa Arryn, Lord Robert Arryn, Ser Dontos Hollard, conspiracy against my father Lord Eddard Stark, and conspiring to murder Sandor Clegane. How do you answer these charges?” Sansa glared at him.

“Sansa,” Littlefinger began, taking a step towards the dais. Sandor and Arya unsheathed their swords simultaneously, urging him to take a step back. “I am not guilty of any of these charges,” he added calmly. “It was not me in the yard who held a sword to Lord Hardyng, and the other charges are merely you and your siblings' claims.”

“Lord Royce,” she turned her attention to the nearly dead man. “Did Lord Petyr Baelish order you to kill Lord Hardyng?” The question echoed above in the rafters of the Great Hall. 

“Confess and be exiled, eh? What is exile to a dead man? Go on and pass the sentence you stupid whore,” Nestor growled, causing another uproar within the audience. This time, Sandor elbowed the man in the gut for his vulgarity.

Sansa was unaffected by the Lord’s disrespect and chose not to pry him any further before calling her first witness.

“Lord Hardyng, please come forward.”

As Harry walked towards the dais, Littlefinger smirked at Sansa and Sandor began to feel a sense of foreboding.

“Lord Hardyng, do you swear to tell the truth by the old gods and the new?” Sansa asked.

“Yes, my Lady,” he answered, sounding much more courteous than his usual jeering tone. 

“Is it true that Lord Nestor Royce meant to murder you?” 

“Yes, my Lady. On the night of your wedding,” Harry testified while glancing towards Littlefinger with caution. Lord Nestor Royce began to shout vulgarities at the boy before Jon pounded on the table with his fist for silence. 

“And why do you believe he meant to murder you?” Sansa questioned, disregarding the noise.

“He was never fond of me. I...I slept with his daughter but would not marry her,” confessed Harry.

Many in the crowd began to snicker and Sandor noticed Arya glaring at the young Lord so fiercely he thought she might pounce.

“Do you believe that was the only reason he wanted you murdered? For dishonoring his daughter?” Sansa asked, glancing at Nestor Royce.

“I did not dishonor her, my Lady. She was no maiden. She is in love with me. Once Nestor Royce found out from her chambermaid I had been with her, he insisted that I marry her despite being betrothed to you. I informed him that even if I had not been betrothed, I would only marry a maiden. But he did not care to protect his daughter’s honor, it was because he wanted her to be Lady of the Vale someday.” Harry informed the hall.

“What would he gain from killing you?” Sansa queried as if she knew the answer.

“Harrenhal,” he answered.

Whispers passed throughout the crowd and Littlefinger’s smugness fell off his face.

“Harrenhal? Lord Baelish is the Lord of Harrenhal,” Sansa teased.

These two have this rehearsed, Sandor thought.

“My Lady, when I first heard that Lord Baelish sent Lord Royce to murder me, I did not believe it. He has done me many favors and I thought him an ally.” Harry sounded disappointed rather than angry.

“Was murdering Lord Robert Arryn one of those favors?” Sansa prodded, causing the audience to become lively again with mutters. 

“No, it was not. Not with my knowledge that is. I have a letter from Myranda Royce, daughter of Lord Nestor Royce. She has asked for mercy on her life for assisting in Lord Robert Arryn’s murder in exchange for information regarding the matter,” Harry pulled a parchment from his coat and walked towards the dais, handing it to Sansa.

Sansa made note of the wax seal and opened the parchment. Within a second, she handed it to her right towards Jon and Daenerys.

“Myranda Royce states that you had no involvement in the murder of Lord Robert Arryn, and claims that it was Lord Baelish and her father, Lord Royce, who gave her the order to administer the Sweetsleep to him.” Sansa recited.

You cunning, beautiful little bird.

The crowd erupted in gasps and Lord Royce fell onto the floor and began to heave. No doubt the betrayal from one’s own daughter would be enough to kill a man. Littlefinger shook his head, muttering to himself.

“And how is it that Myranda Royce knew to clear your name of this accusation?” Sansa questioned Harry.

Sandor nearly smiled. You told him to write to her, you smart little bird. 

“I first wrote to Myranda Royce to inform her that her father attempted to murder me. She was furious and told me everything against her father. As I said, she loves me, even more than that old fool. In that letter, she admitted to administering the Sweetsleep to Lord Robert Arryn, only after Lord Baelish and Lord Royce conspired the plan. She was told that his death would make me Lord of the Eyrie and that Lord Baelish would have our betrothal annulled, thus making me available for her to marry. Lord Royce never informed his daughter I would not marry her. She also states that Lord Baelish would offer Harrenhal to Lord Royce in exchange for assisting in Lord Robert Arryn’s death,” Harry paused, as Nestor Royce groaned on the stone floor at his testimony.

“Why would Lord Baelish surrender Harrenhal to Lord Royce? What would that leave for him?” Sansa glanced at the brooding man.

“Myranda was told by her father you would marry Lord Baelish. That he would be the new Lord of Winterfell, her father would be the new Lord of Harrenhal, and that Myranda and I would be the new Lord and Lady of the Eyrie,” Harry sighed. “I had no knowledge of any of it, my Lady. I swear it.”

“May I ask, what were these many favors you say Lord Baelish has done for you?” the Dragon Queen asked, genuinely curious.

“I have two bastards,” he muttered with embarrassment. “He helped me care for them and their mothers prior to my lordship.”

Daenerys gave a small smile at Jon and nodded at the young lord. 

“Lord Hardyng, in essence, you are saying without a doubt, you trust Myranda Royce’s testimony that these two men conspired with one another to murder Lord Robert Arryn?” Jon asked in a booming voice.

“Yes,” he answered with impatience. “She would not admit to a murder if it were not true.”

“And do you believe that Lord Baelish was part of the plot to murder you?” asked Daenerys.

“I do not know, my Lady…,” he answered with caution, avoiding Littlefinger’s glare.

“Your Grace,” the Dragon Queen corrected. Harry grunted and turned back towards Sansa.

“Thank you, my Lord,” Sansa nodded. “You may sit.” 

“My Lady, perhaps I might ask the Lord a question?” interrupted Littlefinger, feigning innocence.

“No,” Sansa answered quickly. 

“My Lady, it is common practice in Westeros to allow the accused to ask questions to the witnesses. If you wanted to hold a trial for the sake of the honor of House Stark, you must needs follow the rules,” Littlefinger pointed out.

Sansa gave Sandor a short glance before nodding reluctantly for Littlefinger to continue.

“Lord Hardyng, it was crafty of you to write to your lover in the Vale and have her provide such useful information,” he smirked at Sansa. Harry looked down at his feet and cleared his throat. “I would just like clarity: why did you not want to marry Myranda Royce again?” he asked.

This fool of a man is too naive to realize this is a trick.

“She was not a maiden,” Harry answered, confused at the choice of his question.

“And might you inform the good men and women of what happened to your betrothal to Sansa Stark?” Littlefinger asked, refusing to take his eyes off Sansa.

“You took her, you perverted bastard!” shouted one of the Northmen from the crowd. Littlefinger began to laugh.

Harry stood silently and looked towards Sansa before answering. He saw the fear in her eyes and what appeared to be shaking her head. Sandor felt Arya tense up beside him, clutching at her Needle. Sandor reached for the hilt of his sword, anticipating the response. Clearly the question triggered feelings inside the young Lord, because rather than choosing to stay silent, he answered.

“She was a maiden when I met her, and then she was not.” Harry gave Sansa a crossed look as he walked back towards the trestle tables.

“And who was it that dishonored your betrothed?” Littlefinger asked loud enough for all those in the Great Hall to hear. 

“Enough!” Jon called out. “This has nothing to do with your trial!”

Harry did not respond but his fists were shaking as he sat on the table. It was clear he was angry at the thought of him losing his betrothal to Sansa Stark due to her choosing Sandor over him. And Littlefinger toying with the boy in the hall seemed to bring that childish anger out even more.

Littlefinger means to have this bloody fool publicly humiliate Sansa in front of her men. If the Northern lords know she gave me her maidenhead, what will they think of her then? And what will they do to me?

“Say it, boy! It’s the Lannister’s fucking Hound!” shouted Nestor Royce from the floor. 

The Great Hall broke out in gasps, shouts, and vicious looks amongst the Northmen. Arya unsheathed her sword and pointed it at Nestor Royce’s throat.

“Not one more word from you,” she threatened.

“Quit this madness, now!” Jon shouted. “We have proof on this parchment that you conspired to murder Lord Robert Arryn. That is all we need to come to a sentencing,” Jon gave Daenerys a look and she nodded in agreement. “Sansa, this is enough. The remaining charges, witnesses...it does not matter anymore. He will die,” Jon assured her.

Sansa watched Littlefinger’s grin, clenching her fists onto the table, and stood up slowly. 

“Lord Nestor Royce, you are found guilty of conspiring in the murder of Lord Robert Arryn, attempting to murder Lord Harry Hardyng along with murdering a Knight of the Vale. You will be beheaded for your crimes,” Sansa announced as Arya held the blade to his throat.

“Lord Baelish, you are found guilty of conspiring in the murder of Lord Robert Arryn. You will also be beheaded for your crime. Take them outside,” Sansa ordered her guards. 

The atmosphere in the Great Hall became chaos. As everyone began to rush out into the yard to witness the beheadings, Sansa lingered at the table, staring at Lord Baelish being escorted out of the hall. Sandor approached her slowly and stood behind her.

“I promised you I would let you kill him,” she muttered without looking at him. Jon turned over his shoulder and then back to Sansa.

“Sansa, the Northmen will not like it if you allow Sandor to carry out the justice,” Jon whispered to her. “Let me swing the sword,” he offered.

“He sodomized me, Jon,” she whispered over her shoulder. “Tell me, if a man sodomized the woman you loved and you saw it, would you allow anyone else to execute him?” she asked gruffly.

Jon looked at Sansa in horror and grabbed her into his arms to comfort her.

That was what she was muttering last night, she never told Jon what he did to her. 

Jon pulled away and looked at Daenerys. She stood from her chair and took her arm in his. 

“Let him do it, Jon,” she added. “Sansa is the Lady of Winterfell, she does not need to explain her actions to her men.” Jon nodded his head reluctantly, dazed by Sansa’s words. 

Sansa turned around towards Sandor and put her hand on his chest. Despite the success of sentencing the two men to death, Sansa looked as if she were headed to the block herself. Without a word, she headed down the dais and began exiting the Great Hall.

 

 


 

In the frigid darkness, the courtyard was filled with nearly every occupant of Winterfell.

Littlefinger and Nestor Royce were escorted towards the middle of the yard where the execution block rested atop the snow. Royce began shouting every vulgar word in the Common Tongue as he was brought forward to the block first.

“You fucking whore!” he spat towards Sansa. Sandor grunted and unsheathed his sword, walking to stand beside the block. “The Lady of Winterfell! Fucking a bloody Hound! All you Northerners look at what has become of House Stark!” he yelled. Sansa appeared expressionless, but Sandor could see the loathing in her eyes. Jon and Daenerys stood beside Sansa, Arya and Bran in front of the block. Jon’s jaw was clenched and Daenerys held tightly onto his arm as if she were preventing him from lashing out. The guard escorting Nestor Royce kicked the back of his knee and placed his head onto the block. 

“Lord Nestor Royce, I, Sansa of the House Stark, Lady of Winterfell and Wardeness of the North, sentence you to die. If you have any last words, say them now,” Sansa prompted coolly.

“Let the Others take you all! And you,” he grimaced at Sansa, “I hope you fucking bleed to death birthing this creature’s stillborn bastards!” he shouted.

Sansa gave Sandor a pleading look and then nodded. Gripping the hilt of his sword with both hands, Sandor heaved the steel into the air and swung back down, cutting clean through Royce’s neck. The severed head rolled towards one of the Knights of the Vale in the yard and kicked at it with his foot. The kill did not bring Sandor the familiar feelings of shameless satisfaction; in fact, he did not feel much of anything other than dutiful and just.

That is because The Hound is dead, and you are not.

Once Nestor Royce’s body was cleared away, Littlefinger was brought forward and placed onto the block that was now covered with Royce’s blood. Sandor looked down on the man with more contempt than he ever looked at Joffrey, Cersei, or even his brother. 

Sansa stepped closer towards the block.

“Lord Petyr Baelish, I, Sansa of the House Stark, Lady of Winterfell and Wardeness of the North, sentence you to die.” Sansa’s demeanor transitioned to one of retribution. “Do you have any last words?”

“You would make a wonderful queen, Sansa,” he smiled, shifting his gaze towards Daenerys. The Dragon Queen gave Sansa a monitory glance but Sansa ignored it. Sandor knew what he was doing and she did, too: causing a rift between the Lady of Winterfell and the hopeful new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.

Even in the process of his own beheading, this fucker manages to play a game.

“Enjoy her, Hound. Starks do not last long in this world.” he muttered before closing his eyes.

Sansa gave Sandor another look but rather than pleading, it was fierce. Once she nodded, he swung the bloody steel up strenuously, crashing down onto the man’s neck, and at long last bringing Sansa her justice.

Chapter Text

Sansa stood on the dais in the Great Hall, staring at the empty trestle tables and watching the flames in the torches begin to fade.

After the executions took place, Sansa walked off on her own to the godswood and nestled between two large oak trees. She did not know how to feel, but the satisfaction she expected after Littlefinger’s death did not come. Instead, she felt soiled and defeated. She wondered if the things Littlefinger and Nestor Royce said to her had any truth to it. 

What would my family think, my father and my mother, if they knew who it is I love?

Sansa contemplated this question for a long while. She knew her family better than those two men did; while Littlefinger wanted the North to hate her for who she loved, she knew those faithful to House Stark would not abandon their loyalties over who she took to bed. Of course, it was not proper for a highborn lady to have a romantic affair with a man like Sandor Clegane, but who could tell her any different? 

Remember who you are. The Lady of Winterfell.

Sansa waited in the inconspicuous spot in the dark godswood until enough time passed for the castle to become quiet after today’s affairs. Upon exiting the godswood, she headed towards the Great Hall to reflect on her first real duty as Lady of Winterfell. Inside the hall, the benches were displaced, the torches burned low, and the ambiance of the room reflected her mood. She walked through the hall, brushing the wooden tables with her fingertips as she strode by. One of her castle maids walked in with a broom and halted at the sight of Sansa.

“Out,” Sansa ordered harshly. “Please. Leave it for tonight,” she redeemed herself.

The girl nodded at her and scurried out quickly.

You might be the Lady of Winterfell, but do not become a frigid bitch like Cersei.

Sansa stepped onto the dais and stood in the spot where she sat during the trial. She rested her hands on the table in front of her and looked out into the hall. Closing her eyes, she began to focus on her breathing. Inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling. Despite her efforts to calm herself, she began to cry. She thought of her father and wondered if he had been truly happy with her mother.

Did he love my mother like I love Sandor? Or did he love Jon’s mother that way?

The entrance to the hall creaked open and Sansa’s eyes opened at the intrusion. She expected it to be another one of her castle staff in the late hour, but she saw the only person who would know how to comfort her in a time like this.

“There you are,” he muttered angrily. “I have been looking for you for two bloody hours.” 

He is in a sour mood as well.

Sansa was silent and her gaze went back to the empty trestle tables in front of her. He walked quickly alongside the walls making his way towards her. She was lost in deep thought as he approached behind her; his mood transitioned from frustrated to sympathetic once he held her in his arms.

“Sansa,” he whispered in her ear.

“I was humiliated here today,” she began quietly. “If I were a man, no one would care who I take into my bed. No one would ask what my late father and mother would think of my decisions. But as a woman, as a Lady, I have more expectations of me than I can count. All I can think about is what Nestor Royce said, about what has become of House Stark, about me,” she sighed. 

“Sansa, they are dead and rotting in the Seven Hells as we speak,” he sat down in the chair beside her and threw his head back. “Dumb cunts,” he muttered. 

Sansa continued to stare out into the empty hall, watching the torchlight slowly fade and contemplating. “Sometimes I wonder how a man as honorable and loyal as my father managed to father a bastard.” 

“Many good men father bastards,” Sandor explained. 

“It had to be for love. Maybe at the very least my father wanted a son, even if he would be a bastard, from the woman he truly loved,” she sighed again and turned her head to give Sandor a beseeching look. Sandor shifted abruptly in his chair, fixing his posture.

“Little bird, what are you saying?” he asked incredulously.

Sansa lifted her dress with her hands and straddled his lap as he sat on the chair, placing her hands on his strong, broad shoulders.

“Put your son in me,” she whispered in his ear.

Sandor gripped her hips and she felt his cock solid underneath her. “Sansa, do you realize what you are saying? Your Northerners will detest you and the child if they know I am the father,” he explained despairingly. 

Sansa gave him a playful slap on the unscarred side of his face. “Do not question me again,” she said alluringly. 

Sandor grunted and pulled her face with both hands, kissing her urgently. She moved her hands through his long, dark hair and felt herself becoming breathless with the hunger she had for him. Her body was still tender from the rape of her wedding night, but it no longer pained her. And for the soreness she did feel, nothing could stop her from having Sandor right now. She wanted to taste him, stroke his cock in her hands, and feel him spill inside of her, giving her a son if the gods will allow it. She wanted all of him and she would not let a single soul tell her she could not have him.

Remember who you are. The Lady of Winterfell.

Sansa broke their embrace and lowered herself to sit on her knees on the dais. She began tugging at Sandor’s laces to pull his cock into her mouth as he sat in the chair. He assisted her in doing so, throwing his head back as she caressed the head of his manhood with her tongue. She stroked his length with her right hand and placed the tip of his cock into her mouth, gliding up and down slowly. His moan from the sensation of her sucking and stroking him echoed off the walls and rafters inside the empty Great Hall. He became solid as a stone in her mouth and she moved her right hand down towards his bollocks. He jerked when she began to fondle them and pulled her up off the ground and onto the table in front of them in one motion. 

He lifted her dress up and slid her smallclothes down her legs in another swift motion. As Sansa laid on the cold, wooden table, Sandor knelt on the dais as she did and placed his warm tongue over her folds. Her body welcomed the pleasure of his mouth on her; his ungroomed facial hair tickled the inside of her thighs but it only added to the indulgence of having him there. Sansa moaned shamelessly in the Great Hall and heard him grunting in approval as a response to her sounds. He lapped up the juices from her sex and she felt herself about to peak.

No, not yet.

“Sandor, please, I want you inside me,” she commanded breathlessly. Sandor stood up, wiped her juices off his mouth with the back of his hand and guided his cock into her slick folds. There was hardly any pain this time as he filled her up with his length and thickness. They moaned in synchrony at the contact and Sansa felt herself having trouble breathing again. She found pleasure when Sandor took her maidenhead, and again when he took her in the godswood, but this time was inexplicably better, rawer, and sensual.

He held tightly onto her thighs, pulling her legs upward a bit to meet the height of his groin while standing. Every thrust sent her closer to her climax but she did not want it to end yet. Sansa wanted to take advantage of this moment and have him in a way she had yet to try. 

“Sit down,” she panted. “In the chair.” 

Sandor immediately picked her up and without pulling himself out of her, sat the two down into the chair. Somehow his cock felt longer inside of her while she was on top of him. He shifted her dress over his lap and placed his hands on her bare ass underneath. He gently pulled her closer to him, rocking her back and forth by the grip on her ass. Sansa gasped at the overwhelming sensation of gliding on his full length. She moaned at the touch of his hands guiding her ass to ride him like a mount, encouraging her to pick up the pace. Sandor took one hand from underneath her dress and began to pull the laces loose on the front of her dress. Once the dress was loose enough he pulled the front of it down to expose her supple breasts, placing her hard, pink nipple in his mouth. Sansa whimpered in pleasure, increasing her pace as she rode him.

The sounds of their lovemaking echoed throughout the hall: grunts, moans, sighs, wet sounds, skin hitting skin, kisses, and the chair creaking underneath them. Every sound was better than the last to her.

Sansa placed her hands in his hair again and shifted from gliding over his cock to bouncing on top of it. She found it difficult to do so without the correct leverage, but Sandor moved his arms underneath her thighs and began to lift her up and down his length. He cursed under his breath so violently that Sansa pushed his head back and kissed him on the lips. 

“Sandor, please, do not stop, I-” Sansa cut off as a wave of pleasure came over her, peaking on top of him. She felt her sex squeeze his cock as he continued to bounce her up and down, sending shockwaves deep inside her. 

Seconds later, Sandor let out a deep moan and grunted as he spilled himself inside of her wet folds. As he peaked, he removed his hands from underneath her thighs and placed them on either side of her head. He held his forehead to hers for a moment, breathing heavily into one another’s faces. His cock twitched when her sex squeezed him again and Sansa smiled.

“This is the only place I ever want to be,” she confessed. “With you, loving you, feeling you. Only you.”

“Then marry me, little bird,” he whispered.

Chapter Text

Sandor nearly threw the young page out the window when he had been summoned to meet with Jon Snow. He had just slipped inside of Sansa’s cunt when the knock came, followed by a young boy’s muttering through the wooden door to head to the bastard’s solar; the thought of having to pull out of Sansa’s warmth to go meet with her brooding half-brother drove him mad. But when he sighed in defeat, she pulled him closer on top of her.

“Better make it quick then,” she teased.

And he did. It never took long with her; her scent, moans, sighs, breasts, and figure were enough to make him peak in a few strokes. The two had fucked twice since last night in the Great Hall, once as soon as they entered his bedchambers and again this morning when he woke with her kissing his neck. It would be a miracle if she did not have his bastard inside her yet.

No, not a bastard. The little bird will become my wife and that will be our legitimate child.

Afterwards, Sandor dressed and made his way towards Jon’s solar. As he walked through the cold, morning snows, he began to guess what the bastard of Winterfell might want him for. Most of his guesses surrounded the idea that it could not be for anything good. Especially if it involved Sansa. Sandor made his way to the door and knocked.

Better him than her father. 

“Come in,” Jon called out.

“Snow,” Sandor muttered to Jon who was sitting at his desk.

“Clegane,” Jon gestured towards the chair in front him.

This one is just as brooding as the father, though.

Sandor sat and glanced at Jon’s desk, noticing a map of Westeros and what he guessed to be the staging of Daenerys’ forces.

“My sister,” he began. “You love her?”

Gods, that did not take long. This one wastes no time.

Sandor stared at the young bastard and nodded his head. “Aye, I love her,” he admitted. Jon crossed his hands together on the desk and inhaled deeply. 

“When Sansa told me about the two of you, the night Daenerys and I arrived in Winterfell, I wanted to come after you,” he confessed. “My father, my brother Robb...they would have had your head off in an instant for dishonoring her.”

Sandor gave him a bitter look. “Is that so?” he asked mockingly. “You are telling me your honorable father would have killed Joffrey’s dog if he fucked his pretty maiden daughter?” 

“I am telling you, you better choose your words more carefully or I just might,” Jon warned. 

“Go on, then,” Sandor sat back in the chair with disinterest. “Tell me why I am here.”

“My sister, Arya, claims it was Sansa who came to you when she…” he cut off, grimacing at the uncomfortable discussion of Sansa giving her maidenhead to the infamous Hound.

The Hound is dead, but not one bloody fucker cares to believe that.

“Aye, what of it?” Sandor asked.

“I want to know, how...why? Sansa has grown up a great deal since she left for King’s Landing years ago. When she came to Winterfell, bringing the Knights of the Vale, to take back our home from the Bolton’s, I saw a fierceness in her that I never saw as children. She was beautiful then, she is more beautiful now. She is one of the most powerful women in Westeros,” Jon explained before pausing.

“And what is your point? How could a woman like Sansa Stark love me, is that it?” Sandor asked.

I ask myself that bloody question every minute of the day. Not even I can believe it. 

Jon met his gaze and began to laugh to himself, shaking his head.

“I should have known. Sansa...she always loved the handsome knights, honorable princes, and loyal heroes from the stories. The gods have a twisted sense of humor,” he laughed again.

Sandor gave a stern look at Jon’s humor and began to lose his patience. “I know it, boy. I travelled with her to King’s Landing. I saw the way she gave her courtesies, her little songs...I knew she was young and naive. And the poor girl was so infatuated with Joffrey it took having her daddy’s head cut off before she saw the Lannisters as monsters,” he gave a sharp exhale. Jon’s amusement was gone and he gave Sandor a warning look. “She was the purest little fool I had ever seen. And from that first moment I saw her in Winterfell years ago, I was drawn to her. 

I hated myself for it. I drank myself bloody drunk, I fucked whores, I cut men down in the streets for the feelings to go away. But she chirped her little songs and I could not stop caring for her. I protected her from being raped, I stood by her when I could, but I also let her be beaten by Kingsguard, tormented by Joffrey. I left her to be married off to the fucking Imp when I could have taken her with me that night the Blackwater burned. 

If it were not for me leaving her, that cunt Littlefinger would not have been able to grasp onto her, manipulate her, marry her... rape her. All I had to do was fucking take her that night! The years might have made her wise, but it was not thanks to Joffrey, Cersei, or that fuck Littlefinger. She did that herself, as she did as a child. She learned what to say, what not to say. How to act. She may not be a bloody little assassin like your other sister, but Sansa is just as deadly.

So, you say you want to know how it happened? I have not a fucking clue, Snow. I thought she would hate me after all this time. I came here to Winterfell with the Brotherhood and expected her to want me out, or dead. But instead, she came to me, wanted me as I wanted her. I can not answer your question, Jon Snow, but I love her and I will kill to protect her until the day I die.”

Jon stared at him carefully before leaning forward in his chair, his demeanor becoming relaxed. 

“Very well, Clegane. I will not stop you. But the Northmen will try,” Jon explained. “You will fight for us then, in this war and the next?”

“I will fight for Sansa,” he corrected. Jon nodded and stood from his chair.

“The Knights of the Vale are departing Winterfell today,” he said as he opened the window to the sounds of wagons being loaded and horses leaving the stables. “It appears Lord Hardyng’s pride is more important than his honor or fighting for the living.”

“Bugger them,” Sandor muttered. He had figured that Harry would not stay in Winterfell after the wound on his pride during the trial, and Sandor even welcomed the thought of the selfish fool leaving, but it could not be denied that it would greatly affect the strength of Winterfell’s forces. 

“My brother says the dead have stopped marching south. For now.” Jon brooded again out the window.

“Does the boy know why?” he asked.

“The Wall. They will not attempt to cross it. There is magic of some kind...I do not know,” he sighed. “But what I do know is Daenerys will fight with us, if we fight for her. Now is the best chance to take her dragons North of the Wall and burn the dead while they wait. We will need to evacuate the remaining men at Castle Black and Eastwatch and gather the supplies there,” Jon turned to Sandor.

We? What the fuck do you mean we?” Sandor asked, provoked at the implication.

“You need to earn the trust of the men here, Clegane,” Jon advised.

“Was I not the one to cut through the necks of those two cunts last night?” he demanded.

“Killing a man who married and raped the woman you love does not prove your loyalty to the North. It only proves the loyalty to your pride.” Jon sat again in his chair and folded his hands back together on top of the map, sighing, brooding.

“So you need me to escort your exiles and wildings from the Night’s Watch to Winterfell? Do I look like a bloody squire, riding off to deliver messages?” Sandor asked.

“There are more supplies there than men and we will need every bit of help to get as much as we can of it down here,” Jon explained, pouring himself a cup of ale. When Jon offered Sandor a cup, he grunted and stood from his chair. “I thought you to be a drinker,” Jon said lightly.

“Not anymore,” he muttered under his breath.

“Clegane, if you do this, prove your loyalty to the North, perhaps we can figure out a way to have the Northern houses support your marriage to Sansa,” Jon eyed him reassuringly. Sandor froze, staggered by the bastard’s knowledge of him having asked Sansa to marry him.

“And how in the Seven bloody hells did you hear of that?” he asked in annoyance.

“My sister,” Jon answered. “Arya, not Sansa.”

The little wolf bitch. Did she see us fuck in the Great Hall, too? Sneaky girl needs a clout on the head for that one.

“The North will always remain loyal to House Stark, Clegane. But it would be in your best interest to gain the respect of the Northern houses. Sansa is beloved by all but many scorn her choice in a lover. Do this, and it will benefit her relationship with the Northern families as well.”

The bastard may brood but at least he manages to be convincing. 

“Aye,” Sandor surrendered. “I will go. For her,” he grunted. Sandor turned towards the door and began to open it before Jon stood up from his chair.

“One more thing,” Jon added. “If you hurt her, in any way, I will execute you myself,” he threatened.

“And your sneaky killer of a sister will feed me to your wolf,” Sandor finished for him. “Aye, I have heard it all.”

Chapter Text

Sansa stood in front of her father’s tomb in the crypts, staring at the carved statue that poorly rendered his features. 

This is not the face of Eddard Stark. Someone who knew him better should have carved his likeness, but everyone who knew him well enough was either dead or gone.

The Winterfell crypts had become a place of comfort for Sansa; though it was dark and chilly, she was surrounded by her ancestors, and it was the best place in the castle to isolate oneself from the daily chaos above. No one other than the Starks would choose to enter the crypts intentionally as many believed them to be haunted.

As her fingertips brushed the face of the figure meant to depict her father, faint footsteps began to approach her. She turned from the statue and met glances with her half-brother with a pained expression from his deceit.

“You may be older than me, Jon, but I am the Lady of Winterfell and you placed orders without my knowing,” she began. Jon stood beside her and bowed his head down in front of their father.

“If I told you first, you would have made sure he never met with me,” Jon explained. Sansa glowered at his profile as he began to pray under his breath for their father; Jon looked more like Lord Eddard Stark than the stone carving ever could.

“Do you think me to be so naive that I can not tell what you are doing? Sending him to the Wall so the dead can take care of him and satisfy all the Northerners?” she chided. Jon sighed and turned to look at his sister.

“The dead cannot pass, Sansa. Not yet. We still have men there and supplies. Lyanna Mormont wants Clegane’s head more than any of them. Though just a child, she even scares me. He needs to prove himself,” he took her hands into his. “I love you, you are my sister. There is no honor in lies. This is meant to help you, to grant him even a shred of respect from the Northern houses.” 

He might be my bastard brother, but he is more like our father than any of us ever will be.

Sansa took her hands out of Jon’s, turning back to her father’s tomb. “Would father understand?” she asked despondently. “My mother? Robb?” she felt her eyes well up but refused to cry.

“Sansa,” he took a deep breath. “Had you not become the Lady of Winterfell, you would never have been allowed to marry a man like Sandor Clegane. You were meant to marry a prince or a lord, become the lady of their house, or a queen, and have highborn children. Even if he were a noble lord, his fierce nature precedes him,” Jon paused once he spotted a single tear falling down Sansa’s cheek. “But,” he continued. “You are the Lady of Winterfell. And you must decide what is best for House Stark.” Jon brushed his fingers against her face, wiping away the single tear. 

“Joffrey was a prince, a king, and a monster. Littlefinger was a lord, and he molested and sodomized me. What I have learned is that the vast majority of highborn men are not like our father. I came to that cruel realization the moment I left Winterfell. Would the Northerners prefer I marry a man who had no love for me but provide us an alliance that is likely to be broken anyway? What is a title, a temporary alliance, compared to love?” she asked exasperatedly.

“Everything, to some,” he brooded. “Let him go to the Wall, Sansa. When he returns, and earns the trust of the Northern families, you will be glad he went. Once we receive word that he and the other men are returning, Daenerys and I will ride North with her dragons to attack the dead beyond the wall. If anything should go wrong, then at the very least those remaining at the Night’s Watch will be clear from harm. You will need to prepare your men for an attack, all the while. Winterfell is in good hands with you, sister.” Jon kissed her lightly on the cheek before turning to leave. As the echoes of his footsteps grew softer, he paused and turned back around to face her. “Father would be proud of you, Sansa. So would your mother, Robb, Rickon, and all the rest. Do not let dead men’s words convince you otherwise,” he assured her before departing the crypt.

 


 

A little something to remember me by.

Sansa was huddled underneath the thickest fur cloak she owned as she headed to Sandor’s bedchamber. Since her wedding night, Sansa had not slept in the largest bedchamber in the castle meant for the Lord and Lady of Winterfell. It once was a place where she could jump in her parent’s bed and hide from her siblings as children. Now, it was tainted and ruined. The majority of her clothing and other belongings were moved into the solar so she could dress without needing to enter the chambers. Sansa wanted to move some of her belongings into Sandor’s bedchambers, but the guests' accommodations were relatively small and decided against it. 

Once we marry, I will have a new bedchamber made to fit the Lord and Lady of Winterfell.

Sansa nearly tripped over her cloak several times before arriving at his door. The sun had just set in the west and the castle seemed eerily empty due to the Knights of the Vale departing earlier in the day.

A poor decision by Lord Hardyng to abandon us in the wars to come. And I shall never forget it.

As she stood in the warm corridor of the guest tower, she watched the snowflakes on the fur begin to melt and wrapped the cloak around her tighter. 

Why must I always be so nervous? How does it always feel like the first time with him?

Sansa gently pushed the door open and Sandor stood in front of her, his back facing her, putting the armor that laid on the bed inside of a large bag. He turned at the sound of her entrance and observed the dark, massive fur coat she was wearing. 

“Gods girl, what is that coat made out of, an aurochs?” he japed.

Sansa closed the door behind her with her foot and dropped the massive cloak to her feet. Underneath, she was as naked as her nameday.

Sandor stood frozen for a moment, his mouth gaped open, before Sansa heard him curse under his breath and drop the bag of armor onto the floor. She could not refrain from smiling at his response and began to make his way towards him.

“I just wanted to give you something to remember me by,” she said alluringly. She might have appeared to be confident, but her heart was beating through her chest. Sandor reached out with his right arm to pull her to him and felt her shapely breasts push against his tunic. 

“You are making it bloody hard to leave,” he kissed her neck ferociously, pressing his hands into the curve of her ass. Sansa could already feel his cock throbbing against her lower abdomen and felt the heat rise in her core. She loved how he reacted to her; like a famished direwolf spotting a rabbit. He grabbed her like she was prey and consumed her body with kisses and embraces. His desire for her made Sansa feel like the most beautiful woman in the Seven Kingdoms.

“When you come back,” she whispered, breathless from his hungry kisses, “we will stand underneath the weirwood tree and I will become yours and you will become mine.” She pulled his face into her hands, staring deeply into his deathly grey eyes. “You need to come back to me,” she demanded. “If you dare to die on me up there, I promise you I will be the one to kill your corpse all over again,” she quipped. 

Sandor smiled, a genuine, warm smile and pressed his forehead to hers, scars against porcelain. “Not even one hundred thousand fucking dead men can stop me from coming back to you,” he whispered. He picked her up off the floor and she wrapped her bare legs around his hips. His mouth consumed her lips as soft whimpers escaped her. The thought of knowing he was to be gone for months made their moment of passion abundantly more intense. Sansa never thought that to be possible, for their lovemaking had always proven to be daring, heated, and novel. But this moment was somehow more profound as the two lovers enraptured one another for the last time before parting.

Sandor laid her onto the bed gently and crawled up to tower over her. Her legs maintained their position around his hips as he reached down with his hand to feel the saturation of arousal developing inside of her. His fingers, though large and calloused, were always tender when entering inside of her. He grunted at the sensation of her warm juices facilitating the entrance of his two fingers and slowly pushed them in and out of her. Sansa let out a moan and grinded her hips against the hand that was pleasuring her. She saw his mouth twitch as he lowered his face to suck on her firm nipples, goose pimples rising over her skin. The rhythm of his hand was persistent, making her want to peak for him right there.

“Sit down,” she commanded in a sultry whisper. “Against the head post.”

A smirk ran across Sandor’s face as he removed his fingers from inside of her, covered in her clear, slippery juices. He shifted so he sat with his back against the head post and stretched his long legs out across the bed. Sansa nuzzled into his lap, gripping his cock through his trousers. He grunted, his head falling back against the head post as she traveled her hand up and down his length. She still could not believe that the size of him could fit inside of her. But somehow it did, and her sex loved to accommodate him.

“Take them off,” she whispered again. Despite his usual domineering nature, he gave her her fair share of control when in bed and she loved him for it. Sandor obliged and slid his trousers off, allowing her to lick his length, lubricating it with her mouth. He moaned as she spit on the head of his cock and crawled over his legs to straddle him, guiding him inside. The combination of her arousal fluids and saliva magnified her pleasure as she rocked her hips on top of him. 

In this position, he was able to lick at her breasts as she rode him and did so eagerly. She noticed how he seemed to be holding his breath as if he meant to prevent himself from spilling into her. The sight was excruciatingly arousing; watching him writhe his hips under her due to the pleasure she provided him led her to an early climax. She squeezed his shoulders so hard during her release that she noticed blood begin to bead through his tunic. As her grinding slowed down, he grasped her hips tightly with his hands and began to lift her up and down vigorously, pumping his cock into her until his seed added to the mixture of juices and saliva. 

As his peak ended, her head fell onto his shoulder and they sat there, unmoving, panting and sweating from the pleasure they received and gave. Sandor gently pressed a hand against her lower abdomen, his cock still inside of her, rubbing her milky skin with his brawny hand. “Make us that child while I am gone,” he murmured.

Chapter Text

The first day was long, the second even longer, and on the third, Sansa began to believe that the next two months would never pass.

Keep yourself busy, she told herself. There are more than enough things to do on the brink of two wars.

Sansa pre-occupied herself by taking care of her duties as Lady of Winterfell. She visited with the Northern lords and ladies, stopped by the armory to track their progress, and even took up brushing the horses in the stables with the young stable boys. She also found herself doing lots and lots of needlework. However, despite her daily duties and activities, Sansa found herself restless, constantly thinking of Sandor. On the second day of him being gone, it snowed so hard Sansa winced at the thought of the men having to travel in such conditions. 

Luckily, Sandor would be far from alone. Beric, Thoros, and a dozen more Northmen went along with them to bring back as many supplies from the Night’s Watch as they could and get the remaining men down to Winterfell. Sansa hoped that during their travels Sandor and some of the Northmen would become companions. However, she felt that the opposite was more likely to occur.

He may no longer be the Hound, but he is still Sandor Clegane.

Sansa also spent time with her siblings during the day. Bran was often in the godswood but she visited him each evening to pray. Bran consistently informed her that nothing had changed with regards to the dead; he kept his third eye on the Others and confirmed they had not moved from beyond the Wall. That, at least, provided Sansa a level of comfort. For if they managed to cross the wall when Sandor was still there…she shuddered at the thought.

Jon was with Daenerys nearly every hour of the day and Sansa knew there was something going on between them aside from planning each other's wars. Jon mentioned that her forces of Dothraki, Unsullied, and others loyal to her would be arriving in Winterfell in two months' time as well. However, Daenerys and Jon were to take her three dragons north of the Wall once the remaining men of the Night’s Watch were a safe enough distance away. The thought terrified her, but if the dragons could manage to destroy enough of them, perhaps the war against the Others is not hopeless. Sansa did not completely trust the Dragon Queen, and she especially did not appreciate her demand for the Northerners to treat her as their queen, but she did appear to genuinely love Jon. And for that, Sansa gave her a chance as Jon had done for Sandor.

A Queen and a bastard. A Lady and a Hound. What is next? Arya and an Other? The thought made her laugh.

Arya spent most of her time in the practice yard and appeared to be teaching more of the soldiers than even the Winterfell master-at-arms. The three men from the Brotherhood who came to Winterfell with Sandor stayed behind; Sandor had ordered, or rather threatened, them to protect her while he was away, so they were never far behind.

Unfortunately, Sansa also found herself having withdrawals from her intimacy with Sandor. At the end of the first day, she laid in his bed in the guest tower and held the furs to her face, the scent of him still on them. The smell that lingered on them aroused her and she could not help but to touch herself, imagining that it was his hand on her sex instead of hers. However, once she reached her climax, she only cried afterwards. Her emotions were wavering and she was ashamed of how childish she had been acting, like a toddler without their mother. Sansa knew she was only torturing herself by staying in his bedchambers while he was away. Instead, she decided to spend the nights with Arya while her new bedchambers were being constructed in the main tower.

On the seventh morning, Sansa awoke with blood between her thighs. 

My moonblood. I got my moonblood. 

Sansa became undone at the sight.

“Seven fucking hells!” she yelled. Arya ran into the chambers from the privy with Needle already in her left hand.

Does she take that stupid sword with her even in the privy?

“What is it?” Arya asked looking around the bedchamber, prepared for a fight.

“My moonblood,” Sansa sighed and fell back onto the bed.

“So what? Go get a rag. You had me thinking one of the Others was in here with you yelling like that,” Arya said.

“I thought I might be…” she whispered. 

Pregnant. I was supposed to be pregnant.

“Oh.” Arya walked over to sit on the edge of the bed with her sister. “You were hoping for a little hound pup to be in there?” she japed with a small grin on her face. 

“It’s not funny! Shut up!” Sansa nudged her sister off the bed with her foot. 

“I’d say your moonblood is on you. You have a shit attitude.” Arya grabbed her cloak and headed out the door. 

Sansa could not help but feel like a failure for not being with child. She laid in her sister’s bed and thought of all the things that could have gone wrong.

What if the moon tea I drank made me infertile? What if I can never become pregnant? What then?

The thought made Sansa nauseous; she had prayed in the godswood each day for Sandor’s seed to quicken, to give them a child. The heir to Winterfell, she thought sadly. Though she wanted to remain in bed for the remaining months, Sansa’s young chambermaid came in to replace the sheets and noticed the light blood stain. 

“M’lady, do you need a rag for your moonblood?” the young girl asked.

Sansa wanted to scream, yell, cry, but instead she gave the girl a small smile of gratitude. “Yes, thank you.” 

I am the Lady of Winterfell. Not Cersei Lannister. I cannot verbally attack all those around me just because I did not get what I want.

Sansa bathed, dressed, and headed towards the Great Hall to break her fast. Jon was there beside Daenerys, a gentle smile on his lips, staring at the Targaryen admiringly. 

He loves her, too. Have I ever seen Jon this happy? 

Arya sat further down the table, disgusted at Jon’s conspicuous display of affection for the Dragon Queen. Arya and Jon were always very close, but with Daenerys here, the two had not spent quite as much time together other than in the practice yard. Bran sat to Arya’s left, his food untouched.

Bran appears to be less of a man every day. He hardly sleeps. Hardly talks. Now, he hardly even eats.

“Hello Sansa,” Bran greeted her blankly. Sansa gave him a smile and sat beside him, gesturing towards the serving girl for a plate. 

“How are you, Bran? Are you not hungry?” Sansa asked with concern. Bran turned his head slowly to meet her eyes.

“No,” he answered, turning back to look amongst the scarcely filled hall.

“Jon is fucking her,” Arya whispered across Bran towards Sansa. Bran made no reaction. 

“Gods, Arya,” Sansa whispered back. “Shut your mouth. If you offend her, there is no telling what she will do. She is a proud one, I can tell,” she murmured. 

The serving girl brought Sansa a plate with a hard-boiled egg, a rasher of bacon, a pomegranate, and a slice of toast. As she stared at the plate in front of her, Sansa gagged and covered her mouth but it was too late. She leaned over the left side of her chair and vomited, with nothing in her stomach other than stomach bile. The hall became silent and Jon stood up quickly to walk over to his sister.

“Sansa, are you all right?” he asked anxiously.

Bran reached over with his left hand and placed it on Sansa’s lower abdomen, as gentle as a ghost. “She will be all right, Jon. Sansa is with child,” he informed them vacantly. Arya dropped her fork onto her plate and Jon looked at her incredulously, wiping his hands across his face.

With child, she thought. Sandor’s child.

 


 

The maester examined her quickly and Sansa could hardly bear to open her legs open to such an old man. 

I will have to do this when I give birth, no need for false modesty. 

“Is everything all right?” Sansa asked with concern as she sat up to dress herself.

“Yes, my lady. It is still early, but it does appear you are with child,” he said, feigning a smile on his face.

No one wants me to have his child, not even my dear old maester.

“What of the blood?” she questioned. “Should I be concerned?”

“No, my lady. Some blood is common when the seed quickens in the womb. You will no doubt begin to feel small changes over the following days,” the maester informed her as he cleaned his hands up with a wet cloth. “I would suggest you take your physical duties easy and drink plenty of water should you find yourself becoming sick often.”

Sansa hardly heard a word the maester uttered after him confirming there was no concern for the blood. Thank the gods, she thought.

Upon her examination, Sansa walked towards the godswood to pray again, but this time for her gratefulness for becoming with child. Bran sat near the weirwood tree in his wheeled chair and Sansa thought she almost saw him smile as she approached.

“Sansa,” he said. “I am very happy for you,” though there was no tone in his voice.

“Thank you, Bran,” she smiled, sitting next to him on the same weirwood root Sandor had once taken her over. 

“You will be a wonderful mother, Sansa. You were born for it,” he added, staring at the black pool in front of the weirwood. She stared at the pool too, wondering just how Bran’s visions worked. 

How does he know everything? How can one man know everything?

“I hope so,” Sansa took a deep breath, easing her newfound anxieties of being pregnant during such a chaotic time. 

“It will be all right, Sansa. He will return to you. And you will have his child,” he assured her, speaking every word as if it were its own sentence. 

“I told him I wanted to give him a son, and now I will,” she whispered blissfully.

“No,” Bran said passively. “Not a son. A daughter.”

Chapter Text

The men were only a day's ride away from returning to Winterfell, and the thought of being so close to his little bird made Sandor become restive. The men and wildings from the Wall, the dozen men sent from Winterfell, and Thoros remained on the ground, asleep, bundled in furs on top of the snow. Sandor could not find it in him to rest; he wanted to ride all night if it meant he would return to Sansa sooner. 

Late in the night, he and Beric sat closer to the fire pit that had been built despite Sandor’s loathing of the flames. He was not about to let his fear of the fire result in him freezing to death. As the two sat there, Beric appeared uneasy as well. He stared into the flames for hours and his face shifted from looks of horror to looks of joy. And at one point, Beric even chuckled.

“What is so bloody amusing?” Sandor asked. Beric lifted his eyes from the flames, a small grin still on his face.

“Nothing, Clegane,” Beric answered kindly.

“Go on,” he rasped. “What is it?” The grin on Beric’s face was stirring Sandor’s rage and the sleep deprivation did not help him to control it. Beric only shook his head and pointed at the dark sky, changing the subject. 

“The dragons. Snow was supposed to ride with Daenerys by now,” he pointed out. Sandor grunted at the thought, wondering if something had happened between the Starks and the Dragon Queen. If the Targaryen woman had left, there would be no way they could fight off the Others and live to fight the second war.

“Maybe the bastard wanted to wait for us to return,” Sandor guessed, though he doubted that was the case. “Can’t you look in your fucking flames and find out what is going on?” he asked. Beric laughed again, but this time it was hollow.

“You know it does not work that way, Clegane. I see what the Lord of Light wants me to see. Glimpses of what is happening, what will happen, and many times I cannot discern what it is,” he explained. “Some things,” he continued, “some things, I know for a fact,” his smile grew warmer again, glancing at Sandor before returning to the flames. 

The sun slowly began to rise in the east and with that, Sandor stood up and began to prepare for the day’s ride. As the other men lay asleep, Sandor nudged each body he passed with his foot, resulting in groans and curses from the men. 

“Wake up you lazy cunts,” Sandor yelled, kicking at Thoros’ legs. One of the wildlings that joined them from the Wall, named Tormund Giantsbane, stood up and patted Sandor on the back. 

“You heard the big man, get yourselves up! He is in a hurry to stick his member in the crow’s sister! Har!” he roared. Sandor pushed the wildling’s hand off his back as Tormund continued booming with laughter. More groans came from the sleeping men, slowly shifting out of their furs, and Sandor wondered if some of them were frozen to the ground. 

One of the men from Winterfell rose and stretched out, popping every joint in his body. He took a look at the sun rising in the east and made his way towards the horses beside Sandor. “Good man,” the Winterfell lad said. “I said first light we would head out and here I am as useless as the others,” he gave Sandor a look of regard. Though Sandor did not know nor care what his name was, he was grateful that the Northman treated him with a little more respect after their travels together.

Perhaps the bastard was right. I needed to do this, to prove myself loyal to the North. 

Out of the dozen Winterfell men Jon had sent with Sandor, Thoros, and Beric, five of them had gained some measure of respect for Sandor. However, he could not say the same for the others. Within the first hour of departing Winterfell towards the Wall, one of the men began to instigate a quarrel. The man made bawdy japes about a Northern Ice Queen, clearly referring to Sansa, and asked the other men if they thought she would have curls the color of fire on her cunt. Sandor unsheathed his sword rapidly, causing the surrounding horses to become frightened. The Winterfell man dismounted, sword in hand, and Sandor nearly did the same until Beric managed to pull his horse around in between them. 

“Ignore the boy!” Beric shouted. “This will all be for naught if you kill one of her men!” 

And he was right. Sandor did his best to remember the purpose of traveling to and from the Wall: getting the bastards men and supplies down and somehow manage to earn respect from the Northmen. However, all Sandor could think about was Sansa, wondering if he would ever see her again.

I have to. Beric said he saw me fight at Winterfell against the Others. He saw me marry the girl. I can’t bloody die before then and I won't. 

It was another hour before the remaining men and wildlings awoke, prepared their mounts, and headed down the Kingsroad towards Winterfell. Every minute felt longer than the last. Sandor wondered if the time moved as slow for her as it did for him. And more than anything else, he wondered if the little bird might be carrying his child. 

What do I even know of being a father? All my father did was lie about my cunt of a brother pushing my face into the coals. I can’t be any worse than him. 

Sandor also wondered why Jon and his Dragon Queen had not yet taken the dragons north of the Wall. A sick feeling came to his stomach when he thought of a scenario in which the Targaryen bitch turned on them, burning Winterfell to the ground. But if that were to be true, surely they would have seen smoke on the horizon. He pushed the unnerving thought out of his mind as it only filled with rage. 

Several hours went by until it was time to depart the Kingsroad and turn west towards Winterfell. The closer they came to the castle, the more tents they began to see from far outside of the walls, smoke rising from fire pits, and the familiar sounds of steel meeting steel. 

The Dragon Queen’s men. Guess the bitch did not turn on the North afterall. The thought settled his fears.

As they passed the tents, Sandor saw thousands of the Unsullied soldiers and the Dothraki screamers, appearing to be no more tame than animals. They stared at the men approaching suspiciously until a rider came out from the walls to meet them. It was the bastard of Winterfell, Jon Snow. 

“Good work, men,” he greeted them. Once Tormund Giantsbane saw the boy he nearly tipped over his horse in his dismount, running to embrace the bastard. The two laughed like a couple of boy whores and Sandor wondered if this had been the first time he ever saw Jon Snow smile.

No, it’s not. Do not forget the boy laughed at the thought of Sansa being in love with you.

Jon led the large group of men and wildlings, along with several wagons full of supplies, through the gates. Sandor immediately began searching for Sansa, looking out across the yard, up in the ramparts, until he spotted her auburn waves blowing in the cold wind near the stables.

She knows I must take my rabid horse to the stables else someone loses a hand. She knows this is where I would come first. The thought made him smile.

He dismounted from Stranger and took the reins into his hand, making his way towards the Lady of Winterfell.

“There she is,” he began, guiding Stranger into the stables. “My little bird.”

She turned around slowly as if it were his ghost speaking to her. When she faced him, her blue eyes lit up and Sandor thought she would begin to cry. She was somehow even more beautiful than before. Her hair appeared to be fuller, more lustrous, her porcelain skin glowed, and as his eyes drifted down to her breasts, he noticed they were fuller as well, and something else, too…

He took a step to approach her, but before he could take another she scurried across the stable and fell into his arms. The feel of her embrace sent the deepest, rawest wave of emotions through him that he had ever felt. The months apart somehow felt longer than the years apart after leaving her that night the Blackwater burned. As his lips met hers, holding her face in his large hands, he felt as if he was becoming drunk off her scent, her touch, the heat radiating from her. No kill ever felt so sweet, no amount of wine ever made him feel so intoxicated. He could not refrain himself from placing his hands down her back, groping her round ass, and caressing the length of her hair. She pulled away briefly, as breathless as he was.

“I wanted to ride out of the gates with Jon,” she whispered inches away from his face. “But he would not have me out there with the Dothraki...so I decided to wait near the entrance of the gate that way when you entered I would be the first one to see you, but then Jon said there would be too many men and horses,” she paused to kiss him eagerly on the lips. “So I came here. I knew you would come here first. I wanted to face out of the stables, to watch you come to me, but if I saw you enter the gates I would not be able to stop myself from running across the yard to you,” she kissed him again. “I am not supposed to run right now,” she explained, taking his right hand into hers and placing it on the subtle firmness of her lower abdomen. Sandor looked down and his heart skipped a beat; she was fuller there than she had been when he left.

This is what Beric was grinning about over the flames. The little bird is with child. My child. 

Sandor took her face into his hands again and kissed her so hungrily he thought he might not be able to abstain from taking her right there in the stables. Moans escaped her lips, grunts escaped his, and for a moment he felt that they were the only ones in all of the Known World.

Chapter Text

“Come on,” Sansa urged, pulling Sandor’s hand behind her. The two were descending down the guest tower stairs late that night; the sounds of their footsteps on the stone steps echoed throughout the tower, each one bringing Sansa a step closer to getting what she wanted. 

Just a moment longer.

Earlier that evening, after the new arrivals from the Wall were settled, a large gathering took place in the Great Hall. While it was not a proper feast, it was just as lively.  Most of the men in the hall became remarkably drunk and there was plenty to eat thanks to Daenerys’ armies providing at least a hundred carts of food. The wildlings proved themselves to be sufficient entertainment during the gathering, putting the Northmen to shame in their drunken games involving daggers and ale. Sandor did not seem to pay much attention to the happenings inside of the hall; his gaze was fixated on Sansa and though she was fully dressed, she felt as if she were as naked as her nameday. He sat there, making love to her with his eyes, and she felt herself nearly peak when he rubbed the swell of her belly underneath the table.

Just a moment longer.

Following the gathering, Sansa and Sandor made their way through a gentle snow towards his bedchamber. As they climbed the stairs of the guest tower, Sandor gently pushed her against the stones midway up, kissing her desperately on the neck for all those who should chance upon them to see. Sansa wanted him inside of her even more than he did, but she could not alter her plans.

Just a moment longer.

Sansa pushed him off her with a playful smile and continued up the stairs, down the corridor, and into his bedchamber. A large tub was prepared inside and he eyed it suspiciously. Sansa stood in front of him and began removing his cloak. 

“Sick of my stench already, girl?” he muttered, pulling her into another tantalizing embrace. Sansa smiled against his lips and began tugging at his tunic. 

“Go on, take it off.” She pulled away from him and gave him a seductive smile, watching his eyes devour her. Sandor gave a small chuckle at her request and lifted his tunic off over his head. Sansa studied him as if he were the Warrior himself, watching as his muscles contracted underneath his skin, observing the scars that marked his body, surveying his size and strength; the visual of him was enough for Sansa to reconsider making them wait. 

No, it will be worth it. Just a moment longer.

“Your turn, little bird,” he walked up to her, placing a hand on the back of her dress. Sansa shook her head, a mischievous smile falling on her lips.

“No, just you,” she sat down next to the tub on her knees, tracing her fingers atop the warm water. When she met his gaze again, he looked as if her teasing him was physically painful. Sansa could feel the throbbing in her sex, demanding that she have him now. As she stared at him towering over her from the ground, she wanted to strip down with him and sit on his length in the tub, connecting them as one for the first time in months.

No, just a moment longer.

Sandor grunted at her response and began to remove his boots and trousers. “So, we are playing a game, is that it?” he asked with a hint of frustration in his voice. Sansa wanted to laugh at how snarky he was becoming from the tension building. However, she was confident that once he became aware of why she was doing this, he would love her all the more for it.

Once he was stripped of his clothing, and fully aroused by the sight of his manhood, she pointed at the water. He sighed and climbed into the tub, spilling a small amount of water over the edges. Sansa pushed her fitted sleeves up on her arms and leaned over to pick up the soap and a cloth from the table. She began to caress his body with the cloth, cleaning the dirt and sweat he gathered to and from the Wall, as she bent over the tub on her knees. She noticed his eyes shift towards her ass and he sighed once more, throwing his head back in frustration. Sansa pretended not to notice and continued in silence. However, once her hand brushed his erect cock underneath the water, he grabbed her wrist tightly. 

“Little bird, this is more agonizing than that bloody trip I took to the Wall,” he looked at her with beggar’s eyes. She leaned into his face and placed a soft, supple kiss on his marred cheek. 

“Finish up, then. There are fresh clothes for you in the chest. I will be waiting,” she stood up and tossed the cloth and soap into the tub, swiftly exiting out of his bedchambers. She was breathless as she stood in the corridor and could feel the thumping of her heart inside of her chest.

Just a moment longer. 

Within a second, she heard the sound of water splashing as he stepped out of the tub. Minutes later, he opened the door rapidly, clad in the black cloak, tunic, and trousers she had sewn for him while he was away.

Gods, have I ever seen him so aggravated? Just a moment longer.

Sansa grabbed his right hand into hers and began leading him down the corridor in a sprint. She turned back to look at him and observed his disordered demeanor.

“Sansa, what in the bloody Seven Hells is going on?” he asked, matching her pace as they began to race down the stairs. “You said you were not supposed to be running,” he reminded her.

“I am holding onto you,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “Just do not let me trip or fall.” 

Once they reached the bottom of the stairs and exited the tower, Sansa pulled out a black cloth from her breast and gestured for him to bend forward.

“Gods, girl. What sort of game is this?” he asked, bending forward despite his clear frustration. Sansa tied the cloth around his eyes and guided him towards their destination with her hand in his. 

“A game you will like,” she answered. 

“After all of this, I am going to fuck you for a fortnight straight,” he said in a tone that did not sound like he was exaggerating. Sansa giggled to herself and continued to lead him through the quiet yard in Winterfell.

As they walked, the snow clouds in the sky began to clear, allowing the moon to shine bright over the castle, a guiding light to where they were headed.

“We are almost there,” she said, squeezing his hand to reassure him.

Just a moment longer.

Finally, Sansa brought them to her desired location. She was careful to lead him through a clear path so as to not trip over any roots or rocks hidden underneath the snow. But despite her caution, Sandor’s height resulted in him hitting his head on a tree limb and Sansa heard him cursing under his breath. It took everything within her to suppress her laughter. 

Enough of the teasing and torturing. Now is the moment.

Sansa stood still, stepping on her tiptoes to remove the blinding cloth from his eyes. When his eyes adjusted to the sight in front of him, his mouth gaped open and he remained speechless. He met Sansa’s glance a moment later and she noticed that his eyes were glistening in the moonlight that spilled into the godswood. 

Tears. 

Sansa took his hand into hers again and walked down the torchlit path towards the front of the weirwood tree. Beside the black pool, Jon was there with Daenerys beside him, Arya stood behind Bran in his chair, and Beric and Thoros stood directly in front of the carved face. 

“My Lady,” Thoros greeted her with a genial smile. Sansa turned towards Sandor as they took their place to be wedded in sight of the old gods. 

Sandor glanced at Jon for a moment and gave him a single nod. Daenerys held tightly onto Jon’s arm as she watched the couple adoringly. Although Bran’s face was blank, he somehow appeared more content, possibly even happy. And Arya, for once, did not scowl at Sandor.

Now is the moment.

Sansa placed her hands into his, staring up at him with eager, affectionate eyes.

“Sandor Clegane, I love you,” she whispered. Sansa turned towards Jon and smiled. At her gesture, Jon parted with Daenerys and walked up to the couple in front of the weirwood tree, taking one of Sansa’s arms into his own.

“I might be a bastard,” he began, “but Sansa is my sister and I am Lord Eddard Stark’s eldest  surviving son. I will be the one to give her away,” he gave her a reassuring smile. Jon stood on Sansa’s right side and gestured towards Thoros to begin.

This is not easy for him, but he kept his word. Again, he is more like our father than the rest of us could ever hope to be.

Thoros approached them and cleared his throat. “I know Northern weddings do not require priests, but I want to say I helped marry the Lady of Winterfell to my Brother Sandor Clegane,” he grinned. “Who comes to be wed before the old gods?” 

“Sansa of the House Stark, eldest daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark, the Lady of Winterfell, and Wardeness of the North comes here to be wed,” Jon answered. “Who comes to claim her?” Jon turned to glance towards Sandor. 

Sandor was speechless for a moment but took a deep breath before answering. “Sandor of House Clegane,” his voice was gentler than Sansa had ever heard it before. 

“And who gives her away?” Thoros added, thoroughly enjoying the moment. 

“Jon Snow, Lord Eddard Stark’s eldest surviving son and half-brother to Sansa Stark.”

“Lady Sansa, will you take this man?” Thoros asked.

“I take this man,” she turned towards Sandor and joined her hands into his. She initiated the kneeling into the soft snow as the two bowed their heads down in a silent prayer to the old gods.

I take this man, for the rest of my days. May the old gods protect us in the wars to come and all the years after.

Once they stood again, Jon walked over to Bran, picking up the white Kingsguard cloak that Sandor had left with her years ago during the night of the Battle of Blackwater Bay. However, it was now cleansed of blood and embroidered with the sigil of House Stark, a grey direwolf.

“Is that?” Sandor asked Sansa in a whisper. She nodded, a tear falling down her cheek.

“Yes,” she answered. “I kept it. You will become a Stark, the Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North, but I will take your cloak, this cloak. The one you gave to me that night.” Jon handed the cloak to Sandor, looking as if he might shed a tear as well, and nodded for him to wrap her under his protection. Sandor placed the cloak around her shoulders tenderly, followed by lifting her chin up with his hand and placing the most intimate of kisses on her lips. 

“To the newly wedded Lord and Lady of Winterfell!” Thoros cheered, taking a deep swig from his wine skin. “Long may they rule!”

Chapter Text

Departing the godswood, Sandor carried his wife in his arms as was custom for Northern weddings. But rather than heading to a feast, they headed to yet another one of Sansa’s surprises. 

“The main tower, on the fourth floor,” she directed while leaning in to kiss his neck.

“You will have this marriage consummated in this bloody courtyard if you keep that up,” he threatened with carnal desire. She pulled away and gave him a daring look, making him consider following through with the threat. The little bird would like that, he thought. 

As he carried her up the stairwell of the main tower, he reflected on their wedding ceremony and how unconventionally perfect it had been. He knew where they were headed as she led him blinded through Winterfell. Sandor had made his rounds of the castle long enough to discern where they were. However, he foolishly guessed that she wanted him to take her in the godswood again. It was not until she untied the cloth from his eyes did he process what was happening. 

Gods, what a fucking sight it was. 

Sandor felt as if he were dreaming during the ceremony, and dreaded to be rudely awoken by that drunk fool Thoros at the Wall or even worse, in the White Sword Tower in the Red Keep, serving as Joffrey’s dog. But as time continued to pass, he never woke up. Instead, he became the husband of the Northern beauty Sansa Stark, the Lord of Winterfell, and the Warden of the North. 

And the Seven Kingdoms will shit themselves once that raven flies. 

Once they reached their destination, he lowered her back onto her feet outside of the door. Sansa turned to him, placing her hands on his chest.  

“Littlefinger defiled the bedchamber that belonged to the Lord and Lady of Winterfell. I thought it would be best for us to not have to relive that moment every day, to have something new. This place is for us and one day, it will be for our child who will rule after us.” Sansa unlocked the barred door with an iron key, gesturing for Sandor to proceed ahead and push the thickness of it open.

The newly constructed Lord’s bedchambers was well over twice the size of the original, as were all of its furnishings, and appeared as luxurious as any room in the Red Keep. The bed was massive, located in the center of the furthest wall from the entrance. The canopy atop was the same grey as the Stark direwolf sigil; the pillars, head board, and foot board were carved from a dark oak. To the left side of the bed, there were two large windows facing out to the frozen northern landscape and in between, a brazier wide enough to fit in a great hall. The sight of such a brazier might have once filled him with a sense of fear and loathing, but the fire burned low, instilling a comforting ambiance inside the bedchamber. Sansa sauntered towards the bed, her auburn hair swaying gracefully against her bride’s cloak.

All these years and she kept that bloody cloak. The only memory of me I left with her.

As she turned to face him, he realized he had not moved one step from the entrance. He did not know why; perhaps it was his fear that this night was only a dream, and should he choose to approach her and fuck her like he desired, he would wake up and it would all vanish: his wife, his child, this bedchamber, everything.

Interrupting him from his grim thoughts, Sansa dropped her brides cloak onto the floor beside the bed and began to unlace the dress that was confining her body. He closed the door behind him with his back, refusing to remove his eyes from the sight of her stripping down. Moments ago he could not keep his hands off of her, but all he could manage to do now was watch her in awe as a man might watch a god.

Once her dress fell onto the floor, pitch black against her white bride’s cloak, she removed her small clothes in such a seductive manner that he could feel his cock press painfully inside his trousers. His breath caught in his throat at the sight of the swell on her bare belly. Clothed, it was not immediately obvious Sansa was with child, but nude, she looked like the Mother herself. Her soft, white skin glowed as bright as the flames in the brazier. Sandor’s mouth salivated at the sight of her breasts, nearly double the size they had been before and her nipples a darker shade of pink. 

All of these comely changes due to my seed. The seed of a man who once was no more than a savage Hound.

Sandor pulled himself away from the door and eliminated the distance between them, his eyes shifting from her breasts, her face, the swell of her belly, her cunt; he wanted to do everything to her all at once.

“If you were not already carrying my child, you would be after I am done with you tonight,” he murmured lustly. Sansa smiled but not in a girlish way, it was bewitching, begging for him to take her. Sandor took her face into his hands and stared at her in wonder. “My wife,” he grunted, pushing his lips onto hers. Sansa’s tongue greeted his own fervently and she ended up ripping the tunic she had sewn for him due to her ferocity in taking it off. The moans escaping her lips were already heavy and he refused to hold himself back any longer. He removed his clothing and carried her into his arms onto the bed, lying on his back. She began to crawl her way down to place his manhood inside of her mouth, but Sandor feared he would spill the instant he felt the sensation. Instead, he lifted her by her waist and sat her down on his cock, easing himself inside of her. 

Sansa’s entrance was the wettest it had ever been and the stiffness of his cock nearly pained him. As her walls closed around him, she let out a deep sigh and placed her hands onto his bare chest. Her eyes met his and she slowly began to rock her hips up, then back down, up again, then down, faster each cycle. His jaw clenched as he felt himself about to peak.

“Fucking Seven fucking Hells,” he moaned.

The mere visual of her on top of him was as euphoric as the sensation of being inside of her. Her auburn hair spilled down in front of his face, her swollen breasts bounced with every move she made, and her eyes were heavy with lust. He grunted and grasped her ass with his hands, lifting her up and down rapidly. Suddenly, he felt her tighten against his cock, sending him to climax at the same time as her. His peak was overwhelming and his grunts sounded pained, satisfied, and exhausted all at once. Sansa’s desperate moans filled the bedchamber, the sweetest sound he ever heard. Once he finished spilling inside of her, she lowered her face down to his and kissed all along the left side of his face, the scars, the bone near his jaw, and the black flesh down his neck. It was too perfect, she was too perfect.

Any moment now and I will wake up in that shit tower in King’s Landing, at the fucking Wall, or on the damned Quiet Isle and she will be gone.

 


 

This little wife of mine intends to fuck me to death. 

Mere minutes after consummating their marriage, Sansa got on her knees and placed him into her mouth to start all over again. An hour after the second time, she got on all fours and waited for him to get behind her, staring at him with a tempting smile on her face. When they finished for the third time, he thought his cock would fall right off.

When Sandor awoke the following morning, he felt something soaked on the sheets. As his eyes adjusted to the light pouring into the windows, the once white sheets were now scarlet, coated with blood. He jumped up to sitting and pulled Sansa into his arms. She was unmoving, pale, and her lips were blue.

“Sansa!” he shouted in horror. He watched her arms fall lifelessly to her side and her head hung against his elbow. The panic set in and Sandor began to hyperventilate, touching the blood soaked on her thighs. It was then that the maester walked in, carrying something small and swaddled in cloth in his arms.

“My Lord, she did not make it,” the maester began to weep blood. “I did everything I could.” The maester reached out to Sandor, presenting the bundle in his arms. Sandor looked down and saw his child, a newborn no larger than the size of his hand, lifeless and as pale as her mother. He froze at the sight, wanting to scream, cry, rip the maester apart but he could not move. Another man began to walk into the bedchamber, his head attached to his neck with black thread.

“I told you that whore would die birthing your stillborn bastard!” the ghost of Nestor Royce boomed and began to cackle.

Sandor glanced back towards the maester, but it was not him who stood there but Littlefinger. “You’ve killed her, Hound. I told you, Starks do not last long in this world,” he smirked. Sandor looked down at Sansa again and watched as her eyes opened, eyes blue and burning like ice.

Chapter Text

“Hello, Sandor,” Bran greeted monotonously. 

Sandor entered the boy’s bedchamber anxiously, pulling up a chair beside him. Bran was sitting beside the window, staring out into the yard below as still as a weirwood tree. His bed was unslept in and Sandor wondered if this alleged Three-Eyed Raven ever found rest. Despite it being first light, the crippled boy seemed indifferent by Sandor’s early arrival, as he did with everything else.

“I need you to help me,” Sandor pleaded. “I had a dream.”

“That Sansa died?” Bran asked plainly, turning his head towards Sandor. He gave the boy a staggered look and slowly nodded his head.

He will know. He knows everything.

“I cannot help you, Sandor,” Bran uttered.

“How not?” Sandor asked incredulously. “I thought you could see things that haven’t happened yet.” 

“It would be impossible to explain to a man what I can see,” he turned his head back towards the window. “I do not know everything. Not yet.” 

“Sansa said you told her I would come back to her...that she would have my child, a daughter,” Sandor sighed, the image from his dream haunting him.

My daughter. Pale. Lifeless.

“I told Sansa she would be a wonderful mother. Any man who knows her knows this to be true. I told her you would come back because I could see you travel to and from the Wall, knowing the Others could not pass. I told her she would have your child because I saw it, somehow,” he paused.

“Have my child? Have? And what then, she bloody dies?” Sandor grimaced at the thought, clenching his fists into his lap.

“I saw Sansa and a child, nothing more. It would be impossible to explain to a man what I can see,” Bran repeated. A moment of silence passed between the two. Sandor did not know whether to feel relieved that Bran had not seen a vision of his sister’s death or fearful that not even this Three-Eyed Raven could help him. “Jon and Daenerys will ride north of the Wall today,” Bran mentioned in a whisper. Sandor wanted to clout the boy on the head for changing the subject, but mention of the Wall triggered another memory from his dream.

She had blue eyes, burning like ice.

“Why did they wait?” Sandor asked. 

“The dragon, Viserion, was injured. The other two would not fly without him,” Bran explained.

“Injured? How the fuck does a dragon become injured?” Sandor asked, dreading the response. 

Do not say it. Do not fucking say it.

“The Others,” he whispered. The door to the bedchamber flew open with Jon Snow standing in its entrance.

“Bran, are you all right?” Jon asked, staring at Sandor suspiciously.

“Hello, Jon. Yes, I am all right,” the boy answered stoically.  

“I hear you’re leaving.” Sandor stood up and walked towards the bastard.

“We should have left yesterday, but when you and the others arrived, Sansa begged me to stay for her wedding,” Jon explained uncomfortably. The two sized each other up despite their cordial behavior in the godswood last night.

Traveled to the Wall for this bastard and he still does not trust me.

“What happened to your queen’s beast?” Sandor asked.

“The dragons went past the Wall while hunting and Viserion’s wing was struck with a blade of...ice,” Jon looked towards Bran and brooded. “Bran saw it but he has confirmed that the Others have not moved past the Wall. Daenerys’ dragons are ready now; we will ride, burn as much of the dead as we can to the ground, and return to Winterfell. Should any remain, we will continue to make rounds until they are destroyed. If they cannot make passage through the Wall, we might escape having to battle at Winterfell entirely,” Jon explained with feigned confidence.

That can’t be true. If the dead cunts are killed by Jon and his queen today, why the fuck did Beric and Thoros see me fighting at Winterfell?

“When this war is finished,” Jon continued, “ you will lead the Northmen to King’s Landing for the next war,” Jon informed him. Sandor chuckled scornfully, enraged at the bastard giving him orders.

“I believe that is up for me to decide, not for you to demand,” Sandor corrected him. “I am the Lord of Winterfell.”

Jon had to lift his head to face Sandor as he towered over him, giving him a mistrustful glare. “I have promised Daenerys our forces in her war if she assists us in ours,” he raised his voice. “Sansa would never dishonor House Stark by failing to repay that debt. Remember, you may now be their Lord, but these men fight for her , not you. News of your marriage has already resulted in demands for an annulment and the day has just bloody begun,” Jon sighed and attempted to regain composure. “But some have come around,” he eyed Sandor cautiously. “Do not make me rue the day I let you marry my sister. The threat still remains, if you ever harm her in any way, I will take you into that yard myself and cut your head off.”

Sandor grinned sardonically and pushed past the boy, nearly knocking him over. “Good luck today, Snow.”

 


 

“Brother!” Thoros shouted as he approached them in the practice yard. “Or should I say, my Lord,” he laughed and took a swig of his wine.

“You should say, ‘let me take a look in one of my bloody fires and see if my fancy fucking Lord of Light has any grim news to bear me’,” Sandor rasped.

“What is it?” Beric interrupted, sheathing his sword after he bested a Winterfell lad in the yard.

“A dream,” Sandor sighed. His demeanor slowly transitioned from irate to desperate. “I saw Sansa, she was…” he could not bear to finish the thought.

“The Lord of Light shows us what he wants us to know,” Beric explained, Thoros nodding in agreement. “We are not all-knowing. We do not know why we have seen you or Sansa in the flames, but it would appear that you have a bigger part to play in what is to come.”

“Did you not tell me that same shite when we headed to Winterfell?” Sandor gruffed.

“I tell you because you seem to forget,” he defended. “I looked in the flames this morning, as I do every morning and every night, and I have not seen anything of Sansa, neither has Thoros. If we caught a glimpse of her safety being threatened, we would not keep that from you,” Beric assured him. 

“My Lady,” Thoros greeted with a friendly smile. Sandor turned around and spotted his wife approaching them in the yard, her face still and her eyes full of irritability.

Gods, she is even more beautiful when she is shooting daggers at me with her eyes.

“Hello Thoros, Lord Beric,” she greeted them kindly. Sansa shifted her glance to look at Sandor. She was without a doubt upset at him for rushing out of their bedchambers this morning after waking from his terrifying dream and running to discuss it with her brother.

I can’t tell the little bird why I had to leave. I will not cause her to stress over this bloody dream.

“Jon and Daenerys are leaving,” she said. “We should see them off.” She began walking towards the entrance without another word. Sandor noticed that her temper had become much more volatile since becoming with child. 

Aye, that’s my seed in there, filling her with a fiery temper much like the one of the man who put it there.

Sandor would have laughed at her short-temper had it not been for the dream on his mind. He followed behind her, out the gates of Winterfell to watch as Jon, Daenerys and her three dragons took off to go beyond the Wall.

 


 

As the sun set in the West, the riders had returned, but with only two dragons.

“You are leaving,” he muttered to Sansa after their private meeting with the Dragon Queen and Jon Snow. Sandor left the solar with a fast pace and departed out into the yard, making way towards the Great Hall to present the news to the other lords and men in Winterfell.

“Excuse me?” Sansa pulled on his arm to stop him.

“You heard me, little bird. You need to leave. I want Arya with you and no less than fifty men to escort you out of Winterfell. And I want you to take that wolf of Jon’s.” As he turned back towards the Great Hall, Sansa did not follow. When he looked over his shoulder, he saw her with her arms crossed, waiting for him to return to her.

Gods, this little bird and her bloody temper. 

“I am the Lady of Winterfell and I will not abandon Winterfell on the brink of war!” she raised her voice, grabbing the attention of those nearby in the yard. Sandor grabbed her shoulders gently and leaned into her, speaking in a whisper.

“You must leave. You heard what your Three-Eyed Raven of a brother said. Those dead cunts are going to raise that dragon’s corpse and use it as a tool to get past the Wall. I will not have you here, pregnant with my child, to be attacked by dead men with a dead fucking dragon.”

I can’t have her near, not after that gods forsaken dream.

“So you will have me go where exactly? South where there awaits yet another army?” she fought back.

She does not understand, she doesn't know what I saw last night. Her face pale and her eyes blue, burning like ice.

“The Riverlands...I do not know, just away from here. That is the end of this discussion, little bird,” he released her shoulders from his grasp. 

Does she not realize that sending her away is more painful for me than it is for her? She doesn’t know why I must do it. She can’t know why.

“How dare you think that you can order me to--” Sansa began before Sandor lost his temper.

“You are my bloody wife and you will do as I tell you!” he shouted. The yard became eerily quiet, followed by whispers from those who witnessed his lashing out. 

Sandor had never felt so disgusted with himself as he did in that moment. Remorse overwhelmed him as Sansa’s demeanor transitioned from angry to humiliated, wounded by his words. Though her face was still, as she was crafty at manipulating her emotions publicly, he could see the pain in her eyes.

This is why none of the Northerners wanted her to marry me. No one wanted her to be disrespected, abused by a man who they can only see as the savage Hound. And here I am, proving them right.

“Sansa,” he began softly, taking her hands into his. She pulled away and turned in the opposite direction towards the main tower. Sandor sighed, despising himself for taking his stress out on her. None of this was her fault and he hated how he could not tell her why he was acting like this, anxious and scared.

Fire and the fear of losing her, the only two things that have ever scared me shitless.

Sandor wiped his face with his hand, feeling like the worst shit alive, and turned once more towards the Great Hall. Looking down on him from the ramparts stood Jon Snow, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword, fuming with anger.

Chapter Text

A couple of hours passed before Sandor returned to the Lord’s bedchamber. His face was long, sorrowful, and looked as if he were in physical pain. 

Sansa sat up from the bed, observing his body from head to toe, looking for a sign of injury or blood. But there was nothing there other than a physical display of his regret. Once Sansa confirmed he was not injured, she laid back down onto the bed and turned over onto her side, facing the stone wall.

How am I supposed to remain upset with him when he looks like that? But I cannot simply ignore what he said to me. Like a misbehaved child, he needs to learn his lesson. I am the Lady of Winterfell.

“Little bird,” he sat on the opposite side of the bed. Sansa did not respond and instead pulled the furs up over her. “Sansa,” he sighed. “Forgive me,” he said miserably. A moment passed with nothing but the sounds of the coals in the brazier crackling. Sansa stared at the wall and wondered what her mother would do if her father had ever done such a thing to her. Sansa was not a naive little girl to think that husbands and wives never fought, but to disrespect her publicly was entirely different.

He fathered a bastard after they were wed and yet my mother seemed to forgive him. How can I not forgive Sandor for a gruff tone and angry words?

“Sometimes I wonder if the Hound didn’t die on the Quiet Isle,” he interrupted her thoughts. “Killing is not the same for me. That much I know. But the rage, the anger...I have been hateful all my life. I have been harsh, cruel, ill-mannered all my life. I thought if I repented for my sins, killed the Hound, I would become a different person. I used to be a killer, a cruel killer, now I am only cruel,” he paused to take in a deep breath. Sansa wanted to interrupt him, console him, tell him he was not the Hound anymore, but she held back.

Until she heard the sound of him crying.

Sansa sat up abruptly and wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders, her breast pressed against his back. “Sandor,” she whispered. “It is all right. It is all right,” she assured him. The sound of him weeping shattered her heart; her pride was not worth teaching him a lesson when he clearly already learned from it. 

Have I not made mistakes of my own? she thought. 

Sandor turned around and grabbed her face into his hands, tears staining both sides of his face. “I had a dream, Sansa. A horrifying dream.” His eyes bored into hers, causing Sansa to become apprehensive. 

“What?” she asked, “what was it?”

“You,” he paused, dropping his head down onto her shoulder. She felt his tears soak into the sleeve of her robe. His hand traveled from her face to the swell in her stomach and tenderly caressed it. “I can’t lose you, or her. I can’t,” he sobbed. 

Sansa lifted his head off her shoulder and wiped the tears away with her fingers. “You won’t,” she whispered. “It was a dream, Sandor. It was only a dream.” Sansa had her own share of horrible dreams over the years: her father’s beheading, Joffrey torturing her, Littlefinger raping her. She understood better than anyone what that could do to a person.

And I understand why he acted the way he did in the yard, though it was not right. I understand all too well. He is scared.

“Look at me,” she said. “You are not the Hound. You are a good man. You are my husband,” a tear slid down her cheek. “No matter what, I am not leaving you. Whatever you saw, it was only a dream.” 

“They have a dragon, Sansa,” he groaned. “If they win--” Sansa put a finger over his lips.

“We won’t let them win. I will not abandon you, my Northmen, or my family,” she grabbed his hand and squeezed it tightly in her lap. “You are not just my husband and I am not just your wife. We are a team. No more secrets. No more disrespect. You need to confide in me and I promise to do the same for you.” Sansa could tell her words were bringing him comfort; he was no longer crying and he held onto her hands gently. 

“Gods, I love you, little bird,” he sighed, pulling her towards him to kiss her. She placed a hand over his mouth before his lips could touch hers. 

“No more disrespect,” she demanded. “Ever.”

“I swear it by all the old gods and new gods,” he muttered, pulling her hand away from his face. 

“You don’t believe in any of the gods,” she said. 

“I will believe in every last bloody one of them for you,” he whispered, pressing his lips onto hers. Sansa returned his embrace and let him press her body onto the bed underneath him. His hand traveled underneath her robe and noticed she was not wearing smallclothes, grunting at the touch of her bare sex on his fingers. His mouth left hers as he slid off the bed, resting his knees on the floor. He grabbed her thighs and pulled her ass to the edge of the bed as she laid on her back. Her head fell back against the furs at the sensation of his mouth meeting her sex. He grunted at the taste of her and eagerly licked up and down her folds. Sansa placed her fingers through his hair, tormented by the sensitivity of his tongue grazing her. His right hand traveled up to her breast and pulled it out from her robe. Since becoming with child, every touch seemed to feel more profound than before. He rubbed her bare nipple between his fingers and she could not hold herself back from peaking. Her thighs began to clench together until he used both of his hands to keep them apart, licking her wetness throughout the duration of her climax. She whimpered, moaned, and cried from the pleasure it brought her. It was not until he climbed back onto the bed and brought her in his arms did she become silent, drifting off to sleep.

 


 

Sansa awoke suddenly from the touch of a cold hand on her bare shoulder from where Sandor had pulled down her robe. When she opened her eyes, it was Arya who stood beside the bed.

“What are you doing?” Sansa whispered. Sandor managed to stay asleep, lightly snoring, despite her sister’s entrance. 

“Bran,” she sat on the bed beside Sansa. “He was right. That dead dragon is one of them now,” she sighed. 

“He saw it? Are they still beyond the Wall?” Sansa asked anxiously.

Sandor startled awake at the sound of them talking. He groaned once he saw Arya in the bed with them and rubbed at his eyes. “Seven Hells, why are you here?” he asked groggy.

Arya frowned at Sandor before shifting her gaze to meet Sansa’s eyes. “The Wall is gone.”

Chapter Text

Chaos ensued the following morning.

“A month,” Bran whispered inside the Great Hall. The audience clamored, each individual louder than the next begging for their questions to be heard. Sansa could not focus on any particular person; it was a cacophony of fear, anger, and desperation.

The dead march south and all we can do is go mad.

“Lady Stark!” shouted Lyanna Mormont. The hall grew silent for the feisty, young girl as she stepped forward towards the dais.  “Why were the heads of the Northern houses not consulted about taking these dragons north of the Wall? The Others could not march past and they posed no immediate threat! Now your decision has officially begun the war!” Several in the audience began tossing out their own complaints, pounding against the trestle tables in agreement.

“My Lady,” Jon began sullenly. “Lady Stark only granted the request, but it was my proposal. The Others would have found a way past the Wall given enough time. By taking the dragons beyond the Wall, we were able to destroy a significant portion of their army.”

“One hundred thousand dead men that cannot pass a Wall is preferred over sixty thousand dead men who can with a dead dragon in their company!” Lyanna cried out. The audience in the hall erupted again and Sansa could feel Sandor tensing up beside her. 

Gods, do not lose your temper now. 

“All right, quiet, the lot of you!” Sandor roared. Though the hall became quiet, Sansa noticed a few of the Northmen spit on the ground at Sandor’s request. “Did you think we were hosting Dothraki screamers, an army of Unsullied, and every remaining Northern soldier for a bloody tourney? They came for a war! You came for a war! And we have another war in the south! How long did you expect to sit here on your arses and not fight?” he shouted. Sansa had to cover her mouth with the back of her hand to hide the faint smile that came upon her lips. 

“If it is a war we shall have, I will hear it from the Lady then! I swore my allegiance to Lady Sansa Stark, a true, noble northern Lady, the blood of the first men in her veins, not to the dead boy king’s dog!” spat Wylis Manderly. 

Sansa’s smile quickly faded and she stood quckly from her chair, having had enough of the disrespect towards her husband. “Lord Manderly, you are speaking to your Lord Paramount. He is no longer a Clegane but a Stark, and he sits where my father once did. You would do well to treat him with the same respect,” Sansa reprimanded.

“Ned Stark, rest his poor soul,” Wylis shook his head. “A most honorable man replaced by one of the least. First Petyr Baelish and now a bloody Clegane,” he sighed.

Sansa clenched her fists on the table and nearly dismissed Wylis Manderly from the hall until Sandor placed his hand on top of hers. His touch was the only thing to remind her to keep her composure. As she sat back in her chair, Sandor leaned forward, glaring at the fat lord. 

“You can keep your respect. I need men, swords, arrows, fucking armor. Every man in this castle will prepare from dawn to dusk whether that is working in the armory, dueling in the practice yard, or fortifying the walls. One month, that’s all the lot of you get. It doesn’t mean spit to me if you find me honorable but you will do as you are ordered,” Sandor rasped. 

Lord Manderly began to speak up defiantly until one of the Winterfell soldiers stepped forward. “Lord Manderly, I spent two months with Lord Stark traveling to and from the Wall. You must not let his reputation precede him. Unless you mean to imply that Lady Stark is incapable of choosing a proper husband?” he asked as several whispers stirred throughout the hall. Sansa watched as Wylis Manderly became flustered at the man’s insinuation. 

“How dare you! I would never ques--”

“Or perhaps you would have preferred that monster Petyr Baelish to remain your lord?” the man added, causing Lord Wylis’ face to flush red.

“Absolutely not! Petyr Baelish will burn in all seven hells for what he did to Lady Stark!” he defended himself. 

“Then I would suggest you respect the Lord and Lady of House Stark.” The man nodded at her and Sandor before returning to sit at the trestle table. Wylis stood with his mouth gaped open as others snickered in the audience. 

“Lord Manderly, please sit,” Sansa ordered. “Winter is here. The dead march south. We will defend our lands, our homes. Your men will join Daenerys’ forces and destroy those who mean to kill your children and add them to their army. If any man or woman would like to defy the orders of your Lord and Lady, speak up now.” Sansa stared at every face in the in the Great Hall and saw the effect of her words. They respect me, she thought. Not one objection was raised amongst the audience. 

“Prepare your men, ready your armor, do every bloody thing you can do. Any man seen lingering about will be thrown over the walls and left to fight for the other side,” Sandor stood, the audience following suit and exiting the hall. He offered Sansa his hand to pull her up before making his way towards Jon on the dais.

Daenerys arose from her chair and Sansa could scarcely stand to look at the grief on her face. The whites of her eyes were red, swollen from crying. But there was also a coldness, an anger in her that Sansa had not seen before.

She lost a dragon. They are her children. What would I do if I lost my child? Sansa shuddered at the thought and placed her hand gently over the swell in her belly.

“Lady Stark, would you care to take a walk?” Daenerys offered unenthusiastically. Sansa felt Sandor’s hand tighten around her own but ignored the subtle gesture for her to deny the offer.

“Of course.” Sansa stood on her toes to give Sandor a kiss, sensing his uneasiness as she followed Daenerys outside of the Great Hall. The courtyard was packed full and the sounds coming from the armory and practice yard were overwhelming. Sansa gestured for Daenerys to follow her towards the godswood, escaping the sounds that came with preparing for war.

They walked in silence until the two stood in front of the weirwood tree. Daenerys studied the face engraved in the bark as if it had been the first time she had seen it. 

“How is the child?” Daenerys asked, placing her hands on Sansa’s belly.

Sansa looked down at her hands and began to feel apprehensive. “She feels bigger everyday,” she said. “Most of my sickness has subsided.”

“Good,” Daenerys feigned a smile. “When I come into my throne, can I count on the North to bend the knee?” Daenerys asked as she continued to caress the fabric of Sansa’s dress. 

The thought of bending the knee was not a pleasant one; Sansa wanted nothing more than for the North to become an independent kingdom. That would make me a queen, Sansa thought. And Sandor a king. However, if Sansa refused to bend the knee, Daenerys could take her armies, dragons, and all of her resources and leave the North to battle the Others alone. If that were to happen, all hope would be lost.

“Your aid in this war will win over many of the Northmen,” Sansa said. It was not entirely a lie. Many would learn to respect her if her dragons and armies kept them alive during the Long Night. 

But will they respect her more than me? Or will my men declare that I become Queen in the North?

“You are a powerful woman, Lady Sansa. That man, Petyr Baelish, said so right before being executed. I assume there are many others who share the belief that you are capable to rule over the North,” she expressed, continuing to rub the spot where Sansa’s child grew. “However, during my reign, the North will not be permitted to become an independent kingdom. You and your husband must bend the knee,” Daenerys’ swollen lilac eyes met Sansa’s.

“The North will help you win the throne. You might consider granting us our independence for many of my men will die for you to reign.” Daenerys’ face became still, her hands pressing firmer into Sansa’s belly.

“Your men will help me win the throne because I will help the North win against these dead men that come after you,” Daenerys replied unkindly.

“Every living man and woman should be on our side. It is not us you should fight for but the realm you wish to rule. If Cersei Lannister had any honor she would be here, fighting for the living, even if that means becoming our ally.” Sansa did not realize how combative her tone had become until she finished speaking. Daenerys did not respond, but instead smiled, returning her gaze back to Sansa’s belly.

“When I claim the throne which is my birthright, I will legitimze your brother. He will then become Jon Stark, eldest surviving son of Eddard Stark. I may not have been raised in Westeros, but I am familiar with custom. I believe that would make Jon’s claim better than your own, the proper Lord of Winterfell,” Daenerys said in a hushed voice.

“My husband is the Lord of Winterfell,” Sansa defended, pulling herself away from Daenerys’ touch.

“Until he is not. Valar morghulis.” Daenerys whispered before departing the godswood. 

Chapter Text

“The dragon bitch will have you killed,” Arya stormed into the Lord’s bedchambers as Sandor was bathing.

“What the seven fucking hells do you think you are doing?” he roared. “Get out of here!”

“I heard her,” she ignored him. “I did not like Sansa going into the godswood alone with her, so I followed them. Apparently, if you and Sansa do not bend the knee she will have you killed, legitimize Jon as a Stark, and make him the Lord of Winterfell,” she informed him, making her way towards the window. 

“You think I am afraid of that little twat?” he scoffed.

“She has dragons who breathe fire. I think you should be afraid,” she turned over her shoulder and sneered at him. 

Sandor could not help but shudder at the thought of dragonfire. He threw his head back against the tub and closed his eyes. “I’ll bend the knee. I don’t give two shits who sits on that bloody throne.”

“My sister won’t,” she challenged. “And she shouldn’t. The North was independent for thousands of years. Sansa will not like it if you bend the knee so easily.”

“I don’t expect her to. I don’t expect her to want her loving husband burned to the ground either,” Sandor added defensively.

“The rest of us wouldn’t mind,” she muttered. 

“You are a funny girl, aren’t you? All these years and you still hate me for killing that butcher’s boy. You left me for dead, girl. If anything, I should hate you,” he scoffed.

“You do hate me,” Arya said. Sandor only grunted in response. “What happened with Jon?” she asked, changing the subject. 

“When?” 

“I saw the two of you after you yelled at my sister yesterday in front of the whole castle,” she quipped.

“How is it that you manage to be in every fucking place at once?” he groaned. “Your bastard brother formally introduced me to his wolf. Said a few words. Said a few threats. He didn’t need to. Seeing your sister’s reaction after I lashed out at her was worse than that wolf snarling in my face,” Sandor sighed. 

“My direwolf would have torn you to pieces by now,” he could hear the humor in her tone. 

“Hush up, girl. I have enough on my mind without you going on about this shite,” he sighed. 

“Gendry,” Arya whispered out the window.

“What the fuck is a Gendry?”

“An old friend,” she answered quietly, heading towards the door.

“A boy, is it?” Sandor lifted his head and gave Arya a suspicious look. “Let me meet this Gendry that you are so eager to reunite with,” he ordered.

“Who are you, my father?” Arya grimaced at him before departing the chambers, slamming the door behind her.

“Might as bloody well be.”

 


 

“Why did no one notify me about these new arrivals?” Sandor rasped at the men standing guard beside the gates. 

“We notified Lady Stark, my Lord,” one quivered. “She said she would handle it.”

Oh, little bird. What are you getting up to now?

“Where did she go?” Sandor asked gruffly. 

“The solar...Jon Snow’s solar, my lord,” the guard answered.

My little wife did not want to speak with these newcomers in our solar. And for what reason could that be?

Sandor strode quickly throughout the castle towards Jon’s solar. On the way, he spotted Jon and Daenerys speaking with Jaime Lannister in the ramparts; a bad conversation by the look of it. Sandor dreaded to think of who else came with the Kingslayer. When he pushed open the door to the solar, he saw Sansa laughing with the Imp, Tyrion Lannister. 

“If it isn’t the man himself!” Tyrion greeted him with a wide grin. “I never thought I would see the day, Clegane, or Stark, rather. A husband and soon to be a father. Winter certainly has come,” he chuckled, taking a sip of his wine.

Sandor rushed towards the dwarf. “What business do you have with my wife?” he snarled. Tyrion studied Sandor’s face and then Sansa’s, squinting his eyes as if deep in thought.

“Technically speaking, Sansa was still my wife when you married her,” he japed. 

Sandor reached for the dagger at his hip before Sansa grabbed his arm. “Sandor, enough.” 

“Yes, Sandor,” Tyrion mocked. “I heard the dog in you has died. Let’s not bring that one back from the dead. We have enough of them marching our way as it is.”

Gods, how did this one survive the Battle of the Blackwater? 

“Tyrion is Daenerys’ hand,” Sansa informed him. “He has arrived with others who have come to fight alongside us in the wars to come.”

Sandor pulled up a chair to sit beside her, glaring at Tyrion. “Aye, I saw that one-handed brother of yours. Why didn’t you arrive with your queen's forces?” Sandor interrogated. 

“An effort was made on my behalf to convince Cersei to join her forces with ours and secure a victory against the Others. However, she remains relentlessly unconvinced. Myself and the others made our way here afterwards once Cersei was kind enough to not take my head off right there. I suppose I should thank her for that should we live,” Tyrion eyed Sansa and gave her an apologetic look. “My lady, forgive me. I should not mock defeat. We will win, and you and your child will live long, happy lives. War has managed to darken my humor more than I believed to be possible,” he smiled.

“All right, Imp. Go on and explain what you needed to speak with my wife about that couldn’t have been said to me,” Sandor rasped. 

“I asked for him to speak with me, Sandor. Daenerys...she wants us to bend the knee. I thought by speaking with Tyrion, her hand, he could manage to convince her to allow the north to become an independent kingdom after the wars,” Sansa whispered.

“Sansa,” he sighed, remembering what Arya had told him about Daenerys’ threat. “Is becoming an independent kingdom worth fighting another war for?”

“No, but Tyrion is clever,” she began. Sandor scoffed at the statement but she paid no attention to it. “He might be able to persuade her. If not, I will have no choice but to bend the knee, no matter how much my men despise me for it.” She did not mention the threat, but she didn’t need to. 

I told the wolf bitch right. Sansa might want the north to be independent, but not over my life . And gods, how I love her for that.

“I will try, my Lady,” Tyrion nodded. “Might I have a moment alone with your husband?” he asked kindly.

Sansa turned to Sandor and gave him a cautionary look. She thinks I’ll hurt the dwarf. He leaned into her ear and spoke the gentlest whisper he could manage. “Keep looking at me like that, pretty little bird, and I will toss this dwarf out of the window and take you right here on your brother’s desk.” Sandor noticed Tyrion shift uncomfortably in his seat at the audible whisper. 

She gave Sandor an alluring smile before leaning in to kiss him. “Be nice,” she whispered. “Thank you for meeting with me, Tyrion,” she said as she stood from her chair, making her way out of the solar. 

“The chaotic Hound and the beautiful Sansa Stark,” Tyrion began once the two were alone. “It is almost as poetic as the Bear and the Maiden Fair,” Tyrion chuckled.

Sandor walked towards the bastard’s solar door and latched it, standing beside the door with his arms crossed.

“Well this does not appear to be a promising conversation,” Tyrion took a sip of his wine. 

“Go on Imp, what did you need to speak with me about?” Sandor asked gruffly.

“First, what precisely happened with Lord Baelish?” Tyrion implored.

Sandor scoffed and spat on the floor. “Don’t speak that bastard's name around me. He got what he deserved, and I am the one who gave it to him. He should have gotten it a long time ago.” 

“We heard...reports. I deeply sympathize with Lady Sansa and what it is said he did to her. My sister,” Tyrion cleared his throat. “She has made new friends, it appears.”

“And who might these friends be?” he asked impatiently.

“Lord Hardyng has no love for the north it would seem,” Tyrion eyed Sandor.

Seven fucking hells, I should have let Nestor Royce kill that blonde cunt.

“When I spoke with Cersei regarding a temporary truce, she received a raven from the young lord. He gave quite the detailed account on what has been happening here in Winterfell. To say that he is offended would be a gross understatement,” he took a sip of his wine. “Apparently he wants a dog put down for shitting in his bedchamber. And by that, I mean for you fucking his betrothed. He is so wounded by your act, that he has promised his Knights of the Vale to defend King’s Landing in return for your head. He is almost as foolishly proud as Joffrey,” Tyrion sighed. 

“That little shit would put his men in the middle of a war because I took Sansa’s maidenhead? I saved that boy’s life!” Sandor boomed.

“For many, the principle of it is far more important than the act itself. He would have married Sansa Stark, a maiden, and would have had rule in the north in addition to rule in the Eyrie. You took that from him. Songs have already begun to be sung about a naive little boy losing his wolf pup to a savage dog. The longer he is ridiculed for it, the more adamant he becomes on getting justice, or revenge, rather. However, because he is too craven to return to Winterfell himself, Cersei has agreed to take the brunt of the force to put down the bad dog in exchange for Lord Hardyng’s support in the next war, that is, if the dead don’t do the deed first.”

“And how does your bitch of a sister plan to do that?” Sandor fumed.

“A group of volunteers, all so eager to kill the Hound, have been permitted to depart from King’s Landing in pursuit of your head,” he pointed at Sandor. 

“A group of bloody volunteers against me and my army? What threat to me is that?”

“A group of volunteers,” Tyrion mumbled, “and your brother.”

 

Chapter Text

Sandor stood upon the battlements of Winterfell facing south, supporting his weight by leaning against the merlon beside him. The hour was late, the snow was falling, and Sansa had not seen him at supper, nor in their bedchambers afterwards. Becoming apprehensive at his absence, Sansa departed their chambers and began to seek him out.

When she approached the main gates of Wintefell, a guard spotted her. After greeting her, he pointed to the top of the battlements. It was there she saw her husband unmoving, staring out into the darkness.

He is watching for something, but he faces south, not north. What is he waiting to see if not the Others?

Sansa made way for the stairs to meet him but as she ascended, he did not seem to notice her approach. He looks like a proper Lord of Winterfell, she thought. Brooding over this castle the way he is.

“Sandor, what are you doing up here?” Sansa asked uneasily.

“Waiting...thinking,” he muttered. The clouds above were heavy, blocking most of the moonlight, leaving the castle eerily dark. Sansa could not make out the expression on his face in the near pitch blackness, but the tone in his voice was tense. 

“Why are you facing south?” she walked up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist.

“The Dothraki and Unsullied have moved camp to Winterfell’s north wall. From here, it’s just this wall between us and King’s Landing,” Sandor sighed heavily. She looked out into the darkness and saw nothing; no flames, no men, just the vastness of the land that traveled south. Sansa turned her head to the sound of footsteps approaching on the battlements, observing a Winterfell guard making his rounds, greeting the lord and lady as he passed.

“What are you waiting for that is between here and King’s Landing?” she wondered, savoring the scent of him on his cloak.

“My brother,” he uttered quietly.

“What about him?” The thought of the Mountain immediately filled her with dread. 

“He is coming here. To kill me,” he said without moving. 

Sansa’s arms tensed around him, her heart beginning to race inside her chest. “I don’t understand, why? Who told you this?” Sansa dropped her arms to her side as he turned around to face her. Sandor placed his hands on her cheeks, lifting her face up to meet his. 

“That Imp husband of yours is the one who told me,” he muttered. Furious, Sansa swung her hand back in the air and slapped him across the face. 

“You are my husband, not him! You know my marriage to Tyrion was arranged by his father and you also know it was never consummated. Do not start acting like an envious brute,” she warned him. 

“Careful now,” he whispered, pulling her face closer to his. “You remember what happened in the godswood when you kept slapping me.” Sansa could see the desire for her in his eyes but instead of acting on it, he released her face and returned to watch beyond the southern wall. “That cunt Harry Hardyng has made a deal with Cersei. It’s my death for his knights and it is my bloody brother who leads them here.” 

Sansa’s breath caught in her throat. 

I should have seen this coming from such a proud, cruel fool. But we have armies, we have dragons...it would be impossible for Gregor to even touch Sandor. 

“We have thousands of men, Sandor. Not even your brother can withstand our forces,” she assured him, leaning against the snowy merlon beside him.

“And what would I look like, a lord, sending an army against one man?” he sighed. “No, it must be me. Me and him right out there,” he gestured towards the empty ground below them.

Sansa’s mouth gaped open at his words. The Mountain is said to not be a man any longer, but immortal, and impossibly strong...

“I thought revenge was only important to the Hound. And he is dead,” she reminded him, clenching her fists to her side. 

“It would not be for revenge, little bird,” he turned to face her with a grim look. “Do you think he would stop at having me killed? The only thing that bastard has enjoyed in his life is taking from others. Taking their women, taking their gold, taking their lives. That’s what he does. If he kills me, what do you think he would do if he got a hold of you? Rape you, kill you, kill our child? Kill to protect, that’s what the Elder Brother told me. Thoros and Beric said I have a greater purpose in this life. That greater purpose is you and my child that you carry, and I will fight for you and die if need be,” Sandor placed his hand on her cheek, caressing her skin, as pale as the snow falling down on them.

“Die? We have thousands of men and you would risk your life fighting your brother alone? Die and never live to see your child be born? Make me a widow? That’s what you consider fulfilling your greater purpose?” she asked him incredulously, pushing his hand off her cheek.

“It has to be me, girl. And it will be. Killing a few men with an army would be like killing a man as he sleeps. Even I have more honor than that. More pride. Your father would have understood that better than anyone.” Sandor turned away again to look past the crenel in the wall.

“You’re awful,” she said, tears welling in her eyes from exasperation. “Using honor to justify you wanting to kill your brother after all this time.”

He looked at her and Sansa recognized that his patience was at an end. “What plans was I making to kill that ugly cunt before I received word he was coming for me? That’s right, little bird. None. I made peace with knowing I would never be the one to kill him. But I will protect you, and that will mean that fucker needs to die,” he said bluntly. “Or maybe the big bastard will kill me and that dwarf will be able to consummate your marriage after all,” he goaded. Sansa swung her hand so hard at the scarred side of his face that she could feel the sting of the impact within her glove. Sandor’s lips twitched, turning into a lascivious smile.

“I was hoping you’d do that,” he whispered, pulling her into his arms and engulfing her neck with his mouth. 

“Stop it!” she yelled, her voice muffled in his shoulder.

Footsteps approached quickly as the same guard making his rounds upon the battlements appeared. The man stared at the couple with a look of horror painted on his face. Sandor peered over his shoulder at the man and scowled. “Fuck off for awhile,” he ordered. The man nodded with his mouth gaped open and ran down the battlements. Sandor returned to Sansa’s neck passionately, kissing, licking and gnawing on her skin. With every touch, Sansa felt her anger escaping from her body, replaced by the desire to have him inside her.

“Someone will see us up here,” she purred.

“If someone sees us,” he paused, pulling the fabric of her dress up, “then they will have to answer to me.” He kneeled, ripping her stockings and smallclothes off of her and slipped two fingers inside her sex as he stood. The cold surrounding her legs as she bundled the length of her dress into her arms was unbearable at first, but her blood pumped furiously at the sensation of his fingers stirring inside of her. Sansa’s back pressed against the merlon as she felt the heat inside her core escalate, no longer perceiving the bitterness of the air.

“Gods, I love how your cunt is always ready for me,” he whispered in her ear. Sandor removed his fingers from inside of her and pulled at the laces confining him. Once his length was out, he lifted her up into his arms, wrapping her legs around his hips. Sansa used her hand to reach down and guide his cock into her, the head of it radiating heat as it teased her entrance. He pushed her back gently against the merlon, thrusting himself inside of her in one motion. She moaned as he filled her, biting her teeth into his shoulder. Sandor grunted with every stroke, a sound alone that made Sansa want to peak. The thrill of him taking her on the battlements overwhelmed her, forcing her body to respond in ways she had never experienced.  

“I fucking love you,” she whimpered in his ear as he drove into her. The words provoked Sandor to growl fervently over her ear.

“That’s the sweetest little song you’ve ever given me,” he whispered over her lips before meeting his tongue with hers. Sandor squeezed her ass while thrusting into her against the cold merlon. Sansa wanted to rip her dress off right there and eliminate the bundle of fabric between them. She wanted to feel her bare breasts pressed against the coarse hair on his chest and watch his length moving in and out of her. Her erotic thoughts flooded her body with an incapacitating climax, causing her to moan loud enough for anyone who chanced to be in the yard to hear. He thrusted thrice more inside her before she felt his seed being spent, listening to the sounds of his guttural grunting and breathless curses. The finest sounds, she thought. 

As he placed her down onto the ground, Sansa could feel his seed slowly drip down her bare legs underneath her dress and onto the snow covered battlements. Her legs were exhausted from clenching around him that she could not maintain her balance, causing her to nearly fall on top of the crenel. Sandor’s arm reached out rapidly to balance her before he picked up her ripped stockings and smallclothes off the snow. As he handed the clothing to her, she gave him a kittenish smile. 

“I’d be wise not to wear these around you anymore,” she held up the torn fabric.

“Aye, and you won’t hear me complaining,” he muttered breathlessly, cradling her up into his arms as he did on their wedding night before descending from the battlements. 

Chapter Text

The days leading up to the battle became much the same.

Sansa spent her days conducting herself as the Lady of Winterfell while Sandor spent his time managing his lordly duties. With each passing day, Winterfell became stronger, her men better trained, their weapons better forged. The preparations taking place showed promise but Sansa continued to feel uneasy despite it all.

Bran saw the Mountain and his men nearby, but they stopped approaching. Why?

Sandor had posted several guards to walk the battlements of the castle to look out for the enemies to the north and south. When able, Bran provided additional help in notifying the council where the Others were as well as the Mountain and his men, but Bran had begun to have terrifying fits during his visions. Each time he would warg into his raven, it was harder for him to come back. He last saw the Mountain a half-day's ride from Winterfell, but informed them that they appeared to have stopped. 

The Mountain stopped. But not the Others. Bran said they will be here in a week. 

Every precaution was put into place to avoid a surprise attack from either side. However, none of it was enough to ease her stress. Extensive plans were put into place for when the Others arrived. The elderly, women, and children would be kept underneath in the crypts at the first sign of the dead on the horizon. The elected leaders of each army consulted with Sandor, Jon, and Daenerys regarding the proper formations that would take place. Her sister and a boy named Gendry, who clearly loved Arya, were in charge of distributing dragonglass over the course of the next week to every able man who could fight. Progress was being made, but Bran’s difficulty in warging filled Sansa with a sense of dread. And the Mountain….

I must have faith. I must. Else, I am lost.

Sansa attempted to make the most of every moment she had with Sandor. Whether that be eating in the Great Hall, talking in the godswood, making love wherever they dared to in the castle, she cherished all of it. However, it would only take one mention of the Others or the Mountain to ruin it all.

I must have faith.

Just one week away from battle, Sansa noticed a drastic change in Sandor’s demeanor as the time grew closer. He was unexpectedly less grumpy and it seemed that his committed attitude towards preparing for battle earned him much more respect from the Northmen. Sansa loved watching him have civil discussions with others who used to spit at his feet and curse his name. He was becoming a dutiful lord and even if not a traditional one, she could not have been more proud of him.

That day at dusk, Sansa prayed in the godswood beside Bran, and was interrupted by the sound of his breathing becoming erratic.

“Sansa,” he exhaled. “Sansa, go. Others. Mountain,” he whispered. Sansa stood up abruptly from the ground and grabbed his hands. 

“Bran, what do you see?” she asked with alarm. “What is it?” 

“Here. Now,” he whispered as soft as a weirwood leaf blowing in the wind. Bran’s head suddenly fell back against the chair, his mouth gaping open.

“Bran!” Sansa screamed. “Help! Someone, please!” she cried. “Bran, wake up. Bran!”

He did not respond but remained still, his limbs appearing lifeless and his breathing becoming shallow. 

“In here!” one voice shouted from outside the godswood.

“Lady Sansa?” another shouted.

“My brother, something is wrong!” she cried out. 

Through the trees near the entrance, Arya appeared alongside several Northmen. 

“What happened?” Arya ran towards her.

“I don’t know, I was praying and he started speaking. He said to go, that the Others are here, the Mountain...” Sansa tried to collect her thoughts. “Is there any word from the men along the walls?” she asked.

“No, my l--” one of the men began to answer, his response cut off by a penetrating sound like the Wall itself was cracking into a million pieces.

All at once, every one’s eyes met the darkening sky, and in it, a frozen dragon with eyes blue as sapphires. 

“Go!” one of the men roared at the others, grabbing Sansa’s arm and taking her through the trees. Sansa felt herself running in slow motion, peering behind her at another man pushing Bran in his chair and Arya running along beside them. 

“Sandor,” Sansa whispered, frozen in fear.

A line of blue flames swept across the middle of Winterfell, destroying the main tower in one blow. Sansa’s brain could not register what happened and the longer she stared the more disoriented she became.

“Seven hells!” the man holding her shouted, covering her body with his as debris came falling out of the sky. 

Winterfell was in disarray. The ice dragon swept towards the northern end wall of Winterfell and Sansa heard another blow of destruction followed by the piercing screaming of men and horses alike. 

The Dothraki, she thought. They are burning. 

“Sansa!” she heard a voice call out. A familiar voice. His voice.

“Sandor,” she muttered to herself. The realization he was near awakened her, pulling away from the guard sheltering her in pursuit of her husband. “Sandor!” she screamed, looking out across the yard, bodies running in every direction, screaming, shouting, crying.

Jumping down from the ramparts, Sandor landed a few paces away from her and ran to take her into his arms. He picked her up over his shoulder and yelled at the surrounding men. “Every man prepare yourselves! Help your women and children down into the crypts, now!” 

Sansa looked up into the sky as he carried her off and saw two shadows swim in the darkness, filling the sky with orange flames as they swarmed their frozen sibling. She lost sight of the battle in the sky as Sandor ran towards the crypts. She could only watch the chaos taking place, watch and listen.

“On the horizon!” one man shouted down from the battlements. “The dead are here! Get in formation!” 

Sansa could see Arya making her way outside of the gates, Needle in hand. The man pushing Bran was far behind them and Sansa hoped he would get her brother down to the crypts before it was too late. 

A week. Bran said it would be a week. How....

Inside the spiral stone steps leading down into the crypt, Sandor pushed aside all the others to get Sansa down into the furthest level. Once they entered, he placed her on the ground gently, kissing her deeply on the lips before standing up. 

“Sandor, wait!” she pulled his arm. “I love you,” she whispered. “I love you. Come back to me,” she pleaded, tears welling in her eyes. 

“I love you, little bird,” he kissed her lips again and stared into her eyes so deeply she nearly forgot the havoc happening above. “I will come back for you. I swear it. Do not leave this crypt,” he whispered in her ear before turning back towards the stairs.

As the elderly, women, and children filled the lowest level of the crypt, the sounds of crying, screaming, and wailing echoed above in the vaulted ceilings. Sansa took deep breaths, caressing the swell in her stomach, feeling the faintest of quickenings inside. This moment terrifies you, too, she thought.

Once the doors of the crypt were closed, Sansa looked around at the terrified faces surrounding her and remembered who she was.

I am the Lady of Winterfell. They look to me for comfort. I must be brave. I must have faith. Else, I am lost.

“Our men are well prepared,” Sansa began. “They will fight to protect us. Pray and have faith. Comfort one another. Do not give up on them up there. You must have faith,” she reminded them as much as she reminded herself. 

The crying slowly subsided, replaced by the whispers of synchronized group prayers. Sansa walked around, searching for Bran, but he was nowhere to be seen. Sansa made every effort not to panic as she kept walking and searching. As she approached the door that led to the stairwell, Varys appeared from behind a pillar. By the door, sounds of men dying could be heard coming from above. 

“My lady,” Varys greeted her, feigning calmness.

“Where is Bran?” she asked in distress.

“I have not seen the boy,” he answered sadly.

“How did this happen? Bran...he could see them. He said they were further away, he said...” she whispered. Varys took her hand into his and patted it, his hands as soft and delicate as hers.

“Strange things exist in this world, my lady. With the rebirth of dragons, magic has made its way back into our lives. This,” he gestured towards the door, listening for a moment to the sounds of screaming and screeching, “this is the work of magic,” he informed her. 

“What magic?” she stared at him with disbelief. 

“Only the Others know,” he whispered.

 


 

Hours passed as she sat beside the door, listening to every scream that came through it. Sansa  waited for Sandor to return, but the chaos above was constant, endless, infinite. As the others in the crypt prayed, all Sansa could do was watch them for a moment, wondering what had gone wrong.

I must have faith, or I am lost.

She bowed her head and began to pray to the old gods. She prayed for Arya, Jon, Bran, her men, and Sandor.

Please, keep my family safe. Please, keep my husband safe.

After another hour passed, the sound of ice shattering filled the air above the crypts followed by a hushed silence. Sansa held her breath, waiting to hear a sound outside the door but she could hear nothing. Only nothing.

Minutes passed and she looked at Varys who remained beside her. “I am going to check,” she whispered. “Something has happened, I need to see.”

“My lady,” he grabbed her hand. “You must not.” 

“I am the Lady of Winterfell,” she muttered. “I must.” She pulled her hand away and looked amongst the others in the crypt before slowly unlatching the door and pulling it open. “Latch it behind me, that is an order,” she told Varys sternly.

I must have faith, I am the Lady of Winterfell.

Sansa placed her feet down silently on the stone steps, each step more careful than the last. As she ascended, she could hear the faintest of noises but nothing distinct. Not dying, not screaming, not crying. She wondered what could have happened so suddenly and began to fear she would walk out from one crypt into another, a crypt above ground, surrounded by her men, her family, Sandor.

I must have faith. I must.

Sansa took in a deep breath before exiting out of the ironwood door of the crypt, the hinges making as piercing of a sound as the ice dragon had. 

As she looked out into the yard, the corpses appeared to be endless. She tripped over a leg as she walked out into this second crypt and she could hardly manage the strength to pick herself back up.

Faith. Have faith. I must.

Sansa slowly lifted herself up, shifting her gaze quickly over each body, each face, searching for her siblings, for Sandor. However, all she managed to see were the masses of dead Northmen, dead Dothraki, dead Unsullied. The main gates to the castle were opened wide and Sansa caught a glimpse of movement as someone made their way into the castle walls, the surrounding fire reflecting off their armor. He was too large, too monstrous, too immortal, and he saw her, standing amongst the piles of corpses, alone. 

The Mountain.

Chapter Text

“Get up, Clegane!” 

The bellow startled Sandor, causing him to cough up the ash that had made its way into his lungs. An arm reached out in front of him and pulled him up onto his feet. The lower half of his right leg was set aflame with pain as he shifted his weight onto it. He grimaced at the affliction, falling back down onto a corpse.

“He’s here, Clegane. Your brother. I saw him outside the walls.” Beric lifted Sandor’s arm over his shoulder to stabilize him. 

The Others might be dead, but the real monster is still out there.

“Get me a bloody sword!” he shouted, wrenching his arm free of the lightning lord. In an instant, Beric ripped a longsword from a corpse nearby and placed it into Sandor’s hand. It was at that moment the two men heard the petrifying scream, followed by the cackling of a man.

Sansa, he panicked. 

“Go!” he shouted to Beric as he sprinted towards the sound, ignoring the tormenting sting in his leg. With nearly every step, his feet landed on man, on steel, or on stone that erupted from the blue flames of the Others’ dragon. It was the darkest part of the night: the hour of the wolf; the disarray of torches and flames on the ground were their only asset in finding their way through the ruin.

Beric and Sandor turned the corner of the demolished main tower, facing the gates of Winterfell; in the ill-lit yard stood a thin man in armour, a knife stripping Sansa bare as she lay on her back. A few paces away stood the towering beast watching, allowing his man to enjoy the spoils.

“I’ve never fucked a pregnant whore before,” the thin man said, cackling. “So I will fuck you first, then I will cut that little bastard out of you.”

Sandor gripped the hilt of his sword with all his strength, lunging towards the giant mass of his brother. “Save my wife!” he yelled to Beric. 

The Mountain’s head turned slowly into Sandor’s direction, making no additional movement other than lifting his sword into the air with his right hand. Sandor gripped both hands onto the hilt of his longsword, swinging up towards his brother’s helm. The Mountain met his steel with his own, driving Sandor’s sword down into the ground. As Sandor went to pick up his weapon, a steel-plated foot kicked in Sandor’s stomach and knocked the breath from him, inducing him to cough up blood.

“No!” he heard Sansa wail as Gregor lifted his longsword above Sandor.

You can’t die now, he told himself. You need to kill this fucker. For her. Kill to protect.

Sandor rolled over abruptly, avoiding the steel that came slashing down into earth, sending snow and stones violently into the air. As he stood up, Sandor felt several of his ribs had been broken from the blow of Gregor’s foot. He clenched his jaw, gripping the hilt of his sword again and driving its point into the opening of the Mountain's armor between the chin and neck. Gregor’s helm fell into the hard-packed earth of fire, snow, and blood, and exposed the haunting face of Ser Gregor Clegane.

This ugly fucker is already dead. It’s not steel I need, but fire. Bloody fire. He needs to burn.

The Mountain forced his sword down to slash across Sandor’s legs, forcing him to take a painful pace back and then another, avoiding the longsword entirely. He could hear the sounds of steel meeting steel behind him as Beric fought with the man who meant to rape Sansa. Sandor wanted to go to her, to hold her, to take her away from this bloody hell, but he could not dream of doing so until the creature before him was eliminated.

“Brother!” Thoros shouted to Sandor, running into the castle from the main gates. He came up quickly behind the Mountain before the undead man could turn and shoved his dagger into Gregor’s left eye. He did nothing but grunt and grab Thoros by his cloak, dangling him into the air. Sandor began to swing his sword at Gregor’s head, but Thoros only shook his head solemnly.

“This,” Thoros began as the Mountain pulled out the dagger from his eye socket. “This is the vision, brother. This is the dead man you are meant to kill,” he whispered. The Mountain dropped Thoros onto the ground roughly and grabbed the top of his skull with his right hand. Gregor looked over his shoulder at Sandor and with one clench of his hand, crushed Thoros’ skull as if it were an egg. Sandor lost himself in his rage and felt himself becoming as savage and brutal as the Hound. He yelled gruffly and drove forward again, swinging his steel across his brother’s face, his bruised nose flying into the ground.

Sandor took a few paces back and watched as the beast continued to approach him, unfazed by the attacks on his eye and nose. Fire, it has to be fire. He will not die by steel.

“I've got her, Clegane!” Beric shouted.

“Take her! Get her away from here, now!” he commanded as he avoided another blow of the Mountain’s steel. 

“My sword!” Beric yelled. “Take the sword!” 

Sandor looked onto the ground where Beric threw his weapon, its steel engulfed in flames. 

It has to be fire. 

Sandor ran past his brother and tumbled into the ground, grunting at the impact on his broken leg and ribs. He reached and grabbed the hilt of Beric’s sword, the heat of the flames radiating into his grip. It felt to Sandor as if he held all the seven hells in his one hand. However, the fear of the roaring, hungry flames was nothing compared to the fear of failing and allowing this creature to get a hold of Sansa. 

“Come on you ugly fucker,” Sandor rasped, tightening his grip onto the searing sword. Gregor approached him slowly and lifted his longsword with both hands, driving it towards Sandor’s chest, only for the impact to be halted by the burning steel. Sandor broke free from the collision and pushed back, circling around the Mountain to find the best opportunity to attack.

With the faint beating sounds of dragon wings approaching, Gregor’s one eye shifted away just long enough for Sandor to lunge forward and shove the flaming steel into his face where his nose had been. At once, Gregor fell onto his knees, grasping at his face before his swollen head exploded like the ships had in the wildfire that night of the Blackwater. Sandor could not look away from the foul visual; instead of blood spilling, a black and green substance poured out from Gregor’s neck. The fire on Beric’s steel set the remaining mass engulfed in flames, bursting each section of his body at first touch. It was not until the dragons began to descend onto the ground beside him did Sandor shift his eyes away from the demise of Gregor Clegane.

On top of the black monstrous beast was the Dragon Queen. However, Jon Snow was no longer mounted on the smaller green-and-bronze dragon. Daenerys looked down at him grimly, towering above as her beast snarled at him.

“The first war is over, Sandor,” she shouted below. “Bend the knee. Right here, right now. I fought for the north and too many of my men died for you. You will now pledge your sword to me before the next war,” she ordered in a threatening manner.

Has she gone mad? Does she not see that my men died out here alongside hers? She really is paranoid, just like her cruel father.

“Aye,” he grunted in disgust. “I will bend the bloody knee.” He groaned as he dropped onto his left knee, glowering up at her.

She was silent for a while, contemplating, as Drogon began to produce fire in the back of his throat. Sandor nearly began to pray to Sansa’s old gods until Daenerys patted the monster’s black scales gently.

“Prepare for the next war, Lord Stark. It is now time to repay your debt,” she said in a warning manner, soaring off into the dawn.

 


 

“Where is she? Where is my wife?” he growled at the first man who approached him in the yard.

“My lord, she is on the first floor of the guest tower. Lord Beric told me to find you at once,” the surviving Northman uttered in fear.

Sandor quickly made way towards the guest tower, grunting with each step. Several of his ribs were fractured, his right leg was likely broken, and everywhere else, aches, cuts, and bruises were making themselves known. He observed the corpses that lay still on the earth and watched as those who had survived weeped, searched, and prayed for those who had fallen. As he approached the guest tower, Sandor reminisced on moments that had occurred only months ago. Him and his little bird darting across the yard, embracing one another on the steps, and making love in his small bedchamber. 

The brief joy he obtained from those memories quickly subsided as he entered the dimly lit tower. In the corridor, echoes rang from Sansa screaming in agony. Sandor sprinted in response, his right leg making a loud cracking sound as he charged forward. He fell on top of the door of the bedchamber where she lay, collapsing onto the floor as it swung open. The sight in front of him would haunt him for the rest of his days.

Sansa was situated on the bed naked, bleeding, sweating, and in severe distress. Beric was standing in front of her, his hands in between her thighs, covered in blood. His eye shifted to meet Sandor as he entered the room, panic-stricken.

“The child,” he breathed.

My dream, Sandor thought with horror as he crawled towards the bed. It is my dream, come to life.

Chapter Text

Starks do not last long in this world.

The last words of Petyr Baelish were ingrained in Sandor’s mind, tormenting him over and over again as if they were the only words he knew. 

Sandor laid beside the little bird on the bed, running his fingers through the thickness of her hair, as she slept from the milk of the poppy. 

The maester came too late. She felt it all, every bloody second of it. Milk of the poppy will not replace the blood. It will not replace our child.

The moment he entered the bedchamber had felt more surreal than his dream had, and for a moment he did not believe what he saw. He watched Sansa give birth to their child, screaming, weeping. Beric had been there to deliver the child, born months too early. He was a stillborn. He was a boy.

A boy, no larger than the size of my hand. 

Sandor could not do or say much of anything. He managed to crawl onto the bed upon entering the bedchamber, his right leg broken, his ribs shattered, and placed his face beside hers. Sandor kissed her cheek and whispered in her ear. 

“I’m here, little bird,” he breathed. “I’m here.” 

The maester came minutes after her delivery. His face was pale as milk as he rushed towards Sansa, weeping at the mere sight of her. Weeping, as he did in my dream, he thought. It was all too similar to that gods forsaken dream. Beric had placed their son on her bare breast, a child smaller than Sandor could believe. She sobbed, unable to speak or move, and slowly drifted into unconsciousness.

The maester’s weeping said it all: Sansa had lost too much blood, and though her lungs continued to fill with air, it would not be for much longer. Lying beside his dying wife and his dead son, Sandor muttered a real prayer for the first time in his life, praying to the old gods to allow him to die as well.

Starks do not last long in this world.

Upon placing several drops of the milk of the poppy into Sansa’s mouth, the maester departed alongside Beric, leaving Sandor alone with the only two souls he had ever loved. 

The only two I will ever love. And the only two who could have ever loved me.

He watched her chest, their late son resting on top, rising and falling slowly. The time between her exhales and inhales seemed to elongate with each breath, driving Sandor mad with apprehension.

Starks do not last long in this world.

The door opened slowly and between Sandor’s misery and the debilitating pain in his body, he did not bother to look at who entered. 

“Sandor,” a faint voice said. The door closed and footsteps creeped up closer. As they approached beside Sansa, he observed it was Arya who had come. She looked down at her sister, at the small bundle on her chest, and finally at Sandor, her own grief consuming her.

“Sansa,” Arya whispered, taking her sister’s pale hand into her own. “I am so sorry,” she began to weep. “I should have been there for you. I should have never left you.” The girl’s tears dripped onto the bed, soaking in the furs covering Sansa. 

“Don’t, girl,” Sandor managed to speak. “Don’t blame yourself,” he winced as he shifted to sit along the headboard. 

Arya took in a deep breath and placed two fingers on the infant’s tiny head, caressing his translucent skin. “Sandor, Cersei will die for this,” she whispered. “She has been on my list since the beginning, but for this…” she paused. “I will kill her slowly.” Arya leaned down, kissing her sister on the forehead. Before departing the bedchamber, Arya walked beside Sandor and placed her hand gently on his shoulder for a moment, saying nothing.

When she left, Sandor shut his eyes, grabbing one of Sansa’s hands into his own and listening carefully to her shallow breaths. A few moments passed before the door to the bedchamber opened again. This time Sandor opened his eyes, watching the visitant approach.

“Gods,” Jon gasped as he rushed to Sansa’s side. “Oh, Sansa.” He cupped her cheek with his hand, studying the child on her breast for movement despite knowing none would come. “What did the maester say?” his voice quivered.

“Lost too much blood,” Sandor muttered under his breath. “He gave her the milk of the poppy, to ease her…” he could not say it. 

To ease her suffering. To ease her suffering as she dies.

Before Jon could speak, the door opened a third time.

“Hello, Sandor.”

At the boy’s entrance, Sandor gave him a look of bewilderment. “How did you survive? I didn’t see you make it into the crypts.” 

“I was not here for most of the battle. When I returned, I was in the godswood,” he stared blankly at Sansa.

“What bloody happened?” Sandor felt his rage spark thinking of how Bran did not know that the Others had been so close.

“The Others had a King. The Night’s King. I am not the only one who has abilities beyond the comprehension of men,” he explained. “Magic…” he trailed off. “Magic is curious.”

“It is not Bran’s fault,” Jon defended. “We lost many good men, so did Daenerys. But the Night’s King and his army are all dead.”

“Jon killed the Night’s King. Jon is the prince that was promised,” Bran interrupted. “He pulled his valyrian steel longsword from the fire and struck the Night’s King, delivering the world from darkness. The Night’s King shattered, as did the rest. Gregor and his men arrived once they knew our defenses were preoccupied with the Others. All died, aside from your brother and the one who meant to rape Sansa. When you fought Gregor, her body went into shock, causing the child to be born prematurely.” The boy spoke softly, his eyes fixated on the child on his sister’s breast. 

“My abilities as the Three-Eyed Raven were obstructed the closer the Night’s King came to me. Now that he is no longer, I can see clearer...better,” his eyes shifted to Sandor. “This is not the child I saw Sansa bore. There will be another,” Bran said tediously.

“Another? Sansa will not live through the bloody night!” Sandor exclaimed in despair. 

“No,” Bran admitted. “First, she must die.”

 


 

After Jon and Bran’s visit, Sandor had forbidden any others from entering the bedchambers aside from the maester. The old man came by once more, though his efforts were futile. Sandor cursed him away when he came to inspect his own injuries. Let me die, old man, he thought. Before departing, the maester informed Sandor that Arya wanted a proper burial for her sister’s son. Parting with the small boy felt like another blow to the chest but Sandor did not fight the maester’s request. Instead, as the old man departed with the swaddled child, he placed his head on Sansa’s breast where his son had laid.

With his ear pressed against her skin, Sandor could hear the gentle thumping of her heart and the soothing sound of her lungs filling with air. The noises helped Sandor find sleep for the first time in two days. Hours went by before he awoke, the bedchamber darker, stiller, and quieter than before. It was then he realized that the sounds against his ear ceased.

“Sansa?”

He sat up abruptly, numb to the pain in his chest, and cradled her into his lap. Her head fell into the crease of his elbow, her arms to her sides, and her mouth gaped open. 

No, it’s a dream. It’s the same dream as before. She’s not, she can’t be…

“Sansa?” His hand traveled down her pale face, cold as a winter snow. “Little bird,” he said louder. “Wake up, girl,” his voice cracked as tears began to form. “Sansa! Sansa!”

Sandor’s hands shook violently, his heart dropping, and he found himself unable to breathe. The woman in his arms was still, lifeless, and colorless aside from her auburn hair spilling over her bare shoulder. As he held her in his arms, he wept, rocking her slowly as a mother would to an infant. 

Like you would have done to our son, he thought. Our small, dead son.

“Gods!” he shouted, dropping his face into her neck. The tears that fell down his cheeks burned, the aching in his chest was no longer from his fractured ribs but from a sensation like his heart was being torn out. He bawled, howled, and cursed, coming to the agonizing realization that his wife, his little bird, Sansa Stark, was gone.

Starks do not last long in this world.

Sandor stood from the bed, placing her down onto the furs and watched as her chest remained unmoving. In one motion, he turned and kicked at the table beside the bed, forcing several splinters to erupt. He then grabbed the chair and threw it against the floor with all his might, fracturing the same way his ribs had when Gregor kicked him. He swung his fist at the stone wall, breaking the skin on his knuckles open. He then meant to swing at the door but was interrupted when he saw the latch turn. 

The lightning lord did not speak but entered the bedchamber slowly, studying Sansa as she lay on the bed. Without giving Sandor a glance, he made his way towards her.

“Get the fuck away from her!” Sandor cried, lifting Sansa into his arms before Beric could place a hand on her.

“Put her down, Clegane.” Beric sat on the edge of the bed, gesturing for Sandor to place her onto the furs. 

“Why?” he gripped her tighter into his arms.

“Have you forgotten, friend? You killed me once, but I lived. Thoros brought me back, as he did many times,” he explained. Sandor recognized the grief in his voice as he thought of his late friend.

“Thoros was a bloody red priest, what are you other than a broken man who won’t stay dead?” Sandor saw that Beric was unaffected by the harshness of his words and did nothing but pat the furs.

“Put her down, brother,” he repeated calmly. 

Sandor looked at him with reluctance before placing her back onto the bed. Beric leaned towards her, cupping her face with both hands.

“The Lord of Light judged you innocent during your trial in that cave all those years ago,” he said as his eyes poured into Sansa’s still face. “He willed it for you to kill me, as he willed it for Thoros to bring me back. He willed it for us to see you in the flames, to see her,” his thumb brushed against her icy, porcelain cheek. “And now, he wills it for her to live,” Beric lifted his head towards Sandor. “Farewell, Clegane.”

Sandor stared at the lord unbelieving, watching as he leaned his face towards Sansa and placed his lips onto her mouth. Enraged at the sight, Sandor pushed Beric off of Sansa’s corpse. The lightning lord fell onto the ground with a thump, unmoving and silent. Sandor crawled back onto the bed, leaning over Sansa’s body, and waited for Beric to move or speak. Instead, he heard the sound of a sharp inhale come from beneath him.

Sandor’s eyes glanced down and there he saw the blue eyes watching him. 

Blue eyes. Sansa's eyes.

Chapter Text

The cool air inside the bedchamber hit her lungs with an intensity fiercer than the fists of Joffrey’s Kingsguard. 

Sansa opened her eyes in a panic, and before she could see, she remembered.

My child, the blood, the pain, Sandor…

Despite the flooding memories of agonizing pain, she no longer felt it, and when her vision focused on the figure towering above her, she saw it was Sandor, staring at her in bewilderment. 

Sandor. You lived. You told me to stay in the crypt, but I didn’t listen, and our child…

“Where is she?” Sansa’s voice was hoarse, her throat as dry as her cracked lips. Sandor looked at her as if she were a ghost. There was a brief moment of silence and stillness between husband and wife before he managed to move.

“Little bird,” he breathed out, placing a hand on her cheek. “Gods, you are--” he cried. Sansa lifted her hand to caress the scars on his face and noticed that he was covered in blood. 

You told me to stay in the crypt, if I had waited...

“Sandor, where is she?” she whispered. His face winced as he took in a deep breath.

“It was a boy, little bird. He...was too early.”

“A boy?” she asked as she sat up on the bed. Sandor moved his hand behind her to support her back before she observed Beric’s lifeless body on the ground. She gasped, covering her mouth with her hand that smelled of blood. 

“Easy, girl,” Sandor grunted as he shifted beside her. “You just gave birth, and the blood…”

“What happened? Why is Lord Beric dead? Where is our boy?” She surveyed the room for the child. Too early, he said. He was born too early. Sansa looked at Sandor before weeping into his chest that was still covered in armor. “What has happened, Sandor? I felt the pain, I remember all of it, but I have no physical pains of bearing a child,” she looked down between her legs and touched herself to find any indication that she had given birth but it felt as if it never happened. No blood, no soreness, not a trace of anything.

Sandor watched as she touched herself, as unbelieving of her healing as she was. “You were gone. You died right here underneath me. Beric, he gave his life for yours. But our son, he never lived...gods he was the smallest child I have ever seen,” he groaned, running his fingers through the length of her hair.

If I had stayed in the crypt…

“Oh,” she sobbed. None of it made sense to her. The more he spoke, the more disoriented she became. Beric was dead, her child dead, and Sandor... gods, he told me to stay in the crypt. I killed our son. As if he had heard her thoughts, Sandor brought her into his arms as he sat against the headboard and straddled her legs over his lap. She noticed him grunt when her weight shifted forward onto his chest. He lifted her chin with a bloody hand and placed a deep kiss onto her lips, the tears on their faces mingling together. The embrace made her breathless, but she pulled her away and shook her head. ”It’s my fault, Sandor. I left the crypt. I can’t remember why...I can’t remember what happened. All I remember is seeing you out there in the yard, coming here, and the pain…” she cried. 

“No, little bird. Gregor and his man were approaching the crypts when they found you. They knew you would be there. You can’t think like--”

Sandor grimaced again and Sansa noticed the frequency of his groans growing. He is hurting somewhere. Why has he not said anything? The confusion and grief she felt from losing her child, seeing Beric dead on the floor beside her, and learning that she herself had been dead had made her blind to Sandor’s own trauma.

“What is it?” she gasped, anxiously removing the remaining armor off his body. He grunted again deeply when she touched his chest. Upon lifting his tunic off of him, the sight underneath it made her ill. “Sandor, where’s the maester?” The bruising covered the majority of his torso and began to darken into a deep shade of purple.

“What can a maester do for broken ribs and a broken leg that I can’t do myself? I’ll be fine, girl,” he groaned.

“Your leg?” Sansa looked over her shoulder, peering down at the legs she sat on. She reached back and felt through the length of his trousers. His lower right leg was swollen, but she did not feel a bone sticking out. When she turned back around, she saw a fragileness in him that she had never seen before. “I’ll go. I’ll go get the maester,” before she could step off the bed, he grabbed her waist gently to sit her back onto his lap.

“Gods, look at you. You are really here,” his eyes inspected over her bare body. “You don’t feel the pain?”

“No,” she said. “I feel tired and like my thoughts are missing, but I am not hurting.”

I birthed a small child, bled out, and died. And yet I live, unhurt, while my son is dead and Sandor suffers. If I had stayed in the crypt...

“Get over here,” he pulled her into another kiss, grunting as her weight fell on top of him. Despite the pain she knew he felt, he chose to ignore it as he placed his tongue into her mouth. Sansa’s hands moved gently onto his shoulders and pushed, urging him to stop. He ignored that, too. “Seven fucking hells, I thought I lost you,” he breathed over her mouth before pushing his lips back onto hers.

“Sandor, stop,” she struggled to say. She pushed harder on him this time, making every effort to avoid the massive bruising on his torso. 

“Your heart stopped, you were so bloody cold. I held you in my arms and you were gone,” he grunted into her neck. His hands met her bare back and pulled her closer to him, squeezing her breasts against his broken chest. “I fucking love you.”

Sansa could feel his cock hardening from underneath her and began to push harder against his chest. “Stop it. This isn’t right,” she whimpered. “I need to get the maester, I need to see our son.” 

Neither the words nor the pushing seemed to reach him. She needed to see her child and to learn what happened at Winterfell: how the Others were defeated, where Bran, Arya, and Jon were if they managed to survive, how Sandor killed his brother...

Sansa’s thoughts were interrupted as he began to release himself from the confines of his trousers. She reached behind her to stop his hand but he pushed it away just as quickly. Something about this moment reminded her of a time long ago, back in a castle... where was it? Her memory failed her. The Red Keep, she recalled. He was in my room, he kissed me, he meant to have me. He had been scared, crying, why?  She tried to remember as Sandor moved his mouth to her breasts, resulting in her pushing away harder. It was the battle, the wildfire. They say he turned craven, and he came to me. He ran, turning his back against those he swore his sword to all because he thought he would die there. He was scared and confused, and he came to me. He wanted to have me. And is that not what he is now? Scared? Confused? Grieving? 

Her muscles began to exhaust from exerting her strength to push him away. In any other circumstance, she would never have denied him. But this was not right; his urgency was from wanting his fear, confusion, and pain to go away and she wanted to see her son, to get Sandor the care he needed, and to find her family. Once he began to lift her on top of his manhood, she could not contain herself.

“I said no!” she shouted at the top of her lungs. 

The hand on his manhood stilled with the head of his cock resting outside of her entrance. He removed his grasp slowly as his forehead rested between her breasts. At first she thought he was laughing, feeling his body spasm, but when she lifted his face into her hands, she saw that he was crying. 

“Go,” he grimaced. “Get yourself away from me.” He eased her off his lap and laid flat on his back with his eyes shut. For the first time, Sansa did not know what to say to him. A moment passed before she started towards the edge of the bed.

“I am going to the maester. You need to let him help you, please,” her voice broke. It was difficult for her to see Sandor in despair. She had seen him like this once before, disgusted with himself, the day he had disrespected her in the yard. More words came to her but she decided against voicing them.

Sansa crawled to the opposite edge of the bed where Beric did not lie. He died for me, she thought. And I will not let him have died in vain. When Sansa stepped onto the floor, she felt weak but the pain and blood that had been present in the childbed were gone, as if it had all been a terrible dream. She placed her hands on her bare stomach and the swell was gone. She wanted to mourn, but instead she gripped the skin on her belly so tightly with her fingers she drew blood.

My son would still be growing inside me if only I hadn’t left the crypt. If only I listened... 

Sansa found her dress beside the bed underneath wooden splinters from a broken chair, but it was sliced down the middle from the Mountain’s man who had cut it off of her. She turned towards the chest at the end of the bed and opened it. Whoever stayed in this guest chamber must have had a wife, daughter, or whore with them, for Sansa found a modest green woolen dress. It was much too loose on her and also too short, but it did not matter. She found a cloak inside as well, a man’s cloak that she had to bundle into her hand to keep herself from tripping. Lastly, she laced her boots that had managed to make it to the chambers in fair condition.

Upon dressing, Sansa turned towards the bed and saw that Sandor was watching her. His eyes were heavy and it had become apparent that his injuries were taking its toll. She walked beside him slowly and leaned down to place a kiss on his scars. “I love you,” she whispered.

 


 

“Gods be good,” a Northman bowed to her. “Lady Stark, we thought you were--”

“Show me to the maester,” she interrupted. Sansa had not even looked at the man; her focus was on the ruin that surrounded her. The fresh falling snow had yet to cover up the blood soaked into the ground. Several men were in the yard, carrying the dead onto wagons and driving them outside of the walls. The sounds of mourning were soft but they seemed to be coming from every direction. It was very late in the night and only a mere day had passed since her birthing her son. 

My son. If I had stayed in the crypts...

“Follow me, my Lady,” the man bowed again, dropping the debris he meant to clean up back onto the fresh snow. 

He led her into the Great Hall which had transitioned into a place of healing, full of wounded men all awaiting for clean linen for their wounds, milk of the poppy, or perhaps even a dagger to the heart to end their suffering. As she entered, the hall grew silent aside from the groaning of dying men. Every able eye was on her, mouths gaping open, and more courtesies were uttered to her than she could stand to bear at the moment. 

The maester was at the far end of the hall instructing some other young men how to treat the others. When his sight fell on her, he nearly doubled over. 

“The old gods have heard our prayers,” he began to weep. “Lady Stark, it should not be possible. I saw the blood myself. You have been blessed by the old gods, and to walk so soon after--”

“Where is my son?” she asked coolly.

The hall grew even quieter somehow. The maester wiped his tears and reached to grab her hand into his. “Come, my Lady. Lads, do what you can for your brothers. And someone, go let Lady Stark’s family know she is well,” he gestured towards the help.

The maester led her into a corridor behind the great hall with a room at the far end. As they walked in, she noticed it had become his new maester’s chambers since the destruction of many of the other towers in Winterfell. Herbs were spilled onto the floor, several parchments were scattered across the desk, but all else vanished from her sight when she saw a bundle of black silk in the smallest wooden box atop the bed.

“Your sister wanted to bury the child on the morrow,” he walked towards the bundle. “A Stark of Winterfell, my lady, shall always be buried in the crypts.”

My son, to be buried in the crypts of Winterfell, because I chose not to stay in them.

“I want to see him,” she whispered. “Please.”

The maester gave her an uncertain look before easing the silk apart with unsteady hands. Once folded open, Sansa moved closer, looking down on the small, lifeless boy.

The smallest child I have ever seen, just like Sandor said. 

She wanted to wail, but something inside of her prevented her from falling onto her knees and beating the floor bloody in front of the maester. He gave her a curious look when all she did was stare at the child. But on the inside, she mourned louder than any mother could ever do for a child. She peered down closer and placed her finger alongside his tiny cheek. Even though small and premature, he looked like Sandor. How Sandor might have looked when he was in the womb, without the burns or scars. She leaned further down again and placed a tender kiss on the child’s forehead. When she rose from her son, she looked at the maester, feigning her composure.

“Please, go to my lord husband at once. He is severely injured. I’ve told him not to refuse your help,” she turned back towards the door but hesitated a moment before exiting. “Thank you. For everything. We will bury my son tomorrow at dusk,” her voice quivered at the end and she exited.  

Sansa pulled the large hood of the man’s cloak over her face as she walked towards the godswood. It was late and the only men in the yard were busy shoveling bodies or weeping. She also noticed that she had not seen a single living Dothraki or Unsullied in the yard. Has Daenerys already left? What all happened as I was dying?   She made it successfully to her destination without being seen, like she was a ghost. Perhaps I am, she thought.

Inside the godswood, all appeared calm and pure. It was as if no battle between the living and dead had ever occurred just one day ago. She contemplated how that could be possible before sitting underneath the tree on the stone bench. Sansa looked up at the carved face and it had never looked more like her father as it did in that very moment. In the presence of the old gods and the face resembling her father, every tear, cry, scream, curse, and wail that she held inside the maester’s chambers had escaped. 

Chapter Text

I nearly raped my own wife.

Sandor had no knowledge of how long he had been asleep after the maester came to him shortly after Sansa left. I nearly raped her. The old man grimaced at the wounds Sandor suffered but assured him that his fractures would heal given enough time and rest. With Sansa gone from the bedchamber, he became profoundly aware of the pain in his body, leading him to accept the milk of the poppy from the maester before the old man thoroughly examined him. Without it, he would have gone mad from the burning sensation each finger would have issued on his chest.

The dreams that came with it were arguably no better than the pain he would have felt without it. He dreamed of coming to Sansa the night the Blackwater burned, but instead of holding a knife to her throat and forcing her to sing a song for him, he used the knife to cut her dress off, forcing himself inside of her. She screamed, sobbed, and struggled to push him off but all he could do was take her, crying as he did it. 

He also dreamed of his son, a small, lifeless thing in his hands while his brother, a dead beast with no head, erupted into wildfire beside him. Once he became aware he was only dreaming, Sandor told himself that when he woke he would not accept any more milk of the poppy, that he would rather suffer the agonizing pain instead. However, he could not wake himself up despite how hard he tried. It was not until a time much, much later did he find himself returning to consciousness. I nearly raped my own wife, he thought. 

When his eyes opened, the first thing he noticed was the Imp sitting in a chair beside him. How and why do the gods keep this one alive during every bloody battle? he thought. As his vision became clearer, observing the environment around him, he realized he had been moved into a different bedchamber. When Sandor opened his mouth to curse the dwarf out, his voice would not come but instead led him to have a coughing fit. 

Tyrion reached for the cup beside him on the table and handed it to him with a nod.

“You are almost as small as me now. It is quite remarkable what a lack of real food and the absence of shoving steel in men can do to a man’s build,” he quaffed a cup of his own.

Sandor felt the frailty in his arm as he grabbed the cup Tyrion offered. However, when he lifted his head to take a sip, he was surprised that the radiating pain he had felt in his chest had become significantly more tolerable. 

“How long have I been out?” he asked after chugging the water. 

“Let me think, today would make it a fortnight? No, that’s not right. I believe a little longer than a fortnight now. The days have blurred together. I was recovering myself for a few days but it is past time I depart for Dragonstone to return to our very anxious queen,” he sighed. 

“A fortnight?” Sandor boomed, pushing himself to sitting until both arms buckled underneath him. “Gods, I am as weak as a bloody green boy,” he muttered under his breath. “Where is Sansa? Is she all right?” 

Is she all right after I nearly raped her? he wanted to ask.

“Your wife,” a faint smile appeared on Tyrion’s lips. “She is well, Clegane. I hope you don’t mind me calling you Clegane. Old habits and I cannot call you Stark without pissing myself from laughter,” he giggled. Shortly after, Tyrion grew thoughtful and his face became solemn. “Forgive me. I have not had the chance to offer you my condolences regarding your son. I really am truly sorry.”

Sandor grunted at the Imp’s sympathy, the reminder of his dead child just as painful as it had been a fortnight ago. That wound will not heal given any amount of time, he thought . “Sansa--”.

“Lady Stark is an impressive woman,” Tyrion interrupted. “Though she was young and naive when she arrived in King’s Landing, one thing she has done better than the rest of us over the years is adapt. First, she lost her father and had no family left around her, but she adapted to being a hostage to my sweet sister. Then that fool Lord Baelish snatched her up, but she adapted as his bastard daughter for his ploys. Finally, given enough time, she adapted into who she was meant to be, the Lady of Winterfell, a leader. Sansa learned well. She kept her motives a secret, said what she needed to say, did what she needed to do and overcame a great deal of obstacles and pain in the process. Name one other girl who could have experienced what she had and not have thrown herself off a cliff. Even that wild little sister of hers lost some of her humanity when dealing with her sorrows. Sansa has become smarter, craftier, and much more respected as a result of her traumas.”

“You think I do not know my own wife? I know better than anyone how capable she is,” Sandor grunted at the dwarf. 

“Perhaps not. The reason I say all of this is to explain why the surviving Northern families have declared that Sansa be their queen, the Queen in the North,” he smiled.

Sandor looked at the dwarf in silence. “She, I--”

“You bent the knee to Daenerys, yes I am aware. What you are not aware of is a great deal of many other things.” Tyrion leaned forward in his chair with an eagerness in his eyes. “Jon Snow is the prince who was promised. The son of Rhaegar Targaryen and your wife’s aunt, Lyanna Stark. He is the rightful heir to the Seven Kingdoms,” he whispered. Sandor scoffed at the gossip and shook his head against the pillow.

“You have come to jape, is that it?”

“I know, it is hard to believe a man who jokes as frequently as I, but rest assured it is the truth. I’ll save you the tedious details and leave that for your wife to explain but Jon, or Aegon rather, will marry Daenerys. Aunt and nephew in the marriage bed is a revolting idea to many but the two will reign together. Sansa hopes her brother, or cousin rather, will persuade Daenerys to stand by his decision to ‘allow the North to become independent once again’, as the Northmen have all been drunkenly bellowing out out there,” Tyrion gestured towards the window. “After the next war, that is.”

“The war against your bloody sister...why would these men die to see your dragon queen onto the throne if they plan on bending the knee to Sansa?” he pushed himself up again, this time successfully placing his back against the headboard.

“An alliance, Clegane. It need not be necessary to bend the knee. Sansa would not dishonor House Stark by not repaying the debt of Daenerys assisting you in the war against the Others. But once Jon and Daenerys sit on the throne, the North will demand independence.”

“And if your queen demands we bend the knee despite what her bastard-turned-king husband wants?” Sandor rasped.

“Leave that to Jon and myself. Daenerys’ knowledge of Jon’s true identity shocked her to say the least. It was learned only a moment after Jon struck the Others’ King in the heart and Bran awakened to reveal the truth of it to us all. Daenerys could not bear to look at the young man and flew off. However, the queen and I have communicated in the meantime. Her love for him, and her desire for that cursed throne beside him, will mean more to her than the North...I hope,” Tyrion muttered into his cup.

Sandor sighed and wiped his face with both hands, noticing a gauntness to it. “Bugger them. You said Sansa is well. Has she--”

“Visited you?” Tyrion chuckled. “Look at that desk over there, what do you see?” 

Sandor shifted his eyes towards the window, observing a large oak desk covered in parchments, scrolls, and candles that had melted into nothing from heavy usage. The proof of Sansa’s frequent company made him smile.

“She is rarely anywhere but here, Clegane. I chanced to meet you alone because she happens to be with her brother in the godswood. Aside from that, she has held most of her meetings here or in the makeshift solar below. Sansa has gone so far as to take responsibility for what the maester and other castle staff should be doing for you. Feeding you, cleaning after you, washing you, speaking to you as you sleep. The castle and her men may never love you as their lord, but gods do they love her. A woman dead and born again, only to become more dutiful and committed to her family than even the late Ned Stark. You should consider yourself lucky. Many of these men might have ‘accidentally forgotten’ to feed you long enough till you withered away.”

The little bird, my wife. Caring for me even after I nearly raped her. Gods, how has a savage like me ever deserved her?

Sandor contemplated that question for a moment before breaking the silence that lingered in the room. “Did she bury the boy?” he asked quietly. 

“Yes,” Tyrion grew solemn again. “He was buried in the crypt. Sansa only allowed her siblings to attend the burial. A strong woman she has been; she knows not to grieve publicly, no matter how difficult it might be.”

She cried with me, he thought. The little bird will never have to hide her feelings around me. 

“Is that all? I want to see her,” Sandor reached down towards his right leg, surprised at discovering that the swelling was mostly gone. As he looked down, he also caught a glimpse of the bruising on his torso which had faded into a greenish-yellow shade.

“One last thing: myself and a handful of others, including Jon, depart today for Dragonstone, gods save us all. Daenerys and her dragons departed shortly after the battle here, as you know. Her armies followed, refusing to stay in what the Dothraki have coined as the ‘White Hell’ without their queen. She plans to attack Cersei’s forces in three months time, which would provide you a month, give or take, to prepare your men and ready yourselves to take passage south. Should you not be there, I doubt the new queen would stand by her husband in granting you the independence that your wife and her Northmen are so adamant on obtaining. And should that happen...” he trailed off uneasily, running his finger along the rim of his cup. 

“A month? I’d be lucky to have healed in a bloody month. Those Dothraki and Unsullied cunts are fools to travel weary and injured after a war,” he scoffed. “One month and your queen expects me to leave my wife and try harder at killing myself, is that the way of it?” 

Tyrion chuckled again, this time apprehensively, gulping the remaining contents of his cup and standing from the chair. “Oh, do not worry about that, Clegane. Lady Stark has made it clear that she will be coming, too.”

Chapter Text

Sandor stood on his left leg as he supported himself against the bed post, easing his weight onto his right leg. As his weight shifted, a stinging sensation took hold, forcing him to return the weight back onto his left leg.

Seven fucking hells, I will never be able to fight again. A boy-whore with a sword could do a better job of protecting my wife. And if I am to travel with her to King’s Landing like this...

Sandor had thrown the furs off his legs once the Imp left, naked as his name day, stretching his limbs out slowly and assessing the changes in his body from resting as long as he did. He was thinner than he could believe and he winced at the atrophy of his muscles in his legs and arms. However, it had not been for nothing. In a mere fortnight, his leg and ribs had healed enough for him to move around gently without becoming overwhelmed with pain. Thank the bloody gods a fortnight of those buggering dreams had not been for naught, he thought.

Sandor knew the dwarf would notify Sansa that he had awoken before departing Winterfell. His emotions were scattered at the thought of seeing her, really seeing her, outside of the dreams of him taking her against her will.

Last I truly saw her, I nearly raped her. And in the meantime, she has had to bury our boy, take care of a savage like me, and prepare these weary men for another war. I should not expect her to be happy to speak with me...I wouldn’t if I were her. 

Outside the bedchamber, Sandor could hear faint footsteps approaching with haste. Sansa, he thought. He tried to ease himself back onto the bed but his legs buckled underneath him, causing him to fall onto the stone floor. He grunted at the impact and struggled to pull his weight up onto the bed just in time for the door to fly open. 

My beautiful little bird, red face and flustered from a run through the winter snows, all to see a man who nearly raped you.

The two stared at one another in silence for a moment before Sansa turned around to close the door. When she returned her glance, the anger in her eyes pierced him.

There it is, the hate.

“Did you try to stand up?” she asked him in such a manner as if she were accusing him of being unfaithful.

“Aye, little bird. It has been awhile. I needed to see if they could still work.” He meant to humor her, but Sansa only sighed and frowned. He caught her eyes travelling down to the sight of his manhood for a brief moment before she turned away and made her way towards the oak desk. 

“I spent hours in the godswood praying for you to heal, hours caring for you in every possible way I could. And what do you do? You try to walk the first chance you get to undo all of it,” she shook her head, taking off her gloves and throwing them down onto the desk. 

I am a bloody fucking fool.

“Sansa, I am sorry,” he began, but the sight of her crying into her hands cut off his apology. His first instinct was to stand up and pull her into his arms but when he tried, his legs only gave out underneath him again. 

“No, I am,” she sobbed. Sansa turned towards him, the anger, irritation and hate replaced by guilt, regret, and grief. The sight made him wince harder than he had when he impacted the floor.

The Imp was right. My wife has been hiding her emotions for far too long. But she will never have to do that around me.

“Gods, girl, come here,” he reached out a hand to her. Sansa wiped the tears from her face and walked to place her hands into his. Sandor pulled her into an embrace, ignoring the sensitivity still lingering within his chest. When his arms wrapped around her, she broke down again, crying into his shoulder. 

“I am so sorry,” she weeped. “I have been waiting every hour of the day for you to wake. And when you woke, all I could do was lash out at you.”

“You have every right to be angry with me,” he whispered in her ear, inebriated by her smell, her touch, and her voice. I tried to rape you, he wanted to remind her. You wanted to see our son and all I could do was force myself on you.

“I am exhausted, Sandor. All I can think about is the crypt and how I left. All I can do all day is pretend like I am strong enough to accept what has happened. And you, I thought you’d never wake. The last time we talked--” 

“When I nearly raped you,” he corrected her. Sansa shifted in his arms and looked up at him.

“You were grieving, Sandor. I knew that, and you know it too. That’s not what you are.” 

“Then why is it all I dreamt about? Raping you when you were no older than a child back in that bloody Red Keep? While you were out here cleaning me and praying for me, I couldn’t stop dreaming of taking you as you whimpered and cried. I couldn’t stop dreaming of our son,” his voice broke. “Our boy the size of my hand, and the rage I felt to kill every fucker I could get my hands on. When I killed my brother, I couldn’t look away from the sight of him. How he exploded, burned, all right in front of me. I felt a joy that I haven’t felt since I was Joffrey’s Hound. And I felt it again when you were back in my arms. When you woke up after you had died right underneath me. It was all I could think about...fucking you bloody.” Disgust washed over him and his arms fell away from their embrace. “All I have managed to do as your husband is prove every one of these bastards right. A man like me could never deserve a woman like you.” 

Sansa placed her hand on his scarred cheek and rubbed the ruin on his face tenderly with her thumb. “If you were really what you fear you are, you would not have regretted it. The Hound is dead. Your brother was a monster, Sandor. Even my own father would have found joy in him dying. And I am not upset about the last time. You could have taken me against my will if you wanted to, but you didn’t. You need to understand that there is no one better for me than you,” she pulled his arms back around her. Tears blurred his vision as the two held one another in silence as he processed her touching words.

“The burial,” he whispered.

“It was the hardest day of my life. I stayed in the crypt for hours. I never wanted to leave. All I kept thinking was if I had felt that way during the battle, I could have avoid--” 

“Sansa,” he gripped her shoulders to hold her out in front of him. “It is not your fault, do you hear me? You can’t keep saying that shite.”

“I killed our son,” she began sobbing again. “I am the one who left--” 

“Gregor did that! Cersei did that! Harry did that! Not you! Had I not fallen onto the ground during that bloody battle, I could have found my brother before he found you. The war against the Others was over, girl. You had no way of knowing if I, or anyone, was ever going to come back to get you no matter if I swore it to you or not. The ones responsible for our son’s death will have their day to face justice. Gregor has met his, as have his men, and the others will answer for it as well. Don’t you ever blame yourself again, do you hear me?” His tone was harsh, his booming voice hoarse from its under usage, but it needed to be said. The tears falling from her eyes stopped and all she could do was look at him with her Tully blue eyes as if she had woken from a fortnight of sleep as well.

“I named him,” she whispered. “You might not like it.”

“Go on, try me,” he said with intrigue.

“Beric Stark.”

“Beric,” he repeated. 

Beric Dondarrion, the lightning lord who nearly set me aflame in a buggering cave before I killed him, only to rise again. The same man who found me on the Quiet Isle and brought me back to Winterfell, to Sansa. A pain in the arse...but loyal, just, and fair. He spoke reason to me when I didn’t want to hear it. He traveled with me to the bloody Wall and back so I could earn respect amongst these Northmen. If it were not for him, Sansa would have been raped and mutilated by my brother. He delivered my own son and finally, chose to leave this world for the last time by saving my wife. Beric Stark. 

“It’s perfect, little bird,” he admitted.

A gentle smile fell on her lips, but as he leaned in to push his lips against hers for the first time in so long, she placed his hand over his mouth. 

“Wait,” she stood up, glancing briefly at his manhood again before speaking. “I need to tell you what has happened. What will happen...” she trailed off, wringing her hands together. 

King’s Landing. Northern independence. There goes our one happy moment.

“The Imp told me,” he sighed. “The bastard is to become the king, the dragon bitch his queen, and the two will rule over the six kingdoms. Six, not seven, since my wife and I will demand rule in the North. But not before you risk your life traveling to King’s Landing alongside a bloody army, walking right into a war between two mad queens over a fucking iron chair.”

Sansa stared at him indignantly, crossing her arms over her chest. “Don’t let me stop you, you seem passionate enough. Continue.” 

“Sansa, I don’t want to argue but gods, girl. What are you thinking? Traveling to King’s Landing, for what? It is my duty as Lord, a cripple or not, to take the men south. A war is no place for a lady.” Her eyes pierced him again, but the sight of her led him to inconspicuously place the furs onto his lap to hide his arousal.

“I am not a lady anymore. My men have declared me the Queen in the North. And yes, that makes you the King. The North will become independent once again once Jon sits on the throne with Daenerys.”

That bitch would have burnt me to ashes had I not bent the bloody knee mere moments after battling the Others. How can one brooding boy persuade her otherwise?

“Sorry little bird, my memory is not the same after sleeping for a bloody fortnight,” he rasped, feeling his composure deteriorating. “But have we not had this discussion? Did we not agree that we would not begin another war demanding that the North become independent again? Going south, risking your own life, for what?”

“For us. You are not from the North but you do know what it means to have limits. It’s why you left serving the Lannisters, is it not? You were tired of risking your life for something you did not believe in. Well, the Northern families, including ours, have reached those limits as well. Many of the men do not believe they should fight in Daenerys’ war for the throne, but we also cannot allow Cersei to win. Jon must be King,” she furrowed her brow at him.

Gods, a true Northern woman my wife is. I’d have better luck battling an aurochs as a cripple than talk her out of this madness.

“All right,” he surrendered. “Let’s say your brother, cousin, whatever the fuck he is persuades his queen. That still doesn’t explain why my wife has to travel to King’s Landing where there will be fire and blood ,” he remarked bitterly.

“I may be your wife , but I am their queen . And as their queen, I will not send my men off to die while I wait behind these walls to claim victory for the North. We will go together, and we will come back together,” she fought back.

“And who will be here in Winterfell if you leave? We know your bloody sister is not likely to stay behind,” Sandor pointed out.

“Bran will stay,” she defended.

“Bran?” he scoffed. “I thought he was more interested in being a bird than a lord. Is he even a Stark anymore?”

Sansa abruptly pulled her hands apart from her chest, but she stopped herself before slapping him. Sandor grinned at her response, his arousal becoming obvious even through the thickness of the furs.

“You’d hit a poor cripple?” he chuckled. “Go on, hit me hard.”

“I will not fall for it,” she said. “I know what will happen if I slap you and...we can’t,” she muttered with disappointment. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

I wish you would, he thought.

“Now that you are awake, you need to try to eat something of substance. You’ve lost too much weight and have gotten much smaller,” she frowned.

“Not where it matters.” The words fell out of his mouth. Sansa stared at him blankly for a moment before grabbing his face with her hands and placing her tongue inside his mouth. Gods, is this what she has been holding back this entire time? Acting on instinct, Sandor’s hands cupped the curves of her ass, squeezing her roundness inside each palm. When she let out a whimper, his hands froze and he pulled his lips away from hers.

“Do you want me to stop?” Sandor blurted out, realizing he had truly become traumatized by the dreams of raping her.

“No,” she breathed heavily. “But I don’t want to hurt you either.”

Sandor scoffed. “I would break every fucking bone in my body if it means I can have you again,” he mustered up the strength in his arms to pull her on top of him, straddling her legs around his hips.

“Take me then,” she purred in his ear. The words were strung together like the sweetest of songs, escalating his desire to feel himself inside of her. Sandor rushed to loosen the laces of her dress, pulling the fabric down just beneath her bare breasts.

“Seven hells,” he breathed before placing her nipple in his mouth. His tongue flicked over it eagerly, resulting in an erotic moan escaping her lips. She ran her fingers through his hair and pulled him closer to her breasts. 

“Lay on your back,” she breathed. Sansa stood up from the bed and slid her dress, hose, and silken small clothes onto the floor. 

“Gods, if I could stand right now,” he rasped, surveying her undress as he eased onto his back. “I’d bend you right over this bed till dawn.”

Sansa giggled and climbed onto the bed, planting eager kisses all along his torso before making her way down to the coarse, dark hair surrounding his manhood. He grunted when his length was taken into her hand, stroking his stiffness tenderly. Sandor had felt more pain and experienced more loss in the past two weeks than he had in his entire life, both conscious and unconscious. So much so that the vast contrast of the pleasure he was receiving from her felt foreign to him. When her mouth met the head of his cock, sucking while she stroked him with her hand, his body jerked and let out a deep groan. 

“San--, oh fucking hells, I am not going to last,” he slammed his fist into the bed.

As weak as a green boy and as bloody quick as one, too.

She removed him from her mouth and crawled carefully over his right leg to straddle his hips. Sansa reached back with her hand and grabbed his cock firmly, stroking it once, then twice, before lifting herself up. When she sat back down, he felt his length penetrate slowly into her warm, yearning cunt. 

Sansa glided on his length and he placed his hands onto her hips, following her smooth circular motions. The steadiness of her riding was agonizing torture for what his instinct called for. It took tremendous effort for him to not take her waist and drive himself inside of her with the ferocity of a rabid dog. But as he watched her, he realized that the leisurely pace allowed him to savor the moment. He paid attention to every moan, watched as she towered above him, the way her delicate hands gripped her round, supple breasts, and the way her auburn hair was tousled about her face from bobbing her head up and down his cock; he couldn’t imagine a moment more perfect than the timeless one he was living in.

Her hands left her breasts to move onto his chest before she ripped them away, worried that her weight would be too much on his ribs. Sandor pulled her hands into his own, resting his elbows onto the bed so she could push onto his palms and support herself. Sansa fell forward slightly, using the added support of his arms to transition from gliding on his cock to bouncing on it. The first time she pushed against his arms he grunted, not from pain, but from the sensation of his length leaving her warmth. When she slowly sat back down, he clenched his jaw tightly as her cunt clenched back around him. Her eyes were fixated on him and he knew if he met her glance he would lose himself. Sandor shifted his eyes down to watch the auburn curls bounce on top of his length. That sight made him nearly lose himself, too. In order to prevent himself from peaking before she did, he shut his eyes. However, that only made him more mindful of the sounds filling the bedchamber: the gushing sounds as she lifted and dropped on his cock, the sound of her ass slapping against his thighs, and the cries of pleasure as she approached her peak. Once her walls tightened against him, Sandor opened his eyes and observed her as she tossed her head back from satisfaction. The sight alone was enough to bring him to his climax, allowing his seed to finally shoot inside of her after moments of holding it back.

Afterwards, Sansa did not move from her place on top of him. She sat with her eyes closed, panting, concentrating on steadying her breath. The sight of her breasts heaving up and down, the sweat glistening in the candlelight, stirred his cock inside of her and he caught Sansa smile at the sensation.

“Did it hurt?” she asked, brushing her fingertips along his ribs.

“No,” he breathed. It was a lie. The pain presented itself all over, but Sandor knew if he admitted to the pain then Sansa would refrain herself from having him again. I’ll burn in all seven hells before that happens, he thought. Sansa leaned down to kiss his lips before pulling herself off of him, his seed spilling out onto the furs. 

“I am going to bring you food. This time, do not stand up or I might have to slip more milk of the poppy in your water,” she teased with a smile as she dressed herself. 

“Aye little bird,” he threw his arms over his face, intoxicated by the moment they had shared. “You won’t find me moving after that.”

Chapter Text

Dark wings, dark words. That’s how that bloody proverb goes. 

The month before their departure to King’s Landing passed quicker than Sandor could believe. Each night Sandor laid abed with Sansa, soaking in the sight and comfort of her after their lovemaking, and knew they were one day closer to leaving this home of theirs to march south towards another bloody war.

His fractures and the other injuries he sustained from the battle against the Others and his brother continued to recover over the month; he was now able to walk on both legs, although much slower than he used to. His ribs no longer throbbed after taking a deep breath or coughing and he no longer felt incapable of performing his duties as a husband in bed. However, the scars, breaks, and tears would last with him for the rest of his life, much like the ones that lived on the left side of his face. 

What are more scars to me? I can hardly remember a life without them.

The morning before departing for King’s Landing, Sandor sat behind the desk in the temporary solar. Many of the younger boys and older, feeble, men would stay behind and continue working on rebuilding the main tower as the others headed towards the war; it would take the span of their trip to and from King’s Landing before Winterfell recovered from that undead dragon. Sitting beside the window with his arms crossed over his chest and eyes closed, Sandor waited for his wife to return from meeting with her younger brother in the godswood. 

When the door opened, he opened his eyes with an eagerness. It was not Sansa, but the maester, shuffling his feet with haste.

“Your Grace,” the old man greeted cautiously. 

Gods, I’d love to see the Imp react to that courtesy. He’d shit himself from laughter.

“What is it?” Sandor muttered, leaning his head back against his chair with disinterest.

“Uh...Your Grace...we received a raven, a parchment…” he mumbled. 

“Bring it here, then,” he commanded, holding his hand out towards the maester. 

“Uh...yes, here, Your Grace,” he placed the parchment into Sandor’s palm. Once the letter was in his hand, Sandor did not stir to read it. “Your Grace...I believe it is of dire importance and should be opened straight away,” the maester uttered.

“Haven’t you already read it?” Sandor grumbled. “Isn’t that what you maesters do?”

“Not this one, Your Grace. The seal...the wax...it has no sigil,” he explained. Sandor’s curiosity sparked at that. He straightened himself in the chair and looked at the parchment in his hand. 

A black seal with no sigil. It can’t be the Night’s Watch. There is no bloody Night’s Watch, not anymore.

“Leave,” Sandor ordered the old man.

“Your Grace,” the maester bidded apprehensively, scurrying out of the solar. 

Dark wings, dark words. 

Before Sandor peeled the wax seal, the door swung open again. 

When his eyes met the entrance he saw that, again, it was not Sansa, but her little sister.

“What’s that?” Arya asked him, chewing on an apple and making her way to sit across from him at the desk.

“Mind your fucking business,” he rasped. Sandor inspected the black seal again and began to feel troubled about the contents of the letter . When he looked up at the girl, sitting across from him unusually silent, he saw that her curiosity was sparked, too, as she dropped the apple into her lap at the sight of the unfamiliar seal.

“Open it!” she shouted.

“Hush, girl!” he yelled back. 

Sandor broke the seal from the parchment and unrolled it across the desk slowly. When the words appeared, in the form of a poem, he felt his heart pause. Dark wings, dark words.  

 

What does the wolf do when the dog is not looking?

A wolf red of hair meets a scarecrow red of hair.

What happens when the wolf is struck by lightning?

The Lord of Corpses impregnates her, before he must fare.

Your proof awaits you where you should have died.

The mêlée with the little sister of your whorish bride.

 

“Seven hells, what is taking you so long? Can’t you read? Give it to me,” Arya leaned across the desk and reached for the parchment. 

“Bugger off,” he growled. Sandor read over the words another five times before a sickness overtook him, prompting him to lean towards the floor as if he might vomit. Arya took the opportunity to seize the parchment from the desk and ran across the solar with it. “Bring that back here!” he muttered breathlessly.

Arya stared at the letter in silence, furrowing her brow as she read the words until it was clear that the meaning had come to her. She immediately crumbled the parchment into her hands and stared at Sandor wide eyed. “No,” was all she said.

Scarecrow, red of hair, lightning, Lord of Corpses...all references to Beric Dondarrion. The wolf, red of hair, Sansa. The dog, me. The lord...red of hair...impregnates her...

“Give me the fucking letter,” he rose from his chair.

“Are you a fool?” Arya spat. “This is a trick. Sansa would never--” she paused. 

Bloody fucking hells, even she is considering the possibility. The possibility that my little bird was taken by Beric fucking Dondarrion behind my back...we named our son after him. No, she named our son after him...

Sandor stood, his right leg nearly buckling underneath him, to open the window, letting in the soft morning snow and fresh frigid into the solar. “Gods,” he groaned.

“My sister was a maiden before you,” Arya explained. “I have heard and caught you two fucking more times than I can count in this castle. When would she have ever had the time for anyone else? Someone would have seen her,” she pointed out. But there was something in the tone of her voice that made him become increasingly uneasy.

Sandor could not manage a response. He hated himself for even considering such a thing from a woman like Sansa. The impossible idea that she took Beric for a lover. He delivered my son, or was it…

“Sandor,” she sighed. “Even if she did, Beric is dead. You know she loves you and you trust her, don’t you?” Arya’s demeanor became sullen as she posed the question.

‘They’re all liars here, and every one better than you.’ That’s what I said to her when she was no more than a child. What did that fucking Imp say? Sansa knows what to say, knows what to do, to keep her motives a secret...

Sandor shook his head to interrupt the revolting thoughts. Sansa would never lie to me. ‘A hound will die for you, but never lie to you.’ That’s what I told her. She knows I would never lie to her so why would she consider lying to me?

“Aye, I trust her,” he finally broke his silence. 

Perhaps I should have never trusted him. He sacrificed his own life for her. Why would he do that? I thought he did it because he knew I loved her, because she was the Lady of Winterfell. But what if he did it because he loved her? Because he had her? When he kissed her, it all came too natural for him, didn’t it? I was enraged at the sight, his lips on hers, all because it appeared too fucking natural.

Sandor collapsed back into the chair, his hands covering his face in disbelief. 

“Don’t think about it and don’t mention it to her,” Arya advised him. “This letter was sent for you and Sansa to become at odds with one another. Someone does not want the new King and Queen in the North to have a long reign,” she added. 

Like the dragon bitch, he thought. Was she the one behind this letter?

“It would have to be someone with connections inside this castle, if the claims are true. How else would they know such things...how I nearly died at that buggering Crossroads Inn with you.” ‘ Where you should have died, the mêlée with the little sister of your whorish bride ’, he repeated in his head. “How many people can know that? Then again, all fools know how to gossip and spread secrets,” he pounded the desk with his fist.

“I will ask the maester who has sent ravens as of late. However, it is not difficult to send off a message without his knowing,” she frowned.

“I love your sister more than anything,” his voice shook. “Even if this were true, I would still love her,” and become suicidal, he thought . “If I just ask her--”

“No!” she shouted. “If you imply that she was fucking Beric and had his child instead of yours, how do you think she will react? It will not matter if there was a parchment or if it were me who planted the idea in your head. She will not just take offense when you ask, proving that you do not trust her. It will destroy you two, don’t you get that? Seven hells, you are stupid,” she muttered under her breath. “There’s no reason to learn the truth. If it happened, it happened. If not, even better. What will finding out the truth of this bring you?” she asked him.

Everything, he thought. Not knowing the truth of this buggering poem will drive me mad. And how will that not destroy us all the same?

“Give me the parchment,” he ordered her. Arya shook her head and made for the brazier, tossing it into the flames. Sandor ignored the pain in his leg as he rose from the chair to pull the letter out, reaching inside only to pull away in terror once the flames kissed his skin. “You little bitch!”

“We can’t have this parchment get into the wrong hands. Sansa cannot know and more importantly, her men cannot know. Maybe you are too thick in the head to understand, but these men declared Sansa their queen and will march south on her orders to aid Daenerys because of Sansa’s honor, her loyalty, and her devotion to her family, even to a miserable shit like you. If these same men learn she was unfaithful, mothering a bastard and burying him in the crypt of Winterfell which is solely reserved for Starks...I do not think it to be good for her,” she shuddered. A moment of silence passed between them before she stared at Sandor wide eyed again. “That is what they want,” she whispered. “Whoever sent this did not do it out of respect for you.”

“Of course not, you little twat,” he grunted, supporting his weight against the wall beside the brazier. 

“As I said before, the only reason someone would send this to you is to divide you and Sansa. If your army were to learn of this, why would they risk their lives to fight for Daenerys if they no longer respect Sansa or her demands? They would turn back North. This letter has to be from someone on Cersei’s side, someone who doesn’t want the North and our allies to aid Daenerys in the next war,” she suggested. 

“Or,” he sighed. “Maybe it’s her idea. Perhaps the dragon bitch hopes we do not come. If we failed to show up, would she not be justified in demanding that Sansa and I bend the knee? After we chose not to help win her fucking throne?” 

“The Crossroads Inn,” Arya muttered, ignoring his words. “It’s on our way to King’s Landing. No, this is a fucking trap, I can smell it. What proof could they have anyways? And even if they did, why would they just give it to you? They wouldn’t,” she reasoned. “They would demand something from you before that proof is provided and I bet it’s to send your men back here.”

“So, to know the truth of this shite, I would need to send back our army, fail to assist the Targaryen bitch in winning her chair, submit to bending the knee after all these bloody Northmen have declared otherwise, becoming not only hated by them but by my own wife.” Sandor threw his head back against the wall in frustration.

“Or, you don’t learn the truth of it at all, Sandor,” Arya proposed. “Worse things happen everyday.”

For others maybe, but not me. Sansa is all I have. She is the only person who I have ever loved in this gods forsaken world, other than my son...who might not even have been my son...how do I live in peace with her without knowing the truth? Is that why her brother saw Sansa have a girl when she had my child? Is it because the boy was not mine? Is that why that fucking lightning lord smirked over the camp fire traveling back from the Wall? Had he known she was pregnant, because of him? What role did I play in all of this unless I was just a tool to kill my brother.

“Tell me,” he lifted his eyes towards her. “What do you believe?” 

Arya shifted at the question before releasing a deep breath. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I was in denial when she told me that she loved you. I could not believe it,” Arya gave him an apologetic glance before shifting beside the brazier again. “She does love you though. That should be enough for you. Before this, you never questioned her loyalty. Don’t start now.”

“Speak no more of this,” he said. “Not even to that bastard Gendry you are so fond of.” Sandor struggled to stand up before returning to the desk. “We have a long, brutal road ahead of us beginning tomorrow. Go.” For once, Arya did not sneer at his orders and left the solar without a single fuss. Sandor sat in the chair, staring at the brazier that had burned the troubling message into oblivion. 

A long, brutal road ahead of us beginning tomorrow, he thought. And on the way, the Crossroads Inn.

Chapter Text

“Get in the wheelhouse,” Sandor ordered as she mounted her white palfrey.

His attitude from yesterday has not improved.

“I want to ride,” she said unyielding.

“If you ride, I do not want to hear you complain at the end of the day of how you wished you had sat your pretty little arse comfortably in the wheelhouse instead,” he shook his head and took a deep breath. “Go on then, girl. I’ll catch up with you.”

“Not with that attitude. Arya,” Sansa called out ahead of her, riding past her husband and falling into the column beside her sister riding on a grey palfrey.

“I thought you’d prefer the wheelhouse,” Arya taunted, smirking as they exited the gates of Winterfell towards the Kingsroad. Sansa rolled her eyes. 

They all think I am the same spoiled little girl I was the last time I traveled to King’s Landing. I may be a queen, but I will not be like Cersei. I will ride alongside my men on horseback the best that I can.

“I only intend to sleep in there,” Sansa informed her.

“Well then I intend on making camp far from it. I do not care to hear that wheelhouse creaking all night,” she japed. Gendry, the bastard blacksmith who was infatuated with Arya, rode beside her and chuckled.

“You really are crude. That’s not like to happen anyway,” Sansa muttered under her breath. She noticed that her sister’s smile faded after hearing her words, as if they were alarming.

“Why not?” Arya asked. 

“He is upset with me, I presume. Sandor would rather have me stay in Winterfell than go to King’s Landing. He opened up to the idea for a while, but yesterday something changed. He became moody and quiet and he is even worse today,” she sighed.

Arya was silent for a moment before turning to glance at Gendry. Something about the look she gave him urged him to pick up the pace of his courser and leave the sisters to their conversation.

“I love him,” Arya said quietly. Sansa turned her head sharply towards her sister, her mouth gaping open in surprise.

“Truly? I never thought I would see the day,” she giggled. Despite the sudden glee Sansa felt from her sister’s confession, Arya’s expression remained vacant. “What’s the matter? You don’t want to?”

“It’s not that. I just never want to be a wife or a mother. That’s not me,” Arya explained. “Plus,” she whispered, surveying the distance of the men who rode alongside them before continuing. “I have my eye on a few others.”

“Arya!” Sansa gasped. 

“What? I don’t think it’s fair that men can sleep with as many women as they want but women are expected to only sleep with their husband,” she scoffed. 

It’s more than fair when you have a husband like mine, she wanted to say.

“Fair enough,” Sansa said instead.

Arya gave her an odd look, looking around again before posing her question. “Have you ever wanted to fuck someone other than the Hound?”

Sansa was taken aback by her question and it immediately killed her playful mood. 

“First, stop calling him the Hound. And second, he is my husband,” Sansa grew defensive.

“That doesn’t answer my question,” Arya continued to pry. 

“I’ve changed my mind. I think I will ride alone, sister,” Sansa took off again, riding towards the front of the column beside her bannermen. 

First Sandor’s attitude, then Arya’s ridiculous question. Perhaps I should have sat in the stupid wheelhouse.

“Your Grace,” a man’s voice called out behind her, his horse galloping to ride beside her own. When Sansa looked upon the man’s face, she thought him to be one of the most handsome men she had ever seen: dark brown hair that flowed to his shoulders, dark blue eyes, and a strong, masculine jawline. 

Years ago, I would have fallen in love with you at this moment. However, the years have done well to teach me how conniving and cruel beautiful people can be.

“Forgive me, I do not recognize you,” Sansa said.

“Of course not, Your Grace. We have never met. My name is Philip,” he smiled, his teeth a row of pearls.

“And your family name?” she asked, turning away from his sudden charm.

“I’m a Snow, Your Grace. My father was one of your father’s household guards, Alyn.”

Alyn. Yes, I remember him. I thought he was handsome, too. But that was when I was just a stupid little girl.

“I remember your father. I had no idea he had a--” she paused.

“A bastard?” he laughed. “My father was not much older than a boy when he got my mother pregnant. She was a tavern girl,” he said in a relaxed manner. 

Too handsome, too poise.

“I see. Many men talk fondly of your father.” Sansa did not remember much, but it was said that Alyn saved men from the Brotherhood without Banners during the Battle at the Mummer’s Ford against the Mountain.

“My father died a brave man,” he began, easing his horse closer to hers. “I left the north once I learned of his death. I was a foolish boy seeking revenge. It wasn’t until years later when I heard the Starks returned to Winterfell, defeating the Boltons, did I come back to serve the family that my father did. I became acquainted with Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion upon my return. You see, if not for my father, Thoros might have died at the Mummer’s Ford and would have never been able to revive Beric when he was killed by the Mountain’s lance. They were kind to me because of his bravery. And they, too, died brave men. Beric most of all, giving his life up willingly to return our beautiful queen to us,” he grinned at Sansa. “I may only be a bastard, but I will fight for the North, against the Lannisters who are ultimately responsible for my father’s death, and will do my duty to protect you, Your Grace.” He reached for her hand and acting on instinct, she offered it to him, allowing him to place a gentle kiss on her fingers. His deep blue eyes were locked onto hers for a moment before she pulled her hand back.

In that same moment, an approaching gallop grew louder behind them as Sandor pulled up onto Sansa’s left side, his face twisted with fury. 

“And who the fuck might you be?” Sandor asked the bastard, pulling on Stranger’s reins to match their pace.

As if his attitude was not foul enough already...

“Sandor, this is Philip Snow. He is the son of one of my father’s late guards. His father fought alongside Thoros and Beric during the Battle at the Mummer’s Ford,” she informed him, watching as his hands clenched tightly onto the reins.

“Your Grace,” Philip greeted warmly.

“I’ve seen you,” Sandor inspected the boy up and down with his eyes, a grimace on his face. “The bastard swinging his sword around with the Brotherhood in the practice yard.”

“Yes, I grew close with the men my father fought with. Beric Dondarrion, especially. How does the saying go? We shall never see his like again. Who can compare to the lightning lord? Easy to love, wouldn’t you agree, my Queen? A great man,” he smiled towards Sandor.

“Yes, he was,” Sansa agreed quietly, perceiving the sudden tension in the air. She noticed that  Sandor's jaw was clenched as he sneered at the boy.

“I only wanted to introduce my--” 

“You’ve introduced youself, now fuck off,” Sandor rasped.

While most men would be intimidated by Sandor’s temper, the young bastard only smiled at him. “Your Grace,” he bid her farewell before riding back towards the other end of the column. Something about that brief moment made Sansa feel confused and uncomfortable, as if words unspoken were being said but only Sandor and Philip could hear them.

“A bloody bastard has no right approaching a queen,” he muttered to himself. “Kissing my wife’s hand. I ought to slice the lips off that pretty bastard’s face.”

He’s jealous. And for no reason, too. What is a handsome bastard compared to him? What is anyone compared to him?

“Sandor, that’s enough,” she reproached him.

“If you wish to ride, you will do so beside me from now on,” he said unkindly. 

Sansa knew better than to argue at that point. It would be a terribly long ride and she noticed a couple of the bannermen already begin to whisper to one another. She decided to keep her mouth shut, refusing to provide more gossip for the men to talk about, and focused solely on the southern horizon in front of her. 

 


 

The column rode until dusk, making camp as the sun disappeared into the west.

Sansa was grateful that the weather favored the first day of their travels with gentle snows and light breezes. As the army made camp, she watched the men begin to dismount, feed, and brush their horses before setting up the expanse of tents and campfires.

Sandor gestured for Sansa to follow him from the front of the column towards the back where the wheelhouse would be located. Once they had approached it, he dismounted from Stranger and walked up beside her, grabbing her waist to help her off of her palfrey. 

He may be acting like a brute as of late, but he hasn’t lost all of his manners.

Once Sansa stood on the ground, the radiating soreness in her thighs made itself known due to riding all day. However, she would not dare complain about it to Sandor unless she wanted to hear him boast about how he was right. 

Once Sandor took their horses, Sansa entered the wheelhouse and embraced the warmer environment. It was a modest size, unlike the double-decker she had ridden in with Cersei and Myrcella when she was a child. Though smaller and simpler, there was more than enough room for two people to stand, sit and lay comfortably. In between the two benches stood a table with legs that folded to lay flush onto the floor. Sansa lowered it as she entered and spread out a multitude of furs onto the wooden floor to sleep on.

There was no light inside the wheelhouse aside from a faint orange hue that poured in through the window slits from the multitude of campfires being built outside. The day was long, and the silence between her and Sandor put her in as foul a mood as him. Deciding she would go straight to sleep, she began to disrobe until she was left only in her smallclothes. Before she could climb into the furs underneath her, the door swung open.

Sandor climbed in with haste and closed the door behind him, leaving the two in the dark.

“You need to eat before you rest,” he muttered. His voice sounded strange to her after going hours without hearing him speak one word.

“I’m not hungry,” she replied stubbornly.

She felt his hand grab her wrist to pull her towards him, lifting her chin and placing a hungry kiss on her mouth. She wanted to refuse his embrace after the repulsive attitude he had the past two days, but her body wanted him more than she could bear. She reached her hand down to his cock and moaned when she found that he was fully aroused. She fell onto her knees to pleasure him but he pushed her down instead, easing her onto her back atop the furs. His hand fell to her sex and pulled the small clothes down her legs with an urgency. Seconds later he was inside of her, thrusting vigorously as if he had not had her in years. 

“Tell me you’re mine,” he breathed. There was something in the tone of his voice that troubled her. 

He is pleading, she thought. He doesn’t just want me to say it, he needs me to say it. 

“I’m yours,” she whimpered, feeling herself tighten against him. The words produced a guttural moan to escape his lips, feeling the warmth of his seed shooting inside of her. At the same time she felt another warm sensation, this one on her cheek. When she placed her hand onto it, she realized that it was a tear. 

He is crying.

Before she could touch his face, Sandor rolled off of her and stood up. Although she could not see, she could hear that he was dressing himself before making his way to exit. 

“Sandor--” she called out as the door opened, filling the wheelhouse with several shades of orange before slamming shut, leaving her alone in the dark.

Chapter Text

The cold air stirred around him, squalling as the snow fell harder onto the earth. The aching in his body grew fiercer, a relentless reminder of his battle scars, as he laid atop the snow, his head resting on a stone nearby a withering campfire. Of all his aches, the heaviest was the one he felt in his core, repeating words spoken no more than hours ago. 

‘Easy to love, wouldn’t you agree, my Queen? A great man’ that bastard said...’Yes, he was,’ my wife admitted. But to what? His greatness or the ease of loving him? And when I took her, I had to hear her say it. ‘I'm yours’ she said, but not before I told her to, not before I fucked her like a whore. ‘Your whorish bride.’

Sandor struggled with the tormenting thoughts and for the first time in a long while, considered drowning his sorrows out with wine. It was not a moment later before Sandor stood from the snow, departing from the dying campfire to make his way across the camp.

“Get up,” he whispered harshly inside the tent.

“What? I’ve just laid down. Leave me alone,” Arya whined. Sandor reached to pull her up until his leg buckled underneath him, dropping his knees into the snow. He would have fallen on top of her if it were not for her reflexes. Reflexes like an assassin, he thought. “Seven hells,” she cursed at him.

Sandor pushed himself up slowly before grabbing her wrist, leading her through the sleeping camp. “I’ve found the buggering cunt behind that letter. It’s a bastard who is spying on her,” he muttered quietly. 

“Are you stupid ? I told you not to do anything!” she pulled her wrist away but continued to walk beside him. Sandor shushed her, walking for several minutes before standing mere paces away from a tent. The one tent located the furthest distance from the wheelhouse. 

“There,” he pointed. “I saw him there before finding you. Not even I will kill a man in his sleep, but it won’t hurt to question the fucker,” he growled. 

Arya looked at him incredulously, furrowing her brow. She surveyed the area around them; the only remaining men who were still awake were drunk or blinded from sitting so close to the campfires, desperate to feel the fading warmth.

“Who is it?” she whispered, pulling out a dagger from nowhere. 

Gods, this girl is never without her steel.

“Philip fucking Snow,” he mumbled. The dagger stilled in her hand.

“Philip? I’ve trained with him in the yard. I don’t think that is the man you are looking for,” she squinted at him. “I think you are suspicious of him for other reasons.” 

Other reasons, like him being a handsome fucker and putting his bastard lips on my wife’s hand?

“Girl, if I am wrong about this you can beat me bloody with that little sword of yours. I can’t summon the fool to speak with me without Sansa being there. Now is the only time.”

Arya looked at him doubtingly before sighing, easing her way closer towards the tent. She slipped her dagger in between the folds of the fabric, brushing one of them to the side.

“It’s empty,” she said. She turned over her shoulder abruptly in distress. She did not have to voice the thought that must have passed through her mind. He thought of it, too. 

“Sansa,” he breathed, turning back towards the wheelhouse and darting across the camp despite the shock of pain inside of his leg. The snow grew thicker as he ran, the air grew colder, and the campfires became nothing but ash and cinder. The only sound he could hear were the footsteps behind him, and the pounding of his heart as dread overtook him.

When he approached the wheelhouse, he lunged towards the door, heaving it open. The faint light of the moon, bleeding through the snow clouds, crawled inside the confines of the walls.

Sandor’s breathing stopped. 

Empty.

He rushed towards the guard who had been posted nearby and found that he was sleeping. Sandor pulled the man up by his cloak and shook him violently. 

“Where is my wife?” he yelled. Others nearby began crawling out of their tents due to the commotion as Arya ran up beside him, breathless from fear.

“Your Grace, I- I did not see her leave,” the guard’s voice shook.  

“Find your queen!” Arya shouted to the others, sending every conscious man to erupt into the frigid night.

He took her, the bastard took her. 

Sandor threw the guard down onto the ground and climbed into the wheelhouse to release his longsword from its sheath. He marched towards a grove of dead oak trees, shouting her name but the sound died with the frozen gusts of wind. Arya joined him, breathing frantically with her sword now in her hand.

“She can’t be far,” she muttered to herself. The snow fell harder, stronger, blinding them of the distance beyond where they stood. Behind him, the sounds of men shouting could be heard.

“Your Grace! She’s here!” Sandor and Arya turned on their heels, climbing back up the hill towards the camp. Sansa was huddled underneath a thick cloak, her demeanor staggered by the chaos inside the camp. Beside her, smirking with his arms crossed against his chest was the bastard. But for the briefest moment, Sandor could have sworn it was Littlefinger. Words escaped from Sansa’s mouth but he could not hear them, not over his rage.

Sandor swung his sword at the bastard, at his smirk, his stance, his likeness of Littlefinger. The attack sent the bastard to unsheathe his own sword, a grin still plastered on his face. But when Sandor’s eyes met Sansa’s, he saw the look that was becoming all too familiar to him: her disappointment, disgust, and pain with him, her husband, not being able to control himself. 

Sandor paused and lowered his sword, his eyes never leaving hers, and felt the bastard begin to approach him.

“I found my queen taking a stroll. She appeared to be very upset about something…or someone,” the bastard said, causing Sandor to glance at him with loathing. “I returned her at once when I heard the camp stirring,” he explained innocently, but Sandor could see the look of mischief in his eyes.

“A stroll?” Sandor looked at her warily ‘ Your whorish bride’ the words of the letter taunted him. “A bloody stroll? At this hour? Alone?” 

Her face, though still, was a copy of how it had been when he yelled at her that day in the courtyard. She turned around without a word and entered the wheelhouse, slamming the door shut behind her. 

“And here I thought our king would be overjoyed to have his queen returned to him,” the bastard spoke to the crowd of men. They laughed and Sandor wanted to cut each and every one of them down. “Rest assured Your Grace, I would never do anything that my honorable late mentor Lord Beric Dondarrion wouldn’t,” he smirked again. 

“Sandor, no!” Arya shouted as he began to swing his sword again. She grabbed onto his arm, pulling it down with all her weight. “Leave him! The rest of you, go!” she shouted. The crowd of men, whispering and chuckling, marched their way back to their tents. The last to leave was the handsome bastard, smiling, and muttering to himself.

“Enjoy her, Hound,” were the last words he heard before entering the wheelhouse.

 


 

“What are you doing? Have you gone mad?” 

Sansa sat on the bench in the wheelhouse, awaiting his entrance, a candle now lit in the sconce beside the window.

“I don’t trust him,” he snarled. The tone of his voice seemed to have instilled a fury within her as she rushed onto her feet.

“So you’ll destroy your honor, your atonement, to kill a man because you can’t trust him?” she threw her fists against his chest. He allowed it, he could understand her frustration, but once she swung her fists towards his face, he caught them and pulled them away.

“I have good reason not to trust him.” Sandor threw his sword down onto the bench with a loud thump as the steel hit the wood.

“You’ll find a reason to not trust anyone! All you will do is have my men fear talking to me, fear confiding in me as their queen because her brute of a husband will have his head off for it!” Sansa pushed him with all her weight, but he did not lose his balance.

She is not wrong, she is never wrong. But why can’t I trust her? Why don’t I trust her?

“I swore to protect you, and that’s what I will do!” he shouted.

“Other men have protected me without having to hack off an innocent man’s head!” she yelled, her words piercing him like knives sinking into his chest. He took her arms into clenched fists, holding her up against him, his face directly above hers.

“You’re hurting me!” she cried.

“Like Beric?” the name escaped him. “Go on, little bird, say it!”

“Say what?” she whispered, becoming as still in his grip as she had when she was dead. Sandor’s anger turned into despair, realizing he had gone too far now to turn back.

I have to know. I need to hear it from her. Bugger the sister, bugger the bastard, bugger the bloody letter.

“Did you,” he sighed, the words sticking in his throat. He couldn’t take his eyes off of hers, watching as the blue eyes stared at him as if he were a monster. “Did you let him have you?”

She was unmoving as her tears glistened in the candlelight, a candle that burned brighter than any brazier.

“Tell me,” he pulled her closer, digging his fingers into her arms.

She whimpered at the pain and began to cry again, refusing to answer his question.

“Answer me, girl! Did he fuck you? Was that little boy, the one I haven’t gone one bloody day without thinking about even mine?” he sobbed. However, his sorrow was shortly lived and the anger returned when she did nothing but stare at him.

‘They’re all liars here, and every one better than you.’

“You’re hurting me,” she whispered, tears falling down her face. 

Sandor removed one hand from her arm to slam the side of the wheelhouse with his fist, causing the candle in the sconce to shake and send shadows to dance along the walls.

“Tell me!” he shouted again, his rage the driving force. “Tell me or I will rip your fucking heart out before I let that bastard have you the same way Beric did!” 

“Sandor, wake up,” she said. But it wasn’t her voice. “Wake up,” she nudged his shoulder. “Wake up, you shit!”

Sandor awoke all at once, his back soaked from the melted snow on the ground. He was sweating, sweating profusely despite the frigid air surrounding him. He stared up and saw the wolf bitch, leaning down, pressing against his shoulder. 

“Wake up!” she whispered harshly.

Was it only a dream? Or is this the aftermath? 

“What- what is happening?” he muttered in fear. 

“I know who is spying on my sister,” Arya whispered. “Follow me.”

Chapter Text

The furs collected her tears for hours.

He came in, fucked me like I was whore, and left. But not before he cried. Why did he cry? 

Sansa contemplated the past two days. Tossing and turning in the furs, crying, whispering to herself, wondering why Sandor became so distant. Is all of this because he is angry? Angry at me for traveling to King’s Landing? We are still so far… However, the prospect of arriving to take part in another war was undeniably frightening to Sansa, and perhaps for him, as well, she thought.

I may not be risking my own life in the war, but I will lose many loyal men when that time comes...I could even lose my sister, Jon,...Sandor.

More time passed before Sansa decided that sleep would never greet her. She sat up, rummaging in the dark to find the box of supplies underneath the benches, and found a candle. Now, to light it. Sansa rummaged some more until she found her cloak on the floor, wrapping it around herself tightly after slipping on her boots to depart out into the cold night. The nearest campfires surrounding her were low lit, but it would be enough to birth a flame. Sansa held the cloak tightly around her as she approached the nearest fire slowly, knowing if she were to trip she would be naked as her nameday in the snow.

And what will Sandor say to me? How mad will he become then?

As she approached the fire, Sansa noticed a large area of snow beside it that appeared to have been melted. It didn’t take long for her to realize that only a man as large as Sandor could have been laying here. She lifted her head, looking around her on all sides but could see no one aside from a guard who was conspicuously asleep. She bent over, dipping the tip of the candle into the last burning embers, and placed the candle underneath her hand to keep it from blowing out in the calm breeze. She climbed back into the wheelhouse and placed the dancing flame into the sconce beside the window. Though the candle was small, it transformed the atmosphere of the wheelhouse. She felt warmer, safer, and in good company with the single flame. Perhaps this is why many turn to the Lord of Light, she thought. 

Sansa undressed once more and sat on the bench to braid her hair before snuggling back into the furs. 

Losing herself in her thoughts, she was startled when the door opened and heavy footsteps followed. As she turned to face the door, Sandor stared at her and then at the candle as if they were both ghosts. 

“What?” she asked.

“You...that candle...nothing,” he muttered before easing his way to sit beside her on the bench. Sansa noticed his eyes lingering on her nakedness; she reached down to grab one of the furs and covered herself in it.

“Have you come for another tumble before you depart again?” Sansa asked scornfully.

“No, Sansa.” The way he said the words confounded her. Her name left his mouth gentler than she had ever heard it and somehow, this eased her frustrations with him.

“What is it then?” 

“Look at me,” he whispered, taking her hands into his. 

Sansa lifted her eyes. In that moment, whether it was the gentleness of his voice, his loving demeanor, or the comfort of the candlelight, Sandor had never looked more handsome to her. More handsome than that perfect bastard, Philip Snow, she thought.

“Do you remember what you said to me on our wedding night?” he asked. The question surprised her. It was the best night of my life.

“I remember saying many things that night,” she responded, uncertain of what he was referring to.

“You turned to me, looking at me with your eyes, your beautiful blue eyes, and said ‘Sandor Clegane, I love you’. That moment was so perfect that I thought I died and was somehow spared of burning in all seven hells.” Sandor paused, taking in a deep breath as if he were about to cry. “In the back of my mind, I kept telling myself I would wake up as Joffrey’s dog again and that all of this would disappear...because I know I have never deserved you, little bird. No matter how many times I hold you, talk with you, laugh with you, touch you, fuck you...I can’t understand how you are my wife. I will never understand it. But I swear to you, I will not make you regret it.” He took in another deep breath, but this time a tear fell down his cheek. Sansa leaned in closer to wipe it away, replacing the spot where it fell with a kiss. 

“I’ll never regret it,” she whispered.

“I haven’t been fair to you,” he sighed. “Before you, I feared nothing other than bloody fire. Now, I fear too many things.”

Sansa let the furs fall off of her, her nude body crawling into his lap on impulse. “Like what?” She couldn’t tell whether it was her heart or her sex that longed for him the most.

“Losing you...hurting you,” he grimaced at the latter.

“Hurting me? You would never hurt me.” Sansa noticed his mouth twitch as if he were about to speak, but all he did was trace circles on her thigh with his fingertips. “Sandor, is there something you are not telling me?” 

His hand stilled on her thigh, turning to look over his shoulder at the candle in the sconce as if it had been the one who had spoken. 

“No,” he answered. Sansa placed her hands on his face, forcing him to meet her eyes.

“Sandor.” 

“There’s nothing, little bird. Only my fear that you’ll regret all of this...me.”

Sansa placed a passionate kiss where his mouth frowned. “I will never leave you, ever. And you will never hurt me,” she kissed him again, her arousal transcending. Tell him, she told herself. Tell him what he wanted to hear. What he needed to hear. “I’m yours. I’ve always been yours. I will always be yours.”

Those simple words appeared to eradicate his doubts, fears, and worries. He thrusted his lips against hers, the tenderness of his fingertips rising on her thigh and moving their way into her folds. Her sex was slick with arousal and the remaining seed he spent inside of her hours ago. Her hands traveled from his face, down to his neck, and slowly made their way to his cock.

“Put another baby in me.”

 




“Your Grace, riders approaching!” yelled one of the guards.

“I’ll be right out,” Sansa breathed. “Sandor,” she moaned as his tongue moved up and down her folds. “S-stop, we need to go.”

Sandor’s face pressed closer to her sex, his hands gripping tighter onto her thighs. She held herself up on her elbows as she watched him feast on her eagerly.

“Sandor,” Sansa moaned again. Her hand reached down to push his head away from her but he was immovable. He squeezed onto her even tighter, licking inside her entrance, and brought her to an incapacitating peak that would have surely been heard outside of the wheelhouse. As she stilled, he released her thighs and turned her over, slapping her ass before he stood to dress. 

The northern army passed the Trident and were approaching the River Road, only weeks away from King’s Landing. Their travels had fared well with few injuries and illnesses amongst men and horses alike. After the night Sandor came to her, confiding to her about his fears, the two became inseparable once again. Their days were spent riding alongside one another, talking, laughing, making rounds up and down the column to ensure all was well. Their nights were better; at nearly every campsite, the two would find a secluded area and make love for an hour before returning. Sandor wanted to have her all across Westeros, and she couldn’t deny wanting the same thing.

When her moonblood failed to come a fortnight past, Sansa felt elevated and apprehensive all at once. The pain of losing her first child, her son, haunted her every day. When Sansa gained enough courage to tell Sandor, she noticed that he, too, experienced a multitude of emotions, but was ultimately overjoyed. Upon her becoming with child, they decided it would be wisest for her to ride in the wheelhouse. Despite this change, Sandor rode on horseback beside her the entire way, talking to one another through the window. Although they were riding to war, the days traveling south had been some of the best of her life. 

The day the riders approached, all of that changed.

“These riders better bring us good news, else I am like to hang the fuckers for keeping me from your cunt,” he muttered. Sansa turned towards him as she dressed and attempted to hit him playfully for his crude comment. Instead, he caught her hand and pulled her towards him. “Or maybe I’ll have them wait until I am done.”

“You’re awful,” she giggled. “Let’s go.” Despite his pronounced hunger for her, he released her hand so the two could finish dressing before departing outside. 

“Seven hells, if you two aren’t riding then you’re fucking,” Arya groaned. “The bastard came back with the others. They have a woman.”

Sansa nearly forgot she had sent a group of twenty men out to scout along east of the Kingsroad. The bastard, Philip Snow, was eager to volunteer. Sansa had not seen much of the bastard since their first day of travels, but his devotion to the north persuaded her to allow him to join the others, despite Sandor’s skepticism. With Harry Hardyng’s alliance with Cersei, it was foolish not to take precaution near the Vale.

“A woman?” Sansa asked.

“A fleshy woman, by the looks of it from afar. They should be at the front of camp by now after you two took your time fucking.” Arya turned to make her way towards the opposite end of the campsite.

Sansa felt a rush of sickness hit her, reaching a hand out to balance herself against Sandor. “Get my horse.”

“You shouldn’t be riding on horseback right now, little bird.”

“It’s not a long way. I will be all right,” she assured him. 

“Gods, you are stubborn,” he sighed, placing a kiss on her lips. “Wait here, then.”

When Sandor returned he lifted her gently atop her palfrey before mounting Stranger, headed towards the front of the campsite. Many of the men were still sleeping as first light was just now appearing. The quietness across the camp made Sansa feel uneasy, worried that she was riding towards something unpleasant. A fleshy woman...

When Sansa spotted her, she nearly fell off her horse. 

“Help me down,” she told Sandor. “Now!” 

“Fucking hells,” he muttered under his breath at her strict command. 

Sansa strode over to the fleshy woman, now dismounted and smiling beside the bastard Philip Snow, and slapped her across the face with all her strength.

“I should have your head off right here. Have it taken off the same way I did your father’s,” Sansa scolded her.

“Easy, girl!” Sandor held Sansa back from slapping the brown-haired woman again. 

“Your Grace, we found her riding towards the Kingsroad. Upon us learning her identity, we thought you would want to see her and deal with her escaping exile accordingly,” the bastard spoke formally.

Myranda Royce grabbed her cheek, now red from the impact, and gave Sansa a feigned smile. “You have come a long way from being Littlefinger’s maiden bastard. Good for you.”

“Orders were sent for you to be exiled. You murdered Sweetrobin! A lord! A child!” Sansa shouted, pulling her arms free of Sandor’s grip.

“No, your former husband and my fool of a father did that. I did what I had to do to get by, Alayne. Excuse me, my Lady.”

“She is not a lady, she is a queen!” Arya spat.

“Goodness, how you have climbed in this world,” Myranda giggled. “You look radiant. Your breasts are larger. I would even be so bold to say you are with child.”

“That’s not your concern,” Sansa gave her a distrusting look. 

“The infamous Hound,” Myranda looked Sandor up and down. “Sansa, when I gave you kissing lessons when we were girls, is this who you thought of when you put your tongue on mine? He’s comely in his own way. As large as they say he is. I’m surprised your cunt can take all of him,” she laughed. 

“One more jape and I will have your head off,” Sansa threatened.

“No you won’t. Unless you aspire to be like our dear Queen Cersei. I have information that could benefit you. Perhaps it will benefit you enough to show mercy on me,” she smiled. Sansa frowned in response.

“Then I suggest you tell me now before I tell my husband to get his sword.”

“Oh, I don’t mind taking his sword,” she smirked. “As you know, I sacrificed a lot for Harry. When he returned to the Vale, he allowed me to stay for a time, but once word spread of what really happened with our Sweetrobin, he refused to help me. But, the craven also refused to exile me himself. It was either me leave on my own or have my head hacked off like your father. To say I was furious with him would be an understatement. I fled in the middle of the night, made my rounds from man to man to gather enough resources to get by. Most importantly, I grabbed these after letting the maester fondle me for a moment.” Myranda tossed a bag onto the snow, parchments spreading like wildfire across the earth.

“And what is this?” Sansa asked.

“Valuable information. Letters between Harry and Cersei. Copies of letters from other houses. But this one here,” Myranda held up a parchment, “was the most curious one of them all.” 

“What is that?” Sansa felt a rush of sickness again.

“The poor maester told me it was a copy of one that had been sent to Winterfell. I am sure you have seen it by now.”

“I never received a letter from the Vale,” she paused. When she looked over at Sandor, her brow furrowed. “Let me have it,” Sansa opened up her palm towards Myranda. She shook her head and gave Sandor a peculiar look.

“I do believe it would be best if we read this little poem in private,” Myranda whispered. 

Chapter Text

The parchment fell in front of him, the sound of it meeting the earth somehow resulting in a maddening cacophony.

“Look at me,” Sansa grunted.

You should have told her, he thought to himself. You should have told her the moment that bloody parchment touched your palm.

He sat on the ground solemnly as the parchment seemed to stare at him, whispering its contents as if it were alive. 

“Sansa,” he reached for her hand.

“No. You don’t get to do that, not anymore.” His eyes lifted at her tone, watching as his betrayal consumed her. “Did you know about this?” Sansa gestured towards the whispering parchment.

“Yes,” he sighed.

“And you,” she turned to Arya. “My little sister. My blood. Did you know about this?” 

Arya nodded, standing with her hands behind her back.

“My own husband. My own sister,” she scoffed. “Keeping secrets from me.” The two did nothing aside from remain silent. “And you believed it.” It wasn’t a question, but a disheartening enlightenment on her part. He watched as her eyes welled with tears. 

I stopped believing it the night I had that dream. That dream where I threatened to kill her if she did not tell me the truth. Instead, I remembered our wedding night and convinced myself that she would never betray me and that I must trust her.

Sandor shifted his glance towards the mummering parchment, the fears of his dream fading and his curiosity resurrecting. 

“You received this the day before we departed, didn’t you? It’s why you became distant, why you disrespected me, why you--” she rushed towards him, pushing onto his shoulders. “Why you fucked me like a whore!” 

‘Your whorish bride’ , the parchment seemed to cry out in front of him.

“Sansa, it wasn’t just him. I have my own doubts,” Arya confessed. Sansa turned towards her sister, crossing her arms against her chest. 

“You have your own doubts?” Sansa repeated harshly.

“I love you, but I am not quick to forget. You have manipulated many truths since we were children. Over the years, Littlefinger trained you to become a skilled liar when the time calls for it. I do not rule out anything when it comes to you, Sansa. I mean, seven hells, you married the Hound! You fucking Beric Dondarrion is no less mad. 

I was there with Sandor when he read the parchment. He wanted to ask you the truth of it but I knew it was a trap. So, I threw it into the brazier. I knew how you would react if he approached you. I also knew if he never learned the truth of it from you, he would be foolish enough to go to the Crossroads Inn, the place it states there is proof. I tried to figure it out myself, for his sake, without you learning of the letter, without him going to the Crossroads, but that appears to have failed. So yes, I may love you, but you’ve been groomed to hide inconvenient truths...and inconvenient emotions. It’s how you managed to walk around Winterfell after the loss of your own child and not cry once.” 

Sansa strode over to her sister and swung her hand across her face. Arya was not fazed in the least bit.

“Don’t you ever bring up my son again. My son,” she mumbled, turning back to Sandor. “The child you believe me to have become impregnated with by giving myself to Beric.” 

He looked at the parchment again, the contents inside of it screaming. 

“He gave his bloody life for you,” he growled. “You became close, because of me! I watched him kiss you and I saw how natural it was for him!” 

“We became close,” she agreed. “So you assumed I would whore myself to him, your friend, a man who considered you as a brother? You--”

“Did you?” Arya interrupted her. “Did you whore yourself to him?”

“Sister,” Sansa scoffed. “You are funny.” 

“You didn’t answer the question,” Arya spat. 

“I can’t believe this,” Sansa muttered to herself. 

“At no point have you ever denied it.” Arya gave her sister a suspecting look. “All you’ve done is become offended.”

“You’ve never loved me,” she opposed. “It’s no wonder someone as grudgeful, spiteful, and distrusting as you became an assassin.”

“Sansa, did you fuck Beric?” Arya asked calmly.

“Is this what you are going to do? Question me as if--”

“Answer it!” the words escaped him. Sansa’s arms fell to her sides, the disbelief evident in her eyes.

I wanted to know from her, and now I will. But at what bloody cost?

Sandor noticed that something in Sansa began to collapse. Whether it was her composure, her strength, her pride, her sanity, he did not know. He only knew that whatever it was, it unhinged itself entirely.

“No, I did not,” she declared, her eyes brimming with tears. “But perhaps I should have.” 

With that, the leftovers of his composure shattered, too.

“And perhaps I should have raped you bloody that night in the Red Keep,” he rasped without forethought. “I should have fucked you and left you for dead. At least then I wouldn’t have this fear because of you!” He stood up brusquely and was halted by Arya unsheathing her sword in unison, pointing the blade at his throat. 

“Do not touch her,” she warned him.

Sandor looked at the blade and then back at Sansa. The tears that were brimming in her eyes now fell down onto her cheeks. Her mouth was gaped open slightly, her breaths became short and frequent, her face was unnaturally pale. But what haunted him the most, unblinding him from his sudden rage, were her eyes, widened and frozen on his face.

She is scared of me.

“I want you to leave,” Sansa whispered. “Both of you.”

“Leave?” Sandor felt his heart sink. When he looked at the parchment, it became silent, its purpose served.

“Go to King’s Landing...on your own. You two are no strangers to traveling together.” 

Sandor sat back down onto the earth, repeating the words over and over again in his head. “Do you think I will leave you alone with that bastard here? Who do you think was the one to inform Harry fucking Hardyng in the first place? Even your bloody sister agrees with me on that!” he challenged.

“Him, too?” Another tear fell down her face. “You don’t trust me around him either.”

“Sansa, he is a pawn! How can you not see it? He volunteered too eagerly to scout for us and look who he brought back. He wanted to tear us apart, to dismantle the North! He is not loyal to you!” 

“To my knowledge, he has proven himself more loyal to me than either of you,” Sansa corrected him. “I’ll learn the truth of this on my own and I will handle it on my own. Myranda will stay with me as my prisoner until I learn what she knows. Then, I intend to have her executed. In the meantime, you two will leave. I’ll let my army know you have been sent ahead for reasons not to be disclosed.” 

I told her I should have raped her...I told her I should have left her for dead. The words he spoke to her incapacitated him from moving or speaking. The sister stood beside him, the point of her blade now touching the ground, as quiet and still as him.

“Leave, now!” Sansa shouted. Arya sheathed her sword and frowned.

“If I do not see you before the war, I wish you and the child well. I don’t plan on coming back.” Arya turned and headed towards the camp in one swift motion without another word. 

Sandor stood from the ground steadily and noticed Sansa flinch away when he towered over her. He reached for her hand but she took a pace back.

“I’m not going to hurt you, little bird,” he whispered. He reached for her again but this time she took several paces back.

“Don’t touch me,” she warned him, wrapping her arms around herself as if she thought he meant to rape her. And why wouldn’t she think that? I just fucking said it. 

“Come here, girl.” Sandor lunged forward, grabbing her face into his hands despite her struggle. “Sansa, I’m sorry. I am so sorry,” he breathed against her lips.

Her hands pressed against his chest, her sobs growing louder with each push. “What did I ever do...for you to not trust me?”

“Nothing,” he whispered. With each passing second, the guilt pained him worse. “Little bird, I’m s--”

“Don’t say it!”

“Gods, I love you. I only ever wanted to love you,” he muttered before kissing her lips eagerly. “I only ever wanted you to love me. I had to know, little bird.”

“Go,” she whimpered against his mouth. “I want you to go.” 

I’ve lost her. I’ve lost my wife. That was the cost of knowing. 

“No.” He embraced her again, but her lips remained still. Those days are over, the parchment on the ground came back alive to whisper.

Sansa struggled so violently in his grip, he worried that she would strain herself too hard for being with child. My child, just as my son was. Mine. But I let a fucking parchment tell me otherwise.

“Sansa, easy, girl. I’ll- I’ll go,” he submitted as he softened his grip. “After the war, I will come back for you. I swear it by all the bloody gods. I will make this right, do you hear me?” he cried. “I’ll make this right.” 

As she broke free from his grasp, she clutched herself again, giving him one last look before departing towards the campsite. She fears me, just like everyone else. Sandor was left to stand there with naught but his regret, guilt, and the parchment that started it all. A deep sense of foreboding presented itself as he watched her long auburn hair sway against her back as she walked; a painful foretelling that this would be the last time...that this was the cost of knowing.

Chapter Text

“My wrists are bound in iron, Sansa. Is this comely bastard and his friend necessary or did you bring them along for us to take turns?” Myranda laughed.

“They are here to execute you on my orders,” Sansa said as they descended down the hill. 

“Execute me? You’re becoming quite generous with executions as of late. No wonder you had your men march on while you dispose of me. You don’t want your northmen to start thinking you are as cold as Cersei, do you? If we are being honest, you should be thanking me. Were it not for me, you wouldn’t know that savage husband of yours thought you to be a whore,” she laughed again. “You really are ungrateful.”

My savage husband. All the days I’ve spent with him and all I can remember is the way he looked after I uttered those words. ‘But perhaps I should have’. How could I have said such a thing to the man I love? And what he said to me, how he looked. If Arya had not been there... Sansa shook the thought from her mind. No, he would never hurt me, not even then. 

As they reached the bottom of the hill, Sansa halted. “Here.”

Philip Snow pushed Myranda down onto her knees, forcing her to look up as Sansa towered over her. The second northman stood beside Sansa, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. 

“I should have come for your head the day after I executed your father. I was a fool to grant you exile,” Sansa scowled at her.

“You are still a fool,” Myranda sighed. “I suppose this is our last conversation then.”

“It is. Go ahead and tell us one final jape of yours. I know you want to.”

“Do you regret sending off your husband? Your little sister?” Myranda asked in an unusually somber manner.

“I did what I needed to do. Not that it’s any of your concern.” Sansa crossed her arms against her chest. “Are those your last words?”

“How many women do you think the Hound has loved? I would wager none. And I can certainly bet none have loved him. Sure, he’s probably fucked a few whores but I bet you are the first he has felt protective over. Don’t you think that makes your singularly...special to him? Don’t you think if this first woman he has ever loved was said to have betrayed him, he might be foolish enough to consider it simply because he believes himself to be...undeserving of love? If I were him, if I loved only one man my entire life, I would certainly go mad with curiosity, too, if I read that he may have fucked a friend of mine, someone I thought of as a sister. One could hardly blame him…”

Sansa stood above her, unable to do anything but listen to her reasoning. Myranda never speaks without it benefitting her. She wants me to feel guilty. Guilty, for sending my sister and my husband away. The words she speaks are not lies, though. She speaks the truth. He said it. ‘I only ever wanted to love you’, and I know that now, all too late.

Sansa cleared her throat before sentencing her to death. “Myranda of House Royce, I--”

“Your sister, too. We have all heard the youngest lady Stark became a killer, and all because of the pain of losing her family. In many ways, she is a lot like your husband. Sure, sister’s should trust one another, but even family can betray family. I’m sure she meant no harm. Perhaps since she has seen so many terrible things since her childhood, nothing seems impossible to her anymore. One could hardly be mad--”

“Enough!” Sansa yelled. 

Though she may speak truly for once, they still betrayed me. My sister, my husband. It was not right. But, did I need to send them away for it?

“How far are we from the Crossroads now?” Myranda thought out loud. The mention of the inn staggered Sansa. That was where the parchment wanted Sandor to go...my savage husband who I sent off...all because I was angry. “I do hope we aren’t still too close when that spark is lit,” she winced. “That would be a terrible way to leave this world.”

“What?” Sansa gasped.

“As I said, you are still a fool. Did you even bother to read any of the parchments I brought along? Or were you too busy fingering that pretty cunt of yours to memories of the poor husband you sent away?”

The guard beside Sansa unsheathed his sword. “At your command, Your Grace.”

“Not yet.” Sansa knelt down in front of Myranda, furrowing her brow. “What do you know about the Crossroads?” she grunted.

“I know there’s a pyromancer there. Cesei’s pyromancer. It seems that with the Mountain having failed, Cersei needed to find another way to hold up her end of the bargain and kill your exiled husband or else Harry would have cut his alliances with her. Apparently there is a great deal of wildfire there now.” Myranda could not hide her smile.

This is why she wanted me to feel guilty of sending them away. So I would blame myself if...

“They won’t go there,” Sansa whispered to herself.

“Perhaps not for proof of your whoring as was intended, but I do believe your sad, estranged husband will be curious enough to make that stop before King’s Landing, to learn who awaited him there. Mayhaps he will even kill the old fool for being part of this grand ploy to destroy his marriage and weaken the north. What does he have to lose? Not his wife. You already sent him away,” she smirked.

“He doesn’t kill men like he used to,” Sansa blurted out.

“Oh, Sansa, you are a little fool. You have no idea who men will kill, especially when it comes to those who have taken so much from them.” 

“Is this what you wanted? For you to die happy knowing that I will hate myself for the choices I had to make?” Sansa berated her. The choices I made, but I did not have to. I did not have to send them away.

“Do you want me to take her head off?” Philip Snow asked impatiently.

“Your Grace,” the guard behind Sansa corrected him. “Bastard, you forget your courtesies. She is your queen, you must speak to her properly.”

Sansa saw a glimmer of satisfaction appear in Myranda’s eyes that petrified her.

“I wasn’t speaking to her,” the bastard scoffed, unsheathing his sword.

“No, Sansa, I wanted you to die hating yourself,” Myranda whispered.

“Your Grace, get back!” the northman shouted, shoving Sansa behind him before Philip’s sword swung. The sharp steel gutted the man clean through his leather jerkin, his entrails spilling across the earth like red serpents. 

Sansa fell roughly onto her side and whimpered at the impact. She was frozen, watching as Philip lifted his sword again only to take a cloth from his sleeve and wipe the blood from his blade, a victorious grin on his face.

I have done it again. Sandor was right, Arya was right. And now I will die, as will the child inside of me, because I was too angry to listen.

“Get these off me,” Myranda ordered the bastard, lifting her hands up. 

“Not unless you let me fuck her first,” he eyed Sansa lustfully. 

“No, you are mine. Kill her and be done with it. I’ve lost enough men because of this whore,” Myranda spat.

“That’s because she’s prettier and you’re the whore,” he quipped, lifting his sword into the air. Sansa shut her eyes, blinding herself to the man and the weapon that would end her and her child’s life.

Arya. Sandor. I’m sorry, she thought at last. I love you, Sandor. I love you, I love you, I love you. 

Sansa jolted when she heard the blade slash through the air, slicing swiftly through flesh that was not hers. Her eyes shot back open.

Myranda grasped at her throat with her iron-shackled hands, the blood expelling violently between her fingers. Her neck was carved in so deeply that Sansa swore she could see her spine before collapsing onto the ground.

Sansa rushed onto her feet, sprinting no further than two paces before a hand gripped a handful of her hair.

“No, no, my queen,” Philip threw her down onto the ground. Sansa clenched her lower abdomen, not again, please, not again.

“What are you doing?” Sansa whimpered. “You said you served the north...like your father.” She cried, not for her life, but for her child’s, for her sister’s, for her husband’s. Sandor, I love you.

“I serve myself,” he grunted, removing his sword belt and tossing it beside her. “You really are as stupid as they say. The pretty ones usually are.”

Sansa clutched her belly harder. Another one of our children will die all because I didn’t listen to Sandor. He told me not to trust him. He told me.

Her limbs grew heavy, great weights that were petrified from fear. When she pushed her arms against the bastard’s chest as he lowered himself onto her, they fell straight to the ground. 

“Why?” she sobbed, but it was not him she was speaking to, but to herself. Why did you have to send them away?

He sniffed her hair the same way Littlefinger had done to her a hundred times, traveling his hand underneath her dress. “My father didn’t die on the Lannister’s orders, you stupid girl. I chanced upon one of the men from the Brotherhood years ago. It was said that the Hound was put on trial by Beric Dondarrion once in a cave, one of his crimes being that he killed my father. That flaming lord they follow may have found him innocent, but I beg to differ.” His hand reached her sex through her hose, his fingers tracing its outline.

“You can imagine my surprise when the savage I hoped to kill to avenge my father was said to be in Winterfell, returned from the dead. That is why I returned north. Then I learned the daughter of the man my father served his whole life not only fucked the creature, but married him, too,” he grunted as he shoved his hand inside of her smallclothes. “If I had been foolish, I may have fought your husband with steel, but luckily, it only took one letter. 

Lord Hardyng wanted him dead as much as I did. The two of us, a lord and a bastard, worked together to achieve that common goal. As for that dead whore back there, she was part of it, too, but she was playing at her own game. Prior to our departure from Winterfell, I was told to retrieve her near the Crossroads and bring her to you. And it is a good thing I did. I thought your dog would have gone mad on the first day of reading that letter. I assumed he would kill or harm you and then your men would have done the rest. To my dismay, he was not as beastly as I believed. But, that’s what the Crossroads is for. To tie up any loose ends. Cersei’s contribution,” he whispered. “I hope that explanation makes what is about to happen to you a little less confusing.” 

She felt his hand leave her sex to ease himself out of his trousers. Once he freed himself from his constraints, he shifted his hand to lower her hose and smallclothes just enough to place himself between her thighs. Her legs were heavier than stone when she tried to kick him away. He ceased her efforts by smacking her face not once but twice with the front and back of his hand, the taste of blood a cruel reminder of the days in King’s Landing as Joffrey’s plaything. The bastard’s mouth buried into the side of her neck, biting her skin as his cock brushed up against her folds. 

“Get off of me!” she cried out. 

“No one can hear you, you stupid bitch. You ordered your men to continue to march, remember?” he groaned as he guided his cock to her entrance.

I love you, Sandor , she thought, turning her head to the side to blind herself of the disgustingly handsome bastard who would rape her, kill her, and kill her child.

Beside her, Sansa watched as a hilt shimmered in the sunlight, a dagger glistening in the sword belt.

She held her breath and reached with her heavy arm.

The hilt of the weapon felt foreign to her hand, but it pierced him nonetheless. Sansa buried the blade into the side of his neck, leaving only the hilt visible. The bastard pulled himself away, grabbing at the dagger in a panic. When he pulled the steel out, the blood spilled out across her face, hampering her vision and filling her mouth. Now weakened from the fatal attack, Sansa was able to push him off with her feet, crawling away on all fours. She looked over her shoulder and saw that he managed to stand for the briefest of moments before falling face first into the ground, lifeless at last.

It was minutes before Sansa could stand and when she finally did, she watched as her hands shook violently. I killed him, she thought. Sandor, I have killed a man. The sickness that followed overwhelmed her. She fell onto her hands, vomiting and gasping for air in between the painful retches. When her heaving ended minutes later, the sight of the three corpses in front of her sent her to become sick once again. And when that bout of sickness ended, it was the sight of his blood on her hands and the taste of it on her lips that led her to another.

By the time she garnered enough strength to stand on her feet again, Sansa realized that her legs and arms had become not just heavy, but numb, impeding her ability to pull up her clothing. The climb up the hill felt like an impossible feat; she wept as she clenched her belly, ascending the earth slowly, one step, and then another. Please, please be safe, she thought of the child inside her. Sandor told me not to trust him. Why did I send them away?

When she reached the top of the hill, bloody and numb, it took her a moment to comprehend that she would not be able to ride inside the wheelhouse without assistance. Blundering in the process, she released one of the horses that pulled the wheelhouse and tried to mount him, but her limbs were useless and the smell of the blood on her frightened him.

Sansa fell onto the ground, crawling to sit her back against the wheelhouse, and screamed.

Moments later, just as she was drifting off to sleep, she heard the faint beating of hooves hitting the earth. Sandor, he’s come back for me. Sansa opened her eyes and watched as faceless riders were approaching far off in the distance. More than one, Arya has come back, too. My sister. 

Gathering her strength once more, Sansa stood from the earth. However, once she stepped away from the wheelhouse, she lost her balance, her vision, and her consciousness just before hitting the ground.

 


 

She awoke inside the wheelhouse, laying on the furs in the dark. When her eyes opened wider, she noticed a figure sitting beside her, placing a wet cloth on her face as it wiped the blood.

“Sandor,” she whispered. “I love you.”

“No, Your Grace,” a different man’s voice said. “His Grace is not with us. When you did not return, a group of us came back for you. The old gods have heard our prayers, you are all right.” The man took the cloth away from her face. “Your Grace, there…” he paused.

“What?” she asked as her thoughts returned to her. My sister. My husband. The Crossroads. 

“Wildfire. We can’t say exactly where it started but it appears to be coming from the direction of the Crossroads Inn, just east of us. It has spreaded for miles…”

Sansa sat up and lunged towards the window despite the weakness in her body. The sun had set, but it was another light that caught her eye. A light that was the same green hue that poured through her window when Sandor had come to her bedchambers years ago. The eastern horizon was burning. The dawn of wildfire filled the sky.

“Take me east. Now.”

Chapter Text

“I would’ve preferred Sansa to have had me executed rather than make me travel alone with you again,” Arya huffed.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, be quiet,” Sandor grumbled. 

“I know where we are going,” she halted her palfrey. “Do you think I’m stupid? We have been riding for hours and we are not on the Kingsroad. After all that just happened, you still want to go to that stupid inn.”

“I said shut your bloody mouth!” he roared over his shoulder.

“Don’t yell at me like this is all my fault! I didn’t force you to tell Sansa that you wish you raped her! That you wish she was dead!” Arya snapped.

Sandor pulled on the reins of his courser, swinging him back around to position himself directly in front of the girl’s palfrey. “I should take you towards the Trident, buckle you in some armor, and toss you right in. I’d watch you sink and it would bring me more joy than when I killed that buggering butcher’s boy of yours.”

“Not before I poke a hole in your throat and laugh as you bleed to death,” she murmured, urging her palfrey to ride around him.

Brutal little bitch. There’s not a chance we make it to King’s Landing together.

The two rode in silence, the moments passing agonizingly slow, until finally the destination appeared.

The Crossroads Inn stood on the horizon, quaint and isolated. A peculiar sight considering the typical chaos that surrounded the structure from travelers, wagons, and horses alike. The two watched the strange building through the trees in a similar manner as hunters might watch a deer before going in for the kill.

“It’s a trap, you dumb shit,” Arya whispered harshly. “There’s probably a hundred men in there with loaded crossbows waiting for you.”

“Do you see a hundred bloody horses? I count one. Use your head,” he grunted.

“Why go in? We know the truth now. Sansa said she didn’t fuck him...even though she wishes that she had.”

“That’s not what she said, you clever bitch! And we aren’t here to learn the truth. Whoever is inside there is not a friend of your sister’s and until they are dead, they remain a threat. Those blonde cunts got what they wanted, separated me from my wife, and now they will pay for it.”

“I thought you weren’t supposed to kill men out of anger anymore,” she sneered.

“It’s not because of my anger. They may have separated me from my wife, but that’s not where they will stop. That boy lord in the Vale still wants me dead. But don’t you think the Lannister whore will stop there. She won’t stop until the entire north is swept from this gods forsaken world. Your sister won’t be safe while Cersei’s pawns live to serve her. That’s why I need to go in.”

“That’s an excuse!” she spat. “You just want to kill someone because Sansa hates you!” 

Sandor turned in his saddle to face her, his demeanor grim and forbidding.

“She hates me because you couldn’t shut your fucking mouth! You had to escalate the situation! I was a fool to have listened to such a little hateful bitch instead of talking to my own wife. I said things to her, terrible, unforgivable things, but none of it would have happened if you didn’t convince me to not speak to her in the first place! All that bloody did was fester the curiosity, feed into the suspicions! Now some buggering untrustworthy bastard will likely take advantage of me not being there, Sansa can’t even fucking look at me, and I may die in another bloody war before I can ever hope to see her or my child she carries, all because of you!” Sandor turned back around to look at the inn again, exasperated, wondering if the girl just might have been right. 

No, it’s not just anger that led me here. It’s not just about killing. I may be angrier than I have ever been, but I will not kill...not unless they try to kill me first. 

To his surprise, the girl didn’t curse or fight back. When he looked over his shoulder, he saw a single tear fall down her cheek before she swiftly wiped it away with the back of her hand.

Gods, all I know how to do is make these Stark women cry.

“Wait here, girl,” he sighed. “I’m going in.” Sandor urged his horse forward a few paces before hearing her palfrey join in alongside him.

“Not without me,” she said quietly.

The nearer they drew to the inn, the stranger it appeared. Aside from the one horse in the stables, there seemed to be no other living soul. The wars and raids over the years had destroyed many villages and inns, but the Crossroads had always teemed with travelers; the sudden absence of activity was uncanny. 

Sandor rode beside the stables and dismounted Stranger with Arya following closely behind. He unsheathed his sword, surveying every brick, root, and tree for signs of men and steel. The snow had yet to burden the lands this far south as it had in the north, allowing him to have a decent sight of the earth beneath him and the land surrounding him.

“Sandor,” Arya whispered with the little sword, Needle, in her hand. “I see a candle.”

Sandor walked towards the girl, matching his gaze to the nearest window of the inn. Inside, atop one of the trestle tables, was a single candle no larger than the tip of his finger, surrounded by filth. It was near pitch-black inside the inn, aside from the small flame that burnt. “That’ll burn out any minute...must have been lit long ago,” he muttered.

“It’s a fresh flame, though,” she noted. “I do not see any melted wax on the table. Why would anyone use such a small candle?”

Behind them near the stables, their horses began to panic. The two turned abruptly and spotted a hooded man, covered head to toe in dark leather garb, mounting the lone horse that had been inside the stables when they arrived. When he noticed Sandor and Arya watching him, he picked up a pitchfork as he fled, piercing Stranger’s throat with it as he made his escape. Arya jolted forward, approaching the man quicker than he could believe. The garbed man reached inside his pocket and threw a powdered substance at the girl, causing her to cough relentlessly. In tandem, the large courser panicked, kicking so violently from the attack that Arya’s palfrey jolted into the trees behind them. Sandor rushed forward, pulling Arya away from the dying horse before he trampled her to death.

“Seven hells!” he shouted. 

The leather-garbed man departed into the trees as Sandor opened a waterskin for Arya to drink from. The man looked familiar somehow. Sandor’s thoughts were muddled by the sound of his dying horse, Arya shouting, and the image of the man who had fled. 

The leather...the hood...the Alchemist’s Guild dressed like that...he was a pyromancer.

Sandor returned beside the window, looking once more at the flame that was now only a minute away from kissing the surface. Only then did Sandor realize that the wetness atop the tables was not from the spilling of ale or water, but it was something else, something green.

He grabbed Arya’s hand and ran.

“What’s happening?” she coughed.

“Run, girl!” The pain in his right leg returned, but he could not allow it to slow him down. He promised Sansa he would return to her after the war. If he did not run as fast and as long as he could, he would never make it to the war, and he would never make it back to her.

The two ran, hand in hand, swerving past roots, stones, and bare trees, nearly as fast as if they had been on horseback, Arya coughing her lungs out the entire time. The last minute before the explosion seemed to go on forever, time standing in place, allowing them to further their distance, one foot, and then another. Sandor could not recognize how far they had traveled, wondering if it was enough. But he couldn’t look back, not unless he slowed his pace, and he could not risk it, not for one second.

More time passed, more running, and Arya was breathing and coughing so hard he considered stopping.

“Come on, girl!”

“I can’t,” she coughed and spat onto the ground. “My lungs, they’re burning.”

“This whole buggering league will burn if we don’t get out of here!”

They approached a hill and Sandor knew Arya would not be able to climb in her condition. He kneeled down, gesturing for her to get on his back.

“Get on!”

“You won’t be able to run,” she cried in between coughs, her breath short and erratic.

“I am not leaving you behind, girl! Get on!” he shouted. Arya moved forward and wrapped her arms around his neck. When he stood, he was grateful the girl was as small as she was, else the climb would not have been feasible.

Sandor took one step before the sound of the seven hells erupting filled the air.

He wouldn’t look back, he couldn’t look back. He only ran. Sandor had seen wildfire once before, that night the Blackwater burned, and knew there was no hope of survival once it touched you.

One foot forward, then another, step by step, he climbed himself and Arya on top of the hill, out into the vast plain that would lead them back onto the Kingsroad. He could hear the trees flaring up, the sounds of the inn collapsing on itself far off in the distance, louder than should have been possible, as if the wood itself had been screaming from the unnatural substance. 

A minute later, hoping to see he had made progress, he turned around.

The wildfire was consuming the land behind them like some starving beast, devouring everything in its path. And worse, it was expanding. It can’t go on forever, can it? he wondered. No, nothing can live forever, not even wildfire. 

“We need to keep going,” he wheezed. When Arya didn’t respond, he looked over his shoulder and saw that she was unconscious, her arms dangling around his neck, supported only by his hands holding onto her legs. He panicked and laid her onto the earth to check for her heartbeat. As she lay on the thin layer of snow with her eyes closed, she looked no more than a child, a little girl. He lowered his ear beside her mouth and gave a sigh of relief when he heard the faintest sounds of breath entering and leaving her lungs. He picked her up into his arms, cradling her like the small child she was to him, and continued to distance themselves from the spreading chaos behind them.

 


 

The sun set in the west, but the light of all seven hells rose in the east.

Sandor’s pace became unbearably slow once he realized the wildfire no longer extended with the same ferocity. The pungent smells that traveled in the breeze were unsettling; it was a collection of scorched earth, dying trees, and the roasting of animals too slow to escape. 

The girl did not lie. It was a trap. Even I can admit that. But instead of thinking I would be fighting another man’s steel, I had to fight against the grasp of death itself.

It did not take long for him to figure out that the pyromancer was Cersei’s work. The bastard may have spied, Harry may have sent the parchment, Myranda may have facilitated the fallout between him and Sansa, but Cersei was the real threat. He dreaded to think about what else might await them on the road to King’s Landing, what else she could destroy with her precious substance.

And to all you bloody gods, please keep my wife well away from that deadly piss. 

Unknowing of how much time may have passed, he looked over his shoulder and saw the threat was well enough away. For now, at least. He stopped and gently eased the girl onto the ground underneath an isolated elm tree. She writhed on the ground for a moment, but never did she wake up. Sandor sat beside her, his back against the trunk of the tree, and attempted to catch his breath. His lungs were shot, his right leg was swelling, and even his ribs were throbbing again. When he closed his eyes, he saw Sansa. 

He could see her smile, how her blue eyes lit up when she laughed. He could see the multitude of red hues in her hair, its vibrancy as it fell against the porcelain tone of her skin. He could see the curves of her hips, her breasts, her ass, and the one growing again in her belly from his seed. He never wanted to open his eyes again, not when he could see her like this. 

When he felt the ground beneath him beating, a series of vibrations due to an unknown source, his eyes almost opened to observe the oncoming threat. If I open my eyes, she will leave...

But the vibrations in the ground grew stronger and not long after the shouting of men became audible from the south and west. Cersei’s men . It was only then did Sandor surrender the sight of his wife in an attempt to open his eyes. But when he tried, he couldn’t. I am dreaming, he thought. I am dreaming and I can’t wake up. 

The shouts became louder, “This way!” a voice called out. He still could not wake. Wake up, you damn brute. That’s what Sansa likes to call you: a brute. Wake up, or these men will kill you before you can return to her. They’ll kill the little girl beside you. You swore you would return to Sansa. Open your eyes!

And so he did, at last. His vision was blurred and the blackness of the night did nothing to ease his perception of what was around him. He heard a horse whimper not far from him as others approached. My sword, he thought, tracing his hands beside him. Did I drop it? I must have...how else could I have ran so far unless I let it go?

A shadowed figure dismounted off the horse in front of him, its auburn hair blowing in the breeze, somehow visible when no other color was. No, she can’t be here. She went south. She is not supposed to be riding a horse. It can’t be her. This is a dream. Another rider approached and held out a torch behind her, making the curves of her silhouette visible to him, but it was not until she knelt down in front of him could he see her, the horror on her face.

Even in my dreams, she can’t stand the sight of me. Not after what I did...and what I said…

“I’m sorry,” the Sansa in his dream sighed, reaching out a hand to caress the scars on his face. “I am so sorry.” She used her other hand to shake her sister’s leg to wake her. “Arya,” she gasped when the girl did not move. “Get my sister!” the dream Sansa shouted to the men behind her. “Help her!”

Several more figures approached in his dream, picking up the little girl. When she coughed, he heard Sansa sigh and return her focus onto him.

“Gods,” his voice came out in a broken whisper. “I wish you were real.”

Her slender hands felt remarkably authentic when they held his face, her lips felt impossibly genuine when they pressed onto his. 

“Sandor, I love you,” she breathed against his cruel mouth. “I love you.”

“If you were really here, I’d marry you beside this tree a thousand times over,” he put his hands on her waist. “If anyone wakes me from this, I’ll kill them.”

“You’re not asleep,” she whispered. Sandor thought he even heard her giggle. 

“You are so fucking beautiful, I wish you were here,” he groaned. His fingers combed through the strands of her hair, the sensation so real he considered for a brief moment that he might be awake. He pulled her in closer to him, admiring her face, wondering how his unconscious mind could remember every little detail of her. It was then that he saw what looked blood smeared underneath her chin.

No, not this dream again. 

“You’re hurt,” he said in terror, his fingers tracing the blood. 

“It’s not mine. I killed him, Sandor,” she cried. “I killed that bastard.”

Chapter Text

The words Sansa spoke to him on the ride back towards the campsite were considerably more painful than the embrace of wildfire would have been.

That rapist shit of a bastard. I should have gutted him the moment he kissed her hand. If he were not already dead...

“I can still feel it,” Sansa interrupted his thoughts. “The way it felt when I...stuck the dagger in his neck. I’ve seen a great deal of death over the years, but being the one to cause it…” she trailed off,  dropping her face into her hands. The two rode together on a large grey courser, him behind her, holding onto the reins as she leaned back into his chest. 

Only my little bird would kill her own rapist and still feel like a monster. 

“It’s all right, little bird. That bastard deserved it.” He deserved much fucking worse, and from me . “I hate myself for not being there.”

“You weren’t there because I sent you away,” she sniffled.

“You should have done more than just that after what I did. After what I said,” Sandor sighed. 

“It was wrong of me to say what I did, Sandor. I have never felt that truly angry towards you or my sister. What I said...that I should have--”

“Girl, you don’t need to apologize for that. I know why you said it. I was a fool to question your loyalty. I allowed myself to believe that maybe--”

“I don’t love you?” she finished. “I can’t imagine a life where I don’t love you.” Sansa looked over her shoulder and placed a tender kiss on his mouth. The sign of affection stirred a deep desire for her, but he did not dare go there already, not after she had nearly been raped again.

“Seven hells, no matter how many times you say it I can’t understand it.” Sandor removed one hand from the reins to drape her hair over her right shoulder, baring the left side of her neck to place a kiss. “I will never lie to you again,” he whispered in her ear. “I will never hide anything from you, ever. Do you hear me? I will die for you, girl. You only need to ask,” he kissed her neck again and heard a faint moan escape her mouth, the sound stirring his cock. 

Gods, how am I supposed to refrain myself when she sounds like that?

Despite his desire to take her right there on horseback, he removed his mouth and returned his attention to riding towards the army’s campsite, now visible in the horizon. Sandor looked back at where they had come; the wildfire’s hunger must have been sated, for the jade glow in the black sky began to lessen, and was now replaced by the familiar stars that lived in the eastern sky.

“My sister, what happened?” Sansa asked, her tone melancholy. Sandor watched ahead as one of the northmen rode with the girl slumped unconscious against his chest, coughing frequently, but never waking.

“It was one of those cunts from that guild, the pyromancers or whatever fucking warlocks serve her. I saw him throw a powder in your sister’s face. She could hardly breathe, she just coughed and wheezed, I thought she might--” his throat felt tight as he recalled that moment. 

The wolf bitch might be the most stubborn, angry, frustrating girl I have ever met, but gods that one is like a daughter to me.

Sansa seemed to notice his sorrow despite her not being able to see his face. He felt her snuggle deeper into his chest, as if his affections for her sister made her love him more. “I will never forgive myself if she is harmed.”

I won’t forgive myself. I should have never allowed her to come with me to that buggering inn. Gods, we fought there once before, the day a part of me died. And all she did was leave me. But I could have never done the same to her.

“She will be all right,” he said, though he did not have any knowledge of what it could have been that the pyromancer threw at her. “Her cough has died down, she breathes, she even moves. Your sister has faced worse.”

“You’re right. She is strong,” she sighed. “Did the horses--”

“Hers bolted. Stranger, the poor beast was impaled by a bloody pitchfork...an awful way for him to go.”

“Oh,” Sansa sounded deeply saddened by his words. “He may have been wild, but he was a good horse.”

“Aye, little bird, that he was.” The thought of the dead stallion made him sad, too. He’d traveled on his back for years; the loss hit him harder than he could have imagined. 

We all die, valar morghulis, as that child likes to say.

The party Sansa had ridden out with approached the camp late into the night, no more than a few hours before the dawn. The campsite was surprisingly restless. Perhaps many of the men believed that the wildfire would continue to grow and light them up any moment now. 

And let’s all pray to those bloody gods for that to not happen.

Sansa had fallen asleep on the ride back with her head resting against his shoulder. Despite the pain presenting itself in his body, he had never felt more comfortable than he had then. Once he approached the wheelhouse he woke her, dismounting onto his sore legs before picking her up to carry her inside. It was a welcoming sight after the long ride, a flickering candle in the sconce, and a multitude of thick furs on the floor.

“Lay my sister inside the wheelhouse, too. I want to be near her for when she wakes,” Sansa said sleepily.

Aye, and it will ensure that I keep my hands off you if I know that girl can wake up any minute and slash my throat for defiling her sister in her presence.

Sandor placed Sansa onto the furs and lingered long enough inside to watch as she slipped out of her dress. He felt his cock stir again and forced himself to walk outside and find her sister before he gave in to the sight of her. 

The northmen had laid Arya inside one of the larger tents beside the wheelhouse and Sandor was tempted to leave her there and have privacy with his wife. However, he knew better than to disobey Sansa given everything that had occurred. When he picked the child up, she stirred in his arms and even opened her eyes slightly as she coughed, but fell back asleep before he reached the wheelhouse.

Attempting to make as little noise as possible, Sandor opened the door and laid the girl atop the furs to the furthest left side of the floor, covering her with another set of furs to keep her warm. Afterwards, he stripped himself of his boots, leather jerkin, and tunic before crawling in behind Sansa who was now fast asleep. He pulled her against his body, feeling her ass tuck into his groin, and realized he had made a mistake.

The closeness of her, her hair against his face, the softness of her skin, her body now only covered in her silken smallclothes, was painfully tempting. His cock ached and he could not prevent it from stiffening against her ass. Sandor looked over his shoulder to observe the sister; she was as still as a corpse back there, a leg's length away from him and Sansa, and she faced away from them. The sight of her deep slumber had given him confidence that if Sansa would allow it, they could certainly make it happen.

You really are a fucking brute, he told himself. Sansa was nearly raped again and all you can think about is shoving your cock into the poor girl. 

Sandor grunted at his thoughts and forced himself to close his eyes to find sleep.

His will lasted no longer than a minute when Sansa pushed her ass closer into his stiff cock and whimpered at the realization of his desire.

“I wish that were inside me,” she whispered, brushing her ass against it once more.

The words acted like a knife slicing the leash off a rabid dog. He reached across her waist and grabbed her breasts through her smallclothes, another whimper leaving her mouth. “It can be in you right now, girl.”

“No,” she pouted. “Arya will see us.” Sandor looked over his shoulder once more at the girl, still and silent.

“Her eyes look closed to me.” Sandor grunted when his hand traveled down to meet the warmth between her thighs.

“You’re awful,” she moaned.

When Sandor shifted to remove her smallclothes, he saw that Sansa was already pulling them down her legs. The eagerness she displayed sent his cock into a painful throb, begging to be buried inside of her. 

Here I thought she hated me, that I’d never have her again, and here she is as impatient as I am.

Sansa reached a hand behind her to tug at his trousers until his cock was free, yearning and aching at the touch of her dainty fingers. He muffled a moan into his hand, looking over at the small girl across from them to be sure she had not woken. When she remained motionless, he lifted Sansa’s leg into the air, guiding his cock into her entrance from behind.

The two moaned as their bodies connected, suppressing the sounds of their pleasure, hers into the furs and his into the side of her neck. Somehow the understanding that he had to be quieter, softer, and stiller made their lovemaking more thrilling. He lost himself inside her, the intensity of his thrusts building despite his intentions to remain steady. Sansa must have lost herself, too, for she was whimpering shamelessly into the furs each time he entered her. 

Sandor had hardly heard the faint rustling of furs over the sounds of their lovemaking, followed by a sharp gasp and coughing.

“Seven bloody hells!” Arya coughed. “Is this my punishment for not trusting you?” 

Sansa pushed herself up with her elbow and shifted to pull his cock out of her. 

“Arya,” she gasped. But it was not out of embarrassment or shame for what they had been doing, it was a sigh of relief that her sister had finally woken. 

And what buggering timing, too.

Sansa wrapped one of the furs around her nude body and crawled over to sit beside her sister, embracing her tightly. 

“I’m sorry, sister. Are you all right? How do you feel?” Sansa worried.

“Sick,” she replied, scowling at Sandor. He laid on his back, the furs covering his lower half, and suppressed the urge to clout the girl on the head.

“Do you know what it was? What that man threw at you?” Sansa pulled away to sit beside her.

“No,” Arya coughed again, her glare leaving Sandor. “My lungs were burning, but now it is starting to feel better.”

“I’m so--”

“No, Sansa. You don’t need to do that. If anyone should apologize, it should be him,” Arya said blankly. Sandor hastily sat up, frowning at the girl.

“Me? What the bloody hells are you--”

Arya could not hold back her laughter. The expression on her face was as rare of a sight as the dragons had been when they flew over Winterfell. Sansa joined in and he could only lay back down, shut his eyes, and ignore the laughter. He couldn’t deny that he found humor in the girl’s jape, but of course he would not let her know that.

When Arya began to have another coughing fit, Sansa surveyed the room to find the waterskin.

“Here,” she handed it to her sister. Arya took a long drink before glancing at him again.

“Thank you, Sandor,” she said kindly. “Thank you for not leaving me.”

The words that left her mouth sounded even stranger to him than her laugh had. 

Did the wolf bitch die back there only to come back a proper little lady? I died back there, years ago, when I was the Hound. But I’m not much different. Perhaps she won't be too different from a wolf, either.

“But if you ever fuck my sister near me again, I’ll put my sword through your throat,” she casually added.

No, she has not changed at all.

Sansa and Arya spent the better part of an hour talking about what had happened. Arya nearly broke the bench when she learned of the bastard attempting to rape and kill her sister, slamming it so hard with her fist he wondered if the girl really was somehow his daughter. When Sansa had told her that she was the one to kill him, Arya’s mouth gaped open. 

You?” she asked incredulously, the corners of her mouth slowly forming a smile.

But that smile faded when Sansa started crying again. The wolf bitch may be a relentless killer, but her older sister was not. It would be difficult for her to live with the fact that she killed a man, even if he was a worthless rapist, but Sandor knew he would be there to comfort her every step of the way.

“I am going to clean up, I can see first light,” Arya said, as she headed towards the door.

“Good, bugger off. I’d like to finish fucking my wife,” he mumbled. Sansa giggled but Arya responded by kicking his head as she passed him.

Before Arya could open the door, a tapping noise came from the window.

“Who the fuck is that?” Sandor groaned.

Arya opened the shutters to the window and a crow flew in, perching itself on the bench beside Sandor.

“Get that thing out of here!” he shouted at Arya.

“Back!” it croaked. 

Sandor saw Arya’s eyes grow wide, turning to Sansa only to see a similar expression. They heard it, too.

“Back!” it croaked again, louder. 

“Do you hear it?” Sansa asked them. 

Arya stood frozen before slowly approaching the crow. “Look,” she whispered. “The eye. It has a third eye.”

Sandor squinted and felt his heart pause. A bloody three-eyed crow. 

“Back! Back! Back!” it cried.

“Why does it keep saying that?” Sansa asked apprehensively.

“Back!”

“Bran?” Arya whispered to the crow.

“Back!” it croaked even louder. “Fire!”

Chapter Text

The three-eyed crow never returned, but its words never left.

Back, Fire, Back, Fire.  

The scouts Sansa had sent out after the encounter returned a week later, shortly after first light. Sandor was against halting the column, against sending out scouts, and against delaying their travels to King’s Landing, but Sansa was convinced that she would regret not taking the precaution. After the wildfire that had been planted at the Crossroads, she was not willing to take any risks and march her entire army into another stash somewhere along the Kingsroad. 

Arya had known with certainty that it was Bran inside of the crow. Although Sansa was convinced her brother had abilities, she could not grasp the concept of her brother being a crow. Nevertheless, she heeded its message. Sandor, on the other hand, thought it to be a trick; a ploy by Cersei wanting them to turn around and weaken Daenerys’ forces.

Fortunately, he did not put up a fight; he did not stop Sansa from giving her commands for a group of ten scouts to march south of the Kingsroad and check for any sign of danger within a three-days ride. If nothing turned up, Sansa would have no choice but to continue to the capital, warning or not. Despite the scouts’ return to the campsite without harm, it did little to ease her anxiousness.

“And?”

“We found nothing, Your Grace. We checked the nearby inns, huts, alongside the road...it is clear for days south,” the captain of the guards said.

I halted my men for a week all because of a crow Arya convinced me was our little brother. Have I gone mad?

“It’s time, girl,” Sandor whispered beside her. 

“There could still be something, perhaps--”

“If we don’t get these men outside of King’s Landing and into Daenerys’ formation within the fortnight, it’s not Cersei’s fire we will need to worry about,” he muttered.

He’s right. If I turn my men around, destroy the honor of the Starks, to heed the crow’s message, what will Daenerys see as a fit punishment for failing to assist in her war? 

“We cannot stay here any longer. We will continue our march south today. Ready your horses and let the others know,” Sansa announced.  

“Yes, Your Grace,” the man nodded before riding throughout the camp, repeating her orders.

“Have you seen my sister?” Sansa asked, taking Sandor’s hand into her own.

“Aye, with that bloody boy,” he mumbled. Sansa was in no laughing mood, but she could not help but smile at his callous attitude towards Gendry. Sandor was undeniably protective of her sister much like her own father had been with her as a girl. Though the two may have a hostile relationship, Sansa found herself more drawn to him because of it. 

He will make a wonderful father whether he believes so or not.

The two were located outside of the camp, along with the sounds of steel hitting steel. Arya and Gendry practiced with edged swords, but her sister was clearly better trained, slashing at him left and right and laughing as he yielded.

“Arya!” Sansa called out. 

Arya looked over her shoulder, wiping the sweat from her brow with the back of her hand. Gendry took advantage of the sudden distraction and swung his sword at her feet. It was a feeble attempt; Arya countered his attack with Needle and kicked him onto the ground.

“Gods, I yield. I’ll stick with my warhammer,” he groaned. 

“That would be wise,” Arya quipped with a girlish grin, sheathing her sword before making her way towards her sister. Sansa caught the young man on the ground smiling as Arya walked away, a smile only a lover could wear. When she looked over at Sandor, she noticed that he was frowning at the boy on the ground.

“What is it?” Arya asked, coughing into the crease of her elbow.

And there’s that cough, ever present.

“The scouts have returned. They say the Kingsroad looks clear,” Sansa said with discernable doubt. Arya did not seem to be convinced of it either.

“Bran wanted you and your army to go back for a reason. Though it makes no matter to me what lies south; it won’t stop me from killing Cersei,” she said casually.

“Why didn’t your three-eyed crow of a brother carry a bloody parchment with a message instead? Sure would have been more useful than two words,” he scoffed.

“Perhaps he couldn’t,” Sansa rebuked. “My brother is not a fool, Sandor. This is a message Bran did not want intercepted. There must be a reason.”

“Are we leaving today or not?” Arya asked impatiently.

“Yes,” Sansa sighed. “Inform your lover, we will ride within the hour.”

“Your lover?” Sandor asked the girl cynically. “Is that what he is, now? I thought he was just some lovesick pup who forged your weapons.”

“Why don’t you mind your business? It’s bad enough you shoved your cock into my sister around me, doesn’t mean you get to start worrying about where Gendry’s is going,” Arya spat.

“Is that the way of it?” he growled. “Boy!” Sandor pushed the girl aside and made his way towards the young man. Sansa rolled her eyes before taking her sister’s arm into hers, pulling her gently to return towards the camp.

“Let them go at it, I want to talk to you alone.”

Arya looked over her shoulder and grunted when the shouting of the two men became audible. 

“What is wrong? Are you all right?” Arya asked.

“That’s what I wanted to ask you. You still cough from time to time,” Sansa turned to watch as Arya winced.

“It’s nothing,” she mumbled. 

“Arya. No more lying to me, do you understand?”

“I’m not lying,” she huffed. “My throat hurts occasionally but I am all right, really.” 

Sansa inspected the girl’s face briefly before giving up on the interrogation. “As soon as we can find a maester, I want you examined, is that clear?” 

“Yes! Gods! Between you and your stupid husband I feel as much a child as when mother and father were still alive!” Arya stomped off towards her tent.

Sansa placed her hands on her swelling belly. We need a maester, and soon, she thought. Bran needed their maester at Winterfell more than they did prior to departing; he suffered fits from his visions once before so it was necessary that he have proper care while they were away. 

The maester’s absence was not deeply felt until the altercation between her and Philip. Sansa was sure her struggles with him would have led to another loss of her child. The bastard had hit her, pressed his full weight onto her, thrown her onto the ground. But despite all of this, Sansa never experienced the pain and blood she had with their first child. Instead, her belly became rounder, fuller, and her body took on the same changes it had last time when she was with child.

Sandor’s child still lives within me, she thought. It was the only thought that gave her hope, and it would be the only thought to give her hope, as they made their way south once again.

 


 

Even now, the three-eyed crow never returned. 

Sansa wondered why that might have been. Perhaps Bran was wrong, or confused. Perhaps it was never Bran at all, just a strange creature who spoke nonsense. Perhaps Sandor was right; maybe it was a trick, a scheme, to send them home. No matter how many times she told herself that, it just never felt right. 

Back, Fire, Back, Fire.

The following fortnight passed without issues aside from the occasional bickering between members of the northern houses, typically resulting in a duel of sorts until it had been settled with gloves or steel. The fighting between the men, mad with exhaustion after their lengthy travels to the south, was nowhere near as concerning as Arya’s worsening cough. Each day Sansa offered for her sister to come ride with her inside the wheelhouse, and each day she refused. 

Had I not sent her away, she would have never developed this cough. I owe it to her to get her the help she needs. I just wish she would accept it.

Sansa spent most of her hours beside the open window of the wheelhouse with Sandor riding beside her on his new large grey courser he had yet to name. Though his company was always dear to her, the crow’s croaking and her sister’s coughing seemed to drown out everything he talked about.

Back, Fire. Cough.

When King’s Landing finally approached on the horizon, Sansa felt herself become tense, as if her body and mind alike remembered all of the cruelties that she experienced inside those walls, begging for her to return back home, just as the three-eyed crow had.

Far off in the distance, Daenerys’ armies were camped out across a vast spread of land, the Targaryen banners waving proudly, red and black. The Dothraki were present, as were the Unsullied, but Sansa saw no sign of the dragons. 

Of course not, she will not bring them until it is time. Until it is time for yet another bloody war.

When her column halted beside Daenerys’ camp, Sandor dismounted to help Sansa out of the wheelhouse and walked with her towards the largest of the black tents positioned nearest to the Kingsroad.

As they walked inside, Sansa was taken aback by the extravagance of it all. There were Myrish carpets on the floor, several tables of wood she did not know the name of, and each of the chairs had a back carved in the likeness of the Targaryen sigil: a three-headed dragon. 

Sitting behind the largest of the tables, pouring himself a massive goblet of wine, was Sansa’s first husband, Tyrion Lannister. 

“Ah, Your Grace!” the dwarf greeted her warmly, downing the goblet before standing from the table. “What a welcome sight for sore eyes. I swear, staring at that despicable city is almost as painful as smelling it.” Tyrion waddled across the tent towards the entrance, taking her hand and placing a kiss on her fingers despite Sandor’s snarling. “You look radiant, Sansa.” Tyrion’s eyes squinted as he glanced at her belly. “Are you with child?” he grinned at Sandor.

“Yes,” she answered warily. Sansa could not shake her uneasiness, feeling just as small of a girl she had been the first time she visited the south.

“Good work, Clegane,” Tyrion patted him on the arm. “Though I am sure you don’t consider the process of impregnating your wife work. Afterall, who would when you’re married to the northern beauty, Sansa Stark?” he japed kindly though Sandor did not see it that way.

“Where is your dragon queen?” he snarled.

“To be honest, I am not quite sure. She comes and goes,” he looked puzzled. “Though your brother is here,” he said to Sansa. “Or cousin, rather. Podrick!” he shouted.

The boy flew into the tent so quickly it startled Sansa, sending her to fall against Sandor’s chest.

“Find Jon...Aegon....you know who I am talking about,” Tyrion sighed.

“Y-yes, my lord,” he bowed, his eyes permanently fixated on the floor.

“Now,” Tyrion began as the boy sprinted out of the tent. “There is much to talk about since we last spoke. Oh forgive me,” he gestured towards the chair beside them. “My dear Sansa, please sit. I have lost my manners from staring too long at the impending doom that is King’s Landing.”

“Thank you,” she mumbled as she sat in the chair. Sandor followed and stood behind her, his hands resting on her shoulders. 

“Now, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’, is that the saying? Whatever it is, it appears Cersei has gained more friends, and you more enemies,” the Imp pulled up a chair to sit in front of her.

“What are you running your mouth on about?” Sandor groaned.

“Varys has whispers, even in the midst of a war...even in my sister’s own Red Keep. I’m sure you know the Knights of the Vale have joined my sweet sister’s forces,” he shrugged. “For now, at least. Whispers say they’ll flee if you live,” he pointed at Sandor. 

“Bugger him and his knights,” he muttered. 

“Why are they still here then?” Sansa interrupted. 

“I would assume it is because our dear Cersei has reason to believe that your husband perished. Even if he had not, she would have informed that ridiculously proud fool Lord Hardyng that the attempt was successful. What was it said to have killed the Hound? Ah yes, the wildfire at the Crossroads. I quite liked that inn. It’s a shame it had to be a casualty of war.”

“Aye, I nearly got caught up in that shite with the wolf girl,” he spat onto the ground. “That’ll be a surprise for your cunt of a sister when she sees my face in this bloody war.”

The thought of Sandor fighting brought tears to her eyes. Control yourself, do not act like a little girl. You are a queen.

Tyrion seemed to notice this, his demeanor becoming suddenly softer. “Cersei has no chance in this war. She knows this, but she will not surrender. As soon as Daenerys’ dragons fly above King’s Landing, half of Cersei’s men will flee. I do not expect this to be a long war,” he smiled reassuringly at Sansa.

Wars do not have to be long to kill men, to kill my husband.

“And the wedding?” Sansa asked him, desperate to change the subject. “How did it go between Jon and Daenerys?”

His expression was foreboding. “The wedding...yes. Perhaps I should have discussed that first. It did not happen.” Tyrion shifted in his seat.

“What? It did not happen?” Sandor lashed out.

“No,” the dwarf pulled at his collar as if it were too tight. “Jon...Aegon... him, he cannot seem to do it. In his defense, he grew up a northern bastard, and northerners are not keen on the idea of marrying their aunt.”

“He has to marry her,” Sansa blurted out. “If he doesn’t…” 

If he doesn’t, how else will he control her temper? How else can he persuade her to accept our demand for independence peacefully?

“Daenerys will not give up the throne. Varys and I...we have noticed her become, how can I phrase this...unstable and impulsive. If he refuses to marry her, well, he may have the better claim, for now..” he trailed off, eyeing her in a strange way. Sansa’s hands fled to the swell in her belly without thought.

“For now,” she whispered, interpreting the meaning.

“Bugger you with a hot poker, you’re scaring my wife with your crafty little words. If that bitch were to harm this bastard-turned-king, every Northman would come for her head,” he spat.

“Have you tried to talk to her?” Sansa asked with haste. “Has she said anything about the North?” 

Tyrion’s expression said it all. A grim, sorrowful look.

“Sansa!” a shout came from outside the tent. Jon.

He rushed inside and picked her up from the chair, kissing her cheek so deeply that it felt like he was telling her his final farewell. “You need to go,” he panted. Sansa had not noticed how weary he had been, but his face was bright red, sweat was dripping from his brow, and his breath was ragged.

“What? Go?” she asked bewildered. 

“She lied to me. She,” he paused to take in a deep breath. “She wanted you, him, your men, to come here, not to fight for her, but to--”

The sound of the sky shattering with the beating of leathern wings muted all other sounds, twin beasts shrieking so violently in the air above them that Sandor’s arms pulled her away from Jon’s grasp.

“What did you do?” Tyrion yelled at Jon.

“She ordered me to kill you,” he wheezed. “Both of you. She said if I killed you, she would let your men live if they bent the knee. She promised me she would not harm you, but when you arrived--”

A louder, sharper set of shrieks deadened every other sound in existence, and when those faded, the sounds of Dothraki screamers replaced it, hooves beating in unison, drifting, and fading.

“Find Arya! You need to leave! Now!” Jon shouted. 

The next noise was not a shriek, but a sound like that of a forceful wind escaping a furnace the size of a castle, an instrument so powerful the ground beneath them shook.

Sansa ducked underneath Sandor’s grip and ran towards the entrance of the tent, peeking out. The Dothraki were riding towards King’s Landing, begging for blood. The Unsullied marched ahead in unison, prepped in formation for war. And her men...

She rushed outside of the tent before Sandor could grab her and ran towards where they had halted.

Sansa stood, watching in horror, as the column of northmen burned.

Back, she remembered the crow. Fire.

Chapter Text

She dreamed of home. 

Sansa’s hands stroked her belly, the bulge of her growing child no longer. She gasped and pressed her fingers through her dress, searching desperately for the swell. Instead, Sansa heard the sound of a child’s laughter approaching from behind her.

When she turned around, Sansa was in the godswood at Winterfell. The light from the sun trickled between the blood red leaves of the weirwood and landed on her face, as warm and gentle as a kiss. She heard the childish laughter again, a girlish, innocent laughter, and searched anxiously for the source. A man’s voice followed, a voice as familiar to her as the godswood itself.

“Sandor?” she called out.

“Come here you!” he shouted playfully.

The child laughed again but this time ran through the trees and beamed at Sansa.

The girl could not have been older than three years old. She had dark wavy hair that curled at her shoulders and striking blue eyes that made Sansa feel as if she was peering in a looking glass. The child ran up to her enthusiastically and hugged her legs so tightly Sansa nearly fell. She placed a hand on the child’s head, wondering who she could have been, as Sandor appeared out of the trees.

“Sandor,” Sansa muttered. “What--”

“Running back to your mother, eh, girl?” Sandor strode over to them and picked the child up into his arms, causing the girl to giggle until her face turned nearly as red as the weirwood leaves.

Mother? Sansa studied the girl and gasped when she saw the likeness. She was half her, half Sandor, and so beautiful.

“Down!” the little girl giggled. “Down!” 

Sandor kissed the girl on forehead before letting her run off to throw rocks into the black pool beside the weirwood tree. He pulled Sansa close to him, enclosing her against his chest with his arms, and kissed her in the same spot he had on their wedding night.

“What is happening?” she said as their lips parted.

“I’m kissing my wife.” He returned to her eagerly.

“Is she our daughter?” she asked, overwhelmed with disorientation. 

“What is this, a new game of yours?” he chuckled. Sansa had never seen him so lively, so happy.

“I’m confused, Sandor,” she whispered, holding his face between her hands, inspecting every detail. This must be real.

“Arya!” he shouted, peering behind her.

Sansa turned around to look for her little sister, her eyes frantically searching over every root, trunk, and stone in sight, but she was nowhere to be seen. The little girl turned around and gave them an apologetic look, her sleeve dripping wet from having reached into the warm water.

“Gods, this girl,” Sandor sighed. “Come here, little one.”

Our daughter’s name is...Arya?

The girl ran to them and began to cry when she held up her drenched sleeve. Out of instinct, Sansa picked her up and shushed softly into her ear, petting the curls that fell at the back of her neck.

“My daughter,” Sansa murmured in disbelief. The child felt as real in her arms as Sandor appeared to her eyes, every detail and sensation beyond what her unconscious mind could possibly be able to muster up.

Sandor opened his hands and took the girl back into his arms, wiping the tears from her face tenderly with his fingers. “I’ll take the girl back to our chambers to change before supper,” he said, leaning in to embrace Sansa once more. She looked at her husband and child, both staring at her fondly, and felt like she would begin to weep.

“Am I dead?” Sansa wondered out loud. 

“Go on with your praying, my wife. We’ll be waiting for you,” he spoke over his shoulder, seemingly unaware of the question she asked.

“Wait,” she said. He did not seem to hear that either. “Sandor!” 

The two departed through the trees as the sunlight that had poured between the weirwood branches vanished. Sansa tried to run after them but her legs became as heavy as they had when the bastard meant to rape her. She crossed the earth slowly, watching in bewilderment as the trees around her withered, their leaves cascading around her feet as thick as a corpse. Each step she took was heavier than the last, grunting loudly with every effort. 

When Sansa finally exited the godswood, she found that she was no longer in Winterfell but in King’s Landing. Two massive shadows slid along the ground in front of her, shadows of the beasts that soared in the sky, shrieking and crying in deafening pitches. One of the shadows faded into nothing, and then the other, leaving nothing but the echoes of their screeching resonating in her mind. 

The silence afterwards was replaced by the howling of a thousand burning men followed by a thunderous blast as the earth collapsed in on itself.

 


 

She awoke to silence.

“Sandor?” her voice came out in a whisper.

Sansa rubbed her eyes, her eyelids as heavy as if she had slept for months. When she sat up from the ground and scanned her environment, she saw that she was in the great, lavish tent again, unharmed and unburnt. Her hands fled to her belly, comforted when she felt her fingers caress over the swell. My daughter, Arya.

“Sandor?” 

Nothing was out of place inside the tent, nothing indicated that Daenerys’ dragons had burned her men alive, and nothing indicated there was a war. But the prolonging silence, the void of even the most natural of sounds, indicated that something worse had happened than just a war.

“Sandor? Jon? Arya?” 

Why can’t I remember?

She sat there on the Myrish carpets and looked around for something, anything that could trigger her memory, but not one image would return to her. Sansa pushed herself onto her feet and headed towards the entrance of the tent, eager to escape the quietness that managed to haunt her. She took a deep breath before lifting the black flap, mumbling a prayer to the old gods with her eyes closed. 

No, they can’t hear me, not here. They never heard me here, nor had they heard my father.

Sansa departed the soundless canvas and saw that dusk had fallen, a light southern snow beginning to drift from the sky. Despite the distance and the setting light, Sansa found herself dazed watching green smoke snake out from the walls of King’s Landing.

Wildfire. 

Sansa fell onto the ground and became sick, retching up nothing other than her stomach bile. 

“Sandor?” she shouted, spitting onto the ground. “Arya? Jon?”

Nothing moved, nothing spoke, nothing lived. 

She stood, wrapping her arms around her belly, and made her way towards a field of ashes. My men. Hundreds of corpses were cooked, blackened by the flames, unrecognizable, their steel and armor melted off their bodies. Her eyes skimmed over the field, her tears welling, her heart pounding, searching for any sign of life.

“Sandor?” she wept. “Arya? Jon?”

Only the silence responded.

She continued walking, tripping over scorched limbs and piles of liquified steel that had solidified once again. It was only when she made her way through the graveyard of ashes, counting each body she crossed, did Sansa realize it was not the entire column who had burned.

Some were able to get away . My men, our northern houses, are not all dead. What happened? You need to remember!

Sansa looked up into the darkening sky, the cold flakes kissing where her tears fell, and felt her senses stir. Whether it was the gods hearing her prayers or only the snow, the memories flooded back to her, submerging her, stealing the breath from her lungs. 

Jon.

She remembered running out of the tent, escaping Sandor’s grasp, and watching as her men burned right in front of her. The croaking of the crow was all she could hear, the two words louder than the agonizing screams of the men. Sansa was blinded by the sun then, but she could see her, Daenerys Targaryen, mounted atop her black beast prepared for war.

She then remembered how Sandor had grabbed her, turning her around to face him, her breast heaving as it pressed against his ribs. “Look at me,” he pleaded. “Only look at me, girl.”

“Sandor,” she cried.

“I have loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you, do you know that?” Sandor spoke to her over the approaching beating of leather wings. “Look at me!” he shouted when she tried to turn over her shoulder, watching as the creature flew in closer. “All those years we were apart, never did I go one bloody day without thinking of you. You are the most beautiful, clever, selfless woman to ever bless this cursed world,” he yelled over the booming sounds above. “I will keep loving you even after I’m dead, do you hear me? When I burn for eternity in all seven hells, that won’t even stop me from loving you.”

When he kissed her lips, Sansa understood this would be their last moment together, anticipating the heat of the flames that would end the tale of the romance between the daughter of Winterfell and the Hound, only to be told again someday in the written histories by some maester who they did not know.

The stirring winds fell over them and then Jon screamed. 

“No!” he bellowed. “Daenerys, no!” 

Sansa could feel Jon’s back against her own, blocking her from Daenerys’ wrath.

The wings battered in the air thrice more before Daenerys uttered a word, a word Sansa did not understand, but a word she surmised would be the last she would ever hear.

“Dracarys,” she hissed. 

Sansa shut her eyes and buried her face against Sandor’s chest, but the scorching hell she expected to rain over them never came.

“Dracarys!” Daenerys shouted again. The dragon responded with a defiant screech.

“Dracarys! Burn them!” she roared.

The dragons won’t kill Jon, Sansa realized.

In unison, Sansa listened as the two dragons groaned a deep, terrible noise, as if they were cursing their own mother. The beating of the wings soared overhead, casting massive twin shadows onto the earth, making their way to soar over King’s Landing. 

Jon had saved us, she remembered. But that was the last memory she had.

Returning to the present, Sansa looked towards King’s Landing again, wondering where the dragons had gone. All she saw was smoke, green smoke, and something else…

Out of the gates, far away, men and horses alike were departing out of the city towards the Kingsroad. Sansa could not tell whether it was Lannister men, her men, Dothraki, or Unsullied; in the dark, this far away, all men looked the same.

“Sandor!” she shouted, praying it was him escaping the walls. “Sandor! Arya! Jon!” 

The silence having died, Sansa walked slowly towards the walls of the city, her arms still clutching the child she prayed still grew inside of her. Minutes passed and more men left the city, but none saw her. None came to her.

Until one finally did.

“Sansa!” a voice shouted. The distance made the voice no louder than a whisper and she could not discern who it was. She walked faster as he approached closer, galloping atop a massive stallion at an unnatural pace.

When he pulled in the reins to slow down, the earth underneath the horse’s hooves erupted into chunks of grass, snow, and rock from the sudden halt.

Jon.

“Sansa, give me your hand.” He was covered in blood and ash, as was the stallion he mounted.

“Jon, where is Sandor? Where is Arya?” Sansa felt her heart stop once she saw his face become grim.

“Arya...I don’t know,” he groaned. “Get on, Sansa. We can’t stay here. We need to leave,” he held out his hand, drenched in blood.

“Where’s Sandor?” Sansa wept.

“Sansa, you need to--”

“Where is he? Where is my husband?” she screamed, slapping Jon’s hand away.

“We were going inside the walls. We had to kill the Dothraki, Daenerys’ army, the Lannister army, everyone Sansa. Everyone but us,” he paused. “Many of the men fled once the dragons came. She wanted to burn them all, Sansa.”

“Jon, where is he?” she spoke in a harsh whisper, clenching tighter onto her belly.

“The Knights of the Vale fled from the gates when she started burning the city. Harry was here with them, he commanded them.”

“Jon,” she pleaded.

“Sandor saw him before we entered the gates and pulled him off his horse--”

“Jon,”

“They took him, Sansa.”

Chapter Text

Sandor was blinded, a burlap bag tossed over his head, and his hands cuffed together by hempen rope. He rode on horseback, the rope that was gnawing on his wrists tied to the reins. Hours had passed and Sandor could do nothing other than listen to the men’s mumbling around him, feeling his rage quickening.

“The dragon queen is dead!” one man exclaimed. 

“I saw the Imp burned alive,” another muttered.

“No you didn’t, you lying fool. I saw him ahorse heading south before we left,” one spat.

“Cersei set up wildfire all throughout King’s Landing. She wanted the city to burn before the dragons could do it for her. Fucking bitch could have killed us all.”

“It had to have been Euron Greyjoy who shot the black and red one.”

“Hey Hound! Where’s your wife’s sweet cunt? My blood is up and I hear she likes men with red hair!” The column of men joined in laughter.

“She was likely burnt with the bulk of the bloody northerners,” uttered yet another. “A shame, I had eyes for her since she was Littlefinger’s bastard.”

“Eh, her cunt was probably ruined after the dog and Dondarrion had their way with her. She would have been loose as a whore,” a man chortled. “Why else do you think Littlefinger put it in her ass?”

“Enough!” Sandor shouted, stirring up more snickering amongst the men.

Sansa, he thought. Gods, please let her sister, Jon, or even that bloody dwarf have managed to help her.

“You were supposed to be dead,” a voice directly beside him said.

The voice was no stranger’s. It belonged to the arrogant young lord that Sandor had once risked his life to save from being slaughtered by Lord Nestor Royce. The same lord that Sandor had tried to kill when the opportunity presented itself outside of King’s Landing.

It was bloody foolish of me. I should have stayed with Sansa in that tent, waited for her to wake up after that bitch nearly burnt us alive. All I’ve done is make myself a hostage and leave her to fend for herself, pregnant with my child, and alone.

“The Lannister whore lied to you,” Sandor grunted.

“Well now I certainly do not feel guilty for abandoning her men. ‘A different Targaryen’ she said, ‘nothing like her father’. Ha! If I would have known she meant to burn half of King’s Landing down instead of fighting honorably, I would have never made that deal with Cersei.”

“What do you know of honor, you dumb cunt? You have less honor than that bastard Littlefinger. Selling your own men to Cersei, hiring my own bloody brother to kill me. You really are a craven.” A fist armored in steel slammed into his head.

“Not so, dog. I’m sure a savage like yourself is not familiar with all of the Westerosi house words, but House Arryn’s are ‘As High as Honor ’.” Though Sandor could not see the lord through the burlap bag, he could perceive the mockery in his voice, picturing the boy’s smug grin and wishing he could beat it off his face.

“You’re no Arryn. Just a little blonde shit who was fortunate enough that Jon Arryn had a weak seed,” he lashed out. The hand smacked him again, harder, and Sandor could taste blood in his mouth.

“You clearly have no regard for your life. I could have you killed for saying that,” Harry threatened. “I almost forgot to ask, has your marriage experienced hardship?”

Sandor turned in the saddle towards the taunting voice. “What sorry excuse of a lord fights his battles with a buggering poem?” he chided.

The young man chuckled. “A lord with a brain. I don’t intend on fighting you in a duel. Though you are incredibly dim-witted, you’re far larger than I am. Besides, I thought you would appreciate knowing that your wife was whoring around behind your back,” he chuckled again, many of the other knights around him joining in.

“Bloody lies written by a bloody craven,” Sandor growled.

“Not true. I have personally seen Lord Beric Dondarrion slip a hand underneath your wife’s dress during my time in Winterfell. She appeared to love it, too. Perhaps I should have tried to get in her smallclothes if I knew she were that loose,” he snickered. 

“I’ll skin you alive if you mention my wife one more time.” Sandor forced his wrists apart but the rope was too tight and only dug deeper into his raw flesh. The armored fist was slow to respond to his threat but drove into his ribs all the same.

“I sympathize with you, Hound, I really do. Perhaps you forgot but I was betrothed to her when she fucked you. A little whore, indeed. However, I do hope she survived that bloody mess down in King’s Landing. If not, mayhaps I will prove my honor to you and send a group of men to search for her rotting corpse.”

“You wouldn’t dare utter this shit to me if my hands weren’t tied to this fucking horse!”

“Easy, easy. I am sure your precious wolf will learn what has become of you. And when she does, perhaps an agreement can be reached between our houses.” 

Sandor laughed, a guttural, cruel, mocking laugh that frightened the horse underneath him.

“You attempted to have me killed twice, conspired a plan to separate me from my wife, hired a bastard who nearly raped and murdered her, and now you want a truce? You are madder than that dragon bitch back there!” he snarled. 

“Unfortunately, in desperate times, agreements must be made to ensure the safety of our houses. I witnessed with my own eyes a bolt larger than a skiff tear through the wing of that black monster, and the Targaryen whore mounted on its back. I doubt either of them survived that fall. Now while Cersei is likely dead, that is still uncertain. Should she live, she won’t take word of our departure lightly and we don’t need the remaining of your northmen declaring war against us, not after the men we lost getting out of there. Perhaps we can assist one another in the aftermath, let our conflicts be bygones.”

Sandor guffawed at the offer.

“How do your men not slit your pretty little throat while you sleep? Can you bastards not see how dishonorable and craven your lord is?” The fist returned, this time jabbing itself in his gut.

“Perhaps you would prefer me to fuck your wife in front of you and let my men pass her around like the whore she is afterwards. I’d like to see what your dear friend Beric risked it all for.”

“The next time I have steel in my hand, your head will roll,” Sandor rasped. The edge of a sword slammed into his back and nearly threw him off his horse.

“Your wife will agree to no longer have hostility towards House Arryn. She will grant us aid in the event there is backlash from Cersei or Daenerys, should either of those bitches still live. If she does not, it will be your head that will roll. As well as another.”

Sandor froze at that. Another?

Just as he considered who it could be, the sound of relentless coughing began far behind him in the column. 

They have the little sister.

“My Lord, she’s awake!” a knight called out.

“Bring her to me. And get her some water. That cough of hers will drive me mad. And you, take the bag off the dog. I will allow him to see his good-sister.”

When the thick burlap was removed from his face, the blinding sun in the west forced him to shut his eyes, minutes having passed before they adjusted to the dying light. Sandor looked to his left where the taunting voice had been coming from and saw Harry appearing as smug, arrogant, and cocky as the boy had sounded.

“There he is. Gods, you are an ugly fucker. And there she is.” Sandor watched as the girl was brought beside him, her hands tied together with the same hempen rope, riding in the front of the saddle as one of the knights sat behind her holding the reins. He had never seen the girl look so miserable, not even when she once rode with him years ago across Westeros. “Can you believe this rabid child killed five of my men? Her and some boy with a warhammer, a warhammer! Like Robert Baratheon! It took three of my men to bash his head in with it,” he scoffed.

Seven bloody hells, no wonder the girl is depressed. 

He commiserated with her, knowing the loss would be deeply painful for the child. “Girl,” Sandor muttered but Arya did not acknowledge him. She only brooded ahead at the road in front of them.

“While we wait for your whore to arrive, I suggest you behave, dog. If not, I can give this one over to my men to entertain themselves in the meantime. She’s not nearly as pretty as her sister, but a cunt is a cunt.” Sandor lifted his leg and kicked at Harry’s horse, causing the courser to panic and nearly throw his rider off. Several swords unsheathed afterwards and Sandor did not have to look behind him to see that they were all pointing at him.

“I’ll give you that one.” Harry gave Sandor a loathsome grin. “I did try to kill you twice after all. But that’s all you get. Next time, the girl gets passed around. Knights they may be but you know as well as I that means little in this world,” Harry shrugged. 

Sandor remained silent, doubting that Harry was giving idle threats; he would not risk the girl’s safety. He clenched his fists together and swallowed all the vile things he wanted to spit at the blonde fool. The silence that had fallen amongst the men ended with a faint beating in the distance, a rhythmic song that could only be produced by the winged flesh of a monster.

The dragon bitch lives and she comes to finish what she started.

“Cover your lord!” shouted one of the knights. Every man nearby galloped beside Harry, holding their shields over him. The sight of it was so absurd, Sandor would have laughed had he not been anticipating the dragonflame that would soon burn them alive.

Sandor looked into the sky, watching as the green and bronze scales glimmered in the setting sun. I love you, Sansa, he thought. I should have stayed with you in that bloody tent. However, unbeknownst to him, the beast heeded them no mind. The gigantic body soared past them, riderless and free. For a brief moment Sandor felt relieved until he registered where the lone, lethal dragon was headed.

Seven fucking hells, it remembers.

“Stand down!” Harry pushed the shields away like an angry child, watching zealously as the creature disappeared into the developing snow clouds. “It appears the beast is eager to return north,” he grinned at Sandor. “And my bet is on Winterfell.”

Chapter Text

“Two guards ahead,” Jon whispered.

“I see them. Let’s go.”

“Sansa, these men could cut me down, take you--”

“I have had enough of this,” Sansa pushed him aside. “We’ve traveled for nearly a week. They have my husband, Jon. He suffers every second we choose to wait, that is if they have not killed him by now!” She shut her eyes, pausing to regain her composure. “We will go, now. Help me up.” Jon eased Sansa atop the horse, mounting behind her and making their way towards the campsite off the Kingsroad.

“Halt! Who goes there?” a guard shouted. Sansa saw the steel in his hands reflect the flames of a nearby campfire, reminding her of Beric Dondarrion, her son’s namesake, and how his sword would wash over in flame. 

If only he were here to help me save my husband.

“I said who goes there!”

“Sansa Stark, the Queen in the North,” she said confidently. “Bring me your lord.” 

The camp came alive at that, men stirring within tents, atop furs on the snow, shouting at the others to wake up. As they approached closer into the camp, Sansa’s eyes surveyed the area frantically, looking for any sign of Sandor. 

The Knights of the Vale were smaller than she remembered. Many of them died, even in abandoning the war, she thought. No shortage of provisions, though. Tents, meat, furs...Harry made sure to be prepared should they need a quick departure. Sansa scoffed at the thought.

The wind stirred softly around them as Jon dismounted, easing Sansa onto the ground beside them. Sansa heard whistles by some of the men, even a ‘Your Grace’ that sounded genuine enough. But as Harry approached them, beaming from ear to ear, his blonde hair flowing in the wind, did Sansa ignore all else, focusing on the man she was determined to bring down.

“I never doubted it!” Harry exclaimed. “I knew the wolf would come for her dog. And you brought another gift. I hear you are the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.” Harry turned over his shoulder, gesturing for the knights escorting him to come forward. “Seize that one,” he pointed at Jon. 

Jon’s bastard sword was quicker than they were, but he did not swing. Instead, he held it out in front of him and lowered it onto the snow.

“I did not come here to be your hostage. I will surrender my weapon, however I will not leave Sansa’s side.” Harry picked up the Valyrian steel sword and inspected it, smiling when his finger touched the impossibly sharp edge.

“A lovely weapon. If you wish to stay by her side, so be it. Come along, let us reunite the self-proclaiming King and Queen in the North.” 

Harry led them to a large tent, positioned in the center of the campsite and surrounded by Knights of the Vale. Jon took Sansa’s arm into his own, each breath of theirs coming out in thick clouds in front of their faces. It was the coldest part of the night but the snow remained gentle and the winds light. It would have been a beautiful night in different circumstances, but Sansa could not admire its beauty for what it was, not until she was with Sandor again and away from the dishonorable Harry Hardyng.

“After you,” the lord opened the flap to the tent.

When Sansa entered, the confidence she had managed thus far collapsed, and once more, she became a terrified little girl.

“Oh gods,” she gasped. Sansa ran towards the opposite end of the tent, struggling to breathe as she kneeled onto the ground. Sandor sat beside her little sister, hempen rope binding their wrists together, their faces covered in dirt and blood. Sansa placed a hand on his face and then on Arya’s. The tears running down Sansa’s face were hot and angry.

“Little bird,” Sandor spoke. Sansa pressed her lips onto his, a kiss tasting of salt and blood, though none tasted sweeter. 

“I love you,” she whispered.

Looking at Arya, she was deeply disturbed by her vacant state. “Sister, you will be all right.” Upon Arya not responding, Sansa turned back to Sandor. “What did they do to her?” 

“That boy, Gendry--”

“They smashed his head in with his warhammer, again and again,” Arya whispered. Sansa saw a fire develop in her eyes, a deep, powerful hate.

“The reunion is over, Sansa,” interrupted Harry. “Sit in the chair, let me explain the terms.”

Before Sansa could stand, Arya cleared her throat and gestured towards her arm. Sansa looked over her shoulder, watching as Harry peeked out of the tent to call for a guard. Given the opportunity, Sansa shoved her hand into Arya’s sleeve, her fingers brushing the coolness of steel.

Only my sister would hide a dagger in her sleeve. And thank the gods.

Sandor watched in horror as she pulled out the little weapon, sliding it inside the sleeve of her dress. The point scraped the inside of her arm and she grimaced, biting her tongue to hide the whimper.

“Don’t,” Sandor warned her in a breath. Sansa kissed him once more before sitting in the lone chair, positioned beside a small table with tallow candles. The same guard who had been on watch entered the tent. 

“My Lord,” the man nodded.

“Tie this one up,” Harry gestured towards Jon. “Put him over there with those two.” 

“I gave you my sword! I told you--” Jon shouted.

“You still have your fists. Though I would surely come out the victor in a brawl with you , I do not care to fight tonight. You asked to stay beside Sansa and you will. Just with your wrists tied together. On my honor, I will cut you loose as soon as we come to an agreement.” 

Jon gave Sansa an unnerving look.

“Let him, Jon. It won’t be long,” she assured him. Soon I will shove this blade into his neck the same way I did to that bastard, Philip Snow.

The guard proceeded in wrapping Jon’s wrists in rope, sitting him beside Arya. Sansa could feel her blood trickling down her arm from where the blade had scraped her. In a subtle manner, she pressed the fabric of her sleeve against the crimson trail to avoid it from spilling onto the ground.

“You are with child,” Harry said as he placed Jon’s bastard sword against the table. “Whose is it this time?” he chuckled.

“Get on with it,” she spoke between clenched teeth.

“It is said that Joffrey’s Kingsguard beat you often. I can see why. You have a quick tongue,” Harry gave her a wry smile.

“What do you want?”

“Where are your men? The ones that were not scorched into the earth?” Harry sat beside her on the table, shifting the candles aside to tower over her.

“I assume those who survived will be returning to Winterfell.”

“What is left of it anyway,” he added. Sansa’s brow furrowed, watching as Sandor, Jon, and Arya all brooded.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Did those pretty blue eyes of yours not see? A green beast flew north. Perhaps Daenerys’ dying breath was her ordering the creature to burn your home to the ground,” he shrugged.

I must have still been asleep in the tent. Why didn’t Jon tell me? 

“You can always rebuild,” Harry said. “Northerners breed quickly. I am sure your kingdom will rise again,” he feigned kindness. “With regards to your men, whichever bastards survived, you will send them to the Vale at once.”

“And why would you want my men in the Vale?” 

“A precaution, really. If Cersei and Daenerys both perished in King’s Landing, I will send the savages back to rebuild your home. I lost more men than I anticipated, so I ask for yours should either of those whores lash out against House Arryn.”

Sansa looked at his face and felt the steel inside her sleeve kissing her skin. Her eyes shifted towards the entrance of the tent where the guard watched her intently. Not yet, she thought. Soon enough.

“Oh, one one more thing,” his hand brushed a stray hair out of her face. “You will return to the Vale as well.”

“Are you a fucking madman?” Sandor growled. 

“Careful, dog,” Harry spat back. “Your northmen will never serve me if I don’t have her with me.”

Sansa’s eyes returned to her family. “If I agree to this, you will let them go?” 

“You have my word,” he smirked. “I will send them off, with provisions even, and let them discover what has become of Winterfell. But you will stay with me until the aftermath blows over.”

And I will shove this blade in your throat.

“All right,” she submitted.

“Sansa!” shouted Sandor and Jon in unison. Arya began to have another coughing fit, Sansa’s heart sinking in her chest as she watched blood escaping her mouth. 

“You,” Harry gestured towards the guard. “Take the dying sister and our ‘rightful ruler’ out of here. I want to be alone with these two for a moment. Tell the others outside the tent to keep themselves busy, we’ll need privacy.”

Sansa’s eyes widened at that, as did Sandor’s. 

The guard marched over and pulled Arya and Jon up by their wrists, leading them towards the entrance. Sansa saw the expression on Arya’s face as she passed, the steel in her sleeve throbbing against her skin. I know, sister. 

“Now that they are gone, I think we can discuss the third part of this agreement. It’s a personal matter.”

Third ?” Sandor spat. “She already gave you our men, agreed to be your bloody hostage. What more do you...oh you sick, fucking bastard.”

“The two of you humiliated me!” the lord interrupted. “I thought I was only betrothed to Littlefinger’s bloody bastard. Then I learn I am betrothed to Sansa Stark, the Lady of Winterfell, the Wardeness of the North. I never will find a wife who can offer me more than she could have. And it’s all because you took that from me when you took her maidenhead! You heard these men, Hound. These ‘knights’. You hear how they jape. I heard the whispers, the snickers, all of it! From my own men!”

“I’ve known humiliation my whole life. Japes and whispers don’t mean spit to me. You are an arrogant little shit,” Sandor hissed.

“I have thought about killing you every day since. Every time I hear a whisper I want to gut you. Any hope I had for these knights respecting me died when my betrothed fucked the Lannister’s dog!” he snapped.

“Say what it is you want then.” Sansa spoke vacantly, the steel in her sleeve begging for her to let it pierce his neck.

“I want you . I want you the same way he took you. The same way I heard Beric did,” he grinned at Sandor.

If I agree to lay with him, I can get close enough to let this blade do its duty.

“I’ll lay with you.” 

Harry looked at Sandor, his mouth gaping open in astonishment. “What did I tell you, Hound?”

“Sansa, I will have my head removed before you give yourself over to this buggering shit!”

The blade against her skin began to burn.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, avoiding Sandor’s gaze. “I have to.” I have to get closer.

“It’s one time, dog...unless your wife enjoys herself. Perhaps she will ask for it again when she returns to the Vale with me,” he chuckled. Sansa saw out of the corner of her eye Sandor try to stand from the ground. Harry grabbed Jon’s sword from beside the table and pointed it at him, the edge so sharp it hurt to stare at it. “Careful,” Harry warned. 

Sandor stilled and gave Sansa a pleading look as her eyes met his, her heart breaking at the sight. “Don’t,” he begged. 

“Let him go,” Sansa held back her tears. “Let him go and then I will lay with you.” As will the blade in my sleeve.

“No, Sansa.” Harry lowered the bastard sword. “He stays.”

The steel in her sleeve cried out to her. He has that sword in his hand, she reasoned. I’ll never be quick enough.

“You’d really fuck a man’s wife right in front of him?” Sandor shouted.

“I’d really fuck your wife right in front of you. After this, I will feel avenged after the humiliation you two caused me. You had her when I didn’t want you to, now I will return the favor. When this is over, I swear to stop trying to have you killed. On my honor,” he grinned.

He will take me in front of Sandor and kill him anyway. If I am to protect my husband, my sister, Jon, myself, my child...I must get closer.

“If you want me, come here,” Sansa purred. Harry appeared to like her roguish tone and stood from the table, leaning the sword against the oak. 

“You do have some wolf in you,” he licked his lips. Sansa’s fingers itched to pull the blade from her sleeve. Two more steps, she thought.

Then he stopped. “Stand up.”

Sansa looked at Sandor, observing the way he watched the lord with immense loathing, before rising from the chair slowly.

“There’s a good girl,” Harry smiled. “Come stand here,” he pointed at the ground between him and Sandor. He is ordering me around like a dog. Sansa clenched her teeth together and walked to the spot. “Now, I want you to unlace your dress.” He moved swiftly around her, and sat in the empty chair.

Gods, now I am only further away. 

Her hands were trembling when they eased the laces on the front of her dress loose. She could feel Sandor’s eyes on her, wondering what it was he feared more: her laying with Harry or her having to kill him.

Once I get closer, I have to be quick enough where he can’t fight back, fatal enough so he cannot live to beg for help. If his men hear...

“Now pull out those tits,” he commanded with a satisfied grin.

Sansa heard her husband cursing under his breath. I need to get closer, now. I cannot allow this to go too far.

Sansa lifted her hands to her breasts, pulling them out to spill over the loosened front of her dress. The two men sighed nearly in synchrony, but the sighs could not have been more different. Harry’s was lustful where Sandor’s was defeated. 

“I hear you, Hound. Your wife may have the best tits I have ever seen. Being with child helps, to be sure. Now Sansa, come sit,” Harry patted his thigh.

Finally. This is my chance. I must do it now.

Sansa sauntered over to him and sat in his lap. When she lifted her arms to wrap around his neck, hoping she could slide the dagger free, his hand caught her left wrist.

“You’re bleeding,” he muttered, examining the trail of blood that had dripped into her palm.

“Oh,” she said. 

Harry tore back her sleeve and watched the dagger fall onto the floor.

“You clever little whore,” he scoffed. The back of his hand met her face before reaching down to grab the blade. Sansa kicked it away with her foot, watching as it slid across the ground to rest against the canvas of the tent. When his head shifted towards the bastard sword that was leaning against the table, she pushed at his face with all her strength, knocking him from the chair. 

Sandor was shouting something but she could not hear, not over the sudden cacophony of noises coming from outside of the tent. 

“Dragon!” one man screamed.

“Run!” another yelled.

Sansa returned to the moment inside the tent and leaned forward, her hands clutching the hilt of the sword.

“Bring it here, girl!” Sandor shouted. 

Harry crawled away from her, heading towards the entrance, and grabbed his sword belt. Sansa could hear the steel escaping the sheath as she ran towards Sandor with his wrists held out.

“Do it! Cut the rope!”

“I’ll cut your wrists!” she cried.

“Sansa, do it now!”

Sansa could only lift the weight of the massive sword inches above his wrists, but the Valyrian steel edge did the work for her. The blade slid through the hempen rope, slicing the individual threads as smoothly and quickly as if it were melted butter. When his wrists pulled apart, Sandor grabbed the hilt from her with his right hand and used the other to pull her behind him, the clash of steel on steel filling the tent the next second. 

Sandor kicked Harry’s knee with brute force, knocking the lord onto the ground. Once on his feet, Sandor swung the massive sword in the air and aimed for Harry’s neck. The lord rolled over quick enough, and pushed himself up, running towards the entrance to the tent.

“Help!” he shouted. But no one could hear over the madness outside.

The campsite was overwhelmed with the sounds of men running, shouting, panicking, along with the thunderous beating of wings. Sandor marched towards him and swung the blade against his legs just enough to draw blood. Harry yelped and dropped his sword and before he could try to run, Sandor put him in a headlock.

“You come with us and if any of your men try anything I’ll slide this steel down your fucking throat.”

“There’s a bloody dragon out there!” Harry choked on his words, grasping at the massive arm that was clenching his throat. 

“A tent can’t save you, you bloody craven,” Sandor turned to Sansa and gestured for her to exit. “No one will touch you, girl, not even that buggering dragon, not with me alive. Go, we need to find a horse to mount.”

Sansa nodded as she pushed her breasts back into her dress. When she emerged from the tent, up in the dark, overcast sky, a dragon swirled against the falling snow like a fish might in a pond. It’s taunting them, she realized. But it’s not hurting them.  

One knight spotted them as they exited and unsheathed his sword to swing at Sansa. That ended when the Valyrian steel edge in Sandor’s hand met the knight’s unarmored skull. Harry yelped when the blood spattered across him. Sansa searched frantically around her and spotted a large courser tied to a post in the ground. However, the horse was far too frightened for her to approach. She turned back around and watched as the dragon landed clumsily atop several of the tents and roared.

It was then that Sansa saw a man begin to mount the beast with as much ease as one might mount a horse. Jon. The dragon stuck out his neck flat against the snow, making the climb easier for his rider.

“Get on!” he shouted beside him. Arya ran up and jumped on top of the dragon's neck, climbing its spikes and straddling behind Jon. The dragon’s head surveyed the area and once it spotted her and Sandor, it froze. It wants us to get on. 

“Sansa!” Jon shouted. “Let’s go!”

Sansa looked at her husband and saw the panic in his eyes. “We have to, Sandor. We need to get on.”

“What in the seven fucking hells is going on?” he muttered to himself. Harry clawed at Sandor’s forearm, his feet kicking against the snow. “Fuck!” Sandor shouted. “All right, girl. Go. I’m right behind you.”

Sansa lifted the bottom of her dress up, freeing her feet from being tangled in the fabric, and ran through snow, through stone, through steel.

The dragon’s eyes grew kinder the closer she became. When she stood beside it, the creature made a sound that nearly sounded like a purr. Sansa grabbed Jon’s hand and swung herself behind Arya who was having a relentless coughing fit. Once mounted, Sandor held the Valyrian steel sword up to Harry’s face and pushed him forward.

“Get on, you cunt!” 

“I- I-” he stuttered. Jon reached and grabbed the collar of the lord’s tunic, pulling him in front to lie across the beast’s neck like a sow for slaughter. Sandor handed Jon his sword back before cursing under his breath, grabbing onto a spike and mounting himself behind Sansa. He swung one arm around her waist, gripping her as tight as possible against him. The beast’s head slowly began to rise, elevating them into the cold, dark sky. The green-and-bronze dragon shrieked when it pushed off with its feet, flapping its wing and departing into the winter air facing north.

“Seven hells!” Arya shouted after her coughing fit. Her scream was followed by hooting and laughter as they ascended further and further into the darkness.

Sansa felt faint when she made the mistake of looking down. She wanted to shut her eyes and ignore the fact that should they slip, the fall would surely kill them. Yet no matter how hard she tried, she could not look away, not when all the lands of Westeros were laid out beneath her. 

It’s so beautiful, she thought. Her hand caressed the arm wrapped around her waist. It’s all so beautiful.

 


 

They arrived in the godswood at Winterfell in two hours time. 

Sansa’s fears were put to rest when she saw her home. Nothing had been harmed since their departure. In contrast, the restorations that had taken place during their absence put her in awe. 

The dragon found a landing between the trees just as the sun began to rise in the east. As early as it was, Sansa could spot Bran sitting in his chair beside the weirwood tree.

When the dragon came to a complete stop and lengthened its neck out against the earth, Sandor mounted off, pale and in shock. He took Sansa’s waist into his hands and carried her away from the dragon as fast as he could, headed towards the weirwood tree.

Sansa saw that Harry had passed out during the flight; Jon had to pull him off, dropping the unconscious lord into the snow. Arya had another coughing fit before hopping down, the blood from her hacking dripped into the snow. 

She needs to see the maester, now.

“Let me down, I want to see my brother,” she told Sandor. When he lowered her onto the ground, her legs felt strange from the hours of straddling the dragon’s wide neck. 

Sansa strode across the snow and paused once she was in front of Bran. She saw his eyes were white, the pupils having shifted into the back of his head. 

It can’t be...

Sansa looked at the dragon once more, its scales shimmering with the light rising in the east. It is smiling at me, she realized. It was a familiar smile, one she had not seen in years, a smile she had not seen since they were children.

It’s Bran’s smile.

Chapter Text

Sandor collapsed face first onto the featherbed.

“Curse my sister for kicking me out,” Sansa sighed as she entered the newly renovated King and Queen’s bedchamber inside the main tower. “Does she think she can hide what the maester concludes is wrong with her?” 

“It will be all right, little bird,” he lied. Sandor had seen the blood and he knew what it meant. However, not even he wanted to speak of it as if it were terminal. Even he wanted to believe the girl could be healed. “Let the maester care for her for now. I just thank the bloody gods you and the child are all right after… that ,” Sandor muttered into the bed.

Riding on a bloody dragon, he remembered it like a dream . A dragon puppeteered by Bran Stark, the Three-Eyed Crow. Buggering magic.

Sandor’s reflection ended once he heard the sound of her clothing hit the floor. He lifted his face from the featherbed and watched as she slipped into the steaming water inside of the tub that had been drawn. The sound of her moan as she lowered her body into the water sparked a ravenous desire inside of him.

“We will need to hold a meeting in the Great Hall today and inform those who stayed behind of what has happened...where their father’s and son’s may be. Jon will be taking Br-- the dragon on the morrow to find our men and communicate with them what has occurred between us and House Arryn. He also means to ride to King’s Landing to see if either Cersei or Daenerys are still alive. Westeros is not safe while Dothraki, Unsullied, and potentially her injured dragon roam the lands.” Sansa moaned again when she submerged her hair into the large tub; his gaze was frozen on her, in awe of her tantalizing beauty. “Was Harry awake when you took him to the cells?”

“All right,” he breathed, utterly unaware of what question he had just answered.

Sansa rose her head from the water and sat up, facing him with a kittenish smile. “You’re not listening to me, are you? You’re only watching me.”

“I’d have to be dead to not be watching you.”

“Get in here,” Sansa purred.

“That tub is scarcely large enough for me . It won’t fit the both of us, little bird.”

“It will if I sit on you.”

Acting on instinct, he pushed himself off the bed. “Sit on me? Is that what you said?” he teased. Sansa bit her lip and nodded, standing from the tub. His cock stiffened at the sight of the water dripping off her curves, crazed by the way it trailed over her hips, the swell in her belly, and the fullness of her breasts. She removed herself from the tub, strolling towards him as the water puddled onto the floor with each step. Sandor was struck by the image in front of him, wanting to capture this moment and remember every detail like how the glow from the brazier bronzed the wetness on her curves and how her auburn hair fell straight along her back, smelling of lavender. Her nipples hardened after leaving the heat inside of the tub, goose pimples rising all over her skin. Seven hells, it feels like a sin to even look at something as beautiful as her. She placed her damp, warm hands underneath his tunic, trailing her fingers through the thickness of his chest hair, biting her lip as she did it. 

Sandor could not hold back any longer. He ripped off his clothing, tearing the fabric in the process, and pulled her naked body against his. His fingers traced down the length of her soaking wet hair, softer than silk. His hands returned to the back of her neck, holding her still in front of him. He wanted to speak and wanted to recite something clever, romantic, and touching, but everything he thought of sounded absurd. 

If I can’t speak it, I can bloody well show it. 

His lips met hers, embracing her mouth slowly and delicately until her hand reached to grab the length of his cock. At her touch, his kisses grew hungrier, deeper, faster, and wetter. All of his senses were heightened, relishing the touch of her nipples pressed against him, the smell of the oils lingering on her moist skin, the sound of the moans escaping her mouth when he cupped his hand over her cunt.

“Get in the tub,” Sansa breathed. 

Sandor pulled away from her slowly and eased himself into the tub. Whether it was from being with child or from the recent thrill of having ridden atop a dragon, Sansa’s behavior was exorbitantly provocative; there was a deep, foreign hunger in her eyes that he thought may even be able to contend with his own.

Sansa stepped into the tub and lowered herself steadily on top of his cock, straddling his hips and digging her fingers into his shoulders as he filled her. The sensation of entering her underneath the water was unlike anything he felt before, as was the sight before him. The water in the tub overflowed onto the stone floor but neither of them paid it any mind. Sandor could not look away from his wife gliding atop his length, feeling the ebb and flow of the water as it matched her pace. He fought the urge to throw his head back against the tub when he felt his peak approaching all too soon. Instead, he leaned closer to her, taking her hardened nipple into his mouth. The feedback he received was more than he could have wished for; she cried out at the sensation and bucked her hips faster underneath the water, splashing out onto the floor with every motion. 

The tightness of her cunt around his cock always greeted him first, followed by her moans and whimpers as she obtained her satisfying end. He let himself go at once, pulling her ass into his hands and thrashing her up and down his cock until his seed shot inside of her, saturating into the remaining bath water.

My little bird, he thought as she planted tender kisses along the scarred side of his face. Even more captivating than riding that bloody dragon.




 

“No,” Harry groaned. “Not you again.”

Sandor watched as the blonde lord cowered into the corner of his cell, his body shivering against the frigid stone wall.

“I’m not here to hurt you, craven. Not this time,” Sandor mumbled.

“You broke my nose!” Harry whined. 

“YOU TRIED TO FUCK MY WIFE IN FRONT OF ME!” Sandor’s shout echoed throughout the cells, causing the ice that had developed on the ceiling to fall and shatter beside him on the ground. “And that’s just the bloody beginning!”

“When’s my trial?” Harry spat.

“Your trial?” Sandor boomed a terrible, mocking laugh.

“You gave Petyr Baelish a trial!” 

“My wife did that and only because her honor as a Stark demanded it! If it were up to me, I would let you freeze in this bloody cell. Maybe even let the little sister avenge that boy of hers you killed,” Sandor scoffed. If only she could... the thought of Arya sleeping on milk of the poppy infuriated him. The maester said he needed her to rest, but Sandor knew what it really meant.

“I demand a trial.” Harry interrupted his thoughts. The lord pushed himself up off the ground. As he stood, his face was illuminated by the torch Sandor held, appearing bruised and bloody from his earlier visits. “A trial by combat.”

Sandor roared again. 

“So now the pretty lord wants to duel,” he chuckled scornfully. “That would be much too quick of a way for you to leave this world. I intend on savoring the moment you depart us.”

“I’m a lord and a knight before that! You cannot deny me my right to a trial by combat. If I must fight you, so be it! Perhaps the gods will be good enough to allow me to strike a fatal blow to your head, even if it means mine must come off with it.”

Not likely, but I could indulge in a proper duel between this arrogant cocksucker and still maintain my vows to the Elder Brother. Kill to protect. And who has harmed Sansa and I more times than I can count?

“I’ll discuss it with my wife,” he said. “However, she ought to put her honor aside for once. You never had any honor. You don’t deserve a buggering trial.”

“Your wife,” Harry snorted in contempt. “You mean the whore who meant to kill me in my own tent after she agreed to lay with me?”

“Say that one more time and I’ll come in there and rip your sword arm off. Let’s see how you fare in a trial by combat then,” Sandor snarled. 

She has less honor than you know,’ Harry mumbled.

“Seven hells, how long do you plan on letting this mummer’s farce go on?”

“It’s no farce, you blind dog. I may not have known the truth of who fathered that child she bore dead, but I saw them. As did the bastard who wrote to me once I returned to the Vale. Speaking of which, whatever happened to that boy?”

“Sansa--”

“Killed him?” he guffawed. “Gods, I suppose I am a lucky man then. Who knew she was as cold of a killer as her sister?” 

“That bastard meant to rape her and kill her because of you! She was justified in killing him!”

“I didn’t tell him to harm her. I only wanted you taken care of. Perhaps Sansa lied. Maybe she spread her legs for him and decided to kill him so word would not get back to you. It could be that child she carries is yet another bastard,” Harry shrugged. 

Sandor dropped the torch onto the ground and picked a key from his pocket, unlocking the cell door. His hand thrusted out, casting a horrifying shadow along the stone to clench tightly around Harry’s throat. “Now you’re the one with no regard for your life,” he growled.

Harry choked in his grip, digging his nails into Sandor’s arm. Before the lord could suffocate, Sandor released him violently and threw him onto the ground. 

“What--” Harry coughed. “What reason...would I have to lie? I’m a dead man...either way.”

“Many men live and die as buggering liars!” Sandor spat on him. “My wife sent me away for considering such falseness in the past. I don’t intend on making that same mistake.”

“Of course she did,” Harry chuckled weakly. “She might actually look guilty had she not. You don’t know her, Hound, not like I did.”

“You never knew her!” Sandor kicked him in the gut. “You only knew her in the Vale when that shit Littlefinger told you she was his bastard.”

“Yes,” Harry groaned, clenching his stomach. “I met her as Alayne Stone, the bastard.” He struggled to push himself up again. “A beautiful liar from the moment I met her. If only you knew her then. Her and Myranda were a wild pair. You did meet Myranda? I assume the poor girl died, too. Sansa must not have wanted her spilling her secrets either.”

“What Sansa did in the Vale doesn’t mean spit to me.” I was dead to her then.

“Those two would run around and giggle, flirting with every man who chanced to be around them. Gods, they loved the attention. Even when she was only a bastard to me, I asked Lord Baelish to make sure she remained a maiden before I married her. Do you know what he did? He had a hole dug between the stones in her bedchamber, allowing him to take a peek at her from time to time, making sure no knight or sellsword was defiling what was mine. She beguiled me all the meanwhile. Some days she loved me, others she would hardly speak to me. Her chambermaids would whisper, saying that men would walk her from the yards to her bedchamber just so they could be near her. Ha!” 

I remember a time when I did that, too. A time long ago when I was nothing more to her than Joffrey’s dog. I’d walk her all the way to the door of her bedchamber, even in pure silence, just so I could be around her a moment longer.

“She needed to play her part,” Sandor reasoned. “You want me to hate my wife for talking to other men before me?”

“Talking?” the lord snorted. “Petyr assured me that she remained a maiden, but I believe he was only referring to her cunt. With Myranda influencing her, teaching her, I have no doubt Sansa swallowed a few of my knight’s seeds from time to time.” Sandor grabbed Harry’s collar and threw him against the opposite side of the cell.

“Keep talking like that and you’ll be dead soon enough!”

“The crypt,” Harry groaned. “That’s where I saw them.”

“The crypt? A poor lie! No one goes into the bloody crypt other than the Starks. Why would you have been there?” Sandor interrogated. 

“I was with...someone,” Harry trailed off.

“Someone? Fucking someone in the crypts?” he asked incredulously. 

“Her chambermaid,” he mumbled into the floor.

“Her chambermaid? How old is that girl? Two and ten?”

“Three and ten, and still older than when you met Sansa,” he quipped quietly. “We were in there, the girl and I. It was the day before Sansa was to wed Lord Baelish. We heard the footsteps first, then the whispers, then the sounds that could only have been kissing. I leaned out from behind the tomb and there they were: your old false friend, Beric Dondarrion and your beautiful liar, Sansa Stark. His hand was up her dress, fondling that little cunt you cherish so much. It could not have been anyone else. No other woman here has Sansa’s hair and no other man in Winterfell wears a bloody patch over his eye.” Sandor let his back press against the cold stone wall, processing what was being said.

The day before she wedded Littlefinger...she was with me that morning, in the godswood. I could never forget it, the way she slapped me and how I took her right there beside the weirwood tree. And how could I forget that bloody dress she was wearing...the deepest shade of green, form fitting, her tits spilling out the front. Did she see Beric while wearing that dress? Could it have tempted him as much as it did me? No, it’s all a lie. That’s all this fool has left.

Sandor kicked him once more in the gut before exiting the cell and locking it behind him. “Bugger your lies,” he muttered. “The next time I see you will be the last time I see you.”

“Ask the girl, then! The chambermaid!” Harry shouted at Sandor as he headed down the corridor without picking up the torch. Bugger those bloody flames too, he thought. “If I must pay for my sins, let your wife pay for hers!” 

 


 

“You’ve been down here a while.”

“The crypt is one of my favorite places.” Sansa was staring at their son’s small tomb, surrounded by several small candles that created the faintest radiance inside the chilly ground. “Where have you been?”

What do I say? That I talked with Harry about her and Beric again? That he told me how she passed her time in the Vale? That I even pondered what he was saying for a moment?

“I spoke to that buggering lord. He wants a trial by combat,” Sandor informed her. Sansa’s head whipped towards him, her brow furrowed.

“Against you? That’s an odd choice considering how craven he is.”

“Aye,” Sandor mumbled. Tell her everything you bloody fool.

“He is a lord. We cannot deny him that right,” she sighed. “I suppose once Jon returns we can carry on and be done with it.”

“Little bird,” he blurted, his tongue sounding heavy in his mouth.

“What? Is it Arya?” Sansa began to fret.

“No, no, I haven’t heard any more about the girl. I assume she is fine.” Sansa was relieved by that. But not for long, he thought. 

“Then what is it?” she asked. Sandor’s eyes were fixated on her face, admiring the way the glow from the candles highlighted her beauty, even in a cold, haunting place such as the crypt. He then began to wonder if Beric had seen her this way, too.

“Did you know Harry was fucking your chambermaid?” 

“What? That girl is not much older than a child,” she shook her head.

“She’s older than you were when I met you,” Sandor repeated Harry’s discomforting reminder.

Sansa squinted her eyes at him. “Why would he tell you this?”

“He told me he fucked the girl right here in the crypts.” Tell her the whole truth.

Her mouth gaped open at that. “Oh, that’s awful.”

“Aye,” he agreed. Just fucking say it. “He also said that he saw you and Beric in here.”

Her mouth closed and her face grew still and expressionless, just how it always did when she wanted to keep those around her unaware of what she was thinking or feeling. ‘ A beautiful liar’, Harry said. Bugger him.

“That doesn’t mean I believe him, Sansa,” he added when she kept quiet. “I only thought you deserve to know what he said to me, about you and Beric...talking down here.”

Perhaps she will appreciate my honesty this time, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be offended by Harry’s lie, nor will she not be angered by me bringing up this subject again. However, she will understand. Harry doesn’t know her at all. I do. And I know her better than anyone. 

Sansa took a deep breath and dropped her gaze. Or maybe I don’t know her at all, he realized. 

“That’s because we did.”

Chapter Text

‘A beautiful liar’, Harry told me. ‘Beguiled me all the meanwhile’.

“What?” Sandor managed to ask after an unsettling moment of silence.

“I brought him here,” she admitted meekly.

Sandor wiped his face with his hands in an attempt to wake himself up. This is all just a dream, he thought. All of this. Even riding that bloody dragon. Harry must have killed me in my sleep like the craven he is and tossed my corpse beside the Kingsroad so I’d never find peace. And this must be my hell.

“You brought him here,” he repeated slowly.

“It was the day before I wedded Littlefinger. I had to see Beric, but Littlefinger’s men were constantly moving about that day. The crypt was the--”

“You met me in the godswood that morning.” Where I took you beside that heart tree and you told me you loved me afterwards, he wanted to remind her. “You said we couldn’t meet in the crypt, do you remember why?” 

“Yes, because the crypt--”

“Was surrounded by Littlefinger’s men?” he asked skeptically. 

“It was, I--”

“Or was it because you had Beric waiting for you there?” Sandor crossed his arms and could feel the rapid beating of his heart pounding through his chest.  

“Will you listen t--”

“Why didn’t you mention this when we discussed that bloody letter?” His voice grew louder despite himself, echoing down the pitch-black corridor and reverberating off the tombs and statues of the past Starks.

“I thought that--”

“Do you remember what you wore that day?” His thoughts were scattered. His mind was lost.

“What? I--”

“That revealing, little dress of yours,” his fists clenched. “Did you wear that for me or for him?”

“Will you let me speak?!” she shouted, thrusting her hands against his chest. Sandor grabbed her wrists and pulled her against him until his face was merely inches away from hers.

“Go on, little bird.” Sandor caught himself laughing at the absurdity of it all. “What clever lie do you want to chirp to me now?”

“I didn’t lie to you! I just--”

“Didn’t tell me the truth? Didn’t tell me that you let him touch your cunt?” he snarled while Sansa fought to free herself from his grip.

“Touch my--” she gasped. “I only spoke with him! Nothing happened!”

“Like how nothing happened while you lived in the Vale? I should have known. How else could you have sucked my cock as well as you did the first time?” he scoffed. With her wrists trapped, Sansa lifted her foot to kick at his knees.

“You’re an ill-tempered, paranoid brute!” she screamed.

“And you’re a beguiling, beautiful liar, aren’t you?!” Sandor shouted back at her. “What else have you been keeping from me?”

“Let go of me!” Sansa cried. 

“You’ve come a long way, little bird. You were an awful liar when I met you, but now look at you!” Sandor boomed.

“Sandor, please! Don’t hurt me,” she whimpered.

The words struck him harder than any Valyrian steel, any dragon, or any undead brother could; it felt like waking from a dream, sudden and all at once. Seven fucking hells, what am I doing? He released her wrists quickly and backed away from her, watching as the tears fell down her face and glistened in the faint candle light. 

“I’d never hurt you,” he could only breathe. 

“Is this what you’re going to do to me every time you hear a lie about me?” Sansa wept, pressing herself against their son’s tomb.

“Sansa, I would never hurt you.” Sandor kneeled down onto the bitterly cold ground in silence, reflecting on what he had done and what he had said, cursing himself for making the same mistake twice.

“I never let him touch me,” she said resentfully. “What do I have to say for you to believe me? What must I do for you to trust me? I swear it by the old gods, on the child in this tomb, and on the child inside of me!”

“I would never hurt you, Sansa. Never,” he whispered. Sansa looked away from him, wiping the tears she had shed from her flushed skin using the back of her hand.

“I came here with Beric that day because of you!” Sansa spat. “All I did was ask him to be near you.”

“Why?” he asked quietly while his mind tormented him with the same five words. ‘ Sandor, please, don’t hurt me’. That’s what she said. That’s what she begged. 

“Because you are impulsive!” Sansa took a deep breath and closed her eyes, clutching her hands to her belly. “I couldn’t risk having you do something reckless before, during, or after the wedding, spoiling our only plan to take down Littlefinger, so I asked for Beric’s help. We spoke here because this side of the castle was clear before dusk. When I met you that morning in the godswood, I came by the crypt first and Littlefinger had eyes and ears everywhere. That’s why! And no, I didn’t wear that dress! I only wore it for you! Have all of your questions been answered?”

“Why did you not tell me this?” She had to bloody beg me not to hurt her.

“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to think that I doubted you,” she sighed heavily. “And with that letter, how was I supposed to bring this up without you reacting precisely as you did now? Imagining a scenario in your head, accusing me...frightening me.”

“Frightening you?” his eyes rushed to meet her gaze. He thought he would find contempt, fury, and disgust in her eyes, but all he saw was the face of the young girl he had met a lifetime ago and how she had looked at him the first time he met her. It was the same fearful expression she wore when his false brothers in Joffrey’s Kingsguard would beat her, strip her, and laugh in her face. However, no longer were the corrupt knights in King’s Landing the ones who instilled that fear in her. Now it was him who did that, her own husband, the Lannister’s Hound who never died. “Sansa, I wouldn’t ever--”

“I’d like to be alone now,” she said. Sandor slowly rose from the ground and eased his pace towards her.

“Gods, Sansa. Forgive me.” When he offered his hand to her, she turned her back to him and dropped her head as if in prayer.

“I want to be alone with my son,” she said coolly. 

“Little bird, I would never hurt you.” It was all he could say.

“Please, just go,” she whispered.

Sandor knew he must submit; the way she clutched onto her belly made him fear distressing her further. I proved myself to be impulsive, brutish, paranoid...ill-tempered. Nothing she said was false. I’ve been a bloody Hound my whole life. I never died on the Quiet Isle. But I should have. I should have died and saved Sansa from this life. I never deserved her and now perhaps she finally realizes that, too.

The faces of dead kings and lords watched him with scornful, stone eyes as he made his way down the corridor. When he passed her father’s statue, he expected the longsword that sat in his lap to come down on him, saving his daughter from the beast she married. But that would be far too gentle of a death for me.

Before Sandor exited the ironwood door, he stood at the crypt’s entrance, listening to the echoes of his footsteps fainting, followed by the agonizing sound of Sansa weeping.

Chapter Text

A whisper brought him to the godswood.

The sky was blanketed with a thick overcast and to the north, a storm approached. The real winter is here now, he thought grimly. The godswood appeared colorless underneath the leaden sky. Colorless aside from the singular blood-red shade of the five-pointed leaves remaining on the weirwood tree as well as the face that had been carved in its trunk. As Sandor approached, the face watched his every step similar to how the dead Starks had in the crypt. Its sappy eyes were filled with deep contempt and its frown looked more severe. 

It knows. It knows how I spoke to Sansa, its northern daughter. The woman I married right here in sight of these old gods. It knows how I have treated her. As does this Three-Eyed Crow.

“How--”

“Sandor, it’s time,” Bran interrupted. The boy sat in his wheeled chair beside the weirwood tree as he always did. His face was gaunt, the flesh underneath his eyes sunken in and dark, appearing more dead these days than alive. Too busy warging into that dragon, or that unnatural crow. Too busy to sleep, too busy to eat...what keeps him alive? Sandor wondered. “Jon rides north with Rhaegal now, but I must return to him soon. It is time for you to go, Sandor.”

“Go?” he gave the boy a perplexed look. He must know what I said to his sister and now he wants me gone just as much as this bloody tree. Sandor turned away from the carved expression to face Bran; it did not stop the sensation of its red eyes piercing him.

“It is time for you to return to the place you died.”

“The place I…” He means the Quiet Isle. 

The Elder Brother warned me that the Hound must remain dead or else those seven gods would punish me. Could they take away the second life they granted me? Did they see how Sansa feared me? How I acted no differently from the Hound? If they did...

“You are not to die, Sandor. Not yet,” the boy seemed to read his thoughts. “Find the Elder Brother. He will explain to you what you must know,” Bran spoke passively. 

“And what? Leave my wife when she is with child?” Sandor asked, thoroughly disoriented.

“You must go. Sansa will wait.”

“The child will not,” he scoffed. “The Quiet Isle is a long way from here. What am I supposed to say to Sansa? That her little brother is sending me off without telling me why?”

“You must not tell Sansa. Should she know, she will beg for you to stay, and should she beg, you will refuse to leave. Yet you must,” Bran uttered. 

No, she begged me not to hurt her. She would never beg for me to stay.

“I can’t leave. Harry has demanded a trial by combat,” he remembered.

“You cannot be Sansa’s champion,” Bran said forebodingly.

“And why not?”

Bran’s head turned towards him unhurriedly, a half-dead boy with lifeless eyes. When Sandor met his gaze, he felt the stare from the weirwood tree behind him sharpen. “Arya will be her champion.”

“Arya? That girl is on her bloody death bed!” The thought made him sick with remorse. Dying all because I let her come with me to that buggering inn.

“Arya is somewhere else, for now,” Bran spoke catatonically. “I saw you in the yard. You were dueling Lord Hardyng to determine his guilt or innocence. Your regret and guilt weakened you while his lies and ploys strengthened him. He killed you with his steel and carved your face in half. Sansa went mad with grief, departing the ramparts to kneel beside you before anyone could stop her. Her hands trembled as she pressed your torn flesh together, hoping it might bring you back. Those in the yard could not watch and turned away; it was too gruesome of a sight for men to observe a widow piece her husband back together. In her misery, Sansa ripped a dagger from your sword belt and threw herself against Lord Hardyng. But before Jon could try to save her, Lord Hardyng shoved the steel still wet with your blood into her, killing her as well as your child in the process. Jon took his head off for it but Winterfell collapsed, Arya’s lungs failed her, and Daenerys Targaryen returned, ending my life as well as Jon’s after Drogon murdered his own brother, Rhaegal. Daenerys ruled the Seven Kingdoms.”

Sandor’s blood ran cold.

“That is what will happen should you be Sansa’s champion. That is what will happen should you not return to the Quiet Isle,” the boy added. A moment passed before Sandor could speak, the vision Bran had described haunting him to his core. 

“If I go, what happens then?” Sandor asked warily.

“Arya will live, Sansa will live, you will watch your daughter be born, Lord Hardyng will die, and Daenerys Targaryen will fail. That is what I know. I can see almost everything now.”

Then why in the bloody hells can he not tell me what I must do in the Quiet Isle? “I’ll leave tomorrow,” he sighed. 

“Tonight.”






“Girl,” he whispered.

Sandor sat down in the chair beside Arya’s bed, placing his hand on top of her damp forehead and brushed away the hair that had stuck there.

“When I slept on that milk of the poppy shite, I had awful fucking dreams,” he muttered. “I hope yours are better, wolf girl. You will be all right. I swear it.” 

When the door to the bedchambers opened, Sandor knew who it was without needing to look. You cannot tell her, you must not tell her. If I do not go...

“Little bird.” He turned in the chair and saw Sansa carrying in a bundle of clothes. My wife did not intend on retiring to our bedchambers and I do not blame her. 

“I’m staying with Arya tonight,” Sansa said. She walked past him without a glance and placed her clothes into the chest. Sandor stood from the chair, desperately wanting to wrap his arms around her and tell her that he would be leaving. If I tell her, I will not go. And if I do not go...

“I love you, Sansa.”

“Do you?” she asked him. “Sometimes I wonder.” Her words were sharp and intentional. She’s thought this over, he realized.

“I would die for you, little bird,” Sandor said. “I would--”

“No, you would kill for me. There’s a difference.” Sansa walked over to the brazier and bent over to stir the coals, watching as the fire quickened inside.

“I’d sacrifice my life to protect you,” he stressed.

“But you did not protect me from the one who hurt me the most,” she said despondently.

“Who?” he asked. Sansa stood from the brazier to face him, the glow from the flames illuminating her curves.

“The Hound.”

A hundred daggers to the heart would have hurt less than hearing her call me that. 

“I loved you and protected you even when I was the bloody Hound, Sansa,” he said.

“What did the Hound love other than killing? You said it to me yourself: ‘Killing is the sweetest thing there is’. The Hound was motivated by hate, not love.”

“Until I met you!” he exclaimed. “Even as a ruthless killer I knew I loved you.”

“Do you truly love me or do you only hate the idea of me loving someone else?” Sansa asked, her voice quivering. 

“What is this? A trick?” 

“Answer the question.” He noticed a single tear fall down her cheek.

“I love you and I hate the idea of you loving someone else,” he confessed. The answer led her to sob into her hands. Sandor had to grip onto the chair in front of him to keep himself from approaching her. If I touch her, I’ll tell her. And if I tell her, I won’t go. If I do not go...

“Because you don’t trust me,” she sniffled.

“I don’t trust them , Sansa. Any of them! All these bastards, lords, princes, and knights...all they do is take and they’d take you from me!” he shouted.

“Listen to you! You speak of me like I’m property! As if I cannot make my own decisions!”

“No, that’s not it, little bird. I know you can make your own decisions. That’s what is terrifying. You may have chosen me, but another man, a better man, could show up at any moment and only then may you realize what a poor choice you made.”

“I chose you because I love you!” she cried.

“And why did you decide to love an impulsive, paranoid brute?” he wondered out loud.

“I didn’t decide to love you, I just did! No one gets to choose who they love.”

Apparently not, for if she could, she would have never chosen me.

“You did choose to marry me though,” he added. “Go on and tell me that wasn’t a bad decision.”

The silence that had followed was far louder than their yelling had been. A thousand unspoken words passed between the two in the bedchamber, and all of them gut-wrenching.

“That’s what I thought, little bird,” Sandor said somberly. 

He paused to take one last look at her, studying the way her auburn hair fell across her shoulder, redder from the radiance of the brazier. He traced the curve of her lips with his eyes, wishing he could feel them on his own. His eyes met the swell growing in her belly, his daughter, desperately hoping he would survive long enough to meet her. The boy said I would, but he has been wrong before...

Lastly, he met her eyes, those blue eyes he loved dearly, and for once, he could not read her expression. How do I leave her? Even if she hates me, even if she wishes she never married me, how am I supposed to leave her? He considered staying until he visualized her lying on top of him, fatally stabbed along with their child, his face slashed in half, Winterfell burning, the young girl dead, her brother... If I do not go…

A burning sensation developed in Sandor’s eyes and he turned away from her quickly. His hand gripped the door handle viciously tight, opening it slowly just so he could extend the last moment with her, no matter how distressing of a moment it had been.

“Sandor,” she called out. 

His name on her lips stilled him. He wanted to slam the door, take her into his arms, kiss her until she lost her breath, and take her right there on the floor of her sister’s bedchamber. But if he did, he would never be able to leave. If I do not go...

Instead, he turned to look over his shoulder, squeezing the door handle firmer to prevent himself from giving in to his every desire.

“Never mind,” Sansa sighed. “It can wait until the morning.”

If only I’d be here, little bird.

Chapter Text

The storm during the night brought in heavy snow and squalling winds that battered against the shutters in Arya’s bedchamber, leaving Sansa awake and engrossed in her thoughts. 

She thought of the way Sandor had held onto her wrists, yelled in her face, called her a liar again and again. There was no denying that in that moment, she was truly worried that he might hurt her, even if not intentionally. 

I prayed once to the Mother, long ago, to gentle his rage. Yet to this day, he still struggles with his anger, his fear...me.

Despite what had occurred moments ago, the guilt of the words she had spoken to Sandor weighed heavily on her, as heavy as the winds that were beating against the window and forcing her to remain awake. 

How could I have called him the Hound? He is not that, not anymore, and I know this. He’s only imperfect...as we all are. And yet, that didn’t stop me from uttering that cursed name to him.

Sansa tossed and turned in the furs, listening to her sister’s slow breathing, the turbulent gusts outside, the cracking of the flames brewing in the brazier. All of it was still not enough to keep her thoughts at bay, to lessen her remorse.

I should go to Sandor and assure him that marrying him was not a poor decision. Why couldn’t I say it then? Have I, too, become so impulsive when angry that I do and say things I do not mean? Morning is many hours away...I can not wait. I will not wait.  

Sansa kissed her sister on the forehead before departing the bedchamber. Gently, she stepped down the corridor of the main tower, up a flight of stairs, and stopped just outside of the King and Queen’s bedchamber. With one hand on the handle, Sansa took a deep breath, resting her other hand on her belly.

You know he is not the Hound, Sansa told herself. You know he loves you. You know he would not hurt you. Stop convincing yourself otherwise. Gentle his rage.

Quietly, she opened the door.

The fire in the brazier burned low but still provided enough light for her to realize the bedchamber was empty. Sansa furrowed her brow and turned away apprehensively. Where could he be at this hour? she wondered. She paced down the spiral stone steps and onto the first level of the main tower where one of the guards on duty stood, a young man who had stayed behind during their travels to King’s Landing. Upon seeing her, he stood taller, shocked by her sudden approach during this late hour.

“Your Grace, all you all right?”

“Have you seen my husband?” she asked. Something about her question made his mouth gape open.

“He...left, Your Grace,” he uttered warily.

“Left? Left where?” Sansa felt her heart drop into the pit of her stomach along with the chill of icy fingers creeping up her neck.

“I do not know, Your Grace. I apologize...I thought you knew or else I would have notified you,” he stuttered, staring at his feet to avoid her bewildered gaze. Sansa slammed her hands into the door and stumbled out into the blustery yard. The guard behind her was calling out to her, undoubtingly warning her it was not safe to be out in such a storm, but his words, the wind, the storm, all of it was drowned out by the fear she felt.

A gust of frigid wind blew into her fiercely, stealing her breath away and nearly knocking her onto the thick blanket of snow. She was grossly underdressed to depart the main tower but there was no time to turn back now. Only a few paces were visible in front of her at a time as the snow swirled around her relentlessly. Her panic, along with the chaotic environment, disoriented her, causing her to lose all sense of direction of where she was headed. Sansa closed her eyes and imagined the yard in Winterfell, using her memory of her home to find the main gate.

As she approached, she opened her eyes and observed another guard huddled underneath a massive fur cloak inside of the tower that led up to the parapets. 

“Your Grace!” he yelled, offering his hand to bring her inside the tower. “You should not be out here!” He looked her up and down in horror, recognizing how scantily dressed she was despite the freezing temperatures.

“Where did my husband go?” she spoke breathlessly.

“Your Grace, he only gave us orders to open the gates and to close them once he left. He did not say anything else.” The guard unbuckled his fur cloak and wrapped it around her shoulders. “I’ll walk you back, Your Grace.” 

He...left me. I made him leave.

Sansa could not think of a response. She ripped the cloak off of her and pressed it against the guard’s chest. “No,” she breathed, turning back out into the yard without looking back.

Minutes later, after having fallen into the thick white mounds several times before returning to the main tower, Sansa stood outside her brother’s bedchamber. Her hands were frozen, her face was numb, and the snow that had attached itself onto her slowly melted into the fabric of her thin dress, dripping down from the length of her windblown hair.

“Bran,” she spoke in a hoarse voice. “Bran, are you awake?” 

“You may enter, Sansa,” he responded blankly. Sansa threw the door open at that, her breath shallow, and kneeled beside him in the wheeled chair. Despite the late hour, despite the storm, Bran sat beside the window with the shutters open, ever-welcoming of the winds and snow that danced violently out in the yard and into the bedchamber.

“Sandor...left.” I made him leave. Her deadened hands from the frost met the thin, cold, bony hands of Bran’s, clenching onto them desperately. “You need to find him, please.”

“I do not need to find him, Sansa.”

His refusal awoke an anger in her, causing her to stand up abruptly and slam the shutters of the window to a close. “Bran, he will die in this storm!” she cried.

“No, Sansa, he will not,” he said. His eyes lingered on the window shutters, watching them as if they had still been open.

Sansa scowled at him silently before the realization hit her all at once. “You knew,” she gasped.

“I know almost everything,” he said in a whisper. Sansa’s breathing became erratic, her panic setting in deeper now. 

“Where did he go? Why did he leave?” I made him leave.

“He went back. For you. I have to go now. Jon has returned and Rhaegal will not fare well in the storm. Goodbye, Sansa.” Bran’s eyes rolled back into his head; eyes becoming white and lifeless as they always did when he returned into something...else.

“Come back!” Sansa shook his shoulders, her tears dripping onto the furs in his lap. “Bran!” She collapsed onto the floor beside him, weeping against one of the wheels of his chair. He went back? Back where? For me...I made him leave. I pushed him away. 

She did not know how much time had passed before Jon ran into the room, his face flushed and panic-stricken. “Sansa, what is it?” He ran over to her and picked her up from the floor, easing her onto her feet.

“He…” Sansa tried to explain but she could not catch her breath over the overwhelming sobbing that took hold of her. Jon looked at Bran alarmingly and placed a hand on his chest, only to remove it once he found the heartbeat.

“Not Bran,” he sighed with relief. “Sandor?” Sansa nodded her head rapidly, burying her face into his ice-covered chest. “What happened?” he asked anxiously.

“He...left,” she wailed, the words on her mouth as painful as a stab to the heart. “He’s gone.”

Jon hugged her tightly, brushing her hair gently down her back with one hand in an effort to soothe her. The shutters to the window flew open as a riotous gust of wind threw itself against the tower. As a surge of snow entered the bedchamber behind her, all Sansa could think of was how Sandor was out there at this very moment. For me, she thought in agony. Because of me.






Sansa found no rest, no peace, and no sleep last night. Jon had walked her to her bedchambers, started a fresh fire in the brazier, and sat beside her on the bed, tucking her into the furs like a child. It was useless for her to try to explain what had occurred earlier that night. Each time she tried she would sob forcefully again, her speech becoming unintelligible. Eventually, Sansa gave up and submitted to laying there in silence with Jon. As she stared at the brazier, she found herself wishing she could see something, anything of her husband in the flames.

Hours passed and at first light, Sansa had exhausted her tears and sobs, leaving her eyes irritated and her throat raw. Once Jon had left her, she did not even bother to change her clothing nor brush her hair before grabbing one of Sandor’s cloaks he left behind in their chest and departing towards the Winterfell cells. He left me...because of me.

The blackened stone walls inside the cells were coated in a light frost. The storm dissolved an hour before first light, leaving behind a disarray of snow, wood, steel, and whatever else had been left out during the havoc. The handful of able men in Winterfell shoveled the yard as the sun rose, quickly creating a walkway in order to travel about the castle.

Sansa wrapped the oversized sable cloak around herself, the earthy smell of her husband still lingering on it. The smell, the nostalgia made her want to cry, but her eyes simply could not any longer.

“What did you say to my husband?” she spoke quietly in the cells, the vocalization irritating her sore throat. 

“S- Sansa...I will die in here.” Harry shivered underneath a pile of furs. 

“If you die in here consider it a courtesy. It would be far gentler of a death than what I wish upon you.” Sansa looked down onto the floor and saw an unlit torch against her foot, her heart beating faster with the realization of who it would have belonged to. For me, he left for me. Because of me.

Harry snorted weakly at that. “What a generous queen you are becoming,” he said hoarsely.

Sansa walked forward and stood with her body pressed against the cell, the bars colder than ice. “I asked you a question. What did you say to my husband?”

Harry lifted his face slowly from the furs, squinting, observing her for a moment. Afterwards, he scoffed saplessly. “Apparently not enough. You do not appear to have any bruises on you. Although...you do look quite awful.”

“Why are you so dishonorable?” she asked loathingly.

“Says the queen who has yet to accept my request for a trial by combat, leaving me to rot in a frozen bloody cell,” he spat. 

Sansa stood there as still as stone. He left because of me. “The trial will have to wait.”

“Wait? You can’t make me wait!” he whined. “I’m a lord! Tell your dog I’m ready for him even if I must duel him halfway frozen to death.”

“I said it will have to wait!” Sansa yelled harshly, the combination of grief and sleep deprivation overwhelming her.

“Oh,” Harry laughed throatily. “The dog didn’t hurt you, he left you!”

Sansa stood there, unmoving and in silence, waiting for his cruel humor to dwindle. He shifted underneath the furs, and slowly emerged, standing with his back against the frigid stone.

“I apologize,” he chuckled again before a pain in his body made him groan. “I did not expect him to leave you. Most men will settle on striking their wife a time or two should they become promiscuous. But to leave her when she is with child? Now there is a dishonorable act for you.” Harry pushed himself from the wall, making his way towards her.

“What did you tell him?” she asked yet again. Sansa took a couple paces back after his hand brushed up against her belly, clutching onto the bars.

“I’m sure you know the answer to that,” he gave her a wry, broken smile. In this proximity, Sansa could see what Sandor had done to him; his nose was fractured, both of his eyes were significantly bruised, and trails of dried blood were visible on his forehead and down his neck.

“I want to hear it from you,” she gritted her teeth. 

“I may have mentioned that I saw you and Dondarrion in the crypt together...something about whispering, kissing, his hand on your cunt...I seem to have forgotten what else. My head was tossed into a wall shortly after,” he glared at her. 

“Good. Now when I watch you freeze to death in this cell, I will repeat those same words to you so you will remember why I chose to forgo your trial,” she murmured coolly.

“You’d refuse me a trial?” His smugness was replaced by fear. A craven, she thought. “What do you think the Lords and Knights of the Vale will think of that?” Sansa had already considered that, however, that was a problem she would take care of when it presented itself. If they ever bother.

“Perhaps we can wait for your men to arrive before we conduct your trial,” she mocked him.

“That could be months from now, you stupid bitch!” He shook the bars of the cell feebly.

“I know,” said Sansa blankly. She picked up the dead torch from the ground and inspected it as if it could somehow bring her closer to Sandor. He left for me, because of me.

“You do this and you’ll be as dishonorable as your stray dog,” Harry said tauntingly. 

“That still would make me more honorable than you.”





 

An hour later, Sansa and Jon sat in the Great Hall on the dais conducting a lengthy and grueling meeting with the northmen and women who had remained in Winterfell. The information Jon received after flying south was dreadful at best: though Cersei Lannister was said to have died by Jaime’s own hand, Daenerys Targaryen lives, as does her black-and-red beast, Drogon. However, the dragon is said to be injured and unable to fly. Her Dothraki army is a mere tenth of what it had been before, and her Unsullied less than a quarter, due to the wildfire caches Cersei hid in several of the buildings in King’s Landing. While Daenerys would not be an immediate threat to them, Jon would not allow that to console them.

“She will come for us,” he said broodingly. “And when she does, she will burn the North to the ground.”

“Kneel!” an elderly man shouted. “You must kneel, Your Grace!”

“No!” another shouted. “She is our Queen! The Queen in the North!”

“Where is our King?” the elderly man asked the others. “He abandoned us! And she will, too! Just as she abandoned your sons, brothers, and fathers who fought in that bloody war!”

The surrounding guards along the walls of the Great Hall unsheathed their swords from their scabbards, pointing their steel at his back. “Your Grace, shall we take him to the cells?” one asked.

Sansa observed the old man and saw not anger, but pain. He has lost many in this endless series of wars...he grieves. Just as I do. “No,” she spoke.

“Th- Thank you, Your Grace, forgive me,” he bowed. “My son is...”

Likely dead, she wanted to say. During his travels on dragonback, Jon had found the Northmen traveling north along the Kingsroad. More survived than had burned from Daenerys’ dragon’s flames, roughly two-thirds returning to Winterfell, but they were war-weary; the travels back would be long and gruesome, especially in the winter. However, Lyanna Mormont, a girl, a child, led them along with spirit, Jon had said. They are in good hands with her, Sansa thought. 

“We will not bend the knee to Daenerys Targaryen,” Sansa informed the Hall. “We have a dragon of our own now and men who will return to us and protect our home.”

“Your Grace,” a young boy raised his hand from the trestle table. His mother slapped him on the wrist for speaking out. 

“You may continue,” Sansa said kindly, feigning a smile that felt foreign to her. How am I ever to smile again after Sandor...after he left for me...

“I just wanted to ask, where did His Grace go?” the boy asked despondently.

“He had his reasons.” Because of me. “That is all that can be said.” Because that is all that I know. 

“Yes, Your Grace,” he slumped into his seat. 

“As we continue to learn more, we will provide that information to you. Until then, pray excuse us,” Sansa stood from her chair, the small audience following suit.

“Sansa, why isn’t Bran here?” Jon whispered as they walked behind the dais. 

“I don’t know, too busy flying somewhere I suppose,” Sansa said with disdain. Bran knew that Sandor had left and yet he did not notify her. Furthermore, he would not use his abilities to tell her where Sandor went and that enraged her deeply. Bran betrayed me is what he did. My own brother, if he is even my brother at all anymore.

“I’ll go find him,” Jon sighed. “There’s food for you in your--”

“I’ll speak with you later, Jon,” Sansa interrupted, returning hastily to her bedchambers.

Once she entered, she came undone. 

Hiding her emotions had never been difficult for her, but now, now was different. Sandor, she thought miserably, latching the door behind her and falling onto the bed, tears cascading down her face. He left because of me.

She saw the food on the table that Jon had mentioned but she had no appetite. You will have to force yourself to eat, she told herself. For your child. For Sandor’s child. Sandor...

An hour passed and all she managed to do was stare up above her and simply exist. The sight of the canopy above the bed brought thoughts to her mind, welcome thoughts. Sansa could visualize how she would lay on her back just as she was now, and how Sandor would climb on top of her, thrusting himself inside of her. The more she thought of it, the more she could feel it, every single sensation: the furs underneath her back, his mouth on her breasts, his seed spilling inside of her and how she would clench around him every time. 

It was too much. Sansa grabbed the fabric of her dress and pulled it up over her belly, sliding her stockings and smallclothes down past her feet. As her fingers met her folds, she closed her eyes, imagining Sandor’s voice, the touch of his skin, how it felt as his coarse chest hair brushed against her nipples. She slipped two fingers inside of her and noticed she was soaking wet. As her fingers met their way in and out of her, she could hear the sounds Sandor would make when his cock would be inside of her. Listening how he growled, grunted, moaned, and cursed under his breath with every movement of his hips. Her left hand shifted to rub at her breasts, pulling them roughly from the confines of her dress as her right hand continued to pleasure her, faster. Sansa remembered the touch of his hair against her face, the heat from his mouth as he breathed heavily over hers, the sensation of his scarred cheek against her porcelain one, the saccharine smell of his sweat dripping off his body as he continued to thrust his length inside of her again and again…

Sansa was overcome with pleasure, writhing on the featherbed as she embraced the erotic, pleasant visuals in her head. These were the real visions of Sandor, not the anger, nor the jealousy, and certainly not the Hound. “Sandor” , she whispered after her peak. He’s always loved me. Always, she realized too late, rolling over onto her side as her tears returned to her once again.

Chapter Text

Eight-and-forty days had passed and Sandor nearly died twice as many times.

Sandor had been convinced that he was going to die the first night of his travels as that vicious snow storm fell upon him. Did her bloody little brother only want me to leave tonight so I’d die? Was everything he said a falsehood just so I’d leave? Had he insisted that I leave tonight so I would be taken from this world in one buggering storm?

Despite the severity of the first night, he and his horse managed to survive it. The rest of his travels were effortless in comparison after dodging death itself. Though the weather may have cleared, Sandor’s thoughts remained heavy and burdensome. 

My little bird. How will she react when she discovers that I am gone? Will that strange brother of hers tell her why? Or will she feel relieved, safer even, now that I have left? 

Sandor did not make camp until late morning the first day. He would not have bothered to rest at all if he didn’t have to worry about his mount breaking a leg. Then how will I return to that buggering isle? he thought. Once he made camp, he quickly regretted not taking more provisions with him. He rushed as he gathered what he could, hoping to not raise suspicion and have one of the guards notify Sansa of what he was doing before he could depart.

If I did not leave, she would have died, as would the sister, myself, her brother, that bastard-turned-King...I had to leave, no matter how much I hated it.

The spot he found to rest was further off the Kingsroad, beneath a thicket of dead trees whose branches were blanketed with snow. Sandor quickly started a fire, brushed, watered, and fed his mount, and laid atop his bedoll, knowing he would never find sleep over the grief he felt, over the sickness that consumed him after leaving her. 

Sansa. The thought of her as he laid on his back sparked his carnal desire and before long, he found himself reflecting on the day she had straddled him inside the tub. Sandor closed his eyes, remembering how impossibly beautiful she looked when she stood from the tub. He recalled the hunger that had been in her eyes, the way she bit her lip, her swollen breasts, the way the water dripped off her nipples and onto the swell of her belly as she approached him, how it felt as she lowered her cunt on top of him in that warm, fragrant water...

Sandor could not take the intoxicating thoughts any longer. He reached his right hand inside his trousers, ignoring the frigid environment around him, and stroked his cock to the thought of her moaning, the gushing sounds as his length thrusted inside of her wet folds, and the way she would tighten around him with her release.

Not more than a minute had passed before his seed began to spill in his hand. Despite his sharp peak, the relief ended as soon as it came, providing nothing other than an upsurge in the temptation to mount his horse and return to Winterfell, and to Sansa. I must go to the Quiet Isle, he reminded himself, throwing his fists against the ground. If I do not…

The days that followed were much the same. He would ride all day, make camp shortly after dusk, fantasize about fucking Sansa to obtain his fleeting pleasure, and sob afterwards over her absence before falling asleep. On occasion, he would come across weary travelers along the Kingsroad, even a few Knights of the Vale who appeared to have abandoned their duties. Sandor kept himself hidden the best that he could, managing to only get into a few brawls with the unfortunate brave men who meant to rob him in the night.

Eight-and-forty days had passed and then the island appeared.

The tide was out when he approached the Quiet Isle, forcing him to have to walk through the thick mudflats that surrounded it, praying to all the gods of the world that he had not come all this way only to die in quicksand.

The gods must have heard his silent prayers or he was more agile than he believed. Sandor managed to make it safely to the shore alongside his horse, walking up a pebbled path that led to the septry. As he approached the wooden sept with its leaden glass windows, in the front near the entrance stood the Elder Brother with a pleasant smile on his face.

“Come to dig our graves again, brother?” the tall man jested. Sandor found no humor in it.

“That’s not why I’m here,” he muttered, leaning his weight against the outer wall of the sept. “I’m hoping you can tell me why I had to leave my wife, who is with child, in the gods forsaken winter to come find you.” The Elder Brother’s smile grew solemn.

“Did you kill any men during your travels?” he asked Sandor.

“I came close,” he admitted. “One fool tried to rob me but I hit him in the head with the flat of my sword. A few others made attempts, but no. I didn’t kill any of them. Westeros appears to be scattered with broken, desperate men.”

The Northmen worst of all, Sandor thought. He had spotted them marching north along the Kingsroad late one evening. Had they seen him traveling south, there is no telling what they would assume he was doing but it would not be anything good, King in the North or not. Sandor veered off the road and rested as the column passed him unknowingly, a smaller column than had traveled south but larger than he thought had survived the Dragon Queen’s wrath.

“That is the truth of it,” the Elder Brother interrupted his thoughts. “War often makes men forget who they are,” he gestured for Sandor to follow him inside the sept where a group of brothers sat inside, praying as silently as ever. “And did you lay with any women during your travels?”

Sandor gave the Elder Brother a disgruntled look. “Lay with another woman besides my wife? Are you mad?” The brothers inside the sept looked over their shoulders after his loud response, each of them garbed in the brown-and-dun robes he once wore. A genial smile returned on the Elder Brother’s face as he sat down on the wooden bench closest to the entrance.

“You truly love this woman,” he had said. It was not a question. Sandor sat beside the man, closing his eyes momentarily to picture Sansa and how she had looked the last moment they shared together. He winced when he thought of her disappointment...her fear.

“I do,” Sandor sighed with remorse. “I love her more than you love your Seven gods.” The Elder Brother placed his hand on Sandor’s shoulder. Despite the unwanted gesture, Sandor did not shrug him off.

“Then, brother, why have you mistrusted this woman?” the Elder Brother asked. Sandor looked at him warily. 

“How do you know this? Are you a Three-Eyed Crow like that strange little brother of hers?” Sandor’s question made the Elder Brother burst with laughter.

“No,” he finally said, wiping the tears that had collected in his eyes. “There are other ways of knowing. The Crone guides me and the Seven have blessed me with abilities that few others possess,” he removed his hand from Sandor’s shoulder and shifted his gaze towards the statue carved in the likeness of the Warrior. “When I found you, I buried you, but only the part of you that needed to die. The Hound. Sandor Clegane may live, but that does not mean that you are free from sin. How many men do you think the Hound would have killed to travel here?” 

Sandor snorted. “The Hound would have never bothered to travel here to begin with.” That made the Elder Brother produce another hearty laugh.

“True enough. But no, you are no longer the Hound. You value life, even the life of those who mean to do you wrong,” the Elder Brother shifted his gaze towards Sandor.

“I’ve killed men,” Sandor admitted. “But--”

“Only to protect. And the Seven are forgiving and understanding. It is why the Warrior lends you his strength. But us men are not the gods themselves. And from time to time, we fail...we sin. You may no longer be motivated by hate as you once were, but your fear leads you down treacherous paths. Not fear of your brother, nor fear of fire, but fear of losing the only woman you have loved,” the Elder Brother sighed. “Women can instill a fear in a man deeper and more powerful than the one he will face in battle. Wars have been started over a woman’s love. Despite these fears, you must trust this woman. Trust is fundamental, brother. Without it, all is lost.”

Sandor shifted his gaze towards the floor, revolted with himself as he remembered what he said to Sansa in the crypt, how he yelled at her, accused her, and frightened her. “She fears me. I thought she...” Sandor paused. “I can’t understand why--”

“Why she would love you?” the Elder Brother finished. “Perhaps it is time you stop asking yourself that question. Perhaps it is time to stop wondering how after all the hate and anger, you managed to find happiness and love. The Seven brought you and her together for a reason. The Mother has blessed her with a child, your child. You fear that she may love another, that she will regret her decision, but you must trust her just as she must trust you. If you do not, the very thing you fear will happen.” The Elder Brother stood from the bench and strode towards the entrance. “It is time for you to return to your wife now, brother. It is time for you to trust her.” Sandor looked over his shoulder in disbelief. 

“Eight-and-forty days I spent getting here just for one conversation? Couldn’t you have sent this message in a parchment?” Sandor stood and walked beside the Elder Brother who was chuckling once again.

“Your trials getting here have no doubt reminded you of how far you have come from being the Hound. You said it yourself, you did not kill one man, even a man who meant to rob you. And though you may hate the separation, the distance...there are times when it can strengthen the bond between man and wife. It allows you time to reflect, to appreciate, and to understand. Once the two are together again, that bond will be stronger than it was before. As it will be for her just as much as you. You are not the only one who needed time to reflect.”

Sandor thought back to the last time he had spent a great deal of time away from her, back when he traveled to the Wall with the Northmen, Thoros, and Beric to prove himself loyal to the north. 

Seven hells, Beric, he thought. If you can hear my thoughts in whatever hell that flaming lord you worshipped so much put you in, forgive me for thinking you would have taken Sansa from me. Without you, I’d have lost her long ago.

“And one more thing,” the Elder Brother reached inside a pocket on his robe, pulling out a small, thin jar containing a crystalline liquid.

“What is this now?” Sandor asked cautiously. 

“The Alchemists’ Guild is a sinful order. They produce substances that are meant to destroy men, not heal them. The powder that the girl inhaled, it sticks to the lungs and festers, resulting in a tenacious cough that will make it unbearably painful to breathe. Despite the pain, over a year may pass before it claims the life of who it has infected. There is still time, brother. Here,” the Elder Brother handed Sandor the jar, the liquid inside of it making the glass hot to the touch. “For the sister.”

 


 

Eight-and-forty days south turned into one-and-fifty on the return to Winterfell. 

Although the snow storms came frequently, Sandor was relieved that they never lasted long nor were they severe. Before his departure from the Quiet Isle, the Elder Brother had given Sandor a gratuitous amount of provisions, even offering him a fresh mount in exchange for the horse he came with. The new horse was able and quick, a courser nearly as large and dark as his stallion Stranger had been. He made good time during his travels considering the inclement weather, rarely encountering other men traveling along the Kingsroad and those he did had given him no trouble.

On his first night after making camp, Sandor heard the rustling of fallen leaves and sticks within the woods. When his horse began to panic, Sandor unsheathed his sword, surveying the area from which the sound came from. He saw the dark golden eyes first, the mass of grey fur second. A wolf, larger than he could believe, eased its way towards him. Not just a wolf, it’s a bloody direwolf, he realized. When he meant to slash at the beast with his steel to drive him back, he realized the direwolf was not threatening him, appearing to somehow be tamed. Sandor lowered his sword slowly and allowed the grey wolf to come forward once again. The massive beast gently nipped at his fingers. Sandor sheathed his sword and pet the beast on his head, utterly bewildered at its size and how docile he was. When the direwolf met his gaze, Sandor nearly fell onto the ground. Arya? he wondered. Her brother said she was somewhere else...did he mean here? In this creature? 

The wolf leapt onto his bedroll and circled it several times before curling up to fall asleep beside the fire. It is her, he realized in astonishment. The she-wolf is camping with me just as we did many times before, several years ago. 

 


 

One-and-fifty days had passed before the castle of Winterfell was on the horizon.

It was past dusk when he arrived. The direwolf, who was somehow Arya, had only traveled with him until he departed the Riverlands before heading back south. He missed the company of the she-wolf, but soon enough he could give the real girl the liquid provided by the Elder Brother, returning her back to her family, healthy at last.

The castle stood against a deep grey overcast with a gentle snow falling down onto the ground. It had been a long time, several months, since he had last been here. All Sandor could think of as he rode forward was Sansa. 

What will she say to me? Will she want me to go back? Will she be happy I’ve returned? Did she ever learn from her brother why I had to leave? And gods, our child...Sansa will be on the birthing bed in a couple short months. Finally, after all this time apart, he would see her, see how the swell in her belly had grown, see those blue eyes he dreamed of for months, feel her lips press against his own... and this time, I’ll trust her.

Sandor urged his horse into a gallop, riding forward with haste to reunite with his wife at last.

Chapter Text

There was fire, and then there was blood.

Sansa ran to the only place she knew would be safe, the place she should have stayed once before, the place that her late husband had told her not to leave. To the crypt, she told herself. Go to the crypt.

Her hands met the ironwood door forcibly, sending an unbearable shooting pain throughout her wrists. Sansa ran down the narrow, winding stone steps into the utter darkness, using her memory of the layout to find her son’s tomb and crouch beside it. If I am to die, let it be beside my son.

The darkness was all consuming, leaving Sansa with only four of her senses. She heard the sound of men shouting from above, tasted the chilliness of the air underneath the ground, smelled the smoke from the flames raining down on the castle, and felt something wet produce between her legs, colder than ice.  

Lifting her dress, Sansa placed her hand in between her legs and felt a spot in her hose that was entirely drenched. It can’t be blood, it’s too cold. But as she lifted her hand to her face, the singular metallic scent filled her nose.

“No,” she whimpered. “Not again.” She placed her hands over her swollen belly and nudged it with her fingers, encouraging the child inside to make movement.

There was nothing.

“Oh gods, please,” Sansa cried. Her fingers pressed into her skin harder this time, waiting for a kick, a jab, any response that indicated her child was alive.

Again, there was nothing.

Sansa threw her head back against the stone as the wetness continued to puddle underneath her, sobbing inside the frigid black crypt. My father is dead. My mother is dead. My eldest brother is dead. My youngest brother is dead. My sister will soon be dead. My son is dead. My daughter is dead. Winterfell is burning to the ground. And Sandor, my husband, is...dead. What is left for me? Nothing other than death.

“Please,” she prayed to the old gods in between sharp breaths. “Just take me.”

If I die now, I will never have to marry again. The thought made her pray for death harder until she was cut off by the sound of the ironwood door opening and closing shut in the darkness, followed by the sound of heavy footsteps approaching.

“Little bird,” a voice called out in the darkness.

Sansa gasped. The old gods have heard me, she thought with delight. I’ve died and somehow Sandor has been waiting for me here all this time.

Once the footsteps halted directly in front of where she was crouched, large hands picked her up by the waist and cradled her like a child.  “Gods,” he muttered under his breath, a calloused hand brushing the side of her face. “Open your eyes, little bird.”

They are open, Sansa thought. It’s only too dark.

When she felt his lips meet hers, the coarseness of his facial hair grazing against her face, and smelled the sweat lingering on his skin, Sansa jolted awake. Her eyes fluttered open with urgency, discovering that there was light inside the crypt now.

And pressed up against her lips in flesh and blood, there was Sandor.

“What are you doing sleeping down here, little bird? You’re freezing.” Sandor brushed his hand against her cheek again as Sansa broke into a sob.

“You’re dead.”

“No. I’m here, girl,” Sandor whispered as his hand traced over the growing bump in her belly. “Gods, look at you,” he smiled.

Sansa’s hand had a mind of its own, ripping itself off his shoulder and slapping him across the face. “You…” she fought to speak over her erratic breathing. “You left me! I thought you died!” Sansa noticed the glimmer that developed in his eyes followed by the roguish smile on his lips.

“I’ve missed you,” he growled before his mouth fell onto hers. 

In his embrace, she wanted to hit him, smack him away until her fingers bled, but it was impossible; Sansa was desperate for him. She had dreamed of his touch, his embrace every night for months, fantasizing about how it felt when he would be inside of her.

Sansa let go of the confusion, the hurt, the betrayal and took his face into her hands, opening her mouth against his to allow their tongues to reunite. She let out a sharp whimper from the growing arousal she felt between her legs, the sound of it echoing down the dimly-lit floor. A groan so guttural escaped his mouth that it made her shudder, knowing there was a hunger within him so fierce that it would quickly devour her. Sandor kneeled down and eased her onto her back atop the mass of furs she had been sleeping on, realizing that the wetness she had felt in her dream was only the spilled flagon of water she had brought along with her.

Her desire to have him was as relentless as his was for her. Sansa ripped off her water-soaked hose and smallclothes before Sandor could finish releasing his cock from the confines of his trousers. Not a second was wasted before he leaned forward and slid inside of her, the two moaning in unison as pleasure greeted them once their bodies had joined. 

When Sandor pushed deeper inside of her, his eyes left hers when he felt himself pressing against her growing belly. He worries he might hurt the child, she thought. Without uttering a word, Sansa pushed herself up onto her elbows and slid his cock out of her, allowing her freedom to turn over and balance herself on her hands and knees. A deeper groan escaped him followed by his hands pulling her ass closer to him, guiding his cock inside her folds from behind. 

Their union in this moment filled her with a painful exhilaration. He was inside her again, filling her sex which clenched around his girth, and she never wanted it to end. Sansa needed him, more of him, all of him, even as she was having him. Her worries from the past few months were lost; his sudden departure, his apparent death, the Northmen, the Vale, Daenerys...all of it was forgotten. Now, she knew only Sandor, her husband, back from the dead yet again and taking her exactly how she wanted him to.

Sansa found herself innately pushing her ass higher into the air, arching her back and matching his rhythm, listening to the sound of her ass smacking against his skin. If this is a dream, I never want to wake, she thought. If I am dead, I never want to live. 

“Sandor,” she moaned. Once his name left her lips, nothing had felt more natural to her. His name was as pleasurable for her to utter as it was to have him inside her. “Sandor,” she whimpered again, pushing her ass against his groin. Following a throaty moan, she felt Sandor’s seed shooting inside of her as his hands squeezed tightly onto her hips to slow her pace. The sensation, along with the sounds of deep fulfillment leaving his mouth, sent her to her own consuming release, causing her to buck her ass against him harder in spite of the strong grip he had on her. 

Seconds after her pleasure ended, he collapsed onto the edge of the furs, panting fiercely from his powerful release. Sansa remained on her hands and knees for a moment, feeling the heat of his seed drip down her thigh. The two were utterly silent aside from their rapid breathing. Sansa found herself crawling over to him and rested her head against his chest, just as she had done many times after their lovemaking.

“You left me,” she whispered after a moment, the pain of his sudden departure infuriating her all over again. “I thought you were dead!” she shouted as she sat up on the furs with tears welling in her eyes. “I thought you died!” Sansa slammed her hands against his chest several times before he gently took them into his own, intertwining their fingers. “You left me without even saying a word!”

“I had to,” he said remorsefully. “Your brother told me I needed to go. If I didn’t--”

“Bran told you?” Sansa interrupted. “Bran said you left for me but he refused to tell me anything else. I thought it was because of what I said to you...and what I didn’t say.”

“I did leave for you.” Sandor sat up, placing her into his lap. “He told me if I didn’t, you’d…” he winced. “I had to leave, girl. I had to go back to that bloody Quiet Isle and find the Elder Brother. For us. He even gave me something for your sister.” 

He doesn’t know about Arya. He doesn’t know how much worse her breathing has become.

“The maester says Arya will...die,” Sansa sobbed into his chest. “There’s nothing he can do for her. She is constantly taking the milk of the poppy. She cannot stand the pain if she is awake.”

“She won’t die,” Sandor said as he wiped her tears away. “Not anymore. Your brother told me she would live if I went. He even said she would be your champion, that is unless...what happened to the trial?” 

That single question resurrected all the stresses she had forgotten during their lovemaking; all the pressures and realities from the past few months weighed down on her again, all at once.

“Oh gods, Sandor,” was all she could say. Sansa’s arm pressed against his chest, and inside she could feel the beating of his heart begin to escalate.

“What, girl? What is it? Is he already dead?” he asked anxiously.

“No,” Sansa breathed as she met his gaze, unable to look away from the dread developing in his eyes. “You didn’t see them outside?”

“See who? As soon as I entered the gates I grabbed the nearest bloody guard and ordered him to tell me where you were.” Sansa watched as he was consumed by apprehension.

“Sandor, I thought you were dead. We all did,” she said, her hands trembling in his. “Bran was always in that dragon and when he was awake, he wouldn’t tell me.” Sansa started to cry again as the memories fled back to her. “When our army returned, they said they saw no sign of you anywhere.”

“I saw them,” he grimaced. “I avoided them on purpose. I thought they might think I abandoned you. I didn’t know what they would do to me if they thought that.”

“That’s precisely what they think,” she sighed heavily. “You don’t know what it’s been like. The northmen are divided, Sandor. Half of them remain ever loyal, while the other half…” she sat up from his lap and let her dress fall over her bare legs, the chill inside the crypt beginning to overwhelm her much like the chill she felt telling him the grim news. “I don’t know where to start. There were several knights who came on orders from the remaining Lords of the Vale, regarding Harry...”

“Where is he, Sansa?” Sandor blurted out. “Please tell me he is still in that cell.”

“He was,” Sansa said in a hushed voice, covering her mouth with her hands as if they would make the words less true.

Was ?” he exclaimed. “Where is he now?”

“He’s guarded...in the guest tower.” She dropped her arms to her sides, watching as he stood up slowly off the floor and laced his trousers. A stern look settled on his face when he grabbed her hands into his own again. I know now that he would never hurt me, but Harry...

“The guest tower?” he repeated in disbelief. 

“The knights who came to Winterfell brought a message from the Lords of the Vale; they made it a public display on purpose, they wanted our men to hear it. They demanded that Harry be released or they would declare war against the North, even threatening to offer their men to Daenerys. Jon says it won't be long before she marches to Winterfell. The Vale has more men than we do now, and our men are weak. Many are desperate for help after what happened in King’s Landing,” Sansa grabbed his face with her hands, hoping it would comfort him with what was to come next. “I sent a raven, informing the lords of the trial and explaining the extent of what his charges were. They do not believe the charges but they responded and offered terms for an alliance--”

“An alliance?” he boomed. “Who the bloody hell do these lords think they are? Their foolish Lord of the Eyrie would have killed me after fucking you right in front of me! Why would they expect us to let the buggering cunt and his knights go?”

“They don’t,” her voice quivered. “They have agreed it is my right to hold a trial and they will allow it, but as I said they had terms.”

“You’re the Queen in the North, little bird. You don’t need their bloody permission and they can’t demand terms,” he muttered angrily. 

“They can, Sandor. They know we will not survive another war against Daenerys, even if we have a dragon, she does too. She still has more men than us and if the Vale were to join her…”

“They sided with Cersei! Daenerys will burn them down before they are a threat to us!” Though Sandor was yelling, Sansa knew it was not directed towards her.

Harry sided with Cersei, Sandor. The lords will use that distinction to their benefit. It is known that Daenerys has lost many men, even a dragon thanks to Bran. I do not think she will refuse their help should they offer it, especially if she knows they have disdain for us. Half the Northmen will riot against us should we refuse the Vale’s terms, fearing that Daenerys will undoubtedly win if given their help.”

“All right, girl,” Sandor sighed. “So we’ve allied with the Vale since I’ve been gone. Now when’s the bloody trial?”

“In three days,” she muttered warily. “Jon has offered to be my champion.”

“Jon?” Sandor bellowed. “No. After this, it’ll be me he faces.” A disturbing thought must have passed through his mind as Sansa watched him wince. “Or...Arya. It has to be Arya.”

“Arya can’t--”

“She will. Your brother saw it,” he frowned. “And Harry...in the bloody guest tower. What for? Did his knights threaten you?” Sansa felt a jab in her belly as her child stirred around inside of her. 

“He’s guarded by our men who have proven loyal to us,” she said. “Our other men, they thought it dishonorable of me to house a man in such conditions and expect him to be able to defend himself properly in a trial by combat.” Her hands left his face and she clutched her belly. “I had to hear their grievances. I will not be that queen.”

“You’re telling me our own men are defending him now?” he snorted with contempt. “How could they possibly--”

“They do not have love for him, but they have more love for him than they do you,” she whispered, hot tears falling down her cheeks yet again. She could feel his grave stare on her as she looked at the spot of the furs where the water had spilled, the tension in the air growing with each passing second.

“And what else are these disloyal men requesting?” Sandor asked.

“The same as the Lords of the Vale,” she whispered.

“Which is what?” Sansa could sense the trepidation in his voice.

“The Vale has agreed to support us whether Harry dies in his trial, or if he lives, with the condition...” she trailed off, wiping a tear before it fell from her cheek.

“Little bird, if you pause one more time my heart will fail on me right here in this bloody crypt,” he muttered anxiously.

“We all thought you were dead,” Sansa bawled. “I knew Jon would never lose, not against Harry. If there was ever a doubt, I would have never agreed--”

“Agreed to what, girl? What’s the condition?” he begged, grabbing her arms firmly to pull her close.

“Many of our men want security, an alliance with a house that can rebuild the North. Had I not agreed, I do not know what would have happened. I only did it to keep them at bay, Sandor; I knew Jon would never lose. We all thought you were dead. Even if you are here again, many still have no love for you and would rather me...” Sansa saw the dejected look on his face as he pieced her words together. 

He grabbed her head in between his large hands, but gently, desperately, as if in any moment she could vanish into thin air. 

“What are you telling me, Sansa? If Harry wins this trial, then what?” Their child kicked her again, but this time Sandor felt it too since her belly was pressed against him, causing him to startle at the sensation.

“I’ll have to marry him.”

Chapter Text

“No, Your Grace! You mustn't!” a Winterfell guard shouted as he broke into the bedchamber.

Sandor strode over to the bed, picking up the sleeping lord by his collar and tossing him onto the ground with brute force. The impact caused Harry to yelp loudly, pushing himself across the stone to create distance between himself and his attacker.

“Oh bloody hell,” Harry groaned.

Before Sandor could seize him again to toss him out the window, two of Harry’s knights entered the bedchamber, clad in armor with steel in hand despite the late hour.

“Stand down!” one shouted.

“You’re giving me orders in my own bloody castle?” Sandor laughed contemptuously. “I can’t tell whether you are a lackwit or buggering mad!”

“Your queen gave us her word Lord Hardyng would no longer be harmed before his trial!” the knight barked. Sandor looked down at the cowardly lord underneath him, snarling at him before walking across the room. 

“Sandor!” Sansa entered the bedchamber and pushed herself between the knights, breathless and clutching her belly. “You can’t.”

My little bird and her honor, he thought. Who am I to try and destroy it?

“Get those swords away from my wife!” Sandor bellowed at the knights. The two obeyed, but not before frowning at him with disdain. “I won’t touch this fool but I will speak to him.”

“I’m staying, then,” Sansa said.

“No, girl. You need to go to your sister. Find the jar wrapped in my saddlebag and give it to her. I’ll come find you when I’m done.” Sansa opened her mouth as if she were about to oppose but instead, she only nodded.

“And you two,” Sandor shifted his gaze towards the knights. “Out.”

“We will not leave--”

“Oh, leave us,” Harry muttered on the ground. “You two had no problem leaving me when that bloody dragon came!” he whined. “And I hope the dog does hit me again. Let him make his wife’s word meaningless to us all.”

The men looked at one another warily before departing their lord. Sandor was taken by surprise when Sansa sauntered over to him and stood on her toes, wrapping her arms around his neck to give him a deep, passionate kiss. However, that kiss gradually turned into a lengthy embrace that included her tongue and a moan escaping her lips. She’s taunting the dumb cunt, he realized. Sandor wanted to burst into laughter, knowing Harry was certainly appalled by the sight, but instead he found himself longing for her again, his arousal stimulated by the boldness she was displaying. 

When she broke away, Sandor noticed her glare at Harry, no doubt using her imagination to stab him with that dagger she had hidden in her sleeve inside that tent.

That piercing stare of hers is far more beautiful when it’s not directed towards me, Sandor thought as he eagerly watched her ass sway as she departed the bedchamber.

When the two were alone, Harry pushed himself off the floor and muttered under his breath, wiping the fresh blood that dripped from his lip. The lord walked beside the bed and grabbed a flagon of wine from the table to pour himself a cup. As he drained it away, Sandor pressed his back against the door, latching it when Harry was not looking, and crossed his arms against his chest, staring at the blonde repugnantly.

A minute had passed before the silence ended. “So, the dog is alive once again,” Harry said before pouring another cup. “You’ve come back from the dead almost as many times as Dondarrion.”

“Shut your buggering mouth about him,” Sandor growled.

“Oh, now you want to defend him?” the lord chuckled. “You are slow.”

“And you are clever, aren’t you? How did you manage to conjure up this scheme in a bloody cell?” 

“Scheme?” Harry played dumb. “What scheme?”

“TRYING TO MARRY MY WIFE!” Sandor shouted. The blonde guffawed at that, and emptied the contents of his cup with one swig. 

“When have I ever wanted to marry her after she spoiled her best parts on you ? Not to mention she nearly killed me with a bloody dagger,” he glowered at him. “No, discuss that with the Lords of the Vale. They were furious when I let Lord Baelish marry her and it would appear they have never forgiven me for it. Wanting me to marry her, ” he scoffed. “They were quite fond of Sansa when she was that bastard, Alayne. The lords desire an alliance with her as much as many of your men desire an alliance with the Vale. However, do not think they would not side with the Targaryen whore if they must. The lords will do what they must to come out on top at the end of this continuous war.” He poured himself another cup and chugged it straightaway. “I don’t know why you pretend to care so much. You’re the one who left her.”

Sandor clenched his fists tighter against his chest. “Well I’m here now, you little shit. You won’t be able to marry her even if you do win your bloody trial.”

Harry shrugged and Sandor noticed that his confidence was increasing with every cup of wine. “I will and I must. Sansa gave me, the lords, and her men her word; she will have no choice but to have her marriage with you annulled. Should she refuse, I have no doubt there are plenty of men who will gladly take care of you. And this time, you’ll stay dead.” Harry gave Sandor a wry smile. “Oh and don’t worry about the child, I have bastards of my own. I don’t mind raising another. That is, unless your child happens to mysteriously die shortly after birth.”

Sandor charged forward but was able to stop himself just before his hands could strangle the lord’s neck. “When you are bleeding to death out in that yard, I’ll make sure it is me who ends your suffering by snipping your neck,” he snarled. 

“Suffering...try being locked in a frozen cell for months,” Harry grimaced, downing another cup of wine. “I don’t know how the Night’s Watch ever did it up there, beyond the Wall. Sansa enjoyed that, I think. Torturing me,” he said, slamming his cup against the table. “And I’ll give it back to her as good as she gave it.”

Using the little self-restraint he had left, Sandor prevented himself from tackling the lord, throwing a fist against the stone wall to release his fury.

“Open the door!” a knight shouted from outside, pounding against the latched oak.

“No need!” Harry shouted back, sneering at Sandor. “I’ve been out in the yard preparing for the duel with the former bastard. I may no longer be as strong as I once was thanks to your wife confining me in a cage, but I would wager that I am quicker than him. I look forward to hearing the song the musicians will sing about the handsome lord who killed the bastard-heir to the Iron Throne, proving his innocence to all of Westeros and mounting a queen as his reward. The taverns will love that one,” he giggled drunkenly.

You wouldn’t be quicker than the little she-wolf, Sandor thought. But how is the girl supposed to regain her strength in three days? Her brother said it would be her, that it had to be her. If he is wrong...

“You’re a fraud. I hate frauds,” Sandor spat. “Bugger your little words. You won’t mean spit to me in three days once I toss your corpse over these bloody walls.”

“Or,” Harry slurred. “Maybe it’ll be me tossing your corpse over the walls just before I fuck your widow.”

Before Sandor could make the horrendous mistake of throwing Harry out the window, rapid knocking came at the door.

“Sandor!” Sansa exclaimed. He stepped urgently towards the entrance, unlatching it and ripping it open with one quick motion.

“What is it?” he asked, his heart aching once he observed the tears that cascaded down her face.  

“Arya,” she cried.

No, Bran saw her live...he saw her fight. The Elder Brother said it wasn’t too late. She can’t be…

Sansa wrapped her arms around his waist, burying her face into his chest. “It didn’t work,” Sansa sobbed. “She’s dead.”

Sandor left the drunken lord to chuckle alone in his bedchamber and took Sansa’s hand, quickly making their way towards the main tower.

When they arrived, the maester stood outside the door, weeping. Weeping, just like he did in my dream, long ago. Just like when my little bird gave birth to our son, too young to live. The memory always haunted him.

His hand pushed open the door reluctantly, praying silently to all the gods in the world that the girl would live. As they entered, he realized his prayers would go unanswered.

The girl was pale, still, unbreathing, and in the distance, a wolf howled.

Chapter Text

“I should have been kinder to you,” Sandor mumbled. “You were a bitch, the meanest, coldest child I have ever met, but you were…” his throat tightened and a wetness fell onto his scarred cheek. “You were like a daughter to me. I should have never let you come with me to that inn.”

He let his head fall atop the edge of the bed as he sat in the oaken chair during the last hours of the night, pondering how both Bran and the Elder Brother could have been wrong. Sansa was overwhelmed with grief; to keep her and the child safe, Sandor had carried her back into their bedchambers, laying with her until she fell asleep. Afterwards, he returned to Arya, praying to any god who would hear him that she would be awake this time when he entered. However, those prayers proved to be futile.

“We’ll name our daughter after you, I swear it,” he sobbed into the furs. “As long as my Arya doesn’t leave me for dead one day like you did. I know you enjoyed that, you bloody she-wolf...watching me beg for mercy. I’m glad you never gave it. If you had, I never would have found Sansa again. I never thanked you for that.”

Sometime later, the rustling of the bedsheet startled him awake.

“If you’re here, I must be in hell.”

Sandor’s head jerked up from the bed. In front of him sat the little sister, bright-eyed, her skin flushed with color, healthier and more alert than he had ever seen her.

“Seven fucking hells,” he panted. 

The Elder Brother is no ordinary healer, he thought. I knew that when he saved me when I was on the brink of death. He’s no less of a servant to his Seven than Beric was to that flaming lord of his...ordinary men who were granted extraordinary powers for their faith. 

“You look like shit,” Arya said. This time when the girl spoke, she did not cough or wince. Sandor sat there with his mouth gaped open, unable to comprehend how it was only hours ago that she was a gaunt, cold little corpse and yet somehow now she was a living, breathing, healthy girl.

“It did work,” Sandor thought out loud. 

“I was with you in the Riverlands,” she remembered. 

The direwolf was her. Of course it was her. Nothing in this world should surprise me anymore, not after riding on the back of a bloody dragon.

“I need to wake up Sansa,” Sandor said as he stood quickly from the chair. 

“Not yet.” 

The objection puzzled him. “Your sister cried all night over you. I had to carry her to our bedchamber just so she would not go into shock again. Yet now you say you don’t want to see her?”

Arya jumped out of the bed, nimble and quick as ever. She was wearing a thick grey linen gown that looked queer on a girl he had always seen dressed as a boy. 

How did her muscles not shrink from sleeping so long? Sandor wondered. Whatever was in that jar, that heated transparent liquid, it did more than just heal her lungs. 

The girl giggled to herself as she walked about the bedchamber, yet another queer sight for him to see, testing out her legs and taking deep breaths as if she couldn’t believe it herself. “It feels so strange...I’ve been in Nymeria for so long.”

Nymeria ,” he mocked. “You would name your bloody wolf Nymeria.” 

Arya sneered at him. “Why were you there?” she asked suspiciously, picking up her sword, Needle, from the table and circling it around with her wrist. “And why were you alone?”

“If I knew you could understand me inside your wolf I would have told you then. Bloody hells, you Stark women do not die easily,” he scratched at his beard harshly to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. And thank all the gods for that.

“Did you leave my sister?” Arya pointed the sword at his face.

“Do you think I’d ever leave her if I didn’t have to?” Sandor scoffed.

“No,” she admitted.

“Then get that buggering blade of yours out of my face!” he rasped.

Arya lowered Needle but the girl was no less wary. “Why did you go, then?”

“Your brother saw…” Sandor paused, deciding against explaining to her the appalling vision the boy had. “All you need to know is that if I hadn’t gone, you would still be dead right now. So shut your mouth and get rid of that attitude.”

The girl almost looked apologetic. “I saw men leave the Vale. They’re headed north. I wanted to tell you alone before Sansa--” 

“Sansa knows. They’re to be our allies,” he spat on the dying flames inside the brazier. Arya nearly dropped her sword before cursing under her breath.

“What happened with Harry?” 

Sandor sighed and collapsed back down into the oaken chair beside the bed, recounting all that had happened since she had been asleep. Much like he did when Sansa told him, she became enraged. Curses filled the bedchamber when she learned that Harry had been released from the cell and allowed into the guest tower. She squeezed the hilt of Needle so tightly when he explained the alliance with the Vale, the marriage included, that he thought the little weapon might snap. He even anticipated grabbing the girl just in case she tried to make her way over to Harry as he did.

Before Sandor could mention what Bran had said about the trial, the girl began muttering a violent string of words to herself. “I’ll fucking kill him,” she muttered. “And the ones who killed Gendry. I’ll find them and I’ll bash their heads in the same way.”

The girl’s tone frightened even him. “Jon named himself Sansa’s champion while I was away. He intends on being the one to kill Harry if your bloody old gods allow it.”

Arya grunted and searched around the room, finding a cloak that was folded inside the chest and a pair of boots beside the bed, unworn for months.

“And where do you plan on going, young lady?” he asked as he rose from the chair to block the entrance.

“To find Jon,” she mumbled, wrapping the cloak around her shoulders.

“Not now, you need to see your sister first.” Sandor paced a couple steps forward to take the girl’s arm.

“I’ll see her afterwards!” Arya yelled, ducking underneath him to pull the door wide open. 

Out in the corridor, in front of the entrance, was Sansa.

“Oh, gods,” was all she said as she stumbled back. Sandor lunged forward and grabbed her hand to bring her in close to him, preventing her from hitting the wall. Sansa’s eyes were so fixated on her sister, she didn’t even seem to notice him standing there. “You’re--”

“Alive,” Arya finished casually. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, sister. It’s long past due that I cross another name off my list.”

 




“I saw you with my own eyes,” Jon said before running up to hug Arya tightly.

Sandor and Sansa stood beside one another, watching the two embrace in the armory at first light. When Jon let Arya go, he stepped away as if to inspect if it was truly her. His pale direwolf, a beast even larger than the one Sandor encountered in the Riverlands, pressed forward and licked her hands affectionately. 

Could the wolf know she had been living as his sister all this time?

“You’re really--”

“Alive,” the girl groaned. “Now that we all have stated the obvious, I think it is time we discuss this trial. I want to be Sansa’s champion.”

Jon looked at her as if she spoke in a foregin tongue. “What? No, Arya, you can’t fight. I don’t know how you are able to even walk. You’ve been bedridden for--”

“He ordered his men to kill Gendry!” she roared. “And he laughed about it afterwards! They all did!” 

“I understand,” said Jon. “But I will not let you risk your life. Not again. Harry is dishonorable and will likely fight dishonorably as well.”

“I won’t lose!” she fought back.

“I said no, Arya!” 

“That’s not your decision,” Sandor cut in. “It’s mine and Sansa’s. Bran told me months ago the girl will fight.”

“You’d risk her life?” Jon glared at him. “I don’t see you offering your sword!”

“Out of all of us here, who do you think wants to kill that sorry little cunt into two the most?” Sandor rasped. “I am heeding the advice of the brother. He saw Arya fight and he saw Harry die! I’ve seen this girl in sword fights with worse than that blonde shit. Do you think I’d select a champion if I thought they would lose, forcing myself to hand off my wife to that buggering fool?” Sandor let out a deep sigh to regain his composure. “Let Arya avenge the boy she lost. As long as Sansa agrees with me,” he said, shifting his gaze towards his wife.

Sansa’s hair shone like fire in the rising sun that seeped into the armory. It never mattered what was occurring around him in the moment. Nothing could ever stop him from pausing to admire her incomparable beauty. Gods, when I have her alone again…

“Arya, the trial is in two days. That will not be enough time to prepare--”

“If he had murdered Sandor, what would you do?” Arya asked in an eerily monotone voice, sounding nearly identical to her Three-Eyed Crow brother.

Sansa’s blue eyes met his grey ones, staring at him with what he perceived as thoughtfulness, tenderness, and possessiveness. “I’d kill him,” Sansa answered. The uninhibited words leaving her mouth aroused him to no end.

“Then you’ll allow me to do the same for what he did to Gendry,” Arya added.

“All right, sister,” Sansa yielded after a moment of silence.

Jon brooded. “I’ll never forgive myself if--”

“You won’t have to,” Arya blurted, turning on her heel to depart the armory. 

“Now where are you going?” Sansa called out, chasing after her sister as fast as she could. Sandor followed her out but not before he could grab a freshly forged longsword from the armory. Jon only frowned at him. This one still hates me for leaving.

As the three passed the Great Hall, Sandor saw Harry walking across the yard, escorted by two Knights of the Vale along with the two Winterfell guards Sansa had assigned to watch over them. The blonde lord glowered at them as they approached.

“I thought you died,” he said to Arya disappointedly.

“No, but you will,” Arya pulled out her sword from her cloak and pointed it at the lord’s neck, forcing the two knights to match her threat with their own steel. Sandor pulled Sansa behind him before holding the new longsword in between Arya and the men.

“Careful, now. You wouldn’t want to get your face cut, or worse, smashed in, by attacking the Lord of the Eyrie,” Harry smirked. In the blink of an eye, Sandor used his blade to knock Needle onto the ground just before the girl could push the point of it through Harry’s neck.

“Not yet, girl!” Sandor shouted. Harry fell back a few steps, conspicuously frightened by her shameless attempt.

Yet ? What do you mean yet?” the lord asked.

“You’re to fight the girl in the trial by combat,” Sandor said, pulling in Arya’s arm to keep her from making another impulsive decision. Impulsive, just like me, he thought. 

“A girl ?” Harry chuckled. “I see, Sansa. You must want me to win. Why else would you give me a child to fight?”

“She will not lose,” Sansa hissed at him. 

“She’s small, perhaps even quick, but she will tire fast. I was a knight before I was a lord. Sansa, you do remember watching me duel in the yard in the Vale, don’t you? You even used to cheer me on,” he grinned at Sandor mockingly.

“Yes I remember, which is why I know my sister will win.” The two Winterfell guards snickered at that and Sandor nearly did, too. As the conversation continued, he noticed the yard around them populating, no doubt they all were interested in what was being said.

“A funny queen, you are. And fond of torture,” Harry scoffed. “Have it your way. I’ll duel the girl if that’s what you wish.”

“Today,” Arya said.

Harry looked around the yard anxiously at the onlookers, then to his knights who seemed to be nodding for him to accept the challenge, only to return back to Arya with a grim expression on his face. “Today?” he murmured.

A bloody craven. He will never stand a chance.

“In an hour,” she added, followed by several gasps filling the air around them. Sandor watched as the color left Harry’s face. 

He thought he might live to see the end of today, but not anymore.

“Arya,” Sansa whispered. “You should take a couple days to--”

“An hour, then,” Harry feigned a confident grin. 

 


 

“Gods, I feel like I will be sick,” Sansa groaned as she pushed her plate away. “What is she thinking? She hasn’t even eaten real food in months and now she plans on entering a trial by combat!”

“She will be fine, little bird,” Sandor assured her as they broke their fast in their bedchamber.

“Because Bran saw it?” Sansa sighed. “Go try to see him now, you won’t be able to talk to him. He’s with that fucking dragon.” The curse that escaped her lips startled the both of them, causing him to burst out into laughter.

Sansa sat beside him at the table, impassive.

“Well I’m glad you’re happy,” she grumbled, tossing a rasher of bacon at him. “Bran didn’t mention that Arya would die before living, did he? He didn’t mention to me why you left, even though he knew. Sometimes I wonder why he must be so cryptic.”

“The boy likely didn’t mention it because he knew she would come back,” he shrugged. “Buggered if I know. I look forward to watching the girl slice at the fool with that little sword of hers,” he chuckled. “He’s a craven, you know that. Not one man would bet for him to come out the victor.”

“Bran said Arya will live, but he didn’t say she wouldn’t get hurt,” Sansa said, leaning back into her chair and clutching her growing belly. The deep blue dress she wore was snug on her breasts, and despite himself, Sandor could not look away as the tops of them sat there, bulging out.

“It will be all right,” he murmured, forgetting what the conversation was about. “Come here.”

“What?” Sansa furrowed her brow. Her mouth gaped open slightly when she realized what he wanted. “We don’t have enough time for that,” she said as a shy, playful smile grew on her lips. 

“You know me, girl. With you, one minute is all I need.”

Sansa giggled and eased off the chair gently to sit in front of him on the ground, positioning herself on her knees where her head was level with his lap. Her hands slowly slid up his thighs and joined together where his cock lay stiff. He groaned at the sensation of her tugging at his laces, placing one hand around his manhood and the other stroking his bollocks. When her mouth fell down over the head of his length, he could only allow her to move her head up and down a few seconds before using his arm to discard the plates and food onto the floor and picking Sansa up to lay her on her back across the table. 

As he fervently pulled her hose and small clothes down over one leg, he watched as Sansa took a hand inside the low neckline of her dress, pulling out her breasts to let them spill out for him to see. It was then he realized he had not seen her breasts when he took her in the crypt. As he observed them with a vicious hunger, he saw they were significantly larger than they had been months ago and her nipples were a much darker shade of pink. Sandor salivated just by looking at them. 

“Please, I want you in me,” she begged, breaking his fixation from her breasts to return to her eyes. He held her thighs in his hands, and stepped closer to the table, guiding his length just to the outside of her entrance that glistened with her arousal.

“Sing that song again, little bird,” he whispered cravingly.

“I want you in me, Sandor,” she whimpered. 

He thought he might lose himself right there. Before he did, Sandor pushed his hips forward to finally allow his cock to enter her. As he thrusted, he watched as her swollen breasts bounced against her chest, so large, so extraordinarily supple, he couldn’t stop himself from leaning forward to place his mouth on one of them. Sansa whimpered at the touch and clenched her fingers through his hair, moaning brazenly loud. He tasted a sweetness on her nipple he had never tasted before and he wondered how it was possible for her being with child to have made her more perfect, more alluring, than she already was.

“I love you,” she moaned against his ear just before he felt her walls tighten around him, sending her to her climax. He thrusted harder then, removing his mouth from her breasts to kiss her feverishly on her lips, biting her in the process and losing himself inside of her as she whimpered against his mouth.

He pulled out of her slowly, cursing the moment having come to an end, and kissed her all the while. “I love you.”

Chapter Text

As steel clashed against steel in the yard, the growing child jolted inside her belly, kicking and jabbing against Sansa’s ribs as if she, too, were begging for the duel to end.

While Arya was indeed significantly quicker and more fluid with her motions, Harry’s swings were stronger and his height gave him the advantage of a longer reach. When he arrived that morning in the yard dressed in full armor, his breastplate emblazoned with the falcon of House Arryn, Sansa felt dread creep up on her.

He did not come to Winterfell with armor, she knew. One of my own men must have forged this for him . When Sansa saw the blacksmith out in the yard, the burly man lowered his gaze towards the ground, avoiding her irate stare. He thought Harry would be fighting Jon, not Arya. Could my Northmen still want Harry to win even if it is against Ned Stark’s youngest daughter? Are my men truly so desperate to have a new alliance, a new king?

Unlike Harry, Arya was clad in the same garments she wore most days: a grey woolen tunic, black woolen breeches, dark leather boots that appeared to be worn out in the heel, a standard leather sword belt that held Needle and a dagger, and not a single piece of armor. She might as well fight naked as her nameday, Sansa thought. Prior to the trial commencing, Arya made it clear that she preferred to fight this way, insisting that she would be faster and more agile. Nevertheless, the sight of the dissimilarities between the fighters made Sansa shudder.

Upon the ramparts, Sansa stood beside Sandor, several faithful Winterfell guardsmen, and even a conscious Bran who was wheeled in by the maester. She noticed Jon’s absence and wondered where he could possibly be during this imperative moment. When she asked Bran if he had seen him, the inexpressive boy gave her the vague response of ‘he is where he needs to be, where he must be’. That only made Sansa shudder more. 

The shouts below them in the yard rang almost as loud as the steel. The large audience encircled the two fighters, some bellowing out words of vice while others roared words of encouragement. It deeply angered Sansa to hear some of her own Northmen shouting out advice, none of which appeared to be directed towards Arya. Sansa made an effort to capture their faces. I will remember who failed to remain loyal during these times. Loyalty... she thought hopelessly. Loyalty died with my father. It died when I married Sandor.

“Risking her life over a bastard! I can still remember the sound of his skull crushing underneath that hammer!” one of Harry’s knights cackled. Sansa gasped when she saw Arya’s attention leave the lord to search the crowd for the taunting voice. Sandor must have seen it, too, for he slammed his fists down forcefully against the railing on the ramparts, cracking the wood underneath.

“Arya!” Sandor boomed.

The steel came down at the same moment. The shrill sound of her sister’s scream as Harry’s blade bit into her arm stopped time. As Arya fell into the snow, the moment seemed to last for an eternity. Sansa instinctively shrieked and clutched onto Sandor’s arm with all her strength. The yard erupted into a clangor of shouts, curses, and gasps that permeated the still, frigid, winter air. Sansa even heard the sounds of weeping and realized it was coming from the maester beside her. In contrast to the variety of raw emotions that spilled out in that moment, Bran only sat in his chair, silent, as still as a stone.

“No need to worry, lads!” Harry shouted out breathlessly, his voice muffled by the freshly forged helm. The lord circled the perimeter of the crowd as Arya writhed on the ground, grimacing as she inspected the injury to her arm. “I won’t kill the little lady. I am not a bloody savage afterall,” he said, shifting his focus towards the ramparts where they stood. “Once the girl yields and confesses that the charges against me are false, all of this merely a plot to punish me after I chose not to support the north, I’ll lower my sword and let her live. You have my word.”

As Arya stood from the ground, Sansa nearly became sick when she saw a paleness in her right arm underneath the torn woolen sleeve. The swing from Harry’s sword had carved her arm so deeply it exposed the bone, resulting in a trail of crimson to seep into the snow as she walked forward. Arya gripped the hilt of her sword in her left hand and ran, plunging the blade towards the small vulnerable space underneath his arm. Harry anticipated her attack and kicked a pile of snow in her face to blind her, shifting her aim one inch shy of his flesh. Arya cursed and darted backward impossibly quick as he swung his steel with both hands towards her only good arm.

“That fucking craven!” Sandor rasped.

“He is fighting dishonorably!” cried Lyanna Mormont who stood in the front of the enclosure, a girl amongst men. “This lord is a cheat!” The crowd was split down the middle, shouting both in agreement and disagreement to the girl’s feisty words. 

Jon said he would fight dishonorably, Sansa remembered as dread consumed her. I have no doubt Harry told his men to make the gross remarks about Gendry, knowing Arya would not be able to control her rage. 

“Yield, my Lady!” shouted a northman from the crowd. “For the love you bear your late father, yield!”

“Lord Eddard doesn’t need another one of his children to die for naught!” another exclaimed. 

“Yield, my Lady!”

“Yield, you little bitch!” shouted a different Knight of the Vale. 

Arya glowered at the lord and sprinted forward, aiming to strike a blow in the space between his helm and breastplate. She was faster this time, her blade successfully meeting the skin in the targeted space before he could block her attack. Harry’s blood trickled down over the falcon on his chest while Arya created distance to examine his status before striking again. The crowd went mad after the impact. The majority of the men, including Sandor, rallied behind her as Harry lifted his hand to his neck. However, the victory was short-lived when the lord started to chuckle sinisterly inside his helm.

“A scratch!” Harry lifted his sword and sliced down at Arya’s feet. She was quick enough to evade the attack, but Arya’s blood was puddling underneath her with each step she took. As she paced backward to avoid the following swing, Sansa saw her stumble.

She’s losing too much blood. She is going to faint. If that happens...

“Sandor, she won’t make it. Please, do something!” she begged him, knowing very well there was nothing that could be done. Nothing honorable, that is. And is that not what this is all for? Honor? What good is honor when half your men discard their own in hopes of obtaining a new king?

“Kill him, girl! Use your bloody dagger! Avenge that boy!” he shouted down into the yard. 

Arya met his gaze and nodded weakly. Despite the obvious pain she was in, there was still a fire in her eyes. She ducked underneath Harry’s oncoming attack and spun around quick enough to drive her foot into his back. While the armor may have protected him against her steel, it was undoubtedly heavy and diminished his ability to regain his balance. The lord fell forward onto the ground, breaking his fall with his hands, while her sister dropped Needle to loosen the dagger from her sword belt. Like a rabid animal, Arya pounced on his back, wrapping both arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. She grunted furiously from the effort, grabbing onto Harry’s helm with one hand to rip it off. As he tried to stand, Arya kicked him in the back of the knee, causing him to yelp and fall down yet again. Once his knees hit the earth, he dropped his sword into the snow and reached over his shoulders to pull her off his back. However, the attempt was futile. Her sister clung onto him so tightly there was no space between her and his armor. The girl’s maimed arm shook as she clenched it around his neck, her blood spilling over Harry’s breastplate and into the snow.

With one more fuming grunt, Arya successfully ripped off his helm and aimed the dagger at his face blindly, her face pressed against the steel on his back. Harry screamed loudly when the point dug into his face just below his left eye. “You fucking bitch!” he cried out. He grabbed her wrist with both hands and ripped the steel from his face, rolling her over onto the ground to pin her down on her back. As she struggled underneath him, kicking at him furiously while reaching for the sword he dropped beside them, his knee dug into her wounded arm, pressing the bone with all his weight into the exposed earth. 

The sounds that left Arya’s mouth were deeply, truly horrifying; it was the sound of pure, utter agony as Harry pressed his steel-covered knee into the profusely bleeding arm, the skin around the visible bone ripping further apart. Harry snatched the dagger from her hand when she became too weak to grip it and placed its edge underneath her chin. Sansa screamed in panic and fell backward against the guards before Sandor took her into his arms, pushing her face against his chest to blind her.

“Don’t look, little bird,” Sandor said breathlessly. With her ear pressed against his chest, she could hear his heartbeat and was sure that if it were to beat any faster, he would die.

“Yield!” the Northmen shouted down below. “Yield! Yield!”

The kicking inside Sansa’s belly became frantic, each jab creating a throbbing pain along her ribs. What is my pain compared to my sister’s? My little sister...

“It’s time to yield now, Arya,” Bran whispered. Sansa pushed away from Sandor and looked at her brother incredulously. 

“You said she would win!” Sansa cried as the crowd pleaded for Arya to yield.

“I said she would live,” Bran responded blankly.

“You said he would die!” Sandor cut in harshly.

“He will. When it is time,” he said.

Sansa sobbed and slapped her hand across Bran’s expressionless face, returning to look out into the yard from the ramparts. Harry was whispering something into Arya’s ear, his knee still pinning down her bloody, torn arm with the point of the dagger pressing under her chin.

“Arya, yield!” Sansa shouted, the last of her queenly composure collapsing. “Please, sister. Yield!” She heard Sandor curse loudly beside her, and this time when he beat his fists into the railing, a large chunk of it shattered and fell beneath them.

Arya screamed once more at the pain being inflicted on her arm, kicking her feet wildly to raise herself up, but the lord in his armor was too heavy. She wept deeply as the blade pushed deeper into her skin, his whispers still taunting her. It was impossibly painful to watch Arya, the trained Faceless Man, Sansa’s own little sister who was always so brave, cry out of anger and scream from defeat; the sight disturbed Sansa to her core even more than the bone and blood had. “I yield,” Arya breathed hoarsely, her eyelids growing heavy as her body began to respond to the trauma.

Harry picked up her sword off the snow and tossed it to one of his knights. “Very good,” Harry said wearily as blood dripped from his face and neck and onto her sister. “Now go on, admit this was all a plot.”

Arya’s eyes opened briefly as she shook her head and spat in his face. Harry could only produce a weak chuckle.

“That’s all right, you can write it down on a parchment, assuming you can still write. That way, no one can doubt its authenticity.” Harry stood up slowly from the snow and stepped onto Arya’s injured arm with all his weight as he approached the ramparts. This time she did not scream. She was silent, unconscious.

“Go to my sister!” Sansa ordered the maester. “Now!”

The old man was weeping and nodded, scurrying down the steps towards the yard where a group of loyal northmen picked Arya up. Sansa looked over at Bran and saw that he had left them once again, his eyes two blank white spheres.

Before she could hit him mercilessly, Sandor’s large arms wrapped around her, pulling her against his chest protectively as his hands grasped over her belly. He was muttering something under his breath but she could not hear over the shouts, screams, and cries that saturated the yard, watching as several brawls broke out between her men after the trial’s conclusion. The dishonorable champion approached closer to the ramparts, pressing his hand underneath his eye and then against his neck. Sansa watched as he bled, but what she saw was not enough. Bran was wrong, she thought defeatedly. Harry will not die in time, not from these wounds. Not unless...

“I can’t,” she heard Sandor mutter desperately, the yard slowly quieting with Harry’s approach. “I’m not letting you go. I’ll never fucking let you go.”

“Your Grace,” Harry bowed, covering his one eye with a disgusting, victorious grin on his face. The fighting between the men halted, as did the jabbing in her belly, and the castle grew eerily silent. “In the sight of your old gods, my Seven, and your men, I have proven my claim of innocence. Now, I have come to claim my bride.”

Chapter Text

The sound of steel withdrawing from Sandor’s scabbard rang throughout the noiseless yard. 

At the conclusion of the trial, following Harry’s smug demand, Sandor lost himself in rage. The yard that had grown quiet at the lord’s approach erupted once again into chaos as he unsheathed his sword, the men below him hollering and whooping, many of whom appeared eager for the two to fight. And Sandor would have fought him, too. He would have risked everything in that moment, even his own life, just to prevent the self-satisfied lord from ever touching Sansa again. Had it not been for his wife grabbing his arm before he could stomp down the ramparts, Harry would have been dead by now, and, just as likely, so would he.

His knights would cut me down before I could savor the sight of his head rolling across the yard. And if not them, half of these northmen just might.

Something changed in his little bird afterwards. Her demeanor became similarly absent like her brother’s, her vague, half-truth telling brother. When Sansa urged him to put away his sword atop the ramparts, he saw something in her eyes, a plea of sorts, as if she were begging for him to trust her. After returning to the Quiet Isle and speaking with the Elder Brother, there was nothing that could keep him from trusting her, not anymore.

If I kill him here, it would have all been for nothing, Sandor thought as he sheathed his sword, the crowd groaning with disappointment . How can bloody honor come at such a high cost? Sandor looked at the boy in his wheeled chair who was yet again somewhere else in that moment. Why did he say it had to be Arya? His own sister? The thought made him want to push the catatonic boy off the ramparts.

Sansa spoke to the audience solemnly, calling for a meeting in the Great Hall to begin in an hour before taking Sandor’s hand into hers, leading him down the ramparts and towards the maester’s turret. Inside, several northmen accompanied the maester in handing him the necessary items needed to examine and clean her sister’s arm. As they got closer to the small girl laying on the table, Sandor could see just how much damage had been afflicted by Harry’s blade. 

The steel sliced clean through the lower half of her right arm, a terrible sight to see, even for him. Fortunately, the sword did not appear to have cut through the exposed bone. After the sick lord had dug his knee into her maimed arm so fiercely, stepping on it with his full weight before approaching the ramparts, the skin on her arm was thoroughly mangled. She will bear those scars forever.

They watched as the maester poured boiling wine over her wound and Sandor was thankful that the girl had been unconscious for that part. Once the old man cleaned out her wound, examining the bone and torn skin for a moment, he wrapped it tightly with clean linen, pressing the lesion to a close before turning towards them, the evidence of his sobbing present on his face.

“She will live,” he exhaled with relief. “A ghastly wound, but not fatal in her case. She’s lost a significant amount of blood, however, it is nothing she will not be able to recover from, Your Grace. I will ensure the wound does not fester and I will wait for her to wake before administering milk of the poppy, should she request it,” the old man bowed. 

Sansa nodded but said nothing. Though she did not speak, Sandor could sense a heaviness inside of her disappear. He, too, felt relieved given the news, yet his anger, his rage still remained. Why did it have to be her? Why?

Upon learning of Arya’s status, Sansa took Sandor’s hand once more and headed towards the main tower, brushing past several groups of northmen who were muttering to one another over the trial. Sandor tried speaking to her as they walked inside the tower and into their bedchamber, but she was somewhere else, pensive, deep in her thoughts.

The silence made him uneasy and he wondered why they had returned to their bedchamber instead of making their way towards the Great Hall for the approaching meeting. When he closed the door behind him, he watched in awe as Sansa began to unlace her dress, letting it drop onto the floor along with her small clothes. All Sandor could do was stand there, unmoving, gaping at her.

“What are you doing, little bird?” he asked, his body responding instinctively to the provocative sight.

“I want you to take me,” she said, sauntering over to lean her back against one of the bedposts.

Sandor was speechless, gazing upon her nude body as if it were the first time again, forcing the memories of the trial to become fainter with each passing second. 

Now ?” he breathed beside the door.

“Now. Right here.” 

This could be the last time I have her, he thought grimly. But not because I will allow that buggering little shit to take her away from me. He will die before he can do that, before he can see her like this, before he torments her and murders my child. And if that means I must die, too, then so be it. 

Without wasting another second, Sandor ripped himself away from the door and strode towards her, gripping the curve of her ass into his hands and pressing his mouth into the side of her neck. Her cold hands traveled inside his tunic, digging her nails into his back as he kissed her desperately. The last time, he reminded himself. The thought led him to become rougher with his mouth, biting at her neck to produce the soft whimpers leaving her mouth, whimpers that sparked a deeper, darker sort of lust. 

When her hands fell down to tug at his laces, he noticed she was biting her lip from the effort she was exerting to undress him from the waist down as fast as possible. As she disrobed him below, Sandor pulled his tunic over his head and tossed it away, grabbing her ass once again with his hands. Sansa pulled his face towards hers and bit his lip after every kiss, moaning all the while. No more than two hours had passed since they last had one another, yet the trial had instilled a desperation, a sort of longing in the two of them that made their bonding feel novel, as if it had been years since the last time he felt her touch, if ever.

As he cupped one hand over her cunt, tracing his fingers through the arousal outside her entrance, her hands left his face and wrapped around the thick, vertical bedpost above her head, arching her back away from the oak to press her cunt against him. No words needed to be spoken; he knew what she wanted. ‘Right here’, she told me. Sandor lifted her ass and pressed her back against the wooden post, his mouth devouring her swollen breasts as her legs wrapped around him eagerly.

The last time, he thought as he shifted his hips to press himself inside of her. His anger, rage, and worries escaped him as he felt her slick, warm walls tighten around him. Sansa’s legs gripped harder around his hips with the sensation, watching her knuckles grow white after her hands tightened around the post, letting out a tantalizing moan. Sandor dropped his face down to watch her breasts bounce erotically with every impact between her thighs. Though he felt himself press against her belly, the standing position allowed him to pull her hips forward as she hung onto the oak to ease the pressure. 

The last time, he reminded himself again. Sandor lifted his face to watch as the moans escaped her mouth, her beautiful song matching the rhythm of his body pounding against hers. Her eyes had been shut but she seemed to notice his stare, the blueness of her eyes opening to meet his grey ones. A deep grunt escaped him as their gazes connected and he knew it would not be much longer before he spent himself inside of her. 

The connection must have had the same effect on her as he watched the ravenous desire in her eyes gradually turn into sharp fulfillment, her eyes closing again as she climaxed around his length. The last time, he remembered. Her cunt created a resistance around his cock as she experienced her pleasure, and despite him wanting to savor this moment forever, he could not stop the compulsion as his body reacted to her wetness, tightness, sounds, and visuals. He shot his seed inside the heat between her folds, grunting erratically with the release as his head fell against her own, her kisses raining down his scarred cheek.

The last time, he thought despairingly.

 


 

The meeting inside the Great Hall was somehow more tumultuous than the duel in the yard as every last man begged to be heard, their shouts echoing above in the rafters, quickly ending the relief he had found with Sansa prior.

Despite the cacophony inside the hall, Sandor focused on his wife who sat beside him on the dais, watching as she stared off into the mass of men without paying attention to any one in particular. After their lovemaking, she did not utter a word but only returned to her thoughts in silence. He wondered what it was she was thinking about, or perhaps she was only waiting to wake up from this ongoing nightmare of events, much like he was. A cup of wine sat in front of him and though he no longer partook in it, he was tempted to down the contents to ease his nerves.

When the maester entered behind the dais, Sandor observed him wheeling in a conscious Bran who was staring at him and Sansa intently. The maester placed the boy to Sansa’s left but she did not choose to acknowledge her brother other than sigh at his added presence.

Shortly after, Harry entered through the main doors of the Great Hall with his knights, each resting their hand on the hilt of their swords. The lord’s wounds appeared to have already been cleaned and bandaged. Sandor noticed the linen wrapped about his neck where Arya’s sword had scratched him and another over his left eye from her dagger. His victory in the trial puffed him up with a confidence that Sandor could not wait to shatter with the edge of his sword; the closer he pressed through the crowd and towards the dais, the more he imagined how he would do it, how he would finally kill him. 

“Your Grace,” Harry bowed to Sansa as the madness in the hall gradually diminished. “It appears I’ll be donning this bandage about my eye for quite some time. I do wonder if that brings back any fond memories for you,” he grinned.

Sandor’s fists clenched underneath the table, wishing he could take his sword out right there and slice the lord in two to feed to Jon’s direwolf. That bastard king...absent during his own cousin’s trial by combat, Sandor remembered with contempt. When Sandor glanced over at Sansa after a lengthy silence, he saw nothing but a beautiful, expressionless woman, somehow even stiller than her brother.

“You’ve been acquitted of your charges,” she said.

“And now--”

“I agreed to this alliance, this marriage, when I thought my husband was dead,” said Sansa. “Now that it is clear that is not the case, I ask you, the head of House Arryn, to consider an alliance with the North under different terms.”

Harry snorted with disdain. “The marriage wasn’t my idea to begin with. That was an agreement you made with the Lords of the Vale while I was still rotting inside that frozen cell you kept me in.” 

“You are the Lord of the Eyrie, Defender of the Vale, and Warden of the East. That gives you power to change any terms laid out by the Lords of the Vale,” Sansa pointed out.

“Lord Baelish taught you well,” he feigned a smile. “You are correct. However, I have warmed up to the idea of a marriage with you. Lord Jon Arryn was like a father to your father. It’s a shame the years have torn our houses apart. I believe it would be more advantageous for us if we were to be friends rather than enemies.”

“That can be achieved without a marriage,” she responded coolly. 

“And begin our new alliance with you failing to uphold your word?” he tsked. “No, that won’t do.”

“I’m married, my husband sits beside me and you insist that--”

You made that deal, you knew the terms,” he interrupted.

“When I thought he was dead!” Sansa raised her voice. “To protect my men!”

“Marriages can be annulled. You’re a queen,” Harry muttered rudely.

“What queen has ever annulled her own marriage?” Lyanna Mormont pushed her way forward to the dais. 

“The north breeds fierce little girls,” the lord mumbled in disgust. “Your queen can be the first. Unless you’d rather the Vale declare war against the north, who might I remind you have far more men than you do, it’s in your best interest that she annul her marriage and join our houses.”

“Your Grace, we would be better off allying with the Vale. Better that than fighting them, indeed,” remarked one of the northmen.

“So you’d have our queen, Lord Eddard Stark’s eldest daughter, annul her marriage with her chosen husband just because you’re too craven to fight?” Lyanna challenged.

“Craven?” the man gasped. “I’ve fought for House Stark all my life!”

“Then how dare you, a man who has fought for House Stark all his life , become disloyal to the rightful Queen in the North, Sansa Stark! Has our queen not been through enough? After the slaughter of her family, she was manipulated and raped by Petyr Baelish, suffered the loss of a child, traveled the entire way south beside us to lead her men and uphold the honor of House Stark to Daenerys Targaryen, who ended up turning on her, on us, burning our men alive, and going months thinking her husband was dead. I don’t care if he was the Lannister’s Hound, not anymore. He’s fought alongside all of us long enough to need not question his loyalty! All of you should be ashamed! I saw you, heard you out in the yard, hoping Lord Hardyng would win against Lord Eddard Stark’s youngest daughter, and for what? So our queen can suffer more? Dishonorable, disloyal, cravens!” Lyanna glared at the men around her. Whispers and mutters scattered throughout the hall and Sandor watched as many of the men's faces dropped towards the floor from sheer embarrassment.

This bloody little she-bear is getting to them, Sandor thought with a glimmer of hope.  

“Nevertheless, she gave her word!” Harry whined. “She’d dishonor House Stark, not to mention risk it being burned to the ground should the Vale side with the Targaryen queen once they learn of her failure to comply with terms she agreed to! My men you may be able to fight, however, you might find it difficult to fight that monstrous beast who I am sure is healed by now.”

“There is only one dragon now,” Bran whispered. 

The muttering in the hall came to a sudden halt as every man and woman waited for the boy to extend on his remark. For the first time during that meeting, Sandor watched as Sansa glanced over at her brother.

“What?” she asked in a breath.

“One dragon lives. Rhaegal. Prior to the trial, Jon left to meet Daenerys who had planned to attack the north unawares. Her men remain in King’s Landing, rebuilding the city for her reign. What would have been her reign.” Bran met his sister’s glance and Sandor thought he could see a faint smile on the boy’s stolid face. “Daenerys Targaryen and her dragon are dead.”

The crowd erupted once again, yet this time it was the sounds of cheering, gleeful hollering, and shouts of relief that echoed above in the ramparts. In contrast to the audience in front of them, Sansa only stared at Bran, her breasts heaving with her rapid breaths.

“Dead?” Sansa whispered.

“Dead,” Bran affirmed. “Jon returns north with Rhaegal.”

Sandor watched as Sansa turned her head slowly towards him, observing the glimmer in her eyes before she returned her attention to Harry whose smug smile had fallen off his face.

“I will say this one last time,” Sansa stood from her chair, the hall quieting as she pressed her hands atop the table. “I agreed to those terms when I thought my husband was dead and I only did so to protect my men against the Vale’s alliance with Daenerys Targaryen, who is a threat to us no longer. Consider our alliance with House Arryn and the Vale put on hold until you and your lords discuss more appropriate terms. I will not annul my marriage. I will not marry you.”

“Then you will begin yet another war,” Harry sneered at her. 

“We have a dragon,” Sansa quipped. “The last dragon.”

“You’d burn my men down the same way that tyrant did to your men?” Harry scoffed. “You are no better than her, nor Cersei! Go ahead and disgrace House Stark. Become another unstable, emotional queen, and set your dragon upon us. Let’s see how the maesters write you down in the histories,” he grimaced.

“I do not control the dragon. Jon does. And Jon is not a Stark, he is a Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne and without Daenerys in his way, he will reign. Have you considered what your new king might do should you declare war against the north unnecessarily?”

My bloody brilliant little bird, Sandor thought. 

Harry frowned as the men around him muttered once again. “Very well, Your Grace,” he feigned a smile. “I will let the lords know what you have said here today and send a raven to you regarding an alliance,” Harry spoke nervously as she glared at him, sensing the additional angry stares all around him. 

It appears the she-bear may have guilted the disloyal northmen just enough for them to rediscover their disdain for the lord. However, I can’t let him leave here. Not alive. Not after all that he has done.

“I do hope your sister recovers well,” Harry mumbled disingenuously. “Do I have your leave to return to the Vale?”

Sansa was silent for a moment, as was everyone else, but Sandor knew what she would say. What she would have to say. Bloody honor.

“Yes,” she spoke through gritted teeth.

Sandor grunted and reached for the wine cup. I can’t let him leave here alive. Perhaps I can get myself bloody drunk before I swing my sword at him...at least then I’d have an excuse. An excuse other than pure hate. Kill to protect, that's what the Elder Brother said. It wouldn’t be killing out of anger...not only anger. Harry will remain a threat to Sansa as long as he breathes and this might be my only chance. Sandor lifted the cup to his lips after convincing himself.

“Do not drink that, Sandor,” Bran said. “Lord Hardyng has been waiting for you to quench your thirst since he walked into this hall.”

The cup froze against his mouth just before Sansa snatched it from him, peering at its contents and tossing it onto the floor. The color left Harry’s face whereas Sansa’s became flushed.

“Seize him.”

Chapter Text

The once very handsome lord was now a broken man, an egotistical creature on the brink of death.

Not one soul had interfered when Sandor lunged off the dais and tackled Harry onto the ground, grabbing one of his feet and dragging the blonde from the Great Hall into the yard. Not even Harry’s own men tried to stop him.

“Don’t, Sansa. You can’t help,” Bran said as she stepped off the dais to make her way out into the yard along with the hundreds of other men in the hall. “Please.”

His plea gave her pause and for a brief moment, she thought her little brother had returned, the brother she knew years ago before she ever left Winterfell. However, when Sansa looked over her shoulder, all she saw was the passive Three-Eyed Raven staring back at her.

“He’s my husband,” was all she said. 

Sansa did not hear what he muttered to her afterwards as the sounds inside the hall became louder than she could bear. The jabs inside her belly grew violent again and Sansa started to wonder if her child ever found rest with the seemingly endless commotion. Lyanna Mormont appeared out of nowhere from the crowd and took her arm, shouting and pushing her way through the sea of men to help Sansa depart the hall.

“He is lying!” she heard Harry cry out. Sansa watched as Sandor continued to pull the lord by his foot further out into the yard. Harry’s hands desperately reached out to grasp at something, anything to pull himself away. All the while, the lord’s face scraped roughly against the shoveled earth, ripping away the dressings over his wounds. “There was nothing in that cup!”

“Is that so?” Sandor paused. “Let’s have you lick that shite off the floor then!” he snarled, turning back towards the hall.

“No!” the Lord of the Eyrie howled.

“That’s what I thought you bloody craven!” 

Sansa’s heart battered against her chest as she strode beside Lyanna and the other hundreds of northmen stomping through the yard, stepping over the trail of blood coming from Harry’s open wounds. Sandor tossed the lord viciously against an empty wagon left out in the yard as the crowd of men encircled them, hollering and shouting fervently. Sansa would have fallen over several times had Lyanna not been there to balance her. “Move for your queen!” the girl shouted, pressing through every man until they finally made it towards the front of the crowd. 

Harry crawled against the snow, using the wagon to ease himself up onto his feet and spitting out blood onto the snow. Sandor turned away for a moment and paced towards her, removing his cloak and wrapping it around her shoulders before unsheathing his longsword in one swift motion. He is elsewhere, she realized when he did not look her once in the eye. Rage becomes him.

“Poison? You would have killed me with poison like a bloody woman?” Sandor asked as he pressed ahead, swinging the steel at the lord’s head.

“It wasn’t--” he cut off, barely dodging the steel. 

“It wasn’t you?” Sandor boomed. He grunted with another swing of his longsword, its edge piercing into the side of the wagon after Harry ducked and rolled into the ground. 

Harry finally managed to unsheathe his own sword after struggling to remove it from its scabbard. Sansa noticed his confidence shoot up once he gripped the hilt between both hands.

“You can’t kill me,” he whined, stepping backward to create distance between the two. “You have no proof! You only have the word of a boy!”

“Oh, the smug little lord wants another trial does he?” Sandor laughed cruelly. “Well then, here’s your trial. And this time, it’s me you’ll fight.” 

Harry frowned and removed one hand from the hilt of his sword to wipe the blood that spilled from his left eye. “I should have killed you in King’s Landing,” the lord groaned. “I should have fucked your whore of a wife in front of my men, let them pass her around afterwards, and tossed you her remains inside that tent.”

Unlike the previous duel between Arya and Harry, not a single man in the crowd seemed to support the Lord of the Eyrie, all of them shouting curses at the broken man after his disgusting remarks, Lyanna the loudest one of all. Sandor rushed forward and drove his steel at Harry’s neck. The blonde lord blocked the attack just before the longsword could decapitate him, the screaming sound of steel sliding off steel saturating the wintry air.

Despite his injuries, Harry was significantly quicker than the previous bout with her sister now that he no longer wore the armor. He charged past Sandor and walked along the perimeter of the irate crowd, seemingly heedless of the men who were shouting at him.

“I should have given it to her like Petyr Baelish did,” the blonde taunted him. “It sounded like she enjoyed her wedding night, screaming out her window for all of us to hear.”

Sandor growled deeply as he bolted forward, gripping the hilt of his sword with both hands and swinging it just short of Harry’s breast. The lord spun and sprinted away towards the other side of the enclosure of men. “I’m going to skin you alive!” Sandor yelled.

When Sansa saw Harry smile, a sickness consumed her. He’s playing his tricks again, she knew. Harry wants him to be furious...reckless...clumsy. Just like he did with Arya.

“Or maybe I should have taken her down to the crypt,” Harry said breathlessly. “I could have rubbed her pretty little cunt the same way your dear old dead friend did.”

Sandor’s approaching swings were done hastily, slicing again and again in a fit of rage. Harry was still quick enough to defend himself, his sword meeting Sandor’s just short of it slicing into his skull. However, he was not so fortunate when one of the men from the crowd pushed him forward and the tip of Sandor’s steel bit into the side of his face. Harry yelped and broke away, the attack resulting in a deep gash on his right cheek with fresh blood steaming against the frigid air.

Sandor spat into the ground and glowered at him. “Speak no more buggering lies about him or my wife or else I’ll keep you alive long enough to set you on fire and sacrifice you to his bloody god!”

Harry laughed deliriously at that despite the added wound to his face, blocking yet another hurried attack which caused Sandor to stumble in the process. The lord sprinted along the perimeter, creating enough distance to avoid the shoving of the seething men. When Sansa saw her husband lose his footing due to his rampage, her pounding heart froze and her child stilled. Please old gods, let Sandor be able to control his rage, she prayed silently. Let him fight wisely.

The lord treaded warily, stopping to stand mere paces away in front of Sansa. She noticed Lyanna Mormont grab the hilt of her sword at his approach. “Gods, I will never forget how her tits looked that night in my tent,” he muttered weakly, his eyes falling over her breasts briefly before giving Sandor a frail smirk. “I’d be a liar if I said that memory didn’t serve its purpose while I was locked away in that cell. A man does get lonely.”

This time when Sandor strode forward, blind with rage, Harry made no attempt to move and decided to stand his ground in front of her. Sansa wished desperately she had a dagger, a sword, anything to shove into his neck that was only two paces away. She looked over at Lyanna’s sword and considered it until her imagination was cut short. Harry abruptly turned around and grabbed the front of Sansa’s dress, swinging her forward just as Sandor’s steel was coming down.

The following moment did not pass like others. It was impossibly slow and impossibly fast all at once.

The resonance of the men around her was muffled yet explosive, turbulent yet drowned out. Sansa could not feel the ground beneath her feet, nor could she see anything other than the auburn shade of her hair as it fell over her face. She anticipated hitting the ground, yet she never did. Instead, her fall was broken against another’s body, a huge and heavily-muscled body that proceeded to cradle her into large arms at the impact. 

“Sansa!” 

It was the first sound she heard clearly. A terrible, dreadful sound mixed with others just as disturbing.

Time no longer stood still as it had when Harry grabbed her and swung her forward. In contrast, her environment appeared to be rushed and frantic, the time passing unnaturally quick. A hand brushed the hair from her face to remove the blinding auburn shade, revealing her husband who stared at her in shock.

Nobody kills that fucker except me!” he shouted ahead. “Take him to the cells, now!”

Sansa turned her head away from his chest and found that every northman in her vicinity had a sword in hand. For a moment, she thought Harry had somehow disappeared into thin air until she heard a whimpering come from below. The lord was pressed against the ground with no less than ten steel points pressing into his back. When Sansa tried to get a better look, squinting her eyes as if it would improve her vision, she was surprised to find that Harry only had one hand, the other now a bloody stump. Regardless, Harry’s laughter continued in between his groans and cries.

Sansa felt uncommonly peaceful as Sandor carried her in his arms, growing drowsy with the motions and curling up against his chest. In the tranquil moment, forgetting all that happened earlier, she closed her eyes and combed her fingers through the hair at the top of his chest sticking out from his tunic. The moment reminded her much of her wedding: his cloak about her shoulders, the way he carried her, cradling her in his arms, her husband, her protector. This is perfect. 

“Wake up, girl!” he jolted her inside his arms. The sudden movement startled her, as well as the child inside of her, but when Sansa tried to open her eyes, nothing happened. Sandor, she tried to say, but her mouth would not move. “Sansa! Wake up!” he shouted, hearing his voice quiver, followed by a queer sound. He is crying, she realized. Somehow, Sansa could feel and hear everything around her, but her attempts to respond were futile.

“Oh, old gods, please save our queen,” she heard an elderly man cry. The maester.

“Her thigh,” Sandor’s voice broke. She felt his arms place her atop a cool surface but Sansa could not be certain where she was. Are we back in the Great Hall? The maester’s turret? She tried again to open her eyes, the effort ineffectual once more.

Sansa felt cold, frail hands touch her neck, checking for a pulse. When the hands trailed down onto her thigh, Sansa was sure her leg had been set on fire. Is he holding a torch to me? In her mind she screamed, cried, and pushed away the hands that were touching her. And yet physically, she was unmoving, motionless. What is happening? she thought desperately. How can I be asleep and still hear everything? Still feel everything?

“Bring me that cloth,” she heard the maester say in between sobs. Sansa could hear Sandor whispering to himself but she could not make out what it was he was saying, although she thought it sounded much like a prayer. As the hands returned to her thigh, she felt herself submerge once again into hell. Gods, make it stop, Sandor! she thought. Make the pain stop, please! 

A deep jab inside her belly distracted her briefly from the pain followed by a large, warm hand falling atop her bare skin in the same spot, realizing that her dress must have been lifted up during the examination. “Oh you bloody gods, please,” Sandor breathed. As he caressed her skin, the child inside of her shifted. However, unlike the jabs before, this movement was gentle, tender, in her womb.

“It will be all right, Sandor,” she heard a monotonous voice speak. Bran...he didn’t want me to go out into the yard, she remembered.

“I don’t know what to believe coming from you anymore,” her husband hissed, the fire in her thigh reigniting with another touch.

“I cannot prevent everything,” her brother said. “I did try. My knowledge does not prevent others from enacting free will. 

“Hand me the wine,” the maester trembled. “The wound cannot fester.” 

No, no, no. she thought. Oh gods, no. He can’t mean…

Sansa felt her heart skip a beat as the boiling wine fell onto her thigh, the pain indescribable aside from being entirely unbearable. Stop! she wanted to shout. I’m awake! Please, stop! But her mouth would not move, her body would not move, only her mind.

The passing moment was silent between the men in the room aside from sobs that Sansa could not discern whether they were coming from the maester or Sandor. Not Bran, she knew. He doesn’t cry. Not anymore. Not even for me.

The cold hands left her thigh after wrapping what Sansa assumed was a dressing over it. She felt the same hands then press against her belly with care, a kick greeting the old man’s hand. “The child is well,” he said, sighing after the pleasant observation. “Much like her sister’s own wound, she’s lost blood. However, she will heal.”

Sansa heard a deep sigh of relief come from beside her. “Seven fucking hells,” her husband groaned. Sandor’s mouth fell onto hers, kissing her still lips over and over again as if he were trying to wake her up with his embrace. She tried to move, begging this time, praying to the old gods to allow her to kiss him back. I’m kissing you, she wanted to say. But nothing is happening. “I love you. I’m so sorry,” he sobbed against her mouth. “Little bird, I’m so sorry.”

Chapter Text

“How’s the Queen in the North faring...after taking your sword?” the half-dead man muttered in the darkness of the cells.

A bloody fool, I was. Blinded by rage. So blinded I could not figure out his buggering little game. And because of it, my brutish, impulsive stupidity nearly killed my own wife.

Sandor placed the torch he carried into the sconce along the wall, opening the cell door without a word. Harry made no effort to move from laying on the freezing stone. He knows he is a dead man, Sandor realized. And dead men fear nothing. The thought made Sandor angry. Upon entering the cell, he lifted his foot and crushed the stump where Harry’s right hand used to be, listening as the quiet, chilly cells came alive with the lord’s piercing cries. At least the dead man still screams. 

“I’ve sat for an hour thinking of ways to kill you,” Sandor growled. “And every time I come up with an idea, it’s still not gruesome enough.” His foot lifted from the stump to kick vigorously at the lord’s gut several times before pulling himself away, watching as Harry gasped desperately for air. He can’t die, not yet. Even this would be too sweet of a death.

“You should...bring...that girl,” Harry whimpered against the cold floor. “The small bear. She’s the one...who sliced my hand off. She’s got more balls...than the rest of your men combined.”

“She’d kill you too fast. Besides, it’ll be me who cleanses this world of you,” Sandor spat. 

“Our bout...went on longer than I expected. I assumed someone might...intervene after the girl’s little...speech,” he groaned, clenching his shortened arm. “Perhaps they all thought...you could beat me,” Harry chuckled painfully. 

“There’s little honor in taking another man’s kill, you dumb cunt. Even dishonorable men abide by that.”

“Or maybe...they hoped we’d both die...that way their queen might choose someone better...than the likes of us. Assuming...they still have...a queen,” the lord said weakly though Sandor could sense the mockery in his tone. Taunting me even as he rots in this cell, fully aware I can torture him till the end of time. He really is a dead man. Sandor slammed his foot on top of the bleeding stump to let him know what he thought of that.

“You fucking bastard.” Sandor picked up his maimed arm to toss him against the solid, ice-covered stones. “The letter, the wildfire, the attempt to fuck my own wife in front of me, the buggering poison...tossing Sansa into a bloody duel...and for what?” He slammed the lord’s face into the wall, a sickening crunch audible during the impact. “All because I fucked her? You’d kill an innocent woman, a bloody queen, all because someone other than you took her maidenhead? You…” he trailed off and tossed the frail man back onto the floor.

When Harry did not respond, Sandor thought he may have killed him or at the very least, knocked him unconscious. The subsequent silence made him uneasy. This time, he tossed his own head back against the wall at the onset of his intrusive thoughts.

I could have killed my wife and child all because of my ceaseless, foul temper. Sandor unwillingly reflected that moment, when his longsword had swung down at the same instant Harry threw Sansa forward. The momentum of his steel was unyielding and though he pulled back, it was not enough. She had fallen right into him and he could feel the edge of his sword piercing into flesh. Her flesh. No feeling in the known world could have been as terrible, as absolutely gut-wrenching. During the impact, Sandor could not discern where the steel had punctured her, only that it had. In the span of a second, he considered a thousand individual scenarios. One scenario in which the sword only grazed her, another where its tip inched into her leg but did no major damage, and then the worst scenario, his steel having punctured into her belly and out her back, killing their child, killing her, a similar fate to the vision Bran had long ago. The thought gave Sandor a chill the bleak cell he stood in never could.

It could have been much worse, he failed to convince himself. Though the blade may have only cut into her thigh as opposed to somewhere immediately fatal, the blood spilled quickly, saturating the snow beneath her into a crimson pool. As he panicked, letting his sword fall and cradling her into his arms, he was bewildered when she appeared to not feel the cut. Instead of hearing the anticipated screams, Sansa only cuddled into his arms as he took her to the maester, falling asleep without so much as a whimper. An overwhelming sense of dread developed when he saw her lose consciousness; he yelled out but she would not wake and immediately the all too familiar fear of losing her, losing a child, debilitated him once again. All he could think of doing in that moment was pray. So, he did. Sandor had prayed terribly and informally, cursing all the while. Let those old gods and her father hear me, he had thought. Let the Seven and Elder Brother hear me. Let that bloody fire god and Beric hear me. Do not let her die. Do not let my child die.

By luck or by prayer, the maester uttered the words he desperately needed to hear. Sansa would recover in time and their child was unharmed...nevertheless, the pain remained. It’s my fault. It’s always been my fault. 

Sandor felt a wetness fall on his cheek just before Harry started to move again, coughing up his lungs and groaning with every breath. “Are you...still here?”

His foot answered with a blow to the spine. Sandor could hardly hear the beastly screeching coming from outside over the lord’s wailing. The bastard king and his creature have returned, he thought. And how will he react once he learns that both of his former sisters are tucked away in their beds, each healing from severe wounds? How will he react once he learns that Sansa’s injury is a product of my own sword...a product of my own uncontrollable rage?

He spent another minute gathering his thoughts, strength, and composure before making his way to depart.

“The next time I come down here, it will be to kill you,” Sandor stepped on the maimed arm as he exited, much like the smug lord had done to Arya after their duel. 

“I’ll die...before...then,” the ruin of a man whimpered once his screaming had dissolved.

“No, you won’t. Or, I’ll kill you again.”






The rightful King of the Six Kingdoms awaited him in the yard beside several of the issues of northern lords who had perished in King’s Landing, an Umber and a Cerwyn from the looks of it though Sandor thought all northerners looked much the same. All, except Sansa.  

As he approached, he saw Jon’s hand grip the hilt of his sword, brooding now more than ever.  The bronze-and-green beast flew high above against the overcast, making its way north where only the wildlings would live now.

“A word. Now,” Jon said.

Sandor nodded once but did not slow his pace to speak with him publicly in the yard. Instead, he continued walking towards the main tower, giving Jon no other option other than to depart the young men and fall in beside him. 

He did not have to look long at the young king to see the blood that lingered on his face and cloak. While the rest of the north rejoiced learning of Daenerys’ death, Jon did not appear to possess mutual feelings. He loved her, Sandor knew. A terrible woman to have loved.

The two men visited Arya’s bedchamber first and to their surprise, the little lady was awake, grimacing at her wounded arm.

“Seven fucking hells!” she cried after trying to peek under the dressing. 

“Arya,” Jon gasped, pushing past Sandor to sit beside her on the bed. “How bad is it? You’re pale,” he brushed the mess of hair that fell over her forehead.

“I’m fine,” she lied, wincing as she laid her arm back onto the bed. “That fucking shit, he…” Arya paused, staring at Sandor wide-eyed. “Wait, what happened? How long has it been? Why are you both covered in blood? Where--”

“It’s been a few hours, girl,” Sandor muttered. 

Arya swung her feet off the bed and cried, pulling her arm to her chest. Jon placed his hands on her shoulders to keep her from moving.

“Where the bloody hell do you think you are going?” Sandor asked. 

“Where is he?” she asked grimly. There is only one ‘he’ she would be referring to.

“Waiting for me to kill him in the cells,” he said casually.

Jon looked over his shoulder at that, an exasperated expression on his face. 

“You haven’t killed him yet?” Jon asked incredulously. “The Greatjon’s eldest living son told me he tricked Arya, tried to poison you, and attempted to kill Sansa, and you are telling me he still breathes?”

“What?” Arya jerked, grimacing again from the pain in her arm.

“He won’t be breathing for long,” Sandor grumbled.

“What happened? Sansa,” the girl fretted. “Where is she?”

Sandor sighed and threw his head back against the wall just as he had done in the cells, recalling once again the horror that occurred out in the yard but this time vocalizing it, the words leaving his mouth tasted of acid and blood.

You were the one to hit her?” Jon asked, rising from the bed in a fury. “Lord Umber conveniently left that part out.”

Sandor furrowed his brow. Could the new lord have been trying to protect me from this bastard king’s anger? he wondered. Perhaps not all of the northern houses have forgotten their loyalty. Maybe these highborn sons of fallen fathers no longer blame me for our recent misfortunes. Maybe that she-bear opened their bloody eyes.

“He threw her at me,” Sandor finally said. “Right as I--”

“Who was beside her?” Jon raised his voice. “Did no man think to protect their queen?”

They were all as blind as I was, he thought remorsefully. Hundreds of men and all as foolish as I. Angry men, engrossed in a bloody battle, longing to see the much-anticipated duel between their queen’s husband and her former betrothed. Not even the Mormont child was quick enough to stop him...and neither was I.

“It’s my fault,” he admitted somberly. “She’s in our bedchamber. Bran wanted to be with her.” For unknown reasons, her Three-Eyed Crow brother requested to be beside her once Sandor took her to rest in their chambers. Maybe he does care, afterall. Or, maybe it’s all part of a greater plan, as every other bloody thing seems to be.

“Help me up,” Arya ordered Jon saplessly. “I need to go.”

“No, you need to rest.”

“Go where?” Sandor scoffed. “Your arm was nearly sliced off hours ago!” 

The little she-wolf, Sandor thought admiringly. Fierce even after death. Fiercer even after a bloody trial-by-combat.

“I’m going to kill that shit since you won’t!” she shouted feebly.

“I am going to kill him!” Sandor shouted back while Jon stared at him threateningly. 

“Then what are you waiting for? A fucking apology?”

Sandor’s jaw clenched upon hearing her words, the snarky tone of her voice. Had Jon not been there, he would have given her a clout on the head, maimed arm be damned. “You speak too boldly to me, girl! I intend on giving that egotistical, smug cunt a gruesome death, not a quick one!”

“Well I intend on bashing his head in the same way he ordered his men to do to Gendry!” This time when she cried, Sandor was not sure if it was caused by the pain in her arm or by the memory of seeing the boy she loved have his brains splattered across King’s Landing. 

It was then that the realization came to him. A gruesome death, he thought. Sandor laughed a deep, sinister, snarling laugh.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Arya scowled, wiping the tears from her face with her unharmed, strong, coordinated left arm.

“Have you ever swung a hammer?” Sandor asked. Jon’s head snapped towards him as did his hand to the hilt of his sword.  

“Arya’s injured! She has clearly lost a lot of blood, and yet you ask if she has ever swung a hammer?” Jon shook his head disapprovingly.

“She need not swing long, only once or twice. I’ll do the rest,” Sandor said, thinking of how bashing in the lord’s head would be almost poetic. The she-wolf can avenge her boy, afterall. 

“I haven’t,” Arya answered, standing from the bed infirmly and boldly all at once as she leaned against Jon. “But I am about to.”

Chapter Text

“It is time to wake, Sansa. Lord Hardyng is to die.”

Following Bran’s soft-spoken words, her eyes fluttered open at last. And, for the first time since the duel, she could see.

Despite having been robbed of her sight, her body somehow paralyzed yet fully sensible to the pain inside her body, Sansa was able to hear everything, learning what had occurred just moments ago.

Harry grabbed me, threw me, and Sandor...he blames himself. His steel cut into my leg. How did I not feel it then? It wasn’t until the maester touched me did I realize the pain, the horrible pain...Bran warned me.

“Sandor loves you,” Bran had said once her husband left the bedchamber. Sandor had carried her not-fully unconscious body into their bedchamber as the maester brought Bran along per his request. When Sansa had felt herself being lowered onto the furs, she had tried to beg for Sandor to stay, but her mouth refused to move. “You were wrong when you said he would only kill for you. He would die for you even faster.” 

He must know I can hear him, she had thought. Why is he telling me this? As per usual, the words had troubled her. Yet instead of being able to walk away or tell her brother to stop, her current state made her a prisoner to his odd, cryptic murmurs.

“You are a queen, Sansa,” he had said. “You will make difficult decisions, but make them you must. Otherwise, they will be made for you. And sometimes, that can be much worse.” 

Stop talking, Bran! she had wanted to scream. Bring me my husband!

“You may not understand why Arya needed to be your champion. It could have been another, one who would have won. However,” he had paused for a moment, intensifying Sansa’s apprehensiveness. “Harry had to live then to die now. Arya had to lose then to win now.”

What is he saying? Is Arya still going to kill Harry? She is injured and he...he had only one hand...and the swords, all the swords...Sandor will not keep him alive for long.

A long moment of silence passed and her attention went to the pain in her thigh, stinging like a thousand needles were pressing into her, ripping her open and tearing her skin away. During the silence, Sansa began to feel drowsy and welcomed the prospect of sleep until it was interrupted by Bran’s gentle inhale.

“Your daughter will favor the father, in appearance but also in character. I see her a lot now.”

Sansa had been intrigued by the mention of her daughter, and for once, Sansa wanted him to continue speaking. That is, until he did, and then she wished he hadn’t.

“It will be a painful birth. More so than before due to the injury you sustained on your leg. It is why I did not want you to go. Sandor, he--”

Her trepidation of what he would say next had been cut short by the sharp squawking noise coming in from the window. It’s Rhaegal...Jon is back.

The silence returned once more, minutes and minutes passing, leaving her in the blind darkness to wonder what Bran was going to say about Sandor. Bran says what he thinks is sufficient and then leaves. No doubt he left me to go warg into the dragon. It was not until another moment had passed did Bran return to tell her to wake, that Harry would die, had her eyes finally opened.

And as they did, so did the door.

Sansa saw the canopy first and before she could look towards the entrance, Sandor had run over to her, kneeling beside her on the bed, his lips smothering hers.

“Little bird,” he whispered. Sansa felt their child begin to stir inside her, animated by the sound of his voice. Sandor pressed his lips onto hers again, but at no point did Sansa close her eyes. At last, she could see him, and she never wanted to look away. 

Across the bedchamber, she heard someone clear their throat emphatically as Sandor continued to embrace her. He grunted, unwilling to break their kiss but nevertheless pulled away from her, sliding down the furs to examine her thigh. She watched as his face grimaced at the sight and for a moment, she thought he might cry. 

“Gods, little bird, I’m--”

“It’s not your fault,” she said in a whisper. “Please, help me up.” Sandor’s large hand tucked underneath her back and gently eased her to a sitting position. She whimpered in the process, the pain in her thigh consuming her senses, and when she looked down, she could not believe the size of the dressing over her wound. 

“Oh,” was all she could say before she felt faint, her vision blurring for a moment before returning. Sansa looked ahead of her and saw Jon standing at the foot of the bed with Arya leaning against him, her right arm in a sling.

“Arya, you’re…” Sansa shook her head. How can my little sister be so resilient? Perhaps she is used to the cut of steel. Whereas I…

“Let me see your thigh,” Arya said quietly, pulling herself away from Jon and standing beside Sandor, her good arm pushing at his shoulder. “Seven hells, I can’t see shit from here. Move!”

“Watch it, girl!” he roared back. The interaction made Sansa smile despite her pain.

“Sansa, how are you feeling?” Jon asked. She noticed the blood on his face and clothing, and although he had always been the brooding type, he looked unusually distressed. He killed Daenerys, she remembered.

“I’m--” she began to answer before Arya’s fingers tenderly pulled back the fabric over her wound. Although the touch was intended to be gentle, it felt like Arya was pouring a cask of wildfire over her thigh. “Stop!” Sansa screamed.

“Bloody hell,” she gasped before Sandor swatted her hand away. Arya frowned at him.

“Bugger off,” he mumbled. “Let her rest.” 

“She should be coming with us,” Arya spat. “Carry her.”

“Coming with you where?” Sansa asked, her glance meeting each of their eyes one by one. The last of the Starks, she thought. And Bran in the corner, living once again as a dragon.

“She’s not coming with us,” Sandor growled at Arya.

“Why? She should be there more than any of us after what he did to her! What he tried to do to her!” Arya said fervently before appearing faint.

Bran said to wake up, that Harry would die...they’re going to kill him.

“Sandor, I want to go,” said Sansa desperately. “I need to be there.”

“No,” he muttered. “I never want him near you again, even in death.”

“I agree,” Jon sighed. “You’ve seen men beheaded Sansa. Stabbed, sliced...but this will not be that. It will be--”

“Beautiful,” Arya cut in. “And you should be there.”

Sandor scowled at her sister. “My pregnant, wounded wife will not be--”

“I will,” Sansa interrupted firmly. “And you will take me to him. Now.”








“Before you die, I want to hear you say it.”

In that moment, Sansa had forgotten about the debilitating pain in her thigh. Sansa even managed to ignore the feisty kicking against her ribs that now felt bruised. Her full attention was on the scene in front of her, staring through the cell bars as she sat in a frigid guard’s chair, watching as Sandor held the once handsome lord up against the frosted wall. His sandy hair was darker after having been drenched with his blood, and his deep blue eyes were now dull, nearly lifeless, however she could still see the contempt in them. How could one man’s hurt pride turn him into such a monster? Sansa wondered.

“Say...what?” he groaned.

“I want you to admit that you lied about Beric and I.”

He chuckled weakly as if she told a jape. “Why?” 

“Your lie nearly resulted in the loss of my husband’s life, my sister’s life, and my own. And yet, you persist. Perhaps you might want to die with a shred of honor and beg your gods to show mercy on you for that unforgivable sin.”

“Fuck you, whore,” Harry scoffed. Sandor reached into his sword belt and pulled out a dagger, instantaneously slicing off the thumb on Harry’s lone hand. 

“Go on, say it!” Sandor rasped over the half-dead man’s screaming.

“Kill me...I’m not saying a bloody thing,” he spat in Sandor’s face. A second finger was cut and fell onto the ground.

“I can stand here all day and slice parts off of you one by one,” her husband growled.

The lord’s eyes met Sansa’s again and this time she saw desperation rather than contempt. “Don’t harm my...bastards,” he said. Had he been anyone else, Sansa would have felt sorry for him. 

“I’d never harm an innocent child,” said Sansa. “Unlike you.” If I were to have married this monster, he would have killed my child and thought nothing of it. All for his pride. His wounded pride.

“And what of the Vale?” he asked. 

What of it, indeed. Sansa knew what was typically done when such enmity occurred between houses in Westeros. However, she did not know if it would be enough considering the circumstances. Only time will tell.

“The Lords of the Vale must swear fealty to the North. We will take wards, firstborn sons and daughters of the lords, in order to ensure their loyalty. It will be their responsibility to choose your successor. If one cannot be decided on, Jon will do so as is his right as the rightful ruler and Lord of the Six Kingdoms,” she explained, painfully shifting in the chair after her hand had accidentally brushed over the deep cut. “The knights who came for you were detained by my men after the duel. Did they know about the poison?”

A distorted chuckle left his mouth. “Oh, Sansa. You are...hungry for blood.”

“Did they know?” Sansa repeated harshly.

“Yes.”

“Then, they must be hanged,” Sansa said coolly.

“Them, and another,” he whispered. She watched in disgust as his destructed face smirked. Sandor used his fist to wipe it off.

“Another?” she felt the pain in her leg worsen, the kicks in her belly beginning to stir quicker.

“The girl. The chambermaid.”

Sandor looked over his shoulder to observe her reaction but there was none to be found. Sansa was as frozen sitting in that chair as she had been in Sandor’s arms after the duel. Conscious, yet somehow unable to speak, unable to move.

“The child you fucked in the crypt?” Sandor blurted. “You expect us to believe she assisted you in this buggering, craven scheme?”

“Sara,” he whispered the girl's name as if she were there. “How else do you think...we got the poison from the maesters chambers?” 

Sansa did not have to ponder about it for long to realize what he was saying was likely not a lie. The girl never would have looked suspicious entering the maester’s chambers, whereas one of his men would; it would not have been difficult for her to visit with the old man, taking a fatal vial with her before departing, pouring it into Sandor’s cup.

“Did you threaten her?” asked Sansa, her heart heavy considering yet another betrayal. 

“No need,” he grimaced. “Only promised her.”

“Promised her what?” 

“A betrothal, to a lord...in the Vale,” he snorted weakly but mockingly. “Women. You’ll do anything...for a highborn cock, won’t you? You’re...all whores.”

A third and fourth finger came off after that, followed by Sandor throwing Harry’s head against the icy stones.

“You’ll...need to...hang her, too,” he said tauntingly even though he was half-unconscious.

Difficult decisions, she remembered Bran saying. Is this what he meant?

“I’ll speak with her first,” Sansa said blankly.

How am I, an expectant mother of a daughter, supposed to hang another woman’s daughter? Stupid little girl, she thought. Stupid to make such heinous choices. A blind, hopeful little girl, just like I once was when I wrote that letter all those years ago, calling my own father a traitor...all so I could still marry Joffrey. 

“Now go on...kill me,” Harry whispered, seemingly desperate to be relieved of his pain.

“Admit that you lied and then, I’ll let you die.”

Harry frowned. “Nestor Royce said it best...that day before your dog cut his...head off.”

Sansa tried to remember what foul words Lord Royce had said to her during his own execution... what was it?

“I hope you…” fucking bleed to death birthing this creature’s stillborn bastards, she remembered before Harry could finish uttering the revolting words.

A painful birth, she remembered Bran saying. How painful...

“Tell me you lied,” Sansa interrupted him and her dark thoughts.

“You wanted him,” Harry chuckled, conspicuously unhinged. He’s going mad with pain, mad with the prospect of his death. Sandor slammed him against the wall once more to quiet him.

“You have one last chance to--.”

“Cissy, Saffron, Myranda, Sara... you. All lying whores. And you, the worst of them all.”

Sandor grabbed a handful of his hair and pushed him down roughly onto his knees.

“Get in here she-wolf,” Sandor called out.

Down the corridor, holding onto Jon’s arm, came Arya, clad in a hooded black leather jacket, looking like the Stranger deity himself. 

Her?” Harry snickered as she entered the cell. “Alia, is it? Going to...poke me to death with that little sword...of yours?”

Arya opened up her hand, allowing Jon to place a hefty, steel hammer from the armory into her left palm. Sansa watched Harry’s face closely, observing the horror that washed over him; the sight brought her more joy than she could believe. 

“My name is Arya Stark. You ordered your men to kill Gendry Waters, a bastard son of Robert Baratheon, with his own warhammer. And I...loved him,” she whispered. “Burn in hell.” Arya threw back her left arm, grunting as loudly as she could, and slammed the steel head of the hammer into the right side of his skull, a haunting crack echoing throughout the cells. Jon balanced Arya when she nearly fell over from the hammer’s weight as Sandor pulled Harry back up. Arya hurled the hammer once more into the top of his head, the steel lodging tightly into the bone from the impact. Arya cried angrily while trying to pull it out for another swing, but Jon stopped her, pulling her left hand off the handle and cradling her into his arms like a child.

The young man who Sansa had met as her betrothed, Harry the Heir, the man who had relentlessly schemed to destroy her marriage and the North itself, was undeniably and finally dead. However, that did not stop Sandor from ripping the hammer from his skull, tossing it onto the ground, and unsheathing his sword to separate Harry’s head from his shoulders. He let the body fall onto the ground and held the decapitated head like a trophy.

“For your wolf,” Sandor muttered to Jon. “The rest,” he looked at the body and spat on it, “give it to your bloody dragon.”

“No,” Arya whispered against Jon’s chest. “I need the face.”

It was a gruesome sight, entirely and overwhelmingly grisly as blood, bone, and dead flesh lay on the ground. However, Sansa could not take her eyes away from it. More so, she could not take her eyes away from Sandor. The spilled blood covered his clothing, hands, and face, and yet, it sparked a queer lust inside of her. He looked like the Warrior deity as he stood there, doused in the blood of a man who would have torn them apart, and her mind wandered to a dark place. Had Sansa not been unable to stand, she would have thrown herself into his arms and let him take her right there in the most erotic, twisted of ways. 

Sandor looked over at her through the cell bars and she realized he could see it, reading her vulgar thoughts somehow. His expression shifted from one of triumph to one of deep intrigue. He tossed the head onto the floor after Arya’s request and made his way towards her, picking her up into his arms just as Jon carried her sister, who was now faint from the force she exerted, out of the cells. The pain in her leg felt minor compared to the arousal she felt as he kissed her lips, the blood smearing on her face.

“No one’s going to hurt you again, little bird,” he said throatily. “And if they do, they will all get what he just did.”