It had been a long night, he had the right of that.
He seemed even more nervous than she was, and she thought she could lighten the mood by teasing him about his clumsy fingers working her laces. Which ultimately proved to be a bad idea, because he drew his dagger and simply sliced the dress clean off her. And she had really liked that dress, too. She’d given him a look of open exasperation but before she could utter a protest, he covered her mouth with his own and the dress was quickly forgotten. And then it was a tumult of clothing and kissing as they hastily finished undressing each other. Only briefly did she wonder about the appropriateness of her actions but she pushed the thought aside- they were married now, and knowing that he was her husband and she his wife gave her the freedom to do as she pleased. And it pleased her to undress him, to look at him, to touch him.
He wanted to keep touching her, too, of course, but it was her turn and she let him know it, pushing him till he was on his back and she was kneeling over him. He seemed both amused and aroused by her enthusiasm and didn’t fight her, just watched her, one hand resting on her hip. She let her fingers wander everywhere her eyes went- over the dense muscle on his shoulders, the coarse hair on his chest, his flat stomach, and finally, anxiously reaching down to the area between his legs. She ran both her hands down the flesh she found there, one over the other, repeatedly, marveling at how hard it was, how incredibly long it was, how very heavy it was. It was all so unexpected. Was this what men had to deal with constantly? How did they wear breeches? How did they ride horses? How did they make water?
She was so engrossed in her own thoughts that she almost forgot what it was they were doing, until he reached down and placed one of his enormous hands over hers. And that was unexpected, too. For a part of the body that was clearly very sensitive, he sure did want her to squeeze hard. She tried to follow his unspoken instructions but she was truthfully worried that she might break it. He must have been worried about that, too, because after a while he yanked her hand away and pulled her up to him for a kiss.
And gods, what a kiss. This was nothing like his other kisses, but fierce and desperate and so like him, and she met it with a hunger she'd never known. He held her tightly and rolled over her, pulling her underneath him as he nudged her legs open with his knees. It was so soon, and she was scared, truly scared, because now that she knew exactly what was coming she knew it was definitely going to hurt. A lot. But she couldn’t think about that anymore, because he took her hands and whispered he was sorry for hurting her and pushed into her with one sure movement.
Maiden Mother and Crone it was terrible, the pain so intense she felt like her breath was knocked out of her while her fingernails dug helplessly into his hands. She knew it was supposed to hurt, had always just accepted it was supposed to hurt, but at that moment she was cursing whichever god had decided such a thing. Why, why was it supposed to hurt? It seemed so unfair!
He asked her if she wanted to stop. Or maybe he asked her if she was alright. She wasn’t entirely certain what he had asked, so she kissed his neck and hoped he’d know what she meant. He must have, because he kissed her quickly on the forehead and began moving. It was bizarre, the feel of him inside her, his hardness dragging against her tender skin, her own body clenching around him. And the pain, still the pain, but she closed her mind to it, focusing on his warm body and his whispered words as he told her how much he wanted her, how he’d wanted her for so long, and how she felt so good. And after a while it seemed that the motion was soothing her as much as his words were.
His slower movements soon yielded to faster, stronger thrusts, his words became incoherent, the pain became sharper. Just as she was wondering if she could ever get used to this he pushed hard against her with a shudder and a groan, and somewhere beneath the pain she could feel the intense pulsing heat of him and knew it was over.
And she was glad, at first, but when he withdrew she rather missed having him there.
The second time came soon after the first, and took Sansa completely by surprise. She had never even thought a second time was possible, always imagined that it would happen once and then they would go to sleep; but then, given the option, she felt that sleep was overrated. Things progressed slowly and sweetly from there, and though it still hurt, the pain was somehow secondary to the pleasure. She didn’t know there were so many different things a husband could do with his wife, and spent the evening gasping and giggling at every new discovery. Each successive coupling was less painful, and while her body didn’t react in the same way his did, she felt that her desire for him was just as strong as his desire for her.
At one point he found the bruise still visible on her hip and she saw the clouds rolling into his eyes. And then he apologized- for hurting her, for scaring her, for all of it- and her heart jumped. She had told herself that she didn’t need to hear it, that she knew he was sorry and that was good enough; but hearing it anyway made the night complete, somehow, and she thanked him for his apology because she knew it was hard for him. He just laughed and said if he was going to be married to her he would have to get used to apologizing. Then he kissed her bruised hip bone, her belly, her breast, her neck… by the time he reached her mouth, all was forgiven.
He left for his shift that morning even before the sun came up, and she had sent him off with a proper goodbye then slunk back under the blankets for some much-needed sleep. It seemed her eyes were closed for only a moment when there was a sharp knock at the door.
“Lady Sansa!” Ser Meryn. Sighing, she wrapped a dressing gown around her and opened the door.
“The king requests your presence in the throne room. I’m to escort you.” He gave her a knowing smirk and she blushed madly.
“I need a few minutes to get dressed,” she said quietly and closed the door at his nod. She knew what he was thinking, knew what all of them were thinking, and for the first time she felt a stab of regret. She’d accepted that the smartest course of action was to let Joffrey believe she was mistreated. She knew that. But at the same time, it bothered her that the king would think so little of her husband, that everyone thought so little of him, when in truth he was as loyal and gentle a man as she had ever met. If only they knew how happy she was, if only she could tell them…
Not bothering to call for a handmaid, she washed her face and brushed out her hair before getting dressed in something simple but pretty. She knew the king was hoping to see her looking distraught; she wanted to be the exact opposite. Fifteen minutes later she was entering the throne room.
As much as she had pretended to be upset last night, she didn’t have to pretend to be embarrassed this morning. She knew everyone was looking at her and imagining her with her husband, wondering if she cried, wondering if she bled, wondering if they should pity her. She could feel the familiar blush on her cheeks and ears, but held her head high as she knelt before the king.
Sandor was standing behind Joffrey’s left shoulder, his usual spot, looking almost bored, although she didn’t dare look at him directly. Ser Meryn took his place behind Joffrey on his right.
Joffrey was eying her like a cat eying a trapped mouse, a mean glint in his eye. He waved at her to arise, so she did.
“Lady Sansa. I hope you enjoyed your wedding last night.” Stupid little boy with a stupid little smirk on his face.
“Yes, Your Grace. It was a lovely wedding.”
“Yes, it was. Really, more than you deserved, but I was feeling generous with my dog.”
She willed her voice to remain emotionless. “Thank you, Your Grace. It was most generous.”
“My dog says he had you howling like a bitch last night.” He said it loudly, and she could hear snickering behind her and saw Ser Meryn smirk.
Was that a question? He seemed to be waiting for a response, so she took a breath. “Yes, Your Grace.”
The king was really enjoying himself and leaned in with a sneer. “So you found the bedding to be satisfactory?” he pressed.
“Yes, Your Grace,” she said as blandly as she could. But then she cocked her head to the side and gave him a sly smirk. “I was… very satisfied.” And she arched an eyebrow and smiled wider, even though she didn’t mean to.
Ser Meryn snorted, Joffrey spluttered, and she bit her lip to hide her laugh.
“Dog, get her out of here! I don’t want to see her again until there’s a litter of pups in her belly!”
Wordlessly, Sandor grabbed her by the arm and hauled her out of the throne room and down the hall while she did her best to look abashed. They were heading back to his chamber- their chamber- and she was relieved. When he was sure no one could see them anymore he dropped her arm and scowled at her.
“That mouth is going to get you in trouble, little bird.”
“I thought you liked my mouth.”
He chuckled softly and leaned in for a kiss, but she put her hand on his chest and fixed him with a reproachful look.
“’Howling like a bitch?’”
“You said I could tell him anything I wanted,” he laughed.
“And that was the best you could do?”
He growled at her and scooped her up, and she shrieked as he carried her the rest of the way to his- their- chamber. Soon enough they were laughing and rolling over each other, kissing and holding each other as if nothing else mattered in the world before settling into contented silence.
She thought it was odd that he’d had her nearly half a dozen times already, and still her heart pitter pattered like a maiden just from laying so close to him. Will it always be this way? She sure hoped so. “You must be exhausted,” she murmured, running a finger down his nose, over his lips, his chin…
“Been worse,” he answered, pulling her hand from his face and kissing it gently. “You know, you shouldn’t antagonize him. He doesn’t need much of a reason to punish you.”
“I know,” she admitted reluctantly. She had been wondering if Joffrey would use him against her, was hoping he wouldn’t be so evil. But she knew deep down that he would, would find it particularly amusing, and wondered how it would affect them. She shook her head slowly and gave him a sad look. “I guess things will be worse, now.”
“No, I think things will be better.”
She looked at him dubiously and waited for him to explain.
“Their ties to you are dependent on my loyalty to them. Joffrey may be stupid enough to abuse it, but Tywin and Cersei aren’t, and they’ll keep him in line.” He was playing with her hands and pulled her closer for a kiss. “And… I convinced Joffrey that the worst punishment for you would be to bear my children. Which you couldn’t do, if you were getting beat all the time.” He looked apologetic, as if he thought she would be angry at the suggestion, but she only laughed.
“Well, you did promise me lots of beautiful babies.”
“Did I?” he asked, one eyebrow raised in amusement.
“Mmmhmm,” she sighed. “It was part of your plan, luring me in with all your sweet words and promises. You’re very good at it, you know.”
“The art of seduction,” she purred. “You cleverly concealed it behind threats and insults but I figured it out. Luckily for you, I don’t scare so easy. What are you doing?”
“What do you think I’m doing?”
"But it’s daytime!”
Sandor sighed in mock annoyance. “Wait, let me guess- you thought it only happened at night.”
Actually… she did think it only happened at night, but there was no way she would ever admit it, so she hit him with a pillow and rolled away to tie her laces back up. Sandor scooted over to her on the bed and wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her close till she lay across him, her head against his chest.
“Do you think there’s a chance we’ll ever see my mother and brother?” she asked. “I really want them to meet you.”
“A chance. Yes. We’ll see how the war goes.” He took a deep breath and let it out completely. “I’ve met them before, though; pretty sure they hated me. They’re really going to hate me, now.”
She couldn’t help but laugh- he was right, after all, her family was going to hate him. “My mother will not be pleased, that’s true,” she began. “But she’ll come around when she sees how happy we are. Robb, on the other hand… yes, he’s going to hate you.”
“Then I will be on my very best behavior around him,” he promised. “Don’t want to make your brother uncomfortable.”
“Why not?” she asked, turning mischievous eyes up at him. “He’s my brother; I’m supposed to make him uncomfortable. I’m going to wear my new Highgarden dress in front of him, he’ll love that. Ooo, and maybe we can have a room next to him so he can hear the headboard banging against the wall every night.”
She laughed loudly at her own jape, and even louder when Sandor’s jaw dropped in horrified awe. “What the fuck happened to you?” he demanded, clearly amused.
“You did,” she answered sweetly, kissing him on the chin. “You’ve been a terrible influence on me.”
“I should have known,” he grumbled. “You’ve been a terrible influence on me, too.”
“I have been a wonderful influence on you,” she countered. “Look at all the wonderful things that have happened to you since you met me.” As if to emphasize her point, she kissed his neck and ran her hand down his stomach and between his legs, even though it was daytime.
“Careful, little wife. You’ll give your husband ideas.”
“Maybe that’s what I was trying to do,” she murmured, but quickly became serious and turned her gaze up to him. “I’ll be a good wife, you know. You won’t ever regret marrying me, I promise.”
He seemed momentarily surprised by her sudden confession, then shook his head and looked away. “I can’t promise the same, little bird. I know nothing about being a husband.”
“That’s the wrong answer,” she pouted.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” he responded. “I won’t be a good husband. But I promise to try. Isn’t that good enough?”
It was not good enough. In fact, it wasn’t even good enough that he would be a good husband. She wanted more than that. She needed more than that.
“My parents didn’t even know each other when they got married,” she told him. “They were complete strangers.”
“That’s pretty normal with highborns,” he said matter-of-factly.
Sansa paused, trying to find the right words for her question. She knew what she wanted to ask; she didn’t know WHY she wanted to ask it, why she still clung to the idea even in the midst of all the tragedy she’d experienced. And he was a warrior, a man hardened by battle and heartache, who didn’t believe in songs and happy endings. Or love. Trying to talk with him about these things was just setting herself up for disappointment.
“They had to learn to love each other. But they did love each other. Eventually.” She took a deep breath to calm herself before continuing. “Do you think you'll learn to love me?”
The question hung between them for only a moment.
“No, I won’t learn to love you.” He lifted her hand and kissed the inside of her wrist. So romantic. “I already do.”
Her heart felt like it was soaring. “I love you too,” she said breathlessly, and unlaced his breeches, daytime be damned.