All characters belong to the great GRRM
It had been four months since Sansa ended her long absence and returned to Winterfell, along with a campion she thought she never see again, but had never believed was dead. No sooner they had entered the burnt out gates, the rain had started falling and never gave up. The winter had been long and brutal, but now spring had finally come, and the warm rains had begun to wash the blood and death away from the frozen ground.
"Seven buggering, fucking hells," Sandor rasped agitatedly as he flexed his long fingers over and over again, "will it ever stop fucking raining here?" He had been pacing around Sansa's solar all morning in a bored aggravation. He was used to doing something, digging graves, killing the men that went in them, training with his sword, this was getting to be to much. He had sworn a vow to her, she did not ask it of him, but he did it anyway. He used the excuse that the men before had failed miserably at her safety. He would be dammed if he had watched her leave the Quiet Isle without a proper shield. He had never sworn a vow in his life but she was worth it, even though he could never admit that to her. He stalked over to the table and pored himself a mug of piss warm ale and choked it down. "Fuck, is this all your Northern men drink?" he muttered with a scowl that pulled his scars even tighter.
Sansa looked up at him and sighed. She had been answering letters all morning. She was a struggling Lady of Winterfell, but she was determined to rebuild and that meant re-enforcing alliances and inspiring her Bannerman that the north would prevail and be strong again. She looked a true picture of Tully, the blue eyes that sometimes gave away to a sparkle and red hair that glimmered around her face like a halo, but was a Stark inside, strong and with a grit that Joffrey or Littlefinger could not break. "Winterfell was sacked, they took everything, the wine, the food stores, anything they could get their dirty hands on they took" she said sadly.
Her father always said "Winter is coming" and truly it had came and left a ruin that Sansa was responsible to rebuild.
When they arrived at Winterfell, there were only a few occupants around and as soon as they saw their lady they fell to their knees swearing their love and service to her. Slowly the word had spread that at last there was a Stark in Winterfell and more folk had come back and helped rebuild part of the keep and now they had a temporary roof over their heads and small kitchen and solar for Sansa to receive guests and spend her days doing correspondence. Off to the side of her solar was a small hallway with two rooms adjacent to each other and these were hers and Sandor's separate sleeping quarters. She knew there was no threat to her anymore and the war was over and there was a new queen who would never hurt Sansa or the north. There was no danger to Sansa, but the comfort and safety she felt with Sandor next to her at all times was something she cherished quietly.
" I wonder," Sansa said softly, "would you like to go and explore the wine cellar?" She was also tired of drinking watered down Ale, but most of all she just wanted to get out and stretch her legs. "Ayra, Bran, Rickon and I would sometimes play hide and seek in the cellars, back before we left for Kingslanding. I was terrible at the game and was always the first one found" she said sadly, with a small laugh. "Maybe we might find an unbroken cask," she added thoughtfully.
"Why didn't you say something sooner" Sandor snarled, "we could have wine warming our veins instead of this horse piss," he added with a nod to the half empty pitcher. "Let's go Little Bird," Sandor said, already making for the door.
"Wait, I need my cloak, and you should take yours, we have to go out and cross over to the unfinished side to enter the cellar" Sansa said quickly. She turned and went to her chamber and pulled her warm, fur trimmed cloak over her shoulders and put the hood over her hair carefully tucking her long, auburn locks underneath it. She then went back to her solar and waited patiently for Sandor.
A few moments later his large frame was in front of her, looming over her with a eager glint in his eye. He had thrown his cloak on and buckled his great sword on his back and his dagger on the side. "Ready now Little Bird" he finally said with a growl, "lets hunt some wine down." He walked to the outside door and threw it open and stomped out with a slight limp into the blinding rain. Sansa quickly followed him. She reached for his arm so she would not fall in the deep mud. Sandor grasped her hand tightly and pulled her along behind him as he forged a trail across the short distance to the unfinished part of the keep. He pushed the burnt door open with a thud and they entered the charred out room. "Where to now, Little Bird," Sandor roughly rasped at her.
Sansa started walking towards the burnt door that led to the old kitchen, carefully stepping around charred timbers and melted pots and pans. Sandor followed close behind keeping a wary eye on the creaking, rather leaky roof, feeling a little nervous but not enough to stop. Sansa finally reached a door that pointed to a dark staircase. "It's down this way," she said, "but we have no light," she added with a hint of disappointment.
"Don't worry your pretty little head, I've got something with me, just need to light the fucking thing," he snarled back at her as he pulled a torch from under his cloak.
"You brought a torch?" Sansa asked surprised.
"Well I am your bloody sworn shield, so might be a good idea if I plan things ahead, in case you decide you want to go exploring dark stairwells with a bugger like me," he rasped with a jape. He shoved the unlit torch towards her, "Here hold this, while I light it" not sounding pleased at all. Finally after several failed attempts the torch caught and Sandor carefully took it from Sansa and held it as far from himself as possible. "After you my lady," he said mockingly. Slowly they made their way down the creaky stairs.
Sansa led him to a Weirwood door, it was small and still in relativity good shape despite the fire damage that surrounded it. "Here, this is the old wine keep, I remember this room, you must be careful, the ceiling is quite low," Sansa said, a little out of breath. She tried pushing the door open but it would not budge.
"Here, get out of the way," Sandor rasped impatiently, "no need to hurt yourself." He threw his large shoulder into the door and it flew open from the force. He entered first, ducking as to not hit his head on the low header. The room was a moderate size, and dark, the glow from the tourch gave it an uncomfortable feel. "Watch out Little Bird," he scowled darkly, " There are shards of clay everywhere, don't want to be cutting yourself."
There was not really anything left in the room. Some discarded casks were smashed on the floor and the wine barrels were gone. Sansa went further into the room, covering her nose and mouth from the musty, rotting, vinegar smell that was overpowering her senses. Even though the damage was done several years past, the smell never escaped. She crept over to the furthest corner and beckoned Sandor to follow, she bent down a reached to the deepest depths and carefully pulled out a dusty, clay cask what was still sealed. She turned around and smiled shyly.
"How the fuck did you know that was there?" Sandor roared, not taking his eyes away from the cask in her hand.
"This was given to my father when Robb was born and father hid it here with the intent to open it when Robb had his first son," Sansa explained sadly. "There will be no first son for Robb, or any of them, it's only me left" she confided with tears in her eyes. She quickly looked away towards the wall trying not let Sandor see the moisture building up, threatening to fall.
"Fuck Little Bird, look at me," Sandor commanded roughly. "One day you will have a son, you can open it then," he said bitterly. "I will drink the fucking ale here, don't need the wine as much as I used to anyway," he added with a snarl.
Sansa turned to meet his steel eyes, peering down at her, he gently lifted his free hand and wiped the tears off her cheek. "No more tears, Little Bird, one day your true knight will come and you will have lots of births to celebrate then" he rasped gently, his eyes narrowing at the thought.
Sansa shook her head. She did not want to think about that right now. She handed Sandor the cask and went back again to the corner, bent down and proceeded to pull another sealed flask from the darkness. She turned around and smiled, "Always have an extra, just in case," she teased lightly.
"Bugger that, you are a cunning one aren't you," Sandor exclaimed in disbelief. His eyes widened in anticipation. He smacked is ruined lips together and made for the door. "Let's go Little Bird, we got some wine to drink!"
Sansa smiled and carefully followed him out and up the steps and into the rain.
They had only been back in Sansa's solar momentarily, when Sandor was ready to open one of the casks. Sansa stopped him by putting a firm hand on his wrist. "Please wait, I need to change, my dress its covered in mud, and I am cold," she said hesitantly, starting to think that maybe this might not be a good idea. Sandor had not been drunk in front of her since the night of the Blackwater Battle and they still had not talked about it yet.
Sandor peered down at her, taking in her muddied dress and damp curls that were surrounding her small face. "Fine, go change, but you best hurry up, might be I am not going to wait very long for you to pretty yourself up," he snapped impatiently. He looked down at his muddy boots and breeches, and walked to his chambers quickly to go change himself.
Sansa slowly walked to her chamber and closed the door behind her. She leaned back on it. Her heart was starting to race. Her mind was going back to a different time and different man. She could never get that kiss out of her mind. She had experienced a few kisses but none of them could compare to The Hounds kiss, gods what if Sandor wanted to kiss her again. Maybe she would let him, but then would he want more, would she want more. She shook her head at her jumbled thoughts and started unlacing her simple wool dress and stepped out of if. She undid the laces on her tall boots and put them by the hamper along with her dress that desperately needed to be washed. She selected a simple, but pretty green dress and soft leather slippers to wear. She looked at her stockings and decided to take them off and pulled the dress over her head and tied the laces in the front and placed her small feet in the fur lined sippers. The fur caressed her feet softly and she smiled at the sensation. Sansa walked to her change table and picked up her ivory brush and started taming the unruly curls that had took over after the quick trip in rain. When she was satisfied, she looked at her reflection. She looked older, seventeen and still a maid, but the innocence that came with being a maid was gone. She smiled sadly and turned to the door and let herself out to the warmth of her solar. She stopped when she saw Sandor, standing near the fire, with his impressive backside facing her. He had changed into a dark green tunic and black breeches that fit snugly around his legs. Sansa shook her head, feeling a strange tingle go up her spine.
Sandor had stoked the fire and was standing away from it staring into the flames, he turned suddenly as he felt the presence of her stare. "Elise was just here and she went to get some dinner for us," he rasped, clearing his throat.
Sansa nodded and smiled. Elise had been a god sent and continued to be a comfort and friend to Sansa from the first day she arrived at Winterfell. She had opened her tiny cottage to Sansa and Sandor, and welcomed them to stay with her as long as they had needed while they fixed up a part of the great keep to live in.
They stood there, in a quiet, silence and listened to the crackle of the fire. Sansa looked up to Sandor's face. His scars were illuminated by the glow of the fire. He glanced down at her and met her eyes, softly staring at her, he offered her a slight smile. She grinned back at him, flashing her teeth. "Come now," she said, "lets open a cask and celebrate another rainy day."
Sansa could feel herself glowing. Her face was burning and a flush had completely taken over her. Sandor had opened the flask before eating and they had quickly each drained a mug of the aged wine before sitting down and eating the simple meal that Elise had set out for them. They had started in a comfortable silence, eating their respective meals and sipping the wine in between each bite. Sansa had never tasted a wine like it before, it was strong and sweet, like luscious ripe plums, cherries and berries and went down smooth and it left her mouth with a feel that was soft and silky. She could feel her head starting to spin a little. She felt light, happy and slightly giddy for some reason. She found herself chirping away more than usual and Sandor kept looking at her with a strange and affectionate amusement.
Finally Sansa stood up, and started swaying to one side, desperately trying to grip the back of the chair for support. Sandor leapt out of his chair and grabbed her arm. "Fuck, Little Bird," he muttered, "have you never drank before?" He walked her over to the fur rug that was close to the fire but not close enough to get hit by any sparks. It was safer for her to sit on the floor than on the backless bench. He nudged her down and she sat with her legs tucked under and glanced up at him, looming over her. She felt strange. Almost nervous but in a good way. Sandor turned away and walked back over to the table and filled his mug more and put a little in Sansa's mug. He did not need a sick Little Bird on his hands. Sandor handed Sansa her drink and went to go sit on the bench when Sansa looked up and patted the rug beside her, wanting him to come sit by her. Sandor shrugged and limped back and flopped down on the fur beside her, careful not to spill his drink and propped himself up with one arm.
He glanced up at her from the corner of his eye, she was like a glowing ember with her flushed face and her long, red curls flowing all around her. He swept a look from the top of her head, down to her fur slippers that were poking out from under her dress. She suddenly turned her head towards him as she noticed his quick stare. Their eyes met under an awkward stare for seconds and Sandor glanced back at the snapping fire.
"Dose it bother you, sitting so close?" Sansa asked softly, "We can move back if you wish it."
"It's fine," Sandor muttered clenching his jaw.
They continued to sit there, sipping their wine, the silence dragging on till Sansa could bear it no more. "Would you like to play a game?" she asked, hesitantly. She straightened up and turned so she was sitting near Sandor's feet and facing him. He peered at her questionably, but nodded her on. "It's called Knight, Craven or Truth, the object is to do what the other person asks, and if you comply then you are a Knight and if you refuse you are a Craven, or you could also choose to ask your opponent any question and they have to answer truthfully." She said rather quickly.
"What kind of fucking game is this, I am not no knight, nor am I craven and I would tell you no lies, so this would not be fun at all," he barked back, laughing mockingly.
Sansa turned her head away in embarrassment, she shook her head and made to leave. Sandor leaned forward and grabbed her hand and pulled her down, she could not meet his eyes and so he tilted her chin up with his large index finger and locked his steel eyes with hers. Sansa felt herself getting hotter by the second and adverted her eyes away. "Very well Little Bird," he finally snorted, "Lets play your little game, you can go first" and he let his finger slip away from under her chin.
Sansa smiled at him and once again settled down, facing him, this time closer to his waist and placed her now empty mug of wine on the floor. "I choose to tell you a truth, what would you like to know, Sandor?" She asked finally.
Sandor smiled wickedly, this could be a very interesting game if he wanted it to be. He thought for a minute and finally decided to let her off easily and asked, "I want to know how you found out about this game?" He looked at her with a scowl.
"Oh that's an easy one, when I was in the Erie, sometimes Randa and Mya would come keep me company and to pass time we would play it, it was a great time, and usually ended up with Randa asking us something scandalous or her doing something completely improper," Sansa giggled and blushed at the memory of how they in great detail told her how to please a man using just her mouth and tongue. "I hope to see them again, one day," she quietly added as an afterthought, sipping on her wine.
Sandor nodded, relieved that it was not some pretty green boy teaching her games. "Alright Little Bird, ask away," he rasped, the feeling of the wine starting to settle in and relax him and thought this would be much easier than getting up and performing some sword and dance routine that she would request of him, gods be good he was no craven. He smirked at her thinking he had the upper hand.
Sansa looked at him queerly, then looked away.
"Spit it out," he growled at her, feeling puzzled now.
Sansa looked at him, blushing all the while, feeling a little dizzy. Finally she spoke, "I just need to know why...why did you kiss me that night, why did you kiss me then leave?" She looked him in the eyes, not blinking away this time, Sandor's eyes opened wide with surprise.
"What the fuck are you talking about, I never once have kissed you," he growled, "you really can't control your drink can you, to speak of such things," he sneered, his mouth twitching furiously, his eyes narrowing and darkening all at once, as he shot up spilling his wine in the process.
Sansa shrank back, suddenly, at the look of fury across Sandor's scarred face. She started to scramble away and Sandor roughly grabbed her arm and pulled her close till her face was up close to his, their noses were almost touching, she could smell the wine on his breath, she was draped across his lap. "Speak!" He snarled at her, giving her a slight shake.
Sansa could not stop trembling, tears were freely falling down her face. "Sandor, please stop, your hurting me...please stop!" She cried, frantically trying to pull herself out of his iron grip, his fingers surely leaving bruises on her forearms. He suddenly let go and she fell to his side bracing herself with her arms. She looked at him, suddenly and sat up. She looked at him, her eyes finally flashing with anger, "What's wrong with you," she hissed, "You came into my room that night, you threatened me and took my song and kissed me, I remember that kiss, I have remembered it everyday and you...you dare to hurt me now...after all I have been through...you kissed me...you kissed me!" She sobbed burying her face in the palms of her hands.
Sandor stared at her, his chest was heaving, he swallowed hard trying to compose himself. "What was she thinking, what the fuck just happened?" He thought to himself, knowing full well if he had ever kissed her, he would never had forgotten a kiss with her. He shook his head and gently pulled Sansa's arms and brought her closer to him. "Sansa, look at me," he gently rasped. She refused. "Little Bird you need to calm down," he continued, trying to get her attention.
Sansa finally peeked up at him, the lids of her eyes red and the blue brighter then normal from the tears that were still falling. "You did kiss me, didn't you?" She asked hesitantly, a confused look on her face.
Sandor peered into her eyes, searching for an answer that he knew not how to give. He slowly shook his head. "Sansa if I kissed you that night, I would know it, and I would have not stopped at a kiss, gods you were just a child, and I had no right on what I did to you, none, and may I burn in the seven hells for what I did to you," he rasped, his voice hoarse, filled with guilt. "I am sorry, truly am, I will leave if you wish it." He sat back and waited for the response he knew was coming. His heart was thundering, leaving him overwhelmed, how could he leave her if she wished it. What had happened just now changed something between them forever.
Sansa wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand. She drew a shaky breath and looked up to Sandor's face. His frightful scars were dancing in the firelight, his mouth was twitching and his eyes had never looked darker. "Why would I think you kissed me, why did I dream of you then?" I don't understand, I have compared this kiss to every kiss I have ever had and nothing...nothing meets it" she whispered softly, reaching up and gently brushing the hair out of his face. He slowly turned his eyes to hers, and locked them in a steely stare.
" I don't know why you would ever think up of a kiss from me, and then believe it to be true," he roughly said, clenching his fists to his side.
"I...I don't know, it had to be real, why would I think it not to be true?" Sansa cried, "I believed it, I dreamed it, I drew comfort from it." Sansa drew a shaky breath.
"Sansa, I never kissed you," Sandor rasped softly, his eyes softening as he searched her bloodshot eyes. "Listen to me, Fuck, I have never kissed anyone, or ever been kissed," he quietly admitted. He reached for her hand and enveloped hers into his large, calloused palm. "Do you think pretty, little maids wanted to press their lips to this?" He gestured with his other hand towards the ruin of his mouth. "Fuck.." He said, shaking his head, looking away.
Sansa stared at him, she glanced down to their hands, hers in the comfort of his. She looked back to him. She gently tugged her hand away from his and rose up beside him and rested on her knees. "Sandor, look at me, please," she whispered, her heart pounding. She reached her hand to his chin and gently pulled his face around so she could look at him. "You say you never kissed me, never been kissed before, but I felt it, I kept it in my soul and it brought me strength, I had nothing left except that memory." She met his eyes, his had a sheen she had never seen before. She could not hold back any longer and the tears that had welled up again and broke like a dam, and fat drops fell and dropped off her delicate cheeks and trailed down the top of her chest and disappeared under her dress. She looked from his eyes to his lips and back again to his questioning steely eyes. She reached her other hand to snake around his neck and tugged his twisted face towards her and then she gently brushed her lips over his and softly kissed the ruined side of his mouth. Sansa wrapped both of her arms around his neck and gently brushed her nose against the hook of his. "There, Sandor Clegane, now you have been kissed," she softly said, peering into his stunned eyes.
Sandor could not believe what was happening, first they were playing some fucking game, then they were yelling, and now Sansa Stark just kissed him. His mind was spinning and he felt like he had no control. He had just been completely unhanded by her, with the sweet brush of her lips. He gently rubbed his nose against the tip of hers, peering down into the endless pool of blue that were her eyes. He reached an arm around her waist and pulled her up on to his lap, not giving a wit if it was proper or not. Sansa straddled herself onto his lap and wrapped her arms once again around his neck. He pulled her tight and rested his face into the soft crook of her neck, he could feel her pulse pounding under the soft skin. His senses were overwhelmed from the soft, earthy smell of rain, and the charred burnt smell from the earlier escapades in the cellar and sweet smell of honey that was coming from her hair. He could get drunk off her scent. He tangled his hands in her hair, the softness of it colliding with the roughness of his calloused fingers. "What in the bloody seven hells are you doing to me, Little Bird?" he whispered hoarsely, his breath catching in his throat.
Sansa stayed still for a moment, not wanting to move away, not wanting this moment to end. She had never felt so safe as in this moment. Sandor had her surrounded with his strength and masculinity, something she had never felt before, from anyone. She felt weak, as if he let her go she would fall and shatter into a million pieces, yet she felt as strong as the warrior himself. She knew in this moment that she loved him, loved him more than her protector and loved him more than her closest confidant. "Sandor," she whispered gently as she turned her head to face him, "please kiss me."
Sandor gazed at Sansa's face, her eyes were bluer than the summer skies and her small face was glowing with a heat that he could not get enough of. Fuck if he knew how to kiss, he swallowed hard, gently brushed her hair away and bent his face down and placed the smallest of kisses on the hammering pulse point of her neck.
Sansa shivered and pulled his face to hers, "Kiss me," she commanded breathlessly.
Sandor gently brought his destroyed lips to hers and softly brushed them against her supple, plump lips. He could not feel anything at first as the burnt parts gently skimmed over, but as the whole parts of his lips met hers, he felt the most incredible sensation come over him and he shivered right down to his boots. He quickly pulled away and stared at his Little Bird. The only sound that he heard was the occasional crackle and hiss coming from the fireplace and the steady drumming of his heart pounding in his ear and the ragged breathing coming from both of them.
Sansa looked into Sandor's eyes once again, his scarred expression was intense, almost threatening. For a split second, Sansa thought he could be angry, but before she could ponder the thought any further, he yanked her to him and covered her mouth with his in a hungry kiss. Sansa responded immediately, surprising herself. His mouth was so warm, the caress of his ruined lips were softer than she could have ever imagined. He tasted her tentatively with his warm tongue and Sansa opened her mouth with a low moan.
Sandor's hands gently caressed her hair that was cascading down her back and made his way to her waist pulling her even closer till she was completely moulded into him. He wrapped his arms tightly around her. Sansa let her fingers run wild through his hair, gently pulling and weaving as she bent into his kiss, their tongues taking turns chasing each other, a give and take of sorts, one surrendering while the other plundered and then surrendered again. Sansa had never felt so free and wanted as in this moment. Her heart was on the verge of exploding and she finally pulled away breathless.
Sandor looked down at her swollen lips, swollen from his kiss. He could die right now and meet The Stranger with a smile on his face. He rested his head on her forehead, breathing raggedly. "There, was that the kiss you dreamed of Little Bird?" Sandor growled roughly.
Sansa smiled up at him and shook her head, "No, this one was much better," she said and pushed him gently down to the fur rug and kissed him soundly.