Mar. 28th, 2013

ladytp: (Anne)
Sansa

Sansa didn’t join the household at the Great Hall that evening, asking her maid to bring her meal to her rooms instead. She simply couldn’t face Sandor, having seen him as she had, during his private moment. Instead she paced around her room, thinking furiously, still feeling heat in her belly.

Sandor was a man and had a man’s needs – of course she was not so naïve as to think otherwise. Yet why had he chosen that time, and done it while holding onto something belonging to her? He could have a woman if he wished to, Sansa knew. She had heard the women of Winterfell conferring about men and giggling when they thought she could not hear them. Jaime was the main topic of such conversations, but every now and then a bold voice announced an intention to explore if the sworn shield of their lady was as impressive in all respects as his appearance suggested. Sansa felt herself torn in those situations, part of her wanting Sandor to find some enjoyment in his new life, another part hating the very notion.

Sansa recalled an occasion when an attractive dark-haired girl from beyond the Wall had approached Sandor during one of their walks. She had asked him to come to her when he was free, leaving no doubts about what activities she had in her mind. The girl had been hardly older than Sansa and had unflinchingly focussed her beautiful brown eyes on Sandor. Sansa had expected Sandor to flinch, or at least withdraw from the hand the girl had laid on his arm, but he had calmly stared back at her and told her to scurry away.

When Sansa closed her eyes she could see his manhood, big and proud, like everything about him. She had seen but a few men naked before and would have thought such a sight to be distasteful to her eyes, but it had been…beautiful.

She also realised that it had been the first time she and Sandor had quarrelled. Debated, yes, disagreed, for sure. Nonetheless, the words she had thrown at him had been the harshest she had ever uttered. To make matters worse, already half-a day had passed and she had not sought him out to settle the matter as she should have. What must Sandor be thinking?

That night Sansa didn’t have to unwrap her precious memory before it pushed itself to the forefront of her mind. The sight of what she had witnessed merged with her recollections of those long fingers wrapping themselves around her waist, her thighs, against her breasts…

----------

The next day Sansa asked her maid to tell Sandor she wished to see him in her rooms. Lenore was the widow of Winterfell’s old kennelmaster and had lost her husband some years earlier. She was a cheerful woman still in her prime, and Sansa had taken an immediate liking to her. Soon she had become Sansa’s maid, and had proved her capabilities and trustworthiness on many occasions.

Sandor arrived shortly, his face grim and his expression guarded. He was wearing his best armour and Sansa noticed he had trimmed his beard. As Sansa gestured for him to sit down, he refused, preferring to stand in front of her, holding onto the sword on his belt. Sansa noticed the way his fingers had curled around the hilt and could not prevent a crimson blush from spreading on her cheeks at the sight.

Before Sansa could say anything, he retrieved a small parcel from his sleeve and handed it to her.

“Your belongings, my lady. You forgot them in your hurry yesterday, and I thought it better not to leave them in the Godswood.”

Sansa took the package and without needing to untie the piece of cloth in which it was wrapped, she knew what it contained. Her blush deepened.

Laying the package on the table, she nervously addressed him. “Thank you, this was very thoughtful of you.”

She drew a deep breath and continued, “Sandor, what I did and said to you yesterday was wrong, and I am truly sorry for it.”

Sandor stared straight ahead, saying nothing. Sansa saw an echo of the Hound in his visage, his eyes filled with sullenness which had not been there for a long time. She realised she had hurt him beyond measure and recoiled.

“I shouldn’t have been so angry, especially as you were in the right. I was not behaving as a lady should.” Still Sandor didn’t respond and for a moment Sansa had a sensation similar to that when she had found a crippled hedgehog in the Godswood. She had been a child and had wanted to heal it, and had taken it into her room and placed it in a little wooden box. It had sat there, looking at her with its dark beady eyes, but then she had run away to do something else and had forgotten the small animal.

When she had returned, it had been cold and lifeless. She had cried in her mother’s arms and not even Lady Catelyn’s comforting words had assured her it had not been her fault and hers alone. She had taken the little hedgehog in and she had let it die.

She knew how stupid she was; he was a strong man, and he would not die because of her. Then she realised that she didn’t agonise only for his sake but for her own as well. It was not in her nature to hurt someone who had been good to her, and doing so grieved her.

“What I said to you last…was especially wrong. I spoke in anger, thoughtless and cruel words. You know that I didn’t mean any of it, don’t you?” She raised her eyes to his and could see something wavering in them. A small flicker, an almost invisible reaction.

“You have every right to talk to me as you wish, my lady.” Sandor’s voice was harsh. “If you want to release me from my service to you, you have that right as well.”

Sansa winced again. He always addressed her ‘my lady’ in front of others, but when they were alone he called her ‘Sansa’, or if he was in a good mood, ‘little bird’. The fact that he used the formal address when they were alone was yet another indication of his displeasure.

“No Sandor, that is not what I want at all!” Sansa stood up, wringing her hands and approaching him. Just before she reached him she remembered his sensitivity to all things physical, so she stopped and forced him to look at her by her sheer presence.

“I was angry because for a moment I felt so happy and free and as I was before…and then you reminded me that I will never be the same carefree girl I used to be. It was my disappointment that made me say those horrible things to you.” Sansa couldn’t help herself and reached for his hand, ignoring his stony demeanour.

“You must know that I would never consider you so. And I would never wish to be escorted by another, not by any of those stupid sers or knights!”

Sandor shifted, relaxing his stance somewhat. His eyes finally focussed on Sansa’s and she could see hurt behind them.

“It was not my place to reprimand you; it was not proper. For once you took a moment away from your many duties and worries and I didn’t even let you have that. I am sorry, little bird.” He allowed Sansa to take his hand and guide him to sit down.

“Oh, you have nothing to apologise for! Please rest assured that I know my duties as a lady. If I ever stray from them in your presence, it is simply because I know I can trust you. You are the only one with whom I can rightly be myself and not just the Lady of Winterfell.” Sansa’s relief was palpable.

“No harm done. We both might have overreacted. ” Sandor was still stiff but Sansa sensed some easing of his demeanour.

“All this silliness behind us, will you join me tomorrow during my visit to Winter Town? I will have to stay in today with so much work to do, but on the morrow we will venture out again, won’t we?” Sansa smiled at him radiantly.

Sandor nodded and got up, ready to take his leave. Sansa didn’t have a reason to ask him to stay longer so she only watched as he went to the door and opened it. Just as he was about to step outside a wild notion entered her head.

“Sandor, please hold!” He stopped mid-stride and turned to look at her enquiringly. Sansa rushed into her bedchamber, grasped her silken nightshift from the bed and folded it quickly, tying it into a neat bundle with its own ribbons. The shift was one of the few truly luxurious things she owned, a gift from the ladies of Greywater Watch. It was a deep moss-green colour and almost translucent. She liked the way it felt on her skin, and how it reminded her of happier times when her mother had first given her the beautiful clothes a young woman in her position was expected to wear.

She raced back to the solar and handed the package to Sandor. He looked at it curiously, then at Sansa.

“I know what I am asking is not what is expected of a sworn shield, and the task is very much beneath you – but Lenore forgot to take this with her when she took items for wash. If…if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I wonder if you could take it and hand it to any of the maids or drop it to the laundry on your way to the training yard.”  Sansa didn’t look at him, afraid that he would see dishonesty in her eyes.

“There is no hurry with it, they will do the washing at the end of the week anyway, so any time or any way is fine. Lenore has gone to see her brother in Winter Town and I didn’t want to leave this out…” Sansa’s voice trailed as she started to lose her courage. Sandor had said he could smell a lie – would he know how feeble her story was?

Sandor gaped at her incredulously but reached to take the bundle. It looked absurdly small and delicate in his calloused hand, but he took it and held it for a moment before tucking it inside his sleeve.

“Aye, I can do that. No errand is too big or too small for a sworn shield, I am told.” He turned to go and strode determinedly into the corridor. Sansa stared at the door long after he had gone, wondering what had possessed her to ask for such a foolish favour.

----------

Over the next few days Sansa found herself frequently in the laundry. It was situated next to the baths, sharing its hot water, and on her way to the kitchens or to the Godswood her steps irreversibly diverged towards the large room full of steaming vats. Her nightshift was not there on the first evening, or the next. Only on the third day did she see it in a pile of her personal belongings, wrapped as before. She nonetheless quickly identified the wrapping to be different, not tied as she had done it.

The laundress, a big woman with a sweaty face, saw her examining it. “Your big brute brought it in not long ago, my lady. Didn’t know you had a new chambermaid,” she chuckled good-naturedly.

“Oh no, I asked just this morning if he could kindly bring it here when going to the training yard. Had I known that I was called to come the same way myself, I wouldn’t have needed to bother him.” Sansa flushed, hoping the heat surrounding them would explain it in case the woman noticed.

“Will do that batch of your clothing later today. Will make sure you get it all back clean and dry by tomorrow, my lady.”

Sansa stammered her thanks and rushed out of the room. He kept it for two days…and nights! Why had he done so? Had he found his release again holding her shift? Did he think of her that way? If so, why was he always so reserved with her, withdrawing from her innocent touches?

For the rest of the day Sansa tried to reconcile that new information about her sworn shield with what she already knew of him. The bond that had started to form first in King’s Landing, and deepened on their journey to the North, was strong and true, that much she was sure of. Yet she had concluded that to be a connection between a man craving someone to pledge his loyalty to, and the liege lady he had raised onto a pedestal high above him. Someone to serve and respect, but also someone whose life he could never truly be part of. Over time Sansa had accepted that despite his loyalty there were limits to what he would share with her.

Still she had learned more about him along the way. The terrifying warrior, who had scared her so much when she had first met him, had given way to a man with whom she felt a deep camaraderie. A man who had seen his dreams shattered as a young boy and had grown up defending himself the only way he could, with hate and anger. She had hoped to become his friend and return the kindness she had received from him. Maybe she had sometimes yearned for something more…

Recognising the impossibility of any such thoughts, she had pushed them out of her mind without true consideration. But what she had witnessed confused her and made her doubt all she had supposed before. Did Sandor think of her as something more than just his lady?

Even as she deliberated on that, Sansa knew he would never act on any such feelings, should he have them. Despite Sandor’s declared contempt of knightly values, he possessed an inner honour that was in many aspects greater than what was expected of knights. He would not insult the dignity of his lady or try to step above the position he had accepted for himself.

Sansa hadn’t exactly avoided Sandor the last few days. They had gone to Winter Town together, behaving as if nothing had happened. If Sansa had observed his behaviour more attentively than usual, she had been careful about not being too obvious. She had deliberately brushed against him once, pretending to lose her balance and allowing him to catch her. The touch of his hand charged through her as if it had been live fire, yet the burn was such a sweet sensation. Sandor’s grip had been brief and as soon as she had found her feet again, he had withdrawn and made sure there was distance between them once again. After the trip they had conversed a few times, over meals in the Great Hall or in a meeting with Sansa’s council, but only the usual discussions about matters of the keep, in the company of others.

Days and nights blurred into one another as Sansa experienced new emotions. She felt like a woman possessed and could think of nothing but Sandor. He loomed large in her mind whether he was present or not. Whenever she closed her eyes she was flooded with visions of him touching himself, with memories of his touch on her body and with sensuous, disturbing images of his strong body and large hands. She woke up from her dreams hot and gasping, stirring for hours afterwards without being able to go back to sleep.

Sansa had never in her life experienced anything remotely like the fervour pulsing through her veins, and she simply didn’t know what to do.

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