Apr. 13th, 2013

ladytp: (Anne of Cleves)
Sandor

Sandor’s leg hurt again. It didn’t bother him often, but every now and then after hard exertion the old wound reminded him of its existence.

Sometimes he felt it was one of the few things that still tied him to his previous reality. That and his face, but that had been his burden for most of his life. Besides, at least the pain was gone. The numbness of the scarred side, lack of his earlobe, the rigidity of his mouth – and how his appearance had shut him out of the company of his fellow men - he had thoroughly gotten used to. Not that he would have had much choice in the matter.

Yet much had changed since he had lain dying on the banks of the Trident. The Hound was no more, cast aside at the Quiet Isle…although not entirely. He could still bring it back if needed. He had done it when fighting the Painted Dog, awakening his battle-rage. The familiar fury and the inability to feel cuts and blows in the heat of the battle had returned to him like long-lost friends; his only friends in the past. And he hadn’t been sorry for that. Even months after the combat he growled when he thought of the mongrel who had dared to try claiming the little bird. He still relished with grim satisfaction the sight of his guts hanging out, felt the glee over a fallen enemy.

Likewise, when waiting for the Vale men at the bridge, the customary clarity of mind and cold determination of a soldier preparing for battle had kept him company. What he had lost was the fatalistic acceptance of his own death; that day, the following day, any day. The Hound of old had possessed it. The Hound had had nothing and no-one worth living for, and had accepted early on that a blade would take his life eventually. One day was not so different from another, so he hadn’t cared. He had fought like a man who had nothing to lose - because he hadn’t.

Until lately.

For the first time in his life he had something to live for, even people to care for. The little bird and the Kingslayer. Bugger me with a hot poker – how did that happen?

Sandor sat by the table in his room, twirling a green ribbon into loops and knots in his big hands. He felt its unfamiliar softness against his hardened fingertips, saw the way the candlelight was reflected in the sheen of its fabric. It was late and he should be in bed, resting his sore leg and getting ready for the next day’s duties. Yet there he sat, frowning, as he stared at the frilly strip of cloth.

The little bird.

She had always been different. He had known that from the moment she had laid her small hand on his shoulder after the Tourney of the Hand. The gesture had startled him, as he had expected her to flinch in fear or start crying – anything but to reach towards him like that. Oh yes, she had drawn away from him later, staring at him with fright in those big blue eyes. Yet she had never ended up as he had expected her to; she had not broken under the Lannisters, nor had she lost her compassion.

On the night of the green fire she had touched him again. He had been blindingly drunk, shattered on the inside by the burning inferno, and had found his way to her room without a plan or solid intentions. When he had pressed her supple body against the bed, foul thoughts had flashed through his mind of taking her, forcing himself on her. Whether he would have truly gone through with it, he doubted. Rape had never been his weapon, although many assumed differently.

When she had sung to him and cupped his face, it had broken him, finishing what the wildfire had started. Yet the memory of it had stayed with him. It had urged him to follow her trail after hearing that Sansa was alive and on her way to the North with the Kingslayer.

The notion of her with a Lannister had filled him with fury. He had ridden as if the seven devils had been on his trail, cursing all the way. Had the son-of-a-bitch touched even a single hair on Sansa’s head, he would strangle him with his own guts, after cutting his other hand off, the Hound in him had fumed. Yet to his surprise he had found the man much changed. Gone was the cocky warrior, the indestructible son of Lord Tywin, who had believed his shit didn’t stink like that of lesser men. He had been replaced with a man who had learned humility, and who had cast off the lions just as the Hound had done. Sandor snorted. Something we have in common!

Jaime had always been the best of a bad lot anyway. Sandor had sometimes even felt sorry for him, being so utterly dominated by his twin, the cruel bitch. He had observed Cersei in Casterly Rock and later in King’s Landing, and had seen how she had practiced the art of manipulation upon gullible young lords. She had been like an alley cat toying with field mice, honing her skills in seduction, evoking blind obedience in those conquered by her practiced charms. She hadn’t gone all the way with her victims then, he knew. The time for that had arrived later, when she had started to play the bloodiest game of all: the game of thrones.

Sandor winced. He had been one of those poor sods once, for a brief moment falling under Cersei’s spell. A stupid fool, believing she would actually look past his horrid appearance. Well, he had soon felt the sharp sting of humiliation when she had laughed in his face. To have been tied to a cunt like that…no wonder Jaime had been thoroughly fucked, in more ways than one.

He got up and went to the coffer at the foot of his bed. He opened it and found a small crudely decorated box and tucked the ribbon inside it. He closed both the box and the coffer resolutely and went to his bed, removing his tunic in one effortless move as he walked. He flexed his powerful arms and shoulders before leaning down and pushing his breeches down, stepping out of them. He stroked his aching thigh for a moment in order to chase away the pangs of pain, before he lowered himself onto his mattress, cursing silently.

He knew he would have difficulties in falling asleep. Not only because of the leg, but also because of the green ribbon and what it represented. What the seven hells had Sansa been thinking, asking him to deliver her laundry? It was almost as if she had wanted to pass him something of hers, just as she done with her stockings. But that was impossible, of course. She knew her faithful dog would do her bidding, so it was easy enough for her to leave him to collect her belongings and run her errands. Had she known how he had fucked himself whilst holding her stockings and breathed in her scent like the dog he had been - and still was, when the mood took him - she would have been horrified and disgusted.

Aye, he had done that odd task, but couldn’t have resisted keeping the shift for a few days – and nights. He had held it in the darkness, pretending it was her. He had stroked himself hard, swept away by images of his little bird squirming under him, singing him the sweetest song… He had released growling, angry at himself for such thoughts. They were futile, and he was a damned fool letting his mind wander in such dangerous directions.

He had also stolen one of its many ribbons, hoping its loss wouldn’t be noticed. He had felt like an ass for doing it, but had done it just the same.

Sandor scowled, thinking about the times during their travels when she had pressed her pert little behind against his groin, oblivious to the effect it had on him. Or when they had ridden together on Stranger, she leaning against him. He had felt tendrils of her hair tickling his nose, just as the sensation of her round bottom had tickled his cock. And that night in Greywater Watch… Sandor had been woken by the sensation of her soft curves against him, only a flimsy shift separating her from his semi-naked body. Gods, how hard it had been. Gods, how hard he had been. Sometimes he still dreamt of it, although as of late, he had started to indulge another fantasy. In that she was standing with her back against him, flush against his body, and his hands were stroking her; her breasts, hips and thighs, and she was so soft and inviting and perfect under his hands…

Sandor hated himself for allowing his mind to dwell on those troubling fantasies, even hated Sansa a little for offering him opportunities. That’s why he had snapped at her in the Godswood. The glimpse of her wantonly lifted skirts and the velvety skin of her thighs had been too much for him. Bloody hells, when would the little bird learn that he was not a fucking septon! If he was to be led along by his cock, wouldn’t he need some kind of reward for it?

Even as Sandor fumed over his frustrations, he knew that he couldn’t really be angry at her. Yet he had to let Sansa know that things had changed, and that there needed to be some distance between them. Although he was relieved that he could continue escorting her, there had to be limits. He wasn’t her maid, and bloody hells, he didn’t want to witness her being “rightly herself” if it meant she was brazenly flaunting herself at him! Even if it meant quenching the fragile feeling of intimacy that had grown between them ever since their paths had crossed again. Sometimes on the road he had thought…Fuck, what I might have thought doesn’t matter! That was then and things are different now.

As he tossed on his mattress, unable to sleep, tense as a bowstring, his determination hardened. Aye, he would make sure that Sansa got the message and heeded it. Mayhap he would start addressing her as ‘Lady Sansa’ and let go of the pet name that had started as a slight but ended up almost as an… endearment. Then he would be able to push any inappropriate thoughts of his liege lady somewhere in the far, far back of his mind, never to visit them again.

Sandor knew his little bird would always remain an unattainable ideal for him; a paragon of beauty and kindness, but with more common sense and wisdom than any of the buggering nobles he had served. That a woman like her could exist and he could serve her was enough for him, as anything else was utterly impossible.

For a moment he wondered if the little bird was starting to sharpen her talons as Cersei had done. He had snorted at all the young lordlings falling over themselves in their attempts to please Sansa, but he had also seen how she had responded to them with courtesy and something akin to fumbling attempts at flirtation.

Sandor remembered how Cersei had started her seduction with a smile that seemed to have been directed only at him, a hand that had lingered a moment too long on his arm… When he had finally gathered his courage and uttered his words to her, entirely unfamiliar and fragile as they had risen from the depths of his tormented soul, Cersei had looked at him with a glint of triumph in her beautiful emerald eyes and laughed at him. Laughed - and crushed the ugly young man who had dared to dream more surely than if she had beaten him. The humiliation still made him bristle, after all these years. That had been but one of the many incidences that had been blocks and mortar for the wall he had eventually built around himself. A barricade which had stood strong and impermeable until…the hand of a lithe girl had landed on his shoulder.

Hence Sandor refused to believe that Sansa could follow in Cersei’s footsteps. She was too good, too lacking in malice even after all she had gone through. She wanted to make all her bannermen loyal to her cause, and part of her strategy was to treat them courteously. Her behaviour was driven only by political expediency. Or was that all there was?

Suddenly he remembered how Sansa had leaned close to one of her suitors just the other day, smiled at him and touched his arm lightly. The sight had made Sandor want to crush the young fool’s skull and break that offending arm. If not for a game, had Sansa realised that she was a grown woman now, physically as well as mentally?  She was not a maiden, and although it had not been her choice, it might have evoked things in her that young maidens were usually blissfully unaware of. The concept made Sandor uncomfortable and he brooded on it until late into the night.

----------

The next day he escorted Sansa to Winter Town on her errands. When she almost fell so that Sandor had to grab her to prevent it, he again felt the same disturbing sensations her touch always brought up in him. Seven hells!

That night Sandor was determined to force the trail of his thoughts onto safer grounds. Before retiring to his room he randomly grabbed a book from Winterfell’s small collection, with an aim to use that for distraction. Once in his room, he threw himself into the chair and glanced at the book; it was one on swordsmanship that Jaime had purchased from a travelling merchant.

The Kingslayer.

Aye, the Kingslayer had indeed changed. To learn about his new… inclinations… had been a small surprise, but nothing he couldn’t handle. Sandor knew that to be much more common than openly admitted, especially amongst soldiers. Men buggering each other had never concerned him as long as they kept it to themselves. What had dumbfounded him had been realising that Jaime’s attentions were directed at him. Fucking hells! He had never been the focus of anyone’s interest, and noticing it had been as unusual as it had been unexpected.

Initially he hadn’t been sure what to think of it, whether to hit him or curse him. Yet Jaime had not acted on it, never tried anything. And gradually, as the bonds between the three of them had started to grow, to his amazement Sandor had realised that he didn’t mind. Not that he had any plans to reciprocate - but the feeling of being wanted had been so extraordinary that he had allowed himself to savour that for just a while longer…

Even when out of impulse he had let Jaime into his bed in Greywater Watch, nothing had happened, as he knew it wouldn’t. No, Jaime had his own kind of honour and wouldn’t do anything without a clear invitation.

What had also surprised Sandor was how much he had started to like the sodding Kingslayer. After letting go of his arrogance and learning some humility, Jaime’s self-depreciating wit and his way of thinking appealed to him more than he would have imagined. Besides, they had a lot in common, much more than just the act of leaving the Lannisters.

Tribulations on the road and challenges in Winterfell had only deepened their connection. How it had evolved into the physical, he wasn’t quite sure. He certainly hadn’t planned it that way. Yet what had started as a small concession on his part to someone who along with Sansa had become part of his ‘pack’, as Sansa called them, had developed into something else altogether.

When Sandor closed his eyes, he could almost feel Jaime’s touch on his skin. Its warmth and the way his fingers slid along his body were different to anything he had ever experienced. Whores in King’s Landing hadn’t cared about such things, only wanting their customers in and out as soon as possible, both literally and figuratively. Even his regulars, who had gotten used to his appearance and didn’t recoil from him, were practical women who knew what was essential for their business and what was not. Touching was not, except for a few fumbling strokes of his cock to get him ready – not that he had needed it often.

After feeling obliged to massage Jaime in return, he had been taken aback by how much he had enjoyed it. Jaime’s skin had been soft, only crisscrossed here and there by the pale white webbing of scars, and his body had responded unexpectedly to Sandor’s ministrations. Goosebumps on his arms and neck, powerful muscles twitching – all that because of his touch! It had been a new and strange thing for Sandor, who had always considered his hands to be weapons rather than instruments of…pleasure. He wondered idly why he hadn’t tried to explore human touch before, if it felt so bloody good. Surely whores would have agreed to that for sufficient coin, as they were known to comply with much more unusual requests if the client had enough gold?

Had he ever been roused? In complete honesty, there had been times when he had reacted. It had been nothing compared to how the little bird stirred him, just the thought of her charms making him uncomfortably stiff. Yet whatever had caused it when Jaime had stroked his shoulders and sides - whether his semi-nakedness, the proximity of another human being or something else altogether - he didn’t care to analyse. He hadn’t done anything about it, of course, but hadn’t felt uneasy either. The whole thing between him and the lion had just felt natural, even comfortable. Hells, it was not like there would have been many times in his life he could have said that, so he had let it slide. Just another in the string of events shaping his new life in the North.

Sandor had acted on his stirrings later though, finding and fucking the wildling girl who had approached him once. It had been his first time with a woman since his journey with the little wolf-bitch. He had had a wench in the village near the Eyrie, a tavern lass earning extra coin by selling herself. There had been no women in the Quiet Isle, but he hadn’t minded much. He had gotten used to living without, never seeing them as more than a passable distraction and a way to fulfil his body’s needs.

Fucking the wildling hadn’t been unpleasant; he had found his release and it had been different to taking himself in hand. Yet it hadn’t offered him the sensations he had expected, not even when he had slid his large hands across the girl’s waist and breasts in the way he had learned. He had stroked her skin and examined its softness, and the way the curve of her hip had felt under his touch. It had been passably nice, and yet…something had been missing. He had shrugged his shoulders, vaguely puzzled by the difference between what he had expected – and received.

The book forgotten, Sandor made his way to a clothes rack at the back of the room. From it hung several tunics; some of them his, some belonging to Jaime. Tentatively he lifted the sleeve of one of them and sniffed it cautiously. Despite it having been several weeks since Jaime had worn it, the clothing still smelled of him. He cursed quietly. Bloody buggering hells! The lion had slowly but surely crawled under his skin, there was no denying it.

He didn’t want to think about the kiss, but it came to him unbidden. He had agreed to it in order to shock Jaime, secretly amused to see him completely off balance for once. And yet… again he had experienced something unexpected, new and utterly unfamiliar.  Even more so, he had found out that he…hadn’t minded. The kiss, as faltering as it had been, had left an imprint on his lips and his mind that he couldn’t shake off no matter how hard he tried.

Sandor suspected he couldn’t give the lion what he wanted, but remembering that it was a real possibility that Jaime would never come back made his heart churn nonetheless. The Dragons could decide to chop his handsome head off his shoulders, abandon him in the black cells - or even send him to Casterly Rock as its new lord. The buggering Targaryens, one crazier than the other – who can predict what they will do?

Suddenly the thought of never seeing the sardonic rise of Jaime’s eyebrow again or hear his open laugh once more made cold shivers travel down Sandor’s spine.

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