May. 18th, 2013

ladytp: (Anne of Cleves)
Sansa

Sansa found Sandor by the pool as she had hoped. He was crouching on his haunches, head bowed, eyes closed and hands on his thighs. He was absolutely motionless, and but for the heave of his chest, he could have been taken for a statue. Sansa observed him cautiously from a distance, for a moment feeling a flicker of doubt about approaching him. Then she noticed that his knuckles were raw and covered with dried blood, as if he had hit them against a hard surface. The wolf inside her asserted itself and she pursed her lips and stepped forward.

A twig broke under her foot and Sandor lifted his face towards her. The expression on it caught her; it was not angry as she had expected, but tortured, anguish sketched into each line.

Neither of them said a word. Sansa took another step, then another, and all the while Sandor followed her with his gaze. She stopped in front of him and looked at his upturned face, his eyes still not having left hers.

“Only you,” was all she said. She extended her hand to his good cheek and felt the bristles of his beard against it. Then something in him crumbled right in front of her; the pain in his eyes was replaced by submission, his shoulders sagged and he sighed deeply from the very core of him. Then she knew she had won.

“Little bird, I…” Sansa hushed him before he continued, pressing a finger to his lips.

“Sssshhhh,” she whispered and pulled him towards her. Sandor allowed it, pressing his head against Sansa’s chest and lifting his hands to rest on her hips. He breathed heavily against her body and she twined her fingers in his hair, humming softly. There was no need for words.

They stood like that for a long time, Sandor’s arms encircling her body, Sansa’s hands moving in his hair, brushing, touching, soothing. Eventually Sansa pulled away, but only to kneel down opposite him. Once again she felt herself sinking into those grave grey eyes.

“Only you,” she repeated. “If you don’t want me, I accept it, but I have to hear you say so. And first you must tell me that you believe me.”

“Why me?” Sandor’s shoulders were slouched, rare uncertainty enveloping him.

Sansa traced her hand along the scarred side of his face. Her fingertips remembered the texture from before, but she took her time and examined him in the fading light.

“Do you trust me, Sandor? Do you truly trust me, know that I will tell you the truth?”

He nodded.

“All I can say is that I know my heart. You have been there for a long time now, although it took me a while to realise it. What you have to do now is to examine your own and tell me what you see. Do remember, it is not in you to lie.”

Sansa watched in fascination the string of emotions showing on Sandor’s face in the wake of her words; anguish, surrender, then serenity and acceptance. Finally he spoke, his voice hardly more than a coarse whisper.

“Hells, I have no right to anything it holds. Still, you are correct. I can’t lie, not to you.” Sandor brushed his fingers against Sansa’s cheek, leaving a trail of crumbling flakes of blood in the wake of his touch.

Sansa saw him struggle to continue and felt a pang in her heart. Words, once said, could be more powerful than deeds, and she knew him well enough to realise how difficult it was for him to reveal his vulnerability. She knew now what she needed to, and that was enough – for the present.

“So you will accept what I offer?” The anxiety she had felt earlier was gone. She felt calm.

“I will, little bird. Why, I can’t fathom for all the buggering seven hells. But if you truly want a scarred dog like me, I am yours,” Sandor sighed. He lowered his hand and his arms hung awkwardly at his sides. Even in his crouched position he was huge and Sansa felt dwarfed next to him.

She allowed a small smile to form on her lips; not the victorious grin of a winner, but a minute expression of happiness to show him how pleased she was by his words. Sandor’s uneasiness seemed to diminish at that and he looked at her expectantly.

Sansa leaned closer, offering her lips to him and he took them. The kiss was soft and hesitant at first, both of them uncertain of that new uncharted territory. Sansa’s experiences of kissing were negligible, but feeling Sandor’s mouth against hers was…just right. Nonetheless, as Sansa opened her mouth to taste him fully, its tone changed.

The shyness was gone, replaced by a ferocity she had not experienced before. Sandor’s tongue darted into her mouth, demanding and exploring, and she returned his forays with fervour she didn’t know she possessed.

Sandor grasped her harder and pulled her into him so that her knees lifted from the ground and she was flush against his body. Sansa was crushed under the harshness of his grip, his fingers pressing painfully against her ribs as he curled his right arm around her back. His left hand travelled lower, grabbing her buttocks and holding her even harder against him. She was aware of the tautness of his muscles, the musky smell of his sweat and the scratch of his beard against her chin.

At that moment Sansa was reminded of how strong he was and she so utterly powerless. She had just blatantly propositioned him; was he now going to take what was offered?

Sansa had witnessed Sandor in the heat of a fight, seen him unleash the violence and savagery he was capable of. Had love been just another battlefield for him before, rough tumblings to quench his lust, seeking nothing more than his own release? Would he recognise the difference between such encounters and what was ahead them now? Would he realise how fragile she was compared to the women he had had?

For a second – only for a second – Sansa felt fear.

Then she remembered that the man grasping her so tightly was him; her protector, the harsh warrior who was her unlikely source of comfort. The man who had always sought to help her, never asking anything in return. The man who had touched her tenderly and by doing so had lit a fire in her that could not be slaked.

Although reassured, Sansa couldn’t prevent a small whimper from escaping her lips. Sandor stopped immediately and opened his eyes, blinking as if recovering from a deep sleep. His hold on her softened and with it, Sansa became aware of his stiff manhood against her belly. A jolt of excitement radiated through her body and she had to resist an urge to lie on the ground with him then and there… but somewhere at the back of her mind the remaining shreds of common sense nagged at her. Not here, not now. Someone might see us.

Sansa pushed him away, gently. Although initially Sandor resisted her attempts to disentangle herself from his arms, finally he understood what she meant and let her go.

She pulled herself to her feet, hating it as she did it.

“Sandor, now is not a good time. Someone could come. Please.”

“Aye, I am sorry. I should have thought of that myself, before….”

Having recovered her bearings, Sansa looked at him and smiled.

“Come to my rooms tonight. After dinner. I’ll be waiting for you.” Sandor’s breath hitched and he regarded her hungrily, raising her hand to his lips.

Sansa closed her eyes for a moment to feel the heat of his scarred mouth on her wrist. Soon.

“I will leave the Godswood first, it is better if you follow after a while.”

“I will take a different route, returning via the Hunter’s Gate. Better we are not seen together now.” Sandor rose and loomed over her once again.

They collected themselves quietly, rearranging the clothes that had been rumpled by their embrace. Sansa glanced at Sandor as he turned his back to her and adjusted his breeches. She blushed and busied herself with her own gown, rubbing at the green tint the moss had left on it.

Soon she was ready to go. She leaned towards Sandor once again and touched his elbow.

“Tonight.” She wanted to add an endearment, but judged it better not to overwhelm him. Sandor looked back at her and nodded solemnly.

“Tonight, little bird.”

Her feet danced all the way to her rooms.

----------

Sansa could have sworn that time had stopped and was standing still. The dinner was an uninterrupted agony, food being carried from the kitchens at a snail’s pace, people not appearing to have even touched their plates by the time Sansa was almost finished with her meal. All she could do was to fidget in her seat, waiting for the dinner to be over.

She was nodding and adding a polite little ‘hmm’ and ‘aha’ to the comments made by her neighbour, the deputy leader of the Northern guard. He was a member of House Dustin, who had distinguished himself in training and been raised to his position by Sandor. Sansa had revived her father’s old tradition of seating members of her household at the high table on a rotation, and usually enjoyed interacting with different people. Yet tonight the poor young man was left completely stranded, and she couldn’t even feel sorry for him.

She caught Sandor’s eye every now and then from across the room. He was sitting at one of the lower tables with other soldiers of the guard. Sansa was momentarily grateful for that, being unsure if she would survive him being seated close to her. Even from that distance she felt his gaze burning, slowly melting her into a puddle.

The anticipation pooled in her belly and she wondered how she could endure the waiting any longer. Still, despite her frustrations she felt more alive than she could remember being for a long, long time. It was as if the colours were been brighter, the air fresher, the people around her happier. The only thing that was not improved by her condition was the food. It was tasteless in her mouth and she pushed it around the plate with her fork, forcing herself to eat as much as she could. I will need my strength tonight. Her cheeks reddened and a quick darting glance in Sandor’s direction showed her that he was looking at her. Again.

Finally the meal was over. Sansa blamed a headache and retired to her rooms, assuring Lenore that all she needed was a good lie-down.

She changed into her green nightshift, hoping it would not distract Sandor by reminding him of the time he had held on to it. One day she would ask him about it – but not now. She slipped on a light morning dress as well, laced all the way at the front. She often wore it over her nightshift when she relaxed in her own solar. She felt vulnerable in that intimate clothing, without the security of a lady’s armour such as a courtly dress or the practicality of rough-spun clothing.

Sansa had asked for a flagon of wine and dried fruit to be brought to her rooms, and had smuggled an extra goblet from the hall. She set it next to the flagon and looked at the composition; a flagon and two goblets. She was doing this for real; she was about to entertain a man in her chambers. The thought made her giddy.

After what seemed like another eternity, she heard a light tap on the door. Sandor was standing behind it, solemn and serious. As she smiled at him and moved aside to allow him in, he stared at her as if he was seeing her for the first time. He didn’t move for a moment and only looked at her, almost as if he were asking if she was sure, and Sansa had to summon him again before he finally entered. The point of no return. Whatever happened after tonight, they couldn’t go back to what had been.

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