Jun. 15th, 2013

ladytp: (Anne of Cleves)
Sansa

Lenore’s support was crucial for them during the weeks that followed. She was the last person to see the Lady of Winterfell in her chambers in the evening, and the first to wake her up in the morning. If more often than not she walked in to see Sansa in the arms of her sworn shield, nobody was the wiser about it.  Lenore was also true to her word and procured the moon tea she needed. As much as Sansa longed to carry Sandor’s babe, she knew that to be political madness. So she drank the bitter brew obediently, receiving her next monthly flowering with mixed feelings. Sandor never questioned the matter, accepting it like so many other things; knowing his place and the limits of what he could reach for.

Besides the matter of moon tea, Sansa was happier than she had ever been. All her early life she had been embraced by her family and their loving care. After the War of Five Kings saw them all dead or lost, she had thought she could never be as content again. Yet when she was with Sandor, she realised that what she had had so far had been but a pale imitation of true happiness.

Sandor fulfilled all her needs and was all she could have hoped for in a man. The trust and respect built between them over time were still there, as was her appreciation of him as an astute confidant and advisor. On top of that, as her lover he elicited in her new, all-consuming passions. The combination of it all overwhelmed Sansa and she felt swept away in a current of high emotions, carried in its swell.

Sandor seemed content as well. Sansa loved to tease him and make him forget his habitual seriousness, and she
succeeded in that more often than ever before. He responded to her entreaties with rasping, untroubled laughter that transformed him from a sombre warrior into a carefree man. Sometimes Sansa imagined him as he could have been without Gregor’s interference; a principled man growing up to follow his ideals. It pained her, and there were times when all she wanted to do was to cry for his lost childhood and his years as the Lannister dog. Then she looked at him and marvelled at how the patterns of fate, initially woven so differently for each of them, had finally brought them together.

----------

The hardest thing for Sansa was to avoid betraying their secret in public. She would have loved to defiantly declare her feelings to the world and be with Sandor openly. Instead, she had to hide her emotions by forcing herself into the same hard discipline she had learned in King’s Landing, masking her expressions when she was with him. Sandor’s years as a Lannister shield had given him ample practice in schooling his countenance, and so they persevered. In everyone’s eyes they were the perfect lady and her loyal sworn shield, despite the invisible undercurrents that threatened to break free unless they were careful.

Nonetheless, they couldn’t help a few sideway glances when they were sure nobody was looking, or the brush of a hand against a thigh under the cover of darkness. Such small incidents were enough to heat their blood so that when they eventually reached the safety of her rooms, they fell on each other eagerly, ripping off each other’s clothes with shaking, impatient hands.

As time went by, Sansa felt her hunger for Sandor only growing, no matter how often and how thoroughly they satisfied their appetites. She adored the way he touched her; patiently and reverently. Sandor was keen to learn what she enjoyed most and never got tired of her body, worshipping it with his touch and gaze. Yet sometimes, when she was overtaken by shameless desires and begged him to lay his hands on her harder, he took her brusquely and forcefully.

Sansa never had enough of him; she loved his strong arms and the way his muscles flexed when he used them, the wiry dark hair on his chest, the flat plane of his hard abdomen. And his manhood, which had so intimidated her when she first had laid her eyes on it… It fascinated her endlessly, especially the way it could grow from a flaccid state, resting harmlessly against his thigh, to a fully erect, throbbing pole just from the touch of her nimble fingers. Sansa’s initial coyness gradually gave way to confident wantonness as she discovered the pleasures of the flesh with her man.

For a long time Sandor refused to accept that Sansa found him beautiful, telling her that she was a fool and clearly didn’t know a thing about men if she thought that he was comely. Sansa persisted, telling him time and time again how much she loved every part of him. She cherished even his scars, as they were signs of his life experiences, which had made him what he was. To Sansa’s eyes he was perfect.

Although Sandor had a hard time in believing her, gradually he started to feel more comfortable in her presence, and Sansa loved to see the subtle changes taking place in him as his confidence increased. The first time he truly let his guard down and leaned back on the bed at Sansa’s insistence, closed his eyes and sighed deeply as Sansa’s hands and mouth travelled along his magnificent body, she felt as if she had achieved a significant victory.

----------

“Did you despise everyone in King’s Landing? And in Casterly Rock before that?” Sansa asked him one evening, as they rested in each other’s arms, spent and languidly enjoying the afterglow of their lovemaking.

Sandor frowned. “Why do you ask? What does it matter?”

“I only try to understand the man you were,” Sansa muttered. She had spent a long time trying to decipher the mystery of him; first back in King’s Landing, later on their way to the North. Finally she felt she was in a position to try to find answers to the many questions that had plagued her.

“I never felt contempt towards those who didn’t deserve it,” Sandor grumbled, then sighed, “So yes, I loathed the lot of them. Liars, players, frauds and pretenders, all as bad as each other.”

“Did you detest me too? If you did, I truly understand. I earned it. I was such a fool, just a silly girl who didn’t know a thing about real life. I was so naive and stupid.” Sansa’s voice rose, the frustration of years gone by hitting her anew.

Sandor turned onto his side, pushing Sansa from him in order to better see her. His gaze was serious and somewhat puzzled. He answered slowly, his words coming out haltingly, as if after careful consideration.

“I didn’t despise you, little bird. I felt sorry for you. I knew you were only a child drawn into their sphere, fluttering like a butterfly in their net.”

He pulled Sansa closer and wrapped his arms around her shoulders and waist. Sansa felt secure and sheltered in his embrace. When she had been young, she had dreamt of a knight or a prince who would protect and cherish her. In her dreams he had been young and handsome – like Joffrey. She smiled sadly to herself. The man next to her, the dark, brooding warrior with a hideous face and short temper was as far from her dreams as possible. Yet he was the only person who had made her feel safe and happy and complete.

Sansa knew that Sandor viewed himself as beneath her and undeserving of her affections. Curiously, she felt the same. She was bewildered by his strong feelings towards her; she was after all just a simple girl who had truly done nothing to warrant his care and admiration. Was it love? She was afraid to dwell on that, still unsure of whether what Sandor felt was only a mixture of lust and protectiveness. I will prove myself to him. I will be worthy of his love.

Sandor breathed into her ear. “I wanted to despise you. For me you were just another highborn’s get, and I wanted to scorn you like the other simpering girls at the court. I was also curious to see how you were going to manage in that treacherous sea full of bloody snakes and puffed-up flesh-eating beasts. As I saw it, there were only two options for you; either you got destroyed and sank, or learned to play the game and swam – like that Tyrell girl.”

Sandor brushed his lips across Sansa’s brow, tenderly.

“Yet you did neither. You just floated, letting the waves wash over you. They tried to drown you, break you apart, teach you to become one of them, but you didn’t budge. Then I knew you were different. Different to anyone else I had ever met.”

Sansa skimmed her lips over his throat, feeling the thrum of his heartbeat. A dog who has been defeated in a fight offers his throat to his conqueror, the gesture being the ultimate sign of submission. Dogs have honour, the victor leaving the vanquished foe alone, both accepting the outcome of the fight. She sensed that Sandor had submitted to her, even though she knew applying that to humans was ridiculous. The thought was sobering but also reassuring. I will yield myself to him in return.

“I was none of that. All I did was to try to survive,” she muttered against his chest.

“Hells. you may think so, but it was much more than that. Never put yourself down, girl. There are enough arrogant bastards in this world ready to do that for you. You know, that last night when I came to you…” Sandor halted before continuing gingerly, “…I wasn’t trying to save you. I wanted to be saved by you. I held on to you to avoid sinking into that fiery pit of hell.” His voice had changed and was full of anger.

“So I came to you and almost dragged you down into those flaming depths with me. How do you fancy that? Bloody knightly behaviour, wasn’t it? No songs made for such acts of valour.”

Sansa was taken aback by the rawness of his outburst. She squeezed Sandor’s arm reassuringly

“You came to me and offered to take me home. That was a worthy thing to do, wasn’t it?”

“Hmmphh!” Sandor grunted. For a while they were silent, each in their thoughts. Early in their journey Sansa had made it clear that she didn’t harbour any hard feelings towards him. They hadn’t dwelled on it though, letting bygones be bygones.

”For a long time I remembered that you kissed me then,” Sansa finally sighed.

Sandor startled. “What do you mean, kissed?”

Sansa was embarrassed to let him know how nonsensical she had been, but she wanted him to understand what she had taken with her from that night. “I truly thought that you took a kiss from me. I even compared other kisses I received with the one you stole.”

Sandor cursed. “Bloody hells, girl! Had I kissed you, the worse it might have gone for you! I was a fucking brute, all blood and gore and drink. I had vile thoughts in my head, and they didn’t end with just a kiss.”

“Maybe so, but you did none of that. Yes, you pulled your dagger on me and I was afraid of you then. Yet the memory of that faded. Your offer to take me home, and you leaving me your cloak…and the kiss…they stayed with me.” Sansa wanted to assure him that he didn’t need to punish himself anymore for what he had done. She had forgiven him.

“Maybe I remembered it wrong because I really thought that you were going to kiss me. I was sure you were going to,” she continued, not wanting to sound completely silly.

“And you didn’t scream or cry?” Sandor studied her in the semi-darkness that surrounded them. Only the light of a single candle flickered in the room, casting shadows on the walls.

“No… I must have known you wouldn’t harm me. Somehow I was sure of it, even though it probably didn’t make any sense at the time.”

“Crazy girl,” Sandor muttered, but Sansa heard his tone had changed and was softer, even relieved.

----------

They shared more of their pasts during the long hours they spent together, bit by bit, in whispers in the darkness. It took many nights to make Sandor open up to her, but Sansa was patient, letting him tell his stories at his own pace. That there was a need inside him to lay his life bare in front of her, she recognised early on. His every confession made her heart grow fonder as she started to unravel the complex man he was, and finally began to understand him better.

They also discussed their current situation and their new life in the North. Sansa teased him about becoming a Northerner in truth, and Sandor admitted feeling more at home there than ever in the South. He told Sansa about his grandmother, who the family tradition held to be of the blood of the first men. Sansa traced his sharp cheekbones and his hooked nose and conceded that to be more likely than not. The thought filled her with satisfaction she couldn’t explain. During her years away, she had finally learned to understand and appreciate her cold homeland and the strong, silent people it bred.

Sansa wanted to ask him about Jaime, but never found the right moment. He was often mentioned in their conversations, but in general terms and in relation to their past or recent experiences. The respect and appreciation Sandor felt for him came through clearly enough for Sansa to see that there was a strong bond between them. When she casually asked if he was aware of Jaime’s affections after Cersei, Sandor only grumbled how he doubted if Jaime would ever care for another woman again, and left it at that. 

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