Jun. 22nd, 2013

ladytp: (Anne of Cleves)
Sandor

Sandor’s world had been turned so completely on its head that sometimes he thought he didn’t know which way was up and which way was down. Among the many things that had changed, his life now had a new order. In King’s Landing his existence had been all about his days on duty, his evenings being an unbearable time when his nightmares and the numbness brought about by wine had been his only company. Even in Winterfell the daylight hours had been when he had felt most alive, attending to his new tasks, bantering with Jaime and watching over his lady. Now the situation was quite the opposite. He went about his days in a haze, his whole being focussed on what happened after the keep had retired for the night. When he was with his little bird.

He had given up trying to understand what was going on, as none of it made any buggering sense. Instead he strived to take the good in his life as he had endured the bad, with stoic acceptance. Except it was bloody hard to act indifferent, when all he wanted to do was to grin and smirk and roar his joy from the rooftops.

Like so many times since he had united with Sansa and Jaime, he couldn’t have described what he was feeling. The utter sensation of satisfaction assaulting him when he woke, staying with him all throughout the day, was as novel as it was pleasing. All Sandor knew was that the darkness of his past existence was retreating, and that he actually looked forward to his days and nights. He also found new contentment every day in small things he had never even noticed before. A belly full of good food, a group of trainees who for once did as they were told, the softness of his bed when he laid his tired body down.

And Sansa.

Sandor never tired of looking at her, touching her, fucking her. He also discovered - to his own surprise - how entirely fulfilling it was just to talk with her. How difficult it had been at first to share his dark secrets with her, taking all his iron will to force the words out of his mouth, only because she had asked! That she had listened to him as if she cared, didn’t judge his deeds or thoughts, and in turn told him things she hadn’t revealed to anyone else, mystified him.

They settled into a routine, where after the activities of the keep ceased for the night, Sandor slipped from his room into Sansa’s chambers across the quiet corridor. Luckily for them that section of the keep was suitably isolated. Besides the two of them, only Lenore was a frequent caller in those parts.

Sansa waited for him, always affectionate, always eager. After the first heady weeks of passion had passed, when it had seemed they never got enough of each other, on some nights they only slept in each other’s arms. Once again the difference between his past and present was glaring; the notion of wanting to lie with a woman without fucking her would have been absurd before, but now it was only natural. Sandor gradually started to get comfortable about another human being so close to him when he was most vulnerable, in his sleep. Previously that had meant dire danger, and there had been a few nights in the beginning when he had woken up and before fully realising where he was, had jumped up in full alert and scared Sansa witless.

Initially Sandor had wanted to serve Sansa in her bedchamber as much as he did outside it, but she would have none of that. She could be bloody stubborn when she wanted, Sandor had to admit. No, as they grew bolder in bed, his little bird wanted to please him. Sandor shook his head at the absurdity of it. Hells, she wanted him to just lie there while she serviced him – seemingly enjoying it as much as he did. And she seemed to delight in his body as well, that being just one more piece of a puzzle that was simply too bloody big for him to comprehend.

Life was good for the old dog.

----------

One evening Sansa complained about her stiff shoulders after spending most of the day working on new handlooms, not being used to them as yet. Sandor knew exactly what she needed, and moved to her from his chair by the fire, where he had been sitting and sharpening his dagger. He had a squire to do those sorts of jobs, but he still preferred to attend to his personal weapons himself. Sansa had teased him about it, but had shut up pretty quickly after he had pointed out that the lady of the keep still participated in weaving the new wall hangings for the Great Hall.

Sandor stood behind her as she sat on her chair and pressed his hands on her shoulders. Gently he started to ply her tense muscles, his lessons from Jaime flooding back into his mind. Sansa’s shoulders were slender and delicate, nothing like the lion’s heavy muscles. His big hands wrapped around them easily, and he had to be extra careful not to crush her in his grip.

Sansa seemed to assume his actions to be a new way for him to start their lovemaking, judging from the way she relaxed and leaned against him. She lifted her hand to reach behind her, squeezing his hip and caressing it boldly.

“Take off your shift, girl,” Sandor murmured. Sansa obeyed, and he had to swallow hard at the sight of her pink nipples hardening in anticipation. He winced and averted his gaze from that pleasing sight and focussed on swiping her long hair out of his way. It twirled around his fingers and felt like the purest, softest silk. Sandor knew he couldn’t concentrate if Sansa continued touching him, so he swatted her hand away making her squeak in surprise, and continued kneading her neck. As she started to rise, he pressed her back.

“Sit there, you will feel better for it tomorrow.”

After he had finished, they both got their reward as Sandor descended on her hungrily, as aroused as Sansa from their interaction.

----------

The next evening Sansa announced to him that she did feel better. To Sandor’s exclamations of ‘told you so’, she curiously asked how he had known to treat her thus. They had retired to bed, its soothing familiarity surrounding them. Sandor had pulled Sansa’s back against his chest, enveloping her small frame within his bulk.

“The lion showed me,” Sandor grunted, trying to lift her shift to place his hand on her bare belly to feel its softness and warmth. 

“Jaime? Really, how did he know?” It was Sansa‘s turn to swat his hand away as she turned to face Sandor, clearly intrigued about their companion’s hidden talents.

“Learned from a maester’s apprentice in King’s Landing.”

“Is that one of the new ways for our northern guards, then?” Sansa had grown used to the way she had to milk answers from him, one by one, and was not deterred by it. Sometimes it galled Sandor, but mostly it made him realise how well she had started to know him. That in turn made something inside him shiver; the realisation of how good, but also terrifying, it felt to be so utterly bonded with another person.

“No… although maybe we should introduce it to them. Once we get the maester.”

“Did he show this only to you? Did he treat you, or you him?”

“Both – although I was never as good with my hands as Jaime was with only his one.”

Sansa appeared captivated by what she heard. Her eyes darted to his inquiringly, and she cocked her head. Only then did Sandor realise how a touch like that could be considered very intimate, as they had attested the previous night. Bloody hells! He cursed his slip of the tongue. Yet there was no way around it; Sansa knew now that he and Jaime had laid their hands on each other.

Sandor shifted uncomfortably, regretting what he had inadvertently revealed. She can’t suspect anything; she is a lady and wouldn’t know about shieldmates or the ways of men. Still Sansa’s gaze stayed on him, challenging him in a way that suggested she placed much more emphasis on Sandor’s admission than a simple discussion about the ways of healing might have warranted.

They had talked about Jaime often enough, both hopeful that he would soon finish his business in King’s Landing and return to the North. When a raven had delivered the message about his exoneration, they had breathed a collective sigh of relief and toasted the impending homecoming of their companion.

Sansa had extracted from him a promise that they wouldn’t hide their relationship from Jaime once he was back. Sandor knew how much the lion meant to her, but instead of being threatened by it, his growing confidence allowed him to acknowledge the bonds of affection they all shared.

Privately Sandor doubted how well Jaime would take the news. He had always been determined to protect Sansa’s reputation, repeatedly warning them both about not allowing any insinuations of impropriety between her and her sworn men. For him to find Sandor as her bloody paramour…he wouldn’t be happy. For some inexplicable reason Sandor also wondered how his and Jaime’s relationship would be affected by the new situation.

Hells, he had all the intimacy he wanted with Sansa! Still… there were times when he felt Jaime’s absence acutely. The little bird was more than he deserved, but there were things a man could share only with another man; with someone who was part of the world women rarely glimpsed.

“Did it mean something special, the way it was only you two…who did it?” Sansa asked cautiously.

Sandor changed his position, turning onto his back and pulling Sansa’s head to rest on his chest. He sighed. Bloody hells, she knew most of what there was to know about him. What was one more thing? You are in deep with her, dog. No secrets.

“That was the first time anyone touched me, since I can remember.  That is, not in a fight, and not with aggression. I didn’t really even know how it could feel. It wasn’t something that wenches in King’s Landing cared for.”

Sansa pursed her lips, and again Sandor swore quietly. Had he fallen from a frying pan into the fire, blabbering about the women of his past? He was still unaccustomed to such open discussions and blundered more often that he wanted. He eyed Sansa cautiously, but to his relief soon saw her expression changing, becoming soft and sympathetic.

“I am sorry none of those women touched you before… although I can’t say I wouldn’t be jealous of them if they had,” she whispered softly.

Jealous? About me? Sandor was startled by the emotions her admission raised in him. Nobody had ever cared whether he lived or died, or what he did. She does. Bugger me with a hot poker, but she does.

“Maybe to him it meant more,” Sandor continued after a while. He had an uneasy feeling that Sansa was not going to let the matter go, so he might as well tell her the rest.

“But not to you?”

“Sansa, if you saw a man dying of starvation and you had provisions with which to sate his hunger, wouldn’t you give him some? If it wouldn’t take food out of your own mouth? Even if you knew that it wouldn’t feed him for his lifetime?”

Sandor glanced at her. Sansa was staring at him breathlessly, her expression sympathetic.

“Jaime’s hunger… I think I can guess what it is for,” she said in a silent voice. “I have seen him looking at you.”

“Poor bastard,” Sandor cursed, but not angrily. He stroked Sansa’s shoulder absentmindedly and pulled the blanket higher to protect her from the chill that crept across the room as the fire in the hearth started to peter out.

Sansa trailed her fingers across his chest. Her touch was light as a feather, but Sandor felt the weight of her acceptance and comforting understanding. .

“He probably never had a chance to find his own way. Cersei was always dominant, although she was a woman and he was the oldest son and the renowned warrior. He may be confused… and lost. Thank you for being his friend.”

“He sure as hell is lost if he comes to my door,” mumbled Sandor, turning onto his side and pulling Sansa towards him. He meant it as a sign to let the matter go.

Later, as Sansa’s steady breathing next to him indicated she was already asleep, Sandor lay awake and let his mind wander over the discussion they had had. For some reason he felt better about Sansa knowing, and that she didn’t seem to mind. Jaime was still part of their pack and they both missed him.

----------

They rarely discussed the future. It was as if both of them deliberately didn’t want to think about it, but one evening Sandor brought the subject up. He hated doing it, but he hadn’t gone through life deceiving himself and imagining things that couldn’t be. Better to face the reality and take it by the horns, as it sure as hells was going to face them, sooner or later.

“What about when you marry, little bird? We can’t continue like this, you know.”

Sansa buried her face in his chest, nibbling at his skin, tracing her tongue from his left nipple to his right. Sandor allowed himself to be pulled into her game, her teasing bites and pulling of hair only tickling him. Gods, when she was playful with him…!

“Why do you say such things? I am not going to marry for years. Who knows, maybe I will marry you. Then we could go on together forever.”

Sandor pushed her away, but not ungently. “You know we can’t marry. The dog and the lady. You may think you want it now, but when your bannermen start talking about the foolish girl who let the enemy’s dog conquer her you will realise how impossible that is. They may accept me now, aye, but only as your sworn shield. Anything more and I would be chopped down, and so would you, little bird.” He kissed her brow gently. “I will not let that happen to you, even if it means going against your wishes. As much as I promise to obey and serve you in everything else.”

Sansa pouted. “Then I will never marry.”

“Now, that is as foolish as the notion of marrying me. Winterfell needs heirs to continue the bloodline. Or would you prefer that the Targaryens grant the North to one of their supporters?  To someone who doesn’t understand its people and only wants to fill his coffers with fur and timber and crops? No, I know you wouldn’t wish that. This land and these people are who you are.”

Sansa looked as if she wanted to cry, but Sandor knew she couldn’t deny the truths he was stating. He felt sorry for her though. Once he too had believed that life was fair. Hells, he had learned the error of that soon enough, the reality forced down his throat by those who did what they wanted and cared naught for right and wrong.

“Maybe I will marry an old man and only lay with him once or twice to get me with a child…and then come back to you,” she tried as her last attempt to push away the unpleasant spectre of the duty that awaited her.

“Aye, and maybe your old husband wouldn’t mind you sleeping with your sworn shield. Or maybe I wouldn’t mind sharing you with some old fool,” Sandor replied matter-of-factly. He turned his face away, hating the fact that he didn’t have any choice in the matter. One day his little bird would marry, her husband would put a stop to their affair and he would be gutted for the rest of his miserable life. Just thinking about it made his stomach wrench.

Sansa appeared annoyed and moved towards him with a determined look on her face. As she traced her lips down his abdomen and purred against his groin, Sandor finally let go of the subject.

Yet he knew the matter wouldn’t go away.

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