51. Sandor & Sansa
Her eyes went as wide as saucers a moment after, realizing what had just come out of her mouth. Sansa’s eyes met Sandor’s as she dropped the tunic to the ground and raised her hand to cover her mouth, almost wincing as Sandor recovered from the first moment of shock, before he broke out in one of the longest and loudest barks of laughter Sansa had ever heard him have.
Gods be good, Sansa thought, blushing fiercely in embarrassment. She wanted to crawl to the bed and hide under the bedcovers and never look at her big man again, but all she seemed able to do was stand there and watch Sandor laugh until he clutched at his stomach in pain, as she started to suck on her hurt thumb.
“Seven hells, little bird,” he rasped between breaths. “Now I know that you’ve spent too much time beside me if curses like that are coming out of that pretty mouth of yours.”
Neither Sandor’s voice nor his look was mocking, and the sound of his rasping, raucous laughter filled Sansa with such warmth, that she finally managed to stammer, “It’s not funny,” before she began to giggle as well.
They laughed together despite it all, and when Sandor had unbuckled his scabbard and longsword and placed them on the table, he strode across the room in her direction, snarling, “I’ve ruined you, Sansa. If you go on like that you’ll stop being the courteous proper little lady I knew.”
Sansa chuckled as Sandor stopped in front of her, saying softly, “I’m going to try and pretend that was a compliment.”
“You should,” her husband agreed, bending down so he could pick his shirt off the ground, and handed back to her. “Here, you dropped this.”
Sandor handed her his shirt, his large hand brushing against hers before he grabbed her hand in his and raised it to his lips. Sansa could only watch with widening eyes as Sandor parted his mouth and grazed her pinched thumb with his teeth, before he sucked at the little wound there, his eyes caressing her.
When he released her thumb and asked, “Better?” Sansa lowered her eyes, and nodded, saying, “Thank you,” in a tremulous voice.
“That’s the pretty little talking bird that minds her courtesies I know,” Sandor observed with a snort.
That he would say those words, echoing the night when he had first told called her by her pet name as well as telling her of Gregor and how half his face got burned, made Sansa catch her breath. They had spent the last couple of days worrying and wishing things were different, but even if tonight was their last chance to do anything but that, she couldn’t stand it. It was too much.
Sansa really wanted to be brave, and keep a happy face for Sandor so that he could remember her just like that, so rather than let him see her trying hard not to cry, she looked away from him, clasping her hands together nervously.
Time seemed to stop still then, since neither said another word for long moments. Sansa didn’t move. She knew that since her husband could read most people’s thoughts as plainly as if they were open books written on their faces, he could understand the reason behind her hesitation to face him, even if he was not regarding her expression. He knows me too well not to know what is going through my mind.
Without breaking the silence, Sandor laid a large heavy hand on her left shoulder and gave it a squeeze. Sansa closed her eyes and took a deep breath, willing herself to be strong and not break down once again, as her big man gently took her face in his warm calloused hands, kissed her lightly on the forehead, and rasped, “Sansa, look at me.”
With her head tilted up, Sansa had no other choice but to lift her eyes to her husband’s burned face. Sandor’s grey eyes clung to hers, and she finally found the strength in their grey depths to whisper, “It’s not fair.”
Why did they have to part now of all times, when they had just learned of the baby born out of their love?
“No, it’s not,” Sandor agreed with a grimace, as some emotion flickered momentarily in his eyes.
“I’m going to miss you so much,” she said, attempting a smile. “I don’t know how I will ever make it through the coming months without you. Without you waking beside me- or- or without knowing where you are, and with our baby- I- I just”
Sandor took one good look at her as she tried to get those words out of her, and drew her to him at once by wrapping his arms around her in a silent hug, sparing her the need to go on when he already knew better than any words she could think of now just how much she was going to need him, for it was exactly the same for him.
Sansa sniffed and buried her face on his chest, her arms going around Sandor’s neck as they clung to each other. Sandor groaned as he lifted her from the ground, burying his face in the crook of her neck as she fisted the hair at the back of his head between her long fingers, hugging her tightly to him in a bone-crushing hug.
“I love you, little bird, do you hear me?” Sandor pledged in a voice that sounded like two woods saws grinding together, “I love you both. More than anything.”
“I love you too,” Sansa whispered back honestly, fighting back her tears as she clung to Sandor’s neck, gathering that the time to face the fact that these were the last hours they were going to spend together had arrived. “You mean the world to me. That’s why this is hurting so much.”
“This time with you, Sansa- you made my life have a bloody meaning, little bird, when I had no right to expect anything from you after the way I treated you at the start. I’ve always known I don’t deserve you, and yet it still kills me that I can’t stay or bring you along. I want you to know that the only thing that will keep me going after today will be the thought of you and the babe.”
His words only served to make the first couple of tears that had been threatening to fall down her cheeks appear, but Sansa couldn’t do much about it at this point. She turned her face to him and met her husband’s stare and felt overwhelmed in that moment, for his eyes seemed to bore right into hers; right into her very soul and the core of her being. Sansa had been frightened of her big man’s eyes once, but it had been a long time since those bygone early days in King’s Landing, when Sandor’s stare had been compromised of a pair of sullen grey eyes, full of anger. But that was forever ago.
His heart was in his eyes as Sandor gazed down at her, and the pain he alone could understand and share with her in such a poignant milestone in their lives as the shadowy crossroad of tomorrow’s parting loomed over them both, was so deep that all Sansa could do was let her tears fall, knowing that the man who had her in his arms would love her more than anyone ever had or would till the day she died. This is too much- too unbearable. Her previous resolution of not letting her tears fall couldn’t matter anymore, for a woman can only stand so much on a night like this.
“Oh gods, Sandor, what are we going to do? I’m so afraid of never seeing you again,” she cried, stroking back the black hair that fell forward and hid half of his face from view as she went on trembling in his arms like a leaf, for they had arrived at a point in their relationship where they hardly were two different people no. “We always thought we would be facing the world together, whether it was my mother and Robb, or Stannis and the rest of my brother’s bannermen. But now you are going to have to go to war on your own, surrounded by enemies or knights and soldiers who dislike you. How will I ever let you go?”
Having lost every member of her family but for Rickon and Jon, it was really hard for Sansa to ignore just how easily could it be for fate to suddenly decide to take Sandor from her for good, and that was something Sansa knew would just kill her.
“You are like no one else I’ve ever know, Sansa,” Sandor said, chuckling at her words, and looking so grateful to her for some reason. The sound of his chuckle was a sour sound, part a rumble, part a snarl, but it was far from unkind. “You are the bravest of the two here, my strong courageous, little bird, and when the time comes, it’ll be harder for me to walk away from your side than the other way around.”
“No, it won’t,” Sansa exclaimed at once, shaking her head, tears stinging her eyes.
Sandor didn’t say anything else. He just bent down and kissed the tip of her nose, her wet cheekbones, her eyelids and finally her mouth in a deep slow kiss.
When Sansa broke the kiss so she could catch her breath, her big man moved his half-scarred split lips to her neck, licking at her skin, and driving a little moan from her when he stopped nipping at her shoulder only so he could bit down on it, marking her as his.
As if having his baby didn’t already make me his, Sansa gathered fleetingly, once Sandor returned his attention to her waiting mouth. Their hands were tugging at each other’s clothes not long after that, their grief turned to need, as they urged the other on for with every moment that passed by, passions increased for Sandor and her both.
When Sansa’s dark green long cloak lay in a puddle at her feet, and Sandor had unlaced the front of her nightgown, he moved his hand to her back, sliding it from her shoulders to the small of her back, pressing her as close to him as he could, and bucking his hips, making her gasp at the feeling of his hardness against her.
The past and the promise of their child in the future was all they had now that the stakes were thrown and their lives once again hung in the dangerous precarious line that was the game of thrones. But in between the past and what was to come, Sandor and Sansa still had the opportunity to make the most of tonight, and they made sure they did, both of them aware that this could very well be the last time they could make love and be together.
Sometime after midnight Sandor was panting as he lay on his back on the bed, as out of breath and spent as Sansa was. He had his head on a pillow and was running his hands up and down Sansa’s bare back, for she was sprawled on top of him, resting contentedly on his hairy chest after her ragged breathing had subsided into soft breaths that came out of her slightly parted mouth. Sansa was tucked tightly in Sandor’s arms, her shaking subsiding, and their bodies glistened together in a mist of sweat.
Sandor’s mouth was pressed against her forehead, and he was kissing her there now as she buried her face deeper into the crook of his neck, willing herself to breathe in the way he smelt so she did not forger it in the coming months. Their hearts were beating in almost the exact same rhythm, Sansa was glad to notice, as the thumping subsided at a slow pace, the signs of their intense lovemaking still freshly branded in her mind and body.
Sansa couldn’t even move long enough to stretch in these moments, since her legs still felt weak and her thighs were bruised, and her breasts hurt, feeling extremely tender and sensitive after the way Sandor had pressed and sucked and bit on them. Light stabs below her belly disturbed Sansa as well, but even the tender ache between her legs was one she welcomed wholeheartedly. Sandor had given her whatever that she had wanted.
Raising her head, feeling drowsy and still in a sort of haze, Sansa started tracing with her lips a path of kisses on her husband’s chest, noticing how the shifting flames of the fire and the candles painted Sandor’s scarred muscled warrior’s body with orange shadows. Sansa left a little wet trail on her husband’s warm skin as she placed kisses over it- the remains of the tears she had shed as Sandor took her, first roughly and desperately and then slow but deep, overwhelming her and her senses even now in its aftermath.
I want to stay here forever, she wished longingly, considering how good it would be if just by wishing something it could come true. That very thought made her feel even more detatched from the present somehow, because if there was something Sansa Stark had learned in this life, it was that life didn’t always turn out the way one wanted.
The moment Sansa raised her head to look at Sandor’s face, they both gave the other a weary-half smile, and Sansa could not help but recall for some reason there and then the night when emerald fire had lit up the dark sky above, the night when the journey Sandor and she were meant to live through together had started. And now, when fate meant for them to start down different paths, they were back in a bed in a room that was illuminated by the fire’s glow, though tonight it was due to a dark golden luster instead,.
The room was too dark for her to see every detail of his features by now with total clarity, but Sansa had every single detail of Sandor’s face engraved in her heart and in her memory and in her soul, whether it was the craters and cracks that twisted the scars the burning coals of a brazier had left in his face long ago, to the little bump on his large and hooked nose, or the little crow feet around his eyes, and the couple of grey hairs among his thin dark shoulder length hair that he always brushed sideways.
When Sansa lay her head on top of Sandor’s chest after he had kissed her, a smile on her face, neither of them moved again, and they both fell asleep eventually for a much earned rest, her long auburn hair washing over both their bodies as they held on to each other closely.
Sansa woke up before Sandor did about an hour later, or so she gathered due to the darkness outside the window. She smiled sadly as she saw her husband snoring beside her, and slowly, so as not to wake him, Sansa left the bed so she could go and clean herself in the bathing room, leaving Sandor to his dreams, thinking that she was going to miss this room almost as much as she was going to miss sharing it with Sandor.
But I couldn’t stay here even if Wyn and Wylla hadn’t proposed for me to move to the one next to theirs. Without Sandor in the room, this chamber would start to feel like a prison, of that Sansa was certain.
When she stepped inside the bedroom once again, she tip toed to the place where Sandor had thrown her jade green nightgown to after he had managed to pull it off her. As Sansa bent down and reached out for the nightgown her eyes fell on Sandor’s longsword. Candlelight and the glowing embers from the fire rippled along the smoke-grey steel, making the blade look so dark that it put Sansa in mind of Ice, her father’s greatsword. Father would have liked it if one of his grandsons was called after him, she thought, smiling sadly as she placed a hand absentmindedly over her tummy.
Sansa slipped on her nightgown and went to sit on the bed’s edge for a moment so she could trace the muscles on Sandor’s arms and chest, stroking them before she raised her hand to caress the scars on his face lightly with her fingertips and knuckles. I should let him rest, Sansa gathered, since her big man and the others would be leaving the city early in order to cover more ground, but the truth was that it was too hard for Sansa to sleep away these last moments with Sandor, rather than spend this time talking and kissing and letting him know just how much she loved him.
Her big man’s mouth began to twitch at that, as Sansa knew it would, and as he started to steer from his slumber, Sansa quickly lay on her belly on the mattress, her arms buried underneath the pillow she was hugging as she turned her face around to look at her husband waking up.
She could not help but smile at the way Sandor let out a long sigh and stretched out his powerful body beside her, still as naked as his nameday, blushing as she recalled that he had warned her that he would take her again in the morning before it was time to get ready. He turned around to stare at her when he felt her gaze on him, and with a small sleepy grin he shifted on the bed until he was lying down on his belly in the exact same position as she was.
Sandor reached out to grab one of Sansa’s hands from beneath her pillow then, and he silently brought it to his mouth, and gave it a kiss. Sansa’s mouth opened in a little O as her husband then covered her hand with both of his, and held it there between them, warming it.
Her Tully blue eyes locked with Sandor’s grey, until he raised his eyebrow in amusement at her after they both failed to say something, and growled in a thick voice, “Seven hells, your hair looks like a bloody nest, little bird.”
A weak chuckle escaped Sansa against her will at that, but when she failed to say anything, her husband asked her. “What were you thinking of?”
“Of you and the baby and the past of course,” she finally replied with a sigh, her heart feeling heavy on her chest. “Of the war too, and of Winterfell.”
A fierce northern wind shook the shutters then, making Sandor and Sansa both raise their heads to stare at the window until it had flown away.
“It must be freezing cold even inside your castle tonight,” Sandor remarked, slinging one of his long legs over her thigh.
“No,” she pointed out, as her husband drew her closer to him by the waist.
Sansa snuggled closer to her big man’s body quickly, feeling the warmth of his body as he threw one of his legs over hers, and wrapped his arm around her.
“It isn’t always like that,” Sansa continued after a moment. “I know they say this will be the longest winter in living memory, but I can still recall that it was always warm inside Winterfell, even when it snowed during the summer. Water from the hot springs used to be piped through the walls to warm us, and inside the glass gardens it was always like the hottest day of summer.”
“If we win, it’ll be a rough life moving back to Winterfell and restoring some life to its walls,” Sandor pointed out to her, reaching out to run his calloused hand down her bare leg. “But after we are done re-building the castle, it’ll be just like you remember.”
“I hope so, Sandor,” was the only thing she could answer, but it was all right. Her big man knew how much taking back her and little Rickon’s home meant to her more than anybody else in the great wide world.
Sandor and Sansa fell silent after that, but neither of them seemed able to stop reaching out to touch or caress or kiss the other everywhere, whether they were talking or not. It is probably because we won’t be able to do so for who knows how long, Sansa gathered with a smile when all of a sudden her big man surprised her by snarling, with brooding eyes, “We’ve done rather well, you and I, haven’t we, Sansa?”
She frowned in confusion, so Sandor quickly explained, “Given where we started, I mean.”
Sansa smiled, running her fingers through Sandor’s dark hair, and nodded. It’s been quite the long journey indeed, and I wouldn’t change much of it, otherwise we would never have arrived at the point in our lives we are at now.
“Yes, we certainly have,” she admitted, hesitantly. “Though I must confess I miss Essos more than ever right now. I- I even wonder if it wouldn’t have been wiser if we had remained in the east somewhere.”
At her words Sandor propped himself up on his elbows and said in that rough voice of his, “You know you don’t mean that, little bird. You belong here in the north with your father’s folk. Even a blind man could see it.”
“I know,” Sansa was forced to admit, looking away from him as she rubbed her hands together. “But- but this would have been avoided had we stayed in Essos. We would have been happy.”
Out of the corner of her eyes Sansa saw Sandor shake his head as he leaned forward to kiss her shoulder. She looked back at him at the gesture, and when her eyes met his, Sandor rasped, “Because we haven’t been happy here, Lady Clegane?”
Of course we have, Sansa knew, smiling again at the way her husband had addressed her. Sansa loved for Sandor to call her Lady Clegane. It never failed to cheer her up, and at least now, as she remembered the memories from when she had first touched northern soil once again to this moment, Sansa felt a little better.
“Yes, you are right, we have been happy here,” Sansa had to admit, thinking about her baby, as she leaned down to close the gap between her and her big man. “And hopefully we will continue to be so once you return to me.”
Sansa kissed Sandor back with all her heart after he claimed her mouth, hugging him, refusing to let go. They spent the following hours thinking back on everything that had ever happened to them, since their first meeting in Winterfell, to King’s Landing, the Kingswood, The Summer Bird, Pentos, lonely Valyrian roads, the High and Low cities of Great Norvos, the caravan through the Hills of Norvos, Hrolf’s castle by the sea, The Fat Whale, Lorath, Montufar’s Dance, Braavos, The King of the Seas, the wilderness of the North, and finally here to White Harbour.
Sandor and she knew that they wouldn’t change much of the extraordinary journey that led them to the end of the world and beyond, and back to the north had Sandor and Sansa completely absorbed, and made them pass their remaining hours together with laughter, to Sansa’s pleasant surprise. They cleared out and said everything that needed to be said between them, in case they never got the chance to do so again.
“After everything that has happened,” Sandor snarled at her, the rising sun streaming through the window as he kissed his way up her leg as he knelt on the bed beside her, “I don’t think that when I come back to you anything will ever change between us, little bird.”
He sounded thankful for that, and Sansa echoed the sentiment, but she could not help but point out as she raised her hand to wipe the fallen tear from her eye, “How wrong you are, my big man. Of course things will change.”
Sandor raised his burned face to look at her with a scowl, silently reproaching her for contradicting the reassurance that had settled deep down in his heart as a certainty, so Sansa sat up and cupped her husband’s face gently, the burns and scars rough underneath her palm, as she explained, “Things have to change, Sandor. After all, if all goes well we will be parents, remember? Our child will change us, but for the better.”
Little Eddard or little Arwyn will do us more good than we could ever make each other, she knew, and by the way the frown on the forehead of the man she loved disappeared at her words, Sansa knew that Sandor agreed.
A/N: Hope you all liked this chapter! If you feel like it, please review xp