A special thanks to littlebirdhound who took the time to read over and beta this for me. Thank you so much I owe you anything you would like!

All characters belong to GRRM

Sansa stood in front of her mirror and gazed at her reflection, unable to stop herself from smiling. She ran her fingertips down the smooth, deep blue fabric of her dress that hugged comfortably to her tall form, admiring how the silver stitching that crisscrossed along the bodice sparkled in the fire light, and how her embroidered skirts flowed flawlessly to the floor.

It had been so long since she had worn something new, something beautiful. In the long months of her journey home, her attire had consisted of rough, worn trousers and faded tunics. The bulky, but practical boots she had worn, were now replaced with soft leather slippers lined with white rabbit fur, and her auburn locks, once kept hidden away from view under an old woollen wrap, were now swept up away from her face, allowing her abundant curls to cascade gracefully down to the small of her back.

She wanted to look beautiful tonight, for this was a night for celebration. Many Northern banner men and households, great and minor, were in attendance for the Lord of Winterfell's ninth nameday, but Sansa knew the young lords had each arrived with one purpose: to leave with the Lady Sansa by their side. 'But they have it wrong,' she thought, smiling to herself. 'There is only him.'

As she readied herself, Sansa's thoughts went to the man who had helped her on her journey home, who had protected her every step of the way, and had been nothing less than honourable in his actions toward her. She remembered their first night in the woods after leaving the Quiet Isle, how unsure she had felt about their sleeping arrangements, and how awkwardly they looked at each other, standing over their respective fur bedrolls. Sandor had been the one to break the tension, she recalled, as he cleared his throat almost nervously and lain down on his bedroll, covering himself. Sansa had glanced warily to her side, and back to him, painfully aware of how close they were. Tentatively, she had lain next to him, every muscle of hers stiff and tense, unable to sleep until exhaustion finally won out.

She called to mind how later that night, she had woken up, shivering violently, as her teeth chattered all the while. It had felt as though the cold had been seeping into her bones. She wanted so desperately, she remembered, to huddle into the warmth that was emanating from Sandor just inches away, but then wordlessly, and without warning, Sandor had moved closer and pulled her into his side, muttering how he would not hurt her, that the cold was the bigger enemy at the moment. An unspoken arrangement had formed after that, and when night came, Sansa would lie with her back against his chest as they slept, her slight form tucked within the strong, warm embrace that held her close.

Sansa walked over to her dressing table, contemplating how Sandor would react to such thoughts of him. Most likely with a sneer, rasping, 'I am no knight, little bird. Best get those thoughts out of your pretty head.' No, he was certainly not a Ser, nor a lord, but someone who had more honour than any man she had known since her father. Smiling, she picked up a favour she had so lovingly made for Sandor, running her fingers gently over it.

It was a small favour, a simple green pouch cut from a square patch from the bottom hem of one of his own tunics, With a lock of her hair placed inside, and three black dogs, running in the yellow, autumn grass embroidered on it. Though, not for his house sigil, she recalled, but because he said 'I like dogs better than knights.'

Sansa blushed as she thought of the tunic she had taken from his chamber. Since she and Sandor had returned to Winterfell, it was no longer considered proper for a lady, such as Sansa, to sleep or to be alone with a man who was not her husband nor kin, and Sansa had tried to get used to the feeling of him no longer next to her while she slept, but for so long, he was beside her, his very presence giving her warmth and security as they huddled together on the cold ground. In this simple act of survival, she had found a comfort that, until they had found each other again, she had been lacking. And she yearned for it.

One day, when Sandor and Lord Rickon had gone out riding, Sansa secretly stole into his chambers, and nestled herself into his bed. Pressing her face against his pillow, she had remembered how on their journey, they had both smelled of earth, wood, smoke, and sweat, but the dominant scent of leather had always the been the strongest with Sandor. The traces of it had lingered there in his bed, and it made her want to weep. She tried not to, as she lay there, she tried so hard, but the need for him overwhelmed her, and she wept silently.

When Sansa was about to leave, she spied his worn, green tunic strewn carelessly on the floor. She had thought to pick it up, to place it neatly on the chair beside his bed, but when she did, she had held it close to her chest instead, and breathed deeply, allowing his scent to engulf her in another wave of emotion. 'He would not notice it missing,' she had reassured herself. 'I have not seen him wear this since we arrived in Winterfell.' Sansa quickly bundled it up into a tight ball, fixed Sandor's bed so as to leave no trace of her intrusion, and had quietly closed the door behind her, taking the tunic along with her to her chambers.

Sansa blushed hotly when she remembered how she had climbed under her furs that night, wearing nothing but Sandor's tunic wrapped around her lithe form. Blushing deeper still, she wondered what he would have thought if he knew that she had found her pleasure while wearing it.

When Sansa went bed that night, she had been so hesitant to wear the tunic in the first place, but after she had convinced herself that no one would ever know, she donned it, expecting it to be a suitable substitute for his absence and ease her tossing and turning. However, when she closed her eyes, her mind trailed to thoughts of Sandor, and she wondered, despite how angry his mouth looked, if it would feel as gentle as a feather on her lips. 'Would he be hesitant at first?' She had wondered, as she brushed her fingers across her mouth. 'Would his kiss be soft?' She licked her lips as her heart began to beat faster. She remembered how he had kissed her on that fateful night of the battle, how his cruel mouth had descended upon hers. Sansa wondered if Sandor ever thought of that kiss, or if he even remembered. When he had asked for her forgiveness, she had given it, wholeheartedly, knowing that the man before her was not the same man from King's Landing. She had always wanted to bring up the kiss but never could gather the nerve to ask him.

As she lay there, she had pictured his slow, rough kisses evoking gentle moans from her depths, that would soon give way to an all consuming hunger. She sighed deeply and ran her hands over her breasts, arching her back slightly, as she imagined him placing open-mouthed kisses on her neck and collarbone, growling deep and raspy in her ear, and leaving a blanket of tiny goosebumps down Sansa's arms and back.

In her mind, Sandor was never forceful, but in complete control and she had imagined his hands wandering down her sides, as she gently pinched her nipple and slowly ran her other hand down the dip of her hips, picturing his blunt fingertips reaching under the stolen tunic, and tracing the curve of her hips. Sansa's hand had moved down lower still, and could almost feel him grasp roughly outside of her leg before running a calloused palm up the softness of her thigh. 'Those eyes,' she had thought, as she reached that sensitive spot, and imagined him looking down at her, his thumb slowly stroking between her legs, as a smirk slowly formed across his lips.

Sansa lost herself in those seconds of release, and had thrown her arm over her face to muffle her moans. Afterward she had cried softly into it, she remembered, wishing it was him that gave her pleasure and that it was him wrapped around her instead of his tunic.

A firm knock was heard at her chamber door just then, startling Sansa from her memories, and she quickly composed herself. 'Tonight,' she determined as she raised the small favour to her lips, placed on it a gentle kiss, and tucked it safely beneath the bodice of her gown. "Enter," she called out, knowing full well who was on the other side of the door. She watched as Sandor opened the door, ducking slightly under the frame as he walked in. She quickly looked him over, and smiled.

He had forgone his armour and wore a plain black tunic and grey woollen breeches that clung comfortably to his muscled thighs. His tall, black boots were newly polished, she noticed, and his black fur cloak, with specks of white and grey, flowed off his massive shoulders. She met his grey, surprised eyes through his long, thin hair that covered the burnt side of his face, and watched as they flicked down the length of her, as she stood there in all her beauty. She knew she looked beautiful, and she knew that tonight all she wanted was his eyes on her alone. Sandor moved his hand to the sword on his side, his long fingers impatiently curling and uncurling around the grip as he looked her over, eliciting a blush. Sansa walked over and stood in front of him. "Are you ready, my lord?" She asked.

Sandor snorted and the look of wonder quickly disappeared as he held out his arm to her; the stoic, guarded look taking over once again. "Not a lord, Little Bird."

Sansa just smiled up at him, and took his arm.

Sansa wanted to make her intentions known to Sandor, just as she had to her Lord brother. Rickon had listened intently with rapt attention just as he did when Old Nan would tell stories of heroes and monsters. Sansa told him of the man who had brought her home, how he had saved her, how he had proven, time and again, his faithfulness to her. But she did not have to try hard to convince him. For Rickon, himself, had grown fond of the burned man with the course words. He had even made Sandor his sworn shield after seeing him take down a party of Bolton men. Sandor had scoffed at the honour bestowed upon him, but shot a quick glance at Sansa, and muttered that he had nowhere better to be, so might be he would stay for a while.

'Would he dance with me?' she wondered, as they walked quietly to the Great Hall where preparations had been made. He was most like to resist, she knew, but tonight she would request it of him and she would not allow him to refuse.

The celebrations went on and the people in the Great Hall enjoyed themselves immensely. The wine flowed, the music played on, and the fine courses of food were eaten with much gusto. In the years since the war had started, it had been nothing but tragedy and heartache for the North, and joy seemed a luxury that had not been seen since the days of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn. The dark winter had been long, but the people had a ferocity and perseverance that enemies lacked, and the people of the North were the last ones standing at the end of the battle of cold, and the sweet smell of the spring wind began to blow. Over time, loyal banner men had reunited and rallied, and took to their knee when word had travelled that the youngest Stark son had come home. And when the snows melted away, another Stark, one who was thought to be gone forever, had returned home with a man, who was supposedly dead, by her side.

After the feast, a flurry of well-wishes were bestowed on the young Lord and his family, and soon the music grew louder, the sound of stomping feet echoed throughout the granite walls. Sansa eagerly lead the first dance. She had not danced for so long and welcomed the opportunity. Sansa was whirled around and around on the floor by one lord after another, and her smiles and laughter were genuine.

As she danced, she could feel Sandor's eyes upon her, watching as she hummed and swayed, back and forth on her feet. Her cheeks were aflame, as though they were brightening from the intensity of his gaze. Though she could not see him, she could sense him well enough, and just the knowledge of him watching from somewhere in the shadows sent pleasurable tremors up her spine. Coyly, Sansa brushed the stray hairs away from her glowing face, and glanced back over her shoulder, searching. Suddenly, grey eyes locked with hers and her heart began to flutter as she held his gaze. She watched as Sandor rose his flagon of wine to her and allowed himself a half smile as he tipped it back. Slowly, she turned her back to him tilting her head back, her hair tickling the small of her back, softly brushing against her arms. She continued to dance slowly, though shy at first, the effects of the wine were gradually taking over her. She enjoyed the feel of his eyes on her from somewhere amongst the crowd. Sansa swayed her hips in small circles, relishing in the sensation of him following her every move. She glanced back and fluttered her eyelashes as she, again, met his intense gaze. She felt the slightest pull of a smile on her lips, but quickly covered it before anyone else could catch it.

Hours later the dancing and music was halted when Rickon put up his hand to silence the Great Hall for his announcement. Hordes of young, eager-eyed lords surrounded him, and some old ones, too. They had been asking for the hand of his sister all evening, swearing their protection to her when they would take her to their lands and make her their wife. Lord Rickon, his red hair a tangled mop on his head, stood from his chair high on the dais, searching for Sansa. He called to her, and she gracefully walked up to the table and curtsied, giving him a questioning look. He took her hand and stood by her side and he began to speak.

"My lords and ladies, I thank all of you for coming to Winterfell this evening to celebrate my nameday. I am grateful for your loyalty and for the services that you have all bestowed the North. I am well aware that my sister is due to marry and she has chosen a suitor. A man of great honour and one that I owe much gratitude. I will announce this man, but not before I speak to him. My dear sister has been through much heartache over the years and it's my wish for her to marry someone of her choice. Someone she deems worthy to take her hand." Her lordly brother looked up her, and smiled.

A sharp panic began to set in. Sansa looked to the corner where Sandor had been sitting moments before, and found he was no longer there. Her eyes searched frantically through the crowds of the hall, but to no avail. He was gone.

Sansa understood that Rickon couldn't have known that his words may have the caused the man she loved to leave so abruptly. She knew what Sandor's reaction would be, and had wanted to be the one to tell him herself. Keeping her composure despite her feelings of dread, she smiled lovingly at her young brother, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. "Thank you, my lord," she whispered, and bent down to kiss the top of his head. She then quickly slipped out of the hall, and went searching.

Sansa ran to Sandor's chambers, knocking frantically. He thought she did not choose him, she knew. He was not a Lord, he had no lands nor titles, but she loved him for himself. Her brother had said he would talk to him, and tell Sandor he was to make him a Lord and give him a keep. She knew he would only scoff at this, and so she needed to be the one to tell him. She needed to tell him that he was her choice, that she needed him by her side for the rest of her days.

'He feels the same way, I know it.' Sansa thought, pounding on the door again. He had stayed in Winterfell to be close to her, and though he hid his feelings well, she could always feel it in the way he watched her, the way he talked to her, the way he would show his gentle, hidden side only to her. She remembered how he held her in his arms on the road home. How the nights were so cold that he only did it to keep himself warm, or so he had said, but she could not ignore the feeling when he would gently run his hands through her hair, and softly whisper words into her ear when he thought she was asleep. 'I would never hurt you,' he had said, 'I will always keep you safe. I would lay my life on the blade for you, little bird.' In the mornings, she would always wake to her face buried into his chest, and his arms wrapped tightly around her. He would open his eyes and gently push away from her. Never talking about what had taken place at night.

Sansa kept pounding on his door, no answer.

Desperate, she ran down the corridors, bumping into the keep steward, grasped his arms and tried to ask him if he had seen Lord Rickon's shield. Her words were shaky, and she felt as though she were failing miserably at being calm. The steward looked at her, queerly, and told her he had seen the man burst out the doors and into the night. 'Stranger!' She remembered suddenly, 'He would go to him, but... he would not leave me, would he?' Sansa left the steward where he stood, and ran out into the night.

Sansa finally reached the stables and pulled the heavy doors open. She stepped inside, panting, and quickly made her way to Stranger's stall. Sandor, with his back turned to her, was there saddling the huge horse, looking as though he was making to leave. Her heart sank at the thought. He was going to leave her, she realized, leave her without saying goodbye; leave before she had a chance to tell him how she felt. She stood there, her tears giving way as she balled her fists in frustration. Stranger nickered softly as Sandor slowly turned towards her. His eyes were dark and his jaw was clenched tightly.

"Craven," she coldly accused him. She walked closer to him and stopped once again, several feet in front of him, "You craven man. You would leave me? You would just go after all that we had been through? Without a single word? Without me?" she cried. Sansa could feel her anger welling up inside. She was angry because this man was as stubborn as the winter was long and angry because he was making her cry. She stared up at him, trying to stop the tears as he stepped closer to her, but she glanced down when met with the intensity in his eyes. The emotion there was one she had not seen since that night at the Blackwater, a mixture of rage and fear and longing; a deadly combination. She raised her eyes when she felt his index finger under her chin, forcing her face to look up to his. The wind picked up outside, slamming the door behind her, causing her to jump.

"You dare call me a craven," he rumbled back, his voice low and quiet. "Did I not bring you home? Did I not stay here and help your Northern men win the war? I killed many for you, to keep you, and only you, safe. I did all this for you, to keep you protected, and now you call me a craven? Bugger that." He sneered and pulled his finger away. "But you don't need me anymore, Little Bird. I saw how you enjoyed dancing back there with your lord, that you will call a husband, who will dance whenever you command it. But make no mistake, the pretty boy, he will not be able to keep you safe like I did. Go, marry your handsome lord and go away with him. I have my own life to live now. I don't need to stay here for you or for anyone." He quickly turned back to Stranger and began tightening the stirrups impatiently. Stranger snorted in annoyance and tossed his mane, pulling away from his master while Sandor tried to steady his reigns.

Sansa stood there, taking in his words as she once again stared at his back. This was the first time he had admitted it was all for her. She knew it in her heart, she had always known, but to have to words spoken made it...real, and confirmed her desire to have him by her side. 'Why, after all this time, would he would think he meant nothing to me?' She could never accept that, and walked toward him, ready to tell him who she had chosen. Timidly, she placed her hand gently upon his back, unsure of his reaction to her touch. She could feel him tense up and shudder a breath, and could not stop the tears from falling down her cheeks. She loved him so much, yet it was so hard to tell him these words. 'Just say them Sansa.'

Sansa took a deep breath and the words began to flow.

"I have chosen a husband," she said firmly, wiping her tears. "The man does not know, yet, I have not revealed my intentions because I do not want to scare him away. I do not want him to scare me away. Rickon has said that I may choose any man. Did you not listen to his words in the Great Hall, Sandor?" Sansa tugged on his arm. She needed to look him in the face for what she was about to say. Sandor slowly turned around, his face hard and he eyed her questioningly, his mouth twitching. Sansa grabbed his large hands and gripped them tightly as she searched his eyes. "Don't you see? Don't you see, Sandor, that... that I choose you?"

Neither of them said a word for what seemed like an eternity. Faint echoes of music from the hall, along with the occasional snort from Stranger, were the only sounds to be heard. 'Say something you stubborn man,' she though, looking at him pleadingly, 'Anything.'

He tried to avoid her gaze. He looked above her, and to the side, as if having a sudden interest in the walls of the stables. Sansa tugged again on his hands. "Look at me, and tell me that you do not want me. Tell me that you want to leave, and I will let you go, but please, do not leave without telling me what you feel," she said, her voice trembling. "I truly love you, Sandor, no other. I have loved you for so long and I can't go on like this any longer."

He looked at her then, and from the conflicted look in his hard grey eyes, it was clear that he was stunned by her confession, as if he believed it impossible for her to harbor such feelings for him. Gently pulling back his hand from her grasp, he then ran his rough fingertips against her soft cheek, brushing a strand of hair that had come loose, and tucked it behind her ear. He swallowed hard, she noticed, and looked at her intently, a hidden vulnerability starting to peek through. He quickly licked at his bottom lip, half ruined and slightly cracked, and sighed heavily before he spoke.

"I am not the man you should have, Little Bird. I have nothing to give you. Truth be known, I would keep you safe, always. I told you life was not a song, but after all you have been through, you deserve a life you wanted, one filled with pretty songs. And I could never give them to you."

He released her other hand and ran his own across the top of his head, brushing his hair away from his scars. He looked so tired, so troubled. "Best if I leave here now, you have a chance at a life you deserve. Seven hells, girl, don't throw it away on some feeling that you conjured up in your mind for a former dog."

'No,' she thought, shaking her head, as if it was just a bad dream she needed to wake up from. 'This is not how it was supposed to go.' Looking up at him, she could feel her heart beating wildly in her chest, and for an instant, she dared to imagine how her life would be without him, and it pained her. In desperation, Sansa threw her arms around his waist, grasping, as if he was the very air that she breathed. She buried her face into his solid chest, her tears seeping into the fabric. He tensed in her embrace at first, but then, she felt his strong arms wrap tentatively around her and hold her tightly, resting his burnt cheek atop her head. He pulled her in closer still, until there was no gap between them, and curled his arm around the curve of her waist, his other hand cradling her head against his chest. 'He cares for me, he loves me, but why can he not say it?' Sansa thought, sadly.

They stood there, for a long moment, wrapped in one another's embrace. How could she part with the man who had been by her side long ago at the worst time of her life. Sandor, who always gave her honesty when she had been surrounded by liars, this man who had given her the choice to leave with him . She had once believed him to be dead, and felt as though something in her heart was missing. And the moment she saw him on the isle, she knew he was the missing part of her heart. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted when Sandor pulled away, and her heart wrenched anew. He gently gripped her chin, wiping the tears that gathered there with the rough pad of his thumb. "It's for the best, Little Bird, you'll see, you don't need me anymore, you are safe now." He then turned to Stranger, resuming his preparations.

Sansa stood watching him in disbelief, tears streaming down her face. The pain she felt in her heart at that moment was more than she could bear, and she sobbed in earnest. She whimpered and clutched at her chest, 'I do need you and you need me too, why can't you admit it?' And then, she felt it. 'The pouch.' She remembered, reached under the lace and pulled out the small favour. Holding it tightly in her hand, she walked over to Sandor, her head held up high.

"Here," she said, her voice cracking. She thrust her hand towards him with the delicate favour sitting in the palm of her hand. "Take it. Take this and leave, but don't you dare say, that I am the only one who has this...feeling," she said, mimicking his mocking tone when he had used the word. "I know you care for me, too, Sandor Clegane. I have not forgotten the way you held me on those cold nights, nor how gentle your hands were as you caressed my hair." Sansa breathed in a shuddered breath, "Nor the promises you whispered in my ear when you thought I was asleep," she said quietly, as she wiped her nose with the back of her hand, and placed the favour into his.

Sandor, looked down at it, bewildered, and flipped it over in his palm, running his fingers over the neatly embroidered dogs. Just then, a look of realization flashed across his face, and she watched a crooked grin form on his lips as he gazed back at her, cocking his eyebrow. 'What could he possibly find so amusing,' she wondered.

"Little bird, is this from my tunic?" He asked, holding up the pouch. "You were in my chambers." For a moment she was speechless, wiping her tears away. 'How did he...?' Sandor seemed to know what she was thinking at that moment, "No one smells quite like you do, Little Bird," he continued, taking a step closer toward her. "Might be you hid the evidence, but in my bed that night, your scent lingered. With so many nights beside you, did you think I would not figure it out? But what would a little bird want with my tunic?"

Sansa's felt as though her cheeks were aflame, her palms became sweaty, and his rasping voice sent shivers through her that did not go unnoticed. He grabbed her arm firmly then, though not ungently, and pulled her close, tilting her blushing face up toward his.

Sansa wrenched back her arm, and stepped back. He had known all this time, and she did not know how to respond back to him. Confused, and embarrassed, she turned and ran towards the stable doors. She pulled and pulled at the door, struggling to open it. 'The wind must have lodged it shut.' She yanked again, but to no avail. Sandor stepped up behind her and she felt his hands stilling her arms, and pulling her back into his chest. She tensed up against him when she felt his breath on her neck. A rush of goosebumps ran down her arms and she trembled against him.

"Little Bird," Sandor murmured into her ear, "You need to 'push' the door open if you want to flee."

Sansa's shoulders slumped in defeat and she turned back to look up at him. He had a strange look in his eyes, a look that could almost be described as love, but now she wondered if one such as him could be capable of such a look. She stared questioningly up at him. 'What?'

"I will never be a pretty lord, Little Bird," he said looking down at her, and turning his scars towards her face as if to challenge her. "I won't sing you a nice song, either. Is this what you truly want?" He asked with his voice hoarser that usual. "You could have any man and he would truly be the lucky one to have you, but I am not the man you want."

Sansa turned into his arms and rested her hands on his shoulders. She gently ran her fingertips down, tracing along the seams of his tunic, until she settled her hands upon his chest. "I do want you. I choose you." Again, she could feel the tears building up, and looked deeply into his eyes, his eyes that once were full of rage when she was but a girl, and it had frightened her, but this time, she felt hope when she looked upon him. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders once again, and rested his heavy brow against her forehead. Sansa's lip quivered, "I don't want anyone else, Sandor," she whispered softly, cupping his jaw. "Only you. Please, stay. Be mine."

The quiet between seemed to be amplified by the music from the Great Hall as it echoed faintly around them. Sansa looked up into his eyes, with his brow still resting against hers, feeling him start to sway her gently. He shuffled his feet, back and forth, in no particular fashion, while his hard look softened, and he caressed his hand down, resting at the curve at small of her back. Sansa's eyes widened just then. 'He is trying to dance with me,' She realized. 'He is unsure of his movements, but he is trying...for me.'

Sandor said not a word, but only held her tighter. Sansa found she could hardly move in his grasp, even if she wanted to, but in this moment, she did not. Sansa leaned into him, raised her slender arms to place them around his neck, and savoured the feel of her body pressed to his. Just then, Sandor, halted his movements. She looked to him, puzzled at first, but that soon gave way to a feel of a thousand butterflies in her belly. His breath quickened, she noticed, and with half-lidded eyes, Sandor tilted his head and, almost softly, brushed his rough lips against hers. Her eyes fluttered closed and she waited for more.

Moments seemed to pass and she opened her eyes.

Sandor was staring down at her, his eyes lingering her lips. She noticed he was breathing heavily, his ruined mouth slightly parted, and though his face was terrible, it seemed to relax. Sansa felt anxious and happy and slightly overwhelmed, all at the same time, and whether or not Sandor felt the same, she could not say for certain, but when she felt his hand caressing up and down her back, even then she noticed, that they were trembling.

She brushed the hair out of his eye, but the movement stilled his hands, and he took a step back from her. She was about to protest, to tell him not to run away, but he paused, and regarded her lips again. He swiftly placed his hands on each side of her face, and she felt the pad of his thumbs lightly caressing her cheeks, his fingers entwining themselves in her hair, and before she knew what to do, he bent down and kissed her, firm and deep.

Surprised, Sansa clutched at the sleeves of his tunic tightly, his strength and smell engulfed her senses, and she instinctively parted her lips against his. He was just about to pull away again, she sensed, but in the second he felt her tongue, his ruined lips descended hastily upon hers again. She felt his tongue flick over hers, and it had awakened something in Sansa, prompting her to rise up on her tip toes and wrap her arms tighter around his neck. She opened her mouth wider, her teeth accidentally crashing against his. He chuckled, and pulled back slightly, most likely noticing her lack of experience, she figured, and traced his thumb over her bottom lip. She could hear him growl, almost possessively as he nuzzled her ear. Sansa tipped her head to the side, welcoming the feel of his hooked nose brushing across the soft and tender skin below her earlobe, and relished in the feel of his lips as he gently nipped at her pulse point, eliciting a moan from deep within her.

Sandor snapped his head back and stared down at her, a look in his eyes that scared and excited her. She shivered at that, but whether it was from Sandor or the wind that blew cold drafts through the door, she did not know. Sandor seemed to noticed, and he pulled off his cloak and draped it over her shoulders.

"I'll marry you little bird, I won't be asking for permission from anyone though. Might be yours is all I need, if this is what you truly want." He cupped her face again and leaned in closer to say something. Sansa smiled, as she pressed herself closer in turn. The feel of his lips, so close to hers, was intoxicating.

"Besides," he murmured against her mouth, his voice husky and low, "I would be doing the honourable thing in saving a mans life and all."

Sansa looked up questioningly at him. "I don't understand. Why would you be saving a man's life?" She asked, a puzzled look upon her face.

"If another man dared to kissed you and you moaned like you just did, I would be forced to act as your shield and kill him." He barked out a loud laugh when he saw the scandalized look in her eyes. "Still want to marry me, little bird?" Sandor pulled his head back and stroked her cheek gently.

Sansa looked at his chest, noticing the outlines of his muscles through his tunic. 'My protector.' She glanced up at him shyly and nodded. "Yes, Sandor, I will still marry you," she said, happily. 'Is he going to kiss me again?' He bent down and this time he hungrily devoured her mouth, the strength in his kiss leaving her weak in the knees. He broke the kiss, eventually, and smiled his crooked smile, but it faded quickly, and Sandor quieted with a look of complete honesty and raw vulnerability that shot right to her soul.

"I don't know any beautiful words to say to you," he whispered with a soft rasp, "except... that I love you. Might be I've loved you for many years, but dared not to believe that you would ever love me, too. I am not an easy man, Sansa," he stated simply, "I never will be. I am who I am." She noticed the familiar twitch of his mouth, and how his jaw clenched tightly, looking almost as if waiting for her to reject him.

Sansa smiled brightly at him. 'Finally.' She stood up on her toes and pulled his face down to hers and softly kissed him, her heart so full, that it brought tears to her eyes. She placed a tender kiss on the ruined part of his mouth, and kissed him down his neck. Small, sweet kisses only for him. Sandor tilted her head and placed a chaste kiss on her lips, wrapping his arms around her once again and breathed deeply into her hair, his fingertips gently caressing the tips of auburn curls that grazed his arms and hands.

Sandor pulled away and looked her up and down, his hands gently rubbing down both her arms. Sansa blushed deeply. Not so much from the appraised look he gave her, but from the words he said when he leaned down and whispered into her ear. 'I'll be wanting to see my tunic on you, when I give you my favour, Little Bird.'