Sandor Clegane unlocked his door and stepped inside his chamber. He could hear the faint sound of moaning as he locked the door back up and turned around to see the songbird on his bed.
He had taken her to his chamber after having to bear witness to her flogging. He had removed her tattered dress, leaving her only in her thin, white petticoat. Her back had been slashed open, leaving a bloody mess. Sandor had gotten the cleanest rag he could find and washed her back as she lay unconscious on his mattress. He had sought out Grand Maester Pycelle and purchase milk of the poppy, dressings, and a healing salve from him. After applying the salve to her back, Sandor had all but forced the milk of the poppy down her throat and left her to attend to his duties.
Though he wasn't a knight, Sandor had been inducted into the Kingsguard. Joffrey and his mother had removed Lord Commander Barristan Selmy, replacing him with Jaime Lannister—even though the man was still in the Riverlands—and so had replaced the bloody Kingslayer with the bloody Hound. Selmy, enraged that he had been let go before his death, as per the vows, refused the keep and servants he had been offered. He had removed his armor and thrown his sword to the ground, telling Joffrey to add it to the throne.
Sandor walked over to the girl on his bed and removed the dressing on her back to avoid her skin healing over the fabric. He made sure the angry cuts on her back were not infected before taking off his armored gloves and reapplying the salve.
He glanced down at her. Her right cheek was against the pillow, her left side out to the open. Her eye was barely open and her lips were slowly moving, though no other sound had escaped.
"Rest, girl," Sandor told her quietly.
Sandor wiped the excess ointment on the clean side of the old dressing and reached over to his bedside table to grab the vial of white liquid. "Drink," he said, angling her head so he could pour it into her mouth.
She moaned again, her heavily-lidded eye closing. A lock of her brown hair fell over her forehead and Sandor pushed it away, his fingers dragging across her soft, smooth skin. Her lips were still moving, only much slower.
"Ar…ya," she managed to sound out before the milk of the poppy took over her.
Sandor shook his head and grabbed a new bandage, a wide piece of fabric. Stupid girl, not screaming, he thought as he laid it over the thirteen slashes across her back, three more than she had been sentenced. Stupid, brave girl.
He tucked the edges of the new dressing under her front, feeling the bare skin of her stomach. It had been a long time since he had felt the skin of a woman. But he removed his hands quickly. He would not take advantage of the songbird.
Sandor straightened up and noticed the dark rings around both of her arms as they lay by her sides. Bruises he had left when he grabbed her. "You won't hurt me," she had said to him so many times. Gods, he had hoped she was right.
Try as he might, Sandor could not get the sound of Trant's whip cracking out of his head. That and her bloodcurdling screams that had followed until her body crumpled to the floor, a bloody, broken mess. He had heard many screams in his time, but nothing had compared to what he had heard in the queen's chamber—save for maybe the sound of his own cries at the hand of his brother so long ago.
Gritting his teeth, Sandor stepped back from the mattress and stole one last look at the sleeping girl. Her face had been contorted, but was softening as the milk of the poppy continued to work its way through her body. He didn't leave his chamber until the wrinkle between her eyebrows smoothed out and her frown spread itself into a straight line.
My eyes snapped open. I looked for the source of the sound in the darkness. My heart was pounding in panic until realization set it. It was only a dream, I told myself. Feeling thirsty, I tried to push myself off of the mattress I was laying on, but my arms felt like they were made of lead. In fact, my whole body felt like it was made of lead.
I hissed through my teeth when the pain shot through my body. My eyes watered and I grimaced, feeling the wrath of all thirteen lashes against my back at once. I saw Cersei smirking down at me as Meryn Trant exacted the punishment she had laid out for me.
I gasped as soon as I felt the motion beside me. Someone was laying down on the bed with me. Whoever it was, they grabbed onto my wrist with their large, rough hand, squeezing tightly. Panicked yet again, I tried to scoot my body away from this person, but I could hardly move myself at all between the heaviness and the pain.
"Please don't hurt me," I whimpered, my voice rusty.
The hand on my wrist hesitated for a moment, then loosened, then let go altogether.
"I won't hurt you, girl," a deep, raspy voice murmured.
"S-Sandor? Is that you?" I choked out, unable to see anything in the pitch blackness. "P-Please tell me it's you."
The man beside me was quiet, but I could feel him trying to stare at me. Then I heard a shuffling sound and felt the mattress shift. Big feet touched the stone floor and took a step away. A curtain was pushed to the side, letting moonlight pour in through the window.
I could see the tall man now, standing before the window, bare-chested and powerful. Though he was half-shrouded in darkness, I could see his eyes on me, and I started to feel much calmer.
"Aye, it's me," said the figure bathed in the ray of cold light. "No need to be afraid, girl. I won't hurt you."
"I know you won't," I whispered, a bitter smile cracking my lips. "Forgive me, I woke you."
"Wasn't asleep," Sandor shrugged, coming back to the bed. "Was beginning to think you'd never wake, though." He sat down on his side of the mattress and eased himself down to lay on his back, his hands folded over his stomach.
"How long have I…?"
"Day and a half," he told me, resting his chin on his shoulder to look at me.
"Has anyone found Arya?" I asked.
"No, not yet."
"And Sansa…is she safe?"
"The little bird is locked in her cage."
I furrowed my brow, but didn't press the matter.
"What of Ned Stark?"
"In the dungeons. Hasn't confessed yet."
A thick silence fell over us and I tried my hardest to move my left hand up to my face to wipe at the tears threatening to fall. My hand slid slowly across the rough sheet underneath me, finally lifting up to touch my cheek.
"Yer back?" Sandor asked.
"It hurts," I told him, rubbing at my eye. "But not as much as it did before."
"Good," he leaned his head back against his pillow. "Means I'll get my room back to myself soon."
"You're keeping me in your room?" I asked.
"Safest place for yeh to recover," he sighed, closing his eyes. "Go back to sleep."
More silent tears fell down my cheeks as I stared at the moonlight lining his profile. I couldn't believe that he cared enough to do this for me. For Fallon of Flea Bottom. I was no one—not a lady, not a princess, not a queen. I should have been nothing to him. And yet he had done me another selfless kindness.
"Seven save you, Sandor Clegane," I whispered.
"Seven save you, Sandor Clegane," she had said to him when she thought he couldn't hear her.
She'd said it to him once before, the night she let Thoros of fucking Myr get her drunk and send her to his chamber. But it didn't have the same weight as the tearful whisper did. She had meant it with every fiber of her being. She truly was thankful for him, and it was hard for him to get used to. Most people were apt to be thankful when he was gone, rather than when he was around. But Fallon wasn't most people, was she?
"Seven save you, Sandor Clegane." The words had been in his head all day, from the time he pulled himself out of his bed, to the time he reluctantly recited his Kingsguard vows, to the time he was fitted for his new golden armor, to the time he sauntered back to his chambers for the night.
He unlocked the door, as he had taken to locking it while Fallon convalesced, and found the songbird standing at the window. She had wrapped herself in a dark cloak that Sandor recognized as his own.
"I hope you don't mind. I needed to cover myself up," Fallon turned around, a guilty look in her eyes as she hugged the cloak closer to herself.
Sandor stared at her and started taking his armor off. He watched her gulp and turn back around, showing him the back of her shaggy head. Trant was no barber, Sandor couldn't help thinking. Moments later, he put his armor outside of his door and locked it, stepping over to girl in his cloak.
"Yer back?" he asked again.
"The pain has eased significantly," Fallon responded, pivoting to make eye contact with him. "I cannot thank you enough for taking such care of me."
Sandor took a deep breath. "Let me see."
Fallon nodded slowly and turned around, lowering the cloak. Sandor looked at the lacerations and noted how they seemed to continue to heal well. He stalked over to the chest at the foot of his mattress and opened it, grabbing a clean, tan-colored tunic. He returned to Fallon, who had turned around, the cloak around her shoulders again.
"Here," he said, thrusting the tunic towards her.
"Thank you," she replied, carefully reaching out to take it from him.
Sandor went to sit on his bed and took off his boots. Out of his peripheral vision he could see Fallon turn her back to him and drop the cloak to the floor, leaving her only in her petticoat, until she threw his tunic on. It was far too big for her, hanging almost to her knees.
"What happened?" she asked, walking over to him.
"Yer wolf lord stuck his snout where it didn't belong," Sandor told her as she stood across from him. "Said the kingdom belongs to Robert's brother."
"Stannis?" Fallon cocked a brow.
"Aye," Sandor nodded.
Sandor reached out and grabbed her forearms, pulling her closer. She gasped and stared at him with wide-eyes.
"Don't be asking foolish questions like that or yeh'll wish the queen had yeh killed in the purge," he hissed through his teeth.
Fallon bobbed her head silently, her eyes slowly shrinking back to normal. Her lips parted, as if she was going to say something, but no words escaped her mouth.
"Yer wolf girl hasn't been found yet," Sandor remarked, assuming that's what she would have asked about. "If she has any sense left in her, she'll stay hidden."
"She's smarter than anyone gives her credit for," Fallon murmured, looking down at her arms where Sandor was still holding onto her.
He knew he should have let go of her by now, but there was something in him that wouldn't entertain the notion. She was the only good thing in his life. She was the only person who seemed to give two fucks about him. The only person who saw through his grumpy-at-best exterior.
But she was too good for him. With her striking eyes and her porcelain skin, she was quite beautiful—even after her long hair had been chopped. Sure, she had her own damage, what with her shit of a father, but she had managed to grow up well-adjusted. She hadn't steeled herself to the world around her. She was lucky in that way. Lucky or very stupid.
"That nance you were running with," Sandor said, breaking the silence between them. "He the one yeh're betrothed to?"
Fallon's eyes snapped up to him. Her lips were in a tight line. "I'm not marrying him," she said. "Not for a thousand Gold Dragons."
"He's a pretty boy," Sandor smirked, trying to get under her skin yet again.
"Yes, Sterlan is very pretty," Fallon bounced her eyebrows. "But, as I've already told you, I don't much care for looks." She pulled her arms back, letting his hands slide down until she could grab onto his hands, interlocking her fingers with his.
"The hell are you doing?" he asked.
"I wanted to thank you…again," Fallon said in a soft voice, staring at him with something in her eyes he had never seen before. "Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for making sure I was safe during the…"
Sandor looked at the woman standing between his knees. He didn't know quite what to say, so he just stared into her piercing gray-green eyes. He watched as one of her hands released itself from his and raised itself to the scarred side of his face. His body involuntarily tensed up, but this time he didn't do anything to stop her.
"May I?" she breathed, as if unsure she should even dare.
Sandor nodded once and watched as her hand slowly came closer to his scar. He shut his eyes when the soft skin of her palm finally made contact, her other hand resting on his shoulder. He could feel her shaky breath on his face and, without thinking, he put both of his hands on her hips. Fallon twitched, but then she leaned forward, letting him know it was okay for him to touch her.
He gritted his teeth as Fallon's fingers traced the warped flesh on the right side of his forehead. It had been decades since his brother shoved his face to the fire, but he remembered it like it happened just this day. The pain was excruciating. And sometimes he could still feel it.
"Thank you," Fallon whispered.
Sandor opened his eyes and saw how close her face was to his. She hesitated for a moment, then put both of her hands on his cheeks.
"The hell are you doing?" he repeated himself.
Fallon looked at him and gave him a sheepish smile. Then she leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. Pulling back, she placed her forehead against his.
Sandor couldn't even begin to understand why she had done this. It was like the dwarf had said to him back in Winterfell— "As if something so fine could ever love a hound like you." But there she was, standing before him, holding his ugly, marred face in her hands, leaning in to kiss him once more.
"Yeh don't want this," Sandor reclined his head back. "You can do much better than me, girl."
Fallon looked hurt. Her eyes searched his as she shook her head. "I can't," she whispered. "I don't want to be with a pretty boy like Sterlan. I want to be with someone who makes me feel safe. I want to be with someone who cares about me. I want to be with someone strong and powerful and… I want you, Sandor. I truly do."
For once in his life, Sandor had felt loved by another. It was a strange feeling, an uncomfortable feeling, but not an unwelcome feeling.
Against his better judgment, Sandor pulled her closer to him and crashed his lips against her. His fingers knotted in the tunic he had given her. He felt her wrap her arms around his neck, passionately kissing him back unlike anyone had before.
After a moment, Fallon separated from him and sat down on his thigh. She rested her head against his chest and breathed in rhythm with him. He put one hand on her hip furthest away from him and put the other on the side of her thigh, cradling her to him as best he could without touching her back.
"You're all I have here, Sandor," she said quietly against his heart. "I am yours and you are mine."
P.S. Sorry if I got your hopes up about posting this the other day, haha. Life got in the way. But here it is now! I hope you enjoy it! Thank you, as always, for all of your kind reviews! They really make my day!