The cheering, the sloshing of ales, the general merriment, it had gone on for hours. Arya - the savior of Winterfell, slayer of the Night King, war hero - was nowhere to be found. This did not surprise Sansa. The tall, lean girl kept to the corner of the audience chamber, which had been filled to bursting with every table in Winterfell that hadn't been destroyed the night before. No, her sister Arya would not be among the celebrations. Sansa did not know the truth of where Arya had been these past few years, just as her sister could not understand what Sansa had been through, but it was no surprise that the younger of the two was absent. Something had changed in her over the years and Sansa had noted her younger sister very much disliked crowds.

Sansa, however, ached for her sister's support. The two had not been close as children, but were the closest now of what remained of the Starks. Jon, albeit not a Stark, was so vilely smitten with the Dragon Queen that he could scarcely be said to have his head on his shoulders. And Bran...was Bran. Perhaps her younger brother had the most dramatic changes out of the lot of them, though the changes were quietly accepted by them all. Bran would be whatever he was and the little boy, laughing merrily and climbing all about Winterfell, would never be again. No, what Sansa wanted was her sister. The wildlings were all gathered around Jon, laughing, hooting, and guzzling ale. The Dragon Queen watched with slight amusement, though the distrustful ache in Sansa's stomach told her she was displeased. Tyrion was busy with the Kingslayer and Brienne - or Ser Brienne, she should say now. At some point after the battle and before the celebrations, Brienne had informed Sansa, most modestly, that she had been knighted on the eve of battle, though the grin on her face begged to show.

If Arya were there, she would have someone to talk to. A silly thought, really, as the room was filled with people to speak with. But Sansa found comfort in her sister as she hadn't when she was small. There were few people the Starks could trust, truly, even in the aftermath of victory.

Her eyes settled on Sandor Clegane. For awhile, she only watched him, the grimace of his face and the taut nature of his scars. His shoulders were drawn in slightly, his body leant toward the table, face aimed into his mug of ale. Though she had been aware of his arrival at Winterfell, it was the first time she properly saw him. The Hound was still as tall and broad as she recalled - so it hadn't been her childish stature that made him seem so large all those years ago. Though she was tall herself now, she could see even from him sitting that he would tower over her when standing face-to-face.

The thought brought a creep of heat up Sansa's neck. There had been a time when she was afraid of him, yes, but those days had gone with her childhood. There was that night, when the Blackwater lit her chambers with bursts of green. She hadn't expected him in her bed chambers, nor, it appeared, had he expected her. Still, years later, she wondered why he'd gone there of all places - she was tucked away safely with the other women and children while the Battle of Blackwater Bay raged in the harbor. He'd asked her to go with him after she'd appeared, but that couldn't have been why he was there, there would have been no reason for her to be there. Sansa had run off from safety to avoid the Queen's suffocating and cutting remarks.

Sometimes, while traveling with Littlefinger after fleeing King's Landing, Sansa would lay in bed at night and Sandor Clegane would be her only outlet from the crumbling world around her.

Why had he gone to her room if he hadn't expected her to be there? Some fanciful part of Sansa figured perhaps he wanted to be close to her one last time before fleeing. The hardness of the world had not taken away her hope that somethings really were just like in the songs. And he'd taken a song from her, hadn't he? There'd been no use for the knife at her throat, though she had been afraid. No, Sansa might be a slow learner, but by the Battle of Blackwater Bay, she'd caught on to Clegane's sideways glances, the way he masked his protection of her with his horrid temper. She would have sung for him without the knife. Even with a knife to her throat, Sansa knew he was the one who treated her best of all in King's Landing. But, she'd panicked when he'd asked her to go, thought perhaps it was a trick, so he'd kissed her and she felt his tears, then he dropped his bloody cloak on her and was gone. Had he waited perhaps a quarter hour, given her time to think, she would have surely gone with him. But that was not the path they were to take.

Sansa saw Brienne stand stiffly, walking past the wildling Tormund. Jaime Lannister stood as she passed, put a hand to Tormund's chest with an apologetic smile, and turned to follow Brienne.

This dismayed Sansa greatly. Though he had proven himself in the prior evening's battle, there was no part of Sansa that could trust the Kingslayer. A small piece of her, neatly tucked away for none to see, hoped that Brienne would see the value in Tormund Giantsbane. A younger Sansa would have shuddered at the thought, but at her current age and experience, Sansa could appreciate a man attracted to a woman who could do a man's job - and better. This attraction was so unseen in the Seven Kingdoms that Brienne often hadn't known how to react to his advances.

Sansa's eyes followed Tormund, feeling quite sorry for him. He looked near tears. The large man grabbed two ales from the serving ladies and fisted one in each hand. He sat next to Clegane, Sansa's eyes flicking over to the burned face once more before back to the wildling, and watched as Tormund downed one of the ales in one go. Most of it, anyway. It seemed nearly half sprung out from his mouth and soaked down into his wild ginger beard.

Tormund said something to Clegane, then leaned in and clapped his shoulder. The Hound twisted away, his face tight, and muttered something under his breath with his eyes still firmly planted on the mug of ale before him.

Something caught Tormund's attention and he looked around the Hound. Sansa looked too, finding with some dismay that two unfamiliar girls, surely tavern wenches with their dress, had their eyes on Tormund and the Hound.

The latter bothered her, though it did not show on her face. One of the girls went to Tormund who accepted her with open arms. Over the loud ruckus that filled the room, Sansa heard him proclaim something about drowning his sorrows. Perhaps she didn't feel so bad for Tormund afterall.

Clegane said something, prompting Tormund and the girl's exit. The other girl, however, lingered. She stood and strode over to the Hound, boldly taking a seat next to him. Sansa bristled. The Lady of Winterfell stood still as a statue, her breath hitched in her throat. The girl leaned over Clegane and said something to him and in response he turned suddenly and leered at her, a menacing growl bleeding from his throat.

A smirk tugged the corner of Sansa's mouth. She was glad to see the girl make a hurried exit.

Once more Clegane was alone, much like her. It struck Sansa then, as she stood off to the side of the celebrations alone and watching, that perhaps she had been a pupil of Littlefinger for too long. The thought tossed her stomach and, without thought in the manner, Sansa stepped away from her perch and went to the Hound, taking a seat across from him. There was a knot in her throat the size of the Vale.

"She could have made you happy," she said, staring at him. There were no pleasantries exchanged. "For a little while."

The Hound only looked up at her for a moment before giving a slight shake to his head. He glowered. "There's only one thing that would make me happy," he said.

"What's that?"

"That's my fucking business," he said in a harsh tone, staring at the table between them. Perhaps he expected her to scare as easily as the tavern wench. She did not. Sansa stared at him, willing him to look up at her. Finally he did - slowly, almost unsure.

"Used to be you couldn't look at me," he said, voice a low grumble. Yes, there was a time when she was afraid. Not anymore.

A small smile played on Sansa's mouth, though her voice was cool. "That was a long time ago," she said. "I've seen much worse than you since then." She would not allow him to frighten her.

"Yes, I've heard," he said, leaning toward her slightly. The heat crept up Sansa's neck once more at the movement. "I heard you were broken in," he said, then paused. It seemed he was considering his words. They were crude, but true. His eyes didn't leave her now, as if he wished she would tell him what he was about to say was not true. "I heard you were broken in rough."

Any ghost of a smile had all but fled Sansa's face. Her shoulders had stiffened. Was he taunting her? Making her out to be some wild animal, needing to be broken and tamed? No, she surmised quickly. Clegane spoke roughly, this was true. But the way he looked at her then, almost into her, told her this was no jest.

"And he got what he deserved," she clipped. "I gave it to him."

"How?" he asked quickly, still leaned toward her. The smile was more evident on Sansa's face now. She could feel it and did nothing to hide it.


You could hear her smile even in the word. The Hound gave a quick laugh and took another drink of his ale. "You've changed, little bird," he said. The smile faded from Sansa's face. It was then that she finally let her eyes fall from him, but now Clegane's eyes bored into her with more intensity than before. "None of it would have happened if you'd left King's Landing with me," he said, an almost...sad note in his tone. "No Littlefinger. No Ramsay. None of it."

Sansa felt her heartbeat in her throat. No, she had never forgotten that night and it seemed neither had he. She eyed him for a moment, a strange tingling in her fingers. There was a sudden urge to reach out to him and Sansa did not deny herself. She reached her hand out and laid it atop his, running her thumb along the rough skin of his knuckles.

Clegane looked down at their hands and quickly ducked his head. She felt his fist clench beneath her hand. He seemed to swallow thickly, then forced his eyes back up to her. "Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest," she said, never once looking away from him, "I would have stayed a little bird all my life."

Sansa stood then, her heart pounding in her throat. She looked at him - unwavering - and then stepped away. Her chambers. She was done with this party, done with the merriment and noise. The conversation with Clegane left her wanting in a way she had never wanted for either of her Lord husbands. Walking down the long aisle between tables, she stopped a serving girl and relieved her of two flagons of honeyed mead. Sansa turned then, a flagon in each hand, and stared at the Hound from across the chamber. He was staring off toward the wall behind where she'd just sat, looking thoughtful. Like a mummer's puppet, she willed him to look at her and, sensing her eyes on him, he did. Sansa stood still for a moment. Each heartbeat seemed to pound and echo through her chest clear down to her fingers. Clegane did not look away, he was as still as her. Slowly, she lifted the flagons a few inches, as if to say she got them drinks. Then, she turned and made her way through the door into the corridor.

Men had only ever been thrust upon her - first Joffrey, then Tyrion and Littlefinger, finally Ramsay. Never had Sansa wanted them, except for Joffrey in the beginning and that had been the wanting of a girl. Never had she truly had a choice in her consorts. And she was no little bird any longer, she was a woman grown. Ramsay was the only one she had truly known in the sense of the word and that thought often infuriated her. He was the first and last to touch her.

A shadow swelled in the doorway, blocking the light from the corridor. She looked up and saw him, towering over her, his face stoic but eyes unsure.

"There are too many people there," she said, sure her excuse sounded lame in his ears. The Hound merely grunted in return and followed as she started off toward her chambers. As the festivities were still going strong, the two of them did not cross a single person on the trek. They were silent.

"Here," Sansa finally said, motioning toward her chamber door. Clegane stood awkwardly for a moment, then realized she meant for him to open the door as her hands were filled with the flagons.

He cleared his throat. "Right," he muttered, opening the door to a room lit only by a low-burning fireplace.

"Damn," she said. "Fire's nearly gone out. Could you -," she stopped. "Forgive me, that was thoughtless." Of course she couldn't ask him to tend the fire. She'd seen the fear burning his eyes the night of the Blackwater.

It seemed Clegane was only capable of grunting in reply. Sansa hurriedly placed the flagons on her table amongst the papers and correspondences of the North, and went to tend the fire. It took a few moments, but she was able to build the flames up to a modest height - enough to warm and light the room, but small so not to make him uncomfortable. When she stood and turned back to him, she noted - although did not comment on - the fact that he'd closed her chamber door behind them.

"What in seven hells have you brought me here for?" he said, almost angry, though there was self-loathing in his eyes. Sansa thought, perhaps, he didn't think himself worthy of being there. She pursed her lips.

"This isn't the first time you've come to my bed chambers," she said cooly, then motioned him to take a seat as she cleared the papers and laid them on the small desk, where they truly belonged.

Sandor was quiet, but took the seat she offered him. Sansa took the seat opposite him and slid a flagon across the rough wood tabletop toward him.

"No," he finally said, all trace of anger gone from his voice. His eyes only glanced up at her quickly, as if to make sure she was truly there and not an apparition, then he looked down to the flagon. "No, it's not." It wasn't only self-loathing in his eyes, Sansa thought. It was guilt.

"And there were many more times than you knew," she said, the coolness gone from her voice now. Sansa leaned toward him, as he had leaned toward her out in the audience chamber. The drink had emboldened her. "You were in my bed chambers many nights, once I was forced to flee with Littlefinger," she admitted. "Many nights when you were my only escape from the world around me."

"Little bird," he started to say, but Sansa interrupted him.

"I am not a little bird any longer, I have told you that," she said sternly. He would not look at her, but instead down at the flagon in his hand. "I am a woman grown."

Even that did not prompt a response out of him. Sansa thought perhaps this was a mistake, that she had been wrong, that she would surely make a fool out of herself.

"How is it," she said, a slight lace of venom in her mouth, "- that the Hound has become afraid of the bird. Now it is you who will not look at me."

This seemed to unnerve him, prying Clegane from his silence and awaking the anger behind his eyes. "Do you know what they would say about you?" he spit, mouth twisted in a snarl. "I shouldn't even be here."

Sansa studied him. "And what would they had said," she started slowly, eyes unmoving from him. He looked back at her, his own full of guilt, loathing, and...longing. "- had I let you steal me away in the night, while the fires raged around us?"

To that he had no answer. Sansa softened, fingers tracing the intricate carvings on the flagon. "I should have gone with you," she admitted. "I often wished I had. I was afraid."

"Why didn't you?" he asked. It seemed he forgot his gruff manner for a moment, a slight sadness in his words, perhaps even disappointment.

"I panicked," she said, chest tightening as she recalled the pure terror of that evening. "I thought maybe it was a trick. It wasn't until they noticed your absence that I realized you'd been true. I cried myself to sleep for nearly a fortnight after you'd gone."

The Hound hummed a noise, watching her trace the lines of the flagon, her eyes averted. "Look at me, little bird," he said and this time she had no protest to the name. All of her earlier steel was gone, as was the mask she held over her face. Sansa looked up at him and Sandor saw that she looked miserable remembering her time in King's Landing.

"You made it out, didn't you?" he said, the deep notes of his voice making that damnable heat crawl back up her neck.

"I did not cry because I was there," she said, that longing for him growing ever steady. "I cried because you were not."

A breath huffed out of him then, shocked and unsure. "Little bird," he said, then corrected himself. "Sansa, I -"

But she did not give him time to answer. Sansa stood then and in two steps was around the wooden table, her flagon forgotten behind. She leant down and kissed him. It was as she remembered before, only without his blood and tears on her lips. Clegane stiffened under her, but made no move to pull away. And after a moment - a long moment where Sansa thought surely she would be made a fool afterall - he slid his hand beneath her hair to the back of her neck and pulled her nearer.

It seemed it could have been minutes or hours that she leaned over him like that, the kiss deep and wanting. When Sansa finally pulled back for a gasp of breath, his chair scraped against the floor as he stood to follow her up. For a moment, she was afraid again, as she had been of him as a child. He still towered over her, looming and face hard. All traces of his earlier guilt and loathing were gone, replaced only with want.

"Sansa," he said lowly, a warning. Gods, she loved the sound of her name on his lips, a low growl of promise. She looked up at him, face flushed and her breathing a mere pant.

"Sandor," she replied. There was a small smile quirked on her mouth. Though she couldn't be for certain, she thought it was the first time she called him by name. Sansa's eyes were lidded, her lips swollen, the heat between her thighs unimaginable.

He stepped toward her, a predator. It was not missed by Sansa that toward her was also toward her bed. She took a step backward, closer to the feather mattress, though never turned from him. Sandor was a giant, matching each of her steps backward with one of his own. "I'm not a good man," he said roughly, eyes alight as the backs of her thighs met the mattress. His words were trying to dissuade her, but his body against hers said otherwise.

"I have not brought you here for good things," she said, staring up at him.

Sandor cupped the curve of her jaw, his thumb running up over the corner of her mouth. He was battling with himself, she could see it in his eyes. "I'm not one of your gallant knights," he said, tone rough. "If you ask me to stop, I won't."

Yes, he would, Sansa thought. "I won't ask you to stop," she whispered.

That earned a low growl. Sandor's hands left her jaw, moving to the thick chain around her neck. He pulled it over her head and tossed it unceremoniously to the floor. "Turn around," he bossed, tone nearing on irritated, and she did. Sansa's heart pounded in her throat. He started at the laces on the back of her dress, but it was a struggle. "Damn to the seven hells whoever made this dress," he said, gravel thick in his voice, but the laces gave and the dress slid down over her arms.

"I made this dress," Sansa said, keeping her back to him and removing the dress. When she stood only in her smallclothes, she turned to him.

Sandor leaned in close to her. She could feel the tightness of his breeches pressed against her belly and it made the heat between her thighs nearly explode. "I want to see all of you," he said lowly, speaking of her remaining smallclothes. Sansa could barely handle the heat or the need that burned inside her. She did as he asked and removed what clothing she had left, bearing herself naked before him.

Sandor stepped back from her and hurriedly pulled his shirt over his head, exposing a broad chest covered in fine, dark hairs. He looked at her then, the creaminess of her skin and the dark red curls between her legs. Sansa thought he looked like a man might look who wanted something deeply, but could not have it.

"Please don't make me wait any longer," she said, the words throaty and begging. It was the first time she'd ever said anything of the sort and despite the begging, there was power in her words. She'd been married twice, but only truly known her second husband in the marriage bed. It had been no choice of hers and there was no wanting on her part. Fear was all she had known with Ramsay. This was different. Sansa wanted Sandor. Her eyes, lidded and dark-pupiled, told him as much.

The Hound did not make her wait. He closed the space between them with one long stride and his arms wound around her, his mouth finding hers once more. Sandor's chest was warm against her bare breasts and Sansa's hands felt out for any contact she could make with his shoulders, feeling the occasional scar marking the expanse of his skin.

The two fell backward, or perhaps he lifted her onto the bed, Sansa could not think clearly enough to know which. But she was on the feather mattress and he was on top of her, breaking the kiss only to pull back enough to look down at her body.

Sansa felt no shame, not even in the tightness of his breeches now pressed at the space between her thighs. She pushed her feet into the mattress and ground against him, a small noise of pleasure mewling in her throat and one growling out of his.

Sandor admired her from above, all shame and guilt gone from his expression. Only lust was left. He studied her, the way her breasts rose and fell with her pants of breath, the thick curls at the apex of her thighs. Then back up to her face, where she stared at him with nothing but want.

"Please," she whispered, voice tight. Sansa had never felt as she had then. She'd never felt the thick coil tightening inside her, nor the heat that ravaged her. It was all consuming.

Sandor reached down and untied his breeches, pulling himself free from their constraint. She could not see, but she felt his warm flesh hard against the inside of her thigh.

"Sansa," he said, still battling with himself. He wanted her, this she knew - the evidence of it was pressed against her thigh. But he looked almost in torment.

Sansa's lip quivered and her hand felt it's way to the scars on the side of his face. He did not pull away. Sandor, for those moments when he'd shared a bed with a woman, was not used to the way Sansa was looking at him. Most averted their eyes or let him take them from behind. Not his little bird. His little bird. She looked at him pleading, yes, but also in adoration. Never had a woman looked at him that way.

"Please, Sandor," she whispered, her hand dropping to the crook of his neck. "I need you."

That was all the convincing it took. He rubbed himself against her folds, thinking better of a comment about how slick she already was, and then pressed inside. Sansa made a half-strangled cry, drawing a sharp breath as she adjusted to his size.

"Seven hells," he murmured, watching the way her face twisted in pleased agony. She was tight and slick and his.

"Seven hells," Sansa repeated, a teasing smile on her face despite the heaviness of her eyelids, drowsy with lust.

Sandor drew back and thrust into her again, earning a mewl from her in return. There was a moment as he thought 'I am fucking Sansa Stark' just as she thought 'I am laying with Sandor Clegane' but both of these thoughts fled unremarked to the other. It was an odd feeling for both, dizzying almost, to realize they were getting what they had wanted for so long.

Now inside her, all control was gone. Sansa lost Sandor to the Hound then, but she was not afraid. Each of his thrusts drew out a small moan, growing in intensity and volume until finally he placed a hand over her mouth. "Quiet, girl," he said roughly, never breaking his pace. "Or the whole damn place will know."

The Hound thrust then, hitting such a sweet spot that Sansa thought she might lose consciousness. A loud cry tore from her. "Let them know," she said against his hand, voice no longer hushed. "Let them see, I do not care, just do not stop."

He let out a gravely laugh then and continued his torture on her. The spring inside Sansa felt quite ready to snap. Gods, everything inside her kept building, it was like nothing she had ever felt before. All of her body was hot with the rush of blood and she could feel her back stick to the bed linens, clinging to sweat, despite the cold outside.

He hit the same spot again, wrenching a hard cry from Sansa who dug her head back against the mattress, eyes clenched shut. Her auburn hair spread across the white linens, like blood seeping into the snow.

Over and over he hit that same spot, nearly driving her into madness. The coil wound deep and tight enough inside her that her feet fought against the mattress, toes curling into the linens beneath. Everything was building and he was relentless in his torture and it was Sandor Clegane, gods! She'd thought of this moment so many times and now it was here and better. The coil gave one last tightening shiver before everything mounted, climbing high enough to blind her, and then crashed. Sansa cried out, trembling, unable to mute the long moan that forced its way out as the wave ran through her.

Sandor felt how she tightened around his cock, rhythmic like a heartbeat, and he too lost himself in the pure pleasure of it, grunting and panting as he spilled his seed into her.

When they were done, they lay side by side on the bed, still panting. Little shocks of ecstasy were wrecking through Sansa's body and occasionally she would make small noises of pleasure.

"You'd best stop that, girl," he said gruffly, staring up at the ceiling. "Or you'll have me at it again. Bloody she-wolf."

Sansa turned on her side, facing him, and propped herself up on an elbow. "Then perhaps I'll have to make more noises," she teased. The Hound let out an airy laugh and looked over at her, taking a moment to brush a piece of loose hair behind her ear.

"You're going to leave, aren't you?" she said quietly, the moment suddenly somber. She'd seen it in his face as he looked at her and fiddled with her hair.

"Aye, on the morrow," he said, not meeting her gaze, but instead allowing himself to be entranced by the dancing reds of her hair. It was the only fire he'd never feared. "To King's Landing. And I don't expect I'll be back."

The words stung, but only a little. "What could possibly be in King's Landing for you to stay there?" she said, then pulled away from him as his eyes met her, the meaning of his unsaid words bleeding through his gaze. "You mean to die," she said quietly.

The Hound grunted and turned from her suddenly, staring back up at the ceiling. The bed had gone cold.

"My brother," was all he said.

Sansa's lips pursed. "And there is nothing I can say to dissuade you?" she said. "There are many homes between here and Mole Town and Bear Island that now have no one to care for them. Out away from everyone where you won't be bothered."

The bastard Gendry became a Baratheon and Lord of Storm's End. All she offered Clegane was a small home in the cold. But, she knew him well. Even if she could make him some lord somewhere, he would never want it - would never want the responsibility of it, nor being bothered. Sansa knew that and he knew that she knew. Little bird. Years apart and surely she knew him best of all.

"I have to," he said, offering no more explanation on it. There was no chance in seven hells the girl would understand the rage that simmered beneath the surface, the unending yearning for revenge. There was no point in even trying to explain it.

Sansa pulled the linens over her then to shield herself from the cold. Gooseflesh had erupted over her arms, though from the chill or the conversation it was uncertain. "You could stay at Winterfell," she said quietly, the rest of the sentence unspoken. With me.

Sandor shook his head and sat up in the bed as she was. He rose his hand to cup at the back of her neck, pressing her hair against the cool sweat on her skin.

"I will die there, Sansa," he said, voice grim and eyes searching her. Sandor drew his hand away from her neck and once again began to fiddle with her hair.

"And what if you don't?" she said sharply. "Will you come back?"

"Aye," he said, brushing through her hair with his fingers. "If that's what you want."

"Swear it," Sansa blurted, a sudden need filling her. "Gods know you won't swear oaths to kings or queens, not to the Seven or the old gods, but swear it for me. Swear you will call the North your home."

"I will not live, little bird," he murmured. Sansa's face broke.

"And if you do, then swear it!" she argued.

The Hound sighed and looked for a moment as if he were at his wit's end with a petulant child. Gods, she and her sister were so different, but so alike in so many ways.

"I swear it," he said with a grim note. "For you."

Though she wanted him to say the words, the whole oath, she knew there was no use fighting it. He'd sworn and she knew if he fared well in King's Landing, he would return North. To her.

Sansa nodded in reply, sighing and leaning her cheek against his hand while he played with her hair. "Go to the cook in the morning," she said then, sliding back into her role as the Lady of Winterfell. "Tell her I've said to send you off with what rations you'll need for the trip. The trip down to King's Landing and the trip back. Visit the stables and tell the stableboy to give you one of the destriers that are no doubt left without men to ride them after last night."

Sandor nodded and sighed, knowing their time was coming to a close. "Is there anything else you require?" she continued. "Fresh clothing? Wineskins?"

He murmured so quietly that she didn't catch what he'd said. "What?" she asked, then looked at him. He looked uncomfortable, his ears slightly red.

"Nevermind," he said in a dismissive fashion, his voice a defensive growl.

Sansa cocked her head. "Whatever you could possibly ask of me, I would give to you," she said in earnest. "What is it?"

Sandor looked over her face, making sure there was no jest there. Her curls were still between his fingers. "A lock of your hair," he said quietly, nearly ashamed.

The young girl in Sansa leapt from within her. Oh, it was the most romantic thing that anyone had ever dared to dream! Sandor Clegane, a man of no favors or trinkets, was asking for a lock of her hair! At once she truly did feel like a little bird, an innocent child that hadn't known war or suffering.

"Then it is yours," she said, practically beaming, though fighting a smile very hard. "There is a small dagger in the top drawer of the desk."

Sandor lingered for a moment, releasing her hair and rubbing a thumb over her lips before pulling away and retrieving the dagger. Sansa let the linens drop from around her, warmed now by his request, and crawled to the edge of the bed. He approached with the dagger, slowly, and she was reminded of another time. "Will you demand another song?" she said, a smile perked on her mouth.

Sandor let out a huff of a laugh. "No, little bird, I won't demand a song," he said, fingers once again pulling at her hair. "But I'll take one if you'll give it."

Sansa did. She sang him the Mother's Hymn, as she had during the battle before. Then it had been out of fear, but now it was sang calmly as he sheared a thick lock of her hair and grasped it in his hand. She stood then, the last words of the song dying on her lips, and kissed him goodbye.