Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and elements from A Song of Ice and Fire belong to George R.R. Martin. No copyright infringement is intended.

The only women Sandor Clegane had ever had were whores. Whores didn't care what his face looked like as long as his coin was good. No lady had ever so much as smiled at him. He didn't know how a man gained the favor of a lady save with a handsome face and honeyed lies. His face was horribly scarred and his words were bitter truth. So he tried to bargain with Sansa Stark, offering her the only thing he could give her.

"I could keep you safe..." he offered clumsily. Unspoken was what she would do for him in return, but she understood and she closed her eyes in refusal.

He would have something from her. Dimly he remembered her saying she would sing for him. He'd have the comfort of her singing if he couldn't have the comfort of her body.

"Sing," he said, putting his dagger to her throat, and Joffrey's little bird sang for him. She sang the Mother's hymn, not the love song she'd once offered him.

Mother have mercy indeed. But there was no Mother. He'd learned long ago that there was no god but the Stranger. There was no Fatherly justice, no Motherly mercy, no Maidenly kindness; only death. Why then should he have mercy on her? He had only to pull up her skirts and he could take what he wanted. Do it, he told himself.

But it wasn't spilling her blood and making her cry that he wanted. He wanted her to look at him and to smile. He wanted to feel her arms around him. He wanted her to speak to him with more than courtesy or fear. He knew he couldn't take those things though; they had to be given. And they would never be given to him.

He didn't realize he was crying until he felt her touch his face. Such a sweet girl. He rose from the bed, pausing only to tear the white cloak from his shoulders. He'd become like those knights he despised; he'd worn a symbol of honor while he stood by and let them beat her, while he ran away from the fires of the battle still raging outside.

"I'll go with you," she whispered.

He turned, but it was too dark to see her. He heard her scampering off the bed and moving around. A flash of wildfire lit the room for a moment, allowing him to see her pulling things out of the chest at the foot of her bed. She used the cloak he'd discarded to make a bundle of her things and she put on her own cloak. Then she stood there waiting.

It was too good to be true. But there she was. He strode out of the room without a word to her and her footsteps echoed in his ears as she followed him.

It was easy to steal Joff's little bird. The sellswords were looting and none thought to stop him. He took as much of his gold as his warhorse could carry, and food and wine. And he took a horse from the king's own stable for Sansa. The best ones had already been stolen, but the one he chose was good enough for a long journey.

The guard at one of the Red Keep's rear gates raised the portcullis for him, never thinking to challenge Joffrey's dog. However at the city gate one of the guards babbled about the Hand's orders.

"Bugger that dwarf and bugger you. Open the bloody gate."

The man opened his mouth again. "Ser..."

Sandor took off his head with one cut of his longsword. The dead man's fellows quickly opened the gate without further argument.

He heard the little bird gasp and turned in time to see her mare - a palfrey untrained for battle - shy away from Stranger. Sandor had to grab the animal's reins to make it follow him. He didn't let go until they were well away from King's Landing.

The sun had been up for hours before either of them spoke. Sandor was beginning to sober up and his body needed to rid itself of all the wine he'd consumed. He halted Stranger and climbed down. "If you need to piss, go now," he said.

The girl was blushing as she gracefully dismounted. She crept off in the opposite direction as he pissed against a tree.

When they'd resumed their journey, she said, "Thank you, my lord."

She was always so courteous. He laughed. "For letting you piss?"

"For rescuing me. The queen was going to have Ser Ilyn chop off my head if Lord Stannis won."

He was taking her with him for his own sake, but there was no reason to tell her that. Her gratitude was exactly what he was counting on.

A while later she spoke again. "Shouldn't we ride faster in case they send men after us?"

"They'll expect us to make for Riverrun. They won't be searching on this road."

"Where are we going?"

"Maidenpool." Sandor had decided on that as soon as she'd agreed to go with him. They'd take a ship from Maidenpool to one of the Free Cities or maybe even the Summer Isles; somewhere beyond the Lannisters' reach. She was his little bird now. He had his sword and his horse and his gold - and he had her. He'd make a new life for himself somewhere far away from this wretched realm.

"How long will it take us to reach Winterfell?" she asked.

Of course she would assume they were going North if they weren't going to Riverrun. She had family, her mother and her kingly brother. He could take her to them and they'd take him into their service and maybe even make him a lordling. But they'd wed her to some high lord and she'd be someone else's little bird again.

"I don't know," he told her, and told himself that he wasn't really lying to her. It was that family of hers that gave her to Joff to begin with. And her noble lord father got himself killed instead of protecting her. She'll be better off with me.

When the sun was low in the sky, he stopped for the night. Sansa Stark stood watching as he unsaddled the horses and began to brush Stranger. When Sandor had finished with his horse and started on hers, she stepped forward shyly. "I can do that."

"Have you ever tended a horse before?"

"No, my lord."

He hadn't thought so. But brushing down a horse was simple enough. He handed her the brush and checked the mare's hooves himself, smiling as he wondered if she'd try to braid the animal's mane. That seemed like something she would do.

When it was time to make a fire, Sandor cursed. He could never shake the fear that his hands would catch aflame. He breathed a sigh of relief when the fire was roaring, and sent the little bird to make up her bedding for the night while he fed and watered the horses. Then there was nothing to do but sit and watch her while they ate hard bread and cheese. She looked increasingly uncomfortable. He wondered whether it was the food or him that bothered her so.

Her discomfort turned to downright fear when he offered her wine to wash down the food. She took a few sips and gave the wineskin back to him without ever looking at him. So much for the fantasy that she'd be overcome with gratitude and welcome him into her arms. Of course, it was unlikely she'd object either; not when she was so dependent on him. Sandor drank, thinking how best to get her out of that dress.

She looked even more fearful when he pulled another wineskin out of his saddlebag. Sandor uncorked it and took a long swallow. It was obvious that the little bird was aware of what he wanted to do to her. He wondered if she was already regretting her decision to flee with him. Which was worse, Joffrey's beatings or his touch? The wildfire aflame on Blackwater Bay or his burnt face?

"Sing," he said.

She began to sing.

Sandor settled back against the tree trunk and raised the wineskin to his lips again. She was too tempting in the light of the campfire, so he closed his eyes and just listened. It was the Mother's hymn again, a plea for mercy. The scarred corner of his mouth twitched.

"Sing something else."

She sang "Jenny of Oldstones," her voice trembling.

He opened his eyes. "I'm not going to touch you, girl," he said irritably, though he had made not made up his mind until the words were out of his mouth. Her shoulders slummed as she relaxed, and her voice strengthened.

"Another song, little bird," he said, when she'd finished.

She obeyed him, singing more romantic drivel. Sandor drained the wineskin and shut his eyes and let her soft voice lull him to sleep.

It became their custom. Every night when they made camp, after the horses had been tended and they'd eaten, Sandor would tell Sansa Stark to sing for him. She would relax and stop looking quite so afraid, relieved that songs were all he wanted for one more day.

"Do you know 'The Bear and the Maiden Fair'?" he asked his little songbird one evening.


"Sing that then."

She did as she was told, as she always did.

Sandor laughed suddenly as he considered the song. It was unlikely the girl understood its bawdy meaning.

She gave him a startled look and stopped singing. "What is it?"

He should tell her, or better yet, show her. He'd never done it before, but it seemed simple. She would keep her precious maidenhead and enjoy herself so maybe she wouldn't mind. But he knew himself better than that. He wouldn't be able to stop himself from taking her fully after having her that way.

"What do you think the song is about?"

She looked uncertain. "A bear falls in love with a maiden and the maiden rejects him at first. But then she falls in love with him after he removes honey from her hair."

Sandor laughed again and took a sip from his wineskin.

"It would be dreadful to have honey stuck in one's hair," she said indignantly. "My sister Arya got some in her hair once. She didn't wash it right away and things got stuck in it. Mother had to cut her hair."

It was the first time she'd spoken to him about her family. He wondered what had become of her sister. She probably ended up in a bowl of brown. That one had been wild, a wolf pup in truth, not at all like his little bird.

"It wasn't the hair on the fair maid's head he licked, girl."

It took her a long moment to understand his meaning; then she looked down at the ground. He knew she was blushing. He drank more of his wine, enjoying her embarrassment. She was exceptionally innocent, even for a highborn maiden. He entertained the notion that Lord Eddard Stark had kept her locked up in a tower, away from the world, until Robert went to Winterfell. He didn't expect her to say anything, certainly not ask questions, so he was surprised when she spoke next.

"Why would he do such a thing? And why would the maiden like that?" she asked, still not looking at him. Not that she ever really looked at him; she would look at the air beside his face when she had to.

His amusement vanished and suddenly he was annoyed at her. "Look at me."

She slowly raised her head and he waited until their gazes were locked. He grinned, not caring that it only made him uglier. "You'll have to ask someone else why - unless you want me to show you why."

She squeaked something that was probably "no" and curled up under her cloak, back turned to him. Sandor finished his wine in silence.

It was late by the time they reached a village where he could buy wine, so Sandor decided they might as well spend the night. Their food had finished two days ago and his wine as well. It had been easy enough to hunt rabbits to feed them, but he'd had to face the nights stone sober. It was not an experience Sandor cared to repeat.

The village was large enough that it had an inn, which was a pleasant surprise. He'd been prepared to spend the night in a barn. No doubt the little bird would regard him more kindly from the comfort of a real bed than a stall of straw. He glanced at her. She looked tired and unhappy.

"We'll stay here tonight," he told her.

Not even the prospect of hot food and a soft bed cheered her up. He hoped she wasn't coming down with any sort of illness.

"Careful," he warned, just as Stranger tried to kick the boy leading him into the inn's stable. Sansa's mare went more docilely, and the girl herself followed Sandor just as docilely.

The innkeeper showed them to a room upstairs, babbling all the while. "You won't taste better ale elsewhere, ser. Why, Lord Mooton himself has been known to ride all the way from Maidenpool for a drink of my ale."

"I want wine, old man, not weak ale."

The old man blinked. "Aye, ser. We have wine from the Arbor. A good vintage."

Sandor dismissed him and dropped the saddlebags on the floor by the bed.

"Where will you sleep?" his little bird asked him.

He could see from the look on her face that the question had been asked in all innocence. "Here," he replied gruffly. "No reason to waste good coin on another room." Liar. He had nine thousand gold dragons and the room cost a less than a silver for the night.

She was afraid again, but she didn't argue with him. She was such a timid girl. But why should she be anything else? Arguing with Joffrey had only gotten her beaten. Gods, he needed that wine soon.

"I'll be downstairs." She already knew he'd be drinking so he didn't bother saying it. "You want to eat down there or up here?"

"Up here. And, please, could I have a bath?"

He nodded and watched her begin to rummage through her saddlebag. She was shifting things about, not really doing anything. Sandor took the hint and left the room.

He quenched his thirst for wine before he ate the chicken stew the serving wench set in front of him. And then he began to drink in earnest. When he'd finally had enough, he climbed the stairs to the bedroom he'd paid for and the girl he'd stolen.

She was laying on the far edge of the bed with her eyes closed, but he could tell by her rapid breathing and the stiff way she held herself that she was only feigning sleep. He touched her hair. She smelled nice, clean. He must stink, he realized, of wine and sweat and horse. He didn't usually care, but it seemed unnecessarily cruel to her when the inn had a bathhouse. He staggered out of the room and when in search of the bath.

The little bird was still pretending to be asleep when he returned. Sandor took off the dirty clothes he'd had no choice but to put back on after his bath and crawled under the blankets. He tugged a lock of her hair. "Sing."

She sang that damned hymn to the Mother again, but he said nothing. He'd had another cup of wine before coming back upstairs and he knew he'd be asleep soon.

It was worse in the morning. Sandor awoke with his customary headache and upset stomach, but he soon forgot about them. Some time during the night he'd wrapped himself around Sansa Stark much like the way a small child might clutch a beloved doll. He'd thrown one of his legs over hers, slung his arm around her waist, and buried his face in her hair. And his stiff cock was pressed to her arse, with only her flimsy shift separating them. Seven bloody hells.

Sandor shifted his body from hers, leaving only his arm around her. She rolled onto her back, still asleep. His hand covered almost her entire middle and he realized just how small she was. But then she was only twelve; she would grow. He moved his hand across her belly absently as he thought of himself at her age. At twelve he'd killed his first man and fucked his first woman, and considered himself a man.

The man had been a guardsman at the Red Keep. He'd come up behind the Lannister-sworn knight Sandor had found himself fighting beside. The knight had already been engaged with another foe so instead of shouting a warning, Sandor had done as he'd been trained to do and hacked off the man's sword arm. He hadn't hesitated before making the kill final, quickly shoving the point of his sword into the eye slit of the guardsman's helm.

The woman had been a whore at a cheap brothel. It had been the day after they'd sacked King's Landing. He'd gone with a group of squires, all of them young and blooded for the first time and eager to complete their initiation into manhood. The whore he'd chosen had been only a few years older than him and as decent looking as one could expect in such a place. He'd seen her disappointment at being picked by him instead of one of the other boys, the ones who weren't disfigured. She'd hidden it quickly, of course, but he'd seen the look and he'd been embarrassed and hurt and, most of all, angry.

He'd given her a handful of copper coins, which she'd quickly hidden in her skirts before she unlaced his breeches and fondled his cock to readiness. Then she'd gotten onto her hands and knees; so she wouldn't have to see his ugly face, he'd thought. He'd told her to turn over and made her keep her eyes open and look at him while he fucked her.

There had been plenty of other whores in the years after that, including ones who could put a mummer to shame with their skills of pretense. He remembered the first one who, hoping to earn more coin, had kissed him and encouraged him to caress her and pretended to enjoy it. He'd liked it, though afterward he'd been angry at himself for engaging in such self-deception.

"My tummy doesn't hurt anymore," the little bird said softly. "You don't have to rub it."

Sandor was startled. He wondered how long she'd been awake. He removed his hand from her belly. Then he focused on what she'd said. "It was hurting before? Why?" He remembered Ser Boros Blount driving his mailed fist into her belly on Joffrey's command, and himself, standing there, watching, doing nothing.

"My moon blood came again yesterday," she said, blushing.

The mention of her moon blood made him think of her cunt and reminded him of his hardened cock. Bloody hells. He should have slept in his dirty clothes. Being naked in a bed with this girl and then trying to control himself was surely an exercise in madness. Yet it was oddly comfortable too. He had never slept with a woman before. Loath to end it just yet, he turned onto his side and grinned at her.

"How come you didn't remind me that a true knight would lay his sword in the bed between himself and his lady?"

She glanced at his face long enough to give him an exasperated look. "You would only have laughed at me."

He laughed now.

"Have we very many days left before we reach Maidenpool?" she asked.

"One," he answered. But the question reminded him that she was only with him because she believed he was taking her home. His good mood soured. "It's time we were on the road," he said brusquely, rising from the bed and pulling on his clothes.

Modest maiden that she was, she firmly fixed her gaze on the other side of the room. "Yes, my lord. May I have a moment alone?"

"I'll go get us food to break our fast."

After making use of the privy, including stroking himself to an empty release, Sandor bought wine for the road and then dawdled downstairs to give the girl more time to tend to herself. The serving wench who fetched his food from the kitchen was the one who'd let him know last night that she'd warm his bed for a few coppers. He should have taken her out to the stables and fucked her. He laughed at himself in disgust. Was he being faithful to a girl who would never want him?

Sansa was fully dressed and brushing her hair when he returned to their room. He handed the package of meat pies to her and picked up their belongings. "We'll eat in the saddle."

All from King's Landing to Maidenpool Sandor had been careful to drink only at night, after he'd settled them in as secure a spot as he could find. But with only hours remaining until they reached the port town, he found himself pulling a wineskin from his saddlebag. His little bird looked surprised and less than pleased, but she said nothing to him as he drank.

She might choose to deceive herself when it suited her, but she wasn't stupid. When they boarded a ship bound for the east or the south, she would know he wasn't taking her home. He had to find something to tell her. Tell her what? That you've lied to her and betrayed her trust just like everyone else? "No," he said aloud.

"Are you unwell?" she asked him.

Sandor laughed bitterly. "Unwell, yes, unwell. If you want to call being a drunken fool unwell." He could see her struggling to find a courteous response to that. "It's better we head for Riverrun after all."

She frowned. "I don't understand. We've nearly reached Maidenpool."

"You never mind about that. It was my mistake."

When they reached the outskirts of Maidenpool, Sandor turned his horse onto the road west instead of entering the town. The Stark girl kept glancing back behind them and at him beside her, clearly questioning his judgment. It made him laugh. He was questioning it too.

"My lord Hound?" she called out a while later.

Sandor's mouth twitched with amusement despite his mood. My lord Hound. That was a new one. "How many times do I have to tell you I'm no lord, girl? Call me dog, or Sandor." He expected her usual acquiescence and he was pleasantly surprised when she persisted.

"One is most discourteous and the other too familiar."

"Your septa isn't here to make the proper introductions," he mocked her, "So you'll just have to manage."

She gave him an offended look, but voiced no reply.

"What was it you wanted?" he asked.

"I've forgotten."

His hearing was sharp; he heard her whisper the my lord under her breath. Instead of stroking his anger, it turned it into an ache inside him. Bloody fool. You might as well wish for the moon.

They couldn't continue the leisurely pace they'd taken to Maidenpool. They were traveling through war-torn lands now and Sandor pushed the horses hard, afraid of running into Gregor. He should be able to intimidate the other Lannister knights and lordlings, and the Stark and Tully men would be happy to have their king's sister back. But if they encountered Gregor...Sandor shuddered at the thought. He knew his brother well enough to know that Gregor wouldn't care whose sister the little bird was. He would hurt her to hurt him.

As they rode, they saw the ruins of burned villages and occasionally they passed corpses hanging from the trees. The girl stayed close to him, more afraid of whoever had caused the carnage than she was of him.

Once they saw smoke rising in the distance. Sandor left the road then to avoid the band that had set the fire, and traveled through fields and forests as much as he could. The farmers whose crops Stranger trampled and ate were not pleased, but better a few sulking peasants than armed men with their blood up.

One ugly woman cried and the snot-nosed brats clinging to her began to cry too. "Ser, them was me last crop. His lordship took double his share. Because of the war, he said. How am I going to feed these little ones?"

The little bird looked distressed. She gave him a reproachful look, though she didn't say anything to him. "I'm sorry, good woman," she apologized to the peasant.

Sandor dropped a handful of coins on the ground without a word. After that, he took care to avoid damaging cultivated fields.

He knew Riverrun was farther from Maidenpool than Maidenpool was from King's Landing, but the time seemed to pass much quicker. He wasn't sure whether to be relieved that this journey would be at an end soon, or whether to regret that Sansa Stark would not be his for much longer.

It was a moot point in the end. Mere days from Riverrun, they heard about the wedding from everyone they met on the road. Edmure Tully was to wed a Frey maiden at the Twins, and the Young Wolf would attend his uncle's wedding to apologize for his own hasty wedding to Lord Westerling's daughter.

Sandor considered taking Sansa to Riverrun anyway and leaving her there. But he could not leave her with some castellan, no matter how trusted. He would deliver her to her blood kin, or not at all.

The little bird was both excited and dismayed at news of the wedding. Sandor saw the way she continually smoothed her hair and plucked at her dress. It had been a pretty dress once, but the long weeks on the road had taken their toll. Her distress amused him. She could don a peasant's rags and she would still draw men's eyes.

He wondered which lucky lord the Starks would give her to; whether it would be another handsome boy like Joffrey or some old man. Perhaps she would be given to a man like Renly Baratheon who preferred other men. What a waste that would be.

He brooded on the topic again the night before they were to reach the Twins. He'd thought maybe he could be her sworn shield, but if he was her husband, he certainly wouldn't want the likes of him around her. He'd be lucky if he ever saw her again. He would certainly never have another chance to touch her after tomorrow. He would be a fool to waste the opportunity. "Come here," he said, setting aside the empty wineskin.

She stopped singing mid-note and gave him a frightened look.

"Come here," he repeated impatiently.

She rose hesitantly and slowly walked the few yards to him. He could see her fear plain as day, could practically smell it. Guilt tore at him, but he shoved it away. He wasn't going to really do anything to her. She shrieked as he pulled her down into his lap.

"Close your eyes."

She felt good in his arms like this, and her skin was so soft and smooth as he traced the lines of her pretty face with his fingertips. He touched her lips, but decided against pressing his own scarred lips to them. Instead he nuzzled her neck for a moment before planting kisses there. He put a hand to her teats, and felt her heart pounding hard with fear. He reluctantly contented himself with petting her hair.

Despite the dust and sweat of travel, she somehow managed to smell good. "Pretty little bird," he murmured into her ear. She was trembling. He pressed one last kiss to the hollow of her throat and let her go. She opened her eyes, looking confused - and maybe a little aroused, but that was surely the wine and his imagination.

"Continue your song."

She settled back in her spot across the campfire and began to sing "Florian and Jonquil." Her voice was shaky and she was looking at him. Sandor laid back on his bedroll and lost himself in dreams.

It was only their late arrival to the wedding that saved them. It was dark when they reached the Twins and the celebration had been going on for hours. The Young Wolf's men were well and drunk.

"Joffrey's dog," the Frey sentry exclaimed.

"That's right," Sandor said. "I've brought a gift for the groom."

"Where is it?" asked a second man, his spear leveled at Sandor.

Sandor gestured to Sansa Stark. "I've brought him his niece."

There was muttering then, and a knight and a cadre of guards were summoned to escort them to the castle. They were half way there when it started. The musicians began to play "The Reynes of Castamere" and sober men descended on the drunk ones with swords and axes.

Sandor drew his sword in time to deflect the Frey knight's first cut. He made short work of the man, but while he was killing a spearman, another soldier managed to grab the reins of Sansa's horse. Sandor cut off his arm and grabbed the reins himself. He fled with his little bird without a thought for Robb Stark.

They rode all night and for several hours in the morning before Sandor deemed it safe to stop. He led them well away from the road before setting up a cold camp. He didn't dare make a fire lest the smoke betray their presence.

Sansa stood shivering in her cloak, hugging herself. She'd cried for a long time as they rode, until she had no more tears to shed. The only food left in their saddlebags was half a loaf of black bread. Sandor gave half of it to her and she ate it without seeming to see it or him. "Sleep now, girl," he told her, gently pushing her toward her bedroll. But instead she threw herself at him. She wrapped her arms around him and buried her face against his chest, and began to cry anew.

He held her gingerly. This wasn't how he'd imagined her putting her arms around him. But what did it matter? She's mine now. With her family dead, he wouldn't have to steal her to have her. It was a gift from the gods. Or at least one from the Freys. He choked back his laughter for her sake.

Sandor pried her away from him long enough to move their bedrolls close together. His little bird cried herself to sleep in his arms. Once she's done mourning for her kin, I'll see that she never cries again. Back in that wildfire-lit bedroom in King's Landing, he'd promised that he'd kill anyone who hurt her. There were too many Freys though. He couldn't offer her vengeance; he could only take her far away from them.

It was days before she stirred from her grief. "Where are we going?"

"Saltpans. There should be ships there and it's closer than Maidenpool."

He thought she understood, but a while later she said, "It'll be so good to see Winterfell again."

Sandor cursed under his breath. He nudged Stranger close to her mare so he could reach out and take hold of her chin. She had to look at him and he hoped it meant she was listening to him too.

"We're not going to Winterfell. Winterfell was sacked by Greyjoy. The North is overrun with Ironmen."

"Then where are you taking me?" she whispered.

"With me. Away from Westeros, anywhere. We'll take the first ship leaving this damned realm."

He was relieved to see that the news didn't dismay her. She seemed to accept it without question or protest. When they stopped for the night she brushed her horse and made up her own bedding - across the fire - and did everything else she'd done before her uncle's disastrous wedding.

Selfishly, Sandor was disappointed she no longer needed to be comforted. "Sing something," he told her.

Like the good little bird she was, she sang. She sang of Jenny of Oldstones in a voice that held Jenny's sorrow the way it never had before. He was relieved she hadn't sang the Mother's hymn and oddly disappointed she hadn't sang "Florian and Jonquil."

He found it difficult to sleep that night. Long after Sansa had stopped singing and gone to sleep, Sandor laid there wide awake. Gods, I need wine. He hadn't drank a drop of wine since Edmure Tully's wedding, thinking he needed his wits about him to evade the Frey and Lannister soldiers. But at this moment, he needed wine more. Without wine to soothe him, the memories came: looking up from playing with that toy knight to see his brother standing there; the agonizing pain of having half his face burnt off; his sister crying; Gregor riding back from his hunt with their father's body instead of game.


He started awake. "What?"

"You were...I think you were having a bad dream."

Likely he had, but thankfully he didn't remember it.

"I could sing if it would help," she offered.

"Little songbird. Yes, sing."

She sang a children's lullaby he hadn't heard in a very long time and when she was finished, she said sadly, "I used to sing that to my brother Bran sometimes."

He wondered if she'd been having nightmares of her own. Sandor seized the excuse. "Come sleep beside me."

"As you say." She dragged her bedding nearer to his, stopping an arm's length away. Sandor hauled it closer. He could feel her fear as she laid down next to him.

"Close your eyes."

His little bird shut her eyes obediently, knowing what was coming. But he would be less than a dog to take her while she was mourning for her murdered family. He buried his ugly face against her neck for a long moment. I'll just take one kiss.

His mouth hovered above hers as he savored the anticipation. When he finally pressed his rough lips to her own soft lips, he saw that she'd opened her eyes. Her mouth moved against his hesitantly as she kissed him back, and her arms encircled him.

Sandor Clegane wept.

And Sansa Stark sang.