DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters. They are GRR Martin's. I just play with them.
Possibly fluffy in places. Cannot say anything, I'd spoiler you.
WARNING: citrus towards the end.
Flames will be used to light fireworks.
They have been on the run for a week. A week of hard riding, companionable silence, easy banter and passionate sex. Sandor was still quite astonished by the events, but he was not going to complain.
Riding beside her, he didn't feel alone, even if they were silent most of the time, but when they talked, he felt as if she understood him better than anyone or at least as if she could accept what she didn't understand. He surely didn't understand everything about her. Her life had been full of surprises in the last years: assassins, magic, foreign places. She had grown up fast and had become hard as valyrian steel. Considering that she had been pretty hard to begin with, that was saying something. Tall and androgynous, lithe as her blade and fast as a cat, she was wonderful in her own way and he still didn't understand why she wanted to have any relationship with a piece of damaged goods such as he was. And yet every time they struck camp, they ended up having sex. Afterwards, he felt almost bad about it - wasn't he supposed to mourn about his shattered love? – but he couldn't say no, not when she gave herself to him spontaneously, as if she liked it as much as he did, and curled to sleep in his bedroll afterwards. He always took first watch and was content of watching her sleep with a half-smile on her face, almost peaceful. These were the times when the guilt became worst, when he tried to imagine how it would have been to watch Sansa sleep after they had made love, but couldn't, as if the dreams he had of her had evaporated at the dawning of the latest revelations. Right after their meeting, he had felt almost numb inside, as if the wound had been too deep, so deep that it wasn't even painful. Arya had made him feel again, anger and sadness first, then amazement and then…? Gratitude? Companionship? Friendship even? He couldn't name what he felt in her company, but it was good and comforting and it was enough.
They had long left the area he knew, but Arya seemed to always know which way to go to avoid their pursuers. "I dream I am a wolf, sometimes, – she would say, thoughtful – and in these dreams I see the guards on the prowl and I know where to go to shake them off." She couldn't explain herself better and felt a bit frustrated, but for him it was enough that it worked. As soon as they lost them completely he would feel safe enough for more thorough discussions of dreams. Now he was still wary and that was one of the reasons why he felt guilty about having sex with Arya. It was a hare-brained idea, to give in to such a distraction, he knew it, but he couldn't resist.
They had been riding since dawnbreak, silent as shadows in an eerily silent forest. Sandor knew that something was not right, he couldn't hear any approaching hoof beats, couldn't spot ant flanker, but he knew that they were being followed. He felt their eyes like prickles on his back and, by looking at his companion, tense, eyes darting everywhere, he knew that Arya was feeling it as well.
Leaves rustled to his left. Sandor cursed and his hand flew to the handle of his axe. More rustling, from behind, this time. "Damn!" he cursed. Arya instead, closed her eyes and lifted her head slightly, as if straining to hear something, some very soft-spoken voice. On her face there was a perplexingly serene smile. "Arya?" he called softly.
She opened her eyes; they were a bit unfocused and her expression was confused as if she was seeing something unexpected or not quite right. "Arya?" he called again, with a hint of worry.
As if on cue, the underbrushes rustled again, all over the place, birthing a motley pack of wolves. "Fuck!" he cursed, axe at ready, trying to keep Stanger calm. Arya's mare whinnied, terrified. They were thoroughly surrounded by the beasts. It would be a tight escape, Sandor thought, the the bushed parted again and an absolutely huge direwolf advanced towards them. Sandor cursed again. "That must be the alpha of the pack." he thought. Big as a small horse, mottled grey, with fierce golden eyes, the direwolf advanced stately, without a hint of fear. Direwolves were not supposed to live so far south, he thought distantly, one of those random pre-battle thoughts.
Suddenly, Arya jumped down from the saddle and advanced towards the wolf. "Arya!" he cried, ready to spur Stranger into a charge. If he was very competent and lucky, he could strike down the alpha and pick her up. If they were astonishingly lucky, they would manage to escape the rest of the pack. Whatever the consequences, he wouldn't let her die like this, in a fit of folly.
"Do not move, Sandor." was the astonishing reply, delivered in a calm and fearless tone. "Do not do anything. All will be well." Arya was directly in front of the alpha, now, a mere pace away. All was quiet in the forest, even the wolves seemed to be wholly engrossed in the show and had not moved from their places. Arya fell to her knees and tilted her head, exposing her throat to the beast. Sandor cursed, ready to pounce. "Do not move." came her voice, a bit strained.
The direwolf closed the distance, but Sandor didn't do anything, hoping desperately that she knew what she was doing. He didn't want to lose her, he realized.
The direwolf sniffed her calmly, taking its time. The tension was unbearable. Suddenly the beast pounced, Sandor cried out, closing his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again Arya was lying on the forest floor, the wolf was on top of her.
Arya was laughing desperately, and the wolf was licking her face like an over-enthusiastic, over-sized dog.
Sandor felt like his jaw was going to fall from sheer astonishment.
"Oh, Nymeria, Nymeria!" Arya exclaimed, petting the enormous direwolf affectionately, while it wagged its tail. Sandor felt the tug of a distant memory. Arya used to have a pet wolf, the first time he saw her. the beast had attacked Joffrey, probably the kid deserved it, and he had been sent to capture her and a stable-boy, both accused of treason. The boy he had caught and inexcusably killed, the wolf had gone free and in compensation, the lion-bitch had killed Sansa's pup.
Arya looked happy, squeezing her long-lost companion and having her face washed by its long licks.
"Sandor, -she called, beckoning to him – come here."
"No way, wolfing. It might like you, but I'm not going to take chances." he replied, still tense. Plus, Arya's mare might have been terrified into freezing, but Stranger was likely to bolt to Gods-Know-Where.
Arya put on her most endearing mulish expression. "Are you afraid? – she asked – there is nothing to fear, I promise."
Sandor sighed and rolled his eyes. From a corner of the eye, he saw Arya talking into the wolf's ear and snickering, probably making some cutting remark about him.
he pointedly looked away, to the ragged circle of wolves, which seemed to be uninterested of what was going on in the center and were going on with their wolfish lives, grooming themselves, yawning and resting. Among the full-blooded wolves, Sandor distinguished some different shapes: farm dogs gone feral, probably and perhaps even hybrids, all lean and scarred and wild looking. The significance of such a sign was not lost on him.
Arya looked at him. From the glint in her eyes, she had noticed that he had notice. She smiled at him reassuringly. "Come here." she called again.
Sandor sighed again and dismounted, hoping to the gods that Stranger didn't try anything funny.
Wary, he advanced towards Arya and the wolf, stopping at a pace of distance. "There." said Arya, taking his hand in hers and guiding it to the wolf's head. Sandor almost froze in panic when his fingers touched the soft fur of the beast, fearing that it would revolt and bite his fingers off, but the animal, Nymeria he remembered, stood still, looking at him with too-intelligent golden eyes.
He had relaxed a fraction when suddenly the wolf pounced, sending him sprawling to the ground.
It had been many seasons since Nymeria had felt that happy, a lifetime even, ever since the day she had bitten the yellow-haired two-legs lion-cub to defend Arya. She had wandered so long in search of her, so lonely. She had a pack of her own now and responsibilities as alpha, but she could never forget her own two-legs companion, with whom she shared dreams. She had missed her the first time, some seasons ago, when she was travelling with the tall, scarred two-legs, but she had no intentions of repeating the mistake.
Her Arya… She was a cub no more, but was old enough to bear cubs of her own. Too many seasons had passed, but she was still travelling with the same tall, scarred two-legs. He was her mate now, this was clear. They had mated enough times that their smells had all but mingled, she noticed, snorting lightly. It looked a good choice as any, this two-legs dog, he seemed strong and brave enough for her. They'd have strong wolf-dog cubs. Maybe not pretty, but strong.
It was amusing how wary he was of her, despite Arya's reassurances. Did he really think she would harm her companion's mate?
Nymeria pounced, sending the two-legs to the ground and started licking his face, wagging her tail playfully. The two-legs cursed and flailed a bit and Arya laughed like mad. Oh, she had missed her companion's laughter.
Satisfied by the outcome of the day, she withdrew from Arya's mate, leaving him to pick himself up from the ground.
"I will be around. – she communicated to Arya with an image of the forest around – Need to hunt. – an image of her pack hunting together - Call me if you need. Two-legs will not harm you. "
With this last image, of the eagle two-legs, Nymeria called her pack and withdrew into the forest.
Slowly, Sandor picked himself up from the ground. His face was sticky with wolf slobber, but he was otherwise unharmed. "I think she likes you…" teased Arya, still laughing.
"If you have any other surprise like this up your sleeve, tell me now, please." he replied, a bit annoyed, brushing leaves from his clothes and hair. He was still a bit ruffled, but it had been amazing, something out of legends.
"When you dream wolves, do you dream her?" he asked, pensively.
Arya nodded. "I think so. I think that in dreams our minds touch, somehow. – she said, shrugging – I think it happened again today, but while I was awake, a moment ago."
Sandor didn't say anything, pondering on half-remembered legends.
"Do you know what it means?" Arya asked, merrily.
"That you are a skinchanger?" Sandor retorted, sneering and wiping his face.
Arya laughed. "I guess that it would be a way of defining it. – she said, shrugging – But it was meaning that we don't need to go scouting anymore."
He quirked an eyebrow questioningly.
"They will do the scouting for us." she said, pointing her thumb towards the direction where the wolves disappeared to and grinning.
"That's good news." he admitted, grinning back.
They rode on for the rest of the day, in companionable silence, and struck camp in a clearing at nightfall, lighting a fire and quickly supping on dried meat and oatmeal porridge.
As in a concerted ritual, they washed their bowls in a nearby stream and set down the beddings. As it happened every time, he didn't know who initiated it, but as they were conversing about anything and nothing, about the strange, stupid deaths of war buddies and strangers, they found themselves into each other's arms, kissing, unlacing clothes, caressing. This time around, Sandor managed to remain on top and proceeded to kiss his way down along her body. She had smaller breasts than most, but she was still beautiful, all graceful limbs and toned muscles. He pulled her trousers down and started to gently touch her womanhood. He had found out that she liked it very much, enough to beg him not to stop, but he knew also that she liked being kissed down there even better, enough to beg him to stop because it was too much and not enough. It was torture, bringing her to such a point, when her whimpers and moans made him want nothing better than bury himself into her and fuck her until they both collapsed, but it was worth it.
"Please, please!" she cried, tossing her head on his bedroll, trembling and gripping his arms as they were a lifeline. "Please what?" he asked, his voice even more rough than usual, stroking her.
Arya whimpered and rolled her eyes. "You are horrible…" she moaned.
He stroked her again, harder, and she almost convulsed. "Alright! – she cried – Please, take me! Now!"
Sandor readily obliged her, entering her roughly, but she was so wet by now that it didn't really matter. He could take her as fast and hard as he wished, when she was like this and she would cry out in pure ecstasy, dragging her nails on his arms and back, thrusting against him as if would never be enough and pulling him into orgasm with her.
They lay side by side afterwards, half-dressed and exhausted. Arya lay her head on his shoulder and her arm across his chest, and he couldn't help feeling a bit happy of being there, of being alive and with her. It was pretty cold, however, and it was mere minutes before they were freezing and had to put their clothes back on. "I'll take first watch again." he said, looking wistfully at her while she laced her trousers back on. He already missed the feel of her naked skin on his and the peace of sleeping with her, even if he had experienced it only once.
Arya grinned and slid into the bedroll. "You know, I have just realized another thing about the wolves." she said, beckoning him closer. He kneeled next to her and let her kiss him slowly, threading her slim hands in his hair. He would probably not confess it to her, unless she somehow managed to extract it from him, but he loved when she did that.
"I do not think we will have to keep watches. – she whispered against his lips – We can sleep together, if you wish. It is cold tonight." she offered as an excuse. Her lips nibbled at his neck and he involuntarily shivered.
"Aye, it is cold tonight." he repeated, keeping up the pretence. He looked at her in the eye and saw again that wonderful look of acceptance. Sighing, he slid under the blankets, embracing her. She leaned her head against his shoulder again, threading a long slim leg with his and placing a hand on his chest. He turned his head slightly, burying his nose in her hair. He liked her scent.
Sandor was asleep in minutes with a smile on his lips.