Disclaimer: Pretty much everything that is recognizable belongs to GRRM, the tricky schemer that he is. I don't own it.
There were not many times that Sansa regretted escaping King's Landing with Sandor Clegane. Sansa knew that she would have felt remorseful if she had not. Any way to be rid of Joffrey was excellent.
However, when Sansa looked up at the man sitting across the fire from her, she felt a tremble of fear deep down in her tummy. Sandor Clegane was a viscous man. He had told her himself that he took most of his pleasure in life by killing other human beings.
The flickering firelight cast thousands of individual shadows in the pits and scars of the Hounds face. Each raised bump of scar tissue commanded its own shadow, and this gave Sandor's face a strange mottled look.
Sansa tightened her cloak around her. Leaving in their haste, Sansa had barely had time to grab garments to wear on the journey. The dress she had come up with was deep blue summer silk, and it hardly kept her warm at all.
Sansa sat as far away from the Hound as she could without leaving the warm of the fire, and tried to make her shivering less noticeable.
It didn't work.
"Chilled, little bird?" he rasped at her, with a voice that sounded like stones scraping together.
Sansa looked up at him, trying not to look at his burnt face. She couldn't bring any words of response to her throat. It was if her tongue was glued to the roof of her mouth, making speech impossible.
"If I wanted to do bad by you, girl," he growled. "I would have, back at the Red Keep in your chambers while no one was thinking of you. All anyone had their minds on was the damned battle."
The Burning of the Blackwater had scared Sansa up into her room. However, the Battle hadn't scared her as much as when she found Sandor Clegane in her bed waiting.
"And yet you still can't look at me." The Hound finished with annoyance.
Sansa gathered her courage. She looked briefly at his gaunt face, sharp cheekbones, and long black hair. She made her eyes flit past his burnt cheek and what was left of his ear. Sansa had to force herself to look at the shadows under his eyes, the deep color that came with lack of sleep. Tiny lines crinkled his eyes and brow that were the result of a hard life.
Sansa tried to make herself look into his eyes, to see the cruel expression that she knew was written in them. She couldn't.
Sandor Clegane scoffed.
Sansa Stark looked down at the ground, ashamed of herself. She could make herself look at the severed head of her father, impaled on a spike, but she could not look into the eyes of the man who had saved her from King's Landing.
Sansa was suddenly startled by the sound of movement, followed by a rough hand that grabbed her chin firmly.
Sandor had crossed the fire and knelt by her side. He held her chin in one hand and her slim wrist in the other.
"Look at me." He rasped slowly.
Sansa closed her eyes and struggled, but the Hound would not budge.
"Seven hells," he exasperated, jerking her chin up to face his eyes.
She forced her eyes open. His grey ones looked back at her. They were deep and flat, with a cruel tint that made the knot in her tummy pinch tightly. Beneath that, Sansa sensed a great sadness, that of a man who had known many horrors in his life.
They stayed looking for more moments than seemed necessary, and Sansa was struck by a ridiculous thought. Did he like what he saw in her eyes, she wondered?
They were nearly close enough to touch noses, but neither Sansa nor Sandor moved so much as an inch. Sansa remembered when she had touched his face after she sang in her chambers, and felt his tears on her hand.
The thought made the knot loosen up, and Sansa felt a warm blush creeping up her chest.
Off in the distance, a crow cawed.
Suddenly broken out of their reverie, Sansa and Sandor awkwardly moved away from each other. By the way that he didn't speak, Sansa knew that he had felt a curiosity similar to her own. It made her smile.
Afterwards, tucked into their bedrolls on opposing sides of the fire, he spoke.
"It wasn't so bad, was it little bird?" the soft rasp came across the flames.
Sansa sighed. She had almost been asleep. "No." she replied in a whisper. "It wasn't.