A/N – Look at that! Another update! Seriously can't believe I broke 600 reviews with the last one. You guys are the most loyal and amazing readers in the whole world (or at least the whole world of fanfiction (or at least the whole world of game of thrones fanfiction)).
This is a San/San chapter. Enjoy!
"These are all wrong," Cersei says, her voice biting as she waves her hand impatiently. A nervous florist is holding out a sampling of lilac flowers. "Put them away, you fool. Can't you idiots do anything right? Red and gold – how hard is that to understand?"
The florist, a young woman, flushes and murmurs an apology, immediately retreating to the back of the store like a whipped dog. Sansa wants to reach out to the poor girl and apologize for Cersei's cruel behavior, but her fear of Cersei overpowers her inherent desire for etiquette.
"Fools," Cersei mutters again. She runs her fingers through her perfectly groomed golden hair before placing her hands on the table and directing her gaze towards Sansa. "Honestly, my darling," she says. "How can you possibly expect to throw a respectable wedding when you've done so in little preparation? It's overwhelmingly concerning. You wouldn't want to embarrass your new family, now would you?"
"Of course not," Sansa says, biting back the thoughts that are boiling beneath her surface. It's absurd that she has to continue this façade – continue playing sweet, innocent Sansa. All she really wants to do is lunge across the table and slap Cersei in the face and then hunt down that little monster from her womb. But of course she can't do that. Her siblings have assured her they'll come up with a plan before the wedding. She only has to play her part for a short bit longer, and then she'll be free of all Baratheon and Lannister tyranny forever.
"I'm sorry," Sansa says, smiling warmly at Cersei. She reaches for her hand and squeezes it lightly – it's freezing cold – and the touch chills Sansa inside and out. She forcers her smile to be even sweeter. "Honestly, I'm just so excited to marry Joffrey that I'm having trouble dealing with the details. It's such a…fairytale come true."
Cersei gives her a hard, calculating look. "Truly my sweet, you'd better practice your lies more carefully if you ever dream of being a successful face of this company. I can pick your truths and falsities apart with a single glance."
Sansa's heart starts to race – is Cersei accusing her of lying? Does she know her affections for Joffrey are false? Does she know the truth of their monstrous relationship? Flustered, Sansa says, "I'm not sure what you're saying, Cersei."
Cersei's grin is cold and vicious. "Darling, remember that no matter how much you flatter me with the appearance of youth, I'm more than twice your age, which means I'm twice as wise and have twice as much to protect. I won't let your little…distaste…of my son's disposition ruin what I've been striving for these many years. Are we clear?"
Sansa's heart continues to thump. Her palms grow moist, and she pushes them into her lap, wringing her hands together. "Yes," Sansa says. "Of course."
"You'll marry Joffrey," Cersei commands. "Whether you like it or not."
Before Sansa has a chance to respond, the florist arrives back into the room with an enormous bouquet of red roses and golden chrysanthemums.
"Perfect," Cersei says – her smile turning pleasant disturbingly fast. "We'll take six dozen of those. The entire room will be filled with only the best for the best. Isn't that right, my dear?" she asks Sansa.
Sansa swallows the hard lump in her throat. "Right. Only the best."
Sansa's first urge when she gets into her car is to drive to Sandor's apartment. In the past few weeks, it's the only place she's truly felt safe in. For a moment she sits idle in the parking lot, closing her eyes, trying to control her breathing, and imagining escaping to him for safety. The thought of his scarred skin and roped muscles is comforting and arousing all at once – she visualizes the tattoos that coat his arms and imagines running her fingers over them, tracing them slowly.
Enough, Sansa tells herself. He doesn't want you. He doesn't want anything to do with you. Didn't he make that clear enough?
She should be concentrating on more practical things – like the fact that Cersei is just as threatening as her son. Perhaps Cersei wouldn't resort to pure physical violence, but Sansa has a feeling Cersei knows how to cut much deeper wounds.
Since her siblings have yet to come up with any feasible plan for stopping the wedding, Sansa decides to pull out her phone and call Margaery, hoping that the trust she put in her friend will pay off. As she pulls out her phone, she notices a text message from Joffrey, and her stomach immediately clenches with fear. They haven't seen each other since the night Sansa decided to hit back, and every hour of separation has probably only given Joffrey's fury time to boil.
With dread, she opens the text message and reads the following:
I'll be out of town for the next two days. I expect you to meet me when I return at the race on Friday night.
There's a space and then another message:
If you ever dare to pull that shit with me again, you'll find yourself happily reunited with your bitch dog.
Sansa stares at the words and tears start to fill her eyes. For months and months now, she's forced any and all thoughts of Lady out of her mind. The memories are far too painful, especially now that she doesn't have her sweet dog to comfort her. But now all of those dark memories come back in a rush of furious red. Sansa feels nauseated and again tries to control her breathing – but the memories are forcing themselves upon her.
Only a few weeks after Joffrey blackmailed Sansa into marrying him, he came over to her apartment late and drunk and looking for physical engagement. Sansa wanted nothing to do with him. She was furious and disgusted, and the moment he grabbed for her, she pushed him away.
Things escalated quickly, and Sansa was so worried about keeping away from Joffrey that she barely noticed Lady growling and snarling in the background. As Joffrey went for Sansa again, knocking her against a wall so hard her head rang out in pain, Lady suddenly lunged at Joffrey, biting him furiously in the arm.
Sansa now looks back with bitter regret that she called Lady off. She should have let the loyal dog continue to attack. She should have let Lady kill Joffrey. Instead, confused by her past love for Joffrey and current hatred, she eventually called Lady off, her heart thumping in her ears, bile in her throat as she stared at an enraged and bloody Joffrey.
When Sansa got home from work the following day, Lady was gone. Joffrey had killed her – or more likely had someone kill her for him.
That last thought jerks Sansa out of her painful reverie. Of course. How did she never consider before that it was probably Sandor's calloused hands that killed her precious animal? Killed her and then continued to stand around Sansa as if he'd done nothing wrong.
Fury and rage start to boil in the pit of Sansa's stomach. It was one thing that Sandor had watched Joffrey abuse her all these months – but it was another entirely if he killed her beautiful and loyal Lady. And whether he wanted to talk to her or not, whether he wanted to continue to teach her, she wanted him to answer for his crimes.
Sansa used to ring bells politely. She used to timidly knock on doors. But now she's pressing down on the buzzer without reprieve and rapping on Sandor's door as loudly as possible with an unprecedented fury. All of the abuse and stress and worries are bursting through her practiced and cool veneer. She no longer has a desire to be perfect Sansa. Well-spoken Sansa. Pleasant Sansa.
No. All she wants now is retribution.
The door suddenly swings open as Sansa is mid-knock, and she almost falls forward with the force of it. Sandor is once more only wearing a pair of sweatpants. His strong chest is bare and solid and most noticeably, eye-level.
"What?" he growls.
Sansa rips her eyes away from his chest and meets his hard eyes. Her skin is crawling with anger, and fury, and – her eyes flick to his scarred lips. "Did you kill her?" Sansa asks.
The question seems to throw ever-solid Sandor off his guard. He narrows his eyes and crosses his heavy arms over his chest. "Kill who?" he asks.
Sansa steps forward so that she's standing directly in the doorway, face only inches away from Sandor's chest. She steps forward again, forcing Sandor to either touch her or move further back into the apartment. He concedes his ground and Sansa follows him inside, slamming the door shut behind her.
"Lady," she says, her voice laced with accusation. "Did you kill her?"
He doesn't have to say anything because Sansa can immediately see the answer on his face. The way his eyes flicker for just a second – his eyes that never flicker, that are always so sure. The way one hand nervously twists a ring on the other.
"Bastard," Sansa says, voice soft and harsh. She starts moving towards him, hands raised, ready to attack – wanting so terribly to attack. To do something to release this anger. It's so unfair, everything she's been through, and more importantly what happened to poor Lady. "Animal! Bastard! I hate you – you filthy fucking –" she starts hitting him, landing punches harder than she ever thought possible, the impact of each one reverberating through her hands and up her arms.
"Stop it," Sandor warns, his command only stroking her fury. But before she has a chance to punch again, he grabs her arms, pushes them together, and shoves her none-too-gently down into a chair. He leans over her, eyes blazing, breathing shallow, daring her to assault him again. "I said stop it. You're attacking the wrong man."
Sansa laughs, a harsh laugh, so cold and clipped, so different from the light giggles she used to give just over a year ago. "A man," she says. "Do you consider yourself a man? You're a beast." Her eyes lock onto his, and the force of his gaze jars her. "You're just as terrible as him. Worse even. You threaten and beat and kill. You watch him assault innocent people. You're despicable. Pathetic. I can't believe I ever came to you for help."
Sandor's fists curl at his sides. Sansa knows his base instincts urge him to fight. And she almost wants him to – let him punch her, let him discover the monster he truly is, let him prove that she was insane to trust him. "I told you once," Sandor says, "And I'll tell you again. You aren't the only one the Baratheons and Lannisters have something on. Perhaps I'm just as much a prisoner as you."
"What could they possibly threaten you with?" Sansa asks, eyeing his body slowly, calculating, taking in every muscle and scar. "You could rip any one of them to pieces."
Sandor hesitates and then slowly lowers himself into the chair next to Sansa. "Perhaps that's the problem," he says. "Perhaps anyone…perhaps any jury would find me guilty all too easily."
"I don't –" Sansa pauses. "I don't understand. What are you talking about?"
Sandor hesitates again. He then stands back up, walks over to the freezer, and grabs a chilled bottle of whiskey. He settles back into his seat, takes a long pull of the amber liquid, and then turns to face Sansa. His voice is softer than usual, though just as low. "Did I ever tell you how I got these scars?" he asks, pointing to the mottled flesh of his face.
"No," Sansa says. "I mean – there have been rumors of course. On the circuit. But no one really knows."
Sandor pushes the bottle of whiskey her way. For a moment, she's scared to grab it, to break this moment. Is Sandor really opening up to her? But the adrenaline from her fury is fast draining, and she knows the whiskey will help keep her from crashing. She takes two quick sips, letting the liquid burn the back of her throat as Sandor continues to speak.
He tells the tale slowly, in pieces, like it's been so long his lips forgot how to form the words. The action is scattered, but the scene is clear: a few days after Christmas, a roaring fire burning away, a young Sandor playing with a new toy car. But it's not his car. And his brother has quite the temper.
The tale goes even further than that first incident – than those first gruesome scars. Sandor's brother continues to torment him throughout his entire life until one day, Sandor twenty and strong and furious, fights back and his brother is no more.
"The Lannisters have the evidence locked away," Sandor says. "They could use it against me whenever they want. Put me in jail. Possibly a death sentence."
He says the words calmly, but Sansa can see the fear in his eyes. "But isn't it just self defense?" His entire story is overwhelming; she'd always assumed Sandor committed his sinful deeds for money alone. She hadn't realized the Lannisters and Baratheons had more than one animal in their snares.
"No good way to prove it," Sandor says. "Besides, look at me. I don't look very innocent, now do I?"
With the whiskey clouding her head just the perfect amount, Sansa feels comfortable enough to let her gaze linger. Sweeping from his dark hair pulled back with a band, down his scarred face, focusing on his lips for a stretched moment, down to those thick arms covered in countless designs, and across cut and tanned abs. He was so manly; it was almost unbearable. Such a contrast to her feeble fiancé. Such a contrast to the boys she dated in high school.
"Sansa," Sandor says. She likes the way her name sounds as it comes through his lips. Fearful and commanding and reverent at the same time. "Don't," he warns.
"Don't what?" she asks.
But she knows the answer, and she does it anyways. Their height difference is too large when they're both seated, so she stands and cautiously approaches him, knowing if she moves too quickly he'll jerk away. She moves forward so that she's standing between his spread legs, her knees pressed lightly against the front of his seat.
"Sansa," he warns again, but the tone of his voice only compels her further.
She leans forward and slowly cups his scarred face, rubbing the skin idly with soft circles, and then she leans forward more, and her lips are on his, and she's shocked by how soft they are – how warm and perfectly fitted for her own. She hears him intake a sharp breath, and when he does nothing to stop her, she softly catches his bottom lip, sucking it gently, her body subconsciously trying to move closer to his.
"Sansa," he says once more, but this time with his lips brushed against her own, this time with his hands raising and settling on her the indents of her waist and then the nape of her neck. When he kisses her back, her entire body strains with the intense pleasure of it. She doesn't fully know how they ended up here, but she knows she wants more, so she pulls his head against hers and snakes her tongue into his mouth, earning a low growl in return.
Their kiss starts to escalate from hesitant to heated, and Sansa's heart starts beating rapidly in her chest. She never wants this feeling to end. She once more captures Sandor's bottom lip, but this time instead of sucking on it, she bites it, almost hard enough to draw blood.
Sandor growls, "Fuck," into her mouth and suddenly his two strong arms sweep her up and pull her onto his lap so that she's straddling him, her sheath dress riding up her bare thighs. With only his sweatpants and her pair of panties between them, his erection is plainly evident, and they groan together as Sansa settles onto it.
Their mouths attack each other and then diverge, searching for other flesh – nips of the neck, sucks of the earlobe, anything and everything. Sansa can feel herself becoming quickly soaked – it's been so long since she's been pleasured by anyone but herself. She grinds onto Sandor, savoring the friction – savoring it even more when his hands grip her hips in response, fingers digging into her waist.
As much as Sansa wants to revel in the moment, she needs release. Her hands start travelling down Sandor's chest, searching for the hem of his sweatpants when –
The knock on the door stuns them both into a panting silence. Go away, Sansa thinks. Wrong door. Go away. Go away. She can already feel Sandor moving away from her, becoming distant once more, his hands dropping from her hips.
She's about to do something – anything – drastic to pull him back to her when a voice suddenly sounds from the other side of the door. "Hound," it says. "I know you're in there. I can practically smell the distillery. Come now. We have some work for you."
"Tyrion," Sansa breathes softly. He won't be her favorite Lannister after this.
"Shit," Sandor says. He abruptly shoves Sansa off his lap, and then as if realizing how harsh the gesture is, puts out a hand to steady her. "Go hide in my room," he commands in a hushed whisper. "No need for that little cunning bastard to see you here."
Sansa couldn't agree more. She glances at Sandor one last time, eyes flicking over the body she'd just been pressed so tightly against, and then retreats to the safety of his room.
A/N – Hope you enjoyed the chapter! Quick question – now that we're finally nearing the end, do you all still prefer a bulk of Arya chapters, or would you prefer it to be closer to every other between the sisters? Thanks!