A/N: I've already posted this story up in the Game of Thrones/tv section but due to the later plot line I think it might be more appreciated here due to spoilers. Anyway, enjoy :)
The fire...he had to get away from it. Sandor Clegane was already somewhat drunk and this only further fuelled his fear of the flames. The burnt side of his face prickled and he remembered that awful night so long ago. How strong Gregor's grip had been as he held Sandor's face above the fire. How loudly Sandor had screamed and yet he simply could not break free. His tears had dripped into the flames along with half of his face. Sandor was not afraid of anything except fire; give him a man to gut, a woman to fuck, or a child to run down and he could do it without flinching...but fire, especially this sort of wildfire, was different. So this is why he fled into the safety of the castle whilst Baratheon's army attacked King's Landing and Joffrey's defences retorted with the use of wildfire. "That bastard Imp," he murmured as he wandered the abandoned castle halls. The women and youngsters were no doubt hiding in their chambers whilst every man able to fight was outside. He had the run of the place...
He had to get away from King's Landing. If Tyrion or Joffrey found him he'd be executed for being a yellow bellied turncoat – not that he was particularly bothered by that. If anyone raised a sword to him he'd kill them whether Knight, Lord or King. He thought about heading to the stables and stealing a horse before the gates could be closed...but he needed to sober up. Then an idea suddenly struck him. The little bird...He would find her first.
That little bird; so beautiful and yet so beyond his reach. Or at least she had been...
He stumbled up towards her chamber and when he arrived he found the door open. He inspected inside her cage but it looked as though she'd fled already. Disappointment poisoned his belly until he saw her cloak folded over the bed. She would not have left the castle without that.
So the Hound waited. He fell onto her bed to rest and to try and stop the world from spinning. He could feel bile rise up in his throat but thankfully managed to keep it down. Her pillows and sheets were made from the finest silks and they felt so soft against his coarse skin. It didn't seem right somehow that such softness should be allowed to touch his disfigured face. He could smell her sweet scent all around him; lemon, sweat, soap and something flowery. He imagined her lying where he was now – her body so small in comparison with his. This was where she dreamed about her fairytale knights...where she clutched at the sheets during bad dreams, where she cried into the pillow. He wondered if she'd flowered onto the silky sheets yet. She was such a beauty that half the court was mad for her and was watching hungrily as her body slowly matured. She still wore the dresses of her childhood and her breasts had begun to strain against the bodices. Her skirts were always floaty but he could imagine that her hips were widening too.
He breathed in deeply, inhaling the scent of her hair from the pillow. He now imagined her lying on top of him, bending over in front of him...or better yet underneath him. She was such a little lady that the only way fitting would be to take her from above...she would not know any other way. But take her hard he would. He'd wanted her for long. For so long had she been unattainable. Fuck Joffrey and his betrothal; he would not know what to do with such a prize. The Hound would make her his.
He then heard quick light footsteps and knew she was back. She didn't notice him because it was dark and she rushed straight over to the window. Sandor got to his feet quietly. "Lady." She was whimpering – scared of the horrible fighting around the castle. She behaved so much like a child...
Sandor grabbed her wrist and just as quickly clamped a hand over her mouth. "Little bird. I knew you would come." He could hear her breath become haggard and knew she was scared senseless. Her entire body had frozen at his touch. "If you scream I'll kill you. Believe that." He chuckled – his speech was slurred from drink and he could only dimly make out her face in the darkness. The only light came from the wicked fires outside. "Don't you want to ask who's winning the battle, little bird?"
"Who?" Sansa whispered.
"I only know who's lost. Me. Bloody dwarf. Should have killed him. Years ago."
"He's dead, they say."
"Dead? No, bugger that. I don't want him dead." He shook his head; this was not what he wanted to talk about. "I want him burned. If the gods are good, they'll burn him, but I won't be here to see. I'm going."
"Going?" Sandor felt her struggle against his grip but held tight. His arm snaked around her waist; holding her still easily.
"The little bird repeats whatever she hears. Going, yes."
"Where will you go?"
"Away from here. Away from the fires. Go out the Iron Gate, I suppose. North somewhere, anywhere."
"You won't get out," Sansa said, uncertain. "The queen's closed up Maegor's, and the city gates are shut as well."
"Not to me. I have the white cloak. And I have this." He nodded at his sword. "The man who tries to stop me is a dead man. Unless he's on fire." He laughed bitterly. There was a flash of something outside and for a second Sansa's face was illuminated in the golden glow. He had expected to see her looking frightened and in tears, he'd seen the expression so many times, but he hadn't realised how close she was...he saw her wet eyelashes and that she'd been biting down on her pink lip. They were only several inches away from each other. He knew his breathing had become drawn and hated himself for it.
"Why did you come here?"
"You promised me a song, little bird. Have you forgotten?"
"I can't," she said. "Let me go, you're scaring me."
"Everything scares you. Look at me. Look at me," He reached out and grabbed hold of her pointed chin instead, forcing her to look up at him. He wet his lips. "I could keep you safe," he rasped. "They're all afraid of me. No one would hurt you again, or I'd kill them."
He peered down at her and saw the flicker of revulsion pass across her face. He felt anger rise up inside his chest. He could bend her over the bed at any second and rip her maidenhood out of her. He preferred her to be frightened than to see this.
"Still can't bear to look, can you?" He gave her arm a hard wrench and shoved her down onto the bed. He knelt over her: his dagger was out, poised at her throat "I'll have that song. Florian and Jonquil, you said," he reminded her curtly.
"Sing, little bird. Sing for your little life."
"Gentle Mother, font of mercy, save our sons from war, we pray, stay the swords and stay the arrows, let them know a better day. Gentle Mother, strength of women, help our daughters through this fray, soothe the wrath and tame the fury, teach us all a kinder way."
Her thin voice gave out and he remained in silence. Slowly he put down the blade and in his drunken state felt himself cry for the first time since he could remember. Tears rolled down his cheeks and he did nothing to prevent them.
She was a child.
A beautiful, naive, stupid girl. He should not...could not...
He felt her hand cup his cheek and for a second turned his face into it so that his nose brushed her palm. The smooth soft hand of a lady who had never once laboured outside. He breathed in her scent and heard her clear little voice in the darkness, "I want to come away with you. I can't stay here any longer – Joffrey will end up killing me soon. Do you promise to keep me safe?" She sounded afraid and shy at the same time.
Sandor nodded and attempted to pull himself together. His voice was rough, "You have my word. We must hurry though," he removed his white cloak and swung it around her dainty shoulders. "Wear this. Keep the hood up so they don't see your hair."
"What about you?"
He laughed a bitter laugh. "They'll know me, little bird. Everyone in the Seven Kingdoms knows my face."
In silence she moved around her small room, collecting her few possessions. Sandor's head was still spinning and when she was done he pulled her by the arm through the castle and towards the gates. It was quiet here – only a few guards were still patrolling. He guessed that the majority or Joffrey's army was still fighting which meant Baratheon's army was making a good attempt. He approached the guards with Sansa in tow and did not hesitate. "Move. I need to get through."
The guard flinched. "No one is permitted to leave the city, ser."
"If you don't get out of my way I'll cut you down where you stand. I am no ser," Sandor unsheathed his sword and held it out warningly. "Miller, isn't it? You are newly married – I'll cut her down too after."
The guard backed away quickly; Sandor's huge frame dwarfed him by comparison. He nodded meekly and opened the gates for them to pass. It was as he had said earlier – everyone knew the Hound's strength and skill with a blade. Everyone knew to fear him. The Hound roughly pulled Sansa after him and to their right were the stables where two horses stood alone in the padlocks. He untied the largest one and climbed up into the seat. He looked down at the hooded figure and leant over to assist her up, "Take my hand, child."
Her hand was so small in his and her grip was weak. He pulled her up easily and she swung onto the saddle behind him. He remembered the mob's attack on Joffrey. The Hound had slashed through the crowd to Sansa and saved her from the men's grabbing hands. She held onto his chest as tightly as she had done then.
He nudged the horse with his foot and they moved away from the city's walls. They remained in complete silence in case somebody from inside the castle should see them leave and alert someone. To the far left they could hear shouts and grunts from the fighting men. The ships from Baratheon's army were ablaze and they lit up the murky waters with a golden glow. It looked as though Joffrey's side was winning. The sky around them was dusted pink and orange from the fire but a few twinkling stars remained to show that it was still nightfall.
They sped on through the night and continued even after dawn. They had to make as much distance between themselves and the castle as they could and to protect them further he'd chosen a lesser known road. Sansa's grip on his waist never slackened but he could tell she was half asleep by the way she rested her head on his back. He'd given her his cloak so he was unprotected from the wind and – at one point – light shower but he'd been in worse situations. For the rest of the day they rode and only stopped once at lunchtime for a small rest but they never once spoke. Now they were outside the boundaries of the castle titles and etiquette mattered very little. He was a grown man and she a child; they didn't need to say anything.
Finally he decided they were far away enough to stop for the night. He found a shabby Inn that no Lannister would ever dare call upon and slowed the tired horse to a halt. He slid off the saddle and groaned as his muscles at once screamed for rest. He was dirty and exhausted and turned back to the saddle to see that Sansa was barely awake. Gently, with surprising care, he lifted her in his arms and carried her as though she were a doll into the Inn.