Sandor

Moonlight cast a soft glow into the room where Sansa Stark lay sleeping. He sat slumped in the chair by her bed, ever present as her allocated guard. The night stretched out before him, as he sought respite from his thoughts. Against the silence, a gentle ticking emanated from an old clock. Tick tock, tick tock went the clock. Tick tock, tick tock. As the minutes stretched onwards into hours and sleep would not come, his mind kept racing on, reviewing the same options over and over. Then his restless body started to still and his eyes started to close.

He was in the stables now. They were coming; the alarm had been sounded. Tick tock, tick tock; they were coming. Stranger snorted and he felt the horse's warm breath against his skin. He turned, looking for his saddle, seeing a slight figure in the shadows wrapped in a hooded, rough spun travelling cloak. Little bird, he called but she had turned and was walking away from him. He tried to follow, to stop her, to bring her back to him but his legs were suddenly weighed down as if by lead weights and the distance between them grew. But then she stopped and turned, her face coming into view but it was contorted and twisted and then she started to scream.

He jerked awake, heart pounding, half falling to the floor. Little bird, where was she? Sansa was thrashing wildly on the bed, her arms flailing and piercing screams filled the air. He went to her and grasped her wrists pulling them together, "Sansa, wake up. Sansa you are dreaming, you need to wake up." She threw her head from side to side, fighting against him and then her eyes opened. She stared at him in confusion, "Sandor, I, I, what happened?" and her eyes dropped down to her wrists, which he held in a firm grip. He sat on the edge of the bed and released her. "You were dreaming, must have been a dark one girl, cause you were making enough of a racket to wake half the keep."

He went to stand to move back to his chair but she called out, "Sandor, please. Please, don't leave me." Then she pressed her face into her pillow and started to cry. He balked, uncertain of what to do, and then walked round the bed, sat, pulled his boots off and lay down on the bed next to her. Tentatively he reached out his hand and rested it on her shoulder, half expecting her to recoil from his touch. Then, she rolled over, reaching for him and continued to sob. His arms instinctively closed around her drawing her flush against him with her head tucked in against the nape of his neck. A strange unknown feeling surged in him, as he held her and found himself gruffly whispering "Hush little bird, you are safe. You are safe," as his fingers entwined themselves in her long red hair. As he rocked her, her sobs slowly came to a halt and her ragged breathing evened out and was replaced by the slow even breaths of sleep.

He lay on his side, watching the girl now as she slumbered in his arms. A stray tendril of hair had fell across one cheek and he raised a hand and gently swept it back off her face. Her face was peaceful now and belied no trace of the pain and betrayal she had suffered. He soaked in her presence and soon after, he too, slept.