The 2nd Time

Sansa

'Enough' she had heard him rasp in between the waves of pain and nausea she heard his voice. Ser Boros had hit her over and over on the back of her thighs with his sword and the force was enough to make her think he would snap her in two. Hearing his voice gave her strength to carry on. She still screamed, the pain was immense and it was what Joff wanted, there was no point denying him. But hearing his voice had given her a new form of strength, not something physical, not something she would ever be able to show, but for a fraction of a second it lifted her broken heart.

Until the king ordered Boros to make her naked. She was in court and was surrounded by people watching, laughing and now leering at her. As Boros has ripped the top of her dress away she had been fully exposed to everyone. As quickly as she could she covered her chest, praying he hadn't seen. She couldn't bear to look at him and see pity there so she kept her eyes down, bracing herself for Boros to 'beat her bloody' as king had commanded.

Before any blows came she could hear voices shouting and was suddenly faced with Tyrion Lannister. He was a strange form of saviour, but a saviour none the less. He commanded someone give her something to cover herself with and it had been him who had unfastened his cloak and thrown it to her.

Tyrion and Joffrey had had an argument but in truth she had heard none of it, it was as if she was in a dream like state, the pain winning out leaving her unable to think clearly. Without even realising where she was going she had found herself in the Tower of the Hand being cared for by maids gently bathing her, cleaning her hair and tending to the welts on her thighs. They dressed her and she was given a drink to ease her to sleep. She hadn't wanted to sleep but the pain had been so fierce she had found herself gulping it down.

She didn't know how long she had slept but when she awoke it was very late and a maid led to Tyrion. She didn't trust him, he was a Lannister after all but he did seem to want to help her, even offering to help her out of her engagement. She refused, of course, despite Joffrey calling her stupid, she was learning no one could be trusted….well almost no one.

When Tyrion had asked if there was anything he could do to help make her time here pass easier, she had stopped and thought before telling him she would love to be able to ride. Joffrey had bought her a horse when she first came to Kings Landing and she had barely ridden it, scared that her limited ability would infuriate him more. When she explained her predicament to Tyrion he told her he often took Tommen out riding and would happily include her in these outings if she wanted.

Despite the late hour, when she returned to her room, She found Shae waiting for her. She had tried to send her away, insisting she could undress herself but Shae wouldn't leave.

As she helped her ease into bed Shae sat next to her, took her hand gently and sang her the most beautiful song she had ever heard. She couldn't understand what Shae was singing of, she didn't know the language, but it didn't stop her finding comfort in the song.

When Shae had gone Sansa felt over whelmed by her sadness. Part of her had wanted to ask Shae to stay with her, to tell her how she was frightened to sleep. She wished she could have stayed and sung her to sleep like her mother used to when she was little.

As the night wore on Sansa became more and more frightened and she didn't know why, no one had ever come for in the night. Despite knowing how angry he would be with her, she soon enough found herself in her shabby cloak and shoes lightly knocking on his door. Her fingers went down to the handle and started to push it when the door was wrenched open.

He stood looming over her, he looked angry, not furious, but still angry and his grey eyes searched hers. He wrapped his fingers round her wrist and pulled her sharply into the room. He shut the door behind her and barred it.

'What are you doing here Little Bird? He said the anger clear in his voice.

'I…I don't…' but before she could start to form a proper sentence the tears that had been threatening to fall for hours start to pool at her eyes.

'Hush, no need for that' he rasped as he placed a heavy hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort her in what she guessed was the only way he knew. He was not a father; he wasn't even a brother, not really. He didn't know the best way to comfort someone was to hold them she thought to herself.

She blinked back the tears and locked her eyes with his 'please don't send me away'

He looked agonised then, she knew it was like he was facing an inner conflict, she could see it in his eyes. Part of him wanted to send her away, the angry Hound, the other part of him seemed to want to give in to her, that was the part of him she was hoping would win, that was her favourite part of him. She imagined that was truly Sandor.

Eventually he spoke 'come child' and she took a shaky breath, waiting for him to exile her from his chambers. Instead he wrapped one arm around her waist and the other around her calves, lifted her as if she weighed nothing and placed her on the innermost side of the bed. In that brief moment when she was in his arms, the desire to wrap her arms around him and never let go was so overpowering that when his body was longer in contact with hers, her heart ached with sorrow.

She shuffled carefully on the bed until her back was against the wall and she was facing him, he lay down and mirrored her movements so they were now face to face.

Before she could stop herself her hand flew out and made contact with his face, it wasn't what she expected, despite the roughness of his beard she found there was softness to his skin as she gently caressed it. He had frozen at first but as her hand cupped his face she could have sworn that he ever so slightly leaned his face into her hand, if only for a second.

'You must never try to speak up for me again' she said in determined voice ' Little Bird…' he had started to respond but she had cut him off, locking her eyes on his. She didn't know why, but somehow by making eye contact with him, she had learned he seemed to listen to her more.

'You must never do that again, never, it is too…. too dangerous…I ..I couldn't cope if he….' She trailed off, unable to find the words to express what she feared most she just quietly mumbled 'I'm tired now' and closed her eyes hoping she would find enough peace to sleep.

Sandor

He woke with the urge to slap something off his face, he raised his hand automatically, expecting a fly, only to realise it was the little bird's hand still resting on his cheek. Somehow he managed to stop himself from making contact.

As he blinked away sleep he remembered the humiliation she had been subjected to yesterday. As as his memory went over the events the sound of her screams haunted him. He had tried to stop it, but no one had listening, if anything he had made things worse for her.

Joffrey had been in a particularly evil mood and he had found himself seriously fearing for her safety. He almost let out a sigh of relief when Tyrion put an end to it. But the instant hatred towards the halfman for being the one to save her overrode his feelings of relief. It should have been me had thought to himself over and over again. The only thing he was able to do was take of his cloak and throw it to her, he was too ashamed to look her in the eye.

He had found an excuse to visit her chambers later so he could check on her, tell her he was sorry for not helping her but she had not been there, her handmaiden had said she had not returned all day. His worry for her was starting to drive him mad. His first instinct had been to drink but somehow he had managed to ignore that, knowing he'd just end up doing something reckless. He had returned to his room and spent hours pacing back and worth wondering where she was, wondering if more harm come to her.

As it grew late and the Keep effectively shut down for the night he started to wonder if she would come to him. He found the more he paced the more he wanted it, he felt desperation at not knowing where she was or if she was ok. All the other times she had been hurt or abused, he had been the one to take her back to her rooms, to try and offer some form of comfort with his rough but well-meant words.

He had all but driven himself mad with his thoughts of jealousy, anger and anxiety before he heard her light knock on the door. At first he thought he had imagined it until he saw the handle slowly moving.

He had meant to be calm, but he ended up wrenching the door open and he could tell by the way she looked at him, startled and frightened, that despite his best efforts he must have looked angry.

He looked into her eyes, searching her face for any sign of where she had been and then wrapped his hand around her wrist and pulled her into the room before shutting the door and barring it.

'What are you doing here Little Bird?' he had asked, again with the anger. What was wrong with him! Why couldn't he just speak to her normally, he thought chastising himself.

She had stumbled over her words, then the tears had started to form. He felt terrible but he had no idea how to make them stop.

'Hush now child' he had said, placing a hand on her shoulder, trying to calm her, he had no concept of how to comfort a woman, only how to take one and even then it wasn't gently. In time her tears stopped. She fixed those perfect sapphires on him and he felt his heart beat quicken as she said 'please don't send me away'

He was torn, it was so dangerous for her to be here, for both of them. Despite living a life dedicated to obeying his master, there was a selfish side to him that usually only came out during a fight, when his bloodlust took over. But tonight he found himself being selfish in not wanting to let her go, even if his head told him to send her away he was pretty sure his selfish heart would stop beating just to punish him if he let her walk away. The way he saw it, he was dead either way.

'Come child' he had finally said trying not to frighten her again. He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her, carrying her before lying her down as gently as he could. He had wanted to pull her to him, take in her scent, feel her heart beating next to his, saviour the feeling of her but he couldn't, he just watched as she manoeuvred herself very carefully so she was on her right side.

He lay down next to her so they ended up face to face. Her eyes scanned his then suddenly her hand was touching his face. He froze at her touch, his body becoming tense at the strange feeling of someone caressing him, The Hound, so gently. When she had cupped her tiny hand around his face he couldn't resist leaning into it slightly, if only for the briefest of moments.

'You must never try to speak up for me again' she said in determined voice, he thought maybe she was angry, because he had let her down, because he hadn't been able to help her like the Imp had, he had only made things worse for her.

' Little Bird…' he had started to respond but she had cut him off. The devastation he felt was like nothing he had experienced. Worse than when his mother had run from the room in tears having set her eyes upon his burnt face for the first time.

When she locked her eyes on his he was unable to look away, no matter how ashamed he felt.

'You must never do that again, never, it is too…. too dangerous…I ..I couldn't cope if he….' She trailed off. His heart had started hammering in his chest, was she not angry with him? Was she concerned for him? So many questions were spinning round his head that he barely heard her say 'I'm tired now' before her eyes fluttered shut.

He had waited for her to remove her hand, but she hadn't, she had left it there. He had wanted to stay awake all night and watch her sleep but eventually he gave into the fire from her touch and he found himself lulled into the most peaceful sleep.

He looked at her now, she was so fucking beautiful it hurt. He lightly raised his hand and gently sat it over hers. He felt the strangest sensation in his stomach, like something was moving around in there. After watching her for a few minutes he knew he had to wake her, he used his hand to take hers before lying it on the bed in front of her. 'Little Bird' he said shaking her shoulder as lightly as he could.

Her eyes fluttered open as she tried to blink away the last of her sleep and he felt his cock twitch at the sight of her smile.

'is it time?' she asked and he thought he detected a note of sorrow in her voice, imagined it more like he thought bitterly to himself.

She sat up and looked expectantly at him for a moment, before he realised she wanted him to lift her off the bed. Gently as he could, he took her in his arms and set her on her feet. She winced in pain and reached out to hold his hand to steady herself, her grip stronger than he thought she was capable of.

When she felt steady enough she loosened her grip but still kept hold of his hand. She raised it to her mouth and lightly kissed his knuckles before curtsying and in an almost mocking tone saying 'thank you ser'

He unbarred the door and checked that no one was about outside before holding it open for her. She walked out the door, raising her hood and smiling at him before she walked away.

He shut the door, lay back on his bed and placed his hand on his cheek, where he swore he could still feel her touch.