Cut it out and then restart

"You won't hurt me." she says and looks at him, properly looks at him for the first time. There is no fear on her face now and no pity either, instead there is understanding and a glimmer of...

If he still had a heart then it would've been fit to break at such a look.

"No, little bird, I won't hurt you." he tells her, more gently than he ever has and turns to go. She has made her decision and he will not break her false belief in his goodness by dragging her from here.

He stops before he reaches the door and turns to look back at her, to the beginnings of grief on her face. He could leave her now and be gone quickly with none the wiser but he had made himself a promise. He may be a craven bastard but he can do one last good thing, release the little bird from her gilded cage and help her to fly away.

"Stannis might not hurt you," he tells her, "But he won't bloody well let you fly home either. You'll be a pretty hostage to him to ensure your brother's loyalty. Maybe he'll marry you to one of his men to make sure of it."

He waits, gives her a moment to think about it. He will leave her to her fate if that's her choice.

She takes a deep breath, a breath to still a sudden burst of fear and nods.

He wonders if he is simply the lesser of two evils.


She gathers her things quickly, knotting them in a blanket, and they are away.

He thrusts his cloak at her roughly but not unkindly. "Take it, girl. It's cold out and you'll soon be complaining otherwise."

She wraps it around her shoulders and wonders if it is the same one that he had given her the day Joffrey would have stripped her. It would be fitting perhaps, like a song. A sign of his protection around her shoulders.

Sansa briefly thinks of the moment when a man is supposed to drape a cloak around a woman's shoulders in a sign of protection but no... No.

He takes two horses from the stables but lifts her onto his anyway, large hands warm around her waist. He ties the other horse to his own and climbs up in front of her.

"Till we're past the fighting." he tells her, "Safer this way."

She thinks of the riot, of how he had come back for her then when he never needed to, of the strength in him as he saved her, his hands on her at that time.

She clutches his sides tightly as he sets his horse off at a run.

When they reach the fighting and he pulls out his sword, she tucks her head in against his back and closes her eyes.


She is quieter than he had expected her to be, courtesies no longer spilling from her lips like afterthoughts. He wonders if she has forgotten them all. He wonders if she thinks they do not apply now, in this place and with him.

They make slow progress north, avoiding the main roads and the fighting.

He can tell that she is exhausted and sore from riding but she never complains and come nightfall she simply collapses gratefully onto the ground, wraps herself in his cloak and goes to sleep.

He could lie next to her, use an excuse of giving her warmth and put an arm around her as the night went on, and she would even be grateful for it perhaps. He does not though, he keeps his distance, keeps his sword close to hand.

A woman's body she might have but she is still a child, dreaming of handsome knights, true knights. He is no knight and has never been true to anyone, but he has sworn to protect her from anyone that would hurt her, even himself.

He might love her if he had a heart to love but he is not certain that he has ever learned how.

She looks at him now, square in the face with no fear or distaste and he knows she sees a protector, a friend. She looks inside him and somehow the stupid little bird sees a good man. She is the first person he remembers who has ever been fool enough to see goodness in him.

He wants her, all gods be damned. He wants her desperately, so badly he aches with it, but even more than that there is some part of him, a part which he had believed long dead, which wants to be the man that she sees when she looks at him.