1. Fleeing her Golden Cage

Some instinct made her lift her hand and cup his cheek with her fingers. The room was too dark for her to see him, but she could feel the stickiness of the blood, and a wetness that was not blood. "Little bird," he said once more, his voice raw and harsh as steel on stone. Then he rose from the bed. Sansa heard cloth ripping, followed by the softer sound of retreating footsteps.

She turned around to see what the Hound had ripped off and found his white cloak on the floor by the bed. Her hand went out to it, and as her fingers brushed against it lightly, Sansa realized that he wouldn't be able to get out of the city without the cloak. And then the sharp reality of it really struck her. He was going away and had just offered to take her with him! Was she mad? What was she still doing here? If she wanted to survive, now was the time. Without thinking it over Sansa scrambled out of bed and grabbed the cloak from the floor before running from her bedroom. She reached him near the end of the corridor and he turned to see her gasping a little for breath, his torn white cloak clutched tight to her.

"Your sword might help but the white cloak may come in handier than you seem to think when we get out of the Red Keep and the city gates," she told him breathlessly, chest heaving.

Sandor Clegane's scarred and bloody face looked down at her, and for a moment Sansa was not sure he'd heard her. Her mind was racing. She knew that if she stayed in King's Landing nothing good lay in store for her. If Lord Stannis won then Queen Cersei would have her head chopped off by Ser Illyn like he did with her father; and if Lord Tyrion managed to come out of the battle as the winner, then Joffrey and his beatings would be her reward for not deserting the king in the hour of peril. She had actually forgotten Ser Dontos at the moment- everything that that happened since returning to her bedroom moments before had driven him out of her mind. She was only aware that the Hound was offering her an immediate way out of all this madness, along with protection. If there's anyone who can help me escape, surely it's the Hound.

Meanwhile, the Hound still looked down at her without saying a word, so Sansa, feared the effect of the wine was wearing off, and that he was beginning to think he had made a mistake. Maybe he's realizing he doesn't want me to go with him. Yet, she ventured most humbly, "Here, kneel down and I'll put the cloak back on."

After blinking away the wetness in his eyes a couple of times he did as she said, and Sansa tied the soot and blood-stained fabric on his back, barely noticing how his armor was not only bloodied but dented and scorched as well.

He stood up swaying slightly and grabbed her hand with his own big callused one.

"Come with me then," he finally said. "We have to get away from here, and now."

But he had not walked on three steps when Sansa said, "Wait. Can't I… can't I bring anything along with me?"

The Hound chuckled and shook his head. "There's no time for it, little bird. We must fly away now before it is too late. And besides," he said, cocking his head slightly to one side, "What would you bring along? Dresses, books and your harp? You'll have no need for them for a long time, I'm afraid."

Sansa could not help scowling up at him. "I was actually thinking of a warm cloak and my jewels. It's not much but we might be able to sell them for something."

She was pleased to see the surprised expression he gave her, along with a look of admiration.

"You're right again, little clever bird. Go on then, but you better be quick about it."

Sansa turned on her heels towards her opened bedchamber and instantly made for her little golden jewelry box. Then she went to her wardrobe for the thickest fur coat she could find and made a bundle of it with the box inside. The wildfire's light clashed with the darkness of the room once more and she saw the empty wine flagon the Hound had thrown to the floor moments before. If they see it they might realize he was the one who helped me escape. She grabbed it and flung it through the window.

The Hound appeared at her door then. Apparently, the fact that she was now coming along seemed to have sobered him up a bit. As she was putting on her left riding boot, he asked, "All done?"

She nodded, trying to keep her heart from beating so loudly. Did it beat for fear or for joy that she would never lay eyes on Joffrey again? Surely the latter. She knew somewhere deep inside her that no harm could come to her as long as the Hound was at her side- he'd told her as much just moments ago- but he had also held her at knife-point… Still, Sansa was certain they would manage to get out of the city somehow.

"Let's go".

Sandor Clegane took a tight hold of her hand once more and neither of them looked back as they fled…