Title: The Songbird's Winter

Warnings: Mature content advisory - Language, violence, and sexuality

Pairings: Sansa Stark/Sandor Clegane

Spoiler Warnings: References up to A Clash of Kings, and possibly spoilers from A Storm of Swords if I decide to keep the fic in line with the original ASOFAI storyline. I'll post warnings beforehand, though.

Note: In this story, Sansa is currently 13 years of age - I can't remember her age when she first flowered (if you know for sure, please let me know), though she was 11 when first taken to Kings Landing. She may also seem a bit more mature, but then that's because I like to believe that after all the Lannister's did to her, she's learned something about trusting gallant men.

Thank you, and please let me know what you think!

-Kerrigas

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Prologue

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The ocean was aflame with green. Crushed ships sank slowly into the flames as yet others attempted to flee, the sails already crawling with greedy green tongues. Even from her window, Sansa Stark could hear the screams of dying men, burning alive or throwing themselves into the sea. Sansa spotted a single banner – a stag head surrounded by red flames – before the red was replaced by green. She wondered if the Lord of Light could have anticipated the power of Wildfire.

The scene was as mesmerizing as it was brutal. The black sky glowed with green cinders that reminded her of the glowing firebugs she would oft see by the river. Sansa forced herself to leave the window, glancing around her room for the few belongings she might need. Beyond packing, she had no idea what to do. Where was she to go? How was she to leave? Could she hide? As soon as Stannis' men broke through the wall, they would kill her. They would rape her, and kill her. Sansa clutched her arms and hurried to her wardrobe, pulling out the warmest, plainest clothes she owned. She longed to bring along the gorgeous silks and velvets that filled her closet, but even she knew that she would easily be caught if she wore those on her escape. After a moment's musings, however, she filled a small cloth sack with jewelry and precious stones. She had no gold, or even silvers or coppers, and surely the jewelry could be exchanged for viable coin.

She was about to roll up the furs from her bed when the door suddenly slammed open. Sansa whirled around, nearly tripping over a pair of overturned boots as she did, heart pounding. A huge, shadow of a man stood in the doorway. Water dripped from his scarred face and pooled onto the floor in black rivulets. Sansa hugged the cloth sack closer to her chest, backing up a few steps. How had the king's Hound found her? She had made certain she was not followed when she rushed to her room. He was supposed to be on the battlefield, not in her room.

"Ser…?" She said cautiously. The man glanced up at her from behind dark hair, eyes glittering like obsidian arrowheads. He approached her slowly, heavy footsteps creaking on the wooden floorboards. The door was still open behind him, and Sansa considered making a dash for it, but the Hound simply turned and sat at the foot of her bed. Sansa edged backwards nervously, fingering at the cloth bag.

"Ser… I-"

"Don't call me ser," Sandor Clegane rasped. Sansa flinched at the sharp rebuke. "I'm not a knight."

"Is… is the battle over?" She asked, after a momentary pause. "Have we won?" The Hound replied with a choked rasp, which she assumed to be a laugh. She could smell the alcohol on his breath from near across the room.

"What does it matter? Stannis, Joffrey, they're all just a bunch of dogs fighting over a piece of meat." Sansa said nothing. Sandor pulled out a skin of wine and took a long swig. Sansa suddenly noticed he was shaking.

"Why did you leave?" she asked quietly. The Hound looked up at her, and Sansa feared she may have insulted him. He rose to his feet, swaying slightly before edging forward and cornering her against the wall. Sansa's eyes darted toward the open doorway again. She tried to look at him, but the horrid red scar forced her to look away again. If the Hound had noticed, he said nothing.

"This isn't a war anymore," he said. "It's a massacre. Blood and steel, aye. That's a battle, that's a war. But sorcery, murderous shadows… fire." She saw him shudder, and green shadows danced on his scars. He was scared, and she realized that fear no longer clutched her own heart.

"You're hurt," she said. The dripping she had believed to be water was actually blood, almost black in the dark room. It dribbled from a wound on his forehead along his scar.

"I'm leaving," Sandor said.

"What do you mean? What about Joffrey?"

"I mean what I said. Fuck the kingsguard, and fuck the king. Don't tell me you care for him, after everything he's done to you." Sansa flinched, but she couldn't forget the still-healing bruises that littered her skin after her once-beloved had had her publicly beaten and humiliated. She looked down.

"What are you going to do, once you leave? They'll hunt you down. Will you join the wall?" Sandor spat.

"I could, but that would just make me some other man's dog. I'm done with being tied up and down. Come with me." Sansa first thought she had misheard, and then glanced up, startled.

"You can't be serious," she said.

"I can protect you. Take you to Winterfell."

"Winterfell is gone," Sansa said bitterly. "I can't go there anymore."

"I can take you to your mother." Sansa clutched the cloth bag closer. To see her mother again. And Robb. For all she knew, they were all she had left. Arya had disappeared since her father's execution, and Bran and Rickon…

"Why would you do this?" She whispered. The Hound fixed her with a fierce look.

"A little caged bird won't last long with a neglectful owner." It wasn't what she had meant, but she understood that the Hound would offer her no better answer.

"I… It will be dangerous," she stammered. "There are outlaws. And Stags."

"And Krakens and Lions, and each of them will kill you or ransom you to someone meaner. If it's not Joffrey, it will be someone else." Sansa nodded.

"I know," she said, voice trembling. "But I can't tell which is worse." The Hound lifted her chin with a calloused hand.

"Choose," he rasped. Sansa forced herself to look upon his face. The scar was fierce, his eyes fiercer. But even the huge, bloodstained hands of the Hound were more gentle then Joffrey's had ever been.

"I'll come," she said. The Hound nodded and ripped the soiled white cloak off his shoulders, wrapping it around her.

"Then ready yourself, little bird. This will not be an easy voyage."

...

.:Author's Note:. This is my first ASOFAI fanfic, and I am very excited! I've been obsessed with this series since I started reading it about a month ago. I can't wait to see what George R.R. Martin does with this series. However, I found myself particularly entranced by the relationship between Sansa Stark and Sandor Clegane, and was quite disappointed by the HBO series' complete and utter disregarding of the special moments between the two. I wish there had been more between Sansa and Sandor, even in the books, and so I imagined what it would have been like if Sansa had eloped with Sandor when he'd asked. Ironically, I quite hated Sansa until recently.

Please bear with my poor narration and primitive canon memory,

- Kerrigas