This story is inspired by a beautiful SanSan photoset created by the awesome xxxidrilxxx - please see my profile for the link to see the full image on tumblr!

Future chapters to come! I hope you like the first part!

All characters belong to GRRM!

The First Encounter

She was just a kid, the first time he saw her.

He recalled her blue eyes, wide with excitement, long limbs and a mass of fiery auburn hair. He recalled incessant chatter, too. The girl loved to talk, and occasionally he hadn't been able to contain his irritation at her constant prattling. He'd been told her name was Sansa. It was a fitting name, he'd thought, a pretty name for a pretty, chirping, little bird. For that's what she reminded him of. She was twelve years old and accompanying her father, Eddard Stark, on a business trip to the south.

Her father was the owner of White Wolf Logistics, and his fleet of trucks and network of subcontracted freight companies in the northern parts of the country was crucial to the success of Robert Baratheon's growing empire of businesses, all headed under the banner of Crowned Stag Imports. Robert's other advantage lay in the location of his warehouses and distribution centers. Their seaside locale had one major commercial port, and Robert had a virtual monopoly on the surrounding industrial estates. Once his shipping containers hit the docks, they were on a White Wolf Logistics truck as soon as customs would allow it, and transported to various retailers and outlets throughout the country. The partnership of Wolf and Stag made both men among the wealthiest in the United Kingdom.

Sandor was employed by the Baratheon family. First, they'd taken him on as a driver for Robert's wife, Cersei. But after some training and showing an aptitude for it, he'd been reassigned to their security team. Then when the Baratheon's eldest son hit school age, he'd been made the kid's minder. In other words, he'd become a glorified babysitter. It wasn't the best gig in the world, but neither was it the worst. The Baratheon's had given him a job when many had turned him away, and they paid him a decent salary.

The Baratheon's had multiple properties, including a grand house in the country that they often visited on weekends and a chalet in the Alps where they often took holidays. However, their main residence was a multi-level, waterfront terrace house that was a short drive away from Robert's offices, and a short walk away from the local seaside eateries and attractions.

The Piers, as they were simply known, were two of those attractions. The oldest of the two piers, now referred to as the Old Pier, was first built in the early 1800's, and had been damaged and repaired so many times over the two centuries since its construction that it now stood in a patchwork of aged wood that was creaky in places, iron railings and seawater-stained paint. More often than not, the pier would be 'closed for maintenance', banning visitors from walking along it. People still came to see it, learn about its history, take pictures and then leave to walk along the newer and infinitely safer Greater Pier.

The Greater Pier was a hundred and fifty years younger, built of concrete and steel and was wide enough to fit thirty people standing shoulder-to-shoulder. It was also built closer to the marina, where many pleasure vessels were berthed, and where the fancy restaurants, boutiques and bright lights attracted the vast majority of visitors.

Sandor preferred it that way. His job meant he was around people all day, and most of the time it was people he didn't care for in the slightest. The dilapidated pier offered him a place to walk, think and have a cigarette without interruption. He liked the solitude he could often find at the furthest tip of the Old Pier.

Eddard Stark's business trip lasted almost a week, and during one visit to the Baratheon house, Cersei had instructed the Nanny to take her three children and the Stark girl for a walk down to the Greater Pier to buy treats at the ice cream parlour, while the adults talked business. Dutifully, Sandor had followed close behind them and tried to ignore the fact that the little bird had been doing her best not to stare at the scars that covered the left side of his face.

The Nanny was in her fifties, and most of the time the woman was harassed and irritated. Looking after Joffrey Baratheon would drive anyone to insanity, and Sandor would know. If the boy wasn't with his Nanny, he was with Sandor. The boy had a begrudging respect for him, but the kid liked to test his limits, just to see how far he could push it before Sandor snapped.

Sandor had taken his eyes away from the Nanny and the four children in her care for only a moment, but in that space of time Joffrey and the red-haired Sansa had wandered away from the Greater Pier on their own. He let them go, but he watched them, as was his job to do. When it became clear they were heading in the direction of the Old Pier, he followed them.

The Old Pier was closed that day, and a sign had been hung up on the metal chain at the entrance of the pier. He was expecting that his two charges would just find some place to sit and goof around like adolescents do, away from the younger children. But it seemed Joffrey had other ideas.

Sandor watched and frowned. Joffrey was ducking under the metal chain, and calling Sansa to follow him onto the pier. The girl was pointing to the sign proclaiming the pier closure, but Joffrey must have called her a name because she stopped smiling, and now he looked to be egging her on.

"Don't follow him, you silly girl." Sandor muttered.

Nonetheless the girl ducked the chain link, and now she and Joffrey were walking along the potentially unsafe pier. Sandor knew there was probably little chance of actual danger; he was guilty of ignoring the closure sign himself on occasion. But, the Baratheon brat was unpredictable, and Sandor wasn't going to risk it.

He quickened his pace, and his long strides saw him catch up with them in no time. Sandor caught the girl by her elbow. She turned at the contact and the sharp yank on her arm, gasping in fright when she saw his face.

"What the hell do you kids think you're doing?" he yelled, louder than was necessary, "Can't either one of you read? The pier's closed!"

"I…I tried to…to tell him –" the girl stuttered.

"But you still fucking followed him, didn't you?" he saw her wince at his use of the profanity, "Are you stupid? If he told you to jump off it, would you?"

"No! I…I wouldn't!"

He could see that he was frightening her. He swore again, then looked up to find Joffrey looking at them with some alarm on his face.

"You rotten kid!" he shouted at Joffrey, "Ignore that sign again, under my watch, and I'll throttle you. Now get back here, so we can get off this sodding pile of wood scraps."

He grabbed the boy by the scruff of his shirt, and with his hand still around the girl's elbow, he marched them off the pier, letting them go only when their feet hit the concrete path.

"Get back to your Nanny, boy," Sandor shoved Joffrey back towards the direction of the ice cream parlour, before glancing down at the trembling redhead, "Think I'm frightening, do you, girl? Then you'd best start thinking for yourself. You won't want to see me angry, and I'd be very angry if you let that boy get you into trouble and I have to be the one to get you out of it."

"I won't," she shook her head, eyes still wide with fright, "I promise."