So, the update for this has also been a long time coming, but it's here at last! Yay! Please check out my tumblr account for the beautiful set of images by my friend Idril that inspired this fic :)
It was two years before Sansa and her family took another holiday by the seaside. Her father had been busy growing his own empire, and Robb had taken on a part-time position at White Wolf Logistics in addition to his college studies so that one day, he could take over the business.
Sansa had also been busy with school work, knowing that she would soon be in her final year of high school, and she was doing her best to gain recognition, and hopefully the chance to attend one of the finest design colleges in the country.
She had always had a fondness for crafts, like sewing, embroidery and sketching designs for dresses. She always received top marks in design class at school, too. But, it wasn't until her design teacher had asked her if she'd ever considered fashion design as a career option did Sansa began to take a serious interest in what she'd only ever thought of as her hobby. She'd spent most of that school year researching, and speaking to her teacher about what she needed to do to make it happen.
"Fashion?" Joffrey had asked during one of their phone conversations, "Is that really what you want to do?"
"Definitely. I can't imagine myself doing anything else,"
"Well, it's not like you could run a company like Robb, so fashion makes sense…"
Sansa admitted that she couldn't really call Joffrey her boyfriend, yet. They lived too far away from each other for any kind of proper dating as such, but they talked on the phone, emailed, Skyped and sent each other text messages often. Joffrey always told her that he couldn't wait to see her again, and when she'd tease him about other girls, he would always deny it.
"You're the prettiest girl I know," he would say, "Why would I want anyone else?"
Sansa had not told him yet, but the design school she was applying to was in the south, which would mean she would get to be closer to him, and they'd finally get a real shot at having a relationship.
For her sixteenth birthday her father had agreed to take the whole family to the seaside again, and it was with much excitement that Sansa found herself settling into the bedroom that would be hers for the next eight weeks, in the house her parents rented whenever they visited.
Joffrey had gotten taller since they had last met, and even more handsome, in Sansa's opinion. He wasted no time in picking up where they had left off, and that summer they officially became girlfriend and boyfriend.
"This is my girlfriend, Sansa,"
Sansa had not been able to wipe the smile from her face the first time Joffrey had taken her to a party and had introduced her to everyone as his girlfriend. She'd seen the envy in the eyes of the other girls, and she'd felt so happy to be the girl on his arm.
The girls in Joffrey's group of friends were tougher than Sansa, it seemed. They were more sophisticated than her, and definitely more experienced. They spoke in phrases she didn't always understand, and wore clothes that pushed the boundary between propriety and fashion. She wanted to be just like them.
Joffrey liked to party, and the friends he'd made knew where all the hottest parties were, while his name guaranteed them entry. They were both underage, but Joffrey still managed to get them into clubs and bars. It was a lifestyle Sansa had only seen on TV and in movies, and she couldn't believe she was now a part of it.
It was at one of these parties that Sansa met Margaery Tyrell, the only daughter of one of the most prominent families in the south, and family friends of the Baratheons. Margaery was seventeen, about to start her gap year like Joffrey, and was everything Sansa wanted to be. Sansa had always followed the latest fashion trends, but Margaery made her feel like a country-mouse in comparison. Margaery was gorgeous, glamorous and had a confidence about her that left no doubt in Sansa's mind that Margaery was well aware of her own sex-appeal.
Margaery invited her to go on a shopping excursion one day, and Sansa had jumped at the chance. From then on, she'd spent as much time as she could with Margaery and her girlfriends, learning their ways, and picking up their vocabulary.
It was at another of these parties that Sansa is introduced to a side of Joffrey she never knew about, and to a darker side of the lifestyle seemingly synonymous with the wealthy. She is surprised the first time she sees him light a cigarette, not knowing that he'd picked up the habit. What surprised her even more, was when she realized that it wasn't just cigarettes that he smoked.
They are at his friend's house the first time she comes across marijuana, and the first time she watches Joffrey roll a joint.
"Chill out, Sansa," he said to her, pulling her down into the sofa beside him, "No one's going to find out, and you're not going to tell anyone, right?"
"The stuff's bad for you," she said in disapproval.
"So are cigarettes and alcohol, but you don't have a problem with me smoking and drinking, do you?"
She did, but the first couple of times she'd said anything remotely critical he had snapped at her.
"You're not my mother!" he'd had a mean expression on his face she'd never seen before, and she hadn't liked it, "Don't tell me what to do."
She didn't like displeasing him, so she kept her mouth shut. Sansa remained apprehensive about Joffrey smoking pot, but after a couple more parties and nothing had happened, she hesitantly accepted that this was part of Joffrey's life, and nothing she said would change his mind.
Joffrey had pushed her to try puffing on his cigarette once, but after she'd ended up coughing till tears rolled down her cheeks and having everyone around them laugh at her, she put her foot down and he never asked her again, most probably because he didn't want her embarrassing him again.
Alcohol was another matter. Sansa didn't really like the taste of wine and beer or even champagne, so she often stuck to soft-drinks, but Joffrey soon got her acquainted with cocktails, and Sansa found that as long as whatever was in her glass was sweet, she could drink it. The trouble was, she didn't realize that having six of these in a row would have such a dreadful effect on her.
"You're drunk," Joffrey stated as Sansa had come out of the lavatory.
"She's not used to drinking," Margaery said sympathetically, "You need to take her home, Joffrey,"
"What a lightweight," Joffrey had laughed as he'd dialed a number in his phone.
Sansa could only lean against the wall as another wave of dizziness washed over her. They were in some fancy, new nightclub, and she could feel people staring and hear giggling around her as they walked by. She tried to hide her face in embarrassment. It was bad enough that Joffrey had to see her like this, and even worse that Margaery had seen her vomit into the loo.
"Here he is," Joffrey looked over her head, and Sansa instantly felt worse when she saw who he was looking at.
"Have you got all her things?" Sandor Clegane directed at Margaery.
"Purse and jacket, that's all she had with her,"
Her jacket was shortly around her shoulders, and Joffrey's surly bodyguard had a steady grip on her arm.
"Wait," Sansa looked back at Joffrey, confused, "You're not coming with me?"
"It's too early to go home, Sansa," he waved her off, "Don't worry, he'll look after you."
"Let's go," Sandor repeated, and this time he marched her out of the club despite her struggling and protesting, "If you keep carrying on like that, I won't hesitate to put you over my shoulder."
Sansa stopped immediately, knowing it wasn't just a threat, "How's Joffrey getting home?"
There were walking past the clubs and restaurants at a cracking speed, and Sansa wanted to tell him to slow down as her stomach was queasy, but feared he would think she was just making things difficult for him. They crossed the road and eventually the sound of the nightclub district faded as they entered suburbia.
"I made other arrangements for him, don't worry."
"Okay…" Sansa only managed to pull out of his grasp seconds before she was on the pavement, spewing into some poor person's garden bed.
"Fucking brilliant," she heard him say, and a second later he was kneeling over her, pulling her hair out of her face while her body tried to rid itself of the alcohol she'd consumed.
When it seemed the worst had passed, she found herself upright again, and he was dabbing at her mouth with a handkerchief.
"How much have you had to drink?"
"How many?" he repeated.
"Five, maybe six…"
"Have you eaten anything?"
"Not since lunch…"
"Ah, you stupid, little bird…" he shoved the handkerchief into her hand, "Didn't anyone tell you not to drink on an empty stomach?"
"It wasn't that many…"
"And you're too young to be drinking anyway!"
Sansa didn't say anything else while the big man kept swearing, "Come on. The car's just here."
Soon he'd bundled her into the passenger seat of the town car he drove for the Baratheons. She leaned back against the headrest, and tried to keep her breathing steady. The last thing she wanted to do was vomit inside the car.
The car slowed down and stopped earlier than she expected, and when she opened her eyes she saw that Sandor had pulled up at a gas station.
"Stay put," he said, and she watched him walk inside the shop.
When he came back, he was carrying a bottle of water, a bottle of Gatorade and a packet of plain crackers. She didn't say anything when he restarted the car, but she did speak up when he stopped the car for a second time.
"The Old Pier?" she turned to look at him, "Why are we here?"
"You don't want your parents to see you looking like that, do you?" he got out of the car, and Sansa obediently followed him to a bench overlooking the sea, "Here, wash your mouth out with this."
He handed her the bottle of water, and similarly, she obeyed him when he told her to sip on the Gatorade and nibble on the crackers. He didn't say anything to her for a long time, but Sansa didn't really feel like talking anyway. He sat at the other end of the bench, and Sansa found herself sneaking glances at him from the corner of her eye.
He was bigger than she remembered, if that were possible. The man had always seemed like a giant to her when she'd been a few years younger. He still intimidated her like no one else could, but she wasn't scared of him anymore. He now had some lines on his face that she didn't remember him having before, but she knew he was now in his early thirties, and thought the new lines didn't make him look any worse. The burn scars on his left side were still as terrible as ever, but now she didn't find them so hard to look at.
She was halfway through the packet of crackers she'd been absently chewing and swallowing, when she realized that her head no longer swam, and her stomach had finally settled. The crisp sea air had done wonders for her hangover.
She finger combed her hair, and was braiding it over her shoulder when she found Sandor Clegane watching her.
"Feeling better then," he stated
"So, did we learn a lesson tonight, little bird?"
She frowned at him, not liking the tone he was using with her. He sounded like her mother when she was reprimanding her younger brothers.
"I'm not a child," she said shortly.
He looked at her for a very long time, and for a moment Sansa believed she'd angered him somehow. But, his eyes wondered over her face and down the line of her body, before coming to rest on her face again. When he spoke, his voice was rough.
"You look like a woman," he said, "But, you're still a child."
"I'm not a child," she repeated.
"Said the girl who was puking her guts out an hour ago,"
She ignored his comment, "I'm sixteen."
"Ah…sweet sixteen," he said sarcastically, "Think you know everything, do you? I hate to break it to you sweetheart, but you know fuck-all."
"I never said I knew everything," she returned, "Just, don't speak to me like I'm a little kid."
"So, you want me to speak to you like you're an adult? Like a woman?" Sandor Clegane started laughing then, and he stood up, "Get in the car, girl. It's time you got home."
Sansa didn't say anything to him again until they were in front of her house, and she was getting out of the car. It was only her manners that made her speak.
"Goodnight, and thank you."
Sansa began walking towards the gate.
"Girl," he called after her, and Sansa turned around to see a mocking smile on his burned lips, "I'll make you a deal, all right? When you start behaving like a woman, then I'll start talking to you like you're a woman."