Sandor was in a state of internal uproar. This was fucking unbelievable! He had known that this bugger, who called himself “king”, was an arsehole of the worst kind, not unlike his own flaming brother Gregor – but this spectaculum was outrageous. And the court only watched on, snickering maliciously behind upheld hands, fascinated as if it were a mere bloody mummer's show. Well, in fact, for them that was what it was. They didn't care that the Little Bird was humbled and humiliated beyond measure. The fast, shallow breathing where Sansa was standing told him how upset she was, and he could imagine her shocked, dilated, blue eyes all too well.
On another note, he realised that Lady Sansa's impending marriage was a compensation for the thrice-damned Mockingbird since he, the Hound, had got Harrenhal. Earlier plans had meant it to be different and said that the fief should be bestowed on the Master of the Coin. So the small man with the goatee was certainly fuming that he had not been able to secure the burned fortress for himself. At least Sandor didn't have to see the man's face.
But it was clear that sodding Littlefinger would be chosen as husband now. He was a little old, but elegant and comparably good-looking, intelligent as well, and he could be charming, even if it was a false charm. Baelish was probably not the Little Bird's fucking dream knight, but he came closest to what she deemed important. And birds flocked together, even if one was a bloody Mockingbird.
In contrast to that he wasn't only a big, bad, ugly brute of a Dog any longer, but also a cripple. Blind and useless. Fuck. If only he had died right on the battlefield!
And sure enough, Sansa spoke up with a trembling voice to rule him out. Sandor didn't even listen intently.
“Lord Clegane. You are indeed a valiant warrior, I have seen it myself”, the Little Bird chirped, and he wanted to growl: “Bugger that!” But, of course, he couldn't swear in the Throne Room like that.
In the meantime, Sansa went on: “You even saved my life once – on the day of the Bread Riots. You didn't fear for yourself for a moment. And now, you helped save King's Landing; in a manner of speaking you saved me indirectly again. So I choose you.”
Only after a moment of absolute silence did it dawn on Sandor that Sansa must have said something surprising, but understanding didn't set in until Joffrey cleared his throat and he heard him make a step in his direction – but even then, his brain refused to accept what the outcome was. A whiff of the youngster's loud smell, a mix of sour-cheezy sweat and a heavy perfume nearly caused him to retch, and suddenly, Sandor's heart started to hobble in the most unruly way.
Meanwhile, the king spoke into the booming silence: “Lady Sansa, so this is your choice? Is this your last word?”
He sounded as if he had just found out his grandfather really couldn't shit gold and had accidentally stepped into the heap of dung.
The Little Bird's voice was shaking from fear, but she still answered: “Yes.”
King Joffrey seemed to be irritated for a moment when he spat: “Clegane, today is really your lucky day.”
Sandor's brain had gone to auto-pilot and caused him to answer: “I think so, Your Grace.”
A moment later, he heard a vicious sneer from the little shitstain of a king.
“Well, well. That makes things easier for me. You don't worship the Seven, so we don't need a septon here. I'll just sign a decree here and now, declaring you husband and wife. That's the easiest way. Uncle Kevan, I have already prepared the document, I only have to fill in the Hound's name. Hand it to me. And a quill. Right. Fine.”
There was a scratching sound. Quill on parchment.
“Now the seal. – Yes. Done. – Hound, Lady Sansa, I declare you husband and wife. Here is the document.”
A piece of paper was pressed into Sandor's hands.
Joffrey's malicious, lewd voice droned on: “Now that this is done other men will get their rewards for their loyalty and success as well. So take your wife now, Dog, leave and SEE TO YOUR NEW DUTIES!”
The king laughed obscenely, leaving no doubt about what his order meant, and Sandor wanted to throttle the lad with his bare hands.
“My Lord”, Sansa whispered at him and took his arm.
Sandor turned around stiffly, his head swimming, and was lead out of the throne room by the Little Bird.
This had to be a bad jape. The worst ever.
Sansa was so very much afraid of what would happen now. Holy Seven, why had she chosen HIM? Well, for the reasons she had given. She had also remembered two other scenes: when he had dabbed at her bloody lip with a handkerchief after she had been shown her father's head, and the moment when he had given her his cloak after the others had beaten and stripped her in court. In contrast, Petyr Baelish had never actually done a thing for her. At the same time, she knew what Sandor Clegane was capable of. She recalled how he had ridden down Arya's friend Mycah on Cersei's orders, how he had gutted the men who had threatened her on the day of the Bread Riots, how aggressive he was when was drunk.
Would he be aggressive now? He was blind and dependent of late, but he was still an extremely strong man. And what would happen in marriage bed? Joffrey had loved to tell her in detail what he would do to her himself once they were married, and his fantasies had been as vivid as cruel and bloody and disgusting. The mere thought of these duties left her trembling.
Suddenly, Sansa stopped dead.
“What, Little Bird?”
“I... I don't even know where your room is.”
“Take me to the fucking Godswood.”
Sansa winced. Did he want to... consummate the marriage in the open??
When they had arrived Sandor Clegane puffed angrily: “Right, no bleeding listeners here. Is there any servant or gardener who could spy on us?”
“No! We're completely alone!”
They were standing on a narrow path nearly overgrown with elderberry. She could feel the sharp edges of the pebbles on the way poke into the soles of her dainty slippers, and somewhere nearby a bluebird sounded as if it was gibing at them.
Then, the Hound turned towards her, took her chin with an iron grip and looked down at her, like he had done before – only this time he couldn't focus on her. His eyes were still a stormy grey.
“Fuck, what did that mean? Why me?”
Sansa felt tiny under his unseeing gaze.
“The king... he does what he wants to do. And... I told you in the Throne Room why it was you.”
Her... involuntary bridegroom ran his other hand through his dark, lank hair.
“Seven Hells, Little Bird, I'm no man to marry.”
Sansa chirped with an even smaller voice: “That was the reason why you were picked for me to choose. Like the others.”
Sandor Clegane let go of her chin and uttered a harsh curse that made her ears go red.
So Sansa stuttered: “I'm... I'm so sorry...”
“Aye, of course you're sorry for your choice. Baelish would have been better, wouldn't he? And now, you're already regretting your decision”, Sandor cut in sharply.
“NO!” Sansa retorted, panicking. “I didn't intend to say anything like that!”
“No, because you're always a bloody fine lady, but it's what you're thinking. Or what you'll be thinking within days. Or hours, more likely.”
Seven help, The Hound... no... San... Sandor was so very bitter – if possible, it was even worse than before... before the battle. And now, he could do everything to her he wanted. And that was also exactly what the king was expecting. Unbidden tears were streaming down her face.
“Fuck, are you whining again? Stop ululating like a boiling kettle on the hearth fire!”
Sansa's heart felt raw.
She attempted to swallow her muffled cries.
Sandor hissed. Snarled. He sounded at least as frustrated as she was.
“Seven Hells, do you know what the king wants us to do now?”
“To... to... bed me?”
The Hound nodded and didn't look intrigued at all.
“If I don't fuck you he'll say I disobeyed the king's order and have our heads on spikes. Thrice-damned Seven Hells of shit!!”
Sansa thought she'd crumple at his feet in distress any moment.
“I... I don't want you to pay for all of this with your head. I'll... comply.”
The Hound barked his grating, mirthless laughter, and a shiver ran down Sansa's spine.
“Aye, you'll comply – and you know what? It's easier for you to get fucked, because you only have to lie back and endure. I'm the one who needs a bloody stiff cock in the first place, and I still don't have a clue how I should lust after a frightened Little Bird who might puke in my face from fear and disgust at any moment. And I'm the one who will be on a level with his flaming brother when it comes to rape afterwards.”
“You... you're not like your brother.”
“How do you know? Do you know Gregor so well?”
“No, but even the little I know about the both of you is already enough to see that clearly.”
The next moment, Sansa pressed her hand on her mouth. Had she really said such a thing??
Sandor Clegane was taking hold of her chin again, but not quite as rudely as before.
“What a surprise”, he growled. “The Little Bird is opening her beak to utter an opinion of her own.”
Sansa was paralysed, and after a moment, he sighed and released her.
He said darkly: “I fear there is no way around you losing your maidenhead.”
Another low growl.
“We'll try to do it differently, Little Bird. I'll use my hand and we'll hope it'll be enough, in case anyone decides to assess your state.”
Sansa didn't know what to answer.
After a moment, her... husband ordered: “Lead us behind a bush so we can't be seen. I'll try to keep it short.”
Sansa's legs were like jelly, but she obeyed. Behind a bush she was asked to lie down, which she did. The Hound did the same. Soft moss was covering the ground here, for which she was grateful.
“You're not having your moon blood, Little Bird, have you?”
Sansa shook her head wildly, but then, she noticed that he couldn't see her and said: “No.”
“That makes things easier now. Pull up your skirts and remove your smallclothes.”
The blunt command made her shiver – but at the same time, his matter-of-factness helped her believe he wouldn't like it to torture her. Unlike Joffrey. Yes, at least, she didn't have to do this with Joffrey.
She blushed fiercely when she put off her underwear and exposed her womanhood. But she wasn't stripped brutally and gaped at like she had been in court. Sandor had actually even averted his face, even though he couldn't see her anyway. The wind was cool on her sensitive skin, and it felt so... unusual there.
“Finished?” The Hound asked.
“Guide my hand to your legs.”
Sansa felt panic surge again – but then, her... husband didn't look any happier than her. Gingerly, she took a calloused hand, blushed even more and put it on her thigh. His hand was warm and dry. And she could feel his tension. Gods, why did they have to do this, if they both didn't want it?
His hand crept upwards, to her private parts.
“You need to part your legs a little”, he rasped.
Hesitantly, she obliged. Sansa felt his big, long finger probe her entrance, and her muscles contracted.
Sandor's mouth twitched, and he swore under his breath.
“I know it's difficult – but at least TRY to relax.”
Sansa did her best, though it was near impossible. Her... husband drew some circles down there with his thumb, which caused her nervous heart to flutter even more. His index finger entered a little and found some kind of resistance. Was that her maidenhead? He probed her there again and seemed to find a little opening, for her body started to give way. There was a short sting, as if she had cut herself on a piece of paper – but not much more. It surprised her no end. After Ser Meryn's and Ser Balon's fists this was almost harmless. She did feel ashamed of the intimate touch, yes, but in comparison to the humiliating things Joffrey had done to her this was something... something she could manage.
Her new husband moved his hand a little. Sansa uttered a tiny mewl at the sensation.
“Your body is reacting on instinct. You're getting a little wet, even if it's not much. Still. Good for you,” Sandor commented flatly, and Sansa was embarrassed, though at the same time she wasn't as afraid any more as she had been minutes before. In fact, she was even surprised that her body seemed to be doing something right of its own accord.
Sandor added a second finger and widened her further. It felt uncomfortable, but it didn't hurt much. And a moment later, the fingers were gone. After having been stretched so much Sansa felt strangely empty, though only for a little instant – then, a wave of relief washed over her.
The Hound sniffed at the hand he had used, and caused Sansa to flush another shade of red.
“Copper smell. There is a little blood on my fingers, isn't it?” Sandor Clegane inquired.
“A... a drop or so”, Sansa admitted.
Sandor nodded gravely to himself and told her to put on her clothes again and to lead him to a small nearby pond so he could wash his hands.
Sansa felt a little raw between her legs, but to be honest, her moon blood was worse than that. She was confused. That had been it? She wasn't a maid any longer? How strange. Plus she didn't feel any different, neither any wiser nor more experienced or anything the like.
Sandor had always known he was a disgusting monster, but never before had he hated himself so much. He'd wanted to kill himself with the next dagger he came across, if he had not feared fucking Joffrey would marry the Little Bird off to another brute the next instant.
Fuck, he had taken something from Sansa that had never been meant for him. And she had been a maiden just flowered and not yet ripe for picking, whatever else other men would say about her having had the first moon blood.
She was so delicate and tender, and apart from her maiden's blood he had also smelled her sweet female scent, and her body had been warm where he had touched her. It all felt so damned wrong!
While he was kneeling in the grass and washing his hand in the cold water of the pond he suddenly heard his unhappy bride say: “I've got... a question.”
“Then bloody go ahead with it!”
A moment's pause.
Then: “King Joffrey said: 'Take your wife now, leave and see to your new duties!' – Now, Harrenhal is one of your duties, too, isn't it?”
“If I ever chose to care about the ruin – aye.”
“Doesn't it mean you have to look after it? Probably live there? Could you interpret Joffrey's words literally and take me to the Riverlands?”
Sandor stopped dead for a moment. Then, he threw his head back and laughed madly.
“Little Bird, you're in your castles in the skies again! As if any guard would let us leave! And just in case you've forgotten: I'm blind now. I'm useless. Couldn't even cut down a straw puppet right in front of me any longer, much less a buggering knave on the road. And how the fuck should we travel? Would the lady need an entourage? A nice, gilded cart that reminds her of her cage?”
He knew he was being cruel again, but he was long beyond caring.
“Seven Hells, Little Bird, we could rather expect our king to annul our marriage and to marry you off to somebody else, just to make you a real whore.”
As soon as the words had left his mouth Sandor was suddenly sure: that was what the king intended! It would be the greatest fun for the little crowned shitstain to hand Sansa from one man to another to another... and a worldly marriage decree of the king was so much easier to disband than a match sealed in the Sept of Baelor... SHITSHITSHIT! A second later, the Hound remembered how Joffrey had once inveighed against the Imp that his uncle's taste for whores was so insatiable that there were not enough women of their profession in the Seven Kingdoms.
Had Sandor been sick already – he now wanted to puke.
Fuck, he would not leave the Little Bird to the blasted Halfman!
“Find me someone, who can lead me to my room. A servant. Then, you go to your own chamber. Put on a normal dress, something unspectacular, if possible. Wear a pair of boots, or firm shoes – whatever you've got. Then, you take a bag. Put in a second dress and some smallclothes. A comb, if you absolutely need it, and all the jewellery you've got. Don't wear any necklace or the like openly. Fasten a cloak around your shoulders. Nothing in bright colours – your hair is more than bright enough. Actually, it would be good, if you could hide it under a hood or veil, or something like that. Then, you come down to the yard. Meet me there. There shouldn't be many people around, because the gathering of the court and the distribution of rewards will take all day.”
Sansa was so intimidated that she didn't dare to make a peep. She was confused; one moment, the Hound declared her mad that she wanted to leave the Red Keep – and the next, his scarred face contorted from fury, and he was suddenly giving her orders for packing. Holy Mother, what did it all mean??
She did as she was asked, though. When they arrived at the entrance to the Godswood, they came across a sentry on his round; his armour rattled when he came to a sudden halt.
“What are YOU doing here??” the man asked, clearly thunderstruck. “Shouldn't you be in the Throne Room?”
Then, the Hound snarled: “I've just fucked my bride, as the king expected me to do. If you don't believe me, ask King Joffrey. He's in one of his GENEROUS moods today.” Next, he grabbed into his tunic, where he had stuffed their wedding papers and waved it under the man's nose.
The sentry seemingly couldn't read, Sansa noticed, but he knew the royal seal. His eyes flicked in disbelief from the document to Sansa to the Hound, so she turned as red as a beetroot and looked away in shame. Gods, did he have to be so vulgar and talk like that about the intimacies they'd shared? But obviously Sandor Clegane knew which words to use for a mean soldier: the sentry stood aside with a scowl and let them pass.
When they entered the fortress again, the Hound... no, her husband, she had to learn that, rasped darkly: “Right. If anybody asks the little bugger he'll confirm I'm just obeying the king's orders.”
A moment later, they passed a servant in a corridor, and Sandor Clegane was on him with a snarl and started to give the skinny, elder man – who was paralysed from fear of Joffrey's burned sworn shield – his orders.
Sansa rushed off to her own room, the echoes of her light steps bouncing off the stony walls, and made haste, just like her... her husband had told her to do. She barely met a single person on her way, since everybody wanted to see the big spectaculum down in the Throne Room, and many servants were confined to the kitchens or the royal wing, because there should be a feast after all the heroes of the Blackwater Battle had been rewarded, and people wanted to celebrate their victory over Stannis.
In front of her chamber, there was no guard for once, and neither was anyone inside. Good. With swift fingers she rummaged through her few possessions. She didn't own much. A golden necklace Joffrey had given her in their early days, and a pendant with some garnets from Cersei. She'd make good use of the jewellery and sell it soon, if Sandor Clegane allowed it. Her dresses were all horribly tight; she had hoped for some new robes in the near future, because she had grown so much, but now, it would have to wait. So her bundle turned out very small.
Faster than she would have believed possible she was ready and dashed down to the yard.
The Hound's black, harnessed courser was just being led out of the stables, but it wasn't saddled yet. Stranger, the fierce steed's name was Stranger, Sansa remembered and shook her head at that blasphemous name.
Her... bridegroom hadn't arrived yet. But a little later, she heard his heavy, measured steps. She turned around and saw him approach, being lead by a servant again. In addition to his normal clothes, he was wearing his mail shirt and a short sword on his hip. His own, small bundle was stripped to his back.
Ever since Joffrey had called her forward to the Iron Throne today her heart had been pumping madly, but now, she was so nervous she thought her legs would give way under her! Would they really manage to leave King's Landing? Or would they be caught and die?
Sandor's body was full of adrenaline. What he was doing was nothing short of suicide. They were mad even to try this foolishness. He could hear his horse neigh.
“Already there. A swift Little Bird you are. Now mount Stranger here.”
“He... he hasn't been saddled.”
“Of course not, stupid Bird! The knob of the saddle would be too high for you, and we have to ride double. Blind as I am, you have to sit in front of me and take the reins.”
He heard a little gasp.
“But... but how shall I mount? I'm such a bad and inexperienced rider! And your Stranger is so... lively.”
Sandor grunted irritatedly: “A vicious beast – that's what you want to say, right? Well, come over here to the stairs, you'll have to try to mount from an elevated position then.”
In the end, they both landed in the mud of the yard once. Mounting a horse without a saddle, but with another rider already sitting on horseback when you were blind was bloody more difficult than he had expected. Finally, they were dirty, but seated, Sansa's body pressed against his for need of support – and Stranger was very annoyed and excited after their clumsiness. He showed it clearly by shaking his mane and snorting and whinnying until Sandor put his hands on Sansa's for a moment and reined him in.
Slowly, they started to trot off, and it was certainly a bloody sorry sight for any possible onlooker – in a different context, Joffrey would have shat himself with glee.
Then, they were facing the first guard.
He stopped them.
“Where are you going?” he demanded to know.
“Leaving on King Joffrey's orders. Lady Sansa is my wife now, here is the king's wedding decree. See? And the king told me to take my wife, to leave and to see to my new duties. Since His Grace has just bestowed Harrenhal upon me, my duty is to take care of it – so this is where we're heading.”
“I'm pretty sure King Joffrey was just referring to bedding your... bride.”
“So you claim to know what the king meant with his words? I guess His Grace will be most interested to hear that. And react accordingly. Apart from that – fucking my wife is ONE duty. And we have already fulfilled it, I can bloody tell you. And I'll do it again at any time, if necessary on horseback, if it suits His Grace. But King Joffrey was talking of dutIES. Even your fucking wizened brain should realize that that's more than ONE duty. So, he was clearly talking of my wife AND Harrenhal. And since it's a bloody haunted place, as everyone knows, I've got to go and see to things myself. Well, 'see' is not the right word, replace it with 'smell' then, since I'm a Dog. I don't need my eyes. I can still kill a man, don't you ever doubt that, because I can smell his fear and know where he is.”
Sandor sniffed, and tipped his finger right on the guard's nose. It was a lucky strike, but the man didn't have to know that. Then, The Hound moved the hand away with a fluent motion, and his dagger glided from his sleeve into his hand in an instant.
Sandor heard the man gulp noisily, and Sansa uttered a tiny squeal, too. That wasn't helpful at all, but he knew the guard, some Eddy Tollbritt, and the man's mouth was bigger than either his cock, his brain or – most important – his courage. And true enough, the man coughed: “Well, with two people on one horse – a delicate lady and a blind man – you won't be fast, I guess, and if you... misinterpreted the king's orders he'll be fast enough to catch you again.”
The next moment, they were through the first gate. Somehow, the clopping of Stranger's hooves on the cobbled street was too loud in Sandor's ears, perhaps because he knew that they would have to face more guards.
However, it turned out to be easier than they had thought. Though blind, the Hound – known for his loyalty to the Lannisters – still inspired so much fear that the sentries shrank back from him and let them pass. Even at the city gate it was the same. And then, they were out of King's Landing.
Sandor thought that the air was suddenly fresh and sweet, now that they had left the stench of the capital behind... and the fact that he had Sansa's lovely hair right under his nose added to the impression. Still, he was sure they'd be stopped soon. Stopped and killed. The only question was whether it would be a swift death on the road, or a slow, torture-induced demise. He could only hope for the former variant.