Aha. So it was time to meet the Hound. Weasel squared her slender shoulders while the soldier with the seven-pointed star on the tabard was tying her hands on her back. Damn it. This way it would be more difficult to wrench herself free, or to stick a sword into the huge, scarred man. However, she schooled her face so that her inner turmoil couldn't be detected.
Then, they walked off. To her surprise Weasel noticed that her legs had become weak during her confinement, and it made her even more morose.
Finally, a last heavy door was opened. It lead to a guards' room.
And true enough, there was the Hound, very much like she remembered him, sitting on a chair. The fact that he had become a lord had not prompted him to change the practical, old, dark garb he had always been wearing. However, something was strange about him.
Weasel cocked her head, but she didn't get a chance to inspect the Hound any further, because the soldier pressed her down and ordered her to kneel. Grudgingly, Weasel obliged.
Seemingly, the Hound had not recognised her at once, for he spoke up with a vacant stare that went right through her (at least as far as she could see from her kneeling position): “So you're the girl who knows how to cook a good, hot soup?”
“Yes, m'lord. Though it wasn't as good as it could have been.”
Damn it, what was she doing? She couldn't speak to him like that!
The Hound snorted: “You're an outspoken one. Your name is Weasel I've been told. Is that right?”
“And what is your real name?”
“I don't know any other.”
“A dog like me can smell a lie, best believe that – and right now, it's stinking in here like the flaming Stranger's fart. I ask you again: what's your real name?”
Shit! But at least he didn't recognise her.
“I may have had another name once, m'lord, but it died together with my father.”
“Do you have any family left?”
“Perhaps, far away. Perhaps not. I haven't been able to keep track lately.”
“Such a young girl and already so bitter. Well. Wasn't any different at that age. Tell me – have you already killed someone?”
The Hound whistled and seemed to be surprised, but it was also clear he believed her. Strange when nobody else would do that easily with regard to this specific point.
Then, the scarred man suddenly changed the topic in the strangest possible way: “Could you keep a little child safe? Could you be a friend to her?”
Weasel was confused: “A child? No idea. Why do you want to know, m'lord?”
Sandor Clegane cleared his throat: “I wonder how someone like you can have become so insolent, and at that age. You don't sound like a servant. But I could need someone spirited. There's a little girl in this fortress, and like so many children she has seen bad things in this war and lost her family. Could you take care of her?”
“Do I look like a wetnurse?”
Oh shit, what on earth was going on with her that she couldn't keep her sharp tongue inside her mouth?
The Hound roared his ugly laughter for a moment, then he turned deadly serious again and rasped: “Weasel, I don't KNOW what you look like, and honestly, I don't care. The only thing I want to know is the following: Are you willing to take care of the little girl or do you prefer to rot in a cell?”
Weasel was even more confused now: why didn't he know what she looked like? It wasn't broad daylight, but there were enough torches in the sconces.
“Well, that isn't much of a choice, is it?” she asked, but didn't even sound half as defiant as she had done moments before.
“I take it as a “yes” then,” the Hound stated.
“Hmhm,” she murmured darkly.
“Then swear on your dead father that you will look after and shield Bessie and that you won't pose a threat to Harrenhal and to me and my people again.”
Damn. Now she couldn't lie. Not if she made an oath on her father. And... Bessie!? Why did the Hound talk about a child as if he cared?
A few silent moments passed by.
Finally, she gave in and ground out: “I swear.”
“Good. I had hoped you'd see the wisdom in it. – Ser Cody, take her to the bathhouse now. After the time in the dungeons she stinks like the arse of a bloody giant. Give order that she's cleaned thoroughly and that she gets a new dress.”
Again, Weasel couldn't keep quiet: “No dress, please, m'lord. I don't like dresses.”
The Hound knit his eyebrows, and he looked deep in thought.
There was a heavy moment's silence.
Then a final rasp: “Get her some squire's clothes then, Ser Cody. And when you've got her in the bath bring me the other northern prisoner I wanted to meet. – – Oh, and if you hear any news about the direwolf bitch, tell me at once.”
Weasel gasped quietly. Direwolf bitch!? Could it be? But what...?
Behind her Ser Cody answered: “Yes, my lord, understood. – Come, Weasel!”
And without further ado the soldier grabbed her by the shoulder, cut her manacle, steered her out of the room and shoved her up the stairs, into the evening light.
Weasel felt as if a thousand worms were crawling in her belly, and her heart was beating rapidly.
One little gasp. In the crucial moment. That had been enough. Then, he had been sure. Incredible as it was.
As soon as the girl had started to talk, Sandor had been sure he had heard that voice before. Only without the servant's jargon. And though she had hidden it well there had been a slightly northern accent. Plus the defiant attitude and the cleverness.
Weasel was no humble peasant girl. Never ever. When she had refused the dress his musings had taken a decisive turn, and as an afterthought he had brought up the topic with the direwolf.
And now he knew.
He was in high spirits.
The later the evening, the sweeter the surprises – and this evening promised to become an especially sweet one.