A Lightness


Chapter 038





When he woke up, he didn’t know what to think. He felt the pain before he opened his eyes. His leg. What the fuck happened to it? The first thing he saw was Shae. She hit him, clearly not caring about the state of agony he was already in.

“What happened to her! What did you do!”

“What? Who?” He said, trying to block her blows.

Shae moved out of the way and pointed behind her. “Her!”

He hadn’t seen her for three days. Not since her nameday. And here he was, lying next to her in the wheelhouse. She was asleep, or unconscious. Her hair a mess, fanned out behind her on the pillow. Her shoulder was wrapped tightly to her chest and her hands were bandaged.

“What happened to her?” He ignored the searing pain in his leg as he tried to get up, resting on his elbows. But Shae pushed him back. He looked down at his leg. It was completely bandaged. It was a kind of hurt that he only experienced once before in his life. Was I burned? “What happened?” He asked Shae roughly.

“One moment she is standing next to me,” Shae said. “The next she’s gone! The rain put the fire out-“

“Fire?” So he had been burned. But how?

“Yes fire. What do you mean? You don’t remember?” Shae said.


Shae looked at Sansa. “There was a fire in one of the tents in the middle of the night. They say she went running toward it. We found her, with you, on the other side of the river. You were both soaked to the bone, freezing cold and unconscious. Your leg was burned, her hands were blistered and her shoulder was out of place again.”

Sandor couldn’t remember anything. He remembered getting properly drunk before going back to his tent to sleep another miserable night away.

“Was it my tent that was on fire?”

Shae shrugged. “Maybe. I don’t know.”

He was so confused he didn’t know what to think. He looked at Sansa. “Is she going to be alright?”

Shae shrugged again, her eyes were red. “I don’t know. She has a fever from the cold. She’s been sweating and shivering since last night.” Her face was pale and it looked clammy. “There are no inns between here and Winterfell and I don’t know what to do with herr. We have nothing for your burns, her blisters.” Shae was completely distraught.

Sandor glanced out the window. It looked to be midday. He looked around the wheelhouse, frustrated that he couldn’t move. “Put another fur on her, cover her chest. You need to sweat the fever out.”

Shae did as she was told, pulling another heavy fur up to Sansa’s chin. Sandor sighed and tried to relax against the cushion. He winced as he moved his leg, the burned flesh rubbing underneath the dry bandage making him cringe. Can’t be as bad as my face. Sandor turned his head toward Sansa. Her skin was so white. Not the beautiful soft color is usually was, a pale sickly color. She will wake up, he thought. He decided that he wouldn’t look away from her until she did.


Sansa opened her eyes, for what felt like the first in a very long time.


“Shae?” Her voice was weak, her throat dry. Sansa blinked a few times. She was in the wheelhouse. It was moving.

The last thing she remembered was laughing at the rain, shivering in thecold. And Sandor. He said my name.

“Sandor?” She tried to sit up, frantically remembering.

Shae grabbed her shoulder and laid her back down against the soft cushion. Sansa winced at the pain in her shoulder. It was back in place, she wondered how. She felt at her hands. They were bandaged. Shae looked at her once she was settled. “He’s alright. He’s here.” Shae looked to the right and Sansa’s eyes followed.

Sandor was there. Laying down, opposite her. Through her hazy eyes, she saw a look in his eyes that she had never seen before. Relief? He shuddered out a breath and turned away.

“How long has it been, since the fire?”

“It was the night before last. Its midday now. And we are about three days from Winterfell.”

Sansa nodded. Shae continued. She looked upset. “You’ve had a fever Sansa. This is the first time you’ve come out of it! We found you two, soaking wet and freezing cold by the river.” Shae looked like she would hit her or shake her if she wasn’t injured and ill. “What happened? Why did you run!”

She realized Shae wouldn’t have known. Maybe they didn’t know that I saved him? She felt so silly thinking of it. Me saving the Hound. Suddenly Sansa realized that Sandor might not know what had happened either. But her eyes were heavy and her mouth was dry. She just wanted to sleep.

When she woke again, the wheelhouse was dark. She had a fur over her. She heard the wind roaring outside, Shae lightly snoring somewhere in the wheelhouse with her. But that wasn’t all. She heard someone else, breathing steadily. She looked across the space to her left where the noise had come from. The light of the moon coming through the window was bright enough that she could make out his shape. He was slightly propped up on his folded arms underneath his head. He stared at the ceiling. He was awake.


He turned toward her, at the sound of her voice. Her nose was clogged, from being out in the cold she figured, so her voice sounded off. She sounded sick. He didn’t say anything as he looked at her, he just turned his head back to the ceiling.

“What- what are you doing in here?” She asked him softly. She didn’t want to wake Shae. She just couldn’t believe she had been sleeping in the same room as Sandor. Just mere feet away from him. It made her blush, just thinking about it.

He cleared his throat. “Can’t ride. Can’t really move.”

He gestured toward his leg. He had a fur over the rest of his body, but his left leg was exposed, elevated on a cushion. It was bound tightly in bandages, from his upper thigh to his mid-calf.

“Right. How is it then?”

“I’ve had worse.” He let out a bitter laugh. Sansa didn’t know what to say to that. He waited a moment, before speaking again. “What happened? I don’t remember a thing. Just falling asleep, drunk.”

She remembered everything about saving him. And she was glad she did, even with the sickness, blisters and busted shoulder. She would have done it again. She told him, from the beginning. Waking up, not seeing him, Stranger acting more strange than usual. How she ran to the fire, found him inside and pulled him out. How she put out the fire on his leg, dragged him into the river and pulled out her shoulder. She mentioned the flaming branch, swimming away and taking him back out of the river. Sansa felt a little ridiculous saying it all. It didn’t sound like her. She still couldn’t believe she managed to do it all.

“Thank you.” He said. Words she never expected to hear from him. “You shouldn’t have done- any of that.”

“You would have done it for me.” He didn’t say anything. She took a breath. “How did the fire start? Did you have a candle?

He looked at her, his eyebrow raised. “Me? You’re asking me if I brought a candle into my tent.”

“Right.” She shook her head. “It’s just, you were nowhere near the fire in the middle of the camp. I don’t understand how it could have started.

“Neither do I.”

“Aren’t you curious?”

“Of course. If someone tried to kill me, I would like to know who.”

Sansa stopped breathing for a moment. She felt so stupid, but she hadn’t even thought of that. Who could have, or would have lit the fire? Who would want to hurt Sandor? Certainly not anyone in her traveling party.

“We’ll figure it out. Somehow.”

He shrugged, not seeming to believe her. It seemed as though the conversation was over, but something still hung heavy in the air. She needed to talk about that night.

“I’m very angry with you Sandor.”

“Oh?” He said. He yawned, disinterested. “Whys that?”

“For what you said. For bringing up- for comparing that night to what Joffrey did to me.”

She heard him sigh. “Then maybe you should have let me burn.”

She ignored that. “Why did you say it anyway? “

He waited a moment before answering. “I wish I hadn’t. I felt guilty for it the second I said it.” He paused. “But there you were, screaming at me, pushing and punching me. Saying words that I didn’t even know were in your vocabulary.” He stopped. From the corner of her eye, she could see his massive chest rise as he took a deep breath, in and out. “Saying the most cruel words I’ve ever heard escape your mouth. Certainly not anything your septa taught you.” He laughed under his breath.

Sansa’s head was spinning again. She stared hard at the ceiling. What had I forgotten about that night? All she remembered was him laughing at her and comparing it to that night with Joffrey. “Sandor. What did I say?”

“I don’t think it will make you very happy, knowing.”

“Please. Tell me.”

He took a deep breath and shook his head. “You told me I was jealous.”

She covered her eyes with her bandaged hand. “I didn’t. Oh please tell me I didn’t”

He laughed. “Oh you most certainly did.” He continued, in a mocking tone. “Jealous of Ser Darol Hornwood, because I never kissed a pretty girl. And then something about drunken nights with whores who couldn’t bare to look at me, let alone kiss me.”

Sansa closed her eyes. How could she ever have said that to him? She must have wanted to hurt him, bad, if she said something like that. She was mortified. No wonder he had turned on her.

“I’m never drinking again.” She said.

“As we have all said at some point in our lives.”

She sat up, slowly, supporting herself with her good elbow. She looked at him. “Sandor. I’m so sorry. I-I didn’t mean that.”

He kept his eyes ahead, staring at the ceiling. “Well, it was true, at any rate.”

Sansa laid back down, looking up at the ceiling again. She didn’t know what else to say. He looked like it didn’t bother him. But why would he bring it up if it didn’t? “What a monster I am.”


Sansa half expected him to accept her apology. To tell her that she was being too hard on herself. But she should have known better. Sandor Clegane is not the type to hold back, to lie, just so my feelings don’t get hurt. Sansa took a breath. She said what she wanted to about that, and now it was time to move on.

“I think we need to address a few more things, before we can go back to normal when we get to Winterfell.” If there ever was a normal for us.

She saw him fidget, moving his arms and shoulders into a more comfortable position. “Like what?”

“The cloak.” He waited. “I kept it in my trunk since that night. The Battle on the Blackwater. I- I didn’t want anyone to find out that you had been there, in my room.” She swallowed. She could hear her heart beating in her ears at the lie. She was hoping it was enough explanation. She waited for a question, but none came. So she continued. “Maybe we should talk about that too.”

“What?” He grumbled.

“That night.” She swallowed again. “If you were trying to leave, to flee the battle and the city, why did you come for me?”

“Figured you’d be safer with me.”

“But why did you- care? It’s something that I never understood.” She could hear her heart beating in her ears, but she couldn’t stop now. “I thought you were there to-“ She couldn’t say the words. He was completely silent. “But then I realized you wouldn’t hurt me. And that you, you never had. Hurt me, I mean. It was always the others.” She turned her head toward him. “And why did you stay?”

He turned his head toward her, not missing a beat. “Why did you ask me to?” He looked her straight in the eyes. In the light of the moon his eyes looked like they were made of stone. Her gut told her to turn away, but she knew she shouldn’t. She thought about it for a moment, under his steel gaze.

“Because, I knew I would still be safe, for the most part, if you were there. If you had left, what would have happened to me?” She remembered Joffrey ripping at her robe and Sandor cracking his skull. She knew he was thinking of the same thing.

He shook his head. His eyes suddenly soft. “I don’t know.”

“I do.” She said. She looked at him again. “Thank you. For staying.”

He nodded. “Is that all then?” She could see him turn his head to her. She kept her eyes straight ahead, at the ceiling. In the back of her mind, she saw him in the stream. Bathing. She saw the muscles of his back, the pink scars along his arms and shoulders.


He turned back. She could have sworn he shook his head before saying, “Good.”

She knew there were still some things left unsaid, but that would have to come with time. Her eyes were heavy again, and she fell asleep.