A Lightness


Chapter 081





Of all the horrible ways this morning could have turned, Sandor never expected it to be like this.

Sandor had pulled the mattress back onto the bed, ignoring the continued creaking of the broken wood. He’d have to get another room for the remainder of the stay. Or I could say bugger them all and just stay in her bed. Even the thought, he knew, was impossible. He moved the broken pieces of the bed into a pile with his foot, remembering last night.

She’s perfect, in every way possible. No, the thought. Except for one.

There must be something wrong with her, if she is in love with me.

She loves me.

Sandor felt the corners of his mouth turn up for the hundredth time in the last several hours. Fucking grinning fool. Look like the greenboy after Mal sucks his cock. Sandor let out a bark of laughter at the thought, almost missing the rap at the door.

Shae looked angry in the doorway, there to retrieve Sansa’s shoes. Mmm. She always looks angry. He couldn’t help but think that that is what he used to be like. Until the little bird snuck in and changed him into something he could barely recognize. Sandor barely listened as Shae indignantly told him how this wouldn’t work or whatever she chirped about. He knew that. Don’t need to think about it yet, was all.

He was ready to shove her and her sour thoughts out the door, but something was in the way.

“Well. What do we have here?”

Sandor felt a pair of small shoes being thrust into his hands. He took them without thinking and tossed them to the side behind the door. Mallory didn’t see. She was focused on the mess of a bed behind him and Shae. Shae. Fuck.

“Get out of my way Mallory.” Shae growled at her.

“Oh no.” The girl laughed. “I’m not going anywhere.” She put her hand on the side of the door, blocking Shae’s escape. Sandor had a thought to make her move, to throw the cunt down the fucking stairs, but no doubt she would wake up the entire fucking castle with her screams. “My…” She shook her head at Shae and Sandor, both frozen to the floor. “…it just makes so much sense now.” She forced out a laugh, but Sandor could see something else in her eyes. Jealousy?

“What are you talking about Mallory?” Shae spat.

“Oh Shae please. Give me some credit. Or would you have me believe that it was another couple who made this mess?”

Shae whipped her head around to Sandor, pleading with her eyes. He felt his nostrils flare. Does she want me to tell the truth? He gave the smallest shake of his head. She can’t be serious. Shae’s shoulders slumped and she turned back to Mal.

“Hound. I shouldn’t expect any less I suppose.” Mal laughed. What the fuck does that mean? “But Shae? I never knew you had it in you.” Sandor saw Shae’s hand clench into a fist and he caught her hand behind her back before she could swing. The rumors Mallory was bound to spread would be bad enough, no need to make it worse by having Sansa’s maids tear each other to bits. Although, he thought, it might be fun to watch. No doubt, Shae would come out the victor. As if proving his point, Shae managed to wrestle her wrist from his grasp. Mallory continued to laugh, but she made no move to leave.

“Enough girl.” He growled. She stopped laughing, but the smile stayed on her lips, a teasing look in her eyes. “You’ve had your fun. Get out of the way.”

Mallory sighed and gave them a mocking half-curtsey. “Oh thank you my lord, my lady, for this wonderful treat.” She turned and continued her way down the hall, giggling to herself all the while.

The moment she disappeared, Shae turned around and started to beat at his chest with her fist. “Why didn’t you deny it?!” Unlike Sansa’s past feeble attempts, Sandor knew Shae’s would leave a mark. He put out his hands and pushed her away.

“What did you want me to say? No, Mal, even though it looks obvious it wasn’t Shae in my bed last night. It was your princess. Is that what I should have said? Should I have ruined everything for Sansa to save your reputation?”

“This isn’t my problem!” She spun away from him and put her face in her hands and he knew she knew he was right. “Fuck!” She shouted and kicked at a piece of the bed, sending it flying against the wall.

Sandor’s mind was in a whirl, thinking of all the things he would have to go through now that Mal thought he was fucking Shae. She’s probably told half the household already. Buggering hells. Good King Robb will be reprimanding us by the morning meal.

“Mal is never going to let this go.” Shae whined.

“I know.”

Shae’s hands fell to her sides. Her face went from hopeless to furious again, all in one second. “Well!” She smacked her hands together and plastered a fake smile on her face. “Better go tell the princess who’s been fucking behind her back!”

Sandor sighed. Letting this lie get out was better than anyone knowing the truth, but Sandor knew it still wasn’t going to be easy. Shae stalked toward the door to leave.

“Wait.” He muttered, remembering.


He pointed behind the open door. “Her shoes.”

Shae groaned and bent to pick them up from behind the door, which she proceeded to slam behind her.


The slamming of the door was sure to have awoken the entire castle and it rung in Sansa’s ears as she shot straight up out of bed. The following pounding footsteps got louder and louder until Sansa knew they were coming for her. She didn’t even get to fall asleep again, and here was Shae, in her room, slamming another door behind her.

You.” Shae pointed at her.

“What?” What in the name of the gods could have happened?

“You owe me so big Sansa.” Sansa had known the girl for years, and never once has she ever seen her remotely this angry. She was absolutely, terrifyingly furious.

“Shae! What happened?”

“Mallory happened.” She spat.

Oh gods. Sansa gathered a sheet around her and turned to face Shae, her legs hanging off the side of the bed. Shae paced the room, fuming. Her face was beet red. Sansa was afraid to ask, but she had to know. “Please Shae. Explain.”

She spun on her. “I went to get your fucking shoes-“ She threw them at Sansa for effect. They flew past her head when she ducked. “- from your fucking man’s room. And she was there when I opened the door. She saw the bed. The one that you broke. Sandor without a fucking shirt.”

Sansa’s hand flew to her mouth. “No.”

“Yes Sansa. Yes. Mallory now thinks that I’ve been fucking Sandor.”

“No. No no no no no no.” Why? With everything else Sansa was going to have to deal with, why did this need to be happening right now? “What are we going to do?”

“What do you mean?” Shae glared at her.

“Well…” Sansa swallowed. “…we have to tell her that she’s wrong don’t we?”

“What?” Shae snapped. “No. Sansa its impossible. Do you want her to find out about you and him?”

“Of course not!”

Shae groaned. “If she doesn’t think its me, then she is going to want to find out who it is.”

Sansa shook her head. Shae was pacing the floor. Sansa didn’t know what to say.

It was a moment before Shae spoke again and when she did, she sounded…broken. “And when word gets back to Conall, because with Mallory’s mouth, you know it will… what then?”


Shae scoffed at her, but otherwise, said nothing. She just continued to pace the floor.

“Can’t you tell him its not true? Does he not trust you?”

Shae was quiet suddenly. Sansa watched her brows knit together and she saw her swallow before she spoke. “Why should I have to explain a lie to him Sansa? Why…” Shae shrugged, all anger seemingly gone. All that was left was…disappointment? Exhaustion? Shae took another breath and continued. “Why am I in this situation at all?”

Sansa opened her mouth to retort but closed it again almost immediately. Why indeed? “I’m sorry Shae.”

Shae just continued to shake her head. Sansa didn’t know what else to say. There was nothing to say, but- “I’m sorry.” Her voice was quieter than she expected it to be.

Shae just shrugged again and sighed loudly. It almost sounded like a sob. The sound hit Sansa in the chest as hard as a brick. When Shae left the room, the closed the door behind her quietly, and Sansa found herself wishing for another slam.

How she managed to humiliate and alienate her only friend was just beyond her comprehension at the moment. She sat there, feet dangling off the edge of the bed for was must have been a long time. Until there was a knock. Sandor’s knock.

“Little bird?”

Sansa still stared at the floor. “Hmm?” She wondered if he could even hear her.

“Are you ready for morning meal? Your family is in the hall, I’ve been told.”


Sansa looked around her room. No Shae. No Malloy. She would have to get ready on her own.

When she came out of her room a short while later Sandor let out a bark of a laugh when he took in the sight of her.

“What?” She tucked her hair behind her ear. She only brushed it through, not bothering with a braid of any sort that Shae would usually help her with.

“What are you wearing?” Sandor asked, a smile still playing on his lips.

Sansa looked down at the old lumpy brown dress she managed to wrap herself in. It hung loose on her body and made her look thick around the arms and waist. She felt her forehead wrinkle when she looked back up at him. “Don’t laugh at me. It was the only thing I could tie myself.” She could see the way the burned side of his mouth twitched as he tried not to smile. “She’s furious with me.”

Sandor shrugged. “She’ll forgive you.”

Sansa could only hope. But then she had another thought. She grabbed his arm. “You aren’t angry with me, are you?”

Sandor did laugh then, but not cruelly, so she took it as a no. She felt herself relax, even if it was just a little bit, and she let go of his arm.

“You better get used to the sound of laughter, little bird. Once Mallory’s story makes its way around the castle, you’ll be hearing more of it with me at your back.”

Sansa sighed. She looked up at him then. Even with the new turn of events, she couldn’t forget about the night they shared. She felt her cheeks warm remembering all the things they’d done in the night, all the things they’d said. She peeked around his shoulder at the empty hallway behind him. Before she could second guess herself, she raised up on her toes and reached for him. He seemed to have the same thought, resting his hand on her hip, cupping the other around the back of her neck. She kissed him, just once, on the lips. But it still sent a flutter through her. He pulled away before she did and when her heels were back on the ground she tried to bite her smile away. He wasn’t as successful hiding his though. The man I love. And then she was smiling just as wide as himas she turned around and made for the great hall.

He certainly wasn’t wrong about the laughing. On the way to the hall, the people they passed from her own household, the servants and anyone else they passed were staring at Sandor next to her, smiling or sniggering as they did. Why do they all find this so funny? So my shield and handmaid are sleeping together. Why is that funny? By the third time it happened, Sansa had to fight the urge to strike out and wipe the little smirk of the man’s face. And then she thought of it. Mallory. She not only spread word about their sleeping together - but the broken bed as well. The bed that I took part in breaking. Sansa grimaced and felt even worse for Shae. She immediately wanted to run and find her, beg her for her forgiveness, but they arrived at the hall in the same moment.

Robb and Roslin were seated with Gawen, all well into their meal. Sansa’s stomach fell to her feet. Gawen. Her head had been so full of thoughts of Sandor and their finally confessing their love to one another, and then so abruptly, Shae and her new damaged reputation. She hadn’t given a second thought to Gawen – laughing with him, sharing the lemon cake, dancing with him, his whisking her away from Ramsay, his feeble anger, his lackluster kisses – not another thought of him, not since Sandor pushed her into his room. She gulped down what felt like her heart in her throat and approached them at the table.

“My pardons, for being late.” She avoided Gawen’s eye as much as she could, focusing instead on the sideways look Roslin was giving her in the sack of a dress she had on.

“Not at all.” It was Gawen who spoke, but she still couldn’t look at him.

She sat across from him, next to Roslin, and stared down at the plate before her.

“And how are you feeling this morning?” Robb asked her, cutting into his rasher of bacon, seemingly blissfully unaware of the story floating around the castle.

Looking at the food turned her stomach so she picked a spot on the wall behind Robb’s head and answered him. “Quite well, thank you.”

Roslin picked up the conversation easily enough and Sansa found it in herself to nibble at a warm corner of brown bread. But too soon, Gawen turned his attentions toward her.

“Sansa. Could I speak to you?”

Gods. He knows. He knows where I went after kissing him.

But she just nodded and followed along with him. He brought her to a distant window in the hall. He sat on the wide sill and gestured for her to join him. She did. He was silent for so long, staring out the window into the cold and snow that Sansa found herself speaking first. “Was there something you wanted to speak to me about?” He nodded. “Two things really.” He glanced behind them to where Sandor stood, far enough away, his face blank, his eyes staring uninterested at a chink in the stone wall. Sansa almost wanted to smile. He sure knows how to make it look like he isn’t trying to listen. Gawen went on. “I don’t know how much you would remember from last night…” She turned back toward him. “I remember everything Gawen.” Gods. I got drunk I didn’t lose consciousness.

“Ah, of course.” He waited for a moment, apparently gathering his thoughts. “Well, I just wanted to apologize for my behavior. I shouldn’t have kissed you like that. Even though we are to be married.”

Sansa started shaking her head before he finished. “Gawen, if I didn’t want you to kiss me last night, you wouldn’t have. Believe me.”

He gave a small smile. “Still. It was…improper. And I apologize.”

If he thinks that chaste kiss was improper, what would he think about what I did after? Sansa’s face warmed remembering how and where Sandor had kissed her last night.

“That brings up my other thought.” He continued.

“What does?”

He looked away from her, out the window again. “Improper things…”

Buggering hells. He knows. “Gawen.” She made herself say over the lump in her throat. “What is it?”

“It’s uh…hmmm…” He looked so uncomfortable, Sansa wanted to reach out to him, touch him on the arm maybe, to reassure him. But she didn’t. “I’ve heard tale of…Clegane here and your…handmaiden.”

“Oh.” Sansa hated the feeling of relief that washed over her. She glanced at Sandor. He was far enough away that Gawen wouldn’t think he could hear, but Sansa knew he could.

“Yes.” His brows knit together as they looked back at each other. “I just…wanted to make sure you were alright?”

What? “Me? What do you mean?”

He looked awkward again. As he should. Why is he speaking to me about this? “I just don’t want you to feel, uncomfortable in any way. And, should this make you feel uncomfortable…well…”

“Well…what?” Sansa was sure that he could tell by her response that nothing of the sort would have made her feel uncomfortable. She could also tell that he didn’t know what to say just now. She sighed. “If it made me uncomfortable, would I what? Tell them they can’t be together? Banish them from my service?” She narrowed her eyes at him. “I don’t understand.”

Gawen opened his mouth and closed it again. He looked down and shook his head. “I’m sorry Sansa. I shouldn’t have said anything. It wasn’t my place.”

It certainly wasn’t. But the look on his face told Sansa just how rude she had just been. She gritted her teeth and closed her eyes. “No. Gawen it’s alright. I can’t be cross with you for checking in on me. It’s only…” She bit her lip, trying to think of the words. “…who am I, to tell two people that they can’t be together?”

He nodded thoughtfully, but said nothing again. Sansa looked out the window and saw from the corner of her eye that he did the same. After a few moments, Sansa realized that the last thing she said was more about her and Sandor than anything else.


It was just what he needed to see, upon being summoned by the king later on in the day. Mallory bouncing down the hall toward him. He thought of knocking her over, pushing her into the wall, tripping her as he passed. But he did his best to ignore her wry smile and faint giggle. That was until she spoke.

“Oh, Sandor?” He stopped in his tracks and turned slowly, looking her in the eye, but saying nothing. She had a sweet smile on her face and cocked her head at him. She bit her bottom lip before she spoke. “I’ve noticed that you’re in need of a new room for the rest of our stay. If you would like, I could offer you up my room with Shae. No need to continue sneaking around with her, now that everyone knows.”

“Aye I’ve heard you haven’t been spending much time in your own bed.”

The smile faded from her face and she set her jaw. “At least I don’t go around breaking them.”

“No I’d imagine it’s easier for the likes of you when your knees are set firmly on the ground.” Mallory gasped and wheeled her arm back to hit him. Again, he caught her wrist before she could strike. He yanked her close him, bringing down his face to meet hers. It was with a cruel whisper between his teeth that he spoke. “Don’t play this game with me girl. You will lose. Each and every fucking time.”

Sandor had never been so happy to see the look of fear in a pretty girl’s face. The thought made him smirk, which he knew only made him look all the more intimidating. Her mouth went wide. “Close your mouth Mal. Your greenboy is not here.” He threw her hand away and stalked off before she could utter another half-assed insult.

Sandor turned the corner and made his way to the king. His guards smirked at Sandor before admitting him into Robb’s makeshift solar.

“Ah, Clegane.”

“Your grace.”

“Just a moment.” Robb was seated behind a desk, writing a letter it seemed. He looked up when Sandor entered, but finished writing a line before speaking to him again.

“I’m sure you know why I’ve called you in.” Sandor remained silent. He could see how uncomfortable his grace was, and Sandor was in no mood to make him feel any better about it. “Roslin is speaking to Shae.” Sandor tried not to roll his eyes. Both girls knew the truth. So she got off easy then.

Robb seemed to be waiting for some word from Sandor. An apology? Whatever he wanted, Sandor wouldn’t be giving it. He was here under the king’s command after all.

Out with it man. Let’s be done with this farce.

Robb sighed and put his quill down on the desk. “I have to say, I do not think very highly of this behavior. What you do on your own time is none of my business...”

“Hmm.” Sandor couldn’t help the half-laugh that sounded in his throat.

Robb gave him an exasperated look before continuing. “But I should like to think that you wouldn’t choose someone so close to Sansa.”

Sandor couldn’t help himself. “How does my choice in a woman concern you, your grace?” He asked, not speaking of Shae in the slightest.

“Not with me. It has to do with my sister.” Sandor suppressed a laugh. More than you know, boy. “I know its…awkward Clegane, but I have to say it. As her sworn shield, I expect you to have a standard to uphold. You are here for her.“ Truer words have never been said. “I would hate for her to feel…uncomfortable under your protection.”

“Why would she ever feel uncomfortable?”

“Because of your relationship with her best friend.” Robb sighed again, and Sandor bit his tongue. “I would have hoped that this…information could have stayed away from Sansa’s ears, but I suppose that is not possible with this Mallory running about.” Robb shook his head. At least he has some sense. “I know I can’t tell you that you cannot…continue this relationship.” He looked at Sandor, perhaps expecting him to say that he had already ended it? Sandor did nothing of the sort. “But I would just advise you to be more discreet, especially when it comes to Sansa’s knowledge of the matter.”

After a moment, he gave him a curt nod.

“Roslin has seen to it that you have another room for the remainder of the stay.”

Sandor ground his teeth together. On the complete opposite side of the castle from Shae and Sansa most likely. “Thank you, your grace.”

“Good day Clegane.”

Part of him wanted to shake the king. Your little wife and your baby brother figured it out. How thick do you have to be not to see it? But he bit his tongue again. The king’s ignorance on this matter was the only reason his head still remained on his shoulders.

“Your grace.” He bent his head before heading out the door.

If there was ever a way he could get Mallory back for this, Sandor was determined to do it.