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Tattooed Flowers

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Tattooed Flowers

GOT Modern AU

Rating: M

Language: English 

Disclaimer: I, 8Clarify8, do not own the characters used in this story. I don’t even own the idea necessarily; a friend gave me the idea and I wanted to give it life. Thank you, my friend, for allowing me to use the prompt and idea given to me.

 

Warning

 

There will be negative commentary regarding tattoos and supposed degenerates; there will be drug usage and allusions to it;
there will be sexual comments as well as non-con/sexual situations; there will be violence, blood, and abuse.

 

Chapter 1:

 

“The fuck did you just say?” a voice boomed out over the sparsely occupied room from the back, it sounded a bit gravelly and deep, like a stone that hadn’t quite been worn smooth by the water.

 

Sansa turned her attention from the city council that sat in front of her, bored and disinterested in her complaints, to the voice in the back of the room that interrupted her.

 

He stood, towering over everyone else even when he sat. He moved chairs, a bit too forcefully in her opinion as he lumbered to the designated walkway and then strode up towards the podium where she was located. 

 

He was a monster of a man, giant even as his steps vibrated through the old worn wood floors. His pants were worn and ripped, his boots steel toed leather, his shirt had some sort of print on the front but was covered by a vest that had haphazard patches on it.

 

One, she noticed, was a silhouette of a wolf with it’s teeth bared that sat over his right breast pocket.

 

“Want to repeat that chirping?” He said to her, eye to eye with her seeing as the podium was a few steps up from the rest of the floor. Sansa steeled her gaze, used to working around furious men who thought they knew more than her.

 

“I said,” she said coolly, looking him straight in his steel grey eyes and taking in his features, the scar that covered part of his face was fascinating but that didn’t matter at this moment. “That new tattoo parlor has been bringing in the wrong crowd, the kind this little town doesn’t need to be associated with.”

 

He snarled at her and took the first step up to the podium and he already was a head taller than her, and there were three more to go. “You're chirping for the wrong reasons. You ever been inside?  Talked to the artists or the owner? Talk to the clients?”

 

“Don’t need too.” She said, looking up at him but not flinching away from him. “I’ve seen it, kept track of how many police cars have upped their patrols of the area. That tattoo shop is bringing in trouble and has been nothing but trouble since coming here.”

 

There was a bang on the desk behind them, and the mayor of the city looked unamused at the time that was being wasted.

 

“Stark, finish up your argument or leave the floor.” She called.

 

“Sorry, Mayor Targaryen.” Sansa called over, looking back towards the man in front of her with her unimpressed stare. “I’ve finished. Now, if you’ll excuse me, sir.” She placed her arm against his side and gently pushed him out of her way, he moved but there was still a fire in his eyes as he watched her.

 

“I’m no sir,” he called after her as she walked away. Sansa stopped when she was a few feet away and turned to look back at him, she glanced him over.

 

“My mistake.” It was her simple, snide remark as she flipped her red hair back over her shoulder and strolled calmly towards the exit.

 

He fumed, turning back towards the council.

 

“May I speak?” he asked, controlling the edge in his voice.

 

“Yes,” the mayor looked down at her clip board before steadying her cool blue eyes on him. “State your name and business.”

 

“Sandor Clegane,” he called out, “owner of the new tattoo parlor.” He didn’t take his eyes away from her own, but he didn’t hear the doors click immediately after.

 

“Welcome, Mr. Clegane, to our little town.” She said simply. “I’m Daenerys Targaryen, the current mayor of our town, and these are the council members that keep it running.” She gestured to the grouping of people who sat with her. Sandor only took a moment to glance at them.

 

“Up until recently it’s been very pleasant.” He said honestly, “I’m here to voice my concerns about slander against my legitimate business.”

 

That was when he heard the door shut behind loudly behind them.

 

He realized as he was talking to the city council members, reading their name plates, that this was only going to be the first of many battles with that red-haired woman who chirped. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

 

Church. Sandor had been to Church when he was a young lad, but after his parent’s divorce, and his time in the military, he hadn’t been since.

 

Church. Why does every small town in the mid-west have 5 per 100 people?

 

“Now, that’s just not accurate.” A voice spoke up from beside Sandor as he stood in front of one of the only nice buildings in the town, he gave his companion the same look he was giving the church. Disdain.

 

The man smiled charmingly next to him, “There’s over 4,000 people in this town, Clegane. And only 10 churches.”

 

“Piss off, Lannister.” He grumbled.

 

Jaime Lannister, one of the pretty boys who grew up with the small town in the background and was even the one to convince Sandor into opening his shop there. Sandor knew small towns didn’t really approve of the type of business he’s trying to run, but he wanted to get a better idea of it first before running to a large city with more competition.

 

Jaime was also, for some reason, Sandor’s best friend and business partner.

 

“I’m glad to see you’ve taken my advice,” a female lilted voice said from behind the two, they turned to see the madam mayor approach with her smart two-piece business suit, her white blonde hair tied up behind her head. “Religion is a big focal point in our community, attending some sermons will lift people’s ideas of you.”

 

Daenerys turned her light-colored eyes from Sandor to Jaime, and they could see the tightening of her face as she looked at him.

 

“Nice to see you again, Jaime.” She said coolly, “I had heard that you returned home-” Her eyes cast a quick glance down at his prosthetic hand, and a flash of sympathy went over her face, but it was gone before either of the men could comment on it. “-sustaining injuries from the field.”

Jaime laughed charmingly, flexing his prosthetic hand as if the memories of that day didn’t tear apart his soul, as well as Sandor’s. The side of his face suddenly felt a bit hot from the memories.

 

“Always a pleasure to see you too, Danny.” Jaime said, the nickname rolling off his tongue and paired with the grin, it seemed like he was mocking her.

 

“Well, Gentlemen.” She shifted her tune, looking proper at them both as she tried to smile warmly. “Welcome to the Church, I hope you find something enlightening in the sermon.” She moved around them to head inside, and as more of the townsfolk showed up and gave him wary glances with whispers behind their hands, Sandor hated Church all over again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

 

Sansa Stark, a woman of age 23 who lived in the little town alone, sat in her empty shop that Sunday morning. The lights to the main room stayed off, but the sunlight streamed in to cast light over the photograph she held in her hands, water drop stains on the photograph but now it was protected by glass.

 

She had been up for hours, but the stuffiness of her apartment above her shop overwhelmed her so she’s been sitting in the comfy lounge chair in the back corner of the shop next to an oak bookshelf, very out of place compared to the rest of the greenery of the shop.

 

Untouched but the changes of time.

 

She started wandering around, watering plants that needed a little extra attention or rotating plants around to get certain amounts of sunlight before she came across the photo tucked away in the back corner behind some lilies.

 

Sansa wasn’t aware of how much time had passed as she leaned against the wall near the large front windows of the store until an unfamiliar black sedan pulled up in front of the closed tattoo shop that read Hounds & Lions Tattoos across the street and out crawled a large figure.

 

Ah, the owner. He was large, even from across the street she could see he was a giant man. His hair hung loose across his shoulders, but he seemed to be dressed nicely- much nicer than his outfit from Friday night at the city council meeting.

 

He bent over and talked to whoever in the driver’s seat, she couldn’t see as the windows were tinted too dark, he slammed the door as the sedan pulled away and he looked up. Sansa thought for a moment that he could see her through the windows, because it felt like they made eye contact, and that was when she felt the wetness on her cheeks.

 

He looked away when she brought the underside of her wrist up to wipe at her eyes, not realizing she was crying over the picture again.

 

She turned away, spying the clock that hung over the check out counter and seeing that it was almost noon already.

 


 

 

Sandor told Jaime to park the car in the back of the shop as he unlocked the doors, but after he slammed the door in the Lannister’s face for saying something rather smartassed and he drove away, Sandor looked up to the flower shop that sat nestled between two buildings.

 

Lupine Flowers, was the name of the store. Their lights were still off even though it was almost noon. Sandor assumed that that chirping little red head still wasn’t back from church, but then he noticed a stark white face barely shadowed in the window watching the street with a glazed stare.

 

It was her. She reminded him a bird, he realized. Seemingly trapped in a cage, metaphorical or literal, and not knowing how to escape. Her vacant stare had some life brought back into it once their eyes connected, and it was then that he saw the tear stains on her cheeks as one dragged itself down along the path. She blinked rapidly as it seemed like she was thrown back into her mind and brought back to Earth, she wiped at her eyes and he turned away.

 

Determined to at least get through the rest of his weekend without thinking of her, he unlocked the front doors and threw them open with more force than what was probably necessary.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

 

Jaime had been in a bad mood for days, even almost messing up on a client’s piece on account for how distracted he was.

 

“Alright, the fuck is going on with you.” Sandor pulled Jaime in the backroom, there were only three artists employed at the small shop, and two of them just disappeared, leaving poor little Gendry out front to man it by himself.

 

Jaime looked off to the side, a deep frown set on his face and his eyebrows knitted together. Sandor was impressed with Jaime’s impression of him, but Sandor had been bitter and angry his entire life.

 

“Answer me or you can go home.” Sandor said finally. Jaime looked like he wanted to protest, but instead stormed out of the back room and eventually out of the shop instead. Sandor stayed in the backroom, big arms crossed over his big chest, and he stayed that way for a few good moments to let his irritation simmer before finally sighing and stepping out of the back room, confirming that Jaime had indeed left the establishment.

 

Gendry looked confused, and slightly scared, but he stayed silent as the two of them sat in silence in the shop waiting for someone to walk in.

 

The bell above the door jingled not too long after, and Gendry nearly jumped out of his seat from excitement, but his face broke its smile quickly. That made Sandor stand up, and then raise an eyebrow at the man in uniform who just walked in.

 

Bronn. That was the name on the nametag of the Chief of Police. Sandor frowned at him.

 

“Is there a reason for this visit, officer?” Sandor tried to keep his voice steady, but he was wary. Did that little bird finally get what she wanted?

 

“Yes, actually. I’m looking to get a tattoo. I keep driving by this place on my patrols and finally had the time to stop by and check it out.” The officer propped his sunglasses on his head, a coffee cup firmly in hand as he stood rather relaxed in the waiting room of the tattoo shop.

 

Sandor blinked in disbelief, but he relaxed.

 

“A’ight.” He gruffed, stuffing his hands in his pockets as Gendry brought out a planner and rested it on the counter, holding a pen and waiting.

 

“When is your next day off?” Sandor offered, the officer raised his eyebrow curiously, opening his arms in a gesture to himself.

 

“Why can’t ya do it now?” He asked, challenging him.

 

“Is that coffee you’re drinking?” Sandor asked, eyeing the cup in his hand. Bronn looked at it, before looking back at him.

 

“If it is?”

 

Sandor sighed at his challenging tone.

 

“I can see your foot about ready to come out of your boot.” Sandor said as he pointed down at Bronn’s excessively tapping foot. “I don’t need you jumping out of the damn chair. The shop is open every day from 11 to 8 for walk ins. For scheduled appointments special exceptions can be made, it also depends on what artist you want.”

 

Sandor grabbed a scrap piece of paper and yoinked the pen out of Gendry’s hand, he watched Sandor as the bigger man scribbled something on it. Sandor then handed the piece of paper out to Bronn, who took it and looked it over.

 

“Those are the rates for the artists. A deposit will have to be made in person up to the day of the appointment. Deposits go towards the final price of the tattoo. Appointments can be made up to 48 hours ahead of time. Walk-ins are during business hours only and will be billed at a higher rate. My number is at the bottom, get a hold of me if you have anymore questions or would like to schedule your appointment.” Sandor rattled off as if it was second hand nature while Bronn nodded along, reading the paper.

 

Bronn glanced out the windows towards the street, a small frown forming but he turned to look back the gentlemen behind the counter. Bronn smiled, one that made Sandor uncomfortable as it reminded him of Jaime’s.

 

“I’ll be in touch then.” Bronn flipped his sunglasses over his eyes, still smiling as he turned around and left the establishment.

 

Sandor watched him leave and saw him walk across the street toward the flower shop.

 

The frown on his face deepened.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

 

“Hello, Bronn.” Sansa supplied as she heard the bells over the door jingle. She turned around and her heart leapt into her throat as it was not Bronn’s familiar smile that greeted her, but one far more intimidating.

 

Oh, Petyr.

 

“Close, my dear, but no cigar. Were you expecting him?” He inquired, smiling that sickening smile he always had like he didn’t walk around with shit on his shoe while everyone else did.

 

“His girlfriend is coming to town I heard, I’m expecting him any time.” Sansa supplied, slowly climbing down her ladder after rearranging some plants on the upper shelves behind the counter. Petyr watched her, enraptured with her. She knew he was.

 

There had been many times that this man had made her uncomfortable. He knew her mother from school, and when she turned him down for her father, Petyr had been a thorn in her family’s side for years. When Sansa started… developing was when he turned his attention from being a good “friend” of her mother’s to be a good friend to her.

 

When she moved back home over a year ago was when it started to get bad.

 

She was acutely aware of how alone the two of them were, and her palms started to feel clammy. The taste of alcohol suddenly filled her mouth as she remembered pulsing lights, dizzy feelings, and Petyr. His mouth on hers.

 

Sansa felt disgusting in her own skin as she was snapped out of the hazy memory when she realized Petyr had come up and started rubbing her arms.

 

“You’re freezing, Sansa.” He said concerned, but that smile that he gave her as he looked up at her through his heavy-lidded eyes screamed danger.

 

“I feel just fine, Petyr.” Sansa said, trying to keep her voice even as he pushed himself closer to her, Sansa took a step back but didn’t realize he had backed her into her counter.

 

Sansa didn’t hear the bell ring when it jingled, but she hadn’t been more relieved to see Bronn then the moment he cleared his throat.

 

Petyr backed away slowly, frowning at the police chief as he stood in the door way, coffee cup discarded.

 

“Should I be concerned here?” Bronn asked, a brow raised as he crossed his arms over his chest.

 

“Officer Bronn, you know you shouldn’t enter businesses without just cause.” Petyr said with a smile.

 

“Strange, I don’t remember being on the clock.” Bronn reasoned. Petyr frowned at that this time. “Even stranger, it looked like a pretty girl was getting preyed upon. Petyr, you know you shouldn’t touch without permission.”

 

“Why are you here?” Petyr asked.

 

“Sansa, dear, do you have those flowers I ordered?” Bronn directed his attention towards her now, and even though his face didn’t change his heart squeezed for the relief on her face at his intrusion and his opportunity for her to escape.

 

“Oh, yes I do they’re in the back.” She tried to walk slowly but it didn’t work, she nearly ran to the back of the shop, disappearing behind a door almost hidden in the wall from all the plants.

 

“You’re avoiding my question.” Petyr snipped out, Bronn raised an eyebrow, challenging the other man.

 

“You avoided mine.” Bronn rebutted.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

 

Sandor found Jaime out near the lake that sat outside of town, at a place Jaime first took Sandor when they moved to the small town at the beginning of fall last year, and here it was nearly summer.

 

Jaime sat on the banks, throwing bird seed into the grass near him for the geese and ducks and other birds to pick at. Sandor watched him for a moment, but as soon as he took a step in that direction the birds scattered, and his presence was no longer a secret.

 

“I’m flattered by your impressions of me.” Sandor said finally after getting settled in the grass near him.

 

Jaime couldn’t stop his snicker, even if it was half-hearted.

 

“You’re going to have to talk to me eventually.” Sandor said finally.

 

“My sister and my niece and nephews are coming to town to stay.” Jaime said finally, and Sandor blinked trying to remember what Jaime’s family was like. He knew one other Lannister that still lived in town, and that was the youngest brother.

 

“And this is…?” Sandor asked, not quite sure how Jaime felt about his family. Sandor had to constantly tell himself that not everyone had a shit family like he did.

 

“Complicated.” Jaime said at first, but then with his shaky sigh and him rubbing a stressed hand through his hair, he conceded: “It’s bad.”

 

“Is everything ok?” Sandor felt awkward asking at all, he usually wasn’t the type to console someone.

 

“Apparently she’s leaving her husband because of the abuse at home.”

 

Jaime still looked stressed, and rather pissed.

 

“Jesus, is your sister ok?” Sandor asked. He tried to remember anything about Jaime’s sister, but all he got was that they were twins.

 

“Oh, she’s the abusive one.” Jaime started, shaking his head. “She’s staying with me. Tyrion refuses to be anywhere near our childhood home, even without Cersei coming and staying.”

 

Sandor realized something but decided against voicing his concerns. Instead, he decided, he would take his things from the room that Jaime lent him and find a storage unit, and some crappy motel or something to stay at. Maybe live in his car if needed.

 

“Are your nieces and nephews at least a bit more pleasant?”

 

Jaime was silent.

 

“Well, Myrcella is an absolute doll. But she’s just coming with her mother to help her move and get settled in. Then she’s heading off to start college.”

 

“A’ight, that was your niece, now what about yer nephews?” Sandor didn’t really mean for his accent to slip through, but sometimes when he was tired, he couldn’t hide the lit of his Scottish heritage.

 

“Well, Tommen is coming and he’s going to be finishing high school here. He’s very smart and enthusiastic about school.” Jaime smiled softly at that, but then he frowned and looked out over the water.

 

“Joffrey is coming too.” Jaime supplied after a few tense minutes of silence. But with the way it was said, and how that was the only thing Jaime said about it, Sandor could recognize the warning.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

 

Sandor watched begrudgingly as Jaime ducked into the flower shop to grab some flowers for his sister’s arrival. Sandor didn’t question the absurdity of buying flowers, even if it was for his sister.

 

But then he realized that he’s bought his fair share of flowers for his own sister, but instead he presented them to her grave instead of sprucing up the house.

 

Sandor rubbed his face, realizing he needed to go back to his home country soon and visit her grave, and maybe see his mother.

 

From out on the street he could see Sansa regarding Jaime with something like familiarity and then fear, Sandor saw her shake her head quickly, clutching her wrist as she took a step back and away from his friend. Sandor frowned, Jaime may be a piece of work, but he didn’t deserve to be treated like a danger.

 

Sandor had half a mind to barge in there and demand for her to get her shit together, but she slumped against the back wall and held her head in her hands. Her braid was a mess and fell over her shoulder, wisps of red velvet hair fluttering within the sun streaked shop, and for a moment it looked like the world was falling apart around her.

 

Sandor straightened up, enraptured at the secrecy and vulnerability that happened behind the glass. Like he was watching tv with no sound.

 

Jaime looked concerned, and tired, and he reached gently out towards Sansa. She shifted her face away from his, Jaime sighed eventually, picking up some carnations from the counter and sliding cash in their place.

 

Eventually he left, meeting Sandor outside. The two regarded each other for a moment before Jaime took the lead to cross back over the street. Sandor glanced back inside to see Sansa had slid to the floor, her head still cradled in her hands and her shoulders shook with small sobs.

 

Sandor was never good at helping emotional people-- especially crying women, but in that moment, he was torn to help her in some way. But, instead he followed Jaime.

 


 

 

The bells rang over the shop door, and Sansa had her back turned as she was rearranging some zinnias.

 

“Hello,” she said over her shoulder, not sure who to expect this time.

 

“Hello, Sansa.” The male voice said, and her heart thrummed as she froze, she turned around quickly, braid whipping over her shoulder as she regarded Jaime Lannister with bright, blue eyes.

 

“Jaime!” She breathed, surprise and awe evident in her voice. “I didn’t realize you were back home! I hadn’t heard any of the gossip around town about the Lannister brothers being together again.” She gave him a friendly smile, because really they were on rather good terms.

 

“Well then, it’s just going to be one big family reunion soon, it seems.” He said tersely, trying to give a relaxed smile but it came out more like a grimace. Sansa stopped, her friendly demeanor dropping.

 

“What do you mean?” Her voice wavered, betraying her fear.

 

Jaime looked pained, before he sighed and shook his head and then looking up at her.

 

“Sansa, I’m sorry, but Cersei is coming back with Joffrey. I’m here to pick up flowers and to warn you, ask you if there’s anywhere you can stay until he leaves.”

 

“No,” Sansa whispered, ice flooding her veins as the scars on her wrist burned suddenly. She grabbed her wrist, holding it close to her chest. “No, no! He’s coming back? I-I have to close the shop.” She said quickly, looking around in the corners of her shop. “I can’t be here.”

 

But, where could she go? Who could she turn too?

 

Petyr was just as bad as Joffrey, but Petyr never physically hurt her, either. She couldn’t approach him.

 

After her parent’s death, her siblings left, and the town she grew up knowing didn’t know her back.

 

Sansa’s shoulders slumped forward, her hands coming up to cover her face as she didn’t want Jaime to see her stressed tears.

 

“Sansa, I-“ he sighed, reaching out for her before dropping his arm again at his side. “Maybe Tyrion can be of help? He’s always had a soft spot for you and your family, and heaven knows he hates being on the same planet as Cersei, let alone in the same town. Maybe he will shelter you?”

 

Sansa shook her head, not from Jaime’s suggestion but from trying to get the horrible memories of Joffrey out of her head.

 

She vaguely heard the door close, and her shaking legs finally gave out from beneath her and she slumped to the floor.

 

Her sobs filled the shop once again, but she unaware of the steel grey stare just right outside the shop window that was filled with concern for a moment before they, too, turned away. And, maybe it was for the best.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

 

“Sansa?” his smooth voice was filled with surprise once the small voice on the other side of the line squeaked out their greeting.

 

“Yeah… it’s me.” She sounded so small, so tired.

 

“H-how have you been? We haven’t talked for a few months.” He said, shifting away from the body in the bed next to him. They gave out a slight groan, a sigh, and then settled back down. He cast a quick glance to them before sliding off the bed and finding a robe, tying it around himself as he trotted out of the bedroom and onto the terrace.

 

The night air was cool, with the taste of rain on the tip of his tongue and the wind rippled his sandy blonde hair to signal a thunder storm was approaching. He could feel the static in the air, but it wasn’t because of that that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

 

“Tyrion, can… Can I come stay with you for a little bit?”

 

He was speechless. Here, out of the blue on a Saturday night he was phoned by a woman of his past that ended on good terms. Sansa was a woman who hated asking for favors, being the kind of person who liked her privacy, especially after what happened to her parents last year but… Tyrion chewed on his bottom lip, splitting it unintentionally as he burned to ask her why.

 

“How long do you need?” He asked instead, casting a glance towards his bedroom where his naked conquest lay. He had the room for her, of course, but if she needed a friend as well as a place to stay, well… He may need some more time with the woman who lay in his bed first before he could have Sansa in his home.

 

“I don’t know yet, I’m hoping only a few days… If it’s longer than a week I’ll find other accommodations, I don’t want to be a burden in your life for longer than I need to be.” She sounded so sure of herself as she said the words, but the words she spoke didn’t convey the meaning she intended.

 

“Sansa,” he said softly, cradling the phone as he looked over the city as it glowed softly, the dark clouds rolling over the mountains in the distance. “My sweet girl, you could never be a burden to me.”

 

She laughed softly over the phone, and he vaguely wondered why she was up so late. Then, he wondered what she would do about her shop.

 

“When are you coming?” He asked, feeling the first faint drop fall onto the tip of his nose. The sky opened suddenly, and he stepped back under the awning of his terrace just before the heavens started crying.

 

“Is Monday too soon?”

 

Tyrion’s heart leapt up in his throat at the thought of Sansa Stark being in his home, sharing his space, in less than 48 hours.

 

“No, Sansa. Monday is perfect. Hell, if you need the space sooner, I can have your room ready by tomorrow night.”

 

He could hear her faint hum of appreciation, and a chuckle to follow.

 

“I’ll try not to barge in too early.”

 

Tyrion closed his eyes, listening to the rain tumble on the awning above him as thunder rolled over the town.

 

You can barge into any part of my life. He wanted to tell her, but when he opened his eyes, he saw a flash of lightening over the mountains in the distance, and thunder followed a few seconds after, he decided that her life was just like tonight.

 

A storm.

 

She didn’t need to hear those words, not from him.

 

Not yet.

 


 

 

“Just call Tyrion.” The words echo in her mind from the conversation earlier with her best friend Jeyne, she said that if she was in state. Hell, in the country then Sansa could stay with her.

 

But Jeyne lived too far away in a big city, the one Sansa left to come back to her hometown over a year ago. Jeyne left a few weeks ago to go over to Spain, and then France, and hop around Europe on this big grand trip they had planned together but Sansa couldn’t go.

 

The conversation with Tyrion was awkward, but he sounded so relieved to hear from her. To talk to her.

 

Sansa smiled sadly down at her lap as she stayed on the line with him for a few more moments, tense silence as the rain battered down on the roof and on the street outside. Sansa glanced from her perch by the window to the main street her shop was settled upon and frowned at the tattoo shop she looked down on. She slid her glance instead to the street lamps and found comfort in their soft orange glow and the rain that was lit up beneath it.

 

She missed him, truly. His quips, his wit, his friendliness.

 

Sansa sighed, playing with a string she found on her shirt as she thought.

 

“Sansa? Is everything ok?” She heard him say, dragging her thoughts from why she didn’t want to ask him at all.

But she realized that the town she grew up knowing grew without her, and she didn’t know anyone. Or trust anyone else to go too.

 

At least she knew he hated his sister as much as she did.

 

“I’m surprised you answered,” she said honestly, running her hands through her hair that was loose down her back.

 

He chuckled, soft and familiar and for the first time for a long time Sansa felt longing for company. She knew she was lonely, but she didn’t realize how lonely it was.

 

“I’m surprised you called. It’s so late Sansa, I’ve never known you to be a night owl.” Sansa immediately face palmed. She didn’t even realize what time it was!

 

“I’m so sorry it’s so late, Tyrion.” She rushed her apology. “This should’ve waited until tomorrow, I’m sorry to disturb you.”

 

“Sansa, he said her voice so sweetly, in such a way that made tears prick her eyes. “No matter what, if you need a friend I’ll answer you call.”

 

But what if I need more than a friend? She thought to herself then, holding her legs to her chest as she sat firmly near her window, staring off over the short buildings and into the distance, where the lake sat behind the town.

 

“A friend,” she echoed, her voice feeling far away to her suddenly. “Yeah, thank you. If you need a friend too I’m here.”

 

Sansa could hear him chuckle, but then there was another voice on his side. Distant, and Sansa couldn’t make out the words, but suddenly she felt a pang of jealously, anger, and she felt so stupid.

 

“Yes, give me a moment.” She heard Tyrion’s hushed and quick response. And Sansa wiped her hand down her face. “It’s late, Sansa. You should get to bed.” Was Tyrion’s excuse.

 

“Fine, yeah. You’re right. Goodnight.” She snapped, unsure why her heart panged when she knew he was with someone else. Of course, he’s with someone else, It’s Saturday night. Other people have lives.

 

“Goodnight, Sansa. See you Monday. Give me a call when you’re ready to come over.”

 

She ended the call after giving him a soft “yeah, ok.” She threw her phone childishly across the bedroom to land on her bed. She rested her head on her knees, wondering why her heart was hurting over Tyrion having someone in his apartment. Wondering why she had to be the one responsible for the shop. Wondering why she was all alone.

 

Wondering why her parents died.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

 

Sandor was back at the Church he attended last Sunday, having been urged by Mayor Targaryen and one of the elder women to bring something homemade to the pot luck that happens every Sunday after the Sermon.

 

He had Jaime’s help, him having his mother’s cook books stashed away and the Lannister insisted that his mother’s cooking was the best. Sandor wanted to argue, but it had been years since he had his own Mother’s cooking, so he couldn’t say.

 

Instead, he just brought a few platters of brownies. He didn’t know American cuisine very well, but Jaime and Gendry didn’t spit it out immediately, so he took it as a good sign.

 

He stood around, cup of some sort of fruit punch in hand as he watched the elderly people mill about.

 

Then, one seemed to appear next to him from out of nowhere. She was dressed nicely, as was to be expected, with a pastel blue hat saddled up on her head as she regarded the room next to him.

 

“Are you Mr. Clegane?” She asked rather suddenly, and it took all of Sandor’s control to not jump out of his skin at her sudden appearance.

 

“So, it would seem,” he took a drink of his cup, “but please, Sandor is just fine.”

 

She looked up at him, all arched brow and unamused.

 

“Your brownies were terrible,” she said suddenly, looking back at the room. He stared down at her before frowning. Gulping the rest of his drink down before crushing the cup in his hand. “But,” she started once again. “There was potential. Give it a few more tries, and I’ll say you’ll give me a run for my money.” She cracked a smile up at him, and Sandor blinked down at her.

 

“Umm, thanks…?”

 

“Olenna Tyrell.” She said simply, seemingly surprised that he didn’t know who she was. “I wonder,” she started again after a moment. “Why our dear Madam Mayor suggested you come to this church?” Sandor shrugged his response. Looking around the room once again.

 

“And dear, may I ask where that Lannister fellow you’re always seen with is at?”

 

“Jaime? He’s getting his home ready for his sister and her children to come back, I hear.” He said rather snipped, sniffing as he looked down at his crushed cup.

 

“Oh, my.” She murmured, “Well, you don’t sound very excited about that. May I ask why?”

 

Sandor looked down at her questioningly, but she was probably lonely and just trying to be nice. Hell, he could use someone else to talk too that wasn’t Jaime.

“Well, I’ve been staying with him since moving to town. But since he’s getting a full house again, I’m going to have to find a new place to stay for a while.”

 

“Oh, dear.” She seemed surprised, before she looked over the room again and waved towards someone on the other side. Sandor thought that she would leave, get out of the conversation—but no, up strolled a woman, a very tall, blonde woman with short cropped hair.

 

Her nose was long, her cheeks high, and her eyes a seeming ice blue. She regarded him with a sense of wary, but smiled down to the older woman.

 

“Good morning, Mrs. Tyrell.”

 

“Brienne, dear, I would like to introduce you to our newest resident of our little town. Sandor Clegane, he’s being rehomed and needs a place to stay for a while.”

 

“Oh,” Brienne didn’t seem interested, but tried to be polite anyways. Sandor frowned. “Well, Mr. Clegane-“

 

“Sandor, if you would please.” He bit out. Brienne blinked unamused at him before continuing.

 

“I run a local bed and breakfast. You’re more than welcome to stay there until you find a better situation.”

 

Sandor floundered, his mouth twisted as he tried to find the right words.

 

“I don’t have the money to pay for that right now, I’m sorry.” He ended up saying instead.

 

“Nonsense, I’ll pay for it.” Olenna said tersely, like it shouldn’t have even been questioned any other way.

 

“Excuse me?” Sandor said quickly, but with the look Olenna gave him, and the raised eyebrow of Brienne, he realized he wasn’t in a situation to argue. Especially not with all the eyes that turned to them suddenly.

 

His face flushed, and that was when he realized the trap he walked into.

 

“I mean, thank you. That’s too gracious of you, I’ll pay you back.”

 

And with the twinkle in her little beady eyes, Olenna smiled in the way that Sandor hated.

 

“I’m counting on it.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

 

Sansa was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Figuratively and literally. She stared out at the street where Petyr was sitting in his car, waiting.

 

She sighed, itching to call Bronn to help but she knew he was on patrol and couldn’t come running immediately.

 

A thought struck her then, since he was on the other side of the street blocking parking to the tattoo shop. One of the spots reserved for the tattoo shop.

 

Sansa looked up their number and called.

 

“Hounds and Lions tattoos.” A gruff voice said from over the phone, and Sansa had to resist looking out the window.

 

“Umm.. Hi.” She said lamely.

 

“Hi?” the voice said back, confused.

 

“There’s a man sitting in front of your shop in his car, he’s taking up space on the street and blocking easy access to your business. He’s been sitting out there for hours, I wanted to let you know because I’ve seen some cars circle the block before driving away.”

 

“Oh, thanks. Who is this?”

 

“Just a concerned citizen.” Sansa said simply, quickly, before hanging up.

 

She waited a few moments before she was surprised to see the owner step out of the shop, she never noticed that he had to duck to get in and out of his own shop. He approached where Petyr was sitting in his car, and she watched the exchange from the shadows of her own shop.

 

She couldn’t hear them, but she could tell Petyr wasn’t leaving easily. Finally, Sandor pointed to the sign in front of the parking spot saying, “Parking for this establishment only.” And then gestured inside.

 

Sansa could see Petyr grip his steering wheel. He started his car and peeled out of the spot, leaving tire marks and smoke.

 

This was her chance.

 

Sansa bolted from her shop, glancing down the road to see Petyr turn sharply at a yellow light. She sighed, slamming the shop door and locking it, suitcase in hand.

 

She turned around then, seeing the tattoo shop owner looking at her curiously. She couldn’t help the smile as she reached her hand up in a wave.

“Thank you!” She called to him, dashing around the corner to behind the shop where her little white hatchback was parked.

 

She drove away quickly, rounding the corner just in time to see Petyr bring his stupid lime green convertible back around. She hoped he hadn’t seen her.

 

When she still didn’t see his car after a few minutes tailing her, she grinned. Turning the radio on as she coasted her way towards the other end of town, near the forest and to Brienne’s for the night.

 


 

The phone conversation ended just how it started, brief. Sandor looked at his phone before putting it down. He glanced outside and there was an eyesore of a vehicle parked right in front of his doors.

 

“Hey, Gen. How long has this asshat been sitting out here?” Sandor asked, Gendry got up from the back and peeked around the side, frowning.

 

“For a while, at least an hour.”

 

Sandor frowned. Thinking of the woman’s voice, how unsure and scared she seemed at first.

 

He sighed, stepping out into the bright day compared to the thunder from the night before. The guys windows were tinted so dark he didn’t know how they were legal. He bent down and wrapped his knuckles on them.

 

The window rolled down and in was the personified word of “prick.” This was one of the guys on the seat at the city council meeting he barged in over a week ago. He didn’t remember the name, or what his position was, but he remembered that stupid smile and know-all eyes.

 

“You’ve been sitting out here for a while, huh? Waiting for a hot date or something?” Sandor asked. The guy looked him over, studied his scar with a disgusted look, and then smirked.

 

“As a matter of fact, I am. I can’t imagine you know what that’s like.”

 

Sandor frowned, wondering how easy it would be to fold this guy’s car in half.

 

“Weird, how anyone would want a little bean pole like you. Can you even lift a bag of flour?” Sandor himself sneered.

 

The guy frowned.

 

“Look man, I don’t care. But you’re taking up shop space.” Sandor pointed to the green sign that this guy was parked in front of. “And unless you’ve been waiting an hour to talk yourself up to getting a tattoo,” Sandor then gestured to the shop behind him, before bending down and getting his head and only one shoulder in through the guy’s rolled down window.

“Then I suggest you move your fucking car.”

 

The guy frowned, deeply. Sandor stood upright and watched the guy start up his car and peel out of the spot, like he had something to prove. Sandor watched that piece of work run a stop sign and then almost cut someone off in a turn at a yellow light.

 

He shook his head, noticing the red-haired flower shop woman poking her head out. Relief flooded her face, she closed and locked her front door. Her hair a braid down her back as she spun quickly on her heel. Her suitcase in her hand as she smiled from ear to ear.

 

“Thank you!” She called out, waving at him as she bounded around the corner of her shop.

 

Sandor stood confused, blinking at her white hatchback as the dots finally connected.

 

She was the one who called.

 

Sandor shook his head, debating asking that cop Bronn about it when he came in to get his tattoo later that day.


  

“It was so awkward, Sansa.” Brienne said after Sansa had arrived and been there for a few hours. “Olenna dragged me to this new resident, and practically demanded that I house him until he finds another place to stay.”

 

Sansa was helping her set the table, and she smiled at probably one of her only friends in town. She would stay with Brienne the entire time if she could afford it, but at least Tyrion wouldn’t charge her.

 

“Well, at least I’m here for the night. Hopefully that will be enough of a buffer to ease the awkwardness.”

 

Brienne sighed, grumbling about something as she brought out dinner ingredients.

 

“When is this guy supposed to get here, anyways?”

 

“After his last appointment, he said he’ll be here around 7:30.”

 

Sansa just hummed.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

 

The two-story home on the edge of the forest was easier to find than Sandor initially thought it would be, and with his mind freshly on Sansa he was a little surprised to see the white hatchback he helped earlier sitting neatly in front of a garage, with a space left open next to it. 

 

Sandor sighed as he pulled up next to it, putting his truck into park and running his hands through his hair. He got a bit of information from Bronn about the town, about how Petyr Baelish is a human sized sleaze ball but he's got almost every officer in his pocket, and how he was close with the Stark family before...

 


 

"Everyone loved the Stark's, ya' know? Perfect people with perfect children. Until one day Ned comes back from a business trip and he's got a 10 year old in tow saying this is his new son from a whore. The churchfolk freaked out, casted them from the church and exiled them. They lost business, lost their great big fancy house and found a little apartment that was supposed to fit all of them. All the kids left as soon as they could just to make it easier on the parents, ya know? And poor Sansa." 

 

Bronn was speaking to him while Sandor worked on a scene on the mans back, some crumbling castle overlooking the water. Sandor was only partly listening as he concentrated on getting the lines right. 

 

"What about Sansa?" Sandor asked, half paying attention as he concentrated more on the little windows at the top of a crumbling tower. 

 

"Oh! Shit that fuckin' hurts." 

 


"It's a tattoo."  Sandor said, pulling away and wiping away the ink and blood as they took a moment. 

 

Bronn sat up and rolled his shoulders, wincing as he stretched his side. 

 

"What about poor Sansa?" Sandor asked once again, his curiosity finally piqued enough to pay attention and play back the lucid information he hadn't quite realized before. 

 

"Oh, yeah, so the Stark mother and father with the littlest brother ride up to the big city-- you know the one like a 3 hour car ride from here? Yeah, they leave to go visit Sansa for one of her breaks from college and she couldn't make it home because of work, and the idiots didn't stay the night so they're driving back late." Bronn stopped suddenly, wincing as he moved slightly and grabbed some water for his parched mouth. 

 

It almost seemed like he didn't want to continue. 

 

"And?" Sandor asked, eyebrow raised and arms crossed. 

 

"And, they didn't make it back home." He said it with such finality, there was almost no emotion. "The three of them got into a car accident late into the evening, they were there for hours. Sansa still blames herself for it, she left college a term early from graduation so she could come to the funeral and take care of her mother's flower shop. None of the other kids wanted it, not the business, not the lease, not the crappy apartment up above they grew up in. So, Sansa has taken over everything. I don't know why, she doesn't talk about exactly why, but I think it's guilt that drives her forward." 

 

Bronn stretched, sighing. "It's sad to think about actually, I think her only friends in the whole wide world are me, that Brienne woman, and the flowers in the shop that hears her secrets."

 


 

He slammed his truck door shut, grabbing his duffel bag from the bed and walking up the dimly lit pathway. The home was nestled into the trees, with the sun setting behind them casting long beams of sunlight through the forest, the pathway leading up to the main door was uneven stone, with different kinds of flowers planted on the side of them.

 

A lot of love, and a lot of care went into taking care and maintaining this property.

 

Finally, with the porch light turning on alerting of his presence, he knocked on the red painted door.

 

“Sansa, that’s him! Can you grab the door for me please? I’m finishing up dinner.”

 

Please no. Sandor thought quickly, his knuckles tightening on the strap.

 

“Sure!” he heard her voice, the voice that called for his help over the phone. The voice who thanked him from across the street. The same voice that accused him of bringing trouble to the relatively quiet town.

 

There were many shades to Sansa Stark, many of which he’d seen from the window looking in- literally. He’d seen her determination; her fear; he’d seen her anger; he’d seen her cry; her relief and happiness; and now- he sees her surprise.

 

Sansa stood with the door open, her red hair pressed flat in its braid over her shoulder of the sundress she always wore, her mouth parted as she stared up at him-- not expecting him at all.

 

Him, who had been nothing but problems for her. Him, who had intimidated her, thought the worst of her, and belittled her.

 

Him, who may or may not have been an enemy; Sansa wasn’t sure yet, but with the way her mouth twisted into a slight frown, Sandor wasn’t expecting any praises of friendship.

 

“Mrs. Stark,” Sandor greeted softly, a slight inclination of his head-- her shoulders tensed immediately.

 

“Mr. Clegane.” She greeted tersely, opening the door wider and stepping off to the side to let him through.

 

Sandor stepped inside and looked around the home, polished and rich stained wood floors led into a homely sitting room where a couch, a love seat, and a recliner lived. A coffee table lived in between them, and on the other side was a rather large TV nestled above a fireplace. Two book shelves lived a good foot away from the fireplace but still near it, and underneath the front bay window was a bench.

 

The stairs were in front of them leading to the upper floor. Sandor looked to the left of him and there was a large oak door, an office of sorts he presumed with the large lock on the door. Looking farther into the home and saw that the dining room and kitchen were towards the back of the house.

 

Then Brienne came through from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel. She regarded Sandor carefully before striding forward, smiling as kindly as she could as she thrust her hand forward.

 

“Sandor, thank you for joining us this evening. Dinner will be ready shortly; you may put your things in the room you will be staying in and then you’re more than welcome to entertain yourselves as you see fit.” Brienne turned to Sansa then, “Sansa, would you also please show Sandor to the room he will be staying in?”

 

She didn’t give the girl a chance to respond before the taller woman walked away, heading back towards the kitchen. Sansa took a moment to take a calming breath, before looking back up to Sandor to grab his attention.

 

“We’re staying upstairs, come on.” She said softly, turning towards the stairs.

 

Sandor followed her up slowly, running his hand over the smooth and polished wooden banister as he continued to look around his surroundings, trying to ignore the woman in front of him with her stupid sun dress swishing at her knees like they always did. 

 

Sansa stopped at the first room on the left as they got to the top of the stairs, looking at him expectantly as she gestured to the room.

 

“This is the one you will be staying in, I’m staying in the room at the end of the hall, and Brienne’s room is at the end but on the other side.” Sandor looked at the door that Sansa pointed at, looming in the corner.

 

At both ends of the hallway there were large glass windows that showed either the front of the property and the lovely fields where the setting sun was, or the back of the property and the calming forest.

 

“You’ve a home, right? Why are you staying here?” Sandor asked her, many things about the small town confusing him and Sansa Stark was on the top of that bloody list. She looked at him, the low light of the setting sun turning her hair to fire and her eyes… Sandor’s mother had always said the eyes could never lie, and could never hide. He saw so many emotions behind them that it took his breath away for a second. 

 

They were seas, with secrets hiding underneath them and swimming with fears.

 

“I should ask the same to you.” She said quietly, Sandor shrugged loosely.

 

“Got kicked out of my house, down on my luck and trying to find a new place.”

 

Sansa was quiet for a moment, and Sandor took that moment to open the door to what would be his room for who knows how long.

 

“It’s Miss.” She said after a moment. Sandor looked back, a bit surprised she was still standing at the door. “Not Missus.” And with that little declaration, she left him to his thoughts. 

 

Which is a dangerous past time, really-- especially when the bane of your existence suddenly becomes much more 3 dimensional instead of just black and white. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

 

Sansa leaned against the wall just outside his door right before she trekked back downstairs, heart thundering at the intense look in Sandor’s eyes since he walked in the door not even five minutes ago. She seemed to be gasping, hand coming to pull the top part of her dress away from her chest to give herself more room to breathe.

 

What was going on?

 

His eyes, they were deep pools of silver and gray and they could seem to peer into her soul. There was a knowing in them when she opened the door and was surprised to see him standing on Brienne’s front porch.

 

A shyness, an unsureness that she was sure hadn’t existed before existed then exuberated from him as he was before her. The softness in his voice when he spoke her surname surprised her.

 

Was this the same man she met last week? Had they only met each other last week?

 

Sansa shook her head.

 

Where was the distrust? The hatred and the sneers? The snide remarks?

 

Sansa ran her hand down her face, loose strands of her red hair framing her face in the fading low light seeping in from the upstairs window.

 

Why was it that when he looked at her now, those few brief glances there was pain? There was an intense knowingness behind those eyes now that it sent shivers tingling up her spine.

 

It’s been consuming her thoughts since she first saw them, first saw him.

 

Why was it him.

 

Sansa took a shuddering breath, fixed her dress back in place and finally headed back downstairs to help Brienne with the finishing touches with dinner.

 

“There you are Sansa,” Brienne said as the younger woman came into the kitchen, Sansa watched as Brienne took a pot roast from the oven, a large glass container covering the meat, potatoes, and carrots. The larger woman placed the freshly made dish on the counter, before grabbing other dishes from on top of the stove and setting them on the counter as well.

 

Sansa smiled softly, pushing the wisps of hair back and coming to help her friend properly set the table.

 

Brienne gave Sansa a soft look as she carefully regarded the younger woman who was resetting the table again. Brienne frowned when she saw the distracted look in her eyes.

 

“Sansa, is everything ok?” Brienne asked softly. Sansa set the fork that was in her hand down and sighed.

 

“It was just awkward is all, you know how I am with new people.” Sansa met Brienne’s own soft blue eyes for only a moment before finding something else to look at.

 

“I know, Sansa. But Sandor seems nice enough. Give him a chance, I’m sure you’ll find something you’re interested in.” Sansa grabbed the salad bowl she had prepared earlier and brought it over to the table.

 

“Take your own advice.” Sansa quipped back, smiling at her friend.

 

By the time Sandor had made it downstairs the table had been fully set, Brienne and Sansa were waiting for him as there was an empty seat on the other side of the table for him. Brienne sat at the head of the table, Sansa on her left with Sandor coming on her right.

 

“Welcome, Sandor.” Brienne said smiling proudly at her display. “I won’t usually do such an extravagant meal, especially since Sansa will be staying with us only for tonight. But it’s both of yours first nights and I wanted you both to feel welcome.”

 

Sandor was awed for a moment, glancing at the radiant smile and the pride that Brienne shown, while also looking at the quieter woman who suddenly seemed shy.

 

“Thank you, Brienne.” Sandor said, not forgetting his manners. “Sansa.” He added, quieter and unsure.

 

Sansa’s eyes sparked as she looked up at him in surprise.

 

Brienne sat first, then the other two followed and it was awkward for a moment.

 

Before Sandor could grab his fork Brienne grabbed his hand. He startled back a bit, surprised at the sudden touch. The look she gave him was one of slight surprise and expectation. Sandor looked over to Sansa who was also holding Brienne’s closest hand.

 

Sansa gave the man who was obviously startled and confused a gentle smile, before glancing to Brienne and then offering him her hand from over the table.

 

He hesitated; he probably would’ve hesitated with Brienne as well if she had asked. Though with Sansa… Sansa already didn’t like him, but here they were neutral to each other, he helped her once already regarding Petyr, and she helped him regarding forcing him to get to know the townsfolk.

 

 

And they both ended up here, at the same time.

 

Sandor took her hand slowly, like it would burn his flesh because it was so pure and his was so tainted.

 

How could anything this pure be marred in any way?

 

Sandor gazed at their touching hands, his giant regarding her dainty ones where her entire hand fit on three of his fingers. She was so little.

 

Sandor glanced back up at Sansa, but she was avoiding his eyes pointedly with the slight inclination of her head and her eyes were focused on the wood grain in the table.

 

Brienne, once satisfied that Sansa and Sandor had both taken her hand for prayer, bowed her head and started to speak.

 

Sansa glanced at Brienne as she said her thanks, but she looked over to Sandor, whose eyes weren’t closed. He was looking intently down at his food, but then he caught her stare.

 

His eyes held the same intensity that they had earlier, but Sansa refused to look away. She studied them, studied his face from across the table, trying to figure out this strange man that she didn’t know.

 

And she unfairly judged too quickly, she realized. Sansa’s eyes flickered down to her plate then once again to their joined hands, his thumb resting peacefully on the back of her hand.

 

Sansa wondered briefly what it would feel like if his thumb was rubbing circles in the back of her hand.

 

“Amen.” Brienne finished, smiling contentedly as she pulled her hands from Sansa’s and Sandor’s.

 

“Amen.” Sansa and Sandor said at the same time, awkwardly letting go of each other’s hands. Sansa cleared her throat and grabbed the wine that sat in front of her and took a drink.

 

Sandor looked at his wine, and suddenly wished that it was a much stronger drink.

 

Dinner started quietly, with compliments from Sansa about the food. Which was true, the food was very good. It reminded Sansa of her own mother’s cooking. It helped probably though that Sansa helped make most of dinner… and she had her mother’s cookbook.

 

“So, Sandor.” Brienne said after a moment and she wiped her mouth carefully with her napkin. Sandor, on the other hand, was not as well-mannered as the two women who sat at the table with him. He had pot roast from the side of his mouth and some carrot in his beard.

 

He made a curious sound as he looked up at Brienne, who blinked but kept a stoic face. Sansa, on the other hand, snorted into her wine glass.

 

At Sandor’s accusing glare however she coughed into her hand and hid her blushing cheeks in her red wine.

 

“Where did you move from?” Brienne asked curiously. Sansa tilted the top of her wine glass down so she could see his face better, and he pretended not to notice her.

 

Sandor finished his mouth full of food, wiped the rest of food from his mouth and beard, and set the napkin crumpled in his lap.

 

“New Hampshire. I packed up what semblance of a life I had there and moved here with Jaime Lannister, started a business, here we are.”

 

“How did you meet Jaime?” Sansa asked suddenly, her blue eyes seemingly glowing.

 

The room grew silent, and very tense. Sandor leaned back in his chair slowly, grabbed his wine glass and downed it entirely. He poured himself another (full) glass and drank most of that as well before answering.

 

“We were in Afghanistan together, for the war.”

 

“You were in the military?” He didn’t know who asked, he didn’t care.

 

“Aye,” he burped, his accent slipping out once more, finishing his wine and reaching to pour himself another before Brienne grabbed the bottle.

 

“Don’t gorge yourself, you’ll have to pay for replacements if you keep drinking all my wine.”

 

“Fine by me,” he grabbed the bottle from her anyways and poured himself another glass.

 

He sat for another moment, staring at the wood grain.

 

“Aye was there, when he lost his hand.” He gestured to his face, “tis how aye got this.” When no one else spoke up immediately he finished eating.

 

“Thanks for dinner.” He finished his glass of wine before setting it down gently. He dragged the bottle off the table though and lumbered out of the dining room.

 

“We’ve all got war stories, it seems.” Brienne said sourly, her lips in a thin line as she cut her pot roast.

 

Sansa nursed her wine, taking her time seeing her supply was suddenly dry.

 

She watched him, seeing as she had a direct view into the living room where he sat in the armchair near one of the bookcases and turned his head to look at the book titles lazily from the side.

 

How suddenly his mood could change; Sansa slowly worked on her own dinner plate, thinking of the many different colors of Sandor Clegane.

 

She would find out more tonight, she determined, eyeing him again. He wasn’t in his room, and Brienne usually liked to hide in hers after dinner.

 

Their secrets would unravel, in due time.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

 

“We shouldn’t do this” her voice was quiet, but it was silenced by rough lips and wine breath.

 

“You’re chirping, Little Bird.” His voice was rough and gravelly as he talked against her lips. He claimed them again, his beard scratching her delicate cheeks, but she didn’t care; she felt the desperation and longing for a human touch spill into her kiss and leave burning trails from her fingertips on his skin.

 

She couldn’t get enough contact.

 

There was never enough contact, like he was too far away and there were too many clothes in the way.

 

“Here,” they parted ways for a breath, only one though. It was enough to get his shirt out of the way. He was warm, so warm under her touch.

 

She gasped as her cool skin melded against his, and she was helpless, trapped by his hypnotizing gaze.

 

Her body moved without her realizing, but she stepped away from him—just out of arms reach- and she undid the zipper in the back of her dress, and she watched with satisfaction as his gaze was trained only on her.

 

She pulled the straps of her dress off, and then it fell in a pool of material down by her feet. He held his hand out for her to step out of it, and just like at the dinner table it fit well within his.

 

Skin to skin, he lowered her on the bed behind them. He loomed over her, like a fog, and encompassed her.

 

“Sansa,” he said her name so quietly, so tenderly against her neck that it was a breath.

 

“Sandor.” Her hands were on his shoulders as she gasped out his.

 


 

 

Sansa was usually up earlier than this, but as she sat up in her borrowed bed and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, she realized the sun was already high in the sky and above the tops of the trees.

 

Her face flushed suddenly with the realization of the dream she just had, of… of Sandor. She didn’t want to admit it, not out loud and she was very, very confused as to why her mind created such a dream and why she enjoyed it as much as she did—but here she was. Body flushed with unfinished passion and a yearning for more, while also being thoroughly embarrassed at herself.

 

It had been too long, that was all.

 

Sansa sighed, feeling a wash of shame as she thought of what Brienne would think if she found out.

 

Maybe it was the dinner conversation last night? Maybe it was the chance they had to learn a bit more about each other?

 

Brienne went to bed, and they found out that they both disliked the church.

 

Sandor was in war, and Sansa lost her parents and youngest brother. Sansa found out he was an immigrant from Scotland and his family moved to New Hampshire when he was young, but when his sister died… His mother moved back to Scotland, his brother went to a mental institution, and he went to war where he met Jaime, and now he was here.

 

Sandor found out that Sansa had a lot of siblings, she had four full blood related siblings, one half-brother, and one adopted brother, making 7 of them in total. Sandor had no idea how her mother, Catelyn, was able to handle all of that. He also learned that Sansa was supposed to get her bachelor’s in biology when she had found out that her family died in a car accident on their way home from… seeing her.

 

Sansa rubbed her eyes and willed her heart to stop hurting; her arms still felt warm where he touched her last night, holding her as she cried again but it felt like the first time all over.

 


 

 

He held her, as she curled up on his lap and had wracking sobs that shook her body like a leaf. His arms circled around her, encasing her completely, as she recounted the hatred her sister had for her. Arya had blamed Sansa, and Sansa blamed herself.

 

“Little Bird, your chirping gets you nowhere. Have you talked to your family since the funeral?” At feeling the gentle shake of her head, he sighed. “It’s not your fault, you must realize this, yes?”

 

“Can we stop talking?” She mumbled weakly. Sandor chuckled, his broad chest rumbling underneath her, but he relaxed.

 

“You’re the one chirping, but yes.” His arms tightened around her small frame.

 


 

 

“Sansa?” Brienne’s voice was suddenly on the other side of her door, and Sansa jumped at the interruption. She hadn’t even heard the other woman’s footsteps let alone hear her knock on the door.

 

“Y-Yes?” Sansa silently cursed how weak her voice sounded, clenching and un-clenching her fists she managed to get her legs off the bed when Brienne knocked again.

 

“Sansa, are you alright? Breakfast has been ready for quite some time, and I’ve never known you to sleep in this late.”

 

Sansa sighed heavily, and then shivering when her bare feet touched the wooden floor. She found a robe, draped it around herself, and finally opened the door.

 

Brienne stood with her hands behind her back, a tasteful blouse of pastel blue and, of course, her little cross that hung around her neck. Sansa glanced up at the taller woman, before shuffling out of the room and closing the door behind her.

 

Brienne watched curiously as Sansa shuffled down the stairs in her robe, her red hair an absolute mess.

 

Brienne sighed irritably, before following her.

 

Sansa didn’t make it very far though as she stopped in the dining room and looked out the back windows towards the forest in some mixture of awe and confusion.

 

What is he doing?” She said, not sitting down.

 

“That’s his apology for his attitude at dinner last night,” Brienne said, serving eggs and toast at the table where she expected Sansa to sit. “He’s cutting me some more firewood as we go into fall.”

 

Sansa sat down where Brienne put her plate but then looked up at the tall woman confused.

 

“Brienne, it’s nearly summer.”

 

“And then it’ll be fall. And winter. And spring again, then suddenly it’ll have been a full year. Sansa, that’s how seasons work.” Brienne said, smiling to herself as she put on the kettle for tea.

 

Sansa shot an annoyed look at the older woman, before chancing another look outside.

 

She dares not stare less Brienne sprinkle holy water across her to banish the lustful thoughts that burned inside of her, but boy put on a goddamn shirt.

 

Sandor was out back with rounds of wood, picking up large rounds and throwing them on his shoulder like they weighed nothing, moving them effortlessly over to the old large stump that was the cutting block, and swinging his axe down.

 

His back muscles flexed impressively, and he was a lot more toned than in Sansa’s dream.

 

He was also a lot bigger than Sansa’s dream.

 

“I have to get out of this house.” Sansa whispered to herself quietly, quickly turning to her breakfast to eat as fast as she could.

 

Tyrion.

 

“I’ll be having Tyrion pick me up around 1 today, Brienne.” Sansa brought up as Brienne sat down across the table from her. Brienne brought out a Sudoku puzzle, sipped her tea, and started working.

 

Was Sansa the only one seeing the hulking man outside?

 

“Alright, if your living situation doesn’t improve please note that you are more than welcome to come back here and stay.” Brienne offered. Sansa stood up after having finished her breakfast, took a quick glance outside, and gave Brienne a very serious look.

 

“I don’t think I can do that while he’s still here, Brienne. I’m sorry.”

 

Brienne gave Sansa a slight sad smile, “I take it you didn’t find something in common then? Shame.”

 

Sansa shook her head slowly and made her way back up the stairs to get ready to stay with Tyrion and get the hell out of the house and away from whatever Sandor was doing to her.

 

Hopefully staying with Tyrion will go much smoother, because she’ll be there for a week.

 

By the time she done packing and dressed it was time for her to leave, she stood in the entryway with her little kitten heels and another sundress (because the weather calls for it, or that’s what she claims), and wondering why she went through the effort of putting on a bit of lip gloss and mascara.

 

Sandor had walked in the back door, sweating from the heat and his workout. He toed his boots off in the mudroom, and then finally looked up.

 

Sansa could hear a car pull up outside, and honk twice.

 

Sandor was no longer shirtless, but his eyes were as hypnotizing now as they were in her dream.

 

And that made them dangerous.

 

She gave him a slight smile regardless.

 

“It was lovely getting the chance to properly meet you, Mr. Clegane.” She gave a slight bow of her head.

 

He was quiet for a moment, mulling over what to say.

 

“You too, Miss Stark.” He said finally.

 

It was little, but Sansa fought the urge to smile, and failed. Instead, she hid it as she turned around and the left the house, having already said goodbye to Brienne a moment beforehand.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

The town was quiet as the green convertible drove through the main street, it slowed in front of the flower shop but at seeing the store was closed it sped off, and within a few turns was out of town and driving past the large fields of gold, green, and produce in between.

The engine roared as it flew down the country roads, taking one of the first turns it came to and started heading into the forest that sat on the edges of the fields. The road into the forest curved and wound, emerging itself eventually to the back side of the lake.

Petyr looked out the window as he took a curve in the road and saw the little town across the lake and was able to see the top of the main church. Petyr couldn’t hold back the smirk as he grabbed the steering wheel tighter and sped up through the corners.

Eventually the driveway he was looking for came into view and he slowed down to take the turn, a few hundred feet in and after an initial turn around some larger trees there was a large gate that blocked the rest of the driveway, and a big iron fence ran itself through the forest.

A large golden L sat in the middle of the gate, but as soon as his car sat for a second it opened before him. Petyr smiled deviously, pulling through the gate and continuing up the driveway.

It was only another few minutes of his tires crunching gravel before the trees opened to a large estate.

As Petyr pulled up to the multi-level home, he spied exactly who he was looking for sitting out front on the wrap around porch.

Draped in a red floor length dress that looked like a down payment on a house, with a glass of wine already at noon, was Cersei Lannister.

Sitting at her side on the patio furniture was her oldest son, Joffrey Baratheon, who was the spitting image of his grandfather when he was his age.

Petyr took only a few steps away from his car before he stopped at the base of the steps up to the porch.

Cersei studied him from down her nose at him, like she was the queen of the world and he was a mild annoyance.

Finally, after a silent moment where Petyr and Cersei didn’t break eye contact and with Joffrey wanting to say something (but wisely not), she gave the slightest of amused smiles.

“Petyr Baelish,” she said, the hint of her New York accent she picked up coming through. “I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing you in ages.”

“Cersei,” Petyr gave a slight bow of his head. “Your radiance has been missed; this town has been too dull without you.”

Her smile grew tense as her fingers tapped against her glass. But at the amused raised brow he gave her, he hoped to capture her attention for the briefest of moments.

“I’m hoping that we can rectify that.”

Cersei leaned back in the chair she was occupying, wine still in hand. She studied him before looking over to Joffrey.

“Joffrey, your father has been pushing you to get into Politics, lets start small.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

Sansa sighed as she rode in silence with whoever it was that Tyrion sent to go pick her up; she felt uncomfortable with the gesture but if it meant she didn’t have to worry about Petyr seeing her or her car she would take it.

She slumped in her seat, rubbing her eyes from exhaustion and stress. She was certain that when she was getting dressed this morning that she found a silver hair, but tucked it in place amongst the rest of her red.

They pulled up to an apartment building closer to the center of town, instead of the few two stories that were sprinkled throughout town (like the one she currently lived in), this was a three story—and Tyrion lived on the top floor.

Makes sense, since he built it. It was one of the most modern structures in their little town, and thanks to his construction and development company he’s been able to expand the town and bring in more fresh blood. He’s driving the city forward, is what he likes to say.

The driver went under the building where there was an underground parking garage and parked in front of the elevators up to the main lobby. Sansa grabbed her bags, thanked the driver politely albeit quietly, and slipped out.

Tyrion knew she was coming, but it was still weird riding the elevator to the lobby, seeing how pristine and out of place it looked in their small town, and riding the elevator the rest of the way to the top floor.

There were two doors, one to the roof and the other to Tyrion’s personal living quarters.

“If I threw myself off the roof, I wouldn’t have to worry about any of this anymore.” Sansa told herself rather bitterly as she approached Tyrion’s door.

It was open before she could finish knocking, and Sansa blinked in surprise down at the man who opened it.

“Were you standing right behind the door or something?” Sansa asked, raising her eyebrow.

“Pacing, actually.” Tyrion said simply, closing the door behind her as he ushered her in.

His apartment was well sized, open with large windows that overlooked the town and the forest and lake beyond.

“Here, let me show you to the room you’ll be occupying.”

Sansa followed Tyrion slowly down the hallway, past the living room, in a trance-like state. She felt numb to the situation at hand, and how she came to be in this predicament in the first place.

Sansa glanced at the artwork that lined Tyrion’s walls, and realized the drastic differences between the two of them. Her home was small, cluttered with memories of her family with only three bedrooms. That building held her entire life in its walls, and even outside in what backyard there was that sheltered her greenhouse and garden.

His home though, it was neat, organized, and completely devoid of personality while personality leaked from the walls of hers.

When she was younger, Sansa loved Tyrion’s apartment-- the modern look, the technology savvy home, the sleek design that had the illusion of cleanliness; it was starkly different from the apartment she lived in with her sister (whom she shared a room with), her brothers where 3 of them shared the other room, while her parents took the master bedroom and her younger brother Bran had to sleep in the backroom of the shop because of his wheelchair.

Sansa thought of her life back then; about how everything was so cluttered; space was minimal; everyone was standing on each other’s toes (literally); Hers and Tyrion’s footsteps echoed down the hallway as they still walked towards the room Sansa would be staying in, her mind wandering more about when she finally left home and had her own room for the first time in years when she left for college.

And now, all Sansa had was an abundance of room in that apartment that housed her life.

“Sansa?” Tyrion’s voice broke through the glass walls of her mind; Sansa blinked rapidly as she looked down at Tyrion. He looked up at her, worry etched on his subtly aging features with the worry line drawn between his brows and his seemingly permanent frown lines.

She supposed though that being on the city council would make one look older.

“Where did your mind run off to this time?” He questioned jokingly, but she knew it was a serious inquiry.

She glanced up into the room she supposed would be hers, and then glanced to the door a bit farther down and assumed that was his.

“I was just thinking of the old house, and how I don’t really remember it.” She took a step into the neat looking room and glanced around it. Everything was white, and devoid of color. The walls were white; the sheets on the bed were white; the floor was white carpet; and even outside the sliding glass doors onto the balcony the sky was white with clouds.

“Ah, well I hope you find your accommodations reasonable. I know you mentioned you’ll only be needing some place to stay for a short amount of time but…” he trailed off, pausing for effect.

She reacted as he expected and turned around to give him her attention. She was striking in the white room; all color from her flame red hair where the wisps of stray hairs kissed her skin, her blue eyes that pierced his soul, and the white sundress with yellow patterned daisies scattered across the fabric.

The vision took his breath away again like she did when she appeared in front of his door.

“You’re welcome to stay longer if you need to.” He offered, looking back up at her eyes, watching her subtle reactions.

Her mouth twitched the faintest amount into a frown, but from what exactly he couldn’t be sure.

“Thank you, Tyrion.” She said kindly, putting her bags on her bed.

Tyrion’s mouth formed a small, thin line as he awkwardly nodded and swayed his arms, moving back towards his room and closing the door softly behind him.

Sansa took a moment before closing the door of her temporary room, sitting on the bed as she took in the nothingness the room offered.

Instead, she unbraided her red hair and let it fall gently down her back and hang over her shoulders so there was color saturating the room.

Slowly, she started clenching and unclenching her fists, the movement gaining speed as her mind started wandering towards the fact that Joffrey Baratheon was now back in town, and how much worse her life must get before the gods would leave her alone.

She remembered when his parents still lived in town, and he was in high school with her, he was a Junior while she was a Sophomore; She remembered their relationship that had been faked for years, forced because their parents wanted to join their company’s together; she remembered his Junior prom, she remembered drinking with some of his friends in the limo before the dance.

She didn’t remember what happened after that though; and that’s what scared her the most about Joffrey. She only had a few beers that night, she knew that much, she shouldn’t have blacked out, but she did.

She knew why, too. Joffrey told her- he told everyone at school that he drugged her, raped her, because she was nothing; her family was worth nothing; and she couldn’t do anything about it.

The scandal that followed was a mess, the plans for the two business to merge fell apart; especially when the Baratheon’s found out the Stark’s were hoping to settle debts with the merger. The Baratheon’s moved bases to New York that summer, and the Stark’s lost the rest of their business, it was sold off so they could continue paying for the apartment, at least by that time though they only had 4 children left at home to look after, and not 7.

Joffrey ruined her life, and now he was back in town because of fucking course he was.

A knock came from the door, bringing Sansa gasping back to the present. She took a shuddering breath, feeling tears fall off her cheeks and onto her hands. She stared wide eyed down at her palms where there were crescent moon shaped cuts all along both of her palms, they were bleeding and blood was pushed under her nails.

“Yes?” She leveled her voice to hide the panic that overtook her heart.

“Sansa, are you hungry? I can make us a snack or something if you would like it.” Tyrion’s voice came from the other side of the closed door. Sansa took a deep, shuddering breath to steady her heartbeat. His voice was calming, soothing, grounding.

The relief that she was not back at that awful time in her life, brought fresh tears pooling down her cheeks.

“That sounds lovely, thank you.” She called out, slowly stretching her fingers out from being curled and putting so much force behind them for what was probably several minutes. She slowly flipped the underside of her dress up where the silk slip was and pressed her bloody palms to the underside of it to clean them up.

She ignored the other dried blood stains on the slip, trying to concentrate on the questions Tyrion was asking her instead of the blood on her palms.

They’re getting worse, she realized solemnly as she heard Tyrion’s footsteps fade away towards the kitchen.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

 

Bronn never really considered himself a good guy. Hell, even he’s taken bribes from Petyr fucking Baelish a few times before, which is why he can’t get after most of his men who do the dirty work for the asshole.

 

But as sat in his regular car in his regular clothes down the street from Sansa’s store, watching the sleaze ball stroll up from his putrid green convertible and stand in front of the store—watching it, waiting for Sansa to inevitably open the door for him and getting very mad when she didn’t, Bronn reasoned that Petyr just is a worse guy.

 

He didn’t ask why Sansa wanted Bronn to come watch the shop and water her plants per her directions for like an hour a day for one week, but if it was to help throw Petyr Baelish off the girl’s trail for a week so she could get some fucking peace and quiet, Bronn wasn’t one to say no.

 

Especially not when she begged and pouted like she always did; he was a sucker for her blue eyes (but don’t tell her that).

 

Bronn waited a little bit longer when Petyr left to go to the tattoo shop before strolling from his car and up to her shop, continuing past it to the back door where he entered. He didn’t turn on the lights, but there was enough sunlight streaming through the large windows that he didn’t need to turn on the overhead lights.

 

Although he did turn on some of the plant lights, making sure they got some sort of nourishment while he went to find the water marked for certain areas.

 

As he grabbed a jug and stood up though, he chanced a glance outside and nearly dropped the water over the floor as he saw Jaime leaving the tattoo shop with Petyr and a blonde young man in tow.

 

No, that was Joffrey fucking Baratheon!

 

Bronn ducked behind the counter, setting the jug of water down as he cursed to himself.

 

He hadn’t had the pleasure of interacting with the little asshole since he left, and he didn’t want to do it again.

 

Bronn looked up to see Petyr looking at the shop again and he cursed to himself as he watched from the darkness of the shop that Petyr stopped walking with the other two men.

 

“Keep walking you mother fuckers,” Bronn said to himself as he watched the group of men, Petyr stared at the shop for a moment longer before continuing to walk towards his convertible while Jaime and Joffrey walked around the back of the tattoo shop.

 

Bronn sighed in relief as the green convertible peeled away finally, and he stood up with the jug of water once again.

No wonder why Sansa wanted to get the hell away from this place if Petyr and Joffrey were sniffing around.

 

He sighed to himself as he went about watering the plants, checking the list that Sansa left for him to make sure he was watering the right ones the correct amount. When he got to the lilies near the bookshelf at the back of the store, he found a picture tucked away behind them.

 

It was the Stark’s, all of them, standing in front of the store for their grand opening.

 

He couldn’t hold back the soft frown when he studied the picture closer and noticed the water drop stains on the picture itself from behind the glass, as well as the marks on the glass as it streaked down through the dust.

 

Bronn set the picture back where he found it and took a moment to glance around the shop, taking in the dust that floated through the sun streaks, and the passive plants with vines that hung down over shelves, orchids that sat in the middle of the shop, the lilies that sat in front of him, the other general flowers that hung their heads low like they too were in mourning.

 

If it wasn’t for Sansa now, and the back room no longer being a bedroom, Bronn could swear that the shop never changed.

 

Even now as he stood in the dim light, he could almost hear Catelyn’s voice with the sweet lilt that she had as she chastised her children, or Ned’s voice as he moved some of the heavier plants around the shop for his wife; Bronn could even almost hear the footsteps of the children on the upper floor.

 

He sighed instead, suddenly feeling the weight of the loneliness the shop held as he continued with his task at hand.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

 

Spending the morning and the evenings with Brienne was odd, as it had been the most amount of time he had been in another woman’s company since he was in the army—and even then, he didn’t spend a lot of time around the women there, either.

 

Sandor wasn’t a great conversationalist; he knew this. He wasn’t good at small talk, initiating or participating in.

 

The first morning he woke up with Brienne already having made breakfast, Sansa had still been asleep and mumbling loud enough in her sleep about something or other that he could barely make out her voice through the door. When Sandor had gotten down to the kitchen, he was surprised to see a rather hearty breakfast had been prepared.

 

“I apologize for my behavior at dinner last night.” Was the first thing he had told her as they stood at opposite sides of the dining table. Brienne inclined her head, thought for a moment as she scanned his face, and then sat at the table.

 

“I accept your apology but would like to ask for a favor from you.”

 

And that seemed to be how their relationship ran thus far—he apologized for his behavior, she had him do tasks around the property, and then he left for the day.

 

Although this evening was stranger still, it was a relatively quiet day at the shop even though he had to deal with Jaime’s damn nephew coming by for the second day in a row and asking nosy questions- picking up equipment and even breaking one of Sandor’s tattoo guns. Jaime apologized on his behalf, but the kid was 24 fucking years old, and unapologetic in everything he did and touched his hands on.

 

Eventually he threw the kid out, and Jaime followed him out.

 

Gendry also didn’t like the shithead; Gendry was 25 but much better behaved than the spoiled brat. Of course, though, Sandor couldn’t say anything about it since this was Jaime’s nephew and Jaime was the co-owner of the tattoo shop, so he was stuck dealing with Joffrey.

 

The kid was annoying.

 

“You seem more frustrated than usual today, Sandor.” Brienne said simply, glancing up at him from over her plate as she put a brussels sprout in her mouth and chewed. Sandor looked at her from under his eyebrows and frowned, shoving a chunk of steak in his mouth instead.

 

“Either way,” she wiped her mouth, pouring herself another glass of wine and doing the same for him. “Olenna asked me to rely a message to you when I saw her earlier today,”

 

Sandor slowed his chewing immediately, sitting up and wiping his mouth as well, making sure to dab the corners where his mustache and beard were closest to his mouth.

 

Seeing as Brienne had his attention she continued: “Your presence has been requested for the town community center for a Fourth of July celebration, Olenna is one of the directors of this party and wants you to be there.”

 

Sandor snorted, showing his distaste of the idea. “Tell her I decline.”

 

Brienne stilled, leveling her gaze with his. “Unfortunately, this isn’t negotiable.” Brienne’s words were like ice.

 

Sandor took his wine glass and knocked it back, setting it down and pouring himself some more. He looked Brienne in the eyes as he took another gulp of the drink before setting the glass back down, half full.

 

“Guess I’m going then, when is this stupid party?”

 

“Friday night, the whole town is encouraged to come but Olenna wants you there specifically.”

 

Sandor finished his dinner in silence, only thanking Brienne for the food when he was done. He sat the dishes in the sink, rinsed them off, and grabbed one of the books from Brienne’s bookshelves before heading up to the room he was staying in.

 

Sandor had noticed that this was the third day that Sansa’s shop remined closed, and now that he was alone he could think about it. He didn’t want to bring this information up to anyone- especially when Petyr Baelish entered his establishment yesterday because Jaime and Joffrey were there.

 

In fact, Sandor pointedly doesn't say anything about Sansa when Joffrey is around, especially not after Sandor met him for the first time yesterday.


 

“Lupine Flowers?” His voice was nasally, and the disgusted snobbish look on his face seemed permanent. “Are those bastard Starks still in the area?” He said out loud, not particularly to anyone. Sandor sat in the back of the shop with his arms crossed, frowning as he stared daggers in Jaime’s head for this disruption. Gendry was working on a design for a new client he had been commissioned for, pointedly ignoring the man in the front area.

 

Sandor also noticed that Jaime didn’t answer that question, he shifted to put his weight on his other foot instead and ignored the question.

 

Not like Joffrey noticed no one answered him, he continued spouting some nonsense about how disgusting and pathetic the Stark family was.

 

“They have always been obsolete, you know. They couldn’t control their children and their business; they’ve been failures for ages, and I’m surprised that store is still standing. What, did the children sell off that business too to keep themselves from going to jail?”

 

Sandor sighed irritably, looking out the window towards the street from the back of the shop and frowned when he saw Petyr Baelish standing in front of the shop peering in. Sandor’s frown deepened when Petyr started walking across the street toward his tattoo shop.

 

Sandor got to his feet quickly when Petyr reached for the front door, he put himself in the back office and closed the door. His fists tightened behind the closed door as he heard Petyr’s voice being so familiar and engaging with the brat.

 

But, he noticed Petyr , when faced with the same question, also didn’t answer Joffrey’s question about the Stark’s and who now owns the flower shop.


Sandor sat against the headboard of his bed, a night lamp on next to him as he pulled some slightly bent reading glasses out from his bag and settled them on his nose before opening the book he grabbed.

 

But reading was futile, he didn’t absorb the words from the cover or from the pages he passively flipped through.

 

He tossed the book at the foot of the bed out of annoyance, also tossing his glasses to the side so they landed softly on the comforter of his bed.

 

Sansa, all he could think about was stupid Sansa. She seemingly fell off the face of the earth, but there was no one he could ask about her whereabouts because she was hiding for a reason, a reason Sandor didn’t get to know.

 

Was it because of the Baratheon’s?

 

Would she be at that ridiculous party Olenna is forcing him to go to?

 

Sandor laid down and rolled over on his side, looking out of the window and at the stars that sat perched atop the trees.

 

If he didn’t think too much about it, he could almost be back at his mother’s house in Scotland—the home where he grew up with his older brother and his baby sister; back to a time before they immigrated; before Gregor went crazy. Before his sister died.

 

Sandor breathed deeply, but the smell was wrong to be Scotland. Suddenly, he was back in his dim lit room at Brienne’s home, in America. He pushed his hair out of his face, his fingers brushing against the sensitive skin. He pulled his hand away immediately, sitting up and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed.

 

They moved on his own accord, taking him down the stairs.

 

Brienne sat with her legs curled up under a blanket on the couch, a crossword in her lap.

 

She looked up at him.

 

“Going somewhere?” she asked, taking in his leather jacket and boots he hadn’t realized he put on.

 

Sandor looked down at himself, looking at her and realizing something.

 

“I’m going for a drink; do you want to come with?”

 

At her wide eyes of surprise, he continued.

 

“I’m paying, I’ll even drive if you tell me where to go.”

 

She moved silently, coming towards him.

 

She reached past him for her jacket, staring him straight in the eyes as she pulled it on.

 

“Take that as a yes, then.” He grumbled, opening the door for her to step out first. The door closed behind them, leaving the house in silence.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

 

“There’s a storm brewing behind your eyes, Sansa.” Tyrion supplied, having taken her out to a bar at the edge of town per her request of wanting to get out of the house and needing a drink.

 

Tyrion could understand her need for socialization, but with her depression he wasn’t sure he wanted to nurse her drinking.

 

But then again, he’s no better and therefore not her therapist. So here they sat at a booth at a bar, hopefully one Petyr and Joffrey wouldn’t be frequenting anytime soon.

 

“I can’t believe she’s in town,” Tyrion said as they found a booth in a rather secluded spot, where they could see the front door, but the front door couldn’t necessarily see them.

 

Sansa had already ordered something with Vodka in it before they even sat down.

 

She stared down the bar for a second, frowning and sitting across from Tyrion. She looked unamused, and rather angry.

 

Tyrion got scotch, and by the time he had picked up his drink when they were delivered hers was halfway gone.

 

“Sansa,” Tyrion started, “I’m concerned about your wellbeing.” He looked at her drink, her hands clenched around the glass.

 

“Don’t be,” she bit out instead, her eyes glanced over his shoulder and she downed the rest of her drink. Tyrion hesitated for a moment, waiting for her to get the bartenders attention before leaning out of the booth and looking down the way.

 

Brienne sat with a strange large man, her cheeks were flushed, she was smiling, and the strange man’s arm was around her shoulder.

 

Their heads were close together, and there were a few abandoned glasses sitting in front of them.

 

“I never see Brienne out at the bar, I wonder how he got her out of the house.” Tyrion supplemented, trying to start some sort of conversation with Sansa. He glanced back up at her and indeed that was where her eyes were looking, and they were like ice.

 

“I have no idea.” It was curt, simple, and cold.

 

“Are you upset that she didn’t invite you out?” Tyrion tried, and indeed Sansa’s eyes snapped over to his, piercing ice into his heart.

 

Sansa sighed as another whatever it was, she ordered was placed in front of her, and again it too was gone quickly.

 

Tyrion sipped his scotch, ordering another one as well. Seemed like it was going to be a long night for him.

 

Farther down the bar though Brienne sat with Sandor, and she giggled rather loudly like a schoolgirl over something he said in his Scottish accent that slipped through, his arm was over her shoulder as they talked lowly, having been there for at least an hour or two already. The bartender finally cut them both off, and with nothing else keeping them there, they stumbled out of the bar together.

 

Sandor reasoned that he was well enough to drive, and Brienne also reasoned that they were close enough to her house that it would be fine.

 

Thankfully, they did indeed make it back to the house without an incident. Brienne stumbled, giggling to herself over how her legs feel like jelly, and Sandor having had a bit more practice being this drunk, walked well enough.

 

Although his balance was shit. He stumbled into Brienne after she unlocked the door, having turned around before opening it to smile at him.

 

But his arms caught him on either side of her before he could crush her, but she was big like him, and wouldn’t have been crushed. Though, at this angle, with her slightly under him, her cheeks flushed red, and her blue eyes shining from laughter, he didn’t mind that this was Brienne in America.

 

His breathing was rough, as was hers, and in the cold of the night their breaths came out in puffs that they could see, especially under the porch light. She glanced at his lips, and then back up at his eyes, and her eye lids lowered enough that it was all Sandor needed.

 

He captured hers in a sloppy but soft kiss, alcohol breath tickling their tongues. It was quick, but it was… wrong.

 

Sandor pulled away, blinking at the sudden onslaught of the bright light that was over them.

 

This was wrong, it felt wrong.

 

He stepped back, slowly moving her aside as he stepped inside the home and immediately went upstairs, closing the door to his room.

 

Brienne stood outside the front door of her home, her breathing shaky as she touched her lips.


Tyrion cut Sansa off at three drinks, or more like the bartender cut her off at three drinks seeing as she was already slumping over and slurring her words. Podrick, the driver who had been waiting outside for them, came inside to help Tyrion carry the woman to the car.

 

He himself was also stumbling a little bit, but he had only finished his second scotch.

 

The drive home was uneventful, Sansa didn’t pass out, but she was leaning very heavily on Tyrion. They talked about silly things, about his time trying to build some of the buildings around the town and how he started expanding into the larger cities.

 

Podrick helped carry Sansa upstairs while Tyrion trailed behind, it was awkward in the elevator, which made his head swim even worse and Sansa cling to poor Podrick for dear life.

 

Podrick sat her on the couch, as per her instructions and a nod from Tyrion, and with that swiftly left to get home.

 

They were alone, and Tyrion didn’t like the idea of them being alone—so he grabbed himself some more scotch so he wouldn’t be concerned about that fact anymore.

 

He didn’t know how it happened, or how much time passed, but very suddenly they were both laying on top of his bed, her heels kicked off and she was slipping out of her dress as she giggled over a story he was telling.

 

He took a calming breath from his laughter, looking back over to Sansa who was looking at him and crawling towards him in only her undergarments.

 

Tyrion sat up immediately, his eyes on her body before locking on her own. Confusion in his eyes before he could voice his concerns.

 

She leaned forward, kissing him and silencing any questions that could escape because she reasoned that she needed this.

 

Tyrion was caught by surprise but leaned into the kiss anyways, but it took a few moments for his sluggish mind to catch up to what was happening.

 

“Sansa,” he pushed her away, his own head swimming but he knew this was wrong. “What are you doing?”

 

“Something I’ve wanted to,” she languidly moved her shoulder to dip, where her bra strap fell and revealed more of herself to him. Tyrion looked up, his lips forming a thin line as he thought of something to say.

 

“You’re drunk,” he said pointedly.

 

“And if I am,” she leaned forward, capturing his earlobe between her teeth. Tyrion clenched his fists and moved his head away from hers. He took her shoulders in his hands instead and looked her in the eyes.

 

They were clouded, and they were storms.

 

“You don’t know what you’re doing,” he was quiet when he said this, Sansa blinked slowly and gave him a lopsided, reassuring smile.

 

“Sansa, you don’t want this.” Tyrion said again, pushing her farther away from him.

 

“Tyrion,” she tried again.

 

“If you still want to when you’re not drunk, then fine.” Tyrion said as he slid off his bed, looking back up at her as she sat, staring down at him and blinking slowly. “But, while you’re like this I- I can’t. You need to sleep.”

 

Tyrion padded over to his closet, grabbing a robe and some other clothes. He looked over to Sansa once more, before leaving his bedroom and closing the door behind him.

 

Sansa sluggishly crawled under the covers, rubbing her eyes were tears began to fall.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

 

Sandor was sitting at the kitchen table with a fresh cup of coffee when Brienne managed to get up and make her way downstairs. With squinted eyes of the early morning sun light she was immediately caught off guard when she entered the dining room and the blinds had been pulled over the windows, making the room and the kitchen considerably darker and easier to bear on her pounding head and tired eyes.

 

She straightened herself up, robe wrapped tighter around her frame as she crossed her arms over her chest, eyeing Sandor as he didn’t look nearly as bad as she did.

 

“You’re up early,” she offered, looking over to the coffee pot. Sandor snorted, taking a long drink from the coffee.

 

“I’m afraid you slept in.” He said instead, “but yes, I was also up early.” He got up and moved towards the fridge.

 

Brienne squinted at the bright light of the fridge as he opened the door. He looked at her, chuckling slightly as he brought out a square bottle of something or other and began pouring a glass. He held it out for her, Brienne looked curiously down at the drink offered, and the bottle.

 

“Pedialyte? You’re kidding.” She bit out, Sandor frowned and put the glass in her hands.

 

“It’s great for hangovers, which I’ll bet all the money in my wallet that you have.”

 

Brienne was silent as she took the offered drink, sipping on it as she eyed him cautiously.

 

“How did you figure this out?” Brienne asked, Sandor’s eyebrow raised in surprise.

 

“Lady, I drank twice as much as you and I’m not nearly as hung over as you are, you learn tricks over the years if you’ve been drinking as long as I have.”

 

Brienne frowned even more.

 

“Alcoholism isn’t attractive.” Her snide remark brushed off his shoulders.

 

“Never said it was.”

 

Brienne sighed, gritting her teeth as the pain behind her eyes continued. Sandor also sighed, moving around her and grabbing a small plate of eggs that had been sitting warm.

 

“Here, you need protein if you’re ever going to be a functioning human again today.”

 

Brienne stalled for a moment, looking up at him curiously as she took the plate carefully.

 

“Thank you, Sandor.” Brienne was quiet as she said this, Sandor nodded and sat back down where his coffee cup sat, and he finished it languidly.

 

They sat in silence as Brienne slowly ate the eggs offered, trying not to gag but Sandor knew he wasn’t the greatest cook in the world.

 

“Don’t worry about cooking tonight,” Sandor finally said after a moment. At Brienne’s stalled motions he continued: “I would like to take you out to dinner as a proper apology.”

 

She nodded slowly; not sure she knew who was sitting next to her anymore.

 

He didn’t say goodbye as he got ready for work, and she didn’t say it either when he left.

 


 

“Sansa, you must eat. You drank a lot last night.” Tyrion tried again from the other side of the door as he heard his poor companion spilling stomach acid at this point into the toilet bowl.

 

“No, I’m not putting anything else in my body.” Was her muffled and pained reply. Tyrion winced and sighed against the door as he heard the toilet flush and the sink run.

 

His heart thrummed all night from her advancements, but it also hurt because he knew that she was just acting out because she was lonely and he… he was there.

 

“Although,” he reasoned as he thought to himself, “it also means she trusts me enough to be intimate with me, I guess that means something. A testament to our friendship, perhaps?”

 

The shower turned on, and Tyrion immediately got up from the floor in front of the bathroom and walked towards the kitchen and living area. He sighed, rummaging through books on his bookshelf when there was a knock on his door.

 

When Tyrion opened the door, he was surprised to see Cersei standing there in all her smug glory.

 

Her eyebrows were finely arched, her lips twisted in that smug grin she always had, and the posture of her just being better than everyone else.

 

“Cersei.” Tyrion didn’t hide the disdain in his voice. “What do I owe this pleasure?”

 

“The party that the old hag Olenna is throwing in my honor,” Cersei started, marching in and giving a disdainful look around his apartment. “Everyone is invited and encouraged to come, that includes you, baby brother.” She turned to him then, her green eyes sparkling, and her blonde hair flipped over her shoulder.

 

“Bold of you to presume that a Fourth of July celebration is a party for your return.” At her frown and slight raised eyebrow, Tyrion coughed into his hand. “ah, I wish I could, but you see I’m busy-”

 

Cersei’s eyebrow arched farther as she didn’t hide that she was looking down at him, and for a moment Tyrion was almost impressed it could arch so high.

 

“-With work.” Tyrion finished off lamely.

 

“Odd, Jaime is also busy with work, but he’ll be there, I expected better of you Tyrion, especially since soon it seems like you will be serving a new mayor. This party is just as much to introduce a new candidate as it is a welcoming party-”

 

Tyrion interrupted her: “Fourth of July party for the town.”

 

Cersei’s eyebrow ticked as she struggled to smile tersely.

 

“And what better way to be patriotic than exercising our rights and take advantage of the opportunity to introduce a new candidate.”

 

“You’re going to be mayor?” He asked, not hiding his surprise in his voice or his expression.

 

Cersei’s smile grew cruel as she drummed her fingers on her arms as they crossed in front of her.

 

“Oh no, dear brother, not me. Joffrey.”

 

“Joffrey?” He whispered.

 

“Oh yes, seems like he’s staying. He’s interested in starting his political career here.” She paused for a moment, looking down at her brother distastefully.

 

“I think you’ll be able to find some time to come.” She sniffed, glancing around his apartment.

 

Tyrion didn’t say anything for a few more moments, and with that Cersei finally moved back to the door.

 

“I expect you and the Stark girl to be there, Tyrion.” Cersei said looking back at him from over her shoulder. “Less nothing happens to either one of your businesses.” She said with bared teeth, and with that the door closed with a slam-- and Cersei was gone.

 

Tyrion stepped away from the door and peered down the hall where he saw Sansa had been standing with her robe wrapped around her.

 

Her eyes were wide, and her hair was soaking wet and dripping down her back as she stared at Tyrion with anger and fear.

 

Tyrion felt the same way, he looked away when anger finally won over her features and she stormed into the room. Slamming the door.

 

Tyrion clenched and relaxed his fists, sighing ruefully and cursing his karma.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

 

Taking Brienne out to dinner was… odd, especially since the night before he had taken her to get drinks. They rode in silence, the radio playing some country song that Sandor hated but was too tired to deal with changing the radio station.

 

He didn’t want to ride in complete silence, and with the person singing about loving their farm equipment was better than the thoughts in his head. Instead, he thought about some farmer kissing their tractor, and the confusion that followed.

 

Brienne sat next to him, his hand on the gear shift of his truck as he tried not to brush her leg; she was wearing a nice dress, coral colored and bringing out the pink of her cheeks and the blue of her eyes.

 

She looked nice, he reasoned as he recounted his way to the restaurant she suggested.

 

It wasn’t crowded, but Sandor started realizing that you see the same 20 faces no matter where you go, and he was starting to get annoyed at this realization. Standing next to Brienne though dressed as nicely as she was and seeing that the restaurant was a bit more upper-class than he was expecting; Sandor realized he was under dressed in his ripped pants and dirty boots. At least his vest looked nice, he told himself as he puffed his chest up a bit more.

 

Dinner was quiet, as there wasn’t much to talk about. Instead, Sandor’s mind had wandered to whether he would see Sansa again tonight, or not.

 

The way she looked at him and Brienne last night at the bar made him mad, defensive, and worried. She caught his eye once, but not again last evening.

 

It had been two weeks since he met her, and it seemed like she consumed his every waking thought. He couldn’t even sketch quietly in the back room of the shop or in his borrowed room at Brienne’s without drawing her eyes that tattooed themselves into his mind.

 

He was consumed by thoughts of her, even now as there was a candle lit between him and Brienne all he could think of was the red of the flame and how it looked like her hair when illuminated by the sun.

 

He closed his eyes tightly, sighing at the way his life was seemingly going.

 

Dinner passed with little to no conversation between the two of them, not really.

 

Eventually though Brienne was able to get him to say more than one-word answers towards the end.

 

“How did you start tattooing?”

 

“I had the steadiest hand in my squad and could do a decent line.” He said, and Brienne relaxed in her chair gently sipping her wine. Sandor noticed that she did not order much and was still on her first glass.

 

“Did you draw before you joined the military?”

 

Sandor thought of his time in New Hampshire as a young teenager, the fights with his parents and finding solace in the trees and at a lake. He sketched the lake a lot, and what he saw in the depths of the waves that lapped the rocky shores.

 

“A bit,” he supplied. Frowning a bit more when he realized his table manners left a lot to be desired. “Yes, actually. Quite a bit when I was in high school. Back then I gave some kids illegal tattoos with ink and safety pins.” He chuckled, dabbing his napkin around his mouth.

 

Brienne set her utensils aside, giving him a soft smile. “Sandor, I feel like I need to be the one who apologizes to you for my behavior.”

 

At his questioning gaze she continued, but her eyes drifted around the room and onto the table as she spoke. “I have completely misjudged you since the first time I met you and Olenna dumped you on my doorstep, yes we don’t get along completely I still haven’t been fair to you. You’ve shown me that you’re not a bad guy.”

 

Sandor was silent, and Brienne couldn’t read his face. Instead, he got the check, paid in cash and tipped, and they left the restaurant.

 

The drive home was silent as the drive there had been, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. Brienne assumed that Sandor hadn’t been told a good thing about his character in years, and that it was taking him a moment to process.

 

Which isn’t fair from the truth, but Sandor thought of every despicable thing he’s done, and reasoned that Brienne didn’t know half of it so that was why she could make wild claims.

 

Again, though, they found each other on the doorstep of her home as she unlocked the door under the porch light, but this time Brienne wasn’t drunk, and Sandor hadn’t tripped as she waited a moment and looked up at him.

 

She squared her shoulders instead, lifted her chin, and looked him straight in the eyes.

 

“I would like for you to try to kiss me again, properly this time.”

 

Sandor waited a few moments, thinking it over before mentally shrugging and stepping closer to her.

 

He was far gentler this time as he slowly and gently placed his mouth over hers. The taste of alcohol this time wasn’t nearly as strong, and there wasn’t nearly as much passion driving it forward.

 

He stepped back from her after a moment; Brienne breathed deep and opened her eyes, but there wasn’t a fire burning behind them—not like he was expecting it anyways.

 

“Did you feel… anything?” Brienne asked lowly, Sandor slowly shook his head, hands stuffing themselves in his pockets. She chewed on her bottom lip as she looked away, slightly annoyed.

 

“Damn, me neither.” She opened the door to the home, and they entered. “Oh well, dinner was still lovely so thank you for that.” She kicked off her flats and grabbed them, heading towards the stairs.

 

“Goodnight, Sandor.” Brienne offered, looking at him briefly before moving up the stairs fully. After a moment he heard her bedroom door shut, and he also went upstairs, glancing at the room Sansa had occupied before silently moving into his room, latching the door behind him.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

 

Friday was here and Sansa’s heart was thundering in her chest as soon as she woke up, and after she looked at the time on her phone she briefly wondered if 8 a.m. was too early for an alcoholic drink.

 

She sighed, and decided that 8 was too early, but 10 was more socially acceptable. Sansa laid in bed, covering her eyes from the brightness of the sun as it bounced off the white walls of her borrowed room.

 

“Well, it is a party.” Sansa grumbled, trying not to think about the fact that Joffrey will be in attendance and instead think of something she used to care more about- pretty dresses. She briefly thought of the few dresses she had in her bag and realized that none of them were suitable for a party. They were all her regular sundresses that she had for everyday wear.

 

Sansa sighed, realizing she would have to find a suitable dress, or at least she felt like she had to find a suitable dress for the event.

 

When she managed to get up properly, she found Tyrion sitting in his living area at the desk that was in front of one of the windows as he looked over documents. Sansa awkwardly stood behind him for a moment before she gently touched his shoulder.

 

“Tyrion?” her voice was soft; he didn’t jump at her touch even when she expected him to.

 

“Yes?” his voice was level, but she knew him well enough to know that he was stressed and trying to remain calm.

 

“I would like to go to the thrift store this morning,” Sansa said quietly, but Tyrion didn’t react to her words. Sansa approached him fully in the lack of a response, and carefully moved, slowly hugging the tension from his shoulders.

 

“What’s wrong?” She asked him softly, wishing him to forgive her and wanting her to forgive herself.

 

Tyrion frowned, eyeing the streaks of red bars across his screen and a lengthy string of words in an email in the upper corner.

 

“Apparently Cersei somehow managed to get my fellow proprietors to bar me against my own company. If I don’t appease her, I’ll lose my construction business.”

 

Sansa frowned, not quite sure she understood- but then again, she inherited her business and didn’t have any other shareholders aside from herself, she didn’t have to worry about someone taking the business out from underneath her like that.

 

“Tyrion, I- I’m sorry.” She didn’t know what else to say, suddenly her request for going shopping felt inappropriate.

He sighed, slowly closing one of his hands on-top of hers. It felt rough but familiar, but all too small.

 

“Come on, I’ll call Podrick and he’ll take you wherever it was that you wanted to go shopping.” He patted her hand gently, moving out of her embrace to pick up his cell phone.

 

“You won’t come?” She asked, but she knew.

 

“No,” he tried not to sound so defeated, but even though they both knew Cersei held power—they hadn’t realized how much power she controlled. “There’s some phone calls I need to make.”

 

Sansa let go of him slowly, giving a soft, short nod as she slowly made her way to the kitchen. She glanced over her shoulder at him working and reached for the bottle of champagne he had.

 

“Sansa.” Tyrion gave her a stern look. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Sansa frowned at him, grabbing a glass for water instead.

 

“Fine.”

 


 

“Tarly’s Collectibles” Was the sign that hung over the slightly dilapidated building that could use a fresh coat of paint. Podrick sat with Sansa out in the parking lot as she looked up at the building with a bit of trepidation.

 

“Umm… Miss Sansa?” Podrick leaned over as he stood next to her against the vehicle. “Are we going to go in?”

 

Sansa squared her shoulders, lifting her chin up as she gave Podrick a purposeful nod.

 

He followed at a slower pace as she stalked forward, her flats crunching the gravel of the parking lot as her sundress of the day swished against her knees. Podrick sighed, wondering if the pay was worth the mundane things he’s been asked to do recently.

 

Sure, most of the time it’s a pretty easy gig with a lot of downtime, but the issue was that there was a lot of downtime since he drove Tyrion everywhere.

 

Sure, sometimes they got to go to the big city a couple hours out of town, and sure they got to spend the night there sometimes—but it wasn’t productive.

 

Podrick was taken out of his musings as he stepped through the threshold of the building and heard Sansa’s voice talking to a woman behind the cash register farther in the building.

 

Podrick looked around, finding slight amazement as he saw model airplanes hanging from the ceiling along with old bicycles, and small red wagons.

 

He wandered the store, curious about how most of these interesting (or useless) items found their way here.

 


 

 

When Sansa stepped through the building, she wasn’t aware that time didn’t pass through here, so seeing the store nearly the exact same way as it was when she was a teenager was… Surprising. Painfully so.

 

The woman behind the glass counter that held the cash register said a low “Good morning,” eyes half drooping as she was seemingly nodding off as she drank her coffee.

 

“Gilly,” Sansa said in slight surprise. Gilly, hearing her name (and a familiar voice) lifted her head in surprise. Her eyes widened when she saw Sansa standing there in the front door of the store.

 

“Sansa!” Gilly all but yelled in excitement, nearly throwing herself off the stool she sat on to come hug the younger woman.

 

Sansa was wrapped up in a hug, only half-heartedly sharing in the other woman’s excitement.

 

“It’s nice to see you,” Sansa said awkwardly, patting her back. Gilly pulled away, her brown eyes shining. It seemed that motherhood hadn’t been very kind to her, seeing as she had a toddler and an 8-month-old it was no surprise that the bags on her eyes had bags of their own.

 

“Gilly, I’m saying this out of love, but you look awful.” Sansa held the woman out at arm’s length, she blinked before laughing—her laugh was kind and warm, with a little snort at the end. It made Sansa smile seeing her smile, Gilly had always been happy, especially after she met Sam.

 

“Come, come! You have to see the baby.” Gilly pulled Sansa back towards the glass counter, Gilly sat back behind the counter and Sansa peered over, standing on her tip toes to get a better view of the little baby in his rocker. He blubbered on his toy, smiling as his mom came back in eyesight but otherwise, he didn’t pay any mind to Sansa.

 

Podrick came in then, but Sansa didn’t pay him any attention.

 

“Oh, my word, Little John.” Sansa crooned, glancing a bit farther over at how Little Sam was laid down on a makeshift blanket bed behind the counter, butt in the air and face in the pillows as he continued to sleep.

 

“Gilly, it’s nearly 10. What is he still doing asleep?” Sansa asked her, Gilly looked over at her oldest, and then her youngest, and then at Sansa.

 

“We’ve all been up since 4 something this morning, Sans. Just let the little one sleep. He might actually be tired tonight for bed.”

 

Sansa wanted to ask but decided not to.

 

“You should really get a night out or something.” Sansa said quietly. Gilly perked up then, all smiles.

 

“We are! We’re closing shop early tonight and dropping the babies off at their uncle’s so Sam and I can go to that soiree that Ms. Tyrell is throwing for the town for the Fourth! Ain’t that thoughtful of her?”

 

Sansa sighed, suddenly reminded as to why she was here. “Are you going?”

 

“Unfortunately.” Sansa offered rather dryly, looking at the family pictures that littered the wall and the “genuine” sword that had been passed down by the Tarly family for generations that was on a plaque higher up on the wall and above the door that lead into the back room.

 

“I’m actually here to see if there’s a dress that I could modify over the course of today and make into something…” She gestured to her sundress. “Not this.”

 

Gilly rubbed her chin, looking up and scanning the maze of antiques that lined the store that was as nearly as big as a warehouse. She snapped her fingers together and swiveled around on the stool.

 

“Samwell Tarly get out here,” She called over her shoulder, glancing at Sam Jr. who mumbled something through his smushed mouth but didn’t wake up.

 

Sam toddled out, little spectacles sitting on his nose as he rummaged through documents in his hands, Sansa pretended not to notice the red streak marks that bled through the pages.

 

Sam looked up and had a similar expression to what Gilly did when seeing Sansa; surprise.

 

“Little Sansa, here you are!” He smiled largely; his cheeks still rounded but red (probably from the heat). “Look Johnny, your auntie is here to say hewwo.” Sam cooed to his child, the baby giggled, throwing his little arms in the air and babbling. He threw his toy he had been playing with in his excitement, and it fell flat on the concrete floor in front of them.

 

Sansa stared at Sam, curiously at first before holding her hands up when he started to come around the side to hug her.

 

“Hey now, no, do not hug me if you’re going to talk like that.” Sansa said sternly, but Sam kept coming, smiling broadly and his eyes twinkled from underneath his glasses.

 

“Twak like what, Auntie?” He said once more, wrapping his arms around her smaller frame and picking her up in his embrace, smushing his cheek against the top of her head.

 

Sansa gave Gilly a slightly pleading look, but at Gilly’s smile Sansa turned into a deadpanned kind of frown.

 

She should’ve expected this, honestly.