The Cottage - by Houndling #1 (guest author)

They led her into the cottage, the Elder Brother helping her to the soft pallet covered with furs and blankets. A fire burned, and cheese, bread and a flagon of cider sat on a low table.
“Thank you” she said, remembering her courtesies but her voice so low she did not know if they heard her.
“Lady…Alayne,” the Elder Brother paused “you have traveled far on dangerous roads. Whatever you run from will not find you here. Rest and we will speak tomorrow.”
They filed out, and she lay back, staring into the flames. She prayed, for sleep, for courage, and for something she knew could not be true.
A noise outside made her leap up. She couldn’t be sure how long she slept, but the fire was dull and darkness crowded in. She pulled the furs to her chest, scrambling into the shadows as the sound came again.
Someone, or something was outside.
Her breath caught in her throat as a huge darkness entered the cottage, bending to fit through the low door and slowly moving into the room.

“Stop!” she cried, her voice breaking. “Go away, please, or I’ll scream!”
The big man, it was a man, she was sure, and one of the brothers if his garb was true, turned towards her, his face hidden beneath his hood.
“Please, leave me, I’ll scream I swear…” she begged, her legs turning to jelly.
The man raised his hands and pulled back his hood.
“Scream?” he rasped, his voice like flint on stone even though he whispered “you should sing instead, little bird.”
Her heart stopped. It was if everything faded to black. Everything but him.
“You…” she whispered “they said… they said you were…”
“Dead?” he looked into her eyes.
Silence followed, and gingerly she took a step toward him, then another. She stared at his face, the burns, his twitching lips, his eyes. His brooding eyes always so full of anger.
He reached for her, his large hands circling her wrists so suddenly she cried out. He pulled her to him.
“I should have took you with me!” he raged. “The Imp! They married you
to the bloody Imp!” he shoved her back suddenly, but kept his grip on her arms.
“Did he… did he touch you?” He spat the words out with such anger she felt the fury on her cheeks.
“No!” she gasped “We never… he never.”
He looked so angry she whimpered in fear, but suddenly he released her and turned away. She rubbed her wrists and as he turned back.
“I should never have left you.” he whispered, and sat heavily on one of the chairs.
She stood before him, unsure what to do, but then her mouth opened.
“Your cloak!” she blurted out “You left it, the night of the fire. When… when I sang for you.”
He gazed at her, his eyes full of sorrow.
“I hid it in my chest, and sometimes, when I was alone” she lowered her face “I would wrap it around me, and pretend I was with you.”
His lips parted, and he seemed happy and sad all at once, but he shook his head and murmured “I should never have left you.”
She moved forward until she was right in front of him. he looked up, so miserable she felt her heart break.
“We’re here now” she said softly, her heart racing as she reached up to touch his face. He watched her hand as it came towards him, but pulled away.
“No” she said, and he looked back to her.
They stared into each others eyes as her fingers brushed his hair from his face and slowly rested on his scarred cheek.
“Sansa” his voice broke and a tear ran down over his burnt flesh.
She bent toward him, and slowly, gently, kissed him.


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