Loqui chapter!

"Are you seriously—?"

"Shit. I didn't think you were awake."

"I am now."




"That doesn't answer my question."

"Aye, it doesn't."

"I think I have a right to know."

"Do you now?"

"It's my body. And you promised you wouldn't hurt me."

"I don't see how this counts."

"Well your fingers are so large…"



"Seven bloody hells woman! Fine! Fucking fine! It's exactly what you think, and if you ever tell anyone, I'll… uh… I'll snap your pretty little neck. Or something. Fuck it."

"… You don't have to stop."

And thus was the infamous Lannister Hound caught playing with one Sansa Stark's hair.

It had started innocently enough. He had rejoined the world of consciousness first, with a large clump of her fiery mane tickling his nose. In brushing it out of his way, he had marveled at how soft it felt. His curiosity demanded that he make sure it wasn't a mistaken sensation created by a drowsy mind.

Sandor had run the fingers of his free hand through her tresses, satisfying his curiosity, but at the same time creating another problem: his fingers had become snagged in a tangle.

He had tried to withdraw, and only succeeded in ensnaring himself even further. Sansa mewled in her sleep out of what sounded to be protest.

Sandor had cursed under his breath. He would have to proceed with the utmost caution to avoid waking her. With the assistance of the hand he had pillowed beneath his head, Sandor picked through the snarl as gently as he could.

After freeing himself, he could not resist the urge to run his fingers through her newly combed locks. That led to another tangle, and another stroke, and on and on, until before he knew, she had woken up and caught him knuckle-deep in her mane.

Sansa cuddled closer into the curve of his body with a contented sigh. She took his free arm and pulled it over her waist. "I was serious, you know," she said with a mischievous pout.


"Don't stop."

The Hound continued to pet her hair. She, in turn, drew lazy patterns along his forearm, humming softly all the while.

"They'll be here soon," he said after a time.

Sansa stiffened. "What will we do? Sarankar didn't believe me, and I don't… I'm not…"

The Hound stopped his ministrations. He grasped Sansa by her shoulder and rolled her over to face him. "You listen to me," he growled. "Not a single one of these whoresons is going to force you to do anything or they'll have to answer to me."

She flushed. "But the prophecy—"

"Bugger the prophecy," he spat. "And bugger their gods. It's your life. You make whatever decisions you want, and I'll fuck up anyone that stands in your way."

"And if the person that happens to be in my way is you?" she challenged.

"Then bugger me too."

Her brow furrowed. "But still… everything that they said so far has come to pass."

"Exactly. We don't know what they've left out or what they've changed to suit their needs."

"What Sarankar said about the blood worries me. I don't want to fight you and I'm not ready for… that sort of thing."

He snorted. "More than one way to bleed a woman."

"I don't follow."

"Next time your moon times come, we could just put you up in a tree with no smallclothes—"

Sansa wrinkled her nose and swatted his chest. "You're so crude!"

"And you're still here," he smirked.

She closed the gap between them and pressed a firm kiss to his unprepared lips. He gaped at her when she pulled away. Sansa gave him a smirk of her own. "At least now I know one way to muzzle you."

"Then you'd better keep doing it before I start howling."

"Ki a koe te tau—" came the melody of a rich male voice just down the hall. "Ahakoa haere koe ki hea—"

Sandor lifted his head from the crook of Sansa's neck, drawing a disgruntled mewl from her drowsy throat.

They had drifted back into a shallow doze in spite of the imminent threat of being disturbed. He couldn't have resisted if he wanted to; she was just too damn comfortable.

The Hound sat up and grasped the hilt of the dirk stuffed between the frame of the bed and the mattress. Sansa glanced up at him, a questioning glint in her eye. He looked towards the doorway leading to the solar. Footsteps paused outside the room, along with the singing. The curtains that shielded his quarters from the hall rustled as they parted.

"Ho, Westerosi, I brought you a spear, but you can use mine if you liked it that much," A familiar voice chimed from the solar. "The Lady Flame's not in her rooms."

Sandor loosened his grip on the dirk. It was only Mahinja Do.

"I'm here, ser," Sansa replied, swiping away the sleep from her eyes.

"A shame, truly. It would have made a beautiful song," Mahinja brushed past the ropes of cockle shells hanging in the door frame to grin at them. "The Lord Dog and his Noble Warrior, rowing off with spears in hand to rescue the hot Lady of the Winterlands from the hands of dread Guaba!"

He sighed with a dramatic flair, ostensibly undisturbed by Sansa's ruffled appearance.

"What do you want?" Sandor growled.

Given the revelations from the night before, he would have preferred to stay in bed the whole day with his little bird, and to the seven hells with everything else. Life had other plans for them, apparently.

The man smirked. "What I want is to show my dear Westerosi friends how to dance. What I must do is find a jaguar for my nephew. I had hoped you might join me after breaking your fast."

"And if I don't want to?"

"Sandor, please," Sansa pleaded. "For me."

He snorted to hide a flash of panic. Did she want to get rid of him so easily? "I don't see why I should."

"Prince Kiza was… was killed because of me. I won't be able to do it— because of my arm, but you can," Sansa flushed.

His heart swelled with pride, knowing that she had remembered to keep up the pretense of injury. "I'm not leaving you unguarded. What if those bastards come back?"

"Not gonna happen today," Mahinja interjected. "The tides are too harsh from the storm."

"Please Sandor?" Sansa's eyes were gleaming with all the sweet sincerity in the world.

Damn it, he couldn't deny her anything when she looked at him like that! "All right, all right," he finally grunted. "But I want you to keep close to Stranger just in case."

Uncaring of the presence of their obnoxious companion, Sansa planted a brief, fierce kiss on his lips.

"Hoi, Lady Flame, don't eat my friend before he has hunted with me," Mahinja grinned.

The man set aside his spears and ducked out of the chambers to shout down the hall. He returned with a platter of food and an earthenware pitcher filled to the brim with an orange nectar. Delicately fluted cornucopias of ham, speared with sugarcane skewers, lined the outer rim of the platter. A wealth of scrambled eggs, sliced pineapple, and bits of red and green peppers spilled from their mouths. Behind that, a moat of fried potatoes, cubed and heavily spiced with turmeric and sea salt, surrounded a halved cantaloupe filled with wedges of fresh fruits and spirals of sliced ginger.

Mahinja set the platter on Sandor's lap and left to retrieve three clay goblets. He poured each of them a full cup of nectar, then clapped his hands. "We give thanks to you, Atabe, Lady of Land, Giver of Life, until the day you take back our souls for your lust and fulfillment.

"Come, my friends, eat," he gestured at the platter.

Sansa was staring at him, wide-eyed with disbelief. "Beg your pardon, did you say 'take our souls back'?"

Mahinja nodded as he chewed on a handful of the steaming potatoes. "The Goddess is given the souls of the dead for her amusement. It pleases her to watch our spirits dance and play—"

That bawdy son of a whore.

"— so she takes the living as she pleases, and gives back the souls she has grown tired of."

"How odd," Sansa swallowed down her bits of fruit. "The Faith of the Seven teaches that you go to either the seven heavens or the seven hells, if you are virtuous or wicked."

"And you never come back?" Mahinja laughed. "Here, even if you are a mean old shark, the goddess gives you a second chance. She has to make up for burning us all so bad, ha! Eat, eat, before it gets cold. I am thinking you Winterlanders stay so pale because they don't feed you well."

"Ah, ser, if you could but spend one night feasting in Winterfell!" Sansa chirped.

They two waxed poetic on their favored dishes between bites, each description more grandiose than the last. He could have sworn he espied the genteel Lady Sansa salivating as she spun a decadent lemon cake from the air with her words.

Sandor swallowed down an overlarge bolus of potatoes, struggling not to visibly choke on the rich spices. "I don't want that damn sister of yours bothering her."

"Not to worry," Mahinja replied with deceptive placidity. "She will be occupied with preparing our nephew."

"I'm so sorry for your loss, ser," Sansa reached out to hold one of Mahinja Do's hands with her two.

He patted the back of her hand and smiled sadly. "Kiza is with the Gods now. I rejoice to have had time with him. But enough sadness!"

The man leapt off the bed. "Let us be off, Westerosi. The jaguars will not wait for us long."

Sandor moved the decimated platter to the bedside table, and grabbed for his bloody tunic from the night before. Mahinja clucked his tongue. "They'll smell you too easy with that blood, my friend."

He sneered in return. "I'm not going to go hunt a bloody cat with no protection."

"We must have you fitted when we get back, then. Here."

Mahinja rifled through a wicker chest at the foot of the bed, and threw him an Essosi-style linen shirt and a leather jerkin. "You'll have to let out those laces, I think," Sansa chirped as she inspected the jerkin.

"Probably right," Sandor grunted as he pulled the shirt on.

Both Mahinja and Sansa were staring at him as his head breached the collar. "What?"

Sansa flushed bright red. "N-nothing."

"Nothing at all," Mahinja grinned. "Just enjoying the view."

The Hound scowled and snatched the jerkin from Sansa's lap. "Whole damn island's gone insane," he muttered under his breath as he loosened the leather cords running up the sides.

He slipped the jerkin on over the shirt and retied the laces. "All right, let's go," Sandor growled.


He turned on his heel. Sansa leapt onto him, circling her arms around his neck and pressing her lips to his. Her tongue thrust into his mouth and danced with his for too brief a time before she pulled away. "Stay safe," she whispered against his mouth.

"As my lady commands."

A haze of rainfall had settled over the island. The already-moist earth swelled and became muddy with the excess water. In place of the birdsong that normally dominated the canopy of the jungle, diverse choruses of frogs and toads croaked out their own melodies from the foliage-dense ground.

They had been trekking through the underbrush for nigh three hours, if his time was correct. Much to his chagrin, he couldn't tell the precise hour, so thick was the cloud cover. Mahinja led the way, as he was more familiar with the terrain. His dark feet tread through the mud and roots as sure as a mountain goat would traipse about the Vale.

They were having a difficult time, as the rain had all but washed away any tracks there may have been. Sandor had discovered a pile of scat that Mahinja had confirmed as being feline in origin, but that had been a good forty-five minutes ago.

He growled under his breath. Silly little bird, falling for Mahinja's pathetic excuses. They could have stayed inside, warm and dry, and spent the entire day exploring each other. Instead, she had to convince him to venture out into the weather on her behalf and spend far more time than he was willing to invest with this over-friendly ass.

"Ho, Westerosi!"

Sandor was beginning to miss being called the Hound.

"What?" he hissed.

"We'll stop at this bromeliad here," the other man pointed at a massive, broad-leafed plant with his spear.

They huddled under the plant's cover. The Hound was surprised to find the earth beneath them to be relatively dry. "Doesn't seem like a good idea to keep the rain so far from its base," he grunted as he tapped on the plant's substantial stem.

"The roots spread wide," Mahinja replied absentmindedly, tossing him a woven grass pouch.

Sandor pulled out a hank of dried fish. He sniffed it before digging in. Some kind of bass, if he wasn't mistaken, though he rarely had an occasion to eat fish under Joffrey's employ.

Mahinja grabbed a filet and stuffed it into his mouth. The man chewed noisily as he rolled a large clump of some plant material in a banana leaf. A downward breeze brought a whiff of what Mahinja was working with. The Hound coughed. "Seven hells, what is that?! Smells like a damn skunk rubbed its ass on a pine tree!"

Mahinja chuckled. "Are 'skunks' made of ganjahar in Westeros?"


"Ganjahar. The pride of the Summer Isles!"

"Smells like it's gone rancid."

"Hoi, and were you the boy of prophecy who took his first cup of wine and declared it a fine drink?" He smirked. "It is not so. Surely the Lord Dog knows that the best things in life never taste the best at first. Wine, women, seed… Such with ganjajar."

He pulled out chunks of iron pyrite and flint, and a small cord of coconut coir. "Hold this," Mahinja tried to hand him the cord.

There was no way Sandor was going to allow the other man to spray sparks at him. He grabbed the flint instead— to which Mahinja shrugged— and lit the end of the coir with flames. Mahinja pressed the cord to the end of the leaf, took a few testing puffs, and then a long drag. Plumes of thick smoke spewed out of the man's flared nostrils. "Ahh, this is a good leaf," the man said, his face split in an exceedingly pleased smile. "Ganjahar calms the nerves, makes it easier to see things you would have never seen otherwise. Good for hunting. Try it."

He offered the rolled leaf to Sandor, who pinched the end gingerly. "Deep breath," Mahinja instructed.

The Hound brought the ganjahar to his lips and inhaled. Hot smoke flooded his throat and set him to choking. "Seven— fucking hells!" Sandor cursed between hacks. "This is— horseshit—"

"Slower, my friend. Like fine wine," Mahinja demonstrated with a long, languid pull. "Give it time to breathe."

"I'll have your damn head before this is through," he snarled as he retook the proffered leaf.

Let it not be said that the mighty Hound was conquered by a measly vegetable. This time, he took the warrior's advice. The smoke had time to cool before hitting his lungs, and, oddly, became sweeter the longer he held it in his chest. He exhaled, a fog of ganjahar clouding his vision for a breath before dissipating in the humid jungle air. Mahinja urged him to take another hit, and he obliged the man, drawing the smoldering leaf into his chest deeper and deeper.

He handed the ganjahar leaf back to Mahinja and leaned back against the stem of the bromeliad. The world was beginning to blur around him— no, that wasn't quite right. It was more like his whole brain had been transformed to a mist in his skull. He turned his head out towards the rain and his eye took a few seconds to register that they had been moved. "Ho-ly shit," he muttered. "My damn head's floating…"

Mahinja started laughing, the familiar sound taking on a queer, melodic quality he hhad never noticed as it reverberated through the air. "We call that 'high' Westerosi—"

The more Mahinja talked, the more nuanced the melody of his voice. Sandor was fascinated.

"— Yukahu crafted ganjahar to bring us closer to the gods."

"Hey Mahinja."




"… Give me another hit of that thing."

They passed the leaf back and forth, swapping stories from campaigns they had been in. Through the haze of ganjahar, Sandor felt a new appreciation for the other man, perhaps even a sense of camaraderie. They had both served under incompetent commanders before, both experienced the urge to fuck after a battle. Mahinja had pointed out a jagged scar on his bicep from a hired Norvoshi's axe; Sandor had revealed a similar scar on his own arm, though the axe in question had come from a Dornishman.

As the leaf grew smaller and smaller, a peaceable feeling of relaxation had settled over him. Mahinja sprawled out on the earth beside him and gave a sigh of contentment. "You are a lucky man, to wake up beside the Lady Flame."

"It would have been impossible where we are from. She was the Moon Maid, and I am the scum of the earth," he said, the smoke robbing his voice of its usual resentment.

"But that doesn't matter," Mahinja Do replied with his eyes closed. "Your winter gods have no power on these isles. Your lions and stags have no men to separate you here."

He snorted. "And you think your people will let her be with me, with a face like this?"

"Our people love you both and want your happiness."

He would have stood up and kicked the other man for his audacity, but the violence just seemed to float away, like piss in a stream. Sandor laughed at the thought. If anger came out as piss, the Clegane men would have stunk to the Seven Heavens. "Your people love Sansa, not me."

"Not so, Westerosi. I know you have enjoyed the affections of Sokuro To at least once, and she does not give to a man she does not want."


"Beautiful, brazen woman? Wide hips and a talent for sucking cock?"

"Oh. That one."

"Don't sound so forlorn, Westerosi! She is a wonderful lover. I know for a fact that there are quite a few of my warriors that would have killed to be in her sandals. Or the Lady Flame's for that matter."

A worm of panic started to flex in his chest. "What?"

Mahinja shook his head. "The Lord Dog must be blind to not notice all the looks."

"What?" The worm wriggled faster.

"We are not a prudish people, Lord Dog. We love to take pleasure and we love to give it. What is between your legs doesn't matter. A man's mouth feels just as good as a woman's. Sometimes better.

"Shall I show you?" Mahinja placed a hand on his arm.

That was too much.

Sandor stood abruptly and stumbled, his head swimming from the ganjahar. He had to get away. Now.

The Hound grabbed his spear and started darting through the brush.

"Ho, Westerosi!" Mahinja cried.

"Leave me the fuck alone!" He shouted back.

They were getting off this godforsaken island if he had to swim back to Dorne.

Sandor stumbled back into the village port after an hour and a half of walking, his haste driven by the horror of what had just occurred. Men were not supposed to fuck other men, it just… wasn't right! Never mind that some of the most amoral, sadistic bastards he had the displeasure of knowing weren't interested in men. Never mind that Renly Baratheon had been a well-respected lord regardless of his sexual inclinations. Never mind that Sandor enjoyed having his…

Seven fucking hells.

Drenched in mud and rainwater, the Hound lurched into a tavern that had been constructed to imitate those seen in Essos (obviously for the comfort of the traders). It was there that he found a Penthoshi ship captain with dyed green hair that was willing to brave the storm. "How much for passage for two to Lys?" He growled in the Common Tongue.

The captain looked at his ruffled appearance with a critical eye. "More than you can afford. I have heard there were people from the Seven Kingdoms here. I have also heard that the king is not keen on letting you leave."

He eyed the man's clothing. There were destriers embroidered on his vest, and a silver stallion ring on one of his fingers. Sandor swallowed.

He had never had anything to his name besides his steel and his horse. Even with the loss of his armor and sword, he had not felt entirely defenseless because of Stranger's presence. The warhorse was a demon in battle, a staunch protector outside of it, and beyond all of that, Stranger was one of the few things in this life he actually cared about.

But he cared for Sansa more. As much as he was attached to Stranger, he could find another mount; Sansa was irreplaceable.

Sandor's heart twisted. "You like horses."

"I do."

"You've seen the courser then."

"I have."

"Then I have a proposal for you."

Sandor left with passage to Lys. They would set sail at dawn the next day, in the hopes that the rain would let up. In return, he would leave Stranger in the captain's care.

The Hound began the long walk to the central pyramid with a heavy heart, and thought of a way to tell Sansa.

Sorry this took so long, folks. Life is an absolute bitch, but what can you do?

The song Mahinja Do sings is from "E Ipo" written by Ngoi Pewhairangi.