Game of Thrones: Why the Hound Thinks of Sansa as His "Little Bird"

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Game of Thrones season eight is serving up one epic character reunion after another, but Sansa and the Hound's may be the best one yet. The two characters have both been in Winterfell since the season began, but they don't have a proper conversation until "The Last of the Starks." Sansa sits down with the Hound after she sees him rebuke the advances of a Northern girl, and he quickly notes that she doesn't have any trouble looking him in the eyes these days. He then calls her "little bird" and proceeds to tell her that she wouldn't have had to endure Littlefinger or Ramsay if only she had allowed him to take her from King's Landing when he fled during the Battle of Blackwater. However, the Lady of Winterfell is certain that if she hadn't gone through so much hell, she would have stayed a little bird all her life.

The scene is short, but full of meaning and the weight of the history between these two characters. The only problem is their last scene together occurred so long ago, there's a chance you may have been fuzzy on what exactly the connection between them is.

Sansa and the Hound's last scene together occurs way back in season two. At the time, the youngest Clegane brother is still serving as Joffrey's bodyguard. While he's known for being ruthless, the Hound has a soft spot for Sansa that makes him act as her protector whenever he can. After Ned Stark's beheading, he's the one to stop Sansa from pushing Joffrey off the tower bridge when he forces her to look at her father's head. He's also the one who saves her from an angry mob in King's Landing. There's no doubt that she brings out the good in him, but her world is so lonely and terrifying in season two that she's not ready to see this vulgar man with the damaged face as someone who can save her.

That doesn't stop the Hound from trying, though. When the wildfire spreads during the Battle of Blackwater, his fear drives him to flee King's Landing, but he goes looking for Sansa first. He tells her that if she comes with him, he'll go North and take her home to Winterfell, but she prefers to take her chances with Stannis if he wins the war (which he doesn't). Before he leaves, the Hound tells Sansa, who can't quite meet his gaze, "The world is full of killers and you better get used to looking at them."

Six seasons later, Sansa not only meets and holds the Hound's gaze, she also places her hand on his. This Sansa is older and wiser. She's not a frightened little bird who dreams of a brave knight to come and rescue her. She's now a cunning leader who knows that good people can look like the Hound and evil people can come wrapped in pretty packages. The Hound may wonder what might have been if only she'd gone with him in season two, but Sansa knows she's traveled a darker path for a reason. She's internalized every lesson she's learned along the way, including the one that Joffrey's former bodyguard taught her, and that's why she's able to sit across from the Hound and know that there's a good heart beneath that gruff exterior.