Chapter 1: Aegon VI x Rhaenys
Aegon was waiting for her with a winter coat and a cup of iced coffee.
“Iced?” she asked as she approached.
“I didn’t think it would stay warm,” he shrugged. He dropped the coat to the ground and threw his arms around her. He smelled like maple smoke and cinnamon and nights spent curled up in their mother’s empty closet together. “I missed you.”
She pecked a kiss to his lips. She wondered if he’d still want to kiss her. Surely he would have come round by now, surely he would have come to realize something was strange, wrong even, about kissing your sister like this. But he didn’t. He wrapped his arms around her tightly, his tongue pushing between her lips and she let go of the handle of her suitcase to run her fingers through his hair.
It was a good thing they didn’t look alike, she thought mildly as his teeth closed lightly around her lower lip before his tongue dipped into her mouth again. A good thing that we look nothing alike, that we could just be long separated lovers. As if a long separated lover could mean half so much to her as Aegon.
“I missed you,” he whispered again, resting his forehead to hers.
“I missed you,” she echoed, a hand drifting up to his cheek.
“Don’t go back to college,” he teased.
She only smiled, wishing she could promise not to. Instead, she reached for the iced coffee. He took her hand in his, her suitcase in the other, and led her out to the car where their father was waiting.
Renly Baratheon: Just found the wifey boning Robb Stark
Loras Tyrell: You’re kidding.
Renly Baratheon: Yep.
Loras Tyrell: She wouldn’t do that. She’s not…well…She might, actually
Renly Baratheon: Do you think she knows?
Loras Tyrell: Knows about what?
Renly Baratheon: About us, dipshit
Loras Tyrell: I was just wondering that.
Renly Baratheon: You’re useless, you know. Only muscle between your ears.
Loras Tyrell: It’s not like you’re that much better, you know.
Renly Baratheon: Yeah, well, you like it.
Loras Tyrell: Oh shut up.
Loras Tyrell: What are you going to do?
Loras Tyrell: About Margaery?
Renly Baratheon: Well, I figure if she wants sex, she might as well have it with someone who wants to give it to her. I mean…
Loras Tyrell: So you’re just going to leave them?
Renly Baratheon: Well, it would be rude to interrupt.
Loras Tyrell: You’re unbelievable.
Renly Baratheon: How do you propose I handle it? Hm?
Loras Tyrell: Come over here. I can show you.
Renly Baratheon: You just want to suck my cock.
Loras Tyrell: You just learned your wife was having an affair with a younger man. I figured I’d offer you some support.
Renly Baratheon: So that’s what the kids are calling it these days.
Loras Tyrell: What do you think Robb called it?
Renly Baratheon: Fair point. Be there in ten.
Chapter 3: Sansa
She will not cry—not over him, not over anyone. She’s a Stark, and Starks do not cry over the little things. That’s what Robb always said anyway. And besides, it is so cold outside that the little hairs in her nostrils are already stiff and her tears would only freeze on her cheeks, in her eyelashes. The snow crunches underneath her feet, and Sansa shudders as she walks, her mittened hands jammed into her pockets, shoulders hunched against the wind. How cold it is, how dark.
It would be less cold if he wanted me. I’d hardly feel it at all. I’d be soaring if he and her eyes begin to well up again and she bites her lips to keep the tears where they are and walks faster, and faster, and faster until she’s almost running, because nothing can make her move fast enough away from him, and that place, and the “We can’t, Sansa. We just can’t.”
She’s definitely running now, and the crunches of the snow provide percussion to her breathing, hot and dry and ripping out of her as she moves too fast to be altogether too sure of foot. Her ankle twists out under her and she lands hard on the ground. A shock runs through her tailbone up her spine, and her butt is freezing cold, but when she tries to get up again, she can’t, and falls back down. The tears burst forth then, salty on her face, streaming over skin so dry that it soaks up the salty wet instantly.
Starks don’t cry over the small stuff—that’s what Robb always said. Well, maybe she wasn’t a Stark, or maybe this wasn’t small, but oh, oh, oh, how it hurts not to be wanted.
Lyanna does her best not to compare their breasts. Cersei’s are are almost impossibly perfect, round and soft, while Elia’s are small, barely protruding from her chest. Both are fitting, and yet…she can’t decide which she prefers.
Chapter 5: Six Sentence Fic
From a tumblr meme: Give me a ship and I'll reply with a six-word story about them.
A Song of Ice and Fire
Jaime Lannister/Cersei Lannister: It is agony—ripping yourself apart.
Sansa Stark/Tyrion Lannister: She’d kill him with her kindness.
Littlefinger/Lysa Arryn: It had only ever been him.
Jon Snow/Val: She reminded him of a shadowcat.
Stannis Baratheon/Asha Greyjoy: He’s made of Iron—like home.
Stannis Baratheon/Melisandre: She’s scared when she only sees snow.
Renly Baratheon/Loras Tyrell: Suddenly, he is not alone anymore.
Sansa Stark/Sandor Clegane: No one else has ever listened.
Jaime Lannister/Brienne of Tarth: It’s confusing that she’s not Cersei.
Brienne of Tarth/Sansa Stark: She was no knight—but perfect.
It’s not just a single earring. It’s the fact that that earring is an eagle feather with gold beads. His blue jeans are tight over his ass and his shirt is unbuttoned to the middle of his dark chest and he looks, frankly, piratical.
Bronn’s own jeans—already a size too small, are now even more uncomfortably tight.
"What are you dressed as?" the piratical fellow asks. He has a lilting accent from French-speaking Northern Africa.
"The Lone Ranger," Bronn replies, trying to sound as non-chalant as possible.
"You haven’t heard of the Lone Ranger?"
He shook his head. ”Enlighten me.”
"He’s like a police man, only he isn’t." Bronn suddenly feels remarkably stupid.
"Boring. You should have gone for a gold-greedy bandit."
"Well…" Bronn runs a finger over his his black mask. "I suppose I could always switch."
"I encourage it. Much more attractive. I’m Salladhor, by the way."
Salladhor smirked, and his eyes flicked down to Bronn’s cock then back up.
"Good to meet you."
"Loras has a boyfriend.”
"Look at him! He’s blushing!" Margaery wrapped her hands around her brother’s waist. "Garlan, he really is! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him blush. Have you?"
"Nope. He only flushes when he gets angry. You’re not angry, are you Loras?"
"No. That’s not an angry flush. I’m quite the connoisseur of Loras’ angry flushes," Garlan pronounced. "Well, come on then. What’s he like?"
"Go away," mumbled Loras. His face was bright red now.
"Is he dreamy?" Margaery asked, "Does he make you smile? Does he make your insides turn to butterflies, and you dream only of marrying him in matching tuxedos? Or sexing him up against a wall? Perhaps both? Hell—why not both?" She pressed a kiss to Loras’ cheek.
Loras flinched and turned away, trying to wriggle free of his sister’s grasp. But Margaery, once she had someone in her grip, did not let go so easily.
"You know, Marg," Garlan yawned, "I’d go so far as to say that our beloved Loras here doesn’t want to talk about it. But surely that can’t be true. We are dear beloved siblings, who only wish to share the joy of his shiny new boyfriend."
"That would be mightily unappreciative," Margaery agreed.
"Yes, it would be," snapped Loras, "Especially when you were so gracious in giving away information when you and Leonette started dating."
"That was wholly different," Garlan smiled at him.
"Because I don’t blush so easily."
"You’re holding that knife wrong. Here, let me."
"I’ve got it! You’re doing about sixteen other things. Let me finish with this."
"Make sure you chop them fine."
"Cat—I’ve got it."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I’ve diced onions before. It’s not that hard. Your knives are just different from mine is all."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, they’re bigger."
"Don’t tell me you use paring knives to chop onions. Roslin, who on earth taught you that?”
"I just like the smaller knives. I feel like I have more control."
"But they’re slower. You can’t use weight and gravity with them."
"Yes, but I’m also less scared of chopping off my fingers, which I tend to think is a good thing."
"Well, first of all, if this is your first time using a chopping knife, I will show you how and you can’t stop me. And second of all, never use a paring knife to chop onions again. It’s foolishness.”
Chapter 9: Magic at Brallivanders (Rhaella x Joanna)
Written for myrish-swamp.
This one's not really a drabble, but whatever. Also is NSFW.
Joanna hated bras. They never seemed to fit her properly, and the ones that did always seemed to be made of itchy fabric that made her nipples unbearable. She thought it was unfair, really, that boys were allowed to scratch anywhere but if a girl so much as ran a finger over her breasts to literally calm her tits, everyone stared at her. Joanna much preferred walking with her “tits to the wind” as Genna put it.
It was Genna who convinced her to go. Genna, whose breasts were large enough to put a babushka to shame, and who needed custom sized bras. “They are good,” Genna said, “and they refit you and everything. Come on, Jo, Tywin will like them. You know he just wants to see you in a bright red bra or something. You won’t regret it. I promise.”
Joanna didn’t want to know how Genna would know that. But it was a fair point. She liked it better than the passive aggressive critiques from Stafford about how she was not some hippy free-love girl, or even Tywin’s brief comments that it was “unprofessional.”
So she went.
It was a small storefront on the Lower East Side, filled with boxes up to the ceiling containing what Joanna could only assume were bras. She hoped they were bras. What else could they be?
The man sitting behind the counter was completely creepy. His pale blonde hair was a rat’s nest, his fingernails looked as though they had never once been clipped, and his eyes went straight to her chest with a hungry expression. Joanna almost turned around and left. Wouldn’t Tywin like her tits free and bouncy just as much as wearing some scarlet bra? What would it matter to him, really? So long as he got to play with them? It’s not like he was very good at taking off her bras anyway, when she did wear them. Usually she had to do it herself, smiling gently so that he wouldn’t feel too bad.
But before she could turn and make her way back through the door, a woman’s voice rang out. ”Can I help you?”
She had the same coloring as the creepy man; they could have been siblings. But her expression was kind, as though she knew exactly what Joanna was nervous about, as though trying to soothe away her nerves about the sketchy man.
"I’m looking for…" She doesn’t want to say it in front of him, even though he undoubtedly knows why she is here.
"Of course," smiled the woman. "If you want to step in here," she pulled aside a curtain behind her, "and I will get you fitted."
Genna had warned her about this. ”They are really nice there. It’s not awkward at all,” she had said. Still, Joanna felt goose prickles break out across her skin when the woman stepped in the changing area behind her, lit by yellow incandescent bulbs in an old brass lamps.
"Go on," said the woman. "Aerys won’t be back here at all. Just us."
"What’s your name?" Joanna asked.
"Rhaella. And yourself?"
"Joanna. Jo." She didn’t know why she said the pet name. Only Genna and Tywin called her that.
"Nice to meet you, Jo. Now take off your shirt."
Joanna did as she was told, wishing her nipples didn’t bunch up. The room wasn’t that cold. It was just the sensation of it all.
"Rhae," called the man from outside. "I am getting lunch. You’ll be ok in there?"
"Yep," Rhaella called back, her violet eyes on Joanna’s chest. It was strange, though, there wasn’t any lust there or anything. It was a completely neutral expression. Calm. Appraising.
"36 C…no, D," Rhaella said. Then she stepped out of the changing room, leaving Joanna alone.
Joanna felt suddenly wholly aware of her nakedness. She reached up, crossing her arms over her chest and cupping her breasts. She was all too aware of the fact that her nipples were still budded against her palms, even though they should have calmed down now that she was used to the temperature of the air.
Rhaella appeared carrying two bras, one red, one black. Upon catching sight of Joanna, clutching her breasts as she was, Rhaella let out a laugh. ”Don’t worry about it, I’ve seen enough tits not to ogle.”
"Besides," Rhaella added, "how am I supposed to make sure you have the right size if you keep covering them?"
Joanna let her arms drop, and Rhaella approached, stepping behind her.
"Bend over," Rhaella said.
"What?" Joanna yelped.
"It helps with the fitting. Trust me."
Joanna did as she was told, and a moment later, the bra was on her and Rhaella was neatly hooking it in place.
"Stand up. How does that feel?"
Joanna stood up. Her breasts felt light, almost. Supported, firm. In the mirror she saw impressive cleavage as well.
"Good, I think. Sometimes fabric gets itchy though?" she mumbled.
"This is hypoallergenic. If you don’t feel anything now, you should be fine."
"Try the other one?"
Rhaella undid the bra again with the ease that she wished Tywin had. He fumbled whenever Jo wore one. Naked from the waist up once again, Joanna bent over, and Rhaella slid the black bra on her.
"Very nice," Rhaella said. "Sexy."
"You think so?" Joanna found herself asking. Why did her voice sound so airy? And why were her nipples stiffening again?
"Definitely." Rhaella winked at her.
It was the wink that did it. Or maybe the nerves, or maybe the fact that she was suddenly aware that Rhaella’s lips were plush and soft…Joanna leaned over and kissed her right on the mouth.
She froze mid-kiss. This was wrong. She was engaged, for fuck’s sake, and this was definitely some kind of harassment. But before she could pull away, Rhaella’s arms were around her, fingers trailing up her back, and Joanna felt the push of Rhaella’s small breasts against her own chest.
Joanna sighed without meaning to, her mouth opening to Rhaella’s tongue, and with a pop, Rhaella unhooked the black bra.
"Fuck," Rhaella whispered into her mouth.
"What is it?" Jo asked. She knew her own answer to that question, the obvious wet between her legs, the simple fact that Rhaella had unhooked the bra one-handed while Tywin would have grappled with it for minutes.
"I am glad my brother is out."
Rhaella sunk her face to Joanna’s breasts and began suckling. Joanna’s hands flew to her hair as warmth flooded through her and her stomach clenched.
Joanna traced circles over her scalp, hardly daring to let herself think. What good was thinking? What use was it? It really wasn’t helpful to think, for example, that Rhaella’s tongue felt better than Tywin’s. It certainly wasn’t helpful to think that pulling Rhaella’s shirt over her head so that she too was topless (save a violet bra) was a bad plan.
And when Joanna unhooked Rhaella’s bra to reveal soft pink nipples, she knew that her brain really should just go fuck off so that she could fuck Rhaella in peace. Rhaella tugged at the button of Jo’s jeans, and Joanna pulled away from Rhaella’s lips to shed them as quickly as she could. As she did, Rhaella unzipped her pencil skirt and let it fall to the ground, then propelled herself back into Joanna’s arms, one hand sliding down between Joanna’s legs, pushing aside cotton.
Lightly she circled Joanna’s clit, and Joanna’s legs began to tremble. She’d never touched another girl before, but she reached down and did her best to match Rhaella’s motions. Rhaella bit her lip and let out a groan, her hips bucking into Joanna’s hand. As she did, she slid two fingers up Joanna’s slit and into her, thrusting in and out and in and out, finding a spot just inside the entry that Tywin had never found and oh this was heaven this was magic and fuck.
When Joanna had finished cumming, she slid to the floor, heart in her throat. She didn’t think this was quite what Genna had meant when she’d said that Joanna wouldn’t regret going. But fuck would she not regret going…
She looks at the pair of them, bent over the seating charts, whispering together. Robb’s pinky is circled through Roslin’s but save that, they do not touch. They only whisper, and Cat’s heart aches.
Oh, to be young and in love again, to have Ned’s arms around her, his lips to her ears as he whispers sweetnesses in her ear, and sometimes, the odd wickedness.
She wonders what Robb whispers in his fiancée’s ear. She wonders what Roslin blushes at, wonders if she should want to know at all. Gods above, she would have been mortified if her father had wanted to know what Ned had said, even if he, like she, had been alone for so long and missed a comforting hand in hers.
Had her father’s heart twisted in pain when he’d seen her Tully red matched with a dark-haired Stark, only a shade darker than her mother’s hair? Roslin’s hair was lighter than Ned’s had been, and stick straight, but it was enough, and oh Gods, what if the reds were the survivors, doomed to carry on while their beloveds were dead?
"Mother?" Sansa murmured. "Are you all right?"
Roslin was blushing bright red this time. Catelyn closed her eyes and nodded.
There are some things you don’t do. Accidentally sext your sister, for example, or make fun of Jon’s new haircut. But even in the event you do them, those are temporary—you can laugh off the comment about wanting to be inside her, or the black eye he gave you, because you can laugh off anything.
You don’t get to laugh this one off though, not even a little. You don’t get to laugh off…
She’s half covered by a sheet, but not where it matters and Theon feels sick to his stomach as he twitches the sheet so that it covers her the golden down of her—oh fuck, oh fuck. God, he had kissed her down there, hadn’t he? Liked her little clit until she had moaned and rubbed herself and oh fuck.
You don’t just go fucking Myrcella Baratheon. You don’t. Not when Robb has been after her for near on a year and you are supposed to be winging for him. What the he’ll had he been thinking?
He reaches for his phone and dreads the text from Robb he pulls open: don’t even.
Fuck. And he throws the phone across the room.
Chapter 12: Theon & Jeyne - 3 Sentence Fic Meme
Written for jmeelee: Theon Greyjoy and Jeyne Poole at a ski resort.
She doesn’t like falling, and everyone knows that learning to ski is really learning how to fall. She hates the sensation that her legs are useless underneath her, that the poles won’t keep her up and that, inevitably, snow will get underneath her clothes because it just manages to. Theon smiles over at her when she whimpers, once again face-down in the snow; he’s fallen so many times before and knows exactly what she’s going through.
Chapter 13: Amerei & Fat Walda - 3 Sentence Fic Meme
Written for rhaenysdayne: amerei and fat walda (in a sisterly way, not an incest way) lost in the middle of nowhere.
"Look—we could just pull over and ask for directions, you know. Like, that’s not totally out of the question."
"You just want to talk to all the polo players and maybe get some phone numbers. I can figure this out with the map just fine.”
"You spoil all my fun."
Chapter 14: Robb x Jeyne - 3 Sentence Fic Meme
Written for rhaenysdayne: robb and jeyne - school play
He thinks it’s adorable the way she blushes whenever she forgets her lines. It’s somehow in character, that she’d be blushing and forgetful. He doesn’t realize that it’s because he’s watching her so intently that all she can think is just how blue his eyes are.
Chapter 15: Tyrion x Shae - 3 Sentence Fic Meme
Written for rhaenysdayne: tyrion and shae meeting in a nightclub.
He always has hated going to nightclubs. Bars are fine, because everyone is drunk and sitting and talking, but the second he tries to dance, he becomes even more horribly aware that his head is at just the wrong level to make anyone comfortable—least of all himself. But Shae likes dancing, and, sitting at a table with a stiff bourbon in hand, he finds that there is something to be said for watching her dance.
Chapter 16: Ellaria x Oberyn - 3 Sentence Fic Meme
Written for khaleesita: modern AU Oberyn and Ellaria get drunk at a fancy wedding reception of family friends they don't particularly like.
It’s not just that they dance altogether too sexually in front of the groom’s little brother and the bride’s little cousins. It’s more that Ellaria manages to fondle Margaery and invite her up to bed in full view of Joffrey while Oberyn…distracts…her brother, and then they both break down in unstoppable giggles when Joffrey begins his interruption with “now see here!” Oberyn’s always been good at being inappropriately drunk at parties, but this particular victory he will remember fondly for a long time.
Chapter 17: Melisandre x Stannis - 3 Sentence Fic Meme
Written for redqueenmelisandre: college au with student Melisandre and grumpy adjunct professor Stannis, please :)
It’s something about the sweater vest, she decides—the way that it’s a little too small and rides up over his belly, and she doesn’t even think he realizes that his shirt was not tucked in perfectly and she thinks she can see a little bit of his happy trail between the buttons. It certainly makes class more interesting, when he’s talking about how the vikings used to set their dead on fire, and goes through slide upon slide depicting it. She can’t decide if she’ll remember everything he says from this lecture, or have to borrow Davos’ notes because all she can think about is the salt-and-pepper hair on his lower stomach…
Chapter 18: Myrcella x Robb
Written for sapphireglyhps: Robb x Myrcella. Camp Counselors AU. plz <3
The absolute worst part about it is that whenever she has to break up the couples kissing in the woods, she thinks immediately of the way that Robb used to grab her hand and pull her behind the boy’s shower cabin, pushing her against the wall so that she could feel his erection through his jeans and kissing her senseless—or at least until her lips were swollen. She feels like a hypocrite, when she does it, especially because she knows that she and Robb will probably end up there later, doing the exact same thing the kids are getting in trouble for. But she did her time, getting caught by more counselors than she can count, and she supposes that it’s a right-of-passage or something.
Chapter 19: Stannis x Davos - 3 Sentence Fic Meme
"There is barely a dusting of snow, they can drive over it without a problem," Stannis grumbles through gritted teeth.
"They aren’t used to it. Not everyone’s from Michigan," Davos intones for the hundredth time.
Stannis doesn’t say another word, but periodically Davos thinks he hears a stream of curses coming out from under his breath.
Chapter 20: Melisandre x Selyse - 3 Sentence Fic Meme
There’s something great about having another woman in the office, someone who can complain with you about getting lipstick smudges on your pullover, or who can slip you a tampon when you forgot to refill the pouch you keep in your purse.
Mel scares everyone in a way that Selyse never could, and everyone always shuts up and listens to her when she points out the flaw in their tasks, and Selyse celebrates because after ten years here they’re finally listening to someone.
Sometimes, she can see Mel’s bra—deep red, always deep red—through the white of her shirt, and it’s all she can think about for most of the afternoon.
Chapter 21: Daenerys & Viserys - 3 sentence fic meme
They have everything—sheep’s wool, alpaca wool, cashmere, chenille, cotton, linen, fingering weight through extra bulky weight, and sample shawls and sweaters hanging artfully off shelves, with funky buttons sewn onto them.
"Do you even know what you’re looking for?" Viserys asked nervously.
"Of course not. It’s finding it that’s the adventure," she grins and takes a step towards the nearest shelf, running her fingers over a ball of cashmerino.
Chapter 22: Rhaella x Joanna - 3 Sentence Fic Meme
Written for wetwasteofagirl: joanna and rhaella, nightclub vip lounge full of dangerous-ass motherfuckers
She’s glad Jo is with her when she passes Aerys (there are cuts on his arms again, and some of the blood from his wrists made it to the corner of his mouth somehow) and Tywin, who leers at the way that her fingers are laced with Jo’s. They can both go fuck themselves—or fuck each other, if they’d prefer. She’s got Jo, and Jo’s got her, and together they can take the world
Oberyn wakes up bleary eyed when he hears the shower running. He glances at his watch, face twisting against his hangover, then groans. 11:30. How the hell was it already 11:30? What time had they gotten back last night, anyway?
"Hello darling," Ellaria whispers in his ear, and he starts.
"What? Oh. Hello."
She chuckles. ”You slept well?”
"Yes. Fine. Though…how did I?"
"You refused to get off it when we got back, and then fell asleep after five minutes."
Oberyn felt his face flushing. ”Damn.”
"And you said you could hold your tequila," she grinned. She kissed his cheek. "I’m off for a shower." Only then did he notice she was only wearing a towel.
"Wait, I think Elia’s in there," he called out, grimacing as his head throbbed again.
Ellaria’s eyes were dark all the time, but only then did he notice just how dilated her pupils were. “Oh. I know.”
She pushed open the door to the bathroom, dropping her towel as she did so so that he caught a glimpse of her ass, then shut the door.
Oberyn closed his eyes, and tried very hard not to think about what was about to happen.
He could not, however, close his ears, especially when Elia began moaning.
"Come on, Robb. Please?" She widened her eyes as much as she could, curling her lips down in a pout. This expression, dubbed by Uncle Jaime the "kinslayer", had a ninety-eight percent success rate of making someone do what she wanted. Unfortunately, Robb seemed impervious.
"You know I don’t sing, ‘Cella," he frowned. He did, at least, have the decency to look guilty about it. "And trust me when I say you don’t want me to.”
"Lettin’ the lady down there, aren’t you Robby," grinned Theon. "Myrcella, sweet, kind, gentle, good Myrcella, will you accept my vocal chords in lieu of your lover’s. Perhaps they are not quite as desirous, but they’re not, you know, cowardly and wimpy." He elbowed Robb, who yelped and elbowed him back.
"Theon—be nice," said Jon, taking a sip of his whiskey.
"Well, I don’t listen to cowards, and note that you are not offering up your own singing skills," Theon replied. "Perhaps cowardice runs in the Stark line."
"Why," Arya demanded, "are you speaking like a drunk knight from a fairy tale?"
"Who says I’m not a drunk knight from a fairy tale?”
She rolled her eyes. ”I’m getting another beer. You want one?” she asked Robb. He shook his head.
"Please, Robb?" Myrcella asked once again.
He gave her another pained expression. ”No, I can’t. I’m really, really sorry ‘Cella.”
She turned to Theon. ”Well then?”
"At your service, M’Lady!" When he stood up, he was swaying. She tucked her arm through his and they went up to the little stage. Well, she went. She moved easily. Theon drunkenly pranced up to the stage.
"What’re you singing?" asked the DJ gruffly, frowning at them—though that might just have been the burns along the side of his face.
“‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,’” Theon said before Myrcella could even open her mouth. She laughed, and the DJ passed them their microphones. ”Ready?” Theon asked Myrcella.
"Always," she grinned as the music began.
Theon opened his mouth and began to sing, “‘Listennnnnnn babyyyy.”
"Now, before we begin, let me make it absolutely clear that what I walked in on today should in no way proceed further within the walls of my house." Stannis’ jaw was set very firm, his lips pursed even as he spoke.
Devan’s eyes shot to Davos, and he saw wild fear there. Shireen was staring pointedly at the embroidered couch cushions her mother had made, her hair falling forward on either side of her face so that Davos could not see her eyes at all—clearly the way she had intended.
"While I understand that teenagers will be teenagers, and especially when two people are dating, there are certain activities that they should like to engage in," Stannis continued, "under no circumstances will things move further than they did today, do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, Mr. Baratheon," squeaked Devan at the same time that Shireen mumbled, "Yes Dad."
"Good," Stannis said. He inhaled slowly. "Now, when two people love each other, very much. Very, very much. When they are very committed to each other, and would not dream of shirking their affections for one another, or being disloyal to one another—"
"The way you are with Mom and Mel?" Shireen muttered.
"What was that?" Stannis asked. Shireen was still for a moment, calculating whether or not her father had actually heard her.
"Nothing," she tried.
Stannis nodded stiffly—the sort of head-bobbing he did when he was nervous, and Davos hid a grin.
"Sometimes, they will engage in certain physical activities," he continued. Shireen looked up, eyebrows raised. Whatever she had been expecting, it wasn’t this.
"Dad," Shireen said loudly, "Devan and I have had sex ed before. They give it to us every year.”
"Every year?" Davos asked astonished. He’d known that this school was fancy—lord only knew how much money the tuition cost. (He would never be able to thank God enough that Stannis was helping with Devan’s tuition.) But sex ed every year?
"Yes," Devan said. "Since we were eleven." Stannis narrowed his eyes at Devan, and Devan added, "Mr. Baratheon," to his sentence and looked down at the floor.
"So you are aware that when engaging in—ah—intimate activities, you must—ah—protect yourselves accordingly." He was glaring at Devan now, and Davos, for all his amusement at this whole predicament, wished that Stannis wouldn’t quite look at his son as though he were the devil. Honestly, Shireen could do much, much worse than Devan.
Shireen glared at her father defiantly. ”There are two kinds of condoms,” she rattled off, “male and female. The male condom is better at preventing both pregnancy and STIs, though by ‘better’ they really mean the difference of about two percentage points in the high nineties.” Stannis looked as though he had swallowed a lemon. He opened his mouth, then closed it again as Shireen continued speaking, more loudly than before. ”There is also hormonal birth control, which comes in several different forms, including shots, patches, Nuva Ring, and pills taken daily. Hormonal birth control only prevents pregnancy and not STIs, so it is important to check with your partner about whether or not either of you have any STIs before moving away from condoms. Hormonal birth control can also be tricky, because every woman’s body is different and reacts differently to different hormone levels, which can thus result in depression, or dulled—or enhanced—sexual drive.” Stannis’ hands were shaking.
"Shireen," he managed, but she plowed on.
"Lastly, there are, of course, permanent and semi-permanent solutions to preventing pregnancy—though not STIs: the permanent one is getting your tubes tied, which is irreversible. The semi-permanent solution is getting an IUD, which stays in your uterus for ten years or so. It’s a lot safer now than it used to be, but at one point it did accidentally cause infertility, so you should really talk to a doctor before selecting it as an option." She raised her eyebrows at her father once again. "Devan and I, of course, were only making out. Fully clothed. So I can see why you’d be nervous that we’d need to know all this. But please rest assured—I’m on top of it, and am fully aware of what method of sexual protection I would choose.”
Everyone was silent, and Devan looked as though he wanted to sink through the couch and the floor into the basement. Stannis, to be honest, didn’t look much different.
"Well then," Davos said at last, "It looks to me like you two know what you’re doing. Run along now."
Shireen grabbed Devan’s hand and they left the living room, taking the stairs up to her bedroom two at a time.
"Stannis?" Davos asked. Stannis was staring at the spot on the couch that his daughter had just vacated.
"I guess she’s not a baby anymore," he sighed.
Davos sighed. ”Probably never was one, honestly.”
The desk is now squarely stuck in the stairwell, and Cersei feels sweat dribbling down between her shoulder blades. The windows of the stairwell were shut, as if they could keep out the warmth or the humidity. But the enclosed walls of the stairwell, painted in some really rather nauseating shade of bland teal, have successfully trapped Cersei in what feels like a sauna—only without the pleasantness that comes with relaxation.
"You need help?" came a voice one floor up. Cersei looks up. She has curling black hair and eyes like black cherries. There is a lilt to her voice, an accent Cersei can’t quite place.
"My brother’s supposed to be helping," Cersei sighs.
"Well, if he’s not here, I’m more than happy to?" the girl skips down the stairs, her loose cotton pants seeming to billow behind her. She takes hold of the other side of the desk and waits for Cersei to do the same.
Together, they heave the desk around the bend and up two more flights. The girl kicks open the door and helps Cersei carry the desk down her new apartment.
"What’s your name?" she asks as she and Cersei set the desk down in the half-furnished living room.
"Jofffffrey you’re a litttttle prickkkkkk."
"Yes. He absolutely is."
She hiccuped into the phone. ”Who…wait…you’re not…”
"Robb. We met earlier tonight. At Sansa’s birthday party."
"Oh, fucking fuck on triscut," she hiccuped again, "I wanted to impress you and be all classsssy."
"Well, I can assure you that you calling Joffrey a little prick is very impressive to me. Because he is one."
"Has one, too," she hiccuped. "Oh shit. I wanted to ask you out for coffffeee. I am never even going to be able to look at you nowwww."
"How about Sunday morning? At Joe’s. I’ll buy."
"I owe anyone who berates Joffrey at any stage a coffee. Ten o’clock work?"
"Excellent. I’ll send you a text to remind you tomorrow."
It had all started off fine—flakes of snow falling from the trees and his hands on her hips as she’d gone up the path to the cabin. She had liked the feel of his hands on her hips. They were softer than Robert’s, warmer, and there was something so freeing about being out here alone with him, where no one could tell her what to do, or that it was wrong, or that she shouldn’t.
It had all started off fine—sex before a fire, curled around one another, his silvery hair mixing with her black and the pounding of his heart against her cheek as she rested her head on his chest and listened to his breathing as he slept.
For three days they’d been like that, naked and warm and fucking because fucking was fun, and for all Ned’s talk of “love” and “making love” and “loving” there was something so clean about those words. Ned would use those words when talking about fucking, polishing the slap of skin against skin, the gasps of air, the way her heart throbbed in her tits, in her clit, and the way his tongue tasted on her mouth. That wasn’t love. There wasn’t any love there at all. That was fun, that was freedom, that was isolation—far away from everyone else, and everything else, and nothing else mattered except his cock inside her, nothing else could matter, not brothers or boyfriend or wife or children. Nothing but the two of them writhing together in front of a fire.
It was on the fourth day that it stopped being fine. On the fourth day, when he’d gotten up early and said he needed to go into town to get some more food, and that he needed to call his wife to make sure that her treatment was going all right, and that she should stay there, and that she’d be fine. He’d locked the door after him and he’d driven away, and she’d just lain there before the grate and stared at the ashes and wondered what the fuck she was supposed to do now. She’d wandered around the three rooms of the cabin and stared out the window, and lit the fire again, but she was so very alone now, and the trees cracking and swaying in the wind that whistled through the logs of the cabin, and even though the fire was lit she felt cold.
The fourth day passed into the fifth and he hadn’t come back. Lyanna’s belly grumbled as she pulled on her pants and her boots and tugged at the door but realized that it locked from the outside, not the inside, and she began throwing herself against the door, wanting to break it down because if she stayed in the cabin one more minute she would scream, scream, scream and no one would hear her, because if a girl screams alone in a cabin and no one is there to hear her does she actually make a noise?
She has flowers woven into her fiery curls and she’s jumping up and down shouting at the top of her lungs, and he can’t help but notice the way her breasts bounce up and down as in time with her jumps and her shouts.
There is a ferocity in her face, a defiance as she stares at him and raises her arms against the plastic barrier that he presses towards her and she shoves back at it, trying to force him back, force him away from all of them as they shout and chant.
"Push harder, Snow!" he hears Grenn hollering at him down the line as they push, push, push the protesters back towards the Wall.
"Why are you doing this?" she shouts at him. "Why?"
"Ma’am, please," he calls to her, but she keeps shouting and jumping and now he’s pressed the plastic barrier firmly up against her so that her breasts are smushed against it right in front of him and he pushes, pushes, pushes her along with all of them, but her eyes are locked on his and for a moment he wants to kiss her, but knows that he can’t, that he needs to get her back, away, before everything escalates further. "Please, step back," he calls again.
"You know nothing," she spits at him.
She just had to go and say it—go and say that—as if it were the simplest thing in the world, and, thank god they were in the middle of nowhere, and what were guardrails really, and oh, fuck, he’d definitely totaled Rhaegar’s car—you know, in addition to having accidentally-unintentionally stolen his wife’s love.
Elia’s coughing, and pushing the airbag down.
"Are you all right?" he asks her.
"You didn’t have to go and crash the car, you know," she replied weakly.
He began laughing because that was all there was to do now, wasn’t there? Laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh, until an ambulance showed up and made sure that there wasn’t any permanent damage, because what the fuck was he supposed to tell Rhaegar, tell Cersei? I crashed a car because Elia said she was in love with me? That would go over, oh so well.
"I’m sorry," she said, grabbing his arm. "I shouldn’t have said anything." She sounds like she’s about to cry, and Jaime doesn’t know what to say.
So he just keeps laughing.
After five years as bunk-mates and two years working together with the 10-12s, Jaime doesn’t even pretend he doesn’t notice just how big Arthur’s dick is in the morning. He knows that it’s just morning wood, but when it’s just there, sticking up through the sheet because Arthur has kicked down the felted blue blanket, it’s just so…hypnotizing. And there.
Jaime’s never been with a man before. He’s never wanted to be with a man before, but in the morning, before reveille goes off and the campers wake up, he wonders what it might be like to suck Arthur off.
Chapter 32: Brienne
"It’s fine," Brienne mumbled.
"It’s not fine. We’re going to find you one," Sansa insisted taking Brienne’s arm. Sansa had found a lovely blue dress three stores before, long and with a flowy skirt that flew out when she spun. Asha had found a ridiculously tiny black number with golden studs. And Arianne’s dress was all sorts of orange, yellow, and red silks that draped in a way that made her look like some sort of Indian princess from five hundred years ago.
But nothing yet for Brienne. Nothing fit. She was too tall, too muscular, her breasts were too small but her chest was too wide, they didn’t have the right color, or it hung loosely at her shoulders, or it didn’t fit her shoulders because they were too broad.
Brienne hated dress shopping—truly hated it. She liked watching the rest of them try on pretty clothing, Arianne’s sighs about the way the silk felt, or Sansa squealing in delight with the way the skirt swished around her legs, or Asha’s nonchalant shrug at the suggestion that Mr. Baratheon would probably make her put on a pair of pants because her skirt was too short.
It was bad enough she didn’t have a date to Prom when they all did. But now she didn’t have a dress. She might as well just not go, spend a night eating ice cream with Dad, watching taped episodes ofThe Lone Ranger.
She’d had fantasies, of course—that someone would come out of the woodwork and ask her out, that she’d find the perfect dress that showed off her legs (because she did have to admit, she had very nice legs). But none of that seemed to matter, and there only so many stores left in the mall.
"The next one will have one," Sansa said. "I promise." Sansa was ever the optimist. Brienne was not so sure.
Dany wasn’t sure why she did it. Apart from the fact that his blue hair was hot, and the way he divided up his goatee was intriguing and the fact that she knew he used the same Math 215 textbook every week. Also it had been way too long since she’d gotten any, and the way that he stared at her in section made her more than a little horny.
So, fuck it.
Why not. She wrote her name down and waited, watching, hoping that he would text her.
He didn’t though. He just worked on his problem set, and, after an hour or so, put the book back underneath the shelf that he always hid it under. He tugged his bag over his shoulder and swaggered out of the library.
She sighed and returned to her problem set, trying to ignore the fact that the blue lines of the graph paper was nearly the same shade as Daario’s hair.
When she went to the dining hall at six pm, she found a text message on her phone.
Want to fuck?
She stared at the letters, wanting them to be from him—knowing that they were—and panicking slightly because suddenly it was all real.
She bit her lip and typed, I could be convinced. Then she tucked her phone in her pocket and went to grab something full of protein. She had a feeling she’d need energy that night.
Chapter 34: Jon x Melisandre
She insists that the Scouts all wear red, and he wants them wearing black. Black is far more intimidating. Also less visible, especially for the night activities. ”It’s a color war, Jon. How are they supposed to participate in a color war if they’re not actually wearing any colors?” She just stares at him with those eyes of hers and he finds himself caving because there’s something unstoppable about her.
He does hold his ground on the strategy discussions, though. That much is clear. ”Let the Senior Scouts take out the Junior Scouts, so that the Scouts can focus on actually capturing the flag. Send out diversion teams if you need to, but never forget that it’s the Senior Scouts who are the real threat, not the Junior Scouts.” She smiles at him when he finishes that, and her lips are very red. They can’t be naturally that red, can they? But girls aren’t allowed makeup here, and she’s a counselor, surely she’d follow that rule, wouldn’t she?
But Melisandre doesn’t seem to care about the rules—she cares about getting what she wants. And when the Scouts are all lined up in their red shirts and Jon is dividing them into teams, he sees her pull out a tube of red lipstick and paint war marks on their cheeks and whisper words of encouragement in their ears.
Cersei knows Lyanna likes her breasts. It’s not as though Lyanna has ever made a secret of it, of course, but it’s something that Cersei is practically ruthless about.
She smiles at Lyanna, and stretches, her breasts straining over the neckline of the green dress she’s wearing, and if it weren’t for the four other people in the elevator, Lyanna would already have unzipped Cersei’s dress and given the boys watching the security cameras a proper show. But she can’t, so she can only stare and feel moisture growing between her legs.
The elevator moves so slowly. It’s as if someone has pressed every floor, and there’s a devilish twinkle in Cersei’s eyes as she yawns and stretches again, and her cleavage once again grows more pronounced.
When they are the last ones in the elevator, Lyanna pounces, and presses open-mouthed kisses to the cleft between Cersei’s breasts. Cersei laughs and runs her fingers through Lyanna’s hair. When the door dings open again, Lyanna practically drags Cersei out of it and back to her apartment.
She likes to hang upside down from the monkey bars by her knees, her pigtails dangling as she swings lightly back and forth. She’s done this for month, but now her curls have been braided into tiny tight braids with green green beads in at the ends of them—she got them during her family vacation to the Bahamas. They make her brown eyes look more green—hazel, Jon says.
Sometimes, her face turns bright red if she hangs there too long. He doesn’t think this is one of those times, though. He thinks she’s blushing because he’s told her he thinks she’s pretty and that he likes the beads in her hair. It’s very pretty, her blush…
Robb’s never kissed a girl before. Theon has. Theon says it’s great. And when Robb kisses her, she’s dangling upside down, and the beads are clinking against one another and she lets out an “oh” of surprise, but she seems quite pleased when he pulls away.
And now Robb is blushing too, but it’s not a bad blush—not at all.
Chapter 37: Elia x Jaime x Arthur
Jaime’s tongue has just slid into her slit when she hears a creak on the stairs. She pauses in her moans, listening intently. Jaime looks up from between her legs, his green eyes curious, though he keeps licking, tongue still massaging the soft skin of her cunt.
Whoever is climbing the stairs has reached the landing now, and Elia’s heart is in her throat. Oh fuck, it’s not—it can’t be Rhaegar. He’s gone—long gone, off fucking that Stark girl. He can’t possibly have the right to—
There isn’t even a knock on the door, it just swings open and Arthur Dayne stops short, his eyes falling on Jaime’s naked ass.
"What the—" he stops and turns his head so that he’s staring out the window. "Sorry—sorry. I didn’t—I—"
Jaime’s pulled away, twisting and crossing his legs so that Arthur can’t see his dick. He seems to make some valiant effort to hide the spot he’d just been licking from view—though, of course, the blankets had been kicked to the ground some hours before, and Elia is as naked as the day she was born.
"Did it not occur to you to knock?" Jaime asks. He sounds peeved.
"You know, Jay, I didn’t think you’d be up here eating Rhaegar’s wife out. Sorry. I’ll knock next time," snapped Arthur.
"Look, it’s none of your business who I have eating me out," Elia snaps, "Sort of like how it’s none of my business what Rhaegar gets up to." She spits out those words and sees Arthur flinch, still looking out the window. He’d said that when she’d asked him where Rhaegar had gone three weeks ago. She hadn’t heard from Rhaegar since, but she had seen Arthur.
"That wasn’t why I was—" Arthur stops, though, and she sees a blush creep up his face.
Jaime makes a noise in the back of his throat. He bites his lip, then says, “I thought you…I thought we were done.”
"I thought we were, too," sighs Arthur.
Elia gapes at the pair of them. ”Hang on a minute,” she manages after a moment, “You both were…” she waves her hands, and Jaime nods.
"Only a few times," says Arthur. "And we had stopped but…" He swallows, and his eyes are back on Jaime now, drinking in the chiseled muscles of his chest and the way that his cock is stiff and slick, and Elia sees a sad hunger there.
"Arthur," Jaime says, but Arthur is turning, and he’s about to leave.
"Arthur," Elia calls. He doesn’t stop for Jaime, but he does stop for her. "Arthur, would you like to join us?"
He stands very still, and she watches him carefully, ignoring the way that Jaime is now staring at her.
"I wouldn’t want to interrupt," Arthur sighs.
"You already have. And as long as Jaime gets back between my legs, I’m sure we can all three of us have some fun together," she says, leaning back against the pillows again.
Arthur stares at her, his eyes running from hers down to her breasts and then, unmistakably to her cunt. He swallows and begins unbuttoning his shirt.
Elia grins and sits up, grabbing Jaime’s neck and guiding his head back down so his face is against her again. And his tongue is back, licking more enthusiastically than before because a moment later, Arthur is behind Jaime, his hands on his cock, and Jaime lets out a moan at the same time that Elia does. She closes her eyes as she catches Arthur’s grin and knows that it’s going to be a beautiful afternoon.
Chapter 38: Elia x Rhaegar
His kiss doesn’t taste the way it used to. There’s something forced about it now, in a way that it never was before—the sort of kiss that claims. She doesn’t like it. It doesn’t feel dutiful, or respectful, or playful. It feels obligatory.
She wonders if he kissed Lyanna Stark this way—and she knows she’ll never forgive him.
Her kiss is fire, and he wonders if it’s something that they teach the acolytes when they learn how to serve their God. Your kiss shall be flame on the lips, saliva shall become steam, blood will burn a glorious burn, and heat unlike anything else shall fill the body of the kissed.
His heart thuds against his ribs when their lips meet, his skin ablaze beneath her touch, and taking her—despite vows to his wife, despite the honor of his house—is the only thing that will quench it.
Tyene would find a golden a-line dress in a pile of rubble. Arianne rolled her eyes.
"Tyene, we’re supposed to be looking for magazines," she snapped, throwing aside empty cans over her shoulder so they bounced down into the piles of junk that they’s already waded through.
"But it’s so beautiful!" smiled Tyene. She was already tugging off her tshirt and zipping the dress up. "And it’s only got a few holes. Besides, you should never look a gift dress in the mouth. And do you honestly think we’re going to find more ammo?"
"It’s stained and smells like garbage," muttered Arianne.
"So am I," shrugged Tyene.
"And yes, we are going to find more…" Arianne paused, tugging loose a magazine that was half-visible under a pile of muck. "ammo." It was half full, and the wrong size, but bullets were bullets and she’d find the gun they matched if necessary.
"As you say," sighed Tyene. She continue poking through the pile of trash. "But I still think I came out on top during this little treasure hunt."
Arianne rolled her eyes, but didn’t say anything. Her cousin’s blonde hair, oily and unwashed as it was, somehow matched the grimy gold she was wearing. Only Tyene would have been able to manage making garbage-dump chic work for her.
He does it for the good of the camp, really. I mean, why else would you tempt that kind of wrath? It’s not as though Drogo isn’t the biggest, bulkiest counselor on the staff. You wouldn’t want to cause a fight with him—not ever. Not unless you’re fast as tuck, and Daario happens to be fast as fuck.
And when Drogo is on his way to the shower cabin, towel tucked around his waist and shampoo in hand, he strikes, ripping the towel from Drogo and sprinting away as fast as he can. Laughter follows him—as well it should, and when he chances a glance over his shoulder as he reaches the bottom of the hill, he sees Drogo standing there, naked as the day he was born, hands on his hips and grinning.
"Am I suppose to chase after you, Naharis?"
"Think you could catch me?" Daario calls back. brushing his blue hair out of his face.
Drogo throws the shampoo aside and bursts into a run, and Daario wonders what would happen if he let Drogo catch him.
Nights off never ended the way that Sansa expected. Usually she expected something simple—driving down the road for ice cream, seeing the new Batshark flick, maybe having a beer on the beach, if it was late enough and they didn’t think they’d get caught.
So ending up with her shirt off and Pod’s tongue in her mouth is a definite surprise. They’re on the archery range, far away from everything and the stars overhead are glittering brightly as Pod kisses her, hands squeezing her breasts with the unpracticed touch of someone who’s never gotten a girl’s shirt off before.
Pod’s not like other people she’s hooked up with—he’s quiet, shy, nervous. But that was something she needed right now, and god did he learn quickly.
Sansa fumbled for the button of his jeans and he squeaked. ”I—are you sure?”
"Yes. Definitely." An she kisses him again.
He doesn’t really look the way she expected someone whose handle was Gottwulf945 would look. His auburn curls are tight and close to his head, and his eyes are a bland blue (unlike the yellow of his Tracker.) In short, he’s beautiful, and Shireen feels herself blushing and wishes desperately that she’d put a little more cover up over the scars. It never quite managed to cover them completely, but she was expecting someone dorky looking, who wouldn’t care—not someone who looked as though he’d strolled off the front page of some magazine about hot people.
"Petradraga?" he asks, and his voice is a low grumble and ugh this is the worst he shouldn’t be this attractive.
He cracks a crooked grin. ”This is so cool!”
"Yeah!" she tries to sound excited. "Was it a long drive?"
"There was bit traffic on the 405. But other than that," he shrugged. "You?"
"I took the bus. About half an hour."
His grin widens. ”I can’t believe I’m finally meeting you. This is unreal.”
"You’re telling me?" she forces a laugh and blushes and looks away. "So what’s good in the area?"
"You like Thai food?"
"Come on then! Let’s do this thing!" He grabs her hand and pulls her up from the bench and her heart leaps to her throat. He hasn’t even looked at the scars though, not even once. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.
"Mom, please never make me come to Dad’s for Christmas ever again."
"Myrcella, you will recall that it was your idea, and that I told you that you would have a better time with me and Uncle Jaime at your grandfather’s."
"I know, I know. It’s really bad."
"I can imagine—I seem to recall having had to go for many years."
"Mom, I think Melisandre is giving Uncle Stannis a handjob under the table."
"That is a mental image I will never be able to escape."
"And I think that dad is too drunk to remember Loras’ name, even though he an Uncle Renly have been dating for six years."
"Your father has a hard time with names. He couldn’t even remember the name of the slattern who he was cheating on me with because there had been so many."
"I’m in a medieval mood."
"Are you drunk?"
"You mean I am stuck with drunk Dad and I miss you and Uncle Jaime drunkenly singing Christmas carols?"
"We haven’t been drunkenly singing Christmas carols."
"But will you?"
"Arg! Get me out of here!"
"Tomorrow, darling. I will see you tomorrow. Go and talk to Tommen. I’m sure he’s just as miserable there as you are."
"Come on, careful now."
"Meera, this isn’t going to work." Bran’s throat is closed.
"It is if you just shut up and take my hand," Meera replied.
"How are you going to get me down, Meera?" He wished his voice wouldn’t crack. He wished that he could just climb the damn tree himself. But he can’t, and Meera’s hands are the only way up.
"That’s for later. We’ll get you down just fine. Down’s easier than up. Now take my hand, you little idiot."
So Bran took her hands and let her pull him onto the first branch. Then, she climbed up to the next branch, relying on her legs for balance as she took Bran’s hands again and pulled him up. He ignored the way his arms and shoulders screamed, the way that he felt his arms would be tugged out of their sockets because at each level, when he settled securely on the next branch up, he felt his throat was a little less tight, a and the cool late-evening air was a little more fresh in his throat.
"I think that’s high enough," grinned Meera, sitting down next to him. She rested her head on his shoulder. "You ok?"
But Bran can’t say a word; he’s just staring over the camp from high above, the way he’d never expected to ever again, and he never wants to come down, never wants to leave this tree again.
Rickon was glowering, and Shireen wanted to kick him under the table. She didn’t though—he was sitting too near to Uncle Robert and what if she accidentally kicked him? That would only make everything worse. Why did he have to be glowering? Why couldn’t he just be…she didn’t know…blank-faced? Her father hated people who glower, thought it reflected something about their deeper character. (Shireen has bitten her tongue six times now whenever he goes on a rant about it to keep herself from reminding him that he glowered all the damn time.)
No one had said a word yet—no one except Shireen, when she’d introduced Rickon and they’d all sat down. Her father was staring at Rickon with pale eyes, Uncle Robert was pretending not to be checking his smart phone for facebook updates, and Rickon was just sitting there glowering.
He doesn’t have to be so annoying, Shireen thought, I put up with meeting his whole family—this is just one of my uncles and my dad!
"So, Rickon," her father said, enunciating each syllable as though Rickon had done him a personal ill. "How long have you known Shireen?"
"Two years," Rickon grunted. She wanted to sink through the floor. Glowering and grunting? Oh, this is the—
"How did you meet?"
"Debate," shrugged Rickon.
"Debate?" Dad sounded confused, as though he didn’t understand how this creature could formulate an argument worthy of a debate tournament.
"Yeah," Rickon replied. Dad’s eyebrows rose.
"I didn’t realize you’d done Debate," said Uncle Robert, looking up from his phone.
"Yeah," Rickon said, "Robb said it was good, so I did it."
"A good reason to do anything," her father grimaced. She was surprised that her father didn’t seem to be enjoying himself so much—he and Rickon seemed to be two peas in a pod.
"Robb’s got good taste," shrugged Rickon. "Besides, it got me out of History, and I hate history."
If Shireen could have banged her head on the table, repeatedly, she would have done it. Oh god, make it end, she thought wildly. There was no way this would end well. No way. Why had she thought this was a good idea? Why? Bad enough that her father was never going to like any of her boyfriends on principle, but to bring home someone who seemed to exist in opposition of everything he held dear? What did it matter if he was Ned Stark’s son? He hated history. It couldn’t possibly get any worse.
But it did. Dad cleared his throat. ”Now, as I understand it, you have a motorcycle?”
Chapter 47: Jon x Ygritte
Written for roseswillcutyou: Write me jon x ygritte pretty woman!au thx.
"They wouldn’t sell to you?"
"Nope. They took one look at my blacks and said that they didn’t think I would be welcome and should send my patronage elsewhere."
"Well…they have shit for brains. Let’s go shopping."
It was all a matter of citizenship, Loras had said. “Please, Margaery,” his eyes had been so wide, so bright with tears, “Please. They’ll send him back to the Stormlands if you don’t. At least this way he can stay. And, after a few years, you can get divorced and it will all be ok, and you can marry whoever you want.”
Margaery had never seen Loras cry. Not once—never, growing up. Garlan had cried when the Hawks had lost the Westeros Cup and Willas cried when life got overwhelming, or when his leg started acting up again and his painkillers had expired. But not Loras, never Loras, except when Renly was getting kicked out of the Reach.
Renly put an arm around Loras’ waist, not looking at Margaery. The least he could do was look at her. She sighed, kissed Loras on the cheek, and said “Yes.”
“And you’re sure about this one.”
“I’m just saying, the last three were bollocks is all.”
“Yes, Dad, I’m sure about it.”
“Because if you’re not, it’s not too late.”
“Dad—I’m sure, all right. I know it this time. This time it’ll work.”
“And he doesn’t have some sort of debilitating illness that might cause him to cop it prematurely?”
“Look, it’s my wedding day, will you be nice?”
“I’m teasing, love. I’m very happy. And he’s a good man.”
“He loves you very much, and I can respect that.”
“You had better.”
“His dog’s a bit weird, but, well, he loves it and that’s telling of a man’s character.”
“Grey Wind is not weird!”
“A bit weird. Very large. Never seen a dog so big, and certainly not one that acts like a drunk puppy.”
“Now is when you stop talking.”
“I love you very much.”
“And I love you.”
Oh, they shouldn’t be doing this now, of all times, not when they’ll have to go downstairs and be presentable in a moment. She tells him as much, gasps it in his ear when his fingers push aside her underwear to begin toying with her. “Robb,” she pleads, but she’s not sure if she’s asking him to stop, or to continue. It would all be easier if she knew, but it gets altogether more complicated when she begins trembling and has to grab onto the bookshelf to hold herself up. He’s kissing her neck and murmuring “Margaery” into her neck, and slipping fingers up and down her slit with one hand while fiddling with his belt in the other. He’s just about to enter her when the door to the library swings open.
“Well, hurry up then.”
Margaery gasps and pushes Robb away from her, letting her dress fall down to cover her again. Oh, she will die, she will, she knows it, her face is on fire isn’t it, or about to burst into flames at the very least. Thank god they had dimmed the lights, though she is sure that there is enough to see Robb tucking away his cock.
The light from the hallway is glowing around the dark form of Gran, leaning on her cane. Margaery can’t see her face at all.
“Dinner is being served,” she says loudly, and as she turns away, Margaery is sure that she sees her grinning. But Grandmother doesn’t grin, Grandmother hardly ever smiles…and yet…
Margaery sinks to the floor, and Robb does too. They look at each other for a moment, then burst out laughing.
There are times, when you look at someone, and you can tell that they really, really don’t want to be talking to the person who’s talking to them. There are little signs—eyes flicking away, or looking down at the ground; biting the corner of the lip; arms crossed, body tilted slightly away, posture slightly hunched. And then, there’s the mother of all giveaways—all of those at once.
She was a very tall woman. Even in heels, Sansa didn’t think she came up to her shoulder. But seeing her, clearly not wanting to be talking to the man with the brown goatee.
"There you are!" Sansa said. She slipped her arm through the tall woman’s. "I’ve been looking everywhere for you."
The woman blinked at her, and recognition dawned in her blue eyes. How blue, her eyes were—so lovely, so clear.
"Sorry—yes. I was just getting another grasshopper," said the woman, lifting her drink to show it.
"Well, come on, then. Arya’s dying to tell you all about her new boy. Excuse me,” Sansa nodded politely to the man.
"Thanks for that," mumbled the tall woman.
"Of course. We girls have to stick together," Sansa replied easily. "I’m Sansa, by the way."
She finishes three books in three hours and Sam can’t help but be jealous because he’s never been a speed reader. Life would be easier if he were a speed reader. He would be able to finish his dissertation yesterday and have time to read for fun, instead of slogging through edition after edition after edition of legalese from the nineteenth century.
She doesn’t have a fourth book it would seem, and sits staring out of the window for the next hour—just staring. It seems like no one ever stares out of train windows anymore, but she does. Everyone else is on laptops or phones or asleep across two seats, but not her.
On hour five, Sam leans over, feeling nervous sweat break out across his brow. ”Do you want to borrow a book? I noticed th-that you were—that you had finished,” he asked quickly, quietly.
She starts and looks at him, eyes wide and blue like the sky out the window. She smiles. ”That would be lovely! Thank you very much,” and he hands her a Lincoln biography.
They sat in the courtyard of the library, listening to the bells ring and watching as the springtime magnolias unfolded. It was somehow peaceful, even though the fear of finals and papers was flowing out of the building around them. "How are defenses?" she asked.
"They’d be fine, if Robert weren’t incompetent," he replied, rubbing his temple. The muscles of his scalp were tightening and it would give him a horrible headache if he wasn’t careful. "Asks the most foolish questions of the males, and shuts up and stares at the figures of the women. Honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t fired him for sexual harassment yet."
"Perhaps one day," she said. She placed a hand on his knee. "Perhaps one day you will be chair."
Stannis glanced at her skeptically. ”I doubt it. Robert has a stranglehold on it. Not to mention tenure.”
"Don’t assume you know what the future will hold," Mel repeated. She squeezed his knee and stood up. "I’m going for coffee. Care to join?"
"Excuse me, madam, that’s my chair."
She looks up at him, eyebrows raised.
"You weren’t sitting in it," she says through a grin.
"I got up to use the bathroom. My daughter was watching it for me."
"Well," she looks around, "I don’t see your daughter anywhere. So, you’ll forgive me if I don’t believe you."
Stannis did his best not to let out a huff of frustration. Bad enough that they had been in this damned terminal for four hours, but now he had lost his seat? To this Stepford Wife?
"Madam, my items were on the seat. You moved them to—"
"Oh, these?" She nudged his briefcase with her heeled foot. "I wasn’t sure whose they were, and lord knows they shouldn’t have been left unattended. These are…trying times, after all."
"Madam, I must insist that you move."
"Sir, this seat was empty when I got here, and I’m particularly tired and would like to sit and—"
"Dad?" Shireen had returned. She was holding a bag of chips in her hand.
"Shireen, why did you leave our things unattended?"
"I got a call from Edric," shrugged Shireen. She scooped up her backpack and strode away again, typing into her iPhone. She settled herself on the floor by an outlet and plugged it in, still typing away.
The woman smirked, and waved at Stannis. Grumbling, he bent over, picked up his briefcase and followed Shireen to the outlet.
Well, he certainly wouldn’t sit on the ground.
Ned came back from the fire at Lyanna’s with her son in his arms—an infant boy who looked so like his uncle it was almost uncanny. Cat didn’t bat an eyelash—she just drove down to the center of town and bought another crib.
Ned came home from his tour in the Iron Islands with an eight year old at his side. Theon Greyjoy was taller than Robb, or Jon, but he didn’t mind playing with their clockwork cars and let Sansa and Arya braid his hair, so Cat couldn’t complain, even though she wanted to. Theon had several Uncles he could have gone to, but Ned had to bring him back to Winterfell.
Ned came home from King’s Landing with a thirteen-year-old girl in the passenger seat of his car.
"Her brother was abusing her," he said, "Robert was going to send her into foster care, and I thought…" he quailed before Cat’s raised eyebrows. "Look! We get a stipend for her because she’s a ward of the state! She ran away and has nowhere else to go Cat!"
The girl was in the living room, sitting in a way that just looked compressed—knees together, shoulders hunched, hands clasped together on her lap. Her hair was brushed back into a ponytail and she was looking down at the orange juice stains Rickon had left on the rug.
"She’ll have to sleep in Sansa’s room," sighed Cat.
Ned kissed her cheek, a smile creeping across his long face.
Oh for fuck’s sake, couldn’t she go somewhere else?
“We keep seem to be thrown together, don’t we?” she chuckled.
Ned grunted and kept typing. This was the third day running she’d approached his table, so it wasn’t even a question that she could now. And, at this point, if there were any other tables available, Ned wasn’t sure whether or not she’d actually take the free spot. For all she knew, she thought they were friends.
She emptied her handbag all over the table—nail polish, lip stick, a bible, four empty potato chip bags, six pens, a copy of Pride and Prejudice, a cell phone that looked like a refurbished nineteen eighties computer and—there it was—the laptop.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the laptop. Ned could play the game. Ned knew how crowded The Fiery Heart could get, especially close to exam season. But honestly, that laptop…
It was the laptop that was the problem. More than anything else (though he didn’t know how someone stored so many chips bags in their purse. Was there something wrong with just throwing them out?). The laptop had keys that clacked, and, with her very long, very red nails, every time she typed anything, it was like a percussion ensemble was playing in his ears. That was why he was still at this damn coffee shop working on his damn thesis when all he wanted to do was be hunkering down with Cat and watching some dumb movie she’d picked and letting his brain go to absolute mush because what the fuck did it matter he’d finished his thesis.
But no. It was like he was sitting in the percussion section of some pops orchestra, the unsteady rhythm of her typing driving him slowly madder, and madder, and madder until…
It was worse when she slowed, when she stalled on a thought, because there would be a lull and he would hope that she was going to maybe pack her things and go. But no…he was never so lucky. If he could work in the library, it would be better. Gods, the oppresive silence of the library might be better than this. White noise was white noise, but…
“How’s your progress going?” she asked calmly after forty-five minutes of clacking.
Ned pretended to be very focused, though he’d written about five words since she’d sat down.
When she returned to typing, he put his hands on the keyboard and began typing fake thing, “la di da di da” over and over and over again. Gods, he hoped he remembered to delete that later. He didn’t know what the thesis committee would think if they saw that. Porbably that he’d lost his mind. But, then again, if he explained, maybe they’d understand.
Chapter 57: Arthur & Elia
He could see the Freedom Tower out of his window. It was really quite an ugly building. Much too bright, much too…angular? They could have done something classier with it, made it look less like a lego tower and more like..a sword or something, a sword rising high in the morning. That would have been awesome.
“Come on,” Arthur whines to himself.
He hears a giggle and looks over his shoulder. There’s a woman sitting there with a toddler and a baby. She smiles at him. “We’ll get going when we get going,” she said.
“We’ve been here for—”
“I know,” she shrugged. “But there’s no point worrying about what you’re missing. You are missing it. Would you like to play a game?” she’s holding a deck of cards.
“Momma,” the little girl sitting next to her tugs at her sleeve, “Can we play go fish?”
“Yes, darling, we can.” She looks over at him again. “You can join us, if you like.”
Arthur hesitates, then nods, and she deals him a hand.
“Any frees?” the little girl asks.
“Th. Threes, Rhaenys,” the mother says.
“That’s what I said. Frees.”
Arthur smiles and lays a three down on the seat.
“Got any fives?” he asks.
“Go fish!” exclaims Rhaenys excitedly.
“Where are you going?” the mother asks.
“I’m supposed to be meeting up with one of my college friends,” he sighs, “and then we’re seeing a concert. I’m Arthur, by the way.”
“Elia,” she smiles. “I’m sure they’ll understand. New Jersey Transit just…does this some times,” she sounded dark.
“You take it often?” he asked.
“Of late.” She doesn’t elaborate. But Rhaenys does.
“We’re going to see daddy!” she says happily. “Daddy lives in New York, but we live in Rahway.”
“My…Rhaegar…he, recently moved to the city. And the kids shuold see their father. Any kings?” there’s a hard line to Elia’s jaw as she looks down at her hand.
Newly divorced. Arthur feels suddenly guilty that he’s acted more petulant than her three year old who wants to see her father.
He presents Elia with a king. “My Lady,” he says with a fake British accent, pretending to make the card bow for her.
She smiles at him, the hard line vanishes. “Good sir knight!” she replies, accepting the card, and tucking it into her hand.
“And so I told her that if she was going to come into my house and her brother was going to fuck with my family, she was gone-zo.”
Arianne rolled her eyes. Some assholes didn’t know how to hit on girls. Some assholes had no idea what girls found impressive, and usually hearing about the way you treated your exes…
“I guess that makes sense,” the girl said.
“I know. I mean,” he took a sip of his drink, “She was hot and everything. Like, tits to die for and everything, but she was just really stupid in the end, and like, way too obsessed with her brother. Like, I need to come first, you know what I mean?” The girl saw Arianne roll her eyes again and she widened her own at her.
Well, if that wasn’t a plea for help, Arianne didn’t know what was.
“Hey darling,” Arianne said loudly. “You making friends?” She passed the boy (god, he had spiked the tips of his hair. Ugh!)
“Where have you been?” the girl said at once. She slipped her hand around Arianne’s waist. Arianne didn’t let her eyebrows rise because if the girl wanted to pretend to be her girlfriend to get rid of this asshole, who was she to judge.
“Obara was showing me how to throw a sumo wrestler like a bag of potato chips,” Arianne said. The girl’s brown eyes were black in this light.
“Excuse me,” said the boy angrily, “We were having a conversation?”
“Oh yes. I know. Trying to get my girl in bed, were you?” she raised an eyebrow now. Now was the time to raise an eyebrow, after all.
“Y-your girl?” he asked, eyes flicking between the two of them.
As if to respond, the girl stood on tip toes and pressed a kiss to Arianne’s lips. Her lips were very soft, and she tasted amaretto sour on the girl’s breath.
“My girl,” Arianne said.“Fuck off, asshole.”
Chapter 59: Cat x Jaime
Their train is delayed out of Penn Station. He spies her sitting on the floor, wearing sweatpants and thick framed glasses and looking too thoroughly hipster to be taking a train down to Florida (though why hipsters shouldn’t go to Florida was beyond him. Maybe Disney World was too mainstream?)
She sits down three rows behind him. He’s very tall, and she’s never really had a thing for blonde guys—usually they are arrogant assholes—but there’s something pleasing about the way his butt looks while he’s putting his bag up overhead.
They are stuck in Newark, and he wants to hit his head against something that won’t necessarily break and cause the train to be delayed even further.
They’ve made it to Newark Airport, and an 85 year old woman asks her if she wouldn’t mind moving so she can sit with her granddaughter. And Catelyn, not being an ass, gets up smiling and moves to the only available seat—the one next to the blonde man. His jaw is tight and she can tell that he’s as ticked off at how late fucking Amtrak is running. That is some consolation.
He wakes up with a jerk to find her typing away on a computer. She’s got a music-writing program up on her laptop screen, and big, red noise-canceling headphones on, and seems to be typing into her keyboard as though it were a piano. He wishes for a moment he could read music, to see what’s pouring out of her fingers and onto her laptop.
When she glances at him, he makes a big show of pulling out his iPad to watch another episode of The Newsroom.
It’s just south of DC that she puts the headphones away and closes her laptop, stretching her arms over her head. Her back cracks five times and she sighs in relief.
"That sounds pleasant," he mutters.
She chuckles. ”You have no idea how relieving it is, actually.”
"Doesn’t that cause arthritis?"
"No—arthritis causes arthritis."
They fall into a conversation. She’s going to Disney World for her brother’s birthday celebration, and hates flying. Her name is Catelyn (“Cat—” she says smiling, “I’ve always been Cat. I can never own a cat because it would get confusing.”) She’s a music major at NYU, and lives in Brooklyn and really wants to go to Julliard next year for composition but probably won’t get in and her lips are full and red and dark, and her eyes the kind of blue that Cersei had always wanted growing up.
He misses his sister—he says she’s his twin. She’s in LA trying to model, and he (Jaime—pronounced Jamie, but spelled like the portuguese. His mother had apparently had a portuguese literature obsession) misses her like hell because this is the longest they’ve ever been apart. They’d gone to the same schools all their lives, had taken similar classes, but where Jaime had gone into finance (like his dad had wanted) Cersei had decided to have an adventure.
They’ve crossed into Georgia, and Jaime realizes that his throat is dry from talking and laughing and that the other passengers keep shooting them annoyed glares. He tries to keep his voice down, but then she goes and says something about how her brother used to stick pencils up his nose in fifth grade and get sent to the principal’s office and he lets out a laugh. He doesn’t know when he started playing with the zip of her fleece, just that it’s in his hand and is going up and down and he’s suddenly very aware of how close they’re sitting.
Uncle Brynden’s waiting for her at the train station, and she gives him a big hug. ”Hope you weren’t waiting long,” she says, a broad grin on her face.
"Not too bad. How was the ride down?"
"Good. I met a nice guy," she’s smiling so widely it hurts and Uncle Brynden rolls his eyes and she knows what he thinks. And she doesn’t care.
Cersei’s waiting for him, tan and lovely. When he hugs her, his thoughts are full of Cat and, as if she senses it, Cersei says, “What’s on your mind there, tiger?”
Before he can answer, he sees Cat waving at him. He waves back. Then, raises a finger to Cersei and says, “Just a second.”
"When do you take the train up?"
She grins. He grins back.
Important Sequel from Trebuchettully:
"But Uncle, Curly Straws don’t have the correct aerodynamic qualities. Besides, Cat’s boyfriend thinks they’re cool."
"He’s not my boyfriend Ed he’s just a guy I met on a train."
"He is your boyfriend. You look at his butt all the time."
"Ss-woo. Weheen will we—" he hiccuped, "be boarid—boring—boarding." He hiccuped again.
Beric closed his eye and was very tempted to pinch the bridge of his nose. This man had been drunk for the past two hours. He seemed to have bought a huge bottle of something at the duty-free shops and had no scruples about drinking it all until he got on his flight.
"Sir, I do not yet have any further information as to when we’ll be boarding. There’s some pretty rough weather over the Sea, and no flights are getting in or out of Myr."
The man took another swig of brandy. He began to hum the theme to Watching the Night and Beric was very tempted to begin banging his head against the podium.
He almost did when the man asked, “Wehn is this fuckkking fight—flight—taking out?”
Chapter 61: Rosamund
They tell her it’ll be a game.
She’ll go where Myrcella will go, and they’ll dress the same—in clothes finer than any she’d ever owned—and her hair will be curled, and she’ll be like a sister to the Princess.
They tell her she’ll be safe—her and Myrcella both. They’re with bodyguards. Nothing will go wrong. Everything will be fine.
She knows why she was chosen. She’s not an idiot. She knows if something happens, she’ll end up dead.
Chapter 62: Myrcella x Robb
It was supposed to be simple: get Sansa and Joff to break up.
She and Robb started gchatting about it four months ago, when Sansa had come home drunk and sobbing and Robb had taken out his frustration on the little green dot next to Myrcella’s name.
He hadn’t expected her to agree with him. He certainly hadn’t expected her to suggest that they do their damndest to make Joff unhook his claws.
And he certainly hadn’t expected to sink into the habit of chatting with her every night when he should be doing his Poli-Sci homework, because she had a way of making him laugh and a way of making him think about life.
Sansa and Joff did break up in the end. Sandor Clegane had punched him out in a bar, or something. Robb and Myrcella had had nothing to do with it; they’d been sending puppy videos to one another and wondering what it would be like to talk face-to-face.
She always wants to hide the scar. When they’re out at the movies, she tugs her hood over her head, so that her hair gets forced forward to cover the pockmarks on her cheek. When they’re at school, she wears about six inches of foundation and you can still see the dents in her skin. Or, worse, when she looks at him out of the side of her eyes when they are talking, instead of turning to face him.
He doesn’t even think she’s aware that she does it—that’s what’s the worst about it.
Because it’s not the first thing he sees anymore. He sees bright blue eyes, and thick dark hair and funny ears that make him grin when they poke through her hair. If he thought she’d let him, he’d kiss those pockmarks every day, the way he kisses her lips and neck and chest. But she doesn’t let him. She just does her best to hide them away, and he has to wonder if she’ll ever realize that she’s beautiful—even with the scars.
She tastes like amaretto sour, and he hates that fucking drink because it reminds him of Jeyne, but god, she there’s something else in there too—maybe the beer she’d had before the amaretto sour, or maybe it’s the taste of toothpaste, or maybe it’s just Myrcella.
Her name is Myrcella. He’s not going to forget it this time—because he’s not that drunk this time, and it would be embarrasing to take the same girl home twice and forget her name in a drunken haze both times.
Especially because since when did one-night-stands turn into two-night-stands?
They look like they are sharing secrets Nymeria’s dark head bent down to whisper into Joanna’s ear, and Joanna smirking. And then, unmistakably, she sees Nymeria’s hand reach out and cup Joanna’s breast.
Rhaella gasps and chokes into her champagne.
"Something wrong?" Aerys slurs. He’s not really paying attention though. He’s high—very high, his dark eyes already so dilated they almost seem black. He’s spent the last ten minutes staring at Tywin and Rhaella’s honestly surprised that he noticed anything at all.
"Nothing. Just a cough," she said. She wished her voice didn’t sound so wispy, but she’s still gulping for air.
"Oh. Ok," he mutters. He goes back to his brooding, and Rhaella takes another sip of her wine.
She wants to go over there—to say hello. She should be able to say hello, after all. They’re herfucking assistants. They’re only here because of her. And yet, somehow, she feels unwanted. It’s not a happy thought—not a happy thought at all. She downs the rest of her wine and puts it on the table.
"I’m going to…" but she doesn’t even finish thinking of an excuse. Aerys can’t hear her. He’s too lost in his buzz. So instead, she just goes away, crosses the room, looks for something—anything—anyone who might distract her from the sudden onslaught of loneliness.
It’s a night for champagne—she thinks sadly, watching as couples grind on the dance floor, as people talk and laugh and do shots and throw money into the collection pots. She really should switch to something less…bubbly. She’s not in a mood for bubbly.
She turns to find the bar and some whiskey and walks right into Nymeria.
"Oh—sorry," she mumbles.
"Your Grace!" Nymeria exclaims, grabbing at Rhaella’s arms. "I didn’t notice you."
"No one does," she mumbles. Only alcohol would let her say those words. She hears Nymeria make a tsking noise, and it doesn’t help anything and oh, she just wants to get away from them and their easy friendship, or whatever it was.
"Hardly," says Joanna. Rhaella wishes she didn’t notice the sidelong glance at Nymeria. Nymeria shrugs. "We were just looking for you, actually."
"No you weren’t," Rhaella replies, looking away from them. She wishes they wouldn’t.
"We were,” insists Joanna. She leans forward conspiratorially. ”We were just about to go to bed. Care to join us?”
She can’t have heard that properly. She can’t have. Not in a million years would Nymeria and Joanna…not in a…no, they couldn’t. They didn’t have that kind of a relationship—at least not with her. They giggled and drank and did things together in their free time, and she—she was the queen. She couldn’t just go off and…and…
She looks between them, her eyes wide. Nymeria has one brow arched, and Joanna has a playful smile on her lips. ”Oh,” is all that Rhaella can manage.
"So will you?" Nymeria asks. Her voice is always harder than Joanna’s, like she takes less shit, or gives less shit, but right now, it’s softer than…than…
Rhaella is tired of being the good queen. She reaches out and runs a finger down Nymeria’s arm. Yes, Nymeria’s skin is just as soft as her voice.
They leave together, Rhaella’s heart throbbing in her chest. They take turns kissing in the courtyard as they go, giggling breathlessly as they make their way towards Nymeria’s room.
"Joanna," Nymeria says once they’ve locked her bedroom door, "Don’t you think our lovely queen looks a bit too clothed?" She winks at Rhaella, who begins reaching for the zipper at the back of her dress. "Ah-ah-ah," Nymeria waggles a finger. "Jo can get that."
Joanna circles behind her, and Rhaella feels her breath hot against her skin as she drags the zipper down and lets the dress pool at the floor at Rhaella’s ankle. She feels something warm and wet between her buttcheeks and squeaks. That had to be—that couldn’t be—Joanna’s tongue?
Joanna’s laughing now too. ”I think our queen doesn’t know what a tongue feels like, do you, Nymeria?”
"That can’t be true," Nymeria says—and she sounds as though she believes it. Rhaella’s blush gives Aerys away. "Oh gods, he doesn’t, does he? You poor little lamb," Nymeria reaches out and tweaks her nipples, and a sting of something shoots from the soft flesh down to Rhaella’s… “On the bed with you,” Nymeria commands.
They’re both of them still fully clothed, and she is so very naked, sprawled out on the bed. Nymeria nudges her legs apart and settles down between her thighs, her grin wicked.
"Joanna—take off your dress, dear. I want a view when I look up."
Joanna winks at her and complies, her bra and underwear following the dress. Joanna settles down next to Rhaella, her hands running over Rhaella’s stomach and her lips connecting with her breasts at the same time that Nymeria’s tongue begins to…oh!
She can’t tell if it’s the alcohol, can’t tell if it’s the pair of them, but for the first time since Bonifer, Rhaella feels…happy.
He can safely say that he has no idea how her lesson went. Not a single idea. His notes tapered away after about five minutes, sometime after “good with differentiation” and “needs to rely less on—” less on what god damn it?
Because all he could think about as Myrcella stood in front of the classroom was how well that pencil skirt fit her, and how well, in fact, it showed off the precise curve of her ass. Surely she shouldn’t wear something like that around the children. Surely that was inappropriate. He definitely noticed at least one boy staring while she was writing on the board about…he hadn’t remembered what. The Magna Carta, maybe?
Because fuck—this was hard. Hard pretending not to notice how perfect her ass was in that pencil skirt, how phenomenal that button-down managed to draw attention to her breasts, hard that he couldn’t just shove her against the blackboard and fuck her until there were chalk markings all over her sweater. And he knew—knew—he’d get fired if anyone ever found out about it. It was unprofessional, after all. He would have a bias for her, and how well she did and…damn it he really didn’t have any idea what to put in her evaluation at all. None at all.
Gives excellent blow jobs, he thought for a moment before snorting and shoving the paper away. She did give excellent blow jobs, after all—dropping to her knees in his kitchen and just pulling him into her mouth and sucking as though dinner hadn’t been enough to fill her, she needed his cum too. But that wasn’t the only thing about it. If it were…well, maybe it wouldn’t be so hard. There was something about Myrcella that kept him from compartmentalizing. And he needed to compartmentalize. Because he almost got a hard-on watching her teach.
She was a work of art, Margaery Tyrell. A work of art tied to his bed completely naked--a canvas waiting for him. "Well?" she asks. "What do you have in mind?" Robb smiled. He didn't want to spoil the surprise. He simply ties the blindfold over her eyes, dips his brush into the paint and smiles to himself when he hears her hiss of pleasure as he begins to paint a rose on her nipple.
He doesn’t know what he likes more—the fact that it’s happening or the fact that she’s actually doing it.
It had been a dare. A silly dare, a childish dare. ”Doran wouldn’t notice me getting head under the table if he had laser eye surgery and a sudden epiphany that sex happens outside of the bedroom,” he had snorted to her in bed one night.
"Is that so?" she had asked. He loved the way that the moon illuminated her skin, the way that shadows fell between her shoulder blades and the top of her ass was practically a moon unto itself.
So he couldn’t say he was surprised that she had “gone off to the bathroom” and then, when everyone’s attention was elsewhere, had slipped back in and under the table. (Only Ellaria could slip under the table without anyone noticing. It was beyond him how no one had noticed.)
And now, she was drawing him out of his jeans, and—oh god that was her tongue.
Chapter 69: Brienne & Oberyn
"Long walks along the beach," he said, popping another cookie into his mouth.
"Drunken jello wrestling," she shot back.
"Erotic French films."
"The winter olympics." He didn’t like that knowing look on her lips, like she knew exactly what he watched the Olympics for.
"The summer olympics.”
"Feeling the wind up your skirt when you aren’t wearing anything underneath it."
"Realizing that you are the only one in the movie house."
"Planning it that way."
He couldn’t keep himself from grinning. ”Damn it,” he muttered.”
"I told you I’d win," she smiled. "Now, if you don’t mind—well, you can’t, since you’re buying—I’ll have another Sex on the Beach please."
"Hey Willas what are you doing."
Willas sputtered and almost fell out of his chair, reaching for a towel to cover himself. Not, of course that it would do any good at all. Ugh, and he’d been so close.
"I’m a little busy at the moment, Oberyn," he snapped.
"I can see that," Oberyn smirked, eyes darting between Willas’ flushed face and the obviously tented towel on his lap.
"Would you mind—you know?"
"Oh. Ok." Oberyn crossed the room in three strides and settled himself next to Willas.
"What are you doing?!" Willas practically screeched, his heart thudding in his throat. Oh god, Oberyn wasn’t going to….was he?
"Helping out." There was a definite devilish quality to Oberyn’s grin as he drew back the towel and circled his lips around Willas’ cock.
He knew it was a dream because Stannis was wearing shorts. Short shorts, the kind of shorts one usually saw on roller girls, or Hooters waitresses.
"Do you like them, Davos?" he was asking. He knew he was dreaming because Stannis was smiling.
"I do," Davos replied. He reached out and pinched Stannis’ ass. Stannis raised his eyebrows.
"Is that all you have?" he asked.
"What did you have in mind?"
He knew it was a dream because Stannis’ short shorts disappeared and he was standing there naked from the waist down with a cock stiff and flushed with need.
"I had some other ideas of what you could do with my ass, actually," Stannis said.
"Stannis, I—" and he was awake again, in the dark of his bedroom. The red numbers of his alarm clock glared 3:24 AM, and he had just creamed himself over Stannis Baratheon. Again.
He’s always pushing her up against the wall. She knows he likes it—knows he likes the feeling of having her encased between him and the paint-covered plaster, with the smell of him overwhelming the turpentine and lead that has been in her nostrils most of the afternoon.
"Robb, the paint is still wet," she whimpers, trying to pull her hair out from behind her back. It’s already coated in blue, though, and she rolls her eyes at him.
"Is it? So you mean there’ll be an imprint of you on our living room wall?"
"Robb," she snaps, trying not to go weak at the knees at the idea of it. "Come on." She pushes at his chest, and he laughs lightly.
"We can always paint over it, ‘Cella," His hands are unhooking the straps of her overalls and the top is falling away so that he can shove her tshirt up and grab hold of her breasts. "But I quite like the idea of it."
"My hair," she whines, shimmying out of the legs of the overalls and feeling the cold of the damp paint on the small of her back.
"I’ll wash it for you later. I promise," he breathes into her mouth before he kisses her.
"I’m in this cab."
She exhales smoke in his face and he coughs. ”So?”
"So? I’m in this cab. I’m going home. Right now. You can’t just—"
"Where’s he headed? I’ll split the fare?" she interrupts, turning her attention to the cabby in the front row.
"69th and Central Park West," the cabby replies at the same time that the man sputters "Now hang on a moment, woman."
"Woman?" she asks, raising an eyebrow at him. "Woman?"
"You can’t smoke in here," says the cab driver. She rolls the window down and throws her cigarette out onto the sidewalk. Stannis hears a loud "Hey!" from a passerby, whom, he imagines, has just been struck by the cigarette.
"Can you let me out at Columbus Circle?" she asks the driver.
"I—" he looks confused—as though this has never happened before. She chucks a ten through the window, and leans back against the seat.
Stannis stares at her.
Usually, and he does mean usually, he can tell when someone is off. There’s a look in the eyes, when they’re not quite right in the head. But this woman…she just seems…
"I won’t knife you or anything," she sighs, "I just need to get to my brother’s, ok? I’ll even shut up. You won’t know I’m here."
He stares at her for a good minute, then, realizing the meter is still running, waves the cab forward.
Sansa had been playing the Oboe since she was eight. It was a perfectionist’s instrument, Ms. Mordane had always told her. ”You’ll never carve your reed just right—never. And when you do, you’ll have to live with the fact that it won’t be perfect forever, and then you’ll have to get a new on.”
Sansa loved the Oboe, loved playing those penetrating soloes that no one understands unless they play a double reed. Myrcella always said that she looked like a pufferfish when she played, her cheeks big and pink and round with air that she was pushing through her lips.
Belwas always sat next to her, playing his clarinet. During orchestra rehearsals, when they were warming up and tuning, he always played snippets from the Pink Panther just to watch Sansa smile.
She’d always imagined that someone as big as Belwas would play percussion, or the double base, or at least the cello. But Belwas was always very delicate when he toyed with the keys of his clarinet, and when he and Sansa played together, their intonations were perfectly in line.
Arya’s taken tap dance classes for four years now—ever since she saw Top Hat and decided that she was going to be Fred Astaire when she grew up. She’s always been the best in her class—always. She’s made herself be. Loose of foot, quick, light, easy, flowing—her rhythm is always perfect, her form, to quote Syrio, “a delight.”
She’s always been convinced that she was well on her way to it. That was…at least, until hecame.
Belwas…well, it’s hard to imagine a man so girthy as being so…
"He’s like a cat," she tells Gendry after class. "A really big, really fat cat."
Gendry grunts in agreement, crossing his arms over his chest. ”Aren’t fat cats supposed to be lazy or something, though?”
Arya shrugs. ”I don’t know. I’ve never owned a cat.”
Belwas is definitely a cat. Belwas, who, for all his size, never seems to be aware of it. He dances in a way that Arya had not thought possible, somehow making his fat bounce in a way that is artful. She can’t quite describe it. But it is breathtaking to behold.
And, whenever he lands too heavily, and the floor creaked beneath his feet, he laughs.
"Broadway and Lafayette, please…Oh—I’m sorry—I didn’t see you."
She’s putting on lipstick—red lipstick, red like blood, red like ruby. Her hair is a different shade of red, and her dress is still a third color, and when she glances over at him, red eyebrows slightly raised, he realizes that he is turning red.
"If you’ll split the fare, you can ride with me—I’m going to Chinatown," she shrugs.
For a moment he doesn’t know what to say. Then, there is honking behind him and he slams the door shut behind him.
She smirks at him, and returns to her red lipstick.
It’s within about four seconds of taking her in his arms that he realizes why dances are such a big deal throughout literature.
Sure, grinding at a party is hot and shit, and can lead to some pretty great…yeah…but just barely touching, his hands on her shoulder, on her waist and nowhere to look but her eyes…
They’re so green, her eyes. Green and big. She’s wearing mascara (he can tell) and her lashes frame her eyes and make them look oddly catlike, knowing, somehow.
He wants to look away, wants to because if he stares at her for one second more, he just knows that she’ll notice the way that there’s sweat beading on his upper lip. But he can’t look away. He can’t. Because when you’re only connected by your hands and your eyes, there’s no other option but to just keep dancing.
Chapter 78: Shiera x Brynden
All he ever wanted was me—that’s what he always said. Me me me, always me, only me, forever me. Him and me versus the world, that’s what he said.
How the fuck do you respond to that? Like seriously, how the fuck? I’ve known him all my life, and there’s a lot of shit in his head that doesn’t make sense, and a lot of shit in my head that he thinks he understands when he doesn’t—not even close to it. Does he try and put me in a box like everyone else, and say that it’s because he loves me? Because fuck that shit, and fuck him too.
The funny thing is that I love him, in my weird fucked up way. I am never going to marry him—I’m not sure I’m going to marry anyone, though, because fucking around and living while there’s time is more appealing than a house with kids and a picket fence and yes dear here have some more coffee that I bought fair trade at the the local farmer’s market from some hippie in flannel. I do love him—because it really is in a lot of ways me and him versus the world, and having an ally in that is the kind of good thing that you read about in new age novels where love isn’t the be all and end all because love doesn’t help you survive it helps you endure.
I don’t want to endure—not with him, not with anyone. I want to shine so bright there’s a fucking solar system gravitating around me using me as a source of energy while pathetic little aliens aren’t sure if I am a Goddess or if I am a star. Brynden wants to endure, wants to last, wants to know everything there is to know and fuck people up with that knowledge. I want to go out with a bang.
Chapter 79: Ashara
There was a special kind of sore that happened when she took off her toe shoes and her feet were free again. Adrienne told her it was like sex, but Ashara had never found that to be true. Dancing was the only thing that had made Ashara feel what other people said they felt during sex. Feeling muscles stretching and contracting, feeling her pulse in her neck, her wrists, her knees, her ankles as she comes as close to flying as anyone ever can, perfect precision in the placement of her every vertebra such that, when Brandon held her, it looked like she was dead, limp, boneless, when in reality every bone in her body was exactly where she wanted it. Ashara lived for the thunking of toe shoes on the stage, gentle blocky thuds that added a layer of percussion to Tchaikovsky.
Ashara spent her life in the shadows, in subway stations waiting for the after midnight trains that never seemed to want to come. She wandered up and down platforms, silent earbuds in her ears as she landed each step—first position, second, third, fourth, fifth. If she was truly alone, she would kick her leg up, pull her foot to her head and hold herself there on one foot until the telltale rumble of the approaching subway shook the ground under her feet. Sometimes, she dreamed of what would happen if the subway grumbles caused her to lose her balance—to fall and hit her head against the third rail as the train barreled into the station and crushed the life out of her truly unconscious body.
It probably wouldn’t be so different, she thought whenever she watched the gap between the train and the platform and found a pole in the flat fluorescent light of the subway car, holding on as she leaned as far away as she could, stretching her arms until she thought they would tear open as her body did all it could to drop her to the ground. She died on stage so often, stage lights burning into her skin and the tears of old women ringing through the silence as Brandon or Daemon or Oberyn slowly lowered her so that her neck was at a sickening angle, the sort of angle only a dead girl could achieve because no living girl could possibly have her neck twisted that way and still be alive. She held her breath so that she truly seemed lifeless and did her best to ignore what would happen when she smiled for them at the curtain call, living and breathing. They would celebrate her, the tiny dead girl, the tragic figure, back in the land of the living, smiling in the spotlight, as far from anything could be from alive and well. Did any of them know that the only time that Ashara felt alive was when she danced—that the rest of the time she was just numb?
Joanna hated pre-calculus—hated it. She wanted nothing more than for all algabraic equations to go back to where they came from. Geometry had been fun. And trigonometry had been bearable. But pre-calculus? No. She would never need it, and if she never needed it, what on earth was the point?
Of course, that wasn’t an argument that worked on her teachers. Indeed, when she told that to Mr. Reyne, he simply snorted and said, “Fine. I’ll find you a tutor then,” as if a tutor could solve Joanna’s problems with pre-calc. She wanted to drop the class. Was that so hard? Why couldn’t he just let her drop the class.
Rhaella was a year ahead of her. She’d gotten into MIT, and wore big-framed glasses, and looked (unlike most of the senior class) as though she had showered recently. She’d seen Rhaella around the school for years, of course. It was a small school, and you noticed everyone after a while—especially Rhaella with her white blonde hair and her big, sad, purple eyes. Joanna wondered if Rhaella had noticed her.
"Mr. Reyne said you got a D on your test about Parametric Equations," Rhaella said lazily. Joanna made to fish it out of her backpack, but Rhaella was still talking, "but he’s incompetent. So I’ll just reteach you."
Rhaella was yawning and pulling out a notepad and Joanna couldn’t help feeling that maybe she might pass pre-calc after all.
It felt strange being in love with a poem. He’d tried explaining it to Cersei once. She’d stared at him, as if he were crazy, or drunk, or quite possibly both, and told him that he was probably studying too hard.
But he wasn’t. He knew that. He was in love with a poem. There was no way not to be.
Because she was everything in the world—everything. She was beauty—pristine, untouched by man, innocent, childlike, yet a woman—she was grace and knowledge and honor. He could practically see her when he closed his eyes, garbed like a greek goddess in some sort of pale flowy sheer dress that billowed in the wind over the Adriatic. If the wind was strong enough, the dress would hang flush against her skin and he would see details, the faint shading of her nipples, or the hair over her mound as she stared out with eyes like the sea, watching the waves below.
That was how he knew he was in love with a poem. Because that was how Sansa was described, in words more twisty than any he’d come across in English, immortalized by some unknown poet thousands of years ago with words more beautiful than love. The very mention of her breasts, the very thought of her skin—salty and sunbrowned, he had decided, for how could it not be?—made his heart beat faster, made his mind move more slowly as the blood seemed to shift from throbbing in his neck to throbbing in his cock. That was what it was to be in love with a poem, when reading lines in Ancient Greek made him harder than Cersei did, when words that still lived though the poet had died breathed life into his heart and cock as one—when he dropped his pen in favor of the sword and pretended the warmth of his hand was the warmth of hers and all he could think of as he came was Sansa, Sansa, Sansa…
”This feels unseemly.”
"Oh," she smiled, watching him cross his legs and scowl at her, "it is, I assure you."
"Why are you making me do this?"
"You were the one who wanted a portrait," she pointed out.
"Not like this!" Stannis snapped. "I thought you’d have me gussied up in some sort of fancy military wear or something."
"I like you like this though. Now uncross your legs," she purred. Stannis glared at her, but did as he was told. "Now, stand proudly—like being naked is all you’ve ever done and all you ever will do, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Stare out at the sunset like an admiral observing his ships."
"What kind of admiral observes his ships while completely naked?" demanded Stannis.
"My favorite kind."
He gritted his teeth, and Mel resisted laughing. It was hard not to resist laughing. His arms were crossed over his chest, his cock was hanging there, inoffensively, yet she could tell from his posture that he thought that it’s presence, it’s visibility was the greatest offense he had ever suffered.
"Stand up straighter. More proudly," she prompted.
"I am standing up straight," he snapped.
She stood up and went over to him, gently taking his shoulders in her hands and drawing them back. ”Like this,” she said, running a finger down his spine so that it elongated beneath her touch. Then, for good measure, she squeezed his cock.
"What—What are you doing?" he snapped.
"You seem so wound up. I thought I’d remind you that there’s nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide."
"I’m not wound up."
"You are." She circled around to face him and ran a finger along his neck. "These muscles are so very tense."
"They are not."
"Let me relax them."
"They don’t need to be—ah."
She had sunk to her knees and her mouth had encircled him, her tongue tracing tiny circles against the very tip of his cock. It twitched in her mouth, and she felt his shaft stiffen beneath her hands as she began to run them loosely along his soft skin.
"I thought you said that you weren’t going to take advantage of me," he said as she pumped her head a little and his cock, fully hard now, began to hit her soft pallet.
Melisandre paused. ”Am I taking advantage of you?” she asked, raising her eyebrow. Stannis stared at her for a moment, the setting sun reflected glassily in his eyes. Then he growled and drew her lips back to his cock, rocking his hips back and forth against her face.
When he had cum into her mouth, with a cry if “gods!”, and Mel had finished drinking his seed dry, she repositioned him and went back to her easel.
There, she began to paint him—stern, yet languid.
”Sansa—They’ll see us! It’s a two way mirror!” he yelped as Sansa unbuttoned her blouse. She looked at it, and he saw her grin reflected in the glass as she let the shirt drop to the ground. Willas groaned. She was wearing a blue bra that was made of some sort of frilly, see-through fabric. She winked at him and turned back around and he heard the sound of her unzipping her skirt.
"They’ve all gone home," she shrugged. "Besides—don’t you want to play a little good-cop bad-cop?"
"I’m never going to be able to say that phrase again," he grumbled as she let the skirt fall. Her underwear matched her bra and he definitely felt an uncomfortable tightness in his pants.
"Good," she teased. She crossed the room and hopped up on the table in front of him. "I like to make an impression on you."
It was definitely the fact that her breasts—pale, lovely, smooth—were right in his face that made him loosen his tie and begin unbuttoning his own shirt. It was definitely that little smirk, and the way she drew her fingers over the top of the bra, tugging it down slightly so that he could see the tops of her nipples (dusky pink so unlike the pale blue) that made him undo his belt and begin tugging his pants down. He winced at the movement; he’d never tried taking them off in his chair before. Usually he didn’t have to worry about the constricted space of the arms.
"That’s enough," Sansa said gently, scooting off the table and bending down to kiss him. "We don’t need much more than that, do we?"
"Sansa—I don’t think we can do this in my chair," he said dryly.
"Then let me help you onto the table," she said, and he found her hands firm under his armpits, helping him stand, guiding him, his pants slipping further down his legs, so that he was now sitting on the interrogation table—exactly where Sansa had just been herself.
She smirked at him, and bent down quickly, removing her underwear, and unhooking her bra one handed. Then she was climbing up, straddling him on the table, her lips millimeters from his as he felt warm and wet engulf him and his eyes rolled into the back of his head.
He didn’t know what in the world he had done to deserve Sansa Stark. And if they weren’t fired for this tomorrow morning, he’d have to figure out a way for them to do it again.
Her hands were trembling as she put the electric cigarette to her lips. (Lucky—that they made them electric now. She didn’t think she could ever touch a lighter again.) She inhaled, feeling nicotine calming her blood, willing it to still her heart and calm her nerves, because this was all too much—all much too much. She hadn’t felt this nervous—not in years, not since she had walked down the aisle in that church in Bayonne and had taken his hand.
"Ma’am, you can’t smoke in here," said one of the attendants. She ignored him and inhaled a second time, holding her breath as long as she could. God, she hadn’t smoked in ages—god she had needed a cigarette for years and how hadn’t she realized it? It was so obvious to her now that she should have been smoking this whole time. She hadn’t smoked since she’d gotten pregnant with Rhaegar and—
They brought him in. His hair was short, his beard shaved off and he looked almost like a little boy. When he stared at her, there was a vacancy in his deep violet eyes, the sort that he’d had after nightmares when they’d grown up. His arms were wrapped around himself, encased in white canvas and for a moment, she wondered if he recognized her. Then—
"Where the fuck did that clown come from?"
Stannis looked up from his newspaper. Asha was staring out over the lawn, wearing—he noticed only then—his bathrobe and drinking out of the mug Shireen had given him for Father’s day the year before. It had a ring of dancing lobsters on it and said, “You are my Maine Man” on it in some garish red font.
"What clown?" he asked. He didn’t like it when people interrupted his reading of the newspaper, and had been known to hang up on Davos when he called between the hours of nine and ten on weekends.
"That one," Asha gestured towards the window and he shifted slightly, craning his neck to see if he could see what she could see.
There was a clown lying face down on the ground in a rainbow wig and ridiculous silk pantaloons.
Stannis blinked at it, then rolled his eyes. ”Oh for crying out loud, I hope he hasn’t drowned in his own vomit.” He stood up, and left the kitchen angrily. The springtime air was pleasant as he crossed the lawn and crouched down next to the clown. ”Excuse me, sir. Excuse me.”
"Wha?" The clown shifted his head and in a moment of horrible recognition, he saw.
"Don’t speak so loud, my friend," said Salladhor.
"Who’s Salladhor?" Asha had come out behind him.
"Davos’ college roommate," said Stannis.
"What’s he doing here?" Asha asked.
"There’s no need to speak so loudly," said Salladhor, wincing and turning his face back into the grass, undoubtedly because the dark earth provided a better protection from the sun in his eyes.
"Well?" Stannis asked.
"It was—there was a—I think it was—yes—it was—a birthday party."
"And you were the clown?" Asha asked.
"You’re dressed as a clown?"
Salladhor didn’t open his eyes, but he did reach down and touch his pants, then reach up and touch the giant rainbow wig on his head. Then he started to laugh. And he just kept on laughing, and for a moment, Stannis thought he had gone completely mad.
"We can’t keep meeting like this," he said dryly.
"Why Mr. Baratheon," Sansa said, pressing her hand to her heart and feigning shock, "are you flirting with me?"
"A sidecar," he said slipping onto a bar stool and pulling out his blackberry.
"Coming right up," said Sansa, and she busied herself preparing the drink.
He came in at least three times a week, usually grumbling about one thing or another. The other bartenders didn’t like him. He tipped poorly and usually made rude comments if his sidecars (he always ordered sidecars) weren’t mixed to his satisfaction. But he was never that way with Sansa. He was positively polite to Sansa, which for him was the rough equivalent of being openly and passionately in love. No one knew how she did it, except Sansa. Sansa was good at being what people wanted her to be. She just was—it came second nature to her.
"Damn it all," he muttered, staring at his phone.
"What is it?" she asked popping a thin red straw into his tumbler and putting it on a coaster in front of him.
"My brother is being incompetent again," he said, picking up his drink and sipping it.
"They do that sometimes, don’t they?" she thought of Robb and shook her head.
"Some more than others. Damn it all, I told Robert—no. I am going to enjoy my drink and not think about my brother’s idiocies."
"That’s the spirit!" Sansa grinned.
Mr. Baratheon raised his eyebrows at her. “Did you just crack a joke?”
"Yes. At your expense. What are you going to do about it?"
He lifted his glass and took a drink, but Sansa was quite convinced she saw his lips quirking upwards.
"Hey, have you seen the…? Oh."
Jon was blushing, the girl was blushing and clutching her towel around her.
Robb, on the other hand, was shrugging and rubbing shaving cream on his face. ”Have I seen the what?” Robb asked.
"I was going to ask for the dustbuster, but I can ask later."
"It’s in my room, but you might not want to go in there just yet," Robb said out of the side of his mouth as he ran a razor over his cheeks. "Also, Jon—Roslin. Roslin—Jon. Jon’s my half-brother. Roslin’s my…" Robb’s ears went red, and Jon could tell that he was blushing under his shaving cream.
"Lay," said Roslin cheerily. She sat down on the edge of the bathtub and crossed her legs. It was only then that Jon realized that Roslin’s hair was completely dry.
"I—what? Oh. Hi," Jon said.
Roslin laughed. ”You know, Robb, I didn’t think your brother would be so easily shockable, given what went on last night.” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively. Jon suddenly felt very warm.
"My brother sleep with headphones," shrugged Robb, throwing water on his face an wiping away the last bits of shaving cream. He went over to Roslin and bent down so that his face was right in front of hers. "That good?"
She reached up and ran a finger along his cheek. ”That’ll do, I think,” she grinned.
"Bye, Jon," said Robb.
Jon scrunched up his face and fled, hearing the sound of the water turn on and what was undoubtedly a giggle, and a groan.
The hardest part about visiting hours ending was that Bran didn’t want to be alone. Hours ticked by slowly in the hospital, and the building didn’t get good television channels and mom didn’t bring him the books he wanted to read. So he just sat there, waiting to sleep, waiting for food, or for a nurse to come and check on him and bring him dinner, or help him to the bathroom.
He hadn’t liked his first nurse, a woman who was a thousand years old and who smelled like butterscotch candies. But he liked the new one.
Jojen was in his twenties, just out of a nursing program and always seemed to know what Bran needed before Bran even asked.
"I don’t like my apple sauce," Bran said.
"Well, it’s a good thing those apples died for you," Jojen replied cheerily, swiping the apple sauce and putting it in the pocket of his scrubs.
"Are you flirting with me?" Jojen had teased when Bran had given him the apple sauce the next day.
"Perhaps," Bran had replied, leaning back against his pillow and raising an eyebrow in what he intended to be a jokey way. But when Jojen leaned down and kissed him on the forehead, he felt suddenly a little less lonely and broken and his breath caught in his throat.
"Well, now I’ll never unsee that," Stannis grumbled.
Melisandre smiled, and took a sip of her wine. ”And you say that I have no power over you,” she teased. ”I have a powerful—great and terrible. I can make you imagine Davos dressed as Santa Claus. And don’t you dare try and tell me that it’s not a delightful image. He even has the beard for it. Why would you even want to unsee it?”
Stannis made another grumbling noise deep in the back of his throat.
It was a fun image—he had to confess. Davos, in a red suit, stuffed with a pillow in the front to make him more festively plump—presents for Shireen delivered with a jolly chuckle and a pat on the head….
"You’ve got a look on your face," said Melisandre.
"It’s nothing," he said, shaking himself.
"It’s not nothing." It was her turn to grumble now.
But Stannis hardly cared. He was already planning, strategizing how best to get Davos to dress up as Santa at Christmas.
Chapter 90: Stannis x Melisandre
"Can we pretend I didn’t just say that?" Stannis felt his face going red. He couldn’t believe those words had come out of his mouth. It was like he was twelve again, and unable to talk to the girls on the playground who always hogged the swing set and always made fun of him because he was so gangly.
She smiled, red lips widening across her face. ”I don’t think so,” she said, raising her wine to her lips. He watched the way her throat moved as she swallowed the drink down. ”What are you looking at?”
"Your necklace," he said lamely, only realizing as he said it that the red pendant was nestled right between her breasts. He winced.
She laughed. ”You know, you could have pretended you were at least quoting The Doors. Then I would give you a little more leeway with this.” She reached down and fingered the pendant, bringing it up so that he could actually see the red gemstone and the way that it refracted light around the bar. ”You’re cute,” she said. ”But you’ve got a way to go in terms of refining your game.”
"I’m Stannis," he said, extending a hand. "Stannis Baratheon."
"Melisandre," she replied, taking his hand and oh, how warm her fingers were, and the light in her eyes made his stomach tie itself in knots.
On down days, on days when Sansa cried so much her skin turned blochy and her eyes were ringed with red, she would take a shower, paint her face, put on a black dress that was slinky up top but had a flowy circle and go to the jazz club around the corner from her apartment. She would order a whisky on the rocks, listen to the sound of bass, and drums, and piano, and wait, elbows on the hardwood of the bar, watching the gentle flow of the room. She never had to wait too long.
She didn’t know his name, but he was by far the best dancer she’d ever encountered. And—more importantly—he was the only dancer at this club who didn’t let his hand drift too far down her back. He steered her with perfect ease, perfect grace, holding her body flush to his, but never once in a way that made her feel uncomfortable.
There was something so seductive about dancing with him. He was quietly confident, and his blond hair was always clean and smelled of mint. His eyes were a dark, purply blue and they moved so smoothly with one another and she knew when they danced, people watched and signed up for dance lessons.
Once, when she’d come here with Mya, Mya had been shocked on her behalf. She and he had danced a blues dance, their bodies closer together than sin, his heartbeat pulsing through his fingers into hers, their breath mingling together, and for just a few minutes, so long as the clarinetist had her way, Sansa felt closer to this man than if they were naked together in bed. And Mya had seen that, had asked how Sansa had never asked his name, how it was that she’d never once tried to bring him home, or spoken about him at all.
But he wasn’t like that. He and she danced together in perfect understanding, and to Sansa—moving in tandem in one another’s arms was bliss.
She learned his name quite by accident, and almost wished she hadn’t.
"What’s your name?" she heard the bartender ask when he ordered his drink. She was looking at him with wide brown eyes and a coy smile that made Sansa’s heart stop.
"Ned," he said, grinning back at her and Sansa closed her eyes, missing her father and wishing desperately she hadn’t heard at all. Things were better than a dream when she was in ignorance, but knowing he was Ned—there was no going back from that. Not at all.
And, as if he had known she now knew his name, he asked the one that was so obviously on his mind.
"What’s your name?"
It was whispered into her ear, so that his breath blew hot across her skin, and she felt goosebumps break out across her skin.
"Sansa," she replied, and she knew that nothing would ever be the same. It made her remarkably sad—for what it had been had been so perfect. And what it would be—she was scared to think about.
"Sansa." He said it as though it were a prayer, and when he twirled her, she felt as though she would keep spinning forever, faster and faster until she lost her balance and fell, because there was something so terrifying about him knowing her name—about her knowing his, because somehow it made him real and not just the person that Sansa danced with when the world was too much.
She did stop spinning, though, and she was back in his arms again, her left leg twined around his right as he held her perfectly still. His eyes were so soft, his hands were firm in hers, but gentle—so gentle—and as the song came to a close, drummer hitting the cymbal over and over so that it rang through Sansa’s head, she felt something that was so alien she almost didn’t recognize it, was almost scared to recognize it.
Something remarkably like trust.
Myrcella had always had a crush on him. He knew that. He wasn’t an idiot. He saw the way she blushed and only looked at him when he wasn’t looking at her, because if he looked at her she would drop whatever she was holding.
It had been stupid, really. She was nice enough, sure, but she was so obviously Myrcella—the daughter of Dad’s best friend, and whenever she was around, her obnoxious shit of a brother was there too, and being in the same room as Joffrey made his blood boil most of the time.
And then he’d gone off to college and he hadn’t seen her, and then he’d gone off to grad school, and he’d only caught snippets of her from Sansa or Arya, who kept in better touch with her and then suddenly, when he was least expecting it, he found her again.
He was sitting in the park, running his hands through his hair so that it was standing on end, his Master’s thesis refusing to grow in length, despite his best effort, and he had the distinct feeling that he was being watched.
And when he looked up, he saw a girl with huge dark sunglasses staring at him with a smirk on her face that made him wonder precisely what she was staring at.
And when she removed her sunglasses, he saw that it was Myrcella, sweet little Myrcella, winking at him and staring at the way his tshirt encased the muscles of his chest and he suddenly wondered why it had been so long since he’d seen her.
"Careful—" she grabbed his shirt just in time. Instead of falling down the steps—dark as it was, he hadn’t seen them, even with his flashlight—he flailed for a moment before stumbling backwards. He would have knocked her to the ground if she hadn’t been prepared.
"Sorry!" he yelped, pulling away from her and straightening his bottlecap glasses. Even in the dark yellow glow of the flashlights, she could tell he was blushing. "I don’t—I didn’t see it. And—Sorry."
She smiled and brushed a loose lock of hair out of her face. ”It’s all right. No damage done. Which I couldn’t have guaranteed if you’d fallen down the stairs.”
"No—probably would have broken my neck, knowing me," he muttered.
"Are you two coming?" she heard Brienne calling from up ahead. "We’re almost at the antechamber and I want a full four hours before we make the trek back upstairs."
"Right," Sansa yelled at the same time that Podrick yelled, "Coming!"
Hyle made an uncouth guffaw and it was Sansa’s turn to blush.
Neither of them moved. Neither of them looked at one another. They just stood there, blushing until they heard Brienne call for them again and, realizing they hadn’t taken a single step, banged into one another in their haste to catch up.
Pod screwed up is face, closing his eyes as Clegane opened the sarcophagus. He heard the grumble of sandstone, unmoved for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years, felt the air shift in the room as a smell unlike anything Pod had ever smelled before—worse by far than rotten eggs—filled his nostrils.
"Where the fuck is it?"
Pod opened his eyes and stared at the empty sarcophagus.
"Where is she? She’s supposed to be in here? Where’d she go? Who got her?"
Pod stared numbly at the gaping hole, his stomach sinking. They’d been looking for the entryway into this tomb for days, trying to find the mummy of Queen Sansa, but she was gone. What were they supposed to do now? What would they tell the department chair once they got back to the University?
Clegane was bending over the stone, sniffing as if he were a dog, running huge fingers over the rock. Pod didn’t know what he was looking for—what he could possibly hope to find until he stopped suddenly, stiffening.
"What is it?" Pod asked, his voice sounding small, even in this tiny, echo-y chamaber.
"The Mockingbird got here first. Shit. He grave-robbed her."
Pyp hears a lot of things. He’s always had good hearing. Jon says it’s because of his ears. So he notices—notices everything he hears—notices maybe a little more clearly than usual, actually, since adrenaline is pumping through him and his normally abysmal eyesight is suddenly clear.
He hears the sound of their feet against the pavement, the cars splashing through puddles, the windshield-wipers going at full force because it’s raining so hard. He hears each drop of rain on the storm drains overhead, the rush of water down into the sewer system, sirens—more insistant than all the rest—several blocks back and getting closer.
But most of all he hears his own breath—his and Grenn’s as they sprint, trying to find Jon’s car in the darkness, when all cars look the same. He hears Grenn’s quiet cursing—more nervous than usual—and it makes him run a little faster.
"Robb’s so kind—and tall. The tall’s important."
"Your real life prince charming. And Jon looks like he could be riding a motorcycle."
"Your dad would kill you if you rode a motorcycle.”
"A girl can dream."
Chapter 97: Rhaella
She avoids New Jersey whenever she can--hell she avoids the West Side because she doesn't even want to look at it anymore. There are some things in life that you should steer clear of with every fiber of your being and for Rhaella, that is Bayonne. She doesn't let Viserys go on play dates to Medieval Times, doesn't take Daenerys to Six Flags, refuses to go to Rhaegar's concerts in Jersey City. She can't go back--refuses to.
The corner of Houston and LaFayette has a lake in front of it it’s raining so hard, and there is not a cab in sight. Shireen stares forlornly down at her shoes. They are completely ruined, and she had liked them. She’d gotten them on sale for thirty five dollars, down from over three hundred. That was the good thing about having small feet. You could get the sale shoes in your size.
Aegon is standing on the other side of the little lake, trying to see if there are any cabs coming north on LaFayette, but she can tell from the bitter look on his face that there’s nothing.
"We could try the subway again," she calls.
"I said we could try the subway again!" she calls.
"At this point, we’ve committed to a cab," he replies, and she hears strain in his voice, determination, that sound of god damn it, I soaked my shirt through already for this I am not giving up just yet.
She sighs. She doesn’t dare open her purse to reach for her phone. It’s probably the only thing that’s truly dry, leather keeping rainwater out, so instead she squints down Houston and—
“Aegon! Behind you!”
There it is, the top illuminated after just dropping off passengers across the intersection. Aegon runs for it and grabs the door just as someone else hurries towards it. She sees him getting into an argument, even as she does her best to skirt the little lake, fails, and feels the horrible squelching sensation of water sinking even further into the soles of her shoes.
"Is there a problem?" she asks mildly when she reaches the cab. The man Aegon is arguing with glowers down at them. He’s tall, and looks like her uncle Robert, though, and she can’t quite bring herself to be intimidated. Instead, she crosses between him and Aegon and gets into the cab. A moment later, Aegon slides in afterwards, grinning, and gives the cab driver each of their addresses. Then he sinks back into the seat.
"You are soaking," Shireen laughs. There’s water rolling off his skin, and some of the wet from his shirt is dripping down the leather seats of the cab.
"Yeah, well," he sighs. "Fuck—fuck this weather."
"Thanks for splitting a cab," she says.
She wants to lean over and kiss him. She’s wanted to all night, really, and the way that his shirt is clinging to his chest now, and the way his hair has curled in the rain…but Shireen knows she’s not the type of girl who guys want to kiss in the back of a cab. She never has been, not with the scars on her face. So she turns away from him and listens to the sound of the rain hammering down on the top of the cab, the windshield wipers swiping and squeaking on the glass.
And she hears the slight smack of his shirt peeling away from the leather seat and feels his hand tentatively on her shoulder. She turns to look at him, and he’s so close, with his dark eyes that look like they’re purple even though people don’t actually have purple eyes. He’s very close—she could kiss him, she really could, kiss those lips that are so full and wet from the rain and—
She feels warm, and his hands are in her hair and he makes a small moan when she pushes her tongue into his mouth. He tastes like tomato sauce and wine from the italian food they’d just eaten, and she hopes there is traffic on the FDR Drive because this—this she wants to last forever.
Chapter 99: Grenn x Pyp
The whole point of a one night stand was that you fucked and then never saw each other again. That was the point. That was why Grenn had taken him home—even though he was a bit twinky and had really big ears. Grenn had bottomed, and had made him a good breakfast the next morning, kissed him goodbye and had thought that would be the end of it.
Except it wasn’t.
Because he saw him on the train every morning now—every damn morning. And he wondered vaguely if he had known it was Grenn when they’d gone home, if he recognized him from the twenty minutes spent sitting and reading the newspaper, or fiddling with their phones on their way to work.
Every damn day, there was a smile, and a good morning, and his ears went red and Grenn’s stomach would lurch because he remembered how those ears had gone red when he’d asked if Grenn minded being topped.
It wasn’t that Grenn was opposed to it—it had been good sex, and he certainly seemed nice enough. It was just…this wasn’tsupposed to happen with one night stands. And if it was, you were at least supposed to remember his name, right?
December 24, 1914
"And this is my younger sister," Ned says in heavily accented French. He pulls out the photograph and shows it to him. Lyanna is smiling, her hair done up in a bob. The photograph had been taken in Berlin just before they had declared war, right when her engagement to Robert had been announced. She was smiling a coy smile—the sort of smile that meant she was definitely hiding something.
The Frenchman smiles.
"She is beautiful," he says. "Very pretty." He rolls his rs the way many did in the South of France. Ned wonders where he hails from. "This is my sister. My Elia." He produces a photograph. Elia is pretty as well. She has the same olive skin as the Frenchman, and the quiet sort of strength that Ned’s own mother had had.
"Lovely," he replies. "Very lovely."
The soldier smiles down at the photograph before tucking it away again. Then he reaches for the bottle of champagne he and his compatriots had brought out into No Man’s Land. ”You want some?”
The man pours some of the champagne into Ned’s empty canteen, before raising the bottle. There is something empty in his expression as he does so, something sad and hard, and even before he says the words, Ned remembers that the day after tomorrow, they will be firing on one another again.
Chapter 101: Theon & Jon
Theon was thirteen the first time he smoked. He and Asha had found Rodrik’s stash under his mattress and stolen it because Rodrik was a bit of a bastard anyway. He didn’t know if Asha had smoked before, but didn’t want to ask her in case she made fun of him. She certainly seemed to know what she was doing as she rolled up the joint that they split in the bike shed behind their house. It was where Rodrik and Maron always smoked, so no one would notice.
Theon liked it. He liked the sensation of being acutely aware of every shape and color in front of him, of how dry the air felt in his mouth. And that was it.
He got Robb to try it with him two years later. Robb was a giggly sort of high, and only really wanted to go to Chipotle the entire time, even though Theon—old hat at that point—knew better than to let either of them out in public like that. So instead, they microwaved some nachos and ate them, knowing nothing would ever taste that good ever.
He was happy—sharing that with Robb. Happy, because as time had passed, Robb had gone into all the advanced classes and Theon hadn’t, and Theon was stuck in the normal-track classes with Jon, who was surly and didn’t laugh at Theon’s jokes.
When he was sixteen, Robb dragged Jon along with them, and only when Jon’s grey eyes were bloodshot and he was unable to stop giggling because the air just tasted weird did Theon think that maybe—maybe Jon would warm up to him at last.
And he did…sort of.
He wasn’t curt, at least, and sometimes he offered to pair with Theon for group work in pre-calc. But he was never as friendly as he was with some of the others in their class—Grenn, and Pyp, and Sam who should have been in the advanced classes but whose Dad didn’t feel like shelling out the extra money for the textbooks, and Theon couldn’t help but think that the only reason that Jon put up with him was because he was the one providing the pot.
All according to plan—all careful, all according to plan. That’s what Doran tells him. Don’t fuck it up, Oberyn, don’t fucking fuck it up, we only have the one shot and if you don’t—if you don’t—but don’t fuck it up. It all needs to go according to plan.
So he won’t fuck it up—won’t let it get fucked up as he watches Lannister get out of the cab outside his house, watches as he casts a glance over his shoulder, watches as he adjusts the lapel of his jacket so that no one will recognize him, so that no one will see him going in. All according to plan. Doran plans things so carefully, so very carefully, and here he comes, the Lion into the den of snakes and he’ll not come out alive.
The doorbell rings, and Oberyn opens it, pulling a confused expression onto his face.
"Hello?" he asks.
"I’m looking for—oh. I’m…I’m sorry. I must have the wrong address." He turns quickly, and Oberyn asks,
"Where are you looking for?"
"I was told that I could find…" he pauses, his eyes narrowed. "But, she can’t be here. She won’t be here. Forgive me."
He’s already mistrustful, and Oberyn needs to get him inside, needs to close the door on him. ”Won’t you come in at least? It’s chilly. While you call another cab.” The voice doesn’t sound like his. It sounds mild. It sounds like Elia.
"If—if you don’t mind," he says, and he comes inside, and Oberyn shuts the door, and when the lock clicks, he smiles.
It’s not like it was supposed to happen that way. He’d had a condom on and everything, for Christ’s sake. And yet there was a little pink strip on the wand in her hand and oh fuck her mother would kill her, she wasn’t even out of school yet, and she had to pick a goddamn thesis topic and—
She knew there was a Planned Parenthood just across from the bio building. She’d gone with Weasel once to drop off some pamphlets about campus sexual health. She could just…go. But did abortions cost money? Or were they free? Or were they covered by university health insurance? She had no idea.
And wasn’t it possible to get a false positive on tests like this anyway? Wasn’t it possible to like..she wasn’t sure. She remembered seeing something about false positives in Juno, when Juno had learned she was…
Shit, she was pregnant, wasn’t she? There was an actual baby growing inside her and all those dark and hidden thoughts she’d kept away from herself about how she’d never have a family of her own because why would she—who would want one with her…all of those sort of faded away with the simple knowledge that this was suddenly all very real.
She pulled out her phone and stared at the screen blankly. She had Aegon’s number, of course. She’d gotten it because he’d been a good lay and she hadn’t realized just how hard midterms would hit her and had thought maybe they’d hook up again. He hadn’t texted her, and she hadn’t texted him, and fuck she couldn’t just not tell him. That wasn’t something you did. And especially…
So she drew up his contact information—the grinning profile picture that facebook automatically populated on her phone and sent the single word coffee? (Was she allowed to even drink coffee? Fuck.)
She waited with baited breath, as if he’d reply immediately. He could be in class, or he could be in the library, or asleep, or fucking someone else now, for all she knew. But still she stare at her phone and a moment later, a text arrived.
Sure. Starbucks on High in ten?
"Almost there," Meera breathes, the flathead screwdriver between her teeth.
"Hurry up," Arya hisses, casting another glance down the hallway. There’s no one coming, she knows, and she’s sure that Jojen’s data looping on the security tapes has their asses completely covered, but she shifts her grip on her gun anyway. "We don’t have much time."
"Hands—report," comes Bran’s voice in her ear.
"Working on it," Meera replies into her mouth piece.
"You have five minutes," Bran says. He sounds edgy.
"Don’t worry, Head, we’ll be fine," says Arya, more confidently than she feels as she watches Meera continue to fiddle with the lock.
"Five minutes," Bran repeats. "Or the legs’ll leave without you."
"They won’t," Arya mutters, but she knows Bran won’t respond.
Arya hears a click, and starts, looking around. ”Got it!” Meera whispers. The glass case has swung open, and she takes the red gem between her fingers. ”It seems so small.”
"Yeah—but it’s powerful, so be careful. Let’s get out of here." Arya mutters. Meera closes the case again and locks it, then they’re running down the hallway.
"Legs—come in," Arya says into her headpiece.
"Took you long enough," Jon mutters lazily.
"Up yours. We’re on our way."
"Ma’am, do you have any idea how fast you were going?" She smiled up at him.
Wait—she wasn’t supposed to do that. She was supposed to lie, and say her speedometer was broken, or say that it was a moment of weakness, and sit there all nervous because of his uniform. She wasn’t supposed to be grinning broadly up at him because he’d caught her going over one hundred miles an hour on the interstate.
"Ma’am, the state speed limit here in New York is fifty five miles an hour," Quentyn said, pushing on, despite his discomfort.
"I know," she said happily.
"You were going double that."
"Literally double that."
"Ma’am, that’s one hell of a speeding ticket I have to give you." Why was his voice squeaking? His voice wasn’t supposed to squeak. He was supposed to be the voice of reason, the voice of the law, the voice of civil duty and service. His voice was not supposed to squeak.
"And it’s worth every penny."
He went back to his squad car to record her license and registration. He was not surprised when he saw the number of speeding tickets on her file. ”She’s going to lose her license,” he muttered to Gerris.
"Her problem, not yours. She’s a maniac and shouldn’t be allowed on the road."
"Yeah, but…yeah." He didn’t look forward to telling her that they were going to suspend her license. Maybe he’d make Gerris do it.
"I’m getting 4.958," Sansa said, staring at the numbers on her calculator.
"Wait—what?" Brienne’s forehead scrunched and she craned her neck, to get a look at Sansa’s work. She caught a waft of Sansa’s perfume, something fruity, or floral—sweet. Gentle. Ladylike.
"I’m getting 4.958," Sansa repeated. Brienne reached a finger down and traced the work on Sansa’s page.
"And you factored out the—"
"Yeah. And I divided by—"
"Right. Yeah. I see that."
Brienne frowned. ”That just makes no sense.”
"Nope," Sansa agreed, a frown catching the corner of her lips. It was a delicate frown, and much softer than Brienne’s.
They stared at Sansa’s workbook, as though expecting it to magically make sense, and down the row, they heard Jaime and Hyle getting into an argument about football.
Then Sansa hit herself in the forehead. ”Kelvin!” she exclaimed. ”Gods—I’m stupid. I never switched out of Kelvin.” And she let out a laugh and typed the numbers into her calculator again.
"That’s a relief," Brienne said, watching as numbers that made much more sense flashed across the screen.
Sansa set about writing the information in her lab notebook, and Brienne did her best not to think about what would have happened if they’d had to stay late, redoing the whole lab assignment.
Myrcella wondered about her librarian. (She wondered about a lot of things.) She wondered what had made her want to become a librarian, what sorts of books she read for pleasure, if she was worried that the public libraries were increasingly underfunded. She wondered what her favorite book was, what her favorite genre was, how many books she had read, how many books she had reread, if she finished every book she started. Myrcella wondered if she fell in love with characters the way Myrcella did, if she imagined she was a princess in a distant land, with a love who didn’t care about the scars on her face.
The librarian had a scar too—hard flesh on the side of her face. She had both her ears, though, and wore her hair in a high pony tail as if daring the world to stare at her scar. Myrcella hid hers as best she could beneath her golden curls, hid the hole where her ear should be and the grizzled scar on her cheek. Myrcella wondered how she had gotten the scar in the first place, but she had learned not to ask from the sitter that mom had gotten for her and Joff before Tommen was born, who had snarled when he had caught her staring.
So she said nothing in the end, though she wanted to. Said nothing except how excited she was to finally get her hands on the new Terry Prachett and let the librarian know that she would definitely tell her what she thought.
"And your sure the age thing isn’t a problem?" Elia asked quietly as Daario crossed the living room, the arms cut off his t-shirt and his blue dreads tied together on the back of his head. Daario was at least ten years younger than he was, and Elia didn’t like it.
"He’s cool, Elia," Oberyn said soothingly.
"I might bring someone home," Daario called as he reached the front door. "You’re welcome to join if I do." And he was gone.
Elia’s eyes were practically bugging out of her head.
"Like I said—he’s cool," shrugged Oberyn, because it really was the only way to react. Let Elia and Doran have sticks up their butts. He liked that he and Daario could walk around the house naked and share sex partners without the shadow of a doubt that it was all right.
Ned’s rounding the corner a little faster than he should be when he feels something warm collide with him. He hears a gasp, and a thunk as a stack of books falls to the ground.
"I’m sorry," he says, before he even turns around.
She’s sitting on the floor, looking mildly dazed. He’d guess—from the haggard expression, the thick glasses, and the sheer quantity of books—that she’s a PhD student. ”It’s all right,” she mutters. ”I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.” She’s very pretty—in a ‘I probably last saw the light of day before you were even born’ sort of way. Her brown eyes are dull, though he suspects that’s more from sleep deprivation than a boringness of character.
Ned crouches and helps her gather the books.
"What are these for?" he asks.
"Philology," she sighs. "You don’t even want to know more than that."
He chuckles, as she stands, and he stacks the books back on her arm.
"Thanks," she says.
"Least I could do."
And she’s off, the books teetering in her arms and he wonders what her name is.
He shouldn’t be as turned on as he is—she’s hot, that’s for sure but she’s like…sixteen years younger than him? Hell, he has kids who are closer in age to her than she is. Not that he can admit to those kids—and he really shouldn’t even think of them as “his”—that’s what Cersei says. What if he lets something slip?
Anyway—he shouldn’t be as turned on as he is. It’s the makeup, he says—they’ve dusted makeup onto the top of her breasts to make them look more…breasty. And they’ve darkened her lashes so that those violet eyes—real violet eyes, like Liz Taylor’s, not like those fake-ass shit contact lens purple that he sees on bus stop ads—really pop out at him.
Her hair’s blonde too, and he’s always liked blondes. He’s sure that’s because of Cersei. But Dany’s hair is more silvery than gold, and her features are…he can’t describe it, but it’s that sort of beauty that’s had her rise to fame so quickly, even though she’s only been in like one movie.
He’s sure this movie will be a box office hit. He’s sure of it. What with his longstanding career and her raw talent and ethereal beauty…not to mention the chemistry…god he shouldn’t be as turned on as he is.
When she opens her eyes, she knows what love is. Love is this—looking into the face of a woman so beautiful she could be an angle, with hair like spun gold and eyes as green as grass.
"Catelyn? Can you hear me?"
"Huh?" Catelyn asks. She had been too distracted by the woman’s lips—perfect and red.
"Can you hear me?" she repeats.
"Yes, Catelyn," the woman says and there is a flicker of impatience in her eyes—bitten back.
"Yes. I can hear you." Catelyn. That’s her name. Isn’t it?
"Good," says the woman standing back. "I’m going to go call your husband."
Husband? She has a husband? Then who was that angel? And…where was she?
It was hard not to feel a little bad for Shireen on the nights when her father called home to say that he would be back late—business dinner, or a case that was running over.
On such nights, Sansa would sigh as she hung up the phone, order chinese food because there was no way that Mr. Baratheon would know that she’d done it, and would be sure to read Shireen an extra chapter from her book before turning off the light and going out into the living room to wait.
Oh such nights, she didn’t know whether to hate him or not. Hating him would, of course, be the logical course of action. Hating him would mean that she was throwing her lot in with the daughter he didn’t spend enough time with, and the ex-wife who had hired her in the first place and with whom he split custody of Shireen. Hating him would mean that she could glare at him fully when he unlocked the door at ten, eleven, twelve at night, a grimace on his face as he offered her a ride home.
But she couldn’t quite.
Stannis Baratheon’s late nights at the office had grown more frequent following his divorce. He was paying alimony to his ex, and covering Shireen’s school fees, and paying Sansa extra to stay late at a moment’s notice. She wondered how much he needed to earn to make himself feel better, to make himself feel as though his world hadn’t fallen apart around him.
It wasn’t supposed to have continued past the first dinner. It really wasn’t. It was supposed to have stopped with making Joffrey jealous (“Putting that whippersnapper in place,” was the way—was he Tywin? Or Mr. Lannister? Or Justice Lannister? They’d never really said…). Joffrey was supposed to see his grandfather flirting with his ex and be cowed somehow.
But it hadn’t worked out that way at all. Because two days later, she had received an email from him saying, I have a work event and need someone to pretend to be my date. The younger the better. If you would like free wine and some hors d’oeuvres, respond immediately.
And after the first one—after the first one there had been three others—all similar. Sansa in a fancy dress, nodding and smiling while he went on and on about court cases and dropped hints about wanting to be put on the Supreme Court. And after the last one, she really began wondering—really and truly began wondering—to what extent this was all just an arrangement and not…not something…else?
He was staring at her, and she thought she caught a glimpse of a golden tooth between his lips.
Good—let him stare. Cersei adjusted her map and threw her hair back over her shoulder. It was hot, and there was sweat gathering on the back of her neck, and if she wasn’t careful, her freshly straightened hair would be ruined for Jaime—and she wanted Jaime to ruin it.
"Are you lost?" he asked.
She glanced up and half smiled at him, not even bothering to try not looking patronizing.
"No," she said. "I know how to read a map, thank you."
"Where are you headed?" he asked.
"To meet my bo—other." She had almost said boyfriend. She would not blush. She wouldn’t. And if she did, she could blame it on the sun. She was getting a sunburn—that was all.
"My brother," she replied, narrowing her eyes, and pronouncing the ‘r’ as clearly as possible.
"Ah," he replied. "And where are you meeting him?" he asked.
"That," Cersei sniffed, "is absolutely none of your business."
"No, but you’re the only person in the universe still using paper maps, and I’m pretty sure you’re lost, so I could…help you, if you like." The way he said ‘help you’ was so full of lust that it almost made her smirk.
"You wouldn’t know how to…help me…if you had ten years of training," she said easily. She strode away from him, careful to swing her hips as much as possible. Because sure—she didn’t need his attention at all. But that didn’t mean she didn’t like having it.
She didn’t want to be there. She really didn’t. Watching Robb dancing with her, his eyes so full of love, and joy, and all those other things…no, Roslin really didn’t want to be there.
She did her best not to slouch, not to sink low in her chair. It wouldn’t do—it would make her look…it would make people wonder why she was there even more than they already were. Maybe she should just go home. Maybe she should just…She fiddled with her purse, her fingers running over the gel case of her cell phone. She could just leave. She really could. No one would judge her. No one would notice. No one ever noticed her.
So she got up, turned her back on Robb Stark and his broken promises and made her way to the coat check.
She found someone else standing there, in a dark suit and wearing the grey cummerbund of the groom’s party. His long face was surly, and when heard the sound of her heels against the marble tiling, he looked her way, a somewhat sheepish expression on his face.
"Heading out early?" she asked. She did her best to keep her voice warm—she truly did. But sometimes, that was harder than it should have been.
"I—yes," he said. A blush began to rise on his cheeks as she handed the attendant the tag for her coat.
"Are you at the hotel, or staying somewhere else?" she asked.
"At the hotel," he replied.
"Split a cab?" she asked, taking her jacket from the attendant with a smile, and shrugging into it.
"I have a car. I’ll give you a ride," he replied.
Chapter 116: Shireen x Devan
She had seen him every Sunday growing up, sitting there between his seven brothers in the front pew of the church while his father spoke of compassion and forgiveness. He had a nice smile, and his hair was always parted right down the middle, still damp from the shower he had undoubtedly taken before walking over from the Deacon’s house.
Shireen liked going to church when she was little. Pastor Davos always had nice things to say, things that made her hope her parents would listen and find a little love and forgiveness for one another, and that their arguments would die away, and she wouldn’t have to fall asleep listening to them argue about finances, politics, the in-laws, veganism…
They got divorced when she was in eighth grade. Mom found a new church, one with a woman pastor who “understood what it means to be a woman” as she had shouted at dad while they were finalizing terms. Dad stopped going to church altogether, and Shireen wondered if he hadn’t gone in the first place because Mom had made him. She knew he still got lunch with Pastor Davos sometimes.
It was junior year in high school when she saw him again. He had always gone to a different school than her—the local public, while she drove three towns over every day for a private school Dad was sure would get her into Harvard. She took the SAT at his school though, since it was closer. And she saw him and knew that it was him.
She blushed and looked away, because she didn’t know how to say hi. She’d never really spoken to him before, not in all their years of going to church together, only smiled at him while she and her mother had waited for Dad to finish talking to his father. Once, he had opened his mouth to say something, but that was right as his older brother had clapped him on the shoulder and suggested that if they got in the car, they might actually get to lunch at some point.
He sat down next to her, pulling out his number two pencils and twisting them between his fingers. He was nervous—they were all nervous, and the room was silent as the grave while the proctor began explaining the rules of the test and making sure that everyone had turned off their cell phones. And when Shireen set to work, filling in blue bubbles on a page, she saw him leaning forward out of the corner of her eye.
He finished the math questions before she did; she finished the reading comp before him, and when they sat back and checked over their answers, she knew his eyes flickered to hers as often as hers did to his. And just past noon, when they handed in their tests and the room in the air seemed to relax, he turned to her.
"Hi, Devan." Her voice sounded wispy and she blushed. He grinned at her.
"Want to grab lunch?" he asked. "I haven’t seen you in ages."
And she nodded, feeling slightly warm and followed him out of the classroom.
Grenn might blame the pounding of the bass, the press of the people around them. Pyp might blame the glowstick and the laser lights flying along the walls of the cave and how it made it seem as though reality was suspending itself. Later, Jon would blame the alcohol. Neither of them would deny that that was probably a factor too.
But in that moment—that moment where everything was sound and light and nothing was what it seemed to be, what it should have been, what they expected it to be, they found themselves against the wall of the cave, Pyp’s lips at Grenn’s throat as he pushed him against the rough stone and Grenn—Grenn didn’t care at all, didn’t care that his skin was scraping—he was too drunk to notice—or that there were people around—because he had begun determinedly ignoring them ages before so that he could dance—because the only thing that mattered was the heat of Pyp against him, Pyp’s hips and his, pushing together, their cocks rubbing at one another through their jeans as Grenn felt the walls of the cave throbbing with the bass, throbbing in time with the beating of his heart.
And Pyp—Pyp was chasing light. Pyp was chasing the flashes of lasers across Grenn’s skin, green and red and yellow making the flush pop out, sucking where he could and smiling as Grenn’s hips bucked against his, as Grenn’s hands dropped to his waist and held him firmly, held them firmly together because the two of them were the only people in this cave, weren’t they? The two of them were the only people in the world. Everyone else dancing and drinking and tripping balls—they weren’t real, but Grenn and Pyp—Pyp and Grenn, they were real and Pyp could feel it in the way he could feel his pulse in his lips—or was that the pulse in Grenn’s neck?
Grenn’s hands dropped to Pyp’s cock and began rubbing in time with the beat.
Pyp’s hands began to trace light too, trailing the flashing lasers across Grenn’s chest, and further down.
The heat of the cave, the thundering of thousands of fake footfalls, the shouting of everyone else seemed to compress around him and before he even knew it, he was flying—flying higher and harder than he had before with Pyp’s lips at his throat.
Grenn’s neck was splotched with color, splotched with purple and red and brown so different from the neon around them and he had done that—he had put that there and even as he felt the damp against his hands, he felt himself falling apart and he didn’t know if what he saw was real, for could it be as real as Grenn’s hands on his cock?
They stayed like that for a while—still and calm amidst the frantic dancing, eyes closed, breathing one another in, clinging to each other as if they were the only pieces of reality left in the world.
Ellaria gets home about half an hour earlier than planned and the door has just slammed behind her when she hears a sound she knows all too well.
So…Oberyn has a friend over. She smirks to herself, drops her keys and purse on the hall table and saunters to the bedroom, pushing open the door with one finger. Oberyn’s eyes are glazed over, and has his hands running through the chestnut curls of the man who is lying naked between his legs, head bobbing on Oberyn’s cock.
"Hello my love," she says clearly, even as Oberyn lets out another moan. The man between his legs, however, yelps, and pulls away a look of panic on his face. He winces slightly as he sits up. He has a thicker cock than Oberyn’s—though less long. She only catches a quick glance before he reaches for a pillow and covers it.
"Ellaria," Oberyn says easily. He raises his arms up and slides his hands under his head, a smile playing on his lips. His cock is slick with saliva, and he looks very pleased with himself. "You’re back early."
"Turns out that I didn’t quite need the whole afternoon," she said pointedly, toeing off her shoes. "I’m not interrupting, am I?" She crosses the the bed leans down to kiss him. His tongue tastes of unfamiliar sweat—tangier than she is used to, but not wholly unpleasant.
The stranger looks even more panicked now, but Oberyn ignores it. ”Hardly,” he says easily. ”Would you like to join us?”
"I wouldn’t want to intrude," Ellaria says, casting a pointed look at the guest.
"You wouldn’t be," Oberyn promises, "Would she, Willas?"
The stranger—Willas—shook his head vehemently. ”You’d be most—most welcome, ma’am. Ellaria. Miss.”
"Well then," she says, and reaches up to the back of her neck drawing the zipper of her dress down and letting the cotton pool at her ankles. She tugs down her underpants and climbs onto the bed, straddling Oberyn’s face. "Shall we continue then?" And he begins to lick.
He had often wondered what it would take to get Jaime Lannister out of those ridiculous white pants of his. And how many different things he had tried—how many failed attempts at getting him drunk, getting him to confess to some dark sexy secret, or even just trying to kiss him. It had never occurred to Oberyn that the answer might be a foursome. And yet there they were, the four of them together—him and Ellaria, Cersei and Jaime—and for the life of him, he couldn’t think of why he hadn’t thought to start here, instead of trying all the ridiculous tactics he’d gone for first.
The crowd around them is dancing wildly and Robb’s grinding up against her, feeling the rub of her ass against his cock, his lips buried in the crook of her neck as she dances. He rests his hand at her waist, loving the sway of her hips and the warmth of her skin through her dress.
She rests her hands on his and arches her back, pressing her ass against him and he groans into her. She does it again, and he can tell she’s smirking. He’s half wondering if it would be too caveman-like to drag her back to the car, or even to the bathroom, when she drags his hand down, pushing the skirt of her dress aside and settles it between her legs.
"Cella," he yelps, knowing that she won’t be able to hear him over the thudding of the music.
But she does hear him. She turns her head so that she can kiss his cheek and whisper in his ear, “Please, Robb. I’ve always wanted to be fucked in public.”
The words go right to his groin, and the only thing he can do is push aside the damp cotton of her underwear and let his fingers sink into her, the little moans she makes lost in the thudding of the bass.
Sansa can tell just by looking at him that he’s not paying attention at all. Not one word of Tywin’s repeated emphasizing that they must reach their targets that year or else Highgarden will be a credible threat in the market is landing in his head.
She can tell because she’s not paying attention either. She can’t pay attention—not when he’s right next to her, sitting just around the corner of the table and staring at her that way.
She nudges his foot under the table and twists her pen in her hands.
He raises his eyebrow at her and nudges her foot with his, rubbing his thumb along the palm of his hand, and her breath catches in her throat.
She sits very still, and his grin grows more pronounced and his foot nudges hers again. She pushes back against it, letting her ankle rise up along his calf and his face—the unburned side, the side that is facing her and not Tywin Lannister and the graphs he is projecting onto the screen in the conference room—twitches. A moment later, she feels his hand on her ankle, pulling her leg up onto his lap as he runs his fingers along the seams of her tights, higher and higher and higher…
She knows that if anyone finds out—they’ll be sent to HR and probably fired instantly. But she can’t care—can’t care at all.
Cersei has always been a little too used to being pinned against the wall. When she’s with Jaime, he likes little better than to put her back to a door, a mirror, a hard surface and hold her there while he drills into her. She likes it too. She likes being able to wrap her legs around his hips and cling to him, knowing he won’t move, and the wall won’t move and she can float there, relishing the full-and-then-empty feeling of fucking.
It’s different with Lyanna, and she can tell that Lyanna has never been pinned against a wall—not the way that Cersei has. Lyanna, who has never had an interest in boys, would never have had the opportunity to cling to one as her eyes roll into the back of her head and she gasps. And while Cersei can’t necessarily drill into her as Jaime does, can’t let Lyanna hang off her the way she would like, she can hold her there while she pumps her fingers in and out and Lyanna slowly comes apart.
when she’d first climbed onto the stage, she’d been a mouse. just a little mouse with whiskers, looking for cheese while the audience laughed at her. she’d been small then. very small. young. and no one thought it was strange that she’d be so small on the stage. you couldn’t have a full grown mouse, after all. you couldn’t be a grown up and be a mouse. you needed a child-mouse. and so she was. and they didn’t care that she was afraid of how many people watched her, that the stage lights made it hard to see because they were so bright, and that everything beyond the stage was shadows.
they only saw a mouse.
that was all she was.
she also played a ghost.
playing a ghost was easier, especially because jaqen played one too and she wasn’t completely by herself anymore, but trailing after him. a little ghost child.
they couldn’t see her because she was covered in flowy fabric, and when they couldn’t see her it was easier. somehow. she felt less a mouse. more an actor. and suddenly the stage doesn’t seem so big, and with jaqen, she didn’t feel so alone on it.
they had her play a boy once—an older boy, two years older than herself, maybe? she didn’t like it very much. boys were stupid.
but she got to act with gendry, so that was good, and he was a decent actor, even if he was stupid. he told her he’d been afraid when he’d started out too, and that she’d get used to it. she told him she already was and shoved him and he lost balance and almost landed in the orchestra pit while everyone laughed. when he’d gotten up, he’d chased her around the stage, and when he’d caught her, they were both laughing and she forgot she was a girl playing a boy who wasn’t scared of the stage.
she was a sailor next, a ship boy—ship girl?—who squabbed the deck while the pirate king pranced around and sang about how marvelous it was to be a pirate king, and everyone hurrah-hurrah-for-the-pirate-king-ed as they strode in choreographed circles around the stage while she sat up on the poop deck and watched the way their feet moved. she’d never danced on stage before. she knew it was only a matter of time before they made her. and she was determined not to be scared this time.
her first role with real lines—more than two that are “yes sir” or “he went that way”—is mungojerry in the fall production of cats. it’s her and gendry and they tease and dance their way across the stage and everyone is laughing because how ridiculous they must look—she’s so much shorter than him and skinnier too, but they shut up a bit when she’s singing because she’s got a good belt and it cuts through the laughter.
she doesn’t know where the belt came from, but it came from somewhere. sansa’s voice was always fluttery and operatic and soprano, while arya’s rips out of her chest like a trumpet and it fills the room.
it’s easy to smile when she plays the cat. there’s something about it that fits her skin right. and she’s almost sad when they hand her the scripts for the next play.
she’s lost track of the years. she’s lost track of everything. how many roles now? how many smiles? how many tears?
how many flowers sent to her by audience members who were moved by her portrayal of the blind beggar girl, or of lucy in sweeney todd? she can’t remember. she stopped counting around the time that gendry left and went to a new company.
it’s a job now more than anything. it’s fun sometimes—a diversion, but someone once told her that being an actor is perfect because you get to relive everything every night, and you start something over afresh. and she’s not sure that’s true. she’s not sure that each night it’s new and fresh. each night it feels more and more like she’s just saying words and singing songs and not really thinking about anything.
when did it come to the point that this made her stop thinking about things? where was the little girl who’d been scared of being a mouse? what had happened to her? this wasn’t what she wanted anymore, but she didn’t know what she did want, so how could she leave? where could she go? what was the next line? what was the blocking? did the director want to change the scripted stage directions? you couldn’t just strike out on your own without a plan.
Chapter 124: Arya & Sansa
It is the text message from Sansa that alerts her to the problem.
Sansa: you know I didn’t mean that, right? Like that wasn’t the purpose at all. I know you and him are a thing and I wouldn’t do anything about that except make sure that he is good enough for you, right?
Arya stares at the phone for a full fifteen seconds, reading and rereading the text. What on earth…?
She tugs her laptop up onto her chest and opens it, still bleary-eyed from sleep, and it does not take her long to find the headlines that probably have Sansa curled up in a ball feeling guilty and shitty and worrying that she had done something to fuck Arya up again.
Trouble at home? Is Sansa after Arya’s man?
Sansa moves on from Harry…to Gendry?
There are pictures too, of Sansa and Gendry getting out of Sansa’s car, of them at a restaurant laughing together, of Sansa showing Gendry something on her phone. Probably that damned picture of Arya when she’d dressed up as a wolf for Halloween when she was eight…that is the only thing she could think of that would make his face screw up in laughter like that.
Then Arya makes the mistake of clicking on the link under one of the headlines.
"Oh for the love of…"
It is the stupidest article she has ever read, and clearly the reporter (do these people even count as reporters? Gossip mongers, more like) was scrambling for actual substantial details. She rolls her eyes and closes out of the tab and grabs her phone and texts both of them.
Arya: Don’t worry about it. People are morons.
Arya: Oh, just Google it. It’s really stupid.
It only took him a few seconds to reply to that.
Gendry: Oh for crying out loud.
Gendry: I like how it’s obviously Sansa’s fault. God forbid that I had anything to do with it. Jesus Christ.
Arya: Yeah, but when do men ever get blamed for this kind of shit. Isn’t it more fun to bash teh womanz????
Sansa doesn’t reply. And Arya knows she’s awake because she is more of a morning person than Arya is. That makes her frown. This is Sansa’s prime texting time, before she runs off and does whatever she does in the morning.
Her phone buzzes again, but it’s still not Sansa.
Pod: Go on twitter.
"Oh no." Arya stares at her phone and, without really wanting to, logs into the website. And a moment later, she is numb.
Slag stealing your sister’s man.
She’s too good for you.
What’s this, your fifth this year?
You don’t deserve having a sister like her, you ho.
Why would you even?
Go back to Joffrey.
It’s the last one that fills Arya with a rage and she presses the little blue box on the screen and begins to type.
First of all under what circumstances do you think it is ok to badmouth my sister over something you don’t understand?
Second of all what kind of person do you think you are judging someone for their desire to date people and having that go awry?
Third of all, telling someone to go back to an abusive relationship because of your perceived understanding of a bullshit situation? Nice.
Lastly, please, for the love of god, stop. Just stop. Even if you are upset on my behalf, please have a little faith in me and in Sansa to work things out between us.
Good god we actually can do that, you know.
Do you realize what stereotypes you are adhering to? What kind of gross patriarchal bullshit?
Also—seriously? On a broader level, do people have to be fully formed and perfect? Are they not allowed their flaws?
Are they not allowed to grapple with problems in their lives? Or are they instantly trash if they try? For fuck’s sake.
God forbid that people can calmly work out their problems without turning it into a spectator sport. Please stop putting women against one another just for fun.
Or because you think that is what they are doing behind closed doors.
I don’t suppose that it occurred to you that that is a reflection of society’s pressure and not actually what people—men, women, nonbinary—DO ALL THE DAMN TIME?
Stop fucking dehumanizing people.
And please put a brain in your head, preferably one that acknowledges that women don’t always reflect the lowest common denominator of society.
She looks at the stream of tweets, then adds one last one.
@ladyandthesansa don’t let idiots get you down. I love you.
The reply is almost instantaneous:
@nymeriasarya love you most.
Chapter 125: Asha x Alysane
Alysane’s like an hourglass, and Asha likes it.
She complains a lot—that white labcoats are designed for men with broad shoulders and no hips, not for women with wide hips and breasts that got heavier after having children. She never complains about it when Justin’s nearby because Justin would just roll his eyes and make snide comments about how not everything’s about feminism and if she doesn’t like it she can just go and adjust the seams. Which usually gets Asha jumping down his throat and threatening to get Stannis on his case, because everyone knows that Stannis does not tolerate sexism in his lab.
She babysat Alysane’s kids once—a little boy and a little girl who are positively wild and never seem to listen to anyone and only respond to Asha’s authority when she gets sarcastic on them. She wonders if Alysane’s ever sarcastic with them, or if they’re just so surprised that someone’s giving them lip that they shut up and do as they’re told.
Asha wonders what happened to their father. Alysane never makes a mention of him, and the kids seem to think they never had one to begin with. But she doesn’t know how to ask because somehow, asking Alysane personal questions makes her feel like a schoolgirl trying to get more information out of a crush, and Asha’s grown too much to let that be her life. Still, though…she wonders. She wonders a lot.
Chapter 126: Arya & Asha
It would be fun he said. ”Arya’s great!” he’d said. ”You’ll love her,” he’d said. ”I roomed with Theon for five years, the least you can do is live with my little sister for two months.”
Asha wasn’t sure what Jon was playing at, but she was quite sure that he’d gotten her into this sublet under false pretenses, because Arya…
To be fair, Arya did seem like she was great. She seemed to have good friends, and to care a lot about them, and to have rollicking good times with them. But Arya made it quite clear that, after Jon’s exes, she had a very long—a very long, longer than Robb’s, that was for damn sure—trial period for Jon’s new girlfriends, and that she did not tolerate anyone who might come closeto breaking his heart again.
So sure—she was great. And sure, Asha could respect, if not love, Jon’s little sister. But fun? How could you call it fun when you saw your boyfriend’s grey eyes glaring at you out of his sister’s face over morning coffee as she muttered to herself about how if you hurt one hair on his head she’d wish she’d never been born?
Chapter 127: Asha
The mark’s easy. The mark’s always easy.
Find a man who gets taken in by a smile, a wink, a glance with the right amount of fire behind it, and bring them down back to the speakeasy. Tell ‘em a tale of woe, a tale of loneliness—I was abandoned, I’m looking for my baby brother, I ain’t got no money and I need help getting to Biloxi, my old man’s dying, my old man was murdered, my old man was lost at sea and now I don’t know what to do.
The mark smiles gently, nods, and he’ll probably reach out and touch Asha’s arm and that’s how she knows she’s won him over. ”Surely,” she’ll say, peaking up at him through thickened lashes, “Surely you wouldn’t mind helping a little thing like me?”
He always does. She takes him out back, lets him kiss her neck a little, grip her breasts clumsily in his drink, then feels him freeze against her as the audible click of a gun cocking fills the alleyway. Theon takes his money, sends him away, knocks him out if he puts up a fight, while Asha screams and clutches her face and pushes him towards her brother if he seems to have a brain in his head and sees through the setup.
Works like a dream every time.
Chapter 128: Daario & Lancel
Lancel knew someone was watching him—he could feel it. Cersei always said that he exaggerated when he said he could tell someone was watching—that he was making mountains out of mole hills. But he wasn’t wrong. He never was.
He looked around and tucked a loose strand of hair back behind his ear. He couldn’t see anyone, but he was sure someone was watching him. It was the same feeling as when he’d been sitting in chapel and praying quietly and he’d just known that Bonifer had come in behind him. Except it was different now—very different. Because he’d heard Bonifer’s steps a few moments after sensing him, whereas whoever was watching him now was remaining resolutely out of sight.
Lancel glanced down at his phone, hoping that his dad would get there soon, and they could go off to the opera together and whoever was watching him would see that he was busy and had things to do and wasn’t just sitting on a bench in Central Park for no purpose whatsoever.
A branch cracked, and Lancel started, looking around frantically.
"Hello there. This seat taken?" He had heavy blue dreads and a three pronged beard and Lancel began to sweat because he was sure this was how some crime got started on Law and Order or something, but he couldn’t find the voice to say "yes, yes it is—there’s a bench over there though," when he opened his mouth, and the man just sat down.
"What’s a pretty young thing like you doing all by yourself on a day like this?" the man asked, and Lancel practically shrieked as he stood up and hurried away as quickly as he could.
Chapter 129: Ned & Robert - Jockeys AU
"There was foul play," Robert growled before he mounted up. "Foul play. Fucking Targaryen."
Ned was numb still and Jon was watching him with clear blue eyes. ”Ned?”
Ned just shook his head and tried not to picture Brandon, thrown with his neck broken, eyes staring and blank while Aerys Targaryen shouted about how no one could just ride in and defeat his son.
"We’ll win this thing, Ned," Robert said, bending down in the saddle so his face was only a foot above Ned’s. "We’ll win it and they’ll be sorry. We’ll win it for Brandon. For," he swallowed and sat back up straight. "For Lyanna. We’ll show those fuckers."
"You don’t have to ride if you don’t want to," Jon said quietly. But Ned shook his head. He wanted to ride. He wanted to ride hard and fast and win because fuck it—they had taken away his brother and his sister, he wasn’t going to just stand back and let them win. So he mounted up and eased Winterfell along side Storm’s End and together he and Robert rode to the starting line, both somber, both determined.
Chapter 130: Lancel
"H-hello?" Lancel says when the phone stops ringing.
"And what is it you want?" says the voice on the other end of the line. It has an accent. Dutch, maybe? German? He can’t tell. Oh, god, this is such a bad idea, he should never have called. But he remembers the bruise on Cersei’s cheekbone and knows it has to stop.
"I—I heard you um…you take care of things. Sometimes."
"And what sort of thing is it you wish taken care of?" asks the voice. Lancel’s breathing very hard right now; he can’t hear the voice breathing at all.
"My…my cousin’s husband."
"A man can take care of a thing, but can a boy pay?"
Lancel fingers his father’s platinum card. He shouldn’t—he’ll be in so much trouble, and what if dad gets framed somehow. But Robert had called her a dumb cunt and had spat at her after he’d hit her.
"Yeah. I can," says Lancel, and for the first time, he doesn’t stammer.
"Then a man will do what a boy asks."
Chapter 131: Arya
The lights are bright. Her palms are sweaty. The room is silent, except for the rustling of programs and the quiet coughing of the audience as they wait for her.
She smiles as she walks across the stage, cello in one hand and bow in the other. She likes the swish of her long chiffon skirt, focuses on it rather than the way her stomach is twisting into knots because everyone’s clapping and she hears a whistle and knows that it’s Jon. Mom’s probably turned around in her seat to give him a look that means “that’s not appropriate for a concert in this venue,” but Jon won’t care and he’ll whistle again when she’s finished playing.
She sets the end-pin into the base at her feet, adjusts herself so she’s perched on the very end of the chair and waits.
She feels clammy, nervous, hot and cold all at once as she stares out into the audience. The lights on her are bright, and she can’t see their faces, but she can still see them. She sees the outline of Syrio’s big hair in the front row, and his dangling earing glinting the reflection of the stage lights. She sees Gendry a few rows back, head and shoulders above the people he’s sitting with. She sees Bran’s chair in the aisle, and the flash of his glasses as he shifts forward to watch her.
Jaqen strikes an A, and she closes her eyes and brings her bow to the A string of her cello. It’s flat. She’ll have to retune everything, and she does her best not to grimace as she reaches a hand down to the nob below the bridge and twists it, adjusting the sound until the string matches the A of the piano.
Then she tunes. Fifth after fifth after fifth, this string flat, the other, flat, they’re all a little flat because her cello must have gotten cold backstage and the nobs must have slipped, so she tunes again now. It’s supposed to be a show, a sign that she’s just making sure that everything’s perfect before she begins, but now she listens carefully, her eyes closed. That fifth is wrong. That harmonic doesn’t match. There—now it does. Now it’s all right. Now it’s perfect. A perfect fifth. And another. And another.
She lets silence fill the hall and she opens her eyes and wishes she didn’t see just how many people are there. She looks at Jaqen and nods to him, and he raises his hands to the keyboard and Brahms begins.
There’s something magic in music. Sansa had always told her so, before Arya had started playing. Sansa, who had run around the house singing to herself, and who had always made faces when Arya joined in because Arya didn’t know how to make thing sound pretty the way that Sansa wanted them to. “No,” she’d say, “Not like that—like this,” and a high note would come out of her mouth, clear as a bell and Arya would try and it would sound like an angry bird and Sansa would frown at her and shake her head and tell her she was doing it wrong. She liked singing with Jon better. Jon never made her try and sing high. Even Bran had been able to sing higher than her before his voice had dropped. He and Sansa had had competitions to see who could sing the queen of the night’s aria better. (“Arya,” Sansa had said, “Your name means song. You should be able to sing.”) Bran had won sometimes. Arya had always been glad when he had.
They’d been little then. That had been before Bran had broken his back. And of course Arya would have had no way of knowing that she wasn’t a soprano like Sansa. Back then, it had just been one more way that they were different. And she’d hated it, hated feeling like she’d failed something before even having the chance to try it.
And then she’d taken cello, and she’d learned more about music than Sansa could ever know. How could Sansa know what it was like to feel the vibration of the strings beneath your fingers, the way your hand had to tremble—“just so,”—over the fingerboard so that the sound of Brahms became soft like butter, soft like cream. Sansa couldn’t feel the way a third played when bowed two strings, the way you heard it in your ears but also in your fingers and down between your legs where the wooden curves of the cello rest against your thighs. Sansa could tune a chord, could sing a part, but she didn’t know how it felt to be one with music in the same way. Her music only came from her heart, from her vocal chords, her breath, her lips and mouth. Arya’s fingers were music. Arya’s bow was her arm, and her cello was a more precious voice than she’d ever had before in her life.
She was an alto. She’d learned that in ninth grade when she’d picked chorus over studio art because chorus, at least, was music. She wasn’t just an alto—she was practically a tenor. And when she sang low, suddenly everything made sense, and Yoren had almost cried he was so happy that she was an alto because the altos were struggling, and Arya was a musician, not a singer—because everyone knows that singers are the worst musicians—and she became their rock.
And now…she counted. Four, three, two—
There’s nothing like entering perfectly, nothing like the sound of vibrating cat-gut filling a room and sounding as though it is a part of the air, so pure and perfect that you wonder where it has been the whole time. And she barely has to count anymore, because her heart is pumping the tempo and if her heart is the tempo, then she doesn’t have to count because her fingers match it perfectly, her arm moves in time with Jaqen’s fingers and she only has to listen to know what comes next.
She plays—plays and plays and plays because that’s what music is—it’s playing. It’s joy and happiness and feeling and everything that is good in the world and she lets it fill her right up and lets her heart tumble in joy. She doesn’t tap her toes—she beat that out of herself long ago, but she lets her head bob and bow with the music, chewing her lips as she holds a half-note and the sound of it arches over the audience like a prayer. Jeyne Poole had once asked her why she made such stupid faces when she played. “It makes you look even more horsey than you usually do,” she’d said, her hand on her hips and Arya had bit her lip and looked away and tried to keep her face still when she practiced in her bedroom.
When she’d played next for Syrio, he’d asked her why she was holding her head stiff and then told her, “If your face moves when you play—it moves. It is part of the music. Not Jeyne Poole.”
And it moves—the muscles along her cheekbones scrunch, her eyebrows rise and fall as her fingers dance across the wood and gut, and she chews her lip, chews it as her bow moves faster and the strings vibrate louder.
Gendry had told her last night it looks sexual when she plays. “You’ve got this thing between your legs and you’re biting your lip like you can’t…nevermind.” He’d been drunk and blushing and she’d shoved him and told him to knock it off because if that’s what he’s thinking when she plays he’s a lost cause for classical music. She had hoped he hadn’t noticed that she was blushing too, that the minute he’d said it she’d thought of the way the wood vibrates between her legs and when she’s really on a roll, when she’s really lost in the sounds she’s making, she feels her blood run hotter, her body relaxing when she reaches a cadence. If Gendry thinks she looks sexual playing now, he hasn’t seen what she’ll be at the end of the cadenza, when she falls back into her chair, spent and waiting as Jaqen’s fingers trill over the ivory keys, catching her, giving her a moment of breath before she finishes the movement.
She’s been playing with Jaqen now for years—nearly as long as she’d been at conservatory, and she thinks he knows her almost as well as Syrio does. She’s never had another accompanist, she’s never needed one. Jaqen’s just always been the one she plays with. She practices with him as often as she practices alone and he’s never once let her down, even when her fingers do the wrong thing and suddenly she has to figure out how to make it all musical again, because the music stops when you make a mistake.
“Nothing is unrecoverable,” Jaqen always says when she stops full on and looks at him forlornly. “Again. And next time, a girl will play better.”
She’s not a girl anymore. She still feels it, sometimes, but she’s not a girl. She doesn’t think she’s a woman, but how should she know. What does it mean to be a woman anyway? Gendry thinks she is. She sees that much in his eyes when he’s drunk and talking about how sexual it looks for her to be chewing her lip while she’s practicing for her recital. When did it get sexual, chewing your lip? And when did she want it to be?
She moves into sextuplets now, her fingers and her bow working together in perfect time, and in perfect time with Jaqen’s chords as he strikes the piano to the beat of her heart. She’d been awful at these sextuplets for ages, and Syrio had made her drill them over and over again. She’d taken notes out and stuck them back in, she’d swung the rhythm, she’d played it so slowly that it almost hurt because couldn’t she move her fingers just yet, she’d played it faster than she’d ever need to in her life, and always, after every time, Syrio would nod and say, “Just so. Now again.”
Just so—now again. She hears his words as her fingers dance as her bow hops from string to string as cream fills the air and turns to gold, as her heart pumps life into her music and her face contorts and she feels heat between her legs and running up her arms and there—there—just there—she’s reached the cadenza and the piano falls away and it’s just her, just her and the cello and the stage lights overhead. No one’s coughing now, no one’s shuffling paper, no one’s even breathing. Arya’s not breathing. Arya can’t breathe, because Arya is air as she pulls chords out of string and weaves music into the air and it’s a part of her, it is her, this piece of prepared improvisation that takes everything that’s been built up until now and makes it bigger, grander, better until her fingers are right at the edge of the fingerboard and she can’t play any higher, it’s as high as it’ll go and as loud as it can be and Jaqen enters again, catching her and she sinks back into her chair, her eyes closed.
There’s only a little left now—only a little, and it’s like driving home after a long day, and when she reaches the end of the movement, she lets the sound of string fade away into nothingness.
They don’t clap. They’re not supposed to. But she hears them exhale as one and she breathes in, as if taking their energy.
She perches on the end of her chair, waits for just a moment, then begins again.
She wakes to the sound of Cersei clomping around in heels and she resists the urge to groan and sit up and ask her to shut up because Cat is convinced that if she moves, she will literally vomit everywhere.
She is never drinking again.
Never. Not even a little. Not even mouthwash. Because if she accidentally swallows even a little drop of mouthwash, that will be the ingestion of alcohol and she refuses to touch the stuff ever again.
She wishes Cersei would stop her clomping. But, then again, Cersei’s probably doing it just because she knows it’ll piss Cat off. Only two more months, she thinks to herself. Only two more and then you’ll be living with Ravella and you won’t have to deal with her and her clomping and her fucking blonde hair all over your—
Her eyes snap open and she wishes she hadn’t let them because the room is far too bright for her brain right now but unless she’d…oh fuck. Oh fuck she’d gone and hooked up with Jaime last night, hadn’t she? She’d gone and…fuck. Cersei was definitely doing it on purpose because she’d come back and found Jaime on top of Cat with his hands down her pants and it had felt good and he’d tasted like tequila and lime and his hands had been down her pants. He’d looked so confused when Cersei had come in, had practically fled, stumbling out of the room while Cat had rolled herself over and tugged her blanket up while Cersei had glared at both of them as though they were destroying her soul or something.
Only two more months, Cat repeats to herself, letting her eyes droop shut. She can pretend she hasn’t ever touched Jaime for two more months. She can pretend she doesn’t think he’s hot and that he has never rubbed his fingers along her slit. She can do that much—just to keep peace. It didn’t happen if she doesn’t remember it.
Only two more months and then…then she’ll see what it’s like if his sister doesn’t interrupt them.
Chapter 133: Jon x Asha
If Jon had had his way, he and Robb would have stayed in one of the dining halls or something. It would have been fun—they could have been with Grenn, and Pyp, and the rest, drinking themselves blind before waking up and making their way out to the Blood Bowl.
It was called the Blood Bowl. Jon found that to be a sinister name. Who calls a football match the Blood Bowl? Winterfell and the Dreadfort, apparently.
But Jon said that Theon was having a rough time, and had invited them—well, Robb. Jon was pretty sure that Theon had only invited Robb, and that Robb had assumed that that meant Jon as well—to stay in his apartment, so there he was, waking up at eight in the morning to the sounds of the marching band making their way out to the stadium.
Jon yawned, and rubbed his eyes, and would have gone back to sleep—the game didn’t start for another four hours, after all—but his bladder was full from all the beer he’d had the night before, so he figured he’d at least take a piss first.
As it turned out, Theon’s bathroom didn’t have a lock and Theon’s shower didn’t have a shower curtain. Theon’s shower also had a woman in it, who was lathering shampoo in her hair and humming to herself in a tuneless sort of way—the way Arya did when she didn’t think anyone was listening.
"Fuck, sorry," Jon said quickly, blushing furiously as the woman opened her eyes. She had Theon’s eyes, and he remembered vaguely that—fuck, Theon’s sister was staying over this weekend, she’d come in to spend time with him because he was having a hard time at the Dreadfort and fuck—he was staring at Theon’s sister’s tits and noticing all too clearly the way that the shampoo was falling from her short dark hair and flowing in streams over her breasts.
"Eh, it’s fine," she shrugged. She didn’t even bother trying to cover up.
"I’ll—" he backed up slightly.
"I’m going to be in here a while. I won’t look if you need to piss," she shrugged. She turned around and fuck—that was her ass. It was a very nice ass, muscular and rounded. He was staring at it and—too late—he realized that if he backed out of the room now, it would be very obvious that he had spent several seconds staring at Theon’s sister’s ass.
So he crossed the bathroom, closing the door behind him and pulled his cock out of his boxers and willed himself to piss as quickly as possible.
When he was finished, he tucked himself away and flushed the toilet and she shrieked “Fuck, that’s hot!”
"What the—" he yelped, whirling around, because he should have thought not to flush—of course it would make the water in the shower change temperature. She grinned at him.
"Just messing with you," she said, winking.
Jon exhaled in relief—short-lived relief because a moment later he was noticing her breasts again and how she was now soaping up the dark curls between her legs and—
"Sorry—I’ll leave you to it, then," he muttered.
"I lied," she said. "I looked." She dropped her gaze pointedly to his crotch. "Want to join?"
His eyes bugged out of his head and he felt his jaw dropping despite his best efforts to remain calm.
She laughed and reached a dripping arm out of the shower and grabbed the front of his t-shirt. She pulled him towards her and kissed him, hard, and a moment later, he was standing in the shower in his boxers and his t-shirt, with Theon’s naked sister pressing him against the tiling, her tongue in his mouth.
One day she will hit him. She will. She’ll splatter his obnoxious red and white hair with blue paint and then he’ll stop telling her “a girl has much to learn.” Even if she’s kicked out of the range for aiming at someone’s head. That’s definitely not allowed.
He shouldn’t be allowed though. He shouldn’t. He just kind of lounges there, his paintball gun in one hand and usually some piece of fruit—today it’s a banana—in his hand and he doesn’t even look at her when he fires his paintballs at her. He has his eyes closed, or is staring at his papaya or whatever he’s eating and before she knows what’s hit her she’s covered in great globs of red paint that look almost like blood—if blood were less rust-colored and more Santa’s-bathrobe-colored.
One day, she’ll hit him. Not today, maybe, but one day.
Dammit, why not today? Why not? He’s just sitting there, eating his banana as though he’s got all the time in the world, as if he were sitting on a beach and not in a paintball yard.
She hears the sound of Gendry and Hot Pie firing at one another, quoting bad lines from stupid action movies at one another, and she…she stalks around the back of the yard, like a cat. She’s going to do it this time, she knows it. Today will be the day that she gets him and he’ll be blue all over by the time she’s through except—
thunk thunk thunk and there’s red all over her chest and she lets out an angry howl and fires a paintball at his banana. The paint splits the banana in half sending a part of it tumbling down to the ground, the other part covered in blue and completely inedible.
"A girl lacks honor," says the man. He looks at her—not angrily. Almost…almost approvingly.
Arya lets out a huff and marches away from him, annoyed. One day—not today, but one day—she’ll cover him in blue.
She feels a thunk right between her shoulderblades and knows there’s a new red splotch on her back.
A boy is nervous. That much, a man can see. A boy is not used to another man in the room with him while he kisses a girl, while he sucks at her neck and fondles her breasts. A man might have known such fears once, when he wasn’t a man, when he was a different man and a blue haired lover suggested another join them.
That man is gone now, and the blue haired lover has gone on to others who will delight in his yellow mustachios and his golden teeth.
A boy is self-conscious as a girl strips him of his boxers and cups his cock in her hand familiarly. It is a fine cock, large—that much larger for a girl’s hand is small as she circles it and pumps.
A girl is a small thing, small but with an appetite to rival the blue haired lover. And together they sink, the boy to the bed, the girl to her knees while she draws his cock into her mouth. How large it looks there—how loud he groans.
A man watches for a moment, his own cock in his hand, wondering, waiting, until with a pop a girl loosens her mouth from him and casts a glance over her shoulder at a man. ”Are you coming, then?” she asks.
A boy snorts, and she slaps his knee, not looking at him.
"A man will join," he says and he goes to them, sinking to his knees behind a girl. He pulls at her hips, drawing them further from a boy, and pushes himself into her. She let’s out a sigh and bends her head to a boy’s cock once again, and a boy falls back next on his elbows as a man pumps into her, matching his rhythm to the motions of a girl’s bobbing head.
He sees the way a boy’s feet are twitching in the shang rug, and he smiles to himself. He does not know if a girl knows, but he has noticed. He reaches down and runs his fingers around a boy’s big toe. A boy lets out a groan that a girl thinks is hers and she redoubles her sucking. A man weaves long fingers in between and around a boy’s toes, and a boy falls apart in a girl’s mouth.
A man pumps more vigorously now, letting his own needs take over. He holds a boys foot still, but with the other hand he grip’s a girl’s hips and pulls her even closer to him, feeling the swing of his sac against the top of her slit. A boy sits back up and slides to the floor, taking the girl’s mouth with his while he slides a hand down between her legs. A man can feel his balls against a boy’s circling fingers as a girl cries out and she convulsed over him, collapsing forward against a boy’s chest.
For one moment, a man locks eyes with a boy, blue eyes that are hard and soft and determined all at once and a man explodes inside a girl.
Later, when they lie on the floor, lazy and tranquil, a girl between them, a boy reaches over and rubs his foot against a man’s.
"Officer—I’m afraid that I have stolen this necklace and should probably be arrested. I turn myself in. I give myself over to your custody."
Ellaria arches an eyebrow. This is the fifth man of the night to stare at her tits and make some sort of comment. One of them had asked if she had plans for those handcuffs. She had handcuffed him to the radiator far away from the booze, and he’d called her a dumb bitch as she’d walked away, twirling the keys around her fingers. She’d been sure to swing her hips a little extra just to piss him off.
"Oh. And from whom did you steal that necklace?" This one is dressed as a scientist of some sort—long white lab-coat, strange purple tattoos, white streaks in his hair.
"I can’t remember. I am clearly a menace and should be removed from the public."
"Is that so?" she asks, crossing her arms over her chest.
"And what would you say if I were to suggest replacing that idiot over by the radiator with you?" She jerks her head over at the moron with the bright blue hair and the yellow mustachios.
The scientist glances over her shoulder, frowning, and his response is not entirely what she’s expecting. Not at all, actually. ”Oh god, what did Daario do?”
"You know that creep?" She lets venom drip off her tongue, because what’s the point of even trying to hide it.
"Yeah. What did he do?"
"He wanted to do something fun with handcuffs," Ellaria responds sweetly, smiling a little wider than she probably needs to. The scientist snorts.
"Him or me?"
"You—that was obviously the way to handle it. Sorry if…didn’t mean to be disrespectful." He’s not looking at her breasts, pushed up by her crossed arms. He’s looking at her face, and she notices just how nice his eyes are—dark and shining in the shitty light of the party. She’s surprised. It actually looks like he means it.
"Thank you," she says, and her voice is a little raspy, a little breathless. He’s standing very close, and suddenly she feels very warm.
"Yeah." His eyes drop, not to her breasts, but to her lips, and she sees just how thick his lashes are and her breath catches in her throat.
She turns on her heel and marches away.
"Sorry—I didn’t mean," she hears him exclaim after her, and she glances over her shoulder and shoots him a smile.
"Oh, I was just fetching my handcuffs. I can think of some good uses for them, and you’re right—you’re a menace to society and really are better off in my custody."
There is blood dripping from the snout of his dog mask, but Sansa’s not scared anymore. She had been—when she first saw it. It had been so lifelike, and she had heard him laughing that a dog will savage you bloody and dead if it’s got the right motivation. He had taken a swig of beer and ignored the dig that Joff’s uncle in the devil costume had made.
She isn’t scared of him, though. Not right now, not as he is sitting on the front steps crying drunkenly because they had shut off the lights in the living room so that everyone could see the lights in the jack-o-lanterns better and one of them had fallen over and set the curtains briefly on fire. (Briefly, because Jon had thought quickly and had thrown his Pepsi on it.) It’s hard to be scared of people when they are crying—at least scared in the way that Sansa had been frightened of the dog mask when she had first seen it. It’s a different kind of fear: watching someone in pain and not being able to help them.
But she sits with him, and listens to him cry about his brother shoving his face in the barbecue when he’d been seven and how he hates halloween so much because what the fuck does anyone know of hell and demons of they haven’t met his fucking brother and had their face shoved in a fucking fire and how she should probably go and leave him the fuck alone and get back to Joffrey and his bad vampire impersonations. She doesn’t, though. She holds his hand, and lets him cry into her shoulder and wonders what he would do if she took off the mask to wipe away his tears.
Chapter 138: Asha x Jon x Stannis
"Well, the Ouija board thinks we should fuck," Asha announces, and immediately has to bite her tongue—hard—to keep from laughing. Jon’s eyes are bugging out of his head, and Stannis’ jaw is clenched so tight that there is just no way his dentist won’t have words with him the next time he goes in.
"What?" Jon says, as if he can’t believe it.
"Threesome," Asha grins. "So, off with your clothes, gents. We must appease the spirits on this All Hallows Eve."
"I don’t believe you," Stannis say, a little too high pitched to quite have the calm effect he was undoubtedly going for.
"Well," Asha replies, grinning, "Now it’s saying that you should take off your shirt and give Jon a good kiss."
"It is not," Jon says loudly. "It’s not even moving."
"Yes it is," Asha says, and she reaches up for the zipper between her breasts, tugging it very slowly down. She has both of their attention now, and the room is so silent you could hear a pin drop—or each tooth coming loose on a metal zipper. "It’s saying you should kiss, then that you should come and suck my tits. Are you going to defy the spirits, Jon Snow?"
He hadn’t actually remembered doing it. He had been drunk. At least, he thinks he was drunk. He can’t remember. Which usually means drunk. Drunk and suddenly all too aware that he needs a date to his sister’s (fuck!) wedding.
Wanted: date to wedding. Must be nice. Ideally single but honestly I will be too trashed to consider shagging so take that for what you will. Won’t pay, but you’ll get an open bar and a really nice meal, so it won’t be a complete fucking waste of time.And his email address. (at least he had the good sense to put the email address he used for his online gaming and not something obvious with his name or something.)
And he’d actually gotten a reply! A reply from an Elia Martell, whom he googled and learned she was a medical student from across town. If you need someone I’d be happy to. Need to get over shitty ex. No sex, but if you want a drinking companion, I offer myself gladly.
And it did. It actually did.
Chapter 140: Orys x Argella
She was always one fucking step ahead of him, and god it pissed him off, but he didn’t want it to come to this. Let the people of Storm City flourish from the fact they had two superheroes protecting them from evildoers and ne’er-do-wells, don’t make them pick, for fuck’s sake.
But they had picked, and, it seemed, they’d picked him. And when he parks his sky-copter in the middle of Pride Park, there she is, chained and gagged and struggling, her super suit shredded so that he could see parts of her—he rounds on the chief of police.
"What’s this?" he demands, gesturing at her.
"We thought it’d be best to take her into custody. You can do with her what you think is right," smiles Chief Massey.
"Massey, you fucking idiot. She’s not the problem,” he growls. Massey’s face falls slightly.
"Of course she is!" he says, "You’re always fighting her."
"There’s a difference between arguing and fighting. She’s not a master criminal. She’s trying to help too. Now I’m not surprised Storm City has a crime problem, given that you can’t even recognize good from evil."
He turns on his heel and unclasps his cloak, swinging it around Lady Storm’s shoulders. Then he fiddles in his utility belt and finds his mini-blow torch so that he can blast away the cuffs at her wrist.
"Stay very still," he says, looking her dead in the eye and god—he’d never noticed just how blue they were.
She slams her purse down on the counter and looks him dead in the eye. ”Do you have any more Trojan Ultra Ribbed?”
Oberyn looks over her shoulder. ”Ma’am, condoms are on aisle—”
"Yeah. I know. And you seem to be out of Trojan Ultra Ribbed. And I would like them very much. So I’m asking—you out?"
"You’re asking me out?" he sputters before he stops to think, ten he blushes a deeper shade of red than her purse.
A smile curls at her lips, and there’s a laugh in her eyes, and she practically purrs, “That depends—do you have any more Trojan Ultra Ribbed?”
"Dad!" Shireen shrieks and Stannis stiffens and follows her pointed finger. That’s him. That’s definitely him. Up on a giant screen with Davos, outlined in a horribly lurid red heart. The pink words KISS CAM flash beneath the pair of them, and the entire arena seems to erupt in cheers.
Stannis glances sideways at Davos, who—far from looking shocked and appalled the way he sees himself looking on that screen—is laughing. Laughing until his face is red. Then he reaches up and, before Stannis even has a moment to process what’s happening, he hears Shireen’s gasp turn into a cheer, and Devan’s clapping fills his ears as Davos’ lips connect to his.
It began as a joke, really. A joke. Because what kind of superhero name is “a man”? Literally—that’s not a superhero name. That’s a vocab flashcard. You should be something like The Faceless Wonder, or The Hands of Death, or The Blue Devil. (Daario was particularly proud of going by the Blue Devil. Even if the dye sometimes came out of his hair and got his undershirts all stained.)
But A Man? Seriously?
The funniest thing about it, though, was the fact that A Man was a complete mystery. A Man seemed to know everything (how? How did he do that?) and seemed to be precisely where he needed to be. Increasingly, it wasn’t the Blue Devil who made the captures, it was A Man, as if he were nothing more than a distraction while the fucker worked his magic and then faded into the background.
Chapter 144: Stannis & Davos
Everyone loves Robert and Renly. Just loves them. Stannis thinks it’s because they care too much about how they look—Robert with his great horned helmet and his thundercracking hammer; Renly with his green cape and intense spandex.
Stannis’ tights are a bit loose. Renly makes fun of them, but they’re comfortable and easy to move in and—more importantly, if for some reason he’s falling out of the sky—it has happened before—they create a bit extra drag so he falls a little slower.
No one seems to think his costume is very good. There are articles in the paper about it—how Proudwing needs to match his brothers’ panache. He really should just go and find a different group of heroes to team up with, really. Ones the media won’t constantly compare him too.
He meets Davos on a rainy afternoon. The Onion Knight, he calls himself, and Stannis has heard rumors that he’s turning away from a life of crime. Stannis asks him about it, and learns he’d run a smuggling ring. But that’s all in the past, Davos tells him. All done. Turning good. For his kids.
Chapter 145: Jon & Arya
"You incompetent baster."
"What did you just call me?"
"I said incompetent baster not incompetent bastard. I would never call you an incompetent bastard."
Jon glared at Arya and contemplated throwing the giblet at her, but rolled his eyes instead. “I am not an incompetent baster. The baster is incompetent. It doesn’t keep the juices all sucked in. The whole point of basters is that they are supposed to keep the juices sucked in so you can juice the bird.”
"Well, for Christmas you can buy mom a new one," Arya teased, and once again, Jon was tempted to throw the giblet at her.
"Do you want her to kill me? You try telling Catelyn Stark her kitchen is shoddily stocked."
"I’m teasing," Arya said, and she wrapped her arms around her brother’s waist. "You aren’t an incompetent baster. Although you really are getting juices everywhere."
"Well, you can try," Jon said, handing Arya the baster. She compressed the top and dipped the tip into the turkey juices, sucking it up into the plastic neck. The she lifted it out of the liquid and the baster began spurting liquid.
"Ahh!" Arya yelped and jerking her hand, trying to get the juices over the turkey, and ending up squirting more of the counter than the turkey.
Jon burst out laughing.
"Incompetent baster," he said, ruffling her hair.
"Shut up," she muttered, and Jon reached for a sponge and began cleaning up the mess.
When Jon had told his father he would happily meet with the representative from the Iron Islands to discuss trade agreements, he hadn’t expected it to end like this.
They’re both still clothed—for the most part anyway. Greyjoy’s shirt is unbuttoned and at some point he had pulled her breasts out of the lacy black bra he’d been able to see through the white of her blouse. Her skirt is hiked up, and she hadn’t even pulled her underpants down when she’d grabbed his cock out of his pants and guided him into her, she’d just pushed them to the side.
Gods but she feels good, warm and wet and tight at this angle. But it’s more than that—it’s the way she’s biting at his neck, the way her hands are digging into the back of his suit jacket as though she’s trying to break holes in the wool with her nails and as he thrusts and grunts into her, the table that she’s leaning against rocks against the floor and he can hear how fast he’s going and that alone sends his head spinning and his cock throbbing as he comes inside her.
He is quite sure that when people said “international relations,” this is not at all what they meant.
The class is so painfully dull. So painfully dull that all that Lyanna can think for the full two hours of it is that she’d rather be anywhere else at all than in this class.
Considering that it is interesting source material, she should enjoy it more than she does. She likes the readings fine, but the professor is so old and so dry and has nothing interesting to say, and more often than not drifts into topics wholly unrelated to the reading.
Lyanna doesn’t really listen. She should. But instead she fiddles around on her laptop and does her best not to pay attention to the girl sitting across the table from her. She has blonde curls that always manage to look like someone’s just had their hands wound through them while they fucked her against a wall, or something. She’s got amazing tits too, and wears the right sort of bra for them—though what that sort of bra is, Lyanna can’t say because her tits could never pull off cleavage like that.
There are times, though, when she doesn’t even bother trying to ignore her. Sometimes she wonders what shade her nipples are, or if she actually was just fucked before she came to class, or if she’d like to be fucked right after—or even during, if the two of them could sneak off to the bathroom down the hall and finger each other fervently in a stall until they’re both gasping and cumming and aren’t even a little bit guilty that they’re sneaking off and doing this instead of not paying attention to dry old Professor Selmy.
Arya says something in a language that Gendry didn’t understand and he frowns and glances between Jaqen and Aegon.
Aegon is blushing furiously. Jaqen looks wholly nonplussed.
"What did you say?" Gendry asks her nervously. Anything that makes Aegon blush that way is never a good sign. It takes a lot to make Aegon blush that way.
"A girl suggested watching as the three of us fuck," Jaqen says. "A girl used a Braavosi phrase. The phrase has no translation."
"It’s some kind of thing like getting turned on by voyeurism. But not quite that," Aegon mutters. Arya’s grinning and already climbing off the bed and over to the armchair where they’d all dropped their clothes when they’d come in. She shoves the clothes off unceremoniously and flops down onto it, spreading her legs slightly and raising her eyebrows at them expectantly. Gendry gapes at her, and she just smiles right back. She even winks at him.
That’s when he feels Jaqen’s hand on his ankle, his long fingers trailing down the sole of his foot and Gendry shivers and looks away from Arya at Jaqen. His hair is messy, red and white mixing together, knotted and matted, and he sees a hint of blue as Aegon catches Jaqen from behind and kisses his neck, reaching around his hips to cup his cock.
He’s never fucked them both without Arya there, and as he watches Aegon’s hand slide along Jaqen’s cock while Jaqen’s fingers circle his own toes…fuck it. He kisses Jaqen full on the mouth, and feels the other man’s hand rise to his cock and even if Arya’s not there, even if she’s just watching and enjoying the experience, it doesn’t really matter, he realizes. This—this is fun just as it is right now.
Chapter 149: Arya
When her father dies, Arya drives across the country in the beat-up Chevy that she had bought third-hand from a Mexican mechanic—an immigrant named Javier with six kids who all had brightly colored used backpacks. Arya would sit with them while she waited for Javier to finish up whatever he was doing, and she would help them with their math homework. Javier took cars apart, refurbished them, and sold them almost as good as new—barring the scent of stale cigarette tobacco and something else Arya couldn’t place.
She loves the Chevy, loves it more than she could have loved any other car because when she’d texted her father a photo of it, he had called her and told her how it looked like his first car. ”Better paint job, though,” he had teased, and Arya had swelled with pride whenever she had driven to and from campus, because even if she was far from home—nearly as far as it was possible to be—it wasn’t completely different, not when that car was like her dad’s first car.
Her dad dies of a stroke while she is finishing up the first semester of her junior year, and she postpones her finals till the start of the next semester, stocks up on bones for Nymeria and gets into the Chevy and drives.
It was her father who first taught her how to drive. He said he’d done it when she was six, sitting her on his lap and letting her steer while he worked the gas in the parking lot of the YMCA where Sansa had her ballet lessons. He had told her she was a natural, and that she should already have her license. Nearly ten years later, when she had tried the steering wheel, pedals and gearshift all at once, her heart in her throat, her father had told her she was a natural then too. Less jumpy than Robb had been, and with better distance perspective than Sansa. And she had swelled with pride at that.
He is gone now, though. Gone and they are burying him next week in New Hampshire in the graves that he and mom had bought together and hadn’t expected to use for years. And Arya knows she should fly, that it’s a six hour flight, max, to Logan and how many days of being on her own in the car? And how many days back down to LA when it was all over?
But she needs to drive. Needs to, because when she drives, she feels her dad in the car with her, sitting on the seat that Nymeria now occupies, smiling and telling her that she is going too fast, even though some of the highways out here don’t have speed limits.
She drives through Arizona and New Mexico and Texas, knowing its a longer route home, but also that she wants to avoid icy roads on the plains as much as she can. She doesn’t want to take I-95 north, though, only an idiot would spend more time on I-95 than absolutely needed, so she drives up the Mississippi, watching as the world grows pale and grey around her as she pushes further and further north.
Her classmates who also hail from the northeast say they don’t like winter. Arya has never understood that. There is something right about the snow, about trees like skeletons etched against the sky, with memories of Bran pelting her with snowballs as she got out of the car from getting groceries for mom. Winter is family, a sugar maple wood fire in the loving room, and Jon resting his elbow on her head while he does the crossword puzzle and she dozes in the warmth. Winter is dad, always asking her if she is going out without a hat, buying her bulky scarves she always wears until they are ratty and pilled, and reminding her to turn into skids if she catches black ice.
She doesn’t hit black ice as she pushes north. The roads are well salted in the Midwest, and everyone just guns it in a way she knows she won’t be able to when she does finally hit New England.
She keeps the window open for Nymeria the whole way, so the dog can do the dangerous thing and stick her head out to catch the scents of the oncoming world. It’s nice not to be alone, and Nymeria is increasingly well behaved in cars. It was dad who had bought her Nymeria. Dad and Bran and Robb and Jon had gone to the farmer’s market and come back with six puppies. Mother had been furious. Arya couldn’t have been happier.
It’s the wind more than the temperature that bites at Arya’s hands, and by the time she is in Ohio her knuckles are chapped and raw. It stings, but it’s bearable. The cold is nothing, really—nothing at all.
It was not the way that it was in fanfiction. No words about her otp finally fucking after a long, slow build could ever really describe everything that was happening, the scent of him, the taste of him, the somber light of his bedroom. And it—it wasn’t even the way that everyone said it was—the sting and ache that faded as you got used to his cock inside you. It was just…bland.
It didn’t feel bad. No, it didn’t feel bad. I just made her wonder if this was really what the fuss was all about. The motion of him, the way he whimpered on top of her, and screwed up his face and gasped and groaned and pumped, pumped, pumped in and out of her…it just…it didn’t feel like much. She held him, and when she reached up to run her fingers through his sweaty silvery hair, he moaned and came and just like that it was over.
It wasn’t magical, it wasn’t anything special. It was just one minute he was moving, and one minute he wasn’t. There was no buildup to push her over the edge, no every nerve was alight with passion, no sweet sting of her broken hymen as he withdrew from her and tied his condom, then came back to curl around her, kissing her forehead, her ear, her neck. A combination of years of riding and tampons had broken that membrane before she had even known there was an Aegon Targaryen.
He kissed her, his lips tracing a line along her ear until he found her lips again. One hand scooped at her breast while the other fumbled between her legs, and it might have felt nice, if she wasn’t so tired, if she wasn’t so bemused lying there with his lips against hers and only the sound of their breath filling the room.
He knew it wasn’t good—their first time. She didn’t have to tell him. He acted almost defensively about it, that he hadn’t gotten her off in the slightest, that she’d kissed him and told him it was all right, and that he could stop because she was just not in the right headspace for it.
"Yeah. I’m sure."
Because if her mind wasn’t there for it, even his kisses and his warmth couldn’t make her body do a damn thing. It wasn’t his fault she wasn’t in the headspace for it. It had just not been what she had thought it would be, and she hadn’t been able to readjust her expectations. She hadn’t even been sure she wanted to. It was her first time—their first time—so what did it matter if it wasn’t magical? She wasn’t stupid. She knew that sex didn’t mean love, or magic, or anything.
"It’ll be better the next time," he promised.
And it was—to an extent. The next time he wasn’t so eager to be inside her right away, he kissed her hard, his fingers twisting at her nipples, while she rubbed herself against his leg. It was better, because when he did bring his fingers to her clit, they seemed to know where it was this time, if not what to do with it.
He didn’t know what to do with it, that much was clear. He hadn’t had the same sort of practice she had had, nights alone with her thoughts and some pwp and her fingers and mind moving together until she sighed and arched and smiled. But Aegon didn’t move with her, and she didn’t know how to tell him.
His cock felt better this time, though. As he slid into her, she did feel as though she understood what those words on her computer screen had meant when they had talked about the relief that his swollen cock made her swollen lips feel, as she rocked beneath him, wishing the angle was better, wishing that his pubic bone rubbed against her clit.
He came, he kissed her, he withdrew, and he brought his fingers to her once again, sliding them into her, and as nice as that felt, it wasn’t the good she wanted.
"Can you…" she began and he looked up at her. She blushed. "Just…just my clit."
He thumbed it. “Like that?”
She bit her lip. “More of a circle?”
It was better. It wasn’t perfect. But it was better.
She told him to explore. It was, she thought, after a third, a fourth, and a fifth time, of better but not all-consuming the way she wanted it to be, the only way, wasn’t it? He’d gotten off plenty, and every time he failed at getting her off, he just looked a little more bitter, as if somehow he wasn’t good enough at it, or wasn’t enough for her.
So she told him to explore. She slid out of her underpants and tugged off her t-shirt and lay down on his bed with her legs spread, and he settled between them. She looked down at him, saw his eyes, nervous, and determined and something else, and he ran his fingers lightly over her thighs. She sighed, and shifted slightly, closing her eyes and letting her head sink back into a pillow that smelled like him.
She wanted him to explore—and he did. He kissed her thighs, he ran solitary fingers along her lips, he traced the surface of her clit. He kissed her and licked her and widened her legs so that she was more open to his touch.
The room had been cool when Arya started, but when had it grown so warm? Her heart was beating faster, she supposed, an increased flow of blood, and his fingers toying at her opening while he—oh—he licked and—
"That feels good."
"Yeah?" he breathed and his breath seemed to mist over her and she bit her lip at the newness of that feeling.
And he continued, fingers fully inside her now, inside and curling in the way they always did in fic and oh—that was new—that right there and—oh there was another finger, and was that his other hand that was—no it might be his pinky that was just hanging down and brushing at her ass and—but fuck his tongue was swirling now, actually swirling, and pressing and rubbing and it burned and ached and it was nothing like she had felt because her own hands never felt this warm, never felt this soft, they never surprised her the way his tongue did right now as it swiped up suddenly at the same time he curled his fingers and there it was, there it was, her voice doing things, and her stomach muscles contracting and pulling her in as she moaned and gasped and maybe it wasn’t an explosion, not every nerve alight with passion, but fuck it felt amazing, like some sort of pressure was in the process of growing heavier and lifting simultaneously while he licked, and licked, and licked.
It hit her while she was on top of him, while she was sliding her slit along his shaft, teasing him, watching as his fingers balled themselves in his bedspread, that it wasn’t even the orgasm that got everyone all hopped up on sex. The orgasms were good. Better, indeed, than she could get without him, and she didn’t know why, but it was true, had become true after he had gone exploring. But that wasn’t what was amazing about it.
What was amazing was him, and the way he moaned her name and reached between them and tried to push into her, but she didn’t let him—not yet—so his fingers found her clit and stroked it lightly, gently, while she mewled. It was Aegon, who had learned her and tended to her like a new instrument, who had studied her reactions better than she has thought he would, who teased her as she teased him until it was all she could do to hold off—hold off because the longer she held off, the better it was, the more it felt like a balm to her aches, the more he filled her and fulfilled her. Her heart pounded in her chest, not an erratic tattoo, but a steady hard thumping as if she were running a mile, running a marathon, and she could go for hours if she wanted, feeling his shaft slick with her between her lips, soft and strong.
It wasn’t what everyone else said it was, because it was hers, hers and his. It was their game, their dance, how long could they go, how long could they tease and torture, his lips on her nipples, her hands in his hair, until she finally reached between them and pulled him into her, skin in skin, downy silver curls mixed with black as they both groaned and rocked together, one of his hands at her hip, holding her there, the other circling lightly along her clit until she came on his cock, came so hard she cried out his name and closed her eyes and let the blood roar through her body.
It wasn’t what everyone told her it would be, because they didn’t have any idea—any idea at all—what it was for just the two of them.
"But Times Square!"
"No. I refuse."
"Please? For Me?"
"But It’s New Year’s Eve! How can you not want to go to Times Square?"
"Because it’s cold, you have to get there several hours early, and there’s nowhere to pee. Also you can’t drink. They’re very strict about it. They pump you full of coffee. Excuse me, but if I’m going to spend my New Year’s Eve with you, I want to drink whatever I want, not freeze my ass off, and not worry about getting arrested for fondling you publicly."
"Why would you get arrested for—"
"Use your imagination."
"So I take it that means I get a midnight kiss?"
"You’ll get a midnight a lot more than a kiss if we’re watching the ball drop on HuffPo livestream at midnight from my bed, Aegon."
"Define a lot more."
"Use your imagination."
"Ok. I am officially jumping ship on the Times Square plan."
"Good. It was a crap plan."
"I meant it, you stupid."
Chapter 152: Arya & Rickon & Weasel
"Rickon!" but Rickon was running up ahead of them and even as he ran, Arya could hear him cry. "Rickon it’s not my fault!"
"What happened?" Jon asked as Robb lengthened his stride to catch their little brother up. Arya chewed on her lip and looked down at her hands.
"It’s not my fault," she repeated earnestly. She was sure Jon would understand, but all the same, she needed to say it. "My class has buddy time with his, and we weren’t paired together."
"Of course you weren’t," Bran said, turning in his chair and peering up at her. "I wasn’t paired with Robb or Jon."
"Well, he won’t listen to me. He cried all over Stannis Seaworth and said he already had brothers, he didn’t need a fake sibling." Ms. Osha had had to take him into the hallway until he had stopped crying and Arya had wanted to go and help calm him down, but when she had gotten to her feet to follow them out, Mr. Forel had shaken his head at her and jerked his head at the little girl sitting there next to Arya, who herself looked close to tears.
"I’m surprised that the administration paired your class with Rickon’s," Jon said. "Usually they try to avoid that sort of thing."
"Yeah," Arya mumbled. She kicked at a stone on the ground. Something like this would happen to her. Everything seemed to go wrong when Arya was involved. Up ahead, Robb and Rickon had reached the corner and Robb had picked Rickon up and had set him on his shoulders, so that he was practically sitting on top of Robb’s backpack.
"No," she heard Rickon squall, "I don’t want to wait for them.” Robb glanced back over his shoulder and Jon lifted one hand from the back of Bran’s chair to wave them on and Robb continued on the way home. The light was solidly red by the time the three of then reached the crosswalk, and Bran shifted in his chair to see of Sansa and Jeyne would reach them before the walk signal lit up again.
"Do you like your buddy?" Jon asked Arya.
"I think so," Arya said. "She was quiet, but I think she was just scared. They are little after all."
"You used to be that little, little sister," Jon grinned, reaching over and rubbing her head.
"Yeah, but I was never scared of school," Arya professed loudly.
"Of course not." She knew Jon was being nice, and that he was undoubtedly thinking of the times she had pelted at him after the final bell rang. She hadhated her kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Mordane had had Sansa, and had spent all her time telling Arya that her sister was infinitely better behaved. It was only when she was safely walking home with Jon that she felt happy again.
"Well," Bran said as Sansa and Jeyne caught them up. "It will be all right. It always is. But…well, Rickon doesn’t like being away from home." The whole school new that. Rickon had spent the first two days of school crying and had had to call their parents three times because he missed everyone so much. Arya had wanted to go and find him, but Mr. Forel wouldn’t let her miss her lessons.
"I don’t want him to be mad at me," Arya mumbled.
"I don’t think he is mad at you," Jon said gently. "I think he is scared. And he’ll learn that there isn’t anything to be afraid of." Arya chewed her lip, and hoped that Jon was right.
"Weasel is smelly," Rickon said loudly over dinner a few days later. "And she’s a crybaby."
"Rickon, be nice," said mother.
"It’s the truth," Rickon insisted.
"I don’t think that anyone who has called me sobbing at work twice in one day has the right to call anyone a crybaby," father said, and Rickon flushed with shame.
"Ned," mother hissed at him.
"Everyone says so," Rickon mumbled. "She is smelly. She doesn’t wash her clothes, and always wears the same ones."
"I don’t care what everyone says, it is not good to repeat the unkindnesses of others." Father sounded tired. He always sounded tired, now that he was working for Robert. A moment later, he got up from the table. "Excuse me. I clearly need to walk my day off." And he went out into the garden.
Arya bit her lip and next to her, Rickon began to cry quietly, ignoring Bran’s attempts to calm him.
A week later, during buddy time, they split the classes in half. Rickon stayed behind in his classroom with a group of about ten and Stannis and the other buddies go to them, while the rest came to Arya’s classroom. Arya saw Weasel come in last, looking nervous.
"Hello," Arya smiled at her.
Weasel didn’t say anything, she just sat down in the chair next to Arya, her eyes round and watery. Rickon had been right, though—she was wearing the same brown dress she had been wearing last week…and it did smell a little.
"Have you ever read any Wonder Woman comics?” Arya asked her, opening her desk and showing the collection she had brought. Weasel shook her head, and Arya drew out her favorite. “Well, I will read it to you.” And she did. She read slowly and clearly, the way she did when it was her turn to read to the family. She had always been the best at doing character voices—better even than Father who took them all very seriously and even gave accents out because he wanted to. And when she read to Weasel, she saw the little girl was riveted, and she stared at the brightly colored pages as Arya read, and, towards the end, even grabbed Arya’s wrist to keep her from turning the page because she wanted to look longer.
Rickon didn’t bring up Weasel again, but Arya could tell he wasn’t happy about it. Arya was careful to talk about her buddy—teaching her how to play jacks, the way they had drawn scenes from their favorite movies together—when Rickon was safely out of earshot.
They were walking home in early November when Jon paused and looked over his shoulder. “Rickon, is that a friend of yours?” Rickon followed Jon’s gaze and scowled.
"No!" he said loudly. "She is not."
It was Weasel, about twenty feet behind them, her eyes watery and clear, her chin quivering nervously.
"Weasel," Arya called to her. "Weasel, why aren’t you going home with your parents?"
A moment later, Weasel was running at her, and crying, and the little girl had wrapped her arms around Arya’s middle as she sobbed.
"Crybaby," Arya heard Rickon mutter.
"Enough of that," Robb said, resting his hand on Rickon’s head to take the sting out of his voice. Rickon ignored him and bolted ahead to where Sansa was pushing Bran’s chair and telling him about the new book she was reading for her English class.
"What’s going on?" Arya murmured, crouching down so that her face was the same height as Weasel’s. "What’s wrong?"
But Weasel didn’t say anything. She just cried and cried and after a few minutes, Arya convinced her to walk home with them, and when they got home, she found a box of cookies and warmed some milk even though she knew that mother would be angry with her for having sweets in the afternoon, and she sat with Weasel and they ate quietly together.
"I don’t want her to stay here though," Rickon cried. "Why can’t she go home?"
"She can’t go home," Father said gently. Mother was upstairs with Weasel, helping her take a bath. Weasel’s brown dress was in the laundry, and she was going to sleep in some of Arya’s old Wonder Woman pajamas. "She has nowhere to stay right now. She won’t be here long, but she’ll be here for a little while."
"But—" Rickon sniffed and Arya sat down next to him and hugged him. Rickon wriggled away from her. "But this is my home and my family. She can’t have it!” and just like that he was sobbing again.
"Rickon," Arya said slowly, "do you think I will like Weasel more than you?"
"No!" Rickon insisted, but his tears were louder now and it all made sense.
"She’s my friend, Rickon, but you are my brother. I love you."
"But if you spend all your time with her, you’ll forget about me," he blubbered.
That was stupid, but Arya didn’t say as much. Rickon didn’t like being called stupid, and he was only four. “Robb spends all his time with Theon Greyjoy, and Sansa spends all her time with Jeyne Poole, but they don’t forget about you.”
"That’s different. They’re older." But he sounded a little less sure of himself. Father smiled down at Arya.
"I promise no one can take your place," Arya said. "I promise. Besides…I should be worried that you and Weasel will go and be friends and leave me out because I’m too old."
"We wouldn’t leave you out!" Rickon insisted quickly and Arya smiled.
"I promise," Rickon said seriously.
That night, Arya fell asleep curled around Weasel, and the next day, when they walked to school, Rickon asked her if he could sit with her at lunch, and Weasel’s eyes went so wide Arya thought they might bug out of her head. But she nodded, and even chanced a smile.
Chapter 153: Asha x Jon
“I met my wife at an orgy, well she was leaving an orgy and we bumped to each other on the street. Real meet-cute.” (Brooklyn 99, Season 1, Episode 16)
He literally walked into her. That’s what they told people. Or rather, what Jon wanted to tell people. ”Yeah, we just sort of bumped into one another on the street, and my phone broke, so she let me borrow hers. It was my fault really. I bumped into her. She was just being…” he wouldn’t say nice, because anyone who knew her well enough would know that that was a sugar-coating.
"Charitable," Asha would suggest, a twinkle in her eyes, and Jon would flush, because if anything, she was being charitable, letting him tell the story how he wanted.
No—Jon didn’t want to tell how Asha had been wearing a see-through t-shirt and no bra; her neck had been covered in hickies and her hair was sticking up in all directions from some combination of sweat and dried lube; and even as Jon had bumbled in surprise she hadn’t been able to stop grinning, because if he looked at her face there was no avoiding the obvious glow of the freshly fucked, but if he looked down at her chest, there would be her nipples subtly visible through the thin cotton, and if he dropped his gaze even further…
"Go ahead," Asha had said, not even bothering to bite back laughter. "I mean, everyone else’s had a look." She wasn’t sure why—he was different from Tris Botley, Tris who had coddled her and had been affronted at the idea of other people touching her and looking at her, who had flushed purple when she’d said that she was off to another orgy and who couldn’t look at her for days after she’d been. Jon had blushed, had looked abashed, but…but not horrified. More confused. Like a puppy dog. A really big puppy dog whose hair needed to be washed. And Asha’s grin had widened as Jon had straightened his shoulders and she imagined him in the shower. It was a good thing to imagine.
"Right—I…sorry. Wasn’t looking where I was going," he had said, his voice forced calm, his eyes meeting hers. She had liked the color of them. Some sort of steely grey.
She’d lent him her phone so he could email the friend he was meeting for brunch (brunch, she had rolled her eyes at the very thought, because what was it with people and brunch?) to let him know that his phone was smashed, but that he was coming. They’d walked together in awkward silence to the 3, and then, because she knew he was itching to ask, she’d simply said, “Yeah. I was at an orgy last night.”
"That’s what it looked like, but I wasn’t sure it was ok to ask," he had replied, and she had laughed, and just like that, he wasn’t nervous anymore. He wasn’t nervous and he was smiling, and fuck he was handsome when he smiled.
Jon didn’t like telling that story. She sensed it was some idiotic chivalrous thing, not implying that she should be ashamed of going to orgies, but rather protecting her from those who would judge it. She couldn’t say she blamed him that, but she did enjoy the looks on people’s faces when she got to answer the inevitable “how did you two meet?” first.
Chapter 154: Sansa x Sandor
Written For: bighound-littlebird’s SanSan Appreciation Week
Prompt: Wild-Card: the craziest AU you can think of
Notes: This isn’t the craziest, but I’ve wanted to write this for a long while and finally got over the writer’s block so here you are.
“Even if I love you,love you, love you, no one can ever know, oh, oh oh oh oh, love you oh.”
She could listen to Loras Tyrell singing all day. She really could. Jeyne said that it was because he sounded like he was cumming in this song, but that wasn’t it. There was something so…she couldn’t describe it. It certainly wasn’t a pure love, butit felt real. She wasn’t sure she could put words to how. But it did feel real—whoever he was singing to…they seemed to have a power over him, and just listening to it, Sansa could believe it was her.
She dreamed it was sometimes. Not now—not while she was at the beach with her family and her little brothers running around. The dreams that it was her were for when she was at home alone, listening as she worked on some of her sketches, or even while she was at the gym, running on a treadmill and feeling the rhythm of his “oh oh oh oh,”s in her heart as she lengthened her stride and ran.
It was the song of the summer. That’s what everyone had decided. It had been number one for weeks now, and Sansa had listened to it nearly eighty times according to her iTunes count. And those were just the times when she’d listened through the song all the way. She’d watched the video a few times as well—how could you not, when Loras Tyrell was just so handsome and his shirt was unbuttoned like that and—no she wasn’t thinking thoughts like that while Rickon was running around. She refused. Even if he was a teenager now…
She turned over on her towel and pressed her face into it, feeling the sand beneath it smush aside to accommodate her nose as she did so.
“They don’t know just what I am, what I am just what I am,” Loras sang in her ears, reaching the rhythmic bridge of the song. “You alone see me for me, me for me…
Even if I love you, love you, love you, no one can ever know, oh, oh oh oh, love you oh.”
She imagined someone singing the song to her. Not Loras this time, though god only knew she’d imagined that time and time again. Someone else. A little taller, maybe…she wasn’t sure. It was hard to know. She’d always been bad at picturing the exact faces of those she imagined. Jeyne said she knew exactly what her dream man looked like, but Sansa could only ever say, “Taller than me. Dark hair? I think?”
“Maybe that’s why you’ve had such shit luck with your blondes,” Jeyne teased. Jeyne was the only person allowed to tease her about Joffrey and Harry.
“Even if I love you—you see me—even if I love you—you, you, you, you, oh oh oh oh.”
It really did sound ridiculously like Loras Tyrell was having one giant orgasm the entire song. She grinned to herself as the song finished and she let the earbuds go dead and the quieter sounds of the beach filled her ears instead.
She could hear Arya and Bran shrieking with joy as they pelted one another—or maybe Gendry?—with water. She could hear Rickon pestering Robb about the All Star game, while Robb’s Jeyne endeavored to make a conversation between Jon and Theon mildly pleasant. She heard her family, happy enjoying the peace of the summer sun, and it made her smile.
She dozed off to it, and woke with the sun a little lower in the sky and—
“Arya!” she shrieked, opening her eyes. She was covered from neck to toes in sand, perfectly buried and she just knew that Arya was the one who did it. Sure enough, Arya and Gendry burst out laughing, and Bran too—Bran loudest of all, actually—as Sansa struggled to sit up through the weight of the sand.
“You were really out there,” grinned Arya.
“You’ve gotten sand all over me!” Sansa tried very hard not to sound like a peevish toddler.
“You were sort of asking for it,” Arya responded, shrugging.
“I was asleep, Arya. What about being asleep begs to be buried in sand?”
“What about being asleep doesn’t beg to be buried in sand, I think is the question,” said Bran.
Sansa released herself from the sand and had to grab at her bikini to make sure it didn’t come off as she emerged. She didn’t fancy the idea of giving Arya’s boyfriend a show, and besides, this was a family beach. She’d gone topless sunbathing in the south of France last summer and it had been delightful, but you don’t go topless sunbathing in the Hamptons.
“Where’s my phone?” she demanded, looking horrified at the pile of sand.
“I have it over here,” Bran said, reaching down into the green bag that was dangling off one side of his wheelchair. “That’s how we knew you were out. You didn’t wake up when we extracted it.”
She couldn’t glare at Bran, but she was very tempted. Instead she tugged her hair out of her pony tail and marched towards the sea. The waves were better now than they had been when they had gotten there that morning. And if everyone was out of the water, there wasn’t a chance that Rickon would try dragging her under for fun the way he did sometimes.
Sansa dove through a wave, feeling the sand fall away as if she were shedding her skin, and when she emerged, she saw her father floating in the water a little ways away.
When she’d been a little girl, much younger—maybe six or seven—she and Robb and Arya had played a game that their father had called “hunt the dad” where they had to sneak up on him and try and catch him in the water. It usually involved dad pretending not to see them as a wave struck and then them striking and attaching themselves to his arms. It had been a long time since Sansa had played—it was less fun once Rickon was old enough to play, especially since Rickon played his own version where he would grab people’s legs while under the water, but her father had been very stressed lately—his new job wasn’t agreeing with him, and maybe it at least make him smile.
And she launched himself at him.
Except it wasn’t her father. It wasn’t her father at all, she realized too late when she couldn’t change her trajectory, because yes, from behind, he was tall and dark haired and muscled the way Ned Stark was, and he even had grey eyes, but his face wasn’t her father’s and half of it was burned and good god good god she was leaping at a stranger like a complete—
“What the bloody fuck?” she heard him sputter and a wave hit them and knocked them both into the water and even as it did she could feel the string around her neck slip loose and oh god her stop was coming off, wasn’t it?
Sansa could die. She had never been so embarrassed in her life—never. Not even when Arya had spilled her daiquiri all over Sansa’s new white dress and not only had the dress been ruined but you could see through it and she hadn’t been wearing a bra that day.
When the wave had passed and she bobbed up her head from the water, hoping that the water wasn’t too clear as she fumbled for the string attached to the two tiny triangles of cloth, he rounded on her.
“What the fuck was that?” he demanded and Sansa felt her heart leap into her throat. “You trying to kill me?”
“No!” Sansa spluttered. The ties kept slipping from between her fingers because her hands were trembling so much and stomach was twisting. “I—I thought you were my father and I thought I’d…”
“Kill your father?” the man laughed, but it didn’t sound like he found any of it funny. “That’s nice of you.”
“I was supposed to be helping,” Sansa babbled. She’d gotten part of it tied and just needed to tie the second knot now. “He’s having a bad time at work, and I thought I could make it better.”
“By drowning him?”
“By playing with him. It was a game. I promise it was a—”
He was laughing again. “What are you trying to convince me for?” he demanded.
Sansa didn’t know. She’d gotten the second knot tied and let herself rise a little out of the water. She wished his eyes didn’t drop to her breasts immediately, but at least he hadn’t looked down while she’d been uncovered. “I’m sorry that I nearly drowned you,” she managed to say. She even managed to sound polite, before she turned away and made to go back towards the shore. She didn’t feel like swimming at all now. She’d actually quite like to go into that sand cocoon that Arya and the others had made for her and die of humiliation. She couldn’t even listen to Loras Tyrell—she didn’t want to associate his beautiful voice with this moment in the slightest.
“Apology bloody accepted,” she heard him mutter and she didn’t know why she did it, but she turned back to look at him. His face wasn’t angry now—or at least, not overtly. It had gone slack, and his eyes were dark now, the sort of brooding dark that Theon’s got sometimes if he was left too long to his own devices.
“Do you come to the sea often?” she asked him and he looked so surprised that she was still there that she found herself blushing. Part of her wanted to turn and flee but she didn’t.
“What do you care?”
“I was just asking,” she said, her eyes dropping to the water just in front of him.
“It’s bloody invasive,” he said. “It’s none of your damned business.” But he kept talking, muttering as if under his breath, as if afraid that people would hear. “I don’t come to the sea often. Only every now and then when I know my brother’s out of town and I can use the beach house that is technically both of ours.”
“You don’t like your brother?” Sansa asked. It was a stupid question. Joffrey had always said she asked stupid questions.
The man laughed. “My brother did this to me,” he pointed at his face. “Go on. Look at it. I know you want to.”
She didn’t want to—not really. But she didn’t want to look away, either. Which one was ruder?
The scars were horrid, twisted and leathered, and there was even a hole that showed his jawbone. Sansa’s heart twisted in pity, and part of her wondered why he hadn’t gotten plastic surgery. Maybe he couldn’t afford it, even if he somehow had a family home in the Hamptons.
“When?” she asked him.
“When I was seven.” He was mumbling now. Mumbling as if he were a little boy and his eyes were big and grey and sad the way that her father’s were sometimes when he thought of Aunt Lyanna and Uncle Brandon.
“I’m sorry,” Sansa said quietly. “Is…is the salt water good for it? I’ve heard that it can be. Good for injuries.”
“Didn’t bloody make it any less ugly, did it?” he growled, and Sansa swallowed. “Still a bloody—”
“Sansa!” Sansa’s head whipped around and she saw her mother standing there in a blue sundress. Behind her, Robb and Jon and Theon were packing up their little picnic area. “We’re heading home!”
“I’d better go,” Sansa said. “I’m sorry about the…the jumping thing.”
“Could’ve done worse,” he muttered.
“What—what’s your name?” Sansa asked.
He cocked his head at her, as though not sure whether to answer. “Sandor,” he replied.
“I’ve never heard that name before,” she said. He was swimming towards the shore too.
“Well, I’ve never heard the name Sansa before.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“No one ever does.”
When her hips broke above the water she tugged her swimsuit bottom so that it wasn’t clinging quite so tightly to her ass, and she saw him adjusting his own swimsuit and…good god. She flushed. She really shouldn’t…really shouldn’t notice something like that. He was a stranger, it was horribly rude and…
“It was lovely to meet you,” she said to him, moving towards her family. She heard him grunt in acknowledgement, and when she turned away, she could almost feel his eyes on her ass. And she knew she shouldn’t like it but…
She wrapped her towel around herself, and dug her phone out of Bran’s bag and plugged in her headphones again and let Loras Tyrell begin to sing again.
“I don’t know how to tell you, tell you, tell you, but I think I love you, love you, love you.”
Tumblr User heonhoneydew made me art of this fic and I'm blown away by it and wanted to share it with y'all:
Chapter 155: Sansa x Sandor
This is vaguely a follow up to the previous SanSan drabble.
Happy Valentine's Day!
It was…she almost didn’t want to think about it. At least, she wasn’t sure she … But it was coming to the point where she just couldn’t avoid it at all anymore, and even if she did, it would…
There was no delicate way to even think about it. Not even remotely. And it hadn’t been quite this sort of problem when she had been with Harry. There had been a lot of problems being with Harry, but not this sort of…problem. The problem with Harry was positively tiny compared to the…problem with Sandor.
She could feel it every time they made out on the couch, when he got…when he…she could feel it. and even when they were snuggled together—well, her snuggled and him wrapped around her while they watched movies like Homeward Bound or Shiloh. Even when he wasn’t, she could still feel it…which was part of the problem.
The problem was that Sandor’s penis was massive. Completely massive. And when it was erect it was…even more massive. And she hadn’t seen it naked yet at all—she had wanted to take it slow, and he seemed to be fine with that, if not relieved himself, but that didn’t mean…
It was a problem.
She wanted to have sex with him. She knew she did. It wasn’t really a question, really. The way he looked at her—like she was the most perfect thing to ever lay eyes on him…no one had ever looked at her like that. She’d almost come to think that she would never find anyone who would. And yes, he wasn’t her usual type as Jeyne liked to tease, but…but he made her feel safe, somehow. Despite his gruffness, and his rudeness. And she knew he was working through a lot, but all the same, it wasn’t that she didn’t want to. No she definitely did want to have sex with him. That wasn’t the problem.
But his penis was a problem.
She was scared of it. Hell, she had had trouble with the vibrator that she had bought after Harry sometimes, and it wasn’t as big as…
"You could just blow him," Arya said, as if it were that easy.
"Arya!" Sansa sputtered. She didn’t know how Arya had known, but she shouldn’t be surprised. Arya—and Bran too, to be fair—both had this way of just…knowing things. Sansa didn’t know how they did it.
"You could. I mean, I get if you don’t want to, but…" Arya smirked at her, and Sansa felt her face flushing, "I think you do."
"That’s not the issue," Sansa said stiffly.
"So then why don’t you?" Arya asked, and Sansa felt her traitor cheeks blushing. Arya’s eyes widened gleefully. "His dick’s massive, isn’t it?" She let out a hoot of mirth. "Oh, it is! Sandor’s got a massive dong, hasn’t he?"
"Look, if you are worried about gagging, they have throat numbing things for that," Arya said, reaching over and pinching Sansa’s cheek as if she were a child. "I had to train myself a bit." She guffawed contentedly, then reached into her purse and handed Sansa a little bottle. "There you go. Used to keep it handy, but I don’t need it anymore. Worked my way past the reflex." She winked.
Sansa stared at the spray bottle, which promised a minty flavor and a numbed uvula.
"Thank you," she said, because she didn’t know what else to say.
"Spray responsibly," teased Arya.
And now there was a new problem—the problem of not knowing if it would…surely it would be awkward to just…to just pull out a spray bottle and numb her throat before she…The spray worked, at least. That much was a relief. She tried it out that evening. The minty flavor was even pleasant.
But that still didn’t solve the issue that was—that was—that was how she would use it if Sandor….No. No she had talked about this with her therapist. She must not think of it in those terms. She was the one doing it. It was her power, her desire, not his demand. So no, not “if Sandor”: if she was to suck Sandor off.
She did get a little more bold when it was just the two of them. In the months they’d been dating, she had only touched him through his clothes. And when she realized it was eating her alive, these questions of “how?” and “when?” and “what if?” she decided she just had to do it and…and see how it would go.
So one night while she was straddling him and his hands were knotted in her hair, she unbuttoned his jeans and slid her hand into his boxers and god his skin was soft, and his…his problem…was an even bigger…problem than she had thought it would be. But she loved the way his breath hitched when she rubbed her thumb in circles over his tip, liked that he seemed to tremble beneath her, liked the reverence with which he stared at her when she pumped her hand up and down as sweat gathered on his upper lip. She kissed it away.
"Sansa," he breathed and she stopped.
"I’m sorry—I should have asked—" but he laughed.
"You can do whatever you like to me," he said and his voice was oddly thick, and his eyes were bright—almost too bright.
She kissed him again, and then kissed her way down his chest through his t-shirt, fumbling with her purse for the spray.
His eyes went wide when she paused to use it and she blushed, but refused to let her embarrassment get the better of her because if she stopped now it would all be for nothing. And she took a deep breath and wrapped her lips around the tip of his cock and sucked him in as deep as she could.
He let out a choked groan and out of the corner of her eyes she saw his fingers clutching at the couch cushions, gripping them so tightly that one of them lifted slightly.
She did her best to trace her tongue along him as she sucked, but he was so…it was so thick that she didn’t have much mobility and she was very glad that her throat was number and relaxed.
She liked the taste of him, the feeling of him soft and hard between her lips. She liked that she could feel the racing of his heart through her lips on the veins along his shaft.
It was when she looked up, she found him staring at her through hooded eyes, his jaw clenched and his nostrils flared and a tear glistening just at the corner of his eyes, and it was in that moment of his eyes meeting hers that he came hard in her mouth with a cry.
She swallowed it all because somehow it wasdifferent now, different than with Harry who would roll his eyes when she went to find a tissue, and it was as she did so that Sandor began to tremble and the tears really began to flow.
"What’s wrong?" she gasped, horrified, but her horror didn’t last long. He had grabbed her elbows and was pulling her up to sit on his lap and his tongue was in her mouth, if only for a moment.
"You didn’t have to do that," he rasped.
"I wanted to," she told him earnestly, and he just hugged her, held her, sobbing into her neck while she breathed him in.
After a few minutes, he released her and wiped his eyes. “You undo me.” His voice was little more than a whisper, and he almost looked scared to say the words, as if she would hear them and flee.
She kissed him gently again, then kissed the skin just under his eyes that was still damp. She wanted to say something, but she didn’t know what. What did you say to something like that? She’d read so many romance novels but not one of them had ever had anything like this in them. “I…” she began, “I…is that…?”
He kissed her this time, his lips hungry against hers. “That’s a good thing,” he said, and his lips were on hers again and his hand shifting towards the front of her skirt. ”A very good thing.”
"Then I’m glad," Sansa said as his fingers slid into her underpants. "Very glad."
Chapter 156: Roose & Ned
Ned had shared a dressing room with a lot of strange people before. It’s what happened when you were an actor. Sometimes, you just had…weirdos (for lack of a better word) that you were kind of stuck with. But he didn’t think he’d ever met anyone quite as bizarre as Roose Bolton.
For one thing, the man believed in leeching.
Chapter 157: Melisandre x Selyse
She was a beautiful woman. Beautiful and so…red—her lips, her hair, her wardrobe, even her eyes. She made Selyse feel positively frumpy, and all too aware of her fucking Florent ears.
But Mel was gracious—no. Gracious was the warm word. Mel was warm. Warm not in the way that Robert’s latest girlfriend was—all up in your face and giggly and insisting you were best friends from the moment you clapped eyes on one another. Mel was warm the way a fire was warm, filling the whole room with a comfortable heat that made the little dressing room they shared feel like home.
She prayed every night before they went on stage, prayed to the Lord of Light to guide her performance and keep the shadows at bay, and when Selyse asked her if she could join her, Melisandre smiled, and took her hand, and prayed with her, even though Selyse didn’t know anything about the Lord of Light just yet.
But she knew that she would learn. She knew that Mel would teach her.
Chapter 158: Catelyn x Jaime
Catelyn found it hard not to tap her foot. She found it very hard not to tap her foot. She wanted very much to tap her foot and maybe stamp it on Jaime Lannister’s foot because he was getting Edmund all wrong.
For one thing, the whole point of Edmund was that he was supposed to be smarmy. And Jaime Lannister was playing him far too charming. Now, of course Edmund was supposed to be somewhat charming, or else where would the conflict lie, but not that charming. He was on the wrong side of the charming-smarmy line. And whenever he smiled, she just wanted to tap her foot.
"Something wrong, Cordelia?" he asked her when they were backstage together, and she glared at him. He laughed—the bastard, and why did he have to look sodamned attractive when he did that? “No words?”
And it took all her restraint not to shriek at him. She wasn’t the director, it wasn’ther job to correct him but god, how could you play Edmund that way.
Chapter 159: Asha x Jon
"I think your hand is supposed to—"
"Right. Of course but—"
"Cut cut cut!" Jon had been dreading that. He really had been and he flinched as the Old Bear’s voice filled the theater. "What in hell’s name is going on here? You were on fire last night during rehearsal and now you’re like a bumbling teenager who can’t figure out where his dick is, Snow."
Asha snorted. Mormont rounded on her. ”And you, where’s your swagger? Where’s that little smirk? Yes. That one. The one you’re giving Snow right now. You’re supposed to smirk like that while you’re undressing him. Now can you please put your shirts back on and try again and try and bring some of the heat you’ve been packing since casting, please?”
Jon buttoned his shirt back up, knowing his face was about as red as a tomato, and knowing that Asha was grinning as she was tugging her t-shirt back on. ”Just pretend we haven’t had sex and are about to for the first time,” Asha suggested at him.
"That’s the problem, I think," Jon muttered. "I can’t."
"Aww, baby," Asha teased, reaching over and pinching his cheek. "You’re just going to have to figure out how to manage that. You’re an actor, after all. Don’t go acting all blushing virgin on me right now."
Jon glared at her. ”Blushing virgin?” Jon asked. ”Blushing virgin. If I recall—”
"You both ready?" barked Mormont.
And they began again, and this time, Jon had something to prove and he was pretty sure, by the time they finished the scene and the room had faded to black, that, based on how Asha was panting, he’d succeeded quite nicely.
Chapter 160: Elia x Arthur
She was sure that Rhaegar would know. Surely Rhaegar would know—he’d know just from looking at them that they’d—that they’d…Elia couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t even look at Arthur, even though he was standing there next to her, her “husband” in all but truth. Surely Rhaegar wouldn’t be so blind. Surely he’d see through the acting, he’d know that they locked themselves in their dressing rooms for an hour after everyone had left and Arthur would slide down between her legs and lick her until she cried. Surely Rhaegar would see that, wouldn’t he.
"Elia?" Arthur asked her in the wings, taking her hand and squeezing it. "Are you all right?"
"I’m fine." Her voice was a squeak, and Arthur would know that she’s lying.
But she wasn’t fine. She wasn’t fine because if she was fine, she wouldn’t care what would happen if Rhaegar noticed, but she couldn’t get it out of her head and if she couldn’t get it out of her head she couldn’t get into character and be free—free of Rhaegar and his songs and his neglect—free with Arthur who always had a smile for her and a hand to hold when the world was just too much.
Chapter 161: Sansa x Edric
"The set’s looking a little…yellow…don’t you think?"
And that was it. That was all it took to make Ned want to throttle Megga Tyrell to within an inch of her life because she had wanted the set to be “a little yellow.” She had asked for something “off-white, but with a yellow tinge. What’s that color? Is it cream? The color that you might get for a baby room, when you don’t want to have gendered color-coding. But not that yellow. A little more white.” He’d shown her nineteen different color tabs before she’d picked the white-yellow-thing she wanted and now…
"The set’s looking a little…yellow…don’t you think?"
"I can fix that," Sansa says easily. He has barely spoken to Sansa at all. She’s come in only for a few days, to install the gels and make sure that the light-booth is properly cued, but she smiles at Ned as though she knows that he’s about to strangle the director.
"Oh good!" Megga says happily, reaching over and patting Sansa’s arms. "I was worried. I’d have hated to have Ned repaint the whole thing."
Ned widens his eyes as Megga looks down at her notes, and Sansa rolls his eyes slightly. ”We’ll talk after the rundown,” she says and she smiles and his stomach twists a little bit. She’d never smiled before. Or maybe she had. He couldn’t remember. He didn’t think she had because he would have noticed. She has a lovely smile.
Chapter 162: Stoneheart
There is fire in my veins, fire where my blood used to be.
I have no blood anymore. It is all clotted, all dry.
I am mottled flesh. I am nothing but holes where the bullets flew. They called the bullets a mercy. What mother could survive her grief? I was born from grief. I was born in death.
Robb was the last thing I saw—Robb lying dead and bleeding on the floor, one blast from a semi-automatic that had gone through his heart. Robb was the first thing I saw, before my eyes could focus, a man who bent to kiss me, a man who called for his mother.
It was not Robb.
I was not his mother.
I am no one’s mother now—they are all gone, all my sweet babies and their father too. They could not be reborn from my grief and my womb does not bleed life anymore though at my age it should.
My memories are black and white and bits in purple, spots in red, but no blues or yellows or other colors I once believed existed but cannot see now—colors that were Sansa and Arya, Bran and Rickon, Robb and Ned who loved my hair.
Even that I couldn’t keep. It is white now, not the russet he had woven his fingers through while he breathed his children into me and his semen swam between my legs.
There is nothing in the world like swimming with the fishes. No one expects a fish to make you bleed. They can’t breathe out of water. Nor can I. Nor shall you.
Chapter 163: Arya
Everything hurts and nothing is all right. Everything hurts, and nothing–nothing is all right. Nothing is all right; everything hurts. Nothing. Everything.
It has become a mantra.
What else can she think, when this is all true? That everything hurts, and nothing is all right?
It was father first. Father, whose head had been cut off and found in a back alley dumpster. There had been an investigation, and cameras everywhere, and Sansa’s hysterical screaming on the news, because somehow her reaction had been filmed.
Then it was mother, whose body had been found stabbed a hundred times and thrown in the Hudson River. They had tried to keep that under wraps–easier said than done when it was Arya who had found her body. But everyone was still reeling over Robb being shot at Uncle Edmure’s wedding–three bullets right through his chest. The news channels didn’t want to double their air coverage of the story, so the brief mention that Arya had found her body was left to the end of the report.
And now, Jon.
Everything hurts and nothing is all right.
Nothing is all right. And everything hurts.
Going through the city is surreal now. Everyone going about their business, as if everything were all right. Sometimes, she will hear snippets of conversation–“how come the police commissioner hasn’t cracked down on all these…these events” as though the police commissioner could magically make everything all right. “I feel unsafe.”
Me too, Arya thinks.
Was she ever safe? Had she ever been safe? What was safety, even? It wasn’t law and order, because there was no law and order if her father could be killed. It wasn’t family, if Robb and mother had been killed at a wedding, and Jon…
Where do I go? What do I do? What am I?
I just want to go home.
Chapter 164: Sansa
“Hats off to Harry, he broke your heart, just like you broke mine when you said we must part, he told you lies, now it’s your turn to cry cry cry, now that Harry’s said goodbye to you.”
She changed the name on the song from Larry to Harry. She thought it fit well.
She stared right into the karaoke stage lights to make her eyes go teary and over bright while she sang and she found all the tears she had suppressed over the years and wove them into her voice.
Harry had called her a manipulative bitch when he had dumped her. Well, she was certainly playing an act right now, so she supposed that that was manipulative.
It was Mya’s bachelorette party, and it was just the three of them–Mya, Myranda, and Alayne. And Mya hadn’t smiled all night, and Myranda had been smiling the way that Myranda smiled when she secretly wished death at you. Hats off to Harry, ruining one of my only friendships.
It was the pettiest things in the world. And Alayne had told Myranda as much months back, because she knew Myranda well enough to know that if you didn’t have a mark on her at every step of the way, she would probably poison you in your sleep. It wasn’t her fault that Harry wanted her, and it wasn’t her fault that she didn’t want Harry. It was just…it was just how it was. But she couldn’t tell Myranda that she wasn’t sure she wanted anyone right now, not after Joffrey, and Tyrion, and all the rest.
So she sang. She pretended to be upset, because she had to pretend. Myranda was being petty and weren’t you supposed to put your girls before any blonde haired, blue eyed, monstrosity who could be led around by his penis? Maybe Myranda had only skimmed that memo.
Well, if Alayne was a cold, manipulative bitch, she could at least try. So she let her mascara run, and without even realizing it found herself going to that place–that father’s dead, Robb’s dead, mother’s dead, Bran, Rickon, Arya all dead place–and she almost stopped singing as misery washed over her, more profoundly than it had since she and father had first gotten to Denver.
The song was too happy, too gloating for this misery, and Sansa almost forgot where she was. The lights seemed to glow brighter, hotter, and somewhere, in the distance, she heard her voice singing,
“Hats off to Harry, it may sound cruel, but you laughed at me when you, said we were through.”
The beat of the drums on the recording was the sound of Joffrey’s and Meryn’s footsteps, the darkened faces of the patrons in the bar the faces of the people who had watched and done nothing when they had shot her father and Sansa was still singing like a little bird because she was still in her little golden cage, wasn’t she? She hadn’t gotten out at all.
The song was fading away, people were clapping, some were even standing up, and Sansa smiled because she knew how to smile when her heart was crumpling in on itself. She got down from the stage and handed the microphone to the next singer and made her way back towards Mya and Myranda but as she got to the table, her feet were taking her past them.
She was out the door, and she just kept walking, the chilly spring night hitting her skin and sending a shiver across it. She marveled at the sensation, the way that her skin, her feet, her lips, her crying eyes all seemed to move together and left Sansa behind, whimpering like a lost child.
“Alayne!” she heard Mya calling after her, heard the clack of high heels against pavement. But she didn’t turn around. She kept walking, kept going, not knowing where she was going, or how, but if there was one thing that Sansa Stark knew, it was how to keep on going.
Chapter 165: Arya x Aegon x Gendry x Jaqen
they play this game. they play this game and arya says that she thinks it’s stupid, but it’s not stupid–not really.
she lies there, with her eyes closed, and they kiss her somewhere, and she has to guess which one’s kissing her. and sometimes she can tell–sometimes it’s obvious. when aegon’s sloppy drunk and his saliva gets everywhere, it’s obvious. or when jaqen is being jaqen and not being not-jaqen, his kisses are precise little lines, not nips, not sucks, just a press of lips to her skin of her hips. and gendry…gendry’s the most obvious of them all, steady, constant, openmouthed and warm enough to make her gasp.
but sometimes she can’t tell, and when she can’t tell, she can’t be quite sure it’s not jaqen. he’s the one who notices how aegon and gendry kiss her, and he can match them perfectly, somehow. and when aegon’s not drunk out of his mind, he’ll switch it up, experiment with some tongue things he learned from daenerys who learned them from doreah, who learned them from someone she met while studying abroad in lys. and gendry, when he wants to, when he tries to, almost doesn’t feel like gendry–though usually he does. or maybe it’s jaqen pretending to be gendry trying not to feel like gendry.
when she guesses right, she gets a kiss. when she guesses wrong, she takes a shot. and sometimes, she’s not really guessing at all. sometimes her eyes are open and she’s watching them kiss her and she can’t help but smile.
Chapter 166: Theon & Jeyne
“All right, that’s it. And another step.”
He hates the therapy pool. He really hates it. He hates wearing a swimsuit, even if the trunks are long and baggy and no one can see. He hates that he feels like an old man who can only get his exercise by walking in water because any other kind of exercise will be too much for his tired old body. He hates being reminded that his body is tired. He hates being reminded that most people, when they look at him, see a tired old man.
He hates the therapy pool, but he knows it’s good for him. It helps his balance, strengthens his legs, lets him walk without putting too much weight on his mutilated feet. The water is warm and relaxing.
He’s never alone in the therapy pool. There are others there too—paraplegics who are getting used to using their muscles a new way, or old men with broken hips who are getting used to walking again.
Jeyne swims in the therapy pool. She swims but as far as he can tell, she doesn’t actually need to be there. He’s never seen her working with a therapist. She wears a wetsuit and swims along one lane, back and forth, ducking under the water. She always seems so sad. And she winces whenever people try to talk to her, lips pulling in, eyes shrinking. Jeyne, Jeyne, it rhymes with pain, Theon thinks sadly and he wishes that he knew how to make that pain go away.
Maybe if he were more a man, he’d take her hand and kiss her gently. But he’s not sure what he is anymore. He just knows that three times a week, he sees her swimming while he’s in therapy to treat his new-old-body, and wonders if she’s treating her new-old-body too, somehow.
Chapter 167: Asha x Jon
Under the sea, the men breathe water and cry air—I know, I know, oh oh oh.
It’s the dumbest lyric Jon’s ever heard, and he doesn’t understand what Theon even likes about Patchface. As far as he can tell, the band is creepy as fuck, and the lead-singer with his tattooed face croons like he should be singing in the twenties, not in a metal band.
But it’s Theon’s house, so it’s Theon’s music. At least, that’s what Theon says before cannonballing off the dock into the sea. Robb leaps after him, yelling, and it’s all Jon can do not to roll his eyes. Robb’s at his worst around Theon—at least to Jon’s mind.
Under the sea, the women bleed salt and eat sweat—I know, I know, oh oh oh.
Theon’s older sister hates Patchface too. And she makes fun of Theon for even liking the band about once an hour. Theon squawks every time and calls her a right bitch with shite taste in music. Which only makes her laugh, and stretch so that her tits press together in her black bikini top, and she says, “Whatever you like, little brother.”
She winks at Theon and he flushes, and Jon stifles a laugh because he knows he shouldn’t know about that time that Theon had accidentally groped his sister at a rave, but he does know about that, and he also knows that Asha’s holding it against him, and probably will for the rest of her life.
He likes Asha.
She takes no shit. She’s snarky and dark haired and reminds him a little bit of Arya.
Yes, she definitely reminds him of Arya, except—he hopes to god none of them accidentally grope Arya at a rave.
Under the sea, the women eat men and the men eat women—I know, I know, oh oh oh.
Asha’s bikini top flies off when she lands in the water, but she doesn’t seem to care at all. And Jon can’t care either as she rises from the sea, bare breasted like some mermaid, swinging her hair out of her face and blowing salt water away from her lips.
Jon follows her into the water quickly, if only to get away from Theon’s shitty rock music and the scent of weed that’s sinking in to the towels as Robb and Theon giggle and stare at the stars.
Jon doesn’t stare at the stars. He stares at Asha, who’s holding the black fabric of her swimsuit in one hand and is swimming towards him, a rather leery smile on her face.
Her eyes glitter in the darkness, but he can’t tell what color, just that she’s getting closer to him, and a moment later, she’s launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and latching her lips to his, and he forgets to breathe as they sink beneath the sea, but it doesn’t matter—her lips keep the salt water from filling his mouth.
Chapter 168: Bran
Bran spends his evening writing and rewriting his dvar torah. It has to be good. Everyone remembers Robb’s and Jon’s, and Sansa’s made people cry, and Arya’s came out of left field and people said that it could have been written by a forty-year-old with a PhD and maybe a law degree as well. That’s a lot to live up to. And Bran doesn’t want to let anyone down.
He has nervous dreams about it sometimes. About giving his dvar. He’s always standing in his dreams, leaning over the bimah and looking out at the crowd–his parents, his siblings, his friends, and then he can’t feel his legs anymore and his chair isn’t there and he’s falling again–falling always falling.
He can’t get etz chayim out of his head. Not the happy, clappy one they sing in Hebrew School (“It is the tree of life to those who hold fast to it and all of its supporters are clap clap clap happy”)—the doleful one that they sing in shul every Saturday morning, which his father always sings even though his father doesn’t much like singing in shul because Cantor Reed’s voice is a very high tenor and father’s voice is too low for most of the keys he chooses, except etz chayim.
Rabbi Rivers finds the metaphor beautiful—that the word of god is a tree of life. For no one notices a tree, he says when he and Bran meet once a week to chant through his torah portion again and to discuss its content. No one notices a tree, for trees are everywhere, but without the trees we cannot live. So too can we not live without god’s teachings, god’s laws, god’s divine love. It’s there, underlying everything, if you remember to look, remember to breathe the oxygen and remember where that oxygen comes from.
Bran likes that—likes that it’s there, even when you aren’t thinking about it. He likes that the holy and the divine are a part of the world. Holiness and spirit can only exist in this world, and it is the world which makes them exist. Or something like that. Rabbi Rivers said it better. But Bran likes it.
The problem arises that he doesn’t know how to capture that feeling of divinity in words. He’s tried a few times, but he feels like the words, when he puts them on paper, lose their luster. Sansa has a way with words, constantly writing everything that comes into her head down into her diary, many-paged English essays appearing on her computer in less than an hour, hundreds of thousands of words of fanfiction written on her phone on their way to school. Sansa’s words sparkle when she writes, but Bran’s always seem dull in comparison. Sansa says it’s because he’s young and he just needs to keep writing and if he does he’ll get better—that no one is perfect at writing when they’re twelve. But that’s not heartening. If anything, that makes it worse—why does he have to write his dvar torah when he’s twelve and not when he’s Sansa’s age, or older, when maybe the words will all make sense and he’ll be able to capture the soaring feeling he gets when he’s reading over the words that have existed for thousands of years and which will exist for thousands more? The feeling of being both a cog in a machine but also so unbelievably important for he’s not just a child, he’s carrying a tradition on his shoulders as he sings?
It’s not fair.
It’s not fair, but nothing for Bran has ever been fair—not since he fell. He’s not going to be a quarterback on the football team the way that Robb was, and he’s not going to ever be able to climb Mount Everest the way he’d dreamed of doing ever since he first learned that the mountain existed. He’s stuck in his chair and he can’t even write the words on a page that make him remember what it is to fly.
Chapter 169: Sansa
Sansa has always had fine needlework. Ever since she was a little girl and her mother and Mistress Mordane (a spinster, the poor dear) had cooed over her embroidery. She’d always been good at sewing.
She reminds herself of that as she stitches. This is just the same as that. A precise stitch, that brings two together as one. A good bit more useful than embroidered birds and flowers on her handkerchiefs. Though she does still sew them there. It calms her, after the tables.
Sansa wonders if Robb died on a table like this after Antietam. She hopes not. She hopes he died more peacefully. She hopes it was quick, that it wasn’t a bayonet through his gut, or a leg blasted off and him bleeding until he was dead before some nurse came and found him. She hopes it wasn’t rotting flesh, and fear, and pain, and the smell of blood and pus and innards, oozing everywhere. She hopes it isn’t like this.
She knows Robb had been injured before the battle. She knows he’d fallen in love with one of his nurses who’d helped stitch him up, and they’d gotten married quick. Sansa was old enough to guess what that had meant.
Sansa wouldn’t do that, though. She wouldn’t fall in love with one of the boys, stretched out on the table, not so much in blue as in brown while their blood dried and caked on their heavy Union coats. She wouldn’t fall in love with them, but she would tend to them as someone who loved them would. She would clean their sweat and blood away with a damp cloth, she would sing them hymns as if they were in church, and she would stitch their flesh back together with neat, precise stitches and thread of blue, or white.
Chapter 170: Bran & Rickon
Every morning, Rickon waits with Bran at the bus stop, even though he’s old enough to ride his bike to school on his own if he’d like. Mom said he could. She’d even gotten him anew bike–not a hand-me-down from Robb. A new one with lots of gears and everything. Rickon does ride it to school on days when Bran’s feeling sick. And he likes riding. He does.
But he waits with Bran. Even on days when the bus is running late, and even though none of his friends are on the same bus route. He waits with Bran, resting one hand on the back handle of Bran’s chair, and sometimes they talk, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they just wait together.
Rickon doesn’t wait for anything. Mom calls him a ball of frantic energy, sometimes, always needing to be in motion. But he waits with Bran–won’t leave Bran behind. Because Bran never left Rickon behind, and Rickon’s always afraid of being left out because he’s so much younger than the rest of them. So no, he won’t let Bran feel left behind because he can’t walk. He wouldn’t even dream of it.
Chapter 171: Myrcella, Shireen, Stannis, Tywin
shireen flushes and looks down at her feet. she has a feeling that her father won’t care that everyone did poorly on their first essay because mr. coleman was grading it hard on purpose.
“it leaves room for improvement,” myrcella says, taking her shireen’s hand and squeezing it. shireen doesn’t know what myrcella’s grades are, but a flush of warmth fills her as she looks at her cousin.
“so it does,” says tywin lannister. “and you have even more room to improve than your cousin with your b plusses, i’ll imagine.”
myrcella looks as though she’s been slapped and shireen glares at tywin. he’s not her grandfather. “oh leave off.”
“this from a girl with minuses on her report card,” tywin says, raising his eyebrows at her.
shireen’s eyes narrow. “what did you get in tenth grade history?” she demands.
tywin lannister’s eyes narrow, and shireen turns to her father. “and you, dad? what did you get?”
her father frowns. “you’ve done better than i did,” he says, words coming through his gritted teeth.
“and we’ll continue to,” myrcella says, throwing her hair over her shoulder. “so leave off.” and she and shireen get up from the couch and go into the living room. as they leave the room, shireen hears her father ask, “what grade did you get in tenth grade history?”
Chapter 172: Robb x Myrcella
boarding school is the best thing that ever happened to myrcella. the very best thing. away from her parents constant arguments, away from joff’s snide comments about whatever popped into his head, away from uncle stannis’ sniping and her grandfather constantly asking why there was a minus after that a on her report card.
she didn’t have to care about any of it at boarding school–at least on a daily basis. she texted tommen often, and he’d ask her how much longer he’d have to wait to go away.
she loves it–sitting on a bench on the quad while the leaves changed around her, the air crisp in her nose and mouth and her mind full of whatever it was she’d just gotten out of her history or english or physics or trigonometry class.
but she’s not fully detached. not with tommen, but also not with robb. she’s known robb her whole life, and he’s a senior so she doesn’t see him much, but it’s hard not to remember him in his christmas sweaters building snow forts with his siblings while her father got drunk with his.
he always asks her how she is. and she knows he’s doing it because she’s like a little sister to him, but she blushes every time, and sisters shouldn’t blush when brothers talk to them, should they?
Chapter 173: Robb x Margaery
the first time she sees him, he’s pushing a boy in a wheelchair through a park. the boy looks just like him, maybe six or seven years younger. the same difference as her and willas, or nearly. he’s smiling, and the boy in the chair is twisted up, looking at him as he rolls along, telling him some story or other, and margaery smiles.
she’s not used to boys with families, in truth. girls–yes. every girl she’s ever been interested in has had sisters and brothers, but the boys…they never have, for some reason. most of the boys she sees who do care about their families end up feeling like her own brothers, and her own interest flits away too quickly.
his name is robb. and his brother’s name is bran. bran fell when he was seven, and hasn’t walked since. margaery walks with them sometimes, through the park, and for some reason, when robb talks about his other brothers, and his sisters, it doesn’t feel like her own brothers talking about each other, or her.
and when he smiles, his eyes sparkle in his face.
margaery has always liked blue eyes.
Chapter 174: Belwas x Wylla
it is almost sad, he thinks, that she must keep her hair covered while she works in the kitchen. but health codes are health codes, and belwas doesn’t want his restaurant inspected again. bad enough that the inspectors from the department of health had found his bathrooms inadequately clean the last time. he wonders what would have happened if they’d found a dyed green hair in their salad.
belwas has always liked a girl with meat on her bones, and wylla is one such girl. she says it’s from tasting her own cooking too much, but belwas has seen her father and grandfather. he doesn’t mind it. in truth, he finds it comforting. sometimes he gets stares from people because of his girth. they think he should work out, lose some weight, not knowing that he can lift four hundred pounds. belwas likes to fill his stomach, so he does. he is not unhealthy. but people look at him as though he is.
not wylla though. she’ll berate him for keeping bad hours, and buying bad wine, and forgetting to hire a dishwasher. belwas doesn’t mind. wylla speaks her mind, and cooks well, and brings many people to his restaurant. she makes his restaurant feel like it has life again, and for that, he’ll hear whatever she says with love.
Chapter 175: Asha x Jon
jon hates theon’s friends. he doesn’t much like theon, either, but he’ll go anywhere robb drags him to. they both will. that’s why they tolerate eachother, him and theon. for robb.
but as much as jon doesn’t like theon’s friends, he likes even less being dragged to theon’s sister’s halloween party. he puts on a dark t-shirt and a dark cloak and a mask and pretends he’s batman (”shitty batman” theon laughs), but he doesn’t care if he’s shitty batman or not–he’s only going because robb wants to go get blasted after his lsats.
so jon goes, as shitty batman, and robb goes as a much less shitty superman, and theon’s ironman because fuck dc, and jon takes two, three, four tequila shots and drinks god knows how much beer until he feels a little bit fuzzy when he stumbles into the kitchen for some water.
there’s someone standing between him and the kitchen sink.
“and who are you supposed to be?” she’s very obviously a pirate, with a scepter…no…that’s the wrong word. a scimitar. that’s it. the curvy sword. at her hip, and an eyepatch and a very low cut shirt.
“i’m batman,” he says, his voice gravelly gruff. they’ve been making him talk like christian bale all night.
she wrinkles her nose. “ok. cut that crap. also your costume’s shit.”
“yeah. i’ve been told,” he says normally. she hands him a cup of water and he downs it. he feels woozy, still but at least he’s a little less thirsty. a little. “yours isn’t much better,” he points out.
“isn’t it? are you saying i’m a shitty pirate queen?”
jon looks her up and down again. his vision is blurry, and he can’t quite focus his eyes, and for a second she looks like theon and then he doesn’t remember how he got on the floor but the pirate queen is sitting next to him, forcing more water into his hand. “drink up, greenland boy. i don’t want you sick all over my kitchen floor.”
Chapter 176: Sam & Jon
“slayers?” jon says, raising his eyebrows.
“look, you’ve rejected pretty much everything else,” pyp says, rolling his eyes. “and don’t let’s pretend you and sam don’t do some mad slaying.”
“please don’t call it that,” sam says. “it makes it sound harder than it is. besides–if it is going to be something like that, it should be slayer–singular. jon’s the one who slays with his singing. not me. i just play.”
“i couldn’t do that,” says grenn loudly. “the way you move your fingers? you fucking slay, sam. come on, let’s call the band slayers.”
jon looks at sam. sam doesn’t like calling attention to himself. he thinks it’ll cause him trouble. so what if he’s lead guitar and he literally does fucking slay every time they reach the bridge. sam doesn’t want that attention. even though sam deserves that attention.
“i’m for it,” jon says quietly. sam flushes pink. he doesn’t say a word, but when his eyes dart to jon’s they’re overbright and full of love.
Chapter 177: Sansa x Smalljon
at least three times a summer, there would be barbecues. great big barbecues, and everyone in the subdivision would come–the karstarks would bring the punch, the umbers would bring the sauce that had come up with mrs. umber’s family from texas, the mormonts would bring an enormous fruit salad, and they’d all sit around reminiscing about when the kids were kids, and robb and smalljon had been on the same soccer team and had been a menace to the kids over at lakeside.
robb’s older now, and gone away. law school on the west coast, and sunglasses and a wide grin. but smalljon’s still smalljon, with his broad grin and his shaggy beard that he jokes grew in only in the last four hours.
at least three times a summer, if not four times, sansa and smalljon get drunk together and tell stories that they’ve relived a hundred times, of when they were little, of when theon greyjoy got drunk and went skinny dipping in the community pool, of when wylla manderly dyed her hair green just for school spirit and hadn’t realized that it wasn’t the sort of dye that came out after a few washes. they’d sit there, slowly drinking themselves blind, and pretending not to notice that the other had really grown much less awkward after college.
Chapter 178: Sansa x Edric
Sansa trips when she gets out of the elevator, and it’s only the reflexes that her post-Joffrey self-defense classes had beaten into her that keep her from smashing her nose against the linoleum floor.
“Sorry!” she hears someone say behind her and she bites back a groan as she twists to see what she tripped over.
A leg. She’d tripped over a leg, which was now being drawn away from the elevator door to curl up in front of a boy whose arm…is stuck inside a vending machine.
She blinks at him, her eyes darting between his arm and his face. He’s blushing a bit, but looks determined not to express any other form of embarrassment. At least about his arm.
“Sorry–wasn’t paying attention. Meant to drag my leg in but I clearly… yeah.”
Sansa gets to her feet and straightens her skirt, then crouches down in front of him, examining his arm.
“A can of pringles,” he explains.
“Worth it?” she asks.
“Not quite, I’m afraid.”
“How long have you been like this?”
He looks sheepish. “Forty minutes. Anguy said he was calling campus police to try and get me out but I haven’t seen him since.”
Sansa pulls out her phone and scrolls through to find the phone number, then dials. “Hello, I’m on the fourth floor of Eyrie Hall and…” she looks at him.
“Ned Dayne,” he supplies.
“Ned Dayne has his arm stuck in the vending machine. Yes. No, it wasn’t a joke phone call the last time. He’s been here for forty minutes so if you could…thanks.” She hangs up.
Ned rolls his eyes. “Anything I can get you?” she asks. “Water? Ice?”
“Pringles?” he asks, then laughs at her expression. “I could do with some company. I’m about to start talking to the walls.”
Sansa checks her watch. She doesn’t have rehearsal for another half an hour. She’d been planning on getting in a quick episode of Scrubs before, but this seems like just as good an option. So she sits on the ground next to Ned and says. “I’m Sansa, by the way.”
Chapter 179: Selyse & Melisandre
she’d seemed so self-assured when selyse had first met her, but as they walk through the haunted house, stannis and davos up ahead of them, she hears melisandre’s breath grow faster, more shaky.
“it’s all right,” selyse says, patting her on the arm. “i mean, these things are stupid. it’ll be fine.”
she sees the outline of melisandre’s head bob. “yeah, i know. i just am a little….” her voice trails away and they hear a clinking of metal up ahead and then there’s a breeze and a spooky noise and melisandre practically jumps out of her skin and grabs selyse’s arm. up ahead she hears davos call, “you all right back there?”
“fine,” selyse responds, then rests her own hand on mel’s and squeezes. more quietly, she adds, “i’m here with you.”
“thanks,” melisandre says. then, a moment later, she blurts, “scared of the dark. i’m just a little scared of the dark is all.”
Chapter 180: Bran x Shireen
sansa’s up ahead with joffrey, robb’s with theon, arya and jon are both jumping out of shadows to try and scare them, myrcella had chosen to sit with tommen outside the house because he was afraid to go in, and rickon was too young and not pleased about it. ordinarily, bran’s sure that arya and jon would have pushed his chair, but they seem determined to try and scare sansa and robb, and so shireen offers to push him.
it reduces some of the fear, really. being in a haunted house that has all these wheelchair ramps. they all have illuminated strips along the edge so that shireen knows where to push.
“you’re not frightened, are you?” bran asks her as they hear a ghoulish cackle up ahead. he sees arya in the shadows, her eyes on joffrey and a look of determination on her face.
“no,” shireen says, but her voice quivers. “you?”
“no,” bran says. he used to be scared of the dark–when he was a baby. sansa had told him stupid stories about how if he hid under his blanket he’d be safe from them. he knows better now, though. there is nothing in the dark. just the unknown that people are afraid of.
they circle round a column and shireen lets out a shriek and ducks down behind bran’s chair. bran blinks. the decapitated head of a clown, bells jingling from his hat. it looks obviously fake, but it had clearly shocked her. bran turns around in his chair.
“it’s all right,” he says, smiling down at her. “he can’t hurt you.”
“i hate clowns,” shireen whispers to him. “i used to have nightmares that one would eat me.”
bran reaches down behind his chair and squeezes her hand reassuringly. “i used to be afraid of the dark,” he says quietly. he doesn’t want arya to hear. “we’ll make it through together.”
shireen nods up at him, takes a deep breath and stands up, averting her gaze from the clown’s head.
Chapter 181: Sansa x Edric
sansa opens the door to find a boy about her age standing in front of it with a bag of flour.
“hello?” she says.
“hi neighbor,” he smiles. “just saw you moving in and thought i’d bring you some flour in case you hadn’t stocked your kitchen.”
sansa blinks at him. she hasn’t stocked her kitchen yet, but that’s hardly the point. was this something people did? did people just bring flour to a new neighbor’s apartment? and why did he have flour handy? didn’t he use it?
“thank you,” she said. “i’m sansa.”
“ned,” he grins.
“and i’m not stealing your flour, am i?” she asks. “it’s not…“
“nah. i don’t cook. used to. but ordering pizza’s too easy.” his smile hasn’t disappeared yet. it’s a nice smile. he’s got nice eyes too. almost purple they’re such a dark blue. “do you cook?” he asks her quickly.
“i bake, mostly,” she says. “muffins and scones and lemon cakes.”
“lemon cakes. cool,” he says, nodding his head. he looks a little ridiculous, but it’s sweet.
sansa’s not an idiot. she knows what this is, and she should find an excuse to close the door and get back to unpacking, but instead, she hears herself say, “would you like to come in? i have a batch my mother made me as a move in present. they’re not as good as mine, but they’re lemon cakes.”
Chapter 182: Jon x Ygritte
the woods are silent around him, and he can only hear the sound of the snow crunching beneath ghost’s paws. it’s cold. very cold. and he could be inside by now. ghost had done his business. but he’s not quite ready to go back. not when catelyn’s probably opened a second bottle of champagne to celebrate robb’s engagement. it’s not robb’s fault, he thinks to himself. robb just went and fell in love. don’t be ridiculous.
“jon snow?” his head jerks around and he sees her. she’s seated on one of the benches on the trail and she’s got a joint dangling between her fingers.
“hey ygritte,” he says. “what you doing out here? aren’t you cold?”
“buzzed,” she shrugs. she offers him the joint. he shouldn’t take it from her, not when he has to go back to the party. taking ghost for a walk is a feeble excuse and can’t take him nearly as long as he needs. but he does take it and inhales deeply before passing it back to her, feeling the familiar sensation of his skin buzzing lightly.
“you’re all dolled up,” ygritte points out.
“then why are you here?” she asks.
“ghost,” he says, pointing to the dog. ghost has sat down in the snow now, and is watching them silently. always silently.
“like he couldn’t have shat in the yard,” ygritte says. she pats the bench next to him. “well, i was taking some me time, but if you want to share it with me you’re welcome.”
jon looks at her and arches an eyebrow. “me time?”
she laughs, and when his ass hits the bench, he finds his lips meeting hers. the party can wait for a while. he’ll share ygritte’s me time–especially since she asked him to.
Chapter 183: Sansa x Edric
Tyrell’s watching him, trying to decide if he’s going to pick him off. Ned watches Tyrell, then turns his attention back to Florent, who is standing with his foot neatly on first base. Ned bends his legs, as Tyrell checks him again. Fuck it–he’s going. And he takes off as fast as he fucking can, and he slides into second, brown dirt crusting his pants as Fossoway’s glove hits him on the shoulder. But the ump’s swinging his arms, declaring him safe, and he grins to himself as a roar fills the stadium.
Gendry’s up to bad now and the cheers don’t dissipate. They get louder and the sounds of “we will rock you” fills the stadium on the speakers. Behind the plate, Ned sees Arya jumping up and down and cheering violently and he can’t make out the words that she’s saying but he’s sure they’re some combination of vulgar and vehement.
His eyes flicker along the row. Arya’s brought friends with her tonight. He sees her brother Jon, and her brother Bran, and Hot Pie, and Lommy Greenhands and her mentee Weasel and someone that Ned’s never seen before. She’s got red hair, like Bran, and she’s standing there waving a purple foam finger.
She’s very pretty and–
A roar fills the stadium. Gendry’s marking his hit, pointing to the bleachers behind right field. He lines up, and waits. Tyrell checks Ned again, which reminds him to lead. He’d been distracted by the girl near Arya and had forgotten. It’s unlike him–getting distracted by pretty girls in the crowd. Not that he hasn’t seen them before it just takes a lot to get him to notice them. And damn it he’s letting himself get distracted again.
Tyrell winds up, pitches to Gendry and Gendry’s bat connects to the ball with a resounding smack and Ned takes off, rounding third and making his way towards home. He hears the crowd erupt and knows that Gendry’s hit it out of the park and doesn’t bother sliding into home because he sees Pod waiting by the plate, grinning and holding up his fist to bump.
Ned bumps, pats Pod’s ass to wish him luck on his at bat, then strolls to the dugout, grinning at the people behind the plate.
Arya calls something to him as he passes, but he can’t hear her and doubles back.
“He makes your life easy, doesn’t he?”
“Yep. Nice and easy,” Ned grins. “Hope you’re having fun.”
His eyes drift along the row again to the girl standing beside Bran. Arya’s follows his gaze. “Have you met Sansa? My sister?”
“No, I don’t think I have,” Ned says. He really should get back to the dugout. This is unprofessional. They’re not supposed to chat with people but he’s not up at bat for ages and there are no outs. “Ned Dayne,” he says.
“Nice to meet you,” she says. Now that he’s closer, he sees a purple Rockies uniform under her sweatshirt. He likes her in the color purple. It makes her eyes and hair both look–
“Dayne!” he hears Beric shout from the dugout. “Get back here.”
“Right,” Ned says quickly. “Nice to meet you too, Sansa.”
Chapter 184: Stoneheart
Merrett hears the door creak behind him and he reaches for his holster.
He’s jumpy. Embarrassingly so. He’s done this before. He has. It’s not like he’s never been on a murder investigation before. It’s not like he hasn’t been on the force for twenty years.
He looks around, his eyes adjusting to the dark, then swallows. “Hello?” he calls.
No one replies, but he hears another creaking sound, and what sounds like feet overhead. He takes out his gun. He feels better with a gun in hand.
That’s when she steps out. He can’t see her face, but that doesn’t matter. She’s alone, and she’s standing there, smaller than he is. And frail. He puts his gun away.
That was the first mistake.
Or the second. The first was coming here at all.
“You’ve heard about Petyr?” he asks. His voice is weedy. He should sound bigger. Like a full-on cop.
The woman doesn’t say anything, and he has a horrible, horrible feeling. She lowers her headscarf and he sees her face and he lets out a scream and reaches for his gun, but he can’t–someone’s grabbed his arm.
There’s something around his throat and up he goes. Up, up, up.
Chapter 185: Sam & Sansa
she comes in every saturday, her dark hair tucked up in a blue hat that matches her eyes as though she’s trying to hide it. she strolls up and down the shelves, pulling out books here and there, reading the backs, flipping to the first page, reading for a few minutes before either putting it back or tucking it under her arm.
sam shouldn’t have noticed her name. his sisters would tell him it’s creepy, it’s weird, it’s wrong, it’s a violation of privacy. but she’s one of his more regular customers and she doesn’t even have a book club account and she’s got a nice smile when she comes to the till.
“how are you today, alayne?” he asks her, accepting three romance novels and a copy of beloved from her hands.
she looks at him, surprised, then her eyes soften in a smile. “well,” she says.
“you read this?” he asks, scanning beloved.
“no,” she says. “my lit professor said that i should read it on my own and that we’d focus on some of morrison’s other works.”
“it’s powerful,” sam says.
“good. i need something powerful.” she hands him her credit card, takes the bag of books and goes out into the grey day, and sam wonders if it will be intrusive to ask what she thinks of it when she comes in next saturday.
Chapter 186: Aeron
Aeron does not like to think of his younger days. The ones that he spent high and drunk and fornicating and urinating in public spaces.
He was a sinner then. As different a man from the man he is now than he is from his brother Euron, who is still godless.
But sometimes, in his dreams, he remembers. He remembers moshing to the devil’s music, grinding his private parts against some slattern, losing his wallet in the crowd and sneaking around finding half-empty beer cups to drink from, because he could no longer pay for his own.
Those dreams, when he wakes up, tempt him, for in the moments after waking, he forgets who he is now, and only remembers who he was then.
Chapter 187: Sansa x Podrick
“you can’t!” sansa blurts out, staring at him, and pod almost drops the slice of pizza on its way to his mouth.
“it’s breakfast. you can’t have cold pizza for breakfast.”
pod blinks at her. “oh yes you can,” he mumbles blushing.
“cold pizza? for breakfast? have toast. or eggs. or something!”
but pod shakes his head. he’s had plenty of toast and eggs for breakfast. he wants his cold pizza. he cocks his head and looks at sansa. “cold pizza is breakfast food,” he says. he doesn’t addbrienne and i used to have it all the time. he feels like that might make him sound defensive.
“it’s not,” sansa insists. her hands are on her hips now.
“it is. have you ever had it?”
“who would eat pizza cold?”
“try it.” he says, and he extends the slice to her lips. “look, if you don’t like it, i’ll make a proper breakfast, all right.” he hopes he won’t regret this.
sansa stares at the pizza as if afraid it’s poison, then she nibbles the end of it. “go on. a proper bite.” she takes a bigger bite, and pod watches as a warmth fills her eyes. “see?”
“yeah. a delicacy quite in its own right.”
“do we have another slice?”
and pod grins.
Chapter 188: Cersei x Jaime
it starts with jaime. starts with cersei and ends with jaime. that’s how it’s always been, since the day they were born. starts with cersei and ends with jaime. just how it should be. just how it should be.
it was her idea, after all. robert baratheon would make an easy mark. but they’ll expect you, cersei. you’re his wife. i should be your wife.
and he did. make an easy mark. too easy. a little wine to lancel, a little careful planning and he was gone, and cersei was free. from there they moved on to his brothers, stannis and renly, careful–carefully, and by the time the police even figured out that the murders were connected, they were so far down the wrong trail that they’d never guess that it was cersei and jaime, cersei and jaime as it always was, and always was meant to be.
it starts with cersei, and ends with jaime. jaime and his cold feet and his golden hands. jaime who looks at her differently, who’s gone soft. jaime whose eyes go dark when he comes into her room at night, and for a moment, she’s afraid he won’t stop choking her before he enters her the way he usually does.
Chapter 189: Maege x Tormund
She wanted something a little more…fighty. Like, something that could take down a bear in the woods or something. But Tormund took one look at the St. Bernard’s droopy eyes and rubbed his nose against it and Maege suspected that it might be a lost cause.
She didn’t mind St. Bernards, really. They were plenty big. (Good for defending against bears.) But they were just a bit lethargic for her taste. She was afraid that Tormund would wear the poor pup out.
She wasn’t wrong. The first night she came home from work, Longclaw didn’t even have the strength to raise his head up from where he’d rested it on his paws. His tail thumped against the ground at the sight of her, but that was it.
“What did you do to him?” she asked Tormund, who was cooking steaks in the kitchen. Tormund only cracked a grin, and Maege rolled her eyes preemptively, knowing full-well that he’d be throwing out some comment about what he’d like to do withher that night.
Chapter 190: Arya
She doesn’t know why she’s in this room.
It’s not the audition that’s the trouble. She’s been auditioning for years. Hell, she’s in the theater program, and has already tried out for four shows and gotten callbacks for all of them. She’s a good actor. She’s a good dancer too. She likes performing. It’s fun. Wearing someone else’s face for a little while, letting her heart flow into another character’s…it’s something she’s just good at and always has been.
Singing though. Singing she’s never been good at, ever. So she doesn’t know why she’s standing in this room at all, staring at ten girls, all of them older than her, who all seem very tired.
“All right, let’s begin with a warm-up,” says one of the oldest girls. Her name was Bethany and she was holding a pitchpipe in one hand. “We’ll start with a simple exercise.” She sings a scale and, god, Arya knows that scale too well, knows it from hearing Sansa sing it all the time to warm up for her voice lessons. Sansa’s the singer. Not me, Arya thinks desperately. “We’ll all sing the first one together, then the altos will drop out, then the sopranos will drop out and you’ll keep going on your own. Ready?”
But they’re beginning, and Arya’s singing with them and she hates her singing voice so much, it sounds raspy and whispy and she only ever sings with Jon because Jon doesn’t make fun of how ridiculous she sounds. And now she’s singing in front of people. The altos drop out, then the sopranos, and halfway through Arya’s first scale on her own, her voice breaks. She blushes, and one of the girls smiles and Arya can’t tell if it’s a mean smile like Jeyne Poole’s or if it’s supposed to be encouraging, but her stomach twists. She stops after the scale, and Bethany nods at her. “Keep going.”
“But my voice cracked.”
“That’s all right. You’re just nervous. Keep on going up. I’ll tell you when to stop.”
So Arya sings the next one, and the next one, and the next one, feeling her voice quaver more and more the higher she goes. She hates her singing voice–hates it. Your voice is supposed to get prettier the higher it goes, not uglier. But Arya sounds like a dying cat, and she hates it. This is why she sticks to plays and never musicals. She’ll never be the actor who can sing as well. Dance–sure, though why you would dance and not sing would be anyone’s guess.
When at last Bethany stops her, Arya reaches up and rubs her throat nervously. She’s looking at the floor. “That was great,” she hears Bethany’s lie and feels her face redden. “Now we’re going to try the opposite. This time, we’ll sing going down, the sopranos will drop out, then the altos, then you until I tell you to stop.” She demonstrates a scale. “Ready?”
Arya shrugs, and they begin. The sopranos drop out, then the altos, and Arya’s singing. Down her voice bends, lower and lower. It sounds a little better, she thinks, but she’s too embarrassed to care.
“Try and connect through the notes a little more,” suggests one of the girls, with pretty blonde hair. “Nice, but it’s a little bit shouty. Like this.” She demonstrates, Arya repeats after her. The blonde haired girl grins. “Great.”
She keeps singing lower, and lower. She should have stopped by now, she’s sure. She can blame Jon for this. Singing along to crappy pop songs on the radio with Jon and his voice was low and so her voice was low because she always sang with him. Girls weren’t supposed to sing that low.
Down and down she sings, and one girl–the one with blue hair and one eye–begins quietly chanting “A-two A-two A-two” under her breath. Arya’s head jerks up and she looks at her. The one-eyed girl’s grin is so broad and her eyes are twinkling excitedly and Arya’s confused. So they like that she can sing this low?
“Can you go lower?” Bethany asked. Her voice is gentle, but there’s new interest there, unlike before.
“Yeah, I can,” Arya says, and she keeps singing. The one-eyed girl’s face splits into a look of pure delight and when Arya’s voice finally does give way, the girls burst into applause.
“Hell yeah, alto two,” grins the one-eyed girl, holding up her fist which Arya bumps.
“Alto two? Alto three really,” says the one girl who hadn’t joined the circle, but who is sitting at a desk, taking notes. The one-eyed girl pumps her fist excitedly, and lets out a hissed “Yesssssssss.”
“All right,” Bethany says. “Yna, I take it you want to teach Arya the alto part?”
“Hell yeah I do,” Yna grins, and she strides towards Arya, holding a piece of paper and she’s smiling–they’re all smiling, and Arya’s smiling too as Yna hands it to her and points to the lowest line on the paper and says. “That’s us. This is gonna be fun. I promise.”
Chapter 191: Sansa x Tyrion
“Sansa! Have you seen the memo from DOD?”
Her voice drifts in through his open door. “It’s on your desk, Tyrion?”
“In front of your nose.”
He looks again, and there it is, right in front of his nose. He flips it open, scans the first page, then closes it again. “Has Rosby called back yet?”
“He’s not in the office today,” Sansa responds.
“So he’s seeing a doctor, Tyrion. He’ll call in tomorrow.”
“The office of the President of the United States calls him. You’d think he’d reply.”
“Maybe the novelty has worn off,” Sansa says, rolling her eyes. She’s come to stand in the doorway. She doesn’t like shouting back and forth—at least, doesn’t like it compared to coming and talking. (“Like normal people do, Tyrion.” “I don’t have that kind of time.” “You could pick up your phone and call.” “Yeah, but where’s the fun in that?”)
“The novelty doesn’t wear off when the President of the United States needs you,” Tyrion says grumpily. In truth, it doesn’t bother him so much, but it would be nice to get the Rosby business out of the way now. It’s rare in the White House that you have a moment to get ahead on work, and he’d been looking forward to that tremendously.
Sansa shrugs. “I can try and get you Stokeworth?” she suggests. “You said she owes you some favors?”
“Don’t want to cash in on them yet,” he says. He turns back to the DOD memo. He doesn’t hear Sansa’s shoes clicking away back to her desk. “You’re hovering,” he tells her.
“Tyrion,” she begins, and he recognizes that tone of voice.
“Look—it’s fine,” he says. “It really is.”
“It’s not fine!” she insists. “You shouldn’t go if you don’t want to go.”
“I can’t say no. I’ve already said I’d go,” he says.
“You work for the President. I’m pretty sure you could come up with some excuse.”
“Not one my father wouldn’t see through. It’s fine, Sansa. I know how to take him.” Or at least, manage it. Tyrion’s glad that the Oak Room has good wine in large quantities. Always the best technique to manage his father.
“Tyrion,” Sansa begins, and he looks up at her. She’s taken her hair out of the ponytail it had started off in, and it falls in gentle waves over her shoulder. “Why do you—”
“Look,” he says, exasperated. “It’s family. All right? You do things for family, even if you don’t want to.” Even if you shouldn’t, he thinks, but doesn’t say. Sansa, at least, will understand doing things for family. She’s got a big family, and loves them.
“I’ll come with you, then,” Sansa says.
“You shouldn’t go alone,” she says, and her eyes are shining, and she’s got that steely, determined look that started cropping up about a month after they’d gotten settled into the White House. “I’m going with you.”
“Sansa, you really don’t have to. You don’t know my dad.”
“I know enough,” she said darkly. “You wouldn’t leave me alone if I were thrown to the lions.”
“No, but that’s different.”
“How?” she demands.
He doesn’t know how, and doesn’t know what to say. He’s not the type to get choked up, but it feels like there’s something sticky in his throat. People don’t get between him and his dad. Not ever. And then here’s Sansa without a degree in any of the six majors she’d had in college because she’d never settled and then had dropped out to move halfway across the country with stupid Harry who wasn’t near good enough for her.
She turns and looks at him over her shoulder as she makes her way back to her desk. “Seven?”
And it takes him a second to realize what she’s saying. “Yes,” he calls after her, and she smiles at him.
Chapter 192: Sansa x Sandor
Sansa sits in the car and waits, her fingers drumming on the steering wheel, her eyes on the door of the office in front of her. She’s parked, but her feet twitch. She wants to drive, wants to be on the road.
He’s late. He was supposed to have gotten out ten minutes ago. She checks her phone again, and sees no text message from him, no indication of anything. Once, she might have been afraid that that would have meant he wasn’t coming, that he hadn’t gone at all. But she knows better. It’s the one thing that she can rely upon—that he’ll never lie to her.
The door opens at last, and Sandor comes out, zipping up his leather jacket, his grey eyes scanning the parking lot until he sees her. He walks towards her—not quickly, not slowly, and doesn’t say a word when he gets in the car. She turns it on, and backs out of her spot and eases into rush-hour traffic.
“Well?” she asks when they reach a stop light. She looks at him out of the corner of her eyes. His eyes are bloodshot, and his face is a bit pale.
“How was it?”
“It was fine,” he snaps. “Exactly what you’d expect. All sorts of mumbo jumbo about my brother, and childhood trauma, and all that other bullshit. As if I didn’t know that.”
“Sandor,” she says gently, and he sighs.
“I have an appointment for next Monday. Standing appointment, until he says my head’s shrunk up nice and good.”
“And you’re going?” Sansa asks. The light turns green. He’d kissed her the first time in front of a green light in the dead of night. The car hadn’t budged then, but Sansa nudges it forward now.
“Yes,” he says and he sounds suddenly small, suddenly nervous. “Yes, I’m going.”
She reaches out a hand and takes his in hers, and squeezes it as tightly as she can.
“I’m proud of you,” she says. “It’s hard. But it’s important.”
He doesn’t say a word. He just holds her hand as if he never wants to let it go.
Chapter 193: Sansa x Sandor
Jeyne has forgotten to take out the garbage again, and Sansa feels exasperation bubble up in her, even though she knows she shouldn’t. It’s not a big deal. It’s really not. She can take the garbage out again. Even if it is annoying. Even if Jeyne never remembers and Sansa always ends up dragging the bag out on both Monday and Thursday, even though she should only need to drag it out once a week because Jeyne was supposed to do her fair share.
Jeyne’s going through a lot right now, Sansa reminds herself. But all the same, she said she’d do it. Maybe it would be different if she’d said she wasn’t able to right now. Then Sansa wouldn’t have the constantly dashed hopes that she’d do it.
She lugs the bag down the driveway right as the garbage truck pulls away, and Sansa hears herself calling out, “Wait! Please! Wait!”
She’s sure that the driver doesn’t hear her, but the man standing on the back of the truck seems to and he waves at the driver for a second and the truck stops. He jumps down off the back of the truck and walks towards her. He’s very tall—much taller than Sansa, and she hadn’t noticed while he’d been standing on the truck, but half his face is burned and melted.
“Thank you,” she says to him, smiling. He doesn’t smile back.
“You should take your shit out sooner,” he says. “We’re going to be behind on our route.”
“I know,” she says quickly. “I appreciate it a lot. My roommate was supposed to do it, but she forgot.”
“Sounds like a lousy roommate,” he says.
“She’s been having a hard time,” Sansa says. “Anyway—thank you. I know you didn’t have to stop for me. It was good of you.”
He smiles down at her, and she can’t tell if it’s a true smile, or a leer. “Your veritable knight in shining armor,” he says, rolling his eyes. He heaves the garbage bag up and throws it into the back of the truck, then presses the compressor button.
Sansa thinks of Jeyne, burrowed in her blankets and prone to tears. Suddenly, she feels terrible at having been annoyed. This was nothing. She could take the trash out, if Jeyne wasn’t up to it yet. And she could thank this man, for all his unpleasantness, for helping her. “Yes, well,” she says quietly. “As good as, really.”
He looks at her defensively, as though unsure whether she’s laughing at him or if she’s being serious. And slowly, she sees the defensiveness wash away into something almost like…intrigue, she supposes.
He’s got lovely grey eyes. Very expressive.
“Anyway,” he says, getting back on the truck, and the moment’s gone.
“Thank you again,” Sansa says.
“Get your garbage out on time next time,” he says gruffly, but not roughly. There’s something gentle in that gruffness.
“I’ll try,” Sansa says, a little breathlessly.
The garbage truck pulls away, and Sansa shakes herself again before going up the driveway to her own car, and work.
Chapter 194: Sansa x Sandor
It’s not the feel of her that makes him breathless—though that doesn’t hurt. Certainly not. It’s better than he’d thought it would be. Better than he’d imagined, months of nights with his hand and the memory of the color of her hair. It’s not the feel of her lips on his lips, on his neck, his chest, her hands tracing the curve of his spine, brushing along his burned cheek. Not even the feel of her legs wrapped around his waist, the soft wet heat of her as he pushes in gently, the feeling of her breath coming out of her in little gasps in time with his rhythm.
It’s her eyes.
Clear and blue and dazed but not dazed, not fully, because there’s a presence to them, a determination, a warmth, a welcome, some sort of love.
It’s not the feel of her that makes him breathless. It never has been. It’s been how she looks at him. Kindness in the face of his rage, in the face of his tears, before, long ago, when he’d been more beast than man. And now…love. It’s love he sees there in her eyes, and his own eyes prickle and he feels himself begin to tremble and lose himself within her.
Chapter 195: Arya
Arya reads through the little yellow pamphlet slowly. There’s chorus, and orchestra, and dance, and theater, and art, and soccer, and basketball, and swimming, and all sorts of other sports as well. She chews her lips as she reads, and feels a hand coming to rest on her head.
“What do you think?” her father asks. He’s got a smile on his face as she looks up at him.
“What’s fencing?” she asks him, pointing to the one she hadn’t recognized.
“It’s sword fighting,” her father says.
“Sword fighting!” Arya exclaims, excited. She hadn’t thought that people still sword-fought, much less that she could take lessons.
“Ned,” she hears her mother say from the living room, “She’snine.”
“So? It’s lessons, Cat. It’s not like we’re in the middle ages. She’ll be fine.”
So Arya signs up for fencing lessons, which will take place twice a week after school.
“Where are your arrows, Arya?” Ms. Mordane is leaning over her shoulder, frowning. She leans closer, and her frown deepens. “And how are you going to know where you made a mistake if you skip steps?”
“But I’m right,” Arya mumbles. She is. She’s good at math. She always has been. Memorizing multiplication tables the year before had been fun, and given how Sansa had gone about how horrible they were, Arya had expected them to be worse than anything ever. And long division…long division isn’t hard. It’s not easy, but it’s not hard.
“Yes,” Ms. Mordane says primly, “In this instance, you are, but what if you make a mistake? You won’t even be able to see how? And–Arya! You need to redo this whole page. You didn’t show your steps on any of them.”
“Your sister never gave me this much trouble. Do the problems again, and do them completely, or I’ll send you to the vice principal.”
Arya blinks back tears. Everyone’s staring at her. They aren’t even as good at math as she is, but she’s the one Ms. Mordane was picking on, like usual. And she hadn’t made any mistakes. She’d gotten the answers right.
When the bell rings, she grabs her things and shoves them into her desk, ignoring Ms. Mordane’s calls to tell her not to bang the lid shut. She doesn’t care.
She hurries to the school’s entrance and looks around for the fencing teacher. Today’s her first day, and her father had told her that she would find him at the school’s entrance and that he would take her to the gym at the high school.
“Are you Arya?” a man asks her. He has an earring and no hair.
She nods, and he smiles at her. “I’m Syrio.”
She follows him out of the building and across the campus.
He hands her a sword, and Arya feels her eyes light up as she holds it. It’s long and thin and she’s really holding a sword. “It’s heavier than I thought it would be,” she says.
Syrio smiles at her. “It’s heavy enough to make you strong,” he says. She swishes it, feeling a grin cross her face. “Not like that!” he says, and she flinches.
She hadn’t meant to cause trouble. She just wanted to swing the sword. It was sword lessons, after all. She was supposed to do that. But then again, she was supposed to do math in her math class, and Ms. Mordane never said she did it right.
She waits for him to keep berating her, the way Ms. Mordane always does, but he doesn’t. Instead, his hand comes up to hers, and he adjusts her fingers on the hilt. “Now try.” And she swings it. He smiles. “Does it feel like your arm?”
“It will,” he says. “Holding the grip right helps.” He winks at her. He’s not mad at her at all. Arya chances a small smile. Then, she straightens her shoulders and his smile widens.
Arya swings the sword again. This time, he holds up his own sword and blocks the swing and a ring of metal fills the gym and the jolt of the swords shoots up her arm.
“And again,” he says, and she swings it, and he blocks her blow. She swings it again, and again, and again, and he keeps blocking her, his smile never fading. “One day, you will hit me,” he says as she tries driving the tip of the sword at him. He blocks it. “Are you ready to begin?”
And Arya grins at him. “Yes,” she says happily. “I am.”
Chapter 196: Willas (Highgarden)
“You should probably take out the maximum, just to be safe.”
Garlan raises his eyebrows. “You don’t think that’ll make me look like a drug dealer, do you?” he says dryly.
“Look, business is good. And I can’t write a check. It’s to be safe. We don’t want to be fucked when we get our returns and realize we need to take out like, ten-k in cash because the Feds don’t—”
“Yeah, yeah. I was kidding,” Garlan says, grinning. “You going out to the greenhouse later today?”
Willas runs his hands through his hair. It’s a bit greasy. He’s trying out this new shampoo that Loras keeps bringing home that doesn’t have any sulfates in it…or, apparently…soap. He looks at the tax forms again. April fifteenth is creeping in, and he really should get these all sorted…But, at the same time, they’d hired a new bud-tender last week and Willas always gets antsy about the new bud-tenders.
“If I can,” he says.
“All work and no play makes Willas a dull boy,” Garlan teases.
“Going to the greenhouse is work,” Willas reminds him. It’s true, even if Garlan doesn’t see it that way.
They’d opened their dispensary nearly a year before, and business was booming. The legalization legislation had really opened up the market for it, and it wasn’t as though there wasn’t a bit of a…green thumb in the Tyrell family. Grandmother did not even bother to hide her disapproval. She had worked hard to help their grandfather with his honest gardening business. “I do not like my grandchildren selling marijuana, even if it is legal in this state now.” And dad…well dad had simply shrugged it off and hadn’t said anything at all. He hadn’t cared that Willas was leaving the Gardener Shop, hadn’t cared that Willas was striking out on his own…just hadn’t cared.
It had stung, but then again, it had always felt like nothing was ever good enough for his father, so why shouldn’t Willas start his own business to prove his mettle? Especially when his father never paid any attention to his business suggestions anyway?
He finds he likes it, too. Every day, he meets new people—and some of them are quite the characters. And he’s finally putting that business administration degree to use. But more than that, it feels like he’s really pulling his family together on his own terms. Garlan is a good business partner—charming with customers and thorough on the back end of things. Margaery, as it turns out, makes splendid brownies. Her pot butter is really well proportioned, and anything she bakes is an almost instant best seller. Even Loras involves himself, spreading the word among his basketball friends. It’s really quite the family enterprise.
It’s a thought that makes him chuckle. A family business for modern times—the Tyrells banding together to sell weed to the community. And, if Willas has his way, it won’t be long before it’s his business that people associate with the family, and his father’s and grandfather’s Gardener’s Shop will be a thing of the past, overshadowed by Highgarden and its future.
Chapter 197: Sansa x Edric
“what do you mean, arya’s busy?” ned asks her. he’s got a football in one hand and looks clearly disgruntled that arya’s unavailable to play.
sansa bites back a grin. “she’s reading.”
“reading?” ned says, raising his eyebrows. “now you–” he taps her nose “i would believe would forgo football for a book. arya? never.”
sansa feels her grin break through. “well, maybe you shouldn’t have suggested the book,” she says. “you know my sister better than i do, it would seem.”
“i could have told you that,” he says, rolling his eyes. “what book did i–?”
“pride and prejudice and zombies,” sansa says cheerily. “i’ve never seen her look more gleeful than realizing the netherfield ball was one giant zombie ambush. she growls at anyone who tries to part her from it, even if only for a second.”
ned’s jaw drops. “but…but i was joking when i suggested that.”
“i am a desperate woman, ned. i am determined that my sister understand the glories of mr. darcy. i will and did try anything. and it worked.” she plucks the football from his hand and tosses it in the air. “i guess you’ll have to find some other way to entertain yourself this afternoon.”
he catches her drift, and his expression turns wicked. “guess i will.”
Chapter 198: Stannis x Davos
Written for Vana.
Headcanon help from drownedbyyourstandards.
“Daaaaaaad.” Devan’s whine makes him sound younger than he is, and Davos rolls his eyes. “They’ll figure it out on their own. Daaad.”
“Order me an omelet with spinach,” Davos tells his son, patting him on the head. “And whatever kind of cheese you think sounds good with that.” His son has been in New York too long, Davos thinks to himself. He still gets annoyed when Davos’ Midwestern politeness takes over and he goes and helps unasked. Devan thinks it’s rude—inserting himself in someone else’s business. But Davos can’t help himself. And it’s clear that that man right there has no idea how to park a minivan.
They’re having brunch together. Just him and Devan in a diner on Third Avenue before they go back-to-school shopping. Devan’s about to start high school and though his and Marya’s budget really can’t manage, they’d decided he gets to buy as many new clothes as he likes—so long as he knows it’s a special occasion. It’s a rare day that Davos and Devan spend time alone together, and he is quite looking forward to it, for all he doesn’t like shopping and doesn’t much want to think about his credit card statement at the end of all this.
Davos steps out of the air conditioning, lets out a breath as the humid heat of August in New York smacks him hard, then rounds the corner to where the man is now trying—for the eighth time—to park his minivan.
“Hello,” Davos says to him. His window is rolled down, and there’s a girl standing on the curb, trying to help him. “Need some help?”
“No,” the man says through gritted teeth at the same time that the girl says,
“Dad—this is ridiculous.”
“I can do it.”
“You really can’t.”
Davos smiles at the girl. She’s about Devan’s age, he’d guess, though he has trouble with girls that age. They grow at different rates than any of his boys. But she’s certainly in the ballpark, he’d say. She’s got a set of scars that cover her cheek and neck that look like somewhere between burns, pockmarks, and some very bad scabs. But he doesn’t look at the scars for long. He sees her eyes, a bright shining blue, agitated, clearly, from trying to direct her father’s failed attempts at parallel parking.
Davos turns back to the man in the car. “You’re cutting a bit too late,” he says.
“When I try cutting earlier, I hit the curb,” the man retorts.
“You seem to be hitting the curb regardless.”
“Stupid blasted car,” the man mutters.
“Never driven a mini-van before?” Davos asks, and the man glares at him.
“It’s a rental,” the girl explains. “We’re scouting apartments and this was the only car available at LaGuardia.”
“Remind me never to fly into LaGuardia again,” the man in the car snaps.
“It’s better than the others, though that’s not saying much,” Davos says. “If you hop out, I can park it for you.”
The man’s eyes—blue, like his daughter’s—narrow. “And how do I know you’re not going to steal the car?”
“Why would anyone steal a minivan? Much less a rented one? If I were going to steal a car, it would at least be a four-seater. Not an eight.”
The man frowns and looks into the back of the car. The windows are tinted, and Davos can’t see what’s inside. “How did you know that this is an eight seater?” he asks.
“I have one,” Davos says. “You can ask my son if you like.” He looks towards the diner. Devan is pretending not to watch, all fake-“New York Cool” that he’s been honing in the past few years. Davos waves at him, knowing it’ll embarrass him. It does. Devan flushes and looks away.
“Come on, dad, let him park it,” the girl whines. “I want food.”
“All right, all right,” the man says, sounding harassed. He puts the car in park and Davos rounds the front. There’s a stream of cars behind them, waiting to get through the intersection and a few of them honk irritatedly when the man gets out of the car. Davos climbs into the driver’s seat, adjusts it—the man has longer legs than him—twiddles the mirror controls then pulls the car neatly into the parking space. The girl lets out a whoop. Davos raises the windows, pulls the seat back again and gets out of the car.
“Thank you,” the man says in a clipped tone.
“Pleasure’s all mine.” Davos smiles at him, then winks at the girl. “Would you like to join us for breakfast? You’re new in town, I take it?”
“Yes,” the girl says at once, though Davos can’t tell which question she’s answering. Nor, it seems, can her father. “Moving up from DC.” Her words seem to be the deciding moment.
“Stannis Baratheon,” the man says at last, extending his hand to Davos. “And Shireen.” He nods to the girl.
“Davos Seaworth,” Davos says. “And Devan,” he jerks his head towards the plate glass window, and out of the corner of his eye, sees Devan sink down in his chair. “Shall we?”
Chapter 199: Denyo
Yorko calls her “Salty,” because she is always muttering names under her breath. Denyo is sure he means it as a slight, but then again, Yorko can be quite the horse’s ass sometimes. Probably still bitter about Lanna, honestly.
Nan takes it in stride, though. “I’ve been called worse,” she says, shrugging and not elaborating. He supposes even Nan is a nickname so he lets it drop. But he wonders what it’s short for. She’d only ever been introduced as Nan before, and he’s not a native English speaker, but he’s pretty sure Nan is not it’s own name. He had thought it meant grandmother until Nan had grinned and told him it didn’t have to be.
She’s not salty at all. Well, not really. She is sweet, and manages to charm all the passengers, which can be quite a trial, especially when they are trapped on the runway at JFK for two hours before they can even take off and half of them don’t speak English and her Italian is good–good enough to have been put on this route–but not native. She’s good with people. Another thing Yorko probably takes issue with. He likes to be the charmer.
Denyo wonders where she learned it. She had to have spoken it to be put on the Rome route at all, but she didn’t go to college and she’s from Wisconsin.
She doesn’t say much about herself. Another thing that probably annoys Yorko. She listens and watches and laughs but she chews her lip and sidesteps questions about home, or even why she became a stewardess. Denyo reminds himself she is entitled to her privacy, even though there is no such thing as privacy on a plane, not with the people they’ve seen sneaking into the bathroom for a quickie or people talking too loudly to their neighbors and thinking no one else is listening, or even just sitting next to one another during takeoff and landing.
He’s invited her over for dinner after flights before. She had smiled, and kissed his cheek and told him some other time, but there never was another time. Denyo wonders if she’s lonely sometimes. And then he wonders if he’s projecting his own loneliness onto her.
But, then again, she always smiles in a way that never quite reaches her eyes.
Chapter 200: Arya x Aegon
For madaboutasoiaf, who has SUBMITTED her DISSERTATION!
It’s the sign of the bar that makes Aegon pick it. Rhaenys will always claim that she was the one that picked it. But it’s Aegon that does.
There’s an arrow pointing in: Nice drinks. Then an arrow pointing across the intersection: Dunno. Maybe bears? Wouldn’t risk it. It makes them both laugh. Clever, funny, welcoming. So they go into the bar and settle right at it.
It’s early enough in the evening that there are still seats at the bar. Aegon spots a few guys in suits, talking over each other and showing one another pictures on their phones; an old man sitting quietly at the end with a glass of wine; and a pair of lesbians so wrapped up in one another that they don’t even notice when Rhaenys accidentally brushes her purse against one of them.
“Hello,” the bartender says. She’s got a cheery expression to her eyes as she passes them menus. “Give a shout when you want to order.”
“Arya,” he hears one of the guys in suits call to her, and she winks at Rhaenys and hurries down the way to them. “Can you tell this idiot that even if—and I really mean if—his dad were to be nice to him out of the blue, it’s still not worth going home for Thanksgiving.”
“Are you trying to go home for Thanksgiving?” the bartender, Arya, asks one of the other be-suited men.
“Should, shouldn’t I?” says one with dark hair and a wide smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes.
“Yeah, but isn’t your dad a shmuck?”
“He’s my dad though.”
“Booo. Come home with Robb.”
The first man nods as if to say I told you so, and the second man smiles at her. “You’re just trying to get a higher tip from me,” he says.
“If I were trying to get a higher tip from you, Theon, I’d have tugged my shirt down a little lower before coming over.” She jerks her hip and head to one side and the two other guys make sounds of “Ohh! B-b-b-burn!” as she moves back down the bar. She pauses in front of the old man and Aegon hears her ask, gently, “Can I get you anything else?”
“No, thank you dear,” says the old man, smiling tremulously up at her.
She gives him a gentle smile before walking past the lesbians, her eyes drifting over them quickly before determining it would be best not to interrupt and she stops in front of Aegon and Rhaenys.
“What can I get you?” she asks.
“I’ll have the ginger jail,” Rhaenys says, handing over her menu, and the bartender grins. “You got it.” She turns her attention to Aegon. “And you?”
Aegon hasn’t looked at the drinks menu at all and his eyes drop to it. “What’s your specialty?” he asks, buying himself some time.
“Sex on the beach!” calls one of the suited men.
“Oh fuck you, Theon,” she snaps over at him at the same time that the third suited man says, “Oy, knock it off.”
“What?” Theon yelps to the third of them. “Little Sister’s all grown up.”
“Oh, quit being a drunk pisser.”
“Jon,” intones the first suited man.
“She’s your sister too, Robb,” snaps the third.
“Arya can take care of herself,” Robb says, and the third snorts.
“I know that. But someone needs to beat some sense into this one.”
“I’m still here you know,” grumbles Theon.
“Ignore them,” Arya says, rolling her eyes in their general direction and she settles her gaze back on Aegon. “What were you…?”
“Your specialty?” Aegon asks.
“Right.” She jerks a smile onto her face and says, “I make a better bloody Mary than you’ll find anywhere else, and if you’re trying to get gone in about one drink, I personally recommend the wolfsong.” She points to the description and Aegon feels his eyebrows raise of their own accord.
“The bears might have been safer,” he manages to say. “But I’ll try that.”
“Bears?” She looks confused.
“Your sign outside,” Rhaenys interjects.
Her face brightens. “Oh! Yeah. Probably. But you’ll never know, will you,” she grins and points to Rhaenys. “One ginger jail and one wolfsong.”
“Don’t ma’am me,” Arya scolds lightly and Rhaenys laughs.
The wolfsong is strong as all fuck, and Aegon’s vision is blurred almost instantly, and he’s not exactly a lightweight. He and Rhaenys giggle together (Rhaenys is a lightweight) and one of the suited guys comes over and hits on her, before noticing the huge rock on her finger, and then continues just to chat since he clearly wants to get away from the other two he’s with, who are now ending all of their sentences with the word “Bro,” something Aegon hadn’t thought could possibly happen in real live, but it seems he was wrong about that. Or maybe he’s making it up. He could be. He’s all blurryvisioned, maybe time’s doing weird things too.
“Youuuuu’ve got a nice smilllle,” he says at last to Arya, who’s talking with Rhaenys and Jon.
“There now,” Rhaenys tells Aegon, resting a hand on his arm.
“Thank you,” Arya says. “So do you.”
“And that bear thing was funnnnnny.” He hiccups. Arya grins. She’s very pretty. Very very pretty. He should tell her that. Or maybe he shouldn’t. Maybe then he’ll think she’s like Theon who gives better tips if she’s tugged her shirt down to show more cleavage. Aegon wishes she would. He bets she’s got lovely breasts.
“I’m glad you liked it,” she says.
He takes another sip of his wolfsong and doesn’t remember if they talk more after that.
The next afternoon, Aegon still has a splitting headache, but he is determined not to be defeated by it and makes his way back to the bar that Rhaenys says they’d stayed at for six hours the night before. He’s glad it’s dimly lit—bright lights are hard on his throbbing head. It’s mostly empty, too, except for the same old man sitting at the end of the bar with his glass of wine—and Arya.
“Back for more?” she teases, and Aegon feels a wave of nausea wash over him.
“No,” he says. “I’m never drinking that again,” and Arya grins at him.
“I should hope not. It’s only for the strong.”
“I’m strong,” he says weakly. “Just…”
“There’s no shame in being undone by wolfsong. She’s conquered many a hollow leg before.”
Aegon shudders at even hearing the name and Arya lets out a light laugh. She’s got a nice laugh.
“Hair of the dog?” she asks.
“Only if it’s weak,” he says.
“I’ve got just the ticket,” she says, and a moment later there’s a glass full of what looks like sludge in front of him. “It’ll help. I promise.”
He takes a sip, then another. It hasn’t helped, but it hasn’t hurt either. “Did you find my phone, by any chance? I’ve been retracing my steps as best I can, but it’s not at my sister’s place.”
“iPhone 6 in a dragon case?” she asks him.
“That’ll be it.”
She plucks it out of a plastic box behind the bar and dangles it between two fingers. “That’ll be sixty dollars. Finder’s fee.”
Aegon winces and almost goes for his wallet but takes a sip of his drink instead. Arya chuckles and plops the phone down in front of him on the bar. “You should be more careful with your things when you’re shitfaced. I’d hate to see you end up like Theon.”
It’s the mention of Theon’s name that makes him flush, because he’s remembering suddenly wishing he could see more of her cleavage and he’s noticing that her shirt is more low cut today.
“Well…I have somewhere to be for Thanksgiving at least,” he says. Arya snorts.
“That’s not what I was talking about,” she says dryly.
“Yeah. But…I guess I already lost the phone. Am I a lost cause?” he asks.
“Are you going to ask me out on a proper date?”
He freezes and looks at her in what he’s sure is an expression of deer in the headlights.
Arya bursts out laughing. “I didn’t think you’d remember. You were really gone when you kept going on about how I was the most beautiful thing you’d ever seen, and you’d treat me like a princess. But that might have been the wolfsong…except your blushing. So. Are you going to ask me on a proper date?”
Aegon’s face is so hot that he feels like it might melt off. He’d said that? And Rhaenys had let him? “I’m sorry,” he says, “I seem to have been worse than a freshman who’s drinking their first whatever.”
“It was endearing, really,” Arya says. She’s got such a lovely smile. So lovely.
“Would you like to go out with me?” he asks her, wishing that his voice didn’t crack in the middle of the question like bloody high school freshman.
“Yeah, I could be convinced,” Arya says, and she leans forward and kisses him on the cheek.
“The bears might be more dangerous though, I feel like warning you.”
“Still wouldn’t risk it.”
Chapter 201: Asha x Jon
“it was supposed to be steak.”
“steak? from an islander? no wonder you cocked it up.”
“oh shut up, if it’d been fish you’d be dying of joy and begging to know who taught me to cook, greenlander.”
“yeah, but it was your idea to make steak, so…” jon looks at the meat. it’s burned. it might still be good, not that he can say that to her. he’s definitely had steak that’s looked more…carcinogenic when it was grenn cooking the thing.
“dying of joy,” asha says, hands on her hips.
“of course,” jon says, grinning at her. “not that i’m dating you for your cooking skills.” he pinches her ass and she raises an eyebrow at him.
“want to eat something else for dinner?”
the steak is left on a plate on the counter for a good while yet.
Chapter 202: Jon x Ygritte
“Are you sure this is going to work?” Ygritte asks. She’s sitting on the couch, watching him, a spoon full of ice cream dangling between her fingers.
“Look, you change one bulb and the rest of the string lights up. That’s how it works. Has to do with…circuits.” Jon can’t remember exactly what it has to do with electrical circuits. He learned this when he was ten. But all the same, he knows.
“Really? Just change one bulb?”
“And it makes the whole string work. The dead bulb breaks the electrical flow, you see.”
“Come on, it’s true,” Jon says, exasperated.
“I mean, it might be. But I still think we should get new lights. Those look like they’ve been in your family since 1995.”
“Yeah, well,” Jon mutters. He finishes screwing in the tiny lightbulb and plugs in the fairy lights. the first half lights up. The second remains dark. “Fuck.”
“You know nothing, Jon Snow,” Ygritte laughs, and she reaches out a hand to pull him towards her for a kiss.
Chapter 203: Ned x Jaime
Ned blinks and stares at the screeen, hearing a mixture of laughter and applause from the crowd. That’s definitely him on the kiss cam. Definitely him. But they’re pointing it at the wrong seat. It’s not pointed at Cat. He gives her a look and she smiles at him sardonically.
“Well, now’s your chance to go for a hot blonde the way Robert always told you,” she says. She leans forward and waves at the man on Ned’s other side, who is sitting with his twin sister. She looks unamused, but the man is smiling.
Ned gulps, and turns to look at the blond man. “Jaime Lannister,” he says. “Good to meet you,” and a moment later, Ned feels his mouth against his own.
Chapter 204: Daenerys x Jaime
“your mum was a good cook.”
“she was?” dany feels curiosity rise in her breast. she never knew her mother, much less anyone who’d be able to tell her she was a good cook. viserys might have told her once, but she can’t remember. and besides, viserys would have said everything in his life before he met her was perfect. and she wasn’t sure she could believe him anymore.
“oh yeah. very good. could do things with spices i’d never have dreamed possible.” dany smiles up at him, waiting for him to say more but he doesn’t. “you didn’t inherit that from her.”
she glares at him. “that’s nice,” she says dryly, turning back to the stove.
“maybe no one taught you,” he says quickly. “i don’t know. but you’re no rhaella targaryen.”
“and who taught you to cook?” she demands. “your mother?”
jaime looks at her, chagrinned. “i–”
“because it’s easier to critique than to do,” she says crossing her arms. “and since you’re such a critic, you can finish cooking dinner.” and with that, she turns on her heels and flounces out of the kitchen, smiling to herself. she hopes that he has trouble with it, and that that arrogant grin will slide right off his face.
Chapter 205: Grenn x Pyp
“what’s this supposed to be?” grenn asks staring.
“stir fry,” pyp says.
“it…pyp…do you…even know how to cook vegetables?”
“it doesn’t look that way.”
“i’m doing fine. you’re just a snob.”
“for once in my life i can say–yes. i’m a farmboy snob and you have no idea what you’re doing. move.”
“but i’m trying to cook for you. it doesn’t work if you’re not going to let me.”
“you’ve relinquished the right when you did that to the peppers. now gimme.”
Chapter 206: Asha x Jon
“I’m busy, Satin,” Jon says when Satin comes into his office. He has the Hardhome case still to finish paperwork for, not to mention following up with special ops about the extraction that he has ordered. Bring her home, Mance, he thinks, almost dreading to imagine what state his little sister would be in when Rayder followed through.
“You’ll want to see this one.” There is something in Satin’s tone that gives Jon pause and he looks up a moment later–
“Well you are the last person I’d have expected to walk through this door,” Jon says casually. It’s not untrue. While he definitely has had people from Greyjoy’s gang brought into the office before, he can’t say that he’s ever had one come in voluntarily–and certainly not Asha, who chief often refers to as “a piece of work,” but only when he’s being polite. They’ve never been able to pin her down for anything–not theft, or racketeering, or drug hustling. She’s as clean as a whistle, and is standing in Jon’s office as though he’d invited her over for tea.
“I like to keep people on their toes,” says Asha. She sits in front of Jon’s desk, uninvited and crosses her legs. She is wearing the sort of skin tight pants that Arya had always been fond of until she had disappeared.
“I heard you were ousted by your uncle,” Jon says pointedly. After Balon Greyjoy’s death a year back, they’d been hoping that leadership would shift to his brother Victarion. Asha had tried for it, or so he’d heard through the grape vine, but it had gone to Balon’s brother Euron instead.
“Outsted’s a strong word,” Asha shrugs, “I still have men loyal to me. Not all of my father’s men are rats.”
“That,” Jon points out, “would have been an ideal time to lie, Greyjoy.”
“I’m here on business,” Asha says. "It would be poor form to lie with a potential client.“ There is something about the way she says that that makes Jon feel suddenly very warm. Get your head out of the gutter, he tells himself. This is Asha Greyjoy you’re talking to. Why was she here?
“Potential client?” Jon asks, and it’s all he can do not to snort. "I had no idea you were interested in running with the law for a change. What do you get out of going straight?“
Asha heaves a sigh, and the laughter in her eyes dies. She opens her purse and hands Jon a camera. It’s bright pink, and Jon raises his eyebrows at it. "I’d have thought you’d be more of the sleek and black type of girl.”
“It’s not my camera,” Asha says and something in her voice sets the hairs on Jon’s arms on end. He turns on the camera and–
And almost drops it immediately. "Oh my god.“
"Keep scrolling,” Asha says acidly.
“Jesus fuck.” Skin. Skin and muscle and tendons. Fingers that have been cut off. Blood. Lots and lots of–
“Whose camera is this?” he almost shouts. "And who’s in the pictures?“
"I don’t know who the camera belongs to,” Asha says. "But if you’ll keep scrolling…“
He does and Jon gapes at the last picture because he knows that face.
”Theon.“ He feels his heart sink. "What the fuck–how the–did this?”
Asha’s shaking her head. "Here’s the deal,“ she says. "I want my brother back and I don’t care how. And if that means that I’ll sell my soul to the devil and his damned policemen, I will. Will you help me find him?”
Jon stares at Asha. Then nods.
Chapter 207: Orys x Argella
She spits in it.
“It’ll keep you alive. Or are you such a proud fool you’d sooner be dead?”
She glares at him. He glares right back.
The world has ended, and Argella is a captive in Targaryen hands. Her men gave her up when they surrendered. She hates them for it.
She remembers her father, tall and proud, beating his chest and shouting “Ours is the fury! They make fire fall from the skies, but don’t know our storms!” But he’d died, for all his fury, died at the hands of the man who now gave her water like some dog on a leash.
She drinks it. It is oddly sweet in her mouth, strange somehow in a way she can’t quite place and with every sip she grew more sour. Father wasn’t the only one with fury.
Orys Baratheon is standing by the window, looking out at the lands that had once been hers. Does he rule them now? Were her hands not so tightly bound, she would strangle him with her chains.Then you’ll know my fury, she thought bitterly.
“The world is dying,” he said. She didn’t think to her, but that hardly mattered. She didn’t respond. She looked at her wrists, bound in thick plastic straps. “How long has the rain been acid?”
Argella doesn’t respond. Spite is unbecoming, Argella, she hears her mother say from long ago.So is fury, mother, but only for me and never for father.
Orys Baratheon makes a frustrated noise in the back of his throat, then shrugs. “If you don’t want to help, that’s fine. But I’d have thought you’d at least want to ensure your people’s safety. If the rain hasn’t been acid for very long, then I may be able to help.”
She narrows her eyes at him. “Forgive me for not trusting things that are obviously a trick,” she says and is glad at how harsh her voice sounds. You don’t know my storm.
“It is not a trick,” he says simply. “Though I understand why you’d think that. I didn’t ask them to surrender you.”
She raises her eyebrows. “No, you just accepted it.”
“As would you have, I imagine, if my men had handed me over to you. We don’t have to be enemies.”
“It’s too late for that.”
“Is it?” he asks her, and he crosses and sits down in front of her. His damned eyes are so blue, and remind her of her father’s. He killed my father in cold blood. Don’t you dare forget that.
“You killed my father,” she says.
“And you’d kill my brother if given the chance. I do not speak of others. I speak of the two of us, and the storms.”
“Fire and acid falling from the sky and blood watering the ground and me, subdued. Isn’t that what you Valyrians wanted?”
Baratheon shakes his head. “Aegon, maybe. And Visenya. I want peace, though.”
“We were peaceful.”
“Perhaps,” he says. “But how long were the rains acid.”
“You won’t be able to do anything about the acid rain. The world is ending, like you said.”
“I could save them,” he says. “If you helped me. Your people still trust you, even if—”
She laughs. “Do I look like a fool to fall for that?”
“You are assuming I think you a fool. Which, I suppose, makes you a fool, for you don’t know who to trust.”
“Why should I trust you?”
He sighs, and gets to his feet. “Because I’m offering you what you want and if you weren’t blinded by anger, you’d see that. I’ll be here, waiting for you to come around. You can seethe and people can die, or you can help me. As you please.”
Argella watches him go back to the window, and she looks back at the water that he’d given her and she realizes why it hadn’t tasted strange. It tastes sweet. There’s not a drop of acid in it.
Chapter 208: Shireen x Devan
written for gameofshipschallenges countdown to wintertown
There’s a knock on her door and Shireen looks up from her book, then glances at the clock. It is 8:30pm on a Monday night, and she’s in solid “introvert” mode. She’s called her parents to tell them how her day had been, she’s had dinner, she’s taken Pathces out for a walk, and there should be nothing now between bed except the rest of her book and, if she was feeling indulgent, a bath.
But there’s a knock on the door, and Shireen dogears her page and goes to the peephole before rolling her eyes, unlocking the door and letting it swing open.
“Really?” she asks.
“You didn’t have one,” says Devan. He’s holding a huge Christmas tree. How he’d gotten it up two flights of stairs on his own was more than Shireen really wanted to think about. “Are you going to get out of the way and let me—”
“I don’t need a Christmas tree,” Shireen says, hands on her hips as she moves aside. “I’m going home for Christmas. This is a waste of a tree. Christmas trees are a waste of trees, they’re—”
“Festive during the darkest time of the year,” Devan says as he shimmies the tree past her and into the apartment. “Fill your house with the scent of the season.”
“I don’t need the scent of the season,” Shireen grumbles.
Devan grins at her. “Bah humbug to you too,” he says.
“Don’t you Scrooge me. I’m not Scrooge,” she snaps at him, and he grins and kisses her on the cheek as he continues his weird shimmy down the hall with the tree, pine needles falling off it and pattering on the hardwood floor.
“There we go,” he says, setting it down by the window and brushing his hands.
“I don’t have anything to decorate it with,” Shireen says dryly. “And I’m not going out and buying lights or ornaments or whatever just because you’ve decided I need a Christmas tree in the six days between now and when I go home for Christmas.”
“Nonsense,” Devan says, “You have too got stuff to put on it.” He goes into her room.
“Devan!” She follows him, sliding slightly on the floor in her thick woolen socks. “Devan—what are you? That’s my—” she cuts herself off. She knows exactly what he’ll say—that she never wears it, and it’s sparkly and festive. He hands her one of her jewelry boxes as he passes her.
“Come on then,” he says, and he begins hanging her earrings from the tree.
“They’re going to fall off and the dog is going to eat them.”
“He is not. He doesn’t eat metal stuff or else he’d have gone for my buckle when he was eating my belt,” Devan says as though it’s the most obvious thing in the world. He pauses and scratches Patches behind the ears. “Who’s a good Patchface? Who’s a good dog?” Patchface barks.
“Devan,” Shireen whines and he looks at her, and for the first time since he’s shown up he looks serious.
“Look,” he says, “I know you’re all grinchy and whatnot, but Christmas is a big deal in my family, and I don’t like the idea of you here all by yourself with no Christmas even though it’s full-on Christmas season while I’m about to skip town…even if you’re also about to skip town, all right? Consider this an unofficial Christmas gift.”
Shireen looks between Devan and the tree. It’s taller than he is. “How much did this cost you?”
“Small potatoes compared to you having it,” he says unhelpfully.
“Devan,” Shireen says again, then sighs. When she was a girl, she used to chew on pine needles because she liked the taste of them and she reaches over and plucks one from the tree. It’s brittle—as it should be—though less flavorful than she wants, but even as she chews she feels a brief lightness, and almost smiles.
“Let’s put water in the base,” she says. “Poor thing needs to hydrate.”
Devan kisses her, his tongue darting between her lips. “I like the taste of you all piney.”
“This was really a gift for yourself, wasn’t it?” she says dryly.
Chapter 209: Robert x Ned
“Ned, they want our anniversary!” Robert grins over at Ned before writing in the first day of college when they’d been roomed together by the powers that be. He winks, and Ned rolls his eyes.
“I think they just want it on file so that if we become regulars they can send us discounts or something.”
Robert glances back at the lady behind the desk. She’s hunched over her iPhone, waiting for them to bring the clipboards back up.
“True,” he says. “But darling, how could you forget our anniversary.”
Hid gives him a look out of the corner of his eye, and Robert chuckles. Ned writes something in the space. “Is that yours and Cat’s anniversary?”
“She’s my fiancée, Robert.”
“But they’ll know.”
Ned snorts. “I’m pretty sure they are aware we’re not dating.”
“Don’t say it so loud, Ned. It’s a couple’s massage.”
“So? I bet they get non-couples all the time.”
“Ned, play along, will you?”
They’d found a groupon, and at first, Robert had thought about bringing Cersei along, but in the end he’d decided that if he was going to share a couple’s massage with anyone, it’d be Ned. Even if Ned went and put his and Cat’s anniversary instead of the date that he and Robert met. We mean more to each other than that, he thinks for a moment, before putting the thought away. It’s fine that Ned’s engaged. That won’t change anything. They’re still best friends. Best friends.
Robert finishes filling out the form and takes his and Ned’s clipboard up to the desk, and a few minutes later they’re being led into a room with two massage tables and some scented candles.
“Are you ready, sweet pea?” Robert guffaws as he strips off his clothes. Ned’s got his back to him and is shrugging out of his shirt as well and is clearly ignoring him. He’s not as ripped as he’d been when they’d been younger, and is clearly skimping on the gym. Guess that’s what happens when you settle down. Tywin Lannister keeps dropping hints about when he’s going to propose to Cersei. If it means losing all this though? He looks down at himself. Muscled like a maiden’s fantasy, he thinks happily as he shucks off his pants.
They lie down on their tables underneath crisp white sheets and a moment later the masseuses come in and dim the lights. Robert guffaws.
“Shut up, Robert.”
But before he can respond, the sturdy woman has prodded him and told him to flip over and he does so, resting his head in the headrest.
It’s nice, getting a massage. Beneath the sounds of the relaxing piano music, Robert could hear the sounds of the masseuse working on Ned. He hopes that Ned’s relaxing. He’s seemed so stressed lately. Robert’s hardly had time to see him, between work, and Cersei, and Ned’s preparing for his wedding…it’s nice to spend time with him. Nice that they’re treating themselves to this. It’s the sort of things best friends do.
He smiles to himself as he remembers the way he and Ned laughed together when they were younger, and it’s not until he feels the masseuse putting more oil on his back that he realizes that while a woman’s running her hands all over his body, he’s thinking of Ned.
Chapter 210: Robb
He knows it’s bad when mum comes in.
“Robb,” she says, and it’s the tone she hasn’t used with him since he was at least fifteen, theyou should know better than this tone, the keep the dogs off the furniture tone, the really?tone.
Robb opens his mouth to say something, but can’t really think of anything, so he ends up swallowing and looks down at his hands again. “Your father really doesn’t need this right now, not with the House acting up as it is.”
“I know.” Robb wishes he didn’t sound quite like a whiney teenager. But that can’t be helped.
“Ser Rodrik and Jory are doing their best to keep the press at bay, but Robb…what on earth were you thinking?”
He hadn’t been. Or rather, he had been, but not with his head. Or rather, he’d been a little bit tipsy and listening to Theon. Send her a picture of your dick. She’ll like that. Unless you’re tiny.
“Who even is this girl?” Mum asks and he hears a shuffle of papers and looks up. She’s holding a file now, and his stomach lurches.
“Let me see that,” he says, lurching forward and grabbing it. Mum raises her eyebrows at him.
“Robb, I’m not looking at the pictures. This is the report from Jory. Who had to.”
Robb’s face turns bright red and he lets the papers fall back into his mother’s hand. Well, now he’ll never be able to look at Jory again because Jory will have seen pictures of his…of him…
“Who is this Jeyne Westerling?” Mum asks again. “Westerling’s an old house, but we’ve never had anything to do with them before—how do you know her?”
“I…” It’d been a party. Him and some mates had gone clubbing and there’d been Jeyne, sweet and demure Jeyne with curly brown hair and a heart-shaped face and a dress that was more modest than anyone at that club should be wearing. She’d been sweet, and kind, and when he’d kissed her, she’d kissed him back. But he couldn’t say that to mum. “I met her through some friends,” Robb says.
“Some…” Who’d been with him that night? He can’t remember. He can only remember Jeyne and the way she’d giggled between his kisses and the way her eyes had been so disbelieving that this was actually happening, that they were…
“Anyone who’d have leaked these photos?”
“Look, the phone was hacked, mum,” Robb says. “Jeyne wouldn’t have leaked them, I didn’t leak them. We’re the only ones with access to our phones. The phones were hacked. People’ll do anything these days.”
“And yet there have never been pictures of Theon’s erect penis gracing the tabloids of all of the Kingdoms,” Mum snaps, and Robb wants to die.
“Clearly Robb’s penis is of more interest to the news media than Theon’s,” comes Dad’s voice and if Robb could sink through the couch and floor into the crypts and let himself be buried alongside the Stark kings of yore, he’d do it. There’s little humor in Dad’s face as he comes to sit by Mum, and he looks at Robb over the tops of his glasses. “Which surprises me, given that it would fit right in with the press’ desire to lambast Balon Greyjoy. But I suppose it’s less shocking if it’s Theon—who’s escapades are well known—than if it’s you, who is someone so put together.”
Shame fills Robb. He can’t look at his father. He can’t look at either of them. They’re sitting there, holding hands and they don’t need this. His father is working through a piece of complicated tax reform legislation and needs to be as in the center of things as he possibly can. His son’s dick pics don’t need to steal away his column inches.
Robb sits up a little straighter. He needs to apologize. He needs Dad to know…know what? “Dad,” he begins, “I’m really—”
“Young,” Dad sighs. “I forget that sometimes. You’re young, Robb. And as far as things like this go…” he sighs. “Errors of youth tend to be forgiven more than people remember. I do hope,” he adds, “That you’re treating this girl well.”
“Yes,” Robb says quickly. He’d seen Jeyne last week—had driven down to Oldstones and they’d gone for a walk in the ruins that had turned into a slightly more aerobic activity. He’d called her yesterday too, right as the photos had hit the web. She’d been in tears. “Of course I am.”
“Well, that’s what matters.” Dad looks at Mum, and they share a moment of intense eye communication.
Mum sighs. “I suppose that’s what your generation does, then? Text each other picture of your…”
“Sometimes, yeah,” Robb says and cringes internally. Never me again though. “But it won’t happen again.”
Dad looks at him. “It had better not,” he says. Then he turns back to Mum. “I need to get back to work. Willam Dustin is being…” His voice trails away, and Mum pats his arm.
“You can do this,” she says encouragingly, and Dad bends and gives her a kiss on the forehead. Then he leaves, and Robb looks at his Mum.
“You don’t hate me, do you?” Robb asks.
“I’m disappointed. But it’s also not your fault. So I don’t know what I think, in truth.” She takes a deep breath. “You should bring this girl—Jeyne. You should bring Jeyne around for dinner sometime. If your sending her pictures of your penis, the least you can do is introduce her to your family.”
Chapter 211: Arya x Aegon
“You’ve got it?” he asks her as she drops down into the darkness. His voice doesn’t quite catch in his throat. That is good.
Arya snorts. “I’m fine, Aegon.”
“I was just–”
He coughs and he hears Arya laugh from out of the darkness. “Now is not a time for jokes like that,” he snaps, blushing.
“Well, you’d better come, then.”
He drops down to his knees, and scoots himself so he is hovering over the empty passageway, then lets himself drop.
The ground is much closer than he’d been expecting. “Oh.”
“Told you,” Arya says out of the darkness. He reaches out towards where he hears her voice, and his fingers find her ear. He hears her snort again, and he changes the motion so that he is caressing her hair, pulling her close for a kiss. His lips find hers quickly, sweetly, then she pulls away.
“Now is not the time for that,” she says sternly. “Plenty later.” They both know it’s not true. They’ll both go back to their divisions and be assigned something new and this will be over. What to vows whispered in secret matter when they have to bring the Iron Bank down?
"Right,“ he whispers. She kisses him again and he holds her close for half a heartbeat before he shakes himself.
"They’re counting on us,” she whispers and they move as one, under the cover of darkness, and Aegon’s heart begins to hammer in his chests.
Chapter 212: Orys x Argella
“I knew it was you,” Argella says, smiling to herself.
“Should you have your feet in there?” Orys asks, coming and crouching down next to her. "You’re scaring the fish away, and the whole point is that they’re going to live a much more sedentary lifestyle now that they’re in that tank.“
Argella snorts. "Sedentary lifestyle.” Orys kisses her temple. His lips are as cool as the water.
“How did you know it was me?” he asks. He’s still, crouched like that. Predator. He doesn’t like that word. He thinks it’s much too…animalistic for what they are. That always makes Argella roll her eyes. He is sometimes blind to reality.
“Who else would it be?” she asks. "Jars and jars and jars and jars of blood from the west? Every week? Who else would send it. It’s not exactly subtle of you.“ She liked the flavor of it. Oddly floral, somehow. With a mineraly after-taste. So unlike the blood from the stormlands.
“Didn’t want you to forget me while I was gone,” he shrugs.
She rolls her eyes again. "You’re my husband. I’m not likely to forget you while you’re off doing whatever it is Aegon wants you to do.“
"I should hope not,” he says.
“And yet you sent me blood.”
“Can’t a man send his wife gifts?”
Argella snorts and looks down at her feet. They’re still drifting in the water, and it’s in the water they look the most dead. Pale, wrinkled… She wonders if it really does scare the fish.
“If a man wants to make sure his wife won’t forget him, I can think of a few better ways,” she says dryly and she twists around and gives him a look.
He grins, and his teeth are so sharp, and clean, and the way that the water from the tank reflects in his dark eyes…
“We’ll scare the fish,” he points out as she reaches behind her for the zip of her dress.
“Are the fish all you care about? You seem a little obsessed.”
“We’re responsible for their wellbeing, I just want to make sure that they’re–”
But he doesn’t finish. She doesn’t let him. She closes his mouth with a touch of her lips and a moment later, he’s on top of her, pushing her to the floor and Argella smiles to herself as she finds his belt and tugs it off.
Chapter 213: Sansa x Hoster
“come on–another one,” he hears lysander say as the shot glass is pressed into his hands. the world is already spinning, but it’s clear that lysander doesn’t care, and hoster’s drunk enough that he doesn’t care either.
he throws the drink…not entirely sure what it is that he’s having now, and the world is spinning. the world is spinning, the lights are flashing, the bass is thudding through his feet and he lets out a cheer because this is what it’s supposed to be like. he feels like he could conquer a world or something. he likes that he’s at a uni where bookish kids can drink and dance and have fun and no one makes fun of them for being nerds.
he doesn’t feel like a nerd right now. he’s never felt less like a nerd in his life. he feels great, actually. he feels like he could do anything, like he could be anyone.
“let’s dance,” he slurs at lysander, who laughs, and says, “kid, you’re drunk.”
“no,” he hiccups, “you’re drunk.”
“woah there,” he hears someone say as he almost trips. almost. he catches himself by grabbing the arm of someone who’s at the bar.
she turns around and hoster feels his mouth open. “sansa?”
“hoster!” she slurs at him. she’s drunk too. drunk too. no nothing if you’re drunk. that’s what they said in orientation. no means no and you can’t consent if you’re drunk.
“want to dance?” he asks her. she’s so pretty. out of his league and beautiful, but she doesn’t look down her nose at him the way her friend does.
“i’m too drunk to dance,” she shouts over the music.
“me too,” hoster says, and sansa grins at him.
“perfect,” she says, “then you won’t judge me.”
he’s too drunk and there are brown spots on the memory. he’s not sure how they get from the bar to the thick of the dance floor with no lysander in sight, but he sees sansa, and she’s resting her head against his shoulder as they dance, her body pressed against his and if he weren’t drunk, he’d…but no. no they’re drunk and this is fun and he can leave his dreams and wantings for some other time when he can remember how he got from the bar to the dance floor.
Chapter 214: Sansa
It’s a hole in the wall, and Myranda says that she has to go or else she won’t understand what it’s really like at the Bloody Gate. “We are not Gulltown,” Myranda said, pressing a beer into Alayne’s hand. Sansa would have preferred wine, but Alayne likes IPA and Myranda likes it when people drink as much as she does. So down the beer goes, and another appears while the man on the stage plucks at his guitar. He is old, and bearded, and his fingers move too fast for Alayne to see.
“You like it?” Myranda asks her, nodding her head towards the singer.
“Sure,” Alayne says.
“Never heard anything like it, have you? All your pop princesses and you’ve never once heard a good noodler have you?” Myranda says.
“No,” Alayne says, but the moment it’s out of her lips it’s a lie and why is it a lie? She freezes for a moment as the man on the stage plays the next song.
She’s back in her father’s car, and they’re driving to pick up Robb from soccer practice, and dad’s got an old cassette tape playing. He’d been upset when the car’s tape deck had eaten it and no matter how he and mother had tried to pull the plastic loose without ripping it, it had been no good.
“He’s been playing this bar for thirty years,” Myranda says grinning. You can’t hear him anywhere else in the world. He used to sell recordings, but ever since things went digital he stopped because he couldn’t figure out how to record his stuff digitally, and everyone stopped buying tapes. He’s legit Bloody Gate, Alayne.” She winks and drinks again, and Alayne blinks.
She’s heard this song before. This exact song. She’s heard that feverish plucking of guitar strings, those strange harmonies that are more dissonances than anything else. She’s heard that raspy crooning before, and she looks down at the table as the sound of it rolls into her ears. It’s carved with names. Arty and Mariah in a giant heart, and LVS and AA and any number of initials. She sees a carved penis, and someone who cut a fish into the wood and there, at the edge by the wall Ned Stark.
Alayne takes a sip of her beer, and it’s bitter in her mouth. She doesn’t like beer. It’s too bitter.
Chapter 215: Arya x Aegon
They’re not ones for societal expectations. Valentine’s day? They go to bed early after some beer and pasta and maybe watching The Lord of the Rings again. Birthdays? They throw parties…but it’s more for the friends than for the other. Anniversaries?
I’m ordering pizza.
Don’t you fucking dare put pineapple on it.
Aegon knows before he even finishes the text message that one–Arya has already ordered the pizza and two–she definitely got pineapple on it.
Arya likes pineapple on pizza. And Aegon is a big believer in “accept the things you cannot change” in your partner, but he cannot abide by pineapple on pizza. She’s from New Jersey, he grumbles internally. She should not even think about that.
He doesn’t know where she got the idea for pineapple pizza. He doesn’t know what devil put it in her head. But unless Aegon orders the pizza, there are too-sweet morsels of yellow fruit on his pizza. Aegon wants pepperoni. Aegon wants sausage. And Arya taunts him with pineapple.
He checks his phone from the front seat of the car while he is stuck in traffic. No response. God damn it, Arya.
He checks his phone as he’s walking up the driveway. He feels like he’s going into the trenches.
“You know, when the Italians made pizza,” he announces as he opens the front door, “there were no pineapples in Italy.”
“Purist,” Arya snorts. “And wimpy argument, I’ll have you know. Don’t you know that fusion food is where it’s at. Not that I’d call it fusion. A lot of people eat pineapple pizza.”
He kisses her and looks at the pizza box.
“You had them put the pineapple in a fucking smiley face?”
“Just for you, my love.”
“It’s mocking me.”
“Why do I live with you? I’m leaving. Goodbye.”
Arya plucks a piece of pineapple off the pizza and pops it into her mouth. She chews for a moment, then stands on her tip toes and kisses him. “You couldn’t if you wanted to.”
“Your brothers would hunt me down for despoiling you and breaking your heart?”
“Nah. Fuck them. I’d do that myself.”
Her arm snakes around his waist. “You made it smile at me.”
“Look closer.” He does. He frowns. There are at least…three slices that have no pineapple on them whatsoever.
He glances at her.
“They don’t have pineapple on them.”
“I know. Because I’m a thoughtful girlfriend.”
“There are five that do.”
“Oh please. I always eat more slices than you and you know it.”
“Yeah but it’s not fair.”
“You want some pineapple on your pizza, darling?”
Aegon shakes his head and looks at Arya wonderingly. “This is some compromise you’ve orchestrated.”
“Special for the anniversary,” she teases. “Next time, it’ll be all over the pizza.”
“No. Next time there’ll be pepperoni.”
“You keep thinking that.”
Chapter 216: Arthur x Lyanna
she blames rhaegar. how can she not? if he didn’t go off and write his fucking music on his own in abandoned state parks all the time, it wouldn’t have come to this. it’s not her fault his bodyguard is hot. it’s not her fault that she doesn’t want to be here anymore.
arthur’s got beautiful eyes–better even than rhaegar’s. rhaegar’s eyes are almost…fake they’re so perfect. but arthur’s dance between blue and purple and that’s so much better.
it starts with a touch. him giving her a hand when she gets out of the car because he’s dumb and chivalrous and she can do it herself she’s not a baby or an object, except that she likes the way his hand feels in hers. it starts with her looking at his eyes for too long, his hand dropping to the small of her back when they’re navigating through a crowd–his fingers only barely touching her t-shirt.
it starts with a touch, with lyanna leaning into him when she’s drunk but not too drunk but drunk enough to pretend she’s too drunk just to feel what his muscles feel like. it starts with her leaning her head against his shoulder. it starts with him being there when she’s lonely.
Chapter 217: Arya & Jon
“wait a minute….are you jealous?”
arya snorts. “you bloody wish.”
“you’re jealous, aren’t you. admit it. you want to go to six flags with me, and you’re said i’m bringing my girlfriend.” jon’s laughing at her, and her eyes narrow.
“i would love to go to six flags,” arya says, hands on her hips. “but i’ve been with you plenty, thank you. i’m jealous because i want to go with dany, not you. but it’s poor form to steal your girlfriend, so there we are.”
jon’s jaw drops, and arya bites back a grin. “with dany?”
“you know how to pick ‘em, jon,” arya says. “she’s really quite delightful. warm, and kind, and fun, and funny. is she my new big sister?” arya puts on an eager tone then bursts out laughing as jon’s face looks horrified.
“we’ve only just started dating, arya,” he yelps.
“i know. you get to spend all day with her and i’m jealous,” arya reaches up and pinches his cheek, then darts away, chuckling to herself.
Chapter 218: Arthur x Lyanna
arthur’s the good guy in every story. he’s noble, he’s handsome, he cares about the how as much as the why.
so everything about this goes against everything he is. rhaegar cheating on elia is bad enough (rhaegar knows that arthur thinks this. arthur’s one of the few people who knows rhaegar that well, and he’ll be damned if he’s not going to let rhaegar knowexactly what he thinks about that one). but his own righteousness just…
she’s pretty, lyanna. her long face and dark hair, and eyes that glint like silver when she’s excited about something. she’s got the sort of smile that transforms her face, and she’s noble, and cares about the how as much as the why.
arthur hates himself for it. it’s bad enough that rhaegar’s screwing her–it’s worse that he notices the swing in her hips. she’s off limits. she’s super off limits. on so many levels off limits.
but he can’t say that. he can’t even let himself think it. because if he lets himself think it, it becomes even more true than it already is. i’m in love with you and i’m terrified.
Chapter 219: Rickon x Steffon
“ready?” steffy asks.
rickon swallows and looks around. “yeah. let’s go.”
they’re not the only ones in the room. they are by no means the only ones in the room. there are plenty of couples there. little old ladies in lacy dresses, some hipsters with hair and tattoos, old men in suits. everyone looks nice.
they hadn’t planned this. not really. he’s in ratty jeans and a t-shirt because that’s what he had been planning on wearing to the shop, but when steffy calls and says “hey, want to get married today,” and his breath had caught in his throat and the only thing he could think was “yes,” you didn’t exactly change.
steffy was flighty. he always had been. it’s what you get being the youngest child–or at least that’s what steffy always says. rickon doesn’t think he’s flighty, but maybe the difference between six and seven is big enough…
rickon looks around. he should have at least called bran and told him, even if bran’s across the country. and arya will be livid at not being here either, and sansa will be annoyed that the right to plan his wedding was denied her. and jon… he gulps and looks down at his phone.
“he coming?” steffy asks.
“he’s not seen it yet.” his phone is probably off. he works night shifts.
“it’ll be all right,” steffy says and he takes rickon’s hand. “it’ll be all right. they won’t hate you. dev’s not coming either. or stan.”
“yeah. i know.” still. he feels alone. you’re not supposed to feel alone on the day you get married, right? that’s not supposed to happen?
“there you are!” steffy’s head snaps around and a grin spreads across his face.
“hey mom! found it ok?”
marya seaworth rolls her eyes. “your father used to work in this building, or are you too young to remember.“
and rickon’s heart swells. there he is.
it’s not as good, maybe, as if his own father were there, but rickon can’t remember eddard stark. he can remember mr. seaworth, though. mr. seaworth had always been good to him, and made him feel safe when he’d been alone, and there he is, beaming proudly at the pair of them and–
rickon lets out a delighted laugh. “osha!”
“you didn’t think i wouldn’t be here, did you?” osha says, and she kisses his cheek. “my boy all grown up and getting married.”
“couldn’t resist bringing her along. knew you wouldn’t mind,” davos says. he holds out his arms, and wraps rickon into one of the bear hugs that had gotten him through elementary school.
“this it?” davos says, looking around. “no jon?”
rickon looks down at his phone again. no sign that jon’s read the text. he bites his lip again.
“yes jon,” came a voice from behind and rickon whirls around. jon’s there looking exhausted and carrying a huge paper cup of coffee. “lucky you caught me before i went to bed. some notice would have been nice.”
steffy let’s out a whoop.
“i didn’t think you’d seen the text,” rickon says, blinking back tears. they’re here, they’re all here!
“caught it on my lock screen,” jon shrugs. typical. “also i’m going to be livestreaming it on facebook because otherwise the others will skin me. again. some notice would have been nice.” he ruffles rickon’s hair.
“come on then!” steffy says and grabs rickon’s hand. they approach the desk, and before steffy can even open his mouth, rickon blurts out,
“hello, i’m rickon stark and this is steffon seaworth and we’re here to get married.”
Chapter 220: Asha x Daenerys
her uncle euron can get bent. asha doesn’t care.
it’s raining today. asha doesn’t care.
there’s no good place to stand so they can even see the goddamn parade. asha doesn’t care.
all she cares about is dany’s hand in hers, the rainbow face paint running down their cheeks, the blaring music and the fact that nothing can hold them down.
it’s fucking pride today. and asha’s here and it’s dany’s first pride parade, and she’s here with asha. that’s all asha can care about.
dany says something, but asha can’t here. “what?”
“i said–i can’t stop smiling!”
asha squeezes her hand, and dany bends her head and kisses asha’s neck, licks raindrops off her skin.
they wave flags, they yell, they cheer, they take photographs, they kiss, they hold one another close, and even when the thunder begins, they can’t quite care. it’s when dany begins to shiver that asha takes stock of the situation.
“here,” she says and she shrugs out of her leather jacket and hands it to dany.
“i’ll be fine.” it’s not that cold, but dany’s from the south and she’s not used to being both cold and wet. asha’s a sailor–icy seaspray is practically in her blood. dany drapes the coat over her shoulders like a cape. “better?”
“yes,” she says. then she gives asha a look and asha’s stomach lurches. she knows that look.
that’s the look that made her realize that her uncle euron could get bent in the first place, the way she’d known he was barking up the wrong tree–as if his age and general fuckery weren’t enough to send dany running. it’s that look, violet eyes through pale lashes, that come here and fuck me look and asha raises an eyebrow.
dany jerks her head and together, they make their way to the subway.
they aren’t the only couple coming home from pride on the subway. far from it. asha sees clumps of rainbow-clad people, and she throws her arm over dany’s shoulder as they sit down on blue-grey seats. dany swings her legs over asha’s lap and rests her head on her shoulder.
“you good?” asha asks.
dany nods. she’s still look at asha from under those eyelashes, and asha kisses her.
asha’s jacket drops to the floor within the first four seconds they’re at dany’s. dany’s shirt follows soon thereafter, and she’d not been wearing a bra. asha grabs her and pulls her close, sucking on her neck, her fingers finding the soft pink nipples that she’d caught peeks of through the t-shirt in the rain. she hears dany unzipping her skirt and it falls to the ground as well, feels dany’s weight shift as she kicks off her shoes, and asha kneels down to pull dany’s panties off and press an open mouth kissed to the cleft between her legs.
dany moans as asha tongues her, and her hands are in asha’s hair for the fleetest of seconds before she steps away from asha’s lips. asha looks up at her.
dany’s got a dragon tattoo on her hip, that she’d told asha she’d gotten on a drunken dare from her nephew. she’s got a scar on her forearm from when her brother had held her arm a little too close to a candle, and she’s got a birthmark just at her hairline behind her ear. dany is covered in marks and there’s a rainbow with colors washed together on her face.
asha stands up and dany kisses her as she strips off her own clothing. dany’s lips are on hers as they stumble towards the bed they’d only climbed out of a few hours ago because it was pride and even if it was raining they had to go to dany’s first pride.
asha’s heart is beating. she’s not a fucking romantic–far from it–but she knows when her heart is beating faster than usual, knows that swoop in her gut when she feels dany’s fingers on her clit. she loves the way that dany moans lightly as her lips find her nipples again and she sucks on them, a finger sliding into dany’s cunt, and then another. dany grabs asha’s hair and tugs it, holding her in place as her hips rock into asha’s hands, and asha grins against dany’s skin because dany’s loves it when she’s coming apart at the seams.
asha flicks her thumb over dany’s clit and dany moans again. she bites her breast lightly and her back arches. she sides a third finger into dany and dany whimpers–close now. dany kisses her way up to dany’s neck, nibbles lightly at her earlobe for a moment, before whispering, “happy pride, babe,” as dany comes on her fingers.
Chapter 221: Cersei x Jaime
written for gameofshipschallenges
it’s not until she’s standing there all dressed in white and looking at herself in the mirror that she realizes it’s not enough. not enough to be marrying robert, who, sure, fine has less money than her but he’s rich, and hot, and isn’t rhaegar but is an acceptable alternative as far as society marriages go, not enough to be standing here dressed in some lacy confection that her aunt genna had helped her pick out, not enough to know that her wedding is going to make those stupid magazines that people always read trying to forget how shitty their lives are so they can catch a glimpse of how the other one percent lives. it’s not enough–not if jaime’s not there.
she’s alone in the dressing room. she doesn’t have bridesmaids (bridesmaids are so declasse. all the attention should be on her, and not melara’s fucking cleavage). her aunt has gone to find her father, who, cersei imagines, is with jon arryn talking about how great a match this is and how glad they are this worked out and isn’t it nice. it’s just cersei and her makeup and the mirror telling her that yes, she’s getting married, and no, it’s not enough.
jaime doesn’t knock when he comes in. he’s dressed all nicely in a tux and a green tie that makes his eyes shine. no. not shine. shine’s the wrong word. shine implies happiness. and jaime looks angry.
“ready, mrs. baratheon?” he asks and his voice is so dry she’s sure he’s been spending time with tyrion.
“oh stop it,” cersei says, glaring at him. “you know i’m not taking his name.”
jaime smirks. “but you’re still marrying him. so the point still stands.”
“and what is the point precisely?” cersei demands, hands on her hips.
“that you’ll be his now.”
cersei laughs. “his and not yours, is that it?”
jaime looks at her and yes–there is definitely anger in his eyes. he’s always been her mirror, and even if she’s not looking at herself in her lacy wedding dress, she can see her own anger reflected there.
“i’m not anyone’s,” cersei says. “and i’m certainly not robert’s.”
“you’re trying to say you were never mine?“ he takes a step towards her. he always comes to her, always. that’s how cersei likes it. need him to need her the way that she needs him.
"you’re a part of me in a way robert never will be,” she says. “that doesn’t change.”
“it doesn’t?” jaime’s voice is a challenge, and the anger is fading into something almost like hope but not quite.
“nothing can,” she vows and it’s a truer vow than anything she’ll say in the sanctuary later.
and his hand is in her hair and his lips are against hers and it’s jaime. jaime and her, her and jaime, together and one, two perfect reflections of one another. she pulls away. “you’re going to ruin my hair,” she says, and jaime smirks. then he turns and goes to the door and locks it.
“father’s coming. are you mad?” cersei demands.
“we’ll be fast. and i won’t ruin your hair. i promise.”
Chapter 222: Roose x Walda
“i don’t like him, roose, i don’t trust him. come home.”
“i’m coming as quickly as i can.” he takes a sip of his coffee, and switches is phone to his other ear so he can look at the monitor again. three hours delayed, it reads in plain sans-serif font. white on a deep blue.
“i know he’s your son, but i really don’t like that he comes around so frequently. i really don’t. he’s got this weird look in his eyes all the time. like he’s thinking of…i don’t know. like he’s thinking of horrible things.”
“horrible things?” roose tries to keep the bemusement out of his tone. he shouldn’t make fun of the fact that she’s scared. he’s sure that it’s just her hormones. hormones had made bethany strange too.
“oh stop it. i know that it’s the…the family business, but please take me seriously, will you? he shouldn’t look at me like i’m one of your…” marks. "clients.“ that much, at least, is true.
“i’ll be home soon,” he promises. "and i will talk to him.“
“but will he listen?”
“he’s my son. he’d better listen.”
“he’s a wild dog, roose.”
“don’t you walda me. you saw what he did to the greyjoy kid.”
“our son isn’t the greyjoy kid.”
walda falls silent. "what aren’t you saying?“
"it’s late. i’m going to go to sleep.”
“i’ll be home soon,” he says one last time. "just as soon as the weather decides to play nicely.“
"i’ll be waiting,” but there’s something odd in her voice. roose hangs up the phone, and turns back to his newspaper, and tries to shake the strange…no, it doesn’t make sense. of course she’ll be waiting. of course she’ll be there when he gets back.
Chapter 223: Rickon x Steffon
“come on, seaworth. let’s ride.” he bounces the ball towards steffon, and steffon catches it, dribbles for a moment, then sends the ball sailing towards the net.
“i’m about to run circles around you,” steffon says even as rickon runs after the ball. he twists, and dribbles and steffon’s right behind him, looming over him.
“come on stark, come on–what’re you going to do?”
rickon twists and shoots and steffon knocks the ball out of the air. “that all you got?”
rickon swallows. steffon’s so close, and his heart is already pounding in his chest. he can smell the scent of his sweat, and has to shake his head to clear the the thought from his mind. “you wish.”
“well, bring it, then? here, i’ll even give you a start again,” steffon says and bounces the basketball back to rickon.
“what do i get if i win?”
“eternal glory not good enough for you?”
“i’ve already got that,” rickon says. he shoots and the ball goes into net, and he grins.
steffon grabs the ball out of the air and dribbles twice.
“what do you want?” steffon asks.
rickon shrugs. “that’s why i was asking you.” steffon shoots the ball into the net. “hey asshole, we’re talking here.”
“no, we’re playing. you won’t win anything if you don’t step up your game, stark.”
rickon lunges and makes to grab the ball from steffon, but he doesn’t give it up so easily. they grapple with it for just a moment, and steffon’s laughing and rickon–rickon looks up and for a moment, they’re so close–so close.
Chapter 224: Alys x Sigorn
“are you coming?” it’s raining, and hard, and alys hesitates.
her husband is a tall man, and his shoulders are broad, and he’s wearing a leather jacket and has his helmet tucked under his arm. he’s handing her another one, a newer, shinier one that’s white like her dress. he’s in black, she’s in white, it’s like the sunburst pattern she used to draw around her name as a little girl, the sunburst pattern her father had had tattooed all over his back when he was in nam.
it’s raining, and the helmet will keep the water out of her eyes when she climbs onto the back of sigorn’s bike, but she’s not wearing a bra. looking at her husband, she wonders if he knows.
she doesn’t know him very well, but there’s something about him that she understands–that need to ride hard and fast and to howl into the night as though they’re the only ones left in the world.
alys isn’t afraid of anything–not her great uncle or his sons, not of the husband she doesn’t know as well as most people do when they get married, not of the rain. so she takes the helmet, puts it on, and follows sigorn out into the parking lot.
the wind blows cold over her skin, and as she looks down she sees the dark circles of her nipples through the white of her cotton dress but doesn’t care. she climbs onto the bike behind sigorn, hooks her feet onto the footrest, wraps her arms around his waist and relishes the thrum between her legs as the bike turns on.
Chapter 225: Asha x Daenerys
The water is cold and it makes gooseprickles erupt over Dany’s skin. At least she tells herself it’s the cold.
Silver and gold, that’s what they are beneath the moonlight. Silver and gold, floating in salted water. Dany is silver—moreso in the moonlight, and Asha’s tan is a softer sort of bright in the darkness where it’s just the two of them beneath the moon and stars.
With hear ears beneath the water, Dany can’t hear anything beyond the beating of her heart and the hum of waves. And it’s only out of the corner of her eye that she sees Asha and knows that Asha is watching her too.
They aren’t far from one another. The waves are gentle and won’t push them apart and Dany watches as the water crests over Asha’s breasts, over her legs, and she can hear her own heart lurch forward at the sight of it. The water is less cold now that she’s used to it, but she can still feel those gooseprickles on her arms and legs and stomach.
Asha reaches out a hand and Dany takes it and they pull one another closer and through the muffled silence of the sea, Dany thinks she hears a second, quieter beat extending from her hand to her heart.
Chapter 226: Arya & Catelyn
“Arya, can you help me with the beds?”
Arya scrunches up her face. She hasn’t had her coffee yet and she’s running on less sleep than she’d like. That’s the nature of law school, especially when you’ve spent the week trying to get ahead on work so that you can come home for pesach.
“Yeah.” She stretches and makes a noise like a cat before pulling herself out of bed. She glances at her phone and sees the bubbles that tell her she’s got some texts waiting for her eyes. “Just a sec. I need to see if Gendry’s texted.”
He has, saying that he’s at the airport, and that there don’t seem to be any delays, so he should be arriving in a few hours. Robb and Jeyne will give him a ride with Myriame and Donnel. She hopes that Gendry survives her niece and nephew, because they have more energy in them than even she could manage sometimes, and Gendry doesn’t have a big family to prepare him.
She puts her phone in the pocket of her—well, Gendry’s—sweatpants, snaps her hair into a messy pony tail, and goes into the hallway. Her mother is at the other end, digging through the closet by the bathroom for sheets.
“Everything smooth?” Catelyn asks, and Arya nods.
“Yep. He should be all set.”
“I hope Robb doesn’t give him a hard time,” her mother says, and Arya’s stomach twists. She’d texted Jeyne to make sure that Robb didn’t get too intense about everything. He’d made poor Pod almost cry when he’d first met him, but then again Pod was more nervous than Gendry ever was. But that wasn’t what she was nervous about. Not at all.
“Where’s dad?” she asks. Usually her dad is the first person that mom asks for help. Rickon’s useless—still too much of a teenager to be remotely awake at this hour, and a college kid besides. But usually dad’s here holding the pile of linens that mom keeps adding to until they’re ready to make their way through the house.
“He’s bringing his whiskey over to the Manderlys,” Catelyn says.
“What?” Arya asks. “That’s late.”
“They couldn’t make the timing work. It’s been in the car for the past week,” Catelyn sighs. “Dad says hashem won’t mind so long as it’s not in the house.” She rolls her eyes. Arya snorts. It’s a very dad thing to say—at least about the whiskey. God forbid that there be any chametz left in the house, or a loaf of bread in the garage, but his whiskey collection can be in the trunk of the car, so long as he sells it to Wyman Manderly for a dollar like he does every year.
“What was wrong with the timing?” Arya asks. The whole point was that Wyman and dad worked in the same office. Easy enough to do a swap after work one day.
“Wylis has been in the hospital. Something about his heart. So Wyman’s mostly been working from home, and you know your father—didn’t want to intrude. But when he suggested he store his whiskey elsewhere, Wyman blustered about breaking traditions.” Catelyn began loading Arya’s arms with sheets.
“I have Sansa and Podrick in the guest room and Robb’s kids in Sansa’s room,” Catelyn told her as she moved on to pillowcases.
“And Jon and Ygritte?” Arya asks calmly. Her mother’s face keeps its expression. “They’ll be down in the basement. Your father and I had it redone. Have you seen it? It’s quite nice. Gives them some privacy.”
Arya bites back a snort. Last year, they’d all been able to hear Jon and Ygritte a little too clearly for them to end up on the second floor this year—especially now that Donnel was old enough to ask his parents why Uncle Jon was making those sounds. It was almost too smooth a solution—keeping Jon out of her mother’s way.
Jon said things were better now than they had been when they’d been kids. Something about therapy and changing his role in the dynamic, but he hadn’t elaborated much on that. Arya knows from Bran that mom had been seeing a therapist too, but that would be more of a brick wall than Jon. At least when it came to Jon. She’d never known how to talk to her mother about Jon, or to Jon about her mother. None of them really do.
Arya follows her mother into the guest room. The bed had been stripped after whoever had last stayed there, and Catelyn hasn’t remade it yet. Arya notices there is an egg-crate pad on there now.
“That’s new,” she points out.
“Yes.” Catelyn sounds pleased with herself. “Petyr suggested it when I last saw him. Said it’s the perfect solution for someone who likes a firm mattress but doesn’t want to feel like they’re sleeping on a board. I thought it would be good for Sansa, especially,” her smile widens, “given the news.”
“Right,” Arya says quickly.
Sansa is pregnant with her first child, and she and Pod are over the moon about it. Doubly so for her mom, who wants nothing less than about eighty grandchildren, and Arya does her best to ignore the pointed look her mother is giving her as she placed the sheets on top of the dresser to find the queen-sized bottom sheets.
She should have known better to expect that the question would go unasked, though.
“So, things are serious with Gendry?”
“I guess,” Arya says, and she hands two corners of the bottom sheet to her mother, who pulls them to the far side of the mattress.
“You’ve never brought a boyfriend home for pesach,” Catelyn observed.
“I’ve never had a boyfriend at pesach,” Arya pointed out. For the most part, her relationships all fell apart mid-spring. She wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was that relationships were for the winter—snuggling under a blanket and watching movies, but the moment the snow began to melt, Arya wanted to be outside, wanted to be moving, and the change didn’t sit well with the partner in question. Law school changed that, she supposed. Law school had changed everything.
“Sure, sure,” her mother said, her voice too light, and Arya rolled her eyes.
“I mean it, mom.”
“I know, Arya,” her mother says, matching her tone. Arya goes and grabs a top-sheet and she and she passes the corners over to her mother. They air the sheet out, and Arya snaps some of the creases out before they put it on the bed. Catelyn tugs at the corners, making sure that it’s smooth before she goes to the armchair in the corner and grabs the blankets that have been thrown there on top of the pillows.
“He hasn’t been to a seder before.” Catelyn doesn’t quite ask it, nor does she quite state it. It’s that special kind of question that is more a demand for confirmation or denial than asking for an answer.
“Not that I know of,” Arya says. “I don’t think he had too much exposure to Jewish life growing up.”
“He’s not a child anymore, though. You said he was an engineer?”
“Yeah,” Arya says. “Product design for Mott’s.”
“I was reading an article about Mott’s the other day,” her mother says as they straighten the blankets. “What was I reading? Something about how they’re working on a rebrand of their sedan line. Does he work on the sedans?”
“I think so,” Arya shrugs. She doesn’t actually know what kinds of cars Gendry works on. He calls them mostly by their work codes. The Bull’s Head, or the Sword, and never the make of the car, and always the fucking driver’s side interface that no one can agree on, or the head of crash testing who keeps making snide comments about how nothing is ever done on time.
“And he’s Robb’s age?” Catelyn presses. Arya steels herself. She supposes better to get it over with now before Gendry’s here.
“He’s a few months younger. We met through Uncle Benjen’s friend Yoren after the election. He’s an only child, and his mom died a few years ago, so he’s basically alone in the world. He’s not Jewish.”
“I knew he wasn’t Jewish,” Catelyn says quickly, “I know—”
“I need you to not make a single comment about that at any point.” Arya says firmly. If she can convince her mom, it’ll be easier with everyone else. Her mom had loved that line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding about how the father’s the head of the family, but the mother’s the neck and the neck turns the head wherever she wants it to go. And while Arya couldn’t quite say that was true of her parents’ marriage, Catelyn Stark is certainly capable of steering a conversation, or steering people clear of it, which is what Arya needs right now. “I need no one to make a comment about it at any point.”
Catelyn’s eyebrows had flown up at the steel in Arya’s voice.
“There’s nothing wrong with his not being Jewish,” her mother responds, sniffing slightly as if the conversation were undignified in some way. Arya grabs a pillow and stuffs it into a pillowcase.
“I know that,” Arya says. “But if Robb brings it up, you know he’ll do it in a way that turns it into a thing, and I’ll know that it’s about Gendry’s not being Jewish, but I promise that Gendry will think it’s about Gendry’s being black, and no one wants that to happen, so please.”
Catelyn sighs and sits down on the newly made bed. She pats the spot next to her and Arya sits down at her side, and Cat wraps her arm around Arya’s shoulder.
“I know you’re nervous,” she says. “We love you and want you to be happy. That’s the most important part.”
“Yeah, but if Robb pulls out the matriarchal Judaism discussion and Jeyne backs him up about how it’s proto-feminist I’m gonna flip a table,” Arya says gruffly, and Catelyn sniffs in a way that could be hiding either disapproval or laughter, depending on how fondly she is deciding to remember Arya’s and Jeyne’s Yom Kippur break-fast debate. “They’ll talk about Gendry converting the way Pod did, and I’m gonna be…”
“What’s the matter honey,” Catelyn says, and she runs her hair over Arya’s hair, smoothing it. For the sharpest moment, Arya thinks of Jon, who always used to mess up her hair, and there’s a bittersweet connection of her mother fondly doing the opposite. Arya bites her lip and looked around the room. It still had Sansa’s ballet paintings that she’d done in high school, framed and hung on the wall. Arya had never really been much of a visual artist, though she had drawn stick figures in her physics notebook. Nothing like Sansa’s paintings. Arya gets to her feet and goes to get the sheets. She jerks her head towards the hallway, and Catelyn gets up, following her.
“It’s that I…I don’t know how serious this is,” Arya says. “We’re getting to start having that conversation. I really like him. And I know he really likes me. But I’m a 1L, and he is older than me, and I…” She begins unfolding the sheets for the bed that Robb and Jeyne will share when they arrive. “I don’t know. Most of my relationships have been such nonstarters, but Gendry’s good for me. And I don’t…” She looks at her mother carefully. Now’s when her mother would historically start clucking and making noises about how she’s just being silly and that’s how all early relationships feel and start talking about when she started dating Arya’s father. Arya wants that suddenly, something comforting from her mother.
But maybe it’s just that they’ve gotten older than when Arya was a girl, or it is the therapy that Bran had mentioned on the phone, but Catelyn says simply, “It’s scary. To want someone and to think this might be it, but not to be sure.”
Arya blinks back…not tears. She’s not close to crying by any means. But there’s a sharpness in her eyes and she blinks it back. “You’ve been dating for six months you said?” Arya nods, and Catelyn hands her the corners of the fitted sheet to put on the bed. “Six months can be a lot when you’re in your twenties. It can be nothing, but it can be a lot. And for what it’s worth, the reason we’re all so excited about him is not because he’s the first boy you’ve brought home for pesach, but because of the way you talk about him.”
“The way I talk about him?” Arya says blankly.
Catelyn nods, and there’s the comforting smile that Arya had wanted moments before. But it’s not knowing, or motherly. It’s something else that Arya can’t quite place. “You have this steadiness to it. It’s hard to describe. I wouldn’t begin to call you steady.” She looks at Arya hesitantly, and Arya laughs.
“Fair,” and Catelyn’s smile widens.
“But when you talk about him, or how your life is going, you seem peaceful. And it’s not that you’re not excited or stressed by school. But you should hear yourself compared to when Robb was in law school. He was in way over his head, and stumbled sideways into Jeyne and it worked, but it didn’t make him steadier. You seem like you’ve got someone who can be your rock.”
Her rock. Arya lets out a breath she hadn’t been aware she was holding, swallows and focuses on the top sheet that she and her mother are now spreading over the bed. Her mom called dad her rock.
“Did I scare you even more?” Cat asks as she spreads the blankets over the top sheet.
“Now you really can’t bring up that Pod converted for Sansa,” Arya says dryly and Cat chuckles and kisses her daughter’s forehead.
“You’ll get through it. And if Robb says something, I’ll make him eat the extra matzah.”
Arya shudders. “God, Gendrys’ going to love matzah isn’t he?”
“Pod still likes it,” Cat observes. “Maybe they’ll eat us clear for the rest of the holiday.”
Downstairs, she hears the door slam and her father calls, “I’m without whiskey. Here’s hoping he doesn’t stiff me this year when I go to buy it back.”
“Send Robb in to sue him?” she hears Bran say and Arya perks up.
“Bran you’re awake?” she calls, and her mother nods at her and she scampers from the room and down the stairs. Bran had been asleep when she’d gotten in last night and she wraps her arms around him and kisses the top of his head.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” Bran grins, and he looks up at her from his chair. He’s unshaven and his beard is redder than his hair, like Robb’s, which makes Arya grin.
“Do they even allow that on tv?” she asks him, patting his scruff. Bran had not shocked but mildly surprised everyone by majoring in media and broadcasting, and had surprised everyone even more by landing a gig on a local news network right after college. He’d gleefully told them it was his smile that had gotten the job, but also that he seemed somehow trustworthy in his reel submissions.
“I’m on vacation, leave me be,” Bran says. “I slept all the way til 6:30 this morning. That hasn’t happened in months.”
“Is what’s-his-name Bolton going to try and steal your job while you’re away?” she asks seriously.
Bran shrugs. “He can try but I don’t think he’ll get very far. I’m contracted for the next six months.”
“It got renewed?” Arya asks, and Bran winks. “Charmer,” she teases. She looks up at dad and he gives her a smile. She glances at her dad, who’s shrugging out of his sweater and gives him a hug too before her mother calls him upstairs to help with the rest of the beds.
Arya’s phone buzzes in her pocket, and sees a text from Gendry. Just landed. They’re waiting in the cell lot so we should be on the road soon. Her stomach lurches but this time, she takes a deep breath and looks down at Bran. He’s watching her.
“Hungry?” she asks.
“Always,” he replies, and she kisses the top of his head again and pushes his chair towards the kitchen for breakfast.
Chapter 227: Jon x Asha
Never listen to Asha. She’s a big fucking tease, ok?—And how does that make her different from you, Theon?—Because I’m your bro and she’s not.—When the fuck have you been my bro?—Bro. That hurts.
“Why should I?” he breathes. He is proud of himself. He doesn’t sound like a boy. He sounds like a man (a thought that makes him feel like a boy), and for a moment he thinks of Ygritte. She’d want him to meet other people, wouldn’t she? She’d want him to move on with his life, and not be the whiny boy she’d always—lovingly, always lovingly—mocked.
Remember that time Theon almost fingered his sister?—Fuck you, Robb. I was drunk and didn’t know it was my sister. It was a costume party.—All I’m saying is I’ve never come close to fingering my sisters and you’ve almost fingered yours.—How come we never talk about how she almost let me finger her? That’s just as gross isn’t it?—You’re the one who always calls her a big fucking tease. No one’s surprised that she’d troll you.
“Because you want to.”
Are you going to take a break from my ass at any point?—What?—You keep staring at it, and let me just say, I’ve also got tits if you want to keep objectifying me.—I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.—Look at you blushing like that. If I minded it, trust me, you’d be short a ball or two right now. Hah! Crossing your legs. You don’t know how to take a joke do you?—I do too. I just…it’s been a while since I’ve had someone come onto me.—I’d think from your staring you were coming on to me.—You remind me of someone is all.—Someone good? Or is it Theon? Are you in love with my brother?—No. No, of my…my former girlfriend.—Your ex? Just say she’s your ex.—She’s not. She died. We didn’t break-up.
“How do you know?” He sees it in her eyes, that same look that Ygritte used to give him. You know nothing, Jon Snow.
“Because I know everything, Jon Snow.”
Chapter 228: Sansa x Edric
they meet in a grief group–ned for his brother-in-law who was as close as a father to him, and sansa for, well, it felt like everyone. it felt like the world had gone and ended all around her and she wasn’t ready to be the eldest that was supposed to be robb.
the group meets twice a week, and they all go in turns talking about whatever it is they can think to talk about, whatever it is they are able to articulate–knowing that if no words come it’s an understood silence and not a disappointing one.
ned, as it turns out his name is–a knife in her heart the first time she hears it– lives in the same part of town that she does, and he offers her a ride home when his cousin gerold comes to pick him up from the center. sansa, quietly, agrees, and sits in the back seat, staring out the window at familiar streets while gerold talks to ned, ignoring the words that come out of his mouth.
“are you cured yet?” gerold asks after the third week of the group and ned stops freezes, his hand on the car door, eyes going wide.
“cured of what?” he asks slowly.
“the whatever it is. after beric,” gerold asks, and sansa stares numbly at him before turning her attention to ned.
ned’s gaze at his cousin is scathing, but sansa recognizes the way his lips are crumpling, the way that they do in their group when he’s struggling for words. she finds that the words come out of her own mouth quite easily.
“oh yes, very nearly cured of all feeling and emotion. pity they have to weigh us down so. much better to live without them forever.” she gets into the car, and, to her surprise, this time ned joins her in the second seat, looking at her. sansa reaches out and squeezes his hand, and he squeezes back.
Chapter 229: Rickon x Steffon
stef tries to be snarky about it. it’s the only way to hide the way he’s super aware of how fast he’s breathing, the way his dick’s already throbbing a little bit.
rickon’s lying on his bed, face down, his ass is just there. one of his legs is casually kicked up while he watches something on netflix on stef’s laptop. how rickon had been able to figure out stef’s password he doesn’t want to know. he pulls out his phone and checks his facebook. rickon doesn’t seem to have posted anything there. he’s a demon who posts all sorts of shit whenever he gets hold of anyone’s facebook–which had resulted in a screaming match between him and jon when he’d most recently gotten hold of jon’s phone.
“i didn’t do anything to your facebook,” rickon says. he’s looking at stef over his arm. “though you might be following some new accounts on instagram.”
sure enough when he opened the app there were about fifty new accounts he was following, all of which seemed to be featuring extremely ripped underwear models. “as to the other question,” rickon continues, and his eyes flick to stef’s to the phone, and then, very obviously, to his crotch. “you’ve been taking your sweet time and honestly, i’m tired of waiting. is this for real or isn’t it?”
stef gulps and his heart twists. rickon had been the first person he’d told he was gay, rickon had been the first guy he’d kissed–drunkenly–and had been the only person he’d kissed–drunkenly–more than once. they were flirty, yes, but he’d never thought that rickon could like him. he is awkward, and not anywhere near as fit as the underwear models that rickon had made him follow on instagram. rickon, meanwhile, is ripped as all shit, and the muscles of his back, the way there were actually fucking dimples on his ass…
“sorry, i misunderstood,” rickon shrugs and he closes stef’s laptop. “i’ll get out of your hair.”
“no,” stef says and his voice breaks as he does it. as stressful as the sight of rickon, naked on his bed had been, the idea that he’d leave was unbearable.
rickon goes still. “no?”
rickon turns to him, and stef drops his bag and kicks the door shut behind him. he crosses the room, his body acting far more decisively than he feels, and sits down on the bed next to him. not sure what is fair to touch, given rickon’s nakedness, he takes his hand and–though every part of him is freaking out at the concept of it–kisses rickon, sober, for the first time.
everything seems to calm immediately, especially when rickon’s lips open against him and he feels rickon’s tongue press into his mouth. he reaches his other hand up and runs his hand over rickon’s face, and suddenly he feels like laughing, he feels like singing.
“is this real?” rickon asks him. “like for real. no hiding it, or pretending you’re just drunk?”
“i’m not drunk,” stef says. “and no. no pretending.”
rickon’s blue eyes are bright and he kisses stef again, and stef is trembling, with joy, with fear, with excitement. but he pushes that middle one away–at least for now. rickon had been naked on his bed. that was a pretty clear sign that rickon wanted him, right? he didn’t have anything to be afraid of right now, except–
“i have no idea what i’m doing,” he tells rickon. “i’ve never…”
rickon pauses. if stef’s hardly even been able to kiss anyone sober until now, rickon’s the sort who’ll show up naked on someone else’s bed in the middle of the day. he’s probably hooked up with half their class, and what he could want in stef…but no. no what mattered was that he did want stef. he knew what he was doing, sure, but the other people didn’t matter. just them. stef needed to believe that or else he’d chicken out.
rickon rubs a thumb over his cheek. “what do you want? how far do you want?”
“i–” stef doesn’t know and he looks down and immediately wishes he hadn’t because rickon’s half-hard and christ his dick is right there. he looks back up, startled, and rickon’s smiling, but it’s not a mocking smile. it’s that gentle smile he’d had when stef had managed to choke out those words the first time. “rickon, i think i’m gay. i’m gay.”
“i don’t know.”
“do you want me to touch you? we can just kiss if you like and i can put my pants on.”
it’s overwhelming, and rickon’s being so nice about it that stef almost wants to cry.
“nothing to be afraid of,” rickon whispers. “i promise. i’m nothing to be afraid of.”
he’s not afraid of rickon, though. never has been. he always knew rickon was safe, would keep him safe. he’s afraid of himself.
no i won’t be, he thinks angrily at himself. he was not going to let him ruin this moment for himself. so he looks at rickon, who’s eyebrows twitch at the new determination in his faec, and he says, “can i touch you?”
rickon give shim a crooked smile and scoots back on the bed, nodding. stef crawls after him and hovers over him, kissing his lips and tentatively, he reaches his hand down to rickon’s dick. his skin is soft, and warm, and after a moment of !!!!!!! that he’s actually touching another guy’s penis, he begins to rub it. he knows how to rub a penis. he’s done his own plenty over the years.
rickon makes a little noise in the back of his throat, and stef pauses. “no, keep going,” rickon says. “it feels nice.”
stef could almost cry with joy. it feels nice.
rickon feels nice, his lips, the soft skin of his dick…
suddenly stef realizes he’s wearing far too many clothes. far far far too many clothes. he sits up and tugs off his shirt, throwing it away, and when his hands move to his buckle, rickon’s are there too, helping him, and he’s leaning forward and kissing stef’s stomach.
“do you want me to touch you?” rickon asks him as he shimmies his pants down over his hips. “or blow you, or anything?”
the idea of rickon giving him a blowjob is more than he’d ever imagined possible, even if he’d jerked himself off to the idea before–ashamed to think of his friend that way but unable to stop himself when he was that hot and just needing someone to care about him. “yeah,” he says.
“which?” rickon asks as stef sits down on the bed and kicks off his pants, which get stuck at his shoes. he toes them off then kicks the pants off the rest of the way and just says, “yeah,” as a reply, wanting rickon to understand because he can’t bring himself to say it.
rickon understands. he kisses stef slow–so slow, and kisses his way down his chest, and then settles himself down on the bed–not in a position unlike the one he’d been watching netflix in–and stef gulps because what else can he do when rickon takes him in his mouth?
this is a dream, he wants to believe. except it isn’t. no dream he’s ever had is like this one, the warmth of rickon’s mouth, the way his dick keeps twitching when it hits the back of rickon’s throat, the way rickon’s throat relaxes and somehow he’s able to take stef all the way in without choking.
stef doesn’t even have time to choke out the words “i’m coming,” before he is, and rickon’s just drinking him down, and he feels so warm, so easy, so relaxed.
he takes a few steadying breaths as rickon kisses his way back up stef’s stomach and chest to his neck, and he wraps his arms around rickon, holding him close.
after a moment, he reaches a hand down to rickon’s cock again, still hard, and warm and soft, and rickon.
“i don’t know what i’m doing,” he repeats, and rickon kisses him again.
“i’ll show you,” he whispers.
and he does.
Chapter 230: Sansa x Podric
“take my phone?”
“yeah i got it.” pod has a rain coat. “it probably won’t rain,” he’d told her. he’d been wrong.
it isn’t going to be a long rain. he knows that too. it is a cloudburst, but enough to fucking destroy sansa’s iphone so he tucks it into his coat pocket while she tilts her face up to the sky and lets the drops fall onto her face.
“you sure you don’t want it?” he asks her. whatever arya’s rants are about how chivalry is a tool of the patriarchy to oppress women, and all sorts of condescending to boot, he doesn’t feel quite right letting sansa get totally soaked.
“no, i’m fine. i like the rain.” she opens her mouth to catch raindrops and pod stood there grinning from under his gore tex.
they keep walking, and sansa takes pod’s hand and squeezes it. her hair, which had been in a springy sort of updo, is now falling out of the elastic band she’d tied it in, and is dripping wet down onto her white dress.
“you sure you don’t want this?” pod asks her, blushing.
“i’m fine,” sansa says rolling her eyes at him.
she looks down and stares and pod should look away but he can’t quite. she’s wearing a white dress–strapless and perfect for a sunny summer day. but the white has quickly lost its opacity from the rain and from the wet dripping down from sansa’s hair and he can see her nipples blooming brown through the fabric.
when she looks up, she grins at him and leads him towards a tree.
“we shouldn’t. if there’s lightning,” he begins and sansa turns around.
“i was looking for a place that was less out in the open,” she says and she’s still got that look in her eyes. they’re overbright, almost a little manic and he can tell she’s gearing herself up for something, forcing herself towards bravery. she’d told him once that she does that. i have to tell myself to be brave. then i can be. her blue eyes had been full of tears and she’d been a little bit drunk–she was braver when she was drunk was what she’d gone on to say. “but there’s no one around, so,” she shrugs and her hands are at the straps of her dress and she pops her breasts right out of her dress so they are just there, beautiful and pink with those large brown nipples…
“sansa.” it comes out a bit strangled. there is no one in the park. maybe everyone else had read the weather forecast better than pod had, or maybe it’s just luck. he can’t look away from her–not the determined blue eyes, not her breasts and when she steps towards him and wraps her arms around him and kisses him hard, he knows he’ll do whatever she wants.
he doesn’t think of lightning now as she pulls him to the tree. he doesn’t think of who might see them when she guides his hand down between her legs and she raises one of them to hook behind him, holding him close. he loses himself on the taste of her tongue and the sound of her breath and just how warm her sex is around his fingers when he slides two of them into her and begins stroking her from the inside. if she can be brave, so too can he, and it’s easy to forget your nerves when the sound of the rain falling is overlaid with sansa’s sighs.
Chapter 231: Alys x Sigorn
he doesn’t mean to grab her hand. or rather–not like this. he’d been planning on maybe taking her hand when they left the theater, if she seemed like she’d be open to it. but when he’d agreed to go to this movie, he’d not thought there’d be just this many…eyes.
he can’t do eyes.
disembowelment, chainsaw murders, heavy breathing that you can’t locate, sure. that’s classic horror movie stuff.
he feels squeamish and looks away from the screen, glancing at alys. she’s flinching and behind him, on the screen, something happens and her hand tightens in his.
that’s something, i guess, he thinks. he swallows and says, “tell me when it’s over,” to her quietly and she glances at him. she swallows, and nods.
“i was gonna say the same thing,” she whispers back. her eyes are shining with the reflected light of the screen, and he refuses to look away from them. her eyes are so much better than the eyes on the screen. so much better.
she doesn’t look away from him either, and her hand stays tight in his. they sit like that until the scene changes, and it’s only reluctantly that they turn back to the film.
Chapter 232: Kiera x Daeron
kiera likes horror films. it’s a new development for her–a product of the postpartum depression, she thinks, or maybe grief from valarr. they made her feel something. feeling her heart racing with adrenaline in her chest, feeling fear was better than feeling nothing at all.
daeron’s a sweet guy. of all of valarr’s family, he’s the one that still treats her like family. she should have gone back to tyrosh, to be with her parents or sisters, she’d heard someone–rhae? when they whispered, rhae and daella sounded so alike–at a dinner. but she’d ignored them. her life was here, her job was here. going home would feel like the end far more than staying. at least, that was what she told herself.
kiera likes horror films, and daeron comes with her to the one that’s just come out–a big budget slasher thing. he’s drunk (he’s frequently drunk) and boasting that nothing can frighten him. but she can tell it’s gonna be a rough drunk for him when he lets out a frightened yelp about twenty minutes into the thing. she settles into the seat and rests her head on his shoulder and says, “it’s ok. i’m here,” when he lets out another tipsy shriek a few minutes later.
she’s not frightened–not just yet. but she feels warm in a way she wasn’t expecting.
warm’s better than afraid.
Chapter 233: Dyanna x Maekar
maekar’s the only one who’s sober enough to ask, and dyanna dreads it. he’ll do it, right? she thinks desperately. he’s mariah’s son. mariah is her mother’s cousin. or something like that. it doesn’t matter. what does matter is that she is fucking freezing despite the alcohol in her blood, and she really should have known better than to wear a slutty minion costume. she’d done it because she couldn’t believe they even existed, but then again she wouldn’t put anything beyond whatever marketing team came up with minions to begin with.
“can i borrow your jacket?” she asks him. “it’s a bit cold.”
maekar is the only person in the entire party who doesn’t stare at her costume in horror. she’d laughed at it early on–the horror that all the frat bros had had that they’d had to stare at a minion when staring at her tits or her ass.
“what are you supposed to be?” he asks her, shrugging out of his jacket, a crease between his eyebrows.
“how do you not know what a minion is?” she asks as she takes his jacket and puts it on.
“do you live under a rock that you managed to avoid it?” she’s laughing now. “teach me how to do that. they’re so goddamn annoying.”
“what are they?” maekar asks.
“they’re these…creatures from a kid’s movie.”
“oh,” he replies. she zips the coat up all the way to her neck and feels a little better. it’s still warm from him. “are they supposed to be…” and now his eyes are on her legs, long and with only the slightest trim of yellow skirt before his jacket takes over.
“slutty?” dyanna teases. then she opens her phone. “i wish i could say no, but i’ve seen some things. prepare to be scarred for life.”
Chapter 234: Sansa x Edric
“take me home, darling, all men are cads,” sansa says throwing her arm over podrick’s shoulder.
except it’s not podrick and the young man who she’s just thrown herself on stiffens and when she looks into his eyes she sees eyes that are a startling shade of blue–almost violet in the night of the costume part.
“i’m so sorry,” sansa says at once, dropping her arm and feeling heat rise on her face. “my friend is dressed in the same costume as…”
at least from behind they had been. pod in his shitty, plastic armor pretending to be don quixote and sansa dressed as dulcinea…it was a clever costume idea, she’d thought, and pod had been eager enough–relieved that he had someone going to this party with him at all.
but this man in his shitty plastic armor is very much not pod. very much not pod indeed.
“ivanhoe,” the man says, holding out a hand. “sorry to hear all men are cads. it’s a pity what they’re reduced to these days.” behind him, she hears the sounds of yelling as two party attendees chug their beer down as quickly as they can.
“dulcinea,” sansa replies, and he smiles.
“i take it you were on the hunt for your don quixote?” he asks. “if you’ll accept the help of a…lesser knight, i’d assist you in your quest, though i will confess,” he smiles, “it’s a rare day that it’s dulcinea searching for her don quixote.” his eyes twinkle. “i feel like there’s room for a remix novel in there.”
“i’ll have to write it one day,” sansa says, cocking her head, and giving him a smile. he really has such lovely eyes and the smile is still playing at his lips. “though of course, if you don’t tell me your true name, i shan’t be able to give you any credit for the idea.”
“ned,” he replies and a shiver runs down her spine. “ned dayne, at your service, lady,” he tips his head in a half-bow. “and you?”
“perhaps i’ll make a don quixote out of you, ivanhoe,” she smiles as she brushes past him. “ever in search of me.” and she adds a little swing to her hips as she goes off to find pod.