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Multipairing Drabbles

Chapter Text

 

 

“Just once,” she murmured into his mouth as he held his hands on the wall behind her, his arms taut, caging her in but not letting himself be pulled any closer.

“No,” he said, still kissing her, his stubble rasping across her chin.

“Please?” she begged.

This was not the way she imagined this evening would go. She had thought only of dancing with Joffrey, of snogging him in the gardens of his family estate during the Baratheon summer party, she hadn’t spared a single thought for his uncle Stannis. Why would she? He was old, and married, and notoriously rude.

And yet here she was now, after half an hour’s conversation, rubbing against him like a cat in heat while the sounds of the party drifted down the lawn towards their hiding spot.

“No,” he said, moving his hand to her hip to push her away, but the grip of his fingers was tight and it made her moan into his mouth as he swore and licked across her lips.

His kisses were messy, unpractised, but she liked that. She liked the way he had flirted with her too, his tone dark and dry, although she knew he’d deny that it was flirting at all.

She had thought that she was into Joffrey’s limp charms, to the idea of an honourable prince charming, but there was nothing limp about Stannis, and the fact that he was married only seemed to make this hotter.

“I can’t,” he said, pulling back from her again. His mouth was smeared with her lipstick, his tie was crooked.

“Because you’re married,” she said breathlessly, as his eyes roamed all the skin her sundress left bare.

“Yes,” he said, without much conviction, “and you’re—how old are you?”

“Twenty.”

“Twenty,” he repeated.

“And it would be wrong,” she said, biting her lip.

Fuck,” he whispered, tugging her lip from her teeth with his thumb.

He wasn’t even drunk, she knew, so he couldn’t even blame that. He wanted her, and it was thrilling.

She bit gently at his thumb and he swore again and curved his mouth over hers, tugging her towards him, wrapping an arm tightly around her waist as she clutched at his blazer.

“Just once,” he grunted and then fitted his hands underneath her thighs, lifting her up and walking them inside the deserted summerhouse.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“If you die, I’m going to kill you,” he heard, muttered close to his ear, followed by a kiss to the cheek, and then the familiar clatter of thick knitting needles above an unfamiliar bleeping sound.

He was in hospital, he realised slowly, breathing in the smell of antiseptic and the sugary sweetness of Arya’s Irn Bru.

“Fuck,” she swore and he smiled drowsily.

“I don’t know what you’re smiling about,” she remarked as he tried to open his eyes. “Your scarf is ruined, I’ve dropped a stitch and fucked it up.”

“You’re making me a scarf,” he slurred, blinking at the white of the room.

She scoffed and he felt a gentle hand brush hair out of his eyes. “Well I have enough myself, don’t I,” she retorted.

“Generous,” he breathed, wishing he had the energy to laugh at her familiar sullenness.

“I thought so,” she said and he turned to see her scowl at the wool in her hands.

Her archery teacher had mentioned something offhand about finger dexterity and knitting and, determined like she was about anything to do with her sports, she had gone off and found two of the largest knitting needles Gendry had ever seen - more dagger than needle really.

The needle size, she had explained one evening over Indian takeaway in front of the TV, as she sat sprawled against him in the way that always made his heart melt – that she could be so open, so raw in her affections, even after all the things she had been through – meant that whatever she knitted would be bulky and large.

So no nice Argyle jumper for me then, he had teased.

What makes you think I’m going to knit you anything? she had said and he had tickled her until she lay gasping with laughter on the floor, complaining that she was going to vomit up her chicken jalfrezi.

Thanks, he had said, love a vomit threat, you know just how to turn me on.

And for that rudeness, she had said, pushing him over and straddling him with the strong thighs that played a central role in many of his fantasies, I’m never knitting you anything.

Really? he had asked, lifting up on his elbows as she looked down from her perch - the smear of curry on her cheek somewhat ruining the haughty effect she was going for.

Yup, she had said, cross my heart and hope to die, and then kissed him and he had forgotten all about knitting, and curry, and the episode of Ninja Warrior blaring away on TV.

“You crossed your heart,” he said as he lay in the hospital bed.

“What now?” she said, confused, and put her knitting down. She looked tired, her hair mussed from sleeping by his bedside. She looked beautiful.

“The scarf,” he said, lacking the energy to make full sentences.

She shrugged, looking casual. “I changed my mind.”

“That’s my girl,” he said, beaming.

“You’re high as a kite,” she said fondly.

“And you’re making me a scarf.”

“I am, silly boy,” she said and leaned over to kiss his forehead. “And you’re not to die,” she murmured angrily, without pulling away so he could see her face, “do you hear me, I won’t stand for it, I’ll kill you if you do.”

“Cross my heart,” he repeated as she sat back.

“If you die you won’t get this scarf either,” she said, holding up the chunky bundle of navy wool.

“A travesty,” he said and meant it.

She huffed a smile and he drifted back to sleep, dreaming of his girlfriend fending off hordes of marauding foes with her knitting needles.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Tell me a secret, my lady,” he says, the leaves of the heart tree shifting in the breeze above them as they sit on its thick roots. “I shall go first, a secret for a secret is a fair trade, is it not?” He pauses and a bell rings out from the city below. “My own is this, that I pray each day for King Joffrey to die.”

She trembles at his treasonous words, her toes curling in her too-tight boots. In the brief time they have spent in one another’s company here at the Red Keep she has known him a bold man but this—

“My secret is the same, my prince,” she whispers and then puts a hand over her mouth as if she could take back the words. There was something terrible about admitting it, all her careful courtesies swept aside and the horrors of these last few moons laid bare.

“Sansa,” he says, touching her arm gently and when she drops her hand he takes it and squeezes it. “Shall I tell you another secret?” he says, his eyes dark in the moonlight.

“Yes,” she says, wishing that the night would last forever, that she could stay in his warm company and not have to return to her barren room and wait for further debasements, for whatever awful things the next day would bring.

“My second secret is this. That it shall be done. That the boy king shall die a moon hence.”

A high sound escapes her mouth before she clamps her lips shut.

He turns in his seat and takes both her hands. Unbidden tears have started to drip from her eyes.

“I swear it, Sansa, this is not a mummery, a jape, or a boast. Dorne has a plan, and allies, and you shall soon be freed from this prison.”

“Prince Oberyn, I cannot—I do not—why?”

“Because he is a tyrant, because the Lannisters stole the throne from its rightful heirs, because they killed my sister and her children.” He is fury incarnate and yet his grip on her hands is soft, she is not afraid of him.

Her mother had warned her of those from Dorne, of their lascivious natures, their love of carousing, their lack of honour, but he has been nothing but honourable and his paramour, Ellaria, has been so kind to her, slipping her salves for her bruises, bringing her sweet pastries when Joffrey stops her food.

“But how?” she asks, leaning forwards, a small flame flickering to life underneath her grief and fear.

“You ask for a third secret then,” he says, and a sly smile lifts the corner of his lips, “and it is this, dragons.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“No one needs to know,” he murmured, lips brushing against the lobe of her ear and making her shiver.

“But it’s not proper,” she said plaintively, staring at the pond. The sun was beating down on them and the water did look inviting, but what he was suggesting, now, in broad daylight while everyone else was busy with tea on the lawn—

He breathed a laugh and moved back, his eyes glinting as he looked at her. “Well, yes,” he said with a smile, “but that’s what makes it so thrilling, don’t you think?” 

She bit her lip. Her mother had told her to take Mr Baelish on a tour of the grounds while she was busy supervising the servants setting up the tea. But Sansa didn’t think she meant that she should strip off her clothes and go swimming with him.

He was a photographer, Mr Baelish, and newly returned from a tour of Europe which Sansa was ever so jealous of, and he had been kind enough to describe his time there in detail, hadn’t dismissed one of her silly questions. She would die to take a trip to Italy, but her mother said that at nineteen she was really too young to go without her family, and they knew no one she could stay with there – aside from the Tyrells, and her mother thought them dreadful people, though she would never actually say that.

“It is very hot in the sun,” she remarked, licking her dry lips.

“It is,” he agreed.

He had his arm around her still – he had been showing her how to use his camera to take a picture of a heron but the bird had flown off before he could guide her finger to the shutter release.

“And I suppose it’s very sheltered here, with the trees, it’s not as if we could be seen.”

“Exactly,” he said, standing back and unbuttoning his summer jacket.

“But—” she said, watching as he flung his jacket on the grass and then nimbly unbuttoned his waistcoat too.

He took his camera from her lax hands and set it on top of the pile of clothing. “I shall close my eyes until you’re in the water, never you fear,” he said.

She had not even thought of that, that he might watch her undressing.

He was pulling his shirttails out of his trousers now, and her eyes caught on the patch of skin revealed, the trail of hair—

She blushed and turned away, reaching a hand to take the pin out of her hat and place it down on the grass.

Behind her, she heard further sounds of undressing and then footsteps and a splash, and she turned to see his head emerge from the lake, dark hair swept back.

“It’s glorious,” he called out to her.

She looked behind her to check that there was no one else watching through the trees. 

“I’ll turn away,” he said, treading water.

Her fingers fumbled at the buttons of her dress, breath tight at what she was doing. She had stopped wearing corsets this last year, to her mother’s disapproval, and the brassiere and slip she wore underneath her dress were of a pale lace-trimmed silk that would be utterly transparent in the water. She had only met Mr Baelish for the first time this afternoon and here she was now, stripping to her underthings.

She pushed her dress down and then hunched over to roll down her stockings, face flushing red, hoping that he had stayed true to his word and was not watching her.

When she finally looked up again he was swimming across the pond away from her and she hurried down to the edge of the water, slipping into its depths with a little yelp at the chill.

“Alright?” he asked, gliding closer.

She could see the freckles on his shoulders in the bright sun reflecting off the surface and the pale shape of his chest beneath the water.

“Yes, thank you,” she said primly. Even though the water felt cool on her body, her cheeks were still very hot. She lifted a hand to her face as he watched her, his chin dipping into the water, muscles working as he sculled his arms.

Something brushed against her leg and she let out a cry and jerked forward and he caught her, their limbs tangling. “Oh, goodness,” she said, hands scrabbling at his shoulders. “I felt something on my leg,” she explained, embarrassed, and tried to pull back but his hands were secure on her waist, she could feel the heat of them through the thin silk of her sodden slip, and their bare legs were sliding against one another's as they treaded water.

He was smiling at her in a way that made her stomach tremble.

“Mr Baelish,” she said, almost slipping beneath the surface until he tugged her more firmly against him, her arms slipping around his neck.

“Call me, Petyr,” he said.

“Petyr,” she said breathlessly.

“You could be a model with your hair and this lovely pale skin,” he murmured, hand smoothing up her arm to palm her bare shoulder.

The strap of her slip had fallen down, she realised, but she did not have the wherewithal to lift it back up.

“I have a contract with Vogue, you know,” he continued.

“You do?” she said, voice growing thin as his thigh somehow wedged its way in between both of hers, pressing against her there.

“I’d love to take your photograph, Sansa,” he said, and now one of his hands was cupping the back of her neck and with the other he was encouraging her to lift her legs around his hips, to cling to him as he swam for the both of them, “have you visit my studio in London sometime. Would you like that, darling?”

“But the party—” she said, as if in a daze, his nose brushing against her cheek, his green eyes and sly smile so wicked up close.

“The party can wait,” he whispered and kissed her, swallowing her most unladylike moan.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“The paint’s supposed to go where?” Jon says, paint dripping onto his bare feet from the paintbrush he’s holding out as Theon strips down his tracksuit trousers.

“Here,” Theon says, slapping both bare arse cheeks, turning his head to smile winningly and wink at Jon. “That’s a proper wink, in case you were wondering, Snow,” he remarks, “not like whatever it is you do,” he says, gurning his face.

“Do you not want me to paint your arse then?” Jon says.

“I was only teasing, god, you’re touchy.”

“Do you ever actually wear underwear?” Jon says, staring at Theon’s peachy globes.

“For a special occasion maybe, but the ladies like what they like, Jon, easy access. You’d know that if you actually got any action.”

He rolls his eyes. “So what am I painting then,” he asks, smearing the drops that have fallen onto the floor with his toes, just another thing that’ll need to be cleaned before they move out of what Theon has charmingly dubbed the shag pad.

“A rainbow.”

“You’ve only got four colours.”

“Improvise, Snow, be creative.”

He sighs wearily as he stares at his blank canvas. “Do you want to bend over then,” he suggests.

“Buy me a drink first, why don’t you. And nah, I don’t need to cover the whole thing,” Theon says, waving a hand over his arse, “just how it is now. I’m not going to be giving them the full moon, just a tasteful half moon.”

Tasteful, Jon mouths to himself as he smears the red paint in an arc, clutching Theon’s hip with his free hand to steady him, feeling his own trousers start to tighten at the crotch.

“That’s the stuff,” Theon says and Jon rolls his eyes.

“So why a rainbow?” he asks painting the last of the red. His fingers are sweating on Theon’s hip and he flexes them, noticing how the movement makes Theon shiver.

“It’s for a coming out party.”

“Yours?” he asks.

“No, I’m already out.”

“You are?” Jon says with surprise, clutching his hip tighter. Suddenly all those mates that Theon invites back to sleep over at his after nights out take on a different light.

“How did you not know that?” Theon says, twisting around and frowning.

“I’m stupid I guess,” Jon says dipping his brush into the yellow.

“No you’re not.”

“I just figured it was more homosocial than homoerotic, your whole thing.”

“Here he comes with the long words.”

Jon smears an arc of yellow under the red. “You know about me, of course.”

“What about you?” Theon says, his voice catching as Jon grips his hip again and smirks.

“Well I’m bi too.”

“You dark horse.”

Jon laughs, finishing off the yellow and wiping his brush before dipping it into the green.

“Did you ever–” Theon pauses breathlessly as Jon slides his hand a little further around his hip– “you know.”

“No I don’t know.”

“Fancy me, you idiot.”

“I would be an idiot to fancy you, you’re right,” he remarks painting a green stripe across his friend’s arse. It’s a good arse, he’s always thought so, and he guesses that his face isn’t entirely offensive either.

“Ha, good one,” Theon says.

“Almost finished,” he says.

“You are?” Theon asks, sounding disappointed.

Jon hums. “But if you want to give me a private show later,” he says, painting the last bit and then digging his fingers into Theon’s hip, stepping back as Theon lets out a whine, “then feel free to do that.”

“I might just take you up on your offer,” Theon says, pulling up his trousers and repeating his impression of Jon’s wink.

“That paint hasn’t dried yet—”

Theon shrugs. “It’s the arse that’s important not the paint on it.”

“So spake Socrates.”

“You’re secretly funny, did you know that, Snow,” Theon says earnestly, “it sneaks up on you.” He smacks a kiss on Jon’s cheek and saunters off. “Thanks for the fondle!” he calls back.

“Thanks for leaving me with the clean-up,” Jon says, “idiot.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“I’ve seen the way you look at me when you think I don’t notice,” she says, blowing the smoke of her cigarette at an angle with her scarlet lips.

He scoffs, adjusting the papers in his hands. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“You can have me if you want.”

“In case you’ve forgotten, I’m married,” he says, turning around to open a drawer of his filing cabinet and then turning right back to look at her. She draws his attention inexorably; his work suffers whenever she comes down from the ministry to make her rounds of the office. But it’s late now, and everyone else has already gone home to their happy little families, the room dark aside from the lamp on his desk.

“No, I didn’t forget,” she says with a smile, slinking closer.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re insolent?” he says, hands clenching on the edge of his desk behind him.

“Many times,” she says, stubbing out the last of her cigarette on the ashtray next to him.

“You don’t seem ashamed by that.”

“I’ve never seen much point in shame, it’s not a very useful emotion. But desire-”

“Desire isn’t an emotion.”

“Oh, you’re right, how silly of me,” she says, making her eyes wide, tilting her head in a parody of innocence.

“Don’t act the ingenue, it doesn’t suit you,” he says, hand rising to grip at her nape, fingers tangling in the hair that tumbles down her back, his thumb pressing into the hollow behind her ear.

“Do you prefer the femme fatale then, should I look at you like this, like Miss Lake.” She twists her shoulders to glance at him from behind her curtain of hair.

“No,” he says, curling his lip, “you’ve no need for all that.” His hand is still clutching her, her body is so close to him now, he can feel the heat of her, can smell her perfume, that woozy scent that lingers in the room for hours after her visits. She is more alluring than any actress could hope to be.

“So you do want me.”

“I didn’t say that,” he grits out, hand dropping to grip tightly at her waist, unsure if he’s trying to push her away or pull her towards himself.

“No, but you meant it.”

“What do you want, Melisandre?” he asks, voice low.

“I thought that was obvious. But you’re asking why, aren’t you, why I would want a brusque curmudgeonly man like yourself.” She shifts to press against him, her soft hand hot on his cheek. “It’s because there’s a fire in you, Stannis, I can see it burning away behind your eyes. It’s because of your strength,” she squeezes his arm with her other hand, looking so sincere in her conviction that it makes him ache, “and your sense of duty, how you’ve been working yourself to the bone for this war with no care at all for your own well-being.”

“So you want to mother me, is that it.”

“No, Stannis,” she says, brushing her fingers across his furrowed brow. “I don’t want to be your mother, or your daughter, or your secretary,” she adds with a smile.

“What then.”

“Why, isn’t it obvious, I want to be your lover, and you want to be mine.”

And he kisses her, god damn him, he kisses her, giving in to the lust that has plagued his nights for months, to the hunger that burns deep in his gut when she walks in a room and fixes her gaze upon him. She speaks of a fire, of duty, but the only fire is surely the one she sets alight, and duty—he presses her against the desk, tugging up the skirt of her dress, rough fingers catching on her silk stockings as she moans and looks triumphant—duty has nothing to do with this, he thinks, bending over to bite at her pale thighs, to devour her.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“I thought you were dead,” she says, voice soft and sad, as Stannis’s hands curve over the edge of the crib, staring at the babe inside and then glancing over to the boots at the bottom of the bed, the boots belonging to another man.

“It’s been four years,” he says.

“It has.”

Four years since he was declared dead, one year then since she married another man, three months since she gave birth to this other man’s son.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, voice thick with tears, but he makes no move to embrace her, fearing his touch would only be unwelcome.

She had wept when he knocked on the door, clutching her arms around his neck as he held her to him so tightly, swearing never to leave her again. And then she had showed him the telegram confirming his death. And then she had told him about her marriage, and the baby.

His injured hip aches but it is nothing to the pain of his heart. Is this only a dream, some new flavour of nightmare conjured up as he lies in the cell he called his home for four years, his body bruised, his spirit so thin he does not believe he could have lasted for another year without perishing?

He looks around the familiar room; at the rose-print wallpaper he had hung to welcome her to the house on the bluff at Storm’s End that had been in his family for generations, the house she inherited when he was declared dead, the house which another man now makes his home; the dressing table with its small framed portrait of Stannis in his uniform propped up next to her silver brush set, with another portrait next to that, the face hidden by the shadow of the chest of drawers cutting off the warm summer light streaming in through the lace curtains; and the vase with the hand-picked flowers by the side of the bed, messily arranged as if done by a man’s hand.

The babe begins to stir, his face scrunching, tiny fists reaching out. He blinks open his blue eyes, Sansa’s eyes, Stannis thinks, as she reaches past him to lift the babe out, humming to him as she strokes his small back.

She smells of warmth and milk and home as she murmurs sweet things to her rousing son, kissing his forehead, the light turning her red hair golden and revealing the freckles on her cheeks that Stannis used to trace softly with his finger as she slept.

Stannis had dreamed of her, just as she was now; imagined her stroking a hand across his brow and singing to him, as he lay awake with the noisy cries of the other prisoners, blood oozing from his wounds onto the cold stone floor, thinking that he might never make it home.

He looks at her now, noting the changes, the small creases at the corners of her mouth and her fuller figure, which only serve to make her more beautiful. Her cheeks are full with health, her thick hair curls out of its braid, her sorrowful eyes—

What does she see when she looks at him? An old man aged to decrepitude by his time in captivity, with hollow cheeks and bruised eyes, a cough that the doctors say will never heal completely, a leg that needs a walking stick on the best of days. To think that he had believed he could return home to such a youthful woman as this, with the rest of her life before her, to think that he had thought of her nursing him when she should be caring for her children, not him in his dotage.

Before he had asked her to marry him, on the clifftop nearby, her sky-blue dress flapping in the wind and with joyful tears in her eyes, he had told her that he could not have children, about the childhood fever that robbed him of his chance to have an heir, and she had said that she had made up her mind, that she would marry him and they would make a life together, just the two of them, that they would be happier than any husband and wife could ever be.

A key turns in the lock of the front door, a voice calls out a cheery hullo, and boots stomp up the stairs towards them.

She bites her lip, rocking the babe from side to side, as Stannis stands there, his teeth gritted and his hands clenched into fists, waiting to meet the man who has married his wife, the man who has replaced him, because Stannis was the fool who got himself captured, who had left her alone to weather her grief, to mourn him.

A figure in the doorway. A man with black curls and dark eyes, with the dirt of a hard day’s work in the fields on his shirt and a sweet smile for his wife and babe.

Jon,” Stannis says, his voice punched out of him as he stares at the once familiar face.

For Jon had been the greatest regret of his time training recruits at the Wall, the young man he took to his bed at only nineteen. The first and last man he swore to ever lie with.

“Stannis?” Jon says, clutching the doorframe, his body swaying with shock.

The soft cry of the babe breaks the silence, as both men turn to the woman rocking Jon’s son in her arms, her face creased with grief and confusion.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“I can’t believe you talked me into this,” Gendry says, tugging down the front of his borrowed blazer, and she tries not to laugh at the sheer horror on his face.

“It’ll be fine, he’ll love you,” she says, pulling on his arm so he stops looking at the mirror like his reflection physically pains him.

He gives her a pointed look, head tilted and eyebrows raised.

“Well he won’t hate you,” she corrects, “he’ll warm up to you, you’re a solid guy.”

“A solid guy,” he repeats, looking stricken, “is that how you’re going to introduce me? Hi Dad, this is Gendry, he’s a solid guy. Arya,” he says, clutching her shoulders, “solid guys do not get their unmarried girlfriends - their unmarried royal, third-from-the-throne, girlfriends - pregnant.”

“You know, I feel like the word solid doesn’t mean anything now, you’ve said it too many times.”

“Arya,” he whines.

“I know, I heard you,” she says and reaches up on tiptoes to kiss his cheek. She’s entirely too fond of this ridiculous boyfriend of hers and she fears it’s terminal. “But what is he going to do?”

“Er, any number of things,” he says, counting them off on his fingers. “Banish me, exile me from the North, put me in a secret dungeon, geld me, murder me.”

“I won’t let him do any of those things, stupid.”

“I was being facetious,” he says, eyes wide, “are you saying he’s banished people before, are you saying that the secret dungeon is real??”

“You’re getting hysterical.”

“I am not,” he says in a suspiciously high-pitched tone of voice.

“I’m supposed to be the needy one at the moment,” she reminds him, poking him in the arm, “I’m the one who’s currently growing a heart and a brain and…and…fingernails inside of me.”

“Fingernails…?” he says, looking startled. He puts his hands on her waist and looks down at her small bump. “Wow,” he says, voice softer now. “Fingernails,” he repeats and smiles at her delightedly.

“You are so strange.”

“But it’s amazing, you’re growing a little human,” he says, cupping her face with his hands, “you’re amazing,” he adds and kisses her softly, in the way he knows drives her crazy.

She goes up on tiptoes again and tugs him down to her for a proper kiss and it quickly turns filthy, his broad hands hoisting her up and wrapping her legs around his hips, a motion which threatens to rip the hem of the fancy dress she reluctantly put on to match Gendry’s blazer and tie.

He presses her into the wall, kissing down her neck as she scratches her nails through his hair and when he grinds his dick against her she tips her head back and smiles. “Speaking of solid,” she drawls.

He groans into her shoulder. “You’re a menace, and don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing,” he says, nuzzling her cheek and making her shiver.

“What?” she says breathlessly as he tugs her hips towards his.

“Attempting to distract me from the carnage to come.”

“Just wanted to give you a proper send off before you’re dragged down to the secret dungeon.”

"Charitable of you,” he says, sliding a hand into her knickers.

“I know,” she says, breathless now, and kisses him again, thinking that they’re definitely going to be scandalously late for their royal audience but it’ll totally be worth it.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“I wish I could hate you,” he says, holding his hands tightly behind his back, staring out at the windswept moors of Storm’s End.

The room he has been shown to by one of Lord Baratheon’s many servants is richly appointed and smells like polish and the vase of fresh flowers on the mantelpiece that was no doubt placed there upon the orders of the new lady of the house, the young woman who stands but a few paces away from Jon and who has haunted his dreams in the months he has spent abroad in the wastelands of the North, his once sister and now cousin, Sansa.

“You may hate me if you like,” she says, her voice wavering in such a sorrowful fashion he cannot bear to remain thus with his back to her, as if he cares not if she is hurt by him.

“Sansa,” he says mournfully, clenching his fingers together.

She lifts her little chin; her mouth is trembling but she does not weep, nor run from the room sobbing as she did when she was a child and an easy target for her siblings’ tricks. She is not a child any longer, she is a woman grown, a wife.

“Sansa, I do not hate you, it would not be within my powers to do so.”

“Yet you wish you could.”

She is wearing a grey dress that on any other lady would appear plain, and yet she appears to him as some angel might - her waist nipped in to unfathomably narrow proportions, her flame-coloured curls escaping from their pins, her cheeks flushed with health, her delicate wrists clasped before her, her blue eyes like the waters of some warm southern ocean he longed for during his frozen months in the North.

“Forgive me,” he begs, “I said it in anger, I did not mean it.”

“You must have meant it, to say it,” she insists. She has never been weak but he sees a new strength in her, the remnant no doubt of the hardships she has faced while he has been out of reach of any letters. For while he was on his folly of an expedition, she lost her family and home and all her prospects, bar marriage to a man named as dour and harsh by all who know him.

“Forgive me,” he says again, moving towards her, kneeling at her feet as her breath hitches and she looks askance at the door, one hand fluttering to her heaving breast.

“Jon,” she says, “you mustn’t.”

“Lest your husband sees me?” he says bitterly. “Why, you may say that I am simply your dearest cousin, overcome with the months we have been apart from one another, for that would not be a lie, would it.”

“Please,” she says frantically.

He stands up on knees that creak, his body abused from the ravages of a winter that almost cost him his life, and strides to the door, closing it and locking it behind him, as Sansa stares at him dumbfounded.

“No one may interrupt us now,” he says and he sees her swallow.

“I wrote you letters,” she says, her voice barely a whisper.

“They did not reach me, our ship was frozen in the ice, nothing made it through.”

She nods tightly.

“And so you wed Lord Baratheon.”

A cross look glances across her features before she composes herself once more, but Jon knows her too well, she is not composed, her spirit is fluttering against its bounds like a bird in a cage. A dark part of him, the part that he always blamed on his bastardy, wishes she would let it fly free, that he would know her thoughts unadulterated by politeness.

“I did what I must,” she says.

“He forced you?”

“You know that is not what I mean,” she says, voice hitching as Jon moves closer.

His own panic has left him now, he feels only certainty. He will not leave this room before he has bared his soul to her, before he has stolen a kiss from her. He has fought the elements, the wastelands of snow and ice, battled against wild animals and sailors crazed with hunger who sought to kill him and suck the marrow from his very bones. A ring on her finger, a new surname, an oath sworn in front of God himself - none of this will keep him from her, he swears it.

“You frighten me when you look at me like that,” she says.

“You think I would harm you?” he asks, and she shakes her head. “Then what do you fear,” he says, moving to take her hand. He is close enough now to see the freckles on her cheeks underneath the powder she wears, to sense the warmth of her body, to hear her breath shake.

“I am married,” she says as he smooths his thumb across the back of her hand and watches a blush spread down her pale neck.

“Aye,” he says. “And I am your cousin.”

“I know that we once talked of—” she says, looking down at their joined hands, “—that you wanted to—”

“I was going to make you my wife,” he says softly and she steals back her hand and covers her eyes with it, letting out a sob. “Oh, Sansa,” he says and takes her trembling form in his arms. “Forgive me, I do not blame you.”

“You should,” she says tearfully.

“You were all alone and I was lost, you thought I would not return.” He feels her nod against him and it is he that is shaking now, to have her so close to him, to be enveloped by her familiar perfume. “But I have returned,” he reminds her, cupping her face, brushing away her tears with his thumb.

“You are too late,” she whimpers.

“I am not,” he says and kisses her, clutching her to him as she gasps and tries to break free from his embrace for but a moment before he feels her swoon, her trembling arms thrown about his neck as he plunders her mouth and pushes her back against the wall.

He moves his kisses to her jaw and the unblemished flesh of her neck just above the pulse that races as she holds onto him as if she fears she shall be swept away.

“We mustn’t,” she murmurs, “Oh, Jon, we shouldn’t,” she says and he silences her words with his lips on hers.

He has tried for so many years to remove the stain of the manner of his birth, to act honourably in all things, to be the man Eddard Stark believed he was, and what has it brought him? Only pain and misery. If he is a bastard, aye, he shall be a bastard, he thinks, tangling one hand in Sansa’s hair, tilting her head to ravish her mouth, and let none dare to come between him and the woman who owns his heart.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“I’ve got you a present,” his new neighbour says, appearing at his door at 6 o’clock sharp on a Friday afternoon, right when he’s looking forward to sitting down with the crosswords he’s saved from the week, before a punishing session on his treadmill to work out the frustrations of the many incompetencies of his employees.

“You’ve got me a present,” he repeats warily, feeling dazzled by seeing her in full for the first time and not just as a glimpse of red entering and leaving the flat opposite his.

She’s stunningly beautiful and he feels himself start to sweat like he’s a teenage boy again, tongue-tied at her lovely heart-shaped face, at the curves underneath her red dress, at the lock of hair coiling over the pale stretch of her collarbones - and who knew he was attracted to collarbones, he thinks, almost hysterically.

“It’s a votive candle, and I made it myself,” she beams, holding out a blood-red candle of some sort but he can’t look away from her gaze long enough to study it closely.

She’s talking of candles and energies and visions now and this would ordinarily be the point when he rushes such a visitor out of the door but she’s so bloody earnest, her eyes so large and liquid, she’s so beautiful, that he finds himself nodding, encouraging her, for god’s sake.

“You know, I dreamt of you before I moved here,” she says a few hours later, as they sip on the bottle of wine she had also brought with her, thick and almost spiced on his tongue, and instead of calling the police at her stalkerly confession, he’s thinking now about what he can make her for dinner, he’s lost his wits entirely.

“You’re a man, and I’m a woman,” she’s saying even later, “we are two halves of a whole and there is power in such a joining.” Her words are far from seductive, in fact they are entirely mad, and yet he finds himself utterly bewitched by them, by her burning focus on him.

Can he be blamed if he kisses her then, if he bends her over the dining room table and ruts into her hard enough to make the cabinet of his ex-wife’s china rattle, if he digs his fingers into her hips tight enough to bruise, if he comes with a loud groan the moment she wails and flutters tightly around him?

Perhaps not, but he is surely to blame for not leaving it there, for continuing on the whole sordid thing, fucking her against the door to the cupboard under the stairs, then halfway up the stairs themselves, and then twice on his bed, the second time with her writhing and chanting something above him, looking like every forbidden desire made flesh, so that he thinks he says at one point, I’m going to die, before she laughs and drags those bright red talons down his chest and he puts his mouth to better use on her breasts.

In the morning he wakes with a face full of red hair and a warm, wriggling, very female, body in his arms and, once he has been sufficiently distracted for a good hour, they rouse themselves for breakfast and he stares at her across the table as she smiles shyly at him, the smear of jam on her cheek ruining his assertion that she is some kind of hallucination conjured up from his most depraved fantasies.

"I’m not normally like this,” she says, “I don’t normally leap into bed with a man on the first night, it’s just that there’s something about you.”

You dreamed of me,” he repeats, gormlessly, and then flushes in utter embarrassment.

She nods, pleased. “I did.”

“And was I...better than you had dreamt?” he finds himself asking, wishing to draw more blushes to her cheeks. He has never been a man for flirting but then he has never had such a woman sitting across from him looking smitten and covered with bruises from his mouth and greedy fingers.

She nods and he feels her foot slide up his calf underneath the table and he chokes down the last of his coffee and drags her up, hoisting her giggling into his arms and staggering back to bed.

He shall allow himself this one crazed weekend, he thinks, and then things will return to normality.

Famous last words, he thinks, weeks later, when Melisandre moves in with him and he finds himself holding a stick of incense for her as she performs some odd prayer in front of the fireplace; and months after that when he stands in front of a registrar, a bride wearing lurid shades of red beside him, and makes her his wife, to the muted shock of all attending.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Is there a reason for you to be naked in my bed?” Viscount Stannis Baratheon declares to the young woman next to him, whose coy expression belies the undeniable fact of her dishabille.

But before Lady Margaery Tyrell may answer him, the door to the bedroom is opened by a frantic Lord Tyrell who is searching for his missing sister and who, upon discovering her in bed with the Viscount, promptly makes enough noise to wake the rest of the house who come tumbling out of their own beds, the inebriated haze of the previous night’s excesses at the Baratheon summer party whisked away by the promise of the scandal of the season.

Later that day, after several heated conversations that almost bring Stannis to blows with his brothers and several male members of the Tyrell family, a marriage license is procured and signed by a furious Stannis and a beaming Margaery, bedecked in a fine wedding dress she apparently had already to hand.

“You were foolish,” Stannis says to his new bride in the carriage ride home to Storm’s End Manor, which has been presented to Stannis by his brother Robert as a wedding gift, an infuriating state of affairs when Stannis has spent many a year fruitlessly petitioning his brother for its rightful ownership, “not to check the identity of the man in the bed you trespassed into last night. If you had, you would have known that myself and my brother Robert — who is lately widowed and is thus now, as many a dowager seems to delight in informing me, the most eligible man in the ton — had switched places due to my dislike of the bawdy opulence of the room chosen for me. You would be Duchess Robert Baratheon now, and your life might have been all the happier for it. You are entirely to blame for this dissatisfactory state of affairs, and for any womanly tears and maidenly sorrows that ensue forthwith.”

She huffs and fans her face with the large monstrosity of a fan she has brought out of some hidden pocket upon her person. “Is this your wedding toast to me, my lord? For I hope you do not find me rude if I say that it lacks a certain necessary tenderness.”

Tenderness,” he repeats with astonishment, “Madam, if you wished for tenderness you should not have slipped yourself underneath my bedclothes.”

“Just so?”

“Indeed.”

“Are you not remotely happy to have a wife, my lord?”

“No. But then my choice lay between a duel or a marriage license, and I rather enjoy being alive, my lady.”

“As do we all,” she says pleasantly, and he scoffs and crosses his arms.

 

*

 

The marriage of Viscount and Lady Baratheon proceeds as expected for two such contrary, ill-suited, individuals — with much weary sighs and gritting of teeth from him; and much flouncing about in fine dresses bought for with his own coin from her; with him being dragged reluctantly, and full of loathing, to at least three social occasions per month wherein she charms all and sundry, and with her spending every other evening complaining about boredom as he spends his time reading and working on his accounts; with his insistence that they keep to separate bedchambers and her insistence upon sneaking often into his bed, unclothed, as if her first productive attempt has birthed some terrible sordid habit, whereupon he does his best to manfully reject her timid advances but does not always succeed, and is also forced to stop her wriggling about restlessly while he is trying to sleep by laying his person over her smaller form until she is quite worn out and finally still.

And when the usual consequence of a marriage in which husband and wife have been known to share the same bedchamber is announced by the lady to her husband, the servants are quite astonished by their lord’s own astonishment, and keep themselves tremendously busy for the first few days while he wrestles with the news and barks out orders as if he is back upon the deck of his navy warship.

 

*

 

“I do not think I should be a natural father,” Stannis remarks, with his usual plainness, as he speaks with his wife during afternoon tea in the orangery of the estate, having been obliged to leave his office by her thrice-repeated request for the company of her husband.

“I should imagine fatherhood takes many men by surprise, that it might be a skill learned in the doing,” his wife says kindly, fanning herself with the new fan her husband reluctantly purchased for her during a visit to the shops in which he found himself borne to new heights of irritation by the gossiping harridans who occupied the haberdashery.

He clears his throat and scowls at the plate of cakes a servant has brought them, miniature frothy pink things that look like something that might be served in a house of ill-repute, not that Stannis admits to knowing anything about the interiors of such a place. “You would have done better with my brother for a husband and father, for he is jovial and enjoys playing games and other such things that children are said to delight in.”

Was her husband never a child himself, his bride wonders archly, or was he birthed as he is now, dour and suspicious and prickly as a cat. “My lord,” she says, setting her fan down and picking up his hand, whose masculine proportion regularly brings a blush to her cheek when she recalls the firmness of his grip upon her person during their congress, the surprising passions lurking behind such a staid exterior. “I have not spoken thus before, because I believed you would not take my words as truth, but I feel compelled, now that we are to have a child, to inform you that I was well aware as to the identity of the man whose bed I joined that night.”

“Impossible,” he says, attempting to retract his hand but she holds on tight and sets her chin. She will not let him wriggle out of this conversation like he has so many others.

“You may be aware, my lord, of my grandmother’s schemes.”

He scoffs, “Only a simpleton would not.”

“Just so,” she says, trying not to smile. He does not mean to be humorous, her husband, but nevertheless he often is, his dry comments well-disguised by his general air of disinterest.

“Then it might not be a surprise to you to discover that she sought to include me in her schemes, that she informed me that I must make my way into the bed of Duke Baratheon and thus force him to marry me, and that if I did not do so I would be gravely punished.”

His scowl deepens. “I am unsurprised by such a contemptible scheme but the craven manner of it, her compulsion upon you, is truly beyond the pale.”

She presses his hand, pleased by his defending her, and then takes her hand back to her own lap. “You are aware too, of the rumours of your older brother's indiscretions,” she says carefully, “of the unfortunate results of his sins and also, to speak plain, my lord, of his temper.”

Her husband shifts uncomfortably in his seat. “I confess that I am, that his behaviour in these matters is deplorable to me and that this is the reason for our frequent estrangements,” he admits.

“So then, my lord,” she says, "you might understand why I did not choose to trick such a man into marriage. Why I fixed my aims instead upon a man who is known as fair, who will not—” she says, her breath hitching now, the emotion of what she has wished to say to him from the very beginning, and the strain of her delicate condition, working upon her so that her husband looks quite horrified and gets up from his seat as if he cannot decide whether to flee from the sight of womanly tears or comfort her—“who will not strike my person.”

Never,” he says forcefully, kneeling awkwardly before her and taking up her hand, of his own accord this time.

“I did not blunder into my decision blindly,” she continues feelingly, staring down at the husband who has become so dear to her, “and I learned what I must about your characters. They said that you were kind, in your own particular way, and fair, and I have found both to be true. I have found the greatest happiness with you, husband,” she confesses.

“My lady,” he says, and pauses as if to gather his thoughts. “I admit to finding a measure of contentment in our marriage also,” he says and she tries not to beam with happiness lest he be dissuaded from expressing any more sentimental emotions in the future. “However ill-suited our characters may be to one another, I believe that we shall weather any disappointments and troubles, and that I have,” he says, his neck flushing red, “to my surprise, indeed developed tender feelings towards you.”

“Oh, Stannis,” she says tearfully and leans her face towards his to encourage him to kiss her, whereupon he does, taking her in his arms and carrying her to the couch underneath the orange blossom and proving his feelings to her most vigorously, to the scandal of the poor servants attempting to retrieve the now-abandoned tea-set.

And if husband and wife are back to bickering the next morning — he, weary with her desire for even more new dresses, and she, saddened by his refusal to attend a spring ball — then they might have the memory of that afternoon, of the private and tender feelings confessed, to buoy them up through their daily quarrels.