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Atonement

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He does not know how to love her. And she, so long apart from family, has forgotten what it is to be loved. So they move in fits and starts, in this dance they’ve taken up. His years of silence have left him taciturn and not the effusive man she’d known in King’s Landing. She tries to draw him out with gentle conversation, but more often than not, finds a response only in the tilt of his head or the angle of his eye. So they sit quietly after the others have left, or stand side by side at the low wall of the newly restored battlements and watch the sun sink into the vast green of the Wolfswood.

He braces his hands on the curve of the wall and she darts her eyes at them, so large and heavily marked with threads of scars, his knuckles red between the coarse, dark hair that creeps up his fingers. She longs to reach for one of those hands and place it upon her breast, so he can feel her heart beat, so he can know she is still alive. She wants this in an unfamiliar place, long hidden and even longer denied, except in her dreams. But she will not be so bold. She does not trust herself or these desires. And he is too brittle to risk it.

Late one morning she is crossing the bailey and sees him striding towards her from the training yard, plucking at a new tear in his breeches. She murmurs a greeting and his head snaps up, eyes moving from her face to the basket of wildflowers on her arm. Faster than she can take it in, he pulls a bloom free from the wicker and tucks it behind her ear. His knuckles pass briefly over her cheek as he pulls his hand back. With an exaggerated bow, he sweeps an arm before her and continues on without a word. It is several moments before she can move again. Her smile is radiant, and that night she presses the flower into a book of songs and tucks it beneath her pillow.