But she is so beautiful, he thinks, how didn’t I see it before?
She’s naked as her name day and resting on her belly, her back exposed for him. Her head is above her folded arms, facing him. He quite likes how her skin comes alive with every soft caress his fingers leave on it, every praise. He finds himself taking a liking to lot of things these days. Like the way her eyes never stray from his face now and the way she smiles warmly at—no, for him.
“Tell me,” She breathes just as his fingers slide across the delectable dimples on the very low of her back. The fire seems to dance on her skin and it makes her freckles look like magic. “what are you thinking about?” And when his hand ventures lower, not to caress, but for something greedier, she bites her lip.
All of this.
It’s a revelation. To have her like this and to be had in return.
It’s all he’s underserving of, he knows it well, but it makes this no less sweet.
“How you could barely look me in the eye so long ago.” His voice is but a whisper. “How badly I wanted you to. How lucky I am that you would look upon them now, upon me. I wonder what you see in them as to allow me to look into yours.” What you see in me, he wants to add. Still, the confession makes her cheeks turn rosier and it makes him want her again. It’s now when her eyes choose to stray, making their way down his body.
A challenge. The way it always is with her.
“They’re the part of you I learned first.” The knight gives back. His heart squeezes in his chest. “They’re how I learned to know you, Ser.” She sits up and against the bed’s post on her side, not bothering at all to cover her nakedness. He follows suit, though only his chest is bare, furs covering everything below.
The first time I saw her bare she could scarcely stand it, yet I am the one covering up now.
“In Harrenhal,” She starts as if she could read his mind. “when you told me what you’d done—that was when I first saw it. That was when your eyes told me the truth first.” She utters, moving slowly, but with purpose. She brings him towards the center of their bed (previous endeavors taught them they should end up on the floor otherwise) and climbs onto his lap. He looks up at her—sapphires—overwhelmed by the feeling building up inside him, running along his body like it’s in his veins. “And when you left me there, when you told me you’d keep your oath, those eyes told me the truth, then.” It’s said so softly that for a moment he thinks he’s imagined it. She takes his hand and his wrist and brings his arms around her body.
He brings her chest up against his, arms tight around her, his good hand digging into the taut flesh of her bottom. Her hands cradle his face and then travel down his neck and his shoulders, and back up again. She’s everywhere. When they settle at the back of his neck, fingers tugging on his hair, too much and not quite enough at the same time, that’s when he can breathe again.
Gentler than I thought she would be.
Gentler than Cersei.
“Brienne,” Jaime says it like he’s lost, and she kisses it away, kisses him like she’s found him. She has. “Brienne.” It spills from his mouth, against her own and…what is he begging for?
“When you saved me from the bear, when you gave me armor and a sword, and later when we said goodbye. Your eyes told me no lies, then. Do you remember?” She draws in a shaky breath feeling him through the furs covering his lap. “But it was in Riverrun when I saw—when I learned the truth they had always told me.”
It’s yours. I will always be yours.
“They tell me everything,” She says with a smile. “They are true to me now, my love. You should ask how I can ever look away.”
His hand is on her face, now, bringing her lips to his harder than he’s intended, but she doesn’t shy away from force.
She is force itself. Strength. Resilience.
He once told her he could overpower her. He now knows how wrong he had been.
Jaime makes a desperate sound at the back of his throat when she takes his jaw and angles his head backwards, deepening her assault, the sinful way she fucks his mouth with her tongue.
Their kiss tastes of surrender and he can’t get enough.
And when she reaches down for his straining cock with a whimper, and a quiet, eager “in me, in me, in me”, he pushes the furs between them away and gives her what she wants. She’s slick with her and him from their coupling, earlier. They’ve stopped being careful.
But nothing’s ever been careful about them, has it?
“Jaime,” Brienne breathes, her brow knitted in pleasure as her hips settle on his. He buries his face in her neck and moans like she’s broken him.
It’s much later when they’re sated and he’s behind her, his left arm around her waist, holding her to him. She’s breathing so gently he fears she’s asleep. If she’s asleep it means it’s over.
If she’s asleep, he must be going. He told himself he would. He has to.
She’s could die and I’m not there. I can’t let her die alone. I could never live with it.
He presses a kiss to the back of her neck and inhales. She smells of seven heavens; of her and their arousals and him and sweat and desire and the fire warming their room and it feels to him like peace.
“Jaime?” Her voice could not have been gentler, but it still startles him.
“My lady?” He responds, voice thick, kissing her hair. “I thought you were asleep.”
“I can hear you thinking.” She breathes. “Is it tonight? Have you got everything you need?” He finds he can’t move now. His chest feels like it’s ice, his lungs solid and unable to fill with air.
“Brienne,” He starts, but there’s nothing else he can say.
She pulls away from him gingerly and turns to face him. Jaime’s eyes are wide with fear, full of hurt and some surprise. She pushes away the unsettling feeling in her gut and asks,
“You were not going to say goodbye, were you?” He looks like he might be ill. “You were going to spend every last minute you could with me and then you were going to flee in the middle of the night like a common thief. Like a craven.” There is no anger in her voice, though it is in her words and that perhaps is what makes him feel like a sword was driven into the deepest part of him.
He sits up and she follows like an animal measuring its prey. Again, he finds he’s hidden away where she’s bare and he wants to laugh at the irony of it.
“You are no craven, Ser. Not the man I’ve allowed into my life, into my heart, into me,” She says ‘me’ so shakily, it makes his ears ring. “You cannot spend your every day with me and then leave without a word. You cannot bed me one last time and then leave without a word. You cannot feel what you feel for me and then leave without. A. Word.” There’s a single tear running down his cheek and she watches as it disappears into his greying beard. He does not bother to wipe it away.
Still, Brienne looks at him with a softness in her eyes that he doesn’t deserve.
“I am not the man you think I am, Brienne.” He says quietly and with anger. She knows it’s directed at himself.
“You are not the man you think you are, either.” She breathes and Jaime looks at her like it’s the first time he’s seeing her.
And she watches as something hardens in his gaze.
“I pushed a boy out a tower window, crippled him for life. For Cersei.” He rasps, another tear escaping him. She listens. “I killed my own cousin, just to get back to Cersei. I would have killed every man, woman and child in Riverrun for Cersei.” His chest rises and falls quickly, his face wet with his shame.
Still, all she does is listen.
“She’s hateful and so am I. If this war ends with her death, then it should also end with mine. We are one soul in two bodies, she always said. The same person. I deserve a fate no better than hers.” Jaime’s voice is so hoarse she can scarcely hear, but she does. Oh, she does. “Her day of reckoning must also be mine.” And it destroys her inside how he can’t look into her eyes as he tells her this.
Tells her the sentence he’s set for himself.
“What have you done for yourself, Jaime?” Now, that…that makes his head rise. Slowly, carefully. Like he’s wondering if she’s really spoken. Like he’s wondering what those words mean. Like he’s never thought about it before. She says it again, louder this time. “What have you done for you?”
“I have loved you.” Jaime says brokenly, but surely and a sob threatens to tear her throat apart. “That’s what I have done for me. I have loved you, Brienne.”
“Jaime,” She cries, pulling him against her, tight and unforgiving. He embraces her back with just as much need and his hand cradles her head against his neck as she cries. They’re on their knees, on their bed; their witness and their judge. “Please, stay. You don’t need to die with her. Stay. Gods, please, Jaime. Jaime.” Brienne begs and she knows it’s a losing game because of the way he falls apart in her arms, the way his tears wet her shoulder and run down her skin, cruel and taunting.
He rode north against all odds to die with me, she thought, he shall ride south to die with her.
“I’m s—so sorry, B—Brienne,” It’s hardly understandable. “Please, forgive me. Please, my love. Brienne. Please.”
They grieve and beg, her for his life and him for her forgiveness, for so long their throats are raw, their bodies shaking with the exhaustion of it all.
“I cannot forgive you,” Brienne trembles as she says it, her forehead against the other knight’s. His hand wipes at the wetness, though it’s no use, his touch burning scars under her skin. His answering sob makes her want to regret her words, even if regret them she can’t. “But I have loved you and I always will.”
“Brienne,” It’s a prayer and an anguished cry for help, but he battles only himself, she knows. This fight he cannot win.
“Ser Jaime,” She breathes and he breaks, breaks, breaks. Her hand on his face and the other on his chest is what keeps him together,
“Oathkeeper.” She kisses him—chastely—to seal it. Jaime’s green eyes are full of devastation as he realizes what she’s doing.
Man without honor.
“A man of honor.” It’s Brienne’s way to tell him. Jaime nods, his thumb caressing her lips.
“You have loved me.” It’s not a question that needs answering. It’s more said in awe, disbelief, wonder…despite her declaration before.
It’s him understanding what being loved—really loved, feels like.
It’s the unavoidable, inevitable, undeniable truth. The one in his eyes, the one in her voice, the one.
The only one that matters. The only thing that matters.
“Jaime,” She says, and he knows it’s the last time he will ever hear her say his name.
“My love. Brienne.” He says, one last time. “You are the most beautiful thing in my life.”
And he doesn’t leave now.
He holds her and she holds him. Keeping each other in one piece, if only for tonight. They sleep, in a calm so haunted it makes Winterfell feel like it trembles underneath them.
Dawn should see him riding off as she watches. Dawn should see them end.
But dawn is not here yet, she thinks, holding on a little tighter, breathing him in a little deeper. Dawn is not here yet.