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to face unafraid (the plans that we've made)

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They curl around each other like tangled vines, huddling for warmth against the brutal winds of winter that blow a roaring threat against their tent. They've journeyed for weeks and the weather seems to worsen with every single step further north, but within their shared tent, there's a heat that flares to life as soon as they touch. Brienne knows the taste of Jaime’s mouth and the sweat that gathers in the hollow of Addam’s neck. She knows the grip of their hands on her arse, the hard heat of their cocks in her hands and mouth, and the flavor of her own musk on their tongues.

She has one hand buried in Addam’s copper hair while he sucks faint bruises into the tender flesh of her thighs, her other hand grips Jaime’s forearm where it’s wrapped around her middle, cradling her while Addam drives her to madness. Addam presses back against her hand and rubs his thumb along a spot high on her leg, near where her thigh meets her hip.

“What’s this?” he asks, breath warm and damp.

Brienne opens her eyes, gazing down at the scar Addam is tracing. “Jaime,” she says dazedly.

Addam looks up at them both, eyebrow raised in question.

“The tip of my sword caught her,” Jaime explains, shrugging.

Brienne can’t help but snort. “That’s certainly one way of putting it.”

Addam is well-distracted from his task now. Brienne squirms, rolling her hips toward him and gripping his hair tighter. He bites her lightly, smirking when she thwacks him with her knee. He slithers up her body, but before she can raise a protest, his fingers slide between her thighs, pressing into her, his thumb against her clit.

He kisses her neck, his tongue following the deep gouge marks that still furrow the skin of her throat and shoulder. “And this?”

“Bear,” she answers on a gasp, arching into his touch.

He pulls away again, his hand stilling on her cunt. “A bear?”

“The men that took my hand,” Jaime explains further, “they threw her into a bear pit with only a tourney sword.”

Addam makes an unhappy sound that rumbles against her pulse.

“And Jaime jumped in after me with no weapon and only one hand.”

Addam briefly goes slack against her, lifting away from her to stare between the two of them, disbelief writ heavy across his face.

“They wouldn’t let me die,” he says easily. “They were to deliver me to my father. They were at least smart enough to kill the bear rather than let me die.”

Addam does nothing more than shake his head, and she knows he’ll want more of an explanation later. For now, he leans forward and places a delicate kiss against her ruined cheek, barely feeling the touch beneath the mass of scar tissue. “And this?”

Brienne can’t help but stiffen between the two of them, the shame of her betrayals still a heavy weight on her shoulders. Jaime kisses her other cheek, hugging her tighter with the arm around her waist.

“A man who earned his moniker: Biter,” she says shortly.

Not even she and Jaime have truly discussed what happened between when he sent her to find Sansa Stark and when she dragged him with her to what felt like both of their demises. There was no time. There were lies upon lies on the journey to Lady Stoneheart; Brienne had been too scared of revealing everything if she revealed anything.

The time between their unlikely victory and finding the Army heading north--

“Why do I feel like that’s not the whole story?” Addam murmurs, kissing a trail along her jaw to her ear, pulling the lobe between his teeth.

“Later,” Jaime says before Brienne can say anything else. He kisses Brienne’s temple, a gentle, comforting press of his lips.

Addam pulls away from her, looking steadily at Jaime, his brows furrowing, some silent conversation going on between the two men. Finally, his face relaxes, but he still has an unhappy slant to his mouth.

“Lie down,” he says, though it’s more of a gentle request than a command.

Jaime shifts behind her until they can lie on their sides, him at her back and Addam in front. Addam draws her leg over his hip and kisses her deeply, his arm reaching around to grip Jaime. She still doesn’t quite understand how Addam can make her feel delicate and strong all at once, how they can both overwhelm her and comfort her all in the same breath.

They’re all naked and tangled together and when Addam enters her, the air punches out of her lungs in a lingering moan, she thinks she could tell him everything. She could tell them both; the terror and longing, the need to be worthy of Jaime’s gifts, the want that coiled within her when she thought of him, the hazy fear of fever from the wound on her cheek, everything that led her to the bolstering warmth and mounting joy of holding them both, of being held by them.

When she comes, she trembles and cries, she holds to Addam tightly with her legs and clutches Jaime’s arm hard enough to bruise.

She’ll tell them tomorrow. The whole story, because she knows they won’t let her fall into shame. Because she knows they’ll see her want her still.

Chapter Text

Brienne still has no idea how the hair braiding has become a thing.

Maybe even A Thing.

Somewhere along the way, it spiraled out of control. Now Jaime has thousands of followers on instagram and she’s legitimately good at braiding, to the point that he’s taken to screenshotting the nicest comments to send to her since she refuses to get an account for herself. The comments are--no one has ever given her a compliment without--well, without already liking her. Even Jaime didn’t give her a real compliment until after they’d already become friends.

(Despite what he says, “Fuck, you’ve got the biceps of The Warrior,” isn’t a compliment to a fourteen-year-old girl.)

It’s kind of intoxicating.

She’s not exactly proud of the hours she spends watching tutorials on intricate plaits, but she’s also not ashamed. Not when she gets to spend even more time with Jaime, turning his already pretty hair into something beautiful, something noteworthy. That she also gets to yank on his hair so hard he yelps like an angry puppy when he runs his mouth too much.

Still, when he bounds up to her in the hall at school, bouncing on his toes excitedly, she feels a curl of dread.

“What?” she asks before he makes a noise.

His lower lip juts out in a pout, his eyes soft and sad. It’s all fake, of course, but it still makes her heart feel weird.

“I had an awesome idea, but--”

Brienne rolls her eyes. “I’m also scared to ask, but what’s the idea?”

“Christmas hair!” He says it with all the enthusiasm of a golddigger shouting Eureka!

“I’m sorry?”

“For the ‘gram,” he says. “You know, Christmas tree braid with ornaments, tinsel crown, snowflake pattern, the possibilities are endless.”

“I have no idea how to do any of those.”

“You didn’t know how to do any of these before you tried.” He shrugs. “If you can’t figure it out on your own, I’m sure there’s some tutorial out there.”

She knows she was always going to agree, but it still feels like a concession when she says, “Fine.”

Jaime grins at her, wide and gleaming, all bright white teeth and dancing green eyes.

Someday, someday, she’ll learn how to say no to him.

Someday.

--

She spends her entire Thursday night looking for Christmas-themed plaits and eventually texts Jaime, if you want decorations in your hair you have to provide them.

J: U think i dont already?

B: tomorrow night?

J: Can we watch a xmas movie?

B: Only if its die hard

J: Is there another xmas movie?

--

Jaime no longer puts on the pretense of sitting beside her on the couch. He settles between her knees immediately, wriggling his shoulders and sighing happily. Brienne goes through the routine, brushing his hair out until it’s soft, almost fluffy from the waves being broken up by the bristles. Next, she sections the hair and combs it to make sure all of the tangles are completely gone.

“Snowflake, tree, or wreath?” she asks him.

“I was thinking we could do all three?” he asks, sounding unsure. “We could do one every weekend until Christmas.”

“Sure,” she agrees. It’s not like she hasn’t already researched how to do them. “Which one first?”

“The wreath?” He tilts his head back, gazing up at her upside down. “It’s the simplest, I think. Build the excitement, you know?”

“Makes sense.” She gathers the hairspray and gel, bobby pins, and tiny elastic bands she snaps half the time before they ever touch his hair. “Did you get the tinsel?”

Jaime grins then, a mischievous smirk on his mouth that always makes her chest flush warm.

He scampers out of the room and returns holding a plastic bag with a red logo Qyburn’s Craft Supply splashed across it. Brienne lifts her eyebrows and Jaime drops it next to her and reaches in to draw out a string of plastic, multi-colored, dollhouse-sized Christmas lights. She can’t help but laugh, which only makes Jaime look like she’s given him a gold star.

“Sit,” she says, pointing between her legs.

He plops down happily and starts the movie. He squirms a little when her fingernails scratch his scalp as she parts his hair just above his left ear.

“Tilt your head,” she says with a gentle push. She grabs the string of plastic lights and puts the free end at the part. “Gimme your hand.”

Jaime holds it up or her to take, well trained in not questioning her until she gets comfortable with whatever the new technique is. She presses his index and middle finger to the end to hold it in places while she twists it around one of the small sections of hair she’s gathered. Slowly, carefully, she picks up a new section of hair, twists it with the section nearest his face and crosses it over the back.

He’s so used to the process now that he wordlessly follows the gentle pushes and pulls of her fingers. Unlike normal, he manages to keep his focus on the movie while she works, carefully twisting each strand and crossed it over until his hair forms a careful rope braid around his head. It’s not the easiest style she’s done, the little plastic beads making her fingers ache in a new way.

Halfway through, his patience breaks and he starts babbling; mindless things about football practice, or how shitty Gregor Clegane is as a Chemistry lab partner, or how much he’s dreading another dour Christmas morning. He doesn’t really require input from Brienne, perfectly happy for her to hum and hmph her way through his conversation.

When she finally finishes, tucking the end half of the braid back through the circlet of rope braid, she sits back and looks at it. It’s actually...it’s kind of awesome. The whole effect is like a medieval princess that fell into the modern age and discovered the joys of dollhouse decor in place of ribbons.

Brienne pats him on the shoulder. “Okay, you’re ready.”

Jaime bounces on his ass and grabs his phone, handing it to her to take a picture. She half-stands to get a better angle of it and then hands it to him.

“You’re a fucking genius,” Jaime says. “Take more.”

Brienne can’t help the flush of pleasure at his enthusiastic sign-off. She stands up this time, tilting his head this way and that to get all the proper angles before handing his phone back to him.

“So fucking cool,” he breathes, already cropping and uploading the pictures to his instagram account.

She watches the truly baffling flurry of hashtags he adds. She thinks she sees one that says #lovemybff and maybe #mybffisbetterthanurbff but it’s hard to say, really. She’s probably imagining it.

Brienne half-expects him to climb up on the couch next to her like he normally does. Instead, he waits until she sits back down and uses her thigh as a pillow for his head. She’s doing her letter best to ignore how it makes her stomach feel every time he does that, how much she wishes she wasn’t super aware of how close his face is to her...her...her crotch.

She’s so busy ignoring the awkward want that floods her veins that she misses the part where he falls asleep. She looks down to quote, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho,” with Jaime in unison as they always do, only to find him breathing deeply, his eyes closed and face soft and relaxed.

He’s beautiful. Painfully beautiful. Sometimes it’s easier to forget than other times, like when he’s being a sharp-tongued asshole or a dumbass goofball. It’s impossible to forget when he’s just lying there, all sharp features and soft lips.

Jaime’s her favorite person and it’s somehow the best and worst thing in her life. She gest to be near him, but she can never have him. But. He’s her best friend, her greatest defender, her most enthusiastic supporter. He’s shown her the kind of friendship she thought wasn’t made for the likes of her.

No matter how much she wants to know the gentle press of his lips, the heat of his mouth, the taste of his tongue, the feel of his firm body formed to hers, she values the weight of his friendship and warmth of his support too much to ever risk it.

Still, she can’t help but stroke his cheekbone with the back of her fingers. Her heart stops when he snuffles as if waking, but instead he presses lightly into her touch and settles in against her thigh even more, relaxing into a deeper sleep. She lets her hand linger just a little longer before slowly moving it away to rest on her own leg.

Chapter Text

The Lannister Family Christmas Party is the “event of the season” and Jaime dreads it every single year. It’s a black-tie soiree where Jaime is expected to schmooze. He’s been expected to schmooze since he was a kid.

It’s the worst.

--

“You won’t even have to dress up,” Jaime offers, not even needing to fake the needy expression on his face. If his best friend is at the party with him it may not be the worst part of Christmas. “Seriously, show up in your sweats.”

Brienne grimaces. “Yeah, because that won’t make me stand out even more,” she mumbles. More clearly, she says, “You know I hate parties. Especially your dad’s fancy parties. I’m not part of that world.”

“Neither am I,” Jaime protests.

She narrows her eyes at him. “You are literally part of that world.”

“On a technicality, sure, but I’m not like them.”

She sighs. “Please. I really don’t want to.”

He swallows the disappointment, trying not to choke on it. He knew, deep down, that Brienne wouldn’t agree to be his date for the thing, but still, he had some hope she would at least be his “date”. She usually responds to his pathos.

“That’s cool,” he says and shrugs. “I get it.”

She smiles lopsidedly, her eyes strangely...stormy.

“Buuuuuuuut,” he says, “would you at least come over early on Saturday and do that Christmas tree thing with my hair again?”

“For the party?” She sounds surprised.

“I want to see if I can make Tywin’s head actually explode for real.” He can’t prevent the wicked grin that tilts his mouth.

She shakes her head, her mouth drawn into a moue of disapproval.

“You don’t want me to be pretty?” Jaime asks, sticking out his lower lip in an exaggerated pout.

Brienne points her finger in his face. “Don’t do that.” She pushes his lower lip back to its normal resting place and it takes all of his strength not to kiss it.

Instead, he licks it.

She jerks her hand away and wipes her wet finger on her pants, scowling at him.

“Look, I like my hair that way,” Jaime says. “Yeah, it’ll piss my dad off, but it’ll make me happy. Please?”

“Okay,” Brienne relents. “But I’m coming early enough that I can definitely sneak out before anyone else gets there. You’ll just have to hairspray it to hell and back.”

Jaime gives her a quick hug, a wide grin, and says, “You’re the best.”

--

Brienne does show up early on Saturday. Way too early for Jaime’s liking, which is any time before noon. He gets it, the Christmas tree takes a while and sometimes Brienne has to undo strands and start over if something goes awry, but she shows up at ten-thirty which is like five a.m. in school-day time.

“Uuuuuuugh,” he says when he opens his bedroom door to her emphatic knocks.

“I’m glad to see you too,” she says dryly.

“It’s so early,” he whines. “How did you even get inside?”

“Saranella.”

Oh right, his dad’s housekeeper. Duh.

Brienne clears her throat and he re-focuses on her to find her eyes just darting back to his face from … lower.

“Put on some clothes and meet me in the cinema room,” she says, turns her back and walks away.

--

Jaime thinks about only pulling on his sweatpants, but he knows it’ll just annoy Brienne and make her blush in an angry way if he doesn’t put on a shirt, so he does that too because the last thing he wants to do is annoy her when she has his hair in her hands.

She’s already set-up on the couch, the many sprays and gels and elastics and barrettes in careful piles next to her.

It’s only then Jaime remembers his brilliant new plan.

“Shit,” he says. She startles, head snapping up to look at him. “I forgot--I’ll be right back.”

He runs to his room and grabs the string of lights, flicks on the battery pack to make sure it still works before dashing back into the room. By the time he gets back, Tyrion is sitting on one of the chairs, chattering away to Brienne about the latest book he’s reading. It could be anything from a fantasy book to a treatise on modern interpretations of the contrasting attitudes toward The Mother and The Crone. Or whatever it was he rambled to Jaime about last time.

She lifts a questioning eyebrow when Jaime tosses the lights on the other side of her.

“What’s this?” she asks, fingering the string.

“My best idea yet.”

She looks up at him warily.

“Do you think you can hide the battery pack inside the tree?”

“Battery pack?” she questions slowly.

“Turn it on,” he says, trying not to bounce with excitement.

She flicks the switch and the tiny, white lights twinkle.

“Jaime,” she says, almost warningly. But then she giggles and his heart almost explodes. “I’ll do my best.”

Jaime plops down between her legs. Being sandwiched by her goddess-like thighs isn’t the only reason he insists on the braiding (the thirty thousand followers and glowing comments don’t hurt), but it’s certainly a perk. Other perks include, but are not limited to: her fingernails on his scalp when she gathers the hair, the repetitive motions when she brushes the knots out, the soft noises she makes without realizing it as she concentrates.

Basically, the whole experience.

If he had been worried he was falling for his best friend before the shared project, now he’s one-hundred-and-one percent positive he’s head-over-heels, butt crazy in love with Brienne. It’s horrible and wonderful and painful and pleasurable. It’s all the things. All of them. And, at the very least, he’s crafted a way that they can be close without making it too weird.

“Can I stay?” Tyrion asks.

Jaime thinks about saying no. He really wants to spend as much time alone with Brienne as possible. But Tyrion is a cool kid and Jaime likes hanging out with him. Not to mention that Tyrion likes Brienne almost as much as Jaime does, and she seems to get a kick out of him.

“Sure,” Jaime says. “Just don’t distract Brienne too much. She has important work to do.”

Brienne glares at him.

He smiles.

Innocently.

He turns on the latest The Fast and the Furious while she starts brushing and relaxes into the soothing, steady motions. He lets her manipulate his head this way and that as she gathers it all back in a high ponytail and starts doing whatever braid it is that she does to create the Christmas tree shape. Jaime hasn’t bothered to actually study the different kinds of braids, he just knows that if he comes up with an idea, Brienne manages to make it happen because she’s Brienne and she’s the best.

The movie is so quiet it’s almost muted. He’s seen it before and Tyrion and Brienne seem to be enjoying their debate on their rankings of the best Fast and Furious moves to the worst.

He either drifts off at some point, or Brienne has just gotten that good over the past several weeks, because before he knows it, she pats his shoulder to let him know she’s done.

“Phone,” she says.

He unlocks it with his thumb and hands it over. She shifts around, her muscles flexing against him as she stands to take the picture. He takes a slow, deep breath, reminding himself to just chill.

Finally, she relaxes onto the couch again and hands him his phone.

His. Hair. Looks. Awesome.

It’s an even better tree than the first time and she’s already turned on the lights so that they twinkle. Woven through his hair the way they are, it makes his dark blonde hair glint like tinsel.

“Seven hells,” he says, “this is amazing. You’re amazing.”

Brienne goes even more still and he cranes his head back to look at her. She blinks as soon as his eyes meet hers and her expression relaxes.

“Okay,” she says, pushing him forward with her knee on his shoulder. “I gotta go.”

“Are you su--”

“Come on, Jaime,” she says, her face tightening. “We already talked about this.”

He sighs, but holds his tongue. “I’ll walk you out,” he offers and follows her through the ridiculously large house to the front foyer, Tyrion trailing behind.

She hovers just inside the door, tucking her hands into the sleeves of her hoodie, her mouth firming and relaxing like she has something to say. She seems to give up all at once, reaching down bump fists with Tyrion.

“Make sure your brother stays out of trouble tonight,” she tells Tyrion.

“Hey!” Jaime protests, but for the first time all day, Brienne looks at him smiling, her blue eyes twinkling like stars.

Shit.

“Seriously,” she says, looking Jaime directly in the eye. “Try not to piss your dad off too much.”

Jaime throws his hands out to the side. He has never...okay, he has always pissed his dad off too much.

Brienne gives him that look. She’s halfway out the door, him leaning against it, when Tyrion clears his throat.

Jaime looks back at him and he points up. Jaime follows the line of his finger to--oh.

Mistletoe.

When he turns his eyes to Brienne. Her face is flushed a splotchy red. They’re just trapped. He stares at her. She stares at him. Her blush intensifies. His gut-twisting need to protect her almost burns him.

She grimaces.

He hates everything.

“I’m just gonna--”

“No!” Tyrion says loud enough they both startle. “It’s the law!”

“It’s not the--”

“It’s a Christmas law,” he protests. For the only time in his life, sounding like an actual child. “Would you really deprive a kid the joy of Christmas tradition?”

Jaime realizes in a rush looking at Tyrion’s faux innocent face that his brother knows and his brother is manipulating him.

Tyrion,” Jaime hisses, screwing up his face in a way that clearly broadcasts cut it out or I will destroy you.

Somehow, this just makes Tyrion’s face transform into a positively cherubic imitation of innocence.

“It’s okay,” Brienne finally says. Jaime looks at her startled. She shrugs. “It’s--it’s just a kiss.”

The last word escapes as if she doesn’t quite want to say it.

“Are you sure?” Jaime asks, his heart pounding so hard his head feels like it might pop right off his neck.

“Yeah, of course, it’s no big deal.”

He thinks she says it a little too quickly, as awkwardly as she standing.

But...but if she’s okay with it. This may be the only chance Jaime gets to kiss her, to know what it feels like to have her lips pressed to his own, so he may as well make it good.

He steps closer to her, close enough their bodies barely brush against each other. It’s enough to raise goosebumps on every inch of his skin. He waits for a moment, but it doesn’t seem like Brienne is going to take control.

Jaime leans up onto the balls of his feet, his heels just off the ground and he kisses her.

He kisses her, his lips capturing her full lower-lip between them softly. He keeps his mouth gentle, but kisses her like he means it.

He does mean it.

And then it’s over.

Brienne jerks away from him, sucking in a breath. She looks at him wild-eyed, her mouth slack with...with something he doesn’t recognize.

“I uh--” she stutters, swallows and shifts from one foot to the other. “I should--” She licks her lips, only drawing his attention back to them. “I should go,” she finally says quietly.

“Yeah, sure,” he agrees, nodding. “Uh, thanks. For the hair. It’s great. My dad is gonna flip,” he says half-heartedly, the smile just as lackluster.

“You’re welcome,” she says awkwardly and then she pats his shoulder.

It is by far the weirdest thing she’s ever done to him.

“Bye, Tyrion,” she says and leans around Jaime to wave to Tyrion. “Bye, Jaime,” she says quietly, ducks her head and walks back down the gravel drive to her car.

Jaime shuts the door, feeling like something has shifted, his lips tingling as much as his fingers and toes.

Still, as soon as he has a moment to just feel, he turns and levels a glare at Tyrion that sends his brother running, his laugh echoing off the marble.

Jaime doesn’t know whether he hates his little brother or loves him for meddling.

Probably a bit of both.

He also doesn’t know if he’s happy or miserable that he knows the warmth and softness of Brienne’s full lips against his own now.

Probably a bit of both.

Chapter Text

Jaime watches her leave. Again.

He’s not blind; he recognizes the depth of pain only masked by the more obvious dread. Brienne doesn’t want to kill him any more than he--

He tries to imagine drawing a sword against Brienne in truth, tries to imagine cutting her down, the hurt in her eyes that would have nothing to do with a physical wound.

He tries to imagine laying down his sword and offering his neck to her, a small penance for the harm he’s done, a sacrifice so that she won’t have to break her oaths.

Neither feels real. Yet, he knows that it’s more likely than not it will come to that, if not today or tomorrow, then before the war for the Seven Kingdoms is decided. Brienne will never betray the Starks and he--he doesn’t know anymore. He hardly recognizes himself in the mirror.

Jaime wraps his hand around Widow’s Wail at his hip, the twin to Oathkeeper. He remembers their first duel; he wonders how different it would be with Valyrian.

If he was weak in body then, he’s equally weak in spirit now.

Weak and tired.

The weight seems insurmountable as she fades from view and he just can’t anymore.

His feet move before he makes the conscious choice to follow her. She’s not hard to keep track of, even amongst a group of soldiers. He doesn’t catch her until they’re on the outskirts of the encampment.

“Brienne!”

She whips around, her eyes wide with shock.

“I need to speak with you,” he says, strangely breathless. “Away from here, away from prying eyes and ears.”

She looks wary for a moment, searching his face for something before she says, “This way,” and heads for the copse of trees.

When they’re hidden from view she turns to face him. She makes to fold her arms, but stops short and squares her shoulders instead, right hand automatically clutching at Oathkeeper’s pommel. He waits for her to question him, but she doesn’t. She waits, looking as if she has no idea what he means by this meeting.

“I don’t want to fight you,” he blurts out.

“I don’t want to fight you either,” she says. “But I--”

“I can’t fight you,” he interrupts. “I won’t fight you.”

“What are you saying?” she asks him quietly, nearly a whisper. She glances away from him, as if to make sure there’s nothing or no one behind him, as if it’s a strange joke or trap.

It’s anything but.

“Take me with you.” His own face screws up in confusion. He knew--and yet, he didn’t know, what his purpose was when he came here, if it was to warn her or beg her for absolution.

“I don’t want you as a prisoner again,” she says, her face blank except for the tightness of her mouth.

“Not as a prisoner.” He steps closer to her, as close as they were in the tent if not more so.

“Then--”

“I want to fight by your side.”

“You want to support the Starks?” she asks, her voice suddenly sharp and disbelieving.

“I won’t serve the Starks,” he says.

Her mouth draws into a moue, her eyes soft and sad.

“But I will serve you,” he says firmly. “If you’ll have me.”

“Ser Jaime,” she says, shaking her head softly as if to clear a cloud of confusion, as if she’s misunderstood him no matter how plainly he spoke.

He has to make her believe him somehow.

He needs her to trust him.

He sinks to his knees and she freezes, her lips separating, a harsh gasping breath drawn between them as her chin quivers.

“I am yours, my lady,” he says, ignoring the way his voice trembles. “I will shield your back and give my life for yours, if need be. I swear it by the old gods and the new.”

She doesn’t answer him and he thinks he sees a sheen of tears in her eyes before her brows furrow in anger.

“This is not amusing,” she says harshly.

“If you won’t accept my fealty, say it plainly,” he says. “But this is not a jape. Let me swear my life to something good and honorable for once in my life. I have sworn countless vows; to a mad King I had to slay with my own sword; to another King who was more a drunken lecher than a leader; to a father with no loyalty beyond victory; to--,” he stutters to a stop. He knows if he can’t finish the list, that this is all for naught. If he can’t pledge himself fully… “And to a Queen who reminds me more of Aerys Targaryen with every passing day. You, though, you are different. You’re the most honest person I’ve ever known, and somehow good as well. It would be more than I deserve to serve you, but I pledge myself in earnest. Will you have me?”

Brienne stares at him, myriad expressions passing over her features before she takes that one step closer to him. Her hand grips Oathkeeper so firmly her knuckles turn snow white. He bows his head, making himself so vulnerable his soul cries out to defend himself, but he doesn’t.

“And I vow,” she says, her voice quavering. His heart stops in his chest before pounding a furious, near-deafening rhythm. “I vow that you shall always have a place by my hearth and meat and mead at my table.” She sounds as if her voice is scared to say the final words, thick and choked as she continues, “I pledge to ask no service of you that may bring you dishonor. I swear it by the old gods and the new.” She pauses and he waits for her command. Her command. When she touches his shoulder, he has to stop himself reaching for her. Finally, she says, “Arise.”

He does, not even noticing the creak of his knees.

He faces her once more, panic and relief warring within him. He wants to embrace her, hold her close, breathe in the tangle of horseflesh, sweat, and Brienne.

He doesn’t. That’s not who they are, and yet they can’t seem to step away from one another.

“You will be missed,” she murmurs. “If you come with me now.”

“Do you trust me?” he asks.

She nods instead of speaking, limpid eyes staring through his to the very core of him.

“You must allow me to take Riverrun as planned,” he says. “When you escape with the Blackfish, I will come with you. I will be missing, possibly captured, but when there is no ransom note or threat of harm to me, they may assume I was tossed into the Trident and drowned or succumbed to injury.” He smiles wryly and says, “Everyone knows I have only one hand now. If it comes to battle--” he shrugs.

“We’ll have to hide on the journey north,” she says. “Between you and the Blackfish, we’ll have a target on our backs. The longer we can go without someone recognizing you in our company, the better chance we have of staying alive.”

“Of course.” He reaches out, startling her when his hand cups her shoulder. “I am known as an Oathbreaker, but I hope you’ll believe me in spite of that.”

“I have for a long time,” she whispers. “I’ve told you as much.”

“So you have.” He lets his hand fall away. “I will meet you on the balustrade during the siege. We’ll make our escape then.”

“I will look for you.”

He steps finally away, feeling as if he’s left the comfort of a warm fire for a winter storm. “Thank you,” he says quietly. “For accepting my pledge.”

He doesn’t give her a chance to respond.

They have time enough to discuss on the road to Winterfell.

Chapter Text

Technically, Jaime Lannister’s first kiss was his twin sister when they were seven. It was Cersei’s idea. She wanted to know what the big deal was after watching too many mushy movies where the Princess is kissed by a Prince while fireworks went off and birds sang.

It wasn’t really anything. A firm, puckered peck on the lips. It was kind of like a hug, but not as warm, and a whole lot weirder.

Cersei pulled away and narrowed her eyes at Jaime, her delicate blonde eyebrows drawing together before, finally, she shrugged and said, “I don’t get it.”

Jaime shrugged too, because he usually did what Cersei did, and said, ”Me either.”

Cersei hmphed, frustrated at the lack of omniscience. “Wanna go swim?” she asked sourly.

Jaime did want to go swimming, but he would’ve anyway because Cersei being in a bad mood was almost as bad as his dad being in a bad mood.

Jaime’s first real kiss was Melara Heatherspoon. She was Cersei’s best friend when they were in sixth grade.

She was pretty in a way totally the opposite from Cersei. She was frail, gentle and quiet, with huge brown eyes and hair that just brushed her chin. Jaime’s hair was longer.

Not that he cared.

She found him kicking a soccer ball around the backyard one day.

She bit her lip, her pale cheeks stained red, and without a word of warning leaned in to place a hummingbird fast kiss to his lips.

He barely knew what was happening before she stammered, “Oh my god, bye,” and ran away.

Jaime didn’t think it would be very nice of him to make her talk about it if she hated it, or just didn’t feel anything about it (like him) and she never mentioned it either.

She started ‘dating’ one of the Redwyne guys a couple weeks later, so it must not have been very good for her either.

-

Jaime’s first real kiss was Catelyn Tully when he was fourteen.

Catelyn’s dad and Jaime’s dad were basically best frenemies and spent too many weird dinners being politely rude to each other.

He never figured out how that was even possible, and yet.

It was another fraught dinner followed by another uncomfortable ping-pong showdown in the game room of the gigantic estate while their fathers discussed ‘business’ when Catelyn’s younger sister Lysa suddenly announced, a terrifying look in her eyes, that she had an idea.

Her idea was Spin the Bottle.

Jaime realized it was up to him to point out there were only four of them and two sets of siblings in those four, so the odds of some heavy weirdness was pretty high.

Instead, Lysa cajoled them into Truth or Dare and it took her approximately fifteen seconds to dare Jaime to kiss her.

Cersei’s eyes glinted when it was her turn. She dared Jaime to kiss Catelyn.

Jaime knew, deep down, it was only to torture Lysa for the sin of being the worst, but it kind of felt like Cersei wanted to get him murdered. Either by Catelyn’s death ray glare or Lysa’s….Lysaness.

He made the mistake of hesitating only a fraction and Cersei’s smirk deepened. Jaime’s stomach turned.

French kiss,” Cersei said, her tone like a knife’s edge.

Lysa squawked.

Jaime expected Catelyn to refuse, but he saw the way she looked at Cersei and he knew that if nothing else, she wouldn’t give Cersei the satisfaction of seeing her soft underbelly.

If Catelyn Tully had a soft underbelly, which Jaime wasn’t at all sure she did.

He was worried, a bit, that somehow she would gut him like he was the fish.

She didn’t though. She did grip him so hard her fingernails cut into his skin, but she kissed him just as fiercely, the slide of her tongue between his lips made very uncomfortable things happen to his crotch region.

It was over just as suddenly. Catelyn shoved him away and scowled at Cersei, chin tipped up defiantly.

If nothing else, Catelyn earned Cersei’s respect that night.

--

Two years after that, Jaime managed to time it perfectly so that he and the Tully girls’ uncle, Brynden, ended up beneath the mistletoe at the same time.

It wasn’t precisely the most successful attempt at a kiss, but at least Jaime figured out he didn’t mind facial hair abrading his own skin.

Lysa didn’t try to kiss him after that, though. So he counted it as a victory overall.

--

Jaime’s first real real kiss happened with his best friend Addam Marbrand the night they won the baseball championship Jaime’s junior year of highschool.

They went back to Addam’s house after the game, high on adrenaline and giddy with victory.

Jaime didn’t know how it happened, exactly. They were definitely on the couch in Addam’s basement, video game controllers beside them, but too wired to even turn the TV on. One of them laughed first, a light bubbling sort of laugh and then somehow it just happened.

Jaime was on his back, Addam above him, their bodies molded together, Addam’s mouth devouring his and vice versa.

It was the most unexpected and best thing Jaime had ever felt.

He hadn’t thought about kissing his best friend, but it made sense. They were sloppy and aggressive and needy and hard, rutting against each other, everything hot and sweaty and so much.

So, of course, Jaime ruined it.

He realized all too quickly he was about to come in his pants so he shoved Addam off of him, leaving him to tumble to the floor and whack his arm against the wooden coffee table leg.

It was a testament to the state of his cock that Addam didn’t even tell Jaime to fuck off. He just lay there, sucking desperate breaths into his lungs, his hand pressed firmly to his cock as if begging it to just calm down.

--

Jaime and Addam never dated. Not really. It wasn’t a hand-holding sort of venture.

They were just best friends who did each other favors from time-to-time, in the sense that ‘doing a favor’ meant anything from ‘helping the other move’ and ‘having sex to everyone’s mutual delight’.

Jaime didn’t really date at all.

For a while, he worried that he might be incapable of falling in love with someone. Some terrible combination of losing his mother at an early age and having a father deeply disinterested in the trappings of humanity, including emotions.

But lots of therapy and a good amount of growing up gave him a sense of peace with the levels of intimacy in his life and made it easier for him to let people in.

Still, he was pretty ride-or-die for the bachelor lifestyle.

Until.

-

Jaime’s first really real kiss was when he was almost thirty-five years old.

Oh, he didn’t realize he hadn’t really kissed anyone yet.

Then he met Brienne Tarth and everything that led him to that point in time seemed … minuscule.

She was a temporary replacement for his physical therapist, filling in while they were on medical leave.

She challenged him.

She challenged the world.

She was too tall. Too strong. Too quiet. Too homely.

Too much.

He lashed out.

He was in pain; mad that his hand was gone; angry that someone new was seeing him fail; furious that other people got to be whole.

And she was there. Even when he finally pushed her to the point of being angry with him, cutting him down for being a cowardly son-of-a-bitch for taking his frustration out on people trying to help him just because he couldn’t take it out on the people that hurt him, even then, she showed up the next session just as ready to help him.

It didn’t make any sense that she was one person Jaime Lannister could never get out of his head. It was like she burrowed into him and snaked her way through his veins until she was part of the very air he breathed.

It didn’t matter how ridiculously melodramatic it made him sound, when he was near her it felt like he was on fire to the darkest depths of his soul.

She hated him. It was definitely his fault and he regretted it more with every second.

He groveled, she thought he was mocking.

He flirted, she thought he was mocking.

He complimented her, she thought he was mocking.

He was losing his goddamned mind.

Then it happened. He broke.

He broke and he surged forward during one of their many arguments and he kissed her.

She didn’t melt. No, that would be too easy for Brienne. She fought.

Not with fists, not to harm. She fought with her mouth and her grip in his hair and the force of her body slamming his into the wall.

Her teeth bit at his lips. He opened them and let her lick into his mouth and taste and taste and take from him as much as she wanted.

He was embarrassingly hard. He whimpered at a particularly brutal tug of his hair and couldn’t help but press his cock forward, against one of her muscular thighs. She froze and pulled away, eyes wide, mouth swollen and red, cheeks flushed with arousal.

“Really?” she asked, her tone flooded with disbelief and husky with desire.

“Fuck, yes,” he groaned. “For months.”

She spluttered. “Months?”

“I’m an asshole, ask anyone,” he said, his body arching toward hers, begging to feel the heat of her again. “But I’m usually a charming asshole.”

She snorted, but then she moved a further step back.

“We shouldn’t,” she said, but he could tell she wasn’t happy to have the excuse. “I’m your therapist.”

“Not forever,” he argued. “I’ll hire someone else.”

“You hate new people.”

“You were a new person.”

“Thank you for making my argument for me.”

“I never hated you,” he said firmly, looking her dead in the eye. “I hated this.” He lifted his right arm and waved the stump where his hand used to be. “I still hate this, but I —you -- you I want.”

Brienne licked her lips and he wanted to die.

If she turned him down-- He would get over it, eventually, but it would wreck him for a while.

The gods must have decided he’d done enough penance in his life, between his hand and the excruciating recovery, because she blinked and smiled and it was so bright and lovely it was like watching the sunrise over the Summer Sea.

“Find a new therapist,” she said. “Quickly.”

This time, she kissed him.

She really kissed him.

She kissed him in a way that made him feel like it was the first time and only time.

They broke for air.

He kissed her again and it still felt new, like something he’d never experienced.

He couldn’t wait to test it over and over again, because he was one hundred percent certain it would feel new every single time.

Chapter Text

Brienne’s brushing her wet hair when Jaime walks up behind her. His hands go to her waist as he places a lazy kiss against the base of her neck.

“Good morning,” he says, voice husky with sleep, chin stubble scratching the still shower-damp skin of her shoulder.

“Morning.” She shifts uncomfortably.

She’s not ignorant of what they look like together, but she tries not to think about it. It’s easy to ignore when all she can see is the way he looks at her. The heat and feeling in his eyes--there’s no denying that he wants her, that he cares for her.

Still, when she has to see herself next to him in the mirror -- the perfect lines of his face, how handsome he is even with his sleep-swollen eyes and pillow-creased cheek -- it becomes nearly overwhelming what an odd couple they make.

If Jaime feels the same, there’s no hint of it in his lazy smile. Nor in the firm press of his body to hers. He runs a fingertip across her chest along the line of the towel wrapped around her. He smirks at her when he tugs at the end of it, slowly loosening it until it slithers down her body, leaving her bare from the waist up, the cotton draping over both of their arms.

She can’t help the fact that she freezes at the sight of her pale, freckled skin, her small breasts and shapeless waist.

Jaime simply hums and snuggles into her more firmly, placing soft kisses along her shoulder, the barest hint of teeth firm on her muscles. When he lifts a hand to cup her breast, thumb teasing the tip of her nipple, she can’t help but stiffen and hunch her shoulders, looking away from the mirror as she reddens with a splotchy blush.

He stops too, his hands stilling on her, his mouth sliding away from her skin.

She hates that she ruined the moment, but it--it was all too much.

“Brienne?” he questions gently, his voice husky with sleep and arousal if the firm line pressed into her ass is any indication. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she says. She doesn’t sound convincing even to her own ears.

He palms her hip, massaging in a slow, soothing circle. “Tell me,” he says, his tone gentle enough that it’s a request, not a demand.

“I--” she freezes, unable to get the words out of her throat. They’ve been together for so many weeks now, she should be over this, the insecurity, the old feelings of shame born of years of being a tall, awkward, ugly teenager in high school.

Jaime, as ever, is patient, simply holding her while she searches for words that won’t make her feel worse, even more exposed than the sight of her bare body next to his.

“I don’t--” she clenches her jaw and grips the counter hard enough to hurt. “It’s embarrassing.”

“What’s embarrassing?” he asks. His lips are back, trailing open-mouthed kisses in a path to her jaw. “I’ve seen you in less.”

“That’s not--” Brienne sighs. She meets his eyes in the mirror again, they’re more concerned than she expected, like he’s trying to figure out how to tend a wound he can’t find. “I don’t look--”

The worst part of it all is that she’s not that insecure anymore, not like she was in her teens, or even in her early twenties. Her body is her body, it’s the only one she has, and she takes great care with it. She’s strong and healthy, capable. She’s learned to use her larger stature to intimidate in a courthouse, assert herself in a meeting with a client. She’s accepted who she is and the ways in which her body works for her. But none of that makes her prettier or softer, more curvaceous and feminine.

She doesn’t know what Jaime’s able to discern from her expression, but whatever it is, he whispers against the shell of her ear, “Can I tell you what I see?”

“You don’t have to--”

“I want to,” Jaime interrupts her, stemming the flow of excuses and deflection. “If you’ll allow me. If you want to know.”

She nods instead of answering, forcing herself not to look away from him again.

“You have the most perfect skin I’ve ever seen,” he begins, his hand sliding over her ribs and onto her stomach. “You’re strong, maybe stronger than I am. That’s a good thing,” he says when she can’t stop quick cringe of her brow. “When I touch you, I can see your muscles ripple beneath your skin.

“The way you flush tells me when you’re aroused.” His thumb brushes her nipple again. She closes her eyes and can’t help but suck a breath between her teeth, pressing into the warmth of his hand. “You turn pink from here,” he strokes her cheek with his knuckles, “to here,” he cups her other breast.

He circles both of her nipples and she can’t help but moan and soften to the touch, the familiar feeling of his hands on her body.

“I can kiss my way down your body,” he says, moving his fingertips from her breastbone, past her navel, and then over the thatch of hair between her thighs. She curls toward the touch without conscious thought. He holds for a moment and she realizes he’s waiting or her to look at him again. She slowly opens her eyes, and as she meets his gaze in the mirror, he dips his fingers between her thighs until he reaches the wet, ready heat of her core. “Then I get to taste you, and kiss and lick you, until your moans come from here,” he presses a fist to her diaphragm, “that’s how I know you’re close.”

He’s hard, but he’s not rubbing against her. He doesn’t take any pleasure for himself beyond the languid caresses over her body.

And oh, she wants.

She slides her feet apart and reaches behind her back for him. “Please,” she says, beyond caring if she sounds needy. She pushes at the waistband of his boxers. He groans and lets go of her to shove them down his legs, immediately moving one hand to her cunt again, circling her clit until she’s writhing and moaning.

“I want you,” she says, breath catching.

He thrusts reflexively and then leans his forehead on her shoulder, taking a couple of deep breaths before moving them into a better position, so that his cock can push into her in one long, perfect stroke.

She gasps, pressing her palms hard against the countertop to brace herself as they move together, the angle of his thrusts different and breathtaking from this position.

“Look at us,” he groans, clutching at her, holding her tightly.

She forces her eyes open. She’s flushed all over, sweat-damp, body moving frantically with Jaime. But he’s flushed, too, his face nearly pained with the amount of pleasure as he pushes into her again and again. It’s beautiful, somehow. Awkward and odd, not at all like a work of art, but breathtaking and wonderful in its humanity and raw desire.

He locks eyes with her one more time in the mirror, moans like a man dying, and buries his face into her neck, rubbing her clit in quick circles until she gasps and cries out, clenching around his cock.

She watches him as he continues to move within her, watches the flex of their muscles as she pushes back into his every thrust, and when he finally comes his face is screwed up in such a rictus of violent pain/pleasure it takes her breath away.

He breathes heavily, slowly relaxing and then snuggling happily against her, not minding their slick, heated skin. When his eyes open, caring and somehow still wanting, it’s almost impossible to remember a time when she wasn’t at ease in his embrace.

Chapter Text

Jaime’s not sure what he expected, but whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t a woman taller than him and uglier than any woman he’s ever seen. She does herself no favors by scowling and sneering through their first meeting.

“I will match what your client agreed to pay you for the piece,” she says emphatically, cheeks flushed ruddy in uneven splotches.

“Milady, with all due respect,” Jaime says, “my living is my art. It only takes one failure to ruin the tentative reputation I’ve built. Painting you may well be the difference between a hot meal and starvation. I rather prefer the meal.”

Her mouth firms into an unhappy, white line before she looks away from him, gazing out the window at the pale grey, December sunlight. Jaime can’t help but imagine the palette he might create: rich blues for the startling gaze that skewer him; pale yellows for the plainly styled hair; murky, deep greys for dour silk she’s wrapped in. He thinks he would focus on the play of her plush mouth and soft eyes and how they are are so at odds with the crooked line of her nose and stubborn chin.

She breathes out and turns her face to his once more. “Will you--” she pauses and swallows thickly. “Will you make certain that I look as unappealing as possible?”

Jaime has no idea how to respond to such a request. He’s been asked to erase pockmarks, make bosoms fuller, lips softer, waists smaller, but he’s never, not once, been asked to make someone look more unattractive.

“You could focus on the crook in my nose,” she suggests as if there’s nothing strange about her request. “My waist is rather thick and my jaw is quite masculine. If you focus--”

“Milady,” Jaime interrupts her. “I’m not certain I understand.”

“Your client is Ser Ronnet Connington, is it not?”

“Yes,” he says. “How did you know?”

She sighs and glances down at her hands where they’re folded in her lap. They’re incongruously delicate, pale and soft with elegant, long fingers.

“Our fathers informally agreed to betroth us when I was a child,” she explains quietly, not meekly, but almost silent all the same. “I was not a beautiful child, but I certainly was not what I am now.” She lifts her eyes to his and the open honesty in her expression nearly steals the breath from his lungs. “Even disregarding that fact, Ser Ronnet is not a good man. I have no wish to marry a man of his sort, nor do I wish for such a man to humiliate my father by appearing here and reacting as we both know he will at the sight of me.”

“You want me to make you seem so appalling that he will cry off without even stepping foot in Evenfall?”

“It’s not as if it would be a falsehood.” She shrugs, a decent show of indifference on her face. “In point of fact, I’m asking you to err on the side of honesty. Surely, you’re accustomed to indulging the vanity of others, this is merely the other side of the same coin.”

He is. He’s very well-accustomed to smudging away imperfections and exaggerating lovelier features.

Still, there is something about the quiet, blunt woman that makes him rankle at the idea of insulting both her being and his skills.

Her gaze sharpens when he fails to respond.

“It would be a service to me,” she says and then more firmly adds, “I will pay you more than Ser Ronnet in addition to his fee.”

It has been a lean year for Jaime, and while Ser Ronnet’s offer wasn’t insulting, it would also do little more than fill his stomach for the next few months. However, if Miss Tarth were to meet and exceed--it wouldn’t be life-changing, but it would certainly make his next several months comfortable.

He looks at her carefully. It wouldn’t take much exaggeration, she was correct in that respect. Her face is crudely shaped, as if painted with palette knife rather than brushes, and by an amateur at that. But there is more to her face than broad strokes; her cheeks are tinged the palest of pinks, her lips bitten a tempting shade of red, her eyes a dark enough blue so as to seem purple at times. All this to say nothing of the endless expanses of creamy, perfect skin above the neckline and below the capped sleeves of her gown.

He knows the exact shades of pink, white, and the barest hints of pale brown to recreate that complexion.

“I accept,” he says, suddenly hungry to paint this study in contradictions, the bizarre interplay of hard and soft, beautiful and ugly, shadow and light. He can’t tear his eyes away as he finds himself saying, “On one condition?”

She narrows her eyes at him but gestures for him to continue.

“You won’t view the piece until it’s complete.” At the surprise on her face, he explains, “Subjects always believe they know the result by seeing the parts. I do not appreciate the commentary before the piece is finished.”

“I accept.”

She searches his face for a moment and then the softest of smiles touches her lips and he feels it like a slap. The smug satisfaction is somehow charming on her face. Perhaps it’s that the expression doesn’t look etched into her features, or perhaps it’s simply that the smile and satisfaction make her eyes all but twinkle.

He looks forward to this, to slowly unwinding whatever it is that leaves him feeling that he’s only seeing her through a hazy glass. To discover who this odd woman is and to find a way to capture it on a canvas, if that’s even possible.

She rises to escort him out with a promise to be available every day from lunch until tea.

When they reach the door, some ridiculous instinct has him taking her hand and bowing to press his lips against it. She snatches her hand away, a blush stealing from her cheeks down her neck, and disappearing beneath the muslin of her dress. Her hand flutters and for a moment he thinks she may strike him.

Instead, she takes a large step away and says, “Until tomorrow.”

It is clearly a dismissal, and yet, he almost skips down the steps, unable to keep the smile from his face.

Chapter Text

Brienne is still a bit baffled at what’s happening between her, Addam, and Jaime. She’s even more confused by the way she can be so deeply in love with Jaime, just as strongly as before they brought Addam into the relationship, but that she has the capacity and ability to love Addam. She doesn’t love Addam as consumingly as she loves Jaime, not even in the same way as she loves Jaime.

She would feel guilty, except that Jaime seems to love her just as powerfully, and Addam seems to be in the same place.

It doesn’t quite make sense to her, but it works. She’s still waiting for the other foot to fall, but she’s pretty sure even if they part ways, if Addam finds His Person, nothing will really change between them except the sex.

Still, she doesn’t tell Sansa or Margaery about it. Addam moves in with her and Jaime, but they have a two-bedroom apartment and no one has so much as raised an eyebrow. King’s Landing is an expensive city and having roommates, especially ones you’re friends with, just makes sense.

It’s not a secret, not really; it’s something private and dear and safe.

--

Sansa and Margaery invite them all out for a pint. Well, they invite Jaime and Brienne and Addam tags along as the world’s least awkward fifth wheel. That he’s not really a fifth wheel may have something to do with it.

Sansa does raise an eyebrow when Brienne ends up wedged between Jaime and Addam on one side of the booth. It would certainly make more sense for him to pull up a chair at the end of the table and allow the couples to share the benches. Or, for him to sit beside the much smaller Sansa and Margaery. She doesn’t say anything, though, only smiles and asks about their week.

Everything is normal...until Brienne feels the warm weight of Addam’s palm on her thigh. High on her thigh. High on the inside of her thigh. His pinkie finger almost brushing her cunt. She swallows heavily and studiously refuses to look at him. She waits for him to do something more, to push her to slap his hand away, but he doesn’t. He just keeps his hand there, not quite teasing her.

“Brienne?” Margaery says loudly enough that Brienne blinks and focuses on Margaery’s face. Her eyebrows are furrowed. “Are you okay?”

“Of course!” Brienne says a bit too loudly. She coughs. “It’s just hot in here.”

Addam snorts.

Margaery purses her lips and levels Brienne with a disbelieving look.

Before anyone has a chance to change the subject, Brienne feels a hand on her other thigh. She feels Jaime tangle his fingers with Addam’s. They both just brush against the crotch of her jeans and she knows she sucks in a breath.

Sansa’s telling some story about her boss, Petyr Baelish, being a real Grade A creep, and Brienne tries to concentrate. But Addam and Jaime have started to massage her thighs, moving higher until their ever movement presses against her. She’s embarrassingly wet in no time at all.

“So, I reported him to HR,” Sansa says. “I don’t think it’ll go anywhere, so I’ve been looking for a new job, but there’s just nothing. Is there anything at your company?”

Her eyes are leveled at Brienne.

“Uh,” she says, her voice choked and husky. “I can check? I’m not sure.”

“There are ten people at your company and you’re not sure?”

Brienne stares, her brain completely occupied with trying not to whimper as her stomach tenses with pleasure.

“I have to go to the restroom,” she says quickly, pushing at Addam and nearly running to the hallway. She bolts the door behind her and sinks against it, breathing heavily and burying her face in her hands.

It feels like she’s been in there for ten seconds at most when someone taps on the door. She bangs her head on the door, still wound up, still tense and craving, but she opens the door anyway, only to find Jaime on the other side.

She recognizes the look on his face as he slides past her into the bathroom.

He kisses her hungrily, licking into her mouth immediately. He pulls her to him, his cock hard against her thigh as he turns them and presses her against the door again.

“I’m not having sex in a public bathroom,” she pants. She may be so turned on she wants to explode, but she hasn’t taken complete leave of her senses.

He looks at her, an expression of such desperation she nearly gives in. Instead, she kisses him hard enough that his teeth cut into her lip. “Take me home. Tell Sansa and Margaery I’m not feeling well.”

“I’ll text Addam,” he says and kisses her again, moaning and molding their bodies together.

--

They barely make it home. The cab ride so fraught, her cunt so wet, she’s positive the driver can smell the scent of sex in the air, can feel the coil of arousal in their bellies.

Jaime tangles his fingers with hers as he leads them up the stairs. His fingers fumble as he unlocks the door. Addam shuts the door behind them loud enough that it echoes down the hallway, and then yanks her back until they’re pressed together from shoulder to hips. She can feel him hard against her ass. He kisses her neck, his teeth grazing the sensitive flesh as he sucks at the place where her pulse thumps heavily.

“Oh, gods,” she gasps, writhing as Jaime unbuttons and unzips her jeans, slipping his hand into her underwear.

He groans when his fingers slide against her cunt, feeling how slick she is already.

She actually feels weak in the knees as Jaime kisses her, his tongue sliding along her own and coaxing it to follow his back to his mouth. He sucks and she can’t take it anymore. She tears away from him with a whimper. “Bed,” she says, breathless and needy.

They stumble their way through the apartment, making their way to Jaime and Brienne’s room and their king-sized bed.

They manage to discard clothing the entire way and by the time they make it, their shirts are long gone, her bra somewhere in the hallway, Jaime’s jeans with it. He turns her in his arms, so she can unbutton and unzip Addam’s jeans, shoving his underwear down with them as Jaime does the same to her.

Addam’s hands go to her breasts, stroking her nipples to hard peaks as Jaime’s hand cups cunt, pushing his fingers into her, his palm set against her clit.

It’s all just so impossibly good and warm. Jaime tugs her with him to the bed, maneuvering her to lie down her knees on the edge, legs spread so that he can sink to the ground between them and kiss his way to the apex of her thighs. He buries his face against her, his tongue slipping inside her. She swears she can feel the muffled sounds of pleasure that come from his throat.

Addam lies next to her, tangling their fingers together as his other hand strokes his cock. He leans in to kiss her from time to time and squeezes her hand back as she comes with a cry.

Jaime disappears long enough to roll on a condom and then he slides up her body and sinks into her with a sigh. He moves languidly, a rolling rhythm that teases her closer to her peak again instead of insisting upon it.

“Come here,” she murmurs to Addam, and he slides closer. Her hand joins his, wrapping around his cock. He hisses a breath through his teeth and presses his forehead to her temple, grunting softly as she strokes him in the practiced rhythm she knows makes him lose all sense, rutting into her grip frantically, desperately.

He comes before Jaime, curling around her as he shudders with pleasure. She turns her face to his, kissing him gently, nipping at his lips and sighing happily at the way he returns the kiss tenderly.

Jaime fucks into her harder, faster, his movements stuttering and uneven just before he comes with an almost animal, aching moan. She wraps her legs around his, holding him to her, unwilling to let go of the heavy weight of him against her.

Eventually, Jaime shifts, rolling onto his side so that he can curl his back against Addam. He doesn’t hesitate, wrapping his arm around Jaime’s stomach. They’ll have to move before too long and clean themselves, but for now Brienne is too lax with pleasure to bother. She turns her back to Jaime and slides closer. Jaime sighs happily, sandwiched between them, and Addam reaches close enough that Brienne can set her hand over his where it rests on her hip.

Chapter Text

Jaime arrives precisely on time the next day, canvas and paints in hand. Miss Tarth guides him into a drawing room, gossamer curtains drawn so that the perfect afternoon sun bursts through the window.

“Will this be adequate lighting?” she asks him briskly. “It does face west, if that makes a difference. I’m afraid our east-facing rooms don’t have the same abundance of windows.”

Jaime moves in a semi-circle, pretending to gauge the sunlight, but paying more mind to the statue of a woman standing board-straight in the center of the room.

“This should do well,” he says.

“Where would you like me?”

He looks at her face to find her glaring at him, nearly indignant already, as if his presumption in following through on a contract is of the utmost offense.

“There,” he points to the divan, “I need the light to hit you as directly as possible.”

She sits on the bench stiffly, spine straight and hands clasped neatly in her lap. He looks at her critically, judging the worst angle for her to sit at, after all, he is a man of his word. In response, her chin lifts and her nostrils flare.

“Turn your face to the wall,” he says. She faces her left. “Now the other way,” he says. He walks over to her. He lifts his hand and lets it hover near her face, “May I?”

She looks at him, something of a surprise in her gaze before she shutters her expression and nods sharply. She flinches at the first touch of his fingers on her jaw as he gently turns her head to the precise angle that will show the crook of her nose, the jut of her chin, and unstylishly full mouth. He hums as continues to tilt her face to the perfect place, finally, with one tip to her chin, he’s satisfied.

He backs away slowly and when she moves as if to look at him, he all but shouts, “Stay.”

Her jaw tightens, an angry flush blossoming on her cheeks, but she doesn’t move.

He keeps an eye on her as he sets up; the canvas on an easel, his palette laden with white, grey, purple and pink for the first day. First, though, he chooses a charcoal to sketch out the vague shapes of her form, how she’ll be placed on the canvas. It’s no longer strange the way a human form becomes a series of curves and angles, less a person and more an object of study.

Somehow, though, she becomes more real the longer he studies her. She’s no longer simply an eyesore of a woman, she’s a collection of circles and lines and curves at odd angles. There’s a lack of symmetry to her features that should rankle him. Instead, it only makes him want to look longer and more carefully, as if trying to decipher why he doesn’t want to look away.

He thinks, from this angle, he needn’t exaggerate any of her features. It’s no falsehood that she is no beauty, not even a woman that would be labeled as handsome by the kinder parts of society. Her nose is at least twice-broken, her lips nearly vulgarly plump. Which is to speak nothing of her jaw, broader and squarer than Jaime’s own, her chin blunt and square.

The Gods were not kind to her, except in the case of her eyes. He wonders if she angers when people compliment them. They must be the only thing for which she hears a kind word as regards her appearance. Even the expanses of creamy skin are marred by a dusting of freckles.

Still, as he begins to shade the rough shapes into something more resembling a person, defining where the light should highlight, where the shadows are deepest, he finds himself transfixed by the play of muscle beneath that milky complexion.

It’s as he’s shadowing the shape of her arms that he realizes -- she isn’t shaped like a woman that plays at the piano or stitches neat silk flowers, she’s shaped like a man who is more accustomed to an epee in his hand than dueling pistol.

He must stop without even realizing it; suddenly he is pinned in place with her sharp stare.

“Have you finished already?” she asks, a nearly judgmental tone to the question.

He swallows and resists the urge to quickly swirl a brush through the paints until he achieves something even marginally near the shocking color of her eyes. He wants to create something from that color; a sea roiling angrily, fighting against the boundaries of the world, demanding more space, the right to consume all it hungers for.

“Sir?”

Her question is like a slap, startling him out of his reverie. “No, milady.” He looks away and clears his throat, gathering his thoughts before looking back up. “Please try to resume the position I placed you in.”

She narrows her eyes briefly but turns her face away from him. It’s like he can finally breathe deeply again once she’s no longer looking at him.

Time passes more quickly after that, hours later the afternoon will seem murky, lost in the haze of concentration on the very beginnings of a piece and learning the subject well enough to capture them. When the maid finally interrupts to alert Miss Tarth that tea will soon be prepared, Jaime blinks as if he’s coming awake after a long nap.

“Thank you, Joy.”

The maid bobs a curtsy and quietly exits.

Miss Tarth stands, rising so fluidly it’s fascinating. She’s broad like a man, and just as strong judging by the strength of her arms, and yet she moves as gracefully as any woman. It unsettles him somewhere deep inside, a quiet quiver that’s naught more than the ripple of an acorn dropped in a pond, but it’s there.

“I will escort you out, Mr. Lannister.”

“No need, Miss Tarth.” He smiles at her, the easy, languorous charm descending like a mask. “I know my way.”

He steps close enough to take her hand once more, the flesh cool against his warm palm. He bows quickly to place a kiss softly against her knuckles, his mouth perhaps a bit more open that entirely proper.

Miss Tarth doesn’t snatch her hand away this time, but she does blush the prettiest of delicate rose pinks on the apples of her cheeks.

“Until tomorrow,” he says quietly, huskily, and departs before she responds.

Chapter Text

It’s not that Jaime regrets the mistletoe kiss. In his defense, it wasn’t his fault. It was Christmas cheer’s and Tyrion’s fault. Still, that next Monday at school, Brienne looks at him as if she’s almost scared of what he’s going to do and no matter how hard he tries to act normal, he ends up acting like a fucking weirdo desperate to be normal.

He didn’t mean it.

Okay.

He did mean it. But he didn’t mean for her to know he meant it. And maybe she doesn’t realize he meant it and she feels awkward. Or worst maybe she thinks he meant it but she doesn’t want to kiss him and now she’s freaked out that he has like feelings for her.

Which he does.

He doesn’t really know when it happened, either. At first, she was just the coolest bro he’d ever had. She likes all the same movies and shows; she’s good at sports; she gets him. She doesn’t mind if he cries at a movie (everyone cries at Fast and Furious 7. Everyone), or if he wants to share a blanket. She lets him fall asleep on her shoulder and doesn’t wake him up.

She’s not like cute or pretty or whatever girls like his sister and Melara are. But somehow, out of fucking nowhere, he realized she is hot. Like, please, ma’am, pin me down and make me cry for mercy and then kiss me until I can’t get a deep breath hot.

But that was two years ago and he’s spent the better part of Junior and Senior year pining horribly for his best friend.

Only to ruin the best thing in his life by kissing her like a godsdamned idiot.

--

“Hey,” Jaime says, catching her before History class starts. “Can you come over this weekend?”

Brienne looks at him, stares, really, before blinking slowly and saying, “Um, I don’t know. I might have homework?”

“Oh.” Jaime knows a rejection when he hears it. He’s not an idiot. “We could, uh, do it together?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Brienne says dismissively. “Maybe.”

Ouch.

--

Jaime’s lying miserably on the couch in the media room, staring at the ceiling and sighing ever five minutes when the weight of his fuckuppery hits him anew.

He doesn’t hear Tyrion walk in and nearly jumps out of his skin when Tyrion’s face suddenly appears above his own. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing,” Jaime says flatly.

Tyrion narrows his eyes. He’s only ten, but somehow he manages to look at Jaime like he sees his soul.

It’s unsettling.

“Is it Brienne?”

“Not everything is about Brienne,” Jaime says automatically, too vehemently.

Tyrion lifts an all-knowing eyebrow.

Again, he’s ten. It’s not fair that Jaime is saddled with one sibling who is too beautiful and calculating for comfort and one sibling who is preternaturally observant about the intricacies of human relationships.

“I won’t tell her anything.”

“Oh?” Jaime asks sharply, too sharply considering it’s Tyrion. “Excuse me if I don’t trust you after the mistletoe incident.”

Tyrion rolls his eyes and sighs in such a long-suffering way it almost makes Jaime laugh. Almost.

“That wasn’t me telling on anyone,” he says. “I just wanted to uphold the Christmas traditions that shape our society.”

“Bullshit.” Jaime huffs and rolls onto his side to face Tyrion. “I’m not talking to my ten-year-old brother about my love life.”

“Or lack thereof?”

Jaime glares at him.

Tyrion stares.

And stares.

And stares.

“Fine,” Jaime relents. “She’s been acting weird since I kissed her. I think she thinks I have a crush on her and she’s not into it. Or she thinks I didn’t mean it but it made her feel weird.”

“Or maybe she likes you but she thinks you only see her as a friend and kissing you made her have feelings.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Why?”

“Because…” Jaime trails off, trying to think of the best excuse, but everything he comes up with could be applied to her, too and he definitely has feelings for her. So, maybe…

“Yeah,” Tyrion says smugly. “That’s what I meant. You’re such an idiot.”

“You try falling for your best friend,” Jaime grumbles. “It’s not easy to risk losing your favorite person because of your overwhelming urge to makeout with her.”

“Maybe she’d want to makeout with you more if you moped less.”

Jaime reaches for one of the throw pillows and wallops Tyrion with it.

--

Jaime texts Brienne later that day from his locked bedroom. He just cannot deal with either of his siblings interrupting him at this Vital Moment.

J: Hey i wanna do a marvel moviethon

J: Wanna come over on sat

He waits. And he waits. And then the three dots that say Brienne is responding appear and he’s maybe going to vomit up his heart. But then they disappear again and he wants to roll under his bed and never come back out.

Then the three dots reappear.

B: Sure

Jaime waits, but nothing else comes through. So, apparently, they’re down to one word replies.

Still, he does text back Score and a thumbs-up emoji.

He’s just gotta figure out how to figure out if Brienne likes him back without revealing too much and ruining everything.

So.

He probably needs help.

And there’s only one person Jaime knows that has any skills with people.

TYRION!”

 

Chapter Text

More than anything, Brienne had dreaded the man’s eyes upon her.

People do not look at Brienne. People see her flaws and titter, or they glance and then avoid looking directly at her.

But this man, this artist, stares at her with nothing more than objective appraisal in his expression. It’s a very queer feeling. The first day had been difficult, waiting on tenterhooks for the biting comment on her appearance, some flaw that he picked from the sea of possibilities.

Yet, he had done nothing but peer at her and sketch and when he’d left, pressed a nearly scandalous open mouth kiss to her knuckles. It didn’t do to dwell upon the fact that he was the first man to treat her as if she were some delicate maiden.

It’s now been a sennight and he still comes every day after lunch, he waits for her to seat herself in the appropriate position and then works for the arduous three hours until tea. He bows and kisses her hand on as he leaves every day, though, never quite as intimately as the first day.

They don’t speak. She is loath to break his concentration, lest the entire project take even longer.

Her face is mostly turned away from him, thankfully. She’s not sure she could bear to look at his face day after day for hours. He is, unfortunately, the most handsome man she’s ever seen. He has the bearing and looks of a god. His hair falls in gentle golden waves, perhaps too long to be stylish, but soft enough she finds she wants to touch and run her fingers through it. His eyes are the deep, shining green of an emerald; his skin nearly as golden as his hair; his fingertips stained with paint and charcoal.

That she dreams about the gentle pressure of his fingers on her jaw from that very first day is not worth considering in the daylight.

--

“I need to begin your body today,” he says, still standing when she’s positioned herself on the pink velvet of the divan.

She blushes a shade of red that she knows will stain her chest as if she has spilled wine down her front.

There’s an expression on his face that she can’t read, doesn’t want to read. He doesn’t speak to what that expression is, instead, he merely says, “Can you extend your feet further toward the door. It will show how tall you are.”

She doesn’t scowl. She asked for him to make her look her worst, even worse than she may actually be, so it shouldn’t bother her that he wants to emphasize her freakish height. She does as he asks and looks away as she feels his gaze travel from her toes to her face.

“And your arm--”

He touches her. His fingers a soft warm pressure against the cool skin of her elbow as he lightly grips and pulls the arm forward.

She sucks a shocked breath into her lungs when his fingertips trail from her elbow to her wrist. Her heart beats a frantic rhythm in her chest. It’s pathetic to be so affected by the simplest of touches from a man who has little more interest in her than he would any inanimate object.

She may as well be a particularly large vase.

Even so, reminding herself of these facts does nothing to calm her throbbing pulse. He guides her hand by her wrist to rest near her right thigh. She thanks the old gods and the new that he does not touch her leg, she’s not sure she would retain her dignity.

He lets go and her hand falls delicately to the dove grey silk of her dress.

“Can you clench your fist for me?” he asks softly.

Startled by the unexpected question, she turns her head only to find his face too near her own. She is grateful that at least at first, his eyes are trained on her upper-arm. He must sense her gaze, however, because he looks up.

They’re so near that should anyone see them, it would seem terribly scandalous.

Like… well, like lovers interrupted.

“I’m sorry?” she whispers, hoping he will ignore her shaking voice.

“As if you mean to punch someone.” And then, light as a feather, he touches the curve of muscle just below her sleeve. Goosebumps flood every inch of her skin.

She looks down at her hand, desperate to break the strange tension between them and clenches her fist, thinking how satisfying it would be to hit something until she could forget the pleasure of his touch. Still, she can’t quite prevent the gasp when he traces the bulge of the tense muscle. She whips her head to stare at him, but he seems transfixed by her arm.

It’s odd. There isn’t the slightest amount of disgust on his features. Brienne has seen such an expression flung her way only too often, she would recognize it if it were there. No, he simply seems to be looking. Taking her in as no one has ever done.

After a moment that feels suspended in time, he lits his eyes once more catching her own. “Perfect,” he says, a satisfied tilt to his mouth as he moves his hand away and retreats to his canvas.

“You can relax your hand, but please don’t move your arm,” he says, as he retrieves his supplies. “I will need you to make a fist when I begin shading your arm, but that will be a while yet.”

She is never more grateful than when he takes his seat and begins sketching, his stare more focused on his canvas than on her and her own can be turned toward the far wall or window once more.

Chapter Text

The thing about being friends with Jaime is that he doesn’t always understand that he’s beautiful. He’s so beautiful he doesn’t even have to be aware that he is beautiful.

So he doesn’t know what it’s like to be his ugly friend. People don’t bully her all that openly, probably because everyone still remembers when he broke Ron Connington’s nose as payback for being mean to her.

She doesn’t blame him. He literally can’t understand how they look together. She looks like a charity case. Like the stray Jaime found in his backyard and decided to keep.

Jaime’s pretty oblivious in general. She’s pretty sure he doesn’t even know he’s flirting. Although, she’s not sure it’s technically flirting if the person doing it isn’t doing it on purpose. Still, he doesn’t realize that when he falls asleep on her thighs or snuggles her or shares a blanket or kisses her that it’s not the same for her as it is for him. He can do these things and it won’t hurt him and she knows he doesn’t mean to hurt her but that doesn’t stop the ache in her chest.

She misses him, though, not only in a pining sort of way but because he is her best friend. The best friend she’s ever had.

She has two options: 1) she loses him as a friend because of her stupid feelings or; 2) she pushes down all those awful feelings the kiss brought painfully to the surface and goes back to being his friend.

One isn’t actually an option, so when he texts to ask her to come to another movie night, she has no choice but to say yes.

--

Sadly, it’s maybe even more awkward in person. Jaime’s just being so weird. Like he’s scared to touch her or even really talk to her.

She half expects him to yell for Tyrion.

He doesn’t. Instead, he just says, “Hey!”

It’s way too bright, way too enthusiastic, and it makes her want to cry.

“Hey,” she says back and steps through the door when he opens it wide. She wishes she had her backpack to wrap her hands around.

“I was gonna order pizza?”

“Oh, cool. Pizza’s good.”

“Yeah, for sure. For sure.”

She may just go to the bathroom and pray for an asteroid.

--

By the time they make it to the media room with two large pizzas and a two-liter of soda, she’s considering punching him in the face just to break some tension. Maybe he’ll punch her back and they can fight and it’ll just stop hurting so much in her heart instead of her body.

They make it through Iron Man and the first (and awful) The Incredible Hulk barely talking, except to talk shit about the Hulk movie. But Jaime hesitates before pressing play on Iron Man 2.

He turns to look at her. Nothing has ever made her as queasy as the open fear in his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t -- I’m sorry, really.”

Brienne doesn’t cry. But the confirmation that he really didn’t mean it is a vice around her heart and stomach. She knew he didn’t, but that doesn’t mean she wanted to hear that he didn’t.

She manages to say, “It’s cool. I didn’t…”

His face does something weird then, like he’s trying not to make some sort of expression, and she doesn’t want to know what it was because it can’t be anything good.

“You don’t have any reason to be sorry. We’re cool.”

He stares at her for too long and way too seriously for Jaime. Instead of saying anything, he just hits play on the movie.

He fiddles with the remote and the hole in his sweats for the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Then he takes a really deep breath, turns toward her, and says, “Will you--”

He pauses and she can see his jaw clench as he swallows.

“Will you braid my hair?”

There’s something so pathetic and needy about the way he says it. It settles low in her stomach, spreading warmth through her chest all the way to her cheeks.

“Of course,” she says almost absently.

He grins, wide and shining even if the look in his eyes is still off somehow.

She opens her legs for him to settle between them. He does so eagerly, squirming like an excited dog before settling.

He sighs happily when she starts finger-combing his hair, his neck tilting a little bit as he presses into her touch. It’s not until she starts sectioning his hair to begin the braids that she realizes she doesn’t have any elastics, gel or spray, but...but she’s just not willing to let him go.

The weight of him, warm and solid between her thighs, is so familiar, the silk of his hair between her fingers so comforting…

It’s not exactly enough, but it’s more than she would ever expect to have in reality.

And when he sighs, a pleased little noise escaping his throat when she starts the first French braid, she thinks it may be enough eventually.

Chapter Text

He tries Cersei first. She’s dated plenty of guys.

“Hey,” he says on the drive home from school three weeks after he kissed Brienne. “You’ve dated a few people.”

“Is this about Brienne?”

“No!”

Cersei takes her eyes off the road only long enough to give him a don’t-even-try-it look.

“Fine.” Jaime slouches in his seat. Siblings are the worst. “I just have no idea what I’m doing. No one has even asked me out, not since Melara in freshman year.”

“Yeah, well, they’re all pretty sure you’re tragically in love with Addam.”

Jaime gawps at her. “Why would I be in love with Addam?”

“Because, Jaime,” Cersei says. The you fucking idiot is implied. “You’re tragically single, you have two friends, and Brienne is the ugliest girl at school.”

“Fuck you,” Jaime replies automatically.

“You can defend her all you want, but that doesn’t make it less true.”

“Brienne isn’t ugly,” Jaime says vehemently, almost confused at the certain way Cersei says she is, like it’s objective fact. “She’s not pretty. But she’s…just so...so...”

“You’re pathetic.”

“Why am I pathetic?”

“Because, you fucking idiot, she would be thrilled if you asked her out.”

Jaime feels like his heart might split in half, warring between hope and gut-wrenching fear. “But what if she isn’t and I lose my best friend?”

“You’re popular, beautiful, and rich,” Cersei says bluntly. “She would have to be an idiot too if she turned you down.”

“I don’t want her to--” Jaime pauses, his face flushing.

He’s going to expose the softest part of his underbelly to his ruthless sister, but he needs her in these moments. He needs her to be cold where he burns too hot, calm when he’s freaking out, and hard where he’s softest. No one would believe him if he told them, but Cersei has always been weirdly protective of Jaime. She’s not exactly nice to him. But she would absolutely, maybe literally, eviscerate anyone who dared to harm him.

“I don’t want her to be grateful, Cers,” he murmurs, looking out the window, away from his sister’s assessing glances. “I want her to lo--like me too.”

Cersei sighs, some bizarre combination of sympathetic and pitying. “No one can do this for you. You’re going to have to be a brave little toaster all by yourself.”

The thing is, Jaime knows she’s right. The other thing is, he’s not Cersei and he just can’t.

--

Sometimes, Addam is Jaime’s favorite person. He’s not too smart like Tyrion or too cunning like Cersei or too kind like Brienne. Addam is kind of like Jaime, except he has red hair and he’s not a disaster. Which is helpful because he actually gives Jaime hope that maybe, someday, Jaime can be less of a disaster.

As it is, Jaime’s never had to ask Addam for advice because it’s not like Addam is older and wiser than Jaime. He’s just less of an emotional on-fire garbage can. He’s kind of well-adjusted somehow.

“Hey,” Jaime says, totally not awkwardly, while they’re playing Fortnite. “So you know how you’ve been dating Dacey for a while?”

“Is this about Brienne?”

Jaime is agape.

“Does everyone fucking know?”

Addam shrugs. “Anyone who has eyes and knows you at all, yeah.”

Jaime is honestly just furious now. It’s not fair that the one person that seems not to know that he’s madly in love with Brienne is Brienne.

“I hate this.” Jaime groans. He flings himself backwards, lying down and staring at the ceiling, his controller long forgotten.

“Ugh.” Addam pauses the game. “You could, you know, tell her.”

Jaime pushes himself up on his elbows to glare at Addam.

“Thanks, asshole,” Jaime says. “I never would have thought of that myself.”

“I mean, it kind of seems like you haven’t.”

“I think about it all the time!”

Jaime is well aware of how melodramatic he seems, but it’s not his fault that no one understands how careful he has to be. Brienne is…she’s the best, but the rest of the world sucks. She still looks at him sometimes like his friendship is going to be some extremely long con. It hurts him, but it hurts him more to know there’s a reason she has trust issues. If he tells her out of nowhere that he’s been in love with her for years, she may never speak to him again.

That’s what he’s up against and he knows it.

“She barely trusts that I’m her friend,” Jaime finally says. “If I try to date her, she’ll never believe me. Or even if she does, she may not feel that way about me. She’s--”

“Super into you,” Addam interrupts. “She’s super into you.”

There goes that godsdamned hope again. “But--”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Addam says, grabs Jaime’s controller and throws it at him. “Either do it or don’t do it. There’s no secret answer. You ask her out. She says yes or she says no. That’s how this works.”

Jaime’s stomach feels sour just thinking about confessing how badly he wants to be with her.

Addam rolls his eyes. “You’re hopeless. No one’s gonna do it for you, especially not Brienne. Now stop moping and pick up the controller.”

Jaime does and gives it a few minutes before he finally says, “Thanks, man.”

 

Chapter Text

Jaime arrives on time only to be told by Miss Tarth’s maid, Joy, that she’s still out. He hasn’t known her long, but he’s fairly certain Miss Tarth is not the sort to be late to anything. He tries to take comfort in the fact that Joy doesn’t seem concerned, though why he should feel anything in particular about her location is beyond his comprehension.

“You may wait in the parlor, Mister Hill,” Joy says, a soft comely smile on her face.

Jaime takes the opportunity to set-up his easel and prepare the paints he’ll need for today’s session: creams and pinks and the smallest amount of pale brown, meant to convey the spray of freckles down her arms. He’s nearly finished when the door opens. He glances up, expecting to see Joy with offers of refreshments. Instead, there is a tall, broad figure, drenched from head to toe, clad in a dress that was likely a pale blue when dry.

It is not dry.

“Miss Tarth?” Jaime asks.

It’s an inane question. The woman standing in the door is clearly Miss Tarth. However, the thin muslin of her dress is plastered to her body and--and translucent enough so that he can see exactly how long her legs are, the precise slight curve of her hip, the small swell of her breasts. She looks up from removing her gloves in shock.

Her already thin, straw-colored hair is clumped into wet strings around her face. Her features are helped none by being drained of color from the cold. Her too-large mouth, still dark pink, looks even more incorrect on her face.

She drops her gloves.

“Mr. Hill,” she stutters.

She seems frozen in place, staring at him with eyes like a startled fawn. Except instead of a black void, hers are a fathomless blue, and unlike her mouth, they’re only made more hypnotic by being so starkly framed with rain-damp lashes and milky skin.

Her hands pull at her dress where it clings to her legs, as if playing at modesty when there’s none to be found. His eyes trail down her, his mind immediately wondering at the pastel colors he could swirl to become her. A siren washed upon the land, not beautiful, but enticing all the same.

His mouth goes dry, his tongue a heavy weight when his gaze reaches her breasts, her nipples hardened against the soaked pale bodice of her dress. She gasps and makes as if to cross her arms over her chest as she stutters, “Please, excuse me.”

--

He considers leaving. Simply packing up and disappearing. If only so he can retreat to the room he’s let at the disrepute lodging house several streets away. That he will ruin his meagre supplies hardly seems important when he can’t seem to clear the sight of Brienne’s pert nipples from his mind. He wonders if they’re a pink pale enough that it’s barely noticeable until aroused or if they’re the same dark pink of her lips.

He wonders what noises she would make if he were to scrape his teeth across them.

The first blush of arousal stirs in his gut, warming him and warning him in near equal measure.

It’s only the inarguable truth that he desperately needs the commission from this piece that keeps him for dashing back to his rooms and stroking his cock until the image of Miss Tarth’s body is washed from his mind.

Still, he’s somewhat surprised when Miss Tarth reappears, clad once again in a dour grey that makes her look as if she’s in mourning. He realizes that she wears it on purpose and has since their first meeting. She has at least one pale blue dress; he can only imagine it brings out the brilliance of her eyes.

He rises to his feet and nods. “Miss Tarth.” When he looks her in the eye, her cheeks immediately flush a delicate rose shade. “I’m pleased you’ve come back.”

“Of course, Mr. Hill,” she says, her tone as cool as her cheeks are hot. “You have a painting to finish.”

“Of course,” he agrees, schooling his face so that his amusement doesn’t show. He gestures to the divan. “I’m ready to start when you are.”

She nods and walks stiffly to the divan, seating herself in the now-familiar position. Except, this time, when her back curves just so, her neck lengthening as she tilts her chin the way he’s shown her, all he can think about is what it would be like to paint her whole body. To mix the precise shades of pink and white and brown to match the shades of her skin from her forehead to her toes.

He wonders if the freckles paint her breasts and stomach, as well. He can’t ignore the aching curiosity to know what color the thatch of hair between her thighs is, and the exact shade of pink her quim flushes under his gaze.

He has no idea how long he’s been staring, but long enough that she turns to look at him. Her eyes and the pale arch of her brow are like a punch to the gut.

“Mr. Hill?”

“My apologies, Miss Tarth.”

He clears his throat, retrieves his palette, and begins to paint.

 

Chapter Text

Brienne has never thought about being a mother. Not in a fraught way as if she isn’t made to be a mother. She simply hasn’t considered it; she doesn’t seem to feel that biological impulse that so many of her friends do. Even if she vaguely imagines what it would be like to be a mother, it’s all very hazy and surreal.

So it surprises her what the sight of Jaime and Addam holding Sansa and Margaery’s new baby does to her. Addam’s the braver one, happily taking little Elinor from Margaery. She looks microscopic in his arms, just a shock of dark hair peeking out of a bundle of cream-colored blanket, seemingly no bigger than a kitten.

It’s like some prehistoric region of her brain stirs awake.

Jaime leans over Addam’s back, touching Elinor’s cheek with the tip of his finger, a soft smile on his face when her face screws up in confusion. There’s a frozen moment in time where everything goes a little fuzzy, except for the two men admiring the baby.

Jaime looks up and catches her eye, a radiant smile spreading his mouth.

Oh.

That’s what people meant by a ticking biological clock.

It feels trite enough to be embarrassing, but something deep within her wants.

Jaime blinks, hear flaring to life in his eyes at what must be the plain desire in her own.

Addam glances up as if to say something to Jaime, but follows his eyeline to Brienne. He lifts an eyebrow in question, surprise and a touch of confusion coloring his expression.

Brienne walks over to them, feeling strangely disconnected from her own body. Little Elinor blinks up at her sleepily, her dark grey eyes not-quite-focusing on Brienne’s face. She reaches out and lets Elinor wrap a tiny, soft hand around her finger, gripping her tightly.

“Do you want to hold her?” Addam asks quietly.

Brienne silently shakes her head, but she doesn’t move away either.

--

That night, when Brienne climbs into bed behind Jaime, he rolls to face her before she can curl around him.

He looks at her for a hung moment before saying, “Do you want children?”

She must freeze because he rubs a heavy, soothing circle over her hip. “Not now,” he says. “But we’ve never talked about it.”

She hears Addam’s feet padding on the hardwood on his way to the bed. He’s still warm, almost damp, from his shower when he slips beneath the covers.

She takes a deep breath and melts into the solid weight of him against her back.

“I--” Brienne starts to say a solid no. It was a solid no for as long as she can remember but...sometimes. “I don’t know,” she whispers.

Jaime looks from her to Addam over her shoulder. “Is it--” his mouth twists, worried by not angry before he continues, “because it’s the three of us?”

She blinks at him, not understanding what that has to do with-- “Why would--”

“Because it would be harder,” Addam says. “Would we all be parents? Would it be yours and Jaime’s child? Would I be a beloved uncle, or...?”

“Oh,” Brienne says, feeling wildly naive. Of course, that should be a consideration. Of course that matters. “I didn’t even think of that. I just don’t know if I want to be a mother. Or a parent of any sort.”

Addam’s arm wraps around her middle then, his breath warm on her neck.

“It has nothing to do with what we have,” she says.

Jaime nods. “For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t want to have kids with anyone else.”

Brienne feels tears prick her eyes.

Addam squeezes her tighter. “All in good time,” he murmurs. “For now, we have Elinor to spoil.”

Brienne nods and lets Jaime kiss her good night, tender and warm. Addam presses a kiss to her neck. She settles her hand over hers on her stomach and Jaime rolls over to settle against her, too. For now, at least, she has them both and they have her, and everything else can wait.

Chapter Text

Brienne really hates the way her hands tremble when she finally makes it to the door of Jaime’s office. She peeks around the door to find him and Peck bent over a stack of paperwork, Jaime explaining something to him at length. As if sensing her gaze, Jaime looks up, his eyes softening at the sight of her.

It does nothing to help her nerves.

“Should I come back later?” Peck asks Jaime.

“Please,” Jaime responds, but his eyes never leave her.

She tries to smile at Peck as he leaves, but it feels more like a rictus on her face. She can’t even bring herself to say hello to Jaime. She simply walks silently, sitting in the chair across from him. He’s giving her a look like he can tell something is wrong.

He leans forward and crosses his arms on his desk. “What’s wrong?” he asks, voice round and warm.

She can’t seem to make her mouth work, staring blankly as his expression grow ever more worried. She has to just do it or she’ll never--

“Are you--” she stops, her voice was louder than she’d intended. “Are you sleeping with anyone else?”

“Of course I’m not.” Jaime laughs, looking at her almost as if the whole notion is hilarious. “When would I have the time?” he asks with a sly half-smile. She can feel herself blushing a blotchy red. It’s not--he’s not saying he wouldn’t, merely that he doesn’t have--oh, she wants to leave. More gently, His expression shifts then as he asks, “Why would I be sleeping with someone else?” His voice is gentle and sincere and at least calms her throbbing pulse.

She shrugs, tries to affect a casual air as she says, “We never agreed to any exclusivity.”

“Are you sleeping with anyone else?”

She literally reels away from him, staring at him in shock. “Of course I’m not!”

He lifts an eyebrow at her, clearly conveying that he finds her question just as ridiculous, when it patently isn’t.

“That’s different,” she says, knowing her mouth is a moue of annoyance.

“Why?”

“Because--” She shifts in her seat, annoyed at him for making her spell it out. “Because...you know why. You’re the only one I’ve ever been with.”

He looks at her, just looks, his jaw tense, but it’s not anger in his eyes. Her blood warms as he gazes at her, clearly thinking about his next words. Strangely, she’s not nervous about what he’s going to say, only about the reason for this conversation in the first place.

“I haven’t been with anyone else in years,” he finally says.

Brienne blinks, her eyebrows lifting in surprise. She had been fairly certain he hasn’t had a partner in the past several years, but that’s not the same thing as not sleeping with anyone.

“My last relationship didn’t end well,” he says. “I’ve been single since then and I’m not someone who wants meaningless sex.”

It’s surprising but it’s--it makes everything feel important somehow, validating and safe. It’s stupid, maybe, but it feels special in a new way.

“I don’t want--” she speaks, not know what she’s going to say until it’s almost out of her mouth. “I don’t want to sleep with anyone else.” He blinks slowly. In for a penny, in for a pound. “I don’t want you to sleep with anyone else,” she confesses, her chest hurting with anxiety. “If you want to, I would appreciate it if you would--”

“Brienne,” he interrupts her.

She stops, her tongue heavy in her mouth. She folds her hands in her lap, clutching her fingers together to steady herself for whatever terrible thing he’s about to say, something that will be delivered so kindly and softly, that it almost won’t hurt.

“I don’t want to sleep with anyone else either.”

The words are liking diving into the waters off Tarth on a miserable summer day, comforting and buoying.

“Did someone say something--”

“No,” she interrupts him, softly shaking her head. “I just wanted to know. For sure. We’re--things are--now that I’ve spent the night, I don’t want to create an awkward situation by being there when...”

“I wouldn’t do that,” he says vehemently, almost angrily. “Even if I had multiple partners, I wouldn’t keep you in the dark about it and let you end up in that kind of situation.”

She bites her lip, not quite guilty, but… “I know that.” She does, deep down, she does. But insecurity doesn’t always listen to reason. “I know it logically, but I’m not always logical about this.” She smiles, a little chagrined. “I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this or not,” she says a little sarcastically, “but I don’t have a lot of experience with this sort of thing.”

“Neither do I.” For a moment, she’s confused. He clearly has experience with -- “I’ve only been in long-term relationships, and they were few and far between,” he continues. “I don’t--” Myriad expressions cross his face, none of them familiar to Brienne yet.“I don’t take this lightly,” he finally finishes.

For a second, the only thing that bubbles inside of her is that girlish fizzy excitement that, maybe, the boy you have a crush on likes you back. It’s ridiculous and juvenile, she knows better. She knows what this is between them, but for a moment, it feels like he’s just made a declaration of something more. She realizes she’s staring at him, that maybe he’s waiting on a response. She wants to tell him exactly what it means to her, too, or some watered down acceptable version that fits what they are. She opens her mouth and--

“Hope I’m not interrupting,” Addam says.

She startles, body going cold from head-to-toe. “No,” she says quickly, all but shooting to her feet. She smiles, but it’s a quavering one. “We were going over the latest documents we finally got from Euron Greyjoy’s attorney.” Brienne darts a look back to Jaime before facing Addam again. “We were just finishing up, if you needed Jaime?”

“You sure?” Addam looks from Brienne to Jaime. “I can come back later.”

“It’s fine,” Brienne says, desperate to get out of here without talking more and revealing anything else. “I need to speak with Podrick anyway.”

She smiles tightly at Jaime and tries desperately to just walk normally on her way out the door.

She sighs, tremulous and relieved when she’s finally back at her own desk. She thinks about the conversation with Jaime, the trembling suggestion of something she tries not to want. It’s all so tangled within her, a strange mixture of knowing what they have, and only sometimes having silly moments of thinking maybe--maybe it’s not just sex. Maybe it’s more.

But she can have more. Not all she wants maybe, but she can push things that step further, be carefully spontaneous for once. She thinks about what it would be like for Jaime to be able to shove her against a wall, or even what Ygritte had suggested, over a desk or a table, no longer worrying about where the nearest condom is and what if it breaks. The freedom of experience possible if--

She picks up her cell, thumb hovering over the sensor, wavering before finally unlocking it. She walks into one of the empty conference rooms, shuts the door and dials her gynecologist.

Chapter Text

Despite all of the careful planning and reasoning, Brienne is still woefully unprepared for what it’s like to see Jaime the Monday after--well, after. In retrospect, she’s not sure what she expected.

She does a decent job of pushing it to the back of her mind over the weekend. Saturday is harder. There are places where Jaime’s stubble scratched, her mouth, her breasts, her thighs. She stops herself from fantasizing about the feeling of his tongue inside her, sucking and licking until no amount of insecurity and nerves could keep her from coming. It will just complicate things if she treats their night as anything more than a transaction.

She takes the longest bath of her life that night.

Sunday is better. Her skin isn’t irritated anymore and the lingering awareness, not quite soreness, fades enough that it’s not worth consideration.

She convinces herself that she’s ready for Monday morning, that she’ll be able to greet Jaime and discuss the case and nothing will have changed.

The minute she sees him though, it all comes flooding back furiously, her whole body tingling and flushing. She remembers distinctly the feeling of his teeth scraping her nipples, the grip of his hands on her thighs, the soft and slow way he moved in and out of her…

She avoids him. She’s not exactly proud of it. She even expects better of herself but she can’t look at him and not think about the way he looked kneeling between her legs, hard and hungry. She definitely can’t talk to him and not think of the hoarse groans that seemed to surround her completely when he came. She especially can’t think about the way he slid up her body after bringing her to a shaking orgasm, nor the way she tasted on his lips when he kissed her with the smuggest smile.

He, of course, does a much better job of normality. He smiles and tries to make conversation outside of work matters and frowns in concern when she escapes as quickly as possible.

--

When Jaime calls her into his office a week after That Night, she very nearly vomits on her own shoes.

But it’s fine and she manages to thank him for a good time, a much better time than expected and he smiles at her like he always has and tells her to get to work. It feels good and right.

--

The Greyjoy case is awful. It’s maybe the worst one she’s ever had. Not because the details are the most horrific or devastating, or because it seems like defeat is the foregone conclusion. No. The Greyjoy case is awful because of rich people doing their letter best to drag everything out to the nth degree and be the biggest assholes for the entire time.

She’s so tense every night when she gets home, that the only way to relax at all is either wine or a hot bath. After two weeks, not even that helps.

She’s lying in bed, tossing and turning, trying to sleep only to check her phone and realize it’s only been fifteen minutes. She sighs and turns onto her back, thinking about reaching for her vibrator. For some reason, she doesn’t.

She cups her breast, rolling her nipple until it’s a hard bud, scraping her thumbnail across it. Her back bows at the sensation, arousal stirring in her stomach. She tries to keep from letting her mind wander back to Jaime’s touch, but just the barest brush against the memory of his warm mouth kissing her open-mouthed and sucking at her breasts set her nerve endings alight.

It’s almost startling how wet she is immediately, her pulse thrumming quickly as she slips her other hand beneath the waistband of underwear. She wets her fingers and circles her clit, remembering the way Jaime’s tongue swirled in maddeningly quick circles. In the past, she would get herself off as quickly as possible, but with the memory of the way Jaime seemed to savor her she wants to take it just as slow as he did. She wants to tease her orgasm out until it coils so tightly she feels like she might fly apart, or scream so loudly she wakes the neighbors.

She’s almost regretful when she comes with a cry she doesn’t bother to muffle. She pushes her fingers inside her cunt, giving it something to hold onto as she shudders through the aftershocks.

For the first time, lying sated and languid from her climax, she finds herself wanting something more. She wants the weight of another body on top of hers, the smell of someone else clouding her senses, the hot feel of someone else’s damp skin beneath her own hands.

She does manage to drift to sleep after that, but she dreams of Jaime’s cock filling her, his tongue stroking along her own, his hands gripping her almost painfully as they move together.