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Words of affirmation

emotional support or encouragement

She has never known the moment when Jaime began to trust her, when he might have begun to look upon her as someone other than his captor, but his belief in her abilities, her honor, is there the day she leaves King’s Landing.

Brienne rides the bay mare he gives her across the Riverlands and at her hip, she wears the Valyrian steel sword he gifted her. When she grips the lion’s head pommel, it is a constant reminder of his faith.

When her search for Sansa is fruitless and she rides into Jaime’s camp, watching his face as he scrambles to his feet, she wishes she had been hanged. She would rather die than see Jaime realize she had betrayed him, watch the hope dim in his eyes.

There are still patches of snow on the ground and they spend the night on the floor of an abandoned shack, each of them taking turns to stoke the fire. Brienne sleeps with her back to him and there is more warmth in his body heat than in the flames a few feet away. She is unable to muffle her choked sob.

“What is it?”

She tells him, in bits and pieces, of her journey. All she has ever shown any talent for is swordwork and she wanted to wield Oathkeeper, to carry out her duty and fulfill her oath to Lady Catelyn. To Jaime. Yet she has failed.

“You are more honorable than most true knights. I trust you with my life.” He lays down on his bed roll next to her, his fingertips brush through her hair, tentatively at first, afraid his touch might be unwanted, but when she does not pull away, he continues to stroke her hair. “You have not failed. The Stark girls are still out there and if anyone can find them, it’s you.”

She is stubborn, unable to absorb his kindness as her heart aches thinking of all those she’s failed, the list of names cycling through her mind, but the repetition of his fingers running through her hair coaxes her back to sleep.

**

Gifts

it’s less about the gift and more about the thought that comes from it, which communicates emotional love

Brienne has been away in King’s Landing. Her third time in the past year. She is beginning to feel confident in her duties as Evenstar, but the travel and the capital exhaust her. When she steps foot onto Tarth’s shores, it feels as if the soil itself is rising up to greet her. In being home, there is a sense of calm which she never expected to feel.

There is someone she wants to see far more than Tarth’s cliffs, verdant hills, and sandy beaches.

As she searches Evenfall for him, she grows increasingly frustrated. He’s not in his study, the library, their chambers, or her study. (He claims it has better windows, but he simply likes to sprawl out and watch her work.)

She’s crossing the yard to the armory when she spots Pod. “Ser, m’lady.”

“Have you seen Ser Jaime?” He teases her about how she still calls him Ser in mixed company, as if everyone did not know they were lord and lady.

“He went into town almost an hour ago. I thought he was off to meet your ship.” She frowns. It would be the sort of foolish romantic thing he would do.

As Brienne is walking back into the hall, fretting over how they could have missed each other, she slams directly into a warm, familiar body. He catches her arm, even though she retains her balance. “Miss me?” His eyebrows quirk upwards, green eyes aglow, and she draws an arm around his neck and kisses him. “I have something for you,” he tells her when they part for a moment.

She chuckles. “I can surmise what it might be.”

Jaime gasps in feigned shock. “There may still be a few mysteries to this old man yet. I am full of surprises.”

That certainly can be said, and she is glad for it. Marriage is never dull with Jaime.

*

As they lie together afterwards, Brienne grows chilled and sits up, pulling on one of the tunics she often wears to sleep. She tucks herself carefully next to Jaime and his arm circles her waist. “What was your surprise?”

He lazily blinks open his eyes. “What if I already showed it to you?” He points to his mouth.

Jaime.” She shoves his shoulder, frustrated, but then he is playfully pinning her to the mattress, threatening to show her again. “How will I ever survive such wifely duties?” She teases, grinning, and he surges forward to capture her lips with his own.

His hand grips her hip afterwards, as if to ensure she is sufficiently flushed and sated. Still breathing hard, Brienne lies back against the pillows, eyes fluttering closed. The weight of the mattress shifts, Jaime moving away and then the heat of him returning.

When she opens her eyes, a small package wrapped in brown paper and tied with a simple piece of string sits between them. With all of her travel, Brienne hopes she has not forgotten an important day. She asks cautiously, “What’s this?”

“Open it.” He encourages her, even though his hand is currently tracing soothing patterns along her skin.

She unwraps the paper carefully and can practically feel Jaime’s impatience in his exhaled breath. Inside is a leather sheath, clasped closed by a delicate pearl button. When she unbuttons it and lifts up the leather flap, her breath catches in her throat. It’s a beautiful silver dagger, similar to one Jaime owns, and which she has admired. “It’s gorgeous.”

“An Evenstar should have the finest weapons to suit her station.” She can scarcely imagine what is finer than a Valyrian steel sword, but this might be a close second. “Take it out.”

Brienne does so, carefully, and only then does she catch the glint of the sapphire in the hilt. “You…” she starts, but he indicates for her to look at the other side. A ruby. Her husband really is the most romantic fool. “I love you.”

“Except for when you do not,” he teases. “That is why you have this.” She laughs and places the dagger carefully back in the sheath before sliding her hand up Jaime’s bare chest and kissing him. “Welcome home, my evening star.”

**

Acts of service

acts of service is not about household chores, it’s about trust and real needs; a good act of service should communicate “I got you”

She cannot believe she traveled across the whole kingdom in her state to attend a wedding, but the Lord of Casterly Rock deserved celebration, so she was here.

At seven months pregnant, her stomach precedes her everywhere. There’s a dull, throbbing pain when she wakes and trying to roll over onto her back is a feat these days. The man beside her stirs, his eyes blinking awake as she’s finally able to get comfortable sitting up against the pillows. Seeing her breathing heavily and frustrated so early in the day makes his forehead wrinkle with concern. “Are you alright?”

“No,” she sighs, tears springing to her eyes. Once she’d gotten past the months of nausea, the tears had begun. She cries at everything now. Releasing a frustrated noise in her throat, she wipes angrily at her eyes. “I’m tired.”

“I know,” he murmurs. “But the baby will be here soon and then it will be over.”

Somehow the thought of her being responsible for a tiny human being is not reassuring. “Oh gods.”

“Well, this part will be over,” he amends quickly. “The rest of it…”

She shoves his shoulder. “You are not helping.”

He sits up beside her, reaching to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. It’s grown long, nearly past her shoulders, too busy with her duties as Evenstar and preparing for their child to cut it. “You’re going to be amazing. You are amazing.” His hand smoothes across her swollen belly. “We’re very, very lucky to have you.”

His words are making her teary-eyed again. “I love you.”

“I know,” he smiles, his green eyes twinkling. “I love you.”

“I love you so much,” she breathes. “Though maybe not enough to do this again.”

“Fair enough,” he laughs. “Let’s get you dressed.” Jaime has taken to helping her in the mornings. She can do it on her own, but it takes her twice as long around her stomach. He lifts her nightshirt over her head, pausing a moment to let his eyes linger on her body. Her instinct is to hide herself from him, so unlike the knight she used to be. He drops a kiss to her stomach and another to her mouth before he retrieves a fresh tunic and breeches for her.

She has kept the seamstresses on Tarth busy, always needing ever larger items of clothing. “Like dressing a giant,” she murmurs as Jaime bends down, pulling the pants up her legs.

“Beautiful and strong, as always,” he says softly, stepping in to press a kiss to her forehead.

Brienne tugs on his sleeve, keeping him close. “Thank you.” He has been nothing but understanding and helpful over these past months and his gentleness, his unwavering love makes her feel ungrateful.

When she found out she was with child, she kept it from Jaime for several days. Brienne wasn’t unhappy, exactly, but there had been little excitement on her part. Only nerves. She was scared of what might happen during the birth, scared of how her body might change after she spent so long honing it in the yard. Brienne did not remember her own mother, Jaime had lost his when Tyrion was born, and her father was distant for most of her childhood.

As uncertain as she was about her own abilities as a parent, she had none about Jaime’s. He rarely spoke about his children, but she knew he wished he’d been involved in their lives.

When she finally told Jaime, there had been an excited smile on his face, at least until she’d unexpectedly burst into tears. He gathered her in his arms, making soothing strokes up and down her spine until she calmed down. “Will you talk to me, love? Please.”

There is really nothing except time and experience which will make her feel prepared to be a mother, but his reassurance, all the little daily acts of love that he thought she didn’t notice, but she very much did, eased her worries. Brienne hates asking for help and the past few months, she has not needed to, because he has anticipated so many of her needs. Perhaps not all of the strange cravings, but he made many trips to the kitchens in her stead.

The wedding ceremony is not until the late afternoon and as much as she encourages Jaime to go off and see the grounds or do whatever he likes, he refuses to leave her side. “You’re stubborn. When is the next time we’ll be at the Rock? You should spend time with your brother.”

I’m stubborn? I am? Do you have any idea what it’s like being married to you?” She should be offended, but she simply laughs, the loud, braying laugh she tried to hide for so long. Jaime is grinning and reaches to help her to her feet. “Come, wife,” he teases. “I should quite like a bath before the ceremony.”

*

His lips brush the shell of her ear and it makes her feel as if she’s coming out of her skin, fingers clutching at the fabric of his tunic. His fingers unlace her breeches and she sucks in a breath over her teeth. He keeps drawing near and then pulling away again. His mouth nips at her neck, teeth dragging across her lower lip, but when he steers her away from the bed, Brienne is confused. “What are you-”

“I wanted a bath, remember?” At her hesitation, he takes her hand, leading around her the screen which is set up in front of the metal tub. Jaime pours the steaming water from the large kettle which is resting over the fire into the tub. He strips off his clothing and sinks down into the water with a groan that makes her knees tremble. “Brienne,” he waves her over.

“I can’t fit, not with you.” She rubs the swell of her stomach absent-mindedly. Some days it feels as if she cannot even stand up straight. Everything feels heavy. The weight of her stomach, her breasts heavy, her shoulders rounding forward.

“Nonsense. Come here.” He stands, the water splashing around his legs.

He is somehow leaner than when they married, the planes of muscle from years of fighting have barely softened at all and she cannot tear her eyes away from how the droplets of water roll down his skin.

Jaime climbs out of the tub to help her in and then settles himself behind her, his legs wrapping around and pressing against her own. She sits forward, but he demands in a kind voice, “Lean back, please.”

“I’m too heavy.”

“I want to hold you.” His fingers trace along her shoulder.

“I can barely be held.”

He sighs, knowing her well enough to know that sometimes her stubbornness simply needs time. “I will wash your back then.” He scrubs gently and she allows an approving noise to escape when his hand travels up her spine. “Your back hurts.” It’s not a question, but she nods slowly. “Where?” She points to her lower back and her shoulders. His stump at her hip, he tries to massage the spots with his left hand, her appreciation murmured in grunts and sighs. Jaime rakes his hand through her hair, fingers smoothing through the strands along her neck. “There are times when I think I cannot be more in awe of you but you always prove me wrong. Did you know that?” She shakes her head. “Come here.” He pats his chest and she leans back against him, allowing him to carry some of her stress.

As the heat of his body wraps around her and she is in the solid weight of his arms, her worry begins to melt away into the water.

“Ever since I found out, I never doubted that you will make a wonderful father. Did you know that?”

“No.” His voice is barely above a whisper.

“Never doubted it for a moment.” She pulls his arms even tighter around her.

“Thank you,” he murmurs, tucking his chin into the curve of her shoulder.

**

Physical Touch

there are both intimate and non-intimate touches that can and should be used to show your partner love

The singing and camaraderie of the soldiers’ camp has quieted for the night. Brienne keeps the lantern in her tent burning low. When a hooded figure lifts one of the tent flaps, she doesn’t startle.

“Never at rest.” He clicks his tongue. “You should sleep before the battle tomorrow, elsewise you might fall off your horse.”

She nearly replies that she does not ride a horse. “Are you here for a detente, Lannister?”

“You know what I’m here for, Commander Tarth.” Jaime lets the hood he’s wearing drop, revealing that ingratiating smile she knows so well, but which still makes her stomach swoop. This is not the first time they have crossed enemy lines to be together, not even the fourth or fifth, but they have found a firm line, at least for now, between duty and passion.

He approaches the desk where she spends many a late night, working or writing letters to inform Sansa and others in the North of their movements. She sends letters to Tarth, too, hoping one day for an answer. Last she heard, pirates crawled the shores, the island invaded by a pretender who claimed to have Targaryen blood.

His hand brushes down the long column of her neck, making gooseflesh break out on her arms. “So much tension here,” he murmurs, fingertips tracing at the juncture where her neck and shoulders meet. The muscles there are swollen, from her heavy armor, and from all the burdens she carries from commanding men. This job makes her posture strained, her body stays tightly coiled.

Jaime’s touch is capable of washing all of the stress away. She has become addicted to it. His fingers push against the muscle, rolling it between his fingers as Brienne lets her head fall to the side, giving him more room to work. He drops his mouth there, warm and gentle.

He has barely begun and already she vibrates with want. It quickens in time with her heartbeat, threatening to break free of her physical body. Brienne pushes back her chair, standing and embracing him, the heat of him so close quelling her desire for a moment, igniting it the next. They strip clothes from one another, fumbling fingers accompanied by soft laughter and contented sighs.

The most alive she ever feels is on the battlefield with a sword in her hand, stepping forward to defend others, to do her duty, but being with Jaime makes her feel alive in a whole new way. At first, she hated herself for it, but knowing he feels the same way, it gives her a sense of power when they are together.

When he drops to his knees, her legs tremble in anticipation. She says his name, only once, and his breath burns along her inner thigh as he shakes his head. They cannot use each other’s names, although to claim they are quiet would be a lie. Her hands rake through his hair as his tongue makes her whole body quiver in pleasure. His left hand grips her leg, holding it away from his head, but as she gets closer, her thighs begin to tighten around him. He lets out a grunt of approval and the sensation of his lips buzzing against her cunt sends her over the edge, hips moving of their own accord, a long cry falling out of her as Jaime continues to nip and suck at the tender skin of her inner thighs.

She grips her fingers in his hair and pulls his head back, forceful but not rough. He blinks at her, a bemused smile spreading across his face. “Do you want me to stop?”

“No, I...” she falters and his grin grows even wider that he’s made her forget herself. “Come up here and fuck me.”

“I thought that’s what I was doing,” he replies innocently.

“You’re not…” A smirk slides across his face as he pushes himself up off of his knees. “You’re incorrigible.” It is meant to sound stern, but she laughs as he steps into her, arm slipping around her waist and presses her back against the mattress as he kisses her.

*

Her gut tightens when she sees him across the battlefield. He always rides in on horseback, his crimson cloak swirling around him, looking like someone out of the songs.

She is a foot soldier, and standing ground with her men, loses sight of him in the fervor of fighting, the singing of steel. The battle feels like hours, but it may only last a few minutes, all she knows is the next time she looks up, most of the Lannister troops have fled the field. All except one, his blond hair flecked with mud and blood. He drops to a knee in front of her. “I yield to you, Commander Tarth.” Brienne is so shocked she does not know what to say. “It would be an honor to serve under you, my lady.”

Later, she shows him exactly how best he can serve her.

**

Quality Time

quality time is all about how you spend the time that you have together. No matter what you are doing, if you are attentive and focused, your partner will feel loved

“Perhaps I should go to King’s Landing with you.” He says it so easily, but Brienne’s hands freeze against his laces.

Jaime struggles with some tasks, still, too proud to accept help, except for this one thing he allows her to do. She helps him dress every morning and undress every night, fingers nimbly undoing the laces of his tunic, his breeches.

She raises her gaze to his, taking in a breath. “You do not have to.” The last time they visited the capital was shortly before they sailed to Tarth. The shock in his eyes upon seeing the city in ruins has haunted her since.

As she steps away from him, rounding the bed, he asks. “Are you embarrassed of me?” His question slams into her, like an unexpected attack from behind.

Brienne turns, startled. “No, I thought you…” she lets out a sigh. “I was not sure how easy it was for you to be there.” Jaime holds no love for the Targaryen queen. Brienne is not sure what to make of her still, except she allowed him to live. If she had not done that...

After the war’s end, Jaime was the one who gently suggested he might accompany her to Tarth. She was not certain what the island might look like after being ravaged by pirates and the Golden Company, and part of her was scared to return, to pick up her father’s mantle. Brienne never expected him to stay forever, but she’s happy to provide Jaime a refuge here. Wherever she is, he is always welcome. “You are embarrassed of me,” he states, as if it is fact.

“Jaime.” He’s being petulant. “I am not embarrassed of you.” It would be unusual to have the Evenstar show up to conduct business with the new Regent with a guest in tow, but they are far beyond worrying about society’s gossip.

“Is it because we dishonor the gods?” She almost laughs because neither of them has much use for religion, but he is whispering as if they might hear him. “Because you have taken me into your bed? Perhaps we should marry then.”

It falls out of his mouth so easily, so quietly, as if it is an afterthought. Yet it rattles her as much as a strong hit to the head, the type that leaves her ears ringing. “What did you say?”

His eyes are twin emeralds, dark and dangerous in shadow, but softer and more beautiful in the light. “You heard me, Lady Brienne.”

She never expected romance, but that was hardly--“It was not even a question.” The irritation rising in her chest manifests itself in her shaking hands. They are standing across from each other, the chasm of the bed between them. “If you mean to command me, then I shall take you out into the yard and make you prove your worth.”

He lifts a sole eyebrow at her. “If that is what you wish,” he draws out lazily. “But you already know I am worthy, do you not? You have broken me in, like that pale gray palfrey you ride.”

“Jaime.” This time his name is meant as a warning. He is rarely sharp and bitter like this. Not anymore, not with her. He is hurting, somehow. “I haven’t--you’re not...it’s not like that.”

“Then what is it like? You let me into your bed every night, sometimes you even want me in the afternoons. What would you call that?”

She’s never considered it before. Not precisely in the way Jaime is asking her to. It’s always been them. It’s how they are, what they do. Things between them have been this way since before the Battle of the Long Night. Coming together to comfort one another during the very worst of circumstances, but now it has continued for far longer than she dared to imagine it might. “I like having you here, but I never...I expected you to return to the mainland. To rebuild your life somewhere, like all of us have done.” Her words are blunt and unvarnished, like a wooden tourney sword, but they are true. Or at least they were when they boarded a ship together and sailed towards her home. In all these months, they have never spoken about what it means that he is still here.

“I see.” She wishes for a glint in his eye, searches for some small sign of expression, but there is nothing. His gaze falls from hers and for a long moment there is silence between them. Then Jaime moves away from his side of the bed, his feet padding across the marble, stepping slowly towards her. “You never once thought I might want to rebuild my life with someone by my side? The person who fought beside me against the wights, who has seen to it to salvage my honor?”

He is standing in front of her now, so close she can feel the heat from his body, yet she demurs. “I did not do as you say, ser.”

“Brienne.” Now he is the one who sounds frustrated with her.

“Let me finish,” she barrels onwards, a bit unlike her, but she wants him to hear it. “You did that, the honor part, all on your own. You do realize that, don’t you?”

His eyes soften. “And yet you still do not understand why I might want to spend the rest of my life with the person who sees the best in me?” A tentative smile pulls at his face.

No, she does understand that. Jaime sees her for who she is and loves her anyway. She thought he knew she felt the same about him. She loves him for who he is, has for the longest, longest time. “Marry me,” she whispers.

He steps into her, his mouth warm on hers, his arm sliding around her waist. “Do I still need to fight you in the yard?” he murmurs.

She shakes her head. “No.”

“It might be fun.” His face slides into that teasing expression she knows so well.

“It would be,” Brienne agrees, a little breathless.

He reaches up, dragging his thumb ever so gently across the scar on her cheek. “Yes,” he whispers. “That is my answer. Yes.”

She cannot resist teasing him. “To the yard?”

“To marriage, you stubborn woman,” he practically growls in her ear before they tumble down onto the mattress.

When she arrives in King’s Landing a few weeks later, Jaime is by her side, and as they enter the Throne Room, they are announced as Lady Brienne, the Evenstar of Tarth, and her Lord Husband.