She is everything a Wildling could want, and more.
Her sword, the blade a thousand and more folds of Valyrian steel, lays gracefully upon a lean, muscled hip, dark and forbidding. The metal calls; they knew the weapon as a Stark instrument of justice. Ice, melted to fire, then to Oathkeeper. The Free Folk know of the northern kings, from the Builder to the Young Wolf slain at the Twins. History seeps through everything. Oral traditions pass generations, built upon each time, until fact becomes myth and legend. Kernels of truth still remain, yes.
“It was given to me,” she says, and her voice is low and husking, southron inflection.
Tormund bites into the hunk of bread, imagining his mouth upon her mouth, watching every awkward move.
Never has he reacted so viscerally to a woman. There have been others, of course. He is a handsome and virile man, who wants for no company. Two daughters, perhaps sons, bear his red hair and prodigious size. Strength is prized north of the Wall. Strength and constitution mean living, and health, and battling through deprivation.
Winter is coming.
Never has Tormund Giantsbane been struck so hard, so fast, so deep.
The dead commander nudges him with a toe, a sharpened interest upon his wounded face. It is surprising Jon notices anything at all given he remains so very close to the young woman with the long red hair. Sansa? Too slim for Tormund. Too high-bred and delicate. Where are Sansa’s strong shoulders and powerful thighs, where are her capable calloused hands and common sense? She is an ideal southron woman, in her gown. Prettiness does not feed a starving belly. Elegance does not kill a man.
He watches Brienne again, drawn. He likes she wears men’s leathers and mail. To others this could be concealment, hiding the body underneath, but the boots and jerkin display that perfect body - and she is, she is a perfect Wilding mate, in all things. The wideness of her torso. The length of her legs.
Her eyes meet his, bright blue, and they are, to Tormund, not the only lovely part of Brienne of Tarth. The flush stains her cheeks, but she does not look away like some callow girl flirting. Shyness, not calculation, causes her to glance at her meagre meal; though food at Castle Black is diverse and delicious to the Free Folk used to hunger. She is an equal. A warrior. A worthy mate to steal.
Another bite to his bread.
“Nice sword, good steel for Walkers” he says, through crumbs. The ale, weak as piss this side of the Wall, washes his mouth empty. “Who’s was it?”
The blush deepens, and something milkier takes to the clear sapphire of her irises. They are the same hue as the sky over the forests, when spring comes ripe and promising and pregnant with life. She is wasted here, in Westeros, amongst men who can not see what stands before them. He has heard others laugh, call her the Beauty. Tormund took a moment to realise that the words were mocking. He believes them true.
She is beautiful for her strength, and honest spirit, and quiet determination. She is beautiful in the curve of her throat into her square jaw, that wide cracked-lipped mouth, the broken nose. Power in every movement, even if she tries to make herself smaller, less intimidating. That brings him to a shortness of anger - how dare others try and make this woman, this warrior, this Goddess moulded from muscle and blood and sweat, into some sort of joke? Blind. All of them.
“Jaime’s.” Her fingers trail across the pommel, a lattice of split cuts gracing her long fingers where the ice has torn.
“I,” and he watches her unashamedly, unabashed, “wouldn’t have given you a sword.”
“I’d have given you a mace.”
“I used a morningstar, before this.” Her touch lingers fondly, like that of a lover, upon the over-wrought hilt.
“You’ve got the range for it, better than that.” Tormund waves his bread at the sword, which is ugly and dull and not worthy now he knows it comes from another man. “A sword gives you a shorter reach.”
“Yes, but it is Jaime’s. He gave it to me so I could rescue Sansa and honour my promise.”
Another has noticed her, it seems. When she says the name, and it pours from her tongue in reverence and frustration and a certain sadness, he knows. But? This Jaime is not here. Whoever this man is, he is nowhere near Castle Black, and Brienne, and Winter. A fool can miss his chance but once when another is primed to steal a wife.
Tormund nods, never stopping in his admiration.
“Do you spar with Wildings?”
“I spar with any who ask.”
“You’ll not be used to it, all you’ve had for practice is fucking Pod.” Who is a good lad, in his way. He’ll make some woman a good wife some day, and he has seen interested eyes sliding across the young man’s kind face. Payne is far removed from the tall, hard-bodied warrior men north of the Wall. He blushes as pretty as any southron high lady. Sometimes he notices the lingering stares of men upon the young man’s body. Fresh meat, he supposes, in this castle filled with naught but men. Such desire is to be expected when there is no cunt but plenty of cock.
“Pod is improving,” she says, shifting in her seat, elbows upon the table. They sit square now, and her knee bumps his.
“He won’t die so quick.”
“He just needs time, he is learning.”
Tormund hungers to see Brienne in full flow, in the midst of her fighting trance. He wants to see her as herself, without the constraints of gender or society upon her broad shoulders. In battle, bloodied and bleeding, sweating and chafing, she will be perfection. Even more than when she is sitting calm, discussing the most useless fighter in Castle Black - and that includes the women and children. He wants the sweat of her neck in his mouth, the claws of her hands raking his spine as they rut.
Wildling. The term lies upon his tongue. A mocking, a sneering southron term, a distilled essence of the proud spirit of the Free Folk. To the ‘civilised’ he and his tribe are nothing but savages, barbarians. But rigid society prevents those to the south of the Wall truly living, truly rising to their own destiny. Freedom encourages, and a man or woman can become King-Beyond-The -Wall because of their own merits. Name, rank, or wealth matters not.
Tormund wants her for herself, not because of title or gold or influence. He wants her spirit, and honour, and strength, and the beauty that only he sees. He wants her potential, and her mind.
He wants all of her, from her thin pale blonde hair to her large masculine feet. All of her.
Brienne should be his.
When the Long Night is through, and Jon Snow leads the victory. When the Dawn breaks and Winter is defeated.
He shall take his woman - his warrior, his equal - north.