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Ten Broken Beds

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The first time happened the night after they rejoined Jaime’s host on the Kingsroad. Rumors ran wild through the camp that their commander and his odd companion had battled and vanquished an undead sorceress and her mighty army somewhere in the Riverlands. Jaime encouraged these rumors, so that from midday till nightfall the size of Stoneheart’s forces had grown from a couple dozen hedge knights and orphaned boys to several hundred bloodthirsty Northerners with some wights mixed in for good measure.

Brienne of Tarth refused to answer any questions about the battle, and seemed to make a point of avoiding Jaime, always lingering in a part of the camp where he was not. Her squire, the pale boy called Pod, and the hedge knight who went by the name Hyle Hunt avoided Jaime Lannister as well, Pod sticking close to Brienne while Hyle joined the first drunken dice game he could find and put down roots there.

Some time after sundown, Jaime summoned Brienne to his tent, then threw her squire and all his squires out. “The lady and I have some unfinished business to discuss,” he said ominously.

Peck and Pod huddled under their cloaks by a fire, feeling sleepy and wondering how much longer the discussion would go on before they could all retire to their beds in the commander’s tent. This was how Pia found them, her arms full of freshly laundered sheets.

“Such a ruckus they’s making,” she said. “I went up to the tent, to deliver these sheets, like, and they was going at it. Shouting and cursing and carrying on. I think lord commander was crying too, weeping like a babe!”

“She lied to him to save me and Ser Hyle,” Pod mumbled. “He must be furious.”

Pia looked between the two young men. “We should go and listen,” she said.

They stared at her as though she had suggested stepping into a cage with a hungry lion for a bit of a chat.

“Trust me, I know these things,” Pia declared from her lofty heights of experience. “When a man and a woman’s fighting like that, only one way it can end. Well,” she paused, considering. “Two ways, but I doubts as they’ll kill each other.”

Pod remained unconvinced eavesdropping on Ser Lady and the Lion of Lannister was a sound idea, but he went along with it so he could be there to protect Ser Lady in case they did try to kill each other. Peck, of course, did whatever Pia told him.

The unlikely trio of spies crept up to the large tent of crimson cloth trimmed with gold and went around to the back, closest to where the lord commander’s camp bed was on the other side of the tent cloth.

No shouting, cursing or weeping could be heard, but something was definitely happening. There was an odd metallic noise, like hot steel being bent out of shape. The distinct ripping noise of cloth being removed precipitately. And a woman’s muffled grunts of pain.

Pod had his hand on his dagger and was about to slice open the tent cloth and go to Ser Lady’s aid when Pia grabbed his arm and dragged him down to where she and Peck crouched on the cold ground. “Listen,” she hissed.

The sound of metal bending took on a rhythmic cadence, like someone slowly, hesitantly testing it for endurance. The woman’s pained moans changed key as well, started to sound more like cries of surprise. Then the metal groaned sharply, and so did the woman, a sound like swords clashing and steam hissing.

Pia looked at Peck. “You sounded just like that the first time you bedded me,” she said, a touch smugly.

Pod’s eyes went round and big as saucers. “You don’t mean…”

Before Pia could answer, Jaime Lannister’s drawl reached them from inside the tent, instantly recognizable, although he sounded a touch out of breath, his voice ragged with emotion. “I’m sorry, Brienne,” he said. “It won’t hurt next time, I promise.”

Pia looked from Peck to Pod, and nodded sagely. Pod blushed. Peck watched Pia in utter awe.

Inside the tent, Brienne was speaking, her voice even more ragged than Jaime’s. “It’s all right. I think… I think I deserve… some pain. Could you, maybe, do something… a diversion…”

Jaime chuckled in a way which made Pia grin and the two boys shift uncomfortably. “You mean a distraction, my lady warrior.”

The sound of a wet kiss was replaced by a loud, persistent sucking noise. It went on and on, while Pia grinned and grinned, forgetting even to cover her mouth and hide her broken teeth. Brienne’s moans of incipient pleasure rose in pitch as the sucking went on, modulated into a breathless, demanding squeal. The rhythmic metallic groaning picked up speed as well, until the cacophony of sucking, metal bending and groaning, and woman moaning seemed to fill the world.

Just when Pod decided the earth would not be kind and open to swallow him whole, the night was rent by two sounds. One was the combined, wordless cry of a man and a woman, equal parts surprise, pleasure and pain. The other was the high-pitched scream of the camp bed finally giving up in the face of mounting pressure. Metal broke, something heavy crashed to the carpeted floor of the tent, a woman cried out more in embarrassment than in shock, and a man laughed in loud, breathless delight.

From their hiding place behind the tent, Peck, Pia and Pod heard what sounded like the entire Lannister host approach the front of the tent, drawn by that final crescendo of noise from within. Amidst men’s shouts and camp followers’ lewd speculation, just before the vanguard entered the tent to see what the trouble was, the trio behind the tent heard Jaime Lannister speak conversationally: “No use covering yourself up, wench, they’re all coming to see us. Your only chance of saving your honor and mine now is to accept this, my only remaining hand in marriage.”

“Jaime.”

Pod knew that tone, though he had only heard it once or twice before, when Ser Lady spoke Lannister’s name in her dreams.

“Is that a yes, then?”

Before Brienne could answer, at least twenty men burst into the tent and sent up a loud, lewd cheer.

Pia offered Pod and Peck a superior, close-mouthed grin. “I told you so, didn’t I?” she said.