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the cold inside our bones

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Sansa arrives at Castle Black shortly after dawn, the sun still low on the blurry horizon, weak and white against the dull grey sky. There are no women at the Wall save Val, haven't been since Queen Alysanne visited some two hundred years ago; even the whores keep to Mole Town, wait for the Night's Watch to come to them, but Jon looks at Sansa's gaunt face and hollow eyes and knows he will not send her away.

"Jon," she says, in the sweet voice she'd used as a child, before she'd truly understood why Jon's name was Snow instead of Stark.

He finds her a thicker cloak and a pair of boots that aren't splitting at the soles, gives her something hot to eat and paces anxiously while he tries to decide what he's supposed to do with her. She is beautiful, even with her hair rusted brown and travel dirt still staining her face, and there are too many rapers in the barracks, too many men who have let their vows sour over the years, who regret their decision to father no sons.

"Sansa is my sister," he says firmly, when he orders a pallet brought into what passes for his solar. "She can have my bed until better arrangements are made."

"There is space enough for her in King's Tower," Stannis points out.

"She has committed no crime," Jon says, shaking his head. He suspects Val is lonely, thinks another woman might be grateful for the company, but Val would only despise Sansa as another kneeler, would consider her a soft, southron girl for all her Northern blood. "I will not confine her, not after everything she has suffered."

Stannis is silent for a moment, but his mouth eventually twitches in the way Jon has learned to take as approval. "My wife and daughter should arrive before the next moon turns. Lady Sansa would be welcome among their ladies."

Jon leaves it at that, too tired and frustrated to argue with Stannis unless he must, decides he will let Sansa decide when the time finally comes.

The days pass at the Wall as they always have; the sky darkens too early and the snows pile too deep, the men eat and sleep and train, grumbling at their watches and stamping their feet around the fires. Sansa keeps to Jon's chambers, reading or sewing in the squat, uncomfortable chair beside the hearth, using the wool from one of his spare cloaks to make herself a warmer dress, black like everything that isn't white this far to the North. She slowly regains the weight she'd lost on the road, losing the sharpness in her face and growing fuller in the breasts and hips; Jon worries even more, watches her constantly, has Pyp or Grenn follow her on the rare occasions when she wanders.

She spends time in the sept, praying to her mother's gods, the southron gods Jon never had time for. He begins to regret sending Sam to Oldtown, thinks Sansa would've enjoyed Sam's company, taken comfort in his soft voice and easy humor, in his quiet, unassuming manner.

A storm rattles through the North a fortnight after Sansa arrives, the towers humming and shaking, bruised clouds gathering darkly over the Wall as wind and snow scream down from the Frozen Shore. Jon brings the men in from their watches, orders Marsh to find more furs and wood and wine for everyone; he returns to his chambers to find Sansa standing beside his pallet, shivering under the weight of two cloaks and half the furs from her bed.

"It's so cold," she says, her teeth chattering so loudly Jon can hear it across the room. "I don't think I've ever been this cold. How do you stand it?"

Jon remembers his first few months at the Wall, before the wind and ice had finally settled under his skin, when he'd still been shocked to see his breath take shape in front of his face, to feel his blood thicken and slow in his fingers and toes. Sansa looks small and scared and confused, her hands clenching in the furs as she pulls them tighter around her shoulders; Jon reaches out for her, his chest aching when she flinches.


"I'm sorry," she says quietly. "I shouldn't have -- I know you would never hurt me."

He catches her hand, drawing his thumb over the inside of her wrist. Much of her time in King's Landing and the Vale is still a mystery to him; he hasn't asked because she hasn't offered, because he hasn't wanted to press her, force her to relive bad memories, but he wonders now if that distance has been a mistake. "Do you--"

"No," she says firmly, squeezing his hand as she turns back toward his chambers. She pauses in the doorway, glances it him over her shoulder. "We would both be warmer if we slept together."

Donal Noyle's old bed is as tired and worn as everything else at the Wall, creaky and sagging in the middle, not quite large enough for two. Jon falls asleep listening to the shallow, even pulls of Sansa's breaths, his shoulder and thigh pressed against hers and his feet tangled in the furs, wakes on his side with Sansa curled into his chest, her head under his chin and her arm around his waist, his cock hard and aching against her hip.

She murmurs sleepily as he rolls away, her eyes closed and her lips just parted, doesn't see the shame burning in Jon's cheeks, the stiff way he moves as he laces his breeches and pulls on his jerkin. He avoids his chambers the entire day, snarling at the mutton Satin brings him for lunch, growling when Marsh admits the stock of firewood is running low; he tells himself he will not share Sansa's bed again, but when he finally returns to his chambers, well past the time he usually turns in, he finds her waiting for him in the chair beside the window, her hair unbound and one of his cloaks drawn over his lap, and when she hold out her hand, he cannot find the words to refuse her.

He wakes in the dead of night, sweaty and confused, his chest pressed to her back, his cock hard against her arse and his hand curved over her breast. Shame burns in his face and twists in his belly; he takes a deep breath as he rolls away, but she follows him, curls up into his side like a cat.

"Who was she?" Sansa asks, her quiet voice sudden and startling in the darkness.


"You kissed me," she says, sliding her hand up his arm, stroking her fingers over the place where his shoulder curves into his neck. "Here. As if you'd done it a hundred times."

"Her name was Ygritte," Jon admits quietly, a slow ache hollowing his chest. He hasn't said it aloud since the wildlings attacked the Wall, the night she died in his arms with an arrow in her chest. "I broke my vows."

"You loved her."

"Very much."

Sansa shifts closer to him, wrapping her arm around his neck; his cock rubs her hip, still harder than the ice that makes up the Wall, and he bites his lip, tries to swallow the low moan building in his throat.

"I should leave you," Jon says quietly. "If you are cold, Ghost can warm you as well as I."

She presses her lips to the hinge of his jaw. "Stay."

"Sansa, we can't--"

"We're the only ones left," she says, her face hidden in the dip of his throat. "There is no one alive who would even care."

Jon slides his hand over her cheek, brushes his fingers through her hair, can't stop touching her now that he has started. "If I -- you'll need to marry some day."

"I don't care anymore," she insists, her mouth against his skin, her hand twisted in the front of his tunic. "I'd rather it be you, not some man I've never met who thinks my maidenhead will give him Winterfell."

Sansa kisses him then, shyly, her mouth tentative, smaller than Ygritte's but no less sweet, and Jon pulls her on top of him, settles her knees astride his waist, makes a raw, desperate noise when her tongue peeks out to meet his, when her fingers curl in his hair and tug, when her arse slowly brushes back against his cock. He pulls her closer, enjoying the softness of her skin, the smell of her hair, the sweet weight of her against his chest; he runs his hands up the line of her back, the wool of her shift rough and scratchy under his fingers, and she sits up, the furs falling away from her shoulders as she pulls it over her head.

She is beautiful, long shadows and slow curves and her hair spilling over her shoulders, and Jon strokes up her sides, brushes his hands over her breasts, teases her nipples until her breath catches, until she arches her back and presses into his touch. He brings one of his hands between her legs, rubbing her nub with the tip of his thumb; she moans softly, her eyes wide and spots of color blooming on her cheeks, and he curves his hands over her hips, pulls her cunt up to his mouth.

He licks into her slowly, broad strokes with the tip of his tongue, loving the way she feels against him, hot and wet and perfect, sighing and shuddering, pushing herself into his mouth. She tastes sharp and sweet, even better than he imagined, and he can't get enough of it, pushing his tongue inside her, dragging it up to curl over her nub, dipping it back down again and again and again.

"Jon, Jon," she moans, low and breathless, her hips shifting restlessly, her fingers twisting in his hair. He slides his hands under her arse and pulls her closer, urging her to ride his face, to rub herself against him, to put his lips and tongue exactly where she wants it.

She peaks with his tongue inside her, fluttering around it, her thighs shaking as she shudders over him, hissing his name. He licks and sucks and kisses her through it, letting her settle before building her up again, light touches with just the tip of his tongue, then the flat of it against her nub, sliding and curling; her second release hits her suddenly, her back arching as she tugs on his hair, pulling his mouth away, and he makes a low, disappointed sound when she rolls away from him, limp and languid and boneless.

He will not lie with her tonight, not yet, wants her to think about it another day -- another week, another month -- until she is sure she wants to give so much to a bastard brother who can give her nothing in return. He is hard and aching, and he doesn't stop her when she carefully unlaces his breeches; he catches her small hand in his and wraps it around his cock, shows her how to touch him, how to curl her fingers and turn her wrist, where to press and rub and stroke and tease.

The Wall is no place for a woman, but Jon spends knowing he will never send Sansa away now, not unless she asks.