“Come now, wench, you aren't seriously going to sleep in that?”
Brienne stiffened in the shoulders, startled by the sound of his voice. From where she sat slumped against the base of a tree, a hand extended to her bedroll, she only needed to lift her eyes to see Jaime, orange and red firelight playing across his features where he sat before a fire. She glanced down at her mail and her armor and her brow puckered slightly. After a slight hesitation, her hand regained purpose and pulled the bedroll free and she continued to go about making a suitable sleeping place. “I will manage.”
It wouldn't be well to be caught unprepared; what with their decision to make a fire, thanks to the bitter cold and the light snow fall, and she had practice with sleeping in such attire, one more night of a stiff neck and back wouldn't hurt anything.
Jaime thought otherwise. “That metal must be stinging,” he said. “You'll freeze before the night is over. Perchance an enemy does come you won't even be able to bend your arm for the resistance of the icy mail. Why do you think it is the Night's Watch wear all those heavy black clothes and not fancy smithy metals?”
True, it was not the cleverest thing. Even then, as she attempted to settle in her blanket, with or without the padding of the bedroll, she could feel the cold of the ground seeping through the soil and hardening her muscles into lead cords, curling in her joints and aching the tips of her fingers.
Jaime saw the thoughtful, wavering shift in her eyes. With a stubborn huff of acknowledgment and agreement, and a little grudgingly, Brienne sat up and began to fumble her numbing fingers at the buckles that hugged the armor to her shoulders. She was making clumsy work of it, and after a slight pause to toss aside the mail, she stood to pull away the armoring about her legs. As she bent forward, over at the waist, hands around a calf, Jaime watched the stiff muscles of her shoulders and back tensing and shifting seamlessly beneath the boiled leather.
He pressed his lips together.
“Doesn't that chafe?” he asked her, evenly.
Brienne glanced up at him fleetingly, before returning her attention to her task. “What?”
“All that boiled leather. I always hated the stuff when I was a squire out in the training yard. Once you start sweating it just rubs and tugs at all the wrong spots.” Jaime picked up one of the stray sticks beside their weak fire and poked around at the embers; occasionally casting an eye the wench's way, noting the string of a muscle that runs from knee to groin across her thigh that tightened every time she shifted her weight. “Or even dry, the leather gets rough and stiff in the cold, confining. I wouldn't wear it.”
Why is my bed attire of such import?, Brienne thought to herself, and sighed, plucking at the rubbery collar of the boiled leather that dug into her neck. His points are valid, but why does he care? It wasn't.. it was strange to her; sleeping without protection – Oathkeeper would certainly be tucked in the blankets beside her tonight, but even still. “I have wool underneath,” she dismissed him. “Hardly any leather touches skin, and I don't mind a tight fit.” That seemed too open ended for her: “Helps with stance.”
“Planning on sword fighting in your sleep?”
At the sight of Jaime's sly smile, Brienne felt the heat pooling at the back of her neck, for no other reason than the sight of his face. “No.”
“Then what are you so afraid of?” Jaime stretched out against the base of a tree hovering behind his back, and looked about the small alcove of space they'd found to camp. “I don't see anyone around here. No one is going to attack you tonight. I'm on guard, if I hear something, you'll be the first person I wake.”
Brienne shrugged at him – she wasn't about to take that chance. There was a reason she had to be so careful all her life, more than any regular knight, but the fact that she refused to actually comfortably rest, might be a slight to Jaime, a doubt of his ability to take his turn at watch, an implication that she did not trust him with her virtue. Inside her, she heard the nick names, echoing – Kingslayer's whore, Kingslayer's whore. She wasn't quite sure what to say, but she measured his expression momentarily, before she decided it would be nice to sleep a night without the confinements of her attire causing her to toss and turn, searching for a comfortable position in vain.
She tugged harshly at the tough laces that tied up the side of her thick torso.
It wasn't until she was prying the fitted – already so stiff with the chill – leather from her body that she noticed the way Jaime's eyes flicked up and traced the small slit of exposed flesh between trouser and shirt that was exposed when her arms raised. A dusting of freckles beneath the belly button, caught his attention, and then her eyes, startled, uncertain, found his – Jaime was momentarily just as confused, why is he convincing the wench to strip again?
And why am I enjoying it so much? That was what jarred him the most.
He found the glib tongue he relied so heavily on. “There, isn't that better?”
Brienne, unable to find an adequate response, the skin from lower back to the base of her skull burning – she was not cold all that much anymore – she nodded in his direction. She wouldn't make that caught glance matter. There was a hint of surprise in that look Jaime had given her, and she assumed it directed as;surprised she was so ungainly, it was harder to see how graceless her body is with all her layers. Strip them away, she was left feeling exposed and vulnerable, but inevitably warm. She drew the coarse blanket of her bedroll around her on all sides and sighed at the feeling that regained in her toes and the tip of her frosted nose.
She was content with that much.
Jaime was not.
He let it lay silent for some moments, stirring ashes and adding more kindling to the fire, but there was gnawing idea still on his mind – he could still give her more advice on finding warmth. Besides, what a selfish knight he would be for hogging all the heat. “Come now, wench,” he started and watched her as she turned her head – he dropped his eyes once he knew she was looking his way. “I don't bite. There's plenty enough room here for two to huddle around the flames.” Jaime swept his hand to the side of him, lifting his head, finding her eyes.
Brienne's brow was tight, and he could see her eyes dancing on the inside, looking for reasons and motives and tricks – he wondered if he should take it personally that she still felt the need to do that, or if it would always be there, she would always need to check – and after a moment she unfurled an arm beneath a side to prop herself up, another wide hand pushing the lank hair from her face.
She spoke. Jaime had not heard; he watched the way the hair fell away to reveal her neck, the apple of her throat tightening, the thick muscles twisting to careen in his direction. The skin looked pale, even with Brienne drenched in shadows.
She'd said something, Jaime thought momentarily, knowing that expectation in her face. “What?” he asked stupidly, when nothing else came to mind.
“Is this spot not good enough?” she demanded.
“Certainly far enough. You built this fire” – he could not do something so useful with such a useless stump – “it is only fair you benefit from it.”
Since when does fairness matter?, Brienne wondered, while taking in the distance she was from the flames and the rock she'd have to kick aside if she were to uproot her position and bed down beside him. As she was taking her time to think it over, Jaime shrugged. “Or freeze, that's your choice. I was only saying.”
“If it will put you at ease,” she muttered, finally, roughly grabbing up her things and walking over.
As she moved around the edge of the fire, Jaime's eyes, so bold tonight, found the way the hues – yellow, orange, red – played off her movements was almost.. graceful. Despite the jerky way she lay out her bedding, the edges of her body seemed softer underneath the warm glow, and there was an almost curve to the thick muscling of her thighs. He wondered what it would feel like to trace a finger over the defined muscles, thick and tense, on the inner wedge of her leg.
Then she pulled herself down to sit on the bedroll and he turned his eyes back to the fire.
There couldn't be more than a foot between them, where Jaime sat with legs extended before him, tree trunk behind his back and she sat hunched before the fire for a few moments, turning her hands over the heat, before tugging her blanket over her hips, turned her back to him, and hunkered down.
Jaime absorbed the sight of her stark outline against the forest. A familiar way she turned her wide shoulders inward, a slight kink in her body, pushing her backside out further than the rest – and Jaime imagined sinking against the ground and fitting himself flawlessly into that curve. Pressing his chest against her back, a leg sling around hers, drawing her closer into him..
The thought awoke some sort of tension in his lower abdomen.
He could not seem to watch the surroundings as any well to do guard should. There was nothing to see but dying shrubs beneath a sparkling net of frozen droplets and willows swaying in the harsh wind, and the only thing he could hear were far distance wolves, the cracking of the fire, and her breathing.
And that wind. It seemed to grow colder every time it blew by. Lashing him in the face one time after another and whirling the orange flames around themselves, dimming, and flaring, and dimming. Playing an intricate spiel of colors over the wench's prone form, drawing his eyes to the line of her jaw, just visible beside her shoulder – it was clenched, it had not unclenched since she'd lain there.
There was only one more thing to further his advice.
“Is that shivering?” he asked her.
A long silence ensued, and Jaime wondered if Brienne would feign sleep. But after a moment her voice came in reply; “I am fine.”
“Was that your teeth chattering?” No, that hadn't been, but his would soon, he was sure. “You're such a stubborn wench. You might be fine with freezing to death, but I plan on dying with a sword in my hand, not beside the dirt with my finger frozen over a handful of snow. That's a Stark's death, if anything.”
Another pause, before Brienne turned herself onto her back and peered up at him. Jaime entertained fleetingly, rolling over, straddling knees over her hips and watching the surprise alight those sapphire eyes – and he defused the thought in the same moment, passing a small smile over his face, before dampening it and becoming a little more serious. “I swear on my honor as a knight, there will be only the sharing of the heat of our skin.”
What he said seemed to surprise her – it did surprise her, underneath, though she tried to defuse it as well. She hadn't actually taken his earlier suggestions, for suggesting the huddling together for warmth, she'd purposefully diverted herself from those thoughts. But she realized that warmth might overcome any distaste, or unwanting, and all that aside he promised a platonic sharing of body heat. Except, Jaime didn't strike her as someone who would grope at her and take advantage. She trusted him – proof in the way she listened to his past list of suggestions and advice and so, only after a moment to check his expression for japing, she shifted her bedroll next to his, hiked her blankets further up her body – and stalled when Jaime reached out a hand and caught the edge of it.
Something in her heart broken away, fell to the pit of her stomach and swelled unbearably. Clogging her throat and parting her lips to draw in a breath – if only to steady herself, if only to bury that searing in her chest, the twisting and leaping of the tense muscles of her lower abdomen – Brienne's eyes racked over him without meaning to; the long legs laid out lazily, the flash of hip bones straining momentarily against his shirt as he lifted himself to rearrange their bedrolls, the muscles of his shoulders and arms working as he turned away, twisted to reach his own blanket and tossed the wool over the wench. Jaime took the hold he had on hers, pulling the fabric over himself, and allowing his own blanket to settle over that. In a matter of moments, the two of them were closer together than he'd thought they'd ever be when they'd decided to set up camp that afternoon.
Brienne fought tooth and nail, stubbornness impeccable, to bury any misconceptions or flares of feeling, or thoughts, and she turned her back to him once more – her shoulder brushed his on the turn, and his bicep snagged on the collar of her shirt against her neck, pallid flesh skimming her flushed, searing skin – and she ignored the way his musky, sweat dampened scent swelled underneath the edge of the blanket.
Jaime lay on his back, throwing off an instinctive want of his body to turn into Brienne and mold his front to her back. To rest his chin on a shoulder, draw a nose through her hair, close his eyes and let his hands move over the muscled plane of her abdomen, catch the small breasts that would work perfectly for a man with only one hand to fill.. “Wench,” he said, and was relieved that he'd not sounded strangled. “Brienne. That's not sharing at all.”
She wondered what he would do if she rolled back to him, wrapped her limbs around him and buried her face into his collarbones; most men would want that, from a proper maid. Where would she put her hands, rest her legs, or more importantly, what does she press into him to bring him the most warmth?
Brienne tried to find words; does she admit she does not know what to do, or would that only make him laugh and tease her – she does not want to be teased right then, stripped away of her armor, cold, and struggling for warmth – she doesn't. But the words that flitted from her mouth, innocent in her intention, turn wrong in the open air; “Take what you want, ser.”
And what if I said all? Jaime chuckled, uneasy on the inside, amused outwardly. “Do you tell that to all the knights? Or only the ones you share your bed with?”
“I do not share my bed with anyone, but y–”
That time Brienne managed to stop herself from saying the truth, to no avail, Jaime still knew the words. “Me,” he echoed, almost pensively. I like that, he thought, he liked that he's the only one the wench shared her bed with, that he's the only one. “Well then, share it properly,” Jaime tucked an arm around the wench and pulled her against his front. Brienne was as stiff as a board underneath the tentative hand he had against her side – he sighed in frustration. “Stop being stupid, wench, I would leave you well alone if it weren't so cold out.”
But despite the harshness of his words, that certainly battered Brienne's confidence, Jaime ran the hand on her side, slowly, cautiously down the waist and across the hip, hovering over the back of her thigh before dropping it onto his own body. Brienne savored that, closed her eyes, and imagined so much more of it – the swelling in her stomach spread lower, through her center, and she bit into her lip.
Take what you want, she'd said – and meant it. The thought of him taking advantage of the close-contact situation was not unpleasant, though it should be. In her mind the image of him in the Harrenhal bathhouse aroused, the feel of his body pressed into hers with a clumsy catch.
Brienne fought for purer thoughts.
Jaime had not quite tried so valiantly.
The wind was still strong and it seemed their blankets were made of paper. He'd shifted a few times, touching a knee into hers, foot pushing its way slowly between her ankles, eking out every warmth he could from her, but his mind told him that there didn't have to be coarse shirts between them, or the two inches of wool fabric that was their trousers.
Hadn't he promised his honor on this?
He should have stopped at the mail.
The night wore on minute by minute for him, warmer, but the ghost of her skin next to him promised so much more warmth to be given. Every time his thoughts turned to her, the thing between his leg made the sights of her undressing appear – he did not mind freckles all that much, and it was just as well to focus on her astonishing eyes than her broad face when he looked upon her – and then his mind leaped to higher sights, images of moments when he might have to see her face.. tipped up to the tree tops, as she sat astride him, those thighs clamped tight around his, their muscles smooth beneath the pad of his fingers, drawing across them, up them, gripping tightly the harder she rode..
A barely suppressed groan gathered in the pit of his throat.
His hand rested on the bedroll, in the curve of space between his groin to her backside, a finger toying the crease signifying the merge of the bedrolls between them. An inch or two more and he could be trailing the fingers under her shirt and along the ridges of her spine.. or they could dip over her hip, find the laces of her trousers and clumsily pull them loose..
How easy it would be from there to fork his fingers and slide them through that bushel of blonde hair between her legs he'd glimpsed in the Harrenhal bathhouse.. he would curl them at the bottom, slipping through the folds he knows will be there, and feel her back arc heavier into his chest in response.. if he'd had another hand he would reach it over her head and grab the fingers along that jaw and turn her face to his, bring those wide lips to his, feel the catch and gutter of her exhales as his fingers slid and circled and sank deep...
It's been too long since I've last been with Cersei. There was a throbbing beneath the wool of his trousers, trapped uncomfortably, and he clung to the unease to orient himself. Jaime stared passed Brienne, at the trees and shrubs layered in white, and wrapped his hand into a fist.
He'd been drowsy, before, seated at the fire, as they set up the camp. He wasn't tired any longer. There was a trill of excitement clawing at his throat, and a rush of heat in his face and his chest and between his legs, and if he couldn't curl his fist into her hair, than he wished for a sword, to hash and slash at a tree.
He wanted to hit something.
He wanted to fight.
He wanted to pin his only friend to the ground and f**k her until she screamed.
My honor as a knight is worth sh*t, anyway, Jaime thought to himself.
“Brienne,” Jaime said, lowly.
Her tongue was awkward and swollen against her mouth. “Jaime?”
“I know a way to be warmer.” He left it there, waited.
Despite his other emotions, it struck him as too fun not to say; “With actual skin touching.”
That made the wench hesitate for a moment. “Without clothes?”
How else would our skin touch? “Precisely, my lady.”
Jaime wondered if he'd pushed it too far. What would she say? What would she do? What more could she do but refuse him? Or stiffen and be silent? Laugh at his boldness? There was a pause, and he was not sure what he wait for in those moments – an answer, yes, but he found himself unknowingly tense all across his body. Jaime rolled his shoulders, a shrug of complaint, and he worked his tongue against his teeth, indecisive. Confused, but certain that he wanted nothing more than to touch her. To see that last layer of clothing pulled away – if only she'd buy that she would be warmer without a shirt and trousers. Originally, he'd not told her to take off that ridiculous mail for that reason, a step in that direction, – at all – but there was something strange, and different, and timid and exciting about watching Brienne undress, one layer at a time... Jaime screwed his eyes shut.
Dancing behind the lids was Cersei, tugging her gown free of her hips, sliding a narrow, delicate hand to her center.. and then it was Brienne, broader, stronger, wide handed and long fingered, leaning against the rough bark of a tree, her back bowed, touching herself, swiveling her hips once, twice..
Brienne shifted and sat up in one movement, Jaime jolted and planted his hand over the blanket that covered his lap and he met the burning gaze she sent down at him, sitting above him, stray falling snow catching her ruffled hair.
After a moment, he managed a smile. “Here, I'll show you.” He sat up, and before, if he'd still had his right hand he would have peeled his shirt off in one, swift, fluid movement – the one he managed was stuttered, but no less efficient. The wench's face pinkened, and a startled ring went off in her facial expression when Jaime ventured his hand toward the ties at the top of her shirt. But she didn't move, didn't speak an object, just stared, as if hardly believing..
The laces were the easy part. When Brienne made no move to pull the thing over her head, Jaime slipped a hand underneath the hem and smiled wider when her stomach jumped beneath his touch – a sweat gathered at her hairline and her hands instantly folded over her breasts when he bared them, a lashing wind causing her to shiver.
Jaime did not hesitate to take the hands by the wrist, pry them away, and press his chest into her breasts. His stump slipped around her back and their faces were close enough for noses to touch. Brienne was shifty.
“Warmer, isn't it?”
Brienne nodded curtly, smacking her forehead into his. After a wince from both, he laughed at her expression. “You look terrified.”
I am, she thought. Worried, about all that she wants.
“You know,” Jaime said, his hand following his eyes downward, stopping at the waistband of her pants; he worked to remove those. “I know one more way to be warmer.”
Brienne couldn't think how that possible could be. Not unless..
The throbbing below his belt would not desist. He couldn't ignore it. Not glaring at him, right there, beneath the blankets, so blatantly there. And he couldn’t just turn away then, after peeling off the wench's shirt himself. He struggled with himself, to turn away, buying time by feigning extra clumsiness with the trousers. He contemplated excuses for that last suggestion multiple times in the length of only a few minutes, and he tried cleansing his thoughts – putting Cersei in place of Brienne, and not getting any lasting results.
When the last tie came loose, Jaime lifted his head and lay his mouth to hers.
The hand at her groin grazed finger across her broken cheek; Brienne tired not to flinch. Their kiss broke and her eyes had questions, his were dark – because what if she takes offense, what if she flees, what if she decides that the Kingslayer is not a friend to have, not a suitable partner for the sharing of body heat, not someone worth knowing, let alone loving..
Brienne had little grace when she crashed her mouth against his once more. A hand splayed against his bared abdomen, flat, fingers spread, feeling the way Jaime rolled closer to her, which muscles drew tight as he pulled her underneath him. After a moment, Jaime drew his tongue across her lips, parting them and, surprised, her face jerked back.
He laughed. “Does a lair's tongue taste sour, wench?”
Before she could answer, his face diverted to her jaw, drawing his lips down the edge, attaching himself to the sensitive skin beneath her ear, laying opened mouth kisses – hot, sucking, wet – along her neck.
Brienne's center panged and she rose against him, sharply.
Jaime turned his face aside, resting cheek against collarbone. He gripped a hand around her forearm, a groan broke passed his throat when Brienne slid against him once more, the friction coiling him tighter.
“It's not sour,” she spoke, only then able to manage words, sputtered as they were. With two hands she gripped Jaime's face, cradled it there for a moment. He allowed her to pull him back to face level.. and his tongue in her mouth was sweet, slippery, slick..
Slowly, she lost herself to the pressure, the heat of his mouth on hers, coaching her. He was much better at the kissing and she tried to match him, move for move, but Jaime was still smiling into her mouth – and she thought he was mocking her in someway, but didn't care. She felt certain that this.. this would never come again, a chance like this, for this, this man..
Her sharp intake of breath as his hand slid between them and over her center felt solid. Jaime hesitated and paused and watched her closely, watched the complete trust inlaid in that broad face, flushed and freckled, the pulse of lust behind the veil of her eyes. And he kissed her fiercely, for that, circling a thumb around the nub that brought her arcing up into him, harder than before.
Arms swung around his neck, brought his face pressed to hers, and he placed sloppy kisses to her hairline, lost a few in the straw, and heard her somehow broken laugh, a bark, when he misplaced a press of his lips on her eyelid – and the sound sent a thrill ripping through lower abdomen to his chest.
The cold air went unnoticed by them, when he slid a finger down her length. Brienne's thoughts remembered those hands, parring, clutching the reins of the horse, curled in frustration, those sharp, white scars as bright as stars, from nicks and misses, and she wondered if she could feel them, when he sank a finger inside her..
She was too distracted with keeping her eyes open and on his face to notice.
Jaime watched the wench as he did one thing then the next, each move a step further, a little tighter.
Tighter, her, twisting underneath him, every knock of her legs into his, every brush of her breasts across his chest, urging him forward. The part of her lips was an offer to be kissed. A groan breaking passed gnawing teeth was an incoherent encouragement. Her hand, tight and shaking, laying against his shoulder, were nails waiting to dig in.
Two fingers, rough and dragging. A maddening sucking of his mouth under her jaw. Thumb moving in deliberate, heavy circles.
And there was something impossibly arousing about watching the wench shatter and shudder and come apart.
Brienne worked to gather air, the curling of heat inside her pulsing dully, after the sudden spike. Jaime's hand moved stickily down her inner thigh, tracing the line of a muscle. She didn't know what to say, how to process the pleasure he'd just induced from her, only that she enjoyed it, only that she wanted to return the favor.
She wished she knew how.
“Jaime,” her voice was husky and lost its nerve when the green eyes danced up to meet her gaze, curious and unassuming. “You..”
“I mean to leave you a maid, do not fret,” he said, rolled off her onto his side and Brienne tried to keep the frown from her face – for what, his words or action, she does not know.
In her head, Kingslayer's whore, Kingslayer's whore, bounced. It took her all her courage to turn to him, working off his pants. Feathery light, her fingertips drew up his length and she watched in almost fascination as his eyes closed and his breath hissed behind teeth.
Eyes still shut, Jaime ghosted his hand over her wrist, then slid it forward. “Like this,” he told her, closing his finger around hers. A tight grip, and fingers made for precision, and a timid nature muddled by his own urgent palm flush against her knuckles and her eagerness to please him drew him higher – every quick breath hot on her neck and face, the way an eyebrow twitched, or his eyes pried open to see her determined eyes and jaw and wished his stump could do more than rest uselessly against her hip.
The blankets were still there, twisted around his knees irritatingly and pulled tight over her side. Jaime jumped outwardly when the wench pressed her lips into the dip of his collarbone, and her other hand moved up the underside of his arm. The other hand was much quicker. His losing the rhythm and striking upward, gripping her by the hair, turning himself inward as he pulled her into it, for a grapple of lips and teeth and a groan that buried itself into her mouth.
A buzz remained in him afterward; he curled his hand tighter in her hair and he pressed his forehead momentarily to the side, against a cheek. Her breath heavy in his own tresses. Still.
Then he let go, drew back and wiped the mess with his pants. He threw them aside, tugged the blankets jerkily up his body,and settled the blankets around her shoulders, not meeting her eyes. Not meeting her eyes. Fidgeting with the edge of the fabric beside her neck, fingering it, until Brienne leaned forward and his eyes flew up and she – heart tittering – wrapped her arms around his torso, drew him into her and slipped a leg around his. Her face pressed tightly to the hot skin of his neck.
Jaime felt stiff for a moment, uncertain. The action was not very Brienne, the seeking of comfort and giving of soothe, and he settled a hand lightly against her lower back. “Thank you.”
“For warming you?”
“Is that what we were doing? I'm certain your septa called it something different and there are most like others names, too. Cruder ones.”
“Sleep,” Brienne decided, finding a safer topic. “We've wasted half the night already.”
“Come now, wench, wasted?” He pressed his fingers closer to her back. “You feel warm, now, to me. Everything couldn't have been to waste.”
“No, not all.” But her voice was so quiet, he strained to hear – and when he did, he found no suitable answer. Eventually the two fell asleep, and the next morning, Jaime woke to the feeling of something shifting underneath his arm, warm and soft.. his face pressed against strands of weather-worn straw, that smelt as the salt of the sea. Like home. Brienne woke to her fingers splayed across a scared stretch of a missing hand, holding it close to her chest. Over her heart.
There was a moment, both held their breath, waiting for the other to wake – then it was over.
They broke apart; Brienne's face red and Jaime's eyes searching the area for a good excuse.
But he never found one. That once, he never found one. And all he could offer her was a trying smile.