It’s strange, getting to know Jon as a man. In a way, she’s known him nearly all her life; he’s been a public figure from the moment he was born, after all. Margaery has hazy memories of the national event that was his birth, the endless news programmes and magazine articles her governess consumed voraciously that documented every shred of the future King’s existence. She’d had little interest then – her favorite things when she was four were kittens and toy horses and storybooks about woman warriors like Boudicca and Joan of Arc. The small, swaddled form that so seized the interest of the country meant little to her, and as she’d grown, she’d been content to view him as a far-distant public figure, very nearly a public property, and she’d had no desire to know him as anything more.
Until she married him, that is.
They’ve been wed only a few short months. Not all so long, but long enough to realize just how much there is still to learn about one another. Margaery may know that her King tends to scowl during official functions and that he’s been allergic to strawberries since he was a child, but her husband is still something of a mystery, one that must be teased out in the back seats of town cars and around countless dining tables.
At least there’s no such distance between them in the bedroom, and hasn’t been from the first time he touched her and the heat between them practically burned the palace down around their ears. If only their days were managed so easily as their nights.
He still stands on formality with her, or retreats into it, more accurately, using it like a shield in situations he feels ill-equipped to navigate more casually. Some days she’s surprised he doesn’t bow and kiss her knuckles in greeting, like she’s a visiting foreign dignitary rather than the wife he’d fucked into bonelessness the night before. At first she’d been content to leave him his illusions, his sanctity and his private self, but lately she’s grown dissatisfied with the distance. It’s as if he becomes more King than husband when he crosses the threshold of her door every morning, shrugging back into rigid decorum and ceremony like he would a favored old coat on the path between her bedroom and his own.
Margaery thinks that perhaps today is a perfect day to nip that particular habit in the bud.
She’s only been in his apartments once before, and then only for a moment before he hustled her out and into the library, acting almost like a teenage boy trying to keep her from seeing the dirty magazines shoved under his bed. It had amused her at the time – it still does – so she’d let him crowd her out the doorway without a comment, only a slight smirk curving her lips, that same smirk that he says makes her look like a murderous kitten. Now, however, she feels a change is in order.
“He’s expecting me,” she lies brazenly when his valet opens the door at her knock, sailing past him and pretending she doesn’t hear the momentary sputter that escapes him before he corrals himself into a more proper order.
“Your Majesty,” he says, “if you’ll just wait here, I’ll-”
“No need!” she trills gaily, enjoying the flummoxed look on the man’s face. “Bartlett, is it?” At his nod, she lets her hand hover near his elbow, counting on his ingrained training to move away from her touch and towards the door. “He won’t be needing you this morning, so please, feel free to stroll the gardens or catch up on some reading in the library.”
“But I must-” Bartlett protests, making a futile attempt at fulfilling his duties despite the door already closing in his face.
“Not a worry, I’ll take care of whatever his Majesty needs. Enjoy your morning off!” The last word is delivered with the click of the latch and the dull thunk of the bolt slipping into place. She feels a tiny pang for bullying the man so ruthlessly, albeit gently. It disappears quickly; Margaery is not a woman to be overly burdened with guilt.
She finds Jon in some sort of a morning room, peering intently at the newspaper spread across the table before him, a mug of what she assumes is coffee held halfway to his mouth, obviously forgotten in light of whatever it is he’s reading. She’d half expected to find him already dressed – she may still be learning about her husband but half the world knows about his devotion to near-military levels of routine, shoes worn indoors and supper served at 6:30 on the dot – but he’s barefoot and wearing a charmingly old-fashioned dressed gown belted over the pinstripe pyjama pants he’d worn when he left her bedroom just after dawn. The shirt has gone missing, though, and she wonders if he’s been wearing it out of deference to her rather than personal preference. An unneeded deference, as she quite enjoys the view of his bare chest in the vee of his robe. There’s a faint mark on one clavicle and she remembers biting him there the night before. No formality in their bedroom, not at all.
“You have Hobbit feet,” she remarks casually, allowing herself a faint smile when her voice startles him out of his intent focus and fighting to keep the smile from spreading when he curses and sets his cup down, swiping at the coffee that’s slopped onto his sleeve with an ineffectual hand. Deftly, she pulls out a chair with her foot and sits across from him, enjoying his disconcertion. “All pale and tufted.”
“Margaery,” he says, her name half greeting and half question on his lips. “Where is-”
“Bartlett?” she supplies. “I gave him the morning off.” She reaches forward for his cup, not missing how his eyes follow her as she raises it to her lips and takes a sip. There’s a crescent of plum lipstick on the rim when she sets it down again, and his eyes fix on that mark like it holds the secret to the universe’s mysteries.
“So you broke into my apartments at eight am to insult my feet?” His eyes flick up from the coffee cup to meet hers and a familiar heat spills through her, making her shift in her seat, something he doesn’t meet if the way his eyes seem to darken and become more heavy-lidded is anything to go by.
“I would hardly call it breaking in when your valet opened the door for me.” Jon’s lips quirk almost involuntarily.
“And it’s not an insult,” she continues as if he hadn’t spoken. “Hobbits are beloved by millions. You should expand your ideas of beauty beyond the conventional.”
“Expand my- Alright, this might be more than I can handle before my second cup of coffee.”
“Then allow me to pour you another,” she says smoothly, standing to fetch the pot on the sideboard and refill his cup. “It’s only fair that I act as your valet this morning, as I dismissed Bartlett so unthinkingly.” She lets the side of her breast brush his shoulder, one long tendril of her hair falling forward as she leans to reach his cup. Hesitantly, as if he does it almost despite himself, he coils one finger in the lock of hair and lets it slip free between thumb and forefinger. Margaery smiles. This is where she’s at her best. Her father’s only tool was a sledgehammer, but Margaery’s grandmother taught her that a climbing vine could take root in the gaps and seams of even the most fortified walls and do far more damage than any weapon. She’s already won the battle before Jon’s even realized they’re at war.
“My valet?” Jon says dumbly, twisting his head to look at her, his eyes large and owlish behind his reading glasses.
“Mmm,” she hums, arching one brow at him and enjoying the convulsive movement of his throat as he swallows. She drags her knuckles gently across the plane of his cheek, his stubble catching delicately at her skin. “And it looks like you need a shave.”
She pretends not to notice the small, pained sound he emits as she returns the pot to the sideboard, but she allows herself another smile and thinks to herself that perhaps she’s even already won the whole war.
title based on "Queen Jane, Approximately" by Bob Dylan