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First Comes Marriage

Chapter Text

“Sansa, are you sure about this?” her mother ask for what felt like the one hundredth time. She had thought the matter was settled, seeing as how they were on their way to buy wedding dresses. She could see Arya roll her eyes in the back seat. “You can still say no.”

“And...what? Go back to Harry? Or Joffrey? Not a chance.”

“Ok, maybe not Harry, and definitely not Joffrey, but surely--” Catelyn winced as Arya got out of the car and slammed the door.

Sansa turned to face her mother. “Mom, don't worry so much. Arya signed up for it too and was chosen. I don't see you asking her if she's sure about it.”

“Yes, well, she's not as sought after as you…” her mother mumbled.

Sansa grit her teeth and tried to take a deep breath. She didn’t want to explain it to her mother yet again. Clearly, she wasn’t understanding why Sansa was willing to take such a risk. “If this doesn't work out, then the show will help me get a divorce. It'll be ok, I promise.”

**********

“But I'm perfectly happy with my life the way it is. A wife would just muddle things up,” Willas whined. “I only filled out that stuff because I thought it was a personality test!”

“And the interviews?” his sister asked. He turned away from her. He didn’t want to admit he had thought that was part of it as well, and felt foolish now for thinking that.

“You are the main heir to the Tyrell fortune. You must get married and I will have no back talking, young man.” The Queen of Thorns thwacked her cane on the hardwood floor, causing Willas to flinch. Margaery was unperturbed as she sat to the side doing her nails.

“Oh, Willas, it won't be so bad! I'll be there with you, and the program says the matches are scientifically accurate. So really, you can't go wrong.” She stopped to admire her handiwork. “It's not like you have oodles of women stomping at your door anyway.” Of course he didn’t, and he was happy with that fact.

Willas grumbled. His grandmother whacked the table with her cane. “You’re getting married. And that is that. I already have your tux bought and paid for.”

He shrunk in his chair. “Fine, but I want it noted that I do this under protest.”

“Of course, dear, of course.”

**********

“Why are you doing this again?” Jaime asked. Brienne wanted to smack him. It was the sixth time in the past twenty-four hours.

“I told you, I'm tired of being alone. If this program can help, then I would like to try.”

“I don't like it,” he said, pouting as he ate the gluten free cookies she had made. They were for her father, but Jaime always ate (more like stole) whatever she made, so he got a separate box. “But the cookies are good.”

She was meeting with the wedding planner in half an hour. All the women were getting a certain amount of input in the shared wedding space, and it was the planner’s job to make it all work seamlessly. It made sense, since it was a local tv show, and the budget was taken on by the tv station, though they were allowed to add in things (within reason) at their own expense. Her father had reservations about the entire thing, but promised to be there for her. “Well, then it's a good thing you get to keep the cookies and you didn't sign up for the program,” she said, shoving the box at him.

“Yeah...good thing…” he muttered.

**********

“Uncle, I promise this will be fine. I’ll pick you up after work, and we can go pick out tuxedos. Yes, I know, it's crazy, but I think it will be for the best. You know how I get around females. And we’ll be living right next door to you, if she agrees on it, so if she turns out to be a psycho murderer, you can come save me.”

Podrick looked at his uncle with a small smile. Ilyn shook his head and waved his nephew off, signing “good luck, you moron.”

“Thanks, Uncle. I'll see you after work.”

**********

“Are you sure about this, man? Seems a bit extreme, even for you.” They had both gotten their notices.

“Says the guy who signed up with me.”

Bronn shrugged. “I was just trying to support you. I honestly didn't think they'd pick me.” Sandor really wanted to punch his friend. Bronn needed no help with the ladies, so his show of support was laughable. Bronn sighed and leaned over the table, looking melancholy. “Still...coming home to one woman, to have and to hold, have a family with...it sounds nice.”

Sandor raised an eyebrow. He supposed he could hold off on the punching for a little while.

**********

Lollys sat in the parking lot of the nursing home she worked at, staring at the instructions in her hands. One week from today, she would get married to someone she had never met. Her mother was the one who signed her up for it initially, but in the end, Lollys had agreed and gone through with the massive surveys and the numerous interviews. She was thirty-five years old and still very dependent upon her mother, though she was just as dependent on Lollys. Sure, she was able to take care of her ailing mother, help with household expenses, and of course she loved her mother, but surely there could be more. A family of her own, a husband, grandchildren. The cats lived like kings under her mother’s roof, surrogates for grandchildren. It was a nice dream. One day, possibly soon, her mother would pass on, Falyse would inherit the house and kick her out.

Oberyn and Ros were kind enough to sign up with her, though only Oberyn had been picked. Ros had breathed a sigh of relief when her letter came in. Lollys loved Ros like a sister, but even she knew her friend wasn't ready to settle down.

Her phone buzzed. It was Oberyn, asking her if she was ready to go lingerie shopping for married life. Smiling, she responded she’d meet him in forty-five minutes. Throwing her car into drive, she wondered what kind of person Oberyn would marry. Someone kind, and sweet. That’s the sort of person he needs.

**********

“This is stupid. I don't even want her back,” Joffrey complained.

“Your father and I have agreed, this is what's best for you. Ned told Robert that she’s signed up to participate in a tv program, so I signed you up too. Of course you were chosen, and this will show the little ingrate that you two are perfect together. Sansa Stark may be a dimwit, but she'll be a good wife and will help with your future political career. I’ve also paid a pretty penny to make sure the two of you get matched up.”

“Ugh… Still…”

“Darling, you can always visit your ‘friends’ if she dissatisfies you,” Cersei cajoled.

“Fine, whatever.”

Chapter Text

Pod stood at the altar set up in the studio. The septon for “Married & Scarried” smiled kindly, but there was also a sort of pity that was making Pod nervous. The septon knew who to expect as the paperwork had to be drawn up beforehand. He fidgeted as he waited. The door behind him opened and he could barely hear the footsteps of his bride. She took her place next to him, the thick lace veil obscuring her face from his vision, and the septon raised his hand to bless them and begin the shortened, yet still valid, ceremony.

“We gather here in the sight of the gods to join this two people in holy matrimony. We ask that they be blessed in their union, and have a bountiful relationship that makes this world a better place. Do you, Podrick Odysseus Payne, take Arya Lyanna Stark as your wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”

His heart thumped loudly in his chest as he said, “I do.”

“And do you, Arya Lyanna Stark, take Podrick Odysseus Payne as your husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”

“I do,” his bride boldly said. He envied the fact that she seemed so calm and self assured.

“Then in the name of the Mother and the Father, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride...”

**********

Arya lifted her veil before her husband could do it. She was already having doubts and it helped her to have a little bit of control. Brown cow eyes met her grey ones as she grabbed her groom by the collar and smushed her lips against his. It was not the least bit romantic, but her husband had a dopey grin on his face when she pulled away. Oh, great. He's an idiot. At least he’s cute.

**********

Margaery smiled as she approached the altar. Loras had done his job. He had asked her if she was sure she wanted the match, and she had assured him that she did. They would be the perfect couple. It was a pity the veil hid her face from the few people here, and she could barely see where she was going.

The ceremony was too short for her tastes, and her dress was much too plain with only twenty thousand beads instead of the seventy thousand one which wouldn’t have been ready in time, but that didn’t matter, since the groom was top of the line. She said the words, a sly smile when he said his, and then he was lifting her veil to kiss her.

“Shall we, Mrs. Baratheon?” Joffrey asked, smiling broadly. He’s pleased by me. Excellent.

“We shall, Mr. Baratheon,” she replied, following him out of the makeshift chapel. They were greeted by his family first, and the look of shock on her new mother-in-law’s face was worth the favors she owed to Loras for hacking the tv show’s computers.

**********

Joffrey was shocked when it wasn’t Sansa’s name said by the septon, but when he lifted the veil, he was pleasantly surprised. She wasn’t as pretty as Sansa, but that grin she was giving him made him think she just might be more fun.

Her dress was incredibly sexy and more than a lot revealing. Oh yeah, way more fun than Sansa the prude.

**********

“Do you, Jaime--”

“Jaime?!” Brienne exclaimed, pulling off the veil. Jaime gave her a sheepish grin.

“Well, what did you expect me to do? Just leave you to the wolves?” he asked, rubbing the back of his head with his still recovering hand. “Come on, wench. You signed the contract, same as me. Just say ‘I do’ already.”

Brienne grumbled, her honor and her irritation at Jaime warring with one another.

“Shall I keep going?” the septon asked.

Jaime saw her clench her jaw. His heart skipped a beat when she said, “Yes, please continue,” even though she was glaring at him the entire time.

**********

She was going to kill Jaime. How he managed to get himself matched to her, she had no idea. Was the selection pool really so small?

And yet...a small part of her was relieved. She had been more terrified than she thought she would be as she stood in line, getting ready to walk down the aisle. Her father would have a good laugh about this, had been asking Brienne when she was going to get around to marrying “that nice Lannister boy”. That had been the real reason he had been disappointed she had signed up for this program. He had wanted to see her live happily ever after with Jaime.

At least with Jaime, she knew where she stood. “You may kiss the bride, but please note that you don’t have to if you feel uncomfortable--” Brienne leaned over and kissed Jaime on the forehead. If she didn’t kiss him at all, he’d just pout and a pouty Jaime was more annoying than a hyper Jaime.

**********

Bronn was worried. His bride was late. Did she change her mind? I know I’m not the best looking guy in the bunch, but I’m not butt ugly either. It was unnerving to see not just one, but two Lannister men in the men’s waiting area. Uncle and nephew, it turned out, though the younger one was actually a Baratheon, and both of them were surprised to see the other. The younger one had jeered that he hoped his elderly uncle wouldn’t make his new wife a widow too soon. The older one responded that he hoped his new niece had the patience to search for hard to find things in order to find marital bliss. That made the younger one turn a decent shade of red and he probably would have started yelling if the set assistant hadn’t come out and told them all that they would begin soon.

Five minutes late. What could be keeping her? The door finally opened, and his bride hurried down the aisle to stand next to him. She was out of breath, a bit on the chubby side, though her curves were in all the right places, and her veil was slightly askew. “Forgive me, I was too nervous, but I am ready now!” she said.

She winced as the septon smiled kindly and Bronn got the impression he wanted to pat the girl on the head like she were a ungainly child. The look he gave Bronn was infuriating, as if he felt sorry for him. Both he and his bride were taking a huge step that required courage and he did not appreciate this man’s attitude. Bronn looked at him coldly, a glare that had frozen tougher men than this fat septon. “We’re ready to start now.”

“Oh...o-of course,” the septon stammered.

When the septon declared that he could kiss the bride, Bronn threw her veil off and dipped her backward, kissing her deeply. His little wife made such cute noises in her flustered state and clung tightly to him. He finally stepped back, setting her back on her feet and he saw her for the first time. His wife was adorable.

**********

She was falling backwards as her husband unveiled her and kissed her fiercely. Oh… Oh! She had never felt like this. No one had ever wanted to kiss her like this. His tongue was in her mouth. Her mouth! He was so strong to be able to hold her like this. She was clinging to him, scared of falling to the ground, and she could feel the solid muscle beneath his suit. It was comforting, and she decided she liked being held by him.

When he pulled away from her and she was standing upright again, she realized that he was staring, his mouth open a little. She became nervous, knowing she wasn’t the most beautiful woman, and he hadn’t really looked at her before kissing her. She wanted him to like her, to want her, to kiss her again. There was a knot in her stomach as he continued to stare and she thought she just might cry.

A smile blossomed on his face. “Hello, little wife,” he said, his voice smooth like velvet. The knot dissolved, and he lead her out of the chapel.

**********

Sansa watched the fourth wedding on the screen, standing next to the final bride, though she hadn’t said anything at all while they waited and she hadn’t even tried to move her veil. The fourth bride, Lollys, seemed very sweet, and though she had had a panic attack that forced Sansa to take off both of their veils, she had calmed down and been able to join her groom. Now, said groom was dipping his bride like they were tango dancers from Dorne and kissing her passionately. It was inspiring and made Sansa smile.

The stage manager, a lovely woman named Usagi, hurried into the room. “I’m so sorry, Ms. Stark. It seems a small detail was overlooked for your marriage. We’ve rearranged the order. You may go out first, dear,” she said to the last bride, who was wearing a tuxedo instead of a dress and using a cane to walk. The tallest bride had also been wearing a tuxedo, and Arya had been jealous that she hadn’t thought to wear one. The veiled woman bowed and headed out the door.

“Oh, does that mean…I’m not…” she said nervously. After all the argument she had given her mother, to have it fall apart now would be utterly awful.

“Oh! No, no, not at all, nothing like that. Actually, the groom asked me to deliver this to you,” she handed a small card to Sansa. “I’m supposed to read it first, but time is of the essence, and I honestly feel wrong reading a message between a bride and groom.”

Sansa nodded and opened the sealed envelope. The card was a simple one, with a photo of a dog on the front. She opened it and began to read.

Dear wife-to-be,

I don’t know what circumstances brought you to this program, but I--

Parts of it were marked out, as if he had changed his mind about what he wanted to say.

I just want to say that I look forward to meeting you, but I do not want you to be alarmed. I have never been considered handsome in any sense of the word, and I have some very bad really awful downright horrible scarring on one side of my face. I am honest with myself that no matter how much someone says “looks don’t matter”, it usually does. I will understand if you wish to back out.

Sincerely, your (hopefully) husband-to-be

She stared at the card. Was he serious? Back out now?! She rolled and stuffed the card into her bouquet before turning to Usagi. “What happens if I or my groom decided to back out right now?”

“What? Oh, well, you won’t face a penalty, if you did, and we would get another couple in to replace you two.”

“Wait...so if I don’t go out there, he won’t be able to either?” she asked. “And vice versa?”

“Well, no. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to tell you this, but he only had one good match in the data pool. You. And it was a ninety-seven percent match at that. The second highest we’ve ever seen.”

“Ni-ninety- seven?!”

“Sshhhh! You’re not supposed to find out until later. But yes. You have other matches, the next one being at sixty-three percent, I believe, so you can try again. He hasn’t seen you, and doesn’t have to know why you backed out, if that’s what you want.” Usagi looked out the window. “You have a few minutes left to decided.”

Sansa looked at the veil in her hands. Abandon someone because of how they look? That was precisely the opposite of the whole point of doing this, of marrying a complete stranger. Abandon him before she met him? She suddenly thought of Joffrey, and why he refused to acknowledge the break up with her for the longest time. Was that really any better than staying with someone because they look good on your arm? Her conviction came raring to the forefront again. It wasn’t even a question. She’d show him how committed she was, the only way she could.

“No.”

“No?” Usagi turned back towards her.

She cleared her throat, feeling anything but confident. “No, I don’t need a few minutes. I made a commitment to him when I signed the contract. It was just a hypothetical question. Nervousness, I suppose. And if it shouldn’t work out...we don’t have to stay married, though I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Sansa said, pressing the tips of her index fingers together nervously.

Usagi smiled at her. “I’m sure you two will do fine. You remind me of my friend and her husband. Ah, it’s your turn, my dear.”

Sansa took a deep breath, adjusted her veil and picked up her bouquet again. The walk to the altar was less nerve wracking than she expected. She knew the camera was directly behind the altar and the septon, but she could barely make out the general shape of it from that distance. The septon looked like he had seen a ghost and was visibly shaking. As she stood next to her groom, she took a peek at him. He was tall. Really tall. And wide. Very muscular. His features were difficult to make out, but if she tilted her head a bit and looked down, she could see his hand from beneath the veil. It was clenched in a fist as the septon began speaking. Is he angry? Nervous? She knew it couldn’t be at her, since they had just met. Whatever it was, and despite how they came to be together, she didn’t want him having negative emotions during their wedding. Tentatively, she reached out and touched his fist. He was startled, but allowed her to unfurl his fingers and take his hand in her own. She squeezed his hand in what she hoped was comfort, and didn’t let go until it was time for him to unveil and kiss her. Ninety-seven percent. That has to count for something! she thought as her blue eyes met his grey ones for the first time, and she smiled, shy and nervous as she greeted her husband.

**********

The septon kept glancing at him in alarm. Sandor was used to those sorts of looks, but he was already nervous, regretting sending that note to his bride, and those looks were bringing back the anger he swore he wouldn’t show his wife. Assuming she didn’t run for the hills after reading his note. What if she does back out? Should have kept my mouth shut. Or my pen still. Whatever.

The holy man glanced up at him yet again. “Stare at me any longer and I’ll rip your fucking cock off,” Sandor snarled at him. The man looked like he was about to faint, but the door opened, and his bride approached. On one hand, he felt relieved, but on the other, he was still incredibly nervous. What if she didn’t get the note after all? What if she recoils as soon as she sees me? His hands were clenched from his anxiety as the septon began to stutter the ceremonial words.

FuckfuckfuckfuckIcan’tdothisIcan’tdothisIcan’t--

A cool sensation on his fist had him glancing down. It was her. She was touching his hand, her tranquillity seeping into him. She unclenched his fist with gentle firmness and held his hand, squeezing it lightly. It was like she was saying, We’re in this together. Don’t worry. He somehow managed to calm down and say the words required of him. She repeated the same words, much more lyrically than he ever could.

“You may kiss the bride, but please note that you don’t have to if you feel uncomfortable doing so just yet,” the septon said.

Might as well see her, at least. He swallowed nervously as he turned to her and lifted her veil. Eyes the color of the sky met his, perfect ivory skin, a luscious mouth that was drawn into a gentle smile. She’s...she’s gorgeous… He couldn’t move, but she brought her hand to the back of his neck and pulled him down, meeting his lips with hers. It was chaste, chaster than chaste, but it set his brain to overload.

“Shall we? Husband? Sandor?” she asked, her cheeks turning pink. She was smiling and staring him in the eyes. Purposely looking at him, and not at his scars.

Well, I’m fucked.

**********

This has to be a mistake, Willas thought. Somehow, he had been grouped with the women. Margaery had been there, but Willas’ efforts to get her attention had been shushed rather vehemently. The set assistants had told him to wait until after. Surely… Surely this is a mistake and they’ll come get me. He kept thinking that as he walked down the aisle, the second “bride” to be wearing a suit. He kept thinking that as the septon eyed him and started the ceremony. He kept thinking that even as he said, “I do,” (it was only polite, after all, and this mistake would be sorted soon enough) and his veil was raised to reveal him to one of the most handsome men he had ever seen.

“My dear boy, you are even more marvelous than I expected,” the man purred. Oberyn, the septon had called him. Why do I know that name? My husband... Oberyn. Or am I the husband? Wait...but I’m not gay!!

**********

Oberyn was probably the least nervous out of all the men gathered in the small room. The young Baratheon was the next least nervous, at least until he and his uncle started trading barbs. Next would be the Lannister. Then the panther man. He was too amused by young Baratheon and Lannister. On the other end of the spectrum, the other young man was fidgeting something horrible. He was the first to be called. The scarred man was also nervous. Oberyn was tempted to try to calm him, but the man’s aura was one that did not want to be approached. Hopefully his bride can calm his nerves. He watched with fascination as the scarred man pulled a set assistant, Rei, to the side and asked her something, handing her an envelope. She shrugged and handed it off to another assistant, a tall brunette with emerald eyes, who whisked the envelope away. When it came time for the scarred man to walk to the altar, Rei directed Oberyn instead.

“There’s a small issue that needs to be resolved, you’re going next,” was all she said. He wasn’t opposed to the change, though he was curious about the envelope and if it had anything to do with it. He stood in front of the septon and was soon joined by his “bride”, a man using a cane. He was only mildly surprised. All the previous brides were female, so it was amusing that it was a man standing next to him. Oh, but he was a lovely specimen. Delicate cheekbones, light brown curls, pouty lips that Oberyn hoped to be nibbling on sooner rather than later.

“My dear boy, you are even more marvelous than I expected,” he said with a smile.

“I’m not gay!” was the first thing out of the sweet boy’s mouth. Ah, denial. I can work with that.

“Of course not, sweet Willas. But we do have the show to participate in. We will be good friends, you and I.” Oberyn guided him to the exit, where their family would be waiting for them.

“Oh. Alright! I do enjoy making new friends.” He smiled brilliantly at Oberyn and Oberyn’s heart did a little skip.

I do believe I am smitten.

Chapter Text

Her husband was a bit simple. She'd even go so far as to say he was stupid. Arya wanted to wipe that happy little smile right off his dumb, cute face. It was making her uncomfortable, but that would be a bad start to their marriage and she somehow managed to refrain from doing so. He was nice, though. Not a bad kisser either, as far as smushing lips were concerned. And he moved well, if a bit clumsy. They were in the receiving area, where all the newlyweds could mingle with their immediate families. She and “Pod” (what the fuck kind of nickname is Pod?!) were the first ones and her parents seemed to like him already. Robb was dubious about this entire thing and had skipped it. His wife Merry was here, at least, though she wouldn’t see her until they got to the reception area. Arya rather liked Merry and considered Robb’s marriage to her the best decision he had ever made. Bran and Rickon had school, but Jon and Ygritte were with Merry. Hot Pie had work, Lommy promised to try to make it, and Gendry...well, she hadn’t even told him.

Pod’s uncle was there as well. He was an odd man. Forget the part where he was a mute, he showed up in a kilt (though Pod said their family wasn’t Scottish) and one of those t-shirts that had a tuxedo printed on it. She was a little rusty with sign language, but she managed to speak a little with him. “You’re alright,” Pod’s uncle signed. “Be nice to my nephew. He’s a bit of a moron. Needs a woman with a good head on her shoulders.” Arya had laughed at that.

She had been disgusted to see that Cersei was in the family section, and she wondered who she was here for. Surely not Prince Rat Face!

Oh. Damn. It IS for Prince Rat Face, she thought as Joffrey exited the chapel area. His wife was very pretty. Not as pretty as Sansa, of course, but hardly anyone was that pretty. Joffrey's wife was looking smugly at Cersei and Cersei was turning some very interesting shades of red. A man that looked an awful lot like Joffrey’s wife was off to the side, watching the situation like Arya was, but much more amused.

Uncle Robert wasn't around, so she couldn't use him as an excuse to be nosy. Even her father looked uneasy about approaching Cersei. Tyrion wasn’t around either, which was too bad, since he was pretty damn cool in general, even if he was old. She half-listened to Pod telling her father about his job. She’d have to ask him about it later. He was holding her hand. Why was he holding her hand? Maybe this was a bad idea. It’s kind of nice, but...oh, this was probably a bad idea...

She was distracted by the next couple coming out, an angry androgynous woman in a sharp looking white suit and a sheepish man who looked suspiciously like an older (and better looking) version of Joffrey. “Jaime?!” Cersei screeched. Joffrey snickered and sat back to watch the fireworks as his mother and uncle had a very heated argument. From what Arya could gather, Jaime had just gotten married to the “ugly brute of a woman” called Brienne, who seemed to know Cersei and was refraining from punching her, though only because the extremely tall, older gentleman who had the same blue eyes as Brienne was holding onto her wrist. Punching Cersei was something Arya had wanted to do for a very long time. So far, Brienne was aces in Arya’s book. The argument nearly came to blows between Jaime and Cersei as the next couple exited the “chapel”.

The man was in his mid-thirties, at the most, and so was his wife, who looked very dazed as the man guided her carefully through the crowd. A much older woman was jumping up and down a little, clapping her hands like a two-year-old, as she greeted them. “Oh, Lollys, I’m so proud of you!”

“Mother...please…don’t overexert yourself,” the woman, Lollys, said. She looked embarrassed, but happy. “This is Bronn. My husband. My…” She looked up at him and smiled. “Husband.”

“Yes, wife?” Bronn said with a grin.

“Nothing, just...saying it.” Arya was pretty sure Lollys’ mother was going to pass out from excitement.

“Say it all you want, love,” Bronn said, kissing her forehead affectionately.

Hmm...lovely. I think I’m going to get a toothache from how sweet those two are, she thought.

The next couple came out a few minutes later, raising more than a few eyebrows, and sending Joffrey’s bride into a snit.

“Willas! What the hell?! You were supposed to marry a woman!”

“I tried to tell you! But you kept shushing me!” Willas complained. He was wearing a white suit like Brienne. Not really surprising he got grouped with the women.

“THAT WAS YOU?!”

Joffrey looked annoyed by the entire thing and had started playing on his phone.

“Don’t worry, sweet boy, I’m sure it will all work itself out. In the meantime, why don’t we get to know each other better, yes? I’m sure we’ll be good friends.” The Dornishman was not looking at Willas like a friend, Arya noted. Willas brightened up at that. He is sooooooo getting buggered. Two beautiful Dornishwomen approached them. “Ah, sweet Willas, please let me introduce my sister Elia and her paramour, Ellaria.”

Arya turned away, looking around the room in concern. Sansa had yet to emerge with her husband. It was worrisome. She had thought Sansa was fifth in line, not this Willas person. And it’s not like she’d be the one to back out. She’s the one most committed to this.

“What’s wrong?” She turned to the speaker, her husband Pod. How had he known?

“My sister. She was one of the other brides, but she hasn’t come out yet. Think something went wrong?”

“Hmmm…” Pod looked around at the other couples. He hadn’t been paying that close attention before, but he looked at everyone intently. “Oh. OOOHHHH!”

“What?” she asked. Her parents were looking nervously at the phone in her father’s hand and weren’t paying attention to either her or Pod.

“Uh, well, that is…”

“Spit it out!”

He winced. “There was this one dude in there... huge, scary, would not want to meet him in a dark alley sort of dude. He’s the only one missing.”

“Well, shit,” she said, soft, but Pod heard her.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. The interview process is rigorous, they wouldn’t let any psychos in here.”

“They let Joffrey in. I’m not entirely confident in their vetting process right now,” she said, heavy on the sarcasm.

Finally, the doors opened and out came Sansa, looking very nervous, but with just a hint of happiness, possibly accomplishment. She was holding onto the hand of one of the largest men Arya had ever seen. They both looked like they weren’t sure how one was supposed to hold hands and it was rather awkward. Sansa was taller than every woman in the room except Brienne, and this dude was taller than Brienne! Almost as tall as the old dude with Brienne. He was ugly, too, with long hair that tried (and failed) to hide horrible scars. Half his face looked like it had been through a meat grinder, then slapped back on and not allowed to heal properly. At least he looks like he can protect her, just so long as he never turns on her. They exchanged a few words, Sansa still looking nervous and the big dude looking guarded. It was almost as if he was actually afraid of her wimp of a sister. Good. Better stay that way.

They walked towards the Bronn fellow first, a few more words exchanged, and the giant greeted Lollys formally. Lollys looked ready to jump a mile high when the big dude bowed to her. Lollys curtseyed to him, still nervous, but polite. They headed over towards Arya next, but Joffrey cut them off.

“Well, if it isn’t little miss prude?” he sneered at Sansa. “Guess you got what you deserved.” He looked the giant up and down, but the giant looked rather unimpressed. Most people who had any sense could see how unimpressive Joffrey really was. The giant was alright. For now.

“Joffrey, this is Sandor Clegane, my husband. Sandor, this is Joffrey Baratheon.” Arya admired how steady and chilled Sansa’s voice was as she spoke to Joffrey. The two had not parted on the best of terms and Arya had threatened to geld Sansa’s ex-boyfriend at least twice a day for the three months after that.

“Clegane? Isn’t that the name of that serial killer from, what, a decade ago? You wouldn’t happen to be related to him, would you?” Joffrey asked. Why did his tone always sound malicious?

Arya noted the slight change in Clegane. It was like a wall had gone up, one that was heavily armed and the slightest provocation would bring down war. Sansa seemed to notice it, too. She was good about stuff like that.

“Well, it was very nice chatting with you, but I can see my parents are anxious to meet Sandor, and I don’t want to keep them waiting.” She gave a slight nod to Joffrey and practically dragged Clegane away. “Ugh, I cannot stand him,” she heard Sansa mutter as she approached. Her face was dark and moody, like the old broken Sansa.

“Who was that?” Clegane asked. His voice was gruff, like he was smoker who quit too late. Arya took another look at the scars on his face. Maybe he didn’t have a choice in the matter, she thought.

“I’ll tell you later, I promise.” Sansa turned to Arya, all smiles and sunshine again. “How’d yours go? Is this him?”

Arya waved at Pod, “This is Pod. Pod, this is my sister and her giant husband.”

“Watch it, pipsqueak. Giants step on little annoying things.” He almost sounded like he meant it, but if he wanted to stay on Sansa's good side, and on Arya's for that matter, he'd soon learn his place.

“Nice to meet you, Pod,” Sansa said, shaking his hand.

“Nice to meet you, too,” Pod replied. “And you as well…”

“Sandor,” the giant said. “Sandor Clegane.”

“We should go meet my parents,” Sansa told him. “I just saw them a minute ago…”

“They had to step out for a moment,” Pod said. “Um, your brother called them, I think? Something about the plant?”

“Ah,” Sansa said, understanding completely. Both Pod and Sandor were confused but neither sister informed them. Mom is going to freak when she sees this guy.

“So aren't you a bit old for my sister?” Arya asked the giant.

“Arya!”

The giant looked down at Sansa. “How old are you, anyway?”

“Twenty-four,” she said, a bit embarrassed. “You?”

“Thirty-three. Nine years. You bothered by that?”

“Not really.”

The giant turned back to her and said, “Guess I'm not too old for her then.”

Arya just glared at him.

“I'm twenty-two,” Pod said out of nowhere.

“Oh, same age as Arya,” her sister said very not helpfully.

“What month?” Pod asked, a dopey smile on his face.

“She’s August the eighth.” Did Sansa ever shut up?

“I'm June third,” he said to her, as if she had been engaging him in conversation instead of Sansa.

“Terrific.” She felt so awkward.

“Oh! There's Mom and Dad.” Sansa pulled the giant away, the anxiety on his face growing more apparent. Arya watched in fascination. Her mother's jaw actually dropped, though her father was pretty chill about the entire thing. Arya could see the giant relax a bit as he spoke with Ned. Catelyn pulled Sansa to the side and was speaking violently to Sansa, casting glances that did not go unnoticed by the giant. Sansa looked like she was having a hard time getting a word in edgewise, much less able to defend her new husband. How she could possibly defend a guy like that, Arya had no clue, but Sansa did have the ability to find the good in anyone, if there was any to begin with.

“He seems nervous,” Pod commented, also watching her sister and the giant.

“Like you weren't?” That had actually been amusing, even if she hadn’t been paying close attention, and she graced him with a smile.

Pod laughed. “It's easier watching someone else go through it, I guess.”

He has a nice smile. And laugh. I wonder...I should ask him... Arya was about to ask more about himself, when Minako, the producer and host of the show, came in, clapping her hands to get everyone’s attention. A cameraman with long silver hair and grey eyes was following her around. He was monstrously tall compared to her, but she was almost as short as Arya. She hated that Sansa got the Tully height, while Arya was stuck at just barely more than five feet tall. At least Sansa didn’t lord it over her, not like their brothers, damn them… Even Rickon was taller than her!

“Alright, everyone, let's move on to the reception area. There's a very nice party waiting for you! As well as more of your family and friends,” she said, directing everyone to the next room.

Arya followed Pod, who was still holding her hand. She only half-minded. He had a nice presence, gentle and soothing, and she suspected he gave nice hugs. Gendry gave good hugs though, so Pod would need to give great hugs.

When they entered the reception hall, Arya's eyebrows shot up. She had been expecting a quaint dinner, but this looked (and sounded) more like a club, and there were way more people than she expected.

Minako was just as shocked. “B-but...this isn't…”

An older woman with a cane stepped forward, “Oh, yes, it was quite nice, dear, but not what a Tyrell should have for their wedding.” The woman gave Minako a smile that was more amused than sympathetic. “I took the liberty of having things upgraded. Don't worry, dear, this is simply a gift to my grandchildren. No out of pocket expenses for you or your little show.”

“Thank you, grandmother!” the bride of Joffrey exclaimed, hugging the old woman. “I'm sure we'll all have such great fun!”

“I’m so glad you like it, dear. Now, where is Willas and his new wife?”

Arya almost wanted to stick around for that reaction, but some wait staff began to guide each couple to a long line of tables, each set up specially for one couple, with little trinkets that represented them. Her table had pictures of her as a kid next to pictures of Pod as a kid (there was no mistaking that face), as well the flowers she had said she liked, and some items representing her. She smiled when she saw the two miniature fencing foils in the middle of the table, crossed over each other.

Sansa and the giant were put on the other side of the room, while the Brienne woman was placed next to Arya. The Bronn guy was next to Pod. The music was too loud to hold much conversation, but she did try with Brienne and Pod. At least their wedding lunch was good. And that cake, gods, it was like heaven in her mouth. They had been forced to kiss again for the crowds of people (she was now pretty sure most of them were here for the Tyrell chick), though the Dornishman and Willas muddled through it by the Dornishman kissing Willas’ hand. Pod had that dopey smile on his face again. She felt like smiling a little as well, just a smidge.

It irked her that the Tyrell girl was acting like she was the only bride there, being seated in the middle (the line of tables were off center in order to accomplish this), but at the same time, she was ok not being in the spotlight. It was almost a relief when Sansa came up to her and asked if she wanted to dance.

“Sandor doesn't feel comfortable dancing in front of all these people, but he doesn't want me to miss out either,” Sansa yelled over the music. How considerate, Arya thought wryly. He's probably a shit dancer. Sansa continued to yell, “I was thinking all the brides could dance together for a song or two. Have some fun?” It sounded fantastic to Arya.

Brienne was down with that. So were Lollys and Willas, after being prompted by his “husband”. Only the Tyrell girl turned them down. She was sucking face with Joffrey (so gross), practically giving him a lap dance, and would dance later. That was fine by Arya. Anyone that into Prince Rat Face was probably deranged.

Willas wasn't that bad of a dancer, Lollys was shit, but she was still fun, and Brienne was awesome. Even better than Arya, who was a regular at the community dance hall. She had to admit she actually liked all the other wives, minus the deranged one. Was Willas supposed to be considered a wife? For the purposes of the show, I guess, but it seems stupid. We're all equals, aren't we? Fuck tradition. Life partners. Much better than “husband and wife”. Let's see, I shall dub us LPAS. The other group with Pod and the giant will be LPWS. Life Partners Awesome Sauce and Life Partners Weak Sauce. It amused her to no end, even if Pod wasn’t really weak sauce. At least, she didn’t think he was, but she didn’t know him yet either.

The party was winding down, and the last dance of the night was reserved for the newlyweds. She didn't know even half the people there, but everyone held hands and gathered around the six couples as a way of saying “we support your dumbass decision to marry a total stranger.” At least Sansa looked happy. She must be in heaven with all this girly shit. Arya was keeping Pod at a distance, an invisible balloon in between them like the septas at St. Balor’s School For Girls had taught her. After the dance, they would be whisked off to their joint honeymoon.

It was nearly dinnertime when they arrived at the airport, and Arya was starving by the time they got on the plane two hours later. It struck her as really odd that all six couples were being sent on one honeymoon, but she supposed it was cheaper than six different locations. Their luggage was waiting for them, already on the plane. She ignored the covert camera people traveling with them as best she could, but she couldn't ignore the buzzing of her phone. Pod was setting their carry on bags in the overhead bin, so she took a moment check her messages. Fifteen. All from him.

Damnit, Gendry…

Gen: Arya. Stop being a jerk and just talk to me.

Gen: come on it's been a week since we last spoke. Been even longer since we fucked.

Gen: I know you haven't changed your number

Gen: you know we're getting back together eventually even if you are being more stubborn than usual

Gen: come on. Come over already. I'm horny. And you're always horny.

Gen: babe, seriously you ok?

Gen: hot pie says you're getting married today?!? Wtf Arya?!?!

Gen: who the fuck is he

Gen: babe

Gen: please answer. I'm really worried about you

Gen: I can't believe you sometimes. is this about our fight? that was six months ago!

Gen: I thought we talked about this

Gen: I thought we understood where we stand with each other

Gen: you know what. I don't care if you got married through some stupid tv show. Hot pie says it's a trial marriage? You won't last with whoever the fuck they paired you with and we'll get back together

Gen: come over whenever you need a good fucking. I'll be happy to oblige.

Gen: I know you still love me

She turned off her phone as Pod sat down next to her. No. No, I don’t. I don’t still love him. Maybe if she said it enough, it would become true.

“Everything ok?” Pod asked. Probably just being polite. She did appreciate that, just a bit.

“Yeah, just peachy.”

**********

Halfway through the flight, she had to get up to pee. The plane was mostly empty, damn red eye flights, and she could easily pick out the other couples. Prince Rat Face and Princess Deranged were disappearing into the lavatory (idiots) and she was half tempted to trap them in there.

She passed by Willas, who looked a bit green. He was being distracted by the Dornishman with talk of horses. Willas seemed to be enthralled by the conversation, a very cozy aura about the two of them, so Arya didn't interrupt.

That Brienne chick was sleeping, and her husband was reading a tourist guide for their destination, South Padre Island. A giant tourist guide. Where the hell did he manage to find that? He was making notes in the margins and sticking colored flags all over it. Arya really didn't want to get sucked into a conversation with him so she kept her eyes forward as she passed them. The short haired, blonde cameraman had fallen asleep in the row in front of them. Arya was tempted to hide his camera, just to see what happened, but the other five camera people were awake and would see her.  

Bronn was whispering with Lollys, thick as thieves, with slight laughter coming from both of them. Cozy. Again, it was not something to interrupt.

Sansa and the giant were in the back. She had taken the window seat, but was passed out, using his arm as a pillow and had what Arya assumed was the giant’s jacket tucked under her chin as a blanket. He was still awake, reading a tattered copy of something called Starship Troopers. Isn't that a movie? Must be one of those “we're trying to make more money” book adaptations. The seats in front of them were empty and Arya slid onto the one directly in front of the giant. She leaned her elbows on the headrest, giving him with her best glare. He was still unimpressed.

“What do you want?” he asked in a low voice, probably to not wake Sansa up.

“That's my sister.”

He raised the good eyebrow at her. “I am aware that you are related.”

“Be aware of this,” she spat at him, “you hurt her, in any way, and I will hunt you down and shove a knitting needle through your eye and out the back of your skull. Then I will take it out and do the same to your other eye. There is no place on earth that you can hide from me. I will find you, and I will kill you. Do you understand?”

The giant was mildly alarmed, but it faded too quick for Arya's liking. “Fair enough.”

Chapter Text

The hotel was rather nice, considering she was used to the Hilton Plaza, but it was still in the same brand. The plane had touched down in the nearby town of Brownsville, and a bus had taken them the rest of the way to South Padre Island. They were staying at the Hilton Garden Inn on the north side of the island town, and the view was just beautiful. They had arrived late (or early, depending on how you looked at it) and had been shown to their rooms. She stood on the balcony, letting the sea breeze caress her skin. Joffrey was showering, but he had been in there for the past half hour and should be out soon. The sun wouldn’t rise for a few more hours, and she intended to make the most of it. Their attempt at joining the mile high club earlier had been...less than successful. Anyone else might have called it disastrous, but Margaery was a glass half full kind of girl.

She had changed into a lacy corset and garters, wearing a thin, see through robe over it. Anyone who saw her would definitely get an eyeful, and the thought someone could be using her as wank cannon right at this very minute thrilled her. She thought she saw a curtain pull back from a room in the next hotel. Someone was definitely getting off on watching her. Maybe reward them with a little show? she thought, opening her robe slowly, her hands trailing up her torso and encircling her breasts, squeezing them gently as she formed her mouth into an “O”. Just because the peeper couldn't hear her didn't mean that they couldn't know she liked what she was doing. She could almost see whoever it was lean forward, their hand going down the front of their pants...

She heard the water shut off and hurried back into the hotel room. Turning down the lights, she jumped onto the bed and struck the most seductive pose she knew.

Joffrey exited the bathroom, with only a towel around his lanky hips.

“Well, hello, husband,” Margaery purred, her motor revved from giving the peep show. “Ready for round two?”

Joffrey grinned and discarded his towel.

**********

“Ah, sweet boy, would you like a backrub? You are still under the weather from the plane ride.”

He nodded and sat cross legged in front of his new friend. Oberyn was just so nice! He had been so patient during the time in the air, keeping Willas distracted from his air sickness. Who knew he would ever meet someone who was as enthusiastic about horses as he was! And when Willas was taking a shower, Oberyn had come in and scrubbed all the places on his body that he couldn’t reach. Of course, being a friend meant that Willas offered to do the same in return.

Ah, he has such strong hands. This feels really nice. Oberyn was kneading the muscles in his shoulders and back. He wondered if Oberyn worked out regularly, and what kind of workout he did to get such a nice body. Maybe we can workout together? He was painfully aware that his body type was more “sickly teen” than “lanky man”.

“If you remove your shirt, I will be able to apply this scented oil, really rub it into your muscles,” Oberyn said. “It is a special mix, just for relaxation.”

“Oh, of course! I can rub you as well, in return for this favor,” Willas offered.

Oberyn’s hands stilled on Willas’ shoulders, and, for a moment, Willas thought he had said something wrong.

“Well, if you are offering, my hips have been a bit tense lately,” he said softly in Willas’ ear.

“I would be happy to help you! We are friends, after all.”

“Of course, sweet boy. The best of friends.”

**********

Bronn loved his wife. His cute, adorable, shy, little wife. He was sure she had some flaws, and he would discover them at some point, but right now, she was in his arms, making the best noises as he taught her how a husband should love his wife on their wedding night. Not completely, however. She was delicate, and he didn’t want to bombard her with everything in one night. Just a taste for now, and a little more each day. Later, he would take her into the shower and love her in there. He planned on loving her right into the mile high club on the plane trip back home at the end of the week. But he would wait to actually fuck-- to make love to her. He wanted to save that for when she loved him back. She had affection for him, to be sure, and attraction, but she was cautious with her heart and he respected that. He didn’t want to push her too fast.

They had talked a lot on the plane. Her mother was the center of her world. She had a sister who wasn’t nice, and a brother-in-law who could use a set down. She loved animals, and had a pet cat named Knightly. She worked at the local hospital as a registered nurse, along with Dr. Martell, the Dornishman that married the pale man. They were apparently very good friends, along with another woman, a doctor from the gynecology department. She liked to read and take long walks at the park. She wanted to show him the pond where she liked to feed ducks.

He loved his wife already. Now he just needed to make sure she loved him back.

**********

Arya turned her phone off, choosing to set the hotel alarm clock instead. Gendry might try to call and she wanted to avoid that. Turning out the lights on her side of the room, and turning the temperature to downright chilly, she settled into the bed closest to the air conditioner. Pod was taking a shower. She could see the steam dancing in the light coming from the bathroom. He had asked if she was ok with him keeping the door ajar, since the steam buildup made it unbearable. She just shrugged and he had taken that as a “go ahead.” The scent of his body wash was filling the room with the forest. It was a nice scent, reminding her of her summers at her uncle’s cabin.

She wondered if she should call Gendry, just to beat him to the punch, but then nixed the idea. You just married another man. It is your wedding night, for cryin’ out loud. You should not be calling your ex-boyfriend. Even if it is to tell him to leave you alone. Better to move on. She felt guilty, but she missed him. She had been missing him for the past week, having cut herself off from him as soon as she found out she was picked to get married. If she spoke to him, she might have wavered, she might have told the show to go fuck itself, and she would have returned to him, the man she had loved for the better part of seven years, had dated for the past three, and ultimately had no future with. She didn’t want to remember, didn’t want to think about it at all, neither the good nor bad times. She was trying to move on, by force, if necessary.

At least her dowdy (and kind of cute) new husband wasn’t a horndog. He seemed to be respecting her boundaries, and had taken the other bed in the hotel room. She wished she could go to that next level with him, since she was attracted to him, but she didn’t think it would be fair to him if she still had feelings for Gendry.

She had a feeling at least three couples might be boning tonight. Prince Rat Face and Princess Deranged. Bronn and Lollys. Possibly Willas and Oberyn, though Oberyn might not go for actual penetration just yet. Jaime and Brienne were definitely not, considering the ice glares Brienne had been throwing at Jaime. He was charming, Arya would give him that, so he might get a cuddle, but nothing more than that. Would Sansa bone that giant of hers? Doubtful. Sansa tended to be the type to want to wait for the right moment. He might pressure her into it though. She was kind of a wimp, and had a hard time saying no to people. She decided to offer to stab the giant for Sansa, should such a thing happen. The water shut off, bringing her attention back to the present.

Pod is definitely not getting laid tonight. It wouldn’t be right. No matter how I feel physically. Gendry had been right about her being horny. She had been too stuck in her own head to do something about it when she showered earlier, but she figured she could take care of it once Pod fell asleep.

He stuck his head out the door. “Arya? Are you still awake?” he whispered. She made no sound. Let him believe I’m asleep already.

That was a bad idea. She realized this as soon as he exited the bathroom with only a towel on. On his head. She had a full view of the rest of him and her libido went into overdrive. Holy shit...what happened to my dowdy and dopey husband? He was ripped. Completely and utterly muscular from head to toe. What is he, like two percent body fat? Add in his adorably stupid face and she was hard pressed to say she wasn’t attracted to him. His clothing from the plane ride and from their wedding must have been horribly miscut for his figure because they had hidden every spectacular angle and made him look pudgy. Not that he wasn’t fuckable when she thought that, but now… The Warrior give her strength, how was she supposed to keep her distance now? Her mouth went a little dry as her eyes fell to his waistline, and then a little further. Fuck. Those hips are made for gripping with my thighs. I mean, not MY thighs, just...thighs in general. Her eyes fell a little lower and she bit her lip to keep from whimpering.

Pod turned the bathroom light off and crawled into his bed. Arya crawled in next to him about two seconds after that.

“Wha-- Arya?”

“Shut up. This is not because I love you or anything. In fact, we will not be mentioning this to anyone, not even each other. This is purely biological. This is because you’re a man, and I’m a woman, and as a married couple, we should be able to-- Forget this. Just fuck me, Pod. I’m really horny.”

**********

Sandor toweled his hair dry, watching his wife brush her hair out and plait it into a long braid. He wanted to kiss her. Badly. He knew it would be unwelcome and he still hadn't figured her out yet. She was nice, she was gorgeous, but she needed help finding a husband? And she seemed ok with him as her husband, hadn't recoiled or shied away from him, had actively sought to interact with him and seemed content when they danced that slow dance together. She was confusing the hell out of him.

She had fallen asleep almost immediately after takeoff, using him as her pillow. When she started to shiver, he had wrapped his jacket around her, and she had clung to it like a child to a security blanket. He had tried reading his favorite book, but the sensation of a warm, soft female body pressed up against his was not something he could easily ignore. She had been great, accommodating, more than polite. She constantly touched him. Her hand on his, her arm touching his arm. She seemed to genuinely enjoy his company and chattered about anything and everything she could think of. She was like a little bird that way. She had still been sleepy when they touched down in Brownsville, and he had ended up picking her up and carrying her off the plane. They had gotten a few “aawwww”s from some older women, and a glare from that blond cunt. What was his problem anyway? Sansa hadn’t had a chance to explain that one yet, and had chittered during the bus ride over to their hotel on South Padre Island about things he couldn’t understand, mostly because it was gibberish.

She had managed to wake up enough to walk through the hotel on her own power, though she had needed help with going in the right direction. Once they were in their room, she had proceeded to strip (just her shirt, but it was still more than he had thought he’d see for a while), then giggled when he averted his eyes and teased him that he had seen her so she should get to see him. Apparently, a sleepy Sansa was equivalent to a drunk person. She managed to get his shirt off and pin him down to the bed (he was frozen from fear by that point).

“Ah, you're so strong, husband,” she said, her voice slurring just a bit from sleepiness. “I bet you could lift me over your head like a barbell with no trouble at all.” He probably could, but he wasn't about to try it right now. She leaned over and nuzzled his chest hair. “So warm, too.” Strands of her auburn hair were tickling his neck.

“We should probably both take a shower,” he said, trying to not think about her showering. He was already having a difficult time with her straddling him. “It's been a long day.”

She lit up at that. “Oh! Yes, please. You can scrub my back. Then I'll scrub yours. Then...” Her voice trailed off but her grin said enough.

Fuck. She's going to be the death of me.

“I meant, you could shower first,” he said weakly.

“Oh. Not together?” She actually sounded disappointed, but he chalked that up to her sleepiness.

He breathed a sigh of relief that she wasn't going to press the issue. “No, little bird, not together.”

“Little bird?” she asked, cocking her head to the side like a confused sparrow.

“You chitter like one.” She went red from embarrassment, and started to move off of him. Even he, a novice at relationships, could tell it had struck a bad chord with her. He grabbed her arm to stop her. “Not in a bad way, I mean. It's just...it's not an insult.” He didn't know how to smooth it over. Bronn would. He was good with the words women wanted to hear. But Bronn wasn't Sansa's husband, he was and he was shit at it.

“You mean it?” she asked in a small voice. “I can... I can talk less…if you want…” He frowned at that. Something about the way she said it rubbed him the wrong way, but he couldn't place why.

“Nah, don't change. I'm just shi-- I'm bad at saying what I mean sometimes.” Must have been the right thing to say, because she lit back up.

“You were going to curse, weren't you?” she asked, smiling a little. He nodded, looking a little sheepish. She leaned down to press her body to his, hugging him as best she could. “If you tell me not to change, but then you change, doesn't that make you a bit of a hypocrite?”

“Didn't think you'd want to hear my foul language.”

She laughed, her cheek pressed to his chest. “It's fine. I mean, you couldn't possibly be any worse than my sister and youngest brother. So, don't edit yourself for me, ok? I want to get to know you, the real you.” She looked up at him, her chin digging into his sternum for a moment, then she pushed herself up far enough to kiss him. “If I wanted pretty words…” She trailed off. “I just want honesty, ok?”

“That I can do, little bird,” he said. It was a personal motto, but he wasn’t able to tell it to her. She kissed him again, then got up and headed to the bathroom. He lay there on the bed, willing his body to calm the fuck down. She doesn't really want to shower with you, or have sex with you, she's just inebriated by sleep. Calm down. You're sleeping in separate beds, and you can jerk off in the shower. See? Problem solved.

He had thought he would have a heart attack when she came out in nothing but a towel, but she mercifully kept it on until he was in the shower. By the time he got back out, she had changed into black pajama bottoms with green hearts all over them and a plain yellow t-shirt. Now they were sitting on separate beds, each finishing getting ready to go to sleep, him drying his hair and her braiding her hair.

“Good night, Sansa,” he said, flicking off the light on his side and settling under the covers. Exhaustion overtook him and he was asleep before he heard if she answered.

**********

She was going to kill Jaime. She truly was. They had gone to bed in separate beds. Brienne had made absolute sure of it. He, however, must have kept watch until he was sure she was asleep and then snuck into her bed. He was currently snuggled into her side, snoring loudly in her ear. That, and the sudden crash of thunder, had been enough to wake her from her deep sleep.

She tried waking him with no luck. She tried shoving him off the bed. His grip on her only tightened. She was sorely tempted to punch him in the nose, but that would probably make the snoring worse. She settled for covering his face with a pillow and saying a half-hearted prayer to the Mother that he not be smothered in his sleep.

Chapter Text

Joffrey woke painfully to the bright sun in his eyes. Neither he nor Margaery had closed the blinds after the phenomenal fucking last night. “Marge, close the blinds, will ya?”

She grumbled and rolled over, but did not get up. Her hair, so artfully styled for the previous day, was currently a rat’s nest, and her makeup was smudged, some of it on her pillow. He scowled at her and got up to close them himself. The clock said it was eleven in the morning. Too early for this shit, he thought. Marge had rolled over again, onto her front but her ass was high in the air. She wasn't wearing panties. She wasn't wearing anything, actually. Don't mind if I do, and I don't have to see her smudged face like this, he thought as he got onto the bed and kneeled behind her.

**********

Bronn slathered on the sunscreen, watching Lollys and Sansa play in the surf. His friend, Sandor, sat next to him, looking very sullen and put out. Lollys had run into Sansa at the breakfast the hotel provided to all guests, and on an impulse, invited Sansa and Sandor to join her and Bronn at the beach. Sandor was Bronn’s best friend, so she wanted to get to know him better, and Sansa seemed much nicer than Margaery, more approachable than Arya or Brienne, and more relatable than Willas, who just seemed very confused by everything going on.

“So how was your first night together?” she asked Sansa, feeling bold after her night with Bronn. The girl turned beet red. Lollys smiled at her. It must have been really good. She laughed and said, “Me, too! I couldn't believe how quickly I became comfortable with Bronn, but I am. We didn't go all the way, but we were still quite intimate with each other.” She smiled shyly. “It was really nice.”

Sansa gave her a small smile. “That's...that's so awesome for you, Lollys. Hey, did you check out what there is to do around here?”

Lollys grinned and launched into their plans for the day. They were having a pirate themed day, with lunch at a place called Blackbeard’s. She and Bronn had signed up for a dolphin watch tour later in the afternoon, and she couldn't wait for that. To end the day, there was a pirate ship dinner cruise for the evening, but it was leaving from Port Isabel, across the causeway on the mainland.

“There's some fishing tours available to, deep sea and bay, and nearly all the restaurants offer options to cook your catch, but I'm not sure I want to do that,” Lollys said. “There's also scuba diving tours, and a nude beach--”

“A nude beach?!” Sansa asked with a gasp.

“Oh, yeah, up in the northern part of the island. Um… let’s see… I believe you go to beach access six, and then drive about seven miles north? Maybe ten? There's this old buoy that's been decorated with shells and stuff that marks the beginning of the nude beach area. I overheard some ladies at breakfast talking about it, before I ran into you, and asked the front desk clerk. He said it's not very popular, since it's kind of hard to get to. Oh! Are you going to try to take Sandor?”

Sansa went red again. “Maybe, if he wants to… Fishing sounds fun, too. Don't know about going out on a boat though.”

“You can rent stuff to fish off the pier, I think,” Lollys said helpfully.

Sansa gave her a smile. Making new friends was easier than Lollys expected.

**********

Jaime was thrilled. His wench was thrilled. Willas and Oberyn were thrilled. Everything was thrilling! He stood at the front of the boat, “it's called the bow, Jaime,” and held his hands out like Rose did in the movie. Brienne held him up for a while, just like Jack, but her fair skin made her abandon him for the shade. She chatted with another passenger, a lady with two children, one of which needed “to go potty right NOW!” Brienne offered to hold the baby, really a three year old, while the harried mother attended to her older child. The woman was grateful, to say the least, and hurried to take the other child to the on board restroom. Willas and Oberyn were somewhere about, probably on the top deck.

Jaime watched Brienne with a tightness in his chest. The baby was perfect. Blond curls, greenish-blue eyes. Anyone who didn't know would assume it was Brienne's child. His and Brienne's child. He walked across the deck and sat with her. “Replacing me with a new man already?” he asked in mock distain. “I pity him, wench. He has large shoes to fill.”

“Jaime. Knock it off, he's going to think you're serious,” she said, cooing at the baby.

“He doesn't understand understand a word I'm saying.” He took his phone out and shot a selfie of the three of them. It would thoroughly freak Cersei out and Tyrion would love it. Brienne gave the camera a terrific side glance. Very Mom-ish.

“I'll have you know that Ollie is very intelligent. His mother says he is stacking blocks like a five year old.”

“I’ll bet.” He watched her play with the baby. “You’re gonna make a good mom.”

“Why? Because I can make a baby smile for five minutes? There’s more to being a mother than that you know,” she said with sarcasm.

“I know, but I mean…” What did he mean? It was just a feeling, to be honest. “Just call it a hunch. I think you’d be really good at it.”

“You’re just saying that so I’ll be in a good mood later and treat you to lunch.” She was grinning at him.

“Wench, you’re such a tease. You know I mean it.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she said, but she was still smiling.

**********

Pod couldn’t stop smiling. Arya had shaken her head at him quite a few times, but he caught her smiling a few times too. She had said they wouldn’t talk about what happened between them last night, and they hadn’t, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t think about. More like he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He had had sex before, and it had been good, great even. This...whatever was between them, it was on a completely different level. He wondered if she felt the same. She was a bit standoffish, but she didn’t dislike him, a definite plus. She had this soft side to her that she didn’t want anyone to see (he only saw it because he had woken up before her). She had stayed in his bed after sex, and she was a cuddler. He had not expected that. When she woke, the look in her eyes was so open, right before she was fully awake and her guard was up. He fell for her a little in that moment, just a bit, and he wanted her to be able to trust him enough to be like that when it was just the two of them. After their first day together, he knew two things for certain: she loved her family and was fiercely protective of her older sister. He knew she had threatened Sansa’s husband, but she also helped him, somehow. “My sister’s happiness is more important than my need to spill that man’s blood,” was all she said. He wasn’t sure how serious he should take her, but until she really did spill someone’s blood, he supposed he should take it with a grain of salt.

There were times when she just stared off into nothing, her mind a million miles away, but he needed only touch her shoulder or arm and she was back with him. There was something bothering her, that was clear. Her phone buzzed continuously throughout the day, and most of the messages were from her friends, asking for photos of their honeymoon, or of the two of them together. He let her direct how the photos should be posed. A few times, the messages earned a frown from her, and she’d quickly dismiss it without replying.

“You ok?”

She smiled at him from across the table, but it was a bit empty. “Peachy.”

They were eating at a local brewhouse, a real brewhouse that had vats behind the bar and seasonal ales. They also boasted to have the best pizza on the island, which he found odd, since when you think about an island and the beach, you think about seafood. He had been pleasantly surprised to see that they did have seafood, and even offered shrimp as a pizza topping. Not tiny shrimp either, these suckers had some weight to them.

“So, is there anything you wanted to do after lunch?”

She looked up at him, her glass of “speckled trout stout” halfway to her lips. Gods, she has such nice lips. He looked forward to being able to kissing her openly, but if she only allowed it under the cover of darkness, if at all, he’d take that. She was a guarded person, and that was something he could respect. Sure, he hoped there would be a repeat of last night, but he wasn’t expecting it.

“Um...not really. Fishing sounds kind of cool, but maybe in the evening?”

“You’ve been fishing before?”

She shrugged. “Not really. I used to spend time at my uncle’s cabin. He would fish, but I never really tried. I would bait the hooks, but I didn’t have the patience to sit there and wait for something to bite. I’d like to try again.  Maybe make a picnic dinner to go with it. But,” she took a sip of her stout, “that’s not until the evening. For this afternoon, I have no idea.”

He took a deep breath. He had noticed the stickers and patches on her stuff. If he was right, she was an animal lover. “Would you like to go see some turtles?”

She perked up. “Turtles?”

“Yeah, sea turtles. All sorts. There’s a rescue center a mile or two away. We could take the bus, or just walk there. It’s about half an hour.” He thumbed through the brochures he had picked up and handed her the one for the rescue center.

“A rescue-- They rescue turtles?” She looked the brochure over.

“Yeah, and rehabilitate them before releasing them back into the wild. They don’t have any releases scheduled while we’re here, but still cool.”

“Yeah, let’s do that,” she said, smiling at him. A real smile. He felt like a king.

**********

Oberyn watched his husband run around the deck of the boat. It had been a long day, but Oberyn wasn’t the least bit tired.

Willas had wanted to go to the beach and build a sandcastle. He had found a flyer about a local competition, and while they wouldn’t be around when it happened, he had gotten into the spirit of it. They had spent hours on the beach, with Oberyn stopping every so often to apply sunscreen to his fair Willas’ pale skin.

The man was just darling, almost childlike, but in a grownup sort of way. It was confusing. He kept denying that he was gay (or bisexual), but he was very open to hugging, cuddling, even some kissing, though only on the cheek for now. He even consented to sleeping in the same bed as Oberyn. He said he liked the scent of Oberyn’s aftershave. Oberyn was delighted by him, such purity, such innocence. Their first true kiss would be glorious.

After the beach, they had run into the beautifully strong Brienne and the strikingly handsome Jaime, who were going on a dolphin watch tour. They were down on the lower deck, while Oberyn and Willas had opted to go to up top. Later, they would all dine together at a lovely looking restaurant called Blackbeard’s. Lollys promised to give him a review of it after her lunch there. Oberyn was looking forward to it, and decided to wear a billowy white pirate shirt for dinner with their new friends.

“Oberyn! Look! Look!” Willas cried with extreme happiness. He was flailing his arms about, pointing at the dark shapes in the water that burst through the sidepath of the black and red vessel. “The dolphins! They’re riding in the waves the boat is making!”

A shrimping boat was not far off the starboard side, going at apparently a fast enough pace to create waves for the dolphins. “I believe it is called a ‘ship’, not a boat, if it is of that size, sweet Willas.”

“Is it? I wonder why that is?”

“Shall we find out? I hear there is a good library on this island. We can go tomorrow.” He caught Willas’ hat as the wind knocked it off his precious head.

“Oh, those are some really good reflexes,” Willas said in amazement, letting Oberyn secure the hat back on his head.

“Tai chi, dear boy. It’s very good for the body, the reflexes, the limberness.” Oberyn grinned as Willas went beet red and not from the sun.

**********

Sansa couldn’t face her husband. She was so embarrassed! She couldn’t believe she had made such a fool of herself in front of him. Of course he wouldn’t want to be intimate with her, they barely knew each other. He had fallen asleep before she had asked him if they would be sharing a bed or not, and in her sleepy state, she decided that it would be a good idea to slip into his bed. She had loved it. He was so warm and solid, comforting. She hadn’t even heard the storm that came in later that night. She felt safe with him. At least until he woke up and shoved her from the bed. He hadn’t said anything, just stared at her, his face unreadable. She had hit her head on the boxsprings of the other bed, but her ego was in more pain. She had hurriedly put on a light jacket and rushed out of there, trying to not cry. Fortunately, breakfast was already being served, and she had enjoyed a hearty omelet and biscuits after running into Lollys. She was feeling quite cheerful by the time Lollys invited her and Sandor to the beach and didn't think about whether it was a good idea or a bad one until she got back up to the room with the to-go breakfast bag and realized she had left her keycard inside.

Sandor opened the door after just one knock, like he had been waiting by the door for her.

“About this morning…” he started.

She felt the familiar burn of shame begin and she pushed past him into the room, handing him the breakfast bag as she did. “It's fine. I shouldn't have presumed... I won't do it again, if that's what you prefer.” She allowed herself a peek at him.

He looked chagrined, like he wanted to tell her it was ok for her to share his bed and sleep next to him and cuddle with him. Or maybe she was just projecting. She wanted to be with him. Even if it was just to sleep next to him at night. He was extremely cuddly, she had discovered, and she wanted more, but...he didn't say any of that. He didn’t say anything. Just nodded. Her heart felt like it was in a vice and she turned to her luggage, working on unpacking it into the dresser drawers.

“Lollys invited us to the beach. I said yes, but if you'd rather stay here, I'll make an excuse for you,” she said, trying to keep her voice even. Don't let them see you waver. Never let them see you cry. She could see his reflection in the tv screen out of the corner of her eye. He seemed to be struggling with the decision.

“I'll go.”

She wished she could feel happy that he wasn't going to beg off, that maybe he still wanted to spend time with her despite the morning upset, but the dread that had settled in her stomach wouldn't allow it. Ninety-seven percent...does it really count for anything?