“Kissed by fire, eh?”
Jon choked when the arm swung out of nowhere to wrap around his neck, reeling his struggling body back against someone’s solid chest.
"Didn’t know you were into me that way, pretty crow,” Tormund purred in his ear, sweat-soaked football uniform plastered uncomfortably against Jon’s fresh clothes. He’d just gotten off practice judging by the strong smell of dirt and artificial turf. Then Tormund pulled out a horrifyingly familiar-looking envelope from the general vicinity of his crotch and Jon’s stomach dropped into his balls.
Oh no. It couldn’t be—
“You wrote it in green crayon,” The massive ginger snickered behind him, whole body radiating heat like a furnace, “how fucking cute is that, Snow?”
Jon’s body reacted before his brain could catch on. He elbowed Tormund hard in the face and bolted out of the empty locker room. It was only later, safe and alone in his bedroom, that Jon realized the box containing the five letters he’d written to his various childhood crushes was missing.
The first letter he wrote to Ser Arthur Dayne.
He was a ‘ser’ because Jon’s father was royalty and most if not all of his dad’s bodyguards were knighted. Arthur always had an endless supply of candy for him, producing them from various suit pockets like a street magician, and always with that dazzling smile. He had been the one to take little eight-year-old Jon to his uncle Ned’s house when his parents finally decided to elope off to somewhere in South America. He could still remember that day, the way the corners of Arthur’s blue eyes crinkled as he smiled, his voice when he swore to Jon that his parents weren’t just abandoning him, that they loved him more than life itself. His parents wrote to him every year after that, and Jon had copied the address from the first postcard to arrive in the mailbox onto his letter to Arthur. Surely that one would go unread if somehow sent off.
Jon breathed a small sigh of relief and crossed Ser Arthur Dayne’s name from his list.
Next was Sam, his best friend and quite possibly the nicest person on Earth. It wasn’t exactly romantic in nature, but he loved Sam anyway, the little pudgy boy who had lent Jon all his toys and comic books during his first summer with the Starks. They’d become inseparable after that. Sam would understand, Jon thought.
Then came Daenerys with her bright green eyes, infectious laugh, and even more expressive eyebrows. They’d met during camp when he was nine and at the end of the summer, Jon had secretly written her the letter. Looking back, he was glad he kept quiet about it. Dany, as it turned out, was actually related to him by way of his father. She’d also recently hooked up with a glowering senior even taller than Tormund who hovered over her shoulder all the time, scaring away any potential suiters.
His heart skipped a beat when he saw the last two names. Maybe he really did have a thing for gingers, Jon thought forlornly. Ygritte was a year younger than Jon, but that didn’t stop her from running him over with her tricycle the second day he arrived at Uncle Ned’s house. She lived next door with her older brother Tormund and a man named Mance. He was in law enforcement and was pretty close friends with Jon’s uncle who was assistant DA. Jon had dated Ygritte for a better part of middle school, but they’d parted amicably when he’d gone off to high school.
And then, there was Tormund, the bright orange enigma in Jon’s life.
Jon used to refer to their shared fence as ‘The Wall’ that kept the wildlings away. It didn’t, not really. Growing up, Ygritte still found ways to sneak across and beat him up or steal his candy. Back then, Jon had been a tiny child, all pale skin, chubby cheeks, and sad brown eyes. One Sunday morning, a much taller boy had dragged a struggling Ygritte over to their house by the ear.
“We don’t steal shit from pretty little girls. Apologize, little sister,” The boy had growled, shaking her like a misbehaving puppy while Jon stood cautiously in the doorway.
“I’m a boy,” He remembered saying solemnly.
Tormund had laughed, if Jon’s memories served him right, loud and deep bellowing laughter that had brought color to Jon’s face. Framed in the doorway with his hair a fiery red halo atop his head, Tormund had looked almost godly in all of his ten-year-old glory, and little Jon Snow had somehow fallen in love that afternoon standing on his uncle’s porch.
He shuddered at the thought and crumpled the piece of notebook paper with the five names into a tiny ball. Something was definitely wrong with him. Jon’s phone pinged. He glanced down at the text message from Arya.
did it work???
did what work He typed back, confused.
your love letters stupid. did any of them write back???
He stared at the phone for a very long time. Then, Jon calmly got off his bed, grabbed the ice hockey stick leaning against his closet door, and stalked out into the hallway.
“I’M GOING TO MURDER YOU, ARYA STARK!!!!”
“Tormund, really?” Sam asked the moment he spotted Jon and Bran the next morning on their walk to school.
“How did you—”
“Bran told me,” Sam waved Jon’s sputter of “how did Bran find out?!” aside, “oh and before I forget, you still haven’t returned all the Batman comics I lent you eight years ago.”
Jon stared. Sam shrugged.
“It was in the letter you wrote me,” He explained, falling into step next to Jon. “Seriously though, Tormund?”
“And Tormund's sister, Daenarys, and Arthur Dayne,” Bran piped up, counting off the list of names in his wheelchair as Jon pushed him across an intersection.
He groaned, “both of you, just shut up.”
“That new girl,” Gendry said at lunch, “the one that looks like a man. Guess how much she benches, Jon.”
“More than you?” He half-assed absently, trying not to flinch every time he saw a redhead walk into the cafeteria. Jon hadn’t seen Tormund since yesterday afternoon (thank the gods), but they had the same lunch period so he was getting more and more antsy as time passed.
“Same as freaking Khal Drogo,” Gendry hissed, leaning forward, “Coach Bronn asked me yesterday if we could maybe disguise her as a dude and draft her onto the team. Honestly, I reckon it’d work if she was actually interested. Poor girl’s got her eyes set on Jaime Lannister though, so the lacross team's probably going to get her.”
“Cersei won’t be pleased,” Edd mused, “She’s already pissed about the stunt Tyrion pulled with Sansa.”
“What about Sansa?” Jon blinked, reluctantly drawn back into the conversation by the sound of his cousin’s name. Sam shot him a look, “she and Tyrion fake dated to get back at Cersei. Do you even live in the same house as her, Jon? Come on.”
Jon stabbed a plastic fork into his salad, “No one can keep track of Sansa’s love life.”
“I can, she’s been low-key with Sandor Clegane the whole time,” A voice chirped and Jon glanced up to see Arya draped over Gendry’s shoulder, smirking down at them.
“What are you doing here?” Jon asked. She should still be in class. Their current lunch period was reserved for high school juniors only and Arya was still a freshman.
“Tywin lost our latest bet, so he let me pick when to have lunch this semester,” She explained smugly and slid into the empty seat next to Jon. Arya was probably the only student in the entire school that Tywin allowed to address him that way. Not even his own children got away with calling him anything other than Principal Lannister at school.
“Sorry you didn’t like the surprise. I hoped maybe at least one of them would reciprocate,” Arya said, solemn for once.
“I thought it was sweet,” Her boyfriend tried to say.
“No one cares what you think, Gendry, you masochist,” Jon groaned as Arya stole one of his curly fries. She pilfered Sam’s fruit cup from his tray and grabbed the slice of pizza straight out of Grenn’s hand. Arya turned to Pyp who silently handed over his carton of chocolate milk with a resigned expression.
“I saw Tormund this morning,” Arya said in between bites, “ballsy of you to punch him in the face.”
“I didn’t punch him in the—” Jon began, but Tormund and three other burly football players chose that moment to push their way into the cafeteria and the words died in Jon's throat when he saw the massive shiner Tormund was sporting on the left side of his face.
“Oh god, he’s going to kill me,” Jon said faintly when Tormund’s eyes fell on him.
Tormund didn’t end up killing him in the cafeteria that day. He just sat down at the adjacent table with his buddies and slowly ate a chicken sandwich while maintaining full eye contact with Jon the whole time.
It was actually more terrifying than any verbal threat.
“Who else did you write a letter to, little crow?”
Jon jumped at the sudden words. For such a large person, Tormund was weirdly stealthy when he wanted to be. He finished tying his shoelaces and stood to face the other boy. Jon had to tilt his head back a little to look into Tormund’s face and that stung.
“How did you know there were others?” He asked weakly, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun.
“Ygritte showed me hers,” Tormund rumbled, and then to Jon’s surprise, he added, “it was shitty of me to sneak up on you like that yesterday, Snow. Sorry if I scared you.”
“Sorry I elbowed you in the face,” Jon returned, biting his lip. He sighed, “just, forget about the letters, ok? I wrote those stupid things when I was just a kid and they were supposed to be private. I was never going to actually send— oh no.”
“What?” Tormund turned to follow his gaze. Their football captain, Daenarys’ current boyfriend, was staring at Jon from across the field like he wanted to disembowel Jon with his bare hands.
“You wrote him a letter too?” Tormund demanded as Drogo took a menacing step in their direction. Then another.
Jon gulped and turned to face Tormund. “Do you trust me?”
“Why?” The redhead asked suspiciously, but Drogo was getting closer and closer, and Jon was running out of time—
He fisted a hand in Tormund’s uniform and tugged him down into a kiss. Their teeth clacked together painfully and Jon could taste the strawberry flavored protein shake he’d no doubt chugged before practice, and—
“You could have warned me, crow,” Tormund glared at Jon. They were alone in the locker room and there was now a split lip added to the growing list of injuries Jon had inflicted to Tormund's face.
“Sorry, I owe you one,” He winced.
“Seriously though, who else did you write letters to?” Tormund insisted. God, he was like a dog with a bone.
“Will you let it go if I tell you?” Jon asked, exasperated.
“Maybe. No promises.”
“Fine. If you must know. I wrote one to you, your sister, Dany, Sam and one of my dad’s friends.”
“Drogo’s girl, eh?” Tormund whistled, rubbing at the orange stubble on his jaw. “You got big balls for such a pretty face, Snow.”
“We’re related,” He explained and rolled his eyes, “Dany’s kind of my aunt. It’s complicated, and I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I'll bet,” Tormund smirked. He shuffled closer to Jon and fixed him with that weirdly intense stare from the cafeteria again. Jon felt goosebumps break out all over the back of his neck and arms.
“So, you owe me a favor, hmm?”
“How are you this creepy?” Jon asked before he could stop himself. Tormund pouted like the words genuinely hurt him. Jon didn’t believe it for a second.
“Pretend to date me, little crow,” Tormund murmured, caging Jon against the lockers with his massive arms.
“Why?” He must have misheard. Tormund let out a rumbling laugh, “the big girl. I want to make her jealous. And it’ll explain why you tried to bite my face off during practice today. Two birds with one stone.”
Jon wracked his brain. “Brienne, you want to make Brienne jealous?”
“That little fancy toothpick Jaime Lannister calls a cock can’t satisfy her,” Tormund leered, “and I see the way she looks at me when she thinks I’m not paying attention. She wants me, Snow.”
“I think I’m going to barf,” Jon said in the silence. Tormund growled at him.
“Fine, if you promise to forget about the letter and keep Drogo off my back,” Jon relented, “but we need rules.”
“Rules?” Tormund frowned.
“Yes, rules, so things don’t get out of control, and I can still have my peace if you and Brienne get together.”
“What?” Jon blinked.
“When me and Brienne get together,” Tormund corrected.
“Right,” He nodded and tried to ignore the strange disappointment when Tormund held out a ginormous hand for him to shake. Jon slid his fingers into Tormund’s calloused palm and gripped tight.
“It’s a deal then.”