Ygritte had told him he knew nothing, and the words had never been truer than now, standing on a snowy bank overlooking the sheltered valley that the Freefolk call home.
They survey the wreckage of their pasts with unexpected enthusiasm – True Northerners, Jon is finding, don’t have the same grim set as the lords and ladies he always encountered as a boy, bemoaning circumstance and the fickle Gods. The Freefolk don’t have time to assign time to brooding and plotting, and they don’t give a single fuck about the Gods. There is a task at hand, and they fall upon it as a flock of doves on grain, rousting out the scavengers that feed on the remaining dead and building a funeral pyre, others starting to gather reusable materials, whilst men and women set to laying foundations for new tents and hutches. After the Night King’s march, there aren’t so many bodies left, but there is wreckage, and mourning to be done.
“You look like a proper crow up here, boy, hovering over a burial ground.”
Jon looks around as Tormund trudges up the drift, the snow densely frozen under his boots, only the fresh layers of powder on the top kicking up resistance. His grizzled beard has frozen tendrils in it, his flame of hair dusted with snow.
“Will you stay here?” Jon asks, ignoring the remark – like all the Freefolk, Tormund says things he thinks without compunction for the way they might come across, unfettered by the social obligations and procedures of the fussy South. His honesty in most circumstances is entirely welcome, and Jon is learning, slowly, that it’s a sign of affection to be insulted.
“Aye, it’s one of the better shelters from the winter, the wind glides over it like shit through a goose.”
“Will you have enough food? It’ll be lean up here in the deep Winter.”
“Oh, and you’ve weathered many of them with us, have you?” Tormund raises his whiskered chin to look at Jon over the bridge of his nose. Now they’re level on the drift, he’s almost a head taller, still with shadows of formidability Jon had seen when they first met: condescension unnecessary, thank you Jon.
“I’m sorry,” he demurs, “I more meant… not that you will, but, if ye need anything…”
“Aye, I’ll come to the commander of the Night’s Watch,” Tormund rumbles, “and steal his wine and his food for a night and complain about how times are hard, if it’ll make him feel better. And then I’ll ride home and eat something that was made by someone who has washed more than once this month.”
“I suppose not by you then,” Jon mutters, and then widens his eyes, surprised at his own audacity.
Tormund gives him the beady eye again, silence settling, before he roars with laughter.
“I suppose I am a bit ripe,” he chuckles.
“I think we all are. I’d kill for hot water.” Jon thinks grimly of the last bath he had, before they set off from the wall nearly a week back now.
“I’ve work to do,” Tormund shrugs.
“Aye, me and all.”
There’s a slight pause, and then Tormund sighs, and nudges Jon. “But if you meet me here tonight, I know a place we can go and get clean. It’ll be quiet in the dark.”
Jon waits, as if expecting a joke, but then he just nods.
“Aye, all right. Now, tell me where you need me.”
“As we’ve already established, I don’t need you anywhere, Little Crow.”
“All right, tell me where you want me then.”
A glint shines in Tormund’s eye as he claps Jon on both shoulders with his great gloved hands.
“That, my man, is another question.”
By nightfall, the valley has been cleared and shovelled as best as it can be, the snow turned on bloodstains and rot, new flurries burying the remaining scent. There are no more bodies, but a small field of markers have risen up at the edge of the valley, a sizable rock to mark the place the ashes have been buried, several smaller for those who wished to commemorate someone specific, whether they were amongst the burned or not.
Shovel still in hand, Jon watches tents go up and fires lit and feels the pull of this life at the ends of his fingers like threads. He had found it easy here, even when it wasn’t easy, and the cold feels like home.
Love is the death of duty, and duty, the death of love. Being here reminds him of Ygritte, and of course, of Dany. So much of his history written in the snow, buried beneath it like the blood stains and ash.
Jon is not an intelligent man, he knows. He’s not even sure he’s a good man. But he has tried his best to be an honourable man. He doesn't think that after everything, he could desert his post at the Wall, but a bone-deep yearning keeps him gazing out across the little rows of huts a while longer, until something catches his eye.
The flame that flickers up on the hill travels in a line, and even in the gloaming, Jon knows the gait of the man that carries it. With a slight smile, he sets his shovel aside and heads to his and Tormund’s meeting place, giving Ghost a passing skim of his gloved hand as he goes.
Up on the drift, his sunset hair tousled in the wind, Tormund gives Jon one of his raised eyebrows and beckons him silently. The snow is starting to fall thicker, fat, silent flakes coming in bursts, but Tormund pays the worsening weather no mind, just trudging with the torch held aloft to light their way.
The sky has taken on the yellow orange hue of black velvet in firelight, pregnant with snowfall, starless, blanketing void. Up here on the hills it feels like another world, especially when Jon glances down at the little valley and sees the rosy glow of tents alight like a cluster of fireflies.
His cloakhem is crusted thick with snow, weighing him down, and he loses footing in the thick, soft feathers of the fresh fall, yelping when Tormund catches him under his arm.
“I’ve no idea how you survived this far, boy,” he tells him.
“Oh aye, that’s right. You’ll be the man who died twice. My mistake. Still, can’t help but thinking coming back might have been a bit premature.”
Jon understands the sentiment. “Glutton for punishment, I suppose.”
“Aye.” They slog a few more metres before Tormund adds, “Not that I regret you coming back, of course.”
“Well, as long as it’s all right with you.”
“Trust me, you’d know if it weren’t.”
“There’s still time.”
A laugh at that, and Tormund keeps his hand tucked under Jon’s arm as they trek down the hillside, toward the crags and crevices of the valley caves.
At the mouth of one, Tormund stalls, and throws the torch down into the depths, listening for the clatter and looking satisfied when the flame stays within view just a few metres down, orange light licking against the rocks and fissures, illuminating a narrow passage.
“This one hardly ever gets used because it’s difficult to access,” Tormund explains to Jon, starting to lower himself into the fiery dark, the sight reminding Jon of the maw of ascending flames Drogon had showed him on their last encounter.
“Meaning?” He steps gingerly after him, trying to mimic his footing, clumsy in his furs and trying hard to ignore the sensation of climbing into the jaws of a beast.
“Meaning a few people have… broken things.”
“Wonderful,” Jon mutters, fully aware that his ironic death falling down a hole in the middle of nowhere would amuse many gods – and people. Regardless, he and Tormund make it to the bottom unscathed, and Jon sees the steaming surface of a hot spring lapping at the edges of the rockpool, looking so much like molten fire in the light as Tormund catches another torch and finds a place to lodge each.
Then, he starts to undress. Jon realises that he’s staring when an accusatory blue eye turns on him.
“I know it’s a hell of a sight, Crow, but there’s no need to stare.”
“I’m not,” Jon says quickly, defensively even to his own ears.
“I would be,” Tormund chuckles. He’s down to his unders now, trousers belted around his waist with a crudely tied leather thong, wound a couple of times. His white chest and shoulders are brightly scattered with freckles, red hair, and dark scars. “Come on, lad. I’ve seen it all before.”
“Reassuring,” Jon mutters, shucking off his cloak and harness, starting the arduous process of unbuckling and untying his many layers. If the hot water weren’t so tempting, he’s not sure it’d be worth the effort.
Meanwhile, Tormund strips out of his last layers and stands with his back turned to Jon as he throws them onto a dry rock, clear of the floor, and digs two things out of one fo his many pockets. A flask and some soap, Jon surmises, with interest, which Tormund sniffs curiously now, giving Jon and imperious eyebrow when he glances at it.
“No point in bathing without soap.”
“I didn’t bring any,” Jon admits.
“That’s all right, I stole this from your room.”
“That explains a few things – wait, what were you doing in my room?”
“Stealing soap, obviously. And this.” He holds up the flask; uncaps it and takes a swig before handing it to Jon.
Whisky from the barrel in his room, inherited from Jeor Mormont upon his death. Jon has never opened it – it didn’t seem right – but he takes a measure now for warmth more than anything, not bothering to scold Tormund.
Tormund throws the flask into the water when it’s recapped, where it happily bobs and floats. The many silvering wounds from arrows on his’s back shine in the light as he flexes, whoops, and canon balls into the pool.
Hot water sprays Jon, and he laughs as he divests himself of his last stitches of clothing before walking to the water’s edge, peering for Tormund in the deceptively large bath, the dark water marbled with hissing white streams of froth, impossibly black in the depths.
A hand closes around his ankle and tugs, and he yelps, and topples, and somehow manages not to brain himself on the rocks again as he careens into the water in a rush of crystal bubbles.
Gasping as he breaks the surface, he swipes at Tormund and gets dunked again for his efforts, sputtering before he manages to get a handle on the rocks at the lip of the pool. Laughter rings off the cave walls, bell-like, comforting.
“You’re a bastard,” Jon rasps, to more laughter.
“Aye, and you’re dumb as a brick.”
A fair assessment. Jon ducks under the water to rinse his hair of grit and ash and accepts half of the broken bar of oily soap, anchoring himself against the edge of the pool with his feet while he washes himself thoroughly. The soft, bright sounds of water behind him indicate Tormund is doing the same.
“This shit smells like fucking roses,” Tormund observes, sounding faintly impressed.
It smells like Dany, Jon knows. She had brought it with her from Meereen and given him a portion when he’d commented on the way she always smelled like fire. It’s fine olive oil, the colour of green amber, buttery soft and clear, with a single curl of scented bark set into the centre of the block.
“It has – cinnamon in it and stuff,” he mutters.
“What in it?”
“Cin- it doesn’t matter.”
“It smells fancy. I knew you were a pretty boy, Jon, but I didn’t know you went about using ladies’ soap.”
“Well, so do you, now,” Jon chuckles, unoffended. Someone might as well enjoy it.
Tormund looks at the soap in his hand, and then shrugs and starts to scrub it into his hair and beard. “Looks like I do.”
The water feels unreasonably good after the long trek from one end of the country to the other; the hard work on top. Jon savours the novelty of being clean and warm, lingering under the water when he rinses his hair, listening to the throbbing and howling of amplified sound in this quiet world. With his eyes closed, he can remember the black oblivion that haunts him at night, when there’s nothing there to distract him from his own mortality.
Reluctantly, lungs burning, he breaks the surface again, coming face to face with Tormund. He looks almost shifty, hair dark with water, his beard glittering with droplets and his eyes canny.
“What?” Jon asks.
“I just never realised how skinny you were under all those feathers, Little Crow.”
“I’m not skinny.”
“Yeah, you are. And hairless.”
“I can’t help that.”
“You soft Southern boys,” Tormund chuckles, “no need for extra padding and fur, I suppose.”
“Sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into it,” Jon laughs, and then he holds up his hands when Tormund threatens to dunk him again, “I’m jokin’-!”
They thrash and kick a minute, trying to sink one another in the water, both sputtering and laughing until Jon yields again with a hand on Tormund’s chest, the two of them panting into one another’s space, thighs and feet brushing in the silky water.
When they’ve caught their breath, Tormund jerks his chin in the direction of the shallows, reaching out to snag the bobbing flask nearby.
“Come on, I’m too old for this shit.”
Skulduggery over, it’s soothing to perch on the rocks, warmed by the water and watching the flakes of blue-white snow from outside flutter in, blown by the rising gale outside. They pass the flask back and forth, warmed by the scorch of the booze. The cave tinkles with the glass-like sounds of water, dank and echoing and safe.
“Sounds wild out there,” Tormund murmurs, closing his eyes, “better wait it out until morning.”
“You won’t be missed?”
“There’s no one keeping track of me except you, Jon.”
Strange to hear him say his name like that, almost soft. Jon looks him over as he leans to accept the flask again, and reflects that he’s never seen him like this. Unarmed, off-guard. He’s a great capacity for sensibleness, and seriousness, Jon knows, but generally he elects to ignore it. Now, he looks almost complacent, even remorseful.
“Well, I can promise you that’ll never stop,” Jon tells him, taking a drink and then passing it back.
“As long as you’ve not got a woman, aye?” Tormund laughs.
“Never,” Jon asserts, faintly insulted, “you’re a true friend.”
“I know, and I still would have been, if you’d stayed with her. Don’t you worry, boy. I know your heart. A Southerner’s life never suited you. No woman who tried to hold you ever suited you. You’re too well suited to duty. S’why you’re back here.”
“I was commanded back here, as a punishment,” Jon mutters.
“Aye, and you’re spending that life sentence with me, it seems. Not that you’ll find me complaining. You and I are more similar than you think, I reckon.”
He could be offended. He could leave, or argue. Jon doesn’t though, he just thinks. Thinks of the ways he failed the people he loved, and the reasons for it. He’s not sure Tormund could be categorised as a failure.
“I just never wanted to bear the weight of people’s expectations of me,” he admits, finally, “I’m weak, and I never asked for any of this. All I wanted, when I was a lad, was to take the Black and come be with my Uncle Benjen – I wanted to protect people.”
“And you have.”
“I’ve killed people. People I loved.”
“You can’t protect people if you’re dead. You acted before they could. That’s nature.”
Silence again. Jon reflects on the blur of the last years of his life with a heavy sigh and another long drink, drowsy with the warmth pressing in on him.
“I loved Ygritte,” he says, finally, “I loved her more than I thought I could love anyone.”
“I knew it,” Tormund assures him, quite gently, all told. “She knew it and all. And she knew why you left. She would have done the same, in your position. That’s why she couldn’t kill you.”
Jon sighs. He hopes Tormund isn’t just trying to placate him.
“Little Crow,” his voice is serious now, and when Jon raises his eyes, Tormund is closer than he expected, his breath warm and whisky-hot, “you have made your sacrifices, and many of them. Time now to take some things for yourself, mm?”
Jon thinks about it, really thinks about it, and slowly lets out a breath.
“I don’t want to take anything – but… I’ve got all the time in the world to self-flagellate, I suppose.”
“Aye, and it gets boring for every other cunt who knows you. Come now.” He nudges Jon’s leg companionably with his own. “It can’t all have been bad.”
“It wasn’t,” Jon agrees, readily, “it wasn’t all bad.”
His eyes drift over the ceiling of the cave, and he sighs.
“Came to one of these with Ygritte,” he admits, quietly, “when we first met. I’d never been with a woman.”
“When I met you, you’d never-?”
“I was very serious about my vows,” Jon grumbles. He tries to ignore Tormund’s look of incredulous delight.
“Was she your first?”
“Aye, I just said that.”
“You said you’d never been with a woman.”
Jon gives him an inquisitive look, and Tormund rolls his eyes.
“Gods, you’re pretty, but you’re thick as a giant’s arse.”
Realisation dawns on Jon, and his face flares with heat.
“Tormund, I’m not-”
“You’re not what? There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s only flesh, doesn’t matter what hole it goes in.”
“Maybe not to you.”
“Oh, and you’d think less of me for it?”
Another startled silence. Jon blinks, dark curls hanging in his eyes, starting to dry in the steam. Slowly, thoughtfully, he shakes his head.
“No, I suppose not.”
“Glad to hear it.” Tormund scratches under his chin, looking absently at the stalagtites hanging from the ceiling. “So Ygritte, or your little Dragon Queen, neither of them ever-?”
“No, Tormund, I don’t.”
Another exasperated sigh.
“Ever showed you how it felt, being the one underneath?”
A big, embarrassed huff of laughter escapes Jon. He tries to keep his voice even. “No, no they didn’t.”
“Not even the white haired one? I’d have thought that was the only way she liked it, with her history and all. And Ygritte – well, Ygritte liked to be the boss in most things, didn’t she?”
Face spectacularly pink, Jon tries to process the thoughts he’s having without anything too graphic coming into the fray.
“Uh, no, never – but I suppose we didn’t have much time for. Experimentation.”
Tormund laughs at that, and takes another drink. “No wonder yer so uptight.”
“Oh, but you are.”
Tormund is starting to chuckle to himself, rinsing his face of steam and swiping stray droplets out of his beard. “Trust me, Little Crow, you don’t know what you’re missing.”
“Thanks for the tip. Not sure I’ll get much opportunity to test your theory now I’m back at the wall.”
“Oh, and why not?”
“’I shall take no wife, and father no children’,” Jon intones boredly.
“You should be keeping away from women anyway, your love is a dangerous thing as far as I can tell.”
“Tormund.” Jon tries to keep the pain out of his voice. “Please.”
He doesn’t apologise, but his expression goes faintly remorseful, and he passes Jon the flask, and then cups his shoulder with one great hand, comforting and weighty. They’re quiet for a moment, the cave sounds ebbing back in, Jon’s mind whirring over Daenerys’ eyelashes when she’d died in his arms. The snow had started to settle on them, almost at once, making them look blonde.
Tormund’s eyelashes are pale copper in the firelight, lowered as he lets Jon linger in the moment for a while longer, before finally he nudges him.
“Shall I tell you about my first time in a cave?” He asks, with a cunning grin that makes Jon stifle a faint groan of dismay.
“… Go on then.”
“I was looking for a place like this, close to the shore. We’d been fishing in the long Summer, but the others had gotten tired, but I stayed with me rod. I’d heard legends, see, of women with fused bodies of fish, and I wanted to see…”
Jon pulls a face, bracing himself.
“… If she tasted more like fish than regular cunt,” Tormund grins.
“You’re vile,” Jon mutters, taking a long drink.
“Right. So I’m on the rocks, the waves crashing, the dark coming down, and in the distance I see a cave hidden in the cliffside. There’s a light coming from inside, eerie pale green, and so I thought to myself – ha! A woman with a fish cunt.”
“I climbed down the rocks, swam to the cave, and whipped down my trousers.”
“Little did I know that the creature that waited for me was not a fair maid who smelled of fish, but a great beast, the body of a man and rippling, writhing mass of limbs below, not a twat in sight-”
“Please stop,” Jon wheezes, holding his face.
“He was fearsome, great fangs, yellow eyes, but those tentacles… Well, he knew exactly how to use them. I thought at one point I might feel them come up my throat from-”
“Why does it have to be like this?” Jon laughs, tossing his hair, slapping half-heartedly at Tormund to silence him.
“He fucked me like I was-”
“He never, you’re a liar!”
“He did! Like I was a ragdoll. I couldn’t shit right for a week, but Gods it was worth it. I’ve never felt so satisfied.” He’s laughing now too, losing the thread of the story, eyes crinkled with mirth.
“Satisfied with not shitting right for a week?”
They lean into one another as they descend into full-on howling, both creased and trying to talk between great, gulping breaths.
Maybe it’s long-bottled hysteria coming loose, maybe it’s just alcohol, but Jon suddenly feels light, laughing himself to choking in the steam with his friend, both clutching one another.
“You’re mad,” he tells Tormund when he can draw breath, “you beat a man to death for accusing you of sucking my cock and then you go around telling stories of a monster who shoved eight arms up your arse.”
“They were not arms, Jon Snow,” he says, rather primly, “they were tentacles.”
“The story of your life. Besides,” Tormund looks solicitous now, “I didn’t kill him for saying that, I killed him because he was - what would someone like you say? - undermining me.”
Jon thinks about it, really thinks, and reflects on Tormund’s sly wink as they’d traipsed through the dunes that day looking for the Dead. We’ll have to make do with what we’ve got.
“So…” he flushes a bit, gathering the words slowly. “You’ve really lain with men?”
“Not just lain, sometimes we were standing.” Tormund takes in Jon’s expression, and then stutters with laughter again. “Gods, boy, you’ve gone red. You Southerners really mustn’t ever have any fun.”
“Apparently not,” Jon says, weakly. He shifts a bit in the water, self-conscious suddenly, the sense of foreboding coming over him with Tormund’s wandering gaze.
“You know, I’m happy to offer assistance, in that department,” he says, in what Jon knows is his most refined voice, scarcely used. Jon has only ever heard it used in front of Brienne of Tarth before.
“What, getting me fucked by a tentacle man? Thanks but-”
“Boy, you are the dumbest fucking person I have ever met,” Tormund cuts in, and then he’s moving with that uncanny speed he has, seating himself over Jon’s thighs in one smooth motion, sparkling droplets spraying up around them. He grabs Jon’s face in his hands. “Would you like me to be a little clearer, or is your tiny little brain finally here with us?”
Jon stares at him, close and smelling of cinnamon, glowing as if the firelight came from within. His weight is startling on top of Jon, caging and not altogether alarming.
“… Not quite?” He ventures, and then makes a muffled noise as Tormund crushes their lips together in a kiss. He’s fierce but delicate as in everything he does, swallowing Jon’s faint whine of surprise with relish.
When he pulls back, they’re silent, and then they both laugh again. Faces glowing with heat, neither of them moves, or speaks, until the laughter peters out.
“Tormund,” Jon tries to joke, but his voice comes out weak, “I didn’t know you cared.”
“Didn’t you?” Tormund asks. It’s not loaded, but it’s close.
Jon looks into his eyes, and racks his brains, and thinks of every touch they’ve ever exchanged.
“Y’always look so sad, boy,” Tormund whispers, a hand brushing gently flyaway curls at his cheek, “like you’ve resigned yourself to it. The day I saw you I knew you were one of us – the sadness is the only thing that keeps you from us, do you know that? We all think you’re ours.”
We. Jon sees that ‘we’ is a shield. He’s familiar with shields, and arrows, and blades, the way words can become all of them. It’s taken him a long time to learn.
“I’m not when I’m here,” he admits, “but that feels wrong.”
“But it’s not. You’ve paid debts, Jon. You’ve paid so many, barely any of them yours.”
His throat threatens to tighten at that. He looks at Tormund long and hard, and whispers, “I care, too.”
It’s true. The only truth he knows right now. He doesn’t know who he is, or if he’s good, but he knows that Tormund is. Steadfast, warm, and offering Jon something he can’t quite understand yet with no expectation of anything more.
A glance downward, and Tormund waggles his eyebrows, breaking them out of those hushed tones. “Looks like both of us do.”
“Well, what do you expect when…”
“Hush, Crow. Just…” he strokes a wayward curl back from Jon’s face, gentle. “Hush.”
Laughter still at the corners of their eyes, they bend back together. It’s no different, Jon is relieved to find, to kissing anyone else. Tormund’s big hand comes to cup the back of his skull, tangling in his hair, and he’s kissing Jon with surprising tenderness, first slow, caressing slides of their lips, smaller kisses between, and then the smooth press of his tongue. This time when he pulls back, he’s grinning.
“I’m man enough to admit it, Jon Snow, it’s no surprise Ygritte fell for a kiss like that.”
“Don’t be a prat.”
“I’m not! You’re surprisingly competent.”
“That’s very reassuring from a man who claims he fucked a bear.”
“She wasn’t as good at kissing as you.”
Their lips brush again, and finally the teasing seems to fall away as Jon hesitantly reaches up to drape his arms around Tormund’s shoulders. It’s easy to let go of his reservations for Tormund, just like it had been the first time. It’s safe here, and whatever Tormund is, he isn’t cruel enough to lead Jon here on a jest.
As it is, he’s making himself comfortable in Jon’s lap, compact despite his size, the slide of their damp skin tantalising; jarringly intimate. The unmistakable press of his hardness against Jon’s lower belly gives him pause, but he’s rocking down on Jon slowly, definitively not the only one.
“Is this a good idea?” Jon says, weakly.
“What do you mean?”
“Are we? I’d say merry.”
“Well – we’re friends.”
“Aye, we’re friends, Jon Snow. I bet you’ve never had a friend as good as me,” Tormund chuckles, and he bends to kiss Jon’s throat. The scratch of his beard is new; the pinch of his teeth. New but good. Almost overwhelming. Jon arches into it regardless, eyes drifting to the ceiling before they close.
“It’s good,” he mutters, trying to keep the surprise out of his voice, “but Tormund, I’ve never… done… I don’t know…”
It burns to admit it. Tormund raises his head just enough to mutter. “Do I strike you as a man who would let you fumble around down there without success?”
A fiercer flush, blooming up Jon’s neck from his chest. “No.”
“Right then. Don’t you worry about that, just close your pretty mouth and stop fretting.”
His fingers skimming light down Jon’s chest quiet him; the way his mouth pursues them slow, down the centre of his chest. He pauses at the scars on Jon’s chest, and then kisses one and continues. It’s impossible not to watch, and even harder to keep his breaths steady. Jon feels helpless and dumb like he has before, passive through inexperience. When Tormund takes hold of his hips and steers, Jon shifts a little in the water, further up against the bank of the pool, softened by moss. With more of him exposed to the air he’s not cold but pricked with sensitivity by the cooler air, completely unhidden by the water foaming around his ankles. He’s on his way to completely erect, cock blushed and heavy between thigh and hip. As Tormund looks down at him, still holding on, Jon starts to feel embarrassed – he’s smaller than him in every sense, paler, with no flecks of fire in his skin or hair.
“That is one pretty cock,” Tormund observes, voice a low rumble, and then he bows his head and takes Jon into his mouth in one long swallow.
“Gods- Tor, I-”
Head snapping back, Jon gasps out some of his shocked pleasure and grips at Tormund’s shoulder, body unlocking like a vault. He’s aware of one of Tormund’s hands gripping his thigh, pressing his legs wide as he sucks in slow up-down strokes, tongue searing, the wet passage of his mouth rapidly becoming the only thing Jon feels.
He knows he’s swearing, soft and repeated, louder when Tormund pulls up and concentrates the soft laps of his tongue under the crown of Jon’s cock.
For all his talk in the past of easing people in, this feels more like a battle plan, rendering Jon wordless and nearly senseless as he sucks him back down again. Slower now, the hand not on Jon’s thigh slipping to spread against the paler skin between hip and groin. His thumb strokes under Jon’s cock, just at the base, and when he rolls his sack gently in his fingers Jon jolts again. He stutters on an apology, but Tormund doesn’t scold him, or show that he noticed in any way, just keeps easing him deeper and deeper.
He pulls off when Jon is starting to shake, his eyes bright and hair starting to dry in wild copper curls. His lips are obscenely pink, and he kisses Jon hard.
No talking now, no smart remarks. Jon feels struck dumb by the novelty of pleasure; of knowing instinctively that this can be anything he makes it. All his fierce admiration for Tormund takes on a new gleam, and he sucks his tongue softly, letting his own hands explore, tentatively thumbing at his nipples and gasping at the growl of pleasure it elicits.
“Turn over for me,” Tormund rumbles, “let me show you what you’re missing out on.”
Ears threatening to combust, Jon turns, ungainly and slow, and lets Tormund arrange him on his hands and knees. Jon doesn’t fear the vulnerability as much as he thought he would – in fact, it feels good to take direction. He’s never been any good at leading.
“This is stupid,” he mutters.
“I disagree.” A hand smoothing over his backside makes him jolt, but Tormund shushes him quietly. “Not too late to back out,” he assures, but Jon just shakes his head.
“I don’t want to.”
He’s still burning, feeling Tormund’s scrutiny behind him, but the skim of a calloused thumb against the very top of his thigh has him shivering before he feels breath.
“You’ve got one of the prettiest arses I’ve ever seen.”
He sounds faintly perplexed by the matter, and Jon starts to laugh before the brush of his beard and the first slow pass of his hot tongue renders him speechless. Thumbs pressing and spreading him, Tormund licks from taint to cleft twice, and then closes his lips against the rim of Jon’s hole and softly sucks.
“Tor, you-” he can’t find words, can’t pin one down from the rapid stream in his head, sounds and images. It feels dirty, it feels depraved, but the soft slick press inside is too much and Jon’s cries bleed out, his arms bending underneath him.
It’s slow, torturous, but Tormund continues to suck and press and lick, long drags of his tongue and swirling caresses against his rim that make Jon sag down further into the cradle of his arms. When he feels the tongue press in, in, out, and in again, he nearly aspirates the water below.
A low hum of laughter jolts through him from Tormund’s lips, and he can feel the pleasure right through his core, climbing along the delicate skin of his taint and throbbing deep at the base of his cock.
His chin is in the water, his bare chest getting scraped on the rocks where he’s sagged, but he can’t bring himself to care. His toes slip against the floor, the buoyancy of the water affecting his balance until he anchors himself by bracketing his shins against Tormund’s chest, the bridge of his feet on his shoulders.
“That’s it boy, settle in,” Tormund says in a pleased purr.
His voice sends a shot of heat through Jon, and he has to prop his chin on his fists to keep his mouth out of the water, but the leverage against Tormund means he can lift into the motions of his mouth; arch back on the slick press of his tongue and moan at the teasing stroke inside.
“That’s it,” Tormund repeats. He curls his big hand around Jon’s cock; scrapes his beard against his taint and laughs hot against his skin when Jon cries out. “What was that? That was a pretty wee noise.”
“Don’t,” Jon half-laughs it, panting hard, still half-fucking into the circle of Tormund’s hand. His knees aren’t even on the floor anymore, Tormund’s occupied arm wrapped under one thigh, his other hand gripping at Jon’s behind, lifting him where he’s knelt.
“I liked it. Do it again for me.”
He does when Tormund sucks at his taint, more mortifying than before, and he feels slick and soft and open when a finger teases at his hole. He doesn’t want to lose this feeling, cradled in Tormund’s arms at his most vulnerable, allowing himself to be simultaneously worshipped and shamed – though he knows the shame is all his own.
No room for that here though, not with Tormund. Tormund, who has only ever been kind to him, even when he wasn’t. Tormund who is talking him through this, taking away the need to worry, to think. Talking to him in a way that makes him feel calm.
“Come on. Fuck this hand, boy.”
Jon rocks, a grateful moan rushing out when Tormund buries his face in his flesh again, sucking, licking, fucking him with his tongue while Jon leaks strings of precome into the water below. He can’t keep his mouth shut; can’t even imagine how he looks, just knows that the strain in his thighs and stomach and back is nothing against the pleasure. The pull in his thighs and stomach feel like too much to let him come, but he somewhat suspects that’s the point. After all, Tormund hasn’t done what he set out to, yet.
When Jon is as close to incoherent as he’s ever been outside grievous injury, Tormund pulls back, voice gentling as he lowers Jon down.
“Took to that fairly well,” he praises, laughing softly at Jon’s affronted groan. “Don’t be like that.”
His thumb soothes between Jon’s cheeks, pressing just so, pausing when Jon whines again.
“Yes?” He checks.
Gathering himself, Jon drags his face up off his arm, taking a few breaths to clear his head. His curls drip water onto his arms, and when he looks blearily back over his shoulder, Tormund is grinning softly.
“If I become another one of your stories…” Jon warns half-heartedly, to another chuckle.
“Trust me, Little Crow. This will stay within these walls.”
“All right. Yes.” He takes another deep breath as Tormund leans to retrieve the soap from before. “What’s that for-?”
“Trust me, it’s better that we use it. ”
He wets it; rubs it over his hands methodically, the slick sounds an obscene echo of his mouth on Jon’s flesh before. When he sets it aside, they both shift, getting comfortable, and then Jon lets out a harsh exhalation as Tormund presses an oiled finger inside him.
It’s foreign, not entirely pleasant at first but for Tormund fastening his other hand back around Jon’s cock, teasing at the head with his thumb. He turns his finger inside him, stroking and then pressing down. Searching, pressing, circling…
A thin thread of pressurised heat spears Jon at the caress, making him jolt and hiss out breath. An approving grunt behind him tells him that was expected, and so he braces his knees more fully against the bank and waits out Tormund’s careful search.
More purposeful strokes now, more familiar rocking actions, and Jon’s mouth falls open on a harsh exhale as the steady pressure increases, sharp and sweet. Tormund twists and circles his finger, and then slides his hand back and presses back in with two.
“Hell,” Jon mutters under his breath, looking down between his arms down the length of his body. His cock is still dribbling fluid, flushed and hard, and between his own spread thighs he can see that he’s not alone.
Even untouched, Tormund’s cock is filled out fat and standing against his belly, foreskin glistening with beads of slick.
“Gods,” Jon wheezes again. He can barely take his eyes off it even as Tormund starts to fuck in quicker and deeper with his fingers, pausing when he’s down to the knuckle to stroke over that spot that makes Jon’s thighs shake.
“Prettiest damn boy I’ve ever seen,” he whispers, sounding oddly proud of the fact, “prettiest girl and all.”
“Ye – oh fuck – ye say that all the time, I’m not, I’m not like a girl,” Jon complains, distracted.
“Why, what’s wrong with being a girl?”
“S’a weak man that tries to belittle you by comparing you to a woman, Jon,” Tormund mutters. “There’s more than men and women in this world, and no difference between any of us.”
“Nn-” Jon will definitely agree when he can think of anything but the way his belly is starting to tremble in time with the fast, wet thrusts of Tormund’s long fingers. His nerves are chorusing sweet and high, every space in him feeling occupied and renewed. He’s never felt like this, contained within himself so entirely, aware of every inch. Tormund stokes molten pleasure in him with his smooth motions, letting the head of Jon’s cock just drag against his palm now.
Jon is making noises. Different than usual, needier and weaker, earnestly grateful. He’s torn between wanting completion and wanting more.
“Tormund- I- wait.” A few gasping breaths. “I want…”
Tormund doesn’t extract his fingers even as Jon shifts, just helps his aimless squirming until he’s on his side, thighs splayed, one foot hanging in the air. He cranes, and Tormund does not make him ask for him to bend over him, compressing him with his body as he kisses him deep. His free hand curls under Jon’s neck, keeping his face out of the water, securing him tight.
Jon can’t quantify his gratitude. He grasps at Tormund, a whimper bleeding out when the fingers inside him start to move again with renewed intent. The water laps around Jon’s thigh, his knees are flushed from the rocks, and he’s struggling more than ever to keep quiet.
Kisses growing more fervent, they seem to constrict together, hesitance and any semblance of pretence falling away. Tormund twists his wrist to angle his fingers forward, and Jon feels the first rush of his orgasm heavy in his balls, a rushing sort of pressure that feels completely separate from any he’s ever had before. It throbs in time with Tormund’s strokes deep inside him, blooming like the flames from oxygenated embers.
“Tor,” he pleads against his mouth, his face burning at the way his voice sounds, “Tor…”
“I know. I know. Feels like too much at first.” His beard tangles in Jon’s hair as he turns his nose against his cheek, voice a warming rumble. His fingers are pressing down, stretching him, sounding wet as he presses deeper and rubs.
“It – I’m-”
“Good boy. Go on, my boy.”
It’s those words that do it as much as the touch, presumptuous as they are. Another circling thrust and Jon cries out and bucks back while the pressure in him rushes through like fire, claiming every nerve and sending him twitching into long waves of pleasure, cock twitching and spurting long surges of come into the water without a single touch.
He tips his head into Tormund’s space and writhes on his fingers a moment, clenching and shivering. Working himself on the fingers, he realises with a hard blush, eking out every last tendril of pleasure.
Still pressed close, clutching him as tightly as ever, Tormund seems pleased.
“The prettiest thing,” he murmurs again, and the warmth in his voice sets Jon’s eyes stinging.
“M’not,” he says, voice watery, his thighs shaking. He reaches for Tormund with heavy arms, gasping when he pulls him up into his lap with no effort at all, wrapping him up tight after he’s rinsed his hands. Jon pants against him, hiding his face gratefully for a few minutes while the aftershocks run their course through his limbs, lighting him up.
Tormund watches Jon closely, waiting for his gaze before he strokes his hair back again gently. It’s easy to look back for once.
“Not so sad, just for a little bit, mm?” He says gently.
“Not sad at all. I think I shot my brains out,” Jon laughs, weakly, then holds up a warning finger to stop up Tormund’s joke. “Don’t ruin it.” A big grin warps his beard a bit, and he kisses Jon again softly.
It’s a safe feeling, being held. Jon lets himself linger on whether he’s ever felt it before, and when he acknowledges he hasn’t, a hurt little thing tugs loose inside him, and he tries fast to jam in back into place.
“Let me do something for you-?”
A considering silence, and then Tormund shifts beneath him. “Just- just turn around, and pass me that soap again.”
A singing thrill of anticipation going through him, Jon turns his back against Tormund’s chest, sensitive and trembly as he swathes the bar slick against the insides of Jon’s thighs before setting it aside once more. His hands go to Jon’s knees, guiding them together and propelling him up so he’s half kneeling between his own thighs, the two of them folded together in a tessellating position. When Tormund presses his thick cock up between Jon’s thighs, Jon’s breath leaves him in a rush.
“Gods,” he whispers, reaching back for Tormund’s hip behind him, testing the slippery weight of him; marvelling at the way his foreskin is sliding back more and more with every pass to expose the gleaming, flushed crown as he starts to rock between Jon’s thighs.
“That’s – yes, Jon, perfect.”
Jon’s own cock takes notice, never quite softened off from the stimulation before and now even more intensely interested when Tormund drags against his balls. Growling low and urgent behind him, Tormund grips Jon’s thighs tighter, and starts to fuck them.
Watching him sets off an electric crawling heat. Every stroke feels slicker, fluid beading sticky and salty at the slit, smearing in strings against Jon’s balls and thighs as he slips against him. He leans back into him; gasps at the sounds Tormund is making, rough, guttural groans, more soft praise. Jon has never felt useful before in bed, not unless he was on his knees with a hand in his hair. This feels like that but closer too, like it wouldn’t be so hard to shift; let Tormund press his blunt cock in where his fingers stretched before and make room for himself inside Jon’s body.
Maybe next time, he reasons wildly, when there’s more than soap available.
Now his gaze is magnetised back to Tormund’s cock, heavy between Jon’s thighs, sizeable by anyone’s standards, the way Tormund is. His chest feels huge on Jon’s back, his hands on him, but it’s not embarrassing or demeaning. Jon feels right, moulded to him, the terrain from his shoulders to his knees fitted perfectly to the bracket of Tormund’s front. His chin tucked over his shoulder, they both seem to watch his cock peek in and out from beneath Jon’s, matching pink and glistening.
“Fuck,” Tormund grunts. He slows then, watching himself, holding Jon still. “Tighter, just for a moment…”
It feels like it should be too tight, but Jon clasps his thighs, two twin groans spilling out of them at the wet nudge of the fat head against his hole as Tormund slowly drives forward.
“That’s it,” he whispers, brushing his cheek against Jon’s, “perfect, Little Crow, feel like silk.”
He can only groan in response. It’s more preseminal slick than soap now, by Jon’s reckoning, and he savours the knowledge that Tormund is taking even a fraction of the pleasure he gave to Jon, even if he feels inadequate that he can’t offer it in the same capacity, at least not yet.
“We – could we do this again-?” Jon asks, dumbly. “Next time I – you could show me how, I could help…”
“I thought you’d never ask,” Tormund chuckles. He strains to kiss Jon over his shoulder, and they slow for a moment, distracted, breaths rushed. When they pull apart, Jon reaches one hand back to grasp gently at the tangle of Tormund’s tumbling red curls.
Now, he starts to fuck Jon’s thighs faster, burying his face in his neck, breath and beard tickling his skin. He’s clutching him, brushing his lips behind Jon’s ear and whispering his name.
“Fucking stunning while I opened you up. You tasted like heaven. And the way you sounded, like you’d never felt anything like it; like you needed it more than air.”
It brings back a rush of touch memories; the sight of Tormund’s cock dripping between the V of Jon’s thighs; the scent of cinnamon and the flecks of it on Tormund’s shoulders.
“I did,” Jon gasps, “I do.”
“Good to know,” Tormund grunts, and his hips snap forward, a glimmering string of slick stretching between his shaft and Jon’s balls. His hands come up to clasp Jon’s chest, vice-like, crushing. “I’m – Jon…”
“Please,” Jon chokes, tipping his head back against his shoulder, “please, please, Tor-”
He feels the press of his lips, and then the clamp of his teeth. A flare of neat pleasure goes through Jon as he feels Tormund’s orgasm paint his shaking thighs, smearing the mess as he fucks through it, the sounds wet and loud in the quiet sanctuary of their cave. They undulate against one another until the last droplet of Tormund’s release is flecked against Jon’s skin, and then slowly, they sink down into the shallow water.
Tormund doesn’t let go. They’re clutching one another, both racked with lingering frissons of the aftermath. Jon looks out across the sparkling water at the changed light and realises one of the torches has gone out.
Barely any words seem appropriate. They separate, albeit reluctantly, to rinse the last traces of their tryst away. Jon’s fingertips are wrinkled from the water and the sight makes him laugh slightly.
“What is it?” Tormund asks, wringing out his hair a final time, stepping up onto the edge of the pool and starting to wipe off the water with a rag.
“It’s been a long time since I didn’t have somewhere to go. Somewhere to be. A pressure. A duty.” He flushes a bit as he says it, approaching Tormund with something like shyness and breathing relief when he opens his arms to him.
“Does the Night’s Watch not count, Lord Commander?” He says, softly. Not to be cruel, Jon knows.
“Barely seems to register, there’s nothing to watch for anymore.”
“There’s thing to watch for here. Bears, wolves. Other tribes.”
“There can’t be much of anything left…”
“But there will be, with time.” Tormund’s eyes are unusually urgent now, his skin flushed hot when he pulls Jon so their thighs touch, still naked and steaming dry, shockingly familiar. “You could stay. You could be one of us, forever. Bury your black clothes and never see them again.”
“But Sansa, Ayra-”
“They don’t need you, Jon. And if they do, your brother would know where to find you, wouldn’t he?”
Their gazes hold, though Jon sees the strangest flicker of trepidation in Tormund’s; fear, he thinks.
“Do you need me?” He whispers, and the words sear him with embarrassment even as they leave his mouth.
“I already told you I didn’t, but I want you,” Tormund promises, “I think that falls into the same category.”
Mind whirring, Jon takes a deep, deep breath, his eyes never leaving Tormund’s face. Again, he recognises the use of words as shields.
They wouldn’t send anyone looking, he doesn’t think. Not now the deep Winter is closing in.
“Stay, Little Crow,” Tormund urges again, “stay with me.”
“All right,” he whispers. “All right.”
He can’t be sure, but he thinks Tormund’s eyes are shining brighter than before when he folds Jon gently up in his arms.
“Tomorrow,” he says, soft and low, “we’ll bury that cowl deep, and get you some proper fucking clothes. Come on, let’s make a fire while we’ve still got something to light it with.”
They pull apart to dress, Jon’s movements unsteady with the wobble in his legs. Whenever he glances, Tormund is watching him, a smile hidden at the corner of his mouth.
A fire lit, they hunker down in their under layers, Jon’s cloak wadded behind them, the deerskin flask going back and forth between them. At some point, Jon shifts closer to Tormund as they talk, voices getting softer and rounder with exhaustion. He falls asleep with Tormund’s arms around him, his chin tucked against the crown of Jon’s head.