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The New Lady of Highgarden

Chapter Text

Arya pitied her sister, really. The lord and lady of Highgarden made a comely pair, to be sure. Willas was handsome enough to match Sansa, no small feat, and he accomplished it without pretension or ostentation. Even Arya could appreciate his striking Tyrell features, his wavy brown locks, worn shorter than either of his brothers' and just a shade darker, a sign of his time spent inside studying. He shared his brown eyes with his sister, but where hers were beguiling and shrewd, his were warm and contemplative. And her sister and husband were clearly adored by the small folk for their thoughtful actions and kind natures. Arya knew theirs was a good match and that Sansa was content.

However, Arya could not help but find everything about the two of them utterly and completely boring.

Her own marriage to Gendry was filled with arguments and kisses and passion and laughter. She thought of the times they coupled, hot and sweaty, against the wall of his forge. Or even as recently as on the road to Highgarden, when they snuck away from the caravan to a small glen and Gendry took her hard and furiously on a bed of moss, claiming she had been driving him to distraction all day with the way she bounced on the seat of her steed.

In Highgarden, Arya saw the demure smiles of her sister and the courteous nods of her good-brother. Had there ever been a more polite pair? There was no heat, no excitement, and it seemed like absolutely no fun.

Yes, Arya truly pitied her sister.

Arya had just finished her midday meal when Willas rose from the table and pushed in his seat.

"A lovely meal. If you would be so kind as to excuse me, I am heading to the sept for my daily observances. My lady, would you care to join me?" Willas inquired, a hand extended to his wife.

"Of course, my lord," said Sansa, her tone so dutiful Arya's nose crinkled.

In their hosts' absence, the Winterfell party was free to do what they liked with their afternoon. Gendry went to visit with the armorer, while Rickon and Arya decided to head to the yard and test the mettle of Highgarden guards.

Arya had just defeated some cocksure lad two years younger than her and almost two feet taller.

"I yield, my lady; I yield," he said, with heavy guffaws. His laughter improved Arya's opinion of the youth greatly.

Sheathing the dulled sparring sword, all the guards had been too afraid to use real steel with a lady despite her protests, Arya saw Gendry running up.

"Arya, I described to the smith the design of Needle and how it was inspired by Braavosi styles. He was interested in seeing it. Do you think you could fetch it?"

Arya assented and as she made to leave, Gendry wrapped an arm around her shoulder and kissed her temple, much to the hooting of the guards. Arya huffed and threw his arm off, but walked off smiling.

Inside, she passed through the stately corridors of Highgarden and neared the sept on her way to her own chambers. The low murmur of voices let Arya know Sansa and Willas were still inside.

Arya recalled the words of an attendant the day before.

"The lord never neglects his prayers and always devotes at least an hour in the sept everyday. Since taking a wife, the lord has only become more devout. Lord Willas and Lady Sansa have instructed us never to disturb their time in the sept. Their piety is why Highgarden is so blessed."

Gods, Arya thought, how boring.

But as she neared the doors to the sept, she heard a distinctly unpious sound: a breathy moan answered by a dark chuckle.

Curious, Arya crept closer to the door, her footsteps sure and silent, just as they had been years ago when she lived in Braavos. The door was slightly ajar and Arya inched it open just a bit more so she could peer inside.

The sight that greeted her was wholly unexpected.

Sansa was laid out on the stone floor in the center of the sept. Light rained down from the entirely glass ceiling, making the hair spread about her look like riotous waves of flame. Willas laid next to her on his side, his head up and his eyes staring fixedly at his wife.

Sansa's gown was hiked up over one hip and Willas' hand was firmly placed underneath her smallclothes. Arya could make out the frantic movements of his fingers, even beneath the fabric.

Willas' other hand pulled down the neckline of the dress and revealed a pert breast, one Arya ruefully recognized as quite a bit larger than her own. His head descended and Arya guessed from Sansa's sharp gasp that Willas had taken her nipple into his teeth.

"Do you like that, my love? You seem to. You're so warm and wet down here. Gods, it feels like my fingers could fucking melt," Willas murmured, his mouth never leaving her body.

Arya's sharp ears could hear every quiet word, and she felt herself start to get quite warm.

"Do you have any idea how you look right now, Sansa? Splayed out like this in the sept, legs spread like a wanton and that pretty blush on your cheeks and breasts. You almost match your hair. My beautiful little wife. The light makes your skin glow."

Here, Arya could see Willas thrust his clothed hips against Sansa unthinkingly, as if trying to relieve the pressure.

Sansa blushed deeper. "Sometimes I feel like they're watching me, the Seven," she said breathlessly.

Willas lifted his head, and even from the door, Arya could see his smirk.

"They are, but let them watch. They gave you to me; let them bear witness to all the ways I enjoy their gift," he said softly into her ear.

At those words, Willas' fingers sped up and Sansa began to tremble, obviously reaching her peak as soft whimpers fell from her opened mouth. Willas took her lips in a plundering kiss before any louder cries could escape.

Recovering, Sansa sat up, her blue eyes alight. She pushed her husband down so he was the one laying flat and moved to straddle him. Sansa's back faced the door and her dress had fallen back down, obscuring everything. From the movement of her arms, Arya could tell Sansa was fumbling with the ties to Willas' breeches.

Apparently succeeding in extracting her husband, Sansa rose slightly on her knees and from Willas' tortured groan, she knew the exact moment Sansa sank down onto her husband's cock.

A fervent pace was set, Sansa practically bouncing on his lap, and his incoherent moans transformed into a simple litany. "SansaSansaSansaSansa." It sounded like a prayer. Willas' hands rested at her hips for only a moment, before trailing up her body and coming to cup her breasts. Sansa leaned her head back and moaned, her hair falling behind her like a cascade of auburn.

Sansa began to move even faster, and Arya could tell that she had begun rolling her hips beneath her dress. Willas' broken moans revealed how close he was to his own peak.

A moment later his hand went to the back of her neck and he pulled her down in a crushing kiss. His own hips stuttered off the floor and he plunged deeply into Sansa, once, twice, three times and wrenching his lips away, he bit into the juncture of her neck and shoulder and muffled the groan of his release.

Arya leaned a little too hard into the door and it opened a bit more, creaking as it did. The pair paid no heed, but Arya was startled by the noise and realized what she was doing. She hastily backed away from the entrance to the sept and briskly escaped the intimate scene.

Reaching her room, Arya threw the door closed behind her, startling Gendry who had been looking through her portmanteau.

"Arya? Where have you been? I thought you were going to be right back," he inquired.

Arya took a fevered glance at Gendry and rushed to him, claiming his lips in a scorching and desperate kiss.

"Arya, what's gotten into –"

Arya threw him on the bed, and though his eyes were wide with surprise, he closed his mouth firmly. He was smarter than to question whatever propitious fate had led to this tantalizing situation.

A few hours later, everyone assembled into the dining room again for supper. Arya could not quite meet her sister's eyes, but noticed that she had changed into a gown with a high neck. Arya's own dress had long sleeves to hide the bruises Gendry had left on her wrists.

Arya watched as her sister sat down and Willas helped her move in her seat, his hand lightly trailing through the ends of her hair. Sansa sent him a soft but warm glance and he smiled at her.

Arya was almost jealous of her sister.

Chapter Text

Willas took a winter wife on the first day of a new summer. As the temperature rose, so too did another sort of heat.

________

He started and found himself blearily staring at the ceiling of his bed chambers, the moonlight allowing him to make out the pattern of vines and roses painted above him. A drop of sweat ran from his brow and back down into his hair, and long fingers scratched at his scalp absentmindedly. His skin felt hot and tight, almost itchy. He rubbed a hand across his tired eyes and wondered if it was just the unreasonable heat that woken him when a small sound came from the slight body beside him. Turning to face his slumbering young bride, he gazed at Sansa softly.

His grandmother, the Queen of Thorns, was anxious for an heir after all his years of bachelordom, and had barred the newlyweds from keeping separate chambers until Sansa was with child. But that would be a while as Willas had yet to really touch his little wife.

________

It was their first night together, after the wedding feast and bedding ceremony, and Willas found himself stripped to his breeches while Sansa waited for him on the bed in her smallclothes. He was flushed, both from the exertion of fighting off the questing hands that had clawed at his clothes, and from the sheer embarrassment of facing his new bride huffing and clutching at his cane. The sultry summer night was in no way aiding him either.

Willas could hardly deny Sansa made a pretty picture, and he could feel his blood begin to heat as he took in the sight of her: all alabaster skin, slender limbs, burgeoning womanly curves and auburn waves of hair tumbling across his pillows. But her noticeable trembling, wide, frightened eyes, and nervous, shaky breaths were sobering. He looked at the girl, but only saw a skittish filly. If he had doubted her claim that her marriage to the imp had gone unconsummated, he was reassured.

He walked further into the room with what he hoped was a comforting expression. It would do no good for her to see he was as unsure as she was. "My lady, I have a small gift for you," he said.

"A gift, my lord?" Sansa rose to sit on the bed and modestly held a pillow to hide her body.

"Yes," he answered, pulling out a small wineskin from within a chest by his desk.

"Wine?" she asked, a small frown of confusion on her face.

Willas smiled, more to himself than to her. "No, my lady." He joined her on the bed and politely ignored the way she scooted further from him. Willas pulled out the stopper from the wineskin and poured its deep red contents between them onto the feather mattress. The liquid was thicker than wine, quickly formed a small stain, and smelled of –

"Blood? Is that blood, my lord?" she asked, surprise evident in her voice.

"Yes, it is, my lady. Nobly sacrificed by a brave chicken who doubtlessly now fills the belly of a lord or lady who attended our wedding feast."

Understanding dawned on Sansa's face, and she began to protest as Willas threw the emptied wineskin into a corner of the room. "But, my lord. This is not necessary. You are free to take your rights with me. I wish to be a good wife to you," she said dutifully.

He grimaced inwardly at the idea of taking her, tense and frightened as she was. It would hardly be enjoyable for either of them, and in truth, he cared little if their marital contract went unfulfilled and he never sired any heirs. He had never thought to marry, and if Highgarden eventually passed to Garlan, Willas would wish him well for it.

Willas raised a hand to stroke her cheek. Her skin was soft and alluring and the heated blush coloring her face made her feel warm and inviting beneath his fingertips, but her slight flinch reaffirmed that his was the correct decision. "We are strangers still, my dear lady. Just because you bore my cloak does not make us any more familiar. I have no desire to take from you anything you are not ready to give," he said simply, letting his hand fall from her soft cheek.

Sansa stared at him, equal parts disbelief and hope in her eyes. "Truly?"

"Truly. Until you are ready, nobody need ever know. The only ones privy to this confidence are you, me, and the chicken. And I have already seen to the chicken's silence," Willas said, his voice grave but his eyes dancing.

And as he watched his new bride burst into peels of laughter, her head thrown back and eyes merry, Willas acknowledged the possibility that he could come to like his little wife very much.

________

The hot summer days rolled past, each one more sweltering than the last, until almost a full moon had gone since their wedding. Willas and Sansa had little trouble settling into a comfortable routine during their days. He would attend to business as the blistering sun began its ascent into the sky, while she spent time with his grandmother and her waiting ladies. They would meet for a midday repast and then stroll through the gardens and orchards or ride into town, if the weather permitted. Willas was aware his lovely wife was especially sensitive to the scorching temperatures. But more often than not, Sansa insisted on their outings, determined to acquaint herself with as much of the Reach as possible.

She was an able mistress and it warmed his heart to see how gracious and kind the new lady of Highgarden was with its residents; from the visiting lords to the toiling charwomen, Sansa always had a gentle smile and a soft word. She impressed him with her intelligent questions regarding the management of the estate, and surprised him when she was neither alarmed nor intimidated by his hawks and falcons. He supposed he had underestimated this Northerner who had kept a pet direwolf as a girl.

Even the balmy evenings were a small joy to Willas. After retiring to their chambers, Sansa would hum sweetly as she brushed her hair and he would find himself smiling as he read weather and agricultural reports.

However, their nights, once the candles had been extinguished, were an entirely different matter. Willas discovered that despite their agreement, sleeping beside Sansa was a wholly uncomfortable experience. He was unused to sharing his bed, particularly with a woman he had promised not to touch, and Sansa, for her part, always laid next to him, unnaturally still, obviously tense. Willas had become quite afraid of accidentally touching someone afraid to be touched. The wedded pair took to laying on the bed as far to their respective edges as they could manage, the both of them feigning sleep until weariness claimed them.

That night, he was roused by the sound of whimpers and found his lady wife tossing in her sleep, agitated by her dreams. She woke with a small cry, tears trailing down her face. When she noticed he was awake as well, she tried to hide from him and murmured an apology. Willas did not allow Sansa to turn away, and gathered her into his arms. He gently brushed the hot tears from her face and turned her face into his chest, her warm breaths puffing against his skin. Hushing her stammered excuses, he laid back against their pillows and rocked her softly. He knew some of what Sansa had witnessed and endured before coming to Highgarden. Nightmares were understandable. His hand continued to stroke her hair for a while even after they had both fallen asleep; his last thought before his eyes drifted shut was the realization that his little wife had become quite dear to him.

________

Since that night, Sansa had shed her reservations towards Willas. She seemed to welcome his attention. She now gladly took his arm, her warm hand resting snug in the crook of his arm. Now she didn't greet him with downcast eyes, but rather a welcoming smile and a gladdened gaze. Sansa no longer avoided his touch, but rather turned into it softly, her face open and trusting. Willas thought of a bloom unfurling its petals in the morning warmth, a sunflower turning towards the sun and tracing its path across the sky.

One particularly searing afternoon, Willas elected to walk them through the shadiest plum orchard. A scorching wind blew through, and he shifted uncomfortably in his clinging tunic as he considered leading Sansa back towards the castle. When he turned to ask her if she was ready to return, Willas saw a tendril of hair had escaped her braid. He reached to tuck in the loose lock behind her ear, and his fingers trailed lightly to her neck. Rather than shy from the contact of his fingers, she leaned into it, transforming the economical gesture into a caress. Caught off guard, Willas held his hand near her pulse; he could feel her warm heartbeat. He looked into the blue of her eyes, not realizing how blazing his stare had become. She blushed and he recoiled, turning away flustered.

________

Flustered was a state Willas found himself growing accustomed to. It happened whenever Sansa would lean close to him at dinner to whisper something, her breath on his ear causing him to miss the words she had said. Or when they retired to their chambers and Sansa asked him to unclasp her necklace. She would hold her hair up and out of the way, and the heady scent of her red tresses made his fingers fumble.

But most flustering of all were the mornings when Willas would wake and find Sansa burrowing into his side, trying to hide her face from the bright morning sun. Even after years in King's Landing, Sansa had never grown accustomed to the warm Southron weather, and her night shifts were airy and gossamer thin. Her sweet form would be pressed against the length of him, her arm draped over his chest. He felt feverish everywhere they touched, whether it was the feel of the satin smooth skin of her bare arms or her legs where her shift had ridden up. And he would ask the Seven how he was supposed to honor his vow when she tempted him so.

________

Willas was a man who wasted no time denying realities. He sighed and faced the hard truth that he had come to desire his little bride.

Every part of him sought every part of her. His ears strained to hear her sweet laughter. His eyes sought the sight of the fiery corona of her hair when he feared she was lost in a crowd. He longed for the scent of her when trapped amongst the musty books and dry parchment; even when amidst the most fragrant gardens, he'd rather the perfume of her warm skin. His hands craved purchase on the curve of waist or the small of her back. Even his forehead longed for the gentle sweep of her fingers whenever she would brush his hair out of his eyes affectionately. His skin itched to touch hers, to slide against, rest upon, caress, graze, hold.

For any other lord, Willas mused ruefully, to desire one's wife was not so insurmountable obstacle in the least. But Willas had sworn to take nothing Sansa would not willingly give. And though at every turn, Sansa seemed encouraging and receptive, a sneaking suspicion had begun to take root, that in failing to assert himself as a husband, he was now seen as a brother by his little wife. From all her stories, it seemed she had been affectionate with the late Robb and both her younger brothers. Sansa was made for loving, and bloomed like a hothouse flower when showered with tender affection and attention. And oh how Willas ached to love her in every way possible

A ruthless part of him urged him to take her as he would, a dark and molten voice whispering he should claim her as his own. He wasn't fool enough to think that she would fight him, and her submission would be so so sweet. He would make sure it was good for her. He craved her satisfaction as much as his own. And maybe, just maybe, he could make Sansa care for him as a lord and husband, as a man.

________

These thoughts usually gripped him during the quiet moments when he was in the bath. And he would reach below the water to grip himself, the length of his arousal heavy and hot in his own hands. He groaned to think of Sansa in the steamy bath with him, her face flushed, her bosom just visible above the water as it heaved up in gasping breaths. Her small hands would shyly trace across his chest until they dared to dip below the water. She would find him turgid and eager, straining for her. When she would finally clasp him, he'd release a strangled moan and reach for her, burning to feel her wet body plastered against his and indulge in the sweet lips that he barely got to taste at their wedding. He would ply her beneath his hands and she could grip the strength of his arms as he taught her the secrets of her own body. It was the thought of sliding into her wet warmth that always brought his peak, not just how her body would bow as it snugly welcomed him, but the sounds he imagined she would make and the way her eyes would fall shut in ecstasy. It was the picture of her rapturous pleasure that always sent him over the edge, spilling his seed past his hands into the water, her name silently on his lips.

But then he would sigh, shamefacedly clean himself off, and remind himself that he had made a vow to his sweet little bride, and were he to push his suit and break her trust, any affection he may have imagined she held for him would surely disappear. That and he was an honorable man. Damn, he was an honorable man.