They’ve just gotten back from dinner at Margaery’s when Brienne clears her throat and says, “I think we need to get a divorce.”
She doesn’t look at Jaime, preoccupying herself with hanging her coat up so she doesn’t have to see his face when he clears his throat and shuffles his feet against the floor before speaking.
“Why?” His voice is strangely hoarse, and she’d normally turn and see what’s wrong, try to soothe whatever hurt he’s feeling. But she won’t be able to do this if she looks his way. She’s all too aware that he’s her great weakness, the one thing she can never resist.
“There’s no need for us to be married any longer,” she replies, finally closing the closet and walking into the kitchen while Jaime follows hot on her heels. “We’re both much better off money-wise than we were three years ago. And if I want to date, fall in love? How do I explain to someone that yes, I’m already married, but it’s fine because it’s just for financial security?”
Jaime makes a noise like he’s been punched behind her as she pulls a glass out of the cupboard and fills it to the brim with water. “Do...is there someone?” he asks tentatively. “Someone you’re interested in?”
Not unless you count yourself. She doesn’t say that, though, instead shaking her head and taking a long drink before speaking again. “No, not right now. But there could be someday, for either one of us. Don’t you want to be prepared for that possibility?”
She makes the fatal mistake of turning and looking at him when he doesn’t respond right away, and is hit full-on with the sight of his pleading green eyes staring at her, hurt lurking in his gaze. It would be so easy to walk across the room, to press her lips to the tight corner of his mouth and hope it’ll wipe away his pain, but those are the kind of thoughts that make it all the more important that she does this now, before it’s too hard to tear herself away. “Not really, actually,” he says after a long moment, blinking slowly before looking down at his feet. “I understand if...if you want to leave, though. I promise I won’t try to stop you.”
“It’ll be easy enough to end it,” she says, as if her heart isn’t being squeezed tight in the vise of her chest right now. “We made a pretty solid prenup at the beginning, and I don’t have any problems with both of us staying in the house until we find new places.”
He winces at her words, stepping closer and stretching one hand out towards her. She flinches, letting his hand fall away before he can touch her, and he retreats back to the far side of the kitchen with a wounded expression.
“Can you at least explain why?" he asks after a long moment, his words too loud in the silent house. “I know you’re not telling me the full truth, Brienne. We’ve been friends too long to lie to each other.”
The whole messy affair had started off the same way: we’ve been friends so long, it’ll be easy, she’d so naively said. He’d just been disinherited by his wealthy father, and she still had student loans to pay off, and it made sense to marry for the financial benefits, tax deductions and loans that made it so they could buy the house. She hadn’t realized how stupidly in love with him she was at the time; that came after almost three years of cohabitation, of coming home to each other at the end of every day, of having his smiling face be the first thing she saw every morning arriving in the kitchen in search of coffee.
At the end of all this, Jaime’s still her best friend, and she doesn’t want to see him hurt. But—as Sansa had told her over coffee the other day—she also has to protect herself, and staying married to the man she’s in love with who doesn’t return her feelings is decidedly not helpful in that regard.
“Does it matter why?” she mumbles, glancing away so he can’t convince her to tell him with his all-too-persuasive eyes. Even wounded and taut as a string across the room, he’s beautiful, and she briefly entertains an all-too-tempting fantasy of what it might be like to have him, truly have him, to see his golden skin bared before her, to have the burning heat of his gaze fixed on her as they surge against each other. They work so well together in everything else; it wouldn’t come as a shock if they were well suited in bed too.
No, she scolds her mind sharply, shaking off the image of him caught in the throes of pleasure. He’ll never be hers to hold close, no matter how much she wants him to be. These fantasies are only going to make it hurt more when he moves on, finds someone else who will be captured by his beauty and how easily he bares his heart to those who care for him. And she’s already been hurt by Jaime’s mere existence far too many times.
“Of course it matters,” he snaps, beginning to pace in front of her. “Brienne, if I did something, if I crossed a line somehow, I’m sorry. I won’t force you to stay, but can you at least talk to me about it?”
If I did something, she thinks, a near-hysterical laugh bubbling out of her as alarm rises on Jaime’s face. “You didn’t do anything,” she says, wringing her hands together. Nothing but be your beautiful, infuriating self.
“Then why?" he pleads, taking a step toward her before stopping in his tracks, his green eyes boring into her and sending shivers down her spine, and it would be so easy to give in, to stay, but she can’t, she has to put herself first even though it aches seeing him hurt like this…
“Because I’m in love with you!” she shouts suddenly, the words torn out of her before she can stop them. “And you don’t feel the same way, and I can’t…I can’t constantly be around you if you don’t feel the same way! It’s too hard!”
For a long moment, he gapes at her while she blinks back tears, bracing herself for whatever he’s about to fling at her. Then, oddly, a slow smile spreads across his face, the devastatingly fond grin he only ever seems to wear around her.
“Well, that makes things much easier,” he says, and she’s still trying to process that statement when he strides across the room to wrap his arms around her, a hand rising to cup her cheek as he stares up into her eyes, his thumb swiping away her tears. “You see, I’ve spent the better part of three years pining for my best friend, constantly trying to find the perfect gesture that’d prove my feelings to her, and then wondering if she’ll ever feel the same way about me when she never seems to understand what I’m trying to say, so it’s a relief to learn my feelings weren’t unrequited after all.”
It’s her turn to gape at him, a thousand lingering looks and unnecessary touches and cut-off sentences clicking together and finally making sense, and then they’re both moving in at the same time, their noses bumping against each other before they pull back and she’s laughing again, this time breathless and delighted, and he smiles at her, the same smile he reserves for her, for her, and then she has no idea who moves first but they’re kissing, their lips pressed together, his tongue gently inquiring against hers while she wraps her hands around the back of his head to pull him in closer.
They’re both panting when they finally break apart, their foreheads pressed together while they catch their breath. Jaime frowns for a moment, and she’s about to ask why when he says, tentatively, “Does this mean you’ll stay? You don’t have to, of course, but…”
“Of course it does,” she whispers, and then their lips meet again, and any other words flee her mind.
They press closer together while their tongues dance in the space between their mouths, her hands tangling in his hair, his palm spread across the small of her back while his other arm wraps around her waist. His mouth is warm against hers, his hair soft beneath her touch, and when he groans against her lips, his hips jerking forward, she pulls away just far enough to see the bulge in his jeans, the dark heat blazing in his eyes even as his frown returns and uncertainty bleeds into the edges of his expression.
She surges forward before his doubt can grow, sending him stumbling back until he’s leaning against the counter, and he gasps into her mouth, his hands shifting to toy with the hem of her shirt before creeping underneath it, stroking slowly over her skin until she squirms against him, rubbing against the front of his jeans and gasping into his mouth when heat trails down her spine and begins to pool between her thighs.
“Should we wait?” Jaime asks when he draws back at last, even as his hungry eyes rove over her body, soaking her in. “I don’t especially want to, but I also don’t want us to rush into things and end up regretting it if...if we don’t work out.”
One of her hands slides down to cup the back of his neck and keep his gaze locked on hers as she squares her shoulders. “Haven’t we waited long enough?” she murmurs, and despite the fear and arousal battling for dominance in her stomach she knows both their fears are unfounded, knows it as certainly as she knows her love for him. “We both want this—it’s more likely we’ll regret it if we wait any longer than we already have.”
He grins again, and for once she lets herself bask in the warmth of it. “Well, I can’t argue with that logic,” he says, pressing another hard kiss to her lips before she takes his hand and urges him to follow her down the hall to their bedrooms, guiding him into hers before kicking the door closed and kissing him again, her hands roaming all over his back while he groans and tugs her hips closer.
There’s a brief thrill of terror when he’s hard and pressed up against her even as something deep inside of her clenches, something she hadn’t realized was empty until this moment, and she forces it aside in favour of yanking at his shirt, trying to pull it over his head. This is Jaime, her best friend, the person who knows her better than anyone. She knows she has nothing to fear from him.
But when he huffs out a laugh and steps away to finish pulling his shirt off, she freezes. She’s seen him shirtless before—and very deliberately avoided him on those occasions—but it’s very different seeing him like this for her and her alone, golden and strong and the object of too many fantasies she shouldn’t have been having on those late nights when only a wall lay between them. It’s very different when he’s watching her with hungry eyes, when his fingers are fumbling on the buttons of her blouse and helping her shrug it off her shoulders, when his lips are crashing against hers once again and he’s sliding his hands up along her back so he can tug at the clasp of her bra.
His fingers brush against the underside of her breasts as he removes her bra, and she shudders against him. Jaime tosses her bra aside and then falters, his eyes fixed on her chest. The moment stretches out uncomfortably long, and she’s on the verge of stepping away and wrapping an arm around her chest when he groans deep in the back of his throat and steps closer, cupping her breasts and capturing her mouth in another bruising kiss.
Brienne shifts against him, pressing close enough to rub against his thigh. Her head falls back on a gasp when he releases her mouth and lowers his head to mouth at her breasts.
“I...dammit...gods, I hope you have condoms hidden somewhere,” he says, biting off a moan when she presses her lips against the side of his neck, his fingers hooking into the waistband of her jeans and tugging her closer.
She nods uselessly for a moment, panting as her hips roll against his thigh one more time before she reluctantly pulls herself back. “Margaery gave me some the other day when she and Sansa were trying to convince me to hook up with someone else to get over you,” she finally murmurs, her mouth inches from his ear.
He tenses against her, easing once her lips trail back down his neck and she finally steps back. “You’ll have to thank them for me later,” he says, his voice a low rumble that sends sparks shooting through her.
Heat flares in her cheeks as she turns and digs through her bedside table, looking for the box she’d shoved there, never anticipating she’d need to make use of it so soon. When she turns back around, he’s removed his jeans and boxers, a surprisingly uncertain expression on his face as he stands nude before her. She lets a low moan escape her at the sight, drinking in the sculpted muscles of his chest and the hard line of his cock with eager eyes.
He tilts his head to the side, a slow smirk curling on his lips until she takes two steps forward and kisses him again, biting down hard on his lip while he melts against her, one hand fumbling for the button on her pants so he can begin tugging them off.
She breaks the kiss and pulls her underwear off when he pauses, his eyes wandering down her body, and she’s on the verge of asking if something’s wrong when he groans again.
“Fuck, I always forget how long your legs are.”
She smacks him in the chest with the box of condoms, and he bursts out laughing. His bright smile illuminates the room better than any lamp could, and she desperately wants to kiss it off his face, absorb some of that warmth into her and keep it next to her heart in the place she’d hollowed out for him long ago. She settles for wrapping her arms around his shoulders instead, tossing the box onto the bed behind him and pressing her lips to the corner of his mouth, feeling it quirk upwards as she draws back to take in the soft smile on his face and his hand smoothing her hair back, tucking it behind her ear. Then he kisses her, soft and sweet but quickly growing in intensity when she begins to guide them towards the bed, falling back against the sheets and pulling him down on top of her.
Jaime pushes himself up on his elbows, his gaze flitting up and down her body before locking with hers, and for once she lets all the feelings she’s been tucking into a corner of her mind bleed onto her face, lets herself see the adoration in his gaze for what it is without trying to explain it away as something else. They’re finally laid bare before each other, and neither has shied away as she’s feared, as he must have feared if he feels for her the same way she does for him.
His hand sneaks in between their bodies while she’s distracted, brushing against the heat of her cunt, and they both moan when his fingers slowly stroke over her, rubbing slow circles against her clit until she’s arching up into his touch, panting out desperate breaths. When he withdraws, she whimpers, past the point of caring how needy she might sound.
He slides down the bed, his eyes glittering like jewels when he settles and gently urges her legs wider. And then his mouth is on her cunt, and she’s writhing beneath him as his tongue swirls around her clit. Her hands bury in his soft gold hair, holding him close while he nuzzles at her thighs, sinks his tongue inside her and rubs his nose against her skin, and heat shivers down her spine.
She tugs at his hair when she comes with a gasp of his name, and he swipes his tongue over her one more time before raising his head, a grin slowly spreading across his face that she wants to kiss away. And she can do that now, doesn’t have to restrain herself any longer, so she’s wearing her own smile when she presses her lips against his, tasting herself on his tongue as he moves back up the bed, his cock brushing against her thigh and stirring warmth in her belly once again.
He finally pulls away and flops back against the pillows, smiling leisurely up at her in an invitation she has no hope of refusing. It’s a matter of moments to sit up and shift until she’s straddling him, one hand reaching to grab the box of condoms and tear it open. His cock brushes against her inner thighs as she shifts atop him, increasing her hunger for him, for the length of him inside her, for them to finally be joined in a way they’ve been denying themselves of for years.
“You need any help with that?” he asks lazily when her fingers stutter around the box, distracted by the feeling of his cock against her leg, and he laughs when she glares at him, setting off another burst of joy in her chest. He reaches out for her like he had earlier in the kitchen, and this time she lets his fingers glide over her cheek, lets his thumb rub against her jaw and watches something bright and warm settle onto his face, his heart bared before her alongside his body.
“It’d be easier if you’d stop trying to distract me,” she grumbles, her face heating when he offers her a sly grin and stretches out beneath her, emphasizing the fact that he’s lying naked and eager in her bed. It’s all her fantasies brought to life at once, and she forces herself to look away in order to finish her task, fully aware he’s smirking up at her as she does, smug and infuriating and far too beautiful for his own good and everything else that makes him Jaime, this man she loves with her entire being.
She finally tugs a foil packet free of the box and tosses it aside. It lands with a thump somewhere on the floor, but she doesn’t linger on it. Jaime watches her open the packet and roll the condom over his cock, uncharacteristically silent even as his eyes leave burning trails across her skin and set her to shivering, desperate to feel him inside her.
Her fingers brush against him as she moves her hand away and he stiffens, the hunger in his eyes burning even hotter while she slowly lifts herself up to hover over him. The tip of his cock barely brushes against the wetness of her cunt, and she pauses, swallowing down a sudden burst of uncertainty before carefully sinking down onto him, groaning deep in the back of her throat as the hard length of him eases into her one careful inch at a time.
“Gods, Brienne,” he gasps, his head falling back against the pillows, and she smiles before groaning again when she settles atop him, the length of his cock deep inside her, filling the empty spaces of her body and her heart with Jaime and his impossible, incredible love for her.
Her eyes flutter closed and she stills, unable to do more than savour the feeling of his thumbs rubbing in slow circles against her hips, soothing the tension in her spine as she clenches around him, this time full to bursting with his cock and his love and everything she’d thought she could never have. He breathes out her name again, sounding awed and adoring and a tiny bit terrified all at once, and it’s the reassurance she needs to open her eyes and slowly roll her hips against his, once, twice, until they’re both moaning and he thrusts up into her.
They quickly settle into a rhythm, the pace slowly increasing as her arousal builds. He’s impossibly hard inside her, his voice is rough as he endlessly prattles on even now, telling her you feel so good, Brienne, so damn good, gods, why did we take so long to figure this out, and she finds herself enraptured above him, torn between the urge to let his stream of words wash over her or steal the last of his breath from his mouth.
Jaime’s freely bucking against her when she succumbs to the temptation to kiss him, whispering her name into her mouth over and over between low moans that vibrate through her chest and settle between her thighs, making her tighten around him. She bites down on a whimper, her eyelids fluttering as she fights to keep her gaze fixed on his face. It isn’t long before her attempts to hide her gasping moans become utterly useless, and she chokes out his name between shallow breaths as his movements grow more erratic, what little control he had long gone.
“Brienne,” he groans, his entire body going stiff, and then she can feel the heat of him through the condom as he comes, his back arching and his eyes closing. It’s a beautiful sight, Jaime stretched out before her in the throes of pleasure, and she wants to see it again, every day after this if possible. She’s lived without him for too long already.
She doesn’t expect to come again, but her hips roll against him a few more times, and then she’s tightening around him, her head falling back and her eyes closing as warmth washes over her and leaves her trembling.
Jaime’s smiling up at her when she opens her eyes and looks at him, his joy so plain on his face that her heart swells at the sight. He slides out of her as she moves to lie down beside him, reaching out to take his hand as she does. Their fingers curl around each other’s while his other hand shifts to stroke her hair, moving in smooth circles over the back of her head before creeping down to rub at her neck and back.
“You were right,” he says after they’ve been lying in silence for a minute, each word breathed softly against her cheek. “We would’ve regretted waiting any longer.”
“Well, I am always right,” she teases, and he chuckles, the sound rumbling through her and settling in with the warm glow of contentment that has yet to fade.
He’s not quite smiling anymore, but there’s a softness lingering in his eyes as he looks at her, the same tender care that’s always been there and she’s ignored out of disbelief or fear or a combination of the two. There’s more to be discussed—what they’re going to tell their friends, if they should turn this sham of a marriage into a real one—and they should take care of the mess at some point, but for now she wraps her free arm around his shoulders and pulls him close until there’s almost no space between them, soaking in his presence and the peace settling within her, as sure and steady as everything has always been for them, as she hopes everything will continue to be for many years to come.