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The Lion's Mouth

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Title: The Lion’s Mouth
Author: [info]just_a_dram
Fandom: ASOIAF
Pairing: Jaime/Sansa
Rating: T for vague adult concepts
Word Count
: 2480
Summary: Sometimes all he wants is to forget who they are and forget the rest of the world, but he’s made a promise.
Author’s Note: This is part of the A Wolf Among Lions universe of which A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing is a part.  The Lion’s Mouth is set some time prior to events of that fic. 

 

The Lion’s Mouth

The short days of winter have brought darkness earlier than Jaime would have liked.  Darkness crept over the training yard hours earlier, supper was served in the hall, and there he remained, hacking away, never as skilled as he needs to be.  Never convinced he can successfully protect what he has vowed to protect, and on some days he can think of little else, preoccupied by everything he’s lost and what he still stands to lose.  He’s more than just a sword, but just barely, and what good is a lame swordsman?

With the door of his chamber shut behind him, he huffs in frustration, shedding his tunic in a one handed motion that used to give him some difficulty.  Of course, there are some things he’s become skilled at without his right hand, he thinks with a smirk.  Some rather pleasant things.

In that moment, he realizes that he is not alone in his chamber, and it’s only his exhaustion and the ache in his muscles that have made him slow to recognize it.  If Sansa was an assassin, he’d be dead by now.

But she’s just a highborn woman.  A woman his family has put through seven hells in this world.  She has every right to press a knife to his throat in the night, but thus far she has only pressed her lips to his thundering pulse.

There is a stub of a candle, guttering away in a draft from the open window, shedding light on the pale of her shoulder, which peeks out from the heavy furs that cover her nakedness.  He knows firsthand how smooth that shoulder will feel under his roaming hands.

It’s almost as if she wants to prove she’s a Stark with this obsession to have her windows wide open in the middle of winter.  At least, he assumes she sleeps with her windows open, because she insists upon it when she comes to his chamber under the cover of darkness.

He strides over to the chair in the corner to pull off his boots.  He would stop to close the window, because she’s already asleep and this is his chamber and Casterly Rock was once his birthright, so if he thinks it’s too damn cold to sleep with the window open, he can damn well close it.  But the noise might wake her, and she looks so peaceful, so young with her hair fanned across the pillow and her lips slightly parted that he doesn’t want to risk it.

She doesn’t always sleep so peacefully.

Neither does he.  He split her lip not so long ago, thrashing in his sleep, and although she knew he’d been sleeping and waking he would never lay a hand on her, the look of betrayal that crossed her face had twisted his stomach and made him kiss her, tasting the tang of iron, and vow all over again that he’d protect her from them all.  Himself included.  He’s barred his door to her ever since.

And yet, here she sleeps.  That will teach him to stay out later than the rest of the household.

He tries to noiselessly place his boots on the floor, but despite his best efforts, she wakes, her hair a waterfall of red as she props herself up in the bed and pulls the furs to her breast, covering herself with a genuine modesty which still baffles and intrigues him.  Her coming here will result in him doing a great deal more than seeing an expanse of bare skin, so it seems a pointless gesture, and she cannot doubt that she is beautiful.  She is unquestionably so, and he thinks he’s told her so, whispered it against her skin.

Cersei never would have…

He lets the thought die, as he runs his hand through his hair.

“I didn’t mean to wake you.”

It’s his room, so he need not apologize, but there is so much else he can be faulted for, that this apology costs him very little.

“I wasn’t sleeping,” she says, blinking her blue eyes at him in the shifting darkness.

Of course not.  His little actress, playing a part she imagines might please him or whoever else, while keeping who she truly is locked somewhere deep inside.

He sighs, as he finds his feet and moves towards the bed.  Sometimes he catches himself thinking of her as his own, when he knows she doesn’t belong to him.  Nor her husband either.  Sansa belongs to no man.  But he has become her creature.

He thinks he’s caught enough snatches of Sansa’s real self to know her, to almost understand her, but there’s a chance—perhaps a good one—that’s he’s misjudged her entirely.  That might be why she sometimes looks so very alone.  He knows the feeling.

“I should call the guards and have them carry your pert arse out of here,” he says, as he pulls back the furs, and she shifts to the side, still holding them to her chest, as she makes room for him.

“You wouldn’t.”

He raises his brows at her.  “Wouldn’t I?  Tyrion gave you the house, my lady, but this bed, I believe, is still mine.”

He doesn’t bother with his breeches and smallclothes—she’s more adept at removing them than he is—before sliding under the furs.

“The guards listen to me before they do you,” she says, wasting no time as she slips between his arm and chest and rests her head in the crook of his shoulder.  She fits there in a way he would have never anticipated.  “And you sleep better with me here,” she murmurs, as she rubs her nose against him like a kitten.

He thinks she’s right.  The circles under his eyes since he locked Sansa out have grown dark and deep.  Already there’s something like relief spreading through his limbs, as she tucks herself closer to him, her long legs tangling with his beneath the furs.  As long as she’s here, he knows where she is, knows she’s as safe as you can be in this world of dragons and Wights.

He bends his arm to tangle his fingers in her thick hair and tilt her head back until he can press a kiss to her forehead.  He kept her out, but now that she’s found her way back here his heart is already pounding against his ribs.

“You’re sleeping potion made flesh,” he teases, and she rewards him with a little half smile.

She must know he lies, for her fingers have wandered and found proof of his ample alertness.  He remembers feeling bone tired from his efforts in the training yard only a moment ago, but her warm flesh against him has made sleep impossible.

Her smile fades and her fingers still, as she pauses to gaze up at him.  He catches her giving people this evaluative stare.  There is a depth to her obscured by smiles and gowns and sweet words.  She is always listening, learning.  She observes the world around her and knows more than anyone would suspect.

Queen Daenerys is sleeping with her Lord Commander, she’d told him once.

If Sansa said it was true, she was probably right.  She had seen something the rest of them had failed to notice.

He’d laughed and sang—rather poorly, because he was drunk, he was always drunk when they were forced to come to King’s Landing at Daenerys’ bidding—a line or two from The Bear and the Maiden Fair in honor of the Lord Commander and their crowned queen, an odd pair.  It was as bad as Lady Sansa with a greying, one-handed, former Lord Commander.

She’d frowned at him.  Stop singing that.

He’d asked her why, as he’d grabbed her and danced her around her chamber without accompaniment until the backs of her knees hit the bed.  Sansa was fond enough of dancing that she didn’t mind his stump.  It was the golden hand she didn’t like—too cold on her skin.

Because it’s not a funny song, and you smell of wine.

That had only made him laugh harder.  In some ways Sansa was still impossibly innocent.  Of course, then he’d been forced to instruct her to be a good girl and cover her mouth so he could show her exactly what the song was about without waking the whole of the Red Keep.

“You’re constantly in the yard,” she says softly, and he can see from the way she eyes him that she knows something that perhaps he hasn’t yet acknowledged himself.  “What are you fighting?”

“A training dummy.”

She shakes her head a little, as she sucks her lower lip in thought.  “It isn’t that.  I know it isn’t that.”

“Two training dummies.  I wore one out.”

“Jaime,” she says, drawing out his name.

“Never mind,” he urges, his voice harsh, as he attempts to pull her in for a kiss that will end this line of questioning, but she dodges his efforts, her hands splayed against his chest for leverage.  He can’t bear to use the advantage of his strength against her, the way he would have with…

His eyes close for one long moment.

As they open again, he swallows drily, hoping he can outwait her tender concern.  But, as he lies there, he can see that her distress only mounts, her lip trembling and her brows twitching together, as if she is fighting off tears.

She is the one to break the silence that hangs heavy between them, because he can think of nothing to say that might appease her.

“Do you imagine that we two will be fighting forever?  Until the day we die?”

When she’s thought he wasn’t looking, he’s seen this pervading sadness dim her features.  He can barely stand the sight of it; her pooling tears are like salt in his wounds.  He leans, stretching out of her grasp towards the candle, ready to blow it out, to shut out the sight of her clouded eyes, when he’s stopped by her hand.  It closes on his arm.

“Leave it.”

He knows it for a command even though it is said in her usual gentle tones.

“So you can count the silver in my hair, my lady?” he says with a slow, false smile.

“No,” she says, her fingers tightening.  “So you can’t pretend I’m someone else.”

His gut clenches.  His first instinct is to throw her off.  To storm from the room, so he won’t have to face this, but he stays, because his impetuousness has been dimmed with age and regret.

Running would do him no good: Sansa knows or at very least suspects his multitude of sins.  She knows who haunts him.  She knows exactly what he fights.  No doubt she knows where it is he went after he unintentionally hurt her, who he saw, so as to remind himself who he is and why his only reason for being alongside Sansa should be to fulfill a vow made long ago.

 Whatever unreasonable anger he felt at her accusation fades, when she says, “I’m Sansa Stark,” so quietly that he wonders if she believes it herself.

He is sure of her, however.  Winterfell is in ruins, but lovely Sansa Stark belongs there.  He’ll see her installed there one day, he’s promised it to her and Lady Stoneheart.  Then Sansa can do with him as she pleases.

“Of course you are,” he says, tracing her jaw with his knuckles.  He knows how lost Sansa was inside Alayne when he found her, how long she clung to that false identity Littlefinger had bestowed upon her, as if that was the only thing in the world that could protect her.  “I’m half frozen,” he says, nodding towards the open window, “thanks to your icy Stark blood.”

“Please,” she says, her voice breaking, as she stares back at him, untouched by his levity.

Sansa is kind and soft spoken and gentler than any woman he has ever touched, but there is a steely strength there beneath the yielding surface that won’t allow her to beg.

Yet, here they are.

He struggles to sit up in the bed, and as his back finds the giant carved headboard, he drags her up until she straddles his lap and he can look her properly in the face.  He holds her gaze for a moment, as his good hand finds the narrow of her waist, bare to his touch.  Only then does he lean into her, and as his mouth settles close to the shell of her ear, his voice is thick: “Sansa, I don’t pretend.”

Littlefinger did enough pretending with her, and despite what she might fear, he wouldn’t want to imagine that Sansa is his twin.  Cersei is not far, she never is, but he doesn’t want her here entwined in his arms.  Not anymore.  He is haunted by the past, but his future can never be with his sister.  Whatever desire he still had for her went up in flames with Tommen.

“I don’t,” he says again on a growl, and although he can see the sadness lingering in her eyes, she slips her hand into his hair, rubbing at the nape of his neck—almost as if to reassure him.

“You know,” she begins, but he manages to distract her train of thought, his hand settling into the small of her back and bringing her harder against him.

“Yes?” he asks, coolly cocking a brow at her.

Her hand fists his hair.  “Sometimes I forget who you are too,” she says, as she rocks against him temptingly.  “I forget I still have my head in the lion’s mouth.”

He nips at her throat, his teeth scraping her skin, as if on cue, and she gasps, arching against him.

Not much of a lion anymore, Jaime can’t help but think.  He poses as much danger to her as the tabby that graces the bed in her chamber, but he can see where Sansa would want to forget it’s the Kingslayer’s bed she warms.  Neither of their paths would have made their fathers proud.

He’s seized by an almost primal urge to roll her over, to press her into the bed and kiss her, until they’ve both forgotten the rest of the world, so it won’t matter that he’s a Lannister and she’s a Stark.  Her free hand is busy at his laces, working furiously to free him, and he grimaces, thinking how easy it would be to do just that.

But, he can’t afford to forget: he’s made a promise.

That doesn’t mean he need give this up, however, he thinks, as he crushes his lips against hers.

“Sansa,” he urges against her mouth.  He says it once, twice, her name a fresh promise.

“Yes,” she says, as her hand closes around him.

“We’ll let the candle burn tonight.  To remind us both.”

THE END