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those who wish to sing always find a song

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It's entirely different now, somehow. Jon's touches are as hot as they were the times they'd lain together before being wed, his words are still as sweet. He’d refused to spill inside her then – “I’ll not get a bastard on you, Sansa, even if we are to be married,” he’d told her, and it wasn’t something she begrudged him at all, even in her disappointment – but they’d done everything short of it and Sansa had never felt anything was missing, not until he lay with her fully and she knew what it was she’d missed. They’ve been married for a moon’s turn now and from the outset, from the bedding ceremony itself, there’s been some intangible difference in him, one she would be hard-pressed to describe should anyone ask and should she even be able to talk about such things without blushing and stammering. Before, their coupling had been as lovely as she'd always hoped, dreamy and sweet and blissful, how she’d always imagined it should be. What is between them now that they're wed, though, is beyond the comprehension of any child or girl, she thinks, all too intense and primal, something as sacred as it is profane. It's something only a woman could understand. Sansa had thought herself a woman before, but now she thinks maybe Jon has shown her she was wrong.

"I want to put a babe in you," he says one night, his tongue loosened by wine, his words as ardent as his touch. He throws her down on the feather ticking of the bed, pushes her knees apart with impatient hands and settles his body in the cradle of her hips, hard against her even through the layers of both their clothing. "I want to get my cock in your sweet cunt, I want to spend inside you and make you mine, I want to make a child with you who has red hair and blue eyes and a heart as sweet as yours." He sucks the lobe of her ear into his mouth, hooks his thumbs beneath her breasts, rocks his hips against her to make her hot and achy. “I want to see you round and heavy with my child, Sansa. I need you so much, I’ll never stop needing you, Sansa, my own Sansa, let me fuck you forever, let me get a thousand babes on you.” The words burrow deep inside her, they break something wild and free loose in her breast, and she welcomes him into her body, holds him with her arms and her legs, her mouth and her heart, holds him and knows she’ll never let him go, not this bastard boy who’s grown to become the best man she’s ever known. Not this man that she loves more than she ever knew possible.

It takes almost no time at all for her to get with child; unsurprising, perhaps, in light of how constantly he gives his attentions, how much he craves to spill himself within her. She says nothing at first, knowing that early pregnancies can be unstable and unpredictable. It's only when Ghost noses persistently at her belly that Jon takes in the barest thickening of her waistline and places a heartbreakingly tender and hesitant palm on the swell of her abdomen over her gown.

"Why didn't you say?" he asks, but there is no accusation in his voice, only joy-filled wonder and awe, and a thread of the boy she'd once known who longed for nothing more than a family that truly belonged to him and that he truly belonged to in turn. Suddenly she is savagely glad she can give such a thing to him, glad beyond the telling. She wants to gift him with it over and over and over, until Winterfell is filled with Starks again.

"I wanted to be sure," she says, placing her hand over his, pressing his fingers more firmly to show him that she won't break, that the life growing within her is made from both of them and is strong and sure and real. His kiss is dark and deep, heady, a sharp contrast to the delicacy of his touch. He drops to his knees and presses his face where his hand had been, smoothes his cheeks over her belly and holds his ear to her as if he could hear the babe inside. And then he's drawing her skirts up and throwing them over his head, shrouding himself in them as he works down her smallclothes and gets his tongue up inside her to lick and suck, and if she'd wondered whether his attentions would continue now that she's with child, she wonders no longer.

Her own hungers only grow as her pregnancy progresses. She wants his mouth on her to distraction, wants him inside her always, needing nothing so flowery as coupling or lovemaking but wanting only to be fucked, constantly and endlessly. It’s to her good fortune that he feels the same, seeking her out at all hours and in all places to pin her to a wall and suck marks on her neck, to whisper filthy, tender vulgarities in her ears of what he’d do to her if they were alone, to work his hand beneath her skirts at supper and bring her off before she can even clear her plate. She’s taken to napping in the afternoon when he’s distracted with the necessaries of ruling Winterfell, tired as she is from all the nights they don’t sleep, her on hand and knee with Jon behind her, his mouth at her ear to whisper and coax and worship, keeping at her body until she’s boneless with pleasure, wrung out like wet laundry, only love left inside her to give to him. After he discovers where she goes in the afternoon, he takes to waking her from those naps, often not even rousing her from sleep before sucking at her sensitive teats, or putting his mouth to her cunt, or pushing inside her as he lies at her back; her release comes to her in her dreams with such stunning pleasure that she invites him to wake her up in such a way whenever he likes. It’s a favor she returns in the morrows when she decides to put his dawn arousal to good use, and he seems to find it as excruciatingly pleasurable as she.

The first time the babe kicks, he’s there beside her and he feels it as soon as she does. The look on his face is startled, wonderstruck, so filled with joy and awe that Sansa begins to cry. She waves her hands feebly, brushes his concerns away when he asks if the kick hurt, if she’s all right. His hands are warm and big on her bare belly and she clutches them to her, kisses him and smiles and lets herself cry until he’s inside her, filling her so much she thinks she’ll never feel hollow again. He sleeps with his face against her belly that night, one hand splayed over it protectively, and she lies awake to tangle her fingers in the soft curls of his hair and hope that if the babe is male, he’ll look like Jon.

Labor is easier than Sansa expected, almost sudden. Only a few hours and their daughter slides into the world, crying only a little, pink-faced and perfect, not male but dark like Jon nonetheless, with a smattering of inky curls. Jon is at Sansa’s side through all of it – something that surely would have caused a commotion had they another maester besides Sam, as such a thing isn’t done, as far as Sansa can tell – and he’s the first to hold her, his face stunned and wide-open. He and the babe stare at each other, wondering and fascinated, and once more Sansa begins to cry, though no one could mistake these tears for anything but sheer, unadulterated happiness. She’s aching and exhausted, yet she wants nothing more than to get with child again immediately just so she can see this look on Jon’s face over and over.

“I thought we’d name her Catrin,” she says, and Jon doesn’t flinch at the name so close to her mother’s, the woman who had never been able to give him the love he wanted but whom Sansa thinks Jon has forgiven in his fashion. He smiles gently at their daughter, gives her one finger and watches, amazed, as her tiny fingers curl about it and can’t even reach around.

“Catrin,” he says softly. “It suits her.”

If Sansa thought Jon’s love for her broke her heart in the best way, his love for Catrin breaks it a hundred times over. No girl has ever been more loved, no child more doted upon. He bounces her on his chest, blows kisses on her belly and grins at her delighted gurgles, lets her mouth at his fingers with toothless gums, not caring at his sticky hands. Sometimes Sansa stays out of sight to watch him with her, to let her heart crack and dissolve at his gentle care, his whole-hearted love. It would make her jealous, if any room remained in her heart for such petty emotions. She knows she’d love any sons equally and she knows Winterfell needs an heir, but she finds herself hoping for more daughters, knowing that there could be no man better than Jon to show a girl what love truly looks like, to give her the gift of knowing her worth. He’s not Eddard Stark’s son after all, Sansa knows, despite being legitimized as a Stark, but he shares her father’s kindness, his gentleness and his endless well of love and compassion, moreso than any man she’s ever met, Stark or otherwise.

They keep no separate chambers, even after Sansa has given birth. Some had expected it, she knows, but the possibility had never occurred to her, nor him. His hunger for her never fades, never abates, no matter how many times he takes her, no matter how often he spills within her and rasps in her ear about getting another child on her, seeing her grow big with his babe inside her. She’d thought her own need might fade after Catrin’s birth, but it grows, until even one night without him seems like an eternity and each time he’s away, she finds him in the stables on his return, ordering everyone out and pushing him to the sweet-smelling hay so that she may ride him like the horse he rode home to her. They make love in the godswood under the blood-red leaves, they fuck in the hot springs with warm water swirling around them, there’s no place on her body that doesn’t know the feel of his lips and fingers and tongue, and no place likewise on his that doesn’t know hers.

She gives him one babe after another, year after year, Catrin, Edric, Robbett, Branwyn, Bendrick, Sohna, Dania, their children growing up close together like weeds. They play and shout with one another, tormenting Ghost and terrorizing Sam and running wild, piling into Jon and Sansa’s bed during storms long past the time they still frighten at the thunder. Sansa remembers doing the same, remembers how happy those times were and how Jon was never allowed. She wishes for storms now. She looks for his happiness on those nights they all spend heaped together and she holds it to her with both hands. She wants only to give him another son, another daughter, always one more child to fit in to the empty spaces in his heart. Her pregnancies are easy and happy, plagued by none of the sickness she’s heard women speak of. Truly, she’s happiest when she’s with child, and he loves her that way, and she counts herself lucky, so very lucky.

“You could not be lovelier,” Jon tells her, his hand upon her growing belly, his head upon her heart. “No one will ever be lovelier to my eyes.” That makes her count herself lucky too. Sansa can only think that this is what the songs meant, all the songs she loved as a girl. She didn’t know it at the time, she never expected it to look like this, but there’s no doubt in her heart that this is what they meant.