Sansa sniffs, as she dabs at the corner of her eye with the Kleenex. The effort of holding back her tears today during the course of the funeral and this seemingly endless reception, where frowning faces offer bland condolences, has made her eyes burn and her head ache. She learned several years ago to save her tears for her pillow, but today has overwhelmed her normal powers of concealment. The only thing she feels anymore is an infinite and uncontainable sadness, so she didn't quite made it to her pillow today. The upstairs guest bath had to suffice.

Waterproof mascara and a little foundation tucked inside her clutch are enough to preserve her composed exterior for the crowd of people milling around her parents' home. No one would have been the wiser. Except the doorknob turns, and before she can croak out that someone is inside and throw her used tissue in the basket to be rid of the evidence, she sees Jon's eyes reflected back in the mirror.

"I'm sorry. I should have knocked," he says, pulling back out of the doorframe with his gaze quickly turned to the floor, as if he's caught her doing something far more embarrassing than crying.

Although, perhaps given the protective shell she's cultivated for herself, the outward Sansa he's come to know, crying really is the most embarrassing thing she could do.

She reaches for the door, stopping him from closing it any further. "It was my fault. I didn't lock it." Which she should have, since this is Jon's bathroom for the length of his visit as Robb's friend turned fellow mourner. He's set up in the room next to hers with just a wall between them, but he's never felt so far away. She hates it. Mindless chatter seems like the only way to make sure he doesn't disappear entirely from this room and her life. "Careless of me, when I'm trying to hide."

"I actually had the same thing in mind."


He hasn't spoken to her since he arrived yesterday, when all she got was a mumbled hello and a quick kiss on the cheek for appearances, and now that he's begun, she doesn't want him to stop, however haltingly and awkwardly this exchange is bound to be.

"Yeah. Listen, I'll leave you. I don't really need the bathroom."

"You do. To hide. Come inside and shut the door," she says, balling up her tissue and tossing it in the trash.

He hesitates before stepping through the door. His reluctance is as understandable as his silence has been. No one would find it odd. It isn't as if they were close when they were teenagers and there were plenty of opportunities. Jon was an almost constant fixture in the Stark household thanks to his dysfunctional family dynamic. But the rapport he shared with the rest of Robb's siblings did not extend to Sansa. It was partly her fault: she thought there was something vaguely objectionable about Jon or Jon's family, something she didn't really want to be associated with at school, where people could be brutal about anything that made you different. But the blame couldn't be placed solely in her corner. There were other things that kept them from ever really mixing. She was too close in age to Robb and Jon to be slotted into the pesky little sister role, too different to be a friend, and if Jon ever entertained thoughts of her in high school, she was most probably considered off limits for more than friends thanks to some guy code.

That a relationship between his best friend and his sister wouldn't be welcomed by Robb was both of their assumptions, when Jon and Sansa began their relationship right under Robb's nose back in the city. Although calling it a relationship wasn't really indicative of what went on between them for three months. The old Sansa, the one with fairy tale notions about men and sex, would have balked at calling it fucking. Hell, she would have balked at doing nothing but fucking, but that's what it was and that is all they ever did, because she wasn't that romantic minded girl anymore.

They sneaked around and they fucked. They spent hours shut away in his bedroom, and it was good, really good. Surprisingly so, given how somber Jon tended to act and how awkward he'd always seemed around girls. He was attentive in a way she'd never experienced before and flatteringly intense about the whole thing. It was like she was everything, like what they were doing was everything. And he smiled sometimes, when she ran her nails lightly up his sides, until her heart did funny things in her chest.

It might have been good, but there were no dinners out, no cheesy movies and shared popcorn, no real dates at all, and she was certain that's exactly how she wanted it. Safe. Controlled. Properly defined with limits that didn't extend her too far outside herself, so she still knew who she was when she was with him.

When Jon started suggesting they come clean to Robb, so he wouldn't feel like such a creep and they could be a real couple, it felt like everything was spinning out of control. It wasn't worth it anymore—the sex, his smile, that warm feeling that started in her belly and spread down to her fingers and toes, when he managed to whisper the perfect thing in her ear. She broke it off in what she thought at the time was a highly evolved manner, leaving them both no worse off than they'd been before, because it hadn't been real after all. Just fucking. It's been fun. It was always just a fling. No hard feelings.

Since she's seen how Jon can't look at her whenever they're in a room together, she realizes her masterstroke of maturity was nothing short of nasty. Armor is supposed to protect you. That's why she'd worked so hard to make hers impenetrable, to shield herself from all the terrible stuff life throws at you and all the assholes that want to take advantage of you. It did its job to a point, but it looks like her armor was weaponized.

Which makes his reluctance to cram into this bathroom with the toes of his dress shoes nearly touching her black heels more than understandable. It's hardly the escape he was probably looking for, when he came upstairs.

"There are people here who couldn't care less about Robb or any of you," he says, leaning against the door as it closes with a soft click. "I couldn't take it anymore."

"I've been thinking the same thing," she says with another sniff. "Especially with the Freys. The whole ugly lot of them, looking like they can barely hold back their smiles. What's their problem?"

Jon shrugs, and she can hear the rustle of his white shirt with the small movement. The sound triggers a memory from a night she came over after Jon had been to a wedding of a college buddy, where she had teasingly made him promise to dance with someone and then spent hours wondering if some girl was pawing at him. He had been similarly attired that night, when she surprised him at his apartment door in nothing but a belted coat and a satin slip to run her fingers over the collar of his crisp shirt, dip her fingers underneath to touch the hot skin beneath, and trail her fingers down to the first button… It's so potent a visual she rocks back until her backside presses against the marble counter to steady herself. She shouldn't think like that. She shouldn't want things she can't have.

He's taken off his suit coat, ditching it somewhere, and his sleeves are rolled up to his elbows, exposing the ropey veins on his forearms. It's hot out, and while Sansa was feeling a little warm in her black dress at the service, it must have been miserable for Jon and her brothers in wool. No wonder he was quick to get free of it. It fits awfully well, especially the pants. Too well to be borrowed, but Jon's not someone who usually wears a suit, which is reason enough to loosen his tie and divest himself of the coat regardless of today's temperature.

"Are you all right?" he asks, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "I mean," he stops to shake his head. "I know you're not. We're all a fucking mess, but I worried about you today with Joffrey. He has some nerve, showing up here after..."

He trails off. He alone knows the truth about Joffrey, because she chose to tell him, when she'd carried the secret of what went on in her relationship with the Baratheon boy for months without telling a soul. Jon respected her wishes that he leave Joff alone, despite wanting to take his head. The thing about Jon is she knows he'll continue to respect her wishes, even if she treated him like dirt.

That's why it wasn't simply an act of cruelty, blowing Jon off like he'd never mattered to her. It was a complete lie. It was more than a fling. If it had been a fling, she would have never opened up to him, told him secrets while wrapped around him in the flannel sheets of his bed, confessing every sordid detail of her relationship with Joff and the mess with Petyr. It wasn't only Jon's heart she broke. Once she ended it with him, there was a whole side of the city she couldn't step foot in, afraid she'd see him and break down like a heartsick teen girl. But once she'd done it, she couldn't very well call him up and say she'd made a mistake and would he take her back? She had a little pride left, and it had taken her a long time to build that stupid pride back up to dash it all to pieces over a guy.

It was the power that seduced her and the fear that drove her to act like she did. She'd never been the one to end something with a boyfriend. She'd never been the one to set limits and direct the course of a relationship. And Jon being Jon, she'd had all the power. He always asked permission. He always respected her choices. He was gentle and good, and instead of appreciating him for what he was and being equals, partners, something real, she let herself get carried away with the power that gave her over him. At the time, the choice to cut things off seemed justified by her fear of risking her heart with anyone, even Jon Snow, long time family friend and all around good guy, and she wrongly thought empowerment would accompany her decision.

Joffrey and Petyr really screwed her up.

"Joff is the least of my problems, I guess."

First her father, now Robb, gone in the space of less than a year, taken in unexpected and violent ways that couldn't possibly be part of God's plan.

"You'll tell me if you want me to, I don't know, throw him out of this house. Otherwise I won't say another word about it."

It's too gallant an offer, and her eyes slip closed for a moment, imagining how today might be different if she'd gone along with Jon's plan to tell Robb and make things official. Different for her and different for him, sharing their loss, instead of standing stiffly apart in silence.

Jon's right: her family's a mess. Her life's a mess. The past couple of years have been little more than a series of tragic episodes punctuated by badly informed choices and overwhelmingly painful consequences, and there's been largely nothing she could do about any of it. Except this.

"Listen, I was wrong, and maybe now isn't the time to tell you, but I need to say something about it."


He sounds about as sure of letting her air whatever it is she wants to say to him as he should given the content of their last conversation, but of course he lets her speak.

She kicks one foot out, wiggling the toe of her heel, as she gathers the nerve to confess how very wrong she was from day one with him.

"We should have told Robb about us. He would have been pissed at you and then he would have gotten over it, because he knew better than any of the rest of us how great you are."

His mouth opens and closes, and she feels as if her heart has stopped for more beats than can possibly be safe, when he finally asks, "Would it have made a difference?"

"In what exactly?"

He stretches out a hand, his fingers resting on the sink not a half foot away from her. "Us?"

She doesn't want to take heart in that 'us,' but at least he hasn't reached the conclusion over the past few months that what they'd been was nothing more than what she assured him it was, a casual fling, not deserving of a real title. There was something there. Something important. Something she threw away.

"I didn't end it because of Robb."

He nods, and she can see by the sudden tenseness in his jaw that he's prepared for a speech similar to the one she delivered before she left his apartment in a cab, because it's the same closed off look he wore that night. She ignored it then, but now it makes her want to brush back his curls and nudge his nose with her own until she teases that little smile she loves so much from the corners of his lips.

"My reasons don't matter." Explaining that what she did that night was about her insecurities will only sound like an excuse, and she doesn't feel right making excuses for her behavior. "It was a mistake, okay? A really big, dumb mistake I wish I could take back. I've regretted it for months, and I'm sorry."

"I wanted to call you when I found out about Robb," he says, his voice rough, as his hand closes the distance between them and brushes her wrist, where it's flexed against the edge of the counter.

"You can always call me," she assures him, though it sounds stupidly idealistic coming out of her mouth.

He would hardly want to call her after how things ended between them.

"That was…a really bad night," he says, his index finger gently worrying the side of her arm, sending a chill up the back of her neck.

"I know."

The worst of her life. Or at least as bad as the one when her father was taken from them. It couldn't have been much different for Jon. Robb and Jon were more than friends. They were brothers.

"I wanted to call you. I stared at my damn phone, wanting to call you. But I couldn't make myself."

"Smart man," she says, forcing herself to smile. "No one could blame you for staying as far away from me as possible."

"Don't do that," he says, his fingers circling her wrist.

It's the kind of movement that from Joff would have made every muscle in her body tensing for something bad, but with Jon all she wants to do is lean into him. She's safe with him. Even if he's angry with her—and he has every right to be—she's still totally safe.

"Do what?"

"Fake your smile. I hate it."

She lifts her other hand to cup his cheek. It's not fair to him, touching him, brushing her thumb over the stubble he should have shaved this morning, when she forfeited that right. It isn't fair at all, but she needs him and she wants him to need her, and the only way she ever knew how to express that to him was by touching him.

"Jon, I don't have any real ones left."

Maybe he needs her too, despite everything she's done. Why else would he step forward, palm the back of her head, and kiss her like nothing has changed between them? Why else would he push his hips into the cradle of hers? And draw her arm around him until there's no space between them, no space except the empty place inside of her, where she wants him most.

When he presses his lips to hers and opens them with the brush of his tongue and the scrape of his teeth, he makes a sound in the back of his throat, one she forgot how much she loves hearing, a low, desperate sound that reminds her of all the other noises he makes when he's inside of her. Whispers that manage to be both sweet and dirty against her ear, when his long fingers dip inside of her, a low, contended hum, when he laps at her clit, and his chest rattling groans, when he's buried inside of her. Just thinking about all the ways she wants him, all the way she needs him, makes her wet.

She can't articulate her need for him with anything but with her lips and her teeth and her hands. So she nips and tugs and scrambles to pull his shirt free from his pants and slip her hand underneath until she can feel his skin hot against hers for the first time in months. It's more obvious with Jon. All he has to do is grab her ass and rock into her for her feel him hard against her belly. They still have this. She wrecked everything, but he still wants some part of her.

His pelvis rubs against hers in a steady rhythm, hitting almost where she needs him, his hand squeezes her ass, and her breasts compress against the hard planes of his chest, but it's not close enough. Already his touch, his kisses dull the pain that has consumed her until it's pushed somewhere to the back of her mind, a niggling distraction to the pleasure that the taste, the sound, and the feel of him elicits. She wants to silence that pain entirely. She wants to be free of this dress, she wants to strip him of his shirt and pants, and she wants to feel his muscles flex under her fingers, as he hits that delicious spot inside of her. She wants to let him consume her and forget everything else if only for the next few minutes.

Her hands are already working at his belt to get closer to her goal, when he freezes, and shifts enough to rest his forehead against hers.

But they can't stop. It's unthinkable that they stop. Not now.


She would have never begged him before. Not for anything.

"Sweetheart, I don't exactly have a condom on me."

Sweetheart. She almost sobs; the endearment sounds so lovely coming from his full, kiss swollen lips.

"It's okay. We don't need one."


It's a warning, one she should heed, but she's past that point.

Swallowing, she pets at his side, where she's pulled away his shirt to caress that impossibly soft stretch of skin she's marked with her nails more than once. "It's okay. There's been no one else and you know I'm on the pill."


But what about all her objections? The objections she never had to voice, since Jon always was prepared like a good Boy Scout. "Even if you had one, I wouldn't want it. I just want you."

His eyes scrunch closed, as his chest inflates on a sharp inhale. "We've never…"

No, they've never gone without. She's never had sex with any guy without a condom. Not once. She's always been the picture of caution when it comes to her body. He's cautious about these things too probably because of the way he grew up or because he is just that kind of responsible guy, which is why she says it again with a tug on his hips to underscore her urgency.

"It's okay. I'm on the pill."

Necessity prompts her decision, but now that the thought of having him inside of her without anything between them has taken root, it doesn't stir the kind of anxiety it would have in the past, regardless of having been on the pill for years. There's a bubbling anticipation she's never quite felt before. Suddenly it's not only their clothes holding them back from what she wants. This giddy, clawing need even has her skin feeling too tight.

"I'll pull out," he promises, as he lifts her up by the ass onto the counter and bunches her skirt up over her thighs to expose the white cotton of her panties.

She owns prettier panties, ones he's pulled off with the crook of his fingers and the bite of his teeth, but this pair is on the tiled floor fast enough that it hardly matters that they bear no flirty lace or ribbons or slippery fabric. She's no slower about freeing him from his pants and his boxers, pushing them far enough down his thighs that they fall onto the floor in a puddle around his feet, as she wraps one hand around the length of him, stroking him just the way she knows he likes. They're on the precipice of mind numbing relief, but with her heart pounding at the warm latch of his mouth to her neck and the brush of him against her center, the last shred of her sanity shakes free a bit of prudence.

"Lock the door."

He doesn't leave her embrace. He stretches his arm out to turn the lock, and then both hands are back on her, gripping her bare hips and pulling her right to the edge of the counter, so close that she would tumble off if it wasn't for his body holding her back.

Taking himself in hand, he touches his head to her and this time she's as fixated on watching him slide through her parted folds as he usually is. She's not even aware that she's saying his name over and over like a litany learned at her first communion until he tips her head back, his hand spanning her jaw, thumb pressing beneath her chin, to make her meet his eye. His are fat and shiny, his pupils nearly overwhelming his grey irises.

"You've got to be quiet."

She nods her response a little too eagerly, when he's the one that could stand to be reminded to keep quiet when they fuck, but then he's pushing into her, and maybe she needs the reminder as much as he ever has. Jon is leg quivering, back archingly good at foreplay. They've spent many an hour with him employing lips and hands to explore her body and bring her to one peak after another. They don't have hours now, not when anyone could come upstairs to use this bathroom, but the thick feel of him pushing slowly into her, deeper with every thrust is enough to make her dig her nails into his flesh. It's enough to make her head fall onto his shoulder too. Anything to ground her, so she doesn't let free the high, needy sound that wants to tear from her throat.

Because it's that good, as good as she remembers. Better. The feeling of being more than her sad, sorry self, of being invaded and filled and needed, as he sets up a steady, certain rhythm, feels so very familiar and right, when she thought she'd lost that feeling with him forever. When he rocks her on the edge of the counter into the flat expanse above his dick, it's satisfying in a way nothing else is. But it doesn't drown out the sadness the way she hoped it would. It does the opposite, cracking her open, and tears dampen his shirt, as she scrabbles to hold tighter to him and meet each thrust.

"Want me I stop?" he asks, his movements faltering, because of course he knows the shift in her, when there's nothing she can do to conceal her crying.

It's hard to believe she ever will be anything but broken and frightened and sad again, but this is the only thing that is right. It's the only thing that's made her feel not so alone in her grief. So she angles her head to bite at his earlobe, one hand moving to his hip to keep him from sliding free of her.

"No, don't. Please."

And he doesn't.

He says all the things she loves to hear. He tells her she's beautiful. She feels perfect and wet and so goddamn good. He could fuck her forever. But while Jon is capable of pulling an orgasm from her given enough time with nothing but his dick inside of her, they can't be gone from the reception for much longer without someone noticing that they've both disappeared. That approach might allow his hands to keep busy elsewhere, but it also takes too long. He must be aware of that, because he works a hand between them, presses it against her middle, and his thumb dips to where they meet, dragging her arousal upwards to draw tight, firm circles against her clit.

It doesn't take long for her belly to tense and coil under his touch and her toes to tingle. Sansa always comes first. He's a gentleman like that. Not quite the kind of gentlemanly behavior she imagined as a little girl, but she's warmed to the gentleness of that kind of intimate consideration, putting her pleasure ahead of his, even taking more pleasure perhaps in hers than his own.

For once, as she feels the room narrowing in on itself, everything centered on the way her body grips him, she thinks as much of him as she does herself. She wants him to feel just as good. She wants it for the both of them. Digging her heels into his ass with one black heel still on and one having fallen away, she ushers one last command before she loses the power to say anything but a mindless prayer to God.

"Don't you pull out."

It takes him maybe half a dozen quick thrusts to catch up to her, as she seizes around him, her mouth hanging open in a silent scream, but then he's coming too with a stuttering curse. She can feel him come, the hot pulse of him, and she wants to cry again. From relief. From regret for things past. From thankfulness. From the closeness of it all.

He leans into her, as the tension seeps from his body. At first neither of them move, only his breathing stirring the hairs at her neck, and then his hands lazily gather up without any real purpose a thick rope of her hair that hangs down her back. She can almost hear him thinking, as they hunch over each other in shared silence, and while her body is blessedly relaxed, her mind begins to churn. She doesn't want to let go of this feeling and go back to what they were thirty minutes ago: two awkward people pretending to be polite strangers.

"Just wait. Don't move for a minute," she says, when he begins to shift back from her.

"We have to go back downstairs."

Back to the crowd of mourners, both phony and real. And just like that she is hit by it again all at once. The pain is still there, lodged in her chest like something she swallowed wrong, something that might choke her in the end.

"I know." She turns her face into his chest and laces her hands behind his back, holding him to her, still deep inside of her. "Just a little longer."

When he finally pushes away with a kiss to her brow, she can't quite look at him. Not when the first thing he does is grab a handful of Kleenex to give to her. Not for her tears this time. Those have mostly dried on her cheeks in a new mess for her to clean up. This time she needs tissues for the evidence of the line they just stepped over. There's nothing wrong with the gesture. If anything it is thoughtful. But it feels final. Sex, even the really intimate kind, can't make up for what she's done and how far they've slipped apart.

When she hops down off the counter, she turns to the side, so he won't be able to see her clean herself up. She can still hear him though. The rustle of his pants, as he pulls them back up, the clink of his belt, and the scuff of his shoes against the tile. Here but almost gone.

"Are you all right?"

His abrupt question jangles her nerves, cutting through what feels like an interminable stretch of silence, which might be why she's too quick to say she's fine. Certainly too quick for anyone to believe her.

"You're really quiet, and I think I got carried away. You felt so…" He pauses, and then his hands are on her bare shoulders, warm and solid, drawing slowly down her arms to pull her back into his chest. "I should have pulled out."

That he still wants to touch her, to comfort her, calms her enough to sound less harried. "I told you not to. It's what I wanted."

"Are you sure? Because I would hate myself."

It isn't delayed anxiety over their lack of protection that's made her go quiet. It's the thought that they'll never do that again which has her stomach twisted in knots. "Don't. It was…It was really good, don't you think?"

He brushes her hair aside and presses a kiss to her neck, where she can feel a fine sheen of sweat beginning to dry under the soft blow of the air conditioning coming through the vent above.

"I don't have words for it."

That almost pulls a smile from her. Jon's not one for words at the best of times, but he rarely needs them when they're alone.

"Don't feel bad then."

"Only if you let me tell your family about us."

She's let her eyes drift shut under his slow ministrations, but they pop open at that.

"Not today, I know, but we've got to tell them."

Sansa turns in his arms, because she needs to look at him to believe what it is he's saying. Jon's a terrible liar. His inexpert lies always show on his face, but he stares down at her, looking serious and tired and a little flushed, but otherwise like himself.

"I can't go through it again, sneaking around and lying, when I feel the way I do about you."

She reaches up and presses two fingers to his lower lip, lightly tracing it. He rarely needs words, but she thinks she'd like to hear more from him and she'd like to try harder as well. Try relying a bit less on sex to show him how she feels if he'll allow it after everything.

"You tell me tonight exactly how you feel about me, Jon, and we'll tell anyone you want."

"Tonight?" he asks, his head dipping down to brush his lips against hers.

"I'll leave my door unlocked."