Word Count: 5,407
Rating & Warnings: M for explicit sexual content
Summary: Jon wants his wife to be herself, but who is she really?
Author's Note: Can be read as a sequel to Fractured. Written for gameofships Stark Naked Contest. Prompt was 'pretty little lies'. Winner of Best Fic.
An Unmasked Bride and Bridegroom
It has been an uneasy dance. One moment Jon seems like he is doing his best to draw her out and the next he is withdrawn, hovering in the background, but always silently watching her. He doesn't seem to understand that she can't really be herself with him, when she's lost sight of who she was meant to be or who she has legitimately become. It's all a muddle, and playing a game would be much easier if he'd only allow it.
Jon Snow is a dreamer. She would have never guessed it, but he longs for something, yearns for it, and he has cast her in his mummer's show. She almost feels sorry for him that he's so terribly misguided. Little Sansa Stark would have never looked twice at a bastard like Jon, would have never dreamt of playing lady wife to his lord. If her lord father had engaged her to someone like Jon, she would have pouted and begged that it be otherwise. She can see his worth now, how kind and good Jon is. It isn't an act: his gentle words are not a manipulation, but the creature she's become is no more suited to give him what he wants than the Sansa Stark of summer was. She's just a different kind of wrong.
Knowing how wrong she is, she is only slightly less uneasy on their wedding day than she was the day he went down on one knee and asked her to be his wife. It does not help that Daenerys stands behind them, watching them exchange vows in the Godswood. This place doesn't belong to Targaryens, and it feels a mockery to have her violet eyes on them.
Sansa's eyes dart to Jon's. Stark eyes. Grey like flint. Somehow they only make the weight of his Targaryen cloak feel heavier. Although, it's not as heavy as the Lannister red they once draped over her narrow shoulders, for she has had some choice in this. Some.
He looks sad, staring back at her, and instead of nursing defiance, while she wears a smile of vacant beauty, she feels her chest flood with the need to pet his cheeks, to see if she can tease a smile from his full lips. It is her greatest weakness, the desire to care for people. Petyr always said it would be the death of her. Cersei said much the same. But they're both dead now and she is alive.
Maybe she shouldn't take lessons from ghosts.
Mother loved father and she was strong.
Then again, they're dead too.
The wedding feast is no better with Jon putting his hand over his cup every time someone attempts to refill it. Drink, she wants to shout at him. It will be easier if he is drunk. Easier for the both of them once they are alone together and the night has closed in around them. She can pretend and he can slip inside the pretty little lies she spins of silk and kisses for him.
Sansa is not the only one worried by Jon's behavior. She thinks Queen Daenerys seems almost sorry for having suggested the match, when she comes over to kiss Sansa's cheeks and wish her well. But then, it would be hard not to miss Jon's sullen looks.
"You are a beautiful bride, Lady Sansa."
"Thank you, Your Grace."
Jon glares into his plate, and Sansa wonders whether the title is what has caused his mood to visibly sour further—something she thought impossible until deep furrows appeared in his brow. She suspects there was some disagreement between those involved as to what her title should be once she and Jon were united. She is his queen consort, but not equal to the Queen. It could cause some confusion, calling them both 'queen,' for Daenerys is no consort.
Sansa slips her hand under the table, resting it on Jon's thigh and rubbing her thumb slowing over the rough fabric, feeling the hard muscle underneath. It's all right, she wills him to understand. The title means nothing, for they will have all the power once Sansa produces an heir.
Only, Jon doesn't seem to care much about power. An odd thing for a king and conqueror.
Daenerys places a delicate hand to Sansa's cheek, turning her head until she is nearly nose to nose with the Queen. Her violet eyes are huge this close up. The Dragon Queen pats her cheek, and Sansa regains her personal space as the Queen leans into Jon's shoulder. It might appear flirtatious, the way she drapes herself over Jon, but Sansa recognizes this form of female power; she has practiced it herself, and it doesn't indicate real attraction.
"Isn't your bride lovely, Jon?" the Queen asks, though her tone verges on demanding, an effect that is enhanced by the delicate arch of her brows and the set of her bowed mouth.
He covers Sansa's still moving hand with his own, pressing hard so that her movements are stopped and her hand is trapped.
Trapped. Just like a bird in a cage. Her heart flutters, and it takes all her composure not to pull hard until she is free.
"The loveliest," he says low enough that surely no one but them three can hear, which is well enough.
Daenerys is the great beauty at court, in Westeros, in the world, not Jon's new bride. Sansa thinks it best that she encourages that opinion in those around her, that she defer to Daenerys in this way, since she intends on not deferring to her in others. The Queen will not, for example, have a say in the manner in which Sansa intends on raising her children. Her and Jon's children. They will be Starks. They will be given Stark names, taught to be brave like her brothers, fearless, and honorable. Sansa means to see to that. That will be her crowning glory.
It isn't quite what Petyr had in mind for her, but what he had in mind is why he had to fly.
Daenerys nudges Jon with her bare shoulder—always bare, as if she burns from the inside no matter the bite of wind and snow. "Dance with her."
It's at this insistence that Jon gazes at Sansa with that searching look she's come to know so well. It's like he is on a razor's edge between hope and despair, and he'll be sent tumbling over one way or the other by her response. He's seeking something, some indication that she shares whatever dream it is he has crafted in his mind.
I can't afford to dream.
"The whole court is waiting for you to dance," the Queen presses, this time showing a flash of white teeth as she smiles down encouragingly at Jon.
"Please dance with me," Sansa requests, careful to tilt her head just so.
Vulnerable. She wants to achieve the appearance of vulnerability.
He can't continue to act this way with everyone watching. It is important that they appear happy. He must agree to at least one dance.
Whatever effect Daenerys' command or Sansa's softer request has had on him, it's enough, and she finds herself dancing with him. He's not clumsy exactly, but he is no great dancer either. She hadn't thought he would be. But his hands are warm and his arms are solid.
"Is this all right?" he asks, looking over her shoulder at some fixed point in the distance.
"Is what all right?"
He could mean any number of things, and perhaps he only means to get her to expose something of herself by asking such an open question, but she finds herself wanting to answer him.
"I'd have liked it better if it was just us."
His eyes find hers and his grip on her tightens almost imperceptibly. She can see by the tension in his jaw that he doesn't understand her meaning, but is desperate to latch onto what she's said as proof of the thing he seeks in her. He's desperate, and she feels that tug on her heart again, the thing that makes her want to reach out to him.
"Us two alone in the Godswood," she explains. "And do away with all this nonsense too."
"I thought…this is the sort of thing you would have liked once. Isn't it?"
"Yes, once, but now I hate everyone but you."
That, for better or worse, is most probably the truth, and she doesn't know why she's confessed it to him. She's tried to kindle dislike for Jon Snow, turned Targaryen, turned conqueror, turned unwanted suitor, but she can't. Her inability to do so threatens her grasp on the situation.
"If you'd only told me," he begins, but she softly interrupts.
"It couldn't have been any different even if I'd begged it of you. We both know as king you belong to everyone. A quiet ceremony wasn't ever in the cards."
She thinks this little speech is why he announces to Lord Commander Jorah Mormont, who stands guard behind the Queen's empty seat, before the next course is set before them that there will be no bedding. Sansa still stands at his side, having just finished their dance, her arm linked through his, and she gently tugs.
"It's all right, Your Grace. I don't mind."
"No. There will be no bedding. Do you understand?" Jon asks, directing himself to Ser Jorah once more.
The Lord Commander looks amused at Jon's vehemence, a smile threatening to upset his blank expression, but he nods.
"Best take your lady wife to bed early then, Your Grace." Ser Jorah scans the crowd, as if looking for someone. Sansa thinks she knows for whom it is he hunts. She is dancing with the Hand. "I can protect you from an assassin's blade, but this lot of drunken fools is like to riot if at the end of the night they're denied their share of the fun." The man with the branded face gives up his search and turns to rake his gaze over Sansa, while finally giving in to a grin. "I can only do so much."
Jon must have taken Ser Jorah's advice to heart—though he appeared piqued by it at the time—for he indeed takes her to bed early. The whoops and hollers that erupt as he scoops Sansa up without warning and carries her from the hall seem to indicate that at least the court believes it is eagerness that makes him spirit her away. They can forgive eagerness. They must appreciate a hint of youthful enthusiasm in their usually somber king.
It is easy enough to be swept away in the moment with her hands locked behind his neck and her face tucked into his chest. He's strong. His steps don't falter even as the distance between the hall and his chambers seems to grow longer with every stride, and yet, he would never think to use his strength against her. It might be foolish to trust him, but she does. He will never raise a hand to her, nor will he ever be purposefully unkind. She doesn't need to worry about his being unfaithful, of little bastard children threatening her peace of mind or their future son's throne.
It could be much worse. Sansa knows. She has lived through much worse.
But when he sets her down and her slippers silently meet the stone floor of his bedchamber, he pulls away, moving to the far corner of the room. With his back turned to her, he begins to remove layers of his wedding clothes, which are more elaborate than anything she has seen him wear since the day of the coronation.
She watches, transfixed, as he is bared to the waist. She can see the tension coiled in the muscles of his back. This deliberate attempt to ignore her seems driven by something more than shyness, something that has him strung as tightly as a bow. This is not the connubial atmosphere she hoped to inspire.
It had been her intention to wait for him in the bed linens, clutching them to her bosom in a false show of maidenly reserve. He knows she is not a maid, but appearances can be pleasantly deceiving. Men are visual creatures, as Petyr so aptly taught her, and if she appeared the part, he might believe it spite of himself. Surely someone as good as Jon wants a pure and unbesmirched lady to warm his bed, and she is skilled enough in deception to provide him with that fantasy.
Part of that plan, however, now must be set aside, for without a crowd of bawdy men to undress her or a servant at hand, she is confined to this heavy gown.
He turns, and Sansa presses her lips together. Jon is well formed. Her husband is well formed. He has the body of a knight, just as she dreamed of as a girl, only not hairless and smooth. He is a man, which she finds she might prefer.
"I need help," she says, turning and looking over her shoulder at him. "With the laces."
There's a moment's pause, but then he comes to her and his hands are at her back. She smiles over her shoulder, just a small lift of her lips, but the effort is wasted on him, as he keeps his eyes trained on his task. He's gentle, but he's also much too efficient. His hands do not linger on her, and she soon finds herself holding her gown to herself, so it does not crumple to the ground.
His refusal to look at her makes the shyness that she had intended on faking actually steel over her. She can hear his boots hit the floor and imagines his breeches joining the pile. Perhaps his smallclothes as well. But still she stands, her back to the bed with her gown held up to her bosom. The room goes dark, and she realizes that she has stood immobile long enough that he has blown out the candles by the bed.
His voice cuts through the darkness. "Are you tired?"
She panics for a moment, her mind overwhelmed with possible responses to this deceptively simple question. Should she say yes? Or is it better to say no and indicate through tone that she can't possibly think of sleep with him so close? Is that much too forward? Should she play upon this actual feeling of shyness and use it to her advantage?
"I won't touch you, Sansa. Come to bed."
Oh. That is why he has been so distant, so purposefully sober and controlled. Jon is practicing self restraint. He wants her. She is sure of it, and yet he has no plans to bed her. She has become expert at foretelling a person's next move before they have even thought to make it, but she never expected this.
She considers reminding him that the purpose of this union is to bear fruit, so he best touch her, but perhaps Jon does not see it that way at all and her reminder would only serve to make him withdraw from her further.
Letting the gown slip off her shoulders, Sansa works with nimble fingers to free herself of her underpinnings until she is left standing in the dark in nothing but her smallclothes and stockings. She can make out the bed in the soft glow of the crescent moon coming through the high windows, and she steps over her discarded silks to make her way over to Jon. He lies on the side closest to her, but instead of making room for her by sliding over in the linens, he grabs her about the waist and lifts her up and over his lap. When her bottom meets the bed, his calloused hands linger, holding her fast for long enough that her heart begins to pound, but the kiss he presses to her brow is brotherly. And then he is gone, pulled back from her and back into himself.
Sansa draws her stockinged legs up to her chest, feeling exposed in a way drunken aggression on his part could have never made her feel. Then she might have disappeared into her head, but this is real and messy and it makes her skin crawl with uncertainty.
He looks at her, his eyes refusing to dip lower than eyelevel, though more of her is exposed than he has ever seen. At least since they were children. When they were very little, before Arya was born, but after the first winter of her life had ended, they used to all dash around half naked after their baths, Old Nan clucking after them. Sansa blushes at the thought.
"Why won't I touch you?"
His voice is low and the rasp of it sparks a jolt of arousal between her legs. Sansa wets her lips, pulling her arms tightly about her legs. Prepared as always to pretend at arousal, this tantalizing flash of the real things seems a frightening liability.
"I'm not a maid," she offers, when he merely sits there in stony silence, forcing her to speak.
Maybe Jon isn't enticed by virginal fantasies, but it isn't like her first marriage, where not touching her was the kindest thing that could have been done. This is different. Time and experience have made her different.
"I know that."
She rests her chin on her knees. She can almost see herself reflected in his eyes—all stockings and unbound red hair, spilling over her shoulders. Other men would melt. Even careful, calculating Petyr died for her beauty eventually.
"Don't you want me?"
A rather contrary question, given the guarded pose she's adopted, but she's terribly curious as to why Jon would deny himself what is his to take. That sort of practice isn't what she associates with men.
Her eyes have adjusted enough to the dim light that she can see the roll of his throat as he swallows.
"Not like this—as an obligation. I don't want it to be that way between us. Ever." His eyes flash in the dark, and this time he does look. He takes in the delicate embroidery she artfully worked on her stockings, his eyes following the curve of her calves up to her knees, where blue ribbons hold the stockings in place. Tully Blue just like her eyes. "Yes, of course I want you. But I'll wait."
Sansa reaches out. He watches her as her hand comes to caress his cheek, as she thought to do before the heart tree. His eyes close, when she draws her hand over a silvery scar on his temple, and she can see him tense as her hand traces down along his jaw until she reaches his lips. He's as still as one of the statues to the gods.
He means it, she thinks. He wants her, but not at any cost. He would let her choose even now, even when they are bound as husband and wife. He really means to leave her be, because what Jon wants is something true and real.
Knowing that she has a choice, she can finally acknowledge that a piece of her wants the same thing. She believed in it once—loving, honorable, handsome lord husbands with lady wives they worshiped. The world snuffed out her dreams, and yet, here sits a man she might call a hero.
Sansa is seized by the rush of desire to try something, to see if there is anything of the eager girl left in her. She unwinds her legs, kneels in the linens, and presses shaking hands to his face. If he opened his eyes now, he would see her bared before him, but his eyes are closed as she brings her lips to his.
They have kissed before. Always just a brief brush of his lips against hers, over so quickly that she barely had time to consider how enthusiastic her response ought to be. She is just as cautious and measured, when she first closes her lips around his lower lip. He shifts forward just enough to rest his forehead against hers, and they stay there, sharing the air between them. She wants more; she has a budding suspicion that Jon might be very good at this if he would only give in.
Another brush of her lips against his, and she twines her fingers in his dark curls. This time she doesn't withdraw. She is more insistent. With twisted fingers and the nip of her teeth on the fullness of his lip she draws a moan from him and smile from herself.
Her name on his lips is meant as a warning, but she likes the sound of the syllables slipping over his tongue. It urges her on, imaging how he might say it when he is inside of her. Jon will not shout another lady's name. It will always be hers.
"Kiss me, Jon."
He might like his name in her mouth just as much, for he suddenly seems happy enough to kiss her back. A warm hand finds its way into the small of her back, pulling her to him as he kisses her once, twice, three times, each kiss deeper, his tongue moving against hers with assurance. His hand too, moves slowly, purposefully, dipping down below the swell of her waist, his fingers digging into the soft flesh, making another wave of pleasure roll over her.
He is undoing her with just a kiss, she thinks, as she drags her nails over his scalp. Every groan, every involuntary thrust of his hips, every hint that Petyr was losing control made Sansa feel victorious, but when Jon's grip on her increases in intensity and he growls into her mouth, it makes the coil in her belly tighten. It is as if they are in concert together, not warring or fighting to unseat the other, as his hands come up to skim her shoulders and back down her sides and his teeth and tongue move without awkwardness or hesitation. Every one of his movements and demanding sounds causing a similar, magnified reaction in her. They mirror each other in movement, in need.
By the time he pushes her backwards, until her head rests close to the foot of the bed and he lays atop her, trailing fiery kisses along her neck, sternum, and between her breasts, she feels like she is a bell that he has struck. Every inch of her body is ringing. Jon knows what he is about. Someone or several someones have taught Jon a great deal about women, and yet, he touches with reverence like one who loves women, as opposed to one who is carefully schooled in them.
It would be so easy to believe that this intensity came from loving her. But who is she really?
She feels tears prick the corners of her eyes, and she has no wish to give in to such weakness. Tears should be weapons.
To drive away the fluttering in her heart she focuses on the feel of him against her. He is as naked as his name day, and he is hard against her belly, but when she snakes a hand down to palm him, he catches her wrist and pulls her arm up above her head, pining her to the linens. She's not truly captive—her other hand lies curled between her breasts, her fingers clenched from the pleasure he was eliciting with every pull of his teeth over her earlobe—and she wonders whether Jon does this knowingly. Whether he holds her fast while letting her have her freedom, because he knows she has beat her wings against the bars of her gilded cage for far too long.
"Why," he pants. "Why do you want this?"
She blinks, looking up into his grey eyes, which are laden with expectation. He wants something from her. She doesn't know whether she has it in her to truly give it, but she can at least give him a piece, carve out a part of her heart, which she has kept locked away, incased in porcelain, ivory, and steel. A present made upon their wedding day.
"I used to think of you, imagine you at the Wall, and how sweet it would be to see you again." She pulls her lower lip through her teeth. "And it is. Sweet. There's something…" she almost says painfully, but thinks better of it. "There's something so very sweet about it being you, because I thought I was alone." And now, she needn't be, not with a husband whose eyes shine like that when they look down upon her. No, she would have never dreamt of a bastard like Jon Snow, but this is the sort of man she should have dreamt of, when her mind was full of songs.
She prays to their gods, her and Jon's—to her lord father's gods—that she isn't so broken that she can't give Jon more than an heir. He deserves more.
When he releases her wrist, she thinks for a moment that she hasn't said enough, that he needs more from her, but then his lips are on her belly, on her thighs, and he's rolling her stockings down and slipping her smallclothes down over her knees until she's as bare as he is. He's hard and ready for her, so when he slips her leg over his shoulder, she thinks she knows where this is going, until he licks into her. She jerks at the sensation, gasps his name in shock, and would be accidently free of him except that his hand splays over her hip, holding her in place.
She is no maid, but this is new. Deliciously new. It takes no time at all to come to the conclusion that she likes this very much, but it's also so terribly intimate that she can't quite bear to look at him, as his tongue moves over her. Her back arching, she tilts her head back, letting her eyes fall shut, for she knows that if she saw his dark curls between her legs, if she met his eyes, she would break apart. Her mask would crack and leave her entirely exposed.
Her hand though, her hand finds its way into those curls, carding through them with affection that does not feel affected, twisting them with mounting desperation that she finds herself not needing to fake. It has never taken so short a time for her to reach this point, but her toes are curling against his back, her heel rubbing over the muscles underneath his skin, and it should be humiliating how she angles herself against his mouth and pulls him closer with her fisted hand, but she can only think of his mouth. His mouth. His lips. His tongue.
Her vision is a field of stars and she shouts loud enough for any wedding revelers to believe in the eager enthusiasm that made Jon carry her from the hall.
Her world is still shattered, her body still vibrating, when he slides up her, the crook of her knee now held in his warm hand, as she feels him brush her slickness. For a moment he is still against her, as if looking for some encouragement or permission, so she rocks against him. He slips in without any real effort, and Sansa hears Jon mutter a curse for the first time in their long history. As he pushes himself in the rest of the way, she can feel the last ripples of her pleasure grip him; he must feel it too.
Perhaps it is because of what he has just done to her, what she's just experienced with him, but he feels… This feels…
Sansa's heart skips against her ribs, as she realizes that Jon is truly inside of her. She planned for this, plotted her every movement, every coy smile and false sigh, but this isn't what she planned at all. This is real. This is her and Jon and not characters in a tragic comedy that lacks an audience.
She finds herself unable to look away now, unable to stop herself from cupping his cheek. His face is a mix of concentration and pleasure that could be confused with pain, as he moves achingly slowly. Her body moves in concert, as if they have always done this, as if she was made to be his, and when his eyes meet hers, she feels the thing she feared. Feared and wanted in equal measure, she must admit, as he bends down to kiss her.
The kiss disrupts the steady rhythm of his hips, the luxurious push and pull of their bodies moving together. The kiss seems to wind him tighter and bring him to the point of breaking, and he murmurs against her lips—her name, endearments too sweet and new not to make her flush, and prayers to the gods—as his hips begin to thrust quickly, unevenly.
She can understand why, since every touch of his lips to hers is like a promise. She's never been kissed like this. Never been fucked like this.
This isn't fucking. The realization comes to her as he buries his head against her shoulder, pressing sloppy open mouth kisses against her skin, his teeth scraping not quite hard enough to mark her.
Her hands slip down to the small of his back, where he is narrowest, and press, holding him against her just as he nearly stops moving altogether.
"That's it," she whispers against his temple, damp with sweat.
The muscles in his stomach, in his back, spasm, constrict against her belly and under her hand, as his hips snap several times in quick succession and he groans his release against her wet skin. She can feel it elsewhere too, and though she is completely sated from his earlier attentions, her heart quickens for a moment at the thought of him experiencing some of the same pleasure he gave her, at the thought of his seed inside of her.
She peppers his temple, his cheek, the edge of his jaw with soothing kisses, as his weight becomes heavy upon her. It makes her lips taste of salt. She finds herself cataloging all the ways in which she is so lucky in spite of everything. It's a longer list than she would have imagined being able to conjure up even this morning.
When he rolls off of her, he drags her with him, pulling until she is pillowed halfway on top of him, one leg thrown over his hip and her head resting atop his chest, as his breathing slows. They're a mess, a mess that is slowly drying in the cool air of the bed chamber, but Sansa doesn't want to move and Jon shows no inclination to do so either.
It almost seems as if he is drifting off to sleep and she feels drowsy herself, when he speaks. "I wasn't planning on that."
She smiles to herself for having thought much the same thing some minutes earlier, when he moved inside of her.
"I very purposefully didn't touch any of the Arbor gold tonight."
"I noticed," she says, as she draws patterns in the sparse hair on his chest with her index finger.
"I didn't want to forget myself with you." He shifts, raising a hand to lift her chin, so that she gazes up at him. He looks so like a Stark. "It would be easy. You're beautiful."
"Did you? Forget?"
It didn't feel like forgetting. It felt like a reminder of something long since passed, a dying ember of a memory brought back to glow under his touch.
She scratches at him lightly, her lips curving. "On what, Jon?"
"On whether you were pretending."
Suddenly he looks sad again, sad and sullen and worried with a line forming between his brows. She reaches up, smoothing it away with her fingertips.
She can't quite say the words—I love you. It wouldn't exactly be true, not yet, but she thinks what she feels for him, what he makes her feel, might be more important.
"I forgot to pretend."
And ended up remembering herself: Sansa Stark with the hopes and dreams of love and goodness and heroes. It's a memory she thinks she could live in. With Jon.