A/N: I do not own any material from the Song of Ice and Fire series. Any questions or comments, feel free to go for it.

The first time he kisses her, it's kind of stupid really. Him and her and Hot Pie have been walking for what feels like a hundred years in the burning bloody sun, when suddenly Hot Pie decides he needs to take a piss and rushes off to leave him alone with her back up on the roadway.

Years down the line, he'll say he kissed her to get her to shut up. She was babbling about one stupid thing or another– my feet hurt, your ears are too big, I miss Nymeria– who's Nymeria?– I hate pebbles– and all he can think to do is press his lips to hers.

It's a chaste sort of kissed, chapped lips and uncertain spit and her little grunt of surprise against his mouth. She shoves him then, hard. "What'd ya do that for, idiot?" she asks, wiping her sleeve over her mouth.

"Don't know," he says, being honest. "You just wouldn't shut your trap."

She looks like she's about to take out Needle and stab him then, but Hot Pie comes tumbling from the bushes in excuse and they're off. More walking, more sun, more heat. More not knowing where they're going just knowing that they can't go back. There's nothing there for them anymore. There is just the road and their feet carrying them endlessly, burn on their skin and blisters on their toes and little words that could be their last, if they aren't careful.

Neither she nor he talks about the kiss again.

The next time they kiss it's at that damned Inn, the Brotherhood down in the dining hall getting drunk on wine and whores. He's one of them there for a moment– a pretty blonde thing with a nice round bosom in his lap, goblet in the hand not grabbing at her arse.

But then he sees her little frame slink off to the rooms upstairs, looking cranky and sore like a pouting pup. He shakes the whore off his knees, make a false promise to be right back and follows after his little wolf even though he tells himself he really doesn't want to.

She's in the room they were thrown into when they first got here– one bed for all the captives. He'd told Hot Pie that they'd have to sleep on the floor and give her the bed. When Hot Pie'd asked why he'd said 'just cause' because even though she won't admit she's a lady, she is. And ladies always get the bed while tired old bastards like him get the floor. That's just the way these things work.

"Oui, what are you all up in sorts about now?" he asks her where she sits in the middle of the feather mattress with her back to him. "Oui," he says again, shuts the door and goes to shake her shoulder. She throws him off and it's then he notices that she's crying. And Gods fucking help him, because he doesn't know what to do with a little girl when they cry. "What's wrong with you?" he asks dumbly, brows pulling together. "You're not hurt, are ya?"

"No," she says. "You wouldn't understand in the first place, stupid."

They're both silent for a while after that, and before he knows what he's doing, he's got himself curled around her. She's such a tiny thing, for two and ten. He knows he's tall for his age, strong from years of pounding metal, and her frame in his hands is as fragile as the sea glass he's held all of twice from the shores of King's Landing. She's just a girl, he thinks then, because for all her fire and strife and perseverance she really is just a child.

"Do that thing again?" she finally mumbles into the hollow of his tunic when her tears subside, the damp fabric reverberating under the loll of her tone.

"What thing?" he asks.

"With your mouth," she whispers, looking up at him.

And though the others called her lumpy head and horse face and everything cruel that boys call the one that doesn't fit, he can see it here in the dim candlelight of this stupid bloody inn that she's pretty; that one day she's going to be wild and beautiful.

He knows exactly what she's asking him to do, too. And he knows it's a path they likely shouldn't follow if they had any common sense about them, but at that moment he's too tired and probably a bit too drunk to care. So he leans down and presses his mouth to hers, delights in the little squeak she makes when he shoves his tongue past her lips to taste her– sweet like figs and little sips of spirits. And also something stronger, more primal like the blood of wolves.

Her fingers grasp at his jerkin, breath in a rush because she doesn't know how to do this and is suffocating herself trying to get closer to him. He laughs, settles her with hands on her shoulders and a couple of more sweet kisses, before eventually she's lazy with sleep and he lets her drift off curled against his chest, snores of a wolf-pup too far from home.

Neither he nor she talks about the kisses in the morning.

He thinks his final kiss with her will be when they part for separate lives– he with the Brotherhood and her, he later learns, with the man they call the Hound.

It makes sense she would choose a hound over a bull; closer to her kin, her kind. He is but a useless bastard after all, and she is a lady. She has something to go back to, somewhere. Where him, he has nothing. A knighthood and a chance to work in a forge with no disturbance is the best chance he's got, and so he has to take it. He has to.

He won't forget how she tastes of sadness and betrayal.

Neither he nor she talks about the kiss to anyone.

Their fourth kiss is nearly six years later.

When he sees her riding into the square atop a giant dire wolf, her hair wild and free like the scarce clothing on her frame as lithe as death, he cannot believe it.

Her siblings greet her with honor– Bran and Rikon warm with smiles, Jon with the suffocating hug of a bear, Sansa round in belly with a tear-streaked face, so happy to see her sister again.

He doesn't even think; just disbands his bloody hammer and work and runs to her. His arms are around her middle before he even knows it, his mouth crashing to hers. And she tastes sweet and kind and familiar, but feral too. Blood of wolves and violence and lies and hunt. He kisses her harder, as if to find the new cracks that have been filled in while she was gone.

It's when he pulls away that she slaps him, so hard that he spits blood on the ground. "You left me!" she accuses, and it's the end of their reunion for now, Bran giving him a sympathetic and yet knowing look as the Stark siblings usher their long lost sister into the halls of Winterfell, their reclaimed home.

Bran always was the damned wisest, after all.

"You were dead," he tells her three days later, when she finally comes to rest against the open doors of the forge. It's much colder here up north, but the fire of a forger is a heated thing, and he likes the fresh air almost more that the smell of burning metal. He adds in, "Milady," just to aggravate her.

"I was in Braavos," she glares, arms crossed against her chest. It's still small, even though she'd be nearly seven and ten by now. Her bosom is soft and her body lean like a warrior in battle and run. Her hair is tangled tresses of chestnut with leaves in it, her eyes like the winter snow. Those who have survived the lasting trials of Winterfell whisper the name of Lyanna, the beauty of blue roses reborn.

But she is no beauty. She is too wild– she exceeds beauty's bounds.

"A Faceless Man," she tells him, which isn't much of a shock to hear such a thing from a girl like her.

"You don't seem very faceless to me," he says, pounding away at metal and willing it to turn to a fine sword. Even after all of these years, he's never lost his touch.

"Wasn't good at it," she shrugs. "When the Targaryen took the crown, Jon wrote me. About everything. I decided to come home."

"And with a wolf no less," he adds humorously.

"Nymeria," she says, and all the little pieces seem to fall into place.

"I've heard rumors of the girl on the dire wolf," he mumbles after a pregnant pause, turning then to look at her and her sharp grey eyes he has never forgotten, just to make sure she's really still there. All those stories told through clasped hands always sent a thrill through him, and while he was stubborn enough to know she was alive despite what all the others said, he wouldn't admit to himself that she was really so close, almost as if he could reach her if he tried. "They say she kills those who try to do others wrong. Fucking merciless, they say."

"Just because I wasn't cut out for the Faceless Men doesn't mean they didn't teach me anything."

Neither he nor she talks about the kiss as they continue on with idle conversation.

The fifth time he kisses her, he's already inside of her before it happens.

"Please, please," she begged with his mouth on her neck, his fingers buried to the knuckle in the tight heat of her cunt.

They've been at this for weeks, months.

First it was talking– How does it feel to have Jon be King? Have you made Bran his new sword yet? What will Sansa name the babe? Was Rikon really a cannibal, for Gods' sake?– and sometimes she'd be gone, disappear for endless amounts of time that he'd deny himself in fucking missing her and she'd come back smelling like blood and battle with new scars and stories to tell. And so they'd talk some bloody more– I'm just a bastard stag– because he knows the truth, finally– why would you ever have wanted me anyhow? You are not a stag you are a bull. You are something all your own. Jon is a bastard and we tried to make him a wolf, but he is more. Something all his own too. You are a bull; your stupidity and stubbornness should tell you that, wanker.

And then, one day, it just turned to more.

They never kissed, not on the mouth. But he's had his lips and tongue and teeth on every other part of her. He doesn't quite remember how it started– she had probably just come back from one of her elusive trips and they were arguing like always– and then suddenly he had her pressed to the forge's wall with her arms pinned and he tried to kiss her mouth but she wouldn't let him so he kissed her throat instead, her breast, her belly, the heat between her legs. She cried and snarled for him, this fierce wolf woman no longer the little girl he'd called Arry and milady and had been embarrassed to curse and piss in front of.

She is another being entirely, and he seeks her like a man seeks water when dying of thirst.

But she tastes so much fucking better than water, better than wine. Her skin is salt and woods, the warmth between her legs strong and tangy and something all her own. She whines when he touches her, growls when she wants more. Bites him, marks him like an animal marks its mate in claim.

He doesn't care. Wants her to. Wants to mark her back; does.

Because just one fluttery touch of her hands, her sweet and yet oh so dangerous little mouth around his cock is enough to drive him mad. He wants her with every fiber of his being, and it feels like she's always slipping through his grasp– maybe not body in moments like this, but always soul. Every time she leaves, he doesn't know if she'll come back.

Less than twenty ticks ago she returned covered in blood after nearly three months of being gone, half her own and half from a rebellion against the Dragon Queen. He'd been so frantic he hadn't even let her siblings question her, just rushed her away to protect and fix and need.

And he's tired of all of this damned avoidance, these bullshit games. He gave up games long ago; he may be a bastard Baratheon, but she is the only thing he'll ever truly want, not some useless iron throne.

They're in the Godswood this time as he tells her as much, under the eldest tree where she says her father would come and think when it was his decision to end the life of another. He thinks it ironic, when he enters her– tight and warm and new yet so familiar– that they're doing something meant to create life and not end it.

She doesn't cry out when he tears her maidenhead; pain is something she's never much cared about. Likes it better that way. He wouldn't even be sure she hasn't done this before if it weren't for the feeling of the barrier he breaks, how she struggles just to let him in and ruts sloppily, new movements her limbs not yet know how to make.

She's sitting on his lap, trying to take charge like always. And there's this light in her eyes, wild and free and trusting. She'd said one day, so many years ago, she'd never trust him again.

But now she does.

He wants to weep with the realization; instead he gives a small cry of her name as she lifts herself off him and slams back down, over and over and over until her limbs understand what to do, until she's stretched around him just right and she tips her head back and howls, a wolf in her prime.

He grabs at her, her hips and breasts and sides and throat and maybe even her stubborn-ass heart. Finally, finally gets his mouth on hers for a kiss he's ached for for too long. She lets him, wills him to kiss her more as they find rhythm with each other, grinding and growling and thrusting and grunting until she comes with a silent cry, shattering so hard it takes him with her, spilling into her with her name like a curse on his lips.

Neither he nor she talks of the kiss even as he licks the evidence of blood and cum from her thighs, walking back together hand and hand until they reach the boarders of Winterfell.

There are many kisses again, after that.

She comes and goes as she pleases, and he knows it is because a wolf is wild at heart. Sometimes she is gone for days, sometimes for weeks. Once it is almost a full year before she returns to him, smelling of bloody battle as she crawls into his bed– their bed, and nuzzles her nose into his neck.

He does not expect marriage of her or household care or children if she doesn't want them; rules of society be damned. Her brother is King in the North, her cousin the Dragon Queen of all of Westeros.

Things are changing.

She is the girl who rides with wolves, a silent hand of justice in the night. And he is her bastard knight of a lover, a steadfast blacksmith in the Winterfell forge, and he'll be damned if anyone ever takes this from him.

Because he knows even without a ring, without vows or tradition or cloaks, she will always come back to him, to this place, her home as she is his. A wolf may be wild at heart, but stupid bull as he is, even he knows that they are loyal to their packs. And though they are of different breeds, she has chosen him as part of hers.

Neither he nor she talks about the kisses, because they know there will always be more in the morning.