Pairing: Jon/Sansa

Rating: M for sexual content

Summary: It stings like fire, a reminder to Sansa that something is not right between them.

Author's Note: Part 1 of the Navigating Series; Part 2 is Discord; Part 3 is Redefining Family. Although, this and the other fics can be read as oneshots.


He has caught the majority of his seed in his scarred hand, but some drips onto her belly. It's only warm, but as it hits her, it stings like fire, a reminder to Sansa that something is not right between them.

He wipes her clean with the sleeve of his discarded tunic, his face contorted in a repentant frown. Not for taking her, she hopes. Not like the heavy mantel of regret he wore for two moons after the first time he'd bedded his wife, when their coupling was a mistake born of drowsy confusion, more than one goblet of Arbor gold, and too much closeness.

Closeness that she requested. She can't fool herself into thinking otherwise. When they married, it wasn't for love. Nor was it lust that brought them together. Jon meant to protect her. Their marriage was to be a shield. She needed that shield more in those days, being both broken and so very hard. She'd grown accustomed to his silent presence inside her tent before the conclusion of the war. Purely brotherly, he slept in a cot before the flap, probably chilled to the bone, but it made her feel safe. Once they were married, he tried to withdraw to his own chambers—their marriage wasn't a real one, after all—and it left her feeling exposed inside the walls of the Red Keep. She needed him close by.

Please sleep here, she said. Mother and Father always shared a bed.

The first request he easily granted. The rest of what she'd said was a mistake, because once Sansa thought she might want Jon as her real husband, she despaired of his ever looking upon her as anything other than a sister, whom he slept stiffly beside with a great expanse of linens between them.

But that first time, when she awoke to him hard against her back and his hand wandering over her breast, she had not reminded him of either of their names or their shared past. It felt good to be wanted and needed by someone like Jon, and she allowed herself to imagine that this, although not her first marriage, was her first real one. Afterward, he didn't look her full in the face for five days and the first words he'd spoken were a mumbled apology she didn't want to need.

Married to a man such as Jon, Sansa knew she was also married to his honor, and she made no effort to seduce him, though she possessed the tools and had learned well enough how to accomplish such a thing. She let him come to her again and again and again on his own terms, sometimes with long moons between. Each time in darkness, each time with a halting awkwardness born of sobriety and guilt. Still yet, the sweetness of it, of him, of them together, made her heart split. Until he was atop her almost every night and Sansa smiled into her pillow at the words of love he whispered into the crook of her neck as he moved inside of her with gentle surety.

It is different now. She doesn't constantly fear his guilt anymore. It is most probably buried along with their family.

The source of his remorse must be different, when he balls up his soiled tunic and mutters an apology. It seems as if he thinks he's dirtied the girl who wrinkled her nose at her brothers' grubby hands and dirty fingernails.

"I don't mind, Jon," she says, taking his hand and knitting their fingers together as he settles beside her.

He is always so careful when he spills his seed—never inside of her, not since that first night, when he had forgotten himself entirely—but it isn't the spilled drops that bother Sansa. It is the great care he takes to avoid finding his release in her.

What she fears now is worse than his guilt at wanting her, when he thought he shouldn't.

Pulling their linked hands to his mouth, he kisses each of her knuckles in turn with his grey eyes fixed upon hers, his pupils still wide pools of black.

"You might spend in me." She wets her lips, steeling herself for how he might respond to her wanton suggestion. "If you like," she adds, when he tucks their hands into his chest, but remains otherwise silent, his jaw line tight.

Surely his refusal to do so is a sign of some rot in their marriage that no maester could cure. She hopes, however, that her boldness might cut out the infection and bind them closer.

She counts every breath he takes before he finally speaks. "The responsibility is mine. I wouldn't want you to have to drink moon tea."

"I wouldn't. I would never." Not Jon's babe. She has drunk it before, but there would be no reason to keep Jon's seed from growing. "Why would I?"

"Because I might get you with child." He swallows so thickly she can hear it.

He doesn't want her to conceive. Sansa tips her head down, her heart fluttering painfully. "I see."

"I don't expect that of you."

Something in his tone and words make her look up through her lashes at him and his serious face betrays some secret hope that Sansa suspects he has kept close, willing it to go away, the way he may have prayed for his desire for her to dissipate until he gave into that too. Or it might all be in her mind.

"I am your wife," she asserts, though her voice shakes at the pronouncement. She felt certain he had accepted her as such in truth and not just name, but Jon does not express himself much through words and there is a chance she has misunderstood their more frequent, less shame filled love making.

"Yes, but…"

"But?" she repeats, high and thin.

He has no answer, though a muscle jumps in his cheek. This conversation has him strung tight and just as nervous as it is making her. She reaches up her free hand to stroke his beard.

"You need an heir." She thinks if she speaks of duty, a language Jon understands, he will find it in him to respond, but he scowls at her words. "For the realm's good, they'll tell you to set me aside or take a second wife if I don't produce an heir." He is a Targaryen, a fact she has worked hard to remember, and they have done such things in the past. She could still lose Jon.

He drags her into his chest, clutching her roughly, as his hands tangle in her hair. "I'd never allow it, Sansa. That will never come to be." He presses a hot kiss to the crown of her head. "Don't worry yourself about an heir."

She curls into him, sighing into the sound of his heart beating strongly beneath her ear. It is a comfort to feel the fierceness of his grasp and the way his fingers tighten over her scalp almost painfully. Jon needs her, and it gives her the strength to speak her heart.

Her lips brush his hot skin, salty with perspiration. "Then a child. Will you not give one to me?"

He palms her chin, tilting her head up. There is the look again. The one she wants to crack open and examine, so she might know that their desires are in concert.

"Is that what you want? My child?"

His voice deepens so on the second question that it makes something burn in her belly. Something good and real that has her sliding a leg between his in a slow rub of her flesh against his solid thighs.

She can withstand a good deal, her spine has been tested, but she does not think she could withstand Jon's rejection. Maybe it is the same for him.

"Yes. Your child is what I want most."

He rolls atop her, pulling their entwined hands above both their heads, pining her to the bed, and he kisses her. It's rough, this kiss. It is bumped teeth and bites and desperate noises. Jon is not usually so careless with her. His passion not so uncontained. She likes it very much, this husband who is coming unhinged, though he only spent himself in his hand a few minutes prior. She encourages him, widening her legs to let him sink into the cradle of her hips.

His breath comes ragged and she can feel him already growing hard again—like an eager green boy—against her belly, when he pulls back to say, "I'd give you anything, Sansa. Anything."

Jon does not seem a romantic, but these promises he makes are the things of songs. Even if he cannot deliver on them, he makes them and means them. And if she has his love, she thinks she already has it all.