Three Taps: A Game of Thrones Fan-Fiction Story

THREE TAPS: A GAME OF THRONES FAN-FICTION STORY

By 1000th Ghost

Word Count: 8,029

Rating: PG-13 for sexual elements and thematic content

Summary: Tyrion and Sansa seek to overcome their awkwardness to fulfill the terms of their forced marriage and in the process, stand to strengthen and deepen their relationship.

 

S and T
Image Credit: HBO/Warner Bros. Television Distribution

(Author’s Note: This story is dedicated to Briana for telling me to get into Game of Thrones because she knew I would ship this couple.  And to Charlie for explaining Game of Thrones to me when it gets too confusing.  And to my subconscious for dreaming up the dream sequence.)

The first night of their marriage, he slept on a chaise lounge.

The second night of their marriage, he slept in their bed.

The first night, after her…husband…had passed out, she was not entirely sure what she was feeling.  Or what she should be feeling.

“Relief” was the tentative label she gave it.  There was pity too.  Confusion.  Gratitude.  The word “disappointment” would not quite enter her head, but it was all rather anticlimactic.  She had been completely resolute that tonight she would lose her virginity…it would be horridly less than ideal but still monumentally better than it might have been.  He-

“-Tyrion,” she forced herself to use his name, “Tyrion-“

-had promised that he wouldn’t ever hurt her.  And he had done nothing in the past or thus far to make her doubt that promise, cumulating in the refusal to consummate the marriage until-

“-until I want him to,” she thought, a bit of panic creeping into her mind.

She was sure he had meant to be kind and gentlemanly, but part of her wished he had just taken her.  Now everything, the decision, the if or, even more worrisome, when, fell on her shoulders.

She looked at him.

He looked…uncomfortable.  And completely unthreatening.

She hypothesized that she could knock the table over, and it would not rouse him.  There was something very empowering about it:  being totally left to her own devices and the man she was supposed to currently be in bed with entirely comatose.

But, he looked uncomfortable.

For half a moment, she wondered if her…well, not “refusal”, she hadn’t refused him anything, but her definite lack-of-enthusiasm had been cruel.  Then, for another half a moment, little thoughts such as “He can’t help that he’s a dwarf” and “He can’t help that he’s a Lannister” crept into her mind.  And then she snuffed out all of the uncomfortable thoughts and turned her attention to her uncomfortable husband.

He was as small as a child.  He called her a child, but she towered above him.  So, she tucked him in like she would a child, like she had to Bran and Rickon countless times.

She placed a red blanket over him.  He didn’t even stir.

She doubted a full pillow would fit on the tiny chaise lounge.  Her light-blue robe caught her eye, and an unsuppressed scandalous feeling came upon her, and then she almost laughed at how stupid that was.

He was asleep.

And he was her husband, who had every right to see her sans robe…no, she wasn’t going to think about that, she was going to think about the fact that he was asleep, and she could do naked cartwheels across the floor for all he cared.

She bundled the robe up and carefully, carefully, and then not so carefully because he really was so deeply passed out, lifted his head with one hand.

It was very light.  And his hair was soft.

She smirked at the little image she had concocted, the little child in the little child’s bed with the soft hair and the deep sleep.  She placed a kiss on his forehead amongst the blond locks and then didn’t stop herself from laughing out loud.

Yes, her adorable, little child husband.  Sleep well, sweet dreams, love.

She made her way over to the vanity and began taking down her elaborate wedding hairstyle.  She watched him in the mirror’s reflection.  Then she brushed her long, red hair straight and continued to watch him.

He was a man.

Her illusion would be over in the morning.

In the morning, he would be a man again.  He would say manly things and do manly things and think manly things.  And men only wanted one thing.

She blew out the candles, and she couldn’t see him anymore, and she was glad.  It was not practical to fall in love with this child-husband because it was a lie.

In the morning, she would have to tell him that he could sleep in the bed with her because he was not a child and deserved the bed of a man.

The second night, after her husband had retired to their bedchamber with her, she was concretely feeling nothing but awkwardness.

For one thing, he was not drunk tonight, at least, not that she could tell, so any excuses that could have accompanied that were gone.

There was also the matter of undressing.  The first night, she had undressed in front of him because she thought she had to, and he had passed out in his wedding clothes.

She on-the-spot decided that changing behind the dressing screen would be strange since, after all, he had seen her take her dress off the previous night, and nothing catastrophic had happened.

He watched her do it, and she tried to pretend that she didn’t notice, which was rather difficult considering how blatant he was being about it.

He began to undress.  He got three buttons undone, and she wasn’t sure what her expression was, but apparently it was some sort of alarm.  He stalked off behind the screen with a look of almost-frustration on his face.  “Hurt” was probably more accurate, but she didn’t want to think that.

When he reemerged in a sleeping tunic, he raised his arms and shrugged.  She wished he would just say something instead because the words she used to accompany his gesture were “What is your problem?  Am I so terrifying?”

Then he started in the direction of the chaise lounge.

It took literally every ounce of courage she possessed to even address him.  She had more than half a mind to just wait until the moment had passed, and he was settled on the chaise lounge, and she could hide in the big bed and declare herself a failure and not care because she was in her safe sanctuary.

“My lord-”  Her voice sounded completely unnatural and choppy.

“-Tyrion.”

Oh, and she had messed up after all that anyway!

“Tyrion, you, um, you don’t have to, you can sleep with, I mean, on-”  She wondered if he thought she was mentally challenged.  “-the bed.”

No, no, his eyes had lit up, no, he had misinterpreted her!

For his part, it made perfect sense.  The first night, it had been too new and too overwhelming, but now that she had had a day to digest it, she was ready to do her wifely duty.

His excitement dimmed.  No, he knew what desire looked like, and that wasn’t it.  When he had said not until she wanted him to, he had meant wanted, not was contractually willing.

“You don’t want me to,” he said with a quick shake of his head.  “So, I won’t.”

“I meant…”  She hated the act even being hinted at, and it seemed that their entire marriage was going to be comprised of skirting around it!  “…you looked uncomfortable last night.  You don’t have to sleep there.”

“Well.”  Now he smiled, and it was a real smile, and she was glad.  “Thank you.  Though,” he was quick to add, “I very much appreciated the effort you took to make me…comfortable.”

Alright, when he said the word “comfortable”, he made it seem as if it had several other meanings.  Maybe she did prefer his ambiguous gestures.

And now she couldn’t think of what was supposed to happen next, so, after glancing uncertainly to the left and right and not at him, she climbed up onto the bed.

He had to jump a little to make it onto the mattress, but she only vaguely registered it.  She was busy burying herself under the covers and making sure that every inch other than her head was hidden and hurrying to seclude herself on the far left side of the bed.

He propped himself up with one arm and stared at her until she felt obligated to turn her head and look back at him.

An eyebrow was cocked, and he looked amused.

“I’m not going to attack you, Sansa.”

She blinked and said nothing.

“I don’t want you to be uncomfortable either.  I hardly take up any room; you can completely spread out and be in no danger of touching me.”

She continued to say nothing, which he was beginning to recognize as her usual response to most things.  Giving up, he blew out the candles.

“You won’t even know I’m here,” she heard him say to the darkness.

What a falsehood!

Hours had passed by now, she was sure.  It had been a very long time since she had shared a bed with someone, or a room, for that matter.  And with Arya, she always had to be vigilant, or she might wake up to find that her hair had been cut off in the night or some other vengeful prank.

She was acutely, acutely aware of his presence, his breathing, the heat he produced under their blanket.

“Sansa.”

She stiffened.

If she had been paying more attention to her own breathing, she would have thought to make it sound deep and even, not like she had just finished a running race!

“You’re still awake.”

It was a statement, not a question.

“So are you,” she countered.

“Why?”

In truth, she did not know.  And she didn’t like him asking because it made her think that there maybe was a reason that she was so aware of his presence and breathing and heat.

“‘Because I want you‘,” he mentally filled in the silence for her.

Or because she was terrified.

Yes, almost certainly the latter.  Although her silence made it ambiguous , so at least he could have a shred of hope.

“Because-“

Oh, she was answering him?  How novel.

“-you’re here.”

Hmm.  That did nothing to lessen the ambiguity one way or the other.

“Should I leave?”

“No!”

The suddenness of her response seemed to startle both of them.

“Give me your hand, Sansa.”

“What?”

“Give me your hand,” he repeated, more insistently.

He pondered how long it was taking her hand to make its mile-long journey over to him, though in reality, it was probably only a number of seconds.

When her hand was at last in his vague vicinity, he grabbed it, straightened the limp arm, and placed her palm squarely on his chest.

Her very-audible gasp echoed around the chamber.

The neckline of his tunic was pulled low, and she could feel skin and muscle and hair, and he was a thousand degrees, and her head was spinning so much that she would have fallen had she not already been lying down.

“Look, you touched me.  And the world didn’t end.”

He let her go, and her hand fell to his side.  She brought it back and curled herself up, facing away from him.

“Go to sleep, Sansa.”

For a week or so, she did.  Oh, her acute awareness of his presence did not lessen, but she got used to the tense feeling she knew would now accompany her nights.  Her conscious mind minded very much, but her unconscious mind just wanted to sleep, so sleep she did.

He was right, there was no danger of them touching.  He stayed on his side of the bed, and it was only her mind that accentuated every nuance of him.  Really, it was like sleeping with a small child who got lost in the expanse of the bed.  But whenever she began to compare him to a child, the memory of his chest came back to her, and she had to conclude that he most certainly did not have the body of a child.

Her ability to sleep might also have been due, in part, to spending time with him during waking hours.  He simply wasn’t threatening.  She wanted him to be, she wanted so very much to hate him for everything he was and represented, but she could find no reason to do so.  He was always putting her first.  He was good company.  He was making her smile, and it was the closest she had come to happiness in a long time.  He was flirtatious, but never in a way that made her wary.  He was funny.

He was…kind.

She was just used to having him around, even though she doubted being under covers with him would ever become any less suspenseful.  But she fell fast asleep tonight anyway and dreamt of nothing.

***

Don’t. Move,” his brain commanded.

Sunlight was streaming into their room, birds were chirping, and his wife was curled upon him.

Don’t even breathe.

It felt so completely natural that when he first had opened his eyes, nothing seemed unusual.  It was so good, he almost fell back asleep.  Then his heart stopped.

Her cheek was on his chest, her arm was across his shoulder, and one of her legs was bent and crossing both of his.

He could only see the top of her head, but he guessed that her expression was serene.

He wanted to hold her back.  He wanted to wrap his arms around her slumbering frame and hold her close and close his eyes.  No, he wanted her to open her eyes and lift her head and kiss him and brush his hair out of his face and say that she loved him.  He wanted her to want him so badly that he wondered how he was going to survive the rest of their celibate marriage without losing his mind.

But for now, he would just lie there and fantasize until he had almost convinced himself that this was her subconscious desires speaking and not just clumsy, deep sleep.

Of course, when she woke up, she would scream and jolt away and maybe run across the room.  That was alright, as long as he got to have this moment for a little while longer.

She opened her eyes.

He thought that maybe he should pretend to still be asleep, but he was so curious to see her reaction that he watched her with wide eyes.

She shifted her head and looked at him looking at her.

He looked like he was about to die of anticipation and hope, and she looked confused and tired.  But she hadn’t screamed.

Then she smiled at him, a slight smile, but a smile nonetheless, and said, “I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be, it’s fine,” he managed to mumble before her head was back on him.  She nestled herself deeper into him, clutched his tunic with one hand, and was still.

What in seven kingdoms was going on.

          He began to stroke her hair. It was a stupid, foolish thing to do, and he cursed his hand as soon as it had started, but he could not seem to find the strength to will it to stop.

She was awake, he could tell.  And she did not rebuke him.

After an unspecified amount of time, she wordlessly untangled herself from him, crossed to her side, got out of bed, and went to get dressed for the day.

He let go of a breath he hadn’t been aware of holding.

She wished to avoid him for the day, and for the next day too.  But it was impossible.  He followed her everywhere, or she followed him everywhere, or somehow, he was always there.  Neither mentioned the instance, and she was immensely grateful for that.  But she could not stop her brain from mentioning it or rather, dwelling on it profusely.

The same nagging fear that had presented itself on their wedding night had crept back up and apparently would not be ignored anymore.  The decision was hers.  She hated that.  She loved it because it showed that he cared and because nothing would happen without her consent.  And because she did not want to consummate the marriage.  She didn’t think.  Not now.  Probably.  But she hated it because she knew perfectly well that she would never, never actually bring herself to tell him that she wanted it.  Even if she did, even if it was all she wanted, all she ever thought about, and she was burning with desire and needed him to touch her like she needed to breathe, even then, she would never say it.

So, she would be eternally a virgin, and he would be eternally convinced that she was repulsed by him, and they would never have any children, and probably someone would kill them for that.

“My lo-Tyrion.”  Till the day she died, she suspected that she would most likely want to call him “my lord”.  She tried very hard not to, which more often than she would like resulted in her stuttering “My Tyrion”.

The first time she had done so, he joked, “Oh, I’m yours, am I?” and as much as she tried to not repeat the embarrassment, she made the same mistake over and over again.

“Yes, my la-Sansa?” he mocked, mirth in his voice.

She did not want this conversation, but she needed it, and she forced herself to utter, “When I want to consummate the marriage-“

Oh, dear, oh, dear, she had said “when”!  She meant “if”…she had

“-if…when I want to consummate the marriage, I won’t have a way of letting you know.”

“Do you want to?”

Her hand had been taken in both of his.

Oh, dear, how did she always manage to mess everything up so miserably?!  She couldn’t stand the excited expectation written on his face.

“No.”

“Oh.”  He hoped that he masked his disappointment well, but he somehow doubted it.  Well, even if she did know that he wanted her, what of it?  Was it a crime that he wanted his own wife?  “Then, forgive me, but what exactly is your concern?”

“If-when-if I want to, how will you know?”

“You seem to be having tremendous difficulty with the words ‘if’ and ‘when’.”

She chose to completely ignore his accusation, of course.

“I don’t understand the question, I’m afraid.  Just…tell me?” he finished lamely.

She resolutely shook her head.

“I couldn’t.”

His eyebrows knit together.

“…why not?”

“I-I-I couldn’t just go up to you and say ‘Oh, I want to now’!” she stuttered.

“Why not?” he repeated with a grin.  “That seems the most straightforward way.”

“I would be – it would be much too humiliating.  Mortifying!  And I wouldn’t ever be brave enough and…and even if I was and did, you would say something clever and teasing, and I would cry.”

“I would not.”

“Yes, you would!”

Yes, he probably would.  Something like “Ah, my reputation with women has finally piqued your curiosity?” or “I knew eventually you would realize you had a special interest in short men”.  And, she was right, she would be mortified.  She was a high-born, an innocent, a lady, not a prostitute like he was used to, and if he ever wanted anything to be accomplished, he had to approach it with extreme sensitivity.

And, she was also right, a lady would never say anything that remotely risqué.  If – or when! – she ever did give him some inclination, if he treated her request as anything less than sacred, she would cry.  Oh, he would make sure of one thing if nothing else:  he would do everything in his power to keep her from ever crying again.

“Sansa, if you did ever dare to honor me with your permission, I would be genteel and compassionate and reverent.  You have my word.”

“But I wouldn’t.”

“I know.”  Frankly, it would be so out-of-character for her that if she did try to seduce him, he would wonder where the timid, naive girl he loved had gone.

Naturally, he hoped that one day she would come to him always and whenever she wanted him with no reservations.  But for now, nothing but tentativeness would do.

“You couldn’t say it out loud.  But could you…”  He thought for a moment.  “It doesn’t have to be verbal.  What if you just made some small, ordinary gesture?  You could do it anywhere at any time, and only I would know what it meant.”

“Like a secret code?”

He chuckled.

“Exactly!  Like a secret code.”

“Alright.”  She sat down on the chaise lounge he had used their first night and faced him head-on.  “What shall the code be?”

“When – can I say ‘when’?”

She shook her head.

“Alright, if you want…to…then…”  He paused.  “Tap me on the shoulder three times.”

She reached over and tapped his shoulder three times, and his eyes nearly doubled in size.

“That was a test.”

He nodded stiffly.  This girl was going to be the death of him.

“Of course.”

All things considered, it seemed to be going remarkably well.  There were several things to be considered, and they were all complicated, but still, at least they were talking about it.  Now though, he had developed something of an obsession with his shoulders.  Any time anyone or anything accidentally touched them (which, with his short stature, was often), he momentarily exploded with ecstasy, only to come crashing down a second later.

Still.  Still though.  Things were looking more promising than ever before.

And then he received the news that her brother and mother had been butchered.

She hated him, he was sure of it.  Just when he had been so close!  Not close to her love, perhaps, but at least to her friendship.  She had seemed to be genuinely enjoying his company and conversation, and then, then the marvelously infuriating business with the three taps!

Now he was a Lannister again, and Lannisters were evil, and that was as far as her thought process went, he was fairly certain.

He wished desperately that she would let him comfort her.  He couldn’t be positive, but he thought that he might be rather good at comforting if she would give him the chance to.  He had tried to, and she was aloof and spiteful and removed her hand from his as if he had burned her.

“My lady, I am your husband, let me help you.”

          “How can you help me?”

          “I don’t know, but I can try.”

          He couldn’t blame her, not really. His family was on a mission to kill hers, and somehow, people had thought it would be a good idea to throw them into a marriage together.  But he hadn’t wanted her family to die; he would never wish any more hardships for the poor girl for all the power or money in the world.

It didn’t matter.  She wouldn’t believe a word he said because he was a cursed member of his cursed family, and the telltale blond hair was a banner of death as far as she was concerned.

He dreaded that evening.  He was quite used to her repulsion and distrust, but now it was newfound tenfold, and he wasn’t sure he could handle it when all he wanted to do was dry every one of her tears.

She climbed mechanically onto the bed.  He was already there, having hoped that he could fall asleep before she even arrived.

He was still wide awake, of course.

For five minutes or so, he listened to her shaky breaths.  Then she tapped his shoulder.

He practically leapt from his skin, but she did not repeat the motion.  This was an ordinary tap, she was merely trying to get his attention.

“I know how you could help me.  Could-could you hold me?”  Her voice broke halfway through, and the end of the phrase finished with weeping.

“Yes-yes, of course,” he choked, completely caught off guard and feeling at once grateful and needed.

He came to her, and they fell together, her face pressed into his chest, his arms wrapping her in his embrace the best he could.  She convulsed with sobs as if this moment was her breaking point.  He held her as tight as was physically possible and let her.

“No one hugs me,” she whimpered.  “No one has since my father died.”

“Oh…”  His heart ached for her.  He kissed the top of her head.  “You might only have me, but I will dedicate my life to being enough for you.”

She hiccupped back a cry.

“I hate them,” he confessed.  “I hate my family, every last miserable one.  If I knew it wouldn’t result in our deaths, I would destroy them all for you.”  He sighed sharply.  “Sansa, I’m not like them,” he said into her hair.

She was asleep a few minutes later, but he felt sure that she believed him.

She wanted to be held every night after that.  It never lasted till morning, but she would not fall asleep without his arms and soothing words surrounding her.

***

She hadn’t tapped him three times. No words had been spoken between them, but no words were needed.  A mutual understanding, an emotion, a longing look that said they had both waited long enough and couldn’t wait anymore.

          She knelt on the floor in front of him, and they were eyelevel with each other.

          Their hands went to the tie of her robe, his on top of hers, but she let him take control, her fingers just fumbling and giving the illusion of working.

          The robe fell open, revealing her slip underneath.  His hands went to her shoulders, and it was so very palpable that she thought she couldn’t breathe.  His hands moved slowly, agonizingly slowly, across her shoulders and down, down, down her arms.  The robe’s sleeves followed, but his hands were more on her skin than on the cloth, leaving wonderful, fiery trails in their wake.  Her heart beat so thunderously loud, so fast, that it pulsated through every inch of her, radiating off his fingers and dissolving into the room, bathed in red from the sunset.

          Now she was facing him in her thin slip, and before he had a chance to do so himself, she went to his top button and started the line down his front.  His look was dark and desperate, and she moved to the long, white shirt underneath, tucked into his trousers.

          His hands were back on her shoulders, and he had to, he had to, but he didn’t want to scare her, so he kissed her hotly next to, almost, on her mouth.

 ***

“That was brilliant, that was brilliant, brilliant,” she chanted deliriously to the bunched-up blanked in front of her.  Then she glanced just passed it to the face of her husband.  His mouth was agape, his eyes slightly out of focus.

Sansa…

“What was…I…”

He looked dark and desperate and so familiar, and she wished she was still in the dream.

“You said – you moaned my name-“

“No, I – I did? – I-“

“You’re very vocal.”

She didn’t even know what that meant, but he said it as if it was the best news he had ever received.

Tyrion…”  She hadn’t moaned it that time, but she hadn’t consciously decided to say it either, and she sounded…she sounded dark and desperate.

She stretched luxuriously and moved closer to him and had no control over her actions anymore as far as she could tell.

He reached for her, and she jerked away.

“Sansa?”

“I’m sorry to wake you.”  She turned promptly on her side, her back to him.

“Sansa…!”

He sounded so forlorn and urgent that she almost turned back around.  But she didn’t, and after a few tense moments where she wouldn’t let herself think of whether or not she wanted to feel his touch on her back, she heard him collapse with a muffled groan.

Two days passed, the majority of which she spent stuttering, fiddling with her fingers, and blushing profusely.

He didn’t know what to think.  His best conclusion was that, on some level, she was attracted to him, she did want him, and that she was going to resist it with everything she had.  He wasn’t sure there was anything else he could do at this point.  She knew him, she trusted him, and it just didn’t matter.  What else could he do?

His conclusion was almost accurate but not quite.  She was attracted to him, she did want him, but her attempt to resist it with everything she had was failing.

The dream rolled through her memory on a loop, and she wished over and over that she had gotten to see the end of it.  She tried to picture what her subconscious would have filled in if the shock of his cautious kiss hadn’t woke her up.  The reasonable thing was another kiss, a real one.

But, she was ashamed to admit, by “real” kiss, she didn’t mean the kiss she shared with Joffrey or even the sealing kiss on her and Tyrion’s wedding day.  A real kiss would be…she didn’t have the right adjective in her vocabulary to describe it.  But she was sure that he knew quite a few adjectives to describe a real kiss.

There was an important component to the game they had been playing, and neither mentioned it ever.  It was that they both knew that “never” was a bluff.  He would be willing to “never”, if that was what she desired, but what he was willing to do and what actually had to happen were two different things.  At some point, they had to produce children, or someone would make sure that something disastrous occurred.  And with that knowledge, it made no sense for her to resist what would happen eventually.  Especially when she wasn’t certain she wanted to resist anymore.

But she was scared, and he would probably find her laughably inexperienced, and it seemed much too big of a thing.  Kissing him though, kissing didn’t seem terribly scary.  Even if it was a “real” kiss.

She waited until after they had finished lunch.  She had contemplated waiting until after dinner, but dinner was too close to undressing, and undressing was too close to bed, and then it would be dark, and she wasn’t sure he could control himself or that she would want him to.

He swallowed his last bite, placed his napkin on his plate, and stood up from his chair.  She tapped him on the shoulder.

Twice.

He just looked at her, and he wondered if he appeared like she did when she often lapsed into silence.

“Well…say something.  Tell me what you’re thinking.”

Yes, apparently he was doing a good job of mimicking her.  Maybe in past occasions when she refused to respond, he should have just out and asked her like she did.

“You send…remarkably mixed messages, Sansa.”

And now she was silent.  Well, he would try her direct approach of dealing with silence.  It couldn’t hurt things any further.

“What do two taps mean?”

“It means…”  She took a deep, steadying breath.  “…do you want to just kiss?”

Did he want to “just” kiss?  No, he wanted much, much more than that.  But that probably wasn’t what she was asking him, and, of course, he wanted to kiss her.  He would take absolutely anything from her.

“Sansa, are you being serious? I’m not sure I can take any more false alarms.”

“I-I’m being serious. Do you want to kiss me?”

“Yes.” He would have to make the first move, which he completely expected. He was glad that she was still in her chair – he could reach her, and he was saved from having to ask her to kneel. He moved towards her, and she closed her eyes maybe a bit prematurely, but it was adorable, and he held back a chuckle. His hand cupped her cheek and guided her to him. The kiss was tentative, even more so than their wedding kiss, but he figured that it was all she could handle. She pushed back against him. Oh. Well, then.

He moved his hand from her cheek to the nape of her neck and then up to the back of her head, tangled in her red locks. He brought her closer. Ah, this could all end so badly, he might prove a fool for risking too much. But what man in his position wouldn’t take the risk? Gradually, their mouths found each other fully, and he braced himself for her slap. It didn’t come. No, she was kissing him back. Kissing him like – did he dare to think of her with this word? – like a woman would.

It dissolved into madness in moments. He couldn’t get close enough to her, and she was straining against the arm of her chair to press herself against him. He took her hands, which were clutching themselves in her lap and being entirely useless, and looped her arms around his neck. He needed to feel her holding him too for once, and she did not disappoint, running her fingers through his tousled, blond hair and grasping his shoulders as if she felt as urgently as he did. But curse the bloody armrest! They were both going to have a bruised line on their chests when this was over. Maybe they would crush the wood into powder, and there would be no more barriers between them. He broke away from her, and they both gasped in a mouthful of air.

“Come to the bed,” he demanded.

“N-no, I-” She was faltering, and there was little doubt in his mind that he could make her continue as far as he wanted quite easily. But it was not what she wanted, so he wouldn’t.

“I won’t try anything further than this, I promise. It will just be more comfortable.” His voice was shaking. “Please.”

She couldn’t stand it anymore, the torturing him. She had never stopped and thought about how everything was affecting him, she realized. She felt very selfish, and he always put her desires before his own, and now she had made him resort to begging. She stood up without another word and practically sprinted to the bed. He made a noise halfway between a laugh and an exclamation of relief and followed.

She scrambled up onto the mattress and turned towards him on her side, chest heaving. He smiled broadly and was beside her a second later. The next second, their lips had found each other again, and the next second, she was on her back and felt his weight pinning her down, and she was gone. She was blooming underneath him like the sweetest flower, the little bud finally discovering what it meant to open up. He could have tasted her nectar forever if she let him.

But as his hands caressed her silken white neck, it also became too much. Since their marriage, he had determined that he must have more self-control than any man before him, but he was only a man, and every man had his limits. If he let this continue, he couldn’t see this not being his limit. With something like physical hurt, he rolled off of her. He was saying something, and she wasn’t paying attention.

“Don’t stop, keep going…kiss me, touch me…” her mind was rambling, and, “…too enthusiastic…” she heard him say.

“If he asks me to right now, I’ll say ‘yes’,” she thought.

She was silent like usual, and what would happen now, he wondered, if he used the direct approach for a second time and asked her if she wanted to continue till the end? She might say yes. Or, she might never trust him again.  “I should – I’ll – things I need to get done.” He gave her a quick smile, a quick peck on the cheek, and quickly got off the bed.

“No. Stay,” she silently screamed after him, and he had left the room. She jabbed her finger three times into the mattress where he had just been. Three more times, three more, over and over. Saying that there were things he needed to get done was not a lie, or at least, he made it not be a lie. He threw himself into his work wholeheartedly, attempting to stave off any lascivious thoughts through the tedium of numbers and accounts and finances.

When his father wanted a word with him a week later, he figured it was over the outrageous amount of work he had done in a short period of time.  Maybe his father disagreed with some principle, or maybe his frazzled brain had completely miscalculated something.  Maybe he wanted to thank him for what a good job he had been doing, but that one was incredibly unlikely.

“Is your wife barren?  Because that is the only suitable excuse I can contemplate for why she still fails to have a son growing in her.”

“Oh, it’s time for this conversation again, is it?  I suppose it has been a while since the last one.”

“Don’t be smart with me, boy.”  Tywin stood up, his gnarled hands in fists on the table.  “I gave you an incredibly simple task – one that I thought you, of all people, would have no difficulty accomplishing given your…reputation.”

“There is quite a difference between harlots that only want your money and girls who don’t want you at all,” he said somewhat bitterly.

“If the little princess still hasn’t acquiesced to your…charms after all this time, then it’s time you took matters into your own hands.”

“She knows how to let me know if she is ready.”  Tyrion shrugged.  “Until then, I’m not going to rush her.”

“I don’t think you’re hearing me.”  He paused.  “I don’t think you’ve ever understood the point of this marriage.  I don’t care if she loves you or despises you, and I don’t care if she’s ‘happy’.  I care about Winterfell.”

“Yes, I know perfectly well what your reasons for the marriage were,” Tyrion spat.  “But I do care about her happiness, and I promised her that I wouldn’t ever hurt her.”

“Thankfully, I never made such a promise.  You will figure out how to use your manhood, or I’ll have the girl’s throat slit.”

“You couldn’t.”  He was seeing red, and for not the first time in his life, he renewed his hatred for this man he had the displeasure of calling “father”.  “You need her for Winterfell.”

“I don’t ‘need’ her for anything.  Her offspring would simplify the process somewhat, but it is not ‘needed’.  Do you think if Joffrey had managed to kill her months ago, I would suddenly abandon the thought of acquiring Winterfell?”

Tyrion opened his mouth to reply and was interrupted, “She’s already been almost more trouble than she’s worth.  The marriage will be consummated tonight, or I’ll guarantee that your precious bride stays virginal forever.”  He sat back down.  “You may go.”

The thunderous slam of the door made Sansa jump, and Sansa made Tyrion jump.

“How-how long have you been here?”

She stared guiltily at the floor.

“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.  I was just walking by, and…”

“And you heard everything.”

She nodded.”

“Sansa, I-“

“It’s alright.”  She continued to stare at the floor.  “You tried to defend me.  You did everything that you could.  I’m-I’m very grateful.”

He shook his head, feeling miserable.

“I wanted to do more than ‘try’.”

“I thought something like this would happen eventually anyway.”

He sighed.

“I did too.  I just hoped that…”  He trailed off.

“That I would want to before it reached this point?”

“Are you angry with me?’

“You’ve been a gentleman.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

“Do you want to?” he asked.

“No.”

“I told you I wouldn’t ever hurt you.  I’m not going to let him kill you.”

“I don’t want him to kill me either.”

There was an uncomfortable pause where neither managed to make eye contact.

Then she inhaled and exhaled sharply and said, “Let’s go.”

He walked behind her, hating himself every step of the way.

They arrived in their bedchamber, and he closed the door behind them, and somehow, he was feeling nervous.  If he was feeling nervous, she must have been about ready to faint.  What a disaster this was going to be, and what a disaster the rest of the marriage would be because of it!

She walked to the bed, turned away from him, and removed her dress. It was déjà vu from their wedding night, and this time, he couldn’t do anything to help her. She pulled one shoulder of her slip down.

“Sansa, I-” She glanced at him over her exposed shoulder. His shoulders were slumped, and he looked anguished. “I’m so sorry.”

She nodded quickly and turned her face back to the bed. The rest of her slip fell away. She looked back at him over her shoulder again. His expression betrayed him, he knew. Even with everything coming to ruin around them, even though this was the last thing she wanted and the last thing he wanted if she did not want it, he was staring at her with desire. She began to slowly turn fully towards him, and he tried to control his breathing.

“Don’t look at her,” he told himself, and he stopped his wide-eyed scanning for about a second before his gaze went right back to her. “I’m sorry,” he sighed. “You’re so beautiful. And…” He tilted his head. “…and apparently I can’t stop apologizing.”

She didn’t say anything, and this time, he understood why. Sometimes, there was nothing to say. He started to undress, and she sat on the very edge of the bed and wrapped her arms self-consciously around her middle and studied something on the floor very intently. She clearly had much stronger control than he had of keeping her eyes to herself. He had stared exclusively at her, only once trying to look elsewhere. She stared exclusively elsewhere and only once looked at him. A deep blush immediately sprang to her cheeks. She quickly looked away but then glanced back at him, away, back at him, away.

“You can look,” he said with a shrug. “I may not have the physical stature of a knight, but I’m not modest.”

“No, no, I wasn’t, it’s not that, it’s just, it’s, I’ve never seen…a…man…” That was true. He had seen so many countless women before, but this was probably something of an experience for her. Curious or shocking. Maybe impressive, though it wasn’t as if she had anything to compare him to. And then he had another thought, that he was undoubtedly the only man she would ever see.

“Well, look all you want. Really, I don’t mind. You can be as familiar about it as you want.” She gasped and promptly looked away again. Those might not have been the wisest word choices he could have made. He couldn’t possibly mess things up any further though, he figured.

He took a step forward, and she sunk back a little into the bed. Fantastic, she was shrinking away from him. He swung his arm out towards the bed as if politely ushering her through a door. She climbed in awkwardly, all limbs and nerves. She looked so small, lying there with her hair splayed on the pillow, even though she was much taller than him physically. He sat on the mattress and looked down at her. He currently felt like one of the most despicable men who had ever lived, but decided he could at least try to make the best of things for her.

He shifted slightly so he was leaning above her, and she scrunched her eyes shut tight. “Alright, I’m ready. Do it.” She sounded like she was practically gritting her teeth.

He was so surprised, he wasn’t sure how to react. “That’s-that’s not how it works.” Oh, yes, further inform her that she had no idea how to go about this. He was on a roll with his word choices. “I mean, first we have to – I have to get you in the mood.”

“No, I just want to get it over with.”

“I can’t, I’ll hurt you!”

“It’s supposed to hurt the first time. I’m not afraid of the pain.”

“No, not that, if you’re not-” Oh, word choice, careful now or he would embarrass her. “-warmed up-” What? That was the best he could come up with? “-it will hurt a lot and hurt the whole time.”

“But I want it to be over fast!”

“Could you open your eyes?” He chuckled softly. “Sorry, it just feels like I’m talking to a sleeping person.” There he went, apologizing again. She did, and there were tears in them. Oh, perhaps it was better with them closed. “Or you can keep them closed if you don’t want to look at me, and think of someone else instead,” he offered. The hurt in his voice was evident even to his own ears. “At least your husband wants you,” he added quietly. “It could be worse.”

“You could be Joffrey.”

“Yes, I could want to kill you, or I could not find you desirable.”

“But you’re just you.”

“Just me.”

He’d assume that was some sort of a compliment, though he wasn’t sure. “And you know I won’t ever hurt you.”

She shook her head. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do though.”

“You don’t have to.” He smiled and traced one finger down her cheek, and she did not flinch away. “You just have to feel, I’ll do the rest.”

He kissed her forehead, and she watched him as though every move he made was utterly fascinating. Gaining confidence, he leaned down to her lips and brushed his against them. He thought wistfully to the day she had sought his kiss out herself. She might have wanted him completely one day if she had been allowed to come to that place on her own terms. Now it was forced, and she was fearful once more, and he would never win her passion or love at all.

He kissed her again anyway, and she remembered how to respond, though the passion was nearly stifled. Slowly, the kissing led to caressing and her breathing began to pick up. Finally; perhaps he could awaken something in her this one time. He kissed her fiercely, and her breath hitches. Then her arms were around his back, holding him closer. She seemed to like the physical closeness. He might have known, all the nights she insisted on being held.

“Tyr-” She started, but could not finish, too caught up in the wave of sensations, being drawn up into the act of love-making. “Ty-” Oh, he loved the sound of his name dying on her tongue. “Ty- Ty- Ty…” His new goal in life became to never let her finish his name. “Tyrion…” Oh, help him, that was so much better.

Her eyes were shut tight again, but there was no resistance anymore, and he stared at her flushed face as if he had never, ever seen a woman like this. He couldn’t remember a time he had become so desperate from nothing but someone else’s reactions. “Sansa, I need you.”

She didn’t reply, but if she was too far into her own world to register anything else, that was a remarkably good thing. “Tyrion, I lo-” No, she sounded too serious, he wasn’t going to let her talk, he wouldn’t let her do anything but drown in the same moment with him. Soon her sentence dissolved into an exquisitely insistent sigh. Time felt suspended, as if it would never stop…

And then it finally did stop. As soon as it was over, he knew it as all over.

He got off of her quickly and moved a sizable distance away.

“Well, you survived,” he said after clearing his throat.  “With any luck, this did the trick, and we’ll never have to do it again.”

“What if…what if I don’t want to never do it again?”

His head whipped around to face her.

With a sweet expression and a timid hand, she reached over and tapped his shoulder.

One.

Two.

Three.

He was by her side in an instant.

“Sansa, this marriage can be anything you want it to.  It can be real and full of love and-“

“I love you,” she said softly.  “I tried to tell you during-”

He kissed her pretty, smiling lips before she could see the tears that had come to his eyes.

 

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