novin_ha: Buffy: gotta be a sacrifice ([got] armour of a lady)
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This took me a gazillion years to complete and even more to post. But here it is, finally.

Slight spoilers up to ADWD, although it's somewhat AU. Sansa/Petyr Baelish and all that entails, i.e. definitely dub-connish. I don't think any other warnings apply, (unless you're very much squicked by menstrual blood). Large liberties were taken with the timeline to make Sansa older. Counting how much time passes within the fic might induce migraines.

Dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] girlupnorth, written at her request and beta-read by her. Any inadequate turns of phrase left are my own fault.

Title: The Maid in the Castle
Author: [livejournal.com profile] novin_ha
Fandom: A Song of Ice and Fire
Part 1/2. Overall ~13k words long.
Warnings: Dub-con, mindfuck, corruption kink, the pairing. Sansa is relatively 'of age' but only due to manipulating the timeline.


Without further ado,



THE MAID IN THE CASTLE



Petyr tells her many things, for a man so careful of his words.

He says: If you want something, you should keep it hidden so that no one can use it against you. Better yet, want nothing.

He says: Make yourself invaluable, but don’t ask for gratefulness, for that breeds contempt.

He says: All men – and all women – have weaknesses which can be exploited.

He says: Watch me and learn.

She does.

*~*

When Lord Baelish is not in Eyrie (which is often), instead weaving his plots elsewhere, conspiring for ever more, more power, more resources, more allies and more dead enemies (though he prefers incapacitated, incapacitated enemy can yet be of use), Alayne finds herself fretful and sleepless, wandering the modest rooms of the keep in grim anticipation of bad news. She makes faces at herself in mirrors, mocking the ease with which emotion shows on her features, schooling them into expressions of what she does not feel. She knew way back how to smile falsely and to keep her mouth and brow still when laughter threatened to burst out; now she teaches herself how to show all other emotions and how to withhold them.

There is little for her to do in his absence but pass the time. She reads, no longer complaining of boring battles and lists, as any written word is better than being left alone with her thoughts. She weaves, though not much, for though the frost remains outside, it is not much warm inside, and her fingers soon grow stiff and clumsy. She plays with Robert, on the rare occasions when he feels strong enough to leave his bed.

She dreams tiring nightmares of flights and captures, and, rarely, no less tiring dreams of kisses and caresses. Her dream lovers have kind eyes and gentle lips, and sometimes, waking from their embraces, Sansa curiously touches herself, breasts and pussy, until she shudders under her covers. She feels shame after; the Septa told her it was children’s game, to please oneself thus, and Alayne nears her sixteenth – no, seventeenth – name day. Her moon days are regular now, like her mother once told her they would come to be, and she is to be wedded to Harry the Heir. Petyr is impatient to see her wedded, lest Robert die too soon, making Harry grow too prideful, desiring of someone’s true-born daughter.

Alayne would not be disappointed were he to do so. She danced with the Young Falcon and took walks with him like Lord Baelish told her to, and Harrold was pleasant enough, but she shivered to think of marrying him, or anyone else.

*~*

The nights grow longer and colder before Petyr returns from his last journey. Alayne sees him from afar and walks to the gate to greet him as he dismounts. The smile he gives her then is wide; his eyes smile together with his mouth, and she smiles as well, part pleasure and part apprehension. Out in the open air it is too cold to exchange kisses, but she reads the expectation in his lingering gaze. The thought of the kisses he made her give him before makes her stomach flutter.

“Did you miss me, Alayne?” he asks her as they walk up the stairs, a servant in tow, awaiting commands.

She gives the dutiful answer without hesitation. “So has Robert,” she lies. “He asks me about his Lord Protector.” Petyr does not flinch, but she feels, or possibly expects, his displeasure. He prefers not to be reminded of Robert when he need not think of his charge.

“Does he, now. I am certain you find ways to distract him.”

Alayne wonders if this is her dismissal, but when they reach a chamber of his he sends the servant off to fetch a plate of food and a cup of warmed wine, and tells her to stay. She guesses that her comment soured his mood when he makes no movement to touch her, instead sitting on a chair. A thought crosses her mind of the inappropriateness of her being alone with him in his rooms, but it’s a Sansa Stark thought, and she stifles it. He looks tired, without his usual energy.

“How is our Lord Robert?” he inquires after a moment, stapling his fingers. She know he must have been getting maester’s reports while away, but wants her opinion all the same.

“Not much change,” she tells him. “The cold seems to do him little harm, but he lacks appetite.”

“Then force-feed him. Bribe him, if need be. So long as he lives, you are a good enough match for the boy.”

She sighs. “I’m doing all I can to help him,” she insists. “Maester says he needs a change of climate.”

Petyr bristles. “So do we all, but roads are not safe, nor are any lands he might go to. I don’t have little boys ready to pretend to be him if he should get lost in a melee.” He does not add, “like your sister,” but Sansa hears it none the less. Alayne does not care one way or the other. It is more difficult to be Alayne around him than around any others. The looks he gives her are not for Alayne.

A silence falls then, making her uncomfortably aware of his gaze, and of her clothing. The simple dress does nothing for her colouring, just as it should, but the little vanity she has left makes her wish she could wear ought else.

“Do you want to see the gifts I brought you?” he asks at last.

There’s fabric enough for two dresses there, and a pair of earrings with green stones that she is sure she must not wear where anyone may see. These gifts could feel parental, but they don’t.

“Do you like them?”

She does. He makes her put on the earrings and stares at her for a while, his fingers brushing her hair away from her face, lingering on her cheek. She feels herself blush and turns her gaze away.

He lays out more offerings then: dye for her hair and a few books for her to pass the time. He waives her thanks, claiming that these are practically worthless now, but Alayne knows better than to believe that. The dye looks different from the previous kind, and she remarks on it; Petyr merely nods and this is her dismissal. Going, she takes one book with her. He does not tell her to kiss him, but she know that she is expected to do that before taking her leave of him. She kisses his cheek, rough with stubble, and Petyr claims Sansa’s mouth for just a brief second before letting her go.

*~*

When Petyr was gone, she could go on being Alayne for weeks. She missed Sansa’s name day without a thought and barely remembered about her siblings and parents. Being a bastard child was an armour better than anything Sansa Stark possessed, and she wove this identity around herself, closing herself inside it, hiding so completely that she could not tell at times where playacting ended and being began. That’s what he asked of her: to be Alayne, whom Sansa’s enemies would not seek out to harm. Alayne was not no one, but she mattered far less than Sansa Stark, even should she be heir to her father’s castles, even should she be betrothed to Harry the Heir.

But Alayne was other things as well: she could be bold, like bastards are bold. Alayne knew how to lie well, and when to tell a truth. Alayne didn’t dream of silly things, for she was born just before winter began. Alayne was strong. Sometimes she thought being Alayne forever would be for the best; she would forget Winterfell and King’s Landing, where Alayne had never set foot.

On Petyr’s orders, she readies Lord Robert to sup with them. The child has grown meeker these days, less inclined to petulant outbursts, scared himself of the fits they would bring about. The change does nothing to becalm Alayne, as the respite is temporary. Robert’s illness is clearly progressing, whether naturally or due to all the sweetmilk he’d drunk.

She walks the little lord down the stairs carefully, and the boy manages not to stumble. She tries to take heart in that, but he clings onto her too strongly, betraying his fear of the stepfather he despises. She tried to make the boy less anxious, but to little avail. A part of her, truthfully, enjoyed the dread he felt, for it reminded her of Joffrey’s face as he struggled for his last breaths. The spoilt child has all the potential to be a little monster; yet he is her cousin, and only a little boy. To think him doomed to early grave made her uneasy.

And should he fail to die in time, Petyr will kill him to secure my rights. That thought is worse for how torn it makes her feel. She never knew herself to have so much selfishness.

They make it to the hall, where the table is set for five: Lord Baelish has brought company, an old man and a younger woman. She looks at them appraisingly: the man seems to be an old soldier, or a hedge knight, while the woman can only be his daughter. They introduce themselves as ser Mander Karlyle, and his only daughter, lady Marya. The clothes on the man are tattered but clean, while the daughter is dressed richly, too richly almost, with a low-cut bodice accentuating her full bosom; her hair is dark brown and wavy, combed up. She is no beauty, but handsome enough to have a knight or two asking her for garters, in a time of peace. They make their greetings, bowing before Lord Robert, before the old man turns to Alayne to try and make conversation.

“Your father, Lord Baelish, has been kind enough to offer us a few days’ respite here in Lord Robert’s name,” the man says, by way of explanation. “It is our pleasure to meet our kind host’s daughter. He never mentioned how beautiful you were when warning us of your wit.”

The flattery is cheap, but Alayne has heard cheaper. She smiles and allows the lord to pour her water for her. She is seated between him and Petyr, with Robert given the honorary seat at the top of the table. “My Lord Father pays little heed to women’s beauty, not even his daughter’s, in the aftermath of the tragic death of my stepmother,” she says in a pleasant enough tone, so that the insult is not immediately apparent. Lady Marya hears it well enough, judging by her blush.

She need not look to Lord Baelish to know he caught her meaning. His hand brushes against her leg and her breath hitches, but she cannot tell if he is warning her or approving of her boldness.

The guests bring tidings, doubtless known to Petyr, but new to Alayne. They speak of Wildlings camping south of the Wall and of King Stannis’s garrisons sheltering them, as well as of dire battles fought with the northern enemy. The tales are grim and fantastical, but Lord Protector seems none too disturbed. Lord Robert listens with growing fascination, though, and when the maester comes to take him away, Robert first refuses to go, and when the Lord Protector scolds him, tries to demand to have Alayne accompany him.

“Surely our Lord is old enough to go without a minder,” Petyr says calmly. For a second Alayne is convinced that Robert will go into hysterics, but the moment passes, and Robert allows himself to be taken away. As soon as that happens, Petyr turns back to ser Karlyle.

“What do you think?” he asks. The man shakes his head.

“Not much. I will need to examine him in detail and in different times of day. If I may be permitted to do so tomorrow…” he trails off. His daughter nods.

“There’s little one can tell without hearing his heart and breath. I would have his nights’ waste brought to us as well.”

Alayne blinks and scowls. Petyr sighs.

“What do you say, my daughter ? Would our lord suffer to be examined?”

“I cannot be certain. Maybe if I was with him to calm him down,” she offers, dubiously.

She hopes that he would, for if he does not, Petyr would likely not restrain from having one or two men hold him down for the new maester – for ser Mander, who apparently knows some maesters’ wisdom – to conduct his tests. Which may well make the examination pointless, especially since she is not sure how many more fits Robert will survive.

Alayne only half-listens to the conversation afterwards, making gestures of agreement when appropriate. She has some spiced wine when Petyr offers, and the warmth of it spreads through her enjoyably. She is suddenly tired, though she could not say what of, the company, the apprehension, the effort of remembering herself. She would excuse herself, but Petyr’s foot touches hers, and his hand brushes against her thigh every now and then, and so he clearly would be none too pleased for her to run away discourteously. She feels excited against herself, curious to see what he’ll do. She only now notices that he shaved himself since she saw him this morning. It surprises her: the weather is hardly one for abhorring any additional protection from the cold, but she appreciates it all the same. Smooth cheeks feel better to kiss.

The maester (she sees now that he looks a maester, not a warrior after all – it was the young woman’s appearance that fooled her, for maesters are not supposed to take wives or raise children) finally has enough. He asks for Petyr’s leave, and follows the dismissal with a question if Alayne would not be too tired as well.

“Mind your own daughter, good ser, and I’ll mind mine,” Petyr replies, with a hint of reproach. Alayne tenses at the sharpness.

This brings an end to the evening. Ser Mander does take lady Marya with him when he leaves, though the look she throws Lord Baelish is nothing if not shameless. Alayne feels herself blush again, this time in anger.

*~*

Later that evening, before she goes to bed, he has her sit with him on a bed, her skirts gathered around her as he plays with a lock of her hair. She feels more relaxed than she should, alone with him and his intent staring. It may be the wine. He pulls at the hair, lightly, just to draw her attention.

“You did not dye them,” he admonishes her. “Our guests may have noticed the roots.” His fingers stroke the skin on her head, making her shiver. She should move, bat his hand away. She leans closer.

“The woman couldn’t notice if my hair was half-black, half-red, so intent was she on having your attention, my lord.”

“Indeed.” Petyr smiles at her, openly focusing on her bodice now.

“As was the knight. Does he presume to make you marry her, in your mourning period?”

Lord Baelish laughs, a melodious sound.

“She’s the only coin he owns, her and the healing skills he supposedly has. He would have me bed her, Alayne, to court my favour. He knows his place.”

“Will you?” she asks, surprising herself.

“Why of course not.”

She feels strangely pleased. The memory of her aunt’s cries of pleasure comes to her unbidden and she feels nausea, though this woman certainly wouldn’t be as shameless. Aunt Lysa was much disturbed by grief and drink. No lady acted like that, not even a poor one like Marya. Why, even serving girls, from what she’d observed, exercised more restraint and modesty.

“Was she not to your liking then?” she continues her questioning, curiosity getting the better of her. Petyr’s mouth twitches.

“There is pleasure to be had from lying with most any woman, Alayne. A pleasure much base and simple, and that is not to be scorned. I make good profit being a supplier of that pleasure. But I am not a man of simple pleasures.”

There is something threatening in the way he says it. Alayne shivers.

“And then there is the pleasure of taking what you want, of claiming all you deserve.”

She is suddenly reminded of the Fingers. A dreary place, drearier even then her North. She finds his hand and touches it, partly to reassure herself. He smiles.

“Of course a lady does not take, she receives and gives, my dear Alayne,” he finally says. It’s stumbling, words meant not for his daughter. But she is not Alayne anymore, since she can tell that he sees Sansa Stark again, despite the name he says.

“My lord,” she protests meekly, before opening her mouth to his. He is not impatient with her this time, allowing her time to readjust to the closeness. His one hand strokes her side, while the other is on her nape, pressing gently. She relaxes into the touch she is by now familiar with, whimpering low in her throat when his thumb grazes her earlobe.

“I’m told there’s pleasure also in being taken, my dear. Surrendering and opening.” His breath tickles her ear and she feels her chest heaving with shallow breaths, rising and falling in rapid succession. She arches a little, instinctively, moving her bosom closer to him, only to feel fear lest he should notice. She feels slick between her legs and tense inside, as though anticipating his hands to move elsewhere, or to direct her movements.

“Enough,” he says before another whimper rises inside her, retreating a step. “Don’t let me keep you up so late past your bedtime, Alayne. You have duties to attend tomorrow, don’t you.”

“I do, Lord Baelish.”

She lies in her chamber later that night, imagining how it would have felt to have him touch her so sensitive breasts, ashamed of the thoughts, still feeling her heartbeat all the way down inside her smallclothes.

*~*

The few times he’d made her so bothered, she felt too embarrassed the following morning, and he would seemingly foresee, allowing her some solitude, or else leaving the castle altogether for weeks at a time. She is all the more surprised to awaken early the next morning to the sound of pages rustling and the sight of Lord Baelish, sitting in a chair by her bed.

The images from her dreams assault her and she blushes furiously. He’d asked my permission to enter my snow castle, and now he no longer asks one into my bedchamber, she thinks.

“Would you break your fast with me, Alayne?” he asks, as though never seeing her discomfiture.

“It would be my pleasure,” she replies politely. “I should get dressed and washed first, however.”

“There’ll be time enough for that later,” he says, dismissively.

She breaks her fast on boiled eggs and oatmeal with raisins, which Petyr brought especially for her. The food tastes better than when Lord Baelish is not in residence – the cook grows less diligent then. Petyr has only a modest piece of bread and cheese, but he watches her eat with an unreadable face.

“The man you met yesterday has some success in aiding the sick by manners different from maesters’,” he tells her, as she scrapes the bowl with her spoon. “He has already told me that at present, further leeching would do our little lord more harm than good, and for once I’m inclined to agree. He will need to examine Robert further to arrange a… regimen for him.”

Alayne starts.

“Don’t worry, no more medicines. Ser Karlyle claims to have much success by arranging what food and spices a person should consume. He assures me that one man’s food can be another’s poison. He would have you recall if any food ever made Robert sick, and write down for him everything he eats.”

“Of course. What of the examination?”

“Whenever you see fit.”

“In a few hours, then. It would not do to agitate him before dinner.”

She half-expects him to leave then and allow her to finish her meal alone, but he merely returns to his papers, from time to time noting something down. When she is done, he looks up at her, the blankets arranged carefully around her. The room is not cold, but neither is it very warm.

“Forgive me my lord, but I must take your leave now,” she says, in a small voice. Petyr smiles. She wonders how much sleep he could have got, to be so alert already, washed and shaved and engrossed in work, already having spoken with ser Karlyle.

“Forgiveness granted,” he tells her, cheerfully. “I’ll wait for you to call me when you’re ready to have your hair dyed.”

She is proud of herself for not stopping in her tracks then, as the idea of him – of anyone – thus invading her privacy hits her square in the stomach. Slowly, she untangles the sheets and steps out of her bed, careful not to let too much of her leg show. He does not pretend not to be watching her: his eyes take her in head to toe, and she wishes the shift she wears was even thicker and larger, the better to hide the swell of her smallish budding breasts, so that it wouldn’t hug her hips quite so snugly. He makes her feel naked, and the memory of his kisses does little to assuage her embarrassment.

The very act of passing water with a person (with him) present right outside the door in her room suddenly appears too much for her. It is only after a few minutes, when she hears him close the door behind him, that she manages to do anything else but splash water on her cheeks.

Alayne washes swiftly in the cold water, soaping her armpits and private parts, then drying herself up with a scratchy linen cloth. She has goosebumps all over her skin and she shakes visibly when she puts the nightshirt on to go back to her room and get some clothing to change into, as well as to take the dye: she has no intention of receiving help with her hair, even if the dye is different from the ones she is used to. She would rather risk Petyr’s glare.

Her plan never comes to fruition though, because Petyr is still there, in her room. He has had someone bring over buckets of hot water, which accounts for the sound of the door.

He gets to his feet.

“I’ve laid out some clothes for you. For now it is probably best if you stay in your nightshift.”

Her goosebumps now have less to do with cold as he follows her into the small washroom, carrying the bucket. She is uncomfortably aware of her clothing once more, as she is of him having rummaged through her wardrobe and chosen everything down to the smallclothes for her to put on later.

“Thank you, my lord,” she says, her voice not quite as steady as she wishes it to be.

He uses a smaller bowl to wet her hair as she leans forward over a larger one. The water Petyr brought is pleasantly hot, and after a moment she stops shivering, allowing herself to enjoy the sensation, and at the same time, unable to distract herself from the situation.

He has her bending over, one hand on the small of her neck, the other massaging her scalp to make sure all of her hair is ready for the application of the colouring. The last time the dye almost burned her skin and she winces as he begins lathering, but this type is apparently better, since she feels nothing else but his touch. He manages to be gentle, stroking small circles into her skin. This should not, perhaps, be unexpected – he has used his charm and his body to maintain Aunt Lysa’s favour, he has kept the company of women selling their bodies. The thought is surprisingly attractive.

Lord Baelish had Dontos killed in front of her, he pushed her aunt to her death, he had Marillion tortured and killed, and she should be afraid of him, his ruthlessness and the interest he has in her.

All this he’s done to keep her safe – for himself.

Alayne finds his smell to be pleasant. She sighs as Petyr continues to stroke her hair well beyond there ceases to be any need for it. His leg presses against hers, and as she moves a little to catch her balance she suddenly brushes against a shape she is quick to recognize as his cock.

She manages to refrain from turning away reflexively; instead, it is him who draws in a sharp breath as his fingers clench in her hair, almost but not quite pulling. She wishes for a bold remark, but none comes to her while blood pools in her lower stomach, pushing down, as though her own lady parts were a flower blooming.

He brushes against her again, and this time it is, it must be, purposeful. She leans back experimentally, allowing him an easier angle. She lies to herself that she does it not to anger him, but it is first and foremost curiosity and the sudden power she feels in making his control slip, if only a little.

Petyr tugs at her hair a little more, forcing her to straighten up, pushing her against the brim of the bowl, his leg insinuating itself between her knees. She makes a noise of protest.

“Not that ready, are you,” he says, slowly letting go of her hair, and moving her around to face him. “That was a truly foolish bluff.” He is smiling at her, all politeness and charm, no trace of the glance she’s just had at the man who had pushed Lysa Tully out of the Moon Door.

She shudders and he embraces her.

“Now, there’s no need for any of that,” he says. “Don’t you know I have your best interests at heart, Alayne?”

She draws back and wills herself to look at him. “You have your own interests at heart, my lord.”

He is far from offended, naturally. “But you are my interests, aren’t you,” he replies by way of agreement. “Don’t offer what you are not ready to give. There will be time, yet.”

His last words sound decisive. Alayne nods slowly, gazing to her left, away from him.

“Doesn’t our agreement warrant a kiss?”

He starts by kissing her closed lips, quite tenderly, and she relaxes, he’s shown her that there’s no danger in this. Her eyes flutter open when his tongue begs entry into her mouth, but he is not pushing deep, only encouraging her to touch hers against his. He never mentioned anything about the pleasure of being invited to take, of convincing someone to open up, but she can guess the rest herself.

*~*

Ser Karlyle’s examination of Lord Robert takes place in the afternoon, after the boy’s had his nap. Alayne’s hair is dull brown again, but luckily, the man is too preoccupied with Robert to notice Alayne much at all.

That said, his handling of Sweetrobin is nothing short of extraordinary. His voice is soothing as he tells Robert a story of his own boyhood, most likely imagined, and for once there is no protesting or fighting. He is well skilled in evoking trust, Alayne thinks, and mistrusts him on principle.

“This was a sight to behold,” she tells the man when he is finished and they exit the chamber, leaving the boy in a servant’s company. “It’s all too easy to overexcite him, and easier still to anger.”

“I’ve dealt with worse,” the man replies politely, stopping before a doorway.

“Will you be able to make a pronouncement now?” she inquires, curiously. He shakes his head.

“Give some advice that should help to make boy more comfortable and healthier, yes, but there’s no obvious cause for the fits.”

“What could cause fits, then?”

He gives her a look not at all unkind. “Come sit with me in the dining chamber. This is a longer tale, and I’ve not had my dinner yet.”

They sup on vegetable broth and ser Karlyle tells her what he has learned of diseases of the brain. “Sometimes there’s a bump on the head,” he says, “that shows a former injury; or the heart betrays a malfunction in the blood, which in time kills the patient. There can be swelling under the bone or a tumour anywhere in the body. A good way to check is to touch the points here, and there” he says, pointing to her armpits and under the jaw. “When these are swollen, it means some liquid is gathering in the body, causing disease.”

Alayne nods. “This is what the leeches help for.”

He shakes his head with such vehemence she almost expects him to spit at the floor contemptuously, as Northmen did. “Blood is only one of the liquids. If it is not blood that overflows, spilling it only worsens the patient’s state.”

He tells her this and much more before the afternoon passes and Alayne returns to her own tasks.
*~*

Lord Baelish calls on her two days later, inviting himself into her chamber late in the evening. She is abed already, reading one of the books he’d brought her before sleep, and the sight of him makes her blush, for the books is not of the entirely innocent kind, with suggestive illuminations and tales of unseemly behaviour tucked in between altogether wholesome ones. She puts it away nervously, hoping he’d not had a chance to look inside it.

“I’m riding away again tomorrow,” he informs her from the doorway. “At first light,” he adds, as aforethought.

“So soon?” she replies, for the most part genuinely discontented to hear of him leaving.

“There’s no time to waste. History’s wheel is turning as we speak, and as any wheel, needs greasing.”

She nods, disheartened. “Be sure to return to us safely, my lord,” she says, politely.

“Is that all the farewell I’m to receive?”

She hesitates. “I’ll miss you, Lord Baelish.”

He sits on her chair, opposite the bed, and leans close enough to breathe into her ear.

“Will Alayne miss me… or will Sansa?”

This sends a shock through her body, the forbidden name passing his lips. In a way it feels naughtier than the book she’s been reading, a secret they are in on together.

“You know, my lord,” she says, meekly.

It crosses her mind now that he might have been waiting for her to seek him out, which she didn’t, too preoccupied with Robert’s new diet, too embarrassed by the way she’d behaved when he dyed her hair.

“Where will you be going?” she asks, to keep the conversation more than from any hope that he may share his plans with her. He tells her more than she needs to know as it is.

“Far, and for long.”

She flinches.

“If anything ill should befall me – and never fear, I’m much counting that it shan’t – there’s plans made for your safety. My people will know what to do.”

Sansa shakes her head. There never was a doubt in her mind that he would have plans for beyond his death. “I will await your return, my lord.”

“Is there aught you would have me bring you when I return?” he asks, smiling again. A fatherly question. A return to the role.

“A postponement of my nuptials to Harry,” she says quietly, almost saying ‘Joffrey’ by mistake.

Lord Baelish seems not well pleased with her. “Your marriage will take place when it must. Not any sooner, but no later.”

She nods. He reaches out for her book and snatches it from the bed.

“How is your reading going? Learned anything yet?” The tone tells her that he knows of the drawings, or even gave it to her for their very reason. She sees him secretly pleased with the thought of her embarrassment and excitement. Openly pleased with her knowing he knows.

“Should I not kiss you farewell, my lord?” she replies, changing the subject instead.

And it is Sansa kissing him then, noticing the mint on his breath, paying for her safety. He lets the book alone and moves to sit next to her on the bed, smiling against her mouth, cradling her cheek with one hand, stroking the sensitive skin where the jaw begins.

“My clever girl,” he says proudly. “Is there aught else that you would have me bring you, then?”

Alayne shakes her head and he makes to touch her again, trailing small kisses down her throat, tracing her side with his palm. She cannot stop a small sound rising in her throat or the heartbeat pounding in her chest. Thoughts swarm her head, conflicting ideas, the sensations, the inappropriateness, the shame of his earlier chastisement. I should not lead him on, she thinks.

She takes his hand and pushes it down to the swell of her breast, covered by the thick nightshift. He cups it softly, never breaking his kissing of her neck, drawing a circle around her nipple, then stroking just the tip with delicate fingers.

She makes a sound again, now breathing shallowly, excited by her own daring almost as much as by the tingling sensations travelling down her spine to her centre.

“I’ll think of you touching yourself with this sigh on your lips. Such a clever, thoughtful girl you are, to offer me this gift.”

His voice in her ear makes her breath hitch again, and he kisses the lobe before withdrawing.

She sleeps but little that night, only managing to nap when the eastern sky brightens with the promise of dawn.

*~*

Continued here.

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