Author's Notes: Welcome back to the next chapter! Thank you all so much for continuing to read and support this work! You're awesome!

Podcast update: I mentioned last chapter that there would be a podcast. Unfortunately, the host has had to delay the podcast for a few weeks for personal reasons, but rest assured that there will still be one! I'll post to the socials below as soon as I know the release date! In the meantime, feel free to submit more questions to any of the social media below!

Smut Warning: Oh yes, we have finally reached the sexual content. I do hope you enjoy! It is NOT explicit. I kept it light on the detail. If you still wish to skip, there is a halfway point where the story picks up. Jon/Daenerys fans, there will also be smut between those two characters. I fully intend to treat the two ships as equally as possible.

Forever and always, I would like to thank my beta catzrko0l for being so tremendous and wonderful. They've been beta-ing TDR for two years now! Pretty wild to think about!

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Chapter 99

Brienne IX

They walked across the grounds where the last of the sunlight fell onto the upper floors of the Red Keep and its surrounding towers. Two Lannister soldiers standing at the door to the Tower of the Hand nodded as they passed. They walked up the stairs in silence, but Brienne could not hear her footsteps over her heartbeat in her ears. Now was the consummation. She was a lady in title, but after this night she would be a woman. She would bear children.

She never really saw herself as a mother, but she was raised with the certainty that this was her path in life. Whether it was the horrible Septa Roelle, Maester Quinn, or her father, she had always been expected to marry and have children. Tarth will have an heir, she thought and her heart was gladdened. If Jaime hadn't tricked her—which she was certain he had not—then she could be both a mother and a fighter. She could fulfill both of her goals in life and that gave her peace.

Once through the doors to the Hand's quarters, Jaime closed and locked them. Brienne watched him head over to the pitcher behind his desk and pour out a couple of goblets of wine. He brought one of them to her.

"You hardly drank at dinner," Jaime said with a wry smile. "Take a sip. It will put you at ease."

"It's unladylike to get drunk," Brienne replied.

"It's unladylike to be a warrior, but you didn't let that stop you," Jaime said, his eyes glittering with mischief.

She turned away from him only for her eyes to fall on the bed. She took a swig as her mouth went dry.

He noticed her gaze and became serious. "We don't have to do anything tonight. I will not make you consummate the marriage before you're ready."

"Would I ever be ready?" Brienne asked.

"That's why I think it's best to get it over with. Like ripping off a bandage."

"My septa … she told me that … the joining is painful, but that I should consider it my duty to bear that pain with a smile. I am used to cuts and bruises. I've even broken my nose, but all of those pains are fleeting. I would never … never subject myself to the pain if the benefits weren't so sweet."

Jaime scoffed. "I'm sure your septa also said that the lady should focus on her children and that was her pathway to happiness, am I right? Your septa is full of shit." Brienne snorted and Jaime's eyes twinkled. "From what I've heard, some women experience pain during the first time. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are few activities more pleasurable than lovemaking."

She raised her eyebrows at him. "Really?'

His smile grew. "I feel most alive when I'm fucking or fighting."

Brienne wrinkled her nose at his crudeness.

He chuckled. "You'll have to get used to it. I'm not required to be on my best behavior in the bedroom."

She felt a blush spread across her face yet again and to distract herself, she began working to get out of her dress.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm undressing. Like a bandage, you said. Best to get it done."

Jaime gave her an exasperated look and a sound came out that was a mixture of a chuckle and a sigh. "It doesn't have to be that quick. Allow me."

She frowned at him. "I'm not a child; you don't have to undress me." She glared at him as he desperately tried to stifle his laugh.

Instead, he approached and put his hands on hers. "This is part of the pleasure, Brienne. It's called foreplay. Let me undress you and I'll show you what I mean."

She furrowed her brow in suspicion, concerned she would be laughed at again, but then relaxed her hands and stood awkwardly. He went around behind her and began undoing the laces. At first, that's all he was doing, making Brienne feel foolish, but as soon as he had the back of her dress open, he ghosted his fingers along her spine. Where his fingers touched, a tingle on her skin followed. He freed her neck and a shoulder and started planting feather-light kisses. Brienne closed her eyes, surprised that her heart was thudding at such delicate contact when there was otherwise nothing delicate about her.

He suddenly nipped her at the base of her neck and she started. "What was that?" She asked.

"Did you not find that pleasurable?" he asked in a deep and mellow voice.

Brienne blinked. Once she'd gotten over the surprise an enjoyable flush had warmed her body. "Yuh-yes?"

She thought she could feel his smile against her skin. "Let me know if anything really hurts. But I think a woman such as yourself wouldn't mind a little pain."

"N-no, I suppose not," she stuttered.

He continued with the kisses and the bites, focusing specifically on the pulse point of her neck. She blinked when she felt his warmth leave her. She felt fear surge through her when he returned to her front and began pulling away the rest of the fabric until her breasts were free. She immediately crossed her arms over them and turned away from him.

"You don't need to hide them from me."

"They're too small."

"I'll be the judge of that," Jaime said. She could see a playfulness in his eyes, but she couldn't decide if he was being supportive or mocking.

Does it matter? He is your husband. Your body is his to do with as he pleases. Slowly, hesitantly, she lowered her arms and allowed them to fall to her side. But she still refused to look him in the eye.

He cupped a breast and seemed to weigh it thoughtfully. "I can see nothing wrong here."

Brienne furrowed her brow at him.

"I'm not mocking you, my lady. Your body may not have the gentle curves of other women, but that is precisely what I like about it. You're a fighter. You're powerful. Perhaps when you feel more at ease you'll bring some of that fight to the bedchamber." He winked at her.

She had already blushed so much that day and yet she felt the familiar surge of warmth flood her face. She peered up into his eyes cautiously and saw sincerity.

He smiled and captured her lips for a kiss. All of the ones they had traded previously had been brief and full of yearning, but he deepened this kiss immediately. Her back bowed with the strain, but then she firmed up and pushed back into him, eager to meet force with force. He smiled against her lips and nipped her.

"That's more like it," he said with a growl. He then took her hand and pulled her to the bed. "Sit and I will give you the proper attention."

Brienne felt like all she had done since entering the room was be confused, yet she did so obediently. He started by leaning in for yet another kiss on the lips, but he moved on quickly to kiss his way down her neck. Much to her surprise, he began suckling on a nipple. She gasped at the pleasurable sensations that began flowing from her breast. A pool of warmth began to settle low in her belly and she curled her toes at the sensation.

Jaime pulled away and started lowering her dress further, but she put a hand on his shoulder and forced him away.

"Want me to stop?"

"Shouldn't you be undressed as well?"

He smirked and raised an eyebrow at her. "You want to undress me?"

"Yes," she said, hoping he hadn't heard the way her voice caught.

He stood up and back. She approached, but her confidence wavered as he continued to smirk at her. Even though he had treated her gently thus far, it smarted that she was so far out of her depth compared to him. It made her wonder how many women he had slept with before her. He was Kingsguard too. Did he break his vows of celibacy or was that before entering the order?

She fumbled with his doublet and after some frustration pulled it over his head. It was not often she saw him in his armor since she preferred leather jerkins and trousers, but it still never failed to amaze her that he was the best sword in the realm. Most of the knights she encountered, save perhaps for Ser Loras, tended to be bulky, either in muscle or fat. Jaime was lean. He had muscle, but he relied on his speed and agility to best his opponents rather than power. She was quite broad and large herself, so learning to have his quickness was a challenge that she delighted in.

Brienne reached out tentatively to touch his skin. His chest was full of curls that appeared both golden blond and silver in the candlelight. She ran her hand through them and even touched a nipple in curiosity, but the thought of doing to him what he had done to her made her wrinkle her nose.

He seemed to notice her expression and chuckled. "My skin isn't as soft as yours. Yours is far more enticing."

"I'm not soft!"

His eyes twinkled in the light. "You've done your damndest to not be soft. But there's only so much you can do against a woman's inherent softness," he said. He abruptly wrapped his arms beneath her ass, carrying her back to the bed, before throwing her on it.

"Hey!"

"You're too enticing, my lady. I've been waiting so long for this moment. I don't want to wait anymore," he replied. He had fallen onto the bed with her so that they were chest to chest and he stole yet more kisses from her. Just as quickly, he pulled away and began working off the rest of the dress and the trousers that went with her outfit until all that was left were the boots. Before Brienne even had a chance to be shy, she heard Jaime growl impatiently as he worked on the unlacing.

"I should never have gifted you such. Far too time-consuming to remove," he grumbled.

She laughed. "They are good boots. I look forward to breaking them in proper."

"There will be plenty enough time for that, but right now—." He got the boot halfway undone and threw it behind him, turning his attention to the other one.

Brienne pulled herself up to help, but he lightly slapped her fingers and continued working. Once he tossed the other boot off, he sat back and openly looked her up and down. She grew self-conscious again and tried to cross her arms over her body.

"Please don't," he whispered. "You are beautiful."

"A man I was betrothed to told me straight that I was too ugly for him," Brienne replied, her voice small.

Jaime sneered. "That's not a man and his opinion isn't worth the shit scraped off my boot."

She smiled.

"I hope by the end of the night you will have a better understanding of your worth," he said. He once more slid down and pried her legs open. "Just lie back and relax."

Brienne did so wondering what precisely he intended to do. She flinched as he nipped at the inside of her thigh and gasped in surprise when she felt him inside her. The pleasure that began to build took her by surprise and she squirmed under his ministrations, but she was confused. She had seen a number of men's cocks before the king had taken the Keep, usually pissing in places they shouldn't. She was certain that those were used. Had she misunderstood the whole time?

Then she felt the fingers being replaced by Jaime's tongue and her thoughts lost any coherency. She barely noticed the sounds coming from her as she moved with the pleasurable waves that were sweeping over her. Her back arched and her eyes rolled back. She's not sure how long it lasted but at some point, it felt like the waves crested and she could feel herself falling back down and relaxing onto the bed.

"Wha-was that it?" She asked between gasps of air, struggling to look at him.

Jaime had pulled away and discarded his own trousers. "Not yet. This next part … this is the last."

"Shoo-should I be doing something?" she said.

"You don't have to do anything," Jaime replied, his voice low and husky. "I'll gladly do all of the work." When he kissed her again, it was hungry as he delved deeply into her mouth.

She tried to return the kiss, but her muscles trembled with exhaustion like she had just spent the entirety of the day fighting bouts in her armor. She felt something hard poking her by her thigh. Jaime sat back, opening her legs wide.

"Are you ready?" he asked with burning eyes.

"Yes, do it."

He smirked at her. "As my lady commands." There was a moment where he seemed to position himself. He pushed forward and laid across her, tense as a bowstring.

Brienne grimaced and shifted beneath him. She'd felt a sharp pain like the slice of a knife, but it gave way almost instantly to an uncomfortable intrusion. Jaime held still while she made adjustments until she was able to relax. She noticed that Jaime had yet to relax and that he was grimacing as well.

"Is something wrong?"

"Fuck you're tight."

"Is that … good?"

Jaime seemed unable to do anything but nod. He began to move inside her. The strokes were slow and deep and Brienne felt more pleasurable bliss. She was not sure how long it lasted, but a warmth flooded inside of her and Jaime collapsed on top of her gasping for air.

She wrapped her arms around him and held him close, not daring to open her eyes. "That was nothing like what I had imagined," she murmured.

"Far better, I imagine, than your wildest dreams," Jaime said with a laugh. "Septas are sworn to celibacy. They wouldn't know shit about fucking."

Brienne wanted to say more, but she felt exhausted and mellow after the day. She could have lain there until she fell asleep, but Jaime rolled off of her and insisted on cleaning up and settling in. It surprised her yet again to feel the warmth of his bulk next to her. As she sank into sleep, she was unendingly grateful she would never have to concern herself with a wedding day ever again.

|-The Dragon's Roar-|

Her senses were slow to return. She pinched her eyelids against the morning light shining in, still heavy with exhaustion. Not even an entire day spent training had left her feeling so drained. She cracked her eyelids, flinched, and closed them again, turning her face further into the pillow.

Suddenly, she felt someone shift next to her. Her eyes flew open, all vestiges of exhaustion now gone with a surge of sudden energy, but she remained still, frozen. The events of the day before rushed through her mind and she had to bite her lip to stifle a groan and she glanced around the room to find it most definitely was not her former quarters in the Maiden Vault.

No longer am I a maiden, she thought and her face flushed with the memory of their coupling. She thought there was nothing better than a good tussle in the training yard, so she was shocked by the pleasure she had felt. A sudden overwhelming hatred and anger welled up inside her, and she clenched her fists. Septa Roelle had lied to her. About everything! It galled her that she had ever taken that witch at her word.

Brienne heard Jaime sigh again and sit up. She quickly bottled her anger and relaxed, her eyes closed. She nearly started when she felt his knuckles brush against her jawline softly. Then his weight was removed from the bed and he began readying himself for the day. She thought the tips of her ears might've warmed at the sound of him pissing in the chamber pot, appalled by his lack of decorum and yet remembering with a jolt of pleasure the way his cock had filled her.

He was pulling on his jerkin when he said, "I know you're awake."

She frowned at him, her brow furrowing at his cocky smirk.

His smirk receded and she could see sincerity in his eyes. "How are you feeling?"

"Good." The word came out like a croak and she cleared her throat, a blush rising to her face once more. Upon turning over she felt an ache between her legs. "A little sore."

He walked closer and pulled back the sheets. She continued to clutch them to her and repositioned her body so that she was still hidden.

His smirk returned. "I've already seen you." But then his eyes roved the sheets and she saw him pick at one to show a smear of red.

"Oh good. I was wondering if you would bleed. Now we don't have to bother with any falsehoods."

Brienne's eyes remain fixed on the stain. "Falsehoods?" she asked.

A look of irritation crossed his face and he said, "The servant girls are apt to spread the word were you not to bleed. I would not have your reputation maligned for a misconception; not every woman bleeds."

She felt her heart leap in her chest. "How could they possibly think me anything other than a maiden? Before now, I mean."

"Doesn't matter how, just that they will. I would not have us start off on the wrong foot," Jaime said. He suddenly grew concerned and she saw him shifting his feet uneasily. "Last night … it was enjoyable?"

Brienne blinked at him. "Yuh-yes, I've never felt anything like it. I was told all these years that it was always supposed to be painful." Her anger welled up inside her, but she worked to tamper it.

"I told you the septas were full of shit. I imagine some of them could use a good fucking." Brienne snorted with laughter and tried to hide her reaction. "But you were … satisfied?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

Jaime grimaced, but then shook his head. "It wasn't my finest moment. Next time will be better."

"Better?" Brienne gaped at him. It had already surpassed her pitiful expectations; she wasn't sure she could fathom anything better.

He got a hungry look in his eyes and she noticed him roving over the form of her body. She suddenly became bashful.

But he shook himself and said, "It will have to be later. A Hand's work is never done. You might consider taking it easy. I'll see you for lunch."

She nodded and he leaned over to plant a soft kiss on her lips before striding out the door.

Take it easy? She screwed up her face into a look of distaste and finally threw the covers back to get out of bed. Her legs wobbled at first, but once she began walking, she felt more confident. There was a persistent, dull ache between her legs, but she was not injured and it did not affect her stride. Training in the courtyard below sounded like a good start to the day for her.

Brienne opened her trunk and found her trousers and doublets, just as she expected. She had just finished pulling on her trousers when there was a knock at the door. She furrowed her brow and moved to open it, revealing Lady Delphine looking matronly in a simple gown of dark blue and white and holding a tray of food.

"My lady," Delphine said, dipping for a small curtsy. "Lord Lannister mentioned that you had not yet broken your fast. Care for some food?"

"You didn't have to do that," Brienne said.

"Of course not, but I thought you might be hungry after such a busy day yesterday."

Brienne pulled the door open wider and allowed Delphine to bustle in, quickly making room on a small table. At the smell of sausage, Bienne was made aware of her ravenous hunger, and she began reaching for a little bit of everything. Delphine courteously began buttering the fresh bread.

"If you don't mind my asking, my lady, what were your plans?"

Brienne blinked at her. "You don't have to call me that. It's just Brienne."

"Very well."

"I was going to the training yard. Jaime mentioned taking lunch," Brienne replied with a shrug.

"Training?" Delphine said. Her mouth twisted up into a smirk and her eyebrows were raised in surprise. "That seems awfully ambitious after the night you just had. Assuming it went as planned."

Brienne felt her ear tips warm and she pointedly focused on her food.

Delphine chuckled, but her smile diminished. "I spoke with your father when he arrived. Such a lovely man. I was saddened to hear that your mother died some time ago."

"Yes, but it's been long enough."

"Even so, you were young, yes?"

"Yes," Brienne said.

"It is not my intention to dredge up painful memories, but I am under the distinct impression that your mother was not able to impart much knowledge about womanhood."

Brienne surprised herself by chuckling, before clearing her throat. "Nuh-no, she didn't."

"There are some things that no woman should go into marriage without knowing." At this, Delphine touched a beautifully painted box on the tray.

"What is it?"

"Moon tea."

Brienne drew back.

"You know of it?"

"I've heard…." The words stuck in Brienne's mouth.

"There is no shame in controlling your pregnancies. The twins were hard on my body and I refuse to bear any more children because of it. You should be able to make a choice like that."

"Does Jaime know?"

Delphine stayed quiet but cocked her head with a knowing look.

"I, uh, I don't know if I should … without his knowledge." Brienne's hand trembled as she grabbed the box and opened it, seeing a mixture of leaves and soft white petals.

"This is the affair of women, not men. It is your decision. But you are leaving for the North soon. Are you sure you want to be pregnant on that journey?"

Brienne stiffened, hastily returning the lid. "What must I do?"

"A single spoonful will be enough. Leave it to brew for at least five minutes. You need not drink it every day. Once a week should be enough," Delphine said.

"Thank you … for your kindness."

"Of course, my dear," Delphine said. Her stiff exterior melted once more into an easy smile. "Should you ever need more, an herbalist will know of what you speak."

Despite the confidence and reassurance, Brienne fretted all the way to the training yard about whether she should tell Jaime. The ghastly voice of Septa Roelle continued to haunt her conscience about how children were a blessing and it was the Seven's will about when she would be pregnant. But after the night before, she firmly quenched the septa's words. She clearly was not to be trusted on anything and she refused to allow that witch to rule her life any further.

Her mind was made up by the time she stepped into the ring.