14.11.12

The Mountain Part 20 - Disquiet

They returned to the Hall of the Hundred Hearths, Gregor walking beside her, arm around her possessively, resting his big hand at the curve of her hip. He would protect her. She was still shaking, and what she would have liked, was to lean into him, to let him bear all of the weight of Arys Dayne's execution, yet she walked beside him, head held high, refusing to show her new husband how weak she really was. She must be weak, she knew. A brave girl would not have been sorry to see the Dornishman meet his demise, she thought, but Melicent felt sick, chilled... the image of Arys on the saltire, his entrails spilling from his gut, the sound of that sickening blow... his screams... repeated over and over in her mind.

It wasn't that she wanted him to live, not really. But watching... seeing... she'd never wanted that. Was there more to it than that? She didn't rightly know. Arys's death, the violence of it, scared her. Her Lord Husband's pleasure at the completion of the execution, that frightened her. Yet, there was something perhaps worse, that she could not yet grasp. Something that caused her mind to whirl, thoughts swirling light and fast, making her think of the way the snow used to swirl around the towers at Karhold during a blizzard. There was something she felt, a sense of pride, of arousal perhaps, as she watched her man disembowel the one who had hurt her. That it could disgust her, terrify her, yet cause a stirring in her loins, mystified and frightened her. She pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind; she could not allow herself to puzzle over it now, she must focus on the present moment, she was a Lady and she must perform her duties.

They entered the castle, the thick oaken doors had been thrown open to admit the throng of guests, as most had remained after the wedding to witness the execution. Even though fires had been lit in all of the countless hearths, Melicent still felt chilled and she wondered if Harrenhal would ever feel warm to her. It seemed as though even with nearly three dozen fires blazing, the heat never quite reached the corners of the Hall of the Hundred Hearths. She thought again of Harren the Black, the tales of blood mixed into the mortar during castle's construction, and she shivered. I will learn to be at peace here. This is my home. Now, until the day that I die. She felt Gregor's hand tighten at her waist and he looked down at her, brow furrowed. "Alright, girl?" He asked, and she looked up at him, nodding.

"Yes, my Lord, just a bit chilled, it's grown quite cool out in the yard, this afternoon. I'll warm quick enough, now with all the fires lit." She smiled and he returned the expression, as well as he was able. It seemed, she thought, as though he was not used to the action. His face had not smiled often, perhaps. The thought struck her as incredibly sad, and she hoped that perhaps he would continue to find reasons to smile. She would help him, if she could. 

Gregor guided her up onto the dais, then turned to her. "I'll warm you in other ways, before too long, Little Doe." He growled. Placing his hands on her shoulders, he ran them down her arms, rubbing roughly, as though to warm her, causing her to stumble a step, then righting her. The gesture was endearing and she felt her heart warm to him. And something more, that feeling in her tummy, warmth spreading between her thighs, her mind flashed back to the sight of him standing before Arys Dayne, a scowl on his lips, sword dripping, muscles bulging... A different kind of shiver ran through her and she wanted to wrap herself around him here and now. As she looked up at him, she could see his face change, his eyes grew darker and his smile faded as he looked down at her. She would have given anything to be able to read his thoughts in that moment. Could he have read hers, he would find that she wondered, when this feeling flooded her, if it were possible that she loved him. Could he could ever love her... could he ever love at all?

Presently, Lord Tomard spoke to Gregor and he turned to answer. She settled into her chair and sighed. Would she ever understand, she wondered? Surrounded by a throng of people, she felt so alone. There was no one she could turn to for advice, as she had no friends among the Ladies of the Riverlands. Nella would not understand, and would only scoff and scold. The younger girls were too inexperienced to help her. Her mother was fragile and far too delicate to bother with such questions. Septa Rohanne was kind, however, Melicent expected that as a Septa, she knew even less of love and of men than she, herself did.

How she longed for a close friend to confide in. Nella had been her only friend, as isolated as they were at Karhold, and although Nella loved her, she could feel their relationship changing. They were growing apart. She knew that one day, Nella would be given to a husband and sent away from her. No matter how her sister would protest, nothing would change her fate. This is what daughters must do, and someday, Melicent knew, she would lose her sister. Perhaps it was for the best that they begin to pull apart now, as it might make their eventual separation less difficult to bear.

She could feel a presence behind her and turned to see Ser Reglas had taken position at her back, while Ser Cregan stood behind Lord Gregor. Melicent smiled at them and Ser Cregan winked at her. Ser Reglas gave her a small smile, then lifted his eyes to survey the crowd, once more. As her Mother was not in attendance, Nella took the seat to Melicent's left. Nella leaned in closer and said in a low voice. "I think you were very brave..." She appeared to want to say something more, but just then, servants appeared carrying large tureens filled with a sweet creamed soup of pumpkin and onions. Others hurried to serve salads of peaches, soft lettuces and blue veined cheese. Both sisters accepted small portions of each, and then Melicent turned back to her sister.

Gregor remained occupied by their father, so the girls spoke together in low voices. "Are you alright? I mean after... you must tell me... did he hurt you?" Nella asked her, pushing away the salad and reaching for her goblet of Arbor Gold. Her expression was gravely serious and her sharp eyes caught Melicent's and would not allow her to look away.

"I'm well, you mustn't worry." She smiled to show her sister she was not in any great pain. "I promise you Nella, he never struck me or did anything to purposely hurt me." Pausing to remember, she could feel her cheeks grow warm. "It did hurt, you know... the act. It hurt terribly, at first!" She dropped her voice to a whisper... "The size of him, Nella, by the Gods!" She covered her mouth to hold in a giggle. "I never thought... I've never seen anything to compare... he is aptly named Mountain!"

Nella gasped, but to Melicent's surprise, her sister laughed! "Shhh... someone will hear you! By the Old Gods and the New, Melicent! How did it ever, you know... fit?" She covered her mouth now, so as not to laugh out loud, and for a moment, Melicent felt she had come back to being the Nella she'd been at Karhold. She looked so pretty, in a gown of dove grey, trimmed with the argent and black of Karstark House. Her skin, not quite as fair as Melicent's, glowed softly in the firelight; her dark eyes were bright, and her nearly black hair was thick and shining.

"It did, but only barely! It hurt like nothing I've ever known, truly it  did! It wasn't all bad, though." She could feel herself blushing furiously now. "Some of it was... oh Nella, some of it was wonderful! I..." she clamped her mouth shut as they were presented with a savory of roasted marrow bones, split and served with barley bread and herbed mushrooms poached in butter.

Waiting for the servant to step away, Nella looked at her, her dark eyes wide. "But it can't be wonderful, it's so... Ugh, it's awful to think of it!" she giggled again. "What was wonderful? No, wait! Don't tell me, I'm not sure I truly want to know!"

"The ending... it was like nothing I could have ever imagined! And his mouth, Nella, and the things he did! He touched me in places... oh you would never believe it!" she squeezed Nella's hand. "And I did things... You would never believe me if I told you!"

Nella gasped and giggled, then took another sip of wine. "Well I am quite sure I've no desire to know where you've put your mouth, Melicent! Seven Hells!"

"What is it that makes you whisper and blush, wife?" Her Lord husband spoke to her right and she jumped. When she looked at him, he seemed amused.

"Oh! I... I was speaking to my sister of..." She suddenly looked up to meet his eyes. "I was speaking of our wedding night, my Lord, and of how happy I am to be your Lady wife."

"Hmph..." He looked confused, but nodded. "This pleases me, wife. You've pleased me, greatly... and not only in the bedchamber. You've done well today, girl." He nodded again. "Very well, indeed. And you girl," He went on, indicating Nella, "You can see my wife still remains in one piece. I have not killed her, yet." He chuckled. "And you, you've been quiet this afternoon. Have you learned to hold your tongue, as well?"

Melicent cringed, inwardly. Just as Nella seemed to be acting a bit more herself, her husband would try to tease her. She knew Gregor's words would provoke her sister, and Nella was never good at holding her tongue. Nella looked at Gregor and the expression on her face was dark. Her sister pushed back her chair and stood, as if to leave the table.

"Sit down, girl." Gregor rumbled, chuckling. He seemed amused, he was in good spirits tonight.

"Nella, please..." Melicent whispered urgently, Nella in a state like this was never good. "Please sit down again, Nella darling. There are to be lemon tarts for dessert..." Gregor would do better to leave her be, she would be more compliant if he did not push her, however Melicent didn't dare to question her new husband. She felt the situation slipping further from her control as her sister turned to look at her, disgusted.

"Excuse me, my Lady," Nella said, coldly. "I suddenly feel unwell." She pushed her chair away from the table.

Gregor turned in his chair, facing Nella, frowning now, his brow furrowed. "Sit. Down." He growled,  indicating her chair with a tilt of his head. He had raised his voice only a little, however the Hall suddenly quieted at the sound of his words. At that moment, Melicent felt true fear. Her father must have been alarmed as well, as he stood and sternly ordered Nella to return to her seat. Nella looked from her father to Lord Gregor, eyes widening in disbelief, but she did not sit. Melicent gave Nella's wrist a gentle tug, desperate... silently urging her to comply with her Lord's wishes.

The Mountain rose slowly to his feet, stepping behind Melicent, and picked up Nella's chair in one hand, taking her sister by the arm with his other hand. "You refuse to sit at my table, girl?" He roared, thrusting Nella at Ser Reglas who stood behind them. Nella stumbled and Reglas caught her, keeping her on her feet. "As you wish, my Lady." He dashed the chair against the stone wall behind him, tossing the broken fragments into the nearest hearth. "Then you will no longer have a seat here. Does that please you?" He towered over Nella who, despite all her brave words, stepped back, visibly frightened. "Stupid girl." Shaking his head and stepping back, he addressed Reglas. "Take her to her chambers and lock the door. If the girl prefers her own company to that of myself and my Lady wife, so be it."

Melicent watched in silence as Ser Reglas escorted Nella from the hall, noting that her sister appeared pale and shaken. She was well aware there was nothing she could do or say to her husband that would change his mind in this moment. Even Lord Tomard wordlessly took his seat as Gregor settled back into his huge chair. "What are you all so interested in?" Lord Gregor shouted out to the crowded Hall, all his guests had gone quiet. "You're here to eat my food, so fucking eat." He picked up his tankard of ale and drained it, slamming it down on the table and motioning for a serving wench to refill it, again.

The noise level in the Hall increased gradually, until it was once again at a dull roar. The fish course was delivered and Gregor ate, but Melicent had to force herself to pick at the baked trout with spiced wine, currant and orange sauce. She had very little appetite left, but she knew she must appear to enjoy the feast. She tried once again, to squelch the thoughts that were whirling in her mind, but it was difficult. Now she had to worry about Nella, in addition to all the things that had been occupying her mind. She saw that Gregor was pinching the bridge of his nose, frowning, drinking heavily; his head was beginning to hurt him, she could tell. And so, she worried about him too...

The meal passed slowly. Platters of roast goose stuffed with grapes, hard cooked eggs, onions and spices; venison pie, with currants, dates and walnuts; fried broad beans, with garlic and shallots; buttered leeks and dark greens sauteed in Mereneese olive oil, mashed with soft white bread came and went. Melly barely tasted a thing, rather she concentrated on the way Gregor's eyes squinted a little at the corners and how his brow grew furrowed over the course of the evening. He emptied his tankard again and again, speaking little, but occasionally touching her in some way. A hand on her thigh, at the back of her neck, they seemed to be small, silent reassurances. He was angry, but not with her, it seemed. When the sweets were brought forth, Melicent declined fried apples in cream, eggs, cinnamon and sugar; sugared fruits, and even the lemon tarts, accepting only a mug of hot honeyed lemon juice. Gregor raised a brow at her refusal of the lemon tarts, but said nothing. As she sipped, she saw him pass a hand over his eyes.

"My Lord," she began hesitantly, placing her hand on his forearm. "It has been a long day. I find myself growing weary." She stopped suddenly when he turned to her, his dark eyes clouded with pain. "Oh, Gregor..." She murmured, overcome with empathy for him, the pain he felt was apparent in his strained expression. "Come to bed with me..." Sliding her hand down his arm, she could feel the muscles coiled tautly under his skin, loosen slightly at her touch. She wrapped her fingers around his thumb and he nodded once, straightening, then standing, sliding his fingers around hers and pulling her to her feet. She made their excuses to her father, Gregor standing silently beside her. As they left the Hall of the Hundred Hearths, Ser Cregan followed several paces behind, but Gregor dismissed him for the night when they reached the foot of the King's Pyre Tower.

He gestured for her to ascend the winding stairs, then followed behind her, his footfalls heavy on the worn, stone steps. The guard in the hall outside the chamber door opened it at their approach and they passed inside to find the fire already lit. Melicent snuffed the candles as Gregor lowered himself wearily onto the edge of the bed, removing his boots, letting them fall to the floor. Finished with the candles, she went to him and he pulled her to stand nestled between his thighs; however, rather than kiss her or pull at her clothes, Gregor surprised her by resting his head on her shoulder. She was both startled and touched by this small gesture by this huge man and she slipped her arms around his neck, stroking his short cropped hair, feeling his warm breath against her bare skin.

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22 comments:

  1. I LOVE this story.. So much that I pester it's author repeatedly about WHEN the next chapter will be out. I'm happy to say it only took 4 or 5 wah-o-grams to get chapter 20 :) BRILLIANT as always. I'm liking the character development of The New Lady of Harrenhal, of Gregor's growth as human being instead a savage monstrosity in a man's skin. I hold out hope for this couple after all it's NOT canon for them to be doomed as this is a new take on a tale. Keep up the great work ! Psssst, when's chapter 21 coming out ?

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    1. Hold your horses Dee! ;) I too, hope they are not doomed, as I kind of like them both! We'll have to wait and see! And thanks!

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  2. Well done, you hit the mark AGAIN

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    1. Thanks Nala! :D I'm glad you liked it!!!

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  3. I love this part. Gregor is still Gregor yet so ungregorly tender. It is a right thing they say: even beasts need love and care.
    I know that muse is an inconstant creature, but I still cherish a hope that next chapter will come soon.
    Thank you so much for this gorgeous fic!
    // Vally

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment, I promise to try to update more frequently, this summer/fall has been incredibly busy but winter is coming and I write best in the winter! mjs

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  4. Oh my goodness, I am simply in love with this story! I have read very few stories with Gregor as the main character and none of them captured him so perfectly as this. I'm very excited to see how all of this turns out.

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    1. I'm go glad that you're enjoying it! Gregor has always seemed as though he doesn't get any character development other than "he's a monster" and I really believe that even bad dogs can learn to be better, if you show them how. :) mjs

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  5. Wow, I just found this story and I have to admit I read it all in one sitting. I absolutely love the way you write. It is thoughtful, poignant and scary.

    I can tell from a couple of your commentaries that you have received criticism. However, I think that you are writing about a complex character, rather than the typical single dimensional cruel brute that so many see when writing about Gregor. I think Melly is pragmatic and brave, and she exhibits the true qualities of a Lady as defined by the genre. Anyway, this is one of the best pieces of fiction (not just fanfiction) that I have read in a long time. I look forward to future updates.

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    1. Oh thank you so much for your kind words. :) Your feedback is much appreciated and I'm really glad that you're enjoying the story. The next update is coming this week. I hope you like it! mjs

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    2. When is it coming??? Ive chewed my nails down to nothing!!!---I'm anxious to see what happens next!!! Will they pick up where they left off (in the bedroom ;) )??? I really can't get enough of this story. .. I love the development of some more minor characters in many stories. I watch the GOT series, & have read most of the books (though, honestly, I never would have reached for the books if I hadn't watched the series)... after season 1 ended, I went for the books because I HAD to know what happened next! That is how I feel now, and it's proof that you are great at what you do! To have a great imagination AND writing skills is a wonderful gift..I hope that you are writing other stories, and I hope that you will publish as well.. I think it takes guts to share with the world something you've created, that came from inside of you. Thank you for sharing this with US! ~Xtina

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    3. Very soon now! Holiday preparations at work and home are taking up more time than I'd like tbh. I'm also in the process of becoming a certified aviculturalist (bird behaviorist), which is time consuming, but wonderful. I'm working whenever I can, I promise this next update is in it's final phases. You are so nice to say such lovely things, and I appreciate your kind words more than you know! I'm currently only finding enough time to write the Mountain & co-write Bolton Rising here. I have a million ideas, if I could only just have time to write and write!

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  6. Is the plot going to go anywhere or are you just making it up as you go along?

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    1. LOL yes, it's going somewhere, and yes I'm making it up as I go along. I know where it's going, but not always all the details. Those develop as I write. I think that's pretty SOP for most writers, it's always been that way for me. I don't outline, but I do make notes and I actually have some scenes from future chapters already written. I don't know how long it'll take to get to the end, as I'd assumed when starting out that it would be maybe 10 chapters. Looking at 20+, the story still has a lot that needs telling. I refuse to rush and update daily, though. I won't write it unless I'm putting time and effort into creating a well written story.

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  7. This is a brilliant story, I love it! This is truly amazing how well you have captured Gregor, like he is still sort of violent and brutal, but on the other hand he's also human and that's lovely. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person in this world who's fascinated by Gregor. The Clegane brothers, Sansa and Mance Rayder are my absoulute favourites.
    Please update soon, I can't wait!

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    1. Thank you, you're so sweet! I'm glad you're enjoying it, it is a labor of love. :) The Cleganes and Ramsay & Petyr are my loves and I know that just as Sandor has a human side, so must Gregor. It needs a lot of nurturing, and he's still not a nice guy, but he's still a man. Update coming soon! - mjs

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    2. Just wondering - why do you like Ramsay?

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    3. Hmmm... Oh so many reasons, but mostly his complexity. Ramsay as a character is fascinating. There are so many layers there to be discovered and explored. Gregor is the same. I (we) find it much harder to write about a vanilla character than one who holds so much mystery. Imagine the possibilities!

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  8. Hi there, just found your story and read it in one rush (now I am re-reading it just to make sure not to miss anything, well, and because I love it ;-). Your style and your ideas are great: lots of suspense in every way, full of surprises, not predictable. LOVE IT!!! PLEASE keep on writing, I will follow you and this amazing pairing! Besides (xmas wish....), such a story about the Hound would be WONDERFUL.... ;-)) Thanks for your time!

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm so glad you found us! I don't know about a Hound story, I think that's done a lot & I don't know if it's somewhere I'll ever go on my own. If you look at our Bolton Rising AU, Sandor is one of the main players there, though!

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  9. ooooh, still no update what a pity, I am checking every day to read the next chapter of this great story. PLEASE, do not abandon it!!!

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    1. Updated! And more to come, I'll not abandon my Gregor, I promise!

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