How does one craft an OTP (“one true pairing”)? An interaction between two fictional characters who fans want to see make sweet, sweet love must involve tension, and Game of Thrones’ newest teased couple, Tormund Giantsbane and Brienne of Tarth, have found the air between them thick with longing, or at least with large-bodied curiosity. Something between these two characters, one a giant wildling and the other a giant female knight, has electrified Game of Thrones fans in a way the franchise hasn’t really experienced before.
Most sexual pairings on Game of Thrones have been introduced to the audience through immediate, explicit scenes featuring both characters’ bodies. We watched Jon Snow and Ygritte orbit each other for a few episodes before they got naked in a cave, but book readers knew their coupling was inevitable. The show has not given its viewers a “will they, won’t they” scenario since it began, and that tension might be what’s driving fans to post online, constantly, regarding Tormund and Brienne. In short, everybody wants to see these two make out. Let’s break down why.
Brienne deserves to be desired, and we all know it
We’ve watched poor Brienne enact one of the most selfless quests in Westeros, vowing to Catelyn Stark to track down and protect her daughters. It was incredibly cathartic to watch her meet up with Sansa, after so many missed opportunities, but there’s still catharsis to be had in Brienne’s plot line.
She truly loved Renly, who truly loved men, and after watching him die, Brienne kind of, sort of fell for Jamie Lannister, a man who couldn’t ever be with her, for many reasons. Watching Brienne squirm and frown at Tormund, who waggles his eyebrows at her, is a perfect reversal of the show’s patterns. So much of Game of Thrones has been devoted to playing desire onscreen as a straight-forward concept: classically hot man wants hot woman, takes her, exposes her breasts to the camera, sweaty thrust x4, cut to unrelated violent scene. What we’re watching here is a classically masculine character performing his desire for a gender-non-conforming character (Brienne may identify as a woman, but she’s coded as experiencing gender differently than most Westerosi people), and that story is both satisfying and tickling.
It’s fun to see Tormund feel some type of way
Tormund Giantsbane, thus far, has been a big, burly frat-bro of a character, comically humping luggage for effect and roaring at people who defy him. It’s satisfying, on the other side of the coin from Brienne, to watch Tormund trip over himself. More fun than his lustful biting-of-meat was the shot where he spotted Brienne riding into the gate.
As with all steamy pre-romances, Brienne and Tormund have ignited the imaginations of fan fiction writers, who have posted almost 20 million words of fan fiction about the imagined couple on fan fiction site An Archive Of Our Own. Some of the most intriguing bits are as follows:
From user jeen02:
Brienne coughs, clearing her throat. She feels as though she might burst into flames at any moment. “Is there a reason you’re… naked? In my bed?”
Tormund laughs. Not the polite chuckle Brienne’s grown accustomed to in the company of lords and ladies. No; Tormund’s laugh is a loud, braying thing. Something that announces his presence in her chamber even more brashly than does his current complete state of undress.
“Well, Brienne,” he says, once his laughter subsides enough to allow speech. “Lord Snow assigned some of us to new rooms when the lot of you showed up. Ended supper a bit in me cups to be honest, and I couldn’t rightly remember where Lord Snow’d moved me. And, so — guess I thought this bed was mine.” He laughs again. ‘Til you showed up two minutes ago that is.”
From user 13letters:
Tormund drinks from his ale, leans forward over the table. He almost says something, almost — his watching her makes her stiffen.
Those hips would be good to birth babes. Tall, strong ones with his flaming hair or her pale blonde.
She’d want for nothing, he thinks then, he hasn’t got much except his fists to fight with, his teeth, but she, oi, she wouldn’t need his help none. They could match each other. Keep warm when winter comes and piss off the top of the wall, slay a wight to save their lives and then sing when spring thaws the ground.
From user bamitsbeth79:
Tormund raised his large hand, which was filled with nothing but a huge chunk of meat. He bit into the chicken, deep, jaw strong and all this whilst seemingly being overly proud of himself. Those ginger eyebrows danced to a song of self victory, to which Brienne thanked to the heavens when she gained the nerve to glance away. She had absolutely no idea what just happened, alas she knew not whether to be uncomfortable or somewhat impressed…
From user Philliwolf5:
He’d been staring since their brunch that day, when she’d been in the company of her charge, Sansa Stark, Pod and Sansa’s brother, Jon. The big, red Wildling man had hardly looked anywhere else, his eyes devouring her even as his mouth devoured the chicken leg in his hand.
And still he watched, his clear, green eyes following her as she moved about the castle grounds.
It seemed that any time she was near, she was under his scrutiny, his eyes boring into her.
It appears Game of Thrones showrunners don’t plan on having these two hash out their feelings anytime soon, but it’s exciting enough, for now, to watch the Westeros-obsessed fandom squirm. In its first season freed from the source text, Game of Thrones has made quite a few strategic moves toward being a more enjoyable, more predictably satisfying experience. #Torienne is just one part of that evolution, and it bodes well for future seasons.