[as roose bolton]
[He watches, owl-eyed, as they enter. When Barbrey sits down beside him, he casts her a long look. Wonders what she knows. They haven’t spoken. Not since the night Eddard died, and even then, with that reporter found murdered and the killers fading into the Scottish rain, he hadn’t dared to trust the phone line. Better to speak to her in person, after this circus.
Robb enters and sits in his father’s seat and something settles within him. The dice have fallen. He can read their faces now. The simple movement and the assurance behind it has introduced an idea into the minds of those assembled. Doesn’t Ned’s boy look good occupying his father’s chair? Couldn’t he do that again? And again?
He turns his head, sharply, further to the left.
Maege says something. Roose ignores it. He raises his hand halfway to silence her query.]
What business does he have in being here?
[To hell with Maege’s immediate concerns - is no one going to raise an issue at all with the fact that Balon Greyjoy’s heir is sitting near the head of their conference table? A boy who is not even an honourable son of the north? A boy whose ownuncles are the reason Scotland is floundering to right itself? Who stole passage into the country from Wyman Manderly’s own granddaughter?
Oh, he almost feels the dull rage of anger when he considers it.]
The Greyjoy stalemate in the North Sea oil fields is a major contributing factor to Scotland’s economic instability. With all due respect, I do not find it appropriate that one of them should be here to witness this discussion which will forge the country’s future.
Anger flashes through Robb’s body, red and hot like boiling blood. Roose Bolton’s always inspired in him an intimidation bordering on fear, so this is not something Robb is familiar with. His hand has stopped trembling. He knows that everyone is looking at him right now, that they expect him to apologise and send Theon out of that room but - he cannot do that. He will not. Maybe bringing him to this meeting was a mistake, but he knows that kicking him out is not right either.
He adjusts his tie.
"And with all due respect to you as well, Bolton, the Greyjoy in this room has nothing to do with what his family is doing to our country. Putting the blame on his shoulders only because he is the nearest English man available will not solve any of our dozens of conflicts." Robb leans forwards, the fingers of his hands entwined over the table. "He left his country to come here, because he believes in what we’re trying to do and he knows that Scotland needs now more than ever the support of anyone, Scottish or not. If today it’s ‘One of them should not be here in this room’, what is stopping it from becoming 'One of them should not be in this country’? My father tried to be a good leader for as long as he could do it, and maybe he would agree with you if he were here - I cannot and will not speak for the dead. But what I do know is that he always tried to do what was right, and if we’re going to decide our country’s future right now, I know that what is right is forging a nation where anyone who stands with us can do so not only in mind but also in body, if that is their wish. Scotland will always be home to those that are loyal to her.” He straightens up, looks in the eye of every member of the company. “I sincerely apologise to each of you if my invitation to Theon Greyjoy offended anyone in this room, but I was not aware of what exactly this meeting would entail seeing as no one informed me. I thought that our conflict with the Greyjoy Group could be discussed and it’d be appropiate to do so with one of its rightful heirs present. We want peace, not war.” He pauses, tries to show the same authority his father did. “Greyjoy stays here. Let’s use this misunderstanding on my part in our favour as a gesture of that peace we are seeking.”
Robb’s gazing at him with such adoration that Theon has to suppress a shudder – he’ll never get used to this, he thinks, no matter how old they may grow together. He was never a person particularly used to getting what he wanted, let alone that which he wanted more than anything else in the world. His fingertips are soft, and Theon leans into them instinctively.
If he could get what he wanted sometimes, could he not get his wish that they stay here forever? Happy, wrapped up in one another and most of all, safe. Surely he could be granted that.
Robb’s kissing him in a way Theon didn’t think he ever would again and – it’s everything. He was so sure that he’d pushed Robb too far away to ever recover the night before, that he’d ruined everything again with his typical foolish selfishness. And maybe he had ruined everything, with what had happened only a few hours ago, but – at least right now, he can allow himself to forget about that.
Well. As much as he could.
(It’s like that kind of buzzing of a light bulb when you enter a room, lingering at the back of your mind, never quite allowing you to relax. Keeps you that bit on edge, refuses to let you ignore its presence. But this carries a darker presence, one that makes his throat seize up in a mix of sickness and terror whenever he remembers.)
His kisses turn more purposeful now, mouth pressing harder against Theon’s lips, tongue curling with his own. Theon tangles his own hand in Robb’s curls, allowing his boyfriend to take the reins, more than willing to surrender to him completely. Christ, but the last thing he’d expected when he’d returned to Winterfell that night was this.
He pulls away – just for a moment, just enough to be heard – eyes still closed as he bumps his nose against Robb.
“Can we sleep here tonight? It just feels…right.”
The words send a strange sort of buzzing feeling echoing in his bones. The bed had always been big, but they had only slept there together once or twice in the past, and that was only when they got drunk in secret after stealing some of his father’s alcohol from the cabinet in his studio. Catelyn Stark had never liked the idea of her son sleeping in the same bed as the Greyjoy kid (and, it seemed, her fears had been quite accurate) so whenever Theon slept in the same bedroom instead of the guest room they had for him, he did so in a smaller bed next to Robb’s.
The thought of sleeping here, in his childhood bed with his boyfriend, makes Robb feel almost dizzy with want. Not that kind of want, but something different, something softer. This is their place, the room that saw them grow up. Quite literally, he thinks, when he catches sight of the height chart still adorning the wall.
"Of course," he says gently. His father’s funeral is still a pulse in the back of his mind, beating without stop, but tonight he’s not going to let it take over. He won’t. "Just sleeping, though? I thought you said we should live here. Already regretting your own requests, Greyjoy?" He bumps their noses together and finally lets his head fall against Theon’s shoulder as he shifts so that most of his weight is resting on the bed instead of on top of Theon, and his thumb traces circles under Theon’s shirt.
"God, at least now we’re together for good. Whenever I think about all the time we lost when I was in New York…" he sighs heavily. "I should have stayed. Especially after that goodbye kiss."
More and more, the tears are becoming a really serious threat. He can’t help it, he doesn’t – he doesn’t deserve all this, not this kind of attention, not Robb, who he could never be worthy of in a million years. He feels strangely guilty – he knows he’s not worthy of it, not any of it, but he can’t bring himself to give it up. Let Robb find someone that’s halfway decent, doesn’t fuck up as spectacularly as Theon always manages to.
I’ve put you in danger, he wants to tell him, unable to do anything but watch as Robb rains kisses across his knuckles. I might have put your whole family at risk. God, you’d hate me if only you knew what I’ve done.
Instead, he says nothing, just tightens his hold on Robb, sighing contently as the other man buries his face in Theon’s neck. He gazes over Robb’s shoulder, settling on the shelves on the other side of the room. Nothing’s changed since the last time they were in here, just after Eddie’s death – of course it wouldn’t have, no one comes in here except for Catelyn to ensure the room doesn’t gather too much dust – but the photos stand out to him, just as they always had. The two of them with their arms slung around one another the day they received their A-Levels results, Robb’s grin ridiculously wide whilst Theon regards him fondly at his side. The photo is surrounded by others, all of Robb’s family, and it had always made Theon ridiculously glad that Robb thought him important enough to hang his image by their side.
God, how could he have managed to endanger all this?
His gaze is promptly ripped away, and he pushes Robb away, just enough to look at him properly. There’s nothing but sincerity reflected back at him in those big blue eyes, and Christ, there really is a lump beginning to form in his throat.
Sometimes Theon thinks his love had consumed him utterly, but then he manages to fall harder ten times over.
Robb reclaims control of the situation, swiftly enough, rolling them over so that he’s lying on top.
I’m glad you’re with me.
Just as he’d told Theon, at only fourteen years of age, clutching his hand tightly in the darkness.
Theon wishes he could tell him the truth. That he shouldn’t be glad at all.
Instead, his treacherous hands slide up Robb’s back, following his spine, until they find his neck, one resting there whilst the other settles on his bicep.
“I love you,” is about all he can manage, and he really does have to swallow thickly now before he can continue. “So much. You have no idea, I can’t –“ His thumb grazes his pulse, wishing he could find the fucking words. “I – I’ll be here. Be yours. Now and always. Remember?”
His smile widens. “You better. It’s no fun being someone’s if they aren’t yours too, is it?”
For a moment, they just stay like that: Robb running his fingers slowly through Theon’s hair, Theon looking up at him with a look that sends warm shivers of pleasure down Robb’s spine, makes his knees feel a bit weak. Good thing he’s lying down. He traces with his index finger Theon’s profile: from his temple, to his cheekbone, down to his jaw. Suddenly, he can’t stop looking at his lips. When his eyes finally meet Theon’s again, Robb could swear he could come apart with the love he sees reflected there.
"Now and always," he finally replies, and leans down to press their lips together. It’s just that at first, the simple press of his mouth against Theon’s, so very chaste and soft, and he sighs against it contently. He pulls back for a moment, grins wickedly, and kisses him again, gently pushing his lips apart with the tip of his tongue. He runs it over his teeth, gently seeks Theon’s, but the moment Theon makes to return the kiss, Robb withdraws his tongue and waits for Theon to follow.
He does. They make little wet obscene noises as they kiss, Robb’s fingers tightening in his hair as he tries to pull Theon up so he can kiss him a bit deeper, a bit harder, a bit better. It may be a heavy kiss, but it’s all slow swipes of tongue and pleased hums, lips fitting against each other like a puzzle. He touches Theon’s face with his hand, tenderly, and breaks apart with a gasp just to look him in the eye.
“Always,” he repeats breathlessly, and sinks back down to kiss him again.
He mirrors Robb’s action, kicking his shoes off before crawling up the bed and laying his head against the pillow. Robb is quick to cuddle up to him, something Theon’s hardly going to complain about. They’re so close that they’re practically one, and Theon lets his eyes fall closed, just for a moment. He needs to – needs to let this sink in, absorb it as much as he possibly can.
He wants so badly to feel content. To just lose himself here, wrapped in Robb’s arms – the only place he’s ever felt happiness.
But he can’t forget. No matter how much he tries.
Still, it doesn’t stop him from making the attempt. He lays his palm flat against Robb’s chest, feels the steady beat of his heart that belongs completely to him. Sometimes it’s so hard to believe that this is real. After so many years of loving Robb from afar, he still finds himself in a state of disbelief that for once, he’d gotten what he wanted. Who he wanted.
His eyes open, meeting Robb’s impossibly blue gaze. He moves his hand, slips it around to cradle the small of his back, tugging him closer still. Their legs are tangled together and they’re sharing every breath and Theon feels like he’s never loved him more.
I’d do anything for you, he thinks, brushing one of Robb’s auburn curls behind his ear. I will do anything for you. I won’t let anyone hurt you. Not ever.
“Yeah, well,” he chuckles, “it’s not really fair on the rest of the world, is it? Keeping you all to myself like this.” He smiles against Robb’s mouth, feels the scratch of his stubble. “They’ll have to learn to deal though. I’m not letting you go, not ever.”
He sighs then, lays his hand to Robb’s cheek.
“We should just stay here. Not leave this room, not ever. Just stay right here, just like this.”
Robb grins a bit, presses the softest of kisses to the corner of Theon’s mouth, lips hovering over his skin.
"Fuck the rest of the world," he says. "Let’s do what you say. Stay here, just the two of us. I mean, I will need food but nothing a quick trip to the kitchen can’t fix. Some alcohol for you and we’re set."
He turns his head to kiss the palm of Theon’s hand. Then he takes it with his own so that he can bring his knuckles to his lips. He presses a gentle kiss to each one of them, remembers those very same knuckles breaking his nose and almost laughs. They have certainly come a very long way from that fight at the bar more than a year ago. He pulls Theon’s hand away, just he can intertwine their fingers, thumb stroking Theon’s. He wants every existent part of his body in contact with his boyfriend’s, wants to melt into him. He nuzzles his neck, making a soft pleased sound and squeezing his fingers.
"I wasn’t kidding, you know. What I said that day at the office. I will marry you, at some point. We have time." He presses an open-mouthed kiss against his pulse point. "You don’t have to say anything now, I don’t want to ruin this. But… just letting you know."
He suddenly rolls so that he’s on top of Theon now, and he buries his fingers in his dark hair, smiling down at him. He pecks him on the lips briefly. “Thank you for being here. Even if you think you’re doing nothing… you are. Having you here makes me happy. I’m glad you’re with me.”
Theon literally feels like he’s crumbling, coming apart at the seams, so fucking overwhelmed with love that he can barely speak. He’s practically breathless with the relief that had consumed him when Robb returned his embrace, hadn’t really even expected him to do that much. He hadn’t even been thinking when he sought out Robb’s arms, just knew he needed them with every fibre of his being. Funny how they’d only been together the night before, but so much had happened since that it feels like centuries.
He’d pretty sure that Robb’s arms are doing more to ease the current pain of his injuries more than any painkiller possibly could.
He follows Robb’s guide willingly, sitting back down on the bed and Jesus, Robb doesn’t even give him a second before he’s crawling on his lap, raining kisses on his face with more tenderness than Theon merits.
The tears really do well up at his words. Fuck, but Robb was so wrong. Theon didn’t deserve a damn thing and it’s tempting to tell him that. He didn’t know what had happened, didn’t realise how much danger Theon had put him in, didn’t –
I don’t deserve you, he thinks, swallowing the lump that’s beginning to form in his throat . It won’t do if he actually does cry – Robb would only inquire as to why, and Theon couldn’t tell him, doesn’t even know what kind of excuse he could make up. His shaking hands come up to hold Robb’s head, fingers resting on either side of his face, bumping their foreheads together
“I don’t know why you put up with me,” he mumbles. “You’re too good for me. I’m too greedy to let you go though.” His lips brush against Robb’s, softly. “Let’s lie down – I mean – I don’t want to – you know. I just want to hold you.”
Robb chuckles breathlessly against Theon’s mouth - they aren’t even properly kissing (yet) but they’re so close, foreheads pressed together, that when he laughs he’s sure Theon must taste it on his own lips. The grief, the pain, it’s all still there but somehow, right now, he is the closest to happy he’s been in days. And he clings to it with all he’s got.
"You just try that. Seriously, try to let me go. I’ll kick your ass, Greyjoy.”
He’s somewhat amused that Theon feels the need to clarify that he doesn’t want sex, and there’s a smile playing on his lips the whole time as he kicks his shoes off, lies down on the bed next to Theon. No matter how small their children were, the Starks have always had gigantic beds in every bedroom of the house, and he’s grateful for that. Not that it really matters, though - they’re so close to one other that Robb supposes they would fit in an individual bed effortlessly. He slots a leg between Theon’s, throws an arm over his waist and slides closer so that they’re practically glued to each other.
"I don’t know why you say you’re greedy like it’s a bad thing though. I want you to be greedy with me." He brushes his lips over Theon’s jawline, noses at it with a contented murmur. "Why shouldn’t you be, with something that is completely yours?"
And Theon nearly fucking cries.
Which is strange, really: he can’t remember the last time he’d shed a tear. Certainly not for his father’s death – nor his brothers’. Had he cried during either of Robb and his splits? He can’t quite remember, but suspects not. Theon never really cries, but all of a sudden, the tears keep threatening to fall. He’d almost wept when he realised Robb had lead him to his childhood room, just the sight of that stupid height chart, his bed, the floor where he’d spent so many nights curled up on his camp bed at Robb’s side. It was ridiculous how much meaning could be attached to just one room, and none moreso for Theon than this one.
His shoulders visibly sag with relief, all the breath rushes out of him in a sigh. He hadn’t even realised he’d been holding it. It feels like he has been since he escaped Ramsay’s flat.
“I’m – “ and his voice is shaking nearly as much as his hands are, “no, I’m the one who should be apologising, not you. I’m – I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking, I should’ve known – of course you wouldn’t – you wouldn’t want that. I’m such a fucking idiot, I always fuck up like this I know. I just – I hate seeing you hurting so much and – I don’t know –“ He’s babbling and he knows it, and none of the words are good enough, can possibly convey a fraction of the emotion and regret that he feels.
So he finds himself practically falling forwards, arms seeking out Robb’s neck instinctively. The movement hurts his side, still sore from Ramsay, but he doesn’t even fucking care.
All he cares about is right here.
This is what was important.
“I shouldn’t have done it,” he mumbles into Robb’s neck, “shouldn’t have-“
Shouldn’t have done any of this. Should never have walked into that bar, should have never accepted that drink from the man he thought was Reic. Should never have gone to his flat. Should never –
You liked it.
Theon wonders how it’s even possible one person can make so many bad decisions.
Robb’s arms practically envelope Theon the moment Theon is within reach - he closes them tightly around his waist and squeezes him as he closes his eyes and presses his lips to Theon’s hair. Relief fills him instantly, hitting him with a solid fist, almost as real as Theon’s body pressed against his. He brings a hand up to bury it in his hair, kisses his head more purposefully this time. Sometimes he thinks the love he feels for this man is made of the same thing that makes the sea always come back to the shore.
"It’s okay," he murmurs, "it’s okay. We’re okay. I love you. We’re okay." Disentangling himself from Theon is an actual physical effort so he doesn’t even try it: he merely pushes against him gently, makes him walk backwards towards the bed. "C’mere." The moment Theon is sitting on the mattress, Robb straddles his lap and clutches him close. He presses soft kisses to his temple, his cheekbone, the corner of his lip, his hand resting just over his heart.
"I don’t want to have sex with you like this because when I make love to you, I don’t want you to be a distraction, or a way to take my mind off things. You deserve better than that, Theon."
[as rickard karstark]
Rickard can’t help but wish that he was anywhere but here.
I should be with my daughter, he thinks numbly. My last remaining son. He knows the importance of this meeting all too well, but it does little to lessen his pain.
All he can do is cling to what it might mean. Vengeance. His fingers tighten into fists. Vengeance for my boy. Robb Stark was his friend, surely he wants it too, surely he will promise me that. He must.
Ned had not understood. He prays his son will be different.
The others have already arrived, slipped into their usual seats at the boardroom table. The chair at the head of the table is conspicuously empty – Ned Stark’s former seat – and wonders how easily his successor will sit in it. He wrings his hands as he slips into his seat, casts his gaze across his companions. None of them appear too concerned, yet, there’s a heavy weight hanging in the room all the same.
Everyone knows that this meeting will change everything.
“He’s late,” he says by way of greeting. “I’m tempted to begin without him.”
The car is silent as a grave and, Robb thinks darkly, the occupants could pass for corpses too. He doesn’t know what it is about cloudy days that makes people seem pale and ghostly and their edges sort of blurred, as if they had left a part of them behind tucked safely in a warm bed with a cup of hot tea in front of the fireplace. His mother wears a thin layer of make-up, but it can’t quite disguise the prints grief has left on her face: heavy eyelids, mouth turned into a perpetual frown, her cheekbones sharp against her skin. Catelyn Stark’s lost weight. She sits next to the driver, Robb and Theon beside one another in the backseat - sometimes Robb sees his mother’s blue eyes watching him with concern on the mirror, and he replies with a reassuring smile that she doesn’t return. It’s raining, the sound outside the car faint and soothing like a lullaby, and Robb uses the sleeve of his suit jacket to rub at the window and take a look outside. What he sees is gray, shades of brown and a sea of black, a city mourning in disturbing silence. Or maybe it’s just his own grief that tricks his senses. Robb’s not sure he can tell the difference anymore.
They had called Robb and Catelyn for a meeting in the headquarters of the company, with little to no explanation. Some decision making, some changes to be made, nothing Robb hadn’t heard before. Nothing out of the usual except for his mother’s presence, who most of the time tended to leave the business reunions to her husband - Robb supposed they had extended the invitation to her as a gesture of sympathy for her loss. Robb himself had taken the liberty to invite Theon as well, without asking anyone. He figured that since they were having a meeting, they might as well start talking about the Greyjoy situation, and why not invite the only Greyjoy in Scotland. It didn’t really seem fair, talking about Theon’s family without him there.
Robb opens the door to the conference room just in time to hear, I’m tempted to begin without him.
He wonders what his father would have said to that, if those words had been directed at him, and Robb finds himself muttering, “Next time, maybe, Karstark.” It’s so unlike anything his father would have said, that Robb could almost laugh. The pressing silence that follows that reply is so sharp that Robb clears his throat somewhat awkwardly instead. “Good morning, everyone. Theon Greyjoy will be joining us today.”
Before he can say anything else, Catelyn and Theon have taken the two remaining chairs.
For a moment, Robb considers spending the whole meeting just standing there on the spot. He eyes his father’s place and feels sick as he realises what he has to do; as he walks towards it, as he pulls the chair back and sits down and looks at every face in front of him. Maybe there really is something ghostly about rainy days. He could swear his father’s ghost is still sitting on that chair.
His hand, under the table, trembles at the sight of Roose Bolton.
Theon swings around in surprise, freezing in shock when he sees who it is.
He shouldn’t be so dumbstruck – it’s Robb’s fucking house, of course he’d probably be here. Still, Theon hadn’t expected him to be up so late, hadn’t expected –
Hadn’t expected Robb to be speaking to him.
Even if his words sound terrifyingly ominous. The terror that fills him rivals that which he’d felt only a few hours earlier.
He rakes a trembling hand through his hair, wishing more than ever that he hadn’t come back here. He could have gotten a hotel, even a bloody B&B – Scotland was full of the things. He’d debated Alys but – no – he couldn’t see her either, not after what had just happened. The cold seems to be tightening its grip on him – Winterfell, if anything, feels ten times more frozen than outside.
“I,” he pauses to swallow thickly. What should he say? What could he say? He never thought he’d lie to Robb, but telling the truth about where he’d been wasn’t an option here. “I just…went to the gym. Then the pub. Went for a walk. Nothing special. I didn’t…”Didn’t think you’d care.
Didn’t think you’d care.
He nods weakly, feeling terrifyingly hopeless..
“I guess we do.”
There’s something in Theon’s whole body when he says that -the little hesitation in his voice, the way he avoids Robb’s eyes, the tense line of his shoulders and jaw- that makes Robb instantly know he’s lying, a certainty that strikes him deep in his gut. And for a moment Robb wants to laugh, bitter. Did Theon really think that Robb didn’t know him well enough to be able to tell? He’s been best friends with this man for ten years, almost half a year of being a couple. He almost feels insulted that Theon thinks he wouldn’t notice.
But Robb doesn’t say anything, doesn’t call him out on it. It’s not like Theon doesn’t have reasons to lie, after the way Robb treated him last night. He sighs and nods and swallows the lie like a pill, tries to give his boyfriend the space he deserves. He feels as if this is all so very fragile - if he takes one wrong step, it’s all going to fall apart. So he tries to be as careful as possible.
"Maybe this isn’t the best place to talk, though. Follow me?" And when Theon nods, Robb starts walking, almost holding his breath so as to be able to listen to Theon’s steps to make sure he’s still there. It’s not until Robb’s opened the door, until they are both inside, until he sees the height chart and the family pictures and the text books piled up on the desk, that he realises where they are.
He -somehow- took them to his childhood room. Maybe it’s a simple slip, the fact that his father’s death has left him completely lost and sometimes he finds himself going into rooms and forgetting why he did it, trying to drink from an empty glass of water, change the tv channel with his cellphone - or maybe a part of him needed them to be right here, in this place that saw them grow up. Whatever it is, Robb goes with it.
He turns around, faces Theon. He wonders if Theon could even comprehend how terrified he is right now.
"Look, about last night…" Shit, he thinks, and nervously fumbles with the sleeves of his shirt, a bit too long, always covering more of his wrists than they should. “I… don’t really know what happened last night. I understand why you did what you did, I do. And even though I don’t… exactly agree with the idea of it, like I said, I do understand it from your perspective. And I’m sorry I overreacted. None of this is your fault, everything’s that’s happened, is happening. I don’t want to take it out on you, and I didn’t mean to do or say what I did. I wasn’t me. These days, I really don’t feel like me at all.” He bites his lip, pauses. He’s not sure he can read Theon’s face, but decides to continue anyway. What is there to lose? “I love you, Theon. What I said last night about the last thing I want… I was wrong. The last thing I want is to lose you. You’re… Christ, you are everything to me.”
It’s really fucking cold and that’s about the only thought Theon can form coherently. He doesn’t even want to think about that, because it reminds him of the fire crackling in Ramsay’s room and…
He shivers. And it’s not from the cold at all.
He hasn’t gone home yet. Couldn’t quite bring himself to, couldn’t…couldn’t face anyone, not now, not after –
He feels stupid. He feels sick. Sick and humiliated and angry and the worst part, Theon feels it about himself.
How could I be such a fucking idiot. How could I – how could I think –
How could he think he’d made a friend.
Rather than go home, he’d opted instead to wander around the streets aimlessly for several hours, too fucking ashamed to show his face at Winterfell. It’s a pretty dumb idea – he really hadn’t dressed that appropriately for the weather, Scotland is ten times colder than England and even after all this time, he forgets that. And winter was coming.
In a way, Theon feels like it’s already came.
His hands are shaking badly when he finally returns, so much so that it takes several attempts to unlock the door. Again, he’s really not sure if it’s to do with the chill or not.
Pulling his hoodie tighter around him, he steps into the hallway, teeth chattering. Now that he’s here, he feels more at a loss than ever. Should he have even bothered returning? No one wanted him here now, last night had made that perfectly clear. He feels like a stranger in a strange land more than ever.
The pathetic thing was he had nowhere else.
He gazes up the stairs, wondering what the fuck to do. He’s pretty sure he should avoid the room he’d been keeping with Robb – he’s not sure he could take being told to leave, not now.
But where else could he go?
He had a lot of work to do. Eddard Stark’s death had not only been a tragedy, it had also meant more work - with the head of the Stark Group of Companies gone, it was up now to Robb to fill the gap his father had left behind. And what a huge gap it was. He was now just starting to understand why his father sometimes spent entire days in his studio, only coming back to the land of the living for breakfast and dinner, and a quick apology to his wife and kids. There were so many papers - no, not even just papers, piles of them - so many contracts and books to keep record of the deals made, lists of employees and lists of payments and -
And that was just at home, in his father’s private room. Robb shuddered just to think of the work that waited for him back at the office. He hadn’t been there yet except for one occasion, and he dreaded it. He felt as if once he crossed the doors to the headquarters, he wouldn’t get out ever again. His head had been spinning all day, and it had been a serious effort not to open the cabinet with the expensive wines his father had almost as decoration, and drink them all one by one. At least then his head would spin but he’d forget all about it. That would be an improvement, surely.
On top of that all, he had accomplished a grand total of nothing. All day he had been staring at the same paper reading the lines over and over without ever grasping its meaning. What had happened the night before would not leave his head and god, the guilt was consuming him.
Surely he could have turned Theon down more gently. When he remembered the things he had said, the way he had said them… Theon had only been trying to help. Yes, he could be a bit clumsy, a bit inappropriate, somewhat awkward at it, but Robb knew that, had always known that. Theon had never been a person of words, he preferred actions, and the things he had done the night before were clearly his way of expressing concern and love for Robb. He had told Robb ‘I love you’, and Robb had replied with icy silence.
He had looked for him, to see if they could talk about it, but Winterfell was huge and Robb could not find his boyfriend anywhere. It had been tempting to call him, or text him - anything to let him know that he wanted to see him. But he had chickened out. If Theon was not there, maybe it was because he did not want to see Robb at all, and who could blame him?
When Robb gets out of his father’s office he feels so drained of energy that he eyes the couch for a moment, wondering whether he should pass out right here, or if he should make the effort of making it to his room. He decides for the bedroom. His bed is far more comfortable, and the last thing Robb needs is waking up tomorrow with a sore neck and back from sleeping in a bad position on the couch.
He doesn’t even see Theon when he first enters the room - he’s so still. It’s only when the other man moves that Robb realises he’s not alone. His lips part in surprise and his mouth feels suddenly dry, a sense of dread takes hold of him and grips him with tight cold fingers. Theon looks like shit, and Robb is suddenly thrown back to that day in London when he all he wanted was to go to sleep and Theon had welcomed him with angry words, furious eyes, and a break-up.
"I…" He swallows hard. "I looked for you. Today. Where were you? I think we need to talk."