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They’re three steps inside the tent when his lips are captured in a filthy, open mouthed kiss and Robb barely resists the urge to squirm in embarrassment at being involved in something so dirty. Theon must sense it though because he laughs -that half-mocking, half-pleased bark that’s firmly ingrained itself in Robb’s mind as simply Theon- and pulls his head far back enough that he can look Robb in the eye.

“You’re not a boy anymore,” he breathes against his lips, his fingers working at the front of Robb’s trousers, pulling the laces apart. “King in the North, that’s what they’re calling you. Can you hear them?” Robb can’t hear anything but the sound of the blood rushing in his ears and his own breath, coming out in pants, as Theon tugs and pulls at his breeches impatiently. This is how it is with them when no one else is watching; Theon taking the lead and Robb breathlessly following behind. In public Theon plays the part of ward, friend and victim to perfection. He teaches Bran how to shoot an arrow, he swears fealty to House Stark. Robb knows his hand is forever resting on his knife at the smallest sign of trouble and he’s seen the way Theon angles his body so that he ever so slightly stands in front of Robb, shielding him from whatever might come. These are things no one would ever notice, they are innocent gestures, tokens of loyalty and love and brotherhood. No one would ever notice, perhaps, but his mother, and Robb can remember the disapproving glances sent their way throughout his youth. Now she simply purses her lips and turns her head away, as if resigned to this thing between them.

In private though, behind locked doors and within the safety of canvas tents, Theon guides with his sure hands and steady gaze, pushes and pulls at Robb, who follows his instructions blindly. He will always follow, he thinks, this is how it will always be with them. Robb will take to leadership because it is his birthright and what the old gods have decided for him but he will never enjoy it. If they had been born into more modest houses, if his Uncle had lived, if they were peasant boys instead of sons of Lords, he thinks they might have been soldiers. Theon would have been his general, his commander in all things, and Robb would have been proud to stand by his side.

Theon kisses promises down his chest and Robb’s hand roots itself in his hair as he lets his eyes fall closed and dreams of a life in which he might have been content.

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thosearestrings

July 2011

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