“I beg your pardon my lord.” Petyr said in a shocked tone.
“Rickard Stark proposed a match between you and his son, Eddard.” Hoster Tully replied slowly
“But why me my lord? They surely could arrange a better match, especially after…” Petyr trailed off. Two days had passed since the disastrous duel. Petyr had apologized profusely to Lord Tully, it wasn’t his intention to insult his daughter. He hadn’t been exiled, yet.
“Apparently young Eddard has taken a liking to you and, as a second son, he has more freedom to his match. I already gave him permission to court you, if only to see you away from Riverrun, and your family agreed as well. All is left is your choice.”
Petyr remained silent. Did he want this? Be courted by Ned Stark, probably the most decent alpha he had ever met? Get away from Riverrun, from this mess he had got himself into? Live in the North where no one knew him? Leave Cat?
Well, he wasn’t sure he even liked Cat anymore. She certainly didn’t like him like that and Petyr was quite sure she despised him now. Her rejection had hurt, even more than that time at the feast. He had rejected her back in anger after she had come to his chambers. Or was that Lysa? It didn’t matter anyway, he thought, he wanted distance from the Tully sisters now. He decided he would accept Lord Stark’s proposal. It would probably be the best match proposed to him in his life, and it wasn’t a bad match. From the little he’d know Ned Stark he was a good man. Naïve maybe, but Petyr could help with that. And the way he had protected him from Brandon… Yes, he would accept.
“I agree my lord.”
“Wonderful, I’ll inform Lord Stark and his son, now off you go.” Lord Tully gestured to the door.
“My lord.” Petyr left, bowing to Lord Tully before turning around.
Eddard Stark, Petyr thought, was definitely the most decent alpha he had ever met.
The first thing the man had done when they met again was to ask Petyr if he had truly accepted the offer and had not been pressured by Lord Tully. Petyr had stared at him shocked back then, but assured him that yes, he was doing this on his own choice. Ned had sighed in relief after.
Two weeks had passed since Ned had started courting him and Petyr reckoned accepting him was the best decision he had ever made. Despite their differences they got along surprisingly well and could be found together more often than not. Even more after Lyanna left, she and their father were away dealing with her betrothal to Robert Baratheon. Brandon stayed at Riverrun, so far Petyr had done a good job avoiding him. Ned had given up on trying making them get along.
Truth be told, Petyr wanted to spend time with only one of the Stark brothers, and it wasn’t Brandon, nor the one who had stayed behind to be the Stark in Winterfell, Benjen.
And time together they spent. They explored the castle together, Petyr showing him hidden passages and alcoves, Ned discovering some more; they sat in the library together discussing the books they read, Petyr more than Ned, but the wolf made an effort to read more just for Petyr; they ate their meals together, sharing conversations, stories and private jokes over wine sometimes; Ned trained Petyr to shoot with a bow, and he was getting quite good at it; they went riding on Lord Tully’s lands, though they didn’t wander too far off ( Petyr especially enjoyed one time they had to share a horse. Lord Tully and Brandon had organized a hunting trip and there weren’t any more horses. Petyr was a bit worried about their predicament, Ned had thrown him a wicked look over his shoulder and suddenly they were speeding off the stables. Petyr had clung to Ned for dear life but he had enjoyed it greatly after the initial shock. Ned’s laugh had been so warm then, Petyr had joined him and they returned to Riverrun still grinning to each other, hair messy from the wind and hands joined.); they were practically inseparable.
While Petyr and Ned’s spirits were high, it seemed the other nobles in the castle weren’t exactly like them. Brandon didn’t like Petyr one bit and was definitely not happy with Petyr’s involvement with his brother; Catelyn was upset Brandon was flirting with one of the kitchen girls and mad because Petyr was getting a possibly better mate; Lysa was mad of jealousy, still not over her feelings for Petyr; Edmure was angry because neither Brandon or Ned (or even Petyr) gave him any attention; Lord Tully was tired of dealing with his children’s complaints. Aside from Ned and Petyr, only Ser Brynden seemed to be in a good mood, gods know why, the man was complicated.
Petyr didn’t care about any of them.
He couldn’t help but fall for the Quiet Wolf. He was brave and strong, all the things the songs said, but he was more than that too. He was gentle and kind, he treated Petyr like he was the most precious person in the world and Petyr reveled in that. He was funny when he wanted to, and Petyr appreciated his sense of humor even if it didn’t quite match his own. He was smart in his own way, not regarding people like Petyr, but they both shared a knack for financial matters. Petyr felt Ned would make a good Lord one day, and Petyr would be there to counsel him.
Life wasn’t a song, but Petyr felt his would get close.
The first time they kissed had been in the godswood. Ned always prayed there in the mornings before he had breakfast with Petyr in the great hall. Petyr had decided to meet him before breakfast, since he didn’t want to face Brandon alone. He found Ned kneeling by the heart tree, his eyes closed and his face peaceful. Petyr waited for him to finish, he didn’t want to intrude in this moment. Ned eventually got up and noticed him there, he smiled warmly at Petyr and beckoned him to come closer.
“The world is quiet here.” Petyr said softly.
“Aye.” Ned agreed.
“Tell me, if we are to wed one day, how will it happen? The ceremony, I mean.” Petyr was suddenly curious, he didn’t know much about the faith of the Old Gods.
“I’d imagine you would like to wed in the southern style, in a sept.”
“We’ll see about that later, now tell me will you?” Petyr was blushing slightly.
“The weddings happen at night, before the weirwood tree so the gods can witness it. As we don’t have priests or priestesses the ceremony is officiated by the groom’s family head, my father in this case. I and he will wait for you here, in front of the tree. Your father or ward will walk you down the aisle and my father will ask who comes before the old gods, the person leading you will present themselves and ask for the gods’ blessing on the marriage and ask who comes to claim your hand. I will answer and ask who offers your hand, and the one leading you will answer and present you. My father will ask you if you take me as your husband. Should you answer you do we will join hands, kneel before the weirwood tree and bow our heads to the gods. Then I will remove your cloak and put a Stark one over your shoulders and we shall rise. And then…”
Petyr had been listening attentively and was surprised when Ned trailed off. “And then?”
“And then I will kiss you to seal the union.” Ned moved closer.
“Why don’t we practice for that part?” Petyr was impressed by his own boldness at the moment.
Ned held him by the chin and kissed him sweetly. Petyr’s knees weakened and his eyes fluttered closed. He wrapped his arms around Ned’s neck and Ned moved his hands to Petyr’s hips. Ned didn’t have much experience and Petyr also had none beside the few kisses he shared with Lysa and Catelyn, so it was a bit of clumsy affair, but perfect all the same.
When they finally parted Ned looked deep into Petyr’s eyes and asked. “So, Petyr Baelish, will you marry me?”
Then Ned kissed him again.