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Longing for home

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“Open the gates!” Jon bellowed from his vantage point on the battlements. He dashed past the Blackfish, all but skipping down the steps to the yard. 

It was Bran and Rickon! He recognised their wolves before he recognised them, but it was them. Three steps, two, one step and he was back in the yard of the Inner Castle. He was running to the gates, when he crashed right into Arya as she ran toward the gates from the direction of the Godswood.

“It’s Bran and Rickon,” he told her. “I heard!” she grinned, before bolting past him. 

Arya threw herself into Bran first. He was sat upon a sleigh that was pulled by Bran’s wolf and Shaggydog. 

“Hello, Arya.” Bran smiled at her. There was a mirth in his blue eyes visible from the torch light that danced around the embracing siblings. 

Arya was sobbing into his shoulder, their tight embrace visible to Jon from where he stood. Arya moved back to look at Bran properly. She ran her hair through his curls showering kisses upon his face as she laugh-cried at the brother she gazed upon.

Next to Bran a tallish bundle of energy shuffled from one foot to another, his hands in fists. Rickon looked just like Robb did at the same age. Jon walked over to hug the boy. 

Rickon stiffened at the hug, not reciprocating the gesture at all. Jon moved back from him then, to place a hand on his shoulder, bending down slightly so that he was at eye level with the boy. “Hello, Rickon,” he said. “You’ve grown so much little brother.”

Rickon, looked at Bran. “Bran says you’re not our brother anymore,” he declared matter-of-factly. 

Before Jon could answer, Arya responded to Rickon. “He will always be our brother,” she insisted. Jumping off Bran’s sleigh and skipping toward Rickon before throwing herself upon him this time.

Jon moved to where Bran sat. His little brother, cousin, had a wise look in his eyes, as if he held the world’s secrets. Bran fully returned Jon’s hug, refusing to let go for a long while. When Jon looked over his shoulder he saw Rickon be just as terse with Arya. 

“I’m sorry for hugging you without permission,” she said apologetically. “Why didn’t I think of this? Maybe you don’t remember me, I’m your sister, Arya.”

“Bran said you used to play with me and give me sweets,” he replied, slightly more open. “I remember the sweets.”

Arya choked on a laugh between her tears. “ Well, now you’re home, maybe we can get to know each other,” she said. “Would you like that?”

Rickon nodded. 

Harwin and a groom came to collect the horses then. 

“Maybe you can tell me where you’ve been,” she said to Rickon as she stroked his shaggy unicorn. “I’ve never seen a horse like this before.”

“It’s a unicorn from Skagos,” he corrected her.

“Well, maybe you can tell me all about Skagos, I’d really like that,” Arya replied. 

For the first time since Jon saw Rickon again, the boy smiled. 

When Bran finally let Jon go, Jon took a close look at his brother. “You’re a man grown!” He all but exclaimed. Bran simply smiled. 

Their companions stepped forward then. 

The first was a girl; shorter than Arya, but closer to Jon in age. She was slim and had long brown hair, tied up in a ponytail. She had a long knife hung from her hip and a spear in one hand.

“This is my wife... Lady Meera Reed of Greywater Watch,” Bran offered.

Jon looked at Arya. She had the same look of befuddlement he presumed he had on his own face.

“Your what?!” Arya cried out. 

“My wife,” Bran said with a shit-eating smile on his face before both siblings burst into laughter. 

Arya moved to Meera then to give the girl a hug. “Welcome home, good sister,” she greeted. Meera returned the hug with a smile on her face. 

Arya turned back to Jon. The confusion still clear on her face. After their wordless conversation, Jon congratulated the couple. 

Laughing, Bran introduced their next guest. It had to be Jojen Reed. Lord Howland had told him previously that both his children had come to Winterfell during the harvest feast and had disappeared with Bran and Rickon.

“This is my friend and good-brother, Jojen Reed,” Bran announced. The boy had a slight build like all crannogmen Jon had met. He had a wisened look on his face, much like Bran’s.

When both Arya and Jon greeted the boy, Bran turned his attention to their third guest. A tall woman, dressed in furs, with a spear of her own in her hand. She looked like a woman of the free folk. 

“This is Osha, she looked after Rickon and I in Winterfell after everyone left.” There was no barb intended by Bran’s words but Jon felt guilty for not being there anyway. 

“When we left Winterfell, Ramsay Snow had taken the castle and killed the household staff the iron born hadn’t got to first. We found Maester Luwin dying when we emerged in the Godswood. He told us not to go to the same place, so Osha took Rickon back to her homeland in Skagos.”

They both greeted Osha. “Thank you,” Arya mouthed to the woman before introducing the boys to their uncle, the Blackfish. 

Jon realised the group had gotten themselves a little audience made up mainly of the household guards but a few lords and ladies who followed Jon out of the Great Hall. 

He turned his attentions to them.

“My lords!” he declared, “The rightful Lord of Winterfell, Brandon of House Stark has returned with his brother and heir Rickon Stark.” 

Arya joined him then. “I am sure you wish to meet your lords,” she added. “We will convene two nights time for a feast. For now please allow us to welcome our little brothers home in private my lords. In the meantime, you have the hospitality of Winterfell.” 

Shaggy and Summer ran to the Godswood the moment they were released from the confines of the sleigh. Meera wheeled Bran into the Great Keep while Arya went about getting rooms prepared, food readied and baths drawn for her brothers. It seemed command came easy to her. 

When Jon offered up the Lord of Winterfell’s rooms, Bran requested his childhood room. Mikken had hammered a row of iron bars into the wall, so Bran could pull himself about the room with his arms. Thankfully, Bran’s room was one of those that escaped the burning. 

Rickon asked for his old room as well and that was readied for him. 

Nymeria chose that moment to burst into the room making a beeline straight for Bran, licking his face. 

“She didn’t even greet me like that,” Jon accused. 

Nymeria looked at him, let out a whine, and lay her head in his lap. He scratched in between her ears until her tail wagged like a puppy’s. 

She then went up to Rickon to do the same. Rickon greeted Nymeria the most warmly of everyone he met that night.

Jojen, Meera and Osha were led to their rooms but Bran asked to stay longer to talk to Jon.

“Osha says I’m a man grown so I’m staying too,” Rickon insisted, arms folded, lips in a pout. 

“Of course.”

When they were alone, Jon spun round to Bran. 

“You’re married!”

“I suppose I beat you to it,” he said sheepishly. Before sobering up.“I saw what happened at the wedding.”

“Yes, Sansa left this morning… wait, what? You saw us?”

“I can explain another time.”

“Bran, what do you mean you saw us?”

“I’ve been watching you all for years. I’m a greenseer now. I spent the war in a cave beyond the Wall, learning how to greensee with the Children of the Forest.” As if it was the simplest thing in the world. 

“Why didn’t they tell me when they joined us during the war?” Jon asked.

“I didn’t think we’d ever see each other again so I thought it best that I didn’t give you hope,” Bran said dourly.

“I knew you weren’t dead,” Jon assured him. “I saw your wolf, in Queenscrown. It knew me so I told myself you couldn’t have been far. Why didn’t you come to me? I would have protected you!”

“I wanted to, but my destiny was elsewhere,” Bran replied.

Sensing he didn’t want to talk about it anymore, Jon turned his attention to Rickon. “And you Rickon? Where have you been all this time?”

“In Skagos,” he said curtly. 

“How did you find each other?”

”Bran spoke to me through the trees and Lord Howland came and got me.”

Before Jon could ask where Lord Howland Reed was, Arya came back in with Beth and a few serving girls. They placed a small feast on their father’s desk of hearty stew, tasty venison steak, bread, cheeses, blueberry tarts, lemon cakes and an assortment of drinks. 

Rickon dived straight in for the sweets. When he noticed the amused looks on everyone’s faces he spoke, both his cheeks full of tarts, “They don’t have sweets in Skagos!”

Everyone laughed. Arya most of all. Jon stole looks at her as her brothers ate. Her attention was solely on them. A wistful smile on her face. She exchanged barbs with Bran as if they were never separated. She even got chuckles out of Rickon when she mussed his hair this time. 

Jon chose that moment to step out of the room. No one even noticed. 

When he made his way to the ground floor of the Keep, the Blackfish fell into step with him. “It takes a man to do what you did,” he said.

Jon looked at him confused.

“You declared Bran the Lord of Winterfell when this is a position you’ve held for years. Most men would stake their claim on a castle they fought for,” the Blackfish clarified.

“It’s his rightful title,” Jon said. “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell. I am no Stark.” The words flowed from his lips but were painful to hear himself say.

The Blackfish chose that moment to bid him goodnight.

It was a breezy, spring-like night. Jon walked around the castle grounds, flexing his fingers, wondering about his place in the world. 

He felt constricted and made his way to the stables. Harwin had retired for the night as did most of the stable boys. Jon brushed his horse’s back taking care to remove any dirt that might chafe the courser as he rode. He found himself thinking of years ago when he’d brush his horse’s back and girth as a new brother of the Night’s Watch. He used to think he’d be at the Wall until he was as old as his, a few times, great uncle Aemon Targaryen. Suddenly, he found himself missing the man.

He positioned a blanket on the horse’s back before lifting the saddle on, as he thought of how differently his life panned out. Rather than spend his entire life in the coldness of the Wall, he became King in the North - the only place he knew for true. The only consolation he had after finding out he was a Targaryen, other than not being a bastard, was that he still got to stay in the North. Part of him still hoped Dany would have children of her own so Jon could live the rest of his life in Winterfell.

Now, with Bran and Rickon’s return, he was forced to think about his place in the world. Maester Aemon once told Jon he often spent his nights living with his ghosts, thinking of the time before he went to the Wall.

As he did up the cinch straps, Jon began thinking about his own journey. He went from bastard to Lord Commander, King and then Prince and lord but now as he walked through the quieted yard of his childhood home he found himself feeling like the bastard of Winterfell again, unsure of where his place in the world is.

My mother says you can never be Lord of Winterfell , Robb’s voice taunted him.  

As he helped the saddle settle, removing any wrinkles in the blanket, Jon remembered his dreams about the crypts. Of the cold Kings of Winter with their unwelcoming faces.

You are no Stark, he heard them mutter in his dream with their heavy granite voices. There is no place for you here. Go away…up above he heard drums. They are feasting in the Great Hall, but I am not welcome there. I am no Stark, and this is not my place.” 

He looked behind him to see the lights flickering from Lord Stark’s solar. The true Starks were inside, happy and laughing.

He had fought and bled for Winterfell but would that be enough to satisfy the old Kings of Winter now that true Starks returned? 

Seeing him, Ghost padded off to the gates ahead of him, Nymeria stalked behind him. 

As Jon began to ride off, he thought about his old dreams. Since he was a child he wanted to have some semblance of power but the pinnacle of his dreams was his home: Winterfell. Nothing more. I am the Lord of Winterfell! he’d shout in his dreams. Yet now, as then, he had no right to it against true born Starks. Bastard or not.

Where is my place in the world? he asked himself as he trotted aimlessly in the direction of the Wolfswood. Dragonstone? The home of the father I never knew? He had no real attachment to his Targaryen heritage nor to that volcanic island. While he enjoyed the dragons, Ghost was a more dependable companion. The dragons had never been the same after Euron Greyjoy. 

In two month’s time he would need to return to King’s Landing to negotiate with the Iron Bank. Was King’s Landing to become his home? Somehow he did not wish for it. 

Dany became a friend but he did not want to be at the centre of her rule. Sometimes, he found himself questioning her decisions and when he did, she would remind him that she is the stallion who mounts the world : the Khaleesi who united the Dothraki - a feat no man had achieved. “ I am the queen ,” she would remind him. “ I have conquered kingdoms and freed slaves.”

I’ve been a Lord Commander and a King, and I know this land better than you, he sometimes wanted to retort. You left Volantis, Mereen and every other city you conquered a burning mess . The dark part of him would even want to remind her that the Iron Throne was his by right. 

No , he couldn’t live in King’s Landing. The two of them could be family but he cannot imagine having to sit on her small council permanently. He didn’t think she’d want him there anyway. He didn’t miss how her visage changed whenever the Dornish made clear their preference for him over her. Even Jon was surprised at that after everything the Dornish had said about him before the wars. He also noted how she grimaced whenever Stormlords preferred to talk to the boy Eddard Stark raised over Mace Tyrell’s son or Aerys’ daughter. Sometimes, he thinks Daenerys made him Warden of the North simply to keep him away from her court. 

She asked him to marry Sansa, saying she was following in the footsteps of her ancestors Rhaenys and Alysanne in sewing up the kingdoms through marriage. But Jon knew she was aware of how that marriage would tie him to three kingdoms. He also knew of her undisclosed plans to check his power. He knew of her plan to foster Sansa’s son Robb. She would call it fostering but the boy would be a hostage. Not that she would harm the boy though. Daenerys was too kind to children to do that. Perhaps Sansa would even appreciate having closer ties to court. But that didn’t mean he didn’t recognise Daenerys’ drive to be the most important ruler in Westeros. 

He had no real issue with that. He has only ever known the North and he was content with it. And anyway every time he has had to step in, he has regretted it. Before the wedding, they had an argument about her conviction not to pay the Iron Bank for the debts of Robert and Cersei and Aegon before her. Why should I pay for the usurpers? she questioned. Jon had tried to explain to her how the Iron Bank always got it’s due. When they heard that the Night’s Watch was no more, they added his debt with them to the Crown’s as well. Dany would not hear of it. Let them come, she said. They wouldn’t be the first to threaten me. I will deal with them the same way I dealt with all those before them; with fire and blood. 

Now that Winterfell housed it’s true owners, Jon felt he had nowhere to belong. He felt alone. Suddenly, he thought of the day he found Ghost. They had collected all five pups and began riding off before Jon heard a noise and turned back to find Ghost. He used to think that as symbolic of himself. Ghost was all alone, apart from the others in the litter. He was different, so they drove him out, he thought. Yet as Nymeria darted ahead with Ghost following her to join their pack, he realised that Ghost was nothing like him. Ghost had a pack of his own because that’s who wolves are; pack animals. Who was Jon? Dragon or wolf? Or nothing at all? Perhaps he was a monster who should never have been brought back.

As if she could hear his thoughts, he heard Arya galloping her horse toward him. Shaggy and Summer trailing behind her. 

“I thought Summer and Shaggy should be with their pack,” she offered, breathless and, without prompting. “..and I wanted to ask what was wrong with you. So..” she grinned as if they had not spent nearly a decade apart, “are you going to tell me why you are being sullen?”

It took him a while to come clean but when he did she called him stupid. 

She moved her horse close to his so that their thighs touched. “You were a Stark to me even when you were a Snow turning out to be a Targaryen doesn’t change that. In any case,” she said hitting his shoulder playfully, “I can see you took my words to heart, the woman is important too.”

She pointed at the snarling dire wolf sewn into his cloak next to a half crest of the three headed dragon. 

“You’re still a Stark,” she assured him. “And now Bran and Rickon are back, our pack will be as complete. Father once told me the lone wolf dies but the pack survives. We are a pack, just as they are,” she said pointing to the playing direwolves.

“And Sansa?” he couldn’t help but ask.

She rolled her eyes in frustration. “She proved herself more lion than wolf.” 

She turned to look at him square in the eyes with conviction, “She made her choice Jon, I did not make it for her.” With that she rode on ahead from him.

“Will you ever forgive her?” he asked. They hadn’t had a real chance to truly talk of what happened at the wedding and with Bran home now Jon felt the need to be some form of conciliator as the eldest in their family. 

Arya’s question was scathing. “Will it bring back Hullen, Desmond, Syrio and everyone else who died that day?” She asked, tears forming in her eyes. 

Jon wished he hadn’t said something at all.

”I ran into a dead man, sprawled facedown on the steps as I was running from the red cloaks. He was wearing the grey wool cloak of the Stark guards. I didn’t even stop to see who it was. We lost a man that day and I don’t even know his name because I was too scared to look.” Her voice was thick with grief. 

“Arya, no one would blame you for being scared, anyone in your position would be terrified.” he said, trying to comfort her. 

Arya seemed aloof. As if she was seeing something he could not.

“When I found Desmond he had one dead Lannister man next to him. I was so angry. I kicked him, I called him a liar. He told me Northerners were worth ten Southron swords but he only killed one man. Desmond didn’t deserve that from me that day. I was so scared and angry and I hated myself for what I did. I hated myself for being so weak, for not saving Syrio or saving Hullen but she caused it. How can I forgive her if I can’t forgive myself?” She looked at Jon again with her tears flowing freely. 

Jon stopped his horse next to hers to hug her, awkwardly. 

“I’m not heartless,” she said, “I know she’s suffered but I don't have it in me to forgive. Is that so bad?”

She wiped her tears and raised her chin in the way she always did when she wanted to seem brave, “I remember the day I found out about the fall of Winterfell,” she snickered. “I was serving Roose Bolton. I had to try so hard not to cry because I didn’t want to give myself away. I didn’t even have a chance to truly mourn them and now they’re home!” She laughed heartily.

Jon told her of how he found out too. Of how he’d just escaped the wildlings when Maester Aemon gave him the news. “I hated Theon so much,” he said, “but in the end he didn’t resemble the boy we knew or even the man who had sacked Winterfell.”

They talked of so many things afterward. She told him of Harrenhal and the Mountain, how much she hated herself for not being able to help people when the Lannisters killed them. 

“You can’t save everyone, Arya,” he told her.

In turn,  she listened to his stories beyond the Wall: of Craster and the sons he gave to the Others, of Mance who had come to Winterfell twice without them knowing before dying in his mission to save her. They spoke about the people they lost as well: of Father and Robb and their household. He wanted to tell her about Lady Stoneheart but he didn’t know how to approach that conversation.

They finally stopped by a stream to sit on a huge rock under the leaves of an ironwood tree. The bright full moon was the only thing illuminating them as they listened to the soft trickle of water in front of them. For a winter night, the weather was mild but Jon knew just how easily the cold could creep up on you so he gathered some sticks, struck the flint with his dagger and struck sparks enough to start a fire to keep them warm. 

When he sat down, Arya placed her head on his shoulder. 

In the silence, he wondered how best to approach the subject of what they had done the previous night. As much as he enjoyed it, he felt like a true bastard for dishonouring her in that way. He spent his entire life trying to show people that he wasn’t the lecherous bastard people assumed him to be even after he was revealed to be the true born son of a prince and a lady. Sometimes, given the dark places his thoughts about Arya took him, he felt more like a lecherous bastard after he came back from the dead as a true-born, than he did when he was the base-born son of Eddard Stark. 

“Arya, I’m sorry for what happened between us. I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you in your distress,” he blurted. 

“I seem to recall me being the one who kissed you first, and then asked you to bed me,” she laughed. 

 “And I’m sorry for dishonouring you. I should have known better,” he continued. 

She narrowed her eyes. “Do you regret it?”

It was the best thing I ever did.

She sped on before he could formulate a reply. “Think nothing of it,” she said. “I’m sure it meant nothing. We were both upset and trying to find a distraction.” 

She started playing with her hands and began chewing her lip before stopping suddenly. She got up instead, to walk toward the stream. 

He looked at her dumbfounded. “A distraction? Is that what you think it was to me?” he asked incredulously.

“Is that not what it was?” she bit back. “You said you shouldn’t have done it.” 

“I said, I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you. I don’t regret laying with you as a man does his wife.” 

Jon stood up, walked up to her and turned her around. Bringing his hands to her face.“I think part of me has always wanted you,” he confessed. “You were the only person in the world who saw me for true and loved me anyway.”

Jon found himself thinking of the Old Bear then. ‘You must wash away your former loyalties, he said put aside old loves.’ Jon’s loyalties were tested many times. He thought back to when he began riding South to join Robb or the times he considered a future with Ygritte but it wasn’t until someone threatened Arya that Jon Snow broke his vows. ‘The things we love destroy us every time, lad. Remember that,’ the Old Bear told him. 

Jon had never been able to put aside his love for Arya and he couldn’t say that if she was ever threatened he wouldn’t risk certain death for her all over again. 

Wrapping his arm around her waist, he pulled her closer to him, both of them staring into the other’s eyes. “I told you, when Ramsay Bolton, thought I had you, he demanded I send you back to him. I want my bride back , he wrote.” 

Closing his eyes, the annoyance was still there all these years later. He sighed heavily. “I lost my mind at the thought of you in another man’s bed, Arya... especially one that might hurt you.”

He moved one hand to her loosely braided hair, enveloping her between his arms. Arya leaned into his touch. Her soft sigh, music to his ears. “Even then I’m not sure I knew that I wanted you for myself but I knew I had to get you back and bring you home to me,” he told her, moving even closer to her. Her dark eyes mirrors of his own. “Your place was to be by my side,” he whispered. 

“The last thing I saw in my mind’s eye as I was dying was us on the day I left for the wall; you raining down kisses on me. My last thought was stick them with the pointy end. You were rolling your eyes at me,” he smiled. 

She reciprocated. Tears in her eyes now as then. 

Looking at her, making sure she could see how serious he was, he continued. “I realised I loved you as a man loves a woman when I came back. I had to get you back. Ramsay called you his bride, but the monster in me wanted to make you mine. I killed him for sacking and burning our home, for everything he did to the North, but mainly for you. Sister or not, you were mine to protect, mayhaps back then I could accept you marrying someone who would be good to you but never him,” he growled, pulling her even closer to him. 

“And now?” she asked

Now. You are mine as I am yours,” he whispered against her lips, kissing her for true this time. Her mouth still had the honeyed taste of cider. She gasped into his mouth, pulling him closer to her.

When he had his fill of her,  at least enough to continue talking, “I don’t regret what I did with you,” he confessed. His forehead against hers. “I regret that I did it before marrying you. I don’t want to father a bastard. I spilled in you. I-“

She moved back from him at that and made a face. “You want to marry me?”

“More than anything and now Bran is back perhaps we could talk to him.” 

She pulled away from him entirely. “Don’t jape, I’m not fit to be the consort of a prince.”

“You are!” he insisted. Why couldn’t she see it? 

“But if you like I could give it up - we can live here or we can move wherever you like. Perhaps you can show me Braavos or any of the Free Cities. I can show you the lands beyond the Wall. It’s enough for me that you’ll be with me,” he said, hoping it would persuade her as he held her face again, searching her eyes. 

“I don’t believe your queen would like that,” she joked, rolling her eyes.

The serious look on Jon’s face didn’t shift at all. 

She moved out of his grip, again, “You were a betrothed man until yesterday Jon. It’s too soon to speak of this. Sansa only left this morning. She loved you and you must have loved her too, you were about to marry her-“

He interrupted her. “I told you before. I love you . I died for you and I came back for you . Marrying Sansa was a political decision or a brother supporting his sister. Arya…” he exhaled in frustration, closing his eyes, holding the bridge of his nose, “I told you what I feel for you. If you don’t feel the same way, just say so. I will -“

Before he could finish his sentence she marched back to him with that stubborn jut of her chin and a determined look in her eyes and swallowed his words in a kiss so deep he felt drunk.

Arya put her hand on his cheek, his lips parted in the sigh of a parched man, thirsty for her love. “Does it mean so much to you?” she asked. 

He could only nod.

She moved him back to the rock they sat on earlier. When he sat, she climbed on to his lap, her legs either side of him. Chest to chest, she began to grind herself against him, “What’s in a title?” she asked him, a cheeky glint in her eyes, reminiscent of the Arya of his childhood. 

“Brother. Friend. Cousin,” she punctuated each pause with a kiss up his neck each one closer to his lips. She had the manner of a seductress not at all like the girl of his childhood. “Lover.” she sighed against his lips. She ground herself slowly against him. His manhood ached to be released from it’s confines. 

Moving one hand to her tight arse and the other to enjoy the feel of her breast, “ Bride ,” he groaned against the lips of this woman who was both the sister of his childhood and the bride his dreams conjured up in their years apart. “I want you as my bride, Arya.” 

“I don’t like titles,” she insisted in return, biting his bottom lip.

“I will have you as a bride Arya,” he growled, eliciting  a delicious moan from her. Perhaps it was his words or the friction between them or his ministrations on her breast. He did not know. He did not care.

He was truly lost, but something, perhaps it was the memory of Eddard Stark’s honour, prompted him to stop her hand as she began to undo the laces of his breeches. “We can’t Arya, I don’t want to father a bastard.I cannot dishonour you again.” 

“I have moon tea,” she whispered against his ear, wrenching her hand free from his grip to continue undoing the laces of his black wool breeches.

“Have you used it?” He asked, distracted. 

“Not yet,” she growled, freeing him from his breeches. 

A dark part of him wanted to tell her not to use it but instead, “Arya, we can’t. Not here-“ he tried to convince her. “I have no desire to take you on a rock.”

“Your hard cock suggests otherwise,” she smirked.

“I didn’t finish,” he told her. “I want to lay you on my bed, as my wife, not upon a hard rock.” When he saw she was listening, he asked, “Will you marry me?”

She shushed him and moved off his lap to unlace her own breeches. 

“I changed into riding leathers because I thought they would be better for riding after you,” she said as she stripped down. “I should have kept my dress on. It was much more suited to the ride I have in mind now,” she smirked - all dark eyes and wickedness. His protests died on his lips when she began to move toward him. 

And later when she rode to her heart's content, she screamed out in a language he did not know as he spilled inside her. Again. 

She panted heavily against his neck as she came down from her high. His sword was still inside her. Still pulsating. Still filling her. Ecstasy. 

He looked up to see the moon and the stars were witnesses to their love. Jon decided they could be their roof. The soft ground beneath his feet could be their bed; the crackle of the fire, and the soft babble of the stream their companions. He realised then that this was home. Not Winterfell or Castle Black or some castles belonging to ancestors he never knew. Arya was home. Wherever he could be with her was home. 

As she moved off of him, his spend trickling down her thigh, Jon found himself wishing his seed would take root. Moon tea be damned. He wanted Arya to be his. His bride and the mother to the children he was always too scared to say he wanted. It was dishonourable to take her when they were not married. You could still marry her and make a true family...she didn’t say no! the boy he was when he left Winterfell protested. As they pulled up their breeches once more and Jon wrapped them both in the furs of his cloak, please take root he wished, give me pups .

Instead, “I love you,” he told her. 

They talked the night away afterward. Sat beside their fire, hand in hand - they’d removed their gloves. Arya’s head was on his shoulder as they watched the stars. Occasionally she’d raise his burned fingers to her lips to kiss them. She told him about funny stories of Braavos and of her time with the Brotherhood. 

In return he told her funny stories about his time with the Night’s watch 

He watched her as she laughed. The sound of her laughter still warmed him. I want her, he thought. For now and always. 

Later, at the hour of the wolf, Arya began nipping at his neck, moving her hand up his thigh, making sweet sounds as she buried her face in his neck. Jon, she said needily. Once. That was all it took to make him forget all notions of honour. 

As she stroked him in earnest, a hungry look in her eyes, panting, her wolf-blood called to his. What is honour compared to a woman’s love?

He dragged her up and turned her around so her back was to his chest. With one hand on her breast, holding her against him, and the other fumbling with the laces of her breeches, he found his way to her moist mound, baring his teeth against her neck. Nipping. Kissing. Licking. Claiming. She hissed at the contact. The faster he moved his fingers the louder her whimpers grew. “Jon, please, Jon-“ was all she could manage. 

Standing was proving difficult for her. He began to thrust into her clothed form from behind.

She could only mewl and pant and quiver, moaning his name. I did this. Her sweet, desperate, sounds drove him wild. “Let go for me Arya,” he whispered against her ear. “Love, please.” She shivered at that reaching behind her to grab his neck and bring his face down to hers, crashing him against her for a searing kiss, punctuated by her moans. When she stopped for air she had a desperate look in her hooded eyes. Her release was close he could tell so he moved faster, “That’s it my love,” he encouraged her. He realised he loved calling her his love. His. When it all got too much for her, she howled at the moon, collapsing against him.

But he wasn’t done with her. No. Not at all. As she panted like a bitch in heat, “Get on your hands and knees,” he growled against her ear. ”... Nymeria .” She hissed at that and turned to him to see the feral, hungry, look on his face. Like her wolf a few nights before her, she submitted. 

He made love to her in his bed the night before. In his mind, he imagined they were a man and his wife on their marriage bed. But this night...this night he would mount her under the moon. He was a wolf and so was she. 


As he entered her, somewhere in the distance, he heard wolves howl. He answered their call and as his thrusts grew wilder so did she.