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all things unexpected

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Roslin had been raised with the Faith of the Seven, but she weds Jon Snow in the cold, windswept godswood at the Twins, the sky bright blue and clear above the heavy canopy of trees, the leaves casting soft, dappled shadows that dance around her feet.

"I am from the North," Jon insists quietly, his voice firm despite Catelyn's glares and the Septon's frowns and her lord father's raspy, bitter complaints about baseborn savagery. Roslin sees trouble in the stubborn line of Jon's jaw, the same misplaced sense of pride that had caused Robb to break faith with her family in the first place; Robb laughs and claps Jon on the shoulder, an easy gesture of friendship between brothers, and Jon relaxes slightly, smiles for the first time since Roslin had been presented to him.

The marriage cloak Jon gives her is white and grey, and it bears the direwolf of House Stark, for he is a Stark now, if only a legitimized bastard. He barely looks at her as he leans in to kiss her, his lips warm and dry against hers, his hands curled stiffly at his sides, and the nervousness fluttering in Roslin's stomach quickly sours into disappointment. She has often dreamed of her wedding day, of the lord or knight who would take her away from her narrow life at the Twins, but it is plain that Jon feels nothing for her; he is merely doing is duty to his king, absolving his brother's missteps, is perhaps even less pleased with this hasty arrangement that she.

"My lady," Jon says, offering his arm. He looks at her then, his face closed and uncertain, and Roslin curls her hand in his sleeve, her chest tight as he guides her down the rocky path that leads back to the keep.

They feast in the cavernous Main Hall, crowding in around long tables draped in House Frey's blue and grey, but Roslin has no appetite, can scarcely hold down the bile curdled on the back of her tongue. She accepts the portions Jon offers her, forcing a thin smile as she pushes the food around her plate; she uses Jon's silence to study the people her father has sold her to, hiding her quick, anxious glances behind small sips of wine. They seem strange to her, these Northern men, loud and drunken and coarse, their hair long and their voices harsh and their clothing simple and rough -- even Robb, who they call their king, wears leather and wool rather than velvet and silks.

"What is it like, in the North?" she asks suddenly, driven by curiosity, by the wine thrumming warmly under her skin. Her family had told her that the North is a frozen wasteland, that Winterfell is a bleak and terrible place carved from snow and ice, but she doesn't think it could be any worse than the Twins, where she is just one of five unwanted daughters, another of the hundred children her lord father cares nothing about.

Jon stares at her for a moment, as if startled by the sound of her voice. He bears no resemblance to the king, for all that they are half-brothers, but he is handsome all the same, dark hair and grey eyes and a full, soft mouth, far more handsome than the last match her lord father had tried to arrange -- a gruff minor lord from the Westerlands who had been once widowed and nearly twice her age.

"The North is beautiful, my lady," he replies finally. "Beautiful and cold. I miss it every day I am gone."

Roslin's stomach knots when her brothers call for the bedding, twists in a way that makes her regret drinking so much wine. The men are fairly gentle with her, leaving her in her thin silk shift, the neck unlaced but the fabric still clinging to her shoulders, but the ladies take their time with Jon, shouting and laughing, teasing him crudely as they strip him to his skin. One of them catches Jon's arm as he starts to close the door, the woman Roslin has heard fights in the king's army; she is almost as tall as Jon, her long hair twisted into a heavy braid, and the words she whispers in Jon's ear make bright spots of color bloom on his cheeks.

He laughs under his breath, rubbing his hand over his face, biting his lip when he finds Roslin watching him. "Forgive me. Dacey was only -- she thought to give me some advice."

"Do you require it?" she asks, honestly curious. Jon is young, no older than her, but she knows armies draw whores and camp followers like stables draw flies.

"Yes," he admits, his face flushing darker. "I haven't -- I was a man of the Night's Watch, before Robb brought me south."

"I thought men served at the Wall for life."

Jon's mouth twitches slightly, not quite a smile. "They do, unless their brothers are kings." He takes a cautious step closer, his head tilted to the side. He is well-built, strong through the chest and arms, and he is hard already, his cock curving up toward his belly. "Robb sent the Watch weapons and horses and nearly a hundred men. They needed all that far more than they needed me."

Roslin shivers, perhaps from the low rumble of his voice, perhaps from the chill, the bed chamber far too large for the already dying fire. Her shift slides away from her shoulders, slipping down past her waist before she can catch it; her nipples pebble in the cool air, and Jon makes a soft noise in the back of this throat, brushes a shaking, hesitant hand up her side.

"You are beautiful," he says quietly, skimming his fingers over her breast, brushing his thumb along the hollow of her throat.

The bed is an ancient thing, carved from dark wood as old as the stones used to build the Twins, and it creaks loudly as Jon climbs onto it, as Roslin stretches back into the furs, spreading her legs as far as her Septa had told her was decent. She closes her eyes, holding her breath as she waits for the pain she knows will come, gasping in surprise when Jon kisses her instead, stroking his hand over her cheek as he presses his lips to hers. It's very strange at first, his tongue in her mouth, his beard rasping against her skin, his fingers carefully threading into her hair, but it also feels surprisingly good, makes a slow, curious heat curl inside her belly.

She gasps again as Jon dips his hand between her legs, her breath catching in her throat, her hips twisting toward him and away from him at once. Her Septa had warned her not to expect such things, had called it vulgar, had said proper men think a woman's sex ugly or untidy, but Jon moans against her jaw when he finds her wet, his mouth panting and open, his cock pressing into her hip, and after a few light, hesitant touches his fingers brush over a spot that makes her body tense and shake. He rubs her there, carefully at first, then harder once she whimpers and arches into his hand; he drags his mouth down to her breast, his tongue curling as he pulls her nipple into his mouth, strokes her with his fingers until she shudders and clutches at his arm.

It hurts when Jon finally enters her, the pain brief but sharp; he pushes inside her slowly, his face hidden in the curve of her neck, and he stops when she hisses, when she bites her lips and digs her fingernails into his shoulders, holds himself still until she urges him to move, murmuring his name and canting her hips. He kisses her again, then leans up and curls his hands at her waist; he spends after a handful of short, uneven thrusts, his hair sweeping into his face and his mouth pressed to the skin between her breasts.

"Roslin," he says, brushing his hand through her hair. "Did I -- are you well?"

"I am fine," she replies, curling up against his side.

He takes her again in the morning, pulling her on top of him while the sky is still heavy and dark, his eyes wide and his face soft as she slides down onto his cock, as he thrusts up into her, as he runs his hands up her sides, traces his fingers over her breasts. He spends quickly, twisting under her before the heat beneath her skin has time to gather and flare; he brings her to peak with his fingers, touching her harder and faster than he had the night before, telling her she's lovely as she starts to shudder and gasp.

The sun is high and bright above the Twins by the time the king's party is ready to march; Roslin stands beside Catelyn in the yard, watches Jon ride off to fight the Ironborn with a sour knot in her throat and a slow ache between her legs, feeling small and scared and confused.

"Do not fear, my lady," Ser Wendel Manderly says, huffing and sweating as he climbs into his saddle. "Your husband is well protected. The King's love for his brother is fierce; his guards watch Lord Jon as closely as they watch him."

The journey to White Harbor is long and hard, the Kingsroad pushing through the thick marshes of the Neck, then winding between the sparse flint hills that edge the coastline. Roslin realizes she is with child just a few days before they are meant to arrive; her moon blood has never been regular, but the sudden tenderness in her breasts is unmistakable, as is the constant, sickly twist in her belly, worsened by the humid winds and the rough rise and fall of her horse's gait. Catelyn soothes her when she retches, holding her hair and rubbing soft circles on her back, and she orders the men to boil turnips into tasteless mush, the only thing bland enough for Roslin to stomach, but Roslin does not miss the edge to Catelyn's voice nor the sour set of Catelyn's mouth.

She avoids Catelyn as best she can once they reach White Harbor; she keeps to her chambers, takes walks in the godswood, prays in the Sept when she knows Catelyn is elsewhere, stands on the rocky beach below the keep, watching seagulls wheel across the clear blue sky as the tide ebbs in around her ankles, her bare feet sinking into the wet sand. Catelyn is courteous at meals, and she smiles when she passes Roslin in the halls, but Roslin has heard the servant girls gossip about the latest news from Riverrun, knows that the king failed to leave Jeyne Westerling with child.

Yet it is Catelyn who comforts her when she is seven moons gone and crying in the Sept, her shoulders hunched and shaking, frustrated by constant exhaustion and the ungainly feel of her swelling body, by the dull, insistent ache in her chest she cannot seem to chase away.

"Are you unwell, child?" she asks, sitting beside Roslin on the bench, laying a careful hand on Roslin's back.

"No. I am just -- it's the babe," Roslin replies quietly, her eyes puffy and burning. "Everything makes me weep. This morning I cried because my bath water was cold."

Catelyn laughs softly, tucks a strand of Roslin's hair behind her ear. "I was much the same. Moreso with Robb and Sansa, before I knew what to expect. Are you lonely for the Twins?"

"No," Roslin says, shaking her head. "I was never happy there. It was too loud and too crowded -- too many of us in one place."

Catelyn is silent for a moment, the statue of the Mother casting a sharp shadow across her face. "You are lonely for Jon."

"I don't know," Roslin admits, ready to cry again, another knot buidling in her throat, sour at the back of her tongue. "I scarcely know him."

"My Ned was no less a stranger when I married him," Catelyn says, her voice slow and careful. "It is not an easy thing, to send a man into battle after you've lain with him."

Roslin takes a short, shaky breath, rubs her eyes with the heels of her hands. "How did you bear it?"

"It was my duty to bear it," Catelyn replies softly. She rises from the bench and offers Roslin her arm. "Come, child. We should visit the Warrior. You can pray for your husband, and I can pray for my son."

Roslin's labor starts while Jon is still battling in the south, leading the forces set on pushing the Ironborn from Deepwood Motte. The pain is searing and endless, wracking her body in sharp waves she feels in her legs and back as well as her womb; she screams until she is hoarse and raw, her hands shaking as she clutches at the sweaty linens, her lips cracked and dry, bleeding from the constant press of her teeth. White Harbor's maester is a kindly old man, short and stooped with wispy hair the same grey as his robe, and he holds her hand through each pain, does his best to soothe her with words and herbs.

"I'm sorry," she pants thickly, when Catelyn comes to her in the evening, holding fresh cloths and a cup of honeyed water. "I had hoped not to disturb you."

"Hush, child," she replies, taking Roslin's hand as she sits in the chair beside the bed. "No woman should bear this burden alone. I had my sister with me, when Robb was born."

The babe comes the next afternoon, a squalling and pink-faced boy the old maester declares healthy and perfect. Roslin holds him in the crook of her arm, sitting up against a mound of pillows pushed behind her back; she is too worn and exhausted to do anything but stare at him, can only trace her fingertips over his delicate cheeks and nose, fold his tiny hands inside her own, kiss the top of his head, pressing her lips to his soft dusting of dark hair.

She carries him to the Sept as soon as her feet are steady enough, names him Brandon in the shining light of the Seven, the Septon placing a drop of oil on his forehead as the colors from the crystal dance across his face. Brandon is an old Stark name -- perhaps the first Stark name -- and Roslin likes the sound of it, thinks Jon will like it as well.

Jon arrives at White Harbor two moons after Brandon's birth, riding into the yard on the heels of a rainstorm, the sky still heavy and dark and the dirt churned into mud. Roslin is napping when he comes to her chambers, her hair unbound and her shift still unlaced from Brandon's last feeding; she wakes to find Jon sitting beside her on the bed, still dressed in his leathers with travel dust streaking his hands and face. He looks tired, thinner than she remembers, has a long, white scar framing the side of his face.

"I just saw my son," Jon says softly, his voice threaded with wonder.

Roslin shifts closer to him, slides her hand over his. "I named him Brandon. I hope that pleases you."

"It is perfect," he says, moving to kneel between her legs. "He is perfect."

He brushes his hands over her knees, skims them up over her thighs; she bites her lip as he pushes her shift up past her waist, aware that her body is softer than it was when he last saw it, afraid he might mislike the silvery lines that now curve over her belly, but runs his hands over them, traces each one with the tip of his finger, then presses a light kiss to the skin below her navel, another to the brown hair curling around her sex. She gasps sharply, twisting under him and closing her legs on instinct, but he pins her to the bed by her hip, and he draws his fingers over her, then dips down and touches her with his tongue.

"Jon," she says uncertainly.

He leans closer to her, his beard rough against her thighs as he presses his mouth to her again, as he licks into her with slow curls of his tongue, and she can't stop the noise she makes, sharp and startled and desperate, her breath hitching in the back of her throat. Her hips twitch up off the bed, eager and wanton in a way that should shame her; this kind of thing isn't done, only happens in the stories she had heard about her half-sister Ami, but Jon is moaning against her, pushing her legs farther apart, working his hands underneath her to pull her closer, and it feels so shockingly, impossibly good, heat twisting in her belly, rushing under her skin. He drags his mouth up to the top of her sex, sliding a slow, wet kiss over her nub, and she knots her hand in his hair, her back arching as her thighs start to shake.

Jon kisses the crease of her thigh when she tugs on his hair, then shifts up to lie beside her, wrapping his arm around her shoulder and pulling her against his chest. His cock is hard, curving against the front of his breeches, but he makes no move to unlace himself, just brushes his fingers through her hair as she catches her breath.

"How soon can you pack your things?" he asks.

"Tonight, if you wanted," Roslin replies. She hadn't brought much with her, just a handful of dresses and a few pieces of jewelry. "Where would we go?"

"Robb has retaken Winterfell," Jon says, stroking his hand over her cheek. "I would like to bring you home."