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**

His true father, he's quickly gathered, has little appreciation for sleek finery; Boltons wear black beneath their badges and cloaks, and Roose looks like a thin old crow. Objects of quality have their use and their place, but his pains taken for mere decoration are few. But he's a lord, and could afford what his preferences pointed him toward.

(Ramsay Snow undresses in a hurry, fumbling at worn-out closures.)

Ramsay is going to be a lord as well; he wants to look like one. He wants to wear a pink cloak, not faded miller's gray. He wants to wear fine gloves. He wants to wear armor, beautiful and terrible and cunningly made. He wants to wear velvet and calfskin and scarlet satin. He wants a pink cloak lined with sables, and a slashed doublet embroidered like a flayed man's muscles. When he is Lord of the Dreadfort he'll have ruby rings on his fingers.

When he looked at Domeric he saw a suit of clothes that should have fit him instead. He hadn't been a handsome boy, Domeric Bolton, but he had his father's coloring, those same eyes. Mother had been beautiful, before long toil and the caring of Ramsay had ruined her; she had been so beautiful, and father had wanted her instantly.

She sees something of him in Ramsay's face, now that he's growing to manhood. Perhaps she wants him too -- some nights he's wondered, with the way she looks at him with a shiver when the day's done, and he's fancied taking her too for a jape. She hasn't been able to bear looking at him any more, not lately, but she knows just as well what he's owed.

He looks like his father, and his father is a handsome man, handsome like a good blade, it stands to reason...

He's never owned a good blade. He's a miller's boy with dirty fingernails and the only one to smile on him and call him a pretty well-made lad is Reek.

Roose knows him for his own, and that's all that matters. Lord Bolton strips off his fine cloth and lies him down on furs. He's soft to touch, so soft; his face is shaven smooth as a woman's, Ramsay wonders if his chest has been shaved as well. The room's too hot for Ramsay's comfort, which must be another privilege of Roose's station; there's not a draft constantly rattling through and even the smoke smells medicinal-sweet with herbs.

He wants to touch him, and so he lets him touch him. He scarcely has any smell at all, and it sets Ramsay's teeth on edge, even as he warms up readily to being admired. His mouth has scarcely any taste, too. The touch of his fingers is as insipid as water.

Lord Roose mouths at the earring he wears, draws it between his lips; he can feel the gold click against his teeth. (Ramsay had cut the hole in his earlobe with a hot needle; he tried first with just the earring alone, but it was too soft. The hole had bled more than he'd expected and stung, and he'd sworn appreciatively before hooking the wire through. Lordlings wear gold wherever they please.) He bites him on the neck, and Ramsay goes rigid like a bowstring under him, waiting for the teeth; but it's just a very nasty sucking kiss and he seems pleased by the reaction it elicits, until Ramsay breaks away, staring stupidly.

"Turn over," he says simply, "I don't care to have you looking at me."

Ramsay grumbles, but he does it.

When he's inside him, it's different being fucked than just being touched. It feels like you'd think it'd feel -- the oil stings for a second and then after that it goes easily. It seems like a stupid thing, bothering to make fucking not hurt when it stands to reason that rutting should, and he'd almost said as much, but his father's chilly hands had been between his buttocks, parting his legs, before he could object.

He has a businesslike way of fucking him, like it's hardly any pleasure at all or the pleasure should be all his, but the rhythm of his breathing is patient and even, there's no groaning and no sweet words whispered as if he were a maid eating cakes. It's wanting for a certain spice. Ramsay is alert for hostility, scenting the air for contempt, but he's not even giving him that.

Ramsay wants to give him good sport, but he doesn't know what that means, whether that means not whimpering and letting him stick him or giving him a good fight with scratches and kicks -- he knows what he likes, but he wants to get out of this with his skin still on him. He doesn't know what to make of it, tries to spur him into something by twisting against him and grabbing at his jutting hip, but he just presses his head down and rides him harder.

Ramsay is a sturdy boy, and his father's smooth gaunt hands pinch at him. His back is fever-damp with sweat, but Roose's skin is dry.

He pats him sharply like a horse when his attention wanders, when Ramsay gets bored and sinks down to rest his cheek against the spread-out furs. Ramsay snarls that he's taking too long and Roose leans in low beside him, voice so soft he practically has to prick up his ears like a dog to hear -- his cock still inside him, stuffing him up full, and Ramsay's stomach-turningly aware of the way it feels as his body shifts.

"You'll give me a good long service, or you'll be sorry your mother ever saw fit to nurse you."

He pulls on his long hair until he's crying from frustration and goes on fucking him til he bleeds, oil or no.

**

Ramsay dresses himself again, sticky and aching and with a pain in his head from the temperature. His bruised body feels impossibly light -- he feels drunken, no longer tearful, and full of satisfaction. Whatever he'd done, he'd done it well.

Roose lies atop the bedclothes, naked as the day he was born, ringed with leeching scars. His blade-pale eyes survey him bloodlessly.

"You gave better sport than your mother did, and came willingly, too. You might do, boy, in time."

"Yes, my lord." He tries to separate the sound into two parts, as clearly as he can, like pulling fingerbones apart -- my lord. My lord father.

He owes him so much, all for blood, but Ramsay is willing to start smaller. Father will give him a cloak, he'll send him a good sword, have him made a fine blade with a hook in it. He'll give him a cloak stitched from men's skins, a pair of gloves flayed from unwed girls' cheeks. This is his right.

**

Older now, and better-fed, Ramsay Bolton wears a garnet from his right ear like a drop of blood. There are kinder words than 'bastard', but while he is still and always Roose Bolton's son, by no means is he natural.