Jon has his tent set up and a small fire going by the time Robb comes to call on him. He looks up at the sound of footfalls, does that thing that passes for a smile with him and goes back to honing his sword. He’s claimed a small clearing overlooked by oak and pine, off to the side of the main encampment, because that’s what Jon does. It’s not that he doesn’t get on with the men or shuns their company; no, nothing like that. He eats his meals by the common fires and drinks with Robb and his bannermen more often than not and takes it in stride if he ends up being the butt of a lewd joke. He’s just made it plain from the first he wants his solitude too - as much of it as a man can get in a war camp anyway - and that’s what the hours after supper are for.
Robb, ever crowded even in his own tent, can appreciate that, and once he’d realized Jon’s reticent moods don’t extend to him he started to look forward to those quiet in-between moments by firelight. He can’t get away with it every night but that only makes it more precious. No demands to listen to, no plans to make, no toadying to endure - no guards at his back - just Robb and Jon, sometimes trading lazy words, sometimes not, sometimes sharing a wineskin.
Robb steps over the log Jon’s perched on, smiling. Jon’s already done cleaning his ringmail, Robb can see it laid out at his booted feet. It’s black, a reminder to thank the gods for managing to pry him away from the Night’s Watch. The months Jon had been gone… Robb imagines that’s what it must feel like to lose a limb. You aren’t truly aware it’s there 'til it isn’t, and then you’re just – wretched.
He’d bullied the Lord Commander into letting Jon go, buttered him up by sending him men and a promise of unreserved support once the war was done. He’d meant it, too. He will take his army north soon as he can. The Old Bear got himself killed somewhere beyond the Wall and there’re disturbing reports trickling in, of wildlings moving south in numbers and other things, darker things Robb cannot quite credit but feels warrant a look all the same. The North is his: his home, his land. He will let nothing mar her.
He’d feared he’d have to bully Jon also but all it had taken was a quiet “I want you with me” and Jon had smiled in that restrained way he has, eyes mostly, and said, “As you will, Your Grace.” Robb had punched him in the shoulder, hard, and that had been that. He hadn’t let Robb make him a Stark in truth but they’d found Rickon by then, alive and well after all, so that had probably been for the best. Regardless, Stark or Snow, Robb’s grateful to have him back, and thinks Jon is – content, if nothing else. Happier than he’d have been wearing the black.
Robb sinks down on the log beside him, jostling Jon’s shoulder with his own. Jon puts aside sword and whetstone, stretches his legs in front of him, his thigh not quite pressed along Robb’s but close enough that Robb can feel the heat. Laughter floats toward them, faint, from somewhere in the main camp, a shout and a horse’s whinny, a jangle of reins. Robb can hear the direwolves, some ways outside of the circle of firelight; Grey Wind favors his brother’s company by night, too. He squints into the darkness to see what the wolves are up to.
“Would you look at that,” he says, horrified and fascinated at once. Jon’s head comes up at the tone. “On second thought, don’t,” Robb tells him but by then it’s too late. For a long silent moment they both stare, unable to turn away, until Robb says, in a small appalled voice, “What the fucking fuck are they doing,” and makes a heroic effort and drags his eyes over to the tree line.
“It looks to me,” Jon says blandly, “like Ghost is buggering Grey Wind.”
Robb glares. The hint of smugness in Jon’s tone is entirely inappropriate, far as he’s concerned. “Yes, thank you ever so much for the keen insight.”
“You made me look,” Jon accuses, and he’s still watching. In a minute he speaks again. “Ghost is really giving it to him.”
So of course Robb has to look. “Ghost needs to work on his aim,” he points out snidely. “He’s nowhere near - Ugh.” Even in the near-darkness there’s no missing the white striping Grey Wind’s darker fur, glistening wetly under the faint moonlight.
“Rude of him,” Jon says, dry as old bones.
Grey Wind seems to care not a whit. He shakes himself off and nips at Ghost’s ear and bounds toward the edge of the clearing, Ghost close on his heels, two shadows fading into blacker shadows beneath the trees.
Robb clears his throat. “That – ” he starts, screwing up his face in pained disgust. “I want to scrub my eyes with lye.”
“Oh, will you get over yourself.” Jon’s mouth is curling, like he’s trying not to laugh. “You’re just sore because it wasn’t the other way around.”
“Don’t be absurd,” Robb says, staring into the fire, fingers tapping on his thigh.
“Then why the fuss? It’s not like you haven’t seen hounds rut, or horses, or – ”
“One of those is usually a - girl.”
“A girl.” Jon isn’t rolling his eyes but it’s close, Robb’s not even looking at him and he knows. “A girl horse? Really? What are you, three?”
“A mare, then. Whatever.”
“Anyway, it’s not that different,” Jon says, and at Robb’s incredulous glance adds, too hastily, “so it would seem,” and makes a quick gesture in the direction the wolves had run off to. His head is bent down.
Robb watches him carefully, a low sinking feeling in his gut. “And you would know,” he says, slow and deliberate, “about - rutting.” Jon tries to hold his gaze and manages for a handful of moments before his eyes slide to the side. Something bitter settles in Robb’s chest. “Well,” he says, shrugging it off, “that’s what the whores are for.” They certainly don’t lack for those. What army does? There are droves of them around the camp.
Jon frowns. “What? No!” He swallows, very noticeably. “It was - before. Before I got here. Once only.” There’s a flash of color on his cheeks.
“You were on the Wall, for gods’ sake,” Robb says.
Jon nods, jaw set, though he still refuses to meet Robb’s gaze. “I broke my vows,” he says grimly.
Robb waves that away. He’d made Jon give up his oath, so what does this matter? “How did you even find a woman out there?” he asks, mostly to distract himself. He doesn’t particularly want the details.
“I never said,” Jon mutters, almost too soft to hear.
Robb doesn’t get it at first and then he does and for a time he’s speechless, his mouth opening and shutting a couple of times. “You didn’t,” he says at last, and cringes at how that comes out. Jon eyes him sidelong, a quick darting glance before he looks away again. “I don’t believe this,” Robb says, taking care to keep the quiver out of his voice this time.
He turns sideways on the log, straddling it. Their shadows loom grotesquely large, cast against the canvas of the tent. In the distance someone’s singing, loud and gleeful and out of tune, something about two septons and a she-goat. Other voices join in, well-soused.
“It was cold,” Jon says, staring down at his hands.
Robb runs a hand over his mouth. “Cold,” he says savagely. “Cold?” He has a sudden urge to reach out and grab Jon by his stupid fucking pale throat and shake him, like a hound with a rat. “That’s your reason? Because it was cold?”
“Yes, well, you’re not my keeper,” Jon snaps. His voice has gone low and hard, hands fisted tight in his lap. From defensive to angry in two seconds flat; that’s Jon all right. “You’ve no idea, no fucking idea what it was like up there. How really fucking cold and – and I thought it was for good - and - you were to wed the Frey girl, so don’t you dare look at me like that.” He swings to his feet, face still carefully averted, and storms off.
Robb hunches his shoulders against the night wind, lets his head slump down. He sure as hell hadn’t wanted a wife, and still doesn’t, and is glad he no longer has an obligation to the Freys; their treachery has freed him of that, at least. But for Jon to make it as though it had been for Robb’s personal gratification? He blows out an outraged breath, sets his shoulders and stomps toward Jon’s tent.
It’s too damn dark inside, the firelight from without not enough to see by, so he gnashes his teeth and goes out to fetch a brand, comes back in and lights a small oil lamp hanging from the crossbeam. A soft golden glow spills down.
There’s no cot, only a heap of furs for a bed and Jon’s sprawling on it, boots and all. He lifts his head slightly to try and glower Robb out of the tent and when that doesn’t work proceeds to ignore him.
“Once you’ve attempted to flay someone with a look you can’t pretend you haven’t seen them,” Robb tells him, exasperated.
Jon continues to stare at the canvass ceiling.
Robb has a vague sense he’s missing something but this is working nicely for him, he’s well on his way to a lovely towering temper fit and he’d as soon not be diverted. He crosses his arms over his chest. “It’s not like I wanted to wed her, you know, or anyone else for that matter. You think I enjoyed bargaining the rest of my life away so I could cross a bloody river?” His voice rises as he goes along. “You think I relish the idea of bedding some woman I’ll likely not have met until the wedding feast, when I’ve never even – ” he catches himself and breaks off because that’s going somewhere he doesn’t want it to, and wishes he’d have bitten his tongue sooner.
Jon shifts on his furs, laces his fingers behind his head. “Whyever not? That’s what the whores are for.”
“I rather like my pox-free existence, thank you,” Robb says with a scowl, far from thrilled to have his own words thrown back at him.
Jon snorts quietly.
“What?” Robb says, still cross.
Jon’s studying him from under his lashes. “You truly never?”
Robb opens his mouth and closes it, looks away and gives a small shake of his head. “There was this girl,” he says, feeling the need to vindicate himself at least somewhat, “Jeyne. Jeyne Westerling. Old House come on hard times, Lannisters’ bannermen. I ended up there when I took that arrow through the shoulder and she - Jeyne - she was looking after me. She was – kind. And pretty. And, well, she – liked me.”
“There was, ah, kissing. Lots of kissing.” Robb shifts uneasily at Jon’s narrow-eyed look. “She was in my bed.” He rubs the back of his neck, blushing at the memory. By the end of it she’d been wearing nothing but a thin linen shift and he’d been going hot and cold by turns with the last traces of fever and the unwelcome, absolute knowledge it wasn’t her he wanted.
“So what on earth stopped you?” Jon asks, rolling onto his side and leaning on an elbow.
Robb looks over at him, at his face, taut and closed-off, hair falling into his eyes, at the tense line of his mouth, pulled down at the corners, and wonders if he should just tell him why he hadn’t bedded the pretty half-naked Jeyne. In the end he can’t bring himself to do it; it’d be all kinds of soppy and ridiculous and he’s not a bloody girl. But he’s so damn tired of wanting, and he takes three steps and kneels down, awkward in his armor. Jon's slight frown is more confusion than anything else. “Why can’t you have a godsdamn bed like the rest of us,” Robb says, catches Jon’s face in his hands and kisses him.
Jon’s lips part at the press of his tongue and Robb winds a hand into his hair, tilts his head to fit their mouths together better and holds him still. Jon sighs, tongue sliding soft and cautious along Robb’s, like he’s afraid Robb might run away, and Robb pushes him flat onto his back without taking his mouth off him, swings one leg over Jon’s thighs and doesn’t let him go until there’s no air to breathe.
When he finally pulls away for a gasp, catching himself on one arm, unsteady, Jon pushes up on his elbows beneath him. His eyes are wide and very dark and his mouth is half open and smeared pink, kiss-swollen.
“That’s what,” Robb tells him, breathless, because he can now. His heart is thudding crazily and he has no idea why he’d waited so long in the first place and he’s already leaning down again.
This time Jon meets him halfway, hungry welcoming kisses with tongue, sweet and messy. His hands are shaky but determined as he works Robb’s armor off, undoing the buckles, shoving the heavy pauldrons over Robb’s shoulders, pulling back with a scrape of teeth to heave the mail off onto the ground and ducking his head to lick a line down Robb’s throat, nipping sharply when Robb gasps and arches his neck.
They wrestle free of their of clothing, a mad fumbling rush with their legs tangled up, not wanting to slow down or wait, unable to think beyond skin on skin, and afterward it’s Robb sprawled on his back and Jon braced up above him on his hands and knees. Robb’s got his hand wrapped around Jon’s cock, stroking, a little clumsy because the angle is odd, watching Jon’s face go soft and then tense. "I want – gods, Robb, I want - " It’s more breath than voice and Jon’s head is thrown back, jaw clenching, urgent. His hips are flexing, shoving his cock into Robb’s fist, but his fingers close on Robb’s wrist with bruising force.
Robb pauses, bemused, and Jon falls forward and catches his mouth again, stretches over him, one leg sliding between Robb’s. After that they aren’t so much kissing as breathing into each other’s mouths, cocks rubbing together, against bellies and thighs, slick with sweat and precome, fingers slipping on damp skin, frantic, until Robb bucks up sharply and chokes on a wail, coming, with one hand pressed to the small of Jon’s back and the other in a death grip around his hip. His cock is still jerking against Jon’s with the last of it when Jon starts shuddering like he’s about to fall apart, gasping “Robb – Robb,” clutches desperately at him and spends all over him, face buried in the curve of Robb’s neck.
Jon stays where he is, a limp boneless weight atop of Robb, heavy as fuck for all that he’s lean. After a while Robb struggles feebly beneath him and Jon makes a low complaining noise but slides off to the side. Robb doesn’t move. He can’t move. It’s like his bones have been hollowed out and also he doesn’t seem to remember how to breathe.
“Gods, oh gods,” Jon murmurs. His head is resting on Robb’s shoulder, one leg thrown over Robb’s thighs. “Look what a mess you’ve made.” His lips curve in a smile against Robb’s skin, fingers sliding lazily through the come on Robb’s belly, hand spreading wide as it moves lower to cup his cock, proprietary, and it shouldn’t be possible, it’s too soon, but Robb feels himself stir.
He opens his eyes a sliver and gets a glimpse of his own skin, sweat-slick and streaked with come. “Me?” and he has to say it, it can’t be helped, “Your aim’s no better than Ghost’s.” Laughter bubbles up in his throat and once he starts he can’t stop, keeps on laughing for the sheer joy of it, his heart lighter than he can remember in a long, long while.
Jon bites him halfheartedly, raises his head to give him a wounded look but his eyes are soft and his mouth is quirking, full and lush and bruised like a ripe fruit. Robb reels him back in, tightens his hold to get him into a headlock when Jon tries to squirm free. He’s still laughing, though, and Jon wrenches away with insulting ease, brushes a kiss against Robb’s lips as he flattens him to the furs, pressing their foreheads together. He’s laughing too, Robb can feel him shaking with it, and it occurs to him that he can’t recall the last time he’d heard Jon laugh like this, easy and unreserved. Robb’s got stubble burn on the edge of his jaw, he’s a filthy mess, skin getting tacky with drying sweat and seed, there’s a knee digging into his side, and he’s never had a more perfect moment in his life.