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hold me still bury my heart on the cold

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Ghosts visit you so often that you have almost become accustomed to them. They come and go as they please, the sick figments of your imagination. Your father (the true one and the one who kept you hostage in the far North, sometimes even blended in one person), Asha, your brothers who liked to torture you so much (but are nothing compared to Ramsey), the miller's wife, the two boys who were supposed to be Bran and Rickon but weren't. Black crows and wild wolves. You grew accustomed to them.

But when you see Robb for the first time, you scream. A short, ragged cry.

Not him, you think, please, gods, anyone but him. Take more fingers, take even my whole hand. Just make him go.

But Robb still stands in the doorway, a step inside the cell, and just looks at you. Looks at you in such a way that you cannot bear his gaze. Hate, that you could understand. After all, Robb has (had? would have?) many reasons to hate you. You betrayed him, destroyed everything he loved (no, it's not true, lies, lies, all lies, some part of your mind screams, but you ignore it). You deserve to be punished in the worst way imaginable. You desire to be punished, to be cleansed to the bones by the one you have hurt so deep. I should have died with him.

Robb moves towards you and you silently release a breath you didn't even know you were holding. Maybe all of it will end, finally, maybe you will be able to do your penance. You lower your head, waiting for a blow. That never comes.

The hand you feel on your neck is worse than any sword could have ever been.

You jerk back, your head colliding painfully with cold wall. But Robb's hand is still there, squeezing your neck, moving under your chin and making you - no, no, please no - look up.

Into eyes full of such pain that even the merest glance at them makes you flinch. Pain, pure and deep. Heart-wrenching sadness. See, they seem to say, see what you did to me. See what I had to endure. See how I suffer. And all of this because of you. But I still, I still--

They shouldn't look at you like this, they have no right, you are not worthy, how can he?

These eyes hypnotize you, devour you, leave you hollow, unable to move, when Robb brings his face nearer and whispers.

And then he is gone.

---

He comes back after some time. You aren't able to tell how long he was gone, the concept of days and hours and minutes long forgotten by you.

He looks at you softly, with compassion, and moves to sit by you. You try to move away, but the tired half-smile that appears on his face stops you. Robb plops down with a sigh and rests his head on the wall, next to yours, almost touching you but not quite yet. He seems solid and warm. He seems so real that you much be losing his mind, because there is no way Robb is really here.

Then Robb turns to you, taking in your whole figure, a slight frown on his face. You feel as his gaze stops on the bloodied hand, and shift uneasily to hide it. Today Ramsey took your second finger, just to remind you who you are and where is your place.

Calloused fingers grasp your hand so fast you couldn't even see the move; let alone escape it. Robb's touch is light, cautious, as if he didn't want to cause you more pain.

"You shouldn't do this," you whisper. "You shouldn't be like this. You shouldn't look at me like this, you can't, you can't. You need to punish me, to take your revenge. Take it, please. Please. It is yours, it's all yours."

Robb still looks at your hands when he finally speaks.

"I don't want you to suffer." His voice is tender, but it still resonates in the cell, making your head sway, because how can he say such things.

"You are not real." You can hear a tremor in your voice. "You are not real, you are not real, please, oh please--"

You don't know what it is you beg for, but what you get is a kiss. A kiss that starts slowly, lightly, and then turns wild, tongue inside your mouth, touching the places where your teeth used to be, licking the copper blood from your bleeding gums.

Robb have always kissed you like there was no tomorrow, like he wanted to eat you alive, always in a hurry, always impatient. It's no different now.

You feel a crazy laugh building up in your throat. You knew losing your mind is only a matter of time; however, not even in your wildest dreams, did you imagine it will happen like this.

---

You know it can't be true. Robb is dead. You are locked in this godforsaken place, waiting for an end.

This doesn't stop you from moaning when he touches you, hands sliding down your body, gripping your cock and tugging at it, in the exactly same manner as he did countless times in the past.

It doesn't matter what he is. What matters is that he just is, that he came to you, that he stays with you.

You kiss the horrid, still half-open gash on his throat when he cries out, shuddering and sinking his nails into your arms, breaking the skin, breaking you, shattering into pieces.

He should kill you, not make you feel alive.

---

He is there every time they skin you. You can feel his eyes burning holes into your back.

He is there when they take your manhood.

He stands on guard. He watches.

"I don't want you to suffer," he tells you solemnly afterwards and brushes your filthy hair from your forehead.

And, damn you, you believe him.

---

When you ride to Winterfell, he is just beside you.

Seeing the castle, you can't help but remember the times you spend together in here; it seems a lifetime away. You used to slip out to the Godswood, shadows covering your tracks, and exchange hot and hurried kisses on the cold snow. His hands roamed freely on your then-unblemished body, wringing high kneeing noises from your mouth.

"I didn't kill them," you mumble. "I didn't kill them Robb."

He doesn't say anything, but in his gentle eyes you see unshed tears.

---

Maybe it's the worst punishment: understanding that he's not there, but seeing him just before you. Hearing the words he whispers, feeling his touch and dreaming. Daring to dream about the future you will share. Robb on the throne, a true King of North, strong and wise and compassionate. And you at his side, ready to counsel him and to aid him in any way you can. Days full of gladly fulfilled duties and nights full of desire and sweet promises.

It's so easy to believe in all of this when he's near you.

---

"You are my king," you say to him, holding his head in your skinned hands. Your blood doesn't leave imprints on his cheeks, though it very well should, for it is flowing from open wounds. "I should have known."

"I don't want you to suffer," he replies and his words carry such a sweet weight.

He seems frustrated, like he wants to say something else, something more important, and it angers him that he can't.

You are truly made for one another, for you have never been able to say these words either. No matter how much you wanted to.

---

You meet your death in the depths of winter, far in the North, surrounded by cold snow. You think this is the end.

It is not.

He is the first thing you see when you open your eyes again. He stands above you, head held high, a purple, rotten gash visible on his sickly white skin. He holds Grey Wind's head under his left arm, his right hand resting on the hilt of his sword. His crown, the crown you knew so well, sits on his head.

You drink his picture. You revel in him.

He doesn't speak, only looks at you so hard that a your body thrashes with a vicious shiver. But his face, oh his face, it clearly says that the time has come. You go to war.

You will finally be able to serve your king. You can't possibly phantom a greater joy than this.

You stand up and join the long column of the Others. There are hundreds, thousands of you.

This is how your victory march to the South begins.

A new world is born.