She stands to the side as her son is crowned and thinks of her husband, who should be standing beside her. Her husband, who should be the one with the crown upon his brow. But Ned Stark was never going to be a king; he only ever wanted to be a lord. She looks at her son, his head bowed. She thinks how like his father he is. A wolf. A wolf, with a little bit of trout in him. The Tully red in his hair glows from the sun overhead and she thinks of how it matches her own.
When he rises, his gaze does not go to any of his men, to any of the lords that surround him. His eyes seek out hers, they stare at each other. A gasp halts in her throat - her son looks more a man than he ever has. She has always told him he is handsome, the kind words of a mother to her son, but now, with his auburn curls burdened with a crown, his expression hopeful, his eyes burning into hers, she sees how truly handsome he is.
When it is all over, when the pomp of a crowning is done with, he retires to her tent; she's been waiting for him. She thinks, with a flush of shame that rises to her cheeks, that she wishes she had a new gown; something to impress her new king. But war is no time for anything new, and so she must settle for the worn cloth, fraying at the edges. But when he enters the tent, there is no doubt that he is impressed with the woman before him, her hair flowing down her back, loosed from its braid. He opens his mouth to speak, but no words come out.
Her eyes are trained to his lips, and she feels the tell-tale heat flow through her, immediately followed by regret, by shame, by worry. She has seen the Lannisters. She has heard tell of the Targaryens. No good can come of this, not really. But a voice inside prods her, reminding her she is past child-bearing age - what harm could it do. She is so lonely, she is so tired and worn, she fears the tatters of her life, and just once, she would like to remove the mantle of Ned Stark's widow and inhabit a different skin. He moves towards her, and she wishes she had the power to read minds, just this once. His eyes bore into her, his hands tangle with her long locks. She thinks it is a reminder to him, of simpler times, easier times.
But nothing is easy now, she tells herself, nothing is easy. And yet, when his mouth molds to hers, his hands gripping her arms, pulling her to stand, she thinks this is the simplest thing in the world. She pushes down the worry and the fear and the shame as her hands rise up to pull him closer to her. She fits against him; they are as one body, moving together. She thinks of how strange it is, for a son to return to his mother's body in this way. He pulls away, after several moments have passed, his eyes searching hers for any doubt. And, as any mother would, she erases it from his mind with a gentle hand cupping his cheek, a light finger brushing a lock of hair from his forehead.
His eyes soften as he hardens against her and she wonders how much of the stories she overheard him telling Theon were embellished lies, and how much was truth. Her hands snake between them, removing outer clothing, removing anything between them. His hands join hers, divesting her of her gown, her undergarments, savoring the feel of her skin, and she thinks of how long it's been since she's been worshiped this way. She is a goddess to him, she thinks. His mouth is on her neck, his teeth leaving marks, his tongue laving the pain away.
She pulls him to her bed, feeling his taut skin under her worn fingers, her eyes memorizing every part of his body; her hands learning the places she has not yet seen. She bites her lip to keep from screaming (she has not felt this full in months); she is startled to hear harsh begging come from her lips (please, please, pulling him tightly to her); and the satisfied sigh that follows (the shame follows too). But she feels alive, with this man, her son, next to her, panting and spent, his hands find their way into her hair again. He is fascinated with the strands, obsessed with the color. She doesn't have the heart to turn him from her bed, not yet; what woman would deny a king on the day of his crowning?
In the end, he leaves, his head bowed, his face hidden from her. She does not know what will happen between them, she fears their bond has been torn asunder by what they've done this night. A crowning comes but once in a lifetime, and she does not think he will return to her. As the tent flap closes behind him, her hand goes to her neck, feeling the bruises he left behind. A wolf always marks his territory, she thinks. She expects no less of her king.