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In the North

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The wildlings came down on them in the middle of the night. The watch sounded no alarm; Sid would never know what had happened to them. Something extinguished the fire, and then it was a mad scramble in the dark, and voices screaming all around him. A torch flared. A wildling came at him, swinging a mace, and Sid rolled and kicked and somehow found a scabbard in the churned-up snow and drew steel, and lifted the blade in time to meet the blow of the mace as it fell.

His only thought was survival. The next moment, the next parry. There were too many wildlings, and Sid’s sworn brothers were dead or fighting their own desperate battles. He killed the man in front of him, but then there were three more behind him, dragging him down into the snow.

“Southern piece of shit,” one of them said, and spat in his face. A sudden, searing pain tore through his belly, and he cried out. After that was only darkness.

He woke to snow. Cold flakes fell on his face and his eyelashes, making him blink. He was in a blizzard; he could see nothing but snowflakes and blank, unrelenting gray. No: he was lying down; he was facing the sky. He was being dragged on a sledge.

A face appeared, a woman, a wildling, staring down at him. She said nothing. A sharp jostle sent a wave of hot pain rolling through him, followed by lurching nausea. He lost consciousness again.

When he woke next, he was indoors, in a great hall of some sort, the smoke-stained rafters above barely visible in the dim firelight. The pain in his belly was a deep, searing throb. He held very still as he took stock. Heavy furs lay over him. He moved one trembling hand to his midsection and found the edges of a bandage. So: they hoped he would live.

He lay for some time in the dark. It could have been midnight or noon. The hall was quiet aside from the faint sound of the hearth crackling. He slept.

He woke again when a hand jerked the furs from him. The sudden chill of the air made Sid gasp and flinch, and then gasp again as the movement jostled his wound. He was naked beneath the furs, and was now exposed to the critical gaze of the three people standing above his pallet.

“Don’t move,” one of them snapped, her words accented but perfectly intelligible.

No chance of that. He doubted he would even be able to turn onto his side. He nodded anyway, to show that he understood. A dead man was no use to anyone. A live one could bide his time and escape.

He understood nothing of the conversation that ensued. They spoke a language he didn’t know. He watched their faces and their hands moving: the woman gesturing at him repeatedly, the old man shrugging and shaking his head. The third man—

The third man said nothing. His eyes were cool and amused on Sid’s body and his face. Sid watched him in return, curious about the man’s height and the subtle humor in his expression. The entire circumference of his left ear was ringed with tiny gold hoops. He wore a fur draped over his shoulders, and when he turned aside to look at someone coming into the hall, Sid saw the bear head sagging down his back, like the hood of a cape.

“Malkin,” Sid said. It could be no one else. The Bear King.

“Don’t speak!” the woman said sharply.

Malkin laughed. He said something to the old man and tilted his head in Sid’s direction. The man crouched and pulled the furs back into place over Sid’s body.

“Sleep,” the old man said.

+ + +

Two men came to move his pallet. Not far: only to the hearth at the front of the hall, near where the Bear King’s wooden throne sat on a low dais. They were careful with him, but still the pain was bad enough to make him wish, for a few moments, that he had died with his brothers by the campfire.

He didn’t want to die. He had lived this long; he would live to find his freedom, and to see Castle Black again.

The woman was a physician, or what passed for one beyond the Wall. She checked on Sid multiple times a day and was brisk and efficient when she changed his dressing, but seemed displeased by his refusal to die. “I think you live,” she told him with disgust, a few days in, when his wound hadn’t begun to stink or ooze.

“Thank you,” he said.

He took weeks to heal. The doctor was ruthless about getting him up as soon as he could to make him walk to the privy, no doubt at least in part for her own benefit, but he was too weak to go far, and exertion made his wound ache. He spent most of his time lying in his furs, watching the comings and goings in the hall.

He feared boredom, but he slept much of the day. His body needed the rest to heal. At the times he was awake, there was enough activity in the hall to keep him occupied. Servants gossiping as they peeled potatoes by the fire. The girl who brought the firewood in and smiled at him shyly. He learned a few words of the wildling tongue by listening to the conversations around him.

Most interesting, though, were the activities of Malkin. What Sid knew of the Bear King was second- or third-hand from scouting missions and a few captured wildlings who wanted the Night’s Watch to know exactly how doomed they and the entire Seven Kingdoms were. Overblown dramatics, in Sid’s mind. There hadn’t been a true King-Beyond-the-Wall in three generations, and by all reports, the Bear King was a young man. It would take him years to amass the support he needed, and likely he would be dead long before then, wildling lifespans being what they were. The Lord Commander always said it was nothing to worry about.

Seeing the steady stream of retainers and supplicants passing through the hall, Sid was less sanguine. Malkin held audiences, negotiated, decreed, argued with his advisors, and sometimes went off for a few days and returned with minor wounds and an air of triumph. Sid knew from a life at the Castle what governance looked and sounded like. The Bear King was ruling.

The Bear King also got his cock sucked with shocking regularity. Shamelessly, in public, right there on his throne, and Sid had a clear view of it from his corner by the hearth. The first time he saw it happen, he thought he had developed a fever and was hallucinating. Malkin had finished with audiences for the day, and the hall had settled into its usual pre-dinner lull, a few servants working and a few bearded warriors talking and drinking at the great table.

A side door beside the dais opened. A man came in, young, clean-shaven, red-haired, and went to his knees at Malkin’s feet. Malkin smiled and touched his cheek, an intimate gesture, and the man smiled in return. Was this some ceremony of fealty? But then Malkin untied his pants.

He wasn’t hard. The red-haired man suckled him into arousal, his whole soft mouth around Malkin’s cock, and then lapping at Malkin’s balls as he hardened. He pulled off to give Malkin a look of playful self-satisfaction, and Malkin took his now rigid cock in one hand and rubbed the head against the man’s lips, with absolutely no care for who might be watching, and then fed his cock into the man’s waiting mouth.

It was unbearable. Malkin was so casual about it, one hand on the man’s head, slouched on his throne with lidded eyes, almost motionless until his hips began to press forward at the very end. When the man drew back at last, Malkin’s flushed wet cock hung soft between his thighs for a few moments before he roused and put himself away.

That brief glimpse of him spent was the worst part. How fat he was, and gleaming with spit.

It didn’t happen every day, but almost. It became clear very quickly that Malkin preferred men. There were three of them Sid saw, one of them kneeling at Malkin’s feet most afternoons. Concubines, presumably. Good-looking, well-fed. And Malkin sat there on his throne and took his pleasure from their mouths.

Surely he knew Sid could see him. Twice he had come over to Sid’s pallet when the physician was dressing his wound and simply observed. Sid had been granted clothing now that he could walk a bit and required less intensive tending to, but with his shirt pushed up and his trousers pushed down to give the doctor room to work, he was the closest thing to naked. He had little modesty after a celibate life spent among men, but Malkin’s gaze made him want to draw the furs over himself for protection. Standing there watching, with that eternal faint smile like he was mildly amused—it was unnerving.

At the time, Sid couldn’t fathom what Malkin wanted. But now he thought he knew.

So: Malkin knew Sid was there, quietly recuperating in the warmest part of his keep. Their eyes met at times, when Sid’s gaze wandered despite his best efforts, so Malkin knew that he was observed. But he didn’t stop his activities, and worse, he began to watch Sid while he was serviced.

Likely he found it amusing. The wildlings thought it comical that grown men deprived themselves of the pleasures of fucking. What could be funnier than a brother of the Night’s Watch unable to stop himself from looking as Malkin got his cock sucked?

Because Sid couldn’t stop himself. He tried not to look, but there was nothing else in the hall or the entire world when Malkin was sitting there with his pants open. He was in too much pain at first to become aroused, but as he healed, he spent more than one miserable afternoon trying to ignore his throbbing cock as Malkin watched him with hot, deceptively sleepy eyes.

“Could my pallet be moved?” he asked the doctor once, when she came to probe and frown.

“No,” she said flatly. “You need warm. It’s warm here.”

“I’m well enough—”

“No,” she said, and ended the discussion by pressing her thumbs into the tender skin beside his wound. All of his thoughts were burned out of him by pain.

+ + +

Weeks passed. He healed slowly, but he did heal. He began to walk to the far end of the hall, leaning on the table for support when he needed, and then the full circumference of the hall, and then outside to the courtyard. The days were short and cold, and the courtyard was a churned mess of mud and dirty snow. The low gray sky spoke eternally of further snow. Sid stayed outside as long as he could, reveling in the cold and the snow and the mud and the wandering livestock. He had been trapped inside for so long.

He grew stronger. Malkin disappeared for a while and then returned with an ugly gash on one cheek. The girl who brought the firewood gave birth to a fat, squalling baby and let Sid hold him sometimes while she worked. His walks began to take him beyond the courtyard and into the stables and workshops, until one day Malkin came across him near the kennels and stopped him in place with one firm hand on his shoulder.

“Pardon me,” Sid said, and then remembered himself and repeated it in the wildling tongue.

Malkin looked him over, slowly enough that Sid’s face heated with some combination of irritation and shame. Then he put his other hand on Sid’s other shoulder, turned him, and pushed him back toward the hall.

The next day, when Malkin was finished with audiences, he summoned Sid to his throne. The physician stood beside him, frowning; she was always frowning. The old man stood at his other side—Malkin’s chief advisor, Sid thought, after his weeks of observation.

Sid bowed stiffly. The action no longer hurt his wound, but pain had taught him to be cautious. “Your Majesty.”

Malkin barked a harsh laugh and said something to the physician.

She shook her head, a sharp denial. “No.”

A heated debate ensued. Sid couldn’t understand anything that was said, but he saw the doctor wavering, and then finally flinging up both hands in a gesture that said, clear as words, that Malkin could suit himself.

“What is it,” Sid said to her.

“He ask if you can fuck,” she said.

Sid’s stomach rolled. He had guessed what Malkin wanted, but it still came as a shock to hear it stated so bluntly. “I can’t,” he said. “I’m—”

“Night’s Watch,” Malkin said. Sid hadn’t realized he spoke a word of the Common Tongue. “No. You’re truth northern.” He sat straight on his throne, tall and straight as a tree. “Your mother is free folk. I know.”

A cold prickle ran over Sid’s scalp. “Was she?” He had been left at the Keep as an infant; he knew nothing of his parents. There was no way Malkin could know.

“I know,” Malkin said again, and something in his dark gaze made Sid believe him.

“I took an oath,” Sid said.

Malkin shrugged and said nothing. He didn’t need to: his contempt was eloquent even without words. Beyond the Wall was its own land with its own laws. Nothing that mattered to Sid was important here.

“I will bring you tonight,” the old man said to Sid, and so it was decided.

+ + +

A servant led him to a private room after the evening meal, a small windowless room near the kitchens, with a large wooden tub filled water hot enough that he hissed as he lowered himself in. Malkin wanted him clean, and he didn’t want to think too closely about what that implied, but he did scrub carefully between his legs as he washed himself. He wasn’t an innocent; he knew what men did with women, and what men did with other men. Malkin would take what he wanted, and Sid would kill him for it, later, when he got his chance.

He dressed after his bath in clean clothes the servant had set out for him, a simple shirt and pants. At least he wouldn’t be paraded down the hall naked.

A knock sounded at the door, which then opened before Sid could respond. The old man stood at the threshold. He cast a critical eye over Sid and said, “Good. Come now.”

Sid followed him down the hallway in silence. His heart was racing like he was about to enter battle. He would survive this like he had survived battles: furious, single-minded, fully prepared to die but determined to take at least one man down with him. He held no sword now, but his cold rage would sustain him through what was to come.

Outside a set of heavy, carved double doors, the old man stopped and turned to Sid. “Go in, through other doors you will see. He is wait for you.”

Sid could run. He could kill this old man with his bare hands and maybe make it out of the keep before someone stopped him. And then? He would freeze before nightfall.

The old man opened the doors. Sid went through.

The room inside was more decadently furnished even than the great hall. Rich tapestries hung on the walls, and layered carpets covered every inch of the floor. A tall chest covered in what looked to be gold leaf loomed against one wall. Everywhere there were bears: woven bears roaring on the tapestries, a mounted bear head above the mantle. On a side table sat a small bear figurine carved from ivory. Sid picked it up to examine its placid expression and then set it down again. He was delaying. Malkin was waiting.

He opened the door at the far end of the room. Inside was a bedchamber and a huge wooden bedstead. The bedcovers were pushed to the foot of the mattress, and on the bed, in the flickering firelight, lay Malkin, on his back, nude, with his head thrown back and one hand between his legs.

The tableau was so different from what Sid had expected that the details took a moment to sink in. Malkin wasn’t touching his cock or playing with his balls: he had his fingers inside himself, buried in his ass, shiny with—oil? It must have been oil, and his cock was hard and he looked like he had been at it for a while and was enjoying himself. His toes curled in the bedclothes with every movement of his hand.

Malkin lifted his head from the pillow. “Come in,” he said. “Close door.”

Sid did it. He didn’t know where to look. He fixed his gaze on a point on the wall above Malkin’s head. The tapestry hung there depicted a bear—of course—shown in profile, its muzzle lowered.

“Take off clothes,” Malkin said. He slid his fingers out and rested his hand on his thigh. His fingers gleamed in the low light.

Sid undressed, avoiding Malkin’s gaze, although he could feel Malkin watching him. What Sid had prepared himself for was clearly not what was going to transpire. Was what Malkin actually wanted better or worse? Sid had expected violence and force, not this: Malkin loosely splayed on the bed, his fingers trailing along his shaft as he watched Sid step out of his pants. Sid looked away.

“I see you look at me, man of the Night’s Watch,” Malkin said.

Sid had been looking for weeks and they both knew it. He had nothing to say to defend himself. He folded his pants and shirt to give himself time and placed both on a trunk beside the door. The room wasn’t quite warm enough to go comfortably unclothed; his arms prickled with gooseflesh, counteracting the hot flush creeping up his neck.

“Come here,” Malkin said. His hand was back between his thighs, moving again, not inside but merely toying with himself, as if he were too eager to wait. Sid didn’t want to look, but there was nowhere else to look. Malkin was the only thing in the room.

Sid moved closer to the bed. His rapid heartbeat wasn’t due to fear this time. Malkin’s heavy-lidded gaze drew him in. He couldn’t deny that he was curious, that he had thought about this; that he had pictured himself kneeling at Malkin’s feet at his throne.

“Make yourself—make ready,” Malkin said. He plucked a small vial from the sheets and tossed it to Sid.

There was oil inside. Sid was soft, but the touch of his slick hand quickly brought him to full arousal, even with Malkin staring at him. He hadn’t tended to his needs in any way since his capture, and Malkin made an appealing sight, his pink cock lying fat on his belly as he teased at the head. Any man would break his vows a hundred times over in the face of Malkin’s long legs and his big hand on his cock.

“Good,” Malkin said. He spread his legs wider and drew one thigh to his chest, opening himself. “Come here, fuck me.”

“What if I won’t do it,” Sid said, gripping his shaft. “What if I tell you no.”

“You don’t,” Malkin said, like he was certain of it.

What would he do if Sid left the room? Would he chase after him? Would he send for his guards? Or would he do nothing, and let Sid go back to sleeping in his throne room and watching him get his cock sucked every afternoon. Sid could find out.

With the vial closed in his fist, Sid climbed onto the bed, between Malkin’s spread legs. He sat back on his heels and stared. He understood the mechanics, but he wasn’t sure how to position himself or how to arrange Malkin’s limbs. He needed an extra hand, or better yet two.

“Shy?” Malkin asked. He pried Sid’s hand open and took the vial from him, and opened it with his teeth to pour more oil in his cupped palm. He replaced the stopper and abandoned the vial in the bedclothes. “I know you don’t do.”

“No,” Sid said. He never had, not even the furtive experimenting some of the other boys in the keep had engaged in. He had tried to do what was good and right. As if it would have mattered, or anyone would have known.

Malkin made a speculative noise and wrapped his slick hand around Sid’s cock. Sid bit down hard on the inside of his lip to keep from thrusting into Malkin’s grasp or making some type of humiliating noise. Malkin’s hand wasn’t so different from his own, only it was different in every single way.

“Come,” Malkin said, “in me.” He lay back against the pillows and drew both knees toward his chest, using both hands to pull his thighs open until Sid could see his shiny pink hole.

Sid’s face was hot even in the cool room. He went down on all fours above Malkin, then realized he would need a hand to guide himself in. Awkwardly balanced on one arm, he tried to get into position, but everything was so slippery—Malkin had used so much oil—and it was hard to see what he was doing. His cock kept sliding away instead of going in.

“Push,” Malkin said, craning his neck as if to see what Sid was doing. “No, there. Go in, push.”

It took more of an effort than Sid had thought it would, but then suddenly he sank in all the way—maybe too quickly, from how Malkin gasped. “Sorry,” Sid said automatically, and then wondered why he was apologizing, and then stopped thinking as Malkin tightened around him. Malkin was very soft and hot and slick and Sid’s hips moved in a few stuttering thrusts before he got himself under control.

“Good,” Malkin said. His legs wrapped around Sid’s hips. His hands slid down Sid’s back to grip his ass, pulling him in, urging him to move. “Fuck me. Deep, not too fast.”

Sid put his head down and got to work. It was work; he felt the effort in his hips and the muscles of his stomach. He couldn’t seem to move as smoothly as he wanted. He shifted his knees around a few times, hoping for better leverage, but none of his adjustments helped. The undeniable pleasure of fucking Malkin’s ass couldn’t drown out Sid’s suspicion that he wasn’t doing a good job.

Malkin seemed content enough, though, with his eyes closed and his mouth open, his hand moving between their bodies as he stroked his cock. Sid wanted to please him, and was angry with himself for caring. Why did Malkin even want him? He had a whole stable of men who were certainly much better at this than Sid was, who spoke his language and hadn’t been dragged half-dead to his keep. There was nothing about Sid that explained Malkin’s attention.

He did settle into a rhythm at last, sweating with the effort, but as he kept going, a deep ache started in his gut. He slowed, but that made it worse, but Malkin groaned in apparent pleasure and said, “Yes, yes, like that.”

Sid tried his best, but he couldn’t maintain that tempo. His abdominal muscles were weak after his injury and the long recovery, and he had to stop after another minute, panting. His stomach quivered with the effort of holding himself braced above Malkin. His erection had begun to flag.

Malkin groaned again, this time with an edge of annoyance. He opened his eyes to squint up at Sid. “Why you stop?”

“I’m sorry,” Sid said. “I’m—my wound. I’m not strong enough.”

Malkin frowned and pushed at Sid’s shoulders until Sid pulled out and sat back on his heels. His tired muscles complained to him about the work they had done. Malkin’s cock was red and leaking, and Sid did want to make him come and listen to him moan as he shook through it, but there was no chance he could manage it.

Malkin’s fingertips traced the uneven pink seam of Sid’s scar, making Sid’s belly jump where he touched. “You hurt?”

“It’s healing,” Sid said. “It’s mostly healed. But this was too much for it. I’m sorry.”

Malkin said something that sounded, from his tone, like a curse. “She tell me—but I don’t listen.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “Fine. You get dress, go away.”

Malkin was still hard. Sid hesitated, thinking—what? That they could try a different position and not give up yet. He should welcome his dismissal. Did it count as breaking his oath if he didn’t reach completion?

He climbed from the bed and pulled his clothes back on, wincing at the way his pants clung to his greasy, softening cock. His sweat was drying, leaving him cold and clammy. He wanted another bath. Nothing had gone the way he thought it would.

When he looked again, Malkin had his fingers back inside himself and was rubbing at his cock with the heel of his other hand. “Should I. Send for someone?” Sid asked, thinking wildly that Malkin might want one of his concubines to finish the job.

“No,” Malkin said, and sighed, and turned his face away.

“Well. Good night,” Sid said, like the fool that he was, and went out through the door.

+ + +

Nothing came of it. Life went back to normal. Sid continued to sleep in the great hall and take his walks, and watch Malkin get his cock sucked, and Malkin continued to watch him. Sid had failed and knew he wouldn’t get a second chance, and he wondered how much longer Malkin would keep him close at hand. What were Malkin’s plans for him? To use him for information about the Wall and the Watch, presumably, but no one had asked him so much as a single question. Waiting for better weather for a campaign, maybe, or for Sid to forget his loyalties and his home.

His scar was tender and warm to the touch for a few days. The doctor frowned over it and went to have a few sharp words with Malkin when she finished her examination. Sid watched their interaction curiously. Malkin looked sheepish, and glanced at Sid several times as the doctor scolded him, and didn’t say much.

Sid waited. Nothing happened. A week passed. He was bored and restless; he needed some occupation. Being questioned would at least present him with a diversion. As it stood, he was no longer sleeping away most of his time, and walking around the keep lost its novelty before long. One could only admire the livestock so many times.

At last he lost his patience and approached Malkin’s throne after audiences were finished and before Malkin could summon one of his concubines. He waited as Malkin talked at length with a man Sid didn’t recognize, a towering hill of a man, probably taller even than Malkin, with only one arm. Malkin glanced at Sid repeatedly but didn’t acknowledge him, to Sid’s increasing irritation. He schooled his expression into blankness. He wouldn’t give Malkin the reaction he wanted.

The one-armed man finally left. Malkin leaned back in his throne and raised his eyebrows at Sid. “Yes?”

He had looked at Sid that same way while he was waiting for Sid to fuck him. Sid could feel his face heating but met Malkin’s gaze steadily as he said, “What plans do you have for me?”

Malkin folded his arms across his chest. “Plans?”

The sly curve of his mouth made Sid’s face burn hotter. “I mean—keeping me here. What use am I to you? I’m here eating your food and serving no purpose.”

“You help us,” Malkin said. “When we go south.”

“When will that be,” Sid said.

Malkin shrugged. “We need more men. More—” He opened one hand. “Big army. Three years, five.”

“Three years,” Sid said, reeling. Years?

“It’s slow,” Malkin said. “Talk, argue. Fight.” He grinned. “How you say—stubborn? I have to win. Then they listen.”

Surely Sid could escape in that time. The keep was large; not every entrance could be equally guarded. Or he would be taken out on some expedition and could slip away. Surely he wouldn’t still be here years from now.

Malkin’s gaze was heavy on Sid’s face. “Come,” he said, and when Sid didn’t move, made an impatient noise and gestured Sid closer. A single step brought Sid within arm’s reach. Malkin tugged Sid’s shirt from his trousers and pushed it toward his chest, baring his stomach. Sid flinched back, startled, but Malkin gave a sharp yank on his shirt to hold him in place, and raised his free hand to trace gently over Sid’s scar.

Sid drew in a careful, slow breath. “It’s healing.”

“I hurt you,” Malkin said. He glanced up. Sid couldn’t read his expression. “It’s hurt still?”

“No. It’s fine. It was only sore for a day or two.”

Malkin muttered something in his own tongue. His fingers were gentle on this wound that had almost killed Sid and surely would have without the begrudging, expert attentions of Malkin’s physician. His eyes were steady on Sid’s face as he stroked the scar.

“I don’t know what you want from me,” Sid said.

Malkin’s mouth curled into a smile. “You watch me.”

“You watch me,” Sid said, refusing to let this fluster him.

Malkin shrugged. The light caught on the rings in his ear. “I think you have a nice cock. And I’m right.”

“Seven hells,” Sid breathed, and he was certainly flustered now. He tried to think of some witty retort, but every word died in his mouth at the sly, smug look on Malkin’s face.

Malkin released Sid’s shirt and let it fall back into place. “You come tonight. We try different. So you don’t hurt.”

“Is that a command?” Sid asked, knowing that it both was and wasn’t.

Malkin set his hand on Sid’s hip and gave a gentle shove. “Go. Come tonight.”

+ + +

Sid bathed again in the same room he had the first time, and dressed in clean clothes, and walked down the same hallway. Malkin’s door was open as it had been before, and Sid’s heart was pounding just the same, but for a different reason this time.

Malkin was in his bedchamber, fully dressed and standing by the fire, his hands clasped behind his back as he gazed into the flames. Sid stopped in the doorway, uncertain, but Malkin turned to him and smiled a little and said, “Good. Get undress.”

Sid was still warm and flushed from his bath, and warmer now as Malkin watched him undress. Naked, he straightened to let Malkin look at him, and Malkin did, a long up-and-down inspection that made the back of Sid’s neck heat. Sid kept his shoulders back and didn’t drop his gaze. He had lost weight during his recovery, and his scar was an ugly pucker running from the bottom of his protruding ribs to the top of his hip. But he wasn’t ashamed.

“Get on bed,” Malkin said, still looking at Sid’s body instead of his face. “Lay—lie—”

“All right,” Sid said. Malkin had turned down the blankets already; Sid climbed onto the bed and lay down on the bare mattress. Even with the fire, the room wasn’t warm. Sid felt chilled and exposed. He reached down to cup his cock, less soft than he wanted to acknowledge. He had been thinking about this for a week. Malkin’s bed, Malkin’s body.

Malkin removed his own clothes, his back to Sid as he pulled off his tunic and stepped out of his trousers. Sid squeezed himself gently as he looked at the sweet curve of Malkin’s ass. He wasn’t supposed to be doing this and he didn’t care; he couldn’t find it in himself to be sorry. Who at Castle Black would ever know?

Malkin joined Sid on the bed. Sid could only guess at what he had in mind and was faintly surprised when Malkin straddled him and sat on his hips. He hadn’t imagined this; he hadn’t known how to.

“Like this?” he asked. His hands went to the softness at Malkin’s hips, an appealing contrast with the strong lines of his warrior’s body. Malkin was hard and making no efforts to hide it. As Sid stared, wanting to look and touch and maybe taste, Malkin arched his back and slid his knees farther apart, like he was offering himself.

“Like this,” Malkin said. He leaned forward for a moment and took something from a small table beside the bed—the vial of oil, Sid saw.

Malkin wasn’t smirking or self-satisfied as he opened the vial and reached behind himself. His brows were drawn together in concentration. He braced himself with his free hand on Sid’s chest and Sid couldn’t see what he was doing, but he knew. He could extrapolate from the last time, especially when Malkin’s lips parted and the wrinkle in his brow smoothed out.

“You like this,” Sid said. An act that Sid had always heard presented as a threat or an insult. But Malkin wanted it; Malkin wasn’t ashamed. He was the Bear King, and this was his country, and he would do as he pleased.

“Yes,” Malkin said. His eyes fluttered open. He pulled his fingers out and shifted around until he could get his slick hand on Sid’s cock where it lay against his belly, beside his scar. Sid tried not to react as Malkin stroked him, but Malkin could see him, could surely feel Sid’s cock swelling in his hand, and Malkin’s pleased smile said he did. Malkin said, “You ready.”

“I—yes,” Sid said, when Malkin seemed to expect some response. “I think so.”

Malkin grunted. “Hold,” he said, and touched Sid’s hand, waiting for Sid to take over the task of holding his cock at the right angle. Malkin shifted forward, going down on all fours above Sid’s body. “More low,” he said. Sid reached back to help guide himself into position, fumbling around until he found the tender slippery give of Malkin’s asshole. He set the head of his cock right there, and Malkin pushed back, slowly, taking Sid into him in one smooth press.

“Oh,” Sid breathed, as Malkin’s ass settled against his thighs. The soft heat of him was somehow even more overwhelming than it had been the first time. Sid flexed upward, trying to push himself deeper, but stopped and settled when he felt a pulling in his scar. He wasn’t here to do, only to be done to.

Malkin straightened and raked his hair back from his forehead. “Very nice,” he said, with heavy-lidded pleasure. He shifted around a few times, situating himself and flexing around Sid’s cock. He smoothed his hands over Sid’s chest, lingering at his nipples, which Sid was surprised to discover were quite sensitive.

“What should I do?” Sid asked, even though it seemed clear Malkin expected nothing of him.

“Lie still,” Malkin said, and grinned. “Don’t come.”

Easy to say; hard to do, when Malkin planted his hands on the bed above Sid’s shoulders and began to ride him with all the confidence of a man who had done this many times before and knew exactly what he liked. Harder still when Malkin began to vocally enjoy himself right away, his face flushing and his eyes sinking shut. He moved deep and slow, pushing down hard each time he bottomed out, and groaning softly each time, like it was perfect.

Sid hadn’t not enjoyed himself the first time, but between his weakness and the discomfort of his wound, and his general virginal fumbling, it hadn’t been a fantastic experience. This time, lying at Malkin’s mercy, he could do nothing but bask in the pleasure of it, the soft, soft cling of Malkin’s ass. He knew how to touch himself and was good at it, but this was so much better, tight and slick as Malkin moved above him, the difference between eating a satisfying but ordinary meal and indulging in a grand feast.

Malkin’s cock was red and wet and bobbing around as he moved. “Can I,” Sid said, his fingers twitching with the urge to learn how Malkin felt in his hand.

Malkin squinted one eye open. “Yes?”

“Could I—touch you?” Sid asked, wishing he had just done it instead of waiting for permission, but Malkin nodded and closed his eye again, and that was good, to be allowed and not observed.

He took Malkin in his hand. A few cautious strokes taught him the shape of it and how the loose skin moved over the shaft. Malkin groaned deep in his chest, which Sid decided to take as encouragement. The tip was very wet and leaked steadily as Sid worked at the shaft, and he thought about what it would be like to take it in his mouth and suck: what it would taste like, how it would feel against his tongue. On his knees at Malkin’s throne, maybe. He was glad Malkin’s eyes were closed. Sid felt completely transparent, like his thoughts were fish swimming around in a clear brook.

He found a good rhythm, drawing his hand upward as Malkin sank back and pushing down as he rose. Malkin was quite loud now, gasping and moaning as he moved, and Sid began to think he might actually last long enough to make Malkin come. It thrilled him. Malkin was flushed and glorious, his mouth hanging open, his thighs twitching each time he slid down onto Sid’s cock. Sid didn’t know how it felt or what Malkin was enjoying so much, but he clearly was enjoying it, which made Sid feel better about his own enjoyment. He couldn’t find shame in something that felt so good for both of them.

Malkin stopped, panting, hunched over Sid’s chest. He sat up and resettled himself on Sid’s hips, curling his hand loosely around Sid’s to encourage him to keep moving. “Hurts?” he asked, touching Sid’s scar with his other hand.

Sid shook his head. “No. It’s fine. It doesn’t hurt at all.”

“Good,” Malkin said. He clenched around Sid and shivered. He arched his back and began to rock in place, short rolls of his hips with Sid sunk deep inside him. He tightened his hand around Sid’s for a moment and said, “More, ah—more fast.”

“All right,” Sid said, having the sweet realization that Malkin was about to come. He worked his hand faster, tugging at the shaft and feeling it swell slightly in his hand. Malkin’s balls were drawn up tight and he moaned softly as he pushed down on Sid’s cock. Sid’s breath came faster, watching Malkin visibly approach orgasm. For the moment, he had forgotten everything in favor of bringing Malkin to the edge, even his own pleasure.

“Ah, Sid,” Malkin said, and Sid hadn’t even been certain Malkin knew his name. Malkin shoved forward into Sid’s hand and backward onto Sid’s cock and cried out and began to come, spilling over Sid’s hand as he trembled through it. He moved until he was finished, and then he stopped, chest heaving, and grinned down at Sid.

“Can I,” Sid said, moving his wet hand to Malkin’s hip, desperate now after feeling Malkin tighten around him with every pulse of his orgasm. “Will you—”

“Yes,” Malkin said, and started moving again, hard and fast until Sid felt it cresting and groaned and spilled inside the soft heat of Malkin’s body.

He went limp on the bed, wrung out both physically and emotionally. The full implications began to sink in: the promises he had broken, the situation he found himself in now, alone in a strange place and beholden to Malkin in perhaps too many ways. But he couldn’t do anything about it now.

With a sigh, Malkin pulled off and crossed the room to the washstand in one corner. Sid watched as he wet a cloth and cleaned between his legs, and then wet a second cloth and tossed it to Sid. Sid sat up and shifted around to sit on the edge of the bed, wary of any tenderness in his scar, but there was none. He felt fine. He cleaned his cock and his upper thighs and his hand and offered the cloth back to Malkin, who had come over to take it from him.

“I hope that sufficed,” Sid said, mostly to break the silence.

Malkin smiled, wry, and touched Sid’s cheek. “Yes. You do well.” His smile faded. “You know… it’s long winter here. Cold. Boring. Maybe, if you like, you share my bed again.”

“It can’t have been that good,” Sid said dryly. “You’ve got—you have all of your, uh. Concubines. I don’t see why—”

“Because I want,” Malkin said. “I’m Bear King. Don’t ask question.” He turned away to hang the cloths over the side of the washbasin. His cheeks were faintly pink. Sid wasn’t fooled by his bluster: Malkin was embarrassed.

Well: good. Sid was embarrassed, too, and confused, and also weirdly hopeful, down underneath everything else. He did want to do it again. He liked Malkin, for some reason. His smile. His brash confidence, and the few glimpses Sid had gotten of what that brashness hid. He wasn’t opposed to spending the coldest months warming Malkin’s bed. And when the weather eased, or when spring came at last—well, there would be time for him to escape then.

“I would never dare to question you,” Sid said, and Malkin turned to look at him over one shoulder, a suspicious look that melted, after a moment, into a smile.

“Good,” Malkin said.