“It’s raining,” Theon says, when they are eleven, and there’s an odd tone in his voice that Robb can’t quite place. Robb looks up towards the sky and the drops come down heavier and Theon gasps, quiet, next to him. It’s a proper rainstorm, too, a heavy rainstorm, and by the time that they finally reach the castle doors, they’re both soaked in the warm, summer rain and goose-pimpled up and down their arms and laughing. They drip all over the floors and Septa Mordane chastises them when she passes them in the hall and they shake their heads like wild dogs, like wolves, trying to get dry. Robb grasps Theon’s wrist in his hand, drags him towards the washrooms where there are towels, and Theon’s arm is fever-hot under him.
Robb runs through the halls of Winterfell, searching for Theon. The thunder of the oncoming storm trails him and Robb runs from it, daring it to catch him through the empty halls. Robb is not afraid of the thunder, like everyone else seems to be, for how he sees no one but his own reflection. Robb runs through the halls of Winterfell, until he comes to Theon’s room, and he knocks loudly before opening the door for himself and stepping inside.
The rain has started now and the breeze ruffles Theon’s coverlet, splayed to the side, but that is not what Robb sees. The rain has started now and the room smells of it and Theon’s head is thrown back against his pillow and his hand is moving frantically against his cock.
Robb is fourteen, nearly a man grown, and he has already seen many things, has already seen a man be killed, has already seen lands and lords and lessons, but he has never seen another cock besides his own. Robb is fourteen and he should know more of common decency than he recalls at that moment; cannot help but stare at Theon’s hand and his stomach and his mouth, open with a gasp on the lips.
Robb is fourteen and, when Theon notices him, smirks and pointedly continues to stroke himself, he blushes like no boy of fourteen should.
When it rains, the whole of Winterfell moves indoors, but Robb and Theon move outside into the storm. It is there, in the eyes of no one, that they learn each other – that they kiss for the first time, that they press into each other’s hipbones with their fingers and each other’s collarbones with their mouths. It is there that Robb learns quickly of Theon, of how Theon loves the water, of the way that Theon moans louder, comes harder, in the lightning and the pound of the rain.
It is there, too, that Robb learns that he is more than a lordling to grow into his father’s seat, that he is instead simply himself and no one else’s (but for Theon, who insists, will always insist, that Robb is his).
One time, Robb curls his hand around Theon’s s cock and Theon mumbles the words of the sea into Robb’s ears to the tune of the beating raindrops; tells him of his home and of the ocean and of salty air. Theon tells Robb of the childhood that has been stripped of him and from then on Robb thinks that Theon will someday return there, will someday have no choice but to follow the call of the sea. Theon tells Robb of the childhood that has been stripped of him and Robb closes his fist around Theon tighter, plunders his mouth with his own tongue and tries to make this childhood the only one that Theon ever wanted.
There are few times that Robb fails at his wishes, but this is one of them. When they have finished and are slumped against each other and slick with come that the rain is already washing away, Theon tells him that the rain reminds him of home and Robb knows that he does not mean Winterfell. Robb may want otherwise, but Theon will never forget and Theon will always return.
They grow up together, learn how to shoot a bow together, learn how to lead an army together, learn how to fuck together. They grow up together and they are brothers in every way but blood. They grow up together and they are close, closer than anyone would think them to be, and they’re sealed together by steel and by polish and by rain.
It is always Robb who Theon turns to first when it rains, Robb who’s next to him and who he grabs by the shoulder and drags to the bedroom and whose cock he mouths over while the thunder booms overhead. It is always Robb for whom he fingers himself open and no one else. It’s always Robb who he finds next to him, but this is not just how it is, despite how it may seem.
This is not because they are always together, though they very nearly are, nor because Theon is only attracted to Robb, for surely he is not, Robb thinks, but because Robb would not have anyone else learn this of Theon. It is always Robb because Robb makes it so, because Robb could not bear anyone seeing Theon the way that he does, the way that the rain makes Theon change and so too does Robb.
When Robb’s father dies, no, when that boy, Joffrey, cuts off his father’s head, he calls the banners, knowing that they will soon be at war. He is a Stark and he will not allow such a crime to be committed against them; he is a Stark and so he is as headstrong, as brave, as he is dutiful; he is a Stark and so he is also a wolf and wolves do not take kindly to their pack being threatened.
The old gods mourn that night; they rage, raining down a storm more furious than any Robb has ever seen. The old gods mourn that night and so Robb finds himself in Theon’s chambers, biting bruises into Theon’s skin as the wind swirls around them, coats them with breath and sweat and raindrops. Theon is not a wolf, but his place is, will always be, at Robb’s side; Theon is not a wolf, but he bites Robb’s skin too, places his fingers against Robb’s entrance and breaches him for the first time.
Theon is not a wolf, but he knows them as well as if he were one.
That night, Robb opens himself to Theon, lets himself be fucked like a common whore, except for that he is a Lord, except for even whores don’t let themselves be taken as Theon takes him. Robb lets himself be fucked like a common whore, except for that this is a mark that will stay with him until the end of his days and so, too, it will stay with Theon.
Come with me, Robb asks Theon, as they kiss during a morning shower, as they finger over each other’s jaws and throats and necks. Come with me and be my Hand, Robb asks Theon, and Theon snorts and asks him, When have I ever been anything else?
It rains the night before Theon is set to leave for the Iron Islands and Robb almost trips over his own feet (but, doesn’t, because he’s King and kings don’t stumble) trying to get to Theon’s tent. Theon’s heard the storm, the pounding of the raindrops and the thunder, already, by the time he arrives; is already standing outside in the rain while everyone else has rushed to their tents and his arms are fallen by his sides and his face is tilted up and when he looks towards Robb, Robb can see that his pupils are blown, wide and dark.
They’ve done this hundreds of times, Robb knows, but still he doesn’t know how to begin now, especially now, because Theon is leaving and Robb doesn’t know how to make him stay, not really. Robb orders him to leave, because he knows that Theon has to return home, always had to return home, but he hopes that Theon will refuse him, will tell him that his rightful place is at Robb’s side, that he is a Stark now, even if he wasn’t born one – but he doesn’t. He doesn’t say no, he says yes, and this is Robb’s last chance. Theon was supposed to refuse, he thinks, but Theon has never refused him anything, especially the things that Theon has wanted all along, so Robb doesn’t know what he expected, in the end.
Robb doesn’t know what he expected, in the end, except for this: Theon’s mouth on his, their tongues twisted together and their hair too. Robb doesn’t know what he expected except that Theon would always be here for him, that he would never leave, that his neck would always be coal-hot under Robb’s fingers even as the rain got colder with the sign of winter.
They fuck, harsh, in the open where everyone could see, if they looked, but Robb doesn’t care, does he, because all he can see is Theon, pushed against the rough bark of the oak tree. All he can feel is the water surrounding them both and shrouding the forest in a haze; all he can taste is Theon’s lips and his fingers and his cock.
They have one last night, Robb thinks, and even as he tells himself that he will see Theon again soon, that Theon won’t leave him, will come back to him, that they’ll always be brothers, he again can see the way that his father had promised the same thing. In this time of war, there are no more guarantees, least of all for safe returns, and so every goodbye might be the very last. It is raining and Theon’s lips are chapped against throat and Robb’s cock moves inside of Theon and this is the only way that Robb can think to say goodbye because there are no words that mean this.
The next time it rains, and the time after that and the time after that, Robb thinks of Theon, even when he doesn’t want to. He thinks of Theon as he rides towards the capital to avenge his father, as he meets Jeyne and eventually gets married to her, as he hears word of the fall of Winterfell, of the murder of his brothers. Robb thinks of Theon when it rains and he can see nothing but the way that Theon had felt underneath him; the way that he would feel again, the way that Robb wants to slit his throat for his betrayal. Robb thinks of Theon when it rains and he does not know any longer what it meant, the two of them, only knows the burning love and then the white-hot rage.
It rains every day, now, as they trudge across the Blue Fork, towards the Twins. It rains and Robb can no longer muster the strength to think what Theon means to him, what they had meant to Theon. He tells his lady mother that Jon is no Theon, that Jon would never harm Bran and Rickon as Theon has done, but still it feels like slicing through his own palms and calling the blood some other’s. He tells his mother that Jon is no Theon, but what he does not tell her is that he used to believe that Theon was more.
It rains and Theon is everything that Robb can see, everything that Robb can remember. It rains and Theon is the thing that Robb most wants to forget, or, maybe, that he most wants to change. It rains and Robb resolves that he will see Theon again because the gods are not so spiteful; whether it be to reunite as brothers (as lovers, even) or to finally exact his revenge, Robb does not know, but he will get it.
There are few times that Robb fails at what he resolves, but this is one of them.