Chapter 11

Mya picked at her light cotton shirt, frowning at the way it clung to her skin. After a long stretch of pleasant, bright days and comfortably cool nights, a stagnant, hot spell had come to Winterfell. Every window in the house was open, but there wasn’t even a ghost of a breeze. The curtains hung lank and motionless, and the horses flicked flies away, irritable at the heat. The children finished their chores as early as they could, before the heat grew to be too much, and then were off to the swimming hole to try to find some relief. Mya was jealous.

"I've half a mind to join them today," Roslin said, fanning herself with a plate after breakfast. She was cleaning up as Mya packed leftovers into bags for her and Theon to take with them when they rode today. Roslin looked out the kitchen window, blowing a stray lock of hair out of her face. "It never even got this thick down at home. Mercy."

Mya smiled, slipping a few apples into one of the bags. That ought to keep Theon happy. He likes these.

"Well, you're 'bout all done here,” she said to Roslin. “Mr. and Mrs. Stark are off in town. Go on with them. And take Robb while you're at it. He could use some fun, after..."

Roslin glanced around the small room, as if checking for eavesdroppers. "I've never heard two people fight like he and Jeyne did...'specially so close to their wedding."

"I know." Mya shook her head grimly. Not three days ago Jeyne had been at the ranch, like usual, and she and Robb had gone to take a look at the old servants' quarters that was being converted into a house for them to live in. According to Roslin, not twenty minutes later Jeyne had stormed out of the house in tears. Jeyne and Robb had been fighting for weeks, confessed to Roslin later. She had been trying to convince Robb to leave the north with her for Oldtown. Robb, so far, was resisting.

“It’s just cold feet,” Roslin was saying now as she set a cup on a shelf to dry. “It happens to every woman. Most of my older sisters went through it. I imagine I will too, when my time comes.”

“Tell that to Robb.” Mya slung her bag over her shoulder. “I’d best be off. Theon’s waiting and he gets impatient easily.”

Roslin smiled, and Mya thought for a moment she looked like the cat who ate the canary. “You behave around him, y’hear?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Mya kept her tone light, but felt her defenses rising. Ever since the incident at the Boltons, something had shifted between Theon and her. He’d become...nicer to her. He was more willing to laugh and joke with her, and lectured her less. Sometimes she caught him just watching her and, well, she’d be lying if she said she didn’t like it. And sometimes, their hands would brush against each other in a way that couldn’t be an accident, or his fingers would rest at the small of her back as they left a room. Mya’d tried to convince herself he was just being polite, but ‘polite’ and ‘Theon Greyjoy’ didn’t seem to go hand-in-hand. Apparently she wasn’t the only one who had noticed.

“Nothing!” Roslin’s sparkling brown eyes were wide. “I just mean...well, honestly, I don’t know how you do it. Jeyne and Ellie and I were talking after church last week and they’re just scandalized that you’re off riding like this, and overnight too!”

Mya fought off the urge to roll her eyes. “Please. Someone’s got to do it. Bran’s too young still. Mr. Stark’s got business in town. Jon’s helping Robb with fixing up the house. There’s no one else.”

“You don’t have to explain it to me. I don’t have a problem with it. Just some of the girls in town. I know you’re not there very often…” Roslin’s tone was tentative. “Next time you go there though...they might stare.”

“Oh, let them stare.” They’ve been staring for years. “Now, I’ve got to be off. You go on, take Robb down to the swimming hole. See if you can’t cheer him up.”

Theon was waiting for her outside the barn, Smiler and Midnight both saddled up and ready to go. He’d splashed some cool water from the pump on his face, and it dribbled down his neck and chest. Mya’s stomach flipflopped when he swept his hair back. “About time, you.” He took the bag of supplies Mya held out to him and swung up on to Smiler. “You all set?”

“Of course I am.” She mounted Midnight, adjusting her kerchief. They were headed out to one of the far northern pastures to check up on the fences. It wasn’t a field that was used often, and as such, often fell to disrepair. Theon had told her they would camp out there that night, and the next if need be, and Mya was looking forward to it. The night they’d fled from the Boltons’ had been rougher than she’d expected it would be. Though she’d been exhausted, her sleep had been wracked with nightmares. Not of Ramsay, but of her son.

She’d just turned fourteen when her monthly cycles had stopped, and by the time Lysa found out it had been too late to force moon tea on her. She had beat Mya instead, furious with her. No one would want a pregnant whore, she’d screamed. She’d nearly cast Mya out entirely, but Petyr had drawn Lysa into his office and when they emerged, Petyr told her she wouldn’t be going anywhere. They would pay for her care, but she would have to work to pay it off. It didn’t matter to Mya; she was stuck in the brothel for the foreseeable future anyway. The nights that she had lay curled around her belly, terrified for their future, her and her child, the only thing that would calm her was the idea of getting out someday, running far, far away where she could raise her baby, where she could love it and give it a better life than she’d ever have. She had stopped going to school at twelve, when she’d been sold to the brothel, so her knowledge of reading and numbers were still those of a child, but she could do the washing well enough, and she had always enjoyed trying to cook. She could run and find work, honest work. Respectable work.

Her labor had started at the end of fall, and had lasted two days and two nights. Mya remembered very little of it, only the sick, sweet smell of chloroform and the gagging taste of medicines that were being poured down her throat. It’s a mercy, she had always told herself. She didn’t want to remember. She had decided it would be better to run after she’d had her baby. It would make it harder for people to turn out a young, single mother with no coin than it would a pregnant, unwed girl. Only...

Her son had been born dead, the doctor said. They hadn’t let her see him, and that was what Mya remembered: the sight of Lysa leaving the room, clutching a still, swaddled bundle. That’s what she dreamed about now, screaming for Lysa to bring her her boy, to at least let her see him. Her cries went ignored. When she pleaded for them to tell her where her baby had been buried, she’d been brushed aside. It didn’t matter, they said. He was a whore’s mistake.

She had tried to console herself with the thought that he’d never been hungry or scared, would never feel afraid or cold, and that the only sound he’d ever known was her heartbeat. It brought some solace, but not nearly enough. I was supposed to be able to hug him, to kiss his skinned knees and tell him bedtime stories. It’s not fair. None of this is fair. He didn’t even get a proper grave. Mya had gone to the graveyard once, months after her son’s death. There were no small stones bearing her last name, no little seven-pointed stars to mark a little coffin. There was no mark the boy had ever existed.

“What’s wrong?” Theon asked her, startling her out of her thoughts.

“Huh?” She started in her saddle. They had been riding for hours, and Mya had let her mind wander back to her blood-soaked birthing bed. It was a dangerous place, but one that her mind invariably wondered to at least once a day.

“I dunno, you look...lost.” Theon shrugged. “Sad.”

“‘s nothin’,” Mya replied. She wrapped her reins around her saddle horn so she could stretch her arms high over her head. Her spine popped all up and down, and she let out a small moan. “Gods above, I’ve needed that.”

“I bet you have.” Theon’s grin was a little lecherous, and Mya laughed. “Sleeping on the ground’s better for your back than those cushy beds back home.”

“Oh, I’m sure.” Mya smirked and took up her reins again. “Nothing screams comfort like using a rock for a pillow.”

“Well, I was going to let you use my saddle blanket, but if that’s your attitude…” Theon winked, his expression as carefree as it usually was then they were riding. “C’mon, we’re nearly there. Let’s let them stretch their legs a bit. There’s a cold spring a few miles up. Last one there guts supper!” Digging his heels into Smiler’s sides, he shot off down the path ahead of Mya.

“Hey!” she shouted, spurring Midnight on. Theon’s laugh floated over his shoulder, and Mya grinned, leaning low over Midnight’s gleaming neck. It felt good to just give the mare her head and run. If she could run forever...She could feel her fears slipping away, her grief subsiding, the images of her boy, abandoned and cold under the ground dimming.

They pounded over the wide, flat plain, the horse leaping over small boulders that Mya didn’t even see and sending the occasional rabbit or meadowlark scattering. Theon was still ahead of them, occasionally glancing back.

“C’mon!” he was yelling. “I thought you were getting better at riding!”

Mya laughed again and flicked the reins. Midnight snorted and dug in deeper, long legs pounding rhythmically. Smiler was still ahead of them, but the gap was closing as their path curved across the field. At the far end of it, a group of large, flat rocks rose up out of the soil. As Mya got closer she could see clear water bubbling out of the center of them. A few scrub trees had made a valiant effort to grow, but the summer heat was wilting them, and Mya doubted they’d last the winter.

Theon had reigned Smiler to a stop and was leaning against one of the rocks when Mya rode up. “Tough break, kid,” he smirked, pushing his hat back. “Next time, I’ll give you a head start and maybe you’ll stand a chance.”

“What’re you talking about?” Mya swung down off of Midnight, eyeing the rocks. Up close, the tallest rose about fifteen or twenty feet. All of them were bleached and warm from the sun, worn smooth by time and wind. A few tufts of some strong-willed grass grew up between a few of them. From here Mya could hear the water bubbling and flowing “You said to the cold spring. You look mighty dry there, cowboy.”

Before Theon could respond Mya leapt past him, scampering up the pile of rocks with a laugh. She heard him shout he grabbed her ankle, but it was easy as pie to slip out of his grasp. Climbing was surprisingly easy; her fingers seemed to be able to just find the next handhold, and her feet never slipped. Theon was right behind her, both of them laughing as they climbed higher and higher. Mya slipped between two stones and had almost reached the spring when Theon caught up to her. Wrapping his arms around her waist, they tumbled to the warm rocks in a tangle of limbs.

Mya was breathless from laughing. Squirming around, she found herself astride him, her chest pressing against his, his hands resting on the small of her back. The breath went out of her at the sight of him beneath her, the feel of him against her. Their faces were inches apart, and Mya found herself unwilling to move. Theon’s hand drifted up her back, brushing a loose lock of hair off her face. Mya’s eyes nearly drifted shut at how good it felt to be touched like this. She’d been craving this, craving him, since...she didn’t even know when anymore. She traced her finger over his cheekbone, wanting desperately to stop, but also wanting to go on. Theon’s hand curled around the back of her neck, drawing her closer.

“Wait,” she breathed. Theon’s hands tightened, one at the back of her neck, one splayed hot on her back. “Please. This isn’t right. Ellie...”

A flurry of emotions washed over Theon’s face: surprise, anger, resentment, but he remained silent. After a long moment, he heaved a sigh and released her. Mya slid off of him, curling her legs under her. Theon sat up, his hands dangling between his knees while he stared off at the mountains, made hazy by the thickness of the hot summer air. His fingers twitched restlessly, and the silence stretched between them for miles.

Finally Theon stood, brushing off his chaps. “Alright, let’s get to work. I saw the fence came down in a few places. I put a hammer and nails in your saddlebags. Go get ‘em. And hurry up. It’s fixin’ to storm here by nightfall.”

Mya’s heart sank. Theon’s tone was brusque and hard as it had been when they first started working together. He wasn’t looking at her as he grabbed his canteen and dunked it in the cold spring. She glanced up at the sky as she slid down off the boulders. The sky was the color of a cataract, the clouds, while not dark, were ominous and discontent. The wind was coming in small, hot puffs, like the breath of some unseen giant pushing across the tall grasses. “The sky looks...queer.

“I know,” Theon replied matter-of-factly as he jumped down next to her. “Told you it was gonna storm, didn’t I? Now, go on and get those supplies like I told you.”

Mya bowed her head and did as she was told. They worked through the afternoon, hoisting up pieces of fence where it had fallen. She’d hold it into place as best she could, and Theon would fix it into place with rope or nails. They worked in an uneasy silence, with their glances just missing each other. She wondered what he was thinking, if it was about her. Don’t flatter yourself.

The afternoon crept on, and gradually the wind died down. Smiler and Midnight plodded along with them placidly enough, but as the heat built throughout the day they grew uneasy. Mya patted Midnight on the neck, wrinkling her nose a bit at the way the mare was sweating. Thunder grumbled in the distance, and Midnight snorted nervously. Mya glanced up and swallowed. The clouds gathering in the distance had turned a sickly blackish green, roiling and piling on top of each other. Lightning flickered, and when another gust of wind came it was warm and smelled of rain and earth.

“Easy, sweetheart,” she said softly. “It’s just a little rain, alright?” Midnight planted her muzzle in Mya’s palm and whickered, and Mya glanced at Theon, her stomach knotting. “Right? Just rain?”

Theon gazed at the sky for a long while, his grey eyes flicking and forth. His lips pressed together, and after a moment he bent to collect his hammer and a few stray nails. When he straightened his expression was grim. “Y’ever been in a twister?”

Mya’s stomach lurched and dropped at the same time. “A twister?”

“Ayep.” Theon was moving faster now, tucking things away. “We’re gonna see one. Soon, I’d wager. Get a leg up there. It’s time we found shelter.”

“A twister?” Mya was rooted to the spot in fear. She’d heard stories of tornadoes, the destruction they wrought, but she’d never actually been in one. Just the thought made a cold sweat drip down her neck.

Theon, about to mount Smiler, pulled his foot out of the stirrup and crossed to her. “You listen to me,” he said. His voice was quiet, but calming. “You’ve never been in one, right?” When Mya jerked her head, he nodded and put his hands on her shoulders. “You’ll be just fine. I’ve seen my fair share of ‘em, ‘specially up in these parts, and they’ve never hurt me. This one won’t hurt you neither. All you gotta do is mount up and follow me, y’hear?”

“Where’re we gonna go?”

“There’s all sorts of places, little homesteads, left over from...gods, years ago. We can’t be too far from one’a them.” Thunder boomed, louder this time, and Theon glanced over Mya’s head and then back at her. His hands slid up her neck, cupping her face, and he held her gaze with his own. “No more questions now, alright? Just go where I go. You’ll be fine, I promise.”

“Alright.” Mya could barely hear her own voice, it was so tight and strained. His clear eyes held hers, and she clung to the way her heart clenched.

The rain started to fall as she mounted Midnight and set off at a dead run, following Theon and Smiler across the fields to where the woods started. By the time the dark pines enveloped them the rain was lashing across her face, plastering her hair to her forehead. The winds whipped through the trees, bowing and bending them every which way. Day had turned to night, and Mya swiped her hand across her eyes to try and keep Theon in view.

Lightning cracked overhead. Mya crouched low over Midnight’s neck. Theon was just a few yards ahead of her, weaving between the trees like he knew where he was going. Please, let him know where he’s going. Behind her she could hear branches cracking like gunshots, a low roar and the rush of entire trees being ripped down. Her heart pounded in her ears, keeping time with Midnight’s hooves. Risking a glance towards the sky, Mya felt faint. The angry, black clouds were tinted red from the distant setting sun, and the way they were swirling and spinning looked like the gods themselves were coming after her. There was another crack of thunder, and hail started to fall. It was small at first, pea-sized pellets. It grew and grew, bigger than a walnut, bigger than a lemon. It was like being pelted with rocks - Mya could feel welts rising on her and knew she’d have bruises at the very least.

Faintly she heard Theon shouting. Squinting through the driving rain, she could see a few dark, lurking shapes in a small clearing. In the next flash of lightning her heart soared - Theon had found one of the abandoned homesteads he’d talked about. She gave Midnight a firm kick, following Theon through the storm into the clearing. There was a small, leaning cabin, shutters banging loose in the wind, and a squat, half-tumbled down barn. Theon rode Smiler right into the barn, ducking low to avoid cracking his head on the door frame. Needing no encouragement, Midnight followed.

The rain and wind were immediately muffled, and Mya’s skin was tingling where the hailstones had hit her. She fared better than Theon, though. When she dismounted she saw his face was covered in blood from a gash in his forehead, and his shirt was torn at the collar. There was already a large, raised bruise forming just above his collarbone. The second Mya’s feet touched the ground he grabbed her, pulling her towards a door next to a stack of rusted, forgotten farm equipment.

“In here!” He had to shout to be heard. The low roar that had followed them was nearly deafening now, the sound of a locomotive bearing down on them. Forcing the door open, he nearly threw Mya into the small room. Theon pulled the door shut, holding it shut against the wind that invaded the barn. It screamed and whooped, the sound of wood beams cracking all around them. “That shovel! Give it here!”

Mya tossed him the shovel. He wedged it across the rattling door, and before Mya knew what was what he’d pulled her down onto the floor, his body heavy on top of hers. They clung together while the world came apart around them. The wind shrieked. The frail wooden door started to splinter, and Mya felt her body being lifted from the floor. She screamed, Theon’s arms tightening around her as if he could anchor them both to the ground. We’re going to die and they’ll never find us…

Then, as if it had never happened, the winds quieted, slowed. Mya became aware of the ground, cold and wet beneath her, and Theon, hot and trembling, above her. “Is it done?” she asked, amazed that her voice hadn’t been sucked out of her. “Is it over?”

“I think so.” Theon pushed himself off her and stood, extending a hand to help her up. Her heart was pounding, her legs rubber. “You alright?”

Mya nodded, dashing a hand under her eyes. “I am. You took a few knocks though…” Almost tentatively she reached up, brushing his hair away from the cut on his forehead. “You’re hurt.”

Theon shrugged. “Ain’t nothin’.” He didn’t flinch away from her touch, but after a moment he blinked as if he’d suddenly remembered something.

“Hellfire, Smiler!” He clambered over the shattered door, stumbling into the small barn. Mya followed, her heart in her throat at what she would find. The barn was in shambles. Planks of wood were missing, huge gaps letting in the steadily-falling rain. Most of the roof was gone, chunks of debris and torn leaves floating down from the stormy sky. The door was a twisted wreck, not helped by the frantic horses racing around in the small, cluttered space. Midnight’s eyes were wide and rolling, her hooves skittering across the ground.

“Oh, honey…” Mya took a step towards the horse but Theon held her back.

“Let me. They’re terrified. Last thing you wanna do is be on the business end of one of their kicks.”

It was a matter of minutes before Theon had calmed Smiler. He moved slowly, keeping his voice low, and eventually was able to take the reins. Once Midnight saw the stallion calm, she was easy to soothe. Theon leaned his head against Smiler’s muzzle, stroking his sweaty neck. “There ya go, buddy. You’re fine. You’re just fine. Let’s get you and your lady out of here.”

Outside, the trees surrounding the clearing were twisted and broken, and the forest smelled of fresh-cut wood. Rain was still falling, albeit gently now, the wind a mere breeze. Thunder rumbled in the distance, but this was no more than a mere summer storm now. The cabin seemed to have escaped damage. A few broken branches rested on the roof, and the outside walls were splattered with mud, but it was still standing.

Mya stroked Midnight’s silky neck as she and Theon took in the damage. “What’re we gonna do now?”

Theon sighed, rubbing a hand across his jaw. “The barn’s not safe. We’ll tie ‘em to the porch here, hobble ‘em, spend the night inside.”

Mya glanced at the sky, now a flat, even grey as the day started to draw to a close. “What if it comes back?” Her voice sounded smaller and more scared than she would’ve liked.

“It won’t.” Theon shook his head. “C’mon, I haven’t shown you how to hobble a horse yet…”

The cabin had been neglected and empty for years, but it would serve for the night. A stack of chopped wood lay next to the fireplace. Other than that, there was a table missing a leg, 3 broken chairs, 2 intact ones, and a lumpy bed pushed against a wall. It had the sweet, mouldering smell of decay, and the floor was covered in dead leaves.

Theon dropped their saddlebags in a heap, looking around. “‘s not the worst place I ever bedded down…”

“It’s got a roof.” Mya rubbed her arms. It was colder in here than it was outside. “Can we start a fire?”

“Sure.” Theon nodded at the broken chairs and tossed her a flint out of one of the saddlebags. “That oughta be enough there.” While Mya fiddled with the flint he sank onto the edge of the bed, kicking off his boots and looking utterly exhausted. He’d pulled a flask out of somewhere, and he put his lips to it, taking a long swallow while she watched. He held it out to her. “Want some?”

Mya rose to her feet, feeling half a hundred aches and bruises as she did. “‘m not thirsty.” She nodded at his head. The wound had stopped bleeding, but it had left his face half-red. “Let me clean that out…”

“Y’ain’t cleaning that out with my whiskey, missy.” Theon tucked the flask away. “Canteen’s in the saddlebag if you really want.”

“I do. You look like a Wildling. Now hold still.” Fishing the canteen and a rag out, Mya poured some water on the cloth and applied it to Theon’s forehead. “That hurt?”

“Mm-mm.” Theon shook his head, his eyes drifting shut. “Feels good, actually.”

“Good.” Mya said softly. She tilted his face up, gently wiping away blood and dirt, turning him this way and that. He leaned into her touch, his face going slack, and Mya wondered if he was falling asleep. She dabbed off his neck, using slow, gentle strokes. When she’d been a whore sometimes she’d get lucky, and her customers had only wanted a bath with a pretty girl. Those had been her favorites. She’d take care of them, wash their travel and weariness away, give them some semblance of comfort. It made her feel like she was worth something.

Standing there, in the middle of a ramshackle cabin with a weak fire flickering, she wondered what she would’ve done if Theon had strode into her brothel, all cocksure and charming. What would’ve happened if he’d paid to come to her bed? Would his smile have made her stomach flip over the way it did? Would she feel weak in the knees at his laugh? Would his touch, no matter how fleeting, set her heart racing? Mya gazed down at Theon, gently tracing his features. He let out a small groan when she brushed his hair back again, his hands sliding up to rest at her hips. His thumbs moved in small circles over the small of her back, subtly tugging her closer to him. His hands were hot through her wet shirt, firm and steady. How is he not scared? We nearly died just now...

They stayed like that for a few minutes while she turned things over in her mind. It wouldn’t be right for her to have him. That much she knew. But...was it right for any of the men who’d paid for her? How many of them were married or engaged, or sworn to the Faith? How many of them had seen her and decided she would scratch their itch for the night? Wasn’t it her turn? Why couldn’t she have what she wanted, just this once? Hadn’t she earned this? Before Mya really knew what she was doing, she leaned down and kissed him.

Theon inhaled sharply. His hands tightened at her waist, one slipping up her back. After a moment he pulled away. His eyes were open and bright in the firelight, his lips slightly parted. His expression was unreadable and Mya froze, certain she’d crossed a line.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

When he finally did speak, Theon’s voice was husky. “Stop sayin’ that.” He pulled her down to straddle his lap, his hands slipping under her shirt as their lips met again and again. She whimpered; she couldn’t help it. His palms were warm and calloused, rough against her skin when they cupped her breasts. His thumbs brushed her nipples, and her hips ground down hard against his. He was already hard, and she could feel the heat emanating from him.

“Godsdamn…” He moaned against her lips. In response she nipped at his lower lip, tugging at his shirt. In the blink of an eye it was off, joined shortly by hers. His skin was hot against hers, and it felt so good. So right. Mya wanted to take her time, to explore Theon’s body, but she wanted him in her, wanted to feel as close to him as she could. Her hands fumbled with his fly, freeing him from his trousers. He hissed when she wrapped her fingers around him, his cock throbbing in her hand. He cursed again, pulling her down onto the bed, both of them struggling with their clothes until finally, he pushed her thighs apart and guided himself into her.

The feel of him took her breath away. Having a man inside her wasn’t anything new, but it had been months since she’d been with anyone. And she wanted Theon, truly wanted him. She trailed her fingers up his back as he moved in her, letting her body match his rhythm. Their coupling quickly grew faster, more frantic. Her body craved his touch. Her legs wrapped around his hips, pulling him closer. Theon’s head dropped to the curve of her neck, his lips picking out her pulse. Her back arched, and he grunted something unintelligible against her skin. Their movements were growing erratic, a warm pressure building steadily in her belly. Mya tightened her legs around Theon’s hips, flipping them so she was once again on top. They both cried out as she sank even further onto him. He seized her hips, gripping them hard enough to bruise, driving up into her. His teeth were gritted, bared in some kind of feral pleasure.

He came without warning - another harsh cry, the feel of him swelling deep within her. The way he ground against her brought on Mya’s own orgasm, and she let it wash over her. It was such a sweet bliss exploding through her that she didn’t even try to stop her cries. She writhed on him, her mind deliciously blank. His touch gave her small bursts of pleasure as she began to regain her senses. When Mya opened her eyes she saw Theon watching her, gazing at her like he’d never seen her before. She felt suddenly shy, and when she went to cross her arms over her chest he caught her hands.

“Don’t,” he said softly, drawing them away from her chest. His eyes roved her body, his gaze as tangible as his touch. There was something unexpectedly tender there, something Mya hadn’t seen before. Not like this. He’s never looked at me like this. She didn’t want him to stop. Theon pulled her down, tunnelling his fingers through her messy hair. For a long moment they lay there, entwined in each other, and nothing else seemed to exist. Finally Theon cleared his throat, and when he spoke next he sounded more like himself.

“You can’t ride a man like that and then act the bashful maiden.” Mya buried her face against his shoulder, her cheeks burning. She should’ve acted the bashful maiden, pretended to be unsure of what she was doing, not hopped on like the whore she was. He pried her face away, looking at her in the firelight. “Why?”

Mya swallowed hard. She knew the question that was coming, and she had no idea how to answer. All her bravado that had led to this was drying on her thighs, leaving behind a scared, uncertain girl. “Why what?”

“Why now? You were pushing me away hours ago. What changed?”

“I dunno.” She shrugged and cast around for a reasonable excuse. “I just realized...with the twister and everything, if I died tonight, the last man to touch me would’ve been Ramsay Bolton. And…” she trailed off, gazing into the fireplace, unsure of how to continue.

Theon nudged her side. “And what?”

She looked back up at him, her heart pounding. What would he say if she poured her heart out to him now? Could she handle him pushing her away? Don’t. Spare yourself. “I wanted to.”

He smirked after a minute, shifting on the lumpy mattress and folding one arm behind his head. The other he wrapped around her waist, pulling her against his side. “Understandable. C’mon. May as well get comfortable.”

The next morning wasn’t as awkward as Mya feared. The hot, oppressive air had been swept away by the storm, replaced by the cool, soft air she was used to. She woke up wrapped in Theon’s arms, her head tucked underneath his chin. Her stirring awoke Theon, who grinned a little blearily at her.

“Mornin’, you,” he said.

“Mornin’,” Mya replied. Her stomach felt jumpy, as if she was an actress who’d forgotten her lines in the middle of the show. Her old clients usually dressed and left in the dark pre-dawn hours, leaving a pile of coins and cash on her dresser. “Should we start heading back, or…?”

“Mmmm, not yet.” Theon pulled her beneath him, his thigh slipping between hers. He was hard, his body warm and comfortable with sleep, and Mya smiled.

This time they took their time, exploring each others’ bodies, teasing, bringing each other closer and closer time and time again. When they finally came, it was together.

“I gotta say,” Theon mumbled, his lips pressed against her neck. “‘s a fantastic way to wake up.”

Mya laughed. “Beats Roslin’s snoring.”

Theon propped himself up on his elbows, brushing a lock of hair away from her face. He was gazing down at her like he had before, idly tracing her features. She looked back up at him, wondering what he was thinking, and if he was going to regret this. Turning her face into his palm, she kissed the heel of his hand and hoped he wouldn’t.


That was all it took for Mya’s insides to curdle. She wanted to hear Theon say her name, her real name. She forced herself to smile coyly. “Yes?”

“Think you can ride? We probably should start home.”

“Of course I can ride.”

Theon smirked, ducking his head to kiss her quickly. “‘Course you can. That was a stupid question.” Rolling off of her, he tugged her up and patted her rump. “C’mon, best get dressed.”

It was quick work to find their clothes and mount up. Smiler and Midnight were calm and eager to get back on the road, tossing their heads. They made quick time through the forest, easily leaping over fallen trees and branches. The closer they got to Winterfell, the less damaged the forest was. Clearly the tornado hadn’t made it this far south, and that was comforting. The thought of the Starks, her Starks, as she was starting to think of them, in danger, was a dark, cold thought and one that had no place on this peaceful morning.

As they emerged from the woods into the wide, green field that Winterfell occupied, Mya’s smile faded. A compact grey horse was tied to the post outside the house. She glanced at Theon, whose face was tight and grim again. “It’s a little early for callers, don’t you think?”

“That’s Doc Luwin’s mare.” Theon replied. His face was tight, his lips pressed together. “He’s got no reason to be out here this early, unless…” The front door flew open, and a tall, slender figure stumbled down the porch steps, running towards them. Theon squinted, then twitched Smiler’s reins. “That’s Sansa. Something’s wrong…” He put his heels to the stallion, and the beast leapt forward. Mya followed, her heart in her throat.

Sansa was in tears when they rode up to her, her face blotchy and wet. “It’s horrible!” she sobbed. Theon dismounted and caught her as she stumbled. “Oh Theon, it’s just awful…”

“What?” Theon gripped her arms, giving her a firm shake. “What happened? Is it Robb?”

“N-no…” Sansa shook her head and took a gulping, hitching breath. “It’s Ellie...she’s dead, Theon.”

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