A/N: This was written for a prompt on the asoiafkinkmeme. It is un betaed, so all mistakes are mine. Please let me know what you think?
Don't Cry Anymore
The first time it happened, it had been by accident and was completely innocent. Jon Snow was only five at the time; he didn't understand what the word "bastard" meant, but the pure hatred on the strange woman's face as she spits that word at him was enough to send him running off in tears. He was still young, so it was understandable that he had in his distress somehow gotten turned around in the giant castle that was Winterfell. He ran into what he thought was his own chambers and threw himself on the bed, curling up on his side into a little ball.
It hadn't even been five minutes before the door opened.
"What are you doing in here?"
Jon didn't have to look to know that the voice belonged to Theon Greyjoy, the ten year old boy whom his father had recently brought home from war. Jon didn't know much about the other boy since Theon mostly kept to himself, so he didn't respond.
"I asked you a question." The voice was closer now, and sounded more irritated. "Why are you in my room? Are- are you crying?"
Jon sniffled and shook his head, confused. He could have sworn he was in his own room. But it didn't matter now. This stranger boy had already seen him crying, which was what he had been trying to avoid. He should just head back to his own chambers. He was just about to get up off the bed when he heard the other boy huff loudly.
Jon froze as he felt the bed shift as Theon climbed onto it and laid down behind him, wrapping one thin arm around his waist.
"Hush now," Theon whispered quietly into Jon's ear, pressing in close behind him. "Don't cry anymore."
Jon was so shocked that he did actually stop crying; no one ever really wanted to be this close to him, except perhaps Robb. "What-"
"Hush." This time the word sounded like a command. "If you say a word about this to anyone, I will slit your throat while you sleep."
Jon swallowed heavily and didn't say another word, instead relaxing into the comforting warm of the body behind him.
He stayed there all night.
The next time it happened was barely a week later. Jon had wanted to know what that word had meant and why the lady had call him that. But his father was too busy to ask. So he had decided to ask Lady Stark. (He still didn't understand why he could not call her mother like Robb and Sansa did.) While the woman was unusually cold and distant with him most of the time, she was always willing to tell him things he wanted to know.
"A bastard is an illegitimate child," was her explanation, her voice and eyes both cold and hard, her hands resting protectively over her belly. "A stain on an otherwise noble man's reputation, made worse when he brings that stain back to live and grow up among his true born children."
Jon felt the venom in those words painfully, but he had one more question before he could run off. He blinked back the tears as he bravely asked, "What does illegitimate mean?"
"It means, Jon Snow, that while Lord Stark is your father, I, his wife, am not your mother."
Jon couldn't stand the coldness or hatred that Lady Stark's gaze was directing on him, and he fled after that. He spent the rest of the day hiding in the stables crying, only venturing out once darkness fell. He didn't consciously make his way to Theon's chambers again; that was just where his feet led him to. He opened the door quietly, surprised to find the other boy still awake.
Theon took one look at the pathetic figure that Jon must have been, before huffing out a breath and pushing his furs down on the bed. "Well? Get in."
Jon shut the heavy door behind himself before practically running to the bed and slipping in next to the other boy. It didn't take them long to situate themselves, with Jon's back pressed against Theon's chest and the older boy's arm firmly around his waist.
The last thing Jon heard before drifting off to sleep was Theon whispering in his ear, "Hush now. Don't cry anymore."
And that was the beginning of a tradition. Every time that Jon got upset, he would go to Theon's chambers and curl up with the other boy. They never spoke about what had happened; even the times that, when they had gotten older, it was Theon who had upset Jon. In fact, the only words ever spoken during those nights were, "Hush now. Don't cry anymore."
Somehow, that's all that Jon needed, was the silent comfort Theon gave him.
Jon was nine when he first broke that unspoken vow of silence. While Lady Stark usually wasn't outright cruel to him, her distance and coldness hurt. Sometimes Jon just wanted a mother too, someone to look after him and comfort him the way Lady Stark did for her children.
(This was brought on by watching Lady Stark comfort Robb after they had both fallen out of the heart tree.)
"Do you miss your mother?" Jon felt Theon shift behind him (they always laid in the same position), and immediately regretted asking. They didn't talk here; they weren't supposed to talk here.
"Why?" Theon was fourteen, and getting to that age where a boy would never admit to needing his mother. Why would he admit to missing her?
"I wish I had a mother," Jon whispered in reply, closing his eyes tightly to ward off more tears. "Someone to hold me and comfort me when I'm upset, like Lady Stark does with my siblings."
Theon huffed out a laugh and propped himself up a bit on his elbow to look down at the younger boy. "And what exactly is it I'm doing now?"
Jon looked up in shock, before the truth of the other boy's words sunk in. He didn't need a mother; he had Theon. He smiled shyly and nodded.
Theon settled back down behind Jon and fell silent again.
"I do miss her."
Jon smiled sadly, and wrapped his arm around Theon's.
They still never spoke about why Jon kept coming to Theon's chambers at night, about what it was that had upset Jon that day. But they now sometimes spoke of smaller things, happy things. Sometimes Jon got up the courage to ask Theon about where he came from; sometimes Theon would actually regal him with tales of pirates and his family.
Most of the time they laid in silence though. It was better then. More close. More intimate.
Jon was twelve when Theon started to disappear during the night. The first time Jon had found the older boy's room empty, he had curled up on his side on Theon's bed and cried all night. He didn't mention it when he saw Theon the next day. The second time, and the third, and the fourth, he just turned around and went back to his own room, because crying alone there seemed less pathetic.
He finally stopped going to Theon's chambers altogether when he overheard the other boy bragging about going to the brothel in town every night. Not that Jon could blame him; Theon was seventeen now, practically a man-grown. There was no way he would choose to stay in the castle at night to comfort Jon when he could be out fucking a whore. Jon understood.
That didn't mean it didn't hurt.
Jon didn't understand why he was so upset by that though; he was a bastard after all. He didn't get love and affection and comfort like trueborn children did. But this, Theon not being there, cut him deeper than he ever imagined possible.
So he ignored Theon's tales of his experiences at the brothel, taking to ignoring the boy all together to avoid causing a scene in front of everyone.
At least, he tried to.
"-And then she used her tongue against my-"
"Shut up, Greyjoy!" Everyone in the armoury fell silent when Jon finally exploded. It had been nearly three months, and he just couldn't hold it in anymore. He couldn't stand there and pretend to ignore Theon's bragging. It just hurt too much. "No one wants to here about where your whore stuck her tongue!"
Theon blinked in shock at the younger boy before narrowing his eyes and smirking. "You know what, Snow? I think you're just jealous because no one would ever lay even a hand on a bastard like you, let alone their mouth!"
Jon froze, the taunt hitting him like a slap in the face. He couldn't stay here, not with all the men staring at them, some even whispering in agreement to Theon's statement. He blinked back the hurt tears as he turned and swiftly ran off.
Except Jon didn't know where to go now. He couldn't go to Theon's room, and his own room was too obvious. So he went to the only place he was practically guaranteed to be alone: the weirwood grove. He didn't make it all the way there, though, before he was stopped by a hand grasping his own. He didn't turn around; he knew the feel of that hand.
"Come on." Theon's voice was soft and quiet, but his grip was strong as he pulled Jon by the hand into the castle. Neither said a word as they made their way to Theon's chambers, though Jon had to wonder why the older boy was still holding his hand.
Theon pushed Jon onto his bed and climbed in behind him, pulling the younger boy close, closer than usual. "I'm sorry," he whispered into Jon's ear softly, kissing the boy's cheek. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it."
Jon remained silent for a long time, struggling to hold in the sobs and tears that were threatening to fall. "Why did you come for me?" he finally asked to break the awkward silence.
"Robb told me that you seemed tense lately, and I realized that . . ." Theon paused, before swallowing lightly. "I haven't been here for you. But I'm here now. And I always will be."
Jon bit his lip, but his tears still fell. He had never felt more cared for in his life.
"Hush now. Don't cry anymore."
As Jon grew older, he didn't go to Theon's room as often. He knew that the older boy would want nights to himself in addition to learning how to harden himself so the words and dirty looks people shot him didn't affect him as much. But he was only human. He would only have to shook Theon a look at the dinner table to let the other boy know he was going to show up in his room that night. Surprisingly, Theon was always there.
Jon was extremely grateful for that. He didn't know how he would be able to get along without Theon.
Jon opened Theon's door and slid into the room silently, closing the door behind himself before Ghost could slip in behind him. The older boy was asleep; it had been a long and trying day. In the wake of Lord Stark's acceptance of the position as the Hand of the King, Jon had finally learned what was to become of him when his father went South.
He was to go North, to the Wall.
This had been a dream of his since he had been young. Now, at fourteen, it was coming true. So why then did he feel so . . . Upset by the news?
"Are you going to get in, or are you going to watch me sleep, Snow?"
Jon forced out a laugh and climbed into the bed. In no time at all, Theon's chest was pressed against his back and his arm was around Jon's waist. Jon smiled and snuggled back, his own arm wrapping around Theon's and tangling their fingers together.
He was going to miss this when he was gone.
"I'm going North with Uncle Benjen to join the Night's Watch," he said quietly, speaking about what was bothering him for the first time since they had started doing this.
Theon pushed himself up to look down at the younger boy. "Isn't that what you want?"
"I thought so," Jon admitted softly, turning slightly to look up at Theon. "But then I realized you wouldn't be there."
Theon laughed. "You don't really need me anymore."
"I know." Jon smiled shyly. "But I'll miss this. I'll miss you."
Theon smiled back and leaned down slowly to press a soft kiss to Jon's lips. "Hush now," he said as he pulled back and laid down again. He pulled Jon close once more and closed his eyes.
Jon bit his lip to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall. He had, secretly, always hoped that this day would never come; the day when he would no longer get to feel this close to someone.
"Don't cry anymore."