Do we have to bind your hands, or will you give us your word you'll ride back peaceful? asked Halder.
I won't run, if that's what you mean. Ghost moved out from under the trees and Jon glared at him. "Small help you were," he said. The deep red eyes looked at him knowingly.
We had best hurry, Pyp said. "If we're not back before first light, the Old Bear will have all our heads."
On the ride back, Jon Snow remembered little. It seemed shorter than the journey south, perhaps because his mind was elsewhere. Pyp set the pace, galloping, walking, trotting, and then breaking into another gallop. Mole's Town came and went, the red lantern over the brothel long extinguished. They made good time. Dawn was still an hour off when Jon glimpsed the towers of Castle Black ahead of them, dark against the pale immensity of the Wall. It did not seem like home this time.
They could take him back, Jon told himself, but they could not make him stay. The war would not end on the morrow, or the day after, and his friends could not watch him day and night. He would bide his time, make them think he was content to remain here... and then, when they had grown lax, he would be off again. Next time he would avoid the kingsroad. He could follow the Wall east, perhaps all the way to the sea, a longer route but a safer one. Or even west, to the mountains, and then south over the high passes.