Chapter 1: The Awakening
He wakes with a gasp, panic still flowing in his veins. Men saying the same three words over and over - "For the Watch". Why didn't they realize it was for the Watch? That everything he's done was for their survival? The panic ebbs for just a second, briefly overtaken by anger, but then he remembers something else.
He remembers trying to go for his blade only for his fingers clumsy, stiff fingers brushing against his leathers instead of Longclaw. He realizes too late that he had left the blade in his chambers, too eager to question the wildling who might've seen his uncle.
He can still feel the cold of the blades and the bite of winter as he sunk down in the snow, still hear the wet sound of it tearing through his flesh, still taste his own blood in his mouth. He thinks there might've been tears or regret but things got quite muddy towards the end. It's only now that he can really think of Ghost, wonders what fate his companion would meet? His only blissful thought is he'll finally get to see Arya again...
Except he hadn't realized it would hurt in the after life. He wasn't sure what he expected after he died but it sure as hell wasn't pain or a... a veil on his face? Why was there a veil on his face? His whole body aches as he tries to sit up, but he feels - rather than see - a pair of slim calloused hands push him back down.
"Go back to sleep, you're not healed yet." A voice so familiar yet not, but it still brings tears to his eyes. He wants to get back up to see if it her, but he starts to feel sleep and he wonders if he's been bewitched.
The next time he wakes, there's a man at his side removing the veil from his face, from his whole body actually. Jon can feel a soft prodding here and there before he awkwardly coughs to get his attention. The smile the greets him is almost blinding.
"So, you're finally awake."
Jon isn't sure if he meant it as a statement or as a question so he kept quiet, his eyes never leaving the man.
"Not in the mood to chat I see, just like the other one." He seems to mutter that last part to himself though. He looks at Jon with curiously golden eyes. "I am Apollo, and I have spent the last few days healing you. You can't help us if you're not in good shape."
Jon opens his mouth ready to thank this queer maester for healing him and ask what sort of help he needed, when a girl's laughter interrupts him. He sits up, no longer in pain to face a girl who looks wildly like Ygritte. It made his heart ache to be reminded of her, but thankfully the girl's hair was a brighter red than Ygritte's closer to Apollo's own hair.
"Give credit where credit is due, brother." She smiled at Jon, hers more gentle. "We used a shroud of healing, they are made from the fleece of the Golden Ram. It takes longer than ambrosia but you were never conscious enough to take it without the threat of choking on it. We might be Gods but we can't stop a body's natural reaction to getting things poured down their throats while unconscious.
"And your - I mean Hades said it would be cruel to hit you with arrows - even if they are healing arrows - after you've been stabbed to death."
Jon's brow furrowed in confusion, it was as if they were speaking in tongues with what they claimed they had done. His head jerked up as he realized what she said.
"I died?" Jon asked horrified, he had know that he'd died but to hear it was unsettling. Artemis was about to speak, when he spoke again. This time he was angry, practically burning holes in his own lap as he stared down at his hands. "And you brought me back? I wanted to stay dead! I would have had my family back, I would have seen Father, Robb and - and - and Arya. I couldn't even help myself, let alone my family, so what made you think I would be a good choice?"
The twins looked away from Jon's crumbling form, to stare at each other surprised. Most mortals would be glad to be alive again, to taste the the power of the Gods. The silent conversation they had over Jon's head ended with Artemis smirking as Apollo begrudgingly agreed to respect Hades wishes. They would keep quiet for now.
"We didn't choose you. They did." She pointed past Jon where a pair of figures laid beneath another set of healing shrouds. "Hades, god of death and his wife Persephone, goddess of spring time. They are our uncle and aunt...well she is also our half sister but things like this always get messy among the gods. Please don't ask though," Artemis quickly said before Jon could even think it, waving her hand as if she could make him forget. "Let's just say that the more women our father Zeus beds, the more confusing it gets. But as I was saying, they chose their replacements until they've healed up from the incident."
"What exactly is the incident, you may ask?" Apollo continued for his sister, no longer willing to be sidelined. "Demeter, another relative and Persephone's mother, tried to undo the magic that - in her opinion - forced her daughter to stay in the underworld for part of the year. It didn't go well. Demeter escaped unscathed but the same can't be said for Zeus, Hades and Persephone.
"We've been trying to find a way to wake them up, hence the shrouds to sustain their bodies. Before you ask, Zeus is in another. He hasn't woken either. We need people to take over their powers, to do their jobs until then." Apollo explained, trying to remember how Athena explained this to Zeus' replacement. "It is your choice whether to take on their name as well as their duties, if you don't feel comfortable that's fine. They chose you to help with their job, not to take their identities. Did Persephone speak with you of your duties?"
Jon tried to remember if anything like that happened but the only thing he thinks could have been her was a sweet scent as he fell into the darkness. He shook his head, clearing his thoughts. "But why me? I don't know anything about flowers?"
"...we think we might know why but our promise to the current Hades keeps us from sharing it. But you will know, sooner or later you will know." Artemis said, tilting her head this way and that as if to say it is what it is. She shifted her weight, itching to leave. She never spent long in Olympus, preferring to be with her huntresses on the mortal plane. "For now, you'll be staying here in Olympus and learning to use your powers with some of Demeter's handmaids. If you have need of either of us, just ask them to send a message."
With that they both left him alone, his only company being the two resting figures. Or so he thought until he looked to his side and a slumped figure flickered into existence on the chair next to him. He nearly jumped, but instead he took that moment to observe the girl.
She was skinny, but one would never call her waifish. There was power in her lithe limbs, yet there was a fragility to her folded form. Pale as the moon, clothed in dark colored cottons which more befitting of a fisherman's daughter than a god. He could not see her face, for it was hidden by an oversized war helm. All he could see were strands of dark hair and a long neck. He was reaching for her when he heard the sharp intake of breath and she was gone.
Chapter 2: The Helm Of Darkness
"Why would you want to know about the hell of darkness? Only Hades may use it." Aurai asked, her frown ruining her near perfect features. She was wary of Jon asking about anything concerning Hades. She had come to accept this boy as Persephone's temporary replacement, something Demeter herself could not claim. The goddess hated him, as if he were the cause of her problems. She left him to the minor deities of nature, preferring to sulk away from him as she worked on keeping the plants thriving.
"The girl who has his job, she wears it all the time. Why is it?" Jon pressed hoping they would have answer other than 'we can't tell you'. He had hoped that after spending weeks with him Aurai will trust him but the nymph is unmovable. But perhaps asking about the hell itself would be better. "Is it magic?"
"You can create life, flowers bloom and die as you take a step yet you ask about a helm?" She wrinkles her nose, wondering how an unnatural piece of metal can hold his attention more than the beauty of nature, then again he is mortal but above all he is a man. Men and their toys, she thinks amused. "The helm of darkness was created for the war against the Titans. The Titans were the ones before us, for some they were their creator. Mortals think these gods can be cruel but the Titans were worse. Part of the war was to protect mortals but for the most part was for our own survival."
"Each brother got their own weapon: Zeus - his thunderbolt, Poseidon - his triton, and Hades - the helm. The helm allowed him to be undetectable, the war turned in our favor and my little brother, Hades became a monster to protect us all." A new voice continued, startling Jon and Aurai both. The modestly clad Hestia stood behind them, her staff glowing with the flames of the hearth. "Without Hades, we would still be in Tartarus, driven as mad as my father. Without Hades, we would still be fighting the Titans or worse have lost the war."
"Zeus and Poseidon were just as powerful." Aurai said quickly, both gods had a way of knowing of when they had been insulted or belittle whether it was on the godly plane or mortal. She would rather not face their wraths.
"But they were foolish, taking risks that did not need to be taken. Hades was able to take out our enemies before they even knew what happened. But enough of the war, I came to see you, Jon Snow." Hestia said tiredly, talking of the war brought back dark memories that she did not want. She gestured Jon to follow her.
Jon followed, he found that he like Hestia best out of all the Gods; she was kind, honest, and immensely patient. More often than not, she brought back memories of his father. They kept walking until the air began to chill and the meadows turned to woodland.
"You ask about the hell because she has been using it, you've seen her."
"Yes, just for a few second at a time. Almost as if she forgets she's supposed to hide before she slips away. I've tried to talk to her when I think she's there, offer for her to join me. I haven't spoken to her or the Zesus replacement, it seems stupid but I miss talking to other mortals. Not that you Gods aren't kind, it's just..." Jon finished awkwardly, trying to figure out a way to say it without insulting her or anyone else. After dying, he has become more wary of what his actions will make others do. But Hestia looks amused as she says,
"Only a mortal can understand a mortal?"
"Yes. One would think I'd want no mortal near me after my murder but I can't hate all mortals because of the actions of a few. That's what my father would tell me." Jon mused, scratching his head. The farther they walk the colder it becomes, he thought living in the North as a mortal and now living as a God like being would keep him from being cold but he shivers in his loose silks. Had he know they would travel to a colder area he would have prepared.
Rather reluctantly he used his powers, making himself a cloak from the plants. It should have felt damp and uncomfortable yet it wove itself into something warm and thick. But still he felt uncomfortable having this power. Hestia smiled, Jon was taking great strides in developing his power in his own way.
"Do you recognize where we are Jon?"
Taking a glance around, he realized it was the Godswoods of Winterfell. He saw the oak tree he and Robb had damaged as children, they had nearly broken off a branch but there was an obvious lump where tree mended itself. There was the heated pools, faint steam rising off it. He nearly expected to find his father below the heart tree, sharpening Ice. Instead there was a small dark form laying against the stone.
"This is the Godswoods, the ones in Winterfell. But how?"
"You made it without even realizing it. Know that you've brought a great comfort to other with it. But this is not why I brought you here. You and the girl, you two remind me much of when Hades first saw Persephone. Arya is lucky that the helm doesn't see what she's doing as abusing it power." Hestia kept her eyes on the slumbering form, she knew very well the girl would be unhappy with what she did but it was better for both of them if they finally saw each other face to face. Jon looked at her questioningly, she answered his unspoken question. "It is said that the helm will curse those who would try to steal it or abuse it's powers, it would use it power to create fear on the wearer driving them to madness. But Hades had done this very thing in the past. He would occasionally use the helm to watch on Persephone. It was amusing to see Arya repeating the past. "
"Hestia, how do you know all this?"
"My siblings and other gods may be kind but he trusts me. But not because I am his oldest sister, we formed a bond he and I formed within Cronus, one that is lasting. The same can't be said for others who were trapped with us. We share more than our other siblings. We understand the weight the other carries within them. And now Jon Snow," Hestia urged him. She went as far as giving him a push towards the heart tree. "You must trust yourself, trust your own feelings no matter where they lead you for they are true."
One moment she was behind to him and the next she was gone. Jon took one step, then another, and another. He was less than a few yards away when he let himself really look at the sleeping form. His breath caught and his heart stop.
He sprinted the last few feet, skidding to a stop at the base of the heart tree. Sleeping soundly on a moss covered rock was Arya, and next to her loosely clasped hands was the helm of darkness. Gods, she still looked as he remembered. She grew into her long face, her hair still as messy as a bird's nest, and he knew her eyes would be as grey as a storm. His hand reached for her, gently touch her soft cheek.
Arya stirred, being a faceless man usually had your senses heightened yet she woke much more slowly than she usually would. Unfortunately that frightened her, for it meant she felt safe. But there were currently only two people she felt safe with in Olympus, and they were two people she swore would never see her face while they were all here. Arya feared that if saw into her eyes they would see everything she had done to survive, especially the bad things.
With her eyes still firmly closed, she tried to grab the helm. But before she could reach it, it was dragged out of her reach. Arya cringed at the sound, hoping that it wasn't scratched. She heard the soft think of something or rather someone sitting next to her.
"Arya, please don't hide yourself."
Jon's voice was so soft and broken, she wanted to climb into his lap and pepper him with kisses till he felt better. But that meant she had to open her eyes, something she really didn't want to do. Arya could feel his large hands, Gods, she always felt small holding his hand but being manhandled by him onto his lap made her feel delicate almost like lady. Something in her fluttered with warmth.
"Arya, look at me. Please."
She opened her eyes, his dark gray eyes looked back at her filling with tears just like her own. Arya lunged for him, wrapping herself around him as tightly as she could. The ground could fall apart beneath them but she still would never let go.
"Jon," her voice sounded so small and fragile to her own ears. "I did some very bad things."
Chapter 3: Zeus Enlightens
I'm gonna be one percent honest, when I first wrote this chapter the first part of it, i hated it. It felt like a uber long 'previously on supernatural' finale recaps where they show everything despite the fact that you know what happened that season. Thank God I rewrote it. I think I'm just going to do one final spell check once this is all posted because I keep seeing autocorrections when there shouldn't be.
It took them a long time to tell their tales. Arya had gone first hoping he would still look at her with an open heart. Arya told him everything, once she started talking it seemed as she couldn't stop. From her first kill - that bully from the stables, his death is a small regret - to three names she had given Jaqen H'ghar - she waits for him to berate her for choosing wrong but he doesn't say anything, just squeezes her to his chest - to the cruel soldiers that dotted her journey.
He hears of her friends; the ones who lived and left her, the one that died. Her throat tightens when she tells him of living part of the Red Wedding when she was still traveling with the Hound. The Hound was a terrible man but one who knew his sins and never sought forgiveness. His name no longer graces her list but she knows not whether he lived or died that day she left him. But the Hound died for her that day. She can't let herself regret that.
She skips over a few things she deemed unimportant. He learns of Braavos, the training she went through with the faceless men - that was when the horror started to bleed through his expression and his hands start to feel like a cage - her eagerness to take avenge her water dancer teacher by killing Meryn Trant, her subsequent punishment and redemption. It was her unwillingness to kill Lady Crane that got her here, Arya isn't sure if she died or if there was a part of her still alive in Essos.
In turn she hears all about the Night's Watch. That it wasn't anything like the grand tales they had grown up on. How his life hadn't change as drastically as hers; he had been treated as lesser for a while, not because of his bastard status but because he had thought himself to be better than they were despite it. He'd only been given better opportunities.
Jon tells her he nearly abandoned his vows not long after he took them, and that he would have done it all for them had it not been for his brothers convincing him not to - he expected a gasp of shock but Arya only squeezed him, silently telling him it was okay.
The wight amazed her nearly as much as the free folk. Jon tried to let her understand that most of them were much like the people they grew up with, there were good people and bad. He told her of his time with Ygritte sounding half fond half frustrated, he doesn't want to speak of the foul things he did to earn and keep the trust of the Free Folk but he refused to hide it after all that Arya told him.
"I broke my vow." He speaks barely above a whisper. "I took her as my prisoner - she liked saying I stole her, and to the Free Folk that is as good as marriage. Sometimes she would do something or say something that would remind me of you," He didn't say exactly what reminded him, his gaze falling to the line of her body, no longer boyishly slim. It was hard to connect the skinny girl from his youth to the young woman in his arms. "She made it bearable...I liked her, mayhaps even loved her. But I couldn't forsake my duty for her. She almost killed me but she died once they invaded Castle Black."
Jon waits to hear some sort of anger for breaking his vows for a woman but not their family, for a moment he forgets that Arya has faced her own harsh reality. Her response is a soft murmur of comfort, more a sad sigh than anything else. He goes on about his near assassination attempt on Mance Ryder, Stannis Baratheon of all people saving him, Stannis' attempts to control the Free Folk by threatening Mance, Mance's execution, being chosen as the 998th Lord Commander. He even tells her about Stannis offering him Lordship of Winterfell if he gave him the wildlings as an army to retake the North, and his subsequent refusal.
"I tried to be a good leader, tried to be a good man like Jeor Mormont. But what they never tell you is good men don't last long in power. I wanted to bring them all on our side of the Wall so there'd be less for us to fight once the Night King came. To keep Mance's promise of keep them safe, even though the man himself was unwilling to bend the knee if it meant their safety.
"I got their trust and tried to evacuate them. It was too late. I fought the dead, I saw those I couldn't save rise with eerie blue eyes. Sometimes I feel that going back to Castle Black was my biggest mistake. I died Arya, for doing what I thought was right, something some of my brothers disagreed."
Both were quiet as they processed what the other had said. They didn't get much chance to though just as Arya was opening her mouth to say nothing's changed, that she still loves him and wants to stay with him, that she sees him.
Jon twists around so his body is shielding Arya. He's almost afraid to look but the man in front of him is undeniably Ned Stark from his bearded face to the rich Northern leathers on his body. Acting as if they were both children, they scrambled off the ground and rushed Ned. His arms were around them, they all went like infants.
Arya had known Father was here, had spied on him when she was not watching Jon. She ached to be near him, wanted to cry and be held in his arms until she was sure he was alive. But she had been wary, her father died before she grew up into who she was. Worry gnawed at her, while she always thought he and Jon would be the ones to always love her unconditionally no matter what she did, a part of her doubted her father would now.
Ned had watch his children from afar before revealing his presence. He was glad to have some of his children back in his arms. But watching them had given strength to what Aphrodite had said to him. As Zeus he had power over other gods, a power he didn't want to abuse like his predecessor but he had asked Apollo to show him what has happened since he was beheaded.
He saw the paths his family walked as well the dark fate of few. Aphrodite had come across him, attracted by the fierce love he felt for Cat. But it was Arya and Jon who caught her attention. She had called their bond beautiful, unbreakable, fated.
"The touches they've shared, the longing in their hearts for the other, separated by death and reunited by gods. Theirs is bond born of solidarity of being outcasts within their own family, the years they've spent together will be a base for their love." Aphrodite sighed sweetly, almost wistfully. Most couples she paired felt lust first, never love. It was refreshing to see something like this. She was unbothered by the incest - whether they were simply half siblings or the cousins they truly were - it did not matter to her.
Ned kept quiet, he did not feel like it was his place to argue with a goddess who could see and control love. But he wanted to, he wanted to yell that it was natural for siblings to have that sort of devotion. That he had loved his sister enough to sully his own reputation to protect her son, what brother wouldn't?
But then he remembers the first time Jon held Arya. Arya had wailed, refusing to take the breast or sleep. She squirmed too much for Maester Luwin to give her a sleeping draught, Catelyn at her last wits had left Arya in her crib so her dark emotions would not lash out. It was then that Ned took the chance to show Jon the newest addition to the family.
Arya still yowled, her tiny fists waving in the air as Ned held her. Jon had been scared to hold her, she was puce colored in her anger. But the second he held her, she quieted blinking up at Jon who looked at her with such awe, it almost scared Ned.
From then on they had always been so intertwined. Many of Arya's first were given to Jon; her first giggle, her first word, her first steps. Everything that ever matter to Arya, she always ran to show Jon first. And he was always drying her tears and fixing her hair; he encouraging her, lifting her her spirits as she did the same for him. Ned can't imagine them not having each other.
"And yet he holds her at arms length because he won't be allowed to keep her. Had you lived and never revealed the truth to Jon Snow, it would have caused them so much heartache. Their souls have been so intertwined, they should've never parted. But that's what happened when you accepted being Hand yet refusing would not have changed the heartache they'd have felt because you would've continue to keep the truth from them. He - the supposed bastard - feeling something other than brotherly love for his high born half sister, he would have pulled away. It would have hurt him though."
"What would you have me do?" Ned asked but he knew what he must do.
"You already made you choice. Now find them."
His feet had led him here to the Godswoods, finding them curled on each and it strengthened his resolve. Now he sat with his children - for Jon would always be his son even if he hadn't sired him - and prepared to reveal Jon's hidden history.
"I have kept a secret that has haunted me for years." He began, staring at the pool rather than at Jon. Despite the chill of the land, he could still feel the burning sun and the dry heat of Dorne, and the scent of blood hung in the air. To Jon and Arya, it seemed as if their father had lost himself within himself. "Jon, I am not your father."
The world freezes for a moment, Jon's heart stops then stutters back into beating. Of all the things he expected, his father claiming that was never a possibility.
"Uncle Benjen is Jon's father then?" Arya questioned feeling slightly relieved by the revelation, but quickly answered her question herself. "No, he said he was barely left boyhood when the Robert's Rebellion began. Is Jon Uncle Brandon's son?"
"No, no Stark sired Jon...but he is still the blood of my blood." Ned spoke in that cryptic sort of way he once hated. A sharp gasp left Jon as he realized there was only one choice left. Jon was almost scared to voice it.
"Aunt Lyanna wasn't my aunt was she? She was my mother." Jon whispered as another revelation hit him. "And she is the same Lyanna who was kidnapped and raped by Rhaegar Targaryen. She died in Dorne - not because of a simple fever as you always told us, no! It was birthing fever! She died because of him, because of me!"
Jon was shouting by the end of it, he had pulled away from both Arya and his father - no, his uncle. He started pacing, his hands tugging at his hair, he paused when he heard footsteps approaching him.
"It's not that simple and you know it! You can't tell me after everything you've lived through that things are so one sided." Ned yelled, trying to plant himself in Jon's way. His grey eyes looked more like steel as he stared at Jon, so sure in what he believed. "I can't say the blame lies solely with Rhaegar! Lyanna wanted to leave, she wanted him but after the deaths of our kin she wanted to leave Rhaegar. But she never thought ahead, she never thought of the consequences of her actions until it was too late. She was married to him beneath a heart tree by a septon and his Kingsguard as witness, she was in Dorne, she was with child. What could she do but wait?
"I did all that I could to save her. After failing to save Elia Martell and her children, I was desperate to at least save my sister from that wretched war. I fought dishonorably but I was too late. She was dying and there was nothing I could do to save her. Lyanna knew she wouldn't survive, but she wanted to save you. She held you tight, murmured your name then begged me to save you, made me promise to protect you. And I did and I would do it again."
That didn't make it any better, of anything it agitated Jon even further. He felt nauseous as he remembered the fate of the Princess Consort and her children - his true half brother and sister. He almost wished he wasn't born, that his parents hadn't been so foolish. Mayhaps those who died wouldn't have.
Jon had to face many harsh truths in his life as a bastard but this was one he would rather forget. He would rather go back to being Jon Snow than to know the truth. He nearly flinched when he felt a thin hand circle his bicep.
"Jon." Arya said, her eyes searching his face. She didn't look at him differently. She looked at him like he was the same boy she grew up with and loved. But she was wrong, he wasn't that boy. Was he ever that boy? As if she read his mind, she assured him, "You're still you. Father raised you. You live. It doesn't matter what your name is or who your parents were. You're Jon, and I will always love you."
She looked to her father for support, Ned ruffled Jon's hair in a familiar gesture. Jon was taken back to his childhood, running to his father and pressing his face to Ned's thigh before grinning as Ned combed his hair.
"Nothing will change my love for you. I promise."