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What Lies Beyond

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Jon

 

Being the Lord Commander was a position he never expected to take. There at his desk, there was much to do and many things to think about. Sam had been with him since the early morning, drafting scrolls that would be sent out to the other Lords in the North at a later date, asking for men and supplies.

Olly had knocked on the door just then, walking in enough to hand Sam a scroll before he marched back to go aid Maester Aemon.

“Who is it from?” asked Jon, noticing the look on Sam’s face.

“It’s a Hand of the King seal,” he stammered, handing it over.

Jon looked at the red wax. Indeed, it was the Hand of the King—Tywin Lannister. Jon tapped it against the table until he handed it back over to Sam.

“Aren’t you going to read it?”

“Nothing that man has to say is worth my time,” he spat out, the memory of Robb filtering back to him and how the Lannisters orchestrated his murder—his poor brother, slaughtered at a wedding we was supposed to be a guest at, a wound that was still fresh in Jon’s heart.

Sam, however, knew better. “It could be important.”

“Read it to me, then,” he relented gruffly, sitting back in the chair with a clenched jaw.

Sam read off the scroll:

 

Lord Commander Jon Snow,

We congratulate you on your new prestigious position as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch at Castle Black. With careful consideration from the Small Council upon hearing this news, the Crown has decided to grant you a Lady. Though this had never occurred in Westeros history and may be looked upon as imprudent by some, we are confident that the well thought out decision will result in mutual benefits.

Though not officially married, it is decided that there will be recognition within the Night’s Watch members that Daenerys Targaryen will be given the title of the Lady Commander alongside of the Lord Commander. She wields no power to the Night’s Watch, but is there to support and satisfy the Lord Commander.

In addition, you will be pleased to know that we are rounding up a few hundred men who will be departing soon for the Wall, as we hope this will provide you with some much needed aid. We look forward to an established relationship between the Crown and Castle Black as you defend the Realm from what lies beyond the Wall.

Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King

 

Jon stared at Sam the whole time, every word stranger than the one before it. He thought that it was all some big joke, just Sam and Olly conspiring together to try to lift his spirits with some trick. But, no, it was no joke—that was the horrific part.

Jon snatched the scroll out of Sam’s hand and read it once, twice, and then a third time. The Crown has decided to grant you a Lady. What kind of madness was that? He was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, not some Lord of a castle.

She wields no power to the Night’s Watch, but is there to support and satisfy the Lord Commander.

Jon’s stomach twisted up at the words. Satisfy? What was wrong with these people? Had they no clue as to the vows of the Night’s Watch? Did hundreds of years of continuous tradition not matter?

Of course not.

They were Lannisters. Nothing mattered to them except their money and their power—and how they could use it to manipulate those around them.

“The Small Council,” Jon repeated smugly, still staring at the pretty penmanship, anger stirring inside of him. “I’m sure Cersei Lannister alone made this decision.”

Even her name got a rise out of him. The Lannisters had murdered half his family, and the other half, well, mostly their whereabouts were unknown.

Jon picked up a quill to begin a letter back to them.

“Why would she do that?”

Jon paused, then threw the inked quill down onto the table before he made a bad decision, the ink hitting a stray piece of paper, causing a stain. “Because I’m Eddard Stark’s son, the only one left, as far as they knew, and she must be thinking that there is still a threat. The North rallies around a Stark, not a Bolton. Even being a Snow, my father once told me I still have his blood, Stark blood.”

Sam understood where Jon was going. “Ahh...they want to keep you here at Castle Black so they’re placating you…with a woman?

Jon wanted to bang his head onto the desk, but instead he crinkled up Tywin’s scroll and tossed it to the side. It was absurd—sending the Lord Commander a woman, and not just any woman, Daenerys Targaryen.

Rumor had it that Cersei Lannister, in her youth, had viewed the small girl who had just been born as no threat at the end of Robert’s Rebellion, just a small girl much like herself at one point in time—motherless. If rumors were true, Cersei Lannister herself had paid for the safe passage of Daenerys, still a newborn, to the Dornish, where she remained under their care in silence, having agreed with Stannis Baratheon that no harm should come to her when he took Dragonstone.

That was back when Cersei was younger and of a softer heart—again, if the rumor was true.

That was not the case anymore, which was why Jon’s father, Robb, and Lady Catelyn were dead. The rest of his family was scattered—Bran was on the other side of the Wall somewhere, Rickon’s whereabouts were unknown, Arya was presumed to the dead, and Sansa was married off to Tyrion Lannister, still trapped in King’s Landing.

Jon was half surprised the Lannisters didn’t find a way to do away with Daenerys, but Jon assumed that there would be a price to pay for any mysterious death, given that Dorne was never fond of the Lannisters to begin with. There was also the addition of peace being always fragile with Dorne, especially now that word had spread they had Myrcella Baratheon in their clutches.

With Daenerys at the age when girls were married off and were able to have children and being the sole survivor from a family who had ruled for three hundred years, the Small Council decided the smartest option was to send her to the Wall. Sent to Jon Snow so she could have no more Targaryens to threaten their royal status. Jon had to admit, it was a good plan on their part with their line of thinking—two potential threats tied together up in frozen land and out of their way.

“They must not know that Stannis Baratheon is here right now,” Jon sighed, rubbing his temples, “and that I am giving him and his army a place to stay until they march south.”

“Or perhaps they do. You can never be sure with they way they play the game. My father always used to say that Lannisters liked to play games.”

Sam was completely right. A game, that was what it was to them. Nevermind the lives of others and how the Lannister’s actions or decisions affected them. As long as they were still on top in the end, there was not a care in the world.

Once Sam left, Jon immediately put his elbows onto the table with a thud and rested his head into his palms. As if there was not enough to worry about, the news he received that day was added to his plate.

Sam was unusually quiet the following day when he came back to see Jon. Under normal circumstances, Jon would not think twice about it, in fact, he would relish the silence so he could better strategize, but silence coming from Sam was never a good thing. The boy liked to talk, and not talking signaled something going on below the surface, something that Jon could not ignore with his friend.

“Is something wrong, Sam?”

“Oh, no,” he passed it off, waving his hand in denial, “I’m just thinking.”

“About?” he probed, trying to get it out of him.

Sam was hesitant, easing into the conversation gently. “I was just talking with Gilly last night about the changes that will be happening soon and she is happy there will be another girl here. She offered to be like one of those handmaidens for Daenerys, if that’s alright with you. My sister and mother always had a bunch. It’ll give her something to do where she is away from Ser Allister’s sights. Fix her hair, make her bed, those sorts of tasks.”

Jon had woken up that morning without getting a lot of sleep, hoping it had all been some sort of dream. But it hadn’t, and he could currently be classified as irritable, Sam’s rambling speech setting him off.

“I know what a handmaiden is, Sam,” he snapped, voice low. He then realized he shouldn’t have done such a thing and apologized. “I’m sorry.”

“I understand, you’re under a lot of stress. This news doesn’t make things any better. But, if I may, can I ask what it is you plan to do when Daenerys gets here?”

The question alone made his jaw pop going from side to side. Jon really did not know what was expected of him in such a unique scenario. There was no book to tell him, no one else to discuss their experience, as there was no previous Lady coming to the Wall to live out her days with the rest of them.

The travel from Dorne would take some time, but the letter had never specified an anticipated time of arrival. Another troubling aspect was that for all he knew, Daenerys had been in route for a fortnight, more, or she could still be in Dorne. The timeline was murky, much to Jon’s displeasure.

“I don’t know. Part of me still doesn’t believe they are sending her here at all, but that is just wishful thinking. I know she is coming. I can’t imagine she is thrilled about being sent to the Wall after spending her life in Dorne with the Martells.”

She was headed from the warmest and driest place in Westeros to the coldest and most brutal conditions. The adjustment, Jon gathered, would take a long time.

Sam sat down in the chair across from Jon, thoughtful. “What do you think she’ll be like?”

Jon had never heard much about Daenerys, as he thought the idea was to keep her in Dorne and away from other eyes so that people would forget about her and the Targaryens altogether. He remembered Theon once saying years ago that someone had told him that she was a beauty with her unique features, but nothing else was said. With nothing to go on, Jon was in the dark about who Daenerys Targaryen was.

“Hopefully adaptive,” Jon replied sarcastically.

Castle Black was certainly no Sunspear.

Jon was about to start another round of training with the weather being cooperative that day when he ran into Stannis Baratheon on the stairs, who was watching the men group together in the courtyard, getting their gear on for their session.

Jon strolled up beside him. “Your Grace, there’s something you should know.”

“And what is that?” he asked dully, not looking at Jon, not even moving a muscle.

Typical Stannis.

Jon pulled his glove on all the way, placing it onto the railing that was covered by a thin sheet of ice from a recent storm, it not warm enough to melt away. “I got a raven from King’s Landing telling me that a woman is being sent here to the Wall.”

There was the smallest movement in his direction, slightly interested, but definitely not intrigued. “Why is that?”

“For me, apparently,” he half laughed. “The Lannisters sees it fit to give the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch a Lady. Apparently, she is to be given the title of Lady Commander.” As strange as it was to say out loud, Jon added, “Better Lady Commander than Lady Snow, I presume, as it is sounds as if it is supposed to be similar to a union of marriage without the vows.”

Stannis resumed his original position and it inhibited Jon from seeing if there was a reaction on his face to the news. “Who are they sending?”

He tapped his finger against the railing three times before announcing, “Daenerys Targaryen.”

Jon saw that Stannis let his body go rigid, more than usual. Jon decided he wanted to do some digging into past events. Since he was the Lord Commander, he had the ability to ask questions about those within the walls of Castle Black, even if it was the self-proclaimed King of the Seven Kingdoms.

“Before she arrives, I was hoping you would be so kind as to enlighten me about how she ended up in Dorne. I know the rumors of what happened, if there is any truth to it. Did Cersei Lannister really tell you to not harm Daenerys when you arrived at Dragonstone to take the castle?”

Stannis turned towards Jon, peeling his eyes away from the training below. “Do you want to know what Cersei Lannister said to me? She said that only if it was a girl that Queen Rhaella gave birth to was she to be saved, that they might be able to use a girl for someone else in the future. A boy, however, well, you can imagine she did not want that given she was marrying my brother, Robert, who was going to take the Crown.”

Jon was thrown a bit off kilter by the tale Stannis told. However, it did make perfect sense. Cersei had not been as merciful as she had been in the rumors but had been plotting all along.

“Were you going to kill Daenerys if Cersei hadn’t told you what to do?” he asked out of curiosity, knowing Stannis Baratheon would give another honest answer. “To give her over to Dorne?”

Stannis stared at Jon for a beat, almost as if he was not sure as to why Jon would ask him such a thing. “No,” he said coldly, not wanting to admit it, but not going to lie either. “I’m not like them.”

He said them as if it were the vilest scum that ever lived. On second thought, it was not that far off from the truth…

“No, you’re not,” Jon agreed.

“I don’t kill babies. Can Tywin Lannister say the same?”

“I’m guessing not.”

“And Cersei did not tell me to give her to Dorne, that was another.”

Another?

Who?

He was about to ask, but Stannis quickly launched into a new speech.

“I cringe when I look back and think about all the signs there were. I remember when I conspired with Cersei Lannister against my brother’s wishes to save that girl,” Stannis said dryly, looking up to the sky. “He was my own brother, my blood, and I chose her side over everyone else’s. Who does that? She manipulated me. I should have known then that she would be a traitorous woman. She had my brother killed, I don’t doubt it, and she certainly never bore any of his children. Leave it to Cersei Lannister to send a Daenerys Targaryen to the damn Night’s Watch…for you. Absurd.”

For some unknown reason, the absurd part at the end gave him a small twinge of pain. It was absurd, yet hearing it out loud by someone else was harder to hear than in his own voice.

“I don’t regret it, saving her,” Stannis admitted, voice still monotone. “She was just born when I got there, her mother already gone. I was the first man to ever hold her, and there in my arms, I knew that no matter what my brother wanted, she didn’t deserve to die for the sins of her father or eldest brother.”

Jon nodded along, his line of thinking mirroring Stannis’. “You’ll be a good King,” he mentioned. “When will you march for Winterfell?”

“Soon.”

One thing that irritated Jon about Stannis was his lack of specification about certain things, especially the matter they were discussing. Jon thought it might be best if Stannis and his army left before Daenerys was to arrive, given the history that was just uncovered, but he was not about to tell that to him—as he must have already come to that conclusion.

“The Boltons will be ready for you,” Jon started, his mouth twitching with anger over the betrayal Roose Bolton delivered towards Robb and the Stark family. “I hope the information I provided you about the castle serves you well.”

“It will.” Stannis looked to be contemplating something in his head, strategy playing out. “You say you have to refuse my offer of being Jon Stark, about serving as Warden of the North due to your duty to the Night’s Watch, yes?”

Jon nodded slowly. “Aye.”

“What of your children?”

Jon gave him an incredulous look. “What?”

Stannis wasted no time in explaining. “If Daenerys Targaryen ever gives you a child, I’ll name him the Heir to Winterfell, a legitimate Stark, and one day they will serve as Warden of the North on my behalf.”

Jon almost could not believe his ears, and it had been the second time in two days that had happened. It was lucky for him that Stannis had turned his attention elsewhere in the last second or he would have seen the dumb look that took over Jon’s face. A child? With Daenerys? Was Stannis mad along with the Lannisters?

Jon could have outright told him that there was no possibility of that, but he did not. Instead, something entirely different came out. “And what if it were to be a girl?” he asked mindlessly.

 “Wardeness of the North,” he replied out the side of his mouth.

Stannis had a quick answer to everything.

“I made a vow to not father any children,” he announced, gripping the railing.

Stannis sharply exhaled out his nose loudly, amused. “I know the vows you’ve made. I’d repeat them but they’re rather boring and we all know very few of these members adhere to all of them, you included.”

It was a fair enough point that Jon didn’t argue, even if he took some offense to the statement since he was the Lord Commander. But he was right, even Jon had broken vows before he took his new role. There was no denying it.

Stannis turned once again, his whole body facing Jon, and looked him right in the eyes. “Listen closely to me. I understand that you are deemed as a bastard, but Daenerys is not. She is highborn. When I am King, I will make sure any children she might bear you will carry the last name Stark. A Stark in the North is of paramount importance to the future. You and I both know that is why Daenerys Targaryen is being shipped here to you, and that is because the Lannisters are nervous that on a whim you could march to Winterfell and take it over again. The Boltons don’t have the full support of the North, and the remaining Houses, if given the chance, would rally behind you. You know this. I know this. The Lannisters know this. They’re doing what they can to keep you in your place by tying your fate to another.”

Jon opened his mouth to say something, but no words came to him. What did one say to a deliverance like that?

Stannis Baratheon was a cold man, Jon learned that much from him with his stay at Castle Black, not showing much of any emotion, but his next sentence surprised him entirely. “Take good care of her,” he told him, almost warning him.

He walked off after that, propelling off the railing, and Jon watched him go, standing there in a state of what might have been confusion. He looked up at the clouded sky, shades of gray coloring it in, not believing that he had just been told what he had.

If everything had not been odd enough, they got even stranger when Melisandre came to see Jon that same day, just as the sun was dipping down over the horizon. Jon was at his desk, reviewing some papers when the Red Woman opened the door, interrupting him. She was not someone who every knocked and it led Jon to believe she thought herself to be entitled, an irritating trait of hers.

The Red Woman was hard to read, staring blankly at him until Jon was forced to say, “Is there something I can do for you, My Lady?”

“Daenerys Stormborn is a gift far greater than you will ever know,” she told him, eloquently accentuating her words with an even toned voice, not blinking.

Jon’s lips parted, unsure of how to reply to that, which was the second time that day someone had rendered him speechless. Melisandre had rushed right into exactly what she wanted to tell him, no courtesies of any sort. Her eyes were staring him down, looking as if she had seen something that she did not want to. It made Jon uncomfortable, wishing she would leave him be. He never liked her being around.

Maybe next time he should remember to lock the door…

“I have seen her in the flames,” the Red Woman continued, sauntering towards Jon until she was before the table, staring at him wildly, as if she was suddenly unsure of all she had seen before. “She is destined for greatness. The Lord of Light has shown her to me for a reason.”

It was the type of moment when Jon wished Sam had not left a little while ago, wanting another person there to buffer the tension and come up with a witty reply. Everything she preached about the Lord of Light nonstop was slightly ludicrous to Jon, and frankly, it was getting on his nerves.

“You’ll have to excuse me, but these visions in the flames don’t seem to be very reliable.”

Melisandre ignored him entirely, as if she had not heard him at all.

“The Lord of Light has sent her here for a reason, Jon Snow. It would be wise of you to embrace it. Together, you may accomplish more than you can ever imagine.”

With Olly entering the room, Jon exhaled at the interruption, telling him not to go, that Melisandre was about to leave. Melisandre, examining Jon one last time, pulled herself back together to file back out the door and Jon was once again left in a bit of a daze. Still, her words played back to him.

Together, you may accomplish more than you can ever imagine.

Another raven arrived at the Wall a couple of days later, that time from Dorne, which meant it skipped over all pleasantries and got straight to the point, which Jon found to admire.

 

Lord Commander,

Daenerys Targaryen is a precious treasure to us all here in Dorne, like a daughter to me, and I would highly advise you to keep her well and out of harm’s way. It would be a shame for me to have to make my presence known there at the Wall.

Oberyn Martell, Prince of Dorne

 

Sam looked up, a bit shocked. “Is he threatening you?”

Jon smirked, letting it slide. “I think he means well, but, yes, he is.”

Sam let the letter fall to the desk with all the other letters that had been received by Castle Black. “I hear Oberyn Martell is a grand fighter. A man like that doesn’t get known as the Red Viper for no reason at all. If only he were here at the Wall as a member. We could use a man of that skill.”

“Indeed, we could.”

Sam took another look at the letter, unable to keep it out of his grasp for long. “It’s a bit odd, don’t you think? Elia Martell was abandoned by Rhaegar Targaryen, yet they seem awfully concerned about how Daenerys, Rhaegar’s sister, is going to fair here.”

“It was the Lannisters, allegedly, that killed Elia Martell, not Targaryens,” Jon muttered. “As a member of House Tarly, I know you would have heard the rumors.”

And those rumors, they were horrid. How anyone could do that to a child, Jon found it repulsive.

“You’re right, I have heard them, unfortunately.” Sam shrugged. “Well, maybe the Martells are just nice people,” he offered, awkward, hopeful smile playing out on his face.

“There sure aren’t too many of those around.”

Sam collected some scrolls that needed to be sent, hurrying before the winds outside picked up too much. “I’m certain you’ll get the full story when Daenerys arrives. When is that exactly?”

“No other ravens have come since the first about that. I imagine she has got to be close, as long as they took a ship as far North as they can.”

Not even the Dornish letter had mentioned when she had left. With every passing day, Jon grew more anxious as he awaited the arrival. Tomorrow would be the day he gathered the Night’s Watch members to give them the information that Jon had received. He was not anticipating the news to go over well, especially with people like Ser Allister. Unfortunately, Jon could not do anything, all he could do was wait.

Four days had passed by when Jon entered his room during the day to find five large wooden trunks in his room all lined up one after the other. Olly was in the corner struggling to maneuver one of them to be arranged up against the wall.

“Olly, what is this?”

Olly stood up straight, putting his hands behind his back. “Some of Lady Daenerys’ things arrived today.” He hesitated, looking at the trunks, second guessing himself. “Should I not have put them here?”

It occurred to him then that he should have a separate room made up for her. Jon was by no means going to force this woman to share his room or his bed.

Jon stayed put in the spot he had halted in, scratching the back of his head. “You can leave them here for now,” he explained, motioning back to the open door. “We need a private room set up for her.”

Olly nodded and headed for the door.

“Olly?”

“Yes, Lord Commander?”

“Did whoever dropped these off say when to expect her?”

“A couple of days, most likely. It was said that bad weather kept Lady Daenerys and her escorts back.”

He dismissed the boy. “Thank you, Olly.”

Jon looked over at the trunks, noticing the Targaryen sigil on them, carved right into the dark wood. The Martells really had been accommodating to their guest after all, knowing they would have paid for the trunks to be made specifically for Daenerys, the expensive wood imported to Dorne.

Jon sucked in a breath, sitting down on the edge of his bed there in the Lord Commander’s chambers. He stared at the trunks, thinking about how her things were packed inside, thinking about how Castle Black was going to be her home.

Jon told himself that he would have to let Maester Aemon know tomorrow so he had ample time to prepare himself, as he had not been present at the meeting where Jon told everyone about their new guest—a shocking revelation that had caused a bit of an uproar among a few, which Jon had to swiftly stifle. He had read the scroll from the Hand of the King aloud, censoring some of the parts, especially the satisfy the Lord Commander part. They all understood who made the decision, but that did not make it any easier. Ser Allister looked as if Jon himself had sent for Daenerys.

Jon gave them all a necessary warning about his expectations of their behavior—no one was to touch her, which was Jon’s main concern, knowing some were past rapists, and most had not seen a woman in years, apart from Gilly.

The trunks arriving was a sure sign that Daenerys was not far behind. Jon pinched the bridge of his nose, falling backwards onto the bed.

A few days later, Stannis had left, marching towards Winterfell. Jon was training a few brothers in the courtyard for many hours, almost to the point of physical exhaustion, taking the time out of his day to personally give them tips and tricks of how to use a sword and how to block a blow. Jon had just lifted a new recruit out of the mud when the castle gates opened, two men riding on horses rushing through the gates, flinging the mud up as the horses galloped, each man in the front holding a Martell sigil and decorated with their armor.

It hit Jon then, that everything was real and she had arrived.

Everyone who was in the courtyard at the time had come to a still, watching, waiting, the reactions not widely varying.

The final horses trudged through the gates, one horse in particular different from the rest with being white with black speckles along the legs and the snout. Mounted on top was a girl, obviously Daenerys, who wore her hood up, blocking the view of her face, holding tight on the reins. A guard had dismounted, pulling her off the horse, and setting her onto a patch of dry, frozen over ground.

The first thing he noticed was how small she looked relative to the guard and the horse, very petite in her frame. One of the guards asked a nearby brother something, and he pointed to Jon. The guard returned to Daenerys to say something before they began to walk towards him there in the middle of the courtyard. Jon realized then he was still rooted in his spot, unmoving.

He was wonderstruck.

Absolutely stunned.

Daenerys had looked up at him, their eyes connecting as she came forward, pulling the white hood around her head down. Jon felt his heart beat begin to pick up its pace. She was by far the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes on, and no doubt was she the only one in the world with her looks. Silver hair and lilac eyes—what a combination.

And the only thing he could think of that the poor woman was sent there for him.

She was wearing a white cloak with fur around the hood, all tied together under her chin with an iron clasp formed into the Martell sigil with the sun and the spear. Her white dress underneath was pristine with gold beaded detailing along the bodice and the bottom edges, not like anything he had seen before either, which must have been fitting, given that she herself was rather unusual looking as well—but in the best way possible, as she was exotic; unique.

Once they were only a couple yards from him, they came to a stop.

“Lord Commander,” she greeted, a voice so gentle and soft.

Jon blinked, his brain working slowly. The guard stepped in to take over with the introductions.

“This is Lady Daenerys of House Targaryen,” announced the guard, booming voice echoing. “She is here by royal decree.”

Jon nearly rolled his eyes, staring blankly at the guard who was much taller than Jon. The formalities were vexing—Jon knew who she was and the reason she was there, no need to announce it.

The guard handed over a scroll marked with a House Martell seal. Jon opened it, scanning over the words quickly, finding that Martells were expecting a raven when Daenerys had arrived there safely, as well as updates coming from her in the coming months, and another reminder she should be well taken care of.

When Jon looked back up, Daenerys had her eyes on him still, violet eyes that he could clearly make out with her so close, eyes that he thought might be easy to get lost in if he looked for too long. Her hair was long, all pulled into a braid down her back, some of it still covered by her hood that pooled around her shoulders.

Unique, indeed.

She made him feel self-conscious suddenly, Jon smoothing out some wild strands of his own hair, dusting off some dirt on his clothes, wishing he had shaved that morning. He wondered what she was thinking about the man that stood before her, the one she was being given to by order of the Lannisters.

“Let’s get out of the cold and talk inside,” he offered, handing off his sparring sword to a brother.

Chapter Text

Jon

As he led the way, he could feel that his throat was going dry. His stomach felt like it might drop out of his body entirely. As the cold brushed his face as he opened into the inner hallway, Jon concentrated on his breathing.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

He opened the door to his private office in the King’s Tower, allowing Daenerys to walk in first, as was the proper way to do it.  Even there at Castle Black it was wise to keep in mind certain courtesies, especially to someone like Daenerys Targaryen.

As she rounded the corner and through the doorway, Jon picked up on the scents that came off of Daenerys, a mixture of citrus and something unidentifiable to him. A spice, perhaps, but either way, it was entrancing.

Don’t make a fool of yourself.

“Lord Commander,” Olly’s voice called.

Jon let go of the door and ventured a step back into the hallway. Olly approached, leaving the door to the outside slightly ajar, quick with his step, and handed over another scroll. “From King’s Landing.”

Jon sighed aloud. Not another one.

He flipped the scroll to look at the seal, expecting to see a Hand of the King mark in the wax or maybe a Martell one, but did not find that. There was no sigil of any sort.

Odd.

“Thank you, Olly.”

When he looked up, he saw that Olly was trying to peek around the corner of the open door, stretching his neck to see Castle Black’s newest inhabitant, but caught Jon’s gaze. Embarrassed, Olly backed away. “Lord Commander,” he acknowledged once more before he went back the way he came.

Jon found himself staring down at the scroll again, wondering the contents. It would have to wait.

Jon stepped back into the office, shutting the door behind him. It was then that he saw Daenerys was backed up against the stone wall with her hand resting on her stomach, frozen in shock, Ghost directly in front of her doing nothing but staring.

“Ghost!” he reprimanded him. “Away.”

Ghost sauntered off to the corner to lay down by the fire, keeping his head down.

Jon had forgotten that Ghost had stayed there before he had gone down to train in the courtyard. What a first impression. He eyed Ghost who had bedded down, eyes still on Daenerys, trying to figure her out.

“He won’t harm you.”

Daenerys brushed off her dress as if she had acquired dirt on it, but really she as just pulling herself together after the encounter. “What is he?”

“A direwolf,” he explained. “I’ve had him since he was just a pup.”

She pulled away from the wall, intrigued. “How did you come about such a thing?”

“His mother was dead and left six pups behind when we came across them in the woods. There were five Stark children and me. The number fit so we took them and raised them as our own.”

Jon remembered that day. If only he had known those were easy days when all he had to worry about was Lady’s Catelyn’s glares and not feeling up to par with Robb. A small part wished he could go back to that—back to when no one was dead.

Ghost was practically all that remained of his time from Winterfell. That and his memories.

“Interesting,” she remarked, sounding as though she meant it, inching a bit closer over to Ghost to get a further look.

Focus, he told himself before he spiraled into a trap of guilt. He couldn’t think about Winterfell or Robb or the Boltons or anything else like that. He was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and could not dwell on the past; he had to deal with the matters at hand for them all, the current one being Daenerys’ arrival.

Daenerys.

He almost resented the fact that he noticed her beauty, standing there in her white dress with gold mixed in, white cloak, hair nearly the same color.

Why did she have to be beautiful?

Daenerys glanced over at him when he paused for too long indulging all this thoughts, prompting Jon to have to think fast and say, “I’m sorry if he frightened you. I promise, he is well behaved.”

Jon shot Ghost a look as if to remind him of that.

“It’s no trouble. I guess I’m a shock to him also, being a stranger.” Quieter, she added, “I hear you don’t get many new people here.”

Daenerys’ shoes clicked on the old wooden floors as she began to look around, examining the room. Jon knew that Castle Black, true to the name, was a darker place, yet everything suddenly looked so dull and dingy with Daenerys in the room. Her white dress, cloak, and silver-white hair contrasted with everything.

The fireplace crackled, and despite the earlier encounter with Ghost, Daenerys still ventured over near him, looking at how the candle wax had oozed from the holder and down the wooden mantle. Jon quickly threw a couple things together on the desk to make it look more organized when her back was turned. He didn’t want her to think he was a complete slob.

She picked up a book or two that rested on the slab of stone that acted as a mantel above the fireplace, books covered in dust to the point that she had to rub her hands together to remove it. The edge of her cloak wisped across Ghost’s hind legs and he brought himself up, twisting his upper half to sniff closer to Daenerys, probably picking up on scents he had never smelled before. Ghost’s eyes drifted to the side, caught by Jon who was sternly looking at him, and laid back down, on his side that time.

“How did you fair on you trip?” Jon asked, feeling the need to fill the silence with something, anything.

Daenerys turned back to him, clasping her hands together in front of her. “Well up until about two hundred leagues away. I’ve heard the weather up here is not very forgiving, but I did not anticipate it being so fickle.”

Jon leaned up against the front of the desk, next to the wooden chair. At his side, Jon’s fingers twitched with a nervous energy that went through him. “Yes, it has a habit of changing at a moment’s notice. The snow comes without warning.”

Despite his attempts at making small talk, he was exhibiting signs of timidity, almost afraid to look at her perfect face. When he did dare to look at her directly, he noticed that it was evident Daenerys had been in a warmer climate by the slight tan she had, which otherwise would have been pale skin. Her features had life to them, which was more than Jon could say for the rest of them at Castle Black. The cold and snow took a toll.

Daenerys was looking back at him momentarily, tilting her head slightly to the side like she was examining him too, sizing him up, which made him even more fidgety. Jon stood up straight and ushered towards the door.

“I’m sure you’re tired after such an extensive journey,” he concluded, not sure what else to do with her there in his office. What was he supposed to say? “I’ll show you to your chambers.”

Daenerys abruptly nodded and followed him out. “Stay, Ghost,” he ordered, shutting the door behind him.

It was not a far walk, down the rounded hallway, across from Jon’s own bedchambers. Jon was somewhat glad that the King’s Towers provided a couple extra rooms for what was meant to be honored guests. If the Lord Commander’s Tower had not been burned with the fire, Jon probably would have ended up moving over to the King’s Tower anyways due to the multiple rooms within it. He had spent some time thinking about it and felt better having Daenerys closer, knowing that the brothers would also take note of that. Jon had another bolted latch installed into the door the day before, just for safe measure. It was a hard reality to think about, but necessary. Jon was responsible for Daenerys now, her guards already departed, her in his sole care. If anything sinister were to happen, Jon would feel horrible—worse than horrible.

At the end of the hallway, her door was to the left, his to the right, a joint iron candle holder latched to the ceiling hanging in between, still lit, a few drops of wax on the floor below. Jon opened the wooden door, happy to find that the musty scent that had once lingered in there from it not being in use had been scrubbed fresh. Small cut pine branches were on the table towards the corner surrounding three candles as a centerpiece. It was Gilly’s doing, to give off an aroma that would be pleasant.

It was a decent room, especially compared to the others at the castle. The size was adequate with a fireplace and two windows that faced the Wall. With her small frame, she would have no trouble getting comfortable in the bed, several layers of dark colored furs added and extra pillows. Large standing candle holders were on either side of the bed, also several new candles of different sizes seated on the windows ledges that had been nailed shut for the winter. Not a speck of dust was on any surface.

Gilly had done a truly brilliant job of making it feel as homey as possible, spending hours in the room that Daenerys would occupy. Jon would have to remember to thank her for it, and for remembering to keep a small fire lit so the room stayed warm.

Daenerys walked into the middle of the room, her cloak dragging on the ground an inch or two, and inspected the room, revolving around in her place.

"I'm sorry,” Jon heard himself apologizing. “I know this isn't not what you're used to. I’m certain SunSpear must be full of color and warm breezes coming through the windows.”

“It was.” Daenerys turned back to him, offering a smile. She tried to be generous by saying, "Here, there’s four walls and a roof." She pointed to the side where the small fire crackled away, the extra logs of wood stacked neatly to the side. "And a fireplace. It's enough."

It made him partially less guilty feeling.

“This must be harrowing for you.” Jon looked around once more, then elaborated, “To be sent to a place like this.”

She weakly shrugged, the furs of her cloak coming up and bunching around her chin before settled back on her shoulders. “To be honest with you, I was always afraid of being sent to King’s Landing. Who knows what they would have done with me in the Red Keep, in front of all those people…or worse, in private. I’d much rather be here than there.”

Jon had never contemplated that before. If it were him in that situation, he certainly would never opt for going to King’s Landing for Robert Baratheon or Joffrey Baratheon. The thought almost made him shiver at what they might have done to her there. It also made him feel worse because if anyone rather take Castle Black as an option, something was clearly wrong.

“Well, I hope you find your room to be satisfactory.”

Her face showed her confusion, brows coming together. “My room?”

“Aye, that it is.”

She was taken aback. “Oh,” she cooed, blinking twice as her eyes shifted to the ground to think about it further. She looked around once more. “I assumed this was our…”

“I know,” he quickly interrupted, not wanting her to have to finish her thought. “It’s better this way.”

There was an awkward tension lingering in the air after he finished, most likely only felt by him, pressing down on Jon like he was in a chokehold. He started to ponder if Daenerys had it in her head the whole time that Jon would take her that night on the day she arrived. He supposed it was not too far fetched of an idea, as to someone on the outside, the Night’s Watch was full of men who had sworn to celibacy. Given the chance, nearly all would lay with a woman again, that was just common knowledge. In Jon’s case, he never had, even despite Ygritte’s constant pestering him. Daenerys did not know that though. There was actually very little that she did know about him or regarding the Wall and what was on the other side of it—but that was a conversation for another day.

“I’m sorry about your family,” Daenerys said, breaking the silence. “I heard what happened. It’s a terrible thing.”

Her mentioning the horrors of his family took him off guard. Jon tried to stuff the emotions down that surfaced with the memories and the guilt for not being there, but found that being trapped there alone with Daenerys made him all too vulnerable. Jon almost wanted to talk about it, though it would have been completely inappropriate of him to start that. Instead, he mentioned, “To yours, as well. Both our family members have suffered unspeakable fates.”

It was a commonality between them that was less than ideal.

Jon swallowed the lump in his throat, altering the direction of the conversation before he found himself wanting to confide in her. No need to scare her.

“There’s someone you should meet.”

“Oh?”

He had planned on leaving her there, to unpack her trunks or reorganize them, but remembered the much more important task.

Jon went back to the door, hand extended. “This way.”

On second thought, Jon felt it might be best to have the meeting right away. In a foreign place with such harsh conditions, Jon hoped that having Daenerys establish a relationship with Aemon would lessen the blow of being sent to Castle Black.

The library was where he usually was huddled in, and that was exactly where Jon brought Daenerys to. They walked down the stairs and into the room lined up with books and a small man at the table with several open books surrounding him.

“Maester Aemon,” he greeted, voice strong. He put down a book he had been holding up to try and feel the letters, blind eyes falling in Jon’s direction. “There is someone here to for you.”

Jon turned back to Daenerys, her eyes searching the old man, hesitant as she stayed closer to the stairs. “Daenerys, this is Castle Black’s Maester, Aemon Targaryen.”

Her eyes snapped up to his, violet orbs striking right through him. “Aemon Targaryen,” she repeated, emphasis on the surname.

Daenerys moved forward toward Maester Aemon. His chin was high in the air, listening to the sound of her heels against the flooring, the dragging of her dress and cloak.

She pulled the closest chair near to Aemon out and sat down slowly. His shaky hands rose until they molded around her face. Then, his face lit up. “My own flesh and blood,” he hoarsely croaked.

Jon stood there, captivated by the sight for only a moment, backing away as he said, “I’ll give you two some privacy.”

Daenerys

He squeezed her hand gently, though she was sure he could not do much more if her wanted too as frail as he was. “Jon Snow, he’s a good man. A little bit rough around the edges,” Aemon advised, “but a good man, nonetheless.”

She turned her head back the way that Jon had disappeared. “He is not at all what I expected,” she disclosed.

Jon Snow was certainly different, in more ways than one. She had heard of him, that was certain, but there was never any much substance to the discussions that took place. The Bastard of Winterfell was a name whispered in all the Houses in the Seven Kingdoms. Not so much in Dorne due to their uncaring attitude towards if one was a bastard or not, but various people who had come to visit over the years had talked about honorable Ned Stark’s bastard son. Daenerys had never paid much attention to it, always a fleeting thought. Little did she know that years later she would be his counterpart there in Castle Black.

Lord Commander and Lady Commander.

It was still so peculiar to think about, let alone be there living it, her first day there.

Tyene and Nymeria Sand had the most fun with the news when it arrived, even if they were disappointed to see her go—not that they would ever actually say that to her. They would go back and forth telling her about all the ways she should expect him to fuck her—their favorite being how he would probably bend her over a table and fuck her like that as soon as they met. They loved to act that one out in front of a wide-eyed Daenerys until she blushed.

It was Oberyn that gave her some hope that life would not be entirely dreary as she accepted her new title nearly as far as north went. He had said to her that to become the Lord Commander, one had to be strong willed and have friends, usually well liked within the Watch. It made her think that maybe Jon Snow would not be some animal to ravage her like the Sand Snakes liked to believe that he would. Still, a part of Daenerys had wondered if the Lord Commander would like her and Ellaria Sand mentioned that she should not be concerned over the opinions of any man.

In light of all the mysterious that surrounded Jon Snow, Daenerys had prepared herself as soon as the scroll arrived. Prepared for being a lone girl amongst a group of men, prepared for the strange looks she would get and most likely the looks of contempt, prepared for the feelings of being an outsider to escalate. Funny enough, out of all the things she prepped herself for, Daenerys would have said she was most prepared for Jon Snow to bed her.

What she had not prepared for was the distant, aloof Lord Commander that she had gotten. From what it looked like, she was to be shoved away in her own room and forgotten about. Aggravating was what it was. Yes, first impressions showed her that he seemed like a good enough man like Aemon had said, but he seemed as cold as Castle Black did, unsure of what to say to her or how to act.

Oddly, that he did not want her in the way she thought he would was the most aggravating as all. The Sand Snakes had gone into much detail about what her expectations should be and how to please a man. She remembered it as clear as the Dorne skies where as night fell across the dunes.

Nymeria let the petals of a red flower shipped over from the Reach to brush across Dany’s face, molding around her chin admiringly, holding the large stem to direct the movements. “Look at her! She’s so innocent. She has no idea what it is like to have a man take her.”

“She soon will,” giggled Tyene. She licked her lips and blew a kiss at Dany. “How does one manage to stay a virgin all the way up past her nineteenth nameday?”

“Leave her be,” Obara commanded, voice strong and somewhat frightening.

“No, she needs to know,” Tyene argued back, unafraid of her sister. “Come, Daenerys, you should learn how to please a man before you leave. We will teach you. It will do you some good. You might be surprised by what a woman can gain by toying with a man’s pleasure.”

“It is true.” Nymeria laid down onto a couch covered in orange silk and rolled onto her stomach, bare feet kicked up into the air, ready to tell a story. “I once heard of a whore from Pentos who received a set of pearls all because she had reeled a man in off the streets and then refused him. A wealthier man, granted, and he was too desperate for her to let her go find another. He paid for her cunt with the pearls and got what he wanted, but it was she who got the better end of the deal.”

Obara snorted out some laughter. “That is a ridiculous story. You just made that up, didn’t you?”

“No,” claimed Nym. “What would you know? You are just the least fucked sister.”

Obara, luckily, didn’t start a fight. She only rolled her eyes and turned her head towards the sunset. “What I know is that you are full of shit.”

Nymeria started to talk back again, risking a brawl. Tyene sat down in the place Nym had gotten up from, sprawling out on the couch to relax as the other sisters sparred with their words.

“As a woman, our bodies are power,” Tyene smirked, tugging at Daenerys’ silk dress to make her listen. “Don’t forget that.”

She might as well forget every detail they had managed to tell her about the art of seduction. It seemed it was all for waste, considering Jon was not interested. Daenerys was not sure if she should be disappointed or relieved. A part of her had being foolishly holding onto the idea of having someone else.

Despite her first impression of his coldness, Daenerys saw that Jon was attractive. His hair was curly, shaggy almost, hanging loose. His dark eyes were mysterious, ever allusive. Sure, he looked tired and somewhat frustrated. Tense would be the best word to describe him if she could only pick one—too guarded in his nature.

And despite that attractiveness that she felt towards him, it was clear she would be like the rest of the Night’s Watch—celibate. Boring, as Oberyn would have called it.

Daenerys decided to stop thinking about it.

“Tell me,” Aemon croaked. “Have you had a good life in Dorne? Did they treat you well?”

“Very well,” she smiled, although he would not be able to see it. “The Martells are very generous. They were actually sad to see me go.”

She swallowed a lump in her throat. It had been hard for her too to give up that life she had grown accustomed to, surrounded by people who she knew and cared for even though she had no blood ties to them. As soon as she had been destined to go North, there was a hole in her heart because she knew what she had to give up—the closest thing to family that she had ever known.

But, the silver lining to it all was that she left a surrogate family in the furthest part south to meet a blood relative all the way north. Daenerys had to be grateful on that front.

Aemon covered his other free hand over hers as he leaned in slowly, the wooden chair beneath his body creaking in protest. “I thought about you every day ever since I heard of your birth at Dragonstone.”

Daenerys breathed out a shaky breath. In part, she was glad that Aemon could not see the water in her eyes from that beautiful statement. She was more fluid with her emotions than she would have liked, especially after the Tyene Sand one night told her that her tears made her look weak.

“I wish I had known that you were here. I thought I was the last Targaryen left in the world. I guess I’m not alone anyone.”

Although Dorne had been wonderful, she had felt like an outsider. She looked different from everyone there, it being overtly obvious to the eye. Not only that, but she had her reputation. She was the daughter of the slain Mad King, the daughter of a mother who died to give birth to her. The sister of a rebel who stole away a Stark from the North, and a sister of another brother who disappeared from Dragonstone.

Aemon made a noise she could not categorize. “With my age, I would say that you might be a lone Targaryen not far in the future.” He turned serious. “You cannot let that define you.”

Daenerys took in the advice but was happy enough that she was able to reunite with blood of her own that day. She could hold onto that. One relative was adequate, even if it was just for a short time.

 As she looked around at the library, Daenerys wondered more about Aemon’s own life there at the castle. “Is this where you spent most of your time?”

“Yes, it is. It’s a good thing I can’t see anymore. Awfully dark and stale in here, isn’t it?”

She allowed herself a small giggle. “A bit, yes.”

“Not what you’re used to,” he deduced.

“Jon said the same thing to me. It’s fine. I guess I’ll have to grow used to this now.”

He patted her hand. “You’ll find your place here, don’t let that trouble you. You’re the Lady Commander. That’s quite a title.”

“It doesn’t really mean much…”

It really didn’t. She did not have any power there. All she was meant for was to stand along the Lord Commander, back his decisions, and, well, what was not going to happen, which was having him bed her.

“It means everything,” Aemon argued in his gentle voice. He took in a few breaths before he could continue. “Never before has there been a Lady Commander in the whole history of the Night’s Watch. You are the first and most likely the last. Ignore the politics of it. People will write in the books that Jon Snow, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch lived his life alongside Daenerys Targaryen, Blood of the Dragon and Lady Commander of Castle Black. You’ll be written in history.” He leaned in once more, freeing a hand to bring a finger up, making a point. “It will be what you make of it.”

She played it back in her head. She wished she could forget about the politics of it. Daenerys was no fool, she knew that it had everything to do with politics. There had been talk of marrying Daenerys off to a Lord in Dorne and the Small Council must have caught wind of those plans in the works with all the spies that they had hidden around. No one wanted a Targaryen girl able to bear children to give birth to a son—a son who could one day rally enough people to overthrow the Lannisters. She doubted that would have ever happened, but to the Lannisters, any threat small or large had to be squashed.

Vile creatures was what Ellaria would call them no matter if they were in private or not.

So, there she was at Castle Black, tucked away in the North where she would remain until her last breath left. Slightly depressing of a thought, but she also counted her blessings for not being thrown before King Joffrey instead—the boy who was rabid and beyond the descriptive word of cruel. Had she been summoned to King’s Landing, she would have had to slit her wrists and let the blood run out of her before or during transport to preserve some sort of dignity. Being raped was a strong fear and she would have rather died.

Joffrey was said to be a monster. After all, everyone knew what happened to Lord Eddard Stark and his poor daughters, Arya and Sansa. One had gone missing, the other trapped there. It must be a prison for her, Dany imagined.

Daenerys had heard from someone who was there when the beheading happened that little Sansa Stark had pleaded for her father’s life, tears running down from her face. Her shrills echoed the whole courtyard and Joffrey still ordered Ned’s head from his shoulders. Arya Stark went missing after that and Sansa was married to Tyrion Lannister.

It made Daenerys very sad to think of it. The world was too full of injustice.

“What am I supposed to do?” she asked, searching for additional advice. “No one will take me seriously. The Lady Commander, yes, that is the title that was given to me. The problem is that no one will respect me. In a castle full of men, having no respect can lead to consequences I would not like to face.”

She hoped he was understanding what she was saying. Daenerys did not want to have to explain her fear of being harassed, or worse, raped. Everyone knew who the men that made up the Night’s Watch were. It was comprised of thieves and murderers, rapists, and men without anywhere else to go. Not the most prestigious bunch.

“Half the men will never speak a single word to you,” Aemon started, trying to ease her worries. He sat back in his chair, still hunched over. “There are punishments for any such actions you fear. The Lord Commander made that few clear. Lay a hand to you and the man who does is given the punishment of death.”

It settled her a bit.

“I am assuming that you do not know that you are not the only woman here.”

Daenerys tilted her head to the side. “I’m not?”

“A Wildling girl named Gilly is here with her baby. You have yet to meet them. Samwell Tarly tells me the Lord Commander has agreed that she will be your handmaiden during your stay. You’ll have a friend. She’s a nice girl.”

Another girl there. It was a shock. Wildling, though? That was even more of a shock.

“What is a Wildling girl doing here?”

As far as she knew, Wildlings were on the other side of the Wall for a reason. Daenerys had done some researching about Castle Black, the Night’s Watch and the Wall before arriving, taking some books with her on the journey so she did not end up walking in completely unaware. Looking like an oblivious fool was not her goal.

Aemon chuckled, which turned into a cough. “Perhaps, that is something to ask the Lord Commander about. You’ve entered through our gates at an interesting time.”

She felt a little uneasy after hearing that. An interesting time—what had he meant by that?

Dany sighed contently. At least she could try to make a friend out of Gilly. Aemon made it sound like she would be someone that Dany could befriend.

“You should go get some rest,” Aemon advised. His hand reached up to her cheek. “The days are short here and the nights long. Come back tomorrow and visit once you are well-rested. I won’t be going anywhere.”

Neither will I she thought to herself.

Daenerys slowly got up from the table, wanting to stay longer, but had to admit that there was a force beyond her control that was willing her to close her eyes. A long sleep could do wonders, though she did ponder if she would be able to sleep in a new room and new bed that she was unfamiliar with.

Pushing the chair back into place, Daenerys gripped the top part of the wood. “Oh,” she said out loud.

“Is something wrong?”

“I have not a clue of how to get to my chambers from here.”

Jon has showed the way, but backtracking might be an issue.

“Ah,” Aemon exhaled, “I would not worry about that. It sounds to me as if the Lord Commander is pacing in the hall outside the door.” He added a small smile, thin lips disappearing entirely. “Waiting for you, I assume.”

She turned back towards the stairs that would led upward to the door. Pacing—of course. He seemed like the type to do that.

“I’ll come back tomorrow,” she promised.

He wavered a hand in the air. “I’ll be waiting.”

Daenerys headed back up the steps, picking up her dress so it would not catch on the steps that had cracks in them, pieces chunked off of the sides. It was clear that Castle Black was not in the best condition. She imagined it had once been pristine and well maintained for years on end, but at that point in time they were just barely getting by.

As the door at the top opened, she had to put some strength into it to push it. Stumbling out, she caught herself before she could tumble. Jon was several paces away, his hand stroking the back of his neck before he halted. They exchanged a look and Daenerys knew that he was struggling with what to say to her next.

“Thank you for introducing me,” she offered, standing in her place unmoved.

“Of course.”

She closed the door, leaving it open just a crack. At her side, covered by the cloak, her hands pulled at the dress she wore, the dense fabric on her fingertips. No, she told herself, she would not be nervous. There was no reason to be.

“Maester Aemon thinks it’s best that I rest now.”

He looked to be relieved that she wanted to rest.

“Follow me.”

They walked in silence, Daenerys trailing a few steps behind the whole time, taking note so she might begin to learn her way around. She also watched Jon as he walked. He was well built, lean, but muscular. Not so good when posture was concerned but that did not matter a great deal. Confident, she could tell that much. It made her wonder if he was like that before becoming the Lord Commander.

It only reminded her of how much she did not know about this person her fate was sealed to.

Back in King’s Tower, at the very end of a hallway, they came to a dead end. To the left, Jon opened the wooden door that belonged to her, the one that looked like it could use a good staining.

“I forgot to show you before, but there are double locks.” He showed her where they were, looking like they also needed a good shove to get into place. “No one should be…bothering you. It’s just a precaution.”

He cared about her safety. That was promising.

She had to keep reminding herself to look on the upside of things…it was definitely more difficult than she suspected it would be.

“Thank you.”

Daenerys hung there only a few steps inside, the door locks still in place with the pair standing there in the room. Jon was half turned her way. It felt like she was waiting for something—maybe to see if the Sand Snakes were right after all (because they did expect a letter detailing the experience, one in which Daenerys had never planned on actually sending if it were to have gotten into the wrong hands).

Was she testing him? Showing that she was waiting, just to see if he really was planning on leaving or if he would stay?

Daenerys was not supposed to care what he thought, like Ellaria had said, but she still did wonder if he found her at all appealing. Dany had gone nearly all her life being told she was marvelous to look at, a sight for any man or woman. What she was not used to was the ambiguity that Jon gave off.

He hesitated, in a way that made her think that he had something else to say but did not want to say it, and ultimately turned back around, unhinged the locks, and bided her a restful sleep.

“If you need anything,” he started, hiking his thumb over his shoulder. “I’m right across the way at night. Just a few steps away. Don’t be afraid to knock.”

Daenerys looked over his shoulder at the door identical to hers and nodded as a response. It made her feel better knowing he would be so close. It did ease the worries, only slightly, but something was better than nothing.

“Gilly will come see you in the morning.”

She nodded again. “Oh, yes, Aemon told me about her.”

“She wants to be your handmaiden, if that is alright with you.” He offered a half smirk. “She would like something to keep her out of the way of the men.”

“Of course. She is welcome.”

“Good.”

The awkward tension seemed to be stuck in the doorway with Jon. Jon’s eyes looked around the room before he backed out of it completely. “I will see you tomorrow.”

“Yes.”

He hesitated once more, only briefly that time, and then shut the door behind him.

She remembered Ellaria’s first reaction to the news that Daenerys was being sent up to Castle Black for the Lord Commander. Lady Commander with no power? Don’t they mean the Lord Commander’s whore? The Lord Commander’s whore she would not be, but the question was, what else could she be in a place so desolate? Sadly, there were not many options for a woman, especially one that far in the North.

Daenerys knew she would grow restless as the days, months, years went by. Her purpose for being sent there would go unfulfilled most likely, which left her with not much else to do. Castle Black was no normal castle, there were no ladies or guests to entertain, no Lord to sexually please, no children to spend the day raising, nor anything in the surrounding area to venture to.

Even then once at Castle Black her future was more uncertain, something she had hoped might have been resolved upon arrival.

More questions, no answers.

Frustrating.

Daenerys walked forward and pushed the lock sideways. She faced the door, listening to Jon’s footsteps down the steps disappear, closing her eyes, wishing she were to fall asleep quickly so she would not have to think anymore that day.

Chapter Text

Jon

 

Was it only him who was thinking it or was there something off balance in the world?

Strange and terrible things kept happening—well, in that specific case, not terrible to Jon. King Joffrey was murdered at his wedding. Jon did not hide the smirk on his face as he read the words along the scroll that was unmarked and unsigned. The boy had his father beheaded for no good reason. Joffrey got what he deserved. No one would ever think otherwise.

“Olly,” he called.

He was on the outside of the door, opening it to take whatever orders Jon was about to give. “Yes, Lord Commander?”

“Let the brothers know I need a meeting at sundown.”

Olly left and so did Jon. He took the scroll with him out of King’s Tower, throwing his cloak on to brave the cold. That morning another storm rolled in and took away the lighter, puffier gray clouds. A more dark, dense set had washed over them, bringing heavy snowflakes that already coated the ground and everything else in a thin layer.

Nothing new.

Jon was headed across the walkway towards the courtyard when he stopped short. Daenerys was standing on the walkway, her arms hanging over the railing, her hands covered by gloves dangling off the edge as well. The snow was blowing around her slowly, as if the flakes themselves had sensed her presence and tried to stop mid-air, in awe at her beauty. He was staring, shamelessly, and he was going to need to find a way to stop doing that.

He thought for a moment, what was the harm in looking? It was not as if only looking were to suddenly lead to touching. He had more control than that…

Right?

He continued to move forward and Daenerys perked up as he approached, taken out of her own stare, probably wishing she were back in Dorne. “Lord Commander,” she greeted with a stiff smile.

Jon paused. “Lady Commander,” he said lowly, in a voice he almost did not recognize. It was strange to say it out loud, that was all. “I have news. King Joffrey Baratheon is dead.”

Her eyes widened in disbelief, mouth parting.

Jon held up the scroll that had been at his side, slightly scrunched up. “This was sent to me with no seal. I don’t know who sent it because it’s not even signed.”

Daenerys unfolded the scroll and took a few moments to read it. “Why are you telling me?”

“Because I find it not coincidental that this showed up as you arrived.”

She retracted, then turned her head straight to look at the courtyard.  “That’s ridiculous. You think I had something to do with this?”

He shook his head. “No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that this was sent because someone wanted you to know this information, not I.”

Daenerys looked back at the scroll, gloved finger pointing to Lord Commander. “It’s addressed to you,” she tried to argue.

“Why would anyone care to send the Night’s Watch this? We are independent from the realm. We stay out of political matters. Who the King is doesn’t matter.”

She shrugged her shoulder. “It’s a formality then.”

She was either not getting it or thought that he really was accusing her of some wrongdoing. “Listen. I’m not saying you had anything to do with the murder. How would you? You’ve been on a ship and riding here for months. All I am trying to say is that someone wanted you to know this information, even if you don’t know who it might be.”

“I don’t know why. What would I even do with information like that?”

He shrugged. “Rejoice?”

Daenerys softened a bit. “I suppose I could. Shouldn’t you?”

“Aye.” He was silent for a sullen moment. “My sister is still in King’s Landing.”

“I know. She’s married to Tyrion Lannister.” She paused, then offered, “I’m sure she’s safe.”

Neither of them believed the words. Jon doubted anyone in King’s Landing was ever safe. It was best to try and not think of it, especially when there was nothing that he could do.

“This is not entirely why I’m here,” Jon claimed, taking back the scroll as Daenerys handed it back. “I wanted to discuss a few things with you regarding your stay here.”

“My stay? You make it sound as if this is not a till death deal that has been arranged for me.”

She had said it with such sarcasm that Jon huffed. By all means, let them use politically correct terms then.

“Regarding your permanent stay,” he emphasized. “Is that better?”

She nodded, tilting her chin his direction. “Yes.”

Jon tried to shake off the tenseness that had gathered in his body. The women next to him somehow found a way to make him all knotted up every time they spoke. “First, I’d rather you not walk about alone out here.” Jon looked around at the mostly abandoned courtyard. “I can only do so much to keep you safe.”

“Why don’t you just lock me in my room then,” she mumbled to herself.

She made his blood get hot, even if he tried to understand the situation from her point of view. He guessed he would have turned sour about being at Castle Black too.

Still, the edge of irritation prickled on his skin.

“It’s just a suggestion. Also…” Jon’s eyes glazed over the dress she wore. It was a thicker material, but the problem was that it was light gray, nearly ivory with turquoise embellishments.   She still had that white cloak on from when she arrived three days ago. “I think you might be better off if you wore black.”

She snapped her eyes over to him. “What?”

The way she said it made it seem like it was the most ridiculous statement she had ever heard. Jon tried to defend it, somewhat weakly, admittedly. “It’s just, you stand out easily.”

Even in black she would stick out like a sore thumb, her hair too much of a giveaway.

She looked down at her pretty dress. “You want me to wear black? All the time?”

“It wouldn’t hurt.”

Her face when rigid. “I’m not a brother of the Night’s Watch.”

“No, but technically you are a member,” he muttered. Lady Commander, he almost added for effect but bit his tongue.

Technically being the key word in that sentence. I don’t recall making any vows, only given a title. Besides, I only have one black dress with me. What good is that?”

“I can get you more.”

Her nose flared. She was about to speak again but shut her mouth, Jon noticing that her teeth were clenched. Daenerys maneuvered around him and Jon shook his head as she walked off. Daenerys had just got there and he was already making a mess of it.

Not surprising.

But was it entirely his fault? Was he asking too much? It didn’t feel like he was—maybe it was just that he was asking it too quickly. Then again, her whole life had been turned upside down. Maybe he really should have waited to bring up the whole wearing black part…or skipped over it entirely.

If only there was a book about that kind of thing. Navigating the whole Lord and Lady Commander situation was proving to be difficult, more than he thought.

On her way back inside, Daenerys passed by Edd, pausing only a moment to greet him, even though she had no idea who he was. Jon had thought of introducing her around a bit the previous day but Gilly and Daenerys had been getting to know each other, and then Daenerys had disappeared back to Maester Aemon’s library. When evening came, the idea crossed him to invite her to have dinner with him, but the thought was too intimidating that he left her be.

Edd paused to turn his head and watch as Daenerys hurried back inside. Jon closed his eyes and took in the cold silence until Edd was at his side.

“Whatever that was, it didn’t go well, did it?” he questioned Jon, but he seemed to have already stumbled upon the answer. “An angry woman is a woman to keep your distance from for a while.”

Noted.

“Have you got some time?”

Jon didn’t answer, only waved Edd in his direction.

He had only just left, but found himself back in King’s Tower at his desk. As soon as Jon sat down and Edd closed the door, Jon took the initiative before Edd could speak up. “Don’t say it,” he begged.      

Edd went and said it. “She’s pretty.”

“I have eyes, I can see that.”

Edd chuckled to himself, a rare occurrence. “Someone is grumpy today.”

“That’s an understatement.”

“What’s bothering you? Lumps in your bed keeping you up?”

“Feels more like lumps in my head.”

Edd took a seat in a way that showed he would not be staying long, lingering at the edge before the desk, leaning in towards Jon. He turned serious again. “What is really bothering you?”

He shot Edd a look. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“Our Lady Commander?” he questioned, the title obviously sounding strange to Edd also.

It would take some getting used to. Lucky them that they had the rest of their lives to have it become normal rolling off the tongue.

Jon exhaled loudly, wishing all his troubles would vanish as quick as the breath. “That is only half of it. We still have the White Walkers and the Night King problem. That’s imminent. Oh, plus King Joffrey is dead.”

“Really?”

“Poisoned at his wedding to Margaery Tyrell,” Jon mentioned.

Edd shrugged nonchalantly. “Fucker deserved it.”

His thoughts exactly.

“I couldn’t care any less about this.” Jon tossed the scroll onto the desk where he would burn it later. “It’s more about the White Walkers and this threat we have looming over our shoulders.”

“Isn’t that big Wilding fellow still locked up?”

“Tormund? Yes.”

“You should talk to him.”

“And say what? I need you to convince your people to come with me so they don’t turn into walking dead men and women?” His head went into his hands—a more and more frequent posture. “I don’t think he is really in the helpful mood right now.”

“Then wait him out. A wildling like that won’t want to be locked up for long. Given the chance, he might see the logic.”

“Maybe…but then I have the brothers to talk to it about.”

“Both sides have lost a lot of people,” Edd started, staring at the wall behind Jon.

The losses of their brothers and friends still hung heavy for Jon and Edd. Briefly, he wondered what Pyp and Grenn might have said about Daenerys. Some sort of inappropriate remarks, he would have expected. He could practically hear their voices.

“We don’t want to lose any more,” Jon finished Edd’s thought. “I’ll talk to Tormund soon, then we’ll need to have a meeting with the Night’s Watch about it. No one is going to be happy.”

“Fuck their happiness.”

Jon snorted. That type of remark was what Jon found to be so great about Edd. He would support Jon no matter what.

“Well, we are stuck for now. With this storm coming in visibility will be near nonexistent. It’ll be weeks before we can depart. Hopefully the Night King doesn’t get to them before we do.”

Jon raised an eyebrow at his friend. “Are you volunteering to go?”

“Yes, who else will be able to make sure you don’t do anything stupid out there. But before that, you better settle the matter of sending some brothers to the castles to keep watch like you talked about. And get our Lady Commander settled in.”

“I doubt she’ll ever be settled in,” Jon muttered, mostly to only himself. “Does anyone get settled in here?”

“Afraid not. Speaking of getting settled in, are you going to be sending Ser Allister Thorne away yet?”

“No, as First Ranger I have better use for him here for now, especially if we have to leave the castle soon.”

Edd decided to settle back in his chair. “How many men will we be losing?”

“I’m going to have Lord Janos go to Greyguard with ten men and brother Myter with seven men to head to Rimegate and another two brothers to help at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. If we get more recruits, we can spare more, maybe add to other castles but for now that will have to suffice.”

“Sending Slynt to Greyguard? He won’t like that.”

“It doesn’t matter what he likes. He doesn’t have a choice,” Jon mentioned, reclining, folding his hands in his lap. “I’m letting them know tonight at a meeting.”

Edd’s eyebrows went up on his forehead. “Ah.” After hesitating, Edd looked to be contemplating something. “Is she going to be there? At the meeting, I mean.”

Jon had not thought about that. “I guess she should be, considering.”

It would sure be an interesting meeting—the first ever in the history of the Night’s Watch with a Lady Commander present.

The sun had just gone down when the all the brothers gathered together in the common hall. It was loud with chatter as Jon watched over them all, at the head table. Over the rest, he would easily pick out Lord Janos’ voice over the rest of the talking.

“Daenerys Targaryen? What were they thinking? Have they got no sense down there in King’s Landing?”

Finally, something Jon and Lord Janos could agree on.

Jon still hated him all the same though. There would never be any changing that.

“A bastard and a highborn girl?” He cackled without any regard that Jon was present in the room, scoffing to the man on this right, who actually did not seem all that interested in what he had to say. “It’s a sin.”

Jon gripped his ale and poured some down his throat, not letting the words get to him—or rather that it was Janos Slynt saying them.

To the side, Olly entered the room, holding the door open. Jon had sent Olly to request Daenerys attend the meeting. Despite their earlier quick spat on the walkway, she appeared as per request. She wore a darker shade of violet, definitely not black as he had said, just to rebel against him. Defiant, he thought, but could not ignore the subtle smirk he wore.

He saw her pass through the side door unnoticed, as the rest chatted amongst themselves. He then watched as she found him at the head of the table and made her way up to him. She said nothing as she approached, just kept her head straight. Jon got up and pulled her seat out for her, next to him in her rightful place as the Lady of Castle Black.

She looked surprised by the gesture. “Thank you.”

It would be the new normal there, Daenerys seated alongside of him. Their new, unnatural normal. Just as Jon sat down, Ser Allister walked down the center aisle and approached the table.

“Lord Commander,” he said in stone voice, face unchanged from his scowl, as per usual.

“Ser Allister.”

His eyes shifted left. “Lady Commander,” he greeted, and not at all gruff, with the upward movement of his mouth.

Jon’s brows furrowed inward as he pondered if someone had put a hallucinogen in his ale or had Ser Allister Thorne actually smiled?

“This is Ser Allister Thorne, First Ranger for the Night’s Watch,” Jon introduced.

“Very nice to meet you Ser Allister,” she granted him.

He nodded strongly, almost bowing before heading back to his seat. Jon was a bit perplexed by the exchange. It had been so unexpected, and Ser Allister had been what Jon would classify as warm towards Daenerys.

What was becoming of the world?

“Sam?”

Sam moseyed on out of his seat an approached. “Lady Commander,” he greeted for the first time with a cheesy smile, awkward like usual. “Lord Commander.”

Jon nodded his head to the empty seat next to him. Quietly, he inquired, “Where’s Maester Aemon?”

“He isn’t feeling well enough today to attend,” he said regretfully. “He sends his regards.”

“Thank you.”

Everyone was still talking, only a few up until that point even seeing that Daenerys had walked in. Yes, it was loud, that was until Daenerys abruptly sneezed and they all fell silent at once, heads turning towards the front. Even Jon stalled to gaze over at Daenerys.

She looked around and noticed all of the eyes on her. She leaned over and whispered to Jon, “I think I’ve found a new way to get them quiet for you.”

Well, at least she was in good spirits.

Jon turned back to the brothers before him, clearing his throat. “I’ve received word from King’s Landing that King Joffrey Baratheon is dead,” he announced to the group.

No one looked turned off by the news. No one even batted an eye of sadness, although a number did give an automatic smirk and a content half laugh.

“As you all know, this is not any of our concern and this news is not why we are gathered here. We have another matter to discuss today. You all know that many of the castles along the Wall are empty and unmanned.” Jon paused. He was about to talk about with the Night King that lurked out there, that they needed more eyes in different parts of the Wall, but realized he had not discussed that with Daenerys yet. She had no idea. It would not be an opportune moment to bring it up in front of her. “I’ve decided that two other castles in between Castle Black and the outer castles of Westwatch and Eastwatch need to be occupied.”

There was a general nodding of approval from everyone.

Jon tapped his fingers on the table. “Lord Janos, you will head to Greyguard when the weather lets up and take ten men with you.”

Lord Janos looked to be instantly confused. “Greyguard?” he questioned loudly and obnoxiously. His tone suggested that it were as if Jon had asked him to run barefoot from one end of Westeros to the other without stopping. “No one has occupied Greyguard in over a century. The whole castle is practically in ruins!”

All eyes focused back on Jon.

Sternly, Jon countered, “That is true, but I know you have the capability to fix it up until it’s manageable. We need as many castles occupied and as many eyes watching the Wall as we can.”

He shook his head back and forth, disgusted expression taking over. “Greyguard,” he spat out, obviously annoyed. “Send someone else.”

Jon should not have been surprised, but he was. In front of everyone Lord Janos was refusing to obey. Send someone else—how laughable. Jon maintained his composure. “This is a command, Lord Janos, do not mistake that. You’ll pack up what belongs to you and leave the day the weather lifts.”

He rose up out of his seat, standing there so confident. “I won’t take orders from a bastard!”

To his side, he heard a small gasp from Daenerys, one most likely only audible to him. Jon tensed in his seat, not blinking.

Lord Janos sealed his fate.

Insubordination meant death.

His eyes narrowed before they flicked over to Edd, who was already watching Jon to see what was going to happen next. “Take Lord Janos outside,” he ordered.

Immediately, the room became noisy with benches being pushed backwards, everyone about to head outside as onlookers.

He made eye contact with Olly then. “Olly, go retrieve my sword.”

Lord Janos stepped off to the side as Edd and two others grabbed ahold of Lord Janos and towed him outside, him still shouting about how nothing was going to happen.

The room cleared out until it was just Daenerys and him left. Out of his peripheral vision, he saw the sway of Daenerys’ hair as she looked at him. Jon kept his eyes straight, not wanting to look over at her and see what was in her eyes, knowing that he was about to execute a man.

“Stay here,” he warned.

Jon pushed the chair back violently and walked out of the room. The outside was windy, blowing snow off the roofs in swirls into the air before the snow settled again. There was a crowd of brothers all around Lord Janos, pushed down onto a block on the wooden landing. Olly handed off Longclaw to Jon and joined the rest in the crowd.

As he approached, Lord Janos changed his tune.

“I’m sorry,” he immediately said, panicked. There was true fear in his eyes. “I didn’t mean what I said.”

Why couldn’t you have just agreed and gone in the first place? Jon thought as he closed his eyes briefly.

He had to execute him or he would not be respected. That was how it worked. Lord Janos had been given a chance and he refused. Orders were orders, no questions asked.

Firmly, Jon said, “If you have any last words, now would be the time to say them.”

Was it horror that flashed across his face or had Jon imagined it? His lips sputtered, nothing coming forward. Jon’s teeth clenched. With one swing of the sword and some muscle going into it, Lord Janos’ head parted from his body, rolling away. Jon handed off his sword coated with fresh blood, the smell of the coppery scent filling the air as the blood gushed from Lord Janos’ neck.

Jon was not going to hang around as the brothers got to work disposing of the body and scrubbing out the red stains as best they could. Jon filed back down the steps of the wooden platform and then up the steps to the walkway.

He caught her there, standing on the opposite walkway staring at Jon, where she had a full view of the event that just took place. He stopped.

She must think I’m a monster.

As his eyes stayed connected with hers, his breath faltered.

She did not seem afraid in the slightest, as she had the hint of a smile on her face. It was strange, he knew, but her approval made him feel like a man, like the job he was elected to was something he could actually handle.

Was Daenerys…proud?

Would he even dare to think that?

There were some murmurs in the crowd, derogatory names being thrown towards the dead Janos Slynt, everyone beginning to disperse. Meanwhile, Daenerys began to approach him, but Jon turned away and headed back inside to King’s Tower.

Jon let out a breath he was not aware he had been holding.

He was halfway back to his desk in King’s Tower when he heard the clicking of heeled shoes behind him. Jon turned back, knowing exactly what he would find. Daenerys was walking towards him at a rapid pace, not looking at him. She brushed his shoulder just enough to make him feel it, destabilizing him for a moment as she passed.

Ignoring her had been the wrong decision. She was mad.

Again.

“Daenerys,” he called after her, only to have her ignore him.

He groaned as she ascended the tower stairs up to where her room was. Jon paused but decided to follow. He skipped every other step to get there quicker, catching her just as she opened the door to her chambers. Leaving it halfway open, Jon put a palm on the wooden frame and pushed it open even more, not stepping in.

“Daenerys,” he said again.

No answer.

She removed her shoes, flinging them over to where the fireplace was. “What’s wrong with you,” she finally asked, turning to him, hands balled into fists.

Plenty.

His eyes narrowed at her. “Is this because of Lord Janos?”

“No.”

She began to pluck items madly out of her trunks that were still not unpacked, almost like she was looking to be in search of something, colored dresses tossed onto the bed behind her.

“Why are you making such a fuss? Have I offended you?” he asked, a bit forceful.

“Yes,” she hissed, “you stick me here in a room by myself and then you barely talk or look at me. Ignoring people usually warrants such a reaction, in case you were confused. And when you do talk to me, you tell me I’m the reason that an unmarked scroll turns up. How wonderful. I got sent all the way here with certain expectations and you don’t even want me! What am I supposed to do? A replica of the scroll you received was sent to me too. I know why I’m here, or at least was supposed to be.”

Jon retracted from her words, but then found it all to be hilarious too. Jon half laughed. “Are you mad?”

She went still, her face void of any emotion for a moment. Her hands clutched around her dress at her side, Jon noticing how her knuckles went white. Through clenched teeth, she muttered, “What?”

It was a bad choice of words given her ancestry, even Jon could admit that he had made the mistake. “I just meant…I mean…Seven Hells, woman! You really think that anyone would look at you and not want you?”

Tywin’s phrase flashed before him—Satisfy the Lord Commander. He nearly cringed. But the worst part was that he understood what Daenerys was saying to him, that she had expectation and he pushed her away.

“Listen, I want to get this straight with you. I understand why you were sent here, but I’m not going to…” he searched his brain for the right words “use you just because Tywin Lannister sent a fancy letter declaring your position. Lady Commander, yes, I won’t argue with the title. But sending you here for me to use your body is grossly unjust and I hate the Lannisters even more for even suggesting that it would be appropriate.”

Her face had softened from his speech. “I did not know you felt that way.”

If she thought he just simply didn’t want her, at least he was concealing it well.

“I’m not the best at communicating,” he admitted, sharply inhaling, as he had done the whole speech in one breath. “That’s something else about me that you should know that too.”

To his surprise, she shallowly giggled. “I’ll remember that for the future.”

He nodded. “Good.”

Jon stood there in his place. The conversation had taken a one-eighty turn and his mind had not quite caught up to it yet. He was stuck on what to say next. Luckily, Daenerys seemed to be good at that. As she sat down onto her bed, Daenerys kept herself busy by smoothing out some dresses that had been previously tossed there.

“Aemon says you’re noble. It seems he’s right.”

Jon allowed a small smile, turning his head towards the ground. “I try to be.”

“I thought I knew what I was going to be doing here,” she told him, a bit somber about it. “I had a purpose. Now, I feel misplaced.”

“You would’ve felt misplaced no matter what,” he added truthfully.

“I suppose. But, now what? What do I do here? What’s my purpose?”

Jon was not prepared for those questions. The best he could come up with was, “I’ll make sure you’re as comfortable as possible here.”

“I appreciate that.”

“I’ll figure out something for you to do, if you want. I know Maester Aemon would like your company as of now. His health has been declining a bit…he would like to spend as much time with you as possible.”

“I noticed. I can go see him again tomorrow. But, can I make one request?”

He nodded. “Anything that is in the realm of my power.”

“I want to see the view from the top of the Wall. Will you take me?”

The iron cage wheeled them upward along the side of the Wall, screeching with every movement. As they got higher, the wind grew more fierce and unpleasant, Jon scrunching his face up due to discomfort.

He shot a glance over to Daenerys, who was only taking in the scenery without any trace of any indication the snow and wind was irritating her. Her cheeks grew redder, but that was all. She was not even squinting her eyes as snow blew around.

As the cage clunked at the top, Jon opened the safety railings and stepped out onto the ice, Daenerys following him.

“Are you cold?” she asked him, noticing his facial expression.

“Yes.” He looked her once over as they walked side by side. “Aren’t you?”

“I’ve never been cold,” she admitted, “Not once. I don’t know why. Ellaria Sand says it’s because dragons don’t get cold and I have dragon blood in me.”

As they reached an outlook shed, Jon turned his body halfway to her, the wind blowing his loose hair sideways. “You don’t get cold? Ever?”

“No.”

Very interesting.

“That’s a good trait to have all the way up here.”

He motioned forward and she went into the outlook that extended over the side of the wall, made of large logs tied up together, frozen solid. Jon remembered the first time he saw it, his Uncle Benjen there. He wondered if he was still out there somewhere. It made him sad to think that it was a mystery likely to never be solved.

“So, that’s what is beyond the Wall,” she said, breathless.

“It is.” He tried to further the conversation, looking over the edge and saying, “I climbed the Wall once.”

Her eyes snapped to his, violet orbs capturing his dark ones. He had to avert his gaze before it became overwhelming and he forgot how to speak. She probably thought he was entirely insane as she glanced back over at the enchanted ice that rose hundreds of feet.

“It wasn’t pleasant,” he mentioned.

She looked to the side, seeing the Wall as far as the weather allowed. “I would imagine it wouldn’t. What would bring you to climb?”

“That’s a story for another day.”

And it was. There was too much involved for him to be able to say all of it before freezing up there.

Jon stepped forward and joined her there at her side. A few minutes went by as they watched the misty snow fall over the trees of the Haunted Forest, coming down in patches.

“From earlier, about King Joffrey dying…I didn’t mean to be short with you,” she quietly acknowledged.

She had a fiery, temperamental side, that was evident. Jon didn’t mind it.

“I know. I guess I might have sounded accusing. We miscommunicated.”

“I really don’t know who would send that for me,” she told him.

He nodded. “I know.”

“I wouldn’t lie to you.”

For some reason, the made him do a double take. “No?”

“No.”

“Why?”

He was just a stranger to her. What would make her so trusting?

She turned her back to the scenery. A few flakes settled on Dany’s eyelashes, not melting. She blinked a couple times before they fell off. “Because I can see that you’re a good person.”

He was at a loss for words.

Daenerys turned back around to look out some more, changing the atmosphere. “Poisoned at his wedding,” she mentioned again from the scroll that arrived. It somehow lightened the mood. “That is rather…hilarious.”

Jon chuckled dryly. “Indeed, it is.”

“Maybe there is some justice in the world.”

“I would like to think so.”

They took a few moments to stare out at the view.

“I never apologized,” he breathed out.

“For?”

“This. For you having to be here.” Jon shook his head. “I believe it’s my fault. If it were anyone else who was the Lord Commander, you wouldn’t be here. It’s because it’s me, the Bastard of Winterfell. The bastard of a Stark.”

She made a sound in her throat that echoed like hmph.

“What?” he asked.

She exhaled. “In Dorne, they don’t care about that. Bastard, not a bastard. So, what? Ned Stark had a bastard boy.” She turned to him. “You’ve come quite far in the world, wouldn’t you say? You should be proud. You’re going to accomplish a lot, more than most people who are highborn.”

It was strange words to hear. He had mostly always been ashamed, not that he was going to tell her that.

“Dorne might as well be a different realm altogether. They might think differently, but the rest of Westeros does not. That is not something to forget.”

“I think it might be better to be a bastard than the daughter of the Mad King, banished to Dorne after her family was slain.”

It was hard to argue with that, but Jon would attempt it anyways—only in his mind that time, as they were finally one some even ground with each other. It was too fragile that Jon was nervous to disturb the peace. Cracked ice should never be stepped on. 

“Perhaps, Lady Commander.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “You don’t have to call me that.”

“It’s the title given to you my royal decree. As much as I hate all of them in King’s Landing, I won’t ignore what has been given to you. Besides, it helps establish some form of authority over the others. Why, would you rather me call you only Daenerys?”

“You did earlier, so, yes. Wouldn’t you rather me call you Jon?”

“I would, but only when we’re alone. Around the others, it might be best to stick with the proper titles.”

“Agreed.”

Just then, she reached out and brushed some snow off of the cloak. It was unexpected of her, so he froze, watching her hand movements before she slowly retracted.  “Sorry,” she mumbled.

“Don’t be.”

She hesitated a moment. “You should know that some people also call me Dany.”

He lifted an eyebrow. “Some people?”

“The people I like,” she alluded.

“Ah.”

“You can also call me that if you wish.”

It was subtle, but a step in the right direction. She walked off then after giving him one last look, headed back down the icy walkway towards the cage.

Dany, he thought back to himself.

Jon watched her go for a moment before he departed the outlook to bring her back down to the ground. He could hear his own sigh, the breath turning to mist in front of his face. He could try and deny a lot of things—the pain and heartbreak from the deaths of his family members, the feelings of abandonment, shame from his mother and father not being married, but he could not deny the itching sensation of his obvious desire for her.

Chapter Text

Jon

There was a light knock on his door, followed by the small whisper of his name. “Jon?”

“Come in.” Daenerys propped open the door to his office and hesitated in the doorway. “Come all the way in,” he instructed, almost smiling about how she would hang back.

Several days had passed by since her first arrival, and it seemed like Daenerys had warmed up to Jon somewhat, and it was likewise, ever since their tiff in her room. It would take some time to get used to the other, but that first awkward tension that made Jon feel like he was suffocating had vanished.

Good.

He hated that feeling.

There was still an unexplained energy when she was near, he had to admit to that. He thought that Daenerys might feel it too. She would hang back, waiting for him. It was not because she was shy, he knew it was because she didn’t want to invade his space, not that he felt that way ever. But even though Daenerys would hang back, as soon as he told her to come in, she had no issue walking past the door, shutting the door by leaning back against it.

It was when they were closed off from the rest of the world when that feeling was most intense.

Daenerys was in all black that time, her waist cinched in at the sides with long sleeves that had lace detailing and thick skirts at the bottom. That same lace came up to her neck for a more modest look—but even then Jon cursed at himself for finding himself looking at her body and the way the material clung.

Her hair was half braided in the back that was wrapped in crimson colored ribbon to hold it tight at the base of her neck, the rest falling into soft curls.  

He felt guilty as he recalled his comments from the other day. “You don’t have to wear black if you don’t want to.”

“You said—”

“I know,” he muttered. “I’ve thought more on it. It isn’t fair to you. I wouldn’t recommend wearing bright pink around here, but, it’s up to you. As bleak as it is here, it might be nice to see some color every now and again.”

She looked appeased by that response and it brought a bubbly sensation over to Jon to know that she was happier without a strict dress code imposed on her.

“Well, you might also like to hear that I somewhat agree with what you said before now that I have also had time to think about it. I can leave the yellows and turquoise to the side. I have darker colors I can wear. Gilly and I are already working on some dresses.”

He tilted his head to the side. “With what material?”

“I took the curtains from around my windows.”

His mouth dropped open, but he quickly snapped it shut. That was the Dorne in her, he thought, the do what I want and find a way to do it kind of attitude coming through. He meekly smiled. “I’m glad to hear you’re making do.”

“The curtains aren’t in any use since the windows won’t open for what I imagine to be a very long time. I figured since they are an ashy charcoal color, it would fit well. There’s enough material that I can sow it together. Gilly is good with a needle too.”

Amazing.

Jon did not expect to find a middle ground with Daenerys seemingly so easily after such a rocky start.

“It’s also good to hear you and Gilly are getting along.”

“Yes, she is very nice. A bit on the quieter side but I appreciate that about her. There’s so much about Westeros she is unaware about that there’s always something to talk about. Half I tell her of Dorne I don’t think she believes because it is so different from here.” Daenerys paused to take on a different tone. “I’ve yet to meet her son. I didn’t know you were also housing him here.”

Jon nodded. “Some aren’t happy about it, but I can’t just throw them out. They’ve got nowhere to go.”

“Is it true that she was the wife of her father, and her father is her son’s father?”

“She tell you that?” Jon questioned.

He didn’t take Gilly for a girl who would be so open to a stranger about her past.

“She did. I mean, I guess I can’t be one to judge, given I am a Targaryen. It was just a shock. Is that common among Wildlings?”

“Not at all common,” Jon told her, trying to swallow back the revulsion of thinking about Craster. “We ventured past the Wall and stopped at Crater’s Keep. Sam first met Gilly there when she was still pregnant. She was worried because if it were a boy then…”

Daenerys leaned in, waiting for him to finish. “Then what?” she probed, wanting to know more.

“Well, I guess this is as good of a time as any,” he mumbled to himself. He drew in a heavy breath. “There’s something you need to know about what is on the other side of the Wall.”

Her face changed by the tone her was using. Jon wished he didn’t have to tell Daenerys about the Night King and the Army of the Dead. To be honest, he was not sure where to start.

“Aemon mentioned I arrived here at an interesting time, or something of that sort. What is it? Should I be concerned?”

If he had not already been racked with guilt, there was definitely more piling on. Castle Black was the last place anyone with half a mind would want to be with what was lurking beyond the Wall.

“There are things that the Wall is meant to keep out,” he started with, trying to craft the way the conversation was going to go, “and the reason for its construction after the Long Night. Have you heard of White Walkers?”

“I have, a bit. Only in stories.”

“Stories,” he repeated. If only. Jon pulled at his lower lip with his teeth before he continued, feeling a tightening in his chest. “They’ve returned, the White Walkers. They aren’t just tales. They’re real. They’re coming.”

She eyed him, trying to see if he was making a joke, seeing if she should laugh once he told her he was only kidding. Her face changed slowly when she saw that there was only concern to his expression.

“White Walkers,” she breathed out, questioning it.

“And the Army of the Dead,” he revealed, drawing out the words because he really didn’t want to have to say them. “The Lord Commander’s Tower is burned because I found a dead man, a Wight, in there. Put a sword right through him and it didn’t slow him down. Only fire kills them. Well, that and dragonglass but there is not a lot of that around these days.”

She was holding back the distraught look she wanted to show, carefully molding her expression into something more tamed. Her eyes had widened, taking in the frightening information. Daenerys folded her arms over and gripped her upperarms, almost like she was cold, but he knew it was because her skin had prickled from his troubling words. She moved so that she could sit down in the chair before Jon.

Jon tentatively continued. “Gilly’s baby…she was afraid because if it were a boy, Craster would give it to the White Walkers.”

“How many boys did he have?”

Jon remembered the amount of daughters there had been, all his wives too. “A lot, but none any of us ever met. Craster got rid of all of them.”

All handed over to the enemy.

It was a lot to digest all together and at once, he understood that. Daenerys sat there without saying anything for what felt like a very long time. He was patient and gave her the time to process it all, her eyes wandering about as she thought it all through.

“Dead men?” she asked, quiet.

“And women,” he added. “Everything in their path.”

“Isn’t that all supposed to be a legend?”

Jon grimaced. “I’m afraid not. They march for us, towards the Wall.”

“Why? The Wall keeps them out. How would they get past it?”

If only he knew.

“I don’t have many answers, just questions, much like yourself. I don’t know what the Night King plans, only that he must have something planned. They returned for a reason, but what it might be, only the White Walkers know.”

Daenerys took another moment, looking towards the window that was shut tight. “You don’t have the men or the supplies to fight them, do you?”

“Not even close,” he replied darkly.

She eyed him suspiciously with the way he said that to her. “There’s something else, isn’t there? Do you want to talk about it?”

“No,” he passed it off, not wanting to trouble her. But there was an itching sensation that crept through him, his hands balling into fists at his side as he blurted out, “Actually, yes. I had to ask Roose Bolton for men and supplies for the Night’s Watch. He’s the Warden of the North now. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.”

“I do, yes. He’s the one who murdered your brother at the wedding at the Twins.”

Jon fell silent. He released the tension in his hands before he made marks in his palms and brought his hands up to the desk. It was one of the most difficult things to think about for Jon. Roose Bolton betrayed his family and Jon as the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch had to suck it up and ask for help anyways. In its own way it felt like it was another betrayal, a betrayal to Robb.

“Jon?”

He snapped his head up, brought out of his thoughts.

Daenerys was gazing at him. “I’ll ask again.” She reached across the table and grabbed his hand. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“I think talking about it will make it worse,” he told her, feeling almost exasperated. His fingers extended to wrap around hers, finding he enjoyed the feeling of her trying to comfort him. “Talking about it makes me have to feel it and there is no room for that, not here, not while the Lord Commander. That is the reality of it. There are plenty of brothers here with sad stories. I’m just one of the many.”

Daenerys’ eyes said it all. She was upset for him, feeling his pain, and there was a certain understanding between them. “I won’t mention it again. You can tell me when you’re ready, or if you ever want to.”

She was about to pull away when he squeezed her hand and replied, “If there was anyone I wanted to talk about it with, it would be you.”

He didn’t entirely know why he said what he did. He hardly knew Daenerys, but what he did know was that she knew what loss was like when everything was out of control.

Jon averted his eyes back to their hands still together, where he did not let go from. Her hand was so warm against his, as if he were holding his hand over a fire, the flickering of warmth running through him. When her thumb grazed over his knuckles, his own thumb massaged one of her fingers that was trapped underneath his.     

For the first time, he had a moment where he was happy that she was there. He didn’t quite understand the feeling but enjoyed the emotional support she was generously giving to him—a man she barely knew.

The sweet moment between them was interrupted by Olly at the door.

“Lord Commander, there is someone here to see you.”

He had to force his eyes away from Daenerys, abruptly snatching his hand back as if he had been caught doing something wrong, which he knew that he hadn’t. “Who is it?”

Olly pressed his lips together, pausing, eyes shifting between Jon and Daenerys. “He says his name is Tyrion Lannister.”

Daenerys abruptly rose from her seat, the chair screeching as her leg knocked it a bit to the side. She looked over at Jon, alarm in her eyes. It made him think that she feared the Lannisters more than the White Walkers and the Night King that he had just told her about.

“What does he look like?” Jon asked, looking for clarification.

Olly hesitated. “He’s…a dwarf.”

Jon noticed how Dany’s hands balled at her side. “What does he want? Why is he here?”

“There’s only one way to find that out.”

Jon grabbed his cloak from off the back of the chair and pulled up out of his seat, going for the door with haste. He turned back to Daenerys after he eased the cloak over his head and onto his shoulders. “Will you be joining us?”

Daenerys looked unsure, frozen in her place.

“You don’t have to,” he told her earnestly. “It wasn’t a request, just an offer.”

Jon didn’t want her to feel pressured to go and welcome Tyrion. He could see why she would feel it necessary, as the Lady of a castle generally was always present to welcome a guest…not that they were following traditional customs there at Castle Black.

She shook her head to say no in response.

“I’ll be back,” Jon promised.

Olly walked a pace in front of Jon as he showed the way to the gates. Outside, the snow was coming down sideways with the wind, nearly five inches already on the ground and accumulating at a rapid pace. He dared looking upward, seeing the dark grey skies just beyond the thick whiteness that tumbled downward. Jon knew the bulk of the storm had yet to come, and it might last longer than what was initially expected.

At the gates, there was Tyrion Lannister, not quite dressed for the weather and next to a horse that looked like it needed a good feeding and a blanket over its sides to keep warm. Both of them did, but Jon was more inclined to feed the horse rather than a Lannister.

Lannisters.

Killed his father.

Killed his brother.

Handed over Winterfell to the Boltons.

Tyrion wasn’t entirely like the rest of them, but he still counted as a Lannister all the same. Jon was not foolish. There was no way Tyrion had clean hands. There was sure to be blood on them. How could there not be?

His nose was red, no doubt his face frozen from wherever he had come from. It was a strange feeling to be who they were, Tyrion being there seeking refuge and Jon being the one who had the power. Jon stood there in front of Tyrion, not saying anything, waiting for an explanation.

Dany’s words rang back to him. What does he want? Why is he here?

“The last I saw you, well, you were just a boy,” Tyrion marveled, looking at Jon.

Jon challenged, “And now?”

Tyrion smirked as he shook off the flakes of snow from his hair. “Now it seems you’ve come into your own, Lord Commander. It’s probably not mutual, but I’m glad to see you again.”

Jon wondered if that was just a courtesy Tyrion prepared. He could not imagine why Tyrion would be tickled in any way to see Jon once more.

But, no, it was not exactly mutual, not after everything that had happened.

Jon looked around at all the brothers who had slowed at what they were doing, clearing away snow and ice, to see what was going on. Half of them had been there when Tyrion had last visited the Wall, the other half knew who he was even without seeing him before. Everyone knew of the most famous dwarf in Westeros.

“Are we going to get out of the snow any time soon, or were you imagining having a frozen dwarf statue at your gates?”

Jon relented, even though he hated the surprise visitation. “Take the horse to the stable,” he instructed a nearby brother. He turned back to Tyrion, who looked relieved. “Come with me.”

As they walked back inside, Jon thought about all the possibilities as to why Tyrion would be there, a few sticking out in his mind. He led him towards his office in King’s Tower. Daenerys was gone when he opened the door back up, not surprised to find her missing.

Ghost was right by the door when it opened, eyes settling on Tyrion as Jon walked in, giving a stroke of his fur along his back as he entered.

Gods,” Tyrion exclaimed. “You’re still keeping that thing?”

Jon took offense to that. “You might want to be nicer.” He sized up Tyrion. “Ghost could kill you with one bite.”

“Aye, I don’t doubt it.”

Tyrion kept his eyes trained on Ghost as he stepped forward and sat down at a round table in the corner, to the side of the fireplace.

Olly had followed them back in. “Is there anything you need, Lord Commander?”

“No—”

“A drink,” Trion interrupted, enthusiastic about it.

Jon nodded at Olly for the request and he swiftly went to go grab the ale. Once he had left, Jon made a motion with his hands. “What are you doing here? Was it you who wrote the letter?”

“What letter?” he asked curiously.

He was unaware. Interesting.

“Nevermind. Why are you here?”

“You get right to the point, don’t you?”

“And you avoid it.”

Tyrion smiled then. “Guilty.”

Jon joined Tyrion at the table. “Do you mean to tell me why you’re here or are you going to play word games with me? Just tell me, does this have something to do with Joffrey Baratheon’s death?”

Tyrion rocked his head side to side. “Somewhat.” His eyes squinted at Jon. “How do you know of that?”

“I think I’ll ask the questions,” he told him lowly.

“Why am I here?” Tyrion mimicked the words. “This is a stop along the way,” he alluded, not giving over much detail.

It annoyed Jon.

“If you’re not careful, you’ll be on your way sooner than you think.”

He held up his hands in protest. “Fine. I’ll cave. So, you’ve heard of my horrid nephew’s departure from this world…have you heard about my father’s?”

It was news to him.

“No.”

“Ah, hold onto your seat, this is going to be a rather interesting tale for you.”

Jon allowed him to proceed. “Go on.”

“After my monstrous nephew choked on his last breaths, he turned to me and named me his killer. I wish I had been but I’m not so lucky to have been involved in his death, not that anyone believed that,” Tyrion begun. “They threw me into a cell and waited to find me guilty of a crime I did not commit. Fast forward a fortnight and there I am about to stand trial when my brother tells me to plead guilty, that my dear father will send me to the Wall and graciously spare my life. What a generous offer, don’t you think?”

If Tyrion was looking for sympathy, it was the wrong place to seek it.

“Terrible thing to be accused of a crime you did not commit,” Jon said with a straight face, thinking about his father.

Tyrion knew what Jon meant. “Indeed, it is,” he responded humbly.

Jon tapped his fingers in the table anxiously. “What of Sansa?”

“I don’t know where she went to, only that she was gone.”

It felt like another blow to the chest. Another sibling vanished.

Gone?”

“Yes, gone. Lucky for her or my sister would have her locked away too. Wherever she is, it’s safer than being in King’s Landing. I can tell you that much. Sansa is a smart girl, she will find her way.”

“What happened next?”

“Well, there was a trial and instead of being found guilty and accepting my fate, I demanded a trial by combat. Oberyn Martell was my champion…not so victorious.”

Jon closed his eyes. He would have to tell Daenerys. It was not the type of information he wanted to have to relay to her.

“I know, it’s a tragic scenario everyway you look at it,” Tyrion grimly mentioned, stemming from Jon’s reaction. “You should know that he decided to fight for me on his own accord. That beast Cersei has, Gregor Clegane, is just another monster lurking in King’s Landing that is used for her own benefit.”

“You didn’t mention how your father ended up dead during all of this.”

“I’m getting to it. Where did I leave off? Oh, yes, the trial by combat. I’m back in my cell when I get freed by my brother. He thought I would just go, but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. Long story short, I find my father hunched over on the privy and I shot him in the heart with a crossbow.”

Jon had not been expecting that. “You murdered your father?”

“I did.” Tyrion looked around theatrically, trying to look as if he were alarmed. “Wait, is this not the place where murderers come to avoid punishment?”

Jon was in no mood to bicker back and forth, but then again, Tywin Lannister was not anyone that Jon would think twice about. 

“I think not even here you would be safe from your sister’s wrath. Don’t tell me you mean to become a brother.”

“Gods, no! I’m not staying.”

Good.

Jon didn’t need one more quick-witted fool around him.

Olly reentered the room at that moment, carefully balancing the ale in the cups, placing them down on the table, leaving the full canister of it on the table too.

“That will be all, Olly.”

He nodded and left the room. Tyrion turned his head over his shoulder and watched Olly leave.

“A bit young to be here, isn’t he?”

“His mother and father were butchered by Wildlings that came south of the Wall. He ran here to let us know.”

The vein in his neck protruded from disgust. “Not the way to die,” Tyrion mumbled.

As Jon reflected, he said, “It seems a lot of people have been dying terrible ways for unnecessary circumstances lately.”

Tyrion huffed in agreement. “Indeed. But, speaking of dying, I think we both understand that Daenerys is lucky to have left Dorne with her life. All the years I knew Robert Baratheon he wanted to have Daenerys killed,” Tyrion said darkly. “So did Joffrey.”

Jon looked at Tyrion in a cold way. “I don’t doubt it.”

“I didn’t say that I wanted that,” he quickly interjected, looking defensive. “Who do you think was the one to suggest she come here in the first place?”

If he thought that would help his case, it was not.

“It was you?” Jon asked forcefully.

Tyrion took notice of the tone of voice and swiftly launched into a defense. “I can’t take full credit, but some things had been mentioned of what should happen with her by someone I was acquainted with. I agreed it was best to send her away.”

“You? Not your sister?”

He shook his head. “Cersei was not informed until the last moment.”

“The last moment?”

“As in, Daenerys had already crossed over into Northern territory and there was nothing she could have done about it…” His eyebrows flew upward on his forehead. “Oh, she was furious. She actually yelled at my father. There was a lot of finger pointing and angry slurs. Not a fun place to be in.”

“What did he do?”

Tyrion gave Jon a look. “He silenced her.”

What an unnatural family, Jon thought.

“She shouldn’t be here, especially knowing that Joffrey is dead now. She didn’t need to come here.”

“Ah, yes, I should have just waited a little while and have held back my influence to have my father agree to the plan. Then wouldn’t be here at all. Wouldn’t you like that?”

“It would make things easier.”

Tyrion saw through him, an irritating trait he must have acquired. “That was not the question.” Tyrion eyed him up, smiling like he knew something that Jon didn’t. “You like having her here, don’t you? Keeps your days interesting. She is a breath of fresh air, a beautiful woman to keep you occupied.”

Before he got the chance to elaborate further, Tyrion took a swig of the ale and it did not go over well with him.

Ugh! This is awful,” he scowled, sticking his tongue out at the taste. One would have thought he had eaten a wedge of a lemon. “Horrendous.”

“Welcome to Castle Black,” Jon replied, holding up his cup to toast to it. 

“And to the warmest of welcomes,” Tyrion added.

They both drank a sip, Tyrion more than Jon, and despite his initial reaction to the ale. Maybe he thought if he drank enough it would stop tasting the way it did.

“I want a real answer. Why did you send Daenerys here?”

“Is it not obvious?” Tyrion took another sip of ale, forcing it down without wincing that time. “One reason was to keep her out of Joffrey’s torture circle. I would rather not see her displayed in front of the Iron Throne beaten and bloody, or worse.” Tyrion let his elbow fall to the table, resting his jaw onto his cupped palm, gazing off into the air. “I’m not sure who I would have preferred, the Mad King or my nephew, who seemed to be both mad and stupid. I think I might have wanted the Mad King.”

“Let’s not talk of the Mad King.”

Tyrion downed some more from his cup, beginning to ramble. “No, let’s talk of Daenerys instead. Poor girl. No family, stashed away in Dorne for ages. She was safe there for a time, but not with Joffrey roaming the Red Keep without a leash, trying to find his next victim. Or with Cersei spiraling out of control after his death.” He stopped, only to have an afterthought make its way to the surface, completely unrelated. “And Dorne—there’s too much sand in that place. I think it starts to mess with the mind. That’s why the Martells are so hostile.”

“Perhaps they’re hostile because there are rumors your father ordered Elia Matrell’s murder and her children’s,” Jon said, not even thinking about the words before they came out.

Tyrion’s face faltered, and he took a big swig of the ale, then topped off his cup again. “I’ve heard those rumors as well.”

“And?” he challenged with some force behind the words.

“I’d rather not think of it, if I am being honest.”

Typical Lannister, he thought bitterly, always willing to be ignorant.

“Why? Has Daenerys mentioned something to you?”

Jon reclined in his seat. “Dany hasn’t said much at all.”

Dany?” he questioned the name, sounding as if it were peculiar to him, eyebrow raising in a suggestive manner. “Are you getting on well with her?”

“There hasn’t been much conversation. I never know what to say to her.”

“So, you haven’t yet…?” he made an alluding gesture with his hands.

Jon rolled his eyes. “I swore an oath.”

Tyrion snorted. “And all the Night’s Watch upholds that very sacred vow,” he added sarcastically.

Jon affirmed, “I haven’t bedded her.”

Tyrion busted out into laugher, spilling some ale onto his clothes. “You’re joking. Very funny.”

“I’m not joking,” he said defensively.  “I had her own room set up for her. I’m not forcing her to be with me or share my bed when someone else made the decision for her to come here in the first place.”

Tyrion looked almost defeated by the news. Then, there was a sly smile and Tyrion nodded. He pointed at Jon. “Jon Snow, you’re a better man than I thought.”

For some reason, it set Jon off.

“You’ve got some nerve coming here and telling me you were playing the good guy by trying to get her to safety. It’s bullshit. She was sent here because she’s a Targaryen, the last Targaryen woman, and if I had to take a guess, I think I know why. I can see it now, all of you around that table for the Small Council. A Targaryen will always be a threat to you. There will always be people who will support her claim to the throne. Then there’s the problem with the North that needs to be settled. No one quite likes the Boltons, now do they? There is unrest. So, piece by piece you put it together. Send Daenerys to the Bastard of Winterfell who still carries Stark blood and have their fates tied together in the dreariest place Westeros has available. Dorne might not have been the safest place for her but at least she wouldn’t have been robbed of a decent life there.”

Tyrion shuffled around in his seat, uncomfortable for the first time. “You’re also quite an intelligent man,” Tyrion said.

Jon felt a scowl on his face deepen. “You’re just full of compliments, aren’t you?” 

“Listen, that was only a small part of the reason I suggested she come here. Yes, the logic made sense, especially to my father which is why I knew he would agree to it. However, there were other elements at play on my end.”

“Other elements?”

Tyrion sighed out loud. “You are the worst drinking partner I’ve ever encountered.”

Jon looked down at his cup that he had barely touched. “It’s working out well for me.”

Tyrion got quiet suddenly, circling his fingers around the wood of the table before jamming his thumb against it. It looked like he was wrestling with something inside his head.

“Do you know how Daenerys ended up in Dorne in the first place?”

“Your sister told Stannis Baratheon to bring her there.”

Tyrion shook his head. “No, my sister told him to take the baby from Dragonstone alive if it were a girl, never mentioning where to bring her. A great fault on her end.” The tapping on his fingers continued. “It was your father who told Stannis to hand her to the Martells.”

“My father?” he whispered.

“Do you really think Lord Eddard Stark wanted a baby girl to die? Or to have a life in King’s Landing? He sent a raven to Dragonstone telling Stannis to give the child Rhaella had to Dorne. Cersei had yet to come up with whatever she wanted done with Daenerys and your father took the opportunity to secure her safety.”

It was time for him to take another sip of ale. The information he was getting out of Tyrion was enlightening. 

“Stannis did not mention that while he was here.”

“Why would he?”

Jon changed the subject. “What about her brother, Viserys? What happened to him?”

Tyrion shrugged his shoulders. “That same sources says it did not end very well for him, let’s put it that way. Shipped across the sea before Rhaella gave birth. Last that was heard was that he contracted a disease that killed him when he was twelve. Daenerys doesn’t know. You should tell her. She should know.”

“Do you think I want to have to tell her that her brother has been dead for years and now Oberyn Martell is also dead?”

“No, but you have to.”

Jon tried to not show his frustration. “Go back to what you were saying. How do you know all this? Why should I believe any of it?”

“I have my sources.”

“Sources,” Jon scoffed. “Is that your word for spies?”

“Something of the sort. A source who is trustworthy, nonetheless.” Tyrion folded his arms over his chest and abruptly sat back in the chair that looked a bit too big for him. He was ready to change the subject to one he was itching to talk of. “How is she?”

“Half the time I don’t know what to do with her,” Jon confessed. “Castle Black is no place for a woman.”

“Need I remind you that she is your woman,” he emphasized, peeling the cup of ale away from his lips, “and if you can’t figure out what to do with her, have you ever considered, oh, I don’t know, asking her what she would like to do around this place?”

He brought up a valid point.

“I guess you’re right.”

“I’m rarely wrong.”

They shared a brief chuckle and Tyrion relaxed despite Jon remaining tense.

“Would you like some advice?” Tyrion offered, sitting back up, painfully parting from his cup of ale, pushing it off to the side.

Jon did not see the point in saying no. Tyrion would most like say what he wanted to anyways. “Go on.”

“Embrace it, embrace that she’s here and that you have the chance to make a relationship of it. Put some effort into it. Women are complicated, there is no arguing with that. Tell her she’s pretty but be sure to compliment more than her looks. She’s bright, so occasionally ask her opinion on decisions. You might be surprised at how much easier it makes it—having a woman’s perspective.”

“Not may account for a woman’s perspective,” Jon pointed out, truthfully.

“You and I are not among the majority,” he mentioned, then declared loudly, “We are the forward thinkers of today’s society.”

Jon made a face at that last part. “I think you’ve had too much ale.”

Tyrion wagged a finger at him. “And I think you have not had enough.” Tyrion fished around in his pocket and retrieved a ring with two pearls, placing it in front of Jon. “Here, before I forget, I brought this with me. Take it.”

“I don’t think it’ll match my eyes,” he dryly joked.

“For Daenerys,” he clarified. “It was her mother’s actually. Don’t ask me how I got it, just give it to her one day. She’ll like it. No, she will adore it. And she’ll adore you for giving it to her.”

Jon turned suspicious again. “Why are you giving this to me? What are Daenerys and I to you? As soon as you’ll leave you’ll think nothing of us.”

Tyrion sighed, rolling his eyes. “Jon Snow, you are one of the most stubborn people I’ve ever met, and I’ve met more than you could ever count. To tell you the truth, I have a soft spot. Not everyone can be as good with women as I am. Others need some help.”

“Fine,” he agreed, accepting the gift. “But only because it was her mother’s and she deserves to have it.”

“See, was that difficult?”

Jon rolled his eyes. “Let’s get back to the questions. Explain this, why would you come all the way to Castle Back first if you were headed somewhere else? Where’s the logic in that?”

“Why did I come here first? To give you this ring, of course,” he roughly teased, chuckling to himself. “Look, someone told me to come here first once I was free. There is a lot going on in the south that you are unaware of. Just leave it be for now. You have enough to deal with without what is going on a thousand leagues away.”

Leave it be—he had too much to worry about already, so he took the advice.

“When do you plan to leave? You said this was a stop along the way, where else are you headed?”

“Essos, but I cannot tell you where specifically though.”

“Who would I tell?”

He looked at him like it were obvious. “Daenerys.”

Jon leaned back. He probably would.

“And for when I’m leaving, don’t be concerned about that either. I’ll be gone tomorrow. I’m not sticking around in this place any longer than I have to. That Ser Allister is quite the cunt, isn’t he? He was in the courtyard when I arrived. He kept looking at me like I’ve sprouted another head. No, that’s not right—like I’ve suddenly gained a few extra feet in height right before his eyes. Now that would be something shocking.”

“Ser Allister isn’t a fan of yours, sadly,” Jon said.

“Nor yours,” Tyrion added. “Daenerys, on the other hand, I would bet a hundred rubies he doesn’t mind being here.”

“He was a Targaryen loyalist,” Jon explained. “In part that is why he hates me, because of how the Starks fought on the opposite side.”

“Maybe he won’t hate you so much now that she’s here with you.”

Jon shot him a stony look. “No, that gives him even more reason to despise me, Lord Commander or not. I’m the bastard boy from the North given command of Castle Black and sent a beautiful Targaryen girl. He probably stews over it in his spare time.”

“Too bad he can’t give you any shit for it with your new position.”

Jon doubted that. Ser Allister would find a way.

“You won’t be able to leave tomorrow, you know that, not with the snow. You’re lucky you made it here alive.”

“When there is a will, there is a way, Jon Snow.”

He sat back even further in the chair. If Tyrion wanted to flee in a storm, that was his prerogative. Come morning, he would change his mind, Jon was certain of that. When the snow and wind was so strong he couldn’t see a couple yards in front of him, there would be no leaving. Not even the horse he came on would be willing to come out of the stable.

“You might as well get out while you can,” Jon mentioned. “White Walkers and the Army of the Dead will be upon us soon enough.”

Tyrion splashed his ale, bubbles coming over the sides of the cup. He was forced to set it down and dry off his mouth with the back of his sleeve. “White Walkers!” he laughed. “You can’t be serious.”

“Believe me, I wish I wasn’t serious.”

Tyrion’s face sobered up. “A dead army?”

“Aye. Gaining more every day and night.”

Tyrion bent over and sipped some more ale, not using his hands to grip the cup. He looked skeptical, but he knew Jon enough to know that he would not be lying. “Oh. I guess I should be happy I’m going to Essos.”

Jon grappled over the reality. “That might not even be far enough.”

After Jon had a room made up for Tyrion and showed him to where he would be staying, Jon was more stressed than he was before Tyrion had come. It was night when he went back to his study and upon opening the door, Daenerys was sitting there at his desk, hoping to catch him with Tyrion absent.

She looked good there, that was his first thought.

“Why is he here?” asked Daenerys.

“Good evening to you too,” he mumbled, shutting the door.

“Why is he here,” she demanded, more forceful.

He noticed her rigid form. “Relax,” he told her gently. “He’s only staying until tomorrow...or so he thinks. My guess is he won’t be out of here until several more days.”

Her eyes narrowed at him. “You still have not answered my question.”

“I’m getting to it. Do you remember how that letter came stating the King was dead?”

“Yes.”

“Shortly after the Hand of the King died too.”

“Tywin Lannister?”

“Aye, and by died I mean murdered, by his son himself.”

Daenerys paused. “Tyrion murdered his father?”

“On the privy,” he added.

Daenerys giggled, catching herself, throwing her hand over her mouth. Jon started to smile too, having to bite down on his bottom lip to stop himself.

“Are you serious about that?”

“I am. Shot a crossbow.”

“We all get what we deserve in the end,” she commented.

She stalled before beginning to walk towards the door to excuse herself. He almost let her go, but Jon had to do the right thing.

“There is something you need to know,” he told her regretfully.

She recognized the tone of his voice. “What is it?” He paused for too long and she was prompted to ask him again, “Please, what?”

“Oberyn Martell is dead.”

He saw it all flash across her face in only a few seconds. Jon would tell her of Viserys later, as too much he feared would put her over the edge. Daenerys blinked twice before tears welled in her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he breathed out.

He took a step forward but she turned away abruptly, her back facing him. He couldn’t see her but her hands flew up to her face.

Jon approached silently, arm extending out, hovering over her back, but he balled up his fist instead. He wanted to comfort her in some way because he knew what it was like to find out someone cared for was gone.

Daenerys turned around and he caught a glimpse of how her the white of eyes turned red, tears spilling over. She was containing her sobs but threw herself against him anyways. Her arms tied around his back tightly, linked there, the top of her head just below his chin. There was something natural about when he looped his arms around her and held her there, one hand falling at her back and the other holding her head against the leather at his chest. Nothing else mattered in that moment, it was just the two of them standing alone in an embrace.

Chapter Text

Daenerys

She had fallen easily into an emotional slump after Jon revealed the news to her that Oberyn was gone. What made it worse was that Tyrion was still at Castle Black, the Lannister Oberyn died fighting for. Over in the corner, cooled wax was on the floor after she had thrown a candle to the ground the couple days ago when she found out.

Dany was well aware of her temper that flared up every now again. She had let it get the best of her that night.

There in her bed, it was past time she should have gotten up. Gilly was knocking at her door, Dany almost sending her away again so she could wallow in her bed, but decided to get up. She had to keep moving forward.

At a smaller, narrow table to the side of the bed that was pushed against the wall, Gilly brushed out her tangled hair from a night of tossing and turning. Daenerys had to admit, it felt nice, and very comforting.

“It’s a mess,” Dany commented, catching her reflection in the polished bronze.

“No, you have beautiful hair,” Gilly said, admiring the locks.

She took a piece in her fingers, remembering how her hair was a clear indicator that she was not like the rest, especially in Dorne. Daenerys wondered how Ellaria Sand, her daughters and the other daughters of Oberyn were fairing. He had always been kind to her, teaching her the ways of the world. One phrase stood out to her then, above all the others.

Good people end up dead.

Daenerys slumped in her chair an inch or so. It was a chilling truth. Good people kept dying and too many bad ones lived.

“Gilly?” she asked, high pitched.

“Yes?”

“Do you plan to stay here?”

“I don’t know where else to go. Sam is here. He said he would make sure that my son and I are safe.”

In the short time that Dany had met and known Gilly, she talked often of Sam, especially the books he would read to her. There was not much she would talk about her life before Castle Black, only that she was glad to be there and not out there as she would call it, a chilled look to her when she did.

“What is Sam to you?” Daenerys asked, perplexed by the relationship she had formed, as a Wildling girl and Sam a brother of the Night’s Watch. She had her suspicions. “Is he more than a friend?”

Gilly’s brush stokes slowed as she thought. “He is my lover.”

Dany turned in her chair, hair swooping to the side. Her mouth popped open. “You and Sam?”

She nodded.

“What about the vows they take?” she asked, entirely confused.

Her big, brown eyes did not shy away. “Sam says the vows don’t say to be celibate, only to father no children and take no wife.”

A gray area.

Daenerys twisted so her back was straight again and Gilly continued to brush. She thought about it more, how she did not know what the Night’s Watch vows were. She did not recall ever reading anything about the specific words.

“I’ve never heard the vows.”

“Not I either, but Sam would not lie. He is good and true.”

It was an interesting detail that Daenerys had overlooked. Daenerys brought up her finger, running the smooth edge along her lower lip, mind wandering. She wanted to know exactly what the vows were

“Gilly?”

“Yes?”

“When will I get to meet our son?”

Gilly set down the brush and began to run her fingers through Dany’s hair. “Would you want to meet him?”

“Of course I would. Why wouldn’t I?”

“He sometimes gets into things he should not. I worry he will mess something up in here…stomp on a dress and soil it or pull apart a necklace. He can be trouble.”

Daenerys turned around one again and caught Gilly’s hand to show her sincerity. “Please, bring him.”

Gilly smiled sweetly. “As you wish.”

Some time went by as Gilly braided Dany’s hair, built with five strands, not the usual three or four. At the end, she took a white ribbon and double knotted it so the braid would be secure.

For the first time, Gilly was the one to start a conversation to talk. “Do you want children?”

“I always thought I would.”

“Are you sad to be here?”

Daenerys wasn’t sure how to answer it simply. “Well, no. I wouldn’t use that word. There are definitely constraints of being here, but it isn’t terrible. You’re very nice and Aemon is always wonderful. And Jon is…”

Gilly waited for her to finish but Daenerys never did.

“I think you and Jon will be like Sam and I,” Gilly blunted added, her neck tall.

Dany chuckled and grabbed a small container filled with a mixture for her lips, colored deep pink. “I’m not so sure of that.”

Gilly went across the room to get out a dress. Under her breath, Daenerys heard her say, “Give it time.”

On her way to see Aemon that morning, she crossed paths with Tyrion Lannister, who she was hoping to avoid. When he turned the corner, he stepped back, surprised to see her there. Her whole body went tense with anger by the sight of him.

“Daenerys Stormborn.” Tyrion greeted, then corrected himself, “Lady Commander.” He then approached, looking up at her as she kept an even expression. “You truly are a sight. My sister would have been enraged had she ever seen what a woman you had grown into. It seems it is true. You are more beautiful than Cersei.”

She held her chin high, changing the subject. “Lord Tyrion, I hear you are leaving soon.”

“I am. Are you looking forward to that?”

She paused, but Seven Hells, she was the Lady Commander and she would say as she pleased. “Yes.”

“I imagine you would.” He smiled to himself, pointing in the other direction. “I have to go see the Lord Commander. He was right, the snows are too great to travel in. I’m not used to this type of weather, but I trust a boy from the North’s judgement on this matter. I’ll let a few more days pass before I’m out of here.”

He was about to turn away when Daenerys said, “I will inform him you plan to stay.”

“That would be very kind. Thank you.”

“Tyrion,” she called before he could leave. Tyrion turned back around, thumping in his boots against the wood planks on the floor. “Did Oberyn really die at his own free will?”

Tyrion’s mouth pulled into a line, not expecting the question from Daenerys. “He did. He wanted justice for his sister and fought that beast of man called the Mountain for it. I wish he hadn’t suffered the fate he did.”

She nodded, swallowing a lump in her throat, and turned away, not saying anything more. When she finally got to her destination and down the stairs into the library, Aemon had a wiry wool blanket over his legs, pushed into the table with Sam there assisting. He had a book in his hands, standing in the corner, ingulfed in what he was reading. She wondered what was so captivating.

“Oh!” Sam was startled, noticing her there at the bottom of the steps. “D—” he caught himself and corrected the would have been mishap. “Lady Commander, how are you today?”

Sam was one of those boys who was always nice, who was loyal, and Daenerys felt fond of him. It looked like he was close with Jon and he was most certainly close to Gilly. Despite her liking towards him, she decided to lie so she did not make him feel bad.

“Well, thank you.”

Something strange happened then. Sam stuttered something that Daenerys didn’t catch, then started closing up open books and collecting scrolls together that had been laid out on the table. Dany stretched her neck to get a look at what it was, but it was hard to read from where she stood. Instead, she used that new title of hers to intervene. Sam would feel obligated to answer her questions.

“What is all this?”

“Oh, this?” Sam gave a panicked chuckle and smiled awkwardly, rubbing at the back of his neck. A few scrolls slipped from his grip and onto the floor. “This is a project I’m working on for the Lord Commander.”

“A project?” she inquired, tone showing she wanted more information. She realized it was because he thought she was unaware. “Is this about the White Walkers? Jon has already told me.” She inched further towards the table and bent over to retrieve the scrolls that had fallen. “Can I help?”

Sam looked surprised, eyebrows shooting up on his forehead before he shook his head quickly to bring back a neutral expression. “Well, it’s rather boring, I’d have to warn you. I’m just trying to come across anything that might help us. Weaknesses of the White Walkers, things of that sort. There isn’t much information from the last time they were up and walking around…”

“Have you seen them?” she asked, “The White Walkers?”

Sam looked rattled, a past memory triggered. “I have,” he gulped, “and regrettably so. Not what you want to come across out there where there is nowhere to run to, no shelter but the snow and the ice. They have been asleep under the ice for years…now they’ve returned.” Sam looked thoroughly uncomfortable having to say that. Daenerys could tell he was afraid of even his own memories. “We only know so far that fire destroys them. I’ve been searching for alternatives.”

She wasn’t about to let go of an opportunity to do something of value. Daenerys held out her hand to take some of which Sam was hoarding in his arms. “I’ll help.”

There was no question in there and that was how she meant it. Sam had no choice but to fork over some books.

“Of course, Lady Commander. Thank you.” Sam put everything back down onto the table and sorted through it. He stacked two books on top of each other and pushed them to the side for her. “I haven’t looked in those yet. I have to admit, it would make it easier to split some of the reading. It becomes quite tiresome and not many here are literate. Please, do inform me if you come across anything relevant.”

She cracked open a book nearest to her that was both the width and length of her entire forearm. Sam pointed towards the stairs and quickly excused himself, practically running out of the library.

“Did I scare him off?” she questioned Aemon.

“He is not used to talking to women,” he replied, “especially one as pretty as he describes you as.”

Daenerys smiled. “Ah.”

“It is true, though, another set of eyes will do us some good,” Aemon told her from his seat. “I’m not able to aid in that area anymore or I would.”

She pulled a chair out to sit down. “I hope I can help. I’d like to think I’m doing some good while I’m here.” She tapped her fingers on the books, the binding thick. “What do you think about these White Walkers?”

“I only know what I’ve been told. Not so pleasant, I’m afraid.”

“And how are you feeling today?”

“As good as I can. Don’t be concerned. I can’t die yet,” Aemon told her. “You’ve given me a reason to stick around his old place.”

Aemon said so many nice things to her that she would cherish them all her life. She really needed those kind words too after the couple of days she had dealing with the news about Oberyn.

“You’re too kind.”

“No, it is you who is kind, spending time down here in this dingy library with such an old man.” He dryly laughed as best he could. “I was thinking to myself the other day that it would be good if you read up on some of the history of the Night’s Watch.” With a thin, shaky finger, he pointed. “Over there on the shelf closest to the far wall is a collection I’ve compiled for you.”

Daenerys went over and picked up the books, blowing some accumulated dust off the top one. With a small cough from the particles in the air, she went back over and sat down. “Thank you for this.”

“My pleasure. There’s a lot to read to keep you occupied. Tell me, are you scratching at the walls with boredom yet?”

She giggled. “No, not yet.”


To relay Tyrion’s message, she set out to find Jon after spending adequate time with Aemon until Sam came back to escort him to his bed to rest. She knocked at Jon’s door, both the office and his personal chambers, but there was no answer. Wherever he was, it was not King’s Tower. It was only Olly who lingered at the entrance of the door that led out to the walkway. It made her wonder if he was keeping watch for her safe return from the library.

Daenerys walked back down the steps to find him. “Olly?”

The boy straightened up and turned around, hands automatically linking behind his back. “Yes, Lady Commander?”

She smiled in return. Olly was always so formal.

“Will you tell Jon when you see him next that I need to speak with him?”

“Of course.”

Daenerys put a hand against the wall before she started to go back up the stairs, curiosity striking again. “May I ask, how did you end up here, Olly?”

Olly’s face locked up, right eye twitching. “It’s not a story you would like to hear,” he responded, sounding sad.

It troubled Dany, so much that she had to know. “You can tell me.”

He was affected by what it was, what had led him to be at Castle Black. Even then, she could see how he was trying to put on a brave face and not give in to any tears.

“There was an attack,” he recalled quietly in a whisper. “Wildlings came across the border and killed my mother and father. I ran to here and have been here ever since. I don’t have any other living family.”

“I’m very sorry to hear that.”

Olly sniffled and wiped his eyes with the back of his sleeve, turning away from her to do so. She could tell he was trying very hard to not let the emotions out. He must have been holding them in ever since he arrived.

“My family is gone too,” she offered. “I know how it feels.”

“I’ve heard, even all the way up here. I’m sorry for you too. Having no family…it’s difficult. It was unexpected.”

“You have your brothers here now,” she tried to encourage.

Olly tuned back around to face Daenerys and looked down, picking at his nails. “Not the same,” he mumbled.

Daenerys knew that feeling also.

“I know, believe me, I do. What you have to remember is that it’s something, and having a home here, having people who care about your wellbeing…that is worth more than anything in the world.”

Olly looked to be taking her words in carefully. “Really?”

“Yes. There are many people worse off in life. There are people who have no one or no place to sleep. Being grateful for what you have. Being down about what you don’t have or what you used to have is not the right type of thinking. It only brings misery.”

“I’m grateful you’re here,” he mentioned, eyes sparkling like she has somehow given him rejuvenation.

She made a face, taken aback. “Are you? Why?”

Olly shrugged as he searched for his reasons. He linked his arms behind his back. “Well, I guess you just brighten the place up a little bit. It’s nice.”

“That’s very kind of you to say, Olly.”

“Kind people deserve to hear kind things, don’t you think so?”

What a gentle boy he was.

“Yes, I do.”

Olly smiled then, the first she saw him to do that.

“Do you happen to know where Jon went to?”

He then pointed towards the door that led outside. “The Lord Commander is up on the Wall. He should be back soon.” Olly faltered, then asked, “Would you like me to go and get him so you can talk to him?”

“No, it isn’t urgent. Let me know when he returns.”

“Of course, Lady Commander.”

Back in her room, Daenerys settled in, looking around at what to do. In Dorne, there had been plenty to do—go to the beaches, to the orchards, roam the desert gardens, spend the day with the Sand Snakes. At Castle Black, there was limited options. Several times she had tried to write a letter to Ellaria to express her condolences, yet could not find the right words once the ink was in her hand. She tabled that for the moment, hoping time would bring the words back to her.

The books Aemon gave her from the library about the history of Castle Black and the Night’s Watch were resting by the bed where she had dropped them off at. She knew that knowledge would be necessary for her to survive there so she sat down on the bed, pulling her legs up on top of furs that were bunch at the bottom, shoes dropping off the edge. The books were on the small table beside the bed, which she pulled all four up and onto the covers.

She flipped through carefully, as the paper sealed together into the binding was old and frail to the touch. Eventually, she found what she was looking for, eyes scanning the words from left to right.

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

Intense.

Gilly had been right after all—there was no mention of sexual relationships in the vows, just of taking no wife and having no children. Everything was implied.

Rather curious.

Daenerys knew that she should not be thinking about it, but after living a life in Dorne and with a family who more freely expressed their sexuality, it was hard to come to terms with her status there at Castle Black. The Lady Commander who had never been touched.

And then there was Jon. Daenerys was honest with herself—as much as he could irritate her, he was alluring in his own way and she wouldn’t mind being in bed with him. She wouldn’t mind if he snuck into her room and under her covers. Why not?

She wondered what was under those leather clothes he wore, if he thought about what she looked like under her dress.

The thought enthralled her.

Just stop wanting him. It will make everything easier.

She could try—or get him to see it her way.

Daenerys preferred the latter, even if it might take some time like Gilly had suggested. Her toes wiggled against the furs at the very thought. After all, Jon had already admitted to her that he thought she was beautiful. He was clearly a strong leader, decisive, and attractive. He was all things that Dornish girls looked for in a man, Daenerys included.

But there were other characteristics about him she liked that the other girls wouldn’t, like his moody attitude and somewhat gloomy appearance. Not exactly a talkative one either, but she knew it was because there was a lot going on inside that head of his.

Daenerys put the book down onto the bed next to her and picked up another one. She skimmed through some of the Lord Commanders, one after another, how long they served, their deeds in their post. Jeor Mormont had been recently added, the ink still dark whereas other pages had faded. The next page had blankness on both the left and the right. It made Daenerys wonder if her name might be penned next to Jon’s there or if she would be mentioned in his own biography.

Is that where she belonged, next to him?

Maybe it was the gods trying to answer her question for her, because just as the thought came, so did Jon. She had left the latch of the door undone, open just enough to poke a finger through so he wouldn’t have to wait at the door. He would disapprove of that, wary of the intentions of some boys there, but she was trying to be more open with Jon, and knew Olly was just down the stairs.

Plus, she had a knife under her pillow.

He still knocked twice, Daenerys telling him to come in. Jon took two steps inside before halting. “Olly said you wanted to see me?”

“Yes.”

“What are you reading?”

She set the book down at her side. “Aemon gave me books containing information about the Night’s Watch. It’s good for me to learn. Not many people every talk about it up here, what its like, what happens, how everything works. Castle Black is forgotten about.”

“That is certain.” Something else caught his attention before he could continue. “What is that?”

She looked down at the iron square container for her capped hands that she had put in her lap and forgot about as she had been reading. “Oh, this.” She popped open the lid and sniffed the contents, the aroma satisfying. “It’s made from coconuts. It’s for your skin. For the dryness,” she elaborated.

“Oh.”

“Dorne is very dry from the heat so we always use this so the skin doesn’t start to crack. That’s unpleasant and painful, especially on the feet. It works for here too because of the cold and the chill of the wind dries everything out.” She unconsciously rubbed her lips with her thumb, feeling how she had woken up with them feeling like a dune, but where now moisturized. She held out the container, wondering how neglected Jon’s skin was. “Do you want to try it?”

“No, it’s yours,” he refused.

“Here.” She scooped a small pebble sized amount out and went to him, bare feet on the stone floor. She took his hand with her left and smoothed it on with her right. “See? It helps.”

When he didn’t pull his hand away, Dany grabbed his other hand and continued to rub in the mixture by having his palm face hers, massaging it in. His hands were rough, she noticed, and would benefit from the scrub she brought from Dorne. She wanted to place those hands elsewhere on her body but did not dare make that type of move.

Not yet, at least.

“Lord Tyrion says he’s staying,” she said with discontent. She kept her eyes down when she muttered, “Is it wise to have him be here?”

Wise. It wasn’t what Dany was in that moment. It was not her right to question Jon’s decisions. It was the Night’s Watch. Castle Black was Jon’s and not hers, but she felt compelled to bring it up.

“If anyone found out, there could be consequences,” she had to emphasize to make her point. “I’m sorry if I’m stepping out of line.”

“You’re not.”

Their hands lingered together there, stilled. They were so close and he seemed to be leaning in slightly—or maybe that was just her imagination. Jon pulled away first, tucking his hand back to his side. She found she missed the contact.

“No?”

“Feel free to voice your opinions.”

Another surprise from him. Daenerys had thought that she might be infringing upon Jon being there, that she was somehow taking away some of his duty, authority, whatever it was of being the Lord Commander.

Feel free to voice your opinions.

For a moment there, she felt like she was back in Dorne. Jon was not going to stifle her thoughts there at Castle Black, and it only intrigued her further. The only question was, did he want to know her opinions, or was he just being considerate?

“Is that what you want?”

“I don’t see why it would be a problem.”

Good choice of response.

Jon cleared his throat. “Before I forget, while you’re here at Castle Black, I need to teach you a few things.”

She raised an eyebrow at him quizzically. “Teach me what?”

“Being here, especially with what is on the other side of the Wall, you should know how to defend yourself if the situation ever occurs that you would need to know how.

Jon

She hesitated, looked to the ground, then back up to him with a renewed look in her eyes. “It’s a good idea, I agree, but do we have to outside like all the recruits?”

The training yard was outside and Jon had not planned to go there due to how packed with snow it was. Still, he asked, “Something wrong with it outside? I thought you didn’t get cold?”

She shifted around in her place, swaying her hips. “I don’t want people watching.”

“I have another place in mind. We won’t be outside. No gawkers.”

She looked down. “I’d have to change.”

He motioned for her to do so. “I can wait.”

Jon waited patiently until Daenerys returned. He had to admit, it was strange to see her wearing breeches with brown boots that came up just below her knees. The top she wore was made of fabric light that was tight around her torso, sheer from her navel down to her knees, where the fabric swayed with every step she took. It was gold in color with brown leather trimming. At the sides, it was split in two at the each hip for easy movement. Jon’s teeth clenched as he took notice of how the top part molded against her cleavage where it plunged into a V and pushed her breasts.

He felt foolish for the sight to make him second guess himself on what he felt was necessary—Dany needed to know how to use a weapon. That was the goal.

Her arms went out into the air before they dropped to the side. “This is all I have with me. Nym had one just like it so she gave me an extra in case I needed one here.”

Jon cleared his throat. “It looks…” Jon looked her over once more and decided not to even finish that sentence, for fear something would come out that he would be embarrassed by. “Uh, this way.”

He momentarily considered going to Shieldhall, but in its mostly abandoned state, Jon realized it would not be pleasant if families of rats were to descend out upon their arrival. Jon had seen how they had eaten away at the rafters. The next best option for the sake of privacy would be the Grey Keep, where at the base there was a decent enough size room that was open and unoccupied.

He pulled a torch from inside a walkway before continuing on, knowing the Grey Keep was dark inside, the windows boarded up for winter, like all the other windows.

“May I ask a question?”

“You don’t have to ask if you can ask,” Jon mentioned, pulling the door to the Grey Keep open for her, motioning for her to continue in. “Just go ahead and ask it.”

They paused just on the inside, Jon pushing the door back shut, a trail of snowflakes rushing in before the oak door was latched so no wind would take it.

“I’ve noticed that most things around here are a touch…rundown.”

Jon could not hold back the chuckle due to her choice of words. “Is there a question in there?”

“Yes, my question is if the Night’s Watch is supposed to be independent, how does it make money to buy supplies?” Daenerys tilted her head around to look at all the cobwebs of the outer hallway, some rotting wood along the door. “Clearly, it hasn’t been going very well in recent years.”

There was no way to deny the truth about the state of Castle Black.

“You’re right. It hasn’t. That is why I had to write to the Northern Lords asking for men and supplies. We need support from somewhere.”

“How long will it take to hear back?”

“Hopefully soon.”

Whatever news it was, good or bad, the sooner, the better.

Upon entering, Jon was relieved to see that the first room off the entry of the Grey Keep had remained untouched since the last time Jon had been there. It was chillier, but not unbearable. He knew that Daenerys would not feel anything but warm and it made him slightly jealous that she was able to wear something so light and not have her skin prickle.

Jon was already sniffling from the quick walk to the Keep that made his nose run from the cold air. “Are you sure you’re not cold?” he found himself questioning.

“I’m positive.”

It wasn’t that he didn’t believe her, he just found it hard to believe in general. He had never heard anything about Targaryens not feeling the cold.

“Why is it that Maester Aemon feels the cold but not you? You are both Targaryens.”

“Look who is asking the questions now,” she sang, pointing a playful finger at him. “Yet, it’s a question I cannot answer. It simply is the way it is and always has been.”

Over by the door, Olly came through, bringing two sparring swords that were stored in the armory over like Jon had asked him to do. Olly smiled at Daenerys before leaving them alone once again.

“He’s a nice boy,” Daenerys remarked.

“He is,” Jon confirmed. “It’s unfortunate the circumstances that he is here.”

“Indeed, but at least he has his brothers. And he has you. We talked about that earlier. I do hope it helped ease his pain, at least a little.”

Jon saw a lot of himself in Olly—just another lost boy trying to find his way in he world.

“You talked with him?”

“Yes, just a bit when I was looking for you. We talked about family and being here.”

Jon nodded, feeling like he should not pry anymore into a private conversation. “Aye, that’s good then.”

Daenerys stood there tapping her boot against the flooring with her hands clasped together, waiting for further instructions. He decided to test how she would defend and go from there.

“Okay.” He stood in front of her, only a yard or so away. “Try to attack me.”

Her face bunched up. “You can’t be serious.”

“Just do it. You’ll see the point to it later.”

Jon turned his head, about to explain how they could work up to using a weapon, when the wind got knocked out of him. Before he knew it, Daenerys bent to the side and her leg flashed up, boot hitting him right in the ribs. He was knocked right onto his back, staring up at the ceiling where pieces had fallen down over the years.

It took him a few moments to realize what had happened.

With a sorry groan, Jon lifted up on his elbows to see Daenerys smiling with pride. “You know how fight?” he asked, winded.

“You should have known better. I grew up in Dorne,” she told him, putting her hands on her hips. “Did you really think I was defenseless this whole time? I’m not as good as the Sand Snakes or Oberyn, but I know how to keep myself safe.”

Jon started to laugh, surprised. “Why come in here then? You should show off your skills.”

“I didn’t want you to be embarrassed in front of your brothers,” she smirked, twisting her upper half side to side to try and look innocent.

“How courteous of you.” She extended a hand and he took it, hoisting up off the floor that he realized was rather dusty. “And with a sword?”

“I’m afraid that is were I’m limited. I’ve never used one. They aren’t as common in Dorne as the rest of Westeros. They get more creative when it comes to weapons there. A knife though…I could do some damage with that.”

Jon unstrapped the one he carried at his hip and he handed one over. “Keep it with you then.”

She took it gracefully, but added, “Jon, do you really think I don’t already have one with me?”

He smiled again. “Where do you keep it?”

“Under my pillow, for now.”

He cocked his head to the right. Smart.

“You’re not what I expected,” he said, meaning for it to be an inner thought.

She was pleased by that, taking it as a compliment, as it was intended. “To be fair, you’re not what I expected either.” She inched closer to inspect him. “Did I hurt you?”

He rubbed just below his chest, finally realizing there was a throbbing tenderness there. “No,” he tried to pass it off as. She knew it was untruthful, so he finally admitted, “Maybe a little.”

Jon hoped there would not be a bruise, but also knew that was nothing but wishful thinking. He had to consider himself lucky there was not any broken ribs, and he even suspected she had not put her full weight behind that move.

“Oberyn always said the best way to defeat an enemy is having the element of surprise.”

Dany took a small step forward and wiped off the some dirt that imprinted on his long sleeved leather jerkin from the kick she delivered to him. With her so close, something prompted him to ask, “Am I an enemy?”

“Not even close,” she whispered back without any hesitation, her eyes connecting with his.

Oh no.

Why he was aroused by that?

“Were you close with him? Oberyn?”

She bit at her lower lip in a way that showed she was trying to keep her emotions bottled up, the news still fresh in her mind. “I guess you could say so. He treated me like another one of his daughters.”

“His letter indicated that.”

“Letter?”

“He may have sent a message to me warning that I ought to make you happy here.”

She laughed lowly. “Sounds like him.”

Something inside his head signaled for him to keep going, to not get her distracted by all the thoughts he knew would flood back to her. He took several paces backwards and ushered her to come his way.

“Alright, attack me again.”

She crossed her arms over her chest, shaking her head with disapproval. “This might be easier if you are the one who comes at me.”

It was a fair enough point.

“I’ll try to be gentle,” she teased, starting to circle him.

It made him flare up inside every time she snuck away from him, easily maneuvering on her feet as they begun. She was small, thin, but agile. A quick thinker. She seemed to know his moves before he made them.

Daenerys was better than he could have imagined. Before he could get to her, she spun, her braid whacking across his neck, causing him to flinch. She caught his hand at the wrist, other hand grasping his throat, thumb pressing in.

He was at her mercy, yet again.

“I hope you’re holding back,” she suggested in a whisper that was almost seductive.

“I wish I was,” he admitted. “Are all the women in Dorne like this?”

She was happy with that, letting go, and Jon stumbled.

“Why? Are you planning on taking a trip and starting a brawl?”

He shook his head immediately. “Dorne would be the last place I’d ever want to start a fight. I don’t think I’d ever end up getting the chance to leave.”

“You’re right. Your body would be tossed into the dunes. I’ve heard it’s not pretty once the sun gets to the body and the flesh starts to rot.”

Jon and Daenerys both found the thought repulsive at the same time. Jon had seen men dead before, but only in the colder weather or the snow. Even left for days, not much happened. The cold preserved the bodies, but in the heat, like the extreme heat of Dorne in the height of summer, that would be an unfortunate sight to witness.

Daenerys sighed. “That pretty face of yours would melt like ice out in the sun. A tragedy it would be.”

Pretty face…so she did like the way he looked.

“What is Dorne like?” he found himself asking as curiosity hit him.

Hot.

“Other than that,” he clarified, even though Jon knew she was just instigating him.

Dany drew in a breath, thinking. “It’s truly a wonderful place unlike any other. The sea is always warm and the constant breeze keeps the air temperate. Not much greenery, but the blood orange orchards were always my favorite. The smell is splendid in the air. Spending an afternoon lying down under the shade of those trees is a perfect day. What does Winterfell look like? I imagine much different.”

He had a perfect memory of Winterfell.

“You would have liked it…well, maybe. It’s no comparison to the southern styles, but it’s grander than here. Surrounded by hills covered in green and trees larger that you could see from the bottom looking up. And the godswood, the heart tree, I wish you could have seen that. There is a heart tree about a mile beyond the Wall, but it does not compare to the one back—”

She finished the sentence that he abruptly cut short of. “Home?”

Home.

It was difficult to think of it that way, knowing what had become of Winterfell and all those lost along the way. “Yes,” he replied softly, humbled by the reminder of what once was.

“It sounds beautiful,” she offered gently, picking up on his sudden mood change. “If only you could take me.”

That was only a dream, but a nice one, nonetheless.

“Well, are you going to teach me how to use one of those?” she asked, glancing over at the sparring swords. “Or are they just going to sit there for decoration?”

Jon took the opportunity when she wasn’t looking, making a move. As swift as he could be, he grabbed ahold of Dany, turned her so her back was against him, locked in his arms. She had no option but to have her toes to the ground, Jon lifting her to it made it more difficult to get away.  She could have wiggled her way free (or smacked his face with the back of her head), Jon knew that, but she chose not to. Daenerys squirmed for just a moment until she was laughing. He grinned wide in response—it was something that was coming to him so naturally around her.

“Sneaky,” she muttered, noting her approval.

Jon looked over at the swords. “I have a feeling you won’t need much teaching,” he mumbled into her ear.

“I don’t know about that.”

Jon released her, Daenerys turning around to face him.

“I haven’t mentioned it, but I’ve never seen a man with hair quite like you.”

It was out of the blue that she had mentioned that, but Daenerys was like that, thoughts popping into her head and proceeding to say them out loud. He knew that was also a part of growing up in Dorne where they freely spoke about whatever it was they wanted.

She let a finger brush a curl, pulled at it, and let it bounce back into place. He allowed a smirk, letting his head fall to the side to look at her.

Dany was close enough that he reached out and put his thumb and index finger on her braid that was over her shoulder, running his fingers down to the tip in an admiring way. “Well, you’re one to talk.”

She touched his cheek and suddenly he felt himself leaning against her palm, his eyes drifting towards closing before he caught himself.

She stepped into his space, nearly against his body and her lips connected with his.

It was quick, sweet.

He remembered how Ygritte had kissed Jon in front of Mance to prove that he was her lover—a wish of hers that had never come into fruition, not for a lack of trying on her part through many taunts and threats. She had been rough and Jon didn’t like it all that much.

Daenerys was much different.

Tender.

Warm.

Her lips were soft, moisturized, very inviting. It made him wonder both why it had not happened sooner and why he wanted it so badly in the first place.

Why he released her was an even bigger question.

His face lingered there, wanting more, hands at his side itching to grab her and pull her close again. Still, he stepped back, realigning his thoughts with his duty.

“I can’t,” he whispered. “I want…but I can’t.”

Chapter Text

Jon

It was early morning and Jon was already dressed and back in his study looking through four letters that had arrived from Northern lords about their inability to spare men or supplies.

As expected.

Jon had been hopeful but hope never got him anywhere, so he did not know why he had thought anything different that time around. Out of stress, his head was resting backwards in his chair, eyes staring up at the ceiling, a wooden beam across the middle that had visible strings of dust. He had to think of some way to solve the problem.

When someone cleared their throat, Jon perked up. Tyrion was standing in the doorway to the office, dressed for the weather once again.

“Are you hung over?” Tyrion cracked a joke.

The more likely scenario was, “Are you?”

Tyrion sighed and shook his head in a regretful way. “Sadly, no. I’m as sober as I’ve ever been. You should really invest in better ale for this place.”

“I’m happy to hear we could aid in your sobriety,” Jon sparred back. “I doubt it will last very long.”

Tyrion appreciated the dry humor. “Ah, yes. You are correct on that front. You see, this is where we say goodbye,” Tyrion announced.

“Is it? So soon?”

The weather had not cleared up entirely yet, as it still snowed. The winds had died down significantly, the storm starting to lift.

“I think we both know that someone, somewhere could have noticed me heading here. I don’t want to stick around too long and one of my sister’s assassins come looking.” He placed a hand onto the stone wall part of the doorway, lowering his head and voice to aid in making his point. “I don’t think you want to have to clean up a dead dwarf. Seems like it might be some sort of bad luck.”

“Well, I wish you a safe travel,” Jon said honestly, “wherever it is that you might be headed.”

“And I thank you for that. You might be the only person in the world who would truly mean that about me. It’s interesting. In the small amount of time that I’ve been here, I have spent a lot of time thinking—”

“Talking too,” Jon added.

“Yes, that as well,” he smirked. “Back to what I was saying, I’ve been thinking and it seems as though I have stumbled upon a realization, an epiphany, if you will.” He stepped forward, mulling over it, a strange look on his face. “A lot will be happening down in King’s Landing, even now as I speak I imagine there is great upheaval. But here, well, I think you might just save the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow, even as the world falls apart around us.”

They were nice words that came from a man that was always laced with sarcasm.

“This is the epiphany you’ve had?” Jon doubted.

“No. The epiphany is that I can’t quite shake the feeling that you were meant for something more.” He looked back at the door, even though no one was there. “She’s good for you. The two of you together will accomplish a lot, no doubt.”

“Daenerys,” he said her name out loud.

“Don’t spoil it,” Tyrion jokingly warned him. He turned towards the exit. “Until the next time, Lord Commander.”

“Until the next time,” he agreed.

There was not anything more that needed to be said.

Jon watched as the southern gates opened and Tyrion rode through them, a blanket over the horse and plenty of food and water to last both until he got to a ship that must be waiting for him.

Essos.

What would Tyrion even do there? He imagined that a man so accustomed to the Lannister lifestyle would have a hard time adjusting to anything that varied greatly from it. Better to have his head though, and maybe that was Tyrion’s thought process.

Jon’s hand fell into his pocket, pulling out the ring that had belonged to Dany’s mother. Simple, yet elegant. He didn’t trust to leave it anywhere but on his person. Where it really belonged was on Dany’s finger and the thought of ending up losing it would rack him with guilt.

He headed back inside to find her to give it to her. The timing might be off, but what better time would come?

“Oh!” she exclaimed, nearly running into Jon as the door to King’s Tower swung open. “There you are. Is this a bad time?”

His brows furrowed. Could she hear his thoughts now?

“No, not at all, was just coming to find you.”

She smiled at him. “You were?”

It made him feel giddy inside even though he tried to push past that feeling. He had been awake all night, yet again, in bed staring over at a dying fire as he thought about kissing Daenerys and his response the other day.

It had happened.

He had allowed it to happen.

The thought of it happening again was what was presently eating away at him, leaving him sleep deprived and stressed. The fact that he had left it all in a bad, unexplained way made it worse on him. It also didn’t help that Dany stood there before him wrapped up in a deep emerald dress where the top had a see-through mesh material that showed the skin below, necessary parts covered by the flower detailing.   

She was tormenting him on purpose.

“Jon?”

He had been staring and was caught. Jon snapped out of it, pretending like it had not occurred. “Will you come with me?”

She nodded but then caught sight of the gates shutting. “Is he gone?”

“Tyrion is, yes.”

“Where is he headed to?”

“Essos, apparently. He didn’t say specifically where.”

“Why not?”

One side of Jon’s mouth pulled into a smile. “He said no one could know and that is why he couldn’t speak of it with me because he was under the impression that I would surely tell you.”

“And you would have?”

“Probably.”

She gave a small giggle, making eyes at him that made Jon fully smile in response. He bashfully averted his eyes to the side, tugging at his bottom lip with his teeth. Trying to move on from the other night was going to be harder than expected.

“Follow me.”

They walked along the walkway and down a set of stairs. There were two steps missing at the bottom, wood that had rotted away years ago. Jon leaped to the ground, landing in the snow that was solid. Jon reached back up for Daenerys, not sure if her small body would be able to absurd the shock of the drop.

She reached out for him, hands planted on his shoulders as he grabbed her waist to bring her down to him. Their breath intermingled out there in the cold upon exhale. His hands did not let go and he found himself in the same position of when he first kissed her. She was looking up at him, hair swaying to the side, waiting to see if he would do it again, testing him.

He wanted to.

She wanted him to.

Out there in the public, Jon’s eyes pulled away from hers and scoured the area. No one was in sight, but he still let go of Daenerys. It was difficult to, but he managed.

Jon cleared his throat. “This way,” he instructed in a deep voice.

There was nowhere in particular that he was going, just needed a place where they could be alone. The library was the best option, and when they arrived, Maester Aemon was not found. Sam had told him that he was not feeling as well, that perhaps the storm had given him a cold, another reason he stated as to why Sam should become a Maester. They were unsure of how long Aemon would be with them.

“I’ve got a few things I need to tell you.” Jon sat down at a long bench that accompanied the table. He started off with the important information. “In the coming weeks, I’m going to be leaving. I told you about the White Walkers, the Night King, the Army of the Dead. What I haven’t mentioned is that Wildlings attacked the Wall not too long ago,” he started off. “One, Tormund, who I travelled with when I was captive, is here in the cells still. I plan to have him take me to the other Wildlings to convince them too come back with me.”

Daenerys let her eyes widen with worry. She approached quickly. “Why would you do that? If he is a prisoner, he could just pretend to be on your side, kill you, and then go back to the Wildlings.” She made a disturbed face. “No! You can’t.”

It was not the reaction that he was anticipating, her speech filled with unease.

“You haven’t seen them,” Jon mumbled calmly.

“I don’t think I need to in order to understand you’re putting yourself in too much danger.” Daenerys huffed. “You’re going to leave me here?” she whispered, brows turned inward.

You’re going to leave me here?

It was like a stab to the gut. She really knew how to make him feel terrible.

“Listen,” he started.

Daenerys was not having it. She let out a shallow sigh and walked back towards the door.

“Dany,” he called after her.

She stopped short.

“I’ll come back,” he told her. “I’ll come back.”

“And what happens to me if you don’t?” She turned around and folded her arms over her chest, challenging him. “What do I do then? Have you thought of that? Send someone else.”

“It has to be me.”

She rolled her eyes, not believing him. “No.”

“Daenerys—”

No,” she emphasized once more.

Jon was a bit dumbstruck. Was she really trying to command him not to go?

“Um,” he started, gathering his thoughts together.

Daenerys stared at him blankly. “Don’t make me repeat myself.”

Jon didn’t know where to go from there at first, but decided that he had to put his foot down on the issue. She didn’t understand the whole of what was happening out beyond the Wall. He took a softer tone. “I understand the concern, but I trust Tormund. And I can’t let the other Wildlings become part of the army for the Night King. Do you want that?”

She paused for effect. “No.”

“You know this needs to be done.”

“I’ve been reading about the Long Night,” she started. “All the books that have been here in this library. It talks about what happened, all the monsters that lurked about. I know what is out there, but I—I don’t want you to be another unnecessary casualty.”

“All those Wildlings will be an unnecessary casualty if we don’t save them. Women, children, men, all innocent.”

It pulled at her heartstrings and Daenerys relented. “You’re right.” She paused, sitting down at a bench across from him. “When you leave, if this Tormund is willing to take you, how long would you be gone?”

“There’s no way to estimate that with any sort of precision. A while, I’d say.”

“Can I help?”

“What do you mean?”

“Can I come with you?”

Jon half-laughed. “Are you serious?”

She did not like that he laughed at her inquiry. “Yes,” she defended, irritated he would question her. “I can handle it, you know I can.”

“You’re safer here.”

She rolled her eyes again, unconvinced. “Sure.”

Jon wished there was a way that he could play back all his memories to her so she would be able to see for herself. Hearing and reading about it was one thing, actually seeing everything, every story that had come to life out beyond the Wall, that was another story altogether. Daenerys might think that she understood, but she did not. Jon did.

“I mean it. Out there so much can happen unexpectedly. A bad storm that buries us, a Wildling attack, dead men coming up from the ice…here the Wall provides you protection. The other side is dangerous in more ways than you can imagine.”

She was not going to give up. “Will you at least think about it,” she requested, adamant. “You told me that I can voice my opinions, did you not? Well, in my opinion, I know I can handle whatever is out there. Take me. I’d rather be out there with you than in here alone.”

Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.

Jon did not want to put her in harm’s way, but she was right—he could at least consider the possibility of keeping her at his side.

“I’ll talk to Tormund first,” he said cautiously, not promising anything. “And go from there.”

It was good enough for her. “Fine.” Dany remained thoughtful for a beat before questioning, “Can I meet this Wildling you have locked up here? This person you trust even though he attacked the Wall and Castle Black.”

Jon clasped his hands together on top of the table, ignoring all the scrolls that were out that most likely Sam had left behind. “Are you worried about my judgement of character?”

Then, there was a smile, a sly one that was alluring. Her lips barely moved as she replied, “Yes.”

“You can meet him then.”

“And I want to hear this story of what happened when you were beyond the Wall. You’ve haven’t spoken of it yet. Do you not want me to know?”

He shrugged his shoulders, his cloak feeling heavy. He was reminded of having to kill Qhorin and all else that had happened.

“It’s a long story, that’s all.”

“Long story?” She looked around the room, her hands motioning. “Have you got something else to do right now?”

“Actually, yes.”

Jon did not know how to go about giving Daenerys her mother’s ring. He had never given anything to a girl before, half the time always hanging back as Robb had charmed his way through many interactions. He would never be as smooth as Robb had been, but he try to not fumble his way through giving something that held such a significance over to Daenerys.

“This.” He pulled the ring back out. “This belonged to your mother.”

Daenerys rose up and stepped in front of him as Jon also got up, looking at the ring. She lifted her hand up and he placed it in her palm. She gaped at it, a finger delicately dusting over the metal. Daenerys then looked at Jon like he was the most marvelous thing in the world.

 “How did you get this?” she asked, breathless.

“Tyrion brought it with him,” he admitted. “Said you ought to have it.”

Daenerys curled her fingers inward and let her closed fist with the ring inside fall against her heart. “Thank you.”

“It’s not me you should thank,” he admitted. “I had no part in bringing it here.”

She was not listening to him at all. Daenerys unraveled her fingers to look at the ring once more in a way that showed she almost did not believe that it was there in her palm. “Will you…?”

He faltered for a moment before he realized what she was asking. Jon took the ring from her palm and she turned her hand over, fingers spread. It was a surprisingly intimate moment as he slid the ring onto her finger, a place where he knew it would never come off of. They both lingered there, looking down at her ring, Jon’s hand still holding onto hers.

He noticed her warmth again, her soft flesh radiating against his, keeping his own exposed skin from feeling cold.

Jon wanted to much more, to feel her body up against his, flushed together. He felt an intense stirring inside his body when he wondered what she would do if he were to push her into the corner, tucked away in darkness and kiss her until both their lips hurt.

The thought only up churned up more ideas.

Jon released a breath that came out in a shaky manner. He never thought of himself as weak unless it came to Daenerys. His body was betraying his mind in too many ways.

“Are we going to talk about it?” she whispered, lips staying parted.

The kiss.

Like an idiot, he asked, “About what?”

“You know what.”

His own voice got stuck in his throat as she stepped closer. His mind went wild with possibilities, his hands at his side twitching, aching to reach out for her.

The feelings, everything that came over him so suddenly spooked him, Jon stepping backwards. “I have to go,” he excused himself.

That night, on a thin stump, a large candle was burning, the wax melting down the middle like a cascading waterfall right onto the desk where it cooled and solidified. He sat there in the dim lit study reading more letters returning to Castle Black, all refusals from more Northern lords in aiding the Night’s Watch. Jon massaged his eyelids, tired.

What a day.

It was quiet, the fire crackling as it burned down low. He felt like just leaving everything there on the desk and coming back the next morning, but he knew he would not be able to fall asleep anyways, so what was the point? There was too much to think about—the Night’s Watch, Daenerys, going back beyond the Wall…

Just as Jon put two fingers on his right temple, the door opened, not squeaking that time because the hinges had been oiled. He expected it might have been Sam, but it was not.

“Jon?” Daenerys’ voice appeared before she did.  “Are you busy?”

“No, come in.”

She slipped in through the door and shut it behind her. Daenerys was wearing a different dress than earlier, the one she wore at the moment being deep red with long sleeves, just one layer of material, nothing extravagant. Something she would only wear indoors before it was time to sleep.

If Jon had tried to stop his eyes from glazing over her, they might have popped out of the sockets in revolt.

With an apology for walking away earlier that day lingering on his tongue, Jon was realizing that saying he was sorry might be something that was going to happen a lot due to him retreating. Daenerys did not look to be mad at him though, which made him hopeful she had not come there to lecture him about his improper actions.

“I’m sorry about earlier. I was rude. It won’t happen again.”

“You’re forgiven,” she replied instantaneously. “Why did you leave?”

You know why.

“There’s a lot going on in my head,” he admitted.

“And I’m an added complication?”

That sounded like a dangerous question to answer so he worked around it as best he could. “I wouldn’t put it that way.”

Dany giggled, the sound deep in her throat. She put her long braid over her shoulder, pulling at the woven pieces, distracted. Ghost, who was over in front of the fireplace like he usually was, perked up at the sound of her laugh. Jon caught sight of how his red eyes scanned the room, saw Jon looking back, and laid his head back down. Ghost knew he was to be good around Daenerys.

She lingered, still messing with her hair until she glanced over at Ghost and crossed the room to him. Jon only watched as she kneeled down without hesitance. Ghost picked up his head slightly as she let her fingers disappear into his fur, slowly massaging behind the ears. His eyes started to drift closed again out of the contact.

Jon had a moment where he wished that he could watch her there with Ghost for the rest of his life—it was so calming there in the darkly lit room with the candles and fireplace going, the castle quiet enough to hear any mice that might be running about.

“He likes you,” Jon deduced out loud.

“Do you think he would if you didn’t?” she questioned, head brought up to look at Jon.

He held his breath for a few seconds before he let it out through his nose. "Why wouldn’t I like you?”

Daenerys shrugged. “Because of my family. I’m the Mad King’s daughter. Plenty people don’t like me for that alone.”

“Plenty people are idiots.” Jon thought he would be included in that group time and again, especially considering how he kept falling into the situations with Daenerys where he up and left her. “ Besides, I don’t have any room to judge. I’m the Bastard of Winterfell.”

“The Mad King’s daughter and the Bastard of Winterfell. A perfect match,” she whispered, smiling. “Wouldn’t you say so?”

Ghost made a noise that sounded like he was agreeing.

Jon smirked back, only briefly. “I imagine that is exactly what the Small Council thought when coming to the realization you should come here.”

“Ah, the Small Council,” she sighed. “Things must be rather chaotic down there right about now.”

They both took a moment to appreciate that.

“It makes me wonder what is happening in Dorne,” she said, finally speaking about it. “Ellaria Sand must be devastated…and Oberyn’s daughters. I feel guilty for not being there, for being so far away and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Jon nodded, replying, “I know that feeling all too well.”

“Does it get easier?” she questioned. Her eyes narrowed because she was trying to keep back her emotions. “Do you ever feel…?”

She searched for a word, but Jon answered before she could think of one.

“It doesn’t go away. You just learn to pack it up, stow it inside and keep living. It’s all you can do or it will eat away at your soul.”

She took that in, looking like she had anticipated that type of response. From her knees, she rolled to the side to sit, her back nearing the open flames. She looked unbothered by it, but Jon sat up.

“You’re a bit close,” he mentioned, somewhat alarmed.

Her brows pulled together, not following. “What?”

The image of the end of her braid catching on fire flashed in front of him. “To the fire,” he clarified, pointing, then urging her to move away with his hand.

Daenerys twisted and looked backwards. “Oh.”

She shifted away to please his request. “Better?”

He relaxed again, internally questioning how she did not feel the extreme heat coming off the flames when that close. Dragon blood, he reminded himself. It would probably be what she would say if he asked anyways.

“Were you in the middle of something before I came in?”

Jon found his fingers massaging his temples again. “Not much of anything.”

Daenerys took in his state, eyeing the scrolls that had rolled back up, scattered about, and inquired, “What are those?”

His eyes dropped back down to rolled up scrolls, some crinkled up. He mostly just wanted to toss them all into the fire and forget. “Letters to let me know we are entirely on our own up here,” he told her. “It seems as though without my father alive, no one wants to aid the Night’s Watch.”

Daenerys tossed her braid back over her shoulder and got up off the floor, Ghost noting her absence. She approached silently, making him notice she wore no shoes, just her bare feet against the floor. She picked up a scroll and read through it before letting the paper fall back down onto the wood. She moved her mouth from side to side as she thought.

“Would it help if I wrote? Perhaps they would be more generous with a woman asking.”

Jon stiffly shook his head. “I don’t think any Northern Lord would be keen on a Targaryen asking for help, to be completely honest with you.”

Her fingertips settled onto the desk at the edge. “Why not ask others than those in the North? There is plenty of men and money elsewhere.”

Jon sat back in his chair, sinking downwards, taking advantage of the armrests on either side of him. “I think I’d get the same response.”

“You never mentioned what it would take. How many more men, how much money?”

“Didn’t want you to worry,” he told her. “It’s not something you should have to be concerned about.”

Daenerys, of course, was persistent. “How much?”

He dreaded that question.

“A lot, to say the least.”

“A lot,” she repeated. Daenerys parted from her place and walked around the side of the desk. He watched every sway of her dress as she came near to him, the material more sheer as the candlelight hit it. When she stopped right at his side, she said, “There’s no hiding that that Castle Black is falling apart…”

“Thanks,” he half-sighed, half-laughed.

“I’m serious, Jon.”

“I’ll think of something,” he told her, trying to ease both of their minds.

Jon abruptly got up and started to move the scrolls all together to give back to Sam when he would arrive in the morning. It wasn’t her problem to deal with, it was Jon’s. He was the Lord Commander and problems like that fell on his shoulders. Without any support, it was going to be tricky. Optimism was not usually a friend to Jon, so his immediate thoughts were that he wasn’t sure if he was creative enough to think up a solution.

Daenerys touched his arm to get him to stop moving altogether. Jon twisted his head down and glanced at her manicured hand that rested again the leather that covered his biceps, then to her eyes. For a beat there, they just looked at each other. He could not figure out what it was in her the violet orbs that stared back that made him feel stable, not even a bit nervous.

“Jon,” she whispered, “the extra men you might not be able to get, but…” Daenerys grabbed his hands and flipped them over to form a cup, letting a red velvet pouch empty out, filling his palms with rattling coins. “Will it help, at least somewhat?”

He stared down in wonder. All gold coins. “Where did you get this?”

“It was given to me before I left.” She shrugged a shoulder. “I don’t know why.”

He smirked. “In case you wanted to run away?”

She laughed, filling the hollow room—and maybe even his soul—with it. “Where would I run to? There is nowhere else but here. You didn’t answer my question again, will it help?”

Jon looked at the coins, bewildered, filtering them around in his palms. “I can’t take this, Dany.”

“Jon,” she warned.

“I’m being serious,” he argued softly. “It belongs to you.”

“Exactly. And now I’m passing it on for a greater cause. It will help, won’t it?”

“Yes,” he sighed, “Tremendously. But—”

She closed his hands around the coins. “Good, it’s yours then, to do whatever you need to do with it. For whatever supplies is needed. I have a bit more, but it might be wise to hang onto it for a while.”

Jon let the coins funnel back into the pouch for safe keeping, setting it on the desk. “Thank you. I just want to be clear, you don’t need to—”

“I want to,” she interrupted. Her voice became quieter. “I want to help you.”

There was something shifting inside of Jon to the point that he felt it, almost like lightening had struck him and the after effects were rippling across his body at a high pace. There was this uncontrolled, wild part of him that surfaced, overtaking the rational side of himself. Both of Jon’s hands reached out, taking her face in his palms as he stepped forward, dipping down just enough to press his lips against hers.

The wolf side of him took over completely when her fingers grabbed at his jerkin at his chest. Even something that sound like a low growl came out of his mouth.

Everything escalated.

Jon kissed her like he was going to devour her whole face. He might have been doing the whole kissing part wrong, but all he knew was they she was kissing him back and it felt like all his pent up wanting and desiring was being expressed all at once.

His hands developed their own mind and slid off from her face and down to her lower back, pressing her into him.

Gods.

He felt the heat coming off of her, seeping into him. It was as if he had been cold for years straight and was finally being warmed up, Daenerys thawing him out.

“Jon,” she whispered out his name.

She said it and a trigger went off in him. Jon lifted her up, Daenerys’s toes towed across the ground as he moved her. The desk shifted backward, dragging loudly on the stone floor in protest as he pushed into her it.

There was a part of his mind telling him that she was his, that he should just give in and have her. Why not? That was what was mainly passing through his mind—only enhanced by the way she grabbed at him and kissed him back. They both wanted more. And of course there was an abundance of reasons why not to—his vows, his honor, her honor, the circumstances, being there in the study and not a more comfortable place—but he could not think up a single one of them in that moment when her warm body was pressed up against him and he was forcing his tongue into her mouth.

Seven Hells.

Why did she do this to him?

Jon’s hands were on her waist, pulling her closer, if possible.

No control.

No thoughts.

A shudder ran through him from the way she grabbed at the material of his leather jerkin up near his neck, wanting more of him, all of him.

With a small knock at the door, and Jon pulled—leaped—away like a startled animal, inhaling sharply. He turned his back, sleeve wiping over his mouth to rid of any evidence—not that it helped much because he was hard as could be in his breeches.

Olly entered like he usually would. “Lord Comman—” He stopped short as he caught sight of Daenerys standing there and Jon with his back turned. “Oh. I’m sorry to have interrupted. I can come back.”

“No,” Daenerys stopped him from exiting with hast. “I was just leaving.”

Jon almost told her not to leave, but was reminded about all his duties because of Olly. With the distraction of Daenerys leaving and Olly waiting for her to go, Jon quickly took a seat to hide his lower half.

“Yes, Olly?”

“I’m sorry,” Olly apologized again, obviously feeling bad. “I should have waited to be called in.”

“Don’t trouble yourself about it,” Jon responded, trying to erase the memory of it. “What is it?”

“The Wildling keeps demanding to see you,” he replied, tense.

Tormund had been silent the whole time he was there. It wasn’t a bad thing that he had found his voice again.

“I’ll address it in the coming days.”

He nodded. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No. Thank you.”

Olly turned his head back the way Dany had gone. “Is there anything I can do for the Lady Commander?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Goodnight, then.”

He was already out the door when Jon mumbled his own goodnight.

Jon was alone again, apart from Ghost, who was staring at Jon. “What?” he asked him, almost sounding like he was being defensive. Ghost had witnessed the whole…interaction between Jon and Daenerys. “Don’t judge me,” he told his direwolf.

Ghost then closed his eyes. Jon sank back into the chair, wondering if it had the capacity to swallow him forever, and his head went to his hands. When he pulled back away, he looked down at those hands of his. Hands that were dirty, physically, and perhaps even forever stained with his bastardhood. They were hands that didn’t deserve to be on Dany’s body, yet he had no restraint.

Vows.

Vows.

Vows.

It was like a chant in his head, but another voice was there too. He could also hear Sam’s voice repeating back to him that celibacy really was never a vow.

Tempting.

Too tempting.

It was too paradoxical. He was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and could not stop thinking about a woman.

Chapter Text

Daenerys

 

The wind had died down enough for Gilly to be able to bare the chill for an extended time. Even for a girl brought up beyond the Wall, she was not immune to the weather. On that particular day, with the clouds broken up slightly. Daenerys and Gilly planned for her son to go enjoy the snow.

Might as well. They had it in abundance.

The thought had crossed her—did kids play in the snow? Kids in Dorne played in the dunes, so she figured they must do something similar in the North, only with what they had available in the landscape.

Daenerys dusted off part of the wooden railing in front of her, watching the flakes fall below. Snow was strange. Pretty, but strange.

As she departed from her spot, a boy she never met before, nor even recognized, stopped short in front of her, dropping his armful of wood. His eyes went wide when he saw Daenerys.

“Sorry,” he muttered, bending down to retrieve all the wood pieces. He acted quickly in order to move around her. “So sorry, Lady…Snow.”

He had said it like he had questioned that last part, confused by how to address her. The words had gotten trapped in his throat. It was a strange encounter, but Dany didn’t think twice about it. She kept walking to go find Gilly.

Jon

It was mid-morning when he was crossing over from the Wall back to King’s Tower. There was still no sign of anything out beyond the Wall, no White Walkers, no Wildings, nothing. It was quiet, which would have been a relief had Jon not known better.

There was nothing but an eerie calm.

Calm before everything turned into chaos.

He was only halfway through the courtyard when a ball of snow impacted with his shoulder, covering his cloak. When he turned around, he expected he might see Olly there, only to find Daenerys at the top of the railing looking down at him, arm still retracting.

The guilty culprit.

Jon shook off the snow and put up his hand to block out the sliver of sun poking through the clouds from his eyes, the light bouncing off the snow. Bending to retrieve her glove that had fallen when she had formed the snow, Dany’s dress fell loose around the chest in the middle, revealing a good bit of skin from his position down below.

He stared, obviously.

To Dany, it had not gone unnoticed either. She was acutely aware of his eyes on her. It made the blood rush to his cheeks, which was most likely noticeable, even from the distance. It made him wonder if she had done it on purpose or if he was being a paranoid fool.

Off the railing, Dany collected more snow into a ball and held it with both hands, one hand on top, one hand cradling the bottom.

“You have an unfair vantage point,” he tried to point out.

“Exactly,” she smiled.

Jon huffed. Out there in the open, there was nowhere to hide. The best he could do was bring his cloak up so that the snow didn’t hit him in the face. Upon the impact, he dropped the cloak, considering retaliation, but ultimately found it unwise.

“I surrender.”

“Does the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch really give up that easily?”

Jon surprised himself by saying in an almost flirtation manner, “To his Lady Commander he does.”

Daenerys pulled her cloak hood off her head and found her way down the stairs and into the courtyard where snow had been shoveled away, creating a path for her. She looked happy. All Jon could think about was how he would ruin it next.

“We were building castles in the snow.” She motioned to the side. “Gilly wanted to know what a castle other than this one looked like.”

“I can see that.” Jon looked over at the crafted castle. “It kind of looks like Winterfell.”

“Does it?”

“Yes.”

There was a silence that followed that finally prompted Jon into what he really wanted to talk about. He could not put it off any longer or it would never get said.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized.

She looked confused. “For what?”

He felt embarrassed to have to say it. “For last night,” he said in a low voice. “I feel like I took advantage. I shouldn’t have done what I did.”

She gave him a wild look. “You didn’t take advantage.” She paused. “Don’t overthink it,” she then said, examining him.

He looked down at his hands. “It shouldn’t have happened.”

“You wanted it to happen. You wanted to do more than just kiss me.”

Jon stood there, searching for a reply to such a truth.

Dany giggled at his lack of response. “You didn’t do anything wrong.” She lowered her voice. Her lips pressed together before she continued. “I could feel the way you touched me, the way you pressed against me. This seems like the perfect time to mention that those vows of yours seem more fluid that you think they are.”

Jon released a sigh when he recognized what she meant. “You sound like Sam.”

“Ah, yes, Sam. He is with Gilly, isn’t he? You must know. She told me about all them.”

“Sam isn’t the Lord Commander,” he pointed out, whispering, serious.

She was frustrated by that response. “Fine. If you don’t want me—”

“You know that’s not the case.”

She liked that he reaffirmed that fact. “You are right about that. I do know.” She looked him up and down. “That part was easy to tell last night.”

He gave her a look that showed his embarrassment over that. “Daenerys…”

Before he could continue, Gilly’s son came running up beside Daenerys, nearly tumbling down into the snow before he grabbed onto the cloak she wore for stability. “We’ll talk about this later,” she whispered to him. “I’ll come to your study.”

Jon watched as she grabbed the boy’s hand and walked him back over to Gilly, who was silently watching from afar. They all began to play in the snow some more. It awakened a small part of Jon that he had tucked away, the idea of a future, having a son.

He would never father a bastard, that he was certain of, so he put the idea back in its place—far away where it would not resurface easily.

It was some time later when Daenerys arrived back to the study. He had been distracted the whole time waiting for her, even if he was half buried in all that needed to get done. She still found a way into his head.

She slipped through the door naturally at that point, dusting off any stray flakes attached to her hair. “I had an interesting start to the morning. I ran into a boy who called me Lady Snow,” Daenerys recalled as she shut the door behind her.

Jon snorted from his desk. “I hope you corrected him.”

“I didn’t.”

Lady Snow. It made his stomach twist.

“Why not?”

She looked to be unbothered by it. “It seems I have many names these days.”

“Lady Snow,” he repeated, pondering the words. Jon’s jaw tensed. “It’s an insult.”

She retracted. “He didn’t mean it that way. He was just frazzled.” That didn’t matter. Jon’s demeanor had already visibly shifted, and it caused Daenerys to duck her head down. “I shouldn’t have mentioned it,” she regretted out loud to Jon.

“No, I’m glad you told me. It’s important. I’ll talk to them all again to make sure they address you properly.”

For a moment there he contemplated why Daenerys had not been offended by what she had been called, but then again, it was Daenerys. Jon was gathering that she was not the type of person to get hung up on something like that. 

“Properly? And how is that?”

“You are the Lady Commander, or Lady Daenerys would suffice also. Not Lady Snow. You’re not a Snow, you’re a Targaryen.”

She tilted her head to the side affectionately. “I’m Daenerys to you. Or Dany.”

Jon rose up out of his seat and walked over to her, the two pairing off by a shut window that still had a bit of a draft seeping through the cracks in the wood. The tension inside his body fizzled away with her so close.

“Not to them,” he firmly asserted.

“You’re right, not to them. Only you have that privilege,” she smirked, about to align the conversation in a different direction. Daenerys looked down, picking up his right hand, her fingers pressing into his palm, tracing over some marks. “Speaking of privilege, your hands are rough for a boy who grew up in a castle. And not just any castle, but Winterfell.”

“We did a lot of training.” Fond memories played back from his youth. “A lot of playing around.”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “A lot of chasing around girls, too?”

His head went from side to side. “Not for me,” he admitted.

“Why not?”

It was hard for Jon to understand why Daenerys did not to put the factors of his life together.

“Girls around the castle are much more interested in boys who aren’t bastards.”

“That’s odd to me. Women in Dorne do not care about status so much. Women in Dorne take what they want. So do the men. There are no excuses as to why not, only reasons as to why you should.”

“Life sounds simple there,” Jon retorted.

Daenerys shrugged. “It should be like that everywhere. Maybe one day it will be.”

“I doubt that,” he openly shot down.

He truly did not see it happening. Westeros was stuck in its ways, especially Lannisters in charge.

“Didn’t chase girls then…so, I guess I can go out on a limb here and say you haven’t much experience. You’ve never touched a girl, have you? Apart from me, of course.”

The conversation was not going where he had planned for it to. It was supposed to be an extension off of his earlier apology, how he had been out of line the previous night. Daenerys was morphing the conversation into something else entirely, something that made Jon’s stomach pull together in a twisted excitement and nervousness—the good kind.

“I don’t see how this has any relevance,” he mumbled.

“Oh, really? I think you do.”

Her fingers were tracing along his palm when she abruptly took the hand and placed in on her breast. “Daenerys,” he tried to plead, but by the time he got her name out she had already removed her hand from his and Jon was in complete control of how his hand squeezed her breast, fingers pressed into the weight.

“Yes?”

He didn’t move, eyes transfixed on his hand cupping her breast over the material of her dress. “Are you seducing me?”

She held back a laugh. “You would be one to ask that out loud.”

“I would?”

She giggled lowly. Daenerys got on her toes and kissed just to the side of his mouth. “Yes. Most people just go with it, not stop and question.”

He bent his head, his cheek caressing hers, eyes falling closed. He allowed his hand to travel down to rest securely on her ribcage as he muttered, “I can’t.”

“You keep saying that but you’re wrong. You can. You want to.” She stepped closer, tilting her head up for him, lips parting. “Kiss me.”

She was impossible to persuade. Jon realized it was because it was her who was the one good at being persuasive, not him. She had him neatly pushed into a corner of desire and he didn’t want to escape, weary of fighting.

Jon pushed her against the wall, caving.

The chiffon of her dress was silky against his palm, the material all gathered up, bunched in his hand as he grasped tightly, hands then wandering. He kissed her like he did the night before, unchoreographed, needing her desperately.

He came to understand the full weight of it all there. Daenerys was everywhere—in every crevasse of his body. He let it happen, wanted it to happen, just like she had said.

She got on her toes, stepping on top of his boots, and Jon went for her neck. He didn’t even know if he was doing it right, but Dany sighed softly, tilting her head so her mouth was right be his ear.

“Jon?”

“Hmm?” he murmured against her skin, distracted.

“I have to go,” she told him.

He pulled away. “What?”

“Gilly is waiting for me,” she smiled, successful in her attempt to make him want her more. She affectionately tugged at the laces up near his neck. “You don’t want her waiting, do you?”

“Is this part of the whole seducing routine?”

Her eyes wandered about. “Perhaps.”

Jon exhaled. He couldn’t be greedy and have her all to himself. “Go on.” As an afterthought, he added, “Have dinner with me tonight. It will be late, well after the others, but—"

“Yes,” she interrupted. “I will.”

Her lips sealed against his one last time before she curtseyed her farewell. “Lord Commander.”

“I thought we weren’t going to do that,” he brought up, cracking a smile. His hand went into the air. “No one is around.”

“I felt like it,” she replied. “The timing was appropriate.”

“Alright then, Lady Commander.”

She shook her head, but he caught the smirk she tried to hide. He thought they might be falling into a game with the whole Lord Commander-Lady Commander formalities. Jon didn’t quite mind it either. Once she left, he sat there at the desk biting the nail of his thumb thinking about her, thinking back to the feeling of his lips on hers.

Resisting was no longer an option.

Daenerys

After supper was served and all had cleared out, Daenerys, Gilly, and her son found themselves in the Common Hall to grab some wood from the pile beside the fireplace. The scent of cooked meat she had not yet dared to ask the origins of still lingered, her plate always left with it to the side, hesitant to put the mysterious looking meat into her stomach. Everyone else seemed to eat it without a second thought, but Daenerys didn’t quite like the look, smell, or the thought that it might make her sick.

She wasn’t picky, just selective. At least, that was what she told herself.

There were large stacks of chopped wood elsewhere, but it was on the other side of the castle, and neither of them felt like walking there in the dark, especially with Gilly’s son, who had somehow lost a shoe.

“He always does this,” Gilly lightly complained, fussing with her son, balancing him in her arms until she set him down on a table bench. “He doesn’t understand there are no shoes here for little boys. I’ll have to make a new one to match.”

Daenerys had never made shoes from scratch before. It seemed to be difficult, but Gilly had a knack for crafting clothes and other outerwear.

“Who taught you how to make shoes?”

“My sisters did. No one in particular. I just watched and eventually then learned. Out there we did not have much so it was better to be as self-sufficient as I could.”

Daenerys looked down to see Gilly’s boy there, his tiny legs hanging over the bench. “What will you name him? Have you thought of it?”

Gilly stilled and examined her boy, just as Dany was. “I will give him the name of Sam. It seems like the right thing to do. If it were not for Sam, both of us might be dead, taken by the Others or the winter. Little Sam will know who saved our lives when he grows older. I will tell him the stories.”

“Little Sam,” Dany mused, smiling at the boy who then smiled back at her. “I like it.”

Gilly went over and picked up a few pieces of wood, setting them down on the table to the left of her son. “I’ve been meaning to tell you…” Her voice changed completely, much more soft and reluctant. “Sam is thinking about leaving to the Citadel. You must have heard of it there. He says it is close to Dorne, where you came from.”

“It is.” Daenerys sat down on the bench, saddened by the news of an upcoming departure. “Why the Citadel?”

“To become a Maester. Sam says there might be some more information about the Long Night and the White Walkers there too.” Gilly turned her head down. “I think I will be going with him. It is safer to stay together.”

Daenerys let her eyes drop too. “Oh.”

“We will return,” she abruptly interjected into the saddened mood. “I’m sorry.”

“There is no need to apologize,” Daenerys disagreed. She got up from the bench and went to collect some wood that she could carry back to her room for the evening. “I can manage on my own until you come back. I will miss you though.”

“I will miss you too. I’ve never had a friend, only sisters. You are my first and only friend.”

They shared a moment of mutual admiration. It was then that Daenerys contemplated about opening up to Gilly about what happened with Jon the previous night when he kissed her in his study in such an assertive manner, how he kissed her again that very morning. She felt things were moving forward with him, in a positive direction, and in a direction she did not think possible upon her arrival.

He wanted her.

“Gilly, if I were to tell you something, would you keep it to yourself?”

“Yes.”

“Keep it even from Sam?”

She nodded. “If that is what you wished.”

“Well,” Daenerys smiled, almost blushing. “It’s about Jon and me…”

The moment was ruined when the far door swung open, interrupting the conversation. In walked three boys all laughing to themselves about something that had been unheard to Gilly and Dany. Little Sam turned his head and peered over the tabletop at the boys who were catching sight of them by the fireplace.

“Well,” one of them said. Daenerys could not see him because he was in back and the other boys were taller, blocking the view of the final boy shutting the door. Dany’s skin prickled. “Looks like we’ve got company.”

“Exactly the kind we like, wouldn’t you say?” another bantered. That one was the tallest, far taller than both Gilly or Dany. In his height, he lacked muscle, but the attitude he was bringing was the most noticeable characteristic. “We came in here to get warm. Are you two going to help with that also?”

A normally timid Gilly spoke up. “You dare speak to her that way?” she asked with force, referring to Daenerys.

Daenerys knew her words were stemming out of fear. Both of the girls were well aware of what was happening.

“Let’s go,” she said quietly.

Gilly scooped up her son. She moved to back up but Daenerys extended her arm to the side to stop her. If she went to run, they would only catch her. Standing their ground was a safer option. Let them come their way, not the other way around.

Dany’s eyes darted about at what she could use if approached. The knife Jon gave her was hooked to her leg underneath her dress, but the cooking pot made from iron looked like it might be easier to get to in a moment’s notice. All she had to do was hit the right spot on the head and they would be out cold…or worse, out for good.

“Aw, she’s scared,” one of them said, acutely watching Gilly.

“I like it when they fight,” sneered another.

Daenerys let her eyes narrow and she started to ponder what Jon would say if she ended up bashing in a head or two of these brothers. Would it really be a loss?

No.

He would just have to understand.

Behind Daenerys, keeping her front toward the three boys, her fingers felt around on a table until the enclosed on a long knife meant for cutting meat. She kept it out of sight, ready.

The tallest boy took a few steps forward. “Come a little closer. We haven’t been able to properly greet you.”

Just then, there was a menacing sound coming from the darkness behind them. Daenerys and Gilly were both startled by the noise, and from the look of horror on the two boys faces, whatever it was approached quickly. Out of the darkness, Ghost came to the side. He snarled, revealing long canine teeth that looked like they could rip through anything he wanted to.

Especially flesh.

Two of the boys stumbled back but the closest one did not have a chance. Ghost leaned back into his hind legs before he launched himself on top of the table and at the boy. A whirl of white whizzed in front of them, Gilly and Daenerys standing there as they heard the sound of Ghost growling and ripping. He got the ankles of a second boy to put him down, suffering the same fate as the first. It was all over in a matter of seconds, the third boy having enough time to bolt out the side door he came in, leaving it wide open.

Everything was silent as Daenerys to processed the events.

Ghost slowly moved from the bodies, closer over to Daenerys. When he came into full view, all she saw was white hair dabbed with red, blood dripping off.

“How did you get in here, Ghost?” she asked, like she was expecting a response.

Had he followed them in? Daenerys knew that Ghost was silent, but was it true that he could sneak by like that?

Another door swung open to the side and Gilly gasped, holding her son closer to her chest by the unexpected noise. Ser Allister took one step in, shoving the boy who had run out of there back inside, gripping him by the neck.

“I’m sorry!” he cried, shaking because he was terrified. Ser Allister gripped harder, evoking a yelp of, “Ouch!”

The dead boys in the corner was easily visible to Ser Allister from where he was standing. Ghost having already trotted over to Dany’s side, was also easily visible. He had sat down to her right, picking up a paw to lick off any remaining blood. Gilly continued to hover behind Daenerys.

“Ghost was just protecting us,” Daenerys told Ser Allister calmly, as if none of it had even happened, nor bothered her.

A strong front was always best. She rested her hand down on top of Ghost’s large head, stroking his pristine fur. Her eyes turned back to the dead brothers, blood oozing out onto the floor, running into the cracks like little streams along the stone.

“I can see that,” Ser Allister replied, untroubled. “Are you hurt, Lady Commander?”

It was not quite what she had expected him to say, but replied as if it were. “No, not at all.”

Ser Allister, who she had barely spoken to and did not look to show much of any emotion, was genuinely concerned about her safety. She did not consider it much of a surprise. Daenerys knew that House Thorne fought on the side of the Targaryens during Robert’s Rebellion. He could not remember who had told her those stories, but she clearly remembered that detail about House Thorne.

Always remember your allies, Ellaria once said to her.

It looked like Ser Allister, even after all the years gone by, perhaps still had loyalty left in him.

Ser Allister went over to take a closer look and dragged the boy who had escaped with him, shoving him to the ground and into the pools of blood. “You’ll have this cleaned up by the time I get back,” he threatened. “It’ll be up to the Lord Commander as to what will happen to you next.” He turned back to Daenerys. “I’ll have some men keep an eye on this one. Best you go inform the Lord Commander of this incident.”

Daenerys was not going to stay a moment longer. “Come on, Gilly,” she ushered her.

Gilly grabbed ahold of Dany’s upperarm as they walked out, Ghost trailing behind. They walked over to King’s Tower without a word between them.

Daenerys knocked but did not bother to listen for a response, simply opened the door wide so both could pass through. Jon looked up from his desk and immediately caught sight of the crimson stained around Ghost’s mouth. His back straightened as he sat up from his chair and came around from the desk.

“We are fine,” she started off with. She looked back at Gilly who had her eyes on Dany. “I can’t say the same for everyone involved.”

“What happened?” Jon demanded, his tone suggesting that he already knew.

“We were in the Common Hall getting a few pieces of wood when three of the brothers came in. They weren’t up to any good.” She took a step closer to Jon. “No matter how many warnings you give, there will always be the stray individual here and there who wants to ignore the rules,” she whispered.

Although it was just for a moment, she caught the display of when his Lord Commander side vanished and he was Jon—just a man who had nothing but concern for her as well as furious anger for the others who put her in danger—and she treasured that.

“Gilly, will you excuse us?”

She nodded. “I will wait for you in your chambers.”

With her gone and her footsteps headed up for her room, Daenerys tried to relax, even though an itching sensation still crawled through her. She didn’t want it to get to her, she wanted to pass it off like the Nymeria or Tyene would have done, but she found that she couldn’t. Maybe it was a weakness, she thought, or maybe it was just a survival instinct. Either way, the feeling of complete safety was not with her, even though Ghost had stepped in and even if Dany thought she could have taken at least two boys out without a scratch to herself.

Jon put both hands on her arms. He held her securely. “Are you sure you aren’t hurt?”

“Just a little rattled,” she responded meekly. Her eyes wandered about, hoping that it might stop her from growing any tears. “I could have handled it had Ghost not been there, but even knowing that doesn’t make it any less scary.”

Jon’s hands then cradled her face, a surprising gesture, but one she that she enjoyed. His touch was too calming, and she wanted to stay there like that for a while, but knew she needed to let him know about the remaining boy.

“One is still alive,” she looked up at him. “Ser Allister is making him clean up the bodies of the other two that Ghost got to.”

Jon nodded slowly, face frozen, but she saw in his eyes that his mind was churning. “Aye, I’ll go and meet him.”

She grabbed his hand before he could go. “Will you come back, after?”

“Yes, as soon as I can.” He turned to Ghost. “Stay with her.”

“Jon,” she called before he could leave completely. Dany drew in a breath. She felt silly for what she was about to admit. “I don’t want to sleep alone in my room.” Her eyes drifted to the side, tentatively letting the tips of her fingers rest on the desk behind her. “I’d feel safer with you.”

She was saying what she did because she had learned it best to take precautions when they were available. No one would dare come for her with Jon.

It was difficult, nonetheless. It felt like she was somehow admitting defeat there in Castle Black as one of the only female residents, which she despised, but her basic need for safety was paramount.

When Dany glanced up to gauge his reaction, Jon nodded, obliging with the request she was trying to make without stepping over Jon’s boundaries. “I understand.”

“It’s just when there’s that many or more I—”

“I understand,” he repeated. “I’ll have your personal belongings moved to my chambers,” he clarified.

Chapter Text

Jon

The blood was everywhere. Ghost had ripped into the jugular of both boys, also both stewards. Jon had not much direct contact with them, but knew their faces and the stories of how they ended up at the Wall. The majority of Jon thought they got what they deserved but there was a tiny fraction of himself that was thinking that it was just two less men to help Castle Black.

He hated that he thought that, but there it was.

The whole hall smelled of the coppery scent, still fresh and strong in the air. The final one, the other boy who made a run for it before Ghost got to him, was there with a mop and a sad face. He caught a glimpse of Jon as he walked in the doorway and halted his movements, keeping his head down with shame.

“Don’t stop! This mess won’t clean itself!” barked Ser Allister out of the side of his mouth. He turned. “Lord Commander.”

“Ser Allister.”

He sauntered over to meet him by the door, then looked back over his shoulder. “We should talk outside.”

Back out in the cold and on the walkway, it was dark. Two iron holders bolted into the exterior had icicles running down halfway to the ground, the torch lit, providing a small amount of heat. Below, Jon saw three brothers prepping to take care of the bodies that would need to be burned.

“You’re lucky that animal of yours was there." Ser Allister shook his head with disdain. “She shouldn’t be here.”

He made it sound like it had been Jon’s plan all along for Daenerys to join them at Castle Black and he was in no mood to discuss it with Ser Allister. It was no stretch to think that Ser Allister would always blame Jon for Dany’s presence. Still, he felt the need to respond strongly.

“She is here by royal decree,” Jon mentioned, trying to keep an even tone to his voice to not show his irritation. “You are more than welcome to head south to give your opinions on the matter to the Lannisters, if you truly wish.”

At least, what was left of the Lannisters.

Ser Allister grumbled to himself. “I understand that. She still shouldn’t be here among all these men.”

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Jon replied. “I wish I could. I wish I could send her to Winterfell if my family was there, but I can’t. There’s no where to go. Sending her back to Dorne isn’t an option either. I’m sure you can understand she safer this far North than closer to King’s Landing.”

Ser Allister stewed to himself for a brief minute, the edges of his mouth turning downward. “Safer here? I know it’s out of my place, but is she really safer here? Or are you just saying that so you can keep going to bed with her?”

“She sleeps alone,” Jon told him. “She might have been sent here for me specifically, but I won’t force her to do anything. I’m a brother of the Night’s Watch.”

It felt like a lie right to Ser Allister’s face. Yes, it had been true up until that point—Daenerys had her own room and her own bed and Jon hadn’t bedded her. Ser Allister glanced at Jon and paused, skeptical.

Jon turned to watch as the fire got started below. “You think I’m lying,” Jon gathered, almost sounding like he was disappointed by that.

After a beat, Ser Allister spoke up again. “I wouldn’t take you as a man who would lie,” he allowed. “Not now, at least. Not as the Lord Commander.”

Even though the air still felt stiff between them, their tense conversation fell into common ground.

“She should at least know how to defend herself being here.”

Jon nodded along with that statement. “I agree, but she already does. Growing up in Dorne gave her that benefit. She’ll need to learn with a sword too. Up here, with what’s out there, she will need to know. The sooner, the better. I’m going to work on it with her.”

“Good.”

“Aye.”

“What’s all this?” Edd’s voice asked. He walked up the stairs and towards Jon and Ser Allister. Edd poked his head into the Common Hall and grimaced momentarily. “Your direwolf getting tired of the food here too?”

Jon shook his head at him, as if to say not in front of Ser Allister. He was not one to ever crack a smile at a sarcastic remark.

“I’ll be getting back in there,” Ser Allister announced, walking by Edd. He turned before disappearing into the Hall. “Once this mess is cleaned, you should have the one who survived hung. Let it be a warning to the others.”

One less brother.

But…one less threat to Daenerys.

Jon sighed, hanging his arms over the railing. “I should have known something like this was going to happen.”

From the inside, they were both able to hear the movements and barking of orders about the bodies and cleanup efforts.

Edd approached his side and mirrored his stance. “What exactly was it that happened in there?”

“Daenerys and Gilly were in there.” Jon nodded back towards the door. “Three brothers went in as well.”

Edd’s eyebrows flashed up, understanding. “Ah. I see. Will he be executed, then? I hate to say it, but Ser Allister is right.”

Jon’s jaw tensed up. “Yes, I know.”

“We’re losing men left and right and we aren’t even fighting yet.”

He knew that more than anyone.

“Lord Tywin Lannister wrote in his letter men were supposed to be coming this way along with Daenerys. A few hundred of them, yet no one else has showed.”

“You think he was lying about the men?”

Jon shook his head. “It doesn’t make sense that he would have. Don’t you think so?”

Edd shrugged, uncaring. “Pompous prick like that would probably say anything to make it look like you’re on the same side.”

 Maybe.

Jon wouldn’t put that past him.

“Doesn’t matter, he’s dead as dead can get,” Edd reminded Jon. “We’re up here all alone.”

A reminder that Jon didn’t need—he knew they were on their own.

Jon was about to continue when something in the courtyard caught his eye immediately, inhibiting his speech. All he saw was the red.

Melisandre.

Jon’s eyes connected with hers. It was almost spooky the way she stood, the way that she looked. She appeared different, almost tired and beaten down. Jon knew what it meant, even from that far away. Her resurfacing there at Castle Black meant that she fled after a defeat.

“The fuck is she doing here?” Edd asked, taking notice of the Red Woman.

“Stay here.”

As Jon made his way down to the courtyard, the snow crunched under his boots loudly, his step quick. He didn’t greet her, only watched as she fussed with the red material around her neck until he came before her, waiting for an explanation. Her entire face was sullen and lacking any type of brightness. Her confidence was depleted.

“Stannis?” he asked darkly.

She shook her head, eyes evading his.  

Jon drew in a cold breath and held it in his lungs for a moment, chilling him from the inside to the outside. “Aye.”

Melisandre retrieved a sealed envelope that was hidden under her red dress and cloak. She reached out her arm and Jon took it from her, looking at the Baratheon seal.

“Why would he send you with this?”

“He did not send me anywhere. But after…it is addressed to you, so you deserve to see his last words. Whatever is in there is information he didn’t want anyone else but you to see. Not even I know the contents.”

Jon popped open the seal, not waiting to be in private.

Lord Commander,

I want to reiterate my original proposal now I am upon the eve before I take Winterfell. I need a Warden of the North, or Wardeness of the North, asked we discussed. Someone trustworthy. You understand how important this is. It would make your family proud to have Stark blood ruling in the North. Daenerys Targaryen is more than capable of raising your son or daughter in Winterfell until they come of age.

Think about it. Carefully think about it.

Stannis Baratheon, Rightful Heir to the Iron Throne

There was a pit in his stomach after reading, then reading all the words. Why he felt like he was mourning that idea put forward by Stannis was confusing for Jon. He never once intended to give Dany any children, but had thought of placing her in Winterfell if Stannis successfully took the castle and the North back from the traitorous Boltons. She would have had a nicer life there in Winterfell, even if it meant that Jon would never be able to see her again.

The letter brought back the conversation he had with Stannis before his departure. It was still fresh in his mind. Warden or Wardeness of the North. His child, mothered by Daenerys. It was a dream, something from another life.

That was all it was.

A dream.

Jon briefly thought about showing the letter to Daenerys, to explain the offer that Stannis had proposed, but what was the point? Stannis was dead.

Jon rolled the scroll back up and kept it there in his hands. Without another word, Melisandre walked by Jon and continued into the darkness.

Jon would have to keep a close eye on her. He would be a fool to trust Melisandre, but there was also the thought that she might be an asset come the day the Night King marched upon them. This magic she claimed to have, whatever it might be or wherever it might be coming from, might aid in their attempts to keep the realm safe.

Only time would tell.

Jon was brought back to what she had said about Daenerys before the Red Woman had left with Stannis. Whatever it was she saw in the flames, it made him anxious about what the meeting between the two would be like. Yet another conversation that was fresh in his mind was one with Melisandre. He remembered the words as if they had just been spoken.

The Lord of Light has sent her here for a reason, Jon Snow. It would be wise of you to embrace it. Together, you may accomplish more than you can ever imagine.

Melisandre and Daenerys in the same castle was going to be hard to navigate, especially knowing how Melisandre saw her visions in the flames.

Two dead brothers.

Ser Allister.

Melisandre.

And that was all in one night alone.

Jon returned to King’s Tower for the night after the bodies were burned and nothing but ash and bone remained. A long night it had been. He flung the door to his chambers open without care, irritated at the decision at hand to follow through with the execution of the final brother, only to stop mid-step before slamming the door behind him. Daenerys was curled up in his bed, sleepy, and rose halfway up.

Damn.

His jaw dropped before he quickly shut it. “I didn’t mean to wake you,” he launched into an apology.

Her eyes fluttered to stay open. “It’s no trouble, I was waiting for you. Do you prefer the left or right?”

His brows furrowed. “Left or right of what?”

Daenerys smiled, holding back a laugh. “Of the bed…to sleep on.”

Oh, right.

He hadn’t even thought it through all the way. Part of him thought about just sticking another bed in there for her, to keep the distance, but what was the fucking point of that? Separate beds would not stop magnetic pull between them.

Jon let his hand slick the back of his neck, rubbing the instant tension. “It’s doesn’t matter. Whichever you prefer.”

Jon closed the door, latching it shut for the night. Ghost was at the foot of the bed on the ground stretched out on his side, popping open one eye to watch Jon. He bent down to rustle his fur quickly before getting back up and standing in his place.

Daenerys was still keeping herself up, one hand firmly planted on the bed, body bent at the waist with her legs straight out. Her hair was down completely, no braids, nothing, just soft waves of pale hair.

She rolled her eyes playfully, noticing him not moving. “Are you going to make some excuse as to why you can’t sleep here?”

“No,” he answered.

“Prove it.”

He moved from the foot of the bed over to the side, but not the side that we was supposed to go to. It was the one that Daenerys was closer to. Her deep red, very thin dress meant for sleeping left very little to his imagination, and all he could think about was wanting to rip it off and toss it to the ground to be forgotten about.

He was very much aware that he was staring again as everything was firing off inside of him. The room felt hot suddenly.

“Jon?”

His eyes snapped back to hers. “You could have been hurt tonight,” he blurted out, seeming to have come from out of the blue.

“I wasn’t though.”

“I can’t even control my own brothers,” Jon whispered, “how am I supposed to keep you safe, to fight off the Night King, to—”

“Shhh,” she hushed him. Daenerys got to her knees, moved to the edge of the bed, and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. “Don’t talk like that. Don’t doubt yourself.”

“Recently, it feels like that’s all I’m good for.”

“You’ll figure it all out, Jon. I believe in you…and I’ll be here when you need me.”

Those words meant more to Jon than she would ever be able to understand. To have someone there to emotionally fall into left him with a secure feeling.

“Sometimes I wonder how everything got so messed up that you and I are here at Castle Black.”

Sometimes?”

“All the time,” he corrected himself. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you here.”

“It’s not about deserving anything. We’re here by chance, by destiny, or whatever it might be. It doesn’t matter. I’m here, you’re here, and that’s all we know.”

“The Red Woman thinks you’re here for a reason.”

“The Red Woman?” she asked with a hiccup.

“Aye, Melisandre of Asshai. She’s a red priestess. Before Stannis Baratheon left, she came to my study and told me something along the lines of you are a greater gift that I could ever imagine. I assume she saw a vision in the flames, or something to that effect.”

“Sounds like I got high praise from her,” Daenerys murmured. “I’ve never met a red priestess. What was she like?”

“You’ll find out tomorrow. She arrived back tonight.”

Dany’s mouth opened in surprise. “Here? At Castle Black?”

“Stannis Baratheon is dead,” he announced. “He failed to take Winterfell. She has nowhere else to go.”

“Oh.” Daenerys let her hands go into his hair, spreading out her fingers along his scalp. “Do you want to talk about it? About Winterfell?”

He let his head fall forward to lean on her shoulder. “I don’t want to think of any of it tonight.”

She stroked his hair while he soaked in the comfort—just for a little while. He didn’t want to make it seem like he was a beaten dog looking for a gentle hand to stroke his head—even if that pretty much was what it felt like on the inside.

Against the soft skin of where her shoulder met her neck, Jon murmured, “I never apologized.”

“What would you possibly be apologizing for?”

“For tonight, about what happened.”

Daenerys took a moment, thinking. “Jon, if you apologized for everything that was out of your control, you would lose your voice entirely.”

He pulled his head away, but placed his hands on her waist, thumbs stroking her sides. “But it was partially in my control. This is Castle Black and I am the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. They are my brothers, the people I will walk into battle with, the people who I will live alongside of for the rest of my life and theirs. They follow my command…and obviously break it too.”

Daenerys sighed dramatically. “Oh, Jon. It must be a busy place inside that head of yours.”

“It is,” he agreed. “Most of the time, at least.”

“Most of the time,” she repeated.

“Especially when I’m with you,” he clarified further.

She smiled brightly pulling on him. He looked at her, then in one swift motion with his split-second decision, held onto her waist as he put a knee onto the bed, forcing Dany to fall backwards slowly. Jon pinned her down to the bed with his body.

Daenerys had the backs of her hands on top of the furs, fooling with a few strands of her silver hair that fanned out against the deep brown furs. It made him think about how she always seemed like the brightness, the part that stood out, even when surrounded by nothing but darkness and emptiness. With no words exchanged, Jon bent down and started kissing her neck, tongue licking down to her collarbone.

It was slower that time, not rushed. There was no rush, no one to interrupt, no peering eyes, no brisk air to assault the skin. They were there in his chambers—their chambers—and had the rest of the night, locked away from everything.

It was an intimidating thought as much as it was arousing. Jon pressed his body against Daenerys harder once she allowed for her legs to accommodate him in between, her hands flattening on his lower back, bringing up the material so her palms were on his skin. It felt like he was being wrapped up in warmth, it going all the way down to the bone.

Her hand slipped and rubbed along the part of his breeches where his hard cock was strained. His immediate reaction was to press into her again, a breath releasing as he bit on his lower lip. Jon’s mouth hovered right above hers, unable to focus on what his mouth was doing with her hand sliding up and down overtop of the breeches he still wore. She must have been under the impression that it was going the normal route, but he had other plans—plans where he would not be partaking in his own pleasure.

He pulled her hand away—painstakingly did so—by the wrist and placed it right next to her side. As he planted a hand on her thigh and yanked her dress up, he knew he was taking a risk, not knowing what he was doing and realizing he was going to have to figure it out as he went. Daenerys allowed him to continue, twirling her hair between her fingers, allowing his hands glaze up her thigh, altering into the inner thigh. Jon swallowed his nervousness as he dared further, slipping his fingers up to her sensitive area, feeling around. Her body jerked slightly when he hit a particular spot, in a way he could tell was good.

There.

That was the key.

Jon slid downwards as he kissed her to her stomach on top of the fabric, and he knew he was doing something right when her hands went into his hair, forcefully massaging at his scalp. She wanted him to keep going. It was her way of giving approval, which meant Jon was more confident with his movements.

He moved the hem of the dress up even further. What was happening outside of the room they were in completely shut off, wanting to give Daenerys his full attention. All he wanted was for her to be happy and to feel safe, both ideas he thought impossible to give to her. What woman could ever be happy and safe at a place like Castle Black? It didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try, but it did mean that it felt like he would be chasing after an impossibility.

Dany took him out of the thought when she sighed as his lips connected with her inner thigh, the softness making him drag his lips across the skin. Jon decided to go for it, to dive right in and let everything fall together as he figured it out.

Women were supposedly complicated.

He knew that much.

Jon kept two hands firmly planted on her hips and burrowed his face into her folds, experimenting with tongue pressure and movements. He was surprised by her frequent vocals, soft moans and sighs letting him know that his inexperience was not holding him back. When she started to squirm, he moved his mouth and replaced it with his fingers. He traveled back up her body, pressing himself onto her, and sealed his lips against hers, catching her moan in his mouth as her back arched and body locked around him.

It was entirely obvious that he was hard when pulled away, body begging him for more, feeling the pull for her. He wanted nothing more than to remove his clothes and fuck her until she climaxed again, but withheld, rolling off of her, flopping onto his back.

Jon laid there as Daenerys turned onto her side. “That was unexpected.”

And not so complicated after all.

“Was it good?” he questioned, needing the satisfaction of her clarifying that for him.

She giggled. “Very.” Daenerys squinted her eyes at him. “Are you sure you’ve never done that before?”

“I’m sure,” he smiled. “It’s something I would have remembered.”

“Huh,” she remarked. Daenerys ran her fingers over his upper half, tossing her hair all to one side. She dipped her hand and smoothed it out over his hardness one again. “Are you sure you don’t want me to…?”

He bit his lip.

It was true, the vows didn’t specifically state to be celibate, only to not father any children. It was his way out with temptation right there, being dangled in front of him. He wanted her, and feeling any shame from that was not bubbling up anymore.

Daenerys took his lack of verbal response as a cue to continue. She threw a leg over him, the material of her dress all bunched around her thighs. He decided right then to not say no to whatever she wanted to do to him. Who would ever be able to resist? What sane man would deny her?

Daenerys wiggled her arms, the material falling down over her left shoulder. He enjoyed how more skin was exposed to him. Jon ran a hand up her stomach and to her breast. Dany arched her back upon the contact, and Jon reacted by holding her hips down with more pressure on him.

Please, was on the tip of his tongue.

“Do you like me like this?”

She was teasing him, or seducing him, or whatever it was…and whatever it was, it was working—which came as no surprise to him. All she had to do was look his way and he felt like he might unravel.

“Dany,” he sighed in a way he never had before.

She pushed up his shirt and dragged her hands down his stomach, giving him chills. She bent over him, tips of her hair touching near his ribs. When his hands gripped her waist, she grinded her hips, and Jon thought it might put him into a trance.

Jon sat upwards then, Daenerys rearranging herself. He kissed her, needing her lips on his. When she kept moving her hips back and forth on him, it hit him before he could do anything to prevent it from happening. He was too turned on, too wired and her constant movements drove him over the edge. Jon’s mouth plastered to her shoulder as the warm, wet liquid oozed out into his breeches with a deep groan.

Fuck.

Daenerys pulled away, eyes searching his with an eyebrow lifted. “Did you…?”

He fell backwards onto the bed, his cheeks reddening. His eyes shut tight out of embarrassment. Daenerys giggled, only making it worse.

“It’s not funny,” he tried to defend, covering his face with his hands

“It is,” she argued, moving off of him.

He pulled the fur over his lower half as Dany curled up next to him, smiling widely. “This is horrible.”

“No,” she claimed. She traced the outline of his jaw before she forced his head to the side to look at her. “It’s kind of empowering.”

“To you,” he pointed out. “I just look like an idiot.”

“No,” she refused to accept. “Not an idiot, just a man who has never been with a woman. It’s normal.”

“How do you know so much about—”

She pointed to herself. “Dorne, remember?”

Dorne,” he repeated in an obvious tone. “Do you consider yourself to be Dornish?” he asked.

The question looked to have stumped her. “I…I don’t know. Should I?”

Not even Jon knew the answer to that. “It would be up to you, I guess. I was just wondering.”

“I think you were just trying to distract me from what just happened,” she laughed, throwing back her head.

Jon cringed. “Let’s just both forget that it occurred,” he half laughed, initial embarrassment somewhat fading.

“You’re being ridiculous.” Daenerys pulled the covers up and over her, adjusting herself so her head could lay on the pillow. She motioned for him to join her. “I think this has been my best night here so far.”

Jon rolled his eyes. “Have you already forgotten about the three brothers who nearly attacked Gilly and you?”

“Oh, I guess I had.” She poked him lightly. “You’ve made me forget.”

Jon finally moved so he mirrored Daenerys there in the bed, head on a pillow facing her.

“I’m that good, huh?” he joked.

She returned a grin. “I wouldn’t mind a repeated session.”

Her hand reached out half way between them, resting down on the bed. Jon rested his hand on top of hers, fingers intertwining. It felt right, meant to be, all that stuff that Jon thought was stupid and overdramatic. The kind of thing that he never thought he would feel until that point. Whatever is was that was happening between them, those feelings he was getting that stirred something deep inside of him, Jon knew that fighting it would only make it worse.

No more fighting. He was going to let the chips fall where they would.

He wanted to tell her, wanted to lay everything out on the table, but his words got trapped, all mixed up on how to say them, and before he knew it, Daenerys had her eyes fluttering closed.

“I’m very tired. This was surely an eventful evening,” she murmured. “Can we sleep now?”

“I have to change first.” He said, eyes motioning to his lower region. “Then I’ll blow out the candles.”

Jon got up but Daenerys did not let go of his hand. He turned back and she smiled before releasing. It was a gesture that let him know, really let him know, that she wanted to be there with him—that she wanted him there with her.

She watched as Jon blew out a couple of candles in the corner, leaving only the ones hooked into the holders by the bed. He crossed to the outcove with a shelf carved into the stone where he kept a pile of clothes all folded. For some time he would not wear anything at all to bed, but given that Dany was still clothed, he figured it would be inappropriate.

When he looked back over his shoulder, her eyes were shut so he stripped down quickly and cleaned himself up from the stickiness. The old cotton breeches that hung loose he pulled up over his legs as a replacement would be comfortable enough to sleep in.

Jon blew out the candles near Daenerys and crossed to the other side of the bed. Her eyes popped back open when his weight sunk down next to her.

“Your sword training starts tomorrow,” Jon announced before forgetting, recalling the plan he had formulated after Ser Allister had the discussion with him.

“Good.”

She scooted closer and laid her head down onto his chest, her loose hair tickling his chest. Jon looped his arm around her, finger swirling along her back. He never knew how soothing it could be to have her there, drifting off to sleep slowly. There was a calmness with him that night, even after everything that had happened, and it was all because of Daenerys. She centered him.

“I should have my own sword,” she mumbled, some words not completely clear.

“Aye.” He was happy she brought that up. Jon hadn’t thought of it yet. “Donal is an outstanding smith. He can make one for you in good time. I’ll have him start tomorrow.”

“No,” she breathed out, sleepy. “I’ll go.”

He was about to respond but Dany was already half gone, much like he wanted to be.  Jon blew out the remaining two candles by him, noticing Ghost rearrange himself to be at the side of the bed. His last thought was that he was going to be in for a good sleep.

Chapter Text

 

Daenerys

Her arms and legs stretched out until her limbs did not feel cramped anymore. There was a smile on her face before her eyes fluttered open.

“Jon?”

He was pulling the last boot on, lacing up the ties. “You’re up.”

She buried her face into the pillow as she shied away from the light. “I don’t want to be.”

When she heard the footsteps coming her way, Daenerys adjusted so she was on her back, kicking back the furs because it made her too warm. It came as a surprise when Jon leaned over her and kissed her on the lips tenderly.

“I’ve got to go…Lord Commander duties.”

“Must be nice,” she pouted, “having duties.”

She probably should not have said it, after all, she had a lot to be grateful for. Still, the words came easy, her tongue loose.

“You’re bored, aren’t you?”

“Not quite. It’s just that Gilly said Sam will be leaving for the Citadel soon. With Gilly gone, I won’t have anyone to talk to, apart from you or Aemon. ”

“Things aren’t going to be stagnant around here for long,” he reminded her. He sat down on the edge of the bed, her body falling that way as his weight sank into the bed. “I’m starting to think you are not even half as prepared for what’s to come as you need to be.”

“I highly doubt anyone could be fully prepared for an army of dead men marching at them,” she tried to mention.

“I suppose there is truth to that.”

Daenerys rubbed her sleepy eyes with the backs of her hands. She patted her hair down with her palms before running her fingers through it to look a little more presentable after the night’s rest.

“My hair is a mess,” she grumbled.

“I hadn’t noticed,” Jon replied. “You’re lucky you didn’t see mine this morning.”

Daenerys giggled and reached up into the thick curls. “A sight, I’m sure.” When he dangled a tie for his hair out in front of her before starting to gather up the locks, she quickly got to her knees beside him. “Let me.”

Jon obliged, not that he had much of a choice with the way she grabbed the tie from his hand so quick he did not realize what had happened. She steered his shoulders so he would face the wall sitting there at the edge, and Daenerys leaned partway against his back as she gathered up the hair. Once the bun was formed so it would be out of the way, some pieces at the nape of his neck still poking out, she was pleased with the results.

“There.”

He felt around before he approved. “Thank you.”

Daenerys threw an arm around his chest, molding against his back, and tilted her head over his shoulder, long hair flowing like a curtain to the side of his face. Dany sensed that the atmosphere between them allowed for her to be more affectionate, that he was open to it. She swiped a finger along his untrimmed beard. “Have you thought of shaving recently?”

Jon immediately rubbed the thick patch of hair, a small smile changing his face. “Haven’t had much time to think about grooming…but I can.”

“I’d like that,” she hinted.

Jon fully smiled and got up from the bed, grabbing his cloak from off a chair in the corner. “I have to see Tormund today. The storm has lifted, for now, and I have to talk to him about the rest of the Free Folk, try to get him to understand what is at stake for all of us.”

She knew that Jon had remembered their previous conversation about going beyond the Wall and that she was asking to go with him. She decided not to bring it up again, only until after he met with the Wildling man.

Daenerys slumped back down onto the bed, pulling her legs to the side. “What other plans do you have today?”

He cocked his head to the side due to her tone of voice. “Why do you say it like that?”

Daenerys got straight to the point. “What’s going to happen to the brother who survived last night? Are you going to execute him?”

Jon’s jaw tensed. “Yes.”

“Maybe you should send him to a different castle instead.”

His eyes narrowed at the proposal she put forward. “That doesn’t serve its purpose.”

“And what purpose is that? To show that there is no second chances? No chance to redeem oneself?”

Jon’s brows pulled together, wrinkling his forehead. “You want me to spare his life, to show him mercy? He could have raped you, and you think he deserves to live?”

She might have said something like I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but you should consider it, but Daenerys was comfortable enough to be blunt.

“Yes. Don’t keep him here, but send him away to another castle to be at the Wall. He’ll be grateful for his life and we will still have one more man standing to fight when the time comes.”

Jon hesitated, eyes fascinated by her choice of wording. “We will?” he questioned.

Daenerys got back up to her knees, prepared to make her pitch. “I’ve been thinking, especially last night while I was waiting for you. The brothers of the Night’s Watch don’t see me as one of them. I don’t want it to be that way. It can’t be that way. I’ve always been a stranger, an outsider where I’ve been. It was like that in Dorne, and now here. If I’m going to be here the rest of my life, however long that might be, I don’t want to feel that way. I want to belong. My idea was that I should have my own vows to say, to make it official. I arrived as Lady Commander without earning the title, even if it has never been given before. I want to prove myself. Vows might help, saying something suited for this position and for the fact that I’m a woman.”

Jon stood there blinking at her.

Daenerys shifted from knee to knee, crossing her arms. “You’re not saying anything,” she impatiently pointed out.

“I—” Jon started, double taking. He shook his head like he could not believe what she had said.  “You’d want that? To swear to the Night’s Watch?”

“Yes.”

Jon was baffled, but understanding at the same time. “I know what it’s like to feel like an outside,” Jon agreed. “And as long as you’re sure you would want—”

“I am,” she anxiously said before he could get anymore words out. “I could talk with Aemon and draft something up. The vows you say don’t make sense coming from me. It can be similar, shorter. It’s a start, wouldn’t you say?”

Jon looked like he was questioning his reality, looking around as if he were in a dream. “You really want to be one of us?” he asked once more, grinning a hesitant smile.

She reached out over the bed and grabbed ahold of his cloak, yanking him forward until his legs hit the edge and went in the direction of her pull. When he fell on top of her, Daenerys kept his body glued to hers, locking her legs around him.

“Yes,” she answered him.

She wanted more than that—she wanted all of Jon. It was a process, but she wanted all his guarded walls to crumble for her. Wanted him to give himself over to her completely. Wanted his bare body against hers and for him to be inside of her.

She wanted a lot.

She knew it would take more time.

Even though patience was never a skill of hers, it would be worth the wait. That she was certain of. Daenerys saw a future for the two of them, one that was good and true, even if it was going to be there at Castle Black. The 998th Lord Commander and the first Lady Commander would make history.

When Jon’s lips hit her neck, Dany sighed and dug her nails along his back. The previous night he had been so good to her, surprisingly so, and the thought of him pulling up her dress and burying his head in between her legs set a fire inside of her. Of course, she still wanted to put her knowledge of men and their desires into practice after much teaching from the Sand Snakes, mainly Tyene, who was never bashful, and showed her different positions and seduction techniques.

It was a strange realization at the same time, having not even known Jon a few moons ago, yet there she was, more than willing to spread her legs for him. And not only that, but willing to give over her heart to him, to build a future there at Castle Black, a place so desolate that no one would ever think that the beginning stages of love were being nurtured within its walls.

“Jon,” she murmured, and he groaned at his name.

There was a light knock on the door that interrupted them.

“That’ll be Gilly,” Dany sighed.

Jon pulled away and turned to look at the door, maybe contemplating sending Gilly away—as Dany was still pinned beneath his weight and she could feel he was hard up against her leg as he shifted.

“Have her come back later,” Dany whispered.

Do it, she thought, fuck me.

Daenerys slipped her hand down the front of his breeches so her palm slid the length of his member, tracing it up and down slowly a few times, trying to coax Jon. He turned back to her, kissing her lips roughly, only to pull away completely, visibly tense. It was painful for him to tear away, but he did.

 He wasn’t ready for that step, so she let it be.

On her own terms, Daenerys headed to the armory, walking in with confidence. Jon had told her that Donal Noye was the smith there, the one who made the Warhammer that killed her eldest brother and aided the Baratheons in their war against her family.

A bold move going there it was, but it wouldn’t stop her. Daenerys kept her head high the whole way, knowing exactly what she needed and Donal would be the one to craft it for her. It wasn’t like he had much of a choice…

The door to the armory was already open when she arrived. She knocked to alert, but no one was there, so she waited, stepping in. It was a few minutes until Donal ducked in from a smaller room connected to the side, then noticing Dany.

He paused there, stopping completely.

“Sorry to interrupt.”

“Lady Commander,” he greeted, dusting off his palms. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “What can I do for you?”

She began to browse the weapons that were stored, all lined up along a wall that led to a large fireplace. There were swords of all different sizes, steel quality, and purposes. Some old, some new, some looking like they needed to be polished up.

Her heels sounded loud on the uneven wooden planks as she looked, and a strange sense of not belonging tickled her. An armory was not a place many women ventured to, especially for her specific request.

“I need a sword,” her voice echoed, mellow, making it seem like it was usual for her to ask for such a thing.

Daenerys turned back to watch his reaction, to see if his eyes showed any judgement. To her surprise, he did not give off anything resembling judgement.

“Aye,” he agreed, nodding, then pointing. “One fit for a woman. We don’t have any of those lying around here as a spare.”

Daenerys allowed a small, false grin. “I hear you’re quite talented at making swords.”

He nodded. “I would say so.”

“I need one for myself,” Daenerys started off. She clasped her hands together in front of her. “How long would it take?”

He held up a finger. “I suspected I might be given such a request.” He went into the side room where Dany heard a few boxes being knocked over in the process of him rustling around. When he reappeared after a few loud bangs, there was a sword in a sheath that he held in his hands. “I made this not too long after your arrival. Figured you might need it eventually, and I was waiting to see if you ever might turn up asking.”

Daenerys approached further to examine. Donal held it out for her to take.

“How did you know I would need one?”

He shrugged a shoulder. “Because I know how our Lord Commander thinks. And, well, I’ve known a few women from Dorne in past years. It was ages ago, but they like to fight just as much as the men there.” Donal urged her to take the sword. “Go on.”

Daenerys picked it up for the first time, admiring the detailing along the sheath made of dark leather.

“Is it to your liking? How does it feel?”

Daenerys was happy to know she could pull the sword free without any help. With the sheath gone, the weight was right, she knew that instantly. It was heavy, but enough that she could learn to use it properly. She had held a sword before, multiple times, but hers was thinner than a sword a man was use, and lighter too. Daenerys held the sword in her hand, turning it slightly on an angle, running a finger down along the edge lightly, careful not to draw any blood.

The pummel and grip was simple, black, but the detailing came in on the hilt and the crossguard. Donal had taken it upon himself to craft a dragon head at either end, flames etched in to the hilt. It was an unexpected detail, part of her heritage stamped into the sword, by a man who had one served the family who destroyed her own.

Maybe she wasn’t as hated as she thought, especially if a man who once was serving the Baratheons was giving her a sword that embraced her ancestry.

She still felt entitled to be wary, but expressed her gratitude. “It’s perfect. Thank you.”

“My pleasure.” He pointed in the direction of the sword. “As long as you don’t plan to use that on me.”

She raised an eyebrow, following up on his attempt to make a joke. “Have you done something that would require the use of this blade?”

He shrugged and tossed up his hands. “I guess it depends on who you ask.”

Dany put the sword back into the sheath. “Not today,” she mused.

He chuckled, saying nothing more, and went back to work. Daenerys wondered how it must feel to him to be arming the Mad King’s daughter.

With the new sword with her, there was a newfound secureness she felt in her place at Castle Black. She was even more certain about giving some type of vow to the Night’s Watch, to the brothers.

To Jon.

She wanted her name written down in the books for years to come, showing that Daenerys Targaryen was a fighter and fought for her place among a location that was exclusively men since its creation.

 “Daenerys Targaryen.”

Her own name spoken by a female voice sparked Dany to stop and turned her head, the accent foreign. The Red Woman. It was obvious that was who it was standing there in the snow, walking out from the darkness of underneath the stairs leading up to a walkway. Her dark coppery hair and red robes she wore was all the indicators Daenerys needed to know who it was before her.

“We finally meet.”

“Melisandre of Asshai,” Daenerys greeted, suspicious. “I heard you arrived last night.”

Melisandre strolled forward, swaying delicately. It almost sounded as if her feet were not touching the ground, no crunching of the snow beneath her. Melisandre’s piercing eyes settled on Daenerys as she examined her, falling silent for a few moments as she looked Dany over. When her hand stretched out towards her face, Dany caught her hand at the wrist, not trusting.

With conviction, Melisandre strongly assured her, “Don’t worry, child, you have nothing to fear from me. I will bring you no harm.”

“Don’t touch me,” Dany replied in a calm manner, as to not offend, but to make her point.

She obliged as Daenerys let go, hiding her hand back in her robes. “Very well, as you wish.”

“Do you need something?” Daenerys found herself asking, wondering why Melisandre seemingly came to seek her out, as if she had been waiting for her all along.

“Reassurance,” she said vaguely. Her smile was not sweet, but eerie. “I’ve gotten it.”

Before Dany got the chance to ponder what Melisandre might have meant, she excused herself. “I have to go,” Daenerys announced, not wanting to stick around alone with Melisandre. The intensity she felt radiating from the Red Priestess was far more than she wanted to endure. “I have someone who I need to meet with.”

Dany began to walk away, only to have Melisandre call after her, voice the same as before when she said, “Lady Commander.”

She stopped in her tracks once again. Dany feared what might come out of the Red Woman’s mouth next, bringing an uneasiness to her. Though she did not turn around, Melisandre voiced her thoughts into the wind, sounding like her head was twisted the other way when she spoke.

“Time is tricky. There is often too little, that is, until there is too much.”

Daenerys understood what Jon meant when he had mentioned that Melisandre spoke in a cryptic language.

Although Daenerys would not consider herself to be a nonbeliever, she was skeptical about the powers Melisandre was said to have. All her information had come from Jon, which was a particular reason as to why Maester Aemon might come as a valuable source. He had been around for a long time, reading so many books from cover to end, that surely he must have an understanding of the nature of a red priestess.

When she arrived at the library, Aemon was in his usual spot, a blanket over his legs, pushed into the table by himself.

“Daenerys,” he greeted. “You’re early. What is on your mind today?”

Daenerys inquired without hesitating, “What do you know of Red Priestesses?”

“They worship the Lord of Light, one whom gives them their power. They see visions in the flames, visions which they interpret the meaning of.”

“Do you think there is any truth to those visions?”

Aemon hesitated. “Hard to say. You would have to decide for yourself.”

She was hoping for a more cut and dry answer, but anything surrounding magic must not result in such a response.

“What is that you bring with you?”

Daenerys had been tapping on the sword she had as she thought, making a noise. Daenerys placed her sheathed sword down onto the table. “My sword.”

“Ah…Visenya Targaryen wielded a sword.”

“Dark Sister,” she remembered, fond of the stories she had been told. “She was both comfortable in a dress and in armor.”

“That she was.”

“She helped take Westeros alongside of Aegon and Rhaenys.” Daenerys smiled looking into the fire. “Maybe I’ll take back the Seven Kingdoms with this sword,” she joked. “Or maybe I’ll just try to take a few dead men out before they kill me.”

Although she was less serious about it, Aemon’s face did not change. “Careful with words like that.”

“Why? No one is listening, not here.”

Aemon formed his mouth upright, knowing better. “A Red Priestess might.” He reached his hand out for hers and squeezed as much as he could. “I only want what is best for you. I’m sure by now Jon has told you what happened with Stannis Baratheon and his history with Melisandre of Asshai.”

Daenerys gripped the chair in front of her. “I didn’t get much detail about that history.”

“Sam has relayed a lot of information to me, mostly because he says what is on his mind to whoever is nearest. From what I have heard, the short version of the story is that Stannis was a man misguided by a Red Priestess claiming he was the Prince who was Promised. Words are powerful. Dangerous. They can get to the head. Stannis Baratheon, as I am told, is now no longer with us…yet who remains?”

“Melisandre,” Daenerys finished the thought. “I understand. I’ll be careful.”

“Good.” Aemon took in a shallow breath, winded from his long speech. “Now, do take a look at this and tell me what it says.”

He pushed over a book across the uneven table. Daenerys oriented the skinny book to face her, browsing over the pages, water stains making it hard to read. She grabbed a candle holder that was burning from the middle of the table and brought it closer.

“It’s hard to make out all the words,” she started, picking the book up to get a closer look.

She read it out loud slowly as the words made sense.

“As darkness fell upon them in form of a storm, the Night King raised his arms along with the dead. The men were turned into one of them…blue eyed and wielding weapons.”

Daenerys had a chill run up her arms. That was what was out beyond the Wall and Jon would be headed right for it.

“Lady Commander?” Olly popped down off the stairs and stood there with a scroll in his hands. “For you.”

Daenerys closed the book, taking it with her as she opened the scroll.

Jon

Even as he sat there across the table from him, Tormund was bigger than Jon remembered. It was not only bigger that he was, but his eyes were different, set in deeper, most likely from a lack of sleep. Solidarity had not done him any good.

The cell was dark and musty, the sounds of the brothers working outside echoing. They had sat in silence for a few minutes, testing out the waters, but Jon was in the position of power, which meant that he would speak first.

“The Free Folk, where did the remaining ones go to?”

Tormund stared at him with his nose flaring. “Why would I tell you?”

“So I can help them, that’s why. You know what’s out there, Tormund, do you want them to suffer the same fate as so many others have already?”

The chair creaked as Tormund’s large body shifted from side to side, Jon’s rhetorical question striking him.

“You think of yourself as a hero? Headed out into the frozen land to save them?”

Jon shook his head. “I’m just a person trying to do the right thing. There’s no glory in it.”

“The Free Folk won’t follow you, never a Crow. You know this.”

“They don’t need to,” Jon barked, raspy. It was true—he knew how the Wildlings were. “I’m not asking to be their leader, all I ask is that they fight alongside us when the time comes. When the Night King comes. When the dead march here with everyone they have collected along the way. Those who are dead will be Wildlings.”

Tormund’s eyes were deceiving, cracking his stony exterior to show the concern he had for his people who remained beyond the Wall.

“The Night King will take them all if they don’t come here,” Jon warned, stern. “They will all perish, even those who can fight. They are out there in the open and the Night King will see them as nothing but an easy target. Just more to add to his army.”

“Aye, he will,” Tormund agreed. It was easy to tell he was uncomfortable with the agreement, but there was little time to waste. “Tell me, what do you propose?”

Jon gripped the edge of the arms of his chair, his back molding against the wood of the chair. “Take me to them and we can talk. We can get them to come back here where they will be safe and we can prepare for what is to come.”

“Talk to the Free Folk,” Tormund laughed, his words fragmented as his deep belly chuckle interrupted. “They’ll cut off your tongue, and some other parts too. Leave you to bleed to death on the ice all tied up.”

Jon closed his eyes. “I have to try.”

“Brave man,” he commented. “To be fair, the day I walk alongside a Crow is the day my people cut me to pieces too. Or worse.” Tormund tapped his finger on his thigh, his handcuffs clinking as he thought it through. “No tricks? Bringing them here? You can give me your word on that?”

Jon nodded. “I am the Lord Commander. They’ll have safe passage. I can guarantee that.”

Tormund, through gritted teeth, took a chance. “Hardhome,” he disclosed to Jon. “That is where you’ll find the Free Folk.”

Jon knew where that was, along the shoreline, to the West of the Haunted Forest. It was not too far from the Wall, close enough to get there and back without significant worry about supplies running out or becoming trapped in a storm.

“Getting there will be quicker,” Tormund explained, rubbing his bearded chin. “Getting back to here, if we don’t end up with skewered and tied to a pole to rot, will take double the time with the sick, the young, and the old.”

“Whatever it takes,” Jon promised.

Tormund held up his chained hands, adding some sarcasm. “Do I have to go like this? Might not help convincing them.”

Jon got up, turning the key into the chains to free him, the shackles rattling to the ground. “There.”

They exchanged a look of what the fuck are we getting ourselves into.

Tormund asked, “When can we leave?”

“A couple days. I have supplies that should be arriving today or tomorrow.”

Before he could further flushing out a plan, Olly opened the door for Daenerys, who took two steps in, her deep navy dress and black cloak taking up the entire doorframe at the bottom. He felt the automatic smile before he realized his face was reacting to her. However, she did not return the gesture, which meant that something was wrong. He could see it in her eyes.

Tormund rose out of his seat in a hurry. Even from the distance, his large frame towered over Daenerys, and she did not look to be fazed by him at all. He got a once over look and was categorized as not much of a threat.

“Pardon,” Dany excused herself. She shifted her eyes to Jon and he saw a scroll in her hands. “I must speak with Jon, if you don’t mind.”

Tormund said nothing, just stood there agape. Jon leaned slightly to take a look at the tall man, but he seemed to be in some sort of trance, eyeing Daenerys with interest. Jon had never since such a quizzical look from him before.

“I’ll be right with you,” he told Daenerys.

She stared at him, hesitating. She wanted to talk to him right then. Daenerys glanced at Tormund before turning her back as Olly stepped in to grabbed the doorknob, escorting Daenerys back out.

With the door shut, Tormund broke the silence. “The Free Folk won’t fight for you,” he repeated once more, distracted. He turned back to Jon. “But, if you take her with you, it may spark some interest about fighting alongside of you.”

“Who? Daenerys?”

“Daenerys,” he repeated, butchering a couple vowels in the process.

Daenerys,” Jon repeated again, saying it slower to Tormund got the right pronunciation. “Why would bringing her make a difference?”

“There is a legend among some Free Folk clans that has been told generation to generation, a legend based on what a woman in a village many, many years ago who saw a vision.”

Jon nearly face planted onto the desk. “A vision?” he questioned abrasively.

Sounded like Melisandre talking.

Tormund looked somewhat excited by the idea. “Ah, yes, a vision of a leader, a silver haired woman who brought the Free Folk south of the Wall to live in their own lands which was once theirs before the Wall casted us out.” He cocked his head to the right sharply. “Not exactly the way we imagined it. It was bloodier, but I think they’ll all settle for what they can get at this point. She will cause from whispers.”

A silver haired woman. It was specific enough that it made him question what the Free Folk knew of Targaryens, if there was ever a previous encounter long, long ago.

Tormund turned back around towards the door. “Daenerys…who is that woman? Why is she here?”

Jon felt a slight shift of anxiety ease into him. Tormund would surely be as blunt as one could be about the situation. “Here, in the Seven Kingdoms, it can be complicated, The royal family sent her here. The Lannisters. Daenerys’ family used to be in power, for centuries actually. They brought dragons to Westeros and conquered each of the kingdoms, making it one realm.”

“Dragons?” Tormund questioned curiously. “Hatched from eggs?”

Jon blinked. “Aye, dragons. They did hatch from eggs and grew into massive beasts that breathed fire onto its enemies. They don’t exist anymore. The last died out two hundred years ago.”

“Would have been good to have them now at a time like this,” he mentioned. “Why send her here? She can’t be a Crow, she’s a woman.”

Jon shook his head, unable to look at Tormund. “She’s not technically part of the Night’s Watch. They sent her here for me.”

“For you?”

Jon hated that he had to explain it. He closed his eyes, knowing he was just going to have to blurt it out, plain and simple. “Daenerys is the Lady Commander here at Castle Black.”

“Ah.” Tormund thought he understood. He started to chuckle, impressed. “She is your lover.”

“She’s....it’s not like that. She had no choice, I had no choice. She was sent here and there was nothing to be done about it.”

“And you are the Lord Commander now.” Tormund thought about it for a moment, head tilting towards the ceiling. “You’ve married her.”

“No,” he said again, though even to him the relationship between the pair was rather hazy, given the pieces that Tywin had sent in his scroll. “There were no vows, but it seems to not matter so much to the southerners. No vows, no marriage, but in the eyes of everyone else, it’s treated like a marriage, at least it would seem that way. Lord and Lady, that’s how it works.”

He raised an eyebrow, eyes wild. “You didn’t used to be this confusing.”

“I agree, but it doesn’t matter,” Jon said gruffly, feeling them going off track. “What else about this vision? Are you telling me you believe this, about a silver haired woman?”

“Do you think I am as stupid as the others?”

Jon cocked his head to the side. “Do you really wish me to answer that?”

Tormund was amused. “What matters is that some others believe. After years of being kept out, they needed something to hold onto. A dream for the future. Mance is gone, and without a leader, they are susceptible to believing old tales. That could work in our favor.” He nodded his head towards the door. “Bring her with you and we can get the Free Folk come back here.”

“It’s dangerous to bring her.”

“Dangerous to leave her here alone without you too, wouldn’t you say? If it were I, there would be no reason I would leave my woman here.”

Reluctantly, Jon would have to agree with that statement.

Back in his study, where Olly had told Jon that Dany was, Daenerys had opened up the boarded window, staring outside. She twisted her head over her shoulder when he entered the study.

“What is it?” he asked, knowing it would not be good news.

She held out the scroll and he walked over to take it from her.

Daenerys,

 

I want you to hear this from me first, no one else. I am writing to you to tell you that everything is about to change. Doran refuses to take revenge for Oberyn’s murder at the hands of the Lannisters, so I must. War is upon us. Dorne will have revenge.

I want to remind you that I have always considered you to be my family. I love you like a daughter of my own, flesh and blood. Even with you so far away, that will not change. We will see each other again, in time. There are plans at work.

 

Ellaria Sand

 

There are plans at work. Jon shook his head, understanding that there would be more chaos in the South, more bloodshed, and more pain to feel by many.

“You’re upset,” he gathered.

“I’m worried.” She begun to pick at her nails, avoiding his gaze. She leaned her back against the stone wall, head thudding against it. “There’s nothing I can do. What if the Lannisters take them from me too? I know Ellaria and the Sand Snakes. They’ll start a war even if the odds are against them.” Abruptly, she drew in a breath and her composure fractured. “It’s frustrating!”

He came to her side, grabbing her face to focus her. “I know it is. Believe me, I do. I’ve been there.”

His father.

Robb’s war.

It would always be fresh in his mind.

Daenerys wrapped her arms around him tight. “I hate this.”

“Do you want to leave?” he asked as he found himself planting a kiss to her forehead. “I’ll find you a ship.”

He couldn’t be selfish. He cared for her, a lot, more than he was ready to admit, but he also realized that she was her own person with her own thoughts and feelings. Had Jon not been bound by vow to the Night’s Watch, he would have fled to be at Robb’s side as soon as he could, never looking back.

“What?” Daenerys exhaled, baffled.

Jon swallowed. “If what you really want is to go back to Dorne, to be there with the people you consider your family, then I won’t stop you.”

Her mouth parted in awe as a part of Jon broke off, knowing she could take him up on that offer.

You can’t be selfish. She is her own woman and in her own right she deserves to make her own choices.

“When Robb was fighting his war, I wanted to leave. I did leave. Sam and the others brought me back. But I always thought that I should be with him, helping him. He was my brother. He needed me and I couldn’t be there for him.” Jon nodded as all the memories hit him. “I know how much it hurts and how frustrating it can be. This is why I’m telling you now that if it is what you desire, to be there with them, with Ellaria, Tyene, Nymeria, all of them you’ve mentioned, then I won’t stop you. Even if I feel you are safer here, far away from King’s Landing, even if I feel…if I feel I want you here, it’s not my choice. It’s yours.”

Her eyes softened. “Do you really mean all that?”

“Yes.”

Daenerys sucked in a breath and tilted her head to the side, eyes watering. “Even if I wanted to go, I feel as though my place is here now, next to you. I won’t abandon my place.”

He felt relieved and torn at the same time. “Are you sure about that?”

“I am,” she whispered, grinning as a tear rolled down her cheek. Her hand placed on the leather that covered his chest, just above where the straps of the cloak he still wore created an X. “We have work that has yet to be done here, Jon Snow.”

It was then that he let out a breath he had been holding in, the pressure releasing from his lungs. She had the option to leave, yet refused it. Every day she continued to surprise Jon.

“Speaking of work to be done, Tormund and I have a plan to bring the Wildlings here.”

She nodded along, eyes shutting for a moment. “You plan to leave soon.”

“Aye, we do. In several days time. The supplies I sent for will arrive soon, supplies that you enabled me to purchase.”

Daenerys looped her arms around his back, pulling closer to him, having to tilt her head back to look up at Jon. He felt her playing with his cloak, her hands sandwiched between his back and the fabric.

“Half of the Night’s Watch will hate me, but I have to go to Hardhome and try to convince the Wildlings there to come with me so they don’t end up dead and alongside the Night King. It’s the right thing to do, and it will add to our numbers.”

“Hardhome?” she questioned. “Is that far?”

“Not terribly far, no, but it is a ways from here. A trip that will take seven days and nights to get there, and even more to get back. I doubt it would take them long to pack up their belongings. The Free Folk don’t travel with much, only necessities.”

“It will be near a full moon by the time you return,” she explained. “At least.

“Aye, that it will.”

“Tormund didn’t look to be too friendly,” she recalled, frowning. “You are sure you can trust him? You’re sure he won’t kill you out there and put your body over a fire to eat?”

“No, but a Thenn might do that.”

Her brows pulled together as she shook her head at him. “You’re not helping.”

“Sorry,” he apologized. Wrong comedic timing. “I trust Tormund. We want the same thing.”

“I’m conflicted by all this,” she admitted.

Jon brushed her cheek. “You have a right to be. You’re trapped in the middle of it all.”

Daenerys got to her toes and her lips brushed his. Jon let his eyes drift shut. When she shifted closer to him so her body was up against his, Jon let out a pent up breath that took some tension of his body.

“Daenerys?”

“Yes?”

Jon drew in a steady breath. “I want you to know that despite our initial fumbling through all this, I truly care for you.”

She grabbed the leather to his jerkin like she was hanging on for her life. “Are you happy I’m here?”

Here?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Yes,” he admitted to. “You’ve given life a newer meaning.”

Wow. That almost had sounded like something Robb would have come up with on the spot. Dare he think he was getting better with the whole female interaction?

“I care very much for you as well.” She kissed him again. “Which is why I've decided I am coming with you to Hardhome. It's not a question or a request. I’m coming."

"I know you are."

"You do?"

"Yes," he laughed. "I knew there was not really a choice to begin with. You want to come, therefore, you're coming. I just need you to follow my instructions out there. You hear me on that?"

"Deal," she sounded off, more than pleased. "At least now I won't have to send you off telling you to come back in one piece.”

"Come back in one piece?" he pondered out loud. "That might have been a difficult request to fulfill."

Her hand reached out to knock his chest playfully. “I guess I’ll have to be there to protect you. Donal already had a sword made for me, do you believe that?”

“Sounds like him. Where is it?”

 “It’s back in our chambers. Are we still training today?”

“Yes, at sundown. I have some things to get in order with the brothers first. I need to prep those who will be coming.”

Daenerys stood there like she was waiting for something else. When she reached out for him, Jon took a step closer. He couldn’t not kiss her. When she pulled her head backwards and away from him, Jon frowned.

“What’s wrong?”

She put a finger up to his lips. “Nothing.” Daenerys let her hand fall down his chest. “Where aren’t even.”

“What?” he croaked, confused. “Even?”

“Didn’t get to finish what was started this morning,” she alluded to.

Her hands went down to his breeches again, smoothing over the bulge. Oh. She pulled slightly at the waistband before her hand disappeared underneath, palm flattening. She grabbed his cock firmly and smoothed her hand up and down, squeezing lightly. Jon’s mouth parted, stunned by how different the feeling was compared to his own hand.

“Do you like that?” she breathed, watching his face.

“Yes,” he managed to breathe out.

She removed her hand slowly, grabbing him at the waist to push him back into the chair behind the desk. Once sitting, Daenerys pulled at her skirts as she kneeled down on the ground, a hand on his thigh. That was when he really understood—she wanted to show him the same treatment he gave to her the night before, her mouth to him.

“Relax,” she told him, her palm moving up his thigh.

She looked confident from the beginning, which turned him on even more. When his breeches came undone enough to expose his cock, Daenerys shifted closer, bending over his lap. The contact of her wet, warm mouth on his tip made him bite down on his lip, a small groan getting through.

So that was what it was like…

Sure, he had been curious after all of Theon’s bragging, but Jon really never imagined it to be that good.

Daenerys held him steady with her small hand at the base of his cock, her mouth inching down further along his shaft. When her tongue dragged along with her bottom lip, creating a sucking sensation, Jon drew in a loud breath, which kicked off his eradicate breathing.

Seven Hells.

“Dany,” he whined uncontrollably.

He eyed the door, knowing anyone could walk in, but could not find the will to care. Jon gently put a hand on her head and flexed his fingers against her soft, silver hair. He sunk lower into his chair because it felt good, so good.

Jon tilted his head to the side, resting it on the back of the chair, watching as Dany’s head bobbed up and down. It was bad timing for him to be thinking it, really, awful timing, but the feelings he had for her kept stirring, evolving, and as quickly as he had realized he cared for her, there was something else there, way deeper.

Jon closed his eyes. He knew what it was in his heart. Daenerys had found her way there.

“Dany,” he said again, but it was a different tone coming from him, more strained.

His body became hot under all this clothes and she pushed him farther and farther to the edge. Jon’s toes became restless, moving around in his boots, his fingers flexing around in her hair.  When it hit him, it was different from every other time when it was just him alone in his room. Jon’s hips jerked upwards, moaning, spilling into Dany’s mouth.

She pulled her lips away, wiping the back of her mouth with her hand. The sight of her that way made him want her all over again. Every part of her.

He tried to pull his hand out of her hair, but it got tangled after all his messing around with the strands. “Ouch,” she complained, wincing.

“Sorry,” he mumbled as she freed herself.

They shared a small laugh. It wasn’t awkward, not even when she pulled his breeches back up over his softening member. All he could do was cup her face with his hand and look at her, really look at her, this woman who wanted him, who he wanted just as much, probably way more. For the first time, he saw it—a picture of the future, the two of them, Lord and Lady Commander.

It was possible.

Chapter Text

Jon

Having to break the news to Ser Davos was not pleasant. He had arrived that morning thinking that he was supposed to ask Jon for aid for Stannis, however, that was no longer an option. The fate of Stannis was almost entirely overlooked, him jumping right to Stannis’ daughter. When he asked about Princess Shireen, Jon knew what the answer would be, but still sent for Melisandre to confirm his beliefs. The look of despair on Ser Davos’ face reminded Jon as to why he tried to not get close to people.

Losing them took a chunk away every time, leaving empty holes.

It wasn’t until he saw Daenerys that Jon was reminded that maybe there was a way of patching those holes up.

Within the past two days, much had changed for the better—a surprising amount. Ser Davos showing up was somewhat of a blessing, even thought he might not have thought it that way. They had Stannis Baratheon’s fleet at their disposal, all docked at East Watch, originally sent with Ser Davos to quickly get men and supplies to Stannis.

“He would want you to have it,” Ser Davos claimed. “Sounds like all these ships might do you some good.”

“It will,” Jon acknowledged.

“They won’t be going in a direction I’m comfortable with, but, nonetheless, some good it’ll do.”

Jon was only half paying attention. He was distracted by Daenerys, who was walking across the courtyard over to where Gilly was loading a few items into a carriage for her departure.

Ser Davos noticed him watching her. “How are you two getting along?”

Jon held back a smile. “Very well.”

Ser Davos nodded, seeing that. “Stannis said, very briefly, he thought the two of you would. He told me about his plans, having your son rule the North.” Jon stayed quiet, but Ser Davos was not one to stop what was on his mind. “He admired you. You frustrated him, but he admired you in his own way. He wouldn’t have offered what he did to just anyone.”

It came out cold and distant when he flatly said, “I have Stark blood, that’s the only reason why he offered it.”

“No,” Ser Davos meekly responded. “It wasn’t just that. You’re strong and you use your mind. You don’t back down from a challenge, even if you think there’s not much of a chance at succeeding. You find a way. That combined with your Stark ancestry, mixed with a full Targaryen…a child of yours, boy or girl, would have been one of the best rulers the North had ever seen. That is something that I am certain of.”

A little girl.

A little boy.

Daughter.

Son.

He allowed the thought, the images to float before him—kids being raised in Winterfell, just as he was. Jon and Daenerys both looked so opposite of each other that he wondered what their children would look like. Would they take on more of Daenerys’ looks, or his?

Jon closed his eyes—in another life, he reminded himself. He could not afford to think any other way. He swore to father no children.

“It was an idea of his that never would have happened,” Jon claimed.

Ser Davos chuckled to himself. “You seem awfully sure of that.”

Jon turned to him. “Is my word not good enough?”

Ser Davos chuckled again, choosing his words. “It’s not your word I doubt. I believe you have every intention of following through with what you say. It’s only that over these past few years, and even more so in the past few months, I’ve learned that it’s a strange world, Jon. Our lives change in the blink of an eye. You might find that some things are out of our control. Maybe it is all up to the Gods in the end, no one knows, though some would claim. Maybe there is such a thing as fate. Anything can happen, that I can tell you with the utmost certainty. Just don’t be shocked if one day you find there’s another being growing inside your Lady Commander.”

Davos Seaworth had seen some things and experienced loss many times over, that Jon knew. Ser Davos believed that anything could happen, as he had said, that there was bountiful paths in the world for each person. Jon didn’t think that way, but didn’t look at him different for having that ideology.

“Do you believe in magic?” Ser Davos asked into the wind.

“I don’t know. I didn’t until I saw a dead man up and moving. It’s hard to understand what else could it be.”

“There is another force at work here in Westeros. More has happened in the last four years than should have. All we are left with now is a string of dead Kings and memories of those we have lost.”

Jon thought about it some more. It was true, a lot had happened in a short span of time, a peculiar amount. Many men had died, proclaimed kings a part of that too. It made him wonder who would be the next victim.

He didn’t have much time to think too heavily into it, as Ser Allister stepped out from the small groups of brothers waiting for Jon and the rest to leave, prepared to take over the responsibility to Castle Black. His face was the same as always, frowning and cold. The usual.

“As First Ranger, it is my duty to advise you against this trip, Lord Commander.”

Jon expected him to say what he did. “I know, and I thank you for the advice, but we know what they will become if we don’t bring them here. The Free Folk will all turn into more we have to fight. It’s better to have them fight on our side than against us.”

It was logical to Jon, but not to Ser Allister. His hatred for the Wildlings ran too deep for the logic to make sense.

“What about the steward boy? Shall I have him hanged while you’re gone?”

“No,” Jon ultimately decided. “It was Daenerys who suggested to hold off, to send him to another castle along the Wall,” he added, to soften the blow, “to show mercy in a time we need the numbers.”

Adding Daenerys in there seemed to do the trick. Ser Allister did not question any further on the matter, even if he looked miffed about it. Jon caught the glance he shot over to Dany.

“We’ll be awaiting your return.”

Not the truth, at least in terms of Jon, but he still nodded his approval as he parted ways with Ser Allister and headed back over to the men waiting, getting onto their horse as the supplies was secured.

Back over where Ser Davos was examining the pack of them, Jon came to his side once again. “Would you care to join us, Ser Davos?”

He cocked his head to the side, eyes skyward. “I might as well,” he brushed it off as. “Got nothing better to do these days.”

Encouraging enthusiasm.

Jon slipped his gloves on before his hands became blue. “Wonderful,” he muttered.

As Ser Davos slipped away to help out, Jon heard a familiar voice from behind.

“Jon?”

Sam crossed the snow packed ground, all bundled up for the trip he had ahead of him. The Citadel was a long ways off, but they would be headed for warmer lands, something that made Jon a little envious of, though he didn’t let Sam know that. On the other hand, Sam was never good at hiding his feelings, and it displayed all over his face—the fear of leaving, the fear for Jon going beyond the Wall, the uncertainty of the future.

“Goodbye, Sam.”

“This isn’t goodbye forever,” he reminded him with a small smile, “just for a little while. I’ll be back, and hopefully by then I can be of some use to you.”

I’ll be back.

They both heard the words, but still embraced like it were to be the last time. Jon looked over Sam’s shoulder to see that Gilly and Dany were saying their goodbye also.

As they pulled away, Sam said, “You stay safe out there now, you hear?”

“I’ll do my best,” Jon promised. He nodded towards the gates that lead south. “You make sure you take care of yourself.”

“Oh, I will.”

Gilly came up to behind Sam, looking directly as Jon, her hands nervously balled at her side. “Thank you,” she said.

“You don’t have to—”

“Thank you,” she said again, louder that time, but still soft spoken. “For letting little Sam and I stay here. If not for your kindness, just like Sam, I don’t know where I would be.”

Gilly was still shy around Jon, so he knew that it took a lot for her to approach and say what she did.

“You’re always welcome here, the both of you.”

Gilly looked up at the Wall. “Safe travels.”

“And the same to you.”

Jon didn’t know what would be more of a journey, going to Hardhome, or heading to the Citadel. Opposite direction, yet still a feat on its own.

Daenerys came by his side as Sam loaded Gilly and her son into the wooden cart with a brown horse attached to the front. She slipped her hand into his, gloved fingers intertwining. Jon didn’t bother to shake out of the embrace, even if there were others around. They stood there together until Sam and Gilly disappeared out the gates.

As the last of the supplies was being loaded onto horses and the rest being stored within the castle walls, Jon felt like it was a step in the direction. Seeing the grain, some steel, and other materials like wool blankets, boots all arrive the day before had made Jon breathe a sigh of relief. It had all been purchased with the coins that Dany had given him, to better the state of Castle Black and the Night’s Watch.

Quietly, he turned to Daenerys and mentioned, “You made this happen. I’m grateful.”

She squeezed his hand. “I know you are. When we get back, we’ll figure out our next steps in making sure there’s always enough.”

Jon loved that about her—the uncanny ability to have complete reassurance that everything was going to work out, that they would find a way. He needed that in his life, truly, and all the security that came with it.

“Lord Commander.”

His attention shifted to Olly as he approached. He handed over Longclaw. “Thank you, Olly.”

Olly was sullen, not looking at Jon, but the ground. He was upset that Jon was bringing Wildlings back. He had a right to be. Olly might have asked to come with them if they were not headed to Hardhome to ask the Free Folk to follow them to Castle Black. Olly’s hatred for Wildlings ran almost as deep as Ser Allister’s. Jon hoped in time he might learn to put aside his feelings, just as Jon had done multiple times with other people.

“Olly,” Dany interjected, sensing the tension.

She placed both hands on his jaw to get him to look up at her, a surprising gesture. “Do you remember what I told you? About being here?”

Olly’s mouth parted, but quickly shut it, nodding instead.

“Don’t forget it.”

Jon caught how the boy smiled in return.

It was strange exchange to watch, not knowing what had been said between the two in the past when he was not around. Whatever it was, Daenerys saw it fit to remind him of what her wisdom had been. It made Jon think that Daenerys seemed to be acting as female figure for Olly to look to as he grew up.

As Olly took Daenerys up to her horse, near the front of the line, Jon looked up and saw Melisandre standing there, watching the interaction. Melisandre had been right after all—Daenerys was in so many varying ways a gift far greater than he could ever imagine.

Admitting a Red Priestess was right was scary. He didn’t think about the implications.

As she began to step into the snow from the bottom step of the stairs, Jon realized that Melisandre was coming to say goodbye, but not to all of them, to Dany. Jon got a chill from the way Melisandre looked at Daenerys, a certainty in her eyes. She had looked at Stannis that way at one point in time, and Jon did not like that her gaze was narrowed in on Daenerys. He kept his ears alert and head down, securing the horse he would ride out to East Watch as it was brought out from the stable.

“The Lord of Light will give you safe passage there and back,” he overheard Melisandre tell Daenerys.

He saw the movement of Dany’s head moving backwards, lifting her chin. “The Lord of Light makes that decision?” she asked out of curiosity.

Melisandre replied, “Yes. The Lord of Light will have you fulfill your destiny. Your protection is important.”

Jon turned his head, not able to keep his head down any longer. He watched as Melisandre stepped in front of Daenerys, leaning in, and whispered something to her that went unheard by anyone else. Jon’s breath hitched in his throat. Melisandre looked directly at Jon before she walked away. Jon pulled at the reins of his horse and guided him up to Daenerys.

“Don’t listen to what she says,” he told her.

“You’re not the first person to tell me to be careful,” she whispered back.

It would have been reassuring, but whatever it was that Melisandre said seemed to have sparked some interest to Daenerys. She watched the Red Woman walked off for a few moments, distracted.

“Ready?” he asked.

She turned her attention back to him. “Yes, ready.”

Jon helped her up to the horse she had initially came to Castle Black on, making sure the saddle was secure for the fourth time. Jon looked up, noticing Daenerys looked nearly identical to when she arrived. She was in that white cloak she had arrived in, her long silver hair pulled into a braid, contrasting his own dark features. She pulled her hood up, a few flakes of snow falling down from the light gray sky.

She kicked a foot out towards him carefully, grazing his arm. “You’re staring,” she smiled, pointing it out to him.

“I know,” he acknowledged. “Sometimes it’s hard not to.”

He would have kissed her but there was a barrier to maintain out in the open. Brothers were out readying their own horses, wagons prepped with food and supplies for the journey between castles, towards the ships at East Watch.

Jon mounted his horse and the gates opened once more. Daenerys pulled up beside him, ready for departure into a land she had not ventured into yet. As Jon pulled at the reins to his horse, Ghost over at his side, the line behind him to head out, he had a humbling thought. The first time he had left Castle Black to go beyond the Wall with his brothers, they returned without the Lord Commander.

With the luck of good weather, they made it to East Watch in good time. Ghost had never been on a ship before but followed Jon on anyways when it came time to load up the supplies and sail towards Hardhome. There was no time to waste.

Out of the small row boat, Jon reached down and took Dany’s hand to help her, pulling her up and over onto the deck. Getting Ghost on was more of a struggle, but they managed without many injuries. He looked out of place on a ship at sea, but was still looking towards Jon for guidance.

Before they were able to retract the anchor, Jon became busy making sure everything was secure, and as they set sail, he found Daenerys still back at the top deck, watching as the Wall that separated the North from the other side go by them.

He took notice of how the waters were rough, covering the rocks that jutted out from the ocean. He caught how the edge of the Wall looked to be shimmering at the right angle as he walked up behind Dany, who was looking with wonder.

“Do you think it true that Wall was constructed with magic?”

Jon put his hand on the edge railing and glanced at the monstrosity. “Perhaps. It would make sense if it were, in order to keep out what it was designed to.”

She turned and leaned her back along the edge, both arms stretched out to place her palms down onto the flat surface of the taffrail. “White Walkers,” she answered.

“Exactly. That’s what all the stories say.” Jon took a step closer, sliding his hand behind her along the taffrail to disguise his thumb running against her back. “Are you scared?”

“No, just a little nervous since you are the only one that knows what you’re walking into with these people, not I.”

Jon pressed his lips together. “I think you might be surprised by their reaction to you.”

“What do you mean by that? Because I’m a woman among men of the Night’s Watch?”

“No, not that. Tormund said there is a legend among some of the Free Folk clans about a silver haired woman who will take them to the other side of the Wall.” Jon picked up the large braid that was over her shoulder and put it back in its place against the light furs of the cloak. “You fit the description. Tormund says it should spark some interest about coming with us.”

Daenerys processed what Jon was telling her with a slight furrowing of her eyebrows, eyes wider than usual. “Is that why you brought me?”

“Partially,” he admitted to. “But mostly because I feel better with you by my side. I know where you are, that you’re unharmed.”

Daenerys looked a bit put off by his words. “Why didn’t you tell me this before? That I’m supposed to play this part to this legend.”

“No,” Jon started. “I’m not asking that. You don’t have to do anything to convince them of this legend that came from some vision ages ago.”

“A vision?” she questioned.

Jon refocused her. “Are you mad at me?”

She looked the other way, wind whipping wisps of hair backwards. “No.”

Jon sighed. “That doesn’t sound very convincing.”

“I just wish I had known beforehand that I’m going to be stepping off this boat to a bunch of Wildlings looking at me thinking I’m this silver haired woman that will take them to the other side of the Wall. A little more notice would have been nice.”

“I don’t think they’ll quite be thinking that,” Jon eased into. “If anything, your presence will make them a little more willing to come back with the Night’s Watch members. They are not going to be looking to replace Mance Rayder with you. Believe me, they’ll be skeptical of all of us outsiders walking onto their territory. The plan is to make them a little more open minded about their options.”

“So I heard,” Dany replied.

Uh oh.

He was going to be sleeping alone if he didn’t rectify the situation.  He was seeing the error he had made in its true light.

“You can stay on the ship the whole time,” he offered, “if you’re that mad at me.”

She softened up a bit. “No, I want to be able to say I stepped foot beyond the Wall. And aided in convincing Wildlings to come with us. However, I do expect a little more inclusion on the details in the future.”

Jon stepped to her side, looked around, and in seeing no one nearby, hooked an arm across her stomach to hold her waist, pulling her closer, pressing his lips to her cheek. “I promise, and I’m sorry,” he apologized quickly. “You’re right, I should have told you before we even left. I didn’t mean to be keeping it from you like it was a secret.”

“I forgive you, just don’t make the same mistake twice.”

“Never,” he promised.

 “It’s a bit interesting, isn’t it, though?”

“What is?”

“That there is this legend of a silver haired woman bringing the Wildlings to the other side of the Wall, and that is exactly what is going to happen…hopefully.”

Jon thought about it in that context. It would be a legend come true.

“Odd,” he commented.

“Oddly specific, given the rarity of my traits.” She grinned to herself, then joked, “They didn’t happen to mention anything about violet eyes, did they?”

“No, just the hair color.”

Up above, the sails flailed in the wind, the ship picking up some speed. Daenerys breathed in the salty sea air coming off the freezing water temperatures, staring up at the stag sigil of a House that no longer existed.

“Is it terrible of me to not like being on a ship with Baratheon sails?”

“No, I’d hate being on a ship with Lannister or Bolton sails. I understand how it must feel for you, but it’s what we have for now.”

“I know, I just wanted to tell you my thoughts.” Daenerys looked around at the ship. “It feels like such a long time ago that I was on a ship headed to Castle Black all the way from Dorne. It felt like we were on the water for an eternity. I was nervous then, thinking about what you might be like, what you might do with me when I arrived.” There was a small smirk that he saw, even though it came and went quickly. “I’m sure you can imagine all that I had to learn before I arrived. The Sand Snakes wanted to make sure that I was well prepared.

Jon swallowed. “I remember getting the scroll from Tywin Lannister telling me that you were coming. I remember you coming through the gates and I thought my heart was going to stop beating.” He smiled at the ground. “Sometimes I still look at you and think my heart is going to stop beating.”

Daenerys toyed with the ring on her finger. “Is that so?”

“Entirely.”

“Well, tell me, if your hearts stops beating, whatever would I do then?”

Down below, the cabin was on the more spacious side. The bed was about the same size as Jon had grown used to, enough for two. The wood looked to be cherry, dark and polished. Daenerys sat down with a huff.

“Will it only be a few days to Hardhome?”

“As long as the weather cooperates. If visibility becomes an issue, we’ll have to slow down, but I don’t think that will be an issue just yet.”

Daenerys dug her hands into the furs at the edge of the bed, pulling it up and over her lap. She wasn’t cold, that was certain, just wanted to be cozy. As Jon went to close the door, Ghost snuck in.

“Ghost,” Dany called.

His direwolf headed over to sit by her feet, accepting a head scratch, placing his large head onto her lap.  

“I think he prefers you over me now,” Jon commented with a smirk.

“No,” she denied right away. “But if you ever happen to stumble upon another direwolf pup, I’d surely take one.”

Jon sat down next to Dany, adding to the hands on Ghost, stroking his fur. “Sometimes I wonder if he feels the same as I did when I lost my siblings. I imagine Ghost might be the only one left out of the litter…”

“It’s hard not knowing. There’s no certainty.”

“I sometimes dream about being a direwolf, almost as if I’m seeing the world through Ghost’s eyes, running around in the woods, free. Do you think that’s strange?”

“No.” Dany’s hand ran down Ghost’s back. “I sometimes dream of dragons, three of them, always three. I’m riding one into the clouds, and sometimes my brothers are there in the dreams too.”

“Your brothers,” Jon repeated. “I’ve been thinking of a way to tell you this, but I’ll just say it. When Tyrion was here he mentioned that Viserys died of a disease in Essos.”

“A disease,” she repeated, skeptical. “The kind contracted from poison, perhaps?”

Jon grimaced, as he had thought the same. “You can’t put anything behind the Lannisters. They always find a way to get rid of their enemies, even the youngest ones that threaten their power.”

Daenerys shifted towards Jon, pulling her legs all the way up onto the furs once Ghost sank to the ground to lay. She took on a more submissive voice when she started asking, “You never talk much about growing up, your siblings. What was it like?”

Jon swallowed the lump in his throat that immediately formed. He bent over to unlace his boots, feeling the tightness in his chest.

“Have I upset you?”

“No,” Jon replied in a mumble. He laid down on the bed, head hitting the pillow. “Memories aren’t always easy.”

Not when a lot of guilt was tied with them.

Daenerys twisted so she was facing him, picking up his hand with both of hers. “You were a good brother. I can tell.”

“And yet nearly all my siblings are dead. I wouldn’t say I was a good brother. If I had been a good brother, I would have died along with them, along with Robb, at least, helping him.”

“I doubt they would share that thought. They would be happy you’re here, that you’re doing some good.”

Jon offered a small smile. “Maybe. Sometimes I wonder what Arya would say. I bet she would like to be here too, going past the Wall, talking to Wildlings, fighting dead men. She would have loved it.”

“Oh?” Dany cooed. “She would have liked this sort of activity?”

“I’d say she was a lot more like the Dornish than any Lady you might come across in other parts of Westeros. Always playing rough, never minded the dirt that would get on her, and hated wearing dresses. She spoke her mind, even if it got her into trouble.”

In a whisper, Dany said, “I wish I could have met her. She sounds like another Sand Snake to me.”

“Tell me what it was like growing up with them,” he prompted, curious, but also needing to shift away from the thoughts of little Arya.

Daenerys sighed loudly at the request, but went on anyways. “For the most part, I was happy to be there with them. As we aged, it sometimes got complicated. They all have a temper, some more controlled than others. Tyene can lash out when she’s angry. Believe me, she has a sharp tongue. I remember one time she said to me you’re not one of us,” she told him. Even then, Daenerys winced. “It was mostly a joke, really, but it stuck with me, always. I was different from them and there was no hiding that. Sometimes I was jealous that they blended in so easily and I was always...different. Light skin, light hair, light eyes. Everyone knew who I was.”

Jon got ready to share his own secrets.

“I was jealous of Robb. My whole life I was jealous. He had everything I wanted. He was the Heir to Winterfell and the North. All the girls loved him. Theon and I fought for his attention. He was great at everything he did, and caught the attention of my father. And he had a mother who loved him. Then there was me, the bastard, the complication in the family.” Jon went quiet for a moment. “Now Robb is dead, Winterfell is in the hands of the Boltons, my father is dead, and so is Lady Catelyn and her other trueborn children, apart from Sansa, who is held captive in the capital. There’s nothing left.”

“I’m sorry,” Dany whispered.

Jon squeezed her hand. “And here I am, alive, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch with Daenerys Targaryen at my side. How did everything become so twisted? How did I end up being the lucky one? It shouldn’t have been that way. It wasn’t supposed to be that way.”

He could see it in her eyes that Dany could feel his pain. He had revealed a lot in only a few sentences, but it was enough for her to get a better look into his life, into his past. Daenerys shifted onto her stomach, feet kicked up in the air behind her, heels crossed at the ankles. “You can’t blame yourself.”

“I can.”

“You shouldn’t. The Lannisters and the Boltons will get what’s coming for them.”

Jon sighed, deepening his head into the pillow, staring up at the wood that lined the room. “Or maybe they’ll thrive and remain untouched.”

Daenerys shook her head, bringing his gaze back to her. There was a new look in her eyes, a fiery one. “No, they won’t.”

“And how do you know that?” he nudged her playfully, trying to lighten up the atmosphere. “Don’t tell me you’re having visions now too.”

Dany giggled and laid her head down to rest on his chest, head moving up and down with his steady breaths. “Just a feeling.” After a few minutes of quiet between them, she asked another question. “Do you ever think about going back to Winterfell?”

“I try not to think about it, but sometimes I’m there in the wolf dreams.”

“I think of Dragonstone often. I thought maybe when I was older I would see if Tyene and Nymeria would come with me, if I would be allowed to go. I wanted to see my home, where I was born. I’ll never get to see it, to sleep within its walls, or see the caves and the beaches. I guess it’s better to have never gone than to have and then know I can’t return. There’s nothing to miss, only an image made up in my mind.” Daenerys tilted her head up met Jon’s eyes. “Castle Black is my home now. Our home. I’m going to try not to think about anywhere else.”

Jon shook his head. “You have to remember the past in order to move forward into the future. I am who I am in part because of where I was raised, just as you are.”

They became silent again, laid out there on the bed, feeling the rocking of the ship. Her hand smoothed over his bare chest, settling over his sternum, fingers spread out wide, heart beating beneath.

Her place, Jon thought.

When they pulled into the harbor and the anchors went overboard, keeping them tied to the sandy bottom, Jon was on the deck. He could see them all out there, the temporary village that had formed by remaining Wildlings, all together despite their differences. Little huts and fire pits were in abundance. As all the bodies of moving people were pulling into groups to discuss the ships that had arrived, Jon’s nerves kicked in.

The chill was far fiercer there at Hardhome. From the ship, he could see that thin ice had formed around the shoreline. He remembered being out beyond the Wall, the snow and ice that covered every visible surface. It was a land of white, gray, and black, nearly no other colors.

Edd came to his side, staring at the gathering crowds. “This is going to be a show,” he said out of the side of his mouth.

“Indeed, but hopefully it will go smoother than expected.”

As he exchanged over the bag of dragonglass, Edd casually mentioned, “This might be a bad time to point this out, but you’ve lost your mind if you think this is going to go anywhere other than to shit.”

Jon chuckled. “You’re ruining my optimistic outlook on this whole situation.”

“Don’t let him do that,” Dany’s voice called as she stepped up onto the deck, pulling on her white gloves.

Jon stared at her outfit. Her white cloak was still on, though she wore breeches and what looked like a black dress of hers that had been seared off mid-thigh with some scissors, belted at the waist. Her sword was at her side, looking like she could handle herself.

“Well, I’m going to go…elsewhere,” Edd excused himself to give them some privacy.

When Dany came up, Jon rattled the bag of dragonglass before opening it. He dipped his hand inside and pulled out a dagger. “Here. Keep one with you.”

Daenerys took the dragonglass shaved into a sharp point. She examined it, flipping it from side to side, admiring the color and smoothness. “This is supposed to kill wights?” she asked, doubting that claim.

“We know it does. Sam killed a White Walker with dragonglass.”

“Sam?” she asked in disbelief.

“Aye, to protect Gilly and her son.”

She looked back down at the dragonglass. “What’s so special about it?”

He shrugged his shoulder. “Your guess is as good as another.”

“Interesting.”

As the row boats got lowered into the water, Jon commented. “Edd is right. It might all go to shit when we arrive,” he warned.

“It might,” she repeated softly. “But I’ll be right here with you if it does. We will figure it out.”

“No,” he said firmly, “if things go bad out there, I need you to get back to a ship.”

Daenerys rolled her eyes. “And go where? Back to Castle Black?”

“No, somewhere else. Wherever you want. Dorne. Dragonstone. Essos.”

She snorted. “If things go bad? Do you mean if you die?”

“Yes,” he said quietly. “If things get volatile…”

She stared at him with a look in her eyes, one similar to the previous night. “If you were to die, I wouldn’t flee, I’d stick around long enough to kill the one who killed you.”

He grabbed her at the waist and pulled in her tight. Say it, he told himself, it might be your last chance.

The words were there, at the tip of his tongue, aching to come off. Still, he couldn’t quite manage it. Jon was afraid to admit it, to see her reaction. Instead, he let her pull away once she gave him a quick peck to the lips. As they began to board the row boats to head ashore, he regretted not saying he loved her, but made a promise to himself that it would get said.

The crowds had gathered even more so as the row boats had deployed and headed towards them. Daenerys was right there by his side, sitting down in the boat, watching as they got closer and closer, Ghost behind them in the boat

When the time came and with a deep breath in, he took the first step onto the shore.

Chapter Text

Jon

There was nothing but silence, eyes sealed on their small group that landed ashore.

The four most valuable things to Jon were closest to him: Daenerys, Longclaw, Ghost, and the bag of dragonglass. Jon felt the tension in every step as they walked closer inland, Jon and Tormund leading the way.

He threw a couple glances back at Daenerys, sandwiched between Edd and Ser Davos as they walked. She had that sword of hers, even though they had only practiced with it a couple times before they left. Still, she was decent enough that he felt comfortable. The dagger he gave her would be a much easier weapon, if needed.

As Tormund came to a stop, Jon did too, halting everyone behind them. There came a voice from the pack of Wildlings propelling towards them down an open path. They didn’t look so friendly, Jon’s hand twitching at his side, a reflex, him trying not to grab the grip of Longclaw. Ghost sensed the possible danger too, a low growl coming out of him.

Tormund?”

A Wildling man shoved his way through the initial group that formed in a crescent around Jon’s group, their backs open to the sea. Jon recognized him immediately. One who wore a skull across his face and bones down his chest was never forgotten.

As discussed, Tormund would take the lead in the initial meetings between the sides. “Lord of Bones, we have much to discuss. It would be wise to find a place to talk with the elders.”

“You have no right to bark orders at us.”

Tormund’s nostrils flared as he tried to stay calm. “It wasn’t an order. Don’t be foolish. You’ll want to hear what we have to say.”

“We?” he laughed, anger slipping through easily. The skull piece that surrounded his face shifted as Lord of Bones turned up his nose. He spit to the ground. “You consider yourself a Crow now? One of them?”

Tormund’s eyes turned cold, knowing it was turning into a fight. “I’m not a Crow. What I am is a member of the Free Folk trying to save my people. You might consider it wise to step aside.”

Your people,” he sneered back. “You are nothing to us. Nothing. We will not—”

Tormund acted quicker than Jon thought possible as he grabbed ahold of both Lord of Bones’ shoulders and slammed his forehead into his face. When his body was slammed onto the ground for the disrespect, it was with so much force that Jon was certain that the skull covering most of his face must have fractured from that impact alone. Tormund delivered three punches, the skull piece shattering. There was no more movement form the Lord of Bones, he only laid there face down in the snow, not another word coming from him or anyone else.

Unconscious? Jon wondered. Dead?

Burn the body.

“I’ll repeat myself one more time. Gather the elders,” Tormund said, wild, but smooth toned at the same time.

There was a brief moment where everyone looked at the person next to them before they started to walk further inward, away from the shoreline. It were as if nothing had happened.

Jon looked over his shoulder at Daenerys who had to watch the whole violent interaction. He tried to give her a reassuring look with his eyes when she noticed Jon, but he wasn’t certain that it did anything. It had been a surprising display to everyone, even the Free Folk, who had looked on with wide eyes.

Tormund was pleased, telling them, “Let’s go.”

Tormund led the way and they all followed. After the display, Jon hung back from Tormund, taking Dany’s left side. Ser Davos, Edd, Ghost, and the rest of the brothers were all trailing behind.

They walked through the crowd, and just as Tormund had said, the Wildlings were taking notice of Daenerys as they all moved to make room for them. Jon couldn’t believe the sight, that Tormund had been right all along, that the Free Folk believed in legends like the silver haired woman one. Some looked entranced, others not so much. There was a wide span of varying reactions, all unique.

Neutrality.

Suspicion.

Curiosity.

And then…hope. That was the easiest to spot.

There was an old woman off to the side, a blanket around her arms, who looked like she had seen one of the rumored Winterfell ghosts, captivated by Daenerys. The eeriness of it all brought on a skin prickling sensation to Jon.

Out of the crowd rose up a giant, Wun Wun, as Jon immediately recognized. Dany’s head tilted back as she watched the massive being, her pace slowing. She looked up at Wun Wun in a similar way Jon had the first time. The only difference was that Dany was more fascinated than nervous. Jon placed his hand on her back to encourage her to keep up with the rest.

“That’s a giant,” she whispered to him. She then stressed, “A giant.”

“Aye, it is.” He repeated the advice told to him the first time he had encountered a giant. “Try not to stare. They don’t like that.”

She made a face. “Well, too be fair, he was staring at me first.”

“I don’t think you want to make that argument with a giant.”

Dany lifted her chin. “I’d give it a try.”

The scary part was that she would probably win too.

Behind them, Ser Davos took notice of Wun Wun and mentioned to Edd, “You don’t see that every day.”

“If all goes well, you might have to get used to it,” he replied.

Tormund led them into a large hut towards the side of the mountain. They waited in there until a group of people who Jon had never seen before all filed in one by one, circling around the room until the last one entered.

There was a lot of tension hanging in the air, a lot of negative feelings that Jon could feel coming off of the Free Folk, standing there waiting for him to start speaking. He wondered if Tormund felt the same, as he was also getting looks of contempt. A Free Folk member siding with a Crow—it was basically treason to them.

Jon looked at every face he could before he started. “My name is Jon Snow and I am the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. We have come here with a purpose. The White Walkers have returned. They march south, taking every living thing with them. No doubt they will come here to collect all of you, turning you into another slave in the Night King’s dead army.” Jon took a breath. “We came here, because we need your help in killing them. Making peace is the only way to do that.”

A Wildling woman with bright blue eyes, dark hair, and shells decorating her attire stepped forward. “I’m Karsi, and I know enough to understand you can only run from White Walkers. There is no killing them, and even if they have returned, why would we even believe you?”

“Why would I be here if not for this?”

It was a fair enough question.

Karsi searched for an answer, thrown off by his response. When no one else came to a conclusion, she said, “You cannot kill a White Walker.”

Jon nodded to Edd as he handed over the leather bag filled with dragonglass. At first, when Edd moved, the Free Folk became tense, alerted, but Edd was careful enough as he kept his distance while he held the bag at the handles for Karsi to take. When she snatched it out of Edd’s grasp, she looked inside, eyes narrowing with confusion.

“Dragonglass kills them,” Jon announced. “One of my brothers killed a White Walker with one. If we have enough of it…then we have chance.”

“Where did you find this dragonglass?” Karsi asked, still looking at the blade.

“It was buried in the snow, under the ice,” Jon replied. “Another brother of the Night’s Watch must have put it there long ago.”

A few people moved closer to look at the dagger Karsi had in her hands.

“I’ve heard of dragonglass before,” she started. Then, with less spite, she questioned, “What do you want with us?”

 “To fight with us. Come with us on those ships and we’ll give you safe passage to the other side of the Wall. There will be plenty of room in the North around the Wall for you to settle. When winter turns to spring, there will be farmland. You can grow crops, livestock, build permanent homes. You can all have a life there.”

They were listening, these Wildlings who were persistently stubborn, looked to actually be considering what was being said.

“It was what Mance would have wanted, the future that he saw, and we can make sure that you have it.”

A tall Thenn, who Tormund had mentioned to Jon previously, stepped forward, axe in hand. “Mance,” Loboda repeated. The breath he breathed out was visible. “What happened to him? You talk of him as if he is no longer here.” Loboda’s face did not change, eyes still cutting through Jon. “What happened?”

Jon froze up, staring at the floor briefly. He glanced over at Ghost beside him. He knew they would not like the answer, but it needed to be said. He would not lie to them. Mance was dead and there was no changing that.

“One of the southern Kings wasn’t happy about him not bending the knee and condemned him to be burned to death.”

There were instant murmurs that went around, from the shock. No matter who it was, Free Folk, Crow, Lady, Lord, and everyone throughout the hierarchy, reacted the same way to learning of such a fate.

“Not a pretty sight,” Jon started, hesitant, but had to get the full truth out, “and he didn’t deserve that. I put an arrow through him for the flames touched him.”

There were gasps, a few murmurs of angry threats, and Loboda’s jaw set, Jon hearing the grinding of his teeth.

“A quick death,” Karsi muttered, not only to herself, but to the others around her.

Jon remembered the feeling of letting the arrow go. “Aye.”

“It was brave what Jon did,” Tormund announced to the group. “Defying a King, he could have suffered the same fate. He did it for Mance, for him to not suffer. He showed mercy. Jon, Crow or not, is a leader, the kind we could use in a time like this. The dead come for us all.”

“In a time like this?” Loboda challenged.

Ser Davos spoke up. “We’ve all seen things. I myself have seen a lot of things in my time, war, starvation, children living in the streets…Kings who have risen and fallen, but never men who die and reanimate into soldiers. Right now, that is what is happening. What I can tell you is that I believe in what Jon says about what is out there. We all do. And I wouldn’t want to be out here when they come.”

Ser Davos seemed to strike a chord with some of the Free Folk, a few more whispers being passed around.

Jon began to address the group again. “And what is out there will come. Here. There’s no escape unless you board those boats and come back with us.”

Daenerys stepped to his side, shoulder bumping his. “The life you have here, it will all be gone. There will be nothing left. You’ll watch your children die, your parents, your siblings, and then the dead will come for you too. I imagine it might be the worst fate of all, your home under attack, the people you love dying in front of your eyes and there will be nothing you can do but wait to be next.”

Jon gauged the crowd, judging that most must have children of their own, given their age, and given the expressions that played out on their faces.

He looked over at Dany, stemming off of where she was leading. “But, there is another option. That’s why we are here.”

“And who are you?” Loboda asked Daenerys, looking her up and down. “You’re not a Crow.”

Daenerys didn’t miss a beat. “Someone who came a long way when I didn’t have to in order to try and make you all see that leaving is the best option you’ve got.”

He wasn’t pleased with the answer, but others seemed to be softening up. Loboda looked around, even more unhappy with the consensus.

“We’re trusting Crows now? They are the enemy.” Loboda coldly said, loudly to the group.

He walked over, but he took one step too close to Dany, and Jon stepped to the side to put himself in between Loboda and Daenerys. Ghost got up from his sitting position, watching Jon’s movements carefully, waiting. The look Jon gave the Thenn was not a friendly one, a warning. His hand flexed at his side, not grabbing his sword because he knew it might set off a chain reaction.

“Who would in their sane mind trust a Crow?” he asked, rhetorically, so close to Jon that he could feel his breath on his face. He looked over at Ghost and scoffed, “Especially a Crow who keeps a wild animal that belongs on this side of the Wall as a prisoner.”

Companion,” he corrected the language. “I’ve had him since he was just born. Saved him, actually, from death that would have been certain without a mother there to feed him.”

Loboda didn’t blink. “With fur like that, he would make for a nice rug.”

Anger built inside Jon at the remark. He was not about to back down, his boots locked into the wooden floor. Even as a Thenn, Loboda did not scare Jon. He had killed a Thenn once and he could do it again if prompted. Or even better, Ghost would do it for him.

Jon smirked daringly. “You may want to choose your words carefully. Ghost doesn’t take threats lightly. He has already killed a few men recently...he won’t hesitate to add another to the list.”

Tormund intervened before anything got more heated. “Who would trust a Crow? I would,” Tormund called out.

Loboda turned his attention to Tormund. “Fool.”

Enough,” Karsi said through her teeth. “I’m fucking tired of hearing this. No one likes the situation any of us are in. Deal with it. ” She looked at Jon. “If all this is true, then we’re fucked. Staying would be foolish, leaving might be foolish. We have to make a decision either way.”

“We wouldn’t have come all this way to deceive you.” Daenerys stepped forward and interjected into the conversation. She addressed the group, looking at everyone as she spoke. “You have to come with us or you’ll die. I don’t want that to happen. We don’t want that to happen. The only way to save yourselves is to board those ships out in the harbor and sail with us back past the Wall and to safety. Together we can fight the enemy.”

“Fierce for such a little girl,” mentioned Karsi.

The little girl comment struck a nerve with Dany. Jon could see the spark in her eyes. “It comes from the dragonblood in my veins.”

“Dragonblood,” Karsi repeated, dismissive. Her head turned to Tormund, almost irritated. “Have you been feeding them things to say?”

“What are you talking about?” Daenerys demanded.

Tormund shook his head. “Her family ruled Westeros for hundreds of years.” His eyebrows lifted on his forehead for emphasis as he said, “Riding dragons.”

Karsi shifted her attention back to Daenerys, looking her up and down with a raised, wild eyebrow. “Dragons,” she muttered, low enough that only those close to her would have heard it. “Is that true?”

“Yes, it is.”

She turned her head over her shoulder and beckoned two younger Wildlings towards the entrance. “Go and get them.”

Two men left the tent and came back minutes later after everyone had waited in silence, exchanging looks. As they came back, the two men carried a wooden box with rope as handles. As it got thudded down onto the ground, it was clear what was inside surrounded by furs, shells, and clear colored rocks.

Dragon eggs. 

“Are those…?” he found himself starting to ask, but did not finish the sentence.

Out of all the unexpected things that could have happened, Wildlings thudding a box of stone dragon eggs onto the ground before them by far took the lead. It was so unexpected, that Jon was thrown off, not sure what to say or what to do.

Daenerys was drawn to them immediately, crossing over to the box with permission of the Free Folk, one holding out his hand, encouraging examination. Dany sunk to the ground, to her knees, before the crate. Her fingers dragged over the scales, utterly transfixed. Even Jon found it fascinating. He stretched his neck to take a better look as the wind flapped the entrance material away to bring some light in.

One egg was jet black, small silver markings on outer edges. The second egg was purely deep green, the third being nearly all cream with sprinkles of gold, some larger than others.

It was rumored that dragons had laid eggs in the frozen land hundreds of years ago. A myth, Jon had thought, what everyone had thought, but clearly it was a truth. He wondered what else that he had passed off as a myth was true.

It took Jon a prolonged moment to realize that the room had remained quiet. He briefly let his eyes travel, not moving his head, to see that everyone else was watching Daenerys. The older woman that Jon had seen outside earlier entered the tent, slowly, as she was in a frail state. She had the same blanket she wore around her shoulders, long, thin fingers holding it together at her chest.

“Faylara, too, sees visions,” Tormund explained lowly as he leaned in to whisper the information. “She is the oldest Free Folk. Nearly one hundred, as she says.”

She approached Daenerys as she rose up from the ground. Dany shot Jon a look before focusing back on the elderly woman who stood in front of Daenerys, several inches shorter. She brought her thin, wrinkled hands up to Dany’s cheeks, looking intensely as her. Jon became uncomfortable, taking a step towards her, watching the woman closely if she were to try anything.

Tormund stopped him, letting it all play out. Jon realized Faylara had no ill intentions. She was looking for something in Daenerys, and found whatever it was.

As she gasped, it seemed to alert everyone in the room. “There is fire in you,” she said to Daenerys. “Fire.”

She walked over to Jon next, eyeing him too. She glanced down at his sword before turning to the rest. “The boy is right. We must leave.” 

There were murmurs of agreement, some more reluctant than others, but all seemed to be falling into the same mindset.

“If we want to survive, we must shake hands with our enemy in order to fight a worse enemy,” Karsi announced.

“Night is falling,” Tormund said, jumping in. “We can begin leaving at first light. Pack your belonging and be ready.”

Jon was standing side by side with Edd looking out at the sea, the clouds that formed over the ocean reflecting the same color. Bleak gray. Nothing more.

“Well, it didn’t all go to shit,” he muttered.

Jon sighed in relief. “No, it didn’t.”

And we’ve still got all our limbs on. I’d say went far better than expected. I’m shocked. Thought I might be dead already.”

“Had your hopes up for an easy death?” Jon teased.

Edd appreciated the humor. “Aye, put me out of my cold misery. No luck, though. Still here, still freezing my balls off. Same as usual.”

They watched the ships swaying in the wind, the waters rougher than when they arrived earlier that day. Another storm was coming, that they could sense. Spend a long enough time in the North, and they could tell when the weather was shifting, even in the slightest bit. By that evening, both Edd and Jon were squinting due to the winds that were picking up, their eyes watering from the icy coldness, braving the numb feeling in their faces.

“Get some sleep,” Jon told him. “Try to get warm.”

“Aye, and you also. Tomorrow will be a long day.”

Edd disappeared into the groups of tents and huts all put together to find a place to bed down with the other brothers until morning came. Jon wasn’t quite ready yet. There was a feeling that Jon was getting, a sense that something wasn’t quite right. There was a tense feeling inside him, his chest closed off. He chalked it up to being in a foreign place, surrounded by people who might try to kill him in his sleep. Jon glanced around, night falling, and most were winding down, packing up their belongings, nothing but packs outside the tents.

It had worked, and that was a thought that soothed him. The Free Folk were packing up, going to board the ships, and sail back to East Watch.

In the midst of thinking about the luck, Jon caught Daenerys walking through the tents. She bent over next to a tent the housed two young children playing, talking to them. The Wildling girl handed over an object to show it off, a figure comprised of sticks and cloth.

“You should stop looking at her like that.”

Jon turned to see Tormund strolling up beside him. He glanced over to Daenerys, then back to Jon.

“Like what?”

Tormund chuckled, shaking his head. “Like you want to fuck her.”

Jon frowned and straightened his head back out to sea. “Is it obvious?” he mumbled.

“Yes,” Tormund laughed again, a deep belly laugh.

Great.

They began to walk together toward the tents.

“Woman know when you look at them that way. They are perceptive.”

Jon gave Tormund a look, surprised by the vocabulary he was using. “Go to sleep, tomorrow brings a lot of work.”

Jon departed from Tormund, first talking to the brothers that came with them about the following day’s plan, then weaved through the crowded tents to get to one that was given to him for the night. Better to show solidarity and sleep there with the Free Folk than in the ship cabins.

Jon pulled away the flap to find Daenerys there, all cuddled under some furs the Wildlings provided.

“There you are,” she murmured. “I’ve been waiting.”

Jon motioned for Ghost as he wandered over. “Come on.”

He looked at Jon momentarily, the fur around his face blowing as he tilted his head the other way, instead deciding to stand guard outside the tent. He circled around in his spot a few revolutions before he laid down. With all his fur, Ghost would be just fine out in the open, so Jon hooked the flap into the stake placed into the ground to keep the wind out.

“He won’t come in?”

“No, must be more comfortable out there keeping watch.” Jon looked around at the small space. “Not as if there is much room for him in here.”

Jon had to admit, even he felt more comfortable with Ghost right outside, there to alert him if anything was wrong.

“Tell me, what’s your impression so far?”

Daenerys shifted from her side and flattened onto her back. “They’re not what I expected.”

Jon sat down onto his side of the tent, where another set of furs was set up, moving the metal holder with a candle burning in the middle off to the side. “How so?”

“I’ve heard some stories about them, and the hatred that is felt at Castle Black…I didn’t expect the Free Folk to be so normal, just like everyone else. They have children, they settle down together, have their own set of rules and leadership. They are just trying to survive. The only difference is that they are on the other side of the Wall.”

Jon paused, taking that in. It was a shared idea between them, and he was happy she had come to that conclusion. He knew she would. That was who Dany was.

“Those are my thoughts too. It wasn’t always, but I see it now.”

“Not many will ever see it that way.”

“Maybe in time…”

It was a far-fetched dream, but there was the possibility that overtime, people of Westeros would see the Wildlings as just that—people of Westeros.

“Perhaps.” Daenerys rolled onto her side again to face him, bringing her knees up to her chest. “Those eggs they have,” she started, “how long do you think they’ve been up here?”

“Hundreds of years, at least. We know that for certain.”

“I know, but when do you think they would have been laid?” Her eyebrows drew together, puzzled, but entirely consumed by the thoughts. “What dragon would go all the way North to lay the eggs? Why did they petrify and not hatch? Why did the Wildlings keep them all this time? What use would they be?”

Daenerys’ habit of asking questions that Jon didn’t know how to answer was becoming more and more frequent.

“I wish I could tell you.”

“They’re beautiful, aren’t they? The eggs. Even after all this time, they’re marvelous.”

“Yes,” he agreed, “entirely.”

“A shame they never hatched.” Daenerys ran her nail over her bottom lip, deep in thought. “They would have been beautiful.”

“You’re beautiful,” he found himself saying, sliding that into their conversation with ease.

She smiled, tilting her face down to hide it halfway into the furs. “You’re too nice to me. Too good.”

“No,” he denied outright. “I think I’m not good enough. Not a Lord of some castle where I can give you a wonderful life.”

“You are a Lord of castle,” she refuted, pointing out the flaw to his statement. “Castle Black still counts, Lord Commander.”

He shook his head. “You know that isn’t what I mean. Castle Black isn’t Winterfell. It isn’t what you deserve.”

Daenerys sighed, “You won’t ever understand, will you?”

“What?”

“That I can be happy with where I’m at now, with you, at Castle Black, even in the current state.”

It was true. For Jon, it was difficult to understand. Castle Black was nothing grand, and neither was Jon, but Daenerys, who had been born a Princess, seemed to find both as fitting enough for her.

They dropped the subject entirely, neither feeling like talking of it any further—a discussion for another night.

Jon looked down at the bed made up for him and thought about having to sleep in his boots, as uncomfortable as it was, just to keep warm. Frozen toes turned black would make it difficult to be a Lord Commander. Jon glanced over his shoulder at Daenerys snuggled up, her boots and outwear all taken off and lined up along the side of the tent. She was plenty warm.

When she caught him examining her, she inquired, “Cold?”

Jon huffed, his face having not even thawed out yet. “A little.”

She shifted over with a grin. “Don’t sleep so far away then. Come here.”

He did as he was told and ignored the sleeping area meant for him. Jon unlaced his boots and shoved his body into the space that was left, instantly absorbing the heat she gave off. He sunk down and pressed his lips into her shoulder to warm up. Daenerys didn’t even flinch.

“Have I mentioned how envious I am of this warmth you always feel?”

Daenerys giggled. “It’s like you said, a good trait to have this far North.”

“Indeed. Maybe Faylara is right and you do have fire in you.”

Something in Dany’s eyes changed. “Melisandre said something similar to me before we left, about having fire.”

“What did she say?” he asked, needing to know the specifics.

“She said the Lord of Light will lead you to fire, fire that you will use soon. The flames don’t lie. Fire melts stone and enemies all the same.”

Jon’s jaw tensed. He was finding it harder to dismiss the words that were being said by these women claiming to see visions—women who had never met, yet sounded similar.

“Jon?”

He twisted his head back to Daenerys, finding that he had zoned out. “What?”

She panned her palm over his forehead, sweeping curls out of the way. “You did great today. They were listening. You’re a true leader.”

The praise took him by surprise, but it felt good coming from Daenerys. If from anyone else, he probably would have dismissed it.

“It was you too,” he pointed out. “They were listening to you and all watching you with those eggs. I’ve never seen any Free Folk so captivated.”

“Loboda wasn’t so captivated.”

Jon snorted and shook his head in a dismissive manner. “Don’t think about him. Thenns are like that.”

“Oh? Not ones to smile?”

“Not unless they are coming at you with an axe. Not a smile you want to see,” he commented, remembering the Battle of Castle Black and Styr.

“I imagine not.” Daenerys leaned in. “I need to tell you something, but I need you to not think I’m losing my mind.”

“I wouldn’t think that.”

“Don’t be so sure of that.” Dany pressed her full lips together, hesitating before she said, “The eggs, when I touched them, they didn’t feel cold, not like stone would. They felt warm, like the center was heated.”

Jon didn’t have a response to that right away.

She pulled away. “You think I’m an idiot.”

“No,” he half laughed, looping an arm over her, pulling her back closer. “Not at all. You’re certain they felt warm?”

“Yes,” she said with conviction. “How do you explain that?”

There was no explanation, at least nothing on Jon’s level that he would be able to offer. “I can’t,” he ultimately said.

“Neither can I.” Dany shifted around, getting comfortable. “Are you warmer now?”

“Yes.”

“Lucky you, having a woman to always warm you up,” She leaned in even further, whispering in his ear, “I can warm you up even more.”

A shiver ran down his arms as she teased him. Daenerys slipped a leg up and along his abdomen, bringing it over to the other side, bringing her body up to sit there. Dany pulled slowly at the strings of her cloth tunic she would sleep in as he laid there at her mercy, taking it all in, slowly feeling himself harden to the sight of more skin becoming visible.

With the laces loose enough, Dany pulled the material up and over her shoulders, upper half completely bare. It was the first time he had seen her that way. He was as entranced with her as Daenerys had been with the eggs. Jon sighed gently, curiously feeling the weight of her full breasts, moving his thumbs around to lightly stroke the skin. Daenerys pulled her hair loose from the braid, shaking it out, waves falling down to nearly her waist.

His lower half shifted, uncomfortable with the pressure against the breeches.

Daenerys looked to be so comfortable half bare in front of him that he automatically became jealous. He blurted out, “Have you been with many men before?”

She raised an eyebrow at him.

He immediately wanted to yank his tongue out of his mouth. It was a rude question to ask. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked that,” he immediately apologized, cringing at his mistake.

“Have I been with many men?” she repeated his question with a chuckle of surprise that he dared ask such a thing. She lowered her upper half to his chest, kissing him. “No. Actually, there’s been no one else, Jon. Only you.”

His mouth popped open as his hands flatted on her back, palms sliding upward towards her ribs. “Oh.”

Oh?”

He shrugged, humbled. “You just seem so natural at all this.”

Daenerys sat back up and slid her hands down his abdomen to his groin, pulling at the laces to undo them. He let her shimmy him out of his breeches and out of the rest of his clothes.

It was outside that he could hear the whistling of the wind, the battering against the tent. There was the crackling of the fires, and the crashing of the ocean landing onto the shores. The smell of snow and cold was still in the air. The candle’s light was dying out slowly, the wax dwindling down into a pool of liquid with little wick left.

It was happening then, on that night, the uncontrollable pull between them was building to a point that Jon couldn’t push her away.

“I want you,” he finally admitted without shame.

Jon sat up, his hands grabbing onto her thighs as he flipped them, pinning Dany into the furs. She liked that, he could tell by how her eyes flashed with excitement. He whimpered against her lips during the transfer as he settled between her legs, warm flesh rubbing his cock.

She ran two hands through his thick hair, forcing his eyes to hers in a brief moment of stillness. “I’m yours,” she whispered.

He released a breath onto her collarbones before dragging his lips down her sternum, leaving a wet trail. She squeezed her thighs against him when his mouth closed around her nipple—and when her back arched up against him, oh, that was good.

He kissed her roughly then, but passionately, like he could not get enough of the taste of her lips. Jon’s hands went everywhere they could, running up and down her body with newfound freedom that he had given himself.

There were many around them in their own tents, sleeping or still awake, and that was in the back of his mind…briefly. He was quiet, not letting much of anything get past his lips, keeping them busy on Dany’s body. It was no shock as time passed that he forgot all about the other people nearby. Numerous moans slipped out, especially as Dany’s hand grabbed his ass and he jerked forward.

He wanted her so badly, so desperately, that waiting a moment longer was going to make his mind lose all wits. There were a thousand other things he wanted to do to her, but he had no will, no patience. For the tenth time, his hand ran from her neck, over her breast, across her stomach, to the thigh, and then in between her legs. He could feel how warm she was, warm and wet. Daenerys squirmed when his fingers ran over her folds, feeling his way around to where her inner core was.

Gods, he could just die right there and be happy.

“Jon,” she whimpered.

To him, it translated to stop wasting time—and he had wasted enough time already.

He shifted, grabbing ahold of her thigh as he positioned himself properly. He had no idea what he was doing, but felt relaxed at the same time, feeling through the motions of what would come next. He had to glance down to make sure his placement was right, looking back up at Daenerys to watch her face as Jon eased in as gently as he could. Every inch of her that covered him more and more as he moved in further caused him to drop his jaw, breathing more rapid.

Daenerys’ fingers spread out and dug into his skin, Jon giving it one quick thrust to be fully in her. He was all the way inside her when a groan slipped out—the feeling overwhelming. Daenerys dug her fingers into his back further, sucking in a breath, her brows pulled together.

“Is it…do you want me to keep going?”

She relaxed against him, holding him close as he laid his chest back to cover hers, mostly to be close, but also because he was freezing if his bare skin was not against her.

“Yes, keep going.”

He went slow at first, but not anywhere near as graceful as he could have been. When her hands went to his sides, he found that she was using enough pressure to stabilize him there as his hips started to move faster, body begging him. Jon knew there was an erratic rhythm to his movements, growing more out of rhythm as his hips picked up in pace. Jon buried his face into her hair, unable to continue kissing her as he rocked in and out of her so quickly.

“Jon,” she whispered his name, very lightly.

That was it, he couldn’t contain himself any longer, the exploding sensation inside of him that had been building finally releasing. Jon gave himself over to Daenerys entirely, stilling as he spilled into her, letting the feeling of it consume him for a few blissful moments.

With few brief kisses, Jon relaxed and rolled off of her onto his back, legs half tangled up with hers. His body felt hot momentarily, until the chill came back over him, Daenerys bringing up the furs to cover the both of them. She laid halfway on top of him and he could feel the residual wetness on her thighs.

“I like that,” she whispered.

“What?” he asked, regaining his breath.

“You,” she smiled, “inside of me.”

There was a moment of just them looking at each other, knowing that the evening marked an important marker in their relationship. From there on out, nothing would be the same as it had before arriving at Hardhome.

Jon grinned slyly. “I liked it too.”

“I know you did,” she giggled. “That is easy to tell.”

Slowly, Jon’s smiled faded. “I didn’t mean to…” he mentioned, lost as to how to bring up the situation. “I don’t want to get you pregnant.”

“I know,” she told him, and he caught how there was a hint of sadness in her voice. She laid her head to rest on his chest. “I’ll settle it come morning,” she told him. “I’m sure the Wildlings have their own version of moon tea.”

Everything was quiet apart from the crackling of fires that would burn all night. The wind that was picking up in the distance howled around the far off mountains and trees. It was deep in the night when he had woken out of a dream, one where his whole body jolted him awake. It was good to wake up, as the dream had been him looking into glowing blue eyes that surrounded him.

Unsettled, Jon tilted his head and watched Daenerys sleep, unable to fall back into slumber himself. He didn’t feel guilty for bedding her, not one ounce of guilt. He wanted it and so did Dany. That was all that mattered, he rationalized. It was the way it was supposed to be, and it was only the beginning.

Chapter Text

Jon

The morning was easy—as easy as it could have been. Jon estimated that just over half of the Wildlings were loaded onto the ships already. It would be crowded, and Jon was beginning to realize that they may need to make another trip, but there was progress being made. Tormund said to keep loading them on, that the Free Folk would not mind even having to sleep side by side in the halls of the ship if it meant all leaving together.

“It’s a good sight,” Tormund told him, strong hand landing on Jon’s shoulder. Jon winced from the pressure. “They will be safe now.”

Jon nodded in agreement.

“Who knows, maybe some will want to join the Night’s Watch when the war against the dead is over,” Tormund remarked, half serious, half trying to lighten up the mood.

Jon smirked. “I doubt that…and that’s if we all make it when the Night King comes. If he gets past the Wall…”

“He won’t. Isn’t that what that Wall was built for? Besides, the Free Folk will fight. We will have our own army of skilled fighters.”

All Jon could hope was that it would be enough.

“I’m going to help some of the others pack up. Some who were unwilling yesterday have changed their minds.” Tormund leaned in, almost like he did not want the others around him to hear. His voice was gruff when he said, “There’s barely anything to eat out here anymore. The promise of food and hunting grounds is enough to get some moving.”

“There still many who want to stay behind,” Jon commented, dissatisfied and concerned.

Too many.

“Over half are on those ships already, maybe more. The rest, they will change their minds soon,” Tormund advised, certain. “Life here is hard. South of the Wall will be somewhat easier. They will see that and we will come back to collect the rest when they have realized it.”

The assurance that Tormund proclaimed was enough to settle Jon. He was right. Over half were on the ships, ready and willing to leave. As harsh as it was, the beginning stages of starvation would very quickly change even the Free Folk’s opinion about abandoning their territory. Jon’s only hope was that they would realize their other option sooner rather than later. The Night King was out there somewhere.

“It won’t be too much longer and we can leave,” Tormund told him. “I’ll be back.”

As Tormund moved out of the way to go get through the crowd, Jon spotted Daenerys. He saw her approaching, trudging through the snow to get to Jon. There was a heart fluttering sensation he got, remembering the previous night, but there was also the sense of home coming back to him as she approached further.

Jon had gotten up early, which meant it was the first time seeing her awake since the night. She was beautiful, as always, even after sleeping in a tent outdoors, which she was not used to. Her hair was pulled into a messy braid, having done it herself.

“Good morning,” she smiled.

He bashfully bit at his lip. “Morning. How do you feel?”

“Fine,” she shrugged contently, altering her body so she was side by side with him. “Why? Are you concerned you were too rough with me last night?”

His cheeks reddened. “No, I wasn’t thinking that.”

He looked over at Daenerys, seeing what her response might be. Jon noticed the three small shells she had tucked into her braid at the end where it was knotted, the shiny green and blue hue brought out by her light hair. She had a sly smile, which Jon found to be alluring. She was remembering their night together, as much as he was.

It was bad timing, but he was already thinking about when he could sleep with her again, to pull all her clothes off and seal his body onto hers. He had gotten a taste, and all he wanted was more.

On a bed.

With a fire going.

And not with others sleeping a few yards away, where he could take his time with her.

The thoughts were already falling together, about what he would do to Daenerys once they were alone again. His face must have shown it. Daenerys glanced to her right, catching Jon in a stare.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked, knowingly.

Jon cleared his throat and dropped his head. “Well…”

Well?” she raised an eyebrow.

“Last night was really…good.”

He could not even think of a more true descriptive word, and, unfortunately, good was all that his mind was able to conjure. It had been far better than just good.

Daenerys rolled her eyes with a grin. “Good? I could tell that much,” she teased. “Speaking of last night, I took care of it,” she then whispered.

“Took care of…?”

“The moon tea,” she clarified. “You needn’t worry.”

She said it blandly, in a way that almost made him feel guilty. She had meant nothing by it, only to inform him, yet Jon felt a sting. There was still that small part that clung to the idea of a family, the part that was supposed to be buried away, out of his mind, yet still surfaced despite his efforts to keep it locked away. He wondered what was wrong with him, that there was this inability to shut out the thought altogether. He should have forgotten it long ago, yet there it was, haunting him.

You needn’t worry.

Jon couldn’t think of anything else to say as a response. A thank you wouldn’t exactly suffice with the situation.

Instead of talking anymore, they watched the crowd, the line that formed to get onto the row boats. One by one, they all moved up as they boarded and were transported across the rough waters. Some looked a bit disgruntled, but most looked to be somewhat relieved. They would finally be headed past the Wall, to have a place to settle down, one place to call home were they could thrive. There was a sense of pride that filtered through him—Jon had did what no one else had, that being make peace with the Wildlings instead of war. Of course, he had a lot of help along the way. Jon looked over at Daenerys, who was already looking up at him.

He was overcome with a soft, warm feeling. It was the feeling he got when he thought of her, when he caught her eyes, when she smiled.

He loved her.

Simple.

Abruptly, he started, “I need to tell you something. I should have said before I even stepped off the ship, and maybe even before that…”

Their conversation was interrupted as a sudden noise picked up. There was a rumbling in the distance, a sound that had everyone beginning to turn. Ghost was growling down at Jon’s side, low but steady. The cries of dogs in the distance were recognized as being barks at something, something they felt was a threat. The wind picked up, blowing right at those at the shore, bringing a shallow coldness that made it harder to breathe. The scent of ice was in the air, heavier than just minutes ago. The shift was easy to notice by everyone, old and young.

Jon’s eyes scanned around, heart rate picking up. Far in the back, from what he could see through the open gates, he noticed the remaining Wildlings who had planned to stay behind starting to run their way.

His stomach dropped.

He saw Loboda walk out into the open towards the gate. He turned sharply to look back at Jon, both of them exchanging a look. He must have known then that all Jon had said was true.

It was happening.

“Close the gates!” his booming voice commanded, face stern. “Now!”

As the Wildlings at the gates did as commanded, even as those were still pouring through as they broke into a desperate run, Jon saw the panic in their movements. Instinctively, his hand reached out for Daenerys and she stepped towards him, body sealing against his arm as she held his hand tight.

“What’s going on?” she breathed out.

Jon sensed she already knew. There were screams that echoed once the gates were shut and latched, the sounds bouncing off the mountains from far back. Sounds that would haunt them all.

He was there.

The Night King had arrived.

They were too late.

Jon knew they had little time to clear out, that those past the sealed gate were gone. A sickening feeling scrapped at his stomach. His eyes scanned around, all those who were able to holding onto a weapon.

The screams from the other side got louder, more brutal, leaving the hair on his neck standing up.

“Dany,” Jon began, his grip on her becoming stronger. “Remember what I told you about getting to a ship?” There was a pounding on the gates that started, Wildlings wanting to not be locked out. The gate rocked back and forth as Jon tore his eyes away to look over at a panicked and confused Daenerys. “I meant what I said.”

“But—”

They both turned back when everything went silent abruptly. No screams. No pleas. No barking. Nothing. All those by the shore stood rigid, waiting, unsure. Every inhale and exhale Jon could hear of those standing around him.

Ghost had stopped growling, but the hair along his back stood up, standing in a position that made it look like he was ready for a fight.

By the gate, Jon watched as a Wildling man motioned to another to check what he might be able to see on the other side. As he approached the wooden blocks that made up the gate, he peered through a small gap in the lumber as everyone else held their breath. Jon squinted against the flakes of snow that were being brought with the wind, watching closely.

Without warning, breaking the tension in the air, a bony hand forced its way through a hole in the gate, and the Wildling stumbled backwards, tripping over his feet from the shock. All at once, extreme force was put on the gate, the wood splintering in several places. Jon could hear the loud growls of the dead, up, awake, and ready to kill the living.

Shoot!

Arrows flew as a surge of Wildlings turned back to make a run for the sea and the row boats. Jon took notice of Karsi returning from loading her children onto one of those boats, coming to Jon’s side once the row boat departed.

“You were telling the truth!” she shouted over the cries and screams.

Jon held onto Daenerys as masses ran towards them. There would be no controlling the crowd. Some would stay to fight, but most would flee the danger.

Jon grabbed Karsi’s arm and over the chaos. “Make sure she gets on a ship!” he yelled the order, referring to Daenerys.

Karsi nodded in response.

“Don’t leave!” Dany yelled.

He wished he didn’t have to.

Jon grabbed her by the elbow and pulled her in, kissing her on the lips, a brief moment that sent life through him. He put two hands on either side of her face. “I love you,” he admitted.

Her lips parted, maybe in shock, or maybe to say something. Jon did not have a spare moment to find out.

“Go to the ship. Leave.” He turned, taking his sword, Ghost by his side, yelling into the air, “Night’s Watch, with me!”

Daenerys

“Jon!” she cried out, but he had already disappeared into the crowd, brothers in tow, Ghost bolting with him.

I love you.

It was unexpected, especially in in the middle of the events unfolding before them. The words had come from him and he had meant them fully, and Daenerys did not have the chance to process it all before he had taken off to defend the shoreline from the dead.

She never got the chance to say it back.

Karsi was at her side, pulling her across the shoreline towards the wooden and slippery dock before she could rush after Jon. “You heard him, get to a ship,” came Karsi’s demanding voice.

She sounded calmer than Daenerys would have expected, and maybe that was part of the reason why Dany felt her feet moving in the direction she was being pulled, even though her heart was strongly resisting. Before they were able to get to the beginning of the dock, a Wildling man pushed the two of them apart with force, darting for the water, rushing into to attempt to swim to a ship as the row boats became packed. Not even freezing water would stop them from getting away from Hardhome.

The force of him pushing them apart knocked nearly both Karsi and Daenerys to the ground. They stumbled, Dany slipping on slick ice, before refocusing. Madness was all around them in only a few moments. Wights were getting through the gate, crawling underneath after digging enough space. It was horror to Dany’s eyes.

Karsi nearly collided with Dany as she reached for her, grabbing ahold of Dany’s wrist as pointed out to the sea. Her face was so close to Dany’s that she was able to see the fear in her eyes too. “Someone needs to be on that ship to get our people past the Wall,” Karsi said, almost pleading.

She knew what Karsi meant by what she said. Jon had headed towards the dead, not away. If Jon didn’t come back, Daenerys had to bring the Wildlings to Castle Black. Only she among the group, other than Jon, would be able to convince Ser Allister to open the gates. He hated Wildlings but he did not hate Daenerys.

Still, she had the sense that she would be leaving everything behind if she fled for a ship right then. Something did not seem right.

“Let’s move,” Karsi urged, shoving a stray, panicked man out of the way before he was able to collide with them. “Come on!”

“No,” she found herself saying in defiance, the thought making her sick. Suddenly, she was overcome with a realization. “The eggs,” she breathed, alarmed. “I can’t leave without them.”

Karsi’s eyes opened wide despite the snow and ice blowing at her face. She was disturbed by Dany’s words, that it was the dragon eggs she was worried about. “Fuck those eggs!” she shouted over the crowd. “They’re stone! Nothing!”

Another man shoved in between the pair and a broke all rationale of her statement. Everything happened in slow motion after that. Daenerys had made her decision. She turned, her eyes settling on the hut that contained the eggs, the place she had carefully watched them be placed away into the night before.

She needed them, feeling the pull back into danger. She felt an attachment to the eggs, and was not going to leave them.

“Do you want to die out here?” she heard Karsi yelling.

Dany felt her hand grab onto her arm, but Daenerys shook free, her breath hitching in her throat before she sucked in a deep breath. “I’ll see you on the ship.”

Daenerys!”

She had already slipped away. Dany’s movements where quick, even with boots heavier than she was accustomed to, ones not broken in. She would feel the sting of the cuts and blisters later, just not then. There was too much else to focus on.

She pulled at the cloak she wore and let it fall backwards onto the ground to be trampled, shedding the extra weight. It was difficult to maneuver around those still fleeing, catching the fear in their eyes, the terror. She knew she should feel the same, the lack of it strange. Adrenaline pulsed through her, keeping her agile.

Her eyes caught the black outfits of several brothers with their swords out, cutting wights apart and pulling them off of Wildlings. She recognized their faces, but Jon was not one of them. She heard him, though, but did not catch view of him. His voice was enough to keep her steady, knowing he was alive out there, fighting.

She would have to do the same.

Keep moving.

Stay alive.

Daenerys ducked out of the way of a falling tent and caught sight of Loboda, who swung his axe and cut two bony wights clean in half. Her eyes had lingered too long, a couple bones flying in her direction, making her stop in her place. Dany never noticed the wight to her left until it was almost too late. It launched at her, no weapon in hand, taking her down to the ground. She hit the snow hard, her spine feeling the impact. It disoriented her momentarily, but she still fought to keep the wight as far from her flesh as possible. Though it had no weapon in hand, teeth still acted as one.

She held it by the throat, the wight much larger than her, the snapping jaws getting closer to her face as she struggled to keep it away, a sharp and bony knee plunging into her stomach. She cried out with pain as the wight’s half rotten fingers clawed at her arms and weakened her grasp. There was only so much strength she had as the wight thrashed around violently. She screamed as she lost her grip somewhat, until Loboda’s axe came down into its back, stopping right before Dany’s stomach own. With the axe stuck in the ribcage of the wight, he pulled the weapon upwards and slammed the wight it into the ground, sheer force breaking it into pieces.

Daenerys laid there on her back, stunned, relieved of the pain. Loboda reached out quickly and she took his large hand. He yanked her up onto the ground with so much force that she stumbled three steps forward once her feet hit the iced ground.

She knew she would be on her own again.

That was all the help she was going to get from him, as he took off, axe swinging at more wights as they approached. He had most likely just saved her life, or at least a portion of her face from being ruined. She would have to remember to thank him at some point, but that was not a concern at the moment. Dany recovered quickly, scanning the area to see her surroundings, not wanting to get caught off guard again. The Sand Snakes would have been completely appalled at what had happened.

Daenerys grabbed the dagger from her belt, remembering what Jon had said about it killing wights.

She saw Wildlings with swords hacking away at wights, some not so lucky, releasing guttural screams as a weapon used by a wight went through their flesh. Daenerys still had her sword at her side, but did not feel confident enough running with it. It would slow her down, so it stayed were it was, with only the dagger to use.

Daenerys took off, headed for the same hut she was not far from. Blood already stained the ground, drag marks next to pools of blood. By that point, she was dodging dead bodies, or those who were in the process of dying. Daenerys could have ever imagined anything so horrific, every image captured with every blink nothing but a new terror that would haunt her.

Her movements were somewhat slower, body aching from being tackled to the ground and into the solid ice, but she ignore the pain, and kept moving. She refused to die because she was too slow—it would be an insult to Dorne.

One wight moved on from its victim, running right towards her when Daenerys leaned to the left to block the rusted sword it carried, plunging the dagger into its back with a high pitched grunt. The wight disintegrated before her eyes into a pile of ice shards and fabric from the tattered clothes it had been wearing.

It was there and then it wasn’t.

It was true. Dragonglass was fatal to them.

Dany held tighter onto the dagger as she continued to make her way across the landscape, taking out two more wights before she slid into the small hut that had an earthy smell from the mud that made up the bottom.

She could hear the chaos outside, the screams, the noises coming from the wights, the winds from the storm the Night King brought with him, yet it all faded into the background when she caught sight of the eggs. They were still resting in the wooden bin, surrounded by furs, waiting for her return.

Her hands reached out, picking one up. Still warm, Dany thought.

She wasn’t mad.

There was something about the eggs and herself that caused such a sensation.

Daenerys sprung into action as soon as she realized she had stayed a moment too long, hearing a couple of wights bang against the hut, the noise nearly making her drop the black egg. A small gasp had come out, stupidly, because the wights was alerted that Daenerys was inside. She shut the door behind her quietly, though there was not latch. It would not buy her much time at all As she went back to the cart with the remaining two eggs, a balled, bony hand broke right through the wood paneling right in front of her, just like one had with the main gate. Her shriek was swallowed, not wanting to make any more noise to attract others. Dany’s shaken hands felt around, trying to feel for something to transport the eggs with.

Nothing.

She could carry one with her and still have the dagger in the other hand. It was somewhat logical, yet the thought of leaving two behind, even as three wights were tearing away the wood of the hut to get to her, was sickening.

The connection to the eggs was too strong. She would have to take them all.

As one wight, half flesh, half bone, poked its head through the hole it created, Daenerys got back up to the ground and buried her dragonglass dagger into its head. The wight shattered into ice pieces so small it looked like dust, blowing away into nothing.

As a last resort, she cut off the material covering her midsection quickly, the cut jagged. Before she went any further, the bony hand that was clawing away at the inside of the hut was making more progress so she got to her feet once again and chopped off the hand with her own sword. To her horror, the limb fell to the ground and continued to move around, fingers still mobile. Dany kicked it into the corner before she kneeled down to place the material she had cut from her clothes flat and stuff two eggs side by side, wrapping and tying up the material.

Good enough.

She could hold the black and silver one.

With a deep breath in, Daenerys got back to her feet, not prepping herself, and threw open the door. She broke into a run towards the water, not even knowing if a few a boat was left. She didn’t know what she would get to a ship itf there was not one there. Daenerys was a strong swimmer with years of being in the warm waters of the South, but with the weight of three eggs and only one hand able to swim with due to carrying them, she wasn’t so sure if she would be able to swim if she had to.

She would have to try, of course.  

The thoughts bounced back and forth as she ran. She wondered where Jon was, if he was still on the shore, if he had left. He was not dead, she knew that. Something inside her told her he was still breathing. In part, it was what kept her moving. That and her own will to live.

The smell of blood was potent, heavy in the air. She caught glimpses of wights sinking weapons into Wildlings, a terrifying sight—dead men killing the living. It was all true, no exaggeration.

Daenerys slid to a stop, seeing all of them, approximately fifteen, standing up, looking at her, glowing blue eyes focused on their new target.

Her.

For the first time, she felt true fear, realizing she might not actually make it to the boats, that she might actually die there. She almost lost her grip on material that carried the eggs. She had made a mistake. She should have just left when Jon and Karsi had told her to, then she would not be facing a wall of wights in between her and the sea. No way out. Everything was flashing before her, all the moments she held precious to her.

When she was nine, receiving a book of Targaryen history from Oberyn.

Being in the sea on hot days, playing with Tyene and Nymeria as Obara watched from the sandy beach, with an always watchful eye.

The first time she saw snow falling from the sky, feeling it felt against her skin.

Laughing with Gilly by the fire in her room with little Sam falling asleep on the rug.

Receiving her mother’s ring.

Jon kissing her for the first time.

Being told he loved her.

Daenerys could see it all right in front of her, as clear as her breath. The images faded and all she saw was the dead. There were too many, all staring blankly at her, eyes a chilling blue. They did not make a move for her, which might have been the worst part. Dany did not know what they were waiting for. To the side, an agonizing scream came from a woman being butchered by an active wight. Daenerys was too petrified to look.

That was it.

She would die there in the foreign land for being too stubborn—Nym always said it would get her in trouble.

Dany thought about the pain she would feel when the wights gutted her, the pain she would cause Jon. Not only him, but those back in Dorne that would get word of her death when she was not among the count on the ship. She needed a miracle to happen, a way to get out, but knew better than to ask the gods for such a thing. Those prayers went unanswered.  

She tried her luck anyways, with a new god that time around. For some peculiar reason, she thought of Melisandre in that moment, her claim that her god was watching over Daenerys. She closed her eyes and thought of the Lord of Light, asking for one of two things—a quick death or an escape.

Daenerys clutched the eggs closer, preparing to meet the end, the dagger still at her side, when the ground all of a sudden shook, large thuds rattling. It brought her out of her frozen state, eyes wandering over her shoulder. Wun Wun was darting towards her, shaking off wights, pulling one apart as it crawled up his arm.

“Wun Wun,” she whispered, maybe a desperate plea.

She wished she could run as fast as he.

Before she could think anymore, his large body bent down right as his left foot sunk into the snow right next to her, nearly knocking her off her feet—but then she really was off her feet, air whooshing around her. Wun Wun snatched Dany right off the ground, holding her in his palm as he jogged his way towards the sea. It took her breath away. Daenerys was frozen in his grasp, helpless, only watching as he smashed wights and tents with his step.

Wun Wun never stopped, never slowed, splashing water high into the air as he started to submerge into the sea, taking long strides towards the ships as he walked the sea floor. Any wights that had tried crawling up his legs were drowned.

She noticed the final row boat headed out to the ship. As they grew closer, she made out a few of the figures, the last to leave the shore. There was Edd and Tormund. Ghost was at the edge, his large body stained with red, taking up the majority of the space, two brothers huddled underneath his body as Ghost stood. There was barely enough room for all of them, and Dany was surprised it was even still afloat.

Her heart dropped as Jon came into view as Wun Wun continued to walk towards the docked ships. He lifted Dany up further so she would not get wet as he marched further and further, the sea reaching his stomach. Jon’s eyes met Dany’s. She had never seen anyone look so shocked before, even after the events of what had happened. He was under the impression that she was on a ship already, yet there she was, being carried out by a giant.

He was not going to understand her reasoning for going back, no one would, so she turned her head away, feeling all three eggs safe with her. She couldn’t look at Jon anymore. Wun Wun sunk lower and lower into the sea, holding her high above his head, splashes of water hitting her, though she was already soaked from snow melting on her. A saltiness stung her eyes, yet she was trapped in the giant’s grasp, no way to wipe the tears that were building. When his grasp lessened for a moment, it was then that she realized that she was shaking, coming off an adrenaline high, fear still running through her.

She looked back at Hardhome, a place that had been a home to so many, now ruined, blood stained, and with smoke from multiple fires filling the area. Those who had died were back on their feet already, the Night King bringing them back. He was there at the edge of the dock, watching them all leave, most ships already leaving the harbor. There was a crowd of standing Wildlings, though none alive any more. By that point, she could barely make out the figures, but she did see the Night King turn around, walk through the crowd, and the dead follow his lead.

It felt like a dream—a nightmare. Daenerys found herself questioning if it had all really happened, or if she was still asleep in the tent she had chosen.

But it was no dream. It was real.

The Night King had what he came for—more soldiers for his army.

Chapter Text

Daenerys

 

She made it to the ship first—the last remaining ship.

Wun Wun plunked her down onto the deck before he pulled the ship half way to the side getting on himself, settling there on the deck, shaking off the water, drenching those around him. Wun Wun huffed deeply, tired from the fighting and the trek through the sea to the ship. Daenerys looked around at the Wildlings that were there, a few brothers also. It was a sparse amount, most having boarded other ships. They were the last to have left the shore.

She immediately looked for Karsi, knowing she most likely would have been among those who stayed and fought until the end, but did not see her. Dany told herself that she had to be on another ship, one already exiting the harbor towards rough seas.  

They all looked exhausted, terrified, yet lucky to be alive—and anxious to leave the harbor. Most must have lost a loved one, yet they probably would not be certain until they gathered back together on the other side of the Wall. The anchor was being pulled, no one wanting to stay any longer than necessary. They all looked at Daenerys like she would be able to provide an answer—why it happened, how long it would take to settle down somewhere else, what the future was going to bring.

A defeated feeling swept over her, almost like it was going to knock her off her feet. She had no answers, so without a word, she fled below deck, especially before Jon was able to board the ship, the paddles in the water audible as they approached.

Down below, a few mothers huddled with their children on the steps, trying to distract them from what they might have seen. Daenerys passed by them carefully, heading for a door, any door. It took her a moment to realize, but she was on the ship that they had left Eastwatch in, so she found herself knowing the hall well, selecting last door on the right. She wanted nothing more than to lock herself away, for it to stay that way until the anchor plunged into the water again and they were back at Eastwatch.

Dany closed the door behind her, not latching it because she knew it was Jon’s room too. He would come find her. A was confrontation looming, giving her an unsettled feeling in her stomach.

A Dany sauntered into the room at a slow pace, her eyelids felt heavy, as did her boots. Her body was tired, beaten up. It could have been worse, she reminded herself. She had seen several with bloody faces, ones with wounds that looked deep. She has escaped without too much damage done. All she had was marks down her arms and a sore back. Maybe a bruised stomach. She looked down and saw a purple color forming from where the wight who attacked her had stuck a knee.

She was surprised no ribs were broken, and that alone was something to be grateful for.

The physical part was not too bad. It was the emotion of it that was leaving her stripped down, weak, vulnerable. It was quiet there in the room, but she could still hear the ringing of the chaos from on the shore. She could hear the screams, all of them blending together. She doubted there would be a day she would be able to forget.

As Daenerys blinked, a tear fell down her cheek, a few more streaming once the first broke free.  She got down to the ground to lean up against the wooden wall and pulled her legs into her chest. Pulling off her boots with one hand, she still clung to the material knotted with the eggs inside. Daenerys finally unclenched her grip, knuckles stiff from the tight grasp. She sifted through the material until the eggs became visible, laying the black in the middle of the others.

All three eggs were there, looking as perfect as they had when she first laid eyes on them.

She put her hand down on the black egg, it providing some strange comfort. What she really wanted was Jon to hold her tight, though she did not think he would be in that kind of mood. Briefly, she thought about going to find another room so she would not have to deal with it right away, not when she felt as she did—somewhat destroyed from watching all the death.

Avoidance never made a situation better, though, so she stayed put. The weak ignored, and she was not weak. She had to face it head on.

Daenerys let her legs lay out in front of her, pulling the black egg onto her lap. Her hands grazed over the scales in an intimate way, feeling the individual bumps, examining the silver specks close up.

“You better have been worth it,” she told the egg, her egg, not even knowing what she meant by it.

Daenerys let the egg rest on her lap as she eased backwards against the wall of the ship, her spine aligning with the wood. It hurt, but the stretching was necessary. Her head knocked the panel behind her as a large breath released.

Her eyes were just drifting shut when she heard thumps of boots coming down the steps, door opening wide. Jon took two steps in, catching the sight of Daenerys there. She stood up, abruptly, almost caught off guard by how Jon had entered. He opened his mouth, but it hung there, agape. He saw her exposed stomach, face scrunching together with confusion until he noticed the eggs laid out on what used to cover that part of her body. Daenerys stood there with the eggs in hand, clutching them like it was for her life, hoping he would not think she was entirely mad for going back for them.

Jon was not one to let his emotions rule him, but in that situation, the chains had been broken. His emotions were flaring. He was angry, upset, relieved, all at the same time. Every emotion played out on his face.

“I—” she started, but not in enough time.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked, loudly, demanding. It was not quite a shout, but it was approaching that. “Why didn’t you get to a ship when I told you to? Have you any idea what could have happened?”

She might have returned the same anger, but she could not do that. After all, he had asked valid questions.

“It’s hard to explain,” she commented, slowly, her own thoughts processing at a decreased pace.

Daenerys stood there with the egg pressed against her breasts, as if she were hugging it. Her fears were eating away at her—fear that Jon would think she were incompetent, just another Targaryen who was losing her wits. If she were on the outside looking, she would think of herself as mad.

And what if she were?

What if it was the beginning stages of a downward spiral, just like her father?

No rational person would have made the decisions she had back at the shore, and the thought made a lump develop in her throat.

No, she reminded herself, that was different.

The eggs were special. In their own way, they felt like an extension of herself.

Jon’s anger seemed to fade the more he looked at Daenerys, maybe noticing the red of her eyes from her tears that she quickly wiped away. His stance changed, shoulders relaxing. His eyes settled on her arms, long, red scratch marks against her pale complexion.

“You could have been killed,” he then said, his voice softer, and more broken. He shook his head at the thought. “What would I…what…?”

He couldn’t get the words out anymore, but she understood what he was trying to say—what would he have done if she were to have perished there on the shore?

She sucked in a sharp breath, some tears forming as she set the egg down on a nearby table. “I know.” Before another moment passed with it being unsaid, Daenerys made the proclamation while the lump in her throat grew, “I love you.”

Jon briefly stood in place, staring at her, until he crossed the room and pulled her into and embrace.

Finally.

Her nails dug into the leather that covered his back, several tears in the material. One of his hands rested at the back of her head, other flat on her exposed skin along her spine. Daenerys felt as if she could just collapse there in his arms.

She groaned when his grasp became too tight, but did not want him to let go. “Are you alright?” he asked, gently into her damp hair. “Are you injured?”

“It’s not bad. I got thrown to the ground by a wight. My back aches from it, but give it a few days’ time, and the pain should pass.”

“I didn’t want you to get hurt,” he told her, cupping her face up to look at him.

Dany let her eyes slip closed. “I did what I had to,” she simply said. She reached up and touched a bloody cut along his cheek. “You’re hurt.”

“It will be just another scar among many others. It seems I’ll be collecting them from now on.” Jon meekly smiled. “A White Walker may have bruised me up pretty good when I tried to retrieve the dragonglass.”

Daenerys took a step back, serious. “A White Walker attacked you?”

Jon tilted his head to the side. “Took his time really, threw me around. I thought I was going to meet my end, but…”

She was intrigued. “But?”

He gripped Longclaw, looking down at the pummel of a white wolf. “The sword shattered the White Walker into ice.” He blinked, shaking his head, puzzled. “Gone, just like that.”

“How?”

“I think the Valyerian Steel is like the dragonglass. It kills wights and White Walkers alike.”

Curious.

Daenerys took out her dagger. “I still have mine.”

“Good, keep it. The rest of the dragonglass is back at Hardhome, probably buried in ash and snow at this point.” Jon look defeated. “We weren’t able to get it back.”

Dany nodded. “I’ll keep it safe.”

Jon looked over at the eggs and she followed his gaze.

“I know it was stupid,” she started with a sigh, “but I truly can’t explain it. It feels like they are a part of me. I needed them.”

Jon looked uncomfortable, but he wasn’t going to argue with her. “Will you just promise me you won’t do something reckless like that again?”

Daenerys hesitated. She wanted to say yes to ease his worry, but she knew better than to make promises that she could not keep. “Jon…” she started.

He cut her off. “Don’t do this to me.”

Her jaw clenched, not out of frustration, but because she didn’t want to have to say what she needed to. “Don’t you know who I am?”

She was Daenerys Targaryen. She made rash decisions and sometimes did not think about the consequences until faced with them. It was a part of who she was, liked or not. He did know that. She had second guessed that when she said the words, but even in the short amount of time that they had known each other, that part of her was evident from their interactions.

“What I mean is don’t be reckless.”

“Reckless,” she huffed. “You did the same as I back there.”

Jon stepped back. “I went to stop the dead and get the dragonglass that kills them, not get eggs that have been stone for hundreds of years.”

He didn’t understand. She should not have expected him to. Daenerys let go of him and took two steps back.

“I got the eggs, that is what matters. I’m here, alive, and safe. Maybe I should have gone for the dragonglass also and we might have that still.”

She regretted the words.

It was horrible of her to say.

Daenerys opened her mouth again to apologize, but Jon dismissed himself before she could.

 “I have to go check on the others.”

They both should be have doing that, but Daenerys did not want to see Jon looking at her the way he had about her decision to retrieve the eggs. When the door shut, Daenerys went over and slowly laid down onto the bed, pulling her legs up and over the side.

What a mess it all was.

A tingling sensation ran through her as her body became still. It was too easy to close her eyes. Daenerys fell asleep like that, nestled on the bed with her legs curled up into her chest. As she fell asleep, a sadness had taken over her. She felt like a different person after what she had seen.

She was changed.

When her eyes opened again, it was later, much later. The cabin was dark, only a partial moon reflecting off the sea providing light. Daenerys wiped her cheeks of remaining streaks of sad tears. Her body was tense, having stayed curled up for too long. She shrugged out of her clothes—or at least what remained of them. She pulled on her silk robe with lace trim that she had brought with her from Dorne, the silk comforting against her skin.

She really needed a bath, as the salt and snow on her skin and in her hair was making her feel dirty. Without that option, she settled for next best. With a cloth dipped in room temperature water, Dany scrubbed at her skin as best she could, almost like she were trying to scrub away the memories of Hardhome.

She would not be as lucky.

As her eyes closed, a chill ran up her arms, for what seemed like the first time. She never felt cold, but the memory of being there forced it upon her. It was an all-consuming sensation that was thankfully interrupted. As the door opened behind her, Daenerys slid the arms of the robe back up, only to see Jon over her shoulder. She tied the robe at her waist and turned around.

Jon put Longclaw by the bed, leaned up against the frame. Without a word, he began to undress, unveiling numerous dark purple bruises that were coloring his skin. She saw how he cringed as he sat down on the bed, pulling his legs around to lay flat.

Daenerys moved her mouth from side to side, not sure what to say, but hating the silence between them.

“Are you in a lot of pain?”

He closed his eyes. “It’s not too bad.”

Her eyes narrowed to inspect. Jon had said the White Walker had attacked him, and from the bruises and the bloody scrapes, it looked worse than he was letting on. Daenerys dipped a fresh cloth in the water and rung out the drops.

She crossed the room and sat down at the edge of the bed on Jon’s side, where she began to clean him up.

He pressed the warm cloth to him, evoking his response of, “You don’t have to—”

“Be quiet,” she demanded, cutting him off.

She didn’t have to.

She wanted to.

The corner of his mouth fell into a smirk, but he quickly tried to hide it. Daenerys continued to delicately wipe away dried blood. Jon stayed still as she cleaned off his sides and his chest before moving to his face. Just as the cloth hit his forehead, she felt his fingers brushing the top of her hand that was resting at the edge of the bed. He didn’t open his eyes, just continued to stroke her skin, making her realize it was his way to saying he was sorry for earlier without actually saying the words just yet.

She softened up and pulled away once she got all the stray blood, salt, and grim off of him. Daenerys sat there with the damp cloth in her hands, fingers running over all that had come off of his skin.

“Dany?”

“Yes?” she asked, not turning back his way.

“What happened back there…you can’t let it get to you. If you spend too much time thinking about what you saw, it can be impossible to come back from that.”

Dany’s eyes drifted back over to the eggs she had rested on the floor. “Don’t tell anyone I went back for those,” she told him. “People will think I’m mad, just like my father. Mad, stupid, whatever they might think. Some already know, and that’s enough. Promise me you won’t say anything.”

“I won’t,” he promised.

“I left Karsi there to get them. Did you see her on the shore? After you left us?”

He shook his head.

Daenerys huffed, troubled by the answer. The last moments of pulling away from Karsi replayed in her mind. All she could do was wait to see if she were among those who arrived with them at Eastwatch.

 Daenerys examined Jon a little further, noticing how the bruises around his sides where darkest. “With the White Walker, when you were fighting, did you think you were going to die?”

“Yes, for a moment there, I thought there would be no way out.”

Her lips parted, remembering that exact thought. She had asked for a way out and had gotten just that. Wun Wun had been there, but Daenerys was not entirely sure if that was just luck or a coincidence.

Or something more.

Daenerys removed herself from the bed and went to wash out the blood and dirt from the cloth. As she submerged and rung out the cloth, excess water dropping back into the bowl, her mind was elsewhere the whole time. Right by the table, her attention was brought over to the window, where water splashed up around the windows with every wave the ship took on.

Had it been the Lord of Light after all who had saved her?

What if Melisandre was right?

What if the Lord of Light had a plan for her?

They were all questions that made her think, made her confused.

Daenerys turned back to see Jon watching her. “You look awful,” she commented, before he could ask what was troubling her.

“Thank you,” he grinned.

“Don’t feel so bad,” she smirked, “I know I look the same.”

Jon snorted in disbelief. “Are you trying to get a compliment out of me?”

“What?” she laughed.

“You look beautiful. Nothing out of the ordinary, even given the circumstances.”

She shook her head, pulling at the band of her braid to shake out her hair. She held the three little shells that were tucked into her hair, given to her by a little girl just that morning. It made her stomach upset to think about what might have happened to her.

Daenerys ran a few fingers up and down the scratch marks on her arms, Jon noticing. He sat up in the bed with a groan, two hands planted behind him to keep himself up. “It won’t scar.”

She dropped her arms back to her side. “I’m not worried about that.”

“No?”

“You sound surprised.”

Jon grappled with what to say. “Well, it’s just that most women would be upset.”

“Most women didn’t have a wight wanting to kill them.” She looked down at the red marks. It would take time for them to fade, but it was truly the least of her worries. “It was strange, looking at something that used to be just like you or me, only now dead, flesh rotting off, and still wielding a weapon. I think Oberyn would have been proud I made it out alive.”

The memory of him trickled back to her. A somber mood fell over her too, even though she knew that those she would consider to be family back in Dorne would have been thrilled to hear of killing off wights.

“I’m sure he would have.” Jon patted the bed. “Come here,” Jon said.

She obliged with the request, sitting down at the edge of the bed near his feet, looking at the furs and the pillows. “I feel guilty,” she admitted.

“For?”

“Having a bed to sleep in when most on this ship do not. It seems selfish.”

“I slept out in the open alongside of them before. Believe me, being on a ship that is warm and that has food and water is enough to make them satisfied, even when most don’t have their belongings with them when we fled.”

“I know that, but I still feel bad.”

“Should we invite Tormund and some others to share our bed?”

His dry humor made her smile. “Very funny, Jon.”

He shrugged, although he winced as he did from the sore, injured muscles. “Wouldn’t bother me. There were many nights we were all huddled together to stay warm.”

“Wouldn’t bother you?” she asked, brow raised with doubt.

“Let me put it this way, I’d rather be only next to you, but, if needed, I wouldn’t mind sharing the space if it meant that you didn’t feel guilty.”

Daenerys sometimes didn’t believe than Jon was real with the way that he spoke. Not many men would have said what he did, all for the sake of Daenerys’ ill feelings being resolved. He would do a lot for her, and that was important.

“I’m glad you’re mine,” she said.

He was not expecting her words, so Jon struggled with a response right away. “You could have anyone you wanted,” he mentioned.

She tossed her hair to one side and she leaned sideways onto the bed, hand sliding down the furs. “I only want you.”

“Maybe you are mad,” he teased, carefully.

Daenerys grabbed a spare pillow and tossed it at his head, reeling it back a few times to whack him. “Truthfully, I am starting to wonder.”

Jon grabbed ahold of her and as he laid back, brought her with him so she was on top of him. He sighed contently with his arms wrapped around her tightly. “Did I mention how relieved I am you’re safe?”

Daenerys played with his curls, sweeping some away from his face. “You might have skipped over telling me that, but I know you are.”

She bent her head and gave him a quick kiss. He wanted more, reaching up, but she pulled away from his efforts, making him in a teasing way. Instead, Dany shuffled upwards, sitting at his lower abdomen, robe slipping off her right shoulder seductively. Jon’s hands ran up and then down her thighs, his tongue flashing out, licking his lips with want.

Daenerys enjoyed the way it felt to be in control, her legs firmly pressed up against him, keeping him in place. She had nothing on underneath her robe, and Jon smoothing his hands up and down her thighs made her feel wet, just inches from where his hands stilled. She didn’t want to wait any longer, fingers pulling at his breeches.

Due to Jon’s grin from her urgency, she knew he was happy about her rushing.

He grabbed her waist and Daenerys arched her back slowly, pressing down onto him. He bit at his lower lip and moaned as she scooted backwards on his groin. When she pulled at the breeches to get them off, he groaned, but it wasn’t one that sounded like it stemmed from pleasure.

“Am I hurting you?”

If she was, he didn’t speak a word of it. “No.”

“Liar,” she taunted.

There was a pulsating heat that radiated through her core, branching out through her limbs. She did not want to go too fast as to not enjoy, and if Dorne had taught her anything, it was that fucking had to be exactly how she wanted it.

Slow.

Fast.

In private.

In public.

On top.

On bottom.

With a woman, with a man—with both at the same time.

Whatever the heart desired. Dorne had no rules when it came to love and expressing it. So with Jon pinned there beneath her, she felt free so do as she pleased. He wouldn’t question anything, only let her do what she wanted, what she needed.

Daenerys shift and pulled his breeches the rest of the way off, carefully, as to not cause any sore muscles to be too stressed. Once removed and laid onto the bed in a pile, Dany crawled back up his body.

“Lay flat.”

He did as told, removing the pillow from behind his head, keeping his legs parallel.

It was interesting, really, that someone who gave commands every day was also someone who would bend to his woman’s wishes without a word. The fact that she was toying with the tie of the robe may have played a factor into his willingness, but she chose to ignore that for the time being.

Daenerys thought about teasing Jon some more, making him wait, but it was she who did not want to wait. He was hard and she was wet—why waste time? Even running her hand flat up his thigh and to his stomach made her feel slicker when her legs moved to straddle him once more.

Jon groaned, flinching from the pressure she was putting on him.

She removed her hand, balling it into a fist as she retracted. “Tell me if I’m hurting you,” she told him, wanting a truthful answer that time.

He shook his head, gripping her waist. “If there’s pain, believe me, I’ll endure. I need you.”

His eyes said it all—black as could be, pits of desire.

Daenerys let the robe slip off her body and Jon’s eyes followed the material that pooled around her hips. She let her fingers slip between her folds, only to pull them out and wrap around his cock. One stroke and Jon moaned, head falling back with his eyes closed. Even though he didn’t see her, she smiled back.

Instead of resting her hands back on his abdomen, she relied on Jon to stabilize her, with his hands holding her, thumbs pressing into her skin. Sliding him inside of her was easy, and Dany immediately started to pick up her pace. She placed her hands on top of his as she moved. The hair she had not dared take scissors to since she had arrived hit at her waist as she moved, Jon’s fingers flexing.

Jon was already in the middle of saying her name when his was on her lips. His thumb pressed into a spot that made her bounce a little harder.

“Please,” he begged. “Please.

Her body felt hot, like fire was raging inside her blood. A sharp, high pitched moan came of Daenerys and her quivered, jerking forward as her inner walls contracted found Jon. He inhaled deeply through his nose, hands gripping hard as he pulled her forward and off his member. It caused her to gasp unexpectedly, hand flashing out onto the bed to stabilize her balance as Jon spilled out onto his abdomen.

She leaned her head down and placed her forehead onto his, lingering there. They needed that. Dany swung her leg back over and fell into the furs right next to Jon, the softness molding around her bare legs that felt weak.

“I love you,” he said again.

She heard it, but was already half asleep, the rocking of the ship pulling her in.

Chapter Text

Daenerys

The wind blew strong, stronger than when they had left. Daenerys swept a strand of hair that blew sideways across her face out of the way. She turned towards to sea, all the ships docked in the harbor, swaying with the waves, the sun on its way down to dip below the horizon.

They had made it, yet, the journey was far from over.

The solid ground on the other side of the Wall might have led to a sense of relief, had the thought of trekking towards Castle Black and facing all the stares of disapproval not come so quickly. She doubted not even retelling their story of Hardhome would convince those particular ones that the Wildlings being on their side was a good thing. 

Daenerys turned her gaze upward from there on the beach at the Wall, the magical force that was supposed to keep the dead out. It made her stomach turn, the thought of all those half rotten lost souls showing up in a row along the Wall.

The brothers that had departed with them initially, or rather, those who had survived, were directing Wildlings towards the castle. Wildlings were grouping together, searching around for those they knew, those who had been lost in the mix when leaving Hardhome. There looked to be some happy reunions taking places, but some were still looking for those who had already been lost to the Night King.

It made her sad to see, but she could not take her eyes away from the sad faces, those in despair. She wished she could do something to help them, but knew she was helpless on that front. She couldn’t even offer that they would arrive at Castle Black and be treated with respect.

She hoped, of course,  they would all find a sense of settlement soon after they had been ripped out of their territory and chased into the sea to escape death—or worse.

Dany shuddered.

Hardhome had been something out of a nightmare.

Daenerys sighed, shaking her head. When a group moved out of the way, Dany caught sight of a familiar figure that turned in her direction.

Karsi.

Daenerys stumbled two steps forward to be closer. It was true. Karsi was there on the same shore that Dany was, living and breathing. Daenerys smiled. Karsi probably hated her for leaving the way she did, but she was alive, like Daenerys. That was what mattered.

She took notice of Daenerys, as she was always easy to spot with her features, and stalled her movements momentarily. Karsi then handed over her two girls to another Wildling, pointing in the direction to take them, and started walking towards Daenerys, who stood firm in her place.

“You’re alive,” she examined, finally coming to a stop in front of Dany.

“I am, aren’t I?”

“I’m glad you are,” she commented. “Surprised, yes, but you’re a welcomed sight.” She looked back at her daughters who were being carried away. “I have to get them set up for tonight. We’ll talk later.”

She watched her go, picking up her youngest into her arms once again, the little girl looking right at Daenerys as Karsi brought her further inland to where camp would be made outside of the castle for those not wanting to venture inside.

She was about to start walking that way also as the beach began to become empty, but Daenerys looked to the side when she heard a familiar voice. Loboda was hauling a row boat with one hand into the sand where the stragglers slowly unloaded. He turned around and took one look at Dany before he glanced away. It made her think—surely, Ser Allister would not like him, probably most of all. He looked like a threat, towering over everyone without a smile. He looked exactly like the Wildling that those at Castle Black thought of when they heard the word Wildling.

Jon was still helping unload the last few, his hand extended up to pull some from the boats, directing the other brothers. Daenerys saw there was nothing left for her to do, so with most Wildlings beginning the trek, Daenerys also began to slowly walk towards the castle for the evening.

 

Had there ever been that many people in Eastwatch before? Jon had told her about the old days when the Night’s Watch was seen as a pristine post, that many of the noble houses sent sons there to man the wall to bring honor. It was not always a place that was filled with those deemed to be unwanted, with nowhere left to go. In part, she wondered if that was why the Night King rose when he did—the Wall had been mostly defenseless.

Eastwatch did not have many brothers posted there permanently, and the castle reflected that. Daenerys glanced around as night had fallen. Although the castle was well built, handling the harsh winds from the sea well, but was rather bleak on the inside. Daenerys found it hard to believe that Eastwatch could seem darker and bleaker than Castle Black, yet it was a strong contender.

They were only going to stay a day or two—just enough for everyone to recuperate on land, to find those that might have been lost, and gather up supplies. Jon was still outside with the Free Folk, most making camp for the night, to give instructions about the plan to march back to Castle Black, which meant that she would be alone for most of the evening. As she rounded the corner and opened a large wooden door, she found herself in the bedroom the members of the Night’s Watch stationed at Eastwatch had set up for her.

There was not much inside, just the necessities and the few things she had left on the ship before arriving at Hardhome that had been brought in. Daenerys went over to the window, unlocking the hatch to open it. A gust came rushing in, but Daenerys did not mind. She looked out to see the camp of Wildlings, fires outside each of the tents.

Was there anyone left alive out beyond the Wall, or had the Night King collected them all by that point? Had Hardhome been the last stop?

Daenerys sighed out loud, the thought of the dead approaching the Wall to be frightening. They were all scared, only some were more willing to admit it. They would have no idea when the Night King might arrive with his army. They would all be left with uncertainty as they prepared.

The hardest part was yet to come, that of Jon most likely having to ask the Northern Houses to join them in the their fight against something that sounded straight out of a tale. In all likelihood, they would once again refuse any aid. The Boltons had a grip on most Northerners, for the time being, at least. Jon was so sure of it, but for what Daenerys knew of the North, she was curious to see if these Northern Houses really were so afraid of the Boltons…especially when Jon and Daenerys had the Wildlings at their side? There was no official count yet, but forty to fifty thousand was a rough estimate.

As she shut the window, she wondered more about it, of how easy it would be with their new allies to take Winterfell—Jon’s true home. Daenerys let her eyes wander over to the eggs. Three eggs, three dragons. If only, she thought. Three dragons and the North would fall back into Stark rule, one way or another.

Jon would never abandon Castle Black to take back Winterfell, but maybe he would let her.

One day, she thought. Maybe she could convince him. After all, what would it matter is she slipped away with the Free Folk to put the Boltons in their place, or better yet, their graves, after what they had done to Jon’s family.

There were bigger things to worry of, that was obvious, but if the Wildlings and the North were united with their forces, then the chances of survival were much greater.

Something brought her all the way up on top of the Wall. Maybe it was paranoia, but she had to see for herself that there was not an army that had followed them back immediately. It wouldn’t have been possible, but in order to sleep, she had to know for certain, to see it with her own eyes.

She stood there, watching, a strong wind whipping. Out there, she could barely see anything in the dark, the moon only showing the outline of the trees. She brought the hood of her cloak up over her head, pulling her braid to the side. The dark egg was there in her hand, the largest of them, she noticed. It was silly of her, but she thought maybe having it there would give her some sort of guidance. She brought it close to her chest, still feeling heat seeping through, as if life was inside.

It meant something.

 It had to.

“There you are,” came a voice.

Dany twisted her head to see Karsi standing there rigidly.

 “Oh,” Daenerys blurted out. “I wouldn’t expect to see you up here.”

She huffed, a strand of hair that she had dangling down across her face blowing to the side as she exhaled. “Well, that fucker at the bottom nearly didn’t bring me up because you were up here. Apparently, your safety is a top priority.”

Dany smirked at her bluntness. “How did you convince him?”

“Gave him my weapon to hold onto, though if I really wanted to hurt you, I could just throw you off. Not the smartest of the pack down there, are they? But he seemed convinced that I knew you.”

Dany shrugged. “You might find hand to hand combat with me more difficult than imagined.”

Karsi was intrigued. “We will have to test that someday.”

“Yes, we will.”

She nodded over to the brother standing watch, who was also listening in. Daenerys took the hint—their conversation was meant to be private.

“William, you many head back down to the castle now,” she told him. “Your shift is nearly over.”

He looked over at Karsi, then back at Daenerys with hesitance. He looked like he wanted to say are you sure you don’t want me to stay? but he turned and obeyed. “Yes, Lady Commander.”

Karsi’s eyes followed him curiously as he trekked back down the carved out walkway with skill, as to not slip, and vanished. With him gone, Karsi visibly relaxed more. Her voice was deep when she asked, “Is it strange to hear them call you that? There are no Lady Commanders in the history of the Night’s Watch that I have ever heard of. It’s supposed to be all men.”

“It’s not so strange anymore. Actually, it’s rather nice. I can tell them what to do and they listen. They have to.”

Karsi laughed, the laughter echoing against the solid ice. “Men who listen are the ones you want to keep around. The rest, well, just beat them into the ground and they’ll keep their mouth shut otherwise.”

She could envision Karsi throwing some punches at men who did not listen to her. She imagined it had happened a number of times before.

“You’ll find that here on this side of the Wall, it doesn’t quite work that way,” she muttered. Before Karsi could say anything more, she changed the subject. “You came up here to see me. Why?” Dany questioned.

“You’re right. I wanted to talk about the future and about the promises made for my people.”

“Everything said was true,” she acknowledged strongly. “Jon does not break promises and neither do I.”

Karsi crossed her arms. “It’s not two of you I am concerned of. It is common knowledge the brothers of the Night’s Watch hate the Free Folk.”

“It is common knowledge that the Free Folk hate the Night’s Watch,” she countered. “We all have a lot of work to do on that. There is no time to dwell on the history between the two. The Night King certainly doesn’t care who dislikes who, only that we stand in his way on making it through the rest of Westeros and killing everything in sight.”

Karsi’s face shifted. She started forward slowly, almost as if she were hesitant to approach Daenerys. She was all of a sudden sidetracked by the egg she held in her hand that came more into view as Dany turned to face her entirely. “What is it about these eggs that have you so…”

Not even Karsi could figure out the correct wording.

“Touch it,” Daenerys said. “Put your hand right here.”

Daenerys held out the egg and Karsi’s curiosity let her place her hand down.

“And?”

“What do you feel?” Dany inquired, ultimately knowing what the answer would be from her reaction.

“Nothing. Coldness. Is that supposed to mean something?”

Dany sighed and pulled the egg away—she wasn’t sure if she were disappointed or relieved. “You might think I’m mad if I tell you.”

Karsi laughed. “Let’s give it a try.”

Daenerys thought it over for a brief moment, but felt as though she could trust Karsi enough to disclose the information. “I don’t feel the same as you do. The eggs feel warm to me, all of them, as if they are alive still. As if they haven’t been stone for centuries.” She rolled the egg over to examine all the different spotting. “My ancestors rode dragons hatched from eggs like this. Aegon and his sisters, Rhaenys and Visenya, conquered the Seven Kingdoms, each with a dragon of their own. All dragons died out many years ago. Though they no longer exist, the eggs are valuable. Do you have any idea what these could be worth to the right person?”

“Well, in that case, hand them back over,” she teased dryly.

“I guess they never were given to me,” she admitted. “I took them.”

“Not like any of us have a use for it, especially now,” she mentioned. “You seem to have a strange connection with them, so they’re yours. After all, you’re the one who went back for them at Hardhome—stupidly.”

“I know it was mindless of me to do so,” she agreed. “I’m sorry for leaving you at the beach.”

“Don’t apologize. It was stupid, yes, but not many would turn around and go back into the slaughter. I realized you were sort of like me in that moment. Stubborn. Brave. Not liking to be told what to do.”

Karsi offered a small smile that Dany returned. She felt almost as if she were making a friend out of Karsi.

“May I?” she asked, holding out both hands.

Dany placed the egg carefully into her grasp. She watched as Karsi held it up towards the light of the lantern attached to the metal holder in the ice.

“The Night King, he came out of the ice you said?”

“I guess so. Sam says they sleep under the ice for a time, then rise. We don’t know what causes them to wake. He read it in a book written long ago.”

Karsi’s eyebrows pulled together. “Who is Sam?”

She waved her hand dismissively. “You’ll meet him one day. He’s becoming a Maester for Castle Black. He is one of Jon’s closest friends.”

“He has friends?” she laughed. “Count me surprised.”

Dany chuckled briefly as Karsi handed the egg back over, looking to be contemplating something.

“It’s too bad. A dragon would be great help in the war that has yet to come.” She turned her head toward the open land, squinting her eyes as she fought the icy wind. “We will need all the help we can get.”

“So, you don’t think I’ve lost my mind?”

Karsi shrugged it off, mostly indifferent. “I think it odd, but there is a lot in this world we cannot explain. We all see things differently.” She motioned to the stone egg and knocked it twice with finger. “Perhaps this dragon is asleep like the Night King was and will wake one day.”

Daenerys wasn’t sure if she was just joking or if she had considered that to be a possibility. She looked down at the egg before holding it close to her stomach.

Karsi got closer to the edge. “They’re all out there, somewhere.”

“We know where they will be headed. This is the only place left.”

Karsi nodded, and for the first time, Dany noticed a hint of fear flash across her features. “If we are going to be side by side in this fight, I ought to get to know you better. Tell me, Lady Commander, how did you get to be mixed up in all of this?”

Where to even begin?

“Well, it’s a rather long and complicated story.”

She leaned up against the Wall that carved out the section that faced Wildling territory. “I’ve got some time to spare. Besides, if we are to be allies, we should know each other’s stories. You can go first.”

Chapter Text

Jon

There was a sense of alertness that stepped with the Wildlings once the castle came into view. They all marched together, forming a long line, probably miles long. They had been quiet most of the way, until then, when the chatter picked up. They had gotten lucky and the winds died down that day, so they were able to push through and make it to Castle Black about mid-day, when there was enough sun still left that they could try to settle in.  

It should have been a relief to get back in one piece, yet, with every step closer, Jon felt an ominous feeling seep in upon the return. He was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and he was still nervous about the reaction the brothers would have, especially a crucial few that were never pleasant. He supposed it was good of him to think about how the others would react to his decisions, but a portion wished he just didn’t care. It would make marching tens of thousands of Wildlings up to Castle Black easier.

Bringing the Free Folk was the right thing to do, and come the dead army, they would all be thankful Jon did what he had. Still, they would hate him until that very moment.

“Jon?”

He turned his head to Dany, who rode up next to him. “Hm?”

She gave him a look—an it’s going to work out kind of a look.

He stopped his horse and Ghost halted next to them. He looked over to see Ghost, who did not have any particular hesitance about moving forward, which was somewhat comforting. The southern gates were unguarded for the most part, though a brother passing by noticed them all. Moments later, brothers were shouting instructions, and the battered gates were opened.

The sense of uneasiness was strong, despite him trying to eradicate it altogether. He realized then that even though it should have, it did not feel as if he were returning home, no feelings of warmth. He tried to think about what his father or Robb would have done—but they all, including Jon, would do the same, and that was to keep moving forward.

He was the Lord Commander.

What he said was final, like it or not.

Daenerys

Aemon picked up an egg from the trunk she had brought in. The creamy colored one with the gold flecks rested in his hands, his thumbs running over the scaled outside, those scales all perfectly uniform. His thin eyebrows shot up into his forehead. “Heavy,” he remarked.

Indeed, they were.

The pair were there in his chambers, as he was not feeling well still, and he informed her that ever since they had left, he had been in bed. Well cared for in their absence, of course, as Olly has been at his bedside when they arrived. Even he had been intrigued to see the eggs, not wanting to touch, but marveled at the sight before leaving them alone to go get a hot supper brought up.

Dany sat there at the edge, retrieving the egg from Aemon, holding it in her lap. “I wish you could see them. They’re truly beautiful.”

Aemon brought his finger up to his head, tapping twice. “I can see them in here, just as I see you.”

Daenerys averted her eyes. “I wish I hadn’t seen what is coming this way. The dead…it was horrific. People were dying everywhere, being hacked apart by men and women who had flesh falling off of them. And they all march this way.” Daenerys felt a lump in her throat forming, but she swallowed it down. Her skin prickled. “I don’t know if they can be defeated, even with the Free Folk here now.”

“And having to admit that is frightening, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but…if the Northern Houses all banded together with us, then we might have the power and resources to rid Westeros of the Night King and the army of the dead.”

Aemon knowingly smiled. “You want to convince Jon to take Winterfell.”

She was impressed by his insight. “How do you know?”

“Because I know you. And I know Jon. You want to protect what is his by his Stark blood and combine forces.”

She had thought about it for hours and hours as they had marched back to Castle Black, and it seemed like it was the only possibility that gave them upper hand.

“Do you think it’s doable?”

“To convince Jon or to take Winterfell?”

“Both,” she clarified.

Aemon brought both his hands together on his chest, resting right where the furs ended. “Jon’s commitment to the Night’s Watch is unwavering. He owns no lands and wears no crown. Any movement on his part to take Winterfell would seem like a breach to those vows to the others.”

Daenerys shifted in her seat, not liking that answer, and knowing it was true. “He doesn’t have to be the one to go,” she alluded carefully, testing the waters.

Aemon was quiet before he started to smile, a small chuckle rumbling out of him. “It sounds like you have a little bit of Visenya Targaryen in you.”

It was a compliment that made her heart flutter. “I’m just trying to be tactful, to prepare for the future. And besides, Winterfell is recorded as being belonged to the Starks for the majority of its history. Not all the Starks are gone. Jon is here. Sansa Stark remains alive—”

“And missing,” Aemon corrected her.

“She has vanished, yes, but she is still out there,” she countered with. “Someone powerful aided in her escape from King’s Landing, that is certain. Wherever she is, I’m sure she dreams of home.”

“Home,” Aemon echoed. “Winterfell.”

Dany straightened up her back, a prickle of anger filtering through her. “Lord Bolton cannot control the North. He’s a traitor. Who would ever trust him?”

“Lord Bolton no longer does control the North,” came Melisandre’s voice. Daenerys twisted around suddenly, only to see the Red Woman there. She stood in the open doorway, tall, and statuesque. Her face showed no signs of any emotion, but her eyes were honed in on Daenerys. “He is no longer alive.”

Daenerys abruptly got up from the bed, her brows pulling together from such news. She forgot all about how Melisandre had interrupted a private moment between Aemon and her. “He’s dead?”

It was hard to believe such news, but Dany knew that Melisandre would not have said so if she were not certain. Daenerys almost let the sides of her mouth turn upward. That was what happened to traitors—they never lived to old age.

Melisandre held out her hand, a small scroll tucked between her fingers. “Lord Bolton is dead and his bastard son sent a message about it.”

Her tone was sharp when she asked, “And you opened it?”

Melisandre shook her head, the smallest hint of disapproval on her face. “It was not what is written in here that told me of Lord Bolton’s death.”

Daenerys approached and took the scroll, the seal unbroken. Her thumb ran over the red wax with the Bolton sigil stamped in place. It made her jaw set tightly, almost wanting to crumple the paper up and throw it into the fire burning to keep the room warm. His words were worth nothing, and no doubt whatever words were on the paper were not friendly ones.

She swallowed down the anger that started to beat with her heart, and turned back to Melisandre. She was looking down at the crate with the eggs in them. She did not look to be surprised at the sight as she examined, her face not revealing an emotion or internal thought. It made Dany wonder what it was she was thinking so cryptically.

“The flames don’t lie,” Melisandre whispered. Her hands danced over the eggs, not touching them, but merely hovering. “The Lord of Light has a plan for us all.” She shot a look over to Daenerys. “You will know when you’re part comes into play.”

She was so sure of something. It was in her eyes. However, whatever it was, she was reluctant to fully reveal.

 

It was well past the time she should have been asleep, but there were certain things that were keeping her up and wide awake—mainly Jon not having returned yet, and the scroll that she had been given.

It was true, Lord Bolton’s son had written a letter addressed to Jon, which she shamelessly opened herself, knowing Jon would not mind her tearing into it. Although, with the atrocities Ramsey Bolton had written, Jon may have not wanted her to see. The ink was burned into her mind. The message was there her hand, but she could not bring herself to seek Jon out and give it to him. She was waiting there in their room for him to come back, but she had decided in the silence to wait until morning to hand over the scroll.

Her stomach was already twisted from reading the words, no need to spread the vile feeling over to Jon after dealing with Ser Allister and the rest who disagreed with his decisions to bring the Free Folk right into their castle.

The new knowledge had Dany’s mind spinning. Sansa Stark had been at Winterfell, married off to Ramsey Bolton—as he had referred to Sansa as his wife—yet somehow managed to escape.

Smart girl.

She had escaped another enemy.

She would be coming to Castle Black for refugee, Daenerys guessed. It was the safest bet. Daenerys could not think of another place to go. Jon, as her half brother, was the only other known surviving immediate kin.

Imagine what she would think when she found out about the dead army and tens of thousands of Wildlings brought from the other side of the Wall. That would be conversation for Jon to have with her when she arrived, and hopefully she did so rather quickly and safely. The next storm could blow through any day.

She thought about what it might be like to meet Sansa, but after the ordeal she had gone through at King’s Landing and Winterfell, who knew what she would be like. Nonetheless, Dany would make sure she felt welcomed.

As the door opened, Daenerys shifted, tucking the scroll under her pillow to hide. She could hear how heavy Jon’s boots against the flooring sounded, an indicator that he was stressed. She knew he would come back with his mind whirling after talking with the remaining brothers who had been left at Castle Black, so she had lit some candles, groomed her hair, and slipped on a robe that was light pink, nearly see-through—one she had brought from Dorne that suited the warmer climate and one that was packed with the purpose of seduction behind it. Dany would make him forget all about what was on the other side of their room.

Jon shut the door behind him once Ghost sneaked through, pulling off his gloves with his teeth and tossed them to the side. He barely looked her way, only went over and placed two hands down onto a nearby table, his back turned to her.

Must have gone worse than she thought.

Daenerys slid off the bed and crossed the flooring on her toes, trying not to make too much noise.

“It didn’t go well, did it?”

She almost didn’t ask it, but she wanted to know more.

She peaked around to his face, his scowl being an indicator of his blunt answer of, “No.”

“Did you tell them about what we saw? Maybe if Karsi or Tormund also told them—”

“It’s not that they don’t believe it, it’s more that…” Jon spun around, glancing her over for the first time, and taking her at the waist. “Let’s not talk about it. I’ve had enough for today, if I’m honest.”

She eased her hands onto his shoulder, pulling off his thick cloak, it half falling onto the chair behind him. She started to massage the tense parts between his shoulder blades best she could.

“You look nice,” he told her, voice low.

Ah, so he did notice.

She shyly ducked her head, remembering how nearly every night on their march toward Winterfell he had snuggled under furs with Dany and slipped inside of her, getting warm against her body from friction and lust.

Daenerys slid her hands down the length of his chest that was still guarded by leather. He nuzzled her cheek before nipping at her neck, pressing his palm into her lower back to encourage her to come closer, which she did. Daenerys loved that he wanted her, and not only that, but how he wanted her with such an urgency.

She decided to play it more seductively, letting a light hand fall onto his groin. “Take off your clothes,” she whispered, pulling back from his grasp.

When she wiggled away, his eyes were left wanting, so he did as instructed as Daenerys bounced over to their bed. Her fingers lingered around the line of material down her chest that exposed some of her breasts. When her back hit the bedding, the lace trim of the robe along her legs got hiked up.

Jon was not far behind her. He finished removing his breeches and followed her onto the bed, kneeling down, and hovering above her. He dragged the backs of his fingers along her legs like he was asking for permission.

Not just yet.

She was playing with him, keeping her legs pressed together, hiking them up towards her chest to not let him get a grip on her. Jon was calculating the situation before him, attempting to tickle her to distract her, but she rolled to her side as she laughed, his fingers attacking her sides, and she bundled into a ball further.

They tussled around, stealing kisses when they could, until Daenerys was flat on her stomach and Jon was pressed up against her back. They came to a slow then and Dany waited to see what his next move might be. Tyene always said sometimes it was best for the woman to lead, but sometimes she needed to know when the man was to be in control.

It was one of those times.

Jon bent in further. He gathered all her hair into his fist and held it at the top of her head so his lips could brush the back of her neck. Daenerys moaned against the fur from the contact, and her hand traced upward until she could caress the side of his face and up into his hair. She could feel his hard cock up against her, how his hand gripped her waist, and how his body was moving was moving the material of the robe as he pressed into her. She shook it off as best as she could until Jon removed it entirely.

She was panting by the time she found herself pushing upwards onto her hands and knees. She grabbed a fist-full of the furs as Jon took both her hips, a new position for them. She wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but hearing him grunt as he slipped into her made her mouth drop open.

“Daenerys,” he sighed.

She made a small noise, but could not focus much on any words. He felt so good inside of her, the angle of her body aiding towards her own pleasure. Her body moved forward, then back with every thrust, her breasts swaying.

Oh, my.

“Dany,” he said again, voice hoarse.

She knew that tone and it made her grin, his grip on her tightening again. He kept on bringing her hips back to meet his until the sounds of desperation were pouring out. She was not close to her own peak, but it was not about her that particular night. With one last thrust which jolted her forward, Jon groaned from bliss.

Dany tilted her head to look behind her best she could, smiling.

Moments later and Jon was sprawled out on the bed and she slipped a leg in between his two, in order to rest there against his chest, as close as she could get.

“I love you,” he told her, just as he did every night.

She woke up startled, a small gasp escaping, eyes flashing open. Daenerys looked around the room but there was no reason for her to have been brought out of a dream like that. She rubbed her eyes and found that Jon was not next to her. There at the edge of the bed, Ghost was sitting up, staring at the door, fixed in that direction

Something was wrong.

“Ghost? What is it?”

Dany hesitantly got up and out of bed. As soon as her feet hit the ground, Ghost started to whine and launched towards the door. She threw on her cloak and some boots and let Ghost lead the way. With every step they took down the hallway and stairs, it felt like she was moving in slow motion.

She found herself walking in the snow finally, following Ghost, who turned his nose up into the air. Her gut felt like it had tightened up, her hair sticking up on her arms.

The smell of blood was in the air.

Chapter Text

Daenerys

She wanted to scream, but there was no air in her lungs.

Daenerys stood there, snow falling from above, just some flurries, watching as the red blood pooled further, and formed a stream.

Her heart stopped, that she could have sworn.

There was no movement.

The only way Daenerys knew she were alive was the sudden heaving of her chest and the sound of the howl Ghost let out that rang in her ears, the sound catching throughout the courtyard.

No.

It was dream.

A nightmare.

It had to be.

Wake up.

Despite her confusion, she rushed forward, tripping over the snow, only to fall right into the blood by Jon’s body.

“Jon,” she sobbed through a short breath.

Ghost continued to howl into the night, a twisted, heartbroken sound.

Her hands were shaking as they hovered over Jon, until they planted right onto the leather that covered his chest with blood oozing out. Her hands were covered from just lightly touching the wounds. She could feel the coldness of his body, the stillness of it—and everything fell apart.

He was gone and she knew it.

That was when she screamed. She wasn’t sure if she had ever wailed like that before, maybe not even as an infant. It was all she could do in that moment.

Her panicked voice carried all throughout the castle. It was not long before her panic attracted Edd, newly woken, the laces of his boots barely tied when he reached her.

“No,” she choked out, her sobs nearly making her unable to breathe.

Her hands were back on the wounds, trying to keep the blood in. Edd fell to his knees across from Daenerys, on the other side of Jon.  He stilled before he also placed a hand down onto his bloody body, still seeping blood despite any effort from Daenerys.

“We have to get him inside,” he slurred, in shock. She would not characterize his voice as being calm, but steady and alarmed. “And you,” he emphasized. “We can’t be out here.”

By that point, she wasn’t perceiving her reality anymore, and only barely felt a hand fall onto her shoulder to help her up. It didn’t belong to Edd, but another. Ser Davos. He had heard the commotion, as did others, who were surrounding the walkway, some stumbling down into the snow in shock, murmurs being shared.

She wanted to start yelling again—yelling for the heads of who had done this—but she couldn’t find her voice.

A few other brothers rushed over, at Edd’s instruction, and lifted Jon from the snow, ushering him away and back inside. There was a nothing but a pool of blood left behind where he had been lying.

“This way, Lady Commander.”

She felt lost and defeated, unable to process her thoughts. Ser Davos was trying to guide her, keeping a hand placed on her shoulder as he walked side by side with her, and her feet began to go in the way he wanted.

Though a lot was a blur, one thing was not. Before they disappeared inside, and with a quick glance around through watery eyes, Daenerys noticed a few key missing brothers.

There in the room, they had been there for some time. The door was latched shut, just to be on the safe side. No one knew what the others were capable of or what they planned—or how many in total were involved in the murder.

“They killed him,” said Edd, his gruff words showing both his rage and his heartbreak over his Lord Commander and friend’s death. “That fucking traitor Ser Allister and the others following him! Marsh. Yarwyck. It had to have been them. They’re always lurking around, huddled together. They plotted this.”

Daenerys only half heard Edd has he seethed. She was standing at the head of the table, Jon’s body lying down the length of the wood, his head resting right below her. She had both hands settled along the side of his face, fingertips resting just above his jawline. She was watching him, almost like she was waiting for him to breathe again, for his eyes to open, to hold her one more time.

Instead, he was so lifeless. Jon’s skin had gone pale, paler than she had ever seen, which only made the stains of blood look much harsher. There was no movement—nothing. Just the body of the man she loved.

Edd was having a hard time looking in the direction that Jon was, choosing to pace most of the time with his head down, but then, she noticed him walk so he was aligned with a full view of him. “What do we do now? What’s our next move?”

Daenerys blinked, no tears coming down. Her own body seemed to be incapable of producing any more tears, her earlier hysteria taking a toll. There was only puffiness and dried lines of salt that ran from her eyes down to her neck that was left as evidence. It stung with every blink, but the feeling of ache in her mind and her heart was far worse for her.

Daenerys removed her hands and placed them flat onto the table, her mind beginning to swirl, her heart rate picking up. There were several feelings that she felt, mostly ones that made her want to lay down and not get up, but the prickle of anger was starting to swarm. She gritted her teeth as her body went hot.

Ser Davos cleared his throat, answering a question that Dany had failed to realize had been directed to her. “Well, we have some options.”

“No,” she interjected voice level, cold. Dany did not look at them as she spoke. “Not when it comes to this. This ends one way.”

One way only.

They knew what she meant, and Daenerys knew that Edd would be agreeing with her. Those who committed mutiny would die and Edd would be one of the first to have his blade ready to shed blood.

She noticed Ser Davos nod out of the corner of her eyes after exchanging a look with Edd. “I have to mention that I’m not as good with a sword. I haven’t fought much in my life, admittedly. And, not to mention, Thorne will be protected. We have to remember that factor. It won’t be easy. We don’t have the numbers, which means I don’t think we have enough strength on our side to—”

Daenerys drew in a steady breath and finally addressed both men. “Ser Davos, you don’t understand.” In an eerie calm, she stated, “I will burn Castle Black to the ground if that is what it takes to kill every last one of the traitors.”

She could not have been any more clear.

Ser Davos stood with his brows furrowed, not sure what to say in reply. Edd, on the other hand, snorted. “Good riddance,” he murmured, looking around.

Dany tried to keep her composure, her head held high, swallowing down a lump than was trying to convince her to start heaving again. She had cried enough in front of the pair, and it was no longer time for tears or weakness. It was time to strategize.

“Find out who they all are,” she said to Edd, knowing he would have the connections with the other brothers to piece it all together. “I want every name.” She turned to gaze to Ser Davos. “And I want Tormund and Karsi. Find a way to sneak them in. Tell them what has happened and what they are walking into.”

They would come, regardless.

Edd nodded and headed for the door. Ser Davos went with him, filing out of the room quickly. Olly, who had been standing quiet in the corner the entire time looking as though he had lost his family all over again, was the last one remaining in the room. But, instead of moving outward, he moved towards Daenerys.

“I should have said something to Jon,” he muttered, voice crackled, “or to you.”

Dany got down to his level and put her hands onto his arms, encouraging him to look her in the eyes. “What do you mean by that?”

“I thought—I thought I had overheard Ser Allister talking about…what they did. They were planning it. I wasn’t sure at the time though. I should have just told him when you both returned instead of staying silent. He might still be here.” He hung his head, sobbing lightly. She saw that he was ashamed. “I was angry he brought the Wildlings and didn’t want to talk to him. And now—”

“He’s dead,” she finished his sentence.

Daenerys released Olly and returned to a standing position, trying to hold herself together. She wasn’t going to be able to hold it in much longer.

“I’m sorry.”

Daenerys turned away. “I need the room,” she told him, attempting to not sound cold.

Olly quickly removed himself, and as soon as the door shut behind her and she latched it once again, a strong wave of emotion strangled her. She could not believe her nativity in the idea she had where she wanted to say her own set of vows to people who would do such a thing, to take Jon from her.

Those with Stark blood knew betrayal all too well.

Her blood boiled further.

She wanted them dead, all of them. The sooner, the better.

Within arms distance was a lantern hanging on the wall, which she plucked from its place and threw across the room. For not even denting the metal, the noise was loud. Ghost's ears perked up by her sudden flare, watching as she stumbled forward. When she dropped to her knees, one hand remained on the edge of the table with Jon’s body, still holding onto the coldness. The loss she felt was so significant that she was unsure if she would ever be able to get off the floor.

A strained cry came out as Ghost nudged his head over, snout rubbing her. He placed his head onto her lap. He looked at her like he wanted to say something, perhaps something that would comfort her. The only words that she could think of were the words of Melisandre: time is tricky—there is often too little, that is, until there is too much.

Too much time, she thought. Too much time alone, too much time left without him.

That was went something clicked.

Melisandre.

Her head had popped up with a thought, and at the same time, there was a knock at the door that startled her. Ghost growled lowly from his place as a warning.

“Lady Daenerys.”

It was the voice of Ser Allister. They must have been watching, waiting for the others to leave.

 “We mean you no harm,” he started off. “I give my word of that. I know you may not feel as though that means much, but it does to me. We have come to tell you that if you come with us, we will bid you save passage back to Dorne, where you belong.”

Where she belonged was with Jon.

Where she belonged was fighting off the evil that marched their way.

Although, in fact, Dany felt that the words Ser Allister was saying were true, that he meant her no harm, and that he would make sure that she found a way back to Dorne, there would be no convincing her to leave. And certainly she would not allow them to take control of Castle Black. Their true intentions were obvious, even to the stupidest among them.

She meant what she said. She would burn the whole castle down to char and ash before she let Ser Allister take Jon’s place.

“Think about it,” he told her, sounding somewhat hopeful. Did he really think she would consider such a thing? “We’ll be back. There is a pyre ready to burn the body.”

Dany’s eyes narrowed at the door as she heard what sounded like three to four people walking away. Daenerys was trying to not get too upset, her hand balling into a fist, nails drawing blood from her skin from the pressure.

“Traitors,” she spit out.

Her enemies.

Enemies that would be dealt with when the time came. Ellaria used to remind all the girls around her—and the boys—that there was nothing to fear more than the wrath of a woman, especially one who had been betrayed.

Dany’s hand drifted closer to the hand of Jon’s that she could not see from her angle. Still, she rested her palm over his lifeless fingers. Holding onto him made her feel empty, but there was a flicker of hope in her, and that was enough to bring her up off the ground.

Melisandre came knocking next, alone. When Daenerys let her in, her eyes wandered over to Jon’s body, lying there cold on the table—the first time she was seeing him like that. Daenerys thought she even saw sadness in the Red Woman’s eyes, which was unexpected.

Dany refocused and went over to the body. She twisted back, inquiring, “Does the Lord of Light give second chances?”

Melisandre cocked her head to the side. “Second chances?”

“You know exactly what I am talking about.”

Daenerys was in no mood or state of mind to be playing any games.

“I see,” Melisandre commented, bowing her head slightly to show that she comprehended. “You want me to bring him back.”

“Is it possible?”

The Red Woman looked to be searching for an answer to that question. “It is…complicated.”

Complicated. Well, it was not a direct no.

“From the way you talk about it, it doesn’t seem as though The Lord of Light would make anything too complicated or you wouldn’t be able to understand what he wanted or what role anyone is supposed to play.”

“The Lord of Light has his eyes on you, not Jon. He had a role to play, yes, but—”

“But his role isn’t over yet,” she finished before Melisandre had a chance to. “Tell me something, Melisandre. You say the Lord of Light has his eyes on me. What do you mean by that?”

“You have a grander purpose here,” she answered immediately. She took her hands out of the robes and looped her fingers together in front of her body. “A destiny beyond what either of us could ever truly understand at this point in time.”

“What if I had been butchered at Hardhome? Then what?”

It was then that a small smile appeared. “Lady Daenerys, you have no idea how powerful the unseen world around you is. If the Lord of Light wants you alive, he will keep you alive, no matter the cost to anyone else.”

“Why me?” she challenged. “I can’t make sense of it. What makes me so special to the Lord of Light, who I am not even sure I believe is real.”

“Your belief in him is not what matters, only that you follow his path that has been set for you.” Melisandre approached, her hands flashing out, grabbing the sides of Dany’s face. “You are the one who is promised. You have been since you were born. Everything has led to this. The Lord of Light has brought you here, to this very moment, for you to birth what belongs to you and take on the darkness that has yet to come. It will be upon us soon.”

Daenerys was at a loss of words. She was not quite sure what to believe, what to say, or what to do. It was one of the worst days of her life, and yet, Melisandre was trying to reassure her that the actions that had taken place happened for a reason—a reason, of course, that she did not understand.

Dany started back into the depths of Melisandre’s eyes. “If I died, would you try to bring me back?” she asked in a whisper, curious from what she had said.

Melisandre’s face changed. She knew she had been caught. “I would try, yes.”

“And do you think that the Lord of Light would give you the power to bring me back from the dead?”

“You wouldn’t die if the Lord of Light did not want—”

“Hypothetically,” she empathized, “if it were to happen.”

Unable to lie, she nodded.  

“If you have so much faith in the Lord of Light, then show it. Prove it,” she challenged. “Bring Jon back to me. I need him at my side.”

If all were true—would the Lord of Light deny her the request?

Melisandre blinked, her eyes once again drifting over to Jon.  It occurred to Dany at that moment that although her belief in the Lord of Light was unwavering, Melisandre didn’t believe in herself as much as others thought she did.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” Daenerys added.

Nothing—that was the worst that could happen.

She expected Melisandre to see what she was saying—that the attempt to bring back Jon simply wouldn’t work. However, Melisandre saw it in a deeper way.

“That worst that could happen is that I fail you and your wishes,” she admitted to.

Oh.

There was a shift between them then, and it was sensed by both.

“Will you try?” she asked, more gently that time.

Not a command or an order, just a request.

A plea.

Melisandre stared blankly, then dropped her eyes. “I can, but there would be a price for what you want.”

“A consequence,” she echoed.

“Death pays for life. There is no escaping that balance.”

She had made her choice.

“Very well.”

Whatever the fate she might have taken she would have to accept with no other to blame but herself. It was a risk she had to take.

As it had been decided upon, she met the Red Woman’s intense gaze with as much fire, maybe more, than she was giving.

She motioned to Jon. “What do you need?”

“Only a few items. I can get them myself. No one will dare approach. The men here are afraid me.”

“They should be.”

A small knock at the door interrupted them, and Dany reached for a dagger. Ghost picked up his head, nostrils flaring.

“It’s me,” announced Olly. “I’m alone.”

Daenerys crossed the room and opened the door, looking down at the boy. He was out of breath, having run to her.

“Olly?”

His eyes were red from crying, the pale skin below speckled with red dots. “It’s Maester Aemon.”

As quickly as she could, she got to Aemon’s room, following Olly the whole way there, as he acted as a lookout as they went around corners. When they arrived, for the first time, she saw how frail he looked in his old age. He was still cuddled up under furs, his breathing ragged. The sight rattled her for only a moment.

She rushed to his side, kneeling down onto the side of the bed. “Aemon.” She took his hand in hers. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m in my final moments,” he said to her.

“No,” she outright denied, “No, it’s too soon. How did this happen so quickly?”

“Shhh. I’m not afraid,” he told her, confident. “Death has purpose, especially now.”

Her skin pricked as guilt stabbed her. Was this the price Melisandre had talked of? Was it possible that it had all been set in motion already?

Was this the consequence she would face—or was it a coincidence?

“You’ll be just fine,” Aemon encouraged, the best he could manage. “All you have to do is remember who you are. Tell me, who are you?”

Through new tears, she said, “Daenerys Targaryen.”

He used what little might he had left to squeeze her hand. “No, tell me you really are.”

She drew in a shaky breath and declared to him there, “I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the Blood of Old Valyria, Blood of the Dragon, and Lady Commander of the Night’s Watch.”

“Yes, that you are. And you will do what needs to be done. You will be written in the books outlining history. You are destined for great things. I knew that from the very day you showed up here…maybe even before that from the snippets of gossip I heard of you in Dorne.” Aemon had to inhale and exhale a few times before he gave his final advice. “You are strong. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself, just as I do and always have.”

Daenerys sniffled, tears running down both cheeks. “I will,” she promised.

Aemon’s corners of his mouth lifted up just as his eyes closed shut, his breath seizing. Though he looked peaceful, even happy, Daenerys felt an overwhelming sadness sweep through her, clawing her heart, and nearly shredding it entirely.

First Jon, then Aemon.

There was silence around her, the kind of silence that made her mind go blank. She placed both of Aemon’s hands together on top of the furs above his heart. The last of her family was gone—it was just her remaining.

Be strong, she reminded herself.

Daenerys reflected about how she was grateful for the time she had been able to spend with Aemon, even though it was only several months in total. He had given her support and love, and a great deal of advice. She would remember him always, as he would live in her heart.

Death has purpose, especially now.

Her head popped up. “Death pays for life,” she said out loud, it clicking into place.

It all made sense, all in which Melisandre had been talking about. She hadn’t been hearing the meaning behind her words fully. It was a balance, life and death, death and life. That whole time, she had been leading her towards exactly what Melisandre needed to complete the request that Daenerys has asked for—and beyond that. She knew what she needed to do, what everything was pointing her towards.

“Death pays for life,” she said louder.

When she turned, Melisandre was standing in the doorway with a collection of items in her arms, ready to attempt what most would think to be impossible.

And so was Daenerys.

They would be completing different tasks—attempting the impossible—but for the same purpose. Daenerys let the feeling from earlier creep in, filling her with a calm, but intense rage.

Filling her with fire.

Chapter Text

 

Daenerys

There was a silence in the room that was hard to bear. Nothing would have happened immediately, but she still had hope, a hope that she was clinging to.

“Now what?”

Melisandre stepped back from Jon’s body, her hands leaving his chest where the wounds had been sown up tight, his body washed of the blood. “We wait,” she answered in an eerie calm.

“There’s time,” she commented, knowing there was much to keep her busy during the interim as they waited to see the power of Melisandre that she claimed the Lord of Light gave to her would come to life.

Daenerys felt as though her entire body had hardened there in that room, looking at Jon’s body, stiff along the table. She finally let herself look away, eyes drawn to the window, shut with wood to keep out the cold. The wind howled, beating against the side of the castle. It would be a long night for all of them.

Ser Davos was standing a few yards from Daenerys, having also watched Melisandre at work and how Daenerys had given her permission to channel the Lord of Light’s power.

“Apologies for interjecting, but what is the plan now?” he asked, breaking a tension.

She had a plan, thought out and set in motion, one that Ser Davos was not privy to. He had another role to play that evening, and he claimed to not be much of a fighter anyways. Besides, she needed someone trustworthy in the room, and she felt that was Ser Davos.

“Stay here, Ser Davos. Look after Jon. When he wakes, he will need a friendly face.”

Ser Davos was not what Dany would call a believer, but he was hopeful, just as she was. He had witnessed a lot in his years, and bringing a man back from the dead was an act that would surely make it into the top of the list of strangest sights. A resurrection would be new to all of them. Still, it would not be a shock, with what they had witnessed at Hardhome. If the Night King could make the dead rise, then Melisandre should be able to bring Jon back.

“As you wish.”

Daenerys approached Jon’s body, looking at him lie there motionless. Even though she was putting all her energy into trying to believe in Melisandre, she still felt gutted. Dany leaned in, kissing him briefly on the lips, her forehead resting on his. It was an intimate moment, a vulnerable one, as she promised him in a whisper to expel the evil from Castle Black before his return—the evil that had ripped his life away from her.

Anger.

It was present.

It was strong.

And it was merciless.

Daenerys Stormborn would not tolerate any acts of treason, and those who betrayed her would die for crossing her. Let that be known to the world.

She turned her head over her shoulder. “Come on, Ghost.”

It felt like she was walking in slow motion as soon as the door shut behind her, Davos locking it behind her. Side by side, Ghost and Daenerys made their way out to the empty courtyard—or so, it would give the illusion of that. The snow had fallen enough to cover the ground where Jon’s body had once laid, but had since seized falling from the sky. Any evidence that he had been there had vanished. All traces of blood were covered by a thick white.

Her boots crunched in the snow as she walked further towards the middle. Daenerys had already stripped herself of her dress and opted for breeches and the golden tunic that matched the Sand Snakes. She wore no cloak, no furs, and had no fear.

It would be a night that would change their history.

The pyre they had built for Jon was there, built up even further with extra wood from storage. Olly had worked quickly for her, his youth his advantage with adding the additions. There at the front were the eggs in their crate, which he had also brought down for her. In her hand, there was a lit stake she had plucked from a metal holder at the outside door.

Closing her eyes, she felt the wind smooth across her face—the kind of wind that felt as if it were coming from every direction, wrapping her up. A couple more breaths in, and her arm extended to set flames to the pyre, the dry hay and small twigs catching first, building up to the thicker branches.

The smell of burning wood filled her nostrils, the crackle of the snapping twigs acting as encouragement.

One step closer.

Daenerys reached down and pulled the cream with speckles of gold egg from the chest, placing it into the pyre. Next went the green, rolling right next to the cream. As she took the black egg out, the silver on it caught the light from the flames, dazzling in front of her eyes. She ran her thumbs over the scales before placing her lips down onto the stone. That one, too, was placed into the growing pyre.

The flames engulfed her arms as she reached to place the final egg in, yet she did not feel any pain. She did not pull away with burning flesh, instead, she was entirely intact, as if she had not put her hands into the flames at all. She had twisted her hand around, seeing the color swarm her, flames moving around rather than trying to burn through her.

“I am the Dragon’s Daughter,” she whispered to herself, reaffirming her stance. “Fire cannot kill a dragon.”

Fire only meant rebirth, not death.

Lady Daenerys.”

She did not turn an inch in the direction of the voice. Just as expected, she heard the hesitant footsteps in the courtyard, the snow crunching under their boots. They had come to see if the body was in the fire, yet would be disappointed to find that was not what was happening.

In front of her, she felt the heat of the flames as she retracted her hands. The flames were distracting, as they called for her so intensely that it was becoming difficult for her to resist. She placed a hand at the back of Ghost to keep him still, there at her side. He picked up his snout to show his teeth at the traitors, letting a fierce growl rumble towards those who had caused harm.

Jon.

She was doing this for him.

For herself.

For their future.

There was a different feeling surrounding her, and she wondered if it was from Melisandre, if the Lord of Light had magic flowing through them all. She had to believe in it, because there was no other choice. If it truly was the will of the Lord of Light, he would bring Jon back to her at Dany’s request.

In front of her, the fire suddenly roared, sparks flying up and travelling towards the clouds. She glanced to her side and let her eyes travel to each traitor standing there. Some were standing in the shadows, the followers—the sheep.

One.

Two.

Three.

She dared not to smile, to keep her façade intact, but there was a sense of mischievousness that tickled her as she counted. They had their hands on their swords, all but Ser Allister. He looked at her warily, trying to calculate what was going on, why she was out in the open, why she lingered so close to the flames, why she had even torched it to begin with.

It was all as planned. Melisandre’s instructions had been clear.

They did not know what was happening, nor would they, until it was all over.

Before any talk could happen, an arrow pierced through the throat of Yarwyck, blood gushing out, him choking on it before flopping into the snow from Karsi’s arrow.

Tormund—loudly—announced his entrance to the scene, swinging a sword right through a brother, who did not even have time to react before a sword was plunged into his chest. He twisted and took out another brother just as quickly as he did with the first.

Edd was next, striking revenge as he took the head of Marsh. One swing took him to the ground, the second taking his head clean off.

Ser Allister was taking it all in, with surprise and wonder. He was closest to Daenerys, as he had been the leader of the traitors. He should have known that the events before them would unfold—Targaryen’s always lived by their saying of fire and blood—yet he did not predict that Daenerys would have orchestrated an ambush.

Poor Daenerys, lost, alone, and without a fight.

It must have been a true shock to Ser Allister to stumble upon the opposite.

When the final blow was delivered, he did not move, only stared at Daenerys—perhaps accepting his fate—until his faced pained. He muttered something, but she did not hear what it was, nor did she care to find out. Behind him, Olly backed away, and Ser Allister fell face first into the snow after collapsing to his knees, his last breath taken. There was a dagger in his back, wedged in deeply.

All were dead, overpowered easily, all stemming from a desire for revenge.

“Good riddance,” Edd muttered, spitting into the snow by a body.

Blood was pooling into small streams around them, following the slight dip that formed towards the Wall. Ghost rumbled next to her, then howled into the night. It made her wonder if it may not be just her who felt the change around them, as she had heard that animals could sense changes that the people around them could not. It was in their nature to sense their surroundings at a higher degree.

“What now?” Edd asked out the side of his mouth.

His eyes turned over to Dany for an answer, unsure of how to proceed. Daenerys saw how defeated he remained looking. The loss of Jon was still fresh, still heavy on him.

Not for long, she reminded herself.

“We burn the bodies.” She looked into the flames, and instructed, “Here.”

In exchange, she would ask the Lord of Light for the return of life.

As the bodies were dragged to the edge of the pyre, Edd tossed the last to the edge, the clothes catching first. Daenerys looked beyond the flames and saw Melisandre there atop of the balcony, looking down. Ghost howled again into the night, louder than before.

Dany took in a breath before she started forward, but Karsi grabbed her arm at the elbow to bring her back, alarmed. “What are you doing?”

Daenerys took her hand and calmly said, “Don’t worry, Karsi. You don’t have to fear it. I know what I’m about to do.” She squeezed her hand for assurance. “Fire cannot kill a dragon.”

Her eyes were searching Dany’s and must have seen that she was confident. Karsi’s hand loosened until it fell completely back to her side slowly. Karsi was nervous, understandably, unsure of what to think of it all by the actions Daenerys tookbut she trusted her, and that was why she let go. To anyone on the outside, Dany must have looked like she had joined the other half of her family and descended into madness. But, no, she was entirely sane, every beat of her heart.

Nothing but fire and flames surrounded her, the heat filling her to her core. She looked upward towards the sky, letting it all engulf her.

Chapter Text

Daenerys

 

Another dusk was almost upon them.

It was the second nightfall since Jon took a knife to the heart. He was still in the room where she had left him, untouched, unmoved. Just a body. As the sun was slipping beyond view, Daenerys reminded herself of the power beyond what she could physically see.

He would return.

She glanced away from the window that was open, focusing on a tiny dragon looking up at her. A day old, and yet they had stolen her heart already, all three. The sun had risen that day and so had Daenerys, with eggs that had been stone, come to life for the first time.

They were the reason that impatience and doubt had not seeped in. Jon would return…the dragons did.

From the window, she could still hear Tormund’s booming voice echoing in the courtyard, where the burnt pyre once stood, nothing but black ash on the ground. There was a group of Wildlings around him, all listening in on his tale. She had to admit, as strange as Tormund was, he was a good storyteller with how animated he was. His hands flew in every direction, eyes bulging out of his face, cackling laughter sprinkled throughout.

 “You would not have believed your eyes! She came out of the flames—with dragons! Little dragons on her shoulders.”

“Mother of Dragons,” claimed another, somewhat cautiously.

Tormund nodded his head in confirmation. “Aye, the Mother of Dragons.”

Mother of Dragons, she thought to herself, looking over at the tiny creatures once again. Children.

She approached makeshift cages rested on a table that had been made for them, until larger and more crafted ones could be produced. She didn’t like keeping them in there, but she couldn’t let them wander about on their own. They were too small, too new to the world. She needed to shelter them until it was time to set them free and they were able to fly.

It was a miracle that she had given life to the eggs, and she was entirely grateful for it. She had a new purpose.

Daenerys let her finger stretch out and brush the scales along the cream dragon. “You need a name,” she said aloud.

All dragons had names.

“Viserion.”

For her brother that she never knew.

The deep green dragon hopped forward in his cage, accepting a scratch along his neck. She stared at him, figuring out what was best suited.

“Rhaegal.”

For her eldest brother, who died fighting a war that nearly made their House extinct.

The darkest of them all, the jet black with gold speckled across his wings was next. Daenerys got down to her knees to be eye level with him on the table. She cocked her head to the side, examining, and then she knew.

“Aemaxes.”

After Aemon, who had been kind to her and gave her true advice which she would take forward in her life. He would always be with her.

Daenerys smiled to herself. Those who she had lost would be remembered.

As the horn blew outside, Daenerys perked up, as did the dragons from the noise. It meant that the southern gates were being opened. Dany left the three dragons there in the room she shared with Jon, departing for the door at the bottom of the tower.

Daenerys marched out onto the walkway to see who it was that The Night’s Watch was welcoming into their courtyard. When it all came into view, Dany would have to admit, she was a bit surprised by the sight.

A girl and a woman in armor.

She had just dismounted her horse and was looking around at the brothers that were gazing at the new guest. Dany’s brows pulled together at the puzzle. The girl’s red hair was pulled into a messy braid, dirt on her face, and was walking like she had not left her horse in days, adjusting to the feeling of the ground beneath her. She was exhausted and barely keeping herself upright, her breath looking shaky in front of her from the cold.

Sansa Stark.

She met her eyes at the top of the balcony before she began to descend into the snow, crossing the way. Daenerys took a few steps closer, seeing how the light was drained from the young blue eyes that connected with Dany’s violet ones.

“Lady Sansa?” she asked, for confirmation of her suspicion.

She nodded in response, a shiver rippling through her as she held her cloak tight.

Her voice cracked as she slowly questioned, “Daenerys Targaryen?”

“Yes.”

“My apologies,” she quickly corrected herself, shaking her head as if she were ashamed of her manners. “Lady Daenerys…Lady Commander.”

“No need for such formalities.” She reached her arms out for the girl, showing her the kindness she looked to be desperate for, to show her that she was safe. “Come, please. Let’s get you inside to warm up.”

The tall woman in expensive armor stepped forward to stay close and Dany glanced up at her. Though she had seen numerous female fighters in Dorne, she had never seen a woman in armor like that before, and certainly not adorning a sword as grand as the one she had at her hip.

Sansa followed Dany’s gaze, then meekly explained, “This is Brienne of Tarth. She helped me escape from Winterfell. She saved me, actually.”

Tarth. She knew of that place, as she had sailed by it on her way being shipped up to the Wall. Brienne of Tarth. There, in person, she was something to certainly be admired.

“A friend,” Dany recognized her as, though Brienne remained cautious, her face not changing from the stony façade. “Any friend of the Starks is welcome here.”

“Where is my brother?” Sansa interjected quickly.

Panic seized Daenerys, but only for a brief second that she hoped both Sansa and Brienne had not noticed. Dany was careful with her wording, treading lightly. “He’s not with us at the moment.” Sansa’s eyes faded, and Daenerys quickly added, “But he will return shortly. And no doubt he will expect you with a full stomach.”

In the study, Daenerys added more wood onto the fire that was keeping the room filled with warmth. There was a warm quiet that filled the air, the crackle of the flames comforting as darkness claimed them all until morning.

Sansa was slowly sipping hot broth of some soup as Daenerys draped a fur over her shoulder. She pulled it tighter to her body as soon as Dany released the material from her grasp.

“Thank you.”

A polite girl she was. Dany was not sure if she had met anyone so formal in their interactions, being so careful to not offend, always watching her wording. Daenerys could tell that she meant it, every word of gratitude. As she watched, Dany wanted nothing more than to rid Jon’s sister of any wrong doing. She had not spoken a word about her travels, how she got from Kings Landing to Winterfell, from Winterfell to Castle Black, but surely it had been extensive and terrible. Dany had already caught sight of what looked to be bruises along her wrists and a gash that was healing on her shoulder.

It was not safe for women in the world, that much she was sure they all knew.

Daenerys took a seat slowly in the wooden chair that was angled half towards the fire and half towards Sansa. She glanced over at Brienne, who had finally been allowed to sleep, her head rested against the back of the wall where she sat close to Sansa, slumped uncomfortably in the chair.

“Are you feeling better?” she dared to ask.

“Yes.”

“Is there anything else that I can get you?”

She pulled the bowl away from her mouth, resting it in her lap. “Where is my brother?” Sansa asked again, more serious, sounding afraid of the answer.

She was not naïve, Daenerys would give her that. She knew something was off and Daenerys could not prevent her from learning the truth. She deserved to know.

Daenerys crept to the edge of her seat, reaching over to rest her hand onto Sansa’s. Be gentle, she reminded herself. “Something happened before you arrived. Something horrible and unexpected.”

Sansa’s eyes glassed over as she met Dany’s, swallowing a lump in her throat. “Tell me. I can take it, I promise.”

Daenerys was unsure, as Sansa’s eyes revealed more than she might have thought they did. Pain, suffering, heartbreak, lost hope—her spirit was absorbed by it all. Her hand gripped the cup she held, bracing herself emotionally. She twisted her other hand, and although Daenerys thought that Sansa was pulling away, instead, she gripped tighter. “Tell me,” she whispered.

She relented, and revealed the whole truth. “He’s here in the castle. His body is, at least. Several men of the Night’s Watched betrayed us and stabbed him to death in the snow.”

Sansa froze, not blinking. Her head dropped down to stare at her lap, not wanting to show her face. Dany hated that she had to tell her of such news, and that it had even happened in the first place. It was just another blow to Sansa’s heart after losing nearly all her family, her home, and so much more.

Daenerys leaned in further and whispered, “He’ll be back to greet you soon. I know he will be very happy to see you.”

Her head snapped up, eyes narrowing with confusion, holding back her emotion, as she was afraid to show it. “What do you mean?”

Daenerys got up from the chair with a squeak, walking to the fire, facing it. How could she ever explain it? There was so much detail and story to tell for her to fully understand. Even better, how could she ever explain it and not sound mad to this girl who she just met?

Treading carefully once again, looking into the flames as they dimmed down into bright embers, she questioned, “Have you ever heard of the Lord of Light?”

Sansa paused by the question, but confirmed, “Yes.”

Daenerys turned back to Sansa as she waited for an explanation. “There is a power here. I can’t quite explain it very well, but I felt it. A Red Priestess, Melisandre of Asshai, came to us. She spoke of the Lord of Light and his path for us all. That a great darkness was coming, one that I have seen.” Dany took a more submissive stance and knelt from of Sansa, taking away her bowl, and taking both her hands, which she allowed as she listened. “Melisandre is going to bring Jon back to us so we can fight against what is beyond the Wall. He will breathe again, see again, walk again, all of it. I’m certain. All we must do it wait.”

Sansa’s mouth dropped open, starting to mouth words, but no sounds came out. She was overwhelmed. “I don’t…I don’t understand.”

“I know it’s difficult and I know it’s a lot to ask since I am a stranger to you, but I promise, you just need to trust me.”

Sansa wanted to, Dany could see it in her eyes—the spark of renewed hope. But, she was holding herself back, for fear of being let down again.

“The same power that birthed my dragons is the same power that will bring Jon back.”

Sansa blinked several times before she said anything. “Dragons. Is that a metaphor….?”

“No, not a metaphor.” Daenerys eased up off the ground, motioning towards the door, her hand still linked with Sansa. “It’s a lot to take in at once after your journey, but have faith that what I say is true. Come, and I will show you. You don’t need to fear.”

She contemplated it, but ultimately, Sansa stood up with a softer face, ready for Daenerys to lead her. It was a brave thing to do. Sansa took a leap of faith, perhaps that last she had left.

Daenerys opened the door to reveal the bedroom to Sansa—the first Stark to see a dragon in centuries. She walked in with wide eyes, searching for what Dany had told her. There, on the round table in the corner, the dragons were resting in their wooden cages. Both Aemaxas and Viserion were laying down, while Rhaegal had his eyes on the red headed girl who was new to him.

Sansa hesitated, seeing them for the first time, lingering in her spot. She looked back at Daenerys with awe, who encouraged her to move closer, taking a few steps herself to show that she would be with her.

Her hand rested at the base of her ribcage, completely taken aback. It was evident from her changing expression that there was a lot going through her mind, apart from the shock.

“Now you know the truth,” Daenerys claimed. She took the place next to Sansa, mirroring her stance, shoulder to shoulder. “They were stone and now they live. Jon will be next.”

“Those are dragons,” came Brienne’s loud voice, almost in a way that made it seem like she were looking for confirmation.

Dany and Sansa turned back to see her hovering in the doorway, always watchful of Sansa. She, too, was in shock from the sight of the beautiful creatures. It was not every day that one met a dragon.

“Yes,” Daenerys answered. “They are mine.”

 “Dragons,” Brienne repeated again, more dramatically.

“Dragons,” Sansa confirmed, a hint of a smile playing out on her face towards her traveling companion. She turned back to the cages. “Three of them.”

That was when her face turned entirely into a smile, a genuine one that was not forced or a façade. It made Daenerys’ heart flutter at the sight.

She had hope, just as Dany did, and that was a beautiful thing.

“I’m ready. Can I see Jon now?”

Sansa stared at the scars with a mixture of both sadness and wonder. Ghost was there below the table, his head rested in between his massive paws after a greeting with Sansa.

“What will we do when he wakes?” she asked Dany, voice solemn. She looked around at the walls that enclosed them. She had a judgmental voice when she added, “Stay here?”

Daenerys was confused by what she meant. “Where else would we go?”

Sansa closed her eyes peacefully. “Home. Our home,” she clarified, breathing out with the words. “Winterfell.”

Winterfell.

Jon had talked about several times, but there was always the pain of memories that surfaced when he did. Of course, she had thought about it—what it would look like, what it would smell like, what the people would look like.

What it would feel like to be at the ruling center of the vast lands of the North.

Winterfell.

The home of the man she loved most in the world.

Winterfell.

A silly thought, she had once told herself, but Sansa had reignited the idea. There was a spark of interest that they both had, the thought of overtaking the Boltons, reclaiming Stark territory and rule. They were both thinking it, without saying it out loud, not yet at least.

The whole of the North, once again belonging to Stark blood.

Dany bit at the skin around her nail at the idea—entirely too intrigued. She was getting the sense that Sansa was quite keen about such a plan, but could it work? Though it was tempting to think of, Dany was not quite sure how she would fit in. Northerners didn’t like Targaryens, or anyone else not from the North, for that matter. Northerners befriended Northerners, and that was the end of the story.

She clasped her hands together. “Even if that were possible, I don’t see me being welcomed there in your home.”

Sansa shook her head, ignoring her statement. “If Jon and I welcome you, no one would dare say…well, no one would dare advise too much against it. They wouldn’t have much of a say anyways.”

Dany smiled, but it was partly a cringe. “Do you really believe that?”

Sansa ducked her head before returning it to an upright position. “I know them. I know the people of the North and Stark rule is all they have ever known, all they will ever accept. What we say will be honored.”

Dany swished her mouth from side to side, considering her words she seemed so convinced of. All in all, she guessed it would be similar to being the Lady Commander of Castle Black. She always thought of herself as being an outsider, no matter where she went, but it dawned on her that maybe she never tried to fit in.

Maybe the North could be her home.

“He doesn’t have the name. Jon isn’t a Stark,” she said, not too loudly, as she knew how hurtful the surname was when brought up to Jon.

Sansa glanced down at his body before she looked back at Daenerys. “All my life I told myself that.” She rolled her eyes at herself, closing them tight from memories. Her jaw clenched. “Told myself and others that he was my half-brother, my half-kin. A mistake my father made while he was at war. I was cold to him whenever I had the chance to be, all for the sake of being horrible, and I wished several times over that he did not exist. Then…I realized he was all I had left in the world. My only family. He is my brother, through and through. He is my father’s son, as I am his daughter, and as far as I am concerned, he is a Stark. He is Stark blood. That is what counts.”

It was a speech that Daenerys was certainly not expecting, but she was moved by it. She was sure that Sansa would never repeat all of it to Jon, but what was important was that her mindset had changed.

Jon was her brother.

Jon was a Stark.

Starks belonged at Winterfell.

“We can only go forward,” she told Sansa.

Sansa was in agreeance. “Yes, forward.” She hesitated, once again looking down at Jon. “And to Winterfell when he wakes.”

Chapter Text

Daenerys

The map of the North was before them, tattered at the edges from age and cold conditions, but still legible and well detailed with the landscape and castles. Sansa had spent the majority of their evening telling Dany about every House that she could think of that landed within the North—their history and their territory. Most of it was new to Daenerys, as she had only heard about the Southern Lands, from the Capital and downward. They were exchanging information in the study, as Daenerys had told her about the dead army and the threat they faced. Uniting the North under Stark rule was the only way they could defeat the dead, they had firmly realized.

Not only that, but the Boltons needed to be held accountable for their actions, for their treason against the Starks. Sansa had given small snippets of information about her marriage to Ramsey Bolton during the time she was at Winterfell. Over the course of the night, she had offered up a little more here and there, completely unprompted, though she was clearly struggled to get the words out that aligned with the memories.

She had been beaten—and far, far worse. It made the fire in Daenerys ignite at the mistreatment. Her fists would clench under the table until she forced herself to release the tension. There was nothing they could do in that moment, but Sansa and Dany both agreed that they had to be stopped. The Boltons were puppets that Cersei controlled, pulling the strings any way she wished.

They had stopped talking about it, and the pair had fallen into silence for a short while, enjoying the company as the fire dimmed out. Ghost had settled down at Dany’s feet, wrapped around the chair so he would know if she were to get up if he drifted off to sleep.

“Do you love him?” Sansa asked, staring at the stone that lined the room.

Daenerys brought her attention back to her auburn-haired guest. “Very much, yes.” She was reminded of how that came to be, feeling her cheeks become pink. “When we first met, we were somewhat at odds, but, it grew from there.”

Sansa sucked in a breath, straightening her back. “When my mother first met my father, she didn’t know him. They were strangers arranged in marriage, but they grew love for one other and grew a family at Winterfell.”

Daenerys was grateful Sansa had skipped over the part where her father had murdered the older brother of Ned Stark, which then forced him into marriage with Catelyn.

She ducked her head momentarily and played with the sleeve of her outfit, running her finger along the little pieces of fur that lined the outside. “I’ve heard sometimes that is how it happens.”

Sansa’s eyes faded, though she maintained her composure. “Certainly not always. I’m two marriages in and have had no luck.”

Dany shifted in her chair, the floor beneath her creaking. She bit at her lip momentarily before she continued. “They will pay for what they have done to you and your family.”

“I know.” Sansa lounged back in her own chair. “Let’s not talk about it anymore. The last thing I want to think about is Ramsey. Even saying his name…let’s talk about you. Tell me, I have to know, what could you possibly like about my brother?” she asked, finishing the last of her cup of wine.

Well, her second cup by that point in the evening.

Dany let the mood soften as she giggled. “Many things.”

“Specifics,” she countered with.  

“He’s loyal. He’s brave. He’s a leader and he does what is right. It’s rare to find a person like that.”

Sansa slowly nodded along. “Jon always lived in Robb’s shadow when we were growing up, as did Arya to me. Now they’re both gone and I’ll never get to see them again. It’s strange. When I was young, I certainly didn’t think that at this point in my life that I would have so many regrets.”

Daenerys perked up. “You think Arya’s gone?”

“Yes.”

“What makes you so sure?”

Sansa grappled with the question and a long time had passed before she answered. “I don’t know. That’s what I was told.”

“Have you considered that what was told was not the truth?”

Sansa blinked, her mind swirling with possibilities. “They never found a body.”

If Arya was anything like Jon had described, Daenerys would make a bet that she was alive, somewhere. In fact, she would like to meet the little sister that Jon had talked so fondly of.

“Maybe you’ll have another reunion on the horizon,” Daenerys whispered, hopeful.

In a smallest whisper possible, she allowed, “Maybe.” Sansa twirled her finger along the edge of her cup until she changed the subject. “Lady Commander of the Night’s Watch. How has that gone for you so far? Tell me about it.”

Daenerys straightened up, feeling like she needed more in her cup. “Oh, well, about as well as you might think.”

They both shared a laugh.

“I’ve seen the brothers and they seem to listen to you. That’s power, especially for a woman. Most men are afraid of being overshadowed. What was that boy’s name who follows you? The young one?”

“Ah, that’s Olly. He is sort of a Lord Commander in training. His parents were killed by Wildlings that had slipped South of the Wall years ago. He was only spared because they forced him to run to the castle to deliver a message. Luckily, he was able to seek refuge here. He would not have anywhere else to go. His village was destroyed. ”

“That’s a terrible story for a child. I know the feeling of losing both my parents, as do you.”

“I never knew my parents,” Dany stated. “And from what I’ve heard, not knowing my father when he was alive may have been a good thing. He’s was an evil man.”

“Not your mother,” Sansa argued with her pessimism. “I’m sure she loved you with her full heart, as did mine. It’s a tragedy. I think being without a mother is the worst story a child could have.”

Daenerys put both hands on arms of her oversized chair and started to slouch. Even when Sansa and her tried to avoid it, they always ended up reverting back to talking about the darkness in their pasts or the horrors of the world around them.

“So, the Wildlings attacked villages and then the Wall, and yet the Wildlings are here now making camp outside of the Castle?”

Daenerys sighed, the memory of Hardhome heavy on her whole body, inside and out. It was a memory that filled every crevasse with fear and dread. “Putting aside differences was a lot easier than having them be handed over to the dead army. The more we have on our side, the better chances we have at surviving the storm that marches this way.”

Sansa’s eyes flickered with uncertainty, her face draining to a paler color. Finally, she asked what was on her mind, though she did not want to know the answer. “What are they like? The dead. You didn’t explain a lot about them.”

 “Horrible,” she whispered. “Horrific. I thought I was going to die there on that beach when we collided with the army.” She found herself warped into the memory, the fear, the sounds. Daenerys stifled back any emotion that was trying to surface, a shiver making her cross her arms along her chest. “I never want to experience it again, but I know better than that. They’re coming. They won’t stop until we are all dead and serving the Night King.”

Sansa looked chilled as she reverted to picking around the edges of her nails. She didn’t want to hear about the impending doom they would all face, but just like Daenerys, Sansa knew they would need to strategize against their common threat.

“What do they want? Why now? What’s the motive?”

Dany subtly shook her head. “I don’t know. I wish I did, but it’s not that simple. It’s not as if they will walk up and tell us their reasoning. That would be too easy for us all. The Night King just slaughters and then resurrects. And every day he has more added to the army.”

“And here I thought that we would have enough problems with people who are living,” Sansa scoffed, checking out her empty cup before resting it back on the table. She began to roll up an unused map. “It’s been one problem after the next.”

She rolled her head to the side, looking at the door. It was late, far too late to even be up, yet there they were being kept awake by unavoidable threats.

 “We should sleep.”

“I’m not sure I can,” Sansa admitted, placing the map she rolled in the pile of unused others. “Every night for years, I lie in bed. I’m tired, but all I do is lay there awake, staring into the darkness, thinking about everything that has happened. All that has been suffered through.”

In a dreamlike voice, Daenerys said, “One day, you will be back at Winterfell. You’ll be in our own bed, in your own home, surrounded by allies and family. You’ll be dreaming of Spring, and then you’ll know that you won’t ever have to have another night of restlessness.”

Sansa pulled the braid she had down her back over her shoulder, playing with the ends as she smiled at the thought. “I look forward to that.”

“Me too.”

Sansa stood up from her seat, about ready to retire back to the chambers that had been set up for her. She lingered, looking at Daenerys. “The Mother of Dragons,” she reiterated from hearing it earlier. “It has a good ring to it, I have to admit. I never thought I would be in the presence of someone with such a title.”

She also enjoyed the title. Daenerys Targaryen, The First Lady Commander of the Night’s Watch and the Mother of Dragons.

“I heard you came out of the fire with them,” Sansa said, standing tall, looking down at Daenerys with mystery. “Is that true? The part about the fire.”

She was wondering if it was exaggeration, for the story’s sake.

“Fire cannot kill a dragon,” she repeated, not only to Sansa, but a reminder to herself.

Sansa had her answer. “It’s a strange world,” Sansa said, in almost a trance-like state. “Ones where dead men and dragons are among us.”

A strange world, indeed.

“It makes me wonder,” Sansa continued. “Who is worse, the dead or the living? Who is more terrible, the dead or the living? Who should we fear more, the dead or the living?”

Who should we fear more?

It was a question that might just haunt them both. They had both seen evil before, in different forms, and some very similar. Perhaps the day would come to rid their world of it, whether the evil be dead or alive—melted down until they were nothing but ash and a distant memory.

A new world.

A better one.

“I’m going to head in for the night,” Sansa yawned. “Brienne will be waiting for me. You know how she can worry, and will come knocking any moment.”

“I’ll walk you,” Dany offered, about to get up.

“No, please.” She put out her hand to stop her from getting up. “I don’t want to inconvenience you any more than I already have.”

“It’s no incon—”

“Besides, I feel safer here. I want to walk to my own chambers without fearing that a Lannister spy or a Bolton loyalist is going to watch me or harm me. I can do that here, for the first time in a very long time. No one here will hurt me, you told me that.”

“It’s the truth. These men know the rules and they have seen what happens when they are broken.”

“With that, then, I wish you a pleasant sleep, Lady Commander.”

Dany smiled sweetly. “Please, I mean it, do call me Daenerys.”

She nodded, blue eyes acknowledging the request. “As you wish.”

Sansa maneuvered out of the room slowly, her tall frame walking with grace. Daenerys stayed a bit longer, eyes lingering on the largest map that was laid out. She wondered how Jon would react when she told him that she was conspiring with his sister to take Winterfell back. It could go either way, him being supportive of the decision or wanting to abandon it altogether, thinking his place still remained with the Night’s Watch.

It wasn’t that Daenerys wanted to leave her position there at Castle Black as Lady Commander, but she truly felt that the Night’s Watch members did not belong there anymore. The more bodies they had in a combined army, and the better trained they were, the more chance of success they had. Apart from a few that could act as a lookout to warn them of the approaching dead, it was Dany’s perspective that they should abandon Castle Black altogether.

What good could dragons do at the Wall?

She slumped over the side of her chair, fingers trailing along Ghost’s soft fur. Though he looked comfortable, the direwolf pushed up on his hind legs, nudging the skirts of Dany’s thick dress in the process. He sat down in front of Daenerys, front legs inching forward until he was low enough to rest the weight of his head on her lap. Ghost closed his eyes as she massaged the sensitive fur under his ears.

“I miss him,” she told him, the strings of her heart pulled.

As Ghost began to whine, she thought nothing of it. He was missing Jon, too, and was trying to tell her. But, no. As Dany pulled away, Ghost locked his red eyes on the door behind them.

“What is it?”

Ghost jumped up, and in only a few strides was he able to make it to the door. It was there that he got louder, all while he jumped and started to claw at the door, leaving scratch marks all the way down the wood. The sudden change was alarming.

From where she was, initially twisted in her chair to view what was going on, Daenerys shot up from her seat.

It was time.

She rushed to open the door and followed Ghost as best as she could, though it was difficult to   keep with his pace. He skipped several long stairs at once, reaching the bottom of the tower far before she did, also ripping at that door until it opened with a pull from Daenerys.

She was out in the cold once more, pushing brothers aside, getting anything and everything out of her way as she trailed behind, following the paw prints in the snow. She nearly tripped on her own skirts as she raced up the uneven stairs that lead up to the walkway. There, at the opposite side of Castle Black, she was nearly out of breath. She did not notice how her lungs burned with every breath in until she was standing in the open doorway of the room that was housing Jon’s body.

The windows were open to preserve the body. Snowflakes had piled along the base of the window, dusted all across the wooden planks that made up the floor.  

She stood there with her breath hitched, waiting, watching. Her stomach felt twisted and so did her heart. Ghost padded across the floor, laying his head down onto the table, nudging and licking at Jon’s hand.

Then, finally, on the third night, Jon gasped awake.

Chapter Text

Jon

The rush of air that filled his lungs felt like it could have nearly shattered him.

Senses started hitting him all at once. As his toes wiggled and the muscles in his legs shifted, it felt like there were needles sticking him over and over. His eyes had flashed open with the intake of breath, but it was all black speckles and not much of anything else.

Where was he?

What happened?

Panic swamped him, and he rolled to the side, Jon only found himself starting to fall off something from the dizziness that swamped him. On the way down, he brushed up against something furry—something he thought that he recognized.

“Ghost?” he murmured, not reckoning the sound of his own voice. It was too raspy, too unused, and it made him feel even further alone and lost. In a more desperate sound, he asked, “Ghost?”

The whimper he heard next combined with the touch of a cold nose against his palm, was comforting. The comfort however, only lasted a moment.

For the Watch.

A feeling of dread sunk its ruthless teeth into him.

As parts of his memory returned, so did his vision. Someone was standing there in the room with him, wherever he was, but he could not make out who it was just yet, or even find the words to ask. His mind was clouded and he felt a constant pounding as he moved upward to try and stand.

He realized as a cold wind washed over him that he was naked, a cloth that had been along his lower half fallen off as he stumbled off what he was assuming was a cold table. For only a moment was he able to afford his own weight. His knees then buckled to that weight that he had once been so used to, not able to find his footing. Frigid air assaulted him, but then he made out the figure rushing towards them.

Daenerys.

Though his vision remained blurry, no one else had hair like hers, and as the blob of silver came his way, he reached out for her. As Jon stumbled into her, Dany’s arms caught him, somewhat awkwardly, but she managed to get a firm grip just has he lost all balance, collapsing toward the ground.

Her hands felt so hot against his skin that it seemed like it was burning through. She pulled him just slightly onto something soft that was laid out on the ground.

“I’m here.”

He felt tears streaming down his cheeks from her voice, his grip on her strengthening.

“Where—” he choked out, but could not finish the rest, voice too raspy, sound trapped in his dry throat. Where am I, was what he tried to ask. What is happening?

His hand shook as it flexed to his chest, where he felt an intense pain nearly take his newfound consciousness. His finger outlined stitchings, where open wounds had once been. The delicate skin had not even scarred over yet. When he looked down, hair flopping into his eyes, it came into focus. The stab wounds were all there, flesh chiseled out and red. 

For the Watch.

“Dany,” he whined, scared, fighting off unconsciousness.

“I’m here,” she whispered again. She cradled him, wrapping him in a fur blanket from nearby. “Shh, it’s alright, Jon.”

He felt like a young child being cradled there on the floor, not able to speak full sentences, or even walk. Jon sensed Ghost curl around his side, his large tail flopping over his leg protectively.

It hurts, he wanted to say so badly.

“Ser Allister,” he choked out, his hand touching the wounds again, pieces of memory falling back together.

He remembered all the knives.

Oh, Gods.

Dany held him tighter. “They’re dead, all of them.”

I was dead too.

He remembered it all fading to black as he bled out into the snow, then the nothingness that followed.

Jon’s head dropped against Dany’s shoulder, nudging his nose against her warm skin as his body started to shake. Apart from the pain, his body did not feel like his—at least, not how he had left it.

How long was I gone? he wondered, but still, he was having trouble formulating his thoughts into actual words.

A strained groan left him as Ghost bumped him closer against Dany. That was when darkness claimed him once again.

Jon felt softness against his face as he started to stir. His fingers danced out along the surface that he was on, which he was happy to find that it was not freezing cold like the first time he woke. There was a lightness he sensed before his eyes fluttered open, and when he finally did take in his surrounding, he realized that he had been sleeping in his chambers. With a slight tilt to the right, he knew he had felt a weight beside him, and was glad to see that Daenerys was at the edge of the bed, watching over him with her hands in her lap.

She warmly grinned when their eyes connected, and there was a sense of relaxation Jon felt with that.

The pain was still there, centered around his chest and shooting outwards like roots of a tree, but not as intense and overwhelming as before. The wounds were bound in cloth, wrapped around his midsection, held together with a tie at the side, tight, but not too much. There was no blood on the cloth, a good sign that healing was taking place. He would have the reminder from the scars forever, etched into his skin to take him back to the night he fell into the snow, dead.

Jon stretched out his legs, body feeling stiff and uncomfortable from the flashback, mind wandering backwards too much for his liking.

“Careful,” she warned, concerned.

He headed the warning. Jon reached over and grabbed Dany’s hand from on her lap, pulling it down onto the furs, massaging her knuckles with his thumb. “How long has it been?” he finally asked.

“A day and a half.”

“And before that?”

Daenerys squeezed his hand. “You were dead three days.”

Three full days.

A lump in his throat formed as those words sunk in. He knew it had happened, that his own men had killed him, but hearing it come from Daenerys, the confirmation of death, was heartbreaking—and maybe that was a bad choice of words, given his current state.

Jon’s head sunk further into the pillow stuffed with feathers that was behind him, propping him up. His focus shifted. “How are you?”

She smiled, warm and bright, and it just about made him forget everything. “You’re worried about me?”

“Always.”

She sniffled, tears forming in her eyes. She wiped them away with her free hand. “I knew you would come back to me.”

His hand found the binding, feeling the trail of wounds all along his abdomen, following them up to his heart. “How I am here? How am I alive?”

It was unnatural, out of order.

Her eyes searched around the room, mouth parting, before she started to tell him more. “So much happened, and I don’t want to bombard you with it all unless you’re truly ready to hear it. I just got you back.”

He took in a deep breath, letting it soothe him further. She was concerned, but it would eat away at his mind unless he heard the facts. “Let’s hear it. I need to know.”

Daenerys swallowed hard before she continued. “I guess where I should start is that Aemon has passed.”

It was news that tore through him, a scowl forming deep into his skin. His eyebrows furrowed as his face changed with grief. “No” he found himself trying to deny.

She shook her head. “Yes. He died after you did, not long after. Melisandre…I don’t know exactly what happened, how it works with her. She used her magic to bring you back, and the Lord of Light demands payment. A life for a life is an even trade, I suppose.”

It took a moment for him to grasp what she was saying. When it hit him, his skin prickled, and he remained baffled as the thought of him being undeserving took hold.

“He died for me to live.”

Not a question.

Daenerys was trying her best to not get emotional, but her eyes were welling up again, her face starting to scrunch up as she did her best to not let the tears form. “I didn’t understand what Melisandre meant in the beginning. It was all happening so quickly and all I wanted was you back. I would have done anything. Maybe I wasn’t thinking at all, or trying to remain blind to what was right in front of me. But, given the choice, I would have done it over, even knowing the outcome. I was there with Aemon when he left our world. It’s what he would have wanted,” Dany murmured, seemingly sure of it, regaining composure. “He was ready to leave this world and for you to return. He believed in us, in our purpose.”

“Purpose,” he whispered back, pulling the word from her speech.

“To fight the next war. To prepare Westeros for the dead. To defeat them, so no other generation will face what we have. They can live in harmony knowing what lurks in the ice beyond the Wall will never be a threat again.”

She so sounded convinced that even Jon felt hope fill the room, even after all that had transpired. “I’d follow you into battle.”

The little laughter that bubbled from her next, the kind the shook the bed underneath them, made him feel a little more like himself again. It all flashed in front of him, all the little interactions they had from the beginning, ever since he was handed the Hand of the King seal that informed him Daenerys would arrive shortly at one of the more formidable places in their world. Daenerys was lost in a thought, hand rested over his, and all he could do was stare as memories warped his mind.

This woman he loved.

This woman who saved him from death.

This woman who he would follow to the end of the world and back if she asked him to.

There was so much he wanted to say, but they all knew he was nowhere as good with words to get it all out in the way he was thinking it.

“I felt like a part of me was missing when you were gone,” Dany told him. “I stood there thinking how I had the rest of my life in front of me and I would never see you again. I wanted to be strong for all the others, and myself, but on the inside, I’ve never felt so lonely.”

He pulled on her hand and Daenerys swayed forward. She aligned her body against his, carefully resting her head onto his shoulder. He nudged the top of her head with his nose, catching the scent of both burning wood and citrus.

He felt like he owed her a thank you for bringing him back, but he knew she would hear none of it. He needed her just as much as she needed him.

Together.

Fire and ice.

When his fingers brushed her hair, Dany turned her head upward, grazing his cheek. His eyes closed gently as her lips molded against his. To have never been able to do that again would have been a sin.

“I love you with my whole heart, and all of my being,” he declared.

He had said it before, but it was different that time. It felt different, as if the words had more meaning and weight behind them.

She hummed against his lips. “I like the sound of that.”

Jon nose nuzzled hers. “What are we going to do now?

It was a looming question. He had been so occupied with the initial pain, physical and emotional, plus the reunion with the love of his life, that he had not thought too much about what was to come next. For the first time in a while, he did not want to be the one to make the decision. Instead, he was looking to Dany for it.

“Let’s get you dressed,” Daenerys said, pulling away, even though he groaned from her absence. “There’s someone here for you.”

It was enough to peak his interest.

“Someone?”

His immediate thought went to Edd, Ser Davos, or maybe Tormund. Though the thought of seeing the Wildling so soon made him feel hesitant, as his big friend was not known for being the gentlest.

“Someone you have not seen in a long time,” she elaborated further, in a secretive way.

The peaceful smile she sent his way confused him. There was no one that he could think of that fit the description. It seemed like everyone he knew from a long time ago was dead by that point.

As much as he pestered for more information, Dany would not budge, only helped him dress because bending over was not going to happen for a while, for fear of taking out stitches. The last thing he needed was to start bleeding all over again.

She left to get their guest, and Jon was alone in the room with Ghost. His eye was drawn to a marking on the wooden table they had off in the corner, a big black spot. He looked at it for a bit, wondering what it could be, as it certainly was not there the night before the treason took place.

The wood look as if it had been scorched.

His fingers touched the wood, curious, rubbing it with his nail, but before he could think anymore into it, Daenerys returned. He heard the handle and the loud creak of their large, heavy door. Jon’s eyes averted to the figure that walked through the frame, arms dropping to his side. He knew her well. She was older than he last saw, her features matured, and her height had significantly shot up. But, there was she was, his younger sister.

“Sansa,” he breathed out.

She was alive.

Sansa smiled, and there was actual, true joy behind it. He could not remember a time she had ever smiled at him like that. “Jon,” she greeted. “Brother.”

Brother.

Hearing her say that was more of a shock than seeing her standing there next to Daenerys. Jon didn’t know how to process it, how to react.

What was he supposed to say to her?

What was he supposed to do?

As Sansa’s eyes welled up with water, Jon felt a sense of the past wash over him. The memories flooded back, some good and some bad, some happy and some hurtful.

As she rushed forward, Sansa remained delicate as she wrapped two arms around his waist and hugged, careful of the wounds on his chest. He stood there for a moment, seemingly lifeless again, arms dangling at his sides.

He blinked.

Once.

Twice.

Three times.

When was the last time they hugged? When Sansa was four, maybe five—back when she was little and he could pick her up into his arms. Certainly before she had realized she wanted to emulate Lady Catelyn’s attitude towards him. After that, she had mostly avoided him when she could and any sibling connection had been lost due to his bastard status.

Amidst thinking about it, Jon’s eyes caught Dany’s over Sansa’s shoulder. She was watching him not respond to Sansa with uncertainty. It was not the reaction she was hoping for.

He stopped thinking about the past and embraced who might be the only sibling he had left.

“You’re alive,” she murmured as soon as she felt his arms around her.

“So are you.” He pulled away. “I heard you disappeared from the Capital after Joffrey’s murder.”

The name made the vein in her neck protrude. “Yes, escaped one trap and went right into another. I guess I never learn.” There was pain behind her eyes. “Compared to the Winterfell that belongs to the Boltons, I’d rather be back in King’s Landing. I never thought I would ever say that, but it’s true. Ramsey was far worse that Joffrey ever could be.”

The Boltons and Lannisters were one in the same. It made his hand ball into a tight fist.

“We have a lot of catching up to do,” he allowed. He looked over at Dany who was watching the interaction still. “Well, my sister has arrived at Castle Black. What else have I missed?” he joked.

Sansa and Daenerys exchanged a look.

“Well...there is more,” Sansa casually interjected, with lingering hesitance as she moved back closer to Daenerys.

He had only been half serious.

“More?”

Daenerys slyly smirked. “That’s for another day. There has been quite a lot already now.”

They knew something, shared something. Jon found himself looking at the pair that were standing side by side, one significantly taller than the other. He could not figure out whether the hints of a friendship that was showing between them was strange or natural, that if under different circumstances, would they have met the same end result?

He decided it didn’t matter. His sister and Daenerys were bonded in his absence. It meant that the two most important women in his life were getting along. It also meant he would be overruled and outnumbered, but with a beating heart again, what did that matter? He was grateful to be alive.

“Do you want to see the others? Ser Davos, Edd? I could get—”

“No,” he interrupted, halfway feeling guilty for denying his closest friends and allies his presence. “Not yet.”

He wasn’t ready to face them, not after being murdered by this own men, even if perhaps it had been unavoidable cost. As silly as it might have sounded, he felt embarrassed by it.

“We don’t have to, not today. But tomorrow—”

“Aye, tomorrow,” he promised.

He just needed a night, one night to himself before facing the crowd.

She nodded in acknowledgment. “They know you’re back. They’ll be waiting to greet their friend, their leader again.” Daenerys took a few steps across the room and put her hand on his chest lovingly, taking his side. He fought back the urge to kiss her right then in there, even with Sansa standing right there. “The road ahead will be long.”

A long road that he was ready to take with her.

“Well,” Sansa dragged out the word. She rested her hand onto her ribs, taking along inhale in. “I see it’s my time to go now.”

“We’ll have supper together,” Dany offered graciously. “The three of us.”

Ghost whined in protest.

“The four of us,” she corrected, aiming her words at the direwolf.

“I would like that very much,” Sansa calmly said.

So would he.

“It’s settled then, once the sun sets.” 

After they agreed on supper, Sansa removed herself from the room and shut the door behind her. He sat down at the edge of the bed. “She’s different than what I remember.”

The Sansa he had known certainly would have never called him her brother either by herself or in front of anyone else. The Sansa he had known also didn’t look like her baseline was sadness. It made him want to sink his head into his hands—and also choke the life out of Ramsey Bolton, as well as all the others that had harmed her along the way.

What had become of their family?

How did they end up so broken?

“She’s been through a lot, more than you would ever want to know.”

He wasn’t sure he would have the stomach for any of the details.

Jon closed his eyes, the lids feeling heavy. We can’t stay here, he wanted to blurt out. He felt the weight of the future pressing down on him already.

“Jon,” she hummed, approaching.

He should be happy, not wallowing on the past. He was awake, his murderers dead, his sister had returned, and Daenerys there at his side. But, for the first time, he was realizing how so much of what was going on around him had been out of his control, and that made a cloud fall over him.

She noticed.

“I know,” he mumbled, looking downward.

“Sad boy,” she murmured, lifting his chin with her finger so he faced her.

Her right leg hooked over him, other following. He grabbed at her waist, the silk of her dress bunching in between his fingers. Yes, he thought. Slowly, he fell backwards under her direction. Jon laid there, following her guidance as she undressed him just as quickly as clothes had been put on him, one piece of clothing at a time until there was nothing left but the cloth that bound his chest and abdomen.

He had been dead, and she wanted to remind him what it felt like to be alive. Jon would more than willingly accept any form of affection from her. And as she kissed him, carefully hovering over him, it made Jon forget about everything else. He was lost in her world for a little piece of time.

He wanted to do so much to her, but the wounds kept him rather still, a slave to the pain of a wrong twist or turn. He let her have full control, her body rocking against him, keeping her eyes on him to watch as he started to fall apart. Her bounces were gentle, but his grip on her was not. He kept her there, cock deep in her as he spilled out seed.

Later, as they laid there absorbing their time together, he found himself thinking about the future again. It was an itch in his mind that kept coming back. And as if she were synced with him, Dany started to talk about the topic.

“You asked me what was next,” she recalled from their previous conversation. She propped herself up in bed to look down at him. “We can’t stay here. We have to march with our army and take Winterfell.”

It was a bold statement, but he was not surprised she had come to that conclusion, especially with Sansa having arrived.

“We can’t fight the dead army and the Night King from here,” she started to add on.

Jon jumped in before she could finish. “We’ll need the whole support of the North,” he trailed off.

“We’ll get it.”

The way Dany announced it with a new confidence he had never seen before made him love her even more.

Before he could think too much of it, he said exactly what was running through his head as it occurred to him.

“Let’s marry.”

A single silver curl dropped onto his chest. “Have you lost your mind?”

“No,” he denied with a smile so wide that he felt the stretch of his skin, “I think I’m finding it. Everything is becoming more clear.”

She was at a loss of what to say next, and then defaulted to, “What about your vows?”

They had meant something to him once, yes, but that was gone, vanished.

He shrugged nonchalantly. “I once said that my watch began and would not end until death. I gave my life, and now I am free of my vows.” He looped his arms around Daenerys’ torso, holding her tight. Jon had never been so sure of anything else in his life, only her and how he felt. “I want to marry you in the Godswood under the Weirwood Tree. I want you to be my wife and I want everyone in the kingdoms to know that Daenerys Targaryen is mine.”

For too long had he denied himself of what he knew what he wanted. It all boiled down to two things.

Winterfell and Daenerys.

“Marry you,” Daenerys mouthed, the smallest voice coming from her. Her finger tapped his bottom lips, then his chin. “Yes. I’ll take you as my husband.”

Tenderly, she kissed her lips.

“But don’t think you can start telling me what to do once I am your wife,” she quipped.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Chapter Text

Jon

 

Dragons.

Three of them.

His eyes shifted between the winged creatures and Daenerys.

What was one to think or say when they meet a dragon for the first time, creatures who had been gone for hundreds of years prior?

What does one say when their lover tells them she brought them to life by burning them in a pyre meant for him, and threw herself in as well to bring them out of their eggs …then emerged in the morning without any burns and three live dragons at her shoulders?

He was stunned, to say the least. Jon must be the only one to have ever lived to be in the situation that was before him.

“Uh,” Jon stuttered, struggling at a loss for words. “They are—”

“Beautiful.”

Good, she had answered for him.

He nodded along without protest. They truly were amazing creatures, looking back at him, examining Jon like they were formulating their opinions. She opened the iron cage that was housing each dragon, and the darkest one hopped out onto the table. Daenerys picked him up with one hand, his wings spreading out to keep balance, and Jon noticed the flickers of sliver that lined the scales, and how his eyes were just as dark as the rest of him.

She smoothed her fingertips over the spine of the dragon twice, each time it making a noise of approval. “What do you think the Boltons will do once they hear that Jon Snow’s army consists of 50 thousand Wildlings and three dragons?”

Jon smirked, allowing the thought—allowing the feeling of superiority that he had never felt before seep in.

“I don’t think these dragons will be ready to fight in battle just yet,” he remarked.

But let fear ring the day that were to happen.

How many times had he heard the stories of Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters who rode their dragons across Westeros, each individual kingdom falling to their power? Everyone in the Seven Kingdoms would be a liar if they said they did not wonder what it was like to be at the height of power, on the back of a dragon, as if they were one with it. Targaryens were always said to have special bonds with their dragons. With the way that Dany was interacting with them, he knew that the bond was not lost.

“This here is Aemaxes.”

For Aemon, he knew that right away, and it brought a smile to his face again. Aemon had meant a lot to the both of them. It was a shame that he was not able to be there for the rebirth of dragons, the sigil of his House, and creatures that were thought to have been long lost along with nearly all the Targaryens.

Jon shifted his focus to the other two that remained in their cages, smaller that Ameaxes, but both watching Jon with the same curiosity. The green dragon stretched out his mouth in what looked to be a yawn, which Jon found to be amusing, stepping closer to the table they were rested on. The dragon let his neck extended downward towards the outer lock, as if he were trying to let Jon know that he wanted to be removed him from the confines.

“This is Rhaegal,” she explained, motioning to the green dragon. Her finger poked into the cage to stroke his head. Then to the cream, “Viserion.”

Dragons.

He ran his hands over his face a couple of times, forcing himself to digest it all.

“This is hard to believe,” he admitted, talking into his hands.

Jon felt her fingers pull at his hand, forcing him to not hide. “Don’t be shy. It’s all real. No dreams, no tricks, no visions.”

The reality was that he was starting to believe that there was magic that surrounded them there at Castle Black. Resurrections and dragons birthed from stone. Only a fool would deny that there was something else at play.

As Jon sorted it all out in his head, he was looking at his lover. And the more he looked at Dany and her dragon that she held, bringing him close to her breast, the dragon’s neck extending towards her chin, lovingly nuzzling against her, the more he started to feel that there was a divide. She was different, different from when he had last been with her before the night be bled out into the snow.

She had something—three dragons—that were entirely her own.

Blandly, Jon quipped, “I guess I have to share your affections now.”

“Jealous of a baby dragon?” she asked, voice sultry.

Jon hid a smile, an alternate popping into his thoughts. “Better than jealous of another man, I suppose.”

“Look at you being optimistic for a change,” she teased. She ran her hand down his arm. “Perhaps, being reborn did you some good.”

Reborn.

His face fell before he could catch it, not wanting to show the hurt in front of Dany. He didn’t look at it as being reborn, not in the slightest bit, and he turned his head down to try and move away. He had not been quick enough though, and she caught his sudden change of mood. Daenerys acted swiftly, allowing Aemaxas back to his cage, which he stayed in, even without the iron being closed behind him. With free hands, Dany reached out for Jon, hands cupping his face as she took a spot right in front of him.

“This happened for a reason,” she reminded him, gentle, and with ease to her voice. The softness made him take her wrists, smoothing his thumbs over her skin to keep her hands there. “Remember that when the bad memories start to surface. You are brave and strong, and we will survive whatever comes our way. Because you are the Lord Commander who came back from the dead and I am the woman who came from the flames with dragons, all to serve a grander purpose. Only we can defeat what marches this way.”

He wished he could have been more supportive in the moment, but he had to get it off his chest, so he said, “You sound like Melisandre.”

The spark left her eyes as she pulled away, letting her arms swing back to her side. “Maybe because she’s right about some things. You don’t believe it?”

“It’s not that I don’t believe it, it just that all of it is a bit…much.”

She retracted further. “Much?”

Jon sighed, not knowing how to explain himself without causing too much animosity. “Magic, alright, I can see that. There is no other way to explain what is going on, about what has happened here.” Hesitantly, thinking it through as the words came out, he continued, “It’s difficult. You know I follow the Old Gods. I always have. There is no changing that. And now there’s this Lord of Light that keeps being brought up, how he has a path for us and brought me back from the dead and gave you your dragons...how am I supposed to follow this path if the God behind it is not who I pray to?”

Daenerys was quick to jump in. “Who ever said that you could only follow one or the other? Some believe in the Old Gods, some believe in the Faith of the Seven, and some the Drowned God. I don’t want to tell you how to feel, but you’re allowed to follow the Lord of Light and the Old Gods. There doesn’t have to be a choice where you have to cancel your faith for one to follow the other. And, goodness, maybe they are all the same anyways. We don’t know.”

It was hard to argue with her. She was making a clear point, and he started to feel like he had been dramatic about his speech before.

“Your Old Gods won’t be mad at you. After all, with all that has happened recently, I find it difficult to discount what Melisandre says. Maybe some of what she says is wrong, but I do think much of what she speaks is true. I would not have my dragons or you if not for her. She saw the path I had to take to get them and she helped to guide me there.” She took his waist, squeezing. “I have you back now.”

Jon looked over her shoulder. “Who are you happier to have, the dragons or me?”

“Don’t make me choose,” she teased back. “I’m only kidding. You, of course.”

He could live with that knowledge.

“When they’re fully grown, you might rethink that answer. They’ll have far more use than me.”

“That will not be for some time. Dragons do not age overnight from fitting in the palm of my hand to blocking out the sun in the sky.”

“We probably won’t be seeing much of the sun for a long time anyways. This winter will be long, they say. No one can predict how long it will last. We may never see a summer in our lifetime again.”

“I don’t think the Free Folk will mind,” she remarked. “They’ll be right at home.”

“They’ll mind if there’s no food around. How are we to feed all of them once winter comes?”

How it was just dawning on him was stunning. His mind had been so occupied elsewhere that the stomach-twisting fact of having to feed their army through the winter was going to become an issue.

“I think they are doing just fine on their own. They survived beyond the Wall. I’ve seen them bringing back meat from hunts already…”

“It’s different here in comparison. The wildlife is not the same. Come the middle of winter, the animals will thin out. And, then, so will all of us.”

Dany’s eyes faded, but came to the conclusion that she typically did. “We’ll find a way.” She stood up taller. “For now, we worry about the battle to come. Once Winterfell has fallen from the Boltons, we can address the other outstanding concerns.”

All he could do in that moment was accept that she was right. Winterfell was the first step, then they could move on from there about sustainability.

Daenerys looked around their room slowly, analyzing each part. “It’s strange to know we’ll be saying goodbye shortly. We’ve come a long way since I first arrived here. I was so nervous at first, then so irritated.” She giggled from the memories. “And then so in love in such a short span of time.”

He drew her in, the two of them swaying in that spot, as if they might have started to dance. “I certainly never expected this when I first rode to Castle Black.”

Jon remembered the day he departed from his father and rode with his Uncle Benjen and Tyrion Lannister. He had been naïve back then, though it was not too long ago. The amount that had happened since that point was astounding. He could only imagine what those reading history centuries later would think about what had happened in Westeros. His one hope was that the Stark name would not be laughed at, and that maybe he could still do it some justice.

“I spoke to Karsi. They are almost ready to depart.” She rubbed from his shoulder to his elbows. “Are you?”

Jon glanced around the chambers he had lived in ever since elected into the title of Lord Commander, taking in the color of the stone that made up the walls, the aging of the wooden floors, the draft that still came in from the window that was boarded up as tight as it could be.

“I thought I was going to be spending the rest of my life here.”

If there was no dead army, he would have never gone to bring the Free Folk to Castle Black, and then he would have never been stabbed to death.

Or at least he would like to think so.

“But,” he added. “You’re right. It’s nearly time to go. We have a lot of miles to cover before night falls. There’s just one more thing I need to do beforehand.”

“So, that’s it, then?” Edd asked, grim as usual. “You’re leaving here today.”

The confrontation of it pulled at Jon in a way that was unexpected. Everything had happened so quickly, the direction of his life altered over the span of just a few nights.

“Yes,” Jon confirmed.

“But you’re the Lord Commander.”

Jon closed his eyes after hearing that. Even though it was difficult, he had already said goodbye to that part of his life. “No, I’m not. Not anymore. I swore to the Night’s Watch until my death. I gave it my life, and now it’s time to move on. You know what’s out there. We can’t defeat the dead huddled around Castle Black just waiting for them all to show up at our gates. We need more men and more resources. We can’t get that from here.”

Edd looked defeated. He paced two hands onto the uneven table in front of him, head bowing down. Jon understood—and it gutted him. It was more than him giving up the title of Lord Commander. It was that Edd was now losing Jon a second time over.

This is the hardest part, he reminded himself.

Edd had been his friend from the beginning, loyal and always had his back when he needed it. They had faced battle together, both physical and internal. They were both in the process of coming to terms with how that day and those minutes they had together in a chilly room with dim light might be the last they ever saw of each other in person.

After a long period of silence between them, Edd spoke up. “I’ll send a raven to Winterfell when the dead arrive,” he told Jon boldly. He came to stand right in front of him. “That way you’ll know when the time is getting close.”

“You don’t have to stay. Come with us.”

Edd’s mouth formed a thin line. “You need all the men you can get, but you still need men here to keep an eye on things for you. You know where my loyalty lies. I hope you kill all those Bolton fuckers.”

One side of Jon’s mouth turned up.

Edd held out his hand. “Until we meet again, then.”

Jon took his hand, wheeling Edd in. The strong hug they shared reminded him of when he said goodbye to Robb at Winterfell. Edd felt like a brother. He was not of the same blood, but enough had been spilled around them that Jon and Edd’s bond was trusting and bound with strength.

“Good luck to you. I hope the weather holds off till you get there.”

Outside, the Free Folk had gathered up their belongings, and were ready to move in very little time. They were used to it, the constant change of scenery through migration. He would hear no complaints from them—they were ready to move and ready to fight at the drop of a hat.

He made it down into the courtyard when he spotted her coming his way. Daenerys was wearing a white fur coat, wrapped close to her body. As she approached, he noticed the fine detail of the red ribboning in between the tracks of white fur. The structure was outstanding. A pelt of the same fur was enclosed around each shoulder, securely around her back and at the edge of her neck, the fur blowing in the wind. There was a black chain hooked around her, a three headed dragon at end of her collarbone.

Her hair was wrapped up in braids done in a circle, and all of it put together, she looked like she had walked straight from a dream—a vision.

She looked like a proper queen.

“Well?” she proposed, eyes glistening as she smiled wide, stretching out her arms to show off the sleeves.

His brow arched upward as she turned around and revealed the back, a deep burgundy trail from neck to hem of what looked like scales that mocked the look of a dragon.

“A Wildling woman made it for me. She said to me that the Mother of Dragons needed to a more fitting winter attire. She started making it after we all left Hardhome.” Her hands smoothed over the fur. “It been weeks of craftsmanship. I didn’t know how to even begin to thank her for such a gift.”

“Mother of Dragons?” he inquired.

She rose her chin. “It’s the name they gave me. The Free Folk, that’s what they call me now.”

Fitting, he supposed. Word had travelled quickly about the dragons.

Lovingly, because he could not resist in the moment, Jon brought her into an embrace, not shy of any eyes around them. “And so the Bastard of Winterfell and the Mother of Dragons marches South.”

He chuckled at his own statement, the titles sounding odd mashed together.

“With their army,” she pointed out. “United together.”

Yes, that too.

“It’s all in our favor,” Dany smiled, eyes sparkling with confidence.

He stifled down concern. Battles were never easy, even if the numbers were on his side. Blood would soak the grounds and the bodies would pile.

“Sure.”

She let his comment slide, lovingly patting his chest once before turning to mount her chocolate colored horse.

“Ahhh!”

Jon’s eyes widened at the noise—the familiar booming that was coming his way. He saw Tormund rushing through the busy courtyard, those around him darting out of his way as he took long strides to get to Jon. His smile turned to a cringe as Tormund’s large body slammed against his, lifting him off of the ground and into a hug.

“There you are, my little Crow. You are alive.”

Jon grimaced as he dangled there unable to move with his arms pinned to his sides. “Put me down.”

Tormund set him back easy and Jon was finally able to breathe again. Dany laughed from on top of her horse at the pair.

Tormund gestured to her. “You have a strong woman.” He pointed at Jon, pressing into the part of his collarbone that was covered by the leather strap of his cloak. “Don’t fuck it up. You southerners don’t know how to keep a woman.”

With a slap to the shoulder, which luckily, Jon was readily anchored into the ground by his boots for, Tormund barked happily and started to walk off to rejoin the Free Folk.

“I’m from the North!” he called after him.

Tormund would never acknowledge it, so Jon was sure there would be similar banter in the future about what was considered the North and what was not.

“He says the Free Folk think you are a God,” Dany explained, bringing her horse up right next to him. “And that I am a Goddess.”

“I’m not sure I could argue with the part about you.” Lower, he added, “Not after last night.”

He slapped the horse to move forward towards the gate, and Dany gave him a lustful smirk as she rode past. “Just wait until we make camp.”

Jon felt a familiar spark twist around in his stomach.

Pushing the thought out for the time being, Jon slipped his gloves on as Olly brought him his own horse, a dark charcoal color. “Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?” he asked the boy.

He paused, reconsidering, but then said, “Someone has to stay to keep things in order.”

Jon dryly sighed out a laugh. Only a handful of men were staying behind to keep watch, and Olly decided that he wanted to be one of them, oddly enough. Jon thought initially that he would jump with joy at the opportunity to move from Castle Black, to settle down and have somewhat of a normal life outside of the constraints of the Night’s Watch.

Jon tussled his hair. “I hope we see each other again one day. Perhaps, then you’ll be as tall as me.”

“Or taller,” he quipped.

Jon lightly grumbled to himself.  “Get on back inside, now.”

As Olly did as he was told, Jon caught sight of Edd on the walkway, giving one last goodbye wave, hand limp. Jon muscled up a smirk to send to his friend, heart feeling like it was being squeezed at the edges, and he had to look away, leaving it all behind.

He couldn’t look too much into the past, or it would consume him, and there was too much in front of them to let that happen.

As he got onto his horse, Jon realized that he had only ever marched out of the southern gates of Castle Black once, when he had tried to flee to aid Robb for his claim to the North. Now, it was he who was fleeing for his own cause, and it made his skin prickle. He took one last glance around the place that had been his home for years. As dark and lonely as it seemed at times, it was still the place where he gained a great deal from.

It was the place that he earned friendship and loyalty.

It was the placed he had gained status among his peers.

It was the place that he had grown into a man.

And it was still the place that he fell in love.

Knowing he may never be back again, Jon pulled at the reins of the horse, and they began the long march towards Winterfell.

Chapter Text

Jon

They weren’t far when they made camp for the last time. It was the last leg of their journey, several hundred miles travelled in a short span of time.

The first shock was that there was no snow on the ground.

None.

Not even a blade of grass with frost.

If there had been any recent small storms, then any flakes must have melted away before they got there. It was good, really, because it would be easier to maneuver around.

The second shock was a rider coming into camp that day right before sunset with a letter for him, white flag held with the hope that no one would shot an arrow into him and knock him off his horse. He was lucky. Jon knew some of the Free Folk were clutching their weapons a little too tightly—ready to cut down the first man they saw that was not one of their own.

The man was skinny, no more older than Jon, face a little gaunt, and seemingly nervous as he handed over a scroll with a Bolton seal.

Ramsey liked three things in that moment: to repeatedly point out that Jon was a bastard, that he wanted Sansa back, and that he had Rickon hostage until Jon bent the knee to him and accepted Ramsey as the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.

It made him sick and angry, which was probably partially the goal when writing it. Provoke him enough to make his mind not function properly. Force him into mistakes.

They were there in the tent designated to strategizing when the man had arrived. Tormund, Jon, Sansa, Brienne, and Dany had been all huddled around a map when they were alerted about the intruder in their camp.

It was a blow to the heart for Jon and Sansa, but more so to Jon. Little Rickon, who he had thought was burned to death years prior, was alive all along and now in the hands of a monster. Sansa had finally disclosed that Theon did not kill either little brother of theirs. Farm boys they had been, not Starks. Still, it was two small boys dead by someone who had been looked at as nearly one of them instead what he was meant to be—a prisoner, a gift of war.

Sansa could claim that Theon helped her escape and she would not be alive if not for him, but to Jon, right there and then, his mind was made up. Theon was a traitor just as much as the Boltons were. He found it too difficult to feel bad for him.

Forgiveness was not an option.

“We should keep him here” Sansa firmly suggested, face stony. She had just finished reading the scroll herself, shredding it, then let the wind take it. “He’ll go back and tell them all what he’s seen.”

“I’m sure he’s not the only one,” Jon replied. “They would have sent scouts out to get numbers. They know we’re here.”

“We just let him go, then?” Daenerys asked, hesitant. “To go back.”

The white flag he brought with him earned him that right. Sansa wasn’t happy about it, but she wouldn’t argue, not about that. They had to play by the rules or risk being known as untrustworthy.

Sansa let out a loud, draw out sigh through her nose as she accepted it. “You tell Ramsey to enjoy his last night. Tomorrow he dies.”

The boy looked over a Jon briefly, almost like he was looking for permission.

“Get out of here while you still can,” Sansa advised as she took a step back, turning to head back inside the tent with Dany.

Quickly, he did just that, mounting the horse he rode in on and fled back towards the direction of Winterfell—or perhaps altered his path out of sight for another way, if he knew what was good for him.

They were outnumbered.

Far outnumbered.

The Boltons might have more arrows and horses, but sheer numbers of those who were skilled at fighting could quickly swarm, if properly maneuvered on the field.

Jon wouldn’t get cocky. Arrogance could also quickly lead to defeat.

His hand gripped the pummel of his sword. Even though he hated fighting, hated the act of taking another life, there was a voice in his head that was angry and unsympathetic, and it said let there be blood—let the grounds soak up the red of the Boltons and the Northern Houses that backed them.

Pulling the flap of the tent back after Sansa and Daenerys had gone back in, he was alone with them, the rest having dispersed for the night.

“Rickon,” he started with. “What—”

Sansa gave him no room to say anything more.

“You don’t understand, there is no saving him now. We will never see him alive again,” Sansa said in a clear, dark voice as she stared past Jon. “In Ramsey’s hands, he’s already dead, even if he is still breathing at this moment.”

Jon knocked a piece of Stark marble off their map, sending it flying across the tent. “Then what are we supposed to do?” he shouted, stressed, and still angry.

Nothing! There’s nothing we can do. Rickon is gone and we have to accept that.” Sansa released a breath she had been holding in. Her nose flared as she tried to calm down. “The best we can hope for him is a quick death. Ramsey will never hand him over because he is a trueborn Stark and he will always be a threat to Ramsey’s rule. He won’t allow that. Honestly, I’d be surprised if he isn’t dead already. He probably fed him to his dogs like he did his stepmother and just born half-brother. His cruelty won’t stop until he is dead himself.”

A silence took over their tent, Sansa’s cruel words sinking in as the truth.

He felt Daenerys’ hand fall to his shoulder, a gesture of support, which he did not shake away. It might have been the only thing that enabled him to keep standing.

“I’m sorry,” Sansa then apologized, “I shouldn’t have been so abrupt, but you know there is nothing we can do for our brother now. He’s lost to us. You can’t think about him or try to save him if he’s on the field tomorrow. He’ll do something, I know it. That’s how he is, always wondering about how to inflict that most amount of pain possible. And it’ll all be a ruse.”

Jon gripped the table in front of him at the edge, a tear rolling down his face and plummeting onto the map. When he glanced up, Sansa’s eyes were red and she was holding back her emotions as best she could, but she felt the same as he did, which made him less upset at how sharp her tongue had been.

“I understand,” he agreed, though it took a part of his soul from him.

“We have a plan, a good one. One that will guarantee us to win. We can’t stray from it, even for our own blood.”

Emotions had no place on the battlefield.

Karsi interrupted, arm pulling away the flap at the front of the tent, eyes finding Dany. There were no pleasantries, as expected, and she must have sensed the tension.

“Can I speak with you for a moment?”

“Of course. Pardon me.”

Daenerys’ hand slipped from his shoulder as she excused herself. Jon watched her go until he was left alone with his sister, the sound of footsteps fading outside.

“She says you’re going to marry,” Sansa brought up.

Jon nodded, head still turned in the direction she had left. “Yes.”

“When?”

Her interest in the matter was surprising.

Jon shrugged, having not thought too much into it as he had planned the attack. “I don’t know. After we take Winterfell.”

Sansa nodded along, eyes calculated. “The sooner, the better. A united front will be more appealing to the Lords of the North, or anyone else we need.”

He laughed darkly, it echoing all around the tent. “A united front?”

A Stark, her bastard brother, a Targaryen Princess, and an army of Wildlings that had been banned from their side of the Wall would not be perceived well, united or not.

It wasn’t what she meant, however. Her thoughts were more targeted onto one part of the picture.

“This is serious, Jon,” Sansa scolded, eyes flaring again. “Don’t laugh about it. This is about you and Daenerys. She’s a Targaryen and she is unwed. You’ve brought her from Castle Black after she was gifted to you. You know what people will say. You know how the Lords will think.”

“What?” Jon asked, suddenly irritated again. “Sansa, what will they say?”

Sansa gave him a knowing look, then sighed in an exasperated way. “She is unwed and she is at your side. It won’t help us if people start to whisper about her status. People will say she’s a whore. Your whore. We can’t have that. She was born Daenerys Targaryen. Highborn, royal. That is how she should be looked at.”

Not with the stain of a bastard’s hands all over her.

Though it hurt a little bit, Jon didn’t say anything. Any other time, and Jon would have thought that Sansa was being pushy, but all she was doing was being tactful and trying to spare Daenerys any shame.

Highborn.

Royal.

Targaryen.

Everything he was not.

Jon’s eyes fell to the ground. She meant well, in her own way. She meant to be protective, and try to plan out the future—but words hurt more than knives, he realized. The words stayed with a person, to mull over for eternity, whereas wounds from knives eventually healed.

“Her birthright gives her power and we need that. She knows people in Dorne. We might need that when the time comes. You must marry her soon.”

Jon picked up a piece of carved wood that represented their forces, thumb running over the smooth top.

“When we win, we have to tell the Lannisters we are independent.”

Jon made a face. “I don’t think they’ll take that very well.”

The first time they sure didn’t.

“It doesn’t matter,” Sansa remarked, her hatred for them coming through her teeth. “They don’t deserve the North. They never did. Besides, we have to finish what Robb started or it was all for nothing. That Robb died for nothing.”

“Robb made mistakes he shouldn’t have,” Jon replied. “And I don’t think we can fight the dead army on our own. The Free Folk and the North won’t be enough.”

“We can get support elsewhere, I know we can.” Sansa started to raise her voice, all her emotion beginning to surface at once from a mixture of emotional and physical exhaustion, just like them all. “Think about all we have lost. Our father, my mother, Robb, Arya, Rickon, Bran, our home, our freedom—”

The words hurtled at him, making him snap from his own stress and anxiety. “Enough!” he commanded, voice stern.

Jon turned away from Sansa’s shocked expression, leaning against the table with his arms crossed. It was too much, thinking about it all at once.

“You lost your life, Jon. What are you going to do with it now that you have returned? Bow to the Lannisters?”

“Fight the dead,” he commented in a steadier tone. “So the whole of Westeros isn’t sacked by the dead army and the Night King. Wouldn’t matter who sat on the throne at that point. We’d all be gone.” In a plea, he questioned, “Can we not do this tonight, of all nights?”

“Why, am I being annoying?

He answered honestly, teeth gritted. “Yes.”

“Isn’t that what younger sisters are for?”

It was enough to break the tension—the reminder of family.

She came around from the opposite side of the table, a few yards from him, in between Jon and the exit. “Can I say one more thing before I go?”

He nodded, waiting for her response.

“Snow,” she breathed. “Have you considered the implication of that? When you marry Daenerys, you should consider changing your surname to Stark.”

Stark.

 It was what he had always dreamed of, always craved. Yet, now he was conflicted by the thought. The Stark name was never one he imagined giving to himself, but being granted to by his father.

Jon groaned, then laughed. “How about I just take Daenerys’ instead? Has man ever done that?”

Jon Targaryen?” she chuckled. “I think you would need a different first name to match such a surname. Throw in a couple extra a’s and e’s. Maybe even an o.”

“You never know,” he teased back. “It could work.”

“In all seriousness, Jon, the beauty of being in charge is that you make all the rules. You get to be called what you wish…do you think she would consider taking the Stark name?” Sansa asked, furthering the conversation.

“Why would she ever want to give up the Targaryen name?”

Sansa shrugged, palms turning upward at her side. “Because there are no other Targaryens left.”

Jon didn’t care who it came from, but Daenerys Stark simply did not sound right. The Mother of Dragons was not a Stark, she was a Targaryen.

“Any children you would have—”

“Sansa,” Jon warned lightly, hoping he was alluding enough to how he wished to end the conversation.

Her mouth remained hung open, wanting to discuss it more to try and convince him about the course of action, but she then nodded. Sansa said her goodnights and headed for some rest. Jon was not tired, more antsy than anything else. The thought of battle was keeping his blood flowing hot and he had grown weary of looking at battle plans. They had talked about it nearly every night, Jon explaining every detail to those he had put in charge, and for that information to trickle down to the others beneath them.

He turned his focus to the outside, where he needed a breath of fresh air. The night was broken up by clouds, some stars visible through the patches. There was a lot of commotion around, the Free Folk buzzing with energy, sharing stories of previous battles and fights beyond the Wall. He knew Tormund was out there somewhere talking about that bear—and that made Jon chuckle to himself.

Tomorrow they would strike and take Winterfell. They would expect it, Jon knew.

Dany’s words rang in his head—it’s all in our favor.

No one knew the castle and the surroundings better than him. The strongest areas and the weakest. He wouldn’t gloat enough to say he knew battle better than anyone else, but he knew how to be smart, how to not let anger cloud his judgement. He would try his best to not let the thought of Rickon to alter his plans.

Wun Wun walked right past him, travelling towards a circle of men and women around a fire. He felt the ground beneath shake as he sat down with a huff. The giant would greatly help them the next day. Jon remembered seeing him have the dead on him and trying to hurt him with little effect.

As Jon took in the camp surroundings, he remembered how much had led to that night. So much fighting and making peace, so much travel and getting supplies, so much rationing and giving faith to those who were unfamiliar. The Free Folk were not fighting for the North, they were fighting for Jon and Daenerys, for what they that promised—for a peaceful life in the future with land and houses.

He had a lot to live up to, and he would so his best not to fail.

Across the fire, he saw Daenerys looking back at him, capturing his attention, as she always would. The way she walked in the half circle around the fire was both alluring and comforting. At his side, his fingers twitched, anxious to reach out for her.

“What did Karsi want?” he inquired.

She took his arm and towed him towards the tent. “Just some reassurance.”

He did not question it any further, as Karsi must have gotten what she needed.

Within the safety of the tent, Jon watched Daenerys, realizing that it could be the last night he had with her. She was tending to the dragons, placing pieces of meat in front of them, which they burned with a little flame when she said dracarys. It was incredible to witness for the first time. Dany had told him that it would not be long until they could feed themselves, as they had already doubled in size since their birth.

They were no longer in cages, as there was no need. They would stick close to Daenerys, just as Ghost did with him. Their companions never strayed too far.

Though it did make him wonder, if Ghost had wings, how far would he go?

When Daenerys turned her attention back to him after the dragons were all settled down, Jon ventured to talk about what was nagging at him.

“Dany…tomorrow,” he started, keeping his head low, “If I die—”

“Don’t say that,” she sharply cut him off. “Don’t even think it.”

Jon walked over to her, cupping her face into his hands. He felt the bond between them as he did, her head melting into his hands, body drawing nearer. Despite her request, he continued, “If I die, this is all going to fall to you. You’re strong enough to have it all on your shoulders.”

They stood there in that moment, coping with the reality ahead of them.

“You wouldn’t want Melisandre to bring you back,” she said in a moment of clarity.

It hurt to hear her say it in the way that she did, as if he were abandoning her on purpose—and that alone made the skin on his arms prickle.

“I think being brought back from the dead once is enough for one lifetime. Who knows what might be left of me a second time around. What if I came back and was not the same? What if I came back and my morals had vanished. We don’t know what may become of me. Besides, you’ll be safe at Winterfell. You’ll have Sansa, Ghost, your dragons, and the Free Folk. You’re strong enough to lead them. They’ll listen and follow. Without me, you could still fight the dead.”

Daenerys’ eyes looked tired, worn out from travel, harsh conditions, and the heavy weight of jointly commanding an army prepping for an attack. She allowed him to hold her still, stepping gently forward, resting her head onto his chest. She said nothing more, as there was no need to. She would take the place of them both should he fall come the morning, and she would be the leader they all needed.

He could rest easy knowing that.

Daenerys pulled away in silence after a bit and went over to the cot that was laid out, plucking off her boots and undoing her white fur.

“I’m ready for this to be over,” she admitted, curling onto her side.

He slipped off his outerwear and climbed onto the cot behind Daenerys, arm rested around her. “Me too,” he agreed, nuzzling against her hair.

He held her there, soft breathing lulling him into slumber along with the subtle snoring of Ghost laid out to his side.

The morning came quick, a calm morning with high gray clouds and not any sign of bad weather for miles. The chill was holding off too, a much needed relief. Melisandre had said the Lord of Light granted them the battlefield. Now, he would watch them play.

He was ready.

He felt confident that morning, more than before.

Jon’s worn boots dug into the little bit of soft ground beneath him once dismounting his horse. Jon had dreamed of that moment over and over ever since they had left, and, admittedly, far before that. Everything behind him had led to that day.

All the pain, all the suffering, all the worry and ache. All the support and new love.

He wasn’t rattled, instead, he felt calm. Maybe he was supposed to feel that way, as Melisandre would say it was part of his destiny. A sword or stray arrow could easily cut that short, but there was a level of confidence that he was carrying with him that day, and maybe that was the souls of those they had lost that were around them.

Taking Winterfell was not for him.

It was for Robb.

Arya.

Bran.

Rickon.

Sansa.

His father, even Catelyn.

For everything that was taken from them.

Sansa was right. They had to finish what was started, bring an end to the madness.

That was why he was going to walk through those gates and claim Winterfell. Then, the dead Starks, in the crypts or not, would be able to rest easy.  

Winterfell.

It was a strange feeling, to be that close again, nothing but at battle field to cross.

When the castle had come into view as they marched forward, it was harder on him than he expected. It was home, yet it was like a distant memory. A place of both happiness and horror.

He took three steps forward, further than anyone else in the army that stood behind him.

He analyzed the battlefield. It was fairly level ground, and only a slight frost was covering a few patches here and there. The Boltons were aligned as he had expected, which was good. The flayed man sigil had been brought to life in several places, and Jon could only think that it was probably innocent people who had been taken from their homes in the night to be paraded in front of Jon.

He would avenge them too.

Jon looked behind him, his army waiting to be told it was time.

From one glance, he understood the way that Ramsey was planning to attack. He had the archers in the front, all aligned in four rows deep to send the first wave. Behind them, riders on horseback to charge.

He wanted Jon to make the first move.

Jon had arranged the half of their army at the center, not in any particular formation. Unpredictability was what he was aiming for. He knew Ramsey’s plan, but he wouldn’t understand Jon’s. It was supposed to look uncontrolled, and, in part, it was. But what Ramsey wouldn’t know was that nearly half of the Wildlings were still hidden among the tree line, spread far down on either side.

They would remain in wait until the fighting started, then charge the field diagonally, swarming from the outer edges, pushing inwards so Jon and those designated to him could push through and take the castle. He needed the castle more than anything. It would not have been left well manned, given that Ramsey knew this numbers were small in comparison.

 

 

Ghost was at his side, ready to fight and defend Jon. His hand stretched out to pat his head. Be safe, he told the direwolf when they rose at first light.

Be smart.

Ramsey was there, mounted on a white horse, one that Jon knew he was not going to use to run forward. He was only there to command as best he could manage until he saw that it was not going in his favor. Then he might just use that horse to run. What Jon had come to understand was that Ramsey was nothing but a coward who hid behind horrific acts of torture to mask his inadequacies. 

He couldn’t rule.

He couldn’t hold the North.

And he certainly could not command an army better than Jon, especially not in Jon’s own territory.

There was a strong difference.

Jon was fighting for his home and his family, whereas Ramsey was just fighting to keep power that was thinning down like old thread.

He closed his eyes, just for a moment, to soak in the sounds of nothing but the horses moving and the winds blowing, as it would turn to chaos, and then let the bloodshed begin.

Chapter Text

Jon

Jon was not the type to sit and watch as men and women risked their lives for him and his own home. No, he was right there on the front line as the two forces collided, the impact filled with hatred. From their side, there was the heavy craving for it to be over, to have time to settle down until the war came. To be able to prepare to fight the next war.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

Five.

In the span of moments, how many men had he killed? He could not be sure. There was not even the time to look at their faces, to know his enemy upon the blow of steel to the stomach or heart.

If there was one thing that anyone who fought like Jon would say about it, it was that battle was physically exhausting. It was mentally too, but in the moment, only the physicality portion mattered. Despite it, adrenaline still pumped through him, his heart racing at a steady pace, even as arrows pierced the ground around him, even as he fought through horses at every direction. He had the stamina to make it to the end.

He was already covered in mud and dirt that was flung up from the ground, blood of others and himself, several arrows piercing the skin of his arms, going right through the leather during the charge.

Jon kept moving.

He didn’t feel that pain just yet, just the stinging craving for revenge.

Longclaw pierced through another man running at him, face sweaty and bloody, entirely unskilled with a weapon, but made to serve just the same. Jon grunted as the man fell, withdrawing the sword from the thrust. He caught a brief glimpse of how the steel of the blade was covered in a fresh red.

Across the way, he saw Brienne cutting down men as she pushed forward in her armor, relentless, and taller than most. To his other side, there was Loboda, wielding his large axe, cutting down two men at a time, sometimes three.

Everywhere Jon stepped there was a mixture of sludge from trampled grounds, blood, intestines, decapitated various body parts, and unclaimed weapons. Every lung full of air was poisoned with the scent of death.

Horrific.

Absolutely horrific.

At any moment he could meet his end for a second time, but that reality was lost to him. His only thought was Winterfell.

Keep moving.

Keep pushing forward.

And that was exactly what he did with his army. They all pushed forward, the sense of being unstoppable shared among them, more and more confident as another man from the Bolton forces hit the ground and it was them who remained standing to take on another. Wun Wun, on his own accord, had lifted a tree from the edge of the treeline, roots and all, right out of the ground, swinging it by the branches, knocking nearly a dozen of shielded men into the air and yards away. If the impact had not killed them, then the fall into the mud did.

Into the air, Wun Wun released a triumphant yell so loud that it felt like it shook the ground beneath them.

In the brief distraction the giant made for Jon as he watched, Ghost launched from behind Jon, grabbing the jugular of a man armed with a dagger headed for Jon, dragging him along the ground until he moved no more. Ghost was already stained with red, streams of it running from his snout to his paws, with bloody hand marks along the fur of his sides that streaked the white. He snarled and stayed by Jon’s side as he continued to fight.

Every blink he took and the Bolton forces dwindled, whether it be by sword, axe, spear, or shear individual strength. It was then that he found himself surrounded by his own, no Bolton sigils around him, only in front, no more having the ability to penetrate into their line.

A stocky Wildling man to his right ran right past Jon and into a man covered with the Karstark sigil, fully lifted him up from the ground and above his head, then slammed him down, where at his throat, he began choking the life from him. Jon had heard one time that love and war brought out the worst in people, the darkness that took over.

Jon felt the anger inside of him bubble into a simmer, allowing him to see more clearly, thoughts becoming more focused. He stood in his place, wiping his face with his sleeve, though he most likely only dirtied himself further.

Rasmay.

Where was he?

By the point the thought entered, the Bolton forces had all been funneled into a jumbled mess, unorganized, especially compared to how they had started off. He captured a number of faces, and he recognized that they looked scared, unsure, watching the Wildlings with fear. They were used to the cruelties of Ramsay, probably thinking that was it, that they would all meet their end no matter what they did or said. That there would be no man left standing, only bodies to clean up after.

It felt like they had been fighting for ages, but in all actuality, it was stopping just as quick as it had started.

“Halt!”

“Stop!”

Jon heard the calls from those who were higher ranking, the desperate pleas to attempt safety for their men. One started it all, then the reaming Bolton soldiers dropped their weapons, letting them fall to the ground, surrendering.

There was even a moment of disbelief from Jon as he came all the way to the front, viewing all those who were giving up. They couldn’t do it anymore. They knew they were going to lose. Better to try and live than to give up the chance completely. They were Northmen who had family, wives, children, sisters, brothers, parents. As stubborn as they could be, all of them could spot a losing battle and have their families and homes flash before them.

Jon was breathing heavy, his army waiting for him to give more direction, watching him closely. He could feel the eyes of Brienne of Tarth on him much more than the others. He wondered if it was because she had a good idea of who had taken the forefront of the opposing side, as she would have heard the stories of Robb’s war.

Harald Karstark was in front of him, just a few paces away, and Jon approached further. He still had his sword in his hand, though it was only loosely hanging there, the point dragged into the mud. The look of being defeated wore on his face, also covered with the color of battle.

Traitor.

There was a brief moment where something entirely dark washed over Jon, and the thought of killing Harald became so simple. He could stab him right there, or behead him—let him bleed out on the ground as Jon would tell him for Robb. No one would stop him. No one would question it.

The decision was all his and his alone.

Jon’s hand gripped tight into a fist, as he wanted him dead. He wanted his family to suffer further, just as Jon’s had. The Karstarks were nearly as guilty as the Boltons were. But, Harald Karstark knew he had only a couple options. His sword fell all the way to the mud, splashing upward. He made eye contact with Jon, stepping forward, only to lower his gaze and his head. It was there that he made the choice to ask for mercy.

The craving for blood still sung within Jon, but the thoughts of what his father would do entered his mind. He had to be honorable, had to be a man that Ned Stark would be proud of. Ned Stark would not have killed a man who was surrendering on the battlefield, therefore, Jon would have to deal with him later. Harald would not get away with clean hands. Vengeance was what Harald had been after, and look at where it had gotten him. A punishment would be given, but not of death. That was saved for another.

“Where is he?” Jon demanded, fierce, teeth gritted at Harald.

His head rose, though his eyes did not. “Back to the castle.”

Like the coward he was, of course.

Jon’s eyes connected to the left, catching a horse and a rider to the side, turning back to Winterfell after watching the scene unfold.

Surrender—Ramsay would have wanted the last man dead rather than surrender.

Wun Wun released a heavy breath and sprinted off into the field, everyone darting out of his way. Ramsay wasn’t too far off from the castle when Wun Wun caught up—as no one could outrun a giant. Jon had taken off after them as well, Tormund and Loboda following close behind, right on his heels.

Wun Wun picked Ramsay right off the horse and dropped him back to the ground in their direction. He heard a snap, possibly the breaking or fracturing of his legs. Jon acted immediately, blinded by a seething rage he had never felt before, but it plastered him upon being face to face with the monster who had helped to destroy his family and harmed his sister. Ramsay’s face was a mixture of shock and pain once Jon threw himself over top of him, pummeling punch after punch. He grabbed his neck and slammed him back against the ground when he saw the slightest hint of a smirk.

Even though he hardly recognized himself in the moment, his hand still connected with Ramsay’s face over and over until he could no longer fight back. Jon felt wildly feral, like some kind of starving animal that was ripping apart a fresh kill after a week of not eating. Hurting Ramsay was instinct. He wanted to strangle him until his last breath, but his death was not Jon’s to claim. It was only that which held him back, pulling himself away to look at what he had done. He had no remorse for it. All he felt was a sore hand starting to throb.

“Take him away.”

More Wildlings had caught up with them, dragging Ramsay towards the castle, where men had filed out, also surrendering to Jon.

It was only then that he looked up, moving a few steps forward, the rest of the world fading out as he took in the view at the gates. It would have been a relief to have to not spill blood within the walls of Winterfell, but he saw the only body in sight. There was Rickon, their little brother who has been so sweet and playful, hanging from the top of the gates, swinging in the wind with a rope attached to his neck and Bolton banners to either side of him.

Another Stark that would take up residence in the crypts.

That was their price of war—another family member dead and innocence lost.

He understood that it was Ramsay’s last laugh towards Jon. If Ramsay was going to lose Winterfell to Jon, then he was going to make damn sure that while Jon and Sansa gained it, they lost something too.

Jon turned his eyes away, lids heavy, and heart hurting. “Cut him down,” he ordered.

Daenerys

Her first steps into Winterfell were not what she had imagined. She initially rode in with Sansa after they had watched from the safety of a nearby hilltop, and arrived through the gates and into the courtyard just in time to see Rickon covered up with a beige cloth after being pulled from the gates.

Her legs were a little wobbly once she hit the mud from nerves, her horse being towed away as soon as she left it. Daenerys saw how red the ring around Rickon’s stiff neck was, and it made Dany turn away from the sight, heart aching, stomach sick. He had been just a boy, lean, with a mop of cute curls in a light shade. The youngest of the Stark children, and just another to have their life claimed too earlier.

Dany sniffled, shaken. Arriving there at Winterfell should have been a happy victory. She wished that she could have looked around and explored with Jon at her side, taking in all the new sights and smells. She wished that she could have had the chance to walk through the gates and tell herself that it was her new home, that it was where Jon and Sansa grew up, a place that was once safe and full of life, and that they could make it that way again.

She wished for a lot of things, but it didn’t happen that way. She had been too naïve.

Daenerys immediately turned to Sansa as she watched her little brother vanish into the castle, Jon nowhere in sight.

“Sansa, I’m so sorry,” she said for a second time, feeling the weight of the horror she must have been feeling.

Sansa swallowed, wiping at her eye with a gloved finger. To Daenerys, she looked as if she were in shock, a solemn look draining her face, barely any emotion there. She had cried so much over her family’s misfortune and the events she had endured, that it made Daenerys wonder if she had any tears left for Rickon.

“As terrible as it is, I expected it.” She brushed her grayish-black cloak of some dirt, eyes wandering back to where Rickon had disappeared to. In an afterthought, she added, “It could have been worse. At least we can still recognize him. At least I get to see him one last time and imagine the man he could have been.”

She did not know what else to do following words like those, so Daenerys reached out and hugged Sansa, her own arms strongly embracing her back. They stood like that for what felt like a long while. When Sansa pulled away, she asked, “Will you come with me?”

“Of course. Anything. Just tell me, where to?”

She stood tall. “To end this,” she explained.

The cells were dark and murky, the smell of damp must in the air. There were small puddles on the stone steps going down that they had to be careful on, as one fall and she could crack her head open on the edges.

Dany never imagined that it would be the first place within Winterfell that she would visit. It was a place of loneliness, but Daenerys had followed Sansa without question. Her stomach had turned from the nerves of watching the battle to knowing Sansa and her were headed to meet the man who nearly took everything left of Sansa.

And when he finally came into view, Dany swore her breath seized. There he was, tied up to a chair, bloody and beaten, and she knew it was from Jon. Daenerys stood in awe about how he was still alive. He must have been barely hanging on.

“My wife,” he greeted with a sinister smile, voice echoing against the tight walls. His head rolled to the side sadly, eyes taking in Daenerys from head to toe with interest. “Ah, and the Targaryen girl, I presume. The Mother of Dragons, I’ve heard. The Bastard of Winterfell’s lover.”

Daenerys said nothing. It was not her place to engage. It was all Sansa.

“Our time is about to be cut short, I see.” He pulled at the roped that chained him to the chair, hands forming a ball with what little energy he must have had left. “I’ll miss you,” Ramsay said, staring at Sansa. “I’ve quite enjoyed our many nights together after our wedding. All those muffled screams against the pillows. I never thought you had it in you, but you’ve got a set of lungs.”

Sansa took a step closer, her hands extending out to grab onto the cell bars. “I won’t miss you, but you already know that. All of you will disappear. Soon there will be nothing left of you…or maybe there will be a bone or two. Not much. No voice, no violence, no House Bolton. Not even a memory.”

He was about to say something else, but there was a disruption that caught all their gazes. There was a low, rumbling growl from the dark corner that made Dany switch her attention. From the shadows, a large hound put one massive paw down into the holding cell. Following, came three more, then two from the opposite side.

Their behavior was not as though they were in front of their master, but like he was prey that they were sizing up. They rounded Ramsay a couple times, snouts turned upward, taking in the scent of blood and open wounds. Even through Ramsay’s swollen eyes, he must have sensed the danger.

“Was this your plan, my wife? It won’t work the way you think it will. The hounds are mine. Loyalty is all that they know.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” Sansa smirked, releasing the bars to step back side by side with Dany. “If there’s one thing that I’ve learned up until this point, it’s that loyalty is conditional. They may have done as you said before, but not now. Now, you’ve starved them. Now, they’re hungry. You’ve betrayed them by doing so and now you are all that is in sight.”

He might have said more, but the first hound sunk his teeth into his leg, head tossing around as if it had a tied rope to play with, pulling a large chunk of skin and muscle from this body. The second hound grabbed at his hands, pulling off three fingers with just one bite, and a third launching upward onto his lap, grabbing his face and throat.

Both watched as Ramsay Bolton started to meet his end, screaming in agony while neither girl felt any sort of guilt for his suffering. He had done too many terrible things to deserve any sympathy or any leniency.

A darkness was hovering over them in there as they watched, and she wondered if Sansa felt the same. He was a horrible man and he deserved to die in a painful way. With as much as he had afflicted to Sansa, Daenerys did not flinch when they started to tear at his face. The gore didn’t bother her in the way she thought it might.

“We should go,” Dany offered, her way of saying that she was done in the cells.

Daenerys pulled away first, starting to walk the pathway back to the outside. Sansa had lingered, only briefly, but caught up to Dany so they exited together as Sansa left the past behind her.

It was dark out, but in just a short amount of time, the courtyard had been cleaned up and bodies were being piled up outside to be burned the next morning. The Free Folk were setting up for the night, unpacking and making camp just outside the front castle walls. Daenerys had helped as much as she could, aiding Karsi and her two children, who felt more comfortable sleeping outside then in a room that Winterfell had plenty of. None of the Free Folk wished the comfort of the castle, but Daenerys certainly did.

She did not know her way around, but Daenerys found Jon in the crypts after Sansa suggested that was where he would have gone, and showed her where to go. There was a lot of dust around, even for a crypt. It had been neglected from the previous inhabitants, but at least the statues were, for the most part, untouched and not shattered to bits.

Daenerys found that the ironwood door at the entrance was intimidating upon her first arrival, as was the narrowness of the stairs leading downwards. She had to keep her hands at the wall to keep her steady in the darkness.

It was a long walk in dim light from few and far between torches mounted into the walls, and she was a little nervous with every step. It was unsettling because she felt like she was not meant to be there, that only Starks were allowed to enter to visit. But, with every crypt she had passed, she recognized that it was Jon’s lineage, and she should not fear them. She wished that she had a place to remember her own family. All she had was herself and her dragons. Everything else was gone, lost to Valyria, or replaced by Baratheon or Lannister banners. Nothing was left, apart from Dragonstone, a place she had only briefly saw in a distance on her way from Dorne to Castle Black.

Jon was standing there, not moving. Daenerys approached, light on her feet, Ghost noticing her first, ears perking up as he sat by Jon’s side. Jon acknowledged her, head turning to the side, not able to muster up anything that would resemble a smile, but offered her his hand. She took his arm instead, huddling close.

“This is where Rickon will be placed. Next to where we’ll build one for Robb.”

Dany grabbed ahold of his arm tighter, burying her face against the fur of his cloak, the scent of burning wood on the material. “I am so sorry it happened like that. I wish we could have saved him.”

“Sansa was right, he was never going to live either way. I didn’t want to believe it, but it was true. Even if I had walked away from Winterfell, Ramsay would have killed him. A trueborn Stark would have always been a threat.”

“No one can hurt him now,” she said, trying to ease some of the pain, even though she knew it would always be there.

It was what she told herself about her family when she would feel down about it, mostly in her younger years when she was being raised in Dorne. She would tell herself that there was no blood left to spill, no anxieties over war and death.

Jon towed her a little bit down the way.

“This is my father.”

The introduction came unexpectedly, but Ned Stark’s statue was grand. He looked strong and noble, holding the depiction of the ancestral Valyrian steel blade their House had once owned. There was a trio of candles at the base, hard wax from the last time it was burned that had melted over the ledge and onto the ground, the wick burned down to nearly nothing.

“I used to wonder what my place in the world would be. As a bastard, I would inherit nothing, own no lands or have any status. Everyone else would. Robb was to be the Warden of the North and my brothers would have castles of their own. Sansa and Arya would have married Lords in the South. And there I was, wondering what would happen to me? Where was I supposed to be? What would I do with my life? If I stayed here, I would only be a burden once we were all grown.”

She had wondered the same many times over. What was her life to be like as the Mad King’s Daughter? As the sole survivor of House Targaryen? As an outsider in Dorne? Was she destined to live her life alone without a husband or any children?

Daenerys let her hand lovingly splay out against the leather that covered his chest, turning her head upward to look at Jon, catching the soft scowl he had. “You’re the Lord of Winterfell now.”

“I am,” he confirmed. His eyes glazed over. “But what do I do with all the guilt?”

She hugged at his side tighter. “Rule honest and true, in their name. In a way that they would be proud.”

Jon was content with that answer, nodding.

“We’re here now,” she said, it feeling like a dream. “We have Winterfell. You’re home.”

“It’s your home too,” he reminded her. “It’s my hope you will feel that way.”

She hoped for it too, as it was a magnificent place to call home, and she had only just seen a few parts of it.

“How about you show me around a little bit?” She looked back at the crypts. “Spending too much time with the dead won’t be good for you.”

He agreed. “Alright.”

On their way out, Daenerys pointed at another statue with a direwolf curled beneath her feet. “Who is this?”

Jon looked up, only taking interest for a moment. “My Aunt Lyanna.”

The pit of her stomach swallowed up, and she found herself shying away. “Oh.”

“It’s okay,” Jon tried to calm her. “We don’t have to talk about it.”

Daenerys continued to stare at the statue. “Do you think it’s true?” she dared to ask.

From what she had heard of her brother Rhaegar, he did not seem capable of the atrocities of which he was claimed to have done with Lyanna Stark. But it was also hard to ignore, given that a whole war had broken out over it, and that her family had lost everything in the process.

“I wasn’t there,” Jon said. “I don’t think anyone alive knows the full truth.” Jon pointed to the statue, changing their conversation. “Some say Arya looks a lot like Lyanna. You’ve never met her, so maybe that will help you imagine what she looks like. Arya is a lot smaller, though. More boyish, I would say. If there was ever a statue of her made with a dress on, I think she might haunt whoever made it.”

They shared a smile, until Jon looked to fall back into sadness. He needed some time to mourn, not long, just enough to move past how he was not able to save his brother and that his other siblings remained missing and presumed dead.

As Dany continued to look at Lyanna’s frame carved from stone, she realized that there was something about her that seemed to be familiar, though she could not place what it was. Perhaps, it was only her tired eyes playing tricks on her.

“Let’s go. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. This castle needs restoration before the Lords of the North arrive.” He patted over top of her hand. “The Maester will send out ravens soon.”

Jon started out again, and Daenerys waited until he was a few paces away before she spoke. “I’m sorry,” she whispered quickly at Lyanna.

It was not loud enough for him to hear, but enough for her to feel there could be somewhat of a resolution. She had to say it, just in case it were all true. That way, she would be able to sleep that night in the castle that held the remains of Lyanna Stark.

Daenerys broke into a swift trot as she caught up to Jon, exiting the crypt with him and Ghost. She doubted that she would ever venture back there again.