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Into the Long Night

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A moonturn later, Jon and Daenerys were married beneath the ancient heart tree in the godswood.  Despite all the tragedies Westeros had suffered during the war, the wedding was a surprisingly festive occasion.  Jon had expected his bannermen to balk at the idea of him marrying Daenerys Targaryen, but there had been nary a complaint.  Jon’s marriage to the Targaryen queen meant an end to the strife that had plagued Westeros for nearly a decade.  Now that the fighting was over, there was no one else left to vie for the Iron Throne.  Although Gendry Waters had survived the war, he was not Robert Baratheon’s legitimate heir and had no viable claim to the throne.  Jon and Daenerys’ marriage had put an end to the fighting for the foreseeable future, and most everyone seemed to be thankful for it.

It had taken weeks after the Night King’s defeat to fully assess the staggering losses the living had suffered.  The Unsullied had been decimated, as had the Dothraki.  Even so, Daenerys’ forces had been so large to begin with that she still commanded a considerable legion of men.  The northern army, however, hadn’t fared quite so well, and it would take years to build up their numbers again.  Thankfully, with the White Walkers gone and the wildlings as allies, there was no longer an immediate threat to the north, giving Jon and Daenerys the time they needed to refortify their forces.

After the ceremony in the godswood, everyone had retired to the Great Hall for a modest wedding feast.  It was the dead of winter now, and food stores were low.  Even to celebrate the wedding of the new king and queen, Winterfell could not afford extravagance.  No one knew how long winter would last.  Now that the White Walkers were dead, it might be blessedly short, but there was no way to know for certain.  And so, although there was great revelry among the guests, food and libations were judiciously rationed.

Jon sat at the head table in the Great Hall, watching the festivities with keen interest.  Or more precisely, watching his wife with keen interest.  She was on the other side of the room, chatting amiably with Sansa, a sight he’d thought he’d never see.  But ever since Sansa had declared her love for Tyrion, there had been a marked change in her.  She was happier, kinder, more carefree.  A fortnight earlier, she and Tyrion had taken their vows in the godswood in front of the old gods, just as Jon and Daenerys had.  It had been a beautiful ceremony, small and private, and neither Sansa nor Tyrion had ever looked happier. 

Jon was still amazed by how well-suited they seemed.  Sansa had always wanted to marry a handsome prince or a dashing knight, but now, she seemed perfectly content with a cynical dwarf.  She had obviously matured a great deal since Jon had first left Winterfell all those years ago, and he couldn’t have been more proud of her. 

Daenerys, for her part, had started to take quite a liking to Sansa the moment she had given her blessing to their union.  Once Daenerys had been certain that Sansa wasn’t plotting against her, she’d been able to let her guard down.  Now, the two were becoming fast friends, and Jon was more than a little relieved.  Although Arya was still a bit wary of Daenerys, she was finally beginning to come around as well.  Just that morning, she had given them both her blessing, finally accepting Daenerys into the family.

Jon couldn’t keep his eyes away from his new bride.  She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  Her gown was an icy blue satin that accented the vibrant tones of her eyes, and her silver-white hair was braided intricately down her back, studded with myriad blue flowers from the glass garden.  She was the picture of loveliness, and Jon had never loved her more.

“You know,” Tyrion said as he came up beside Jon and climbed into the empty chair next to him, “if you keep looking at her like that, people are going to think that you’re in love with your wife.”

“I am in love with my wife,” Jon said, his gaze never leaving her.

“Yes, I know.  Anyone with eyes can see that.  But I must say, it is rather unseemly.  Daenerys may be extraordinarily beautiful, but you are a king now, and you should probably keep your feelings more guarded.”

Jon finally tore his eyes away from his bride and looked down at Tyrion.  “I could say the same thing about you.  I see the way you look at Sansa.  Everyone does.  You certainly have no shame in showing your affection.”

“I am a shameless creature by nature,” Tyrion replied as he reached out and poured himself a glass of wine.  “Everyone knows that.  And I am no king.  But you, bastard—”  He stopped himself.  “Well, I can’t call you that anymore, can I?  You, Your Grace,” Tyrion said with a quirk of a smile, “are a king, and therefore, you must be held to a higher standard than the rest of us.”

Jon turned away from Tyrion and gazed out at the crowd that had gathered to celebrate his wedding.  He was surrounded by highborn nobles and smallfolk alike, and every last person present seemed to approve of his choice.  Once he had declared his intention to marry Daenerys, no one had questioned him, even after they’d discovered the truth about his parentage. 

Jon looked at Tyrion again.  He was now slumped against the high backed chair, contemplating the glass of wine in his hand. 

“My people don’t seem to mind my obvious affection for my wife,” Jon said.  “I’ve certainly heard no complaints.”

“Well, why would you have?  No one complains to the king or the queen, they complain to the Hand.  And as Daenerys’ Hand—”

“Only for a few more days,” Jon reminded him.

“Yes, yes, until she leaves for King’s Landing.  I know.  But as I am still currently Hand of the Queen, I am going to give you some advice.”  Tyrion’s tone suddenly sobered.  “Guard yourself when you are in King’s Landing.  Don’t let anyone know just how much you love her.  If you do, they’ll see it as a weakness and use that weakness against you, either to threaten you or to manipulate you.  When you’re alone, love her as she deserves to be loved.  But when you’re in public, temper your affection so that you don’t end up losing the one thing you love most.”

Jon stared at Tyrion for a moment, absorbing his words as if they had come from the most wizened maester in Oldtown.  Tyrion had a point.  Jon felt perfectly safe at Winterfell surrounded by his own people, by those who loved and admired him, but things would be different in King’s Landing.  Although he had never visited the city proper, he knew the capital was rife with intrigue, and he would have to be careful.  Even though many of his enemies had perished in the Great War, he was certain that many still remained.  He would be wise to be cautious, to refrain from giving them the means to tear out his heart simply because he couldn’t control his emotions.

“I hate to admit it,” Jon said, “but that is sound advice.”

“That is the only kind of advice I give,” Tyrion replied, taking a sip of wine.

Jon laughed.  “In that case, it’s a shame you won’t be joining us in King’s Landing.  We could use all the good counsel we can get.”

Tyrion dismissed Jon’s concerns with a wave of his hand.  “You’ll be fine.  Besides, if you really need my advice, you can always send a raven.”

“It’s not the same thing,” Jon said.  “Are you sure you won’t reconsider?”

Tyrion nodded.  “I’m sure.  If I reconsidered, even for a moment, my wife would have my head.  And I very much prefer it where it is, attached to my neck.  So no, I won’t be leaving Winterfell anytime soon.”

“If you know what’s good for you,” Sansa said as she approached the table, Daenerys by her side.

Tyrion pushed himself up in the chair, his eyes brightening the instant he saw Sansa.  “Ah, my dear wife.  I was just telling Jon that I have absolutely no interest in ever returning to King’s Landing, that I would not dare risk your wrath by even suggesting it.”

“That is a wise decision, my lord.”

“And don’t I know it?” Tyrion said with a smirk, his words only half serious.

“And what if your queen demands that you return to King’s Landing?” Daenerys asked, arching one fine brow in question.

“In that case, I shall start my own rebellion, declare myself King in the North, and refuse to go.”

Jon could tell that Daenerys wanted to laugh at Tyrion’s answer, but she stopped herself, the hint of a smile on her lips the only indication that she was amused.  “Should you do that, I would have to send my entire army north to put an end to your rebellion, and I’m certain you wouldn’t want to see that happen, would you?”

“I would much prefer it to ever having to leave my wife.”

Sansa blushed, and Jon was certain that she wanted nothing more than to steal away to her bedchamber with Tyrion and spend the rest of the night alone with him.

“Perhaps,” Daenerys said, “if I call you to King’s Landing, Sansa could come with you.”

“No!” Sansa and Tyrion exclaimed in unison, and suddenly, everyone laughed.

“All right then,” Daenerys conceded, “I will not call you to King’s Landing.”

“Good,” Tyrion said as he put down his half empty glass and climbed from the chair.  “Now, if you will both excuse us, there’s something very important I must discuss with my wife.” 

A knowing smile tugged at Daenerys’ lips.  “I can only imagine.”

Tyrion rounded the table and took Sansa’s hand.  “Come, wife.  We have very important matters to discuss.”

“Of course, we do.”  Sansa fought back a secret smile, trying to hide her feelings, but it was no use.  It was obvious to anyone who looked at her that she was smitten with her husband.  “If you would excuse us?”  She asked the question of both Jon and Daenerys, but her eyes never left Tyrion.

“For now,” Daenerys replied, and before she could say another word, they were gone. 

Daenerys shook her head as she stared after them.  It was obvious to Jon that he wasn’t the only one who was surprised by just how happy they were together.

“You know,” Jon said, “I don’t think they’re going off to discuss important matters at all.  I think they’re going off to do something quite different.”

Daenerys turned her head and finally looked at him, her eyes dancing with unspoken joy.  “If they are, then I quite envy them.”

“Do you now?”

“I do.”

“Well,” Jon said as he pushed himself up from his chair, “what are we going to do about that?”

Daenerys didn’t answer him with words.  She didn’t have to.  They had already spent far too long entertaining their guests.  It was well past time they left the Great Hall and did some celebrating on their own.

Jon walked around the table, taking Daenerys’ hand the moment he reached her.  He looked around the crowded hall, certain their departure would not go unnoticed, but he didn’t care.  The quicker they made their escape, the better.  All he wanted was to be alone with his new bride and celebrate their union in private.

Jon led Daenerys from the hall.  He refused to make eye contact with anyone, lest they be forced to stop and talk.  Soon, they were alone together in the corridor, and the instant he was certain they wouldn’t be seen, he pushed her up against the wall and kissed her passionately.  It had been hours since he’d last kissed her, and he couldn’t wait a moment longer. 

Daenerys kissed him just as fiercely, and Jon knew if they didn’t stop, he’d end up taking her right there in the hallway.  And so, despite his own desires, he pulled away, staring down at his wife as he struggled to catch his breath.

“You know,” Jon said, “Tyrion doesn’t approve of such open displays of affection.  He warned me not to be seen showing any passion for my new bride.”

Daenerys laughed.  “Well, once we leave for King’s Landing, he will no longer be my Hand, so he will have no say in the matter.”

“Still, I would much rather make love to you in a bed than out here in the corridor.”

A devilish smile spread across Daenerys’ lips.  “I don’t know, I think I might actually enjoy making love right where we stand.”

Jon groaned inwardly.  He wanted her so desperately that he was tempted to take her right then and there, but Daenerys stopped him from doing anything so foolish.  She reached out and took his hand, guiding him away from the wall.

“I’ll take pity on you, Jon Snow, just this once.  Come, make love to me in our bed.”

He kissed her once more, sweetly, softly, before allowing her to lead him down the hallway to their chamber.  He would make love to her until the sun set and rose again.  He would spend the rest of his life loving her just as much as she loved him.