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A Hundred Roads Lead to You

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Her name was Joanna and she was an ordinary barmaid, just like one would find from the Sunset Kingdoms all the way to Asshai.

She served drinks, she got coin, she swerved from wandering hands and sometimes slapped them away.

Sometimes she also had to slap the owners of said hand or more.

She also learned a jumble of things, every time it was her turn to work, from the drunk patrons with too loose tongues or not low enough voices.

Sometimes it was boring, sometimes interesting and sometimes neither.

Regardless she always pondered it when she walked her way home in the cool nights, passing Bravos looking to duel and courtesan plying their trade whether on the roads or by barges.

This merchant made this trade, this one slept with this one’s wife or daughter, this Bravos won this duel...

Very boring common chatter.

Sometimes there would be news from outside the city and it would likewise vary.

This merchant from so and so wanted to trade this and it would be a good deal, this Targaryen exile was conquering those disgusting slaver cities…

All rather common or going to a wild imaginary tale from one moment to the next.

And sometimes it would be more grounded in reality and easier to believe.

The ‘War of Five Kings’ as those Westerosi savages call it rages on, the poor youngest Stark daughter married to the monster of the north…

All rather common tales.

At the…

Joanna hiccuped.

Strange? Did she suddenly get afflicted with it? Oh well, it was a minor annoyance at best and the cool salty air on her cheeks would help her get rid of it in due time. Though perhaps it would be best to hold her breath for a while to help deal with it, Joanna certainly thought it would be appropriate.

Now what was that other tale she had heard? The one before she suddenly hiccuped?

In the Northernmost kingdom and further up to the edge of the world where they called ‘The Wall’…

Joanna let out her breath, and through her stinging eyes from holding her breath she was relieved to note that her unexpected bout of hiccups was gone.

...The one who leads the men there, the so called Lord Commander…

Her throat felt tight, she really should have let her breath out sooner but she really wanted to be sure that her hiccups would be gone.

...Was stabbed and killed by his own men…

Joanna tripped on smooth road.

That was strange, she was normally more graceful. Nothing like a Water Dancer-

Lies

-After all where would she get a sword?

From her favorite brother.

That was silly, Joanna had no brothers only two other sisters.

She was glad she made it to her apartment. She might be coming down with something what with the sudden case of hiccups and her tripping on nothing.

Joanna certainly thought so.

She climbed the steps, with her suddenly and inexplicably trembling fingers and sudden jerky steps.

The black bastard at the wall…

She wondered about him for some strange reason.

...Stabbed by his own men...

How would such a man be?

...Betrayed…

How would he look like?

She was halfway over to her door when she felt a sudden and inexplicable sorrow for such a man.

It was a strange thing to feel, for someone you didn’t even know how they looked like – Tall and handsome with dark brown hair that curled at the ends, that caught snowflakes in its tips, with grey eyes that shined when he saw her – for someone who could have been a wretc-

LIES!

Joanna paused as she turned the doorknob, cocking her head to the side. The smell of salty air still firmly in her nose and on her cheeks.

Silently, Joanna turned the doorknob, entered, closed it and locked it.

It was empty like it always was, she found she rather liked it this way.

She wondered how the Lord Commander would have liked Braavos, for some strange reason, as she decided to freshen up.

Would he have liked it?

A boy that smiled rarely, except at her, she always made him smile, just like he did to her.

Would he have enjoyed the Water Dancers and their craft? Probably not, he was Westerosi and they understood-

No. He would have. He would have been eager to learn and he would have excelled, just like he always did in the yard.

- Perhaps he would be taken with the courtesans just like all men were -

Jon would have resisted, too mindful of his place or his perceived lack of, of accidentally having his seed take root in some girl and cursing his offspring with his bastardy.

- Maybe he would have enjoyed being here with her.

Joanna paused, the last of her clothes hanging on her fingers before she also discarded that.

What a strange thought.

She paced to the small looking glass in the washroom before seating herself before it and starting to clean herself.

Would Jon have enjoyed Braavos?

He would have enjoyed the freedom, the sights, the smell, the wind, the duels.

She wondered what he would have liked, as she dipped the rag and brought her trembling fingers along her body.

He would have been the greatest of the Bravos - even though he would have never walked like a puffed up peacock - perhaps even become the First Sword of the Sealord in no time at all.

Jon would have worn black and whenever some fool thought he could beat him Jon would prevail.

He could have been a sellsword, the greatest of them all, winning battles all over the Free Cities from here to Slaver’s Bay.

The rag crumbled in her grasp and her fingernails tore through it.

He would have outsmarted his foes, outmaneuvered them. Would have won their hearts and minds when he would have slain his past demons with his new found freedom.

Perhaps he could have been a different Lord Commander, one to the sellswords, maybe one of his own creation, maybe the Golden Company, maybe the Company of the Rose.

Her Jon was strong, her Jon was smart and graceful with a hidden tongue of Valyrian Steel and a lithe figure.

He could see through every lie the way no other could.

So why didn’t he see through his own men’s betrayal and die?

The wash pan nearly shattered as she threw it with all her might against the wall.

She saw herself in the looking glass, arm outstretched, sun kissed skin flushed red (Strange, the water wasn’t that hot?), her chest rising and falling deeply (Maybe she needed to see a healer?) and a hint of something swimming under her gaze.

Her hands came up to her face and cupped it, her hot breath erratic and broken, ghosting over her fingers.

She felt...strange.

Wrong, like there was something underneath her skin.

...The Lord Commander…

The tall, handsome, brave, lithe, unstoppable…

She grasped strands of her wet hair in a sudden bout of frustration. Sh- Joanna had been stressed lately.

...Was trying to save his little sister-

Little sister, he always used to muss her hair.

- From the Monster of the North, her husband. She had escaped -

She would have killed him before escaping, like the disgusting Bolton that he was.

- and sent a letter to the wall -

Her nails dug into her cheeks, leaving red trails looking like tear marks but it wasn’t enough, the crawling sensation was still there.

- And then his men killed him. For a supposed betrayal -

Instinctively her hands went up to a specific point on her forehead.

- By Betrayal -

Jon would have slaughtered the oathbreakers in combat. Would have won no matter if it was one or multiple Knights, let alone untrained convicts.

- all for his little sister.

Joanna pulled and suddenly there were grey eyes staring back at her.

Grey like Jon’s, who shined with happiness when they saw her, just like she felt hers do when she saw him.

Grey like their father’s.

Stark Grey.

Teary Stark grey eyes looked at her from the looking glass.

Looked at Arya Stark through the pooling tears.

“...Jon.” She croaked out. Her voice broken and weak.

Her brother, her Jon, lying in a pool of his own blood on the snowy ground because he was trying to save her.

Except she wasn’t there in the North, with him, she was in Braavos warm and healthy while he died on the cold heartless snow…

The first sob broke through her throat.

...While he died alone and thinking he had failed her.

When she had failed him.

...And then there was no stopping the sobs.

“Jon...Jon...Jon...” She repeated over and over, like a prayer, like a spell but she was no red priestess to be able to bring him back from the dead, more so when on opposite sides of the sea.

Her eyes burned, her heart felt like it was ripped out, crushed and the remains shoved back into her chest.

Her mouth and throat felt as dry as Dorne despite her tears trailing down into her mouth.

Her veins felt like glass had wormed its way inside of them and no matter how much she curled into a ball in the washroom the pain didn’t go away.

No matter how much she cried and wailed and sobbed and broke, the pain didn’t go away.

And after who knows how many minutes, or hours, or days she felt a different sort of sensation within her broken body.

From within the broken and scattered remains of her heart and soul she felt a howling.

Her fingers tightened until her knuckles were white and she drew blood on her palms.

Gently at first but rising in crescendo.

She stood up on trembling weak limbs, with her hands supporting her legs.

And let the howling overcome her.

Dunsen, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Queen Cersei, Black brothers.

Valar morghulis, valar morghulis, valar morghulis.

Jon, her big brother.

Her Jon who forsook the chance to ever have the family he wanted because everyone else didn’t accept him, because he felt he needed to gain Honor when he thought he had none, when in reality he was one of the most honorable men she knew.

Black Brothers.

They killed him.

Black Brothers.

They broke their oaths.

Black Brothers.

They betrayed him.

Black Brothers of the Night’s Watch.

They need to die.

Valar morghulis.