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Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things

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AN: Any recognisable dialogue belongs exclusively to the HBO Tv Show; Game of Thrones and George R.R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire

Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things

We know no King, but the King in the North whose name is Stark

Chapter I – Jon

In the chamber that had once belonged to his eldest brother, Jon scrubs his hand over the days growth on his jaw, the soft candlelight doing little to ease his troubled mind.

He feels like a fraud.

The same Northern Lords who'd once so readily proclaimed Robb as the King in the North, had declared for him with the same fervor, thanks to the call of Lady Lyanna Mormont. The word of a child, a child who was named for his Lord Father's sister no less, had stirred the Northern Lords into declaring for him... a Bastard.

The North Remembers.

His grey eyes settle upon the battered bronze circlet dangling from his fingertips, the once sharp black iron broadswords that rounded the crown were dulled and bent, the runes of the First Men scratched and broken. The crown that had rested upon Robb's head was presented to him with little fanfare by Lady Brienne's squire, how he'd gotten his hands upon it Jon doesn't know, but he's thankful, the weighted reminder of Robb's fateful reign grounding him.

Robb, in all essence, was born to be King in the North. Jon feels like a fraud, holding his brother's crown, sleeping in his brother's bed, claiming his brother's title. He is a bastard, he knows not where he was born, he knows not the name of his mother, he knows nothing of the circumstances that surrounded his Lord Father forsaking his honour… all he knows, is that he does not deserve to be King in the North.

We know no King, but the King in the North whose name is Stark.

He isn't a Stark. No matter Eddard's blood in his veins, or that he was raised at Winterfell, he is a Snow. The name they give all Noble Bastards of the North. He wonders if he's not supposed to be a Rivers, or a Sand, he was born during Robert's Rebellion, the Usurper's Rebellion, and it could be he's not a Snow at all. Though it doesn't truly matter now, he realises, as he'll never find the answers he seeks. There must always be a Stark in Winterfell, and by Jon's reckoning, that Stark should be Sansa, regardless of her being a woman. If a woman could be Queen, then a woman could inherit. With Robb and Rickon dead, and with Bran and Arya beyond their reach, Sansa was, in all essence, the last trueborn Stark. And yet, it was he who holds Winterfell.

Jon will never forget the sight of the Northern Lords, swords raised above their heads, united in their declaration of independence, united in their cry of King in the North. He remembers his fear, reflected in Sansa's crystal blue eyes, as the burden that killed their brother was placed upon his shoulders. But most of all he remembers her determined stare, the daydreaming child she was crushed beneath the palms of Bastards like Ramsey Bolton.

The North Remembers.

He spins the crown between his palms, flipping it over and over and as if by doing so he can turn back time and it would be sitting upon Robb's head, instead of his own. Jon hangs his head… he misses his brother. He'd been seven and ten when they last met, saying their goodbyes in the courtyard of Winterfell, so blissfully unaware that they would never meet again... and by the gods, Jon would do anything to go back to the days before Robert Baratheon's arrival at Winterfell.

With Robb's crown upon his head, Jon stares into the shined silver looking glass mounted upon the stone wall... and sobs. His Lord Father's death, Lady Catelyn's death, Robb's death, Sansa's rape, Bran's crippling, Rickon's murder, it could all be traced back to the Usurper's arrival at Winterfell. His demand had Lord Stark leave his seat to become the Hand of the King, and until his second dying day, Jon will never understand the undying loyalty his Lord Father bestowed upon the man who set a Kingdom ablaze to right a wrong that wasn't his to claim. That that trust led to Lord Stark's death... well, Jon knew all too well the price of misplaced loyalty. The scars that littered his chest reminding him of such every time he saw his reflection in the polished silver looking glass

Jon snatches the crown from his head, unable to bare the weight of it any longer. He has no right to Robb's crown, to Robb's title. If Robb's crown should belong to anyone, it should be Sansa's. He could imagine it, his brother's crown restored to its former glory, adorning her head, her Tully-red hair fanning out like a halo and her blue-eyes hard, ready to lead the North to victory. It's a fools dream, he knows the Northern Lords, for all their love for their mothers, wives and daughters, would never follow Sansa. They view her as broken, no matter that she almost single handedly won Winterfell for the North.

In a moment of bitterness, in a moment of pure, unadulterated anger, Jon throws Robb's crown at the stone wall, his rage failing as it clatters to the floor noisily. He doesn't want this. He wants his family, alive and well, as they were years ago.

The North Remembers.

It's all too much. Half his family is dead… Arya and Bran were lost, Sansa is broken… he is broken. Sliding down the cool wall, Jon holds his head in his hands, his spirit well and truly shattered.

Everything they went through, everyone they lost… it seems so pointless. Jon finds himself longing for his childhood, when his only fear was that which existed only in the stories that Old Nan used to tell.

Jon's head snaps up.

Old Nan.

The world slows as he stands, his heartbeat steady in his ears, the torch-lit halls of Winterfell blurring together as he traverses them, his mind refusing to process anything more than the idea that has taken him. Jon can't be sure if he's dreaming as he looks up at the red-leaved heart tree with no memory of how he's gotten here, the face of the Old Gods staring into his soul.

Winter has come, but Jon does not feel the bite of the wind nor the sting of the water as he steps deep into the depths of the reflecting pool his Lord Father used to sit beside cleaning Ice, until his waist is covered and he can go no further.

When the Long Summer has past and Winter has Come, the Children of the Forest awaken and their magic returns.

For a moment he floats, the sight of the stars peaking through the red-leaves of the white branched Weirwood tree offering him a single moment of clarity... before he sinks beneath the obsidian water, the stars fading and his vision blurring.

Please. Jon begs, slipping deep into the embrace of the Old Gods, his lungs wet, his heart slowing its beat… and thumping its last. Answer my prayer.

AN: And so it begins.

21/05/2017 - Minor edits, spelling, grammar, point of view. Disclaimer.