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Like the Love That Comes With Light

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He rises from the dead and everyone treats him like a man who just rose from the dead.

Everyone except Val, that is. All she does is hand him a cup of ale and declare, "I didn't kneel to you before, Lord Snow, and I won't be doing it now."

Jon smiles and takes a sip from the cup. "I'd never ask it."

"Good." She has the baby she thinks is Dalla's still wrapped to her chest, and she clucks her tongue at him when he starts to fuss. "I've got a real babe to tend to so I'll leave you to it. Try not to die again."

"Would you miss me?" he teases.

As the baby starts to wail, Val smoothes a hand over his head and quips, "More than your men, it seems."

Later when he is alone with Ghost, still trying to make sense of everything that's happened, Davos joins him with a hot meal in hand. After the older man urges him to eat, he nods towards Ghost. "I think it's best you keep him close now, hmm? While you were...he wouldn't let anyone near you. I thought he'd take my arm off the first time I tried to get close. If it wasn't for your wildling princess, he just might've."


"She didn't want to let the Red Woman near you. I didn't either," he admits, "but I've seen what she could do. I thought I was going to end up on the table beside you but Tormund convinced her to let it happen. You haven't many true friends here, Jon Snow, but she's one of them."

He smiles, thinking back to Stannis's offer of legitimization and Winterfell and Val at his side, and how he was convinced Val would never look at him as anything other than an enemy. The world makes so little sense now and Jon isn't certain it ever will again, but it helps to know there are a few people left in the world who care that he is in it.

If he is honest, he isn't surprised when Val comes to his chamber. Her hair is loose, a cascade of golden curls against the drab color of her cloak. She bars the door as if this is something they've planned, as if she's done it a hundred times before. Jon sits up in his bed, watching in silence as Val removes her cloak and boots, draping her cloak over a chair. She unlaces her gown, folding it atop the cloak, nude save for a pair of thick woolen hose, which she rolls down her long legs with a peculiar grace. He and Ygritte never had the chance to indulge in something as simple as undressing before each other, no chance to take their time. Jon isn't even certain there's time now but Val is approaching his bed, pulling back the bedclothes when she reaches it.

"Val - "

She presses her fingers against his lips, and Jon shivers. "I'm stealing you."

He looks at her from beneath his lashes, confused and aroused, and kisses the pads of her fingers. Val slides her hand up his cheek to cup the side of his head, and Jon gasps as she suddenly grasps a clutch of his hair and tugs his head back with enough force to dance along the edge of pain.

"I've stolen you, Jon Snow," she declares, her warm voice a near growl as she slings a leg over his lap to straddle him, "and you are mine for as long as I intend to keep you."

"Aye," is all he manages, head swimming with lust, and when Val presses her mouth hard against his, Jon forgets. He forgets the betrayal, the pain, the shock of waking up to discover everything he knew has changed, and lets himself feel.

She unlaces his smallclothes with ruthless efficiency, reaching into them and pulling out his cock, swallowing his moans. Jon flinches when her hand brushes the bottom of his tunic, but Val doesn't try to take it off. If what Davos said was true, Val saw what was done to him, and while Jon does not know if the half-moon marks on his torso will ever heal, they certainly aren't healed now. That Val lets him keep this part private, aware of what he's feeling without him saying a word, makes him realize just how close he has gotten to Val without even realizing it.

There is nothing restrained about her moan as she sinks down on him, and Jon almost shushes her, mindful of his vows. Except he isn't a man of the Night's Watch now, is he? He served until his death and Jon doesn't know what he is. The Lord Commander? A creature from one of Old Nan's stories? A Northern bastard with nothing to his name, no place to go and his family, gone?

Jon moans too, almost shouting, and Val laughs, snaps her hips, and pants against his mouth, "That's it, Jon Snow. Live."

She gasps as he rears up, flipping her onto her back. Val laughs again, hitching her knees up his body as he slides into her again, his pace fast and furious. Jon wants to lose himself in her, find himself in her, just wants in a way he didn't think he ever would or could, and Val seems to sense it, digging her nails into his back and murmuring, "That's it, that's it."

He comes to quickly, groaning into her neck, and Val takes his hand, puts it on her cunt and makes a noise to urge him on. Jon rubs her, kissing and sucking along her neck, and Val bites his lower lip as she shakes with pleasure.

"I love you," Jon pants against her skin.

Val makes a noise that is equal parts unimpressed and mildly interested before pulling the bedclothes up around them.

For the next few days, Jon cannot stop touching her, sneaking away with her at every chance, desperate to be inside her no matter how little time had passed from the last time. Val pretends she is put out by it, but she always goes with him, laughing and teasing him about how dying was the best thing that ever happened to him. Jon begins to wonder about what life will be like now that he is not tethered to the Wall, where he and Val and the babe can go to start anew.

And then Sansa arrives at the Wall.

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She isn't the girl Jon knew at Winterfell but sometimes, when she smiles at Davos or offers to hold Monster for Val, Jon sees a glimpse of the soft, dreamy child she'd been.

"It isn't my place," Lady Brienne says to him one morning when the air is so frigid, it steals her breath, "but what Ramsay Bolton did to her...She is stronger than anyone knows but that does not mean she doesn't need gentle handling."

When he relays the conversation to Val that evening, Val scoffs. "I've looked in that girl's eyes, Jon Snow. She doesn't want to be handled gentle. She wants revenge."

"Revenge? No, Sansa isn't - "

"You don't know what that girl is or isn't. No man does. She wouldn't have lived this long if they did." Val moved Monster to her shoulder, pounding on his back until he burps. "She isn't the sister you've talked about. What happened to her?"

Jon shakes his head. "No one knows. It's just...Sansa and me, it would seem."

"The last Starks."

"I'm not a Stark."

Val rolls her eyes, getting to her feet so she can change the baby's swaddling clothes. "Worry about your sister, Jon Snow, and not your pouting."

"I don't pout."

"You pout more than he does," she counters, gesturing to the baby. "Now go see your sister and leave me be."

Jon supposes it's a good thing Brienne didn't ask Val for gentle handling because while Val is many things, Jon isn't certain gentle is one of them.

"When we take back Winterfell, are you going to send for Val?" Sansa asks after Lyanna Mormont finally agrees to support their efforts to wrest their home back from Ramsay.

Jon doesn't answer for a long beat, unsure what to say. He hadn't known for certain if Sansa knew the true nature of his relationship with Val, and it certainly wasn't something they discussed. When it came time to ride out from the Wall, Jon made arrangements for Val and the Monster to join Alys Karstark and her Thenn husband at Karhold until things were more certain. It wasn't safe at the Wall anymore, especially with the wildlings supporting their cause, and the battlefield was no place for a babe. Val went willingly, a little smirk on her face as she said, "Try not to get yourself killed again, Lord Snow," and they'd shared a brief kiss. Mayhaps Sansa had seen that.

Finally he managed, "Val is a Free Woman. She chooses where she goes."

"But do you want her to come? You could marry in the godswood." A shadow crosses Sansa's face as she sips her wine. "Father would have liked that."

"The wildlings don't marry like we do. I'm not sure she'd want it."

"But the baby...I mean...isn't it proper - "

"He isn't mine. He isn't even Val's. Her sister Dalla, she died in childbirth."

"Oh." A light blush floods Sansa's cheeks. "I'm sorry. I should've known you wouldn't have..."

"Wouldn't have what?"

Her blush deepens to near the color of her hair. "You're a good man. You wouldn't get a child on someone and just...leave them."

He thinks of that long ago conversation with Sam about getting a bastard on a woman and what it means to be a bastard in the world. Sansa is right, and it pleases him to know she thinks so highly of him. As he's learned since reuniting with her, there are few people, let alone men, left in this world that Sansa thinks to be good.

"I'll send an invitation to her when it's time. That is, if you'd like it."

"Of course. It would be nice to have a friend there and with the baby, it could cheer everyone up some."

"When you have your own children - " Jon stops when he sees the way Sansa flinches from the words, and he knows he's misspoken. They do not discuss Ramsay or what happened during their horrendous sham of a marriage, but his imagination has filled in the terrible details. He watches as she sets down her wine cup, crossing to the window to stare out at the sea.

"Sansa - "

"I won't have children of my own," she cuts in, her voice thick with emotion. "No one will have me now, not after the way he ruined me."

"You're not ruined, Sansa."

"But no lord will make a marriage between his son and me now. You know that. Winterfell will be Rickon's, and you will be his protector, will you not? You could not even bribe a lord to wed me now, not unless the lord is old enough to be our grandfather and needs an heir like Jon Arryn." She reaches up to wipe away a tear, her face so painfully sad in the reflection in the glass. "Besides, I've had two husbands and I do not like being married. I just...want to go home."

Jon crosses the room to stand behind her, his hand hovering for a moment before settling on her shoulder. Sansa turns, pressing her face against his shoulder, and Jon just holds her and prays to the gods he is everything Sansa believes him to be.

They put Rickon to rest in the crypts beside Father. Jon cries unashamedly as they put the stone slab over his body, and Sansa holds him, her own tears silently coursing down her cheeks. The unfamiliar stone countenance of their father watches them, and Sansa murmurs to him that Father will watch over him, that he is safe again with Father and Mother and Robb.

"He's running with Shaggy again," Sansa assures him, and it makes Jon cry harder because the boy he failed, the one now lost to them forever, he will always be that wild three-year-old Jon remembers chasing after him and Robb, driving everyone to distraction, desperate to be with his siblings. He cries for Rickon and Bran and Arya, gods, how he misses Arya. He doesn't want to be here without Robb, without his siblings, without their father, but it is also the only place he wants to be.

"Will you promise me something, Jon?" she asks before they leave the crypts.

He nods, scrubbing at his face.

"Promise me I won't have to put you here too. Promise me you won't leave."

It is a promise he shouldn't make but Jon swears it anyway.

He breaks his promise the way he knew he would when he decides to leave for Dragonstone, to plead his case to the Dragon Queen. No one wants him to go, least of all Sansa, and Jon doesn't want to go himself. But being a king means making hard choices, and this is one he has to make.

Sansa storms into his chamber, angrier than he's seen her since they were children, and even then her anger was reserved for Arya. Having it turned on him, it's like facing down a fierce storm, and Jon finds himself set back on his heels as she spits, "Liar!"

"Sansa - "

"You swore you wouldn't leave. You swore!"

"I have to - "

"You don't have to! You're choosing to! You're leaving me!"

"Sansa - "

"You're leaving me like everyone else!" she shouts, hitting his chest with her fists, the blows making Jon stumble back more from shock than their force. "Why can't you stay? Why doesn't anybody stay?!"

"Please, Sansa - "

"I hate you," she sobs, hitting at his chest even as the back of his legs bump against his bed. "I hate you more than I've ever hated anyone, Jon Snow! You're a liar and an oathbreaker and a - a - a bastard!"

Jon finally catches her wrists, trapping her arms gently against her chest. Sansa struggles, tears streaming down her cheeks, and Jon calls her name several times before she finally stops, looking at him with such hurt in her blue eyes, her breath coming fast from rage and pain.

"I am all of those things, I am, but I don't want to hurt you, Sansa. I love you. I love you. I love you."

He keeps repeating the words, brushing his lips against her forehead, her temple, her cheekbone, the bridge of her nose. He kisses every inch of her face, whispering how he loves her, and he feels the fight go out of her, her tears starting to slow. Jon releases her wrists, and she clutches the front of his shirt whimpering, "Please don't leave me."

Jon cups her face between his palms, touches his forehead to hers. "I'll be back. It's only for a little bit. I will be back. And I'm not leaving you, sweetling. It's not you."

"Please, Jon," she begs, twisting her fingers in his shirt. "I need you."

"And I need you. You're going to be the Lady of Winterfell - "

It shocks him, the press of Sansa's mouth against his own. He jerks back and, from the look on Sansa's face, she is as surprised by her actions as he is. But then something changes in her face, resolute as ever, and she moves to kiss him again. Jon gently catches her chin, shaking his head.

"Not this, Sansa. You don't have to do this to try to get me to stay."

"You don't want me?"

"You're beautiful and I would be lucky to have a woman like you at my side're my sister, Sansa. We're not Lannisters."

She nods, her grip on his shirt loosening some. Her voice barely more than a whisper, "I just wanted...Just once...someone kind to..."

Jon pulls her into an embrace, stroking her hair as she holds him as tight as she can. "You'll have that, sweetling. You are too good and too sweet to not be loved."

She lifts her face to his, her blue eyes bright with emotion. "Can I stay here with you tonight, Jon? I won't kiss you again, I swear. I just...I don't want to be alone tonight."

He knows he should say no but Jon has never been good at saying no to beautiful women who hold his heart. Instead he lets Sansa climb into his bed in nothing but her shift, follows her into bed, and wraps his arms around her. Sansa burrows against him, her ear over his heart, and that is how they fall asleep.

Even after, he still thinks it was a dream.

He wakes to Sansa, naked and bathed in moonlight, sitting atop him. Her long hair is loose, hanging over her breasts in the most tantalizing display of modesty Jon's ever seen. She leans over him, smelling of lavender and wine, and whispers, "Just once, Jon, just once," before taking his mouth in a long, soft kiss.

She touches him with unsure hands, undresses him with a blush high on her cheeks. Jon almost stops her but if it is a dream, why stop something so sweet? Instead he touches her back, gentle fingers trailing over her skin, one callused thumb rolling over her nipple. He urges her up his body, and though she does it, making a confused noise as she does so, Jon ignores it, pulling her over his face and dragging his tongue along the length of her cunt.

She tastes divine, her soft cries music to his ears, and Jon holds her tight against him, working her over until she pushes his head away, shaking from the pleasure of it all. Sansa is still trembling as Jon reaches for her, settling her back atop him, his cock now hard and aching. He holds himself still as Sansa eases herself down onto him, her head dropped back, crying his name towards the sky. She is the most beautiful thing he's ever seen in his life, and so he tells her that, making her smile so bright he hopes this dream becomes recurring.

In the morning Sansa is gone, not even an impression of her left in the sheets. Jon is nude, which confuses him as he remembers wearing clothes to bed, but it wouldn't be the first time he's stripped in his sleep. It isn't until he climbs from bed to dress and notices the love bite on his hip that he pauses, a sense of dread settling over him.

Except when he goes to break his fast, Sansa declares he snores terribly and acts as if nothing has changed, so Jon thinks he must be wrong, the mark must be some random bruise he hadn't noticed before that day.

Sansa watches him leave, and Jon offers a sad wave. The entire way to Dragonstone, he hopes (and hates himself for hoping) to have the dream of Sansa in his chamber again, but it never comes.

And then he arrives at Dragonstone and nothing is ever the same again.

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When he first arrives at Dragonstone, hot, uncomfortable, and already exhausted from politics, Jon thinks Sansa may have been right after all: he shouldn't have left Winterfell. There is a part of him that wants to turn around, return to the castle and send for Val and live the rest of his life in the North. Except, of course, in order for there to be a North, he needs the cooperation of the Dragon Queen and so he must play a game he doesn't feel prepared to play.

The Targaryens have never been real to them. They were the monsters in the stories the people at Winterfell told, the villains in House Stark's history: kidnappers, rapists, murderers. He'd lost his aunt Lyanna to Rhaegar, his uncle Brandon and his grandfather to the Mad King, and Jon cannot even count how many times he and Robb played Robert's Rebellion as children, taking turns being triumphant on the Trident or slaying Ser Arthur Dayne to rescue Aunt Lyanna. If he is honest, Jon forgot there were exiled Targaryen children in the world, and he could've lived his whole life not knowing Daenerys Targaryen even existed.

Jon isn't sure what he expects but it is not enough. Daenerys Targaryen is beautiful, inflexible, stubborn, compassionate, a thousand adjectives men like Tyrion surely know, but what Jon recognizes in Daenerys is what he so often feels himself: lost. They are the same, he and Daenerys, two people with no true place in the world trying to do what they think is best while everyone else tries to tell them what that is.

He respects her. He's infuriated by her. He's unsure what is going to happen.

Davos doesn't seem quite so unsure. He keeps making these comments, subtle as they are, about Jon's attraction towards her, and Jon denies it, ignores it, focuses on mining the dragonglass and fulfilling his mission.

His mission should not take him to Daenerys's cabin on that ship. And yet he goes because he can't seem to stop himself.

She's so bloody hot, her skin seeming to burn him as he drags his tongue around her nipple, explores every inch of her body with a hungry touch. The first time was so rushed, so desperate, and even though he should go back to his own cabin, Jon finds himself still reaching for her, still trying to satiate a desire he fears will burn him alive. At least he is comforted by the fact she is the same, hooking her leg around his hip, arching into every touch, tracing the scars on his body and asking about each one. Jon wonders if it is strange that they are learning about each other this way, but he doesn't care. Whatever she wants to know, he will tell her.

The second time, he takes her on her side, her left leg hooked over his hip, Jon sliding into her from behind as he kisses her neck and alternately murmurs sweet words and filthy suggestions into her ear. Daenerys moans, pulls his hand over her body and pushes it towards her cunt, and he chuckles against the shell of her ear, nipping it with his teeth as he teases her clit.

He doesn't leave her cabin until it is almost dawn. Davos is half-asleep in his cabin, sitting in a chair with his eyes closed. As Jon eases himself into the bed, Davos says without opening his eyes, "Don't let your cock get us killed, Your Grace."

So much for discretion.

Tyrion won't look at him. The other men look at him with a combination of awe and uncertainty. Only Gendry and Davos still treat him like nothing has changed. Jon doesn't want anything to change and yet it feels as if the entire world has turned upside down.

"It doesn't bother you that I cannot give you children?" Daenerys asks one evening as the sweat still cools on their bodies, her fingertips drawing shapes on his chest.

"I was Lord Commander of the Night's Watch," he says, carding his fingers through her hair. "I never expected to have children at all."

"What made you take the black?"

He smiles sadly, thinking of Uncle Benjen and his tales of ranging beyond the wall. "I thought it was a place a bastard could make a name for himself."

"You became Lord Commander."

"And my men mutinied and let me die in the snow." He looks at her with a sardonic tug of his lips too pained to be called a smile. "I was young and dumb and as much as I loved my brother, I didn't think I could sit and watch him become everything I would never be. And now I have it and would trade it all back to see Robb again."

"All of it? Even me?"

Jon brushes a soft kiss against her lips. "Even you."

Daenerys smiles. "Most men would lie to their queen about that."

"I'm not much of a liar."

She kisses his chest before resting her head against it. "Good."

The raven comes as they prepare to march their armies north to meet the White Walkers. It is written in Sam's neat hand and even as the world threatens to end, it makes Jon smile to see it.

Jon reads about the status of things at Winterfell, about Arya's loud complaints about not marching North to help fight, about Sansa's capable, steady hand, and Bran's unnerving visions. He is almost to the end of the missive when he can barely believe the sentence he's just read.

I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but Sansa is with child. She has not said anything about it to anyone. She simply appeared one morning with her belly out to her feet. The maester thinks she's been hiding it. She hasn't named the father and when Arya asked her about it, she said she has no plans to do so. I know you march to war, but I wanted you to know we are all doing everything we can to keep House Stark safe.

"Is something wrong?"

Jon looks up to see Daenerys standing inside his tent, a concerned expression on her face. "I'm not certain. sister, that is, she's with child."

Daenerys's eyebrows arch in surprise. "And you aren't stealing a horse to go duel for her honor?"

"No, I..." Jon sets the letter on the table. "She thought she'd never find someone to love after what was done to her. I hope she's happy."

"Is she marrying?"

He shakes his head. "It doesn't say. Mayhaps after the war."

Daenerys steps into his body, tracing the direwolf sigil on his chest. "Mayhaps more than one."

"So presumptuous," Jon teases, leaning down to take her mouth in a lingering kiss.

"A queen gets to presume." Wrapping her arms around his neck, she stands on her toes and asks, "Am I wrong?"

Jon thinks of Val at Karhold, of Sansa at Winterfell, of Ygritte wherever she may be now, and he swears, "I love you."

Loving is the easy part; Jon is good at it. It is all that comes after he's never quite perfected.