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If Ned Was Smart

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The Kings of Winter stayed in the North. Even when they became the Wardens of the North, they remained, and avoided conflicts in the South.

Rarely did the Northern lords concern themselves with Southern affairs. One man broke that trend: Cregan Stark.

After the Dance of the Dragon, Aegon the Second won. His children were assassinated and his wife committed suicide, but Aegon at last beat the Half-Year Queen Rhaenyra. Ripping her in half with his dragon and throwing her eleven year old son in the dungeons was just the icing on his cake.

However, before the Dance ended the Lord of the North was gathering his forces. As the largest kingdom, it was difficult to organize so many men. By the time he and his 50,000 men crossed the Neck, the war was over.

Cregan, however, had the Wolf's Blood. As the only army unhindered by the damage of war, the Northmen marched to King's Landing. Aegon no doubt lost sleep over this, for Cregan had claimed for Rhaenyra. And he didn't bring an army to bend the knee.

Cregan would have his war, and the claimant King would give it to him.

But Rhaenyra's loyalists saw an opportunity and poisoned Aegon. Cregan was met a city with its gates open and Aegon the Third tentatively holding to the throne.

Cregan did not have have his war. But he would have blood. His army took the city and arrested everyone of interest, Lord, Lady, and smallfolk alike. He forced the boy king to name his Hand. Cregan executed not only Aegon the Second's loyalists, but Rhaenyra's as well, for stole his chance to fight. His justification was that poisoning could not be accepted tolerated. It was not of the North, and it would set a bad precedent.

After the Hour of the Wolf, Cregan left city with hundreds of men in key positions. Thus, Cregan saved the Kingdom for Rhaenyra's line.

Cregan became known as the Old Man of the North, and even at fifty, he was a greater swordsman than the young Dragonknight.

Before the Dance, the Starks always stayed in the North, but it was Cregan who let the South taste the Wolf's Blood.

 

Eddard Stark called his banners after his brother and father were burned alive. Jon Arryn and Robert Barantheon joined. Arryn joined for honor, Robert for his betrothed, who was taken to Dorne.

The war was won, and Tywin sacked the city. Robert took his crown, while Ned travelled to Storm's End to lift the siege, and then to Dorne to find his sister.

"Where is my sister?" Ned asked, seven of his bannermen with him.

They faced the three greatest knights of the Kingsguard. Had they been there at the Trident, Rhaegar might still be alive.

Ser Arthur Dayne looked sadly and donned his helmet. They knew Ned wouldn't leave.

"And now it begins," Dayne said, readying his milky white sword.

Ned considered saying something clever. But he was smart. He knew something was wrong.

"Ser Arthur," he said, "You're an honorable man. The war is won. The dragons are dead, and Prince Viserys is a boy travelling on the Narrow Sea."

"With Willem Darry," Arthur said, "He's an honorable man to do so, but the Kingsguard doesn't flee."

"You're a dumb fuck," Ned said, catching the Kingsguard and his men by surprise. "You'd let a little boy and pregnant woman live with only an old man for protection. Queen Rhaella will give birth soon, and we know her history. She may die soon, by Stannis's hands, or in child birth. I wouldn't be surprised if she curses your name with her last breath. The so-called great Knight who didn't care to protect her son."

Arthur looked uncomfortable at the implication. "We must protect the Tower," he said, "It is our duty."

"Word is that my sister was kidnapped and raped by Rhaegar," Ned said, making Arthur wince, "But knowing her, she could also have escaped her betrothal. Why would you prevent me from seeing her?"

"It was our duty-"

"DID RHAEGAR REALLY TELL YOU THAT LYANNA STARK CAN'T SEE HER BROTHER?!" Ned yelled. "She is screaming up there! What the fuck kind of Kingsguard are you to prevent a brother from seeing his sister?"

Dayne was taken aback and could not speak coherently. He wasn't expecting such questions.

"Rhaegar told us to protect her," Dayne said.

"Then do something that will stop her from screaming, you dumb fuck," Ned said, and he grabbed his sword by its hilt and threw it at Dayne's face. "Now get out of my way."

Ned simply walked past the Kingsguard while his men waited there, confused.

Seeing Lyanna giving birth was not what he expected. Ned held her as she cried. She named her boy Aemon and died in his arms.

At that moment, looking at Aemon's Stark grey eyes, Ned remembered Aegon and Rhaenys. Their bodies were butchered and bloody. The Mountain and his mate had killed them, at Tywin's command. They were children that understood nothing. Robert only said it was good they were dead.

Aemon had a sweet face. He was a Targaryen, and the rightful King. Ned decided to do the right thing.

Upon exiting the Tower, he directed Dayne and his "brothers" to follow him up to King's Landing. The speed with which they marched was unmatched.

Entering the Red Keep, Ned listened neither to Robert, Jon, nor Tywin. Instead, he directed all of his men to arrest everyone in the city. Ned's army won the war, not Robert's, and Tywin was not expecting such an action. The North had come again.

Immediately Ned proclaimed Aemon the True King of the Seven Kingdoms. He immediately gained support and apologies from the Reach.

He executed the Mountain and his colleagues, and the rest of Tywin's commanders for allowing the city to be sacked. Tywin was executed without words allowed to come out of his mouth. Robert Baratheon cried and pleaded, but Ned swung Ice quickly. No one could accept the death of children for the throne. He wouldn't allow it.

Jon Arryn lost his hand and a foot for accepting the bodies of Elia's children, and he lost three quarters of his fortune. He kept his title, though, as a friend of Ned and an otherwise good man.

Ned allowed Jaime Lannister to choose a death by suicide, for he killed the Mad King, but he failed to protect Elia's children.

Ned signed a contract with Stannis. He would not be Lord of Storm's End in full capacity of an army. Instead, Stannis was allowed to take a wife until a son could be born, who would marry a Redwyne girl, and then Stannis would immediately take the Black.

Viserys and Daenerys were brought back to King's Landing, and Jon Umber took Viserys as his squire.

In all, Ned swung the executioner's sword five hundred times. He had named himself Hand and Regent to King Aemon the First. Cat stayed North for a year with their only son. Afterwards, Ned made Greatjon Umber Regent and Hand, and he went home.

When Viserys turned nine-and-ten, he became Aemon's Hand, and Greatjon at last travelled North, with a pretty Southern wife.

Aemon rose to be Aemon the Wise, a good King who ruled for seventy years, longer than any before him. His children by Daenerys became Kings after him.

Eddard Stark was forever known as the Ned the King-Maker, the only Stark before him to rule the all the Kingdoms. Well, except for Cregan Stark.