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A Ballad of the Dragon and She-Wolf

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At long last the big day had come, when Jon Snow and the Mother of Dragons would arrive at Winterfell. Seven long years had passed since Arya's favorite brother Took The Black. Before he left he rustled her wild brown hair, picked her up to give her a kiss on the forehead, then gave here a parting gift, Needle. Needle was a rapier custom ordered by Jon, crafted with her size and ability in mind, and every time she honed Needle she reminisced about him and speculated on could have been had he never left for that dreadful ice Wall.

I can't believe after all these years he is coming! Sometimes I feared we would never reunite! Arya thought to herself.

She was also eager to meet Daenerys Targaryen, the self made and self proclaimed Queen who united the Dothraki khalasars and liberated the Slave Coast. During her time in Braavos Arya had heard many tales of her exploits, often from tavern gossip and mummer's farces. Growing up Arya loved taking history lessons from Maester Luwin, and she always had a great admiration for Targaryen women. The Conqueror's sisters Visenya and Rhaenys in particular, because they were fierce warriors equal to their brother; in short everything Arya craved.

The sky was blue with few visible clouds. It was only a fortnight into the winter and there was already a half foot of snow, which greatly enhanced the brightness of the sun and made everything in sight much clearer.

Arya was surrounded by Northerners outside the walls of Winterfell, around her arm were two small evergreen wreathes she made from branches cut from the Godswood. The drums and trumpets of heralds and the blaring of bagpipes sounded and soon the procession appeared. First were the Unsullied, dark skinned pike men in blackened steel armor and lobster tailed helmets. Next came the Dothraki on horseback, they wore leather armor and blue warpaint, wielded longbows and sickle swords, and wore their black hair in long braids with silver bells that jangled with their horses' every canter.

The Dothraki! Maester Luwin told us all about them. Apparently Daenerys killed all of the Khals and all of their men follow her now. Any woman who managed to seize control of such a culture gives me hope.
Next she espied a tall and broad shouldered man with a full beard on horseback, clearly not Dothraki. He wore a helm crafted to look like a snarl dog's head and a yellow surcoat charged with three talbot dogs, he lifted his visor and looked to the crowd and she saw that a third of his face was covered in severe burn scars. Just as she recognized him gave what was possibly and attempt at a smile and rode past her.

Seven hells, how is that hateful bastard still alive?

A covered wagon appeared, and in it appeared to be the Imp and the Spider. The Imp had visited Winterfell with King Robert and his Court, right before everything in Arya's world shattered. She was eager to see him then, the notion of a grown man shorter then her was fascinating.

Following the wagon was a stunning woman who appeared to be from Sothryos, perhaps the Summer Isles. Her skin was the color of caramel and she had lush, kinky hair no Westerosi had. She wore a black leather dress like most of the procession and had a ring through her septum. Many in the crowd sneered as she passed by.

Jealous cunts! Arya had never been known for beauty as a child, that was what her big sister Sansa was known for. Growing up Sansa tormented her with cruel monikers like horse face and lumpy, those words stung like a hornet though Arya never believed herself ugly. She had once asked her father if she was and he told her she was a spitting image of her aunt Lyanna, a woman whose beauty tore the continent apart with war. Despite all that Arya never experienced jealousy, and looked down on women who let envy cloud their judgment of other women.

Finally Jon and Daenerys appeared. Jon wore a wolf pelt mantle and armor much like their late father wore, Arya noticed his breastplate had the Stark dire wolf and she smiled ear to ear knowing he was at long last seen as one of them. Daenerys wore a fuzzy white fur dress with a scarlet cravat, over her heart was a chained silver brooch with a three headed dragon, over her dress she wore a cape made of a white lion pelt with its maned head serving as a hood. The Dragon Queen was every bit as gorgeous as the songs sung about her in Braavos suggested. Daenerys rode on a beautiful white mare and Jon rode his dire wolf Ghost, Ghost had grown the size of a horse since the last time Arya saw him. In front of them was a tall knight in a Mormont surcoat, green with a black bear rampant. Flanking and tailing them were a diverse lot of knights, possibly the Queensguard.

“Jon! Jon! Over here!” Arya called out, but just as she did she heard an otherworldly roar and soon the royal procession was overcast with two large shadows. She looked up in the sky and saw Daenerys's two namesake dragons. Both soared through the air, never in her eighteen years had Arya beheld such a magnificent spectacle. Others were not so receptive, they looked at the dragons with the same distrust as they did with the Unsullied and Dothraki or the kinky haired woman.

When the dragons disappeared she shuffled through the crowds to the main courtyard, where Sansa and their brother Bran waited, along with many vassals. Sansa wore a wolf fur mantle much like Jon's and her bodice was emblazoned with her personal sigil: a dire wolf with the lower body of a trout, with a red heart in the top corner of the lozenge. Arya's sigil was identical, save for an ermine spot in place of a heart. Sansa wore her vibrant red hair loose and adorned herself with Southron jewelry once worn by their late mother. Bran wore almost solid black, with the sole exception being a silver medallion that resembled a raven's skull. On Bran's face was a blank, glossy eyed look, expressionless yet still unnerving.
Jon and Daenerys rode into the courtyard and dismounted.

“Joooooon!” Arya hollared as she dashed to her brother.

“Aryaaaaaa!” He opened his arms and lifted her off the ground the moment she was in reach.

“I've missed you so much!” Arya said, tears of joy rolling down her plump cheeks.

“So did I! Not a night goes by that I don't think about you! I've matters to attend to, meet me in the Godswood later and we can talk.” Jon said as he put her down and kissed her forehead. She handed him one of the wreathes and he proudly put it on.

“I've heard so much about you! Jon tells me you're quite the outlaw!” Daenerys said, she had a dimply, jovial smile that bared her teeth to the gums, made her purple eyes squint, and her thick eyebrows furrow. To Arya's welcome surprise they were of almost equal height.

“I never thought I'd get to meet a –” Arya started to say.

“They are not here for your entertainment, Arya!” Sansa interrupted harshly. Though the sisters had reconciled Sansa could still be icy. Daenerys seemed uncomfortable and Jon seemed upset with Sansa but not shocked. Arya handed Daenerys her wreath and quietly sidelined.

Jon hugged Sansa. “Arya did nothing wrong,” Arya could hear him whisper.

Daenerys walked up to Sansa.

“Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen,” Jon said in introduction, “my sister, Sansa Stark, the Lady of Winterfell!” Everyone glared at the foreign queen with unease.

“Thank you for inviting us into your home, Lady Stark. The North is as beautiful as your brother claimed, as are you!” Daenerys said smiling.

“Winterfell is yours, your grace!” Sansa said, though Arya doubted her sincerity.

“We don't have time for all this,” Bran said. “The Night King has your dragon, Viserion is one of them now. The Wall has fallen, the Dead march south.”

Chapter Text

All the Lords of the North gathered in the Great Hall of Winterfell. At center of the hall Jon and his foreign Queen turned lover Daenerys sat in front of the hearth. Sansa sat next to her bastard half brother, and glared at the silver haired Essosi whenever she crossed Sansa's eyes. The lovers wore the wreaths Arya gifted them, and Sansa was deeply irked by the gesture.

First Jon renounces his title as King in the North in order to be the paramour of Daenerys, the daughter of the tyrant who killed our grandfather and uncle, and the sister of the monster who raped and murdered our aunt. Now she waltzes into our home and Arya gives her a crown!

Fortunately for Sansa most of her vassals seemed to be on her side. A good majority of them seemed to look at Jon with contempt and Daenerys with unease, and none seemed to have any positive emotions. Unintelligible conversations were happened, but promptly halted once Jon and Daenerys called the meeting to order.

“Thank you all for coming under such short notice!” Sansa said in opening the meeting. “With the news that the Wall has fallen I called all our vassals to gather here at Winterfell. When will your banners be available, Lord Umber?” Sansa asked.

Lord Umber got up. He was a small boy in a mantle trimmed with grubby fox fur. “We need more horses and wagons. I would be eternally thankful should you spare any, my lady. And um, my lord and my queen.” Umber sat back down.

Outrageous! How dare my bannerman call that silver bushed cunt his queen, men really do think with their cocks!

“Ravens must be sent to Castle Black. The Wall is breached and invasion has begun, so the Night's Watch needs to come here where they can make a difference!” Jon said.

“I will get to it right now, your grace!” The Maester said and nodded, his chain rattled as he moved.

“Your grace?” Lady Mormont asked as she stood up. “But you're not, are you? We made you a King abut now I don't know what you are! What are you now? A Lord? A bed warmer?”

Thank you Lyanna! Sansa thought, Lyanna articulated what Sansa would dare not utter.

“It doesn't matter anymore!” Jon said dismissively.

“Doesn't matter? We made you King! I persuaded my peers to do so!” The young Lady said, with loud frustration in her voice. Jon stood up.

“Don't think I don't appreciate that, because I do. You did something I can never repay, but when I went south it was because we needed allies. So I found allies and I was given an ultimatum, keep my crown and go home empty handed, or bend the knee in order to protect the North. It wasn't an easy decision, but I elected to swallow my pride to protect the North!” Jon said.
Many Lords booed or otherwise showed disapproval. Sansa grinned at the sight of it.

“Treason!” Some yelled.

“Sell out!” Yelled others.

Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf who was Sansa's annulled husband got up.

“Nobody has done more to save us from the Army of the Dead than Jon Snow! If any of us survive the War to Come they will have him to thank. He risked life and limb in order to prove to fellow monarchs that the Army of the Dead is real, and he won over the leader of quite possibly the greatest army the world has ever seen. The Dothraki are the greatest cavalry in the world, the Unsullied are the greatest infantry, and Daenerys commands them both and two full grown dragons! Yara Greyjoy commands half the greatest navy and she swore fealty to Daenerys. Though Yara is held captive by my sister hope remains she will be rescued and come to our aide. Ellaria Sand too bent the knee to Daenerys, and if she too is rescued than the forces of Dorne will come with her. Jon is no gambling man, but he has the good sense to side with the winning team!” Tyrion said with passion.

What's wrong with Tyrion? Did Daenerys brainwash him too?

“Outrageous! Why should we listen a fucking Lannister?” A voice asked.

“I know we haven't always been friends, I understand why you are skeptical. However now is not the time for politics or family drama. Now is the time to cast aside our differences to defeat a force that will kill us all!” Tyrion answered.

“My I ask how we're supposed to feed 'quite possibly the greatest army the world has ever seen'? When stockpiling food to last through a long winter I didn't anticipate food for thousands of savages and eunuchs, let alone two dragons! What do dragons eat anyway?” Sansa asked.

“Anything that moves!” Daenerys answered coldly with a smug smile.

Ser Davos Seaworth got up.

“My lady, if I may say a word?” The gray bearded knight asked.

“Proceed,” Sansa answered.

“I understand your concern about rations for all of us, its an important thing to account for. However you'll have to remember our forces don't plan on being your host for very long. Once the Night King is defeated and the survivors have regained their strength they're going to be marching south to fight Cersei. Perhaps Daenerys can reimburse your stocks for whatever food we have eaten, I have connections in Essos who could deliver some if need be. Assuming we aren't all fighting side by side in the Army of the Dead at that point, of course.” Said Davos.

He says my concerns are valid, but he doesn't realize what I truly want is for that fat assed whore to go back to Meereen.

“Thank you, Ser. Your generosity is admirable!” Sansa replied.

Davos sat back down.

The meeting dragged on for an hour, with almost ever lord and lady further validating Sansa's anxiety towards the Dragon Queen. When the meeting was adjured Daenerys went to her guest chambers while Jon walked outside to pray in the Godswood. Soon the only other person in the Great Hall was Brienne, the blonde giantess who served as her retainer.

“What do you think about Daenerys?” Asked Sansa.

“I love seeing any woman in a position of power but I'm honestly not sure what to think of her individually, my lady, but I think you've been very rude to her!” Brienne answered.

You too, Brienne? Seven Hells you can be a lackwit

“I never invited her, but she marches into my household anyway and I'm the one being rude? You know how asinine that sounds, Brienne?” Sansa said.

“It's not my place to persuade you, I'm a soldier, not an orator. You asked for my opinion and you know I would never lie to you, my lady, and it is my opinion that you have been a rude host.” Said Brienne sternly.

“Do you have any other issues with my behavior?” Sansa asked.

“As a matter of fact I do. I was horrified with how you treated your sister. Arya hadn't seen Jon in seven years and you dare to tell her she can't take more then a few minutes to greet him? That is probably the happiest moment she's had since she was eleven, but you decided to cut it short! I've gotten to know her fairly well these past few fortnights and she had has made it clear she loves Jon more than anyone in the world.” Brienne responded, she sounded even more agitated.

How can she love Jon more than me? I'm her full sister!

Chapter Text

The meeting at the Great Hall was a disaster. Sansa appeared jealous of Daenerys, or perhaps merely distrusting. Of all the lords and ladies only Lord Umber, a lad of maybe ten, seemed to give any support or respect. Even Lady Mormont seemed skeptical at best, and it was her fiery speech that persuaded her peers to crown Jon in the first place. Jon never wanted to be a King, only to become a legitimized Stark. Knighthood was not an option unless he proved himself in battle, as he did not worship the Seven. Both possibilities ended when he Took the Black. Regardless, being crowned King in the North was a profound honor to Jon and his brief reign had the same vigilance of his slightly longer tenure as Lord Commander.
Once the meeting adjourned Jon walked to the Godswood.

Last time I prayed here was with father and Robb. Or was it with Arya? Gods, I can't even recall anymore. Makes no difference, all that matters is Arya will be here soon.

The Godswood sprawled over five acres and had trees of many species, most notably ironwood, soldier pines, and sentinels. Now the treetops were capped with the winter's first snows, but the trees were so tall that hardly any snow was to be found on the rest of them or on the ground, which made the Godswood a sanctuary from winter in addition to civilization.

Jon had always been prone to sorrow and loneliness, something walks in the Godswood alleviated better than anything else. Being alone with the trees gave him a place to think clearly, and even better somewhere nobody could see his tears. Sometimes Arya would insist on coming, Jon never turned her away no matter how much he wanted solitude. She too had been an outcast, even though her name was Stark, and she never failed to stand up for Jon even if it meant resorting to drastic measures he disapproved of.

Eventually Jon reached the the center of the Godswood, where the Heart Tree stood in front of a pond of onyx black water. Like any weirwood its leaves were still a healthy red even in winter. Jon gazed at the queer and bleeding face carved into the trunk and started to think about what his father would advise him to do in his current predicament. The trunk split into several thick and sinuous branches the spiraled out like the tentacles of a kraken.

How would he feel about me bending the knee? Would he approve of Daenerys as a daughter by law? He always taught us not to judge a child by their parents actions, so no doubt he would forgive her crime of being born a Targaryen.

“I'm here!” He heard Arya's voice say joyfully. He turned around and she was standing right behind him.

“I didn't even here you! When did you get so sneaky?” Jon asked.

“I've had some good lessons!” Arya said wryly.

Without hesitation Jon picked her up and hugged her until her back crackled.

“I missed when you did that!” She said.

“And I missed you!” Jon said as he set her down, then he rustled her hair and kissed her forehead. “How's Needle?” He asked.

Arya unsheathed Needle and swiftly cleaved an airborne dragonfly in half.
“Good.” She answered.

“I hope you haven't had to use it on anything bigger than a dragonfly!” Jon said and laughed nervously.
“I have. Several times.”

Gods I hope it was in self defense. What did father's death and the War of the Five Kings do to her? She seems the same at least.

“Well then I'm really glad I had it made for you. It's better to have a tool you never use than to need one you lack. And thanks for the wreaths, Dany told me to tell you that was very sweet of you. She also told me she would love for you and Sansa to visit her quarters tonight for some mulled wine and refreshments!”

“I'd love to! But I don't think Sansa will though, unless there is a hogshead of lemon cake.” Arya said and rolled her eyes.

I knew something was up with Sansa!

“Well please spread the message to Sansa anyway. Dany wants to know both of you, and she might be hurt if one of you don't come. Opening up with people doesn't come easy to her and her only friend here is her adviser Missandei.”

“The really pretty Summer Islander with the curly hair?” Arya asked.

“Yes, her. She's been Dany's closest friend ever since Dany freed her in Astapor, but I think it's important Dany makes friends here as well.”

“I've wanted to meet the Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons for a few years now. I heard about her when I was with the Hound and even more in Braavos. I've always been fascinated with Targaryen women and its thrilling to see a woman with so much power. Even if she is a right proper Lady!”

“What were you doing in Braavos? Decided to rob the Iron Bank?” Jon joked.

“My water dancing instructor in King's Landing was from there, I went there for more combat training.” Arya said dismissively.

“So you were with the Hound? Joffrey's thug who murdered your friend?” Jon knew the Hound and was well aware he had become an honorable man, but it astonished him to think of Arya spending any time with him.

“Not by choice! He kidnapped me, he wanted to take me to Robb and our mother to sell me for ransom. By the time we reached them, well you know.”

Mention of Robb and Catelyn brought a barrage of emotions to Jon. He regretted Taking the Black the moment he heard Robb crowned himself King in the North, and wished he could have fought by his side much as Orys did with Aegon three centuries earlier. After the Red Wedding Jon realized he would have been killed as well, but still thought maybe he could have saved his brother. Catelyn was another matter entirely. She hated Jon, despite forgiving Ned for his infidelity. Robb had always assured Jon either he or Ned would legitimize him once Catelyn was dead. Despite this Jon never wished any harm on Catelyn, because he would never wish his half siblings to lose their mother. Being motherless distressed Jon more than anything else, so he was glad they had a mother.

“You sound awfully calm about that!” Jon said.

“The Hound taught me how to survive and how to kill. I would have been raped or killed if it wasn't for him. I think he has a soft spot for me, as strange as that sounds.” Said Arya.

“He was in the expedition north of the Wall to capture a wight. Got pretty annoyed with one of my friends but that friend can be a little too talkative. I think deep down inside he's a good man, and no one could question he's a brave and honest one. Next time I see him I will thank him for everything he did for you, even if he had ill intentions.” Said Jon.

“I thought Brienne of Tarth killed him. She wanted me to go with her. The Hound did too, that was his 'last wish.' He said he had taught me everything he knew and she was clearly a better fighter, and all I hoped to become. I wish I would have listened to them, then I could have seen you the same time as Sansa. I do train with Brienne now and she's the only woman I've met I can relate to. I could have helped you defeat Ramsey.” Arya said and hung her head.

“I wish I could have seen you earlier and that you could have been Brienne's squire, but I'm glad you weren't around before Ramsey was dead. I've seen what he did to people, I wouldn't want there to be any risk of him capturing you! I try to believe all humans are born good or at least neutral, but Ramsey made me seriously question that.” Jon said as he knelt to hug her.

Big tears trickled down her round face, she started to sob.

“I don't know everything you've been through, nor do I know what you did to survive. Frankly I don't care to know, but whatever it was please understand I would never judge you for it. You were always there for me growing up, I know it must have been hard knowing you couldn't for so long. Just realize that its not your fault! There were times I regretted Taking the Black, I even tried to desert after father died, but I've come to recognize that I wouldn't have been able to get where I am today if I never joined. Everything you went through will pay off, trust me. I wouldn't have made peace with the Free Folk, I wouldn't have had their and the Watch's assistance with defeating the Boltons, and I wouldn't have met Daenerys. ” Jon said and wiped away her tears with his finger. With his other hand her rubbed her cloaked back to sooth her.

“You're right Jon. I guess I've been used to being strong for so long I don't know how to be anything else.” She said, then wiped the snot from her nose with her sleeve.

“Crying is okay, its natural. Doesn't mean you aren't strong. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.” Jon said.

“Is Daenerys your first?”

“My first what?”

“Love, you silly head!”

“No! There was another first. A feisty ginger girl named Ygritte, one of the best archers I've ever seen. She helped me see the world in a different way. I got over being a bastard because of her, she told me there's no sense in being ashamed of something you had no say in. The Freefolk are different, they don't give two shits who your parents were or what your name is. All they care about is your actions and character. Then she died. I still think about her from time to time, often at the worst of times. I even turned down a stunning Fire Priestess because I wasn't over Ygritte yet. Not sure if I quite am now, maybe I never will be.”

“You're with Daenerys now, so I think you're moving on just fine. It is official though, right?”

Jon blushed. “I have laid with her if that's what you're asking!”

“That's not what I meant, but I suppose it does answer it. Damn boy, look at you! Attracting ladies from all over the Known World! The Hound and I had a run in with a Fire Priestess and I saw a few in Braavos, they don't ordain just any woman!” Arya said, she gave a big smile.

“I suppose you're right about that,” Jon said then laughed, “have you gotten any suitors yet? Any lads that catch your fancy?”

“No. Not yet. It will happen when it happens. I'm not in a hurry.” Arya shrugged.

“I suppose I'll get over Ygritte in due time. Truth be told I can take years to get over something. Seven Hells I still grieve over father! Before I left for the Wall he told me next time we spoke he'd tell us who my mother was, now he's dead and I'll never know the truth!” Jon said sobbingly. Arya brushed away his tears.

“I can't fathom the pain of not knowing who my own mother was. Whether your mother was a Dornish lord's daughter or a Fleabottom whore makes no difference to me. We don't have the same name, but I'm glad we have the same blood.”

“That means the world to me, but it doesn't change the fact that he's dead.”

“Look into my eyes!” Arya said as she put her hands on his shoulders.

Jon gazed into her gray doe eyes.

What does she expect me to see?

“I don't see anything, just your irises and my reflection!”

“Look harder,” she whispered.

Jon stared back into her eyes, alternating between his reflection and her face. Then he was reminded how greatly the two resembled one another, and how both in turn took after Ned.

“You see? He lives in us. Never forget who you are!”

Chapter Text

Cersei stood on the docks of King's Landing in full regalia. She wore her favorite winter dress, a high collared number trimmed with gold braid, on her shoulders were epaulets that resembled maned lion's heads she convinced made her look like the military leader the people so desperately needed, on her chest were her personal sigil: a lozenge half red and half gold, a gold lioness on the red half and a black stag on the gold half. Her regalia even included a ceremonial sword, it was a lightweight saber with an ivory lion's head pommel designed for being easy to carry and impressive to look at. The Golden Company was expected to land that day and she needed to impress.

She had slept well past noon, as she often did when there were no pressing matters. Most nights were spent sipping wine and sobbing about the loss of her brother Jaime. He wasn't dead, but he had left her to fight for the Dragon Queen and that wounded her deeply. Much like her late husband, Cersei liked the idea of being the monarch far more than actually being the monarch.

Surrounding her were the Queensguard, wearing blackened armor and gaunt helmets she personally selected to be more intimidating towards the smallfolk. The leader of them was Ser Gregor Clegane, a brute over seven feet tall who had been killed and revived by Qyburn, a mercenary alchemist and sorcerer who Cersei made her Hand of the Queen.

“I have most awful news, your grace,” Qyburn said as he approached her on the dock, “the Dead have breached the Wall, the Night King's invasion has officially begun!”

That is the best news I've gotten since Olenna died! Let the North and the Dead fight, whoever wins will be greatly weakened when they come south for me.

“Good!” Cersei said calmly. “Now go and deliver that business proposition I wrote up!”

“As you wish,” Qyburn said bowing, he seemed unnerved.

A horn sounded. The kraken sails of the Iron Fleet materialized, bringing with them the Golden Company. Their banners were a bloody red adorned with golden skulls, even the poles were adorned with actual gilded skulls, perhaps of their enemies. Euron's flagship was the first to dock, and Euron and the Captain of the Golden Company got off to meet Cersei.

Parading around skulls of the dead like that is disgusting.

“You wanted me to bring more troops, and here they are!” Euron said.

“Good day, your Grace. My name is Harry Strickland, and I am the current Captain and General of the Golden Company.” The captain said. He wore the company collars except for a patch over his heart of his surcoat which bore the House Strickland sigil: a black shield with a white cross through it and a white scallop shell in each corner. On his sword was a pommel shaped like a skull and the hilt was made to resemble a limb bone.

They sure love their skeletons! Cersei thought as the glanced at his equipment.

“I've been told the Golden Company has elephants!” Cersei said impatiently.

“You've been told correctly!” Harry replied proudly.

“I'm glad to hear it! If you came all this way without elephants then I would have no choice but to demand a full refund and send you back. My father hired the Brave Companions years ago, I'm sure he would have done the same had they not brought their zebras.” Cersei said relieved.

“They are magnificent beasts! I make sure we have at least a few no matter how small a job, they crush even fully armored knights like a boot on a manticore! As a matter of fact you can see some being led on shore right now!” Harry said and pointed to a ship unloading the beasts. Some towered over even the Mountain while many more were perhaps the size of a large draft horse or bull. The Iron Fleet ships had knights coming off of them while swan ships had Summer Islanders clad in gold rings and feather cloaks.

“I've been fascinated with elephants since I was a girl, my father went through great but fruitless effort to buy me a live one for my tenth name day. I got a toy herd carved from goldenheart instead, and a pony. So I'm thrilled to finally see them in the flesh. Besides a good portion of Daenerys's army consists of Wildlings, I doubt any of them have even heard of elephants. Their clubs and flint spears will be useless against elephants, assuming they don't shit their loincloths and pass out first!” Cersei said chuckling.

“I've fought plenty of Wildlings,” Euron said, “they might not have the latest weapons but they fight tooth and nail! They've put up a fight against the Watch for a half a million years, still ain't extinct. Makes capturing them all the more rewarding!”

“Did I ask for your opinion?” Cersei asked.

“Nah, but you never said I had to bite my tongue!” Euron said shrugging.

“You certainly are a confident one, your majesty. I like that. Regardless on whether or not the Wildlings can fight, the Targaryen forces do contain the entirety of the Dothraki and Unsullied and both make me jealous with their battle prowess. Both have certainly seen elephants. The mercenary business has been rather dull since those two left Essos, so it is an honor to be hopefully be the last company that will fight them. If we fail then at least we were defeated by worthy opponents.” Harry said.

“You won't fail!” Cersei said.

“We never have in a failed a contract in the nearly hundred years we've been in business! It's been a pleasure, your grace, but if you'll excuse me I have a camp to set up!”

 

Chapter Text

The Hand of the Queen scurried over to the Street of Silk, King's Landing's red light district. In his hand he carried a large leather valise. Each brothel was more costly and fancy than the ones preceding it, the ones at the beginning were little more than wine sinks with whores, while those towards the end were establishments that could rival a merchant's manse. Whores in various states of undress loitered from balconies and between the buildings soliciting customers.

“Hello love! Fancy a tumble?” A whore asked from a balcony.

“Not now!” Qyburn said dismissively, without even looking up at her.

Gods willing I'll open my own establishment soon!

At the very end of the Street of Silk was Madame Chataya's, the favored whorehouse of such luminaries as King Robert, Tyrion Lannister, Oberyn Martel, and if rumors proved true, of the latter's paramour Ellaria Sand as well. Madame Chataya's was far from the largest brothel; it was a demure two stories tall, the lower one was made of black basalt was the upper was constructed with goldenheart wood. The windows were stained glass, depicting various sexual positions. From one of the corners rose a tall stone turret topped with an onion dome.

No way could I afford such fine materials, of course my labor with be dirt cheap.

Qyburn walked inside and instantly his nostrils were filled with the aroma of incense and perfume. A band consisting of a harpist, flautist, and drummer played a classy sounding but surprisingly ribald ballad about a pirate queen named Bluebush. Chataya's Girls were were diverse in coloration and body type, all exceptionally beautiful and clad in transparent silk gowns with beaded belts.

On the floor was a risque mosaic portraying two nude women with their legs entwined in the act of love. An ornate screen from Myr bordered the common room and over the ceiling hung a lamp resembling an astrolabe of rose gold and red stained glass.

“You again? What do you want? If you're here to know if any of my girls died since the last time you asked I'm glad to inform you no and all are in vibrant health. I have a Maester give them weekly checkups and I screen all prospective customers to ensure they stay that way. Try one of Lord Baelish's establishments, I'm sure one has died of pox or the clap recently!” Chataya said in her smooth Summer Isles accent. She was a gorgeous woman with skin like ebony, eyes like sandlewood, and like most Summer Islanders had a lush head of kinky hair.

“I'm not one to ask the same question twice of the same person, but I have heard that Ser Bronn of the Blackwater is currently here, and I have royal business with him.” Qyburn said, taking discrete glances at Chataya's figure.

She was tall and built like an hourglass. Her breasts were the size of grapefruits and unencumbered by a brassiere, he could see her teats straight through her gown. Another glance down gave him a glimpse of her cunt. The gold color of her gown contrasted brilliantly with her dark skin, the shoulders were enhanced with parrot feathers and the skirt had two side slits which revealed her long, toned legs. Besides the gown she wore large hoop earrings, a septum ring, a bangle, an anklet, a necklace, and many rings on her fingers and toes; all of which are made of jade and carved with motifs that appeared to be from Yi Ti.

A full set of Yi Tish jewelry must be exceedingly difficult and costly to acquire. Chataya certainly spares no expense on anything. A damn shame I'm here on royal business. Perhaps I'll pay her visit one of these days. Those toes were made for sucking!

“He's in the turret! Follow me!” Chataya said than turned around, her jade jewelry clinking as she walked. Qyburn stared at her buttocks, which were the size and shape of ripe melons and could be faintly seen through her skirt.

When they reached the top of the turret Chataya knocked and announced the Hand of the Queen was with her on official business. Once her announcement was made she returned downstairs to entertain her patrons.

Qyburn opened the door and found Ser Bronn laying naked on a satin canopied bed, surrounded by three plump whores with tits and ass that put Chataya's to shame though they were too heavy for Qyburn's liking.

These girls look like they will all survive the winter, though I reckon their excess flesh will not. A man who favors such women is wise to enjoy them now when winter is still young.

“What the fuck do you want, hedge wizard?” Bronn said irritably y as he sat up and raised his hands in the air.

“I want many things, but I am here to because the Queen needs your services!”

“Go on!” Bronn said as he got off the bed and stood up, his member was starting to go back down. He poured two glasses of brandy from a pear shaped crystal decanter on the nightstand. The three whores stayed on the bed and started necking and fondling each other.

“Queen Cersei wants you to fulfill a contract for her!” Qyburn answered.

“I ain't a mercenary no more, I'm an anointed knight now! Not a landed knight yet sadly. Want some brandy? This is some serious gourmet shit, its made from Tyroshi pears!” Bronn said as he handed Qyburn a glass.

He is certainly anointed with the Lysene perfume those whores are wearing.

“I appreciate your offer but no, today is a busy day and I need to be sober. When I'm done with you I'm negotiating a clandestine prisoner exchange.” Qyburn replied politely but firmly.

“Well no sense letting such a fine drink go to waste! Here you go ladies!” Bronn said then poured it all over the whores on the bed, they cheered him on as he did and then they proceeded to lick it off each other and giggle obnoxiously.

Gods this so called anointed knight is utterly amoral and devoid of inhibitions! No way he'll turn down this job!

“Funny you should mention not being a landed knight, Cersei plans to pay you with your own keep!” Said the Hand.

“Well shit wizard, that was all you had to say!” Bronn said then clapped his hands.

“You must ride North to Winterfell, where you will meet the Queen's brothers. As I'm sure you know the Queen's relationships with her brothers are well, complicated.”

“That's an awfully nice way of saying 'she fucking despises one brother because he's a dwarf and loves her other brother to such an unnatural degree she fucks him' ain't it?” Bronn interrupted and let out a hearty laugh. He took a drink of his brandy.

Cersei wasn't joking, he is a blunt one.

“Well yes, however she despises both of them now. When Tyrion killed their father he fled to Essos and became the hand of the quote unquote Dragon Queen. After a long, dull, and frankly waste of a meeting with the Targaryen pretender Cersei agreed to send Lannister forces North to fight the Army of the Dead. However it was a bluff, and that greatly outraged Jaime. Jaime tried to talk her into keeping her word, but when she refused he stormed out on her and rode to Winterfell. Cersei wants you to kill both of them, using this!” Qyburn said as he pulled a crossbow out of his valise.

“Ain't this King Joffrey's favorite toy? That inbred little cunt loved pointing it at anyone who inconvenienced him!” Bronn said as he picked up the crossbow.

“Why yes it is. Not only that, it's also the very weapon Tyrion used to murder Lord Tywin on the privy. Cersei has quite an appetite for poetic justice. Will you do it?” Qyburn asked.

“If it means getting a castle then yes! Both of those blond shits have been promising me a castle for seven years, should've bought me one sooner!” Bronn said and took another drink.

“Then it is settled. It's a long ride to Winterfell, I'd recommend beginning the trip once you are done with your ladies. Have fun and safe travels to you!”

 

Chapter Text

Foamy waves crashed onto the beach near King's Landing, seagulls flew overhead cawing loudly and sea lions could be heard from a distance. It was dusk, and the sky was in a half dozen hues of pink. Theon Greyjoy got out of his rowboat and walked over to the strange old man who was waiting for him. The old man carried a torch and wore a shabby gray robe with a chain that had links of black iron, bronze, silver, and Valryian steel among other metals.

I don't think he's a real Maester, chain or no chain. A Hand of the Kin badge? How did a phony maester end up with such a high position?

“Admiring my chain, are you? Its actually the second once I've forged, to replace my original when the Citadel stripped me of it. My name is Qyburn!”

“And I'm Theon, thank you for meeting with me!”

“Oh no! Thank you for arranging this exchange. The balance of power is rather lopsided at the moment. Cersei has all the Lannister forces and just received the entire Golden Company, while her rival Daenerys Targaryen will likely lose most of her admittedly impressive army to the Night King and she has zero political support beyond her paramour. Your sister and Ellaria Sand are both known supporters of Daenerys and releasing them will help balance the power dynamic especially with a good chunk of the Iron Fleet and the forces of Dorne, which means this war can last even longer. Assuming the Army of the Dead doesn't take us all, of course.” Qyburn said calmly.

What is wrong with this cunt? Why would he release two enemies of his Queen? Why does he want the war to be prolonged?

“I have fulfilled my side of the bargain, one barrel of kraken's ink, and another of leviathan oil!” Theon said, pointing to the two barrels in his boat.

“Most excellent, both substances have fascinating qualities and are criminally understudied. I look forward to doing experiments with them, at very least I will have some quality alchemical bases for potions and poisons for some time.” Qyburn said.

“Why are you helping me? What would you want the war to last?” Theon asked.

“Because wars bring crisis, and crises in turn bring opportunity. Queen Cersei prizes my advice and pays handsomely for my military designs and research. During a time of peace she may not be so eager to seek my counsel, and certainly wouldn't be so generous a patron.” Qyburn answered.

“But what if she catches you or Daenerys takes the Iron Throne?”

“Good question. I have considered both, and those are risks I am willing to take. Now come with me, I'll lead you to the dungeons. Don't worry about the barrels, I have assistants who will take them back to my laboratory.” Qyburn said, then picked up the skirt of his robes a few inches and started heading towards a smuggler's cave.

Qyburn is so calm for a madman! I should be thankful for his madness, a sane man wouldn't free such valuable prisoners for a sea creature's bodily fluids.

Once in the cave Qyburn lit a second torch for Theon and led him deeper down. Eventually the tunnel reached a barricade with a door in the middle that had a dial cypher. Qyburn dialed the correct combination and the door was unlocked. Cells were carved into the tunnel's walls, with barred fences that exposed the manacled prisoners. The sights and smells reminded Theon painfully of Dreadfort's dungeons, and all of the torment he suffered at the hands of Ramsey Bolton. Just when Theon thought he was beginning to move on from that ordeal he was reminded of it, much as he was whenever he had to piss or change his pants. Before reaching King's Landing Theon had shaved to minimize chance of being recognized, and he just now realized he would never need to shave again.

From a distance Theon could hear an unpleasant shriek. With every pace it grew louder and more shrill. “Niiiiiiiii! Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!”

“Ugh! What is that wretched sound?!” Theon asked as he plugged his ears.

“That's just Hollering Hugh! He's a project of mine! I went into a tavern and slipped a potion I had just concocted into a random stein of ale, so I could see its effects take hold on an unsuspecting subject. A few minutes after drinking it he started sweating like a lord hiding a whore under his bed from his wife! Got so hot he disrobed and started throwing stuff at people! So he was arrested, and I've been observing him in his cell ever since. He firmly believes chanting 'Ni' will protect him from astral demons! He's a landed knight, I thought surely his House would pay his bail but they haven't. Probably a huge embarrassment to them. Now that I have discovered a way to make a sane person mad I am looking for a way to cure madness. Will be most useful since I fear Cersei could very well become as mad as Joffrey or Aerys! There is also a distinct possibility he indeed is seeing demons or some other type of astral entity, which opens up a literal new world of research potential.” Qyburn said.

This freak is no better than Ramsey. Perhaps Ramsey is better because he never insisted what he did was in the name of science or magic.

Eventually the chants faded away. Theon unplugged his ears and breathed a sigh of relief. He was still dangerously close to suffering painful flashbacks, but the anticipation of being reunited with his sister helped him avoid that.

“Ah here she is!” Qyburn said as he unlocked Yara's cell.

“Theon? Is it really you?” Yara asked.

“Yes, Yara! It's me!” Theon said cheerfully.

Yara stood up and hugged him firmly. Her once shoulder length hair had grown noticeably. She looked grubby, she wore trousers and a sleeveless shirt both made of sackcloth. On her arms Theon noticed she had many tattoos, both forearms had ink depicting unnatural relations between woman and mermaid, which made Theon painfully aware of what was missing from him.

“Your brother reached out to me through a few intermediaries and we made a deal I would release you and Ellaria Sand in exchange for some materials for academic research. Here is the key to her cell, just keep walking down the tunnel. Their aren't any other Salty Dornish women locked up in here so she should be unmistakable. I will be leaving now. Ellaria would probably shank me if we crossed paths!” Qyburn said then turned around and scurried off.

“Fuck that cunt irks me! Takes a lot to unsettle me, I've seen so much crazy shit!” Yara said once she was certain Qyburn was no longer within earshot.

“You have no idea!” Theon said, they started walking to search for Ellaria's cell.

“I was just waiting for a gaoler to show up to my cell and tell me Cersei wanted my head at dawn! I'll never be able to repay you for this. One of her thugs was sent to flog me for information, I'd make some bullshit up once I got bored of it.” Yara said.

“There is no need to repay, you did everything in your power to rescue me from Ramsey even though father forbade you!” Said Theon.

“Difference is I fucking failed you!” Yara laughed.

“But I jumped overboard when Euron boarded our ship, its my fault you were captured.” Theon said and hung his head.

“Guess we're even then!” Said Yara.

“Yara! I thought you'd never pay me a visit!” A sultry accent said. The siblings stopped and saw it was Ellaria. She still wore the very dress she wore when she was captured, it was tattered and disheveled. Her hands were bound in shackles coming from the ceiling.

“I didn't expect to either!” Yara quipped as she unlocked the door and freed Ellaria.

“You're good with chains! I love that!” Ellaria said lustily then planted a kiss on Yara. They squeezed each other's asses and took turn pressing their faces into the others' tits.

I knew this would happen!

“Come, we need to get going so we can escape before a gaoler catches us! We need to reach the docks!” Theon said urgently.

“What exactly to do plan on doing once we reach the docks?” Yara asked as they started hurrying to the exit.

“I found some crewmen still loyal to you, they will help us take back your portion of the Iron Fleet!” Theon replied.

“Good work brother. I'm not thrilled you didn't pay the Iron Price to free me, but perhaps its better you didn't!” Yara said.

“Getting to see you again is worth any payment!” Ellaria said to Yara.

Yara laughed. “You almost flatter me!”

“Pretty soon you'll both be free!”

They passed Hollering Hugh, who threw a glob of shit at them and narrowly missed.

“Gods the gaoler needs to sell that mad cunt to Euron, have him join the Silence!” Yara said only half jokingly.

“I looooove a screamer!” Ellaria moaned.

“So do I! Just not a raving lunatic!” Said Yara.

“Qyburn made him go mad! He's an experiment subject!” Theon told them.

“Fuck that's sick! Almost reminds me of – never mind, no need to bring him up.” Yara said.

“Being an experiment subject is a dream of mine!” Said Ellaria.

Is everything a crass joke to Ellaria? Why does Yara want to fuck her so badly? Maybe I'm just jealous she can still fuck at all.

Eventually they reached the outside of the cave, where several Ironborn were waiting for them, all fully armed and carrying torches. All of the reclaimed ships were anchored on the beach. One of them stepped forward and handed Yara a large pink conch shell. Yara grabbed the conch.

“Where do you want us to take you?” The crewman asked Yara.

“First I need you to take us to Ichthys Cove, we need to lay low for a while. Then we will head down to Dorne to drop Ellaria off, finally go back home and I will take back the Seastone Chair. Euron has the rest of the Iron Fleet here in King's Landing, so taking it back should be a breeze. Once I'm wearing the Driftwood Crown and I'm Lady Reaper of Pyke I will wait for Daenerys to give her orders, and I'll make them so.” Answered Yara. Ichthys Cove was Yara's secret hideout. Theon had never been there, but had heard it was quite cozy for such a place.

“Yara, would it be alright if I took one of the ships and some of the crew to Winterfell? I wish to undo my wrongs to the Starks, and fight for them against the Night King.” Theon asked.

“My dear brother of course it is! Relay the message that you've freed me and Ellaria, you should get to Winterfell before we reach Sunspear!”

“Thank you so much, Yara!” Theon said gratefully.

“And thanks for everything, brother!” Yara said then turned her eyes to Ellaria. “Wait till you see Ichthys Cove. I've got a little manse built there, we'll be able to take a good bath and put on some fresh clothes!”

“And cut our nails!” Ellaria purred making a scratching gesture.

Yara hugged Theon and kissed his forehead. “I wish you good fortune Theon. Go make the Iron Islands proud! May the Drowned God watch over you!”

“And may he watch over you!” Theon replied.

“Alright you dogs, let's get on board! What is dead may never die!” Yara shouted to the crew, then blew her conch with all her breath.

“What is dead may never die!” The crew echoed in unison.

Chapter Text

am had sat out the Great Hall meeting, he felt he had little to contribute and that people would write him off as biased due to being Jon's friend. Admittedly, Sam was biased. However after learning the truth about Jon's identity Sam felt uneasy around Jon. Knowing Jon was no Northern bastard but a trueborn Targaryen, born in Dorne of all places, and rightful heir to the Iron Throne changed the way Sam felt about him. Sam didn't give two shits when he believed Jon was a bastard and was happy for him to learn the truth, but it still disturbed Sam to realize that his best friend's entire identity was built around a lie.

“Why didn't you go to the meeting Sam?” Gilly asked. She was breastfeeding Little Sam in a rocking chair.

Seven hells! How do I explain this to her?

“I hate meetings, rather dull if you ask me.” Sam said and shrugged, half truthfully. Gilly actually discovered that Rhaegar and Lyanna, Jon's biological parents, had been married when she was glossing through a Septon's diary; but she didn't understand why that meant anything. She was prone to being confused by Southron customs and Sam avoided that whenever he could.

“I thought you'd be happy for Jon! I still don't understand why you Southroners care whether your parents are married or not, but I can tell Jon is upset because he thinks his parents aren't. Why haven't you told him?” Asked Gilley. She put away her tit and got the other one out for Little Sam to resume eating.

“Because finding out everything you know about yourself is wrong can be very upsetting, so I need to wait for the right time to tell Jon.” Sam replied.

“Even if it's good news? I wish Craster wasn't my real father, I'd be so happy if I found out my father was someone else. Anyone else!” Gilley said.

Sam looked glanced outside their window, he saw Jon and Daenerys walking over to Drogon and Rhaegal.

Gods how who are we going to tell Little Sam is his father? Me or Craster? If say I am then he will be crushed if he learns his true father was also his grandfather, but I don't think he'd want to grow up knowing the truth.

“Sometimes I wish my father was somebody else as well, but he is a cruel man as was yours. Jon loved Ned, idolizes him truly! Everyone loved Ned, he was a devoted Lord and father. Jon is very proud believing he is Ned's son, I fear he might be upset to learn that Ned was his uncle. Being Ned's nephew just wouldn't be the same I suppose. His true father was a wonderful man as well, but most people believe he was a monster.” Sam said.

“It shouldn't matter whether Ned got his mother pregnant or not. What matter is that Ned raised him to be the man he is today, and he's a good man.” Said Gilley.

“You're very right about about that Gilley. But you have to realize Jon suffers from melancholy. Always has as far as I know, certainly for as long as I've known him.” Said Sam.

“Melancholy? What's that? Some kind of fruit?” Gilley asked.

“No, you're thinking of melons. Melancholy is where you get a feeling of being sad all the time, and are plagued by sad thoughts. Sometimes it has a clear cause, but usually it just shows up like an unwanted guest.” Sam answered.

“I didn't know there was a word for that, but you're right. Jon does have melancholy. I can see it him, he has sad eyes!” Gilley said. Little Sam had fallen asleep, Gilley put her tit away and started burping him.

“That he does! I've been trying to pull him out of it for seven years now.” Sam said. Once again he looked outside the window, he saw a group of men on ponies and a wagon with several crates on it near the main gate.

Are those lizard lions and shadow cats? He's here!”

“Sorry Gilley but I have to go now! I'll be back for supper, goodbye!”

“Goodbye.”

They kissed on the lips and Sam gave Little Sam a peck on his chubby cheek. Then Sam rushed out of their dormitory and down the stairs as fast as he could. When he reached the courtyard he saw a a short man, no more than five feet tall if that, with a full beard and dreaded hair tied up in a bundle. The man wore a tunic made of shadow cat skin that left a shoulder and pec bare, a belt and sandals of lizard lion leather, and around his neck was a copper torque shaped to look like a lizard lion biting its own tail.

That's the House Reed sigil! It really is him!

“Samwell Tarly, I presume?” The short man asked.

“It is he. And you must be Lord Howland Reed!” Sam responded, then glanced to the shadow cats and lizard lions in his company.

“You're funny! What gave it away? This necklace or the fact I'm only taller than the Imp? Don't mind them! They're wearing muzzles and are trained to only bite when their masters are under attack, my people are much more in tune with beasts than most Westerosi.” Howland said.

“Oh I'm not afraid of them. Well maybe I am, a little. There are shadow cats north of the Wall but I've never seen one, and I've not seen a lizard lion either. We don't have lizard lions in the Reach!” Sam admitted.

Most of Howland's party were fellow Crannogmen, with only one taller than him standing at a maybe five foot three. However Sam noticed there was another in his party that was clearly not a Crannogman. He was over a foot taller than Howland and appeared to be a Summer Islander but he had lighter skin and his hair had looser curls than any of the few Sam had seen before. Certainly dressed like one with a green feather cloak and carrying a goldenheart bow.

“This is my ward, Kulungu Waters.” Howland said introducing the Summer Islander.

“Please to meet you, my name is Samwell Tarly!” Sam said.

“Likewise!” Kulungu said as they shook hands, he had a deep, assertive voice with an accent of a well off King's Landing resident. Sam noticed his sword had a fine antler handle and that his necklace consisted of a string of antler tips.

Must be hunting trophies or such.

“Jovan! Kasuku!” Kulungu said as he clapped his hands.

A blue-gray parrot flew out of the wagon and landed on Kulungu's shoulder.

“Yes my lord?” The parrot asked.

“Say hello to my new friend!” Kulungu commanded.

“Hello to my new friend!” The parrot said.

“This is Kasuku! Jovan should be appearing soon.” Sam looked to the wagon and saw a slender furry creature come out, it looked like a monkey but had a muzzled face and ears more like a cat. Jovan's fur was silver and its saucer eyes were purple.

“A Little Valyrian? I've never seen one alive before. The citadel has a stuffed one, most of its fur is missing because students rub it for good luck before examinations.” Sam said.

“You're the first person in the North to recognize one! Most assume he's some sort of queer cat. Kasuku and Jovan were parting gifts from my mother, she gave them when I was sent to be fostered by Lord Howland. Her menagerie is perhaps the finest in King's Landing.” Said Kulungu.

I wonder why she sent him away, and to the Neck of all places. Maybe he'll tell me some time, I can't just ask him such a thing.

“Alright Kulungu, I need you to help the others unload the supply crates and set up our camp. Once it's set up maybe get a bonfire going and cook some Bog Basin, I'm sure we'd all love a taste of home. Now I need to speak with Sam in private about the reason I was summoned here in the first place.” Howland said.

Kulungu nodded. Once most of the crates and barrels were unloaded Howland got onto the wagon with Sam. All that was one the wagon now were a few crates with holes drilled in the top. Bran was sitting not far off, staring blankly.

“We're going now Bran, you can sit up here with us and we'll put your wheelchair on the wagon!” Sam said.

I'll join you later. I'm waiting for an old friend.” Bran said in a calm monotone.

How is he going to do that? Will this old friend push him over to us?

“As you wish.” Said Sam. The wagon took off.

“He's probably waiting for my daughter, Meera. I brought her along. She pulled him on a sled all the way to the Wall when wights attacked the Cave of the Three Eyed Raven. I suspect they may be more than merely friends, none of my business really.” Howland Said.

“Meera deserves some kind of award for that! Without her we would have never-”

“Don't say it! Wait until we have reached the Heart Tree!”

“Whoops, I'm sorry!” Sam said and hung his head.

“So how did that raven you and Bran sent manage to reach Greywater Watch? We don't have a Maester, let alone a rookery, plus it's a moving target. I was only able to keep in touch with Ned because I had a special white raven who knew the Greywater scent. Poor bird died a few years back.” Asked Howland.

Moving? Is Greywater watch a boat or on wheels? Maybe its built on a giant turtle or such!

“You'll have to ask Bran!” Sam shrugged.

They crossed over into the Godswood.

“Fair enough. First time in the Godswood?”

“No,” Sam said, “I've spent a fair amount of time here ever since I arrived in Winterfell. I'm a worshiper of the Old Gods!”

“But you're from the Reach! I'm not aware of any Southron Houses that keep the Old Gods besides the Blackwoods and their bannermen down in the Riverlands, and they're descendants of Northern exiles. Much like the Manderlys and their ilk being the only followers of the Seven up here. Of course Ned and Catelyn chose to raise their kids to follow both pantheons. Is your mother a Northwoman?” Howland asked.

“No, she's a Florent. I'm a Reachman through and through. Horn Hill doesn't even have a weirwood, our Godswood is just a garden really. When Jon and I Took the Black I decided to take my vows in front a Heart Tree instead of the Sept. We were the only two who did so, Jon was the only Northman who joined that cohort. I figured the Seven never answered my prayers before so might as well give the Old Gods a chance.” Replied Sam.

Howland laughed. “I've witnessed the magic of the Old Gods first hand, I've heard convincing stories of the powers of both the Drowned God and the Storm God, and have it on good authority R'hollor has made himself known. But I've never met or heard of anyone who said the Seven have ever done shit. Except the Stranger of course.”

“And that's why I left the Seven! I've seen the Old Gods work their magic too, we're going to need it in the War to Come, that's part of why we summoned you! Does Greywater Watch have a Godswood?” Sam asked.

“It does not. But the Neck has so many trees I like to think of us as living in a giant Godswood. We keep several small trees in shallow ceramic pots, we prune their branches and roots to keep them small. They start off as cutting of a full grown parent. I intend to give one of my weirwoods to Jon, so he may take the Old Gods with him wherever he goes.” Howland answered.

“So you raise trees the way some monks do in Yi Ti? I read about something just like that one of Lomas Longstrider's books!” Sam said with excitement.

“Perhaps, but I know nothing of Yi Ti. Alright, here we are! Haven't been here in eighteen years!” Howland said as he got off the wagon and took the crates down. The mouth and eyes of the Heart Tree seemed to be bleeding far more than usual. Howland grabbed a crowbar.

“I know today you've seen lots of things you'd only seen in illuminated manuscripts or stained glass windows,” Howland warned, “but what you're about to see will probably be pretty alarming. Take a deep breath before I open the crates.”

“Oh those pets are nothing at all! I've seen giants, White Walkers, wights, cannibal tribes, mammoths, you name it! Go ahead and open it!” Sam said with over confidence.

Howland cracked open the first crate and in it were three human like creatures no more than three feet tall, dressed in clothing made of woven grass. They had flat faces with pointed chins and prominent cheekbones, hair like moss, pointed ears, skin that was either blue gray or gray green, and their hands had three clawed fingers and a thumb.

Sam started feeling dizzy, almost as if he hadn't drank any water all day or he stood up to fast. His vision started warping.

“Hello!” One of the creatures said.

Now Sam's vision was almost entirely black, he dropped and was unconscious by the time he hit the ground.

 

Chapter Text

“So nice to finally be able to speak to you alone!” Daenerys said.

“Likewise, I hate crowded meetings.” Jon said.

They were walking over to Drogon and Rhaegal, Jon figured he would give Daenerys a tour of of the North and by dragon would be the most efficient way.

“I only saw her for a few minutes but I love Arya already. Very thoughtful of her to give us those wreathes. You're lucky to have such a sweet sister!” Daenerys said.

“Hahahaha! Sweet? Arya has been called many things, but sweet is not one I'd ever heard!” Said Jon in an amused tone.

“Everything you've told me about her makes me think she is! I can tell she loves her big brother, will do anything for him. Sounds like a sweetheart to me! What are some of the terms other people have called her?” Asked Daenerys.

“Wild, unpredictable, angry, strange, the list goes on. Been years since I heard anyone else talk about her. I must say I agree with the first two!” Replied Jon.

“Anger isn't always a bad thing. Millions in Yunkai, Astapor, and Meereen would still be slaves if I wasn't furious with the injustices I witnessed!” Said Daenerys.

I never thought of it that way!

Most people had no idea, but Jon had been angry for most of his life. Everyone who knew him well knew about the deep sadness in his heart, but he disguised his anger well. He was angry at those who mistreated him for being a bastard, angry when people mocked Arya for being true to herself, and even angry at his own father for refusing to tell him who his mother was.

“Have you told her I invited her and Sansa for mulled wine tonight?” Daenerys asked.

“Yes, I did. She's very excited about that, she admires you!” Jon answered.

“Excellent, I hope Sansa will come too.” Daenerys.

I hope Sansa will too, but I doubt it and so does Arya. I don't want to tell Dany just now, it will ruin the mood and maybe Sansa might come anyway.

“Arya said she would relay the invitation to Sansa!”

“Good.”

The dragons were perched on top of a naked hill covered in snow. A pile of charred bones a herd of elk was in front of them. Both looked excited as their Mother and Jon walked up. Daenerys hopped on Drogon effortlessly.

“Time for a riding lesson!” She told Jon.

Is she mad?

“I've only ridden horses! Riding a dragon seems scary!” He said in protest.

“I'm a dragon! You've ridden me! I don't let very many people ride me, its a great privilege to ride a dragon and I think Rhaegal will grant you that privilege!” Daenerys said teasingly.

“That's completely differ- alright! Fine! I'll try!” Jon said.

Jon grabbed one of Rhaegal's spines, then a higher one with his other hand, and used them to climb his way onto the green dragon's back.

The hardest part is done, I suppose. Gods she makes it look so easy!

“Now you just need something to grab on to and hold on tight! No different than fucking really, except you don't have to worry about finishing early or the other finishing at all! You've mastered that, riding a real dragon should be a breeze!” Daenerys said and laughed heartily.

Jon grabbed the two thickest scales within reach. Once he did Rhaegal unfurled his wings and took off. As they became airborne the turbulence made Jon instantly regret what he had gotten himself into, and glad he hadn't eaten yet.

Why couldn't she just like me ride behind her like she did when she saved me and the boys North of the Wall? Besides it would have been nice having her between my legs, I'd much rather hold onto her hips or belly than scales!

Soon they were soaring over the land, going high into the air then dipping back down and clipping the tops off trees only to go back up. As they passed Winterfell onlookers scurried away, except for Arya who waved from the ramparts eagerly. When they got high enough the might castle looked as small as a child's snow fort. Villages were hardly even visible, and the only animals that could be seen were a herd of mammoths.

Great, more Freefolk tribes are coming! Mammoths should crush wights like ants but I pray the Walkers won't turn them! It's bad enough of the Night King's lieutenant's are believed to ride them, but nothing dragonglass or Valyrian steel can't deal with.

By this point Jon grew to immensely enjoy the flight. Flying made him feel powerful, but in a way he actually enjoyed. Powerful, but free from worries of power. Seeing the mammoths was also a relief, Jon was hoping that some would be brought.

Jon and Daenerys landed Rhaegal and Drogon near a cave sheltered with a waterfall entrance. The rocky walls were covered in blue white ice and long, tapering icicles that grew longer with every winter day. Water crashing into the stream filled the air with an ambiance hard to mimic with any instrument, which was enhanced with the chirps of snow shrikes singing in the trees. They dismounted their reptilian vehicles and took in the view.

“It's cold up here for a Southron girl,” Jon said.

“So keep your queen warm!” Daenerys replied, her soft cheeks dimpling with a loving smile. She gave Jon a wink and puckered her full lips.

They embraced firmly and gave a passionate kiss. Her arms were wrapped around him tight as a python, while he elected to fill his hands with her fur clad rump.

For Jon the moment was soured as he noticed Drogon glaring down at him the way Catelyn must have when Nedcame back with another woman's son.

I hope Drogon approves of our love. She is his mother, after all.

Jon halted the kiss.

“Don't be afraid!” Daenerys said, her lush eyebrows jolted up.

“No need to be,” Jon countered, “we'll just have to take this somewhere private! Follow me!” Jon took her hand and led her to the cave.

Once they were in front of the waterfall Jon picked her up and jumped to the other side, lest their clothing get any wetter than need be.

“Oh my! You're more adventurous than I thought! This place is even more beautiful on the inside.” Daenerys said as Jon put her down then she giggled.

“I'll say!” Jon said. He noticed the waterfall made her fur dress cling to her flesh and it gloriously outlined her hourglass with extra sand figure. Though he had laid with her once before Jon was still shy, and quickly took his eyes away from her sinuous curves.

“I used to explore this cave with my brother Robb and our friend Theon. I took Arya here too a few times, her mother would have killed me if she found out! So many interesting legends about this cave.” Jon said.

“Legends? Like snarks and grumkins?” Daenerys asked teasingly, letting out a flirty chuckle.

“I suppose you've never heard of Hermit Dugg, heir of House Bachelor!” Jon asked excitedly.

“I suppose you owe me a folklore lesson!” Daenerys said.

“Douglas Bachelor was the spoiled son of a Southron Lord, had the swiftest steeds, the flashiest armor, enough gold for the finest whores every week, everything a Lord's son could ask for. Despite all that, he was disillusioned with high society and started drinking milk of the poppy to fill a void. Soon his erratic behavior made him an outcast, and he fled North where he lived in this very cave for a whole summer. He only left this cave to steal food and more poppy. Then one day he found a religious tract he said gave him an awakening. Some say he joined the Faith Militant, others say he became a Red Priest. Whatever he became, he left his cave and started preaching wherever he could find an audience. He denounced alcohol, fornication, eating meat, and all sorts of other pleasures. His followers believe he had a divine revelation, but most thought years of milk of the poppy abuse permanently altered his mind.” Jon said with the enthusiasm of a Maester discussing his latest chain link.

“Wow! I can't imagine giving up meat! Even seafood?” Dany asked.

“Especially seafood, a damned shame since I love shellfish! Pork too, ironically it is said Dugg resembled an overly jovial sausage link.” Jon said and laughed.

“That's the funniest thing I ever heard!” Dany replied and let out a hearty belly laugh that caused her flesh to jiggle. “Is that why you brought me here? To impress me with your knowledge of sourpuss street preachers?”

“Not at all, my Queen! I brought you here because I thought after that long journey from King's Landing to White Harbor to Winterfell it would be a good idea to have a right proper bath!” Jon pointed to the hot spring a few yards into the cave.

 

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Cracks throughout the cave's ceiling let beams of sunlight in to illuminate everything, greatly enhanced by the ice and snow that capped the roof. When they reached the edge of the spring they disrobed. Jon took off his clothes swiftly and was stark naked in the time Daenerys took to untie her scarlet cravat. Next she shed her white fur robe and was just in a linen chemise, her breasts, buttocks, and belly bulged pleasantly out. Jon felt a rush of blood rush to his nether regions, and soon Shortclaw was ready for battle.

Gods her body is juicy, especially compared to Ygritte! She'll keep me warm all winter! Jon thought, then felt a brief pang of sadness thinking about his first love.

“I must confess I'm a little embarrassed,” Dany said, “when I was in Meereen I developed a nasty habit of eating between meals. Candied locusts, fragrant sausages, honeyed melon, the food in Meereen is to die for. Dealing with the Sons of the Harpy was stressful so I ate to take the edge off. Is it okay if I swim with this on?”

“Sure, if that's what would be more comfy for you. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to see what's underneath. Just look down!” Jon said.

“Oh my!” Daenerys blushed. “So you don't mind some extra flesh?”

“Don't mind it? I love it! Pleasing to my eyes and hands. If I wanted some dainty wisp I would have gotten myself one! Besides I've already seen you naked!” Jon laughed.

“I guess I kind of forgot about that, that boat was much more dim though. Alright then!” Dany proceeded to peel off the chemise. Jon's eyes followed as it descended her body. Down her shoulders, past her pink nipples, past her wide and well padded hips, then finally to the ground.

“Turn around!” Jon said approaching her.

She obeyed and revealed her hindquarters. They were full and round as summer's first peaches. Jon bent the knee and gave them both a firm squeeze, they were smooth and soft like buttery rolls with dimples that made Jon think of biscuits”. He got cheek to cheek with her, pressing his bearded face against the squishy flesh.

“I hate those stretch marks on my hips!” Daenerys said.

“You shouldn't, I don't! Adds texture, they're like shadow cat stripes!” Jon said then licked them to show he he was sincere. Finally he got up and gave her bottom a firm smack, once the rippling stopped Jon dove into the spring and she followed after. Splash!!! Splash!!!

Gods I can't wait to see what she looks like after few years as Queen, she'll probably have an ass the size of a hogshead of sour leaf! Makes me really hope this winter will be brief.

“Wow! This feels incredible!” Daenerys said as she dog paddled in a circle, playfully chasing Jon. She gave him a large splash that soaked his immaculate hair.

“Ugh you got me! I surrender and agree to your terms! I am at your mercy!” Jon said, raising his arms and flailing.

“Then you will be my vassal! I am your Queen and you will obey my every command!” Daenerys said with the same passion she commanded her dragons.

She swam up to Jon and aggressively embraced him. Her nipples were hard as crossbow bolts and pointed straight at him. “Lick them!” She ordered.

“Yes my Queen!” Jon said compliantly. He swirled his tongue around the ring of pink, the little bumps further stimulating his tongue. After a few minutes he inserted a whole teat in his mouth and started to gently suckle. His hands wandered across her body, sensuously rubbing her wet skin and pinching her ass, hips, and belly.

“Harder!” She ordered, and he silently complied. Eventually she told him to repeat with the other breast, and as he begun she started to stroke Shortclaw with one hand and grope his firm and perfectly rounded ass with the other. The more vigorously he sucked her the more vigorously she stroked him, and when his face appeared near climax she abruptly took her hand off and commanded him to remove his lips.

“I won't allow you to come until I have first. And even then only when I say you can! Queens are always first to come!” She told him.

“As you wish, your grace!” Jon said, feigning intimidation.

“Have you ever given a lady a Lordly Kiss?” Dany inquired.

“Never, your grace!” Jon lied. In truth he had given one to his late love, in a cave not so different from this one, and anticipated giving one to his new Queen.

She thinks this is my first joust, Gods will she be thrilled to be proven wrong! Jon thought.

Daenerys swam to the edge of the spring, gathered their garments in a pile, then sat on the garments like a cushion. Her short, thick legs were crossed, her calves submerged in the water. Jon headed over to her. He was five inches taller than her but she appeared to tower over him, her purple eyes glaring down on him.

“Are you hungry? I hope so!” Daenerys asked.

“Like a wolf!” Jon answered.

She uncrossed her legs, revealing her succulent and juicy muffin. Right above it was a field of neatly trimmed silver.

She keeps hers so tidy! Ygritte's was like a fox's pelt, not sure which I prefer. Jon thought as he prepared mentally.

Jon waded closer and started to lick and kiss her inner thighs, beginning just past her knees and inching towards her meaty outer lips. When he reached the lips proper he gave them a smooch and started breathing lightly and brushing them with his fingers.

“Yes! So warm and fresh! Just like that!”

Each breath was slightly more intense than the last, eventually she parted her legs further and her outer lips peeled apart to reveal the exquisite inner lips and nub.

Gods its like an abalone! Haven't eaten any abalone since before I took the black. That nub is a good deal bigger than Ygritte's! Jon thought, then once again felt a pang of guilt comparing his new love to his dearly departed. He stared at her honeypot for a moment.

“What are you waiting for?!” Daenerys demanded. “Dig in!”

“Yes my Queen!” Jon nodded his head.

Jon grabbed her love handle with his left hand and repeated the process beginning with a smooch followed by airy breaths and soft caressing on her folds and nub.

“Start licking!” Daenerys said once the breathing was hot and heavy.

His tongue brushed from the bottom of her muffin to the top in a zigzag, ending with a circle around her nub without direct contact. Her hips swayed with every stroke of his tongue.

“Fuck you're good! A little more tongue!” Daenerys said excitedly and started to breathe heavily and moan.

He complied and started licking with broad strokes, this time seeing to it that her nub was touched. Her nub grew further and her honeypot grew increasingly wet and he greedily slurped up the juices as they came forth, savoring the sweet and tangy flavor with each eager lap.

“I fucking love that sound! You like that don't you? You're enjoying this feast for crows!” She said as he nodded. “I need something a little bit more now!”

Without asking a word Jon slipped the index finger of his free hand inside of his Queen, massaging her interior muscles and easing it in and out working in tandem with his tongue. She grabbed his hair and he took that as a sign to give even more. A quick glance up from his task revealed she was using her other hand to fondle her breasts and flick her nipple. Violet eyes looked down at him with furled eyebrows, so he immediately returned his focus to the task at hand.

“I better not catch you distracted again!” Daenerys threatened.

She thrust her pelvis forward and grinded into his face. A second finger was inserted, and Jon encompassed her inner lips with his to create a vacuum. The folds ebbed and flowed in and out, massaged by his nimble tongue. Loud and rubbery smacking ensued whenever he took a short recess for fresh air. Her moaning grew loader by the minute.

“Fuck yessss! That feels sooooooo good! It feels soooooo fucking good!” Daenerys moaned in ecstasy as she reached climax. Soon her whole body seemingly went into convulsions, her curled feet bobbed up and down in the water soaking Jon.

He released his left hand from her love handle and begun to stroke Shortclaw once he knew she was about to come. Shortclaw had been standing at attention as steadfast as the Titan of Braavos for the entirety of the romp, so Jon was greatly to relieved to finally be able to come. He took out his pleasuring fingers and let her suck on them.

When she had left the final throes of orgasm she gushed out a stream of juices into Jon's mouth and plopped back into the water gave him a kiss with plenty of tongue. The pair waded to the shallow side of the spring, Jon laid on his back and she laid on her belly. His one arm was wrapped around her back while his other hand eagerly kneaded her chunky bottom.

“Gods you were good! What's your secret?” She asked.

“I listened to you and followed what you said!” He answered and shrugged.

“There's no way that was your first time giving a Lordly Kiss! Not with such skill, especially how you handled the nub!” She accused him.

“I must confess to you my Queen that I have failed you! I feigned ignorance when I had experience. I have indeed done it before. She'd never even heard of such a thing! Figured if you thought it was my first time you could only be pleasantly surprised!” He countered.

“Surely you didn't get so good giving them to one naive Wildling girl?”

“They don't much like being called that, they call themselves the Freefolk. But yes, I got some good advice from my friend Tormund.” Jon replied.

“The big ginger? I'm sure his beard feels like seven heavens down there, I know yours did!” Daenerys laughed.

“That's the one! He told me to start off slow, then slowly build up. And most importantly, when she likes what's happening do it more.”

“That's the gist of it! You are a bold one, and it worked! Neither of my past male loves were ever willing to try it. Their loss, I think giving is as fun as receiving!” She said.

Male loves?” Jon asked in a confused tone. Daenerys blushed.

“I will explain if you promise you won't tell anyone. Can you promise that?”

“My tongue is tied and lips are sealed, my Queen!”

“They weren't a few minutes ago! Anyway after my husband Drogo died I was lonely, so I started playing around with my handmaids out of loneliness. I found it to be an absolute pleasure. You clearly love my ass to bits but you should see Missandei's! With some more practice you'll be as good as her! Anyway, you can't tell anyone about that because it could create quite a scandal. Westerosi seem much more narrow minded. Missandei would probably kill me if she learned I told you!”

Gods what I'd give to see Dany and Missandei fucking!

“Understood! Your past is your past and nothing wrong with two ladies having some naughty fun with each other, but most people wouldn't see it that way. My first romance was quite scandalous simply because she was born on the wrong side of that wretched Wall, most Northerners would be outraged if they knew which is why Arya is the only one I've told. However in Dorne that might actually boost your popularity!” Jon replied.

“I think you're right about Dorne, that Ellaria Sand is quite the cheeky coquette, but I already have their backing. Good, I'm glad that's settled. Last thing we need is a scandalous secret being exposed and undermining my claim to the Iron Throne!”

They both let out a hearty laugh and resumed cuddling.

 

 

Chapter Text

Tyrion was standing on the ramparts of Winterfell when he saw the dragons fly overhead. The swish of their wings flapping and their robust roars filled the air and Tyrion was filled with as much shock and awe as he was when he saw that wild dragon back in Essos.

Is that Jon on Rhaegal? I can't believe Dany talked him into that, I would've ridden behind her and held onto her tits. With her permission of course. Hope I could even reach them.

Ser Davos Seaworth and Lord Varys walked up to Tyrion. Davos wore his usual armor with his onion sigil, while Varys wore an posh fur robe and necklace of amber beads. The pendant in the center had a spider trapped inside.

“Very fine furs, Varys!” Tyrion said.

“Why thank you, I'm glad you like them. I bought this number from an Ibbenese merchant ship back in Meereen, I figured it would be a good time to start building my winter wardrobe and I couldn't pass such an elegant piece. Amazing how a people so homely as the Men of Ib can produce such luxerious products!” Said Varys.

“Having access to such fine resources as amber and mammoths helps, even a handsome people can't make much without the right stuff.” Davos added.

“I'd love to continue and discuss winter fashion, but we have more pressing matters at hand. Do any of you have any news?” Tyrion asked.

“As a matter of fact I do,” Varys said, “when we arrived here I received a letter from one of my little birds saying that Cersei has hired the Golden Company. The letter must have been posted some time ago, so the Golden Company will be arriving in King's Landing any day now. Quite possible they already have.”

“Terrific, just what we need. The Golden Company aren't mere sell swords who will default on a contract once they get bored or switch sides if a bigger payment is offered. They never fail a job no matter how ambitious, and only the Unsullied rival them in terms of discipline. Now there's a fair chance we're fucked, even if we manage to eradicate the Dead.” Davos said grimly.

“Ever the optimist, Lord Seaworth. My history is a little hazy, but hasn't the Golden Company always had undying loyalty to the Blackfyres?” Tyrion asked.

“When there were still Blackfyres, yes. The last male member died some thirty years ago, though rumors persist of other unacknowledged Targaryen bastards or even secret trueborn who could revive the house. I find it odd they would take a side in the War of the Two Queens, especially since the Lannister promise of repaid debts hasn't rung true as of late. My guess is they are driven by opposition to the Targaryens and not support for your sister.” Varys replied.

“My father fought them when the Ninepenny Kings invaded, he said they were the fiercest opponent he's ever met.” Said Tyrion.

“Please tell me I'm not the only one who thought that Great Hall meeting was a total shit show!” Said Davos.

“You are not alone in that, I predicted the North would be icy.” Said Varys.

“Good one! And I agree, it seems my ex wife fancies herself a shrewd cyvasse player. Cersei would be proud of her! Do either of you know of any Northern houses that will support Jon's decision and by extent Daenerys? Little Lord Umber barely counts.” Tyrion said.

“I'm afraid not, but I thought surely Lady Mormont would have been eager to see another woman as brave as her. Turns out she's as outspoken against Jon forfeiting his crown as she was giving it to him the first place!” Said Davos.

“One might as well assume I would support the first eunuch to swoop in and call himself king, even if said eunuch was supported and advised by a cousin who disgrace to our house. It is commonly said the North remembers, but that's really just a polite way of saying the North doesn't forgive. I do think House Manderly may be more enlightened, they seem quite worldly and White Harbor's economy is dependent on business from the South. An independent North could mean tariffs, and I'm sure they dislike dealing with ones for overseas trade as it is.” Varys Said.

Tyrion glanced over the wall and saw a wagon bearing the Reed banners, along with several Crannogmen on ponies, accompanied by lizard lions, and shadow cats.

“Perhaps House Reed,” Tyrion said, “from what I've heard they are total outliers in Northern society. I could see them going against the grain.” Tyrion said.

“Seven hells, is that Lord Howland? That man has been missing for seven years and even my little birds couldn't locate him!” Varys said astonished.

Tyrion looked back to the courtyard, where he saw one of the Crannogmen talking to Samwell Tarly. Bran was sitting nearby. Sam must have summoned him, but how was the summons letter delivered? Greywater Watch supposedly moves by black magic.

“I wonder why he was in hiding for so long, must have been keeping some kind of major secret. That or he's just paranoid. Looks like the latter!” Tyrion said and shrugged.

“So I've been thinking of a way to get the North to come around to Daenerys! She and Jon I'm sure have every intention of getting married, they're clearly very much in love. Gods know those two kept me up all night on the voyage to White Harbor, and I thought I could sleep through anything! If Jon were to accept a promotion to King then they could rule the Seven Kingdoms as husband and wife. The North won't accept Jon as a mere Warden, but what about her equal? Just think of it, Westeros united under a just woman and an even more just man for the first time in our dreadful history.” Davos said confidently.

“I dare admit I can't envision a plan that could possibly benefit the Realm more. Most fear Daenerys but all respect Jon, he can temper her worst impulses and would make her rule far more palatable and not just up here.” Said Varys.

“I've known Jon longer than either of you, and frankly I'm firmly convinced that he has no thirst for power. That's why he was so quick to forfeit his crown. He might agree to your plan Davos, but in practice I doubt he would be anything more than a puppet of Daenerys.” Said Tyrion.

“From what I've heard Ned didn't want to be Warden of the North, but when he ended up as Warden he did a damned good job of it. I'm sure Jon will be no different. Some of the best leaders are those with no desire for power but a strong sense of duty.” Said Davos.

“Robert didn't want the Iron Throne and only took it when forced too, largely because his dear friend Ned already declined. Robert had no skill in leadership and he knew it, so he let the rest of the Small Council and I run everything. Seventeen prosperous and mostly peaceful years. Jon might end up another Robert, but at least his future wife won't and I'm sure they will be a superb Small Council. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a few letters to write.” Varys said then walked away.

“And I've said what I wanted, I have nothing else. Now you have something to think about, let me know if you want to move forward in proposing it to the love birds.” Davos said.

“Of course, I'll think it over.” Tyrion said.

Davos left and Tyrion was left on the ramparts alone. He scanned the area outside of Winterfell and marveled at the camp of the Targaryen forces, with hundreds of tents and pavilions all in black. Dotting the rest of the nearby landscape were the tents of the Northern houses Winterfell couldn't hold, most their banners bore sigils Tyrion didn't recognize. Soon Tyrion could hear what sounded like trumpets, and the thunderous pounding of enormous feet.

Sounds like those dwarf elephants I saw in Volantis, but those footsteps are far louder. How would any kind of elephant make it this far north?

Tyrion looked over to where the noise was coming from and saw what was making it – mammoths. A whole herd of them, wildlings were leading them.

I forgot mammoths lived North of the Wall. If only Cersei could see this, she always adored elephants. I'll never forget when I had Jaime talk father into trying to get one for her name day. Too bad he couldn't find one for sale, perhaps she would have stopped hating me then.

Cynical and bitter as Tyrion may have been, seeing the mammoths evoked a sense of wonder in him he had thought long dead. Sure the dragons evoked it too, but he had seen them near daily for the last few years. Seeing the mammoths also provided him with hope; hope that perhaps enough forces would be assembled to defeat the Army of the Dead.

 

Chapter Text

Sam's vision slowly returned to him. He realized he was face first on the ground, so he spat out the grass that was in his mouth and looked around. A raven cawed loudly from a nearby tree. Lord Howland and the creatures he brought were looming over him. Sam stood up and brushed the dirt and debris off of his robes.

So it wasn't just a dream! Are these snarks or grumkins? Or could they be – no that's impossible, never mind.

“You passed out harder than a lad who downed his first bottle of strongwine!” Howland said and laughed.

“I guess I should have listened to you!” Sam said sheepishly.

“Not much you could have done, I did warn you. These are my friends, the Children of the Forest!” Howland said.

“Hello Sam, my true name is too name is too long and difficult to pronounce for most humans, so just call me Perry!” Said one of the Children, Sam noticed her figure was pear shaped and wondered if that was where she got her human name. Apparently Common Tongue names based on physical attributes were standard for the Children, according to Maesters who didn't entirely reject their existence anyway. On her hair were twigs with bunches of dried pyrus blossoms.

“Pleased to meet you Perry! I don't understand, Bran told me the last of the Children were killed by the Night King when attacked the Three Eyed Raven! Most people believe you all died ages ago, and others believe you never existed in the first place.” Sam said in a confused tone.

“I was mistaken!” A voice that sounded just like Bran's said.

Has he made it here?

Sam looked to where the voice came from and saw a large raven, with a third eye in the middle of its forehead.

“Bran? Is that you?” Asked Sam dumbfounded.

“I am not Bran Stark anymore, remember? I am the Three Eyed Raven, I discussed this before with you.” Bran said in his monotone voice.

“Yes I do remember, but I didn't think it was meant to be taken literally. I thought you were the Three Eyed Raven the same way the head of the Lannisters is the Lion of Casterly Rock, just a title and not meant to be taken literally.” Sam said with a stutter.

“Bran was the one who delivered the summons to me, in this form of course. Now let's discuss the reason I was summoned, it's because of Jon isn't it?” Asked Howland.

“Precisely. I was in a green dream and visited the Tower of Joy, I saw you with Ned when he killed Arthur Dayne and adopted Aegon.” Said Bran.

“And I'm the one who discovered the journal of the Septon who married Rhaegar and Lyanna, well my wife did actually. Bran was actually still convinced Jon was a bastard, he didn't know they got married.” Said Sam.

“I can only see what I choose to see. During my next green dream I saw their wedding to confirm it, my aunt looked beautiful that night.” Bran said.

“So you are both aware that Robert's Rebellion built on a crock of shit! That didn't sit with Ned and I. We were relieved his sister wasn't raped or kidnapped. However it made us both sick to learn that we fought in a war entered under false premises. I don't know if it was all a lie Robert concocted or if he sincerely believed it, but it doesn't matter. All that death and destruction was the result of something which never happened!” Said Howland. Usually he spoke in a calculated and quite mellow fashion, but this was said with fire.

“Jon deserves to know the truth of his identity, as does Daenerys. When we reveal it to them will you vouch for us? Everyone else will likely be skeptical of it as well. You were there and Jon knows you were Ned's friend.” Sam asked.

“Of course I will! The North still despises all Targaryens for what they think Rhaegar did to Lyanna, even if Daenerys was a just a suckling babe at the time. Aerys of course was guilty of burning Rickard and Brandon, which was the true catalyst of the Rebellion, but they went to the Red Keep in the first place to confront the Mad King about what they thought Rhaegar did. I brought seventeen years worth of correspondence with Ned, each letter signed and sealed by either of us. In these letters Ned expresses guilt in being complicit with Robert's false claim to the Iron Throne, and the last one goes so far as to say in the event Daenerys arrived in the Seven Kingdoms he would support her claim. I wrote asking him what about Jon, since Jon does have a greater claim than her, but he was executed before the raven arrived.” Howland said.

“Now I'm really glad we summoned you! I saw Tyrion speaking with Davos and Varys on the ramparts right as you arrived, probably discussing how the change the minds of the Northerners. I'm sure they will be thrilled to have a respected Lord on their side!” Sam said eagerly.

“Haha! Respected? I'm might be a Lord but other Northerners don't respect me or my people. We're called bog devils, frog eaters, mud people, the names go on. Sorry to disappoint. But I will still back your claims and most do know that I'm the only living witness of the Tower of Joy. I suppose know would be a good time for my friends to explain why I brought them here. Care to elaborate, Perry?” Howland asked.

“Of course,” Perry said. “Who should sit on the Iron Throne will mean very little so long as the Night King is on the march. I know who he is, and why he is attacking now.”

“As do I, he is the first White Walker.” Brandon said.

“You are right, I was there with Leaf when he was created.” Said Perry.

“But who was he, before he turned?” Sam asked.

“A Dragonlord of Old Valyria. The Valyrian Freehold was as advanced as any of the Free Cities, at a time when the First Men lived in huts and made weapons from stone. Even the weakest of the Dragonlords dabbled in forms of sorcery the greatest mages today spend a lifetime merely scratching the surface of. The Night King flew to Westeros to capture more dragons and to learn my people's magic secrets. I don't think he understood magic is simply part of our being, its not something we need to learn or practice. We knew we needed a weapon to repel the First Men, and we chose him for the prototype to prevent him from stealing our dragons!” Perry said.

“Every book I've ever read said that dragons originated in Valyria, and only spread when Valyria started colonizing.” Asked Sam.

“That is Valyrian propaganda, nothing more. Dragons were once found on every corner of the Known World. From Sothoryos to Ibben, from Lannisport to Asshai. They roamed free like any other wild beast, the Valyrians were the first and only to domesticate them.” Perry answered.

“Why are dragons so important anyway?”

“Difficult to express in the Common Tongue, but dragons are living conductors of magical energy. Spells are much stronger when cast near a dragon, and the more breathing dragons in the world the greater power all magic has. The Valyrians first captured dragons in order to strengthen their sorcery. In fact frozen dragon corpses are contained inside the Wall, that's how the enchantments lasted so long. Magic in Westeros became so weak when the last Targaryen dragon died, in Essos it was only slightly stronger because a few wild dragons remain. When Daenerys hatched her children I noticed everything grew much stronger, far more human children are warging or showing promise with it than in half a dozen generations at least. The Night King is on the offensive now because he is far more powerful with three growing dragons, which enables him to raise more wights and cast far greater spells. His original dragon was killed by dragon glass, as was every wild dragon he turned. Now he finally has another dragon and two more he could turn.” Perry said.

Seven hells that explains so much!

“And why does he want to conquer the Westeros? Is he just evil or is their something larger at play?” Sam asked nervously.

“Part of it is he is simply doing what we created him to do, to destroy humanity or expel them from our continent, so we are partly to blame for that. We realized it was an error when he and his Walkers started killing us as well, and destroying our Weirwoods. Which is why we reached out to the First Men and formed the Green Pact to stop. Ironic, we created the Walkers to destroy humanity but instead they united us. For a time anyway. However the Night King is merely a servant and enforcer of greater evils, evils he has served since before we turned him, which is why he was so willing to forfeit his own humanity. They gave him his powers, and he carries out their will in return. I don't think your tongue has a word for what he serves, but followers of R'hllor call it the Great Other. So yes, something far larger than almost any human knows.” Perry responded.

“I've known about all of this since I spent those years meditating on the Isle of Faces, but even I doubted the Night King would have returned within my lifetime. When something has been waiting to happen for eight thousand years you just don't expect you'd live to see it!” Howland said.

“Well I suppose that would explain why cultures all over the Known World have stories about the Long Night.” Sam said.

“It seems I have much to observe in my next Green Dream!” Bran said and cawed.

Why couldn't he just be a raven with two eyes?

“What will be needed to defeat the Night King?” Sam asked.

“On the Isle of Faces I frequently had dreams were I saw the Night King attacked by a dragon, a she wolf, and a chimera that appeared both dragon and wolf. For years I believed the dragon was Rhaegar and the she wolf was Lyanna, with Jon being the chimera. I have no doubt the chimera is Jon, but now I suspect the other two aren't his parents. Daenerys may be the dragon, but there are a few candidates for the she wolf.” Answered Howland.

Must be a Stark! Doubt its Sansa, she's no warrior. Couldn't be Bran either, unless he warged into a she wolf.

“Stannis Baratheon was advised by a Red Priestess named Melisandre. She's firmly convinced the Night King will be defeated by a figure named Azor Ahai, or the Prince Who Was Promised in the Common Tongue. Melisandre believed it was Stannis, and eventually he did too. Stannis had been a good man but she got him to do some dreadful things, only for him to be killed fighting the Boltons. Now she believes Jon is Azor Ahai, that's why she resurrected him.” Sam said.

“You humans love easy answers!” Perry said and cackled. “Probably because you value one pretty branch over a whole tree. Humans take prophecies literally and at face value, seeing them as a blueprint and not merely the shape of things to come. Defeating the Night King, let alone the Great Other, will take more than just one promised prince. That task will require the efforts of many, and most will go unnoticed.”

Or reject prophecies entirely, like the do at the Citadel.

“As much as I'd love to discuss the Last Hero and such further, I'm afraid I must be going. Perry, you and the Children may stay in the Godswood. Just keep hidden whenever anyone but Sam or I come through.” Howland said.

“No need for concern, we can hear humans from a mile away and smell them from even further!” Perry said then disappeared into the bushes with the rest of the Children.

“I will think hard about how we can disclose the news to Jon and Daenerys. And there is something in my cell I would like you or Perry to have a look at.” Said Sam.

“What is it?” Howland Asked.

“An old war horn, made from an aurochs horn. I found it wrapped in a Night's Watch cloak buried under a cache of dragonglass arrows.” Sam replied.

“That is a worthy find! Care to walk back to the courtyard with me?” Howland offered as he hopped on the wagon.

“I appreciate the offer, but no thanks. I'm going to stay here and pray for a bit.”

Howland said farewell and rode off, Bran flew away. Sam gazed at the bleeding face of the Heart Tree and into his reflection in the onyx pool, trying to make sense of everything he learned. So much to take in.

 

Chapter Text

Meeting with Jon in the Godswood was the most satisfying thing she had done since she learned how to warg, far more satisfactory in fact. For seven years she wondered what her brother was up to at the Wall and beyond, and she spent those same seven years anticipating when she could tell him of all her trials and triumphs. She left the Godswood in good spirits, knowing that for at least a time they were a family once more. Now she was looking for Sansa, so she could tell her sister that Daenerys invited the two of them to her quarters that night.

When Arya arrived in the courthouse she saw Sansa on the ramparts, she was sitting at a table and drinking a glass of tea.

Perfect, didn't have to waste any time searching for her.

“What do you want?” Sansa asked petulantly.

“I just wanted to let you know that Daenerys invited us over to her room tonight, for mulled wine and refreshments!” Arya replied in a friendly tone.

“I'm not going!” Sansa said.

“Why not? There will be lemon cake!” Arya asked. That last part was a lie, Arya didn't know what would be served but figured a promise of lemon cake would change Sansa's mind.

“Because I don't like the Dragon Queen!” Sansa said even more irritated.

“How can you not like her? She is sooooo beautiful!” Arya asked in a mocking tone, mimicking what Sansa had said when Arya refused to have lunch with Cersei.

“Oh so is that what your fascination with her is about? Think you can steal her from Jon? I doubt many boys have given you any attention, wouldn't be surprised if you tried your luck with girls instead. Even if Daenerys did like women, which she doesn't, I doubt she'd pick you!” Sansa said and rolled her eyes then laughed.

Tears started to trickle down Arya's cheeks. Arya's enchantment with Daenerys was nothing romantic, though she did greatly admire her beauty. She took no issue with those who preferred the company of their own sex but for her own sister to make such a baseless accusation against her cut like an ax, particularly since it was the sort of taunt Sansa plagued her with as kids.

How could she accuse me of stealing Jon's love? Even if I was in love with her I would never dream of taking her from him!

“Arya! I was only joking! I'm sure there's a husband out there for you! Don't take what I said the wrong way!” Sansa said, her tone seemed questionable.

“You said calling me fat-face and stubby-legs were jokes too! Enjoy your tea, I guess there will be more mulled wine for me and the Queen!” Arya said then stormed off.

Once Sansa was sufficiently behind her Arya stopped to look at all of the banners of the houses camped outside Winterfell. House Mormont with their bear rampant on green, House Manderly with their Merling King on blue, House Karstark with their white star on black, House Hornwood with their moose and so on.

Suddenly Arya felt the need to use the lavatory. When out in the woods she preferred to relieve herself in the out in the open since she hated lavatories, but she was in Winterfell and onlookers were everywhere so she headed to the latrine. Then she got an idea, an awful idea.

She sat on the ground cross legged and scanned the sky. A robin flew by, so she gazed into its soul and warged into it. Flying vicariously through birds made her feel powerful, like she could go anywhere she pleased. So she flew over to where Sansa was sitting and right when she was above her shat in her tea. Plunk!

Bull's eye!

Arya perched on the nearest railing and watched Sansa scream, toss the cup over the railing, then vomit her guts out. Once Sansa was done puking she ran inside.

“Bahahaha!” Arya roared with laughter as she surrendered control of the robin's body and resumed control of her own. Now she no longer had use the latrine. As far as Arya was concerned if Sansa didn't want bird shit in her tea then she shouldn't have pissed off a skin changer. Or a vindictive sister for that matter.

On the other side of one of the towers Arya saw a fat bald man in a fur robe, probably the Spider. She had seen him speak with her father a few times and even espied him speaking with a shadowy figure in the Red Keep basement where the dragon skeletons were kept.

“Are you Varys?” Arya asked once she reached him.

“Why yes I am! What gave it away, my smooth never but never shaven face or the lavender and lilac perfume?” Varys answered.

“I've seen you before back when my father was Hand.” Arya replied.

“You must be Arya then, of course not many ladies bear arms even up here. I know its been seven years but I am terribly sorry about your father, I did everything in my power to save him. Would you like a sweet?” Varys said as he pulled a hard candy from his pocket.

“Sure,” Arya said as she took it and popped it in her mouth, “mmm rosewater! I'm grateful you tried to save him, but I think Sansa's false testimony is why he got killed. I was at his execution, I saw how it happened.” Arya said and hung her head.

“Sansa was also manipulated into giving that testimony, she feared for her life. Your father however told me he did not fear for his. Besides Jofferey would have had him executed anyway, he never needed a reason or rationale.” Said Varys.

“True, I hated that cunt with all my heart. Not even Cersei wanted my father dead, had she got her way he would be Lord Commander right now. He would have taken the threat of the Night King seriously, and the Watch would have respected him far more than Jon.” Said Arya.

“With every move I take I try and imagine every possible outcome, you seem to as well. Perhaps you'll make a promising Mistress of Whispers in the event of my death or retirement, Little Wolf. Don't get any ideas, I'm always one step ahead.” Varys said, his high voice shifted seamlessly from admiration to stern caution.

And he doesn't even know I'm both a warg and Faceless Man!

“Littlefinger is dead. I slashed out his throat with this!” Arya said and unsheathed the Valyrian steel dagger she used.

“I'm going to miss that rascal, hahaha!” Varys said amused.

“I thought you hated him!” Arya said confused.

“As a politician and businessman yes, but I actually rather enjoyed his company. He made politics interesting, that's for sure. Problem is he cared nothing for the Realm, cared about nobody save himself. He was the sort of fellow who would crash a ship into the rocks so he could call himself captain. I'm glad he's dead!” Varys clarified.

“Don't tell anyone beyond Jon and Daenerys. Sansa and I gave explicit orders to everyone at his trial and execution to keep mum about it, even the Knights of Vale swore themselves to secrecy. Do you understand?” Arya asked.

“Understood entirely. You really are a clever lass. His allegiance was always difficult to keep track of, especially during my exile in Essos, but last I head he presented himself as Cersei's man and I'm sure she is vain enough to believe it. Which means that as far as she's concerned she has the Vale in her pocket, so you are wise to let her believe she has more vassals than she actually does. Bravo! Bravo!” Varys said and clapped his hands.

“Last time I saw you I overheard you support contacting the Faceless Men to Assassinate Queen Daenerys. Changed your mind?” Arya asked and raised an eyebrow.

“You really are a stealthy one! I actually never wanted her dead, I merely feigned it because I didn't want my cover blown. Your father was repulsed at the thought of killing a pregnant girl, as I'm sure you heard. So I 'agreed' to cancel the letter to the House of Black and White and made it an open bounty instead. The Faceless Men always succeed, but with an open bounty any idiot could try and sneak or fight past a whole Khalasar to take her out. It was the sort of fool's errand that Cat's Paw Guild novice who tried killing your brother would attempt.” Varys said in a sly tone.

“Is the Cat's Paw Guild still around?” Asked Arya.

“Last I heard yes, and they have some relevance as low level thugs in the underworlds of King's Landing and other ports. They're thieves mostly, but have been known to accept assassination contracts on occasion. I would never hire them for any services, they couldn't even send someone who could kill a comatose boy in his bed. Their services are much cheaper than any of their rivals, but like any business you get what you pay for.” Said Varys.

“Good, maybe one day I'll pay them a visit!” Arya said mischievously.

“And nothing of value will be lost. Best of luck with your agenda, Little Wolf. It's been a pleasant chat but Tyrion and Ser Davos are waiting for me and it would be most rude to make them wait any further. Toodaloo!” Varys gave an airy wave goodbye and walked off.

As Varys faded off a thunderous echo appeared in the air. Arya looked up into the sky and saw Daenerys riding Drogon and Jon riding Rhaegal soon after. The sight of Jon on a dragon made her smile ear to ear and she waved at them as they flew by.

Drogon isn't the only thing she'll ride today!

Once the dragons were gone Arya walked down to the Winterfell gate to explore the camps. She passed by the Manderlys, an elegant and generally portly bunch dressed with far more class then most Northmen. The women wore jewelry from shells, choral, and sea glass, and their knights wore armor with nautical motifs and wielded tridents instead of lances. Once Arya could read and write with confidence she wrote a letter to Lord Manderly asking if she could be a squire to him or any of his men. All she got a wine stained letter reading NO, which ended her dreams of becoming a knight as they are the only Northern house with a tradition of knighthood.

Arya heard an animal sound she was unfamiliar with, one she had not heard even while trespassing menageries in Braavos. Sounded like some kind of equine, but something far more exotic than a horse or donkey. Not a zebra, she had seen ones crossed with horses and donkeys ridden by the Brave Companions as well as pure ones in Braavos, both sounded quite different. So she followed the sound and saw the creatures that made it. They were shaggy beasts that resembled mountain goats, but were the size of coursers, they had long tufted tails like a lion's, and Arya noticed they only had one horn which grew from the crowns of their heads.

Unicorns! All the books and sigils show them looking like horses, the only thing those get right are the horns and tail. Maester Aemon said they're extinct, except for maybe on Skagos. Wonder if the Skagosi are here.

Arya went up to the unicorn pen and started to pet one. Running her fingers through its hair felt soothing, even better than a good bear blanket.

“Did somebody give you permission to pet them?” Ayra heard a gruff voice behind her say, she smelled cedar. She turned around and saw a man dressed in garb she had never seen before. He wore a conical hat made of cedar wicker and a woven vest also of cedar painted blue with green lobsters on either side, wrapped around him was an elaborate woolen blanket that worn like a cape.

“No. I'm sorry!” Arya said in a panic.

“Oh you're one of the Stark girls! Then go ahead, your brother is the Stark after all. I am the Magnar!” The wool and cedar clad man said after glancing her sigil.

Jon must be really accepted as one of us if even the Skagosi are calling him a Stark!

“What's a Magnar?”

“A Magnar is a member of my clan, I am the Magnar! Our totem is the lobster, like how yours is the dire wolf.” The Magnar turned around to show off his blanket, it was the same colors as the vest. A large and elaborate lobster drawn from form lines with faces and other motifs hidden took up most of the back, the border of the sigil and blanket were made of abalone shell buttons.

“That's beautiful! Amazing craftsmanship!” Arya said.

“You like it? It's woven from from unicorn wool. All of my people have one, the other chiefs and I had our best weavers work to produce ones for Jon and the Dragon Queen. They had enough time to make ones for you and your siblings as well. When we swear allegiance tomorrow we'll present them.” The Magnar said.

“So you support Daenerys?” Arya asked.

“I don't give two wet shits about who sits on the Iron Throne. But Jon is my Chief and he summoned me, and the Dead will claim us all if we don't act. Besides, only a fool would dare oppose a woman with dragons!” The Magnar confessed.

I admire his honesty, nice to know some of Jon's vassals are loyal.

“I look forward to receiving mine! Nice to meet you!” Arya said and departed. Next she headed to the nearby creek were a banner with a lizard lion flew. The Reeds. As she walked closer she saw there were lizard lions in the creek, she had no idea they were anything more than a sigil for House Reed. A tall Summer Islander was standing at the campfire putting stew ingredients into a cauldron, he had a pet monkey that was helping him. Arya was about to greet him but she noticed a shaggy headed girl about her age, but much shorter, practicing archery on a tree target.

“Archery is my favorite, I'm Arya Stark!”

“And I'm Meera Reed!” The girl said as she turned around.

“You're the one who pulled Bran to safety! We owe you so much!” Arya said thrilled.

“Or whoever Bran is now. I'm not sure what he is anymore. There's a spare bow in my tent, go fetch it and we can practice!” Meera said. Arya went to retrieve it.

 

Chapter Text

When the Wall was breached Tormund and Beric knew they needed to reach Winterfell as soon as they could. Tormund had several Wildlings with him and Beric had what was left of the Brotherhood Without Banners. All of them were on horseback, except for members of the Men of the Frozen Shore who elected to ride their snow bears.

“We are nearing Last Hearth, it's the seat of House Umber!” Beric said.

“Those are some big ass fuckers! I've heard elders say you could always spot an Umber Crow by his shear size, this was back when men became Crows by choice. Never heard of any Umbers joining the Crows in my generation, but I did fuck an Umber woman once! Damn I'll probably never be manhandled half as well as she manhandled me! Absolute beast of a woman. The fun ended when we got caught, her brothers would've tried to kill me if they didn't know who they were dealing with. And that's how I got the name Giantsbane!” Tormund said.

“Thankfully the Army of the Dead is on the prowl, so I'm sure they will forgive you for transgressions.” Beric said.

“I thought you were Giantsbane because you stole a potion from a giantess that made you big and strong, and then you slew the potion deprived giants! Hahaha!” Val said mockingly. She was Mance Rayder's sister by law, a handsome blonde with giant tits, narrow waist, and a long braid that reached her wide hips and full, round ass.

Gods I'd so fuck her if she wasn't Mance's sister by law, or if I had his blessing. Can't ask a dead man, and I don't want to risk dishonoring him. No big deal, I have the big woman waiting for me at Winterfell and she's taller and has larger muscles.

“Every time you ask Tormund the same question he gives a different answer! Perhaps he should have been called Truthsbane instead!” The Great Walrus said mockingly. He was one of the Frozen Shore chiefs, he wore a parka of walrus leather and a mostly wooden walrus mask that featured real ivory tusks.

“You two are just jealous, because I've done more in my life than most could in ten!” Tormund said defending himself.

“I honestly don't care about the truth of the matter, just don't go stealing any of my potions or I'll brew something ghastly for you!” Said Morna, a stout witch with a weirwood mask and dreaded hair, she led one of the tribes.

“Alright here we are, hopefully we can regroup with the Night's Watch!” Beric said, his voice always had a calming element that made even the worst situations feel better.

Last Hearth's gate was shattered and from the cracked stone walls hung tattered banners which displayed the Umber sigil, a giant breaking its chains.

The Dead are already here, the Umbers are fucked!

The Castle proper had a stone base which had a flight of stairs to a tiered oaken structure with steep, curved roofs and beams carved with knot work. As they passed through the nonexistent gate half a dozen wights attacked them, the polar bears made quick work of them. Beric and the rest of the Brotherhood lit their swords by speaking some gibberish as Southroners are prone to do. The flaming swords greatly illuminated the night. Morna conjured a floating orb of glowing yellow light to further the sword's effect.

“Walrus Man! You and the rest of your tribe will guard the outside, those polar bears are too precious to risk being turned and the horses need protection too. Blow your horn if you need us. The rest of the Freefolk and the Brotherhood will investigate the castle!” Tormund commanded.

“I was about to suggest the same thing!” The Great Walrus said.

Everyone else dismounted and walked up the stairs. At the end of the steps were two sculptures of giants carrying lanterns which out but still had smoke trailing from them. Beric reignited the lanterns with his sword. An agonizing moan started to be audible from inside, which confirmed there were at least a few survivors.

Tormund took the lead and said “We enter on the count of three, two one,” BOOM! The first thing seen was a group of wights devouring the corpses of some poor house retainers. When they heard the party enter they charged at them.

Morna cast a spell in the Old Tongue which sent lightening bolts out of her staff's crystal into the Dead, Val decapitated one with her sword and skewered two more, Tormund and the Great Walrus slashed through several with their falchion and battleaxe respectively, and the Brotherhood all lit their swords which caused the few remaining wights to scurry off.

“Look over there!” Val said pointing down the great hall with her blade.

“It seems the the Army of the Dead is seeking a new recruit in Lord Umber!” Beric said then put his free hand on his mouth in disgust.

Lord Umber was chained to his throne, with a dragon glass dagger sticking out of his bleeding chest. His skin was beginning to crystallize into the same glowing blue white the Walkers all had, and he was writhing in agony, his chains rattling with every convulsion.

“I have no love for Kneelers, but to make a physical mockery of a House's sigil is disgusting. And look, its that damn spiral again this time painted with blood!” Said Morna.

I'm just glad I have no sigil for them to mock!

“They're.......trying.......to.......turn.......me.......just.......kill.......me.......before.......it.......happens!”

Lord Umber said in agonizing breath.

“You should give him the Gift, Beric! I don't feel right killing him, our peoples have fought his family for eons, they don't deserve to be ended by a Free man.” Tormund said.

“Your consideration for old enemies is most admirable, Tormund. I prefer not to euthanize children, but sometimes it must be done.” Beric said.

Beric pulled out the knife from Lord Umber's chest, then extinguished his sword. “I'm sorry, you didn't deserve to die like this,” he said as he slit Lord Umber's jugular in a spot that still looked normal. Once Lord Umber stopped breathing for a while Beric reignited his sword and torched the corpse. Finally he wiped off the dragon glass blade and tossed it to Tormund.

“One less Southron cunt!” The Great Walrus said sneering.

“Have some respect, he was only a lad not much younger than some of our sons!” Morna said with clear disdain.

“We need to get moving, perhaps we can find some survivors before it's too late. Or some loot to scavenge!” Val said.

They exited the Great Hall through the nearest door and walked down a corridor. The corridor had more half eaten bodies littered about it. Every footstep brought the creak of cracking bones and smashed in organs. All of the party had a century's of gruesome stories between them, but for Tormund this was somehow much worse than anything else he had witnessed. After fifteen minutes of walking a door become visible in Morna's orb.

“More dead! They've got blue eyes!” A voice said as the door was kicked open.

“I've always had blue eyes! Tormund said both irritated and frightened.

“Oh it's just you!” The voice said. It was Dolorous Edd, the Crow who was made their leader after Jon Snow resigned.

“We were hoping to find you here, we got worried when we saw what happened to Lord Umber!” Said Beric.

“What happened to him? We entered though the other way.” Asked Edd.

“They tried to make him into a Walker, which means one must have been in the area!” Answered Val.

“We took care of him! Ain't you Mance Rayder's widow?” One of the Crows asked.

“Good since only one of us has dragon glass, but I hear Jon Snow ordered more weapons with it to be produced down at Winterfell. And no, you're thinking my sister Dalla. She died in childbirth, Mance was her widower actually. Doesn't matter anymore, we'll all friends know right?” Val answered, a tear rolled down each cheek.

“All is not lost, there is a new Lord Umber. This is Mors!” Edd said pointing to a tall one eyed man wearing a snow bear coat over his armor.

“I was named castellan by my nephew Greatjon when he went to serve Robb Stark in his Riverlands campaign. I never thought I'd ever end up Lord, then again I never thought I'd be happy to see Wildlings or fire worshipers!” Said Mors and everyone had a friendly laugh. Tormund noticed Mors carried the biggest sword he had ever seen on his back.

“Good work killing the Walker! Each dead Walker means gods know how many less wights we'll have to face. We'll scour the castle for anything we can salvage, then we'll ride south for Winterfell. The Men of the Frozen Shore are guarding our mounts outside.” Tormund said.

“And we must remember to burn the dead before we depart!” Said Beric.

 

Chapter Text

A few hours had passed since sunset and Daenerys was preparing for her late night meal with Jon's sisters. Sansa had seemed frigid, but Arya was so sweet and welcoming. Little wonder she was so special to Jon and he always spoke of her so fondly.

Daenerys wore purple silk pajamas and a matching velvet bathrobe over them. She found the room to be most cozy, with a decent bookshelf and wardrobe; a tapestry of a lady with a unicorn hung on one wall and one of hunters pursuing an elk on another. The room was lighted by beeswax candles from the Vale, they were scented with spices and Daenerys figured that would enhance their appetites for mulled wine. There was a knock on the door.

“Come in!” Daenerys said.

The chef came in with the meal on a roller cart. She was a voluptuous older brunette with heaving breasts, wide hips, and a pleasant pooch.

I can tell she's a great cook, certainly isn't afraid to taste what she makes. Gods if I wasn't committed to Jon I'd discretely offer to take her to bed.

“Good evening your grace, my name is Nigella!” The chef said, she had a sensual voice that was deep but still womanly.

“Thank you so much for preparing all this at this hour!” Daenerys said as she took a big sniff of the spread. Besides the mulled wine there was smoked salmon, fresh bread, spreadable goat cheese, duck sausage, and lemon cake for dessert. As Nigella placed the items on the table Daenerys enjoyed a glimpse down her bodice.

“It was my pleasure, I love serving a woman with such exquisite taste!” Nigella said.

“Do tell me about the mulled wine!” Said Daenerys.

“I use a mixture of reds from Dorne and the Arbor respectively, most love one or the other but I find blending them is perfect for mulling. Then there are orange wheels, also from Dorne, Northern honey, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cloves, anise, ginger, marjoram, and cardamom. I have a friend in White Harbor who buys me spices whenever the Ancient Guild of Spicers in port, in exchange I send him fresh game meat.” Said Nigella

The Spicers wanted me dead back in Qarth, imagine their fury if they knew I was closer to gaining my Iron Throne than any Qartheen could have guessed.

“Impressive, that is quite the recipe! Again thanks for this, I'm sure the Stark girls will really enjoy this!” Daenerys said.

“Good night dear, let me know whenever you need anything!” Nigella said then took the roller cart and left. Daenerys used the opportunity to stare at her fat bottom.

All this food looks amazing, but I need to wait for the girls to come.

After a few minutes there was another knock on the door.

“Come in!”

It was Arya. She wore the same outfit she wore at the reception, except she had her cloak off and she was barefoot.

“I've been so exited for this all day! I never thought I'd get to meet a Targaryen woman! Rhaenys and Visenya are two of my favorites! I saw you and Jon fly your dragons earlier, I waved.” Arya said giddily as she sat down.

“Really? I didn't see you.” Daenerys said.

“Probably wasn't the only thing you rode today!” Arya said impishly and winked.

She is a cheeky little thing.

“Where is Sansa?” Daenerys asked.

“I told her she was invited, but she told me she didn't want to go. She doesn't like you. I even told her there would be lemon cake but that didn't change her mind.” Arya said.

“What makes you say she dislikes me? And how did you know you know there would be lemon cake? Jon tells me you're very sneaky.” Daenerys asked then poured Arya a mug of mulled wine.

“She told me to my face she doesn't like you. And I didn't.” Arya said then sucked the mulled wine through the cinnamon stick.

“Well in that case I don't want to dwell on it. More food for us!” Daenerys said, tear rolled down her cheek.

Now that I know Jon adores my squish I don't have to worry about having too much, I love the way he plays with it.

“Did Nigella make this? Jon had a huge crush on her!” Arya asked then spread some cheese on a bread slice and put salmon on top.

“She sure did. He told me his first love was a Wildling woman!” Daenerys said astonished then took a sip of wine.

Daenerys was amazed at just how much Arya resembled Jon. Same expressions, similar build, same gray eyes, her hair was noticeably brown but still dark and had the same wildness. Those two resembled each other more than many full siblings do.

“And he was telling the truth. Nigella was just a silly crush of his, nothing serious. He never told me but I saw the way he looked at her whenever she walked into the dining hall or especially when she left. Didn't stop me from trying to get them together.” Said Arya then popped the whole piece of bread, cheese and salmon into her mouth.

“What did you do?” Daenerys asked as she took a bit of sausage.

“I wrote a few secret admirer poems copying his handwriting. I'm not much of a poet but I don't think he is either. I started doing that when he first talked about Taking the Black, I asked if I could join with him but father said they don't recruit girls. I couldn't bear the thought of Jon going away especially somewhere so dangerous, so I thought if I got him together with Nigella he would change his mind and stay in Winterfell. Plus I thought a good woman would really make him happy, he's always been so insecure and melancholic.” Arya said once she finished chewing then had some sausage.

“Oh my! Your dedication to your brother is admirable, but he wasn't joking when he said you're a crafty little schemer!” Daenerys said and laughed, though she deeply was touched at the measures Arya took for Jon. She helped herself the some bread, cheese, and salmon.

“You should count yourself lucky you ended up with him. Ladies from across the Known World have tried to get in his pants, and you're the one who did! I'll do anything to make him happy and keep him safe, I mean anything!” Arya said as she took another gulp of wine.

“I do, I'm the luckiest girl in the Westeros! Jon told me one time Sansa corrected someone about not being a full brother, and you threw your shoe at her!” Daenerys said then had a drink.

“I warned her, I said by the Gods Old and New behave yourself or I will give you a taste of my shoe! She doubled down so I had to throw it, she lost a baby tooth from that. It doesn't matter whether we share one parent or both, or any, he's still our brother just as much as Bran. He probably didn't tell you what I did when she called him a bastard.”

“Do tell!”

“Are you sure? It's pretty gross.”

“You're only making want to find it out more!”

“Well I sneaked into her bedchamber and poured sour milk all over her bed. Then in a fit of rage I stood on top of her bed, and pissed all over it!”

Daenerys laughed profusely. “He sure didn't tell me that one! That is hilarious! Sansa should have known better than to call him a bastard in front of you!” Daenerys said then took a big gulp of mulled wine.

“Jon was furious with me for that, even more so then when I threw the shoe! He said I took it way to far. Mother and father were even more upset, I had to take extra scripture lessons from Septa Mordane for six months as punishment. I hated that stuffy old cunt but it was totally worth it!” Arya said with a wolfish smirk then took some more food.

“I was terrified of my brother Viserys. So tell me Arya, what have you been up to since Jon left for the Wall?”

“I went to King's Landing with my father when he was Hand, there I took water dancing lessons. I've always loved swords, that's why Jon bought me this!” Arya showed off Needle. “After father was killed I disguised as a boy and joined a Night's Watch recruit caravan, but ended up kidnapped by Sandor Clegane. He may have been my captor, but he taught me so much about how to survive. After that I went to Braavos, which is where I heard many stories about you!” Arya took a slice of lemon cake.

“What were you doing in Braavos?” Daenerys asked with a puzzled look, then got herself some of the cake.

“I joined the Faceless Men. My water dancing teacher was from Braavos, and on the road I met a man who told me to go there. I just wanted to learn how to be a better fighter, but turns out they're just a deadly cult.” Arya responded that popped the whole slice in her mouth.

“My brother would always scare me with stories about the Faceless Men, say they'd kill me if I didn't do as he said.” Daenerys said then had a bite of cake.

“I heard your brother was a cunt. There's a song about him in Braavos about how he deserved getting a molten gold crown, also a few mummer's farces about that. Was he? I saw a few about recent events in Westeros that were totally inaccurate.” Arya said grabbing more sausage.

“Yes. He was. You're don't mince your words! So tell me what did you do when you left the Faceless Men? Have you put any of their skills to good use?” Daenerys said then got more of the bread, cheese, and fish.

“I have! I made good use of the faces to get revenge on the House that murdered my brother and mother. One of the Houses, anyway.” Arya said.

“What did you do?”

“It's pretty nasty!”

“I love nasty revenge! It's the best kind!”

“So I used the face of some random girl to disguise as a servant. I found a few of the Lord's sons and killed them. Then I chopped them up and put them in a meat grinder, then made a meat pie with them. I served it to the Lord and he ate it, but was getting impatient that his sons hadn't shown up yet. I took off the face and revealed who I was, told him he just ate his sons, then slashed out his throat. My mother was killed the same way by one of his men and he ordered it, I thought it was fitting. Then I cut off his face and sore it to host a big dinner with his surviving sons and grandsons, he had a shit ton of them, and poisoned all their drinks. And that was how House Frey met its end!” Arya said then raised her mug.

“Damn you weren't joking! I'll toast to that!” Daenerys said and did cheers with Arya.

“Got the idea from an old First Men legend about the Rat Cook.” Arya said.

“I want to braid your hair! Missandei and I always do each other's hair, I've never been to a hair dresser since I met her!” Said Daenerys.

“She has such lovely hair, you do a good job. But why would you braid mine? I thought the Dothraki only get braids after a victory! I've won no victories.” Said Arya.

“What do you mean you've won no victories? You wanted to become a warrior and you've become a damn deadly one, you wanted to reunite with Jon and you have, and you wanted to avenge your fallen family and you're well on your way with that! That's three victories so far! I am the Khaleesi, I am more than qualified to determine who gets a braid!”

“Alright, I guess I was wrong then.”

Daenerys got up and grabbed a pitcher of water that was on the window sill and poured into the silver wash basin that was on her nightstand. She went over to her hair kit and grabbed a bar of shampoo and the comb Missandei used on her, it was made from phantom tortoise shell. Daenerys treated Missandei's hair with a pick made of teak.

“Come over here and let me wash your hair.” Daenerys said. Arya pulled her chair over to the basin and dunked her head into it. Once it was soaked Daenerys scrubbed it with the shampoo bar then rinsed it thoroughly.

“Love the smell. What is it? Asked Arya.

“Lemongrass.” Answered Daenerys.

“We don't have that in the North!” Arya said.

Daenerys grabbed a towel and dried Arya's head off, then combed her hair. Once she was dried and combed her hair was given three small braids while the rest of it remained loose.

“Now you can wear these!” Daenerys said handing her three silver bells.

“Just like the Dothraki wear! I won't be able to wear them too often, I need to be quite usually, but I'll definitely wear them whenever I can!” Arya said as she accepted the bells.

“One more thing! Here is a book I think you'll enjoy, my adviser and guard Jorah Mormont gave it to me as a wedding gift.” Daenerys reaching a leather bound volume from the shelf and handing it to Arya.

The Women Who Run With Wolves by Septa Pinkola. I've heard of this book, what's it about?” Arya asked excitedly.

“It's a compilation of stories about women historic and legendary who fit what the author describes as 'wild women', women who live on their own terms in touch with their animal instincts. The sort of woman I always aspired to be, and exactly the sort you are. Some of the women who appear in it include Shiera Seastar, Rose of Red Lake, Ellyn Eversweet, the Fisher Queen, Alyssa Arryn, Elenei, Sharra the Witch Queen, Ursula Upcliffe, and Nymeria.” Daenerys answered, Arya was eagerly leafing through the book.

“Thanks, I can't wait to start reading it. Nymeria has always been one of my idols! I even named my dire wolf after her!” Arya said.

“You have a dire wolf? Any relation to Ghost?”

“His sister.”

“Where is she?”

“I'm not sure, I saw her before I returned to Winterfell. She leads a whole pack of wolves now. I'll try and contact her next time I have a dream.” Arya replied.

Can she talk to animals? How does she contact anyone in her dreams? Maybe its like those dreams Jon has, it's terrible when his nocturnal howling wakes me up.

“Thank you so much for coming! When Jon first told me about you I had a feeling I' be fond of you! I have no doubt you helped him become the man he is today!” Daenerys said then stretched out her arms for a hug.

“And thanks for having me! The food and mulled wine was great!” Arya said as they warmly embraced. For such a small woman Arya hugged powerfully, Daenerys was impressed with the strength she displayed. They said their goodnights and Arya left shortly after, Daenerys ended the night greatly relieved after the disaster of her first day in Winterfell.

 

Chapter Text

Queen Cersei had graciously offered Lord Strickland and the other Golden Company officers guest suites in the Red Keep, which they all politely but firmly declined. Sleeping in such luxury while their men slept in tents or the city barracks wouldn't sit right with Strickland, who firmly believed a general should live among his men. Besides it was better for morale and discouraged poor behavior, Gods know what mischief his men would get into behind his back.

“How are your blisters doing?” Asked Watkyn, Harry's squire. Watkyn was a grubby little man with a big nose and pointy, forward facing ears. He was roughly the same age as Harry, if not older, but still a squire and unlikely to ever be knighted.

“Better than usual, Old Top. I purchased an ointment from a stall at the King's Landing market, it seems to have a pleasant numbing effect.

The knight and squire were heading to the captain-general's tent, where the other officers were waiting for them. Now that the company camp was almost done setting up it was time to discuss Cersei's orders and long term strategy. The company men saluted Harry as we walked by them, with him saying hello to each.

“We were wondering when you'd show up! Figured your blisters probably slowed you down! Hahaha!” Said Ser Rolly Duckfield, who had been Harry's squire prior to being knighted. His surcoat was in the company colors and emblazoned with his personal sigil, a white duck on black.

“I was just telling Watkyn they've been doing better since I got a treatment for them! You and Connington never live it down! Haha!” Harry said.

I hope they'll get some blisters one day and shut up about mine!

“So that's what took you so long! Shopping like a whore on her day off! The rest of the officers are inside, let's go on in.” Ser Duckfield said as he opened the pavilion door. Watkyn stayed outside and waited dutifully.

The captain general's tent was a large thing, though not as large as most of the tents the soldiers slept in. It was made from cloth of gold and the tent stakes were pikes, each one topped with the gilded skull of a late captain-general. Inside was a large table with a detailed map of Westeros on top, another one of Essos hung on the wall next to several war trophies both macabre and curious.

“Here I am!” Said Harry. “What all do you have to report so far?”

“The archers' tents are all set up, as is the shooting range. Many are still getting their land legs back but their marksmanship should be back shortly.” Said Balaq, captain of all the archers. Balaq was a Summer Islander with snow white hair in dreads, his feather cloak had green and orange feathers. The archers under his command ranged from across the Known World, fellow Summer Islanders wielded goldenheart bows as did he while Westerosi archers used yew longbows and Essosi ones used a mixture of crossbows and horn bows.

“Glad to hear it, our archers are usually counted as the best in the world and always the most diverse.” Harry said.

“The knights still have to set up their corrals, but once that is finished then they can commence training. I'm sure they will be at the same level as the archers. Once that is done I plan to explore King's Landing as Griff and see what gossip I can gather.” Said Jon Connington. He led the knights and his surcoat was emblazoned with his House arms, red and white griffins on counter charged fields. Some of the knights were exiles from Westeros as was Connington, but most of them were born in Essos and descended from earlier exiles like Strickland while others had no Westerosi ancestry. Griff was Connington's spy persona, a gruff hedge knight in a fox mantle.

“I'm sure Lysono will be pleased to hear your findings!” Said Harry.

“I probably will stay here, for liability reasons.” Connington's ward Young Griff said. He was a handsome youth with hair dyed blue.

“I have spoken with Cersei's Hand and he promised me he will deposit our first pay increment in one week's time, I hope I won't deal with him much he is an unsettling fellow. House Lannister too has an account with the Iron Bank so transferring the funds should go smoothly. However if Cersei is as careless with money as she is rumored to be that could mean trouble for us.” Said the Company's paymaster, Gorys Edoryen. He was a sallow Volantene a black goatee and hair dyed blood red and oiled, he wore a leopard skin cloak.

How irksome must the Hand be to creep even Gorys out?

“Excellent, we certainly have the funds to live comfortably for a week.” Harry said.

“I must say I agree with Gorys, Cersei's debt to the Iron Bank could be a major liability. We all know what happens when clients default on a loan. However we could reach out to them with our long term agenda, but that would be risky. In other news the Targaryen pretender and her paramour have arrived in Winterfell. Her claim doesn't seem to have much support anywhere in the Seven Kingdoms but certainly not up in that icebox.” Said the spymaster Lysono Maar, a Lysene with classic Valyrian features. His fingernails were painted purple and he wore a hooded red robe and dangling earrings of pearls and amethysts.

He better change his whole getup, he may blend in back in Essos but here he's obviously just another Lysene poof with a spy network.

“That is certainly an option to consider. I believe this contract is quite probably the simplest job we've ever signed off on! For the time being all Cersei wants us to do is hold down King's Landing and defend it from the pretender's forces when they invade. If they invade. Cersei elected not to aide the pretender in her fool's errand against the Army of the Dead, she figures let them fight against the Dead and they will be severely crippled if they are victorious. Or the Dead will be if they triumph. Either way she figures that whatever army we'll face will be greatly weakened. I hope she is right, considering the pretender has three dragons –”

“Actually now only two, one of them was killed!” Lysono interrupted.

“That's a relief! Okay two dragons and the whole of the Dothraki and Unsullied, plus the Northmen if she can convince any of them to fight for her, which I'm sure is why she took Ned Stark's bastard as a paramour. Now I have no clue what the Army of the Dead fields, but I'm sure wights can't be that hard to kill. They're already dead once after all. However we also have the entire Iron Fleet and the rest of Cersei's vassals so I think we're in good shape either way.” Harry said.

“King's Landing has been struggling financially ever since Cersei seized the Iron Throne. Perhaps part of why she simply wants us to stay in King's Landing instead of riding North or defending the Riverlands is because our cash will prop up the local economy. Our men will flood the brothels, taverns, markets, maybe even patronize craftsmen, and so on. This will be a boon to all King's Landing residents and may boost Cersei's approval ratings, which seem dismal. Local merchants will certainly like us if we do business with them.” Said Gorys.

“Alright we've planned out what to do up to fighting either army, then what? When can my true self be revealed?” Asked Young Griff excitedly.

“Once the enemy is vanquished would be the ideal time to oust Cersei, her forces should be greatly weakened after the siege. Then you can wash out that silly Tyroshi hair dye and swoop in and we will reveal your identity to the world and give you the Iron Throne, Aegon Targaryen.” Replied Harry proudly.

“Perfect. Two decades of wars perpetuated by the Baratheons, Lannisters, Starks, and now my pretender aunt will make the Lords and smallfolk eager for the crowning of the rightful Targaryen King!” Young Griff said then pounded the pommel of his sword on the table.

“I'll drink to that!” Balaq said as he reached for the wine rack and popped the cork off a bottle of sparkling white and poured everyone a glass.

“To the one true King!” The officers raised their goblets in unison. “Beneath the gold, the bitter steel!”

 

Chapter Text

Yesterday had been a big day for Euron. Not only had he successfully escorted the Golden Company to King's Landing, he also managed to fuck the Queen.

“If you want a whore, go buy one. If you want a Queen, earn her!” She had told him, but he managed to smoothly persuade her that he already earned her. That or deep down inside she was really just a whore with a throne and crown, but Euron didn't give a fuck either way. All that mattered was he fucked the Queen and hopefully soon he could be crowned King.

Euron and Cersei laid in her canopy bed still naked. She was snoring profusely while he stared out the balcony window. Sparrows and other birds were chirping, but the only birds Euron cared for were crows, seagulls, and albatrosses; maybe parrots as well. Any other type of bird was just a singing varmint as far he was concerned. There was a rap on the door.

“Come in!” Euron said. It was Qyburn.

“I have urgent news, please wake the Queen!” Qyburn said.

Euron smacked her bare shoulder. “You have company!”

“Who?” She asked as she got up, then frantically covered her titties with a blanket once she remembered she was naked.

“No need for false modesty, it's nothing a haven't seen before in my Maester days. I have examined many a woman in my day, its all just anatomy to me.” Qyburn said.

Bloke's a fucking deviant!

“What's the matter? Did the Golden Company get dysentery? I hope you know you're the one who will have to deal with that.” Asked Cersei mockingly.

“The good news is no, the bad news is there was a large jail break last night and several prisoners have disappeared. Nobody of importance as far as I know, and most will probably die soon or succumb to recidivism. However roughly half the Iron Fleet has gone missing, it seems they have deserted.” Qyburn said, calm as a dry docked ship.

“HALF OF MY SHIPS ARE MISSING!?!?” Euron said furiously then stormed out of bed and started getting dressed.

“Yes, but at least the remnant crew have proven themselves to be outstandingly loyal. If they didn't abandon you last night they never will!” Qyburn said in an attempt to trivialize, Euron noticed the Hand was taking glances at Cersei's foot which poked out of the sheets.

“Go deal with the problem, Euron. Interrogate the crew who remain, see what they know. I'm going back to sleep!” Cersei said they laid her head back down on her pillow.

“What the fuck you think I'm doing? Hahaha!” Euron asked.

“Remarkable tattoos by the way! Get them in Volantis?” Qyburn said to Euron.

“Thank you, aye got most of them in Volantis.” Euron said. On Euron's chest was a large red eye being crowned by two crows, his back bore the Greyjoy sigil, and one of his arms had a band of three tiger sharks biting each other's tails. All of his other tattoos were arcane veves and staves Euron believed facilitated use of black magic. Few knew of Euron's dabbling with sorcery, and he felt a bitter sense of rivalry with Qyburn because of it.

Qyburn exited the bedchamber and Euron finished dressing. On shore Euron often wore embroidered doublets or Essosi robes, but today he wore his typical sea attire of a loose red shirt, black leather vest, canvas pants, and high collared long coat also of black leather. His finer outfits were ill suited for today's dirty work. Once he got on his boots he rushed down the stairs and to the King's Landing waterfront. Few things could possibly infuriate Euron more than deserters. Complicit crew who didn't leave were one of those things.

Fuck, I can't ask any of my crew! They're all mutes! At least that means they couldn't have been of much use to the deserters. I'll have to interrogate someone on the other ships.

“I was wondering when you'd show up! I tried to –” A Ironborn started to say before Euron struck him with his sheathed sword.

“You're coming with me!” Euron said forcefully as he grabbed the writhing sailor and headed to Silence. Silence was Euron's flagship. All of the crew were mute, lest one of them reveal any of Euron's arcane practices to the world. Most of the ship was painted pitch black, but the decks were a dark red. The figurehead was black iron and depicted a tall, slender, nude woman with her mouth gagged shut and hair floating as if underwater.

“And here I was worried you abandoned me for that brother fucking queen!” A buxom brunette onboard Silence asked, she wore a revealing purple dress.

“Don't worry about that, Falia! I'm sure Queen Cersei won't mind, she'd be a fucking hypocrite if she did! I'm awfully busy at the moment!” Euron said as he dragged the unlucky sailor onboard then down to the bilge of Silence.

The bilge was dank and lit only by whale oil lamps. On the walls several Qartheen warlocks were shackled.

“Why are you doing this?” The sailor asked.

“Did I ask you a question?” Euron asked in return as he punched the sailor in the nose so hard it make a cracking sound. The sailor shook his head and complied as Euron chained him up to a pair of empty shackles.

“Now I'm going to have a little drink, then we're going to have a talk. Use the time to think of everything that happened last night and things should go smoothly.” Euron said as he walked to a large faucet barrel.

Euron grabbed a pewter flagon and filled it with the substance from the barrel. The barrel contained shade of the evening, a inky blue concoction drunk by the warlocks of Qarth. Once the flagon was overflowing Euron turned off the faucet and chugged it down.

Seven hells this bile takes smells foul. Forgot how repulsive the flavor is, first its like rotten fish or meat soaked in ink then it tastes like everything at once.

“You can't let it go to waste like that! That's twice the amount we would ever drink!” One of the warlocks said in protest.

“Shut your stained blue mouth up or I'll pour our whole supply of shade over the deck or worse yet sell it to some third rate wine sink so every grubby drunk and clap ridden whore in this wretched hive can learn your secrets!!! How would you like that Pyat Pree?!” Euron roared then threw his empty tankard at Pyat, it hit his faces and caused a nosebleed that contrasted sharply with his blue lips. Pyat licked as far as he could with his long, blue tongue to clean off the blood and get a taste of any shade drops he could salvage from the tankard.

“Now where were we? Oh yes, finding out what happened to half of my fleet! What major ships are missing?” Euron asked the sailor.

Black Wind, Foam Drinker, Sea Bitch, those are the big ones I saw missing. Might be others.” The sailor said dismissively.

“And when did you find out they were leaving?”

“When I saw them sail –”

“Fuck right you didn't know until then! I don't buy it!” Euron roared as he gave the sailor a blow to the chest and another to the stomach.

“Gaaaahh! Ugh! You wouldn't even let me fin –”

Euron looked the sailor in the eyes and put his hand on his head.

“Gaan Lah Haas!” Euron shouted and shock waves echoed from his mouth causing the sailor to become short on breath and appear exhausted.

“I tried to talk them out of it, but they wouldn't listen. You were already in the Red Keep, but the guards wouldn't let me in and refused to relay the message. They said they'd stab me if I asked one more time!” The sailor said once his breath returned.

“See that wasn't so hard! Why did they desert and where are they sailing to?” Euron asked.

“Not a clue on eith-”

“You're so fucking lucky I don't really have any devices down here I can use on you!” Euron said then put his hand on the sailor's head once again.

“Gol Hah Dov!” Euron shouted and when the shock waves hit the sailor he looked calm and sedated, submissive even.

“They find your leadership unbearable, so they decided to sail to Essos and serve your brother instead. Latest report said the Iron Victory was docked in Meereen!” The sailor said calmly.

Victarian? Haven't seen him since the Kingsmoot! Fuck then I'm sure he'll return my ships and bring his portion of the Iron Fleet to aide me.

“Thank you for your eventual compliance.” Euron said then started walking away.

“Can't I go now?” The sailor asked.

“No, those magic spells done fucked you up for the foreseeable future. Besides many of the spells I've been studying require blood sacrifices to work. So I'm afraid I have no choice but to keep you here with my warlock friends!” Euron said then left the bilge.

 

 

Chapter Text

After nearly two days of vigorous rowing the Foam Drinker neared White Harbor, the largest city in city in the North and the seat of House Manderly. Theon had contacted Lord Manderly to ask if Manderly men could escort Foam Drinker to Winterfell, and Lord Manderly wrote back saying he would be glad to hold a few of his men back to do so. The North always had a bitter resentment of the Ironborn, and Theon's campaign during the War of the Five Kings was still a fresh wound especially since it facilitated the Boltons taking over. Theon was all too aware of that, so he figured if anyone would be willing to make sure he made it to Winterfell unmolested it would be House Manderly. The Manderlys weren't like other Northmen, they were forward thinking and worldly plus they had an affinity for the ocean few mainlanders shared.

“Uncle Dagmer have the sails furled and the dragon head taken down!” Theon said.

“A wise move, seeing Greyjoy sails and an Ironborn figurehead would likely cause a panic!” Dagmer said. Dagmer was a white bearded old salt many called Cleft Jaw because he had an ax scar on his mouth that split his lips into four and his teeth were missing in that area. He wasn't truly Theon's uncle, but had a Greyjoy ancestor.

Good thing my ship only had a dragon head and not a kraken figurehead.

The Foam Drinker passed Seal Rock, a mossy, fifty foot natural tower so called because seals often rest on it. Several were on it at the moment, with their vocalizations and flatulence heard clearly. On the very top of Seal Rock was a crew of archers and several ballistas.

Past Seal Rock they reached the Outer Harbor, where they anchored and were stopped by a customs agent. The customs agent was lean middle aged man with receding hair.

“Welcome to White Harbor, what's your business here?” He asked.

“The merlings swim true!” Theon said, it was the code he was told to use to indicate he was there to meet with the Manderly knights.

“Oi its you Iron blokes! Alright, you may anchor and get off. Ser Marlon has arranged to take you all in a Manderly ship, long ships will draw attention. Your ship will be in good hands if you return.” The customs agent said.

“And that's a big ass 'if'!” Dagmer said wryly.

“All hands on deck!” Theon shouted. “Everyone put on your armor and grab all our weapons, then we'll be getting off and meeting with Ser Marlon.”

“Aye captain!” The crew said in unison. The whole crew was ready in about half an hour. Many mainlanders took a hours to prepare for battle, but the Ironborn favored leather armor and cloth gambesons and some wore chainmail. Theon had ever seen wear a full plate suit was his uncle Victarian, who had no fear of drowning; Theon always wondered whether he bought his suit with the gold price or iron.

The crew got off Foam Drinker and followed the customs agent. A massive wall with watch towers built on a jetty separated the Inner and Outer Harbors, the customs agent signaled the gate guard and the crew passed into the Inner Harbor. From the Inner Harbor the city become visible. One one end was a cyclopean castle surrounded by stone houses. Though Yara had taken Theon to larger cities on the way to ally with Queen Daenerys he still found anywhere larger than Winterfell overwhelming. Pyke seem like the biggest place in the world before he was forced to go to Winterfell, and stone buildings were still alien to him.

“Look down yonder, that ship is flying the Manderly banners!” Dagmer said pointing to a dromon galley with blue green sails. The figurehead was an oak mermaid blowing an actual conch not unlike the one Yara owned, the tits were large as figurehead ones usually are and had nipples made of pink tourmaline. Such brazen sensuality always made Theon uneasy.

Father lied when he told me the Iron Islands have the greatest ships in the world. We might be the greatest mariners, but we aren't the greatest shipwrights. Or perhaps he was merely delusional as he was with so many other things.

Manderly knights wore silver colored plate armor with surcoats emblazoned with the House Manderly sigil, the Merling King on blue green. Their helmets were as fashionable as any worn in the South, they were adorned with crests of nautical creatures both real and fantastic. Instead of lances they wielded tridents and their swords were curved falcatas. The soldiers wore scale armor and murmillo style helmets.

A tall, stout knight approached Theon. His helmet resembled the Merling King's head with a seashell crown and bearded visor.

“Greetings, I am Ser Marlon, Commander of House Manderly forces and castellan of New Castle!” The man said as he opened his visor to reveal a friendly face with a well trimmed gray beard and eyes the same color.

“And I'm Theon!” Theon said then noticed Marlon's trident had the dark smoky color only Valyrian steel has.

“You like it? This is Maelstrom, my House's ancestral weapon and only known Valryian steel trident. Have you read Fall of the Trident?” Marlon said proudly brandishing Maelstrom.

“Never heard of it!” Theon answered.

Fall of the Trident is a history written by a maester who served my house that tell the story of how we acquired it. It originally belonged to a Valyrian dragon lord from the Age of Heros named Arkantos, he fought in a fruitless war to expand the Freehold and angered the gods. As a result he was forced to wander across Essos and eventually found himself in Westeros, where he had countless adventures in Dorne, the North, and the Iron Islands. Eventually he did return to Valyria, just as the Doom was happening. His son Kastor settled in Westeros and become close friends with the founder of my House, and inherited the Trident after Kastor's death.” Marlon said proudly.

If Arkantos was in the Iron Islands how come I've never heard of him?Either that book is a crock of eel shit or Ironborn history lies by ommission.

Sounds....interesting!” Theon said.

“There's a copy in my cabin! I'd be glad to give it to you!”

“I'd like that!” Theon said.

Marlon pounded Maelstrom to get both his and Theon's men's attention. “Our kingdoms may have had many a bloody difference, but that's all water under the bridge. Today we sail to Winterfell and fight for the Living! Winter is here and what is dead may never die!”

“What is dead my never die!”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Ichthys Cove was far more luxurious than Ellaria had expected, it was located a sizable island with a dock and two story limestone manse overlooking the sea. Ellaria had wondered how Yara acquired such a hideout, but soon realized she almost certainly killed the original owner or at very least physically removed them.

Gods I love an assertive woman!

Ellaria was in the guest bathroom, she had just finished bathing and dressing and was now trimming her nails. Her outfit was red cotton shift with a white and gold floral pattern, Ellaria preffered silk but figured she wouldn't be wearing it for long anyway. Tonight she and Yara would continue what Euron had so rudely interrupted. Once she was finished with her nails she left the guest bathroom and headed down the hall to the master boudoir. The manse was decorated with a queer mix of art from the previous owner and trophies from Yara's raids, everything was quite dusty since the manse was seldom occupied.

Ellaria knocked firmly on the master bedchamber door.

“Come in!” Yara's muffled voice said.

The boudoir was covered in Myrish carpet in addition to rugs made of such exotic creatures as tigers, leopards, and zebras. On the walls hung shields from the various ports Yara had sacked, erotic paintings, and other curios like a red mask of a grimacing creature with a cucumber like nose. Qartheen incense filled the air and Ellaria took a deep nasal breath to savor the aroma. A cedar log was burning in the fireplace, the mantle was decorated with an elephant tusk carved with a scene depicting an orgy where women outnumbered men five to one.

Those are the best kinds of orgies! Too much dick puts a damper on things, but you can never have too much pussy!

In one corner there was a divan with cushions of purple velvet. Next to it was a cherry wood liquor cabinet and Ellaria opened it and poured two glasses of Dornish red.

“My collection has wines and liquors from across the Known World and you choose the same old same old? I thought you were all about trying new things!” Yara teasingly said as she walked into the boudoir.

Yara wore a sleeveless gray shirt with matching short pants that showed off her pleasing muscle structure, Ellaria found her practical and rugged tomboy attire more alluring. Inked on Yara's forearms and calves were mermaids giving lordly kisses to nude human women, each pairing came from a different region with Westeros, the Summer Islands, Free Cities, and Yi Ti represented. Ellaria had glimpsed upon the arm ones during the jail break, but now she finally got to see the art up close and personal in addition to the leg ones. Yara's shirt also exposed her collarbones which had scythes tattooed on them.

“Trust me, I looooooove sampling new things! But sometimes a bit of familiarity helps in new surroundings!” Ellaria said and had a drink of wine, she slurped it loudly.

“Feel free to have that second glass, I'm a rum slut!” Yara said as she pulled out a bottle of Stros M'kai and yanked off the cork with her teeth. She looked Ellaria in the eye lustfully and swirled her tongue around the bottle's neck then inserted the whole neck in her mouth and took a big gulp. Not to be outdone, Ellaria started lapping her wine with her tongue like a dog.

“Nothing tastes better than a good vintage after a few days at sea drinking nothing but grog and weeks before that drinking nothing but vinegary water.” Ellaria cooed.

“Oh I know of something that would!” Yara said as she sat down next to Ellaria.

“Your lips?” Ellaria asked.

“Which pair?” Yara countered and winked. She planted a fat kiss on Ellaria and inserted her tongue, it squirmed like an eel in Ellaria's mouth and she could taste the rum. Ellaria returned the favor and soon their tongue were entwined in a battle for dominance. After a few moments of tongue Ellaria grabbed hold of Yara's muscular ass while Yara clawed her nape and arms with her freshly trimmed nails. Both sensations felt like seven heavens to her and she could feel her pearl gradually starting to harden and swell.

“I think the real question is who will ride and who will be ridden! I haven't saddled up in ages!” Ellaria moaned and licked her lips, smacking them loudly.

“Nor I!” Yara said. “May the strongest lady win!” They resumed necking and started to tear each other's clothes off. Hearing the fabrics rip excited Ellaria and she was ecstatic when her breasts and Yara's were freed. The contrast between her olive breasts and brown nipples against Yara's fair and pink ones was magnificent sight to behold.

Yara grabbed a handful of Ellaria hair and started pulling it, Ellaria countered by grabbing Yara's tit and pinching it.

“I love when my hair is pulled like that, you really thought you could subdue me that way? Good thing I washed it earlier!” Ellaria said and cackled.

“Worth a try! How about this?!” Yara said then bit Ellaria and sucked on her shoulder.

Gods that's going to leave a gorgeous mark!

When Ellaria started getting bored she let go of Yara's tit, grabbed the second glass of wine, and poured it all over her own tits.

“Drink up, you thirsty sea bitch!” Ellaria demanded. Yara instantly freed her mouth from Ellarias shoulder and licked all the wine clean off her tits, chest, and belly, then started sucking on her nipples. Ellaria purred at the feeling of Yara's cold tongue against her warm torso then at the unbelievable feeling of another woman sucking her tits.

“Damn you're good! I forgot how good it feels to have my titties sucked by someone who actually has titties!” Ellaria said and giggled. She ran her fingers through Yara's hair and started to pull like Yara did to her, paired with scratching her back.

“Thanks for the drink, I hadn't had a titty in my mouth since I was in Volantis on my way to meet the Dragon Queen! Your turn now!” Yara said eagerly then pried open Ellaria's smirking red lips and shoved her tit into her mouth.

Ellaria sucked like a whirlpool and Yara held her to prevent her from escaping, with her hand she slipped a few fingers inside Yara. Feigning submission while plotting dominance moves was one of Ellaria's favored nocturnal activities. An arm wriggled free and Ellaria used it to rip off Yara's pants. So Yara grabbed her and flipped her on top and tore off the rest of Ellaria's gown. Now the pair were stark naked and meant business.

“I'll make you wail like a siren!” Ellaria said.

“Hahaha! I doubt you've ever heard a siren! You really are prickly puta!” Yara laughed.

“You speak Rhoynish? You clever little tart!” Ellaria purred.

“Enough to order a drink and negotiate prices with whores! I can also do that in Ibbenese, trade talk, Summer Tongue, Ghiscari and both forms of Valrian!” Yara said teasingly.

“I adore a cunning linguist!” Ellaria said, she glanced down at Yara's crotch and saw her lush bush was dyed blue and she had a dolphin tattooed on her hip. Ellaria's was black and she kept it well trimmed, one of the many tasks she did in order to prepare for the current merry making.

Seven hells I need to dye mine!

In a heat of passion Ellaria grabbed a handful of blue bush and yanked it, throwing Yara back first onto the divan. With both hands Ellaria pried both Yara's firm legs apart which exposed and open her juicy clam and Ellaria gave it a few hearty slaps. After a quick stretch Ellaria pressed her clam against Yara's and the started to grind against one another, Yara's thighs gripping onto Ellaria's hips.

“I'm glad we can agree on how to get warmed up!” Said Yara.

As their clams rubbed together both grew more wet and started to make a slooshing sound as their four lips intermingled. Their pearls grew and hardened as they crossed paths with every stroke, Ellaria hoped this appetizer would make Yara hunger for the main course.

“How'd you get a blue bush anyway? I want one!” Yara asked forcefully.

“I'll only tell you if you let me ride!” Yara said then used all her strength to switch their positions. Ellaria “accidentally” rolled onto her belly, which prompted Yara to bite both of her round ass cheeks as she inserted a few fingers into Ellaria's clam. The biting sensation paired nimble fingers was near orgasmic, as Ellaria neared climax Yara stopped everything to lick her fingers clean and start spanking.

Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack!Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack! Smack!

Each strike was more pleasurable than the last, Yara alternated between striking the left cheek with her left hand and the right one with her right. The sound was amazing too, had an almost rhythmic quality as if Yara were the percussionist in a minstrel troupe. Once Ellaria's cheeks were good and rosy Yara stopped and laid spread eagle on the divan.

“Alright time for dinner! Hope you like shellfish!!” Yara said with command.

“Of course I do! My favorite thing to eat is a toss up between that and sausage!” Ellaria said with glee.

“Start off by smacking it like you did before we started shearing. I loved that!” Yara demanded and tapped her clam with the palm of her hand. Ellaria complied and have her clam a few good slaps which helped get the juices flowing. She inserted her finger and started easing it in and out of the smooth, pink folds.

“Stop being coy and eat up!” Yara said with a scold.

“Aye aye captain!” Ellaria said as she saluted and gave her tits a shake.

She got on the divan belly first and started to lick Yara's clam. The juices had a delicious savory taste and Yara enhanced it by grabbing the bottle of wine off the table and pouring over the lips. Never before had Ellaria tasted such an exquisite pairing of flavors and she eagerly lapped and slurped up the rare cocktail. Ellaria swayed her forehead to tickle it with blue bush.

“Yeah suck me dry! I love hearing that sound! Fuck yeah, just like that! Perfect!” Yara said in a sultry moan.

Once the wine was gone Ellaria returned her fingers and started licking the clam in a Z formation. Her tongue entwined with the inner lips then flicked against the nub and then rinse and repeat. Any juices that came out were quickly slurped away.

“Doing good, now reeeeeeally go for it! Do your nastiest! Yes! Keep on! Don't stop! You're fucking Maester of muff!” As Yara said this her entire clam was inside Ellaria's mouth. She loved the feeling surrounding her lips with a whole clam and sucking the folds with a load smacking noise. From time to time Ellaria dared to insert her tongue inside and brush against the Yara's internal walls. Yara's legs squeezed Ellaria ever more firmly and Ellaria was thrilled when her hair started getting pulled once more.

“Fuck! I think I'm gonna blow soon! Don't stop until I let go!” Yara said and moaned with increasing vigor. Soon she was in the throws of orgasm and cream gushed into Ellaria's mouth, the perfect dessert.

“Gods that was amazing! You're as experienced as I hoped! Wait just a moment!” Yara said then stood up and walked to the wall. On her back was a the Greyjoy sigil written with the phrase “I Do Not Sew” and one of her ass cheeks had a pink starfish tattoo while the other had a scar which Ellaria thought went nicely with Yara's other ones.

“If I'm a Maester then too bad you don't have a chain for for me! What are you doing?” Ellaria asked as she licked the cream and juices off her fingers and lips. Yara pulled off the long nosed mask and tied it around her waist.

“You!” Yara answered as she turned around and the red nose pointed at Ellaria like a massive boner. She grabbed the jar of aromatic oil from the fireplace mantle, poured it onto her hand, the rigorously stroked the mask as if she was wanking a cock. Once the nose was slathered it was glistening like a diamond. “Time to ride you like a Khaleesi! Bottoms up!” Yara said.

Ellaria got into the Dothraki position, on her knees and elbows with her ass in the air. Her clam was still primed and her ass still had a pleasant leftover sting.

“Giddyup! Ride em Khal!” Ellaria said as Yara prepared to mount. Yara grabbed Ellaria's hair like reins and penetrated. The mask felt heavenly inside of Ellaria, and the lubricant had a tingly quality that greatly enhanced with every thrust.

“Faster! Faster!” Yara said as she smacked Ellaria hindquarters. Ellaria swayed her pelvis backwards and forwards which made the mask's thrusts smoother and faster, she started moaning as it grew particularly intense.

“Oh yes! Fuck yes! Aaaaahhhhh!” Ellaria moaned as she climaxed and soaked the nose of the mask. Yara dismounted, unharnessed the mask, and inserted the nose into her mouth to suck off the broth of lubricant and Ellaria's wetness.

“Damn that's tasty! I'm an avid clam connoisseur. You'll definitely have to take charge next time, I get bored playing the same role too much!” Yara said.

“As do I, variety is the spice of life. I'm no pillow princess!” Ellaria purred. The two climbed back on the divan and spooned, Yara was the big spoon. “So how did you get a blue bush?”

“Back in Meereen I fucked a Tyroshi sellsword, can't remember if he was a Second Son or Storm Crow, but he gave me ideas.” Yara answered.

“How?” Ellaria asked.

“You must have never seen anyone from Tyrosh. All free citizens dye their hair all sorts of unnatural colors, in the case of the sellsword it was blue. Blue hair, blue beard and mustache, and blue bush as well. So after we fucked and cleaned up he dyed it for me and gave me a bottle of dye. The hot dye down there feels amazing, its like pouring melted candle wax!” Yara continued.

“I love hot wax, we forgot to do that!” Ellaria said.

“Hey there's always next time!” Yara said.

“This is true. Now I regret trimming my bush, in Dorne that's what we do but I think now I'll grow it out and you can dye it for me.” Ellaria said then reached behind her to grab Yara's bush, she ran her fingers through it and gave it a firm tug.

“I'd love to! Ever since I did that I've gotten nothing but compliments, makes encounters with me more memorable. I always stand out in bathhouses now.” Yara said evidently enjoying her bush being played with.

“As if your skin art didn't make you stand out enough!” Ellaria teased.

“Not many women have so much, but my skin is pretty bare for a sailor. My uncles are both covered in ink, some of my men are too.” Yara said and shrugged.

“I envy those women on your limbs, I've always wanted to fuck a mermaid!” Ellaria said pointing to Yara's arms.

“As have I! Great way of luring out interested ladies, let's them know I'm all about that life,” Yara said doing the V sign, "and any man that doesn't appreciate such art isn't one who'd want to fuck me so I come out on top either way!”

“Just think! Next time we fuck we'll be in Dorne celebrating our triumphant return! You should invite your whole crew to join us, or at least that ginger girl!” Ellaria said ecstatically.

“Sorry but I don't fuck my crew, it makes things complicated. Half my men want to fuck me, but I've made it very clear I won't. Go ahead and fuck any of them, I ain't a jealous type but I don't compromise my rules. However I wouldn't bother trying to seduce Helga Hagensdóttir, she doesn't like clam. Only sausage for her!” Yara said sternly.

“They all say that before they try it! Once they've had their first taste they can't get enough!” Ellaria said mischievously.

“Now that's a load of barnacles. Most ladies have no desire to try clam in the first place, Helga is most ladies. Queen Daenerys on the other hand is certainly not most ladies, I wanted to seduce her but we were surrounded by advisers and she couldn't accept the offer like that. That ship has sailed and now she's taken. Can't say I blame her, Jon Snow is a fine work of art!” Yara said.

“That he is! I have a weakness for beards, one of the few things a woman cannot offer. Even a cock can be substituted, but not a beard. I too tried to seduce our Queen, she seemed most flattered and blushed.” Ellaria purred.

“Who wouldn't be flattered by you? Gods I'd love for either of them to join us, but I don't think they're into that sort of thing.” Yara said.

“Why not both? Alas, you're right. I'm sure neither would be up for joining us, or letting the other do so.” Ellaria said and sighed. The pair soon stopped talking and focused on cuddling. Both dozed off within an hour.

 

Chapter Text

After leaving Daenery's bedchamber Arya went to her own, took off her bells, got naked, and crawled into bed and started reading her new book. She leafed through the volume then settled on a chapter about a monkey woman from Yi Ti and started to read it, but her eyes grew heavy so she put the book in her nightstand and put out her oil lamp.

Once her body was fully dormant her mind crossed the threshold beyond the wall of sleep to the Dreamlands. She found herself hovering above the ground in a regal dress she would only wear if given as a gift. Needle was still by her side, thank the gods old and new, so she started to prowl the unnatural and fluid landscape. The sky was smoky but had many rainbows, thunder rolled and lightening struck from an uncomfortable distance. Arya was too smart to hover much higher then a few feet off the ground, the sky was peppered with flying vessels, space whales, and energy dolphins.

Statues of alien deities littered the desolate plains and it was populated by bizarre creatures. Some she had only seen in menageries and traveling fairs like zebras and giraffes, others were far stranger things she had only read or heard about but doubted their existence. As she hovered she witnessed a giant lizard with a fin on its back and saber like claws who walked on two legs chasing down a wolf like creature with the stripes of a tiger that carried a baby in a belly pouch. Arya swooped in to intervene on the striped creature's behalf but a large salamander blocked the bipedal lizard and ignited its body, causing the lizard to flee the other way. The terrible lizard instead begun to pursue a herd of cattle sized creatures that resembled a hybrid of mice and pigs.

Eventually Arya crossed paths with a she wolf that resembled Nymeria and she warged into her and found prowling four legs much swifter then hovering. Soon she reached an abandoned tower were a black dragon was mating with a white wolf. They stopped their love making when they saw her and greeted her. The two wolves started grooming each other, she licked his fur until it started to shed. In place of bald patches were silver scales and furled wings.

“Summon your pack, O Queen of Wolves!” The dragon told her. Arya let out a massive howl at the bloody red moon, which had a face not unlike a Heart Tree and appeared to seamlessly shift from waxing, full, to waning and back. A whole herd of wolves appeared on the horizon, rushing to her and they are started to howl in unison.

Next the statues became animated and started to attack the dragon and white wolf, and Arya's pack charged to their defense. The wolves bit the statues but it had no effect, but the dragon breathed fire and the white wolf followed suit and scorched the statues to soot covered rubble. Just as that had happen lightening struck the tower and fell in their direction.

“Arya! Arya! Wake up!” A familiar voice said.

Arya woke up and found herself face first in a puddle of drool on her pillow.

Shit I'm naked. Good thing only my head is exposed.

Jon was looking over her, with his hand on her shoulder which thankfully was covered in several layers of quilts and furs.

“I was just contacting Nymeria!” Arya said as she discretely wrapped bottom layer of covers around herself.

“I figured as much, you were snarling the way I've only heard dire wolves do. So you get warg dreams too, huh?” Jon asked.

“Yes, I've had the dreams for years and I learned how to actually skin change in Braavos. So far I've entered cats, birds, and rodents, I even managed to enter a monkey briefly but it kicked me out of its skin pretty quickly.” Arya responded.

“That's incredible. I've only been able to enter Ghost on a few occasions, which is useful since he's nearsighted and often needs guidance. Dany and I are holding court soon, a few houses are actually going to swear vassalage to her. You're invited to come. On your hope chest is a dress Dany bought you but forgot to give you last night. She didn't know you preferred pants. You really made her happy last night, I can tell she's taken a liking to you.” Jon said.

“I enjoyed my time with her as well. There aren't many women who I can relate to, Brienne was probably the first. When I first saw Daenerys I thought she was so beautiful and glamorous, no way would I have much in common with her; turns out the mummer shows about her are totally wrong but the songs about her got it right. I'm really happy for you Jon, she's exactly the kind of woman I always hoped you would get yourself!” Arya warmly said with a bright ear to ear smile.

“Sometimes I wonder how I ended up with her, the whole thing happened so fast. Almost as if we were walking on the shore to get to know each other one moment then next thing we knew were were – um never mind.” Jon said and blushed.

“Fucking, sticking her with the pointy end!” Arya said impishly. “You already told me you two have, no need to pretend otherwise.”

“You always were a blunt one. I'm just glad one of my sisters likes Dany. Hopefully she'll grow on Sansa.” Jon said.

That's never happening! Sansa is too jealous and much too prideful to admit she's wrong about anything. Maybe she'll put on airs at least, hopefully.

“I'm sure she'll come around.” Arya said then bit her lower lip.

“Alright I need to head to the Great Hall, see you soon!” Jon said then walked out. Once the door was shut she got out of bed and locked her door. Then she looked at the dress on her hope chest. It was a dark silver color with the bodice and bottom of the skirt forest green, the hem, neckline, and sleeves were trimmed with fur.

It's just like the one in my dream! How can this be?

Before getting dressed Arya did her morning stretching routine. After she was finished she put on a chemise and stockings then the dress. She always preferred pants, which she felt were far superior in terms of comfort and ease of movement. Endless scolds from her mother and Septa Mordane only enforced her desire to wear pants. “Who gets to decide what's proper?” Arya would taunt them. “If it was proper to wear a codfish on you head would you do it?” They would never answer. However this dress actually felt good to wear.

After she was fully dressed she noticed there was also a cameo choker with her merwolf sigil, Jon must have told Daenerys that was her personal sigil. There was also a cashmere shawl the same shade of green as the bottom of her skirt so she tied that on after putting on the cameo. She grabbed her three silver bells off her nightstand and proudly put them in her three braids, then finally she attached Needle's sheath to her belt and left her room.

Her new dress greatly impeded Arya's speed, though she rushed through the hall and down the stairs as quickly as the skirt permitted. She hadn't worn a dress since Braavos, where she needed to blend in and the Faceless Men sought to strip a girl of Arya Stark. When she reached the Great Hall she burst through the door, causing all eyes to briefly be on her.

“I was hoping you'd come! I saved a seat for you!” Daenerys said, tapping the empt seat next to her. On her other side Jon sat, next to him was Sansa and next to her was BrienneMissandei sat next to the seat reserved for Arya, she wore her hair in a large puff and had a butterfly brooch on her shoulder.

“Is it true you speak twenty languages?” Arya asked Missandei as she sat down.

“Not quite. Nineteen. Shh.” Missandei whispered than signalled Arya to be silent.

“Oh right.” Arya whispered.

“Now that we are all gathered the court will commence!” Jon said then called everyone to order with a gavel pound.

The Skagosi walked up. The Magnar was present, as were another man in a red and black blanket with puffins and a woman whose blanket depicted a tree covered in faces like a many faces Heart Tree without any branches. All wore their cedar hats and copper jewelry. Skagosi warriors were armed with crossbows and dragonglass spiked clubs, their armor consisted of elk hide tunics and leggings with breastplates and grieves of sewn together cedar slats with faces and other motifs painted on them. Most impressive were their helmets, brightly painted solid cedar covering the entire head except for a slit for the eyes, the visor doubled as a grotesque mask, their crests of beasts such as ravens, wolves, orcas, bears, and creatures Arya failed to recognize.

“I am the Magnar, Chief of the Magnars. This is the Crowl, Chief of the Crowls, and the Stane, Chief of the Stanes. The Skagos Islands swear our vassalage to the Stark and the Targaryen!” The Magnar said as the rest bent the knee in unison.

Sansa must be pissed he called Jon the Stark! Arya chuckled quitely.

“Some of my brothers in the Watch were Skagosi. Good men and fierce warriors, all of them. I understand your people are pretty isolated from the North so coming all this way to swear vassalage means the world to me!” Jon said.

“I must confess I cannot find the Skagos Islands on a map, but I can tell by looking at you that I fear having you on the other side of a battlefield! I look forward to fighting with you!” Daenerys said. Most of the audience seemed to strongly disapprove.

Sansa always said the weirdest shit about the Skagosi, like that they ate people, fucked giants and lied about having unicorns. Maester Luwin laughed at the first two claims.

“Your honesty and enthusiasm is well taken. To symbolize our service we have a gift we will unveil in the courtyard after this session. And presents for each of you!” The Magnar said. All the Skagosi returned to their table.

The Manderlys appeared. All of them wore their blue green House colors and had jewelry with nautical motifs. They had about ten knights with them. Arya never forgave Lord Manderly for his rude rejection of her offer to become a squire for them.

“I am Ser Wylis Manderly, and I am here to speak on behalf of House Manderly. My father is in no fighting shape, and my cousin Marlon is on his way with the rest of our knights. Last I heard Marlon may even be bringing extra forces. We have been loyal to House Stark for as long as we've called the North our home. We were happy to hear that you swore vassalage to Queen Daenerys, Westeros has always prospered when the dragon and dire wolf were close. So we affirm our service to the Warden of the North and pledge allegiance to Queen Daenerys!”

Wylis was a rather fat man with a walrus mustache. His wife was quite plump as well, though his two daughters were much thinner. They were blonde except for daughter who dyed her hair green and their lips were painted the same color as their sequined dresses.

“I am grateful for your support, Ser Wylis. Your father was most gracious to host us after the Meeting of the Queens, the Merman's Court was a sight to behold. I was always told that you were an enlightened house, now I know that is true.” Daenerys said.

Next House Reed and their vassals appeared. Arya waved at Meera, she was happy to have met her and enjoyed their target practice. Her father had long hair and wore a tunic of shadow cat fur, the only thing that indicated he was a Reed was the lizard lion torque he wore and boots and belt from such leather, he was holding a tiny weirwood in a glazed clay pot. All but one of the Crannogmen was as tall as or shorter than Arya, that Summer Islander she had seen in their camp was also present and he towered over them all. His monkey and parrot were present, causing him almost as much attention as his feather cloak.

“I am Howland Reed, Lord of the Neck. Ned was my closest friend and it would be an honor to serve the heir of his legacy. My House does not have a Godswood, instead we raise small trees in pots. Here is one of them, so the Old Gods may watch over you wherever you go.” Meera's father said then put the tree on the table. Everyone looked when he said his name. Arya had heard many say that nobody had seen him for years. She recalled her father stayed touch and even remembered him writing Howland a letter shortly before his execution, maybe the last letter he ever wrote.

“Thank you Lord Howland. Father always spoke highly of you, said he owed his life to you and by extension so do my siblings and I. This gift means a lot to me!” Jon said.

"And Queen Daenerys, I've heard you lead your army to war. Sounds like you could use some armor, if you stop by the Reed tents you can get measured by my armorer for a suit of leather armor. From lizard lion, it's light, tough, and decidedly appropriate for a dragon lady." Howland said.

"Not only have you sworn vassalage to me, you have demonstrated both generosity and concern for my safety! I would love a suit of armor from you, you have proven yourself a worthy banerman!" Daenerys said smiling.

“Now my ward would like to have a word with you if he may.” Howland said.

“He may!” Daenerys said. The Summer Islander stepped forward.

“Thank you your grace. My name is Kulungu Waters. My squire has something for you. Jovan!” Kulungu said then clapped his hands.

His monkey walked up to Daenerys holding a small wooden box and a leather pouch. Daenerys did her lovely smile as he approuched. Jovan climbed on the table and opened the box and pulled out a necklace with beads of various woods and three dragon heads of ruby, emerald, and sapphire respectively.

“Thank you, this is delightful! You could be my long lost cousin with your hair and eyes!” Daenerys said as she put the necklace. Jovan's fur was silver and he had big purple eyes. Next he opened the pouch and handed her a handful of chickpeas.

“So kind of you! Can you give some to my friend over there? Garbanzos are her favorite!” Daenerys said and pointed to Missandei. Jovan nodded walked over to Missandei.

“I am gracious for such a kind gift, I don't eat meat and finding food here has been difficult.” Missandei said as she accepted the chickpeas. Jovan returned to Kulungu.

“Your grace I too have come to swear my sword in vassalage and to serve you in all wars to come, if you will accept it!” Kulungu said.

“Why ever would I not?” Daenerys asked in a perplexed tone.

“I am a bastard of the Usurper, Robert Baratheon. My mother is a prominent businesswoman in King's Landing, when my father died she had me sent away to the Neck to be fostered by Lord Reed. Cersei started having all of his bastards killed, even babies were torn from their cribs, so she sent me to the Neck where she knew nobody would look and it had the bonus of similarity to the Summer Isles where she is from. I've never been there.” Kulungu said. Daenerys seemed disturbed.

“Ah yes, I believe I have done business with your mother. Very classy lady!” Tyrion said, he was sitting next to Missandei.

“And why would the Usurper's son son swear vassalage to me?” Daenerys asked, her friendly tone with Jovan all but gone.

“My father was not a good king. Or father for that matter. He never wanted to rule and it showed. Now his widow Cersei rules, and her lust for power spells doom for us all if the Night King doesn't. Speaking of which Lord Reed has always taken the threat of the Night King seriously, he knew that is the real threat. You and Jon are the only leaders who understand that. And Jon, it would be an honor to fight with you side by side as our ancestors did!” Kulungu said.

“Ancestors?!” Jon said baffled.

“I believe he means your parents, in most Summer Islander languages the counterpart for 'ancestor' means anyone you're a descendant of.” Missandei said.

“Yes! That is exactly what he meant! He wants to fight with Jon as Robert and Ned fought together. Isn't that right, Kulungu?” Howland said, he seemed disapproving.

“Yes, it is.” Kulungu said sheepishly.

“Very well!” Daenerys said. “You have made your case, it seems you have excellent motivation for serving me even if its driven by hate of my opponents and not love of me. I now see no reason why I shouldn't trust you, you have been most forthright with your identity. Should you prove your mettle in the field I will reward you accordingly. You may now bend the knee!”

“Long may you reign!” Kulungu's parrot said.

Kulungu bent the knee. Just as he got up a pair of guards burst in the door holding an unshaven man in grubby winter travel clothes. Bran was present.

“This man has come in wanting to speak with you. It's Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer!” One of the guards said. Everyone in the room looked at Jaime in shock.

 

Chapter Text

Seldom had Jaime sensed fear that even neared the amount he felt when he looked his sister in the eye and told her he was riding North. She had promised Daenerys she would send the Lannister forces, only to renege and decide to keep them all in King's Landing. This greatly offended Jaime, who saw the threat of the Dead for what is was and he decided he would fight for the Living whether Cersei approved or not. He stormed off, got on the first Braavosi ship headed to White Harbor, and then bought a horse and rode to Winterfell.

After days of riding along snow covered roads and camping off road to avoid unwanted attention he reached Winterfell. His beard had fully grown in and his travel clothes were dirty from being worn for the past week, so he was able to get through the gates without any hassle. Last time he was in Winterfell he was dressed in his Kingsguard armor and surcoat, now he looked like a transient beggar and nobody seemed to recognize him.

“Hello, I've been expecting you.” A monotone youth in a wheelchair said.

Impossible! How is he still alive after that fall?

“Bran? Is that you? I can explain everything, my deepest apologies!” Jaime stuttered in a panicked tone.

“I was Bran Stark last time you saw me. I am something else now. No need to explain anything, I know why you did it. You were protecting your family, nothing wrong with that. There is nothing to forgive, thank you for doing it.” Bran said.

“Thank you?” Is he playing some kind of mind game?

“Seven hells did that fall take your mind along with your mobility? This isn't the reaction I would have predicted in the least!” Jaime said.

“You put me both exactly where we needed to be.” Bran said.

Two Winterfell guards showed up and interupted. “That's the Kingslayer! Hand over your weapon, you're under arrest, we're taking you to the Great Hall so the punishment for your crimes will be determined!” Jaime complied and handed him his sword so the guards could handcuff him.

At least I won't be wasting any time before seeing Jon and Daenerys.

“Off you go, Oath Breaker!” One of the guards said and struck him in the back with a billy club. The guard was not particularly strong and Jaime had a high pain tolerance, but he picked up the pace nonetheless.The guards kicked up the entrance to the Great Hall and everyone stood up and looked on with shock and disbelief. One of the guards handed Jaime's sword to the Unsullied captain.

“This man has come in wanting to speak with you. It's Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer!” The other guard said. Jaime was marched right up to Daenerys and Jon. Behind them were what appeared to be a Kingsguard of her own, he recognized Ser Jorah Mormont but the rest appeared to be Essosi or from Sothoryos. They all wore white surcoats and shields, both charged with a personal sigil. Jorah had his black bear, one had a red lamb carrying a shepherd crook, one had a purple basilisk, there was a green nymph, another had a blue scorpion, and finally a fat, bald giant bore a pink elephant.

There's only six of them! Barristan Selmy must have died, a damned shame. Such a good man, the sort of man I wish I could become. If only I could have seen him again, he always said I had good in me I needed to let out.

Everyone at the front table peered at him with unease or outright contempt, the only exceptions being Tyrion, Brienne, and a Sothoryosi woman.

“This is an unpleasant surprise,” Daenerys said. “For all of my childhood my brother told me of the man who slaughtered our father, who stabbed him in the back despite an oath to protect him, who sat down on the Iron Throne as he watched the blood soak the floor. He'd tell me other things as well, about all the things we would do to that man once we took back our Kingdoms. Your sister told me she would send her army North.”

Does she have no idea what her father was?

“Correct, she did.” Jaime said.

“I see no army. I see but one man, with but one hand. It appears your sister lied to me.” Daenerys said in an irate tone.

“Yes, she lied to you. And me as well. She never intended to send her army in the first place. Now she has all of Euron Greyjoy's Iron Fleet, and had a contract signed with the Golden Company. Her plan is to let us fight the Dead on our own, so we will be crippled when we march south.” Jaime said forthrightly.

“We?” Daenerys asked seemingly in bad faith.

“I made a promise to fight for you and the Living, I intend to keep that promise.” Jaime said.

“Your Grace, I know him well –” Tyrion started to say.

“And I'm sure you knew your sister!” Daenerys interrupted.

“He abandoned our sister to come all this way, knowing damn well how he'd be received. Why do you think he would do that if he wasn't telling the truth?” Tyrion asked.

“Possibly, but it is also possible he came this way so he could gain my trust and stab me in the back like he did to my father because he knew his doting brother would defend him complicit or not!” Daenerys said acidly.

“My Queen he has done nothing to harm you personally, and the same cannot be said about me. I first met you with ill intentions, but you managed to forgive me and now you trust me with your very life. Surely you can give Jaime a chance, on a short leash of course.” Jorah said.

“We can't trust him!” Sansa said. “He tried to murder my brother, he attacked my father in the street, all to destroy my House!”

“Guilty as charged, I did all of that. We were at war! Everything I did was to protect my family, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if necessary!” Jaime said.

“The things we do for love.” Bran said in a flat voice.

He remembers that!

“You murdered my father and attempted the same to their brother and father! Have you no shame in the face of the gods?” Daenerys asked.

“I do, but not for those actions. Bran I pushed out the window because he came across a secret that would have gotten me, Cersei, and our children executed and my House's name tarnished for generations. I assaulted the honorable Ned because his wife kidnapped my brother on trumped up charges. And I stabbed your father in the back because he was an insane monster who wanted to burn the entire city to the ground! Fire excited him to an unnatural degree, it got so bad he couldn't get his cock hard without watching someone burn to death, after which he would rape your mother. He said the Iron Throne spoke to him, told him if he burned down King's Landing he would transform into a dragon so he could escape my father's forces. I was ordered to kill my own father. So what was I supposed to do? Kill my father and let some pyrophiliac put a whole fucking city to the torch so people would think I was an honorable man? Or stab that sick fuck in the back and save the city only for the entire realm to turn up their snotty noses at me?” Jaime asked.

“And why should I believe the man who killed my father about who he was? Many people say he was insane, but your claims seem a bit shall we say outlandish!” Daenerys said.

“You would rather believe the controlling brother who pimped you like a whore for a warlord's cavalry?” Jaime asked.

“Everything you did was in your family's name. So why have you abandoned your family now?” Daenerys asked without answering Jaime.

“This goes beyond family, beyond loyalty. This is about survival, about the future of civilization and perhaps even humanity. Our past squabbles don't matter any more.” Jaime said.

Brienne stood up. “We don't know each other well your grace, but I do know Ser Jaime. He is an upstanding man. He was my prisoner once, at first he was rude and even cruel to me, but no worse than anyone else I've met and whenever brigands or enemy troops attempted to rape me Ser Jaime defended me, eventually lost his sword hand because of it. Roose Bolton tricked me into a pit with a hungry bear for his men's amusement, and Ser Jaime jumped into the pit unarmed and manacled so Roose would be forced to have the bear shot lest his hostage be killed. Sansa, you would be dead if it wasn't for Ser Jaime. He provided me with the finest arms and armor and sent me off to find you and bring you home, all to honor an oath we had both sworn to your mother, gods rest her soul!” Brienne said, unsheathing Oathkeeper at the end.

“So you're vouching for him?” Sansa asked.

“With all my heart!” Answered Brienne.

“You would fight side by side with him?” Sansa asked.

“I would, and defend him to the death if need be!” Answered Brienne.

“It's true! Brienne has told me all of that! She always speaks highly of Jaime, says he's become the paradigm of chivalry and an example for all knights. When I first saw him seven years ago all I saw was a pompous and arrogant twat, no offense Ser. Now I see a man humbled and willing to atone for his sins. I can see in his eyes he's no longer the same man who pushed Bran out the window!” Arya said, Daenerys seemed astonished.

“So far you have Brienne and Tyrion vouching for Ser Jaime, and Arya to reiterate the latter's testimony. Your call, Sansa.” Daenerys said.

“Brienne I trust you with my life, if you trust him with yours we should let him stay!” Sansa responded.

“What does the Warden of the North say?” Daenerys asked looking at Jon.

“We need every man we can get, especially anointed knights. One of my closest friends is a Freefolk raider, our peoples slaughtered each other for 8,000 years but he knew our only hope for survival is if we put aside our differences and fight the Night King as one. Now the Freefolk and what's left of the Watch are allies against a common opponent. Jaime clearly sees this as well. I've known Men of the Watch guilty of far worse crimes who became upright and heroic men, I see no reason to doubt Jaime has. Welcome aboard!” Jon said.

“Very well,” Daenerys said. “Grey Worm, return Jaime his sword!

 

Chapter Text

Today's court was far more successful than the previous one. Yesterday was nothing but lords and ladies saying whatever they felt would undermine Daenerys and by proxy Jon, but today two houses and the Skagos Islands swore vassalage to her. This gave Daenerys hope that the rest of the North would follow suit, which would mean in turn they would accept her taking her rightful place as Lady of the Seven Kingdoms.

Now she and the Starks were escorted by the Queensguard outside to the Winterfell courtyard, where the Skagosi said they were unveil their presents. Tyrion and Missandei trailed along behind the escort. Daenerys linked elbows with Jon, though they had not yet openly acknowledged they were lovers it seemed everyone knew and they felt no reason to hide it. Arya smiled warmly at their affectionate gesture.

“I know what they're going to give us!” Arya said, her grey eyes twinkling.

“And what will that be, some scalps or shrunken heads?” Sansa asked mockingly.

“I don't want to spoil your fun!” Arya said.

“And I don't want mine spoiled!” Said Daenerys.

“I've seen Skagos and observed no evidence of such practices.” Bran said.

“Sansa I think you're confusing the Skagosi with some of the Freefolk tribes. Most of them are decent cultures but many do have cruel customs, though all have members who are good people individually. All the Skagosi I've met were fine men.” Jon said.

Seven hells Jon's family love to argue, even if they do love each other.

The courtyard was freshly shoveled, several children were making snowmen from the pile on the margins. A hole was dug in the area between the library tower and guesthouse, both of which were in front of the entrance to the Godswood. Skagosi wrapped in their blankets and wearing masks and headdresses were chanting , some played the flute while others played hide drums or rattles. The three chiefs were standing in front of a canvas covered item perhaps twenty feet long that the warriors were bringing in on a sequence of rollers.

“Sounds like they're speaking the Old Tongue, I've studied that language but have never heard it spoken in like this before! Missandei said.

“Greetings!” Said the Stane. She was a comely but evidently battle weathered woman perhaps in late 30s. “I am a shaman,it is my honor to cleanse you for this ritual!” She swung an incense brazier and chanted as each one of them was bathed in the smoke.

“Uncover the pole and prepare the ropes!” The Crowl ordered, he appeared to be the oldest of the chiefs and his sparse mustache and beard were graying.

The covering was removed and the gift was a cedar log covered ornately carved figures and brightly painted, the style was identical to the items the Skagosi wore. At the very top was a dire wolf, followed by in descending order a bear, a giant, a merman, a boxer, a skeleton, a sun, a moose, a lizard lion, a horse, then a unicorn on the very bottom.

I've never seen anything like this! What an amazing work of art!

“Weirwoods do not grow on any of our islands, unlike the rest of the North. So instead we carve faces into cedars, which are plentiful. For most the Old Gods are faceless, nameless, and vague, but we view them as our ancestors, and believe they manifest physically in different animal forms to watch over us. So we carve those forms into the cedars, so they may better protect us. Our finest artisans worked to create this, we incorporated as many totems from your clans as possible. Sadly many clans lack a totem and opt for more abstract symbols to rally behind.” The Stane said.

“I've been told about these before, always wanted to see one. Such craftsmanship is remarkable, Thank you for this!” Jon said.

“I saw one in Braavos!” Arya said eagerly.

“I don't doubt it, we occasionally trade old or cheaper ones to the Ibbenese in exchange for mammoth products. They do trade all over the Known World so I'm sure you can find our work in many places.” Said the Magnar.

“All my life I heard that your people are savages, perhaps I was wrong.” Sansa said.

“Perhaps!” Said the Stane and the other chiefs laughed.

“I know this gift isn't for me, but when I take back my crown I would love to commission one to display in King's Landing. One covered in the sigils, um totems, of all the Great Houses. I would gladly compensate you with any payment you wish!” Said Daenerys.

“As long as we are paid appropriately we can do that. Hoist the pole!” The Stane ordered.

The chanting and music got louder and the warriors raised the pole with ropes and pulleys and inserted the three foot base into the hole they dug. Now the pole towered over passerby, and everyone looked at in in awe.

“The time has come to present you each with your personal gifts!” Said the Magnar. A warrior pulled up a cart.

“Chiefs, shamans, elders, and proven warriors all wear blankets woven from unicorn wool.” The Crowl said. “Everyone else wears blankets made with dog wool instead, we have a special breed of dog that produces wool, much easier to acquire than unicorn wool. Each of you will be presented with a unicorn blanket!”

There had been a carnival visiting Pentos that claimed to have a unicorn. Viserys tried to convince her it was the real thing but all Daenerys saw was a sickly pony with a horn glued to its head, no different than any of his other dirty lies. Unicorns had long, slender, tufted tails like a lion's and that specimen had a tail no different from any horse. Still she had often wondered if unicorns existed, so she was thrilled to finally find evidence they did.

“Jon is first!” Said the Magnar, who wrapped Jon in his blanket. Jon's blanket had a wolf surrounded by a murder of crows. “You are now the Stark, though for a time you were a crow! A man with two totems is stronger than any with one!”

“Next is Daenerys” the Crowl, who wrapped Dany in her blanket. Hers had a spread winged dragon flanked by two horses. “The Skagosi revere dragons as the greatest of all totems, all the totems have grown much stronger since your dragons hatched. Tales of your trials and triumphs have even reached our distant shores.”

“Now Jon's sisters get there blankets!” The Stane said and wrapped Sansa and Arya in their blankets. Sansa's depicted a wolf running under the sun, while Arya's had a wolf howling at the moon, both were flanked by salmon. “Sisters are often as different as night is from day, but they are always of one blood and two sides of the same coin.

“Finally, Bran!” Said the Magnar as he wrapped Bran's blanket around his wheelchair. It had no wolf, but featured a flying raven clutching a torch with its talons. “Our shamans report you are the new Three Eyed Raven. We believe that the first Three Eyed Raven stole fire from the heavens so that humanity would prosper.”

All the blankets were black with red borders, the images came in red, white, blue, and yellow and were outlined by buttons that appeared to be made of abalone or mother of pearl. Clearly these were not blankets meant to be slept with, they were more like robes or capes. They had to be held with at least one hand or the whole thing would fall off quickly, which reminded Daenerys of the tokars worn by freeborn citizens of Yunkai, Meereen, and Astapor.

“Now each of you will get a cedar hat! They are woven by our basket makers and symbolize our acceptance of your family as our over chiefs!” The Stane said. One by one each was crowned with a cedar hat in the same order they received the blankets. Each hat was brightly painted with similar motifs as the blanket. Jon and Daenerys took off their wreaths Arya had given them and put them on top of their hats.

“Back in Essos it seems most people have never even heard of your islands, but I have seen them mentioned in many Westerosi books.” Daenerys said. “Those books claimed all manner of nasty hearsay like that you eat anyone who lands on your shores and sacrifice humans to trees. Personally I found such claims outlandish, but now I can see you are a people with a love of aesthetics and a pride for craftsmanship. Your reputation for battle prowess seems warranted, and I look forward to fighting alongside you in the War to Come!”

“Likewise!” The Magnar said then he and the rest of the chiefs joined in on the chanting.

 

Chapter Text

Howland Reed had told Sam to meet him again in the Godswood, in order to discuss how to disclose the big secret. Today the Crannogmen were to swear vassalage not only to Jon but to Daenerys as well, which Howland hoped would change the Northern Lords' view of the Dragon Queen. So Sam sat on the bench in front of the Godswood pool and waited patiently for Howland to arrive. A duo of the Children played a song in their strange tongue which Sam thought sounded more like squirrel sounds than any human tongue. One of the duo was a lass named Daisy who wore a wreath of daisies and played the panpipes, the other was a lad named Chicory who wore a wreath of dandelions and played a mandolin with a body manufactured from a tortoise shell.

“What sorts of music to you like, Sam?” Asked Perry, who was sitting next to him.

“Human music I suppose, only kind I'd ever listened to!” Replied Sam.

“Nonsense! The birds sing! So do the wolves and deer! Rivers and tides make music, as does the wind and rain! The giants make instruments from logs and mammoth tusks, and the merlings can both sing and make music with seashells! The merlings even say the whales sing songs from many leagues beneath the sea. Music is everywhere, you just have to listen.” Perry said.

I suppose she's right. I really do need to listen for music more.

“Back home I always loved to dance with my mom and sister, few things made me happier. But my father hated when I danced, he called me a pillow biter and a sword swallower. I didn't even know what those phrases meant. Father forced me to Take the Black so my younger brother could be named heir, he's a cruel man.” Sam said.

“Few things hurt more than a cruel parent or sibling, but you are free from his grasp now. Care to dance with me?” Perry offered than stood up on the bench.

“My pleasure!” Sam answered as he got off the bench so he could be on even footing with Perry. Daisy and Chicory quickly switched to a more upbeat tune. Sam hadn't danced in years, despite his father being nowhere to torment him for it, Men of the Watch were simply to grim for that sort of affair. He tried to show Gilly how to dance, but nobody danced at Craster's Keep and she found the notion of moving to rhythms quite alien.

“I didn't know either of you could dance!” Howland said as he neared the Heart Tree, Sam and Perry were in the middle of a dip.

Gods those Crannogmen really are sneaky. Couldn't even hear his footsteps. No wonder they are so adept at guerrilla warfare!

“You never asked!” Perry said as the dance stopped. Daisy and Chicory went back to playing their earlier tune.

“That's quite a sword you got there. Are you a good swordsman, Sam?” Howland asked as he pointed to the sheathed Heartsbane.

“Well, no. I'm not. It's the Tarly ancestral weapon. I'm carrying it until I find someone who is qualified to wield it.” Sam admitted.

“Takes a smart lad to know his limits! Have you brought the horn?” Howland asked Sam.

“Yes, right here!” Sam said handing it over.

“Oh my, this is remarkable! Looks like aurochs, those haven't been seen south of the Wall in centuries not counting sporadic reports in the Riverlands.” Said Howland

“I've seen them a few times, and mammoths too!” Sam said.

“They haven't been gone down here for nearly as long as the mammoths, but quite some time regardless.” Howland said.

“Aurochs do live in the Riverlands, we have song to call them out of the woods. Haven't seen a mammoth since last time I went North of the Wall, which some time before Aegon's Conquest. Mammoth herds are majestic!” Said Perry.

“The fact it's an aurochs horn does nothing to prove its age since you found it beyond the Wall where it could have been made yesterday. However these gold bands are inscribed with runes in the Old Tongue, which I can't read. I couldn't even read the Common Tongue before Ned taught me. Good thing he did or we'd have no concrete proof he knew the truth about Jon.” Howland said.

“Let me have a look at that horn!” Perry said.

“Here you go!” Howland said has he passed it to her.

“The first band says 'Only King's Blood may give me my voice,' the second says “Awaken O Slumbering Giants,' and the final says 'Joramun.' I think this is the real Horn of Winter!” Perry said scanning the runes.

“Who's Joramun?” Sam asked.

“He was the earliest King Beyond the Wall, he lived not long after the wall was completed. He formed an alliance with King Brandon the Breaker to defeat the Night's King and Corpse Queen.” Perry said in a matter of fact tone.

Does she mean THE Night King? I didn't know he had a Queen.

“Night's King?” Sam asked perplexed.

“Not who you think. No, this is someone different entirely. The Night's King the 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, he was seduced by a sorceress called the Corpse Queen because of her pale blue skin and hair. When they wed he transformed the Watch into his private army and declared himself the Night's King. All manner of arcane depravities were committed at Nightfort and they terrorized both sides of the Wall. Some even say the Corpse Queen put a hex on the Men of the Watch in order to make them blindly subservient. So Joramun and King Brandon, second of his name, put aside their differences and defeated the Night's King and Corpse Queen. Shortly afterwards it was discovered that sacrifices to the Others had been made at Nightfort, so Bran and Joramun both agreed to have their true names wiped from memory.” Howland said authoritatively.

“Actually Bran and Joramun had their names erased because the Night's King was a Stark and the Corpse Queen came from the same tribe as Joramun. It was to bleach out what would be two nasty stains on their names.” Said Perry.

“Was he trying to impersonate the Night King? Surely they met if he was performing sacrifices to the Others!” Sam asked perplexed.

“I haven't spoken with any humans about it in at least 1000 years, but from what I recall over time the two became confused. The Night King was originally known by his Valyrian name, but that was forgotten a few generations after the Long Night. As for the Night's King in his time he was known as the Other Stark, Night's King is merely what they started calling him after his name was erased from all records. History became legend, legend became myth, and over time their stories were blended like honey in iced milk.” Perry said.

“Well let's just hope the Horn of Winter can defeat this Night King! Good thing we have Jon, he has the blood many kings flowing through his veins!” Said Sam.

“Speaking of whom, now we need to discuss how to break the news to him!” Howland said. “As much as I love teaching history lessons sometimes we must focus and the here and now. Jon might not take the news that he's been fucking his aunt very well, is there anybody who we can inform ahead of time to help him if he has an adverse reaction? Someone who he respects and will listen to, and can be guaranteed not to spill the beans to him before we do?” Howland asked.

Who should we tell? Oh! I know exactly who!

“Yes, his name is Ser Davos Seaworth. Jon looks up to him like a second father, he is an honest and reasonable man who doesn't mince his words. He was even Jon's Hand for the brief time he was King in the North. Daenerys respects him as well, but she'll probably be far more upset that all this time she was never the rightful heir to the Iron Throne than to learn she's laid with her nephew. Davos isn't well educated but he's sharp as a razor, I'm sure he'll be able to get both of them to come to terms with finding out their entire lives were built on falsehoods.” Sam said.

“Perfect, tell him as soon as possible. But for the love of the Old Gods do so in private. Can't let any prying ears here it. Give it to him in writing if need be. Now we need to discuss where to disclose the news to them, should we do it here or do you have anywhere else in mind?” Howland asked.

“Brandon told me down in the crypts Rhaegar's lyre is next to Lyanna's statue. Has dragon heads on it and everything. Not sure how nobody noticed that, but it would be awfully strange for a Stark's belonging to be decorated with anything but dire wolves. If we tell them down in the crypts we can show them the lyre if they are skeptical.” Answered Sam.

“Good thinking, now we need to discuss how to disclose it everyone –” Howland started to say.

“Stop talking! I hear footsteps!” Perry said interrupting Howland.

Without saying a further word the Children scurried off into the trees, while Sam and Howland started to gaze at the Heart Tree as if praying.

“Fancy seeing you here! I didn't know you kept the Old Gods!” A familiar voice said after a while. Sam turned around and it was Jorah Mormont.

“Ser Jorah! Good to see you! I started keeping the Old Gods when I Took the Black, I wanted to say my vows in front of a weirwood instead of in that dinky little sept. Jon was the only other to do so. I was raised in the Seven.” Sam said.

“I haven't seen a weirwood in years. The only one I'm aware of in Essos is at the House of Black and White in Braavos. That place has statues of gods from across the Known World, mostly of death but there are a few from faiths without a death deity. No clue how they managed to plant and grow a weirwood, but then again I have no clue how they change faces.” Jorah said.

“Braavos is a mysterious place, I had a dream I went there once. Felt so real sometimes I think to myself I actually I did!” Sam said.

“Have you heard about your father?” Jorah asked.

“No, what happened? Is he alright?” Sam asked concerned.

“He's dead. He refused to bend the knee to Daenerys after she defeated him, and entered open rebellion even though his liege Lady Olenna Tyrell had sworn the Reach to Daenerys. So he was executed for high treason.” Jorah answered.

For a moment there was silence as Sam let the news sink in. A flood of emotions rushed through his mind. Sure his father had abused and tormented him his whole life, but that was still his father. Plus forcing Sam to Take the Black resulted in him eventually discovering the truth about Jon's parentage and identity.

“What about Dickon? He was always good to me!” Sam asked.

“He too refused to bend the knee and stood by your father. So he was executed too. I tried to stop it, thought Daenerys should give them the offer to Take the Black. Regrettably she said that wasn't an option because the Watch only recognizes whoever currently sits on the Iron Throne, so they wouldn't accept such a sentence from anyone but Cersei. I'm sorry!” Jorah replied. Sam burst into tears and sobbed for a while.

Not Dickon too! I'm sure he was only trying to not dishonor father! Is Daenerys mad or some kind of predator in prey's clothing? Does Jon know about this?

“I have something for you!” Sam said and handed Heartsbane over to Jorah once he could gather his thoughts again.

“What blade is this?” Jorah asked as he unsheathed it.

“Heartsbane, the House Tarly ancestral weapon. I stole it during the last time I visited Horn Hill. I suppose I'm the rightful owner now that I'm next in line to be Lord and the Watch is pretty much dead so my vows are meaningless, but I'm not a skilled fighter so you would be far more qualified to wield a Valyrian blade. Especially since you'll be on the frontlines!” Sam replied.

“Once again you have done something for me I can never repay. I will wield the blade in Dickon's memory!"

 

Chapter Text

The odd party of Freefolk, Crows, the Brotherhood, and Mors Umber finally arrived at Winterfell. Tormund had always heard Winterfell was a sight to behold, but he never imagined it was half as large as it turned out to be. Wasn't even his first time at Winterfell and he was still awestruck by the fortress complex.

Gods this place is massive, probably bigger than all the Crow buildings combined. Probably the largest building in the whole world. Big house for a big woman!

“What the fuck is everyone staring at?” Asked the Great Walrus.

“I don't think they've seen snow bears before, certainly never seen anyone ride them! Jon says they don't have them down here!” Answered Tormund.

“Nah, I think they're staring at your goofy ass mask!” Val said and laughed.

“Guess I can't really joke about that! At least mine doesn't have tusks!” Morna said.

“You've got it all wrong!” Said Dolorous Edd. “The reason they're staring is because they see Crows and Freefolk riding side by side, so they realize now there's no sense denying that the Night King is going to have the entire human race royally fucked!”

Everyone burst into laughter.

The party passed the gate and dismounted.

“Alright, I'll take the mounts to the stable. Won't be as much cause for alarm if I do it.” Said Mors. Tormund was impressed with his skill handling beasts.

“I'll take the rest of the Watch onto the ramparts, old habits thaw slower than ice no matter how tall.” Dolorous Edd said.

“Very well, I'm sure the locals will be comforted seeing Crows. Probably already know the Wall is down. I'm going to be the one to tell Jon what we happened at Last Hearth!” Tormund said.

“Probably would be best for you to do so, you have a way with words that takes the edge off of even the most dire situations.” Said Beric.

Val and Morna both said they wanted to say hi to Jon, while the Great Walrus walked off to do gods know what. The Free trio walked across the courtyard and eventually saw Jon kissing the Dragon Lady in a full embrace.

“I told you I was his type!” Val said, she always seemed to have a thing for Jon and even a slight but not uncivil jealousy towards Ygritte.

“Alright, stay here. Watch this!” Tormund said then crouched down. He slowed crept up to the necking couple. Once he was right behind Jon he stood up and have him a bear hug.

“Aaahhh!” Jon squealed as it happened. The Dragon Lady giggled.

“I've missed you!” Tormund said.

“I was worried about you! Don't sneak up on me like that!” Jon said as he turned around and recognized his friend.

“And you're the one they call Dragonsmum and Chainbreaker!” Tormund said pointing to the Dragon Lady.

“If I go a fortnight without gaining another epithet I get disappointed! But you can call me Daenerys! Jon has told me about you. I remember seeing you get on my dragon as I rescued you all from the Walkers and wights!” Daenerys said.

“Me and the boys would have been arrow fodder for the Night King if it wasn't for you and your dragons! We may have been born on opposite sides of the Wall, but me and Jon are brothers! When I heard he got a new lady friend I was shocked, I thought to myself 'must be some woman to get Jon to bend his knees again!'” Tormund said.

“You mean bend the knee!” Jon said.

“No! I mean bend your knees, as in both! Did you do what I told you?” Tormund asked.

Jon started to say something but found himself speechless and red faced.

“He sure did.” Daenerys whispered into Tormund's ear.

That's my boy!

“I like you already, Daenerys Dragonsmum! Don't worry Jon, you won't have to worry about me stealing her unless she grows another foot and puts on a few stones of muscle!”

“With all this war I might do the latter, but I doubt I could grow another inch without a wizard's help!” Daenerys said as she flexed her arms and laughed profusely.

“Bahahaha! Good one! You're funny! Jon you really know how to pick them! Gods know how many women you've gotten slick as a seal, but you know most aren't worthy of you! I'm so glad you steered clear of that Red Whore. Bat shit crazy bitch that one! Great ass on her I'll give her that, but you were patient and found a girl with one who doesn't think fire speaks to her!” Tormund said.

“Thanks, I guess. Do you have anything to report?” Jon asked.

“Aye. After the Wall was breached, me and Beric took our people over to Last Hearth looking for shelter and to spread the news. Val and Morna are behind me, you should introduce them to your new squeeze. Ned Umber's dead, they tried turning him into a Walker. Mors is still alive, so I guess he's the new Lord now but I'm not sure how that works.” Replied Tormund.

“Seven hells! That's dreadful! Poor lad, such an honorable soul. Do you know where the Night King and the Army of the Dead are right now?” Jon asked.

“We met up with Edd and the rest of the surviving Crows at Last Hearth, Edd said they and Mors killed a Walker. Growing up I always heard if you killed a Walker all the wights it revived would die with it, and that's what Edd said happened. There were a few stragglers left when we arrived, probably ones that Walker didn't turn.” Tormund responded.

“Sounds like the Night King is having his officers take their forces and attack different strongholds. Classic divide and conquer strategy. If we could take out as many of the officers as possible then the Army would be greatly crippled by the time we finally face the Night King!” Daenerys said.

She's got brains and an ass! Jon couldn't have picked a better woman. Though it was probably her who picked him, she seems like the kind of woman to take initiative.

“My brother Bran is now the Three Eyed Raven. I'll ask him where the Army is on the offensive and tomorrow we can ride out and fight them head on.” Jon said.

“Count us in! We just need to rest and recuperate for tonight. The big woman still here?” Tormund asked.

“Yes, she's probably in the gymnasium.” Jon answered.

“Alright, pleasure meeting you, Chainbreaker! And you of course, Jon. We'll have to get a good drink before the next skirmish. Now I have a beauty to woo!” Tormund said.

“Best of luck!” Daenerys said holding up her thumb. Tormund wasn't sure what holding up ones thumb meant but assumed it was some kind of good luck gesture.

Tormund left the lovebirds then walked off across the courtyard in search of the gymnasium. Winterfell always seemed bustling to him, but he was amazed at how crowded it was now. Archers were all over the ramparts, most of the buildings seemed full, and there were scores of tents outside with garish colors. In one nook there was a large pole carved and brightly painted with the images of several animals and men.

Looks like Skagosi art. I remember when Jon assumed us Freefolk made stuff like that, he really did no nothing back then if he confused Freefolk with Skagosi. Those are some tough fuckers, even if the do kneel!

Up ahead Tormund saw three people with skin far darker than anyone he had ever seen before. There were two men, one was in armor while another wore a cape of feathers, and a gorgeous woman in a black dress with the curliest hair Tormund had ever seen.

“You do exist!” Tormund said as he approached the trio.

“Of course we exist! We're humans too!” The man in the armor said.

“Why would I think you weren't?” Tormund asked confused.

“I don't think he meant any offense, he probably hasn't seen anyone like us before. I see no malice or prejudice in his eyes!” The woman told the armored man.

“I have no reason to insult you. Nobody looks like you where I come from. My cousin went missing for years. I just assumed the Ice River Clans ate him or a giant took him as a pet, maybe even eloped with a mermaid or selkie. When he finally showed back up he told me he was kidnapped by men with blue hair! Blue hair! He said they made him row on their giant canoe, before being sold in a city with giant triangle castles where they worship a bird with a woman's face and tits. His new owner made him fight in an arena, and eventually he won his freedom and traveled all over Essos before coming home. Said he saw people who change their faces as easily as their boots, wizards who burn cocks and balls to gain magical powers, other wizards who drink blue beer for the same reason, a whole tribe that lives on horses, and people with skin dark as wood who wear feather capes! So many things I could never dream of, so I thought he was bluffing or had eaten too much ergot bread or magic mushrooms! But here I am seeing people who look just like some of the ones he described!” Tormund said energetically.

“All of those things your cousin spoke of are true. I am Daenery's right hand lady and we saw or heard about everything you mentioned.” The woman said.

“We are relieved to find out you are merely excited to see people like us. Most people won't even look us in the eye!” The man in the feathers said.

“Why not?” Tormund asked.

“Because they think they are better than us because their skin is lighter than ours!” The armored man said.

“Well then they're a bunch of shallow cunts! I'm sure you didn't choose your skin color any more than I chose to be a ginger. If they care about what color you are its their problem, you could be purple for all I care! I know exactly how you feel, people down here look at me and think just because I'm from the True North I must be some kind of animal. Southroners care about the stupidest shit!” Tormund said.

“I've actually lived in the North for a third half of my life.” Said the man in the feathers. “I was born in King's Landing, my mother is from the Summer Isles which is next to where these two are from. She sent me away to the Neck when my father King Robert died, his bastards were being killed left and right so she figured I'd be safer where nobody would look. I've lived in the crannogs since I was 14, I can hunt and put every part of my prey to good use, and I worship the Old Gods. All the Crannogmen accept me as their adopted son, but they are widely shunned by other Northerners because they are short and live in swaps.”

“Anyone who keeps the Old Gods and lives off the land is a Northerner as far as I'm concerned! Even if they bend the knee! You're more a Northerner now than Jon was when I first met him, he thought hunting was just a sport for lords.” Tormund said.

“I must admit I find your curiosity rather charming. I keep a notebook about all the places I visit and cultures I encounter, I'd love for you to tell more about your people! Daenerys wants me to have it published eventually, you would be a valuable asset for research on Freefolk society! Would you be able to answer questions for me?” The woman asked.

“Societies! We ain't all the same thing! But sure, I'd love to help. As long as I don't have to write anything, I can't read. But I gotta go know, there is a goddess who has been waiting for me to pay her a visit! Nice meeting you all!” Tormund said and took off.

Finally he reached the gymnasium and he could hear from outside there was activity going on. When he walked inside he saw the big woman boxing with a man as tall as she was. She was wearing leather pants and a matching vest, which enabled Tormund to admire her bare muscular arms. Her pants showed off her legs which were like trees of muscle and topped by a gloriously firm ass. Beads of glistening sweat were all over her naked skin like morning dew on grass.

Yes I came at the perfect time! I get to see her in action before getting to have some action with her! Hope she knocks that bloke straight down!

“Hyaaaaaahhhh!” The big woman yelled as she knocked her opponent into the the hay.

She's a screamer!

She unwrapped her hands, helped her opponent up, then shook his hand.

“Wooooo! Congratulations! You whooped his ass!” Tormund said as he enthusiastically clapped his hands in applause.

“Thank you. Excuse me, I have to use the lavatory.” The big woman said and left the room.

Must have creamed herself at the sound of my applause! Hope she won't take to long changing her drawers!

“Your one lucky man to get beaten by her!” Tormund told her opponent.

“I'm not really a man!” The opponent said then grabbed the skin from the edge of their face and pulled. The face came off and the opponent shifted into a girl only a bit above five feet.

So face changers exist too!

“You're a witch! Up North the only way to change your form is to enter an animal with your mind, but your body is still there.” Tormund said astonished.

“I'm a warg too! Suppose I could be called a witch or sorceress. My name is Arya.”

“Your Jon's sister! For a moment I thought maybe Jon shaved and shrank a few inches! He came back from the dead, shrinking is nothing to him! I'm Tormund Giantsbane!”

“Are you one of Jon's friends?” Arya asked.

“Friends? He's a brother to me, which I guess makes you like a sister! He loves you so much, he's always gushing about how wonderful you are and how much he missed you. Says you got bigger balls than Ghost!” Tormund said.

“Did he really say that?” Arya asked and raised an eyebrow.

“Well yes, but actually no. Not exactly, but I heard the way he told those stories. He said one time he covered himself with flour to look like a Walker and scare you and your sibling, it worked on everyone who screamed their heads off but you ran up and punched him! Then apologized when you found it was only him!”

“I remember that like it was yesterday. I figured we were all going to die if we didn't defend ourselves, so I defended myself. Now the Walkers are here and pretty soon I'll see them face to face, won't be anyone in flour this time.” Arya said.

“A damned shame you weren't born a Free woman. Our woman fight alongside the men, we don't like wives who can't keep our kids safe! You'd fit right in with us, you and the big woman!” Tormund said.

“Brienne is the best fighter I've ever met, I'm lucky to train with her.” Said Arya.

“Gods I hope she can whoop my ass some time! So what do you think about Daenerys? A bit small for my taste, no offense, but she leads her army in battle and is exactly the kind of woman Jon adores. And she's got dragons!” Tormund said.

“I love Daenerys, she has been so kind to me and Jon looks so happy whenever he's looking at her. I thought Freefolk despised kings and queens!” Arya said.

“Not exactly. We hate kings who are only kings because their father was a king. We hate queens who are only queens because they married a king. But any person who proves to be a worthy leader we will gladly follow. We choose who our kings are, and if there is nobody worthy then we live without one. That's the difference. In my lifetime there are only two people I have deemed worthy to be called king, Mance Rayder and Jon Snow. I was the first one to declare Jon King in the North, I don't give a she-mammoth's cunt if his parents were married or not! Jon decided Dragonsmum was worthy to be called his Queen, so it's clear she has damn well earned it even if her name is Targaryen. Dragons don't serve just anyone!”

 

Chapter Text

After holding court Jon felt at ease. Seeing three separate regions swear vassalage to Daenerys gave him hope eventually more would follow suit. The Manderlys were always staunch supporters of the Warden of the North, even if they were superficially Southron. The Crannogmen and the Skagosi swearing fealty was a pleasant surprise, and Jon was amazed at how generous they both were even despite the latter being purely pragmatic in their motives.

“I think I could fall in love with this place!” Daenerys said. They were walking in the courtyard after having put their gifts from the Skagosi away.

“I'm so fortunate to have grown up here, but at the time it felt like a prison. A prison I had to take vows of poverty and celibacy in an ice box to escape. But I wanted to go back home not long after I Took the Black.” Jon said.

“Why did it feel like a prison?” Daenerys asked.

“Because I wasn't free. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I wasn't raised like a bastard down south, but growing up I was still treated differently. Everyone but father and Arya that is, they treated me no differently and Arya even favored me. I just wanted to be somewhere that my name and parentage didn't matter, where I could live my life however I wished. I hated the structure of growing up highborn, Arya did too.” Jon said.

“Just be grateful you had a home! My whole childhood was spent on the move. It was a cycle: my brother would meet a wealthy merchant or politician who feigned interest in our cause, they'd let us stay in their house for a time, could be months or a few years, then they'd get tired of us and kick us out, then we'd move on to the next city and find someone else. They called Viserys the Beggar King because he had no home and pretty much begged to survive. Of course we were miles better off than any true beggar. Not that he could see that.” Daenerys said.

“How do you feel knowing the truth about your father?” Jon asked.

“I'd always heard he was raving mad, but I never believed it until Ser Barristan Selmy told me it was true. Selmy was a upstanding man and stayed loyal to my father through it all, so he'd have no reason to lie about it. But what Jaime said mortified me, seemed like the sort of thing an assassin would say to justify his deed. Had it not been for Brienne I would have had you or Drogon take care of him. Brienne seems like a straight laced girl and if she sees good in Jaime then perhaps there is. I feel so much shame about what my father did to your uncle and grandfather!” Daenerys said, her eyes looked watery and her face was turning red and puffing up.

“You shouldn't feel shame about that, its not your fault. You are Aery's daughter and heiress, not Aerys himself. I just wish my fellow Northerners would get that.” Jon said then wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. He rubbed his hands across her back, he was tempted to go lower but refrained since people might see that.

“One of my greatest mentors was a Targaryen.” Jon said as they released from the hug.

“How is that possible?” Daenerys asked, her eyebrows arching up.

“The Night's Watch Maester was a Targaryen, Maester Aemon. He lived to be a hundred, he was a Maester and Man of the Watch for so long I don't think many people knew he was a Targaryen. I would've been executed for breaking my vows if it wasn't for him intervening. He was very saddened knowing his death would make you the last of your House.” Jon replied.

“I've heard of him. He was the firstborn son of King Maekar and Queen Dyanna Dayne but renounced his claim to the crown. I had no idea he lived that long. I would have assumed he died a good twenty years ago, never really thought about it.” Daenerys said.

His mother was a Dayne? Gods I hope Ashara wasn't my mother, that would make us cousins of some sort. Of course that was many generations apart, so maybe its not so bad.

“So next time your upset about the crimes of your father or brothers just remember you have many great relatives and ancestors like Maester Aemon or Aegon the Conquerer.” Jon said.

“You're right, for every Mad King there's ten Maester Aemons who knows how many Aegons.” Daenerys said then puckered her plump lips and planted them on Jon's. Jon resumed hugging her and made sure he reciporated her actions. They started kissing all over their faces and then their lips again. Suddenly behind Jon a third pair of arms ensnared him.

“Aaaaahhh!” Jon said in shock, Daenerys started laughing.

“I've missed you!” A familiar voice said.

“I was worried about you! Don't sneak up on me like that!” Jon said as he turned and saw that it was Tormund.

“And you're the one they call Dragonsmum and Chainbreaker!” Tormund said as he pointed to Daenerys.

“If I go a fortnight without gaining another epithet I get disappointed! But you can call me Daenerys! Jon has told me about you. I remember seeing you get on my dragon as I rescued you all from the Walkers and wights!” Daenerys said.

Are they flirting? Seems like one of them is at least.

“Me and the boys would have been arrow fodder for the Night King if it wasn't for you and your dragons! We may have been born on opposite sides of the Wall, but me and Jon are brothers! When I heard he got a new lady friend I was shocked, I thought to myself 'must be some woman to get Jon to bend his knees again!'” Tormund said.

“You mean bend the knee!” Jon said.

“No! I mean bend your knees, as in both! Did you do what I told you?” Tormund asked.

I knew I shouldn't have told her where I learned those tricks! I'm not going to say anything. Gods why does he have to embarrass me in front of Dany?

“I like you already, Daenerys Dragonsmum! Don't worry Jon, you won't have to worry about me stealing her unless she grows another foot and puts on a few stones of muscle!”

That's true, he doesn't go for shorties.

“With all this war I might do the latter, but I doubt I could grow another inch without a wizard's help!” Daenerys said as she flexed her arms and laughed profusely.

“Bahahaha! Good one! You're funny! Jon you really know how to pick them! Gods know how many women you've gotten slick as a seal, but you know most aren't worthy of you! I'm so glad you steered clear of that Red Whore. Bat shit crazy bitch that one! Great ass on her I'll give her that, but you were patient and found a girl with one who doesn't think fire speaks to her!” Tormund said.

“Thanks, I guess. Do you have anything to report?” Jon asked.

“Aye. After the Wall was breached, me and Beric took our people over to Last Hearth looking for shelter and to spread the news. Val and Morna are behind me, you should introduce them to your new squeeze. Ned Umber's dead, they tried turning him into a Walker. Mors is still alive, so I guess he's the new Lord now but I'm not sure how that works.” Replied Tormund.

“Seven hells! That's dreadful! Poor lad, such an honorable soul. Do you know where the Night King and the Army of the Dead are right now?” Jon asked.

“We met up with Edd and the rest of the surviving Crows at Last Hearth, Edd said they and Mors killed a Walker. Growing up I always heard if you killed a Walker all the wights it revived would die with it, and that's what Edd said happened. There were a few stragglers left when we arrived, probably ones that Walker didn't turn.” Tormund responded.

Glad Dolorous Edd is still alive, I've missed all his wry jokes.

“Sounds like the Night King is having his officers take their forces and attack different strongholds. Classic divide and conquer strategy. If we could take out as many of the officers as possible then the Army would be greatly crippled by the time we finally face the Night King!” Daenerys said.

“My brother Bran is now the Three Eyed Raven. I'll ask him where the Army is on the offensive and tomorrow we can ride out and fight them head on.” Jon said.

“Count us in! We just need to rest and recuperate for tonight. The big woman still here?” Tormund asked.

“Yes, she's probably in the gymnasium.” Jon answered.

“Alright, pleasure meeting you, Chainbreaker! And you of course, Jon. We'll have to get a good drink before the next skirmish. Now I have a beauty to woo!” Tormund said.

“Best of luck!” Daenerys said holding up her thumb.

Good, he's still infatuated with Brienne.

“I'm sorry, he isn't usually that obnoxious.” Jon said as Tormund walked from earshot.

“Obnoxious? I thought he was hilarious!” Daenerys said.

“You just think so because he flattered you!” Said Jon.

“He was just trying to show his support for us, no need to be jealous! You can be pretty funny too when you aren't overthinking everything, usually when we're both naked or about to strip down. Look, if I thought he was making a pass at me I'd tell him to back off. Trust me, I've had so many men and women make passes I can discern flirtation from mere flattery. Besides, sounds like he's awfully enamored with “da big woman,” he wouldn't do anything to mess up his chances with her. Not on purpose anyway.” Said Daenerys.

“Truth be told I don't know much about flirting. You and Ygritte both did all the work for me. I'm glad you weren't offended by Tormund, he's one of my closest friends.” Jon said.

“Well then take your Queen's judgment on it, she is something of an authority on the subject.” Daenerys said then mischievously smiled.

“I'm sorry for overreacting, I shouldn't be so clingy. I'll work on not jumping to conclusions like that.” Jon said.

“Just goes to show you don't want to lose me, that's sweet. There you go overthinking again!” Daenerys said then gave Jon a playful nudge and smiled ear to ear.

“So how do you suppose I could go about making you laugh more?” Jon asked.

“Just do what you did last night, don't think about every little move and let your tongue do all the work for you! Same principle, quite simple really.” Daenerys said giggling.

“Not the same thing at all! I don't get to taste a good joke!” Jon said then smiled.

“Hahahaha! That's the spirit! See? Just spit out whatever is on your mind!” Daenerys said.

“I don't think you would have liked it if I did that last night!” Jon said.

“Hahahahahaha! You are too much! You're right I wouldn't, I'd be right pissed with you. I can't stand the types who don't finish what they start, if I'm generous to feed you then you better eat the whole meal and ask for seconds!” Daenerys said. Jon reached in and gave her a wet kiss and they embraced warmly.

“You can please any lips!” Daenerys said. “I'm the luckiest girl in the world!”

“And I'm the luckiest lad.” Jon said. “Oh look, there's Jorah. Looks like he wants to speak with you!” They ended their necking.

“Hello my Queen, and Warden!” Jorah said reverently.

“Good afternoon! Nice sword you got there, good replacement for Longclaw.” Jon said.

“It is a fine piece, now I'm really glad I let you keep Longclaw.” Said Jorah.

“And hello to you! What have you been up to?” Daenerys asked.

“Just finished saying a prayer at the Godswood. I'd almost forgotten what a weirwood looks like, let alone a Heart Tree's face. Feels good to finally be back home in the lands where my Gods have power, even if most other worshipers cannot forgive me for my crimes.” Jorah said.

“I have yet to find any gods I feel compelled to worship, but I've always found places of worship fascinating to visit. Jon will have to take me there soon, but first I need to pay the Reed tent a visit so their armorer can get my measurements for that suit of armor Howland promised me.” Daenerys said.

“It pleases me to know you will have armor soon. You are no armchair tactician, you need all the protection you can get should the Queensguard fail to shield you. Speaking of which, what other members should we bring with us?” Asked Jorah.

“Red Lamb and Grazha, since they are the most friendly. Maybe Tumco as well, but certainly not Belwas or Larraq. The last two are far too aggressive, and people already perceive me to be an aggressor.”Answered Daenerys.

“A wise selection, it is often said monarchs are judged by their courtiers.” Jorah said.

“Alright Jon I'm going to be heading off. Perhaps you can take me to the Godswood when I return, if that is permissible of course.” Daenerys said.

“Of course it is! I would love to! Why wouldn't it be?” Jon asked.

“Essos has many mystery cults that only allow initiated members to visit their temples and lodges. I don't know anything about the Old Gods faith, I suppose I should have asked Jorah more after all these years.” Daenerys answered.

“And I would have gladly told you!” Jorah said.

“I'll tell you all about our faith when I show you the Godswood, but for now I will say we don't have any sort of initiation rituals. Not even anything simple like the Anointing of the Seven Oils that the New Gods worshipers do for for their new babies or the baptisms adult Drowned God worshipers have.” Jon said.

“I cannot wait to learn more! See you in a bit, my love!” Daenerys said then gave Jon a quick but juicy smooch.

As Daenerys and Jorah walked off Jon strolled around the plaza. Ygritte helped him to realize that what he was didn't matter, but who he was did. She made him realize even with the best education a Maester could provide, there were still many things that could only be learned through living. So he started to wonder what he was learning from Daenerys. Jon never truly understood Ygritte's lessons until after she had died, which filled his mind with the thought of losing his new love.

I hope I go first, I can't bear the thought of losing another love. On the other hand the though of her losing me is dreadful, she has lost so much already.

“Jon! Jon!” It was Sam, his face was red, puffy and, covered in tears.

“Hello Sam, are you alright?”

“Is Daenerys around?” Sam asked.

“Not right now, she went to get measured for some armor. Why?” Jon replied.

“Jorah told me something terrible!” Said Sam.

“What?” Asked Jon.

“She.......killed my father........and brother!”

“I'm so sorry for your loss. Do you know why?” Jon asked.

“Yes, Jorah told me everything. Father refused to bend the knee to her, I thought surely he would since he was the last loyalist general to surrender to Ned and Robert. Dickon also refused and stood by father, so she had them both executed!” Sam said and sniffled.

“She gave them a chance and a warning, that's more than I ever did. I lopped off Slynt's head as he was begging for a second chance. I didn't hesitate to hang Ollie even though he may have been coerced into stabbing me by Thorne, but he by all means had good cause to kill me. Surely killing a boy not even in his teens is more heinous than killing the man who threatened to feed you to his dogs! The man who had warlocks cover you in fresh blood to make you normal, then had them scourged when they failed!” Jon said.

“But Dickon was kind to me! He always stood up for me. How would you feel if Arya was executed?” Asked Sam.

Seven hells, he's right. That would be a bitter tonic to swallow.

“I can't even comprehend the pain of losing a sibling. I will confront Dany about what she did. She's a bit egotistical, seems to have a temper on her. I'll tell her she needs to be cautious when handing out a death sentence, in the North we don't execute someone without looking them in the eye to ask why they did it. If we feel any pang of guilt of hesitation we let them live, because perhaps they didn't truly deserve to die. She needs to realize its in her best interest to not be so quick, executing Lords on a whim won't win her many banners.” Jon said.

“Good, thank you for not making excuses for her.” Sam said.

“No ruler should be above criticism, that's how tyrants are created. At the same time I can't just criticize her without admitting I have done things not much better.” Jon said.

“Do you know where Davos is? I need to speak with him.” Asked Sam.

“No, check the guesthouse and ask around. What do you need to talk to him about?” Jon asked, Sam wanting to speak with Davos struck him as odd.

“Oh you know, just, um, girl problems! He's a smart guy with a wife, I thought he'd be the person to help me sort things out.” Sam stuttered.

“Gilly giving you shit? I guess all women do on occasion.” Jon said then awkwardly laughed, he wasn't fully convinced.

“Alright Jon, I best be going now. Please talk to Dany as soon as possible, I'll need to see both of you soon.”

 

Chapter Text

Cersei sat in the Tower of the Hand and ate a breakfast of a soft boiled egg, a scone with fire plum jam, and spiced honey wine. She wore a bear fur robe over silk pajamas. Every monarch since Aegon had a Small Council and most of those before the Conquest had some sort of cabinet, every monarch until Cersei. King Robert hated politics, he supposedly only attended three small council meetings in his seventeen year reign. The first two of which were in his first year reigning and the third in his last. She wanted nothing more than to rule and do it all herself, so early on she abolished the Small Council but retained Hand of the Queen. Qyburn was the only adviser she needed.

“The short hair suits you, you'd make a very dashing king!” Said Moon Boy the jester, he was wobbling on stilts yelling non sequiters.

“And to think I was considering growing it out again. Funny little fellow!” Cersei said and took a drink of her wine, she never found his japes amusing but humored him nonetheless.

I really do need a better fool, one that can make me laugh. The only use I have for Moon Boy is an interim bed warmer, assuming of course he knows where to put it.

There was a rap on the door.

“Do come in!” Cersei said, then ate the last of her breakfast. Qyburn strolled in, his chains rattling with every step.

“Are you ready for your daily briefing, Your Grace?” Qyburn asked.

Moon Boy fell off his stilts and squirmed on the ground, something which happened so frequently neither the Queen nor Hand even mentioned it.

“Have I ever not been?” Cersei asked half jokingly but with an icy edge.

“Not unless you lied about it, Your Grace. I have met with the paymaster of the Golden Company, they do all their banking with the Iron Bank so we will be able to transfer the funds from the House Lannister account into theirs. Unfortunately this will do nothing to resolve the debt your father racked up and you have increased.” Qyburn said.

“A Lannister always pays her debts, father always told us that!” Cersei said.

“Tywin didn't!” Moon Boy said, still on the floor.

If he weren't such a lack wit I'd suspect that Moon Boy deliberately abuses the fool's privilege, but really I doubt he even knows what that is.

“Lately it seems every time I walk through the city I encounter a preacher or missionary of a cult I hadn't heard of. So far I've encountered the Church of Starry Wisdom, Raknake, the Path Finders, the Memory Keepers, Joyous Alchemy, and a few I'm probably forgetting. Some of these seem to be heretical sects that deny basic dogma but keep idiosyncratic doctrines about the Seven or R'hollor, but others seem to be a queer hodgepodge of several traditions or new creations entirely.” Said Qyburn.

“And why are you telling me this? Think I would find a god in middle age? You should know by now I'm no praying girl.” Asked Cersei and took a big gulp of wine.

“Yes, I have deduced you are not a woman of faith. I was simply informing you because when several new cults pop up in quick succession, it is usually a sign of social upheaval. The destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor was probably the catalyst. Over in Oldtown the Starry Sept has been restored to its former status as the center of the Faith, but people in this region don't really benefit from that. Other factors I suspect are the invasion of the Night King and the return of dragons. All of this means speople have a lot of questions, and cults have answers.” Answered Qyburn.

“What's this about dragons? Are they the wolves you think are compelling the sheep of the city to flock to these new shepherds?” Cersei asked.

“They are the wranglers. Many of the cultists I've encountered seem to believe that Daenerys is either a physical goddess or some sort of messiah. Others make akin claims about Jon Snow, the rumors of his death and resurrection seem to be the reason for that. I've heard a few preachers say both of them are promised ones. First I heard of it was shortly after the Meeting of the Queens. I'm sure seeing dragons for the first time convinced many there was divine intervention.” Qyburn responded.

I knew I shouldn't have agreed to a meeting with that Essosi whore. She apparently got a flock of lemmings following her off a cliff and took Jaime with her.

“I suppose that is relevant information after all. Anything else?”

“Yes, here is a letter from Sunspear sealed with the Martell sigil.” Qyburn said as he produced a sealed scroll from his robe and handed it to her.

The letter read:

Your Grace, Queen Cersei, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms, Queen of the Andals, First Men, and Rhoynar,

I Manfrey Martell, Prince of Dorne, swear my sword in vassalage to you and all my bannermen with me. My cousin and his paramore's vendetta against you and House Lannister was a disgrace and embarrassment. Though that stain will be most challenging to remove from the name of House Nymeros Martell, rest assured I am sending several cohorts of knights and infantry to the Crownlands as a token of my apology. You may do with them as you see fit.

Prince Manfrey Martell

“My, my, this is a pleasant turn of events. Those swarthy poison shillers have always had a soft spot towards the Targaryens, I'm glad the new Prince is going to be a voice of reason. Now should the Golden Company fail I have a viable backup.” Cersei said.

“Yes, a surprise for sure, but a welcome one. Meanwhile in the Reach they are without a Great House now that Olenna is dead. House Tarly I think would have been best suited to replace the Tyrells, but sadly Daenerys barbecued Lord Tarly and his heir. So now I think its a tossup between Houses Redwyne, Hightower, and Florent.” Qyburn said.

“They can figure it out themselves, so long as they all fall in line I have no concern. What's that other letter in your hand?” Cersei asked.

“See for yourself!” Qyburn answered and handed her the scroll, it was sealed the sigil of a mockingbird.

“My Queen,

I am still lodging at Winterfell. The Knights of the Vale are with me, they are expected to fight the Army of the Dead. Personally I find fighting the Dead to be a Fool's Errand, but one I must partake in – regrettably in order to convince the Starks and Dragon Queen I am on their side. I have told them the Knights of the Vale and I will return to Vale once the Night King is defeated, which they have said is acceptable.

I do intend to return to the Vale, but first I would like to pay a visit to King's Landing both to check on my businesses and for a royal audience if you could be so gracious. I have gathered much information about their forces I think you will find useful. Until next time.

Petyr Baelish, Lord of the Vale

“Nice to know that weasel is still alive, write him a letter telling him his request for a royal audience is granted and I am happy to hear any intelligence he has gathered.” Cersei said.

“Consider it done!” Qyburn said.

“Is there anything else of interest?” Cersei asked.

“The only other interesting lead is that I have also received a letter from my little bird in Winterfell that several tribes of Wildlings are expected to arrive shortly, and that they see Jon as their King. Most alarming since they rarely approve of kings and this is the first time someone from south of the Wall has been chosen by them.” Qyburn answered.

“Surely they can be persuaded to turn on their bastard king.” Cersei said smirking.

“Wouldn't hurt to try.” Qyburn said and shrugged.

“Very well, I will write those rock bangers a letter promising I will give them control of the North if they betray Jon and his dominatrix.” Cersei said with command in her voice.

“Your grace, if the wildlings somehow manage to be victorious they will greatly be crippled and of little use as bannermen. More likely they will be wiped out!” Qyburn said alarmed.

“Exactly!” Cersei said and gulped down the rest of her wine.

 

Chapter Text

All the warriors of Bear Island gathered in the Winterfell courtyard to hear what their Lady had to say. The Little Bear stood on a wooden platform and looked out into the sea of forest green surcoats charged with black bears rampant. She too wore that surcoat over her armor, a suit of blackened steel plate. Bear Islander girls were trained in arms and armor alongside their brothers, Lyanna's mother Maege and her sisters were all notoriously ferocious warriors. Sadly they were all killed at the Red Wedding, which is how Lyanna became Lady of Bear Island. However there were persistent rumors her mother and sisters cheated death by warging into bears and continued the war by devouring Frey, Bolton, and Lannister men wherever they found them.

Gods I miss them. I wish I knew how mother would have responded to Jon bending the knee to a foreign queen.

“The Warden has received intel on the Army of the Dead, he has informed me he will ask Bran where they will strike next. If he wants us to go, we ask where! If he wants us to stay at Winterfell we ask for how long!” Lyanna said.

“Warden? We wanted a King! Not a Warden!” A Bear Islander groaned.

“I have no love for Daenerys! I wish he would have listened to us and never left the North to go meet her. But he is still my liege and I don't get to decide where he hangs his boots. I bent the knee to him as his Bannerwoman, and I am still obligated to do as he says whether I approve of his decisions or not, as you all should do as I say!” Lyanna said.

“He's no longer fit to be our liege! We should go back home!” Another one groaned.

“Say one more word about desertion or flirt with treason, and I will slash your jugular and make sure the Starks and Dragon Queen are in attendance!” Lyanna growled Everyone was dead silent after that. Lyanna scanned the crowd and it seemed some were terrified, while others seemed approving of her threat to dispense justice.

“I will ask Jon what he wants of us next time I see him, then we will make it so. You're dismissed. Here we stand!” Lyanna said then pounded her ax and shield together to make an echoing drum sound.

As the Bear Islanders left Lyanna noticed there was a tall man in a white surcoat standing on the sidelines, he bore a sigil of a black bear.

Oh, must be cousin Jorah.

“What do you want?” Lyanna asked.

“I just wanted to congratulate you, that was a rousing speech. When I was your age I got so frightened in front of crowds.” Jorah said.

“Thanks, I suppose. I've been doing it for years now.” Lyanna said. She glanced and his belt and noticed he had a fine sword with an antler handle.

“You like it? Valyrian steel, just got it as from someone not skilled in swordplay. He figured it would be better if someone qualified wielded it.” Jorah said.

“All Valyrian weapons are nice. Jon said he offered you Longclaw back but you turned it down. I would have liked to have that for when I'm taller, if I ever get tall enough to wield it. I'm sure my future son would have to.” Lyanna said.

“I forfeited my right to wield it when I brought disgrace to our House. Your uncle Jeor wanted Jon to have it anyway, he went so far as to replace the bear head pommel with a wolf one. Jon is a good man and I appreciate his offer, but I could not in conscience accept it. He insisted but when I explained to him he agreed.

Good for him,but I still want a Valyrian weapon with a weirwood hilt.

“So do you believe that serving the Dragon Queen has brought you some kind of redemption, Jorah?” Lyanna asked.

“Lyanna, it doesn't matter what I believe. She believes it has, but I'm afraid in the eyes of most Northerners it has only made it worse.” Jorah said after a bit of thought.

“Fair enough. I just know if I get married I'll steer clear of rich Southron men.” Lyanna said and they both laughed.

“You show wisdom beyond your years! If only I knew to avoid rich Southron women in my 20s, I'd be Lord of Bear Island! Don't worry, you'd be my most prized Bannerwoman.” Jorah said.

“You probably would have died alongside my mother and sisters!” Lyanna said.

“For the love of the gods please tell me you won't be fighting!” Said Jorah.

“Of course I will! What kind of Bear Islander would I be if curled up in a corner with soiled pants while my men are risking their lives?” Asked Lyanna fiercely.

“I understand your desire to be a good vassal, but if you die then our House is extinct! Even if I survive!” Jorah said sternly.

“Nonsense! Just ask Jon to ask your queen to make you Lord of Bear Island! If I sat out the war then our House is better off dead.” Lyanna said.

“I wouldn't accept Longclaw, you really think I'd accept the lordship? Or that most Bear Islanders would? I'll be forever known as the man who brought dishonor to Bear Island, and to the entire North. I've accepted that. You are too young to really understand how much the scandal rocked all of Westeros. Besides I'm in the Queensguard now.” Jorah said.

“As you wish. But I'm fighting in the war and that is final. I wish you good fortune, cousin.” Lyanna said then took off her clawed gauntlet and offered her hand.

“And I wish you good fortune as well, cousin!” Jorah said he shook her hand.

Just as Jorah was walking away Lyanna noticed a rattling sound in the bushes. She approached the moving bush and saw there was a figure clad in furs and bronze arm bands with runes, he had a big red beard.

“Come out, I see you!” Lyanna demanded.

The red bearded-man complied. Twigs and leaves were trapped in his beard.

“Sorry, I was listening to your speech and thought you did a rousing good job!” Said the red-bearded man as he clapped his hands.

“Why were you hiding in the bushes?” Lyanna asked puzzled.

“I'm a Freeman! Most Bear Islanders hate the Freefolk. Well most of them, anyway. Not all of them. Your cousin doesn't! Me and him went back to my home to capture a wight with Jon. At first I was hesitant about working with the son of Jeor, but he's a good old sport! There's others who don't as well!” The red-bearded man said.

“I don't hate them, never met one before now. Can't think of any other Bear Islanders that don't, your people used to raid us all the time.” Lyanna said, more confused than ever.

“Not sure how to say this, but I think I might be your father!” The red-bearded man said.

Is he blooming mad?

“And what makes you say that?” Lyanna asked sharply.

“Because I fucked your mother! Several times! Unless your mother isn't Maege Mormont!” Her possible father said.

“She was!” Lyanna said.

“Was?” He asked.

“She was killed by the Lannisters.” She replied.

“That does it, when the Night King is dead I'm marching South with the rest! I loved your mother, most fiery woman I've been with. I had little interest in that Cersei bitch, but she and her House will pay for what they did! My name is Tormund Giantsbane, by the way.”

“How in the Known World did you even meet her?” Lyanna asked.

“I was on a raiding expedition to Bear Island, maybe thirty years ago. All of the men were away and your mother and the rest of the women defended the island and killed everyone else in the party. Some of them had raided it a few years prior with great success, the men were on it at the time. Your people are maybe the only Southron kneelers to realize women fight better than men! Nothing gets between a woman and her children, like a bear with her cubs!” Tormund said.

“Southron? We're Northerners!” Lyanna said.

“Freefolk consider anyone from south of the Wall to be a Southroner, but Bear Islanders are as close to the True North as any kneeler can get. Anyway, your mother whacked me pretty good with her mace. I realized there was no way out alive, so I yielded. She carried me over to some old man wearing a chain around his robe. He took care of me and your mother always came by to give me food. We started talking, and eventually we fell in love. I couldn't stay, so I left shortly after we fucked. I came back five times after that, most recently maybe twelve, thirteen or fourteen years ago!” Tormund said.

“I'm thirteen!” Lyana said astonished.

“Well there you have it!” Tormund said.

“I'm a legitimized bastard, I was born Lyanna Snow. All my sisters were born Snow, but we got legitimized pretty early. Mother never told us about you, she was very tight lipped. Nobody knew who our father was, or if we even had the same one.” Lyanna said.

A surge of emotion rushed through Lyanna's body. For years she had wondered who her father was, he was as much a mystery as Jon's mother. Being a legitimized bastard never bothered her, she was legitimized by her second name day so she would have never known had she not been told. Now she at long last had an answer, one that was scandalous but made perfect senses. She looked into Tormund's eyes and saw they were flooding with tears of joy.

“Come here you!” Tormund said then picked her up off the ground and have her a bear hug, effortlessly despite her armor.

“I can't believe we finally met!” Lyanna said as she wrapped her arms around her father.

 

Chapter Text

While all the North was fretting over the Night King, the Onion Knight wondered if he was the only one who was more concerned about the aftermath. Should the Night King win they would all be in the Army of the Dead and everyone's problems would be solved. Should he lose then life would go on and the question of who would sit on the Iron Throne would be relevant again. Davos knew the Night King was the more pressing issue, but as a thinking man and not much of a fighting one he was preoccupied with the next step.

Jon and Daenerys must prove themselves worthy of the Throne, if Tyrion, Varys, and I can convince them to rule together then they can make a case that will appeal to their respective supporters.

Davos paced around his room in the guesthouse, pondering what should be done after the Night King was dealt with. They would need time to build up their strength before attacking Cersei's forces, but Davos worried that she could just send the Golden Company preemptively. To get his mind off things for a break he tried reading a book Shireen had given him, but then he was pelted with memories of her and it filled him with sorrow. He hoped to finish the book, but knew it would not happen for a great while. Just as he shelved the book he heard a knock on the door.

“Come in!” Davos said.

It was Jon's friend Samwell Tarly, he was carrying a portable slate chalkboard like the ones Maesters used to instruct their students.

“Do you have a moment to talk about something? It's important!” Sam said.

“Of course! I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what course of action should be once the Night King is dead.” Davos said.

“Well I can help with that. Please have a seat, what I'm about to tell, um write, you might be disquieting!”

Must be really bad if he can't just whisper it!

“Alright, lay it on me!” Said Davos as he sat down. Sam pulled out a stick of chalk from his robe pocket and started writing. Once Sam was finished he handed Davos the chalkboard.

The chalkboard read:

“Bran and I have have uncovered the truth of Jon's parentage. His father wasn't Ned Stark, it was Rhaegar Targaryen and his mother was Lyanna Stark. I found a Septon's journal that mentions him officiating their wedding, they loved each other and Robert's Rebellion was built on a lie. Lyanna's dying wish to Ned was that he would raise Jon as his own son in order to protect him. Jon's birth name is Aegon Targaryen and he is the rightful king.”

Seven hells that makes too much sense! It always baffled me to think that Ned would have ever been unfaithful. Melisandre also seemed to take quite an interest in Jon, just like she did with Gendry. Her interest in Gendry was clearly because he had King's Blood, something which Jon has even more of. No wonder she tried to seduce him, good thing he rejected her.

Davos wiped off the chalkboard and wrote his own message. It read:

“This is shocking news, but I see how it could be. Do you have anyone besides yourself and Bran who can vouch this claim? Eyewitnesses perhaps?”

Sam read the message, then wrote one reading:

“Yes, Howland Reed. He was present when Ned made the vow to Lyanna, I believe that's part of why he was in hiding for so long. He brought several letters to and from Ned that discuss Jon's identity, including one where Ned says he would support a Targaryen restoration should Daenerys invade due to distaste over what Robert did.”

Davos then wrote a message that read:

“Right proper investigation. You're a true scholar. How do you plan on telling Jon and Daenerys this information? And why are you telling me?”

Sam wrote a message reading:

“We decided we will summon them to the crypts, because Rhaegar's lyre is next to Lyanna's statue and that provides tangible evidence. I am telling you because they both respect you, and we need you to talk some sense into either in the event of an adverse reaction. We predict either she will be upset about not being the rightful heir, or he will be distressed about her being his aunt. Or both. Whatever happens, we need you to be there and help them through it.”

Davos wrote a message reading:

“I recently had a meeting with Tyrion and Varys where I proposed they marry and rule together as husband and wife. He can temper her worst tendencies, and she can help give him the ambition he seems to lack. People already respect Jon as a Stark's bastard, finding out he's a Targaryen will remove much of the blemish from that name.”

Sam wrote a message reading:

“Howland has some friends who know the truth about the Night King, they believe that Jon and Daenerys are vital instruments to defeating the Army of the Dead. Our hope is that will help motivate them to embrace their heritage.”

Davos wrote a message reading:

“I've never been a believer in signs and wonders, but both of them seem to be. If that's what gives them the morale to defeat the Night King, then such notions are more then welcome whether they are literally true or not. Jon in particular has a special bloodline, the son of a dragon and she-wolf. Small wonder people would believe he's some kind of promised messiah.”

Finally, Sam wrote a message that read:

“Thanks for your time, either me or Howland will let you know when we are going to tell them. Have a good day and remember, don't tell anyone this news.”

Once Davos signaled that he had read it Sam wiped off the chalkboard and left. Davos remained seated and let the news sink in. He opened his window and saw Daenerys petting Ghost, with Jon standing next to his pet. They all looked so happy, Davos hoped it would survive.

 

Chapter Text

Once Daenerys returned from the Reed camp she met back up with Jon in the courtyard. Jorah parted ways with her and went to watch his cousin Lady Mormont give a speech. Daenerys had always hoped to be a hero and inspiration for girls, so it cut her deeply that Lyanna seemed to despise her despite clear and unflinching loyalty to Jon.

Gods I hope Jon and Jorah can soften her heart towards me, I feel we have much in common.

“How did it go?” Jon asked. Ghost was sitting at his side.

“Great! The armor should be ready for me in a couple of days, hopefully before we must face the Night King. After my measurements were done, I stayed a bit and they fed me a delicious stew with barley, kidney beans, sassafras, long pepper, lizard lion, frog, turtle, crayfish, peccary sausage, and other things I'm sure I'm forgetting. They were so embarrassed when I asked what was in it; apparently people look down on them for eating such animals. I told them I've eaten horse and dog in Essos and I love trying new things, they were thrilled!” Daenerys answered.

“I guess you'll have to take me over there some time so I can try it. Arya too.” Jon said. Daenerys noticed Ghost was saddled.

“Why is he saddled up?” Asked Daenerys.

“I thought a queen would deserve a break from walking everywhere. You let me ride Rhaegal, least I could do is let you ride my boy Ghost!” Replied Jon.

“You're such a good boy! Yes you are!” Daenerys said in a baby voice as she squatted down and petted Ghost. He licked her face.

“Ghost! Stop!” Jon said sternly.

“Oh it's quite alright! Hope you're not just jealous that somebody else is licking me! Don't worry, only you get the other lips!” Daenerys said and winked, Jon blushed.

“I just thought you might mind.” Jon said and shrugged.

“Why would I mind? He's just showing that he likes me, no different than you!”

“Stand!” Jon commanded Ghost. Ghost complied.

“Now do I put my foot in the stirrup and hop on?” Daenerys asked. Jon signaled yes and she got on Ghost and Jon led them to the gate of the Godswood.

The Godswood was unlike anything Daenerys had ever seen. Birds could be heard singing and the scent of evergreens filled her nostrils. Many of the trees were massive; the youngest were a few centuries, while others it seemed were a thousand years old at least. Such trees had thick serpentine branches sleeved with moss and cyclopean trunks. The canopy of treetops provided a filter for the snow, here the only snow was in patches from gaps in the canopy. Light came down from the gaps and the snow helped magnify it.

This is just like something from an old ballad, so breathtaking.

“How do you like it so far?” Asked Jon.

“Like it? I love it! Never been to anywhere like this before!” Answered Daenerys.

“Does Essos not have forests?”

“Essos does, but I never got to visit any. My brother always told me forests were evil places, full of witches and goblins waiting to kidnap little girls and eat them. Even after he died I didn't get any chances to visit one, but I've seen paintings and tapestries of them.”

“Look up in that ironwood! There's a family of squirrels!” Jon said, pointing to a tall, naked, black tree with slender branches.

“So adorable! I love fuzzy little critters!” Daenerys said.

“Plenty of those around here! There's chipmunks and rabbits too.” Jon said.

“I'd heard about Godswoods, but I always thought they were only a garden with some orchids planted. I never would have guessed they were a whole forest inside a castle's walls! Does every castle have them?” Daenerys asked.

“I haven't visited every castle! But I believe all of them in the North do except for New Castle, which is House Manderly's seat. They worship the Seven, but I know many Southron castles have Godswoods as well.” Jon responded.

“Ooh look at all those mushrooms!” Said Daenerys as she pointed to a fungal colony.

“Yes we have many! Alright here we are!” Said Jon as he stopped and Ghost stopped soon after. In front of the trio was a tall thick tree with branches like a kraken's tentacles, blood red leaves and bone white bark. Carved into its trunk was a grim face with blood-like sap slowly oozing from its mouth and eyes.

Is this a work of art, or is it a sentient being?

Jon wrapped his arms around Daenerys and picked her up with a graceful swing. Once her feet were on the ground he planted a kiss.

“So this is one of the Old Gods? Viserys always said Northerners worship trees, he scoffed at the practice.” Daenerys asked.

“No, but it's a receptacle for the Old Gods. They are nameless and countless; not just found in the trees, but also in the rivers we drink from, and the winds we breathe in. We have no use for temples or septs, because we simply pray in the woods or crypts instead. We don't have any scriptures either, so no need for clergy to interpret them. The only ceremonies we have are weddings and funerals. Heart Trees watch over us, they give the Old Gods their power.” Jon said.

“Fascinating! How did the worship of the Old Gods begin? Did the First Men introduce them to Westeros the way the Andals introduced the Seven?” Daenerys asked.

“Originally the First Men worshiped several different deities. They had names and while not innumerable there were many. Each region had their own gods apparently, but its been so long most have been entirely forgotten. The Old Gods are the native religion of Westeros, they were worshiped by the Children of the Forest. When the First Men settled Westeros they got along with the Children, but it didn't last. The First Men turned aggressive and started burning down weirwoods which, caused a war. Eventually the war ended with treaty between the First Men and the Children known as the Green Pact. The terms of the Green pact led to the First Men largely abandoning their gods in favor of the gods of the Children.” Jon said.

“So they just all up and forsook their original gods?” Daenerys asked.

“Not all of them. Most Freefolk worship the Old Gods, but those in regions such as the Frozen Shore, Frostfangs, and Storrold's Point still have their own local gods. Weirwoods don't grow in those areas so the Old Gods aren't of much use to them. The Sister Islands used to have their own gods, but they gave it up in favor of the Seven. The Skagosi seem to worship the Old Gods but have names and images of them, as they mentioned when they gave us gifts. Then there's the Iron Islands and their Drowned God, weirwoods don't grow there either. Most Maesters believe the Ironborn are First Men, but most Ironborn are deeply offended by that notion because their faith teaches that they're the descendants of merlings.” Jon replied.

“I appreciate you for telling me all this. When I'm queen I'll need plenty of tutoring, I want to be able to understand my domain as much as I can. Missandei knows a lot about Westeros, but reading about it from books can never compare to living here.” Daenerys said.

“You're desire to understand your subjects is admirable, far too many kings have been ignorant of the people they rule. My father always had breakfast and lunch with Winterfell's household staff. For each meal he'd have a different staffer over and he'd listen to them talk about themselves, that way he could get to know them. He would offer them advice on whatever issues they were facing, and on occasion would give them financial assistance. Once he'd done this with all of them he would start the rotation again. He took his job as Lord as seriously as he did being a father, and any father worth his salt knows all his children well.” Said Jon.

“Your father sounds like such a remarkable man, I wish could've met him. I have no doubt he would be most proud of the man you've become.” Said Daenerys.

“Frankly I wonder how he'd feel about me bending the knee to a Targaryen, let alone becoming the lover of one.” Jon said and hung his head.

“You said he always taught you not to judge a child by their parent's actions! I am no more guilty of burning your grandfather and uncle than you are of adultery, I'm sure he'd realize that. Arya gave us her blessing, and I'm sure Sansa will eventually. We need to focus on getting support from the living, not wondering about what could have been from the dead.” Daenerys said.

“You're right, which reminds me there is something I need to talk to you about. Its urgent.” Jon said, he looked grim.

I thought something seemed off with him.

“Sure, anything.” Daenerys said, her eyebrows furrowing.

“I spoke with my friend Sam while you were gone, the one who operated on Jorah. He told me that Jorah informed him that you ordered the executions of his father and brother. Now I understand why you did it, I can't say that I'd have done any differently, but he is deeply distressed about it and you need to be more cautious in who you execute!” Jon said.

“They refused to bend the knee! Even though their liege lady was already sworn to me! That's treason! What was I supposed to do? Slap their wrists?” Daenerys asked perturbed.

“Like I said, I think you did the right thing. But you need to be careful because your actions could damage your image, shit like that could get people to oppose you more then they already do. You want people to see you as a just queen, not a foreign invader.” Jon said.

“But I AM a just queen! Where's the justice in allowing open rebellion to go unpunished? If I let such behavior slide they will think I'm weak!” Daenerys said.

“Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't execute those deserving of it. I don't know how people are executed in Essos, but in Westeros burning is seen as both cruel and unusual. The only time its been used in recent memory was by Melisandre, a witch and priestess of a foreign cult who brainwashed one of the most honest and upright of kings. Here we hang and behead, both of which are swift and fairly painless if done properly.” Jon said.

“Very well, from now on I will only authorize hanging and beheading and will consult with my advisers beforehand.”

“Excellent. Followers of the Old Gods believe the man that passes the sentence should swing the sword. My father never passed a death sentence he didn't carry out, neither did my brother Robb nor I. Every Northern Lord does the same. Part of the duties of the Warden of the North is being the de facto headsman for the Crown in the North. From now on I will carry out any death sentences you pass. In the south they have headsman do such dirty work, so they won't mind that you don't do the work yourself.” Jon said.

“Have you confronted Arya about her crimes?” Daenerys asked.

“Crimes?” Jon asked, his face looked soured and perplexed.

“Oh, she didn't tell you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Last night Arya told to me that she was the one who killed all the male Freys, in retaliation for what they did to your brother and her mother. I figured you knew, I wouldn't have brought it up if I knew she didn't. I'll spare you the details, they're pretty grisly.” Daenerys said.

Jon covered his mouth in shock. For a few moments he was speechless and he sat down on the bench in front of the pond.

“I knew that she killed people, we all have. But wiping out an entire house? I worried about what all the trauma she endured had done to her.” Jon said.

“So are you going to talk to her about that?” Daenerys asked and sat down next to him. She put her arm around him.

“I must. I love her with all my heart, but this news makes me fear she might be heading down a dark path, one that will only end in madness or death.”

 

Chapter Text

From the ramparts Sansa sat with her friend Jeyne Poole and drank white wine. Sansa usually drank tea at this hour, but the day before had a most unfortunate incident with a bird that made her not want tea for a while. Jon and Daenerys had passed through the courthouse; it looked like he was taking her to the Godswood.

How dare he take that stallion fucker to our sacred land! He's letting her ride his direwolf the same way he's letting her fuck our House! If Arya didn't get Lady killed I would have never let anyone ride on her but me.

“Most thrilling to see one of Jon's vassals standing up for the North when even he won't! Hopefully Lyanna can persuade him to leave that fat assed whore!” Sansa said. Lyanna was on a platform in the courtyard giving a speech to the Bear Islanders.

“I heard Arya has taken quite a liking to her. Do you think, um, never mind.” Jeyne said then had a sip of her wine. Arya was on the other side of the ramparts, still dressed in her Skagosi button blanket and cedar hat. She appeared to be marching with an oar as a baton.

“Don't go there!” Sansa said sternly. She had already went there to Arya's face and could see the allegation cut her like a dagger, even though it was in jest.

“Sorry. I see you all got gifts from the Skagosi, I always heard they sacrificed anyone who landed on their island to their appease dark gods!” Jeyne said in a painfully obvious attempt to change the subject as quickly as possible.

“Jon says those rumors are false, of course he is also friends with Wildlings now. Speaking of which, looks like Lyanna is talking with one!” Sansa said and pointed to Lyanna speaking with a red-bearded Wildling dressed in furs.

“Even if it were true I suppose there's plenty of sick shit on the mainland. Look at the Boltons!” Jeyne said nonchalantly.

“I, um, gotta leave now. You can have the rest of my wine.” Sansa said then abruptly got up and walked away.

Such flippant mention of the Boltons conjured a tempest of traumatic memories. What Ramsay did to her and the things she saw him do to others still tormented her, and she often wondered whether she would ever be freed from those scars. Sometimes it was a reminder of the Boltons during daytime, other times it was nightmares were she would wake up in a cold sweat believing it was still going on. She remembered what Theon had told her, not to say things couldn't get any worse because things can always get worse. A dog was heard barking from a distance, and suddenly her ears filled with the snarling of a whole kennel of starving hounds.

Fuck! Not this again!

Sweat beaded and covered Sansa's body and she found it difficult to breath. Everything around her started to spin so she laid on the ground before she could fall. Her heart pounded in her chest like a drum and soon it was competing with the nonexistent kennel to dominate her hearing. Each breath felt labored and soon she was passed out cold.

“Sansa!!! Sansa!!! Somebody help!!!” A voice said as Sansa regained consciousness. Arya loomed over, tears and snot rolling down her puffy red face. Sansa realized Arya had put her blanket over her. Arya wiped her nose off with her sleeve then detached a water skin from her belt and gave Sansa a drink. The cold water felt was refreshing and Sansa gulped the skin empty.

“What happened?” Sansa asked weakly, water dripping down her chin.

“I think you just had a waking terror, I get those too sometimes. Help should be coming soon.” Arya said then kissed Sansa on the forehead. “It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay. I won't let anything happen.” Arya softly rubbed Sansa's face and hair to comfort her.

“I rushed up the moment I heard you call for help!” Another voice behind Sansa said.

Sounds like the Hound!

“I need you to carry her to her bedchamber, she suffered a terror!” Arya said.

“Waking terrors are a bitch. Don't worry Little Dove, me and your sister will keep your safe.” The Hound said.

The Hound picked Sansa up and carried her with Arya by their side. Once they reached Sansa's bedchamber Arya unfolded the bed's blankets, then the Hound laid her down. Arya unwrapped her button blanket off Sansa then tucked her in and kissed her cheek.

“I should have went with you when you gave the chance. Then I wouldn't have had any of this happen.” Sansa told the Hound.

“Don't blame yourself! The world is overflowing with wastes of cum like Jofferey, Ramsey, and my brother and nobody is to blame but them. None of it is your fault! Believing otherwise gives those depraved cunts power over you, even from the fucking grave. I'm leaving now, Little Dove, your sister will be here for you.” The Hound said with great conviction then left the room.

Gods he's right, I did nothing wrong.

“Do you remember when I told you that you survived situations I would have been killed in?” Arya asked.

“Of course, that meant a lot to me.” Sansa replied.

“Sandor saved my ass too many times to count, but there were also times he couldn't and I had to defend myself. He could have taught you how to use a sword, but good luck finding one that you could handle. I only fared so well because Jon had Needle designed with me in mind and I already had plenty of water dancing lessons. So there's a good chance you may have been killed if you went with Sandor. Sometimes I wish I could have changed past decisions, but then I realize there's no going back or guarantee things would be any better.” Arya said.

“Thanks, you really put that in perspective. So you've had terrorss too?” Sansa asked.

“Yes. Not as often as I used to, but it still happens.” Arya replied.

“Do you have nightmares about Father's death or anything you encountered on the road? I still get nightmares about Father's death sometimes.” Sansa asked.

“I have. Sandor woke me up from that a few times. However now I'm usually aware when I'm dreaming, have you been to the Dream Lands?” Arya said.

“I don't think so. When Lady was still alive I had dreams I entered her body and roamed around, I knew I was dreaming then.” Sansa responded.

“Nymeria is still alive and I have those types of dreams with her, just had one last night in fact. Jon woke me and he said he has those dreams too with Ghost. I learned how to warg in Braavos, I never told you because I didn't want to weird you out or make you jealous. Jon says he can warg into Ghost, but not for very long.” Arya said.

“You didn't want to 'weird me out?' You are weird!” Sansa said and they both laughed.

“I'm glad to see you're feeling better! I'll head to the kitchens and have Nigella make a lunch for you.” Arya said and smiled ear to ear.

“I'm sorry for being a bitch to you earlier!” Sansa said.

“You're sorry for 'being' a bitch? You are a bitch! But you're still my sister and I love you anyway!” Arya said and they laughed again.

“I love you too!” Sansa said.

Arya stooped over and gave her a loving embrace.

 

Chapter Text

When Gendry arrived in Winterfell he was immediately given the unenviable task of taking charge of the armory and playing a major role in overseeing siege defenses. While back in King's Landing he managed to persuade his old master Tobho Mott to come along and bring all his squires, tools, and materials. Doing so required buying an entire cog to sail it all up to White Harbor, where a wagon train was hired to join the royal procession to Winterfell.

In the Winterfell forges the apprentices slaved away, forging as many dragon glass weapons as they could in quick succession. Gendry and Tobho carried out the production of custom orders, both weapons and armor. Gendry had wanted to visit with his friend Arya, he had briefly seen her in the audience during the Winterfell procession. Regrettably, he was much too busy in the forge to take time to look for her.

Hopefully she'll stop by here, maybe Needle needs some work.

“I really don't see the sense in worrying about crests on Queensguard helms! And each member gets a unique one? That's madness!” Gendry said as crafted a elephant crest.

“What you call madness I call good patronage, I am an artist first and foremost. I was honored to produce the arms and armor for the Kingsguard, but I tired of producing the same helmet seven times! My work is most rewarding when I get to produce items with variety. Daenerys knows the power of presentation, she dresses meticulously because she realizes it gives her both command and charisma. So she wants the same for her protectors.” Tobho said, he was working on a crest shaped like a scorpion.

He always has been too much of an artist.

“I understand that, but now is not the time to worry about custom helmets!” Gendry said.

“It's a relatively simple and brief task, if we impress her with this then after the war she might commission us for bigger jobs.” Tobho said.

“That will mean nothing if the Dead win!” Gendry said frustrated.

“In that case, at least the Queensguard will be the most stylish soldiers in the Night King's Army!” Tobho said and laughed. Gendry was not amused in the least.

There was a knock on the door.

“Come in!” Tobho yelled. It was Jaime Lannister. “Welcome Jaime! How's Widow's Wail holding up?”

“Excellent, far easier maintenance than any other sword I've owned.” Jaime answered.

“Glad to hear it, I'm thankful your father put my skills to full use!” Tobho said.

“Why yes, he took great pride in hiring you when he could have had any other smith forge new blades of conventional steel for far cheaper.” Jaime said.

“If you have any more Valyrian steel to work with, then I'd be thrilled to make you something!” Tobho said.

“I'm afraid I don't, but you needn't worry. Soon there will be plenty of unclaimed Valryian steel blades lying around. Actually I've come for you to work on this!” Jaime said, then pulled off his golden prosthetic.

“You want a lighter material perhaps?” Gendry offered.

“Not necessarily. My brother is an avid draftsman in his free time and he designed this blueprint for an upgrade on my hand. Told me you could craft it.” Jaime said and pulled out a schematic.

“Most impressive!” Tobho said as he put on his spectacles.

After scanning the document for a few minutes Tobho handed it to Gendry. The design featured a hinge so the fingers could be clasped shut, which was done by turning a small detachable crank. All the moving parts were the forge had in inventory or could be easily produced.

“Is this some sort of novelty? I understand your current hand is mostly for looks, but I can't imagine one that moves by crank would be much better.” Gendry said then resumed working on the crests, it irked him that Tobho had stopped.

“Actually its a vast improvement. Ever since I lost my best hand my swordplay has been utter shit. Imagine using a hammer with your lesser hand and trying to craft something like that. Tyrion figured if I had a hand that opens and clamps shut then I'd be able wield a sword again. He's always been very clever like that, when he rides horses he uses a special set of tack he designed himself. The reigns are longer and the stirrups are higher. When he showed me the finished product he said the world wasn't designed with him in mind, so his two options were to lament that fact or remedy it. He elected to remedy it and has once again, this time for me.” Jaime said.

“Your brother sounds like quite the engineer, there's no way I could come up with such a sophisticated design. I always thought he'd do well at the Citadel, with such a wide breadth of skills and knowledge he could have been Grand Maester!” Tobho said.

When Tobho Mott admits he couldn't design something so well that's always a sign its truly exceptional work.

“Tyrion applied for the Citadel; but Father had the application burned before the raven could be sent off. 'No child of mine will be subservient to a lesser House' he always said. Oddly enough his cousin is a Maester -- for House Manderly I believe. At another point Tyrion wanted to become a novice at a monastery, but Father was even more furious at the thought of him becoming a monk. Father was not a pious man and neither are my siblings, but I do try and serve the Warrior the best I can. Honestly, I think Tyrion was more drawn to the thought of being accepted into a close community than to serving the Seven.” Jaime said.

“I'm from Qohor, the City of Sorcerers. The black arts are highly prestigious there, and like any self respecting youth I was an apprentice to one of the namesake wizards. At first it was fascinating, but I found spells to be dull. I've never been one for rote memorization, which is a problem since in magic one small deviation alters the operation entirely. Art and crafting has always been where my passions laid, so I finished out my contract then became the apprentice for a smith. When I was a journeyman I was commissioned to craft a goat head shaped helm for an up and coming sellsword, he and my master were so satisfied with it I was promoted to master.” Tobho said.

“You're telling Jaime this because........” Gendry asked annoyed.

“Oh yes! Because I can improve upon this already phenomenal design with incantations that will augment mobility and protection!” Tobho said proudly.

“I've always been a skeptic, Seven Hells I didn't even believe in Others or wights before I saw the latter in front of me! Magic I'll confess I'm still wary of, but I won't turn down anything that can give me a further edge in battle. Just have it done soon, Jon plans to consult Bran about the Army of the Dead's location tonight and act accordingly tomorrow.” Jaime said.

“We won't be able to have it done that quickly, but should be soon!” Tobho said.

“Very well, I'll be leaving now. Here is half your payment, Tyrion calculated the compensation by the hours of labor estimated and the cost of the materials and added double since we're Lannisters, you'll receive the other half when it's completed. If it's completed, that is.” Jaime said as he handed Tobho a fat purple velvet purse full of gold dragons then walked off.

“My word! We could produce whole new suits of armor and new arms for the Queensguard with this kind of money!” Tobho said as he emptied the purse on a workbench.

“Don't tell me you intend on doing that!” Gendry said sternly.

“No, of course not! We have several projects to work on so that would be unprofessional.” Tobho said dismissively.

“Tyrion's design is impeccable, this is clearly someone with a mind for engineering but not afraid to go against the grain. Perhaps he can help us with some of the castle defense mechanisms, construction has only just begun so there's time to implement any improvements he comes up with.” Gendry said, poring over the mechanical hand blueprint.

“I was going to suggest just that, you should go speak with Jon and the Winterfell castellan. I'm sure they'd be thrilled to have another mind on board.” Tobho said, then resumed work on the final helm crest.

 

Chapter Text

The lovers left the Godswood as they had entered, with Daenerys on Ghost's back and Jon leading them. Only this time there was far less chatter, for Jon was profoundly disturbed at the news that his darling baby sister was now a wanton murderer.

“All you alright Jon? You look upset, I know that face well.” Daenerys asked.

“Yes, I am. I'm still mortified about Arya.” Jon said.

“The Freys murdered your brother! Walder was a stingy and opportunistic coward, now the Twins can be controlled by a more worthy lord!” Said Daenerys.

I love her with all my heart, but gods I worry about her thought process sometime!

“Not all of them were responsible. Many of them weren't even at the Red Wedding, but it sounds like Arya killed them regardless. They didn't deserve to be punished for their father's crimes, just as we don't for the crimes of ours.” Jon said.

“I suppose things are done differently back in Essos. So are you going to talk to Arya about what she did?” Asked Daenerys.

“I will, in due time. But first we need to visit with Bran, so we can find out where the Army of the Dead is located. Then we'll know the next course of action.” Jon replied.

“Try not to tell her that I'm the one who told her, I don't want her to be angry with me.” Daenerys said, she looked horrified.

“Fine, I won't tell her who I heard it from. We can't afford to lose her support.” Jon said.

“Its not her support I fear losing!” Daenerys said.

“What is it then?” Jon asked, her statement was dumbfounding to him.

“I've always had difficulty making friends, I think its because I didn't have many growing up so I never really learned. Arya seems to befriend people easily, we opened up instantly. That's how I found out about what she did to the Freys in the first place.” Daenerys said.

She has difficulty making friends? How can a girl as breathtaking as her not make friends with ease? No wonder she's taken such a liking to Arya.

“I'm thrileld you two have really clicked already, but it surprises and saddens me friends don't come easy to you.” Jon said.

“Growing up constantly on the run meant I never had much time to get to know any other kids. Just when I'd start to know a few I'd find out we were leaving, yet again. So after a few moves I stopped trying. My handmaids and Missandei are the first true friends I've had.” Daenerys said.

“Missandei? I thought she was a lo–”

“No, not exactly. Just two friends who enjoyed discrete spots of naughtiness, nothing serious.” Daenerys said, cutting off Jon.

“Not something I'd ever ever do with my friends, but I don't see anything wrong with that.” Jon said and shrugged.

“Thank you for not telling her I told you!” Daenerys said, her violet eyes sparkled.

“Of course, I love you and want to respect your wishes, within reason. Besides, I don't want Arya to be upset with you.” Jon said.

“Kiss me!” Daenerys said as she puckered her full lips, they popped out impressively far. Jon complied, he urged Ghost to stop for a bit, then kissed Daenerys softly and rubbed her back and ran her fingers through her long, silvery hair.

“Every day I thank the Old Gods that I found you. When Ygritte died I didn't think I'd ever find another, of course I had no desire to. That's why I turned down Melisandre, couldn't lay with her since my heart still bled for another.” Jon said, he signaled Ghost to continue walking.

“I wouldn't have been able to reject her! You have stronger self control than I do! When Drogo died I was devastated. I dealt with the pain, in my own ways. Having dragon hatchlings certainly helped. I'm so lucky to have a man as loyal as you.” Daenerys said, she did her lovely squinty smile where her teeth were bared to the gums and her cheeks wrinkled.

Gods she's so perfect for me, and she seems to think I'm perfect for her.

Soon they reached the exit of the Godswood. Jon scanned the courtyard, he was curious if anyone else had showed up to Winterfell. Didn't look like anyone had.

“Now we need to find Bran, ask him to find the Night King for us.” Jon said grimly.

“So he can see whatever he likes?” Daenerys asked, her eyebrows furled in bewilderment at such a notion.

“I'm not sure the limits of it, or if he has limits, but I know he can see anything in the present. The past too, I believe. But not the future, as far as I know. He's a greenseer, they're the most advanced of the wargs.” Jon answered frantically to explain it all simply.

“A warg? Aren't they the people who can have their spirits leave their bodies and enter animals? Jorah said some Mormonts can do that to bears!” Daenerys said excitedly.

“Yes. I can do it to Ghost, and Arya does it to her dire wolf as well as other creatures. House Stark histories say there used to be several Stark wargs, but that vanished when dire wolves died out south of the Wall. I'll never forget when I was with Father and my brothers on our way back from a beheading and we found Ghost and Nymeria, alongside their siblings, still suckling on their dead mother. Might as well have been a mammoth, of course its nothing compared to seeing a dragon since those were actually thought to be completely extinct.” Jon said.

“So is warging a Northern gift?” Daenerys asked.

“No, some Southroners can do it too, just not as many. We believe its a gift from the Old Gods, which would explain why its rare in other Kingdoms. Some Maesters believe warging is a hereditary trait found only among those with the blood of the First Men, which would also make sense. Similar claims have been made about Valyrians and the ability to ride dragons.” Jon said.

“But you're not Valyrian and you rode Rhaegal just fine!” Daenerys said.

“I can't honestly rule out that I'm not. My mother was probably Dornish, and many of their houses have Old Valryian ancestry. Not to mention there are a few other Valyrian houses like the Celtigars and Velaryons. One of my Brothers of the Watch is a Celtigar, Ser Terrance. I wonder if he's here now.” Jon said and shrugged.

“I had no idea there were any other Valryian houses! My understanding was the only others were the Baratheons and Blackfyres, which were both Targaryen cadet branches. Viserys said the Targaryens were the only Valryian House in Westeros and that made us special!” Daenerys said, both astonished and amazed.

“Another lie, I suppose. The other Valyrian houses produced many Dragonriders, but they lost their dragons some time before the Targaryens did. I learned about all of this from my Maester, he was such a good teacher.” Jon said.

“If we manage to get any new eggs we'll have to give some to those houses, it's my dream that dragons will one day rule the skies again.” Daenerys said.

“I like your thinking, that will be an excellent way to win their support. The Velaryons and Celtigars both live in the Crownlands, which means they are probably direct Bannermen to Cersei whether they like it or not. Oh look! There's Bran!” Jon said pointing to his brother. Bran was sitting in the courtyard as he always did.

The couple walked over to Bran and Jon helped Daenerys dismount. As he did so he gave her hips a quick, discrete squeeze and she smiled warmly.

“Hello Jon and Daenerys, I've been expecting both of you.” Bran said.

“How are Winterfell's defenses looking? Do you think we'll have enough time to fortify before the Army of the Dead arrives? Jon asked.

“Difficult to say. The Crannogmen are currently digging trenches and setting traps on the roads leading here, I scouted out the spots for them. I have seen Theon Greyjoy sailing with a crew of Ironborn, along with House Manderly knights. On their ship are ballistae, should be quite useful. In the forge Gendry and Mott are hard at work producing armaments. There are more arriving, most of them dressed all in red. But the Night King won't attack Winterfell immediately, so perhaps it is not as urgent as you may believe.” Bran said.

Jon felt a surge of relief, almost as if a burden on his back was lightened by half. Hearing that the Crannogmen were setting traps was the first few pounds freed, the Crannogmen were the best guerrilla fighters south of the Wall. Finding out Theon and more Manderlys were coming plus another party also freed a few pounds.

“Where will the Army of the Dead strike next?” Jon asked. Bran's eye's turned milk white as if he was warging.

“One of his generals is marching to either Karhold or the Dreadfort. It seems the Night King wants to pillage lesser holds to build up his Army before assaulting Winterfell.” Bran said.

“How far are those places? Could dragons reach there quickly?” Daenerys asked.

“Far for horses, but quite close for a dragon.” Bran replied.

“Do you think we should strike now?” Jon asked.

“Not unless you're a masochist. The day is almost over, I'd suggest heading over tomorrow as soon as you can. That way you can actually see them, the Dead don't need light.” Bran said.

“Very well, thank you brother! Daenerys, you decide who you want to take on Drogon and I'll decide who I'll take on Rhaegal. Tomorrow we will all gear up and fly in the southeast direction until we spot the Army.” Jon said.

“Alright, I'll go find who I want. But first, a kiss!” Daenerys said. They embraced and had a wet smooch.

 

Chapter Text

After delivering his morning briefing, Qyburn returned to his laboratory with an idea. With so many cults on the rise in the city perhaps the public would be susceptible to propaganda. So Qyburn sat at his desk and started writing a script for a pamphlet, which he would take to a woodcutter who would produce the pamphlets complete with illustrations.

Qyburn's laboratory had been Maester Pycelle's, before Qyburn had his Little Bird eliminate the old Maester. Under new management Qyburn filled the shelves with grimoires that Pycelle would have guffawed at, along specimens he would have deemed most distasteful. Shelves were lined with jars preserving oddities like malformed fetuses and the organs of past test subjects. From the ceiling hung the body of a mummified lizard lion.

What should this first tract be about? Needs to be something visually arresting, that will grip people's attention. At the same time, not obvious who is behind it.

After a half hour or so of deliberation, Qyburn thought of the perfect subject: the Night King. Personally Qyburn was deeply unnerved at the thought of the Army of the Dead on the prowl, but his mistress Cersei was unmoved and Qyburn had no choice but to ignore the threat. Besides, there was no doubt that Jon and Daenerys would use their defeat of the Night King to prop themselves up as the saviors of the Realm. Qyburn dipped his quill in his inkpot and started writing.

The frontispiece depicted a stylized Night King with the title: The Army of the Dead, Fact or Fever Dream? The text read in its entirety:

“From every corner there is news of a coming army, one that will consume all life in the Seven Kingdoms as we know it. Nursery maids and town criers alike speak of its leader, an enigmatic chap known as the 'Night King'. Some say he rides into battle on a giant ice spider, others that his mount is a undead dragon. Nothing is known of his identity, nor his motives, which makes wise folks doubt his very existence. Maester after Maester have concluded that the Night King and his so called Army of the Dead are nothing more than the babble of superstitious yokels.

So why have rumors of his invasion become so widespread? Good question, and the answer is to cover up the real invaders: Daenerys Targaryen and her concubine Jon Snow. Both are in a dire need to justify their invasion, so they have fabricated a threat that conveniently only they can save. Don't let them fool you, when they come South their dragons will burn villages to the ground, the barbarians in their forces will rape you and your children, then decapitate you if you are lucky, and then your flesh will fuel their next raid. The only threat the Seven Kingdoms face is Daenerys and her supporters, but rest assured Queen Cersei will stop at nothing until this dragon riding maniac is dead and her forces decimated.

The accompanying illustrations showed the Night King, drawn to look comically weak, throwing snowballs at knights who didn't even notice they were hit. Accompanying the Night King were snarks and grumkins. The second half portrayed Daenerys and Jon, she was drawn as a low cost whore leading Jon on a leash. Crimes of the Dothraki and Wildings were graphically shown, but the last illustration showed Cersei leading her forces to defeat the invaders.

Perfect! I'll have two hundred copies made and have the Little Bird distribute it to every corner of the city literate people can be found!

Once the ink was dried Qyburn put the draft into a binder and headed off for the Throne Room. When he arrived there he found Cersei sitting in the Iron Throne, talking to Euron. Earlier that morning Qyburn had begun to suspect Euron was a fellow sorcerer. Euron claimed all of his tattoos were gotten in Volantis, but Qyburn noticed many of them were identical to ones from Asshai he had seen during his time in the Brave Companions. His suspicions were confirmed when he saw that Euron's lips and tongue were now blue, as if he had just drank Shade of the Evening.

“Have you come with more news, something you forgot to bring up during the morning briefing perhaps?” Cersei asked.

“Yes, news about me. Discussion of all the heretical sects popping up gave me an idea. I figured this means that the populace is more susceptible to propaganda now, so I have decided to write a series of pamphlets casting doubt on your enemies and presenting yourself as the solution to the Seven Kingdoms' problems. Here is the first tract!” Qyburn said, handing her the manuscript.

“Oh my, this is impressive work!” Cersei said as she leafed through it. “If mobs of people are stupid enough to believe some drunken and defrocked septon has all their answers then many others will be stupid enough to believe this.”

“Let me see!” Euron said, Cersei handed him the pamphlet. “This says that the Night King isn't real so he doesn't pose a threat, yet you do believe he's real and think we aren't doing enough to combat him. Why would you tell people he isn't real when you disagree? What will happen if he defeats the Dragon Queen and marches south?” Euron asked.

“She's no queen, just a mistress. I am the Queen!” Cersei said in an irritated tone.

“Cersei has decided not to take any action against the Army of the Dead, so I need to justify that in public opinion. If the Night King does overrun the North then I will cease writing those tracts and begin writing new ones under a different persona. That way people will be informed of the new threat without it being obvious that the Crown sanctioned pamphlets were wrong. In any case Cersei will be presented as the savior of the Realm.” Qyburn said.

“Once again you have proven to be the most clever and loyal of my servants. Have as many copies of these tracts produced as you see fit, I will reimburse you accordingly.” Cersei said.

“You are most generous, Your Grace.” Qyburn said, then bowed and headed off the best woodblock printer in town.

 

Chapter Text

“So did you give them the blueprint?” Tyrion asked as Jaime approached him. Tyrion was sitting on a table at the ramparts, drinking a tankard of beer.

“I did, Tobho and Gendry were blown away. They said the design is genius in its mechanisms and relative simplicity of the needed parts. Tobho even went so far as to say you should sit on the defense committee, so you can recommend improvements on Winterfell's counter-siege measures. Also he'll be adding some spells to the hand to improve it further.” Jaime answered as he sat down opposite to Tyrion.

Tobho Mott is one of the most gifted craftsmen on either side of the Narrow Sea, and he knows it. A compliment on design form his bears more weight than most.

“Glad to hear it, nice to know one of us can be cured of being a cripple!” Tyrion said and they both had a good laugh.

“Hahaha! Good one, but have you ever considered getting some stilts and a long pair of tongs?” Jaime jokingly asked as he poured himself a tankard.

“Of course I have! You're the only person I wouldn't shoot for telling such a joke!” Tyrion said and laughed more.

“I wouldn't doubt it. My, this is a good brew!” Jaime said as he tasted the beer.

“Yes, it's from the Mermaid's Purse Brewery in White Harbor. Either a stout or a porter, I'm honestly not sure the difference. Wine is far more within my field of knowledge.” Said Tyrion as he took a drink.

“You designing that movable sword hand is the kindest thing you've ever done for me. I have intended to fight the Dead from the moment I saw that wight in the Dragon Pit, now I actually stand a chance of survival. And thanks for vouching for me!” Said Jaime.

“You're welcome on both accounts, but the latter meant very little I must admit. We're brothers, so me saying you're a good man isn't that persuasive. Me saying Cersei is an insufferable cu- um never mi-”

“Go ahead, say it!” Jaime said, cutting Tyrion off.

“As you wish. Me saying Cersei is an insufferable cunt is quite persuasive because why would I make such a thing up against our sweet sister? Be sure to thank Brienne, she's the primary reason you aren't at best missing your head or at worst a pile of ash.” Tyrion said.

“I have, first thing I did when the court was adjourned. Of all the crimes I am guilty of, being cruel to her when we first met is the only thing I regret. Everything else had a purpose, served a greater good. But insulting her, there was no reason for that.” Jaime said.

I didn't think he was even capable of remorse, she really has changed him.

“Do you love her?” Tyrion asked.

“I do, but not the way you're thinking. This love is something different, I'm not sure how to describe it. You and Cersei are the only two people I'd ever truly loved before Brienne, albeit totally different forms of love.” Jaime replied, his voice had passion and conviction.

“And what about our sweet sister? Do you still love her?”

“I'm afraid so, but we're finished. She'll never forgive me for walking out on her, even if it was to save our continent. I fear if the Dead don't kill us then she will.”

She owes her life to Jaime, if it wasn't for his love of her I would have killed her after killing Shae and Father.

“Love can be a difficult sickness to be cured of.” Tyrion said.

“Indeed. Speaking of which have any ladies caught your fancy lately? Essos is filled with exotic beauties, I know you often find yourself bored of Westerosi women.” Asked Jaime.

“No.” Responded Tyrion dismissively.

Tyrion lied. In truth while in Meereen he found himself head over heels for Daenerys. His new Queen was both exotic and charismatic, and Tyrion frequently daydreamed of marrying her. Sadly he knew he didn't stand a chance, she had some blue-haired buffoon from Tyrosh to keep her bed warm. Perhaps Missandei as well, he had seen her coming from Daenerys' bedchamber at odd hours in the night with her hair and dress disheveled. Ser Jorah loved Daenerys as well, he had the stones to confess it to her face and she turned him down. Now she loved Jon Snow, Tyrion approved of their relationship for political reasons but he still envied Jon. Daenerys had said Jon was “too short” for her, and Tyrion wondered if she sincerely changed her mind or if that was her way of indirectly rejecting him. For all of these reasons Tyrion elected to lie.

“I'm sure you'll find a nice lady some day!” Jaime said.

“Perhaps. Maybe there's a nice White Walker lady I can wed once they come over here!” Tyrion said and took a big gulp of his beer. “So how is Aunt Genna doing?”

“Alright, last time I saw her. When Father died she seemed more upset that you disappeared before she could say goodbye than the fact she lost her brother.” Jaime answered.

“I'm glad you weren't the only one to miss me. She always was so kind to me, I think that really strained her relationship with Father. Do you think its possible she will side with Daenerys? I don't believe Cersei was ever half as fond of her as we are.” Tyrion asked.

Before Jaime could say anything else all of the bells from Winterfell's towers started ringing and herald's blew their trumpets.

“Everyone capable of bearing arms must head to the courtyard! Anyone else may attend if they wish!” The heralds shouted repeatedly.

“Whelp, gotta go!” Jaime said, he finished his beer and got up.

“I think I'll join you, I'm curious what this is about.” Tyrion said as he got up too. They headed down the nearest flight of stairs to the central plaza. Jon and Daenerys stood on the platform, while every warrior gathered around them. After about ten minutes everyone who needed to be present were there, and Jon called everyone to order.

“Thank you all for arriving so shortly!” Jon said. “We have received disturbing news from Bran. As we speak, one of the Night King's officers is taking a portion of the Army south, to either Karhold or the Dreadfort. Karhold is protected by the Thenns and Karstarks who aren't already here, while the Dreadfort is guarded by a mixture of Freefolk forces and House Mazin. The issue of who will take over Bolton lands is still unresolved. Tomorrow Daenerys and I will fly our dragons east to fight the Dead forces. She will bring her Queensguard, who is willing to come with-”

“Count me in!” A red-bearded Wildling said before Jon could finish.

“Of course, Tormund. I knew you'd be the first to offer. Who else?” Asked Jon.

“Aye, I'll do it.” Said the Hound.

“Both of my sisters say they owe their lives to you, and you have already proven yourself further during the wight hunt. I'm glad you'll join us.” Jon said.

“It would be an honor to fight with you side by side as my father and my liege did with your father.” Kulungu said.

“My father always spoke highly of Howland, any ward of Howland is welcome on this mission. Your goldenheart bow will be most useful.” Jon said.

“I believe everyone without a Valyrian blade could use my abilities!” Said a man in red with an eye patch, his voice was smooth and soothing.

“Perfect, Beric. Go ahead and bring a few Brotherhood members of your choosing. Alright, that leaves Rhaegal with room for one more rider. Who's in?” Jon asked.

“Your Grace!” Said a large man with a gray beard dressed in mail with a red surcoat over it, charged with a clenched silver first. “My past refusal to support you in your war against the Boltons was unacceptable and disgraceful. Quite frankly siding with Ramsay would have been more honorable. In penance I will go with you, if you will allow me.”

“Of course, Lord Glover. Past conflicts are irrelevant, now is not the time to them cloud our judgements. Alright, everyone who volunteered should prepare tonightt, we'll be leaving as soon as possible tomorrow!” Jon said and dismissed the crowd.

“I was worried you'd volunteer!” Tyrion told Jaime.

“Not until I get my new hand.” Jaime said.

“Good, I'd hate for you to be killed before you got it. Lets go back and have another round of beers!” Tyrion said.

“I like your thinking.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Missandei sat in her room in the guesthouse and wrote down her observations of the North. On her table was a stack of history and travel books with information about the kingdom, so she could supplement her findings. She wore a dress and leggings made of dark gray sheep's wool she had bought earlier that day. Most people up here wore fur and leather, which Missandei felt uncomfortable wearing as a vegetarian from Naath.

“I have been in Winterfell for a day now, and it seems my first impressions of the North from White Harbor were wrong. White Harbor is a thriving port on par with the Free Cities in terms of sophistication if not for size and population. From what I have seen so far the North is vast, but sparsely populated. It is an alien and inhospitable land, covered in ice and snow; populated by such savage beasts as bears, wolves, shadowcats, and lizard lions, which often serve as the totems for the families that rule here.

Winterfell, I must confess, is a sight to behold; it is easy to understand why Lomas Longstrider shortlisted it as one of his Wonders Made By Man. The fortress is massive, with looming towers protected by gargoyles, a hotspring underneath that provides warm water even in the dead of winter, and a large Godswood typical of Westeros.

Missandei heard a knock on the door.

“Come on in!” She said. It was Daenerys. “So good to see you!” The two friends hugged and kissed each other's cheeks. Missandei turned her chair around while Daenerys sat on her bed.

“What are you working on?” Daenerys asked.

“Its just my notebook, I was writing a passage about Winterfell. I'll probably do some sketches after that.” Missandei answered.

“Glad to hear it, I hope you will be remembered as an eminent historian and chronicler of our generation. So what do you think about the North so far? I think its lovely!” Daenerys asked.

What do I say? I don't want her to be uncomfortable.

“It's, umm, a bit too cold for my liking. Both in terms of weather and people.” Missandei replied after a few moments of thought.

“People?” Daenerys asked, her eyebrows shot up. “I've noticed most of them haven't been too receptive of me, but that's all politics. Have they been unpleasant to you as well?”

“Lots of stares and dirty looks. Its like they've never seen anyone who looks like me and they don't trust me because I'm obviously a foreigner. Grey Worm and Tumco have said the same thing. Even Kulungu has, despite the fact he's lived in the North most of his life. Nobody has even tried to greet us, except for a Wildling we met.” Missandei said.

“They don't like that term, they call themselves either the Freefolk or refer to themselves by the name of their tribe. I made that mistake, Jon corrected me.” Daenerys said.

“Oh, I had no idea. Alright, Freefolk it is. He seems like a friendly fellow, quite a flirt. He was fascinated to see us, he thought people with dark skin were just a myth. Grey Worm was highly offended at first, but I could tell this Freeman had no ill intent.” Missandei said.

“Was his name Tormund by chance?”

“Yes! That's him! How do you know him?”

“He's one of Jon's friends. Jon introduced me to him, got really embarrassed and a bit jealous when Tormund complimented me. Jon just about fainted when Tormund asked me if Jon used his 'advice'.” Daenerys said using air quotes on the last word and chuckled.

“Advice on what?” Missandei asked with a cheeky grin and raised eyebrow.

“Lordly kissing. Jon gave me one last night, it was amazing so I asked how he got so good. Said Tormund advised him. He's almost as good as you were!” Daenerys said with a wink.

“I'll take that compliment. Grey Worm is getting pretty good himself, of course that's all I can get anymore.” Missandei said and they both giggled.

“As good I was?” Daenerys asked.

“Getting there. We had so much fun together, but those days are over so let's not reminisce in excess. Anyway Tormund said Kulungu is more of a Northerner than Jon was when they first met! I could tell that made Kulungu happy.” Missandei said.

“Bahaha I won't tell Jon that! Tormund is probably our most important ally right now. According to Jon, he's the reason why most of the Freefolk are backing us. He persuaded them that Jon is their best hope against the Night King, and our romance has his blessing.” Daenerys said excitedly, she gave a large, giddy smile.

It seems to me that the so called “Wildlings” are more enlightened than most of their ostensibly civilized neighbors.

“Have you just come to chat, or is there something you need?” Missandei asked.

“Neither, exactly. Tomorrow Jon and I are taking my children and chosen companions to fly over and fight the Army of the Dead. One of their officers is leading an expedition, probably to grow their ranks. If we take him out all his wights go with him, its an effective way to thin the herd. I'm not sure if I'll make it back, so I want you to be aware.” Daenerys replied, her violet eyes turned watery and her cheeks started to redden.

I hope she doesn't die; if she does then I'm going back to Essos. Not sure where, probably to Braavos since they staunchly oppose slavery.

“Is this goodbye?” Missandei asked.

“Not yet. I'll be sure to say my goodbyes tomorrow, I'll need you to do my hair. I'm thinking a Khal braid, quick and simple, but still has a certain mystique about it. Also I'd recommend getting to know Arya, I know you two sat next to each other at court this morning. We've really hit it off and I prefer that my friends are mutual.” Daenerys said.

I thought Arya seemed amiable.

“Of course! A Khal braid it is! I'll definitely seek out Arya, she seems very outgoing. I'm glad she isn't like her sister.” Missandei said.

“Alright, I need to get going now. But first a hug!” The two had a warm embrace.

 

Chapter Text

Sansa took a while to recover from her waking terrors. After she had eaten, Arya stayed and talked with her until she dozed off. Once Sansa was snoring, Arya kissed her forehead and sneaked out and headed over to her room. Arya opened up her book and started to read about Rose of Red Lake, a daughter of Garth Greenhand who could transform into a crane at will.

Could she really become a crane, or was she a skinchanger like me? Sometimes I wish I could just shapeshift, wouldn't have to worry about my human body or bringing the right face.

There was a rap on the door. Arya got up and unlocked the door and opened it. The knocker was Jon, and he looked more dour than usual.

“How are you doing Jon? Did Dany enjoy the Godswood?”

“She did.”

“Is everything alright? You look tense!” Arya said as she sat back down.

“No, there are some things we need to discuss.” Jon answered.

Seven hells, what could it be?

“Sure, anything for you!” Said Arya, her heart started thumping in her chest.

“Bran told me that a portion of the Army of the Dead is marching to either Karhold or the Dreadfort. Tomorrow Dany and I will take our dragons to fight them. The mission will be extremely dangerous. We have no way of knowing if either of us will make it back.” Jon said.

“Then I'm going with you! I want to ride with Dany, no offense but I trust her flying skills more!” Arya said without missing a beat.

“No, I forbid you. Its much too dangerous, I can't in good conscience let you risk your life! If I die tomorrow, but if Dany lives I need you to take care of her; we need for you to do everything you can to keep the alliance intact. All of it could shatter without me!” Jon said harshly.

“But I'm a warrior too!” Arya said petulantly, tears rolled down her round cheeks.

“Back stabbing and poisoning isn't the same as taking on a undead horde on an open field! You have no battlefield experience; I know Brienne is training you but its not the same. You'll have plenty of chances for real combat soon, its a matter of time before the Night King assaults Winterfell.” Jon said doubling down.

“Back stabbings? Poison?” Arya asked uneasily.

“I heard about what happened to House Frey. What were you thinking?” Jon asked, his fluid gray eyes looked horrified.

“They killed Robb, Talisa, their unborn baby, and my mother! What was I supposed to do, give them a slap on the wrist?” Arya responded defensively.

“Not all of them were guilty of that, many of them probably weren't even at the Red Wedding. They were no more guilty of the Red Wedding than Dany as of burning Grandfather and Uncle Brandon!” Jon countered.

“The whole family were cowards, they wouldn't have helped fight the Night King until the war was all but over. Walder would have given all his subjects over the Night King so he would be spared. Now Dany's army can march south free of charge! Sansa and Dany both praised me for what I did! Are you going to chastise them too?” Arya asked.

“I love them both dearly, but they don't always have good judgment. Dany is often hot headed and impulsive, Sansa is often in over her head and it really seems like the Boltons have warped her mind to a degree. Where on Planetos did you get the idea to feed Walder his own sons then poison the rest?” Jon asked.

“Someone in the Dreamlands did, a gentleman with a cane.” Arya replied.

“A gentleman with a cane?” Jon said, his face looked dumbfounded.

“Mhmm! He wears a doublet and pantaloons made out of purple and gold motley. When he's happy he has a Reach accent, when he's angry he has a Northern one. Sometimes he appears as a giant cat in the moon with a grin the size of the moon's cresent, you can always tell because he has a purple eye and a golden one. They mismatch like Tyrion's. There's a statue of him at the House of Black and White in Braavos.”

“I know who he is. I've only been to the Dreamlands a few times, I haven't ever come across him; but some of the more experienced skinchangers I knew north of the Wall said they have. Told me if I ever saw him to never engage with him.” Jon said.

“Why not?” Asked Arya.

“Because he is dangerous; doing what he says makes people go mad! Do you want to risk losing you sanity?” Answered Jon.

Fuck, I had no idea.

“No, of course not!” Arya said, even more frightened.

“Then ignore him if you ever crossed paths with him. Look, I know at the time you were probably so consumed by rage and hate that you couldn't think straight. Sometimes we all need to take a step back and think about the bigger picture, then we can determine what is the best course of action. I would have had the Freys put on trial, then I would have beheaded all who were proven to complicit. Killing without trial is dangerous, that's how tyrants are formed.” Jon said.

There was a moment of dead silence, then Arya burst into a full sob and wrapped her arms around Jon.

“Sometimes I worry that I'm losing control of myself, I fear I may be turning evil! As if my heart is blackening.” Arya said then pressed her wet face into Jon's shoulder.

“Don't tell yourself that. You have a good heart, you always have, but sometimes people with good hearts commit wicked deeds. When I was Lord Commander I did many things a righteous man would condemn. Sometimes I stay awake at night, plagued with remorse.” Jon said as he peeled off his gloved to rub her back.

“I don't even want to know what you did.” Arya said.

“Good, because I'd prefer not to relive it. I'd much rather relive my life before I Took the Black. Especially those memories with you.” Jon said.

“Like what? My favorite would have been when you gave me Needle, but its not, because that was right before you left.” Arya asked.

“I still think about when we first met. I was five, I remember how you cried and cried. You were a few days old when I finally got to hold you, I caught the wet nurse feeding you without your mother present. When you stopped eating you resumed crying, but when she handed you to me you stopped. Your face lit up, and from that moment I knew there was something special between us. I remember everyone else's births except Robb's, none of them reacted that way when I held them” Jon said and wiped the tears from Arya's face.

“You never told me that story, but Father said you made me smile and laugh for the first time.” Arya said.

“Aye, I remember that. And “Jah-Jah” was your first word, your mother was furious it was that and not mama or dada.” Jon said and laughed.

“I'm sure she was right pissed! I always resented her for the way she treated you. Father being unfaithful was water under the bridge, but you existing was an affront to her. I could never understand why she was such a cunt to you.” Arya said.

“In seventeen years she only called me by my name once, when I said goodbye to Bran before I left for Castle Black. She also said it should have been me who fell.” Jon said.

How could she say such a thing? Fuck that's dreadful!

“What did she call you every other time?” Arya asked.

“Bastard. I'll never forget when I found out what that meant.” Jon answered.

“Why did you never tell me any of this?” Arya asked.

“Because she was your mother, I know you loved her and I didn't want you to think ill of her. Sometimes you have to hide things to protect those you love.” Jon responded.

“But if you told me I could have confronted her about that!” Arya said.

“That would have only made things worse. Just like you coming along with us tomorrow would. I'm not letting you go because I love you, you need to be safe. Same reason I confronted you about the Freys, I don't want you to follow down a dangerous path.” Jon said.

“Fine, but when the Army of the Dead storms Winterfell you can't stop me from taking part in the defense!” Arya said.

“That's the plucky Arya I missed most! I won't try and stop you, when the Night King comes we need everyone who can wield a weapon.” Jon said.

“Remember when you went hunting with Robb, Theon and Father and I could't go with you?” Arya asked.

“Of course I do. I still intend to keep that promise to take you hunting one day, only I think it will be far bigger prey than boars or elk!” Jon said and rustled her hair.

“I'd love that!” Arya said, she smiled ear to ear.