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Tomb of the First Men

Chapter Text

The Tomb of the First Men

For StarLight Massacre

Warning!  This story contains SLASH and MPREG

Introduction:  This takes place in an altered timeline for GoT/ASoIaF.  I’ve changed a couple of things around, most notably do to with Jon Snow.  Most but not all events of the first season/book will be the same up to Ned’s execution except as they pertain to Jon.  The changes should be rather self-evident but if there’s any confusion feel free to comment or review your question and I’ll be sure to clear it up.

The story as it stands, (canon and non-canon events): Robb Stark is currently Lord of Winterfell following his father’s beheading by the bastard-boy-king Joffery Waters (Baratheon, Lannister, etc.) but has not yet been crowned as king as he is waiting for Jon to return before holding a Council.  Dany has killed the witch responsible for Drogo’s illness and her son’s death, bringing about the birth of the three dragon eggs.  Aegon is still masquerading as a sell-sword with his minder Jon Connington, Arya and Gendry are on the Northern Road, Sansa is trapped in King’s Landing.  Bran and Rickon are still safe in Winterfell along with their mother who has not joined her eldest son on his campaign.  Theon is still at Robb’s side and Jorah has not been outed as a spy for the Spider.  Tywin is Hand of the King and hasn’t yet marched North while Jaime lays siege to Riverrun in fury over Catelyn and Lysa’s treatment of Tyrion, Stannis and Renly are both raising armies to snatch the Crown.  Jon was not sworn into the Night’s Watch but was at the Wall and saved the Lord Commander.  The reason for his being at the Wall will be discussed later in the story.  He has convinced the Lord Commander Mormont to have a Ranging into the Far North in search of Benjen and the truth of the Others.  We join Jon and the Black Brothers at the Fist of the First Men.  For convenience sake, this is the first happening of the second season rather than taking place later in the story.   Harry has yet to appear.

Disclaimer: Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter belong to their respective authors, publishers, etc.  This is merely a work of fan-authored fiction with no claims to anything except for original characters and storylines used.

There is a portion of dialogue that comes almost word-for-word from the ASoIaF books.  Kudos to whoever catches it first.

***This is a story told in several long acts.  I’ve changed up a lot of things from both the show and the book, making it so this starts right after Ned Stark’s death and moving up the Ranging Mormont orders.  I hope you enjoy this first installment of the Tomb of the First Men

Edited December 2016 for minor errors and continuity issues.  Unedited word count: 23,770; updated word count: 23967.

 

Act I: The Warrior Who Waits

Jon pulled his white fur-lined cloak tight around his strong swordsman’s body, trembling inside from the bitter, soul-stealing cold of the Far North or Beyond-The-Wall or the Land of Eternal Winter or a dozen other names, depending on who you asked.  He refused to show the weakness, giving away no sign of his bone-deep chill before the men of the Night’s Watch – including their sharp-eyed and grizzled-cheeked Lord Commander who owed him a life debt.  It was his idea for this Ranging – and only by putting pressure on said Lord Commander had Jon been able to talk his way into their company, as Mormont had originally refused to allow Jon passage beyond the Wall, which had held him up for several turns at Castle Black as he tried to make the Old Bear see reason.

Men of the Night’s Watch were naturally suspicious, few if any ever joined of their own choice, most being disgraced sons of noblemen and the high born while the remaining numbers were swelled with the thieves, rapists, and sundry criminals from the prison cells of Westeros.

To bring along Jon who while highborn was rumored to be a bastard – though his status was frustratingly unclear to much of Westeros with only the Lord Commander and the Maester Aemon among the Watchmen having any idea of his true station – grated on most of the seasoned members of their party.  An irritation and cause for grumbling that worsened with each and every night they spent in the unforgiving Far North.

He wasn’t about to give them any reason to strike out at him.

Not when such an encounter may very well cost his life and sunder his chances at fulfilling his purpose for leaving Winterfell and coming North in the first place.

Lifting his torch higher, shining a meager few sparks of light on the foreboding carved-rock wall of the cliff’s face located flush against the mountainside known to most as the Fist of the First Men, Jon lifted a gloved hand and delicately brushed away the fat flakes of new snow that attempted to shield the sigils and runes he spied from his sight.  Such carvings were common-place this far North, where the remnants of the First Men were able to be found by those who knew how to look – those such as the Starks who were of the direct bloodlines of the First Men and the Age of Heroes.  More than that, they also remembered their beginnings when others of their same kind – Lannisters, Arryns, etc. the oldest bloodlines of the noble houses of Westeros – forgot them in the wake of time.

Oh, they still sung songs about Lann the Clever or Bran the Builder, but they had slowly and surely forgotten their true origins in the test of time.

Leaving only the Starks to remember and to warn the others: Winter is Coming.

And hell follows with it.

Bran was too young and Theon not of their bloodline so neither recognized the danger of the deserter’s tale.  A story and a warning to those canny enough to listen.  There was a reason outside of fear for his life that had led that Black Brother to venture into the lands of the Starks.

The North Remembers.

Robb had had – and still does at that despite the awful turn their paths had taken – duties to Winterfell and the North and couldn’t be spared.

Lord Stark himself had planned this journey that Jon had undertaken but had been called to King’s Landing before he could set out – a delay that ultimately cost him his head.

Jon had gone to the Wall in his stead, and now with news of his murder – for that was what it truly was – was trying to succeed in the duty his uncle had given him.

A gust of fogged breath was the only sign of his relief and jubilation as he finally deciphered the riddle cut into the stone.

Wincing as he peeled off his glove, Jon quickly nicked his palm open on Longclaw as Ghost bounded over to his side with a warning growl, a moment later shouts sprang up around the camp.

“We’re under attack!”

Cursing, Jon slammed his palm down onto the “key” portion of the riddle, nerves wracking him for several long seconds as he heard the men surrounding him bellowing in pain or anger or death, the Lord Commander calling for them to form up and head off the attack.

“Stark!”  Mormont cried out, swinging sword and torch in unison.  “Where are ya lad?  We’d best be usin’ that sword of yours I gave ya about now!”

Jon’s knees almost buckled in relief when the raucous “SNAP!” of ancient locks and mechanisms releasing reverberated across the snow, temporarily drowning out the sounds of the skirmish.

“Quickly!”  Jon shouted back, shoving the door open with his shoulder and waving his torch, signaling to the Watch, Ghost bounding in and leading the way.  “Into the tomb!”

Mormont paused for a split second eyes wide with shock at the sight of the gaping chasm where shear solid rock had stood mere seconds before.

“Aye!”  He called, beheading another wraith with glowing eyes.  “You heard the lad, boys!  Into the tomb!”

With help from Samwell Tarly – who’d shockingly enough survived the attack – and a few others of the remaining number, Jon shoved the massive rock wall back into place, gusting out a sigh of relief when he heard the unmissable sound of the locks clicking back into place.

“Well, lad.”  Mormont’s gruff voice sounded in the weak half-light of the torches.  “Where, exactly, have you brought us?”

Jon grimaced.  That was why he’d been hoping to undertake a Ranging North alone, without the sharp eyes of the Night’s Watch on his back.  There were things House Stark kept secret with reason – and this secret was at the top of that list.

Face stony, Jon remained silent, walking over toward the far wall, searching with his sharp eyes and torch as Ghost did the same.

“Well?!”  The Lord Commander barked when it seemed like no response was forth coming.  Don’t mistake him, Mormont was happy to have lived through that little skirmish.  That didn’t however mean that he was happy to be trapped in a tomb of all things in the middle of the Far North.

Under a gods-be-damned mountain no less.

A yip from Ghost had Jon loping a few yards down the deeply-black corridor, nearly disappearing into the darkness despite the torch he was carrying.  The black brothers followed at his heels, none of them eager to be abandoned in the dark when Jon was the only one who had any information about their current location – such as how to get back out again.

Jon spun on his heels, Mormont and Sam easily making out the cocky smirk and the devilment dancing in the younger-man’s eyes as he spoke with grand drama.

“Welcome, Lord Commander,” he gave a short bow.  “And honorable members of the Night’s Watch.  I humbly present: The Tomb of the First Men!”  And without further ado, Jon plunged his torch into the hidden niche in the wall – and setting alight the precious oil waiting for just such a moment.

“By all the gods.”  The Lord Commander breathed in awe as Jon turned to take in the spectacle as well, the rest of their company stunned into silence.  “What - ?”

Jon shook his head in wonder.  He’d read descriptions and heard the tales all passed down by Bran the Builder of this place but never thought he would see it for himself.  Only one member of House Stark made pilgrimages here every generation – in fact Benjen joining the Watch was to carry out the maintenance of the tomb, beyond the vastly more urgent reason to him taking the Black.  It outstripped every expectation he’d had of it.

With the first spark of flame, fire had rushed all along the hidden track inside the walls – illuminating a massive man-made cavern shaped like an elongated D with the massive cliff-face doors occupying the flat of the shape.  The cavern was long – longer than the Great Hall of Winterfell or the hall of Castle Black.  Perhaps bigger even than the catacombs beneath his Northern home.  And spaced evenly all along that great length were statues finely carved and hewn from rock of all kinds and colors – largely untouched by age as they were protected from harm inside the Tomb.

Marching all down the chamber in pairs of two facing each other across the wide aisle were the visages of long-forgotten heroes and kings from before the days of the Seven when the Olde Gods ruled Westeros – some even, Jon thought, were older still than that.

And it was one of those that he had come to seek.

Huddling together, the men of the Night’s Watch followed as their Lord Commander kept pace with the strange Stark (or Snow?).

Jon pointed out a few of the more notable – or recognizable – figures.

“Bran the Builder,” he waved a hand at a sober-looking edifice with painted storm-grey eyes.  “Lann the Clever, Garth Greenhand, Symeon Star-Eyes,” and on and on it went.

The Lord Commander – and former Lord of House Mormont – cursed under his breath as he saw a familiar jaw-line here or a brow-ridge there.  Forged in stone for all to see were the very beginnings of the great houses of Westeros.

But the farther in they went, the less he recognized, for the warriors and heroes of the Age of Heroes – a time shrouded in more myth and legend than facts – were only at the very beginning of the Tomb.

With an exception.

He’d noted – but made no mention – of the newest member of the statues placed closest to the mouth of the chamber.

A statue with an extremely familiar if not infamous likeness, depicted in modern tools and stone with white-silver hair and purple gemstone eyes.

Now what, Mormont couldn’t help but wonder.  Was a statue of Rhaegar Targaryen doing in the Tomb of the First Men?

The company came to a stop at the very far end of the chamber opposite the doors – and the first sign of an actual tomb in the Tomb of the First Men.

“Long ago,” Jon spoke softly in reverence for where they were.  “Before Winterfell or the Wall were built with might and magic or Lann the Clever won Casterly Rock, the Epoch of Ice and Fire began from the ashes of the last Epoch – one where magic and technology warred, eventually ending their world in a series of disasters beyond what any of us alive today could fathom.”

He gestured to the series of carvings on the walls above the clear diamond tomb – a tomb that contained more than dust and bones.

“But before that epoch ended – or was even close to doing so – a Prophecy was given.”

Mormont arched a furry brow.  “Like that of the “Prince Who Was Promised?”” He asked warily.  The Lord Commander had no tolerance for witchcraft, sorcery, or soothsaying.  Unless he could see it and touch it, he had no truck with it save for his belief in the Warrior and the Stranger.

“Nothing so benign.”  Jon scoffed, nearly rolling his eyes at the mention of that bit of drivel.  “That prophecy set up a young child as the nemesis of a Dark Lord of Magic seventy years his senior.  In the end the child defeated the monster and became Lord of two Houses.  A warrior and more powerful than most, the love and adulation of his people swiftly turned to fear.”

“They killed him.”  Samwell Tarly whispered, caught up in his friend’s tale.  “Didn’t they?”

The men of the Watch winced, feeling for the child though Jon had told them nearly nothing about him.  They knew what it was like to be hated and cast out.

Jon shook his head, violet eyes tracking across the tomb, searching.

“Again,” his voice was a bare whisper.  “Nothing so benign.  His people were a distinctly cruel people, and selfish with it.  They feared him, yes.  But they feared more what might happen if they had need of him once more and they’d done away with him.  They’d gotten fat and complacent knowing the child-turned-warrior would solve their problems for them, fight the battles they weren’t able or willing to risk themselves to fight.  So,” he drawled, eyes alighting on the object of his search.  “They came up with a new idea.  Or an old one depending on how you look at it.  There was a legend in that era of a great king who had been encased in a crystal tomb in a magical cave and left, sleeping and unaging, until it was time for him to rise again and lead his people once more.”

“Gods be good.”  The Lord Commander leaned in closer to the tomb.  “You’re not suggesting…?”

He shrugged.  Honestly, Jon had no idea if the story was true or a pack of riddles and half-lies.  But he did know that his ancestors had believed it – and that was enough for him in these dark days.

“Perhaps.”  Jon allowed, tracing several symbols carved into the stone with a blooded finger.  “Perhaps not.  We’ll have to ask him – once he’s been awoken.”

“What are you about lad?”  The Lord Commander barked in demand of an answer.

“Whether he is the child of that prophecy left to sleep forever unless needed or simply an early king under an enchantment – I have no idea.”  Jon stared up at Mormont with dark eyes filled with a curious combination of fire and ice.  “But my Lord uncle – may he rest – believed in this the way he did little else when it came to things of legend and myth.  This is why I’ve come.  To wake a subject of a Prophecy that my family has held sacred and secret since the beginnings of this Epoch.”

“Prophecy?”  Samwell’s ears pricked up.  “You mean a new prophecy, not the one from his childhood?”  If it was the same warrior and defeater of Dark Lords of Magic as Jon had spoken of.

“Yes.”  Jon stepped back, done with tracing the symbols and runes and drawing Longclaw.  “One given to the very first Stark of the North when he found this very tomb in the Age before that of Heroes – from the time of the First Men:

When the comet burns red across the sky –

And the Red God rises;

When the Long Night knocks upon the Wall –

And the Dead are once more Walking;

When the innocent blood spilled is dead no more –

And Fire is enjoined in Winter;

When the stallion is struck down by slave –

And the Dragons are born anew;

When the Lion Roars alone upon the Throne –

And Winter comes a-hunting;

When the Red Stag flounders -

And the Little Stag is sundered;

Here these words!

Head my warning!

There is no hope but that of Mourning!

An Age shall End in with a Roar and Fury –

And none shall bar the way;

But, a Word of Caution to this tale –

Should the Warrior Fight –

The Usurpers shall Fail.”

Samwell and the Lord Commander rolled this new – and strange – Prophecy around in their heads.  Not unexpectedly, Samwell broke first.

“Dead walking?”  His voice was nearly a whimper as his eyes were the size of dinner plates.  “The White Walkers?”

“Aye, laddie.”  Mormont’s voice was grim – a stark contrast to the boy’s whimpering he thought.  He knew now what the Stark lad was about.  If he were another man he would try and stop him.  But he was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch – and the concerns and squabbles of the Seven Kingdoms were no concern of his.  If the lad had joined like his Bearer before him that would be another thing.

But he hadn’t.

And with his current course he never will.

If he even lives long enough to consider it.

“And the red comet, the stags, and lions, and dragons.”  Samwell continued.  “That’s all happening now, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Sam.”  Jon spared his friend a glance over his shoulder.  “It is.  All of it – it’s happening right now.”

“And what of the Usurpers your words spoke of?”  A grim voice spoke up as one of the men of the Watch shouldered his way through the remaining men of the Ranging.  “Who might they be, exactly?”

“Hard to say.”  Jon said nonchalantly.  “But if I had to level a guess – I’d bet on it being the bastard who decided to lop off my uncle’s head, as word has it he’s the product of Queen,” he all but spit on the title.  “Cersei’s great affection for those of Lannister blood.”

Making Joffery the Evil Cunt a Usurper in any way you chose to look at it.

Jon truly feared for what sweet, naïve spoiled Sansa was going through caught in the clutches of the Lannisters.

Without another word, Jon took his Valyrian steel sword and thrust it into one of the braziers that had lit along with the fuel for the oil-light track in the walls, setting the sword aflame.  Bracing himself, he sliced the flaming sword across his hand, the fire cauterizing the wound once his blood had marked the blade.  Angling it downward, he centered it on the well-concealed sigil at the base of the diamond tomb, speaking his words in High Valyrian:

“Fire and Blood.”

And struck down, burying the sword to the hilt in the bedrock of the tomb.

The tomb surrounding them quaked and shook, a crack forming around the sigil and instantly branching out, racing towards the diamond tomb.

As it hit, fire leapt up from the seven symbols Jon had traced in his blood, six symbols separated from the casket and shooting outwards with a dizzying spin and a hiss of releasing pressure and air.  The flames in the braziers and tucked along the walls sprang higher – though those who might’ve witnessed it were blinded to it by their focus on the diamond tomb as a thin, elegant hand reached out and curled around the edge of the now-freed lid of the coffin.  Before their disbelieving eyes the hand flexed and the next thing they knew the lid – which had to weigh at least a half-tonne – was flung away and crashed against the near wall.

“By all the gods…”  Mormont gasped, his knees giving way along with those of all his men as that hand now wrapped tightly around the edge of the tomb, its owner using it to leverage himself – and it was definitely a male though not like one he’d ever seen before – up and out of the tomb, landing with a cat-like grace in a half-crouch before the stunned Jon.

Jon sucked in a startled breath as he caught his first glimpse of the man (mage?  Warrior?) that his family had kept secret for century upon century.

One only thought made any sense in the muck his jumbled thoughts had become:

Green.

The man had green eyes, like none he’d ever seen, outshining even the fabled green-eyes of the Lannisters, comparing the two like comparing emeralds to first green of spring shoots – both beautiful but one infinitely more precious than the other.

A smirk crossed what could only be described as a “pretty” face, the green-eyed man raising to his full height – smaller than Jon’s or most grown men he’d ever met – after having clearly cataloged them all and dismissed them as threats.

He cocked his head and spoke in High Valyrian to the shock and surprise of his audience.

“You summoned me, Master?”  There was a definite heated drawl on the last word, making Jon gulp.

…Well.  Jon decided after a moment.  That was unexpected.

Harry James Potter-Black could not believe the very fucked-off detour his life had taken.

Or was this more of an after-life, he was a little fuzzy on that considering the many times he was supposed to have died already.

After, after-life?

Who knew but not really the point.

First, first, came the revelation that he had to fucking die to kill Voldemort.

Okay.

Fine.

He could – and did – deal with that, including making sure that all the Horcruxes went down.

Then he woke the fuck back up after one twisted version of The Five People You Meet In Heaven.  Only he didn’t get to meet his five people.  No.  Not Harry James Potter.  He only got to meet one.

And it had to be the one that had consistently manipulated him and set him up for abuse his entire life after his parents died.

Honestly, he’d rather have met literally anyone other than Dumbledore.

Although, he could see the purpose in that particular mind-fuck at least.  If they’d sent anyone else to him he’d probably have decided to stay and move on rather than go back and finish off Tommy-Boy.  After all, who would want to risk being stuck in a damn train station with the architect of their abuse for their afterlife?

Not him, that was for sure.

Get presented as dead to all his friends, enemies, and allies?

Check.

Jump up and kill the megalomaniac when he was busy with his stereotypical-batshit-insane-villain speech?

Check, check.

Be glorified for killing Voldemort…again?

Check, check, check.

Have said friends, enemies, and allies turn on him?

Yep.

That happened too.

He couldn’t even say it was a surprise.  The track record wasn’t exactly stellar in the Wizarding World for treating him with anything approaching respect or as a sentient human being.  Nope.  Heroes aren’t real in the minds of the Wizarding World.

And Merlin forbid they do anything outside of the expectations of the general populace or the ruling establishment or there would be hell to pay.

Literally.

In his case it was years incalculable spent trapped in his own mind and a box that was too much like a coffin for his comfort with only the highlights of current events being transmitted to his half-awake and half-sleeping consciousness.

And the reason why he was cast into what any reasonable person would consider hell?

Because the Mrs. Minister of Magic a.k.a. Molly Weasley nee Prewett was pissed that instead of “settling-down” with her darling-daughter-dearest and making Ginny Lady Potter-Black (and wasn’t he pissed to find out about that) thereby giving her daughter and his in-laws access to his vaults and holdings…Harry wanted to travel.

See the world.

Sample the fare in far off places.

But the kicker – and what knocked her right off her rocker and launched the vendetta that would ultimately end in his imprisonment – was when he decided he liked blokes as much as birds…if not more.

Apparently Mrs. Weasley had not taken the pictures of him snogging Blaise Zabini on the Amalfi Coast well.  At all.

Which kicked off the series of unfortunate events that led him to the here-and-now: alive, somehow, in a strange age and era far removed from that of his own birth, and in service to the amethyst-eyed teen-warrior before him.

Fan-bloody-tastic.

The teenager wasn’t alone, having been accompanied by a group of men all in black, The Night’s Watch his mind whispered.

Thank god for the spell Teddy had cast when he found him trapped.  His wolf-cub hadn’t been able to free him from his tomb in the bowels of the Chamber of Secrets but he was able to make it so when or if he truly awoke he wouldn’t be completely lost and at sea in a new time.  His cub was a miracle and the only reason Harry still had anything even resembling sanity left.

None of them however save for the teen who set him free and the massive white wolf he spied lurking in the shadows was a threat.

Small blessings.

Arching a brow, he smirked ready to tease.

“You summoned me, Master?”

Harry waited patiently for the amethyst-eyed teen to respond while mentally cataloging everything he knew about the current Age.

It was odd.

For one, he seemed to know more about this Age than he did many others since he’d been locked away like the weird love-child of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

Minus the kiss-of-love to wake him.

His eyes sharpened as he studied the whispering group behind his new…well…parole officer for lack of a better term.

They were injured, some of them quite badly.

Hissing under his breath, he strode around the pretty one and up to the most injured of the men, summoning his wand from the holster with a flick of his wrist.  In the aftermath of the Final Battle, his “friends” had pushed for him to return the Elder Wand to Dumbledore’s tomb…but that had never sat quite right with him.  A hunch that was proven true when the tomb was broken into…again…mere days after the Final Battle once it’d been bandied about that that was where he’d hidden it.

Idiots.

He was occasionally oblivious and ridiculously hard-headed, not a total tool.

On leaving the battlefield he’d gone straight to Gringotts to make amends there – something that hadn’t been necessary after all since he’d both attempted to *cough* return *cough* the Sword of Gryffindor to the goblins and been able to make it through their venerated security.  Apparently the Goblin Nation appreciated that.  They waved off his attempts to pay for repairs, telling him that since Bellatrix had violated the account-holder bylaws by storing a soul-leech in their vaults that they’d taken…reparations…from both her personal holdings and that of House LeStrange.

What didn’t go to her and her husband and brother-in-law’s victims went straight into the pockets of the goblins.

And all was well in the land of Gold.

They’d been the ones to reveal the entirety of his estates, holdings, and titles in the wake of his attempt to buy their forgiveness; before ushering him to Siri’s personal vault upon hearing what he was after.  One appropriated Hit-Wizard-Grade wand holster in Hungarian-Horntail Dragonhide later and he’d been set to conceal the Elder Wand for the rest of his life…no matter how short that time in the Wizarding World had turned out to be in the end.

The Elder wood and Thestral heart-string wand in his hand felt…warm…comforting…

It felt like coming home as his wand and magic reconnected after centuries beyond measure of being parted.

With a flick he diagnosed the bleeding man who had been lowered to the cold stone floor by his companion.  Reading the parchment that popped into being after the spell was finished, he ignored the gasps and shocked glances – even the frightened stumbles back and away from him – his entire focus on the dying man he was now kneeling beside.  Rocking back on his heels, he cast a glance over towards the bear-like older man who had that air of “in-charge” about him, seeking consent.

There was no way his erstwhile patient was capable of giving it, someone would have to in his stead.

“If I don’t heal this man he will die.”  Harry said plainly, then at a sudden thought cast a wide-area diagnostic that made the gathered watchmen light up to signify various stages of health.  He grimaced at the results.

Not one of them was in the green or “healthy” zone.

Gotta love the toll living in the equivalent of his former society’s Dark-to-Middle Ages had on the human body.

Not.

“Those two as well.”  He said, pointing to the two that had lit up red, though a milder shade than the man he was beside.  With a swish he had them unconscious and in stasis – the most he could do without some form of consent since these were men bound by Vows and Oaths, not the everyday man.  Their bodies and lives were not their own.

The leader-ish older man turned to Harry’s pretty purple-eyed (Targaryen his mind whispered) rescuer, the bear-like man speaking in a language that was familiar and complete gibberish all at the same time.

Teddy’s translation spell wasn’t working on the chamber anymore now that he was awake and aware.

That might be a problem.

Sword-teen snapped out of his semi-trance (shock, magical overload?) and spoke in a heavily but sexily accented voice:

“You have the Lord Commander’s leave to treat his men.”

Harry grinned, wand already moving in patterns familiar to his post-Hogwarts training he’d undertaken in the guise of country-hopping.

“Brilliant.”  He said absently, eyes focusing back on his work.  “Then at least this time I landed around someone in authority that has half a brain.”

Jon choked at the shear irreverence coming from the warrior-of-old when he wasn’t busy healing the men, an act that had most of them semi-hypnotized due to never having seen magic performed before.  The closest thing Westeros had anymore that even came close was when the Red Priest Thoros of Myr lit his sword on fire during the melee at tourneys.

To see a man who mere minutes before had been as if dead, rise and walk around and heal?

Even for these men of the Night’s Watch who had seen the White Walkers it was a bit much to process.

While the Warrior of Old – who had yet to give his name – healed the watchmen; Mormont, Samwell, and Jon inspected the Tomb, searching for anything that might be of use.

There wasn’t much of anything to be found.  After all it was a tomb.  Magical beings waking from an enchanted sleep or not, the Tomb of the First Men wasn’t equipped to billet a squad of watchmen for however long it would take the White Walkers to get bored and wander off – or if Jon’s suspicions were right to be ordered away.

They would have to make do with what they had – for as long as they could.

That was, unless the Warrior of Old had a better idea.

Jon meant to ask him…as soon as he wasn’t wobbling on his feet.

Spying the nearly-exhausted and sweating form as the Warrior of Old climbed shakily to his feet after treating the last of the more-serious wounds – there were still a handful of men who had minor wounds that could use a cleansing if nothing else – Jon rushed to his side from where he was examining the diamond coffin and slipped his arm around the smaller man’s waist, tucking him into his side for support.

Thanks,” the Warrior of Old breathed out still in High Valyrian.  It had been moderately entertaining for Jon watching as the smaller man managed to communicate with the watchmen using mimes while Jon was occupied elsewhere and unable to translate for him.  “Not quite used to being…alive…again yet I think.”  He smirked up at Jon and shrugged.  “Overdid it as usual.

The Lord Commander watched out of wary eyes as the Stark boy led the risen sorcerer over towards the pair of cots the Stark had cobbled together out of his own supplies and heavy-fur cloak as well as the few expensive-looking silken-velvet pillows and blankets that the sorcerer had laid upon in his stone coffin.  Making a decision he walked over as Benjen’s boy lowered the smaller boy onto the cot, reaching into his own pack and digging out some salted dried meat and his skin filled with stout.

“Here.”  Mormont offered the handful of things to Jon.  “Give him these and thank him for saving my men.”

Jon nodded, carefully hiding his surprise at the action.  They’d brought little-enough supplies with them – and Mormont was a bigger man than most.  Jon had assumed – wrongly it appeared – that he’d be the one sharing his rations with the Warrior.

Harry looked up at Jon with steadfast patience, waiting for the teen to translate.

The Lord Commander thanks you for looking after his men and has given you a small form of payment towards that debt.”  Jon said handing him the meat and skin as his curiosity took hold of him.  “What is your name?  I am Jon Balerion of the Houses of Targaryen and Stark.”  He figured it would be safe enough since with Robert dead and armies marching there were worse things to be than the son of the much-beloved Prince Rhaegar – at least much-beloved by the smallfolk.

“Give the Lord Commander my thanks for the meal.”  Harry said with a small smile and polite nod towards the much-larger man.  “My name is Harry James, Lord of the Houses of Black and Potter, last of the House of Peverell, Jon Targaryen-Stark.”

“He thanks you for the meal.”  Jon translated quickly.  “And says his name is Harry James, Lord of the Houses of Black and Potter, last of the House of Peverell.”

“Highborn then?”  Mormont arched a brow, scratching at his beard before giving a nod.  “Very well.  Once he’s up to it see if that hokum of his can do anything about the walking-bloody-dead outside.”

“Yes, Lord Commander.”  Jon gave a polite nod as he agreed – though he was under no real obligation to follow the man’s commands, he would do so anyway as long as he was a member of this company.

Harry tasted the contents of the skin with caution that rapidly was undone in the face of the hoppy-grain contents of the skin.  He did enjoy a good beer – and with this being the olden days or close to them beer and wine were certain to be a much safer beverage than the water, unless it was water conjured by Harry himself.  The meat when he tried it was a tough salted jerky but not bad either.  At least it was better than starving now that his systems were working again as he was no longer under the stasis spell.

His younger companion settled down next to him with a skin and meat of his own – though Harry’s nose smelled wine rather than beer.

Nobility then, rather than a watchman.  Not that he didn’t know of Jon’s lack of Vows by the white fur the teen wore in place of the all-black attire of the watch.  It made sense to him now why the sometimes-visitors to his tomb called the brothers of the watch “crows”, they made him strangely nostalgic for his former Potions Professor.

Then his mind wandered to wondering if potions was even a viable subject in the current Epoch.

He rather supposed he would find out – one way or another.

Much like everything else with his new home.

Including just who it was Jon of Houses Stark and Targaryen – and wasn’t the looks on the other men’s faces interesting when Jon had said the latter? - had woken him to fight.

The sound of stone grinding on stone snapped Jon from his deep, exhausted slumber.  A brief moment of confusion quickly passed as he blinked in the gloom of the tomb, the vague flickers from the lone remaining lit torch casting licks of light on the statues that instantly reminded him of where he had bedded down for the night.  Another moment confirmed that the sounds that woke him were coming from behind him towards the back of the tomb not ahead of him where the massive doors stayed sealed thank the gods.

With the knowledge that he wasn’t about to be slain by the frozen-walking-dead, Jon climbed stealthily to his feet, casting his glance around the shadowed tomb, the low light a result of Harry somehow snuffing the flames in the braziers and lit trench along the walls once all were bedded down for the night.

Harry.

Jon’s head snapped around with a crack as his conscious mind caught up with his sleep-hazed images from his first waking.

Harry wasn’t in his pallet.

Jumping to his feet, he padded softly towards the sounds, squinting blearily in the dim light of the braziers, Harry having extinguished most of the oil lights to let the exhausted Night’s Watch sleep.  Rounding the casket, he was confused for a quick moment when he noticed that the edge of it was off-center, as if the massively heavy coffin had been rotated.  Coming up next to a curious Ghost – the traitor hadn’t woken him whenever Harry had gotten up to do…whatever he was doing – he crouched down, letting out a soft gasp and shooting a worried look over at the sleeping forms of the Night’s Watch.

“Don’t worry.”  Harry called up to Jon from the chamber that had been hidden by the tomb where he had wasted away, locked in stasis for an epoch or more.  “I cast a ward around them when I woke, they won’t wake or hear anything until I remove it.”  Harry moved to stand at the base of the stairs, craning his head up at the man and his direwolf.  “Come down, it’s safe enough.”

Shaking off his surprise at the hidden chamber and its golden inset carvings along every surface he could see along the stair and walls – the cause of his initial worry regarding the Night’s Watch awakening, Mormont and a few others had proven themselves honorable, the rest…not so much – Jon rose to his full height and smoothly descended the stairs, Ghost padding softly at his heels.

“When I was condemned to the long night.”  Harry’s voice echoed as the warrior-mage led the way down the golden and silvered gilded tunnel that led into the under-chamber of the tomb.

An under-chamber that no one in the long histories of Jon’s two royal Houses had ever known existed.

“It didn’t happen all at once.”  Harry said, almost to himself as he told his tale to the man that he was now bound to – if only in the loosest of senses.  Honestly, if it wasn’t for the spell Teddy had cast on both him and the tomb, Harry wouldn’t have any autonomy to speak of once woken – it was certainly that outcome the Wizengamot had desired to occur.  But thanks to his cub and his cub’s spellwork as well as Harry’s own allies among the magical races, he wasn’t the slave or mindless automaton he should have been.

No.

Now he could make his own decisions about how much – or how little – he would help his, to put it bluntly no matter how it grated at his pride, his rescuer.

Harry knew much of the current generation and their woes thanks to a common visitor named “Benjen” who had come often – more often than any other save Teddy himself – to speak to the statue of his lost lover.  It was thanks to this knowledge that he now knew who his rescuer was – the child of Benjen, who must have been a Stark as he visited the tomb, and a Targaryen Crown Prince.  Making his rescuer the rightful Heir to the Iron Throne if he understood the way things worked in his new world.

“Your imprisonment?”  Jon asked as he studied the various engravings on the walls as he followed at Harry’s heels.

Harry made a vague noise of agreement.

“It took them years to manage it.”  He supplied.  “More than a decade passed after my glorious,” he rolled his eyes.  “Defeat of Tom passed before I was locked in that coffin above our heads.  Oh,” he waved a hand.  “It wasn’t immediate by any means.  There were some rumbles after the shock of the Battle calmed down but – for the most part – people were happy the war was once again over and they could go back to their lives.  A friend of mine was in office,” Harry smiled at the thought of Kingsley with his colorful robes sitting in the doom-and-gloom of the Wizengamot chambers trying to herd the cats of the old houses and the department heads into some sort of order.  “And things were good.”  He shook his head in mourning for that too-brief golden age.  “So very good.”

“What happened?”  Jon pried as they came around a bend and he lost his senses with a gasp as Harry flicked his wand and sent out a spell illuminating the under-chamber.  “By the Gods.

“No.”  Harry laughed, correcting his new friend.  “By the goblins.  The same who helped prevent the worst parts of the spell I was placed under, with some help from my foster-son and the knowledge he had access to from our family library.”

Jon didn’t know what goblins might be but he knew what he saw – and that was breathtaking indeed.

For this under-chamber that Harry had led him down to – concealed by the very expensive and very heavy casket he had half-slumbered in – was as large as the great Hall of Winterfell.  And filled from rough-hewn stone floor to the smooth-worn ceiling that showed signs of a stonemason’s hammer and chisel along with the same gold and silver inlays, with piles and stacks and mountains of gold, silver, copper, and bronze; besides the metals Jon’s eyes didn’t automatically recognize.  Weapons were mounted on the walls, the like of which he’d never seen.  Bolts and spools were wound with the gleam of silk and the gilt of real-gold and real-silver thread and delicate gauzes, stands and racks draped with fine leather and furs and materials Jon couldn’t even identify.

It was a treasure-trove to beggar even the gold-shitting Lannisters and their prosperous mines or the fine material merchants of Myr and Lys, Tyrosh and Volantis, Dorne and the Summer Isles.

There were even casks and crates that held untold treasures, shelves filled with books and tomes and scrolls – even the sparkle and splash of precious stones both cut and uncut.

Jon turned back to his companion when he’d had enough of goggling over the riches no one had ever known existed, only to find Harry was no longer at his side.  Rather, while Jon was fiddling with a pile of golden coins and warning Ghost away from a cask of who-knew-what, Harry’d made his way over to a shadowed corner Jon had initially missed in his inspection of the trove.  Moving closer, he saw a cloth-and-wood training dummy like those used by young boys just learning the sword or bow or axe.

In the time it’d taken his new royal friend to regain his senses and press for more answers from the enigmatic warrior, Harry had stripped himself down to his skin, giving himself a brisk rubdown with a cotton cloth bespelled both damp and warm, and then washed and re-braided his hair with a flick of his wand, followed by a drying spell.

Jon’s eyes widened at the sight of him, a warm blush hidden by the low light of the chamber – and warming other places hidden by his restrictive leather and wool trousers.  Harry was all golden-cream skin and ebony hair, jewel eyes hidden as he was turned to his task of stripping the clothes and armor from the dummy that had spent far-too-many-years waiting for this moment.  But he wasn’t perfection, like a pampered princeling such as Joffery nor unmarred by the war he’d fought and won.  Jon’s clever purple eyes spotted and catalogued more than one scar marring the otherwise unblemished skin as Harry quickly donned the finely spun wool leggings, undertunic, and socks, hiding himself from view.

For Harry, he welcomed the feeling of his old battle-leathers, untouched by age thanks to the enchantments powered by the goblins’ impeccable spellweaving and drawing on the power of the world for sustenance.

On went his basilisk-hide trousers and shirt along with the mithril under-vest that rested between the undertunic that kept him warm and protected him from chafing at the rub of the armor and the heavy hide.  Over that came gauntlets and greaves made of a combination of mithril and dragonhide as well as the heavy – though he’d eventually gotten used to it – dragonhide robe embroidered with his family crests upon the back.  Every piece from his boots to the hood of his sleeveless overrobe was done in a combination of black and gray, the only color showing from the silver of the Black crest and the deep ruby of the Potter.

His wand slipped seamlessly into the holster protected by the gauntlet on his right arm, and around his waist Harry buckled a sword-belt of mithril links which had a basilisk hide sheath in black studded with rubies and diamonds hanging from it.  Jon watched with cautious eyes – Harry making a much more intimidating figure in his armor than he’d ever thought possible from the smaller man – as the warrior-mage turned to another hidden figure, this one a statue wrought of a stone Jon had never seen before, and picked up the sword held there on the statue’s outstretched palms.

“Hello, old friend.”  Harry whispered to himself as he checked the ancient blade, rolling his wrist and rubbing one thumb along the edge to test the cut.  A smile lit his face as the blade sliced true, just as razor sharp as ever.

“What kind of blade is that?”  Jon asked, no longer able to keep his curiosity in check.

He’d never seen the like of it – though the same could be said of many things he’d seen since entering the Tomb of the First Men – it was made of a dark and menacing metal, without the rippling effect of Valyrian steel or the weakness of old iron.

Nor was it common to set jewels upon the hilt of a sword nor have another for the pommel.

All in all, it was a strange sword for all its dark beauty.

In that way, it was not unlike its master.

“The finest.”  Harry said with a knowing smile that showed his humor at Jon’s befuddlement.  “We called it Stygian steel.”

Jon tested that new and strange word on his tongue as Harry continued.

“Though the origins of it were lost,” Harry admitted with a shrug as he slipped the sword with its black and white diamond hilt and pommel into its sheath at his hip.  “I found it in one of my family’s oldest vaults and have kept it with me ever since – save for the day of my confinement before being sentenced to the waking death.”

“Yes.”  Jon shook his head, angry with himself for letting the riches of the hidden chamber distract him.  “You were telling me of how that came about.”

“Like every other thing that’s cursed me in my first life.”  Harry’s voice and face were bitter at the memory as he turned, bag in hand, to pack a few more things.  Now that he was free he would be able to summon things from his vault at will – thanks, thanks, a thousand thanks to the goblins – but there was no need to let Jon or anyone else know that.  Not yet.  Not while he was still uncertain about the lay of the land.  “It began with a prophecy.”  He sighed shaking his head at that bit of idiotic irony.

Jon moved to inspect the construct of the statue closer, moving always to be within earshot as Harry collected up things and shrinking them down before stuffing them in his pack – a cask here, a crate there, gold and silver and bronze coins, more weapons, and other things that Jon either missed entirely as he was also looking around or that he simply didn’t recognize.

“There was a Seer in my old world.”  Harry’s voice was nearly hypnotic to the ear as his companions – both with and without fur – followed him and listed to his tale.  “She made a pair of prophecies that affected me in various ways before I even came of age: one predicting my defeat of the Dark Lord which was the direct cause of my parents’ deaths and the other that a servant of that same Lord would break free and join him, causing the Dark Lord’s second rise: greater and more terrible than ever before.  They were the only two true prophecies she ever made…up until she made another on the back of a friend of mine, Firenze, making the prophecy you told your companions just before freeing me.”

“You heard that?”  Jon asked in shock, staring over at the mage with wide eyes as he absently played with a dagger he’d taken a liking to.

“Yes.”  Harry said drily.  “I’ve heard every word spoken in the Tomb since the time of my imprisonment, but more on that later.”  He looked over at his friend and smirked at the sight of the dagger in his hand.  “You can have that by the way.”  He nodded to the goblin-forged weapon with the wolf carving and inset ruby in the hilt.  “Matches your sword and that particular dagger never took to me.”

Since it was an heirloom of the LeStrange family…it never would as he’d personally done away with the last of that line.

Better it be used than rust away in the vault.

“Anyway.”  Harry got back on topic before Jon could stutter out his gratitude once he got his blush under control at his ill-mannered fondling of Harry’s treasure.  “I forget the exact wording but it suggested that a ‘Light-Scion’ was going to turn Dark and lead to the ruin of Wizarding Britain.”

Britain?”  Jon tested out another new and strange word.

“The land I called home.”  Was the answer he was given.  “By that time I’d refused the bride everyone tried to push on me, refused to join the Aurors – a peacekeeping force.”  He explained before Jon could ask.  “And had spent the preceding eight or so name-days,” he decided to use rather than years given the strange time-keeping measure of his new world.  “Traveling and learning and basically doing as I pleased with my time, power, and wealth.  Much of that was spent taking care of my,” Harry struggled for a second with the concept of godson before decided on, “foster-son, whose father was a great teacher of mine and close friend of my late-father’s before he died in battle against the Dark Lord.  My so-called rebellion and refusal to do as told made some people in power very angry.  One of whom was the wife of the then-Minister who was infuriated when I decided against marrying the bride selected by others for me, without my knowledge or consent – her only daughter.”

Jon winced, thinking of Cersei and the wrath she would have visited upon any man who had done the same to her or her daughter.  And had if you consider that Rhaegar’s father had refused to wed him to Tywin’s only girl – the now-Queen Mother Cersei.

Harry gave him a knowing look.  He was well-informed thanks to Benjen about just who Jon might be thinking of that would – and had – acted just like Molly.

“I trained.”  He said, tucking a familiar and very worn soft pink-and-purple drawstring lady’s bag into his satchel.  It had once seen him through awful times before being repurposed as a potion’s kit.  It was only right it would go with him on an adventure once more.  “And I learned.  But I never expected that a woman I had once seen as a mother would use that damned prophecy to convince the Wizengamot and the public that I was dangerous and in need of being put-down like a rabid dog.”

Again, Harry used an unfamiliar term to Jon, but he followed the idea this time, not needing help with the phase.  Instead, he found nothing in him but sympathy for that betrayal.  One he was all-too-familiar with given the Lady Catelyn’s attempts to shunt him off into the Black Brothers despite him being his Uncle Ned’s nephew rather than some bastard by-blow as rumors called him.  She simply couldn’t stand the whispers and over time that meant she could no longer stand him when she’d raised him for much of his life in the halls of her husband’s home when he couldn’t be with his bearer on Benjen’s travels.

“It took her time.”  Harry had to give the Wizarding World that.  They didn’t turn on him overnight.  But nonetheless eventually they did turn.  “The better part of two namedays.  By the time she’d finished her work, I had seen her coming – and I knew that I was likely to lose unless I was willing to live in hiding the rest of my days and condemn those who stood alongside me.  But,” he gave a victorious if grim smile, eyes dark.  “She didn’t win.  I’d learned that I couldn’t make my foster-son my heir – not entirely.  And I didn’t want my inheritance and vaults seized.  Fortunately,” he gave a chuckle.  “Goblins were warlike creature who honored those like them.  Like me.  They were contracted to set the spellweaving around my tomb – and knowing the place from that built this,” he waved a hand encompassing the chamber.  “Spelling it with preservation charms and secrecy charms.  Charms that would return Teddy’s inheritance to here once he and his heirs were gone.  Others that would funnel gold and artifacts those who shared even the smallest relation to me into this place once they were dead as well.  And others.”  He shrugged not knowing everything about how goblin magic worked or what all they’d done or otherwise not wanting to share what he did know.

“Question.”  Jon held up a gold coin, truly confused.  “How is this a gold dragon if it’s a remnant of your old world?”

“Goblin magic.”  Harry said in a dry deadpan.  Shouldering his pack, he shrugged not having any other answer for the nobleborn man.  “Even now it keeps aware of the outside world.  Much like the spells layered over the upper chamber where I was kept that allowed me to hear and to know what was going on in the outer world.  I slept,” he looked off into the distance, still horrified by the magnitude of what had been done to him.  “But it was a half-sleep.  One without dreams.  Or nightmares.  Or rest.  Merely locked in my mind and body, unable to move or communicate or even breathe.  That,” he said eyes nearly dead.  “Was what a woman who I loved like a mother did to me for the sake of a prophecy and petty revenge over a slight.”

After calling Ghost back to his side in the echoing silence following Harry’s words, Jon thought over all he’d been told.

He still didn’t know much about the warrior, most of what he’d learned was more from his own inferences from the tale Harry had spun and what he’d seen around the lower chamber that Harry was at that moment securing before waking the others to eat and plan.

But of one thing he was certain.

His Uncle’s final task he’d set him had not been in vain.

If anyone was capable of helping him save his cousins from those Lannister twats in the capitol it was the lithe mage climbing to his feet and dusting off his hands after using his blood to seal the entrance to the lower chamber.

Come what may, the Starks might survive this Long Winter yet.

With a look that clearly told Jon to keep silent about the lower chamber – not that he really thought Jon would say anything but it was better to be safe than sorry – Harry slid the lower facing panels on the casket to the side, making it appear that his armor and supplies had been stored underneath, and then took down the warding he’d set around the sleeping watchmen.

After hustling Jon and Ghost back to their pallets and encouraging them to eat and fortify themselves, Harry even dipping into his pack for a haunch of beef for the direwolf which gained him an arched brow from the dark-haired Targaryen, Harry padded on quiet feet around the hunched and sleeping forms of the men, casting diagnostics and healing those with minor wounds he’d not been able to take care of before the exhaustion of being woken and then doing major healing knocked him out for the night.

By the time he made it to the side of the grizzled Lord Commander it was to the sight of watery blue eyes watching him carefully as the older man rested with his back against the wall, sipping from his skein and tearing at salted meat.

Remembering the night before, Harry concentrated and then cast a spell, completing the information-sharing that Jon’s bloodletting had begun when the Stark-Targaryen had broken the enchantments on his tomb.

“Well?”  Mormont all-but-barked.  “Stark get over here and translate for our newly-risen friend.”

“No need.”  Harry said haltingly as he assimilated the rest of the knowledge he’d gained from Jon’s blood.

And what blood it was.

It…tingled…for lack of a better word.  Like firewhiskey but with less of a burn and without the literal fire-breath.

This information-sharing was the backbone of the spell that Teddy had cast, altering his imprisonment.

The last of the Blacks had made it not only so that he would hear and assimilate what was spoken in his tomb despite his waking-not-waking sate but also that whoever woke him would unknowingly create a link – albeit a temporary one Harry could sever at any time – allowing Harry to take what information he’d need without being bound permanently to his waker if he didn’t care to be.

And thank god for that.

The thought of being woken by someone like Dumbledore or gods-forbid Umbridge and being stuck to them for the rest of his life was enough to make him nauseas.  If such a thing had come to pass he very well might’ve AK’d himself before living as a slave and glorified tool for someone like them to use as they saw fit.

Hours and hours it had taken Harry to learn what he needed and then minimize the connection, but now he had at least the minimum he needed to make a start in this new epoch, keeping the connection as a backup in case he needed it.  It wasn’t as if being tethered – at least in part – to Jon Targaryen had been onerous thus far.

Now he knew the common tongue, and that his native tongue was now known as High Valryian.  The man before him was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch…and he’d given Jon his impressive sword.  Jon’s uncle had been beheaded by a vicious and juvenile false-king.  And his cousin had called up an army to first rescue the Starks trapped in King’s Landing.

All this and more Harry now had access to.

Though for the most part he tried to keep from peeking at the more dirty bits he’d found lurking in Jon’s mind.

Like what the outrageously handsome man looked like naked for starters…or his equally impressive cousin.

Harry blinked, shoving those thoughts to the back of his mind and focusing on the gaping old soldier before him.

“You can speak the common tongue after all, can ya lad?”  Mormont grunted after his shock had passed.

“It’s what Benjen?”  He cocked his head to the side in a gesture of pretend thought.  It was as good of an excuse as any for his sudden knowledge.  And only talking to Jon would curtail his ability to get to the gritty bottom of the fight going on that he’d been awakened to help with.  “Always spoke when he came to talk to Rhaegar?”  He shrugged.  “And change out the oil in the braziers and such.  The Starks have maintained my tomb for more than eight thousand years if I have my counting right.”

“That’s right.”  Jon confirmed quietly, nodding from his spot sitting beside Ghost not far from the Lord Commander.  His words were nearly hidden under the sound of the men getting up and moving about, seeing to their needs and unwrapping bandages no longer needed and stowing them away, some sharpening their swords or fiddling with wrappings.  “A Stark every generation from the first of us has come and taken care of this place.  When it was first found by the First Men we were selected to be the Keepers – both of the tomb and of the prophecy that was discovered with it.”

“Prophecy.”  Mormont leaned to the side and spit into one of the braziers, the flames sizzling before recovering from the onslaught.  “Smoke and hokum for all the good its ever done.”

“Couldn’t agree more.”  Harry said drily, thinking of how he wound up among this malodorous group.  It was as if none but Jon had ever even heard of the concept of bathing.

“Now, lad.”  Mormont rose to his feet with a stretch.  “You healed my men and me – no small power that.  Is there any sorcery in your prophesized self that will help against the white-walkers or will we have to either die in here or die out there?”

“Oh.”  Harry said with a half-grin, twirling his wand between his fingers as he thought.  “I’ve got a trick or two up my sleeve for them…”

“Remember,” Harry commanded Jon and the men of the Night’s Watch.  “Stay at my back.  What I’m about to do is dangerous – if you get out in front of me I might not be able to pull it back in time.”

“Aye lads.”  Mormont nodded, hoisting his sword.  He and his men were to watch for stragglers and guard the sorcerer as he did his magic.  Naught else.  “You heard ‘im.”

“Yes, Lord Commander.”  The Watchmen sounded out, Jon giving Harry a nod.

The sorcerer had explained – in detail – just how nasty the spell he was going to use against the wraiths was.  And not a man of them were eager to taste it for themselves.

“Good.”  Harry breathed, hardly able to believe that not only was he free but that he was once more getting thrown head-long into someone else’s fight.  “Now: stay back.”

With that, Harry cast the spell to open the secondary escape hatch out of the tomb.  On silent feet, the company strode into the dark stair that led upwards, winding around and around in pitch black, not one of them so much as breathing hard.  Harry wasn’t able to guarantee that the tunnel the goblins and Teddy had used – one that used to lead from a bathroom down to another hidden Chamber – was completely intact or that it had remained unbreeched by the White Walkers.  Thankfully, save for a few spots where Harry had needed to cast some reinforcement charms at signs of the walls beginning to buckle under the strain of erosion and age, they made it to the end without incident.

Taking a deep breath, he lit his wand and hissed: “§Open§” much to the discomfort of his companions at the sibilant sounds of Parseltongue.

The old marble panel opened into darkness, the snow pack having buried the escape route under several feet of snow and ice.  Cancelling the wand-light, Harry used a series of Incendios to melt away the snow, casting another charm over himself and the others to protect them from the sudden downpour as his spell reached further and further out, until the tunnel was bared beneath the harsh Northern sun and they were freely able to venture forth without having to climb up through feet of snow pack.

Stepping out into a new world, Harry paused a long moment, staring at the ice-and-rock-and-snow that made up his current view of his new life.  It was a stark as his companion’s bearer’s House name and just as wildly beautiful as Jon himself.  He loved it – and hated the bitter cold – in equal measure.

“Harry.”  Hissed Jon, reminding him that he was blocking the exit.

“No.”  Harry waved for them to stay down.  “Stay there a moment.  I see them.”

Without further discussion or fanfare, Harry lifted his wand and cast a spell that once-upon-a-time he swore to himself he would never use after seeing its fatal beauty at far-too-close of range:

Fiendfyre.”

The deadliest of cursed fire shot and raged from his wand, fueled by his own hate of the undead and his view of Jon’s fear of the creatures who only seemed to die by fire.  Sweat beaded upon his brow as he stared out at the creatures that were still surging against the door at the bottom of the cliff-face, the escape tunnel having released him at the top of the mountain Jon’s memories dubbed “The Fist of the First Men.”  It was a gift, the view his exit had given him, allowing him to rain down a storm of fire on the creatures before most – but not all – were able to react.

All but those at the very back were swept up in the deadly jaws of the great serpent made of naught but fire – and none were there to see it save for a sorcerer long displaced in time and a general on a dead steed with a crown of ice and burning blue eyes.

“Up!  Up!”  Harry called as the few remaining White Walked raced up the hill at the command – a boney, skeletal finger pointing at Harry’s still form, fire still raining down on them from his wand – of the Other.  “On my flank!  I can’t use another spell until this one is done!”

As it was it took all his concentration to speak, let alone attempt to break the spell.  Fiendfyre was nearly impossible to control, taking a massive among of strength and an iron will to subdue it.  And it only took the slightest bit of direction, leading to Harry needing someone to watch his back as he tried to turn it back towards himself and scorch the remaining undead rather than race towards the massive trees of the Far North.  If it made the trees, it could very well consume the entire Land of Eternal Winter before sundering against the Wall.

And Harry wasn’t even sure the Wall might be enough to stop it if it raged out of control with the wild magic of the land to fuel it.

“Positions!”  Mormont called as they circled the sorcerer backs to him – but none getting between him and the great fire snake he was attempting to control.  “Swords away lads!  Torches in hand!”

After what seemed like an age of seeing the Wraiths run closer and closer – knowing that some of them may very well die this time – they heard what might as well have been music to their ears:

“Tintreach stalic!”  Harry cried out, a burst of lightning striking from his wand and hitting the closest Wraith before branching out and hitting the others close to it.

Harry had been able to stop the Fiendfyre.

Not that the lightning strike spell had done much but put a hole through the Wraith and knock them down…but it had been worth a shot.

Setting his jaw, Harry took hold of his sword and raised it, setting it aflame with a wordless spell as the lead Wraith regained its feet, quickly catching up to the others.

Fine then.  He thought, glad he’d traveled and trained after Hogwarts now more than ever.  Fire spells it is then.

“Mastix ignatio.”  He intoned, calling up a spell favored by his former Headmaster: a lash made of solid fire.  Though in his case it was the much nastier mastix curse which created a cat-o-nine rather than the simple flagellum hex Dumbledore had used.

With flaming sword and fire whip in hand, Harry set to work against the Wraiths, the men of the Watch at his back and protecting him from any that would try and take him out at his flank.

The Other that had ordered them up the hill hadn’t seen the Watchmen before having its Wraiths attack the sorcerer, or perhaps it might have favored a withdrawal over losing the rest of its force.

As that was what happened.

Time passed in a blur as Harry faced off with undead after undead, his ears steadily ignoring the battle cries of his company, instead focusing utterly on the task at hand, loping off heads and setting body after body aflame at the kiss of his cursed fire.

When all that remained of the blue-eyed attackers were smoking, burned-out husks, Harry stood on the edge of the precipice and stared down at the Other and its pale, dead horse, letting out a mighty challenging roar not unlike the lion he had spent so much of his teens being compared to.

The Other merely nodded, acknowledging the field as lost, and melted away into the snow and coming storm.

Perhaps the age of magic and dragons wasn’t as gone as the Others had thought.

“Damned it we couldn’t use your sorcery at Castle Black, Lord Potter-Black.”  Mormont said once the men had recovered and had whatever wounds needed seeing to healed.

Harry had to laugh at that jab over his titles.

“Maybe so.”  Harry agreed easily.  “But I’m not one to take vows.  Especially ones I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep, Lord Commander.  I’m rather fond of bed-sport you see...”  He laughed with a remorseless smirk.  “Not to mention children.”

“That’s a shame.”  The old warrior shook his head, resting one hand on his pommel of his sheathed sword.  “A damned shame.  What’ll you do now that you’re freed from your sleep, lad?”

“Well.”  Harry said looking off over the frozen landscape.  “If I’m not mistaken, there’s a war brewing.  Sounds like the place for a prophesized warrior, wouldn’t you say?”

“Aye.”  Mormont sighed.  “That sounded like the size of it to me.  But if you ever decide to take the Black, we’d be glad to have ya lad.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”  Harry gave a half-smile.  “A word of advice before we set out for Castle Black: I’ve heard many things over the ages between my being bespelled and being awakened.  The last Long Night was pushed back by the building of the Wall, and kept away by the coming of the Dragons.  But before the Dragons came, and Bran built his Wall, the First Men had to fight against the dead that walked and their generals of blue eyes and dead mounts.  They did it with something called ‘dragon-glass’ in addition to fire.”  Harry looked over at Mormont from his position beside Jon.  “Just something to think about in case I’m not there the next time the Wraiths and the Others attack.”

“Aye lad.”  Mormont sighed.  “And what of Benjen Stark?”  He demanded.  “What do you know of him?”

“He hasn’t been to my tomb in some time.”  Harry admitted taking out his wand.  “But there’s one way to know for sure…”  He trailed off, looking over at Benjen’s son Jon for permission.

Point-Me: Benjen Stark.”

The wand laid as if dead, not even moving a hair.

Harry looked up at Jon, the other already guessing as to the result of the spell if the look in his eyes was any clue.

“I’m sorry, Jon.”  Harry clasped one hand to the teen’s shoulder, thinking quickly of how to speak his news in a way that wasn’t unfeeling but that Jon would understand, switching between Westron and High Valyrian.  “He has been called by the Stranger.  His watch has ended.”

Jon bowed his head, as did many of the others who knew Benjen Stark, the Lord Commander included.  After seeing what the mage was capable of not one man among them doubt his words.

“His watch has ended.”  The others murmured.

“Go on.”  Harry motioned towards where he could feel the great magic imbued in the Wall.  “No point in stumbling about in the Far North when you have your answers, Lord Commander.  Jon and I will catch up.”

“Aye lad.”  Mormont nodded his head solemnly.  “Aye.  You heard ‘im, men!  Move out!  Back to Castle Black!”

Jon was quiet and numb during most of the match back to the ancient castle and garrison of the Night’s Watch, speaking mostly in monosyllables save to Harry or Ghost who could draw him out of the shell created by the confirmation of his bearer’s death.  He’d had the idea in his head when Benjen failed to report back that he’d finally fallen prey to a wildling or the bitter far northern dangers or even to a White Walker.  But having it confirmed was another thing entirely.

Moreover, Jon knew that this was his only time to grieve.

The second he was back in Westeros proper, he’d have to make a decision about what to do next.

Did he try for the throne that was his birthright?

Did he join Robb in going south to save Sansa and Arya?

Would his cousins even support his claim to the throne?

Questions and questions that he had no answers to, so he set them aside, preferring instead to think of the good times he spent with his bearer and his uncle, learning of his history – and his birthright.

Jon had been raised knowing that someday the time might come where he could make a bid for the throne – if that was indeed what he wanted.

And with the way the Lannisters had shat all over his uncle and half of Jon’s blood, he was leaning more and more towards shoving the Iron Throne right up the Lannisters’ collective arses.

He also knew that if they haven’t already one or both of Robert Baratheon’s brothers would be making bids for the crown now that his uncle’s suspicions regarding Joffery and his siblings had been made public.  The Old Gods love his uncle – even in penning that news to Stannis Baratheon he hadn’t betrayed the truth of Jon’s own existence to anyone.  No.  If there was one thing Benjen and Ned Stark had disagreed on it was that Jon should be able to choose for himself whether to cast his lot for the crown or not.

Benjen had taken steps all Jon’s life to prepare him for such a thing, making sure that the men of the Vale were loyal to his trueborn son as an Heir of the Eyrie through Benjen’s mother, the sister of Jon Arryn.  Robert Arryn was known to be a whimpering pup of a boy – and weak and crazed like his mother with it.  None of the men of the Vale would support him over Jon, despite the boy and his mother currently acting as Lord and Regent of the Vale.

And by leaving Jon to spend much time with his cousins at Winterfell, Benjen had allowed him to gain strong ties to both the Heirs of the North and of Riverrun as Edmure Tully, his cousins’ uncle, had yet to take a bride or sire a legitimate heir, leaving Bran to be second in line for the Riverlands.

The Martells would support a Targaryen for the Throne, especially after Tywin’s butchery of the Princess Elia and her two children, giving Jon the support of much of the seven kingdoms or at least their neutrality in the case of the Vale and Riverlands.

And then there was King’s Landing and the Crownlands, both of which had suffered greatly under Robert Baratheon and had even less love for the Lannisters.

The Stormlands would be fought over by the Baratheon brothers and in the end would likely be split down the middle, while the West would of course throw in for Joffery out of fear of Tywin if nothing else.

Jon also knew that the Tyrells could throw the support of the Reach behind Renly Baratheon – at least at first.  Should he fail, they would likely come crawling to whoever was likely to elevate them the highest.  Mace Tyrell had spent more time feasting during Robert’s rebellion than actually supporting Jon’s father Rhaegar after all.

It was a muddle – and that was before you threw in the Lords and Houses who had remained loyal to the Targaryens and the idea of a Targaryen king or queen with the Beggar Prince in Essos.

He didn’t want to fight against his own blood for the throne, but rumor had it there was too much of the Mad King in his uncle Viserys Targaryen for Jon to ever support him to the throne of Westeros.

A moot point since of the two of them – three if he included his aunt Daenerys – Jon as the legitimate son of Rhaegar had the best claim to the Iron Throne, better even than his Baratheon cousins with Joffery being a bastard.

And even after considering all of that…Jon was still no closer to an answer in his grieving state.

They returned to Castle Black with little fanfare, bringing with them naught but a new ally and grim news.

Mormont went at once to treat with Maester Aemon while Jon retreated to pack his bags.

He’d made one decision at least: he would join Robb.  But first he would speak with his uncle Aemon before anything else.  Robb’s council could wait until Jon joined him, Uncle-Maester Aemon’s was much nearer – and more related to Jon’s situation.

Before taking their leave, Jon and Harry stopped by the Maester’s chambers, Harry interested in picking the old man’s brain before spending who knew how long on the road.

Thankfully, Jon had brought a pair of horses with him in case one didn’t survive the journey or died while on a Ranging with his bearer – which had happened in the past leaving him stranded until his uncle Ned sent him another to ride back to Winterfell.  A lesson well-learned, especially with the knowledge that this time he might be bringing back a guest.

Though Jon still didn’t know what to think about Harry – a feeling that was all-too-mutual between them.

“I know that step.”  Aemon said in his craggy voice as the pair entered his solar.  “That’s the step of a Targaryen no longer hiding his blood.”

The elderly Maester’s eyes stared blindly at the wall as his apprentice Samwell showed them in before scurrying away to fetch Aemon’s dinner.

“But who comes with him, I wonder?”  The scholar mused.  “Who’s boots sound unlike any other I’ve heard before, and walks with a stride closer to that of a cat than a man?  A stranger, I think.”  Aemon observed.  “Though not The Stranger just yet, I hope.”

“I’ve been called many things, Maester Aemon.”  Harry noted with good-humor.  “But never Death himself.”

“And you, young Jon?”  Aemon probed.  “Are you still denying your blood?  Our blood?”

“No, Nuncle Aemon.”  Jon gave a bow, knowing the eldest living Targaryen would sense it even if he couldn’t see it.  “The Usurper is dead; the kingdoms are fracturing as we speak.  If ever there was a time to claim my blood it is now – or never.”

A usurper is dead, my Black Dread.”  Aemon warned.  “It seems to be a title growing in popularity according to the ravens at least.”

Aemon felt along the table before him and passed over several sheets of parchment.

“Renly Baratheon has made claim to the throne, while Stannis Baratheon flounders in his thoughts and desires – save to have a bastard born of adulterous incest heaved from the Iron Throne.”  Jon summed up as he read.  “The Stormlands have split – as you said they would – and the Tyrells have declared for Renly with him taking the girl Margery as his bride and would-be Queen.”  The Targaryen Heir shook his head in disgust at the blatant grasping for the crown.  Of them all, Renly had one of the weakest claims to the throne, second only to the Lannister bastards.  “Cersei has been displaced as Hand in favor of her brother Tyrion.”  Jon mused.  “Now that is actually a matter for concern.  I liked the dwarf well enough when I met him and found him rather cunning and intelligent.”

“The most dangerous of the Lions, is Tyrion Lannister.”  Aemon observed.  “Though the least respected among them, he’s that much deadlier for being underestimated.”

“Hmm.”  Jon hummed under his breath, eyes casting over the letters.  “Lady Stark is holding Winterfell secure and Robb is making his way to the Twins with the Northern army to lift the siege at Riverrun where Jaime Lannister somehow captured Robb’s uncle Edmure.”

“Keeping Hoster Tully trapped instead his fortress and unable to strike back at the Lions.”  Aemon said.  “A good strategy of Tywin’s of that there is no doubt.  Now that Joffery has declared your cousin Robb a traitor and demanded his head, Tywin comes North to try and collect it.”

“Well,” Harry spoke at least, watching the two Targaryens plot.  “It seems your cousin might be in need of some reinforcements then.  Have you decided to try for the throne?”

“A good question, stranger.”  Aemon huffed a laugh.  “With Viserys killed by Daenerys’s husband and the Khaleesi widowed, there is only one other besides our young Jon here who might have claim to the throne.”

“Who?”  Jon all-but-demanded of his great-great-great-uncle.  He, like his father before him, trusted Aemon’s council above all others.  If Aemon said there was another besides they two and Daenerys who had claim to the throne, Jon believed him.

“A son of a disgraced line, my Black Dread.”  Aemon disclosed, referencing Jon’s second Naming for the legendary dragon.  “In the East a son of the Blackfyres who wedded with a descendent of Aerion Brightflame has been raised in secret by Jon Connington at the behest of Illyrio Mopatis.  He is claimed to be the son of Rhaegar and Jon’s elder half-brother Aegon.”  Here Aemon shook his head.  “Which is the truth is hard to determine.  Is he the son of Rhaegar or the son of the Blackfyres?  Jon Connington claims one to me while the Spider claims the other.  Regardless his claim is suspect while that of our Black Dread and the Stormborn are both unquestionable.”

“By the gods.”  Jon traded a look with Harry.  “What should be done about this ‘Aegon Targaryen’?”

“Nothing.”  Aemon said at once.  “At least – not yet.  He is still half the world away and has only the support of an exiled Lord and a cheesemonger besides that of the Golden Company.  You, my Dragon, are the true-born son of Rhaegar Targaryen and his second-spouse Benjen Stark.  You will have the support of the North and Lords from all over Westeros while young Aegon will have to scrap and scrape for the mildest of welcome here.”  Aemon shook his head.  “Worry about the Lions at your neck, young Dragon, before the shadows on the other side of the sea.  I will do what I can to find the truth of the matter – and news of your aunt.  You do what you can to secure your claim and see our blood back on the throne where it belongs.”

“Yes, Nuncle Aemon.”  Jon bowed his head.

Harry took his chance to speak up.

“That’s how you view the game afoot?”  Harry asked the old Maester.  “A Targaryen on the Iron Throne as the only acceptable outcome?”

“Yes.”  Aemon said.  “All members of the Watch are tested at least once.  I have been tested more than that – but none were so grievous as that of knowing my great nephew was betrayed by the Kingsguard – mad or not – and my beloved great-great-nephew, Jon’s own father who’d seen him but once, was dead at the hands of that bastard Baratheon, Elia a Princess of Dorne raped and stabbed in her bed with her sweet children murdered.  No.”  Aemon shook his head.  “A Westeros under Lannister or Baratheon rule is not a place where anything resembling justice or honor will reign.  I believe my Black Dread with his Targaryen fire and Stark honor will be the King Westeros needs, if not the one it deserves as well.”

“Thank you for your council, Maester Aemon.”  Harry said, rolling that around in his mind.  He needed to speak with some others, having already gotten Jeor Mormont’s and Jon’s views on the subject.  Until he saw all sides he couldn’t make a firm decision about what was to be done.  Or who to support.

“You are welcome, Warrior.”  Aemon gave a crooked smile, showing his knowledge of what his young princeling had done.  “And, my young Dragon?”

“Yes, Nuncle?”

“Come closer,” Aemon said.  “Let me see you one last time, in case the Stranger comes for me in truth before we meet again.”

With that, Jon leaned over, placing Aemon’s fragile but steady hands one his smooth face, having taken the time to rid himself of his beard from the ranging upon reaching his guest quarters along with having a bath – a luxury Harry also indulged in.

“Allow me to give my nephew one last piece of counsel”, the old man said in a bare whisper, “the same council that I once gave my brother when we parted for the last time. He was three-and-thirty when the Great Council chose him to mount the Iron Throne. A man grown with sons of his own, yet in some ways still a boy. Egg had an innocence to him, a sweetness we all loved. Kill the boy within you, I told him the day I took the ship for the Wall. It takes a man to rule. An Aegon, not an Egg. Kill the boy and let the man be born.”

The old man felt Jon’s face, committing it to his memory.

“You are half the age that Egg was, and your own burden is a crueler one, I fear. You may have little joy of your rule, but I think you have the strength in you to do the things that must be done. Kill the boy, my young Dragon.  Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born.”

Jon thought of his uncle’s words as they rode through the gift down the Kingsroad to Winterfell.

And when he wasn’t thinking of the wisdom of one of the greatest among living men, he was worrying away at how to best make his play for the Iron Throne.

One thing was certain: something had to be done about his missing cousins.

He’d already taken steps to at least secure the alliance of the few holdouts among the Lords of Westeros, using Aemon’s ravens with the Maester’s permission to send out a missive throughout the land that read:

To All the Lords and Men of the Seven Kingdoms and its dominions –

Let it be known that the bastard styling himself as King Joffery Baratheon first of his name, is no more than the product of incest and adultery foisted on the late King Robert the Usurper by his Lannister bride Cersei.

She is henceforth convicted of high treason and line-theft and sentenced to death for her crimes, along with her son the Pretender to the Throne Joffery Waters.

May all the gods Old and new strike them down for their crimes.

Also let it be known this day, that I, Jon Balerion, true-born son of the Crown Prince Rhaegar I Targaryen, First of His Name, and his bound-Consort Benjen Stark, do lay claim to the Throne of Westeros and shall be henceforth known as King Jon I Targaryen, First of His Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm.

May the gods judge my claim.

Winter is Coming and it brings Fire and Blood.

He signed it: King Jon I Targaryen, First of His Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm, and beneath it pressed his personal sigil into the wax: a direwolf rampant facing a three-headed dragon.

A second series of letters went out after the first: one to Robb letting his cousin know when he should be joining him, another to the Martells and other Targaryen loyalists still in hiding, a third to the loyal men of the Eyrie who were working behind the scenes to keep Robert in check, and more.  One to Varys, another to the Iron Bank of Braavos so that he might have access to the Targaryen fortune there that had been lost to Westeros along with Queen Rhaella’s death, and one to his Aunt Daenerys letting her know of his existence and claim.  With the last, he sent it to Varys by the way the Spider used for such things, knowing that it may or may not arrive.

But at least he could say he’d tried.

More letters went out to the Targaryen men who his uncle Ned had hidden among the North, allowing them to watch over him and protect him while remaining dead to all others.

All in all, Jon was cursing himself and was blessing Harry for being able to cast a copying charm for the first letter, making it so all he had to do was sign them and seal them with his sigil while working on his second batch of letters that could have only been done in his own hand.

At least by using the Watch’s ravens they had a chance of reaching their destinations.  He couldn’t say that the Lannisters had eyes and ears in Winterfell – but he couldn’t be certain they didn’t either.  And besides that, the last person the now Dowager Lady Stark wanted cluttering up her solar was her late husband’s dragon-born nephew who most called Ned’s bastard in their ignorance of his true parentage – and thank the gods for that.

It was long days and nights on the road to Winterfell, time that Jon spent mulling over plans and talking to Harry.

One such talk had him learning that the sorcerer could disappear and reappear from sight at will as well as travel long distances in a moment – but only if he knew where he was going.

“I need at least coordinates.”  Harry told him when Jon asked about the possibility of him popping into King’s Landing and rescuing his cousins.  “Besides which from the maps I saw in Aemon’s chambers Westeros is a large country – larger than the one I was born in by far.  I could never Apparate from King’s Landing to Winterfell while bringing passengers with me.”  The sorcerer shook his head.  “Even for me – that’s just not possible.”

Which led to several conversations about the limitations of Harry’s magic, though Jon knew that the warrior wasn’t being entirely forthcoming.

Not that Jon could blame him.

He awoke in a new and strange reality with only Jon to rely on – and even that was only due to Jon’s ability to wake him from his sleep which created a bond of sorts.

In Harry’s place…Jon couldn’t say he would’ve been all that open either.

“Tell me.”  Harry said one time.  “Tell me all you know about the state of the realms.”

Jon obliged, speaking of the Lannisters and Baratheons, the Martells and Tyrells, his uncle’s murder and his aunt in the East.  Through it all Harry simply watched him from calm jewel-green eyes, Jon getting the feeling that Harry was paying more attention to how he chose to say things than what he chose to say.

A feeling that if he but knew it was all too true.

Harry had gotten a crash-course in Westerosi politics thanks to his bond with the Targaryen would-be-King.  And more that he’d picked up from picking the brains of Mormont and Samwell Tarly and the common men who made up the Night’s Watch.  He’d learned from being silent and hearing what the men didn’t say when Jon was around, and from playing invisible when Jon had his audiences with Mormont and Maester Aemon.

He may not be the best Legilimense ever born but he didn’t need to be in a world with a serious lack of true magic.

In fact, the only two people he’d met thus far who’d had any sort of defenses against his casual mind-sweeps were Jon and Aemon – defenses Harry attributed to either their highborn training to control themselves or their strange blood.

There was magic in their blood.

Magic that Jon had used to free Harry, though he hadn’t known that for certain at the time.

He knew it now.

Jon’s blood was even stronger than Maester Aemon’s from what he could tell without directly testing it.

A dangerous thing as from what the good Maester knew, one of the few remaining forms of magic left in this world relied on the darkest of blood rites.

His new friend’s blood would be a powerful tool to someone like the warlocks of Qarth or the Red priests.  A situation that Harry had decided he would try and prevent at all costs.  There was nothing more dangerous than someone who’d had a taste of power coming into contact with a tool that could advance them ten-fold.

“We’ll make Winterfell on the morrow.”  Jon said over the remains of their campfire after they’d enjoyed a brace of rabbits, giving the entrails and bones to Ghost before cleaning up.  Harry had just returned from a trip to the bushes and gathered more fuel for the fire from the many trees surrounding them.

He didn’t know if he’d ever get used to the massive forests Jon had led him through – or the perpetual snow and winter.

At least his underclothes beneath his armor were all charmed for warmth and to deal with sweat and smell.  He didn’t even want to know what he would smell like otherwise.

Probably like something had died in his tunic.

“That’s good.”  Harry said, tossing a few more hunks of wood on the fire.  “We’ll rest a day there before heading South towards the Twins, yeah?”

Jon gave a nod in agreement, fiddling with Longclaw as it laid beside him.

“You have two cousins there still, don’t you?”  Harry asked, trying to draw his companion from his shell and find out what was bothering him.  “Bran and Rickon?  And their mother?”

The uncrowned King gave a laugh at that confiding:

“Robb had to keep her there under guard.”  Jon continued chuckling.  “After that shit she pulled with Tyrion Lannister he wasn’t about to have her with him causing trouble with his bannermen – and good for him.”

“Kidnapped him right?”  Harry kicked back on his furs, running one hand down Ghost’s spine when the direwolf came over for a rub and cuddle before returning to his master’s side.  “Kicked off this whole mess with the Lannisters and Starks and Tullys?”

“Hmm.”  Jon nodded pillowing his head on his arms, the warmth of the fire working on his exhausted bones.

It would be another hard ride south after their day’s respite in the warmed halls of Winterfell.

And sleep was calling for them, Harry’s wards up and enough to warn them of danger without needed to keep a guard beyond Ghost’s excellent ears and nose.

“Should be interesting.”  Harry commented as he closed his eyes and tugged his furs up over his shoulders.  “Meeting the woman who started a war.”

“That’s one way to look at it.”  Jon said drily, cracking an eye open to glare at the other man.  “Now get some sleep if you want to meet her on the morrow.”

“Yes,” Harry said with mocking gravitas.  “My King.”

“Asshole.”

“Twat.”

“Your Grace.”

With that singular phrase the captain of Winterfell’s guards stepped forward with a bow to Jon, opening the great door to the hall in a smooth motion perfected over years of practice.  At once, Jon knew that in the North at least, his claim to the Throne was being held as legitimate.  He’d expected – hoped – as much after being raised there, half-Stark, and having his Targaryen loyalists scattered around the kingdom but here, in Winterfell, where he’d always felt the lash and sting of Lady Catelyn’s disapproval, an attitude that had trickled down through all the layers of the castlefolk as such things do, being greeted as King wasn’t something he’d really counted on.

Though once he stepped into the great hall and noted a most notable absence, he started to get a clear view of just why the folk of Winterfell were being gracious over who they’d long thought was Ned’s bastard boy rising to the Iron Throne.

Lady Catelyn was nowhere to be found.

“Jon!”  A pair of young voices called out, the older of the two following up with a sheepish: “Your Grace” after a cough from elderly Maester Luwin.

“Your Grace.”  The Maester and Bran’s attendant Osha and the others gathered all murmured, dipping curtsies or making their bows.

“Thank you,” he said after a nudge to the ribs from Harry.  He wasn’t used to the formalities yet, so sue him.  He would grow accustomed…in time…or so his uncles Ned and Aemon had always sworn.  “Please rise.”

“On behalf of your House and family.”  Maester Luwin rose and began, Catelyn’s absence all the more obvious for his preparation.

Either she wasn’t willing to bow to the boy she’d spent all her life resenting and had secluded herself in her chambers or she was under house arrest on orders of Robb, the only person, other than Jon himself, capable of making such an order within the walls of Winterfell regarding its Lady and having them obeyed.

He supposed he would discover which it was in due time, gods knew Robb was furious over her running off and starting a war which cost his father his head.

Robb may be a Tully in looks but he was certainly a Stark by blood, and like the rest of them he could carry on in cold and righteous anger for years without giving way.

“We welcome Your Grace to Winterfell.”

“Thank you for your gracious welcome, Maester Luwin.”  Jon said with a genial nod, motioning for everyone to sit and return to the evening meal which their arrival had interrupted, quickly climbing to the two spots showing signs of being quickly made up for himself and Harry.  When he reached Rickon he stopped and tousled his youngest cousin’s hair, giving him a clap on the shoulder before leaning down and doing the same to Bran.  “Good to see you both well.”  Jon said, truly happy to see Bran back up – if not hopping around due to his injury.

Motioning Harry forward he introduced him to them before they took their seats.

“Bran, Rickon, this is Lord Harry Potter-Black, last of the Peverells and a friend.  Harry these are my younger cousins: Bran, presumptive heir to Riverrun and Winterfell and Rickon who is currently Robb’s secondary heir presumptive of Winterfell.”

“Pleased to meet you both.”  Harry gave them a manly hand-clasp, much to the young Rickon’s delight, before taking his seat between Jon and the Maester on Jon’s right, the uncrowned-king’s cousins seated to his left as the table had shifted seats to make room for Jon at the head and center of the table.

“I apologize, Lord Potter-Black.”  Maester Luwin said with a frown on his face as the two weary travelers dug into their meals with noble grace barely concealing their pleasure at a hot meal they’d not had to hunt, clean, skin, and cook.  “But I do not recognize your family Names, nor have I ever heard of the Peverells.”

“Blast.”  Jon cursed under his breath.  “We’re going to have to do something about that Harry.  As things stand you’re a Lord without lands or vassals or anything.”

“A worry for another day, Jon.”  Harry waved him off before turning towards the Maester, well aware of all the ears who were listening closely.  No doubt some if not most of them were in the pockets of another who would be most interested in the origins of King Jon, the first of his name’s Lordly friend who appeared out of thin air.  “I would have been surprised if you had known my names, Maester.”  Harry explained simply.  “I’m afraid myself and my origins have been a closely-held secret of the Starks going back beyond the days of the Kings of Winter.  I hail from the Far North and the Land of Perpetual Winter.  And as the King has already said: I am the last of my kind, come to support Jon as he takes the Iron Throne of Westeros.”

“Speaking of which.”  Jon turned towards Bran.  “We will only be here this night, we must needs meet Robb and the Northern Army.”

“I wish you could stay.”  Bran sighed, looking down at his useless legs.  “But I understand.”

“Everyone goes away.”  Rickon said with all the solemnity a young child was capable of.  “But only Mama came back.  And you.  Now you’re leaving again.”

“But I,” Jon said with fanfare, delighting his youngest cousin.  “Like your mother will come back.  As will your brothers and sisters if I have anything to say about it.  I promise, Rickon.  I’ll send them back to you.”

“That’s okay then.”  Rickon decided after a moment’s debate, making his audience chuckle.

Jon lowered his voice so that only Harry and Bran flanking him could hear.

“Where’s Lady Stark?”

Bran winced sucking in a breath and answered in a bare – and embarrassed – whisper.

“She tried to disobey Robb and run off to join the Army making its way to Riverrun, said she needed to support her father and brother.  Robb about blew his top.  He assigned his best men to her guard and secured her to her quarters.”  Bran looked up and then away when he caught sight of his cousin’s shock.  “She’s not allowed visitors except for me and Rickon and the Maester to go over accounts.  Not even a Septon or Septa.  Even the maids can’t enter.  Just us and the guards.”

Jon blew out a low whistle.  Robb was furious then.  He never thought he’d see the day where Catelyn Tully’s pride-and-joy would buck her this way but then…that’s Robb.  He tucks it all in and away but when that red-headed temper of his goes it goes.  One of the only times he ever saw his Nuncle Ned truly wroth with his heir was when he lost his temper during a spar with Jon and broke his arm in his rage.

“I’ll go speak to her after the meal.”  Jon decided.  “Has she been allowed ravens at all?”

“No, your Grace.”  Maester Luwin answered with a wince of his own.  “Lady Stark is truly under house arrest until your Lord cousin sees fit to lift it, though she manages to stay informed nonetheless.”

“Very well.”  Jon sighed.  This visit was going to be nothing less than delightful.  He caught sight of the merriment in Harry’s eyes, biting out a “Shut it you.”  After listening to Jon talk about his wonderful relationship with his uncle’s wife, Harry would be entertained by him having to beard her like a lioness in her den.

The prat.

“So.”

The voice could have frozen the surface of the sun it was so glacial.

“You have returned – and a King now no less.”  Catelyn Stark looked up from her embroidery, blue eyes like the first frost.  “But I do not see a crown…your grace.”

“I have returned, milady.”  Jon said calmly, with the flat Stark stoicism that he knew bothered her so.  “And no, I am not yet crowned.  I thought my cousin might like the honor.”

Catelyn scoffed.

Ignoring her – and knowing that nothing he could say would ever endear him to her, the Lady Catelyn hating him with a passion unchanging due to his Targaryen blood and the whispers his presence in his uncle’s house had caused – Jon carried on with the purpose behind his visit.

“I have news.”  He said, giving her a simple report before going to join Harry in the baths.  “Sansa remains a prisoner in King’s Landing.  However, my sources have found that the Lannisters do not have Arya.  Indeed, that they never had.  She escaped with the help of her Braavosi dancing master who died to give her time to run.  Last word was that she’d started making her way North, hidden within a caravan.”

Catelyn gasped as hope filled her anew, rising to her feet and her embroidery frame falling from limp fingers as she strode to stand before him, searching those violet eyes identical to his father that she hated so.

“You speak truly.”  Her voice broke as she stared, searching for any sense of cruel entertainment at her raised spirits.  For any sign that he planned to dash them back down.  “Arya is safe?”

Safe might be overreaching.”  Jon observed drily.  “Back she’s away from the Crownlands and – currently at least – free from the Lannisters.  At this point…it really is the best we could have hoped for.”

“Yes.”  Catelyn sucked in a breath stiffening her spine before striding back to her seat and picking up her sewing once more.  “Yes, I suppose it is.”

“With your leave, milady.”  Jon gave a perfunctory nod and spun for the solar door.

“Your Grace.”  Catelyn called after him, causing him to pause at the door.  “Thank you.”

A last nod was all the acknowledgement he gave her.

Fitting, as a nod at most was all the acknowledgement she ever gave him once she’d turned bitter against him by his third nameday.

While Jon was bearding a would-be lioness in her den, Harry was dealing with a female of another sort – more of a guard-dragoness than a lioness for his part – Osha, the wildling woman who looked after Bran and Rickon.

“I’m one of the free-folk, I am.”  Osha declared proudly, arms folded across her ample chest as she studied the Lord before her with a gimlet eye.  “From beyond the wall.  And I ain’t never heard of no Lord Potter or Lord Black or Peverells from up there, have I?  So’s I’m not about to be leavin’ you with one-a my charges, am I?”  She snorted in derision and leaned back against the closed door leading to the little Bran’s room.  “No matter what you or your King say.”

“You’re right.”  Harry said with a quirk of his lips.  “You’re from where I came from but you’ve never heard of me or mine.  That’s with reason, Osha.  And I understand that you don’t trust me: I wouldn’t trust me either under those conditions.  But I do need to speak to the Stark boy and I can’t very well do it from out here now can I?”

Osha opened her mouth, likely to let loose another round of scathing denials, only to be stymied by a raised voice from inside the room she was guarding.

“It’s alright, Osha.”  Bran called, having heard every word.  The two of them hadn’t exactly been quiet.  “Let him in.  Hodor will stay with me.”

“Hodor.”  The manservant repeated with his vacant smile from his pallet beside Bran’s bed.  “Hodor.”

“As he says.”  Osha stepped aside with a heavy scowl and sneering lips.  “But I’ll wait right out here, I will.”

“As you will,” Harry gave a genial nod to the mother bear guarding her cubs.  “Thank you, Osha.”  He said pausing with one hand on the door latch.  “For taking care of them with what has happened.”

Osha’s face softened into something not quite a smile.

“Saved me life, that boy did.”  She brushed his kneeler’s thanks off with a jerk of her shoulder as she settled into the chair between two little lords’ rooms.  “Just repayin’ a debt that’s owed is all.”

“Either way.”  Harry smiled.  “I’ll thank you just the same, as I know the other ‘kneelers’ never will.”

“Do as ya will.”  Was his answer.  “Kneelers always do.”

Without another word exchanged between the two – a shame he was pressed for time, Harry found Osha quite entertaining and much like a metamorphmagus he once knew – Harry lifted the latch and entered young Bran’s room.

The signs were clear as his gaze swept over the room’s contents.  This was the quarters of a once very active child who was now infirm.  There were plans for a special saddle up on one wall that would allow for the boy to ride again.  His bow was unstrung in one corner, the string and his quiver resting in a pile beside it along with his bracer.  A boy’s treasure from his adventures were displayed on his dressing table: a shining stone, an iridescent raven’s feather, an old iron arrowhead.  And of course: his direwolf Summer and personal manservant/aide Hodor who made up in brute strength what he lacked in intelligence.

“What did you need, Lord Harry?”  Bran asked politely from his reclining position against the head of his bed.

His cousin had certainly returned with a strange companion this time from his travels, Bran couldn’t help but think.

“You fell, or so your cousin told me.”  Harry cut to the chase.  “And nearly died, surviving but then unable to walk again – is that correct?”

“Yes.”  Bran bit out at the reminder of his accident – and the permanent scar it has left behind.

“I see.”  Harry nodded once.  Spinal damage most likely.  Not much else could’ve caused that.  In the lower vertebras as only his legs were effected.  “Do you have any feeling or sensation at all?”

Bran was startled at this new question.  Most, including his parents and the Maester, had only been concerned with whether he could move his legs.  Not if he could still feel them at all.

“Some.”  He answered honestly.  “It comes and goes sometimes.  I feel my hips and upper legs the most – my toes almost not at all.”

“Damaged then.”  Harry murmured to himself.  “Not severed completely.”

Harry paced over, crouching down to be on eye-level with the young boy.  This was the heir of Winterfell or even Riverrun if anything happened to Jon’s eldest cousin or the lad’s grandfather and uncle.  Having him so hindered by his fall wouldn’t do if there was even the smallest of measures Harry could enact to help him.

“What I’m about to do.”  Harry spoke softly, too low for even the manservant to hear let alone the canny-eared Osha with her ears pressed against the wood of the door.  “Must never be spoken of Bran: it never happened.  Let them think you recovered slowly, gradually healing on your own.  Do you think you can do that?”

“You can heal me?”  Bran breathed, eyes wide as saucers.  “Yes, anything, yes!”

“It might not be a complete cure.”  Harry warned, removing the Elder Wand from his gauntlet.  “All I might be able to do is restore some small sensation or the ability to curl your toes.  There is no telling until I begin.  But I need your word, Brandon Stark.”  Harry’s voice and eyes pinned the young boy with his intensity.  “Not.  A.  Word.”

“You have it.”  Bran swore.

“On your life?”

“On my life.”

“On your family and blood?”

“Yes, yes!”

Harry nodded.  “Very well then.  Repeat after me:  I Brandon Stark, second son of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully”

“I Brandon Stark, second son of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully.”  Bran parroted obediently.

“Do swear on my blood and family and life.”

“Do swear on my blood and family and life.”

“To hold secret onto myself the healing done by Harry James, Lord Potter-Black, Last of the Peverell Line.”

“To hold secret onto myself the healing done by Harry James, Lord Potter-Black, Last of the Peverell Line.”

“Telling none, not even the gods of his work.”

“Telling none, not even the gods of his work.”

“From this day, until my last day.”

“From this day, until my last day.”

“In the name of the Stranger and the old gods, So Mote It Be.”

“In the name of the Stranger and the old gods, So Mote It Be.”

As the last word was spoken by the young boy, a flash lit between them, sealing Bran’s vow.

“What was that?”  Bran twitched restlessly.

“That was the gods sealing your vow, Brandon Stark.”  Harry’s mouth twitched with the need to smile at the child.  “Let this be a lesson to you: sometimes your words have more power than you know – if they’re the right words.”

With no more ado, Harry flicked his wand, quickly casting a diagnostic and his intelligent eyes picking out the remaining damage that time and the Maester’s work hadn’t yet healed.  And likely never would have.

“I was right.”  Harry murmured to himself.  “Nerve damage, some mishealed bone shards.”  He grimaced thinking of the wounds he saw both during and after the Wizarding War.  Unfortunately, the boy’s wounds weren’t nearly as serious as that caused by the Cruciatus or some of the other worst of the Dark curses.  He’d seen all too much of curse damage.  Harry couldn’t help but be glad that he was unlikely to run into much of it in his new reality.

Taking a deep breath, he set to work, first giving Bran a foul-tasting potion to numb him from the waist down, allowing Harry to work unhindered by the boy flinching or moving involuntarily.  With poorly set bone fragments all that there was to be done was rebreak the bone, splint it with his magic, and feed the child Skelegrow.

Merlin bless perseveration charms that are fueled by the land’s magic.

He didn’t even want to think about what he was going to do once his potion stores were exhausted.  Guaranteed that ninety-nine percent of the ingredients he’d need to replenish them weren’t available in this new world.

On the bright side though…it was a rather massive stock Teddy and the goblins had laid in for him.

Bran moaned and bitched all the way through his beaker of Skelegrow, not that it mattered with Harry standing there tapping his foot and waiting for the boy to get on with it and “stop being such a ruddy baby, it’s only a potion for the Stranger’s sake!”

And with his spine numbed it wasn’t like Bran was dealing with the pins-and-needles-from-hell that came with having bones regrown or reset.

Harry wished Pomfrey had known how to do that.  It would’ve made his frequent stays in the hospital wing a lot better.

He recast his diagnostic, checking for any additional damage from having the shards removed or rebroken and then the vertebras regrown.  His Potter Luck must be holding out because there was only some small extra bruising from the first procedure.  Nothing that would hinder his spells to heal the bruising and smooth the nerves, allowing them to reattach and realign.

It wouldn’t be an immediate fix, nor an easy one.

Bran would have to do a lot of work to regain his strength and reteach his brain and legs to work together.  The boy would likely never be a master swordsman or a knight of the Kingsguard as Jon had told Harry was Bran’s one-time dream.

But he would walk.

And ride.

And most of all, fight.

That was good enough for Harry.

Rolling up his sleeves, the wizard cracked his neck and rolled his shoulders.

Now the difficult part was at hand.

It was an exhausted Harry that strode into the Lord’s bath in the depths of Winterfell, steam rising all around him as the baths, fed by the hot springs, were in full use, Jon having beaten him there by some time judging from his position seated half-submerged in the bubbling water, back to the bath wall and dark head resting back on a pillow with his eyes closed.

“You’re late.”  Jon said as Harry began stripping off his armor and underclothes, gently setting his sword and sheathed wand near the edge of the bath across from his new King.

It was an odd sensation – having a King.

Yes, he was British in his old life and “God save the Queen” and all that.  But the United Kingdoms of his old world – his former reality – was a constitutional monarchy, a far cry from the absolute monarchy practiced in Westeros.

Here a King had so much more power than any constitutional monarch could claim.  A King was a warrior and general who took the field alongside his troops – if he were any kind of King at all – and a diplomat and a lawmaker and, and, and.

Jon had already proven to Harry – knowingly or not – just how different being a King in Westeros was than anything Harry had ever seen before.

Ravens upon ravens, sending out his Claim and his orders to various men and Lords who’d known of him in advance of the death of Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark.  Seeking information from the Targaryen loyalists hidden all over or even those who were sickened by Robert’s rule and the grasping of his Lannister good-family.  Displaced men who’d been ignored or replaced in favor of the pride of the foolish Whoremonger King and his blonde-haired horde.

“I went to see Bran.”  Harry admitted with a sigh as he sank into the heated water.

Now this was more like it.  His experience of bathing so far in Westeros had left much to be desired.  The hot springs of Winterfell were the first time in the last three to four weeks since his waking that he’d felt clean.

Another new experience for Harry – keeping time in a land that revolved around Summers that lasted ten years and Winters could last as long or longer.

A strange new world was Westeros.

And strangely enough, Harry was quickly finding he liked it.

He felt more…real.  More alive, than he had since he was fighting against Tom.

Hermione, damn her, was right after all.  Harry just didn’t do well without a battle to fight, in one way or another.  He’d been trained all-too-well to be a warrior and mage and man of action.  Maybe he did have a saving-people-thing.

But at least in his new life it would be something to admire rather than scorn.

Jon lifted his head up, facing his new friend, violet eyes wide with hope.

“And?”  It was just shy of being a kingly demand, much to Harry’s visible amusement.

“It’ll take work.”  Harry said then filled his King in on the amount of potions he had left with the wildling woman and Bran, as well as the spells he’d cast, ending with: “If he follows my instructions he’ll be able to walk, run, climb, even wield a sword or a bow.  He won’t be a legendary warrior by any stretch, but with his brain and some work he’ll be a fine Lord of Riverrun.”

Jon quirked a brow, gaining him a scoffing laugh and a roll of Harry’s eyes.

“I wasn’t struck deaf or blind when we were visiting your ‘Uncle Maester’.”  Harry drawled, scrubbing at his hair with some spicy-scented potion from his satchel, then dipping under the water to rinse and continued.  “I saw and heard how things are.  The Lord of Riverrun is dying and his Heir is the captive of Jaime Lannister.”  He tsked.  “Besides which from what I understand, the Tullys were the cause of much grief to your father, the actions of Catelyn and Lysa started a damn war, and Lady Catelyn has never been kind to you.  Why would you reward such behavior by keeping Riverrun in the direct line?”  He snorted.  “You’ll make Bran, who is the secondary Heir to Hoster Tully, Lord or I’ll eat my sword.”

Jon hummed under his breath, following Harry’s example and taking a handful of the offered bottle.  It was a different one than Harry had used, smelled more like ice and winter and the sea than the spice and musk Harry preferred.  The new King found himself liking it very much, especially how clean he felt afterwards, cleaner than even the nice ladies’ milled soap he’d grown up using as Ned’s nephew.

And much better than the simple tallow-and-lye concoction they used at the Wall – if any at all.

“I think Thanatos is safe enough.”  He said, using the name Harry had given his sword when he’d learned of the tradition.  Jon frowned.  “I wish I knew what became of Ice.  That bastard Joffery refused to return my Uncle’s bones or armor or the Stark Greatsword.  Vile, grasping creature.”

“Ice?”  Harry perked up, peering over at his companion.  “Is it the only sword named that in these lands?”

“Of course.”  Jon shrugged.  “No man would name his sword after another, especially after one of the ancestral swords of the great houses.  Too afraid a Lord would be offended and might make them pay in blood.  Several of the great Valryian steel swords have been lost, like the Targaryen swords Blackfyre and Dark Sister or the Lannister sword Brightroar.  But still, none would try and take the names for their own steel.”

“You don’t say.”  Harry murmured to himself, an idea tickling at the back of his mind.  “That’s…interesting.”  Closing his eyes, he rested back against the wall, his ablutions complete but enjoying the heat of the water and the fragrant steam, not to mention Jon’s company, too much to move and dress.

Lifting his head with a sigh, knowing he would need a good night’s sleep if he was to be of any use on the start of the ride south in the morning, Harry opened his eyes only to let out a little gasp in surprise.  Jon had moved silently through the bubbling water and steam and come to stand before him, hands on the bath ledge and arms bracketing Harry’s smaller, lithe figure with Jon’s broad swordsman’s frame and long arms.  The new-King’s eyes, a normally lovely and startling combination of his father’s violet and his bearer’s light silvery-grey, looked more like a star-flecked sky the purple was so dark.  His ebony hair spilled down his neck and onto his strong shoulders and well-muscled chest in damp waves, his ivory skin clear of stubble and beaded with the remains of water droplets and a sheen from Harry’s potions.

He was beautiful.

And if Harry’s eyes and senses hadn’t been dulled by years locked away and his overuse of magics to heal Bran…aroused.

Hands in Harry’s golden-cream darted up and pressed against pectorals flexing with the need to move, to get closer, leaving the wizard feeling as if he was trying to hold a dragon at bay with a feather.

Peering up through water-clumped lashes, emerald met starry-night in a dichotomous combination of playful and bashfulness.

Jon gave a growl at the look and leaned closer pressing himself firmly against hands that he would give anything to have move lower or even just twine around his neck, anything that was a sign that he hadn’t been misreading the occasional poorly-concealed looks from those jeweled eyes and the heated blushes when caught.

“Did you…need something, your Grace?”  Harry asked breathily, then cursed himself.  That most definitely wasn’t what he’d meant to say.

“Tell me.”  The demand was raspy with desire, as Jon leaned down and nipped lightly at the delicate curve of a golden-cream shoulder, Harry’s bracing hands no more a deterrent than a piece of gauze might be.  “Tell me I haven’t been imagining it.”  Jon pressed a heated kiss to Harry’s quivering jaw, as the wizard’s pearly teeth worried at one plump ruby lip.  “Tell me it’s not just me that feels it.”

“It’s not just you.”  Harry whispered, meeting Jon’s burning eyes once more as he lifted his hands and twined them gently in Jon’s ebony hair, running the silky-wet strands through his fingers.  “But…you’re a king, or you will be.  And I’m…”

“Whoever I say you are.”  Jon interrupted, knowing this was coming back around to Harry being Lord-of-Nothing with his world dead and gone, despite his name and titles.  “If I say you’re a Lord, you are.”  Jon breathed as he moved forward that single step that had separated them, nestling himself between Harry’s sprawled legs, bringing his throbbing cock into the cradle of Harry’s silky legs.  “If I say you’re a worthy match for any man – or gods forfend woman – you are.”

Harry swallowed harshly, biting his lip before speaking so softly Jon had to bend his head to hear his words.

“Even…a match for a King?”

Jon laughed, delighted at the return of the irrepressible spirit he’d come to adore about the smaller warrior.

“Especially for a King.”  Jon gave a blinding smile at Harry’s transparent pleasure in his words.

Leaning down, Jon lifted one sword-callused hand and gently turned Harry’s face up to meet his, finally taking those ruby-tinged lips for his own.  It was gentle – at first.  Jon couldn’t believe how soft and pillowy Harry’d managed to keep his lips despite the burning wind and hard riding they’d done almost without pause for more than a moon’s turn.  Soft, and gentle, nearly sweet between two strong and hot-blooded men.

Then it changed.

Harry gave a low growl, one that Jon could feel in his own chest as if the predatory sound had been his own.  Hands that had been careful firmed in ebony hair, tugging his head and pressing them closer together, as if Harry wanted to climb inside his newfound lover.  Harry could feel the rapid beating of Jon’s heart, Jon tasting the spiced apple custard and sweet mead Harry had had for afters while Jon declined in favor of a strong whiskey.

One of them gave a soft moan, or was it both, as Harry’s tongue did battle with Jon’s for dominance, Jon drawing Harry into his own mouth and then trapping his tongue gently with his teeth before freeing it and allowing the wizard to taste him.  Jon’s hands were busy while Harry’s played with his hair, one skimming along the wizard’s firm jaw before caressing the length of an arm and tangling their fingers together in the end.  The other found Harry’s knee beneath the bubbly surface of the water, lifting his leg to wrap around Jon’s lean hips, letting his arousal slot firmly against Harry’s own erect weapon.  Harry’s lungs screamed for air, the wizard dragging his lips away from his lover’s with a gasp, throwing his head back in a moan as Jon immediately attacked his lithe neck with nips and suckling kisses destined to leave a mark, their hips rubbing and grinding against each other in a dance as old as time, racing to completion.

“Say it!”  Jon demanded, biting roughly at the curve where neck met shoulder.  “Say you’re mine!  Vow it!”

Harry’s whine was nearly feral, the warrior-wizard almost insensate as he bucked his hips up, seeking more and harder and more, his words matching his desire-drenched thoughts.

“Say it!”  This time the demand was punctuated by a rough pull of Harry’s long hair, Jon’s seeking mouth latching onto where a throbbing vein pressed against the tender underside of an aristocratic jaw.

“Yours!”  Harry capitulated.  “I vow I’m yours!”

“Mine.”  Jon growled, finally pressing harder with his hips, trapping Harry’s cock against his own and wrapping one long-fingered hand around them both, jerking them quickly to a hot and furious climax as his mouth reconquered Harry’s own.

The two lovers gasped and growled their completion in near-unison, hot fluid spilling between them and being carried away by the waters of the hot springs as Jon collapsed against his lover’s smaller body, Harry holding him up more on instinct than actual thought.

“Mine.”  Jon repeated in a rough whisper as he regained his senses, turning his head on Harry’s shoulder to look over at the emerald-eyed man.

“Yours,” Harry agreed with a roll of those jewel-toned eyes.  “You possessive prat.”

“King.”  Jon reminded him, with smug self-satisfaction ripe in his voice and an arched brow as he levered himself back onto his feet and out of the baths, lowering a hand to help lift Harry out to join him as they swiftly toweled off, Harry drying and tying back their hair with a few swishes of his wand.

“Yeah, King.”  Harry said with a sigh, belting his sword back in place over clean underclothes and bundling his armor into his satchel.  He wouldn’t need that until the morning and he wasn’t keen to put it on before then, cleaning and freshening charms or no.  “How is this,” he waved a hand between them.  “Going to work with that anyway?  It’s not like you can marry me or anything.”

Not that Harry was even sure that was what he wanted from the violet-eyed King.  Yes, he’d gotten to know Jon, and admired him for his honorable-but-pragmatic nature and desire to do what was best for his rightful kingdom.  He knew, now, that Jon wanted to rule not out of some sense of entitlement but rather because he’d seen for himself how Westeros had fared under the joint rule of Baratheon and Lannister – and he wanted better for his people than the deprivations they’d been plagued with under the Stags and Lions.

But he wasn’t in love with the Stark-Targaryen Scion.

Not yet at least.

And he refused to marry for less than that.

For less than what his parents had had: a love to make even death itself take notice and halt.

A love that saved their only son.

And he knew Jon wanted the same.

Not a political marriage like that of his father and step-mother but a love-match like his father and bearer.

A love to defy lords and Kings to have and hold.

In that, at least, they were well-matched.

“Not true.”  Jon said nonchalantly as he finished lacing his trousers.  “We both know men are capable of bearing children – if they’re from families who have that trait.  I’m a product of such a match after all.  And if Targaryens are known for anything it’s marrying where and who we please – even if sometimes we choose less-than-wisely.”

Harry nodded knowingly, thinking of the “coin-flip” offspring Targaryen matches were known to produce.

You could get a Rhaegar or Aegon the Conqueror but you were just as likely to get a Mad King Aerys or a Maegor the Cruel.

“Lovers.”  Harry said decisively, ignoring the half-wounded look Jon gave him at his pronouncement.  “For now.”  The wizard shook his head and leaned up on his toes giving him a swift kiss before the King could break into a very un-kingly pout.  “I want to wed for love, as I know you do.  Tell me true: do you love me already?”

“I think I loved you the moment you pinned me to the floor with those jewel eyes of yours.”  Jon said head cocked to one side teasingly, a half-smile flirting with his lips.

“Be serious, Jon.”  Harry chided with a sigh.

“I am serious.”  Jon laughed.  “Just ask my cousins, they always accuse me of being too dour, too much a Stark.”

“Jon.”  Harry drawled, arching a brow as they entered Jon’s rooms in Winterfell.

They were lush for a member of the household that many had thought a bastard son.  Nearly the equal of the Lord’s chambers, a sure sign of Eddard’s regard for his brother’s son.  Ned wasn’t the kind of man to treat people based on what might be but what was and had been.  And from what Jon had been told by his bearer, Ned had respected Rhaegar as a price and a warrior, if not been enraged by the actions of Rhaegar’s father Aerys and the deaths of Rickard and Brandon Stark.

Ned never knew if Jon would seek the Iron Throne or not…but he had certainly prepared for the eventually that he had the right to do so as the true heir to the Throne.

Just as that good man had counseled patience, the sight of Robert stepping over the bodies of babes to mount that cursed chair never far from his mind when he saw his beloved nephew and feared for his death at Ned’s foster-brother’s hands.

“Not yet,” Jon admitted, running one hand down Harry’s hair.  “But I could, easily.”

Harry flashed a bashfully-pleased smile at that.  After all, Jon was one of the handsomest men he’d ever even, along with the most powerful.  To have his high regard was no small matter.  Moreover, it was something Harry had earned in his own right, not due to an empty defeat of a Dark Lord or expectations of what Harry might be able to accomplish.

Just him.

Just Harry.

“Lovers.”  Harry repeated, crawling into the bedfurs beside his reclining king, placing Thanatos on the floor beside him, Jon echoing his movement with Longclaw.

“Lovers,” Jon agreed, then blew the candle out.

The next morning, after another round of frotting due to neither of them truly being ready for more, nor wanting to be sore on the ride despite their hot blood for each other, Harry and Jon broke their fast and were bidding Jon’s youngest two cousins goodbye in the courtyard when the gates of Winterfell opened, allowing a handful of mounted knights to come thundering into the yard.

What was more, one held a banner high: a sable field with a three-headed dragon in blood red.

Jon whooped in joy as the knights reined their horses and dismounted, Harry taking them in as Bran and Rickon burst into excited chatter.

“White cloaks!”  Rickon’s eyes were wide with awe.

“The Kingsguard,” Bran breathed in bittersweet pleasure.  Harry had been quite clear: Bran’s legs would heal, enough so he could fight and train with his men when he became a Lord.  But being a member of his cousin’s Kingsguard was a dream now out-of-reach.

“You’ve made good time.”  Jon called out as the four white-cloaked knights strode forward and took a knee before him, their companion wearing the sea-green and silver seahorse of House Velaryon of Driftmark doing the same just behind them.  “Rise, loyal men of the Kingsguard, who have you brought with you, Arthur?”

Ser Arthur Dayne, Lord Commander of Jon’s Kingsguard and his father’s most loyal friend, rose to his feet and studied the lad-now-king grown that he’d trained and watched over ever since Eddard Stark invited him and his fellows to keep to their vows and protect his nephew.  Arthur might not have agreed, save that Ned Stark had borne with him a missive from Rhaegar’s consort Benjen, asking him, pleading with them to let their names die to appease Robert’s bloodlust and in turn protect Jon.  It was a hard thing that Benjen had asked of them, but they’d done it nonetheless.

If nothing else, it was easier by far to watch over and train and grow to love the boy with dark hair and Rhaegar’s eyes than to watch as that same boy’s grandfather was burned alive, along with scores of others.

A far kinder order than many the Kingsguard had obeyed under the Mad King.

The Old Bull had chosen to go into exile with Viserys and Daenerys, only to die of a fever in Braavos, leaving the ‘Beggar Prince’ and his sister without protection.

That was the one time Arthur and his friends and brothers-in-arms had felt true regret over their choice.  But they couldn’t divide their force once more and send another to watch over the exiled Targaryens.  No.  It would’ve opened up too much speculation over what had truly happened at the Tower of Joy – and what other secrets Ned Stark might be hiding.

Better by far to stay dead and keep Rhaegar’s boy, the true king, safe.

Now they were proud to once more unearth their white cloaks and take up their duty in honesty and honor, guarding the first king in memory worthy of the office.

Were Arthur a less-contained man he might have shed a tear to see Jon so tall and strong, ready to ride out at the head of an army and take back what was his all these long years.

“Your Grace.”  Arthur smiled.  “You know my brothers and the rest of your current Kingsguard: Prince Lewen Martell, Ser Oswell Whent, and your own appointment, Ser Mark Ryswell.  We bring with us, Aurane Waters, eldest blood-son of House Velaryon, he has news from his father Lord Monford Velaryon, Admiral of the Targaryen Fleet.”

“Very well,” Jon nodded.  “Rise, Aurane Waters.”  Jon commanded taking in the silver hair and indigo eyes that marked him as being of Valyrian blood.  His father claimed him or else he wouldn’t be there and wearing the Velaryon sigil but he hadn’t been legitimized, likely out of sheer bloody-mindedness on the part of late Robert Baratheon.

Robert had to watch himself with the Lords of the Crownlands such as Monford who was the Lord of the Driftmark.  Squashing a weak rebellion such as that of “Balon’s Folly” was one thing, having strong supporters of the Targaryens pissed at you and on your doorstep was another thing entirely.  But never had he done anything to benefit the Lords of the Crownlands either, a mistake that was now coming home to roost as they moved to support a Targaryen once more, as they always had in ages past.

The men of the Crownlands, save for those Robert had displaced or who had died out during his Rebellion, were to a man the blood of old Valyria, men and families who had followed Aegon the Conqueror in the days before the Doom.  And they were loyal to the Targaryens in ways Robert and others like Tywin Lannister could never understand, neither being men who inspired that kind of feeling in their fellow man.  Fear, disgust, yes.  Both were good at those.  But loyalty?  Never.

Stannis Baratheon had respect, Renly Baratheon love or laughter for his seeming ‘good-nature’.  Tywin fear, Balon hate, but the Targaryens instilled passionate loyalty while the Starks’ honor commanded it.  Against the Scion of both those Great Houses, the would-be Usurpers had better hope an assassin gets lucky or an archer has a good day, otherwise there was little that could keep Jon from the Iron Throne.

“What news do you have for me from your father?”  Jon asked as Harry came to stand at his side, Rickon ushered inside leaving only Bran and his retainers as well as the Maester and Captain of the Winterfell men-at-arms in the courtyard.

“Your Grace.”  Aurane dipped his head respectfully as he dug into his cloak and removed a sealed missive from a pouch.  “My father bid me bring you this, as well as the greetings of all of those of the blood of Old Valyria.  He bid me tell you that all have acknowledged your Claim and are putting in place the instructions you sent him and the others you trusted.”

“Thank you, young Waters.”  Jon said as he quickly read the missive that lined up neatly with the young man’s words.  “Well.”  He looked over at Harry.  “It seems we’ll have company on the way to meeting Lord Stark.”

Turning he spoke to Bran.

“My Kingsguard were accompanied by just over three thousand men-at-arms.”  Jon looked at his young cousin with solemn eyes.  “By your leave I will leave the majority of them – Targaryen supporters all – for the protection of my kin and of Winterfell.”  He glanced between Bran and the Captain-at-Arms.  “I know Robb took most of the men and banners south.  With the Iron Islands so close, and Balon so unpredictable, I would feel better if you would allow this.”

“Of course, your Grace.”  Bran said with a bow.  “We are honored by your concern and welcome your protection.”

Jon smiled, gesturing to one of the guards as Aurane ran to the gate and called for someone to advance.

Once the knight had ridden in and dismounted, Jon introduced him.

“This is Ser Crispan Celtigar, Heir of House Celtigar and one of Our most loyal men.”  Jon gestured for Crispan to remove his helm.  “Cris, this is Brandon Stark, my cousin and Heir of Riverrun, currently holding Winterfell for Lord Stark.  These are Maester Luwin and the Winterfell Castellan and Master-at-Arms Ser Rodrick Cassell.”

After they had exchanged greetings, Crispan turned to Jon with a half-woebegone look on his handsome Valyrian features.

“I wish you’d let me ride with you, your Grace.”  Crispan smiled, belying his grief.  “It’s panning out to be one hells of a fight ahead.”

“You’ll get your turn for bloody glory, Cris.”  Jon rolled his eyes.  “Just take care of my cousins and good-aunt, will you?  And try to keep the number of maids seduced to a reasonable number.”  Jon japed as he swung onto his mount, bidding Bran and the others a parting nod and goodbye.

“Reasonable?!”  Crispan called to his King’s back.  “When it comes to maids to seduce there’s no such thing as a reasonable number!”

Jon laughed and shot a crude gesture over his shoulder as he and his lover and the Kingsguard clattered out of the yard, meeting up with the score of men that were to ride south with them to meet the rest of the Targaryen banners who had been commanded North under Tywin’s very nose, before joining with the Northern Army.

It was shaping up to be a good fight, indeed.

 

Chapter Text

Tomb of the First Men

Author’s Note:  Lots of love for the last chapter, I love it!  Remember this is the first time I’ve done a GoT/ASoIaF story so I’m in search of feedback over my portrayal of the characters both good and bad.  I know I’m not going to make everyone happy with this, (as shown by the guest reviewer on FF.net who wished I would die) but I still love to hear from you guys.

This part of the story catches up with the other main players in the George R.R. worlds, as well as Harry being powerful-wizard-Harry.  Rampant use of the Cloak of Invisibility, sneaky!Harry, and some dealing with grief and PTSD.

Also there is another easter-egg of dialogue from ASoIaF, kudos to the first who spots it.

Edited December 2016 for minor errors and content.  Unedited word count: 34,370; edited 34,651.

Act II – The Blood of the First Men

They made excellent time that first day, Harry finding himself waking up almost halfway to Cerwyn, the closest holding of the Northern Lords to Winterfell.  For the sake of making that excellent time, they’d only set the most minimal of necessary encampment measures, Jon spurring them on once they’d met up with his Targaryen men who he wasn’t leaving at Winterfell.  Mostly knights and men of the Crownlands where Targaryen loyalties have always been strongest with the glut of Valyrian blood running through those Lords and even the smallfolk.

But there were others as well, men who thanks to Ned’s surreptitious moves to have his nephew in as secure of a position as possible, had sworn themselves to Jon’s cause through Eddard’s maneuvering.

Jon’s uncle had long feared – and with good reason – that House Stark would be branded as traitors by Robert Baratheon and his Lannister good-family.

A fear that had indeed come true…if not for the reason Ned had prepared for.

Ned had assumed that eventually the smoke-screen of Jon being someone’s byblow or Benjen’s true-born son by some random man with the blood of Old Valyria would collapse, Robert discovering or simply assuming that Rhaegar was Jon’s true father.

Though most including Robert would’ve thought him the son of Lyanna Stark, not Benjen, as Ned’s brother had been at the Eyrie recovering from Jon’s birth many turns before while Lyanna kept Jon safe at the Tower of Joy.  Jon’s birth hadn’t been easy, and Benjen was weak for over a year afterwards, being whisked away to the safety of the Eyrie by his uncle – though Jon Arryn had no idea as to the cause of Benjen’s malaise – while baby Jon was entrusted in secret to Lyanna by Rhaegar, the Crown Prince playing a deadly game of misdirection to keep both his Consort and his son alive and well.

No one living save the remaining of the Targaryen Kingsguard knew of Lyanna agreeing to play a mummer’s tale to secure more freedoms for herself while protecting her favorite brother at the same time.  Even Jon only had that information second-hand, the Lady herself dying of a too-convenient fever when Rhaegar had allowed a Maester to visit the Tower of Joy to ascertain her good health.  Poison was the likely cause of her murder, the Lady being too robust and healthy for anything else to make sense.

That that Maester disappeared afterwards only compounded Ned and Benjen’s suspicions – and increasing their paranoia surrounding Jon’s safety.

Putting that from his mind – for the moment – Harry turned and spoke to Jon who was sipping at mead heated over the fire for breaking his fast along with oatcakes and dried apples, the same meal as the rest of the five hundred or so mounted knights sworn to House Targaryen that met Jon outside the gates of Winterfell were enjoying, having left only a handful of Sers and the bulk of the foot soldiers to guard his bearer’s House seat.

“How long will it take this force to rendezvous with the Northern Army and your Cousin?”

Jon studied his lover over the rim of his cup with steady violet eyes, an idea of what that question heralded turning in his mind.

“Between ten days and a fortnight, depending.  What’s brewing in that tricky mind of your’s, Harry?”

The Kingsguard, Jon’s trainers and friends, all perked up from their positions surrounding the pair, providing a sense of privacy among the hundreds of camping men in their furs and crouched around fires in the Wolfswood.  At least the trees – of which there seems no end to the mostly southron force – gave them cover from the worst of the snow and ice drifts and bitter northern wind.

Harry cocked his head – making him entirely too adorable for Jon’s peace of mind – a purely mischievous grin crossing his pretty face as his jeweled eyes lit with the glee of having devilment afoot.

“I’ve listened, and watched, and read over your shoulder.”  Harry prompted the King.  “You woke me for a purpose, Jon.  Now let me set to it.  There are a few things brewing that I might be able to help with, dangers that my very presence might be able to avert.  At least let me try.”

Jon shifted uncomfortably at the reminder – however gentle – Harry put to him with his words.  As much as Jon had grown to enjoy his company, and took pleasure in having him near, he had woken him for a purpose.  And as much as the boy and man and King in him wanted to keep him near, out of enjoyment or desire or possessiveness…Jon wasn’t foolish or conceited enough to think that the sun and moon revolved around him.

Of course there were events taking place as they spoke, or that would or could take place, that Harry couldn’t effect from his side.

Oh, he was sure in his ability to lead an army and take his throne.  He’d been raised for this very purpose after all.  But he was as certain as Winter coming that it would be far less difficult if he would allow Harry to do…whatever it was Harry thought he could do.

Jon wasn’t sure of all the Warrior Who Waits was capable of…but he was damned excited to find out.

“Besides.”  Harry’s grin was pure evil incarnate.  “Imagine how badly Tywin and all the rest are going to be shitting themselves when they hear – or see – a ruddy dragon flying across the length and breadth of Westeros and the Narrow Sea.”

The King and his Kingsguard all whipped to face him so quickly one could almost hear them give themselves whiplash in unison.

Once he’d stopped coughing and choking on his spiced mead, Ser Arthur questioned him after seeing that his liege was simply sitting stone-faced save for his eyelids rapidly blinking in shock.

“I beg pardon, milord.”  The Sword of Morning probed incredulously.  “But did my ears hear you say something about a dragon in Westeros?!”

Harry gave them all a cat-who-caught-the-whole-flock-of-canaries smile and took a deep draught of his mead, putting aside the empty cup and rising to his feet, the others scrambling after him like goslings after a mother goose as he moved towards a wide empty clearing covered in snow.

1 day gone.

Harry winged over the countryside of Westeros, reveling in the sensation of true unfettered freedom for the first time since that damned prophecy was made that ended in his imprisonment.  He let out a draconic hissing growl that passed for a laugh in his current form, scaring the shit – literally – out of a small murder of crows as he flew over them, the creatures cawing and winging away as quickly as they could glide.  That was normal – and honestly the dragonfear that he inspired in his Animagus form Stormwing never got old.

Over the years since gaining his form he’d seen stern tough men and women who stood firm against all comers quail at the sight of him - even those who knew there was a wizard’s mind behind the jewel-green eyes, Harry like his godfather before him keeping his eye color as his distinguishing feature in his other body.

Though, he had to admit, watching the brave and courageous Knights of the Kingsguard shriek in fear like little children and stumble back away from his growing form had to top ninety-nine percent of the dragonfear impulses he’d seen.  Not that he blamed them or thought less of them for it.  No, on the contrary.  He would have been shocked if they hadn’t reacted that way.  They can’t help it, no one can.

Except, apparently, for those descended of the “Blood of the Dragon.”

If anyone in Jon’s host had even the slightest of questions about his parentage it evaporated with the sight of him standing firm and tall and stoic as a Celtic Spearridge that was approximately the size of a three-storied house with a wingspan to blot out the sun and spines along its back and cresting its head and tail up to four-feet-long.  Harry’s maw could – and has on a dare before – swallow a cow whole, its bones no match for the crushing power of his jaw, one of the strongest of all dragons, nor the cutting edge of his teeth and fangs that would shame a fine sword.  He was huge, and impressive, and so fierce that wise men and beasts did tremble in fear and terror.  Those made of sterner stuff ran without messing themselves in the process.

But the Targaryen King stood there, eyed him up and down, and said:

You’re scarier as a man, Harry.  Your man’s form is small and lithe and deceptive, belying the danger you’re capable of.  There’s no surprise or shock from a dragon.  All know on sight that you’re going to burn the local village to the ground.”

It was things like that – shocking, wonderful things – that made it so damn hard for Harry to keep one step back from him.  He was teetering on the edge of tumbling arse over teakettle for the fucking King of Westeros for Death’s sake.  Possibly one of the most foolish and idiotic acts he’s done in his life.

Harry could hear Professor Snape now in the back of his mind:

Idiotic, arrogant dunderhead.  Falling for a King!  The utter cheek!  A million points from Gryffindor!”

The sudden wave of nostalgia-tinged-grief shook him, making his dragon eyes burn from the salted water building behind them and the burning accompanying it low in his throat, threatening to choke him.  Harry’s wings trembled as he fought to stay in his Animagus form.

Dragon’s weren’t built to experience grief, the strange commands coming from Harry’s human mind and soul confusing the draconic body, threatening to force a shift back in mid-air if he couldn’t shove his grief aside – lost, gone, dead, dead, DEAD.  Everything, everyONE destroyed.  Dead, dead, DEAD!  Why did they leave me, everyone leaves me! – block it out, force it down, stiff-upper-lip-Harry.  Ignoring the pain – as he’s done since long before he woke – won’t kill him…at the moment…but reveling in it certainly will if it returns him to his wizard form.

Gritting his teeth and clenching his jaw, treating his grief as any other form of pain he’d learned to ignore or endure in his life, Harry angled downward out of the cloudbank and for a nice, soft patch of grass or grain or something to cushion his fall if he can’t get a hold on himself.

Fortunately for Harry’s ability to distract himself (and the random farmer’s hay field that was looking quite choice for a crash-landing of Death-From-Above) a hue and cry from his left pulled his dragon’s attention away from his silly human feelings.

As a dragon he didn’t have the full color-spectrum, trading some color for the ability to telescope in on an area and read heat signatures.  But he certainly did recognize a lion standard when he saw it, even if he couldn’t tell that the yellowish color was gold and the pinky one red.

Plus…

Colors aside, bows being raised and arrows shot off in a panic was really like waving a flag in front of a bull.

Honestly.

Idiots.

Unless those were Valyrian-steel tipped arrows shot from a trebuchet or scorpion bolts the size of a knight’s lance…what did they really think they were going to accomplish by shooting a volley at a fucking dragon?!  This wasn’t the fucking Hobbit for Merlin’s sake!

Did they truly believe a simple arrow could take down a dragon?

Apparently Lannister gold could by sell-swords, obedience, and fear but it couldn’t buy two brain cells to rub together or the sense the gods gave literally any other creature.

Harry huffed out a draconic laugh before finding an excellent use for the burning sensation his human desire to cry had created in his draconic form: creating a wall of dragonfire and burning that volley-of-stupidity to ashes.

Roaring out a trumpeting cry, birds and deer and creatures both great and small running far, far away from the apex predator of apex predators, Harry collapsed his wings to his sides like a skydiver seeking maximum velocity and shot towards the ground, laying down another line of fire towards the Lannister men and spooking the few horses that hadn’t already ran in fear.

Shrieking and crying in terror, the war-trained and war-blooded horses tossed their heads, snapping their tethers and galloping away in every direction, the Lannister men hot on their heels.

Sucking in another massive breath, lungs expanding like a massive bellows, he set about burning the camp to the ground, keeping the fire contained to the clearing before giving an all-to-human nod of satisfaction at the wanton destruction and with a few great beats of his wings climbing back into the air, just another bird as far as those on the ground were concerned he flew so high.

2 days gone.

Harry was still snickering later the next day when he landed in a clearing in the Kingswood.  He’d stopped several miles previous to wrap himself in his father’s Cloak before shifting back into his Animagus form.  It was just one of the abilities of the Hallows that he didn’t discover until he…well…died.  And then didn’t manage to stay that way.

Damn Dumbledore, the twinkly-eyed bastard making him think he had sooo much worth living for.

The manipulative-even-from-beyond-the-grave fuckheaded twat that he was.

It was only by sheer force of will that Harry’d resisted trying the Stone after waking in Westeros.

Mainly because he wasn’t sure which outcome would be worse:

One, it doesn’t work and he’s really, truly alone and cut off from everything and everyone he used to know.

Or, alternatively and possibly worse if he wanted to have anything close to a productive if not happy life:

It does work.  And he wastes away into nothing because he spends all his time, to paraphrase the goat-loving-clotpole himself: dwelling on dreams and forgetting to live.

The wizard wasn’t sure what was going on with his magic.

He’d always been powerful, more so once he wasn’t devoting over half his reserves to powering the blood wards at the Dursleys and forcing back Tom’s shitty soul leech.

Case-in-point: Dragon Animagus.

Defeating-Voldemort, corporeal Patronus at thirteen, dueling Lucius Malfoy and surviving (which was almost as big a deal in Harry’s opinion as the Dark Lord murder), yeah, he’d done a lot of things that required an excess of power but not necessarily much in the way of brain power.

Waking up in Westeros had taken it to a whole ‘nother level.

He shouldn’t be as powerful as he was after waking.

Technically, he should’ve been barely able to stumble into a bed, fall into a coma, and lay there until his core recharged after spending over eight thousand years in the evil lovechild of a daydream and the Living Death.

Not Superman press his way out of a seriously heavy coffin, jump to his feet, and start healing everyone right-left-and-center.

And the delicate work he did on Bran just weeks later was even stranger, though in that case it wasn’t that he did something he wasn’t capable of but that he was able to walk, flirt, talk, and get off less than an hour after setting down his healing spells on the boy.

Magic was acting in ways that it simply…shouldn’t.

Not by any theory or law or just plain experience Harry had ever had or been taught.

It was almost as if…

But no.

It couldn’t be.

There were magical people and beings in Westeros.

Harry had seen them, met them, healed some of them for Merlin’s sake!

And yet the land was acting as if Harry was one of, if not the only, outlet it had to release its magic back into the world.

As if he was the only tree in the middle of a vast plain during a lightning storm, the natural magic of the land was using him as a conduit to decompress and balance itself.

It was strange, and odd, and so very, very wrong.

Shaking his head, Harry brought his mind back to the task at hand: using some of that excess power to Apparate blind.  From where he crouched invisible in the open field leading to King’s Landing, Harry waited patiently for an opening to appear on the wall – and prayed that where he landed was part of the walk and not an open area or else it would be a very quick, very deadly fall.  Taking a deep breath, he was his chance and with a spin and a nearly silent ‘pop’, he was gone.

Creeping through the halls of Maegor’s Holdfast in search of Sansa Stark – as well as seeking confirmation of certain information or spying out (one could call it stealing but…) evidence to support a cause he knew Jon had in the works – Harry felt as if he was swimming through treacle.

His head felt thick and muzzy, his breaths were shallow and jagged, his steps occasionally scuffling or staggering forcing him to use silencing and extra disillusion and notice-me-not charms in addition to his Cloak.

At his wits end, Harry reached into the enchanted bag that was ever attached to his hip and summoned an amulet from the vault once more hidden beneath the ice and snow and rock of the Fist of the First Men.  Settling it about his neck with hands trembling from the effort, he pressed it roughly to his skin unfeeling of the sharp edges of the old gold pressing against bone and nicking him, drawing blood and activating the enchantment on the “special” piece of Snape’s collection he’d found in the Headmaster’s office after the Battle of Hogwarts.

In his old life, he’d wondered how Severus Snape had managed to stand being a spy and Death Eater while constantly coming into contact with the oppressive magic that surrounded Tom Riddle and saturated any place where the Dark Lord stayed stationary for too long a time.  Other, less magically sensitive wizards or witches would have had much less of an issue.  But no man or woman could become as renowned a Potions Master as Severus Snape without the ability to sense – at least in part – the magic given off by beings, people, and things of magical origins.

Dumbledore was perhaps the most famous for his magical air, most everyone who ever met him or came into contact with him felt it at some point.  But that was an intentional projection of his magic used to put people at ease.  To make them trust him.

Tom didn’t bother with that bullshit.

He was what he was: an insanely powerful Dark Lord, emphasis on the insane, and was highly entertained when others showed their discomfort of his Dark, cruel aura.

But it was impossible for an effective spy – and Snape was certainly that – to do his damn job if he was too busy being beaten down by the magical presence of the person he was supposed to be spying on.  Snape was highly skilled and intelligent, realizing the difficulty he turned a token he was known to keep on him at all times, a silly bit of enchanted gold from his childhood, into a nullification ward for magical senses.

Harry hated the fucking thing.

It made him feel deaf, dumb, and blind the last time he’d used it before being frozen in time.

But needs must, and better to be operating on half his abilities than to be constantly suffering from his senses being magically overloaded.

Harry grimaced as the magic around him dampened down to nearly non-existent, straightening from his place propped against the wall in one of the many hidden alcoves riddling the fortress-within-a-fortress.

If nothing else was taken from this little solo jaunt of his, Harry had learned that there was something deeply wrong about King’s Landing – and it went back further than this little attempt at throne-grabbing by the Lannisters.

It was there in the very stones and mortar of the city – dark blood magics and layers and layers of spells that he hadn’t seen the like of before.

The only thing he could compare it too in his experience was that King’s Landing was like Hogwarts’ evil twin, the layering of enchantments was similar in a way, both being buildings built to a certain purpose and powered for it…but what the cloying, decaying, diseased magics layered into King’s Landing were intended to do Harry had no idea, having no point-of-reference for what it was his magic was trying to tell him about this place.

At this point all he could do was carry on and finish the task that had brought him to this gods-forsaken place as quickly as magically possible.

Before the scent/taste/feel of the disgusting magic seeped so deeply into his skin that a thousand dips in the Winterfell hot springs wouldn’t suffice to make him clean again.

Harry huffed out a breath and knocked his head back against the stone wall then propelling himself forward determined to be done with King’s Landing.

Maybe if he was lucky one of the armies running around Westeros would burn the fucking place to the ground.  Abrasive magical residue aside…Harry was pretty sure that was the only cure of the pure stench of the place.  Seriously.  The things Harry would have done to have indoor plumbing already invented.

But nooo….

Westeros hasn’t undergone an industrial revolution or renaissance yet, much to his dismay.

It was like being chucked head-long into the wizarding world…only it was a wizarding world without any of the creature comforts he’d grown up with and none of the same that magic could provide.

But before he could find an auburn haired young lady among the rest of the silk-wearing flutterers of the Red Keep, he did come across a meeting that he found quite interesting indeed:

“Dragons?”  A thin, weaselly-looking man with dark hair demanded of his companion, a bald man wearing more silk than Harry found advisable for well, anyone.  “I thought you said the girl was still in Essos?”

“Yes, that is true.”  The bald man said in a nearly feminine sighing whisper.  “Daenerys is most bereaved at the loss of her Horse Lord and their son but his buoyed by her dragon-children.  But the Dragonstone Princess is not who my little birds have whispered about in my ears.”

“Who then?”

“Jon I Targaryen,” the man who must be none but the Spider Varys fanned himself languidly.  “Who has been the subject of rumors and whispers for years.  He sends out his ravens that has the young Lion roaring for blood and his grandfather rushing to give it to him and then lo!  Not weeks later a dragon is spotted in the skies over Westeros.”

The weaselly man’s swarthy complexion paled dramatically as his companion continued to sashay through the stone walls of the Keep as if nothing was at all wrong.

“How…” the dark-haired man swallowed, eyed wide.  “How large of a dragon have your little birds told you of?  The Princess’s you told Joffery and Cersei were the size of cats, hardly something to worry over at the moment.”

Varys chuckled.

“No cat, that is for certain: but a dragon grown the size of which hasn’t been seen in Westeros since the time of Maegor the Cruel’s Balerion the Black Dread.  Beautiful,” Varys could appreciate beauty in all forms no matter how deadly.  “With wings and scales in greys and whites and blues, making it nearly blend with the clouded and stormy skies further north.  But deadly.  It supposedly destroyed a dozen men and burned an entire Lannister patrol’s camp to the ground.  Even worse…”  Varys trailed off with a sigh.

“Worse?”

“Why, yes,” Varys gave a serene smile.  “Strangely: it had no rider upon its back, my dear Master of Coin.”

Ahh, Harry thought, once the two had parted and he returned to searching for Sansa.  That must have been Petyr Baelish, the architect of Eddard Stark’s imprisonment and subsequent execution.  Interesting…that the Master of Whispers and Master of Coin would discuss such things…away from the others of the Small Council.

Perhaps there were other things the two discussed without an audience of Lannisters as well.

But that would be a matter for Jon’s eyes and ears in the Keep to discover, Harry had to focus now as he was coming up to the rooms where his point-me spell was saying Sansa was.  He hoped she was alone; his luck today wasn’t even worth speaking of.  It would suck to have to stand against the wall as a group of ladies did needlepoint or something, not able to leave until he finally caught her without company.

Ducking through a partially open door, ignoring the guard that stood outside it, Harry let out a soundless breath at the sight of the pretty auburn-haired maid who was standing by the expensive glass window, staring out – wistfully if Harry was any judge of female melancholy – towards the North.

Before he could make a sound or otherwise reveal his presence, the Lady Sansa Stark narrowed her Tully blue eyes and whirled in a tempest of silken-gauze skirts searching the corners of the room with her piercing gaze.

Huh.  Harry thought to himself, in genuine surprise.  Not a delicate southron flower after all.

There was a strength in Sansa Stark that he’d not expected from Jon’s memories of her as a girl, before he went North and she South, and of a maid enchanted with a pretty golden-haired princeling blinded by infatuation to the evil that lurked beneath the façade.  Not one of the Starks had been pleased by the match between Joffery and Sansa – save her mother and the girl herself.  Perhaps Harry’s own plans regarding her will have to change, as she herself must have in order to survive the Red Keep, but it would all depend on the girl.

Stepping up to her side he whispered:

“Close the door Lady Sansa, I bring news of the North.”

Blue eyes stared right at where the person speaking must have been, all her instincts screaming at her that she wasn’t alone, no matter how foolish it was to believe another was present when her eyes were telling her otherwise.

But if there was one lesson the court and Red Keep had taught Sansa, it was that one’s eyes often lied or simply failed to perceive the truth of things.

Had she trusted her instincts a year ago, she might not be in this situation now, a captive and hostage against the behavior of her older brother and cousin, and constantly in danger from Joffery and Cersei’s mercurial moods besides.

At the very least, had she trusted herself and stood beside her sister…Lady might be alive instead of dead along the Kingsroad…much like Arya herself might very well be.

After several long moments of Sansa debating with herself she gave a bare nod, then turned and sent the guard away in search of her handmaidens under the pretense of desiring a bath.  Closing and barring the door, Sansa whirled around once more just in time to see a black-haired man with pretty looks to shame the Knight of Flowers or Renly Baratheon seem to part the very air and appear from under a cloak made of some strange shimmering fabric.

“You could sense me.”  Harry said cocking his head to one side, studying her from head to toe in an assessing manner.  “Couldn’t you, Lady Sansa?  Despite what your eyes and ears told you, you knew I was there before I spoke.”

“I could.”  Sansa said before adding after studying the quality of his dress with an appraising glance: “my lord.”

Harry waved that off, telling her at once to call him Harry.

“The blood of the First Men.”  He said as if to himself, a humming sound in his tone.  “It runs richly through you Starks it seems.  At first I thought it might just be Jon with his Valyrian blood but no: Mormont was the same – but weaker, while yourself and your brother Bran are nearly as in tune with the magics of this world as your royal cousin.  An intriguing puzzle for when I have time to contemplate it.  Now,” his voice and eyes sharpened on Sansa’s face, watching him with an air of befuddlement as he temporarily lost himself in the conundrum that was magic in Westeros.  His ability to focus was one of the skills that seemed to have grown some rust from his imprisonment.  “You have three choices Lady Sansa.”

“Choices?”  Sansa echoed, never had a man of any kind given Sansa or any lady she knew of a choice not in anything.  Even Cersei Lannister and her own mother Catelyn, both the strongest women she knew, weren’t given such things as choices.  Jewels, silks, expensive wines and other gifts for going along with decisions made by others with ladylike grace, yes.  A cuff for misbehaving or backtalking, yes.  An actual choice, no.

“Choices.”  Harry confirmed with a nearly regal tilt of his ebony head.  “I can take you from here, Lady Sansa if that is what you wish.”  He promised, sympathy in his emerald eyes.  It wasn’t an easy thing he was about to put to her by any means.  “We can be gone from here in a moment if that is your choice.  I can even promise you that you will be safe in Winterfell before the sun sets, safe in the bosom of your lady mother and supping with your younger brothers – if that is your choice.”

Safe with mother and the boys.”  A tear of joy glinted in her eye as her longing briefly overrode her hard-won good sense.  “How?”  She demanded with the next breath.  “Travel to Winterfell takes weeks, a moon-turn or more depending on the road or path you take.  And the River Lands are under siege.  It’s impossible that any man could have me there by sun set.”

“Ah.”  Harry held up a hand still holding his Cloak, his voice playful.  “But I am not any man.”  He teased and tested her.  “But a wizard the likes of which does not exist any longer in Westeros.  I could have you in Winterfell or Castle Black or even so far as the Fist of the First Men.  All it takes is a few words and some power and there you will be.”

“Yes, yes!”  Sansa cried out, the lone tear finally falling freely down her smooth creamy cheek.  “Then send me home good Ser, Harry, away from this awful, evil place.”

“Are you certain?”  Harry arched a brow, continuing to test what Sansa Stark was made of.  “You haven’t even heard the other choices yet.”

She sucked in a breath, beating her hope and rising joy back.  Straightening her spine and shoulders, Sansa nodded, fully aware that he wasn’t likely to do anything let alone something so miraculous as send her home without her hearing him in full.  “Very well, Ser.  Harry.  What are the other options?”

“First.”  Harry held up a gloved finger.  “I could send you home, to the safety of your family.  Second, which you’ve already discarded from what I can make of your words, I can leave you here and interfere no further.”

Sansa nodded, waving him on.  She had the sense there was something more he wanted to say.  Another possibility, one he clearly wanted her to choose if she’d learned anything of men this last year.

“And last.”  Harry grimaced.  He really didn’t want to do this.  Jon was going to be furious and his cousin Robb likely enraged.  But he believed she could handle it.  More, he believed she would excel at it.  And something in him truly wanted to give her that opportunity.  To be more than a nobleman’s property for once in her young life.  “You can stay, and watch, and listen.  And pass along every word out of that cunt Joffery’s mouth and every plan Cersei whispers in your ear thinking you beaten down and broken.  Trapped and powerless, like a cat toying with a cornered mouse.”

A grin kicked up the side of his mouth as a fire lit in those blue eyes, making them burn in a way he once saw Ron’s eyes burn just before a difficult chess match he was determined to win.

Oh yes.

Sansa was a Stark indeed.

“A chance.”  Harry’s voice was hypnotic in its cadence and with the picture he painted with his words for his red-haired audience of one.  “To show these silly, stupid lions what happens when they play with a direwolf, thinking it alone and friendless.  But…”

“When the wind howls and the snows are deep.”  Sansa whispered the proverb that might as well be the words of House Stark.  “The lone wolf dies and the pack survives.”

“Yes.”  Harry nodded.  “Your pack isn’t dead and gone but riled and baying for blood.  Lannister blood.  And with them comes the half-wolf and half-dragon that is going to serve it up by the gallon if Jon has his way.”

Sansa girded herself, determination glinting in her Tully eyes as she nodded firmly.

“I shall do as you ask, my Lord.”  She said formally, hands folded serenely before her.  “But, I do fear myself in danger.  Joffery has been enraged ever since news of Jon’s claim reached the Keep.  He even…”  She blushed mortified to her pretty slippers over what she was about to reveal to a stranger despite the pin on his armor – the direwolf and dragon of her cousin Jon’s personal sigil.  Any man can claim to be of the North or a Targaryen spy.  But only someone who knew Jon would dare use his personal sigil.  “Stripped me.”  The words were a broken whisper with the shame of it.  Though there was something to be said for how Lord Tyrion tore into the blond monster.  “In the middle of court for all to see.”

Harry growled at that.  It would be so easy to slip in and cut the fucker’s throat.  But no.  His magic and instincts screamed against the possibility.  Joffery was a malignant little twat but he was predictable and to a point controllable.  Better to deal with him than enrage the lions further or risk weakening them for Renly Baratheon and his Tyrell supporters.

The Lannisters were challenge enough for two armies at the moment, he wasn’t going to risk upsetting the status quo…too much at least.

“I cannot promise that you’ll be safe from such attacks if you stay.”  He warned her, wanting to make an informed decision.  “But I can protect you from physical harm – and give you a means of escape.”

Reaching into his bag in an echo of his earlier action, he searched this time for a different necklace, this one suited to the strong woman before him that reminded him very much of a young Lily Evans from all the stories he was ever told of her, both in looks save for the eyes and the steel spine Sansa was rapidly developing.

Summoning the bauble he was thinking of, he lifted it from the bag and laid it gently on the table near the window, Sansa following him and commenting as he lifted his wand to enchant the piece:

“It’s lovely, Ser.”  Sansa said of the pair of enamel stargazer lilies on the bed of pearls and silver.

“It was my mother’s.”  Harry told her absently as he set the enchantments into the metal.  Silver was good, excellent in fact for this sort of work.  It was known for protective properties, allowing for less forcing of the piece to take the spells without too much fiddling about.  “My grandfather commissioned it on her day of birth and then presented it to her on her sixteenth nameday.”  Satisfied that the enchantments and the portkey spell had taken hold nearly fifteen minutes later, he lifted it from the wooden surface and prompted the girl to lift her hair so he could fasten it and seal it to her.

Stepping back, he studied the effect as she turned and glanced at her reflection in the polished metal mirror.

“Truly Ser.”  Sansa said lifting one hand.  “This is too much.”

“No.”  Harry shook his head, banishing the memories of pictures showing Lily looking just as young and fresh and lovely wearing that same expression of bashful pleasure when her father fastened that same jewel around her neck.  “No, it’s just enough.  Pretty things like my mother’s necklace are meant to be worn by those who would appreciate them, not mold away in a bag or a drawer or even a vault.  You do more to improve that bauble than it does for you, and I’ve known my share of pretty girls and beautiful women.  Besides which: it’s functional.”

“I don’t take your meaning, Ser.”

Harry tapped one finger against the silver, banishing it from sight.

“I’ve enchanted it to protect you from all physical harm while showing a mummery to those who look for the evidence an attack would leave.  If Joffery strikes you, your body will react as normal – but without pain or mark.  They will see blood or bruises or what have you.”  Soft emerald eyes met thankful blue.  “But it will do no real damage.  Likewise, no other will ever see it or know it’s there.  And none but myself will ever be able to remove it from around your neck – not even you.”

Another pretty tear spilled down her strawberry-and-cream cheek, Sansa too overwrought at his foresight and care to speak.

Sensing others moving towards the room, Harry twirled his Cloak about his shoulders, holding out a book he’d removed at the same time as the necklace towards her.

“The book is concealed as well.”  He hurried through the words in a hushed whisper as Sansa moved to unbar the door without prompting.  “Write in it and others will see pretty poetry while your true words will show up on the twin in my possession.  I will be able to write back.  One last thing, Lady Sansa.”

“Yes?”  Sansa turned her head a fraction, resting with one hand on the now-lowered bar.

“I promised you an escape.”  He nodded towards the necklace before finishing wrapping himself with the Cloak.  “The necklace is also a tool as well as a shield: it will take you away from here if your position becomes too untenable.  Simply hold it in your hand and speak the words: There’s no place like home.  Do you think you’ll remember them?”

Sansa turned the strange words around in her mind.  They were High or perhaps Old Valyrian in nature.  Dutifully she repeated them, hands well away from the necklace, then nodded.  Strange words, but memorable ones, that was for certain.

“I will, Ser.”

Harry smiled, though invisible to his audience and said: “Good.  Farewell until we meet again, Lady Sansa.”  Slipping from the room as she opened the door to await her handmaidens with her bath.

“Farewell, Lord Harry.”  She whispered, words following him down the hall before being lost in the noise of her maids clambering up the stairs with buckets of hot and cold water, as requested, the guard dogging their steps.

Without the oppressive decayed magic pressing down on Harry, he was free to wander around the Keep, indulging in his not-so-secret vice of snooping.

It was a vice and habit and personality trait all rolled into one, and the reason he’d gotten into so much trouble – and then back out of it – in his old world.  And being in a place that had no magical protections to keep him from the more…interesting…areas, it was a vice that was paying dividends in spades.  He didn’t know if some of the denizens of the Keep had gotten lazy or complacent with Robert Baratheon, Jon Arryn, and Ned Stark all in the grave, but he couldn’t believe some of what he found.

Some was just interesting.

Other things ended up copied or out-and-out stolen.

Really, was Maester Pycelle an idiot?

The man kept a record – hidden of course – of all correspondence that came through the official ravens, a ridiculous practice…but one that explained how he’d managed to successfully break his vows for decades without censure by either Robert or Aerys.

Still…in the current climate it wasn’t worth the risk.

Varys and Petyr Baelish were still roaming the damn place and Tywin Lannister was utterly ruthless, whether he was in place to capitalize on one’s secrets or not, and that was before one considered that Tyrion Lannister, freshly delivered the week before by a sell-sword named Bronn, was nearly on par with Varys himself when it came to knowing things he oughtn’t.

Maybe it was the wine that swam through the Keep that made normally cautious men dumb as a sack of hammers.  Ned Stark had certainly taken one-too-many risks upon entering the palace.  They all thought they were invulnerable…until they weren’t and ended up a head shorter or poisoned by their wives or their wives’ lovers.

Regardless, Harry was glad to be quit of the place, all but ripping the amulet suppressing his senses – and his power – from his neck and breathing in great gulps of air once he was free of the walls and stench of King’s Landing.  Stuffing the amulet back away in his pack with agitated hands as his magic bombarded him with a deluge of information he’d been blind to with the suppressor on, he cast a cleansing charm over himself, feeling inextricably filthy from his hours inside the Keep.  Moving towards a flat plain, he secured his Cloak around himself once more, and shifted into his dragon, shaking himself from snout to tail like a dog shaking off water, and took to the air with a mighty thrust of his wings.

He had two more stops to make before he could return to his King’s side, and little enough time to make them.

Jon would reach the Northern troops within a week, eight or nine days at most.

They were making good time but it was costing Harry time he could use to more thoroughly investigate matters in the Capitol, and from what he’d seen in the Grand Maester’s rooms, the Citadel as well.

But.

Needs must.

And Jon needed him – and his power – more than Harry needed to get to the bottom of the possible conspiracy he thought he’d uncovered.

Mind turned firmly away from matters that he couldn’t do anything about for now, Harry turned East.

Jon had left Harry’s mission south mostly up to his own judgement, trusting that the wizard would know better than Jon what he could and couldn’t affect, which situations he could help with or resolve altogether and which he wasn’t to interfere with lest he anger the gods.  Harry liked living, now that he was actually living again, thank you.  He had no desire to piss off beings capable of wiping him out just when he was starting to have fun in this new world.

He just had to trust his magic.

It had never failed him yet.

Death willing, it never would.

The flight to Dragonstone wasn’t long, the ancient fortress sitting at the mouth of Blackwater Bay, but due to Harry’s cat-like curiosity and snooping, by the time he came into sight of the volcanic island much of the citadel was asleep.

Hovering lightly over one of the dragon-shaped towers, Harry shifted back into his human form and dropped the last few feet to the stone walkway.

Closing his eyes as he crouched under his Cloak, he took in a deep breath tasting the magic of the ancient fortress and original Seat of the Targaryen Dynasty.  Unconsciously he began to smile, feeling welcomed by this place in a way he hadn’t felt since he reached the Wall.  The magic was different here, less repressed and restrained, as if whatever had caused the sickness that pervaded Westeros hadn’t yet sunk its claws into the castle built into the face of a living volcano, the Dragonmont.

Energy trickled into him, the ancient magic of the fortress restoring reserves steadily drained from the long flight enhanced by magic first to King’s Landing and then to Dragonstone, washing away the sensation of being tainted that had remained even after flying through a burst of his own dragonfire high above the clouds upon leaving the Red Keep and its decay.

The hot springs and godswood of Winterfell had impacted him as well, bolstering him after his long waking sleep and the many weeks it took him and Jon to reach the northern capitol after waking, but it was a mere Pepper-Up to Dragonstone’s Elixir of Life, and tainted in part by the magic oppression throughout the Seven Kingdoms.

Feeling the ancient power of Dragonstone, Harry reiterated to himself an earlier thought: something was rotten in the land of Westeros.

Knowing that sneaking around the castle in the dead of night wasn’t a great idea with nobles and men-at-arms and smallfolk sleeping here and there and everywhere, Harry set off to find the godswood.

He would pass the night under the protective branches of the weirwood trees and do Jon’s bidding while fresh in the morning.

Harry had had enough of intrigues and politics for one day, his next bout of them would keep.

Decided, Harry cast a point-me spell for the godswood and mounted his Firebolt, retrieved from his expanded pack rather than his vault, and kicked off.

He wished, feeling wistful for a moment at the sensation of the sleek broom handle and the wind in his hair, that his flight southron could have been done on Siri’s gift rather than with his own two wings.  It wasn’t logistically sound, of course.  A flying dragon in the skies was one thing, and near impossible to take down.  A man on a broom was something else entirely.

Besides, he rather doubted his arse could take that kind of punishment…and flying as Stormwing was faster anyway, especially when he lightened himself and boosted his speed with his magic.

Sleep.  He decided steering himself down towards the white-barked weirwoods with a nod when he found himself making BDSM jokes with himself as his only audience.  He definitely needed sleep.

Now that he thought about it…

Food and an actual bathroom would probably be good ideas too…Harry having treated being in Westeros much like he would’ve going to the distant past in his former world.  There was no way he could introduce anyone to the technology in his wizarding tent without worrying about the repercussions it could have on the natural development the people of his new reality were capable of.  They had already done things no one had managed in his old world – Dragonstone was proof of that.  He didn’t want to cripple their potential…and dear Merlin Hermione’s lectures on time-travel ethics and standards had really sunk in after their adventure during Third Year.

Thanking the gods for wizarding tents, muggle-repelling wards, and disillusionment charms, he had a temporary camp to set up, all the while having flashbacks to Hogwarts, his dead friends (while they still remained his friends), and the Seventh-Year-That-Wasn’t.

Harry dreamed.

A three-eyed-crow watching him, cawing in anger and fear.

“Wyrd!”  It cawed.  “The wyrd has gone!  Blind!  Blind!”

The crow cawed once more before taking wing, a storm of feathers tipped in blood raining down on Stormwing’s spear-tipped head.

Harry lifted a claw and flexed, staring down in shock as it shifted to a furred paw.

Drawing in a deep breath through his now-canine nose, he reared back in disgust as the copper-and-rot scent of old blood assailed him, the misty scene around him melting, replaced with a strange hall.

Banners draped the grey stone, showing the Tully fish Jon had told him of and another he didn’t recognize of two blue towers, united by a bridge, on a silver-grey field.

The banners were splashed and edged in blood, pools of the same staining the stone and wooden trestles and benches.

Standing in the center of the empty hall, the scene of a massacre if his nose was true in this dream scape, were a trio of ghostly figures: a direwolf, darker than Ghost but lighter than Harry’s pure-black dream-form, a pregnant woman draped in finery with bloody stab wounds marring her belly and grief straining her beautiful Valyrian features.  The last made him gasp: a man with features he recognized from meeting Sansa and Bran, ghostly blue eyes burning, with a crown upon his curls and a headsman’s smile gaping across his neck.

Another figure appeared, wreathed in shadows and black flames, carrying an infamous weapon.  With a wave of his legendary scythe, Death – for who else could it be? – banished the dream scape, returning it to a vast colorless plane where Harry had spent thousands of years locked away save when someone entered his tomb and allowed him half-life with their presence.

“Wyrd.”  Death’s voice was deep and raspy but strangely welcoming, like the sound of a warm fire in Fall as the leaves are turning.  “The wyrd has changed.”

Harry closed his eyes, only to open them in his human form.  Death was still watching him out of fathomless eyes as a series of scenes flipped past, most too quick for even Harry’s Seeker’s eyes to mark.  There was a girl with blinded eyes being beaten in a stone chamber, here a woman with golden hair being paraded through King’s Landing in naught but her skin.  Jon wearing a cloak of black fighting the Others, Sansa being nearly raped and then saved by a man with a burned face, a silver-haired woman seated upon a throne at the top of a pyramid, and more.  So many, many more.

And lastly, Jon, beautiful Jon, lying dead at the base of a weirwood tree surrounded by ice and snow.

“The wyrd has changed.”  Death intoned once more, drawing Harry’s full attention back to his shadowed figure.

“Then why show me this?”  Harry finally found his voice.  “What was the point?”

“The wyrd has changed, Warrior-Who-Waits.”  Death said, folding his black-gloved hands elegantly around the handle of his scythe.  “The people have not.  This was only a glimpse, a gift if you take note of it.  All the gods of this epoch are pleased you have been awoken by the Young Dragon.  With,” Death’s voice smiled, though Harry couldn’t say the same of his mouth as his face was still wreathed in shadow.  “A few exceptions.”

“So…”  Harry thought rapidly.  “Some of these things could still happen.”

“The wyrd has changed, Harry, Last of the Peverells.”  Death waved a hand towards the flickering images, bringing up the moment Jon broke the spell binding him.  “You were never meant to be here.  You should have come to me long, long ago.  And yet,” his voice smiled once more.  “I admit to being eager to see what else you can change, my Warrior-Who-Waits.  You fulfilled your wyrd once.  Let us see if you can do it again, lest this epoch fall into an age of Ice and Fire.”

“And if I can?”  Harry challenged the god.  “I am ready to greet you, old friend.  I have been ready since I was seventeen.  And what reward awaits a hero but that of yourself?”

“Ah,” Death tapped the base of the scythe on the misty plane, changing the scene.  “You found my Hallows but refused to become my Master and exist for all time at my side.  What boon would you ask from Death, from the Stranger, from the God-of-Many-Faces, Warrior-Who-Waits?  You are owed.  Though I think you will find that if you fulfill your wyrd once more that that will be reward enough.  This time your wyrd may end with joy, that you might drink as deeply of that as you have of grief and pain and bitterness all these long years, my oldest friend, Last of the House of Peverell.”

“I would give you a boon in turn for my request.”  Harry said shrewdly, not wanting to risk becoming indebted to the embodiment of the End of All Things.  “Your Stone, returned once more.”

“And in exchange for my Stone and your unclaimed boon?”

“That any whom with I bond,” Harry said promptly.  “Should have the same gift you once gave my line: reprieve from all deaths but that of old age, a fatal blow, or suicide.”

Death chuckled darkly at that.  Yes, this was the last of the Peverells after all.  The being hoped the Warrior-Who-Waits would manage to reproduce before coming to him at last.  This epoch would be so much more amusing with Peverells populating it with their irreverent cheek.

“It shall be as you ask.”  Death tapped the base of the scythe once more as a golden chain appeared winding down the scythe – the symbol of Death’s eternal powers – before darting across the space between them and locking around Harry’s wrist.  “Not from disease nor poison nor plot save that of a fatal final blow will you and yours pass to me unless through true old age or suicide.  So mote it be.”

The Resurrection Stone appeared in Harry’s hand, the wizard floating it through the air to Death with a thought, sealing their agreement.

“Beware, Last of the Peverells.”  Death cautioned.  “Not everything you’ve been shown can be prevented.  Wyrd has changed but some will still make the same choices.  Take caution, lest the joy you are due be snatched from you before you can fulfill your wyrd, as others seek to fulfill theirs.”

The dream changed, bringing with it the utter horror of being locked away in his mind unable to move or speak or even breathe, his body held in a timeless suspension where a thousand years passed in a second and a second felt like a thousand years.

Next came words.

The haunting words mixed and mashed and tossed together of the prophecies that ruined his before and the one that was his salvation from his endless waking-sleep.

…The one who…

…Dark Lord…

…greater and more terrible…

…Scion of the Light…

…The great darkness shall fall…

…The dead walk…

…Red god rises…

…Hope of Mourning…

…the Warrior…

…Warrior…

Warrior!

Harry tossed and turned as the title that he can’t seem to escape echoed through his drifting mind.  Then he turned, dreaming eyes open, as he realized the last wasn’t in the voice of Jon or Death or any other from his current world.  No.  It was a voice from his past.

“Please no.”  He whispered to himself.  “Not this.  Not again.  Haven’t I suffered this dream enough in my past reality?”

But it seemed there wasn’t a compassionate deity around to hear his plea as the voice came again, this time in with clear condescension, the same as it had sounded the last time he heard it just before they locked him away in his ‘stasis chamber’ that was no more than an expensive coffin.

“Warrior?”

His head turned and there she was, a woman he’d loved like a sister, sneer marring her lovely face that always refused to age when he suffered through nightmares featuring her.

“Oh, Harry.”  Dream-Hermione sighed, shaking her head ruefully.  “You’re no Warrior, Harry.  If you were a Warrior, you would have woken when we called for you.  Woken and saved us all.  But no.  You slept on.  You failed us.  Just like you failed Sirius and Remus and Tonks and most of all Teddy.  You’re no Warrior, Harry.”

The look on her face clearly said ‘who are you trying to fool, silly boy?’ before it shifted, another apparition taking her place…and giving their two-pence to torment him.

“You?  Warrior of prophecy?”  Malfoy’s icy silver-blue eyes rolled in his too-handsome face.  “Please, Potter.  Do your glory-seeking delusions know no bounds?”

Another face, then another, filled with the same accusations he’d heard all through his previous life.

Liar.

Attention-hound.

Conceited prat.

Dangerous.

Dark.

Mad.

Then it changed, the faces becoming soft, almost kind.

And that was infinity worse.

“Mio amore.”  Blaise sighed, brown eyes soft.  “The spell is lifted; won’t you join us now?  Won’t you at last join me?  I’ve waited for you, Tesoro.”

“Hey mate,” Fred grinned.

“We’re missing,” George continued, ear still missing in his dream.

“Our partner in crime, join us.”

“Join us.”

“Join us.”

“Join us.”

Voice after voice rose, taking up the call.

And then the worst.  The same who came to escort him to his end, once-upon-a-time.  His mother, father, Siri and Remus.

“Join us.”  They said.  “It’s time, Harry.”

“WARRIOR,” they thundered in his mind.  “JOIN US.”

4 days gone, – Approximately Midday – 5 ½ days to return to Jon’s side

Harry shot up from his bed, hands slapping over his ears as if he could shut that voice, that great terrible voice, out through blocking his physical sense of sound.  Panting his eyes wheeled wildly around the room, seeking out the familiar and comfortable items.  Reminding himself of just where and when he was.

And who.

Emerald eyes narrowed as he lowered his hands, his gaze catching on something out of place.

It wasn’t inside the wards and enchantments.

No.

On the contrary it sat just outside of them – a large bonfire the wood piled high but as yet unlit.

Growling low in his throat he stormed into the tent’s bathroom.

“Someone is playing games.”  He hissed, furious that the magical being he could sense in the fortress, much weaker than himself but stronger than any other he’d sensed in Westeros, had tried to influence him in his dreams.  “Someone is going to pay dearly for that stunt.”

Oh yes, they were going to pay in spades.

This half-arse excuse for a sorcerer clearly did not know who they were fucking with.

No matter.

Harry would quite enjoy the process of educating them.

A hot shower and fresh clothes later – not armor as he wasn’t there to fight a physical battle, but dragonhide leather trousers and battle-robe in Targaryen blood-red with a black silk undertunic and dragonhide boots that came up over his knees in black as well.  Harry had his hair dry and dressed in intricate battle braids, fastened with a red tie, his sword belt strapped at his hip and his wand tucked away in its holster inside his sleeve.  He had to admit, it felt good to be dressed purely as a wizard again without his heavy battle armor or riding leathers.  A black silk cloak was clasped at his shoulder with the sword and triquetra he’d taken as his personal crest after much thought and discussion with Jon, filling in the silences that weren’t relieved on the long road from the Fist to Winterfell by talk of the new world Harry found himself living in or about Jon or Jon’s families.

They had talked about many things, especially in the weeks between Castle Black and Winterfell.

With no audience to hear and judge or perhaps slip a raven to King’s Landing or Storm’s End, Jon told him more and Harry trusted his new King with tales of his life in turn.

Debating Maester Aemon’s final advice had filled a whole day’s ride with debates on the ethics of sovereign rule, the ideal traits of a king, and more all sparked by Aemon’s words.

By the time Jon cornered Harry in the hot springs, Harry could say with total honesty that he knew his King better than any person from his former life, save perhaps Malfoy.  For who do you know better and they you in turn, than your closest and most bitter rival?

Jon, however, as yet did not know Harry as well as he knew Jon.

Harry had been indelibly marked by the constant strain and trials and betrayals that had controlled much of his former life.  His King was as yet still remarkably unspoiled.  In that, Harry for his dislike of Aemon’s words from an ethical standpoint, had to admit the wise old man made a fair point.  There was still much of the boy left in Jon Targaryen.

One that wasn’t likely to survive his first battle and kill.

A shame, that.

Harry rather liked the boyish part of Jon.

It was that part of him that urged Jon into acting in that hot springs, into taking a chance on Harry, that he otherwise would have likely waited until he knew more of him to do so.

Deciding he at last that he looked as presentable as he could get without the help of a native Westron and a royal seamstress, Harry finished packing up, tucking his Cloak away in preference of using a disillusionment charm.

If there was somewhere in Dragonstone who wanted to play games, he wasn’t about to reveal his cards without gaining something in return.

Besides which, from what he could tell of the lack of magic users, appearing out of nowhere due to a simple charm would likely be more impressive to them than the Cloak would be.  Unlike in the wizarding world, they wouldn’t understand just how impressive the Cloak was.  To them it would just be another magical tool.

They wouldn’t…appreciate it the way Harry and his former people did.

They had no scale to judge the true awesome quotient of the Cloak and so it would stay away unless he had need of it.

Taking down the tent with a wave of his wand, Harry banished it back to the vault before scattering the stacked bonfire wood.  He left the wards in place, secure in the knowledge that whatever mischief was planned for the godswood it was at least temporarily stymied by his protections.  With a sigh he cast the spell he seemed to be getting a veritable ton of use out of since waking:

“Point me: Stannis Baratheon.

The wand spun and pointed and away he went, a silencing charm on his boots and clothes and a disillusionment charm covering him.

Dragonstone during the day was a vastly different fortress than the eerie black castle glowing in the light of Dragonmont volcano during the night.

Oh, it was still kind of eerie in that massive-ancient-fortress way but its magic was so welcoming Harry barely even noticed it.

No, it was the sheer life of the smallfolk bustling about with much more purpose and less fear than those of King’s Landing.  Men-at-arms sparred and trained and laughed at crude jokes in the yard.  Maids catcalled and teased after a quick glance to make sure that their stern Lord wasn’t about.

It wasn’t a cheery place by any stretch of the imagination but it was filled with life.

After dodging around a dozen servants, a Maester, and a Septon, Harry finally found himself at the very top of the Stone Drum, in a room that was dominated by a massive painted table that had a curious mix of people gathered around it.

Arguing rather passionately by the sound of it.

A dour, stern looking man who had at one time probably possessed a stark kind of handsomeness before the weight of being an unloved and unappreciated younger brother to a degenerate king had taken its toll on him, sat in a throne-like chair at the very place Dragonstone stood on the massive map, alternating between watching the others argue and staring down at the map, a parchment clasped tightly in one hand.

Ignoring the argument for the moment, Harry crept closer to the map, coming to stand next to who had to be Stannis Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone.

Seeing what Stannis saw as he stared, Harry noted the placement of a wolf and a dragon between two labels reading: Moat Cailin and the Twins.  At the Twins a banner had been placed, showing a pair of blue castles Harry recognized from his dreams.  Beware the Twins.  Whispered his instincts, spurring him on to finish his mission as quickly as possible and return to Jon’s side.

There was no way to tell exactly which of the glimpses Death showed him could yet come true – or when.

He wasn’t going to leave Jon without his Warrior when it came time to make passage across the Twins.

A Stag and a Rose were marked as being at a place called Bitterridge, with a smaller Stag at Storm’s End.

The Tully Fish remained at Riverrun with a Lion just on the other side of the River.  A second Lion was shown to be moving in that same direction up from Harrenhal – and wasn’t that tidbit interesting – while more Lions (lions, lions, every-fucking-where) marked King’s Landing and Casterly Rock.

More wolves were in the North, while a Kraken marked the Iron Islands.

Each and every major player were represented as well as a large amount of their respective sworn Lords and landed knights.

Dorne, the Vale of Arryn, and some powerful lords weren’t shown, likely Stannis being unaware of their current locations or allegiances.

“He is Azor Ahai reborn!”  A finely dressed lady, if somewhat wan and limp appearing, cried out, finally drawing Harry’s attention away from the finest map of Westeros he had seen yet.  And he’d seen a few between Castle Black, Winterfell, and the Red Keep.  “Lady Melissandre swears it by our Lord of Light Rh’llor!  Stannis must declare himself for the throne!”

“Must?”  A craggy, older Maester than the one Harry had passed in the halls scoffed.  “That’s treason talking, no matter how you look at it.  You’d have your Lord husband lose his head because some red witch says so?!  Has your illness rotted your head, Lady Selsye?”

“Careful.”  Another man warned, this one shy a few knuckles on one hand.  “Of how you speak to the Lady of Dragonstone.  Folly or not, she is still Lord Stannis’s lady wife.”

“Thank you, Ser Davos.”  Lady Selsye nodded her head, the red woman who could only be Melissandre remaining silent for the moment, simply watching Stannis with a strange light in her dark eyes.

Red witch, is she?  Harry thought to himself, moving with predatory grace to circle his current target.  This must be the architect of my most pleasant waking this morning.  I shall have to repay her.

“And what of the Targaryen bastard boy?”  Selsye pressed as the Maester was temporarily chastened.  “You can’t possibly expect my Lord husband to support that farce of a Snow to the Throne?!”

“I wouldn’t be too certain of that, my Lady wife.”  Stannis spoke at last, contradicting her to her fury.  “Eddard Stark was many things, and I never liked him.  But I respected him.  If there was a man born who could hide the last Targaryen from my hateful, grasping brother Robert, it was Ned Stark.”

“A dragon was spotted in the skies of Westeros once more, Lady Selsye.”  Maester Cressen reminded her.  “No false Targaryen would ever be able to bring forth another dragon…let alone have any control over the beast.”

Harry felt a moment’s amusement over just how close to the mark the old Maester was.

Only a powerful magical being of royal blood would have been able to wake him from his living hell.  Which based on what Harry knew gave him four prospects: Jon, his aunt Daenerys, his uncle Aemon, and his distant cousin Aegon Blackfyre, though the last was conjecture at best.  Daenerys was obvious as she had managed to hatch dragons anew in Essos while he’d met Jon and Aemon for himself and felt the power that ran in their blood.  Stannis wasn’t magical enough, his power suppressed from the same taint that was rotting away Westeros and his daughter and brother were likely the same.

Though…perhaps the Starks might’ve managed it.  They had been Kings of Winter for thousands of years after all.  But none had ever tried, preferring to wait for the current Prophecy to play out.

“Dragons.”  Selsye scoffed with a roll of her eyes.  “What’s next, snarks and grumpkins?”

“It is said.”  Melissandre spoke, her voice richly accented and exotic to Harry’s ear.  It had a near-hypnotic tenor that he would find interesting…if it wasn’t being used to sway a man to treason.  “That dragons will be reborn in a place of smoke and salt.  They will come again, my Lady.  Of that, I have no doubt.  Though whether that time is now, I cannot say.  I can only hope it is so.  For the Night is Dark and full of Terrors.”

“But…”  Selsye looked like her favorite toy had just been taken from her at the censure implicit in the witch’s words.

“Leave us, Selsye.”  Stannis commanded with a small grimace.  “This discussion is too much for someone of your…delicate health.”

The Lady put on a wounded face as she wrapped her fine shawl around her shoulders, sweeping from the room in high dudgeon at her husband’s rebuke.

“There’s been no word from Driftmark, Claw Island, or any of the holds of Crackclaw Point.”  Maester Cressen reported after several long moments of silence passed.  “Most of the Storm Lords save a few loyal to yourself my Lord have sworn to Renly.”

“Of course there’s been no word.”  Ser Davos sighed, shaking his head.  “King Robert did many things but he did not endear himself or the Baratheon name to the Lords of the Crownlands.  Even almost twenty years after the Rebellion and just rule under Lord Stannis, they stayed loyal to the Targaryens.  My sons and I have done some scouting – just here and there.  There is no sign of any ships but those belonging to King’s Landing, merchants, or Dragonstone anywhere near the Blackwater.  They’ve gone to support King Jon I Targaryen or I’ll eat my boots.”

“No need to go that far.”  Stannis said drily, rubbing his forehead with one hand.  “Robert knew it was a likelihood if it ever came to a true Targaryen making a claim to the Iron Throne – as did I.  I never asked for Dragonstone. I never wanted it. I took it because Robert's enemies were here and he commanded me to root them out. I built his fleet and did his work, dutifully as a younger brother should be to an elder, as Renly should be to me. And what was Robert's thanks? He names me Lord of Dragonstone, and gives Storm's End and its incomes to Renly. Storm’s End belonged to House Baratheon for three hundred years; by rights it should have passed to me when Robert took the Iron Throne.”  Stannis waved his rant away.  This wasn’t the time to examine old injustices.  “The Targaryen loyalists have all gone to support their beloved Young Dragon – and that’s as it should be, no matter what I think or feel on the matter.  The only way they would have remained was under orders from Targaryen – and that is the last thing I would want going on among my own men.”

“Making a claim to the Throne would allow you to correct your brother’s wrongs, my Lord.”  Lady Melissandre pointed out softly, seductively.  “Your mother was a Targaryen; you are just as much a Dragon as you are a Stag.  You have a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne.”

Stannis smoothed the parchment in his hand out once more studying the words inked upon it.

“I’ve heard similar words before secondhand.”  Stannis commented, voice hard.  “They were the ones Jon Arryn used to place my brother on the Iron Throne, stepping in the blood of a Princess and her babes to do so.  I’ve no wish to ever hear them again, Melissandre.”  His eyes burned with inner fire as he looked up from the missive.  “Am I in any way unclear?”

“No, my Lord.”  The Red Woman bowed her head submissively.

Having heard and seen enough, Harry spoke as he seemed to the remaining quartet to melt from the wall.

“I’m afraid.”  Harry said drily, directing his words towards the Lord of Dragonstone.  “That you might not get your wish in that, Lord Stannis.”

“Who - how?!”  Multiple voices cried – all but the Lord’s own, Stannis’s eyes zeroing in at once on the cloak pin of a direwolf face a three-headed dragon on the opposite shoulder from a sigil-pin he did not recognize of a sword piercing a strangely elegant knot.

Stannis silenced them with a raised hand, preferring to not shout over his closest advisors.

“You’re a Targaryen man.”

“Yes, Lord Stannis.”  Harry gave an incline of his head.  “Lord Harry Potter-Black, Last of the Peverell Line.”  He waved towards the appraising Red Woman.  “Your Red Witch would know me as the Warrior-Who-Waits.”  Emerald eyes pinned her to the floor as her pale skin turned nearly transparent at his announcement.

“You are a powerful sorcerer.”  Melissandre observed, voice shaky.  “Effortless in your use of the magical arts.  Nothing ever written of the Warrior-Who-Waits mentioned this.”

Harry gave a little chuckle.

“I’d hope not.”  He quirked a brow.  “Considering all the effort the Kings of Winter underwent to keep the Prophecy regarding myself as well as my resting place a secret from those who might abuse it.”

Such as you and yours.  Was implied but not out-right stated.

The interaction between the two gave the others more reason for thought.  The Red Woman was widely considered the most powerful of Rh’llor’s servants.  For her to genuinely fear this Lord Potter-Black was a warning to any man with sense to heed it.

“Melissandre of Asshai.”  Harry’s voice was dangerous in its soft tenor.  “The rightful King of Westeros has ordered all followers of the Red god to the Wall, to support the Night’s Watch in the currently on-going battle against the Great Other.  If you wish to remain within the borders of Westeros, you will obey his order and take your acolytes capable of even a wisp of fire or holding a sword with you.”

“And if I do not?”  She arched a brow, appearing much like a cat hissing at the threat of a bath.

“Then I will remove you from Westeros.”  Harry shrugged, as if it made no difference to him…and honestly it really didn’t.  These were Jon’s orders, not his own desires.  “And make it so you can never return.”

Melissandre and the others sucked in a shocked breath at the threat.  The power such a thing must take…

There wasn’t a doubt in any of their minds that he was capable of it.

The Warrior-Who-Waits didn’t appear a man to make idle threats.

“I will go.”  The Red Woman nodded her head in submission.  “The Long Night comes and with it death…death for everyone and everything.  A great and lasting darkness will fall upon the land if the Great Other takes the lands.  I will do as the King commands and fight the darkness where it thrives.  For the Night is Dark and full of Terrors.”

Without saying a word, Harry reached out and grabbed her by the jaw staring deep into her eyes, his own starting to glow brighter and brighter as several long moments passed, the pressure of his magic felt by all those in his presence.

And then he looked away, releasing her, and the pressure was gone as if it had never been.

“You have until tomorrow morning, Priestess.”  Harry commanded.  “Then I will cast the spell to take you and your followers to the Wall.  One day.”  He held up a single finger.  “One.  That is all I will allow.”

Melissandre nodded once more and strode from the room as if on auto-pilot.

After she was gone, Maester Cressen spoke, shaken to his bones.

“What did you do to her?”

“Placed her under a gaes.”  Harry turned and moved to the painted table, resting his hands on the edge and studying it once more as the other men studied him in turn.  “To prevent her from attempting anything in the time she has left here.  It will also prevent her from running to another part of Westeros or attempting to flee the Wall once she arrives.  Melissandre is a fanatic.  And fanatics are most definitely not to be trusted.  Had I been even a day later she would have attempted – and likely succeeded – in burning the sept and the godswood.”

He pressed on finger hard against the painted surface of the table in emphasis.

“She is a dangerous being of little to no ethics or morals when it came to accomplishing her objective of converting or killing the people of Westeros.  I will not allow her to roam free.  My King is a follower of the old gods, therefore Melissandre is a threat that must be managed.”  His eyes glinted with his hidden power for a moment as he swept his gaze over the trio.  “I hope I am understood.”

“Perfectly.”  Stannis commented with carefully hidden humor.  “I would have done the same in your place and with your information.”

“Good.”  Harry said with a genial nod.  “Now, Lord Stannis.”  He reached into his cloak and removed a pair of parchments, one a missive the other an official scroll.  “I have come to ascertain your stance on the current political climate in Westeros.  With me I bring a message from your blood-kin King Jon I.”

Harry passed the missive sealed with Jon’s personal sigil over to the stern man, Stannis taking it with what to a trained eye appeared equal parts dread and anticipation.

The others allowed him to read it in peace and at his leisure, Harry idly chatting with Ser Davos about the seas to the East of Westeros and the Onion Knight’s unique injury while Maester Cressen appeared simply overwrought.

Before Stannis could finish reading the letter – and digesting its contents – the Maester excused himself with the charge of checking on the Lady Selsye’s nerves after the trying morning…not to mention the coming news of Melissandre’s forced defection to the Wall.

If the woman wasn’t watched she’d likely try and join the witch in her exile…for the Maester is fully aware that that was what it was, and found himself pleased by it if not unnerved by the manner in which it was accomplished.

“Do you know what is written here?”  Stannis asked Lord Harry, drawing the attention of the Targaryen loyalist and his own truest friend Ser Davos from their quiet conversation hovering near the location of the Narrow Sea and the Stepstones on the painted table.

Harry gave a noble incline of his head.

“I was there when it was written, Lord Stannis.”  He confirmed, voice calm and quiet.

“What is it, my Lord?”  Ser Davos asked, unable to read it for himself like many Lords’ trusted knight would have been able.

“This letter.”  Stannis couldn’t believe it himself, let alone know what to make of it.  “Asks that I swear myself to my blood-cousin’s cause.  For my allegiance and ‘best and honorable service to my kin’ I shall be granted Storm’s End and be made Lord Paramount of the Storm Lands.”

“He also will gain the title of Master of Law, with it a place on the Small Council.”  Harry added, proving his knowledge and close companionship to the Young Dragon.  “His daughter will be made Heiress after him and a worthy match provided to seal the alliance.”

“And in return all I have to do is support the true king of Westeros.”  Stannis was almost tempted to laugh.  “Take back my rightful inheritance in the Storm Lands, and return a holding and lordship I never wanted back to its rightful inheritor.”

Davos’s eyes widened as he had a clear ‘ah-hah’ moment.

“The King wants Dragonstone.”

Harry did laugh.  “The King wants Dragonstone.”  He agreed.  “It is my plan that I treat with his Aunt, Daenerys Stormborn, rightful Princess of Dragonstone, and return her to their ancestral seat until another heir is sired when she will be able to choose to remain or go to another of their House holdings as she desires – unless she chooses to wed before then.”

“You’ll be his Hand.”  Stannis said in a moment of blunt clarity.  “Mark my words, Lord Potter-Black.  If you both survive this war, my cousin the King will make you his Hand of the King.  Now,” he leaned forward.  “What’s this about taking Storm’s End and confirming Shireen as my Heiress…”

Later that day after conceding that crossing into Essos wasn’t viable at this time, Harry set up his tent once more in the godswood after refusing all offers of a room and then took himself off to the Maester’s chambers.

He’d spent hours discussing plans with Stannis and Davos regarding plans to take Storm’s End, along with how Jon plans to keep Dragonstone secure once Stannis and his men and family take their leave.  The three of them had taken a meal together, then Davos had shown him to Shireen’s room so that Harry could get a first-hand look at the greyscale that afflicted her.  Even with his diagnostic spells, Harry still didn’t have a firm grasp on the disease, hence his seeking out Maester Cressen who had nursed her through the initial bout, the girl surviving save for her disfigurement.

But said disfigurement was an issue.

Not for Harry, and certainly not for Davos, but Harry knew it was for others including her father.

Survival of the incurable disease carried a stigma Harry was all-too-familiar with from living once-upon-a-time in a land plagued with diseases that left those afflicted open to the worst sorts of mockery, mental illness being one of the worst, as he’d experienced for himself when the press made him out to be mad or a delusional liar.

It hurt him that a girl who was otherwise perfectly healthy had had to deal with such small-mindedness.

For that reason alone, he would’ve given healing Shireen his best effort, even if political issues and pride weren’t at stake.

Finally reaching the Maester’s chambers in one of the dragon-shaped towers, Harry rapped sharply on the door, entering when bid by the elderly man.

It was time to get a crash-course in greyscale.

5 days gone.

Harry’s Patronus flew away towards Castle Black, giving the Lord Commander a much-needed warning (likely after shocking the life out of him), mere minutes before Melissandre’s time was about to run out.

Coming into the great hall centered under the Stone Drum of Dragonstone, Harry saw that the Red Witch was standing proud before a small congregation of two dozen men, each attired for the North and with a bag and a sword.  For her part, the Priestess was in her standard red, a bag resting demurely at her booted feet.  Slowly descending the steps, Harry sent out tendrils to anchor the gaes to Melissandre’s men as well as herself, twining in a command to do no harm to Maester Aemon.

He wasn’t fool enough to leave a practitioner of dark blood arts near a ready supply of powerful royal blood and just hope for the best.

That was a Dumbledore move, not that of a sensible wizard.

“Are you ready, Priestess?”  Harry asked, coming to stand before her, ignoring that in her boots she was taller than him.

Freaking Westeros.

Damn-near-everyone was taller than him.

“We are, Warrior.”  The Red Woman gave a regal incline of her head.

“Very well.”  Harry took out the Elder want and conjured a length of rope, instructing them all to grab hold of it and any possessions they wished to take with them.  “This will make you sick.”  He warned.  “The journey won’t be pleasant but it will be fast.  And whatever you do, don’t let go.”

“As you will, Lord Potter-Black.”

Tapping the rope with his wand he intoned: “Portus,” followed immediately by the password: “Castle Black.”

Gasps went up from around the watching audience as the group disappeared from sight, as if they were never there to begin with.

Harry rolled his shoulders, feeling a weight lift off of them, then went to join Lord Stannis and his most trusted men in the Chamber of the Painted Table to break their fast and make preparations for the taking of Storm’s End.

6 days gone, 4 days left to return.

Ser Davos found the strange Lord Potter-Black alone – for once – in the Chamber of the Painted Table.

The smuggler-turned-Knight had to credit the wizard-warrior, he was dedicated.

No other man Davos had ever met would have taken the time to play with and comfort the little poppet Shireen, not even her father Lord Stannis as disloyal as that thought was.  All the Maesters and supposed “healers”, all the learned men and wise-women that Davos’s liege lord had brought to see her, and not one had truly cared for the girl.  No, all they saw when they looked at sweet, smart Shireen was a grotesque to pity and gold to line their pockets with promises of a cure.

When he wasn’t shut away with Stannis and his captains and knights planning and strategizing the taking of Storm’s End, Lord Potter-Black had been speaking with the Maesters regarding what they’d done for Shireen, or combing through their books and tomes, even searching out and finding some of the hidden caches of Targaryen scrolls and tomes that Stannis had known were hidden in the fortress but had never been able to locate.

All to help a little girl who had spent far too much time alone and locked away.

“Begging your pardon, milord.”  Ser Davos brought his thoughts into order and announced his presence to the distracted warrior.  “You seem troubled.  It is the grayscale or the siege?”

Harry laughed hollowly.

“No,” he shook his head tiredly.  He’d spent too much time on Dragonstone.  If he pushed himself to the limit he might be able to cross the Narrow Sea and find one or the other of the missing Targaryens.  Or to do what he really wanted which was get a dragon’s-eye-view of the makeup of his new world.

The wizard in him felt, well, crippled by his inability to travel when and where he pleased.

In the old world, he could program a portkey or Apparate blind to set points, he just had to feel for the magic in the designated portkey terminal or Apparation spot, or even just with a set of coordinates.

But Westeros and “The Known World” weren’t set up like that.  They hadn’t advanced to the point of standardized measurements and coordinates, longitude and latitude didn’t exist.  And there was no map accurate enough for Harry to be able to just take a glance and go.

The only way for Harry to gain the freedom of movement and travel he had taken for granted in Britain and Earth for that matter was for him to fly over the lands and memorize the landscape using Occlumency.

He had no other solution to the problem.

As it was, the only way he was going to be able to return to Jon’s side was because of the dagger he’d given him.  He’d set a spell into it when he’d noticed Jon’s preoccupation with it that allowed it to be used as what was basically a portable Apparation point.  A beacon for lack of a better term.

Sansa’s necklace would function much in the same way, as would the gaes he’d placed on Melissandre and her followers.

It was a tactic he didn’t like, it smacked of too much like the manipulations and controlling behavior he’d been subjected to before waking in Westeros for him to be at ease with it.  But it was necessary.  And shockingly easy without all the interference from other magic users.

Magic was so different here that his own personal usage of it made it easy to track.

That would change the longer he was awake and the more magic he used, but for the moment it was as if he had an internal map of the world with his own magic bright red pins piercing it.

It was how he knew Jon was indeed making very good time towards Greywater Watch and the Northern Armies…and the cause of his current debate, which Ser Davos had noted and was being very good about letting him struggle silently for long moments, patiently waiting for Harry to speak some more.

“It’s…”  Harry gave a gusty sigh, sweeping an arm to encompass the Painted Table and the locations of troops and men and commanders that he and Stannis and the others had been laboring over for the past two days when he wasn’t dealing with Melissandre or trying to help the little girl.  “All this.”  He shook his head.  “My King asked me to come and deliver his message, to be his envoy to his cousin-of-the-blood Lord Stannis.  I allowed myself to become distracted while here and am now facing a difficult choice.”

“Perhaps another opinion might help things become clear?”  Davos suggested.  It was the least he could do as he was well aware that it was mostly trying to help the little poppet that had distracted the King’s man.

“I had plans to travel East, across the sea to Essos.”  Harry confided in the Onion Knight.

“Ah,” Davos nodded, he’d seen the wanderlust that was lurking in the other man.  He’d thought that might be the reason the King had sent such a powerful ally to treat with Stannis, allowing a man from the Far North to see more than the ice and snow and trees of Winterfell and the Wall.  But perhaps he’d been mistaken and there was something more to it.  More to this man than just a trusted confidant wrapped in a powerful weapon.  “But you have a duty to the King that prevents this?”

Harry sighed.  If only it was that simple.

“I do all I do.”  Harry said slowly, tasting each word for veracity as it left him.  “To serve the betterment of the people of Westeros, at the behest of the King.  It was my desire to travel southron when King Jon would have preferred I stay at his side.  But we both knew there were opportunities that might be missed or overlooked if I did not leave.”

Davos had to nod in agreement with that.  Without Lord Harry’s intervention, Lady Selsye and her red witch might have convinced his lord to commit treason and try for the Throne.  Davos was aware enough to realize that such an action would not have sat well with him or his lord when there was a true claimant rather than a handful of hopefuls squabbling over Robert’s tainted legacy.

They would have failed, likely at great cost, because neither Lord Stannis’s nor his men’s hearts would have truly been behind such a move.

No matter what sorcery the red witch worked upon them.

“And now,” Harry continued, head slumping with strain.  “I face the enemy of all men: time.  Even I have my limits and must make decisions based on the best use of my time.  Which this day is forcing me to make a choice: East to cross the Narrow Sea and perhaps locate a possible ally or,” Harry swept his arm once more over the painted table.  “Stay here in the West and find out for myself just where the armies belonging to my King’s enemies are – and more importantly how they are numbered.”

The Onion Knight moved to the other man’s side and clapped one hand on his shoulder.

“I know I’m just a lowly Ser and a former criminal.”  Davos said, with his calm demeanor.  “And I have a stake in which you choose as one of those options would mean better preparations for battles I’ll likely have a part in.  But only you can decide which it more important at this very moment: a possibility of an ally or knowing with certainty the full measure of your King’s enemies.”  Davos buffeted his shoulder lightly.  “I think I know which you’ll choose, having come to know some of your character these past few days Lord Harry.  And my mind hopes that I’m right.”  He gave the other man a commiserating grin when troubled green eyes peered up at him.  “But the heart of a man who never quite managed to give up the sea hopes I’m wrong.”

With that Ser Davos left the Warrior-Who-Waits to his brooding over the map, looking back as the door closed behind him to see one elegant, long-fingered hand reach out and pick up the banner Stannis had had made with Harry’s personal sigil and place it next to the three-headed dragon with a sigh.

There would be time.

As he took off from Dragonstone with a massive thrust of his powerful wings, initial take-off boosted for ease by his magic, Harry had to believe that there would be time to travel East.

Wars, especially wars of mounted horse, foot soldiers, and protracted sieges, were long and often costly affairs, both in gold spent and lives lost.

There would be time for him to fly across the Narrow Sea to Essos and find the truth of the other Targaryens.

Maybe he would seek out the Smoking Sea and the ruins of Old Valyria or the Shadow Lands where magic and dragons were still supposed to exist in ways that had been nearly snuffed out in Westeros.  The secondhand knowledge he’d gained from Jon whispered of islands filled with basilisks, manticores, and even unicorns if Harry would but take the time and find them.  To the East there were great and terrible places to visit and sights to see.

It could be that there was even more to this new life than what was known.

Lands beyond Westeros, Essos, Sothoryos, and the Summer Isles.

Harry huffed out a laugh that was tinged with smoke at the thought of becoming the Westerosi equivalent of Leif Erikkson.

The next several days were spent exploring Westeros by air, occasionally landing to better scout an area on foot or to rest.  Sometimes he let himself be seen, and reveled in the shrieks of fear as men in full-plate tried to run or were unseated when their horses threw them in terror.  Other times stealth was more vital than causing the kingdoms to remember the dragons that united them – and that the dragons had returned.

He had to appreciate the cunning of Renly Baratheon when he saw how neatly and easily the claimant to the throne had cut off travel to King’s Landing and the Westerlands via the Roseroad.  For the first time since waking he’d gotten a look at the size of forces a King could command in Westeros and was reluctantly impressed.  The Tyrell-Baratheon alliance had yielded a massive force…one that was apparently content to let the Lannisters and Stark-Targaryens fight it out before swooping in and taking down the weakened forces left behind.

It was cunning.

Something would have to be done about it.

But so long as Renly Baratheon and Mace Tyrell parked their arses in the Reach, there wasn’t much Harry could do, nor did he really have an idea of how to handle it.

Harry’d trained for what was basically the magical equivalent of guerrilla warfare.

Incursions against enemy forces, taking a city or a castle, harrying enemy troop movements and supply lines, those things he knew how to do.  Stannis – a more seafaring commander than a field one – had certainly appreciated Harry’s knowledge on how to best use Stannis’s childhood at Storm’s End to the Baratheon-Martell force that was going to attack it.  Even snatch-and-grabs for rescues or hostage-taking, Harry knew.

Not entrenched warfare between massive armies of foot soldiers, war machines, and mounted horse.

All he knew about those was what he’d learned in his muggle history classes as a child or from the telly – so not much at all.

Jon or one of his Lords or commanders would be able to make use of the information Harry had on the Reach army.  He hoped.  Otherwise he’d pissed away a day flying circles around the kingdom.

And he really hoped a scout had already told the Stark-Targaryen forces about the split Lannister army.  Else he didn’t think they’d be able to make use of his information in time to prevent being flanked.  He’d seen that most recently after taking a winged tour of Casterly Rock and its defenses along with getting a peek at which of the Westerland castles and holdfasts were most heavily garrisoned.

Between the Reach and the Westerlands, Harry had flown northwest to Pyke and the Iron Islands, raising a draconic brow at the fleet of heavy dromonds and longships that were floating out of sight of the Ironborn fleet.  The islands were surrounded and as far as Harry could tell, they didn’t have the slightest idea.

As the ships all flew either the Targaryen standard or the bear of House Mormont, Harry had a damn good reckoning of just who had ordered that preemptive measure.

Jon groaned as he rolled over onto his side after another night on cold, hard ground.

It was a hard fortnight’s ride from Winterfell to the Twins, and he’d pushed him and his five-hundred horse even harder to shave several days off the trip.  A good thing, as a raven had found him at one of the stops along the way with news that Robb and the easily mustered half of the northern army had made it through Greywater Watch and would be making the Twins within days.  Robb had originally only called up enough banners to break a siege, not a long, protracted war.

Ravens had been sent out to muster the remaining men, Jon knew that Lord Howland Reed had met Robb with himself at the head of 5,000 men, including over a three thousand archers, when Robb had finally found him in the Neck.  Lord Manderley was another who had been prepared, as a close ally of Ned Stark, he captained a fleet of over fifty ships and close to five thousand soldiers and sailors that were already on their way to Dragonstone and will blockade the Blackwater.

But the remaining northern bannermen and their forces wouldn’t make the Neck in time to break the siege, the best they could hope for was reinforcement after the fact.

For a moment Jon thought wistfully of Harry and his mission as well as the twenty-five hundred men they’d left behind at Winterfell.  He shook it off.  He’d left Ser Crispan along with Ser Dystan Massey and Aurane Waters behind for a reason, one they should be well on their way to carrying out.

Once their own mission was done, Cris and Aurane would march out with fifteen-hundred of the foot soldiers and hold Moat Cailin and the Neck against an attempt at an attack on the North.

With a sigh, Jon climbed to his feet and strapped himself into his armor after seeing to his morning needs.

So far everything had gone somewhat well with claiming the throne.  The deaths, his beloved uncle’s included, had all stemmed from hostilities between the Tullys and Lannisters, not his direct claim to the throne.  But the one thing he’d learned from studying warfare was that his thoroughly prepared plans weren’t like to survive the first contact with the Lannister host.

Meeting his Kingsguard ready and waiting near the fire, Jon accepted a hot mug of mead and some dried apples and salt pork.  Nodding his thanks to Ser Oswell for the food, he gave the order to break camp.

Throwing his leg over the saddle and taking the reins in one hand as he finished breaking his fast, Jon grumbled good-naturedly to his father’s closest friend the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Ser Arthur Dayne:

“Harry better get his arse here or he’s going to miss the war altogether.”  He japed, only to start and turn in the saddle at the dry response coming from behind him.

“The way events are moving,” Harry rolled his eyes, leaning forward on his horse’s pommel.  Well, he called it his horse, really it was one of the horses Jon had brought to Castle Black and then let Harry use but…semantics.  “I would have to travel all the way to the Shadow Lands and back to miss this war.”

Though Harry still didn’t think that was possible with the speed he could fly and judicious use of portkeys and Apparation.

Still…

It would be a fascinating challenge to see how long it would take him to do it, making a trip that takes years to go there and back in a week or perhaps a bit longer.

“Harry!”  Jon gave him a blinding smile, reaching out to smack his shoulder affectionately.  “Calling it close, how long have you been back?”  And why didn’t Harry or the Kingsguard inform him.

“Don’t blame your minders, Jon.”  Harry snarked, knowing full well what Jon was thinking.  “They didn’t know as I arrived late in the night and set up camp away from the rest.  Besides,” Harry smirked.  “I was keeping an eye…of sorts…on you.  I knew when I’d need to come back to beat your meeting with your cousin Lord Robb.”

Jon held up a hand and ordered the men to move out, riding side-by-side with his lover as the two talked in low voices.

“Any word?”

“Yes,” Harry whispered back.  “Nothing that can’t wait until the coming war council, save one or two things for your ears alone.  I had to make some…unauthorized…decisions in a few places.  But I have reports on troop movements, army sizes, an alliance, and a spy in King’s Landing.”

The King sat back in the saddle, honestly shocked at the amount of work Harry had gotten done in less than a fortnight.

“Did you make it to Essos?”

“No,” Harry shook his head, tone mournful.  “Not enough time.  I had to choose getting a dragon’s-eye-view of Westeros or going on a dragon-chase in Essos.  Of the two, Westeros is more pressing.”

“Thank you for that, lover.”  Jon whispered, leaning closer in his saddle to speak nearly in the ebon-haired man’s ear.  “I know how bad you want to go and explore the truth of the stories I shared with you.”

“Dragons, basilisks, and manticores?”  Harry gave a half-smile.  “Sounds like my kind of place.  But for now at least, I was woken for a purpose – both by you and the gods.  I mean to see it through.  Essos will still be there after the siege is broken and the Lannisters repelled.”

Without further ado, Harry handed over the missive from Lord Stannis, Jon taking it with equal parts anticipation and anxiety, nearly mirroring the other man’s reaction to getting a letter from a Targaryen.

Ripping it open, Jon scanned it furiously before letting out a most-un-kingly whoop of exhilaration.

“You beauty!”  Jon crowed, nearly falling out of the saddle as he threw his arms around Harry, giving him a smacking kiss to the corner of his mouth, the Kingsguard crying out in warning as Jon was stretched between the two horses before righting himself and waving off their concerns.  “You glorious, glorious creature!”  He chimed, waving the open letter in his exuberance.  “This almost makes all those cold, lonely nights without you worth it.”

“If bringing you Dragonstone on a silver platter isn’t worth my absence for less than a fortnight.”  Harry jibed.  “I wonder what sort of treasure you’ll demand should I ever venture to Essos?  A fleet of dromonds filled with gold, jewels, and other treasures?  An army of Dothraki screamers?”

“A dragon.”  Jon arched a knowing brow as he answered the facetious question.  “Bring me a dragon – other than your wonderful, glorious self, and I would forgive nearly any transgression.  Even one so grievous as denying me the comfort of yourself for weeks on end.”

“Hmm.”  Harry flicked the King a flirtatious glance from under lowered lashes.  It was a good thing he had a lead on where to find a trio of his spirit animal then, no matter how small they were at the moment.  The size of cats? According to the Master of Whispers.

It was no matter.

They would grow soon enough.

Dragons always did, unless they were twisted and stunted somehow like some of the skeletons he found in the bowels of the Red Keep, the discovery of which – and the implications that arose from his snoopery – were some of the things they needed to discuss with true privacy.

Harry was an excellent wizard but trying to maintain a moving silencing ward while on horseback was more of a fiddly piece of magic than he wanted to muck about with when he was coming off of days of nearly non-stop flight and heading into what promised to be a massive battle.

If it wasn’t for the ease of siphoning the natural magic of Westeros into himself there was no way he would’ve been able to augment the speed of his dragon, let alone keep doing so as long as he had in addition to using magic to deal with the Red Woman, enchant items to keep Lady Sansa safe, and work on healing Lady Shireen.  The constant nightmares hadn’t made resting all that easy either, whether they were repeating scenes from the glimpse at fate Death had given him or old nightmares from his past, it kept him from recharging the way he should when he slept.

Which wasn’t often, Harry having felt the spur of advancing time since his arrival at Dragonstone.

“I’ll have to take that under consideration.”  Harry said lightly as they crest the hill that overlooked the Twins and the army camped below the duel castles that guarded the main crossing of the Trident.  A frown flitted over Harry’s handsome face as the ghosts he’d encountered in his dreamscape reappeared in his mind’s eye.

Come what may, he’d been left with a constant feeling that nagged at him anew as he saw the Frey stronghold for the first time from the ground rather than the air: danger and darkness lurked here.

“Jon?”  Harry asked for the King’s attention quietly as the Targaryen knights and mounted horse swung out around them banners held high, surrounding the pair and the members of the Kingsguard as a group of men mounted on destriers rode to meet them.

“Yes, Harry?”  Jon turned his head from drinking in the sight of the beginnings of his army to meet his lover’s worried green eyes.

“Be careful, here.”  Harry warned him, the scent of old blood filling his nostrils for several long moments.  His eyes darted restlessly from Jon’s gaze to the Twins and the army nestled down below it.  “Something about this place…”  He shook his head, unable to explain it in a way that would make sense of the other man.  “Just be careful.”

“I hear you, Harry.”  Jon nodded solemnly, taking his words to heart.  “Lord Frey is known to be a grasping and craven man.  I will watch my step and my words.”  He gave a grin to the Kingsguard who were listening to the pair while simultaneously watching the approaching party.  “And the Kingsguard will watch my flank.”

“That is all I ask, my King.”  Harry gave him a small smile, eyes lightening for a moment before going back to watching all around them with a hard look.

He blinked in shock as the group approaching came within sight.

Harry knew that face.  It was one that had haunted his dreams and waking thoughts since Dragonstone.  Only this time it was very much alive and all-but-beaming in delight at the sight of Jon rather than drawn and pale in death.

The man Harry recognized spoke as the party drew rein a few paces from them.

“Hail King Jon Stark-Targaryen, the first of his name!”  The man shouted in a resounding tenor, voice ringing with respect and joy.  “Be welcome to the Army of the North!  We await your orders, your Grace!”

The riders with him pounded on their shields, sending up a cacophony and shouting:

Dragon of the North!  Dragon of the North!  Dragon of the NORTH!

Jon held up his hands in a calming gesture, inclining his head in thanks to the Lords of the North.

“We thank our cousin, Lord Robb Stark for the welcome.”  Jon said with regal control.  “As well as these Lords of the North.  Let us meet in council.”  Nodding to Robb, he said: “At your leisure, Cousin Robb.”

“Aye, your Grace.”  Robb gave a mischievous grin.  “Cousin Jon.  Your men are welcome to set up camp around the central area we’ve kept clear for your arrival.  While they do allow me to show you to the accommodations we’ve prepared in anticipation of your arrival as word is sent for the rest of the Lords and commanders to gather.”

“Very well,” Jon waved his hand.  “Lead the way.”

“How’s the morale of the men?”  Was one of the first questions out of Jon’s mouth after all had been gathered for the needed war council.  All of the Northern Lords had gathered, many bringing their sons and heirs as well as any knights or commanders of renown.

The Northmen and Jon’s own Targaryen loyalists who hailed mainly from the crownlands and Dorne all eyed each other warily – some more than others.

Most couldn’t believe their eyes when they entered the tent and saw the thought-long-dead members of the Kingsguard Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent, and Prince Lewen Martell.  Even Ser Mark Ryswell, a Northman supposedly dead at the Tower of Joy, alive and bearing a white cloak.  A few of them had heard rumors that the late Ned Stark had been doing more than preparing his Lords for a clash with the southron king, but they’d never thought the stoic, honorable, Ned Stark had been capable of playing so deep a game.  Though many of them weren’t surprised, the southron lords and kings liked to forget, thinking they’ve muzzled the direwolves, but the North remembers.

Many a Northern babe was weaned on the stories of the Kings of Winter who had ruled unchecked and unchallenged for over eight thousand years.

You didn’t do that through honor alone.

No.

A family like that – a dynasty like that – had to have a nerve and spine of steel, and the ferociousness to back it up.

Now through Benjen Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen the might of the direwolves had been wedded and bedded into the fire of the dragons who had gotten the stiff-necked Starks to bend the knee almost three-hundred years ago.

Dragons had won the North, and now a dragon was going to show the southron lords why discounting and disregarding the North as without power or nerve was a deadly mistake to make.

“Could be better, Cousin.”  Lord Robb Stark admitted after exchanging a glance with a few of his more outspoken lords such as Greatjon and Smalljon Umber and Lord Karstark.  “Weeks stymied at Moat Cailin waiting for Greywater Watch to pass and then being stuck again at the Twins while we wait for Lord Frey to pull his head out hasn’t been easy.  Plus, news has come that Tywin Lannister has marched North after sacking everything south of Harrenhal, including the castle itself.  He means to engage us here and cut us off from breaking the siege at Riverrun.”

“How do you know this?”  Ser Gerold ‘Darkstar’ Dayne leaned forward intently, his beautiful face shadowed by his silver hair with its streak of black.  A fierce knight with a wicked reputation, Jon didn’t trust him anywhere but where his cousin Ser Arthur could keep a wary eye on him.

He was the sort of knight that lusted for glory and advancement, and one that didn’t much care how he got it.  Unleashing a man like him without someone to hold his chain would be tantamount to begging to be betrayed.  A situation neither Jon nor Arthur had any intention of allowing, especially with Lord Edric Dayne missing alongside Lady Allryia Dayne’s betrothed Lord Beric Dondarrion.

Neither man had been seen since late Lord Eddard Stark sent them after the Mountain the Rides.

Rumor had it that the Mountain slew them, but no bodies or even horse or armor had ever been recovered before the Riverlands came under siege and Ned Stark was executed.

“Caught ourselves a scout.”  Greatjon Umber boomed in his larger-than-life voice that matched his massive-grizzled-bear appearance.  The Greatjon was Robb Stark’s most ardent supporter after questioning the young Lord had cost him three fingers to the lad’s direwolf Grey Wind.  “Sent him back crawling to the Old Lion with a flea in his ear, we did.”

Jon arched a brow at Robb for an explanation as the Kingsguard and Targaryen loyalists exchanged surprised or concerned glances.

“He wasn’t the brightest.”  Robb said with a roll of his eyes.  “And to a man worried about keeping his hide intact, a report of 20,000 men and horse coming down via the Green Fork after being stymied at the Twins is a blessing that’ll keep his hide intact as he was released with his head still upon his shoulders – or at least allowed to escape.”

“Current count with his Grace’s knights put us at almost 24,000, Lord Stark.”  Harry commented, with voice calm as he studied the contrasts the Northern men made against the southron knights.  “Plus a…”  He smirked down at his seated lover who rolled his eyes.  “Surprise or two up our sleeves.”

“That would be the dragon we’ve had reports of, wouldn’t it?”  Lord Bolton leaned forward, a greedy light in his eyes.

Harry frowned lightly, before meeting the man’s strange blank eyes with his own probing gaze.  What he found behind that flat look sickened him.  Another topic to take up with Jon once they were alone.  This one was already planting seeds of betrayal amongst the Northern lords.  He was a threat that would have to be yanked out, stem and root, before his sickness was allowed to fester within the ranks.

If need be, Harry would deal with it himself, quietly.

Men died in battle by the droves.  One more that fell wouldn’t gain notice.  At least, not as long as he took care of it the smart way.

But it would all depend on Jon and how he wanted it handled.

Harry had never killed a man outside of Voldemort and the Death Eater skirmishes after the war.  If there was one thing he hated about the world he woke up to, it was that it was making a killer out of him, something Dumbledore and Tom had failed to do.  And Morgana knows they tried.

This was a different world than his last, a crueler, bloodier world, with no sheen of civilization or sophistication to gloss over the savage underbelly.

He would adjust.

He just hoped that would still be himself once everything was said and done and his fate was once more conquered.

Jon and Harry traded guarded looks.

“Of a sort.”  Was Jon’s clipped answer.  “I went into the Land of Always Winter for a reason, and now that it has been fulfilled I have returned.  I’ll tell you this.”  He gave the lords and knights a grim look.  “None of the lions will be ready for what we have to unleash.  Now,” he looked up at Harry.  “I do believe I’ve waited long enough for your report, Harry.  What have you learned on your travels?”

“Stannis accepted your terms.”  He began to murmurs of the lords and knights, many surprised that a Baratheon would bend the knee to a Targaryen.  “He has embraced his Targaryen blood and should, if things have gone along correctly, be meeting the Dornish fleet to ready the siege of Storm’s End.  Renly Baratheon as you know has joined with the Reach and the Tyrells and declared himself king, despite your Grace’s claim to the throne.”

The mutters turned angry at that.  For the lions to grasp at the crown was one thing, but Renly was only able to make a play for the throne through his Targaryen blood, the same as Robert.  By all rights he should have ceded to either Stannis or Jon, and not a northern lord nor Targaryen man would support him, making the youngest Stag have one hells of an uphill battle to fight.

“However,” Harry continued dryly.  “He’s a cunning little shit, I’ll give him that.  He’s going to try and wait, making a progress through the Reach to bolster his numbers and cut off the food supply to King’s Landing and the crownlands, and let our army and the Lions wear each other down before swooping in and tearing apart the remains.”

“But.”  Smalljon Umber said, a dawning look of realization on his shaggy face.  “With Stannis laying siege to the Storm Lands he’ll have to fight.  He’ll have no choice.”

“Baratheon doesn’t know that.”  Ser Gerold said speaking spitefully of the youngest Stag.  “It’d never occur to the ponce that his big brother would try and snatch his rightful inheritance from under Renly’s entitled arse.”

“Harry?”  Jon prompted.  “Did you meet with Renly while you were southron?”

“No.”  Harry shook his head, regretfully.  “There was no way to make that happen within the time limit.  He’s surrounded himself with what he calls his ‘Rainbow Guard’ and retainers, plus a force of 100,000 men and horse that’s only growing as he moves through the Reach.”

The Lords and knights roared as they heard the number of men Baratheon had to command.

However,” Harry shouted to be heard, the lords calming down at a motion from Jon.  “If I were a betting man I’d say that once Stannis takes Storm’s End in the name of his grace King Jon I Targaryen, Renly will run straight for King’s Landing and the Crownlands.  If he could take the city, with his force of numbers, he’d be able to hold it for years, especially if he can keep food coming in from the Reach.”

“We need to push the Lions southron.”  Robb spoke after several long moments as the war council considered Harry’s report.  “Force the two armies into an engagement the way Baratheon is trying to wait us out.  If we can break the siege of Riverrun we can force the Lions either back to the Westerlands or keep them pinned at Harrenhal and the southron Riverlands.”

“Exactly.”  Harry nodded, approving of the plan.  It was almost identical to the one Jon and he had already discussed as they waited for the lords to gather.

“And my Vale Lords?”  Jon asked, leaning forward.  Technically the Vale was still controlled by Jon Arryn’s son Robyn.  But there were rumors regarding Lysa Tully and her affection for Petyr Baelish that had many questioning the legitimacy of the boy, as with each passing year he grows more unstable and looks less like a man from the line of Arryn.

With Jon’s rightful claim to the Eyrie as Jon Arryn’s great-nephew, no matter what orders came from the Eyrie many were likely to support Jon as he took the Iron Throne.

“An army is making its way down the High Road as we speak.”  Harry smiled grimly.  It was one of the only good things he had to report beyond Stannis’s alliance.

“Excellent.”  Jon stood and started pointing to various spots on the map as he enlightened the war council as to the current state of his forces, including their men.  “With Stannis’s alliance, Lord Manderley will have no trouble blockading the Blackwater by sea with the northern fleet.”  Jon set the merman banner of House Manderley at the opening of the Blackwater to the Narrow Sea.  “And some of our loyal Targaryen forces will hold Dragonstone, using it as a base of operations for the fleet.  Stannis and a portion of the Dornish men led by Prince Oberyn Martell will move to take Storm’s End within a turn, while another contingent led by Prince Quentyn Martell clears out the riff raff from the Stepstones and retakes Bloodstone Castle for House Targaryen.”

Eyes widened at that, the Stepstones having been out of control for years, ever since a Targaryen king stopped garrisoning it.  Bloodstone Castle was an old Valaryian stronghold, much like Dragonstone.  If the Dornish could clear out the pirates, Jon would control commerce that needed to pass from the Narrow Sea into the Summer Sea and vice versa.

It had the potential to ruin the economy of the Reach and the Westerlands.

Which was undoubtedly the point.

Jon continued:

“Word has come that Balon Greyjoy has declared himself King,” the Targaryen scion sneered.  “Of the Iron Islands and the North.”

An uproar from the Northern lords liked to have deafened Harry, so great was their collective outrage.

“My lords, my lords!”  Ser Arthur Dayne stepped forward, calling for them to control themselves.

“Thank you, Ser Arthur.”  Jon nodded his head regally to the Lord Commander.  “As I was saying.”  Jon paused to give his lords a censuring look.  “Greyjoy has declared himself, but,” he stressed.  “Is currently pinned down in Pyke as our Targaryen Fleet was ready for such a maneuver and already stationed to blockade the Islands.”  Jon snorted.  “He didn’t wait to recall the Iron fleet nor that of his Ironborn Lords, most of whom were busy reaving the Westerlands under a Targaryen charter.  By the time they return,” Jon gave a vicious smirk.  “It will be to a King that has lost their home.  The Ironborn are currently outnumbered by over fifty ships and a thousand men.  The Greyjoys can choose the Wall or their heads, their lordship is finished.”

Theon Greyjoy, one of Robb’s closest friends and Heir to the Iron Islands made a strangling gasp at that pronouncement, gaining him a flat look from the King.

“Problem, Greyjoy?”  Jon demanded.

“No.”  Theon bit out, shoving back his rage.  “Your Grace.”

Turning away from the seething Theon, Jon turned back to the map.

“The rest of the Dornish fleet is making its way north, to reinforce the siege at Pyke.”  Jon said.  “Once the Iron Islands have fallen, and Stannis has taken Storm’s End, the Targaryen and Dornish fleets will move to blockade the Westerlands and the Reach.”  He swept his hands across the map with a flourish.  “After we break the siege at Riverrun, and the men of the Vale have met us, half the forces will force Tywin south while the rest move to take the West.  We will squeeze them.”  He stabbed a finger viciously against the location of Casterly Rock.  “And harry them until they climb back into their Rock.”

“Where the fleet will be waiting.”  Robb commented, a half-grin on his smooth face.  “They’ll have nowhere to run or hide.”

“Exactly.”  Harry nodded.  “But the crux of the matter is to force Tywin’s half of the Lannister forces south to meet Renly’s advance.  Even with reinforcements from the Vale and Dorne, Renly’s current army is just too vast to take on without a shit-ton of luck on our side.”

“Still.”  Robb shrugged, giving the other Lords a shit-eating grin.  “We do have a dragon on our side.”

“Dragon or no dragon.”  Jon said once all the lords and knights had gotten a chuckle out of that.  “I’ve no intention of winning the Seven Kingdoms the same way my forefathers did.  They won with dragons and then what?”  He demanded of the lords.  “A mere two hundred and eighty years, give or take, before they were overthrown.  Men of Westeros may fear dragons but they respect strength of arms, and that is how I will take back what is rightfully mine.”  He spoke with passion, raising the blood of every sword-wielding man there.  “By strength of arms and with the blade of my sword!”  He shouted, slamming one fist down on the table.  “With Fire and Blood!  We will take the Iron Throne!”

“Dragon in the North!”  The lords shouted once more.

“THE DRAGON IN THE NORTH!”

Jon sat back, reveling in the shouts and chants of the men, the force outside the tent walls picking up the refrain.

His lover leaned down and whispered in his ear.

“And you doubted them.”  Harry breathed.  “These are your men, your Grace.”  He smiled against ebony hair.  “Jon Targaryen, the first of your Name.  King of the First Men.”

“Yes, they’re mine.”  Jon agreed to Harry under his breath.  “Now I just need to get them across the fucking Trident!”

Later that day found Harry along with Lord Robb Stark and an honor guard which included Ser Oswell Whent of the Kingsguard, riding up to the Twins to treat with Lord Walder Frey.

He was anxious at taking Robb Stark with him, if only from the nightmares the man had starred in over the last fortnight.

The Twins still gave him a shudder, Harry had to use Occlumency to hide his unease from his companions.  It wouldn’t do for the King’s trusted right-hand to be jumping out of his skin at the thought of entering an unknown situation.  As they rode, Robb filled him in on Lord Walder Frey and the history of House Frey.

Finishing with:

“…my mother always said that my grandfather called him “The Late Walder Frey.”  Robb summed up.  “His family has a history of not taking sides until battles are nearly decided and then trying to steal glory.”  The young northern Lord sneered at the very thought.  “Cravens, the lot.”  He snorted.  “Better to stay neutral altogether than try and claim rewards that weren’t yours to begin with.”

“As you say.”  Harry nodded before asking:  “Bad blood between the Tullys and Freys then?”

“You could say that.”  Robb shifted restlessly in his saddle as a small group of Frey knights rode out to meet them and escort them to their Lord.  “Lord Hoster refused a match recently between my uncle Edmure and any of Lord Frey’s many daughters or granddaughters.”

Harry winced at that.  It was no less than a slap in the face to the Freys, who were one of the most powerful of the Riverlords despite being a relatively young House.  He was starting to get an idea about how the massacre in his dreaming vision might have come about.

“Their standing with the rest of the Houses King Jon has won?”

“Shaky.”  Robb said with a shake of his handsome auburn head.  “The Freys aren’t widely liked or respected despite their wealth and influence.  Their closest alliance is with the Lannisters, Lord Walder’s second son Emmon married Genna Lannister, Lord Tywin’s sister, though Lord Tywin disapproved of the match at the time.”

“Hmm.”  Harry commented, speaking too low for the approaching Frey men to overhear.  “Jon hasn’t asked for anything less than a miracle with this endeavor, has he?”

“No,” Robb gave a chuckle.  “A miracle may be what it takes, all of my overtures were spurned.  It wasn’t until scouts reported Jon’s coming that the Frey’s sent for a parlay.”

“Wonderful.”  Harry cursed under his breath before greeting the Frey party, which included the second son that Robb had just spoken of.

“Lord Robb Stark,” Emmon Frey nodded curtly towards the Lord Paramount of the North, his face sour enough to curdle milk.  “My father, the Lord of the Crossing, welcomes your party to the Twins.  Follow me.”

They were shown in silence through the halls of the first castle, where Walder Frey lived in opulence if not good taste. 

Emmon Frey led them into a large open hall, at the head of which, blind, toothless Lord Walder Frey sat in state, his newest wife, taken a few turns before on his ninetieth name-day at his side with about half of his hundred legitimate children and grandchildren arrayed at his side and at tables spread throughout the room.  Knights and guards lined the walls, staring stonily out at the party of northern men and the sole member of the Kingsguard.  For his part, Harry was thrown back into that night at Dragonstone, where the ghostly figures of a murdered Robb Stark and his direwolf – who even now padded along silently at Robb’s side to much consternation and even fear from the Frey’s – and the scent of old blood filled his senses.

“Lord of the Crossing, Lord Walder Frey,” his eldest son and heir Stavron Frey stood and took charge of the gathering as Emmon stepped aside with poor manners at being upstaged once more by his elder and much-beloved brother.

Harry was already sneaking out the rifts in the united fabric the Freys were trying to present, eyes darting to-and-fro as he sensed the general current of thought among them.

Many were grasping and avaricious, mostly thinking of what they can demand to allow the northern army to cross.

But none so much as their Lord.

Of them all, Harry would chuck the lot.

Except, perhaps, for Ser Stavron who was still speaking.

There, at least, seemed to be one Frey worth redeeming.  Only time would tell if more were to be found among the grasping, greedy offspring of the Lord of the Crossing.  Time that Harry wasn’t sure he had.

Jon’s entire campaign hinged on making this Crossing.

Harry would ensure it for him, if he had to kill every last Frey there.

And the truth of that ruthlessness inside him scared him down to his toes.

Westeros was changing him, in both subtle and unsubtle ways.

And it terrified him.

“…greets Lord of the North Robb Stark and the envoys for the joined North and Targaryen armies.”  Stavron said grandly.  “Who greets the Lord of the Crossing?”

Robb stepped forward.

“The Lord of the North greets the Lord of the Crossing.”  Robb said correctly.  “Along with the Lord of Always Winter, Lord Harry Potter-Black, right hand of the true King, King Jon Targaryen, first of his name.  With us are Ser Oswell Whent, knight of the Kingsguard, Ser Smalljon Umber, Ser Cley Cerwyn, and Ser Rickard Karstark.”

“Lord of Always Winter?”  Lord Walder Frey wheezed, a scoffing look on his aged and sagging face.  “Who are you Lord of?  Wildlings, direwolves, and giants?”

The gathered Freys joined in their lord’s derisive laughter, to much disdain from the northern knights, Robb, and Ser Oswell.

Harry simply answered him mildly, not allowing the old bastard to have the pleasure of getting his goat.

“You might find, Lord Frey.”  He said, Grey Wind surging forward with a growl at a joint gesture from Harry and Robb.  “That being a lord over direwolves is worth more than a southron army.”  Grey Wind snarled and snapped, making several ladies cry out in fear or even faint at the sight.

“Hush, Grey Wind.”  Robb commanded once the laughter had cut off abruptly, the direwolf falling silent immediately at the command, twirling with a flourish of his tail and trotting back to his human’s side.

“Moreover.”  Harry continued as if hadn’t just implicitly threated the Lord of the Crossing.  “Title or not, I am the right hand of the King.  You would do well to respect that, if you respect nothing else, Late Lord Frey.”

“Late Lord Frey, this man calls me.”  Walder Frey huffed to his offspring.  “And yet he wanted to treat with me to open the gates of the Twins and allow him and an army passage over the Trident.  Why should I allow such a thing, when he and others like him spit on the name of Frey?  Why I…”

Before the Lord of the Crossing could continue, Harry cut him off at the pass.

“There will be no negotiation.”  Harry’s voice could freeze the land from whence he came.  “No treating.”

“Then why have you come, Lord of Always Winter?”  Lord Frey sneered, spitting at where he heard them stop in contempt.

“To take your measure, Lord Frey.”  Harry answered.  “And order you to open the gates of the Twins for crossing.  This is not another Lord you are testing, Lord Frey.”  He reminded them all.  “This is a King, a scion of the Dragons and of House Targaryen.  King Jon will not bring you gold and marriages and honors for doing your duty.  But he will bring you Fire and Blood if you do not.”  He warned.  “You have until dawn tomorrow to make your decision.”  He swept his gaze meaningfully to Ser Stavron.  “I hope for the sake of your children and descendants that it’s the right one, else House Frey will go the way of King Harren the Black, another man who thought he could take a stand against the dragons.”

Robb stared between his cousin Jon, who he’d thought he knew better than any other man living, and his cousin’s new ‘right-hand’ Lord Harry, completely mystified by what had gone on between Lord Harry and Lord Frey.

“Why?”  Robb asked helplessly, completely at sea with this new, ruthless version of the man who’d grown up at his side.  Jon had always been a bit…cold…much like Robb’s father Ned.  But Robb had blamed that on his mother Catelyn’s disdain for his cousin.  He never even considered that one day Jon might try for the Iron Throne, or if he did what it might mean.  Perhaps he should have.  Then the way Jon was acting wouldn’t have been such a shock to his system.

This wasn’t the same boy that had left Winterfell at his father’s behest.

No.

That much had been made clear to him.

What remained to be seen was what place Robb would have in the life of the man and king that had replaced said boy.

Once, he was firm in knowing that he was Jon’s closest friend.

Now that confidence is gone, and with it much of his security in where he stood with Jon, both as a friend and cousin.

He’d also taken note of a most…strange…closeness between Jon and Lord Harry.  It was almost as if…  No.  It couldn’t be.  Jon would’ve told him if he preferred males to females like his father and bearer…wouldn’t he have?

“Why what?”  Jon asked as he brushed one hand down Ghost’s back in an absent gesture of affection as he and Harry poured over missives that were continuing to arrive via raven, placing and replacing markers on the map as information arrived and was discussed.

Robb was supposed to be helping but he was still trying to process the trip to the Twins.

“Why what, he asks.”  Robb grumbled, flinging up his arms.  “Why did you send me on a pointless mission maybe?  Why you had Lord Harry threaten the Lord of the Crossing?  Why bother having me press them for a meeting when you had no intention of discussing a toll for the Crossing?”  Robb was truly building up a head of steam, his redheaded half-southron temper about to blow.  “Why didn’t you tell me that was your plan in the first place?  Or maybe,” Robb’s voice turned sharp.  “Why Lord Harry seems to be your closest confidant and advisor when a few turns ago no one had ever even heard of the Lord of Always Winter.”  Robb was officially done with Jon’s shit, King or not, they were friends as well as blood and he’d have a damn answer from the ‘Young Dragon’ if it was the last thing he did.

He wasn’t called the ‘Young Wolf’ for nothing, he didn’t know how to give up on something once he had it in his jaws.

“Who the fuck is he, Jon?”  Robb barked.  “And where the fuck did he come from to be your right-fucking-hand?!

Outside the tent, the Kingsguard winced at the volume of Lord Stark’s question, even if the privacy spells Lord Harry had put up prevented them from actually hearing what was said.  It was a testament to the power of Lord Stark’s lungs that they were able to hear as much as they did.  The couple of times Lord Harry had made camp with King Jon previously, they never heard a thing.

Something they had to be grateful for, knowing full-well the type of relationship their King shared with his right-hand.

There were certain things the Kingsguard had previously been subjected to that they were grateful this King and his lover took steps to prevent repeating.  The Mad King’s continual rapes of his sister-wife the gentle Queen Rhaella scraped at their consciences, while his dishonoring of his marriage vows with mistresses – like the one who poisoned his baby-son Jaehaerys – was a milder offence.  Thus far the Mad King’s grandson had proven to be cut from a far different cloth, much like his father before him.

They could only hope that this difference remained once King Jon took the Iron Throne.

Inside the tent, Jon gave Harry a look, the latter moving to the far side of the tent and the screened-off bed area to give the cousins an illusion of privacy, settling into lotus position and meditating until he was needed again.

“Robb.”  Jon’s voice was soft, almost dangerously so.  He loved his cousin, this was true, and found him to be a good man and a compelling commander as evidenced by him mustering over half of the Northern forces in a matter of weeks.  But there was something else lurking in Robb’s words and it had nothing to do with their blood connection and everything to do with who they themselves were.

And Jon needed to ferret it out before it blew up in his face, most likely in the middle of a war council or at the least opportune time for Jon to deal with it.

Robb looked away from that gentle voice and those beautiful violet eyes that were a deep purple in the candlelit tent, shamed that he let his temper and hidden thoughts explode in such a manner.

And in front of a veritable stranger no less!

Were Ned Stark alive to see it, Robb would be getting a hiding for that little scene, grown man or no.

“First of all.”  Jon continued, sitting back in his chair and steepling his hands before him, Ghost moving to going over to Grey Wind and joining his pack-brother in curling up before the fire in the brazier near the bed.  “The mission wasn’t pointless, though it must seem that way to you.  I, we,” he corrected himself to include Harry.  “Didn’t tell you the real plan because neither I nor Harry were sure which tack he was going to take once he was inside the castle.  The point of the mission was that: getting Harry inside the Twins.”

“Why?”  Robb asked, still baffled but calmer.  “Why was getting one man inside a secure fortress so very important that you made a fool of me and the others with me?”

“Because.”  Jon answered simply.  “Harry is the Warrior-Who-Waits.”  Jon explained, Robb’s eyes growing in shock and surprise with every word.  “He has magical powers not seen ever before in Westeros.  One of those, and one of the most necessary to my victory, is his ability to know the thoughts and feelings of others.”  Jon waved a reassuring hand when Robb went pale at that news.  “Oh, he doesn’t do it often and he rather hates doing it on my order, but it saves a lot of time and a lot of blood knowing who I can trust and exactly how far I can trust them.”

“Then the threat…”  Robb trailed off thinking.  “He’d seen something he didn’t like and was trying to provoke thoughts and reactions to the forefront.  And…”  Robb continued turning the scene over in his mind.  “He saw something he did like in Ser Stavron.”

“That’s my take on it, yes.”  Jon nodded, “though I haven’t had a chance to quiz him in private to know for certain.”

“That’s why you trust him.”  Robb shook his head in realization.  “And why father sent you north of the wall in the first place.  You went to the Tomb and woke him to fight for you.”

“Not necessarily.”  Jon had to admit with the faintest of sheepish blushes.  “I knew Uncle Ned wanted me to wake him but I had no guarantee that he’d fight for me.  The legend was rather vague on what the Warrior would do once woken, only that it would eventually lead to the Usurpers failing to take the Throne.  There was no way to know if he would support myself, my aunt, or even this Aegon Blackfyre my uncle Aemon has spoken of.”  Jon shrugged, helplessly.  “But it was the last thing Uncle Ned ever asked of me, so…”

“You saw it done.”  Robb finished for him, understanding completely.

His father had had that way about him, he was compelling, commanding respect from all who knew him.

It had left Robb with rather large boots to fill in the wake of his murder.

Thankfully, of the two of them, Jon had the bigger shadow to step out of with having Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen as a father.  He’d been beloved by nobles and smallfolk alike, and was known for being the pinnacle of what a Knight of the Realms should be.  Robb wouldn’t want a legend like that to live up to.

Ned Stark cast a big enough shadow without adding the weight of Seven Kingdoms behind it.

“That’s why you trust him, then?”  Robb asked, voice half-hopeful that that was all it was.  “Because he’s the Warrior-Who-Waits?”

Jon shook his head with a sigh, resting heavily against the chair back.

He should’ve foreseen this when he took Harry as a lover, but he had no way of knowing it would come up this soon or from Robb no less.  He thought he’d have more time before others started to question his relationship with Harry.  Or gods forbid, try and convince him to wed some insipid Lord’s daughter to provide an Heir to the Throne the way Lord Cerwyn had thrown his daughter at Robb, trying to make her Lady of the North.

At least Robb had had more sense than to fall for that scheme, though both of them knew it wouldn’t be the last.

“I trust him at my back because he fought an army of White Walkers to protect myself and the men of the Night’s Watch.”  Jon answered, tip-toeing with great care around the hidden question-in-a-question.  “I trust his advice because he’s proven himself, bringing back a hard-won alliance and valuable information on my enemies.”  He blew out a breath and faced Robb dead-on, purple eyes clashing with Tully blue.  “And I trust him with myself because he’s trustworthy but mostly because he’s Harry, and he doesn’t know the meaning of betrayal, having been betrayed in the past.”

If there was one thing Jon was sure of with Harry, it was that he would die first before even the faintest flicker of thought of turning his cloak crossed his mind.

His heart may be at risk with the other man, but never his throne or his secrets, and there weren’t many that Jon would be willing to chance such things with.

Especially in the current climate of Westeros.

“I see.”  Robb said with a small nod, turning towards the tent flap.  “I will leave you be then, with your Harry.”

And before Jon could call him back, Robb was gone, out to take his turn at watch as the camp had quietly been put on alert for an attack in the night.

“He loves you, you know.”  Harry commented as he came to sit on one arm of Jon’s chair, the King’s arm coming up to wrap around his lithe waist.  “Robb.”  He clarified at Jon’s half-confused look.  “Loves you.”

“Of course he does.”  Jon brushed off his lover’s implication.  “He’s my family.”

“I think he wants to be your family in a whole ‘nother context, Jon.”  Harry said drily, holding up one hand to cut off Jon’s protests.  “He loves you.”  Harry repeated.  “Whether you return his feelings or could, is between you and him.  Just don’t take him for granted.”  Harry counseled.  “In times of war, we should hold tightly to what little happiness is to be found, it might disappear on the morrow.”

Jon arched a brow at that.

“You’re telling me you wouldn’t be jealous if I took Robb to bed?”  He challenged his lover.

“Not so long as I was invited.”  Harry gave Jon a lascivious smile, casting his eyes up and down Jon’s sprawled-out length.  “He’s not exactly hard on the eyes.”

“It’s pointless.”  Jon sighed, rising to his feet and swooping his lover up in his arms to carry him towards the bed, Harry circling his neck with his strong arms as he gave a little gasp of surprise at the romantic gesture.  “Robb will need an Heir for Winterfell and I’ll need Heirs for the Iron Throne and Dragonstone and whatever other holdings I keep for my line after this infernal war is done.”

He laid Harry down gently on his bedfurs, leaning propped over him on his outstretched arms, Harry still circling his neck and shoulders, hands tugging lightly at Jon’s dark hair.

“It’s pointless.”  He reiterated, stealing Harry’s plump rosy lips with a breath-taking kiss.  Lips bruised under the pressure as tongues tangled and cloaks and armor and shirts were frantically shucked off, hands grabbing and stroking whatever skin they came in contact with.

“Missed you,” Jon gasped as Harry latched on and suckled at the base of his throat, the ebony-haired King pulling back to a whine from his lover before quickly unlacing and shedding first his own then Harry’s boots and leather leggings, almost dropping Harry’s sword belt in the process, his own dagger – the gift from Harry – falling to the tent floor with a thud.

“Missed you.”  Harry echoed as he leaned up and with a flex of hidden strength flipped them, straddling Jon and nestling his taut arse on top of Jon’s pulsing cock.  The other man was so stiff and long that he nearly touched his navel before Harry scooted back to grind against him, Jon’s hands shooting to gasp Harry by the hips and try to control his rolling, seductive movements.

If Jon had had any notion of Harry being in any way innocent they were quickly dispelled as the wizard moved in ways better able to incite lust and desire than that of the most practiced whore.

Hands more used to casting magic than wielding a sword – though he was no slouch after more than a decade of practice before being locked away, skills quickly coming back to him as he dueled Jon – flicked and rubbed at Jon’s tight nipples, bringing another set of gasps and moans pouring from the royal’s lust-parted mouth, his eyes appearing black with his blown pupils and desire-darkened purple irises.

 Growling low as a particular roll of Harry’s hips had the head of his heated cock brushing over the wizard’s rosebud, Jon latched onto his shoulder and leg and flipped them over once more, taking the dominant position back from the teasing little minx.

Keeping one hand on Harry, pinning him to the furs, Jon reached over and dug in the pack waiting beside the bed, searching.  Turning his attention back to the naked and panting vision in his bed, Jon gave him a wicked grin and an arch of a brow as he held up a bottle of scented oil for his lover’s approval.  Which he rapidly got, Harry’s eyes blowing wide with desire as his mind caught up with what he was seeing, only able to gasp, “yes” in answer to the implied question.

This was Westeros on the eve of an expected ambush.  Harry wasn’t about to risk having Jon die on him before being able to consummate their relationship.  Too many times had people died on him with things left undone or words unsaid.  He wouldn’t let that happen here, not with Jon.  Until or even if, they were bonded, Jon was just as easy to kill as any other warrior in Westeros.  Harry could lose him this night to a soldier having a lucky day or the next to a cold.  That was the risk inherent in loving anyone in this place and age.

But Harry was willing to risk it nonetheless.

Otherwise, why bother waking at all?

Coating three fingers with the sweet almond oil, Jon positioned himself kneeling between Harry’s eagerly spread legs, moving one thigh to rest against the other man’s chest, gentle even in his lusty haste.

With a soft touch but firm pressure, Jon circled Harry’s winking rosebud, the wizard having cast a pair of spells to ease his way when Jon was distracted searching for the oil.  He could’ve done this part via spell as well, but he enjoyed the sensation of having his lover stretch and tease him manually.  And, he gave a groan, Jon was so damned good at it.

Jon moved up as he pumped first two, then three fingers into Harry’s tight heat.  It was the tightest, hottest thing he could ever remember feeling and could barely wait to feel it on his cock.  But wait he would, not wanting to hurt Harry.  No, never hurt Harry.  Leaning forward he stole Harry’s parted, panting mouth in another kiss.

Harry sighed into Jon’s kiss, feet planted on the furs and hips thrusting back against Jon’s teasing fingers that were flirting with his pleasure-button but not really hitting it.  He loved the taste he found as his tongue played and dueled with Jon’s own, chasing it back into the king’s mouth and craving more of the taste of him.  Harry tangled his hands in Jon’s black hair, tugging and playing as he wrapped one leg around his lover’s hips, returning his kiss most ardently.

“I can’t get enough of you.”  He panted, hips arching.  “Please, Jon.  Please more.”

Nipping lightly at Harry’s kiss-bruised lips, Jon pulled back just enough to coat his burning erection with the oil remaining on his hand before positioning himself at Harry’s now pulsing hole.  Staring deep into dazed emerald eyes, Jon pressed forward, hands coming to bracket his lover’s silken-gold shoulders.  Pushing forward relentlessly, Jon buried himself deep inside Harry’s hot, oil-slicked channel, mesmerized by the expression of stunned and stunning pleasure on his lover’s pretty face and deep within his gorgeous eyes.

“Fuck,” Harry panted, twisting his head back and forth on the furs, wrapping his second leg around Jon, pulling himself up and into Jon’s excruciatingly slow penetration.  “Bastard.”  He gasped out.  “Tease.”

Jon chuckled low, holding onto his control by the skin of his teeth as Harry clenched around him in waves, sending pleasure spiking up and down his spine, his lover’s lean-but-strong body writhing under him, making his golden skin and pearly-white-and-pink scars gleam with sweat and the light from the low-burning brazier.

Ghost and Grey Wind were content to sleep and ignore the mating humans that disturbed their sleep, Grey Wind even sleeping through his human’s departure.

“Teasing am I?”  Jon gasped out as Harry bore down at the same time as he thrust up with his hips, forcing Jon harder into him and finally piercing his prostate with a rough thrust.  “Bastard?”  He gave a sharp jab against the prostate, making Harry keen low in his throat and tug on his hair, forcing a gasp from Jon’s lips in turn as he clenched down on his sensitive cock-head.

“Know you are.”  Harry taunted.  “Tease.  Been teasing me for weeks.”

Jon growled, thrusting harder and biting sharply at Harry’s neck and the curve of his shoulder, control snapping as Harry cried out for more and harder and yes!

Feeling it tingle at the base of his arousal that signaled an imminent end, Jon reached between them and stroked Harry viciously in time to his hard thrusts at the same time angling his own cock to grind ceaselessly at Harry’s pleasure gland, his lover giving another of his dick-hardening keens at the attention to his neglected cock and throbbing prostate.

“Jon!”  Harry cried out, back arching off the bed as his legs squeezed harshly against his lover’s back and hips.  “Oh gods, Jon!

As he arched and cried out, Harry’s cock pulsed once, twice, three or more times, his hot come arcing between their two sweat-and-passion-slicked bodies, landing in spurts on Harry’s sun-tanned golden chest, pooling in the valleys formed by his rippling musculature.

His lover gave another nip to his parted and panting lips, before thrusting harshly into him, his swinging balls slapping lewdly against Harry’s tight arse.  Feeling the heat wash over him in waves, Jon bit down on the curve of where Harry’s shoulder met his neck, marking him as his own on the outside as he buried his cock to the hilt and marked him from the inside with his burning seed.  He thrust a few more times in little motions as it poured from him in rivers of come, filling his lover to the brim.

Finished at last, Jon let go of his biting hold on Harry shoulder, soothing the sting of the mark with a soft lap of his tongue, as his now-quiescent prick released from his lover’s channel allowing him to collapse next to the still-gently-panting Harry on the furs.

Jon reached up and caressed one downy cheek above the sharp line of Harry’s trimmed and close-cropped beard.  Green eyes fluttered open, Harry turning on his side to face Jon, a pretty pink blush burnishing his golden skin into a light bronze.  Pursing his lips, Harry bussed him with a whisper of a kiss on the meat of his hand below Jon’s thumb.

“What?”  He asked, fighting to keep his eyes open in his post-coital drowsiness.

“Nothing.”  Jon answered, laughter ripe in his voice.  Harry was being the very picture of a sleepy-kitten with his drooping eyelids and sleepy-purring question.  “Just thinking.”

“’Bout wha?”  Harry yawned around the query, shifting restlessly, arms curling around the pillows as he turned onto his stomach and burrowed deeper into the bedfurs.

“You.”  Jon tucked himself around his lover as Harry finally stopped twisting this way and that, the wizard remembering at the last moment to cast a cleaning charm over them and the bed to prevent any unfortunate stickiness when the Kingsguard woke them in a few hours.  “How gods-damned-glad I am that I was the one who managed to wake you in all the thousands upon thousands of years you laid alone in that tomb.”

Harry turned to face him, placing a gentle kiss on Jon’s furrowed brow.

“No one else would’ve been able to.”  He lifted Jon’s unvoiced worries, intuiting that the young King was worrying over the bond forged through his waking was affecting them, forcing their emotions.  His Jon was such a King already, worried about things that didn’t even exist and if Harry had it his way, they never would.  He would never manipulate the bond between them to advance their relationship.  That wasn’t what it was for and he would die before abusing it in that fashion.

The bond existed to teach him quickly about his new world and then later for him to be able to act in the best interest of the true King or leader of his world.  That was all.  It was how he was able to ignore his own desires to travel and instead seek out reconnaissance on the King’s enemies.  He was imprisoned with the intent of being both shield-and-sword to whoever woke him.  Perhaps it was time to enlighten Jon on just what his being able to do so entailed.

“Only the rightful ruler of these lands would’ve been able to wake me.”  Harry propped himself up on one arm, staring down at Jon with an uncommon look of soberness on his pretty face.  “One who had claim to the Throne not just by right of inheritance, but also by magic and by blood.”  He revealed his conclusions regarding what he’d found from using magics on various people in the seven kingdoms – both with and without their consent.  “The Blood of the First Men.”  He announced.  “And that of Old Valyria.  Both have magic running strong in their veins.  And without magic and a sacrifice of blood, claimant after claimant and king after king could have marched up to my crypt and did as you did, and still I would have slept on.”

He leaned down and nipped sharply at Jon’s pouting lower lip, still kissed with darkened color from their furious kisses and passionate coming together.  Swiping his index finger through the droplet of crimson he’d brought to the surface, Harry held it up to the light, illustrating his point in a visceral way.

“Blood.”  He said simply, then cast his Patronus, the ghostly-silver of Harry’s dragon animagus form lighting up the tent with its unearthly glow.  “Magic.”  And lastly swept a thumb gently under the Targaryen-violet of Jon’s eyes.  “And right of rule.  Only with all three bound into the same being would I have awoken, so complex was the enchantment that trapped me.  It had to be.”

He admitted the last anxiously, nibbling lightly on his lower lip as he thought, casting his mind back to the time that came before, a time that was slowly being worn away as his memory integrated thousands and thousands of years of half-remembered conversations picked up from the spells Teddy cast over his tomb and the many years where someone was present near-constantly.  It was a lot for one mind to comprehend, so his magic had protected him, only allowing him to assimilate so much at once.

It was also one of the reasons why his personality was slowly changing, as he grew accustomed to the Westerosi ways, as barbaric and bloody as his former people would have found them.

Above all, Harry Potter was highly adaptable.

It was what would have made him such an excellent Slytherin had he chosen greatness over conformity.

And it was what would make him an excellent Consort and Hand-of-the-King, if Jon could convince him to accept both or either position at his side.

Jon Belarion of Houses Stark and Targaryen might not have all the information about Harry’s past or even his capabilities, but he knew power when he saw it, and Harry had it in spades.  And power above all, was intoxicating to his Targaryen blood, its draw only tempered by the wisdom and steely control of his Stark half, the two side of the young King often at war over his wants and desires versus the honor and justice that helped form him at his very core.  Had he been raised a Targaryen by his father Rhaegar in the southron Court, Jon would likely have been a very different King.

As it stood, he’d been raised in turns by his bearer and his uncle in the very heart of the North and even Beyond-the-Wall, creating as different a creature from a purely Targaryen prince as Winter was to Summer.

Perhaps the Seven Kingdoms would be better for it, though only time would tell the tale.

“Nothing less than a three-fold enchantment based in blood would have held me.”  Harry continued.  “Especially since at the time of my imprisonment a case could have been made that I had a right to rule my homeland due to both who I was by birth and who I defeated.  The Dark Lord I killed had in effect made himself the supreme leader of my homeland, when I killed him magic endowed me with everything of his, making me his magical Heir.  I could very well have declared myself a King or Lord or even Emperor of Wizarding Britain and there would’ve been nothing they could’ve done about it.”  Harry shook his head in bemusement at the very thought.  Who the fuck would want to rule those idiotic sheeple?  It would’ve been a thankless effort in herding cats with a constant migraine attached.

No, Thank You.

“And absolutely nothing,” he stressed coming to the point of his speech.  “About any of it forced either of us to feel anything but the bond between King and vassal – and even that might be giving it too much credit.  I have no doubt, with as suppressed as magical ability is in Westeros, that I could’ve broken the bond between us at any time if I found it distasteful.  But I haven’t.”  Harry leaned down and gave Jon one last, deep kiss before burying himself back into his pillow.  “And I won’t, not unless you asked me to three times spread out over a series of time so I knew you were serious and not simply reacting in the heat of the moment.”

“You won’t, will you?”  Jon gave a relieved chuckle as his worries, undefinable even to himself though Harry seemed to have a good read on them, slid away in the wash of his lover’s words.  “No matter how much I beg?”

“One: I’ve yet to meet a King or ruler worthy of the title who ever begged.”  Harry popped one emerald eye open to glare up at Jon balefully, the picture of a riled kitten.  “And two: I’m your sword-and-shield.  I’ll protect you, even from yourself.  And I fail to foresee any situation where being permanently parted from your Warrior-Who-Waits as a good or necessary action for either you or your realms.  Sleep.”  He demanded, smacking his smirking king lightly with a pillow thanks to a well-controlled levitation charm.

“All right, all right.”  Jon laughed into the pillow as he grabbed it out of the air.  “As my Lord Potter-Black commands.”

“Better.”  Harry grunted.  “But.  Still.  Talking.  Sleep.”

Sometimes, Harry mused to himself in the darkest hour of the early morning as he blocked a wildly-swung sword with an upward thrust of his Stygian steel blade Thanatos, the other castle-forged steel shattering upon the contact, the backlash forcing the Frey man-at-arm’s arm to fall limp at the blow, he really hated being right.

The attack had come as expected, Lord Frey and his more intemperate sons calling for an ambush of the encamped army in the dead of night when the men would be asleep save for a few weary-eyed sentries.

Or at least, that was what the Freys had hoped for.

Instead they found a fully-alert and battle-ready force more than seven times their size.

It wasn’t a battle; it was a slaughter.

One made even worse when the mounted horse of Jon’s Targaryen loyalists chased the retreating Frey foot back across the first gate and onto the Crossing proper, only for the retreating force to be pinned against the second gate that refused to open and allow them passage to the safety waiting on the other side.

Ser Stavron Frey, Lord Walder’s eldest son and Heir, had disdained to join what he’d renounced as a craven attack and had returned to his command of the second and most westerly castle that made up the paired twins.  It was on his order that the gates remained closed and the way shut for his father’s half of the foot, the other fifteen-hundred men and all of the one-thousand horse having been garrisoned in the western castle and the fields surrounding it in anticipation of marching orders.  A measure that saved them from being cut-down by the advancing Northern army.

And that would save them a second time as in their bloodlust it was unlikely that the angry and tired men belonging to King Jon Targaryen would have taken note of who were loyal to Ser Stavron and who to Lord Walder, the shut gate preventing a total annihilation of every man-at-arms belonging to House Frey.

Harry saw Jon and Robb fighting against Ser Emmon Frey and several of his brothers with assistance from the Kingsguard as he stopped for a moment to cast an eye over the blood-drenched bridge in search of a new target.

Pickings were slim on the ground, as with their preparations made, the Targaryen-Northern army had quickly responded when the first torch thrown by Ser Emmon set one of the tents at the edge of the encampment alight, the sentries quickly sounding the alarm as the Freys watched in shock for long moments as the fire was smothered but not before illuminating the soldiers pouring out from their bedrolls in full armor, the knights quickly swinging into the saddle and giving chase when it became apparent that rather than a quick-and-dirty rout, it was to be a bloody slaughter of the Freys.

Moving with the Seeker’s speed he’d been known for in Britain and that had made him so hard for the Death Eaters to pin down and just fucking kill already, Harry blocked a blow to the back that would’ve paralyzed or killed one of the Karstarks, gaining a grunt and a nod in thanks as the Ser quickly put an end to that Frey man with a swing of his axe.

Regaining his horse, Harry swung up into the saddle and trotted carefully over the wounded or dead bodies of the Frey men, coming to a stop next to the still-seated Jon and Rob who’d handily dispatched their opponents and were in the process of giving orders for their own wounded to be moved back to camp.

They’d routed the Freys and not lost a single man, though there might be some causalities from their wounds during the next day or two, depending on how many men were wounded and how many Harry was able to see to.

He’d learned the hard way that the closer the man was to the blood of the First Men or Old Valyria, the better they took to magical healing.

“You knew this was a possibility.”  Robb commented, eyeing Harry with an expressionless mask.

“Knew?”  Harry arched a brow with a quirk that wasn’t quite a smile on his lips.  “I incited it.”

“Why?”  Robb repeated his question from earlier that evening in bafflement.  “Why would you incite a battle when we have another and another after that waiting for us against the Lannister?”

“Who were you just fighting against, Lord Stark?”  Harry asked pointing to the motionless body of Ser Emmon Frey.  “Emmon Frey, husband of Genna Lannister.  Of their children three,” Harry held up a trio of fingers.  “Three serve under Jaime Lannister’s forces while another is a page at Casterly Rock.”  He snorted.  “Any man who thought that Walder Frey wouldn’t take a deal from Jon and then turn around and stab him in the back for more of Lannister’s gold and begrudging favor is a fool.”  Harry shook his head, emerald eyes locking with Tully blue.  “Your grandfather Hoster Tully decided the fate of this battle long before you were even born when he refused to respect the power Walder Frey could command.  Tytos Lannister, for all the bad that is said about him, wasn’t entirely a fool, nor is his son Tywin.  No matter what words dripped from Walder’s mouth, the only Lord he was about to ally with is his good-family: the Lannisters.”

“Better now, when we were ready Robb.”  Jon said leaning over to give his two-coppers.  “Then later when Frey turning his cloak could have cost us dearly.”

“I see the wisdom of it.”  Robb admitted shaking his head as he looked down at the blood coating his sword and turning the grey stones of the Crossing red.  “But inciting a fight when we’re already committed to spilling Westerland blood doesn’t sit easy with me.”

“Good.”  Harry said, surprising Robb.  “Taking a life should never be easy.  That’s one thing I thought your father had already taught you, Robb Stark.  Whether it’s in battle, by your order or your sword, or carrying out the King’s Justice, loss-of-life is always a tragedy.  Even when it belongs to your greatest and most fearsome enemy.”

With that, Harry put spurs to his horse’s flanks, riding out to take up his position in the healing tents, seeing to the wounded and the dying, leaving the others to continue without him for the time being.

“Alright.”  Greatjon Umber spat onto the bloody stones of the Crossing, an arch look on this bearded face.  “Where in the hells did you dig that one up, you Young Dragon?  He lectures like a Maester, preaches like a Septon, and fights like a demon from the seven hells, him.”

“The Fist of the First Men.”  Robb answered wryly, ignoring the look his cousin sent him.  “Jon dug him up as you say, at the Fist of the First Men.”

There were gasps and sounds of shock from the Lords and knights and smallfolk who made up the foot who hailed from the North and knew of the story of the tomb hidden deep in the North, though only the Starks were known to know the actual location of it – and of the Warrior who was said to Wait there.

“By all the gods.”  Greatjon cursed loudly and at length, buffeting Jon on the shoulder with a blow that would’ve knocked most men to the ground if they weren’t prepared for it.  Jon having known as such from personal experience had made sure to tighten his hold with his legs around the horse’s sides so he kept his seat in the saddle, only rocking a bit in reaction.  “Dragons and Warriors and direwolves.  I tell ya, laddie, if ever there was a war that was going into songs and story books, it’ll be this one for that alone!”

The next afternoon, after taking the eastern castle of the Twins and recovering from a night spent on watch, the joined Northern-Targaryen Army marched through the second gate of the Twins, making camp once more on the Western side of the Trident.

Lord Cerwyn at the head of the entirety of the Northern foot, led them down the Green Fork in hopes to cut off – or at least distract – Tywin Lannister’s thirty thousand men and prevent them from joining with his son Jaime’s force besieging Riverrun.

Jon would be leading the horse himself with Lord Robb and the rest of the Northern and Targaryen lords and knights at his side.

Or at least he would be as soon as the messy business of cleaning up Walder Frey’s folly was done and over.

In the great hall of the Twins, where a mere day before Lord Walder Frey had presided in state over most of his many descendants and spat on the emissary sent by a King, that same King sat in his former chair and levied judgement down upon him and those of his men and family who were loyal to him.

Harry had already done the dirty work of discovering who was truly loyal to Walder, who was guilty of treason or other misdeeds in their own right, and who was trustworthy enough to hold blameless in the actions of yestereen.

Now there was only sentencing and passing Lordship of the Crossing onto another to be done, then they can move out to rendezvous with Lord Mallister and his troops before moving southron with all haste to break the siege before Tywin can ride to Jaime’s aid.

“Walder Frey, formerly known as Lord Walder of House Frey and Lord of the Crossing.”  Jon spoke formally, for all that he was attired in his blood-stained riding leathers due to his imminent departure.  “You, and those with you some seventy members of House Frey, have all been found guilty of high treason, conspiracy, and attempted regicide.”

Walder Frey sat stoically before the Young Dragon, unrepentant to the end, and cursing his son and Heir to the skies on the inside.  His only regrets were not taking at least one of the damned Wolves or the Dragon himself with him.  Or least keelhauling Stavron’s betraying hide.

Though he could appreciate both his Heir’s and the Young Dragon’s cunning.

He’d been bested of that there was no doubt.

Even worse, he’d been tempted and baited into creating his own destruction, and that was what chafed him sour.

“The sentence for your crimes is death.”  Jon announced the punishment with a stone face, not an ounce of expression showing.  “Those of your male descendants that so choose may have their sentence communicated in exchange for taking the Black.  Rise to your feet, if life in service at the Wall is your choice over execution.”

About two dozen of the seventy rose, ranging from a fifty-year-old bastard son of Walder to his sixteen-year-old grandson by one of his trueborn heirs.

“Very well.”  Harry spoke, gesturing for those who were to take the Black to follow him as he shot of a Patronus in warning to the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.  “Follow me.”

Harry led them out to an antechamber before conjuring a large rope that wrapped around the wrist of each man’s sword-hand, spreading a gaes on them with each twine of the rope much like the one he cast over the Red Woman and her acolytes.  Before a single one could speak a word of surprise, Harry tapped the rope with his wand intoning: “Portus: Castle Black.”  The men feeling a fish-hook behind their bellies as their only warning before being whisked away to the eternal cold and aches of the Wall.

Re-entering the great hall, Harry nodded towards the King, signaling that it had been done.

What came next was going to be the hardest action yet that the wizard would be a party to.  But even he, with his renowned-soft-heart in his old world had to admit that in this world it had to be done.  They couldn’t allow traitors to live.  Not now, not ever.  It set a precedent that would swiftly lead to a short life and an inglorious death.

Jon had to be seen as strong, just, but above all firm in his actions and leadership.  Any sign of weakness would be exploited, not only by his enemies but by his own men as well.  As luck would have it, they’d barely dodged an uprising among the northmen, Lord Roose Bolton’s wicked tongue being silenced with the charge of treason he as well as facing, having helped plan the attack the previous night, his bastard Ramsey being found dressed in the blue of the Freys and with a Frey blade and shield in his hands.  That along with the evidence Harry had gathered in King’s Landing of his plotting with Tywin Lannister was the end of the Dreadfort Lord, Harry having sent a Patronus to Ser Crispan Celtigar and Ser Dystan Massey to attack and take the Bolton seat if Roose’s men-at-arms wouldn’t surrender it.

Once they’d taken it, Ser Dystan would stay to hold it along with five-hundred men while another five-hundred marched those who chose the Black to the Wall under Aurane Waters before returning to garrison Winterfell once more.  The other fifteen-hundred troops, minus whoever fell in taking the Dreadfort, would march to Moat Cailin and support the men of Greywater Watch with another five-hundred souls, the rest coming to hold the Twins in the name of the Targaryen King, allowing whoever stayed on Jon’s order now to come and join the rest of the army wherever they might be in the turn or so the troop movements would take.

“Lord Roose Bolton.”  There were grumbles and outcries from the Northern men, the Lords having taken it hard that Roose had turned his cloak for Lannister gold.  “You have been found guilty of high treason, collusion with enemies of the crown, and conspiracy to commit murder and regicide, for which I, Jon Targaryen, first of my name, sentence you to death by hanging, your titles and lands hereby stripped from House Bolton from this day until the end of days.  May the gods have mercy on all your souls.”  Jon’s eyes were hot with rage even as his voice was icy and coldly in control.  “For We will not.”

In the end, over fifty men and women of Houses Frey and Bolton were swung on ropes over the Crossing, hung until dead and then left to rot and serve as a warning to all comers of what awaited a traitor under the reign of King Jon Targaryen, the first of his name.

Ser Stavron was raised to Lord of the Western Crossing, Jon splitting the Twins as penalty for the majority of House Frey colluding with the Lannisters, giving the title of Lord of the Eastern Crossing and the castle, land, levies, and income that came with it over to Lord Howland Reed, the ancient rival of House Frey, to administer until the war was over and Jon could distribute the lands and titles as rewards to his greatest and most loyal followers and allies.

For the moment, both castles were held by a loyal Reed knight with a force of five hundred men in the east and a Targaryen-loyalist Velaryon knight in the west with a force of the same, both Lord Howland and Lord Stavron riding out with King Jon as they put the Twins behind them and rode for Riverrun, meeting Lord Mallister and his three-hundred horse and one-thousand foot on the way to break the siege.

Altogether, fifteen hundred foot joined the Northern men from Lord Stavron’s forces, Jon leaving those loyal to him and not the Freys behind at the Twins.  Ser Stavron joined the horse with a thousand horse, which along with the three hundred under Lord Mallister brought the numbers of the combined Northern-Targaryen cavalry up to five thousand horse with the men Jon had brought, as well as the horse supplied by Lords Reed, Frey, and Mallister in addition to the Northern force.  The foot marching to meet Tywin was around eighteen thousand, making them nearly outdone by two-to-one.

Not that it would matter.

If they could manage to break the siege at Riverrun while still severely outnumbered by the sheer size of the foot Jaime had at his command, it would be a decisive victory for the Targaryen cause and the North.

“Jaime Lannister is many things,” the newly-minted Lord Stavron Frey commented in council for the upcoming offensive against the siege.  “But a patient man is not one of them.”

“He’s right.”  Robb nodded in agreement, leaning over the map that was marked with the most current locations they had of Jaime Lannister’s army that was sitting mostly idle outside the moat and walls of Riverrun.  “The Kingslayer is a man of action, he doesn’t have the temperament for a long, protracted siege, your Grace.”  Robb lifted his head and cast a glance over at Jon and Harry where they sat side-by-side at the head of the table.  “A cunning commander could take advantage of that.”

“Aye,” the Greatjon boomed.  “What do ya have in mind, lad?”

Jon gave a slow, vicious smile.  “You’re thinking like a wolf, aren’t you cousin?”

“Like a wolf.”  Robb grinned.  “We take several small forces, with archers and those who know how to move stealthily in the forest surrounding Riverrun.  Make the Lannisters think that they’re being raided and their supply lines disrupted by petty thieves and reavers.”

“No way the Kingslayer will let that pass.”  Lord Mallister agreed with a nod, having seen first-hand how Jaime was riding rough-shod over the Riverlands.

“No, he won’t.”  Robb’s smirk was met by one nearly identical from Jon.  “He’ll ride out to catch them himself, leaving his army leaderless and leading himself right into a trap.”

“It’s cunning,” Harry shook his head amused.  “And very like a wolf hunting prey.  Good show, Stark.”

Robb nodded genially at the compliment, not all of his frost towards his cousin’s right-hand and probable lover melted by his first-hand experience at just how good Harry was at protecting Jon’s interests.  Rumors were running amok in camp about the green-eyed Warrior on the back of who’s plan Jon had taken the Twins.  Many of them were in awe of the sorcerer with his healing abilities and strange ways.  Others were leery of just how much time he spent closeted with the King when he wasn’t tending the injured or sitting in council with the other Lords.

“You’ll lead the forces to bait and trap the Kingslayer, Lord Stark.”  Jon made his decision.  “Choose the men you want with you and ride out at first light.”

“As you will, your Grace.”  Robb nodded, secretly beaming inside at the trust Jon was placing in him by going not only with his plan, but allowing him to see it through.

Harry hid a laugh with a cough, though his amusement was plain for his lover to see easy enough.  If Robb had had a tail it would be wagging like a puppy, he was so pleased.  But the duty would be good for him, allow him to show his mettle and worth to the other more seasoned knights and lords.

Much like seeing Jon willing and able to pass sentence on the Frey and Bolton traitors had been a statement to the same of just what Jon Targaryen, the first of his name, was made of.  What sort of King he would be?  It was a test, and others like it, that would likely play out over and over again, all the way to King’s Landing.

“Once Lord Stark has lured the Kingslayer out,” Jon continued with making the plan to break the siege.  “We have to be in place to attack the remaining besieging force.  Lord Mallister, how many are there all told?”

“Around thirty thousand and holding steady at that number.”  The lord of Seagard reported.  “With archers and siege machines, and about five thousand horse.”

“Ser Brynden,” Jon turned to the younger brother of Lord Hoster Tully, known as Brynden the Blackfish.  He was infamously at odds with his elder brother, but that hadn’t kept him from doing all he could to help the resistance against the Lannister occupation in the Riverlands.  “I would like you and your archers to take up posts in the woods all around Riverrun and our approach from the North.  Shoot down every raven and capture or kill every outrider that would announce us to the Lannister host.”

“As you will, your Grace.”  Ser Brynden nodded, easily agreeing to the task that would have him watching his Cat’s son’s back.  Robb looked so much like Catelyn it took him aback when he first saw him as a man riding in with the new King at his side.  It was good to be around blood again, even if it was under such wretched circumstances.

“Good.”  Jon nodded.  “Reports have Ser Marq Piper already working to harry the Lannister supply lines, some of our men in Tully colors will work as bait for the Kingslayer, who has known only early victory in the Riverlands.”  Jon’s grin was brutal.  “Let us change that.”

“Ser Jaime!”  One of his outriders called to their leader.  “Tully colors!  A few hundred men at most riding North!”

The Kingslayer laughed at the new.  “Most be hoping to meet up with the Young Wolf and his band who are stuck sitting on their thumbs at the Twins!”  Jaime roared to his men, roughly two thousand horse comprised of knights and Lords of the West, including many Lannister cousins.  “Let’s hurry them along, my lads!”

The Westermen shouted in approval, setting spur to their horses and giving chase through a small valley and into the whispering wood before the Tully men, fleeing in fear at the greater force at their heels, came into range.

But before they could strike the first blow, the outriders fell to the damned arrows of the Piper bratling’s ramshackle group of half-a-hundred men who had been harrying his supply lines.  Enraged, and discounting that he was now blinded as to what was coming from the North and all sides, Jaime pressed on, following the group of Tully troutlings farther into the wooded valley.  To his well-honed ear, the Kingslayer caught the sounds of a warhorn, and then he thought no more except for the next swing of his sword as the Kingslayer found himself under attack on all sides, the valley pinched off ahead and behind, with sheer forested cliff walls to the east and west.

Trapped.

Jaime cursed the gods as he hacked at another man, this time bearing the two towers of House Frey, and betrayed, Lord Walder having promised that he would hold the Northern men as long as possible and give them no aid.

Someone would bleed for this, Jaime swore.

Moreover, someone would die for it.

Grass-green eyes scouting the field, Jaime felt his heart drop and his blood heat anew as he saw the battle lost.

There.  He decided setting his sight on Stark white and grey, set off by a massive beast of a grey direwolf both on the armor and on the ground, tearing into men at his master’s side.  Lord Robb Stark, no doubt the architect of Jaime’s defeat, the foul trap veritably stank of wolf cunning.

Target found.

It was time this direwolf learned the cost of taking on a pride of lions.

A price paid in Northern blood.

A series of war horn blasts sounded, starting at the whispering wood and continuing south until it reached the gates of Riverrun.

The Lannister forces, split into three camps, each facing a wall of the castle-turned-island by Hoster Tully opening the sluice gate and flooding the deep trench on the castle’s third side, were just waking when the horns sounded and were confused.  Only a few lords and commanders remained, most under Lord Brax at the camp between the northernmost camp which was supposed to be under the leadership of Ser Jaime, and the southernmost camp which was controlled by Ser Forley Prester.

Before the Lannister forces could rally or send out scouts to see what was going on with Ser Jaime’s forces, the vanguard of the Targaryen Army swept down on the leaderless army, King Jon the First at its helm.

Lord Brax, startled and caught off-guard by the roaring horde of Northmen and southron knights flying the banners of Houses Stark and Targaryen as well as that of all the Houses present, including to his shock the lavender field and falling star of House Dayne of Dorne, ordered his men as quickly as they could onto the rafts to cross the Tumblestone and come to the aid of the leaderless Northern camp that is being ridden down by the advancing vanguard.

Jon slashed and hacked his way through the enemy lines, his Kingsguard at his side and Ghost tearing out throats and savaging any arm that held a weapon at his heels.  It was ugly, brutal, and bloody as man after man poured out of the Lannister tents.  Briefly, Jon wondered at the honor and the glory always espoused about warfare.  As far as he could tell, there was naught of it to be found save in the imaginations of bards who had never so much as seen a battle ground.

A Lannister knight almost had himself a real good day, making it passed Jon’s guard and nicking his thigh where it was unprotected at the joint plate.

The King cursed as he struck back, harder and faster, his blade finding the weaker mail at the neck of the knight’s armor and finishing him with a bloody arc of arterial spray, coating Jon’s already red-and-black Targaryen armor with dripping blood.

He paused a moment to clear his vision from the gush, searching out the four white cloaks of his Kingsguard and being pleased to see them still standing, Ghost leaping and tearing at a knight wearing the quartered devices of Houses Frey and Lannister – one of Emmon Lannister’s get.

A soft ‘pop’ a few feet away had him slicing a bloody swathe through the Lannister forces, reaching Harry once he’d cleared a path to the wizard’s side as the Lord of Always Winter slashed and hacked with his bastard sword in one hand and a vicious long-dagger in the other, the dagger finding the weak spots in any armor with ease.

“Did you do it?”  Jon called out to his right-hand, letting out a punch-drunk laugh as Harry gave him a high salute with his sword before turning back-to-back with the bloody King.

“Aye!”  Harry shouted back.  “And I bring news!  Lord Brax and his men have fallen into the river, drowned for their folly!”

“Smalljon!”  The King shouted towards the massive man with the warhorn hanging from his belt a good ten yards away and doing battle with a trio of foot soldiers who quickly fell with a few efficiently brutal swings of his great axe.  “Sound the advance!”

“Yes, your Grace!”  Smalljon smashed another soldier to the ground, then lifted the horn and blew three sharp blasts.

At this signal, the troops of House Umber and House Mallister, led by the same Lords, poured from the south, having moved to flank the southernmost camp under the very gates and walls of Riverrun.  Lord Mallister commanded the troops while Greatjon Umber led a smaller contingent to rescue the hostages Jaime Lannister had paraded before the walls of Riverrun ever since the Tully force had lost the battle beneath the walls.

Seeing the attack, a Lannister knight ordered a shield wall to stymie the coming charge.

A mistake as it turned out, as it left their backs open to the gates, a situation that Lord Blackwood quickly took advantage of, leading the survivors of the Battle of Riverrun out of the gates they’d sheltered behind and attacking the Lannister flank.

Ser Forley Prester, seeing men fall and Lord Brax drown, the siege being pressed against the walls that they’d thought to conquer, knew the day was lost.  Discarding the thought to wait for an absent Ser Jaime to ride to their rescue, Ser Forley ordered a retreat, mounting his horse and corralling what men he could to break the line and run west towards Golden Tooth and safety with the surviving men.

“Retreat!”  The Lions shouted.  “Retreat to the West!”

“Hear that, my King?”  Harry shouted over his shoulder to the man still back-to-back with him as together they cut a bloody gash in the collective minds of all the enemy men who saw them.  “You’ve one the day, Jon!”

“I hear it!”  Jon laughed, battle-lust singing in his veins.  “I hear it!”

Before Harry could continue the banter, Ghost halted, his head whipping north towards the whispering woods and let out a great howl of grief and rage.

“Harry,” Jon whispered seeing his own terrible suspicion at the cause of Ghost’s mournful song echoed in his lover’s eyes.  “Grey Wind.  Robb.  Go!”  He commanded, calling for a horse.  Ser Arthur Dayne, his white cloak splattered with blood and viscera led a pair over, taking his place at the King’s side once Jon was in the saddle.  “Go, Harry!  The Sword of Morning has my back now!  Now go have Robb’s!”

“Yes, your Grace.”  Harry nodded his head jerkily before spinning on his heel and disappearing with a soft ‘pop’ to those who were close enough to hear it under the clamor of the still-raging but-slowing battle.

“Come, Ser Arthur.”  Jon set his jaw, rage flaring his nostrils.  “The battle’s won but I want this to be a decisive victory.  Let us see how much a dragon can make a lion bleed.”

Harry appeared in the midst of another bloody field, this one bordered by trees with a river cutting through it.

Seeing the banner of House Stark and the furious clash taking place under it, Harry spun on his heel once more, reappearing just to the left of the battling Robb Stark and Jaime Lannister.  Robb seemed to have battled Lannister back, an impressive feat in itself, in an attempt to keep the knight from finishing his work of savaging Robb’s familiar, Grey Wind.  Seeing the pain in those wild eyes, Harry quickly stunned the animal and placed it in a healing stasis, the only use of magic he used during these confrontations as Jon preferred, save under special circumstances such as his use of Apparation to quickly move from one battlefield to another.

Knowing that Grey Wind was as safe as Harry could make him for the moment, Harry turned back to the dueling knight-and-lord in time to see Robb stumble back, falling from a crushing blow with the flat of Lannister’s blade.

Jaime raised his sword with both hands, preparing to cut down the so-called Young Wolf once and for all if he couldn’t have Jon Targaryen’s head itself.  Lowering it with all the might inherent in his tall, muscular frame and buoyed by both battle-rage and actual rage at the knowledge that this battle at least was lost – a first for the Kingslayer, he made to thrust his sword straight through Stark’s armor, sundering the breastplate and killing him near-instantly.  As the blade lowered, Robb’s eyes wide with fear at his near-certain death, another sword appeared, the black blade striking upward with great force and blocking the killing blow.

Robb turned and beheld the face of his rescuer, recognizing the roaring dragon helm Jon had had forged for his right-hand and let out a gust of breath in relief.

If Harry was here, then it meant Jon had succeeding in breaking the siege.

Climbing to his feet, no easy task in half-plate armor though at least he wasn’t wearing full-plate like some pretty Ser in a tourney, Robb jumped into the fray, joining Harry in beating back the Kingslayer who’s own shock had lasted a mere heartbeat before he’d picked his sword back up in his head despite the numbness caused by the fouled strike and set to taking on this new challenger, one close to the new king if Jaime knew anything about armor.

The Kingslayer found himself reluctantly impressed.

This new opponent didn’t have the superior form of Jaime himself nor the brute strength he’d found preferred amongst the northmen.  But what he lacked in style, the swordsman made up in sheer speed.  The little bastard – Jaime was nearly a head taller than the fighter as if he was some damned crannogman – easily danced out of the way of Jaime’s own strikes while making the most of his own with both the shorter bastard blade he wielded strangely enough in his off-hand and the long-dagger in his main.

He had a simple strategy that Jaime found infuriatingly effective: dodge, strike while Jaime recovered, and dodge back again.

But simple strategies are often predictable strategies by skilled opponents like the Kingslayer, Jaime fainting a missed blow only to swing back aiming for disarming the fucker’s dagger-hand as it was the one finding the chinks in Jaime’s plate and mail.

And it would’ve worked too.

Except Jaime made a critical error as his dancing partner kept his focus.  He only focused on the dragon knight, ignoring all else.  Including the Young Wolf that he’d failed to end though he thought he’d at least injured him with the fall.

If so, it wasn’t enough, as Robb surged back to his feet and much like Harry before him, parried the Kingslayer’s blow and kept him from once more gaining the upper hand.

Darting backward as he was now faced with two opponents out for his blood and tiring from the battle, Jaime chanced a quick glance around, seeing at once that the day was lost and he was one of the few battling on.

Deciding to live another day and wait on his father to either ransom or rescue him, Jaime waited for an opportune moment, one that came too late as the pair, falling into unison, pressed him until he stumbled back, falling and tripping over the body of one of his own men, losing the sword that he’d failed to fully grip after being dealt a numbing blow in the process.

Two swords came to press down at the gap between his helm and his breastplate, the smaller man – or normal-sized-woman Jaime wasn’t sure at this point, they’d certainly fought vindictively enough to be a female – kicking Jaime’s sword out of his reach and taking it one step further stepping on his right wrist and pinning it to the ground.

“Surrender Ser Jaime.”  Lord Robb Stark commanded in his – when he chose to make it so – thundering voice.  “Or die here and now.”

“He’ll do it.”  The other man said, putting away his dagger and stripping off his helm.  What was revealed was quite possibly the prettiest man Jaime had ever seen outside of those with pure Valaryian looks.  “You hurt his direwolf, he’s after your blood.”

Jaime gulped at that reminder.  The animal had guarded its charge just as fiercely as he’d remembered from the visit to Winterfell and the chunk the girl’s wolf had taken out of Joffery.  From what he recalled the Starks were ridiculously attached to the animals, a cause for concern now that he’d failed to kill the hardy little northern fucker.

“You’re no good to anyone dead, Ser Jaime.”  The pretty man continued, his green eyes that Cersei would kill to possess gleaming amused and emerald in that shapely face.  “Let alone your bastard children and your brother-fucking sister.”

The northern men who had moved to surround them as they watched the play of Ser Jaime’s downfall roared with laughter at the pun with had Jaime gritting his teeth and tasting blood.

Damn Stannis Baratheon, Jon Arryn, and Eddard Stark to the seven hells.  If it wasn’t for those nosey interfering bastards, none of this would be happening.  Well.  Jaime had to correct himself.  Some of it might.  After getting to know Rhaegar Targaryen, the Mad King, and the late Queen Rhaella, he didn’t truly believe Jon Targaryen would have ever rested until he either took the Iron Throne or died trying.

It was like a madness in them, right alongside their adoration for fire, and desire to bring back the ancient dragons of old.

“I surrender.”  Jaime at last bit out before they could make any more of a mummery of his capture than they already had.

Massive Lord Rickard Karstark moved forward and pulled him to his feet, quickly stripping him of any weapons and binding his hands tightly behind his back, silently glaring holes into Jaime all the while.

“Collect the wounded, the dead, and the hostages!”  Robb Stark called out.  “Bind the wounds as best you can, the siege is broken at Riverrun and we’ll dine around victory fires tonight!”

A roar went up from the gathered men at the news, the hostages all feeling the deep, shameful sting of being utterly routed.

When Robb turned back to Harry, he found him already crouched over Grey Wind and having traded his sword and dagger for the wand he rarely saw him use except to heal.

One of the Lords had asked the wizard why that was in the aftermath of the Twins, only to be told that healing was “rather fiddly and precise, most of the time things can be done magic-wise with enough power and force of will.  Healing’s not like that, you can’t force it to do what you want.  You have to caress and seduce it like the most skittish of lovers or it’ll all go sideways…like having your lover’s husband come through the door while you’re in mid-thrust.”

The lords and men had gotten a laugh out of that, but those who heard him believed his explanation nonetheless.

And it confirmed one thing in many minds at least: Lord Potter-Black didn’t need a crutch for his power, he was power.  He only used tools on occasion to direct it, not create it in the first place.  With that, all thought of perhaps stealing the wizard’s wand which had taken root in at least some minds was banished.

There was no point in stealing a tool when the one you stole it from could easily make another and you yourself couldn’t get any use from it nor sell it on.

“Can you save him?”  Robb asked, even knowing it was likely hopeless from the massive gash Lannister had cut along Grey Wind’s shoulder and back.  If that strike didn’t sever the direwolf’s spine it would be a miracle, let alone whatever magic Lord Harry was capable of working on him.

“Perhaps.”  Harry answered absently as he focused on fixing the worst of the damage.

He’d at least arrived within minutes of the blow being struck, Ghost having somehow felt the first blow and howled before the second and more deadly even landed.

“Direwolves are creatures of magic.”  Harry explained as he worked.  “Or at least have magical roots, much like those who claim the blood of the first men or old Valyria.  That means in theory I can heal Grey Wind.”  Harry shook his head and set his jaw mulishly.  “Except I’m not a gods-be-damned vet!”

“Can you help him at all?”  Robb asked, desperation filling his voice as he understood the point the wizard made even if he didn’t understand the final word which had been spat in some form of Valryian.

“Maybe.”  Harry said with a sigh as he continued to work over the intelligent familiar.  “He’s a familiar – which means he’s been linked to human magic before.  But the fact remains that I know only the barest amount about animal physiology and even less about direwolves as they didn’t exist in my old life.  I’ll do what I can for him.”  Harry looked up into worried, pain-filled blue eyes for the first time, his own turning gentle at the obvious sign of distress.  “You’ve my word on that.”  Harry spotted a wound seeping blood on the crouching Lord of the North.  “Go get yourself seen to, at least wash that out and wrap it up until I can see to you as well as your wolf.”  He jerked his head towards where Lady Dacey Mormont had set up a triage line.  “Go on.  You’re no good to Grey Wind or Jon dead or crippled now are you?”

Harry felt zero shame in guilting the fuck out of Robb Stark, even using the same argument they’d pressed on Ser Jaime to force his surrender.

Blowing out a breath as he turned back towards his canine patient, Harry eyed the direwolf warily.

“We’re about to get extremely close to one another, Grey Wind.”  Harry warned the unconscious canine.  “I hope you don’t take it personally when you wake up.  I like all my bits and pieces right where they are instead of as direwolf chew-toys.”

Hunching over the furry form, he set back to work, taking his best guess as to the physiology and sending out a prayer to the old gods and Death to do what they could to guide his hands.

He did not want to have to break Robb Stark’s heart.  Something about the hopeful look in those blue eyes as he stared at Harry over Grey Wind’s head.  Damn pretty bastards and their pretty, pretty eyes.

Yes.

Harry had a weakness and well he knew it.

However, this once he would have to abstain…unless an arrangement could be made with his lover and King.

Well.

That was an intriguing thought to consider another day.

For the moment he had to worry about healing a direwolf if he ever wanted a shot at shagging Grey Wind’s tight-arsed and pretty-eyed owner/familiar.

On another field of victory, Tywin Lannister looked out at the ruins of the Northern army in satisfaction but felt a lingering sense of unease.

Both the Stark direwolf and the Targaryen three-headed-dragon had been flown by the twenty-thousand strong foot army that his forces had routed and sent scurrying back towards the Neck, but there’d been no sign of the personal sigil of Jon Targaryen nor of his rumored right-hand.

He had seen the banners of many northern lords – but not them all.

Most concerning, he’d also seen banners traditionally sworn to the crownlands, many currently to Dragonstone and Stannis Baratheon, which either meant the Snow bastard who was parading himself as a prince of the Targaryen line had struck an alliance with Stannis – a stiff-necked idiot but not a stupid man for all his pride – or the hotbed of Targaryen loyalists had flocked to Snow’s banner regardless of Stannis’s own loyalties.

Both were worrisome in their own ways.

At the moment however, he wasn’t sure just which of the two problems would be easier to handle.

A rider on a lathered horse about ready to drop thundered into the victorious Lannister encampment, all but flying from the saddle in his haste to make it to Tywin’s side, a splinter of worry shoving its way into Tywin’s cold and dead heart.

No messenger would treat a horse like that unless the news was both urgent and dire.

Unease crept up his spine as the man stumbled to a stop before Tywin who stood in stoic repose outside the flap to his command tent.

“News, Lord Tywin.”  The man gasped out, hand shaking as he offered up a hastily-sealed missive.  “From Ser Prester.”

Dread coiled in the pit of Tywin’s stomach.

The Presters had been attached to Jaime’s army at Riverrun.

Tywin ripped open the missive as the messenger took to his heels, running for safety in the anonymity of the camp.  He didn’t want to be anywhere within leagues of Lord Lion right now if he could help it.  Nor would anyone of sense.

“They have my son.”  Tywin bit out quietly at first before roaring in enraged fury at the news the missive held.  The siege broken, hundreds of hostages taken, and the army scattered.  The casualties were estimated to number in the range of ten thousand men with hundreds more noblemen held for ransom.  Including his son, his pride, Jaime.  “They have my son!”  Tywin roared again like the wounded visage of his House’s sigil.

Grabbing the nearest of his Lords, he snapped out orders to be carried out immediately.

They were retreating to Harrenhal.

He would not risk staying any farther north until he had word of Jaime – and where he was being kept.

Word of what gods-forsaken place he would burn to the ground to reclaim his golden son and return him to his side.

And while he searched for that he would have his shame Tyrion, current Hand of the King, see if he could control Cersei’s arrogant whelp and perhaps prove himself useful for once and ransom his true son.

Oh, yes.  Before this war was over, the Starks and their bastard pretender would hear him roar.

Chapter Text

The Tomb of the First Men

Author’s Note: As the wave of inspiration is still going strong for this fic, Avalon Seven and my others keep being neglected.  But, I’ve learned that waves that this should be milked for every last drop of inspiration and every last letter on the page so I’m going to keep going with TotFM until it dries up.

Warning: This fic contains SLASH AND MPREG

Edited December 2016 for minor edits and content.  Original word count: 34,308; edited 34,490.

Act III: Paying the Iron Price

Lady Sansa Stark answered the summons sent for her, joining the monster Joffery as he insisted on having her presence at his side.

He took her arm in a mockery of a gentle, honorable, Lord’s duty to his Lady, leading her out to the Traitor’s walk.

Every step she took was filled with dread as Sandor Clegane, in his pure white cloak, followed after them the rest of the Kingsguard remaining behind at Joffery’s order.

“I have a gift for you my Lady.”  Joffery said with a twisted grin on his pointed face.  “I do so hope you’ll like it.”

Sansa gasped, barely holding back a cry, and a tear dripped from her lashes trekking down her porcelain face.  He’d done it.  She couldn’t believe it, couldn’t believe that his mother the Queen had allowed it.  If Jon and Robb weren’t enraged enough, this desecration would have them up in arms and killing without offering terms or mercy to any Lannister force that came their way.

There, on the spikes decorating the Traitor’s Walk for all of the Red Keep and King’s Landing to see, was the head of her noble Lord and father Eddard Stark.  Her tear-filled eyes gazed up at the macabre display before finally seeing the rest.  Every man and woman that had come southron with Lord Stark had been beheaded and now decorated the wall.

That Arya’s head wasn’t there as well as her own was down to the Queen having some measure of control over the rancid fruit of her womb.

Sansa didn’t fool herself into thinking that her continued survival was due to anything resembling mercy from Joffery and his Lannister kin.  No.  She knew that she was a political hostage, and thanks to Lord Harry now a spy for the north and her cousin the true King, surety against an attack on King’s Landing directly.

“Your brother defeated my uncle Jaime. My mother says it was treachery and deceit. She wept when she heard.”  Joffery bit out viciously, grabbing Sansa roughly by the arms and turning her to face him.  “I’m going to put his head on a spike as well,” he pointed to one of the open spikes flanking Lord Eddard’s severed head.  “And your bastard cousin along with them.”

“You’ll never defeat Jon.”  Sansa snapped out defiantly, pushing him away and breaking his hold on her.  “Not in a thousand-thousand years.  He is the rightful king of Westeros, the blood of the Dragon reborn, and you,” she sneered.  “Are nothing but a bastard son of a noble whore and her turncloak, kingslaying brother!”

Slap!

Sansa had never been more glad for Lord Harry’s gift than at that moment as her head turned and her cheek pinkened but she felt no pain.

Joffery held his hand, rubbing at the sting striking the traitor’s bitch had caused.

“Mother says a King oughtn’t strike his lady.”  He said idly, rage bringing an unhinged light to his pale green eyes.  “Dog.”  He snapped out.  “Discipline her for me.”

Face stony, Sandor Clegane turned and backhanded the Lady sharply, spinning her around and forcing her to fall onto her side on the rough cobblestones of the Traitor’s Walk.

“I am King.”  Joffery hissed out, kicking at her slumped form.  “And you will be my wife, your loyalty belongs to me.  Perhaps now you will remember that when you speak to me.”

Lady Sansa climbed back to her feet with stately dignity before bobbing a perfectly correct curtsey, face blank despite the bruising and blood the men saw from the illusion of her protective amulet.

“Yes, your Grace.”  She answered, voice bland.

Joffery whirled and stormed back inside the Keep, Sandor moving slowly to catch him but not before silently offering Sansa a clean white handkerchief.

“Thank you, Ser.”  Sansa said with true gratitude, taking the offering with one delicate, white hand.

“Ain’t no Ser, little bird.”  Sandor replied gruffly.  “Keep that.”  He nodded towards the kerchief, eyes troubled.  “You’re goin’ to need it, I think.”

Lord-Captain Victarion Greyjoy cursed the air blue as he and his men were repelled from Moat Cailin.

Balon’s brat had reported that the Northern army had taken most of the able-bodied men capable of fighting southron with the armies of the Young Dragon and Wolf.

By the time Victarion and some of the Iron Fleet had managed to run the Targaryen blockade surrounding the Iron Islands and make it to the swamplands that guarded the easiest access point to the North, either the troops had been reinforced by reserves or Theon had lied, for the thousand foot commanded by a southron knight were much more heavily supplied and ready for battle than a simple holding force should be.

The southron Ser, Victarion sneered at the green-lander fancy title, had flown the same colors as the fleet blockading Pyke and the other islands, that of the three-headed dragon as well as the sigil of House Velaryon.

They’d been out-flanked before the Iron Fleet even attempted to run the blockade.

Now Victarion was absent a full half of the ships he’d managed to lead through the blockade, a devastating loss in the wake of the fire and death rained down on the Iron Fleet by the Targaryen vessels.

Lord-Admiral Velaryon himself was behind that, Victarion would wager.  The green-lander’s father had been a close friend of the Mad King, right along that madman Rossart and his wildfire.  Whatever the concoction the Dragon Fleet was using against Balon, it wasn’t wildfire but it was damned close.  Some old Valyrian trick.

Growling, Victarion slammed one fist down on the railing of his ship and the flagship of the Iron Fleet the Iron Victory.

“What now, Captain?”  His navigator asked wary of a knife to his gullet at braving the black-temper of the Greyjoy Captain.

“Now?”  Victarion narrowed his eyes as he traced the fluid lines of the remaining dozen longships under his command at sea.  The rest of the Iron Fleet was keeping the Dragon Fleet busy and waiting for the reaving Iron Island captains to return from pillaging the Reach and the Westerlands in the wake of the war.

They’d done so originally under a writ from the Targaryen King, a writ that was rescinded the moment Balon got it in his head to declare himself King again.

Victarion obeyed his brother without question as the Lord of the Seastone Chair but that didn’t stop him from knowing a fool when he saw it.

This Targaryen wasn’t of the same cut of cloth as his Mad King grandfather or a pretty southron prince like his father, nor was he a craven willing to sue for peace like his Baratheon cousin.

No.

This was a Targaryen tempered by the ice of Winter and the blood of the Starks.

Even Victarion, who wasn’t known as the sharpest of minds, knew better than to tickle that sleeping dragon’s temper lest he rain down on them just what his family words promised: fire and blood.

“We’re running the blockade south.”  Victarion ordered the fleet.  “Prepare to raid Lannisport!”

He had no plans to be anywhere near the North or Pyke when Jon Targaryen finally had enough of Balon’s horse shit.  Victarion had done what Balon had ordered under false information provided by Balon’s weak green-land raised runt.  There would be seven-hells to pay before Balon’s second folly had run its course, Victarion had plans to build up a nice store of Lion gold before that day came.

Lord Jon Connington, exile of Westeros and close friend of the late Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, tapped the opened letter on the ship’s table before him.

It was addressed to Aegon, Rhaegar’s boy who he’d raised over the past years as his own son, the child being slipped out of the Red Keep as a babe under the noses of the Gold Cloaks and the attacking Lannister troops, courtesy of Varys.

A truth he’d believed for years.

Now with one letter to his ward, Lord Jon, also known as the sell-sword Griff of the Golden Company, found that it might all have been a lie designed by Varys in the pay of Illyrio Mopatis – though for what purpose Jon was reluctant to guess at.

The bastard cheesemonger, who lived an opulent life in Pentos, dared to make a play for putting his son on the Iron Throne in place of a legitimate heir.

Jon shuddered to think of the death of the real Aegon Targaryen, bashed against a wall like a rodent by Tywin Lannister’s dogs.

If, that is, this letter to ‘Aegon Blackfyre’ from Rhaegar’s son Jon was to be believed.

A situation that had Jon Connington doubting himself all over again.

Everyone back then knew Rhaegar was looking to take either a second wife or a consort.  It wasn’t a secret though now that Robert’s Rebellion was successful it was a fact along with many others that were swept under the rug.  Such as that Robert Baratheon who waged a war and won a crown on the backbone of ending the Targaryen dynasty, was a Targaryen himself through his own family – and more than once had the Baratheon line and that of House Targaryen crossed through marriage.  It was the only way the nobles would have accepted him on the Iron Throne in the first place, despite his successful military campaign.

Which…honestly…wasn’t all that successful.

Tywin Lannister was the one who took King’s Landing and he did so by having his Kingsguard son slay the very man he was supposed to protect and opening the gates of the city through deceit.

There was no grand victory for the rebellion troops.

Even Rhaegar’s death was an ignoble drowning after having his ribs caved in by Robert’s massive warhammer rather than an honorable one in single combat.

The rebels defeated the ‘evil’ Targaryen line on the backs of murdered children, a turncloak kingsguard, and a drowned crown prince.

Not the best basis for founding a new dynasty, a fact that had since been proved out with the newest outbreak of war in Westeros.

Still, none of that resolved the problem of Aegon or of what and who to believe.  It was a sticky situation all around.  Even if Aegon was Rhaegar’s son, it was still possible that he wasn’t the Targaryen with the best claim to the throne.  Connington knew that Rhaegar had started having an affair with Benjen Stark before the Tourney at Harrenhal that gave birth to so much trouble and strife.  Learning now that they had bonded before Benjen gave Rhaegar a son was no surprise at all, not like the strange accusations of Rhaegar having kidnapped Benjen’s sister Lyanna.

Aegon Targaryen was born in the last half of the year 282 AC, “dying” within six months when the Lannister troops sacked the city.

If Jon’s Aegon was that Aegon then he was the younger son of Rhaegar, giving Jon Targaryen the foremost claim to the Iron Throne above his younger brother and his Aunt Daenerys.

If, if, if.

If he wasn’t Rhaegar’s Aegon then he was likely either the Blackfyre/Brightflame scion that Jon Targaryen suspects or simply a Volantene or Lysene child with old Valyrian looks, neither of which gives him a claim to the Iron Throne.

It was all a muddle, caused in equal parts by the concerns of the two Targaryens in Westeros, Jon and old Maester Aemon, and that of the architects of Aegon’s very existence on way or another, Illyrio Mopatis and Varys the Spider who brought Aegon to Jon in the first place.

Aegon, seeing his distraction wandered over.

“What is it, Lord Connington?”  He asked formally, still not used to their new dynamic in the wake of the revelation of his true identity.

“Troublesome news.”  Jon answered after several moments of searching that young handsome face for any sign of his old friend.  But it was a fool’s prospect.  It had been too long since he’d seen Rhaegar, and the old Valyrian blood too strong.  Discerning one from another was hard without being on close acquaintance with them at times.

“Anything I can help with?”

“No, Aegon.”  Jon brushed him off.  “Go back to your studies.  We’ll be meeting up with Harry and the others soon.”

“Oh?”  Aegon perked up, his interested peeked anew.  “Why?  Something to do with the letter?”

“Something like that.”  Jon nodded, lips thinly set in a grim line.

No matter what course Jon took from here on out, he would need his old friends of the Golden Company at his side.

It was time to get some straight answers out of that fat old bastard in his Pentosi palace, before choosing the wrong path cost his ward his pretty silver head.

Daenerys Stormborn, proud daughter House Targaryen and Princess of Dragonstone, stared out from her tent at the just-shy of a thousand Dothraki and former slaves that had stayed with her after Drogo had been poisoned and bespelled by a godswife.

Proving herself a daughter of Fire and Blood, she had done what was necessary to free her beloved Khal before strapping that damned witch, who had betrayed her trust and cost her both beloved husband and unborn son, to Drogo’s funeral pyre.  Taking her family’s ancient words to heart, Daenerys had placed the petrified dragon eggs that still burned with internal fire at the feet of Mizzi Maz Dur as the witch burned for her crimes against a Dragon Princess, before entering the flames herself.

Fire cannot harm a dragon.  She thought once more as the largest of her clutch, Drogon, climbed up her braid to perch on her shoulder.

It was a great price she had paid to become the Mother of Dragons: husband, son, adopted people.  But she couldn’t say that if given the choice to go back and undo time to before the witch had set it all in motion that she would take a different path.  Targaryens had been trying to rebirth the age of dragons for over a hundred years, only for it to be accomplished be a lone princess betrayed and far from home.

Such things were the events songs were made of, she decided a bit whimsically, thinking of Viserys’s tales.

When he’d been in a good mood at least, and more of a mind to pet her hair and tell stories than pinch, shout, or slap at her.

Jorah walked towards her with a bowl, likely holding whatever Rakharo had managed to hunt for their meal.  With the rest of the khalasar divided among Drogo’s former blood-riders, food was slim but so far they’d managed to get by.  It was an untenable situation they were in, she acknowledged.

Drogo’s blood-riders had insisted on her going back to Vaas Dothrak and joining the Dosh Khaleen, the widows of the great Khals, as another wise woman.

They’d left her to grieve in relative peace but she knew it wouldn’t last long before they returned and slaughtered everyone that tried to keep them from taking her away – either taking or killing her dragon children in the process.

Once Jorah joined her, Daenerys giving him a soft smile in thanks as she took her bowl, she pointed out at the barren plain they’d been walking alongside for the last several days, staying to the border region between Lhazar and the desert.

“What is that place, Jorah?”  She asked tipping the bowl up at her lips and drinking some of the watery broth before picking out the chunks of meat to share between herself and her children.

“It’s the Red Waste, khaleesi.”  Jorah Mormont answered in his strange accent that was half-northern-Westerosi and half-Dothraki.  “Hundreds of leagues of barren wastelands without grass or water.  Populated by a few ruined cities.  Crossing it would be the shortest route to Qarth and the more eastern Essosi cities but no khalasar would dare it.  Their horses would die by the hundreds if they tried.”

“No khalasar would cross it?”  Daenerys repeated, arching a brow.

She had another idea, likely just as insane as climbing onto her husband’s funeral pyre in an attempt to hatch dragon eggs.

But the khalasars were getting closer every day and Daenerys could almost feel the patience ending inside of Drogo’s blood-riders.

“It would be suicide khaleesi.”  Jorah lowered his voice to a bare whisper, not wanting to give away their topic to the remnants of a khalasar that followed the silver-haired Mother-of-Dragons.  “The Red Waste would kill most of your people and all but a few of the animals – if not every living thing – before we were able to cross it.  There are no markers, no way to navigate the landscape.  Entering it we could very well wander the desert until all of us died…including your dragons.”

“Yes, Jorah.”  Daenerys said with a sigh, tilting her head to look up into his worried gaze with her determined violet eyes.  “But if we do not dare it my dragons will either be taken or dead and I might as well be as a prisoner at Vaas Dothrak among the dosh khaleen.”  She looked away at the barren red plain and nodded, decision made.  “We’ll try it.  We have no choice.”

Jorah sighed.  “As you will, khaleesi.”

Harry tucked his wand away in its holster hidden in his mithril and leather gauntlet before rocking back on his heels and giving his neck a much-needed and relief-giving crack.

Rolling his shoulders the wizard-cum-healer looked right and left, searching for another body in need of healing.  After doing what he could for Grey Wind and wrapping the remaining superficial wounds in clean bandages he’d conjured, he’d transfigured a stretcher and helped Robb attach it to his horse’s tack, the direwolf safely asleep in a healing coma.  Animal anatomy might be different from human or the creatures he’d studied in his old world, but thankfully some spells and potions worked no matter who or even what you used them on…so long as the recipient was magical in nature.

And the direwolves are definitely magical, of that Harry had no doubts.

Seeing Grey Wind taken care of, he’d turned to the direwolf’s master and healed up a couple of wounds that Robb had either ignored or simply not noticed in the adrenaline rush from the battle.

From there, he’d moved throughout the whispering woods, seeing to their wounded and making sure all the hostages and prisoners were securely bound before using one of his favorite tricks in this new world and turning their bonds into a port-key, sending them along with some of Robb’s men to guard them to the gates outside Riverrun.

Now, what seemed like days but was probably only a couple hours later, Harry looked around for another person to treat and found himself without work to do in the middle of a field of bodies, the prisoners all having been taken away via port-key and only a few dozen Northern men waiting on him and guarding him and the injured as he moved through the field.  Feeling a few aches and pains of his own that he’d ignored, Harry grimaced and got his wand back out with a sigh, a Scourgify and a Episkey taking care of a gash on his leg and another on his shoulder, both from Jaime Lannister’s wicked swordwork.  With another few flicks of his wand he was clean from head-to-toe after being elbow-deep in blood and guts since the battle began both as a fighter or a healer.

“That’s a handy trick.”  A young, compelling voice said from behind him.  “It was impressive the way you healed, of that there’s no doubt.”  Robb Stark continued, one hand on the reins of his horse as he watched Harry from deep blue eyes, meeting the wizard’s gaze easily when he turned to face him as his words.  “But being able to get clean without soap or water has to be a boon.”

“Comes in handy, you’re right.”  Harry rolled his shoulders once more, feeling every ache now that he didn’t have anything else to focus on.  “But nothing beats the hot springs under Winterfell for cleaning up.”

And for other things, he thought himself with a gleam in his eye, remembering being pinned against a wall by a randy king.

“Quite.”  Robb said drily with a hidden roll of his eyes.  He had a damned good idea what the wizard/warrior was thinking about with that look in his emerald eyes.  “Come on then,” he jerked his head towards the horse.  “You’ve done what you can here, Jon’s going to think I kidnapped you if we dally here much longer.”

“There wasn’t much dallying going on, more the shame.”  Harry shot back with a flirtatious grin and a sad sigh and shrug of his shoulders.  “But there’s likely a thousand more men needing seeing to at Riverrun, I’ll take a moment to catch my breath were I can.”

Robb shook his head with a snort.  You’d think he’d been raised by Ned Stark alongside him and his cousin with Harry’s ethic of work and duty.  “If you think Jon’s going to let you heal yourself into the ground you’re mad.”  He told him plainly.  “You fought in two battles, held your own in single combat, and then healed Grey Wind and dozens of my men.  You need rest, not a thousand injured men to heal, or to use any more energy in that disappearing trick you have.”  He patted the saddle of his horse in an inviting manner after swinging himself up as he spoke.  “Come on, then, let’s get you back to Riverrun and a soft bed.  Promise I won’t bite.”

“Where’s the fun in that?”  Harry joked half-heartedly as he took the offered hand and allowed Robb to help him swing into the saddle behind the Northern lord.

“Hold on,” Robb commanded, clicking quietly at his courser as the other knights who’d remained with him to guard the wizard and wounded fell in, many of them also with stretchers attached to their tack.  Most of the men had been able to walk or ride back to Riverrun but a few of the more severely injured had to be carried.  Thankfully, Harry was able to whip up a stretcher in no time at all with his wand.  “Don’t be shy about falling asleep if you need to.”  He added after lean arms wrapped around his waist.  Robb tapped the back of one arm gently with a gloved finger.  “I won’t let you fall.”

“M'kay.”  Harry said, tucking his cheek in close against Robb’s rich fur, the Lord having put it back on after scrubbing the worst of the blood off his armor after helping Harry with Grey Wind and some of the worst injuries.

“Sleep, Harry.”  Robb chuckled under his breath, former resentment having dissolved after having the wizard save both his arse and Grey Wind’s.  It was hard to hate a man that took such care with his canine best-friend.  “I’ll get you back to Riverrun in one piece.”

This time the only answer from the wizard at his back was a soft sleepy-sigh, the man already more than half-asleep.

“Move out!”  Robb ordered, nudging his horse with his heels.  “Let the Lannisters return for their dead…if they dare!”

“It’s having an effect.”

Harry knew that echoing voice anywhere.

Death had once more come to visit.

Opening his dreaming-eyes, Harry cast a glance around himself and climbed to his feet.  He was in the middle of the Whispering Wood, the battlefield still strewn with the bodies of dead soldiers and knights, the shadow-and-flame wreathed figure at his side.  Always with the dramatics, Death, Harry mused to himself with an internal chuckle.

“What’s having an effect?”  He asked the deity once he was certain of the dream.  He knew his body was still on the back of a horse bound for Winterfell, the Lord of the North watching over him.  He hadn’t suddenly fallen or keeled over and wound up dead and was finally greeting his oldest friend for the last time.

No.

It was just a dream.

“Your magic.”  Death turned to face him after reaping another soul from the field.

Wars were always so much work.

And this one was shaping up to be especially bloody, though with his Harry’s help the death toll will hopefully not be as high as it had once been fated to be.

“My magic?”  Harry furrowed his brow.  Maybe it was the aftereffects of the fighting and all the healing he’d done but he felt particularly slow.  “My magic always has an effect, that’s rather the point of it.”

“No.”  If Death could sound exasperated with his smoked-ice voice, then that was what Harry was hearing.  “Not in that way.  Your magic is having a greater effect than a port-key here or a healing spell there.”

The spectre waved one cloaked arm gesturing towards the wider world.

“Magic is waking.”  Death intoned with heavy meaning.  “Waking in the land and in the people.”

“Traveling.”  Harry breathed, eyes wide with shock.  “I used magic to travel all over Westeros from the moment I woke.  And I used magic while I traveled as well.  Heating charms, cleaning charms, Incendios, wards, plus what I used to augment my animagus form’s speed.  And the people…”

“Yes.”  Death nodded, giving the feeling of smiling at Harry from within the shadowed depths of his cloak.  “There had always been magic in this world.  The Children of the Forests, the First Men, the Rhoynar aquamancers, the blood of Old Valyria with their dragonlords and pyromancers.  Direwolves, dragons, and other magical creatures.  But then…”  He sighed, weary with the pain of what had been forced upon this world.  It was never meant to be this way.

“It was smothered.”  Harry tilted his head to one side, remembering the theories he’d come up with on his travels.  “Suppressed somehow in Westeros that has even started to effect the other continents.  The only word of magic I’ve heard has been of Qarth and Asshai, all the way on the eastern half of Essos.”

“And then a Targaryen princeling with Stark blood in his veins traveled to the Far North and woke a sleeping man from time beyond memory.”  Death tapped his scythe on the chest of another dead body, reaping the soul.  “Now magic is starting to wake once more.  With every potion you offer those of magical blood that was suppressed for generations.  Every port-key and enchanted item that passes into other hands.  Every Charm and Transfiguration and even Curse.”  Death looked at Harry with eyes wreathed in flames from the depths of his hood.  “You wake the ancient magics a little more and allow the gods to wake with them.”

“I knew it.”  Harry rolled his eyes and threw his arms in the air in outraged disgust.  “I knew you twats were playing with me again.  All that shite about fate and bonds and rewards.  I knew there was something more to it.  Jon’s blood is some of the most magical I’ve seen in Westeros but there was no way it was enough to undo a set of enchantments that hadn’t been broken in over ten thousand years – or was it even more, even longer than that?”  Harry asked bitterly.  “All the gods were content to let me rot in my punishing sleep, until, at last, they had a use for me.”

“You have cause to be angered.”  Death’s voice was implacable.  “This I allow.  However, not all of us were as content in your state as you’ve charged us.  But even the gods have laws, Harry Potter.  Even Death has rules that must be obeyed.  Jon Stark-Targaryen was the tool we used to wake you, yes.  But only because without him we were unable to interfere.”

Harry cursed once more, knowing his oldest friend was right.

The divine had rules and laws, just as those who worshipped them did.

He knew they required a catalyst to work in the mortal realms, often a most-devout believer or one of their half-mortal children.

But when all he knew was dead and gone away, leaving him in a world as strange to his eyes as the dark side of the moon, logical arguments like Death’s weren’t the most welcome to his ears.

Grief, betrayal, heartbreak: none of these were ever pretty or easy to deal with, and Harry had been unable to work through them in his waking-sleep, leaving them to fester for millennia.  Blaming the gods was easier than blaming the woman who was once a mother to him, or the best-friend who’d betrayed him, the lover who didn’t have enough influence to save him, or even his own conceit that they’d never be able to move against him.  All those and hundreds more thoughts whirled through the bowels of his mind, welling up at the most inconvenient moments and forcing him to shove them back down or meet them head on.

Shoving them down was his preference, allowing him to lose himself in facing the challenges of this place and time, reveling in the violent part of his nature that he’d spent most of his living years suppressing and his sleeping years unable to unleash.

There was a catharsis in bloodshed that he’d never known before and gave him a better understanding of Tom after all the years that had passed since Harry had killed him.

“So, now what?”  Harry asked with an exhausted sigh.  “You’re here to tell me good-show-old-boy for helping wake magic or is there some other shitty thing the gods want me to take care of?”

“I don’t know, Harry.”  Death said obliquely.  “You called me here – I was just supplying conversation.  A moot point anyway.”  Death gave an amused chuckle.  “It’s time to wake up, Harry.  Just continue being yourself, child.  It’ll all work out in the end.”

“See now,” Harry complained even as he felt himself being awoken.  “I was enjoying our little chat and you had to go all Dumbledore on me…”

Death laughed.

The sound of Death’s laughter was still ringing in Harry’s ears as he woke to the sight and sensation of Robb Stark gently shaking him awake, the cessation of motion from the horse originally starting the process of pulling him from his lucid dream.

“Wake up, Harry.”  Robb demanded gruffly.  “We’re here and there’s a King flying this way.”

“M’kay.”  Harry groaned, sitting up and releasing his hold on the Northern Lord.  “’m awake.”

Robb gave a chuckle and a quirked brow at that.  “If you say so.”  He held out his arm for Harry to clasp and helped lower the sleepy man to his feet, swinging off to join him.

Harry gave Robb a very mature extended tongue in response, unable to do or say much of anything else as he was swept up in a crushing hug by a very worried king, Jon’s guards for the night Ser Arthur and Ser Oswell looking on with expressions of humor, which broke into an out-right grin from Arthur and a smirk from Oswell when Harry repeated his childish action of sticking out his tongue at them when he saw their amusement at his predicament.

His predicament being a very rapid and strung together outpouring of concern, demands, and chides as Jon searched him for any signs of injury that would’ve prevented him from just popping back to the king’s side after checking on Robb.

“Jon, Jon, Jon.”  Harry finally barked in exasperation, batting away his hands as the king tried to prod at a scratch on his cheek, the other man having finally slowed his rant down while the others around them had broken into smothered chuckles and guffaws at the sight.  “I’m fine, lover.”  He stressed, not bothering to hide their relationship with only Robb and the Kingsguard within earshot, though many more were observing them with vary displays of amusement, shock, or even disapprobation on their faces.

“You didn’t come back.”  Jon narrowed his eyes, emotions bouncing between relief, concern, irritation, and something like jealousy ever since he was given word that Robb and Harry had finally arrived with the rest of the men from the Whispering Woods.  Though the jealousy hadn’t appeared until he’d seen Harry snuggled up against his cousin without a care in the world.

Not that he was jealous.

Nope.

Jealousy was an emotion unbecoming in a King.

He was just…worried over whatever injuries Harry might’ve had that kept him from coming back magically after the battles.

Yes.

Jon was certain that was it.

There was also zero confusion over which of them he’d been jealous of.

Not at all confused.

And any confusion that might be present was all Harry’s fault anyway for putting the idea about Robb in his head.

Sure, Jon might’ve noticed that Robb was handsome and fit beneath the piles of furs they wore in the North.  As close as they’ve always been, it would’ve been impossible for him not to notice.  But that was all it was just…noticing.

Now that Harry had brought attention Robb’s possible feelings for him, Jon was doing a lot more than simply noticing, much to his own chagrin.  This wasn’t the man, the king, his uncle had raised him to be.  Ned had taken a lead in Jon’s upbringing with Rhaegar dead and Benjen taking the Black to keep questions regarding Jon’s parentage quiet.  Anyone seeing him standing alongside Robb or Arya wouldn’t question that he was a Stark.

But put him next to his bearer and it became very evident that whoever was Jon’s other parent, they were of Old Valyrian blood, which could have led to someone remembering that Benjen and Rhaegar had struck up a friendship over the course of both visiting the Eyrie at the same time: Benjen to see his uncle and tour lands that he might inherit and Rhaegar on a progress of the Seven Kingdoms.

It was a risk Benjen hadn’t been willing to take, allowing Ned to become in many ways both father and mother to his son.

Jon had tutors and lessons from the Kingsguard in disguise, he went on trips to the various southron holdings of the Targaryen loyalists and struck up friendships with their sons.  Through much of it Robb was at his side, the two of them only separated when Benjen took him to the Wall for lessons with Maester Aemon or southron with the Kingsguard to the Targaryen loyalists.  That much time among the Starks had reinforced their ideals of behavior and lordly conduct.

As it had been meant to.

However, the other times, the times away from Northern sensibilities, times rich with tales of the Targaryen dynasty and Old Valyria, those lessons stuck as well; creating a king with equal parts Stark honor and pragmatism married to Targaryen sensuality and passion.

And it was the Targaryen side that was roused at the sight of his lover riding so closely in saddle with Robb, at the sight of hips and buttocks snugged tight and lean arms wrapped around a strong waist.

His Uncle Ned would have chided him for the thoughts and images that sight had conjured in him, Ser Arthur would have said he reminded him of his father, the southron lords would have laughed at his Stark prudishness and his Targaryen appetite.

Jon found himself stuck on what Maester Aemon would council.

Aemon Targaryen, the blood of the dragon rich in his veins, would have told him that true dragons of their line were intoxicated by two things above all else: power and passion.  And once found, like a dragon, Targaryens tended to want to horde it for themselves.  What that could mean for his Black Dread, Aemon would say, was up for Jon himself to decide.

“There was healing to be done once the Kingslayer was dealt with, your Grace.”  Harry quirked a brow.  “You know how I am about healing.”

“I know.”  Jon shook his head, not bothering to hide a roll of his eyes.  “I know.  Let me guess,” he spoke over Harry’s head to the amused Robb.  “He didn’t stop until nearly unconscious and then you had to badger him onto a horse instead of draining himself further?”

“Something like that, Cousin.”  Robb gave a small laugh at how well Jon called Harry’s behavior.  “He started with Grey Wind moments after we knocked down Lannister and didn’t stop until the last man of ours was seen to.”

“Speaking of,” Harry removed his wand and pointed it at the sleeping direwolf, giving a swish-and-flick at had Grey Wind hovering in the air.  “Where am I taking him?”

“Rooms have been given over in Riverrun for myself and the other Lords and high nobles.”  Jon told his lover.  “Robb’s is across from my room.”  He leaned closer and whispered in Harry’s ear as the Kingsguard led the way at Jon’s gesture forward.  “You’re in a connecting room beside me while the Kingsguard have another on the opposite side of my suite.  But your door connects to my bedchamber, theirs to the antechamber.”

“Most excellent planning your Grace.”  Harry shot him a coy look from under inky lashes, keeping Grey Wind levitated with barely a thought as he followed the King and his guard through the warm halls of the Tully stronghold.  “I take it we’re not even pretending before the southron lords to be anything but lovers?”

“If they even say anything which they likely won’t.”  Jon answered with a firm look.  “I’ll not hide you like some shameful secret.  You’re my lover and strong right-arm.  I won’t give you up to please some prudish southron lord or lady.”

“Hmm.”  Harry gave a pleased hum under his breath.  They hadn’t exactly been discrete on the march southron from Greywater Watch where Harry rejoined Jon, nor had they been in the day between coming together at Winterfell and Harry leaving for his travels.  But they hadn’t been shouting it from the rooftops either and he wasn’t sure what his place would be once Jon started dealing with nobles that didn’t know him or owe him any allegiance outside of his royal name.

Jon wouldn’t have been the first claimant to a throne or even a lordship to bow to the presiding attitudes of the day.

Choosing to lay with men rather than women wasn’t forbidden or a sin in the eyes of the people but neither was it celebrated.  And children borne of such unions were even rarer than the couples themselves.  Most noble men preferred not to take a chance on a male lover being unable to bear children over a female who unless having an affliction of some sort, would easily be able to give them heirs.

Even Jon’s father Rhaegar hadn’t bonded Benjen as his consort until Benjen was with child according to what Jon had said his bearer told him of his relationship with his father.

They had loved each other yes, deeply enough that Rhaegar was willing to help Lyanna escape a betrothal she abhorred.

But Rhaegar had needed his next spouse to give him strong sons and heirs to the throne, which would have precluded Benjen unless he, as had happened, proved himself capable of supplying the needed offspring.

Thanks to the magic that was utilized in his former reality, Harry already knew he had the ability to bear children, and had been using contraceptive charms whenever he’d taken a dominant male lover.

A practice he’d maintained after waking in Westeros, though he was unsure how effective would be with the amount of wild magic he was exposed to on a daily basis with the native magics of the land forcing their way through him, all but begging to be used.

Male pregnancy required magic.  Period.  The end.  In that way he wasn’t surprised that lines with close ties to the First Men or Old Valyria, both rich with magical heritage, were able to claim male bearers.

Children from a male pregnancy tended to have a deeper connection to magic as well, which was why Jon ended up being an effective conduit for the gods to work their will in waking Harry.  Being born through magical means such as male pregnancy effected the offspring all their lives.  Jon was already showing signs of being a warg and was taking well to the meditation and rudimentary Occlumency Harry had introduced him to as a way of calming and ordering his thoughts as he made plans regarding the Seven Kingdoms.

Jon ordering a connecting chamber was as good as a declaration.  As far as his people were concerned, Harry was either his betrothed or his official, royal, lover.  It was up to Harry which he would prefer, Jon’s decision shouting to him loud and clear through his declarative action.

It should have been an easy choice to make, especially in light of knowing he could provide heirs and that if he didn’t stake some sort of official claim on his dragon that Jon would have prospects thrust under his nose and trying to worm their way into his bed constantly.

And to another, it would have been.

Another, however, wouldn’t be Harry.

And, for Harry, deciding on whether or not to accept an unvoiced proposal from a King was not an easy decision to make.

Before he could wind himself up any further over the implications of his room’s location and what he was going to do with them or about them, they reached the hall where said room was located.  Jon motioned to what was to be Robb’s room, Harry quickly entering and laying Grey Wind down on the furs amassed next to the fire.  With a flick of his wand, Harry checked the direwolf’s status and satisfied for the moment, removed the magical healing coma.

“He’ll sleep naturally now.”  Harry rose to his feet and reported to the handsome northern lord watching him with unfathomable blue eyes.  “So far he’s doing fine, healing quickly with a little help from the magical boost I gave him but,” he gave a lightning-quick grin, white teeth flashing in the dim room.  It was only the two of them, Jon and the Kingsguard waiting patiently or not-so-patiently in the hall.  “Try and keep him as calm as you can.  Bring him meals and let him walk – not run or jump walk,” he stressed.  “In the yard as much as he wants for now.  He should be back to normal in a week or so.”  Harry scrubbed one hand through his hair, mussing the long strands that he’d tied back.  “But that’s just a guess.  I’ve never worked on a creature like him before.”

“Thank you, Harry.”  Robb’s eyes gleamed in the firelight, his face warming from its usual stern demeanor with the relieved smile he gave.  “I know I should’ve said it before, what with you saving my hide from the Kingslayer and then turning around and looking after my mutt of a direwolf but I’m saying it now: thank you.”  He clasped Harry’s shoulders with both hands, giving them a firm squeeze, staring the other man straight in the eye.  “You’ll always be welcome at Winterfell and have a friend in the Starks after this night, I swear it.”

“You’re welcome, Lord Stark.”  Harry reached up and gently echoed Robb’s clasping of his shoulders, not prolonging the contact.  Robb’s hands followed his own, somewhat reluctantly to Harry’s observant eye, releasing him.  “I was only doing what my heart and honor demanded of me.  Nothing more and nothing less.”

“Then it’s all the more impressive for it.”  Robb answered, before turning and allowing the smaller man to walk to the door.  “You’re an interesting and intriguing man, Harry Potter-Black, and not at all what I’d thought you.”

“Same, Robb Stark.”  Harry flashed another grin over his shoulder before slipping through the door.  “You’re much less surly than you’d appeared.”

Harry took his leave, Robb’s chuckle following him out the door, to the sight of a patently-impatient king awaiting him, back against the opposite door and foot tapping on the flagstones.

“You’re there.”  Jon jerked his head towards one of the doors flanking his own before opening the door he’d leaned against and ushering Harry through it.  “More for appearances than anything.”  Jon explained, shooing the wizard over to a steaming tub.  “But I wanted you to have your own space nonetheless, that way you can come-and-go at will without having to worry about popping into anyone on accident and splinching.”  Jon tested out the strange word on his tongue, remembering it from when Harry was explaining his various methods of magical travel.

Part of him was snarling over whatever had kept Harry longer than required in Robb’s rooms – and whatever that had made Robb laugh to boot – but he ruthlessly pushed it down.

Harry was safe, in his rooms and soon his arms.

They’d won, a decisive victory, in both the battle to break the siege and the trap for Jaime Lannister.  And they both made it out safe with only a few wounds to account for being in battle at all.  They’d won.

Jon felt his blood heat, both at the sight of Harry stripping down and sinking into the water with a sigh, and at the reminder of battle.

His lover eyed him from the depths of the hammered-copper tub, a sure sign that Riverrun had hosted royalty before.  “Aren’t you going to join me?”  Harry asked with mock-innocence in his tone and a smirk on his lips.

The Targaryen scion gave a little growl, eyes eating up the sight of golden-cream skin half-hidden and half-revealed by the clear water.  His strong hands made quick work of the fur cloak and clean linen shirt and leather pants and boots, shucking them without care of the richness of the materials for once, and striding over to join his lover in the tub.  Or, at least he was.

Right up until Harry shot forward from his reclining position with a harsh scowl on his face.

Oh.

Right.

That.

“And when, your grace.”  Harry’s voice was silky with danger, his eyes glinting in the light, as he reached over and collected his wand from the low table beside the tub.  “Were you going to inform your lover and healer that you’d been wounded?”

“Ser Arthur cleaned it.”  Jon tried to defend himself, arousal temporarily dampened at the chiding look and tone Harry had taken.  “It didn’t seem that serious.”

Harry gave a growl of his own at that shoddy defense.  In Westeros there was no such thing as a minor wound.  With their lack of wound hygiene measures and medicine against infection, every wound every illness could turn fatal in a blink of an eye.

Scourgify.”  Harry snapped out the cleansing charm, following it up with another, deeper wound disinfecting spell when he saw that the gash went several inches into the meat of his lover’s side.  Thankfully it didn’t hit anything vital and was a clean cut, not a ragged gash or tear, but Jon still should’ve reported it as soon as Harry returned to Riverrun.

And if not Jon then the Kingsguard, something he would be taking up with Lord Commander Dayne at the first opportunity.

“Merlin, Jon, it’s deep.”  Harry continued to scold in between healing spells, shaking his head as he searched out any other injuries the King might’ve forgotten to mention.  He knew Jon’s blood still had to be up after the battle, and was eager to sate himself in his lover, but that was no excuse for neglecting himself when he was trying to claim the Seven Kingdoms!

“But clean.”  Jon reminded him.  “Ser Arthur cleaned it and wrapped it, a Maester was offered but I knew you’d want to deal with it yourself.  I simply was…distracted before I could tell you.”

Harry snorted at that.  Distracted his arse.  More like distracted by his arse.

“There’s no hope for it.”  Harry sighed under his breath.  “Going to take more than a simple healing charm on this.  Hold still.”  He ordered.  “This will sting.  No more than you deserve.”  Harry muttered under his breath and then began chanting while circling his wand over the wound with hypnotic twirls, remembering sharply the first time he ever saw this spell used – to heal damage Harry himself had caused.

“Vulnera sarentur.  Vulnera sarentur.  Vulnera sarentur.”  He half-sang half-chanted the spell that Severus Snape had created as a counter to his vicious Sectumsempra.  It was a testament to that man’s genius that it worked as a powerful wound healing charm as well, working on open wounds too serious for a simple Episkey.

Eyeing the wounds as they mended, Harry gave a firm nod setting his wand aside and absently sending out a wordless/wandless summons of his pack.  He gave a knowing smirk at Jon when it flew out from the king’s bedchamber instead of the room next door that was ostensibly for Harry’s usage.  Reaching into it, he drew out a delicate, beaded, women’s drawstring bag and began to dig through the enchanted space for the potions he sought.  Finally locating them he handed them over to Jon.

“Here,” he ordered, retying the closure on the bag and placing it once more in the larger pack before setting it aside.  “Basic healing draught and a blood-replenisher.  They’ll taste like dragon-piss.”  Harry told him honestly but utterly without sympathy.  “But they’ll stave off infection and any nasty bugs that might’ve infected you while you ran around with an open wound.”

“Yes, Harry.”  Jon replied obediently, not wanting to irritate his lover further.  Grimacing all the way through, he knocked the two vials back before exchanging the empties for a glass of wine Harry had poured to wash the potions down.  Healing completed, Jon joined Harry in the tub, the wizard casting a heating charm on the rapidly-cooling water.

A question rang in Jon’s mind and he posed it to the healer before he could be once again distracted by miles and miles of gleaming-wet-golden-skin.

“Why don’t you use your potions more often?”

“Supply.”  Was the answer Harry gave with a shrug as he let down his hair and began to scrub it clean.  “Many of them require ingredients I may not be able to find easily or at all.  Until I have a chance to experiment with what’s readily available in Westeros or can be procured from other locales, I don’t want to waste the stock I have.”

Ducking his head, he flipped his hair back as he came out of the water and shrugged an unrepentant look on his face.  “Are there men outside who I can easily heal with a potion: of course.  Am I going to?”  He arched a brow and shook his head.  “Probably not.  I have a great supply of potions but I have to weigh saving a stranger’s life now versus possibly saving your life, or my life, or even Ghost’s life later.”

“It bothers you.”  Jon said, knowing what he did about the other man.  “Having the means to save lives or even improve them but being held back by your own logic and practicality.”

“In the extreme.”  Harry sighed and rested his head against Jon’s chest, the king having climbed in behind him.  “I hate this part of it.  This part of being in a strange place.  I did what I always did in the Tomb: used what I had on hand regardless of thought or consequences.  That’s my nature, or used to be.”  Harry rolled his eyes.  “Jump in feet-first without looking.  Always ready to save someone else, always fearless in the face of danger.”

“I could see that.”  Jon nodded his head thoughtfully, reaching up to rub at Harry’s tense shoulders and back.  “I’ve seen you do it a time or two myself.  It’s why I had no issue with you running off to save Robb during the battle.”

“Harry Potter: the Golden-Boy of Gryffindor.”  He laughed derisively.  “That’s what some used to call me, when I was younger and in school.  Gryffindors prided ourselves for our courage and bravery you see.”  He explained, rolling his eyes.  “Or as a teacher once called it our ‘reckless idiocy’,” he held up his hands making air quotes to Jon’s puzzlement at the gesture.  “I want to save them.”  He whispered.  “But I’ve learned to count the cost of every life.  If it means that in a decade I won’t have a potion to save someone I love?”  He shook his head, a tear running unchecked down his cheek.  “That’s a sacrifice I’ve been trying to come to terms with.”

“Sacrifice.”  Jon rumbled, wrapping his strong arms around his lover’s bare shoulders, nose nuzzling into damp hair.  “Maybe that’s what we should use for your words.  From what you’ve told me…I’d say it’s accurate.”

Harry huffed another laugh, swiping away the wayward tear.  “What shall it say?”  He joked.  “Magic, idiocy, sacrifice?”

Jon squeezed his arms around Harry, a silent chide for his dismissiveness.  Family and even personal words were important in Westeros.  If Harry was going to actually be a Lord here, then he would need words.

“I was thinking more: Magic, Honor, Sacrifice.”  Jon spoke solemnly.  “The words of House Potter-Black, words worthy of a consort to the Iron Throne.”

“Consort.”  Harry breathed out shakily.  He knew Jon was going to bring it up he just didn’t think it would be this soon.  “Jon…”

“I’m not rushing you.”  The King rose from the water, wrapping a drying sheet around himself that had been warming by the fire and tying it securely, before turning and offering the second to Harry, helping him from the tub and wrapping and tying him in the warmed cotton in turn.  “I’m not.  But.”  He stared down into shadowed emerald eyes.  He could see Harry’s warring feelings within them, his eyes always giving him away even when he presented a blank, controlled aspect to the world.  “I want you to consider, carefully, whether when the time comes for me to make a decision if you would even want to be a part of it.  We’ve known each other for several turns, Harry.”  Jon reminded him.  “A chance I’m not likely to get again.  I will have to take a consort.  And likely soon with the way the Lords have started behaving after our win at the Twins.  A King needs a Queen or in this case a Consort at his side.”

“I know that.”  Harry’s breathing was still not-quite-steady.  “I do.  And I know in Westeros people marry quickly after knowing each other a short time or not at all due to contracts and betrothals and trying to preserve family lines.”  His smile was a little wobbly but at least it was there.  “I promise to consider it, Jon, and give you an answer soon…but I want you to consider something in turn.”

“Anything.”  Jon promised his little lover, gently palming Harry’s cheek.

“Do you think, honestly,” Harry quirked a half-smile.  “That a single lover for the rest of your days is going to be enough? Ah!”  He stopped whatever denials were sure to spill from Jon’s opening lips.  “I just want you to consider it, lover.  You’re only eighteen.”  Harry’s eyes and voice turned gentle with understanding.  “Fresh off a major victory and on the verge of a long, uphill battle to claim your throne.  I know you need a consort but if I am the one you want then you need to know that the magical bonds I would insist on using would keep you true to only me, unless we jointly chose to add another into our bond.”

Jon’s eyes went wide at that.  It wasn’t the first time Harry had suggested a plural relationship but it was the first time he told him of the magical bonding vows.  His lover was right to insist he consider all possibilities before they shackled themselves together for life.

“Now.”  Harry gave him a flirtatious glance heated eyes, his mood turning on a dime.  “Take me to bed and show me why I should consider binding myself to you for all time.”

“Your wish, my command, little minx.”  Jon vowed, picking the smaller wizard up over his shoulder and tossing him onto the bedfurs, Harry’s laughter echoing in the chamber and out into the hall.

Robb rested his forehead against the smooth solid wood door that blocked his room from the long corridor.  The door was thick, made of sturdy northern wood and banded with wide steel bands.  His room was finished with the same thick wooden planks over solid stonework several inches thick, and cushioned with fine tapestries from Lys and Volantis to keep in the warmth from the wide fireplace.

And yet, none of these fine finishing’s nor excellent workmanship served to block the sound of Lord Harry’s laughter.

It tormented him, that joyful sound.

For, when Lord Harry was just a strange hanger-on to his Cousin, one of many that were sure to come-and-go in Jon’s life and bed, it was easy to overlook him, to ignore the smiles that Jon smiled only for Harry and the laughter and soft looks that Harry reserved only to Jon.  Many weeks his cousin the King had traveled with Robb’s northern Lords and their joined army, Jon’s loyal men from the southron lands meeting them at the Twins, having landed at White Harbor and met Jon at Winterfell for the march south.  Robb had resented Harry, after the wizard had worked his magics at the Twins and seemed to make a fool of the Lord of the North before his men.  And resented Jon with him for allowing it.

It was easier, after all, to resent them then to admit to himself that he envied them their comfort in each other.

He’d always loved Jon.  First, as a companion closer to him than his own siblings or Theon could ever hope to be.  Sansa was too dissimilar to himself, very much their mother’s pampered perfect lady.  Arya was too young for all that she enjoyed the more rough-and-tumble games that Robb and Jon got up to.  The same with Bran and Rickon, Robb at times substituting for a father when their Lord and Father was busy with the affairs of Winterfell.

And Theon…

Theon never allowed himself to become too at home, too close to Robb, always speaking of the Iron Islands and puffing himself up with endless nattering on ‘soft green-lander ways’ and ‘paying the Iron price’.

The Heir of the Iron Islands looked down on Jon as well, believing him to be a bastard and having no problem showing it and treating Jon as such, behavior that had created a block between himself and gaining the trust and true friendship of Robb.

Robb had always had Jon.  Even when the other boy would go off with Uncle Benjen for turns at a time, they would send ravens back-and-forth, keeping each other abreast of their lives.  Then when Jon would return, it often seemed as if he brought the sun back with him.

Jon had always been the light in Robb’s life.

And now, it seemed no matter what Robb did, Jon was set on leaving him behind.

Lord Robb Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Lord Paramount of the North.  Robb scoffed to himself.  While Jon went and wed with some snippet of a girl with the blood of old Valyria, warming the Iron Throne with his hot-blooded arse, his pet wizard by his side and warming his bed.

Eventually, the love Robb had for Jon turned, as sometimes, with some measures of closeness, it did.

For years now, since they’d come of age together in the same long summer, Robb had coveted a new title instead.

Lord Robb Stark-Targaryen, Consort to the King Jon Targaryen, first of his name.

Yes, that was what he’d wanted for years now, ever since his father Ned had sat them both down and explained just what it was a man did with a woman, and due to Jon being the product of two men, what a man did with another man.

It had been a time of stutters and embarrassed blushes, but also of new ideas.

Jon Targaryen was a beautiful man, the perfect melding of the blood of the dragon and that of the north.  His silver-flecked purple eyes had caused many a maiden to swoon and many a man think lusty thoughts.  Robb had never been blind to the way others looked at Jon, and once the idea had taken root in his brain, gods help him, but he’d looked at him that way too.

He’d hated with a passion every courtesan Jon had told him of when they drank with Theon, the Iron heir joining in with his tales of naughty Ros and the ‘ladies’ from the local brothel.

He’d hated even more the few men Jon had told him of in secret, not wanting to hear Theon’s jibes over him ‘trying a bit of strange’ the men of the Iron Islands holding nothing but disdain for men who laid with each other as with a woman.

But fearful of ruining their close relationship, Robb had kept his feelings close, locked away in his heart for himself to brood over and carefully nurture, knowing that one day his parents were like to betroth him to some northern Lord’s daughter or pretty southron lady, while Jon was destined for the Iron Throne and all that came with it.

Right up until the day when he’d thundered out of the camp near the Twins to meet his cousin and seen the pretty man at Jon’s side with eyes so green they shamed the emeralds Queen Cersei had been so proud of when the royals visited Winterfell before everything went to shit.

Robb had learned how to hate anew, as he’d known from seeing them whispering back and forth together, that this strange creature with blazing green eyes and lithe body had made a place for himself in his Jon’s bed and heart.

‘Lord’ Harry Potter-Black was beautiful and powerful, he had no fear to speak of that Robb had ever seen.  It was as if he didn’t know what it was to fear for his own life, though Robb had seen in time that he did fear for others.  He treated Jon first like a man and second like a King, something Robb knew Jon needed very much to keep his Targaryen conceit in check.  Harry healed with a flick of his wand and appeared from place-to-place with the blink of an eye.  Made alliances that were thought to be impossible and brought back information that saved lives by the thousands.

And with each and every day, Robb watched Jon fall a little bit more in love with him, though another who didn’t know the King half so well as Robb might have missed it.

It was there.

In the soft glances, the hidden touches, the way Jon will ask Harry rather than ordering him.   It was in the smiles and the jokes, but most especially in the laughter.

Jon was always one to brood, like the tales said his father had been.

Harry jostled him out of his dark moods and his brooding with little more than a flirtatious glance and a rude comment, making the ebony-haired Targaryen king roar with laughter, his mirth shining in his bright violet eyes.

And Robb fell a little bit more in love with Jon and a little bit more in hate with Harry with each and every sign of their closeness, a closeness that was threatening to eclipse Robb’s own place by Jon’s side.

Robb lifted his head and let it fall back against the door with a soft thud as new, even more torturous sounds came from the room across the way, Grey Wind lifting his head sleepily at the noise and giving a soft croon for his person to stop being an idiot and come scratch his ears the way he likes it.

Sighing, Robb moved away from the door, hoping that the distance will muffle the noises further so he can stop torturing himself with thoughts of what has never been and will probably never be.

Grey Wind gave a soft thump of his tail against the furs he was cushioned on, too tired from the wizard’s healing to do much more.  He liked the strange green-eyed one who smelled of spices and lightning storms.  The strange one always had a hand ready to scratch behind the ears or to pet along Grey Wind’s back, and never did either long enough to irritate his skin.  He was handy with a treat and was willing to share his food as well, the sign of a good Alpha, just like his brother Ghost was turning out to be after being born a runt and with different eyes than the rest of the pack.

Scratching behind Grey Wind’s ears, Robb spoke his thoughts to the patient direwolf, who had been his steady companion through all his complaints about Harry and Jon, only giving him a nip every now and then when he started to lose himself in his rants.

“You like him, don’t you?”  Robb’s question was more resigned than it was an accusation the way it would have been just a day before.  “After he saved you, and me, from the Kingslayer and kept you from dying or not being able to walk, I can’t even blame you for it.  He makes it damned hard to keep hating him doesn’t he?’  Robb’s sigh was heavy with regret.  “But if I don’t hate him…”  He shook his head, closing his eyes as he moved to smooth one hand down his direwolf’s soft fur.  “It was heartache enough,” he confided in one grey-and-white tipped ear.  “Loving Jon and hating Harry.  If I give up on hating the damned wizard, what is left for me to do?  I don’t think I can stand it Grey Wind,” he buried his face in the direwolf’s scruff.  “As hard as it was to hate him, it would be so easy to love him, and with him bound – or nearly – to Jon, that’s just more heartache than one man should have to bear.”

Grey Wind gave his human a comforting lick on the cheek as Robb lifted his head and hands, scrubbing at his face.

“Sleep.”  He decided, stripping away his clothes and scrubbing himself down furiously with the lukewarm water sitting beside the fire.  “Then I’ll wake up in the morning and forget all about loving anyone, not Jon, not his lover, and maybe once this war is over I’ll finally allow mother to make a match for me.”

His direwolf gave a disbelieving huff and laid his head back down on the furs, closing his eyes.  If his human was going to be ridiculous, there was no reason for Grey Wind to humor him with an audience for his insanity.

Allowing the prickly-red-haired-one to choose his mate.  Grey Wind grumbled low in his throat.  That was human-stupidness at its finest if ever Grey Wind had heard it.

Harry fell asleep to the rhythmic lullaby of Jon's heartbeat and steady breathing, and the gentle feeling of Jon's fingers as they occasionally threaded through his hair. His sleep was deep and completely uninterrupted. He couldn't even remember the last time he had woken feeling so well rested, and charged with energy.

Harry actually woke first, which surprised him.

The two of them hadn't changed their positions much during the night, after falling asleep after Jon thoroughly explored and reclaimed the territory that was Harry.  Harry couldn’t even fool himself into thinking it was anything other than a reclaiming.  Between the victory in battle, seeing him being a wee bit cozy with his cousin, and the lack of an affirmative response to his not-a-proposal, Jon had been feeling very territorial when he’d swooped Harry off to the bedfurs.  Jon was lying on his back with his right arm sprawled lazily on the bed at his side.  His left arm was still under Harry and wrapped loosely around him, resting on Harry's back, making a claim on his lover even in his sleep.  Harry was mostly on his stomach, but propped slightly on his side as he rested on Jon.  His arm was resting across Jon's tightly-muscled cobblestoned-stomach and heavily muscled chest with his hand curled into a relaxed fist directly over-top of Jon’s pectoral.  Harry let his hand open slowly and his fingertips comb lazily through the medium-fine dusting of dark curls that covered Jon’s chest before arrowing down into a fine pleasure-map to Jon’s impressive arousal.

Harry absently brushed his fingers, somehow entranced with the soft feel of them.  His eyes traveled over Jon's beautifully handsome face and observed how peaceful and relaxed the other man looked in his sleep.  The hard, stern, so-very-Stark look that he held most of the time was missing from his sharply carved features, they were soft, relaxed, and calm.  He looked so completely beautiful to Harry.  Without even realizing it, Harry's hand came up from his playful exploration of Jon's chest hair and he brushed his fingertips over the hollow of his lover’s cheek, tracing his face down until his index finger came to rest upon his wind-chapped lips.

Following his instincts, Harry moved upwards and pressed his lips against the sleeping man’s, knowing that soon enough the castle surrounding them would wake and pull them in different directions as they each dealt with the aftermath of the battle.  Jon would be locked in preliminary meetings with his uninjured lords, taking in casualty counts and making rounds of the men while Harry saw to the injured and tried to help prevent loss-of-life-and-limb where he could.  Once nightfall reached them, Harry would undoubtedly be exhausted once more, knowing full-well that between healing and brewing not-quite-potions due to lack of supplies that his magic was going to be pressed to the breaking point.

But that time hadn’t come yet, and Jon was starting to wake up, his lips firming against Harry’s own.

The King hummed with groggy approval and his loose arm came up so that both his arms now wrapped around Harry's waist and held him close.  After a long lingering kiss the two pulled apart and Harry found Jon smirking up at him, violet eyes dancing.

“My third favorite way to wake up.”  The King declared, nipping lightly at his lover’s soft bottom lip.

“Third?!”  Harry gasped in mock-indignation.  “My waking kiss ranks only third?  And what or who prey tell took first and second in your heart and affections?”

“Well…”  Jon drawled, shifting Harry in his arms so that the wizard straddled Jon’s waist with his lean legs, taut arse pressed pleasingly up against the King’s morning erection.  “There was this teasing little minx from the Far North who woke me one day with a Lord’s kiss to the kingly staff.”

Harry nearly giggled at the reminder of him introducing Jon to the concept of the morning blow-job, his humor not helped in any way by the fact that giving someone head was called a “Lord’s Kiss” in Westeros.

“Very well.”  Harry waved that aside regally, arching his back teasingly as he ground his arse slowly against Jon’s hard staff, one of the king’s hands flexing on his hip as the other moved north to bury itself in Harry’s unbound hair, tugging him lightly down towards Jon’s waiting kiss.  Harry twined their tongues together as he kept his hips moving in a slow, sensual tease of a movement, feeling every bit the minx that Jon had dubbed him.  “And first?”

“First?”  Jon murmured, sucking a bruise into the side of Harry’s neck that was arching at an insistent pressure from Jon’s light but arousing pull of Harry’s hair.  “First hasn’t happened yet.”  Jon nipped at one ear lobe as he breathed his heated answer into the shell of one delicate ear.  “But I have high hopes for it this very morning.”

Closing his eyes, Harry silently cast the needed spells.  He may prefer having his lover(s) stretch him manually, but he didn’t want to ruin the mood by having to search out the oil in his pack.  A trio of spells had him cleaned, lubed, and stretched, and a moment later had him slicking Jon’s pulsing arousal from root to tip, giving him a squeeze that had Jon arching his back with a gasp while he was at it.

Rising up on his knees and placing the head of Jon’s slick cock at his entrance, he locked eyes with his lover, interlacing his left hand’s fingers with Jon’s still holding his hip, and sheathed Jon inside himself in a slow, sensual movement that seemed to take eons and a mere moment all at once.

Jon groaned, throwing back his head and his hands clenching on Harry’s hip and in his hair, the wizard gently untangling Jon’s hand and twining it with his own, pressing it back onto the bedfurs.  Hands thus holding onto each other, Harry rose once more onto his knees and began to ride his dragon king, hips rolling in a movement that had Jon’s eyes closing and tormented-pleasured moans spilling from between parted royal lips.  It was the most fiendish of tortures and most erotic of indulgences all at once.

Hands, eyes, and bodies joined together, Harry set a pace that had them both gasping and moaning in exquisite sensation, set on showing Jon everything he felt even if he still couldn’t quite bring himself to say the words.

All things must come to an end, and so it was for them after an uncountable time locked together, Harry at last seeing the telling flush taking over Jon’s cheekbones and the feral glint in his eye that heralded his lover’s completion.

Moving faster, Harry set a new pace that spurred them both on, determined to finish at the same time as his fierce lover.  Tilting his hips, he aimed just so very right, using Jon’s pulsing cock to hit his prostate over and over.  Throwing his head back, Harry gave a keening cry as Jon’s hands clenched on his own, the fiery liquid of Jon’s climax spilling inside his heated channel, Harry’s own proof of satisfaction spurting out onto Jon’s sweat-slicked chest, coming from the thrust and burn of having Jon inside him alone.

Cleaning his spurt from his lover’s chest with an absent flick of power, Harry collapsed onto that same chest with a pleasured-and-pained groan.  At the time it had seemed like a good idea but in hindsight, Harry was feeling the aftereffects from fighting a battle, riding a horse for several hours, healing, and then having a territorial king wear his arse out before letting him sleep.  Adding another go-around in that morning wasn’t the best idea he’d ever had, as now that the post-sleep fuzziness and the post-coital glow was wearing down, he was feeling every suppressed ache and pain.

It was worth it, of that there was no doubt.

But still…not one of his best ideas.

“Need a potion, lover?”  Jon asked, voice concerned, as he finger-combed ebony locks away from Harry’s sweaty-and-ecstatic glowing face.

“Mhmm.”  Harry groaned under his breath, then found his voice long enough to give directions, Jon already knowing how to work Harry’s pack and the potions bag.  “Pearly-white with blue flecks.  Label should read ‘General Restorative and Soothing Draught’ in High Valyrian.”

Or, you know, English.

The whole Valyrian vs. Harry’s old reality thing still blowing his mind a little but for the most part he’s able to shrug it off as a case of tomato-tomahto.

Jon nodded and slid carefully out from under Harry’s limp and quiescent form, padded softly over to their belongings that had been stored in a wooden wardrobe by the Kingsguard.  Digging through Harry’s things, and trying to ignore glimpses of strange devices – was that a polearm?  And there, a sword with rubies encrusted in the hilt? – he finally located the strange worn-down bag and the draught his lover had requested, putting the bag and pack away and returning to Harry’s side along with a small cup of morning mead left no doubt by the Kingsguard before they woke.

Harry chugged the draught with a grimace, it wasn’t the worst potion he’d ever tasted, Polyjuice still took the prize for sheer nastiness, but it wasn’t the nicest either, making him thankful for Jon’s forethought in bringing something to wash it down with.

While Harry was busy with taking his draught and spelling away the evidence of their activities, both on and in himself and the bedfurs, Jon opened the door letting a patiently waiting Ghost back in from the guards putting him out for his morning run, calling for fresh bathing water as he was at it before ducking back inside before a passing maid could catch a glimpse of him in naught but his skin.

A now-vertical Harry passed him a robe and a sweet kiss before taking his place at the table in the antechamber, serving them both from the tray of fruits and fresh bread with preserves and honey someone – Harry was betting on Ser Arthur, knowing that the Kingsguard had changed shifts at least once during the night – had brought along with the mead.

All of the Kingsguard took excellent care of Jon, guarding him from all threats, but Ser Arthur, in Harry’s opinion, took it that one step further, seeing to his needs before Jon or Harry could say a word to a page or a servant.  Harry was betting it stemmed from the knight being Rhaegar’s best and closest friend before Jon’s father had been killed.  A way for the Sword of Morning to try and fill the gap caused by Rhaegar’s death and Benjen having to keep himself a step back out of fear of Jon’s parentage being discovered.

“What do you have planned for the day, your Grace?”  Harry asked after Jon had wrapped himself in the silken robe and joined him at table, pouring himself a tall mug of mead before digging into the plate Harry had made for him.

“Touring the surviving troops,” Jon shrugged, slathering a scone in thick honey and strawberry preserves.  “Taking tallies of needed repairs to Riverrun as this is to serve as a southron base for the armies, for the time being until we take Harrenhal.  Meeting with the Lords and Sers who are uninjured, discussing supply lines and the anticipated reinforcements from the North and the Vale.  Making arrangements for bodies to either be burned or returned to homes for burial.  The hostages will wait until the Council in a few days, once more of the men have been tended to.  You’re for the healing tents, I’d wager?”

“I need to brew first.”  Harry admitted, nibbling lightly at some sort of berry he hadn’t had before waking in the Tomb.  It was tart and sweet, a bit like a cross between a strawberry and a blueberry, with the rich purple color to match.  “I don’t have many supplies, but I saw fresh mint and a few other herbs I could use to make tonics that will help but won’t be as magical as what I’m used to producing.”

“I’m ordering a member of the Kingsguard to watch over you.”  Jon told his stubborn lover with a firm look that brooked no objections.  “With having hostages in the camps and the Lannister army scattered, your safety is paramount next to my own and they know this.  Tell them what you need and they’ll have it sent for if possible.”

Harry groaned and grumbled but gave in after a few moments.  He knew Jon’s mind was set on this point.  And it wasn’t like he couldn’t lose them if he really wanted to.  It would put Jon’s mind at ease while he was out among the camps and the wounded at least.

“Can I at least have Prince Lewen?”  He half-asked, half-pleaded.  “He’ll at least be of use with his education when I’m brewing and isn’t useless in the healing tents.  I know Ser Arthur won’t leave your side or I’d ask for him, the other two are far too serious for my taste and are a bit squeamish around blood and viscera if they’re going to be following in my shadow all the time.”

“Knights are better at dealing damage than they are at healing it other than a simple cleaning and bandage, Harry.”  Jon reminded him, barely concealing a roll of his eyes.  Harry had originally found it funny when Ser Oswell turned green at the sight of him putting someone’s arm back together with a deft hand and a furious wand.  It had become less funny as he’d learned that almost none of the men-at-arms had any kind of medic training outside of the most basic.  Jon thought his ears were still ringing over that tirade.  “And, yes, I’ll see to it that you have either Ser Arthur or Prince Lewen as your guard when you’re working at brewing or in the healing tents.”

“Good.”  Harry grunted around a mouth full of biscuit, chewing furiously as he brooded over the difficulty of potions brewing in Westeros, mind a thousand leagues away from their conversation.  “I don’t need to be reviving my guard because they turn into little pussies around a bit of blood and gore off the battle field.”

Days passed, bringing the day of the Council ever nearer as Harry brewed his half-magical half-herbal concoctions and fed them to the men as he healed wound after wound, trying his best and hardest to stave off a tide of infection or illness that ran rampant through army camps in Westeros.  Jon busied himself with his Lords and his ravens, while Harry and the Maester, Septas, and even a few knights or soldiers or woods-witches with their herbal lore did their best to ensure Jon still had an army to lead at the end of the day.

Harry might not have been the best study of history either magical or muggle, but he remembered hearing stories about the Great War and the Napoleonic wars where more men were lost to starvation, illness, and sepsis than battle.  He knew it was an uphill climb that he might never conquer, but he was attempting to stave off what complications he could for Jon’s men.  Even going so far as to teach them how to put together a tonic of ginger, mint, and fruit peel that were all easily found in the Riverlands to help keep colds and sickness at bay.

Granted, what the men could make for themselves and what Harry could provide were vastly different, Harry having active magic to infuse into his brews that the men did not, but still…it was better than nothing as the nights grew longer and the days colder with every turn of the moon.

Still, through it all, at the end of the day when Jon weary and angered from dealing with petty lords and a lack of news from his allies returned to his rooms, it was to a tiredly-smiling Harry and a glass of mulled wine, Harry checking his wounds and health, never allowing Jon to slip into melancholy.

A main cause of Jon’s bad mood was the ever-declining health of Lord Hoster Tully.

His heir Edmure had been captured by Jaime Lannister during the Battle of Riverrun, sending the aging and ailing Lord to his bed.

The Lannister host had passed the time during the siege by parading Edmure and a score of other noble-born hostages on a gallows with a noose around their necks as a warning to their fathers within the walls of the stronghold and commanding forces at a dozen other holds throughout the Riverlands.

A trick that backfired.

Due to the display, Jon’s men had known exactly where to strike to free the hostages and remove the impediment that had the River Lords sitting on their hands rather than taking up arms against the invading Westerland host.

It also put the idea into one none-too-bright mind that the hostages had no worth, the craven knight Ser Cleos Lannister abandoning his position among the Lannister army and seeing that the day was lost, slipped into the hostage hold and began slitting necks in retribution for his own father’s death at the Twins.

He started with Ser Edmure Tully and managed to dispatch nearly a dozen young Sers, all heirs to noble houses, before the hostages could be rescued by Jon’s forces.

Which left Jon with a problem the size of, well, Riverrun.

Lord Hoster Tully was dying and his primary Heir dead.  Ser Bryndan Tully had already refused to have anything to do with becoming Lord of the River Lands, leaving Jon with just one option: his young cousin Brandon Stark.

Robb was already a Lord in his own right and the River Lords would never agree to joining the two Kingdoms.  That left just Brandon or Rickon, the latter much too young for anyone to truly consider.  Bran was already Robb’s heir by default, a duty which would pass to Rickon if it was decided that Riverrun would go to the young Stark boy.

The problem then became, who was to hold the River Lands with Bran tucked away in the North and too young to become a Lord without a Regent?

Jon had already rejected all mention of Catelyn Stark, his Lords knowing full-well that he blamed her and her crazed sister for the initial outbreak of hostilities between the Riverlands and the North versus the Lannisters.  And that was in addition to the fact that Jon truly couldn’t stand the bitter bitch and Robb had ordered her placed under guard at Winterfell.  An order that Robb had no intention of lifting any time soon.

It was another headache to be decided at the Council and Jon was no nearer seeing a way clear of it unless he could, by some miracle, convince Ser Bryndan to step in as Regent until the war was ended.

The whole clusterfuck also brought the matter of Heirs back to bear against both Jon and Robb, the Targaryen loyalists and the Northern Lords using the issue of Riverrun to press their King or Lord Paramount into making a decision regarding a betrothal at the very least if not marrying outright.  And every single one of those Lords and Heirs and Sers that pressed the issue had a sister or a daughter or a niece or even a granddaughter or cousin to put forward for the position of either Queen or Lady of Winterfell.  Robb and Jon felt besieged on all sides regarding the Heir-Issue as they’d started calling it between themselves, making them wish faintly for the healing tents and Harry’s company which served as a shield of sorts against matchmaking.

More for Jon than Robb but the Lord of the North had no qualms about intruding on their time together if it meant evading matchmakers, though even he drew the line at interrupting their private hours at rest in their quarters.

No matter how much he might secretly or not-so-secretly desire to do just that.

“You made it.”  Jon leaned over and whispered with a bright smile at Harry as the visibly-exhausted wizard all-but-fell into the chair Jon had reserved for him in the great hall of Riverrun.  It was time for the Council to commence, Harry and the others having done all they could to get the injured Lords and knights of renown back on their feet – or at least coherent and healthy enough to sit in on the Council in a couple cases.

Disease and hunger had taken its toll on the people under siege for several turns at Riverrun just as the three battles and several smaller scrimmages that had played out in the fields and woods surrounding the main seat of the River lands had lent to the number of men down with either injury or illness.

“Of course.”  Harry said, taking Jon’s hand beneath the cloth table covering and giving it a squeeze.  “I may be a healer at heart but I was a warrior first.  There is no other place for your strong right arm than at your side when events such as this take place.  This Council may very well determine the ongoing course of the war.  My unique perspective could end up being very valuable.”

“Thank you.”  Jon said under his breath before he stood to call the Council to order.  “Really, thank you for not leaving me to deal with this on my own.”

“The first item before us.”  Jon stood and spoke, his voice resonating throughout the Hall.  “Is that of Riverrun itself.  Lord Tully is not expected to last another turn, his son and Heir murdered by a craven,” rumbles and shouts sounded from the gathered Lords at this reminder.  Many had been waiting impatiently for the Council in order to sate their lust for vengeance on some of the prisoners and hostages.  “Which leaves Lord Robb’s younger brother and Heir Brandon Stark as the next in line for the Lordship as Ser Bryndan has refused to take up Lordship of the River Lands.”  Jon turned to his cousin seated at his left hand.  “Lord Robb it is your Heir in question, what say you?”

Robb rose to his feet, turning to look down the table towards where Ser Bryndan himself was seated among others that were counted among Jon’s most trusted men and placed at his insistence at the high table, the rest of the Lords and their Heirs and Knights filling seats at the trestles.

“If Ser Bryndan will consent to taking up Stewardship of the River Lands until either Bran is of age or the war is over and my cousin is seated upon the Iron Throne,” here Robb had to pause for the cries of “The Dragon of the North!  The Dragon of the North!” to calm down before continuing.  “Then I will cede Bran to my grandfather Lord Hoster Tully as Heir.”

Conversations and murmurs broke out among the gathered as Robb retook his seat, Jon remaining standing as he waited for the response to the posed legacy of the River Lands.

Ser Marq Piper, who had harried Jaime Lannister’s supply lines and opened up the opportunity for Robb to lead the Kingslayer into a trap, stood and stated: “Brandon Stark is as much a Tully as the late Edmure was, gods rest him.”  He motioned with one hand to Robb’s traditional Tully looks.  “You only have to look at Lord Stark himself to see that the Tully blood runs true.  If Ser Bryndan will agree to Steward the River Lands according to Lord Robb’s wishes, then I will stand behind this course.”

“And I!”

“And I!”

The River Lords called out, only a few who had hoped to gain the boon for themselves staying silent in the wake of the majority calling out in favor, the voices of Northern Lords lending their support to the posed idea keeping their objections behind their teeth.

“Ser Bryndan?”  Jon leaned forward, propping himself on the table for stability.  “We await an answer.”

“Very well, you young wolf-dragon.”  Ser Bryndan agreed gruffly with a jerk of his greying head.  “I’ll do it.  But the second you take that blasted throne, I want my nephew on his way to take up the mantle.  I’ve never wanted Riverrun before and I don’t want it now.  But,” he waved a hand, acceding to the wishes of the King.  “I will do what is in the best interests of my people.”

“Then it’s agreed.”  Jon nodded once, heating some wax and then pressing his sigil into the prepared order naming Bran as the Heir to Riverrun after Lord Tully with Ser Bryndan as his Steward, the dying Lord Hoster having already signed it and affixed his seal after much arguing and persuasion on the part of Jon and Robb.  Handing it to Robb, who was holding everything for copies to be distributed later, Jon took up the next piece of business.

“The single greatest threat we now face is that of the Tyrell-Baratheon alliance.”  Jon sat, knowing this was going to be like herding cats and wanting to be comfortable while he attempted it.  “Renly Baratheon has wed Lord Mace Tyrell’s daughter Margery and named himself King with most of the Reach and Storm Lords swearing for him.  Altogether they’ve mustered a force of over a hundred thousand men,” shouts from the gathering, “and have been content so far to sit on their arses dining on Arbor gold and pheasant and letting us and the Lannisters kill each other off.”  Jon gave a brutal smile.  “We are not content to let this go on any longer.”

“Old Mace was a friend of your fathers, your Grace.”  Lord Rickard Karstark pointed out.  “Offer to marry the bint yourself if she suddenly becomes a widow and the Lord of Flowers will slit the Stagling’s throat himself.”

Jon held up a hand for silence after the outpouring of shouts and rage that gem of a suggestion caused.

“We have a plan for dealing with it.”  He said, holding onto his calm by his fingertips.  “One that does not involve murder or marriage.”  Thank the gods.  “For now we will wait and allow Lord Stannis his chance at unseating Renly and his supporters from Storm’s End.  With Stannis sworn to Our cause, many of the Storm Lords will turn their cloaks as soon as Stannis puts out a call to arms from Storm’s End.”

“Aye, laddie.”  Greatjon Umber observed with a nod of his shaggy head.  “That be true enough.  And what’s to be done about the Old Lion and the damned Kraken?”

“According to word from the men garrisoning Moat Cailin.”  Robb stood and addressed the crowd.  “Lord Captain Victarion Greyjoy managed to lead an estimated thirty ships through Lord Velaryon’s blockade of the Iron Islands and attacked Moat Cailin under orders from King,” Robb and the other Northern lords sneered at the damned squid’s conceit, ignoring or simply not noticing Theon’s barely-hidden rage.  “Balon.  The attack failed and the Greyjoy lost half the ships he’d led through the blockade.  Last reports had them heading south towards Lannisport.”

“So,” Ser Bryndan mused.  “They’re either joining up with the Lions or making to raid while the Lions are distracted elsewhere since their incursion against the North proved a costly failure.”

“Agreed.”  Jon nodded his head.  “The only question that remains is whether Captain Greyjoy is doing so under orders from his usurper-brother or not.”

“Not.”  Theon grunted from his standing position behind Robb and next to Ser Mark Ryswell of the Kingsguard.  “My father would’ve ordered them North at all costs, so long as there was a single ship under my uncle’s command.  That’s his way.  If Captain Victarion was sailed southron its to reave and follow the Ironborn way.”

A sharp silence followed the reminder of just what house Theon belonged to, one that Jon covered over with the next piece up for debate.  And one that was going to cause a riot.

“There were over a hundred hostages and prisoners taken during the two battles that broke the siege.”  Jon spoke clearly and concisely.  He knew that this was where they were going to have the most friction and clashes out of everything on the docket.  “Several including Ser,” he sneered again at the title bestowed on a craven.  “Cleos Frey have committed crimes worthy of execution or exile to the Wall and a lifetime of service among the Black Brothers.  The question before the Council is which prisoners will be executed, which exiled, and which will be held while for ransom or as surety against a Lannister reprisal.”

“We want the Mountain.”  One of the River Lords stood and roared out his demand.  “We want his head for his rapine, pillaging, and burning our lands!”

“I lay claim to the Kingslayer’s head!”  Lord Rickard Karstark roared.  “He nearly killed one of my two sons as they protected Lord Stark in the Whispering Woods.  The Karstarks are your kin!  My boys’ injuries demand blood!  As does that of your own father’s father and of that of your uncle, slaughtered by the Kingslayer’s spawn!”

Other, countless roars for blood and vengeance swept through the hall like fiendfyre, Harry, Jon, and Robb leaning back in their chairs and engaging the Knights of the Kingsguard in hurried conversation.  Several of the demands had been foreseen, but others like the one from Lord Karstark had blindsided them.  Of them all they struggled with that of the Kingslayer.  Jaime Lannister had earned his death, of that there was no doubt.  But, at the moment at least, he served a better purpose alive until the war was ended and his father was dead.

“We can’t kill Jaime Lannister.”  Lady Maege Mormont spoke up as a voice of reason among the baying Lords.  “Lest you all forget that the Lions have hostages of their own.  Kill old Tywin’s pride and joy and you might as well slit the Ladies Stark’s throats yourselves.”

“Lady Mormont makes the point that stays Our hand, as much as it sticks in Our craw.”  Jon agreed with a ferocious glare at all those who would object.  “So long as We hold the Kingslayer’s life in Our hands, the Lion won’t dare move against either them or us for fear of reprisals, especially in light of Cleos Frey’s actions during the breaking of the siege.”

“Aye.”  Lord Karstark spat in disgust.  “I hear your words, both of you.”  He nodded towards Lady Meage before turning towards the King.  “But I want your word, young Dragon,” he jabbed a finger at the high table.  “That once this war is over and your and our kin are secured that the Kingslayer’s head will roll.”

“You have it.”  Jon nodded solemnly.  “Jaime Lannister will pay for his crimes in blood.  As you youself said: it wasn’t just your sons who he is guilty of harming.  For make no mistake.”  Jon’s Targaryen eyes pinned the gathered Lords to their seats.  “He stabbed my grandfather in the back.  Mad King or no, that is nothing less than murder and he’ll pay it back in blood.”

“Aye,” Lord Karstark settled back down.  “That’ll do, young Dragon.”

“And what of the Mountain?”  Ser Bryndan broached the original demand.

“The Mountain and Ser Amory Lorch were located and abducted by Lord Harry during the initial panic at the Camps and the trap of the Whispering Wood.”  Jon leaned forward, speaking earnestly.  “I ordered it done as their heads are to be an initial payment on the alliance crafted between Us and Dorne.  They will be executed with the dawn, alongside Cleos Frey, and their heads sent by magical means to Sunspear.”

“And what of our claim?”  Cried the same River Lands Lord who’d originally laid claim to the Mountain’s head.

“One would think,” Lord Command Dayne spoke from his place behind Jon’s chair.  “That the oldest and most grievous offense would have the greatest claim.  Gregor Clegane has committed such crimes that debating who has the greatest right to his head would take weeks.  But of any,” the Sword of Morning’s violet eyes searched the crowd, cowing them as he spoke.  “Most would find that the rape and murder of an ill princess and the vicious murder of her children must be addressed lest we risk war with Dorne.”

That silenced even the most steadfast of naysayers of Jon’s proposed plan, few wanting to argue with the legendary knight, with the King bringing the discussion once more around to the next topic.

“As for the Lannisters.”  Jon waved towards Harry.  “Lord Potter-Black snuck into King’s Landing and confirmed that the Lannisters have Our Lady Cousin Sansa Stark as a hostage and are still planning on marrying her off to that foul little cunt Joffery Waters.”

“Ha!”  Smalljon Umber roared.  “A strong Northern woman like that will have that little bastard’s cock and balls as a necklace and earrings before she’d let the runt defile her!”

An agreeing roar went up from the Northerners, Harry having to hide a smirk behind his hand at the aghast looks on some of the southron Lords’ faces at the vulgarity.

“That was my impression of Lady Sansa,” Harry spoke up for the first time in Council since planning the battles that ended up lifting the siege of Riverrun.  “I offered to sneak her away but she was determined to stay and keep abreast of tidings in the capitol.  Though,” this time his smirk shone for all to see.  “I did leave her with a few presents to tide her over until her cousin arrives in force.”

“I’ll bet you did, sorcerer.”  Theon sneered under his breath, but not quietly enough to escape the notice of those near him, including Harry himself.

“And as suspected,” Harry continued.  “Lady Sansa reported that the Lannisters had never managed to get their hands on Lady Arya, though there have been no valid reports regarding the youngest Stark daughter at all.”

This sobered the crowd.  Half of the reason the Northerners had drummed their way south was to come to the aid of Lord Stark and his daughters.  That he was killed, another trapped, and a third presumed lost was a heavy blow, victory over the Westerland forces or not.

“My younger sister is a She-Wolf to make even Ghost and Grey Wind proud.”  Robb spoke up, resting his chin on his upraised and folded hands.  “I have to believe that she will make her way North.  We will simply have to bring the North a bit closer to her.”

“Aye.”  Greatjon Umber boomed.  “The Young Wolf’s the right of it!  If the She-Wolves canna come to the North, the North will have to come to the She-Wolves!”

Robb’s bannermen shouted and stomped their feet, banging their tankards on the table in a true rollicking cry.

“Lord Tywin is stymied – for now – by the Vale men that have marched down the High Road and closed off the East and the Kingsroad to the North.”  Jon reported once the men had once more settled.  “As soon as our reinforcements from the North arrive, we will march on the West.”  Jon’s eyes gleamed with a vicious fire in the flames of the candlelight.  “Let’s see how the old Lion likes it when it’s his people under siege and his crops being plundered by an aggressing army!”

“The Dragon of the North!  The Dragon of the North!”

THE DRAGON OF THE NORTH!”

“They’re pressing me for a coronation.”  Jon leaned against the back of the massive wooden bed in his rooms as Harry took his sweet time stripping down to join him, as had become their daily ritual.  “And to choose a Queen.”

Harry almost groaned at that topic being raised again.

“Can’t you put them off with talk of the Great Sept?”  Harry neatly sidestepped the hint of him needing to make a decision regarding bonding his King.

“Not really.”  Jon cracked open one violet eye and gave him a gimlet look at the evasion, though he was feeling too mellow to pursue a migraine-inducing topic.  “Since they know I follow the old gods all we really need are a crown, a cloak, and a godswood.”

“So…”  Harry drawled leadingly.  “What’s the hold up?  You have a sacking, several executions, and two decisive victories under your belt.”  Harry rolled his eyes.  “Face it: you’re a King, Jon Stark-Targaryen.  Even if it’s not over all Seven Kingdoms and their territories as yet, you are, in fact, a King.  Kings have to deal with things like coronations and your lords and retainers pressuring you for an Heir.  It kinda goes with the job title, the ugly chair, and the sparklies.”  Harry finished dryly as he lowered himself to face his lover and put his own back against the opposite side of the carved bed, nestling his toes against Jon’s firm horseman’s thighs.

Jon would deny it to his dying day but he pouted, genuinely pouted, at the lack of sympathy from his lover over the issue.

“I want it to be our coronation.”  He admitted softly, raising suddenly vulnerable eyes to meet startled emerald-green.  “For a King and his Consort.  I want us to be wed before the gods and then sworn, together, as the rightful King and Consort of the Iron Throne.”  He waited for a second searching his mind for anything else that was delaying his agreement before adding: “And I want Uncle-Maester Aemon to preside over it as the only other Targaryen of the Name in Westeros.”

Well, Harry thought to himself ruefully.  He didn’t want much, did he?

Taking a deep breath, Harry marshalled his inner strength that had seen him through so many trials before and prepared for a fight that wasn’t going to be pretty.  He hated this part of himself.  The part that always takes a step back from what he wanted and his own desires and places those of others first.

Just once he would like to be truly selfish.

But he knew that today was not that day.

“Who am I, lover?”  He asked softly, gazing into fierce violet eyes with a saddened but firm stare.

“What?”  Jon replied flabbergasted at what Harry had asked.  “You know who you are, Harry.  What are you playing at?”

“No.”  Harry shook his head, his hair free from confinement swishing around him before settling once more against the pillow.  “Answer the question, Jon.  Who am I?”

“You’re my lover.”  Jon raked one hand over his eyes in exasperation.  “You’re Lord Harry Potter-Black, a wizard of great renown.  You’re the Warrior-Who-Waits, a fierce and noble hero who has slept for time immemorial.  You’re my love.”  He bit out, his expression fierce.  “And the only one I’ll accept as my consort.”

“I am your lover.”  Harry nodded.  “This is true.  And I pray I have your love.  But you have said it yourself: I am also a wizard.”  He looked away swallowing harshly.  “And I know you’ve heard the whispers, the same as I, asking if I’ve bewitched you or cast a spell, enchanted you to take me from the wilds of the North and raise me up as both lover and right-hand.  I know you have, don’t try and gull me.”

“Who the fuck cares what a bunch of old biddies and sour maids who I won’t look twice at think?”  Jon burst out, unbelieving of the tripe that was spilling from Harry’s mouth.  “Let them gossip, let them wonder, it makes no difference!  I know and you know that what we feel is true and that’s all that matters!  Why would I want one of them anyway?”  Jon scoffed at the notion.  “Some simpering slip of a lady?”  He slashed a hand through the air in aggravation.  “Not when I could have a powerful match, the same choice that any of the Targaryen Kings and Lords before me would make.  The same as any of the Starks.  Power should be wedded to power.”  His eyes gleamed.  “That was how the blood of the direwolves stayed strong when others floundered.  Forcing my uncle to marry the Tully bitch instead of Ashara Dayne was one of the worst mistakes grandfather Rickard ever made – including trying to demand justice from a mad king.  She’s brought nothing but strife to the North ever since she set foot in Winterfell, despite her giving uncle Ned three strong sons and a pair of daughters.”

“You don’t think Sansa and Arya are strong?”  Harry half-laughed at the very idea.

“Don’t even.”  Jon warned pointing at his lover with a jab of his finger.  “I know that they are both strong in their own ways but the value of her children aside, marrying Catelyn Tully instead of Ashara Dayne was an insult to that ancient House as well as his own.”

“Agreed.”  Harry waved Jon’s ire off.  “But still not the point.  If you take me as Consort there will be whispers following your reign from the day we wed until the day we die.  No matter how many worthy Heirs we give the Throne or how many years of peace and prosperity we bring the realm.  They will still talk about your wizard lover who bewitched you into making him your Consort – and Hand.”  He added dryly, knowing full-well that Jon was going to hoist that thankless cunt of a position onto his shoulders at some point.

Jon stared off, a light blush covering his cheeks at being found out.  He hadn’t thought he’d been that obvious about it.  But then…this was Harry.  It was hard to keep secrets from a man that could literally read minds.

Not that he thought Harry did that indiscriminately.

But still.

His point stands.

The King turned Harry’s arguments over in his mind for several long silent minutes, musing on what he thought was the sticking point for Harry over joining him as Consort.

“You think the Lords won’t be appeased unless I wed with one of the Great Houses?”  Jon asked, finding the heart of the matter.

Harry shrugged in response.  It was what he’d seen and heard for himself.  Due to his size and ability to slip around quietly, even with Prince Lewen of the Kingsguard dogging his heels, he tended to hear more than people intended or wanted him to hear.

“They were only half-joking about a match with Margery Tyrell.”  He revealed, voice unfathomably morose.  “Other factions want Arianne Martell, or Allyria Dayne now that her betrothed is missing and assumed dead, there’s even been talk of your cousin Sansa or your aunt Daenerys.  Still and all,” he shook his head, eyes shuttered.  “Not a single one speaks positively about you taking me for a Consort.  Not.  One.”

Jon sat back heavily against the pillows, shocked at what Harry had discovered.  In his mind, binding Harry, a powerful sorcerer and warrior who would bring fresh blood to the lines of Stark and Targaryen, would be a sound tactical move.  Power-to-power, as his family had done for thousands of years.

That his closest supporters disagreed was an ugly shock to his system.

“Most feel that I would make an adequate Hand of the King.”  Harry continued to speak, his voice dead.  “A feeling reinforced with the information I’ve provided and my ability to help turn the tide of any battle or future conflict.”  He gave a humorless chuckle.  “They want me in service to the Throne…just not in personal service to the King.”  His smile was bitter.  “Though they’ll probably keep their peace if you keep me as a discrete bed-warmer so long as I don’t attempt to provide an Heir or harm the true Consort to the Crown.”

“That.”  Jon said viciously, an unholy light burning in his eyes.  “Will not do.”  He all but spat the words.  “I will not have them speaking of you in that way.  I won’t have it.  You’re more than some, some,” Harry could nearly see steam rising from Jon’s head the man was so infuriated.  “Catamite with a few petty mummer’s tricks.  Do they not see that?”

“Oh, they see it.”  Harry tilted his head, intrigued by Jon’s fury on his behalf.  It had been a long, long time since anyone had defended him so fiercely.  Other than Teddy, that was.  “That’s the problem: they fear me.”  He shrugged, it wasn’t the first time he’d been marginalized in an effort to make others feel more secure.  At least this time they weren’t trying to paint him as insane and unhinged in the process.  “If I’m the Hand of the King then I’m in service to the Crown and controllable.  As your male Consort, I’d be your equal and with the powers I wield, that scares the ever-loving-fuck out of them.”

An idea sparked in a wicked Targaryen mind, an equally wicked smile coursing over Jon’s handsome face making Harry sit back and eye him warily.

“Harry, love?”  Jon’s voice was oh-so-innocent.  “How do you feel about becoming the Lord Paramount of the Iron Islands?”

Ser Davos Seaworth piloted the small craft around the cliffs of Storm’s End, one hand steady on the rudder as he watched the stones and walls of the cliffs, keeping the boat from breaching on the rocks and taking him and the party he led down with it.

 

His Lord and friend Stannis Baratheon had laid siege to Storm’s End and treated with Ser Cortnay Penrose as a distraction allowing Ser Davos and his – to his eyes – odd assortment of fighters to smuggle their way into the castle and open the gates.  Never before, in so far as Davos had heard tell of, had a Prince of Dorne, two Sand Snakes, a smuggler-turned-knight, and a pirate captain had made to breach the walls of Storm’s End.  Ser Davos himself had been sent to treat with the Lysene pirate captain and sellsail mercenary Sallador Saan while Davos’s sons had sailed throughout Westeros with proclamations of the Lannister bastard and his siblings as well as that of the true King – and Lord Stannis’s support of the Targaryen claimant.

After returning from gaining an alliance with the infamous pirate, Ser Davos had arrived in the Storm Lands to the sight of a joint Baratheon and Martell fleet, Prince Oberyn Martell in command along with several of his ‘Sand Snakes’ his base-born daughters who were legendary for their cunning and viciousness, as had been promised by the Targaryen King’s envoy Lord Harry.

Davos had found himself enjoying the wizard’s company for all that his magics went against many teaching of the Faith of the Seven, Davos considering himself to be a devout man for all his previous crimes from when he was younger.  But even a blind man would have been able to tell the difference between the magics Harry used – for all their power and might – and the vileness that was the Red Witch.  If nothing else, Davos was grateful to the wizard for removing her spreading wickedness from Lord Stannis’s household.

It had even been worth the weeks of tantrums thrown by Lady Selsye when she’d been informed that her ‘friend’ and priestess had been sent North to the Wall at the behest of the Targaryen King, a behest that had been carried out through Lord Harry’s own magics.

So it was that as ravens had arrived with news of the breaking of the Riverrun siege and a decisive Targaryen victory in the River Lands that Stannis had marched on Storm’s End, the fleet blockading the fortress by sea after carrying the combined army of ten thousand men to mount the siege of the fortress.

A fool’s folly most would say, Davos had to admit, as never in its long and rich history had Storm’s End ever fallen to a siege.

But Ser Cortnay Penrose wasn’t a man who’d been born and raised in the fortress as Lord Stannis had done, nor was he a smuggler that had risen to knighthood by being able to find a way that wasn’t supposed to exist through the massive curtain wall.

Together, Stannis and Davos knew every crook and cranny of the mighty keep and had no qualms about using their knowledge to end its unblemished history once Ser Cortnay refused to yield it to Stannis by order of the true King, Jon Targaryen the first of his name, with some help in the form of a tricky-minded wizard who ken a thing or two about bringing down supposedly unassailable fortresses.

Using only the light of the full moon, Ser Davos steered his way around the cliffs to the hidden sea-door that was able to be breeched at the lowest point of the tide.  It was a deadly endeavor, a single misstep in timing would have them smashed against the cliff’s face as the water of Shipbreaker Bay rose once more, dashing their little boat to pieces on the rocks.  But it was a gamble Davos had made once before and that he was betting on again, having only revealed the existence of the door to Stannis in the days after Eddard Stark lifted the Tyrell siege during the end days of Robert’s Rebellion.

To his knowledge, and by Lord Stannis’s own recollection, Renly Baratheon knew nothing of it, therefor neither would his castellan Ser Penrose.

After all, it was impossible to guard against a threat you didn’t know even existed.

As he brought the craft alongside, Davos signaled to Prince Oberyn and Sallador where to set the pry-bars to open the hidden door.  The two strong men set to work, peering through narrowed eyes as they wrenched the rock-and-steel door open through force and leverage as quietly as possible.  All five of the party froze as they heard the guards on the curtain wall far above their heads call out.

They’d been heard though not yet seen.

“Hurry now.”  Davos ushered them into the pitch-black tunnel.  “No lights until we’re inside.  Step lightly lasses,” he handed up the Sand Snakes to their waiting father.  “Before we’re seen.”

Picking up the waiting-to-be-lit torches from the bottom of the boat, Davos handed them off before making the jump himself, his good friend Sallador catching him when his foot made to slip, sending him back into the punishing waves at were rising before their eyes.

Davos gave Sallador a quick nod of thanks before lending his shoulder into resealing the door before the returning tide could flood the hidden tunnel.  A grate of flint on stone by one of the Sand Snakes had light flaring up, temporarily blinding them, her sister moving to set the others alight as Sallador and Davos finished leveraging the door back into place.  Sallador clapped one hand to Davos’s shoulder with a wide grin saying in a whisper: “Almost lost you, old friend.”

“What is this place?”  Prince Oberyn asked, tilting his head to get a closer look at some of the carvings on the rock face.  “A smuggler’s den?”

“Aye,” Davos answered, leading the way through the winding tunnel that led up into the castle.  “And nay.  It was known to me and I used it to smuggle food to the fortress during the Tyrell siege: aye.  But it existed long before then, Prince Oberyn.”

“An escape route.”  Oberyn’s second-eldest daughter Nymeria, known as ‘Lady Nym’ for her mother having been a noblewoman in Volantis, commented perceptively.  “One that the Baratheons were unknowing of as they weren’t the original builders of the fortress.”

“It could be, Lady Nym.”  Davos nodded genially.  “Or it could have had a different purpose altogether.  We will likely never know.”  He held up a hand, listening deeply with a frown on his face.  Lowering his voice, he warned them: “We’re approaching the outcropping inside the curtain wall where the tunnel ends.  From there we’ll have to cross the length of the curtain wall to reach the gates on the far side, including a well-lit courtyard that abuts the gates.”

“Leave that to us.”  Obara said, exchanging a glance with her younger sister.  “This is where underestimating women becomes the folly of men.”

Obara’s words proved true, as the two Sand Snakes easily put on a mummer’s play of being maids or harlots, ladies or fishwives, depending on those they encountered.  Many a guardsman pressed them to a wall for a kiss only to find a silent blade slitting their throat from the second sister.  It was a mummery that Davos watched with distaste but knew the necessity of nonetheless, one suggested by Lord Potter-Black himself, along with the false-siege.

If they couldn’t make it to the gates and release them, then all their planning and troubles would be for nought.

Ser Davos wouldn’t fail his friend and Lord due to an attack of ill-timed scruples, though he found himself grateful that Oberyn had only brought a pair of his daughters with him, leaving the youngest four in Dorne with the two missing daughters elsewhere in Westeros but still participating in their ways to the campaign.

Making it at last to the gates, the Sand Snakes cat-called the watchmen and distracted them while Sallador entered the tower on the left and Oberyn on the right, fighting their way through the few watchmen – quietly – that hadn’t been drawn out by the Sand Snakes.  Inside the towers laid the levers that would release the portcullis, allowing Davos to dart inside the gateway tunnel with numerous murder-holes overhead to the final lever that would release the gates themselves.  The archers had been alerted by the commotion, as had the remaining men-at-arms which called to muster a defense as the portcullis was raised, Ser Davos lifting a shield the length of a man that he’d taken from one of the downed defenders to protect himself from the arrows raining down on him, the former smuggler running as fast as his old sea-legs could carry him towards the small group of men-at-arms that surrounded the gate mechanism.

It was quick and bloody, Davos ignoring whether a strike of his sword killed, crippled, or simply knocked one of the four men aside, even going so far as to bash one in the helm with the shield he still held, the Onion Knight making it at last to the lever and kicking it free with a furious smash of his boot.

The sound of the mechanism releasing reverberated through the fortress and the open plain below to Lord Stannis’s forces, Davos hearing the sound of the Lord himself calling for the advance as Davos set the shield once more to protect him from the flying arrows as he set his jaw, prepared to hold the gate alone as long as necessary until the advancing army could relieve him.

He'd never failed Lord Stannis before; Ser Davos wasn’t about to start now.

With the cunning and daring of Ser Davos and his strange party, the fortress fell quickly to Stannis’s forces, Renly having only left a thousand men under Ser Penrose to hold the seat of the Storm Lands.

For his part, Ser Cortnay was glad to have survived the taking of the castle, a feeling that doubled when he discovered that Stannis had no intention of harming his older brother’s bastard son Edric Storm who had been fostered at Storm’s End under Renly at Robert’s behest to protect him from retaliation by Cersei.

Word had already spread far and wide over the Lannister Queen’s ‘cleansing’ of the lands she controlled through her son of Robert’s bastard children.  Though whether it was the work of Cersei herself or her own bastard Joffery many were unsure.

In the days that followed the taking of Storm’s End, many of the Storm Lords who had previously sworn to Renly turned their cloaks and flocked back to the seat of the Storm lands, bending the knee to Lord Stannis as Lord Paramount of the Storm Lands and Jon Targaryen as King of the Seven Kingdoms.

Once the siege was over and the fortress secure, Prince Oberyn and his Sand Snakes gathered the rest of the Dornishmen and their portion of the Dornish fleet and set sail to reinforce the blockade of the Reach as had previously been arranged between Oberyn and Jon Targaryen.

It was while supping in the Great Hall of the Arbor which the Dornish Fleet had already taken before being reinforced by Oberyn’s ships and planning attacks on Blackcrown and Oldtown, the Three Towers having been taken as well by their land troops, that word reached the Prince of the Targaryen’s gift of the heads of the murderers of his most-beloved sister and her young children.

Prince Oberyn raised a goblet in toast to the Young Dragon saying:

“The blood of Dorne is avenged but our vengeance is not yet done.  I will fight for the Young Dragon until the blood of Tywin Lannister and all his get runs the Blackwater red.”

“I can’t believe I let him talk me into this.”  Harry complained to his companions a full turn after Jon’s initial question had been posed to Harry, as they waited to set boots down on the island of Pyke, the capitol of the Iron Islands.

Balon Greyjoy, so called “King” of the Iron Islands, had called for a parlay between the admiral of the blockading Targaryen fleet and himself once word had reached him that his brother had taken fifteen ships to go reaving the Westerlands after the failed sack of Moat Cailin.

The Iron Captains were up in arms, infuriated that their Lord had lost them their right to reave the Reach and the Westerlands by trying to once again make himself King.

Especially since this wasn’t against Robert Baratheon that Balon had rebelled but against a dragon-sister-fucking-Targaryen, who word had it, had an actual-fucking-dragon in his service!

Of the five hundred longships that made up the entirety of the Iron Islands fleet, only a fraction had answered Balon’s call to raid the North, those thirty being halved by the Northern troops, and the remaining joining the rest of the fleet in raiding the southron waters.  All the captains knew that eventually, if Balon didn’t stop with his delusions of grandeur, the rest of the Dornish fleet would be done with the Stepstones and the Storm Lands and would join the Targaryen Fleet and the second half of their own men and ships and start striking at the Iron Islands and their fleet, no longer content with blockading and small sea skirmishes.  The Iron Fleet was fierce, but against a combined assault by the green-lander dromonds and Northern longships, they wouldn’t stand a chance in a protracted battle where the greater speed and agility of their fleet would flounder against the sheer power in the extra men and arms the bigger vessels commanded.

And that was if the Targaryen didn’t simply unleash his dragon on them and saved himself the hassle of a prolonged sea campaign.

A raven was sent to Lord Admiral Velaryon asking for a parlay between the Iron Islands and the Admiral of the Targaryen Fleet, a raven which kicked off a series of events that culminated in Harry getting sucked into Jon’s harebrained plot to piss off his Lords.

At least, that was how Harry saw it.

Accompanying him on this mad adventure were Theon Greyjoy, the newly-knighted Lord Ser Robb Stark, Grey Wind staying behind at Riverrun much to the direwolf’s disgust, as well as a score of knights of mixed Northern and southron origins, and Prince Lewen Martell, Jon having ordered him along to keep Harry out of “unnecessary trouble.”

Harry wished him luck as trouble tended to follow him like ticks on a bitch, this latest scheme, (though not of his own making even if his words to Jon had sowed the seed that had ended in this insane harvest of a madcap plan), being only the most recent in strange and horrible things that had occurred over the course of Harry’s life.

If successful, it would serve two purposes: first, making Harry a more “suitable” prospect as Consort to the King and second, due to the complement of men with him, proving to the Lords and knights of the realm that Harry was more than – as Jon had put it – “a catamite with a few mummer’s tricks.”

Honestly, Harry thought Jon was being a bit optimistic.

If standing against the Kingslayer in single combat, as well as everything else Harry had done without the aid of magic didn’t prove that to the Lords and knights, he wasn’t sure what this plot of Jon’s would accomplish.  But Harry had gone along with it, too in love with the idiot to naysay him when he had his heart and mind set on this course.  Harry wasn’t holding out hope for the outcome Jon was seeking, however.  Life had taught him one too many lessons about the stubbornness of the masses for him to believe this would or even could work.

The only bright light Harry saw in this whole mess was that he might be able to take out some of his anger and aggression this whole quagmire had spawned on some of the Ironborn.

Theon Greyjoy gave a derisive snort to Harry’s back at his words.  He had no problem believing that the Targaryen bastard had gulled his lover into being part of the Targaryen envoy to the Iron Islands.  The dragon-fucker had probably batted his pretty purple eyes and shook his arse for his pet wizard and he’d fallen in line the way Robb Stark always had when they were striplings in Winterfell.

Granted, even Theon had been shocked when he himself had been selected.  The Targaryen cunt had been too firm against Theon acting as sole envoy for the King that his late addition to the party had been strange to say the least.  The group had already been set to leave in days when the dragon-bastard had danced right into the planning meeting and had Theon as well as Robb and ‘Lord’ Harry summoned, ordering them and a dozen others along on what had originally been a simple parlay.

Now, they weren’t entirely certain of what their purpose in the Iron Islands was.

It seemed that only the King’s pet wizard knew – a state of things that didn’t give any of them comfort considering the last time those two kept something to themselves the Twins ended up sacked and dozens of men and women hung from the Crossing as a warning against treason for all to see, Roose Bolton among them, the Lord of the Dreadfort losing his life, title, and lands for his reward in partaking in a failed plot.

The Greyjoy Heir had an itch between his shoulder blades that simply wouldn’t abate.

As if someone had painted a target on his back and had him in their sights at that very moment.

He shuddered at the feeling.

Sooner this clusterfuck of a mission was over, the better as far as Theon was concerned.  Then he could either get back to killing Lannisters with the army or finally take his place as a Captain of his own ship.  Either way he didn’t give a fuck.  So long as there was blood on his blade and women to rut at the end of the day.

Theon had always known there was something off about the Stark bastard.  In that way him being one of the sister-fucking Targaryens wasn’t much of a surprise.  That Jon-not-a-Snow liked to lay with men…well.  The Targaryens were known for their perverse nature.

Sickening was what it was to the Greyjoy Heir, that some of the green-landers would cross swords in that manner.  His father had always railed against the perverseness of the green-landers and their soft ways that made some men more woman than man.  At least, if Theon’s plan worked as he thought it might, there will be one less perverse green-lander polluting Iron air before the end of the day…

...

They crossed towards the ancient stronghold of Pyke after landing at Lordsport, escorted all the way by a woman with sandy blonde hair and a cross look on her comely face.

Harry and the rest took no notice of her beyond that of an escort, all save the Greyjoy whelp who couldn’t seem to help himself when in the presence of anything with a nice pair of teats.  Robb looked particularly embarrassed by Theon making an ass of himself and boasting about being the newly-returned Greyjoy heir, while the woman herself was merely amused at his antics.

She showed them into the Great Hall of Pyke, where the Seastone Chair, the ancient seat of the Kings and Lords of the Iron Islands was kept.  Legend had it that the first men found the kraken, carved from a solid piece of oily black rock of unknown kind on a beach at Great Wyk, and it had been the seat of Lords and Kings of the Ironborn ever since.  On this day, it held the weather-beaten figure of Balon Greyjoy, his captains and Lords who had either returned for the parlay or had been in and on the Iron Islands before the blockade, arrayed around the Great Hall and eyeing the emissaries warily.

There was no telling who might be among the group of green-landers, sent to speak with the Greyjoy on behalf of the Young Dragon King who was already making his mark on Westeros.

The Ironborn respected military strength and paying the iron price above all else, the Young Dragon’s stated desire to rule from the Iron Throne only after conquering the length and breadth of Westeros had won him much respect from the Lords and Captains of the Iron Islands, especially after his swift actions at the Twins and Riverrun and his foresight in leaving Moat Cailin and the Western coast of the Northlands protected against raids by the Ironborn.

Murmurs broke out among the Ironborn in the Great Hall as they caught sight of one man in particular, shadowed as he was by his taller companions.

Wearing strange leather armor that showed wear, and having a sword with an inky black blade, the Ironborn recognized the rumors of the Young Dragon’s pet wizard, the so-called Warrior-Who-Waits with his deep black hair and blazing green eyes that shamed any emerald the Ironborn had laid hands on through their raids.

“Who have you brought before the King of the Iron Islands and the North, daughter?”

Theon started in confused shock and stared at the sandy-blonde woman as she smirked at him and moved to stand to one side of the Seastone Chair.

“A group of green-landers, father.”  Asha Greyjoy reported.  “Come to parlay.”

“King of the Iron Islands and the North is it?”  Harry asked mildly, arching a brow as he moved to stand at the head of the party, pushing Theon to one side as an afterthought.  “King of the Iron Islands – of that we’ll see.”  His smirk was pure wicked spite as the Ironborn surrounding him and his party began to rumble in discontent.  Whether at the truth of his words or at him speaking them at all while patently outnumbered, only time would tell.  “But King of the North?”  He tsked, shaking his head.  “My understanding of paying the iron price,” he spat out the words jerking one thumb towards the gaping Theon.  “Is that you must pay in blood for that which you would claim.  You haven’t blooded the North, Ironborn.”  Harry’s voice turned soft.  “Or did your only living son and Heir lie?”

“He spoke the truth, green-lander.”  A thin man in a grey tunic, hair wild with sea salt spoke from the side of the Seastone Chair from Asha Greyjoy.

To Harry’s eyes this could only be Aeron Greyjoy, who Theon claimed was mad and a fanatic priest of the Drowned God.

“In all things a true Ironborn must pay the Iron price.”  Aeron Greyjoy agreed, though it clearly sat ill with his elder brother who scowled at the implied reprimand.

Never had it occurred to Balon that with the Starks marching south of the Neck that they would have left the Northern coasts as well-defended as they had.  Even less likely to the Greyjoy Lord that his ever-loyal brother Victarion would abandon him to raid the Westerlands rather than return for more orders when the incursion failed.  Now having these green-landers arrive and shove his failures and his weakling son in his face was more salt in his eyes.

“The fact remains.”  Balon barked out, silencing the mutters of his captains.  “That you have not presented yourself to the Seastone Chair.”

“Pardon then.”  Harry tilted his head, a smirk still playing with his lips.

If Robb didn’t know any better he’d swear that Harry was having fun rattling the kraken’s cage, recognizing his intentionally-irritating manner from when he was trying to drive the Frey’s into bringing to mind the information he needs.

“Lord Harry Potter-Black,” he swept an exaggerated bow towards the Greyjoy.  “Last of the Most Ancient and Noble Houses of Peverell, Slytherin, and Gryffindor, Last Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble Houses of Potter and Black.  The Boy-Who-Lived, Defeater-of-the-Dark-Lord-Voldemort, the Chosen One and the Man-Who-Conquered.”

You could hear a pin drop the hall was so silent as Harry continued to rattle off his many and varied titles, each and every one earned, of that they had no doubt after hearing him take Balon to task.

It made his companions look at him with whole new eyes, and the Ironborn with something akin to respect.

“Undesireable No. 1,” he almost cracked a smile at that title but managed to keep his smirk and flamboyant mask in place.  “Foster-father and pater familias of Lord Edward Remus Lupin-Black, and most recently,” he arched a brow getting to the meat of the matter.  “Lord of the Land of Always Winter and the Fist of the First Men, Strong-Right-Arm of his Grace King Jon Targaryen, the first of His Name, also known as the Warrior-Who-Waits or the Warrior of Old.”

As predicted, it was the final chain of names and titles that brought the most reaction, the rest of them being strange to Ironborn and Westeron ears.

“There has never been a Lord of Always Winter nor the Fist of the First Men,” one of the Ironborn captains pointed out, leaning forward eagerly to hear the green-lander’s response.  It was sure to rile Balon, something Lord Baelor Blacktyde was always eager to see, the Blacktydes of Blacktyde having been Kings and rulers of the Iron Islands long before the Greyjoys rose to power in the wake of Aegon’s Conquering.

“No.”  Harry agreed with an easy smile.  “There hasn’t.  But as my Tomb laid beneath the Fist for thousands of years beyond counting – until that is, the new King woke me up – King Jon found it fitting to name me ruler over them, especially as one of the first things I did after waking was defeat a horde of White Walkers, allowing the King and some men of the Night’s Watch to make it back to the Wall and safety from the dreaded undead.”

“The Warrior-Who-Waits.”  Aeron Greyjoy spoke, his voice craggy but musing.  “A heavy title, for such small shoulders.”

Some of the Ironborn captains roared at the jape, while a few others Lord Baelor among them did not, knowing of the title from their own family stories handed down by the First Men, as had been done in the North for thousands of years.  If the Greyjoys had kept more of their history after the invasion of the Andals, they wouldn’t laugh so easily at the title, it being from a tale old long before the Grey King defeated the sea dragon Nagga and built the first longship.

Harry’s companions muttered amongst themselves at the blatant disrespect being shown the envoy of the Targaryen King, Theon notably not among them, having laughed along with the others among the Ironborn at his uncle’s jest.

“White Walkers,” Balon scoffed.  “Next you’ll spin tale of snarks and grumpkins pouring over the Wall.”  He waved a hand.  “These are soft, green-lander tales and have no place in the halls of the Iron Islands, Strong-Right-Arm of the dragon-fucker King.”

“Green-lander tales they might be.”  Lord Baelor spoke up once more, having no fear of Balon Greyjoy.  The only Greyjoy that would give him pause was Euron Crow’s Eye, and he had been exiled for a dozen years.  “But even I know of the Warrior-Who-Waits, Greyjoy.”  Baelor gave a firm nod in recognition to the man.  “I say the captains will hear him and the message he bears from his King.”

“I am King!”  Balon shouted, rising to his feet and raising a threatening fist to the Blacktyde of Blacktyde.  “I say when and who will speak, not you Blacktyde!”

“Well then.”  Harry cracked his neck and took out an axe.  “Let’s do something about that little problem then.”  He gave a bloodthirsty grin at the taken-aback would-be King.  “Care to dance, King of the Iron Islands or are you afraid to lose to a green-lander?”

“No Ironborn would be afraid to finger-dance with a green-lander.”  Theon scoffed.

Honestly, Harry couldn’t have planned that little outburst of Theon’s better if he tried.

“Very well.”  Balon managed to agree from between gritted teeth.  “Terms?”

“When I win,” Harry gave a rakish smile to the laughing Ironborn.  “When I win, I’ll take the Seastone Chair.”

Silence rang throughout the hall.

If this green-lander who claimed to be a hero of old won the finger-dance against Balon, it would make him Lord of the Iron Islands.

“No man not faithful to the Drowned God can sit in the Seastone Chair as Lord or King of the Iron Islands.”  Aeron claimed, voice heated with zealotry.

“I do not know this god of yours.”  Harry said, voice steady.  “Nor will I convert.  There is only one god I serve, though he is known by many names and many faces.  For in the end.”  Harry’s voice chilled even the Ironborn to their very bones.  “Death comes for us all.”

“If you will risk this folly.”  Aeron dismissed his words.  “Then on your own head be it.”

“Agreed.”  Balon sneered.  “If you win: The Seastone Chair and Lordship over the Iron Islands.”  His eyes gleamed with avarice.  “And if I win you come serve me, as the pet wizard and strong-arm of the King of the Iron Islands.”

“Done.”  Harry nodded his head then intoned: “So mote it be.”  Creating a flash and a visible chain of golden light that linked them: An Unbreakable Vow, thought the others simply dismissed it as the wizard’s magic binding their bet.

“Clear the floor.”  Balon demanded as he began shucking his armor, readying his axe as Harry did the same.  “No one is to interfere.”

Harry shrugged off his outer layers as Robb and Lewen tried to hurriedly convince him to change his mind only to give up when he proved to give their words no heed.

It wouldn’t be the first time Lordship of the Iron Islands was decided by the finger-dance, but it certainly had the makings of being the most memorable.

“Which axe shall be used?”  Harry called out across the Great Hall to Balon who had moved to a clear area in front of the Seastone Chair.  “Yours or mine?”

A thrown hand-axe was his answer, Harry dodging it and then tossing his own away with a laugh.  Bets were called and rang out, both among the Ironborn and the green-landers who had come with Harry, though the two didn’t intermingle.  The game was as simple as it was dangerous: two or more people throwing a hand-axe between them, the game only stopping when one concedes to the other or is too injured to play on.  It had been dubbed the “finger-dance” due to the high likelihood of losing a finger while attempting to catch or dodge the axe thrown by one’s opponent.

However, with Harry playing, who had spent years dodging bludgers that moved much faster and with more force in mid-air while avoiding other players and trying to catch a much-smaller object, the game wasn’t as difficult as the Ironborn had expected him to find it.

Harry picked up the axe from where it had imbedded itself against the wall, testing the balance a moment before hurling it with great force, sending it on its deadly way towards Balon who only managed to dodge it by jumping to one side, it moving far too quickly for him to attempt a catch.

They exchanged throws for several turns, neither making an attempt to catch the axe, Harry showing off his agility a bit as he leapt and dodged, laughing a time or two at a near miss – incidentally inciting Balon’s rage, which was the purpose behind his showmanship.  Angry men were cold and calculating men, enraged men were blinded and made mistakes.  Unfortunately, they also tended to be stronger, as Harry was reminded when the axe came towards him in a furious blur, the wizard barely ducking down in time to miss an axe to the skull.

“Not bad!”  Harry shouted, working the axe out of the wall once more.  “Almost had me, though you would’ve been shy a wizard as a result!”

Setting his jaw and grip firming, though only a few noticed the small tells, an anxiously watching Robb among them, Harry lifted the axe once more and sent it flying towards Balon, almost faster than the eye could see.

Almost at once the watchers realized that the smaller of the two opponents had been underutilizing his strength the whole time, while working to enrage Balon and wear him down.

A strategy that proved itself true as the axe buried itself several inches deep in the shoulder of Balon’s throwing arm, the Greyjoy unable to dodge completely out of the way of the blade.

Asha moved to help her father only to be waved off with a snarl and a curse.

No one could help him lest he forfeit to the green-lander pillow-biting sorcerer.

Oh, yes.  Balon had heard tell of the depravity the wizard got up to with his dragon-fucking King.  And over his dead body would a man such as that take the Seastone Chair.

With a grunt and a groaning curse, Balon managed to rip the axe from his shoulder and bind the wound quickly with a scrap off his tunic, staunching the blood flow before it had him light-headed.  Regaining his feet, Balon shot the axe back towards the green-lander with all his strength, only to stare in disbelieving shock as the man snatched it out of the very air, making the first true catch of the game, another one of those taunting smiles on his too-pretty face.

“This is a nice axe.”  Harry noted lightly.  “Looks better with red coating the blade.”

As he said blade, he gave another powerful throw, this time anticipating how Balon would dodge.

Anticipating a bit too well as it turned out, Harry catching the Greyjoy in mid-move, the axe-blade burying itself to the hilt in Balon’s breastbone with the force of his throw.

Gasps of shock rang out from the watching Ironborn, Asha and Theon both running towards their father with denials on their lips.  Aeron followed them, a bit more slowly, as he took in the carefully blank face of the green-lander who had just cut down the King of the Iron Islands in the guise of a game and a bet.  This was no green-lander to take lightly, despite his earlier jibes.  A fact that the Greyjoys were learning too slowly it seemed.

Aeron hoped that his other brothers wouldn’t prove as foolish as Balon, though knowing the Crow’s Eye, that would be, no doubt, too much to hope for.

Balon gasped his last few words for only his brother and remaining children to hear, blood running like rivers from his mouth as he bled out from the still-buried axe wound.

Once it was done, Aeron reached down and gave a mighty heave, pulling the axe from his brother’s chest with a wrench and a loud sucking sound as the corpse gave up the weapon albeit reluctantly.

“You have won the right to the Seastone Chair.”  Aeron nodded, holding out the bloodied axe for all to see.  “But that does not mean you will be able to take it, green-lander.  Nor that you will be able to keep it.  The Drowned God will strike down the unfaithful and unworthy.”

“Drowned God my arse.”  Theon snarled, jumping to his feet, face a furious red.  “I challenge you here and now!”  The Greyjoy Heir cried out, pointing a hand coated in his father’s blood at the implacable Harry.

“You don’t want to do that, Greyjoy.”  Harry’s voice was low and chilling, nearly matching that of when he spoke of Death.

“What, are you craven?”  Theon demanded.  “I know you’re a pillow-boy for that sister-fucker you call King, but are you a coward as well?”

“Be careful, Theon.”  Robb warned from behind closed eyes and a stoic mien.  “That’s my cousin you’re insulting.  A cousin you bent the knee to, if you care to recall.”

“Fuck Jon Targaryen!  And fuck you, the Great Lord Robb Stark!”  Theon spat at them, his spittle marring the stone floor.  “I have demanded a challenge by single-combat and I shall have it as blood-rights demand!”

“Nephew.”  Euron Crow’s Eye melted from the shadows, no longer having to hide his face in shadows and secret as his exile was instantly lifted with his brother’s death.

The other Ironborn grumbled angrily among themselves as his brother Aeron took several fearful steps back and away from the handsome Greyjoy with his distinctive eyepatch.  But there was nothing the Ironborn captains could do in the wake of Balon’s death and a new Lord of the Iron Islands not yet selected.  None of them were deluded enough to think that however events played out that the Targaryen King would allow them their independence.

“Perhaps you should heed their warning.  Methinks there is more to this green-lander Warrior than meets my eye.”

Harry gave the newcomer an appraising look.  There was a glint in his good eye that reminded the wizard most vividly of the two most dangerous wizards he ever met, wizards that were constantly underestimated by everyone around them, including their own family.  Everyone thought Fred and George Weasley were do-nothings and no-good pranksters, they saw their craziness and dismissed them as nothing.  And in the end, they were two of the fiercest and most effective members of the Order of the Phoenix, taking down more Death Eaters between them than most of the rest combined.  George had even assisted Harry and the Aurors in hunting down the remnants after the final battle, often fatally.

This Greyjoy was dangerous in ways Balon or Theon or even Aeron with his zealotry couldn’t match.  The Crow’s Eye had a thirst in him, one that wouldn’t be satisfied even if he drank the world dry.  Dismissing him because he might be mad would be a fatal mistake.

“I accept your challenge to single-combat, Theon of House Greyjoy.”  Harry spoke, words soft and quiet but no less piercing through the jeering of the Ironborn who all had an opinion about Theon’s challenge or the green-landers or the appearance of Euron Greyjoy when the last was supposed to be anywhere but in the Iron islands.  “The terms?”

“To the death.”  Theon’s eyes gleamed with his maddened grief and his unrelenting desire to spill Harry’s blood.  The dragon-fucker’s would be better, but he’ll settle, for now, for his catamite.

Harry nodded, accepting the terms.

“And the weapon, Lord Potter-Black?”  Aeron Greyjoy prompted.  As the challenger his nephew was able to choose the terms of single-combat, but as the challenged the green-lander had the right to choose the weapon unless he forfeited the right to Theon.

“Daggers.”  Harry gave a vicious grin, having seen the Greyjoy’s disdain for Harry’s main weapon after his wand and sword.

“A woman’s weapon.”  Theon sneered with disgust, spitting again to clear the distaste from his mouth.  “But then, perhaps you’re a woman under your leathers, it would explain how the dragon-fucker king can stand to plow you night after night.”

“Ah, Theon.”  Harry gave him a too-sweet smile as he twirled a pair of daggers he’d taken from his pile of armor in his hands.  All he was wearing was his basilisk-hide tunic, trousers, and boots over his underclothes, ignoring the mithril and steel armor and dragonhide leather battle robes that made up his armor.  He’d stripped down for the finger-dance, knowing that the extra protection wasn’t worth the loss of agility as Balon had proved in the end.

And against a dagger he didn’t need any protection beyond that of the basilisk hide.

“I always knew you wanted to get in my trousers.”  Harry smirked as the Ironborn guffawed around them, the Greyjoy heir’s face turning an ugly shade of puce at the mockery.  “No need to cover it up behind talk of my secretly being a woman.  I assure you.”  He gave a joking leer.  “I’m all male under my clothes.”

The Ironborn and Harry’s companions made a circle enclosing the two but leaving them with room to maneuver, Robb grabbing Harry at the final moments of preparations in what looked to the others as an embrace, whispering as he hid his mouth on the far side of Harry’s face, having turned the wizard’s profile towards Theon and the Ironborn with his grab.

“He’s quick to strike.”  Robb whispered rapidly, the words almost tripping over themselves as he tried to give Harry what edge against the Ironborn that he could.  Theon was one hells of a fighter, even if Harry had chosen a weapon the cocky bastard wasn’t all that used to.  He was still familiar with it, Robb’s late father not standing for anything less.  “But slow to recover, and has no problem taking the low blow or dirty strike at an opponent’s back.”  Robb glanced sideways at the furiously pacing man who was once one of his closest friends.  That time was well gone now.  “Your daggers are better and longer than his but it won’t make up for his extra reach.”  Robb pressed his lips to the side of Harry’s head in a halfway-kiss.  “And try, whatever you do, to stay out of reach of his bow arm.  He’s twice the power with it as the other.”

Harry pulled back and quirked a small smile, knowing that they were giving rise to a flurry of rumors with every moment he stayed tucked away in Robb’s strong arms.  Even if it was innocent – which it mostly was for both of them – it didn’t appear that way.  And when one of you is the Cousin of the King and the other his Right-Arm and acknowledged lover, it was the appearance of things that mattered.

“I’ll try.”  Harry turned and started for the center of the circle.  “But no promises.”

“Speak your words.”  Aeron commanded the combatants.

“What is Dead may never Die.”  Theon snarled like a true Ironborn, much to Aeron’s approval, hands clenching in rage around the pair of daggers his sister Asha had slipped him.

Harry’s educated gaze saw the tell, picking up on it at once.  Theon was going into a death-duel with strange weaponry.  That would hinder him greatly, perhaps even enough to counteract his greater reach.  In all honesty, choosing daggers could end up being a deadly gamble for the wizard, his personal comfort with the weapon being outweighed by Theon’s greater reach and strength.

But only the conclusion of the match would decide that.

At this point there was no way to tell for sure, despite the new rash of betting that had broken out, this time the Ironborn and Harry’s companions intermingling now that the Greyjoy was dead and unable to stop them.

“Dead is dead.”  Harry shot back.  “In the end, death comes for all men.”

Aeron nodded, acknowledging the words though not accepting them, and stepped back out of the circle.

Once his brother was out of the way, Euron began the match, calling for them to “Begin!”

Theon struck first, or attempted to anyway, planning to take advantage of Harry having already spent the better part of an hour throwing a hand axe and dodging it in turn.  And against an opponent who wasn’t used to prolonged activity, much as your average southron knight who trained at various martial skills only bringing them to bear for extended periods of time during rare battles, the occasional tourney, and the now on-going war, Theon’s plan would have worked in all likelihood.

Harry wasn’t your average southron knight.

Instead he was an athlete before he began to study things like swordplay and edged weapons, even hand-to-hand combat.  And the sport he was the star of required extended physical workouts in case of a match taking hours or even days.  The person who said that staying steady on a broom going 150km per hour wasn’t a workout had no idea of things like physics and wind shear.  Harry hadn’t stopped playing either just because school was over.  No.  He kept up with his regimen as he traveled and learned the healing arts and the magics of communities outside of Britain.

Quidditch, like any other sport, tended to cross normal boundaries and relieve the initial tension caused by being a stranger in a strange land, as Harry had seen first-hand at the Quidditch World Cup.

So instead of a tired, weary opponent who was slow to react and slower to strike, Theon Greyjoy found himself up against a highly-honed athlete, who hadn’t even found need of a second wind yet, due to the throw-wait-dodge-banter-throw pace of the finger-dance.

An advantage Harry took good use of, as Theon overestimated his first strike, causing him to overextend his dominant arm, giving the more-experienced dagger-user to dodge forward instead of back, easily blocking the covering strike from Theon’s second blade with one hand and slicing savagely at the Ironborn’s extended arm, that as Robb had predicted was slow to recover from the first strike, ripping a deep gash into Theon’s bicep and kicking out with his left leg, shoving the Ironborn back at the same time as Harry used to momentum to flip away in a strange move neither the Ironborn nor the green-landers had ever seen before.

Well.

Most of them.

Euron Crow’s Eye arched a brow.  The well-traveled and infamous pirate had seen similar tactics from a few fighters on the Summer Isles.  He’d been right.  There was more to the littlest green-lander than met his eye.

“You’ll have to do better than that, nephew.”  Euron called out as Harry claimed first-blood, in half-encouragement and half-jeer.  “This green-lander knows skills a whelp like you could only dream of!  And not just between the sheets, boy!”  Euron gave the roaring crowd a careful study.  He prided himself on being the most cunning of the Greyjoys but you didn’t need to be particularly quick to see which way the wind was turning.  The Young Dragon had chosen his envoy and champion well when it came to dealing with the Ironborn, it seemed.  “Ten dragons on the green-lander!”

“Brother!”  Aeron rebuked him as Theon charged again, once more missing his target though this time making the same mistake as Jaime Lannister had at first: not counting on Harry’s speed, it was hard to strike at what was already gone, Harry shoving the point home as he used the speed of his whirling dodge to tag Theon again, this time on his opposite leg just behind the knee.

“You don’t have to have two good eyes to see which way this is going, Aeron.”  Euron spoke lowly for only his brother’s ears.  “The little vicious one is bleeding him, toying with him.  Theon’s death was certain the moment he challenged the green-lander king-fucker, the same as our rapidly-cooling Balon.”

The Crow’s Eye’s words proved to be prophetic, as Harry took the offensive, knocking aside every attempt by his larger and stronger opponent, each flashing strike of his daggers finding a weakness in Theon’s armor, the Greyjoy heir turning into a mass of cuts both great-and-small, deep-and-shallow before their watchful eyes.

Then Harry, tired of the game, tossed his main dagger into the air and caught it in a blaze of showmanship, now wielding it so the blade was protruding from his fist rather than as an extension of his arm.

Knocking the dagger in Theon’s left hand loose and sending it clattering away with his off-hand, Harry took advantage of Theon’s shock with his main, cutting a brutal slash from Theon’s cheekbone to his jaw in a jagged cut that even if Theon survived the match would mark his handsome face for all time, Harry’s change in grip making his once-smooth cuts and slashes turn into cruel, gaping wounds nearly to the bone.

Theon cried out and stumbled, holding his now-empty hand up to his cheek where he felt with his probing tongue that the wound in places was through-and-through.  The little cocksucker had torn all the way through the meat of his face, leaving sagging flesh to drip down from both bone and jaw, having nothing to anchor it in-between.

Snarling once more, Theon gave a blood-filled baring of teeth too malicious to be called a smile and charged the patiently-waiting little cunt, who was watching him with calm green-eyes as if he was a particularly amusing insect trying to escape being pinned to a collection board.  Shifting his own grip on his dagger, he echoed that which tore apart his face, stabbing downward with the full of his remaining strength in a jab that would pierce right through the green-lander’s shiny leathers.

Only to stop and choke, arm still raised, as another dagger, the one in Harry’s off-hand that he’d rarely used except to shield against Theon’s strikes, buried itself to the hilt in the vulnerable gap between mail shirt and leather pants that had been left open by Theon’s highly raised arm, his mail shirt moving with him and leaving his soft belly exposed.

Harry gave a cold, cruel sneer before giving the blade a vicious twist and jerking it loose, Theon’s legs buckling and sending him to his hands and knees, blood and viscera pouring from the jagged tear in his abdomen, now longer able to keep his feet without leaning on the weapon that had wounded him.

“My name.”  Harry’s voice was as cold and cruel as the sneer he’d given Theon.  “Is Harry, son of James.  I am the last of my Line and the last, so far as I know, of my Kind.”  Fisting one hand in Theon’s hair he heaved him up on his knees as the Greyjoy Heir bled out, coughing up blood in a macabre repetition of his father’s own death less than an hour before, and at the same hand.  “My words are Magic, Honor, and Sacrifice.”  His iced-over green eyes chilled each of the Ironborn and even those who had accompanied him to Pyke as he cast his gaze over each of the assembled.  “Make no mistake:” he pointed the bloodied dagger around the circle.  “I survived a Dark Lord after my blood from before I was even born.  Fuck with me and I’ll sacrifice each and every one of you squid-fucking rapists to Death and lay down a hail of Fire and Blood on these Islands so thick and deep they’ll still be smoking in a thousand years.”

Turning back to Theon, Harry placed the tip of his dagger at the base of the Greyjoy Heir’s ear and jerked from side to side, slitting his throat handily, the blood spraying out or coming down in rivers from the gaping wound.

“Anyone else want to pick a fight today?”  Harry demanded, wiping his daggers clean on a dry patch on Theon’s tunic before he let go of the body, allowing it to slump to the ground in a pool of its own blood.  “I have some more of that the Greyjoys reaped if so.”

A figure melted from the shadows, passing through the Seastone Chair and the ring of men as if made of nothing more than air and smoke.  The men who felt its touch shuddered from a cold so deep and so bitter it rivaled that of the harshest of winters.  As it came to a stop at Harry’s side it clapped, once, twice, thrice, in a joke of applause for Harry’s performance.

And when it spoke, all who heard it gasped or cried out in fear for their very lives, a fear that the Ironborn had rarely if ever felt before.

“Well done.”

Death’s voice was the same as in his dreamings, Harry noted absently, cocking his head to one side and studying the figure as it reaped the soul of Theon Greyjoy in the same manner as Harry had seen before.

“Can they see you?”  Harry asked what seemed like the pertinent question.

“Oh,” Death’s chuckle was no more than a rasp, like a handful of dried leaves rubbing together in the Fall.  “Not so well as you can, my Warrior-Who-Waits.  But they can hear me speak, nonetheless.  The Wyrd has changed once more, it seems you cannot help yourself.  And once more I have come to see if you would like a reward.”

“I accept no boons from the gods that are not freely given, as you know, old friend.”  Harry replied, watching the reactions of those around him with care.

If they weren’t at least shitting their knickers at the thought of him raining down fire and blood, they were now at the sight of him easily conversing with the visage of Death.

He may never have the respect of some of them due to who he chose to love and have as his lover, but he would have their fear, something Harry was struggling to accept as a consequence of his position in his new life.

Part of him couldn’t help but wonder how soon the first assassination attempt would arrive or the first Septon declaring him hellspawn.

At least the more things change the more they stay the same.

Harry got the sense that Death was once more smiling at him.  It was fucking creepy that he’d spent enough time are the deity for him to even be able to sense that without being able to see whatever is hiding within that shadowed hood.  Beyond eyes that at times burned with wreaths of flames, anyway.

Death should not be amused at his antics as if he was a mostly entertaining incorrigible puppy.

“Very well.”  Death rapped his scythe once against the stone floor, making a ringing sound that was almost visible to the naked eye as Harry sensed waves of power rippling out from the seemingly-simple action.  “That does not mean that a reward has not been tendered, Warrior-Who-Waits, Lord of the Iron Islands.”

And with that, Death faded away as if he’d never been, the bodies of Theon and Balon Greyjoy fading with him, leaving only the pools of blood they had laid in as proof of their existence.

As the gathered’s gazes were no longer locked on the spectre, they began to shuffle and shift, retaking their seats to sounds of outraged cries as they saw just what the deity had meant.  With the single rap of his scythe and a flex of his power, the great hall and the Seastone Chair had been changed.  Where once sat an oily black slab of rock shaped in the visage of a kraken now stood the gleaming black triquetra and sword of Harry’s sigil, the two held up on the paws and claws of facing griffon and dragon rampants standing taller than a man’s head.  The two great beasts reared, their far wings up and spread, the detail so fine that you could count the scales and feathers.  Their near wings were flowing down, forming the seat of the Chair as their planted claws and paws formed the base.

Inscribed down the length of the sword was Harry’s words: Magic, Honor, Sacrifice in High Valryian script.

“What kind of stone is that?”  Robb asked in awe at the blatant show of power.

The Lord of the North had seen many things done through magic, though Harry tried to keep his usage of it to simple, sedate things like heating charms unless he was transporting himself or others from one place to another.

He’d yet to show off his animagus form since joining with the bulk of Jon’s army, not wanting to spook the men and horses, no matter how much some of the Lords had hinted at a proof of his ability that Jon’s Targaryen loyalist knights had spoken of with awed fear and near-reverence.

“Obsidian.”  Euron Crow’s Eye answered even as Harry opened his mouth.  “Also called Dragonglass.  There’s rich deposits of it in volcanic locales such as Dragonstone, old Valyria, and the Shadowlands.”

“That’s right.”  Harry nodded his head, an inscrutable look on his face as he traded between glancing at the reformed Chair and the formerly-exiled Greyjoy.

“A Lordsmoot!”  Aeron’s enraged voice cried out, his eyes burning with suppressed grief.  “I call for a Lordsmoot to select the new Lord of the Iron Islands and of the Seastone Chair, though that creature,” he snarled.  “Has defiled it.”

Little did any of them know, it wasn’t just the Chair.  Everything that had belonged to Balon Greyjoy as Lord or King of the Iron Islands and bore his kraken sigil had changed as Death’s power reached farther and farther beyond the walls of Pyke.  All of them now bore the sword and triquetra of House Potter-Black.  Including the flagship of the Iron Fleet, captained by Victarion Greyjoy, which was renamed the Black Victory in honor of its new Lord and Commander.

“Balon lost the Iron Islands to Lord Harry.”  Robb shouted, angered by the double-dealing on the part of the Drowned Priest.

“The Ironborn believe in paying the Iron Price, brother.”  Euron’s voice interjected in the burgeoning fight between the green-landers and Aeron and his priests.  “If the Chair accepts the man who has fought for it and paid for it in blood, his own and that of our kin.”  The Crow’s Eye stood hip-shot, one shoulder leaning against a stone pillar as he spoke and above all watched the crowded hall.  “Then he is Lord of the Iron Islands by right of paying the iron price.”  He sneered at the gaping priests.  “No matter what you preach Damphair, nor what the other Drowned Men spout.  I have seen a god today: and his name was Death not the Drowned.”

“Godless creature!”  Aeron spat back shaking a cudgel made of driftwood at his older brother.  “Pray that you never have need of the Drowned God for you have spurned him one time too many with your impious words!”

“Enough.”  Harry commanded, backing his words with a silent flex of his power, the first he’d shown of it since stepping foot in Lordsport.  “Let us hear from the gathered Ironborn rather than your family squabbles.  What say you, Ironborn?”  He turned in a circle, holding out his daggers for all to see.  “Have I paid the Iron Price?  Shall we see which will reign supreme, the Iron Price or the Damphair’s prophecy?”

“Let him try it!”  Lord Blacktyde’s voice rang out once more.  “The green-lander has paid the Iron Price, as demanded by the Old Ways.  Let him try.  If he fails and is struck down, then we shall call a lordsmoot.  If it accepts him then we shall claim him as Ironborn: salt and stone and steel and Lord of the Seastone Chair.”

Nodding, Harry slipped his dagger back into their sheathes in his boots, and rose.  Not even pausing long enough to take a steadying breath, Harry glanced once at a stoic Robb before turning and striding down the length of the hall, ascending the steps to the Seastone Chair without faltering.  Taking the new design in once more, he turned on his heel and facing the Great Hall of Pyke lowered himself with regal nonchalance onto the glassy surface of the seat.

A bitter cry rang out through the hall, Aeron and the Drowned men wailing and tearing at their roughspun clothes when it became obvious that whatever gods had prevailed that day, they accepted Harry as the Lord of the Seastone Chair.

“All Hail,” Euron’s voice tore like a lightning bolt through the cacophony.  “Lord Harry Potter-Black, Lord of the Seastone Chair, Lord Reaper of Pyke, and Lord Paramount of the Iron Islands.”

“HAIL THE LORD OF THE SEASTONE CHAIR!

Later, in the private Lord’s solar in the Sea Tower, Harry barely waited for the door to close behind his other companions, leaving him alone with Robb before he shoved the larger Lord of the North against the solid rock wall, pinning him with a hand around his throat and keeping him in place.

They’d spent hours with the Ironborn captains, including Euron Crow’s Eye, planning the sacking of the Westerlands and the Reach.  Harry’s plan had them spreading out the some four-hundred and fifty ships the Iron Islands commanded, leaving a force of fifty behind to guard their native waters while the rest joined the Martell and Targaryen fleets in harrying the Westerlands and the Reach from Faircastle to Oldtown, but taking care to not sack Casterly Rock or Lannisport.  They wanted the Old Lion feeling pissed off and impotent, not enraged enough to follow them west.  The Martells had already held off attacks by the Redwyne Fleet before being supported by Prince Oberyn’s ships and men fresh off a successful siege of Storm’s End, adding the strength of the Iron Islands to the combined forces of the Targaryen-Martell alliance would allow them to control the western seas of Westeros in their entirety as they had the Lannister fleet pinned down and blockaded at Lannisport.

The Ironborn weren’t happy about the new rules set down by the King, preventing them from killing outside of open battle and forbidding them their ancient ways of raping and stealing women from the green-landers and taking the men as thralls and slaves to work their lands.

No, they weren’t happy about it in the least, but at the moment none dared to test their new Lord.

Harry was sure he’d have to execute a captain or a hundred before the message sank into their thick skulls but eventually their fear of reprisal would gain a victory over their ancestral barbary.

The combined Ironborn-Targaryen-Martell fleet would be a thing of wonder and fear, its creation a tale to go down in songs thanks to the pacts forged by Ned Stark and enforced by his nephew Jon.

Eddard Stark had planned well, Harry had to give the man that, creating alliances and fleets and armies all in secret waiting for the day Jon was ready to take the Iron Throne.

A rare man was Eddard Stark, Harry was sad to have never met him.

Though at this very moment he could consign the man to the seven hells and his eldest son and Heir with him.

“What the fuck was that?”  Harry snarled, slamming Robb’s head back against the stones in a show of power when the Northern Lord tried to move.  “What the hells were you thinking with that little show of yours, hmm?  I accepted the challenge and chose the weapons to plant seeds of respect and fear among the Ironborn and those noble arseholes who’ve been giving Jon trouble over me.  Instead they get a show of Jon’s loyal cousin and right-hand looking like sweet-summer-loves, the Lord of the North embracing and gods-be-damned cooing at his cousin’s lover and right-hand!”  Harry was thankful for silencing charms as otherwise he was sure they would hear his rage all the way down at Lordsport.  “Do you have any fucking idea what those twats are going to say from Winterfell to Sunspear once word of what happened today spreads?  Well?”  He demanded, pushing away from Robb at last lest he strangle the life out of him.  “Do you?!”

“I just wanted to help.”  Robb said, his voice raspy from the punishment his throat had taken, one hand moving to rub at the bruised flesh.  “Theon was a dangerous foe, especially when his blood was up like that.  I was trying to help.”

“Help, he says.”  Harry jammed the heels of his hands roughly against his eye sockets, trying to get ahold of his temper before he tore the Sea Tower down around their heads.  “Help.  Help, how?”  He asked, voice scarily calm after his outburst.  “By making me look like a disloyal slattern in front of a dozen southron and Northern knights and over a hundred Ironborn?  How was that in any way helpful Robb?”

“I was worried for you!”  Robb finally lost his grip on his fearsome temper and shouted back.  “Worried that whether win or lose we were all going to be slaughtered by the Ironborn!  Worried that you were tired after a long trip to Pyke followed by a finger-dance against Balon!  Worried that Theon was going to gut you like a trout!  I.  Was.  Worried.”  He bit out from beneath clenched teeth, visibly trying to rein in his impulses.

Harry gave him a mystified look.  “Worried?”  He echoed, narrowing his emerald eyes as he searched for something that was eluding him.  “For me?”

“Yes.”  Robb rolled his eyes exasperated with the man’s inability to believe someone would worry for or about him.  It was a trait Jon had complained of before when the wizard would be off healing or doing whatever it was he did among the armies, leaving the two cousins to plot and plan the westerlands invasion alone.  Or, you know, drink themselves into a stupor.  Striding over to Harry’s side, he cupped the frozen beauty’s cheeks between his two strong hands.  “You oblivious little idiot.”

And leaning down, Robb stole a kiss from his King’s lover for his own, to keep him warm at night when the men he loved were busy warming each other, leaving him alone to a cold southron wife and an even colder marriage bed.

Robb wasn’t sure when his feelings for Harry had gotten so strong, though he was well aware of when he began to change: as he appeared out of nowhere in the Whispering Wood and protected him from the Kingslayer’s deadly sword.

The wizard had left Jon’s side, before casting his magics blindly, all to help a man, to help Robb who had shown him nothing more than icy politeness at best and disdain at worst.

Then, as if that wasn’t shock enough, Harry spent hours healing Grey Wind as well as Robb and his men of the North, working himself unto exhaustion when all he wanted to do was return to Jon’s side.

It was then that the question that had kept him awake in the night was answered: what was it about Harry that had Jon cleaving to him when all others before him had so quickly been cast off.  It was a simple answer.  One so concise and yet profound that Robb was left dazed in the shock of it:

It was everything about Harry that endeared him to Robb’s royal cousin.

Harry simply was Harry, a singular being in a world that couldn’t replicate him no matter how hard it tried.  It was utterly impossible.  As Harry himself had said to the Ironborn: he was the last of his kind.

But somehow Robb believed that even if wizards were a copper a dozen, Harry would still be unique among them all.

Slim, elegant hands rose and wrapped themselves around strong wrists, even as Harry pressed closer, unable to deny himself a taste of what Robb was implicitly offering him.

And gods how badly did Harry want to accept.

He couldn’t.

He couldn’t do that to Jon, but more importantly he couldn’t do it to himself.

Allowing Robb his way, letting him in regardless of how it would affect Jon, that wasn’t who Harry was or had ever been.  Moreover, that wasn’t who he would allow himself to become.

Harry wasn’t stupid.

He knew Death and the other gods were insidiously changing him even as being awake and a part of events in Westeros were changing him from the wizarding hero he used to be into a fearsome creature worthy of the title of Warrior-Who-Waits.

But breaking faith with his lover, that was where Harry, just Harry without all his fancy titles and accolades both earned and unearned, drew the line.

“No, Robb.”  Harry broke the kiss, panting lightly as he fought back his arousal long enough to speak, his hold on the Northern Lord’s wrists all that was grounding him against the unskilled but fervent onslaught.

“We can’t.”  He gasped as Robb, denied access to Harry’s plump lips, attacked his vulnerable neck, showering it with kisses and nips and soothing swipes of his busy tongue.

For a supposed-novice at loving men, Harry reflected, the Lord of the North certainly wasn’t faltering in the field.

Firming his resolve, Harry pushed Robb away by dint of his hands on the much taller – and stronger – Lord’s wrists.

“Robb.”  He stated firmly, staring into riveting blue eyes lit with furious desire.  “We can’t.”

“No one would know.”  Robb whispered, his inner wolf howling to continue, pushing him forward past what he knew was acceptable.  Jon could forgive a kiss or a glance.  He would never forgive either of them if it went further.  “Not even Jon.  I swear it.  I would never…”

“Everyone would know.”  Harry interrupted before Robb could damn himself – damn them both – with his words.  “The moment they saw us together.  Especially Jon.  Ah-ah.”  He released one of Robb’s wrists and pressed his fingers firmly against Robb’s too-tempting mouth before it could spill any more honeyed lies and arguments designed to break down his resolve.  “No, Robb.  We can’t.”  A calculating look came into his eyes as an idea that he’d been musing over since seeing the two cousins together returned to the forefront of his mind.  “At least…”  He drawled, eyes flashing as a plan came together.  “We can’t yet.”

“Yet?”  Robb turned his face away from Harry’s silencing hand after placing a sensual kiss to his fingers.

“One day.”  Harry nodded, taking a step back from the talking-breathing-temptation that was Robb Stark.  “Can you wait one more day?  Our company leave tomorrow to return to Riverrun.  If I take you, Prince Lewen, and myself back through magical means we can beat the men – and the gossip – by a fortnight at least.  Tomorrow night, once I’m alone with Jon in his chambers, I’ll leave the door cracked for you to join us and we can discuss together,” he stressed.  “With Jon what has happened.  As well as the possibility of it happening again as well as more.”

“More?”  Robb asked weakly, his pupils desire-blown at the implication ripe within that single word.

He was going to have to wank himself raw to get to sleep tonight, he knew it after everything that danced through his mind at Harry’s suggestive phrasing.

Harry arched a knowing brow.  “Unless you’ve somehow fallen out of love with your cousin in the last turn, yes.”  He said sardonically.  “More.  But…”  He trailed off teasingly.  “We may have to persuade the King to see things our way…”

Renly Baratheon, known as the King in Highgarden or the King in the South despite his claim to the Seven Kingdoms, sat in council with his good-father and other Lords and knights of renown of the Reach and some of the Storm Lands.

His wife Queen Margery of Highgarden sat at his right hand while her brother (and Renly’s lover) Ser Loras Tyrell stood behind him as his Lord Commander of Renly’s Rainbow Guard.  Renly’s good-father Lord Mace Tyrell was seated at Renly’s left with Mace’s own mother the indomitable ‘Queen of Thorns’ herself Olenna Redwyne in place beside her granddaughter.  They were arrayed as such to present a united front before the bickering lords and knights – even when the truth was far from a unified whole, mainly stemming from Margery’s as-yet-still-virginal state and Loras’s heartsore fury over being excluded as a choice of Consort by none other than his own parents.

Lord Mace Tyrell had been resolute in making his precious flower Margery a Queen, fulfilling her grasping desires, and took no note of that of his third son’s despite Loras being as good of a match for Renly as Margery was.

The problem at hand: Renly’s brother Stannis and the taking of Storm’s End and with it much of the support of the Storm Lords and more importantly their armies reverting to Stannis and with him to the Targaryen claimant to the Iron Throne, the product of a Stark-Targaryen union that many lords of note had tried to prevent through guile, manipulations, and out-right rebellion and murder.

No southron Lord had wanted those two lines to ever join, perhaps save the Martells who tended to stay as much out of the backdoor-dealings of the Seven Kingdoms as possible, preferring entertaining their lovers over social-climbing.

The Direwolves of the North and the Dragons of Old Valyria had been two bloodlines too rich in power for the status-quo to be maintained.  It couldn’t be allowed or so spoke the Hightowers.  Hoster Tully had gladly joined the game when it appeared he was due to lose advancing his House through his daughters to first Mad Aerys’s spite and then to a daughter of Starfall.

But no matter their machinations, in the end, they’d been too late.

A Direwolf had wedded and bedded a Dragon, giving root to a son and Heir to the Iron Throne that was tying a noose around the Lions, hoping to hang old Tywin with it.

Renly had been content to let this “Jon Targaryen, first of his name” have at it – and the Lannisters, slowly building his strength and biding his time until the opportune moment to sweep in and take the Iron Throne when the other contenders were weak.

His plan had crumbled before him like so much ash in the wind after Stannis – cold, stern Stannis – had sworn for the Young Dragon and with help from Dorne led a successful siege against Storm’s End, taking the bulk of Renly’s Storm Lands army with it, the Storm Lords rushing in droves to the new southron stronghold of the Targaryen cause, some openly leaving under one pretext or another, others sneaking away in the dead of night.

Something had to be done, however what, exactly, was the crux of the matter and the issue that was turning the Reach Lords and few remaining Storm Lords onto each other’s necks like ravening jackals.

“I say that Stannis is a danger to you, leave him unblooded and he will only grow stronger, while your own power is diminished by battle.  The Lannisters will not be beaten in a day, as the Young Dragon has proven.  By the time you are done with them, Lord Stannis may be as strong as you ... or stronger with his support of the Targaryen King.”  Lord Randyll Tarly swore, thumping his fist against the table in emphasis.  “Lord Stannis is one of the most capable commanders in the Seven Kingdoms.  If we do not turn and face him, regaining the strength of the Storm Lands, then by the time the Young Dragon is done in the Westerlands there will be no way to defeat the combined might of the two armies, even with the anticipated losses the Dragon will take in the West.”

“Your words have truth Lord Tarly.”  Lord Mace acknowledged, respecting the man as one of the finest generals he had sworn to him.  “But with the Lion’s eyes firmly fixed on the Northern advance and the Young Dragon having his favorite child hostage, there may never be a better time to move to take King’s Landing.  With the Rose Road secured by our men, we could withstand a siege from within the safety of the Red Keep for years, all throughout the coming Winter and into the next Spring if need be.”

“How many men have we lost to my brother and the Dragon?”  Renly asked as he lounged indolently in his throne carved with the sweeping flowers and trees motifs of the Reach.  “How many have turned their cloaks in favor of my cousin?”

Renly had no issue noting the relation, unlike Robert.

He would let that particular hypocrisy die alongside his whoremonger brother’s legacy of bastards and debt.

“Ten thousand have left the encampment.”  Ser Garlan Tyrell, known as Garlan the Gallant, one of the best knights the Reach could boast despite his lack of glory-seeking like his younger brother Loras, reported.  “And another twenty thousand reserves that were garrisoned in the Storm Lands.”

“Thirty thousand total,” Renly mused, tapping one finger idly against the wooden arm of his throne.  “Leaving us with ninety thousand men encamped without the ability to replenish with men from the Storm Lands.”

“It is only a matter of time before the Young Dragon brings the Ironborn to heel.”  Lady Olenna cautioned.  “Once that is done he will once again give them leave to raid our western border via the Sunset Sea, or I’m a maid anew.  The Redwyne Fleet has already been pressed to the limit with the demmned opportuning Dornish and it will only get worse with the Red Viper and the Crow’s Eye both at the helms, beyond the sea-faring might of the Velaryons, the Celtigars, and the Manderlys.”

“Pardon milady.”  Randyll Tarly sneered.  “But war is for men, and the birthing chamber for women.  That is the way the gods made us.  Your words have no place at a council of war.”

“Lord Randyll…”  Mace said warningly only to be waved off by his exasperated mother.

She had said her piece.  If these pompous fools, her son chief among them, refused to listen it was no concern of hers.  The Lady Olenna would pick up the pieces and advance her family, once the Fat Flower led them all astray, as she’d always done.

“We’ll move to take King’s Landing.”  Renly decided.  “I have no desire to be labeled kinslayer, and at least in that city there is no chance of that.”  He noted wryly.  “Once I’ve taken the Throne, Stannis will bend the knee, just as he has to a bit of dragon-blood and the promise of Storm’s End.”

“On your head be it.”  Lord Randyll muttered ominously.

“You heard your King.”  Lord Mace stood and began barking orders now that a decision had been reached.  “Break camp!  We march on King’s Landing and will foist that monstrous bastard son-of-a-bitch’s arse off of the Iron Throne!”

Jon pressed Harry up against the barely-closed door of their joint quarters, Harry’s own room having been unused save for brewing and healing over the six weeks they’d been stationed at Riverrun waiting for wounds to heal and the reinforcements from the North and the Vale to arrive as ordered.

Which they had done so, the Vale men supporting the River Lords in holding back Tywin Lannister and set to guard the Northern-Targaryen landed army as they moved into the Westerlands and the Reach, most arriving after Harry’s departure for the Iron Islands.

With Harry’s overwhelming – albeit a bit frightening – success in becoming the Lord of the Iron Islands, conquering the Ironborn and Pyke both, everything was set for them to move forward with the campaign.

Even if Jon could tell there was something the three of them, Harry, Robb, and the Kingsguard Prince Lewen were holding back from their report.

An omission that has to do with Harry and Robb if Jon is any judge of his cousin’s expressions and body language.

But that wasn’t what the young king wanted to be thinking about now.

Not now with Harry’s luscious lithe body pressed up against his own so tightly that not even a piece of parchment could fit between them and Harry’s wicked tongue doing things to his own that made Jon’s eyes cross in lust.

Harry moved forward aggressively, one hand tugging sharply on Jon’s shoulder-length hair, the other lingering for a moment on the door, opening it just a crack without severing the silencing ward he’d placed on the rooms their second day at Riverrun after a morning of blushes thanks to the teasing of Prince Lewen and the rest of the Kingsguard.

This wasn’t exactly the scenario he’d had in mind but…Harry shrugged mentally.

A man had to do what a man had to do, and with Jon’s hands tugging impatiently at his clothes, searching and grasping and tracing the new pinkish scar he’d acquired from one of Theon’s luckier strikes, Harry most definitely had to do Jon.

Or at least set the stage, there was no telling when Robb would make his much-anticipated (by Harry) appearance after all.

And there was nothing wrong with softening up his quarry.

With some quick footwork and a shove, Harry had the now-shirtless and passion-flushed King of Westeros flat on his back on the wide bed, his legs dangling over the edge and his arms sprawled out like some pagan offering to a lustful god.

Bacchus or Pan, maybe.  Harry eyed the arousal straining at Jon’s leather leggings.  Perhaps Priapus was a better match.

Though his Jon was much better looking than that particular god had been reputed to be, Jon’s mixture of Stark and Targaryen creating a being of great masculine beauty and sensuality, whose warrior nature had sculpted a body indeed fit for the gods.

Starting with Jon’s sultry mouth, Harry pressed him with kisses, sending his lover’s arousal spiraling upwards as he moved ever-so-slowly towards his still-constrained arousal, lavishing extra time and attention on the sweet reddish-pink nubs hidden among Jon’s black curls, following the trail of hair ever downwards towards his treasure and reward.  A darting teasing tongue danced whorls around cobblestone abs and bellybutton, while clever fingers unlaced the drawstrings on Jon’s leather trousers as the King’s sword-callused hands grasped in pleasured agony at the bedfurs.  Harry mouthed him through the leather before moving back and kneeling at Jon’s feet, rapidly shucking the boots and woolen socks from shapely feet and toes.

Hands trailed teasingly up wide-spread legs as their tormented prey groaned low in his throat at his cruel lover’s play.

Harry was going to be the death of him, he knew it.

But oh, what a way to go.

It would be a death for the ages, much better than passing peacefully alone in his bed having acquired a great age.

Unless Harry was right there with him, still driving him mad until the night he passed.

The wizard had just reached his prize with his skilled hands when a gasp sounded from the archway leading to the antechamber, Harry turning his head idly but not stopping in his ministrations to the royal cock as Jon rose to his elbows and fixed the intruder with a maddened stare.

“Someone better be dying.”  He barked out at his cousin before falling back onto the bed with a groan as a sudden flick of Harry’s tongue to the weeping head of his cock stole the strength from his limbs.  “Void that, someone better be dead.”

Harry lifted his hands and began inching Jon’s trousers down, inch by excruciating inch as Jon watched with confusion slowly giving way to realization in his dark purple desire-drenched eyes.  He turned his head from watching his lover to staring at Robb, his Robb, as he blushed vividly and began to haltingly, with trembling hands, to strip off his cloak, followed by the rest of his heavy Northern-style garb.

“I don’t think.”  Harry said with a knowing quirk of his mouth and a teasing light in his gaze.  “That Lord Stark is here with bad news…per se.”  With a final tug on the leggings in his hands Harry finished stripping his king bare before his cousin and Lord Paramount of the North, Robb’s burning blue eyes taking in the sight before him like a starving man being sat at a king’s feast.

“I knew something happened while you were gone.”  Jon gasped out through his arousal at the sight of his tall, strong auburn-haired Robb with his equally long, thick cock nestled in a halo of reddish-brown curls, coming to surround the much smaller form of his lover, Harry being much too busy with his mouth on Jon’s cock, stealing the very breath from him with his wicked mouth and taunting tongue, to react with more than a lusty look up from emerald eyes as a new set of hands ghosted down the wizard’s scarred back, stripping the pants from him with a rend and a tear in an absent show of strength.

Gods, Jon thought while he was still capable, taking in the sight of Robb stroking and nipping and kissing Jon’s lover while Harry serviced him with abandon.  It was a sight to make a Septon forsake his vows.

Harry set a demanding pace with his hands and mouth as Robb set to exploring every bit of both Harry and Jon that he could reach without removing his pulsing cock from where it was snugged tight between Harry’s tight, downy cheeks.

Jon swiftly found himself crying out in warning to his lover the weeks apart taking their toll, Harry responding by grasping him firmly and increasing the suction with his lips, hollowing his cheeks on every upstroke of his tongue and wet, lewd mouth.

The king filled the hungry cavern with laden spurts of dragon-seed, the offering lying heavy on Harry’s tongue before the wizard pulled off the barely-softened erection with a loud slurp, swallowing his lover’s climax with a randy and lascivious grin and heated eyes.

“What?”  Jon gasped coming down from his high and rising back up onto his elbows to stare at the vision of his lover being embraced and caressed by Robb, a single telling pearly droplet clinging lewdly to one corner of that lush and wicked mouth.  “Exactly happened at Pyke?”

Harry tilted his head in invitation to the Northern lord currently making himself at home with his bared body before pulling free of his arms, randy tongue darting out to collect that tantalizing droplet that had escaped from his hungry partaking of his lover’s salty present, as he settled himself into the bedfurs at Jon’s side, Robb climbing onto the bed cautiously to join them now that the objects of his desire weren’t otherwise occupied and therefor able to strike out at him either in word or deed.

“Robb’s vaunted Stark stoicism collapsed in pieces for the whole world to see is what happened.”  Harry complained good-naturedly with a roll of his eyes.  “There I was thinking he barely tolerated me after I saved Grey Wind and he went and just about made a declaration on bended knee in the middle of Pyke’s Great Hall!”

“It wasn’t that bad.”  Robb defended himself, blood rising at the reminder of the peril they’d found themselves in.  “I was trying to help while little-mister-shit-starter over there had the Ironborn up in arms and baying for green-lander blood.”

“Not all of them.”  Harry reassured an alarmed looking Jon who was watching them trade verbal barbs with ever-widening eyes.  “Only, like, ninety percent.”  He estimated.  “And only there at the beginning.  By the time I axed Balon in the chest I’d brought it down to half, easy.”

“Oh, that’s so much better.”  Robb scoffed, running a hand through his hair in aggravation.  “Only half of the most vicious and bloodthirsty raider captains in the seas were out for our blood.  I feel so much better now.”

Jon held up a hand, his arousal diminishing as a headache threatened just from listening to the two argue.

“Clearly this time.”  He commanded.  “And just Harry.”  He pinned Robb with a look when the redhead made to open his mouth.  “What happened?”

“Robb embraced,” Harry gave a too-adorable wrinkle of his nose much to his audience-of-two’s amusement.  “The known lover of the Targaryen King before a mixed company of Northmen, Ironborn, and southron nobles.”  He said dryly.  “Including grasping my waist and whispering in my ear.”

Jon groaned, falling back onto the bed and throwing an arm over his eyes to block out the light.  That was going to be murder to manage.  The rumors were going to be nothing less than vicious and the pressure to take a Queen increased ten-fold.  “And the rest of it?”  He knew there had to be more to lead to where they were now.  A hug or simple embrace would not have led to Harry inviting Robb into their bed.

And Jon knew full-well that Harry had done so.

He knew his cousin too well to believe that Robb wouldn’t ever have considered such a bold move in the slightest without Harry having done something.  And it was the something that worried him.  As hot as he’d found the vision of the two of them together, Jon didn’t want to spend the rest of his life worried about losing Harry to Robb someday because they’d gotten a taste of each other and wanted more.

“Harry nearly throttled me.”  Robb waved one hand towards the still-forming bruises around the front of his throat.  “And about yelled me deaf.  Until…”

He cleared his throat after trailing off, finding himself unable to finish the sentence.

“Until?”  Jon prompted with an arched brow, lifting his arm to stare at the shame-faced picture his naked Northern Lord was making in his bed.

“He got fed up and yelled back.”  Harry shrugged.  Better to tell him plain than let his curiosity fester into something rotten and nasty.  “Then kissed the breath out of me.”

Excuse me?”  The King drawled in a venomous purr, eyes glinting with his rising temper.  That he would dare

“Harry stopped me.”  Robb hurried to say, scooting back against the headboard and away from the glint in Jon’s eyes.  He knew that look.  It promised pain to whoever was bestowed with it.  “Said that it couldn’t go any further without coming to you.  He suggested…”

Jon closed his eyes barely holding in a groan before turning to look at his lover who was sitting among the furs looking like the cat that had gotten into a whole castle’s worth of cream.  That little minx…  Jon thought amazed.  He had no idea how but Harry always seemed to come up with a solution to every problem they were presented with – even solutions to problems that hadn’t even been presented before the King yet.

He was definitely going to make him his Hand after this little fiasco.

“Robb’s been naughty.”  Harry all-but-chirped.  “Can we punish him?”

Robb gulped at being the focus of two such predatory smirks, then Jon whipped out a hand and snagged his lover by the arm, pulling him forcefully across his lap and giving him a sharp smack to his luscious ass, the spank leaving a pinkish mark to the golden-cream skin.

“One.”  Jon barked out, turning to enlighten Robb in-between counting out the numbers of his spanks to Harry’s ever-reddening bottom.  “Harry, here, has been pressing me.  Two.  He’s of the opinion that the Lords won’t accept him as my one and only Consort.  Three.  To that end, he has suggested taking another into our bed.  Four.  And our eventual bonding.  Five.

“He’s right.”  Robb admitted, eyes blown wide with lust as he watched Jon discipline his – their? – lover.  “The rumors have grown rampant, especially the closer to leaving on campaign we get without you at least taking a betrothed.”

Six, seven, eight.”  Jon nodded, ignoring the whimpering bundle on his lap for the moment as Harry ground his throbbing cock against Jon’s hip, searching for a completion spurred on by the sensual punishment.  “He’s mentioned you several times, cousin.  Nine.  He seems to be under the impression that you hold a tendré for me.  Ten.”  He laid down the final smack to both of the heated pink cheeks in sharp unison.  “Now, you minx.”  Jon flipped him over, revealing Harry’s weeping elegant cock to his and Robb’s hot eyes.  “Are you sorry for manipulating my Lord of the North and Cousin, Lord Robb?”

Robb was confused for a moment pointing out: “But I kissed him.”

“He let you.”  Jon dismissed the argument with a wave.  “No matter how shocked he acted or indeed he was, if Harry didn’t want your kiss you wouldn’t have gotten within touching range of him, no matter how hot either of your tempers had flared.  No.”  He stroked one taunting finger up the pulsing length of Harry’s cock as he prevented the wizard from finding completion on his own terms, arms anchored to the bed with one of Jon’s large hands, Harry’s lithe frame a very cock-hardening vision of sensual submission to the predatory gazes of the harsh Westerosi men.  “He knew what he was playing at when he let you have a taste.   After all,” Jon finished softly, enclosing Harry’s cock in one callused hand.  “What red-blooded creature could resist all of this.”

Jon stroked him once from root to tip, which was all Harry needed having been pushed to the brink by sucking his lover’s cock while Robb petted and stroked him in turn, his iron-hard erection coasting along in the pre-slicked channel separating his buttocks but never fully penetrating him, only to find himself over Jon’s lap for the most torturous of punishments.

Sorry.”  Harry keened as he spurted all over his stomach and his lover’s hand, panting as he came back down, eyes fluttering open to the sight of Robb tasting his seed by licking it up in hungry laps of his hot tongue from the back of Jon’s hand.  “Fuck me.”  He breathed, eyes lust-blown.  “That’s the sexiest fucking thing I think I’ve ever seen.”

So worth the punishments Jon would be dealing out for weeks if he knew his lover, Harry decided right then and there if seeing sights like that was his reward for his scheming.

And he would ensure they would be.

The three of them fell into a tangle amidst the furs, all learning hands, seeking mouths, and thrusting cocks as the issue of Consorts was shelved until their lusts had been sated.

An effort which took hours upon hours before the triad at last succumbed to sleep, utterly spent from their activities.

 

Chapter Text

The Tomb of the First Men

Edited December 2016 for minor errors and content.  Original word count: 34,137; edited: 34,352.

Act IV: The Return of House Blackfyre

A hand wearing a white mail glove ripped open the curtain cushioning the wide wooden bedstead in a warm cocoon of comfortable darkness, dark eyes popping wide with shock before the most mischievous member of the Kingsguard called softly over his shoulder to his Lord Commander:

“You’re going to need another place setting, Arthur.”  Prince Lewen said with a knowing chuckle.  “Our little dragonet seems to have collected another pretty for his horde.”

“’m not a dragonet.”  Jon popped open a glaring eye, cross at having his vague half-waking plans that included the extra body in his bed interrupted by his loyal guardsmen.

“’n’ we’re not a horde.”  Harry complained grumpily rolling over onto his stomach and nuzzling into Robb’s arms for several long moments before rising with a grumble.

Weren’t the Kingsguard supposed to solely obey the King?  Then why in the name of all the gods were they waking him so gods-be-damned early?  Jon ended up voicing this last complaint as he shrugged into the silken velvet robe held out to him by a still-chuckling Lewen.

His Kingsguard had been more like a cadre of older brothers/uncles/foster-fathers rather than a brotherhood sworn to his protection, and when they were mostly alone in chambers it showed in their actions and behavior together.

Prince Lewen was the mischievous one, who always encouraged his “dragonet” to ask questions and rebel against the strictures placed upon him.

Ser Mark Ryswell had been a loyal companion to his uncle Eddard before joining the Kingsguard and being sworn into his service by Ned and Ser Arthur Dayne, taking a firm and guiding hand with Jon but still often finding himself searching for frogs and sparring with him as a young child, very much slotting into a fatherly-older-brother role.

Ser Oswell Whent was known for his dark humor and serious, quiet nature, and ended up being the one Jon turned to when he had hard questions about the way the Targaryens ruled and the methods of the separate Kingdoms and regions of Westeros from before Aegon the Conqueror.  Ser Oswell never shied away from hard facts and harder truths, pounding the realities of life into him, never allowing him to slip into an idealized version of reality.

And then there was his late father’s best and oldest friend, who slipped into the role left vacant by Rhaegar’s death and Benjen’s involuntary absence, the new Lord Commander of the Targaryen Kingsguard, Ser Arthur Dayne.

Together the four of them were his most constant teachers and companions, instructing him in everything from swordplay and court manners to the facts of life when he got his first cock-stand.

That they found him with an extra body in his bed wasn’t a matter for teasing as it was for settling of bets, Ser Arthur and Prince Lewen making out like bandits against their two brothers who had said that with Jon’s taking up with Harry that he’d never get around to acting on his feelings for Robb Stark.

A bet that had to be settled as lost considering the vividly-blushing Lord of the North currently climbing from the bed and accepting a robe from a sympathetic-looking Lord Harry.

“I know.”  Harry slapped at a still-chuckling Prince Lewen as he passed the guard on the way to the table in the antechamber.  “It takes a while to get used to: the lack of privacy that comes with being with Jon.  But you will,” he handed over a steaming mug of spiced apple cider, the rich scent telling the wizard that Ser Arthur had delved into Harry’s own spice storage in his ‘room’ to make the hearty beverage.  “And in time even come to appreciate the little things that come with having a king for a lover.  For example:” he held up his own mug.  “The service is excellent.”

Ser Arthur ignored the byplay between Robb and Harry, turning instead to the still-glaring King.

“It is nearly midday, your Grace.”  He said dryly.  “We held off the Lords as long as we could knowing you and your Iron Lord,” and wasn’t that a kick in the arse?  “Would need time to get reacquainted after your parting.  But if you dally much longer in your rooms they’re going to start to wonder if you died on the upstroke and if all their schemes and plans have been for naught.”

“They got acquainted with something last night.”  Lewen muttered under his breath to Ser Oswell, earning him a slap to the back of his head for his efforts from the Lord Commander.

“That’s enough Lewen,” Oswell rumbled in his deep basso voice.  “You’ve made the Lord of the North blush enough for one rising.”

“What has the Lords in a tizzy this time?”  Harry asked in exasperation as he looked up from his plate of roasted meats and fresh fruit.  One thing he loved about being in the south was the abundance of fruit, a fact of life Jon enjoyed as well after spending most of his life in and around Winterfell save for the bi-yearly trips to meet with supporters of his claim.

Between the two of them there was always fresh, sweet fruit around unless they were riding hard in the saddle and didn’t have time to resupply.

Harry was excited to return to the Reach for the campaign for the fresh produce if nothing else.

“Choosing a spouse, of course.”  Ser Arthur moved to sit in the seat left open for him at the table, folding his armored arms across his chest and arching a dark brow.  “What else have they been bickering about since the campaign plans were decided.  Each has a daughter or a niece or some other female relation that would be perfect as the new Queen of Westeros.”

“They’ve even tried bribing us to allow a lass or two into your bed.”  Ser Mark tossed in from where he was tending the fire before rising and taking up his post opposite Ser Oswell beside the door, Lewen moving out to guard the hall with a grumble under his breath.  “Got quite inventive trying to get around us once they saw we weren’t going to bite at the offerings.”

Jon scowled down into his mug grunting: “Spouse, spouse, spouse.”  He slugged back the rest of the cider before holding out his mug for a refill from Ser Arthur, who he thanked with a nearly-genial nod despite his black mood.  “Do they think of nothing else but killing and who I’m bedding?”

“Not really.”  Robb spoke up without lifting his head from his trencher of tender pork and roasted Riverlands fowl.  “The matter of the succession is on everyone’s minds after the Targaryen dynasty was pared down to two members of the name.”  He gestured vaguely with a wave of his hand, looking up and seeing the surprised looks shot his way by the others.  “I’m considered your closest companion after Harry here,” he pointed.  “And the Kingsguard.  They’ve been trying to get me to present their choices for possible Queen ever since you made your claim to the throne – earlier,” he added.  “If they were one of the few who knew beforehand.  They used to do the same with Father, your allies.”

“How have I never known all this?”  Jon sat back, brow puckered.  “Did I never notice?”

“They’re usually more subtle than recently, I’m sure.”  Harry arched a sardonic brow and cast a look at Ser Arthur and Robb.  “Am I right?”  He asked them, continuing after getting a pair of nods in return.  “It’s me.”  He said once again bringing up the ongoing argument between himself and his lover.  “They’re scared to death you’re going to pick me as your sole consort.”  He leveled a serious look at Jon.  “As I’ve been saying for several turns: they don’t want a sorcerer as Consort to the King.”

“It’s not that lad.”  Ser Arthur corrected with a small shake of his head.  “Oh, it’s part of it, don’t mistake me.”  He added at getting a glare from the smaller man.  “But mostly it’s that you’re uncontrollable.  You have no secrets they could use against you; no power they could bring to bear that would keep your power in check.  Together the two of you make a couple that would be so far beyond the reach of the nobles to keep you in check that they’re tossing every flowered maid – and some who are neither of those things – at your head hoping that you’ll pick anyone but a warrior from legend.”

“Because, no matter what Harry thinks.”  Robb added.  “There’s no way for them to seriously object to him as Consort, not now that he’s become the Lord of the Iron Islands.  That was the only real argument against him they had: he didn’t bring anything but himself to the match.  Now that the Ironborn have accepted him as their Lord.”  He shrugged, going back to breaking his fast having said his piece.

“Jon?”  Harry prompted after a long silence filled only with Ser Arthur sending Ser Mark out to join Prince Lewen as the Lord Commander took up the post beside the door, giving them an illusion of privacy to continue the conversation without his input.

Arthur had given his king, as good as his own son, what advice and information he could about this subject over the last weeks while Harry was gone but had refused, as he still did, to try and sway him, no matter how much pressure there was to do so from the noble lords of Westeros.

They’d raised a good, strong man: the Kingsguard and his relations had.  Now it was time to let him get on with being a man.  And part of that was making up his own mind about his affairs.

“When you joined us last night, Robb.”  Jon spoke at last.  “What was in your mind?”

The Northern Lord shifted, feeling every claiming mark and scratch Jon and Harry had left on him – and smirking internally at the reminder of a few he’d left on them.  What was it he was after?  Why did he let himself be talked into joining them by Harry?  He knew he loved them – in very different ways and with different origins but he loved them nonetheless.

And just as clearly as his own emotions, he knew that they loved each other, though from his understanding neither often admits to such.

“I wanted to try.”  He admitted at last, staring between the two men watching him with gazes as different as their personalities.  Harry’s was all soft consideration and encouragement while Jon’s was assessing, nearly appraising him, but with an almost-concealed warmth.  “I wanted to see if there was a place for me with you – both of you” he made himself clear, knowing if he fumbled it he was like to never get another chance.  “Or if it was a fool’s notion and best put aside for good and all.”

“And your conclusion?”  Jon asked, eyes warming as he found what he was looking for in Robb’s answer.

He’d thought that Harry had been wrong all this time, that the only reason Robb came to them was out of desire for Harry not the both of them.  That Robb was willing to share if it was the only way he could have a taste of Jon’s lover.  Harry was never going to let him hear the end of this if he ever found out Jon was still doubting him when it came to his observational abilities.

Harry had been dead certain that Robb harbored a real passion for Jon, more than a silly boy’s crush on a handsome lad or the childhood infatuation Jon had dismissed it as.  And dismissed Robb with it.  He’d been right – there was far more to it – far more to Robb than a fleeting or childish notion of love.

Robb had been willing to risk the worst sort of heartache in order to reach for what he desired.

There was nothing fleeting or ephemeral about that.

“There is a place for me here,” Robb straightened his back, holding his head high.  “Both in your bed and at your table.  If you’ll have me.”

Harry swallowed a laugh at his phrasing commenting: “Oh, I think having will be the least of it, Robb Stark.”  His voice was as dry as the Red Mountains of Dorne.  “In fact, I do hope you be doing some having of your own…”

“Harry.”  Jon chided him, even as Robb broke into relieved laughter when the rejection he’d still been half-expecting failed to come.

He’d said it best himself after all: there was a place for him with them.

He’d just had to step up and take it, and them, for his own.

As if he knew what Robb was thinking, and maybe he did, Harry gave him a beaming smile and reached over under the table, enfolding Robb’s larger, sword-callused hand in his own and tangling their fingers together before reaching over and repeating the gesture with Jon.

They all knew that they would have to face a measure of censure for their choice, especially from the most devout among the Faith of the Seven as among them only Robb gave nominal reverence to the Faith, Jon being quiet but firm in his following of the old gods and Harry being outspoken in his reverence to no god, not even Death.  The Faith of the Seven and the High Septon would have pushed for Jon to marry a noble female from a family like the Hightowers or the Tyrells who were open in their support of the Andal Faith.  That Jon was marrying outside of the Faith – mostly – and two men besides wasn’t going to sit easy with them and their most devout.

But as far as they three were concerned, it was just another trial to face and overcome in the same manner that they had dealt with the Siege of Riverrun: decisively and together.

Later that day they were in council for the first time since Harry and Robb had left several weeks before to reach the Iron Islands.  The Lords, knights, and Maesters weren’t best pleased that Harry had used his magic to whisk himself, Prince Lewen, and Lord Robb from Pyke to Riverrun in a matter of moments while leaving the rest of the party to travel by ship and horse, but they were wise enough to hold their tongues after mere moments of observing the new dynamic between the triad.  Where before it was not hard to tell that there was a growing distance between the Lord of the North and his Cousin the King, as well as a sense of unease between Lord Stark and the new Lord Reaper of Pyke, now they were presenting a united, solid front, as if the ever-increasing rift had not only been mended over, but that it had never existed in the first place.

It wasn’t hard to figure out how this change had come about either, the maids being all atwitter over the pristine bedfurs in the Lord of the North’s rooms and the trio arriving in the great hall together with the Kingsguard surrounding them as always.

Honestly, a number of the Lords would kill to know what had happened between Lords Stark and Potter-Black leaving Riverrun and what had precipitated their arrival so far in advance of their party.

A few others would kill as well over the development, but it was more out of a desire to be a fly on the wall of the King’s chambers the night before than it was a thirst for information.

As things stood, they kept silent on their thoughts regarding the change – for good or ill – focusing instead on the last-minute business at hand before the King and his army were due to march for Golden Tooth and beginning the conquest of the Westerlands.

“Ravens arrive by the day from King’s Landing.”  Ser Bryndan reported, leaning forward to speak with his hands clasped before him on the long table they used for these meetings regarding matters of State.  “From Grand Maester Pycelle, Tyrion Lannister who is acting as Hand-of-the-King for his bastard nephew, even Petyr Baelish and Varys.  They all are inquiring about ransom or prisoner exchange – mostly for the Kingslayer’s golden head.”

“I thought Petyr was in disgrace following the evidence presented that marked Lysa’s son Robyn as his get and a bastard rather than the rightful Lord of the Vale?”  Harry asked, brow furrowed.  “That’s changed in the last turn?”

“His usefulness outshone his ability to scheme – for the moment.”  Jon answered dryly.  “And in light of the colossal debt left after the ruin of Baratheon’s reign it was no surprise that Cersei demanded him back when the royal court was threatened with economies by her brother the Hand.  But,” he shrugged, smirking.  “It served its purpose: Lysa and Robyn are under house-arrest by the Eyrie’s steward and those men not needed to keep the borders and the High Road safe both from the Lannisters and the mountain tribes have marched to join their rightful Lord.”

“His Grace Jon Targaryen.”  Harry finished the thought, concealing an eye roll.  “Of course they have.  How many men?”

“Fifteen thousand arrived at Riverrun last week, Lord Harry.”  Lord Mallister reported, one of the few River Lords who wasn’t bothered by whatever the King chose to do in his bedroom.  “Another, equal, number have blockaded the High Road to the East and the Kingsroad from fifty miles North of Harrenhal.  Together the Vale Lords and the River Lords will be responsible for holding the Lannisters back from advancing North or East while the army marches West.”

“An envoy to King’s Landing is needed.”  Robb commented, scowling at the thought of entertaining those bastards while they kept Sansa captive and Arya was still missing.

“But who to send, young wolf?”  The Greatjon asked in his penetrating boom of a voice.  “We can’t risk a hostage – you never know what information they’ve gleaned and might let slip.  And any man of ours we send we risk losing altogether either as a hostage in turn or to Ilyn Payne’s bloody sword.”

“How long is the march to the Golden Tooth?”  Harry posed the question, idly twirling a dagger in one hand as he lounged against the chair at Jon’s side, face showing he was deep in thought.

“Over five hundred leagues from Riverrun.”  Ser Byndan estimated.  “Depending on what path you take.  The best one for a force march is around five hundred and forty leagues from gate to gate.”

“That’ll take an army what?”  Harry speculated.  “A fortnight, maybe more, to march and prepare an offensive once they arrive?”

“About that.”  Jon confirmed.  “What’s in that tricky mind of yours?”

“Any envoy we sent presents an unacceptable level of risk, that’s true.”  Harry nodded, meeting his two lovers’ concerned gazes.  They knew when his voice got that tone that it meant trouble – in one way or another.  “All but one.”

Robb groaned and Jon slowly closed his eyes, the King not risking any greater expression of worry such as his other lover was able to show, as they at once understood his meaning.

“You want to go to King’s Landing and treat with the Lannisters.”  Jon clarified for those who didn’t know how Harry’s tricky mind worked.  “Alone.  Without guard or support.”

“I’m not exactly defenseless.”  Harry stated flatly, pausing in his dagger-twirling for emphasis.  “As the krakens found out for themselves.  Besides which, I can make it there in a matter of moments and send word back just as quick before leaving to see to a few other errands that have thus far been postponed.”

The last was directed solely at Jon, the King knowing full-well Harry spoke of trying to track the two remaining possible claimants to the Throne.  It had been put off since Harry went to treat with Stannis at Dragonstone, several turns by now.  If either of them had already set their sights on the Iron Throne and were gathering support it would be much harder to turn their eyes away from it and onto other prizes.

Harry was determined to try nonetheless.

The blood of the dragon was too weak in the present day for them to be fighting amongst each other, you would have thought the Dance of Dragons had taught them that.

“I can leave the same day as the army.”  Harry continued.  “And return to your side before the battle – the same as I did for the ride from Winterfell.  You know this is needed, your Grace.”

“What of the Ironborn?”  Lady Mormont prodded.  “With you out of sight, don’t we run a risk of them kicking the traces and turning on us?”

The others present all muttered amongst themselves at this reminder of the unsteady state of things with the naval power of the Seastone Chair.

“I expect them to try and test me.”  Harry slipped his dagger away in preference of placing his hands flat on the table and rising to his feet, addressing all of them, skeptical and otherwise.  “That’s their way.  But I have my ways.”  He smirked as more than a few shifted anxiously at the reminder that he held more power in his little finger than most had in their entire garrisons.  “And I have set monitors on the captains that were present at Pyke that will allow me to nip any little rebellion in the blood.  Victarion and Aeron Greyjoy are going to be the biggest challenges with managing the Ironborn.”  His look was nothing short of malicious.  “But I’m more than capable of handling a few more squids.”

Before the council could continue – though at this point they’d covered the most pressing matter of an envoy – a cloaked knight burst into the room, several guards with bruises or blooded heads running at his heels.

“We’re sorry, your Grace!”  One of them cried out as the King and his two lovers rose, the other lords and sers still frozen in shock at the disruption, the Kingsguard moving swiftly to block the cloaked knight from reaching the King, becoming a stout barricade of white armor and whiter cloaks between the stranger and the King.  “We tried to stop him when he came towards the hall but he was too much for us!”

The knight in his dull armor and rough-spun cloak came to a sharp halt within an arm’s length of the Sword of Morning.

Blue eyes, still bright despite their owner being in his sixth decade, shone with strength and sadness as the knight lifted his head and stared out from the hood of the cloak that concealed his face.

“I know your face, Sword of Morning.”  The elder knight said in a voice raspy from disuse.  His head turned towards the right.  “And yours, Prince Lewen.”  Then left.  “And yours, Ser Oswell.”  Lean hands with long fingers still strong and steady despite their owner’s age lifted to the hood of the cloak and lowered it to a stunned gasp from more than one lord.  “How is it that my brothers for whom I mourned deep and long are standing before me now?”  Ser Barristan Selmy, known as Barristan the Bold, demanded, his eyes piercing.  “And with one among their number who I have never broken bread with, let alone welcomed among us?”

“Ser Barristan,” Ser Arthur’s eyes gleamed with pleasure and brotherly love at the sight of the still-strong and noble knight of the Kingsguard.  The finest knight Ser Arthur ever served with, including those brothers who followed him North or joined him there.  “Word had reached us of Joffery’s actions.  And we beg your forgiveness for our own.”  The Sword of Morning acknowledged the wrong they had done the noble knight in leaving him in service to Robert Baratheon, but his presence at the Ruby Ford had been too visible for them to risk staging his death and stealing him away as they had done for themselves.  “It is good,” so very good.  “To see you once again, brother Barristan.”

“Aye, brother Barristan.”  Lewen and Oswell called out, Mark simply nodding in agreement as he only knew the knight from reputation.

“You did what you must to protect the rightful King.”  Barristan waved off the notion of forgiveness.  To his mind, no matter the pain and grief it had caused him, their actions were just.  He more than any other knew what would have happened had Robert known of the young Dragon’s life.  After watching that butcher cleave in the breastplate of a man he loved like his own son over a woman that was never going to be his – and wasn’t Rhaegar’s either – Barristan would have done just the same to protect his son’s only living child.  “I would have done the same, my brothers.”

Jon, Harry, and Robb exchanged wordless looks as the drama of the Kingsguard brotherhood played out at their feet, coming to a decision as Barristan clasped arms with Ser Arthur and found himself buffeted on the shoulders and back by Ser Oswell and Prince Lewen.

The triad moved, coming around to stand before the group of guardsmen, Jon at the point of their arrow with Robb and Harry flanking him, Harry having removed the Elder wand from its holster hidden up his sleeve.

When Barristan caught sight of the trio, he gently moved his sworn brothers aside, coming to kneel before the son of a boy he’d loved as his own and had mourned just as fiercely.

“You took Baratheon’s pardon after he cut my father down.”  Jon began sternly.  “Abandoned my family while your King yet lived.  For all that my Lord Commander of my Kingsguard is joyous to behold your face, and you his, what reason do I have to trust you among my men, let alone holding you to your oaths and allowing you to join your sworn brothers among my Kingsguard?”  Jon put the charge to him, though having already made up his mind, wanting to hear what the Bold Barristan would have to say.

“I took Robert’s pardon, aye.  I served him in Kingsguard and council.  Served with the Kingslayer and others near as bad, who soiled the white cloak I wore.  Nothing will excuse that, your Grace.”  Barristan made no move to excuse himself.  He knew full well the measure of all that he’d done since the first moments of his grief.  “I might be serving in King’s Landing still if the vile boy upon the Iron Throne had not cast me aside, it shames me anew to admit.  But when he took the cloak the White Bull had draped about my shoulders, and sent men to kill me that selfsame day, it was as though he’d ripped a caul off mine eyes.  That was when I knew I must find my true king, and die in his service.”  He lifted his head and stared up resolutely into Targaryen violet eyes.  “If you allow me, I will serve you as a member of the Kingsguard, alongside my true sworn brothers, and die for you if and when that time comes.”

Jon gave Harry a nod and the wizard banished the rough-spun cloak clasped around Ser Barristan’s neck, spelling him clean and fresh, and transfiguring his armor into the pure white enameled scale armor chased with silver that matched that of the other members of Jon’s Kingsguard, a dragon-helm appeared beside Barristan’s bent knee.  Another move of his wand and a pure white cloak with a silver edging appeared, the border slimmer than that of Ser Arthur’s Lord Commander cloak, but fine nonetheless.  Harry held the cloak out, giving it over to Ser Arthur as the Sword of Morning stepped forward and began the oaths:

“Ser Barristan of House Selmy, known as Barristan the Bold, do you so swear before all the gods, old and new, and the members of this brotherhood, these gathered Lords and Ladies, and your King, to protect the King from harm or threat, with your every lifeblood if need be?”

Barristan’s voice was rich with fervent meaning.  “I do so swear.”

“Do you swear to protect those of royal blood from harm or threat, trading your life for theirs if that is the price?”

“I do so swear.”

“Do you swear to serve the king’s pleasure, keep the king’s secrets, protect his name and honor, and follow his orders, and those of whom as the king directs you?”

“I do so swear.”

“Do you swear to father no sons, hold no titles, nor take any wives, leaving your family and house, serving only as a member of this sworn brotherhood of the Kingsguard?”

Barristan held back the upwelling of emotion he felt as the white cloak once again laid heavy on his shoulders, Ser Arthur waiting upon the final oath before clasping it firmly, meeting Barristan’s still-sad but now-renewed blue eyes with his own violet of old Valyria.

“I do so swear.”

Applause and whoops rang out from the gathered lords and ladies, as well as the members of the Kingsguard, all ecstatic at having one of the finest knights in the kingdoms once more by the side of the Targaryen King.

For his part Jon nodded regally to Ser Barristan saying simply: “Welcome to the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan.  Ser Arthur and the others have been waiting on you for several turns now.  I am glad to have you in my service.”

Jon Connington watched as the leaders of the sellsword company the Golden Company gathered in a rented room in a bawdy house in Myr.

Aegon had stared in a mixed of shock and wonder as they passed through the silk-draped and perfumed halls that were filled with women and some men of every shape, color, and size for the delectation and delight of the house’s customers.  The seventeen-year-old’s eyes had trailed helplessly over scented and oiled flesh as the bawds called to him, a few even offering to bed him for free due to his very handsome face and strong form.  A situation that had Connington making a noise deep in his throat in disgust and towing him away from the clinging and caressing hands of the workers.

If it had been up to the self-exiled Lord, he would have left Aegon behind.  But at seventeen and blooded in battle, he was a man in all the known world and to keep him away would have cost Connington more than he wanted to pay in terms of their ongoing pseudo-paternal relationship.  Aegon struggled with trusting him as it was after finding the letter, addressed to Aegon from Jon Targaryen, among the captain’s papers when he was looking for a copy of their last sell-sword contract.

It was one shock too many for their relationship to recover from, and things had been strained ever since in the weeks it had taken to set the meeting with the Golden Company.

Once the handful of men who controlled the most powerful sell-sword company in the known world were all settled with glasses of fine Myrish wine, Connington got right to the point.

“Have you heard of this dragon King?”  He asked the leader of the Golden Company, ‘Homeless’ Harry Strickland and his three first lieutenants, Ser Laswell Peake, Lysono Maar, and Tristan Rivers.

“We’ve heard.”  Lysono nodded taking a sip of his wine.  “Mopatis is spinning, his plans changing with every raven that leaves Westeros.”

“What do you know of him, Connington?”  Harry Strickland leaned forward, eyes piercing.  “You were a good friend of the late Rhaegar.  First our young Griff is his son, now he isn’t.  First Rhaegar was in love with a she-wolf and now it’s bonded to her brother with this Jon Targaryen as his heir.  What’s the meat of the matter?”

“The timing fits.”  Jon admitted, leaning back heavily in his chair.  “Rhaegar knew Benjen, was friends with him, which was how he came to know Lyanna.  It could be true.  Aegon was brought to me by Mopatis, supposedly smuggled out of King’s Landing by Varys, this could also be true.”

“Could, you say.”  Rivers held up a hand.  “But what matters more: what could be true or what the people believe?  If our Aegon is believed to be the son of Rhaegar, then who’s to say he isn’t?”

“The nobles will say.”  Ser Laswell shook his head.  “This Jon Targaryen has the word of his bearer, the support of the North and the Targaryen loyalists in Westeros, and is older than Aegon.  Not one of the nobles will rally to Aegon’s cause so long as Jon Targaryen breathes.  The plan is shot.”

“Which plan?” Tristan demanded.  “The fat man's plan? The one that changes every time the moon turns?  First Viserys Targaryen was to join us with fifty thousand Dothraki screamers at his back.  Then the Beggar King was dead, and it was to be his sister, a pliable young child queen who was on her way to Pentos with three new-hatched dragons.  Instead the girl is lost in the Red Waste and nowhere to be found.  I have had enough of Illyrio's plans.  Robert Baratheon won the Iron Throne without the benefit of dragons.  We can do the same.”

“We won’t need to.”  Aegon spoke up, brow furrowed.  “Because first we will go to Illyrio’s fine estate and wring the truth from his fat neck – guards bedamned.  Then either I am the son of a bastard line or I’m the second-born son of Rhaegar Targaryen.  Either way.”  His eyes gleamed.  “There’s a war being fought in Westeros, and to the winners go the spoils.  Who better to have a share in those spoils than the Golden Company?”  He rose to his feet, blood hot as the others started to exchanged looks, pleased with his idea.  “The Stepstones, the Reach, the Westerlands, all are ripe for the taking!”  He slammed one hand on the table.  “All we have to do is back the winning Dragon.”

“The lad speaks true.”  Lysono rubbed at his chin.  “There are spoils to be had – both at the Pentoshi palace of Mopatis and the rich kingdoms of Westeros.  All of it is nothing but profit.”

“Could it be done?”  Homeless Harry posed to the three Westerosi.  “Could the Golden Company have success in taking part of Westeros for our own – and would this Targaryen let us keep it?”

“Even after a century, some of us still have friends in the Reach. The power of Highgarden may not be what Mace Tyrell imagines.”  Ser Laswell stated after sharing glances with Rivers and Connington.  “It could be done.  A castle or two would sit fine with our men.”

“Well, young Griff.”  Homeless Harry sat forward.  “At heart the Golden Company are wanderers looking for a home.  You promise us that and we’ll follow you into hell.”  He smirked.  “Or in this case against Mopatis’s eunuch guardsmen and sell-swords.   “Can you do that?”

Aegon thinks on the charge before him a moment before giving a solemn nod and extending his hand to seal the deal between them, Homeless Harry taking his hand and his word.

“Ready the men.”  Strickland orders his commanders.  “We’re breaking our contract with Myr.  We’ve been made a better offer.”

Cersei swanned through the door to the Small Council chamber, Joffery at her side with Sansa following three steps behind him as commanded.

His latest game was to have her always at hand, either just behind him or even sitting on the hard stone steps in the Throne room as he played at being King.  Sansa had gained quite a bit of interesting information that way, information she hadn’t hesitated in passing along to Lord Harry to benefit her Cousin’s campaign.  They kept such a strict watch on her, waiting for her to flower, and not allowing her the use of ravens to write her family unless supervised that Cersei saw no harm in letting Joffery play his little game of making her his unwilling shadow.

Little did they know that nearly everything said around her ended up either in Varys or Baelish’s ears through their personal cadre of spies or being passed on to Lord Harry via Sansa.

To anyone who cared to check – and check they had – her little book was a simple diary filled with fluff-brained nonsense, homesickness, and the occasional poem.

All of it completely innocuous.

Sansa was still in awe of what Lord Harry’s magics were able to accomplish, her amulet had never failed to protect her even during that awful riot.

Sandor Clegane’s rescue had been an unexpected event, one that she knew Lord Tyrion had rewarded the man handsomely for, though she had a feeling the Kingsguard didn’t appreciate or require it.

He wasn’t one for thanks, though Sansa never failed to do so when he looked after her following Joffery’s latest ‘punishments’ or during isolated incidents such as the riot.

If only he could protect her from flowering, she didn’t want to have to leave the Red Keep and lose Jon and Robb a steady and reliable source of information, but she wouldn’t allow that cretin Joffery to defile her either, so-called ‘marriage’ or no.

“Well, we’re here.”  Cersei said gracelessly as she took the offered seat, Sansa to her right after Tyrion insisted.  “What is the emergency?”

“First.”  Tyrion tapped his hand slowly against the documents in front of the Baelish, Pycelle, and the other members of the Small Council including the Spider shifting uncomfortably.  “Since the matter was just forcibly drawn to my attention, what, nephew,” he coughed.  “Do you think you’re doing forcing Lady Sansa to sit on the cold stone floor?”  His voice was pleasant – too pleasant to anyone that knew him.

And Joffery had gotten to know his uncle the Imp quite well – especially the back of his hand.

“She’s my betrothed, uncle.”  He sneered.  “I can do with her as I please.”

“Maybe so, though I’m sure your mother would disagree on principle if nothing else.”  Tyrion scowled at the whelp.  “The reason I asked was because, though it seems to have eluded your few remaining wits,” he waved a hand to the Lady sitting with a straight spine and a lowered head, particularly to the bruise that shone black on her graceful cheek.  “Lady Sansa is the only thing keeping your uncle Jaime alive!”  He shouted startling the others and nearly causing Cersei to spill her wine.

“Uncle Jaime is too valuable…”  Joffery started to say only to be cut off at a swift gesture from Tyrion.

“Your uncle and my beloved brother is many things.”  Tyrion’s voice was glacial.  “Including the Kingslayer.  The very King he slayed to earn that title being the grandfather of the man who now holds him prisoner.”

“That pretender…”  Cersei scoffed only to be cut down in turn.

“Let us not equivocate amongst ourselves.”  Tyrion demanded.  “Jon Targaryen is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Benjen Stark.  The evidence is incontrovertible.  And unless it has escaped anyone’s notice he also he doing a damned fine job of cutting his way through the Seven Kingdoms to reclaim his ancestral heritage.  No.”  Tyrion held up a hand in a wordless command for silence.  “The only reason your dead husband was able to claim the Iron Throne in the first place my sweet sister was because of his Targaryen mother.  Jon Targaryen is many things, including the rightful King.”  He lowered his hand slowly back to the table.  “Nonetheless, it is Joffery who sits on the Iron Throne.  Now that we have all been reacquainted with the facts.”  He stated with exquisite sarcasm.  “Let us return to the issue at hand: Lady Sansa.  We will not give her up as she is one of the Heirs of Winterfell and the only thing keeping Jaime alive.  That means, nephew,” he fixed Joffery with a gimlet eye.  “That it is in all of our best interests to treat her with the utmost courtesy and respect.  We are blockaded from the Narrow Sea by a fleet of Northern sails.  The only thing keeping those ships from sailing into the Blackwater and making war on the city is Lady Sansa’s good health.”  He gave her a genial look.  “Let’s keep it that way, shall we?”

Joffery fumed silently, slumping back in his chair, his games regarding his favorite toy stymied for the moment.

“Now.”  Tyrion took a deep draught of his wine.  “Onto other issues.  Jon Targaryen sent a company of men, his sorcerer among them, to treat with Balon Greyjoy – Varys?”

“I do not know the entirety of what passed on Pyke.”  Varys reported in his silken whisper.  “However I do happen to have heard that this sorcerer styling himself as the ‘Warrior-Who-Waits’ or Lord Harry Potter-Black of the Land of Always Winter and the Fist of the First Men, first killed Balon Greyjoy with an axe during a finger-dance, the wager of which was either Lordship of the Iron Islands or Lord Harry’s turning his cloak to serve Balon, and then struck down Theon Greyjoy after the young man challenged Lord Harry to single combat.”

Silence surrounded the Small Council as the others who were unaware – which was everyone save Varys and Tyrion – took in the news.

They’d been counting on Balon’s latest rebellion to force the Targaryen army back North to protect the Stark holdings.  With this turn of events there was no reason for the Northern faction to return home.

“And is he?”  Baelish asked the pertinent question.  “Is this so-called sorcerer now Lord of the Iron Islands?”

“He is.”  Varys gave a regretful nod of his shiny bald head.  “The Ironborn are to join the Targaryen and Martell fleets in pressing the Westerlands and the Reach from the coast.”

“Father must be furious.”  Cersei commented as if to herself.  “He counted on Greyjoy to defang the Dragon, now he’s more powerful than ever.”

“Quite.”  Tyrion said.  “And still not the most pressing concern.  With our failure to rouse the Crownlands men-at-arms to action, we have only six-thousand gold cloaks left to patrol and guard the city.  Not nearly enough as our latest adventure as proven.”  He folded his hands before him.  “Especially since Lord Varys’s spies in Renly Baratheon’s men have reported that the ‘King of Highgarden’ as they’re calling him is marching up the Rose Road as we speak.”

“To meet Uncle Stannis at Storm’s End?”  Joffery suggested, brow furrowed.

“No, nephew.”  Tyrion answered with a grim smile.  “He’s on his way to King’s Landing: he means to lay siege to the Red Keep.”

While the King and his two lovers adjourned to the King’s chambers to enjoy a private evening meal, one of the few occasions they would have to do so before Harry had to set off for a fortnight apart, the Kingsguard gathered in their adjoining chamber to discuss their shifts and other concerns as well as welcome Ser Barristan back into the fold.

Ser Barristan set down the travel pack that he’d retrieved from the woods bordering Riverrun down on one of the empty beds in the chamber.  He’d stayed at Riverrun before during his time serving the three kings before his newest liege Jon Targaryen, the sight of the empty beds giving him a moment’s pang from the true, valiant knights of the realm who had served beside him in that time that were now gone.  He’d immediately asked about the previous Lord Commander Ser Gerold Hightower, the same ‘White Bull’ that had given him his first white cloak.

He found himself saddened at the White Bull’s death in exile with the late Queen Rhaella’s son and daughter, but pleased that Ser Gerold had served a more noble death than being slaughtered at the Tower of Joy.

The Kingsguard of the rightful King now numbered five with his return to the fold, leaving room for two more sworn brothers.

A state that was very much on his mind as he took a seat near the fire with his brothers.

“Ser Mark Ryswell.”  Ser Barristan commented on the sole member he’d been unable to place before.  “I remember you well from the war.  You were a great friend of Eddard Stark if I recall.”

“That’s right.”  Ser Mark nodded his head.  “Ned didn’t want to appoint men to the Kingsguard if he could help it, but with the Lord Commander deciding to travel with Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, he and Ser Arthur asked if I would be willing, I swore then and there and have served as a member of the Kingsguard ever since.  It has been the privilege of my life to serve King Jon and watch him grow into the strong man and King he is today.”

“Lord Stark chose you as the new Lord Commander, Ser Arthur?”  Barristan asked.  “Or was it the White Bull.”

“Ser Gerold chose me.”  Ser Arthur confirmed his second guess.  “But Lord Stark approved of the advancement.  I’ve been the father to Jon that I wish Rhaegar could have been, though I know I’ve not done as well as my friend would have.  I have done my best.”

“That’s all anyone could ask of us, brother.”  Barristan said with a shake of his head, his hair long turned white with age.  “And what of my King?”  He inquired.  “What do I need to know as a member of his Kingsguard?”

“He’s warm in private.”  Ser Oswell put in his two pennies.  “But formal and stern in public.”

“Has that rigid Stark honor.”  Prince Lewen pointed out.  “And Rhaegar’s own formidable temper to go with it.”

“Secrets?”

“Not many,” Ser Arthur allowed.  “And none that you need know until they come up.  His relationship with Lord Harry was one but they seem to have come to an accord and are now making no attempts at subtlety.  Lord Robb has recently joined them though, and King Jon is speaking of bonding and consorts.”

Barristan arched a brow at that.

He couldn’t remember the last time a King openly took a male consort.  It must have been near two hundred years, at the beginnings of the Targaryen reign of Westeros.  Most of the time the prospects of Heirs were too uncertain with a male consort.  And Jon was taking a pair of them.

“Who are we to protect and obey other than the King?”

“Lord Harry for one.”  Prince Lewen supplied.  “Though he usually requests me.  He likes my sense of mischief and my education.  The rest are of little use in the healing tents save for Ser Arthur and he’s the King’s own shadow.”

“We don’t have to obey anyone but Jon, not yet.”  Ser Arthur explained more clearly.  “That may change once they bond.  Though if Harry speaks you’d do well to listen.  His abilities make him able to sense trouble, I’m certain of it.  Even from a thousand leagues away.”

“He’s a sorcerer.”  Ser Barristan nodded thoughtfully.  “There’d been rumors of him, and of a dragon flying across Westeros, several turns ago.  Until I saw his magics with my own eyes I didn’t believe it.  Still have trouble with it even though I’m wearing the proof.”

“That’s one of the secrets we’re to keep.”  Ser Oswell spoke up.  “We’re not to speak of Lord Harry’s abilities to anyone save amongst ourselves or to the King.”

“Very well.”  Barristan agreed easily.  It was much less burdensome than many of the royal secrets he’d had to keep in his time.

“We protect Lord Robb when he’s about.”  Ser Mark added to the list.  “The same with the rest of the Stark children.  We are to use our own discretion as far as their mother Lady Catelyn but not to the extent of costing us our own lives.”  Ser Mark’s eyes were serious.  “There’s bad blood between the two of them.  Not so much that he’d have her killed, but he wouldn’t weep if she dropped dead either.”

“Jon fights his own battles.”  Ser Arthur’s tone was almost a complaint.  “We protect him in battle as much as we can but he fights and fights well.  If he’s injured one of us goes to fetch Lord Harry.  The new Lord of the Iron Islands can do many things with his magics but he prefers to heal.”

They spoke for many long minutes of things related and unrelated to their duties, Barristan passing on what he knew of Princess Daenerys and the others doing the same.  Their meeting had about been completed and Sers Oswell and Mark going to take their shifts guarding the hall doors when a knock sounded on the connecting door between the King’s antechamber and their room.  Lewen being the closest rose and ushered in Lords Harry and Robb, the former speaking to Ser Barristan rather bluntly.

“You need a better sword.”  Harry eyed the simple castle-forged steel with distaste.  “You’re to come with myself and Robb to a place where we can find one.”

“Will you need protection, Harry?”  Prince Lewen asked, knowing he could kiss sleep goodbye if the sorcerer said yes.

Harry snorted.  That was funny, though only to him.  The rest weren’t in on the joke though they’d get it once they understood what Harry had planned.

“We aren’t going anywhere where there’s living enemies about.”  He said obliquely.  “Just Ser Barristan will be fine.”

“Very well.”  Barristan the Bold stood and pulled on his cloak.  “Lead the way, Lord Harry.”

The sorcerer pulled out a hammered piece of steel about the size of a cyvasse piece, Lewen groaning in sympathy at the sight.

“Good luck, Barristan.”  The Martell Prince commented.  “And hold onto your stomach.  I’ve yet to find traveling by Harry’s magic anything less than nauseating.”

“Pussy.”  Harry grinned as he shot the good-natured insult at the prince.  “Robb’s not complaining.”

“Well Robb.”  Lewen shot back as Barristan came to stand beside the sorcerer.  “Has to stay in your good books if he wants to get laid later, I do not.”

Harry rolled his eyes and directed Barristan to grab hold of the metal piece and warned him that it could upset his stomach, Robb already touching the port-key if looking a little pale-but-resolved.

And with a word, they whirled away, leaving the rest of the Kingsguard behind.

“Two gold dragons says Barristan loses his lunch.”  Lewen bet after a moment.

“Done.”  Ser Mark slapped hands with the Dornishman.  “I’ll take your gold Lewen.  I have no problem taking your gold.”

They touched down, Robb and Barristan both barely holding onto the contents of their stomachs after the sickening form of travel, into pitch black with was quickly lightened by a flash and spark from Harry’s wand, setting the oil troughs inset in the walls alight.

“Where are we?”  Robb asked once he got control of himself, straightening from his bent over position, Ser Barristan following his example, one hand on his sword.

“The Hall of Ancient Heroes.”  Harry spoke in a hushed voice that still resonated throughout the vast chamber, bouncing off of silent statues and an empty diamond coffin that stood at the far end.  “Or at least,” he added.  “That’s what Jon’s decided to call it.  Now that I’m awake, calling it a Tomb no longer seems appropriate.”

“This is where…?”  Robb trailed off his question at the pained look on his new lover’s face.

“Yes.”  Harry answered, voice bleak.  “Yes it was.”

“I recognize some of these faces from tomes and tapestries.”  Ser Barristan commented, having come to a halt in his searching before the visage of Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, who he’d loved as his own son.  “And other places.”

“As I said.”  Harry repeated himself.  “The Hall of Ancient Heroes.”  He waved a hand pointing towards some of the statues whose construction he half-remembered from his waking sleep.  “Garth Greenhand, Bran the Builder, the Grey King, but there are more, many more.”  He said thoughtfully.  “Who I cannot place.  I have no true idea of how long I slept – nor how many ages passed.  I hope that it was just the one – the ending of mine and the beginning of yours.  But there is no way to ever know save for finding a record of what came before.”  He shrugged, waving the idea off.  “A quest for my winter years, perhaps.  Not something like as to help us now.”

“You said you knew a place to get a better sword?”  Robb reminded him, pulling Harry from his burgeoning melancholy.

“Indeed.”  Harry gave his companions a bright smile before moving over to the coffin and speaking the password in what Jon said was Old Valyrian.  Funny.  He’d known it before as Latin.

Barristan and Robb watched with wide eyes as the empty casket moved aside with a great groan of stone-on-stone, a curving stairwell decorated in gold leaf beckoning them downwards.

“Well,” Harry started to descend.  “Shall we?”

“I can’t believe that all this was lying under the Fist all these thousands of years.”  Robb commented as they stood in awe – much like Jon had before them – at the great treasure trove beneath the floor of the Hall.

“Not all of it, lad.”  Ser Barristan pointed towards a shelf on a rack filled with old tomes.  “That’s written in the Common Tongue.  Some of these treasures are new.”  He cast his gaze around with a more discerning eye and corrected himself.  “Well, newer.”

“Two reasons.”  Harry supplied.  “This is where I store anything I find on my travels and secondly, the original spellwork.”  Harry enlightened them as he led them towards an antechamber tucked against one wall.  The vault beneath the Hall was a warren of rooms, one he hadn’t time to explore upon waking.  But he remembered commissioning this section well enough.  “Which was fashioned so that anything belonging to my Houses or those that came from them would return here once the members of the houses died away.”  He shrugged.  “It was altered at some point by the goblins who did the work to include any item of great value or worth, like a mystical trove of lost treasures.  From what I can tell, nothing within these walls has any owner that can make a current claim to them, having passed into the age of ‘claiming rights’ by even the highest of law-minded men.”

Pricking his finger, Harry swiped the welling blood against the door of the chamber, causing the locks to click open.

“One thing in particular I found on my own while I was exploring King’s Landing before the Twins.”  Harry confided, turning to a stand holding a very infamous greatsword.  “Robb?”  He said with a smile and a wave toward the sword.  “I believe this belongs to you.”

Ice!”  Robb shouted in disbelieving joy, darting forward to snatch up and examine the weapon.

Leaving him to it, Harry turned to Ser Barristan, waving his hand in invitation before pointing out a single exception for removal from the armory.

“You may choose any of these, Ser Barristan.”  He offered.  “And select any you think may suit your sworn brothers Lewen, Oswell, and Mark as well.  Any but that one.”  He pointed towards a hand-and-a-half or bastard sword, much the same length as Jon’s sword Longclaw or the one of Stygian steel at his back.  It was finer work than any Barristan had seen before, including some of Valryian steel though the knight could plainly tell it was not of that make.  It shone silver in the dim chamber light, with rubies on the pommel and hilt.

“Why not that one?”  He couldn’t help but ask, the warrior in him aching at seeing such a weapon laying at rest in a hidden treasure trove.

“That.”  Harry explained patiently, moving to stand under the sword that was mounted high on the wall, far too high for anyone to reach.  “Is the Sword of Gryffindor, the ancient sword of my family.  Its legend was great among my people, and it had greater abilities than many knew.”  Harry sighed and turned away.  “It’s also deadly.  A single nick from that blade will kill a man within minutes.  I used it once to slay the Queen of Serpents and the blade was thereafter imbued with her venom.   It cannot be used save as an instrument of death, and is far too great a weapon for every day.”

“A shame.”  Robb commented from where he’d finished admiring Ice and now had it strapped to his back in the sheath that he’d found resting below it.  It was a different sheath than his late father had used, and looked of Harry’s magic to Robb’s eyes with the hide it was made of and the simple but pleasing jewel and metal work.  “That’s truly a beautiful sword.”

“That it is.”  Harry gave a half-smile.  “And I can use it, it comes to my call.  I haven’t needed it thus far upon waking however.”  He patted the sword at his side.  “Thanatos does just fine for me.”

Barristan began investigating the other swords present on racks and fine displays like that that had held Ice, rapidly coming to the realization that Ice wasn’t the only Valyrian steel blade Harry had tucked away among his treasures.

There were five in total he recognized from legend and by examining the sigils marking them, but there were many more that he did not, in addition to daggers and spears and even arrowheads made of the material.

“Lost treasures indeed.”  Barristan commented, bringing the other men over to his side where he pointed out the five swords long thought lost.  “Vigilance, the lost ancestral sword of House Hightower.  Lamentation and Orphan-Maker, two more ancestral swords.  Truth, which belonged to a Lysene nobleman.  And last but not least: Brightroar.”

“Brightroar?”  Harry arched a brow, having no idea that the spells worked quite that well.  He’d sent Ice here through his magic, the others must truly have been lost.  That Brightroar was in his vault when Tywin Lannister would pay a king’s ransom for it was an interesting turn of events.

“Brightroar.”  Barristan pointed to the rubies and lions.  “There is no mistaking it.”

“Hmm.”  Harry cast his gaze around the chamber, wondering what other treasures he might have hiding away under several tons of rock, ice, and snow.  “Robb, help Ser Barristan move the swords once he makes his selection, there’s a chamber I need to visit and you won’t be able to follow.”

“Why?”  The swordsman asked as he look up from examining the bounty Ser Barristan had found alongside the elder knight.

“It’s spelled against anyone not of my blood.”  Harry called out his explanation over his shoulder as he darted from the chamber and into another one on the opposite side of the central treasure room.

And with good reason, the vault Harry left to explore being the jewelry vault, filled to the brim with the Potter, Black, and Peverell jewels as well as other branches of the families such as Gryffindor and even Slytherin.  As the blood had died out in Harry’s world, more and more treasures were considered ‘lost’ as the last people who had a valid claim to them died away.  If he was willing to take the time and sort through the warren of rooms, he would likely find valuables belonging to every wizarding family among the mess.

Some items, however, were automatically sorted into specific rooms based on value both in gold and renown.

Which was why he thought he might find what he was looking for in the jewel vault, where wearable items of renown were placed.

Opening the door and stepping inside he let out a laugh as his eyes made sense of what he was seeing.

His hunch had been correct.

What used to be filled with nothing more than jewelry, both male and female, was now home to a much more regal assortment of gems.

Still laughing to himself after noting the location of the pertinent treasures, Harry reclosed the vault and met with Barristan and Robb.

“Which swords did you pick?”

“Vigilance for myself.”  Barristan said, showing him the hilt of the longsword etched with simple, clean lines and without extra ornamentation.  He wouldn’t have even recognized it for an ancestral sword if it hadn’t had its name engraved along the blade.  “Truth for Lewen, black-bladed Orphan-Maker for Ser Oswell, and Lamentation for Ser Mark.”

Lamentation had a smooth pommel engraved with runes as well as runes etching the blade spelling out the words of House Royce: “We Remember.”

“Very well.”  Harry held out a hand and summoned Brightroar.  He was sure he could find some use for the Lannister ancestral blade, he smirked to himself.  Sheathed sword in hand, Harry held out the port-key once again after they’d exited the vaults and Harry moved the casket back into place.  “Time to go.”

Jon listened indulgently as Robb waxed poetic over Harry’s armory and vaults beneath the Hall of Ancient Heroes.  He knew what the other man was going through, having felt something similar at seeing the massive cache beneath the Fist.  But from what it sounded like, and from seeing the swords they’d brought back with them, he’d barely scratched the surface of what was down there.

“What I don’t understand Harry,” Robb finally wound down and turned to face their joint lover, gesturing with his tankard of ale, the three of them enjoying a late drink before retiring.  “Is why you haven’t brought any of the weapons out before for the army to use?”  He asked.  “We’re always in need of weapons and you have a stockpile of some of the best in the known world just sitting around gathering dust.”

Dragon.”  Jon coughed to cover the word.  He’d already considered that very question on the way from the Fist to the Wall and thought now that he knew about Harry’s other form that he had the answer.

“What was that, lover?”  Harry arched an unimpressed brow at the chuckling king.

“He’s a dragon.”  Jon said aloud for Robb’s enlightenment.  “What he showed you is his horde.”

“What?”  Robb was dumbfounded.  “I thought that was just an illusion or something that Harry made.  You’re talking about him being an actual fire-breathing dragon.  With a horde nonetheless?”

“Excuse me.”  Harry said, flat-voice.  “Right here.”

They paid him no mind.

“Yes.”  Jon nodded.  “I saw it with my very own eyes.  The dragon that was seen flying over Westeros was Harry in his other form.  He’s a dragon at heart.  That he let you, Ser Barristan, and myself see and take things from his horde is impressive as it is.  Dragons aren’t known for their sharing nature.”

“You make me sound like I’m an animal in human skin.”  Harry pouted, sulking.  “It’s just the Animagus transformation,” Robb mouthed the unfamiliar words.  “I’m a dragon at heart so I can turn into one with my magic.  I’m not an actual dragon walking around as a human.  There’s no such thing.”  He thought a moment considering some of the tales he’d heard during his long sleep.  “I don’t think.”

“You’re still a dragon at heart, as you said, little minx.”  Jon pointed out, an indulgent smile on his handsome face.  “Dragons have hordes.  Yours is just a little more mixed than plain gold and gemstones.”

Harry kept on pouting, not willing to be mollified.  The way Jon talked about him you’d think he ran around raiding sheep herds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  He was more than his Animagus form damn it!

…even if Jon had a point about the hording treasure thing…

Still.  Harry wasn’t about to let it go anytime soon.  The next time he shifted form he was so threatening to light Jon’s arse on fire.  See if he joked about it then.

Prat.

Robb chuckled at the adorable face the normally even-tempered (at least most of the time) wizard was making, leaning over the table and taking his mouth in a deep kiss before gathering Harry in his arms and pulling him over and into his lap, knocking the empty drinkware and pitcher to the ground in his bold haste.

Harry moaned deep in this throat as Robb’s mouth and tongue worked to silence his objections over being so thoroughly manhandled as Jon leaned back in his chair and loosened his legging ties, finishing his drink and setting it aside content to watch his partners for the moment, heat beginning to build in his violet-purple eyes.

“Bond with us.”  Harry gasped the demand, staring up into gorgeous blue eyes, as he pulled away from the deep, wet, arousing tangle of lips and teeth and tongues.  “Be ours, our lover, our husband, our consort.”

“Both of you wish this?”  Robb asked, arching a brow in question over Harry’s ebony head, staring straight into Jon’s glinting eyes.

He’d gotten the impression over the previous day and night that it was Harry pushing for his inclusion and Jon just going along with his lover’s desires, however happily.

Jon palmed himself at the sight they made before him, Robb desire-flushed and demanding, his blue eyes piercing while Harry was sprawled out, straddling Robb’s lap, his pert arse on display as he arched down onto what Jon knew from their activities yestereen was an impressive manhood.

Tugging his lip lightly between his teeth, Jon nodded barely holding back a growl and explained when Robb still look skeptical: “Harry encouraged the idea, pushed me at first I’ll admit but…”  he groaned at the picture the two made as Harry carefully turned around and pushed back into Robb, facing Jon with parted panting lips and lust-shot eyes.  “If our little tease was yet still sleeping, there would be no other match for me but you, my wolf.”

“We all bring our unique gifts and talents to the match, Robb.”  Harry said, voice forcibly calm as he gave Robb what amounted to a lap dance and Jon one hells of a show.  Tangling his hands in his tunic he quickly stripped it off over his head and tossed it away, revealing his cut chest and abs covered in golden-cream skin to his appreciative audience, Robb wasting no time in caressing the bared flesh while at the same time attempting to listen to Harry’s words.  “We fit each other: you with your keen sense of honor and devotion to justice.”  Harry waved to the hotly-watching Jon.  “Our beloved King with his passion and drive, and myself,” he gave a quirk of his lips, though it wasn’t bitter, after many years and more than a few betrayals, Harry was comfortable with himself both the worst and the best of him.  “With my often idiotic bravery, complete disregard for rules or laws, and willingness to break both if it would help someone I love.”  He chuckled.  “If anything we need you to keep us grounded and inline more than you need us, Robb Stark.”

“That’s true enough.”  Jon barked a laugh, distracted for the moment from the display before him.  “Besides, I’m not ashamed to admit that with the demands of state I might need help now and again managing my little lover.”

Harry almost pouted anew at that before his mouth fell open on a moan, Robb having latched himself onto the tender and sensitive curve of his neck just below his ear.

“Will you have us, Robb Stark, Lord of the North?”  He moaned again as Robb nipped him lightly, then sucked a bruise into the spot he’d discovered, loving the way it made his delectable lapful writhe.  “Will you be ours, forever?”

“I’ll be yours.”  Robb swore, his breath tickling at Harry’s ear and sending shivers down his arching spin.  “And you’ll be mine.  Forevermore.”

“Forevermore.”  Jon intoned, sealing the pact between them.  It wasn’t a formal betrothal but at least it was a solid and solemn step forward after spending several turns trying to pin down his wily wizard with his teasing minx ways.

“Excellent.”  Harry breathed.  “Now someone better fuck me until I can’t walk or I shall be quite cross with both of you.”  He said teasingly, with a saucy swivel of his hips and bum that had Robb groaning and clutching at him in tortured pleasure.

Jon rose languidly to his feet, crossing the distance between the two chairs and bracketing his seated lovers with his strong body.

“Of course, little minx.”  He nipped lightly at a pouting bottom lip.  “We shall make it our duty to sate you in all ways this night.  It wouldn’t do for you to forget us on your wanderings.”

Suddenly, Jon was attacking his lips.  Harry instantly reciprocated and Jon's tongue entered the young man’s mouth, claiming the first bit of territory in his conquest.  Harry arched back and pressed himself against Robb as much as he could manage.  Robb held his wrists tightly in his fists and the restraining force caused a strangely powerful reaction in Harry that he remembered well from his old life but hadn’t explored with either of his lovers, one he knew he liked.

For Robb’s part, before he’d joined in the relationship with Jon and Harry would have thought that Harry was completely submissive to Jon – but that wasn’t the case at all.  Harry remained just as independent and demanding in the bed chamber as he’d seen him be in private discussions with the King.  In no way did Robb find the smaller man anything close to submissive as a bed partner, despite him bottoming most of the time.

Robb moved his hands, still holding Harry's wrists up to above Harry's head and switched so he was holding both hands with just one of his.  He then reached over with his now free hand and grabbed a fistful of Harry's hair, pulling his head to the side, forcefully to expose his neck.  He and Jon both latched onto it, biting and sucking, lavishing Harry with sinful delights and had him writhing and moaning senselessly in their grasp.

Jon gave Robb a meaningful look before swiftly pulling their lover into his arms and bearing him over to their shared bedfurs like some kind of pagan sacrifice to their desires, Robb following and quickly shucking his own clothes as he went, joining Harry on the bed as he and Jon stripped their lover, hands roaming and touching every inch of skin from head to toe before Jon stepped back and out of his own clothes, eyes hot while watching his lovers together.

Harry's senses were all on overload and he couldn't make heads or tails of anything for several long minutes. There was only pleasure, sensation, pain, control, and heat.  So much heat.  Robb's hands, tongue, teeth, and his cock brushing and rubbing deliciously against his own, bringing him so close to the edge, but then pulling away when he sensed that Harry was nearing his completion, driving him absolutely mad with need.  Jon’s arms were strong and heated steel around him his mouth driving him to distraction, and then Robb returned and the two resumed their maddening caresses.

The damned wolf and wolf-dragon were a pair of teases, that’s what they were.

Bringing him to the edge and then pulling him back before he could tip over, keeping him locked in a state of high arousal as they handled him as expertly as they did their swords, Robb having lost much of his former tentativeness as his natural confidence reasserted itself with the knowledge that he had a permanent place with them – that this wasn’t some kind of fleeting fancy.

Finally, they pulled back, causing Harry to whimper in shock at the sudden loss of sensation, Jon and Robb trading a glance before the ebony-haired Targaryen moved to the side and returned to his earlier watching.  If Robb was to have a place with them it had to be with both of them, not just with one or the other.  He had to have time to learn both of them equally as bedmates.  Time that Jon and Robb would have during the march to Golden Tooth.  Robb was due a bit of one-on-one with Harry.

Robb didn't stop as Jon pulled back, ceding to him for the moment. He released Harry's wrists and hair then began to move south. His tongue trailed over Harry's nipples and then trailed down his stomach, to dip, momentarily, into his belly button, giving no sign of unease as he attempted something very new for the Northern Lord.  Robb's hands gripped almost painfully at Harry's hips, holding him still for an agonizing moment while he tried to arch his pelvis up towards the other man but was restrained.

Robb smirked up at his lover with a cocky wickedness that made Harry moan loudly with desire and need.  Finally, Robb trailed his hands over Harry’s hips with a grasp of his large hands, Harry found himself naked and pinned once more to the silk sheets, as Robb lowered his auburn head.

Harry's eyes widened as he saw Robb's tongue dart out and lave a long, torturous trail of warm saliva along his cock.  He almost cried out at the touch and the wave of different sensations it brought with it. But, the next moment, he was completely engulfed with warmth and wetness and then he did call out.  He nearly screamed at the sensation and had to fight, hard, to keep himself from bucking up into Robb's face.

For a novice, he showed a great deal of innate talent at his newest task.

Robb pulled back, releasing Harry from his mouth.  The young wolf walked up the bed on his knees teasing the younger man with brushes of his hands and searing-hot cock along his abs, then his breastbone and chest.  Finally, Robb straddled Harry’s waist, a look of tenderness in his eyes as Jon moved over to join them once more.

The night before Jon – who was both thicker and smaller in length than Robb – had taken him first, leaving him well prepared for the entirety of Robb’s mighty sword.  He didn’t have that luxury today.  They needed to prepare him well for what they had in mind.

Harry was panting and his mind was buzzing from the mountain of overwhelming forces waging war on his senses so he wasn't even fully aware of what was going on until he felt something cool and wet probing at his entrance.  He gasped as he felt one of Robb's fingers circling and massaging him.

"Relax," Robb soothed.

Harry nodded his head quickly, not trusting himself to get anything sensible past his lips, though he thought he might have an idea of what they were up to.  It wouldn’t be the first time he’d done this particular act, though it had been several years even before his waking sleep during a rather wild night with his on-again-off-again boyfriend Blaise and Blaise’s new flame Adrian Pucey who wanted to try the various incarnations of a threesome.  It had been fun – and interesting – then, he knew it was going to be so much better now, with two lovers who he planned to keep forever.

Robb continued to massage around his entrance and Harry gasped and then moaned in enjoyment of how good it felt.  He was already so aroused, and so sensitive that every little thing seemed intense and wonderful.  Robb moved deeper then inserted a second finger.  Harry gasped quietly at the added presence but then cried out in pleasure as the two fingers deep inside him pressed against that amazing button hidden inside his channel. He arched his back involuntarily before pressing back down, wanting to feel that again.

With each inward thrust of his fingers Robb pressed up against that spot and Harry quickly dissolved into a writhing mass of gooey wizard, Jon nipping at his neck and pressing kisses to his face and mouth to distract him from the pinch of first penetration and stretching.  He knew the other men didn't want to hurt him, that they wanted this to be good.  Harry just wanted it to happen already.

Robb made a scissoring motion with his fingers a few times, before adding a third and fourth, stretching Harry wide in an attempt to prepare him for the imminent intrusions.  Finally, he pulled his fingers out, causing Harry to whimper in distress at the loss.

The warrior crawled upwards and pulled Harry's mouth to his own, kissing him with an intensity he was slowly becoming accustomed to, the heady passion hidden inside that stoic Northern façade where with Jon everyone knew that under the skin lived a dragon in all but name, few tempting to rouse it.  Finally, Robb turned them over, seating Harry up over his cock as Jon moved back to support him from behind but not yet making any attempt to penetrate him.  He felt the intense pressure as Robb began to press at his entrance and clenched his teeth together to keep from crying out as the head of Robb's member breached the ring of muscle.

That felt so good after the ages Robb had spent preparing him.

Robb gasped quietly and, before Harry could register much else, he was suddenly thrust into, deep and hard as Jon – who had been waiting patiently, thrust up alongside Robb as Harry lowered himself down onto their cocks that pressed and rubbed against each other, finding every spot inside Harry – Jon groaning at the sensation, hands clinging to Harry’s biceps as Robb held his hips, control fraying with each second as their smaller lover adjusted to the duel penetration.

Harry screamed out but the pain was good.  His hand flew up and his nails dug into Robb's chest, scratching marks of ownership into the tallest of his lovers as they tormented him by not moving but not allowing him to move either – though whether it would be to get closer to the cocks piercing him or away, he didn’t know.  His knees dug into the mattress, pushing him up deeper into the punishing thrusts as they began to move inside him, Jon setting the pace at a slow, dragging glide that had him whimpering and writhing on their manhoods.

Jon pulled back slightly and then thrust back in a moment later.  Again, Harry cried out from the motion and Robb groaned as he gave an echoing thrust of his hips.  Everything was too much.  Too tight, too hot, too hard as cock dragged against cock and discovered every square inch of Harry’s channel.

 Again and again, Jon thrust up into Harry dragging against Robb before Robb mirrored him, building up a furious pace as sweat dripped in rivers down their fit and toned bodies.  Their lover found himself panting and screaming out nonsense in time with Jon's powerful, rhythmic thrusts and Robb’s hard, short jabs.

“Gods!”  Harry shouted out back arching into Jon at the pressure coiling tighter and tighter inside of him.

“So lovely.”  Robb chuckled breathlessly, somehow finding humor in the moment as his brain felt like it was going to melt and leak out of his ears.  “So irreverent.”

Jon purred his agreement as he gave a particularly brutal stroke into Harry.

Harry moaned at that, tossing his head wildly.

“Robb…gods.”  Harry cried.  “Gods…Jon…Robb, coming!”

Groaning, Harry clamped down on their grinding lengths as his own spurted his seed between them and onto Robb’s sculpted chest, starting a chain reaction as Robb shouted at the additional pleasure and released deep within Harry’s supple lithe body, Jon quickly following the two other men into completion.

Late, or early depending on how you looked at it, the next morning Robb woke to find an empty space where Harry was supposed to be, he held out a hand feeling that the furs were cool to the touch.  Looking further, he saw Jon sprawled out on his stomach, sleeping well and deeply after their exertions during the night.  Robb gave a soft smile and brushed away the hair that had fallen forward into his betrothed’s eyes.

It never failed to steal his breath, the beauty of Jon Targaryen.

Harry, their shared lover, was a beauty in his own right but it was a prettier beauty, boyish almost if it wasn’t for the short, sharp-defined beard the other man grew.

Jon even with his smooth cheeks and lush lips would never be confused with being either a boy or a pretty maid like Harry would without the beard.  Jon’s looks were strictly masculine for all their otherworldly charm.

Shifting, Robb rose and left the bed, shoving his legs into a pair of leathers let hanging off the dressing table in their rush to the bed hours before, going in search of his errant lover.  Coming to the low-burning fire, near which Ghost and his own direwolf Grey Wind were curled around each other, he stopped a moment to feed it up, sending the flames flaring high before they crackled merrily around the fuel he gave them.  Rubbing his hands together he held them up to warm them in the early-morning bite of the room, then came around the edge of the screen before finding himself halting at the sight that met him.

Harry was sitting in the wide window alcove in the ante chamber outer wall, his legs folded together in a child’s pose with his hands cupped together and laying with serene repose in the concave created by his seated position.  His missing lover was facing out the window, towards the East and the rising sun, his eyes closed but with flickering under the lids showing that he was both awake and active inside the statue he made, his chest barely giving evidence to life as it rose and fell in slow measured breaths.

But all that was mere context compared to the first thing Robb noticed and the reason he ground to such a fast stop: Harry was glowing.

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say his power was glowing, surrounding him like Old Nan’s stories of great sorcerers with auras so bright and strong they could be seen pulsing out and extending from the sorcerer’s very skin.  It was more than that as well.  Not just a circle of golden-hued light but there were ribbons woven through it as well, extending from different places and wrapping around Harry in a colorful weave before darting back into the wizard in a different place than where they began.  There were more, as if he’d grown roots, sinking down into the cushions and stones below him in greens and browns and blacks, a few in russets and deep red and oranges, colors usually associated with the land and the seasons changing from summer to winter, of the transition phase known as fall or harvest.

As if sensing he had an audience, Harry opened his eyes, Robb uttering a startled gasp.

His lover’s eyes, while at times deepening or lightening a shade or two due to lighting or his emotion, tended to stay a vivid and breathtaking emerald green.  But whatever Harry had been doing which summoned the lights around him, that were now dimming and disappearing as he started breaking whatever connection he’d had with them on sensing Robb, had turned Harry’s eyes a bright and startling burning green, the color of flames when the fire was set with driftwood gathered from the Shivering Sea and allowed to dry for half a year.  Sacred wood, according to Old Nan and some of the more devout who followed the Old Gods, wood that burned in honor of Winter and the ancient powers.

Powers such as the being Death that Harry could somehow both summon and that he held as a close friend.

“I didn’t mean to wake you.”  Harry said, his voice having a faint echo that occurred when he allowed himself to fall into a deep trance, letting himself commune with the natural magic of the land.  It wasn’t often that he felt the need to augment himself and his powers this way, normally just using his core and the ambient magic around him was more than enough.  But with the coming trip to King’s Landing and then beyond, he would need all the reserves he could muster, especially as he was planning to add some enchantments to the swords they’d brought back from his vault, as well as Longclaw, before he left.

There was no way to tell what kind of trouble his lovers and the Kingsguard might get into while he was half a world away.

Harry wouldn’t go off for a fortnight without leaving them as well protected as he could manage from a distance.

Especially Jon and Robb.

Until they bonded, Death’s promise regarding their state wouldn’t come into effect: they were still vulnerable in many ways.  And Jon had ideas about what he wanted for their bonding, dreams that Harry had no problem waiting a little longer to make them possible.  Besides which, once Harry’s elevation to Lord of the Iron Islands spread there would be much less resistance to their union than otherwise.

If waiting a while longer can avert even a fraction of the future political issues Jon will face, and by extension his consorts, then Harry would do so with gladness, despite his own wishes to see them as protected as possible.

“What were you doing just there?”  Robb asked, head canted to one side as his clever eyes tracked the last few of Harry’s lights before they faded.  “It looked…strange.”  He decided.  “But I could almost taste the power of it.”

“I was communing with the natural powers of the land.”  Harry answered, rising to his feet and shaking out the tingles caused by staying in one position for too long.  “I can do the same with the air, water, fire.”  He waved a hand vaguely.  “Any element really.  But my long sleep was powered by spells linked to the land’s magic and I find it easier to access even now that I’ve been awake near to six turns.”  He sighed, looking out the window towards where the sun was just beginning to lighten the horizon.  “I slept so long that I likely always will, despite having a greater affinity for air and fire – before.”

Robb moved to his side as Harry stayed turned towards the window and wrapped his long arms around him, snugging the man in his light cotton tunic and naught else back against his broad chest.

They were a study in contrasts, the three of them.  Harry mused.  Jon was all long legs and strong, lean muscles, topping Harry’s five foot seven inches by a head, putting him at a good six foot three or four, with Robb several inches taller still and just as long of limb but more heavily muscled do to his heavier dose of River Land and Northern blood.  Old Valyrian genes tended towards being dominate giving Jon his more elegant and less bulked out musculature.  And of course, Harry’s own smaller, lither, swimmer’s figure.  All three of them had brightly colored eyes that resembled jewels and were each very handsome in their own unique ways.

Women would swoon, Harry laughed to himself, the moment the three of them presented themselves in a court setting.

 “Is that what you’ve been teaching Jon?”  Robb asked perceptively, gaining himself a startled glance from still-too-bright green eyes.  “I’ve noticed a difference.”  He added, voice gentle and soft.  “He recalls information faster than I’ve ever seen him – though he’s never been slow.  He keeps his temper better and shows less, and his connection to Ghost has grown even stronger.”  And that connection had always been the strongest of the six.  Robb admitted as such to himself even if he never would out loud.  “I knew you had to be teaching him something.  I’ve heard you speak too much about magic and different ways various peoples used it in your first life to think otherwise.”  Robb cracked a half-smile.  “You were planting seeds among the men, making them wonder if some of the old tales are true and they might be able to do such things – if they tried or were taught.”

“Pretty much.”  Harry admitted, sucking on his bottom lip sheepishly, eyelids half-lowered.  “With Jon I told him: there’s power in his blood and I offered to teach him how to use it.”  He shrugged.  “He won’t be able to do what I do: the way I use magic is pretty restricted to my kind.  But there are other ways, ways that have nothing to do with waving a wand and that’s what I think anyone with the right heritage can learn.”  Harry gestured towards the window in illustration, encompassing all of the land with his wave.  “Westeros is a land teeming with magic that has been suppressed: it’s begging to be used.  Foreign sorcerers who come from Essos like Thoros of Myr or the Red Woman often find themselves more powerful here and for a simple reason.”  Harry sighed, almost slumping.  “The magical creatures have been hunted, the magic of her people forgotten.  It’s like living at the edge of a volcano and trying to stopper the vent: all it does is make the eruption come that much sooner and more violently.”

Robb mulled that over for a moment, shifting them so that he was sitting with his back to the window and Harry was cradled between his legs.

“What I can do…”  He said slowly, struggling to admit even to himself who – or rather what – he was let alone another person, even one as in-your-face-magical as Harry.  “Warging.  I have magical blood as well…don’t I?”

“All the Starks do – from what I can tell.”  Harry admitted.  “I scanned Lord Hoster to see if there was anything that I could do for him from a magical standpoint but his blood is weaker than yours.  More Andal than First Men or Children of the Forest or even Old Valyrian.  He’s too weak to survive any intervention I might attempt.  But Bran…”  He trailed off, trusting Robb would be able to follow the thought without Harry spelling it out for him.

“He’s almost recovered and gets better every day since you saw him.”  Robb couldn’t help but smile, as he had when he’d first heard the news from Jon’s own lips.  “You were able to heal him – or mostly anyway.”

Harry nodded.  “There are things I can teach you, like I’ve started to with Jon over the last few turns.  You’ll probably take to different skills than our beloved king, but that’s the way it goes.  Everyone is different when it comes to magic, even twins excel in different subjects as I’ve had cause to experience.”

“Can you teach me to do what you were just doing?”  Robb asked, very much intrigued by the vision he’d come upon.

“Maybe, in time.”  Harry gave a ponderous nod.  “But first we’ll start at the same place as I did with Jon before branching out: meditation and strengthening your bond with Grey Wind.  Now,” Harry’s voice turned all business.  “Crisscross your legs before you and follow my voice…”

Sansa started as she heard her name called from the depths of the shadows covering the eastern half of her chambers.

“Lady Sansa.”  She heard again, eyes searching for the voice’s owner.

Knowing he had her firm attention Harry stepped from the shadows, slowly unravelling his disillusionment charm so that it seemed as if shadows were dripping from him as he walked forward.

He’d left Riverrun just that morning, after awaying his lovers and soon-to-be-bondeds as they marched out with the Targaryen forces on the way to Golden Tooth.  It was going to be a hard fortnight – for them and him – as they made a hard march, attempting to cover the ground at a pace that would get them there well ahead of any scouts that could warn the town and fortress that guarded the road to the West, while Harry first dared the lions in their stolen den before going off in what could be a fool’s errand.  He had no choice.  He had to risk it, to see what it was in the East that was pulling at him so insistently – and the feeling was only growing stronger with every day that passed.

But first – King’s Landing and the bastard-usurper’s small council.

Much rode on the outcome of today, of how skillful Harry proved to be in an arena that was pure social maneuvers and politics, neither of which he had ever learned to enjoy no matter how good he got at them.

Give him a blunt-speaking and hard-hitting group like the Ironborn any day over the venomous and sophisticated dangers of a court or a small council.  Every member of the Lannister-led small council was a snake in the grass, each more viperous than the one before.  The only exception may very well be the only one who was as yet a Lannister by name if Jon’s remembrances and instincts regarding Tyrion Lannister ring true.  It would be a fine turn of irony if it were so: the only named-lion of the bunch being the most lion-like rather than the poisonous cretins and Queens his own observations and information sources – such as Sansa Stark – have reported.

Lord Tywin was still cooling his heels at Harrenhal as far as Lady Sansa’s last report.  Harry was hoping that state of affairs remained.  Of all the enemies his Jon was facing, it was old Tywin that gave Harry pause.  He’d only dealt with him second-hand through upsetting his plans with the Freys, Boltons, and even his nudges given to Balon Greyjoy.  Any single one of those plans had had the potential to cost the North the war and Jon, Robb, or any other Stark or person who bucked the old lion their lives.

Nope.

Harry would never take Lord Tywin lightly, which was why he was approaching Lady Sansa in advance of his ‘official’ entrance to the city and his audience with the Lannister bastard child and his small council.

“Lady Sansa.”  Harry greeted giving his future good-sister a courtly bow.  “You are well?”

“Very well, Lord Harry.”  Sansa rushed over extending her hands to grasp his own.  “What need do you have of me?”

“Has Lord Tywin returned?”

“No, milord.”  Sansa shook her elegantly-coiffed auburn head.  “Lord Tyrion is still acting Hand in his father’s absence, much to Queen Cersei’s,” she gave a delicate sneer that the name of the woman that has made her life a living hell in continuing with the farce of a betrothal to Joffery.  “Disgust and disdain at having to listen to the Imp.  He’s very unpopular with Joffery and Cersei as well as most of the court but he seems to manage them all well enough.”

Harry gestured for her to sit in the window seat, coming down on one knee before her, keeping her hands in his as he gave them a reassuring squeeze or stroke of this thumbs.

“What do you make of him?”  Harry asked.  “Lord Tyrion?”

Jon was very conflicted regarding this sole member of House Lannister.  Cersei’s two youngest children could always be parceled off to a septry or a marriage to a loyal Northern house for Myrcella with the Citadel or the Black as options for Tommen.  But Tyrion…Tyrion had become a friend to Jon during the ‘royal’ visit to Winterfell before the game of thrones began anew in Westeros.

It was one of the times where the boy and the man in Jon have come into conflict, as Maester Aemon had warned would happen as Jon fought to claim the Iron Throne.

Harry loved that there was still that bit of wide-eyed idealism in his lover.

He was jaded enough for a dozen men, if he could take some of the harder choices Jon would have to make into his own hands to keep them from weighing down or bowing those strong shoulders he loved, he would do so.

“He’s…different than others I’ve met in the capitol.”  Sansa chose her words with care, knowing full-well that they could impact Harry’s and therefore her cousin’s choices.  “He drinks and wenches, he has a woman who was a harlot as a lover.  But he is fair, and far kinder than I’ve known the Lannisters to be.”  She looked away from Harry’s kind eyes.  “He tries to protect me from Joffery.”  She admitted in a rush.  “I can feel that I’m due to flower soon…I don’t want to have to leave here but I’m terrified at the thought of marrying that…that…”

“It won’t come to that Sansa.”  Harry soothed her immediately before she could become overwrought.  “Your place here is important, yes, but there are other ways to gain the knowledge I need if necessary.  You don’t have to stay and marry that creature if you flower before Jon lays siege to King’s Landing.  You have my word.”

“Thank you, Lord Harry.”  She gave him a brilliant smile, blue eyes shining.  “You’re very good to me.”  She blushed a moment before letting go of his hands and rising, crossing over to her chest and removing a token from it, holding it out to him.  “I was there when Varys reported that you’d been made Lord of the Iron Islands.”  She explained, pointing to the sigil embroidered on the red silk kerchief.  “I made this for you in thanks for the protection you’ve extended to me and those of my family.”

“It’s my honor, Lady Sansa.”  Harry thanked her with a short bow, rubbing a thumb over the fine stitches.  “I don’t think I’ve ever owned something with such fine stitches.  I’ll take good care of it, and show it off to your brother and cousin when I return to them.”

“Here.”  She rushed back over having rummaged through her chest once more, taking out a few other smaller items like the kerchief she gave him.  “I made these for Robb and Jon…”  She looked down at her hands bashfully.  “It gives me something to help control myself when I have to join Queen Cersei and the other ladies in the solar for needlepoint.”

“I’ll make sure they get them, I promise.”  Harry chucked her under the chin.  “Now,” his tone firmed.  “I’m about to make quite the scene and meet with the small council and possibly the Lannister brat and his mother.  If summoned will you be able to treat me as you should?  As a stranger and traitor to the crown?”

“I think so Lord Harry.”  Sansa said, eyes hardening with resolve.  “If I’m summoned I shall do my best or simply keep my eyes lowered, that’s all they expect from me anyway.”  Her last words were tinged with bitterness at the disregard and disdain she was shown by her captors.

“There’s the she-wolf.”  Harry gave a small smile.  “Speaking of which.”  Harry remembered a scene he’d been shown by Death, one that he was quite confidant hadn’t been overridden by his changing of Wyrd.  “A particular direwolf female as started leading her pack towards Riverrun, perhaps to rendezvous with another of her errant packmates?”

“Arya?”  Sansa gasped, hands rising to her mouth as if to keep her words quiet.  “She’s safe?”

“Well,” Harry had to equivocate a bit on that.  “She’s alive, and that’s more than I can say for many who are in that war-torn area.  She’s making steady progress North, and is in interesting company.  I’m sure she’ll make it back into your family’s loving arms in due time.”  He laughed a little.  “I’d go myself and fetch her but I doubt she’d take my word for it, and with time being what it is, so long as she’s somewhat safe and alive, it’s best to let her and her companions travel North alone.”

“If you say so, Lord Harry.”  Sansa nodded her head trustingly.

“Now remember:” he cautioned her.  “I must be a stranger to you.  My arrival was too well-known for us to pass off previous acquaintance...”

They talked for a few more moments before Harry melted back into the shadows, recasting his disillusionment charm and patting the amulet he wore in the capitol to make sure it was tucked away and out of sight before Apparating back to the Kingswood where he’d left a horse rented from a nearby manse.  Harry didn’t want to have to worry about Apparating both himself and a horse all over Westeros, and no horse he’d ever seen would allow a dragon to carry it in its claws, not even Harry in his dragon Animagus form.  A flick of his wand and the plain saddle blanket was replaced with on in the blood-red of House Targaryen, the simple tack Transfigured into fine leather and steel, and a pole and banner were conjured with the duel banners of House Targaryen and Jon’s personal sigil, a plain white flag flying beneath the two banners.

Mounting up, he galloped from the tree line and to the gates of the city, reining in his horse in a dramatic spectacle of a rearing plunge, calling out to the Gold Cloaks manning the wall above the Gate of the Gods:

“Lord Harry Potter-Black, Lord of the Iron Islands, envoy of the rightful King Jon Targaryen, the first of his name, requests admittance to the city and the Red Keep to treat with Lord Tyrion Lannister, Hand of the King to discuss the ransom and exchange of prisoners acquired through the recent offensives.”

Harry figured the words would get extremely garbled as he kept his seat on the prancing horse, on hand resting lightly on the banner, the other deceptively on his thigh, his wand hidden by the flowing lines of his cloak and tunic.

If they thought to take him prisoner without ado, they would find it much harder if not outright-impossible to accomplish than anticipated.

He might be entertained to see them try though, he mused to himself as after a long wait that neared torturous in its boredom outside of having curious citizens peeking around the open gates or over the walls to get a good look at the first person with the balls to fly Targaryen colors in more than a decade within sight of King’s Landing or any Baratheon holding.

Some appeared more excited than others, though all seemed at least thoughtful at the sight of him.

King’s Landing, after all, had been built by the Targaryens and had been their home for more than two centuries, the common-folk there often enjoying long periods of peace and prosperity.

That Tywin Lannister’s men had sacked the city: raping, burning, pillaging, and murdering their way through both the Targaryens and everyone else inside its walls, and then been rewarded for it, certainly hadn’t endeared either the Lannisters or the Baratheons to the populace of King’s Landing.

A fact that had recently been driven home when the starving small-folk rioted against the Gold Cloaks, Kingsguard, and royal court, killing over a dozen men and women in the process both low and high born.

Rumor had it that the High Septon was one of those who narrowly escaped with his life in hand – though his purse had been considerably lightened.

All to the better for their cause in Harry’s opinion, if the small-folk were fed up with their greedy clergy.

It would pave the way for a further tightening of the restrictions as far as the Faith of the Seven was concerned.  The clergy had become corrupted from being men of service and faith to accepting bribes and lusting for power as well as other sins decried in their holy text.  That they sneered at the old gods and “heathen” magic only fed Harry’s and Jon’s determination to pare down their power in Westeros.

Before he’d been waiting long enough for it to be considered an actual offense against an envoy rather than a showy snub, a small squad of Gold Cloaks headed by a massive man in all white – one of the false Kingsguard Harry had no doubt, most likely Sandor Clegane based on the man’s size – riding a snorting destrier in all black, came forward and surrounded him.  A tubby, balding man who was puffed up on his own importance sneered at Harry, spitting at his horse’s hooves, saying:

“You’re to be escorted to the Throne Room, Lord Potter-Black, envoy of the pretender to the Throne.”

“Strong words,” Harry observed, “for a man who can’t keep peace in a single city: Janos Slynt Captain of the City Guard.”  He arched a brow when the mounted man choked back a gruff snort.  “Unless I’m mistaken as to your identity guardsman?”

With that final word, drawled in his best Malfoy-esque I’m-better-than-you tone, Harry cowed the Gold Cloaks but also felt himself become of much greater interest to the infamous Lannister “Dog”.  Which could be a good thing or a bad thing considering Harry captured the man’s brother for Jon, directly leading to the man’s beheading.  Rumor had it that the two: Mountain and Dog, loathed the very sight of each other, even to the point of fratricide.  That didn’t however mean that the Dog would be complacent over another killing his kin.

Families could be peculiar like that in Harry’s experience.

He’d seen it for himself play out in Britain’s second war against Voldemort, families who couldn’t stand to breathe the same air banding together against an external threat.

Whether the Cleganes were the same only time would tell…likely by Harry either having to fight off an enraged Dog…or not.

“Your sword.”  The puce-faced Slynt demanded.

Ah.  He’d had it right then, he decided when the man didn’t deny Harry’s educated guess.  Good to know.

Harry gave a rakish smile, crossing his wrists over the saddle pommel, unobtrusively tucking his wand away and responded: “Over my dead and decaying body will you take my weaponry, Captain Slynt.”  His smile became a smirk.  “What with riots and Valyrian steel swords of legend such as Ice going missing in King’s Landing, and all.  You understand.”

“You can’t enter the city…”  Slynt began to splutter, his words cut short by Clegane speaking up in his rough way.

“Shut up, fat man.”  Sandor Clegane commanded as his destrier danced a bit over the lack of movement.  “He is to enter by order of the King.  The Gold Cloaks can protect the city from one man, can’t you?”

With that, Clegane set spurs to his mount’s sides, Harry following a pace as the City Watch scrambled after them, unable to keep up on foot with the mounted riders.

As they rode through the streets, Harry would reach into his purse every few strides and toss out golden dragons that had the Targaryen sigil on one side and Jon’s face in profile on the other with the words: ‘Fire and Blood’ surrounding the dragon and ‘King Jon I Targaryen’ around his profile, fashioned via his will and power as his vaults responded to his wishes.  He also tossed out silver “stags” only the coinage while being of the correct weight and size were engraved and embossed with the Stark sigil and words on one side and with the combination of Jon’s name and profile on the other.  It was a blatant attempt at buying the good-will of the public but Harry knew full-well the value of good press – and the cost of bad.

To paraphrase one of his favorite movies from his old world: The mob is power.  The mob rules Rome, and as one controls the mob, they control everything.

King’s Landing reminded Harry all too well of Ancient Rome only without the white-washing of the Senate to allow even the idea of the small-folk having a say in their own governance.

Spying a group of too-thin children begging in Fishmonger’s Square as he and Clegane clattered all down River Row before taking a left turn onto the Hook which would lead to the main entrance of the Red Keep rather than a postern door off the second half of River Row, Harry centered his pack between his thighs and gave with both hands as he used to legs to guide his rented horse, tossing out some of his stored provisions summoned to hand: dried apples and other fruit he’d seen in peddler’s carts and served at table in Riverrun, loaves of bread still good from when he’d baked them before applying preservation charms, and even dried meats and aged cheeses.  To his concern, the children fought more over the food than they did the coins.  Things had deteriorated quite a bit in the city for that to be the case.

The small-folk were hard pressed from the Roseroad being blockaded, Renly Baratheon was doing a fine job of starving his would-be people and causing havoc, as the riot had proven.

But when people fought over food given with free hand more than coin in a city of a half-million people, things were in dire straits indeed.

He’d have to think on the issue.  There may be something he or Jon or even the River Lords could do to help the starving small-folk.  And it would only heighten the pro-Targaryen sentiment growing in the city.

After all…apparently Stannis knew a good smuggler.  Maybe Ser Davos could give him the name of someone interested in a bit of coin in exchange for helping the common man and woman in King’s Landing.  Lifting the sea blockade by Lord Manderley would never do.  No.  While it would help the small-folk it would benefit the Lannister-led nobility in the city more – and that was very much contrary to what Jon wanted to happen here.

It was a tangle, and one that he would seek to unwind…when he had a moment to spare.

Which, to his own dismay, was not this moment as he should be preparing himself to deal with a pompous arse of a would-be villain and his minders.

Though Joffery from all accounts was giving becoming an actual evil tyrant his all, even if he did lack the brain cells necessary to climb the evil-careers ladder from tyrant to mastermind, or even villain.

No the first was most definitely the province of his grandfather with the latter reserved for his oh-so-loving mother.

Joffery was a psychopath from what Harry could tell, but he was also a thug for all his illusion of power.  More Crabbe than Riddle, thank Death.  One sociopathic, intelligent, megalomaniac is more than enough for two lifetimes.  He could do without finding another in Westeros, whether this theoretical-second-Tom had magic or not.

The real problem Harry would face here was in the real power that ruled the Iron Throne at the moment: the Queen Regent and the Small Council.

They reined to a halt in the yard of the Red Keep, Harry casting a discrete protection, anti-theft, and anti-tampering spells on his mount…not that he thought he would actually end up getting back to it any time soon.  He wasn’t a fool; he knew it was more than plausible that he would have to use magic to leave the Red Keep given recent history.  But, just in case, he made it so his rented horse was safe and the spells would wear off after twelve hours.  If he didn’t return to it by then, then it would be free to return to its master.

And while he could have used magic to pop into the Great Hall and make the spoiled brat sitting on the Iron Throne soil his breeches, he was trying for discretion, as amazing as that would seem to…well…just about everyone who knew him before he killed the Dark Lord.

The less the Lannisters, and everyone else, knew about his abilities and their limits the better he liked it.

Harry had definitely had cause to unleash his “inner-Slytherin” since waking up in Westeros.

He had a feeling Tom would be rather proud of him, if Albus less so.

Ironic, that, as it was Dumbledore’s shaping him into a powerful weapon that gave him purpose in Westeros.  After all, like the Sword of Gryffindor hanging useless and near-forgotten in his secret vault, what good was a weapon, was Harry, if it/he wasn’t being used?  If, as for all the years of this epoch and however many others came between his sleeping and his waking, he remained frozen in time of no more use than a sword left to rust away for want of blooding.

Jon had given Harry a purpose again, but more than that, he did what Albus tried so hard to accomplish and Tom tried so hard to prevent: he gave him a motivation beyond simple purpose of thought and action.

His friends and lost family had been his motivation, once.

Justice, revenge, love; all had been wielded by him as both sword against his enemies and shield for those he sought to protect.

In that way, both Albus and Tom had known him well.

As long as Harry had someone or something he sought to protect, he was one of the most formidable enemies you could make.

Molly knew him well too, using that same deep well of emotion and protection against him by using Teddy and his wellbeing and inheritance in the Wizarding World to secure Harry’s compliance when otherwise he might have fought – and more terrifying yet – won once more.

Before he could lose himself further into his thoughts, riding and tossing coin and food by rote as his body managed on auto-pilot as his mind was distracted, they arrived at the portcullis of the Red Keep, Clegane riding first through the deadly tunnel richly littered with murder-holes and down-spouts for boiling oil and wildfire, Harry and his borrowed mount just on his heels before both reined to a stop beside the red-stone stairs leading up to the wide double entrance banded in black iron that yawned wide, welcoming them like a gaping maw leading to unknown horrors.

Four more members of the Kingsguard were lined up waiting for Clegane to arrive with Harry in tow, much to the wizard’s amusement.  They were more concerned with a show of force and trying to intimidate Jon’s envoy that they left Joffery and the rest of the royal family with only a pair of Kingsguard to keep them safe, though Cersei did have a retinue of Lannister guardsmen known as “Red Cloaks” that Tywin had given her for her protection upon her marriage to Robert.  Of the two, from what Barristan had relayed, the Red Cloaks were likely more effective and dangerous than the Kingsguard.

If for no other reason than Cersei regularly fucked them to keep them happy and loyal.

Poor Jaime had been distraught when Harry had gone to see him, the wizard showing no compunction about ripping away the pretty golden knight’s extremely naïve view of his treacherous twin sister.

The poor deluded fool had actually believed Cersei saved herself for him alone, outside of her rapes via her husband of course.

Honestly.

How could anyone raised by Tywin Lannister, and surviving a pair of kings while a Kingsguard whilst living in and among the royal courts, be that blind?

Love, Harry supposed.

He’d always thought that rather than love being blind, it was self-deluding.

People didn’t want to know or believe in their loved one’s faults so they willfully ignored all evidence that ran contrary to their own personal beliefs regarding that person.

It was an interesting – and idiotic – phenomena that Harry had seen over and over in the Wizarding World in the furor and first blush following Voldemort’s downfall.  Everyone and their brother rushing to-and-fro “falling in love” and marrying within weeks or even days.  To no surprise, he’d also seen an increase in wizarding marriage counselors and divorce solicitors in the years following the glut of victory-weddings.

The “Old Guard” of the Wizarding World had been scandalized – no matter which side of the conflict they’d originally fought on – over the relatively new professions.

Harry’d been entertained for weeks when he’d noticed it, much to Blaise’s own amusement.

“Come.”  Clegane barked out when they’d both dismounted, the other members of the Kingsguard falling in around them like an amalgamation of an honor guard and a prisoner escort.

They didn’t try and take his weapons, unlike the Gold Cloaks, the oldest among them exchanging a quick glance with Clegane before giving an abrupt nod and falling in line.

Interesting.

Clegane wielded more power in the Red Keep than Harry would have thought.

Though it made sense.

Those that cowered among the Court here did so either in pursuit of power or from fear of reprisals – either on the part of the Lannisters or one of the claimants to the Throne.  To them, Clegane would be a fierce sight indeed.  Favored by the petulant boy-king, his House long having served the Lannisters, and now the head of said house with his brother’s capture and execution – despite his oaths against such things when he joined the Kingsguard.  And above all, strong, one of the only men able to stand against his dead brother but with a discipline the Mountain had lacked.

A trained attack dog versus a rabid one held back by only the thinnest of chains.

Yes, Harry could see why Clegane’s “sworn brothers” feared him, as well as why Lady Sansa seemed to in turn fear and respect him.

They walked in silence save for the clank of the Kingsguards’ armor and their boots on the stones of the Keep, Harry’s own softer-soled footwear designed for stealth and speed making no noise at all in comparison.

Before long, they led him into a hall with tall narrow windows marching along the entirety of the stone and marble walls on either side of the cavernous room.  It could easily fit a thousand souls inside of it to Harry’s canny eye, though much less than that number were present.  Shining marble floors and pillars shone in the light from the torches on polished silver holders, massive tapestries hanging where Jon’s stories of dragon skulls used to reside.  And at the end, a wide iron dais with narrow stairs, upon which a truly ugly throne fashioned from swords and dragonfire sat, a much comelier lady’s chair made of soft golden-sheened wood with red-and-gold cushions beside it.

An uglier version of Draco Malfoy sat upon the Iron Throne, a sneer marring what might have been an attractive face despite the unfortunate pointiness it had, his eyes a bit too close together and a weak shade of green rather than Malfoy’s refined features and striking silver eyes.

Joffery Waters.  Harry thought to himself.  We meet at last.

At his side in the lady’s chair sat a lovely woman who had aged well and still retained much of her younger beauty who could only be Cersei Lannister, the whelp’s bitch of a mother.

Much like Joffery’s weak resemblance to Draco, Cersei’s blondeness and haughty looks were a poor version of Narcissa to Harry’s mind.

She lacked somewhat in comparison to that mother-viper who could – and did – defy even a Dark Lord to protect her child, while never so much as dirtying her hem in the process, coming out of the second war as pristine and proud as she’d gone into it.  Cersei had little of that same dignity for all her airs.  A mummer’s Queen to Aerys’ mummer’s dragon.  More Gryffindor than Slytherin, this one, despite her high sense of her own value and abilities.

The red lines marring her nose under her powder didn’t help his impression of her.

Though, Harry had to concede, if he’d been married to Robert Baratheon he’d likely have taken to drink and affairs as well.

Harry turned his head to the handful of audience members present: the Small Council and Cersei’s few ladies, Sansa included; breaking himself of the ghosts of his former life for the moment.

They’ll be back in time, he knew.

They always came back, and in all likelihood always would.  Despite all the years and nightmares and waking dreams between him and them, they still were all he had to compare, though as time passed and more of what he heard in his waking-sleep was assimilated he was able to draw forward recollections of others.

Others, such as Bran the Builder and those who came before him into his tomb, and those such as Benjen Stark who came to speak to the still figures of those who came before.

Sometime he would have to tell Jon of just how very much his parents had been in love.  There was a melancholy around Benjen, and an air that his memories of the Ranger speaking to Rhaegar’s statue had, that told him Benjen didn’t speak much of his relationship with Jon’s father to his son.  It was too painful for the man, from what Harry could tell, much like it had pained Severus to speak of Harry’s mother and Remus to speak of any of them.

Jon knew his parents had loved each other, of course he did.  But that knowledge was tainted at least in part, by everything that had come after.  By his father’s death, Robert’s Rebellion, and his bearer having to hide within the Night’s Watch, lest someone look a bit too hard at Jon’s own parentage.  Buried under such stressors as those, it came as no surprise that the first thing Jon thought when it came to his parents was that his father had been killed by Robert and his bearer had hidden to keep him safe – no mention of love at all.

But then, in Westeros, love is often an afterthought if it’s thought of at all.

It was almost similar to England and Western Europe in the Dark Ages just before the rise of the Middle Ages and the ideal of “courtly love.”

An interesting period to Harry since it revolved around the adulation of adultery versus honor and duty.

Tyrion Lannister was everything and nothing like Harry had expected, more solemn than in Jon’s recitations of his time spent in the “Imp’s” company but also more restrained and less of a “disgrace” than he’d heard jests made of the man known as “Lord Tywin’s Bane.”

Grand Maester Pycelle, on the other hand, as well as Petyr Baelish and Varys the Spider, were all as he’d remembered from his previous visit that included much sneaking about.  Though the bright light shining through the many windows did none of them any favors, it highlighting each and every flaw in Pycelle’s crepe-paper skin, Baelish’s dissolute eyes and face, and Varys’ powdered and pampered excess.  In this, Cersei showed her feminine skills, only showing a little worse for the unforgiving light than she would in the soft and forgiving glow of fine beeswax candles.

Sansa, with her youthful looks, had no fear of sunlight save for that it might mar her pale skin with a freckle or two.

After a glance from Harry and a wave from Cersei, Lady Sansa stepped forward to announce him as the only other member of the Stark-Targaryen alliance present in the Red Keep – as far as the court knew at least.  She at least knew of his titles and appointments from the criers who had alerted the pretender to the throne and his council of his presence outside the Gates.  Any other knowledge she had of him would have to be well-concealed as Cersei and Joffery had acted as he and Sansa had thought they might by demanding her presence during his audience before Joffery, the “Queen Regent”, and the Small Council.

“Your Graces and members of the Small Council.”  Sansa spoke in her clear soprano, head lifted high but eyes focused well over crowns adorning a pair of golden heads.  “May I present the Lord Harry Potter-Black, Lord Paramount of the Iron Islands, and envoy of Jon Targaryen, first of his name.”

“Lord Paramount of the Iron Islands?”  Joffery scoffed his derision doing little good for either his looks or his whiny voice.  “By whose order?  Certainly not Ours nor the Throne’s, Pretender-Lord Potter-Black.”

“My son…”  Cersei immediately jumped into the fray to try and smooth over the outlandish display of bad manners in her faux-sweet-and-proper way only to be cut off by a dry drawl in an accent none of them save Sansa had ever heard before.

“You will find, child.”  Harry arched a brow at the bratling as he spoke.  “That as my King currently controls over half of the Seven Kingdoms that what he has to say carries much more weight than that of whatever ass warms that rather ugly chair.  If I were you, child.”  He gave the creature the cut-direct, turning so that he faced Tyrion fully and only his profile was towards the brat and his mother.  “I would be silent before your loose tongue costs you more than even your noble grandsire can afford to pay.”

“You?!”  Joffery bit off before his mother’s suddenly-dagger-like claws on his arm shut him up, a fiery warning in her spring-green eyes and the slight shake of her head.

“Now.”  Harry nodded with proper deference to the current Hand, Lord Tyrion.  “Perhaps we could discuss the reason we’re all here and that of all those many many ravens sent between King’s Landing and Riverrun?”

“Very well, Lord Potter-Black.”  Tyrion stepped forward, his face no longer shadowed by patches of grey and black cast by the Iron Throne as he descended a single step to face Harry head-on.  “Let’s.  Prisoner exchange and ransom.”  Tyrion waved a grandiose hand.  “We have some of your men and knights and Lords, you have some of ours.  What will it take to afford ransom or exchange, for say,” he gave a charming smile.  “My brother Jaime?”

“An act of the gods.”  Harry shot back with a wry, knowing smirk, eyes alight with entertainment.  Yes.  Tyrion Lannister was much more than rumor would have him, even more than Jon had seen and his royal lover was quite excellent at finding the usefulness of other men.  Where Tywin saw his bane, Jon saw an excellent manipulator and skilled political mind wanting only a purpose.  Tyrion had one, at the moment, in attempting to prove his worth to an undeserving family and House.  Time would tell if Harry or Jon could offer him a better one in turn.

“My Jaime…!”  Cersei began only to be cut off once more.

Harry had no intention of entertaining either her or her son, and had no problems showing it.  “Come now.”  He rolled his eyes in an overblown manner, holding out his arms wide from his sides.  “Let us not act as fools before each other.  The only thing keeping the illustrious and infamous Tywin prowling behind the gates of Harrenhal instead of scratching at the gates of Riverrun is Jaime’s golden head – especially with the nasty precedent set by your own Lannister kin regarding hostages.”  Harry’s smirk turned vicious, more a baring of teeth than a quirk of his lips.  “It is a tenuous status-quo but its working for the moment: we have your Jaime.  You have our Sansa.  We won’t attempt to take King’s Landing.  You won’t attempt to move further North than Harrenhal.”  Harry clapped his hands together.  “And as long as our beloved Sansa is safe there is no reason to fear for Jaime’s pretty golden head, no matter how much the Northern lords bay for his blood.  Clear?”

“Crystal.”  Tyrion bit out, hands tapping thoughtfully against his tunic, his green eyes shooting out another warning at Joffery when he saw the boy start to open his mouth from the corner of his eye.

“Not to interrupt…”  Varys spoke, all knowing full-well that he was intending just that.  “However, I am still puzzling over your claim, Lord Potter-Black of the Iron Islands, that your king Jon Targaryen has taken over half of the kingdoms?”  Varys tittered behind his fan.  “The North is large, yes, but it alone does not make up half of the Seven Kingdoms in anything other than size.”

The wizard among them was patently amused at his lack of information, as was the Imp if he was reading the Imp right. 

“You’re slipping Master of Whispers.”  Baelish looked a strange cross between gleeful and mortified.  “By my count the Targaryen claimant controls the North, half the Riverlands, the Iron Islands, a bulk of the Crownlands, and Dorne if I’m not mistaken.”  Baelish smirked, his voice soft.  “Coin never lies: and none of them have paid their taxes since the start of hostilities between Jaime Lannister and the Starks.”

They didn’t know about the Vale.  Harry mused to himself, gaze unfocused for a split-second as he processed the omission.  Let’s keep it that way…for the moment.  It would be hard to conceal after all, the first time Tywin’s troops and patrols ran into Vale men in the Riverlands keeping him from moving North or East.

But for the moment at least…none of the little birds in the Eyrie were singing.

Jon’s visits there had borne more fruit than they’d thought, alongside his inheriting the Lordship in the wake of Lysa’s infidelity and attempted line-theft.

Speaking of line-theft…

“If we cannot come to an accord over the cessation of hostilities,” a foregone conclusion to Tyrion’s eyes.  “Or prisoner exchange, then why, pray tell, are you here Lord Potter-Black?”

Tyrion gave him the opening he’d been waiting for.

Reaching in and removing a sealed scroll with a flourish, he handed it over to the Hand, as there currently as no Master of Laws in King’s Landing in the wake of Renly’s grab for the Throne.

“We may not agree on much, such as who should rule,” Harry’s voice was semi-exasperated with Renly Baratheon and more than half-way sarcastic.  Tyrion could learn to like the cheeky fellow…if they weren’t on opposite sides of an ever-bloodier war.  “But in one thing at least Jon I Targaryen, King of the Seven Kingdoms and the pretender-to-the-Throne Renly Baratheon, so-called King of Highgarden are agreed, as is Renly’s brother Stannis, the new Lord of Storm’s End: that charges must be brought against the pretender Joffery Waters and his traitorous mother the Pretender-Regent Cersei of House Lannister.”

“Charges?”  Grand Maester Pycelle gasped in his croaking voice as Cersei shrieked and Joffery turned an interesting shade of plum as her nails dug into his arm at reminded Harry sharply of Vernon Dursley at his most irate.

“Charges.”  Tyrion echoed in disbelief, clever eyes scanning the document in his hands – written in High Valyrian no less! – that he’d broken the two seals on.

One was the Baratheon Stag favored by Renly, the other the three-headed dragon of House Targaryen.

His almost-friend Jon had been busy indeed.

“Of what kind?”  Cersei finally composed herself enough to ask through her frozen polite-lady mask.

“Line theft.”  Harry said in a calm tone that irritated more than any amount of smugness or gloating could have done.  “Treason, and adultery.”  Though he did clarify: “The charge of Adultery is against both Cersei and Jaime Lannister, as well as Cersei’s known lovers Lancel Lannister and the others, many others listed in the scroll.  Joffery Waters is charged with both line-theft and treason as well as murder.”  Emerald eyes gleamed as a cloud cast shadows over his handsome features, giving him a sinister mien.  “As he has no claim to the Throne, the Lannister line being utterly devoid of Targaryen blood, Joffery had no authority to order Lord Eddard Stark’s death among the host of others he’s commanded.  They are therefore ruled murders under the laws of Westeros and Old Valyria – and he shall be made to pay for them.”

“I’ve entertained.”  Joffery exploded.  “This farce long enough!  Guards!”  He shrieked.  “Seize him!”

Harry through back his head and laughed in delight.

Perfect.  He couldn’t have planned that reaction better if he’d tried.

With a flex of his will at the sound of swords leaving scabbards and the Kingsguard moving to circle him, Harry knocked them back with no more effort than he would have used to manually swat aside a fly buzzing around his head, the Kingsguard collapsing like paper-soldiers, falling onto their backs on the marble floor, only Sandor Clegane managing to regain his feet before Harry took his leave.

“Consider this your warning.”  Harry clapped twice and all the torches burned high, catching alight the many heavy tapestries that glorified Robert Baratheon, his rebellion and rule.  “The Trident has been reclaimed: the Lannister forces pushed back beyond the safety of the Golden Tooth and southron to Harrenhal.  Meanwhile Renly Baratheon comes for the Iron Throne his brother’s hammer and their shared Targaryen heritage won.  Of dust and ashes all men come, and to dust and ashes all return.  All must pay for their sins in the end.  And the time for the Lannisters to pay their debts has come due.”

Twisting on the spot, Harry disappeared with a great and showy crack! Leaving Tyrion and the rest to run from the blazing room, shouting orders for the guards and servants to put out the fire before the entire Keep went up in flames.

“Well.”  Tyrion Lannister mused to himself, after returning to the Tower of the Hand and opening a flagon of Arbor gold to share with his near-constant companion the sell-sword Bronn, who had kept to the shadows and out of his bitch sister’s sight during the confrontation.  “That was delightfully dramatic.  I must applaud this Lord Harry’s ability to set Cersei and Joffery into simultaneous histrionics: even if his choice of doing so has left the unfortunate stench of burnt wool and silk in the Great Hall.”

“Aye.”  Bronn tipped his goblet towards his friend and employer in casual agreement.  “That’ll take weeks or more to air out it will.”

“Yes.”  The Imp gave a vicious smirk of savage enjoyment.  He was sure Cersei was going to run up one hells of a bill for their father to pay with the candlemaker in an attempt to cover the scent.  Too bad it wasn’t one that was so easily cast aside, much like the man, wizard?, sorcerer?, who caused it.  “I rather think it will at that.”

The two clinked glasses in mocking toast to Lord Harry getting one over on Cersei in such an oblique way.  Tyrion found himself rather enjoying the man’s style.  Much like that of the King he served.  He had had some interesting discussions with the then-Jon Snow.

But of all the intrigues and the secrets and the mummer’s farces that had played out during the sixteen years between Rhaegar’s death and Robert’s ascent to the Iron Throne, Tyrion believed that the one he found himself appreciating the most wasn’t that of Jon Targaryen to play the irate-shamed-rebellious-bastard-son to such a perfect degree but rather that of his Uncle Eddard.

How much had it scourged him to know, having seen it with his own eyes, that his former foster-brother and best-friend would do the same to his nephew as Tyrion’s father had had done to Elia’s babes?

How much had it chafed at his honor to have to hide and lie about the life of said nephew in order to protect him, even so it was rumored, to the point of faking the deaths of several of Aerys’s Kingsguard?

How disappointed had Ned Stark been when faced with the truth of Robert Baratheon, and the lust for power that seemed to run right alongside the fiery temper that was the hallmark of Targaryen blood, blood that his best friend swore to stamp out root-and-branch, despite the utter hypocrisy of Robert being of Targaryen blood himself?

How much had all this and so much more hurt Eddard Stark for the man often thought of as too honorable, too proud, too stiff-necked to dabble in such devices as deceit and deception, too much a Northman the Stark of House Stark, to bring him to play the southron Game of Thrones?

Tyrion was no fool, and if there was anything he understood it was politics having studied the ways of his father, of Robert, of the Targaryen dynasty and the ways of the eastern continent.  Tyrion had a voracious appetite for all things – knowledge and learning included.  And no conquest began as well and true as Jon Targaryen’s without ample preparations, preparations that had to be seeded and sown years before their harvest, such as Targaryen was currently in the process of doing with his great Targaryen army filled to brimming with men of the North, the River lands, the Crown lands, even the Dornish and with Lord Harry’s actions the bloody Ironborn!  No.  All that – or at least much of it – stank of years of talks and plans and secret meetings, things that in the beginning Jon Targaryen was much too young to be part of except, perhaps, as a rallying point and central unifying symbol.

People, both noble, small-folk, and that tenuous station betwixt and between those two, had had one thing in common after Robert’s Rebellion, even more so after Greyjoy’s Folly and years of Robert’s rule: they bloody hated Robert Baratheon and how he let Cersei and Tywin run roughshod over him and in turn the people.

Robert could win a war but he couldn’t win the hearts and minds of the mob, a talent Jon and his Lord Harry were already showing in abundance, only matched, perhaps, in their ability thus by Renly Baratheon.

And then there was stiff-necked-Stannis.

Tyrion would have bet his dragons on the stern former Lord of Dragonstone and current Lord of Storm’s End declaring for himself and fighting his own side to the already-complex clash of kings.

However, something, and Tyrion was willing to wager it was more along the lines of someone had turned Stannis’s eyes away from trying to take the Throne for himself and instead, the just Lord of Dragonstone had thrown his not-inconsiderable power and might behind his second cousin Jon Targaryen.

“We live in interesting times, Bronn.”  Tyrion observed almost to himself.

“Aye, that we do.”  Bronn finished the dregs in his cup before setting it down on the table with a thud, reaching with his uncontained zest for life for the flagon to refill it.  “Best figure out how to survive them, then.”

“Just so, my friend.”  Tyrion chuckled darkly, eyes glinting with wicked delight.  “Just so.”

Illyrio Mopatis watched with shock and no-little-amount of despair as a seeming-unending stream of sell-swords smashed through his manse’s walls upon the backs of armored elephants or poured through the gates both on foot and mounted horse.

Truly, when he’d heard that the Golden Company had severed their contract with Myr as hostilities began to heat between the three city-states of Myr, Tyrosh, and Pentos, he’d been a bit…concerned but not overly worried.

Homeless Harry was still his ally, he’d assured himself.

They were simply preparing to agree to his current plan of action and sail to Pentos to make ready for Daenerys’s inevitable return to the safety of his home.  After all, he’d been nothing but supportive of her and her beggar-king brother, why wouldn’t the simple, biddable girl return to his protection?  And that, he feared, was where his plans had begun to fall apart.

Viserys Targaryen had never been intended to take the Iron Throne, not in any of Illyrio’s many, many contingencies.

No, all along the true plan behind the wealthy merchant’s helping hand and “wise” guidance to the Targaryen siblings was to secure an army of Dothraki via Daenerys’s marriage to Khal Drogo, have them meet up with the Golden Company, and have that stunning combination of might and strategy sweep through Westeros like a tide, defeating all who opposed them.

Drogo, of course, would inevitably fall in battle, either to an honest soldier or knight having a very good day or to an assassin’s blade, it didn’t make any difference to Illyrio which, Viserys meeting much the same end only much sooner, leaving Daenerys the clear Heiress to the Iron Throne.

Illyrio had cursed the air blue and kicked any slave that crossed his path for a week or more when news of Drogo’s poisoning via a godswife and witch, reached his ears.

Without Drogo, there was no army to be had beyond the Golden Company.

And yet, with Daenerys somehow hatching the dragon eggs he’d given her, there was still hope to salvage the mess.

If only his men and spies could find the damned girl!

All the while, ravens and whispers had reached him, coming in flocks and droves from the shores of Westeros.

Targaryen blood.  Said the whispers.

A true heir to the Iron Throne.  Read the ravens.

At that moment, confirming that news, Illyrio had felt his blood chill and the dream he grasped for: the one that led him to wedding with a Lysene courtesan who had the blood of Aerion Brightflame in her veins instead of the girl he loved at his mother’s urging, the dream that Nerys Mopatis born of the blood of Blackfyre had whispered in her son’s ear from the cradle, the dream of retaking the Iron Throne for the blood of Daemon Blackfyre, who was a Targaryen twice-over; shatter and crumble before him.

Still, Illyrio allowed himself to cling to the scattered shards of a once-firm and fine plan.

Aegon still believed himself the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, and now Daenerys was (while it was much earlier than planned) a widow.

Wedding Daenerys would silence any who would throw doubt on Aegon’s claim, Illyrio’s trueborn son and penultimate achievement could still take the Iron Throne.

And that was the new goal Illyrio Mopatis schemed and worked towards, with help from his good friend Varys, sending out more and more trackers to find Daenerys and spies to discover just what Connington and his comrades in the Golden Company were up to.

Until, that is, he found the Golden Company himself.

Or rather…the Golden Company found him.

Illyrio could do naught but watch, locked away in his secured rooms and peering out from the thinnest of windows, windows that a man of his bulk could never hope to disappear through.  What was a simple precaution in case of attack became his undoing, as his “secure” failsafe locked him inside…when a wise man would be fleeing, slipping away under the assault of the feared Golden Company.  Even Illyrio’s highly trained and so-very-expensive band of Unsullied were no match against the sheer numbers the sell-swords brought to bear.  And there, leading the charge alongside Harry Strickland and Jon Connington, was his prized achievement cutting down one after another of his father’s guards, though Illyrio supposed he could forgive that offense alone, as his handsome, strong Aegon had no idea that he’d taken up arms against his own blood.

As far as his perfect heir and accomplishment was concerned, Illyrio was just another rich merchant that had somehow gotten on the bad side of his friends in the Golden Company.

There was no reason for any of that force ten-thousand strong to believe otherwise.

Gods knew, if Harry Strickland or Jon Connington had any idea of the true depths of Illyrio’s scheming, they would have come for his head much sooner than sixteen years after he’d first set his plans in motion with the successful breeding of his expensively-bought wife with the blood of Aerion Brightflame running through her dirty, pillow-house born veins.

Serra, of no known father, a bastard born of bastards for several generations until that of Aerion Targaryen, known as both Aerion Brightflame and Aerion the Monstrous, had done her duty by him and given him a trueborn son with rich and ripe Targaryen looks.

He had no use of her thereafter and quickly disposed of her, lest his machinations reach the ears of the then-living Targaryen dynasty, as small as it had shrunk.

Rhaegar would have stayed his hand and allowed the boy to live had Illyrio’s plotting been discovered, taking only the merchant’s wealthy head.

Aerys would have had no such compunction or compassion, and would have had the deed done, either by the hand of one of his supporters or through a bought blade from the Faceless Men.

Despite the fact that it was against him, Illyrio couldn’t help but feel pride as he watched Aegon cut through guard after guard, until he and the others breeched the walls of Illyrio’s Pentosi palace, and thereby moved out of Illyrio’s sight.

Leaving the cheesemonger with only one thing left to do: hope and pray that the leaders of the Golden Company would hear him out…rather than following their usual ways and simply taking his head and be done with it.

And it was on the likelihood of that matter that Illyrio spent the rest of the siege of his home contemplating, leaving the shards of his broken plans and plots to rot in the past, much like all those of the Blackfyres who came before him.

Aegon studied the fat man with a canny eye and a head cocked like a curious puppy as he circled the Pentosi merchant who Tristan Rivers had found cowering in his own sweat and piss in a secured room, no bigger than a closet, hidden in the far reaches of an empty portion of the man’s manse.

They may never have found him, were it not for the tracking abilities of the Riverlands bastard and outlaw who used to use those self-same abilities to escape from justice in the Westerosi forests and hills before turning it into a skill worth his weight in gold among the Golden Company.  Tristan had noticed dust on some of the internal guards of the palace, tracking the traces of that sign back through the place until he reached a blank wall, the guards’ footsteps showing clearly in the dust coating much of the disused room.  It made no sense to the tracker, until he’d seen a barely-there sickle carved into the ground approximately three hand-lengths long.  Just the size required for a door to swing open enough for a large man to squeeze through.

Tristan had thought he’d found an escape tunnel and called out for torches and backup before starting to search for the release level or switch.

Before long he’d been joined by several other sell-swords and the tools and items he’d requested, only to find his request useless.

Yes, the door had swung loose in time once the release had been found.

But no, it didn’t lead to the escape route Mopatis took.

It led to the fat fucker himself, cowering and pissing himself in fear of discovery.

Now he’d been moved to his former study, where Jon Connington was busy ransacking his desk and books, scrolls, and documents for anything that pertained even in the slightest way to the Targaryens while Harry Strickland, Lysono Mar, and Tristan Rivers searched for both treasures to call their own and anything else (jewelry, seals, weapons…) that might give an answer to the question they were there to ask:

Who was Aegon?

And what were Mopatis’s true plans regarding him and Daenerys Targaryen?

Mopatis had been bound and gagged before being dragged in all his stinking-glory and now-ruined silks to the office and slammed to sit in a huddle on the ground.

Aegon had been studying him ever since, searching his face over and over for any feature that even in the slightest way, resembled Aegon’s own face and form.

An impossible task, as the merchant had grown so large on his own wares and fine wines that any such clue had long been hidden under his grotesque weight gain, much as the once handsome and brave bravo had been lost to the wily and gluttonous magister of Pentos.

Truly, had they not been friends since a young age, even Varys would not have been able to see any remnant of the youth in the grown man.

And then should that same friend view Aegon through the lens of time, Varys would have to admit that the son has much of the father in him, merely strengthened and refined and polished by the influx of Targaryen blood through his whore mother.

So different were they: Illyrio the Bravo and Mopatis the Magister.

How very high had he risen, only to fall in many and varied ways just the same.

“What have you found?”  Aegon asked of the returning Strickland and Rivers.

“Steel.”  Homeless Harry said with a grin and a kick at the humbled magister.  “Valyrian steel.”

The leader of the Golden Company laid down a pair of Valyrian steel swords, one a hand-and-a-half sword with the motif of dragons curling around two great rubies imbedded on either face of the hit, and the other a slender longsword again with a motif of dragons but without the jeweled embellishment.

“Blackfyre.”  Lord Jon Connington breathed out, eyes wide as the documents he’d been reading slipped from his nerveless hands.  “And Dark Sister.  By the gods…it can’t be.”

“There’s more.”  Tristan Rivers held up a pair of golden objects: one a slim golden crown embossed with the three-headed dragon and inscribed inside the band and the other a pendant again of the three-headed dragon of House Targaryen.  “Though none of us can read the markings inside the crown.”

Holding out one elegant hand, Aegon motioned for Tristan to hand over the circlet, studying the markings intently as he moved under a torch for more light.

“Can you make it out?”  Strickland asked, eyes watchful on that handsome Valryian face.

“Of course.”  Aegon answered simply.  “It’s worn down from wear but still...”  He titled the crown, for that was what it was to his eyes, and squinted his purple eyes, made all the richer in color for the return of his silver-gold hair as Jon Connington had finally acquiesced to him forgoing the blue dye.

“What is it?”  Rivers leaned forward in eager curiosity.  “What does it say?”

“It’s High Valryian.”  Aegon deciphered after long moments where Jon, recovering from his shock, returned to pawing through all of Mopatis’s correspondence.  “It says: Princess Daena Targaryen, beloved daughter of King Aegon Targaryen, third of his name, in the year after conquest one-hundred and forty-five.”

He breathed out, head whipping over to stare down at the shattered man at their feet.  “By the gods.”  Aegon’s voice was little more than a whisper.  “It’s the crown of Daena the Defiant, and that her pendant gifted to her by her father the King.  Targaryen relics belonging to the mother of Daemon Blackfyre.”

Aegon set the crown down with gentle and reverent hands beside the resting Blackfyre and Dark Sister, motioning for Tristan to do the same with the pendant, before crouching beside Mopatis and cutting away the tight gag.

“Now.”  His voice was as hard as his sword and just as sharp.  “You’re going to tell me, Magister Mopatis, just what you have been up to.”

The leaders of the Golden Company sat hard on the plush cushions of Illyrio’s manse, Connington and Aegon joining them, after Mopatis wound down from his confession.

“So.”  Aegon’s voice and face were flat, all emotion tucked away and hidden until he was in private and could express it as he saw fit.  “I’m a Blackfyre after all.  And a Targaryen from a bastard line twice over.”  His chuckle was mirthless at the irony.  “I’ve probably got more dragon-blood running through my veins than any Velaryon or Celtigar or Lysene whore.”  He rested his head back against the lush chair he occupied.  “But none so much as my royal cousins or even the youngest Baratheon brother.”  He set his jaw and said what all were thinking.  “And I’ve no legitimate claim to the Iron Throne for all the ‘Fire and Blood’ running in my veins.”

He rubbed his thumb over the dragon pendant he’d picked up halfway through Illyrio’s recitation of his plots and actions: son of a Blackfyre, married the bastard daughter of the Brightflame, scheming and scrapping to put his trueborn son, to put Aegon on the Iron Throne.

And more…much, much more all corroborated by the missives and letters both written and awaiting sending and received that Lord Connington had found in Mopatis’s rooms.

“That’s true enough.”  Connington leaned forward, face showing that he was yet deep in thought and trying to see a way clear through the mess Mopatis had made.  “But you are still a Targaryen by blood.  If you support your distant cousin’s claim, both with men, and deeds, and gifts, there will still be a place for us in Westeros if Jon Targaryen is anything like his father before him.”

“Aye lad.”  Strickland bolstered the sixteen-year-olds spirits in his gruff way, emphasizing his words with a rough jab to Aegon’s lean shoulder.  “Nothing wins the favor of a king like conquest.  We help him win what’s his, and he’ll make a place for us.”

“Return the ancestral swords of House Targaryen.”  Lysono suggested in his wily way.  “For such a gift even Tywin Lannister would give a ransom of gold.”

“Besides all that.”  Rivers cut to the meat of the matter, as he preferred.  “You’re family to him, young Griff.  And if there’s one thing a dying dynasty values above all else it’s family.”

“Then we’re agreed?”  Aegon met each man’s gaze in turn, his shoulders lifting and squaring.  “We’ll still try for it?”

“Aye.”  Came the resounding cry.

“If Mopatis is right,” Connington said, rubbing at his chin and thinking on what they’d learned.  “It seems that there’s a Dornish prince in the Stepstones in need of some help.  I think Bloodstone is just the place to start with the Golden Company’s support of the conquest of Jon Targaryen, the first of his name.”

The bleached-bone white walls of the forgotten city newly-dubbed Vaes Tolorro soared high above the bent silver-gilt head of Daenerys Targaryen, khaleesi and Princess of Dragonstone.

It had taken them almost two turns following the red comet across the desolate Red Waste to reach the abandoned city, losing many of the weaker members of the khalasar along the way as Jorah had warned her was probable with food and water scarce in the desert beyond what they were able to carry with them from the greener fields of Lhazar.

Now both the khaleesi and her dragon offspring as well as the remnants of her people, numbering a mere four hundred men, women, and some of the strongest children in total were waiting and recovering from the long, slow trek across the barren red sands as her three strongest blood riders rode out towards each of the distant points save for whence they came, looking for somewhere, anywhere that the remnants of the khalasaar could travel to without further decimating their numbers or wandering right into the waiting swords of the remaining Dothraki khals.

Daenerys might be willing to risk her people, but she would never risk her dragon-children who had suckled at her swollen breasts, taking in the milk that had been meant for Rhaego her lost son.

And she was very well aware that if she made the wrong decision about where to go from Vaes Tolorro, death could well be the best of possible outcomes awaiting them.

Before she could brood any longer, a cry from Jorah had her sitting forward and turning toward his voice, hand rising up to shade her violet eyes.

“Khaleesi!”  Jorah cried out, the knight dashing toward her full-tilt across the sand from the ruins of the tower he’d been keeping watch in, one hand pointing to a shadow that had Daenerys checking at once to see if her children were still slumbering in the shade beside her.  That shadow coming from the West was far too large to be a mere bird, even one of the large scavengers that preyed on the victims of the Red Waste.  “Look, Khaleesi!”

“I see it Jorah.”  Daenerys called back calmly, swallowing down her own fear in the face of her people’s apprehension.  “I see it.”  She whispered to herself as her children stirred and cried, Drogon flying up to perch on one of the bleached-white monoliths of the abandoned city while his smaller siblings Viserion with his cream and gold markings and Rhaegal with his green and bronze either crowded into her arms or balanced on her shoulder.

And as it flew closer, so did her people.

Massive, even at this distance, and blending in well with the sky, was a fully-grown and fledged dragon, who in comparison to her own children showed her just how small her hatchlings were.

Drogon, her fiercest and most aggressive offspring, spread his wings and roared in defiance at the approaching beast.

Only to be answered with a clear and frightening reprimand moments later, the mostly blue and grey dragon roaring in reply before diving down with an inward snap of its wings and landing with a resounding thud against the sand mere feet from Daenerys and her dragon-children.  It studied her, and she knew dragon-fear for the first time, before opening its maw once more and bellowing another roar, answered in turn by all three of her hatchlings.

“Khaleesi.”  Jorah’s whisper as fraught with straining fear and disbelief to her ears.

Daenerys blinked.  “I see him, Jorah.”  She repeated only to shake her head as the dragon melted away and a man stood before her.  “But I’ve never heard of his like before.  Not in any of the tales.”

No.”  The stranger-who-was-a-dragon commented in High Valyrian, amusement plain in his jewel-green eyes.  “You wouldn’t have.  I’m afraid Princess, that I’m the only one of my kind in this world…so far as I know.”

“And who am I speaking with?”  Daenerys answered, holding onto her calm dignity by her fingertips, ignoring the shock reverberating through her people as well as herself.  Her children sensed her unease and hissed softly, though even Drogon didn’t dare to roar or spit his small flames at this man…creature…whatever he might be.

Even hatchling dragons had more sense than that.

Lord Harry James Potter-Black, Princess Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen.”  Harry swept an elegant bow.  “Lord Paramount of the Iron Islands and close friend and advisor of the King, Jon Targaryen, first of his name…your nephew.”

Nephew?”  Daenerys lost a little of her composure at that, her hand faltering from where it was passing soothing strokes down Viserion’s back.  Regaining herself she answered.  “I have no more family, Lord Potter-Black.  Explain yourself.”

“With pleasure, Princess.”  Harry gave her a soft, understanding look before flicking a knowing glance at the people around them.  “But first, a bit of privacy is in order…”

Harry found Essos fascinating as he flew from Dragonstone after making sure it was cleared of Stannis’s household following his meeting in King’s Landing, across the Narrow Sea.

He wished he had time to stop and land more often than merely to take rest breaks or to eat.

Everything was at once more civilized and yet wilder than Westeros, as well as being much more spread out.  There were a few clusters of neighboring cities or city-states from what he’d seen, but the leagues between one cluster and the next or even a larger stand-alone city were massive, most being a thousand leagues or more between each “civilized” pocket of society, and each as different from the next as they were from Westeros itself.  He’d flown over Myr and Lys, coasting high above the clouds over the disputed lands, before continuing East as his tracking spell demanded.  There had been a scattering of cities all around the ruins of Old Valyria – a place his instincts tugged him towards quite sharply.  Harry had made certain to carve some anchoring runes into a few places surrounding the former empire, fully intending to come back and explore what had his magic so excited about the ruined country.

The anchoring runes would allow him to easily lock onto his Apparation or port-key destination without having to worry about interference from anything between his starting and ending points, such as another follower of the R’hllor dabbling in shadow-binding.

Harry had mostly defanged Melissandre but that didn’t mean she was the only member of the Red god’s clergy capable of magics that could cause him problems mid-travel.

Slaver’s Bay had filled him with nothing but disgust.

He’d thought the Ironborn had been bad with their captive-taking, but it was nothing compared to the human trafficking practiced by the remnants of the Ghiscari empire.

It had taken much of his iron will to keep himself from doing something…regrettable…to the ‘Wise Masters’ in Astapor.

A situation to tackle another day, once Jon’s rule of Westeros was secure.

Then Harry could come back in his dragon form and break the back of the slave trade in Essos.

But his spell tugged him farther East and farther East he had flown.  Days and nights passed swiftly with him making rare stops to carve anchoring runes or check his tracking spells.  It didn’t slip by as fleetingly as his flight over Westeros had, but still time flew all too fast.

And then he found himself winging his way over a vast Red desert, one so large that he’d flown as high as he dared to take in the true scope of it.

If his spell wasn’t fixed on finding a live person, he would have assumed he had wasted his time tracking a corpse, so low was the chance that anything could survive a desert that large other than skirting the edges, which his spell made clear Daenerys and her people hadn’t done.

Though why they had travelled into the desert or perhaps what had chased them there was a matter of great concern to the wizard.

There were many motivations behind Harry’s trip across most of the breadth of Essos…and only a fraction of them actually had to do with locating Jon’s Targaryen blood-relatives.  When he set wing from Dragonstone he would have said it was half of his reasoning behind his trip.  But with all that he’s seen…bringing Jon’s aunt and possible-brother/possible-cousin back into the fold was far less engrossing and all-encompassing a task as it once was when faced with his magic running wild in the air over the continent and without him using the iron-will and hardhead he was once fames for, his return to Westeros would have been delayed significantly…if indeed, he’d managed to return at all.

Whatever or whoever had chased Daenerys and her dragons into this desolate wasteland could be another block dropping into his path, yet another thing he will have to overcome before returning to his lovers and betrotheds.

His conscience demanded he do something about Slaver’s Bay and the slave-culture that remained in parts of Essos in large fashion among the remnants of the Ghiscari Empire.

His magic urged and taunted and seduced him to either Old Valyria or someplace…else.  A some-place even further East.  He could almost taste his tri-fold nature: Light/Potter, Grey/Peverell, and Dark/Black tugging him hither and yon to where each felt the deepest Call.  His Potter side, carefully cultivated for years by Dumbledore and the Weasleys, wanted him to go back to the Far North and the Land of Always Winter, taking up his wand and sword against the Others.  Then there was his Grey side that he attributed in great part to his basic core nature, from the most powerful lineage he could claim in his old world.  The Peverells were, as Ollivander would say, both terrible and great, shunning no source of power or might in favor of another, leading to such achievements as giving rise to the legend of the Three Brothers but also managing to befriend Death itself.  Grey-Harry yearned to land in Old Valyria, his ability to see and sense and know power amplified by there being so very few great sources of it in his new world.  And the power-seeking Peverell in him knew that there was power to be found in Valyria.

It was his Dark side, as ever, that gave him pause.

Harry could almost feel his Black heritage, reinforced by Sirius’s blood-adoption, sit up and take notice of the Red Woman when he faced her on Dragonstone.

There was a deep Darkness in her that he’d been alternately drawn to and utterly repulsed by, sensing it came from not only Darkest magics but tainted sacrifices and blood magics.  Black magics, like those his third family had become infamous for using and knowing, tugging and pulling at his senses.  Harry had done some research on the “Red Woman” since he banished her to assist in the fight against the Others, and in all the whispers two remained the same: shadow-binder and the land of Asshai which dwelled in the Shadow Lands at the Far East of the known world, the closest living settlement within leagues of the cities of the dead and Stygai.

Oh, yes, Harry knew at last what was urging in him on, drawing his inner eye towards Essos, and tempting him to continue ever eastward and to abandon both of his lovers as well as his purpose for being in this world.

Much like the suppressed magics of Westeros, the forgotten Grey magic of Valyria and the Dark magics of Asshai and the Shadow Lands desired to be used.

One thing this unwanted attempted seduction had confirmed for Harry, however, was that no matter who or what dabbled and played with magics in this new world, not one was of the same kind of caliber as Harry.

Maybe it was similar to how this world was managing quite well for thousands and thousands of years under a feudal system or without the technology that ruled his old world: there just hadn’t been a magical era of great growth or change.  In his old life, the founding of Hogwarts and the other great schools of magic in the Middle Ages had ushered in an almost “golden age” of magical growth and knowledge.  One that both before his sleep and after, he’d never heard tell of being repeated, the magical world stagnating after that one great upswell of accomplishment and metamorphosis.

But no matter what had caused it, Harry found himself at times greatly saddened by the attempts at drawing him towards another path the magics of his new world played at.  That magic, which for so long had been his first and only love, to be so needful of a single mage to acknowledge it and mold it, giving it usefulness and purpose in the current era once more was shocking to him.  Harry had come from a world where magic was prized even by most of the muggle populace for the very idea of its existence.  Where it was great and mighty and joyful not suppressed and needing.

Still, with his will and strength of mind and purpose, Harry was able to harden himself against the outside magics, pulling what he needed and no more from the land, giving it shape and purpose: in this case tracking spells and sustaining his advanced flight he used in his dragon form.

Spells that had him flying hundreds of leagues into the red sand wastes east of Slaver’s Bay until his tracking spell warned him he was close to his target at the same time he spied the bleached white bones of an ancient abandoned city – then as he flew closer the tell-tale screeches of dragon hatchlings, a sound he would never forget after smuggling Norbert-turned-Norberta out of Hogwarts at eleven years old.

His inner dragon (that was currently also his outer dragon) reveled in the cries of fear and disbelief the few hundred ragged people gave as he flew close enough to the surface of the land for them to finally understand just what was making a beeline straight for them – and the silver-haired figure he could see from a mile away.

Landing with a thunderous roar, chastising the hatchlings for trying to assert dominance over him, in this form a fully grown and fledged dragon, Harry chuckled a bit to himself over his unerring sense of drama.

Daenerys was nearly shaking at the sight of him and her people – including someone that reminded Harry very much of Lord Commander Mormont before pegging the sandy-haired knight as said Lord Commander’s disgraced and exiled former-heir Jorah – seemed to be trying to scream, faint, or piss themselves at a grown dragon landing amongst them (some trying to accomplish all three at once it seemed to him).

Not wanting to give anyone a heart attack, and it being hard to convince Daenerys to return to Westeros when the only beings present he could talk two were a trio of just-over-two-turns-old hatchlings, Harry closed his massive dragon eyes and shifted slowly back into his human form before greeting the Princess of Dragonstone, impressed almost despite himself when Daenerys Stormborn kept her cool in the wake of her visible shock and disbelief at watching a dragon become a man.

Finally having enough of their eavesdropping audience, Harry suggested:

“…a bit of privacy is in order…”

Daenerys and Harry eyed each other inside the bleached-white building the khaleesi had claimed for her own, neither quite sure what to make of the other.

With an almost silent sigh, Harry gave in and took the first – metaphorical – step, opening his mouth and casting a privacy bubble around himself and the Princess of Dragonstone then reaching into his omnipresent pack which was charmed to always remain by his side unless he anchors it elsewhere (while sleeping, in the middle of battle, etc.) and removing a skein of fresh, clean water and a haunch of meat.

It wasn’t the greatest gift he’d ever presented to royalty, but, as he watched the sixteen-year-old Princess gasp in surprise before drinking down several mouthfuls of water before catching herself, eyes suddenly lowering and the back of her hand pressed against her shapely mouth in a bashful move that showed Harry she wasn’t quite the strong Targaryen Queen she aspired to be – at least not yet, Harry thought it might be one of the most sincerely appreciated.

The young girl, who’d rarely been given anything without having to pay an often severe price for it after the deaths of her and her brother’s guards/minders Sers Darry and Hightower, was still there in her veiled eyes as she used a dagger to cut off chunks of the preserved meat and tossing them to her dragons.

They were growing fast, strong, and to Harry’s keen eye, well despite the lack of easy sustenance during the last few turns in the Red Waste.

“Thank you for the food and water, Lord Harry.”  Daenerys continued in the High Valryian tongue that the man, sorcerer?, warlock?, seemed to prefer.  “It is most appreciative.  Fresh water is scarce in the Red Waste.”

“A token, Princess.”  Harry gave her a small nod and a soft smile as her eyes flew to meet his at the casual dismissal of any debt being incurred by her accepting the offerings.  “No more, no less.  And much less than you’re due from what I understand of your life up until now, khaleesi.”

Harry tasted the strange Dothraki word on his tongue that her knight and devout guard had used when trying to counsel the headstrong princess to at least allow Mormont’s own presence in the talk with herself and Harry.  He’d never come across a Dothraki or their language from what he could remember.  Nor had any ever visited his Tomb in the Hall of Ancient Heroes.  The information his link with Jon provided told him that the title was a cross between a mark of ownership as a khaleesi was first and foremost the wife of a Dothraki horselord or khal, and that of status, as again, a khaleesi was a khal’s wife and therefore above the others among the Dothraki and to be obeyed as such.

At least until a khaleesi’s khal died, as Daenerys’s had.

And there, Harry believed, was the problem she currently faced and the issue that had driven her into the Red Waste.

No sixteen-year-old girl Harry had ever met or even heard of would have been content to have her life be over and would willingly choose to join a cadre of widowed wise women because her husband died.  In this, Daenerys had acted exactly as any girl with a brain in her head would have reacted: avoiding those wanting to take her off and then running to a place where they would not or could not follow.  Harry could see the Targaryen charisma has helped her thus far in her life.  Rather than being carried off at once she had to have convinced her late husband’s blood riders to give her time to mourn him, time that she then used to convince those loyal to her to follow her into a vast desert one step up from following her into the gates of hell itself.

Yes, Harry could see that the girl she was and the woman she was becoming were fighting much like the boy and man in Jon and Robb and the others their age were struggling internally for dominance between codes and honor and expediency as the war progressed.

But like her King cousin, Harry saw much of the fire and passion that had allowed Aegon the Conqueror to unite the Seven Kingdoms in Daenerys Stormborn.

The only question that really remained, was whether Daenerys was willing to step back and stop working towards the Iron Throne or whether she was too much a Targaryen to yield, choosing to become Jon’s enemy rather than his ally.

Neither Harry nor Jon would ever be foolish enough to believe, as Robert Baratheon had for so many years, that having a Targaryen tucked away on another continent was a safe proposition for any man or woman who sat on the Iron Throne.

Especially one with a trio of dragons that she was just waiting to mature before she truly made a play for her father’s lost throne.

“You claim this Jon Targaryen,” Daenerys couldn’t believe the name the man had been given.  It was distinctly un-Targaryen.  Centuries of naming traditions and her “nephew’s” bearer named him Jon of all things.  “Is my nephew?”  She arched a brow.  “By which of my brothers?  If that is, he’s a legitimate Targaryen at all?”

Harry snorted.  As if anyone who’d met him since Jon had openly claimed his heritage had any problem believing his claims.  The man was a Targaryen from his violet-purple eyes to his warrior’s toes.

“He’s Rhaegar’s son by his bonded consort and second-spouse, Benjen Stark, Princess.”  Harry dropped that bombshell on her as gently as he could, his face stoic and voice calm.  “His Grace is eighteen years old and the rightful Heir to the Iron Throne by all measures of inheritance the Targaryens have ever followed.”

Daenerys absorbed that blow to her personal ambitions with a bare wince and blink of her pretty light violet eyes.  “I see.”  It was meant to be a strong recognition of Lord Harry’s statement but instead came at as barely a whisper.  “Then the Rebellion against my father?”

“Contrived, as far as we can tell.”  Harry sighed, running one hand down his well-braided hair.  “Though by who Jon, his uncle the late Lord Eddard, and the remaining Kingsguard and Targaryen supporters have never been able to fully discover.”  He waved a hand in a vague motion.  “There’s rumors, shadows, whispers of whispers…but nothing rock-solid and certain to bring charges against those guilty of inciting rebellion against House Targaryen.”

She thought that over in utter quiet, broken only by the sounds of her dragons play fighting with each other on the sheepskin rug beside the unlit brazier.

Desert nights were frigid and not kind to creatures with fire in their blood.

“House Stark rebelled against my father, led the Northern forces in the rebellion.”  Was all she could bring herself to say after several moments.

For so long the idea of bringing the Lords whose rebellion had led to the death of her family, reclaiming her rightful place in Westeros…it had been all she had besides a mercurial brother who was more often cruel than kind.  Now she has dragon-children and more…a nephew, the rightful Heir of House Targaryen.  It was too sudden and more than she knew how to deal with.  Desolation, Daenerys understood well.

Hope?

Not so much.

Drogo had been her hope, her sun-and-stars.

Then he was gone, murdered by a witch and godswife.

She had promised her khalasaar that she would make their enemies tremble, as well as her own.

Daenerys had had her vengeance against Mizzi Maz Dur, but never against those who had brought her into Drogo’s sphere to begin with.

Those such as the rebellious Lords of the Seven Kingdoms.

Meanwhile her people starved…and how does one make starvation tremble?

Eddard Stark led the North against the Mad King who had murdered his father by burning him alive and forced his elder brother Brandon to watch and strangle himself in a futile attempt to save his much-beloved father.”  Harry corrected her at once, voice glacial.  “He had no idea about the bonding between his younger brother and Rhaegar, nor did he know that Lyanna had run away with help from Benjen and his husband rather than been kidnapped.  There are many Lords and Houses at fault for the tragedy that befell your family, Princess, including House Targaryen.”  He turned gentle and comforting once more.  “But House Stark isn’t one of them, nor is Lord Robb, Eddard’s eldest son and Heir nor any of his other children.  If it’s punishment for your father’s death you seek,” he counseled.  “Then you should look to those who are guilty: the Lannisters, Lord Tywin and Ser Jaime above all others still walking the land.”

“What does my…nephew…bid of me?”  She asked with concealed distaste.  Daenerys had escaped from Viserys’ controlling hands into those of her husband, and then only narrowly escaped those of Drogo’s blood-riders by entering the Red Waste.  She was a khaleesi, though it seemed being a Queen in truth wasn’t in the fate woven for her, she was at heart a Targaryen Princess.  Unless what her…nephew…had planned for her was utterly foul, she would at least entertain his demands.

“Jon doesn’t know I’m here, khaleesi.”  Harry gave her a small smile, having a damned good idea of what was going on in her head.  “Though I believe he suspected or at least guessed I intended to seek you out when I departed from his company as the army left for conquest in the Westerlands.  He’s fighting a tri-fold war with the Lannisters on one side, Renly Baratheon and the Tyrells on another, with himself as the final contender for the Throne.”  His smile turned dazzling.  “And thus far he’s winning.  Jon Targaryen will return the Iron Throne into your family’s hands or he’ll die in the attempt, of that I’ve no doubts at all.  Though I imagine he would appreciate your return to Westeros and your support to his claim, at the moment, His Grace requires nothing from you, except your continued existence.”  His smile turned into a smirk at her palpable shock.  “You are his rightful Heir at the moment after all.  Should something happen to him before he sires a son, you will be the last remaining hope of a legitimate return to the Targaryen Dynasty in Westeros.”

Viserion flew over to Daenerys and settled himself firmly in her lap, nearly purring when she set to petting him all along his spine from crest to tail.

“And I suppose my dragons have nothing to do with his “appreciating” my return to Westeros?”  Her question was nothing short of haughty.

Harry gave a loud laugh, throwing his head back and slapping one hand against his thigh.  Really, he should’ve been able to control himself but that was one of the funniest damn things he’d been asked since waking up in Westeros.  After a minute or two, he reined in his laughter, bringing himself back under control and shaking his head, wiping away tears of mirth with the back of one hand.

“Princess.”  He said after a short cough to get his voice cleared from his reaction.  “Unless you’ve forgotten in the last hours, Jon has a dragon.”  He smirked, mischief and humor warring with each other for dominance in his dancing emerald eyes.  “Me.  And in a competition of which is more useful to his campaign at the moment: a trio of hatchling dragons or a wizard capable of becoming a fully-grown version of the same…the wizard wins.  No contest.”  He shrugged, not trying to offend her but she was still young for her heartache and needed to hear a few home truths.  “Jon told me once that dragons won Westeros for the Targaryens.”  He cocked his head thoughtfully as they two watched Rhaegal and Drogon tussle on the floor.  “And from what I’ve read that seems to be true.  But it wasn’t an easy or peaceful victory, and after a number of years shy of three centuries the dragons were gone and the Targaryens deposed.”  His gaze pinned her with his intensity, Harry having come to take Jon’s belief about the conquest of Westeros and how it should be handled as his own.  “Your nephew means to take back the Iron Throne through might of arms and allies, not through magical arts or fire-breathing creatures.  He’s a Stark as much as a Targaryen.”  Harry gave a fond smile that was much more for the missing King than the Princess before him.  “And the Starks held the North for eight thousand years as the Kings of Winter.  They know a thing or two about how to win and hold a land.  The Targaryens weren’t Kings in Old Valyria, and in the end it showed as they made a handful of key missteps in the early conquest and governance that spawned problems which plagued them and followed them all through their rule of Westeros.  The second Targaryen Dynasty, Jon Targaryen’s Dynasty, must be different if it wants to outlast that founded by Aegon the Conqueror.”

“You believe this?”  Daenerys posed the question with more curiosity than offense.  Viserys would have had Lord Harry’s head for the way he spoke of the Targaryen conquest…and its aftermath.  But from her own studies, she had to admit that this Lord, and apparently her nephew as well, had made a valid case for winning back the Iron Throne…and the way in which it should be accomplished.  “That dragons and yourself have no place in my nephew’s regime?”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”  Harry waved off that suggestion.  That wasn’t quite what either he or Jon meant with how the King was waging his war.  “Magic and dragons both still have a place in Westeros.  In fact, it’s my fervent belief that they never should have been driven out or allowed to die out in the first place.  The land is magical, it and its people are both healthier when magic is being pulled from it and then returned to it.  I saw it for myself in my old world.”

Lord Harry’s gaze and expression both seemed very far away, looking at something that no other could possibly hope to see to Daenerys’s searching eyes.

“…what happens when magic is suppressed and stamped down.  When it begins to stagnate.”  He continued.  “The land and the people suffer for it.  No.”  He shook his head once, firmly.  “Magic and dragons have a place in Jon’s Westeros.  And while both or either could help him win it, it’s respect that Jon wants to engender in the populace.  Magic can engender many emotions: awe, fear, infatuation, but especially fear.”  He reached over and ran a knuckle down Viserion’s back.  “Dragons are much the same.  To win the hearts and minds of Westeros he needs to displace the corrupt Lannister court in power and show strength of arms, alliances, honor, and resolve, all without creating the same bone-deep fear that seems to walk hand-in-hand alongside the Targaryen name.”

Daenerys gave him a searching look then said: “That’s why he’s waging a war rather than having you use your magics, isn’t it?”

“You have a perceptive mind, Princess.”  Harry tilted his head in acknowledgement of her on-target thought.  “I could kill every Lannister by name or blood, end their line, silence every detractor with a spell and put a crown on His Grace’s head, give him the Iron Throne with a wave of my wand and a flex of my will.  But…”  His smile was sad.  “Even I won’t live forever.  Then who, once Jon is gone and so am I, will help Jon’s children, and his children’s children, keep the Iron Throne when it wasn’t taken back in a way that the people of Westeros would respect?  Fear?  Oh yes, I can create fear.  Fear, obedience, any and every emotion or reaction under the sun.  But I can’t magic up love or respect in a people nor keep them from hating or resenting a King who used me to gain an easy victory.”

“You’ve said much about his plans.”  Daenerys gave him that.  “And of other things as well.  I…”  She searched for the right way to voice her thoughts.  “I believe you believe your words.  That I and my dragons will be safe from exploitation in this war.  But what of after?”  She asked.  “What kind of man is my nephew; not just what sort of King he wishes to be?”

“He’s the best man I’ve ever met, khaleesi.”  Harry answered her simply.  “If you trust nothing else I’ve said, you can trust that.  He won’t exploit you, won’t use your body to secure an alliance that is distasteful to you or force your dragons to live in a dragonpit.  Jon’s a good man, Princess.”  His smile was a shade wistful.  “If he makes half-so-good a King as he does a man, Westeros will prosper indeed.”

“Jon.”  Robb entered their private tent on the road to the Westerlands.  Harry had been gone a week, and they were making good time in their march to take the war to the Lannister home territory.  No one had so much as batted an eye at Jon and Robb sharing the command tent, after all the Kingsguard did as well, and having both direwolves quartered together with their masters at the center of camp made the men sleep easier after many had seen the havoc and bloodshed the massive and ever-growing northern creatures were capable of.  “Raven.”

“Thank you, Robb.”  Jon said with a small smile taking the missive from his betrothed cousin and breaking the wax seal, reading the contents quickly.  His smile grew as the news penetrated his planning and strategy-hazed fog he tended to slip into while working on battle plans and correspondence with the other generals and admirals among the separate forces fighting under his banner.

“Good news?”  Robb asked, taking his seat at Jon’s side, giving each of their direwolves a quick ear scratch, Grey Wind staying at his knees for a few extra pats and nuzzles before joining Ghost at the tent flap and slipping out to hunt.

They preferred to absent themselves during the twilight hours to hunt, oftentimes returning with an extra carcass or two between them after eating their fill for their humans to consume.  With their wizard gone the direwolves wanted to make sure their chosen companions were taken care of, not trusting either man not to forget to eat or sleep in the rush of planning and preparations.  Silly furless creatures that they were.

“Excellent news.”  Jon chuckled before burning the missive in the brazier.  That particular informant was best to remain anonymous.  “Lord Tywin has ordered his army drawn back to Rosby.  In the face of having to choose between chasing us, dealing with a siege in the River Lands, or moving to keep King’s Landing from being sacked by the Tyrell-Baratheon alliance he chose the latter.”  Jon quickly wrote out new orders for the forces he’d left behind to hold the Riverlands and retake what they could.

Tywin’s decision left him with a distinct opportunity to force the Lannister forces from the Riverlands completely.

“Having the River Lords and Vale Lords move to push the garrisoned troops out?”  Robb asked, his guess proof that they’d had a very similar education in warfare under his father Eddard.

“Yes.”  Jon answered as he finished writing out and sealing his orders to Lord Yohn Royce who was his general over the Vale forces, a number which had reached thirty-five thousand men, leaving the remaining ten thousand to defend the Vale from the mountain tribes in their absence.  Another was written to the Blackfish as the Regent of the River Lands with Lord Hoster dying shortly before the Targaryen army departed Riverrun as well as to the other River Lords.  He’d given the command to retake the riverlands, using the time garrisoned at Riverrun to assist with retaking the Trident itself before leaving for the Westerlands.  “I’m having the Vale army push the Lannisters back in the eastern half of the River Lands.  The River Lords who still live will be able to regarrison and reclaim their lands in that region easily with Lord Tywin pulling back and leaving only enough men to man each holding.  Hopefully by the time we’re done in the Westerlands the River Lands will be ours once more in their entirety instead of only North of Harrenhal.”

“Lord Royce is a great man from what father used to tell me.”  Robb said, approving of that Lord’s appointment as head of the Vale forces in the River Lands.  “He’ll get it done, no doubt.  Will your Vale Heir, the Hardyng squire be riding with them?”

“He is.”  Jon sighed, thinking about that tenuous situation.  “Lady Alys allowed it at my request.  Your aunt tried to have him moved to the Eyrie but was refused, with good cause as it turns out in the wake of her adultery scandal and Sweetrobin being declared a bastard.”

Robb ran one hand down Jon’s arm, knowing the cause of that sigh.  For all it came during a discussion of the Vale, he knew it had to do with their own Harry.  If there was one thing neither of them enjoyed, it was that Harry’s travels took him far out of correspondence range.  There’d been no word of him since he’d left King’s Landing.

Though they both would have paid a fortune in gold to be a fly on the wall of the Great Hall when Harry gave his performance.  Jon’s spies in the Red Keep had claimed it was a scene for the ages, The Imp vs. The Wizard.  Apparently a bard had even written a tune about it which was quickly becoming popular in the capitol much to Joffery and Cersei’s disgust and wrath.

“Something else is on your mind.”  Robb knew Jon well, and he knew that look on his face.  It was more than news from the Vale or the Red Keep, more even than missing Harry.  “Out with it or it’ll keep you from sleeping as you worry away at it like Ghost on a stag bone.  And neither one of us can afford to be slow in case we’re attacked now that we’re closer to the Westerlands than we are Riverrun.”

“More news.”  Jon held up another letter, this one from Prince Oberyn who had taken command of the Martell fleet in the Sunset Sea and their forces in the Reach after assisting with the siege of Storm’s End.  “Prince Quentyn failed in the Stepstones and has been taken captive though no ransom has been demanded yet.  His father Prince Doran is less than pleased and tried to order the Martell fleet to rescue him.”

“I hope someone talked him out of that.”  Was all Robb could say.

And for good reason.  Such a move would have constituted a break in the terms of the alliance between Jon and the Dornish Crown Prince.  A devastating loss in the wake of Lord Tywin’s remove from the Riverlands.

“His other son, Trystane and Oberyn’s paramour Ellaria Sand apparently joined forces to do just that.”  Jon tossed the letter aside.  “I’ve written Doran that I’ll order the fleet to rescue Quentyn after we’ve taken Oldtown.  With the fleet and forces in the Reach taking both Blackcrown and the Three Towers in the last few turns, and the bulk of the Reach army moving to attack King’s Landing, we should have the southern region of the Reach in our hands in several turns.”

“Doran won’t be best pleased about the delay.”  Robb mused, shaking his head.  “But there’s nothing to be done about it.  The Reach is of more value than the Stepstones, and Prince Quentyn is only one hostage.  Doran has other heirs, including his eldest Princess Arianne.”

“I know.”  Jon shifted his weight a bit before rising and cracking his back.

“But…”  Robb drawled, eyeing his lover knowingly.  “It’s the first real loss of the campaign.  The Green Fork was an intentional sacrifice; you knew they were likely to lose.  Prince Quentyn should have been able to clear the pirates from the Stepstones with the five thousand men and fifty ships he’d been given to command.”

“Should have.”  Jon cursed.  “And still failed.  Bloodstone is an Old-Valryian Targaryen stronghold: it should be in Targaryen hands, even more than the Red Keep and Iron Throne.”

Robb restrained the need to roll his eyes.  If he had a silver stag for every time he’d heard that complaint about both Bloodstone and Dragonstone when they were growing up he could build a second Winterfell.  At least Dragonstone had been gained through their Harry’s parlay and subsequent alliance with Stannis Baratheon.

He didn’t even want to consider how…well…annoyed Jon would have been if Quentyn’s mission had failed and Stannis was fighting against them, refusing to yield Dragonstone.

Robb might have devolved to smothering Jon with a pillow if he’d been subjected to one of his rants about the two fortresses night after night as they marched to the Riverlands and then the Westerlands.  It would have been never-ending right up until they laid siege to Dragonstone and took it for Jon’s own.

Small blessings.

“What of Harry’s Ironborn?”  Robb changed the subject before Jon could delve further into the oncoming rant about Bloodstone.  “And their assault on the West and the Reach?”

“Hit-and-miss information.”  Jon admitted, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth as he spun on his heels to face his betrothed.  “Some reports have them as far south as the Shield Islands, but several have stated that the bulk of the fleet under Euron and Asha Greyjoy have taken Faircastle.  They’re raiding the Westerland coastline well from all reports, but only the one holding has been confirmed as taken.  If Euron follows Harry’s orders, then the Crag should be next and it’s possible they might join us in taking Ashemark if we make good time against the Golden Tooth.”

“And Victarion Greyjoy?”

“Raiding the Reach as far as the reports go, diverting his ship and those with him southron instead of attempting a raid on Lannister holdings for some reason known only to him.”  Jon ran a hand through his hair in agitation.  “I wish Harry were here to deal with his Ironborn if nothing else.”

“He’ll be back soon, love.”  Robb gave his betrothed a smile, rising and wrapping the other in a hug before ushering him over to the table that had been waiting for Robb’s arrival before they sat down to eat before retiring for the night.  “A week at most.  Then you can rail at him all you want for being gone too long and leaving you to deal with his hard-headed Ironborn.”

“There’s twenty or so Dornish ships anchored on the western side of the Stepstones, Aegon.”  Lysono reported as the Golden Company’s leaders gathered in the captain’s quarters of their flagship.  “And rubble and ruins from a recent fight, including over a dozen sunken Dornish ships.”

“Not the Red Viper’s men then.”  Harry Strickland pointed out, knowing that Oberyn knew better than to sail into a pirate’s trap.  “Word has it that Dorne has allied with Jon Targaryen and has from the first.  And the Targaryens have always been after the Stepstones because of Bloodstone Keep.  As were the Blackfyres, once upon a time.”

“Well, Aegon?”  Lord Jon Connington asked with faux-idleness.  This was Aegon’s first test as the Golden Company’s employer/commander.  He’d fought among them, even given input in meetings like this, but never had it been on his word alone that the Company entered battle.  “Do we still sail through to the Reach or do we stop and take the Stepstones first?”

Aegon studied the map of Westeros that showed, as far as their contacts could tell them, the current troop and army positions of the three warring factions.

“Do we know who might have been in charge of taking Bloodstone?”  He asked in turn, thinking hard.

“Not as such.”  Lysono replied, the spymaster having the best idea of any of them about such things.  “But word has it Quentyn Martell has been gone from Sunspear along with Oberyn and several of his Sand Snakes.  The Princess Arianne has been in a rage over her brother’s absence, accusing Doran of favoring Quentyn for the throne of Dorne.”

“So if it wasn’t Oberyn…”  Aegon made the logical leap from what Harry said about the Red Viper and Lysono’s report.  “Then Quentyn would be the one most likely to have fallen prey to the current pirate lord of Torturer’s Deep.”

“It’s possible, aye.”  Strickland agreed.  “If they took one of the Dornish Heirs then it would explain why their ships are hovering close but not engaging.  Waiting for ransom demands most like.”

“Then…”  Aegon gave a slow, wicked smile.  “Perhaps we might go and liberate this Dornish princeling from his captivity…and buy ourselves some good-will with both Prince Doran for saving his son and my cousin for taking the Stepstones out of pirate hands while we’re about it.”

It was a hard, blood-filled fight that Harry Apparated into.

He’d left Daenerys after supplying her with a Port-Key that would take her to Dragonstone and alert him once used after speaking his piece and doing what he could to keep anymore of her small khalasaar from dying of hunger or thirst, making the trip back west in jumps from city to city over the vast Essos landscape.

Once he hit Tyrosh, however, he got that tingling deep in his veins once more, his magic pulling him south towards Dorne and the Stepstones rather than continuing northwest.

He hadn’t been actively looking for the Golden Company and the last Targaryen that was said to ride with them, but when he felt the call, he cast a tracking spell for close of Jon’s paternal line, getting a response much closer than Daenerys who was still waiting in Vaes Tolorro for some reason.

A pull that he quickly realized had to do with the man known as Aegon…a young man who was supposed to be in Myr with his minder Lord Jon Connington…not running around the Stepstones with the Golden Company and laying siege to the Targaryen fortress of Bloodstone.

But as he was running around causing bloody mayhem in the Stepstones…and Harry happened to be in the area…it made good sense to seek him out while he had the opportunity.

Maester Aemon may have him down as being of Blackfyre lineage but if the young man didn’t know that then he still might make an attempt to claim the Throne…no matter how short-lived Harry would ensure such an attempt would be.

And as Jon was nowhere in sight and this wasn’t – technically – part of his campaign to claim Westeros there was nothing to prevent Harry from having a little…fun…with the pirates and outlaws the Golden Company – who were rather noticeable with their visible wealth and golden adornments – were currently battling for some reason Harry was sure Jon could explain to him when they meet up again.

With a smile that was nothing less than malicious, Harry called up the Sword of Gryffindor with his left hand and conjured his cat-o-nine fire whip with the Elder Wand in his right hand, cutting a deadly swathe through the slavers, outlaws, rapists, and murderers who called Torturer’s Deep their home.

Aegon and the other leaders of the Golden Company’s vanguard fought their way through the belly of Bloodstone – the fortress as opposed to the island that had been named for it – as Lysono led another incursion force to find the prisoner holding cells in the dungeons below their feet.

The pirates fought dirty and well, but in the end were no match for the pure precision and training of the Golden Company, Aegon and the vanguard easily punching through the series of portcullises and murder-gates protecting the current “pirate-lord” of the Stepstones, their armored elephants included in their removal from Essos for just such an occasion.  The ability of the Golden Company to take a fortress was one of the reasons they were so feared in Essos…and why only one single client had ever failed to pay them, the sell-sword company using the same techniques on that unfortunate city as they used to break down the protections at Mopatis’s manse and now at Bloodstone.  Given a reason and an opportunity, there wasn’t a castle, fortress, or keep that the Golden Company couldn’t take.

It was pitched battles against superior numbers in which their weakness laid.

They could take or hold any fortified position, but against an army such as the three rallied by the contenders to the Iron Throne, even the Golden Company would falter without outside support.

Reaching the black-iron-banded double doors that led into the Lord’s chambers, the most highly-fortified rooms in Bloodstone according to the writings surrounding the ancient fortress, Aegon called for the Breakers, a specialized squad of the tallest and strongest men in the Golden Company who together carried and used a massive battering ram to break down any door once the Company had penetrated a fortress’s outer fortifications.

“Take it down.”  He ordered the Breakers, he and the rest of the van moving to flank the squad and move in to the rooms as soon as they accomplished their task.

They rushed in, half standing tall, half crouching low, prepared for whatever waited behind the now-splintered wood-and-iron doors, Aegon taking up the rear at Tristan’s insistence.

“Come on then!”  Shouted the current pirate-lord as they were rushed by his guards, likely the most loyal members of his crew.  “Kill me if you can, and take Bloodstone for your own if you dare!  As I took it before you, and a hundred pirate-lords before me!”

He was a lean and wiry man of about middle-age to Aegon’s eyes, dark in the manner of a Summer Islander, and dressed in boiled leather and silks, heavy golden and silver necklaces swinging wildly as the pirate-lord faced off against the last of the Blackfyres, each of their men occupied with the others.

“A silver-haired and purple-eyed stripling among the Golden Company.”  The pirate-lord commented with a snort as their swords met in a resounding clang, the pirate’s curved blade sparking at the contact with Aegon’s newly reclaimed sword Blackfyre.  “And wielding Valaryian steel no less.  Must be a bastard Targaryen, then.”  The pirate gave a grim smile as Blackfyre broke the guard on his sword, the rippling steel blade coming dangerously close to taking his hand.

“My parents were married, thank you.”  Aegon shot back as he dodged out of the way of a swipe from the dagger that appeared in the pirate’s off hand from up his sleeve.  “But I’m of Targaryen blood nonetheless: Aegon Blackfyre, scion of House Blackfyre at your service!”

The pirate’s eyes shot wide in shock at that proclamation.

House Blackfyre.

Now that was a notorious name, indeed.

Aegon capitalized on the split-second moment of hesitation caused by his name, in the back of his mind deciding to remember and use again the advantage he gained from only his name in the coming battles he faced in Westeros.  Dodging forward as the pirate swung wide with his sword, he blocked a slash from the dagger, using his armored forearm to knock the knife loose and sending it flying as he gave a sharp thrust of Blackfyre, easily piercing into the gap between leather breastplate and trousers, burying the infamous ancestral sword of the Targaryens in the pirate’s smooth belly.  Grinning savagely, he twisted the blade before yanking it back, ripping a jagged hole in the outlaw’s guts as he stepped back and out of range.

The pirate-lord, now silent, dropped to his knees as his empty hand tried to cradle the viscera spilling out from the wound, blood speckling his lips as he coughed, a nasty rattle in his throat before Aegon stepped forward, swinging wide and taking his head in an act of vicious mercy.

“We’ve done it, Aegon.”  Tristan clapped him on the back, drawing his attention to the bodies sprawling throughout the room and the slowing sounds of fighting that came from both within and without the fortress.  “Bloodstone is ours.”

Aegon gave one more last look at the pooling blood under the now-headless pirate-lord before nodding once and striding silently from the room.

He had a Prince to find.

 

Chapter Text

Tomb of the First Men

Author's Note: I’ve gone through and fixed a couple of issues with assigning who was actually where on the Lannister/Westerland forces.  Such as having the Leffords garrisoning their home of Golden Tooth instead of the Lannisters, ect.

Edited December 2016 for minor errors and some content issues.

Original word count: 19,907; edited: 20,331.

Act V: Wyrd

“Aegon!”  Lysono Maar called out to the tall, handsome youth as he made his way through Bloodstone’s great hall towards the stairs leading down to the dungeons.  The swarthy sell-sword and spymaster was standing near a small rectangular table the length of a man and half as wide that had escaped the destruction the siege had caused throughout most of the massive fortress.  Neither the pirates nor the Golden Company had been worried about collateral damage to the place while fighting for their lives.

And for good reason.

From where Aegon stood, every pirate scum present was either dead or dying of their wounds, though he wouldn’t know how the Company had fared until Harry Strickland got a count from his squad leaders and captains.

“Over here, Aegon.”  Lysono waved him over strongly.  “We already emptied the cells…and found an extra besides.”

Coming to stand beside the Company’s spymaster, Aegon arched a silvery brow at the sight that met him.

There on the intact table was a man spread out, unconscious.  Purple-violet eyes took quick stock, not finding any visible reason for the armored man to be knocked out, but there might be a wound on his back or the back of his head he was missing.  He was a pretty man, almost as pretty as Aegon himself was often accused of being by his friends, with creamy-golden skin, elegant features including arching brows and a thick fan of lashes, plump lips and a riot of ebony hair.  His attire wasn’t as rich as that the men of the Golden Company favored, but neither was he wearing Dornish armor like the princeling seated at the man’s shoulder who could be none other than Quentyn Martell or the mishmash of boiled leather and either silk or roughspun that the pirates favored.

He was an enigma.

Fortunately, Aegon enjoyed a good puzzle from time to time.

Lysono spoke after a demanding look from his current employer.  “We breeched the dungeons easy enough after gaining the fortress interior and found the Martell stripling as we’d thought.  On the way back out we walked into one hells of a fight here in the great hall.  He,” Lysono gestured to the sleeping man.  “Had chased in and cornered a group of rancid pirates, even for this lot, against the dungeon stair.  Aegon.”  Lysono waited for purple eyes to meet his gaze.  “He was fighting with a whip made entirely of fire, taking out the group before we could lend any aid.”

“Was he injured?”  Aegon asked, thinking deeply.

“Not that you could tell.”  Quentyn said softly.  “He fought like the Warrior himself.  Then once it was over and the hall was filled with the smell of burned skin, singed hair, and blood, he lost his stomach before staggering a few paces and passing out.”

“First battle?”

“Not with the way he fought.”  Lysono shook his head, agreeing with the princeling’s summation.  “He’s a fighter, this one.  But a stranger nonetheless.  We should keep a guard on him until we know who he is – and what the fuck he’s doing here.”

“Agreed.”  Aegon nodded once, gaze shifting from the still form of the beautiful man to the Dornish prince.  “Prince Quentyn.  You are now cordially the guest of myself, Aegon Blackfyre, and the Golden Company until such time as you can be returned to your men who are floating in their ships offshore.”

“Thank you, Blackfyre.”  Quentyn nodded his head genially, grateful to be freed of the wretched captivity his own foolishness had led him into.  He should have listened to his cousin when she said it was a trap but he thought she was being over-cautious and had never been fond of the Sand Snakes besides.  They both will be happy when the two Dornish fleets can meet up and Tyene can once again become her father’s problem.

Aegon gave a slight bow, motioning to Lysono.  “Lysono will escort you to our flagship and let you get cleaned up before we rendezvous with the Dornish fleet.”

Both men took that as a dismissal, the Dornish prince following the spymaster like a duckling after its mother, Aegon’s eyes turning once more towards the sleeping man on the table.  A man who according to the others’ words, was capable of great magics in addition to being a great fighter.  “Who are you?”  He breathed, bracing his hands against the table and leaning in close to inspect the still face.

As if sensing his regard, a pair of eyelids snapped open, pinning him in his too-close place with the emerald-green orbs that were revealed, the sharp point of a dagger to his belly freezing him when he would have moved – though forward to take those tempting lips or back out of the man’s personal space, Aegon could not say.

“My name is Harry.”  Came the silky answer tinged with an accent as intriguing as the man.  “Who the fuck are you?”

Eyes snapping open and staring up into violet-purple eyes, Harry felt an incredible sense of déjà vu.

Blinking rapidly, he took in the silvery eyebrows and silver-gilt hair surrounding those infamous eyes, the spectre of the Tomb melting away as he realized this wasn’t Jon and he wasn’t just waking from his enchanted sleep.  No.  Whoever this was – and however he ended up laying on a stiff slab eerily reminiscent of his coffin – they looked more like the lovechild of his lover and a Veela…if such a creature actually existed in his new world which he was pretty certain they didn’t.  But that silver-gold hair, pale-gold skin, and bright purple eyes coupled with pretty features that put both Jon’s and Harry’s own to shame didn’t help with the impression of beauty that was both unmistakably familiar and unbearably other-worldly.

Breathing in the scents of death, blood, and burned flesh, Harry flexed the wrist of his off-hand and sent his favorite dagger sliding down into his palm before pressing the tip of it into pretty-boy’s abdomen, searching his mind to try and figure out where he was and what he was doing here.

He remembered fighting his way through the pirates, even stopping to assist their opponents every now and again, before following a group of them inside the wide-open doors of the fortress.  The very last thing he recalled were the scents of burning death and blood overwhelming his senses after he’d taken care of his current opponents.  He’d hunched over and lost his breakfast, briefly meeting the gazes of a stunned group of men, then he got dizzy and stumbled away.

At that point he must’ve lost consciousness, but that didn’t explain why he was laid out on what he could now see was a table that escaped the siege mostly intact or why pretty-boy was hovering very-much-too-close to his sleeping self.

Leading to his barked question as said man froze at his awakening and the dagger to his stomach: “Who the fuck are you?”

Aegon moved his hands up in the time-honored “no-harm” position, watching the poison-green gaze of the beauty, knowing full-well that he’d read the coming thrust of the blade in those deep pools much sooner than he would by keeping his eyes on the razor-sharp edge a fraction away from drawing blood and burying itself in his belly.

“Aegon.”  He kept his voice calm and steady.  This man, beautiful and deadly or not, had fought for them for some reason before losing consciousness.  He didn’t want to startle him into making a mistake both of them wouldn’t live to regret.  “Scion of House Blackfyre.  And you?”

Harry let out a silent breath in relief.  The last thing he remembered before waking was tossing his cookies towards the end of the battle and then everything going dark.  Having someone loom over him when he woke wasn’t his favorite method of regaining consciousness…unless the person was one of his lovers with dirty thoughts on their mind.  That he’d somehow (**cough**Potter-Luck**cough**) been woken by one of the “missing” Targaryens was nothing less than a relief…so long as Aegon didn’t have burning him at the stake in mind after his blatant use of magic during the siege of Bloodstone.

“Harry.”  He offered in turn, sheathing his dagger and allowing Aegon to step back, swinging around to sit up fully and face the other as the too-handsome man sat back in a nearby chair.  “Potter-Black.  Lord Paramount of the Iron Islands, Lord of Winter and the Fist, Lord Reaper of Pyke – to start.”

His new acquaintance arched a brow at that.  Aegon had heard of the coup on Pyke, hells, Lysono was so damned good at being a spymaster that he probably knew within hours of the whole affair let alone weeks later.  But that this Lord Harry laid claim to lands beyond the Wall…well…that was an interesting tidbit all on its own.

“My friends and men tell me that you fought hard during the siege.”  Aegon said at last, leaving his curiosity over the Lordship claim aside for the moment.  “Using both a sword and a whip fashioned of fire…right up until you lost consciousness.”

“That’s one way to put it.”  Harry commented with a laugh and a shake of his head.  “Passed the fuck out I did.  One moment fine the next losing my stomach and waking up with a silver-haired Targaryen looming.  It’s enough to drive a man to drink.”

“Thank you for your help regardless.”  Aegon insisted, waving off Harry’s joking self-derision.  “Bloodstone is taken, my men are clearing out the rest of the pirate nests in the Stepstones, and a Dornish Princeling has been rescued.  Not a bad undertaking to join up with…though one does wonder what the Lord of the Iron Islands and rumored right-hand of King Jon, the first of his Name, is doing in the Narrow Sea instead of marching for the West with the rest of the combined Targaryen Army?”

Harry gave him a crooked half-grin at that, looking up from digging in his cloak for the two sacks he carried when he didn’t want to stick out – or any more than normal – around others in the current epoch.  It was strange, how seeing him do normal or commonplace things such as carrying around and using a water-skin or eating dried fruit and meat, seemed to reassure the people he came in contact with.  As if before seeing him act like any other soldier or knight or even Lord would act, they all thought him some kind of deity who was above urges everyone else dealt with like hunger or thirst.

It often made him wonder if that was one of the reasons Dumbledore – for all his faults – had always been so intractable over eating with the students in the Great Hall of Hogwarts.

There was something to be said for watching a would-be idol take the time to fashion their cup of tea just to their liking or try and steal the plate of bangers from their neighbor that lifted much of the illusory veil of mystery that cloaked “higher” beings like teachers, headmasters, and even generals and kings.

Knowing that the man in charge of an entire war effort had a taste for lemon-flavored everything had been oddly comforting in some of the darkest days at Hogwarts, and Harry firmly believed that supping with Jon and the rest of the Lords when they were encamped served the same purpose to the Army.  Men may fight and die for ideas or ideals, but when push came to shove, they did it easier and with lighter hearts when they knew that those who directed their lives were every bit as human as the next man.  That the man who one moment might order them to their deaths knew what it was like to hunger and thirst.

There was a strange comfort in that.  One that crossed boundaries of race, class, and even religion to shelter the hearts of weary men.

Though, Harry had to admit, Aegon looked rather more enervated by his victory than weary of war.

He was young yet, Harry decided.  And without the wisdom that came from living in a post-civil-war kingdom.  Westeros was weary of war before Robert’s faithless wife birthed her first bastard whelp.  It was one of the reasons why he was so quick to usher the battles along where he could, Jon doing the same in a different way.  Where Harry’s magic didn’t impress or awe, Jon’s political savvy and birthright held great sway, and vice versa.

Together, with their men, Jon and Robb and all the rest would bring, gods willing, a lasting peace to the war-torn continent.  And Harry would support them all he could.  He cocked his head to the side as he studied the quiet Targaryen who was lost in his own contemplations.  As he wasn’t from the main Targaryen line and had chosen to take the Blackfyre banner rather than attempt the Iron Throne, many would say Aegon of House Blackfyre served no purpose but that of more strife in Westeros.

Many would be wrong.

Harry saw a purpose for Aegon with his silver-gold hair and Valyrian eyes, much like he did with Daenerys.  The two of them had the looks that had been tempered by Jon’s rich and strong Stark blood.  Look that were the trademark of the Targaryen Dynasty.

One way or another…those looks were as important a marker to the Targaryen loyalists as the dragon banner and heat tolerance.  They needed to be bred back into the line, a task neither Robb nor Harry could accomplish.  But now…

Now there was a possibility Jon might stomach…

Oh yes.

Harry saw a future for Aegon Blackfyre in Westeros, indeed.

"I've been traveling, gathering information."  Harry answered the question that was yet hanging in the air between them as they were joined by the other leaders of the Golden Company as well as the arrived Dornish, the newly-freed Prince Quentyn among them.  "I was making my way from Essos when I happened along the sounds of battle and...well..."  He gave a blood-thirsty smirk, eyes flashing dangerously.  "When I saw who between I couldn't help myself but to assist.  Happening upon the Blackfyre Scion was simple good fortune."

Lysono Maar rolled his eyes with a quiet scoff at that, giving show to the incredulity that his companions were all likely feeling at that last tidbit.  They'd all heard Aegon name this man as the new Lord Paramount of the Iron Islands, a man that Lysono knew was in fact much more than a title.  There were rumors upon whispers upon secrets surrounding the pretty Lord of Always Winter, known throughout Westeros and even much of the known world at this point to those who pay attention to such things as the strong-right-arm of the new Targaryen King.

For him to be away from Jon Stark-Targaryen in the middle of a ruddy war and to just happen to stumble upon their Aegon would strain credulity at best.

Even if they were of a mind to give him the benefit of the doubt after watching him slaughter pirates left and right with their own eyes - or having heard of his deeds from the sellswords that made up their Company.

This was not a man to take lightly - no matter how much his explanation invited him to do just that while at the same time warning them of the danger of riling him.

Harry ran his gaze over the newly gathered men, taking in the signs of post-battle clean-up that told him he'd been out for some time.  His brow furrowed at that before smoothing.  He couldn't remember the last time he passed out without either a Voldemort-vision or having drank copious amounts of alcohol.  He would have to spend some time and meditate when he rejoined his lovers and figure out what happened.  Until he was with them once again he simply couldn't afford to let down his guard enough to investigate what was wrong with him.

Maybe he'd picked up some strange Essosi flu...or something...on his travels.

His magic protected him from most illness, it had even when he was a child, long before he became the sole focus of a planet's magical reserves, but it didn't prevent everything.

Wizards didn't suffer from diseases like cancer, pneumonia, or heart disease but they did get simple viruses like the common cold or Wizarding Flu in addition to a couple of nastier diseases like Dragon Pox - and who knew what kind of nasty germs were running around a feudal-era society like the current epoch?  If there was one thing he was glad of it was that his magic and teaching his lovers to access their own would protect them from most of the ailments that ran rampant alongside poor hygiene and faulty nutrition.

"You've taken Bloodstone."  Harry repeated what Aegon had previously stated.  "And are clearing the other islands."  He arched a brow, impressed.  "Doing what the Dornish, Lysene, Tyroshi, and Myrish have all failed to do for hundreds of years.  Impressive.  But what," he asked voice mild, as if completely unconcerned with their response, taking no note of the irritated glances the crack about the Dornish garnered him from the handful of nobles, knights, and vessel captains that had been sent by Doran to accomplish what the Golden Company had done in a matter of hours.  "Are you planning to do now?"

"That depends on the King."  Aegon gave a knowing smile as his eyes glinted in the torchlight.  "Now doesn't it?"

"That it does."  Harry nodded his head, turning to stare over at the Dornish.  "That it does.  Prince Quentyn."  He snapped out, voice cold and harsh.  "What were your orders from your father and the King once the Stepstones were taken?"  He asked for the illumination of the Golden Company commanders, knowing full-well what his lover had ordered.

The newly-freed princeling stepped forward, an embarrassed blush riding high on his sharp cheekbones over both losing his first-ever campaign and having to be rescued by sellswords and the King's paramour.  His frame had been winnowed down to muscle and bone by the confinement of more than a moon’s turn in the cells of Bloodstone, but his men who had docked at invitation from the Golden Company had brought him new clothes to replace the stained-and-ripped garments of roughspun he'd worn in his captivity...no matter how loose and ill-fitting they were now that he'd lost much of his lingering "baby-fat" during his stay with the pirates.  It gave him the lean and hungry look of an ascetic or a fanatic, his looks needing the softening of the weight he'd lost.

"We were to hold the Stepstones under a Regent."  Quentyn's voice was rough and strained from disuse.  "Until the war was finished and a Lord Paramount was installed by the King."

Harry nodded, turning back to the beautiful leader of the Golden Company.

"Only five thousand men are needed to hold the Stepstones barring an invasion from the Three Sisters."  Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh, Harry Strickland meant with his comment, one hand scratching absently at his beard.  "With the Dornish men and our own, we've still over twice that here."

"Indeed."  Tristan Rivers nodded his head in agreement.

"So the question becomes."  Aegon mused, head tilted to one side as he narrowed his eyes in thought.  "Who stays and who goes."

"And who becomes Regent."  Connington pointed out, flicking a hand at the Dornish Prince.  "He needs feeding up and the bosom of his family before Doran does his nut."

"Agreed."  Strickland said at once.  "The Golden Company won the Stepstones for the Targaryen cause not to hand it over to the Dornish."

"In that case."  Harry smiled with a flash of white teeth as they stepped neatly into the snare he'd laid for them.  He agreed of course.  The Golden Company had won the Stepstones, it wouldn't do to turn over the Regency to the Martell boy.  "I propose that the Dornish troops remain save for one ship which will escort the bulk of the Golden Company to Blackcrown to join the offensive in the Reach.  And that Lord Connington stay both as leader of the Golden Company forces who remain in the Stepstones and as Regent of Bloodstone until the war is won and Jon is on the Iron Throne."

The Dornish and the sellswords traded unease looks at that but eventually after a cursory discussion agreed with the plan set forth by the King's representative - for they made no mistake, that was exactly what Lord Potter-Black was acting as in that moment.  It was an order wrapped in a suggestion to make it more palatable.  But an order it was nonetheless.

"I'll inform Prince Oberyn to expect you after you've escorted Prince Quentyn's ship to Sunspear."  Harry spoke directly to Aegon and Harry Strickland, having clearly noted the balance of power the two were managing for the moment.  "You may encounter the Redwyne fleet but I doubt it - they're mostly tied up in protecting Old Town and the river-ports leading into the Reach and Highgarden, and are doubly hobbled by hostages taken by both sides of the war.  The Martell fleet has control of the waters south of the Shield Islands while my own Ironborn fleet as well as the Targaryen Fleet control the Sunset Sea.  You should have smooth sailing apart from a storm or two."

"Thank you for the information, Lord Potter-Black."  Aegon nodded his head formally.  "And for your assistance during the battle."

"It was my pleasure."  Harry's eyes dragged over Aegon's stunning form from silver-gilt hair to leather-clad feet, leaving none doubting that they heard a lascivious undertone to his words.  "I will bring your cousin news of your stated allegiance - I would expect a raven from him once you make landfall at Blackcrown."

And with that, Harry spun on his heel and Apparated back to Dragonstone, hitting his knees harshly as the dizzying form of travel upset his already delicate stomach.  After tossing up naught but bile and water, Harry banished his sick with a weak wave of his hand before climbing to unsteady feet.

"Bugger."  He cursed as he shook his head, carefully reapplying the glamor that he'd lost along with his breakfast.  He'd made it through that brief council on nerves and magic, hiding his weakness with the glamor.

Whatever was fucking with him, it better leave his system soon, he decided as he strode for the Chamber of the Painted Table to reset the board according to current information, giving him a better idea of where things stood.  He couldn't be tossing his cookies every time he popped from place to place or fought in a battle - he'd do nothing but vomit for months if that was the case.  He'd get to the bottom of it soon enough but first he needed to rest - a real rest - and food before Port-Keying back to his loves.

They'd been apart for nearly a fortnight; the rest of the night would make little difference...he hoped.

...

It was into another war council that Harry found himself walking into the next morning.  His port-key from Dragonstone had dropped him onto the bed in Jon's tent, exactly as it was meant to, giving him time to shuck his travel clothes and change back into his intimidating basilisk scale and dragonhide armor before setting out in search of his betrotheds.  Some of his news would have to wait for privacy between the trio, but other things he'd found and sought and heard would be welcome in the main campaign tent that Ser Mark had directed him to when the Kingsguard woke from his slumber in the antechamber of Jon's tent to investigate Harry's arrival - and the noise he'd made while getting changed.

"The Golden Tooth is a murder-field."  A voice was saying when Harry ducked through the open tent flap with a smile and nod for Prince Lewen and Ser Oswell who were standing guard outside of the campaign tent.  Ser Barristan and Lord Commander Dayne were standing at ease behind a seated Jon and Robb, while the speaking man - who looked and sounded like the Greatjon to Harry's eyes and ears even without seeing the front of the man - stood on the opposite side of the long table gesturing at the maps that were spread out on it before the King and his Lord of the North.  "There's no two ways about it.  We can take it, aye."  The Greatjon nodded before thumping a fist down on the table for emphasis, many of the Northern Lords making sounds of agreement with the statement as the other Lords and Sers watched with careful eyes.  "But it'll cost much in men and horse to do it.  A cost that will leave us weakened when we move to face the Lannister horde being gathered by Ser Stafford to reinforce Tywin's army that've been pushed back to the Crownlands and will have to face Renly."

The Greatjon sat back down, Harry taking that as his cue to step forward and move around the table to take the empty seat on Jon's right - a seat that was always left open for him at both Jon and Robb's insistence no matter how long he might be gone on his walkabouts.

Many of the Lords and Sers called out greetings, knowing full-well that he'd been sent as an envoy to King's Landing as well as to gather what information he could from his "sources."

More than one Lord was still leery of the powerful creature that was the new Lord Paramount of the Iron Islands.  Many of them considered it simple wisdom to watch him with cautious eyes and a trace of fear in their hearts - even ones like the Greatjon who prided themselves on being fearless.  He was a warrior of legend, a hero of old and great renown, one who didn't shy away from bloodshed and effectively brought an end to the Greyjoy Lordship single-handed if not that Line itself, there being no heirs beyond a trio of squabbling brothers and Balon's daughter.  A wise man would fear Lord Harry Potter-Black.  That he was the chosen paramour - and more - of their chosen King only made him that much more dangerous and worth watching.

A stupid man, however, would move to be rid of him.

Thankfully, after his easy defeat of Balon and Theon Greyjoy and his facing the Kingslayer head-on and surviving, there seemed to be a dearth of men in Jon's army who were that stupidly suicidal.

No matter how much they all disliked how favored he was by the King.

None of them wanted to die for mere dislike.

It wasn't as if he was a Lannister after all.

"Planning the attack?"  Harry asked lightly after greeting his lovers and their Lords and knights.

"Trying to anyway."  Lady Maege Mormont observed wryly.  "I don't suppose you've collected any news that'll help in the endeavor after your absence, Lord Harry?"

Jon arched a brow, wordlessly echoing Lady Mormont's question.

Harry hummed under his breath as he studied the map before them.  "Not as such."  He admitted.  "Though I do bear news.  All of which can wait while we tackle the problem at hand."

"Agreed."  Jon nodded, easily interpreting the look his lover gave him, Robb nodding minutely as well.  They would hear Harry's tidings in private before sharing what needed shared with their Lords.

Harry ran one finger along the mountain range that currently separated the Targaryen Army from the Westerlands, an idea niggling at the back of his mind as he saw the problem of the Golden Tooth.  It was the only way to move an army the size of Jon's from the Riverlands to the Westerlands without marching through the Reach and up the Ocean Road.

"What if we don't move the entire army into the Westerlands."  Robb suggested after a long moment of watching Harry play along the map.  As he spoke the idea came fuller into picture from murky memories of traversing rocky paths as Grey Wind.  "But take a small force to flank the rear of the Golden Tooth."

"Like how Stannis breached Storm's End?"  Jon provided for clarity, brow furrowed.  "No one thought of the escape route so no one thought to guard it...is that what you're thinking of, Robb?"

The Northern Lord nodded, tracing a route adjacent to the stronghold that blocked their entry into the Westerlands.

"The Leffords control the Golden Tooth as Tywin’s bannermen, and they haven't bothered to guard their flank from what our scouts report."  Robb said, voice low but still easily heard by all in the tent.  "Even a few thousand horse could take the Golden Tooth from behind with the bulk of the Lannister forces either guarding Lannisport and Casterly Rock or sitting at the forward gates of Golden Tooth awaiting orders."

"Why would they?"  Lord Karstark all but grunted as he caught on to what the Young Wolf was suggesting.  "There's no way for an army to flank them."

"Perhaps."  Jon mused, violet eyes narrow.  "Perhaps not...Robb," he turned to face his lover fully.  "Have you a way?"

"Grey Wind and Ghost found it and showed me earlier."  Robb nodded, eyes serious and calm.  "It's narrow, more of a goat's path than a true road, but mounted horse could navigate it.  We come in from behind and go for their bellies while they’re busy guarding their heads."

"Harry?"  Jon asked for the wizard's opinion.

"I've never been to Golden Tooth so magical means are out."  He said, though he knew full-well Jon preferred to do things without magical aid where possible.  It was more a statement for the Lords than his lovers anyway.  "But I could lend a little...firepower," his grin was vicious.  "To the plan."

"We'll leave you two to your planning then."  Jon announced with a wry grin at his lovers who both had a look of unholy glee on their handsome faces.  "Once you're able open the gates and we'll lead the army through and come to your aid - if aid is needed."

"Will do."  Harry agreed with a cheeky smile and salute as he and Robb stood and went to gather the men Robb would take with him under the cover of the coming night.

"How goes the raids of your Ironborn, Lord Harry?"  Ser Arthur called out before the two conspiring Lords could exit the tent.

"Well."  Harry called back.  "The Westerlands are reeling from The Crag to the Shield Islands.  Half the fleet is split between Faircastle and blockading Lannisport.  All we have to do is make it there and reinforcements will already be waiting on us.  To that end..."  He bowed out of the room, Robb at his side.

Jon turned the remaining group to discussing various contingencies for once they breach the Westerlands and discussing the repercussions of Bryndyn the Blackfish and Lord Royce’s victory over Tywin at the Fords, preventing the Old Lion from having the option of chasing the Targaryen army.  If nothing else, he'd learned very quickly that it was better to occupy his people with anything, including making plans upon plans, rather than let them get restless.  Especially if he wanted valuable hostages like the Kingslayer to survive captivity long enough for Harry to secret them away after they’d been interrogated and mined for all the information Harry – or others – could gain from them.

...

The three lovers stole away for a reunion - however brief - before Robb and Harry were due to lead the flanking assault on the Golden Tooth and win passage for the Targaryen Army into the Westerlands.

Harry had Jon inside of him and was pleasuring Robb with his mouth when he came apart, his lovers following him quickly.  He collapsed, boneless and stress-free onto Robb's heavily muscled chest, Jon tucking himself into the Northern Lord's side one arm throw over Harry's sweat-slicked back as they caught their breath.  Harry dozed for a minute or two before returning to his senses, shaking off his post-coital lethargy and preceding to fill in his lovers on the events of his journey: the visit to King's Landing and less-than-successful parlay with the Lannisters, meeting Daenerys, and his unplanned help during the sack of Bloodstone.

"What did you think of them?"  Jon asked idly, one hand stroking down Harry's flank as he turned to meet his little lover's emerald gaze.  "The other two Targaryens?"

"Daenerys isn't quite sure if she's a Queen or a scared girl just yet."  Harry said after thinking on it a moment.  "With the disgraced Mormont at her side I have high-hopes for her rejoining the last of her family and taking the port-key I gave her to Dragonstone.  A skeleton guard remains there outside of the Northern fleet guarding the Blackwater.  Having the remnants of her khalasar join them would only be a help to bolster our numbers in the Crownlands even if they never take the field."

"And Aegon?"

That was a real sticking-point.  Aegon Blackfyre could cause problems for Jon in Westeros, especially at the head of the Golden Company.  For all that Daenerys was the "Mother of Dragons" it was the mercurial Golden Company that made the larger obstacle for Jon's rule of Westeros.  If Aegon made a grab for the throne despite his assurances otherwise, it would be a headache - and a distraction - Jon could ill-afford with the massive Baratheon-Tyrell alliance still to face and the Lannisters still holding strong - if not as strong as before - in King's Landing and Casterly Rock.

"Pissed the fuck off."  Harry snorted, vividly remembering his own rebellious phase at Hogwarts after he'd found out all of the machinations and lies that had gone into his own upbringing.  In that, they weren't so different even with one being raised a false-prince and the other a false-martyr.  "And seething.  But he's honorable, I'll give Jon Connington that."  He admitted reluctantly.  "He may have lied to Aegon all his life but he raised him with a solid code, a quick mind, and a spine of Valyrian steel.  As long as we play it straight with the Blackfyre Scion we'll have nothing to worry about from that avenue."

"Good."  Robb said with a sigh, repositioning Harry on his chest to that his boney shoulder wasn't digging into his rib cage.  "The last thing we need is another Blackfyre rebellion after scouring the Westerlands and kicking the Lions out of their damned Rock."

“And you, love?”  Jon ran the fingers of his sword hand through Harry’s loosed ebon locks.  Their mage-lover rarely undid his braid save for during their times of intimacy, not even to bathe as his cleaning charms and grooming charms sufficed in the wake of the restricted resources available at times to a marching army.  “You seem…”  He trailed off, frowning, not sure of how to put the otherness he sensed to words.

Which wasn’t saying much.

Harry was at times everything Other and yet somehow still able to conceal that otherness from Jon’s lords and men.  They all knew, of course they did, that Harry was a mage and a sorcerer.  All of Westeros and beyond knew that by now.  They even knew of his being Blessed by the Stranger himself, or one of the Old Gods, or the Many-Faced God, or, or, or, depending on who they themselves worshipped and honored.  But his little love had a way of acting so much the warrior and strategist that those who weren’t as close to Harry as Jon and Robb and even the Kingsguard simply seemed to forget, somehow, everything else Harry was.

It boggled Jon’s mind at times.

But then he remembered how all his life he’d known that his Uncle-Maester Aemon was a Targaryen of the blood…but no one else seemed to see it at Castle Black, even the Lord Commander who knew of his uncle’s House.

People, in Jon’s opinion, had a way of forgetting inconvenient facts that didn’t align with their world-view.

He thought perhaps Tyrion said it best when he’d been speaking to Jon of bastards and dwarves at Winterfell before this all truly began.  He’d told him that “All dwarves are bastards in their fathers’ eyes.”  Despite women – and the rare man – dying in childbed every day, Tywin Lannister had hated his younger son since the day he was born a dwarf, despite Tyrion having the same eyes and hair as his father when he was a younger man and the sharp mind and cunning Tywin prided himself on.

Tyrion Lannister was every inch the Scion of the House of Lannister – just as Jon was every inch a Stark and a Targaryen.

But still, Tywin dismissed and belittled him because Tyrion being a perfect Lannister in all but height was inconvenient for Lord Lannister’s worldview.

Much like how the men, even after seeing for themselves Harry changing from dragon to man and transporting captives from the Twins to Castle Black, saw merely another warrior and Lord when they looked at him.  The most foolish of Jon and Robb’s men seeing even less than that as they’d announced the match between the North, the Iron Islands, and the Crown.  As if being willing to wed with Jon and Robb as their consort made Harry less of a man.

Fools.

Thanks to Harry’s spells they knew that while Robb and Jon himself were unable to bear children, Harry was.  A fact he’d known and had shared with Jon when the idea of wedding his little lover first came to him.  In Harry’s time, long before he’d been trapped, all men and women – or rather wizards and witches – were tested to prove their fertility when they came of age.

According to his little love, it was so that any marriage contracts that had been drawn up were able to be finalized or dissolved, or in some cases so that a child from a family that had declined in number didn’t tie themselves to a spouse unable to propagate the line in the case of taking a “muggleborn” or “half-blood” spouse outside of a contracted marriage.

Harry was apparently fertile both ways: able to both sire and bear children while Jon and Robb were only able to sire offspring.

Jon snorted silently in his head as he considered the picture of masculine, nearly burly, Robb swollen with child.  Now that would have been a sight to see.  He shifted as his spent manhood gave a twitch of interest as the vision of Harry similarly swelled with his heir came to him.

Looking down at a soft huff of breath he laughed quietly, meeting Robb’s enquiring gaze.  Harry’d fallen asleep while Jon lost himself in thought trying to form his question.  No matter, he’d ask again once his lovers returned from their mission of breaching the Westerlands.

“He’ll be beautiful with child.”  Jon murmured, violet-purple eyes darkened slightly with the arousal the thought gave him.  “Don’t you think, Robb?”

The Stark Lord gave a subvocal growl at the thought, his more primitive instincts roused by the thought, blue eyes turning nearly black at the idea.

Robb leaned over and met Jon in a dominating kiss, all lips and teeth as their tongues battled for dominance but neither giving way to the other.  No matter their status outside their tent, in this bed they were equals – and they reveled in it.  Reveled as well in Harry’s playful, teasing submission.  Both knew that if he desired their love could likely have both of them bound hand and foot to the bed and demand their own submission in turn – but he didn’t.  Harry gave to them, submitting with a gracious ease that stunned Robb at times.

And yet neither fooled themselves.

When it came to their bed, it was Harry who had all the power.  He allowed them to take control.  He gave to them.  And they loved and cherished him for it.  For being strong enough to kneel when most men of their time would never be able to do so in bedsport.

“Incandescent.”  Robb decided, leaning back from the play of lips and tongue and settling down to steal a nap of his own before he had to lead the vanguard through a goat’s path and into enemy territory.  He thought for a moment longer before snorting a laugh.  “And cranky.  So very, very cranky.”

...

 It was an odd sensation, Jon thought to himself, warging and seeing through Ghost's eyes as his dire wolf companion helped lead Robb and the selected vanguard through the mountain pass to flank the Westerland stronghold.

As King, he couldn't afford to venture out on every salvo, no matter how much he might like to do so.

No, that was left up to his most trusted Lords and commanders like his two lovers.  Robb had led the distraction at the Whispering Wood, allowing his main force to break the siege at Riverrun, now Robb was once more moving to out-think and out-flank the Lions while Jon waited to lead the rest of the army once the vanguard opened the gates at the Golden Tooth.  It grated at him in no small measure, this infernal waiting.

Yes, he knew it was important that he led the bulk of the army.  And he'd be damned if he waited with the rear like Tywin was known to do.  He was a Stark and a Targaryen and waiting while his loves were in danger did not sit well with him.

But, he mused as he waited in the quiet of the camp, at least he got to watch them through Ghost, splitting his attention between the quiet conversations being carried out around the fire and the craggy pass the dire wolves were leading Robb and Harry through, the wizard would change into his other form of Stormwing once he had a better visual of the Lefford forces.

The dragon was excellent for speed and intimidation but lacked somewhat when it came to stealth in the night.

Or at least that was what Harry told him when they made the plans for his dragonform to take part in the coming offensive.

The bulk of the Targaryen Army was deceptively quiet at the base of the path leading to the Golden Tooth, just out of range of the stronghold's defenses.  The Lefford commanders knew they were there but didn't make any move to come out from the safety of the walls to meet them.  Wise of him.  However, if he'd had the foresight to at least send out scouts, they might have noted and reported that while the army appeared to be settling in for a protracted siege, in reality they were merely waiting for the signal to advance.

Jon had no problems using the expectations of the Lannister bannermen against them.

Now if only this infernal waiting was over...

...

"What are we doing?"  Garlan Tyrell hissed in an aside to his older brother Willas, the Heir of Highgarden.  "We're Tyrells."  He continued, leaning over to that his lips were nearly touching Willas's ear.  It wouldn't do to be found publicly disagreeing with their Lord father.

And it didn't get much more public than riding side-by-side up the Roseroad towards the Kingswood and King's Landing to lay siege to the capitol.

"We should be marching towards the Westerlands to meet and join the Targaryen force, not throwing our lot in behind Renly of all things."  Ser Garlan, known as Garlan the Gallant, complained for the hundredth time since the two brothers had set out from Highgarden to meet with their father at his command.  "Any why?"  He scoffed, rolling his eyes.  "So Loras's lover can have a throne and marry our sweet sister."

The knight shook his head as he studied the long line of men and horse.  They were nearly to the encampment within a score of leagues from the city, where Renly for some gods-forsaken reason had set up camp rather than strike hard and fast at the city while Tywin was still reeling from his substantial losses in the Riverlands – in both men and reputation.  The only thing that made sense to either brother was that the Baratheon lordling was waiting for reinforcements before facing Tywin Lannister and a siege due to losing a great deal of the Storm Lands' support with Stannis taking Storm's End and throwing his lot in with Jon Targaryen.

Which the Tyrells should be doing.

"We're obeying our Lord father's commands."  Willas said in his calm and mild way, casting a cunning look at his brother.  "And once we have done so we will sway him into doing what he does best: vacillating.  Renly's hesitation will play against him here: we only need to convince father to allow us to take half of the Reach men and horse back southron to protect Highgarden from the Dornish invasion on the coast."  Willas's smile was nothing short of vicious as his eyes gleamed.  "And we will march the army to meet Prince Oberyn...it just may not be the confrontation our Lord father would prefer..."

...

Calling it an ambush would be too kind, Harry decided as he laid down another line of fire from high in the sky as Stormwing.

Massacre was more like it.  Or bloodbath even.  Either was appropriate for the wave of death he and Robb had unleashed against the Lefford flank.

They'd all been right: they hadn't been prepared for an attack from the rear, the back entrance of Golden Tooth had been almost completely defenseless and what defenses there were fell in mere minutes when faced with over a thousand Northern horse led by Lord Robb Stark and a pair of direwolves at his heels.  Harry as Stormwing was pure overkill but it was what Jon had ordered.  The Targaryen King wanted a decisive victory in the Westerlands to follow the swathe of broken sieges and the freeing of the majority of the Riverlands.

Darry had been taken back and the Lannister army pushed out of the Riverlands entirely with the combined might of the Northern Forces and the loyal Targaryen and Vale men.  The Riverlords had rallied with the reinforcements and together led the charge to take back their homes and fortresses.  With the bulk of the Vale and Riverlord forces left behind, the Crownland Targaryen loyalists (those not waiting for the attack on King's Landing anyway) and Northern Forces moved into the Westerlands without having to leave men behind to garrison Riverrun or the other Riverland fortresses such as Darry and Harrenhal.

With Tywin's forces being repelled at the Fords and they had to move back to protect King's Landing and meet the Tyrell/Baratheon army, leaving the Riverlands open to being retaken - and Jon had taken full advantage of that while they waited for the full reinforcements to arrive and for their men to rest and recover from the first battles of Jon's campaign.

Jon had wanted a decisive victory in Tywin's home region...looking over the field of bloody and broken bodies and the fortress that was blazing from Stormwing's dragonfire, Harry would have to say he and Robb had delivered as promised.

Harry himself had landed after shifting back into his human form and slipped through the garrisoned men to open the gates for Jon's greater force before taking back to the skies.

Now the only thing waiting between the Golden Tooth and Lannisport was a scattering of garrisons and the rest of the force Ser Stafford Lannister had mustered which were encamped either at Oxcross or near Ashemark.  If he listened hard he fancied he could hear Tywin's teeth grinding all the way from the Kingswood.  Harry smirked to himself as he heard his name being hailed by his King.

The day was won.

To Ashemark, and Oxcross, then onto Casterly Rock they would go.

...

Harry landed and shifted back to his human form, wobbling a bit on his feet under the worried watchful eyes of his lovers.

Robb rushed to his side, steadying him with a warm, firm hand to his lower back as Harry took several deep breaths, struggling to hold his lunch down as the same ailment as during the siege of Bloodstone threatened to have him on his knees once more.

"What is it, Harry love?"  Jon moved to flank his other side, exchanging a concerned look with Robb.

They'd both noticed Harry being a bit more lethargic than normal, not as quick on his feet or with his tongue for that matter.  He'd been almost silent during the council after his arrival and not much more talkative when they'd been alone after reaffirming their bonds.  It was unlike him to say the least.  Even when doing large pieces of magic, he'd never acted such afterwards.

To men who had watched lord and smallfolk alike taken by mysterious ailments and small injuries, it was enough to scare them to death seeing their lover so changed without known cause.

Leaning into them and allowing them to bear some of his weight, Harry closed his eyes as he breathed, eventually shaking his head slowly as he answered Jon's worried query.

"I'm not sure."  He said at last, his teething worrying at his lip for a moment as Jon and Robb led him towards Jon's newly set up tent.

The King's quarters was one of the first things set up after each troop movement or battle, preceded only by the medic tents - and even that was on Jon's own insistence that the wounded came first.  Normally they would be barracking in Golden Tooth after routing the occupying force but...dragon fire wasn't easy to put out by any means.  Nor was it kind to walls whether made of wood, stone, or dragonglass as Harrenhal and now Golden Tooth could attest.  They'd be bunking under a canvas top and the open sky once more.

Jon narrowed his gaze on his little love before realizing: "This isn't the first time this has happened...is it?"

Harry sighed and shook his head, finally telling them the whole of events at Bloodstone as Jon and Robb joined forces to strip him of his armor, wipe him down, and tuck him into bed after making him have a light snack and some water.

"And have you?"  Robb demanded to know, meaning Harry's intention to meditate and discover what was causing his dizzy spells.

"Not as of yet."  The exhausted mage admitted around a wide yawn.  "Haven't had time.  Councils, sieges, battles.  Maybe in the morning."

"You better."  Jon stated firmly, sharing a decisive glance with Robb over the nearly-asleep wizard's ebony head.  "I'm not going to lose my first Consort before I even bond with him because he was being a stubborn mare over a strange illness."

"M'kay."  Harry mumbled, turning his face into the down pillows and burrowing in.  "Love you."

Jon bent down and pressed a kiss to one sleepy cheek, Robb echoing his movement, before the two of them left the tent and their slumbering lover behind.  A look from his King had the Kingsguard Prince Lewen entering the tent to stand guard in the bedchamber portion until the King and the rest of the guard returned.  The Kingsguard tended to stay in the antechamber when all three of their current charges were present, but when only one was kipping in the tent, his guard took up position beside the bed while another watched from outside the tent, in this case Lewen inside and Barristan without.

All of the Kingsguard had participated in the battle in one way or another.

Oswell who had taken to his charge of protecting Robb very well, his dark humor getting along famously with Robb's own pragmatism, had fought in the flanking maneuver along with Lewen who had accompanied Harry until the wizard had taken wing - literally.  Barristan, Arthur, and Mark had all stayed at Jon's side during the charge of the army and sacking of Golden Tooth.  Once the army had breached the citadel Harry had laid off his fiery attacks and had focused on the Westerland men facing Robb, but there were still many men who had ended up burnt from the flames among their men regardless, Ser Mark among them.

Dragon fire was hard to put out.  Handy in a battle but less so in the aftermath as Ser Mark had discovered to his own chagrin.  Harry would be upset that he had had instances of "friendly fire" during the battle but it couldn't be helped.  Jon wanted the Lannisters to have a fear of dragons and Targaryens ground into their very bones.  To that end, he had finally allowed Harry to use his overwhelmingly terrifying magical form.  It wasn’t going to be often that Harry’s powers took precedence over his sword, but even Jon could admit there were times when his ability to create shock and awe came before Jon’s own insistence on winning Westeros back through force-of-arms and creating respect among both the highborn and smallfolk alike.

Thankfully Harry’s sword-arm was nothing to scorn, the mage being just as proficient if not more-so than any of the knights in Jon’s army save perhaps Robb, Jon, and the knights of the Kingsguard…though Jon wasn’t sure as there’d not been many chances to test Harry against the knights of renown.  He was always away either healing or traveling to gather information.  Jon made a mental note to have Harry duel with both himself and Robb as well as the Kingsguard where the Lords and knights of his forces could watch.

If nothing else, seeing the Warrior-Who-Waits go toe-to-toe with the Sword of Morning or Barristan the Bold ought to silence the detractors who liked to kick up a fuss over Harry’s seemingly “submissive” position within their coming marriage or his magical abilities.

For the love of the gods, Jon couldn’t understand how some of the men thought that a Lord with the appellation “Warrior-Who-Waits” and who had taken the Mountain captive, even facing off and surviving against the Kingslayer, could be a milquetoast.

It boggled his mind and brought him back around to his thoughts before the battle of people being willing to discard any and all facts and evidence that ran contrary to their views of the world and how things should work.

Idiots.

He was tempted to allow them to keep their opinions, knowing that one day someone was going to mouth off at the exact wrong time and have to face a pissed-off Harry for themselves, who would likely shove their opinions right up their moronic asses.

But at the end of the day…he really couldn’t afford to lose any men to Harry’s temper when they still had both Tywin Lannister to meet in battle as well as Renly Baratheon and Mace Tyrell.

The duels between Harry and the Kingsguard would have to do until the throne was won…then maybe he’d finally get to see Harry make an idiotic Lord eat their words in single combat.

"What's the count?"  Jon asked of Ser Arthur as the Sword of Morning joined the procession towards the medic tents.  It was the first thing he asked after every battle or siege after making sure his lovers and close friends were safe.

Thankfully Cris was still tucked away in the North though he wasn't sure how long he could keep the Celtigar Heir there.  Now that the Dreadfort and the Twins have been garrisoned with loyal men he got ravens twice or more a week from his old friend asking to bring a small force to meet them.  Honestly Jon was close to agreeing just so he wouldn't have to read the damned things anymore.  Studying Ser Arthur as the idea of Harry dueling him played in his mind he half-wished Cris wasn’t Lord Celtigar’s eldest son and Heir.  Ser Arthur like the rest of the Kingsguard was looking a bit care-worn from the fortnight of marching, guarding his tent at night, and the recent battle.  With only five Kingsguard that meant that only one of his guard was able to sleep the night through every night with having to have two on watch.  Jon had demanded that they only have four-hour shifts in the night instead of the normal night-long shifts but they were still showing fatigue.  He could use Cris or their joint friend Ser Justin, the Massey Heir on the Kingsguard.  He had two slots to fill now that he had Ser Barristan sworn into his service.

And not a candidate to be found that wasn’t also a Lord or Lord’s Heir.

At least not that he could trust.

Knights like Ser Arthur’s cousin Ser Gerold “Darkstar” Dayne or the Kingslayer weren’t to be trusted even if they would consent to joining the Kingsguard.  And the other few knights of renown that weren’t a Lord, an Heir, or already sworn into the Kingsguard were either serving in the Baratheon army or among the Lannisters.  Men of the North rarely took to the Faith of the Seven and official knighthood, the same with the Ironborn.

Damnit all, he needed two more members of the Kingsguard, especially with making Robb and Harry his official betrotheds.

At this rate he might have to talk to Robb about seeing if some of the Northern calvary such as Dacey Mormont or the Smalljon might be interested in joining the Kingsguard – no matter the blowback it might cause over them not being official Knights.  Lewen wasn’t either and had served as faithfully as Ser Arthur and more faithfully than Ser Jaime.

It wasn’t as if Jon himself followed the Faith, being raised by his uncle Ned and bearer Benjen, both who were devout followers of the old gods.

But it was a worry for another day, as Ser Arthur started speaking, voice firm despite his visible – to Jon who knew him better than any but the other Kingsguard members – exhaustion.

"A total loss on the side of the Lannister bannermen."  Ser Arthur reported, eyes grim.  "Lefford refused to order a retreat even when it was clear they were routed.  Ser Rupert Brax ordered the retreat once the Lefford commander was killed by Lord Karstark in single combat.  The path they took will have them meeting with the remaining Lannister force outside Ashemark."

“Single combat?”  Jon arched a brow.  Lord Karstark had been seething ever since Jon refused to put Ser Jaime to the sword.  His two younger sons had faced Jaime and fallen – but thanks to Harry weren’t killed and had recovered and rejoined the army before they left Riverrun.  Perhaps he’d decided to unleash that rage on the first Lannister knight he saw, this time Lord Tywin’s cousin rather than his son.

Robb nodded, rolling his eyes a bit, knowing as well as Jon did what likely motivated Lord Karstark.  “He’s been better since.”  Robb’s voice had a weary tinge.  He’d heard all he could stand from Lord Karstark over Jon’s keeping Lannister hostages rather than kill them out of hand.  “It seems having his sons survive and getting his fill of Westerland blood has dampened his temper.”

And it was about time something did before the man became a liability they couldn’t afford.

"And our men?"

"Some losses."  Robb said, knowing the answer.  "But less than a thousand all-told between the van and the siege forces."

"Stevron Frey is among the injured."  Arthur added.  "He needs seeing to by Lord Harry once he's awake and able or Stevron may not make it to Ashemark alive."

Jon thought on that for long moments as they made their way through the medic tents, bolstering morale and helping where they could with the skills Harry had been trying to beat into their skulls for months.  Finally, he made a decision after seeing Stevron for himself.  The Frey heir had been a staunch ally despite the wickedness and treason of his family and House.  He didn't deserve to die from a festering wound if it could be helped.

Calling for boiled water, Jon rucked up his own sleeves and prepared to do what he could ordering:

"Give Harry another hour."  He said to Ser Arthur.  "If he's not up by then have Lewen wake him."

"Are you sure, Jon?"  Robb asked as he washed himself and set to helping the King tend the wounded with ease gained by helping their lover after every battle and skirmish.  "He looked done in."

"It's what Harry would want."  Jon sighed, taking in the wound ripping across Stevron's chest before setting to work.  The most he could do was clean the wound and give it a fresh wrapping.  Anything else would have to wait for his tired little lover.  "He wouldn't forgive himself if men died while he slept and you know it as well as I."

"Aye."  Robb shook his head as he wiped away blood and dirt from the wound.  "That's true enough.  He's a stubborn creature our betrothed."

"I wouldn't have him any other way."

...

After being rushed from his bed to the healing tents, Harry did all he could to help Ser Stevron.

Fortunately for the Frey scion, all he could was more than any other in Westeros could boast, Harry clearing the infection and sealing the wound, though it took him hours and energy he could scarce afford before moving on to doing what he could for the rest of the injured.  Times like this he was thankful for the quick minds and steady hands of both his lovers and the Kingsguard as they all helped pass out his healing concoction – he still couldn’t bring himself to call it a potion with Snape’s snide voice in his head – and cleaned wounds, doing much of the prep work and leaving him with only the most serious of cases.  The healers and woods-witches who came with the army followed his directions as well, having learned under his tutelage at Riverrun and even the most set in their ways men and women weren’t keen to face another tongue lashing under an increasingly cranky Lord Harry.

For now, the healing was done and the dead had been buried according to their traditions or the bodies sent home under guard.  They were breaking camp in the morning to take Ashemark and Oxcross before marching straight to Lannisport and Casterly Rock to meet with the Martell army and the bulk of Harry’s Ironborn marauders.  He found himself mildly shocked that in the weeks since he’d been made Lord of the Iron Islands and set down his decrees about their former behavior while raiding that there’d yet to be a raider who had disobeyed him.

He’d cast a ward over all of the captains present at the Lordsmeet at Pyke, one that replicated and attached to their crews and from there spread to every captain and crew those met (at times like this he loved the excess magic he could pull from the earth.  He’d never would have been able to do that bit of spellwork if there was an active magical community like the one he’d known in Britain.)  Which told him two things either: One, his men hadn’t come into contact with the men reaving under Victarion Greyjoy.  Or, Two, Greyjoy’s men were conceding to his rules…until Victarion or Euron naysaid him.  He knew either of the Greyjoy brothers – or both – would test him.  It was only a matter of when.

Honestly…they were showing much more restraint than he initially thought any Greyjoy was capable of.  Though perhaps it was only Balon and his ilk that were so impulsive.  And maybe Aeron who was still trying to cause problems from Pyke.  Not that the priest was having any success.  If Death’s little show had accomplished nothing else, the Ironborn now had a hefty fear of just who their new lord served.

Sinking down into lotus position after soaking away the sweat and stink of healing for hours on end, Harry sighed and let his muscles relax and his magic connect with the earth, letting himself drift for almost an hour as his magic replenished before turning his thoughts inwards and going from inactive communion to active meditation.

Spiralling both his innate magic and the wild magic of Westeros through him, he sought the cause of his current malaise.

He knew Jon and Robb were worried, it showed in their shadowed eyes whenever they looked at him since seeing his wobble after the siege of Golden Tooth.  His report of a worse but similar event while helping take Bloodstone had only compounded their worries.  And the Kingsguard and the dire wolves weren’t helping matters with their hovering over him.

It was almost as if they knew something he and his lovers didn’t but Harry couldn’t even come to guess how that might be.  Ghost and Grey Wind…now that made a sort of sense.  He remembered well that animals in modern times before he was imprisoned were purported to be able to sense illness, even serious maladies like cancer and heart disease.  Or they could simply be responding to his lovers’ own distress.  Either way, the dire wolves behaving oddly wasn’t so odd.

But the Kingsguard…now that threw him.

Especially as they were in turns attentive and, dare he say it, entertained.

He was tempted to corner Lewen or Arthur and demand answers from them but first he wanted to see for himself if his magic could answer what was wrong with him.

It had never failed him before, even if at times he didn’t immediately understand what he was shown in his meditative trances.  In time the answer always became clear.  He had to trust that even in a new time and new lands with new illnesses and diseases that his magic wouldn’t fail him.

Breathing in and out in a familiar, rhythmic fashion, Harry sank deeper into himself, finding first his pulsing magical core which had changed when he woke in Westeros from the deep vibrant green it was once upon a time to a bright, brilliant gold, likely the result of him soaking up and taking in the ambient magics of the world for ages upon eons.  Even if Harry’s plans bore fruit and he managed to help kick-start a repopulation of magicals – both creatures and people – in Westeros, he rather thought that his core would stay the same.  It had simply been too deeply entwined with the wild outpouring of magic for far too long for it to disconnect from it completely, even if there were a thousand-thousand magicals born to help lift the burden of magic’s expectations from Harry’s shoulders.

Magic wanted to be used, it needed and yearned to do something, anything except stagnate and die.

It was one of the reasons Harry was so careful to use contraceptive charms on himself when he laid with his lovers.  All that excess of magic would make him more fertile than a rabbit after a Beltane ritual.  Magic wanted to be used, he could feel it in his bones, and that also meant making more magic users.

And any offspring of himself, even with a completely-magicless person which Jon and Robb were most assuredly not, would be highly magical with his connection to the wild magics of the land.

Contraceptive charms were the friends of horny wizards everywhere who were stuck in a war and not yet ready for sprogs running amok.

Even if he was certain any children of himself and his lovers would be ruddy-adorable.

He sent his magic spiraling through his extremities, starting with the most outside points of his body and slowly, slowly, pulling his magic inward, searching for any anomalies or changes that might be the cause of his current lethargy and, well, delicate for lack of a better word, stomach.  The dizziness wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either when he found himself having to rely on Prince Lewen or a handy bed in the healing tents if he stood too fast after working over one of the wounded men.  And the git of a Dornishman hadn’t let him live it down since, the teasing getting worse with every time he found himself teetering a bit on his feet.

The arsehole.

It wasn’t until he came to his hips that he met any resistance.

To be precise: when he felt the pulse of his magic coming into contact with another magical core.

And not merely one but two.

Emerald eyes snapping open in shock, he felt his busy mind grind to a halt.

Two magical cores were sitting pretty as you please in his abdomen, exactly where his womb…er…sac he supposed it would be if he’d, in a moment of idiocy, had forgotten to cast contraceptive charms.

As his mind and memory kicked back in gear he let out a choked laugh at the irony of his discovery considering the topic he’d just been musing over while trying to find the cause of his current symptoms.  He flashed to his lovers’ decision to double team him before he’d left for King’s Landing, letting out a hiss as his eyes narrowed.  Those ruddy bastards…  He grit his teeth, remembering as a certain someone refused to let him stop and cast any spells.

Magic crackled off of him in little snaps and sparks as Prince Lewen eyed him cautiously from his post standing guard against the interior wall of the tent.  Caution that turned to surprise, and then glee, as he caught sight of the look on his charge’s face as the little lord climbed to his feet, one hand resting for a bare moment on his lower abdomen as he stormed out of the tent.  Lewen hid a laugh in a cough as he rushed out at Lord Harry’s heels, one thought on his mind as he followed the irate mage…

I should have taken Oswell’s bet over Harry’s reaction when he figured it out…Ser Barristan’s disapproval or not, it would have been worth it to win a week off night-guard and ten gold dragons…

As it was Jon and Robb were sparring, giving the men a good show, and Harry one hells of an audience, as they broke camp and waited to move out when a very irritated Harry came upon them the morning they were to set out from Golden Tooth.

"You two."  He hissed as they both stopped mid-swing at the sight of their lover, hair flying and eyes hot almost running through camp over to them, fury ripe with every pump of his legs and arms.  "Are so dead."

Eyes wide, Jon and Robb exchanged a quick glance, clearly each asking the other if he knew what had their lover up in arms.  An identical shrug from each was their answer, the whole thing taking less than a minute as Harry watched and seethed, the Kingsguard - including his own who had barely kept pace - moving to prevent any bloodshed.  They all knew that the Lord wouldn't likely carry out his threat against their King but...the look in his eyes told them not to chance it.  Even if their King likely deserved it if the signals from Lewen were right and Lord Harry had finally figured out what the Kingsguard – and they were pretty sure the dire wolves – had known since Lord Harry had returned from his second round of travels.

"What's wrong, love?"  Jon asked, voice pitched to sooth.

"What's wrong, what's wrong?"  Harry hissed, almost falling into Parseltongue in his rage, emerald eyes shining like the Killing Curse.  "I'll tell you what's wrong.  You better hurry this fucking campaign up or change your mind about our bonding date, that's what's wrong."

"What?"  Robb started to ask in clear confusion only to get cut off by the infuriated vision before him.

"You ruddy bastards who decided to pounce on me before I left fucking knocked me up."  His voice was low and quiet but no less deadly for not wanting to have his current state advertised throughout Westeros.

"Huh?"  Was the oh-so-articulate response from the King of Westeros and his Lord Paramount of the North.

"I'm fucking pregnant you irritating twats!"  He burst out, the Kingsguard - thankfully the only ones also close enough to hear him exchanging knowing glances as Jon and Robb rapidly lost their coloring turning deathly pale at the surprise news.  "I normally use spells to prevent conception since the middle of a fucking war isn't the ideal time for me to bear your fucking heirs.  But nooo."  His tone was mocking as he smacked first Jon and then Robb in the chest sharply.  "You two wanted to play.  I will not be bearing the Heirs to Winterfell and the Iron Throne out of fucking wedlock, Jon!"  He hissed glaring.  "Either speed this campaign the fuck up or change when and where we're bonding.  Wankers!"

He spun on his heel and strode back towards their tent, having left it rather precipitously when his meditation session yielded results on just what was ailing him.  Granted, he thought he was entitled to a goodly dose of startlement and rage since having twins wasn't on his to-do list until after the Lannisters were defeated and Jon was ensconced on the Iron Throne.  Or at all for that matter, having a multiple birth not ever occurring to him despite it being common among magical bearing males of wizarding origin.

Fucking fertile wankers.  He thought petulantly to himself as he settled back down onto the rug beside the brazier with a pout to finish grounding his magic.  And their fucking super sperm.

...

"Did he just...?"  Robb asked faintly, eyes wide as he stared at an equally-shocked Jon.

"Yes."  The King of Westeros answered, voice weak as he gave a slow nod.  "Yes he did."

"Are you going...?"

"Of course I am."  Jon hissed himself, eyes narrowing as he turned and stared off towards the West and Casterly Rock, ideas already floating in his mind.

"Fuck me."  Robb ran one shaking hand through his hair.  "Twins, mayhap one each, I don't..."  He blew out a breath and tried to fashion actual complete thoughts.

First things first.

Harry said twins, and Heirs to both Houses.

Think Robb, think. 

Then it came to him.  Harry’d told them when they discussed having children that magical male pregnancies depended on two things: the power of the bearer and sire and the number of lovers the bearer laid with during their fertile period.  He’d cast spells which confirmed that Robb and his cousin/lover Jon were both fertile sires.  And they were both of magical stock else Harry wouldn’t be training them.  That combined with Harry’s powers – which while he downplayed them at times everyone and their horse knew were considerable.  Therefore twins and likely one from each of them since the event Harry alluded to had both of them taking him and planting their seed within a short time frame.

That led to other thoughts.

The first of which was exactly how long they had before Harry would give birth...which was their new deadline for the bonding or their little love would no doubt take great pleasure in castrating them.

So he asked.

"How long are male pregnancies again?"

"Depends."  Jon said, thinking of his own lessons with his bearer.  "First pregnancies tend to be shorter because the body hasn't adjusted yet, and multiples shorter yet.  He should be about a turn..."  Jon did a quick calculation.  "We probably have been five or six turns before we're in trouble."

"That's about right, your Grace."  Ser Arthur commented lowly, matching the quiet tones the two new fathers-to-be were using as they huddled together ignoring the avid eyes of the gathered men.  "Benjen carried yourself to eight turns which is common for a male birth if a little late for a first."

"There's no way we can take King's Landing in that timeframe, Jon."  Robb shook his head.  "It's just not possible with the way you've planned the campaign."

"He's correct, my king."  Barristan nodded a bit worried, it was a good campaign plan.  And they were too deep into it now to deviate over much.

"Damn it all."  Jon burst out, throwing up his hands in exasperation.  "Then the Great Sept is out...which isn't too big a loss, despite the issues with the Faith and the southron lords it’ll create, I follow the Old Ways and Harry isn't exactly devout to anything despite the Stranger's interest in him.  What does that leave us with?"

"Dragonstone."  Was Robb's suggestion.  "Or Riverrun or Winterfell."

"Perhaps."  Ser Oswell's voice was thoughtful.  "But there's another option, one that even the High Septon would have problems disavowing...my childhood home."

"Harrenhal?"  Ser Arthur arched a brow.  It was hardly a cursed castle was hardly a customary site for a royal bonding or coronation, which in this case needed to go hand-in-hand.

"Harrenhal."  Ser Oswell nodded then explained.  "It has the largest godswood outside of the North and with the proximity to God's Eye and the Stoney Sept the Faith of the Seven would have a hard time kicking up a fuss.  And since it's already been retaken all his Grace will need to do is finish the campaign in the Westerlands and march the army down the Gold Road.  Which is possible within the new timeframe."

"Harrenhal."  Jon ruminated on that for a moment before nodding.  "An excellent compromise, thank you Ser Oswell."  He said before giving the command to hurry up breaking camp.  "After all."  He joked, "we're under a deadline now.  No time to faff about with needing to bond my beautiful betrotheds before the close of the year."

“Stuff it.”  Was Robb’s cheery-yet-irritated response to being called beautiful.  Jon only did that shit to bother him the twat.  Robb could be called many things with his great height and muscle mass: handsome, masculine, even burly.  But beautiful was reserved for fine-edged faces and lithe figures like their little lover or even Jon himself.  Not for men who were almost as big as the Umbers or the late Robert Baratheon.

"Are you intending to announce it?"  Ser Barristan asked tentatively trying to divert the fight brewing before it could take wing.  "Rumor has run rampant ever since you had Lords Stark and Potter-Black share your tent."

"We will."  Jon waved a hand grandly.  "Before we set out from the Riverlands I ordered ravens and criers sent out to every town and castle in Westeros to announce the betrothal of Targaryen, Stark, and Potter-Black.  It's only here among our forces where I've not made a clear statement beyond our night arrangements.  A situation that I'll change once we make camp once more.  For now, we need to rout the remaining Lannister forces at Ashemark and Oxcross before meeting Harry's Ironborn to take Lannisport and Casterly Rock.  Until the Westerlands are scoured clean of the Lion's stench I cannot wed with my lovely bearer of my Heir...and if I don't want to lose my bollocks we better be quick about it."

...

Thereafter saw a happier - if increasingly nauseas and cranky - Harry with the news that the often stubborn-minded Jon had agreed to change his plans for both their bonding and coronations.  As Sirius had told him regarding his own early birth "babes wait for neither magic nor man" and expecting a pair of twins for a first birthing to sit calmly until full-term would be foolhardy.  Harry would sooner force Jon and Robb to marriage at wandpoint than have the children of his lovers be scorned as bastards in this era he'd found himself.  Though that resolution came after Harry came to terms with being pregnant during a fucking war in the first place.  Especially in the current age.

It was strange to him, this new time.

Often, it was as different from his own as to be a new world, with Harry having no firm grasp on just how much time - or even how many epochs - had come and gone whilst he was trapped in his endless nightmare.

Westeros might as well be a different planet or dimension so separate it was from all he'd known.

If it wasn't for the magics of the world being so familiar - if overwhelming from disuse - he would have thought Death had plucked up his tomb and plopped him down elsewhere instead of him waking elsewhen.

Thankfully male pregnancy and birth was known in this time if not overly practiced as his Jon could attest.  And for good reason.  Without excellent medical care or strong magic, male pregnancy was exceedingly dangerous.  It was only through Benjen's uncle the late Jon Arryn, Lord of the Vale, and that man's insistence on his sister's children having a well-rounded education that included basic medicine and herblore that Jon's bearer even survived to convince his elder brother to join his cause in protecting his son and the true Heir to the Iron Throne.

The gods knew Benjen couldn't trust a Maester after what happened with Lyanna's poisoning.

Most males who give birth only do so once, taking precautions afterwards via a sheath made of sheep intestines or the less-useful method of pulling out during sex.  If they survived the birthing that is.  Then there were the others that either died to bring their children into the world or who were too damaged from birthing to bear another child.

It was no wonder that male-only relationships had fallen out of favor with the decline of magic usage in Westeros that coincided, from what Harry could tell, with the decline of the Children of the Forest and the arrival of the Andals and their Faith.

Having an active and strong magical core does much to alleviate the dangers of being a male bearer - something that Harry's schooling in Wizarding Great Britain said was possible in a third of the male population, though that number was likely different in Westeros.  Magic could help heal its user, protect them from side-effects of illness or injury, and speed recovery.  A magical practitioner, or a person with an active magical core such as a warg, was less prone to things like fevers and infection.

It made sense that it was only in the Houses where the Faith had less sway and Maester's were considered more of a teacher for children than a mouthpiece of all wisdom that males were better able to survive a pregnancy, with both the Faith and the Citadel decrying magic and magic usage.

Houses such as House Stark and House Targaryen.

Jon and Robb watched him that night as they camped and he took a deep breath, waving his wand in a series of flicks, curves, and swirls while intoning Indicium infans natal, which should give him the most information available on his twins.  He'd waited for the day's journey to be done and his lovers to join him before casting any kind of diagnostic.  His meditation and grounding of his magics had simply relayed the new magical growth and two cores in his…well it wasn't quite a womb...more like a sac?  Yes, he decided.  It was more a sac formed by his magic then it was a true womb.

He didn't have ovaries for one thing...or menses.

Or a yoni when it came down to it, hence the need for a caesarian birth.

Magic could do a lot but it didn't go that far thankfully.  He didn't know if he could deal with magically growing a whole new orifice because his lovers distracted him from casting contraceptive spells while he was also in "season" for lack of a better term.  Male bearers didn't have a monthly cycle like females, instead having a time where their hormones, bodies, and magic aligned just right to make them a fertile "planting" ground instead of having fertile "seed."

Harry was glad he'd paid attention to that rant of Hermione's while they were still friends and going through the wizarding version of sex ed.  Gods knew he'd been too embarrassed by the subject at twelve and then during the fertility testing at seventeen to pay attention to Madame Pomphrey.  That it'd been an aged witch presiding over both in the first place didn't help matters any.

As he finished the spell a blue light surrounded his lower abdomen to Jon and Robb's visible delight, before separating into a pair of lights, one a deeper blue than the other though both were vibrant and beautiful.  Two pieces of parchment popped into being, and a soft whooshing sound filled the tent.

"Is that...?"  Jon asked shocked at the sound.

Harry did some quick math in his head before shaking his head.  "It's too early to be their heartbeats."  He explained as he ate up the words on the parchment with his eyes.  It was the results of his diagnostic.  "I can cast another spell in a week or two and try again.  They should be audible by then."

Now that the trance was broken Robb had a question of his own, one he felt was very pertinent.

"What do the colors mean?"  And why was one darker than the other, he wondered but didn't ask, hoping that their little love would answer without him having to prod him.

"Boys."  Harry gave them a smile as bright as the sun as proud grins broke out on both handsome faces and he found himself sandwiched between them as they cuddled him and tried to smother him with kisses.  Laughing despite feeling squashed he continued knowing that trying to bat them away wouldn't accomplish much in the rush of knowing that they were going to be fathers and their Houses and Lines were secured for the moment.  “An heir each.”  According to the sires listed by the diagnostic.  "Both strong, one a little more magically inclined than the other but both will have power."

That silenced them for a moment.

Both Robb and Jon had understood in an abstract way that with their own slight talents and inclination towards using the natural magics that Harry was teaching them as well as Harry's own massive well of power that any children they might father with him could very well be magical too.

But having it actually happen was something else indeed.

"Magical."  Robb breathed, eyes the size of saucers.  "Magical Heirs.  By the gods..."

"You'll teach them."  Jon said with certainty, seeing the almost-wary look in those bright green eyes.  "And with magic they'll live longer, be less prone to sickness, just like you."

"That's right."  Harry hid the breath of relief he let out...but not very well.  They knew much of his story, and understood his worry, but still if they weren't so ecstatic over their unborn sons both of his lovers might have felt slighted that he thought they'd reject magical offspring.  Especially as much as they each loved him and he was as magical as anything in their world save the gods themselves.  "And with our bonding you two will share my longer lifespan as well.  Jon, love, you could very well be King for two hundred years once we're bonded.  Robb as well as Lord of Winterfell.  Though," he gave a wry grin thinking of that old bastard Dumbledore who had clung to his titles until they were stripped from him by either a higher power or death.  "At some point you might want to turn over your seats to our sons or even grandsons or great-grandsons to rule."

Two hundred years.

The present but pretending-to-be-invisible Kingsguard traded shocked glances over the heads of the still-talking to-be-parents as Harry went over the rest of the information about their unborn heirs.

This was only the two hundred and ninety-eighth year after Aegon's Conquering of the Seven Kingdoms.

And Harry had just said that Jon could rule for a time as long as more than two-thirds of the length of the Targaryen dynasty.

Even the most devout among them couldn't deny that such a thing was a strong argument in favor of supporting magical growth and offspring in Westeros.  Imagine the good that could have been done had a King as great as Daeron the Good or the amazing feats Aegon the Conqueror or Jaehaerys the Conciliator could have accomplished had they lived so long...  But then...there was also the atrocities that could follow as well were a Maegor the Cruel or an Aerys the Mad allowed to rule for two centuries.

Though as such things go, a King such as those last two names would likely be killed before they ever approached such a long life, magic be damned.

Grey Wind and Ghost, with knowing canine grins, came over and shoved their way into the three-way cuddle going on at the bed.  It was about time their people realized they had pups on the way.  The dire wolves chuffed as callused hands scratched at pointed ears just right.  Humans.  Such slow creatures.  It was good they had the two of them to look after them, otherwise who knew what might come of them, even the one that smelled of storms and growing things tended to be silly when it came to simple things such as pups, that it’d taken him weeks longer than them to figure out he was in-pup was merely proof that Ghost and Grey Wind were needed more than ever now.

...

That night, Jon dreamed:

He saw a burning Wood, alight with green fire - wildfire.

Then a girl - no a woman - surrounded by blooded swords and cradling a trio of dragons, her silver-gilt hair dripping with dark blood that was nearly black.

Then a half-man, his friend Tyrion, enraged and holding a crossbow, a look of murder on his face which was marred viciously by a scar.

He saw Sansa crying and tearing at her mattress, trying to hide the proof of her flowering.

Arya with shorn hair, followed by a boy with pitch-black hair and bright blue eyes of an age with Sansa, a pair of men in armor in front and behind them though he couldn't see their sigils.

There was a burning woman atop a wall and a Wight with a crown of ice upon his head facing each other though a thousand leagues separated them.

And still he dreamed...

...

Jon woke with a gasp, already reaching for the dagger under his pillow, waking Harry and Robb as they slumbered at his side, Harry tucked into Jon who was resting - however badly - in the center of their bed.

The gasp summoned their night guard as if by Harry's magic, Ser Oswell ducking at once into the bedchamber of the tent, sword at the ready.

"My King?"  He asked in a low growl, eyes searching the corners of the tent for any danger.

"It's nothing, Ser Oswell."  Jon told him with a sigh, tucking his dagger back under his pillow and waving him away as he prepared himself for his lovers' questions.

Neither Harry nor Robb was the sort to be placated with a word and a wave, no matter how tired they were.

"I've slept beside you for turn after turn."  Harry said in his sleepy rasp.  "And never have I known you to spring up from sleep like that, let alone to go for a weapon.  What's wrong, my dragon?"

Robb didn't say anything just scooted closer on the bed and wrapped Jon in his heavily muscled arms, Harry snuggling into the gap left with Robb's move, tucking himself into the two larger men in an offer of comfort and warmth.

"I dreamed."  Jon began, searching his mind for how to explain it.  "Of many things.  Most didn't make sense to me but others..."

"Targaryens are known for having premonitions, Jon."  Robb reminded him, drawing all of their minds to the most famous of Targaryen seers Daenys the Dreamer who foresaw the Doom and in doing so saved her family and those sworn to them when her father Aenys moved all of them to Dragonstone twelve years before the volcanoes set fire to the very air above Valyria and set the land to fire and smoke.  "Could it be that Harry's lessons have woken this gift in you?"

It was a question posed equally to both king and mage.

"It's possible."  Harry said with a shrug after a moment of contemplation.  "I've focused mostly on meditation and strengthening Jon's connection to Ghost as I have with you Robb.  Though Jon has shown a predisposition towards tapping into and using natural magics we haven't explored that much yet."  Harry leaned back a moment and eyed Jon's tired but handsome face.  "If the predisposition was already there than the little I've taught you could have woken a latent talent.  The same could be said of you, Robb.  And with any other talent premonitions or any form of second-sight has benefits and detriments."

Jon grimaced saying: "The detriments are easy enough to see.  I feel like Ser Arthur has put me through my paces after waging a battle for days on end."

"It's not just that."  Harry cautioned.  "Visions are subjective and change as circumstances change.  My own prophecies are excellent examples: had a madman not believed the first I never would have had to kill him.  Had the Starks not believed the second, I wouldn't be awake and pregnant now.  Choices are made every second and any one of them can change a future already Seen.  Any premonition needs to be taken with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of reality."

Robb nodded thoughtfully at that.  His words made sense, and appealed to all three of them.  None of them like the idea that every step they take was preordained.  They were men of action, not overly given to the idea of some vague being pulling their strings.  Especially Harry who has already been charged more than once with changing the Wyrd or fate of Westeros.

"And another thing."  Harry added after several long moments of silence where they relaxed back against the pillows.  "If Jon is having premonitions then that means the greenseers might be having them again too.  And there's no telling where they all are or who they're allied to, let alone how many they number."  He thought for a moment then added: “Though from what I can tell, finding them in places less diluted by Andal intermarriage is most likely: the North, the Winter Lands, and other kinds of Seers in the far eastern reaches of Essos such as Asshai.”

"Cheerful, love."  Jon rolled his eyes.  "Thanks ever so for that."

Robb interrupted before the two of them could start bickering.  "What did you see anyway, anything you remember now that you are awake?"

"Sansa's in danger."  Jon answered after thinking back to the fuzzy dream images.  "She's flowered."

"She has an out, dragon."  Harry soothed him.  "If she ever comes to the point of being actually married to that vile little bastard she'll use it."

"I think I saw my aunt."  Jon frowned.  "I can't think of anyone else it might be.  She hasn't come to Dragonstone yet, has she?"

"No."  Now Harry was frowning, irritated at the chit.  "She will, of that I'm sure.  I just don't know how long it's going to take her to make up her mind or what will happen before then."

"And Arya, Tyrion, a woman who I think was that Priestess you told me of."  Jon counted off.  "A Wight, wildfire."  He shook his head.  "It's all jumbled now.  But of it all I think I saw Arya the clearest, who we can't even find as she moves around so much, might yet be the safest."

Robb snorted at that.  "I don't doubt it of the little she-wolf."  He leaned over and gave Harry and Jon another pair of goodnight kisses.  "Don't dwell on it.  All we can do is press on.  No dreams - good or ill - can change that now.  They have their paths to take and we've our own."

"Listen to wolf-boy."  Harry teased his lover, before giving Jon a kiss as well, burrowing into the warm covers and soft pillows.  "He's making sense...for once."

...

It was on the eve of battle that the messenger brought the news to Lord Tywin Lannister as he waited with his men on the opposite side of the Blackwater Rush from where his scouts reported Lord Randyll Tarly would be leading the flanking force of the Tyrell/Baratheon army.

Renly Baratheon, for all that he was styling himself King of Highgarden, had lost much of his Storm Land support along with Storm's End to Stannis, sending him running with the remaining Reach forces for the capital.  Tywin had been forced to decide between pursuing the Young Dragon and Wolf into the Westerlands or returning to save his daughter and grandchildren from imminent danger.  With the reinforcing armies arriving from both the North and the bulk of the Vale men, as well as having Blackwater Bay blockaded by the Northern Fleet led by Admiral Lord Manderly, it was an easy but difficult choice to make.

No matter how much he offered or who he threatened, no word of where or with whom Jaime was being held captive reached his ears.

Blind to his beloved son's whereabouts, and faced with certain death of his other progeny and grandchildren, the Old Lion turned back from the River Lands taking the bulk of his men with him.  He'd expected reinforcements from his brother Stafford, reinforcements that had yet to arrive.  It was news of these missing men that his messenger brought him as he awaited the flanking attempt.

Tyrion had a plan and a trick up his sleeve for the vanguard.  And as much as he hated the very thought or sight of his youngest spawn, even Tywin had to admit it was every bit as cunning as something he himself could devise.  Now if only Jaime...

But no.

Tywin would not betray his golden, gallant son with an unfavorable comparison to the Imp, his very Bane.

"What word of Stafford?"  Tywin demanded as soon as the rider, clearly exhausted on his blown horse, rode into the camp.

"Slain, milord."  The messenger, a Lannister from one of the cadet branches of Lannisport, panted out as he swung down, almost losing his footing in his worn condition.  "Golden Tooth, Ashemark, and Oxcross are all taken by the Wolf and Dragon while the Mormonts drive livestock and raid granaries to feed the armies of the North, Riverlands, and the Vale.  The Umber Lord and Targaryen loyalists from the Crownlands who aren't with the Dragon's fleet have won the mines at Castamere, Nun's Deep, and Pendric Hills.  I could not find anyone who had word of Lannisport and the coast."

With a roar to do his sigil animal proud, Tywin drew his sword and drove it in his fury through the weapons stand at his side, hacking and slashing until it was no more than a pile of splinters and his rage was appeased - for the moment.

All through the camp men murmured at the continuing triumphs of the Dragon and the Wolf.

Were they less afraid of Tywin, many of the Lords in his army would have turned tail and ran back to their holdings to swear to the Targaryen King, in hope that he will be as forgiving as Aegon the Conqueror to those who bend the knee as he had proven himself thus far to be that King’s equal in ferocity to those who stood against him.

All feared that the Old Lion was set to become the next Harren the Black, no matter who strong or thick or high the walls of his castle, still was burned to death along with all of his line when he spurned the offer of clemency from Aegon Targaryen.

For unlike Harren the Black, Tywin Lannister’s sworn lords and knights had not been abused to the point that they were eagerly turn their cloaks and save their skins and Houses.  They feared Tywin but did not utterly despise and hate him…not to the extent required for such a move.  Though should he continue to sit idle while the keeps and castles and lands of the Lords of the Westerlands were plundered and taken, that allegiance based on fear and some respect would crumble.

Of course, if they were less afraid of Tywin Lannister, they likely wouldn't even be there in the first place, especially with the rampant rumors most have taken as truth of Cersei's incestuous affair with her own brother who was a sworn brother of the Kingsguard - a double scandal and betrayal.

Tywin Lannister was very good at inspiring fear in his Lords...but loyalty was a different thing entirely as he would find out to his detriment before his death.

...

Lord Renly Baratheon, the King-claimant of Highgarden, felt nervous sweat drip down his neck as he rode at the center of his army approaching King's Landing under the cover of night.  His sources claimed that the city has been closed for several turns, with riots setting in over the extravagance of Joffrey’s court while the smallfolk starved.  It was even said that only the bravery of Sandor Clegane saved young Lady Sansa Stark from a brutal gang rape and murder in the very streets.  Good.  The city was ripe for taking, with the smallfolk unlikely to fight back against an invading force, leaving them with only Cersei's Red Cloaks and the City Watch to worry over.

Though, he did wish that Loras's brothers hadn't convinced their father to allow them to take a host of forty thousand, almost half of the remaining army, back to Bitterbridge to guard the supply lines and prevent the Lannisters from flanking Renly's troops.

Especially since his scouts had never returned with word of where exactly the Lannister army even was.

His best general, despite Mace Tyrell's boasts, Lord Randyll Tarly had taken the vanguard through the Kingswood and crossed the Blackwater to attack the River Gate so that between their two forces they cut off all chance of Cersei and her spawn escaping the city.  While the Northern Fleet has the Bay blockaded, there was no use for anyone to try and leave via the port and docks.  The might of the Targaryen boy had surprised Renly.  Originally he'd thought it would be little matter to convince Stannis to support him in lieu of another claimant to the throne besides Stannis himself.

Then the Young Dragon appeared, supported by the North and Targaryen loyalists from the Crownlands.

Loyalists who had ships and men and gold to raise an army.

And a dragon of all creatures to round things out.

The only chance Renly had now that he'd spurned the opportunity to bend the knee to Jon Targaryen was to take the city and hold it.  It wasn't likely that a man raised by the honorable Ned Stark would raze King's Landing and its half-million population to burn out a contender to the Throne.  Taking the city may well be the only thing that saves his neck.

Regardless, it was the only move he had left to play after Stannis snatched Storm's End out from under him while he was rallying the Tyrell army in the Reach.

The stiff-necked bastard could hold a grudge like no other man Renly knew, save their oldest brother who swore to stamp out every trace of Targaryen blood.

Renly laughed darkly to himself.  And look how that had turned out for Robert.  Had he not stepped over the bloodied corpses of a pair of babes to mount the Iron Throne, Ned Stark might have trusted his old friend with the truth of Jon Targaryen.

But that wasn't the roll of the dice the Fates had made that day, and now all of Westeros was feeling the backlash.

"Your Grace."  Brienne of Tarth, one of his Rainbow Guard and a formidable warrior, rode over to his side from the front of the line.  "The lights of King's Landing are in sight."

"Lord Randyll?"

"In place."

Renly took one last, long look around at the faces watching him, knowing full-well that many of them may very well be in the Stranger's Arms by the dawn.

"Order the attack."

...

Green.  Was all Tyrion could think as he stared over the curtain wall surrounding King's Landing at the River Gate.  Green flames.

He'd never truly considered what it was his elder brother had saved the city from by slaying Aerys and Rossart, though he'd heard the story from Jaime's own lips more than once when they were in their cups together.  It was how he'd known to look for the wildfire he'd unleashed on the advancing Baratheon-Tyrell alliance.  He'd had Lannister men disguised as peddlers and smallfolk carefully soaking the fields surrounding King's Landing with the wicked substance during the dusk before sneaking them back into the city.

And then they'd waited.

Once the Tarly Lord commanding the vanguard had ordered his men across the Blackwater, Tyrion's father Tywin had fallen on their flank like he'd heard his friend Jon's dire wolf did an enemy horse.

That had been the signal for Tyrion's own surprise: wildfire.

As Renly's force charged the plains leading to the several city gates, Tyrion himself had taken the crossbow with its oil-soaked arrow, his sworn-shield and sell-sword friend Bronn lighting it at his nod, and unleashed utter hell onto the men who sought to attack the ever-weakening city.

"Gods forgive me."  He whispered as the crossbow fell to the stones under his feet with a clatter as the two of them and his squire Podrick Payne watched men scream and burn.  "What have I done?"

...

Over a thousand miles to the southwest, Aegon Blackfyre stepped off his ship and into a hell of his own.

Only his hell is apparently scented with flowers and filled with Dornishmen and his own Golden Company.

It was, of course, his arrival and council with Prince Oberyn Martell who Aegon had found himself completely unprepared for and discomfited by.  It wasn't that the Red Viper was a dangerous man that rattled Aegon so.  No, not at all.  It's because he was a lecherous flirt of a snake who apparently enjoyed seeing just how red the Dornish Prince could get Aegon to blush in embarrassment.

It was a minor thing that he just knew Harry and Lysono were never going to let him live down, no matter how many battles he fought in or how old he lived.

A Dornish Prince with too many (sexy) smirks and wandering hands had forever branded Aegon among his friends as "The Blushing Blackfyre."

The fuckers.

Days before, they had arrived at Blackcrown to meet Oberyn and join the coming siege of Oldtown.  Quentyn had been dropped off at Sunspear to recover as planned, and Aegon had in his possession a letter from his distant cousin King Jon to Prince Oberyn confirming Aegon's - and through him the Golden Company's - involvement and alliance in the war.  They'd arrived with the morning sun at the docks, the Redwyne Fleet having already been dealt with for the most part during the taking of the Arbor, Three Towers, and Blackcrown, leaving the major port-city of Westeros markedly undefended aside from the Hightower garrison and the city walls.

And then, rather than ordering an attack, Oberyn had instead ordered them to wait and make camp outside the walls.

So they waited.

And waited.

And waited.

But it seemed only Oberyn knew what they were waiting for.

And then it happened: The city gates opened.

Within minutes the siege force was pouring into the seat of the Hightowers, the Prince and commander of the force stopping beside the gates to joyously greet a figure cloaked in grey.  Aegon later discovered to his shock - and no little awe - that it was Oberon’s third oldest daughter Sarella who had been "playing a game" with the Citadel by masquerading as an apprentice to Archmaester Marwyn.  Rather than the hard-fought and won battle Aegon had faced in taking Bloodstone, the Golden Company and the Dornish army had swept through the Hightower garrison like a tidal wave, leaving naught but corpses behind and taking the remaining Hightowers, men, women, and children hostage as surety against Lord Leyton's eldest son and heir who was away fighting alongside his good-brother Mace Tyrell.

After Oberyn and Aegon spoke for a moment as the three remaining sons of Lord Leyton watched warily from their positions standing with their hands bound against the wall, their Lord father with his wheezing breaths and palsied hands sitting before them, a stark contrast between the aged, weak man and his strong sons, Aegon moved to address them.

"Why did you close the gates against us?"  Aegon asked, head tilted slightly as he studied the noble family, one of the oldest and greatest Houses of the Reach...though one known more for trade than militant prowess.  "House Hightower long supported House Targaryen.  Indeed, Ser Gerold Hightower went willingly with my late cousin Queen Rhaella and her living children rather than turn his cloak and support Robert Baratheon.  Why are you and your men here to face us rather than joining my cousin The King in his campaign?"  Aegon's voice was pleasant and calm, his handsome face open.

It was a simple manipulation, coming across as a perplexed young man rather than the cunning leader of the Golden Company he was, but he thought they would respond to such a thing better than they would an aggressive Blackfyre or the Red Viper.

A thought that was proven true when Garth, the eldest son present known as Garth Greysteel a knight of some renown, spoke to defend himself and his honor in the face of Aegon's implication of cowardliness.

"Mace Tyrell is our sworn Lord."  Garth's voice was gruff, matching the large fit knight's form.  "And our good-brother through our sister Alerie.  He commanded, our brother obeyed.  There is no more to it than that."

"Silence!"  Lord Leyton hissed, shifting uncomfortably.  It was the first time the Hightower Lord had been seen outside of his tower in over a decade.  "We do not answer to Dorne nor to whoever this silver-haired cretin claims to be!"

"Oh, beg pardon."  Aegon said with a surprised look on his face and a bright tone.  "Allow me to introduce myself."  He eyes gleamed with devilry as he cut an impressive bow to please the highest of sticklers.  "Aegon Blackfyre, Scion of House Blackfyre and trueborn - if distant - cousin of the rightful king, Jon Targaryen the First of his Name.  Leader of the Golden Company."

The eyes of his audience had popped wide with shock at his name, while his status among the sell-sword company was welcomed with a hiss of dismay from the Lord.

All knew of the Golden Company - and more importantly what they were capable of.

Pissing off their avowed leader was just asking to be raided by the undefeated sell-swords.

"Blackfyre!"  Leyton gasped, short of breath from both shock and infirmity.  "The Blackfyres are extinct!"

"They were extinct...in the male line at least."  Aegon smirked drawing the sword that gave his house their name.  "Until the bastard line of Aerion Brightflame wed with the last of the female line of the Blackfyres...creating me, the legitimate Heir of House Blackfyre and sworn supporter of my cousin the King."

"You have two options, Leyton."  Oberyn jumped into the silence left behind Aegon's startling proclamation.  Before this none but the Golden Company were privy to exactly how Aegon claimed kinship with Jon other than calling himself Blackfyre.  And it wasn't like the sell-swords were overly-fond of gossiping about the man who led them to riches and glory.  "One, you can keep your position of blindly supporting your daughter's husband no matter what level of folly he leads you into.  Which is likely to the death of yourself and your House by the time the Young Dragon is finished.  Or."  He arched a brow.  "You can show some of the spine your uncle was famous for and support the true king."

Leyton's sons exchanged glances as Leyton and his wife, daughters, and his two good-daughters all bickered and argued in the wake of Oberyn's words.

They'd found themselves shame-faced and flat-footed at the ease the combined might of the Dornishmen and the Golden Company had broken down their defenses.  Many of their best fighting men were away, leaving Garth to train up the stripling boys for reinforcements.  Everything else aside, it never sat well with them that they were turning aside from the true heir to the Iron Throne in favor of Renly Baratheon of all people.  And all so their niece could be a thrice-damned Queen.

Mace had always been a greedy, blustering fool and well they knew it for all that their lord father pretended otherwise.

"What say you?"  Aegon demanded.

Before Leyton could say something which would have likely seen them all sharing cell-space with Jaime Lannister as hostages, Garth cut him off.

"We'll fight for the Dragon."  He said with a sharp nod and a steely stare at the duo.

"Aye."  His brother echoed.

"Excellent."  Oberyn smirked.  "You'll march out with us in a week's time, we'll split the garrisoning of Oldtown between your men and ours for safety and surety of good-faith."

"Our destination?"

"Casterly Rock."  Aegon's grin was bloodthirsty.  "It's time to ram this war right down the Old Lion's grasping maw."

...

Harry fell into dreams once more, this time seeing a vision straight out of his teenaged day-dreams.

It was himself, rocking in a wooden chair that he'd seen in the wreckage of Godric's Hallow.  His stomach was swollen, children playing around his feet with rich heads of hair in ebony, silver, and auburn.  A family.  His family, as he spied Robb standing and talking to Jon by the window, Ser Arthur Dayne chasing after a runaway crawler who'd made a break for the open door.

Aegon was there too, though Harry was as yet uncertain whether his vague ideas of strengthening the Targaryen blood through him would work, or even how to broach the idea to his lovers.

A tingle pinging at his senses alerted Harry to his visitor.

"No visions of blood and death and horror this time, old friend?"  He asked the dark hooded figure of Death with a wry tone to his smooth voice.

"No."  Death shook his head, amusement plain in its ageless voice.  "Not this time.  You've done well in steering the Wyrd towards a better future.  We thought we might give you a small taste of what this new world might hold for you once the battles are over and Blood and Fire have reigned."

"A pleasant fiction."  Harry waved at the other him.  "Though I'm unsure about it.  From here it looks like I'm trying to repopulate Westeros all by my lonesome."

Death chuckled at that.  "Not quite.  With your expanded lifespan you could very well try but in the end even your advanced healing won't be able to maintain your fertility after having your stomach cut open time after time."

"How many?"  Harry couldn't help but ask, one hand resting lightly on his stomach where his first pair of children already grew.

The ageless being hummed as it examined the possibilities.  "The most I See in any future is fifteen children from your own womb.  One of your possible mates is capable of bearing young as well which adds to the number."

"Aegon."  Harry said with great certainty.  "He's much lither and slender than either Jon or Robb but not so much as myself.  And I noticed for myself the strength of his core.  It's not as developed as Jon's by any means but it wouldn't take much to get it there."

"Perhaps."  Death cocked its head to one side.  "Perhaps not.  Only time and Wyrd will tell in the end."

"Wyrd."  Harry rolled his eyes.  "Fate, prophecy.  When I finally pass I'm going to have words with those nosy old biddies and their damned loom."

Death studied him then shook its head.  "You know."  It sighed.  "I do believe you'll do just that.  Or at least try.  Somehow I know you'll keep me just as entertained in your afterlife as you have in your living life."

...

"Your Grace, ravens!"  Torrhen Karstark, youngest son of Lord Rickard Karstark and one of the finest young warriors the North had to offer called out.  The young warriors of the Northern cavalry - not knights as they didn't follow the Faith of the Seven but excellent fighters with a strong code nonetheless - had taken up a rotation riding ahead as scouts and messengers.  This day saw Torrhen along with Dacey Mormont and Smalljon Umber returning as they had ridden back accompanied by Ghost to Ashemark for news.

Ghost had taken to the fearless Heiress of Bear Island, which according to his companion had everything to do with Dacey's free hand with ear-rubs and sharing of her provisions.

Jon, Harry, and Robb all drew rein and moved off the path, allowing the men and horse to keep riding and marching onwards to Lannisport and Casterly Rock.  They were a mere ten leagues out and should arrive within two more days of marching at their current pace.  The Kingsguard echoed their movement, making a U-shape surrounding the betrothed trio.

"From Bitterbridge, Oldtown, Sunspear, and the Wall."  Dacey reported, having seen and known the sigils pressed into each missive.

As an Heiress of an island that relies on trade, she'd been more heavily schooled than the Smalljon as Last Hearth didn't boast a Maester or Torrhen who as a third son had focused more on his skills with sword and shield than knowing the sigils of southron lords.

"Holy fuck."  Harry slipped into High Valyrian to curse.  "I don't know whether to celebrate or mourn."

Jon nodded his head solemnly as he passed the letter over to Robb who unlike Harry hadn't leaned to read over Jon's shoulder.

Many of the lords traveling with the army had come to hear the news as well by this point, as Jon said: "Mourn."

The Targaryen Scion shook his head before answering his lords' and guards' wordless question.

"The Lannisters used a combination of outflanking the vanguard and a wildfire trap to repel the Baratheon-Tyrell army.  More than twenty thousand men were slaughtered in a matter of hours while the rest retreated.  The Kingswood is still burning in places near the city which was untouched and Lord Tywin only lost a quarter of that number."  He set his jaw.  "Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell are two of dozens of noble knights slain along with Randyll Tarly."

"By the gods."  One of the Lords breathed, face the color of milk.  "It's Castamere all over again."

"Not quite that extreme."  Maege Mormont rolled her eyes, a snide look on her weather-beaten face.  The Lady of Bear Island wasn't known for her pleasant disposition, an unfortunate trait that her daughter Alysanne had inherited though thankfully Dacey her eldest and Heiress was much more congenial.  "Unless all the Tyrells were slaughtered as well."

"No."  Jon said, already moving on to the next missive, passing them first to Robb and then Ser Arthur as he went.  "Willas and Garlan Tyrell had taken forty thousand men to guard the Roseroad with many of the younger knights and Heirs."

"See."  Maege shrugged.  "Not as bad as Castamere.  Tywin left not a single Reyne and only a single Tarbeck alive in that bit of evil."

"In better news."  Harry interrupted, wanting to get off that bit of conversation as they were in the process of riding to assault Tywin's very home.  "Oldtown was taken and the Hightowers have sworn to Jon."

Cheers went up at that, the Hightowers could field three times the amount of men of the other Reach Houses save for Tarly and Tyrell.

"They'll arrive at Lannisport along with Prince Oberyn and the Golden Company."  Jon added, arching a brow at Harry, waving a bit of parchment at him.  "Which is apparently being led by my distant cousin Aegon Blackfyre."

"Consider it a nameday present.  You did tell me to bring you a dragon back from Essos…so I did.  Just not the kind with wings."  Harry explained blithely ignoring the implied censure.  He'd told Jon and Robb that Aegon and the Golden Company were heading for the Reach.  He just hadn't added how effective they were at laying siege to...well...anywhere.  "Their elephants will make taking that damned Rock a lot easier.  Call it a down-payment on any trips I might have to take to the east in the future.”

"And the other missives?"  Lord Karstark prodded.

Jon frowned, not quite knowing what to make of them.  "Quentyn Martell has taken sick from his captivity, and Thoros of Myr arrived at the Wall."  He turned to Robb.  "He had news of Arya which Uncle-Maester Aemon sent on."

"Well?"  Robb all-but held his breath.

The smile Jon gave could have blinded the sun.  "She's safe, as of a fortnight ago, and traveling with a strange assortment of companions: a bastard smith's apprentice, Lord Beric Dondarrion, Lord Edric Dayne, and a wolf pack."

 

Chapter Text

Tomb of the First Men

Author’s Note: Managed to scrape together the cash to renew my Office 360 subscription so hopefully this update will have less errors for me to go back and fix than the last one (I should hope anyway…)  This installment should tie together hints and bits that’ve been scattered throughout the story as far as magic in Westeros goes and you’re also going to get the results of the Battle of the Blackwater which in the last installment was changed to Renly & the Tyrells vs. the Lannisters instead of the cannon version of Stannis vs. the Lannisters.  There’s been some questions about just who survived on the Tyrell/Baratheon side and where all the armies are, that’s covered in the first part of this update.  Also you have Tyrion making a choice (for good or ill) and the sacking of Lannisport and Casterly Rock…

Also…I have no idea where the bondage in this came from.  It started with Harry being a tad aggressive and then exploded.  If you have issues with that you might want to skim over the smut scene after the duel between Barristan and Harry.  So…yeah.  It’s there, not really BDSM or anything hardcore but definitely dipping into that territory…ish.  I’ve been reading a lot of KTT2123 and Lady-Giovanna-Potter-Malfoy’s “Just a Matter of Time” lately so I think maybe it’s that coming out…

Enjoy lovelies!

<3 Sif

Warning: Bloodshed, violence, MPREG, and slashy smut with a side-order of BONDAGE (light-ish, nothing too extreme, Harry flexing his switch muscles).

Edited December 2016 for minor errors and content.  Original word count: 21,513; edited: 21,748.

Act VI: Monsters, Maesters, and Magic

The elderly, but fierce, Lady Olenna Tyrell nee Redwyne, known throughout Westeros as the Queen of Thorns, moved with a swiftness that belied her years as she clutched the missive from her buffoon of a son in one claw-like hand and made for the study that her eldest grandson had taken for his own in the fortress at Bitterbridge.

Her stupid, stupid, son had done many stupid, stupid things throughout his life.  None, however, had enraged her and made her wish she’d taken moon-tea after lying with her late husband quite as much as this latest blunder or indeed, marrying the Targaryen she’d been promised to in the first place.  The board had been set, and very much to her liking, when Mace had taken the army and advanced on King’s Landing at the order of the young Stag.

Loras had been ecstatic, vowing to slay a thousand Lannisters in the name of his lover.

And above all else, Margery had been made a Queen though no swelling of her belly had yet shown likely due to Renly’s preference for her elder brother and distinct disinclination to bed the beauty even with the cunning lass convincing Loras to help her entice his lover into his wife’s bed.

That little taradiddle would have had tongues wagging even faster than they already were over Renly’s less-than-secret preferences and shed a nasty taint of incest over the whole affair – had the Queen of Thorns allowed it to carry any farther than her own ears.  No.  Olenna would allow many things but to have her family talked of in the same viperous whispers as Cersei and Jaime Lannister was not now and never would be one of them.

But she’d covered it up, just as she’d been glossing over Loras’s preferences to his father, her son, for years.

Men of the Reach – likely because of the strong hold of the Faith and the Citadel – frowned mightily upon male-only unions.

Fiddlesticks and poppycock as far as Olenna was concerned.

Who gave a rat’s ass who climbed into what bed so long as legitimate offspring were produced and the Houses carried on?

She harrumphed to herself, disgusted in general with the idiocy of men and in particular with that of her own son.

Entering the study Willas had claimed when he’d arrived at Bitterbridge from Highgarden, leaving the administration of the Reach to the castellan while the Tyrell men occupied themselves with this damned infernal war that Mace had so precipitously thrown them into, Olenna took in a calming breath at the sight of a man who as always gave her hope for the dumber half of the human species.

Willas may have a limp and a leg that ached in the winter winds even as far south as Highgarden from a jousting accident but he made up in brains what he lacked in a graceful stride.  Her eldest grandson could still sit a horse and swing a sword to defend his lands, but most importantly to Olenna he’d switched his focus from knightly pursuits to management of the Tyrell estate and increasing their holdings.  Allowing Olenna to focus once more on increasing their influence.  They often moved in sync, she and her grandson, and he had enough of her brains to bring the Tyrells into stern competition with the Lannisters for wealthiest House in the Seven Kingdoms – a fact that she knew well stuck in that bastard Tywin’s throat.

It was a perfect partnership and would continue to be so for years yet – so long as they could mitigate the bulk of the damage Mace’s latest blunder would cost them.

They’d been doing so for years already – cleaning up after her oaf of a son and his silly Hightower wife.

Still, Olenna had to admit ruefully, better a silly wife such as Alerie than a dangerous one that led the whole House astray like viperous Cersei Lannister or Hoster Tully’s mad get Lysa.

Yes, silly was better than dangerous…save when it was her son trying to make “amends” with that joyless asshole Tywin and his batshit crazy grandson!

“Have you heard?”  She demanded of Willas as she sat in the chair already pulled out for her and snatched up the chalice of Arbor gold he’d already had poured and waiting on her.  That alone told her that either yes, Willas knew, or he’d heard of another problem on top of the one that had her in a rage that they needed to deal with and had been anticipating her arrival due to it.

She drank deeply of the wine, allowing the sweet taste to mellow over her rage – for the moment.

“Yes.”  Willas grimaced, tapping a letter before him.  “A rider arrived this morning.”

“Your father.”  She made the title an epithet.  “In his wisdom and the wake of the slaughter of our men and your youngest brother has decided to bend the fucking knee to the same cunts who killed Loras.”  Her eyes burned in her wrinkle-lined face, hand clenching on the golden cup.  “What’s more he’s offered Margery to that crazed imbecile Joffery.”  She shook her head, rage spent and leaving behind only exhaustion as she tried to decipher a way to salvage the situation, setting aside the now-empty cup before she hurled it.  Control, she told herself sternly.  Now was the time for a cool head and control.  She could exert her temper on her erstwhile offspring as soon as she saw him.

If Mace Tyrell had any sense he would board the first ship for Essos…but then…Mace Tyrell was utterly without either sense or spine which was the entire problem in the first place.

“He followed Renly rather than Jon Targaryen out of pure greed and a chance to grasp at the throne.”  Willas agreed with the underlying sentiment of Olenna’s words without reserve.  “When we should have been marching to assist the Dragon and his Wolf cousin.  Now he wants to turn cloak after costing the Reach fifteen thousand men and another five from the Storm Lands.”  Willas sighed and leaned back heavily against his padded wooden chair.  “Moreover he’s ordered the troops here under Garlan’s command to move and join up with the Lannister force with Garlan escorting Margery to the Red Keep to ‘get-to-know’ Joffery and ‘see-if-they-would-suit.’”  Willas rolled his eyes at that bit of scheming.  “I don’t know which is the worse match: myself to Cersei, Margery to Joffery, or Sansa Stark to Joffery.”

“Sansa.”  Lady Olenna said at once with a bitter laugh.  “If they dared to go through with the match in spite of the Stark-Targaryen rampage through the Westerlands and being pushed out of the River Lands altogether it would be a matter of weeks if not days before a Faceless man backed with the wealth of the Targaryen dynasty killed the puling little shit and made Sansa a widow before her maiden’s blood was even dry – or drawn at all.”

Willas arched a knowing brow at that, his grandmother waving a hand as she huffed saying: “But then why pay for an assassin when there’s fools aplenty in need or greed of gold with a hate of the Lannister’s – especially Cersei’s get?  There’s more than one way to kill a king – especially one who’s a fool, as Cersei Lannister is well aware.”

One thing troubled Willas from his matriarch’s words – aside from the obvious discussion of regicide.  “’Backed with the wealth of the Targaryen dynasty?’” He echoed the salient points.  “I was under the impression that the crown is in heavy debt to both Tywin, the Faith, the Trade Cartels, and the Iron Bank due to Cersei’s lavish expectations and Robert’s spend-thrift style of management or rather,” he drawled with derision.  “Mismanagement.”

“You forget my dear child.”  Olenna smirked with the arch of a sardonic brow.  “In my youth I was to wed the youngest son of Aegon V, Daeron.  Though he loved his close friend Ser Jeremy more than he would ever care for me and between the two of us we put an end to it.  But before I wed your grandfather I had plenty of time to learn of Targaryens – both their high wealth and their rampant madness over dragons and fire.”  She snorted, speaking lowly, almost as if to herself.  “Your grandfather, oaf that he was, wasn’t mad I’ll give him that and not unskilled in the bedchamber.  He was much more to my liking that a quarter-mad boy in love with his best friend, wealth of the dragons aside.”

“Then what of the crown’s debt?”

She waved a gnarled, age-spotted hand dismissively.  “The Targaryens often knew when one of their own was likely to succumb to madness.  As it was with Aerys before his father died.  The signs were all there, but there was no other to leave the throne save Rhaegar who wasn’t yet weaned at the time of Jaehaerys’s death.  And Jaehaerys was canny even if he was weak.  If I had to wager on it I would say that he left the management of the Targaryen wealth in the hands of Rhaella.”  She gave an honest smile at the thought of one of the only Targaryens she ever truly liked in her lifetime.  “And the late Queen was many things: beaten down, abused, half-mad from grief.”  She shook her head at the waste of a great woman.  “But she wasn’t a fool.  Jon Targaryen has the might of their wealth, a wealth that began long before the Doom or I’ll eat my cane.”

She let him chew on that a moment before coming back around to another of her grievances with her son, and one that she would put paid to or there would be the seven hells to pay.

“I’ll not see you wasted on that old, dried up cunt of a Queen.”  Olenna said, tongue as sharp as ever, Willas’s relief visible in the set of his shoulders.  “We may have to play along with Margery’s wedding to Joffrey,” she held up a long finger.  “For the moment.  But never will I lose you my boy to one such as that.  I have a better – and more profitable – match in mind for the future Lord of Highgarden.”

“Thank you, grandmamma.”  Willas inclined his head, worry relieved.  He didn’t think that his father would stoop to having him wed to Cersei via proxy but he didn’t want to chance it.  Better that the Queen of Thorns work her form of magic than Willas find himself with a bride without ever stepping foot in King’s Landing.  He certainly wouldn’t put such a thing past the bastard of an old Lion.  And his father was just weak and easily swayed enough to go along with it.  “I’ll move the bulk of my troops back to Highgarden under a pretense of being prepared in case of an attack.  With the Martells and their sellsword companions sacking Oldtown and laying siege to the Citadel – though no one quite knows why they’d done the last - there’s nothing even Tywin can say against such a move.”

“Good.”  Olenna nodded, mulling the plan over.  “Send the new Lord Tarly with them.  Randyll’s loss is in turns a blessing and a curse.  Without him much of Mace’s martial ability is gone.  But also without him the Tarly forces answer to a man who is little more than a boy in Dickon Tarly.  Better have him safely away from temptation – and out of easy reach of Tywin.”

“That was my thought as well.”  Willas nodded.  “The Storm Lords and their men have already departed either to join Stannis or backtracking through the Reach to bend the knee to the King directly.  I’ve given them letters to keep them from being hindered by our men and those that answer to us.  The King and his army are closing in on Casterly Rock after taking Ashemark and are being met by his future-consort’s Ironborn fleet and most of the Martell/sellsword force that took Oldtown.  With Tywin and father surrounding the capitol, the Vale and River lords blocking advance to the North and West and Stannis blocking the southeast, the Lion of the Rock has no way to save his own people from the coming destruction.  As for us, I’ll also take any of the knights, heirs, or lords who I am unsure of along with Dickon,” he smirked.  “Keep them out of trouble as well and those loyal will block the Roseroad, allowing only the most meager of supplies to make it to King’s Landing.  It’s hard to hold a city when both your men and the city populace itself are starving, as the Lannisters have already discovered.”

“Very good.”  Olenna gave a toothless smile.  “I’ll make a Lord of you yet, my boy.”

Jon walked over to Harry who was pacing beside his horse, shaking out his limbs from the long ride that day.  They were a mere two days out from Lannisport and Casterly Rock and despite his little love feeling awful from the mother’s sickness in the mornings and early afternoon, a sickness not helped any by the constant rocking motion of horseback, they’d found that he usually felt himself again and was able to eat once the sun was halfway to the horizon.  Which was good, as Jon, Robb, and the Kingsguard had all heard increased rumblings coming from the knights and Lords over Harry’s continued presence with the army.

Many thought that as a future consort and proven bearer Harry didn’t belong with them among the so-called “real men” and should have been left at Riverrun.

Others, who saw the power Harry brought with him, had been if not welcoming then at least content with his presence…until the conception of Jon and Robb’s heirs had been made public ten days before.

Now the majority of the men – highborn and low – desired for the Lord of the Iron Islands and Winter from the newly renamed “Winter Lands” rather than the wordy “Land of Always Winter or Land of Perpetual Winter” to return to the relative safety of Riverrun, Winterfell, or even Harrenhal or the Winter Lands rather than risk an accident during battle that could cost the kingdoms the heir to both the Iron Throne and Winterfell – if that is, Harry carried boys.  Which he did…though none who knew as such had spread it about.  It was one thing for Harry to fight and heal and use his magic in concrete shows of power.  Having him use it to gain information that nominally belongs “only to the gods”…that could create a problem they weren’t ready to face as yet.

Especially among the most devout to the Faith of the Seven, an establishment brought by the Andal invaders of Westeros which had an attitude problem regarding male bearers it seemed.

They didn’t want to exacerbate it any more than was necessary.

No, Jon had decided it was time for Harry to prove his worth in an iron-clad fashion before the ever-growing army.

Few were those who watched him slaughter both Balon and Theon Greyjoy.

Not many more were there or paying attention when he fought toe-to-toe against the Kingslayer.

And none saw him single-handedly best the Mountain and Amory Lorch…though that last was more to do with magic than it did with strength of arms.

Rumor and renown only went so far when it came to pigheaded knights and Lords.  All had heard of Harry’s abilities and many had seen him fight in open combat.  But few were those who’d been witness to one of the few times he’d fought a knight in single combat.  And that was what Jon was going to change.

He had faith in his Kingsguard that they wouldn’t take a dirty blow towards Harry’s stomach.  Besides which he knew full-well that Harry would cast protection charms over where his and Robb’s babes slept inside his sac…womb.  But the men needed to see to know for themselves what Harry was capable of as a warrior not just as the “Lady” of their relationship or as a sorcerer.

They needed to see why he was named the Warrior-Who-Waits and not the Mage-Who-Waits or the Lover-Who-Waits or, (and this last was what had Jon’s blood up and his eyes deadly when he heard it) the Catamite-Who-Waits.

Jon bared his teeth at the remembrance of what he’d overheard just that day, coming from one of the Northmen.

It was blatant disrespect for his love and future consort and it would end.

Either by them fearing and respecting Harry or, if even that didn’t suffice, by dint of fearing Jon himself.

“Hello, my dragon.”  Harry gave him a soft smile and leaned up, bussing a kiss onto one stubble-roughened cheek.  “Done handing out orders to your Lords for the moment?”

“Hn.”  He rolled his eyes at the reminder of his Lords.  He was less than happy with them at the moment.  Though, that likely wouldn’t change until the men stopped bitching over Harry’s continued presence fighting alongside the army.  And even then he was sure they would find something else to complain over.  He shook that disturbing thought off, eyeing his little love steadily as Harry arched a shapely ebony brow at his lack of communication.

“Very descriptive.”  Harry’s voice was as dry as the Red Wastes.  “Could I buy a vowel, please?”

“I need you to duel the Kingsguard,” Jon blurted out before he could talk himself out of it.  He’d already put off the demonstration for over a week.  “And more, I need you to win.”

Harry reared back, emerald eyes searching violet-purple.  “You’re serious.”  He breathed, blinking rapidly before asking sharply: “What’s wrong?”

Never would he have ever thought that the super-protective Jon, who’s possessive and protective qualities had turned nearly smothering in the wake of his pregnancy, would suggest let alone nearly demand that he fight against some of the best knights in the known world while with child.

Something was wrong.

He narrowed his eyes as he looked beyond Jon towards the direction the King had come.

And he would bet all the gold in his vaults under the Fist that he had an inkling of what it was.

Thankfully for the still tongue-tied Jon, someone else who knew the answer to his question came up behind them and spoke while the Targaryen scion was searching for a way to fashion his answer.

“The men are talking.”  Robb said bluntly, rolling his eyes at the semi-betrayed glance Jon shot him over the top of Harry’s head.  The Stark Lord wrapped his arms around his little lover from behind and cuddled Harry into his much larger – and therefor warmer – body.

“Let me guess.”  Harry nearly hissed, eyes still narrowed at the rapidly-rising campaign tents behind Jon.  “They’re talking about me, again.  Not belonging with the army, again.  This time because I’m pregnant though I’m sure there’s a smattering of slurs regarding my status in both of your bedfurs, again.”

“That…”  Jon sighed, shoulders slumping a fraction, unable to lie while being watched with those eyes.  Harry had learned quickly what worked against his lovers – and what didn’t.  And with Jon it was always the eyes.  “That’s a rather good summation…of sorts.”

“Fuck that.”  Harry growled, ignoring the silent-laughter-induced-shaking coming from the large body at his back.  He’d get Robb back later for his entertainment at Harry’s expense.  He was tired, hungry, and pregnant.  None of which was conducive to putting up with Robb’s sometimes strange sense of humor.  “Who’m I fighting?”

The news spread through the dinner hour after setting up the camp like wildfire: Lord Harry was to spar Ser Barristan the Bold in single combat.

On parchment it would seem a most uneven match: an aging knight of renown against a Lord in his prime.

But that was before one considered that the knight in question was Barristan Selmy, knight of the Kingsguard who at the most recent tourney had unseated more than one knight who was less than half his age.  No.  In the case of Barristan the Bold, age had made him more dangerous not less as with age came a wisdom and temperance that youth often lacked, making up for his joints being a bit creakier and his feet a tad slower.  Barristan was yet considered one of the greatest knights of the realm, along with Ser Arthur Dayne (now that everyone knew he was alive) and Lord Ser Bryce Caron’s bastard brother Ser Rolland Storm, as well as Ser Addam Marbrand who was Lord Tywin’s most dangerous and effective commander, though had Ser Jaime not voided his vows and murdered a King, he might have been able to take the title of “Greatest Knight of Westeros.”  As it was, many were those who feared or respected the name of Barristan the Bold.

Indeed, many of the men were rumbling and gossiping in discontent over the unfairness of the match.

After all, what would a man expect his lady wife to face a knight of renown in single combat?  Why then should Lord Harry, who for all his magic was little more than a bedwarmer for the King and the Stark Lord, face a knight as worthy as Barristan the Bold?  It wasn’t fair, was the consensus among foot, knight, and noble men.  Not to either of them, to waste a match against Barristan on a delicate creature such as the King’s pet mage.

If Jon hadn’t been set on the match or Robb convinced of its necessity, overhearing a mere fraction of the talk around the open circle they were using for a training ground would have done the job, the both of them holding onto their tempers by the tips of their fingers after the first five minutes of their audience beginning to arrive.

Oh, it wasn’t anywhere close to being the whole of the army.

But it would be enough to spread word through the whole of Westeros and that was what mattered in the end.

Harry walked into the circle, the very picture of utter calm, ignoring the mutters surrounding him and the visages of his lovers that were shifting rapidly from blank to concerned to infuriated and back again too quickly for others to notice.  But when your entire life has been dictated by one being or another, reading microexpressions was a skill that kept one alive if not happy or all that sane for that matter.  Knowing when to duck and when to disappear saved his life more than once with the Dursleys, and it was one of the ingrained skills that made Harry so formidable in combat.

He cocked his head to one side, his stoic demeanor turning amused as he watched the calm face of his opponent for this show before he held out his empty hand and summoned a sword, tossing it to Barristan who had a confused look on his face over his actions.

Having gone with Harry to his vault, and seen his collection as well as the sword Harry kept tucked away, Barristan knew the younger man would be using his sword with the black blade that he wore at his back.  Harry also knew full-well he had a worthy blade, having given it to Barristan’s keeping himself.  Therefore, why, by the seven hells, the lad had used his power to bring forth another and then make Barristan catch it, he had no idea.

“That blade is too fine to ruin against my own.”  Harry answered the unspoken question on Barristan’s face.  “Valyrian steel is far too precious to risk marring it against Stygian iron.  The sword I just gave you will be better suited.  It’s the same in every way as the one at your hip, but not so dear as to be mourned if it breaks against mine own.”

More mutters sprang up around the circle at that, roused over Harry’s assurance that Valyrian steel – the finest blade forged in any era – might falter against his blackened blade.

Barristan tested the sword with a few swings before nodding once.  The lad was right.  It was a match for the Valyrian steel at his hip, even down to the weight and balance.  But then, Barristan thought for a moment, it was nothing less than he’d come to expect from Harry Potter-Black, future consort of the King of Westeros.

While Barristan tested the alternate blade, Harry unsheathed his sword and rolled his shoulders, as calm and implacable as he’d been on entering the circle.  He breathed in and out, each breath even and measured, allowing himself to become deaf and dumb to the mutters and murmurs surrounding him.  Parting his feet to shoulder-width, he rested the tip of his blade lightly on the ground between them, watching Barristan with avid eyes.  In theory the aged warrior would be an easier match for Harry than, say, Ser Arthur who was still widely considered the finest knight and swordsman in Westeros or even Jaime Lannister who Harry had faced and fought before.

But Harry already knew how Ser Arthur fought from watching him spar with Jon or Robb or both at the same time, and having faced Jaime once before facing him again would be even easier.

No, if Harry’d been allowed to pick he would have gone for Ser Arthur.

At least there he had a little familiarity.

With Ser Barristan being relatively new, Harry would have to watch carefully and learn on his feet.

Though, he thought for a moment as Jon explained that the fight would be to first-blood, perhaps he already had a clue or two if he was willing to see it as such.

He’d fought Ser Jaime.

Ser Jaime had been taught in large part and for years by Barristan the Bold.

Indeed, if there was a single soul who was most responsible for Jaime’s fighting style, it was the knight Harry now faced.  Jaime had learned as well from Ser Arthur, Ser Oswell, and the other knights of the Kingsguard who were now dead and gone as well as the knight he’d squired for.  But above all, he’d learned the longest from Barristan.

There, Harry surmised, might lay Harry’s advantage against the elder knight, if he could find the similarities in the duo’s fighting styles and exploit them against Barristan the way he’d exploited Jaime’s weaknesses in the Whispering Woods.

“Begin!”  Jon shouted when both fighters had signaled their readiness, and there began one of the most nerve-wracking spans of time that he’d ever faced in his life – for all that he’d set up the circumstances underway himself.

Barristan and Harry began circling each other, taking their opponent’s measure, while Lewen kicked off the raucous with a cry of: “A gold dragon on Barristan!”  Which was immediately met with Robb’s return of: “The fuck you say!  Five dragons on Harry!”  From all around the Lords and knights wagered heavily, most following Lewen’s lead of taking up Barristan’s cause while a few others, watching the two with shrewd eyes, placed their gold or silver on Harry having seen him fight for themselves in battle.

This, however, wasn’t a battle, a factor that dipped the scale in Barristan’s advantage.

Harry knew how to fight but above all he knew how to kill.

It was, after all, the single thing he’d been raised to do: fight, kill, and die.

That was it, the sum total of what the Wizarding World had wanted from their erstwhile hero.

Though in the end they’d found while he was perfectly able to do the first and second tasks he’d been raised to, unlike the pig-to-slaughter they’d thought him he refused to just lay down and cease to exist.  He’d once craved quiet, craved normalcy, but those days were gone along with the epoch of his birth and childhood.  Now, while quiet was enjoyable, it was no longer his sole goal and focus.

Seeing Jon on the Throne of Westeros was, followed closely by besting whatever-the-fuck challenge his fate had thrown at him this time.

To that end he’d become a more vicious, bloody-thirsty version of himself, above and beyond the changes worked in him by both Death and the wild magic of his new life.

Which was now the exact problem: he was vicious, capable of great violence, and above all deadly.

And this was only a fight to first-blood.

Having to check himself hindered him more than tying a hand behind his back would have – the effect was much the same.  Oh, he could enhance his speed and strength with magic, and gods knew he’d always been agile with quicksilver reflexes.  It would be nothing to him to dart around Barristan and make a killing blow before the aged knight of renown ever saw it coming.

But to hold his own in single combat and not take the advantage for a quick kill?

That was a hippogriff of a different color.

It was much the same problem he’d had with Jaime Lannister – a problem that had almost killed him.  The Lannister knight was worth too much to kill, so Harry had restrained himself.  And the Kingslayer had nearly gutted him as a result.

As Harry circled and paced around Barristan, eyeing up the aged warrior for weaknesses, he caught the first sign of the coming fight before their audience could get restless, Barristan swiping crosswise with a double-handed blow at the shoulder of Harry’s sword arm.

Barristan knew as well as Harry did that the younger man outmatched him for speed and agility, and his lighter armor lent itself well to dodging blows without wearing out.  That left the aged knight with a simple but effective plan of attack: strong blows to weaken and tire him before his speed and dodging abilities did the same to Barristan.  It was a pure battle of strategy: which would give first, Barristan’s strength or Harry’s speed?

And therein lay the show for the men surrounding them as quick as the snakes he could speak to, Harry’s inky-black sword was up and blocking, the lithe figure darting forward and flicking his wrist to swipe down at Barristan’s hip and thigh turning the block into a strike on the lower end of his swing and then dodging away before Barristan could recover from the recurve of his own swing.

Harry’s strike hit with the flat of his blade and bounced off the heavy white-enameled scale armor, Barristan withholding a telling wince.  The lad had put enough force into the block/strike combination to bruise through his armor, even if it didn’t give him the easy early victory the whippet had been aiming for.  Rolling his shoulder, Barristan advanced, no sign of the strike having hindered him in the slightest showing on either his face or in his gait, though he knew he’d feel it once the fighting-flush wore off.

“He’s quick.”  Ser Arthur commented, watching the duel with narrowed eyes.  Jon knew that look.  The Lord Commander of his Kingsguard was examining every move from both Barristan and Harry, searching for things that need to be improved or refined.  He should recognize that look anyway, Jon laughed to himself.  He’d seen it sent his way often enough during his growing years when the Sword of Morning took his martial training in hand.  “Agile as well.”

“Always has been from what I understand.”  Jon said, barely hiding a wince as Barristan made contact of his own after another couple rounds of strikes and dodges.  That was sure to leave a mark on his little love’s shoulder – thankfully Harry had seen it coming and turned into it, making the blow land on his off-shoulder rather than his main arm.

The Sword of Morning arched a brow and Prince Lewen gave a low whistle as the answering blow to the side of Barristan’s helm had the aged knight staggering back at the force of it.

“Stronger than he looks, innit he?”  The Greatjon boomed from his place watching a dozen feet down from the King.  “That’s the force of Winter there, Ser Barristan!  Ice and snow may glisten and look soft as down but it has a wicked bite!  Twenty dragons on the Lord of Winter!”

“Fuck.”  Robb cursed, spying the look in Harry’s eyes.  “They need to end this soon or Harry might do some real damage.”

“Are you certain?”  Ser Arthur asked brow creasing as he watched the rain of blows from his sworn brother that followed the Umber Lord’s incendiary remarks.  “It looks as if Barristan has him on his heels to my eyes.”

The knights and Lords within earshot of the Lord Commander muttered quiet agreements as Harry danced out of the way of Barristan’s flashing blade or blocking it when he couldn’t move fast enough but never striking back as hard as he had when he almost had Barristan the Bold staggering from his hit.

Deadly certain, Ser Arthur.”  Jon answered for Robb as the two of them exchanged a quick worried glance.  He’d only wanted the Lords and knights to shut their mouths over Harry’s place in the army…not lose one of the foremost knight of the realm.  What was amazing was the neither man had managed to draw blood, their armor taking one hells of a pounding between the two of them.  “The hardest part of this exercise for Harry is not killing Barristan.  If he loses sight of that because of his temper…”  The King trailed off, shaking his head with a wince as Harry’s next blow gave credence to his words, Harry having shifted his hold on his blade, the sharp cutting edge shearing off part of the scale-shaped mail tunic that hung nearly to Barristan’s knees.

If that blow had hit it would’ve cost him a sworn guard, Barristan would be unfit for duty missing a leg below the knee.

As if knowing the turn their conversation had taken – and mayhap he did hear them or otherwise know at that – the formerly restrained Harry whirled into a rain of punishing blows, though none were as potentially crippling as the one that nearly took Barristan’s leg at the knee.

Ser Arthur’s shocked-open mouth closed with a click of teeth as Ser Oswell arched a brow saying:  “Other than the one time he yelled at yourself, Your Grace, and Lord Robb, I was unaware Lord Harry even had a temper.”

Robb and Jon snorted in stereo, determinedly not looking at each other lest they lose their composure.  It wouldn’t do to collapse in helpless laughter as they watched their lover set about pounding Ser Barristan into the dust.  Though his swings still appeared to be well-enough controlled that neither felt the need to interfere – yet.

“He’s good at presenting a calm face to the world, at playing the game of nobles and kings.”  Jon said dryly.  “But Harry has a hotter temper than any man I’ve met – though better controlled than others who were infamous for their own hot-blood such as Robert Baratheon.”

“Aye, it’s true.”  Robb corroborated when the knights around them still look skeptical.  “His control is nearly impeccable – but that doesn’t make his temper any less real or formidable.”  Robb snorted once again, clearly remembering being slammed against a wall in Pyke.

The Lord of the North stopped speaking just in time to watch as Harry – more than a head shorter and several stone smaller than Barristan the Bold – made a tricky combination of moves that had Ser Barristan’s sword knocked loose and flying away out of his hold, followed up by a kick out with one leg against the knee he nearly amputated, taking the aged knight down, weaponless, to one knee.

Technically, the fight was to first blood.

But Harry knew well that there was another way to end the showing, and if the looks on the faces surrounding him meant anything, then there was no reason to carry the theatrical duel any further.

“Do you yield, Ser Barristan?”  He asked in a quiet but carrying voice as he held his sword steady in the Ochs position, ready to strike down and hard to take first blood if the elder man refused.

Barristan lifted one gloved hand and removed his helm with a little good-natured chuckle.  “Aye lad.”  He shook his head as Harry lowered and sheathed his sword then offered him a hand up, the Kingsguard being man enough to accept the help back onto his feet.  “You’ll have to show me that trick of yours again…another day.”

“Of course, Ser Barristan.”  Harry gave a regal nod as shouts rang out around the circle and some of the Lords and knights began collecting on their bets.  “Another day.”

Blood hot and needing to vent some aggression before it spilled out in a devastating magical blast – or cost Jon some lords and knights – Harry pounced on his lovers as soon as they cleared the tent flap, the Kingsguard having quickly checked it and rushed back out to take up posts around it, having seen the looks the three were sharing on the walk back to their field quarters from the makeshift practice ring.

Hands were everywhere as they stripped off armor and weapons, leather and linen and silk without care for damage or even where things landed.  Mouths kissed and nipped and bit, tongues dueling and bodies grinding smoothly with a coat of slick sweat easing the way.  With a gasp, Harry pulled away from his loves, giving a fierce push to Jon’s sculpted chest that had the exquisitely built uncrowned king falling back onto their bedfurs, Robb latching himself around Harry’s back, face buried in untamed ebony locks he’d frantically pulled from their demure braid and hands stroking over hot flesh, the Northern lord’s heated cock pulsing against Harry’s lower back.

Harry paid no mind to the aroused lord behind him, the world awash in nothing but reds as he crawled over and pinned Jon to the mattress before the first among his lovers could push himself up and attempt to take back control as was his want with his fiery Targaryen blood.

Robb settled in to watch from the foot of the bedfurs as Harry grabbed Jon’s wrists and pinned them down, his grip white-knuckled and tight enough to leave bruises, the wizard’s mouth slamming down on Jon’s own in a delirium of tongues and teeth.

There was nothing gentle to be had, not this time, not in this.

It was a battle of primal aggression, Jon from needing to reclaim his consort after watching him do battle, Harry from the unspent aggression the battle had wrought in him, and lastly Robb’s own was roused by that of his lovers.

Mind clearing for a split-second, Harry cast a spell over his lovers, cleaning and preparing them for their bedplay.  Harry’s wasn’t sure yet if it was necessary for both of them but not taking any risks with harming his loves.  He wanted to dominate them, not hurt them or cause them damaging pain.

A flex of Harry’s magic had Jon’s wrists lashed together and bound to the frame of the bedstead, freeing Harry to…explore his dragon-hearted lover to his satisfaction.  Nipping and sucking, Harry tormented and teased the violet-eyed Targaryen, paying special attention to the pert pale-pink nubs on his chest, Jon arching up with a groan, dripping cock grinding furiously but receiving no satisfaction from the air, Harry having quickly shifted to avoid the thrust and elongate his beloved’s torture.  Dragging his body down Jon’s in a single long caress Harry bit and sucked another mark into the meat of Jon’s hip, the dragon king moaning low in his throat as his eyes clenched shut, unable to take the sights before him: Harry taunting and teasing masterfully and Robb watching every move they two made with burning blue eyes and a hand stroking his equally burning arousal.

Robb gave a low growl at the sight of Harry, hovering so temptingly just out of reach and playing their lover’s body like a harp, his mind overloaded with the vision before him, his own completion just out of reach as he tugged furiously on his large throbbing cock.

A growl that snagged Harry’s attention even in his focused lust-and-aggression drenched haze, as he knew that sound of imminent climax intimately.

And that simply wouldn’t do, not at all.

A third spell shot from Harry, finally lifting a bit of the pressure that had been riding him, his magic being as roused by combat as his lust and blood had been.  Before Robb could even realize what was happening, his wrists were bound together behind his back, restraining him in a delicious tableau for his lovers’ eyes, back arched just a bit as he kneeled on the end of the bed, pulsing cock throbbing an angry red-purple, pre-cum leaking copiously from the plum-shaped tip.  Eyes wide with shock, Robb moved to protest, only to be silenced by the fierce growling voice of his little love.

“That’s mine, tonight.”  Harry rasped, one hand reaching out and giving Robb’s cock a strong tug that was just shy of painful.  “You’re both mine.  And tonight I’m going to remind you of just who it is you’ve promised yourselves to.”

With that dark promise that sent shivers down each of their spines, Harry turned back to the dazedly watching Jon, his eyes deepening to almost black the green was so lost in the lust-shot pupil.

“Now…”  His grin was all teeth.  “Let get started on that, shall we?”

With no more ado, Harry grabbed Jon under his knees, lifting them up and to his chest, tying them there with an absent wave of his fingers, then caressing Jon’s dark star lightly to test the spells he’d used to clean and prepare his dragon.  He wanted to claim them, grind his name all the way down into their bones, but not at the cost of their trust.  And of the three of them, only Harry bottomed with any regularity though the others did when the mood was upon them.

But as a hot-blooded Targaryen king and a fierce Northern lord, they were rather monsters in the bedfurs.  Monsters that loved to pound his perky arse into the ground.  Not that minded, on the contrary, he loved that about them, and that they were willing to accommodate him in turn when he was of a mind to take rather than give to his lovers.

It was a rare thing, Harry being open in his love of a nice juicy cock, something his former friends had never understood or supported.

To Harry, it was a testament to his comfort in his masculinity that he could take a cock or fuck an arse as he pleased, not a detraction from it.

And he was thrilled beyond words that he’d found lovers that felt the same, even if they had roles they clearly preferred.

Banishing such thoughts to the back of his mind as he took in the sight before him: Jon’s head tossing on the furs, his arms high over his head with his wrists bound to the bedstead, knees up and spread so prettily putting his firm arse and winking, lubed hole on display from his spellwork, and a throbbing reddened arousal bobbing, plump bollocks swollen with seed.  It was enough to give a dead man a cockstand.  And Harry was most assuredly not dead.

With a fierce thrust of his not-insignificant cock, Harry drilled home into his hot-blooded dragon lover, Jon’s voice raising in a half-pained, all-pleasured howl, eyes snapping open as his head craned back along with his arching back and neck.  Not giving him even a moment of reprieve, Harry thrust rapidly pulling almost all the way out before bottoming back into Jon’s spasming channel with a speed only possible for one of Harry’s agility to maintain.  Face going slack a moment, then twisting with the sign of on-coming completion as Harry tortured Jon’s pleasure-button over and over with each thrust, Jon moaned, eager for his peak.

Only to be denied as one lithe, sword-callused hand wrapped tightly around the base of his pulsing arousal, slick with Jon’s own pre-cum.  Leaning forward and switching to short jabs of his hips that kept a constant grind on Jon’s prostate, Harry growled jaggedly in one elegant ear:  “You’re mine tonight.  That includes this.”  He reminded him with a harsh twist of the base of the cock in his hand.  “You don’t cum until I decide, my king.”  He hissed, cutting off Jon’s cum, the cock pulsing fiercely in his hand as his lover was forced into a dry orgasm with a cry.

An echoing cry from Robb drew Harry’s attention back to his Northern lover, Harry speaking his next words lazily with his head turned and glowing green eyes locked on burning blue, continuing to thrust into their shared lover and while he tugged and punished Jon’s cock, hand tightening down harshly with any sign of approaching climax.

“I haven’t forgotten you, my wolf.”  Harry’s voice was dark and rasping, as he reveled in his play and mastery over his lovers, even as he knew they were sure to pay him back in spades when next they shared their bedfurs.  “Is it killing you, having to look but not touch?  Our dragon pants and cries so sweetly for me, will he do the same for you, do you think?  If you drive that throbbing hot cock of yours, that monster that likes to tear me open so wonderfully, into our beloved king’s wet, dripping arse?  It is you, know.”  His words were lavish and husky as he ground down into Jon, Robb’s eyes latching onto the filthy sight of Harry’s cock plummeting over and over again into the stretched hole, hearing the wet squelching of lube and pre-cum mixing with the slapping of Harry’s balls on the taut mounds of Jon’s muscled arse.  “Dripping with me.  Would you like that?  Taking my sloppy seconds after I’ve come again and again into our beloved slutty king’s arsehole?  Would you add your hot, burning Northern seed to the mess I’m making of our Targaryen bitch?  Would you breed him the way you’ve bred me?  Make him give you a litter of little wolf-dragons to nurse at his pretty pink teats?”

That was more than Robb could take, the filthy images racing across his mind from Harry’s gutter-talk making his vision flash white as he came spurt after spurt of his seed without even touching himself, every drop of it landing on his lovers as they fucked just in front of him, coating Harry’s back and pumping arse or falling onto Jon’s spread thighs, a single spray of it even falling onto where his lovers were joined, a white glob dripping down onto Jon’s stretched hole.

Panting, Robb fell back onto his heels, spent as Harry’s words proved too much for all of them when combined with the sight of Robb coming unassisted from watching and listening alone, the heated splatters of his cum on Harry’s back and arse having him shudder and thrust once, twice, three times before throwing his head back and shooting deep within Jon’s hot channel, commanding his dragon to “Cum, now!” at the same time as he loosened his grip on the king’s cock and let him at last release his dragonseed onto his belly.

Knees buckling under him, Harry fell down onto his arms, mindful even in the aftermath not to put too much pressure on Jon’s restrained form.

Gulping down air, his aggression and temper spent, he sighed, closing his eyes and rolling his neck.  He didn’t want to move.  Not for weeks at least.  But Harry, having been in the same positions as his lovers before, when he’d played around with such things before being frozen in time – both giving and receiving – knew they need aftercare or at least to be released and a gentle hand, particularly Jon, Harry not wanting the dirty talk he’d used to be taken seriously, as they’d never ventured into such things before.

Honestly, Harry wasn’t a true Dom or Sub, but there were times when his very nature needed more than a little slap-and-tickle or gentle lovemaking, even the fierce fucking his lovers often reveled in.

There was an edge in Harry, one that sometimes needed sensual pain or a bit of bondage to be satisfied.

This was the first time either Jon or Robb had truly experienced it and he hoped, hoped that it hadn’t been too much for them.

He could live without it, if he needed to.

But when he could very well live forever, if that was Death’s whim, with them at his side, why on earth would he want to?

Though he supposed he could always broach it again in another century or so if they balked now, once they were in need of a bit of spice in their lives…

Pulling out of Jon, a stream of cum and lube following him, Harry sighed, eyeing the fucked-drunk forms of his larger warrior-lovers.  A wave of his hand had them all cleaned, while another had Robb released and spread out beside Jon on the bed, Harry quickly using his magic to untie his kingly love and get him eased into a more comfortable position as well.  Taking advantage of their post-coital daze, Harry first rubbed down Jon, who’d been more constrained and likely had the tingling limbs to show for it, then Robb.

Once they both were seen to and were starting to come aware, Harry moved to sit between them at their hips, after propping both of them up into an upright seated position against the simple planked headboard of the bedstead and began to talk, his words low and gentle.

“In my time, my first reality I suppose you could say.”  Harry began, Robb and Jon watching him quietly as actual thoughts began to seep back into their minds.  “We had progressed to the point of being a very…hedonistic society.  Lys, only without the slaves, mostly, is the best I can compare the more advanced countries to.  Everything one could imagine as far as intimacy was available and for the most part accepted with a few very serious exceptions that were considered immoral.”

“Like what?”  Jon asked in a rasp, Harry instantly conjuring a pair of goblets with fresh water at the sound and handing them over to his lovers, eyes concerned.

“Age and consent were the two big ones.  And bestiality.”  Harry shrugged, not really wanting to get into the whole subset that existed in the Wizarding World surrounding Animagus forms.  “Safe, sane, and consensual was the motto most lived by, though there were always exceptions.  In most places you had to be either sixteen or eighteen to be considered an adult and capable of consenting to a sexual act.”

“But…”  Robb frowned, that was very different than their known world.

“What about ‘flowering’?”  Harry supplied, shaking his head.  “That wasn’t a mark we went by in most places.  We were more concerned with mental readiness than physical readiness.  And it was a different world, a softer world in many ways.  We lived longer, people matured slower.”  He shrugged again.

He wasn’t going to debate the morality of current laws.  That wasn’t for him to decide any more than it was for him as a British Wizarding Citizen to judge the age of consent in France or Japan or any other country in his former reality.  This was a different world altogether it was so different than his original time period.  And it was for the people of this time and age to set down their laws and follow them, not for him who had an entirely different and foreign perspective on things to dictate to them.

Merlin.

Hermione would have hated having to live that way, she wouldn’t have been able to keep herself from speaking up and trying to challenge and change the laws, the same as she had with Wizarding Britain.

“Anyway,” Harry got back to his point.  “One thing I discovered about myself because of the anything goes way of thinking when it came to pleasure, was that, when I get into a certain mood I need certain things.”

“Tying us up.”  Jon observed with a wry grin and understanding eyes, Robb nearly echoing the look on his cousin-lover’s face.  “Taking control.”

“That’s part of it.”  Harry nodded.  “There was a whole lifestyle and section of society that revolved around that sort of thing.  There were even names and titles and special vocabulary for it.  My magic can be volatile, especially when I’m aggressive and my blood is hot.  It doesn’t like to be constrained when it’s like that, and when I was young that resulted in some rather explosive shows of power.  My last lover before I was frozen in time, he helped me discover other ways to channel my aggression and dominance.”  He gave a little chuckle, shaking his head as he thought of the first time he Dom’d Blaise.  “I would never say or do things like that in any other time, I don’t think of either of you that way.  I’m very happy with the way things are between us normally.  And very satisfied.”  He rushed to reassure them.  “But sometimes…”

“You need to tie us up, take charge, and make us cum until we’re deaf, dumb, and blind?”  Robb asked, humor ripe in his voice, brows arched in question.

“Yeah.”  Harry breathed, thankfully.  Robb understood at least, though whether Jon was okay with what had happened remained to be seen.  He’d been rather more forceful with his violet-eyed love, and some of the things he’d said while getting Robb off were probably hard for a Targaryen king to swallow now that he was himself again.  “Just…sometimes.”

“I can accept that.”  The Northern lord agreed, turning on his side to face the still-contemplative Jon.  “Jon?”

“Is that how you think of me?”  Jon’s voice was heartbreakingly young, a stark reminder for Harry that both of his lovers were just in their late teens.  Men by Westerosi standards but still so very young and at times vulnerable with it.  “A slut, your bitch?”

Death, no!”  Harry burst out, appalled.  This was exactly why he’d started this conversation in the first place.  The wizard snapped to his knees and nearly lunged across the bed to take Jon’s hands in his own, staring earnestly into confused, but starting to clear, eyes.  “I think you’re one of the best men I’ve ever met.  I chose you to be my lover, my bonded, because I couldn’t imagine my life without you once I came to know you.  I yearn for you when I’m away and fear for you every time we enter combat.  You’re the father of one of my sons.”  Harry’s voice turned fierce.  “And I would slaughter anyone who thought to take you away from me, from us.”  He corrected, nodding to Robb and resting one hand on his lower belly.  “I would even challenge Death himself if he thought to separate us now.  What I said in the heat of passion was merely for effect, the same as you two have done in the furs with me before.  In bed, nothing should be taken as offense, so long as we all gain pleasure from it.”

“It was…arousing.”  Jon admitted, worrying at his lower lip, gaze darting between both of the men, his lovers and future consorts, who were watching him with love and care rich in their very differing stares.  “And…intriguing to be…used.  To feel like a vessel for your pleasure and to not have to be in control.”

“You trusted me, even not knowing what I was doing or what would happen next.”  Harry observed.

“Yes.”  Jon sighed, nodding.  “Yes, I did.  Even when it almost hurt, the pain was a good pain.  And you took care of me.  I…enjoyed it.  But I don’t think it’s something I’ll be comfortable with doing…too often.  It…chafed…a bit, at my inner nature.  But,” he shrugged.  “So long as such talk and actions are restricted to the privacy of our bedfurs and it isn’t every night, I could be amenable to experiencing it again.”

“That’s wonderful, my love.”  Harry sighed, feeling very loved as he knew of the two Jon was the most unsure over Harry’s words and actions when the need to dominate was riding him.  They rose together to dress and invite the Kingsguard into their tent for a last strategy meeting before sleeping, the work of the King and his right-and-left hands never done.  “Thank you…for understanding this part of me.  I know it wasn’t exactly what you expected.”

“You’re a wizard and warrior from over eight thousand years ago and a society now long dead and gone.”  Jon said, his natural humor rising to the fore.  “Nothing about you has been what I expected, from the moment I woke you all those weeks past.”

Harry could tell that despite the silencing charms around their bed, the Kingsguard had picked up on something, from the almost shocked looks he fielded the next day as they marched onward to meet the two flanks of their split armies, especially from Ser Oswell and Ser Barristan, both of whom were considered either rather devout or being older were more likely to be shocked by Harry’s actions in bedplay.

He didn’t think it could be a result of his duel, thus he’d already decided to re-layer the silencing spells in case they had weakened.  They weren’t broken at least.  If they had been it would’ve been the entire camp likely shocked to their toes by what had passed yestereen in the trio’s bedfurs.

They were to be met by Harry’s Ironborn who had swept down the western coast from the north under the command of Lords Blacktyde and Harlaw, Victarion having not shown hide nor hair of himself in the time since his brother and nephew had been defeated though Harry knew they’d gotten word from the rest of the Ironborn fleet over what had happened.  Also meeting them would be the joined Dornish/Targaryen-loyalist-Crownlands/Golden Company force who had left a force behind to hold Oldtown and muzzle the Citadel while taking the Ocean Road towards Lannisport.  A raven had reached them saying that they were bringing an envoy from the Grey Cloaks or Maesters to meet and treat with the new Targaryen claimant.  Word had it that the Faith was in an uproar over the dual actions of taking away their stronghold in the Reach at Oldtown as well as their ‘brothers in enlightenment’ the Citadel being under siege and guard.

Good.

The Faith and the Citadel both had too strong a hold on Westeros.

And that was before Harry confided his theories, suspicions, and findings to his lovers.

He had decided to wait for a time, until they had most of the Seven Kingdoms in a noose before revealing what he’d found – and what he’d surmised.

Jon couldn’t afford a war with the Faith, not yet, not while the Crown is deeply indebted to them.

And if Harry doesn’t plan things just right, another war may very well be what they face.

Well…he smirked thinking to himself as they reined in, cresting a hill that overlooked Lannisport and the bay, Casterly Rock looming on a high bluff over it all, it was a war they couldn’t afford yet.

With the birds-eye-view, the joined Northern-Targaryen-Riverland army trailing behind them, the vanguard with Jon, Harry, and Robb at its head with their most loyal and trusted commanders could plainly see the blockaded bay, the flags of House Valeryon and House Blacktyde giving proof of the two fleets: Targaryen and Ironborn, having joined ranks.  The Lannister ships were already burning, though the docks had been left alone, as Harry and Jon had ordered.  An encamped force was directly to the south of Lannisport.

Prince Oberyn had beaten them there, the banner of Sunspear and the Golden Company flying side-by-side with the inverted red and black three-headed dragon of House Blackfyre.

“Send out ravens to the fleets.  And riders to our sister camp.”  Jon called back to the squires and foot soldiers who had charge of the messenger birds.  “Use the swiftest we have: they are to sweep down upon Lannisport with the dusk.  The Lannister hold on the Westerlands ends before the dawn.”

“The men are tired from the march, your grace.”  Ser Barristan advised.  “They need a rest.”

“And they’ll have one.”  Harry observed the elder knight out of sharp eyes.  “Half a day if I’m reading the sun right.  More than enough to let our enemy think we’re settling in for a protracted siege and for the men to drink and fill their bellies.”

“Surprise is lost to us.”  Jon told his commanders.  “Casterly Rock and Lannisport have hunkered down for a long campaign.  They won’t expect us to attack fresh from the march.  And doing the unexpected is what has brought us this far.  Besides.”  His smile was grim.  “We may have a trick or two up our sleeves yet…”  Turning he gave Harry a nod, the Lord of Winter and the Iron Islands turning and setting spurs to his horse, Ser Arthur and Prince Lewen taking up position at his sides.

They had a surprise to ready, and a castle to take.

Jon and Robb and their lords could sack Lannisport without his help, though his heart went with them as always.

Stealth was the order of the day, at least as it came to impregnable fortresses like Casterly Rock…or Storm’s End or any of the other strongholds Harry had at least helped plan the sieges of.

And no one in Westeros was better at stealth than a wizard with a company of Dornishmen guarding his backside, as Renly Baratheon had learned to his detriment.

“How is it, Harry.”  Prince Oberyn griped as he joined up with Harry, Ser Arthur, and his fifty-years-young uncle Prince Lewen standing at a point on the bluffs at the base of Casterly Rock.  “That every time you get a bright idea, I somehow end up crawling through dark spaces…this one much worse than the last.”

“This one” referring to the drain that the other men were studying while Harry set fire to his sword and used it as a rudimentary blow-torch to cut away the grill blocking access to said drain.  A drain that was connected to the privies and definitely smelled of it, for all that it was supposedly cleaned weekly with a solution of sea water and lime.

Tyrion had chosen a side.

And with him came the information about how to breech the defenses of Casterly Rock with the least loss of life.

A solution that was markedly similar – but at the same time so very smellier – to that Ser davos and the Dornish used to breech Storm’s End.

The most dismissed Lannister had at one point in an attempt at humiliation from his father, been appointed as “lord” over the jakes, privies, and cisterns in Casterly Rock and Lannisport.  The ancient keep that was built long before Lann the Clever swindled it away from the Casterlys, didn’t have a convenient emergency exit known only to the ruling family.  No.  Casterly Rock was known to be completely impregnable, so why bother with such a thing?

Hubris, perhaps, on the account of the families that have ruled it, but very trying for anyone who sought to take advantage of the vulnerabilities escape routes provided.

Sneaking into a castle via the sewers might not be honorable – in fact it was the exact opposite – but Harry really couldn’t give a fuck.  He had a war to win, preferably before his sons were born.  “Honor” was a fluid concept anyway.

What one society saw as honorable, another saw as perversion, and vice versa.

To a man and wizard who had survived a war only to be locked away out of his own highly vaunted honor, and woken into yet another war, honor was only as valuable as the lives it saved and as disheartening as those it cost.

History was written by the victors after all, and no one was going to care about how they took two fortresses – only that they did and in doing so helped place Jon on the Iron Throne.

Still, he thought to himself as he fought to keep his stomach from roiling at the ripe scent of the dark tunnel.  This was once where he wished he was the type of man to sit on the sidelines and stroke his honor, rather than getting down and dirty with the other pit-fighters and survivors.  He was not looking forward to the coming climb, even if he could clean the tunnel as he went with his magic.

There were some smells even an overpowered Scourgify couldn’t deal with, and the overripe shit and piss of hundreds of Lannisters over the course of centuries was definitely on that list.

“Here we go.”  He said as the grill gave way, Ser Arthur and Prince Lewen catching it despite the heat of the metal before it could fall and draw the attention of the guards on the top of the walls.

Most of the Lannister forces had already fallen in battle or were camping out in the fields surrounding King’s Landing.  No one, certainly not Tywin Lannister or his nearly-as-arrogant brothers, had considered for a moment that they would get this far.  Which left a skeleton crew of only a few hundred to guard the Rock, the bulk of the force numbering in the thousands encamped in the port city below.

It would be another rout, one that they were taking swift advantage of as they watched the sun lower towards the horizon, touching the sea.  All of the attention of the day was focused on the fleet blockading the bay and the two armies on the doorstep of Lannisport.  Not a soul was watching the far bluff where the sewers emptied into the sea.

And that was how they needed it to stay for this to work and not end in a slaughter.

Lions were much harder to kill than foolish Stags after all, as the current count was two Stags killed by the golden beasts, much to Stannis’s fury.

As well as an untold number of staglings slaughtered by the vicious Cersei as she sought to wipe all of Robert’s many bastards from the face of the earth.

“This is a task from the seven hells.”  Oberyn swore softly as they waited and waited for the attack to begin, giving them cover to the inevitable noise that would be made by their climb.

“It’s a shit task, literally.”  His uncle agreed wryly.  “Still…better than banging on the gates for weeks on end until we can starve that fucker Kevan out.”

Ser Arthur just rolled his eyes at the pair of them, keeping watch on the top of the wall while Harry started casting cleaning spells as far up the tunnel as he could see.  The climb was almost sheer in places, and tight angles in others according to Tyrion, and would take all their concentration to make without giving their presence away.  He could – and would – cast cleaning charms as he went, able to do it through sheer will, but other spells weren’t as easy like keeping up a silencing spell that had to cover the length of four men, with space in-between.

Silencing spells were mostly used on a stationary area or to shut-up a person by applying it directly upon them, which would force him to cast and recast it the entire climb, costing energy that between the twins and the coming fight he couldn’t afford to waste, even with the excess magic constantly pushing at him for use.

Exhaustion would be deadly, a chance he wasn’t willing to take after the issues with dizziness he’d been suffering with and having already lost consciousness during the siege of Bloodstone.

He knew better, now, what was going on, and was much more cautious with his magic usage as a result, not that he’d even been too showy with it in Westeros, acceding to Jon’s wish to conquer the Kingdoms and create a lasting dynasty, not one that would falter in less than three hundred years like the last.

The sound of warhorns reached their ears.

Jon had ordered the attack to commence.

All four men exchanged grim glances before Ser Arthur moved to take point, all their heavy armor and weapons having been left behind in preference for leathers, each having only what daggers or other small arms they could fit in their boots or tuck into their belts under their shirts.  Harry even banished his sword back to its scabbard, which Jon had attached to his horse’s saddle until they were reunited.  The Kingsguard felt nearly naked as first Arthur went into the dark tunnel without Dawn, House Dayne’s ancestral sword, Harry at his heels and followed by Oberyn, Lewen bringing up the rear.

A whispered word had a dim ball of red light, the best color for this kind of work, bobbing a foot or so in front of Arthur and relieving the total darkness they soon entered as the glow from the fading day was left behind to the close confines of the tunnel.

“Let me know when the clean stone gives way to fouled.”  Harry instructed Arthur.  “We should be able to smell it first, but just in case say something so I can cast the spells to clean it.”

Arthur looked over his shoulder and nodded, using the spikes Harry had transfigured the soles of their boots into to help steady him against the walls as the incline steadily increased until they were almost climbing straight up, the sewer system being designed to use gravity to carry away the waste.

It was slow going, Harry’s cleaning spells only working for every twenty feet or so, more than one of them having to empty the contents of their stomachs during the climb, especially the pregnant wizard.

“Are you well, my lord?”  Lewen whispered low as Harry upchucked for the third time, Oberyn and Lewen clinging to the far wall to avoid getting doused in the watery bile, Harry having little else remaining to expel at this point.  “Should we two turn back and leave this to my family?”  He asked, referencing that as a Kingsguard, Arthur Dayne was as much Lewen Martell’s kin as his blood-kin Oberyn was.

“We should be close.”  Harry told him through gritted teeth as he forced himself up another six inches, arms feeling like rubber.  “At this point I’ll be out of this hell-hole faster by continuing on than turning back.  I’ll make it.”  He said determinedly.  “But next time Jon gets to climb through shit to take a castle, I’m done until the heirs are born.”

That was the best news both Kingsguard had heard in ages, at least until Ser Arthur whispered back that the tunnel branched off over their heads.

“Describe it for me.”  Harry asked, pushing with his legs and holding himself up with his back against the tunnel wall to rest his arms.  “Are all the off-shoots the same or are some smaller, larger, steeper…?”

“Yes,” Arthur reported after advancing and taking a closer look.  “And one has a grate over it, like the one at the castle wall.”

“That one leads to the Lord’s chambers.”  Harry said, blowing out a breath.  “And thankfully it’s not the one we want.  Arthur, I need you to look for a tunnel, it should be round and the size to barely fit a man.  It’s steeper than all the rest, nearly sheer, do you see it?”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Good.”  Harry sighed, Tyrion hadn’t led them into a trap after all…thus far at least.  “That’s very good.  That’s the one we want: it should lead to a hinged hatch at the rear of the stable yard.”  He grimaced.  “They use it to dispose of the offal from the animal pens.  It’ll be sheer for the length of the tunnel.”

It was the trade off the builders had used: most of the tunnels were far too slender for a grown man to traverse.  But to be rid of the animal droppings, they needed a much larger space to work with to prevent blockages.  So they made it sheer: a near impossible climb.

Unfortunately for the Lannisters inside the castle, they’d pissed off their own for the last time, and under estimated Harry’s ability to take on impossible tasks.

All of them breathed a sigh of relief as they felt cool air brush over their faces rather than the stale, rancid air of the tunnels.

They were almost through, the sound of horses and distant battle beginning to carry to their ears.

Men and horse swept down on Lannisport like a tidal wave, flooding the streets and turning the grey stone cobbles red, sweeping through the gates and over the walls, there was nothing Kevan Lannister could do but watch in horror as they came by sea and land in a hammer and anvil smash of destruction that made the Greyjoy sack of Lannisport seem like a fond memory.

The only difference, besides the size of the force, being that while Balon Greyjoy had murdered and raped with impunity, setting house and shop and even men aflame without mercy, this new so-called King, this bastard son of a Targaryen, only struck down those who stood in his way, the garrison falling within hours and marching to just out of range of the catapults and trebuchets and archers all arranged on the walls of Casterly Rock.

Ironborn came in from the sea, securing the docks and preventing any chance of running the blockade of the Targaryen fleet.

Dornish and Crownlands and sellsword men alike slammed into the Southern wall, standing as the “anvil” under the command of a Blackfyre Banner to the “hammer” of Jon Targaryen and Robb Stark’s joined army.  The elephants the sellswords commanded and rode moving to the head of the line and battering down the first of the series of gates leading to the castle wall even as they spoke.  It was only a matter of time, and not much at that, before the massive mounts tore through the Rock’s final line of defense like a knife through silk.

“What shall we do, brother?”  Corpulent Genna Lannister, wife of a now-dead Frey, for which she secretly thanked the Targaryen devil, asked as they stood, the only two surviving siblings of Tywin upon the curtain wall, their children and those of the rest of the main Lannister line who were not either with Tywin or already dead flanking them.  “The stores won’t hold out forever…and neither will the gates.”

“Pray.”  Kevan answered succinctly, knuckles turned white as he watched the invading force still and wait – though for what he couldn’t begin to guess.  “To all the gods that Tywin won’t leave us here to rot and die as Robert did to Stannis and Renly for all that they survived in the end.”

As he spoke, a lit arrow shot out over the far wall, arching high above the sea and the main gates swung outward, the waiting army having gotten their signal charging forward with a resounding cry from the Ironborn: “Black, black, BLACK!”  As the elephants surged forward and thundered through the second and third outer gates, leaving only the defenses on the high walls to keep them from breeching the castle, their strong gates either floundered – or having been opened somehow from the inside.

Faces white, Kevan and Genna turned tail and darted inside the castle, making for the hidden tunnels in the mines where they could hopefully hide and wait-out the occupation of the Rock, Jon Targaryen having shown himself to be a commander with a dislike of leaving his men to sit idle and his enemies time to regroup.

They’d heard of a Black.  Harry Potter-Black.  The Warrior-Who-Waits and chosen consort of the Targaryen king.

It was through his plan that Storm’s End fell and now it seemed Casterly Rock would follow it, making it the third stronghold after Storm’s End and Old Town to fall from the inside, Black seeming to find and exploit their vulnerabilities with ease, curse his hide.

Seven be good, the Rock wouldn’t take them with it and give the damned Dragon yet more hostages to curb Tywin with.

“We lost five thousand men between the Gold Cloaks and our own forces.”  One of the Westerland lords in Tywin’s retinue reported to the newly returned Hand of the King as he sat in state with the small council, his idiotic grandson and daughter nowhere to be seen.  “Leaving us with twenty-five thousand of our own men in the Kingswood and the plains surrounding King’s Landing.  However,” the lord sighed.  “We are still blockaded from Blackwater Bay by the Northern Fleet and cut off from every avenue of aid save from what Mace Tyrell has promised us from the Reach.”

“I’m afraid, my lord Hand.”  Varys spoke up in his nearly-feminine whisper.  “That the expected aid from the Tyrell faction, may well be much less than we thought.”

“Whether we will ever see said aid is the question.”  Tywin said scathingly.  “Well.  Time will tell and his precious daughter will be here soon enough for surety.”

Varys shook his head, hands folded gently on the wooden table before him.  Also present were Tyrion, the Grand Maester Pycelle, the Mockingbird Baelish and some of the remaining Lords of the Realm.  Three of them being most capable of gathering information in their own ways, and none of them looking forward to sharing it with Lord Tywin.

“It’s more than that, Father.”  Tyrion commented, drinking deeply of his Arbor gold, Bronn at his back as he always was now a days.  “Apparently Willas Tyrell never received his father’s instructions, having pulled immediately back from Bitterbridge in the wake of dual news of Mace’s failure and the taking of Old Town.  He left a provisionary force of a mere five thousand encamped and took the rest, an Heirs’ Army swelled with the younger Lords and Heirs of the Reach, back to Highgarden.”

“Yes,” Varys seconded the repot with a nod.  “My little birds tell me Lord Mace was most distraught at only finding his mother and daughter waiting with their guard and not much more than a few thousand men with them when Lord Tyrell arrived.  Most distraught indeed.  However,” Varys sighed waving a perfumed arm.  “None can deny the delicate position Lord Mace is now in after his resounding defeat and the advance of the Dornish accompanied by the Golden Company in Old Town.  A Golden Company carrying the banner of House Blackfyre.”

“House Blackfyre?”  Baelish whispered, skin milk pale.  “How is that possible?”

“We crushed the male line.”  Tywin bit out, fingers drumming on the table.  “But it was rumored the female line continued.  This Jon Targaryen must have allied with the last of his remaining kin.  And what of Aerys’ daughter?  Where is she in the game?”

“Unknown.”  Varys frowned lightly.  “Lost in the Red Waste was the last report.”

“Speaking of ladies, what of Lady Sansa?”  Grand Maester Pycelle wheezed.  “What will be done with her now that you seek to marry Margery to Joffery?  Will you wed her to young Tommen instead?”

“That would be a waste of a beautiful woman.”  Baelish observed, eyes glinting.

Tyrion found himself reluctantly agreeing with the Mockingbird…for once.

“I would be wary of trying to wed her to anyone.”  Tyrion half-jested.  “Wedding the Dragon’s cousin is asking to be burned.”

“Yes.”  His father mused, watching him carefully.  “Yes it is.  I have yet to decide what to do with Lady Sansa.  It is a situation that must be handled with the utmost skill…  Tyrion.”  He turned to his son.  “I wish to speak with you privately afterwards.  Moving on, has anyone heard from or seen Sandor Clegane?”

Harry fought with his back to the gate, flanked by Prince Lewen and Ser Arthur.

Prince Oberyn had gone off to signal the armies, as well as sow destruction and play saboteur among the trebuchets and catapults, leaving the three of them to hold the gate until the elephants could bust down the three outer gates and the vanguard could arrive.

They had stolen swords from the sleeping guards in the barracks after making it out from the labyrinthine sewer system, Ser Arthur giving Harry and the others a hand up after wriggling free from the small space.

Harry had never been so glad to see a pile of literal horseshit in his life than when he’d clapped eyes on the pile in the back of the stables, they’d spent the entire damn climb worrying about someone using the sewers and piss and/or shit raining down on their collective heads, Arthur more than anyone else since he would’ve borne the brunt of it.

Now they stood, fighting with all their might to keep the gates open as the Lannister men surged forward, battering them back step by step.

“Jon better fucking arrive soon or that entire climb was a waste!”  Harry shouted over towards the Kingsguard as he lopped off yet another sword arm before stabbing the Lannister-wearing asshole in the throat.  It was like they never learned...  “Do you see them?”

“No!”  Lewen shouted back, feeling the vibrations from the stampeding elephants under his feet.  “But I hear them!”

A breeze and the sound of thundering hooves was his only warning before two sets of hands grabbed him around the shoulders and simultaneously pushed/pulled him onto the back of a horse.  Dropping the sword, Harry clamped his arms around Jon’s waist, shooting a smile over at Robb who had helped their lover lift him onto the King’s mount at a gallop.  The vanguard of mounted knights and Northern cavalry had arrived, the Ironborn and Golden Company at their heels.

As he reached for his sword, hanging right where it was supposed to be from Jon’s saddle, he spotted Ser Barristan and Ser Mark riding up beside their sworn brothers and handing over their Valyrian steel swords and other weapons that had been left behind.

Spying a budding problem on the wall, Harry turned and called an order to his men: “Ironborn!  To the walls!  Prince Oberyn is pressed and in need of aid!”

Aye!”  Shouted back his men, the Crow’s Eye among them along with Lord Blacktyde and others.

There was still no word of Victarion, a state of affairs he wasn’t pleased about but had no time to sort…as of yet.

Jon and Harry with Robb at their side and the Kingsguard surrounding them, rode through the Lannister guardsmen like a scythe through wheat, cutting them down before they managed to rouse much of a defense now that they were faced with a true incursion force rather than a quartet of saboteurs to take care of.

Blood spilled, limbs were lost, and men died by the score as they swept through the ancient fortress, leaving no nook or cranny untouched, taking no chances on leaving a would-be assassin alive to slit their throats in the night.

And as a red sun rose, the banner of House Targaryen flew high over the walls of Casterly Rock, the three headed dragon roaring out their victory for all to see.

The three of them slept, and slept deeply, in the Lord’s Chambers of the castle after having the access point Harry had used welded back shut with a spell, a ward placed over it at the entrance they’d used.  Harry wasn’t taking any chances on another repeating his feat now that they had the castle under their control.

It was from this sound sleep that Harry was awakened by an alert from his magic, his eyes shooting over to a shadowed corner as he summoned a knife to his hand and held it threateningly.

“A man greets a Warrior.”  Was what awaited him as the sleep cleared from his senses, a hooded figure seeming to melt from the shadows.

“A Warrior greets a man.”  Harry replied.  “What does the House of Black and White want with me, or with us?”

Oh, yes, he knew who this was.  Well not who precisely but what he was.  A Faceless man.  He’d heard of them, learned more from the memories of Jon he’d accessed on waking.  And sought out as much information as he could when he realized just how big of a threat they might very well prove to be.

“A man brings tidings.”  The Faceless man stood stock-still as Harry climbed naked from between his lovers before belting a silk robe around his body and walking to stand and face him.  “A contract was brought before the Many Faced God.  A contract that was refused.”

“I knew someone would try.”  Harry ran a weary hand through his mussed hair.  “Was it for myself or one of my loves, does a man know?”

“A man knows.”  The figure nodded.  “As does a Warrior if he cares to ask.”

Harry just tilted his head, the figure continuing at the signal.

“A price was offered for both a King and a Warrior.  But the Many Faced God has spoken.  The House of Black and White will not give a Warrior or a King the gift.”

“A reprieve at best.”  Harry answered, taking a deep breath as he thought, the Faceless man continuing once more.

“A man has been sent to ask: has a Warrior a name for the man to hear?”

“A name?”  Harry narrowed his eyes.  “Or a name?”

“A name.”  The Faceless man replied.  “As many or as few as a Warrior would speak, a man would hear.  So says the Many Faced God.”

Mulling that over a moment, Harry leaned forward and spoke lowly for only the Faceless man to hear, the shadowed figure melting back as if he’d never been at all when he was finished with only a nod in response.

“Well.”  A voice said dryly from the bed.  “That was interesting.”

“And terrifying.”  Robb added, the two of them sitting up and throwing off their pretense of sleep as Harry turned and arched a brow.  “Nothing like being woken by an elite assassin to get the blood pumping first thing.”

“Indeed.”  Harry rolled his eyes as his lovers got out of bed, making his way over to the table already laid with his herbal tea he used to try and stave off the worst of his mother’s-sickness.  Sniffing once, he cast a spell over all the food and drink to check for poison, as he’d done every meal since starting off on this mad adventure with Jon.  He knew the Kingsguard checked for such things, but he couldn’t help it after almost being poisoned more than once in his life.  He wouldn’t lose either of his loves or his twins for that matter to a coward’s tactic.  “But good that we’re up nonetheless.  We have to meet with all the Lords, hear the reports of the campaign…”  And he was off and rattling off a long, long list of duties that needed seeing to that day, his lovers grumbling a bit as they stalked around the chambers and dressed before joining him.

“…and I have to find out where the bloody-fuck Greyjoy is hiding.”  He finished as Jon and Robb took their seats flanking him, each gifting him with a morning kiss as the Kingsguard entered from the outerchamber.

“You’re fired, Arthur.”  Jon joked with a wry grin.

“What do you mean, my King?”  Ser Arthur asked with a frown as Ser Oswell remained in the outer chamber, Ser Mark guarding the hall, and Ser Barristan and Prince Lewen accompanying him into the royal – for the moment – chambers.

“We woke up to an assassin this morning.”  Harry told the Kingsguard who took the news with shocked gasps and wide eyes.  “A Faceless man.  But,” he held up a hand before the Kingsguard could lose their collective minds.  “He meant us no harm.  The House of Black and White apparently refused the bounty on both mine and Jon’s pretty heads.”

“You are so very pretty.”  Robb murmured in his ear, nipping lightly at one soft lobe.  “Now Jon on the other hand…”

“Stop that.”  Harry chided him lightly, pushing him away and shoving the Northern Lord’s plate closer towards him.  “Prat.”

“More assassins will come.”  Ser Barristan said grimly, a hard look in his eyes.  “While the Faceless men have refused for reasons I cannot divine, others will not.”

“They serve the Many Faced God.”  Prince Lewen noted shrewdly, watching Harry nibble on toast with canny eyes.  “Or rather: Death Himself.  A deity that seems rather taken with our Lord Potter-Black, our King’s betrothed.”

“Either word of events on Pyke have reached Braavos.”  Jon mused into his morning mead.  “Or Himself decided to speak to his acolytes.”

“My gold’s on the second.”  Harry said with no little amount of arid humor.  “He likes to meddle a tad bit much when it comes to me.”

“Why is that, anyway?”  Robb asked.  He’d been present for the showy meeting in Pyke and even so he was at sea over the whole thing.

“Reasons.”  Was all Harry would say.  “He’s a god.  They get bored.  Anyway.  We’ll need to be more careful now than ever.  Tywin will be enraged and likely double or triple the bounty on all our heads now.  And there’s the issues with the Iron Bank to think of…which I might have a solution for.”

“Oh?”  Jon’s interest perked up.  He had ideas as well…but none he really liked.  Especially since none of the debt was accrued by his family but by that fat bastard and his whore of a wife.

“Look around you, my dragon.”  Harry waved to the rich furnishings of Casterly Rock.  “Not all the gold of Casterly Rock has run dry.  We strip the gaudy place, send anything worth a copper on ships to Braavos.  I would wager over half of the debt could be paid by the furnishings of Casterly Rock alone…and that’s before we even plunder the treasury, it might have enough to cover all of the Usurper’s – and his lovely wife’s – debts save that to Tywin himself.”

“There is a certain irony and humor to it.”  Robb laughed uproariously at Harry’s suggestion.  “And you were going to strip the Rock from the Lannisters anyway.”

Jon laughed alongside the other men as they all fell to stitches at that.

It was a grand – and rather ingenious – solution to a thorny problem.

The Targaryen in him loathed the very idea of using his family’s wealth to clear a debt not their own.  It had been his intention to use the gold produced by the mines they’d captured to pay it rather than dip into his own coin.  But if there was another way, one that spited that murderous cunt Tywin, well…he knew which he would choose.

“Who would we send?”  Harry asked him, head cocked.  “Without taking a tally I’d bet we can clear the debt to the Iron Bank in one swoop between the treasure and the furnishings.  Maybe even the Trade Cartels as we’re at it.”

“A combined force would be best.”  Jon said, wiping a tear of laughter from his eye.  “An even mix to keep everyone honest: Crownland, Dornish, and Northern.”

“Perhaps some of my Ironborn as well?”  Harry posed, cocking his head to one side as he thought.  “Lord Blacktyde seemed our strongest ally among the fleet.  I wouldn’t trust either of the present Greyjoys as far as I could throw them.”

Robb made a sound of agreement.  The Crow’s Eye bothered him more than he’d like to admit.  Especially the way he’d watched Harry on Pyke.

Raping bastard had better keep his hands to himself or he’d feed them to Grey Wind.

“Ser Davos and Prince Quentyn.”  Jon decided.  “One is probably the most honorable man I’ve ever met, and the other has something to prove.  They’ll lead the fleet with Ser Davos ultimately in charge.”

“How many men can we spare for the endeavor?”  Robb turned and asked Ser Arthur who had the current count after the most recent battle, a report they’d yet to hear in full, just an estimate before crawling in bed the night before.

Harry hadn’t even been to tend to the injured, he’d been so worn from the climb and following fight.

“We’re spread out through the West and have taken losses along the way.”  Ser Arthur reported.  “But with the men supplied from the party brought by Prince Oberyn and Lord Blackfyre, as well as the Ironborn, we could easily spare twenty ships and the men to crew them for the trip.  As things stand we’ve now a combined army in and around Casterly Rock over fifty thousand strong with another fifteen spread throughout the West in varying conditions, not counting the garrisons in the Riverlands and the Vale as well as the loyalists in the Crownlands.  We’ve lost nine thousand total in the taking of the Westerlands.”

“Nine thousand.”  Harry closed his eyes and shook his head with a soundless whistle.  “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to waging war on this scale – or the sheer cost in human lives.”

“Nor will I.”  Jon said grimly.  “Which is why I’ve never stopped you from helping us take these fortresses through guile, no matter how much the lords bitch about it.  You and Oberyn have saved countless lives, whether anyone else realizes it or not.”

“By the seven hells…”  Robb gasped at the vision walking towards them after they had left their chambers behind and made their way towards the healing tents to see to the wounded.

They’d already met with most of the commanders – those that were awake and staying in the Rock anyway – and heard reports all through breakfast from Arthur and Barristan on the condition of their forces once the plans for the envoy to the Iron Bank had been finished.

Now it was on to the next thing on Harry’s seemingly endless list and where their little love’s talents shone: the healing tents.

But before they could get to the tents set up between Lannisport and Casterly Rock, another retinue met them, a silver-haired rider at their head.

And it was this man in particular that had Robb shifting uncomfortably in the saddle with a rather inappropriate erection.

“Believe me, I know.”  Harry murmured as his lovers stared wide-eyed at the Blackfyre Scion.  “He’s just about the epitome of temptation given life and breath…the cocky sod.”

“He’s the Blackfyre.”  Jon said, not a trace of doubt in his voice as they watched the leaders of the Golden Company canter towards them, the royal party reining in to wait for them.  “There’s no one else he could be…not looking like that.”

“Aegon Blackfyre.”  Harry stated, leaning forward in his saddle and resting his arms on the pommel, the Kingsguard watching the approaching horsemen like hawks.  “Who was raised as the son of a sell-sword, then as a false-claimant to the Iron Throne.  And somehow absurdly honorable and occasionally naïve despite all that.  But ruthless and vicious all the same.”

“He’s a dragon in heart and blood.”  Ser Arthur drawled.  “And everyone with the dragon’s blood could be the same if you riled them enough.  Rhaegar, the gods keep him, was as gallant and charming as any man I’ve ever met.  But piss him off?”  Arthur shook his head, obviously remembering something he didn’t voice.  “Better hide as far away and in as deep a hole as you can before he could find you.  They didn’t call a Targaryen losing their temper ‘waking the dragon’ for nothing, my lord Harry.”

They all feel silent as the horsemen came within earshot, save Jon who leaned in close to Harry and hissed: “You’re plotting my love, I can see that look in your eyes.”

Shooting him a mock-innocent look in lieu of a response, Harry kneed his horse to the front, pushing in between the Kingsguard who had encircled the three of them at the others’ approach.

“Hail, Aegon.”  Harry said after working his way between a resisting Arthur and Oswell.  “Well met.”

“Well met, Harry.”  Aegon called back, the others with him: Lysono, Harry Strickland, and Tristan River among them; calling out greetings as well while eyeing the wary and ready Kingsguard.  “Good to see you in better health than last met my eyes.”

Harry hid a wince at that reminder, feeling hot eyes burning into his back.  He was glad he’d fessed up about having issues while away, otherwise Jon would probably lock him in a tower somewhere – or try to – until the war was over.  As it was, now he could look forward to soothing a pair of mother hens that night instead of getting a good hard fucking in while they had a plush bed to take advantage of.

“Ha bloody ha.”  Harry shot back.  “And look at you: as pretty as ever.  Had a dagger to the throat lately or should I oblige?”

“Oi now, lads.”  Harry Strickland chided them.  “We’re all friends here, lets play nicely before the King, yes?”

The other Harry pouted a moment, giving Aegon a teasing look from under lowered inky lashes.  “Very well.”  He sighed.  “Ruin all my fun, why don’t you Strickland?”  Waving a hand, he gave the introductions as the Kingsguard finally moved aside and allowed Jon and Robb through.  “King Jon Targaryen, first of his name, I give you the commanders of the Golden Company: Aegon of House Blackfyre and Harry Strickland.  With them are their lieutenants Lysono Maar and Tristan Rivers, the other having been left in the Stepstones or Oldtown.  With King Jon is Robb Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Lord Paramount of the North, Ser Arthur Dayne, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy, Ser Oswell Whent, Ser Mark Ryswell, and last but not least, Prince Lewen Martell, also of the Kingsguard.”

“Cousin.”  Jon greeted Aegon with a genial nod, Robb echoing his motion at his side as they flanked their Harry.  “Commanders.  We welcome you and your men, officially, to Westeros and thank you for your aid and loyalty.”

“Thank you for the welcome, your Grace.”  Aegon shot the other men – both of them as handsome as the rumors had whispered, much to his…discomfort – his most charming grin.  “Thus far we’ve quite enjoyed Westerosi hospitality.”

Lysono gave a coughing laugh at that.  Yes.  Because nothing said “welcome” like flirty Dornishmen and battles full of bloodshed and slaughter.

At least it wasn’t snowing…yet.

Winter, after all, was coming.

“We’re on our way to inspect the healing tents and see to the wounded.”  Harry told them, barely keeping a smirk off his face as he saw how Aegon was eyeing his betrotheds – and the not-so-hidden looks his lovers were shooting back.  Maybe his little plot would work after all.  Still, there was a massive difference between appreciating someone’s looks and wedding or even bedding them.  There was still work to be done.  Thankfully, he shot a knowing glance at the Blackfyre Scion, it was of the most pleasurable kind.  “Care to join us, gentlemen?”

“You.”

Harry gasped out a breath as Jon picked him up around the waist, quickly wrapping his lithe legs around his dragon’s lean hips and holding on for dear life as Robb gave a dark chuckle at his back, Jon continuing to talk as he walked them into their chamber after breaking for lunch, Jon falling forward onto the bed, cradling Harry and pinning him lightly, always aware these days of the miracle growing inside his love.

“Are a plotting, conniving, little minx.”

Said minx, smiled beguiling up at his royal lover, winding his arms around his neck as he arched temptingly into the hard length in Jon’s trousers.

“You love me anyway.”  He pointed out with a husky laugh.  “Besides…he really is pretty.  And that’s just how the two of you prefer your lovers: pretty and with a hard cock and a tight arse to fuck.”

Jon groaned, burying his head in the bed coverings beside Harry’s neck, his minx turning and pressing kisses along the side of his face as he whispered temptingly in his ear, holding out his hand to Robb and tugging him down to join them in their bed as he split his attention between the two.

“What are Targaryens known for, my love?”  Harry said coaxingly.  “Dragons and their looks.  I can restore one but not the other to your House, my dragon.  But Aegon…”

“We don’t need a silver-haired rogue to rule.”  Robb pointed out, wrapping the two of them in his arms.  “Or for anything else for that matter.  Is he pleasing to the eye?  Of course.  That doesn’t mean I want him in our bed or our lives, no matter how hard he gets my prick.”

“I’m with Robb on this one love.”  Jon said, lifting his head from the covers and shaking it reluctantly.  “It was hard enough for me to get used to the idea of sharing you with Robb, who I already loved and trusted…just a bit differently than it has become now.  Adding another, and a stranger at that…?”  He groaned, thinking of the sheer logistics of it.  “It’s just not feasible.  Now.”  He said, voice deepening and taking on a silky edge.  “I believe we owe you for two days ago…and interest has been stacking up every single second we have had to wait to have you…”

The next day they were in council with the leaders of the army when Ser Oswell knocked on the door of what used to be the study of the Lannister Lords.  Jon was due to hold court soon, to confirm some changes to the landscape of the Westerosi nobility as well as meet with envoys sent by the Citadel and others including the Faith, who had finally accepted that short of divine intervention, Jon I Targaryen was a force that will change the face of Westerosi politics, even if he was somehow defeated at this late juncture.  And how that must have stuck in the septons’ collective craw that a follower of the old gods was changing things – and that there was nothing they could do to stop him.

“Your Grace.”  Ser Oswell said as he cracked open the door, an irate muttering heard coming from behind him.  “You have a visitor that insists on being seen before the general audience.”

“Who would dare…?”  Several of the lords gasped or growled among themselves, Jon holding up a calming hand.

“Let us see for Oursel