“My lord,” Catelyn says, staring at the bundle in her lord husband’s arms, then up at him, then back at the babe again.
For one moment, when she heard I fathered a bastard son during the war and I am sorry for that, my lady, but I wish that he’s raised alongside our firstborn, Catelyn had felt dread rise up through her spine, because they only haven’t even been married for a full year and they barely knew each other, all right, but she had thought him better than that, and then she had seen the bastard son in question.
“I don’t recall having married into House Targaryen.”
There’s no way that babe isn’t somehow Targaryen. He has pale blonde hair and purple eyes, gods.
“You haven’t,” Ned replies. He looks down at the babe, then up at her again.
“Is the mother a Targaryen?” Catelyn presses on. She shouldn’t, sheknows she shouldn’t, but it’s just so obvious that it can’t be his baby that she just - can’t not.
“No,” Ned replies at once, sounding slightly horrified. “Well, she -” He looks pained for a moment, then takes a deep breath. “The Daynes, er, they -” He stops, sounding even more pained.
Catelyn takes a step forward and puts a hand on his arm, stopping the flow of words - it’s obvious he’s trying to lie. And he’s not a really good one, not when the proof of it is so evident.
She looks down at the babe again. Targaryen eyes. Definitely. But if Ned has him he has to be somehow related to him, and -
“My lord,” Catelyn says, looking up at the absolutely despairing look on her husband’s face. “I think I understand.”
“You - you do?”
“I think that he has to be related to you, or you wouldn’t be here trying to convince me that you have some lost Targaryen ancestry or that his mother is someone whose name you cannot even utter because it pains you.” Catelyn knows that it seemed like he might marry Ashara Dayne, before Brandon Stark died. “I think there’s just one reason you might be carrying with you a babe with purple eyes. I - if you really think you can get people to believe it, I won’t say the contrary. But I need to know the truth.”
“You - you have the right of it,” Ned sighs, holding the babe close to his chest a bit tighter. Catelyn looks down at him again.
“Very well. Then he’s your bastard. I will not say the contrary.”
“My lady -”
“My lord. He’s yours, if you say so.”
The grateful look Ned sends her way makes Catelyn think that maybe, just maybe, she hasn’t just done something colossally stupid by agreeing to pretty much commit treason against the crown, but hopefully Ned knows what he’s doing.
4. jon arryn
“Ned,” Jon sighs, sitting in front of his former ward in his solar. He decided to visit Winterfell before leaving for King’s Landing for good to take up his duties as Hand of the king.
“Yes, my lord?”
“Ned, you cannot seriously say that your - that the babe you named after me is yours. I’m flattered that you would, but -”
“My lord, Jon is my son.”
“Ned, you don’t need to stain your honor like that when it’s obvious that -”
“He’s mine and the king hasn’t seemed to see a problem with it.”
“Ned, he will notice at some point. Those eyes and hair -”
“The Daynes have purple eyes.”
He’s even saying that without flinching now, Jon muses. He used to back when he told me that lie for the first time.
“And Ashara Dayne was dark-haired, Ned. Not pale.”
“Her relatives were not.”
Jon sighs and decides that there’s no reason to pursue this further. He just hopes Ned doesn’t end up dead because of it when he could have just sent the lad away and spared him a most probable death should King Robert ever find out.
And spared himself to be condemned for high treason, himself. He remembers how Jon Snow had looked next to Ned’s son Robb, with that pale blonde hair and purple eyes, and shudders.
“Why shouldn’t Jon be Father’s?” Robb asks, shrugging. “He says so.”
“Robb, he looks like a Targaryen from history books,” Theon sighs - there’s just no bloody way that kid is actually Ned Stark’s. Unless the mother was a Targaryen, and given what Theon knows of any available female Targaryen alive by the time Jon Snow might have been conceived, he thinks it highly unlikely.
“So what? Father won’t say who’s the mother. Maybe he took after her. And even if it were, what’s the problem?”
Theon would like to ask him do you realize that if anyone finds out your father could lose his head and your brother or whatever he is to you might die, but Robb just looks so sure about it - he doesn’t have the heart to actually go into it.
Also, if they’re happy with it and no one has actually had the guts to bring it up since Lord Stark is so fixed on insisting that no, the lad is actually his, who is he to object? That said, he still has no bloody clue of how the king just doesn’t seem to have any doubts about it.
Stannis sees Lord Stark’s bastard son exactly once, when they feast at Winterfell after the ending of the Greyjoy rebellion. A quiet, polite child. With pale blonde hair and purple eyes. Lord Stark doesn’t bat an eyelid when he says the lad’s his own. His own brother doesn’t bad an eyelid either, and Stannis just doesn’t get how he can’t see it when he can’t seem to go on a rant about how much he loathed Rhaegar Targaryen and his offspring and his breed every other day instead of worrying about ruling.
That said -
Stannis had pondered long and hard before siding with his brother, and it was blood that had called him, not duty. He looks at Jon Snow trailing his legitimate brother and being generally an example of politeness and appropriateness to anyone who’ll talk to him and look up at his supposed father (and brother) in pure adoration.
He thinks about his own loveless marriage and about how his own daughter might never get a sibling that she might love half as much, not that there’s much love lost between him and his own.
Who is he to convince Robert that the lad is not Ned Stark’s, if that’s what Robert wants to believe? No one, probably.
If anything, he’ll keep an eye on the boy and Lord Stark because someone will have to inform him that he has a claim on the Iron Throne at some point soon, but for now he’ll nod along when Lord Stark assures the world that yes, that’s his bastard and no one else’s.
There’s no bloody way that lad is Ned Stark’s, Cersei thinks as they ride into Winterfell and sees the infamous Jon Snow standing straight to greet them alongside his siblings and the Greyjoy hostage.
Cersei remembers Rhaegar Targaryen’s face even too well.
There is no bloody way.
Ned Stark calmly and politely introduces the lad as his bastard.
Cersei will admit openly the paternity of her own children before actually believing that.
“Your Grace,” she tells her husband, may he rot in the Seven Hells if he ever gets there - hopefully soon, if the plan works out.
“Yes?” Robert replies, sounding annoyed. And also bored. But mostly annoyed.
“That lad is supposed to be Ned Stark’s bastard son?”
“He says he is, so why shouldn’t he be? And let’s not waste time with this nonsense, I didn’t come here for it,” he proclaims, and leaves her side a moment later.
Cersei just cannot fathom that he doesn’t see it.
That’s, until Jaime walks up next to her.
“You have seen, haven’t you?”
“I did,” Jaime replies, sounding nonplussed.
“He’s committing treason,” Cersei hisses.
“Cersei, I somehow think it’s not a good idea to bring it up, or do you wish someone to start thinking about looks when it comes to bastard children?” Jaime hisses back.
Seven hells. That’s - that’s a point.
Maybe now is not a good idea. But later - later, Cersei decides.
“So, my lady,” Cersei starts, and Robert almost wants to groan out loud. If she starts with that nonsense again -
“Yes, Your Grace?”
“I was wondering, that child is your lord husband’s infamous bastard? The only stain on his honor and the likes?”
“That’d be him,” Lady Catelyn replies, evenly.
“That’s what he says. I have no reason to doubt my lord husband,” Lady Catelyn keeps on.
And Robert is frankly done with this ridiculousness. “Woman, how about you stop asking around for things no one cares for? If Ned says that lad’s his, then he’s Ned’s. Have you even met him? Someone like Ned would never lie about something such as this. He’s too bloody honorable. Always told him he was, but what can you do.”
And then he pours himself a generous drink - he needs it, if only to forget this entire conversation is happening.
Of course that lad is Ned Stark’s, how could anyone assume the contrary after spending just a day with the man? And he’s known Ned for years. Ned wouldn’t lie about something such as this, never mind that if Ashara Dayne’s the mother then Ned won’t want to talk about it and there’s plenty of blonde Daynes in Dorne, he doesn’t see what’s the problem with the way the lad looks.
Honestly, no one here has their priorities straight, he thinks as he drinks his fill of some excellent Dornish red that Ned must have saved for important occasions.
Jon Snow, not being Ned Stark’s.
Robert will laugh at the prospect for the entire evening, at least. He’s really surrounded by idiots, and he definitely needs more wine to get through this farce.
As if Ned would lie.
Absolutely fucking ridiculous.