Tower of Joy
Ser Arthur Dayne fell from Howland's dagger with a slick sound, Ned could hear his gurgling breaths louder than his own pants. Howland looked at him expectantly, clutching his bloody gut. Ned couldn't stop staring, he was nearly frozen until Arthur dropped his sword.
Ned quickly grabbed the sword, it's weight light and he moved easily when Arthur looked up at him. His heart stuttered as he looked at eyes similar to Ashara's but his body never hesitated. He gave the final blow, one of mercy and Arthur fell. Never before had Ned felt so honorless, it was cronnagmen way to use any means of advantage but it left Ned feeling sick.
Not that he had much chance to feel regret at the moment, for he heard a wail that would haunt him for years to come. Ned ran towards the tower, slowing after the second scream he thought - No it must have been the wind. He glanced back to see Howland wriggling out of his clothes, pressing his shirt to his wound.
Howland waved him off, knowing whatever would happen in the tower was more important. Besides he would force himself to live, he had not finished his destiny yet, his death would not happen for many years ahead.
Ned rushed ahead, Dawn still raised in his hand, watching for any attacks. The tower was messy as if it's occupants had rushed around in a frenzy long before he arrived. He burst through the only shut door in the whole tower, startling two of the three women in the room.
One of the woman paled and wept at the sight of the bloody sword and whispered, "Dawn."
Ned ignored her, eyes only focused on the broken vision before him.
"Ned?" Her voice is a broken whisper, that only rushes Ned to hurry to her side. As he nears her bed, he takes in the blood sheets and the sweaty appearance of the bed's occupant. He left Dawn at the foot of the bed, instead one hand went to pet Lyanna's hair and the other grabbed her shaky bloody hand and he pressed a kiss to it.
Oh his sweet little sister, so haggard and broken. Where was her strength? What had Rhaegar done to her?
"Is that you? Is that really you? You're not a dream?" Her words were a soft yet rapid babble, her fingers twitched in his hand as hope grew.
"No, I'm not a dream. I'm here." He smiled weakly, allowing himself another caress. "Right here."
"I've missed you, big brother." Lyanna's eyes opened, watery with tears and clouded with fever. Her face blooming with a smile.
"I've missed you, too."
"I want to be brave."
"Shh. You are."
Ned knew every fiber of his being that Lyanna was brave, Lyanna was honorable, always fighting for those who needed it. He remembered Lyanna who took over responsibilities of the Lady of the House when she still a child. He remembered helping her into mismatched armor at the Harrenhal to defend their new Cronnag friend. He remembered the fearful yet flattered expression on her face when she accepted the winter roses from Rhaegar. He remembered her own screams against her father after her betrothal announcement, throwing their mother's memory into his face and claims of how she must be shamed to have a husband like him.
He remembered Benjen's confession of helping Lyanna met in secret with Rhaegar for over a year, of helping her flee on their way to the Riverlands. Ned knew his own promises of Robert stopping his boozing and whoring had likely pushed an already strained Lyanna to what she thought was a better option.
Lyanna was a wild wolf, had she been born male, she would have been much like Brandon and their father thought he could use her to further a Southern alliance.
"I'm not." Lyanna whimpered, her twitching hand reminding him of the sticky blood still coating it. "I don't want to die."
"You're not going to die." Ned assured her though it was futile. There was too much blood. He looked to the Dornish handmaiden standing by the bedside, the other seemingly distracted by something he couldn't see. "Get her some water."
"No, no water." Lyanna shook her head, trying to get her brother to listen. Oh for a second, how she wished he was more like her feverish dreams. She had confessed everything multiple times to delusions of Ned and Brandon and their father, only to have a burst of clarity and see Amira wiping her brow.
"Is there a maester?"
"Lis-Listen to me, Ned." With energy she didn't know she had or where it came from, Lyanna pulled her brother down and close to her face. Desperation leaked from every pore and she lowered her voice, "His name is Jaehaerys, you know who his father is. If Robert finds out, he'll kill him-" Lyanna rushed on ignoring her brother's attempt to interrupt. "You know he will. You have to protect him. Promise me."
She could see the confusion on his face, she signaled her maids to bring her son close as she caressed her brother's face, trying to memorize every detail of it like she had with her son. She tried to summon visages of Benjen's face, tried to remember and wished he was here. She felt guilty for the confused haunted look on Ned's face and knew it would only echo on Benjen's.
Lyanna weakly pushed Ned to face them. Amira still held Jaehaerys to her body, hesitating to give the babe to the man who killed their protectors. But Lyanna nodded and Ned shifted his body to hold the wrapped bundle.
"Promise me, Ned."
Amira stayed by their sides, ready to take the babe back as soon as possible. She could see her lady was already fading, tears going down all their faces. Even the little prince seemed to sense it as he started crying as well. Ned looked at at his sister then to the babe and back to her. He nodded his agreement but Lyanna's eyes had already closed her final whisper as a smile overcame her face,