A/N: This is for Talen45100, who wrote the only review that needed a response. The Massacre of the Freys was largely ignored by the outside world, as I get the impression that the Freys were far from popular. Oh, there was a punishment from Robert, as James will explain, but that was about it. And Ned didn't know about the Massacre when Harry swore his allegiance for the simple reason that, as I understand things, the North is largely self-sufficient, independent and cut off from the other kingdoms. From what I know of the North, the Starks are kings in all but name. Outside of White Harbor and the Watch, I don't see the North getting many visitors, or much news, so when Ned did hear of the Massacre, he had already accepted Harry's oath, though it had only been a month after the oath. This Harry is a true Slytherin, and as such, very good at deception and misdirection, and he led Ned to believe that he and his family was like Draco's, being hosted by Lord Hoster Tully. Oh, and to my guest reviewer, I'm glad that I got you hooked, and I'm sorry that the crossover took so long to get to, but my plan was always for a Slytherin Harry to come to Westeros after defeating Voldemort. I had hoped for only two prologue chapters in England, but it simply didn't work out that way.
By Skill Not Force
Chapter III: The Kraken's War
The Twins, Riverlands, 286 A.L.-Harry
"Alright James, what do you know about our House?" Harry asked his eldest son, who had just celebrated his birthday a week ago.
"Our House was born in a land called England or Albion about 1500 years ago by Salazar Slytherin and came here under your leadership about six years ago. Within a month of our arrival, you massacred the previous Lord of the Twins and his family for oath-breaking, breaking the guest-right and attempted murder. King Robert made you pay a fine of one million dragons for vigilantism and line-ending, and after an extra 'gift' of 500,000 dragons, we became the Lords of the Twins. Our sigil is a silver serpent on a green field, and our words are 'By Skill Not Force.' It is also rumoured amongst the common people that we have magic, though I do not know if that is true," James finished.
Harry smiled at his son, who could have easily passed as a clone of his namesake, though he certainly had his mother's mind. "All true, including the magic, though you will not have it until magic is reborn in this land. However, you did miss one key trait, the key trait of our House that determines who will be the next Lord Slytherin."
"I did?" James asked in surprise.
"Yes, a trait so tied to our family that everyone in England knew that one who had it was a member of our family. That trait is known as Parseltongue, the ability to speak to snakes."
"We really can talk to snakes?" James asked. His little brother, Albus had claimed that he had conversations with snakes several times before, but James had always dismissed the claims, much as he dismissed the claims of the Reeds to be able to see the future with green dreams, or the existence of the Children of the Forest and the Others. Then again, Albus was only five, so James expected him to still believe in fairy tales and the songs.
"Yes, but as you have yet to display the trait, we need to learn if you do. Otherwise, I'm sorry but you cannot be my heir as Lord Slytherin," Harry stated.
"And how do we find out?" James asked, already knowing Albus would be the next Lord Slytherin if he couldn't speak it.
"I brought a snake with me, one that is perfectly safe to be around," Harry explained. He brought out the garter snake and told it "My other son is here, would you try and speak to him?"
"Dad, stop," James said with a whisper. Though he was eight now, he was on the verge of tears, something he hadn't done since he was four. "Dad, I couldn't understand you just now! What's going to happen to me?"
Harry pulled James in for a hug. "You will always be my son, James, this just means that you can't inherit the Twins. But I swear to you that I will find something for you."
Before Harry could comfort James any more, eleven year old Edward 'Teddy' Lupin came running into the room. "Uncle Harry! The Greyjoys have just burned the Lannister fleet at anchor! We're at war!"
Harry just groaned. "I've already been through a war, isn't that enough for one lifetime? James, go tell Maester Johann to call the banners. Teddy, you're going to come with me. I think it's time that I start teaching you how to lead, and prepare you to leave us."
"Leave, Uncle Harry? Do you not want me anymore?" Teddy asked, his normally turquoise hair turning white in fear, absolutely terrified of the prospect.
"You will always be part of the family, Teddy, and I will always want you. But you're going to be an adult soon, and I was thinking of finding a way for you to support yourself, and a family," Harry explained with a smile.
A week later and the soldiers that owed loyalty to the Twins had assembled and arrived at Seagard, a castle specifically built to defend against the invasions of the Ironborn. Harry had made certain to become friends with the Mallisters in case of such an invasion, though he had hoped and prayed that it would never happen. In order to facilitate the closer relationship, Harry had expanded the Westerosi road system, connecting the Twins to not only Seagard, but also Oldstones, Fairmarket and Riverrun in the Riverlands, as well as Banefort, The Crag, Ashemark and Casterly Rock in the Westerlands. With the expanded road system, Harry's soldiers had managed to reach Seagard in half the time they normally would have, and as such, Harry and Jason Mallister had been able to prepare a more effective defence, and train the soldiers to better standards.
It was a good thing too, because only ten days after their arrival at Seagard, the bells in the Booming Tower started ringing: the Ironborn had arrived. It would be the first time that Harry used Salazar Slytherin's glaive as a weapon since arriving in Westeros, and he was fairly nervous. That is, until the Ironborn came charging at him. The first one bore a squid on his breastplate, and Harry quickly smashed it in with the hammer before stabbing him in the throat. With his first kill behind him, Harry was quick to get into battle mode again, and between his spells and the actual triple threat of Sheara, Harry was quickly eliminating the Ironborn soldiers.
Unfortunately, nothing could save him from a misstep, and Harry fell to the ground, with Sheara knocked away from him, making him easy prey for any of the raiders that noticed he was still alive. And one was quick to do just that, a tall man in solid black armour, outside of the gold kraken on his chest, and the golden kraken helm he wore. "Stay away from my uncle!" a familiar voice cried out. Harry was so shocked that he turned towards his godson and watched as he picked up Sheara and stabbed the man through the back of his knee.
The Ironborn cried out in pain as the basilisk venom started surging through his veins. "You bastard!" he cried out as the venom hit his heart.
"Don't you dare insult my godson," Harry stated, as he cut off the man's hands, feet, and, once he was dead, his head as well.
"He killed our prince! Avenge Rodrick!" the cry went out, and all of a sudden, every Ironborn surged towards Harry and Teddy. The two looked at each other, nodded, and prepared for the onslaught, as the focus of the enemy turned from the Booming Tower towards them. Teddy was quick to grab a small sword, perfect for his naturally short stature, as well as a bow, quiver full of arrows, and one of the fallen raider's shields. Harry's own first action was to hit the ground with the butt end of Sheara, setting off a silent Coracis shifting the landscape in order to make it so that fewer of the Ironborn could attack them at once, thus nullifying their numerical advantage.
The Ironborn either ignored the change in landscape, or didn't care, because outside of a fearful cry of "Sorcery!" they showed no reaction outside of rage, and continued to charge at the two. Harry's curses and Teddy's bow kept them at bay for a while, but eventually they managed to get close enough that Harry and Teddy had to start using their melee weapons. By then, the narrow corridor was filled with dead bodies in various levels of dismemberment. But eventually, even the fierce Ironborn couldn't cope with their losses and were forced to retreat back to their ships . . . or rather, would have if their ships were still intact. While Harry and Teddy had kept the Ironborn busy, the Mallister men had destroyed their ships, allowing the Seagard and Twins soldiers to utterly destroy the invaders.
Pyke, Iron Islands, 286 A.L.-Harry
"You had to do what?!" Harry exclaimed three months later.
"You heard me, Harry. I had to destroy the Dreadfort with Fiendfyre and reburn the ashes. The evil of the Boltons lingered there far too deeply to stay there. We've moved across the river just to be on the safe side," Draco explained. Within weeks of moving into his new castle, the Malfoys had become extremely agitated with each other and their new servants, something that had never happened before, and their children had become extremely ill, to the point of death. Draco, being the most attuned to sensing magic, had quickly discovered the problem lay in the castle itself and taken the appropriate measures, including evacuating the smallfolk from the castle, though not before building new homes for them. The scary thing was that he did have to reburn the ashes of the Dreadfort, a measure the Ministry had only used in the most extreme circumstances, when the Dark Magic that had infiltrated the building was so terrible that if they didn't reburn it, then the evil of the magic or acts would have continued lingering and affecting those living in the area. The only other building in recent memory to have been reburned was the former Riddle Manor.
"My lords, it is not the time to catch up, we are about to start the battle," Lord Stark stated. In the months that had followed the destruction of the Lannister fleet and the attack on Seagard, King Robert had gathered the lords to invade the Iron Islands and end the rebellion. This had caused a little tension between Harry and Lord Stark, due to his deception and the Massacre at the Twins, but things were slowly improving, partly due to Harry's part in saving Seagard, and partly due to his obvious friendship with Draco, whom Ned trusted without reservation.
"Ah, leave off them, Ned! They're clearly good friends, and when was the last time they saw each other?" Robert Baratheon countered. "Now come on, we haven't seen each other since I was crowned! We need to catch up." And with that, the king dragged his childhood friend off to the side.
"He has a point, Draco, we should see each other more often," Harry stated once he got over his shock at seeing the king. Though it hadn't been three years since he saw the king, Robert had already gained a good two stone of fat. What kind of life was he living at the court? All he had ever heard of the man was from Ned, and all of it was good. Ned Stark had described a man with a lust for life that showed itself in every way possible, including one for women. Robert's lust for women was becoming so infamous that it was starting to rival that of Aegon IV the Unworthy, and it was making Harry glad that Westeros didn't approve of female warriors.
"Yeah, we should. Hey, how about this: I heard of a Westerosi tradition among the nobles where one lord hosts a child of another, so how about we let Ned raise our heirs? We can check up on them every few months so that we stay close to them and each other. What do you say?"
Harry's eyes lit up at the suggestion. "That's brilliant! But do you think the girls will go for it? You know how they are about the kids, and Scorpius and Albus are still pretty young."
"Well, that's why we'll tell them now, but wait a few years before actually doing it, and to make things even better for them, we'll bring them home for a couple months every year. Do you think Hermione will go for it?"
"Uncle Harry!" Teddy called out before Harry could respond. The preteen had almost been knighted for his actions at Seagard, but it was decided against due to his youth. "The army is ready to attack! We need to prepare our troops for the attack."
"Thanks Teddy, we'll be ready," Harry said before turning back to his oldest friend. "You know, if we spin this as being like Hogwarts, then the girls will be far more willing to let them go. Have them go to Winterfell when they turn 11 and come home every few months."
Draco grinned at the idea. "And to make it so we can meet up, we can go to Winterfell to pick them up! Brilliant, Harry! By the way, is it true that there was magic used at the Battle of Seagard?" he asked with a glint in his eyes; one that suggested he already knew the answer.
Harry just gave him his infamous smirk in response before turning to follow his godson. Looking out at Pyke, he could see the still smoking ruins of Lordsport, burned by the Lannisters when they arrived on Pyke. Militarily it was a good idea, as Greyjoy's men had been using the town as cover to harass Harry and Mallister's men, who had been busy attacking Castle Botley. Now though, the whole strength of Westeros had arrived, there were men from as far north as Last Hearth, and as far south as the Arbor. The failure of the Greyjoys was assured, the only question left was if any of them would be smart enough to surrender, or if they were too proud to do so. To make matters worse for the Ironborn, Pyke had been under bombardment by the many trebuchets and catapults that the Riverlanders had built in the three months they had been on the island. Harry doubted there was a tree left on the island, which meant it would be that much harder for the pirates to rebuild their fleet.
Now, the last towers on Pyke had been destroyed, and thanks to the fleet, they had a clear path from the gatehouse of Pyke to the Sea Tower, which was three seastacks out from the Great Keep, and connected to the other parts of the castle only by the clichéd swinging, wooden bridges. Really, Harry thought, why would anyone want a castle with those, especially here? They were just asking for death by falling when storms hit. Harry doubted that even Gryffindors would be foolish enough to build a castle like that! Then again, that kind of sounded like something that the Twins would do.
Harry startled at the thought. That was the first time he had really thought of his friends from England since arriving in Westeros. He started wondering how things were going for them when suddenly, Teddy called out "They've breached the gatehouse!"
Harry turned to his men and shouted "That's it, let's finish this!" And with that, the army started charging through the breach, with the priest Thoros of Myr and Jorah Mormont of Bear Island taking the lead. Fortunately, with as large an army as Robert had brought, Pyke fell quickly. Though the army had to split up to search and secure every room, and had to deal with archers defending the bridges between the keeps, their enormous numbers worked to Robert's advantage. Even with the constant division, the continual reinforcements from the camp ensured that no Ironborn would be missed. Finally, the army reached Balon Greyjoy, who seemed determined to win or die. "You may take my head, but you cannot name me traitor," he claimed. "No Greyjoy ever swore fealty to a Baratheon."
"No, your family just swore fealty to the Iron Throne, I checked," Harry stated. Upon his decision to claim the Twins, he had decided to look into the fealty oaths every lord owed, just to be on the safe side. Each of the barons were sworn to counts, and each count was sworn to a duke, even if they were all simply called lords. The Lord of the Twins was a count, and the eight dukes of the regions, the Starks of the North for example, were all sworn to the Iron Throne under their original oaths to the Targaryens, and now to the Baratheons.
"And now you will swear to me, or lose that stubborn head of yours," Robert growled out. Balon bent the knee and swore his allegiance to Robert. "Now, how to make certain you won't rebel again?"
"Your Grace," Draco said, "back home, there is a tradition amongst the rulers when they were in this situation. Whenever there was a rebellion, they take a hostage from the rebels in order to ensure they won't rebel again. I would suggest you follow the principle, and take the eldest child from the great families of the Iron Islands. After all, Greyjoy wasn't alone in the rebellion. According to the traditions of the Iron Islands, a king must be chosen by a council in order to ensure they pick the strongest among them."
"Great idea, Malfoy! Ned, you can take the Greyjoy's boy, I'll figure out what to do with the rest later," Robert stated. "Now, let's get off this rock before winter arrives!" Ned agreed, silently wondering how he would explain this to Catelyn.
Winterfell, The North, 290 AL-Eddard
Fortunately for Ned, not only had he beaten the winter snows home, but Cat took Theon's arrival quite well, as did Robb. Actually, Robb took his arrival best, quickly becoming close to the older boy, almost to the point of neglecting Jon. Fortunately, Jon had become close with Ned's newest child, Arya, who already showed signs of being Lyanna reborn. Fortunately Draco wasn't having the same problem, as he had placed his hostage, the eldest son of Lord Wyk with his new smallfolk: Wildlings brought from north of the Wall. Ned had to shake his head at the thought. Who would willingly bring them south of the Wall besides his Justice of the North? And just to make Ned's home all the more crowded, young Albus Slytherin and Scorpius Malfoy had become his wards. But as the gods seemed intent on keeping everything in balance, the two boys had become close friends with both Jon and Robb, though neither liked Theon much.
However, neither of the boys were there when he had returned from White Harbor after chasing Ser Jorah Mormont there. The lord turned slaver had escaped, and the boys were back at their homes for a few months. Ned was now reading in the godswood when Cat walked in and found him. "Reading again? One would think you aspired to be a maester when you were young, Ned."
"What makes you think I didn't?" Ned joked. "The middle of three sons, and I always did love to read more than fight, I think a Maester's life would have suited me." Then he sighed at his family's fates. "Ah, but it was not my destiny, and I couldn't be happier, Cat."
"I could almost agree with that, Ned, except for one thing." Ned raised an eyebrow in question. "Tell us when."
"Tell you when ... what, Cat?"
"Tell me and Jon when you will tell us the truth about his mother, Ned. He came to me today asking if I knew who his mother was."
"Jon came to you?" Ned asked in shock. Though he hated it, everyone in Winterfell knew of the bad feelings between Jon and Cat.
"Yes, after Theon taunted him about it, again."
Ned sighed. The rivalry between the two boys was starting to become a problem, even more so than the relationship between Jon and Cat. "Then you're right, I have kept this secret too long. Jon's nameday is next month, I'll tell you then, I promise, Cat."
"Thank you, Ned," she said, looking happier than Ned had ever seen her.
A few hours later, Ned called Jon to his solar. Jon looked almost afraid that he had been called by Ned. "Jon, I want you to do something for me. I want you to stop dyeing your hair until after your nameday."
"But Father, you told me to make certain I always dyed my hair."
"I know, Jon, but I do have a reason for it. And I will explain on your nameday, I promise."
One month later, on his tenth nameday, Jon preformed his morning ablutions, and when he finished, looked at his reflection in the water. After a month without using the dyes in his hair, he barely recognized himself, though the only thing truly different was that his hair was nearly as white as Lord Black's. But combining that with the fact that his eyes seemed to have changed colour and Jon would almost swear that ... eh, it didn't matter. Both Theon and Robb stared in shock, and Theon even managed to joke about him going grey in his old age. Jon just smiled and joked back, "If I'm old, Greyjoy, what does that make you?"
Theon gaped at him before bursting out in laughter. "Good one, Jon! I'm proud of you," he said with the largest smile any had seen on his face since he arrived at Winterfell. Jon on the other hand just stared at the kraken, that had been the first time that Theon called him by his first name.
"Jon, come here," Eddard called out. "I need to talk to you, in private." Robb looked at him in confusion, while Jon just shrugged. He had no idea why their father would want to talk to him in private. "Wait, Robb, you should probably hear this as well." Now all three of the boys were confused, but what could Jon and Robb do but obey? Theon figured it had to be some Stark family thing and let them be.
To Jon's surprise, his father led them into the Stark catacombs, where Lady Stark was waiting for them. "Robb too, Ned?" she asked.
"He's our heir and next in line to become Lord of Winterfell, he deserves to know. Besides, the boys think of each other as brothers, Robb would have almost certainly found out soon anyways." The two boys looked at each other in shock. What did he mean they thought of each other as brothers? Weren't they brothers, if only half-brothers? "Well boys, I'm sure you're wondering why I called you both here," their father began. "Jon, Cat here told me that you actually asked her if she knew who your mother was last month, is that true?" Jon simply nodded. "Well, that you actually went to her made me realize that I've held on to this secret long enough, and probably too long. The answer to your past, Jon, is down here, in the last place anyone would think to look." He then turned to his wife and son. "The secret behind Jon's birth is now treason, and should Robert find out, he will certainly kill myself, Jon and anyone else who knows the truth. If either of you don't want to know and be as guilty of treason, you can go back." None of the three left, so he continued. Slowly he led them through the catacombs, passing by the Kings of the North and the trio considered what they had been told so far. "Now boys, what do you know about how Robert came to be king?"
"Because of the Mad King Aerys, and his son Rhaegar. Aerys had become increasingly insane ever since his capture by House Darklyn, then Rhaegar kidnapped Aunt Lyanna, Robert's betrothed. Grandfather Rickard and Uncle Brandon went to King's Landing to get her back, and were killed for it, so Robert went to war to get her back. Robert killed Rhaegar and became king, but when you finally found Aunt Lyanna, she was dead," Robb summarized.
"Very good, Robb, but that's not entirely true." The other Starks looked at each other in confusion before turning to their patriarch. "Rhaegar did not kidnap my sister, she ran away with him, and a few months later, married him."
"But what does this have to do with my mother?" Jon asked.
"Everything, my boy. I must confess now that I have lied to almost everyone for the past thirteen years. I dishonoured myself in order to keep a promise I made to Lyanna, a promise to keep you safe. And it was in an attempt to keep that promise, and my own wedding vows that I told that lie. If you were younger, you would not have been mature enough to know to keep it a secret. And Cat, if you knew the truth, and it came out, you would be killed right alongside me."
"Why would your sister ask you to keep him safe?" Lady Catelyn asked. "And why is the secret a treasonous one?"
"As I said before, I've lived a lie for thirteen years. The truth is Cat, I have kept only two promises in my life. The first was that I would be true to you, and love only you, Cat. The second was to keep Jon safe. Cat, the only children I have are yours."
"WHAT?!" Catelyn and Jon cried out in confusion. "Then where did I come from?" Jon demanded.
Robb's eyes widened in realization. "Isn't it obvious? You're not my brother, you're my cousin." Turning to his father he asked "That's it, isn't it? Jon's the son of Aunt Lyanna and Prince Rhaegar, isn't he? That's why it's treason just for him to be alive, and why you asked us about how Robert came to be king."
"Yes, he is, Robb," Ned said as they stopped in front of the last occupied niche in the catacombs. "Both of your parents are here, Jon."
"Is that even my real name? Is this my actual nameday?"
"As far as I know, yes, this is your actual nameday. You were only newly born when I found you and your mother. As for your name, I did change it into something that's passable for any family really, but truly believable for one of my children. Your real name though is one you have claimed before." The two boys looked at him with unbridled curiosity. "Remember the game where you would call out names of famous knights that you would play as? You would often claim the knight that my sister named you for."
Jon thought for a while, then he remembered the knight, his favourite kingsguard: "Aemon," he whispered. "My name is Aemon Targaryen." Robb pulled his cousin into a hug as the young dragon prince came to accept his heritage.
Cat whispered to Ned. "Why, Ned? Why didn't you ever tell me? I can understand why not when we were first married, but what about after?"
"I think it could be put down to fear. Not fear of you," he was quick to explain, "but rather, fear of breaking my promise. Fear for Jon, or rather, Aemon, and what could happen if someone found out about him, especially Robert. Also, as I said, it could be lethal to you if you knew the truth and Robert found out."
"Then, why is it you don't wish to speak of Ashara Dayne, Ned? I'd assumed it was because of Jo-Aemon I mean," Cat demanded.
"If you insist, my lady, I'll tell you, but I fear it will only cause you more pain. Ashara was nothing more than a close friend and confidante to me. She was the only one that knew that I'd fallen in love with my brother's betrothed and she with my brother. That night at Harrenhal, Bran slept with Ashara. When Brandon's daughter was stillborn, she could not take the grief of losing both them and her brother, and threw herself off the cliff. I have always loved you, Cat, and none other. Why do you think I insisted on not following through on the bedding ritual?" With that, Cat threw herself in her husband's arms and wept.