AN: So here we go for the last time with this story.
Angeloux: I'm glad you liked Aerion and can completely understand why you don't usually like OC's. I did everything I could to make him a strong character. Really pleased you liked the bit with the Others and Bran, they were some of the most difficult scenes to write. I personally really like Barristan but I can easily see him putting his life in front of another's.
way of life: I'm glad you liked it :)
Gw82: Thank you!
colorprism: Happy you enjoyed it. The city was fun to describe as I feel their architecture would be quite unique.
dd: Thank you very much, that's quite the compliment. I never had any intention of letting this go unfinished :)
LaurenSelbyHughes: Really glad you liked the way I brought Bran in. It took me a while to think of a good way of doing it.
A Frozen Shadow: I actually considered sending Summer south but I just felt the connection between him and Bran was too strong to separate them.
JP: Thank you. I just couldn't accept that the Others were so black and white when so little in Martin's world is.
Birdy1210: Thank you, glad you liked it. There will certainly be weddings and reunions in this chapter.
Xenolov: Glad you loved it. The backstory for the Others took me a while to come up with.
lordmantis: I never had any intention of leaving this unfinished. Just isn't in my personality.
Disclaimer: A song of ice and fire is the property of George R. R. Martin no copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made from this story.
The journey back to King's Landing took three months, and winter's cold grasp lessening as each day passed. The army disbanded slowly as they went, the common soldiers returning home with Daenerys' blessing.
They stopped at the Twins, collecting Daario, Grey Worm, Harry Strickland, Olyvar Frey and most importantly in Arya's opinion, Rickon in the process. The boy seemed truly attached to Shireen Baratheon, and though she was closer in age to Arya than Rickon, she seemed fond of him as well. The happiest reunion at the Twins happened between the three direwolves though; Ghost, Nymeria, and Shaggydog played in the yard of the castle for hours as way of reconnecting.
When they reached the Eyrie, Sansa was ecstatic at getting to see her youngest brother again. Arya was quite sure Sansa had placed a kiss on every inch of Rickon's face within seconds of seeing him. Afterward, her older sister embraced Jon with a love she never showed the man in his youth, though Arya knew Jon would never have the heart to hold it against her. To say the least, news of Jon's true parentage shocked Sansa. Her apologies for her childhood treatment of her cousin only doubled after that but he merely smiled and told her to think nothing of it.
From there they traveled into the Riverlands where Daenerys ejected Emmon Frey from Riverrun without a fight before making their way into the Westerlands.
At Casterly Rock, they were met by Daven Lannister. The burly knight bent the knee, surrendering the Rock and recognizing Tyrion's right to rule over the West. Not that he really had much of a choice in the matter with no men to speak of and three dragons on his doorstep. From the west they brought with them Edmure.
Her uncle had a tension filled reunion with his wife, but the second he saw his daughter the man lit up. Arya had no doubt that the pair would work past any of their differences, for the sake of their daughter if nothing else. Arya did what she could to help the situation along by telling her Uncle Edmure his wife's reaction to Walder Frey's death.
It was in the Westerlands that many of the men from the Reach and Dorne returned home.
As they approached King's Landing, all that remained of the army was the former slaves, Unsullied, and the Golden Company. All total it was only around 35,000 men. The dragons flew overhead, their shadows on rare occasion blocking out the sun which made itself known nearly every day in the last week of their journey. The snows along the road melted and little of it remained this far south. I have no doubt that the Citadel will be sending another white raven sometime soon to signal the change in seasons. The royal family was at the front of the army instead of in the sky with their dragons.
Arya and Aerion were just behind, riding alongside Garlan Tyrell, Asha Greyjoy, and Edric Dayne. The latter two of their three companions had become quite close over the previous three months, something that many were quite aware of.
The last remaining child of Balon Greyjoy responded to a question from Garlan, "I imagine little shall be granted to the people of the Iron Islands considering none save me, and those I commanded when captured, fought in the battle against the Others." Asha proceeded to shrug nonchalantly, "Honestly I hope the Queen gives us little, between raiding the west unsuccessfully and your conquest there," She looked to Arya, Aerion, and Garlan, "the Ironborn are too few to consider leaving the isles."
"Unless of course they were to entirely abandon them," Garlan responded, "They aren't exactly the most fertile lands."
"No they're not," Asha responded curtly, "but they are our lands and none will abandon them. With many of the reavers gone, more than enough food could be acquired either through fishing or farming to provide for those who remain." Asha tilted her head in thought, "I imagine my Uncle Victarion will also take up my Grandfather Quellon's approach to things as well."
Edric actually looked hopeful, "You think he will try and make marriage arrangements with the other Noble Houses to create stronger bonds with the mainland."
Asha laughed, "Yes that is exactly what I mean," she gave her younger lover a lascivious grin, "Not that you need worry, my uncle holds no sway over me, and if you haven't noticed from my nightly visits I am quite happy in your bed." Everyone laughed as Edric blushed red as a cherry. Asha took great joy in teasing him, if for no other reason than he seemed entirely unaccustomed to such treatment.
Garlan righted himself first, a crease forming in his brow as he seemed to contemplate something, "I must say I can't even begin to guess at how things shall be apportioned. The Queen's soldiers from the Bay shall return home as far as I am to understand it. Very few of the Golden Company remain and of those who do maybe five of them are suited to taking up a title."
Arya spoke up then, "Which leaves the families of Westeros. We have the Dornish being the group that fought the longest with the Queen but held back a good portion of their soldiers because of what happened with Quentyn Martell. Then we have the Reach, initially enemies but providing the largest number of fighters in the end. You and Loras most important of all," Arya gave Garlan a brief smile.
"Then there is the Westerlands, who suffered the most loss of nobility in this war and had only a small number actually fight on our side. The Riverlands were much the same, save those few who were still loyal to my mother's family. Then the Stormlanders who followed Stannis; many of those who took up the Lord of Light as their God are still angry with the Queen for her peace negotiation with the Others. And finally the Northerners who have suffered the most thanks to the attempted invasion by the Others and the winter they brought with them." Everyone was looking at her in mild awe. Arya rarely spoke up when discussing politics, having little interest in them. Of course that doesn't mean I don't know what is going on.
Aerion laughed beside her, "I would say that about sums everything up nicely." He released a hand from the reigns of his horse and gave her own a quick squeeze.
"Hmmm," began Garlan with a mischievous look in his eye, "that covers nearly everything," he gave them a big smile, one that had likely done him quite a bit of good with his wife, "except you two of course. I sincerely doubt anything less than one of the Kingdoms' now vacant castles will be enough repayment for your loyal services, in the Queen's mind at least."
Arya smiled, "You are probably right, and we discussed that very possibility… what seems like years ago now." She went off into her own little world for a moment.
Aerion continued for her, "We will accept whatever Daenerys decides happily. We expect nothing, but know she will do something to show her gratitude."
An hour after midday, they made their way through the King's Gate into the city. Tyrion was awaiting them there along with a lovely woman Arya had only seen when last she was in the capital but knew to be one of Oberyn Martell's daughters, young Missandei, and a man who from description she could only assume was Tyrion's friend, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Though, according to Tyrion he is a former sell-sword who knows when to take an opportunity.
"Your Grace," Tyrion said with a bow, "welcome back. We were glad to hear of your success in the North."
Daenerys, Jon and Aegon all dismounted, "Lord Tyrion, how good to see you. How have things been in the city since my departure?"
"Excellent, with the help of my associates here," He indicated the people at his sides, "the task you set for me before departing has been accomplished."
This was the first Arya was hearing of any such task. Not surprising really, I'm not her only confidant and it isn't as though there was much I could have done thousands of miles from here to help. Tyrion continued as they started making their way toward the Red Keep. Thousands of small folk looked out at the retinue as it passed. A cheer went up throughout the city. Clearly they have been informed what happened in the North.
Arya and Aerion were fortunate enough to be close to the Queen so they could hear the conversation between the royal family and the Lord of Casterly Rock, "Jon Snow, how good to see you again."
Jon smiled at the half-man and extended his hand which was taken in a smaller one, "Jon Targaryen, Lord Tyrion, I am afraid that advice you gave me so long ago was based in… incorrect information; though, I can't really blame you, there was no book from which you would have heard the truth." Jon smirked.
Tyrion looked completely gob-smacked, "Well then… I don't really know what to say."
Daenerys chuckled, "Then perhaps telling me exactly what you've managed to accomplish here would be a good place to start."
"Yes," Tyrion said still looking at Jon, "yes, I think that would be best." He straightened up, "With the help of both Lord Bronn and Lady Nym we have managed to disband the entirety of the Faith's Militant and remove the High Sparrow."
Daenerys was now staring at Tyrion the same way he had been staring at Jon, "That is far more than I hoped for. How did you manage such a thing?"
"Had to kill some of the cunts," Was Bronn's gruff response. Tyrion glared while Daenerys just looked at him inquisitively. Noticing the look, Bronn coughed uncomfortably before continuing, "The most overzealous of the High Sparrow's faithful soldiers attacked the Red Keep after their leader died. They claimed it was foul play by Tyrion."
"Yes," Lady Nym's voice cut in with her Dornish accent, "and Lord Bronn went out with the City Guard, offered them the opportunity to leave peacefully and when they refused, killed them all."
Tyrion nodded, "We had no issues with them after that, as I am sure you can imagine." He said drily, "It is fortunate the Faith Militant movement only really gripped the capital, unlike when Aenys and Maegor were forced to deal with the issue."
"And how exactly was the High Sparrow dealt with?" Aegon asked from his aunt's right.
"Ah well…" Tyrion began but was immediately cut off by the lovely Lady Nym.
"He was poisoned." Arya certainly wasn't surprised, even among the Faceless Men there was respect for Oberyn Martell's knowledge of poisons. Knowledge he gladly passed down to the elder of his daughters.
"We attempted to reason with him on more than one occasion on your behalf but he refused to listen to our arguments. The man could not abide a monarch born of incest. Fortunately, you won over many of the small folk with how you took the city and as news spread of your success in bringing the other kingdoms back together, their love of you only grew." Tyrion informed Daenerys with a sideways glance at Nymeria that screamed he wasn't happy with her.
She ignored it, "So with the small folk caring little for his zealotry, it was only the Faith Militant behind him and even then his numbers waned. In order to put a final end to it, I secreted into his bed chambers in the night." She hummed to herself lightly, "I must say while I might not have liked the man he certainly wasn't a hypocrite." She shook herself, "Anyway I poisoned his water and the next morning he was found dead in his bed chambers."
"How did you get into his chambers unnoticed?" Jon asked curiously.
Missandei spoke up, her quiet voice reaching every ear, "That would be thanks to me, I was able to learn of a secret passage into the Sept of Baelor that the Lady Nym was able to use to great effect.
"Yes," Tyrion interrupted, "and since then a new man has been selected as High Septon, a former commoner much like the last, but this one doesn't have an obsessive desire that every person in the city answer to the seven-pointed star."
"Very good," Daenerys seemed genuinely pleased with the news, though she changed the subject quickly, "Which of the Lord and Ladies arrived ahead of us?"
"Of those not in your retinue," most were with Daenerys, joining as they traveled the country, "Mace Tyrell arrived two months ago with his daughter and my nephew, as did Arianne Martell with her brother Tyrstane and my niece Myrcella; though I assume that is for Prince Aegon's pending nuptials." Aegon surprised Tyrion by smiling at the mention of his wedding; the half-man was uninformed of the changes in the Prince after all.
"Many of the other Dornish Lords arrived along with them, including Lord Yronwood and Lord Uller," Tyrion continued quickly, "Victarion Greyjoy arrived a month ago as the only representative from the Iron Islands. Lord Manderly arrived from White Harbor last week, he needed people to lift him from the boat he has grown so fat." Nym couldn't help the snort that escaped her from the memory, "In truth those are the only nobles of note not in your company already." Tyrion chuckled, "You did enlist every Kingdom's help in your war against the Others, very few aren't with you now." He leaned in closer to Daenerys and whispered though Arya could still hear, "And your personal guests arrived as well just last week."
Daenerys smiled beatifically and nodded, "I was aware most were already with what remains of this army Tyrion, thank you. You have done tremendous work in my absence as usual."
"I am your Hand; I wouldn't fathom doing anything less." Tyrion responded earnestly.
The Red Keep quickly became a bustle of people as the various Lords and Ladies were assigned quarters. Aerion and Arya quickly took up residence in the same room they used when last in King's Landing. We made some happy memories here.
They couldn't have been there any longer than twenty minutes, only having just finished removing their armor, when there was a series of rapid fire knocks on their door. Aerion looked to her questioningly before going to the door and opening it slowly.
When it was open about halfway, Aerion was pushed back as a dark haired ball of energy pushed into the room. "Nela!" Arya yelled happily. The little girl rocketed over to her and started babbling as she hugged Arya's legs. So that would be what Tyrion was telling Daenerys about, I am going to have to thank her next I see her. Arya and Aerion had of course told everyone back in Essos of their victory but hadn't expected this. Rhea, Marik, Eroeh, Daessa and Ashlyn filed into the room behind Nela, though Ashlyn did it with the same lack of decorum as the other girl.
Rhea allowed her usually regal demeanor to dissolve as she embraced her son with a ferocity rivaling that of a dragon. Arya couldn't help the morose thoughts that welled up in her, as she thought of her own parents. They were quickly wiped away though when Rhea and Nela switched places. Rhea gave her a hug she didn't really expect and leaned in whispering, "Thank you, thank you so much for taking care of him."
Arya pulled away, trying to hide the wetness in her eyes, "He took just as much care of me." Rhea smiled and hugged her one more time. Everyone made themselves comfortable in the room, with Nela sitting on Arya's lap and Ashlyn on Aerion's. Before either of them could ask the question on their minds Marik cut them off.
"The Queen invited us to the coming nuptials of her nephew to the Princess of Dorne, and her own upcoming nuptials to your cousin Jon." She indicated Arya. This was news to Arya, as neither Jon nor Daenerys had given any indication that they planned to marry so soon.
Rhea continued unaware that the news she just gave them was any sort of revelation, "Rhona would have come as well but she is heavily pregnant." Aerion and Arya both nodded. They were both well aware of Aerion's eldest sister's pregnancy, and the baby obviously came first. "The rest were simply too busy, thanks in no small part to the successes here. Honestly it would have only been me and Marik if Nela and Ashlyn hadn't been so dead set on coming too."
Aerion smiled widely, "Well whatever the reason you are here, I couldn't be happier to see you." They spent the rest of the night talking in more detail about what had happened since Arya and Aerion left Pentos. Some things just can't be said in a letter. The pair had everyone properly enthralled when they spoke of their defense at Winterfell, the story caused the two young girls a small amount of fright but they simply burrowed into Nymeria's fur. The direwolf allowed them to pet her softly. They both giggled uncontrollably when she licked their faces, breaking their fearful moods.
They followed up the desperate battle at Winterfell with the journey into the Far North. Their friends and family found it hard to believe at first but as they continued on they simply stared in wide eyed fascination that such a place existed. They talked through dinner and took their meal there before their guests left for their own quarters late in the night.
"I must thank the Queen for sending for them." Aerion said as he divested himself of his shirt and climbed into their bed.
Arya smirked, "Oh we will certainly thank the Queen… right after I hit Jon very, very hard for not informing me of their plans to marry." Aerion chuckled weakly as she sat in bed next to him.
"I suppose we ought to be upset with them for that, but I imagine they have told no one as of yet otherwise everyone we traveled with would have known." Aerion said thoughtfully.
Arya nodded, "I suppose you're right, but that doesn't change the fact that Jon is going to get an exceedingly hard time from me. I should have heard it from him long before anyone else." Aerion agreed, knowing full well that Arya just wanted the excuse to torment Jon a little bit.
They laid together silently for a while, not talking. Arya rested her head directly over Aerion's heart and smiled to herself softly as she felt it beat evenly against her ear. A small smirk crossed her lips as she reached her hand lower and into the trouser Aerion wore to bed.
She wrapped her hand around his flaccid manhood and smiled triumphantly when she felt his heart rate pick up from her ministrations. Slowly she stroked him, eliciting small groans of pleasure, until his turgid member rested in her hand.
Arya yelped in surprise when she felt his fingers push down the back of her trousers and into her small clothes. He gave her covered ass a firm squeeze, pulling a groan of pleasure from her. It turned into a moan as she felt his nimble fingers approach her flower from behind and lightly probe at her opening. She could already feel a wetness at her center from her own actions but his caused her to heat up considerably.
She started pumping faster as he dipped his middle finger into her core at a deliciously slow speed that had her gasp in a quick breath. He pulled out just as slowly, completely unsheathing the digit before bringing it up and circling her clit. Arya couldn't help but buck her hips up to force more pressure against her sensitive little bud. He repeated this process over and over again, pushing her passions ever higher. It was having such an effect on her that Arya could actually feel her juices leaking out onto her thighs.
Their breathing became labored as the minutes passed by, neither of them allowing the other a moment's respite. Aerion's own arousal was obvious as clear pre-cum leaked from the tip of his cock as she twisted her hand up and down his shaft. As he slickened, her hand continued to move faster and faster until his breath was coming out in heavy pants. She knew she was bringing him exceedingly close to his peak, riding that edge right along with him as his fingers continued to move languorously along her lower lips.
Suddenly, he grasped her wrist and pushed it away. She looked at him quizzically even as he continued to focus on her. He pushed her lightly from laying atop his chest so that she was on her back on the bed. Aerion quickly divested them of their remaining clothing, his turgid cock springing up and her pussy glistening with arousal in the candlelight.
Arya couldn't help the shiver that went up her spine as he crawled up the bed and laid himself between her spread legs. He kissed at her inner thigh reverently before moving his way up to her aroused sex. He gave only a one gentle kiss, right to her clit, that caused her to shake slightly before moving up to her hips. He licked at her navel as he moved ever higher before finally reaching her left breast. She moaned as he began lavishing her nipple with delicious attention as he brought his right hand up to explore her depths again.
He steadily sawed two fingers in out of her dripping hole as he switched between each of her sensitive nipples, never allowing one to suffer any less attention than the other. Her hands involuntarily came to rest in his dark hair, lovingly massaging at his scalp as he did everything he could to bring her pleasure. She gave an audible gasp as Aerion curled his fingers inside of her and began rubbing at the tiny bundle of nerves along the top of her tight passage.
A flush began developing all across her chest as she felt her peak approaching. Aerion clearly noticed too as he ran the hand he didn't have currently tortuously pleasuring her body, down along her ribcage until it was resting on her hips. Then suddenly he brought it to her center and applied pressure just above her mound while using his fingers to manipulate her clit. The stimulation proved too much as she called out his name, no doubt loud enough for those nearest them to hear her completion.
She expected him to stop and allow her to do what she could to reciprocate but he continued his ministrations, driving her from one peak to another until words failed her and her mouth was opened in a silent exaltation of her extreme pleasure. He drove her through two more orgasms, during which she thoroughly drenched the bed upon which they made love, before finally she pushed his fingers from her body as she continued to twitch uncontrollably in her joyous rapture.
As Arya worked herself back to some semblance of consciousness, Aerion held himself above her kissing at her neck and cheeks and brow until finally he locked onto her lips. She pounced then, driving her tongue into his mouth and bringing one of her hands up to his neck to keep him there. She gripped his manhood in her slender fingers giving it a few swift tugs before aligning it with her now absolutely flooded sex.
She pulled back to look into his eyes, "Please Aerion, I need you."
He leaned down to kiss her again, as he pushed into her body. She would never be able to describe just how right she felt in these intimate moments. His length stretched her tunnel as it slowly made its way deeper into her body. She found the feeling absolutely exquisite every time. They never broke their kiss, both moaning into it as he bottomed out inside of her.
Arya moaned again as he began a steady rhythm, gliding in and out of her body as she drew nearer to another peak. She brought one of her hands up to her bouncing bosom to tweak her own nipple and the other to brace on Aerion's flexing bicep. His hands dug deeply into the soft but firm flesh of her hips.
"Hunh," Arya struggled to speak through her moans of pleasure, "faster… love. Please… faster."
Aerion began hammering his turgid length in an out of her body as requested, causing a yelp of pleasure to pull from Arya's throat with each inward thrust. He pushed her through another orgasm, the walls of her flower gripping at his shaft trying incessantly to draw his seed from his body. The increased pressure forced him to slow but he refused to stop.
Arya didn't have the strength to push him off and change their position so she decided to just continue reveling in their pleasure. Many minutes later, she could feel him nearing his completion, and knew she was right there with him. He released the grip he had on her hip with his right hand and brought it to her clit yet again forcing her to buck her hips up into his powerful thrusts. She could tell he was preparing to pull out. No more of that.
Arya brought her ankles up and locked them just above his flexing buttocks. At the same time she pulled his head down next to her own and whispered in his ear, "Inside of me Aerion." He pulled back to look in her eyes. The love they felt as they gazed at one another was palpable and that is when his resolve finally broke. With a final thrust, Aerion pushed his hips forward as Arya used her legs to draw him in just that extra little bit as he flooded her with his seed.
The feeling of his warmth bathing her insides caused her to peak in turn. They both shook uncontrollably as they worked through their orgasm. They rested together, Aerion still holding himself up to keep from crushing Arya, for a long moment, before he finally rolled to the side to lie beside her. Arya could feel the product of their vigorous activities leak from her thoroughly ravaged body. Arya crawled down his body to clean his withered manhood of their fluids. He moaned and his shaft was beginning to harden once again as she finished.
After he calmed once again, Aerion stood, and as was his custom grabbed a cloth and cleaned her of the essence leaking from her body. They kissed lovingly as Arya once again leaned her head against his chest to hear his even heartbeat.
Aerion's chest rumbled slightly as he spoke softly, "Arya," she pulled away slightly to look him in the eye.
"Will you marry me?" There was no uncertainty in his voice. Just a clear confidence that Arya was the person he wanted most in the world.
Arya didn't even hesitate. How could that even be a question after everything? She leaned up to kiss him softly before pulling back. A radiant smile, the one reserved only for him, lit up her face, "Yes Aerion." They made slow passionate love one more time that night before falling asleep.
Arya and Aerion awoke early the next morning and quickly prepared themselves for the day's event; Daenerys' coronation in front of all the Noble Lords and Ladies. It was the first time in their time together that Arya had to wear a dress, and Aerion found the way it annoyed her to no end quite funny. Of course, she hid her wolf's head dagger in a sheath upon her thigh.
"You look beautiful love, and you know I could care less what your wear." Aerion soothed.
Arya looked down at her deep blue dress, something Sansa made for her, before laughing, "I know Aerion. Truthfully, I don't so much mind the dresses anymore. I wore more than one as an assassin. I just don't like having to wear one where there is potential danger." She smirked, "And as for you not caring what I wear, let's be honest you would be happy if I was wearing nothing."
Aerion stood on the other side of the room wearing a purple and black doublet and simple black trousers. In Arya's opinion he looked nearly as uncomfortable as her. Still Aerion smiled lasciviously at her, "I have no problem admitting that, but that might draw a bit too much attention… and I might do something we would both regret."
"Probably true," Arya rubbed her chin, "It would be quite fun to see certain people's faces though." They both laughed at that as they made their way toward the Great Hall where hundreds were already in waiting. Hmm apparently we took a while longer getting ready than I thought. They quickly found Aerion's family, sitting just next to Sansa and Rickon, all of whom were talking pleasantly.
Rhea was laughing at something Sansa told her, "I could easily imagine your sister hiding in the dog kennel in hopes of getting away from lessons."
Arya snorted drawing their attention, "It wasn't the lessons I was trying to avoid, well except those on sewing… it was just Septa Mordane I wanted to avoid."
Sansa scoffed, "Septa Mordane was a lovely woman," Arya gave her a look, "most of the time anyway." She finished with slightly less confidence. Arya let it go though, knowing the Septa was killed when their father had been taken captive by Cersei Lannister.
Within the next half-hour the entire room was filled. It went silent when Tyrion, Jon, Aegon and the new High Septon took their places atop the raised dais leading to the Iron Throne. Jon wore a black shirt and grey trousers. His face was cleanly shaven for the first time and Arya had to admit he looked every bit a member of royalty. Aegon wore the red and black of House Targaryen though it was tasteful. Arya very much doubted he would have managed such a thing before realizing just how much he could learn from his aunt.
The doors opened to reveal Daenerys looking every bit as beautiful as men the world over believed. She wore a purple dress that hugged the curves of her lithe body, while maintaining her propriety, which just barely touched the ground. She had a silver chain around her neck with a diamond pendant. Every eye followed her as she walked confidently toward the thrown.
She stopped before the steps leading up to the thrown where both Tyrion and the High Septon approached. The High Septon spoke, his voice strong if slightly raspy, "Do you Daenerys Targaryen swear to uphold the laws of the Seven Kingdoms, protect its people, and safeguard the realm from this day until your dying day?"
"I so swear." Daenerys' voice rang out through the silence.
"Kneel." Daenerys did so as Tyrion was handed her crown, a beautiful band of gold adorned with the depictions of her three dragons. He placed it upon her head and they shared a smile as she stood and took steady steps as she ascended the throne. As she sat, she did not cut herself on its jagged surface. And I sincerely doubt she ever will.
"All Hail Daenerys Targaryen, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of the Bay and Mother of Dragons." The High Septon called out. A deafening cheer rang through the Great Hall as every Lord and Lady tried to make it abundantly clear they were happy about the new Queen's reign.
What followed was a two hour stretch of the Seven Kingdoms' elite swearing fealty to Daenerys Targaryen. The most important were obviously the Great Houses: Stark, Tully, Lannister, Baratheon, Tyrell, Martell, and Greyjoy. While they had done it in the past, it was important that their bannerman and the other important houses saw it happen. The other houses present simply swore their fealty as an attempt to win favor, some going so far as offering gifts. Daenerys accepted all with a plastered on smile. She really is quite good at making that look real, even if any mediocre assassin can tell it's not.
That night there was a large feast. It was here that the many now Extinct Houses were discussed as well as what was to be done with the various vacant castles.
Of course Daenerys sat at the head of the largest table, her nephews at her sides. About an hour in she stood quieting everyone present as she spoke, "This Kingdom has been ravaged by war in recent years, and there has been no small number of losses. Houses have died out, and great castles desolate even now."
She paused, "I officially declare that Harrrenhal shall remain a ruin from this day onward. It has been nothing but a curse upon whichever House happened to hold it. Lordship of the Riverlands shall return to the Tully's as shall control of Riverrun." Edmure raised his glass in thanks, which Daenerys recognized, as many of the Riverlords cheered.
"In the matter of Houses which are now extinct in the male line, I have reached a simple decision. The remaining women in those Houses shall take up their Lordship." There were some murmurs, though none of them were of the darker persuasion. It's kind of hard to argue with a woman who won her crown, particularly when there are three large dragons outside who would gladly give a demonstration of why she is Queen.
"Those castles which have no living heir to take up the lordship shall be assigned a new one by the Lord Paramount of that region." Daenerys eyes hardened, "though I would warn that nepotism will not be tolerated and should the proceedings be anything less than cordial I will take matters into my own hands." Really that only affected the Reach and the Westerlands. The only House that went extinct between the other Kingdoms was the Boltons.
"There is one House whose succession I have decided to assign personally." Daenerys' eyes found Arya's in the throng of people and she immediately knew what was coming. "The Dreadfort was attacked by the Others but I have been informed it was not wholly destroyed. The House most affected by the atrocity of the Bolton's is House Stark, as such I have decided control of the Dreadfort and its lands shall pass to Arya Stark, and her descendants." It did not pass anyone's notice that this one act gave the Stark's even greater control of the North, not that they needed it. But when one considered Starks would also likely marry into two of the other Great Houses it was obvious that despite their woes they were still a family to be respected.
"With regards to my position as Queen of the Bay, my army from Essos shall return there along with the Golden Company." Harry Strickland was actually smiling so whatever was decided clearly sat well with what remained of the sell-swords, "Harry Strickland, along with Daario Naharis, and Grey Worm of the Unsullied, will take up positions as my governors in the three major cities of the Bay, reporting to me regularly." With that Daenerys sat and conversation began once again.
Arya leaned into Aerion, "Thank the gods we don't have to sit through another council and talk endlessly about what is going to be done about those extinct houses."
Aerion smirked and brushed his lips against her cheek before whispering in her ear, "I completely agree, my Lady of the Dreadfort." Arya chuckled happily and smacked at his arm lightly before returning her attention to Nela who sat at her side. As the dinner went on, Arya couldn't help but catch little snippets of conversation around them.
"Yes we have decided to marry, I like him well enough after all." She heard Asha Greyjoy proclaim from another table. Edric could be heard affirming that same thing nearby.
"House Thenn shall be replacing House Karstark now, my father made a mistake but even he wouldn't have condoned what Cregan tried to do." Alys Thenn explained to Wyman Manderly who took up twice as much space as anyone else in the area.
"Should I never have issue I may very well name my nephew's children my heirs." Tyrion explained to Lord Tyrell, who still seemed to be grasping at power if he could, "I certainly don't hold Tommen responsible for Cersei's offenses against me." Mace seemed pleased with this information and left Tyrion to continue his meal in peace.
Arya decided at that point she may as well tell her family and Aerion's the good news as well, "We've decided to wed." Arya stated bluntly during a brief lull in the conversation. No one at the table looked surprised, though Nela and Ashlyn both looked positively ecstatic at the news.
Marik grasped Rhea's hand, as Aerion's mother had a distinct wetness in her eyes, before speaking, "We had no doubt we would be hearing such news by the time we left here. I suppose we will just be delayed a while longer now before departing."
Daessa smiled at them, "We truly are happy for you. Do you have any plans for the wedding?"
Arya could see a frightening gleam in both Daessa and Sansa's eyes so decided to nip that in the bud before it could go anywhere, "We will do a small ceremony, in the Godswood here, with only those most important to us in attendance. We certainly don't need a spectacle like Arianne and Aegon. I imagine Jon and Daenerys aren't looking forward to the pomp and circumstance of their own."
"You are absolutely right, but we can't avoid it. But speaking of the upcoming event," Daenerys said form just behind Arya, "Jon and I would like to apologize for not telling you sooner. Things have been hectic to say the least, we will inform everyone once Aegon is wed."
"What will the Prince be doing once he is wed?" Rhea asked evenly.
"He may be Lord of Dragonstone but he has every intention of remaining in the capital." Jon said from just beside Daenerys, hand in hand, "He will be the new Master of Laws, so leaving isn't particularly practical anyway."
"Besides, I think he will spend most of his time in Dorne if not here. Save Jon and I, the rest of his family is from that area anyway." Daenerys commented.
"Excuse me," Aegon interjected walking up with his lovely bride to be, "I don't need anyone speaking for me." Jon made a gesture indicating his half-brother ought to speak then. Aegon smiled widely, a genuine smile Arya never saw prior in the early months of knowing him, "You're absolutely right, I have already discussed things with Lord Velaryon and he understands most of my duties will keep me in the capital. He shall serve as my castellan."
Arianne snorted, "Let's be honest Aegon, you may be Prince but you have no interest in the jagged rocks and rainy weather of your family's ancestral home."
Aegon looked sheepishly at Arianne, "That is true enough, but I would still very much like to visit at some point."
"As would I," Daenerys responded with a smile, "it is where I was born, and a Queen must know her Kingdom."
"The last rulers of the Kingdoms with that opinion were Jahaerys I and Good Queen Alysanne. They are certainly the right sort of people to emulate," commented Arianne. Everyone could only add their agreement to the sentiment.
The royal family moved off to speak with others in the room, Loras serving as their shadow, a position once filled by Ser Barristan. It was once they left that Arya and Aerion were approached by Garlan, his wife Leonette, and their young son.
"Leonette," he pushed his wife forward gently,smiling widely, "I would like to introduce you to Aerion and Arya. I spent more time fighting beside these two than any others since Daenerys arrived and I can honestly say I have never met two finer people." As both expected, Garlan's wife was a beautiful, dainty young woman.
She smiled prettily at them both, "It has only been a day since I had my husband back and already I have heard a great deal about you two. It is a pleasure."
"Likewise," Aerion and Arya both stood and greeted her more formerly, "your husband was welcome company and a welcome sword. Please sit with us." They did and their five year old son, Garret, got along perfectly well with Nela and Ashlyn.
They spent the rest of that evening drinking and eating merrily. And Arya couldn't help but feel comfortable. Despite the bloody dress. People came and went greeting them and offering congratulations and condolences where appropriate. They even had a pleasant conversation with both Tommen and Myrcella. The two took the time to visit with Sansa and apologize for her treatment at both their mother and brother's hands. She of course waived them off, seeing it as none of their fault and Myrcella and Sansa quickly found themselves discussing some of the dresses worn by the different ladies. Sansa may be a different woman but some things never change.
When finally Arya and Aerion stumbled into their room late that night, they stripped down before falling asleep almost instantly, the ordeal nearly as exhausting as battle.
The next two months flew by in a string of weddings the first of which being Arianne and Aegon's a week after the coronation. Arya had been particularly surprised when Aegon pulled her aside that day to speak with her.
"I would like to thank you." The Prince began earnestly. Arya could easily see the man was still prideful but he no longer had a misplaced sense of superiority.
Arya simply raised an eyebrow in surprise, "What could you possibly have to thank me for?"
"Well not killing me of course," He said with a chuckle. They were standing by the staircase that led down into the dungeon and the dragon skulls of the Targaryen Dynasty. "When I approached you down there when first we were in the capital, you easily could have killed me, and probably should have when you consider the way I approached you. I imagine you would have been able to dispose of me in such a way that no one ever would have been any the wiser."
Arya gave a slightly terrifying smile, which made perfectly clear just how correct his assumptions were before chuckling, causing Aegon to laugh nervously along with her. She had yet to get ready for the midday wedding so was well armed as was her custom. She reached behind her, unclasped the cord holding Blackfyre to her back and swung it around. She presented it to Aegon with a small smile, "I believe this belongs to you. Something tells me Daenerys would no longer be quite so reluctant to give you the blade."
He stared at the blade as he took it in his hands reverently, "Thank you Arya, truly." They parted ways after that and the wedding was quite the joyous affair.
As planned Jon and Daenerys announced their own intention to marry at Aegon's wedding, there were mixed reaction though most accepted it outright. After Aegon and Arianne's wedding came that of Edric Dayne and Asha Greyjoy. Theirs was supposed to be a much smaller affair, but none of the Noble Lords and Ladies left the capital after learning of Daenerys and Jon's wedding.
Next came Sansa and Harry Hardyng's wedding. Arya had been ecstatic for her sister, as Sansa had clearly come to care for both the Vale and its young lord. It wasn't the sort of whirlwind love Sansa had dreamed of as a younger girl but that fantasy had been broken by Joffrey a longtime ago. No now it is a mature love, a love born of shared experiences and shared pains. Arya could only imagine how proud their mother would have been that day, as Sansa looked the absolute picture of beauty.
Today though, would be the royal wedding. Arya was in the room with Daenerys, neither woman stressing over anything as they talked idly, "I imagine the city will empty considerably once today's events have finished," Arya commented as Daenerys pulled her ornate, red and black dress over her shoulders, covering up the bustier and small clothes underneath. The dress was light silk, clinging tightly to her body, much like her coronation dress, though showing slightly more of her cleavage.
"You're absolutely right, and I imagine you are quite happy about that." Daenerys smiled in the mirror at Arya where she sat behind her.
"You're absolutely right. I was never like Sansa, I never wanted a large wedding." She made a very unladylike noise in the back of her throat, "Gods, I never even thought I would marry to be honest."
"Really I never would have guessed," Daenerys commented sarcastically, though Arya continued as though she didn't hear the Queen which only made her chuckle.
"Aerion and I are husband and wife in all the ways that really matter. We are only going to go about the less than formal practice of the Northerners because I feel it is the right thing to do, and he can't find it in him to deny me something like that."
Daenerys sighed, "Jon and I feel much the same way. If it weren't for the fact that everyone must know who I wed, we would simply slip into the godswood to appease his gods and a sept to appease the people and let it lie."
Arya smirked, "Well, at least we can fulfill part of that desire." It was early in the morning, well before anyone else would be awake. Arya and Daenerys traveled together down to the godswood where they were met by Aerion and Jon. Nymeria and Ghost stood together nearby. Not even Aegon was here, though he had been informed of the proceedings should he have desired to attend. They had done much the same for Sansa and Rickon, but Sansa didn't want to risk her exuberant husband allowing others to know and Rickon was still at that age where he wanted to sleep before anything else.
Arya and Aerion stood witness for the royal pair as they kneeled before the heart tree, said a few quiet words, and then stood and said a simple vow. As they stood there, Arya couldn't help but notice the wind pick up ever so slightly and rustle the leaves of the trees in the wood.
When the pair finished the quiet ceremony they turned to Aerion and Arya, "Thank you for doing this with us. We much prefer this over what will be happening in a couple of hours." Jon said sincerely.
Aerion waved him off, "No need to thank us. We understand better than most."
As the four walked back to the Red Keep they fell into an easy conversation, "So what is the plan for Rickon?"
Jon frowned, slightly displeased, "Lord Stannis would like him to foster at Storm's End until he comes of age, but that isn't really an option considering he is already Lord of Winterfell." He rubbed his temples, "After a rather lengthy conversation with Stannis, it was decided that Rickon and Shireen shall live at Winterfell once it is restored with you, Aerion, and Lord Reed there to ensure his well-being and that of Winterfell. It helps that Shireen is five years his senior and well versed in what it means to rule as she is her father's only heir."
Daenerys cut in then, "The restoration of Winterfell is already underway, I commissioned it myself." Arya smiled happily something the Queen noticed, "I imagine you shall stay there while you await the Dreadfort's restoration."
Arya smiled, "I imagine you are right Dany." She shook her slightly, "The Dreadfort will be getting a new name once Aerion and I take up residence there."
Jon nodded with a grim satisfaction, "Good, one more thing removed that could remind the world of the Boltons."
Arya agreed with her brother but decided to turn the subject away from the morose subject, "Well I am glad to know Rickon will be in the North, he belongs in Winterfell."
Jon smiled, "Agreed."
An hour and a half later, Arya found herself standing beside Aerion inside of the Great Sept of Baelor, surrounded by hundreds of other nobles, wearing yet another dress, waiting for Daenerys to enter so they could get this spectacle over with.
When the doors opened revealing Daenerys, wearing a cloak bearing the sigil of House Targaryen, everyone took in a collective gasp which simply made Arya roll her eyes. She looks no more beautiful now than at her coronation and all of these people were there. She caught Garlan's eye across the aisle and they shared a commiserating look.
When Daenerys reached the top of the stairs to stand beside Jon, he pulled the black and red cloak from her shoulders to replace it with one sown by Sansa. It was what would become recognized as his personal sigil, a field of black much like the Targaryen sigil, but with a whit dragon and white wolf bowing to one another.
The High Septon droned on about the bonds of matrimony, until finally Dany and Jon linked hands and invoked the Father, Mother, Maiden, Warrior, Crone, Smith, and Stranger and the ceremony was over. Jon and Dany left the Sept to cries of excitement and even a brief chant of "Fire and Blood".
The wedding reception was beautiful though not quite the extravagant affair held when Joffrey and Margaery married. Instead of seventy-seven dishes, there were to be six of them. Daenerys was well aware of the financial situation for the Kingdoms and had no intention of exacerbating things. She had already settled the debt with Casterly Rock through Tyrion and the Iron Bank was surprisingly less irritable with a proven monarch with three fire-breathing behemoths on her side.
As Jon's relatives, all of the Starks were seated at the high table with Jon and Daenerys, along with Aegon and Arianne. There was music and laughter, and Arya found it hard to believe that only five months prior they were fighting in the North against undead thrall, and creatures everyone thought to be monsters but proved to be infinitely more human than expected. It all just seems so normal. Arya couldn't help but thinking as she looked around the courtyard where the celebration was taking place. It is still going to take some getting used to. But then she looked to Aerion and realized she would manage easily enough. I might never be completely normal but neither will he and that is enough. She knew there would be times she missed the excitement, but there was excitement to be had in other parts of life and she knew full well she tired of the near constant death over the years
Arya was pulled from her musings as Sansa spoke beside her, "This is quite lovely isn't it?"
"Yes, it is." She responded pleasantly as she brought a spoonful of the thick soup to her mouth.
"Hard to believe Jon is… well who he is sometimes."
"I suppose, but there was always a certain nobility about him." Sansa nodded sheepishly, clearly still slightly ashamed of her treatment of him in the past, "Sansa stop with the misplaced guilt, you were a child who allowed mother's distaste at his presence to affect your opinion of Jon. He loves you all the same." Sansa smiled wetly and wiped at her eyes.
"Thank you Arya," She turned to her sister more fully, "So I imagine you will wed sometime within the next week."
Surprising her sister, Arya actually beamed at the thought, "Yes, once the city has emptied we plan to have a ceremony in the godswood."
The now oft times silent Loras Tyrell drew closer surreptitiously from where he was standing near Jon and Daenerys to whisper to Arya, "I assume I shall be invited as well?"
Arya chuckled at his antics, "Yes Loras, you and your brother should he choose to remain long enough. Though beyond that it will likely only be our families."
Sansa shook her head slightly as she leaned back, "I never thought to see you wed. Now that you are, it is entirely unsurprising to me that you would want something quiet." She seemed rather disappointed she couldn't plan something for her sister but certainly understood it just wasn't in Arya's personality.
Aerion interjected then from where he was talking with Harry, "She isn't the only one who wants something quiet, and the constant festivities have done nothing to lessen that desire." He laughed softly, "Plus, I certainly wouldn't want some poor fellow to lose his hands when he tries to get to grabby during the bedding ceremony."
Arya looked the picture of innocence when she responded, "You really think it would only be the hands." Every man at the table, Aerion included, cringed at the pain Arya was likely to inflict should something of that nature take place.
"Well there certainly isn't going to a bedding ceremony for me." Daenerys proclaimed loudly enough so everyone could hear before continuing more quietly, "I'm already well aware our marriage has been consummated and this isn't my first marriage. They can live with the mystery of what I look like under my dress." Everyone laughed before Arianne spoke up.
"I'm quite sure most of them will be imagining just that tonight." This only caused the laughter to increase significantly.
Arya walked down from her room in the Red Keep with Jon at her side. She was wearing a simple yet beautiful grey and white dress, which accentuated her curves and showcased her slender neck. She wore a cloak with a direwolf, which looked eerily like Nymeria embroidered into the material. Though this was really just going to be symbolic, Aerion had agreed to take her name, if for no other reason than it would carry weight in his new homeland. She in turn had insisted that should they have more than one son, the second would take his name. Rickon will be able to make sure my father's name continues on, no reason to let Ormthair fall into nothing.
"Did you ever think it would be me walking you to your wedding?" Jon asked quietly.
Arya turned to him, staring squarely into his eyes so that he could see the truth of what she was about to tell him, "Jon I never imagined anybody would be walking me to my wedding… well at least not willingly." They shared a brief chuckle at that, "but if father can't be here for this than there is no one else I could see doing it." They stopped for a moment and shared a warm hug before continuing.
Soon Arya found herself in the godswood, where their friends and families were awaiting her. As she walked by she noticed the wetness in Rhea and Daessa's eyes both of whom had one of Marik's arms around their shoulders. Nela was smiling happily beside both Ashlyn and Garlan's son, Garret. Sansa was hugging herself to Harry, smiling happily as fresh tears made their way down her face. Rickon just smiled at her as he stood beside both Shireen and Osha. Aegon gave her a genuine smile when their eyes met. Loras and Garlan stood together with the latter's wife. Both men gave her a brief wave as she looked at them. It was only after taking everyone else in that she focused on Aerion, standing near the heart tree with Daenerys by his side.
Together Arya and Jon approached and Daenerys spoke, "Who brings this woman to be wed?"
"Jon Targaryen, her cousin by birth and her brother in heart." They smiled at each other before Arya stepped forward to stand beside Aerion.
"Declare yourselves before the Old gods." Daenerys stated before standing aside. This was something Arya had always loved about the religion of the North. It was simple there wasn't the necessity for complicated hymns and long, drawn out speeches because the Northerners could see their gods right in front of them. Aerion removed her cloak and replaced it with his own. It was black, and adorned with a purple snake ready to strike.
They turned to one another as they clasped hands, it was he who spoke first, "I, Aerion Ormthair, who stands before the gods, promise to love and honor Arya of House Stark, from this day until my dying day. I shall know her like I know no other, body, mind, and soul."
Simple word, but simple truths. Arya smiled at him, "I, Arya of House Stark, who stands before the gods, promise to love and honor Aerion Ormthair, from this day until my dying day. I shall know him like I know no other, body, mind and soul."
They leaned forward and kissed one another, she could feel his hands slide down her body and pull her closer. Arya was vaguely aware of the clapping around them but she didn't care. This moment just felt right in a way she couldn't even describe. The rest of the day was a blur of enjoyable festivities as they went to one of the smaller chambers to celebrate.
The reception went well. She spoke with all of those few had been invited to attend. Garlan had extracted a promise from both her and Aerion that they would visit him at Brightwater Keep once everything was settled in the North. Daenerys had given them both a firm hug and thanked them for their loyal service but more importantly their stalwart friendship. Sansa had cried knowing that soon she would be parted from her family again but calmed when Arya reminded her that they were all alive and whole and that she could visit whenever she desired. Rickon and Shireen admitted their relief at knowing Arya and Aerion would be around at Winterfell to help them.
The most memorable moment for Arya was sitting at the table, with Nela on her knees, while Aerion stood in the center of the room, his flute in hand. He played an original composition meant solely for her. It seemed to speak to the heart of who she was from the hardships she suffered in her younger years, to the difficulty of becoming one of the Faceless, and finally the joy of fulfilling her list and being with Aerion. She cried then, for everyone to see and embraced him more fiercely than ever when he took he seat next to her again.
When she recomposed herself, Arya turned to the little girl on her knee and whispered to her, "So, will you be visiting us once we move to the North?"
Nela looked at her as though she were crazy, "Why wouldn't I visit you?"
"Oh I don't know, you have your own life to live in Braavos. Maybe you won't have time for a couple of your older friends." Arya chuckled out.
Nela shook her head with supreme conviction, "I will be visiting whether you like it or not."
Arya leaned in and kissed the little girl's cheek, "Well that will never be a problem because I guarantee you we will like it."
As the private celebration wound down, Rhea approached Arya and embraced her, "Congratulations, good daughter," They both smiled at that, "I am Aerion's mother, I have seen him at his highest highs, and his lowest lows. Know that I have never seen him happier than he was today, with you in his arms and his family around him."
Arya smiled wetly, "Rhea, sometimes I wonder if this happiness is a dream." She looked around where Sansa and Jon were still milling about, Rickon having been ushered to bed sometime before, "I never thought to see my family again and yet here they are." She paused looking to Aerion, "But knowing he is mine, does more for me than anything else."
Rhea glanced down at Arya's stomach briefly before a small smile tugged at her lips, "Congratulations by the way."
Arya blushed slightly but didn't have it in her to deny the insinuation, "Thank you, I shall tell everyone before we leave for the North."
That night as Aerion and Arya lay together after their final bout of lovemaking. They clasped hands upon her stomach just above the area where she knew a tiny bump would begin to form in the coming months. This is home.
AN: So there you have it everybody that is the end of the story. I want to thank everyone who has read this, whether you are one of the people who has been reading it from the beginning, picked it up in the middle or only found it once it was finished. The reviewers for this have never been anything but amazing and I would like to give all of you my gratitude. If you only came to this after it was finished, still feel free to leave a review whether it's just your opinion or if you have some questions as I will still check them.
Thank you for reading.