Winter Vigil

By: El Chacal

Summary: Even in the frost of the coldest winter, an ember of hope burns. Alliser Thorne would see it stamped out but not Jon. The North remembers the Starks. So does the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.

Disclaimer: If I had any control over this world, the Red Wedding would never have happened. Robb would be King In The North, Eddard and Catelyn would have lived to an old age and seen their grandchildren. Sansa would have married Smalljon Umber. Dacey Mormont would be Lady of Bear Island and Lady Commander of Robb's personal guard. All the direwolves would be alive, Bran and Rickon would be Princes of the North. Arya would be Princess of the North. Oh, yeah, the Lannisters would be dead as would the Freys and the Boltons. I'm on the fence though about Tyrion. The only crime involving him was that he was born a Lannister. Jon would either have become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch or been legitimized by Robb as a Stark. Jorah Mormont would be pardoned and sent to join the Night's Watch and Daenerys would rule the South while leaving the entire North to King Robb Stark from the Wall to the Neck. Since I don't have any control over this world, none of that happened. You all know this drill by now. Don't own anything. Am not making one red cent, bronze copper, silver stag or golden dragon off of this.

Having been voted in by his fellow brothers in black as the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow would have been in the right to put Thorne in charge of cleaning every privy in Castle Black with his bare hands but he did not. Instead, Lord Commander Jon Snow appointed Alliser Thorne as First Ranger of Castle Black.

He was a better man than Ser Alliser Thorne gave him credit for and every time Jon proved his worth to the Night's Watch, Thorne refused to acknowledge any of it.

Here he was, a former knight from the South who served the Targaryen dynasty taking orders from a Stark bastard.

In spite of all the criticism and insults he threw at Jon Snow, the Night's Watch chose him, Eddard Stark's bastard, to command them.

One day, after having dealt with the daily chores and petitions for supplies and new recruits along with training the newest lot of prison dregs, Jon Snow and his direwolf Ghost walked towards the tunnels.

Alliser watched from up above as the Lord Commander and his beast walked side by side as though they were kin. It disgusted him that a bastard was shown such respect and acknowledgement from a direwolf, the Free Folk and the Night's Watch.

"I may be old and blind, Alliser Thorne, but I can see you turning green with envy."

A long time ago, Alliser stopped trying to figure out how the old Maester was able to sneak up on people at his age and without his sight.

"That bastard should have died a thousand times over. How he still draws breath bewilders me." Alliser growled.

"The same could be said about you and I." Maester Aemon said. "His family was murdered in cold blood. Their ancestral weapon was destroyed and tarnished. Winterfell was put to the torch. In the midst of all this, not once did he abandon the Night's Watch."

"And what of the Wildling woman he laid down with?"

"Did he take her as his wife?" Maester Aemon asked. Alliser's angry silence was all the answer the older man needed to hear. "Exactly. He could have easily put you at a rank lower than the stable boys and yet he recognized your skill as a ranger." Maester Aemon listened carefully as he heard the gates open on the north side of the Wall.

It was a league between the Wall and the Haunted Forest. In that time, Ghost ran out into the woods and hunted.

Being a direwolf, he had to keep his skills, senses and physical fitness up to par.

Ghost knew that they would come in handy when he went out beyond the Wall and Castle Black with his master as well as whenever a fight ensued and they needed backup.

When he had caught several rabbits and ate his fill, Ghost returned to the grove where his master went to pray.

Ghost watched as his master drew the Valyrian bastard sword that once was held by the Old Bear and prayed for the North, the Night's Watch, House Stark and House Mormont.

Ghost ducked his face into the snow so he could clean himself of the blood on his face before entering the grove. Like his master, Ghost held reverence to the Old Gods and did not want to defile sacred ground.

Ghost sat on his rump and bowed his head in solemn reverence.

As his master prayed for his father and siblings, Ghost prayed for his litter mates and their long dead mother whose last act was getting them south of the Wall before meeting her end.

Ghost prayed for Grey Wind, Lady, Nymeria, Summer and Shaggydog.

Ghost let out a whimper that seemed to be in sync with the sigh from his master, who then hugged him close to his side. The albino direwolf nudged his master's side as a sign of empathy.

They were both orphans out on the edge of the world.

While Ghost had departed to go hunting, Jon walked into the grove where he said his vows to the Night's Watch long ago. In a place where few ever dared to venture, Jon drew Longclaw with the blade down and the white wolf pommel facing him and cast his eyes upon the red eyes that matched those of the faces carved into the weirwood trees.

The Old Gods were watching him.

Jon thought of Winterfell, the place he called home. As he did this, his thoughts drifted to Lord Eddard Stark, the man he called 'Father' as far back as he could remember. The Quiet Wolf was what folks called him in comparison to his elder brother, Brandon Stark.

As he thought of this, Jon thought of his brother, Robb Stark, who the Northerners and Southerners called The Young Wolf. He would have been a great King of Winter if he only focused on getting Arya and Sansa from the capital first before declaring war on the Lannisters. It may have saved his life and those of his bannermen.

His thoughts turned grim when he thought of Bran and Rickon being burned to death by Theon Greyjoy.

Arya and Sansa were opposite sides of their mother, Lady Catelyn. Sansa did not show him the love Arya did. Sansa, like her lady mother, made sure that he never forgot what he was in those few times she ever spoke with him.

Arya spent more time with him and accepted him. When it came to remind him of what he was, Arya just reminded Jon that he was her brother. For that, the youngest Stark girl would always have a place in his heart.

Then he thought of the Mormonts, one of the most honorable, loyal and ferocious vassels to House Stark. Lyanna Mormont, the youngest of the She-Bears, bore the same courage and resolve her late uncle, Jeor Mormont, wore like a medal of honor as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Stannis tried bending Bear Island to his service and Lyanna responded in a way that stirred up a sense of Northern pride in Jon.

Bear Island only knows one king: The King In The North whose name is STARK.

With that declaration echoing deep in his mind, Jon looked into the red eyes of the weirwoods and spoke silently from his heart; The North Remembers and so do I. If there is a way for the wolves to come home, heal the North and bring the Boltons to justice, let it be so. The Starks have ruled the North for thousands of years and it prospered under the direwolf's care. If the Boltons continued to rule from Winterfell, the North would suffer and bleed.

He let out a sigh, which happened in chorus with the whimper coming from Ghost, who had sat beside him with his head bowed. Even he prayed for his family.

Jon wrapped his arm around the only true friend and family he had in the world and drew him close. "We're all we have left in this world, Ghost. Whatever happens, we stick together."

After sheathing Longclaw, Jon Snow returned to Castle Black with Ghost at his side.

No matter how he felt about his family, living or dead, Castle Black was his home now.

The Night's Watch was his family now.

All he could do was pray, remember and guard the realm because winter, the true winter, is still coming.

A/n: This is it. My first attempt at a GOT fan fiction story. First off, I'm a full on fan of House Stark and the North. I have no love for the Southern part of Westeros. Before anyone says it, I am aware that Catelyn Stark was a Tully of the Riverlands before marrying Eddard Stark. So I may have some tolerance for the Riverlands on that merit alone. I know what is to come and it's not anything good for the Starks. I asked someone if the Starks would rise again and reclaim the North. Upon hearing the answer, I chose to not waste my energy in reading a book that goes against the ideal I grew up with that good prevails over evil. The North Remembers!