Chapter 26 – Jon
As Jon made his way to the Great Hall to breakfast the next morning, he was again greeted by Sansa.
"Daenerys and Arya are sparring in the yard again," she informed him, but unlike before, she did not wear an expression of terror.
"You're a lot calmer about it," he remarked as the two of them made their way outside.
Sansa smiled. "I know they don't mean each other any harm." Jon smiled back at her.
Unlike the time before, there was no awed or horrified crowd around the pair, just a couple of Dothraki who were watching the spar with expressions of intrigue, and Brienne and Podrick in one corner, who both seemed surprised.
Jon continued to watch the spar; Arya fluent and quick, Daenerys still slower but vastly improving. After a few minutes, the latter aimed a clumsy blow at Arya. It shouldn't have worked, but either by accident or to let her win, Arya was disarmed of her sword. Instead of being a sore loser, his sister grinned from ear to ear and cheered as she picked up Needle.
"Well done," she said enthusiastically.
"You let me win!" Daenerys said accusingly.
"I didn't." Arya said. "I promised I never would. You genuinely beat me."
Daenerys still looked disbelieving as Jon and Sansa approached them.
"That was amazing," Sansa said softly.
Arya grinned at her sister. "Does that mean you're going to let me teach you to fight, now?"
"Absolutely not," Sansa replied. "Me and my skills will remain here, there's no use in wasting the precious time."
"Even still," Arya said, as though remembering something, "Gendry wants to see you. I think he's going to make you a set of armour as well, in case of emergency."
"Perhaps it is a good idea," Jon interjected, sensing the cogs whirring in his sister's head. "It'll protect you in case we can't. Plus, it'll keep him busy for a few hours."
"I think it's already partly made," Arya said. "Sansa just needs to try it on." She grinned at her older sister. "If I was you, I'd go now before he has too much time to show off and craft little direwolves on every square inch of the metal."
"Alright," Sansa said with a roll of her eyes. "Show me the way."
Arya grinned at Jon and Daenerys before sauntering off in the direction of the smithy, Needle swinging loosely at her side. Sansa politely curtsied to both of them before following. Jon saw Daenerys smile at his sister too and was overjoyed that the two were finally seeing eye to eye.
"Well done," Jon said to her. "You're getting stronger and better with that sword every day."
"I am," she replied. "But that win there was pure luck, not skill. I will never be as good as Arya."
"It wasn't just luck," Jon argued.
"It was mostly luck," Daenerys countered, raising an eyebrow. "Be honest and admit it."
"Alright," Jon shrugged. "But that doesn't mean your skill isn't improving, because it is."
Daenerys shivered with cold. Jon glanced at her, then back at the castle, fully aware that she still wasn't fully accustomed to the wintry climate.
"Let's go inside and get something warm to drink," he suggested, an idea that was agreed immediately.
A few minutes later, the pair of them sat together in Jon's solar, around a roaring fire in the hearth with cups of hot ale.
"I've been thinking," Daenerys started, hesitantly.
Jon turned to face her. "About what?"
"Everything," she answered gravely. "The war. What comes after. Us."
"Talk it through," Jon encouraged her, but feeling apprehensive of what she was going to say.
"Well, for starters, I figure if I'm going to be riding Drogon into battle, I won't really need Dark Sister," she said. "Yes, I'll keep a couple of dragonglass daggers on me just in case, but a large Valyrian steel sword will be wasted on me, I think."
"Alright," Jon said, surprised but seeing the sense of it. "Who do you have in mind for wielding Dark Sister?"
Daenerys met his eyes. "Arya."
Jon smiled. "She'll be thrilled to pieces. Needle is a good sword, but neither Valyrian nor dragonglass- coated. Are you sure?"
"Positive," she answered. "It's a good sword, and she's good at wielding one. She'll do better with it." Her smile faltered. "I've also been thinking, about what will happen after the war. After we win, and the Night King is defeated."
"To be honest, I've been so focused on them, that I haven't even begun to think about after," Jon admitted with a wry smile. "What are your thoughts?"
"Well, you have a claim on the Iron Throne," she said numbly.
Jon's heart rate accelerated. "You know I don't want it, and I certainly don't want to fight you for it," he told her. "Besides, you already have it. It's still in the family." He broke off and met her gaze. "But if we both survive, I will bend the knee."
Daenerys smiled gently, but she looked concerned. "But what about all your northern lords?" she asked. "I know you'll feel obliged to tell them the truth about yourself afterwards. Will they react well? If they don't, what will happen then?"
"I would hope they all respect me enough to see past it," Jon said. "But if not… why, Sansa will have the North. Not necessarily as a queen, but as a proper Stark."
"And if they antagonise you beyond reconciliation, you'll always be welcome in Kings Landing," Daenerys said seriously. Then she laughed at the look Jon gave her. "I know. I know you prefer Winterfell, and that it's your home. But it's always there."
Jon smiled back at her. "Thank you."
That afternoon, the two of them found Arya drilling Podrick in the courtyard. Jon noticed Brienne and Gendry watching over them from opposite sides. Everyone else walking through gave them a wide berth. Daenerys had unclipped Dark Sister from her makeshift belt.
"Arya!" Jon called. "Can I speak to you for a minute?"
His sister ducked a final blow from the young squire, and spun out of the courtyard towards them, laughing. It made Jon smile. She looked ten years younger and genuinely happy when she was drilling in the yard. Meanwhile Podrick sheepishly lowered his sword and went over to join Brienne, who was now heading away from the scene. Gendry grinned at Arya and then moved off in the other direction towards the forge.
"What's the matter?" Arya asked, clipping Needle back into her belt.
"I… have something I want you to use," Daenerys said quietly, extending the Valyrian steel blade out to her. "For the war. You'll do far better with it than I could."
Arya gasped in awe. "Are you sure?" she managed after a few seconds of speechless surprise. "It's Valyrian steel, and, well… it's yours. It was Visenya's, and now it's yours!"
"Swords don't always have to be used by the family they're owned by," Daenerys said reasonably.
Jon gestured to Longclaw at his hip. "Jeor Mormont gave me this, many, many moons ago."
Arya's serious countenance split into a wide grin. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" she said over and over again.
"It's not a toy," Jon said seriously, the ghost of a smile pulling at his mouth. "Be careful you don't cut yourself."
Arya grinned at the memory as Daenerys handed her the sword.
"I know it's a lot different to Needle, but I'm sure you'll adapt," the Mother of Dragons said seriously as she surveyed Arya's grip. "You'll need to practice every day…" She then looked bemused as to why both Jon and Arya laughed.
"Train with Brienne," Jon encouraged her. "She spars with Valyrian steel, plus you will need the practice."
"On it," Arya said, and ran back to the courtyard with a definite spring in her step. Jon smiled at her enthusiasm and watched her go until he felt Daenerys gently tug on his arm.
"Let's go back inside," she said. "I feel like we still have matters to discuss."
Jon linked his arm with hers. "Alright, then."
Once back in the warm comfort of the solar, the two of them sat next to each other in front of the fire.
"What's wrong?" Jon asked. "What have we still to talk about?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing," Daenerys replied. "You've seemed even more tense these last couple of days. I just wondered if you wanted to voice anything."
Jon sighed. He hadn't realised his low mood had been so obvious. "I guess I'm just deeply frustrated about the war," he said. "Things would be a lot easier if we didn't have to go off and deal with the Night King in less than a week." He met her violet eyes. "I know we have the best chance possible. I know we have all the armies of Westeros and three dragons on our side. I just can't help but worry and see this as an ultimate pit of doom."
Daenerys looked at him thoughtfully. "I don't think of it as an ultimate pit of doom. I see it as the final large hurdle before the rest of my life."
"A hurdle that could potentially kill us all."
"A hurdle that, if handled correctly, could potentially save all of Westeros for the rest of time," Daenerys said. "As you know too well." She smiled gently. "I think I might take a leaf out of Tyrion's book and start planning for the long term, now. We will win, Jon. We have to."
"And what will you do, in the long term?" Jon asked her gently. "What are your plans as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms?" And he listened in awe as Daenerys spoke passionately about breaking the wheel that was spun over rich and poor. About her plans for a prosperous life for all the citizens of Westeros.
"And as you know, you are my heir," Daenerys finished matter-of-factly. "I can't have children, and you're the last Targaryen."
"And what if I get finished off by the Night King?" Jon said.
"I have faith in you that you won't," Daenerys said very softly. "I also have another idea."
Daenerys' face flushed tenderly pink. "I was thinking of a different sort of alliance," she said. "As soon as the Long Night is over, the North will doubt me and want me out. They will suspect that I want to conquer this place. But if we were to, you know –"
"Marry?" Jon said, and a jolt of electricity spread through his stomach. A smile etched its way onto his face. "I can get behind that, definitely." He reached out a hand tentatively, which Daenerys took. The next thing he knew, she was in his lap and kissing him. His heart raced faster than it ever had before, but he could only smile.
Entire minutes seemed to stretch by until they were interrupted by a knocking at the door.
"Come in," Jon said reluctantly once Daenerys had disentangled herself from him.
Sansa entered, looking as though she had just run from one end of the castle to the other. When she spoke, she sounded out of breath.
"Everyone is starting to gather in the Great Hall," she said gravely. "Tormund has arrived with information, and he's speaking with Bran now. It's time to make our plans." She broke off and looked between the two of them. "I'm sorry," she added softly.
Jon was careful not to look Daenerys in the eye as he stood up and straightened his back.
"Then let's go."
A/N: Thank you so much for reading. I apologise for the long wait, but getting the ending for this story right was an important (and near-impossible) task for me. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all the crazy amounts of love and support for this story throughout these last few months. You guys are the BEST and your lovely reviews inspire me every day.
I have plenty of inspiration and ideas for some more stories, and I'll get one of them (a little oneshot) out as soon as I have the time to write and edit.
Thanks so much again, don't forget to review!
Until the next one x