Breaking The Wheel: A GOT Season 8 Fanfic
By 2Littlewing (aka Cerece Rennie Murphy)
Notes: This is what I want to see and what I want to happen in GOT: Season 8. It's mostly told from Jon and Dany's perspective, because a) I love their characters and b) I see them as the main drivers of Season 8. This story will be posted in six parts - every Sunday until it's done. No infringement intended. Viva Le FanFic!
~ Part I ~
Chapter 1: Return of the King
It had been two days and almost two nights with barely any food or drink between them. With the adrenaline of war coursing through their veins, Dany and Jon barely noticed. They had been at the forefront of the Great War, almost from the moment they arrived in Winterfell, besieged by the dead in a constant wave until today when something seemed to break and, for a moment, there was a lull in the fighting.
Exhausted, Dany and Jon retreated to the makeshift tents at the edge of the battlefield that Sansa and the people of Wintertown had set up to feed and care for the men and women in battle. They stood an appropriate distance apart, yet still side-by-side, with Ghost following closely behind. The direwolf's white fur was marred with bits of ice and hardened ash, but there was no blood in his maw. He did not kill the living. Once inside, the beast lay down between Jon and the seat Dany had taken, too exhausted to eat.
"Please, Your Grace, come. You must be famished," Hot Pie said while handing Jon a bowl of stew and a chunk of the bread he'd brought with him from the Crossroads Tavern when he fled at the first news of The Wall's breach.
Jon nodded his appreciation, then handed the first bowl to Dany. "Thank you," she murmured before taking the bowl to her lips. There was no spoon and no time for one. Neither of them spoke as they tasted their first meal in days.
"Better?" Jon asked as he watched Dany sip her stew. Being near her felt equal parts essential and distracting. His palms itched to touch her, yet, there was no time.
She looked up at him and smiled.
"Yes. Thank you." Even with his own exhaustion, she noted, his voice was still thick with concern and affection.
Lord Mandalay and Lord Cerwyn watched them silently from across the table where provisions were being served, but none dared utter a word. Dany ignored their stares and focused on answering her hunger with the food before her. A rush of cold air brought a shiver to her spine as Lord Glover entered the tent.
"Your…Grace," Lord Glover looked between Jon and Dany with trepidation before settling his eyes on her. The words still stuck in his throat, but Dany noted that he still managed to push through. "The BlackFish has arrived from RiverRun with Jaime Lannister and the Tully army. Five thousand by his count. They have relieved your men at the front line."
"Thank you, Lord Glover. My men will be grateful for the rest."
Outside, Drogon and Rhaegal screeched across the sky as they took in the strange new men at the front line.
"Indeed, Your Grace." The words seemed to fit in his mouth a little easier this time. "Your men have fought bravely."
"And the Lannister Army?" Jon asked Lord Glover.
"There's no sign of them, Your Grace. When Jaime Lannister arrived, he asked to speak to Tyrion. He said it was urgent."
Jon frowned. Betrayed. He wanted to be surprised, but he couldn't honestly say that he was. Yet, the men of the North were exhausted. He couldn't bear to bring them any more bad news now. The Tullys had come and Jaime's presence proved that at least one Lannister could be taken at his word.
"Thank you, Lord Glover, " Jon replied, as Lord Glover turned his attention back to Dany.
"We are glad to have you with us, Your Grace," he added with a low bow, then left. Inside the tent, there was a rumble of agreement among the other Lords and Ladies. They knew that without Daenerys Stormborn, the North would never have survived this long.
The cold winds of White Harbor hit hard when they landed barely a week before, but the news of the breach at Eastwatch hit harder. Just hours before, Jon had been lying in Dany's bed, recounting the names and dispositions of all the Northern Lords she would meet while twisting a lock of silver hair between his fingers. They'd been serious, but relaxed and warm in each other's arms.
He'd expected to use the ride to Winterfell to ease Dany into her new surroundings, but by the time they reached the dock, it was clear they had run out of time. Lord Mandalay's squire, Sir Donkin, delivered the news personally, then offered to escort them to Winterfell.
They rode hard on the King's Road to Winterfell, with Jon trying his best to lead them. He was an excellent horseman, but the Dothraki were better. At his side, Jon was only a little surprised to find that Dany had no trouble keeping up.
These are her people, he reminded himself. These were the first to accept her as Khaleesi. By the time they reached the gates of Winterfell, it was dusk and the soft lines of Dany's face had hardened with the cold and anticipation of what was to come. In her, Jon saw his own resolve.
Good, he thought. This will not be easy.
From the turret of the First Keep, his eyes caught Sansa's scarlet hair blowing in the wind as she watched the dragons circling the skies. He could only imagine what she must be thinking.
On the ground, the East gate opened and Arya came running out.
"Jon!" she called, bounding down the hill to his party. Ignoring the Dothraki horses and the Unsullied that dwarfed her tiny frame, she broke through their line until she reached where he had already dismounted and was waiting for her with open arms.
He couldn't speak until he had her fully wrapped in his embrace, just like the last time he'd seen her. Jon held her in silence for a long time before finally whispering, "I thought I'd lost you. I thought you were dead."
When she pulled back from him there were tears in his eyes.
Of all the places to find her again she had to be at the edge of the most dangerous place in the world.
"I'm not dead. I'm right here with you, where I belong."
This made him smile. From the corner of her eye, Arya caught a wisp of silver hair and a pair of curious lavender eyes watching them closely. Arya turned and extended her hand to greet the Dragon Queen.
"Hello, Your Grace. I'm Arya Stark. Jon's sister. Your dragons are amazing, bigger than I ever imagined."
Dany smiled at the young girl before her as Jon came to help her from her horse. Walking forward, Dany took Arya's palm in both her hands.
"It's a pleasure to meet you too, my Lady." The resemblance is so striking, she thought, casting a quick glance between brother and sister.
"Oh, I'm not a lady. Just Arya. You can call me, Arya."
Dany's smile broadened at her bluntness. "You favor your brother in look and character."
"Thank you, Your Grace."
"What are you doing out here? Aren't you supposed to wait with the greeting party?" Jon chuckled.
"Sansa can handle all that," Arya replied. Jon looked back at the gate where their sister and the Lords of the North were assembled. He couldn't make out a single friendly face among them.
"See?" Arya remarked, clearly making the same assessment he had. "I figured I'd rather stay with you."
"You protecting me, now?" Jon smiled, taking in her boy's clothes. She was not the little girl he left behind, and yet, she was utterly herself. The fact that she still carried the sword he'd made for her filled him with too much emotion to speak of.
"If need be," she said without a trace of humor. "I've still got Needle and I've been putting her to good use."
Chapter 2: A Southern Ruler
For a moment, as they entered the gates of Winterfell, Dany wished she had flown in on her dragons. They would have wiped the contempt she saw right off the faces of the Lords and Ladies that stood before her. To his credit, Jon stayed by her side, introducing her to his sister, Sansa, his brother Bran, his best friend, Sam, Lord Commander of the Nights Watch, Ghost, and all the other Lords and Ladies of the court. With the exception of a few, it was clear that none of them wanted her there. Their gazes met hers, defiant and unyielding.
My people won't accept a southern ruler. Not after everything they've suffered.
As with everything else, Jon had been true to his word. She would need to prove herself to the Lords of the North, just as she had proved herself to their King.
Sansa took care to show Dany and the rest of her party to their chambers while Jon took his leave to speak with Sam, Tormund, Beric, and Bran about exactly what they had seen and when the army of the dead would arrive. Dany had arrived at the briefing just in time to hear the worst news of all, that her own child had been turned against her, resurrected and used as a slave to the Night King. Though Jon could only imagine the turmoil she must have felt, Dany never let it show. All their plans, every advantage they thought the dragons would bring them had to be recalculated against the horror of Dany having to stand against one of her own dragons in battle. After gathering the information they needed, Jon had wanted to move swiftly into battle preparations, but Sansa insisted that the Lords needed to be addressed.
"They need to understand what's happening, Jon and they need to hear it from you," Sansa urged. Though he loathed the idea of wasting any time that might be used for preparations, Jon knew Sansa was right. Reluctantly, Jon called a meeting in the Great Hall to discuss their course of action. As soon as the briefing was adjourned, Sam approached.
"Jon," Sam whispered when Dany and the other attendees had left the room. "Bran and I need to talk with you about another matter of importance." Looking between his brother and his dear friend, Jon could see that it was not good news.
"Is this about the war?" he asked.
"Not exactly," Sam admitted.
"Then it can wait."
"But, Jon, you need to –."
"I'm sorry, Sam. I can't. Not now. If we live past the next 24 hours, then I promise, you can tell me anything you want, but not now, please." Before Sam could protest Jon turned and left the room, hoping to steal a moment to make sure Daenerys was all right before the meeting in the Great Hall.
"Let him go," Bran said passively. "He will find out when he needs to."
"My Lords and Ladies, I return to you with all the things I promised. With the help of Queen Daenerys, we have been able to negotiate a truce with Cersei to halt hostilities and focus efforts on our common enemy. Southern armies march to the North as we speak to join our cause. The Queen has not only granted us access to the stores of dragonglass at Dragonstone, she's helped us forge thousands of weapons that will serve us well against the White Walkers. She's also brought her armies to the North to fight with us, along with two fierce dragons."
Jon looked back to where Dany sat at the head table. He owed her so much. They all did. He hoped that what he'd said would be enough to show them.
"For these reasons and the many other sacrifices she has made on our behalf, as King in the North, I have pledged fealty to House Targaryen."
He didn't have a moment to move towards his seat before the uproar began.
Lord Royce stood first.
"Your Grace, we can not expect the Vale to accept such a bargain! I warned you on your departure to Dragonstone that no daughter of the Mad King could be trusted to rule. Never before have foreign invaders so completely enveloped the North. I can scarcely tell if we're under rescue or under siege. Surely, Lady Sansa would agree."
"Take Care, Lord Royce. Remember what happened to the last nobleman who tried to come between our family. Jon has made many sacrifices to be here. As our King, we will hear him out and heed his judgment."
Lord Royce flinched at Sansa's words and, for the first time, Jon noticed the absence of Littlefinger. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Arya's smirk. Curiosity made him wonder what happened, but he knew the story would have to wait. What was more surprising was Sansa's defense of his actions. Her reception to Daenerys had not been warm. He'd expected her to openly question his decision, but instead, she had defended him.
Lord Cerwyn rose next. "And where are the rest of her dragons? I heard there were three, but I only saw two. For all we know, she's hiding the third one somewhere, waiting until we turn our backs so she can burn us alive like Lord Tarly and take the North for herself!"
Jon looked across the room to find Sam clearly shocked by the news of his father's death. He hadn't heard. Jon hadn't either, but when Dany returned so quickly from The Reach, he'd suspected. Randall Tarly had never been kind to Sam. Yet, Jon wondered how Sam would reconcile the news of his death with the memories of his cruelty.
Behind him, Dany had had enough of the Northern Lords and their accusations. Rising from her seat she walked past where Jon stood in the middle of the Great Hall, then directed her ire towards the man with the pinched face that Jon had so aptly described on their trip to White Harbor.
"Lord Cerwyn, you have asked some important questions. Allow me to provide the answers you seek. Lord Tarly," Dany faced Sam before she continued, "betrayed his house and conspired with the Lannisters to murder Lady Olenna Tyrell to whom he swore a sacred oath. He and his son were given a choice to make amends for their betrayal and refused. I wish he had chosen otherwise.
"And as for my third dragon, his name was Viserion and he is dead. I lost him in the battle beyond The Wall, saving your King and his men from the Night King. In return, he killed my dragon." Dany's voice rose against the murmurs that rippled through the hall.
"Your King has told me that no Lord here has ever been beyond the Wall. I see now that it is true. You call me and those I have brought to help you, foreigners. Yet, with all your claims to this land, I understand the threat that awaits you better than you do! I have seen the Night King with my own eyes. I have risked my life, my dragons' lives, and the lives of all those who have sworn to fight for me to protect a land I'd never been to before today, to offer my assistance to a people I've never met.
"I have risked everything to be here because, unlike my father, I come not only to rule the seven kingdoms, but to serve it as well, and as your Queen, the safety of my people, the survival of every man, woman, and child in Westeros is my duty and I will stand against any enemy that threatens them. That is why I am here, Lord Cerwyn, but if you do not want my assistance, I will not force it upon you. I will take my dragons and my armies and leave."
By the time she was finished, Dany and Jon stood at opposite ends of the hall, but it seemed that he could feel her heartbeat and she could feel his from clear across the room. This was who he wanted them to see. This was the woman to whom he had pledged allegiance.
Dany was surprised to see Lady Mormont rise from the seat just next to where she stood.
"Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, House Mormont is grateful for your service to the North and all you have done to see our King safely home. He has been sorely missed," she added with a cutting glance at Lord Cerwyn and Lord Glover.
"We have a saying in the North. We know no King but the King in the North whose name is Stark. By now, you've heard of the suffering of our people at the hands of Southern rulers, some of whom were part of your family. The North remembers, my Lady. We do not forget easily nor should we be expected to. I do not know if I will ever call you Queen, but I trust Jon Snow, my King, and if he speaks for you, then you have my trust. House Mormont will fight with you."
Dany took a deep breath. Of all the people Jon had mentioned, she knew Lady Mormont would be the hardest to turn. The relief inside felt like a weight off her shoulders. Truly this young girl was everything Jon had promised she would be.
"Thank you, Lady Mormont. Your King is indeed an honorable man and worthy of the loyalty you bestow upon him. Through the service of your kin, Sir Jorah, House Mormont has saved my life many times over. I look forward to fighting alongside you."
Treading more lightly, Sir Royce rose once more.
"Your Grace, we are certainly grateful for your offer of assistance, but the King in the North has been gone a long time and the threat you both claim has yet to come forth. Perhaps – ."
Bran's voice was smooth as he turned his attention to the window. "If you do not believe your King, Lord Royce, see for yourself. Look to the east, towards the Lonely Hills…they will be here by morning."
Abruptly, the Lords of the North hurried to the window. At first, they could see nothing but snow resting under the moon of a clear night sky, until a shadow seemed to spread like a stain over the top of a faraway hill.
Gasps echoed throughout the Great Hall as Bran closed his eyes. "They will be here by morning," he said again and was quiet. His training as the Three-Eyed Raven was over. Now all he could do was hope that he was ready.