Prince Jon Baratheon
The doors opened and the herald announced them. "Their Majesties, King Robert and Queen Cersei Baratheon. Their Royal Highnesses, Prince Jon and Princess Myrcella Baratheon, Their Royal Highnesses, Prince Tommen and Princess Joanna Baratheon and His Royal Highness Prince Joffrey." They walked in, father and mother first, then Jon and Myrcella, Tommen and Joanna followed, and Joffrey walked behind them all. Jon looked at his sister and smiled, she looked beautiful, and so full grown as well, which was reasonable as she was only a year younger than him. Tommen was filling out as well, he'd have the girls chasing after him soon enough, Joanna looked like a right little madam, whilst Joffrey, the youngest of the Baratheon children was, well the less said about him the better. They filed into the throne room, and then took their places, the throne behind them, father right in front of it. Once father was seated they all took their places.
The King stood, and they all stood. Father held a cup of wine in his hand. He looked around the throne room, and then at Jon. "For six years my son has been in Oldstones, learning what it means to be a man, learning the art of ruling and friendship. He has returned, and for that we are most grateful. He has come back different, and for that we are also grateful. Let us now raise a toast and celebrate for our son has returned. To Prince Jon!"
"To Prince Jon!" Came the response, Jon blushed slightly but drank all the same. The King sat down and they all took their seats. Jon was sat to his father's right handside, whilst mother was sat to father's left. Almost at once the food was served, some sort of chicken with soup, Jon tucked into it, not used to such luxurious food after so long at Oldstones, where even though they weren't starved they weren't exactly provided the greatest of luxuries. As he ate, his father laughed.
"Got a bit of an appetite in you, have you lad?" Jon looked up and saw his father looking at him with some amusement in his eyes.
"Yes, the food at Oldstones was nowhere as nice as it is here." Jon replied.
His father laughed. "Good, good. Now, dig in, eat, enjoy the food, before the vultures come." Jon obliged and ate with gusto. He finished his starter within a few moments. It seemed his father was going to let him lead things, for his father soon finished his own food, putting his fork and knife down on his plate. The servants came and took the food from everyone else, Jon heard someone grumbling, but that was the law, if the King finished eating something, no matter what state your own food was at, you too were finished. The mains were placed before them, and Jon gasped.
"You remembered?" He asked, looking at his mother.
"Of course." Mother replied smiling. Jon turned and dug in, roasted beef with potatoes and sauce, his favourite meal, always had been. He'd hankered after it at Oldstones, and he'd gone six years without it, so having the opportunity to eat it now was something he'd cherish forever. He ate and ate, and then stopped, savouring the taste of the beef in his mouth. He looked at his mother and saw her smiling at him.
"Thank you, Mama." He replied. He turned back to his food and kept eating. When he was finished, father too finished and as the food was taken away, father spoke.
"So, tell me, how was your journey?" Jon wondered what uncle Jaime had told father, as a member of the Kingsguard, it would have been up to Ser Jaime to inform the King of everything that had happened. No doubt father knew already, but perhaps he just wanted to hear it from Jon?
"The journey was relatively uneventful, father, truth be told, it was sort of boring. We stopped off at Harrenhal and Lady Whent mentioned that she wants some help regarding the upkeep of the castle. I think she's starting to get a bit tired of keeping the thing. I said I'd mention it to you." Jon said, his father laughed, and Jon blushed. "I guess, perhaps I just wanted to tell you that straight away."
"No harm done." Father replied.
"Is it true that you met a dwarf?" Tommen asked. Jon looked at his brother and wondered where he'd heard that.
"Dwarf?" Father asked. "What dwarf?"
Jon sighed, he supposed he'd have to tell father, he didn't have to tell him or mother about that so called prophecy that the dwarf had uttered, that he could keep to himself. "Yes, we met a dwarf, the Ghost of High Heart. She spoke a lot of nonsense."
There was a strange look on Mother's face when she replied. "I am sure she did."
"What was Ser Brynden like?" Tommen asked, his interest in that particular story minimised now by mother's clear unease.
"Oh," Jon smiled with a grin. "He's a bit of an old hag now, he grumbles and runs you hard. But he is a good teacher, very good with swords and lances. And Maester Gormon is a very good tutor also." Jon looked over to where Maester Pycelle looked as if he were about to fall into his soup. "Perhaps he might add a bit of alertness to the maester's realm?"
Father guffawed at that, causing some of the people at the tables lower down to look up. "I am sure he would, but of course the citadel won't change the Grand Maester role until our current grand maester croaks it."
Jon nodded, laughing slightly at the disapproving look Mother shot father, he'd missed this. Even though he'd not change his experience at Oldstones for anything, he'd missed being here at home. He then looked at Myrcella who was sat next to Mother and said. "You know, Robb Stark was asking me about you. I think he's got a bit of a crush."
Myrcella blushed. "What?"
Jon smirked. "Come now Cella, don't be coy, I know you've been writing to him, and I know he's been writing to you. And I know both Mother and Father know about this. So, why don't you share with the family what's been happening?"
Surprisingly, it was Father who came to Cella's defence. "Now, now, lad, let's not get into this discussion before things have really settled down. After all, there is your own marriage to discuss." Jon gulped and Myrcella stuck her tongue out at him. Father laughed. Then he straightened up and asked. "But truthfully, how is Ned's boy?"
Jon smiled. "He's a good lad, father, true, honest, and honourable. He looks more like his mother I think than he does his father, which can only be a good thing." Father grunted.
"I don't give a shit what the boy looks like, lad, I want to know whether he is a good man." Father replied.
"Might I remind you both that this is a welcome home feast, for you, Jon, not to discuss a potential marriage for your sister." Mother said sharply.
Jon bowed his head. "Sorry, Mama."
"Sorry my love." Father said kissing mother's cheek.
Dessert was served and from that point on, Jon spent more time eating than he did talking, when the music started, he led Mother out to the floor to dance, smiling as he did so. "I'm glad to be home." He said then.
"We are glad to have you home, sweetling." Mother replied. "How was Oldstones, truly?"
Jon smiled. "It was good, Mother. My friends there were nice, and we managed to learn a lot. And I got a fair estimation of some of the people who are now at court as well."
His mother raised an eyebrow. "And what might those estimations be?"
Jon nodded toward where Robert Arryn was sat, discussing something with his beady eyed mother. "Robert Arryn is all charm and pomp, but get him into an actual fight and his wits will abandon him. He is more a politician than a fighter, but he will have to command an army in whatever war comes next." He turned with his mother in the routine that the dance prescribed. And nodded toward where cousin Lancel sat. "Lancel is a coward, a man who will follow his betters, not out of loyalty, but because if he does not then he will suffer a fate worse than death. He is afraid of being shamed."
Mother smiled. "Impressive, and what do you plan on doing with this information?"
Jon stopped as the music slowed. "Making use of it to ensure that the family's interest and the kingdom's interest is looked out for."
Mother patted his cheek. "Good." They changed partners then as Mother danced with uncle Jaime, and Jon danced with some Lannister cousin. The evening went like that for some time, before eventually, the King announced that he was retiring and festivities ended for the night. Jon made his way back to his rooms, Uncle Jaime trailing him as a white knight should. Jon saw someone kissing some serving girl or the other and laughed, it was good to be home.
Lord Jon Arryn, Hand of the King
As usual the festivities had gone on until late in the night. Jon was not as young as he had once been, indeed as he approached his seventieth nameday, he found that he enjoyed these sorts of things less and less. Yet still he attended them, for he was Hand of the King and to not attend something that the King had declared all were to attend would have been treason. To not attend the return of the Crown Prince, would have been madness. Jon might not care much for the King's children, but he knew when to make a good impression still.
He sat down in his chair, in the Tower of the Hand and sighed with relief. His page poured him some wine and he took the cup and drank. "Where is my wife?" He asked.
"She has retired for the night, as has Master Robert." Ser Garland Stone, his bastard nephew said.
"Very well. And Lord Baelish?" Jon asked.
"He is coming as you asked." Stone replied. Just as the man said that, the door opened and Baelish entered. The young man was small, with brownish hair that was turning grey, he had beady eyes, and a little goatee that made him look ridiculous. Jon knew that most of the people in King's Landing and at court ignored Baelish because of his low birth, but Jon knew just how dangerous the man was, which was why he had mentored him and trained him. Baelish bowed and took the seat offered him.
Jon looked at Stone and said. "Guard the outside, make sure no one else enters or leaves." The man bowed and then straightened to do as he was asked. Jon then turned to Baelish and gave him a cup of wine, once the man had taken the cup he asked. "What did you make of tonight's festivities?"
Petyr Baelish had started as the grandson of a sellsword, who had saved the life of Lord Hoster during the War of the Ninepenny Kings. Jon had seen the use of such a man and given him some lands on the Fingers, with permission of King Jaehaerys of course. That sellsword's son had served as Jon's steward for many years, and Jon had ensured that the boy had grown up in Riverrun, counting on the boy's ambition and his affinity for redheads to get him to where Jon had wanted him to be. And now here they were. Baelish did not know this, and so he replied honestly with Jon, where he would lie to others. "I believe the King has made his statement of intent. The celebrations were much grander than anything that he has thrown for any of his other children, apart from perhaps Princess Myrcella, and much grander than anything he has thrown for any of his brothers." Baelish took a sip of wine then continued. "I believe that he will try and get Harrenhal for Prince Jon, and ensure that the Riverlords swear fealty to him, and not Lord Edmure."
"That would risk alienating the Tullys, and through them the Starks and potentially myself as well. Robert is not as great a fool as that. Lord Edmure might not be as capable as his father was, but he has powerful allies. Harrenhal might fall to the crown, in that I do not disagree with you, but I do not think there will be any changing of oaths there." Jon responded.
Baelish conceded the point with a nod of his head. "The reunion between the Queen and Ser Jaime was not as good as Ser Jaime had expected. Several of my sources reported that as they danced they argued, and there was even mention of the brothel that Ser Jaime visits. Or rather the brothel he had visited."
"Have you found out who he visited there?" Jon asked, that had been something that had been bothering him for nearly ten years now, and he knew that if the Kingslayer had sired an illegitimate son, then he could foist that son on Tywin and get Robert to legitimise the boy. It would be quite amusing.
"Not yet, unfortunately, my lord. But I do know that Ser Jaime got quite uncomfortable when the Queen mentioned that brothel." Baelish responded.
"Of course he did, the man still thinks that being part of the Kingsguard means you have honour. He has not realised that apart from Ser Barristan and Ser Arys the rest of his sister's protection are fools who are bought and paid for. Of course, there will be those who believes the Lannisters have them, but they do not remember who pays them of course." Jon said. Baelish paid the Kingsguard their upkeep, but Jon was the one who controlled what happened to the numerous children and mistresses that Robert's Kingsguard had. In a way, he felt sorry for Ser Barristan, the last member of a legendary institution brought low. Then he remembered what had been done to Daenaera and he pushed down such thoughts. "Speaking of money, what word has there been from Braavos?"
Here Baelish smiled. "The Sealord is facing death; the Iron Bank has agreed to support our preferred candidate. A man who claims that the centralisation of power in Westeros is a direct threat to Braavosi sovereignty and as such is garnering as much support as he can for a proposed armada to invade. Of course, this man is posturing, but I've struck several deals with shipping companies to increase their presence within the straits, so that the spider's little birds pick up on that."
Jon nodded approvingly. "Good, if Robert is focused on the Braavosi and the thought of getting the foreign war he so desperately wants, he will not be able to focus on the removal of the processes he has worked so hard for."
"It's not that I disagree with you, my lord, but I must ask, what happens if Robert Baratheon finds out we are doing this?" Baelish asked.
Jon sighed. "Leave that to me." He knew his foster son, he knew the man's strengths and weaknesses, he'd created them after all, he could easily keep the wool over his eyes.