Disclaimer: All rights go to George RR Martin. Anything you don't recognize is mine.

This is my coping mechanism for the rushed dumpster fire that was Season 8. To be clear, I'm not entirely disappointed with how the show ended, but rather the methods and shortcuts that were used to get there. But that's a conversation for another time. I was also inspired by BeyondTheHorizonIsHope's amazing fic, "A Vow without Honor." If you haven't read it, please do. It's wonderful.

Anyway, a few notes before we begin:

1 - Yes, this story has an OC. And yes, the main pairing is Jaime and the OC. Why? Because I like taking a wrecking ball to canon :)

2 - This story will span all 8 seasons of the show. There will be some book elements, but not a whole lot. The events of Seasons 1 and 2 will remain roughly the same, but after Season 3 we're entering some AU territory. Brace yourselves.

3 - I will do my absolute best to make this story enjoyable and keep everyone in character. But alas, I am not GRRM, so I cannot and will not guarantee perfection.

So, there it is. I always try and respond to my readers with any comments or questions they have, so don't be shy!

Now, on with the show.


Prologue

JON

The Narrow Sea shimmered before him, blue and green and grey and black, the waves below casting a fine mist about him when they crashed against the rocks. The winds were biting that day, blowing sharp and cold from the North and stinging his face red – the winds of winter.

Winter is coming, Ned Stark's voice reminded him, somber and grim.

No, Jon thought, glancing behind him where the formidable fortress of Dragonstone loomed above, an ugly gargoyle perched on the edge of a cliff. Winter is here.

"I thought I might find you here."

Jon turned, seeing Tyrion Lannister waddling toward him on his short legs. The silver brooch of the Hand of the Queen gleamed brightly in the sun against his fine black tunic, and Jon frowned at the color; he had never been much for black since his departure from the Night's Watch. The color reminded him of Ser Alliser Thorne, of Bowen Marsh and Othell Yarwyck, of Olly; black was the color of the sky he had stared at as he lay, dying, and black was the color of his dreams in death.

"You always did have a penchant for staring broodingly into the distance," the dwarf continued, coming to stand beside him and gazing out to the sea, as well. "I seem to recall you doing a fair bit of it on the Wall."

Though Jon had always admired Tyrion for his ability to make light of most everything, he could not find the humor in his jest today. He had sent Davos away to have a scarce moment to himself, and he was not keen on speaking to anyone so soon after the tense meeting he'd had with Daenerys Stormborn.

Tyrion seemed to sense the direction of Jon's thoughts, for he sighed and clasped his hands behind his back. "My queen is headstrong, no denying," he said. "But I believe in her, Jon. As should you."

"The only thing I believe in is the Night King and his army," said Jon. "I've seen them, Tyrion. I watched the dead rise again on the shores of Hardhome. They are coming, and nothing will stop them unless we all join together to fight."

The dwarf sighed, glancing briefly to Jon. "And I said before, you'll have our support—"

"—So long as I bend the knee to Daenerys Targaryen," Jon finished sourly.

"Yes," agreed Tyrion. "Bend the knee, and we will face the threat in the North together. Afterwards, perhaps we may speak again—"

"There won't be an afterwards if we don't have the support of Cersei and all the Southern lords! We need to be united, all of us."

"Would that we could," said Tyrion, smiling bitterly and causing the scar on his face to crinkle and fold. "I fear you'll have a hard time convincing my sweet sister of that."

"Not if I have proof," Jon countered. An inkling of an idea had begun to take hold in his brain, if only he could act upon it. Daenerys Stormborn had said he was not a prisoner – yet – but he wondered if he could really leave freely as it were. "Irrefutable evidence that would convince even her."

Tyrion seemed doubtful, though he tried to hide it for Jon's sake. "Perhaps. And perhaps not. I think it would have to depend on what sort of mood she's in that day."

Jon braced his hands on the rough stone ledge of the walkway that had led him from the castle to the sea, staring hard at the water and ignoring the black currents beneath the surface. After a long moment, in which silence had befallen the two, he turned back to Tyrion.

"You did not seem dishonest when we traveled to the Wall together, my lord," he said. "If that is the case, then tell me why I should believe in your Dragon Queen as you do."

Tyrion deliberated, watching the treacherous waves collide with the volcanic rocks below them. He was quiet for so long that Jon thought he would not answer him. Finally, he spoke.

"Back in Meereen, she told me something. All of us – the Starks, the Lannisters, the Targaryens – are just spokes on a wheel, turning and turning and crushing those on the bottom. I told her it was a beautiful dream, stopping the wheel. And she looked me in the eye and said, I'm not going to stop the wheel. I am going to break the wheel. And now here we are: in Westeros, with a fleet, an army, and three dragons – all things she did not have a short time ago." He paused, looking back out to the sea. "You and I both know things must change. And I believe that Daenerys Targaryen is exactly the change we need for at least a sliver of hope at a better future."

"And that woman with her," Jon said, "the one in the shadows. They call her the Wraith." Tyrion tensed slightly, but otherwise remained impassive. "Sansa told me about her. She said the Wraith helped her and Arya in King's Landing, and my father as well, before the end. But the tales I've heard say she helped your brother also."

"Let's not forget me," said Tyrion lightly. "She was invaluable in my escape from King's Landing."

Jon frowned. "Who is she?"

"Behind Daenerys, the next best hope for Westeros." Jon looked to him, wondering if he was jesting again, but Tyrion was deadly serious. "Believe what you will, Jon Snow, but the Wraith has more skills than just lurking in shadows and getting people to spill their secrets like they spill their blood. You would do well not to underestimate her."

He was not so easily convinced. "The tales also say that your brother was prepared to turn his back on everything to follow her to the ends of the world. I would not dare to underestimate her if they told true."

"Yes, well, my brother did always have a flair for the dramatic." Tyrion sighed, though Jon noted he did not refute the claims. "As I said, she is more than just the Wraith."

"And you think she can break the wheel like your queen?"

Tyrion laughed. "Gods, no. I shudder to imagine what she could do, especially with someone like Jaime at her side."

"What do you mean?"

"Daenerys Targaryen wants to break the wheel," said Tyrion. "They would simply burn the wheel into ash." He shook his head. "If only they could spare all the Lannister gold while they're at it."

Tyrion's words did nothing to make Jon feel better. He stared into the shadows of the sea intently. "Let's hope it does not come to that, then. The wheel needs to stay a bit longer if we are to face the Night King's army."

"A kingdom of ash and gold," Tyrion mused, lost in his own thoughts. "That's all they'd leave us with. Ash and gold."

He cast the dwarf a sidelong glance. "You don't say it like it's a bad thing."

"I happen to be very fond of gold," Tyrion said, "and even after fire, life can still rise anew from the ashes."

Jon could only hope he was right.


This prologue is a flash-forward. Beginning with Chapter One, the story will start a few days before the events of Season 1 Episode 1.

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xx