When Jon woke up, he could hardly move his limbs. He tried to open is eyes, but it was like they had been wired shut. He let out a strangled grunt in the effort to rise, but his body wasn't working right. All he could do was lie there.
"Yes, I know, you are not feeling well right now, but you have to try to sit up." He was so startled by the voice had he jumped up, and his eyes flew open. Then all he knew was pain, every single part of him was consumed by it. His mouth felt like he had tried to eat all the sand in Dorne, and his head felt like Robert Baratheon had used it for hammer practice.
"Don't worry, the pain will pass." He looked at the owner of the voice, it was the same man as before. The man who called himself the Stranger. "For a moment there we were worried you wouldn't make it." The Stranger had set down on a chair. It was then Jon looked around the room. It was his childhood room in Winterfell.
He reached for a mug of water that he had always kept on the nightstand beside his bed and drank deeply. His throat felt a little better but not by much.
It was the same small, dark room he had after Lady Stark had moved him into after he no longer had to be in the nursery with Robb. "What do you mean? Aren't you Death? Can´t you just bring the dead back if you feel like it?" When Jon heard his own voice, he almost jumped out of his skin. He had the voice of a little boy. He looked down and sure enough, he also had the body of a child. He was maybe around ten or eleven.
The man snorted, he seemed really fond of doing that. "Sure I can, but only if they still have a soul." All thought fled Jon´s mind for a moment.
"You see, when you were brought back to the land of the living last time, something went wrong. You were wrong."
"What do you mean? Wrong?"
"Don´t you think it strange that before your death, you were making good decisions, sure some of them lead to your death, but you really can´t make people accept change that easily, and then after you were brought back, and it was like half your personality was gone along with your ability to listen to good advice."
Now that he thought about it, yes that sounded about right. It was a hard thing to admit to oneself that they had made such horrible mistakes and committed such awful folly´s. But Jon had. He had refused to listen to Sansa and Arya when they said not to trust Daenerys. And that was just one of his many mistakes. He hated himself for that, the self-loathing was almost suffocating.
It was like he couldn't see past his own honor and pride. He could see past it before he died but for some reason after he was brought back, he had turned to an honorable fool. What on earth had happened to him?
"Now to be honest, everyone brought back by the Red priests are coming back wrong, but as the Bloodraven was leaching the magic from you, it made the affects of being brought back much, much worse. If you had all the magic that you were born with. I doubt anyone could have told the difference between before and after you had been resurrected. Now the fact that you didn't have all your magic, caused your very soul to start to shatter." The Stranger said in a nonchalant tone of voice.
"You are only alive now because the magic was starting to return to your body, at least the magic that Daenerys Targaryen had been possessing. Which was helping in healing your soul. You were very lucky that your soul was starting to put it-self back together again when we sent you back. If not, you wouldn't have made it." Jon nodded, he didn't dare ask anything, he dreaded the answers the Stranger would give him.
"Soon you will be better that before, Jon Targaryen. Your soul will need a few days to adjust and your magic is back to where it is supposed to be." Death adjusted himself in the chair and continued.
"Now before I leave you, there are a few things that you need to know. The fact that you now know a possible future outcome is enough to change certain things. I don't know what exactly at this moment what those things are yet. I am not going to tell you not to try to change things. We sent you here to try to change things. Before the Long Night begins again, you are going to have to become the King of the seven kingdoms." Jon could feel the fear and dread settle in his heart. He didn't want to become king, but he would do his duty, as he always had.
"Another thing you need to know is because you have an amazing amount of magic, that is going to help the dragons, who are soon going to be bounded to you, grow faster than they normally would." The Stranger stopped for a moment before continuing.
"But it is give and take, you make the dragons stronger and the dragons make you stronger. So, the magic levels are stable."
"You said you and your siblings would help? What do you intend to do?" His voice sounded dead and defeated even to him.
"Aren´t I helping you now?" Death asked and raised a dark eyebrow, but before Jon could answer, Death kept going. "It is going to take some time, but we are going to try and send a few key people to help you take back your throne. But it is always a risk with these things, you never know if some wayward soul tags along for the ride."
Jon felt bile rise up in his throat. This was getting worse and worse every second.
"Tomorrow you have to go to the crypts and find the eggs." How in the seven hells was he supposed to find three small dragon eggs in the vast crypts of Winterfell? But before Jon could ask Death that question, he got the question answered. "Go to sleep now and tomorrow you will start to feel the pull. Follow it and you will find the eggs. And remember all you have to do is take the eggs, get them here to this room, cut yourself and bleed a little on them and put them in the fire."
Jon nodded, he could feel the exhaustion creep into his body, and he could barely keep his eyes open.
"There is also another thing I should mention. Tomorrow when you wake up, I want you to look under your bed, one of my servants will have left something for you there." Death had servants? What on earth could they leave under his bed?
"Now, I will be back in a couple of days and then I will try and answer any questions you might have, but for now you need to rest. I wouldn't like to go through all this trouble just to monologue you to death. Oh, and try not to do anything stupid in the meantime." With that Death was gone. He had disappeared from the room like he had never been here in the first place.
Jon decided to take Death´s advice and it didn't take him long to fall asleep.
When Jon woke up again, he felt much better. In fact, he couldn't remember feeling so well rested before in his life. But just like Death had promised, there was a pull. He could feel it deep inside him, it wanted him to go to the crypts. He knew as if by some vague instinct that if he ignored the pull, it would only get worse. Tonight, he promised himself, he would go down to the crypts when the castle slept and retrieve the eggs and hatch them. But first he had to break his fast and start his day.
He pulled himself from his bed and got dressed. Then then a thought struck him. He could see his family again. Uncle Ned, Robb and Rickon were all alive. Sansa, Arya and Bran would be there to.
He couldn't stop the smile from forming on his face. He had never been so excited before in his life. He was about to hurry out of his room and leave for the great hall, then he remembered the words of the Stranger. One of Death´s servants had left something under Jon´s bed. Worries started to creep up his spine and he couldn't help but wonder what Death had left for him.
He slowly walked over to the bed. What on earth could the Stranger have left under his bed for him? He got to his knees and looked under his bed. He half expected someone to jump from under it and yell "SURPIRSE". But that didn't happen, no, instead he saw a long chest under it. He tried his best to reach it, but he had to go to his belly and almost crawl under to get to it. He managed to reach for it and pull it from under the bed.
The chest itself wasn't very special, it was made of dark wood and it wasn't locked. When Jon opened the chest, he didn't realize what he was looking at for some time. He just stared at the object in wonder. It was the most beautiful sword he had ever seen, and he had possessed Longclaw for years. He picked up the sword, it was a little hard to do since he was still in his ten-year old body and the sword was large. But it was so perfect that he couldn't help himself.
This sword was in a class of its own. It was a hand and a half, a bastard sword like Longclaw, but the hilt was black as sin and had a large ruby on the pommel and the cross guard was made in the likeness of two dragons roaring in anger. The blade itself was Valyrian steel, all dark grey and black, sharp enough to cut through steel like a hot knife through butter.
It took him longer than he was proud of, to realize that this was the sword of Kings, Blackfyre. The sword that had helped starting the Blackfyre rebellions. The sword Aegon the dragon had carried in his conquest. All the Targaryen Kings had carried this sword until Aegon the Unworthy had given it to his bastard son.
And now it was his.
He couldn't believe it, he was holding the most famous sword in the world. He was holding the sword of Aegon Targaryen, the rider of Balerion the Black Dread. The very man that had united six of the seven kingdoms.
Jon didn't know how long he was kneeling on the floor and staring at the most beautiful blade he had ever seen. It wasn't until he heard the growling of his stomach that he knew he had to get something to eat. He put the blade reluctantly back into the chest. Then he put the chest under his bed. It didn't feel right to put Blackfyre under his bed. He wanted more than everything to strap it to his body and wear it proudly. But he knew he couldn't. It would be taken from him faster he could react. No one would let the ten-year old bastard of Lord Ned Stark keep the sword of the Targaryen kings. No, honorable Ned Stark would probably be the first in line to take the sword from his person. His uncle wouldn't want anyone thinking that Jon could be the son of Rhaegar Targaryen, and the sword would raise questions Jon couldn't answer.
After putting the sword back under the bed with great reluctance, he stood up and when to the great hall where he knew his family would be at this time of day, breaking their fast.
It felt strange to walk through the halls of Winterfell once again. There was no sign of the Ironborn or the Boltons. It was just like he remembered from his childhood. It felt like the home that it hadn't been after he and Sansa took it from Ramsey Snow. Perhaps it was because now he had the hope that when he would walk into the great hall, his family would be there.
When Jon retched the door of the great hall, he was stunned. He had known that his family would be there but knowing and seeing was not the same thing. His uncle sat at his usual place and was laughing at some antic of Arya´s and Bran´s. Robb was conversing with Theon Greyjoy, while Lady Stark, who was apparently pregnant with Rickon, was talking with Sansa.
It was strange to see them all again, when he left for the wall last time, he thought he would never see any of his family members again. But here they were, they were all younger than last he saw them.
Robb was a ten-year old again and there were no whiskers trying to grow on his face. The last time Jon had seen him, was when he had left Winterfell for the wall, Robb had been smiling at him and he had snowflakes in his hair. Theon was no longer the shade of himself he had been that he had seen on Dragonstone, No, this Theon Greyjoy was one that Jon could remember. This Theon was cocky and full of himself. Lord and lady Stark looked a few years younger than he had last seen them, but the people that had changed the most were Arya, Bran and Sansa.
Arya was once again the willful little girl he had known, she had to be around five-years old now. She was very different from the grown woman he had said goodbye to on the docks of King´s Landing. Gone was the cold killer she had grown up to be. She no longer sat perfectly still and watched everyone and everything without seemingly moving her eyes.
Bran was much the same, now he was the energetic little boy of four and not the cold unfeeling husk that only cared about having revenge on the Targaryen line. For the first time since Death had told him that Bran had died in that cave, did Jon realize that the thing that had come back with Meera to Winterfell, was not in fact Brandon Stark.
But the person Jon was most shocked to see was Sansa. This girl listening to her mother was not the woman he had known. And for the first time he realized the depth of her transformation from the spoiled little girl to the strong woman that had showed up at Castle Black. They had never been close as children but seeing her now really brought home the change that she had gone through. It was like looking at two completely different people. He could feel the shame creep up on him, how much suffering had it taken to change the little girl she was now into the woman she had become.
Jon took a deep breath to gather his nerves and walked quietly to the table and sat down between Robb and Bran.
"You are late, did you have a late night Snow?" Robb asked with a cheeky grin. His eyes were shining bright with mischief.
Jon gave a weak smile. "Sorry, just nightmares." He replayed, hoping that Robb would drop the conversation and talk about something else.
But Jon had not been lucky in his last life, and it looked like he wasn't going to be lucky in this life either. "What about?"
The best lies all have a grain of truth in them, Sansa had said to him once, when they had a quiet moment after they had retaken Winterfell.
"The dead coming back to life only to kill us all and a mad tyrant burning down King´s Landing from dragon back." That may have been too much because the silence following that statement was deafening. Jon looked around and everyone was staring at him. He forced a small smile on his face. "It was just a dream, nothing to worry about."
"I think you have been reading to many of the old legends before sleep, Jon." Robb said with a laugh. Jon forced himself to laugh with him and replied. "Yeah, I should probably switch to geography or economics."
Everyone turned back to their own conversations. All except one, his uncle was staring at him in suspicion. Jon hurried to finish eating, and then he followed Robb and Theon outside to the training yard. Jon had the feeling that this would be a long day.