Hello! Here is another fic I couldn´t keep out of my head. Hope you like it!
A song of ice and fire is not mine, is property of George R. R. Martin.
Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell was panting, nearly falling into the ground, when the scream reached his ear, waking him up. With new energy shooting up in his body, he raced upstairs, followed by Howland Reed, leaving the bodies of their fallen companions and dead Kingsguard behind in the sands of Dorne. The Tower of Joy wasn´t very tall, but for Ned it very well could be as high as the Eyrie, as the stair didn´t seem to end soon enough. Finally the men reached the sole room on the top, finding the room filled with winter roses.
"What…?" he asked, noticing his sister on the bed, covers red with blood, and the sole scared woman who was between her parted legs. For a second he considered cutting her with his sword when he noticed she wasn´t trying to hurt his sister. In fact, she was trying to help her.
"NED!" Lyanna screamed in obvious pain, gripping the sheets as she felt her forces slipping from her grasp. "Maester… tell me… a maester… you…"
"I… I didn´t bring any maester, I… I didn´t know…" the lord of the crannogman pushed his distressed liege lord out of his way. he received some medical training while he was studying in the Island of Faces, so he knew, at least in theory, how to birth a baby. It was something his teacher felt was important for him to learn, no matter what his opinion on the matter was. Or at least he would be of more help than the shell shocked Stark. Apologizing to the lady for the intrusion, he worked to save both mother and son. He quickly found the problem, it was a breech. The crannogman began to manipulate the belly to turn the child around. Finally, he managed to move the baby in the woman´s belly so the birth can continue.
"Oh… Au! I´m going to kill Robert Baratheon as soon as I can! I swear I will do!" screamed the girl when her son´s head crowned. Ned was miraculously woken up from his stupor at the sound of that claim.
"Robert did this?!"
"Of course not! I wouldn´t let this happened if it was… OH!" the young woman screamed over and over again, as the short man worked, her brother stood completely still in his corner like a terrified child and the midwife brought hot water and towels. The child arrived sooner than later, wailing his first few breaths into the world. Lyanna, exhausted, raised her weak arms towards her baby. "Give me my child… give me…"
"Here, my lady. Congratulations, it´s a boy" Howland said, letting the midwife clean the babe for a second and then putting him in his mother´s arms. Lyanna received her child into her arms, cooing weakly at him before covering it in a black blanket with a red three headed dragon. The crannogman smiled, trying not to let his sadness and distress show. The mother was still losing blood and there was nothing he could do. The sheets were…
"Ned…" the girl called weakly. "Ned…"
"I´m here" her brother answered, returning to live from the stone statue he had been before. He stared at his sister for a second, caressing her brown locks of hair. His hand rested for a second in the sheets, wet and red with her lifeblood, making his palm crimson when he lifted it again. He stared at it for a second. "Give her some water!"
"No… Ned… listen… listen to me…"
"Howland… Howland, can you do something? Please" unfortunately, the short man was out of luck. Lyanna caught her attention again. She was going to die, and soon. There was no time to lose, especially with her babe´s life on the line.
"Ned… Ned… listen to me, please, listen to…" she continued, catching his attention again. "Please listen to me" he grabbed her hand when she searched for his. "I didn´t… didn´t want to marry that whoremonger Robert… and Rhaegar… I loved him with all my hearth… and I love this baby" she said, balancing her tiny son in her arms. He was unusually quiet since his crying stopped, like… solemn. Too much for a babe barely a few minutes old. "You didn´t understood. No one did."
"I´m sorry" he said, not knowing what else he could say. It was true that Lyanna expressed her wishes to break the betrothal between her and the Baratheon thousands of times, but never in his wildest dreams would have he imagined that she would elope with the Silver Prince to avoid it. "Lya, I´m sorry, I´m so sorry" he continued with tears in his eyes. "For not listening to you, for not stopping father, for Rhaegar´s death… for… for… for everything…" he didn´t know what more to say. "Lya, I´m here to take you home, I will take both of you home"
"Ned… big brother… hear me" she demanded. She didn´t want to die, but she was sure her clock was ticking. "I want to be brave…"
"Brother, please" she breathed in, trying to resist. "Listen… my babe… his name is Jaeherys Targaryen" she listed the tiny form so his uncle could see him. The boy fixated his grey eyes on him, making Eddard gasp. "You have to protect him… Robert will kill him if… promise me, Ned. Promise me you will keep… my baby safe… promise me… promise me…"
"I promise" swore him. Lyanna smiled weakly, putting the babe in his arms. She breathed in a few more times, caressing her son´s soft brown hair, until she finally stopped. Her hand fall, signalling that she was finally dead. Ned fell to the ground in his knees, his nephew firmly held between his arms, wailing. The adult soon joined him, being left alone in the room with the infant.
"What was the prince thinking leaving her like that without a maester?" said Howland, looking down at the corpses of his fallen comrades and the Kingsguard. They were not supposed to die. No one was supposed to die.
"He thought… he thought he was going to arrive in time to take her to Starfall… for the birth"
"Rhaegar expected to arrive here in time from the Trident? He needed more geography lessons if he expected to…" a horse whining was suddenly heard, followed by a rider appearing in the horizon. The man wore a full armour, even with the blazing sun of Dorne over them. Reed grabbed his spear, pointing it at the man. This one took off his helmet, shaped in the form of an eagle. Or a griffin. "Lord Connington"
"What happened here?" asked the former Hand of King Aerys, looking around himself, then at the crannogman. "Ser Arthur, Ser Oswell and Ser Gerold…"
"They were Kingsguard until the end, even if it costed them their lives. All because they wouldn´t betray their prince´s secrets… just like you" the lord of the neck continued pointing at him. "I suppose you are not here to coach the lady through the birth, no?"
"I´m here to take her to Starfall to have her child, as I promised the prince in case he didn´t came back"
"Then you are a little bit late, the babe is already here. Lord Stark is with them now" Howland moved his spear a little. He wasn´t letting that man near his liege lord in full battle armour. "Surrender your weapons and armour, mi lord, and I will let you through."
"You…" Connington bit his tongue and gave the crannogman his weapons and armour. The man run upstairs as fast as he could, finding a grieving Eddard Stark over his sister´s body with a distressed bundle in his arms, which he barely could keep there. He didn´t know what to say. "Give the babe to me, Stark. I promised Rhaegar that I would make sure it lives."
"Jon Connington, what are you doing here?" asked Eddard, rising from his spot near Lyanna´s bed. His eyes were as icy as the name of his ancestor´s sword. "I supposed you were coming to take her to Pentos in the name of the bloody fool who led her to this place. Tell me, why should I hand you my nephew, who she entrusted to me? Or why should you live this place alive?"
"She gave birth earlier" explained the Griffin lord, sighing in exasperation. "I was supposed to have time to go to exile in Pentos, turn around secretly, secure Princess Elia´s children in Starfall and come here to take your sister there for her delivery" he crossed his arms, frowning. "I never imagined that she would give birth earlier."
"She felt downstairs when she found out the prince died" commented a comely female voice. They turned around and saw the midwife and Howland Reed there. She extended her arms towards the northern lord. "the little prince, please. He must be hungry and…"
"If someone is going to feed him, that´s going to be me" clarified Ned, glaring daggers at the redhead and dornishwoman. "Bring me the milk while I talk to Lord Connington here. Howland, please stay." They all sat down. "Now, what were you going to say about the royal children?"
In the next hour, they learned about the miraculous rescue the Griffin made on Rhaegar´s orders. Apparently, the babes that were murdered along with the princess in King´s Landing were doubles, as Jon used a secret passage to sneak the true kids all the way to Starfall before coming here to pick Lyanna´s babe. As he had to fake his exile to avoid getting killed by an enraged madman, he had to go all the way to Essos and return at full speed. By the end of the speech, lord Stark´s frown was the deepest he had ever seen.
"So… you came here to take my nephew to who knows where in Essos, no?" the northman said after hearing his history. "Because Rhaegar asked you to take his wives and children to exile in case he lost his life." The redhead nodded, not wanting to lose his breath with that fool. "And what of Princess Elia?"
"I told her of our plan, but she urged me to take the children and leave. Apparently, she believed that she was far too recognizable to be mistaken for a double and that the exchange wouldn´t work without her there."
"So she sacrificed herself to save her children. What a beautiful history you have there, Connington" the northman answered. "And my sister…"
"She wasn´t to give birth yet" answered the man, crossing his arms. Howland and Eddard understood immediately. That fateful fall downstairs changed everything. "I wasn´t supposed to arrive too late."
"My lord" Howland Reed intervened in that moment, trying to prevent any form of fight between the two men. They both wanted to take the babe with them and weren´t about to back down, but the fact was that the three of them were committing high treason just by being in this place, a crime punishable by death, and if they took too much time, the mighty stag might get bored enough to follow them there. If he found the baby or evidence of his existence… "I would advice you to make this decision in another place. The infant will need a wetnurse soon enough and the Lady a Silent Sister."
"Lord Reed, I know that, but…"
"Decisions could be taken in another time, in another place. Perhaps after you sent a letter to your friend, King Robert, announcing your sister´s death. That would dampen his spirits enough to avoid him following us" The crannogman continued, making Eddard bite his lip. His bannerman was talking with wisdom, but even so… he didn´t want to move right now. Not after losing his little sister. "My Lord, once you are with a clearer mind, you will have painful things to do. Decisions need to be taken, and fast, to assure this child´s survival. Do you understand me?"
"I can´t leave here… not now…" said Ned, fighting to avoid breaking down crying. His forebearers would frown upon him if he dared to stain the honour of the Starks by crying in front of an enemy like Jon Connington.
"You can have until tomorrow, milord, but no more. By break of dawn, we should depart towards…"
"Starfall" finished the griffin for him. "It has to be Starfall. Lady Dayne is an old acquaintance of yours, so you find her trustworthy enough to use the wetnurse she would provide for her. And she is also a loyalist, so much that she let me use her port and castle to secure the Targaryen children before smuggling them to Essos." Eddard nodded. That sounded like something Ashara would do, especially for her dearest friend Elia. "It´s also distant enough for our heads to cool off on the way there."
"Then Starfall it is" announced Howland, glad that they reached a compromise. He then pulled on Connington´s clothes and dragged him by the arm outside. The Griffin stared strangely at the crannogman while they walked down the stairs, into the body littered desert around the Tower. There Reed gave him a shovel. "You could have done something. You were a brother to him, you should have tried to talk some sense into him."
"Well, I´m not the only brother who could have done the same, no? Or friend" the redhead glared at him, then sighed, beginning to dig graves. "Does he knew what really happened at Harrenhal?"
"No, and now I will make sure he DOESN´T know"
"Come on, he should. Then he would know what kind of man his DEAR friend is" for a second, the lord of Greywater Watch felt tempted to do exactly that, especially for Lady Lyanna, but then he remembered what they were about to do, what exactly was at the Tower.
"It doesn´t matter now. Robert Baratheon IS King, there is nothing more to say" said the short man, not really convinced. Damming the day he knew the mighty stag, Howland remembered the events that led to this very same tower. And no, it was not the infamous Winter Rose Coronation Day. It was the night before…
-Flashback to Harrenhal-
"… no, really, Benjen. I can find my own chambers by myself" Lyanna Stark walked through the corridors with her brother and Howland Reed, trying to find the way out. After the whole joust and chasing fiasco, all she wanted to do was crash on her bed and sleep. The other two were also tired, but also worried about her safety. And how could she not be? The King himself declared her an enemy! That meant something… well, it could if anyone but them knew she was the mystery knight. Still…
"Lya, it´s no problem, I´m also full and…"
"My dear Lyanna!" a terribly drunk Robert Baratheon stepped in sight. Both Starks scrunched up their noses and the crannogman´s eyes went wide. This was the man Lord Rickard wanted his daughter to marry? His quiet second son´s best friend? Seriously? He knew the man was boisterous, but… "Great to find you here!"
"I´m tired, I´m going to sleep" answered the woman coldly. Her betrothed was not to her liking, that was obvious. And his smell of wine was also "Good night, Lord Baratheon."
"Come on, don´t be so cold with me" the man approached her and her companions, grabbing her by the arm. It was obvious that he was using too much strength, as the lady bit back a pained sound. "We are betrothed; we should be knowing each other more intimately."
"Let me go, you drunkard" said the girl, struggling against him.
"You heard her, let my sister go" Benjen got in the middle, already packing a punch to protect his sister. Unfortunately, the Baratheon was less than receptive when in drunken state. So much that he could punch the full grown Eddard into the floor. Just like poor little Benjen was about to find out.
"Lyanna… let´s put ourselves more comfortable…"
"Unhand me, you brute!" she struggled more, hitting the Stormlord over the head. "I don´t know what you think of me, but I´m not one of your whores to open my legs for you. Not now and not ever. You are not my husband to demand that of me…"
"We don´t have to wait until the wedding, I will still…"
"I don´t care! Leave me alone!"
The corridor was a mess of screams and struggling now, with Robert struggling with Lyanna, who was fighting with all her might, scratching and biting, while Benjen and Howland tried to overpower the mighty stag. Both of them were thinking the same: How could Lord Rickard want his daughter to marry a man that would dishonour her? They didn´t have much time for more, because that man punched them into the floor. The next thing the both of them heard was a scream and cloth ripping, as Lyanna´s dress was ripped, nearly leaving her breasts bare. Benjen saw red…
"Leave the lady alone!" another person came in defence of Lyanna. It was Rhaegar, who passed nearly over the youngest Stark to push his enraged cousin away from her. "Now, milord, you should rethink your behaviour around…"
"Don´t tell me what to do, you girly silver prick!" the Baratheon answered. The prince raised an eyebrow. That was no way to talk to the future King. "She is my betrothed! I will behave with her as I want!" the black haired man grabbed him by his shirt. "You better walk out of here and…"
"I would never leave a lady defenceless" the two soon engaged into a fistfight, one which Benjen eagerly joined after picking himself up from the floor. Thanks to his drunkenness, Robert´s punches were easy to dodge, but he was still a foe to be reckoned with. Rhaegar and Benjen were about to be sent to the floor when there was a crash and the Stormlord became limp. He felt to the floor with an audible sound. They all stared then at Lyanna, who now held an antique stone vase, which she used to hit the Lord Paramount over the head.
"Is he dead?" she asked, a little bit worried. Killing a Lord Paramount was a crime punishable with death, something she didn´t want to face, but at the same time, that could very well liberate her from the awful betrothal.
"I don´t think so" answered the Targaryen, feeling his cousin´s neck. "Let´s just thank that he has an awfully thick head" said Rhaegar, turning to Lady Lyanna. Upon realising her state, he blushed and lowered his gaze, untying his cloak to offer it to her. "We should stop meeting like this, mi lady."
"Yes, we should" she said, covering herself, blushing. This was the second time the prince helped her to escape a horrible man, so excuse her for acting like a damsel in distress. She stared at the stag. "We should get out of here, he is going to wake up sooner or later."
"Sure…" they all were silent as they retreated to the lady´s tent… at least part of the way. "I can´t believe your father is planning to give you to such a man, milady. You deserve better"
"I know" Benjen answered. Howland and him were furious, but not as much as Lyanna herself. "If only I could find a way to break that betrothal…"
"You can´t… but we can do something" realised the prince, suddenly having an idea. "I will write a letter to Lord Rickard about Lord Baratheon´s shameful behaviour towards your person, milady, and sign it with my signature and seal. Lord Benjen and Lord… Reed can add their signatures as witnesses to the event."
"Thank you, it would mean a lot to me" they all smiled. In that moment they believed it was all going to be alright, but the next day Rhaegar crowned Lyanna and all the smiles died, making the four rethink about that previous statement…
-End of the Flashback-
Lord Reed returned to reality the moment they left the Tower of Joy with little Jaeherys in the wetnurse´s arms. In that moment they underestimated Lord Rickard´s desire for power and the feelings being borne between Rhaegar and Lyanna, not knowing of the tragedy that was about to befall them… but that poor creature… he didn´t deserved to bear the brunt of their sins. Nor he deserved the fate that awaited him as a bastard in Winterfell.
That was why, a few days later, seeing Connington disappear in a ship with the little prince and Wylla, he knew that it was the right thing to do. After all, in Essos he would be with family.
What do you think? I always wondered what would have happened had Griff been the one to raise Jon instead of Ned. Perhaps he would have been more confident... or not? And Aegon and Rhaenys, I also wanted to try imagining how it could have been with them growing up with Jon. I don´t plan on keeping the Stark children completely out of the history, but... well, later you are going to understand. Just don´t hate me when a plot twist happened. Review!