Author's Note: I'm still officially on hiatus as of right now, but as a thank you for getting me past 500 reviews, I took the time yesterday to write out this chapter. Hopefully it can tide everyone over for a little while until I can get back to Amarah and Jaime's story full time!
Jon Snow had been expecting to find destruction and devastation when riding through the gates of his childhood home at Winterfell. He had expected to find many things, but there was one thing he could never have anticipated. He could have never predicted to find his cousin, Amarah Baratheon as proud and unforgiving as all the Baratheons before her, in the company of Jaime Lannister, the hated Kingslayer.
His shock rendered him speechless at first, finding his cousin with Lannister standing between them like a protective lion defending its helpless cubs. Though it did not escape Jon's notice that there was nothing paternal in the way the Kingslayer looked at Amarah.
Jon recalled the last time he had stood in this courtyard with his cousin. He remembered the press of her lips on his cold cheek as she wished him well on his journey to the wall. Now that moment seemed almost in another lifetime. Certainly, they were no longer the people they were then. Then they would have embraced warmly at seeing one another again, but in this moment they only eyed each other with the wary distrust of strangers. Perhaps their cold greeting proved more of a shock to Jon than finding a Lannister standing between them.
Oblivious or uncaring of Jon's shock at finding him there, Kingslayer gave him a condescending look that seemed very at home on his handsome face. "You're quite some distance from the wall, Lord Commander."
Jon did not miss the patronizing way Lannister emphasized his title, but being accustomed to such scorn by now, he refused to rise to the bait. "As are you from the capitol, Kingslayer," Jon returned his greeting while swinging down from his horse. Once he had both feet planted firmly on the ground, he approached the waiting lion.
"Are we to hear a reason for this visit, or are we meant to guess its purpose without any assistance from you?" Jaime asked him in a cutting tone.
Jon tipped the corner of his mouth upwards in the slightest hint of a smirk. "It's no mystery why I am here. Stannis sent word to the wall before your siege of the keep. He asked my assistance in retaking the fort from the Boltons, and as this home is dearer to me than any place in Westeros, I agreed to come. However, he made no mention in his letter of your presence here."
"Nor will he," Jaime responded, the smugness in his eyes now replaced by a speculative gleam. "Lord Stannis is dead."
Jon's smirk promptly died, and his gaze snapped to the pale girl standing just beyond Jaime's broad shoulders. He looked to her for confirmation of the Baratheon lord's death. "This is true?"
The regret in Amarah's eyes confirmed the truth before her words. "Yes, at the Bolton bastard's hand."
"This is unexpected news," Jon replied in a hollow voice.
His mind scrambled to make sense of what he had just heard. He had no affection for Lord Stannis, but his death would cause more harm than help in retaking the north. With Stannis as a figure for the men of the North to follow, they would have been united behind a common leader once again. His death would only mean more confusion and chaos for the people of these lands.
"This distresses you, Lord Commander?" Jaime's comment recaptured Jon's attention, and he looked up to find the blonde knight eyeing him with that same speculative gleam.
Still unsure of whether this man was his ally or foe, Jon knew he would have to choose his words with care. "I expected Stannis to retake the fort and, by doing so, earn the respect of the Stark family followers. With him dead, who can they follow now?"
"They will follow the Stark who rightfully belongs here," Amarah answered in Jaime's place, finally moving towards Jon from her protected position behind Kingslayer. "Whatever you were led to believe at the wall, Jon, there is still a Stark who can sit in Winterfell."
"I am not a Stark, Amarah," Jon replied, misinterpreting the meaning behind her words. "Even if I were a true son of Eddard Stark, the men of the Watch can inherit no lands."
At that, Jon saw Amarah smile for the first time since he rode through the gates, and she reached out to clasp his gloved hand in hers. "I wasn't talking about you, Jon. Sansa has come home, and she will be the one to unite the men of the North once more."
Jon's eyes rounded in shock and he opened his mouth to respond but could not think of anything to say. He had sacrificed much in coming here to retake Winterfell from the Boltons, the respect of half his men being the main loss as a result of his actions. A moment ago, he feared that those sacrifices had been made in vain, but with this news, he began to feel a spark of hope flame to life again. If it was true that his sister had somehow managed to arrive back at Winterfell, he would gladly welcome her there with open arms.
"As enlightening as this discussion has become," Jaime Lannister interrupted the conversation between cousins, "Lady Amarah needs to see to her wounds inside the keep."
At his reminder of Amarah's bloodied state, Jon felt a touch of shame that he had not been the one to insist that she should be inside being tended to instead of out in the cold discussing politics. "Forgive me, Amarah," Jon begged her pardon. "He is right. We will talk of all this later."
He expected to see the defiance in her eyes that would often rear its head when she was ordered around. Instead, she nodded her head in compliance with the request and turned to signal a guard to her. "Sansa will be here before nightfall," she quickly informed him before taking her leave. "We will discuss all that needs to be done when she arrives. Until then, I would only ask that you both attempt to behave courteously with one another."
With her pointed look in the direction of Jaime Lannister, it was no great mystery who she suspected of exhibiting discourteous behavior. If Jon had expected Kingslayer to respond with a sarcastic remark, he was bound to be disappointed. The other man simply inclined his head in acceptance of her request before she left them both standing the midst of the corpses strewn throughout the courtyard.
Jon kept his eyes trained on Kingslayer during Amarah's departure, but he noticed Lannister did not return the look until Amarah was completely gone from sight. "Well, Commander," Jaime turned to Jon with a mockingly serious voice, "what polite topic should we indulge in?"
There was only one topic Jon was interested in discussing at present. "Perhaps we can begin with how you convinced my cousin to align herself with you."
"Of course," Jaime didn't miss a beat in replying. "And then you can tell me how the bastard of Ned Stark found himself the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. That promises to be an even more interesting tale than mine."
Jon doubted if that would prove to be the case, but he nodded his head in agreement.
"Good," Lannister responded immediately. "However, I think we would be more comfortable exchanging these tales inside the less dank cold of the keep."
He started in the direction of the entrance only to notice Jon did not move to follow him. A mirthless laugh escaped him at the bastard boy's show of distrust. "You may bring as many men inside as you wish. Even if I was of a mind to kill you, which I am not, I've had my fill of bloodshed for the day. You are perfectly safe from me."
Jon wasn't sure he believed that but motioned for his men to follow him inside. When Kingslayer saw that he had Jon's cooperation, he continued with his trek through the mud. As Jon followed behind, he watched the fading light of day glint off the golden armor decorating Kingslayer's back.
In a move that was too subtle for anyone else to notice, he moved his palm to rest on the hilt of his sword. He hoped he would have no reason to use the weapon, but neither would he lower his defenses. Robb Stark had made the mistake of trusting the wrong men, and it had cost him the war. Jon had no intention of repeating his brother's mistake.
Amarah winced as she stuck her large toe into the steaming water in the large, wooden tub. The heat scalded her chilled skin, but she gritted her teeth against the discomfort and added her other leg to the tub before sinking down. With the steaming water up to her chin, Amarah sighed with content and pulled her knees to her chest before resting her chin on them. Looking up at Brienne, Amarah thanked her for her assistance in cleaning her wounds.
"You will be well on your own?" Brienne asked her before cleaning up the bloodied rags they had used to soak up the blood caked on Amarah's skin.
Amarah smiled in response and leaned back to rest her head on the edge of the tub. "I believe so. Tell Jaime when he has finished his discussion with Jon, he can find me here."
"There's no need."
Amarah's eyes opened to find Jaime gazing at her with a fond expression from across the room. After going some hours without hearing from him, she doubted whether she would see him again before the meal that evening. She was glad to be proved wrong.
"You may leave us," Jaime instructed Brienne with a jerk of his head. "Alert us as soon as Clegane returns with the Stark girl."
"My lord," Brienne obeyed the command with a bow and departed through the open door.
Once they were both alone, Amarah closed her eyes again with a satisfied smile as she heard the metal latch on the door fall into place with a heavy click. "What did you find out from Jon?" she asked Jaime while still keeping her eyes closed.
"It seems he was made commander of the Watch by a vote of the men once Lord Mormont was killed in a wilding attack. He never intended to leave the wall for the skirmish between Stannis and the Bolton bastard, but he received word of an attack and chose to defend this keep rather than remain at the wall. He was accompanied here by men both from the Watch and wilding forces from beyond the wall that chose to follow him of their own volition. Though he doesn't regret the decision to ride against the Boltons, he says the choice might have stripped him of his new title of Commander."
Amarah's eyes flew open at that piece of unwelcome news. "But why?"
She didn't see Jaime at first and jumped slightly at the feel of his hand resting on her bare shoulder. Amarah realized he must have moved behind her while spelling out Jon's history with the Night's Watch. "He has broken his vows to come here," Jaime informed her softly while kneeling down on the hard stone to bring him eye level with her. "Other leaders at Castle Black do not look too kindly on a young upstart who flouts their vows to enter in struggles that are not his responsibility."
"But Jon is a member of this family," Amarah argued in defense of her cousin. "Are his vows more important than defending the North against the treachery of Roose Bolton and his vile son?"
Jaime slid his hand from her shoulder to her chin in order to tip her mouth towards his. "I am not the best man with whom to discuss the importance of vows," Jaime reminded her softly, his breath tickling the soft skin of her lips. He pressed a brief kiss to her mouth before giving voice to another thought. "Seeing you like this reminds me of the last time we shared a bath together."
Amarah felt her breath quicken at his mention of their revealing moment in the bath houses of Harrenhal. "I thought we were discussing Jon," she tried unsuccessfully to bring his mind back to the discussion at hand.
"Were we?" Jaime murmured absently before pressing another kiss to her waiting mouth.
As his lips caught gently at hers, Amarah felt the hand under her chin begin a slow descent down the skin at her throat before coming to rest on her left breast. Jaime pulled back from their kiss then to look at the place where his hand rested. Amarah kept her eyes trained on his face as she saw the lust in his gaze darken to anger when he traced his thumb lightly against one of the shallow cuts Ramsey's knife had left on her skin.
"I should have killed him myself."
Amarah reached out to clasp his face and move his darkened gaze back to her face. "We have nothing to fear from him anymore," she reminded him with a soft smile, attempting to erase his look of frustration. "Let's forget him now," she breathed softly, moving Jaime's lips back to hers before taking her fill of him.
To her satisfaction, it seemed Jaime was willing to comply as he returned her kiss with equal interest. Amarah became so lost in their kiss that she didn't feel at first where his hand had moved. Once the thought had registered, her eyes popped open again in surprise. "Jaime!" she jerked back from him with a gasp. "We don't have time for-"
"Don't waste your strength trying to dissuade me," Jaime interrupted her reprimand with a lazy smile. By now his fingers had slipped easily inside the place where he wanted them most, and Amarah found herself gasping again for a much different reason.
"That's it, Princess," Jaime crooned softly against her ear as his fingers continued their pleasant torture. "Soon enough, we'll have to return to the game of politics and treachery. Let us make the most of these fleeting moments of pleasure when we can."
Entranced by the magical cadence of his words, Amarah felt herself relax against him to welcome the respite he offered from the chaos that surrounded them. He was right. Soon enough they would have to return to the reality of war and death, but for now, she would forget all of that. In that moment, the world around her narrowed only to the two of them in this candlelit chamber.
She only wished things could stay that way forever.
Just as a reminder, I've tweaked things from ADWD that impacted Jon's storyline, so don't be confused if you've read the books and it doesn't match up with what you read here. Things are different here to better incorporate Jon with Jaime and Amarah's story.
Next chapter expect an interesting family meal and a bit of San/San added back into the mix. I'm not making any promises, but I am trying to finish up another project in order for me to get back to this full time by the time the show airs in April. So keep your fingers crossed! Thanks as always for reading and any follows/reviews would be very welcome! Till next time!