Author's Note: So this Story is wildly AU. I'm definitely coloring outside the lines here and taking a few liberties. Warnings: As stated in tags, this story will contain Major Character Deaths, Rape, Underage, Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Disturbing situations, Incest. There are also spoilers for ADWDs. This story in the tradition of GRRM is NOT gum drops and rainbows. There is heavy dark content. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. There might be some OOC moments.
Summary: The story will start 6 years after the last events from ADWD. Some of the events will be the same, others will be different. The timeline for some of the major character events will be slower moving.
Changes: Sansa: Never married Tyrion. Bran and Rickon: Are at the Wall hiding with Jon. Theon: has escaped Ramsay & Roose Bolton and made his way to the Iron Islands during Abel's murders. Roose Bolton: has taken Winterfell for his own NOT Ramsay. Walda died in child birth, so it is ROOSE not RAMSAY that has claimed to have married Arya Stark. Mance has not gone to Winterfell. Jon is not hiding out in an ice cave and has yet to be attacked. Dany: didn't marry Hizdahr. Aegon: hasn't made his way across the Narrow Sea.
GRRM owns everything and is a genius.
Thank you for reading! Enjoy!
Things that make us someone...
(11 years previous)
At two and ten he was already taller than Old Griff. Lean muscles had begun to fill out his frame, his jaw line becoming more pronounced. The gangly features of childhood slowly being shed.
"Must we do this?"
"Yes," Septa Lemore answered softly, dipping his head further back into the wash bowl, lathering in the last few drops of blue dye.
The Shy Maid tossed slightly causing water to splash out of the basin onto her beige linen garb.
"Will we ever get off this ship?"
Why he bothered to ask he didn't know. He hardly knew any different. His whole life had been spent on the Shy Maid, populated with Septa Lemore, Old Griff, Rolly and few others. When he was a child, he used to think it normal to live on water surrounded by adults two to three times his own age.
But times when they would dock, go upon shore for food or to camp intermittently, he was clued into the truth. Most didn't live as they did. He'd watch children in the streets, clinging to their parents, fighting with their siblings, feeling an instinctive pull to be like them. The sharp pang of jealousy for what they had. However, he knew there was a reason they were allowed to play in the market, not dye their hair or lie about their names. They were just children and he'd be a king.
"Will you ever stop asking so many questions?"
Popping his head up, blue droplets dripped down his neck onto his tunic. Even with a sour look on his face, Jon felt a sharp twinge when looking at the boy's expression. He looked so much like his father. In so many ways a mirror image of Rhaegar.
"Will you ever answer them?"
"Mayhaps if you ask the right questions." Pointing down to the map of Westeros he started, "House Tully, what are their words?"
"Family, Duty, Honor."
"And who is the head of their house?"
"And his children's names?"
"Lady Lysa and Lady Catelyn, Lord Edmure."
"To whom are they wed?"
"Lord Arryn of the Vale and Lord Eddark Stark of Winterfell."
"And what are the Stark's words?"
He faltered for a moment, although he knew the answer, "winter is coming," causing Jon Connington (Old Griff) to pause. As much as he tried to nullify the feelings that name produced, his efforts remained unsuccessful. The boy's curiosity and bitterness still lingering.
"And Lord Eddark Stark, his father's name?"
"Rickard Stark, burned to death by my grandfather Aerys II, for treason. His son Brandon Stark, strangled to death for treason. Benjen Stark, now First Ranger at the Wall and Eddark Stark, Lord of Winterfell. His daughter Lyanna Stark..." he stopped taking a brief moment, "never wed. Fled to the Tower of Joy, with my father. Where she died after the Battle of the Trident, in child birth."
"And her child?"
"My brother... believed to be alive, living in Winterfell as Jon Snow, Lord Stark's bastard."
"Her child," Jon corrected, "believed to be dead. May have possibly lived and perhaps is surviving in Winterfell as a base born child."
"Has lived," Aegon challenged, "Is Jon Snow, living in Winterfell."
Young Aegon's favorite argument, Jon Connington knew where this would lead. No matter how hard he tried to instill a sense of indifference in the boy, he refused to let it take. He was too passionate, much like his father. And too fixated on the idea of having a brother, to allow room for a reasonable discussion on the matter.
In an effort to change the subject, he attempted, "And your mother's House, House Martell?"
"Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken..." Aegon toweled the remnants of blue water from his hair, his gaze poignantly focused on the northern boarders drawn on the map. He'd heard the story hundreds of times. Listened to Old Griff attempt to dispassionately describe an entire series of events that lead him to this place: an orphan, exiled and on the run. But still he never tired of it. Reworking each piece continuously over in his mind. He had a brother. His name was Jon.
"And House Gre-"
"Did he love her?"
Looking up from the map, Jon answered, "Your father had a certain affection for your mother. They were fond of one another."
"No, I mean HER."
He must have subtly tried to ask this question close to a dozen times in his life and each time, Old Griff cautiously avoided answering.
Pulling a book from the stack, he flipped through the pages laying it open. After a few moments he looked up, feeling the boy's attention closely focused on him, waiting for his answer.
Sighing, he replied, "Love is for fools, boy. Remember that."
Septa Lemore, cleared her throat in the corner of the small cabin room, "And pride is for the wicked."
Eyeing the Septa, as she peered back down at her sowing, he continued, "I don't know if he was so much in love as bewitched by her. Your father was a good man. An honorable man. But what he did was foolish and careless. He had a duty…."
"To my mother?"
"Well, yes to your mother, but to his station, his principles. A man is nothing without his principles, you remember that."
"Did he love her?" Aegon repeated, more insistently.
Old Griff stopped, considering how likely it was he could again change the subject. Knowing full well that it was doubtful. If he avoided it today, the boy would ask tomorrow and the next day, along with everyone after. Until he finally got his answer. Aegon was nothing if not patient when need be and even more persistent.
"In the beginning, I couldn't tell you. But in the end… he must have."
"Only a fool in love would cause so much suffering without thought for the consequences."
Silence blanketed the room, Aegon lost in thoughts of Westeros, a place far away he might never see. A land that should be his. The family that he should have had and the idea that one mistake could have changed it all forever.
"What was she like?"
"Lyanna Stark? Wild, young, forbidden and dangerous…." His last few words ominous, hanging in the air, conjuring up images of some unearthly creature. Like the ones in fairytales and legends Old Griff used to tell him when he was still a small child.
"Enough of the House Stark. You need not know any more of them, except to stay away."
Jon Connington spoke of the old house as if it were a curse from the gods and all whom were born within its walls were poisonous.
"On to figures…."
Aegon knew not what to make of the House Stark. Surely Old Griff would not lie to him. Lyanna Stark must have been some type of witch to lure his father from his mother, family and birth right.
But Jon… he had to be different.
Aegon had a brother. His name Jon Snow. He was part Stark and he was alive. No one could tell him different.
Aegon and Dany
(3 years previous)
She looked so strikingly similar to him, that he was stunned.
"Prince Aegon, I meet you at last."
Taking his seat next to Jon Connington, Aegon caught Jon's eyes, warning him to be careful. They'd come with a plan. One they had to be sure to not stray away from. To Aegon's relief, Daenery's Stormborn was just as beautiful as every rumor he had ever heard. He'd been preparing himself for this moment for close to two years, since her identity was confirmed.
He'd wed Daenery's Targaryen as their ancestors did. And together they would take back Westeros.
"What a pleasant surprise to finally meet my nephew. And to what do I owe this honor?"
"My Lady, we have come to speak to you of the future."
"Future? Mine or yours?" With an amused look on her face it was apparent that Daenerys was well aware of their quest before they arrived on her doorstep. Her attractive nephew had come for a wife, for dragons and for a kingdom.
Their relationship would be mutually beneficial, he needed her dragons and she needed to eliminate contenders. He was first in line before her. If they fought for the same throne they'd split their allies, not benefiting either of their interests.
"Both of ours," Aegon replied. "As you are aware, the war of Westeros has been raging for over nine years. Tommen Baratheon is born of incest, the Lannister's forces are divided, the northern kingdom is in ruin. House of Stark with no known living member. Renly Baratheon is dead and Stannis Baratheon cowers in the north."
When Daenerys failed to respond, Jon Connington interjected, "Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons, there is not a better time to strike for the Iron Throne. There is not a single force to stand against a real united army-"
"To stand against my army, my dragons."
"We also have our own men, Khaleesi." She had always wondered if he had lived, what Aegon would have looked like. He was so much more appealing than Viserys. And for a moment she felt a small wave of embarrassment for looking at him with such a discerning eye.
What should it matter if he was attractive or not?
Leaning forward, Aegon touched Dany's hand, "They are the children of our ancestors. There are three-"
"And there are two of us."
"So you have heard the prophecy?"
"The prophecy of old, your brother believed it was written that when ice and fire met there would be a three headed dragon that staved off darkness of the never ending night. He believed his children would bring dragons back to Westeros."
Her dream from the House of the Undying.
"And now he is dead along with Viserys and only I have brought dragons back from extinction."
With her Khal gone, Daenerys Stormborn may still be the blood of the dragon but she was no longer a Khaleesi. Her bravado almost humorous. Here such a tiny woman attempted to command the room, talked as if she could conquer anywhere. But without her dragons, she wouldn't last a moment in battle. She was small, unskilled with blade, unknowledgeable in the art of warfare, the tongues of her own people, of Valeria, and more than likely the complex politics of Westeros.
She wasn't born to be a queen. She was born to be a vessel for Viserys. Where Aegon had been trained since childhood, Daenerys was only now beginning to play catch up.
Her pride, vastly outpacing her abilities, knowledge and political savvy.
"Yes, you have. But there are three dragons..."
"And only two of us still alive," motioning between herself and Aegon.
"No. There is a third. You have another nephew."
"Son of Viserys? I highly doubt that."
"No. Not son of Viserys, son of Rhaegar and Lyanna."
"Rhaegar never fathered a third child before he died."
How little she knew. Aegon wondered if Viserys had even bothered to educate her of the history of the rebellion before he passed.
"That's what you have been told. But it is not true. Rhaegar and Lyanna had a child, a child that Ned Stark took home to Winterfell and raised as a son."
"All the Starks are dead."
Patiently, Aegon continued, "All the Starks are presumed dead. The bastard son of Ned Stark, the true son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, Jon Snow, is reported to be alive. Taking the black and serving these past five years at The Wall."
"A third dragon…" Her voice trailed off as she looked into the distance, lost in her own thoughts.
"Yes Daenerys, a third dragon and a man of the north, a man of the Wall and the only living Stark, one of the oldest families of Westeros. The Starks have held their lands, their people and their forces for a thousand years."
"Until they died out like relics of The Wall, I do not need a history lesson from you, Jon Connington. I am well aware of the House of Stark and their place in history."
"Then you are aware that to take and hold Iron Throne you will need more than an army of soldiers and two dragons. You need a third, a prince of the people," Aegon replied.
Settling back in her seat, Dany was silent, considering his words before finally turning to Aegon, "Nephew, it is only you and I. We are the last of our House. Do you believe that this Jon Snow is a dragon?"
"I do, Daenerys. He is our third dragon and with him we will take back what was always ours."
"How do we know that Jon Snow will be compliant? How do we know that he is a true dragon?"
"Your brother told me, before his passing that Lyanna was with child. I have made inquiries over the years. He was raised a Stark bastard. Who else would help him avenge the death of his assumed father, his true father and his siblings? This man will hold no alliances with a family that killed both his natural born and foster family."
So caught up in the moment were they, that they had yet to address the other issue of their visit. The binding clause in the plan. This should be the moment where Aegon should say something. He could feel Jon Connington waiting for it, partially annoyed that he had bothered to elaborate on Jon Snow. Daenerys, not to his knowledge, was leaning forward expecting the proposal.
The words stuck in his mouth on the tip of his tongue. Something didn't feel right. She was beautiful, an asset and a better wife than enemy. Targaryens had been marrying brother to sister for generations. Had the Usurper never taken his father's throne, he and Daenerys likely would have wed. But he found himself unwilling to ask. Two years, building to this moment, knowing for as long as he could remember that he would marry Daenerys if she was indeed still alive and if not her another political marriage, Arianne Martell perhaps.
Something didn't feel right, for whatever reason he felt an unexplainable reservation. As if he should wait.
There would be plenty of time for proposals and marriage contracts.
"Will you join us Daenerys?"
After a long pause, she responded, "Yes. I will but Jon Snow must comply."
"I will go to him. I will speak to him myself."
"Bring him to the shores of the Narrow Sea and I will meet you with an army."
Jon Connington would curse his foster son afterward for failing to do as they planned.
"You should have never mentioned the bastard. You know not even if he is real. You should have asked for her hand as we discussed. She would have agreed. Daenerys Targaryen needs you just as much as you, her. Now you've sent yourself on a fruitless hunt while their power grows."
"I couldn't. It didn't feel right. I must find Jon first."
"And if you don't? If he is not your brother?"
"He is, I know it. I've seen it in my dreams."
"Dreams, things for fools and beggars."
He knew no matter what he said Aegon would not be swayed. Finally relenting, Old Griff embraced him hard enough to crack ribs. A fatherly gesture, as his child left for home, prepared for the future they'd been building to for years.
Aegon didn't know it then, but that would be the last time he talked to Jon Connington. A year later he succumbed to an illness he'd never revealed to him, he had.
If Aegon had known it was the last time, he may not have left. Torn between the family that he had made and the one that was always his.
In the years that followed after that moment, he'd always wish he'd stayed a little longer. Asked one more question. Spent a little more time with the man that raised him.
Usually they would go months without each other's company. In the five years since forsaking her old life and entering the House of Black and White, Arya had held on to little from before, except Needle, which she kept hidden and a few cherished childhood memories that she could not snuff from her mind. Jaqen was a bridge from her old life to new.
Tonight when he entered her room, as silent as a ghost, he caught her crouched in the corner. Dressed in night clothes, she diligently polished her sword. In the flickering of the dim light, Arya or No One, as she had been for years, smiled upon the familiar face.
"You've come for a visit?"
"I thought the girl would be interested in a spar, but it seems that will not happen."
Motioning to the stone bench across from her, No One answered, "Not this evening. An appointment awaits tomorrow."
Pulling a cloth from his own tunic, he sat and silently attended his own weapon. A long stretch of time passed in the silence of the room before No One started,"May I ask something of you?"
"The girl wishes to be relieved of the morrow's appointment?"
"No." Setting down her sword, the metal bounced off stone, the noise reverberating throughout the room.
"I am equipped to perform the duty assigned."
"The kill is not what you fear?"
"This is not my first."
"So young and already a professional?"
"I do not fear anything," she snapped.
In the years that Arya had lived in the House of Black and White she'd only begun to train as an assassin after three, learning to mix and use poisons, continuing her schooling on how to use a blade. Eventually culminating in how to kill.
Setting down his own weapon, she now had his full attention. "Then why would the girl move so gracelessly? Has your training been forgotten? A faceless man does not yell. His blade is his words. A faceless man does not make careless noise. Only lifeless bodies fall without care or grace."
"Jaqen ..." Arya attempted to make her voice sound as diplomatic as possible. A Faceless Man should not have fears or weaknesses: areas of inexperience or ignorance. She would be quick and to the point. She would not let herself be some pathetic girl who wished for soft words and an overly affectionate touch. It would be done and void of emotion.
"You have my full attention, No One. What is it that you wish of me?"
"I wish for you to lay with me. Take my maidenhead and let me be done with childhood."
The silence again stretched between them. Arya had expected some sort of reaction. She didn't know whether he was appalled, confused or hadn't heard her.
"I cannot go to a brothel and pretend to be a whore if I do not even know what it is like to lay with a man."
"But you will not lay with the body from which you will steal life."
"No, but to be No One, I need to have nothing that can be taken from me. It's the last thing l have to attach me to someone, whom is not No One and is of little importance to me anyhow."
"Then it will not matter whether it is present or not."
At five and ten Arya was a far cry from the boyish girl that Jaqen had smuggled from Harrenhal. Still small, her body had produced breasts and hips. Her facial features had softened with age. Her once pixie hair now scaled down her back.
However, in the House of Black and White she should not be a woman, or even a man. Still, Jaquen was keenly aware that No One was still someone. And although not a classic beauty, there was something undeniably comely about his friend.
"Jaqen, I ask you to do this as a favor. It will not be personal, only a favor."
Standing from his semi relaxed position he crossed the room and stopped before her. Gingerly, he reached out and caught the ends of her hair in between his thumb and forefinger. Leaning in, his lips were warm and inviting as his tongue opened her mouth.
Not quite understanding his intentions, she stood rigid until his tongue touched hers. Cautiously, as if experimenting, she rose on her toes to meet his mouth- her hands resting on his shoulders.
He broke their kiss, "It's nothing if not personal. I will not do as the woman requests."
Arya cocked to the side as her mouth started to formulate an argument.
"Jaqen, this will not-"
"I will not complete the woman's request tonight. To lose everything is only appealing to those who have something to lose. Once someone truly has nothing to lose, they will forever be lost. I will not take from you something which has value beyond your comprehension."
Confused, she questioned, "When I am finally a Faceless Man, would you then do me that favor?"
Turning as he approached the door, he looked back at No One, who in many ways had changed but ultimately still resembled the brave little girl he saved from Harrenhal.
"Yes. I would. But then you would never again be who you are still, Arya. And I fear I might want to be someone who I can never again be."
When he had spoken her name: the one her mother had given her, her father had called her. Brothers had once yelled and Sansa would whisper. He planted a seed doubt that could not be uprooted.
Her name would haunt her in the months to come, bringing her dreams at night, of running through the forests of Winterfell; searching for her pack. Memories, in the light of day would circle her consciousness driving her mad.
It wouldn't be until much later that Arya would understand what it meant to fear the loss of things that defined whom she was.
When Arya Stark left the House of Black and White a year later, she was sure that she would never see Jaqen again. Leaning against dock post, waiting to board a ship back to Westeros, a whisper found her ear, "The woman has found that she is someone?"
Arya knew the voice before she turned to see the mask.
"Will I ever know who you really are?"
Resting a friendly hand on her shoulder, the unfamiliar face answered in a familiar voice, "Who I once was, is not important, Arya Stark. You have found that you have something to lose?"
"I have to return. I'm all that is left. There must always be a Stark in Winterfell."
"And so there shall be."
Arya wished that she could hug her teacher and friend; tell him goodbye, but did not want to share that moment with a stranger's face.
"Can I see your true face?"
Leaning in, Jaqen gave her a soft, last, brief kiss and answered, "You already have in too many ways."
With the boarding call, Arya turned to say goodbye to Jaqen, for what she assumed would be the last time, only to find that she was alone on the dock.
Icy wind beat against his face, as he looked out over the Wall into nothingness. What a child he had been seven years ago, to think of this place as an adventure. Only later to discover it a prison. And now, to know it as home.
The only home he'd now ever know. With Stannis's troops milling around Castle Black the place moved like an uneasy beast. Waiting for something to erupt and everything to be thrown into chaos. Fearing what darkness they all knew lay somewhere hidden beyond this Wall.
He'd come up here to be alone. To think. To speak to Ned. Ask him all the things he wished he could have before and now would never know. To receive his good council, even if he could not hear or answer.
What should he do with the Wildlings? The simmering of tensions that threatened to boil over were more than Stannis Baratheon. The men hated the Wildlings. Considered them less than human, would gladly leave them as bate for whatever stalked the Haunted Forest.
They called him a fool, a traitor for considering their passage. And maybe they were right but Jon didn't care. The souls of too many already weighing on him in dream and waking.
Robb, Sansa, Arya….
He should have fought harder. He should have risked death and rode to meet Robb in the Riverlands. He should have gone south for Sansa, taken Joffery's head himself.
He should have saved Arya….
He hadn't said her name out loud in five years. Like it was a curse, that if spoken would come true. She'd really be gone.
At times, if he stood up here long enough, till the moisture in his eyes felt like glass, the blood in his veins slowing to a slow crawl, his ears deaf from the wind, he could see her. Just beyond the dark towers of Castle Black, her spindly body scrambling through the snow, screaming and laughing. Calling out to him.
And sometimes it was different. Jon would see her in the distance, a fuzzy dark dot, making her slow approach on foot until finally he could make her out. Her face covered in furs, struggling through the snow, edging closer to the black castle with fierce determination against the wind. Looking up at the last moment, north beyond the Castle Black and warmth, to him. Her grey eyes alive and bright, clear even from miles away.
It was so real, it hurt. He'd blink until his eyes were sore, sure that this time it had happened, she'd finally come. Arya had found her way north to the Wall and safety. Only to always discover the truth.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he'd whisper into the winds that whipped past him, plunging over the Wall.
If he had it to do over again….