AN: GRRM owns all. I hope to try and walk in his huge footsteps.

James Stark was the first son of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark, James is twenty a tall, slender, muscled man, with Stark features, he is tall with grey eyes, long thick black hair that covered his ears, broad shoulders, a muscled chest and strong arms from practice with a sword. He has often been called "Brandon Stark reborn!" as his father so eloquently put it. Everyone in Winterfell had always told James how much he reminded and looked like late Uncle Brandon, a man James would admire until his final breath. He did admit that he put his uncle up on a pedestal aspiring to be like the man he only heard stories about and had memories about. Brandon was a strong and handsome man, his father and Uncle Benjen would tell them, "men wanted him to lead them and women wanted to bed him", his uncle and father would say with a laugh, and then get very serious, "…until the mad king killed him."

James was proficient with a sword and bow ever since he could walk, and had always been humble about his skills as a warrior, often times believing he wasn't as good as people told him he was, and always played it down. Always striding to be like his uncle Brandon, how he was in more ways than one; James had many weaknesses…. one of them being women. The lady's would always smile at him and blush when he would just talk to them, often not bedding many woman, fathers hated him, and warned his daughters about him. He was arrogant when it came to this, and at times James was often at the end of a lecture by his father, Lord Eddard, about his womanizing, reminding him that he swore a vow.

He kept a good relationship with his siblings, and his parents. Theon Greyjoy was a different matter. All though James felt bad for him for being a hostage, he found him to arrogant. Him and his bastard brother Jon Snow felt the same way. However they had alway's resented him for taking the black, and it made him think he was an outsider because he did, it also made him overly sensitive when they'd bring it up. James never considered himself a natural leader, and often chose to follow, he didn't stay true to his vows. He'd always go with tavern wenches down at Mole Town, and the Lord Commander Jeor Mormont scolded him for it; James would never listen. James always got in trouble and most of the other black brother's resented him for being the son of Eddard Stark; thinking he got special treatment. Often times he'd take trips to Winterfell for weeks at a time, and they took notice, they hated him for it. His uncle Benjen, the First Ranger, loved James as a nephew, but told him that his arrogance towards the other brothers had been to his undoing. James was a good ranger because he practiced at it, and his Uncle taught him how to track wildling's. James did not have many friends outside of his family.

Winter is Coming….the words rang in his mind as James was riding down south from the Wall, clad in the Night's Watch black, he was journeying down to Winterfell to see his family, taking in the view whilst on his horse, a mare in black he had befriended in Winterfell, aptly named Lyanna. He had remembered being jeered by his younger brother's Robb and Jon at choosing a female horse and naming her after their aunt, but James did not care, he loved his deceased aunt, knowing her for only the first three years of his life, but it had seemed like a lifetime for James. He often passed time thinking about memories of his family, he remembered listening to his mother's stories or his father's many lectures all ending with "Winter is coming", but the ones that stuck with him were ones with his siblings, whether it was teaching Robb and Jon the ways of the sword, horse riding with Arya, even telling stories about knights and princesses to Sansa, down to watching Bran climb and playing with young Rickon, James remembered them all. However one specifically always stuck to his mind…

James was seven and ten sitting outside Robb's room hearing Old Nan telling them stories, believing he was too old for such things, he chose not to attend, and his siblings knew this, but this night he decided to sit outside Robb's room and listen. "And so during the Long Night, the Others emerged from the Lands of Always Winter wielding swords of ice and riding their spiders as big as hounds, destroying whole villages and ravaging lands, covering all they crossed in darkness." James peeked into the door that was left slightly a jared seeing Robb and Jon sitting on the bed cross legged, Robb with little Bran on his lap, and Jon with Arya's head resting on his shoulder. Sansa had been sitting in a chair next to them with a stern look on her face, listening to Old Nan's story, Theon never joined them, and their parents were busy with baby Rickon.

"The Children of the Forest and the First Men fought valiantly against the Others but were driven back." That's when James noticed Bran grabbing on to Robb's shirt and he let out a small yelp….

"The baby is scared!", Sansa said half worried about her younger brother. "Stop the story!" she demanded.

"No!" yelled Arya "But we are getting to the good part, Sansa don't ruin it." "Bran isn't scared right? He is strong like a Knight." exclaimed Jon. "Yes I'am." said Bran.

"Alright little lords….where was I?" said Old Nan. "And the First men fought valiantly!" said Bran. "Ah yes…" said Old Nan. "So The Children of the Forest and First Men fought valiantly but were pushed back, it wasn't until they found out their weakness…"

"Dragonglass!" said Robb. "Yes little lord, dragonglass, and so they were led by Brandon the Builder, the first Stark, and the great hero…." "Azor Ahai!" exclaimed Jon.

"Azor Azhai, with his sword of fire, Lightbringer, driving the Others back, and eventually defeating them. So Brandon the Builder than raised the Wall with ice and magic to make sure the North would never be invaded again." said Old Nan, knitting in her chair, the sticks clacking with each stitch, "Now this is the point where the little lordlings go to bed."

"BUT OLD NAN!" all the children said at once…."Please just one more story!" said Arya, "Just one."

"No , No, No that is enough for one night now off to bed all of you." James quickly hid himself as Old Nan stepped out of the room and made her way down the hall when James heard Arya say,

"We don't need her, we can tell our own stories."

"Yeah, or maybe we can get James to tell us a story of Aunt Lyanna or Uncle Brandon." said Jon.

All the siblings nodded in agreement.

"Do you know where he is?" said Sansa

"He should be in his room…probably reading." said Robb

" let's go find him!" said Bran

They began to scurry off the bed when James soon darted for his room. He quickly got to his room, closed the door, and set himself down on his chair and grabbed whatever book he could find…The History of the Night's Watch….yes this will do. He was pretending to read, when he heard a knock on his door. He set the book down and walked to his door and opened it to find his younger siblings all standing there with smiles on their faces. "Ahh, if it isn't my brothers and sisters, what brings you here so late at night, shouldn't you be in bed?" James said with a smile on his face.

"Yes, James." said Sansa, and continued "But, I….well…all of us were wondering if…"

"Tell us a story about Aunt Lyanna!" yelled Arya

"Arya!" said Sansa, "It is not lady like to yell."

"I don't care if it's not lady like Sansa, you were taking too long." said Arya as she then proceeded to stick her tongue out at Sansa.

James let out a laugh and smiled at his siblings.

"Please…." said Bran and soon all the others joined in…"PLEASE!" they asked in a begging tone.

"It's five against one how can I say no?" James said with a smile as they all scurried into his room and sat on his bed. James sat at the head of his bed looking at his five siblings. "Ok so what story do you want to hear?"

"Tell us a story about you and Aunt Lyanna, since you told us one about Uncle Brandon last time." asked Arya….James still had memories of his aunt even though he was only three when she died. He was the only one of them who ever knew her, so they all asked them about her and Brandon all the time.

"So…I remember Aunt Lyanna as being a very beautiful women, who was headstrong, willful, just like you little Arya." James said as he saw a smile creep on Arya's face…She looks so much like her, as does Jon…

"I remember one memory of Aunt Lyanna to this day…" He looked on as all his siblings were now staring at him intently. "And…." they all said. "

"And I remember the last time I was with her before she was captured by Rhaegar Targaryen; Old Nan was in my room about to tell me a story, before bed when I started wailing about not wanting to sleep, when Aunt Lyanna came into my room, she could hear my crying from the hall."

"'James now it is time for you to go to bed'," she said when she walked in, "All the greatest knights need their sleep", "Including Brandon the Builder?' I said, she let out a laugh, 'Even Brandon the Builder', Gods was she pretty, 'Can you tell me a story Aunt Wyanna?"

All of my siblings began to laugh, including Sansa a bit and Jon said "You couldn't pronounce Lyanna?"

"Hey I was three." James told him.

"Anyway…she said 'Ok I'll tell you a story, then right to bed', Old Nan left the room and then she sat me on her lap in my rocking chair as she told me a story about her, Brandon, father and Benjen as kids riding in the wolfswood outside Winterfell and how Brandon fought off a wolf that had attacked them, she also told me the story of Brandon the Builder."

"Your favorite!" said Bran

James let out a laugh, "Yes my favorite." as he played with Bran's hair and the boy let out a chuckle.

"Then what happened?" asked Robb.

"I fell asleep in her lap, and woke up in my bed the next morning to find a blue rose on the rocking chair; that rocking chair." James pointed to the rocking chair next to his bed. "So she gave you the blue rose you always have on you?" asked Sansa. "Yes, that's the one I keep in my pocket every day, it was her favorite flower." James grabbed the now flat rose from his bed side table and showed them, all looking at it in awe. "I remember crying about her leaving and then a year later when father told me about how she was away….forever." James began to feel tears well up in his eyes. "To this day I miss Aunt Lyanna, more than you will ever now." Now he began to feel tears trickle down his cheeks, and he put his head in his hands, so as his siblings couldn't see him. He looked up to find Arya beginning to cry too…but she never cries. Then she threw her arms around James neck and hugged him. Soon the rest of them followed suit, and it was one big hug. After a while they all began to laugh.

"It's ok James, we love you." Arya said into his ear still hugging him. In silence they all were in each other's embrace as he looked up from Arya's shoulder to find his father looking at them from the doorway with a smile on his face, and James knew he had been there the whole time.

Days later James was riding when he saw Winterfell come into view. The towering fortress of House Stark for thousands of years. "Home." he said as he approached the city gates and they opened.

-x-

Home…after twenty years Winterfell is a mystery to me still. The towering fortress of House Stark loomed over James as he rode in through the gate taking in the smell, that he had longed for. It had been his home for the first seventeen years of his life, so many memories of this place… before he decided to take the black. He rode over to the stables and greeted the young stableboy, "Lord Stark" he said, bending his head a little, James handed Lyanna over to him and began to walk towards the courtyard where he knew his family would be. Taking in the view and breathing the fresh air, a fresh blanket of snow covering the great hall, the great keep as majestic as ever, even the first keep was a sight to see. He hadn't sent word that he was visiting, surely it would be a surprise to all of them he thought when he heard a familiar voice.

"James?" a voice yelled and James turned around to find Jory Cassel, Winterfell's captain of the guard standing right in front of him, with his long brown hair falling to his shoulders, his brown tunic, worn by men of the north. Jory patted James on the shoulder and asked him if all was well, Jory was like a mentor to James growing up and respected the man, like all the Stark kids did. After a bit James eventually asked a question that had been at the back of his throat, "Sorry Jory, I must ask where….."

"Where Ros is?" He said with a smile.

"That happened once Jory, and it was on my fourteenth name day if you recall."

James had lost his virginity to the "whore ros" as she was known as in Winterfell on his fourteenth name day. Theon said he had a surprise for him in his room. As he walked in he found her naked as her name day on his bed calling him over. She looked beautiful to him, her perfect breasts and red hair. James undressed and laid beside her and she began to kiss him his hands groping her breasts, his heart racing, and blood flowing to…other parts. He took a breast in her mouth and she let out a low moan. All she did was smile and told him not to worry everything would be alright, she began to stroke him. Not knowing to do next, instinctively he got on top of her, fumbling his way to get inside her, she helped him out and he felt him inside her, and began to thrust. Needless to say he didn't last long, maybe six strokes before he spent himself inside her. She took the most care with him. All she did was laugh and say, "Looks like the young wolf has no bite, but at least you last longer than Greyjoy." She taught him a few tricks afterwards on how to please a women, she even spent the night in his bed. When his father caught wind of what happened he was furious at Theon, the talk he gave James ended with, "And we must not tell your mother, she'll kill Theon if she found out." "Not to mention it'd be awkward" said Theon, then they both laughed until Lord Eddard had shot them his famous stare. It was the only time James laughed with Theon. "Never again" he said to James with a sincere face. And ever since than he spent a night with Ros once a week, until he was seventeen and left for the Night's Watch, but nobody knew that.

"Aye, you smiled for a week after that."

"Indeed I did, Robb and Jon didn't know why I was so happy, anyway Jory so where is my family?"

"Aye, yes" Jory said with a laugh. "I'd reckon thats why you are here, well your mother, father and brothers are all in the practice yard watching Bran practicing with a bow, a sight to see I'm sure, not sure where the girls are." James laughed and said "Yes my ten year old brother shooting a bow, should surely be fun to watch."

They parted and James made his way to the courtyard and instantly heard arrows whizzing through the air. Seeing the arrows miss their target and he saw Bran more frustrated than ever, the little lord of Winterfell, seemed to be having trouble. Jon was standing beside him trying to give him pointers, the bastard of Winterfell looking slender and tall for a boy of seventeen with his gray and black tunic he was so fond of, with his long tangled black hair…Lyanna.

James remembered when his father came home with Jon, he was in the nursery with his mother watching as baby Robb slept. "Look James, you have a brother." she would say when he would just watch Robb sleep in her arms. That's when his father entered the room with another boy in his hand who he presented to them both. James was happy to have another brother, but his father told him to leave the room. James was escorted out when he saw tears beginning to well up in his mothers eyes. Then he heard the arguing. "He is just a bastard, I don't want him growing up around Robb and James will be confused, he is only four! too young to understand." his mother shouted. His father with his calm demeanor explained, "Jon is my blood and I made a promise, he will be living with us and that is that." It wasn't until years later he found out exactly what 'bastard', meant. It did not mean a difference to him, Jon was as much a brother to him as Robb. Being a bastard didn't change that and it wasn't his fault.

Robb was standing next to him, arms crossed at his chest, looking like a future leader of men his red hair kept short, wearing a brown tunic of the men of the north….the future Lord of Winterfell, yet so Tully…James knew what he'd given up taking the black. Little Rickon was sitting on a perch watching, while both his parents stood above on a balcony watching over them.

"And which one of you was a master archer at ten?" he heard his father say, "Keep practicing Bran."

"James was!" replied Robb all looking up at his father. "James who?" James shouted as he walked towards the siblings. They all ran over to him and they all said their hello's happy to see their brother. Robb and Jon most delighted to see him as they smacked his back and he just returned the favor to both. Rickon threw himself from his perch to jump on James, he caught him in mid-air and threw him up on his shoulders, as he laughed. Bran looked down at his feet while saying hello, clearly frustrated that he couldn't hit the target. James put Rickon down and squat down to Bran's eye level, telling him he would help him out, Bran smiled and they all walked over to the practice yard. He looked up to find his mother and father smiling down begging for him to come up to the balcony to say hello, but James told them he'd be right up after he taught Bran to hit the target, they nodded and he began to show Bran how to shoot a bow.

"Relax, and keep your bow arm steady, try to exhale before you shoot." James said with two hands on Bran's shoulders. "No go ahead hit the bullseye."

Then Bran released a shot that sailed over the target and the wall. Nobody could hold in their laughter. Bran than sighed and asked why he couldn't be as good as him. James told him to keep practicing, and that he wasn't perfect at age ten. Bran just smiled and gave him a nod determined to hit the target. Than he turned his attention to Robb. "So tell me Robb, how goes things?"

"Oh, good you know, being the favorite child now that you're at the wall." he said with a smile on his face.

"Hey you were the favorite even before I left for the wall." James said with a laugh. Then Robb gave him a serious look. "We miss you around here James it isn't the same as it used to be, we all miss your guidance and the fun we'd have, Theon kind've fits the void, but it isn't the same. Do you remember when me, you, and Jon stuffed a dead rabbit under Sansa's pillow?" "Aye, you could hear her scream in the crypts and fathers lecture was even worse." said James with a laugh. "Winter is coming!" they both said at the same time sharing a laugh with his younger brother. James was remembering that day when Robb snapped him out of it with the next question, he knew was coming. "Why did you have to fill Uncle Benjen's shoes, why did you join the watch?"

James gave his younger brother a solemn look of guilt mixed with sadness, shaking his head. "One day, Robb you'll understand why I did what I did in joining the Night's watch,"

As he made his way upstairs to his parents. He greeted Theon with a firm handshake as his fathers ward was not happy to see him, two years older than James. His father hugged him and shook his hand with a smile, while his mom embraced him for what seemed like an eternity asking him why he always had to wear black. "Looking good father, the grey in your beard makes you look older and more distinguished." he said with a laugh. "And mother, looking more beautiful than ever." She just gave him a smile and said,

"Can't you wear your grey tunics you'd wear as a boy, they bring out your eyes." she said putting some of his tangled black hair behind his ear. They talked while watching Bran knock his arrow for his next shot when an arrow rang out and hit the target square in the middle. Everyone at once turned around while James looked below to find Arya had shot the arrow, Bran ran after her in a furry, they all just laughed.

"Where is Sansa, I want to say hello." James asked his mother, she was about to answer when Rodrik Cassel, appeared behind them and told them about the Night's Watch deserter some northmen had just captured outside Winterfell. His mother protested about what Ned was about to do when Rodrik reminded them that "Law is law" and Ned told them he swore an oath.

"Theon gather Robb and Jon, James you're coming too perhaps you know the lad, oh and tell Bran he is coming too." Ned said as he looked at Catelyn who gave him a stare that spoke for her.

"Bran is only ten and is too young to see such things."

"He won't be a boy forever." said Ned as we made our way to the execution.

-x-

James has heard his father speak those words many times as a boy, when he would witness his father's executions, he did not enjoy taking a man's life but he did his duty. James stood next to his father with Robb next to him, Bran with Jon as they watched the events unfold. There was a chill in the air that morning as the northmen dragged the man to the ironwood stump in the center of the square, forcing his head down. James knew the man as Will, a true ranger, he spoke directly to him before he died telling him he saw the Others, and to tell his family he wasn't crazy. That's when he saw his father unsheathe, 'Ice' the valyrian great sword of House Stark passed down through the generations. It was as tall as James when he was fourteen and was as wide as a man's hand, it was dark and forged with magic. That's when he heard the words. "In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die." His father with 'Ice', in hand took his head off with one clean stroke. The man who passes the sentence, should swing the sword. Bran took it better than James expected….tough lad, too young to see such things. But that was life and James knew as his father told him one thousand times before, 'Winter is coming'.

They were on their way back from the execution the party stopped to find a dead stag in the middle of the road with its guts ripped open, a trail of blood leading into the woods. They all dismounted and followed the trail to find a dead direwolf with an antler stuck in its throat. "Tough old beast." Ned said as he removed the antler. All were astonished as to how there were direwolves south of the wall when suddenly they found a litter of pups still trying to feed from their now dead mother.

"There aren't any direwolves south of the wall." said Theon.

"Well there are now." said James kneeling beside his father gathering up the dire wolf pups handing them out to his brothers to hold.

"An omen", said Jory, "Best be quick and kill them, they won't survive without their mother." Lord Eddard nodded in agreement "Aye, hand them over" Theon said with his dagger out, ready to end the pups misery. When Bran and Robb protested saying not to kill them it wasn't until Jon Snow spoke up saying, "My lord their are five pups, thats enough for each of your children, the dire wolf is the sigil of your house, they were meant to have them." His father gave him a solemn looking knowing the boy was making sense. "You are to feed them yourselves, you are to bathe them yourselves, you are to care for them yourselves, and if they die, bury them yourselves." He said walking off. A few moments later James found Bran looking up at him with a disappointed stare. "But there is only five!, that means James won't get one." he said.

"It's quite alright Bran I don't need a direwolf…I don't have the first clue at how to take care of them."

"How hard could it be?" said Bran, "All you do is feed them meat, right?"

"I think they are too young for meat, but milk should do." Robb said as if he had a dire wolf for a pet before.

It was then that they found another pup outcasted, his fur as white as snow, with red eyes that could stare into your soul. "The runt of the litter!" exclaimed Theon with a half smile on his face

"That one is your's Snow."

"Ah, shut up Theon," James said,

"Fuck you, James," he responded

That's when Jon, with pup in hand, began to hand him over to James, when he just shook his head with a smile and said, "No, that one is yours Snow."

-x-

They returned to Winterfell as James went to find Sansa and Arya, knowing he had not been able to say hello earlier. He soon found them doing needlework with Septa Mordane, Sansa was looking more beautiful than ever, tall with her auburn hair down to her back, wearing a blue wool dress that complimented those big blue eyes that could pierce you in an instant, little Arya struggling next to her, hair in a two braids on each side…she hates life right now. Sansa's best friend Jeyne Poole was there with her, she blushed and became very shy when she saw James. She's had a crush on me for the longest time. Sansa told him a long time ago, but James always knew. He would just at times call Jeyne pretty or compliment her dress was, even flashing one of his smiles would do the trick she would just blush and say 'thank you', often having trouble getting the word's out.

One day James hugged her and she had almost fainted. Because Sansa would tell him how whenever he did she wouldn't stop talking about it for the rest of the day. Than Septa Mordane asked who was there and saw James. "James?, James Stark?" she said "Gods, what a beautiful surprise." Sansa and Arya instantly turned around with smiles on their faces, got up quick as light and ran over both embracing him in a big hug. Sansa looked up at him with those big blue eyes while Arya just wrapped her arms around his waist. It reminded him of when they were children and Sansa would sneak into his room at night after a nightmare, asking to sleep in his bed. And now she is all grown up at thirteen and Arya at eleven.

"James, we didn't know you were in Winterfell!" they both said at the same time astonished. They retracted and James flashed a smile at Jeyne who was sitting down, shy as ever. "What I don't get a hug from Jeyne?" he said winking at Sansa, who smiled back at him. Jeyne just walked over slowly, like a turtle and embraced him. Jeyne pulled off, her face crimson and she and Sansa walked back, being gitty as ever. James sat down with them just watching their needlework, Sansa was quite good while Arya…was not.

"Good job." said James half teasing her. Looking at the mess she made. "Shut up." she quickly said all he did was ruffle her hair as Jon would and she smiled. "I'm getting you out of here." James than told Septa Mordane that Lady Catelyn was looking for Arya, and she bought it. They ran out to the courtyard.

"Thanks," she said looking up at James with those features that reminded him of Lyanna.

"No problem, now I'm headed off to the godswood, off with you." he said with a smile and watched her run away.

'll never be a stranger here, this is home…as he walked towards the weirwood tree, the trees looming around him like tall figures casing their shadows down upon him. Not surprisingly he found the Lord of Winterfell sitting underneath the heart tree cleaning Ice with his cloth, deep in his thoughts. As a child James knew not to bother his father after an execution, but today, at twenty years old he did not care. He also needed some time to think on his own. As he got closer to the heart tree his father looked up and saw him, only smiled as he than continued to clean Ice. James took a seat next to him and stared into the black pool that was before him, as a child he would come here to collect his thoughts and look at his reflection in the pool, imaging himself as Brandon. Than his father broke the silence. "What are the children doing?"

"Oh they're in Robb's room with the direwolf pups deciding on names. Robb named his Greywind, Jon named his Ghost, pretty clever if you ask me. Sansa called hers Lady, which is original. Arya chose Nymeria, named after the Dornish warrior queen. Bran called his Summer and Rickon, Shaggydog."

"Good names." said Ned, continuing his ritual of cleaning the great sword. Than more silence followed.

"Do you think he was telling the truth?" he asked, at first James didn't know what he was talking about but then he realized.

"The Others haven't been seen for thousands of years, some say they never existed, but I knew that man father, his blood ran black, blacker than mine, he wasn't known to lie." Ned just gave him a nod and continued to clean Ice when he said…"Winter is truly coming." After a few moments of silence James japed,

"I didn't desert, Commander Mormont should know I'm here, I hope Uncle Benjen told him." His father gave him a look and said, "Don't joke about that boy, I wouldn't know what to do if that ever happened, gods forbid."

"You come here to often, James." Ned said, "You're going to get in trouble, again. Don't think Benjen doesn't tell me,"

"Ah, fuck the Watch," James said but Ned gave him a hard look, "You said the words, and made your choice. Now you have to live with them,"

"No winter is coming?" said James, and than finally he got his father to laugh, a first time in the godswood.

They sat there in continued silence when Ned broke it, "You are usually this quiet for so long when something is bothering you, out with it son." He knows me so well. "Well father, yes I do have something on my mind, I'm a man now as you know, have been for quite sometime and I want to know something and what better time than in the Godswood."

"Off to re-join the Night's Watch? You used these same words when starting up that conversation." his father said cooly, still slowly cleaning Ice. James than summoned the courage and began to speak.

"Father, all my life I've heard of your deeds during Robert's Rebellion, many men talk about it, and I often find myself thinking that these men know my father better than I do, so what happened at the Tower of Joy?" His father stopped cleaning Ice and than looked at him. The expression of pain in his face. James always had wanted to know how his beloved Aunt had come to pass. But his father's expression told him.

"You really want to know?"

"Yes father you promised me when I became a man and knew the reality of the world I could hear this story, now tell me what happened there?" what happened to Lyanna…And then he began,

It was an enigma to James hearing him tell this story as if it had happened yesterday. "And so I rode out to the Tower of Joy with seven companions, including myself, to find three members of Aerys kingsguard guarding that tower. Ser Arthur Dayne, sword of the morning, Ser Oswell Whent, and Ser Gerold Hightower, all three fine knights. I demanded they hand over Lyanna alive and no blood need be spilt, but they stood their ground and told me they don't bend to nobody. And that's when it began." He described how he slew Ser Arthur Dayne and in the process killed the two other kings guard. "In the end only me and Howland Reed stood standing, I rushed up the tower as fast as I could to save her but it was too late. I found her in a pool of blood already dying, than she made me swear a promise, and her last words were 'Promise me Ned' I held her hand as she passed. And that's what happened at the Tower of Joy."

James was silent after that. He looked into his fathers eyes and admired the man, not thinking how he would react to a dying Sansa or Arya, pulling out the blue flower from his pocket and stared. Seven hells…Than after a few moments James had to ask,

"And what promise was that?"

It looked like he was about to answer when,

Than he heard leaves crunching when he looked up to find his mother walking towards them with a solemn look on her face. Gods this can't be good…that's when he noticed the raven's scroll in her hand. "Fancy too find you two here" she said breaking the silence between his father and him, immediately noticing something was wrong. "What's wrong? James? Ned? everything alright?" James was the first to speak. "Yes mother, everything is quite alright, what news?" as he pointed to the scroll she was clutching in her hands. "Aye yes." She told them how she will always feel like a stranger here, but his father said how she had six northern children, then she spoke about what bothered her. " A raven came from King's Landing today." James looked up and saw her smile turn to frown and knew it wasn't good. "Should I leave father?" he asked, but his father urged him to stay.

"Aye, and what does it say?" his father said when his mother told him that Jon Arryn, his father and Robert Baratheon's foster father had died of a fever. Ned looked down into the black pool as if that was the last thing he had wanted to hear, than the final piece of news."There is even more news Ned, the King is riding to Winterfell." That's when James knew this wasn't some royal family vacation to see the north, the King was going to ask his father something. That something he couldn't refuse. "And there is only one reason why he is riding so far up north." James said looking at his father to gauge his reaction.

"Aye, looks like I'm to be the new hand of the king."

AN: This chapter is like the red haired step child. I'm not proud of it but I had to get it out of the way. Others will be better.