Chapter 20: The Feast before the Long Night
King Jon entered the Great Hall escorting Queen Danaerys and all the lords of Westeros cheered for their monarchs. They took their seats at the grand table, flanked by Aegon to the left and Arya to the right. Tonight they were celebrating; tonight nothing mattered but joy. Jon rose from his seat and interrupted the merriment to address his guests. "My Brothers, and Sisters. Tonight we come together and drink wine for tomorrow we shall meet with destiny. Tomorrow we shall cut through Winter's bone and end the coming Long Night! Together we shall welcome the dawn!" The lords shouted in unison, filled with optimism and hope from their leaders. Arya could not help but swell with pride as she looked at her brother's kingly air. 'Jon was meant for this,' she thought and glanced at Dany whom she noticed was flushed and affixed at Jon as well.
The merriment ensued and everyone drank to their hearts content. Arya kept busy with her brothers, teasing Bran and Rickon like they were children. Jojen and Meera Reed were also seated close to them and the sibling obliged to Arya's fun at Bran's expense. It had been so long since they could easily laugh like this, and they knew it wouldn't last so they made their best effort to enjoy.
Every now and then Arya would glance at Jon and giggle. Her brother was obviously preoccupied with the silver haired beauty beside him. It was obvious that Jon was besotted yet there was an air of restraint in his manner. Danaerys, on the other hand, was not shy at all with her attraction; yet he resisted her advances. Aegon, on the other hand, had long departed the grand table for the comfort of his other companions. He sat with the Queen's guard and drank heavily with all of them. Arya also noticed Ser Baristan and Lord Connington keeping an eye at their charges, both old men were drinking with caution.
Then, the memory of the kiss came to Arya. She did not know how to feel about it. She could not understand what Aegon wanted from her, nor did she understand what she wanted from him. Her heart belonged to another, and she gave it away willingly. And then the pain struck her again. Gendry had rejected her. Confessed his love and then rejected her. She would have chosen him over Aegon if he asked her to, or over anyone else for that matter. Then her mind drifted to the kiss Aegon gave her in the crypts before he ran off to god knows where. Arya looked at the prince from afar and felt annoyed. He left her in the darkness and was now ignoring to his hearts content. 'Why are these men so stupid' she wondered. She continued to stare at Aegon as she drank her 8th cup of wine. She knew he could feel her gaze and her enmity, yet he's choosing to ignore her. It annoyed her even more.
By the time the moon was above the great tower, half them men were passed out and the room was filled no longer with music but with insensible groans of drunk men mixed in with the shrill laughter of the few women present in the room. Most of the high lords no longer seemed too dignified and most of the soldiers lost it all together.
Among those who kept it together was Jon. He didn't let himself drink to a stupor, trying to keep self-control, especially with the beautiful dragon Queen charming her way into his desires. Jon looked at the barely conscious woman by his side and remembered his late love. 'Ygritte was kissed by fire, but Dany is fire herself,' for the first time Jon did not feel sad with the memory of Ygritte and felt a sense of contentment as he looked at the Queen. Dany was strong and beautiful, but those things can wait, he told himself. Thus, he stood from his seat before he could do something he might regret. Jon sneaked past the drunken soldiers and disappeared towards his quarters. Arya noticed her brother leaving, and followed him.
"What's the rush? Are you taking your vows much to heart?" she asked, surprising him with her sudden intrusion.
"As matter of fact, yes. I do not plan on breaking my vows any time soon little sister."
"I do not understand men at all," Arya commented in a drunken tone, "at first you look like creatures strung with desire, and yet you deny yourselves of true love."
Jon raised a brow at her monologue and laughed a bit at his sister. "Obviously, this is not about me."
Arya glared at him and pointed needle at his heart, "I really don't understand…" Arya was about to say something but a sudden drop in temperature distracted them. Frost rapidly set in the walls and freezing gusts of wind entered the halls. The two of them rushed to look out the window and saw nothing but a blizzard. A rush of urgency came down on them, worried about the men feasting outside the castle. They both rushed back in the great hall and collected those who were still conscious. They needed to get everyone inside the castle, lest they abandon them for dead.
The royal host was much too large to fit in the castle and most of the soldiers could not longer bear the cold. Snow was falling fast and the winds were making it hard for them to breath. Jon moved as fast as he could. The most he could do was at least shelter them within the walls. Aegon came to and rushed to ride Rhaegal and helped guide the men outside into the gates. But there were just too many.
"A few of our keeps are only a few hours away, we can try to brave this blizzard to get some of the men into them," suggest some of the Northron Lords. It was an impractical suggestion, but it made the most sense.
"I'll ride Rhaegal and escort you. At least the dragons can provide a bit of warmth in the travel," Aegon declared. "We need to do everything to keep our men alive."
Dany nodded and allowed him to take his leave. But even if Aegon were to succeed, the men he could take with him were still not enough to allow winterfel to accommodate the rest. They had no choice but to weather the night. She then rode drogon and made giant fires in the wolf's wood to warm the remaining men. None of them slept that night, they all tried to keep everyone alive.