Crack fairytale AU inspired by "Cinderella". Jon Cinders's stepmother won't let him go to the ball. Tyrion makes his wish come true and Jon attends the ball where he falls in love with Princess Dany. However, on Jon's return home, Catelyn whips him so badly that he might not survive to marry Dany and live happily ever after.
For the hurt/comfort bingo prompt 'whipping/flogging' and the 100 tales prompt 'love'
Once upon a time there was a young man named Jon Snow. When his mother died he was sent to live with his father and his father's wife, Catelyn.
Catelyn hated Jon the moment she laid eyes on him. She doted only on her own children, the spoilt and shallow Sansa and the handsome but arrogant Robb.
When Jon's father went away on a mission from the king, Catelyn – now expecting another child - made sure Jon's life was miserable. He had to wear Robb's hand-me-down clothes and was only allowed to eat the leftovers when the family had finished their meals. Catelyn said he wasn't her son and therefore was no better than a servant, and so a servant he should be. She had him scrubbing and cleaning, day in and day out.
Worse still she would punish Jon harshly. Sansa could break plates in a tantrum and Robb could leave his clothes and dirty dishes all over the house, but if Jon did any small thing that displeased Catelyn, he would be beaten.
At first it was just a wooden spoon that she happened to have in her hand when chastising him for not cleaning the floor properly. Then it was one of Robb's leather belts. One day Catelyn said he hadn't cleaned out the stables properly and struck out with the horsewhip, only his worn cloak preventing him from injury.
When Catelyn gave birth she even gave Jon's room away to the newborn and told him to sleep in the kitchen by the fireplace.
People would point and laugh at him because of his worn clothes covered in ashes from the fireside. "Jon Snow? More like Jon Cinders," local bully Theon jeered and the nickname stuck.
One day Catelyn became very excited. There was to be a ball at the nearby castle of the Targaryen family. While a Baratheon currently sat upon the throne, the descendants of the previous king, the Targaryens were allowed to use royal titles and it was in Princess Dany Targaryen's honour that the ball was to be held. Recently of age, it was time for her to choose a husband, and invitations had gone out to every noble household.
As soon as she received the invitation, Catelyn ordered new clothes for Robb and Sansa, hoping that Robb might wed Dany and that Sansa would catch the eye of Dany's brother Viserys or some other noble who would be in attendance.
"Can I go to the ball?" Jon asked.
Catelyn laughed at him. "You? Don't be ridiculous. You will stay here and polish Robb's boots."
Jon watched miserably as Catelyn brushed Sansa's hair and straightened Robb's cloak, and generally fussed over them. Catelyn intended to go with them to make sure Robb made a good impression on Dany but she didn't even trust Jon with the baby, sending it to her sister to look after.
When the haughty Catelyn, the simpering Sansa and the smirking Robb left for the ball, Jon sat despondently by the fireplace, stirring the ashes with a poker.
Jon looked around, startled. A little man was sitting on the table.
"Who are you? Where did you come from?"
The man grinned. "My name is Tyrion and I'm here to tell you that you shall go to the ball, Jon Snow."
Jon shook his head. "My stepmother won't let me go," he said. "I don't have an invitation. I have nothing to wear anyway. And what would a princess want with Jon Cinders?"
Tyrion rolled his eyes. "My, my, you are very good at feeling sorry for yourself, aren't you? I've brought you an invitation to the ball and a change of clothes, and you can use my horse and carriage to get there."
Jon stared at him. "Are you my fairy godmother?" he asked at last.
Tyrion wagged a finger at him. "Just because I am short does not make me a fairy! Or a woman! I am your benefactor, Jon Snow, and I'll thank you to treat me with more respect."
"Sorry." Jon hung his head in shame but Tyrion merely jumped down from the table and took him to the dining room where a full change of clothes had been laid out. A crisp white tunic, with black leather trousers and a leather jacket. A heavy fur trimmed cloak. New boots. Exquisitely tailored leather gloves. Even new smallclothes had been provided. There was a sword, too, in a fine scabbard. Tyrion had thought of everything.
Tyrion helped himself to brandy from the sideboard while Jon dressed.
"Very nice," he said when Jon was dressed in his new outfit. "Comb your hair, child, and then you'll be ready."
"Why are you helping me?" Jon asked as he struggled to drag the comb through his tangled locks.
"Partly because I don't want my nephew Joffrey to marry Dany. I've heard she's a nice girl and no nice girl – actually no girl – deserves Joffrey for a husband."
"I see." Jon shifted his weight around, having problems standing up straight in the new boots.
"Besides," Tyrion said, "I have a soft spot for underdogs like you. Now Robb is more her type than Joffrey – dark-haired, she likes them, so I've heard – but I think you'll make her a better husband than that arrogant half-brother of yours. Dany also likes tall men, that's why your boots have those higher heels."
Jon let Tyrion help him with his cloak. No-one had ever paid him this much attention before and he liked it a lot.
"Wait," he said, as Tyrion pressed the invitation into his hand. "Catelyn will see me and send me home."
"No she won't. It's a masquerade ball. They're handing out masks at the entrance," Tyrion assured him. "Now go and have fun, Jon."
Jon knew that if his stepmother came home and found him missing, he'd be in trouble, and vowed to watch the time. He took the carriage to the castle and handed over his gilt edged invitation. The footman gave him a black mask with white fur trim and Jon slipped it on.
The ballroom was impressive. A dozen tables were piled high with food and wine, and a dozen chandeliers blazed from the ceiling. Nobles from many kingdoms were present, some talking and others dancing. Jon was thrilled just to be here.
He saw Catelyn deep in conversation with a bored looking man and headed in the other direction.
Jon wandered over to one of the tables and picked up a chicken wing. A tall man with blonde hair nodded companionably at him.
"Jaime," he said.
"Jon," Jon replied, glad that Jaime hadn't given a title or surname, lest he expect one in return.
"Quite the turn out," Jaime said. He scratched at the edge of his mask, pale gold with a deep tan trim. "Are you here for the princess?"
Jon shrugged. "Aren't we all?"
"Not me. I'm just here to keep an eye on my nephew." Jaime pointed to a very young man, little more than a child really. The nephew was chastising a servant. "Joffrey does like to make himself heard."
So that was Tyrion's nephew. Jon suddenly understood his benefactor's concerns.
"She's stunning, isn't she?" Jaime nudged Jon's arm. He looked over and laid eyes on Princess Dany. The sight of her took his breath away. Fair skinned and fair haired, the elegantly dressed woman was more beautiful than he could ever have imagined.
She was currently dancing with a very tall man, whose dark skin and hair made Jon sink when he remembered that this was what Tyrion had said was her 'type'. The man's stature made the petite princess look even smaller and more delicate.
"That's Lord Drogo," Jaime said, apparently in a chatty mood. "His army is formidable."
The music stopped and Drogo bowed to Dany. She curtseyed in return.
"Here's your chance," Jaime said. "Wipe your fingers, man."
Jon tossed the remains of the chicken wing aside and rubbed his gloves on his cloak before giving up and removing his gloves.
"Hurry along," Jaime said, shoving Jon in Dany's direction. "Give me your cloak."
"But – your nephew –"
"Had his chance with Dany already. I think he blew it, so he'll have to settle for one of these desperate debutantes," Jaime assured him.
Somehow they'd made it to the centre of the dance floor and in front of Dany before anyone else had made a move.
"My Lord Jon," Jaime announced and stepped back, taking Jon's cloak with him. Jon felt naked and terrified.
Dany's eyes were blue-green like the ocean and Jon felt his heart pounding furiously. She curtseyed and he bowed stiffly. The music started again and Dany held out her hand.
Jon took her hand and slipped one arm around her waist as he'd seen Drogo doing. "I'm not sure how to dance," he whispered in a panic, not knowing where to put his feet.
Dany laughed softly, but without malice. "Follow my lead then," she said. "Let me steer you."
She pulled him when he needed her to step backward and pushed when they were to turn. After a few moments Jon got the hang of the repetitive moment.
"Better," she said warmly. "So, what boast do you have, Lord Jon?"
"Yes, for every noble here has one. The size of their castle, the wealth in their coffers, the strength of their army. What makes you suitable to win my hand?"
"I have no boast," Jon told her honestly. "I think you are beautiful and I am honoured to have this dance with you, but I see you are far beyond my humble means."
Dany tipped her head. "Modesty. That is better than any boast."
The music stopped but Dany clutched at Jon's hand. "Another dance," she said. So they danced again, and talked and laughed. Then there was another dance. And another.
Suddenly Jon realised he couldn't see Catelyn, nor Sansa or Robb. He had to get home before they did!
"I must go," he said, and ran from the room.
"Wait," Dany called. "Come back here!"
The guards, thinking from her alarmed call that he had committed some crime, chased after him. Jon tripped, kicked off his boots, and ducked down a side passage. The guards thundered past while Jon reached the end of the corridor and jumped from a low window. Not daring to go back around to the carriage, he set off over the fields, stumbling in the damp grass.
"Who was he?" Viserys asked, coming to see what was happening.
"The man I am going to marry," Dany said, her tone firm. "He said his name is Lord Jon. You, there." She pointed to Jaime.
Jaime swallowed nervously. "Yes, your highness?"
"You introduced him to me. Who is he?"
"I met him only a few minutes before you did," Jaime protested. "I was trying to be friendly. Here, these are his gloves and his cloak."
Dany clutched the cloak to her, nuzzling her cheek against the soft fur. "Then I must thank you, Sir Jaime, for your introduction."
The guards returned without Jon, for they'd gone through the front entrance and been caught up in the throng of guests leaving the ball. They presented the boots to Dany and she clucked her tongue.
"We must find him."
"He could be from anywhere," Viserys protested.
"Without a carriage? Without a cloak or boots?" Dany shook her head. "He lives close enough or he'll freeze to death on a night like this."
Jon reached home not long after his family, and ran to the back of the house. He went in through the kitchen door and, lungs burning with exertion, pulled off the jacket stuffed it in the pantry. He curled himself up by the fireplace but Catelyn stormed into the kitchen.
"Where have you been?" she demanded. "You were not here when we came home!"
"I – I went to get water from the well," Jon lied. "Did you enjoy the ball?"
Catelyn glowered at him. "Enough! Get outside!"
"It's dark," Jon protested.
"Are you afraid? Outside, now."
Catelyn was furious that Robb had been quickly dismissed by Dany. She'd hoped to get him another dance, but then a damned black-clad rogue had shown up and Dany had not parted from him.
She took this rage out on Jon in a punishment worse than her usual chastisements. She called Robb to strip Jon's clothes and undergarments until he was naked to the waist, shivering in the cold night air. Robb tied Jon's wrists to one of the tethering posts by the stables and he and Sansa watched as Catelyn took up a whip.
"Please," Jon begged, straining to look over his shoulder as she readied herself. "I haven't done anything!"
"Face forwards or you may lose an eye," Catelyn advised. Horrified, Jon did as he was told.
He cried out at the first crack of the whip which split open his skin. At the second lash he bit down hard on his lip, determined not to give her the satisfaction of hearing his cries.
Catelyn brought down the whip again and again. Jon's whole world was filled with pain. At one point Robb called to his mother but she paid him no mind and went on beating Jon for what seemed like an eternity.
When she'd finished, breathing hard from her efforts, she tossed the whip aside and walked around to look at Jon's face. She clutched his chin in one hand and smiled at the tears streaking his face.
"Know your place, Jon Cinders," she said. To Robb, she said, "Throw some salt water over him. If the wounds get infected the weakling will probably die and Lord Stark will be inexplicably upset."
Catelyn went back inside, her fury somewhat abated. Robb made Sansa go and find some salt and put it in a bucket of water while he untied Jon's wrists.
"Were you really just getting water? Because I didn't see you when I came outside to look for you," Robb said.
"What does it matter?" Jon could barely stand, half frozen and weak from the whipping. "If she punishes me any further she'll kill me."
When the salt water was thrown over his damaged back, he let out a howl of pain and fell to his knees. Robb, having morals enough not to let his half-brother die of exposure, dragged him inside and left him lying by the fireplace.
Jon thought the pain would prevent him from sleeping, but he passed into unconsciousness and was dead to the world.
Dany and Viserys went from house to house, searching for the missing Lord Jon. Many a man claimed to be her mysterious masked dance partner. Dany took to letting them try on the boots, cloak and gloves.
"The cloak is too short on you," she told one and to another said, "No, those gloves don't fit."
Even Viserys, who wanted her married sooner rather than later, was unimpressed by the desperate attempts some men went through to make the boots go onto their feet.
"Walk in them," Dany ordered when one man got the boots on. He promptly fell on his face.
They went to see Catelyn and she brought Robb forward. Dany tipped her head.
"I see some resemblance," she said, caressing Robb's jawline, "but I am not convinced. Try on the boots."
"Yes, your highness." Robb got the boots on and stood, carefully striding around the room. He put on the cloak too, and the gloves.
"The cloak isn't quite right," Dany protested. "And his voice is wrong."
Viserys shook his head. "Enough of this folly. You said you would marry the man you danced with. He's about the same height and build, same colouring, the clothes do fit him –"
Dany folded her arms. "Why then did he tell Sir Jaime that his name was Lord Jon and not Lord Robb?"
Robb scrambled for an explanation. "I had already danced with you and been rejected," he said. "So I, um, switched masks with a married man who did not wish to dance with you, and presented myself to you under false pretences. Forgive me, your highness."
Dany glared at him. "Is there no-one else in the house?"
"My daughter, and my baby," Catelyn said.
"And –" Robb began, but Catelyn elbowed him hard in the ribs.
This was the last of the noble households within a days walk from the palace and Dany was desperate. She leapt upon Robb's statement. "And?"
"A servant," Catelyn said quickly. "Not worthy of your attention."
"I want to see him," Dany said. Catelyn made more excuses but Viserys was at the end of his tether by now and demanded she bring forth the servant, so that his sister could be satisfied and just wed Robb Stark so help him!
Sansa slipped out of the room and came back a moment later. She whispered fiercely in her mother's ear. Catelyn blanched.
"He is indisposed," Catelyn said.
Dany hitched up her skirts and headed for the kitchen, Viserys right behind her, and Catelyn following him.
Dany couldn't be sure that the limp form sprawled by the fireplace was her intended, but pity for the injured man filled her heart regardless.
Heedless of the soot, Dany crouched down by the prone figure and moved his hair from his face. He'd been masked at the ball but Dany knew Jon on sight. Love could see through any disguise or the absence thereof. She let out a sob.
"Viserys, this is him. This is the man I want to marry."
"That's just Jon Cinders," Sansa said and Viserys insisted that his sister would not marry a servant.
"Enough," Robb said, finally finding he had some of his father's sense of duty. "He is my half-brother, son of Lord Stark, and his name is Jon Snow."
Dany turned damp eyes to Viserys, though anger burned behind her tears. "I will marry Lord Jon Snow," she vowed and Viserys nodded.
"What happened to him?" Dany demanded. "These look like whip marks."
Catelyn stared at the floor, unwilling to implicate herself.
"No matter. There will be time to find and punish the aggressor later," Dany said. She stroked Jon's cheek, his skin feverish beneath her fingers. "He needs a healer, Viserys. Please, let us take him from this dreadful place."
Viserys glanced disdainfully around the kitchen. "I do not want to spend a moment longer here," he agreed, and had his servants bundle Jon into a blanket and take the unconscious man out to the carriage.
Viserys wasn't best pleased with his sister's choice but he had, foolishly, sworn by the Old Gods and the New to let her choose from the guests at the banquet. He was certain he hadn't invited any Lord Snow, but no-one without an invitation would have got in and so here they were.
Assuming the boy lived, of course. Winter was drawing in and Jon's dash for home had left him thoroughly chilled before the severe whipping. Viserys had seen men flogged worse, but if there were any infections or diseases on top of such a beating, it was up to capricious fate if the victim survived.
The healer had done what he could and Dany herself had tenderly applied healing salve to the horribly damaged skin on Jon's back.
Viserys went to his study. Jon's father, Lord Stark, was the king's right hand. It wasn't as good as Dany marrying the king himself or Lord Stark but since they were both already wedded, Viserys was willing to take a gamble on Jon Snow and his familial connections being an eminently successful match. At least politically, and that was all Viserys was concerned with.
He began to compose a letter to Lord Stark, telling of Jon's rough treatment, poor health, and that should he live, his impending nuptials to Dany.
Viserys thought that if that didn't bring Lord Stark home, nothing would.
Tyrion knocked on the door even as he pushed it open. Dany, sitting on the bed next to Jon, stared at him. He bowed.
"Lord Tyrion Lannister at your service," he said. "I came to see how Jon is."
Dany shook her head. "His fate is in the lap of the gods," she said and blinked fresh tears away.
"This is my fault for sending him to the ball," Tyrion said. "No, no, I will not take all of the blame. I had no idea he would be punished so severely for leaving the house."
Dany beckoned him forward. "I must thank you for making it possible for him to meet me, even as I acknowledge that it was our meeting that led to this."
Tyrion's eyes travelled over Jon's body. He'd been propped up on his side and the mutilated skin on his back was clearly visible. Tyrion's face grew stony. "Someone must pay for this."
Dany nodded and ran her fingers through Jon's hair.
"Do not weep," Tyrion said. "More than one man has been saved by the love of a good woman. You do love him, do you not?"
"With all my heart." Dany leaned over to kiss Jon's cheek.
All they could do was wait.
Three days later, Jon stirred. His eyes focussed on Dany. "Princess? Am I dreaming?"
"No." She kissed his forehead. "No, Lord Snow. You're here in my castle, safe with me. Who whipped you to the point of death?"
"Lady Stark." Jon winced as he tried to move. "Is it very bad?"
Dany tipped her head. "You're alive and that's all that matters. I care nothing for the scars you'll have. Oh, Jon, I searched everywhere for you. I had every man in the kingdom trying on your boots!"
Of course she'd not needed the boots to fit. But it had been a good excuse to keep looking. Later the tales would say the boots did fit only Jon, because it made for a better tale.
By the time Lord Stark arrived home, Jon was recovered enough for the wedding preparations to have been finalised. Stark begged for mercy for his family and Jon agreed that the punishment should not be as harsh as his own had been.
Catelyn and Sansa were set to scrubbing the Targaryen castle top to bottom in preparation for the wedding, and Catelyn had to change all the bed linen in every bedroom ready for the expected guests. Robb, who had stood by and watched the punishment, but had at last spoken out in defence of Jon, had to clean the stables and pig sties.
The wedding was well attended. Jaime was there, with Joffrey glaring the whole time at not being the groom, and Drogo showed up with two fine white horses as gifts.
At the reception, Tyrion stood and toasted the couple.
"Once Jon Cinders, now Prince Jon, and his beloved Princess Dany. May you live happily ever after!"
And they did.