Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Game of Thrones/ A Song of Ice and Fire.
A war hammer crashed into his shield with tremendous force, forcing the boy down onto one knee. The blow nearly shattered the shield and the arm behind it, but the crawling runes that sprawled across its face gave it the strength to withstand the terrible blow. Rolling deftly away from the next attack, the boy surged to his feet, before striking viciously at his opponent. His bastard hand-and-a-half sword slid cleanly through the boiled leather armour of the Ironborn raider, burying three feet of cold steel into his opponent's belly.
Kicking the body off his sword, Harry turned to survey the battle below the walls of Seagard. Most of the first wave of Ironmen attackers had been killed, but Harry could still see more longships landing on the beach below the walls of the castle, bringing more and more of the foul raiders ashore. Around fifty feet in front of them, he could see Lord Jason Mallister, the ruler of Seagard, mustering his men to withstand another assault. They were horribly outnumbered, but those few men in front of Harry were the last defence of the fortress; the only thing stopping the Ironmen from raping the women and murdering the men.
They looked like the heroes of old, standing under the light of the morning sun in glittering silver-grey armour, their purple shields emblazoned with the silver eagle of House Mallister. Heroic though they looked, Harry knew that they would soon be dead to the last man, at which point he and the other poor and orphaned boys of the city who had managed to find weapons, would be called to defend the breach in the walls until their final breath.
Taking a moment to catch his breath, he looked over his weapons and, not for the first time, he prayed that he found something better soon.
Rather than a proper shield, he wielded the ceramic lid to a large and decorative clay pot that he had been commissioned to make. He had inscribed runes for durability and strength onto the inside of the lid, so that it would be impervious to the mishaps of daily life in the kitchen. He had just finished the last rune, when a Mallister bannerman burst into his late father's pokey little pottery shop and told him to grab anything he could find and get his arse to the wall, with the rest of the orphans.
He had picked up the bastard sword from the body of one of the defenders at the wall. It was made from good castle-forged steel, but it was chipped and jagged in places, showing off the scars of the battles it had fought in. Harry wore no armour save for a simple pot helm that he had stolen from another corpse that lay in the breach in the wall. As a boy of barely ten-and-three name days, he doubted that he would be able to lift a suit of armour with ease, let alone fight in one.
Harry could see that the Ironborn were ready and poised to attack.
"Ed!" He barked imperiously.
A tall skinny boy, about Harry's age, came scurrying towards him. Edric Rivers was one of Jason Mallister's many bastard sons, and was the closest thing to a friend that Harry had in Seagard. They didn't see each other very often and only spoke when Ed came to Harry's shop with a commission from his father. They weren't exactly amicable, but Harry didn't tend to speak to anyone else except for Ed.
"Get the youngest up onto the walls. Give them bows and spears and rocks, and tell them to try and thin the Ironmen out before they get to us. Leave the six oldest lads with me, we'll hold the breach."
Edric inclined his head, before hurrying off to carry out his orders. Even though Ed was older than him –as were many of the other orphans- he still followed Harry's orders, as did the rest. It wasn't that he was more aggressive or assertive over the others, if anything he was quiet and a little cold in his dealings with other people. More than once had some drunken fool joked about Harry being a Northman in disguise.
The boys followed Harry's orders because they had seen what he could do. The corpses of six Ironmen lay fallen before Harry's sword, a testament to his fearsome ability in battle.
A roar rose from the throats of the Ironborn, startling Harry out of his thoughts, as they charged the thin ranks of Mallister defenders. Harry saw Lord Jason dive straight into the fray, fighting his way towards a towering figure of a man, dressed from head to toe in gleaming plate armour topped with a stylized kraken helm.
'A Greyjoy.' Harry thought furiously. They were the ones who started this war; they were the ones responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people up and down the west coast of the Westerlands and Riverlands.
The Purple and silver banner of House Mallister dipped and swayed in the air, before falling fluttering to the ground as the men holding it were cut down. The Greyjoy let out a triumphant roar as he skewered Lord Jason with his great sword, the blade forcing its way through the gaps in the plates of his armour. The few Mallister men that survived fled back towards the castle as fast as they could. Some were cut down before they could reach safety, but a handful managed to regroup and join Harry in plugging the breach.
"Knock arrows!" Harry roared into the air. From above, he could hear the sounds of bows being drawn, of crossbows being winded back and off rocks being hefted onto shoulders ready to throw.
The Ironborn were on the move now, thundering towards Harry as a single lumbering, pillaging entity, ready to take and raze the castle.
The enemy ranks faltered for a moment as they were tormented by arrow fire. A crossbow bolt took a man in the chest, throwing him onto his back and pinning him to the floor. For every man that was hit with an arrow, four were ready to take his place, as the horde still advanced towards the castle walls.
Harry cursed as many of the rocks fell short. He had given the order too early, and only the smaller rocks had gone far enough to do any damage. The larger boulders now littered the field in front of the defenders. 'Actually, that may be quite useful.'
Harry's premonition was proved correct as more than one Ironborn tripped over the larger rocks, losing their footing, and disrupting the charge.
"Fire at will!" He cried, before hefting his pot lid up, drawing his sword and charging in to meet the thrice-damned Ironborn. He ducked under the swing of an axe, slamming his opponent in the face with his shield, before deftly slitting his throat with the base of his sword. Harry flung himself into the battle, his sword hacking and slicing at the lightly armoured Iron Islanders. He knew that the other half-dozen orphans were behind him, but he didn't dare to look and check. Instead he kept his mind fixed on the fight, catching the swing of a sword with his own sword, before breaking the man's arm with a blow from his shield.
Arrows and bolts flew over his head, spearing as many of the attackers as they could. Harry stumbled as a rock hit him in the head, knocking his helmet off completely.
"Oi! Watch your aim!" He roared angrily. He spared a split second of his time to take stock of the battle. Four of the orphans lay dead beside the wall, while the other two and the remaining few Mallister bannermen were slowly falling back, as the enemy advanced towards the breach. Slowly but surely, the Ironborn would fight their way through and take the castle.
A glint of silver, lit up by the cold sun, caught Harry's attention and in a flash he was off. With a renewed vigour, he hurled himself towards the thick of the fighting, where the Greyjoy stood in his gleaming silver-grey armour. Harry was much smaller than the towering noble, but he barrelled into him with the full might of his considerable fury.
His sword slashed down, but was caught on the sword of the other warrior. Vibrations ran up and down Harry's arm, as the edge of Greyjoy's sword bit deeply into the edge of his own. Harry started; he hadn't expected him to react that quickly. In that single moment of hesitation, Greyjoy kicked Harry in the chest with his heavily armoured foot. The small boy flew backwards, coughing heavily as he landed on the floor. Gingerly he touched his ribs, wincing as a bolt of pain shot through his body.
'At least one's broken, maybe two.'
As he lay helpless on the floor, the Greyjoy towered over him, raising his great sword to finish the young boy. He hefted the sword up above his head, before staggering back in shock. The thin stem of an arrow protruded from his neck, sinking into the gap in his heavy armour. He roared in defiance at the defenders on the wall, as more arrows were shot at him, shattering harmlessly against his breastplate.
Greyjoy's show of boldness had given Harry the time to clamber to his feet, picking up his sword and shield. Greyjoy's sword flashed past Harry, but his movements were slower now, and Harry was able to dodge, groaning as his muscles burned and his chest throbbed. Greyjoy struck again, and once again his strike flew wide of Harry. In a burst of speed, Harry slammed his shield into Greyjoy's neck, forcing the arrow deeper into the throat of his enemy before it shattered.
Harry fell back as the Greyjoy roared in agony. He took deep shuddering breaths, gurgling as blood began to fill his airways. His great sword slipped unbidden from his hand as his fingers lost the strength to hold it. His legs buckled as he fell to his knees, his head bowed towards the ground.
Placing his sword onto the Greyjoy's shoulders, Harry growled, "A real man would show mercy."
Out of the corner of his eye he could see that the orphans were dead. The breach was being held by two Mallister bannermen who looked ready to give out. He couldn't see any movement on the walls, and there hadn't been any arrows from there since the last one that struck the Greyjoy. He saw Ed's body, lying broken below the battlements, his body riddled with arrows. He didn't know if the other boys were dead or hiding, but by the end of the day the result would be the same. The Ironborn wouldn't leave anyone alive.
Harry ripped the Greyjoy's Kraken helm from his head, enjoying the look of fear that appeared on the Greyjoy's face at the touch of his cold steel on his bare skin. "It's a pity I'm just a boy then." Harry snarled viciously, before his sword came down, removing the Greyjoy's head from his shoulders.
'I am no man. A real man would have been able to protect everyone. I'm just a boy, a fool of a boy.'
Harry knew that the battle was drawing to a close. The men guarding the breach had fallen, but they had taken their killers down with them. Harry moved tiredly, but resolutely to stand in the breach, readying his sword once more in a final defence of the city. Faintly, he recognised the imperious sound of a war horn trumpeting through the air. By this point, even breathing had become difficult for Harry; each hurried breath brought more pain to his aggrieved ribcage.
The Ironborn were more cautious this time. Their first attack had been repelled, and their second had resulted in the death of the oldest son and heir of the Iron King, Balon Greyjoy. They advanced slowly, as a group, with their shields raised and ready. Harry was too tired to try and count their number, but there were easily twenty raiders, maybe even more. Two of the Iron raiders, seeing no threat from the ailing boy rushed towards him, swords drawn.
Harry ducked under the first blow, before bringing his shield up to block the second one. Forcing his shield upwards –and taking his enemies sword with it- he struck from below, skewering one of the Ironborn in the neck. The second Iron Islander slammed his shield down onto Harry's head and he went down, eyes swimming as he fought to stay conscious.
Dimly, Harry recognised a flash of white and grey, before he saw the second Ironborn attacker fall to his knees, his throat cut. Harry fell to the floor as his muscles gave out under the weight of his own body. Just before his world went black, Harry saw a tired man with kind eyes and a reassuring smile, holding a longsword in one hand and a banner in the other. The pale white banner depicted the head of a snarling grey direwolf, was strangely calming to Harry's eyes, as he relaxed knowing that help had arrived.
'The Seven bless you, Ned Stark.'
Harry hated his dreams. They scared him, terrified him even. He dreamt of battles long passed and a life that he had never lived. He dreamed of magic and dragons and spells and a faceless man who had caused untold sorrow to his dream self. He dreamed of loneliness and power and loss and grief. Over all those things, what terrified him the most was the knowledge he had gained from his dreams.
In his dreams he showed a mastery of magic unheard of in Westeros. When he awoke, he would find that to some degree, he had the abilities shown by his dream self. His abilities terrified him to no end, and so he refused to use them except for in extreme circumstances or when he was utterly alone and nobody could get hurt if his powers escaped his control. His dreams reminded him of something dangerous, something he couldn't control, something of his that could hurt the people around him. He hated those dreams with a passion.
Mercifully, his dreams this time were not filled with flashing visions of a past life; instead his dreams were dominated by a snarling grey direwolf and a massive golden kraken locked in a terrible battle, before with one fell swipe the wolf killed the leviathan. A jumping silver trout and a crowned black stag featured heavily in his thoughts, before a roaring lion mauled them both, sending them limping out of his dreams.
Harry woke with a start just as the lion turned on the wolf. He forced himself upright when he noticed the unfamiliar surroundings, ignoring the dull throbbing in his chest.
"Easy lad. Take it easy." A deep voice rang out, as a large warm hand pushed him back onto the bed. "You've been sleeping for two days."
Harry recognised the man as the one who had saved him from the Ironmen, the man who had carried the Stark banner into battle. He had a tired, weather beaten face, but his expression was warm and his eyes were comforting.
"Lord Stark!" It was an exclamation rather than a question.
"Aye lad. You know my name, but I don't know yours."
"My name is Harry, milord." Lord Stark nodded thoughtfully.
"And where are your parents, Harry?"
"They're dead, milord." Harry replied bluntly.
"I'm sorry to hear that, lad." He answered soberly.
"It wasn't your fault."
Visibly uncomfortable with the subject, Lord Stark quickly asked, "Are you alright lad? I had the maester check you over, and he said your ribs were healing nicely."
"Aye, milord." He ran his fingers over the bandages, wincing as he felt a dull throb of pain. "I'll be back at the kiln in no time."
"You're a potter?"
"Aye, milord. As was my father."
Lord Stark let out a short laugh. "That pot lid you were holding, did you make that?" At Harry's nod he went on, "Fine work, lad. Very fine indeed. Some of the townsfolk said they saw that thing brush off a hit from a war hammer like it was nothing!"
"Not quite like it was nothing, milord, but it was very helpful."
"Could you work metal like you work clay, lad?"
Harry took a moment to mull it over. "I could try, milord."
"Good lad, see that you do. A skill like yours should not be wasted."
"Thank you milord."
Lord Stark fell silent after that, as he looked to choose his next words carefully. Harry took the short moment to look around what he assumed to be the inside of a tent. Heavy northern furs lay draped over thin canvas to make up the walls of the tent. The insides of the tent were sparsely furnished; a cot, bundled with more furs, lay pushed up against the wall of the tent with a suit of armour strewn haphazardly across it.
"Harry." Lord Stark looked oddly apprehensive, as if he were picking his next words carefully. "In return for your bravery in the defence of the castle, I would offer you a boon of your choosing. If it is within my power to grant your wish, it shall be done."
Harry looked shocked. In all his life he had never heard of a lord affording a commoner such an honour. "Milord, may I ask a question?" At Ned's assent, he continued, "Were you the one to save me from the Ironborn?"
"I hardly saved you, lad. They say you cut down a dozen men before you fell. I only killed the one closest to you when you fell. It was my duty as a lord to protect you."
"Your duty…" Harry trailed off, deep in thought, before an idea struck him. "Milord, I have a request."
"Then name it, Harry the potter, and it shall be yours."
"Name me as your sworn shield, milord. Take me with you to Winterfell and let me repay my debt to you and your family. Let me do my duty to protect my lord."
Ned's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
"You do not wish for a knighthood then, or gifts of money or land?"
Harry sighed heavily. "I have no reason to stay here even as a wealthy man and a knighthood would mean little to me if it were given away rather than earned."
"You truly believe that you would not have earned a knighthood? Even after you protected the people of the castle with your life?"
Harry shook his head resolutely. "If I were to ask for it, milord, I don't deserve it. A knight should protect the people without a thought for material gain."
"You will learn very quickly that that is not the case, lad. Not with knights like the Mountain or the Kingslayer roaming these lands." Ned shook his head at the boy's words, but couldn't help a small smile from spreading across his face. "You're a lot like me, lad. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not."
"Is that a yes then, milord?" Harry asked hopefully.
Ned chuckled shortly.
"Aye, that's a yes, boy." His face turned dark once more. "But it'll have to wait till we return to Winterfell, and gods only know when that will be."
Harry frowned. "Are you not riding back home, milord?"
"No, Harry. We ride to war. Balon Greyjoy has yet to bend the knee, so we will tear down his castle stone by stone, until he swears allegiance to King Robert."
Harry grimaced. "So we're going across the sea?"
Ned nodded grimly.
Despite his initial misgivings, Harry rather enjoyed travelling across the sea. The cool wind blowing through his hair, coupled with the salty spray of the water on his face was very refreshing. The journey took them two days with a cold westerly wind helping them on their way.
Harry soon discovered that it wasn't just the Starks who went to fight the Greyjoys. The Tully host travelled with them as well, under the leadership of Lord Hoster Tully, a great hulk of a man with an echoing, booming laugh who seemed very fond of Lord Stark. They travelled on Tully ships, as the Riverlords were the only ones with a large enough fleet since the Lannister fleet had been burned at anchor in Lannisport and the Royal fleet, under the command of Stannis Baratheon, was busy subduing the people of Great Wyk.
During the journey Harry had remained close to Lord Stark, despite the fact that he had not been acknowledged as a sworn shield yet. Instead, under Lord Stark's instruction, he learned of the ways of the noble men and of the North. He befriended many of the Stark bannermen, in particular the hulking Lord Jorah Mormont of Bear Island. He was kind, if a bit dour, and was more than willing to help assimilate Harry into the Northern ways.
As Seagard was towards the Northern end of the Riverlands, much of the Northern culture had filtered down through the Neck, meaning that Harry had less to learn about the North than he had to learn about the noble way of life. A sworn shield would be a representative of the house that they served and a lack of education in any aspect of their duty would reflect badly on their house. As such, Harry took his impromptu lessons very seriously, spending hours in the evening committing the lessons to memory.
When he wasn't learning or attending to Lord Stark, he was practicing his swordplay on the deck of the galley. Because of his ribs he found that he couldn't quite heft the bastard sword that he had been using, so he acquired a much shorter sword which didn't aggravate his muscles to lift. Thankfully his pot lid weighed next to nothing, and the boy seemed loath to part with it. In the dead of night Harry worked on his set of arms, painstakingly inscribing the runes that he had been shown in his dreams, onto both his sword and his shield. Runes for strength and slight-of-hand, speed and endurance were etched across the face of the blade. Harry had managed to procure a light chain mail shirt, and he worked on that as well, arduously etching each link of mail with tiny runes for strength. Once he was finished with his runes, Harry painted his shield, spending many hours tracing the Stark direwolf onto the front of his shield before painting it in the Stark colours; white and grey.
By dawn on the third day of their journey they had run ashore upon the island of Pyke. Before them were camped some ten-thousand men, those loyal to the Baratheons and Tyrells, commanded by King Robert himself. A few hundred yards from the encampment lay the castle of Pyke itself; its walls looking battered and smoking after days of bombardment from the Baratheon siege engines. The southern wall had taken the brunt of the attack and looked to be on the brink of collapse. Thick black smoke rose from the horizon; the ruins of the castle of Botley and the town of Lordsport that had been put to the sword the day that the King had arrived at Pyke.
Lord Stark had turned to Harry and spoken quietly. "Stay with Jorah, lad. He'll look after you while I speak with Robert."
Harry nodded seriously before Jorah took him by the shoulders and steered him towards a campfire that was teeming with roasting game.
"After two days of naught but salt fish and ale, a man needs something more significant to warm his belly." Jorah said as he bit down on a whole leg of roast mutton. "Never forget that, Harry. A hungry army can't march, a hungry army can't fight. Now eat up, you'll need your strength for the assault."
Harry knew that the time for the attack was near. By the time Lord Stark re-joined them; the southern wall of the castle was groaning under its own weight and wouldn't stay up for long.
"When the attack starts you stay at Jorah's side, understand?"
"My lord, wouldn't it be more prudent to stay with you. I am to be your guard, am I not?" Harry took care to speak properly. From now on he would have to say 'my lord' not 'milord' as he wasn't to talk like a commoner anymore.
"I'll be with the king, lad. There won't be a safer place than fighting by the king's side." That was a lie and they all knew it. Every Ironborn bastard in the castle would go for the king, to try to end the battle in one fell stroke. Harry attempted to reason with Lord Stark, but he would not hear of it. After all, it wouldn't be right to stick a child into the centre of the fighting.
After Lord Stark turned away to find some food, Harry leaned in towards Jorah and whispered into his ear.
"If Lord Stark refuses to stay safely away from the thick of the battle, we'll just have to kill all of the Ironborn before they have the chance to reach him. Will you join me?"
Jorah's bear-like grin was all the answer Harry needed.
Harry was beginning to regret his decision to defeat the Ironmen single handed.
The wall had fallen quickly and the assault began with all haste. A man in red armour, holding a flaming sword was first into the breach, followed quickly by Harry and Jorah. At the breach in the walls, a man cloaked in black, wearing a similar kraken helm to that of the Greyjoy at Seagard, stood dazed in the centre of the breach. Wearily raising an axe, he lumbered towards the attackers before Harry swiftly and viciously deprived him of his head, before darting past his fallen corpse and through the breach.
Harry and Jorah pressed on, into the castle, where they were met by wave after wave of Ironmen. Time and time again, Harry's sword bit deeply into the necks of the Ironborn, taking heads, arms, fingers, anything he could. Harry was immensely grateful for Jorah's presence by his side; more than once had the bear lord saved the boy from death as they fought their way through the castle. They had been fighting for what felt like hours before they caught up with the man with the flaming sword.
He introduced himself as Thoros of Myr, a red priest of R'hllor, when they stopped to catch their breath and gather their wits. Harry purposefully ignored the thin layer of blood that coated his sword and armour, in an attempt to get rid of the sickening feeling that he felt in his stomach. He had sent dozens of men to their graves today. Vicious, raping, twisted men they may have been, but they were merely following their lord's orders.
"What is dead may never die." He whispered uneasily.
"Not used to the sight of blood, boy?" Questioned the red priest bluntly. Taking Harry's silence as confirmation, he went on. "It's better them than you, lad. These bastards have been terrorizing the Western shores for thousands of years, and if we don't bring them to heel they'll just keep on pillaging. It's for the greater good."
Harry looked at him, unconvinced by his words, until the priest spoke again. "Remember lad; the night is dark and full of terrors. It's our job to keep the darkness at bay."
The priest's words stirred something in Harry, but he had little time to think about it as a group of men rushed their position, swords raised, yelling fiercely.
'Maybe it's alright to do a little evil if it brings a greater good.' He thought as he watched Jorah eviscerate one of the men with a practiced swing of his sword.
His mind fell back into the rhythm of battle as he swayed to avoid being bludgeoned with a driftwood cudgel, before ducking again as a flaming sword took the head off of his attacker.
"Keep up lad!" Bellowed Thoros, making Harry question if a person that exuberant in the face of death could really be a priest. "You wouldn't want to lose your head!" Roaring in laughter at his pun, he took off into the slowly building throng of men, his sword cutting a burning swathe through the iron host.
The sun was long over the top of the castle by the time the battle drew to a close. The three warriors had fought for hours, making their way through the castle, before halting at a gargantuan set of wooden doors, no doubt protecting the Great Hall of Pyke.
Jorah turned to look at Harry. "Thoros and I shall open it. We trust that you can protect us from what lies within while we do so?"
Harry grinned, his blood roaring in his ears. "We'll just have to see about that, my lord."
Taking a firm grip on the cool wood of the door the two warriors heaved with all their might, slowly pushing it open inch-by-inch, until they had made a gap large enough for Harry to slip through.
The air in the hall was thick and stifling, as blazing torches lit the way up to a raised dais. A wizened old man sat atop a seastone chair, the flames dancing off of the simple driftwood crown that he wore proudly atop his brow. Behind the 'throne' stood a young boy, who looked to be a few years younger than Harry. The boy let out a barely audible gasp as Harry approached warily, causing the old man, Balon Greyjoy, to growl in warning.
Harry could almost hear the unspoken threat. A kraken does not whimper before his foe. Behind him, he could hear that Jorah and Thoros had forced their way in, but he did not move his gaze from that of the old 'king.'
"Harry." Jorah was by his ear now, whispering hurriedly. "King Robert is almost here, as is Lord Stark."
As if on cue, the doors to the hall splintered and buckled as a terrible iron war hammer split the wood open. A man in a stag-antler helm marched forwards, ignoring the three fighters who had reached the throne room before him. Behind him, following at a more sedate pace, was Lord Stark. Seeing Harry's blood stained countenance, he grimaced but nodded solemnly in recognition of his valour.
"Lord Balon." A booming voice thundered through the hall. A voice rich with anger and passion; a voice that had raised half of Westeros in rebellion against a mad king. There was no doubt in Harry's mind that the antlered man was King Robert Baratheon, the first of his name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm.
The king cut an imposing figure; tall and broad, he towered over every man in the room, even over the bearlike figure of Jorah. "Your sons are dead!" The boy behind the throne began to tremble. "Your castle is broken, and your men lie in chains!"
He pointed the war hammer straight at the old Lord Greyjoy, showing off incredible strength by hefting it one-handed.
"You have one chance. Bend the knee or be destroyed."
By this point more men were swarming into the Hall. The kingsguard, resplendent in their gold armour and brilliant-white cloaks stood behind their king, swords ready to deal with any threat. Rising slowly from his grey stone chair, Balon Greyjoy raised a trembling hand to his forehead, before he flung his driftwood crown onto the cold floor by the feet of the Storm King. Taking a single shuddering step, he slowly fell forwards onto his knees, his fists resting on the ground, bending his neck in a show of subservience.
The war was over.
The King had triumphed.
Dusk had fallen over the royal encampment before Lord Eddard Stark sent for Harry. The boy was led by a page, through the endless twisting maze of tents and fires, before directing him to a large bare quadrangle that lay before the king's tent. Standing in a line, with the king himself in the centre, were the great noble commanders of the army; Ned Stark, Randyll Tarly, Ser Barristan Selmy, Paxter Redwyne, Ser Brynden Tully and Stannis Baratheon to name but a few.
In the centre of the field knelt Jorah, still clad in his blood and dust spattered plate armour from the battle. His sword was drawn but he held it by the blade, offering the handle up to the assembled noble lords.
"Kneel!" Croaked Lord Stark in a carrying whisper.
In an instant, Harry was upon the field, his pose imitating Jorah's perfectly as he offered the handle of his own sword towards the king. In a thundering trumpet of a voice, King Robert began to address the silent crowd of nobles.
"It is proper, my lords, to honour those who serve us with courage and dignity in the face of the enemy." The words may have spilled from the king's lips, but Harry knew that they truly had come from Lord Stark's mouth. He held out his hand as Lord Stark unbuckled his own great sword, Ice, from his back before pressing it into his friend's hands. Harry bowed his head lower, staring intently into the dust by his feet.
He felt a touch on his right shoulder, as the cold blade rested by his neck for an instant, before it was gone and he heard King Robert intone solemnly.
"In the name of the Warrior I charge you to be brave."
Again he felt the touch of icy steel, this time on his left shoulder, lingering only for the briefest of moments before rising once more.
"In the name of the Father I charge you to be just."
Once more he felt the tap on his right shoulder.
"In the name of the Mother I charge you to defend the young and innocent."
Now it came down on his left side.
"In the name of the Maiden I charge you to protect all women."
He felt a hand tug his chin upwards until his eyes met the stormy, warm eyes of the king.
"Do you so swear?"
Holding a clenched fist to his heart, Harry spoke slowly, in-time with Jorah. "I so swear."
The king's eyes danced in the light of the camp fires.
"By the Seven, arise a knight! Arise, Ser Jorah Mormont! Arise, Ser Harry the Potter!"
A great roar rose from the throats of the assembled throng, as the two newly-anointed knights stood stiffly, sheathing their swords. Dozens of voices shouted congratulations at the pair, others issuing offers of challenge and yet more offering to feast the knights at some obscure holdfast or another.
"Enough!" Roared the King, "Seven hells, did we fight today! And by the gods, we're going to celebrate!"
Another cheer greeted his words as men rushed off in every direction, fetching casks of ale and musical instruments and food and whores, all to be enjoyed long into the night in celebration of their great victory.
Harry pushed his way through the crowd, forcing his way between men that stood more than a whole head taller than him, before he reached Lord Stark.
"You fought well today, Ser." His tone was light and jovial.
"Aye my lord, as did you."
Ned laughed heartily. "I didn't see near so much of the fight as you did, lad, and I think you know why."
Harry had the grace to look abashed at Ned's words.
"I'm not mad, Harry. I just think you should be careful. You're a fine fighter, and the youngest boy to be knighted since the Kingslayer when he was but ten-and-three, but you should still take care around a battle."
"I will my lord." Harry casted around, searching for another subject to talk about. "Will you be heading north soon, my lord?"
"Aye, I will, as will you. You've proved yourself in battle, so the North lords will have no problem with you being my sworn shield."
Harry flushed a little. "Thank you, my lord."
"We'll travel to Winterfell as soon as the nobles decide who will foster Theon."
"Theon?" Harry's brow furrowed. "Lord Greyjoy's son?"
"Aye lad. Robert wanted to push him onto me, but when he heard that I was already taking a lad to foster, and that that lad had killed Theon's two elder brothers; Rodrick and Maron, he decided that it would be best for him to go elsewhere."
"You're fostering me?" Harry asked, surprised.
Ned nodded. "You have three more years before you become a proper man. If you're to represent my house it's my duty to make sure that you are educated and looked after until then, which means that you will be fostered at Winterfell for the foreseeable future."
"I… am honoured, Lord Stark."
"As well you should be, boy!" Ned joked, "You'll have to earn your keep at my castle, or I'll send you packing back to Seagard."
Harry could only grin in reply.
He already loved his new life with the Starks.
AN: A pretty heft first chapter, but I felt that I had to get it all out of the way quite quickly to set the story before the GoT timeline began. The next chapter will be set after a nine year time skip, starting with the king's arrival at Winterfell.
Despite the title being the words of House Tully, the story will have little focus on the Riverlords, however I did feel that their words encapsulated the ideals that Harry strives towards, in this story. I plan for the majority of the story to focus on the Houses of Stark, Targaryen, Lannister and Baratheon.