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Someone recently mentioned something about fanart for Iagan, and I wish I could do something about it, but I'm not very skilled in that department. Sorry! (I'd like to see some about that too, actually)
Hope you like this chapter. I can't wait to read your thoughts.
Chapter 37 : Roots
Unlike many other times in which they had traveled north, the people felt on the edge, nervous because of the reasons that had led them there. Dany could feel it, even if she was inside the carriage in which Robb had forced her into; he refused to let her ride when her wounds were still fresh and she had just left the bed, but he was not about to leave her behind now, not when she could be the next target for Tywin Lannister.
She looked through the window and from the corner of her eyes she saw Irri fidgeting. Her handmaiden disliked traveling like this, she'd rather walk than being inside that carriage and Daenerys could not have agreed more. In front of them sat Catelyn and Arya, the latter looking quite bored even if she wanted to go back home and see her siblings and nephew; just like usual, Arya had just hoped to ride on a horse and hear stories from Ser Barristan or Ser Jorah.
Sighing, Dany asked for water to Irri.
She detested feeling as weak as she was feeling, to be of no help whatsoever. But she also felt the surge of an emotion she had tried to bury inside her, the longing to see her son. She could only imagine how he'd look now, approaching his first nameday.
According to Catelyn, Iagan was a very especial boy who never cried but whimpered softly when things were uncomfortable for him, one who tried to call the least attention possible on him. But overall, Iagan radiated light in that castle and he was impossible to ignore.
Outside the carriage, Grey Wind followed them at the same rhythm, like a faithful guardian.
It was only then that she remembered what she had left behind, and particularly worried about Dacey. The woman had expressed her desire to return to Bear Island as soon as possible, to spend the time of her pregnancy there, where no one would ask questions about anything. And even if Dany thought the Kingslayer had the right to know about the babe, she often wondered if the child's life would be better if no one ever told a thing.
Having a burden like that was something they knew pretty well. Family and blood was not always something that made you proud.
"Are you feeling fine?" Catelyn asked, reaching for her hand.
Dany nodded softly and tried to smile, despite looking as pale as she was and tired as she felt. "I want to arrive home and have my son in my arms. That will make me feel better."
From above them, the dragons cried before they landed close by.
It was time to stop and eat before continuing their way to Winterfell.
Days seemed to get longer the closer they got to Winterfell. Maybe it was because she knew they were so close and yet it would take time. Had she been able, Dany would have ridden Drogon and arrive much sooner, but her wounds were keeping her in place.
Robb had wondered at night, "Do you think he has forgotten me?" And there was so much hurt and regret in his voice that Dany endured the physical pain as she hugged him.
"Never." She pressed her cheek to his shoulder and brethed in shakily. "He could never forget you. He might look different but he'll know you, as soon as you see him, Iagan will know who you are."
And perhaps it was not enough to quell his fears but at least he felt calmer.
The last thing Dany wanted for Robb was him piling up reasons why to feel guilty, why to think that even if his decisions had felt right at the time, they were leading him to a huge fall in which he would lose everything, even what he loved the most.
"If they gave you a choice, would you rather fall with me or be queen and fulfill your dreams? If they promised you everything…"
"Don't," she interrupted before he continued his train of thought. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because I realize now that we are not as strong as we think. I have a large army but we're fighting against much more seasoned warlords who play a game I'm just learning the rules of. A game that could cost me more than just a title."
"Robb," she murmured as she touched his cheek tenderly. "We are better players because we born into this game. We don't know anything else." She kissed his lips softly and then closed her eyes. "We will defeat them."
They stayed together for a while, just hearing each other breathe, just enjoying a peaceful moment before the storm about to come. His warmth was enough to make Dany feel safe and remember there was more than war and conspiracy.
"I only wonder, why has Stannis decided to come North if he was so close to defeat Tywin by sea?"
It was something that Dany had asked herself too. Stannis had had the chance of defeating Tywin easily, right before he had decided to buy the Unsullied, but instead he had decided to take a route leading him north. Why? Dany was not aware of the reasons, considering Robb's army controlled most of Westeros by then.
When the Great Keep came into view, Daenerys wanted nothing more than to be able to jump out of the carriage and run into the castle to see her son, to have the strength to pick him up and hold him close to her. Instead she felt her eyes full of stubborn tears that refused to go away as much as she wished for it.
Without a word, Catelyn reached out and held her hand, squeezing it softly before letting go.
Unsurprisingly, it was Arya the one who jumped out of the carriage first, running as fast as she could and almost tackling Theon on her frenetic attempt to escape. She had expressed many times her wish to see Bran, since the last she remembered was seeing him unconscious and weak. After hearing the stories of him riding dragons and flying, she could only be happy, and a little jealous if Dany had read her expressions correctly.
A page and Irri helped her exit the carriage. The pain she felt was enough to make her hiss, difficulting her breathing but she withstood it the best she could.
At the moment her gaze scanned the courtyard, she soon found Sansa and her reddish her. There was a smile where once she could only see sadness, and her cheeks were in a lovely rosy tone thanks to the snow and cold. Even so, what made Dany smile was the sight of the small boy in Sansa's arms, a boy with hair as white as snow and blue eyes who looked at her attentively.
"My boy," Dany whispered as she walked towards them, her skirt feeling even heavier thanks to the snow covereing the ground and falling over them.
Once finally in front of Iagan, she cradled his face in her hands and planted a soft kiss on his forehead. Dany rejoiced in the feeling of his soft skin and tiny hands reaching for her.
"Mama," he uttered in a new voice, melodic and soft.
Sansa chuckled. "Yes, yes. Good, Iagan."
Dany just ignored everything but her son, not noticing how Sansa had told him who she was.
Her eyes welled with tears when the small boy took a handful of her hair and forced her to get closer. He looked up into her eyes and called her once more, this time with full certainty as if her scent and hair had been finally recognized. "Mama."
They were both so absorbed in learning each other again, that it wasn't until Robb was standing right next to them that Dany noticed him. Her smile grew bigger when she saw the soft smile in Robb's face, and for the first time in many days she saw that spark of happiness in him. He was not broken yet, despite everything that had happened in those last weeks.
"Come here," Robb called as he took Iagan from Sansa's hold and lifted the boy high above his head, making their son laugh joyously, breaking the solemn athmosphere in the kingdom. When Robb joined him with a gruff laugh, Dany felt her heart swelling inside her chest with a mix of pride and happiness. "You're strong and big."
Father and son looked at each other with those big blue eyes that reminded Dany of the freezing waters of the North but also the tenderness of their warmth.
"Son," Robb whispered and let the little boy curled himself against his chest, clinging to the furs draped over Robb's shoulders. "I missed you," he whispered, pressing his cheek against the crown of Iagan's head.
Encouraging him and rubbing his back with her hand, Dany prompted Iagan to share his voice with Robb, to show him how much he had grown.
The look on Robb's face was priceless, because one tiny boy was able to really get to him, to affect him with just one word.
"Papa," Iagan muttered as his pudgy hand reached out to touch Robb's beard.
While Robb was still locked in, discussing his new strategies regarding Stannis and the seemingly impendent attack, Daenerys had decided to share some time with Robb's sibblings. She had already spoken her mind directly with Robb. Right then, she felt no desire or strength to fight with a group of men who believed that just because of their gender, they knew more about everything than her.
Arya was chasing Rickon with Summer and Shaggy following them around while Sansa sat demurely next to her mother, always drinking in whatever she could learn about being a proper lady.
"Jon wrote a couple of notes," Bran told her softly, earning himself Dany's full attention even if she was smiling at Iagan who sat in her lap. "He, he's our half-brother."
"I know. Robb has mentioned him."
"Yes," Bran murmured. "He has become the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. It's quite the position of power."
Yes, of course Dany understood. Even if kingdoms could bend the knee and swear loyalty to a king, the Night's Watch was an organization that abided to its own rules and merely respected the ruling monarchs. Having Jon as Lord Commander and Robb fighting to become king, certainly put them under suspicion; Jon and Robb had a bond too strong for any of them to betray the other.
"He spoke about trouble north of the Wall. He wanted us to let Robb know about this but I refused." Bran ducked his head with shame as Daenerys' eyes widened with surprise. "I saw creatures in my dreams, in the frozen forest, through Viserion eyes."
Dany stopped bouncing Iagan and placed a hand on Bran's shoulder.
Hodor sat close by but the gentle giant was like always in another world, not paying attention to whatever they were talking about in hushed voices.
"You've had dreams about what's to come." She looked at Iagan and remembered how while she was pregnant she'd had dreams too. Could it be that Starks had a blood that allowed them to see beyond what laid in front of them at the time? She'd heard about greensight, but had never believed in it; during the days she had spent speaking with Maester Luwin when she had first arrived to Winterfell, she had read that children of the forest had the ability, but little more was known given that they were extinct.
Even if it was not a question, Bran replied. "Yes." His eyes turned sad as he looked at her. "Many nights ago, I dreamt of Viserion whimpering as if hurt. I felt sad as he looked at the small snowdrops peeking through the fresh snow that had fallen."
"And I got hurt."
She lowered her eyes to study Iagan as he innocently sucked on his fist, spit falling down the corners of his mouth and an adorable smile as she watched him.
"What have you dreamt about lately?"
"Before we received Jon's last message, I saw blood on the snow and small obsidian blades. I was Viserion perched on The Wall, but we were under attack by some… creatures."
Bran pressed his lips together and furrowed his brow, as if keeping some of his thoughts to himself. "Jon sent a message to all the Lords fighting the war, because the wildlings have been seen getting closer to The Wall. They plan an attack."
"They are escaping." It was just an assumption after hearing what Bran had said about his dream.
Bran said nothing and only looked at Viserion who was curled close by in the Goodswood. The other two dragons were flying in circles above Winterfell, enjoying the restricted freedom they had in the North.
"Have you seen anything about the outcome of this particular event?" Dany asked, helping Iagan to stand in front of her by holding his hands. He wobbled, but squealed and babbled as he moved his legs.
"You mean about Stannis?" Bran shook his head. "I don't see answers, just… things. Sometimes they feel like nightmares, but Osha said they were not."
Dany looked at him earnestly. "I believe you. I've had dreams like those as well. There's nothing to worry about as long as you work on them, maybe speak to Maester Luwin about them."
Bran just nodded.
Moments later, Grey Wind strutted into the Godswood, going directly to stand in front of Iagan. It was no surprise for Dany to see that instead of fear, Iagan's face showed only recognition. The little boy reached promptly for the direwolf's head and it was Rickon who quickly helped him to climb on Grey Wind's back.
For the mother it was both frightening and awe worthy to see her little boy lying on top of the wild animal, clinging to the fur as Grey Wind slowly walked towards the Heart Tree, where he finally lied down under its shadow.
"Eddard always spent time next to that tree when he needed answers," Catelyn offered for Dany.
She knew that this was perhaps a way in which Iagan could get closer to his grandfather and his heritage, but this only forced her to think about wanting to go back to Dragonstone and the Red Keep, where he could be close to her heritage.
"I hope he will be as loyal and sensible as Eddard was."
She certainly did not want him to be like her father after what she had learned in her time in Westeros, and much less after what Jaime had said to her regarding the relationship with her mother. She would have never objected about being inclined to the arts and elegance as Rhaegar, though.
They turned their heads around when Rickon ran right into Robb. He stood there and swallowed thickly before speaking.
"Stannis has sent a raven. He wants a truce while we fight against the wildlings. He is not here to attack Winterfell, but to help defend The Wall." His eyes trained on his son, peacefully slumbering on Grey Wind's back. "And I need to go in Jon's aid, as well."