A/N: Let me begin by saying that I have avoided this fandom thus far. Mostly because I knew it would be a black hole that would suck me in and never let me out... Well, at least I knew that much. It got to the point that I couldn't avoid it anymore so I settled myself down. I'm on the next to the last episode of the first season and about 200 pages into the first book. Both are fantastic so far, but this leads up to my warning: I'm doing what I should never, never do - I'm writing fanfiction before catching up on a series. So, my utmost apologies if they are OOC, if I have blatant plot issues because something will be explained later etc etc... I don't think that should be an issue, as this takes place before the story begins, but you just never know. If so, please feel free to let me know.
Moments Like These
He heard his name called out as he slowly came to, feeling as if he were pinned under some great weight that he couldn't see. It took a moment for him to realize that he couldn't see much of anything at at all and panic welled up. He pushed it back down just as quickly. It would do him no good.
"Jon?" Robb's voice sounded again, scratchy as if he'd swallowed a mouthful of dust.
Jon grunted a response, not quite able to make his lips move to form the words.
"Next name day, if I ask for anything as foolish as this one, tell me no."
His half-brother smiled despite himself as memories started to come back slowly. There had been a party and dancing and a pretty girl that Robb had all but shoved into Jon's arms with a wide grin as both blushed in response, but it was Robb's name day and it was as if he were king. Jon could not bear to deny him any request.
Jon closed his dark grey eyes, trying to fit all the pieces back together. The party, Robb's laughter and demands that his brother - "My little brother for three whole months. I won't let you forget it!" he'd declared - join in the fun, Lady Stark's vocal disaproval that her husband's bastard son was there at all, not to mention dancing and laughing as if he were one of her children as well, and finally Robb and Jon scurrying out as the tensions rose well above the usual point.
"The cave," Jon rasped, realizing what had come next. Robb hadn't been ready to let the festivities end and Jon hadn't been able to tell him no. A bit of adventure far away from angry words and expectations seemed the best response, but as they'd ventured further in, their voices reached places that no others had and something had caused a rockslide.
But he was missing something out of the story. Something important.
"Arya?" Robb called, sounding as if he were moving to either sit up or stand.
Fear gripped at Jon and he echoed Robb's call, shifting to stand as well. Pain shot through him and he bit back a cry, finding himself pinned to the floor of the cave.
"I'm here," came a small voice somewhere to their right. There was the sound of rocks shifting and someone small standing. "I'm alright. Jon pushed me out of the way before it came down."
That explained why he was pinned.
"You get clear, Jon?" Robb asked. He was shuffling carefully closer to their voices.
"Not entirely," the younger boy admitted.
"How much is not entirely?" Robb squinted into the darkness. There was light somewhere, because he could see the outline of his younger sister some few feet away.
Arya stooped to take hold of the torch she'd been put in charge of upon entering. It was nearly out, having been laid over at an odd angle, but seemed more willing to come back to life once she righted it. Warm light spread outward from it, far enough for both Stark siblings to see the dark curls and long face of their half brother. Arya gave a small sound at the site of her favourite sibling buried beneath the rubble. As she moved closer with the light, they could see that the rocks covered more of his body than they did not, pinning his left arm and both legs beneath. A rather large slab of rock lay across his chest.
Robb knelt next to Jon, reaching a trembling hand to push back dark hair. "We'll get you out," he promised.
Jon offered what he meant to be an encouraged smile, but it quickly flattened into a grimace.
The eldest sibling motioned for Arya to move the torch closer, the light casting eerie shadows. "Just hold it there," he instructed as he began to pull at some of the loose rocks that were piled on top of Jon Snow.
Jon kept his expression as blank as he could as the rocks were removed. The pressure was easing a bit, but with it came pain. He watched Robb move, blue eyes focused entirely on the project of digging him out and hands moving steadily even as the jagged rocks cut his hands.
"Is that blood?" Arya managed, dark eyes fixated on Jon.
"Yes," Robb grunted as he used two hands to lift a larger rock. They didn't speak anymore of it and Jon didn't ask. It would only make the job more difficult if he struggled to see the damage done at this point. Finally, after what felt like hours, Robb dug down until only the large rock across his middle left.
"You can move your feet, right?" Robb asked carefully.
Jon closed his eyes and focused. He tried his left leg first and immediately regretted it. Pain shot up and down the leg. His right leg seemed much easier to move and gained him a nod of approval from his high-born brother. "Can you hold the torch, Jon? I'll need Arya's help to lift the last one."
The trapped boy gave a short nod and reached his right hand up to take hold of the light source. Arya looked hesitant to give it up, or perhapse simply unsure of how much use she could be in lifting the rock from him.
Robb had a determined look on his features as he inspected the offending piece of rock that had once been a part of the ceiling. After a moment of looking he motioned and he and Arya switched sides, the elder Stark giving firm instructions to get out if the way if it tumbled wrong.
She stood back, ready to jump into action in whatever was needed as soon as the command left either of her brothers' lips. Her dark eyes were wide as she saw Robb struggle to lift the rock, Jon's eyes closing tightly and every muscle in his body seeming to tense. After a moment it became clear that the young Stark heir did not have the height and strength combination to remove the large rock. Somehow in a flurry of shouts Arya understood and grabbed her injured half brother to help drag him out from under.
"We're clear!" she called, sinking down next to where Jon was curled on his side, free of the rubble but seeming to focus entirely on breathing at that point.
Robb let the slab of rock crash back to the ground, dust flying everywhere and he sat down heavily next to his siblings and was breathing hard. Arya had taken the torch back when it had slipped from Jon's fingers and was holding it in one hand, the other stroking damp curls back.
He lay curdled on one side, not having moved at all since Arya had pulled him. Dark eyes, what little could be seen under heavy lids, were glassy and unfocused.
Arya looked up to Robb with a panicked expression.
Her brother offered her a reassuring nod as he scooted closer, hand gently touching Jon's shoulder. "You can't sleep now," he murmured. "We have to get out before there's an other cave in." His words were calm, but he could feel a tightness forming in his chest with each passing moment that his brother gave no response. "Come on now, Jon. You know we Starks are harder than this to kill."
"Not a Stark," came the sullen reply.
"Maybe not in name," Robb conceded. "But you are our brother. You're just as strong as any Stark."
Jon blinked warily, forcing himself to focus. He could see Arya leaning in, dark eyes frightened. He could feel his bones shift unnaturally with every breath, but forced himself up anyway. He could feel Robb wrap an arm around his shoulders to help him and he but back a cry of pain.
"I've got you," Robb promised. He glanced down to take in the visible injuries. His left leg was bent stiffly at the knee and blood had dried against his side, darkening the already dark material. His face was pale and sweat mixed with blood against dark curls. "Can you stand?"
"I'll have to," Jon managed and clenched his teeth together as Robb helped him to his feet. He felt the world pulse in and out but somehow managed to stay upright with Robb's support.
The movement was slow, but there was only one direction the could go as the rockslide had blocked the way they had come. There were other exits, well known to the young Starks and their brother, but it had never seemed quite as far away as it did that.
Jon seemed more alert after a few minutes of movement, though if the pain had subsided or if he had just put it aside, Robb could not be sure. Either way, it had eased Arya's mind and that seemed enough for now. They trudged on, exhausted and aching, until they reached a small room that looked to be a deadend. A deadend except for the stream of light that was peeking through an opening at the top of a rocky slope.
"That's our exit?"
Arya glanced up at her brothers, the question hanging in the air before she crossed her arms, looking as if she wouldn't bother to answer until they gave her a reason for the retort.
Jon sighed. "My knee won't hold to get up that."
"Sure it will. Just take it a little at a time."
"Those rocks may not hold any of us," Robb murmured, eyeing them carefully. Many looked ready to roll at any provocation and take the others along with them.
"They'll hold me," Arya said as she shoved the torch into her eldest brother's hand and sprinted up the slope and towards the opening, ignoring both of their cries. Her feet were sure and her frame small and light enough to make it to the top with no trouble at all. She stood in the opening, arms crossed expectantly.
"Perhaps we should just be happy Bran didn't join in on this as well," Robb grumbled.
"Yes, because being shown by our little sister is better than being shown by our little brother," Jon snarked. He sighed, grey eyes focused and watching for anything that might go wrong.
Robb tightened his grip on Jon's arm and they started up slowly, picking their way around the looser rocks as best as they could. The elder brother felt the younger tense as he put too much weight against his left leg.
"I hear something!" Arya shouted, peeking through the opening.
"Stay here," Robb barked. The woods were no place for his little sister to wander through without her brothers to step in at a moment's notice.
"But I hear someone! It sounds like Father!"
They were nearly to the top and Arya was out of sight when Jon's knee gave out. Robb moved quickly, trying to steady the other boy, when his footing slipped and he felt himself slipping back. In an instant he released Jon to do what he could not to drag his already injured brother with him, and fell.
"Robb!" Jon cried out, his leg giving way and he found himself sitting hard against the ground, watching the young Stark heir slip backwards and roll back to the bottom of the slope. Loose rocks followed after him and he didn't move. "Robb!"
Jon felt panic bubbling inside of him and he was following before he knew he'd given his body permission to move, but strong hands took hold of him from behind, keeping him from his brother. He began to struggle, Robb's name tumbling from his lips.
"Snow, easy," Jory Cassel's voice sounded in his ear. "M'lord Stark! We've found them!" he called over his shoulder. "Easy, lad. You're hurt."
"Robb fell," Jon gasped out, his usual composure in shambles. "He's not moving. Please, let go!"
"You'll do him no good furthering your own injuries. I'll go down for him."
Jon felt another pair of hands on him and he was pulled through the opening, all the while struggling weakly against and calling out to Robb.
He stopped instantly, dark grey eyes looking to the voice and finding a pair very much the same. He was too old to cry, he knew, but all he could think about was Robb lying at the bottom of the slope broken and dead. "Father-"
Lord Eddard Stark held one hand up in a motion that called for silence. He murmured something to the man who had ahold of Jon and the boy found himself being passed over so that he was now leaning on his father. "Are you hurt?"
"Jory will get to Robb and until he brings him up here there is nothing you or I can do. Are you hurt?"
"A bit," Jon admitted softly.
Ned frowned. Jon was not one to make complaints, so the boy's admittance to slight injury spoke of worse. He looked him over, noting the way he favoured his left leg and the blood that had dried against his clothing and in his dark curls. His eyes were clear though, even if the urgency was still there.
"He's breathing, M'lord," Jory called, coming from the cave with a limp Robb in his arms. The eldest of the Stark children looked very young and very small in the Captain of the Guard's arms. No one would have guessed that it had been his twelfth name day.
Ned tightened his grip on Jon, immediately stopping him from racing forward. "Stay," he said gruffly, moving to his first born. His hands pushed back auburn hair and he spoke lowly. Robb seemed to hear him as he moaned in response, seeming on the edge of consciousness. When The Lord of Winterfell was satisfied, he instructed Jory to carry his heir carefully as he could and straight to Maester Luwin. He then turned and pulled Jon up into his arms without warning. "That leg won't hold you the whole way back. Swallow your pride," his father said, his voice firm but not unkind.
Jon wanted to protest, but the jolt of energy he'd received from the shock of watching Robb fall was wearing off and he felt everything slip away slowly even as his father began their trek back to the castle.
He felt like there was a great weight against his chest and for a moment Jon Snow thought perhaps he'd dreamt their rescue. It took a moment for him to realize that he was laid back against a pile of pillows on his own bed in his own room. His left leg was propped up, knee bandaged tightly and it ached. He shifted, taking inventory and feeling his ribs protest the movement. He glanced down to see bandages peeking out from under his loose tunic.
Dark eyes darted over to see the similar ones of the only true-born Stark sibling to share them. Arya lit up, unfolding herself from where she'd been curled into a chair by his bedside. "I thought you'd never wake up! How do you feel?"
"A bit sore," he admitted softly. "Are you alright?"
She nodded. "Scraped up a bit, but you saved me from the worst of it. Do you remember?"
"Pieces. How's Robb?"
Arya made a face that Jon was sure was as far from ladylike as she could muster. "Sansa ran me out, but Robb woke up for a few minutes. Maester Luwin wanted both of you to sleep for a bit."
"But he's okay?"
She nodded. "Broken wrist - left, not right, so it shouldn't have a bad time on his ability to wield a sword - and a bump on the head. He's pretty bruised up too, but he doesn't seem to mind too much. He was asking about you too."
Jon let himself smile fondly. His brother was okay and his sister was unharmed. He would take all the pains in the world to have this as the outcome.
Both children startled at the muffled yelling that could be heard from the hallway and Arya rolled her eyes dramatically and sighed. "They've been at it since Father brought us home," she said, motioning to the door. The voices were unmistakably Lord and Lady Stark's.
"Your son lies injured in his chambers and you go to that bastard instead!"
"They are both my sons, Cat," Ned Stark answered warily. "I have seen Robb. Now I will see Jon."
"You should have let someone else carry that boy in, not you. Do you know what that says, how that looks, to have Jory carrying Robb while you carry some other woman's child in your arms as if he were the same!"
"No, not this time, Ned. What about Arya? What about-"
Arya was on her feet and out the door without warning. "Jon saved my life!" she yelled, her voice echoing through the hallways. "The rocks were coming down and he didn't even hesitate! He pushed me out if the way. He's hurt because I'm his little sister and he loves me. Don't be cruel!"
Jon couldn't see the Lady's face from where he lay in bed, even if Arya had let the door fly on its hinges in her haste. He could see their father though, with his stern expression and the twinkle of pride in his dark eyes. He scooped his daughter up, told her not to be impolite to her mother - "But she was being impolite to Jon!" - and moved into his son's room without another word to his wife. He set Arya down and closed the door, looking as if there were a great weight on him as well. When he opened his eyes and saw Jon staring back, they were full of guilt.
"I'm sorry you heard all of that."
"She's never liked me," Jon murmured, trying to sound more practical than hurt. He didn't think he succeeded.
"It's not your fault though, and perhaps someday she'll remember that." He took a seat on the bed and looked down at the boy that looked more like him than any of his true-born children. "How are you feeling?"
"Better?" his father asked with a quirked eyebrow. "The same as only being a bit hurt?"
Jon looked sheepish and Ned ruffled his curls fondly.
"How's Robb?" Jon asked after a moment.
"I already told you!" Arya grumbled.
"Hush," their father murmured and proceeded to tell Jon exactly what his sister had said.
"I want to see him. May I, Father?"
"Maester Luwin ordered bed rest for you both." His dark eyes darted toward the door as if he'd heard something, but he made no further note of it. "It's best you do not try to put pressure on that knee until it's had time to mend."
"Yes Father," Jon answered sulkily.
"But if your brother were to happen to slip past his guard-sister and make it down the hall to your room, I may not see that he has done so."
Arya and Jon exchanged glances, then looked toward the door. Their father moved past his eldest son, purposefully not looking at him even as he ruffled his hair gently. "I would just ask that if he were foolish enough to go against the Maester's instructions to stay in bed that he would at least partially heed them once he was sure that his brother is indeed alive and well and safe," Ned Stark called over his shoulder and then was gone.
Robb closed the door behind him, exhaustion evident. "Good to see you alive."
"You too. You took quite a fall there at the end."
Robb nodded with a grimace, as if the reminder made him hurt worse. "I don't remember much," he admitted and moved over to the bed. He took a seat when Jon moved over, Arya piling in on top of them both, hugging them as fiercely as she dared.
"I'm glad to see both of you!" she declared, embracing them again.
The boys leaned in, their little sister nestled in between. "Well," Jon murmured, feeling his eyelids droop, "I suppose this will be a name day difficult to forget in the end."
Robb chuckled. "Yours is in three months, brother."
Jon only groaned, pulling a laugh from both Stark siblings.
It wasn't long until they were fast asleep, leaned against each other and snoring lightly. They looked so peaceful when Ned returned to watch his children. There were days that he regretted the pain he caused Catelyn as he asked her to look onto the face of a child that she saw as a symbol of disloyalty, days that he felt he had chosen poorly in that moment when he'd gathered little Jon in his arms and had been unable to give him back, when he'd chosen to bring him home. He thought, in those moments, that perhaps it had been unfair to Robb and to the children that had come after them, and equally as unfair to Jon to show him what could have been, had he only been born of Catelyn Stark and not a woman that he would never know. There were many days and many moments of regret and pain that he knew he had caused, but there were also moments, moments like these, in which he saw the affection that blossomed between his children. There was no care for birthright or for place, just the love of siblings between them. It was these moments that washed away all others and left him with the warm feeling deep within that only family could bring to him.
A/N: Confession time to those that are not my regular readers (because those that are already know): I'm a review addict. I've tried seeking help, but it just didn't work. :)