AN1: Okay, first of all (and very important indeed), this is my first fic, so bare with me. I'm also without a Beta, so any spelling mistake can (and should) be pointed out - I'm pretty sure I've read this enough times to recite it by heart, but at some point you just stop noticing your own mistakes.
Also, this is kind of a try-out. I've always wanted to write fanfic, but I'm kind of ashamed of my writing... I have a lot of ideas, just not the talent to execute them properly - hopefully, practicing will help.
AN2: Second of all, this story is an AU set at some point after Ned's death and before the Red Wedding (*shudder*). In this particular timeline, Dany decided to come from the north instead of the south to try and combine forces with the wildlings. Soooo, no Ygritte or Hizdahr in this scenario (sorry Ygritte or Hizdahr fans!). The idea is to update at least three times a week. I can do it!
I keep watching the snow fall without really noticing it. Of course it's not like there needs to be an especific reason for that (let's face it, it's not exactly out of the ordinary to snow north of the Wall), but today, there is. There is a reason for me to be unsettled, awkwardly moving beneath this tree, finding it hard to get comfortable. It really isn't the fact that I am trying to get comfortable sitting on the ground, with Ghost sleeping heavily at my feet and facing the sort of cold that somehow gets through the ridiculous amount of clothes I'm wearing and pinches my skin like a silver blade. No, that's not the reason. There's just something wrong going on, and though I can't completely put my finger on it, I just keep feeling like the worst is about to happen.
So I try to think about Winterfell, try to remember what that place smells like, what it sounds like.
They say it's normal, my friends I mean (or maybe I should say my brothers), they say that after a while north of the Wall you start to forget about everything. The place you come from, your old family (like there is such a thing as old family), you can even forget about yourself if you're not careful enough. But I still haven't forget about them, I haven't forget about Arya's bravery, Rob's companionship, Bran's imagination, Rickon's wildness, nor even about Sansa's constant drama. I can easily see them all if I just close my eyes. Sometimes I can even see my father, all mighty on his horse, the picture of bravery and honor combined; I can see him staring down at me and it gives me such a huge sense of emotion that makes me want to grab my own horse and ride south, where I know my brother is fighting an unwanted war.
There's a loud noise when Sam moves in his spot on the ground and breaks another piece of wood. I have told him about that a hundred times, that the minimum sound could announce our position to any possible enemy, and that he should clean up the place before he laid on it, but he forgot of course. Because he always do. I try to think of any possible reason for this man, this boy, to be here right now. He could be back at the Wall, safe behind it, cooking, cleaning, summoning - doing a lot of other tasks that wouldn't so easily get him killed. But he came of course, he left everything behind and came with us. Because of me he said, because maybe he could be used "as a shield or something" if things turned out bad. That he could save me in the process, be useful somehow. I tried to reason with him, I said I didn't like it, and I certainly wouldn't choose it if I could, but that's the thing, it wasn't my choice to make, so I let him come.
And I regret it every single day.
I get up easily and Ghost instantly wakes up, he looks at me almost offended and I have to suppress a laugh. He is getting bigger, and I'm not sure when he is supposed to stop growing, nor do I care - the bigger he gets, the scariest he gets, and I have to say is rather useful to have a horse-size ferocious creature right beside you in a battle.
The sun is starting to rise and I slowly wake every one of my brothers up, leaving Sam for last. He's already awake when I get to him.
"It doesn't get any warmer, right?" he asks, and I move my head slowly indicating a simple "no".
He lets a small breath out of his mouth and stares at me sadly.
"I'm really tired." he says. I don't answer him right away, I just stare at the man who's been my brother for almost four years now and my stomach aches for fear of what might happen to him if we ever get in a real battle around here.
He looks terrible, and I'm pretty sure I don't look so good myself. We've been out of the border for about four months now and it's starting to get the best of us. There had been sights of unusual people along the area we're now at, and we were sent to investigate it. We found nothing but cold so far, and I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't just call it done and return to the safety behind the Wall. I look at Sam's tired eyes and offer him a small smile.
"We're almost done." I say softly. "Just one more day, alright?"
He nods and gets up slowly.
"You think we will actually find something?" he asks, and I can't help but notice the fear in his voice.
"Probably not." I say, and I actually believe it. "Just more snow where we're headed."
He smiles at that.
"Good..." he says in a fake relieved voice. "I was starting to wonder if it would ever get cold around here."
We both laugh, but it doesn't last of course. That's the thing about being a night's watcher: hard work half of the time, nearly death situations the other half, and about no fun whatsoever.
Only there is a reason for us to stop laughing this time. It's probably the same reason reason I was so disturbed a few minutes ago. And certainly has to do with the ten warriors that are coming in our direction, all armed with some kind of salvage weapon that I've never seen before, with no armor at all, but probably twice our size, and the most worrisome part, twice our number.
I yell at Sam to hide and he does it without any further order. The rest of my four men stand beside me as we face the attackers and hope that somehow we'll be able to talk them out of this battle. I raise both of my hand in a surrender gesture, and for some reason I'm not entirely surprised when they don't even slow down the attack.
There's something about their size, their wildness and their brave expressions that tell me they are not after anything from us, besides our lives that is. So I face my companions and I see in their eyes what must be reflected in mine. That is it, we're dying, and we won't be able to even acknowledged who did the job. I close my eyes for a moment, I remember them again, their ways, their eyes, their personalities, I remember my father and I wonder if he would finally think something of me, if he would be proud of me, I guess I'll be able to ask him in a moment.
Then comes the shock, the first warrior swings his axe at me and I block it with my sword. He's incredibly strong, but also slow I notice, not enough to give us the advantage to win, but enough to let me hold him until Sam can run, until he can escape. Another warrior seems to notice that his friend is having trouble with me because he joins our fight, and before I know there is two bodies by my side. I count them down in my head and look around.
My companions aren't having my luck, I can see a small body on the ground, and I guess it must the new guy, I can't really remember his name, but it was his first trip outside the borders. I watch as another body falls right beside me, and notice one of my brothers fighting three warriors on my left. I move to help, but I'm already caught up with two enemies of my own. One of them actually hits me and I thank the gods I'm wearing an armor. It's not that it didn't hurt me, because it did, I can feel the warmth of my own blood covering the right side of my chest, but I would be without an arm if it were not for the protection. Ghost intervenes then, and I wonder what took him so long. I watch as the two warriors actually hesitate when they see my companion beast, and I'm not sure if they're scared, or simple don't want to hurt the animal.
I make a mental note of the information, but than I remember I probably won't be around to use it.
It doesn't take long until me and Ghost finish both of them, and I notice they're not as strong as I firstly assumed, a sting of hope passes trough me, but it doesn't last. The next second I notice I'm already alone in this war. There are four bodies around me, and five warriors right in front of me. They stare at me up and down, probably curious on why am I still alive, why is there a direwolf fighting alongside me, and how did I manage to kill four of them.
That's when I realize I'm okay with it - dying, I mean - Sam is not around so I guess he did manage to escape, the warriors probably won't kill Ghost seeing they hesitated in doing it moments ago. My brothers are all dead, and I don't even take the time to mourn them, I'll be soon to follow - I'm okay with it, I really am.
It does not mean, of course, I'll go down without a fight.
They prepare themselves to come in my direction and I do the same. One of them, the bigger one, says something in a language I'm yet to understand, and that's it, they're all coming for me. I raise my sword and try to ignore the pain on my right side, but there's an actual smile on my face when they finally reach me.
I mean, I was born for this, you can't really say otherwise.
I move quickly because I know that's my only advantage. That, and Ghost of course, I can see him destroying the arm of one of the warriors by my side, and I bless the day father let me keep him.
There's a sharp pain on my back when one of them - by now they're all just legs and arms, and weapons - manages to hurt me. I also hear Ghost's growl, and the sound of a desperate scream informs me that my direwolf just avenged me. I concentrate in attacking the one in front of me, and let Ghost take care of my back. We stand there for a while and I'm yet to die.
I curse heavily when a sting come from my head, that's not good, every warrior knows that a hit on the head is practically a death sentence. And just as I expected everything starts to get fuzzy, my sight is damaged and I can already feel the confusion taking over my body. I don't stop though, simply because I can't. Stop to even blink would equal signing my way to another word. I continue to hit, and move, and react - mostly react, since I don't really see anything anymore.
And then it's over.
Just like that. I look around to see ten bodies surrounding me, and Ghost covered with blood all over his extremely white figure.
So I won.
Talk about unexpected.
I'm not entirely sure what do for a while. Of course I'm still going to die, the pain in my head warns me so, but I faced them, I avenged my men, I got information - with some effort I may even be able to write my superiors all that I learned and give it to Ghost to deliver - I allow myself to smile.
But as learned before, it can't last.
"Jon..." is a scared whisper.
I turn around to find another bunch of warriors, they're facing me and their fellow's bodies with nothing but savagery. I look for the source of the voice and I find - with the usual tug on my chest - Sam on his knees. He's surrounded by them and one of the warriors has his weapon on his neck.
Ghost instantly gets in front of me. But I don't react, how am I suppose to? And them it hits me, there's really only one way. I take a deep breath, close my eyes one more time, and run in their direction. They seem surprised, they should be. Ghost is by my side, and I can't even count the number of enemies that stands in my way, but I don't care. I focus on the one close to Sam and ignore the rest.
With one swing of my sword his head is gone. I can feel the proximity of the others, but I ignore it as well, I look at Sam's terrified eyes.
"They're from over-seas, they're selvages, it's strength over strategy, they have a weakness for nature elements, they're following someone else's orders, they're not alone... That's what it needs to be informed... Did you understand me?" I whisper quickly and Sam stares at me blankly.
"Sam! . ?" I repeat it urgently and he nods. "Now, run. Run!"
Bless him, he really doesn't seem willing to do so, but he does, he gets up in a rush and run. I look at Ghost and in a second I know he's not leaving, we're facing death together, as it should be.
The next moments passes on a blur, between hits, blood, pain, screams, confusion, I finally fall. I feel Ghost getting in front of me immediately and I curse for not being able to defend myself, but I can't feel anything anymore.
I close my eyes and wait for it, the final blow... Only it doesn't come.
I guess I'm really not suppose to die today.
From the back of my head I can hear two men's voices. They're arguing, I can tell. The second voice seems different from the ones I've heard so far, it sounds more... refined maybe. There's a shuffle around me and I do an effort to open my eyes - I'm not successful.
The first voice come again, and the second one answers from right beside me.
"What about you, beast, why bother to protect him?"
To say I'm surprised in hearing the common language it's not enough.
I can hear a third voice, it's a woman, her speaking is heavy with an accent I don't recognize.
"Master Jorah, why you challenge them? They might raise against us, Khaleesi can't help."
The first voice also says something, but in the other language, and the man besides me answers it first, then he turns to the woman.
"My sword..." he says. "He has my sword."
And the next thing I know, I'm already in the darkness.
Aaaaaand that's it!
Next up is Dany... reviews a very very very very (I can't really emphasize this enough) much appreciated, but I know the laziness within the reader (trust me, I do), so if you just read it and couldn't bring yourself to comment on it, then "thank you anyway, good lady (or sir)!"