OUTTAKE #1: In which Jon leaves the Wall
The raven arrives on the morning before Jon is to take his oath.
Dark wings, dark words, they say, but Jon can't help but be thankful to the speed of those wings that saved him from making the wrong choice. The Lord Commander hands him the message in silence, two sentences in Maester Luwin's hand, and as their eyes meet they both know what he's going to do.
There's wight and Others and all sort of creatures on the other side of the Wall, but there won't be anything left to guard if the North goes to war. Someone will find Benjen Stark, Jon hopes, but he already knows that someone won't be him.
"I am sorry," he tells Lord Mormont, remembering that desperate night of bitter cold and bright flames, feeling the heat on his burnt hand all over again. "I am sorry, but I cannot stay here. He is–" Jon's voice breaks and he feels heat on his cheeks, angry with himself, and he takes in a deep breath.
"–He is all I have, my Lord."
There is a twinkle of something in the Lord Commander's eyes, and Jon is remembered of what th other man told him, of Ser Jorah and his exile. Yes, Jon decides, Jeor Mormont knows exactly how he feels.
"Then go, boy, if you wish. Go to your brother." Jon nods in thanks and the Lord Commander speaks again, his voice laced with undertones Jon cannot decipher. "You may keep the sword. Use it well."
"I… Thank you, my Lord."
Jon finds himself thinking furiously, trying to come up with something else to say, and Mormont laughs. Jon's face reddens again, and he knows he must surely be making a spectacle of himself, his mouth half open, blushing like a maiden on her wedding night.
"Don't thank me, Jon Snow. Do your duty."
"Yes, my Lord." He feels like he ought to add something, to offer something else in exchange, but he has nothing to give. "I will tell Lord Stark of what happened." The walking dead. Blue eyes and black skin and things waking beyond the Wall. "He will send men, when the war is over."
And of course he will. There are always new men for the Wall, when a war ends. "If things go badly, my Lord, I suppose I will be saying you again soon."
Mormont laughs again at that, full heartedly instead of mockingly, and Jon realizes he will miss him, and Samwell Tarly, and the ragged band of men guarding the wall of ice at the end of the world, and he says his farewells and rides away to Winterfell.
OUTTAKE #2: In which Jon meets with Jeyne Westerling, and it's not pretty
He is clearly not the person she is expecting to enter her room, and it takes less than a heartbeat for that pleasant smile to die on her face.
Jon observes her face, reading her expression. Expectation, then surprise. Jeyne Westerling is young, with brown eyes and hair and a full figure, and she has a sweet air about her. He can see what attracted Robb, her warm smile and soft face and the look of someone who has never ever had an unpleasant thought in her life. Surprise and interest. She is wondering who I am. She is a good person without doubt, fresh and safe, so unlike anything Jon has seen since the beginning of the war, and he suddenly knows how Robb felt.
Worry. She fears I know. Perhaps she has recognized me from Robb's description, or else she cannot imagine another reason why a northman should come seek her in her own room. She is scared. Jeyne Westerling is also very comely, and Jon can see that, too. She is not striking in the way some women are, but she is pretty and soft and comforting, the kind of woman a men would like to return home to, to share his bed and raise his children. She is not a mistress; she is a wife, evey bit the proper lady of Catelyn Stark's teachings to her daughters.
Acceptance. She knows this was to happen, sooner or later. She is trying to compose herself. Only a moment has passed, a long moment that is more of an agony, and Jon is cursing his brother for putting him in this situation, cursing himself for making the offer. She is prepared to make her case, to defend herself. Determination.
"Lady Jeyne," he offers with a bow of his head. Being the king's brother without having a real standing is one of the things Jon enjoys the best of his positions. It allows him to be courteous to people who deserve his respect, and downright rude to those who don't.
"I am Jon Snow," he add, though he is sure she already knows.
She nods to him in response, a bland smile on her face. "Of course," her voice is trembling, a little, though she hides it well. "And what can I do for you?"
Jon exhales slowly, almost a sigh. Robb, you bloody fool. "We are departing in two days"
Her face pales a little, her hands tighten on the tissue of her gown more than they should, and she does not speak.
But that is not enough of a reaction for Jon, not enough to know for sure if she understood fully what he is saying. And so he speaks again, his words like blades, meant to hurt.
"I hope you understand, Lady Jeyne. We are leaving with the first lights the day after next, but we would gladly depart on the morrow if the king weren't hurt." He hands her small package wrapped in cloth. "This is tansy. You have bee discreet, no one will need to know. His Grace will be busy planning our next move, and he will not have time to see you."
Jeyne sits on her bed slowly, and Jon struggles not to show any emotion on his face. He is getting better and better at that since the war started, taking on the role of Robb's most honest advisor like a fish to water. His lords all means well, except for the ones who do not, but even they are scared to speak their minds sometimes, for fear of retribution or loss of influence, but Jon has no such qualms.
He does not care for anything, has no position to improve and nothing to lose, only Robb's best interest at heart, and lets his judgments take precedence over anything else in his life. He is getting cooler and cooler, he looks at his face on the mirror and hates himself. Today is not different.
Jeyne is looking at her hands in her lap now, and Jon is glad he cannot see her face. "Does he not even wish to look at me now, then?"
Her voice sounds so small and sad and so very young. Yes, he should say. Yes, he has no need for you anymore after he got what he wanted, he does not want to lay eyes on you for as long as he lives, you had better forget him, Jeyne, starting today.
But he doesn't.
"He fancies himself in love with you," he says instead, and Jeyne's head jerks up, eyes full of love and confusion and pain.
"But then –"
"– But he is not," Jon cuts her off before she can speak, perhaps harsher than he meant to be. "And neither are you, milady. You have known each other for less than a week, whatever is that you are feeling will go away if you give it the chance."
"And the king cannot afford to. He has a duty to his people, and we are at war." Against you, hangs unspoken in the air between them. "And he is to be married soon, and you do not deserve that life."
"I would rather," she begins, trying to collect her words "I would rather have some part of him than –"
"You will not." He interrupts her again, and she stops. If it had been Arya, he cannot help but think, she would have kept talking 'til I gave up, louder and louder until we both went deaf. "Look at me, I know of what I speak. You don't deserve it, and neither do you children. Forget him."
They stare at each other for the longest time, neither knowing what to say, Jon wishing he could bring himself to look away.
"It will be hard," she says, eventually.
I'm sorry, Jon wants to say, but he doesn't. "You will need to make tea." He says, instead. "It is very bitter, I am told, and you should add mint to it, better if fresh, and – "
"Yes." She is the one interrupting him, this time, and Jon finds himself oddly glad. At least she is not broken. "I know how it's done."
That's interesting, Jon thinks, but all he wants to do now is to leave the Crag as soon as can, and cannot bring himself to stay in the same room as Jeyne Westerling anymore.
"I wish you well," he tells her before leaving, and he truly means it.
OUTTAKE #3: In which Robb wakes up
Tonight is the third one Jon has spent by his brother's bed, and the first time he is awake enough to talk to him.
He's had three days to think of all the things he needs to say, all the things he will say, when Robb wakes up. When, not if. And yet when it happens, when Jon lets his gaze wander around the tent and on Robb's unconscious form, only to find pair of intense blue eyes staring back at him…when it happens, there is nothing he can say.
But then again, words are wind, aren't them?
He can only stare right back, not moving, not even daring to breathe, wishing with all his heart that what he's seeing is real, that he hasn't fallen asleep and started to dream.
He does not say a thing, and it is Robb who breaks the silence first.
"You made it back, then."
Or at least he tries to, because his throat is raw and sore, and his voice break before he can finish the phrase. Jon understands the meaning well enough, though, and smiles a grim smile before moving to fetch some water, willing his heart to slow down.
Robb doesn't seem satisfied with that meager an answer, however, and makes a gesture almost as if wanting to speak before Jon puts a hand on his chest and shakes his head.
"Please." He says, and helps him drink down some.
"We made it back alright," he tells Robb as he slowly moves to sit down. "And Daryn Hornwood can't stop complaining about how we could have killed Tywin if we had been more lucky."
He doesn't tell Robb how he is well pleased enough with what he has, considers himself lucky enough to still be alive. Robb is probably thinking the same himself, and it wouldn't do to have him worry even more. So he keeps his voice light and amused instead, and there's nothing more amusing going on in their camp than Hornwood's constant grumbling. He looks as though someone made it away with his bride on his wedding feast, Jon has heard Lord Umber joke with Patrek Mallister, and it sounds close enough to the truth.
"We had an ambush set up and everything," Jon continues, taking care to sound like it is nothing, as if they were chatting over a meal rather than on what could have been Robb's deathbed. "We very ready, and he didn't show up. Although it sounds like you have saved us the effort, or close enough."
Jon has heard the news from the Blackfish himself as he escorted him to Robb's tent on that first night. Ser Brynden had told him, sounding as pleased as he could be under the circumstances, of how Grey Wind had jumped on Lord Tywin Lannister of Casterly Rock, Warden of the West and Hand of the King, and bit. Hard.
Tywin wasn't in the front lines, he's no fool, Jon remembers the Blackfish saying, but the sun was setting and his men losing, and he was looking to the retreat in the battleground, not caring much for the woods they were in.
In the end, he'd continued, Grey Wind had come back to them with three quarrels in his fur, one of them a rather serious wound to his back, and it had taken a while for the northmen to pierce together what'd happened, mostly thanks Brynden's scouts and outriders, who had referred that the surviving Lannister's men, Tywin nowhere to be seen, were making it for Sarsfield as fast as they could. He might even have lost a leg, the Blackfish said, rather cheerfully. Or an arm.
They are in silence for a while, each one absorbed in his own thoughts, enjoying the familiarity of just staying there, together, again.
"I should go call your squire," Jon remembers suddenly. "Olyvar. I think you scared him." Almost as much as you scared me.
"He would probably be here as well, if I hadn't let him sleep." Since that day at the Crag, since receiving news from Winterfell, Jon hasn't slept much, but sleep is a precious commodity in war, and there's little point in waking Olyvar Frey when he could keep vigil himself.
"He will fetch –" Who? They don't have a maester with them, and Jon wonders who was it that first took care of Robb after the battle. He wasn't told and hasn't cared to find out, but then again, had he known who it was he would probably blame him for Robb's condition. This is better.
"He will fetch someone," Jon tells Robb, and it's a promise. "He will fetch someone, to take care of you, and you will be well again."
Jon and Asha AU SCENE
In which Robb had his way in AGOT and sent Umber against Tywin, and Roose Bolton is still around to scare people when Robb needs him to
"Does the Wolf King despise us so much that he sends a bastard as his envoy?" Her voice is harsh and sour, and yet she laughs. "And a green one at that. How old are you, winter boy?"
Jon turns to see Lady Asha staring defiantly at him, smiling. "His Grace sent you Lord Bolton," he tells her, calmly. "As his envoy. And his brother, as a token, which he thought Lord Greyjoy of all people might appreciate."
He normally would not have talked to anyone that way, much less the daughter of Balon Greyjoy, but Jon supposes that two weeks of Roose Bolton's cutting sarcasm in close quarters must have left their sign.
"Seeing how his son and heir is fighting Lannisters in the Westerlands."
Asha laughs, looking at him as if she were seeing him for the first time. Neither of them paid much attention to the other when they were first introduced, and Jon regrets that now.
"Son, now, I suppose that must be true. Heir, that is another matter entirely." And she gives him a grin.
Jon looks at her with the same attention she gave him, taking notice of her stern eye and daring air – and noticing other things as well. There is something in this woman that reminds him of Osha, the wildling he has briefly met at Winterfell, and yet she is beautiful, in her own way, as much as Catelyn Stark or any lady he has ever seen, her brashness only adding to her appeal.
"I don't think you will be of much use," she says, and Jon has to blink for a moment before remembering their previous conversation.
"Have you ever even been on a ship, Snow?"
He never had, before leaving Seagard, but he is not going to say it. Of course, he doesn't need to
"I thought so. Father will never let you join us, you know. You will stay here in Pike, with the old and the babes, while we take Casterly Rock."
Jon lets her talk. Balon Greyjoy will never let Robb Stark's brother, albeit a bastard, stay safe in his castle whilst his men go dying fighting Robb Stark's enemies, and they both know it. But Asha Greyjoy is much like her brother, Jon has noticed, in that she seems like she is mocking the whole world.
"Or maybe you can be a cabin boy," she continues, amused. "Would you like that? Cleaning my clothes and making me breakfast?"
And then she moves closer, walking as through she were on a ship's deck, hair loose and laughing fully once again and, in that very moment, she is the most beautiful woman Jon Snow has ever seen.
"You surely look the part," she whispers into his ear.
And how is he supposed to take that?
A/N: And I guess that's all, for now. See you in a few months with the sequel; as usual, if you want to get notified when it'll be up just follow this story and I'll add an AN when it's up. I should also say that I'll have no occasions to write until mid-September at least, so the story will be out in two months or so.
Also, to the anon on FFN who suggested I kill Robb in the sequel: yep, that would make for awesome character development alright., but I think it would be incredibly angsty if I actually did it. Still, it does have its appeal, thanks, I definitely wasn't expecting that suggestion, but I'll see what comes from it.