Author's Note: This story is a fill from ASoFaIKM over on Livejournal. The prompt from round 18 was "R+L=J. Years after the rebellion failed, [Jon] goes to Elia and begs to know why she doesn't hate him."
Elia was very intrigued. She sat in her solar working on her needlepoint as she waited for Jon Snow to arrive. It was a circumstance and a request that most people would consider to be improper. Jon Snow was her husband's bastard son by a woman long dead. He had never been to King's Landing before but recently Jon had announced his intentions to take the black and become a member of the Night's Watch. When Jon takes his vows to become a brother Jon would no longer have any family besides his fellow brothers of the Watch. When Rhaegar received word of Jon's intentions he sent Jon an invitation to King's Landing to say good-bye to the son that had never really been his.
Jon requested a private meeting with her while Rhaegar and Ned Stark were out on a hunt. Elia knew neither man particularly liked spending time each other, but went as a way to talk in relative privacy, mostly about Jon. It was also an awkward attempt at civility between the two men, both of whom were considered to be fathers to Jon. One was his father by birth the other was the man who raised Jon from baby to the man Jon has almost become. Elia thought it was a horrible idea but both men were far too concerned with acting courteously to one another and that seemed to be the only common ground for the two.
But it did seem to work in Elia's favor as it allowed Jon to seek her out. She had wanted to speak with him but she was unsure how welcome she would be to him. She knew Ned was very uncomfortable around her considering his sister Lyanna ran off with Elia's husband, Rhaegar and their relationship started a war and produced a son. It seemed Jon Snow was able to overcome any hesitancy he may have had but wanted to do it without any interference from Ned or Rhaegar. Elia quite liked that.
Elia smiled to herself as she continued with her stitches. The greys, blacks and whites were blending well together. The design was not something she had ever done, in fact it was something she would never have done on her own and many would questions what she was up to creating it. Elia had plans for it.
"My lady, Jon Snow is here to see you."
Elia raised her gaze from her stitching to the doors where Jon Snow stood along with her handmaiden and husband's sister, Daenerys. Daenerys who looked so much like her oldest brother Rhaegar. Elia wondered if she and Jon had a chance to talk yet. They were introduced when Jon first arrived at King's Landing five days ago. She also knew that Daenerys was curious about the nephew she had never met. Their current body language gave nothing away.
Elia let her gaze linger on Jon so she could fully take him in. He looked so much like his mother, like a Stark. The dark hair and grey eyes, oh he was so very much a Stark. She studied him looking for bits of her husband in him. They were a few but Elia had to stretch to find them. Daenerys whom looked so much like Rhaegar and had most of the traditional Targaryen traits. Silver-blonde hair and violet eyes, traits Elia's son Aegon had, but not her daughter Rhaenys. No, Rhaenys looked every inch a Martell.
"Your grace," Jon bowed as he greeted her. It courteous as tradition demanded but it was meek and awkward. Elia hoped it was only her study of him that put him in further unease in what was probably a difficult meeting for him to both arrange and attend rather than of Elia herself. She had not meant to make him afraid of her.
If it was Elia herself then Jon was the only one her found her intimidating. One word most people used describe her was kind. Elia did little to make people question that description. She always treated everyone respectively, lords and servants alike. The only times she raised her voice were to either call for or scold the children. She did lose her temper once, she let loose all her rage and said a lot of angry, loud words.
The only thing she regretted from that conversation was that she could not say everything she wanted to say. The things she held back were words that she could never take back. They were truths that held a mirror one's actions and made you see the real you. Elia could not do that to Rhaegar then. He had to reunite the seven kingdoms he had helped selfishly break apart and she loved her children too much to do something that might have separated her from them.
Elia rose in greeting, "Hello Jon Snow. Daenerys you can leave us now and make sure to close the doors behind you, thank you." Daenerys looked quite curious as to what Elia and Jon would be doing together, but she did what she was instructed.
"Please sit," Elia gestured to small table in the middle of the room that had been set with an assortment of cakes and wine. Jon and Elia settled themselves at the table as they waited for the room to clear and that the doors were firmly closed behind Daenerys.
Elia sat in silence as she waited for Jon to say whatever it was he needed to say. Moments passed and Jon did not say a word. His gaze though would flitter between things on the table and then to Elia. Jon was obviously not ready to speak to her yet, so she decided she would speak with him until he was ready.
"I'm glad you came to speak with me. I actually wanted to talk to you but I was not sure you would want to see me."
"What could you possibly want to speak with me about?" Jon asked his brows furrowed together and to Elia he looked like he was actually going through different scenarios in his head.
Elia sat up straighter and stated simply, "I wanted to see how you are."
"What?" Jon asked as his head tilted slightly to the side.
Elia smiled, John really did seem to find it hard believe that she was genuinely curious about his state of being and to her that was so very sad. "I wanted to know how you are as a person, how you are feeling and how your life in North is. I have never been that far." John still looked like he did not understand what she was asking or why she was asking those questions. "Jon, just answer the questions however you see fit. Tell me as much or as little as you feel comfortable." Elia needed Jon to feel comfortable and this was a good way to do it. She of course knew the basics of what his life was like being raised in Winterfell and she knew his future. The decision that brought him King's Landing to see his father possibly for the last time.
"I am fine, your Grace and life in Winterfell is like life in most places I imagine. Uncle Ned has raised me along side his own son Robb and the ward of the Iron Islands, Theon Greyjoy. We grew up doing everything together. We trained together, learned together, and had the same experiences. Robb and I are practically brothers and I care deeply for the other Stark children."
Elia gave a slight smile as Jon recounted tales of arms training with Ser Rodrick and the adventures he had with cousins Robb and Arya. Jon never had the opportunity to know his real brother, Aegon or his sister, Rhaenys for that matter. The two were away from King's Landing at the moment. They were both at the Water Garden visiting their Uncle Doran. Elia had sometimes wondered what it would have been like to have five children running around the castle instead of four.
"Can we just stop?" Jon asked raising his voice. The abruptness and sudden change in conversation caused Elia startle and sit up straighter. She should have known. His mouth was creased showing he was no longer caught up in memories. He now had the look of trepidation that he bore when he first entered her solar.
"Jon it is fine if you are ready to stop talking," Elia placated, trying to give Jon her most reassuring smile. "What did you want to meet with me about then?" Elia asked.
"Why did you agree to see me?" Jon asked. His voice sounded rough and though his head was turned down and towards the left, his grey eyes still met hers.
Elia shrugged with a half-smile, "Because I wanted to see you."
"But why this, all of this," Jon questioned gesturing to the table, spread set before them and to Elia herself.
"Oh Jon Snow," Elia lamented. She wanted nothing but to comfort him, he so broken in that moment. Elia wondered how many people in his past had shamed him for the actions of his parents. That was a thought that did not sit well with Elia at all.
"No answer me. Why are we sitting here with wine and fruit, why are you making pleasant conversation, why are you being so nice? Why aren't you treating me with cold indifference or raging at me for everything I have done and represent?" Jon desperately hurled the questions at Elia.
"Is this why you're here Jon?" Elia simply asked in reply.
"I wanted you to be able to say your piece to me before I head for the Wall. I just thought you could have closure about who I am and what I represent. And now you're confusing me. What is going on, why don't you hate me?" Jon asked.
"Jon Snow I could never hate you," Elia said as she reached across the table to grab one of Jon's hand, "I could never hate a child. It's reprehensible to blame a child for the actions of adults." Elia reiterated as she stared directly into Jon Snow's eyes.
"Most people here do not see it that way." Jon replied softly.
"I'm Dornish. We view things differently than Northerners and that includes bastards." Elia said softly. "Jon never apologize to anyone for who you are. Never apologize for being your father and mother's son." Elia meant every word. There were times when she pondered Jon Snow and his parentage and felt the stabbings of jealousy, but quickly thought of her nieces and if anyone had ever questioned them and their role in her family's life Elia would have quickly stopped any jape or derisive remark. So with those thoughts in mind Elia had always stopped any ill thoughts that may have started to form of Jon Snow.
"A lot of other people keep telling me differently."
Elia was about to take a very big risk. This could all blow-up in her face but she had to risk it. This was probably the best opening for it she would ever find in this conversation. She doubted she would get another chance alone with him.
Elia cupped his cheek and gently made him meet her gaze, "Jon do you want to go the Wall and take the black?"
Jon pulled away from Elia's hand and sat up straight in his chair and tried to look proud and noble. "Yes your Grace, I am making this choice freely. Starks have manned the Wall for thousands of years, we even helped build it, besides what other options could I possibly have."
Elia smiled, she had an in, "I can offer you another option," Jon leaned in closer as Elia spoke her words and told him of another choice he could make and another option no one had thought to offer him.
"Elia what were you thinking?" Rhaegar demanded.
It took everything Elia had not to roll her eyes at her husband. She expected to be lectured at by both her husband and Ned Stark but for all the men's differences, Elia noted they gave patronizing lectures quite similarly. If Elia did not already know that after their hunting trip that avoided each other as much as proper etiquette would allow Elia would have thought they practiced their confrontation against her.
Elia, Rhaegar, and Ned were in the throne room. Elia was on the receiving end of Rhaegar and Ned's lecture on why she had no right to interfere with Jon's choice to go the Wall and become a brother of the Night's Watch.
She had planned on letting them speak their piece but she also planned on it being just the three of them when they had this talk. For whatever reason Rhaegar and Ned decided to do this in the throne room with members of the King's Guard, a few servants and a few others whom just happened to be in the room when apparently Ned Stark could no longer keep his silence and Rhaegar just went along with him.
"Well obviously he did not want to be a brother so badly if he accepted my offer without hesitation," Elia spoke cutting Ned off mid-sentence. "He thought there were no other options for him out there. If Jon did not approach you about the Night's Watch what were your plans for him?"
"I did not have time to fully flesh them out yet," Ned answered simply, but his stance was closed off and defensive.
"How about you husband, what future were you going to offer your son?" Elia inquired as she circled around both men.
"I was going to see if I could find him a place to squire, possibly," Rhaegar said but he said it in a way that lacked the confidence that he now had to carry without fail as king of Westeros, no matter who he was with or what he did.
"Interesting, that sounds a lot like the offer I made to Jon only with my offer I am more involved and there is an actual offer for him to be a squire in a respected house." Elia knew those were bold words and she should have more caution when speaking to her husband let alone the king especially in front of so many others, but she was getting more and more frustrated by the two men.
It was also becoming more and more apparent that when Ned and Rhaegar looked at Jon they didn't see Lynanna Stark's son they saw her ghost and they were truly haunted by her. Jon came here to say good-bye to the family he would never know because Jon was going lose his natural family and have instead fellow brothers in black whom took a vow to bind themselves to the wall. Rhaegar wanted to say good-bye to the child he barely had any direct contact with. Elia knew that from time to time Rhaegar would receive ravens from Jon and Ned and Rhaegar would send some in return.
"Elia listen to me the Night's Watch is a respected institution in the North," Rhaegar said as he gently gripped her elbow and place himself directly in front of her.
"Neither one of you are listening to me. Jon wants what I offered, which is a future of his own choosing. If he takes the black we know his story how it will begin and how it will end. But this, this could be all his."
"Your Grace I do not mean to be so blunt but there is no polite way to phrase this but why do you care? When he was born you tried to have him banished to Highgarden," Ned Stark said breaking his silence.
"Close Lord Stark, but the word exact word you are looking for is fostered not banished two very different words with two very different meanings. Also I suggested he be fostered at the Water Gardens in Dorne not Highgarden of House Tyrell," Elia responded harshly. Ned Stark seemed to have a very different recollection of what was suggested the last time fourteen years ago when the three of them were together in this room discussing Jon Snow's fate.
"Still, you wanted him sent far away. Far from the North where his family is."
"It was not meant as a punishment. The Water Gardens is a private residence of House Martell many children are sent to foster there including bastards. It is my bother Prince Doran's favorite place and my children are visiting their uncle there at this moment," Elia defended. Ned Stark just infuriated her. She knew he thought he was doing right by Jon and for most of Jon's life he had. He now had to stand aside and let Jon start dictating his own life. It is a something every parent dreads for their child.
"I also am interfering if that is what you would like to call it because someone needs to and right now both neither of you are thinking about what is best for Jon. The wall has been there for over eight thousand years. If Jon changes his mind and feels like he has made a mistake I think we can all say with certainty that it will still be there for him to go to," Elia added.
"Elia…" Rhaegar managed to interject. He had stayed as removed from the conversation as he could. Elia could see he felt uncomfortable interloping in Jon's life in any way. He has had no direct involvement in Jon's life until now. Elia did not count bi-yearly ravens as direct contact. Rhaegar only got snippets that could fit on Ravens or the occasional letter that would arrive when people had the arduous trek of King's Landing to Winterfell.
Elia cut him off, "No, Rhaegar. We are all done here. Jon will be squire for the House Dayne and that is what's to happen unless Jon says otherwise."
"How do you know Lady Ashara will allow it?" Rhaegar asked. He was getting more and more deflated the longer the quarrel between the three of them kept going.
"Ashara granted me this favor weeks ago."
"You only told Jon of your offer two days ago," Rhaegar said while looks of confusion crossed both his and Ned's faces.
Elia only gave both of them a large smile and turned her back to them both as she walked to the doors. Once she was near the pillars by the doors Elia stopped abruptly and held out her arm as she said, "Come along Snow."
Behind the pillar Jon Snow stepped out looking sheepish at being caught witnessing Elia, Ned and Rhaegar's quarrel. Elia could not hold it against him. They were discussing him and his future after all. Rhaegar and Ned did have the decency to look embarrassed though.
Before anyone could say anything Elia quickly put her arm through Jon's and said, "Come let's go find Ser Arthur Dayne."
"Excuse me, your Grace?" Jon asked.
"Well who better to tell you what to expect from the House Dayne than Ser Arthur Dayne himself. Not only is he member of the King's Guard but he also the Sword of the Morning, which is the highest title anyone from the House Dayne can hold and is highly respected though all of Dorne."
Elia looked back to Ned and Rhaegar, their faces looked a strange mixture of confusion, anger and embarrassment but there was also a bit of acceptance at seeing Jon's face as Elia talked to him. They seemed to finally accept Jon's new choice. Jon had informed her of his concerns of what both Ned and Rhaegar may have thought of his choice to abandon the wall and instead become a squire for House Dayne. He was afraid of disappointing both men but Elia had a way of putting him at ease and that let him admit to the things that he really wanted and one of those things was to maybe become a knight one day. And she came into his life as if by magic and just grants wishes. She just appeared and offered him what he had wanted most but never thought he had the right to ask for.
Elia smiled a bit more widely and kept talking because it kept the other men in the room quiet and seemed to put Jon more at ease. Elia started walking towards the doors again this time arm-in-arm with Jon in search of Arthur Dayne, "Oh and before you head to Starfell you must visit the Sunspear. You can meet my younger brother Oberyn's bastards. People sometimes refer to them as the Sand Snakes, lovely bunch of girls. They are just the most delightful kind of trouble..."