"Jon, you should see this."
"What is it, Sam? Did you free our wildling prisoners and assign them work? And did you pack? You leave for King's Landing in a day."
"Jon, this is way more important. A rider came."
"A rider? From where? The South? Is the Queen Regent finally sending us more men?"
"Jon, this one is a girl. She wears a hood and she won't show us her face until she meets you."
"A girl? From the South? Sansa, it might be Sansa. Where is she? Does Lord Stannis know about this?"
"No, he is at atop the Wall with the Lady in Red and Ser Davos."
Jon didn't listen beyond that. He picked up Longclaw and started taking the biggest strides towards the courtyard of the castle. It had to be Sansa, it had to be his sister. There was no doubting it. Sam tried to keep up with him but was slowly out of breath.
"Jon, I want you to know that if it's Sansa, we will protect her. I promise."
Jon stopped and gave his friend a reassuring smile before launching himself into a run on the slippery ice. He could see her now, astride on the horse with her face hooded in a warm cloak. But as Jon approached her on steady steps; his hopes deflated. Neither the height of the woman nor her dress indicated anything relatable to Sansa. Jon stood in front of her stead and looked up at her. He could see his brothers gathering around her with hesitant steps.
"Who are you? Reveal yourself."
Jon felt a tug of familiarity as she dismounted her horse and walked up to him, her dress ruffling the snow as she slowly approached him. Jon noticed that she stood a foot shorter than him but was left speechless when this mysterious woman kneeled in front of him.
"My Lady, whoever you are, I beg of you to not kneel in front of me. Please rise and reveal yourself."
And she did. As she rose, she removed her hood. If Jon forgot to breathe, it must have been because of his rapid heartbeat. He stumbled behind as he took in the woman in front of him. She had silver hair and eyes which were violet when looked close enough. Her eyes played tricks on him, the way they had done in his dreams. When Jon registered that his companions were watching, did he finally take a breath and speak to her, a wide smile playing on her lips.
"You can't be real. This is a dream, I am dreaming again. This is trickery."
"It's real, Lord Commandeer Snow."
Jon forgot to take a breath again. Her voice chimed like bells, similar to the ones adorning her hair.
"Who are you?"
At this, she turned to face the expanding crowd of wildlings and men in black alike.
"I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targareyen. Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Mother of Dragons; Your rightful Queen."
Jon wasn't surprised when the people surrounding them burst into a fit of laughter. So her name was Daenerys; the rightful heir to the throne. As Jon looked at her form, he noticed that his dreams had not done her beauty any justice. She was beautiful and fierce but he knew that she could also be gentle and loving. The laughter from the crowd raised an octave higher but Daenerys didn't flinch. She stood her ground and Jon could see the tension building up in her muscles. Daenerys had her back to him, facing the crowd so Jon approached her cautiously and placed his hand on hers. The laughter dies down as Jon kneeled in front of Daenerys, her hand in his. He placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand, the effect of his touch on her not unnoticed by him.
"My Queen, welcome to the wall. I am Jon Snow, Commander of the Night's Watch."
Daenerys could feel her anger dissipate as Jon kneeled in front of her. Jon's men followed his actions and were on their knees but Daenerys didn't take her eyes off Jon. Her dreams could never compare to the man kneeling in front of her. Jon had beautiful grey eyes, a dark mass of hair and a muscular stature. But it was his touch which made her feel disoriented. His touch was cold on her skin but electricity coursed through her as he held on with his gloved hand. He rose after a minute and let go but did not leave her side.
"I ask forgiveness for the insolent actions of my men, Your Grace. They have seen too many Kings in the past few years hence they doubt your claim."
"You should not have kneeled, Lord Commander Snow. If I wanted you to kneel in front of me, I would not have done what I did."
"Jon; Your Grace; my name is Jon. And you shouldn't kneel so easily, My Queen. Your actions are the reason my men doubted your claim."
"And my name is Daenerys, not Your Grace. I will kneel in front of no one but you. We have much to discuss and you have much to know, is there somewhere more private?"
Danereys could see the effect of her words on Jon. He stiffened and his jaw clenched making him look feral. But he only nodded consent and started leading her away from the courtyard. Daenerys followed him with a slight smirk on her face but was stopped in her tracks by Jon. Jon backed up a few steps and stood in front of her as a slightly aging man with a bulky sword approached them. He unsheathed his sword as he spoke.
"Get out of the way, boy. She is a Targeryen, the blood of the Mad King."
"I can't allow murder to happen under my watch and I am no boy, Ser Davos. Is this how your King deals with innocent girls?"
The anger Daenerys had tried so hard to contain now exploded within her but before she could put an end to all of it, Jon unsheathed his sword and stood squarely between her and her attacker.
"Do not test my patience, Ser Davos. Tell Lord Stannis that he will find us in my chambers if he wants to talk."
Jon pounding heart raced quicker as he took Daenerys' hand in his and led her away from the crowd towards his chambers. He could see Sam's questioning glance on his actions but Jon simply gave him a quick nod before continuing on. Jon thoughts were muddled as he walked to his chambers, Daenerys' hand still in his. The woman from his dreams was no more his imagination but a beautiful form of blood and bones walking beside him. If his dreams had meaning, then she would bear his child someday. She would be his wife, a bastard's love. And that's when Jon was brought back to the real world. He was a bastard and she was of noble blood, a future queen. He was a sworn Brother of the Night's Watch, he belonged to the Wall. Jon let go of Daenerys hand and walked ahead and entered his chambers with Daenerys following behind.
"You Grace, I will arrange for your stay at Castle Black for as long as you wish. I assume you wish to march upon King's Landing but if you have come to seek my men, I am afraid I will have to decline."
Jon had not looked at her since she entered his chambers. He busied himself with adding firewood to the burning hearth but was stopped in his tracks by Daenerys. She stood before him, her cloak not thick enough to protect her from the increasing cold.
"My Queen, the temperature will drop further. Please step aside."
"Jon, do you really not know who I am?"
Jon diverted his gaze from her line of sight but Daenerys placed her warm hand on his face and forced him to look at her. She stepped closer to him, her face a few inches away from his.
"Do not lie to me. The Fates have brought us together for a reason; don't deny its existence."
"I can't say your name even though my hearts beats every time I hear it. I am a lowly bastard, Your Grace. Don't look to me because I can never hold your hand."
Jon looked into Daenery's eyes and he could see that they were a shade of violet with subtle hints of blue. His words brought a smile to her face much to Jon's surprise. She let go of her hold on him and moved away emitting a slight laugh.
"You can't run from the Fates, Jon. They will make you run in circles until you carve the path they choose for you. I will wait till you take my outstretched hands and see that the blood of bastards can change the history of Men. Till then, I will stay here. My army will arrive in two weeks' time; a 100,000 men. You can command them as you wish for protection of the Wall. My advisors will arrive shortly so I hope they will be well taken care of. My dragons require the warmth, but they don't stay away from me long. I presume none of your men will be stupid enough to trifle with them. "
Jon saw Daenerys straighten her back as she turned to him, the warm smile replaced by the authority of a Queen.
"Jon, your men fight a battle against the dead. I will join your fight but I do have a few conditions. Do you accept?"
"Depends on what the conditions are; My Queen."
"First, you shall never swear fealty to me even if everyone asks that of you. I need you to join me of your own accord. Second, you shall never kneel and third, you shall never refute my words. Do you promise?"
"I promise, Daenerys."
Jon caught her off-guard, of that he was sure. But he could not help but smile as Daenerys beamed with flushed cheeks.
"Dropping the formalities, are we Jon?"
"That was your first command of me, wasn't it, Daenerys?"
"Think of it as a request."
Before Jon could reply, they were disturbed by a sharp rap on the door. He opened it to reveal Stannis and Melisandre at the threshold.
"You are not needed here, Lord Commander Snow. You may take your leave."
"Lord Stannis, I mean to stay. You can speak freely."
"I heard you kneeled in front of her, the same man who had refused to do so in my presence. Is it because she is a Targeryen or a whore you want to bed?"
Jon's hands curled into a fist as he ground his teeth but before he could react, Daenerys had given her retort.
"Are you afraid of a whore, Lord Stannis? Or are you afraid that her name is Targeryen. Either way, you fear a woman. During my journey to the Wall, I heard about your naïve skirmish in Black Water Bay. Bless your Gods that the woman you had the audacity to call a whore has not fed you to her dragons yet. I neither possess the energy nor time to squabble with you, so I will come to the point. Help me win the Throne and you shall live as the Lord of Storm's End. Decline and you shall not your future days."
"You insolent girl! I am the One True King, the Warrior of Light. Without me fighting the dead, you will never live to see another day. It is you who should kneel to me. You should have let Ser Davos cut her throat, Lord Commander Snow."
"Unlike you, Lord Stannis, Lord Commander Snow doesn't murder innocents for power. Or burn them like timber. I will give you a day to accept what I offer."
"Danereys Tarageryen, I am Lady Melisandre; priestess of the Lord of the Light."
"I know who you are. I have seen many of your kind in the Free Cities. If you want to instil in me the fear of your God, then you are wasting your breath."
"Lord Stannis shall join you, My Queen. Your claim to the Throne is true hence we shall follow you."
Jon could see the flares of anger dancing in Stannis' eyes. So Jon inched closer to Danereys and placed his hand on Longclaw. Instead Stannis turned and walked out through the doors.
"He will swear fealty to you tomorrow, My Queen. However, I do have one request."
"I require a private counsel of you, My Queen. I shall make a visit to your chambers tonight; I hope none of your companions will interrupt."
"They shall not."
"But, Daenerys, she can't be trusted."
"Jon, then trust me."
Jon looked at the petite woman in front of him and he knew, right then and there, he had found his path, the one on which she stood. The Lady in Red had been correct; Jon would end up breaking his vows for her because his beating heart never stopped racing since the hour he met her.
"Lady Melisandre, you touch a hair on her head and I shall cut yours."
"Don't take me for a fool, Jon Snow. Her Fire will be the reason you shall live and embrace your destiny."
Jon knew better than to doubt her words but without another word, he left his chambers with Danereys following behind, his cloak wrapped around her to curb the cold.
"But Lord Lannister, I am being asked difficult questions. Your ravens to the Free Cities are drawing too many eyes."
"Don't I pay you handsomely to blind these prying eyes, cousin?"
"I am sorry, My Lord. I won't let this happen again."
Jaime Lannister picked up the letter and carefully observed the seal upon it.
"This one came from the North, My Lord; though the seal is the same."
Jaime glanced through the contents of the letter with amusement splashed across his face. Ser Barristan Selmy would have his hands full if his brother has joined him. Jamie hoped that the slightly aging knight had the patience to handle his brother. Jamie burned the letter when his sister entered the solar.
"What brings you here, My Queen?"
"Any word on my treacherous brother yet?"
"No, I think that he has escaped to the Free Cities. It's best that we call off the search."
"Our father is fighting for his life because of him. My son is dead because of him and you expect me to forgive that monster?"
"Cersei, he is our brother."
"He is no brother of mine. We will continue the search but there is something else which requires your immediate attention. I received a raven from the Wall. Ned Stark's bastard is elected as Lord Commander."
"A rare feat but a feat nevertheless."
"Send in word to your men in the Night's Watch. I want his head on a spike."
"Cersei, he is just a boy. He doesn't have the men or the resources to fight against us."
"That boy is a wolf's spawn. Before he bites, we need to cut him."
Jaime looked at his sister and saw the hatred in her eyes. Cersei was at the door when he asked her what he had feared for a while.
"You will do anything to keep that damn Throne, won't you? Even kill a boy whose family has been destroyed to save ours."
"We lost our son in this fight; I won't lose another; no matter how much blood I spill."
Before Jaime could stop her, his sister left him. Jaime Lannister sent two ravens that day hoping that the blood of another innocent won't soak his golden cloak.
Sansa Stark looked at her coloured hair in the mirror. The darker shade of her hair and her attire portrayed as Alayne Stone but the colour of her eyes belonged to a Tully, resembling her Mother. Sansa felt her throat constrict as she thought of her family but she didn't let the tears mark her cheek. She was neither a puppet at the hands of Joffery nor Petyr Baelish anymore.
She would escape from the horrid Petyr Baelish and find her brother Jon. Sansa knew that her behaviour to her brother had not been acceptable but she hoped that the love her brother shared for her would not disappear. Jon was the only family she had left and he would be the one she would go back to. The thought of reuniting with Jon kept her pre-occupied and she failed to notice the entry of her Pseudo-Lord Father.
"Alayne, my beautiful daughter; there is someone I want you to meet. You can enter."
The man standing before Sansa was a handsome one. His charcoal hair, deep grey coloured eyes and fair skin tone suited him well. As the man approached her, Sansa could see that his skin was tanned and the smell of salt dominated over him speaking of a vast journey taken by him at the sea.
"My Lady, my name is Hot Pie. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"Alayne; my child. Hot Pie here, is a blacksmith who arrived at the Eyrie a few days ago but has already earned himself quite a reputation. As you know, the moon door is giving us some troubles. So he will be working upon them while you supervise. I have a matter which needs my immediate attention."
"Of course, Father."
"It's settled then. My daughter will show you to the solar. I trust you shall do a fine job."
Daenerys stood at the courtyard of Castle Black and called out to her children. Drogon had wandered deeper into the North in search of food whereas Rhaegal and Viserion were beyond the Wall. Daenerys had travelled a great distance on her dragons and later continued on horseback, riding day and night, to meet the elusive character of Jon Snow. She had known that Jon would not have been charmed by her in one meet but she found it amusing to see Jon fumble in her presence. She was positive about Jon knowing her through his dreams and delighted to have proven herself wrong. Jon Snow was indeed a man worth fighting for.
"You should not stand for so long in the cold, Daenerys."
Daenerys turned around to find Jon looking at her, his thick cloak forgotten. He walked up to her, his handsome face streaked with red spots due to the cold.
"I could say the same for you, Jon Snow. You should declare yourself instead of hiding in the shadows and looking on."
Daenerys saw Jon's cheeks take on an even darker shade of red. She gave him a bright smile as he looked at her.
"Do you find the accommodations befitting your taste?"
"I have travelled far with no roof over my head. This looks like a blessing."
"You should go in, My Queen. You have had a long day and you promised a private council to the Lady in Red."
"My advisors will arrive shortly, that's why I wait. So tell me Jon Snow, are the sayings about you as true as they are portrayed to be?"
"I haven't heard of any."
"I heard some of your Brothers talk. They say you had a wildling bride, killed where we stand."
Daenerys looked ahead as she felt Jon shuffle his feet in the snow. It wasn't until a few minutes had passed until he spoke.
"Ygritte; that was her name, she was not my bride. Her hair was as red as fire and skin as fair as the snow. She was the woman I came to experience love with."
Daenerys felt a pang of jealousy but quickly curbed it aside.
"How did she die?"
"She died in my arms, impaled by an arrow. We were not meant to be, Daenerys. We fought on different sides."
"Is that why you let the wildling prisoners roam free?"
"We need men. The Queen Regent fails to grant my request. This Wall hasn't been breached in 4000 years but we face the dead now, not the living. We need them."
"I was married once. It seems like a different lifetime. I had my beloved and my unborn babe taken away from me by a woman who practiced magic. I burned her in the funeral pyre I built for my husband. That's how my Dragons were born. They hatched in that fire where I walked in."
Daenerys turned her gaze from the horizon and looked at Jon. He was observing her, his eyes boring into hers.
"After I lost my sun and moon, I felt empty. But my children were the reason I fought on."
"And now you fight for what is rightfully yours, the Iron Throne."
"I was told that I could never bear a child so I stayed in the Free Cities, ruling as its Queen. I had no intention to pursue the Iron Throne but my dreams of us compelled me to come here."
"Daenerys, it's true that I saw our future together. I felt our growing child but I can't give up my duty. I can't-"
"Jon Snow, this is a talk we can save for some other day. The gates are being opened."
And with that Daenerys stepped ahead in the snow. She smiled as she greeted Ser Barristan and Tyrion.
"Lord Commander Snow, these are my trusted advisors. Ser Barrsistan Selmy and Lord Tyrion Lannister, one you already know."
"Come, let's move towards my chambers. It's far too cold for the living."
Jon supressed a smile as he saw Tyrion approach the wine bottle as soon as he entered Daenery's chambers. The small man poured two glasses and offered one to him.
"Drink boy. We are family now so let's make a toast to that."
Jon took the glass but did not bring it to his lips.
"A weeding in which my sister did not have a say."
"At the very least, I saved your sister from my monstrous nephew. I should hand it to you, Jon. Leaving your family behind is tough but letting them die while you roam in the cold, that's ruthless."
"Do not speak to me about my family. There isn't a day which goes by when I don't wish for them to be alive."
"Well, lucky for you and me, my wife is not dead. She is just lost."
"And here you sit drinking wine instead of searching for my sister?"
"I am known by a different name now, Jon Snow. It's Kinslayer, I should be running away from King's Landing, not towards it. But I do that because I owe your sister her freedom from the cage she has always been caught in. At least I try, what have you done?"
Jon could feel three sets of eyes on him but the only ones he cared about were Daenerys. He could feel the anger coursing through his veins but when he looked at her, he saw pain etched in them. Pain she felt for him.
"I have done nothing, I do agree. I have been out here while my family was slaughtered. My Lord Father, My Lady Mother, Robb, Arya, Bran and Rickon, I have lost all of them. I have gained another family at the Wall but there isn't a day which passes by when I don't long for my family. That's why, Daenerys, I can't join you when you leave for King's Landing. I have lost too many in this war."
"So have I, Jon Snow. I lost my family to this madness. But the least you can do is avenge the death of the people you loved. The people you lost have loved you, bastard or not. The ones who hurt them need to be brought to justice."
"The man whose family destroyed mine gives me this advice?"
"Take it the way you want but know this. It's time you stop thinking of yourself as a mere bastard and be a Stark. Sansa needs you, she needs her brother."
Arya Stark slowed down her footsteps and took a sharp turn into the narrow alley ahead. She heard her stalker approach and that's when she lunged at him, her sword Needle pointed to his throat as she sat atop him straddling his waist.
"Who are you?"
The alley had no lighting in any form so Arya could not distinguish any features as she took the hood off him. This time she pressed Needle a little harder at his throat.
"Who are you and why are you following me?"
"Get off me, you bitch. You have the wrong person, I wasn't stalking you. I was following the man in front of you."
"I am not a girl. I have killed with this sword so I won't hesitate to kill you if you don't tell me the truth."
Arya did not have the time to talk any further as the stalker grabbed her by her legs and threw her off of him. When Arya gained balance, the tables had turned. The man had a sword pointed to her throat now with her Needle in his other hand as he guided her out of the alley. The man in front of her had a striking resemblance to the woman Arya saw in the docks. His hair was a shade of white and silver and his eyes a shade she could not comprehend.
"Get down on your knees, girl. You just ruined the whole thing."
"I am not a girl."
"Oh please, tell that to someone who would believe you. You are a grown girl. Who are you?"
Arya did not open her mouth and she could see her attacker grow restless.
"Your name, girl. Don't test my patience."
"Arry, my name is Arry."
Arya said it with such conviction that the man in front of her didn't doubt her words for a second.
"Well then, Arry. You are coming with me."
"I am doing no such thing."
"Walk in front of me, you insolent prude. Try anything and I will cut you right here."
"I am not moving."
Arya tried to bite him as he tied her hands and feet but it was a worthless effort. The man knew his way around girls who were dressed as boys who were hell bent on biting him. She felt her world turn upside down as he placed her on his shoulders.
"Aegon Targeryen, remember this name, Arry."
The name rang a bell for Arya and so she racked a brain as Aegon carried her further into Bravos.