A new hand
King Robert sat at the desk in his solar, staring at a hunting knife his mentor and surrogate father gave him for his sixteenth name day.
I can not believe he is really gone. Jon Arryn, the man who raised me into manhood; gone.
So lost in thought was this descendant of the Durradons that it took Robert ten minutes before he noticed that his beloved wife had entered the room, walked over to his back, and wrapped her arms gently around his neck.
When Robert did notice, he turned around and kissed her upon her lips.
"Lyanna ... I am still having trouble grasping it. Jon Arryn was always in good health ... until he wasn't. How could that have happened?"
"He died peacefully, for that we should be thankful."
Yes, for that we should thank the Gods.
"Why are you always right?"
"Not about everything: I could never have known that you would have been the best thing to have happened to me."
Gods, it is like she is in my head: I wanted to say that.
Robert stood up, and walked over to the brazier in the corner. The coals burned vigorously. Holding his hands up, he attempted to warm them.
As he was doing so, Lyanna tried to change the subject. "In any case, you will need a new Hand of the King. And it needs to be someone you can trust."
"In other words, not a Lannister."
This made Lyanna chuckle, "Yes, not a Lannister."
Robert responded, "I have someone in mind who I think will make a good Hand. He's brave, honorable, kind, and above all I know I can trust him."
Lyanna's curiosity appears to have been woken by this, "Who is this man who stands above all others?"
Lyanna's eyes widened, and she appeared lost in thought.
She will be pleased when it hits her: after all, why would she not be? He is her brother.
He's my brother too, by both marriage and by childhood bond. Neither before nor since have I had such a good friend as he. Eddard is certainly brave: he stood by me an entire war and saved Lyanna's life at the risk of his own. Eddard is honorable: he has never shamed himself in battle and he even buried his sister's captors with a knight's respects when nobody would have blamed him for leaving their corpses to rot. Eddard is just: a few years or so prior Lord Mormont had to abandon his lands and his titles to escape Eddard's justice, because even the lives of the poachers Jorah sold into slavery mattered to him. Eddard is loyal: he has never given be bad counsel, never reached to expand his power or influence, never shamed himself: the one time Eddard laid with a camp follower, he raised the bastard in his home. No man would make a better hand to build what I dream. Stannis might be Eddard's equal, but he still needs to focus on his occupation of the Iron Islands.
Lyanna finally spoke, "Yes, I would like to see Eddard again. He would make a good hand."
Robert laughed, "Then it is settled. We will ride to Winterfell to offer to make Eddard hand of the king. I will bring the court along as well: it will be good for them to see more of the Kingdom. I can not wait to meet Eddard's family, to show him ours."
Lyanna smiled softly, "I am curious as to how his sons turned out."
Author's Note: We're almost done. Be sure to read chapter 30 for the conclusion of the story. Thank you for all your support.