Author`s note:

We are approaching the parts where people who have not yet read the books may wonder what is going on with other main characters. Obviously, we are a bit past where the fourth season left off so you need to know what`s going on with Arya, Tyrion, Daenerys, Jaime, Bran and so on. I`ll do my best to explain the events, though I will try to do it from another characters perspective so I`m not rewriting GRRM`s work. I`m not adding characters, so if you don`t recognize a person, they are in the books! If I lose you somewhere or some event doesn`t quite make sense to you, comment or send me a message and I will do my best to fix it. I will be addressing some of the other characters in the next chapters but some huge things are going to happen at the Wall soon so bear with me. The chapters will probably be really long because I have so much I want to cover. Also, sorry this chapter is a bit choppy and not my best work; I had a hard time fitting all the events together for this one. As always, GRRM and HBO own all.

Gemma

The flames race up Mance`s sides, licking and tearing at his clothes like a red dragon, starving for flesh. He writhes in the cage dangling over the fiery dragon`s pit, pleading to his wilding army. Each of his former followers has a look of terror, even those who know of no such emotion. They know that it is not the dragon they should fear, but the priestess of fire it obeys. Each of them throws a piece of a weirwood tree into the flames, swearing their allegiance to the true King Stannis and the one true god, the Lord of Light. Or at least that is the claim they make. In their hearts they will worship the nameless faces carved onto the trees so long ago, just as I will.

"End it," Jon says to Edd at his side. He notches the arrow and shoots the former King Beyond the Wall in the heart, putting him out of his misery. Melisandre casts her stare in our direction, her eyes seeing all as she basks in the glory of her red god. The wildings trickle through our open gate, some running back to death in the land beyond the Wall while most burn their old gods, desperate to survive. I feel a gentle tingle through my glove, knowing that Jon traces a finger along the curve of my wrist. It is an act driven by the need to comfort me, something he feels he should do often as of late. Jon never comes too close, speaking kind words and other times just letting me talk, but he`s there keeping me sane always. He gives me orders almost constantly, knowing that I don`t want to think, keeping me busy so I can avoid the thought of Mother. And then, when I can`t help but think of the lovely woman, he`s there, ready to hear my stories and lend a shoulder when the tears fall. As we walk back to the Lord Commander`s quarters, I feel the need to lean on him once again, Mance`s death reminding me of Mother. At her thought my head throbs sharply, a slight ringing resounding in my ears.

"Edd I need you to remind Hobb about the change for the feast. Glenn and I have a matter to discuss before we sup," the Lord Commander says, guiding me to the tower. We take our time, boots shuffling through the snow in a listless fashion.

"Aye M`lord, I don`t know if you can call it that, though," the steward laughs before parting, referring to the empty broth that will be served. Ghost trots behind us as we carefully climb the steep, stone stairway.

I throw myself in a wooden chair and press my fingers into my forehead, trying to staunch the headache growing about my temples. Ghost curls beneath my feet, nudging at my ankle. "We should look at that decree Stannis wants you to sign," I state wearily.

"There`s no point in that: I won`t sign it."

"Careful, the one true king of Westeros may think your slighting him if you don`t start following his orders. We both may end up in the fire pit if that happens."

Jon almost smiles at that. "My duty is to the realm and the Night`s Watch, not every man who claims to be the true King of Westeros."

"Good, you`d be split at least four different ways if you did." Jon stands behind me and pulls the thread from my hair. It falls below my shoulders, glad to be loose and flowing, before the man threads his fingers into the chestnut locks. His fingers are gentle and loving against my scalp, prodding at the right places until the pulsating ache dies. Yet he doesn`t stop. He pulls through it, combing it with his fingers, making sure to be careful when a knot finds its way into his hand. I`m suddenly glad for the bath I had last night.

He pulls his fingers from it after he gathers the locks at my shoulder. "Any better?" He asks, his voice a deeper pitch than usual. Jon leans closer, forcing me to look up at him, until we are close enough that I feel his breath on my face. A hand cups my chin and Jon`s scarred fingers rest against my neck. He leans down with heated breath caressing my face, our lips almost meeting.

A knock at the door splits us apart with a hectic jolt and I quickly pull my hair up. Unfortunately, I can`t find the cloth.

A familiar voice cuts through the air.

"My`lord, Glenn, can I come in?" Eli`s hesitant tenor asks from behind the door.

Jon smiles and lets the boy in, all signs of the previous nervousness fleeing him. My brother bolts the door behind him and places himself in the chair next to mine. He leans forward on pale hands, sending a quaint smile towards me.

"Sorry to, uh, intrude, but I really need to talk to you," he explains with a sigh, ignorant to the scene he nearly walked in on. Jon moves towards the door as if to leave us to our privacy but Eli stops him. "No stay, please. I mean to speak with the both of you." My brother wrings his hands together, anxiously avoiding our stares.

"Can I ask you something?" I say, breaking the silence. Eli nods, finally glancing up from his fingers. "Who was it you were referring to when you spoke of knowing love?" Jon meets my stare, confused that I would ask my brother such a random question, but I wave him off. "Cassia, right?"

"We were supposed to be married, Gemma," he groans. "Everything was going to be perfect. . ."

"I`m sorry that I misjudged you so greatly in that. I wasn`t around long enough to know her but she seemed sweet when I did meet her. It`s no wonder you loved her."

He holds a hand over his eyes for a long time before speaking again. "I need your help, probably from both of you. I know how well you fight Gemma and Grenn told me that Jon can even best you with a sword. Yet, I can`t beat most of the stewards here. Iron Emmett only knows how robust men fight, not thin and wiry boys like me." Jon lets out a low chuckle when considering the mismatched Master-at-arms and the boy before us. "I need you two to help me train. I know you don`t have a huge amount of time to spend, otherwise you`d be out there swinging a sword yourself but please, I need the two of you teach me."

I jump on the subject immediately, wanting to make one accusation clear. "First off, Jon`s swordplay isn`t better than mine: last time we fought we were equally matched, nay I might`ve even bested him had we continued." Eli laughs at my ambitious nature. "Secondly there are plenty of other things to do, Eli. You don`t have to be a ranger-"

"I`m not staying here," Eli cuts in, his face serious again.

"Why not," Jon inquires as his eyes brows knit together in confusion.

"The Night`s Watch is not my place. I can`t stand this cold. I know it`s winter and it`s cold everywhere, but I can`t be here any longer. I`m leaving with Stannis. My place is in the South, fighting against the people who killed my parents and destroyed our home."

"And you want to train to be ready for his army?" I state leaning on the table. My light haired brother nods slowly.

"I`ll do it," Jon says. Eli turns towards me.

"Of course. What sister would pass up the chance to beat her little brother to a pulp?" We smile at one another, glad to banter again as siblings do.

"The training may be erratic, but we`ll just have to practice when Gemma and I find time," Jon chuckles.

"But one of us has to make time every day: Stannis will leave soon."

"Agreed," Jon says, nodding in respect to my notion. "But I have a favor to ask of you in return Eli." I glare at him, suddenly angry that he would dare make demands over a simple matter. It is Jon`s turn to wave my concerns away. "If you get the chance to take Winterfell back from Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton`s bastard, do it."

Eli laughs. "I`ll do you one better. If I find him, I`ll send a messenger back with his head."

. . .

We keep true to our word, one sparring with Eli while the other manages the Wall. It`s generally Jon that speaks to Stannis, but on the rare occasion that I find myself in Stannis`s presence, I speak with the Lord Commander's voice in the King`s court. It is not so hard to say what Jon would; we agree on most of the decisions anyways. Though, we have argued about how much of the New Gift we should give to Stannis. Although it is ours by right, given to the Night`s Watch centuries ago when Queen Alysanne rode North on her great alabaster dragon, Stannis may desert us if we do not agree to give the New Gift to him so the Wildlings can settle there. Should we bend the knee and sign away our lands or keep the tradition of the Night`s Watch and take no part in the wars inside the realm? It was only last evening when we resolved this settlement.

"It is the Watch`s land, not his to ask for and not ours to give," Jon had exclaimed, irritated at our quarrelling.

"I agree but-," I tried to say but my Lord Commander had cut me short.

"Then let me tell Stannis!"

"And if he leaves us and the Demons of Always Winter return, who will come to aid us?"

"The better question is, who is daft enough not to aid us? The entire realm will be in danger! Men will come to the Wall, you will see Gemma!" He said pointing a finger as he spoke.

"I can only hope you`re right Jon, but if those men don`t come, if they deem us liars and leave us here to die, who will protect the realm then, eh?" Jon had heard my words a hundred times, but still he found no answer to the question that ailed us both in the pitch black of night. "We need Stannis, and though you are right in saying that the Watch is not his pawn to play, we need to cooperate with the man if we want him at our side when the battle ensues. Give him the Gift and in return the realm may be saved. If we don`t, there may be no Gift to give, nay, the whole realm may be lost," I sighed, glancing away tiredly. He considered it for a long time, ruined fingers thrust into his hair while his soft eyes danced back and forth along the table. Finally, he reached for the parchment with Stannis`s proclamation, laced a quill with black ink, and signed his name to the order. He said nothing, but kept a somber disposition while the ink dried.

"I wish we didn`t have to do it," I remember hearing myself whisper. "It is wrong for Stannis to ask, even if he did save the Watch."

"You`re right to say that we should though. If Stannis feels that we will not obey him to some degree, he will desert the Watch, or find a Lord Commander more to his liking."

"Tell me you are not afraid of death, Jon Snow?" I inquire, my voice tinged with laughter.

"Nay, I`m afraid he would strike you down with me and the realm would be left with few men willing to protect it from the Walkers," he said, raising his eyes to meet my own.

"Then let me take this parchment to Stannis and we shall not have to fret over such worries, at least from Stannis Baratheon." As I walked over to grasp the paper Jon caught my hand instead, pulling me close.

"I cannot lose you," he had stated, trailing a finger down my cheek. My Lord Commander leaned close, as if to place a kiss upon my lips. I wanted to kiss him; my gut ached sensuously for us to connect as we once had, but I shied away from Jon, remembering his wilding girl. I took the signed decree and left him there.

It was only after I delivered it to the King that I realized my own mistake. I knew it was wrong to want to love Jon Snow after all I had endured because of him, yet, it was not in me to cease loving him. Is it my pride that stands in the way, reminding me of the pain that he caused only a year ago? Jon made a mistake borne out of a necessary situation, and he was brave enough to lay it at my feet and beg for forgiveness. The time has come for me to choose: shall I let what is between us run its course? Or will I forget and let our romance die? Jon has been the greatest friend I can ever ask for since his return. Truthfully, I could not have endured without his care. But his love does not undo his mistake, as much as I want it to. . .

The answer comes to me in a dream of green.

The Valley of the Moon is unrecognizable in the dream. My ancestor's small castle is merely a pile of old stones, the bee hives my father took such pride in are frozen in the winter wind. As my exposed feet shuffle through piles of snow, I see the dead faces beneath the ice. They stare up with horrified expressions, asking where I have been, still begging for me to save them in their frosty graves. Their hands reach for my legs in an attempt to trip and bring me down with them, but I am pulled away by a strong grasp.

Danny embraces me quickly before stepping towards the stream. His other half, Stranger, watches the golden fish dance beneath the icy current of the miniscule river. They look up simultaneously when I speak, still joined together even though they appear as two separate entities.

"You`re back! I was hoping we could talk soon," I say with exuberance.

"There is much to say in a short time, I`m afraid," he grunts while rubbing the scar along one eye. "I am leaving with Eli, Gemma."

"Why? Do you support Stannis as well?"

He laughs gruffly before speaking. "The rightful King will arise when Westeros is saved, if he even desires to be King." Danny gracefully walks to the heart tree where the waterfall pours into the river. It`s forlorn ruby eyes stare out at us in scrutiny. "There are few weirwoods in the South and someone needs to keep an eye on that boy. But I haven`t come to talk about Eli. I`m here to speak about you and this Northern land. There are forces at work in the Haunted Forest, more than just Wildings and Walkers, but those that have not risen in thousands of years. The last greenseer has come and armies are gathering. Yet, we are missing crucial elements to win the war for Westeros. One will be awakened on the darkest of nights, when you will want to give up and die, but it is you Gemma who will have to fight for it to live. If it dies, the realm is lost." Danny turns back to me and holds my hands in his own. He is pale and icy against my skin. "The second element is also directly related to your actions. You must bring something to Westeros. You must rescue it, with the help of another, and bring it to the North. Battle will fall before you return, but if it arrives, all may be well in the end."

"You make little sense, you know? Are you working for someone, Danny? How do you know so much about the future?"

Danny looks back to the white tree. "There are those who know. They want to save us all from the Others. They saved me so that I might deliver you into good hands, and then they saved you."

"They healed my leg?!" I exclaim after his meaning dawns on me.

"Of course, did you think I did?" He smiles with sudden warmth.

I place a hand on the weirwoods thick trunk. Thank you. Its somber eyes stare back, silent as ever.

"And what part does Jon play?" I ask looking up into my brother`s steely eyes.

He hesitates before answering, his face growing dark. "He may be quite. . . influential to this war`s end. As you may have guessed I am not allowed to give great detail but answer me one question. One question from your brother, not your guardian. Do you still love the Snow boy?" The question shocks me, though I know the answer.

"I cannot help it," I whisper, looking away sheepishly.

Danny winces.

"I suppose that is good, but it will mean heartache for you. And I regret to say that his past infidelity has made me cold towards him." A small flash of rage washes over his face, before disappearing altogether. "I am to stay neutral in this, though. Either way, Jon loves you greatly, I know you see it as well. But do not trust his judgment completely Gemma. In fact, trust no one; not Eli, not Jon, not your brothers, and . . . do not even completely trust me." I try to protest but he hushes me with a wave. "The only being that deserves your trust is the direwolf, Ghost. He knows much and loves you as his own kin. Jon may be a part of the beast, but Ghost is not clouded by the thoughts and wants of man, as Snow is. Trust Ghost and none else, promise me, Gemma." When I refuse to answer, Danny grips me by the shoulders, staring intently down. "Gemma, promise. It could cost you your life otherwise."

"I promise."

"Good," he says, kissing the top of my head.

"Is it so wrong to love him after. . . the wildling?"

"Does this love feel right?" his muffled voice asks through my hair.

"We work so well together. It feels shameful to admit, but I feel almost as Jon`s Queen when we discuss the business of the Watch."

"As if you rule beside him?"

"Yes, though I suppose Queens don`t usually have as great a say in important matters," I wonder aloud.

"Then maybe you are better off with him, but remember, Jon`s judgment is clouded at times. When you cannot rely on him, fall to Ghost and Jon will come around," Danny reiterates.

"What will I do without you?" I ask, dreading the time without Stranger at my side. The great cat saunters to me until his rough tongue tastes my hand.

"Bear what love brings; bliss and pain and bliss all over again. You have enough strength for it. Though, I pray it does not cost you your life as it has so many others." The scene around us changes, growing cold and dark, with a wall looming over the land. The courtyard is empty but I know we stand just outside the Lord Commander`s tower. A wreath of blue winter flowers is pinned up outside of where Jon`s chambers would be. "Be strong," Danny says again before the green dream rushes away into reality.

. . .

The dream has startled me. I did not know that Stranger vexed Jon after the revelation for his wilding girl. And the flowers. . . What could they mean?

There is no time for me to consider the dream as I wish; Stannis departs this morning. I can hear the King`s men yelling and cursing to each other in the morning rush, voices echoing across the ruined area outside of my chambers.

I dress carefully, wrapping my chest in a dirty white rag. To my dismay the curve does not go away completely. The men will notice soon, I think. Thankfully, my armor conceals the womanly parts I strive to hide. I just cannot trounce about in my tunic.

When the door to my chamber is shut behind me, I make my way down the steps quickly, wanting to catch Eli before he leaves. I find him near the armory helping Gendry gather extra weapons.

"Ay, Eli! Glenn`s here," the blacksmith yells, shifting a crate in his arms. My brother sets the tools in a wagon and glances excitedly towards me.

"I can`t wait to rid myself of this place," he laughs, giving me a playful shove.

My heart falls at his remark. "Promise you`ll practice with a sword then? I can get a few hours of sleep if I know you are getting better. . ."

His laugh is tinged with melancholy. "It seems you`ve taken over for Mother then. . . But I will on my honor. And Gendry will help!" The dark haired boy grunts in response.

"Good. With Stranger at your side I shall have less worry for you while you`re gone."

"Stranger is coming with me? He should stay by you Gem-Glenn." Eli winces when he almost divulges my real name.

"He wants to go with you," I state as the shadowcat slips through the shadows and into the armory. "And I fear you may see more of battle than I will here. It`s better this way."

The boy shuffles his feet in the snow awkwardly, not wanting to say goodbye. I wrap my arms around his thin waist and Eli returns the gesture, his head resting on my own.

"Be safe, so when I return we can dream of better days. Days when the sun roamed free in the sky and we were just three children splashing in a river."

"And we shall again," I say as Stranger pads silently over to us. "I`ll be strong," I whisper, kissing the white scar marring Stranger`s brow. He meets my eyes knowingly.

The southern gates open and chants of "Stannis!" come from the King`s men. I see the man himself speaking softly to Jon, his arms crossed and a stern look on his face; the King`s usual expression. I hope to sneak by them, but my Lord Commander waves me over.

"Your grace," I say tipping my head in respect.

"Walk with me Glenn," King Stannis insists, leaving Jon behind.

After all my brothers in black are out of earshot, the King speaks again. "Your commander tells me that you were the one to convince him about New Gift."

"Aye, Your Grace."

He looks off at the Wall silently, his thinning dark hair shifting in the wind. "My first thought when I realized who you are was to send you away or even marry you off to gain some Northern lords favor. It was he and Melisandre who convinced me not to." Stannis points to Jon across the yard. "You fight well with a sword, as well as any man, aye, maybe better than some and your. . . gift at swaying the Lord Commander`s opinion is certainly useful. With the Night`s Watch in the two of your hands, it may return to some of its former glory but I can see it is not all you want." My face furrows in confusion. "Melisandre has indicated that there may be more to your bond than your brothers see. A bond that thrives behind closed doors, I expect? You could have it out in the open if you so choose. I could negate your vows, both of you, Jon would become Jon Stark, the rightful heir to Winterfell and you his Lady."

"What are the conditions to this gift, your Grace?" I ask, twirling my fingers uncomfortably.

"Jon would rally the North behind him, under my name of course, and attack the Boltons. You could get revenge on your family and live happily as a Stark for the rest of your life. Your Lord has no desire for Winterfell, though I have offered it to him in exchange for his support many times. I thought that with you by his side he might agree for once," his cerulean eyes peer down, expecting an answer.

"You have read me well, your Grace, but the Night`s Watch is my only home. I cannot accept your offer, no matter how generous it is." I know the words are true as soon as they leave my mouth. How can I leave the Wall when the Watch needs Jon and I so much? In the North, we cannot distress at every King who yearns for the Iron Throne.

"Girl, I could have you executed for treason for loving Jon Snow," Stannis spits, his stubborn blood taking hold.

"Forgive me your Grace, but if you would execute me for love, then you would have to hang at least half of the Watch." The King glares at me for a moment before stalking off, the red guards at his heels. Soon enough, the yellow flag of a Stag inside a fiery heart is only a speck in the distance, the King lost in the midst of thousands of men.

. . .

A fortnight later, I sit pouring over old tomes when Edd lurches into the cellar.

"There are you are," he says, wiping grit from his face. "You should come to the training yard quickly, Glenn. M`lord and Rattleshirt are going to spar!"

I jolt from the seat, shocked that Jon would be so foolish. "Why would they spar?"

"Some old grudge from the Wildings, I imagine. The Lord Commander`s going to flatten him." He smiles giddily at me, enjoying the prospect of a fight much more than I do.

The yard is crowded and the men holler at the fighters. My brothers part when I walk past, glancing happily at me as they yell for Jon`s triumph.

"Flap closer, Snow. I mean to make your feathers fly," the wilding says with a slash at Jon. My Lord Commander rushes at him, but the thin man catches the blow with a two-handed slash. He parries every attack that Jon throws at him. Rattleshirt`s speed is blinding, until Jon can only manage to catch his opponent`s attack on his shield. How can such a small, weak man beat Jon so senseless?

The men are mute in watching the defeat of their Lord Commander. The gem at Rattleshirt`s wrist glows a bloody red, drawing a curve in the air as he swings the blunted blade in a downward arc. Jon knocks him to the ground in a final attempt at victory until the wildling lurches up-top, slamming the Lord Commander`s head down into the snow.

"If I had me a dagger, you`d be less an eye by now," he snickers, the grey beard scratching against Jon`s face. I motion to Iron Emmett and another black brother with a massive physique, Horse, to fetch the man. Jon leans into the ground, struggling for breath. I hold out a hand for him and pull my ragged friend up when he grasps it.

"Send him to my chambers, I mean to speak with him later," Jon says glaring spitefully at Rattleshirt.

"What was the point behind that?" I inquire, gaping at his sudden lack of a brain.

"I was training with the fledging's and he said that he would best me and-"

Clydas interrupts Jon, a letter clutched in his hand. "Lord Snow?"

Jon seizes the letter, his eyes scaling it swiftly. "From Stannis?" I ask, trying to peer over his shoulder.

"Ramsay Bolton," he responds, picking at the signature. "Moat Cailin is taken. The flayed corpses of the ironmen have been nailed to posts along the Kingsroad. Roose Bolton summons all leal lords to Barrowtown to affirm their loyalty to Iron throne and celebrate his son`s marriage to. . ." He sighs heavily and turns the letter to my eyes.

"Arya Stark," I say for him, grasping the letter so I can read it wholly to myself.

"Your sister, how old is-" Dolorous Edd begins.

"I have no sister. Only brothers. Only you." Jon states glancing at the men around him.

"Will there be an answer?" Clydas asks, his eyes wide like saucers. The Lord Commander only shakes his head in reply.

We walk back to his chambers in an awkward silence. As we climb the steps I wonder what Jon wants to speak to Rattleshirt about? Is he so distressed that the man battered him so? And why did he brush off the bait Ramsay set for him with Arya so easily?

Horse and Iron Emmett stand outside the door with the wildling nowhere in sight. "The red woman awaits you M`lord. She said she would speak to Rattleshirt as well." When we enter and see them staring at one another tranquilly, I send the two burly men away.

"Melisandre? What`s your business with the wildling?" Jon questions, shock showing in his features.

"Tell me, do the two of you trust me?" She asks, ignoring Jon. Not after you told Stannis about Jon and I, I say to myself. Jon nods hesitantly.

"Of course," I lie with a small smile at the woman. She removes the bracelet with the red gem from Rattleshirt`s wrist, and immediately his face fades. A younger, stronger man sits before us, with dark hair and thick arms.

"Mance?!" Jon exclaims, his hand moving to Longclaw. "I watched you burn!"

"Thought you lost me, eh boy?" He laughs, the bones rattling against his chest. "You saw what you wanted to see. It was Rattleshirt that burned, not me."

"You tricked the entire Watch and King`s men!" I claim, glancing between the King- Beyond- the- Wall and the Red Priestess. "Stannis would consider this treason. . ."

"He would, so let`s keep his a secret for all of our sakes," Melisandre mentions. "I heard the news about your sister and I have seen her in my flames, riding to the Watch. It is safe to assume you wish to save her, even if you no longer claim her as your own kin, correct Lord Snow?"

"You see true My`lady, but what can we do about it at the Watch?" Jon crosses his arms over his chest warily, awaiting her answer.

"Mance will go and rescue your sister from the Bolton boy. He has requested six spearwives to accompany him. He will sing at the wedding feast and whisk your sister to the Wall in the morning. We hold his child, so this false King should obey."

Mance leans back in his chair and sighs. "I doubt it will be so easy, but aye, that is my plan."

Jon has nothing to say; he merely considers the fact that he may have his sister back.

"Do it," I proclaim. "It is the only way Arya can be saved."

After a while Jon agrees, though I can tell he still does not trust Mance. "You are in the right."

"Then we shall gather the horses tonight," Melisandre remarks, clapping her hands together in victory. She places the bracelet on Mance`s wrist, the glamour washing over his image immediately. When the two depart from Jon`s chambers we sit near the fire, as we do often when the night is late.

"What if he can`t save her?" Jon mutters while holding his fingers close to the flames swirling in the hearth.

"He will."

"You are so sure? This Ramsay. . . I have heard terrible news of him. They call him a monster, a mad bastard, hungry for the world`s blood."

"And your sister will escape before she weds him. Trust that all will be well, Jon. Mance has proved his prowess today when sparring with you, and you mentioned that he had been to Winterfell years ago. They will deliver her to us safely."

"I pray you`re right," he sighs, clutching at my hand. "There`s something I`ve been wanting to ask you Gemma."

"Then ask me, oh great and majestic Lord Snow." He kicks me gently from across the hearth.

"Would you be angry if I didn`t want to send you away on a mission?"

"What mission?" I ask, the vibrant attitude leaving me.

"I need to send someone to inform me about the deserters and possibly kill them. As first Ranger, it is your right to lead the mission, but I can`t find it in me to send you. We have so few men to send with you, I don`t think you`ll come back. I`m sending Thorne and a few others but I have no one to lead them. It`s a fools journey, but it has to be done," he divulges.

"Why did you chose me to be your second-in-command if you cannot send me on rangings, Jon?" My voice raises with the anger clawing in my throat.

"I can! I just don`t want you coming back hurt or dead!" He yells back. "We`ve lost everything in this war! If we lose each other-"

"People die in war all the time! We have to deal with it and move-"

"Don`t you see it Gemma! I love you! I would trade anything for you! Anything in this world!" His words leave me flustered and breathless until I stop thinking altogether. I lean forward and our lips meet sweetly. Jon grunts against my mouth while his hands lean me back against the stone floor. The pine scent of him fills my lungs and his teeth graze my lips, pulling gently until I moan against the man. Instead of pulling away like I should, I wrap my arms about his neck and kiss my Lord Commander harder.

"I love you back," I admit, straining for breath against him. "But we both know it is my duty to go." He sits up and entangles his fingers with mine.

"Would you fight for it?" He questions softly.

"You would have us spar?"

"Defiantly. If I win you stay and if you win. . . then I will not stop you from leaving." He peers down at me and lifts my hand to his lips, placing a kiss on the tops of my fingers.

"I can agree to those terms. We have been saying that we might spar soon, anyways," I say, pushing myself up so I am level with Jon. This will be the perfect time to best him.

"You had better not leave anyway if you lose, Gemma." He grins widely at my confused expression. "If you do, the punishment will be absolutely unbearable. . ." Jon`s fingers grasp my chin momentarily before our lips collide once more.

"Oh, I`m so terrified Lord Snow. Would you chase after me and throw me in an ice cage?" I jest when we break apart.

"Something like that. Although the torture would be more suitable for my chambers. . ." I kiss him again, loving this playful banter.

"Do I need to run away for such things?" I whisper, laughing against his ear.

"No, ask and it`s yours. Is now a good time?" I almost squeal when he pulls me into his lap. It takes all of me to deny him; my whole body begs to stay a night in Jon`s arms. I kiss him full on the mouth, my tongue tasting his wanton lips. I must leave before I find myself in the Lord Commander`s bed.

"We should sleep Jon. Don`t want to lose tomorrow, do you?" He nearly pouts when I leave him by the fire.

"In that case, I pray you sleep horribly. Prepare to lose tomorrow Gemma!" He thinks it will be so easy. . .