authorsnotes: edited 02/07/2020, further edits 16/05/2022

thanks for sticking with me with this one guys, this is legit the hardest story I've ever written, but I am super happy with how it is going, and you guys motivate me constantly with your awesome response to it! truly you humble me.

lemme know if you enjoy, fav/follow for updates. also for people who asked about pairings outside of who I'll pair jon with, yes there absolutely will be some! but again not to be revealed yet!

songrecs: The Real North - GOT Season 4 Soundtrack

'Beautiful and wilful, and dead before her time'

- Eddard Stark to Arya Stark about Lyanna Stark


He may have felt like he was ready to collapse from exhaustion, but he did not crawl into bed as he wished. No instead he left Ghost slumbering on his bed and made his way to the dining hall, for dinner with his family. As much as he knew he had work to do, part of him felt it was all for moot if he couldn't appreciate the people, he was doing the duty for. Also, his eyes felt so heavy with exhaustion he was sure if he even tried to read anything on Targaryen history he'd pass out.

It was a small thing to have a simple dinner with family, but if the future had taught Jon one thing it was to appreciate the small things.

Jon had been given something of a blessing here, a chance to change the future, to keep the pack together, and yet there was more to it than that … there had to be. He didn't want to run around trying to fix things without appreciating what he had around him, without appreciating his family. He wasn't just here to change things and keep the Stark pack together, yes, that was the end goal, but it wasn't all there was. He wanted to enjoy spending time with them again. Sparing with Robb, chasing after Arya, shooting arrows with Bran. He refused to simply hurry through this do-over, no, he wanted to savour what he had left. Reading could wait, it was time to see his family.

Because they were his family, no matter what he had learned. He would always consider Robb his brother, even if they weren't siblings by blood. He'd always think of Arya as his little sister and Bran and Rickon as his baby brothers. They may be cousins now rather than siblings but that didn't change his view. Just as he would always see Eddard Stark as his father. At least his Uncle Benjen was still just that; his uncle, that made things a little easier in his mind.

He was weary as he made his way through the halls, but he refused to give into the tiredness. As he made his way into the Great Hall he may have wanted to simply collapse onto his bed, fully clothed and exhausted, but no, not yet. As he walked inside and saw his family there, eating their dinner, chatting away with smiles, he smiled himself. His smile only grew, and he ducked his head as they turned to smile at him, beckoning him over, to which he did with a nod.

Settling into a seat he couldn't help but smile, which had always been rare for Jon. He was more one to brood than to lump about with a big grin on his face. It wasn't that he wasn't a happy person, Jon knew he had a lot in life to be happy about, but he also had a hell of lot to brood about, now more than ever. Even as he tried to simply soak up time with his family part of his mind was still on the ever-growing list of problems he had to face, the trials ahead, and the ghosts of his past. He didn't want to think about the life he'd died in and left behind, but flashes of it still appeared in his memory … memories of Ygritte, of his brothers at the Wall. Those weren't memories easily forgotten, and he didn't want to forget him, he would always cherish those times.

He may never meet Ygritte now, or serve as a black brother on the Wall. He may never swing Longclaw or shake hands with the Old Bear. He may never tease Pip and Grenn, confide in Sam or meet Mance Rayder. That life was likely lost to him now. He would have to cherish the memories he had of it; of those moments of pure happiness he'd experienced in that prior life.

It may not have been healthy to hold onto them, but he couldn't help it, couldn't help thinking about the life he lived. Again, he was finding it hard to process, he was sat here, in the body of a boy, when in reality he'd lived a life as a man. He was sat here with shorter hair, leaner muscles and hands that had a much lower body count than they had before but his mind? In his mind it was all still there, and very hard to forget.

But he tried to ignore it for a few hours, as he ate and drank and spoke to his family. All were relieved he hadn't made a run for it, and he traded some good-natured barbs with Robb over the idea he would have ever ran away. He ruffled Arya's hair as she told him that next time, he tried to run away she'd drag him back, and consoled Sansa that no, he hadn't run away because of her, and accepted her hug with a smile. He listened to Bran talk about his archery practice with a big smile. He tried to get Rickon to eat some food, but the baby of the family hadn't had the foggiest Jon had left and so was as ever resistant to doing as he was told. Theon tried to tease him in a less than good natured fashion, but the glare Jon shot him seemed to work.

All in all, he was glad he'd spent this time with his family, but as they passed the two-hour mark, he knew it was time for bed, he was near falling asleep where he sat.

"Off to bed Jon?" His f... uncle enquired, and Jon nodded his head as he rose, it was time for some much-needed sleep.

"Yes Father" He said with a nod, wiping his sleepy eyes as he did so, "A long ride after all"

"Aye" Eddard Stark said with a nod, "Remember to come to my solar tomorrow morning, we have much to discuss" And Jon could only nod again, he was exited for the talk in the morning, to learn of his mother, to hear about her, he couldn't wait, but sleep would need to come first.

"Yes father" He said before he made his way back to his room.

He briefly considered looking over his history books or glancing inside the magical book that rested in his breast pocket, but as soon as he entered the room, he knew he was on the verge of collapsing. He could only close his door, undress, and then fall into his feather bed before his eyes drifted shut and he was out like a light.

He dreamt of Ygritte…

Her red hair streaming free behind her, her blue eyes sparkling as she teased him. Tears trickling down her cheeks as she shot at him, and then the peace in her expression as she had died. He remembered everything about her, and gods he missed her. He knew in this life they were unlikely to meet, never mind become what they had before. He knew he was likely to never see her again, and that ached at his heart, but he knew that was the way things had to be.

He could not join the Night's Watch, not now. What use could he be at the Wall? Sure, there were the Others to think of, but for now his family and the North had to be his priority. Strengthening them strengthened their chances against the Others. Then of course there were his selfish motives, that he would not see his family die again.

So, for now at least, he knew the Night's Watch was not an option. He needed to stay here, to do good here before he even considered running to the wall. He had no idea how he was going to tell his uncle that he'd done a 180 on his original plans, but that had to be the way now. The Night's Watch was not the way forward.

His dreams continued, Ygritte dancing in front of his eyes, always a little too far from reach to grab. He dreamed of the Wall of the ice cracking off it, of the climb that had made him far better acquainted with it than most were. He dreamt of Hardhome, of the massacre he'd seen there. And he dreamed of the Others, of their white skin, crystal blue eyes, their shrieking inhumane sounds and the way their swords shattered all else upon impact. He shivered in his sleep as he thought of them, as he thought of what was coming, of what he had to stop.

'The Ink is Dry Jon Snow ….' A voice called loudly in his head, in his dreams, or was it? The voice was like gravel, but with an age to it that would be impossible. It was also a voice of wisdom, a loud voice.

And he jolted awake with a gasp … the moon was still high in the sky as he awoke. He was only awake for a few moments before sleep reclaimed him once more, the words, ancient and wise forgotten in his rest.

He awoke late the next morning, much later than usual, and he realized his meeting with his uncle was going to be late morning now. Still, the Lord Stark hadn't specified a time and so Jon was able to bathe, to dress and wolf down some breakfast ordered to his room. He wouldn't have minded eating in the dining room once more, but no, he ate in his room, to give himself some more time before he met his uncle, some more time for the book he'd neglected the night before.

Jon opened his now faithful inanimate companion and raked his eyes quickly over his stats and level. He could see he was only 100XP (and he was sure the XP meant experience), away from a new level. As soon as he saw that he quickly flipped over to the quests page and smiled to himself. The first quest immediately caught his eye; enough XP to level up and some additional bonuses, perfect.

Ghost was thankfully awake when Jon walked over to his sleeping spot, and on his feet within a second. Jon grinned as his direwolf yipped to be fed and Jon shook his head, fetching some spare bacon from his breakfast tray but not handing it over immediately. No. He needed to complete this quest, and so Jon held back the food with a serious look Ghost's way, time for some training.

"Okay Ghost up" Jon said, a simple one to start. He held a piece of bacon up higher and Ghost immediately reared on his hind legs to reach it. Jon nodded, but then encouraged the move without the bacon as a motivator. On the third try Ghost bounced onto his back legs with no treat in sight and was rewarded with a pet and a slice of bacon for his troubles. Jon nodded, and began with some other commands.

Now his direwolf had realized that learning the tricks resulted in treats he was much quicker, and much more eager to learn. Quickly Ghost had learned to sit, roll, and bark on command. Jumping took a little longer and a lot of yipping on his direwolf's part, but that was learnt as well, and in just a short forty minutes they were done. He saw the book on the desk glow in reward, and Jon leaned down to give Ghost his reward, one full sausage and another two rashers of bacon. His direwolf leapt on the feast with a bark of approval and Jon smiled down, scratching behind his companion's ears before heading back to his book, well after a quick wash of his now greasy hands.

As soon as he opened the book (which was glowing once more), the familiar writing was hurried over the quest page.

Quest Completed!

Train Ghost.

Reward +10 relationship with Ghost, +5 Animal Knowledge, 100XP.

As soon as that writing faded, a new two lines of script followed, and Jon smiled; well this would make things easier.

Relationship with Ghost: 80/100.

Animal Knowledge: 25.

It was good to see the book was now showing him his stats updated as they increased, saving him the trouble of flicking through all of them to find the information he needed. That was a useful tool and he nodded to himself before a grin stole over his face as the script replaced itself again.

Level Up!

You have climbed 1 level, to Level 3!

You may now add ten points to your Base Stats or 100 points to your General Skills. Choose wisely. Base Stats determine your skill in areas overall, whereas General Skills are more specific. We recommend in the early levels to add points to Base Stats. Base Stats must reach a certain level to unlock certain General Skills, and you must reach certain levels in specific Base Stats to climb higher in General Skills (i.e. you must reach 25 in your 'Charisma' Base Stat or your 'Lying' General Skill will be capped at a possible 50/100, and you must reach 40 in your 'Strength' Base Stat or your 'Mace' General Combat Skill will be capped at a possible 50/100).

Add to Base Stats or General Skills?

Jon took in that information with a nod. He supposed it made sense, to do well in General Skills your Base Stats had to be high enough. He took note of the books suggestion and decided to go with its recommendation, after all the book hadn't steered him wrong so far, wouldn't it be foolish to go against what it suggested? Jon knew he couldn't follow this book forever, always doing as it wished, but for now? When he was so new to everything? He felt it was best to go along with it.

And so, he clicked on the circled words 'Base Stats' then and the writing was once again replaced, this time by his Base Stats, which he had 10 points to add to. Hmm, he considered as he looked over them, and took his time considering, for levelling up seemed to be a hard thing to do, he didn't want to waste this one and then have to wait a while for the next one.

Base Stats

STR: 19

PER: 10

END: 15

CHA: 4

INT: 9

AGI: 12

LUC: 5

MAG: 8

Initially Jon was tempted to put a bunch of points into the Strength category. Fighting with Robb had shown him that he still had the skills he'd picked up over the years, and he still had the mind for the skills he'd learned, but his body had not been able to keep up. He may have acted cocky after he had bested Robb, but his arms had been aching afterward, in a way that a little practice duel wouldn't have tired him out. And after riding for so long? Normally his body would have ached in response, no small amount either, but not nearly as bad as what he was feeling now. He was sore in muscles that didn't have the build he'd worked into them, and so he was tempted to dump 8 points straight into strength. He exercised some restraint however, instead placing in a modest 3. Not only because he knew that simply going for physical power was a bad idea, but also because he knew that suddenly being able to handle more and more would be met with suspicion.

His eyes glanced over the other areas then. The little hint about unlocking other general skills and uncapping them had him putting a further 1 in charisma. Though Jon had no need to be a sweet talker, he knew that skills such as lying were essential. He may have been raised on the Eddard Stark rules of honour, but his time in the Night's Watch had shown him not everything was as cut and dry as it seemed when it came to being honourable. Sometimes one's personal honour had to be set aside. Hadn't he spoiled his own honour when swapping Mance's child for Gilly's? But that had been necessary. And so, 1 point went to Charisma.

He placed another 2 in agility, an area that was important no doubt for tasks to come. He'd already started making a mental list of things he needed to prevent, and he realized after finishing this he should probably write down some of the more important events he couldn't miss. The first that came to mind was Bran's fall, that had to be stopped. He wouldn't see his little brother … well cousin, crippled again. And so, for that alone agility was important.

4 points left. He was tempted to ignore magic and luck all together, but the book had shown him they both clearly had an important part to play. He couldn't deny magic's existence, not with where he was now, and luck was always something good to have on your side. He dropped 1 point into luck, he had never been a particularly lucky person, but he felt it could help.

3 left. 1 went into intelligence to round it to 10, Jon may not have been a scholar, but he had always been smart and knew that making smart tactical decisions was just as important as being able to lead an army on the battlefield. His final 2 points he placed in perception, he has always considered himself to be a perceptive person and he knew it was a useful skill.

Satisfied he checked over the stats again, clicking the numbers next to them to add to them before tapping the 'Confirm' button that had appeared at the bottom of the text. He then checked them over once more.

Base Stats

STR: 22

PER: 12

END: 15

CHA: 6

INT: 10

AGI: 14

LUC: 7

MAG: 8

Everything looked a little better now, and he nodded to himself in satisfaction. For his next level up, he knew he'd need to do the same, pick base stats and round out some more skills. But for now, he was pleased with what he had, and so he closed the book before placing it back inside his breast pocket.

He wasn't sure why he felt the need to keep it so close, but he didn't ignore such an instinct. If there was one thing life had taught him so far it was, do not ignore your instincts.

As he placed the book in his pocket, he looked over the desk for some parchment and then a quill. Quickly he began to scratch out some events from his old life that he would need to pay attention to now. He left some room to add to it, his quill scratching over the rough paper as he scrawled down the important things that were coming.

Bran's fall.

King comes to Winterfell.

Stop Joffrey/Sansa.

Stop Lord Stark becoming Hand.

Meet Uncle Benjen, stop him going Beyond the Wall.

For now, that was all he added, for adding anything to do with the Others or reinforcing the Night's Watch seemed far too complicated. What he had down now was complex alone! The main one he could see (that he circled quickly), that would make the biggest difference would be stopping his uncle becoming Hand of the King. Then the Stark's wouldn't head South, war wouldn't be called, and the North could be strengthened. But again how on earth was he supposed to do that?

He searched his mind for any reason he could give his uncle without sounding insane, of something he could say or do … he had nothing. Short of injuring Eddard Stark, or bodily stopping him from leaving, he had nothing.

With a slightly disheartened sigh he placed the parchment in the draw in his desk, alongside the sigils that once again seemed to glow as he closed it. Perhaps he'd come up with something soon? Or the book would help? For now, he had nothing, and as he glanced over at his calendar, less than three weeks now until the King arrived, it was closer to two now. There wasn't enough time, not nearly enough time.

But he tried to rally himself as he stood to his feet, secured his weapons belt, and grabbed his cloak. He had determined what he would do; level up, complete quests and let the book guide him. Jon knew that was the best way forward. The book would show him … and well if it didn't. He knew one thing for sure, he could not let Eddard Stark go South, No matter how he did it (and for now Jon had no idea how), he had to stop him.

With a sigh and something of a goal in mind Jon made his way out of the room, his usual brooding expression replacing the smiles of the night before as he made his way through the corridors and to his uncle's solar. For now, he would put aside the larger goals, and complete another quest, one that not only helped him with the book, but one that would give answers he had craved for a very long time.

It was time to learn about his Mother.

As he arrived, knocked on the door, and his uncle ushered him inside and placed a glass of watered wine in his hands, Jon felt like a little boy again. Now he wasn't worrying about the future, thinking wistfully about the past or trying to come up with schemes and plans to stop the ruin of the Stark's. For now, he was simply Jon Snow, his expression eager as his uncle sat down and Jon waited for him to start. He felt like a little boy waiting, waiting, to hear about the one topic he'd always craved to hear about: his mother.

"Lyanna was a wonderful woman" His uncle dove in without warning, looking down at a spot on his desk, his own glass of wine in hand, something of a sad smile on his features. "Beautiful but she didn't care about that, intelligent but not too bothered by that either, she had the wolf's blood" His smile grew a little then and he met Jon's gaze, "You have a touch of it, not much mind you, but a touch that shows in your stubbornness, in your skill with a sword and your bravery"

"Lyanna had more than a touch. She had wolf's blood running through her veins. She was wild, free, refused to be cowed" He shook his head then, took a sip of his wine before continuing, "Born in the saddle many said, and fierce with a sword, fierce with one before she could even lift it properly" He continued, "But she had a gentle side. The side that loved flowers, that would comfort a little boy who'd skinned his knee, or a little girl who'd gotten mud on her dress. The kindness that was bold and beautiful, but always there" Again he met Jon's gaze, and Jon knew he was leaning forward in his seat, hanging on his uncle's every word.

"She was wonderful Lyanna, I loved her so much, and my god Jon she loved you" He shook his head then, "Even though she never knew you she loved you, and I know if she had raised you she would have smothered you with love" He cleared his throat then, tears in his eyes that Jon knew reflected his own. "She loved you from the moment she saw you, and never took her eyes off you, not truly, not until she was gone"

"She sounds amazing" Jon said with no small amount of reverence in his voice. He'd always wondered about his mother, wanted to know what she was like, who she had been, her personality … and here it was. It was fantastic to hear, but bittersweet in that he'd never been able to witness it and had to instead rely on stories and memories of others. It was better than nothing, but hard to swallow all the same.

"She was" His uncle said, and the pride in his voice was clear, "I remember when I was most in awe of her, most proud"

"It was the Tourney of Harrenhal, we met Howland Reed there for the first time, and he was being bullied by some squires of other knights due to his height. Lyanna chased them away, tended to his wounds, immediately befriended him and promised him revenge" He let out a small laugh then, "We all laughed at that, I remember saying 'What do you propose to do Lya? Tell on them to their Lords?" Again, he laughed, though again sadness was clear in his gaze, "Well she did in a way I suppose"

"At the tourney the next morning, she entered, I had no idea until after. Benjen found her some armour, she painted a shield in a hurry and donned a helmet. She spoke in a gruff voice so none would recognise her and entered the joust" Eddard nodded at him then as Jon was sure he looked shocked, and continued on, "She beat the knights of all three squires, and in payment, demanded they teach their squires a lesson if they wished to have their horses and armour back"

His uncle shook his head then, almost in disbelief, and Jon knew he was smiling, "It was amazing. Then she dropped out of the lists, rode off, and only me, Benjen, Howland and Brandon knew who the Knight of the Laughing Tree was. That's what the smallfolk dubbed her, shouted the name out over the seats" He nodded again, and Jon couldn't help but let out a laugh of disbelief, but not just of disbelief, but of amazement. What a woman his mother had been.

"That's fantastic" Jon said, and his uncle nodded again, before meeting Jon's gaze once more, his expression turned serious now.

"That was where your mother first met your father, I later found out" His expression was more sombre now as he spoke, "Aerys was unhappy about the Knight of the Laughing Tree, believed it to be an assassin or a ploy, gods he saw plots in everything. And so, he ordered his kingsguard find her. I later found out it was Rhaegar who found her first, met her, spoke to her, admired her" He paused then, thinking for a moment. "Many people think that when Rhaegar crowned Lyanna Queen of Love and Beauty, in the act that sparked the first signs of war, it was random, done for her beauty, her looks, but no. It was because of what she'd done, in standing up to those squires, in being strong and brave and fierce. That was why he did it" His Uncle nodded again then, his expression one of contemplation.

"I think they fell in love there and then, truly" A small sigh left his lips, "The war started that day, not just because of Aery's paranoia, or Robert's jealousy, no" He shook his head, "It was because from that day your mother and gather could not stand to be apart, and on that day they fell in love. And from that came you, Jon. And no matter what happened as a result of their love, she would never have regretted it I'm sure, because it gave her you. You, who she only knew for a moment, but still loved above anyone else"

When his uncle met his gaze next it was full of tears, and Jon again knew he was the same. In fact, his tears had fallen over, to trickle down his cheeks, and when his uncle rounded the table and pulled him into a gruff hug Jon accepted it with a small sob, that quickly turned into several, to which his uncle didn't follow, but Jon could tell from his shaking that he was crying too.

And for a moment his uncle held him as he cried. Cried over the mother he had never known, but so wished he had.

They parted several minutes later, and Jon ducked his head to wipe his eyes, clear his throat and gain some composure. Hearing about his mother … it had got to him more than he had thought it would. Yes, he'd imagined he'd get upset, but not to such an extent.

But it wasn't just hearing about his mother that had done it. It was hearing about how loved he had been, even though she hadn't known him. It was hearing about how his mother and father had loved one another, that he truly was a product of love. And so, as he wiped his eyes he nodded to himself, almost in reassurance; that it was okay to cry after such a story, that it was normal to get emotional after learning of his mother, and his father.

It took him several more minutes and several sips of wine before he sat back down, his eyes drying, his uncle now composed and waiting for him. He smiled at his nephew, and Jon smiled back, he wanted to hear more, so much more. He didn't care if it made him weep again, he wanted to hear everything.

But before he could ask again, he saw the familiar writing appear in front of him…

Quest Completed!

Learn about your Mother.

Reward: Mother's heritage page is now unlocked, +100XP. XP: 100/2000

He would have to look at his mother's heritage page later, for now he was focused on his uncle as he continued.

"Now, Jon, I'm happy to tell you more stories, gods knows you deserve them after all this time" His uncle paused then, took a sip of wine and then met his gaze, "But I think first we must discuss something in light of what you know, something important" Jon hesitated then before nodding, he wanted to know more, but he knew his uncle must be serious if he were prioritising this over more tales of Lyanna.

His uncle seemed to steel himself for a moment before continuing, "I know you have asked me to join the Night's Watch, and I understand if that is still what you want, you have an uncle there and I think you could do well there. You may know you're true born, but to the world you're still a bastard" His Uncle paused then, "I'm sorry you've been branded with that, but it kept you safe, I do not regret you living with that, for the alternative would have been your death"

"I understand" Jon said, and his uncle nodded, apparently pleased Jon wasn't mad over the status he'd been stuck with since birth, when it wasn't even true.

Sure, Jon would always resent being a bastard, it had caused him plenty of grief, but he didn't resent or blame his uncle, he had made the decision that kept him safe.

"So, the Night's Watch is still an option, but now that Lady Stark knows who you are, you have other options too" His uncle held up a hand as Jon went to speak and shook his head, pausing him.

"You may want to settle a keep near Winterfell, form a cadet branch. I have a few castle's you could occupy. Moat Cailin would be the largest and further away, but a good settlement. Or you could take a smaller castle closer to home, rebuild it, become a Lord" His uncle said with a nod, "Or if you wish to be further away, stride out into the world I could find you a settlement near Greywater Watch, Moat Cailin would be good again in this case. Howland Reed knows who you are, loved your mother and would see you protected. The marsh lands are harsh, but you would adapt"

"If you don't wish for your own keep, I could find you a good position here at Winterfell. A Master of something perhaps"

"Or there is a fourth option" He said with a pause before carrying on. "I've been considering this for a while now, with Robb, and I think it would be good for you to go too. It is traditional when a boy of a noble family comes of age to take a tour abroad. I was raised in the Eyrie, but Jon Arryn still sent me and Robert to Bravos for three weeks" He smiled then, wistfully it seemed, "It was glorious"

"A tour?" Jon interrupted then. "As in a tour of lands East?" He asked, no shortage of curiosity in his voice.

"Aye" Eddard said with a nod, "I'd fund a tour East, to the Free Cities perhaps? Or the Summer Isles?" He nodded again, "I wanted to send Robb and always considered you as well. The two of you could go together. Say for a six-month trip? That's a traditional length. You could explore before settling home and then making a choice about your future"

Jon's mind was racing with possibilities now. He knew joining the Night's Watch was no longer an option, at least not yet, he needed to be in the North to make the necessary changes to come, and now he had that option. He could remain in Winterfell, in the centre of things, or he could find his own keep, set up a base. His mind was thinking strategically about what was best for his plans, but at the back of his mind his thoughts strayed, to simply what he wanted.

To be a Lord … once he had never dreamed of such a privilege. To have command of his own castle, to be loyal to Robb, to answer his call when needed. When he was young it was all he had ever wanted. And yet … when Stannis Baratheon had offered him the chance, in the life gone now he'd turned it down. But there wasn't the moral issue anymore, of leaving the Night's Watch, abandoning his duty, of taking Winterfell when it had never been his. Now he could have such a thing without any guilt, without any worry. It seemed too good to be true … he almost wanted to say yes immediately, to be a Lord here and now, but then his mind strayed to the fourth option.

A tour abroad … a temporary thing yes, and though he was drawn to the idea of travel, of gallivanting about new places, his mind went to the book, the maps he had yet to unlock, the quests for Valyrian Steel that could only be completed east. This was his chance! His chance to find Blackfyre! To see Valyria perhaps, Bravos surely.

This was his chance to expand his knowledge, to learn more, perhaps complete more quests. Surely if his goal were to level up, to unlock as much of the book as possible this was the route he had to take? And with Robb by his side? To watch his back? It would be difficult to keep things from Robb, but having him along could only be a bonus, to bond and to protect one another when necessary.

Yes, part of him wanted to go simply to see the amazing sights he'd heard about, but the logical part of him, the part of him tied to the book in his pocket, it almost urged him to go on the tour, to see new lands, explore new things, gain knowledge and see the home of his ancestors. Surely this was what he had to do? Surely this was the way forward?

But then it dawned on him … abroad? With the King arriving in a fortnight? He felt himself deflate. It wasn't a possibility. He had too much to do here, to change here. He opened his mouth then, to refuse the offer, before his mind caught on a thought, and a smile came to his face.

He could take the tour, providing he found a way to keep his uncle up North. If he managed to keep Eddard Stark in Winterfell, then he could take the tour without worrying. He could discover more, he could learn more and unlock more of this book, assured the Starks were somewhat safe and sound tucked up North. If his uncle remained in Winterfell then Jon had more time, more time to strengthen the North, to find a way to defeat the Other's, to stop the War of the Dawn. And so, he nodded to himself.

This was his path forward now, he could see that clear as day, and the clarity made him feel confident, sure of himself in a way he hadn't felt since coming back.

He knew what he needed to do.

"I'll take the tour" He said with a smile, and he was met with an answering smile from his uncle then, but he didn't take pause, "But first I have some … unfinished business here, my studies and training and all that, could we hold off on it for a few months?" He asked, pausing then, almost holding his breath as he waited for an answer.

"Of course Jon" His uncle simply, "I'll need time to prepare the ship and you and Robb need to plan where you'll go" He nodded then, "I'd say in three months you can set sail"

Jon smiled again then and nodded once more; he could make this work; he would make this work.

This was his plan now. Stop his uncle going South to an eventual death in King's Landing, keep the Starks in Winterfell and then head abroad, see Valyria, find BlackFyre, level up and gain more skills and stats, and then, and only then could he change things for good.

To stop the Other's, to strengthen the North, to ensure the pack never broke up. It would be hard, extremely hard, for the first hurdle was the biggest one … but if he got over that, if he found a way for his uncle to stay, then perhaps this new life could far surpass his old one.

"Aye, sounds perfect"

sooo thoughts?

I hope you enjoyed it! I know the timeline of these chapters are odd, quite slow, but I want the start to be slow, before Jon makes his way into the big wide world!

be assured there is lots of cool stuff coming, I promise! this story will normally be Jon's POV (but we do get exceptions like Robb, and I've got another one planned soon, guess who?), and Jon is gunna see lots of awesome stuff. some interesting quests will be coming his way, and I'm super excited for the stuff I have planned out!

I just have a few things to cover before wrapping up:

- there will be a romance element to this story, just not yet. I'm not 100% on who Jon will end up with but I've got a pairing in mind.

- do not fear that this will be a traditional 'Jon goes for the throne' fic, sure that'll be an element, but there will be much much more. Jon is book canon here, he's got some ambition but not that much, I can't say much without spoiling but be assured it won't be a typical fic in that regard.

- Robb will be more involved with this story as it goes on, and will have more POV's. did you enjoy Robb's POV? lemme know!

- A lot of people asked me what the title means for the story and all I'll say is ... no spoilers, mwahaha.

anywho I do hope you enjoyed, lemme know if you did. I don't whine for reviews but I do love them, feed me reviews, feed me poweeeeeeeer. fav/follow to stay updated!

speak soon