"Please father I beg you just tell me who she is!" Jon Snow pleaded from his seat in his room.
"My answer has not changed Jon. I will tell you at a later date. This conversation is over." Ned Stark stated in a firm tone before departing.
Jon Snow knew that he was a fortunate person. Most lords would have kept their bastards away from their true born children and fostered them with a minor house so the shame would not be present for all to see. Eddard Stark had not done this and had even ensured that Jon was given education and weapons training similar to Robb Stark, his heir, dispute the repeated derisive comments from his wife.
Jon was beyond grateful for these gifts but to his shame he always found himself wanting more. He would never forget when he and Robb were children playing, and Jon had declared himself the future Lord of Winterfell. Robb had quickly stated that such a thing was impossible as he was only a bastard. Though young, Jon felt a stab of sadness and overtake him as it was the first time, he had been called such a thing by Robb. From that day forward Jon began to truly understand what others thought of him due to his birth and it slowly over the years began to spark a flame of determination and anger within his heart.
Jon was determined to excel at anything he could to prove to those that looked down at him that he was just as capable, just as good as anyone else. He was already gifted with a sword, but he worked himself to exhaustion for months and was now viewed as one of the best swordsmen in Winterfell to Robb, Arya, Bran and Ned's approval and Lady Stark's growing suspicion and disdain.
Jon pushed himself in his studies, and it was not out of the ordinary to find him in the library late into the night reading by candlelight. Though not given the same extensive education as Robb, Jon was familiarizing himself with not only the history of the North but of the south as well. He knew he was no scholar, but he would not allow them to call him a fool as well as a bastard.
Lastly, Jon found an odd fascination with the harp. He never thought himself to be musically inclined and could neither sing nor dance. In fact, he found himself inept at all other forms of instrument. However, when he played a harp it just felt...right. Arya and even Sansa, whom was civil with Jon but always gave him a wide berth due to her mother, loved when he played. His father, unlike his skill in the swords and education never fully approved and had forbidden Jon from playing around anyone but his family.
It was his small personal harp that Jon grabbed now to help ease his frustration. Today was his name day. He was ten and seven and was given small gifts or treats from some of the more sympathetic and understanding servants as well as his siblings. Even little Rickon had given Jon his favorite toy, though he said he wanted it back when the sun rose. Lord Stark asked Jon what he wanted, and he had informed his father to meet him in his room that night. Though he loved his gifts and his siblings there was one thing he wanted above all else.
To know who his mother was.
It was a topic that kept him up at night. Everyone in the keep had an opinion on it. Some said she was a tavern wench. Others said a random woman Ned found comfort in during the war. However, the one most spoken about was Ashara Dayne. Jon listened to them all and found himself imagining what she looked like.
Was she still alive?
Did she know about him?
Did she dream about him like he did her?
It was these questions he desperately wanted answered and again he found none from his father. Jon had done everything he could to prove to his father that he was ready for the truth but at every turn he was denied.
Jon stopped playing his harp and began to pace his room. He had convinced himself a few months ago that joining the Night's Watch was the best idea for his future. There no one cared from where or from whom you were born. Once you took the black, you were all brothers of equal standing. He was eager to join the ancient order and hopefully become a ranger like his Uncle Benjen. The thought of going past the wall into the far north where few every traveled and see sights unlike anywhere else captivated him.
However, he would never be able to have a wife, children of a true home of his own. He also could never leave except for recruiting more members.
'I can't commit to that without the truth.' Jon thought. For all he knew his mother was alive somewhere and would welcome him with open arms. Who knew what paths that could have for him?
"What do you think I should do boy?" Jon asked ghost his direwolf that was still lying beside his bed. They'd found the pups a few moons ago and in that time the wolves had all grown to the size of large dogs. It was astonishing, and he wondered how big ghost would get.
However, true to his name Ghost made no sound and simply looked at Jon with his blood red eyes that held more intelligence than Theon Greyjoy ever had, in Jon's humble opinion.
"He keeps saying that I'm not ready yet, or it's not yet time. If so then when will it ever be!" Jon seethed to himself. Feeling a familiar fire building within him, Jon. Grabbed his harp and with Ghost on his heels, headed into the night to get some fresh air.
He found himself enjoying the cold air and before he knew it, he was standing at the entrance of the crypts of Winterfell. Jon walked down the stairs and felt the fire raging in his veins cool as he passed by a few of the stone statues. He stopped in front of his aunt Lyanna. Father rarely spoke of her but what little he had heard from old nan and ser Rodrick is that she was a free spirit much like Arya and never let others' preconceptions of what she should be and how she should behave dictate her life.
Jon sat with his back leaned against her crypt and began to play his harp. Ghost was at his side, and Jon's music began to echo throughout the crypts. Soon he felt as if a pair of soft arms wrapped around him from behind and he found himself falling into a deep slumber.
Jon opened his eyes hours later to the sound of someone calling his name. He felt his blood begin to heat once more as he gazed at his father.
"Jon we've been looking for you since dawn. What possessed you to come down here?" Ned's grey eyes fell on Jon's harp and he tensed as his gazed quickly went to his sister's statue.
"I needed time to think and clear my head. I must have dosed off." Jon said as calmly as he could. Looking at his father just reminded him of the rejection he has received the night before.
"I know how much you want to know Jon and one day I promise to tell you." Ned said, knowing full well what still bothered Jon.
"You've said that for years now father." Jon stated, his voice taking an accusatory tone as he tried to keep his temper under control. The fire from last night was being reignited and it almost felt like he was now channeling more anger and frustration then he had before, as if he was being feed from another source.
"Yes, I have, and you must understand that I only want the best for you. You've grown so much and become a commendable young man." Ned said as he placed a hand on Jon's shoulder.
"Yet you still don't trust me to know the identity of my mother. I have done everything to prove to you that I am ready to hear it father. Just tell me at least her name." Jon asked, giving one last desperate plea before he lost control of his anger. For a long moment it seemed Ned would tell him but once again Jon's hopes were dashed.
"I'm sorry Jon but no." Ned said.
Jon felt as if a dam broke in his mind and he could no longer control the fire that erupted from him.
"Why?! What did she do that you would wish to bury her memory away? Was she a whore? Is that the reason? Did you feel obligated to take responsibility for a night of weakness? The great Lord Stark with his unshakable honor created a bastard that is a stain on his reputation and would rather keep the rest of it intact than tell the bastard who gave birth to him and risk it being made public." Jon raged. He shrugged his father's hand off his shoulder and moved to leave.
"Jon! Come back." Ned called after him, but Jon didn't listen. He was afraid he would strike his father if he didn't walk away. His patience was at an end.
If Eddard Stark would not tell him the truth, then he would find it for himself