A/N: Sup, BRuh4 here, I had this idea quite a while ago, and I brought my friend Longclaw in on it because it became quite the handful. Also, we both loved the idea of Jon becoming a Stark way back in season 5, and what implications that would have. It's a great place to start as well because right around there is where the show started to decline a bit until the floor dropped out and everything caught on fire.
So, we got this written. We are very excited and hope this gets you hyped for what's to come.
Longclaw here. When BRuh4 came with this idea, I was intensely intrigued by it. We sort of made it our own, lol. So, yeah. This is Jonerys all the way, so Dany will be arriving soon. But it will be Jon-centric for the first few chapters. Enjoy and comment!
Chapter 1: A Stag's Wolf
He had watched many men die. In the heat of battle, spear through the gut, an arrow piercing the chest, or sword slicing through the neck, there was always a hint of honor hidden amongst the fetid stank and chaotic gore. In bed, life simply passing into an endless sleep - there was a sense of serenity to it, of leaving a body wracked with pain and age into a higher plane of existence. At the hangman's noose, a sense of justice derived following the twitching of the condemned man upon the rope.
But nothing could compare to death by fire. Stannis Baratheon had never seen something symbolizing both purity and terror. Perhaps such was why the Lord of Light favored it. Watching Mance Rayder - the King Beyond the Wall - writhe and scream as the flames licked at his bound frame, it was as if all of his pretensions and sins escaped in a purifying terror. Stannis watched silently, his lips in a thin line as the flames did their work…
A single arrow, slamming into Mance's chest. The King Beyond the Wall looked at it with shock, the pain subsiding as his heart rapidly drained of blood. The Rightful King's head swiveled, tracing the arrow to its origin.
Jon Snow. The Bastard of Winterfell turned brother of the Night's Watch. Bow in hand, he simply walked away, not a word said to any crowding around the pyre.
"Bold, your Grace," Davos Seaworth stated flatly.
"He's just like his father," Stannis merely replied, derision tinting his tone. "Ned Stark was always that honorable."
"Forgive me, your Grace, but is that necessarily a bad thing?"
Opening his mouth to scoff, Stannis blinked instead. "No, perhaps it is not."
The great hall of Castle Black was a cacophony of noise. Tens of dozens of rowdy men, crowded together with flowing ale and hearty stew, hoisting their exaltation at the still new victory over the hated savages north of the wall. For many, the death of the King Beyond the Wall and the likely fracturing of whatever alliance the various clans had was an added cause for celebration. But for some - their feasting slow and voices subdued - no joy was felt. No flagons of ale were hoisted in triumph. Only a sense of loss. Of losing beloved friends and comrades to a fight that, in the scheme of things, meant nothing.
Jon Snow was one of these men. In fact, he suffered from it moreso. Seated in the far corner, he isolated himself from even his remaining friends who at least mourned the fallen together.
Only Jon had lost far more. An image flashed through his mind… one of flaxen hair, kissed by fire. Of conflicting emotions swirling on a beautiful face, of both hate and love - before a crossbow bolt slammed into her chest. Snuffing her life out in his arms.
"Ygritte," he murmured.
He hadn't meant to fall in love with her, or allow her to fall for him. Such a relationship was doomed from the start and was a stain on his self-imposed honor, but all he truly regretted was allowing her to die. He hadn't seen it coming, and wasn't prepared to feel the hurt that he does now. He'd felt loss before, with his father and brother. But this was entirely different, like a part of him just separated from his soul forever.
Ygritte was a piece of him he didn't know he needed until he found her. Now that she's gone forever, that part of him will never return.
Did he truly deserve to live through the battle? To keep on breathing while Pyp and Grenn and Ygritte had given their lives? Jon did not know and withdrew into himself - away from even Ghost.
"Brooding, Lord Snow?"
Looking up, Jon saw the Stag King approaching, hands by his side. "I am no lord," he replied, sighing. "Nowhere near it."
"Ser Davos and I wish to speak with you."
"Your Grace?" Jon frowned, looking behind Stannis - expecting to see Davos standing there.
"Not here," Stannis said. "In my solar." Without another word, he turned around and walked away. Jon's frown stayed about his countenance, but he stood, following all the same. Stannis was out the door of the Great Hall before Jon even made it past his Night's Watch brothers who were actually celebrating. The brothers parted quickly for the Stag but closed back down for the Bastard.
Jon stepped out onto the ramparts once he fought through his drunken brothers, head snapping back and forth to see where the King went. He saw him enter a door on his left, to which Jon followed. Making it to the solar, he entered to see Stannis calmly sitting behind the desk with Ser Davos to his right. For a while, no one spoke, the silence hanging over them like snow clouds. Then, Jon heard the door open behind him as the Red Woman appeared suddenly. Ambling to the corner closest to Jon, her eyes burned holes in his back. Her presence disturbed him.
By the way Davos glared at her, he felt similarly. 'They obviously aren't the closest of advisors,' he thought. Jon was not entirely familiar with their history, but it seemed torrid.
Stannis' stern voice broke the silence, "You showed mercy to a man I sentenced to death, I ordered him burned at the stake. You prevented that. You showed kindness, if a King shows to much kindness, people won't fear you. If they don't fear you they won't follow you."
Jon's eyebrow rose. Did he expect the wildlings to follow him now, to bend the knee to him by virtue of his conquest? "With respect, Your Grace, the Freefolk will never follow you. You're the man who burned their King alive."
"That may be true, young Snow," stated Davos. "But there is one they may follow. Someone who has lived among them, fought alongside them, and even in the midst of a great battle honored one among them with an honorable funeral."
The Stark bastard silent, Stannis sighed, revealing a note. He slid it across to Jon. "Lyanna Mormont, you know her?"
Jon nods, "The Lord Commander's niece." Picking up the ravenscroll, his head hung down to examine it. As his eyes scan across the parchment, he couldn't help but smirk. He read it aloud, "House Mormont knows no King, but the King in the North whose name is Stark."
Noticing Jon musing, Stannis said, "That amused you?"
"My apologies, Your Grace, the North are loyal to their own."
"Yes, I've heard as much. Robert struggled to keep them in line… even with the help of your father. A Stark, in Winterfell, as Warden of the North."
Davos spoke up, "Apparently, there's to be an election tonight for the Night's Watch's new Lord Commander."
"That is correct, Ser Davos," Jon replied.
"Ser Aliser will win."
"How will you fare under him here?"
Jon shook his head, "I'm not looking forward to it."
"He thinks you a traitor," Stannis added. "You made him look weak. He'll punish you for your bravery."
Frustration built inside Jon. "Your Grace, what do you want from me?"
Stannis replied, simply, "The North."
"Lay your sword at my feet, pledge yourself to me, and you'll rise again as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell," Stannis explained.
Jon blinked. "Your Grace…" Such made Jon pause… he still was inclined to decline, but Davos' words gave him pause. The Free Folk would likely just end up meat for the Army of the Dead… but he didn't have authority to bring them out of harm's way as Jon Snow, brother of the Night's Watch. But as Jon Stark, Warden of the North…?
"Think about it," Davos continued for his King. "Who is more palatable to the northern Lords. You, faithful son to Ned Stark and brave member of the Watch, or a Lord who betrayed his King for the sake of King Joffrey and the Lannisters?" None in the north was partial to the Lannisters. "Even as a legitimized bastard, you'll have a higher claim than the traitor Roose Bolton would ever have."
"I must say," Stannis stated, grumbling. "I have quite the distaste for the man… Roose Bolton. Kingslayer, Oathbreaker, the man is craven. Murdering his King, at a wedding… nothing is more dishonorable. I mean to put his head on a pike. But I need more men. I need the wildlings."
"I don't know what to say, Your Grace," Jon sighed. His brain failed to comprehend all the thoughts rushing through it.
"Say nothing, then," Stannis said. "Think on my offer."
"Think carefully, Jon." It was Davos, echoing his King.
Jon swept away from them in a blur, scurrying out the door. Needing someone to spill all his thoughts to… hells, it wasn't even a choice. That person had always been Sam.
The pace quickened as Jon's eyes set on his larger than life friend, Sam strolled across the courtyard by his lonesome. Jon moved into stride next to him, looping their arms together.
"Oh, Jon, what are you-" The portly steward was literally being hauled forward by his friend.
Jon raised a finger to his lips to silence his friend, then he said, "Sam, we need to talk." His head swiveling around, peering for any onlookers.
Nodding, Sam pointed to the direction of the cellars. "We can go there. No one looks in there unless it's Ser Janos during a battle." His attempt to joke fell flat. Normally, even the brooding Jon would crack a smile. "Wow, this is serious."
Not responding, Jon walked with his friend in silence until the door to the pantry latched closed behind them. Catching his friend's worried look, Jon deflated. "Sorry, Sam. I'm just shaken up a bit."
"You've been out of it since your wildling died." It wasn't an accusation, just a statement. Sam was the last person who would criticize falling in love with a wildling. "And yet this is the first time I've seen any real fire in you. What's up?"
Best out with it. "Stannis Baratheon wants me to be Lord of Winterfell, give him the North. Offered to legitimize me as Ned Stark's eldest son and heir." Jon watched as Sam's mouth formed a perfectly round oval. The larger man appeared speechless for once. Jon gripped his friend's shoulder and shook him, "Sam… Sam. Say something."
Sam opened and closed his mouth several times, as if trying to find the right words to say but failing… "I'm… happy for you, Jon," Sam said, finally. Shock having been washed away, replaced with happiness for his good friend. "He can make you a Stark with the stroke of a pen."
Jon exhaled, "It's the first thing I ever remember wanting… to be a Stark. Praying at the godswood, just asking for my family to really be my family. Like they were supposed to be all along."
"You can have it now," Sam smiled, patting Jon on the back. "Not that many people get what they've always wanted, Jon."
"I don't know what I want, Sam."
Sam frowned, clearly a bit confused. "What'd you mean?"
"I've… had daydreams about my father asking the King… Then just like that-" Jon snapped his gloved fingers. "I'd never be the Bastard of Winterfell anymore. Now that's it right in front of me, it doesn't seem real."
"Lots of dreams don't seem real, Jon. But also lots of them do," Sam replied. "You deserve this, Jon. You should agree."
"But my vows… I swore myself to the Night's Watch," Jon explained. "I can't abandon all my brothers."
Now, Sam's expression darkened. "Thorne wants to kill you."
Jon's brows furrowed. "I know he doesn't like me…"
"No, he literally wants you dead. I overheard him talking to Slynt about how you were a traitor for caring about the wildlings…" Sam grabbed him by the collar. "When he wins tomorrow, I think he'll have you killed. He doesn't have full authority to do so now, but he will after he's voted in."
"You'll be safer with Stannis," Sam told him. "If he's to be King you'll be Warden of the North one day."
"You heard our vows. You took them with me. I am a brother until my watch ends."
"True, but if Thorne kills you, then wouldn't that end your watch? I hate to sound hypertechnical-"
"Hate to sound?"
Sam looked up to see Jon smirking slightly. He laughed in response, glad to see his friend could still have some humor. "Fair enough. But your watch will end regardless of what you do. If you take this opportunity, then at least you'll live."
"What kind of Lord will I be if I don't take my words seriously?" Jon scoffed, recoiling from Sam. He turned his back to his friend.
"Loyal to a fault."
"What?" Jon regarded Sam with puzzlement.
"You're loyal to a fault, Jon. You're too honorable sometimes," Sam shrugged. "This is an opportunity that every other man in this castle would take."
"I'm not every other man."
"But I'm telling you, that you should go with Stannis," Sam said, taking a step closer to Jon. "I remember how angry you were when your father and brother died - when your sisters were taken by that mad idiot, Joffrey. Your sister, Sansa, is in the grasp of Roose Bolton as we speak." Jon's eyes widened. In his grief over Ygritte, he hadn't yet fully considered that. "Unspeakable things are happening to her. You had all that anger, and you pushed it down because you had nowhere to put it. You can avenge your family, Jon. Better yet, you can save your family. Last time you wanted to leave, we left to come get you, remember?"
"How could I forget?" Jon said, smiling sadly.
"Well, this time… I'm letting you go. I'm telling you to go. You deserve this, Jon." Sam affirmed.
"I don't think I deserve it," Jon shook his head.
Sam stared at him. "Is it because of Ygritte?"
"Be careful, Sam," Jon grimaced. The memory of holding his wildling lover dead in his arms fresh at the forefront of his mind. The feeling of her the life leaving her body, the light fleeing her eyes. Jon never did cry, but he tried. It was love, he knew. But the emotion just never came.
Grabbing Jon's arm, Sam willed him to see the truth. "What would she want for you, Jon?"
Only silence left Jon, for both knew the answer. In all her anger, in all her grief, Ygritte couldn't kill him. Couldn't launch the arrow that could have easily ended his life… on more than one occasion. 'You know nothing, Jon Snow,' he could hear her saying, likely with a smack upon the head.
"She would want me to live," he said simply.
"Well, there you go."
The wind whipped Jon's hair around, howling violently. Seeming like a sign from the Gods to refuse Stannis. Nevertheless, it made deliberating within himself quite difficult. As soon as Jon left Sam, he went directly to atop the wall. Where he could find some peace and quiet. He stood on the very edge, staring down into the endless darkness below.
Whining gently, Ghost nudged his side, as if sensing his master's inner turmoil. Jon gave the direwolf a small smile, scratching behind his ear. Ghost's tongue lolled out, enjoying the attention. "Thank you, boy." Of the few moments of joy Jon had since leaving Winterfell, Ghost played a prominent role in over half of them.
But as always, the stress of duty would come crashing down upon him. Jon Snow. The Bastard of Winterfell.
Heavy indecision came upon him, on one hand, there was something Jon had innately always desired.
To be known as a Stark, to be on the same level as everyone else. The same as his siblings. He'd been a rung below everyone since he was born, just because of his name. Because of the circumstances of his birth, he'd been stepped over ever since.
The other option is to continue to sit idly by as he always had. When his father was executed, and when his brother was slaughtered, his wife and unborn child with him. As his sister found her way home, but also into the waiting hands of the people who murdered her family. Oh, how his blood boiled then. But he had nowhere to go, as Sam said, nowhere to put all that anger. Nonetheless, the fire had fuel. Piling up log after log, the embers burned hot - simply waiting for the gust of air to ignite it into a towering inferno.
Jon has chosen duty over all else for so long. No matter what. Duty was all that mattered, he swore a vow and he'd keep his word. Just like his father always did. After all, Jon always wanted at least to be half the man his father was.
What would the honorable Ned Stark do if he was in Jon's position? A great question with no answer.
The crunching of snow had Jon snapping his head behind him to see the Red Woman approaching. If the sheer edge wasn't directly behind him he might've backed way up. The dropoff prevented his retreat.
"My Lady," he said, tone respectful even though he felt it not. "What are you doing up here?"
"I've come to see about you, Jon Snow," Melisandre replied, moving into his space. She crowded him near the edge. Her eyes scanned his form up and down, her mere presence unnerved Jon. Even in the cold, her body gave off a warmth he didn't understand. Her loose fitting gown didn't seem like enough to keep her comfortable this far north, but clearly, the weather had no effect on her.
"Why?" Jon can only utter.
"The Lord of Light pointed you out to me."
There was an uncomfortable silence. "Aren't you cold, My Lady?" Jon said, motioning to her gown.
"The Lord keeps me warm."
"I know what his Grace wants from me, Lady Melisandre, but…" Grey peered into crimson, Jon's eyes searching the red priestess before him for answers. "What do you want from me?"
Melisande's head went cocked to the side, "When King Stannis departs of Castle Black… you will be at his side. You will be with him for the great victory in the snow. For many victories to come, side by side with your family as you gaze upon the vanquished from above."
Eyes widening to their maximum, Jon slowly gasped. It's as if she made the decision for him.
Melisandre smiled, not breaking their joined gaze. "You have a good heart, Jon Snow." Her tone was definitive… as if she knew the future. Knew what he would end in choosing. "A blessed heart. I know not the answers no more than yourself - but I know the journey. And it begins with you." With that, Melisandre turned and made her way back to the elevator, leaving Jon and Ghost to the solitude of the highest point in Westeros.
Mind still contemplating, Jon looked back to the darkness. The decision he needed to make didn't come quickly. But it came all the same.
A/N: I hope you did enjoy that. We have all kinds of things planned, we're super excited.
Do leave a review and give us your thoughts. We want to know what you thought even if it's just two words, to those people who write paragraphs... you rock. I or Longclaw will probably respond if you have any questions. But lemme just see if I can guess a few of them right now.
Yes, this is Jonerys story and we fully committed to that. We've already got all kinds of stuff planned for the pair of them. That being said, it is a eventual romance. We, like you, were also starved of Jonerys in the show and we do want more. We plan on giving lots of it, but we won't jump right into because that doesn't make any sense. The story will progress and they will meet.
If you like Stannis, strap in. Because we also like him. Plenty of Stannis to go around here.
Both of us have other running stories, we are fully committed to those. But also to this. Updates will be coming, but idk what kind of pace.
Be sure to check out our other stories: An Empire of Ice and Fire for Longclaw and To Catch a Dream (on Ao3) by BRuh4.
Thanks again for checking this out, we really appreciate it.
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