A SIMPLE FAVOR
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to their respective owners. J K Rowling, HBO and GRRM.
"Well, there was that one time I tried to turn myself into an owl and had to walk around with chicken feet for a week." Harry told his very attentive audience.
"You can do that?"
"Yeah but giving oneself chicken feet is not an experience I would like to GI through again." Harry said sagely but the boy shook his head.
"No, I mean can you turn yourself into Hedwig?"
"Well Hedwig already exists so I would only be a look alike, and a very poor one at that." Harry answered as he scratched the Owl in question fondly. "But I could turn into an owl indeed."
"Can I see it?"
Harry's eyes widened comically.
"You...you want to see it?" Harry asked in exaggerated surprise. "Really Bran, I expected you to be more subtle than that."
Jon snorted behind them while Robb snickered next to him.
"What?" Bran asked looking at his brothers in confusion.
"A lot bit of advice from a fellow man..." Harry stated while doing his best Dumbledore impression. "Never ask a man whether can let you see it."
"You just don't." Harry shook his head and he could see that they had reached. "It is unethical and in some cultures such a relationship is even frowned upon."
Reiner trotted forward and reached Lord Stark who had gotten down from his horse. Harry slid off Reiner and landed quietly.
"You think he is distracted enough?" Lord Stark asked when Harry stood next to him.
"I wasn't exactly trying to distract him but I reckon he will be thinking on what I told him to really concentrate on the beheading." Harry replied and Ned gave an appreciative nod.
Harry stood aside and watched the proceedings as Ned questioned the man. It was clear the man was telling the truth and he was also very stupid and a coward to boot. Before Ned could cut off the man's head, he exchanged a look with Harry who stepped forward and knelt next to the man.
"Why didn't you go back to the wall to inform your brothers of the Watch?" Harry asked quietly and the man blinked at him in confusion.
"You believe me?" Harry gave him a nod and the man sighed. "You are probably the only one who does"
Harry didn't answer as he knew there was more.
"And it would be useless. They are strong, too powerful. So it would have been for nothing." He continued. "I would only be blamed for abandoning the others to what the watch would think were wildlings."
Harry gave him an understanding nod.
"You have no idea how much you helped the realm by bringing this information." Harry told him. "I will make sure that your family knows about how much you helped save the realm."
"Thank you." The man breathed before he bowed his head for the killing blow that was sure to come. Stepping back, he gave Ned a nod and watched as the valaryan steel sword sliced through the man's head like a hot knife through butter.
He glanced at Bran to see the boy staring at the dying corpse stiffly. Jon was next to him also staring at the man grimly while Robb looked like he wanted nothing more than to be away from here. Theon, well the Greyjoy heir looked like he wanted to hug the dead man. Harry turned and followed Ned as he made for his horse. Reiner kept up pace with him as he hadn't been tied like Ned's horse. The others followed quietly from behind them.
"You believe him." It was more of a statement than a question and Harry nodded.
"Unfortunately, I do." Harry sighed. "I had hoped that we would have more time."
"I am not sure what to believe." Ned sighed as he climbed his horse. "All I know is that things are moving too fast for my liking."
"I suggest you buckle up, Lord Stark. Things are about to pick up pace. "
"I take it that's one of those sayings you use where you come from. "
"Right in one, My Lord." Harry answered before he looked at Bran who was staring ahead of him. "Hey Bran, can you give me a ride?"
Harry's answer was to self-transfigure himself into an owl and leaped at the startled boy's shoulders. There were shouts of surprise from the guards and the Stark children but Bran ignored them and just stared at Harry in awe. For the time he wasn't helping building the Moat, Harry spent his time at the castle doing a few chores with his magic. He knew of the prejudice the people of Westeros as those capable of wielding it seemed to only use it for the bad things that magic can do.
Therefore, the people who lived at Winterfell had gotten used to witnessing him do magic for harmless tasks and only the visitors would be surprised when he did something. Well something that was not changing oneself into a bird. It wasn't an easy feat for a wizard to transfigure themselves into an animal that wasn't their animagus form. Harry though had mastered it and with numerous animals as he travelled. Transforming into an owl though was the easiest as it was the first animal he ever transformed into so he would spend time with Hedwig as his own Animagus form didn't allow him to fly.
He rode on Bran's shoulder for some time before Hedwig coaxed him into playing and they chased each other around the little group as they headed back to Winterfell. Along the way, they picked direwolf pups for each of the Stark children including one for Jon. Ned had initially hesitated to allow the boys to keep the pups but a nod from Harry was enough to communicate useful a pack of grown direwolves around Winterfell could be in the long run.
When they reached Winterfell, Harry followed Ned to the godswood as the Lord went to clean his sword near the heart tree. Harry sat down and watched the face on the tree and he could feel whoever or whatever was on the other side observing him as well. He had not been able to talk to whoever was on the other side as just like Howland Reed, the fellow seemed to insist on hiding from him. Figuring this was as good a time as any, Harry knelt at the heart tree and placed his palm right on the tree's warm bark and let his consciousness merge with it.
He immediately felt something trying to resist him but he flared his power and pushed harder. The resistance held for a moment before it snapped and Harry fell forward. When the sensation stopped, Harry found himself standing in a huge cave with a very high ceiling. There was an ancient heart tree with gigantic roots. In the center was a throne-like seat where an equally ancient looking man was seated wheezing like he had just run a marathon.
"You shouldn't be here." The old man spoke after he had got his breath. His voice was surprisingly firm but that was magic for you. "Your magic is foul."
"Well that is an insult if I have ever heard one." Harry murmured as walked to the wall and drew a location rune. Given that one's magic came right from the soul, if a wizard knew how they would be able to project their astral form and perform great feats of magic that they could only dream about. However, it not only leaves their body to be vulnerable but it could also exhaust them magically to the point of death. With his power levels though, it would require Harry to do some very complicated magic in his astral form if he is to even approach anything resembling magical exhaustion. And this was not.
"What are you doing?" the three-eyed raven asked when Harry finished.
"Nothing serious, just making sure that I don't have to travel like this to find you." Harry shrugged. "So, how long have you known the Others are matching, and why exactly didn't you try to warn anyone?"
After what felt like hours later, Harry willed himself back into his body. The Three-eyed raven rather liked his riddles and the conversation had been more exhausting than he would have liked. After walking in circles, Harry had finally managed to piece together enough information to paint a picture of what was going on beyond the wall and it was not a very pretty picture at all. He had to begin thinking of ways to alter his plan without affecting them completely.
He was pulled from his musings by the arrival of Master Luwin. He nodded at Harry before he turned to Ned. After some small talk, he presented a piece of parchment to him.
"Two ravens came just after you had left." Maester Luwin said as he held the letter to Ned who made no move to get it. "Jon Arryn has resigned as Hand of the king and the king is on his way to Winterfell."
Ned didn't react for moment as he waited for him to continue. When he didn't, Ned looked up at him with frown.
"You said two ravens."
"Yes, well Lady Lysa was murdered by the Lannisters."
"According to Lord Arryn, she was given the TEARS OF LYS."
Ned grabbed the parchment and swiftly read through. He handed it back to the maester when he was done.
"Where is my Lady wife?"
"In the Sept my Lord."
"Thank you maester Luwin. Ned said and the dismissal was very clear in his voice. When the master left, Ned turned to Harry. " I want you to be very honest with me Harry Potter.
Harry felt his eyebrows rising. Apparently the man had decided to use what his kids called his Lord's voice.
"Did you have anything to do with this?"
"How long have you known about it then?"
"Ever since her death."
"And you didn't think to mention this to me?" By this point Ned was standing near Harry and felt that this had gone on long enough. Squaring his shoulders, Harry covered the space between them.
"Listen to me Lord Stark. I am your daughters' 'swornshield' not your 'master of whispers'." Harry said staring him in the eye. "You want information from me, you will damn well ask for it. Don't expect me to run to you whenever I hear a single fucking thing just because you are the freaking Lord Stark."
Turning on his heel, Harry stormed away from the man and stalked out of the groove. When he got out of sight, he apparated to the edge of Jon's clearing.
"What kind of stupid person names a direwolf a stupid name like Lady?" Harry heard Arya huff before he could even see her lying next to Jon in the snow.
"Uh, the stupid one?" Jon offered and the girl rolled her eyes.
Strolling into the clearing, Harry took off his cloak as he entered through the wards that kept the area warm placed it on the coat stand. Two of the direwolf pups had been playing before the pair and stopped their game to stare at Harry as he approached.
"Well aren't you two just adorable." Harry coed as he squatted down and scratched them behind the ears. The two pups leaned into his touch for moment before they both tried to clamber up his arms.
"Harry!" Arya exclaimed happily when she saw him. "Have you come to train us?"
"No, I am running away from your father."
"Why would run from him?"
"Well, I just gave him a scolding like he is a little boy." Harry shrugged and Arya frowned at him.
"Because he shouted at me for keeping information from him."
"Why did you keep information from him?"
"Because he didn't ask."
"Oh." The girl blinked. "I guess that makes sense."
"What information did you keep from him?" Jon asked from his spot.
"Lysa Arryn's death."
"I didn't like her anyway." Arya said. "Jon said that she is a mean woman and hates mother."
"I didn't say that." Jon denied while sending Harry a panicked look.
"Yes you did." Arya insisted. "And you said that she is jealous and paranoid. That she hates everyone including her husband and is still breastfeeding her son yet he is nearly as old as Rickon."
"That is quite a lot to say about a woman you have never met, Jon." Harry said with a raised eyebrow.
"Well it is what those who come from Kingslanding say." Jon defended himself before he gave Arya a betrayed look. "And you were not supposed to tell anyone, you traitor."
"Well, it's not like Harry is going to tell anyone." Arya smiled before she looked at Harry. "Is it true that you can turn into an animal."
Harry just turned into an owl by way of an answer for few seconds before he turned back.
"Wow, can you also turn other people into animals?"
"Yes but it would be very painful and you could end up stuck as that animal."
"Well, I can handle some pain and I wouldn't mind being stuck as a dragon." Arya mused to herself before her eyes it. "Turn me into a dragon."
She looked at him in disappointment before she stood up. Squaring her shoulders, she did what Harry assumed was her best Lady Catelyn impression.
"You are my swornshield and therefore sworn to do whatever I tell." She stated while frowning at him and Harry resisted the urge to coo at the adorable site. "I command you to turn me into a dragon."
"And after that?"
"What?" Arya blinked, completely caught off guard by the question.
"After I have turned you into a dragon, what will you do?"
"Well, I would fly to the sept and burn Sansa and her friend Jeyne, then I would burn all those who call me Arya Horseface." She said in thought. "Then I would fly to the wall and destroy it so Jon stops thinking of joining the watch. I would kill all the wildlings who would want to come to our lands just because the wall is no longer there then hunt for all the Others and the North would never suffer again."
"That is one… ambitious mind you have got in there, Lady Stark." Harry commented as he looked at the girl.
"I am not a Lady."
"Well, only ladies command their servants about."
"I don't command servants."
"You just tried to command me."
"Well, I knew you would not listen so it doesn't count."
"Uhm, I guess that is a fair point." Harry admitted. "Why a dragon though."
"Dragons are powerful." Arya said as she sat down. The grey direwolf moved from Harry and went to her lap. "They are feared and can breathe fire. Not to mention they cannot easily be harmed."
"Dragons are creatures of fire, Arya." Harry told her. "They are creatures of destruction and death. They have no relation; they would eat their brothers if they wanted. If threatened, they would not hesitate to leave the other behind so they live. They can never work well with the other animals except to eat them and they most of the time live in isolation without any companionship. I that the kind of life you would like to live Arya? With no family, being feared by everyone. Even those that get close to you end up as your dinner or lunch."
"Dragons have no packs." Jon added quietly and Harry nodded at him.
"Aye, dragons have no packs." Harry told Arya. "You have a pack, Arya Stark. Jon, Robb, Bran, Rickon, your father, and even Sansa, they are all part of the pack. Would you be willing to give up this just because you want to be more powerful and feared?"
"No." Arya muttered quietly.
"Then be a Direwolf." Harry told her. "You have studied them and know that a pack of direwolves would be able to take on a dragon. You are of the North and Direwolves are of the north, they are creatures of Winter and we all know that Winter is indeed coming. A dragon would hardly survive winter but a direwolf, especially one with a pack will most definitely survive winter no matter how ferocious or long it turns out to be. So what are you, Arya Stark of Winterfell?"
"I am a direwolf of the North." Arya declared. "And when the Winter comes, the direwolf will stand tall at the end of it."
"Truer words were never spoken." Harry cheered as he stood up. "Now who else wants to eat something, personally I am starving."
Of course Arya's stomach chose that moment growl quite loudly. Laughing, Harry lifted the girl and placed her on his shoulders.
"Well, you may not be a dragon but it doesn't mean you cannot ride one." Harry told her and the girl giggled. "This dragon is at your command my Lady."
Now laughing, Arya lifted her hands.
"Fly, my little Nymeria. Fly to the great castle of Winterfell."
Being the great dragon that he was, Harry obediently obeyed the dragon rider on his shoulders and started running towards the castle with Arya's delighted laughter ringing in his ears.
That night, after putting the final touches on the basalt curtain wall around the Moat that was even higher than Winterfell's, Harry teleported to his room back in Winterfell. The work on the wall had taken the most part in re-establishing the great fortress and hopefully, work would start to move faster as they built the new towers. Harry had made sure to feed his magic into the wall right from the foundation and he kept feeding it as it went higher.
By the time the final touches were put, the wall was so strong that the fortress would never be taken by force in anyway. Harry was sure that the curtain wall would be hit by dragon fire and except for the marks were the fire makes contact there would be no effect at all. He planned to make sure that the twenty-five towers also had the same amount of protection as the curtain wall which meant that once completed, the tower would be even stronger than it had been when the first men first raised it.
He wasn't surprised to find Ned seated there as the wards had notified him when the Lord of Winterfell knocked on his door and he had let them admit him. Harry's room was very simple and Harry liked it that way. It had a bed with a feather mattress that Harry had covered with conjured bedsheets and a thick bedcover. On the other side of the room across the bed was a writing desk and a comfortable chair. There was a small transparent jar of orange flames hanging in each corner of the room that covered the room with light and one hanging just above the writing table.
In front of the desk was a small couch where Ned was seated and snoring quietly having probably fallen asleep the moment he sank into the comfortable couch. Harry more than often found himself dozing off whenever he sat there. Harry took off his cloak and placed it on a rack and sat down at the chair on the writing desk. It had blank pieces of parchment and a number of quills but nothing important.
He sent a very mild stinging hex at the man's uncovered arm as he had also taken off his cloak. The wards on room made sure to keep it warm and they got rid of any lingering snow or mud from a person's clothes the moment he passed through the door.
"Harry." Ned greeted after he had gotten his bearings. "You have a… curious room."
"Well, what use is having magic when I can't use it to make myself comfortable." Harry shrugged and Ned shook his head in amazement.
"I am yet to get used to the things you can do." He replied. "I should have known that improvements were not just with Arya and Sansa's room."
"Well, I could do the same to yours but I doubt Lady Stark would be receptive of my intrusion."
"No, that would be a disaster." Ned sighed. "Harry, I wanted to say that am sorry about what happened this morning. I don't think I was thinking very straight then given what I had just done and the shock of the news I had just received."
"I understand, Lord Stark." Harry admitted with a nod. "And I am sorry I shouted at you though I still stand with what I said"
"And you would be right." Ned said. "Sometimes I forget that you are not actually one of my vassals and not to mention it was a refreshing feeling to have someone not afraid to disagree with me and speak their mind about it."
"Well so long as you don't forget my place, I won't have to remind you every now and then." Harry said and the two shared a laugh. After a moment of comfortable silence, Ned spoke again.
"I think it is about time I put in action what you told me this morning." He said seriously and leaned forward. "What do you know of my good sister's death.
AN: Hello guys, that is the fifth chapter for you. Whatever you find is different from canon was intentional so if you point out something you see that doesn't look like what appeared in canon then I will simply ignore you. Hopefully, next chapter we shall get to meet the King of the Seven kingdoms, what an honor.