To say the days following Arya's arrival were tense and awkward would be an understatement. His cousin had changed, more than he had expected, especially if Bran's raven was accurate. She rarely spoke, she hid in the shadows, and she spent her time just observing, looking for something, looking as if she was trying to find the best way to end each and every one of them.
She was different, she was dangerous, and because of that, he made sure to keep her far away from Jae.
Even introducing Dany to her had been tense as every nerve of his body begged him to take his wife far away. But her, being the strong, brave dragon she is, did not cower to his cousin's scrutiny.
"Rickon is very fond of your Queen," her voice startles him as he looks up from the stack of papers on his desk.
"Aye, he is. He has good reason to. She raised him for nearly five years. She is the only mother figure he has truly known," he answers wearily as to where his cousin is going with her comments.
"The time I have spent with him he only speaks about his time with the Dragon Queen. That can be dangerous," she says beginning to pace the room. "She is young," she adds.
"Some say maybe too young to be unmarried and willing to raise a random son of a lord from across the sea," she keeps digging.
"She is a good person," he justifies.
"Perhaps, but everyone has a reason, a motive for doing something."
"Gods, you are sounding like Sansa," he mutters under his breath before addressing her, "I assure you Arya that not everyone is scheming and after us," he answers.
"And I assure you that they are."
"She is not! She cares for Rickon, she truly does and he cares for her,"
"That is not a good thing, Jon! Rickon does not remember us. He does not view us as his family…"
He stands up, slamming his hands onto his desk.
"And who's fault is that? Certainly not Daenerys's! Your father was the one who decided to head south with Robert Baratheon! Your mother was the one who decided to stay with Robb instead of returning to her two youngest children! They were left alone Arya, two young boys forced to be lords of a castle, forced to run for their lives because a person they once trusted betrayed them! You should be grateful that she kept Rickon safe after everything he went through!" he shouts, letting out a lot of frustrations and voicing thoughts he had only dared to share with Daenerys.
"But why? Why would she do that?" she questions
"She is a good person why can you not just accept that?!"
"Because it is obvious you and your Queen are hiding something!" she exclaims. "There is more to this Jon! There is something you are not telling me!"
"Of course there is!" he says. "There is so much I have yet to tell you because I do not trust you!"
"I am your sister!"
"But I do not know you!" he shouts seeming to freeze her. He takes a settling breath and softens his voice. "It has been years Arya. You've become a different person, been through things I cannot possibly imagine. As have I. I cannot trust others the way I once did, trusting others only led…"
There is a knock and a small boy that works in the castle enters the room.
"Your Grace, the Queen wishes to speak to you,"
Hearing those words…seeing the boy….the conversation with Arya…suddenly he cannot breathe and Dragonstone begins to fade away as he faintly hears his name being called out.
He is back in Castle Black. He had allowed the Wildlings to join him coming past the Wall The Lord Commander, Alliser Thorne, had not agreed. Many had voiced their hatred of his decision. He was helping Bran ready for bed. There is a knock on his door. A boy about Rickon's age. Ollie.
"Lord Snow. The Lord Commander wishes to speak to you," the boy had said.
Ghost growled, that should have been a red flag.
"Bran, Meera, I will be right back. Lock the door and do not let anyone else in," he had told them. "Ghost stay."
He followed the boy, not realizing that Blackfyre was not at his hip. Instead of going towards the office, he knew the commander rested, he was being led to the open courtyard.
"Ollie? Where are we going?"
The boy did not answer and a sign appeared before him.
A blade pierced him. Then another. Then another.
He lays in the snow, blood gushing out of him and all he can see is her face, her violet eyes, her silver hair.
"I'm sorry Dany. I'm sorry. I never should have left you or our babe. I'm sorry," he begs as he lays there dying in the snow.
He hears voices. People calling his name as a wolf's howl fills the air.
That last voice jars him as a little hand touches his face, one that he knows does not belong here. One that from the first moment he felt it, he had fallen in love with, had found comfort in it. His hand reaches up to land on top of the hand and as he leans into the warmth, Castle Black fades away.
Silver curls and grey orbs fill his eyesight and his boy looks at him with both love and concern. He holds him tight breathing in his scent, grounding him and reminding him that he is no longer at the horrible place.
"Kepa?" his son questions.
"I…I am alright, lad. Just needed you to remind me of that," he answers truthfully. He feels another familiar hand at the nape of his neck and its gentle caresses release the remaining tension and fear in his body.
After a moment more, he finally pulls away and looks at his surroundings. He is still in his study, along with his family, except for Arya who is staring at them from the corner, but that is something he will deal with later. He turns slightly to look at his beloved, reaching back with the arm not holding their son and interlacing their hands before placing a kiss upon hers.
"Forgive me. I did not intend to scare either of you," he apologizes, squeezing his wife's hand tighter.
"Do not apologize," she says, kissing the top of his head. "We all have our demons to wrestle with."
He nods, remembering the nightmares she suffered from.
"You… you sent for me?" he asks, trying to get away from what occurred to him.
"I did but that matters not if you are not well," she answers.
"I am…" he sighs, not able to lie to her. "I am better now. Truly. Having you both here settles me. But right now it is more important to deal with what you sent me for."
His wife sighs and he manages to hear "stubborn fool" under her breath before she proceeds to tell him what is happening.
"We received a raven. The Lannisters are on the move and heading to Highgarden now. We were going to meet with our advisors before I flew out to meet with the Dothraki to engage in battle," she begins to explain. He turns so quickly towards her that he almost drops Jae in the process.
"No! Not now…I can't I won't…" he tries to voice as his panic begins to rise.
"The Dothraki will only follow strength. I need to lead them into battle," she tries to explain to him, but he cannot risk her.
"Let me join you. I would feel much better if I am with you in the air," he says.
"What about Jae?" she asks and he looks once more at his son.
"Griff and Missandei could watch over him… and so could Arya," he says before looking at his cousin. She looks surprised and a bit overwhelmed.
"Me?" she asks.
"You want to earn my trust? This is how you do it. You keep my son safe. You keep Rickon safe. I am trusting you with what the Queen and I treasure the most. If you can do this, if you can keep them safe, if you can stop acting like the assassin you became and instead become the sister I once knew then when I return I will tell you everything you wish to know," he tells her. There is some hesitation, some confusion, and perhaps even some fear but after a moment of silence, Arya steps out of the shadows.
"I will guard them with my life, you and Queen Daenerys have my word," she vows, looking them both in the eye.
He stands up, handing Jae back to Dany, and extends a hand towards Arya. She takes hold of it giving it a firm squeeze and a shake as a knock is once again heard at his door.
"Your Graces," Missandei's voice is heard as the door opens. "The Lords and Ladies are gathered as requested."
He nods, letting go of Arya's hand going back to his family.
It is finally time to begin this war.