The premise is that in early 298AC Varys and Petry discover "the truth" about Jon Snow and tip off Robert Baratheon. The Kings goes North ...

This is an alternative last chapter.

To understand the fic it is recommended to read the original:

Truth and Lies

It is in the GoT section, FFN does not allow me to post the URL.

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"It is my time to give judgment" Robert brought the loud Northern Lords to silence. "And that is why I have summoned all of you. I need a strong and loyal North with a Warden I can rely on and who will be respected by his bannermen."

"And why should we bow to the House that has lied to us all these years and took us to war under false pretences?" Lord Karstark stood up, as they had privately agreed beforehand.

"You won't" the King replied and silence fell upon the hall once again. "I hereby charge Eddard Stark with treason to the crown. He shall be executed tomorrow morning. So will his nephew, the bastard Dragonspawn. Both are guilty of treason and sedition to overthrow the King."

"Your Grace, we never intended to overthrow you. He was to remain hidden here" - Ned begged for his beloved /
"Until when? Until you decided it was time to put him on the Throne? With some fabricated lies of his legitimacy?" Robert spat. When Ned only managed to shake his head, Robert continued.

"The same applies to his sons, all of which shall be sent to the Night's Watch. Lady Catelyn Stark, who knowingly harboured an enemy of the crown, shall join the Faith. The Greyjoy hostage, Theon, will now pass into custody of my brother Stannis. Only Sansa will remain in Winterfell. A year and a day after her Red Flower blooms she shall wed Harrion Karstark who will assume the Stark name and rule in her stead. Until then the North shall be under a Regent appointed by me. I will also appoint a Warden of the North – who mgith be same person as the Regent, this is yet to be seen – and who will continue as Warden for as long as I command. Should the marriage be fruitless Winterfell and the North will pass to the children of Arya Stark whom I shall take as hostage. Her fate is for the Crown to decide - be it marriage or the Faith."

Robert finished his sentencing speech and sat down watching the reactions of the people in the hall. His former friend looked at him with a mixture of despair and dejection. Lady Catelyn was white as a sheet and unable to even blink. The older boys, Robb and Jon were in tears knowing that the latter had but hours to live. Arya Stark glared at him sending daggers from her eyes. Robert sensed she would be a force to be reckoned with if he wanted to tame her to be a quiet hostage. Sansa was in tears at the prospect of being separated from her family. She held on to young Rickon, who was too young to understand that his family had been all but wiped out.

But it was not the Stark family that concerned him. It was the other people in the Hall whose reaction he was most interested in. He could sense the anxiety in many of the Lords. Some were looking at their former Liege Lord and his family with pity. But most were actually shaking their heads in disbelief and disappointment. Karstark, as could be expected, was beaming.

"Is there anybody here who considers my judgment unfair?" he addressed the Lords. "Is anybody in this Hall willing to defend the Lord that lied to you and betrayed you?" he asked the guests. When no one came forward he continued. "I will soon name the regent and new Warden of the North, whom you will pledge allegiance to. And I'm sure I can trust you".

"Now, if you please. All rise. Hail Sansa, Lady of Winterfell" Robert said toasting his cup towards Sansa, her face puffed, red and blotched, wailing as she gripped her mother and whatever sibling she could get a grip upon.

"Here, here" could be heard from the Lords, expressed with various degrees of enthusiasm.

Quite a few of the Lords were already eying Rickard Karstark, their minds busily reviewing the list of their House's nubile females, eager to make a match with his unbetrothed sons. Those bereft of suitable female relations wondered if Rickard had any available nieces. Others simply remained quiet. Some looked at Ned with pity. Many looked upon the Quiet Wolf with anger or disgust for his needless endangering of the North, of making it a target for Royal retribution. But whatever their feelings, none of them stood up in defence of Eddard Stark and his family. There was no jeering of the Starks, such an expression of loyalty shocking the Southrons from the King's entourage present in the Hall.

Robert had been honest in saying that he needed a strong and loyal North, not a divided one. He would need to find a suitable new Warden. But which House? He did not want for this to turn into a civil war in the North. He had thought long and hard about this. Houses like Karstark, Umber, Mormont and Cerwin were known to be staunch supporters of House Stark and might be tempted to restore the Starks to power. Hence he had defanged the Karstarks, making them the lynchpin of the new regime. Still, taking a hostage or two from that House might be a good idea.

House Bolton did not enjoy a good reputation in the North, so it would be dangerous to choose him. Manderly had roots in the South and held to the Faith of the Seven; many Northern Houses might refuse to bow to them. The Ryswells and Dustins had not been in good terms with the Starks since the Rebellion, with first Brandon marrying Catelyn instead of Barbrey Ryswell and then Eddard leaving Lord Dustin's body behind in Dorne. Naming a House which was so openly against the Starks might be too much of a risk for now.

House Glover was a viable option since they enjoyed good reputation in the North. Their castle was further away from the capital and the roads, making it more difficult to reach. But this was something that could be easily fixed. Plus it was closer to the coast, making it very convenient to be reached by sea. However the Glovers were but a Masterly House - they would be Landed Knights in the South. Remembering Ned's lessons on Northern Customs made his fury rise again ... an emotion he squashed and focused on politics again. Or maybe he could appoint a Regent and Warden from the South. But he wouldn't make the announcement now. It would only lead to needless complications.

"A New Warden will be announced soon. This meeting is considered finished. You are all welcome to go back to your homes or stay until the execution of Lord Stark and the respective punishments are fulfilled."

Robert motioned for his guards to take the Stark family back into custody. Ned was taken back to his cell, while the rest were locked up in their respective rooms. The rest of the guests tarried and lingered in the Hall. They were talking and arguing amongst themselves. Most of them could not believe their Liege Lord had betrayed them like that. It was not until Eddard admitted everything himself that they believed the charges. Very few defended his actions, but others did not shy away from expressing their disappointment and anger at what they had just learned.

"They have been lying to us for years!"

"How could they?"

"To think that I lost my father in that Rebellion!"

"I lost my heir and my brother!"

"Do you think he intended to claim the throne for his nephew?"

"Difficult to say. Had you asked me yesterday I would have said no. You ask me now, and I don't know. This is not the Lord Stark I knew."

"I refuse to believe he really committed treason"

"You heard him! He kept Rhaegar's son hidden! He admitted it himself!"

"He saved his nephew's life, that's all he did. We would have all done that."

"Aye, saving a child's life is honourable. But lying to your bannermen is not!"

"He obviously knew where Lyanna was and obviously knew she had had the baby. Why didn't he come forward? Why continue with the war and drag us along?"

"He risked our lives and fortunes for a Bastard?!"

"We don't really know how much he knew at the time …"

Arguments and conversations continued well into the night. Nobody left Winterfell and everybody was present in the yard the following morning as Eddard Stark and Jon Snow were brought forward. Eddard looked dishevelled and torn, but most of all, he look defeated. Jon evidently had been crying. Robert found his resemblance to Ned and Lyanna to be painful to look at. He felt his fury rise again ...

The remaining Starks were brought forward as well and made to watch.

As King Robert read the charges again and asked his executioner for Eddard's head, his former bannermen grimly looked on, some mouthing silent words – a mix of prayers or curses - for their former Lord. When the sword came down, only a silent whoosh sound was heard followed by a thud when the head fell to the ground. Such was the silence that when Catelyn screamed and fainted, everyone heard and turned to see. The Castellan of Winterfell, Ser Roddrick Cassel was quick to catch the attractive widow before she fell into the mud. The violent death of their father and the collapse of their mother prompted the younger Stark children to lose their composure. Young Rickon felt very confused and would not let go of his sister Sansa's hand. Arya started to yell all sorts of curses to the King and had to be held back by Robb and Theon. Jon's head joining Eddard's in a pool of blood passed unnoticed.

It was, all in all, a sorry sight to watch the family fall apart. As King, Robert had witnessed many executions, but never had he seen such respect and honour for the accused as he saw today. In spite of their recent discovery of House Stark's treason, nobody in the yard revelled in the scene before them. And Robert was no exception. As soon as the execution was carried out and the body removed, he fled to his chambers to hide away his own tears. He had just executed his best friend ...

Later that day, a small host of Baratheon guards left with the Stark boys to escort them to Castle Black, where they were to swear their vows and become Brothers of the Night Watch.

A wheelhouse was prepared to take Arya and Theon Greyjoy to Cerwyn Castle, where they were to take a barge and sail the White Knife down to White Harbour, whence by ship, to Dragonstone. This would also be the last time Catelyn would see any of her of children, as she was to take a separate ship to Springfield, a hamlet not far from Storms End, and renowned for its large Motherhouse. Sansa – not a pretty sight at this point, as she was not one of those lucky who looked pretty when crying – had to be torn away from her mother and sister, the trio immersed in a group hug and cry.

Meanwhile the King addressed those who had their wits about them.
"Lord Rickard, you are left temporarily in charge of Winterfell and the North until proper substitutes are sent from the capital." He had wanted to say something to Sansa but decided not to waste his breath at the wailing airhead.

"Once she calms down pass on to Lady Sansa that no harm will come to her mother and sister as long as she is no party to plots against the Crown."

Robert then addressed the Northern Lords who still remained at the gates.
"A new Warden of the North will be announced soon" he said. He mounted on his horse and gave the order for the royal retinue to ride./

Two unlikely companions shared a quiet moment in an alcove at the Red Keep, sharing snippets of news and rumours they had gathered.
"The King is back."
"I have heard"
"And the Starks are gone."
"I have heard"
"But no war."
"It was not necessary. But the seed has been planted, nonetheless."
"The King has yet to announce a new Warden of the North."
"Yes, and my sources tell me many in the North will not be happy with the choice."
"Many in the North are already displeased with how things turned out. The King does not have the support he thinks he has."
"I have heard of a House that wishes to annul Robert's sentence, free the Stark boys from the vows of the Night Watch and restore the Starks to power."
"Sadly for you, the distraught widow in the North has become unavailable."
"Technicalities. She can always be pardoned and relieved of her pious vows. She can still become a distraught widow in need of a husband"
"Yes. I have heard of a few who want to repeal the King's sentence and take the other Stark children and the mother home. "
"As I said, the seed has been planted. Anyhow, we have both been heavily rewarded by the King for our services. Only more could come now."
"Hmm?"
" I have been assigned as Regent for Lady Sansa until she weds the Karstark. The King will want a loyal servant as new warden of the North. And who's more loyal than yours truly?" Petyr Baelish finished with a knowing smirk. He had been given one of the biggest castles in the North with very good prospects of becoming Warden of the North if he played his cards well in the inevitable upcoming war.

Varys was better at controlling his features than the Whoremonger. The Spider hid the ecstasy he felt over the rapidly coming upheaval that would leave countless thousands dead and Westeros ripe to accept the King his patron, Illyrio, had been grooming for a score years already.

THE END