Kings Landing 283 AC.
The Hand of the King.
He looked down at the babe, her blue eyes and hair so fair it could barely be seen, she played with his fingers, trying to put them in her mouth and making him laugh. His daughter was a little over one name day old and already curious about everything, her eyes sparkling as she looked up at him, Jon Arryn couldn't help but smile. Elaena was everything he had always dreamed about, everything he had always hoped for, that it had come at the loss of her mother was not enough to make him feel any less happy she was here.
As for his wife, Lysa he knew didn't have any time for the babe at all, which was why he was glad Yohn had recommended the woman who sat opposite. Marla was as attentive to his daughter as he could have ever hoped anyone to be, she loved the girl, adored her, and Jon was glad for it. With no mother, with no love coming from his wife, Elaena would need someone in her life other than him who loved her unconditionally.
"She slept well Marla?" he asked.
"Very well my lord, she's a treasure." she said her smile being matched now by the treasure she looked at.
"That she is, I.." he was about to ask her if she needed anything when the guard knocked.
"My Lord, forgive me but the king wishes to speak to you."
"Tell him I'm busy." he said his annoyance at his foster son clear.
"My Lord, Lord Stark's ship is to dock, he has returned." the guard said and Jon nodded.
"I'll see you soon my little eyas." he said kissing his daughter's forehead.
He didn't have to tell Marla to look after her, nor to mention keeping his wife away, Lysa had made her feelings clear and he would leave her to her own devices, providing she did the same to his daughter. Walking from the Tower of the Hand he moved more quickly than he had for a week, he looked forward to seeing Ned again and hoped he had found his sister, this place needed some good news. He moved past the Lannister men, shuddering again upon seeing the cloaks, remembering what it was they had wrapped in them only weeks earlier.
"I See no Babes, only Dragonspawn."
Never would he have imagined it, never could he have fathomed the boy he'd raised to be so callous, to care so little as the bodies of babes were lain before him, thankfully his other foster son had stood tall and called it out for what it was, murder. Not that it had made any difference to Robert, nor Tywin and now the lion's surrounded the stag hungry to feast, and his fool of a foster son couldn't see it. Too enamored was he with the pretty blond hair and the thoughts of bedding Cersei Lannister, even while he claimed to be hoping for Lyanna's return.
"Jon, is it true, have they returned." Robert asked as he entered the Throne Room and for a brief moment, the boy he knew was back.
"Apparently so your grace." he said walking to stand to the king's side.
Around the room were far more Lannister's than Baratheon's and the old lion looked immediately to his daughter, the look of concern on his face enough to make Jon smirk. He hoped Lyanna would cast aside the doubts, that she would cast aside the fact that it wasn't Robert she loved, nor cared for, instead, he hoped Ned could get her to do what was best for the realm. Alas as Ned entered with one of his bannermen, a wet nurse carrying a babe, Ser Arthur Dayne without his white cloak, and no sign of Lyanna in sight, he knew all was lost.
"Ned, Ned, where is she?" Robert said not even seeing Ser Arthur or anyone else there, Jon had no doubt.
"I was too late Robert, she's gone, she passed." Ned said his grief clear, though it was Robert's howl and falling to his knees that would be spoken of later.
Jon though looked to Ser Arthur, to how close he stood to the babe, to how he seemed ready to protect it at a moment's notice, he looked to Ned, seeing that while he was concerned for his friend, he too seemed more worried for the babe.
"He took her from me, and you, you helped him." Robert said angrily and was it not for Ned standing in his way, Jon had no doubt he'd have attacked Ser Arthur.
"Ser Arthur was doing his duty, he was not at fault Robert, you killed the man who was." Ned said and Robert at least calmed on those words, but then he saw the babe.
"Who's babe is that?" Robert said angrily.
"Mine, he's my bastard, Jon." Ned said and Robert looked at him and laughed while he like most of the room gasped, Ned having a bastard, he couldn't believe it.
"Hah, I thought you didn't have it in you, bring the boy forward let me have a look at him."
The wet nurse moved forward and Jon looked on as Robert cooed over the babe, the image bringing up not feelings of warmth but of disgust in him, where was this concern over Rhaegar's children, where was this fondness for them?. He moved forward himself to look at the babe, waiting for Ned's permission to do so. Looking down to the boy's face, seeing his deep purple almost black eyes, seeing Ser Arthur there, he knew, he also knew the mummery they were about to perform.
"His mother Ned, who got you to share her sheets." Robert said laughing as the boy played with Jon's fingers, as he put them to his mouth just as Elaena did."
"My sister, your grace." Ser Arthur said and Robert glowered at the knight before looking back at the babe.
"Lya, Ned, where is she?" Robert then said sadly and Ned took him outside, the Lion's retreating back to their lair, their pride hurt no doubt.
Jon watched as Ser Arthur stood over the babe, as Wylla the wet nurse's name made clear to him by Ned telling her to look after the babe while he was gone. Jon, he had had named him Jon, for that he would be eternally grateful to his foster son. Standing there with the babe, with Ser Arthur, with Wylla, and seeing how cared for the babe was, made him long to go back and be with his daughter, but they had work to do and so he waited until the king returned.
Despite his protestations, he put Ned up in Tower of the Hand, he would speak to him later to find out his mind, to see what plans did he have for the boy, what future, as for Ser Arthur he would need to decide what to do about the knight. Arthur was not Barristan, while he had bent the knee Arthur would not, and should the man demand Trial by Combat they may need a new king, as Robert was the only man who could beat him and even that was doubtful.
"Is she asleep?" he asked Marla as he walked into the nursery
"She is my lord, Wylla asked if young Jon may rest here tonight, I told her that would be all right, was I wrong to do so?" Marla asked and Jon noticed then that not only was Wylla and Jon in the room, but Ser Arthur also
"No, that's fine Marla, Ser Arthur" he said nodding to the man
He tossed and turned for most of the night, Lysa was sleeping in her own chambers, not that he minded, they hadn't had time to get to know each other properly and the age difference gave them little to speak on. But she was pleasant and friendly enough, despite how she felt about Elaena and now also young Jon, the bastard being a stain on her sister apparently. Jon was glad enough when she retired for the evening, thinking he'd at least sleep well alone.
How wrong he was, the images came to him all through the night, the bodies covered in cloaks, the blood dripping on the floor, babes, they were only babes, and for brief moments they became different babes. Elaena instead of Rhaenys, Jon instead of Aegon, Tywin Lannister's smiling face, the Mountain's and Amory Lorch's, he himself on his knees holding the babes in his hands, while Robert laughed from the throne.
"Babes I see no babes, only Dragonspawn."
He raced to the privy emptying his stomach as soon as he got there, the retching and heaving leaving him breathless as he threw up again and again. Drinking some water he composed himself and dressed and soon found himself outside the nursery, he walked inside to find Ser Arthur awake and alert, sitting by the cribs and guarding them both, though he knew in truth it was only one.
"They are asleep?" he said looking down on Elaena.
"They are, both as quiet as each other." Arthur said a soft smile on his face as he looked at him.
"What are you plans Ser Arthur, should it be left to you what is it you hope for?."
"That I be given leave to protect Jon, to guard him, to guard my nephew." he said and the flicker when he said nephew was enough for him to be sure.
"I wish to speak to you and Ned on Jon's future, will you leave him here for now?"
"I'd prefer to take him with me Lord Hand." Arthur said leaving no doubt he was stating a fact and not making a request.
"So be it, an hour in Ned's room?" he asked and Arthur nodded.
Kings Landing 283 AC.
The sword of the Morning.
He knew, that much was clear, but it was what he intended to do with the knowing that gave him pause, his first instinct was to take the king and run, to head for the secret passages, to take his chances. But how far would he get? And if he was caught was Daeron not lost anyway, no he wouldn't run, he couldn't, the words he and Gerold had said during the fight at the tower were still as true.
"The Kingsguard does not flee."
"Then or now."
Running was out of the question, so that left but one choice, to ready himself to fight, so he walked to Ned Stark's rooms carrying the babe in his arms, his other hand close to his sword, the blade ready to be drawn at the slightest sign of trouble. He had given his oath he'd not draw his blade, and they had allowed him to keep it because of who he was and what it was, Robert actually liking him for it he knew. But he had sworn a larger oath, a more important oath, both to the babe in his arms and to the prince and princess who were his parents.
"He is all that's important Arthur, only him, you must protect him, promise me, both of you promise me, you will protect him." she said her voice weak and her breath shallow.
Knocking at Ned's door, he was surprised the man had slept at all, though he had barely done so since they left the tower, when he opened the door, when he saw him standing there with the babe, he saw him panic and shook his head, moving inside quickly.
"Arthur, what is it, what happened?"
"Jon Arryn knows." he said and saw the color leave Ned's face.
"He can't, how?"
"I told you it was too dangerous, I don't care what the crannogman said, we should never have brought him here." Arthur said and Ned nodded in agreement.
"We must leave, we must go North now, he'll be safe there."
"No, we wait, we need to see what it is Jon Arryn wants, you know the man, what do you think he'll do?"
"I don't know Arthur, he like me was disgusted by what happened in the Throne Room, his own girl is not much older than Jon, I can't see him allowing them to harm him, but I don't know for certain, not enough to risk his life."
They were still trying to figure out what to do when the knock came to the door, Ned went to it while Arthur moved back closer to the hidden passage he knew was in this room. Seeing Howland and Wylla walk into the room he breathed a sigh of relief, as did the wet nurse upon seeing him holding Jon.
"We have nothing to fear here Ned, I give you my word on that." Howland said and once again Arthur wondered why Ned put so much faith in the man.
"How can you be sure Howland? lives are at risk if you're wrong." he said and Howland looked at him.
"Lives have been changed because of what I know Ser Arthur, on this I'm willing to risk mine." Howland said.
"Yours means little to me, Howland, only Jon's matters." he said and both Howland and Ned nodded.
Once Wylla had checked that Jon was well, that he was clean and not hungry, they left him and Ned alone in the room, alone to wait, it didn't take long. A little over an hour later Jon Arryn arrived, alone, he sent the guards away from the door and asked Howland, who had it seemed just waited outside for his arrival, to stand watch and then he took a seat.
"He's their babe is he not?"
"He is." Ned said feeling no need to lie as it was even clearer the old falcon knew the truth now.
"A bastard or trueborn?" Jon Arryn asked.
"Trueborn, they married under the old gods and in the light of the seven." Arthur said before Ned could say anything different.
"What do you plan to do with him Ned?"
"I'll take him home Jon, I'll raise him as my bastard."
"The crown?". Jon Arryn asked.
Arthur felt his tension build, this was where he and Ned disagreed, Ned, thinking the crown to be Robert's now, he believing the man nothing more than a usurper. He knew should it be left to Ned then his king would never know the truth of things and so despite the man demanding him to swear an oath to him to do likewise, he had refused, only saying he would allow Jon to grow before he even considered telling him.
"Is Roberts." Ned said and Jon Arryn looked from Ned to him before nodding slightly.
"What happened in the Throne Room was an abomination. I never could have imagined such a thing, never could have thought that Robert was capable of such a thing, now despite my advice and not even a full day since learning of Lyanna's death, he's planning on wedding himself to the lions."
Arthur could have laughed if things weren't so precarious, Aerys was a madman, but the man knew to keep the lions from the Throne, sooner or later they'd feast on the stag's corpse, he just hoped he'd be alive to see it.
"Do you have proof of the boy's birthright?" he asked him and not Ned, surprising them both.
"I do. The marriage was witnessed, the High Septon gave his blessing himself, I have the letters." he said and Ned looked at him like he was mad.
"I do not know what this reign will bring Ned, I was against Robert when he made the claim, but he is my son just as you are and I cannot go against him, even though I feel it right. But there may come a time when we need a king with a better claim, should that time ever come I wish to be prepared."
Arthur looked at the man incredulously was he saying what he thought he was saying, Ned Stark was standing there with his mouth open, almost unable to move, such was the shock he was going through.
"Bring the boy home, raise him as your bastard. but raise him well Ned. as you would were he trueborn, for he is and one day the time may come when he is needed. When he is old enough he will ward with me, as your squire Ser Arthur, even if the time doesn't come I'll see he has a future, until then keep him safe."
He looked on as the man walked from the room, looked down at his king's face and could swear the boy was smiling, could swear he was grinning at him. Jon perhaps an honorable name after all, yes he could call him that, for now at least.
"Come on Jon, back to bed." he said his own smile matching his king's now.
Kings Landing 283 AC.
The Master of Whisperers.
How had things gone so wrong? How had it come to this? the greatest dynasty the realm had ever seen brought to its knees, all because of the madness of one man and the mistakes of another. He had tried to stop it, had tried to get Aerys to see the light, tried to get Rhaegar's location so he could understand what was going on, but it had been too late. By the time he knew what Rhaegar had truly done, the king, the prince, his children, and his wife were no more.
Viserys was not someone you could place the fate of a realm in, no matter that he was of the blood and so it seemed it was to be stags and lions who wrote the future and all he could do was hope the falcon could reign them both in. At least Jon Arryn was a good man, he and Eddard Stark the lone voices who spoke up when the bodies of the babes were presented, the lone voices of discontent at the monstrous thing done to them.
"Lord Varys, the king wishes to speak to you." the guard said and he walked to the king's rooms to learn his fate.
"Will I be losing a head today do you think?" he asked the Stormland knight who just walked silently with him.
In the end, he kept his head, just as he knew he would, spiders were needed and he was too valuable to die today, besides there was always tomorrow should they need to get rid of him. So after retaking the position officially, he once again sent his little birds out to find out what was needed to be known. When Eddard Stark returned he was saddened to see his sister had passed, but seeing him with a babe, seeing him with Ser Arthur, he couldn't believe it.
Eddard Stark having a bastard, seeing the king's surprise, the Hand's, no this was not something a rational man would believe, that they were claiming the babe to be Ser Arthur's nephew, to be his sister's also gave him pause. That Ashara was pregnant was true, though he knew the babe to be Brandon's, not Eddard's, and that it was stillborn. No there was mummery going on here, and he prayed for the first time in many years that the mummery was what he believed it to be.
"What are we to do with Dayne?" the King asked as he watched from the hole in the wall.
"He's too dangerous to be around you, your grace" Cersei Lannister said and looked to her father.
"We cannot try him, your grace, we need him to give an oath." Tywin Lannister said and the king nodded.
The lions were already beginning to feast on the stag it seemed, though it was just little bites for now. Everything he had heard about Robert seemed to be true, his mind being led by that other part of a man's anatomy and for perhaps one of the first times in years Varys was glad he didn't possess his own.
He had tried to speak to Ser Arthur but couldn't get close, had tried to get a look at the babe but couldn't get close, the two were almost joined at the hip, or perhaps more accurately if his suspicions were true, Arthur stood ready at the babe's shoulder. It was later that night when the little bird came to tell him of the Hand entering the nursery, and of Ser Arthur's rushing to Eddard's room directly afterward. So taking up position he watched from the secret passageway as Arthur and Eddard confirmed the news.
When the Hand came to speak to them, Varys was stunned by the offer, while Jon Arryn spoke in an abstract, he still was suggesting supporting the one true king at some point in the future. But it was upon hearing the babe was trueborn, that the Prince had married Lady Lyanna, that the High Septon himself had given his permission, that made him almost shout out in his joy. He would find the paperwork to prove it and when the time was right, the king would find even more support waiting for him.
"What do you think he's going to do Lord Varys?" the same Stormlands knight who had brought him to the king before asked as they met while walking to the Throne Room, not a player of the game this one, as one did not ask such questions.
"I do not know the King's mind on this." he said as noncommittal as possible.
In the end, he went with both Eddard's and Lord Jon's suggestion and Varys could only laugh later knowing that Robert had given the true king his first Kingsguard, and that it was the greatest of all of them would be a boon he'd come to regret. Sitting at his table he sipped his wine, the game he played now would be a long one, but his duty, his loyalty, his support, would as it always had been be to the family who should be on the throne.
"To the hidden dragon, the boy who will be king." he said quietly as he drank.
A/N: I intend to update this every two weeks, up next Jon at Winterfell, Elaena at Runestone and the Greyjoy's rebel.