Runestone 295 AC.
It took him a few days to gather the courage to speak to his friends, Jon spending his time with Elaena and Sansa and readying for his sister's soon to be departure. Jon Connington and others had already departed and though he'd spoken to the man more than once, he'd felt it had not been anywhere near enough. While Arthur was his closest friend, Jon Connington gave him a different perspective on his father and his actions. That he'd been able to engender such loyalty among those who knew him best, only made Jon feel even more sure that the realm had lost a good man as well as someone who would have been a good king when his father had been killed.
That it also made him keener to speak to those closest to him was perhaps a reaction to his realizing of that as well. He too had friends that he was more than happy to name so, Waymar, Mychel, and Dom, were as close to him as brothers and he knew that each of them would risk their lives for his own, as would he in return. Would they risk their heads to see him crowned? He believed so and believed it enough that he had no doubt that whatever he told them would remain between them at least. Yet it also worried him that perhaps they may not accept his truth or what it would mean for the future.
"You're doing it again?" Elaena said as she moved her hands through his hair.
"Apparently it's something I got from my father." he said with a chuckle.
"It must be, for no one could have learned to brood so well any other way." she said and Jon turned his head to kiss her softly.
They were laying in her bed, the darkness of the room illuminated only by the fire that was soon to go out. Elaena was wearing her bedclothes while Jon was fully dressed, his newly betrothed laying under the covers while he lay on top of them. Both of them were laying face to face and he closed his eyes when she moved her hand through his hair once more. Jon smiling when he felt her soft kiss and then he opened his eyes to see her own bright blue ones staring right back at him.
"They'll accept it, Jon, they are your brothers in all but name." she said looking at him.
"You think I'm doing the right thing?"
"I do, we've spoken of it and the more I think on it the more I know it to be the true. Were it me, were I to find out on my own and not by your lips." Elaena said her fingers reaching out to touch his mouth "Were I to find out and then know that so many others knew before me, I…"
"That's why I told you, I needed to tell you, you of all people." he said and saw her smile.
"Speak to them, Jon, tomorrow."
"Tomorrow." he said nodding.
He kissed her deeply and then bid her goodnight, Elaena falling asleep before he even reached the door. That he knew her so well was something that he was most grateful for. Being able to sense her moods and to know what she wished from him had been something that just came to him and something that he couldn't explain. It was something that he'd noticed over time and he wondered if she felt the same thing too. Jon finding himself hoping that she did as he made his way back to his room.
Waking early the next morning, he dressed quickly and made his way to his morning spar, Arthur already up and waiting for him when he got there. He'd been surprised that both he and Sandor had agreed with him when he suggested that he speak to his friends, both men saying that it was time for him to do so. When he'd pressed them he'd been told that over the next few years moves would need to be made and some would perhaps look strange to those around him. It was far better they knew in advance of them than for them to ask questions of it later, Arthur had said.
"You're late." Arthur said looking at him when he grabbed his sword.
"Or you're just early as usual." he said back with a smirk.
The spar was as theirs usually were, punishing, and once again he found himself on the ground more than once. Arthur had told him that they'd gone as far as they could in their normal lessons and that it was now time they took it as far as it could be without it being for true. It was a humbling experience and one he was thankful was private, his spars when people were watching were always a little less intense than those when they were not. When he was finished he made his way to break his fast, Jon saw that Sansa was sitting with Elaena and Ysilla and he moved to join them.
His sister would be leaving soon and he found that he wished she could stay for longer. Elaena had already told him of Harry the Arse's interest and though his first instinct had been to confront him and to knock his dick in the dirt, he'd listened to her and had not gotten involved. Instead, she had taken Sansa under her wing, and together with Ysilla and Mya they'd begun to educate his little sister in the ways of the world. Jon soon found himself liking spending time with Sansa even more because of this. The reality of knights and lords was something that he'd not wished to inform her of and yet something that she needed to know.
Sansa believed in the stories, the books, and the great songs that spoke of noble knights and fair princes and princess and the world was truly nothing like that. He had worried though that it would shatter her view of that world and that Sansa would refuse to accept it but instead it had created a question asking monster, he thought with a smirk. Something that was caught by that question asking monster right away.
"And what amuses my brother so?" Sansa asked looking at him.
"Who says I'm amused?" he said back to her his smirk far more pronounced now.
"That says your amused, oh brother mine." she said reaching out to place her fingers on his uncurled lips.
"I was just thinking of my sweet little sister of course and of the many questions she asks." he said rolling his eyes to chuckles around the table, Dom and Mychel having joined them and Jon seeing Waymar now walking into the hall.
"Only a fool doesn't ask questions, brother." Sansa said her eyes alight as she began to smirk too.
"Speaking of which, Waymar come I kept you a seat." he said moving the chair while all those around him burst into laughs, Sansa making a delightful little snort which she only did when she laughed truly.
"You are all idiots." Waymar said as he sat down.
"Then it seems you're at the right table, brother." Ysilla said starting the laughter again.
They ate and japed at each other's expense, Jon finding himself the target of some of the jests as both Sansa and Elaena teamed up against him. Eventually, their fun had to come to an end, Sansa and the girls were heading off to their lessons and while normally so would he, Waymar and Mychel be heading to their own, today it was to be different. Jon nodded to Lord Yohn and then asked his friends to join him, the four of them walking from the hall and down towards the small Sept. When Arthur and Sandor took up guard, Jon asked his friends to join him inside, closing his eyes and making sure they were alone before he readied to speak to them about his truth.
"There is something I need to tell you all, something I've been keeping from you." he said as Dom looked at him curiously while Mychel and Waymar looked a little more annoyed at him.
"Is this about your and Elaena?" Waymar asked and Jon shook his head.
"No, this is all about me, for now at least." he said.
"What is it Jon?" Dom asked direct and to the point and Jon smiled at that, far better to just come out with it after all.
"All of you know me as Ned Stark's son, his bastard son." he said holding up his hand when Waymar went to disagree.
His friend had never truly thought of him that way and had always refused to allow him to think that of himself. Truth be told it had been a long time since he'd actually thought of himself as a bastard and that was even before he found out the truth of who he was.
"Ned Stark is not my father, he's my uncle. My father was Rhaegar Targaryen and my mother was his wife, Lyanna Targaryen." he said looking to each of them.
"Jon?" Mychel said.
"Daeron." he said looking to each of them "My mother named me Daeron."
"You're the rightful heir to the throne, the rightful king." Waymar said excitedly.
"Which means nothing, Waymar. My rights died at the Trident the day Robert Baratheon killed my father and after that Tywin Lannister had my brother and sister murdered and their mother raped and defiled before they took her own life. My blood may make me an heir in some eyes but it makes me a target in others and putting forward my claim will lead to war." he said and saw Dom stare at him.
"Yet you're putting it forward all the same?" Dom asked.
"Forget how bad a king that Robert is, or that it's the Lannisters who truly control the crown. Forget even that the realm would suffer under Joffrey. Were it just for vengeance or justice alone then I'd put myself forward, as I believe would any of you if it had been you're family that had been killed and deposed. Secrets have a way of always being found out, they never lay undiscovered for long and this secret won't just cost me my head, it'll cost the heads of my uncle and many others too. I tell you this not for sympathy or to bring you to my side, I tell you it because it's the truth and brothers should always speak the truth to each other even if it's an uncomfortable one."
He looked to see Dom nod and Mychel and Waymar looking at each other and then turning to face him, Jon taking a breath before he continued.
"I intend to take the throne and though I'd wish you all with me, I'll not hold it against any of you should you decide it's not something you can support. You are my brothers and you deserve the truth, what you do with it, is up to you." he said looking to the three boys.
"You are my brother, Jon, Daeron, whatever your name is." Waymar said to some chuckles, more ones of a release of tension than amusement Jon felt.
"Mine too." Mychel said.
"It seems the Brotherhood of the Winged Knights has found itself a true purpose, brother." Dom said looking at him.
"We stand ready, my king." Waymar said and Jon looked to see Dom and Mychel nod as he smiled and nodded at them both.
Runestone 295 AC.
As she was packing her things and making ready to leave, Sansa found herself both eager to return home and see her family again and wishing she could stay longer. She'd enjoyed her time in the Vale and had seen and taken part in things that she'd only dreamed about before then. Tourney's, dances, a ball, she'd seen a joust and been crowned as the Queen of Love and Beauty. She'd listened as both her brother and Domeric had regaled them in song. Sansa finding Domeric Bolton to be someone that she'd never have expected though in truth her expectations were based solely on his name.
In the North the Bolton's were feared, tales of them were ones that always made her shiver and on the few occasions that she'd seen Lord Roose, she'd found them most believable. When she had heard that his son was one of her brother's friends she'd worried terribly about Jon and hoped it to be untrue. Yet Domeric was a Bolton only in name and instead of a monster she'd found a true knight. Domeric was a man who liked poetry and music and who seemed genuinely interested when she spoke of the things that she liked too. She'd quickly developed a crush on him just as Jeyne had on Waymar and only him being so much older than she had made her look more Harrold's way. Sansa felt sure that no way would an older boy be interested in a girl such as her.
When Harrold had approached her, she'd been flattered, and had Elaena not intervened then Sansa was sure that she'd have done all she could just to spend more time with him. As it was though she instead spent her time with Elaena, Mya, and Ysilla and during that time both girls spoke to her about how the world truly was. Sansa listened at first in shock at hearing such things and then more eagerly as the differences began to be pointed out to her.
"Sandor, Sansa, he refuses to be knighted, do you know why?" Elaena asked.
"Because he's not worthy?" she responded, naively she found out.
"You know who his brother was" Elaena asked.
"The Mountain the Rides." Sansa said her voice barely a whisper, the man may be long dead but even she'd heard grown men who were afraid to speak his name.
"Sandor believes that any order that would name his brother good and true is not one he should be a part of. But ask Jon, or Domeric, ask Waymar and Mychel. My father and Ser Arthur would tell you just as they each would, Sansa, that Sandor is a man good and true."
While she hadn't taken Elaena's advice and asked anyone about him, she had watched Sandor more closely and she saw how Jon interacted with him. Seeing him with her brother made her certain that what Elaena had said was true and what she and Ysilla then told her made her watch other things around her ever more closely.
"Jon, Dom, Waymar, and Mychel, watch how they treat those around them. At the feasts and balls watch how they speak to people, then look at Harrold and you'll see." Ysilla said.
"See what?" she asked.
"The difference between them and him, the difference between men." Ysilla said.
So she'd done as she was bid and though it took her time to see it, see it she did. Firstly with the servants, Harrold demanded while the others asked, and as rude as he was with the men who served it was much worse with the women. Sansa noticing how his hands and eyes would linger when a pretty maid brought him food or drink, or how at times he'd leer at her, and then she began to notice how he did it to other girls too. She'd seen it with Mychel and with Jon and sometimes she thought she saw it with Waymar and Dom too. How they'd look when they were speaking to Mya or Elaena, to Jeyne, and even to her. It was different though and because she knew that Mya and Mychel were together and that Jon and Elaena had feelings for each other, because of that it was easier for her to recognize the signs.
In the end, it was the dancing that truly brought it home to her though. She'd danced with Jon and Waymar and with Mychel before Harrold came her way. Sansa smiled politely and he led her to the floor, Harrold putting his arms around her when the music began. He danced much too close to her, held her too tightly and he barely spoke and Sansa began to feel uncomfortable almost immediately. They'd danced once before at the feast at the end of the tourney and there he'd been charming and attentive. Sansa had even wondered if perhaps Elaena was wrong about him until she'd seen him dance with Elaena herself and noticed how his expression had changed before the dance was done.
When Domeric came and asked her to dance with him as soon as her dance with Harrold had finished she'd welcomed his intervention. That Harrold had not was very clear in his expression and though he never said anything, she'd found he'd not needed to for her to know what he was thinking. Her dance with Domeric soon showed the differences as clearly as if they had been spelled out to her. She'd then wondered about that afterward, about whether she'd have realized it herself if Elaena hadn't spoken to her about it or whether it was Elaena raising it with her that made it all so clear. Either way, she had found herself eager to put her newfound observations to the test, only for her time in the Vale to far too quickly come to an end.
After she had packed, she said her goodbyes to Lord Yohn and Lady Yara, to Ysilla and Waymar, Mychel and Mya, and finally to Elaena and Dom. Sansa hugging the older girl tightly and smiling when Domeric told her how much he'd enjoyed meeting and spending time with her. That Jon rode with her in the carriage to Gulltown was something she was very grateful for. Jeyne though sat sullenly and quiet, her friend was not eager at all to return home and Sansa was sure it was because of Waymar that she felt that way.
Jon was cheerful and yet she knew he was doing so only for her and by the time they actually reached Gulltown a lot of that good cheer was gone. After placing her trunk on the ship he waited with her until it was ready to leave, the time soon coming for them to say their own goodbyes. Sansa had no wish to do so and felt her tears threaten to fall when Jon spoke to her.
"I'll miss you Sansa." Jon said hugging her tight.
"I'll miss you too, Jon." she said trying her best to be brave and strong.
"I must try and visit then, perhaps Ser Domeric and I can arrange a visit sometime in the future." Jon said smiling at her.
"For true?" she asked happily.
"I'm sure we can see it done, maybe the entire brotherhood could visit. What say you Lady Jeyne, should I ask my winged brothers to come North?" he asked looking to Jeyne who smiled as she nodded eagerly.
She looked to her brother and saw him reach into his pocket and take out a box, Sansa looking at it eagerly.
"Your nameday is in a little over a moon and so I wished you to have this, you can open it now if you wish." Jon said and she nodded as he opened the box and saw the chain and locket inside.
"Oh Jon, it's so pretty, thank you." she said hugging him before he placed the chain around her neck.
The locket was an engraved wolf and Sansa loved it almost immediately, immediately swearing that she'd never take it off and later as she stood on the deck and was waved off by him she held it between her fingers. That it was for her nameday and also a present from her brother made it special to her but there was more than that she felt. It was a memory of her time in the Vale, a physical reminder that would be something she could look at and almost be back there she felt. Jon, Elaena, Ysilla, Waymar, Mychel, Mya, and Domeric, all of them were somehow represented by this chain. As for the wolf on the locket itself, never before had she felt herself to be one until now.
King's Landing/The Vale 295 AC.
His first instinct had been to take a ship and sail to the Vale and speak to the boy himself, to ask him what he was thinking, to find out if was he even thinking. That Robert had gone to Lannisport made that impossible and meant he had a long wait before he'd get the chance to got to the Vale. That in truth gave him time to think and turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it made him realize certain things and to find more favor than fault in the turn of events.
That Elaena cared for Ser Jon was clear to any who saw them and he'd even encouraged them to spend time together, more so once he'd knighted the boy. Even were he not as much Stark as he was a Targaryen, simply spending time with the lad had shown his character and that he was someone that he'd be proud to name a goodson. So much so that were he not Daeron Targaryen and had they had no plans to name him to the throne. If he had been in truth Ned Stark's baseborn son, then Jon felt that he'd still welcome him as such. His only reason for pause was actually the fact of who he was and not who he was perceived to be.
With who he was and what they aimed to do because of that, other factors played their part and the simple truth was that with marriage to Margaery Tyrell the crown was assured. The Vale, the North, the Riverlands, and the Reach, loyalists houses and with Dorne either sitting it out or maybe even coming to their side and the war was won before it began. The North, the Riverlands, and the Vale against the Stormlands and the West with the Reach up for grabs was a much more difficult proposition. Politically it would be best for the realm and for themselves to have Daeron marry Margaery Tyrell, of that there was no doubt. Politics however were not the only factors and his daughter's happiness for him at least, trumped even that.
So after much soul searching Jon resolved to speak to Varys some more and to see what routes were now open to them if he gave Elaena and Daeron his blessing. The day before Robert arrived back he made his way down deep below the Red Keep, Ser Barristan by his side as he waited for the spider to arrive. He'd thought about having Ser Jaime with him also but had thought the better of it. Instead, should Robert allow for it he'd bring the knight with him when he headed back to the Vale, it was about time the man met his future king after all.
"Lord Hand." he heard the spider say as he walked his way.
"Lord Varys, you know why I've asked to meet?" he asked and the man nodded.
"I assume you've decided on the marriage?" Varys asked and Jon was glad the man was on their side, gods only knew what would happen to them all if he was working against them.
"I can't deny that a marriage to House Tyrell would be most beneficial and that perhaps if it was not mine own daughter then I'd think more on a way to see it so."
"But your daughter's happiness is more important to you than an alliance, my lord." Varys said and Jon chuckled, having pretty much decided that himself.
"As is the king's, Lord Varys. If they are happy together, if it's what they truly wish for then the realm will be better served by making it so than by working to see them parted, would it not?"
"It would, Lord Hand." Varys said with a titter, something that didn't annoy him as much as it once had.
"Which leaves us where?" he asked.
"The West can call upon 50,000 men with another 30,000 or so from the Stormlands, The Vale and the North, around 45.000 each and the Riverlands close to the same." Varys said.
"Numbers based on every fighting man, Varys, and those numbers will never be true. The North will be lucky to raise 20,000 and the Vale, 30,000. Tywin though will raise the entire West and Robert will do the same in the Stormlands. While we may take more of the Riverland's than he, we'll still be at a disadvantage in numbers." Jon Arryn said.
"With the Lords of the Narrow Sea and the men of the Company of the Snake not so much, Lord Hand." Varys said.
"How many men are there in the Company?" Barristan asked.
"4,000 at present and ever-growing, it'll be close to 10,000 before we make a move." Varys said.
Jon did the sums in his head, they could perhaps manage to bring the same numbers as Robert and Tywin could to bear, but the Reach would be the wild card and he didn't know how to manage to bring them to their side without the marriage.
"The Reach is key." he said after a few moments.
"The Reach is loyal to the dragons, my lord." Barristan said.
"It is but is Mace Tyrell?" he asked.
That they couldn't reach a consensus on what to do was no great surprise, but they all seemed to agree that if the wedding was what his daughter and the king wished for, then it was best that was what was to occur. Jon leaving to make ready for the king's return and for his own departure soon after. When Robert arrived back he was in a good mood it seemed and even Jon telling him that he needed to leave quite soon didn't seem to disturb him any. Jon found out that the Old Lion had been most wrought about his son and that in turn had cheered Robert up greatly. He'd even agreed to let Jaime Lannister join him on his trip, something that pleased both him and Jaime greatly.
They left the next day, both he and Jaime spending time speaking on things that he'd not have ever spoken with the knight about before as they sailed. Jon learned more and more about his relationship with his father and Jaime was eager to give him insight into the way the man's mind truly worked. It would serve them well when they finally came up against the Old Lion and come up against him they would. His nights though were filled with thoughts of his daughter, Jon wishing that her mother lived still to see how much she'd grown and to see her happy and wed. Jeyne would have liked the boy he felt, she'd have taken the measure of him quickly, and were she here she'd tell him he was doing what was right and good.
It was to thoughts like this that each night he slept and that when he finally saw Gulltown in the distance it was because of thoughts like this that he found his resolve strengthened.
"Is it far to Runestone my lord?" Jaime asked as they sailed into the harbor.
"We won't need to wait until Runestone, Ser Jaime." he said pointing to the docks.
Arthur, Sandor, and Ser Jon himself awaited as did Mychel Redfort, young Waymar Royce, and the Bolton lad. Jon smiled to see them and looking at Jaime who seemed a little nervous, though whether it was the king or the Sword of the Morning that made him so he wasn't certain. They disembarked and he was warmly welcomed by them all, Ser Jon looking his way and he noticed how nervous the boy was then. Jon smirked as he wondered would he have the nerve to ask him for his daughter's hand. He didn't do so on the ride and Arthur and Jaime stared at each other for most of the way. The only time that Jaime wasn't looking at Arthur was when his eyes were drawn to the king.
As they rode he noticed how the other boys now rode even closer to Ser Jon, almost as if they were an honor guard of sorts and he wondered if he had told them the truth. If he had then it appeared they'd taken the news well and so it caused him less worry than something like that normally would. By the time they arrived at Runestone he was more than eager to see Elaena and he smiled broadly while he saw her saw standing there. Jon quickly noticing how nervous his daughter looked and seeing her look to Ser Jon more than once.
"Father, it's so good to see you." Elaena said hugging him tightly.
"You too my little Eyas, you too."
"I had not expected you to come back so soon though?" she asked when she let him go and he smiled as he looked at her, certain now that she knew why he'd returned.
"I have much on mind, Elaena, much on my mind." he said and he saw her look over to Ser Jon once more.
He was greeted then by Lord Yohn and Lady Yara and was escorted to his room. Almost as soon as he was inside the knock came on the door, Jon opening it to find them both standing there and he bid them enter.
"Lord Arryn." Ser Jon said stiffly, his nervousness shining through.
"Ser Jon, what brings you to my room this fair morn?" he said while trying his best not to smirk.
"I believe you know exactly why I'm here Lord Arryn, I take it that Lord Varys's little birds have already sang you a song?"
"You take it right Ser Jon, a most strange song indeed." he said with a chuckle as Ser Jon nodded and looked to Elaena before reaching out to take her hand in his own.
"I love your daughter, my lord, and it's not some crush or passing fancy. I love her and wish for her to be my wife and queen. I know there are more beneficial political matches and that perhaps this is not the path that you wished for me or for Elaena. I also know that for me there can be no other match than with her and none that I could accept. If it comes to a choice my lord between the crown or the woman I love, then in this you'll find I am my father's son. I beg that it does not and that you accept my words as true, Lord Arryn. I formally ask for your daughter's hand." Ser Jon said still stiffly and yet the words rang true.
Jon looked to Elaena and saw her both smiling at the words she'd just heard and then look to him hopefully, his daughter soon biting her lip as he delayed giving his response.
"It's true, Ser Jon, this is not the match I sought for you nor for my daughter. It's not why I wished you fostered here not why I knighted you and yet it is what it is." he said looking to Elaena and smiling "Is this what you wish my little Eyas?" he asked softly.
"With all my heart, father." she said determinedly.
"Then as your father all I can do is wish you both well and to give you my blessing." he said as he was hugged by his daughter and as Ser Jon finally relaxed.
That they wished it done soon was something he refused, telling them both that it needed to wait until Elaena reached her majority and then telling them they were lucky he wasn't making them wait until Ser Jon reached his.
"Do we need to wait to tell people, father?" Elaena asked hopefully.
"You wish to let it be known to one and all?" he asked looking to Ser Jon.
"I'd wish we didn't need to hide it, my lord, you have my word that I'll behave honourably but I'd like not to have to hide how I feel." Ser Jon said.
"Very well, I'll send the ravens and you may wish to send your own one to your family, Ser Jon, I'll see to the rest." he said and Ser Jon nodded before looking to Elaena and smiling as he then rushed from the room.
He waited until he was gone and then he moved closer to his daughter, Jon looking her in the eye and asking her once more if this was what she wished for.
"I do father, this is nothing to do with Jon being king, but everything with him being Jon. I love him, father, truly." she said .
"Then my heart is filled with joy, my little Eyas, truly it is." he said smiling broadly as she did the same
He announced it at dinner that night, Lord Yohn and Lady Yara both seemed to be overjoyed by the news as did those who were sitting with Elaena and Ser Jon at their table. Jon though knew there would those in the realm who thought very differently about such things and that questions would be asked as to why he was marrying his daughter to a bastard knight. Let them ask them he thought to himself as he looked at the smile on Elaena's face, let them ask them because soon enough the realm would know the truth and one day a grandchild of his would sit the throne.
Casterly Rock 295 AC.
Having the fat fool at Casterly Rock was not something he enjoyed, nor was watching the man shame his daughter in his own home. It was something that would have cost any other man his life and that he had to put up with it and accept it without saying a word went against all that he stood for and yet he did. He sat silently as the man who wore the crown groped servants and bedded at least one of them while he stayed under his roof. Tywin sat and smiled and played nice when all he truly wished to do was take his knife and jab it deep in the fat stag's throat.
Now was not the time, but soon that time would come and when it did then they'd hear the lion roar, and the sheep would scatter in fear and worry. Until then he bit his tongue and watched the fat man drink his wine and eat his food while he shamed his daughter. That his daughter was nothing to be proud of was something that irked him just as much if he was being honest. Tywin believed the true curse of the gods was to give him children and grandchildren that no man should suffer. None of them were truly worth the legacy he would leave them, though Myrcella did at least have her grandmother's nature if not her resolve.
He was glad to see the back of them and knew that he'd not been a gracious host, not that he cared about how Robert would speak of him on his return to King's Landing. The fat man had drunk his wine enough and been treated as a far better king than he truly was, not that he was grateful for it. Gratitude, it was the least he should expect given it was his coin that kept the crown afloat. He didn't get it though, not from the King, nor the Hand or from his own damn children either. Tyrion whored and drank as much as the king himself, his son finding a kindred spirit in a man who cared only for the wine in his belly or the whore on the end of his cock. Cersei, moaned about every little perceived slight, from her husband to her rooms, to the food and wine she consumed and even her children but mainly she moaned about the one thing that concerned him the most, Jaime.
On that, he at least agreed with her as Jaime was the biggest disappointment of them all. His son and heir who on the surface was all a father could ever wish for and yet was anything but. A man who cared more about being a glorified bodyguard than being the lord of the most powerful and prosperous kingdom in all the realm. A gilded rather than golden lion, that was what Jaime truly was and it had taken him far too long to see it. Now that he had it left him in a quandary though and he'd been annoyed even more when the king had refused him leave to take Tommen to foster. His plan to mold his grandson into his heir was both a last chance for his house to thrive and a way to keep Casterly Rock out of Tyrion's hands.
"A raven my lord." the servant said interrupting his thoughts, Tywin glowering at the boy before taking the scroll from him.
That it bore the seal of House Arryn was a surprise and he began to feel a small sense of excitement rise up. He'd asked Cersei to push for a match with Jon Arryn's daughter and she'd said that Joffrey had already made moves towards the girl. Tywin rolled his eyes as he thought of his grandson and that they hadn't been the moves he'd wished her to make. Cersei not understanding it was to Robert she was to make the suggestion and to dissuade him away from where his mind would undoubtedly go. Were it up to him then it would be to the Tyrell's that he'd see Joffrey wed, but Robert would never go for that and would no doubt instead look to the North.
Only Jon Arryn's daughter could match Eddard Stark's in Robert's mind and so it would the Vale he'd take rather than the Reach. With the Knights of the Vale and his own forces, they'd be the pre-eminent military power in Westeros and his dynasty would then be unmatched. Shaking his head clear of those thoughts, he opened up the raven's scroll and looked at it in disbelief. Tywin quickly calling for Kevan to be brought to him as he read it once more.
"Read this." he said to Kevan when he entered his solar.
"The Vale?" Kevan said to a nod when he saw the falcon of House Arryn "Is this a jape?" his brother asked a few moments later.
"That's Jon Arryn's signature." he said.
"A bastard knight, he's marrying his daughter to a bastard knight?" Kevan said incredulously as he sat down.
"Eddard Stark's bastard." he said.
"A bastard still."
"Who will one day control the Vale." he said and Kevan looked at him.
"He has a son, brother."
"A weak pitiful child who'll be lucky to see manhood according to Pycelle." Tywin said.
"But still a bastard to be future Lord of the Vale, surely they'll not accept it?" Kevan asked and Tywin shook his head.
"What's it they call him there, the Mountain Wolf, they'll accept it alright." he said grinding his teeth.
"What should we do?" Kevan asked.
"I need to find out more abut this Jon Snow, isn't he Dayne's nephew?" Tywin asked.
"As far as I know." Kevan replied.
Over the next few days, he began to give it more and more thought, with Jon Snow in the Vale then the Starks became a problem. Though should they marry into his house he'd have three kingdoms under his blood's control, four if you counted the Riverlands. Jon Snow's sister as queen and his nephew to sit the throne in the future would ensure they Vale only rose for him as would the North. The more he thought about it the more he began to relish the prospect, if need be he may actually see that Pycelle helped events along. A few drops of Shade of the Evening in Robert Arryn's drink and that would be that.
It was something to consider, though it vexed him that Eddard Stark a man who had no political skills whatsoever would somehow luck into a family who then helped his house rise. His own family would see his house fall and rather than a dynasty they'd fade away to nothing, no he liked it not.
"Damn you Jaime." he said smacking his hand on his desk.
Dorne 295 AC.
It took him some time to return from Essos, Oberyn still trying to make sense of what he'd learned while over there. That he had not yet only making him more and more annoyed. Arianne was glad to be back in Dorne, his niece had enjoyed the visit to her mother and seeing Essos but Dorne was and always would be her home. Seeing Ellaria again, holding her in his arms, and then spending time with his children soon made him forget his worries and concerns. Each of his girls was eager for his time and Oberyn was only too happy to give it to them and it was because of this that it was a week, almost two, before he rode to the Water Gardens to see Doran.
His brother's gout had taken a turn for the worst and he was barely able to move without help. Oberyn had always hated seeing him that way and it made him once again think about how cruel a world it was they lived in. Not content with taking his sister and her children from him, it now wished to rob his brother of his movements too. After he arrived he took a seat close to Doran as he readied to tell him his tale and he hoped that he could make sense of it where Oberyn could not.
"You found no sign?" Doran said as Areo looked on.
"No, they have vanished brother. Though we are not the only ones who seek them either."
"The spider?" Doran asked.
"Amongst others." he replied.
"While seeking them out I heard tale of a company of sellswords in Tyrosh, a new company with men and ships, quite large for one just starting out. In of itself, that was not strange but this company was taking men from others, and yet it had not yet taken a contract. It was expanding and had not yet earned coin." he said looking to Doran.
"Because it already had a contract." Doran said and Oberyn nodded.
"It did as I found out once we went to Lorath so I could see it for myself. The Company of the Sea Snake." Oberyn said.
"The Velaryons are involved?" Doran asked surprised.
"Directly brother. While there I supped with the Bastard of Driftmark himself. The man is most keenly involved and his lips are sealed shut when it comes to who funds them or what their true purpose is. Not even Nym was able to get them to open." Oberyn said.
He poured himself a glass of wine while Doran shook his head and drank his own, Oberyn looking to see that his brother's mind was already working things out that perhaps he had not yet even considered.
"He did however give me a tour of their barracks and I saw those men close up, Westerosi, Essosi, these are well-trained men brother and all in their number is somewhere over 4,000." Oberyn said continuing to speak in his brother's silence.
"With ships you say?" Doran asked.
"With ships. One of the men, a man Aurane said is one of the commanders of the company is a man most familiar to us both, brother. A man long thought dead and a former squire of Rhaegar Targaryen." Oberyn said almost spitting out his former good brother's name.
"Lonmouth lives." Doran asked.
"And breathes. I've spoken to the man myself, brother, he's another whose lips are tied shut, though he did say that he is looking for the children too."
"You don't think them involved?" Doran asked.
"They could be though I found no sign of them. It did cross my mind that of all the places they could be hidden amongst a company of sellswords was one of the safest but no they are not involved, or at least not yet." Oberyn said.
"But you think this company may be gathering its strength to support them?" Doran asked.
"I don't know brother and it vexes me that I do not." Oberyn said.
It seemed to vex Doran too and his brother asked him to stay the night and eat with him. Oberyn both welcoming the chance to spend some more time with Doran before he left and knowing that his brother would likely speak to him more about this on the morrow. Doran did and Oberyn was surprised to find that his brother was just as lost in this as he.
"I can make no sense of this Oberyn, no sense." Doran said clearly irritated.
"You don't think they're supporting the Targaryens?" he asked.
"I know they're supporting the Targaryens. The Velaryons, Ser Richard Lonmouth, these are not men who'd be part of an endeavor that didn't support the dragons. But why now? Where are they getting the coin? Who is the player in the background that's making a move? And why support the Targaryens when you've not found the Targaryens, these are questions I cannot find the answers to." Doran said his voice full of frustration.
"We should send men to watch the company, to shadow their movements." Oberyn said and Doran shook his head.
"What use would that do us, Oberyn? They know we know and care not and so they'll not show us anything but that they wish us to see." Doran said and Oberyn noticed his wince when he went to drum his fingers on the table.
"So what do we do then, nothing?" he asked frustratedly.
"No, following the company will tell us nothing but there are others to follow are there not?" Doran said with a smile.
"The Velaryons?" he asked and Doran nodded.
"I think it's time you paid a visit to Driftmark brother, go and speak to Monford and see who he runs to when you call."
"You think he'll reach out to others?"
"I think that for now this is our only course of action." Doran said.
He rode back to Sunspear later that day, Ellaria was waiting for him and his paramour was not best pleased when he said he'd be going on yet another trip.
"You will leave me alone again?" Ellaria said angrily.
"No my love, on this trip I'd most welcome your company." he said quickly calming her ire.
"And where are we to go?" she asked.
"Driftmark." He replied.
They ate with all of their children that night, Arianne and Trystane joining them and Oberyn enjoying the feeling of being with his family. At times he sought nothing more than adventure, to travel and experience new things was one of the great joys of his life. Yet nothing was more important to him than family and spending time with them. His girls, his niece, his nephews, and his brother all of them meant the world to him. The love he felt for them was deeper and even more true because of the ones that weren't here.
He often found that it was when he was at his most content that the guilt and anger he felt about Elia and the children reared its ugly head. This was as true now as it had always been and even Ellaria's hand on his when she noticed the look on his face was not enough to make it go away. Were it not for the raven that arrived, he doubted that anything would have, for this night at least.
"Uncle." Arianne said after reading the scroll and holding it out to him.
"Ari? What's wrong?" he asked as he took it from her hands and feared that something had happened to Doran.
"From the Vale uncle, this is most strange don't you think?" Arianne said as he read it.
To House Martell,
It is with great pleasure that I announce the betrothal of my daughter Lady Elaena Arryn to Ser Jon Snow. In time arrangements will be made for the wedding itself and when it is I would like to extend the courtesy of asking you to attend. I hope you can share in my joy at this news and that you will take up this offer.
Lord Jon Arryn.
He read the letter and then reread it, Arianne and Ellaria both looking at him and he at the letter in his hand.
"I need to speak to Doran and after that, It seems it's to the Vale we must go, my love." he said to Ellaria as the pieces began to fall into place and he walked from the room and ordered them to saddle his horse.
King's Landing 295 AC.
He rolled off of her and heard her moan contentedly, Lysa smiling at him and then grabbing his hand when he got up from the bed. Shaking his head at her, he allowed himself to laugh as he made it look as if they were playing a game. In truth he wished to be far away from the room and from her but he knew that some times in life one must make sacrifices to get what they truly want. As he dressed quickly he saw the pout on her face and so he walked back over to the bed and kissed her. Lysa trying her best to drag him back to the bed.
"I must leave, my love, there is only so much I can risk without the spider knowing of us." he said and that at least had the desired effect of cooling her ardour.
"I hate this hiding, Petyr, this sneaking around. I want the realm to know the truth about us." she said and he felt his heart still.
"One day they will, my love. When it's safe for us and for our Sweetrobin, but we must be secure before we reveal ourselves." he said as he placed his pin on his chest, the mockingbird's silver catching the light as he did so.
"And our plans to see that day come?" she asked.
"Are well in hand my love. We've waited years to be together, some more time is all I ask." he said and she giggled, the sound of it repulsing him as he looked at her.
He snuck from her rooms and was soon walking through the Red Keep and heading towards his own. Their dalliances had thankfully lessened while here, as finding a time to be alone with her in that way was hard with the Spider's little birds everywhere. That he also didn't actually wish to spend much time with her only added to the rarity of their laying together, Petyr only doing so when her complaints threatened to go too far and he feared what not laying with her may lead to.
When he reached his room he took a seat and poured himself a glass of wine before looking up his itinerary for the day. A small council meeting at noon, a visit to his brothel after that, for him this was a light day and one that really didn't offer much in the way of either amusement of profit. The king was content and that was the worst state he could be in for Petyr's needs. Far better to have him bored or angry, petulant or even joyful as that way the opportunity to make coin would always present itself. A larger feast, a tourney, a hunt, Robert would do anything to distract himself once his emotions were raised.
He wondered if there was some way to do so but he knew there was not. Without Jon Arryn being here to tell him no, Robert rarely actually wanted anything. The spoiled child that he was always sought out his father's attention, be it to be chastised, to be praised or simply to have him speak to him. Petyr had noticed it more and more, how Robert almost seemed to rile Jon Arryn up just so he could have that time with him. Yet when he was gone he became almost placid, almost retreating into himself and what was worse almost at times being a decent king.
After doing some paperwork and moving some coin around, Petyr sighing at the pitiful amount he made from such transactions, he made his way from his rooms to the small council meeting. He was not the first to arrive and he saw that Stannis and Varys were both already sitting, Renly arriving but a few moments later. Seeing the red marks on Renly's neck he knew exactly how the stag had been spending his morning. Petyr smirking as he thought about the rose being plucked or was it the rose that did the plucking. When Robert arrived it surprised them, not that he'd not attended more since Jon Arryn had left for the Vale but that he had attended this one.
"Your grace." he said as did the others, Robert looking to see that Pycelle hadn't arrived yet.
"Where is the old fool?" the king asked.
"Staggering down the stairs as usual, your grace." Renly said to laughs.
"Well we don't need him anyway, he's already brought me the news." The king said.
"News your grace?" he asked when no one else did.
"From Jon." Robert said smiling as Pycelle finally shuffled in the door and drew the king's ire in doing so "Next time you make me wait for you Pycelle, is the last time that you wear that chain."
"Your Grace, I…please forgive me." Pycelle said stumbling over his words.
"Sit down for fucks sake." Robert said before laughing once more "Now tell them about Jon's raven."
Petyr listened as Pycelle spoke of a betrothal, he, Renly, and Stannis all looking to the man while Varys instead looked at the king. It should have been no surprise that the spider already knew nor that the king would take the news so well. His foster father's daughter marrying his foster brother's son, even if that son was a bastard, would only bring Robert joy. That he liked the lad, spoke of him often and of his deeds only made his pleasure at the news even more apparent.
He like Renly and Stannis though were not as joyful at the news. Renly still smarted that the bastard had put his rose down more than once while Stannis didn't like that Robert cared more for his foster family than for his real one. As for him, he was trying to make sense of it all and finding that he could not. True Jon Snow was Ned Stark's son and he'd been fostered and knighted by Jon Arryn as well. Tales of the Western Wolf were rife in the Vale and Petyr doubted there were many who cared that he was a bastard knight. Or at least they wouldn't have cared had Jon Arryn not chosen to betroth his daughter to him. This made no sense, not politically, not practically, and as he tried to figure out the reasons behind it he began to see opportunities.
"A tourney, Baelish, I want a tourney to celebrate, I'll invite the lad and his betrothed, see that it's done."
"Your grace." he said with a smile as the meeting came to an end.
Strolling back to his rooms, he began to think about who this news would appall the most, which of the Vale knights would take issue with it, and which lord would be most put out by it. His mind was working hard as he thought more and more about it. Jon Arryn was a fool and this a very foolish move but one that Petyr knew changed things irrevocably. It was also one that he intended to take full advantage of and one he would use to climb ever further, the top of the ladder not seeing as far way as it had been just earlier that morning.
A/N: Thanks to all who've read and reviewed. Up next we see more reactions to the news of Jon and Elaena's betrothal as news hits Winterfell and the Reach. Jon Arryn arrives back in Kings Landing and has a fight with a king before he makes a counteroffer and Jaime speaks to Jon and Arthur.
Daryl Dixon: So glad you liked it.
Silent Mayhem: They will be married before canon, Elaena turns 16 in 297 AC.
Supremus: Not so much that he's not nice, he's young and cocky and he and Jon don't get along which kinda draws battle lines between him and those on Jon's side but it's like all things subjective which we'll see later on as the characters age.
Guest: We have one more chapter after this one before we really kick into the events that lead to the canon timeline. So we're still in the setting up of the pieces stage. We'll see Jaime travel a different path and Jon C well he'll be popping up right in the canon timeline when next we see him. On Sansa, I thought long and hard about what to do with her to show her things but I both didn't want her to suddenly understand everything and given her age there's only so far you can go before it reaches ehwww territory.
Guest: This one is monthly, though it's a week late.
Xand007: Thank you, my friend. So glad you liked the melee, you too my friend, we're almost out of the woods with the horrible things the world has faced this year, so stay strong and well.
Hpuni: Really glad you enjoyed it.
The Stoic: Thanks so much for saying that, it's funny I kinda had that in my head too a little but obviously it wouldn't have worked here.
Justmeesh: I won't say too much about Jon A's fate but his survival does make it almost an easy path to the throne. On him and what he thinks about Elaena/Jon, I hope the above answered it.
Keb: Really glad you liked it.
Epicweaver: One of the most annoying things is that for all the great characters in the Asoiaf universe, there are very few of the right age to be a marriage suitable for the crown. Like usually the crown prince/heir would marry from an LP house which gives us Margaery, Sansa, Arianne, and well that's it. After that, you've got Myrcella, maybe Shireen, and then you're dealing with smaller houses which is really why there are only so many pairings that actually work. I could I suppose have used Ysilla but it really did require an OC, so I'm glad it's worked.
Lady Ocarina: So glad you think so, the fact that they're all together will change some things, both in the Vale and the North. I was doing research and Jaime won his first melee at 13 which kinda shows that if you have the skills then age isn't the barrier that you think it was. Tygett Lannister, Jaime's uncle was 11 and killed two men in the War of the Ninepenny King and Daemon Blackfyre was knighted at 12. There seems to be three ways of being knighted (other than simple favor) winning a tourney, finishing your service, and a feat in battle. Jon did two of those lol.
On the not ignoring the politics, it does bug me when it's not brought up in fics. I mean it doesn't need to be gone into in great detail but at times people look at characters and pair them and don't think of the political ramifications. In Jonsa stories this happens a lot imo where they pair them off and don't think that it doesn't actually do anything politically. I read a story where Ned is planning to place Jon on the throne and everyone knows the truth about him and he marries him to Sansa because the author wanted Jonsa. Now nothing against an author doing what they wish but it's never even explored that marrying into a house you've already gotten on your side does nothing for you politically.
On Sansa, glad you liked that, it was just a taste from Elaena and Sansa isn't going to turn into the Queen of Thorns or anything, but it will change her mindset. So glad you liked the Dom/Sansa hints we'll see more of that as we go. I think with Jon and fostering there are so many little possibilities, as you see in TDC it turns him into a Lannsiterish kinda Jon, here we get a Valeish kinda. I think him in HG would be fun and him squiring for Oberyn probably the most fun of all. That was one of the only things about TDC that I missed, not having Tywin around to be an obstacle. I couldn't do it there for obvious reasons but here, we'll see Jon vs. Tywin.