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Your Mother

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Rhaegar tried desperately to suppress a yawn as he watched Lord Stokeworth exit the small council room. It was not an issue that should have risen to his level but the man had arrived at his gates unannounced with an ‘urgent’ concern. The land dispute was, in fact, not an urgent concern but he had lost the better part of his afternoon to it after spending most of it in a small council meeting. No doubt he would be boasting of a private audience with the king for moons to come.

He looked at the parchment spread before him, his work from earlier looming. The light of the setting sun spilled across his face as he leaned back and groaned. There never seemed to be enough time in the day to do what his duty demanded and what his heart longed for. Rhaegar made his decision then and stood with a grunt and packed away the work, deciding his time was better spent with his family this day. 

Arthur shadowed him as they exited and moved into the middle bailey and he thought he saw a pleased smile on the knight’s face though his friend was ever silent. 

As they rounded the armory to take the serpentine steps, Ser Barristan very nearly crashed into them. Rhaegar caught the knight by his shoulders, alarm already flooding his veins. There were only so many reasons a Kingsguard would be sprinting about the grounds on duty. 

“Your Grace, thank the gods I found you.” Barristan was barely winded but relief shone on his weathered features. 

“Speak, ser. My family?” 

The knight lifted a placating hand. “Healthy, Your Grace. It’s just that…” Rhaegar had never seen the man shuffle in nervousness and the action did little to ease his mind. “Prince Jon has barricaded himself within his chambers and is refusing everyone entry. He is most distraught and his crying can be heard through the door. I felt you should know immediately.” 

Rhaegar was already moving at a light jog, calling over his shoulder. “You were correct, ser.” 

The clinking and clanking of the knight’s armour followed him up into Maegor’s Holdfast. Mercifully, there were very few people within the family apartments at the current hour and he arrived in short order, though the short journey still provided enough time for him to wonder at what could have caused such a reaction. The four guards posted outside his son’s room bowed and left as he arrived, though he stopped one and bid him tell Elia where he was. 

The sounds of his son’s anguish could no longer be heard but Rhaegar knew that the pain was most certainly still there. He tried the door on a whim but found it sealed shut, so raised his fist and knocked firmly. “Jon, it’s me. Will you please let me in?” 

There was silence as he waited, Arthur and Barristan bracketing the door. Though they said nothing, they practically radiated concern and it did little to ease his own tension. He noticed his hands were clenched into tight fists and stretched them, wanting to calm his son, not frighten him. 

A soft shuffle of small feet preceded the bolt being drawn back. The door creaked open slowly and a single red-rimmed grey eye peered up at him. An ache settled between Rhaegar’s ribs as he saw the anguish in that face, in her face. 

“Oh, my beautiful boy. What has happened to you?” 

Jon opened the door further and Rhaegar stepped in, immediately scooping him up. His son latched onto him, burrowing into his neck with a sniffle. Rhaegar closed the door softly and crossed to the large bed. He rubbed soothing circles into his son’s back as he sat and cradled Jon in his lap. 

The desperate way Jon clung to him broke Rhaegar’s heart and scattered the pieces to the wind. His youngest had always been so brave, so self-reliant and confident that seeing him in this state forcefully reminded Rhaegar that he was still just a child. He pressed a kiss to Jon’s head and waited, content to let him speak when ready. 

“I’m so-sorry, kepa. I din’t mean to distract you,” Jon mumbled, even as his little hands gripped him tighter. 

Rhaegar was sure Baratheon’s war hammer had hurt less than hearing the shame in Jon’s voice. “You are my son, Jon, you are never a distraction. Alright? My first responsibility is to you as a father, you and your siblings.”

Jon nodded against his neck and sniffled. Rhaegar pressed another kiss to his hair and hummed. “Do you wish to tell me what has you so upset?” 

“I heard some people talking when I left the library.” Rhaegar strained to hear what his son said, still snuggled against his neck. “They said- they said muña was a wolf bitch and a selfish whore. She wasn’t, I know she wasn’t…”

Jon trailed off into a sob and Rhaegar had never wanted to burn someone alive more than he did listening to Jon’s anguish. He rocked him and shushed him, cursing every god he knew for taking Lyanna away from her boy, from their son. Tears soaked his doublet as Jon trembled in his arms. His earlier exertion must have tired him out as Jon settled, sniffling and exhausted, in a few long moments.

“Your mother, Jon.” Rhaegar paused, a smile equal parts melancholy and happiness tugging at his lips. “Your mother was the furthest thing from those imaginable. She was kind and empathetic with a zeal for life that I found enthralling. I loved her with everything that I am and still do to this day.” He paused for a moment. “Have I ever told you how we met?”

“The Tourney at Harrenhal, everyone knows,” Jon replied softly. 

“True, but the first time I met your mother was not as she tried to discard her armor from the jousts.” Jon leaned back with wide eyes, her eyes, filled with wonder. “No, it was earlier as I wandered through the woods, brooding as I tend to. I told you how my father was not a good man, do you remember?” 

Jon nodded slowly and Rhaegar sighed. “Well, we had arrived the day before and my father felt slighted for some reason or another. I left the keep to avoid his wrath, with my harp and Arthur, to find some peace. Instead, I found Lyanna tending to Lord Reed’s wounds. She must have heard us approaching because she turned on us with a wooden training sword, prepared to defend them.” 

“What happened, kepa ?” 

“I was stunned. She didn’t relent when she realized who we were, either. In fact, she advanced on us.” Rhaegar stroked a gentle thumb over Jon’s cheek. “Lyanna had this fire about her that I found alluring. Her eyes, just like yours, were so fierce as she poked me in the chest. ‘Can I help you, my prince?’ Those were her first words to me and I couldn’t help it, I laughed. It was just so unexpected and I felt freer than I had in an age. I was gloomy, even then, and very few people had ever made me laugh.” 

His son was spellbound, hanging to every word about his mother, the slights against her forgotten. It was a relief to see him like this. For as much as Jon took his physical appearance from his mother, he had received Rhaegar’s solemn disposition and tendency to brood. 

“What did muña do?” 

“Whacked me with her sword, of course.” 

Jon’s mouth fell open in surprise and Rhaegar laughed at his look. Gods it felt good to do so. He could barely remember when he had last felt so relaxed. 

“Don’t look so surprised, my son,” he said, tapping the end of his nose gently. “Your mother was a strong woman, unafraid of standing up for what she believed was right. She felt a duty to defend her father’s bannerman, be it from dishonorable squires or the crown prince, and it was something I admired about her immediately and my admiration only grew the more time I spent with her.” 

Jon’s brow furrowed, much like his own did when he was considering something. “You liked her because she hit you with a training sword?” 

Rhaegar chuckled and pressed a kiss to his forehead, relishing in the conclusions only a child could draw. “Not quite. It was the reason behind it, her loyalty and sense of honor. ‘What is the purpose of possessing power if not to defend those without it,’ she told me once. Of course, I had to restrain Arthur while Howland calmed your mother, but once she realized that I meant them no harm we were able to talk, and we did. I spent hours with her, learning everything I could about her. She was steel wrapped in silk, a lover of songs and flowers who could also sit a horse better than any man and longed to learn swordplay. I fell in love with her that day and every day that followed.” 

“Truly?” Jon asked breathlessly. 

“Indeed. I arranged for her to meet Elia the next day, though she was reluctant. Many would say it foolish and rash but I knew then that I wanted Lyanna in my life always, if she wished it.” Elia had been a better friend than he deserved, understanding and gentle but his feelings for her had paled in comparison to his love for Lyanna. His relationship with Elia had been marred both by outside forces and his own demons, something he apologized for regularly. 

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that love is wrong, Jon. It is the most fulfilling and breathtaking experience in life. I have been blessed with you, with Aegon and Rhaenys, with Viserys and Daenerys, with Elia and Lyanna. To have so much love has made my life worth living.”

Jon nodded gravely, his little mouth pulled into a frown. He looked as though they were discussing the heaviest topic in the realm and Rhaegar wished to see him smile again. 

“Would you like to hear a song I made for your mother?” 

“I’ve heard ‘Jenny’s Song’, kepa . You played it a few moons ago. It was the song you sang at Harrenhal that made muña cry.” His brow furrowed further. “Why would you make her cry?” 

Rhaegar ruffled his hair fondly. “I didn’t hurt her, they were bittersweet tears. It is a sad song, after all, but that wasn’t the song I meant. This is one I played only for her.” 

Jon straightened even further with his wondrous expression fully returned. Rhaegar picked him up under his arms and sat him on the bed, crossing the room to retrieve the harp. His youngest had expressed an interest after listening to him play though they had yet to get very far in their lessons. He settled in a chair next to the bed, plucking the strings gently to loosen his fingers. 

“I started composing this after we first met and played it for your mother on the last day of the tourney.” Rhaegar cleared his throat, images of Lyanna’s smiling face clouding his mind, her tears at his words and laughter as she tried to hide them from him while he teased her. 

Wise men say only fools rush in

But I can't help falling in love with you

Shall I stay?

Would it be a sin

If I can't help falling in love with you?”

The airy sounds of the harp mixed with his deep voice, a little gruff from use all day. Jon watched him attentively, the perfect blend of their love smiling happily.

“Like a river flows surely to the sea

Darling so it goes

Some things are meant to be

Take my hand, take my whole life too

For I can't help falling in love with you”

Rhaegar felt the burn of tears forming as he could almost see Lyanna next to their son, giving him that little grin where just the corners of her mouth turned up but her eyes shone with countless emotions. 

“Like a river flows surely to the sea

Darling so it goes

Some things are meant to be

Take my hand, take my whole life too

For I can't help falling in love with you

For I can't help falling in love with you”

The last note was still quivering through the air before Jon was in his lap, little arms wrapped about him in a tight hug. 

“That was beautiful kepa ,” Jon whispered. 

Rhaegar held him firmly, running a soft hand through his son’s hair. “Your mother thought so too.” 

They stayed in their embrace for a long while before Jon let out a jaw cracking yawn. Rhaegar chuckled as he laid his son down, removing his boots and jerkin while Jon watched sleepily. He heard the door open behind him and turned to see Daenerys closing it quietly. She crossed the room in her sleep clothes, a stuffed dragon clutched in her little hands. He raised a questioning brow at her. 

“I heard Jon was crying so I came to make him feel better.” Daenerys put her hands on her hips and fixed him with a look as if daring him to deny her. 

Rhaegar had never refused her anything and she knew it, so he scooped her up and laid her next to Jon. They curled into one another almost without thought, linking fingers across the dragon. He watched them for a moment, letting contentment bloom in his chest to replace his earlier anxiety. 

“Thank you for telling me about muña .” 

Jon’s voice had been so soft that he leaned closer to hear his words. Rhaegar pressed a kiss to his head. “Always, Jon. She loved you more than anything, don’t ever forget that.” 

He kissed Dany’s head and backed away as they both drifted off to sleep. After he had returned the harp to its place, Rhaegar took a last glance at his son and sister. He hoped Lyanna would be proud of him, would understand that he was doing the best that he could, and knew that he missed her every day.