Jaime Lannister wasn’t a man for loyalty, wasn’t a man for honour. Jaime Lannister wasn’t a man for anything that required people looking at him. He had spent years as a Kingsguard for Robert, being mocked and named as Kingslayer. He had demanded a certain level of respect, of course. He was the brother of the Queen, son of the infamous Tywin Lannister, and one of the best knights the Seven Kingdoms had to offer.
But even still, he wasn’t looked at if it wasn’t to mock him. He knew what it was like to go unseen. It made him rather good at seeing those who tried to be unseen, as if that was a choice someone would make, instead of being forced into those circumstances.
They had been in this frozen wasteland for… Who was he kidding? He hadn’t been keeping count. The North was a miserable place. Even in summer, the snow fell, making their journey even longer.
Of course, he had spent the whole journey guarding the fat oaf he called King.
Robert Baratheon may have looked like a king near on fifteen years ago, but the idiot gave into the whims of gluttony and lust. What was a whore when you were wed to Cersei Lannister, the light of the West?
He had never understood why Robert said Lyanna’s name one their wedding night. He had never understood what was so special about the girl that Rhaegar Targaryen had crowned in place of Elia Martell. He hadn’t been there to see it happen, rather on his way to Kings Landing, but he had seen glimpses of her beforehand.
Lyanna Stark had been pretty, yes. A cold and wild sort of beauty. He could vaguely remember her round grey eyes, that had been filled with a lust for life, and her long brown hair. Personally, he had thought Elia the prettier of the two. A subtle beauty was that of Elia Martell, sun-kissed skin, large brown eyes and her hair that curled so nicely. It was her face that he saw in his dreams, in his nightmares.
Neither woman could compare to Cersei, but Rhaegar had never wanted a Lannister. Or rather, Aerys had wanted to spite Tywin. None of that mattered now; they were all dead.
Aerys by his own hand, Rhaegar by Roberts, and his wife and children by Tywin’s banner-men.
He wondered what Lyanna had truly died of. The woman who sparked a war because the prince had kidnapped her.
Part of him had never believed that story. Rhaegar was not the type to kidnap maidens, much less to abandon his wife and children, his mother and brother, to a cruel fate at the hands of the Mad King.
"You will be kept here, Jaime. I need you to promise that you will protect them," Rhaegar had said to him.
"Of course, my prince. The King’s safety is my duty," he had responded. Rhaegar had shaken his head at his naivety.
"The King has enough protection. I need you to promise that you will protect Elia, Rhaenys and Aegon. Protect my mother and Viserys. I fear for them more than my father. Promise you will protect my family."
"Of course, my prince. I will protect them with my lives."
That had been yet another one of his broken vows. And now the dead prince had no family for him to protect, not in Westeros anyway, so he kept his head and protected Robert, and fucked his Queen, and sired his children.
They were in Winterfell now, and he found himself standing in front of the King’s chambers as he fucked another wench.
How was Jaime a man without loyalty when Robert couldn’t even keep his affairs private?
Thankfully, his brother, Trant was here to replace him so he could get some rest.
"Report?" Meryn asked. Jaime shook his head.
"The King has company," he said in response, and with that, he walked away. Although his replacement was so that he could rest, he was feeling restless, and so he decided to go to the training yards, in an attempt to tire himself. He was one of the best swordsmen in the realm, and yet he was resigned to fighting dummies… Unless…
As he approached the yard, he saw a boy doing what he had been meaning to do, and hacking at a wooden figure. It had no rhythm, he was simply hitting it with his blade. In the darkness of the night, he couldn’t make out who it was, only that he was a young boy. He decided to approach him.
"Whatever you are angry with, I’m sure it wasn’t the dummy’s fault," Jaime said, walking so that he was just behind the boy, who instantly stopped his swinging and whirled around to face him.
"My lord," he said, obviously realising who he was in the light of the moon. Now that he had a view of his face, however hidden by the shadows, he recognised him as Ned Stark’s bastard… Though the name eluded him.
"I’m a knight, not a lord," he replied.
"Apologies. You’re the Queen’s brother. Ser Jaime Lannister, the-" he stopped himself, looking down.
Of course, a son of Ned Stark. He would have been raised on stories of his dishonour. "Kingslayer," he supplied.
The bastard had the grace to look ashamed, "I meant no offence."
He resisted the urge to roll his eyes, "What's your name, boy?"
He looked surprised at the question, "Jon. Jon Snow."
Ah, of course. The bastard was named for Lord Arryn. "Of course, the Stark bastard."
Jon’s features changed to an apologetic expression to a hint of restrained anger.
"Ah, that’s what you were hacking the wood for. Tell me, were you imagining it to be your father? Your unknown mother? Perhaps... The Lady Stark? Or someone else?"
The bastards eyes went wide. He’d gotten it, Lady Stark. Of course, that would make sense. No woman has any love for their husband's bastards, especially those who were being raised beside their trueborn siblings. In Jon’s silence, he looked towards the decimated wood dummy.
"Fight me. I believe I’d pose more of a challenge than that," he said, gesturing to what he had previously been fighting.
"I couldn’t, Ser. My brother would be more than honoured to have the privilege though," he responded instantly. So, he only has a hate for the Tully woman.
"I wasn’t asking, bastard. It was an instruction," he said, drawing his own sword, thrusting it toward him. To the boy's credit, he blocked it quickly. He had good reflexes, for a boy that would have only been four-and-ten namedays if his assumption was right.
Jon Snow seemed angry at the title of bastard and thrust his sword towards his side, which Jaime easily moved away from, not even needing to use his sword. Advancing, Jaime charged at him with his sword held high, going for a slow slice and following it with a backswing. Jon dodged the first, now getting into his rhythm, and met the second with his own blade. If he was another man, the force of how he met the blade would have surprised him, but Jaime had learned not to underestimate his opponents. Jon pulled back, and Jaime noticed his heaving chest. He was getting tired, most likely because he had never faced a knight such as Jaime.
"You can always yield, bastard." It almost surprised him when Jon struck again, this time harder than before. The boy had strength. This shot would have nicked his arm had he not still been wearing his armour, however, the bastard was desperate for a win, his fighting becoming less of the fluid motions he had seen and more choppy, as it had been when he was attacking the dummy. Anger clouds judgement, anger clouds skill.
Jaime swung once more, his large sword meeting Jon’s steel, though not by much, Jon had almost missed the block. Jaime administered four more swings. The first two, Jon blocked. The third had Jon stumbling, and the fourth had him on the ground.
"I yield," he huffed. Jaime grinned, the boy wasn’t bad, but he had a lot to learn. He held his hand out to help him up. Something felt awfully familiar about Jon Snow, and he couldn’t pick it for the life of him. Jon took his hand and Jaime pulled him up so he was standing once more.
"You have skill boy, but I only had to call you a name to lose whatever skill you possess. You focus on anger too much," Jaime supplied. Jon nodded, swallowing, his chest heaving. He didn’t reply, only looking at the ground. He wanted to say something, but he was holding his tongue.
"Why does it affect you?" Jaime asked, somewhat curious. It was what he was, after all. It would never change unless Robert decided that Ned Stark’s bastard deserved to be a Stark. The question seemed to surprise him, and he seemed unsure of how to respond. This annoyed Jaime. "Answer the question, truthfully."
He looked right up into Jaime’s eyes, and he almost flicked at the eye contact. "I don’t want to be known for how I was born. I had no choice in it. I didn’t choose to be born a Snow."
It made sense. Again, Jaime was hit with a wave of familiarity at the intense look in his eyes. Suddenly, something hit him. It was Lyanna he saw in him. The cold and wild side evidently had passed down to her nephew. "Where are your crypts?" He asked, the question surprising even him.
"Your crypts. I knew your aunt briefly, and…" he stumbled for something else to say, Jon caught on to this.
"Your Uncle Brandon, I knew him. He and I would have been good-brothers. I was meant to wed Lysa Tully before I became a Kingsguard," he lied. Well, it wasn’t a lie technically, but in truth, Jaime just wanted to go see where they were. He remembered the smell of Rickard Stark's flesh as he burned and the way Brandon’s face had turned purple as the air was taken from his lungs. Jon seemed to accept this though, and began walking, though not before dashing off to return his sword to the armoury.
"Do you know anything of my Aunt Lyanna? My father hardly speaks of her…" the boy trailed off, now looking uncomfortable. In truth, Jaime knew almost nothing of Lyanna or any of the Starks for that matter, but if Jon didn’t know anything then whatever he said wouldn’t be questioned.
"She was wilful." As any girl who runs off with a married prince is. "She was fiercely loyal to the North." As any girl who beats Frey squires for messing about with a Crannogman would be, his Aunt Genna had spoken about it once. "I only met her briefly, as I said, so I may not be the best person to ask."
He nodded, resigned, "Thank you, Ser Jaime. I.. You are much different from the stories."
That piqued his interest, "How so?"
He could only imagine the stories that he had been told in this household. Jon looked down, as he seemed to do so often, "Well… I’ve always been told that Jaime Lannister was a bad man, but I don’t think you are."
He laughed, "Are you calling your father a liar?"
That worried him, "Of course not! I just- well, he may have had a different experience with you than I did. Or you changed."
"Perhaps," he responded with a shrug as they arrived at what was obviously the crypts. Jon pointed down into the darkness.
"You may need a torch," he said, pulling one off of the wall and handing it to him.
"Thank you, for bringing me here, Snow," he said, taking the torch in his hand. In the new light, he looked at the boys face, and in the flickering light, he almost jumped.
"Is something wrong?" Jon asked hurriedly.
He shook his head. He was seeing things. "Not at all."
Jon accepted this, bowing slightly, "I hope to see you in the coming days."
And with that, Jon Snow disappeared into the night. Jaime just stood there, before putting the torch back where it belonged. In the light, he had seen the same thing he saw in his dreams every night. In the light, he saw a ghost. In the light, he had seen Rhaegar Targaryen in Jon Snow’s face.
He hadn’t gone to the crypts, after all. He had gone to bed, not wanting to be around any Stark, dead or alive. His dreams had haunted him, as was to be expected, except now, he was seeing Jon Snow saying the same thing as Rhaegar.
"You failed me. You didn’t protect me."
What he didn’t understand was how. How did he fail Jon Snow, bastard of Ned Stark? He had only spoken to the boy on one occasion and then proceeded to ignore him for the two days. Once, the boy had sent a wave his way as he walked past the training yard, and looked somewhat dejected when Jaime ignored it.
It was only after he had pushed Brandon Stark from a tower that he realised something. Currently, he was making his way to find Ned Stark. He had something to discuss, and he had asked for an audience in front of the Heart Tree. Damn Northerners and their honour dictated that they could not lie in front of the heart tree.
"Why did you ask me to meet you here?" Ned asked as soon as Jaime arrived. So eager to be out of my company already.
"I wanted to speak about your son," Jaime said lazily in response. He acted as though he didn’t care, but inside he was panicking. What if he was wrong? He was never one to get involved in the politics of the realm, and this was directly involved in that.
"Robb? Or Bran?" He asked. Of course, the heir or the child on the brink of death.
"Rickon? He’s only a boy-"
"Your bastard son," he snapped, somewhat annoyed at his ignoration of Jon.
"Jon? What did he do?" He said, his tone sounded exasperated.
"Who is his mother?"
He looked taken aback, "How dare-"
"Who is his father?" He said, cutting Ned off. He fell silent for a moment.
"He is my son."
"I see Rhaegar in him," Jaime said into the silence. "What happened? Rhaegar and Lyanna fell in love… She died in childbirth I’m assuming."
He looked to the Heart Tree, eyes filled with a need for guidance. "How did you know?"
Jaime frowned, "I told you. He looks like Rhaegar, fights like him too."
This seemed too easy. "You can’t tell Robert. He’ll be killed," Ned said pleadingly.
He laughed, "I won’t. I’m not an oathbreaker."
That seemed to confuse him, but instead of replying, Ned sat down on the rock by the pond. "What will you do?"
Jaime hadn’t thought about it, in truth, but the words came from his mouth before he could even think of anything else. "I want to take him from here. He’s a Targaryen bastard-
Ned shook his head, "He’s not a bastard. Lyanna and Rhaegar were wed at the Isle of Faces in the name of the Old Gods."
He laughed at the incredulousness of it all, "You have a Targaryen… The rightful king, seven hells. The honourable Ned Stark hiding away a Targaryen, the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. This must be some sort of jest-"
"Be quiet!" Ned hissed, looking around as if they were being followed. He laughed again, shaking his head in disbelief.
"He doesn’t know?"
"No. He doesn’t know."
Jaime resisted the urge to laugh again, "Keep your head. Let me take the boy with me."
"Where? You’re a Kingsguard and a Kingslayer. Why would I trust you with my son?"
This is what happens when things aren’t thought through, you make rash decisions. "My father’s been trying to get me out of the Kingsguard for years. I’ll take him to the Rock, he can be my squire, or cupbearer or something of the sort."
"Why would you do that?"
He frowned, "Because I made an oath to his real father. Would you rather send him to the Wall?"
It was a week later after the conversation with Ned that he had finally gotten word from his father, and the King had been spoken to by his new Hand and the Lion who funded the crown. His father had been delighted, or as delighted as Tywin Lannister could ever be. If he had known that the price of him leaving the Kingsguard was simply taking a bastard as a squire, it would have been done years ago.
Now, Tywin had instructed that they leave for the Rock at once. That also meant that Jaime had to speak to Jon about the arrangement. He wasn’t going to tell Jon about his true birth circumstances, nor was he going to tell anyone.
However, Jon was done hiding in the shadows.
"Snow!" Jaime called, walking down to where Jon was currently walking through the courtyard.
"Ser Jaime. I trust you’ve been well?" Jon replied, much more stiffly than he had the last time they spoke. Now, in the daylight and being close up, he knew that whatever doubt had crossed his mind was wrong. How he had been the first one to see it, he would never know. Jon was simply a Stark featured version of Rhaegar.
"Yes, yes. I wanted to talk with you about something," Jaime said.
"My father already has," Jon replied. What? The fool.
"Oh? How do you feel about that?" He asked, somewhat awkwardly.
"It would be an honour to squire for you, but I fear that a bastard would not be well-received."
God, this boy was so self-conscious about his birth. "I get called enough names, I don’t particularly care if people are concerned about my choice of squire."
"Would you not prefer to have a true-born by you-"
"The first lesson," Jaime interrupted. "Don’t second guess yourself. You pack your things, say your goodbyes. We leave for the Rock tomorrow."
He left Jon, who looked as shocked as anything, standing in the courtyard as he walked off. He needed to speak with Cersei about this. He couldn’t continue to be by her side. She wouldn’t support Jon when the time came if the time ever came. Her precious Joffrey needed to inherit the throne in her eyes. Two lovers, now thrown apart by faith, by promises.
"I leave tomorrow," he said, walking into her rooms. She had scarcely left them in the previous weeks, and the royal party was leaving in a little over a week to return to Kings Landing in any case.
"You were meant to take your birthright. You just weren’t meant to leave, Jaime," she hissed. Jaime sighed, moving closer to her, embracing her one last time.
"I know. But I must."
She pulled away from him, "Why?" She asked, venom in her eyes, "Why would you leave now? And why take the Stark bastard with you?"
He shrugged, "He’s a good lad, and after what happened with his brother, we can’t afford them to think we are vulnerable. We take one of their own to use against them if the time comes for it."
She seemed to accept this, for she visibly relaxed. “I’ll convince Robert to allow the children and I to visit the Rock on a regular basis.”
He shook his head, “No, you can’t Cersei.”
“Why?” She asked, her eyes narrowing.
“This is something I must do on my own,” he said gently. He could never be anything other than gentle with her, not in this sort of situation. He didn’t want to hurt her, yet, he knew the decision that he had made, the decision that he had to stick with.
“There is no such thing as on our own, Jaime. We are two halves of a whole. We belong together, always. I love you,” she said in a hushed tone.
“And I, you. But I must do this. Perhaps things will be different in a few years but for now…” she silenced his words with her lips. Gods, he was addicted to the taste of her.
“Give me a proper goodbye then,” she said huskily, her warm breath raising the hairs on the back of his neck, and he was hopeless to refuse her.
Jon Snow had said a quiet goodbye to his sister, who was standing a fair distance away from the others. The same attitude as her mother. Catelyn and Sansa could have been twins in another life, though Sansa would grow to be more beautiful than the trout of Riverrun would ever be. He was moving along to his little brother now, the one who wasn’t bedridden, ruffling his hair and promising to visit soon. Jaime didn’t know when he would allow him to come to Winterfell again, he was trying to make plans, of course, but making plans had never been something he was good at if said plans didn’t involve a sword and a battlefield.
Jon said goodbye to his other sister next, who threw herself into his arms, looking close to tears. Next, the heir, Robb, embraced his ‘brother’ and sent daggers in Jaime’s direction. Then it was time for Ned Stark and his brother Benjen. Jon had embraced them both, with hushed words and false promises. His wolf was even saying some sort of goodbye to its siblings. The white shadow had quite the fitting name, Ghost. The wolf made him uneasy. Jon was walking towards his own horse after saying his goodbyes, Jaime heard a voice from next to him.
“Are you ready?” Tyrion asked from beside him. Jaime looked down and nodded.
“If I said yes, would you believe me?” He quipped. Tyrion laughed, he had agreed to come back to the Rock to keep him company after he had visited the Wall.
“Hardly, but I look forward to joining you at the Rock, to see what has possessed you to make this choice,” Tyrion responded.
“Perhaps a Ghost,” he said, looking over at the wolf who was now waiting beside Jon who was checking over his saddlebags.
Tyrion shook his head, holding out a hand. “Farewell, brother.”
Jaime took his hand, kneeling slightly to give him a quick embrace. “Have fun pissing off of the Wall.”
“Oh, I shall, if it doesn’t freeze my cock off.”
With a laugh, they broke apart and said their last farewells. Before he could get on his horse though, Ned Stark approached him.
“There is a box in your bags. It contains information about Jon,” he said in a hushed tone, before holding his hand out just as Tyrion had moments ago. “Good fortunes. Take care of my boy.”
Jaime took his hand, shaking it firmly. “Good fortunes in the capitol, Lord Stark.”
With that, Ned too disappeared and he finally faced Jon. “Ready Jon?” He asked.
Jon sent a look back to his family, before facing him and nodding firmly. “Yes.”
He grinned, “Good, now, let's leave this frozen land you call home."