Bran opened it eyes and looked back to Brynden. He was still the same but this would be the last time Bran would lay eyes on him. He had seen through the eyes of the Old Gods that the war was ending and it was finally time for him to return home. It would be long journey ahead but the Children would guide them back.
The way back to the wall was more difficult than the one North but this time there weren’t any Others or wights to worry about. Meera and Hodor seemed on edge about the possibility of meeting them but both Jojen and Bran calmed the group. Bran had seen what was happening in the tree and Jojen had a greendream of the group arriving safely back at the wall.
The thing that made the journey difficult was food. With winter having arrived, animals were hard to find even when Bran warged into Summer. Bran hated the feeling of hunger. The group didn’t worry too much while within the Tree but now in the open, it was far more necessary.
Coldhands traveled with them but once they started getting closer to the wall, he departed them and gave the group the way to Castle Black. Three days after that they saw the Wall once again but this time was a much different view.
The wall was no longer the same for there were several places where large cracks had formed. Some so thick that Bran could see right past the Wall and into the lands of the South. There were also large chunks of ice broken from the tops and littering the ground everywhere. But the most prominent feature of all was the how melted the Wall appeared and the scorched trees. Fire had consumed the forest and nearly took the entirety of the Wall with it.
Bran could only wonder what had happened for a moment when a horn sounded from nearby. Suddenly from the wall came five men on horseback, all clad in black and leathers. When they arrived, Bran would be nearly eye level from his spot on Hodor’s back.
The men took one look and noticed immediately they were not wights, but still seemed distrustful of the malnourished group. They were taken into Castle Black but kept under surveillance until the Lord Commander could deal with them.
Hodor just kept mumbling to himself, Meera paced the floor, but Jojen and Bran just sat down and waited. Jojen had grown thinner and he was half dead by the time they were at the wall. He just wanted to go home. Bran knew Jojen’s death was coming soon, he had seen it in his own greendream, but he wanted the boy to see his home once again.
The door startled them all when it finally opened and a dark haired man, clad in black, came striding in. Bran took one look at the man before shouting, “Jon!”
Bran received a strange look at first. Bran’s hair had grown longer, his form much leaner, and his legs were withered husks at this point. It took several moments but a look of realization came over Jon’s face, as Bran was soon pulled from his seat in a crushing hug.
Bran had never believed his brother died. He had seen it through a dream but refused to believe it ever happened. The White Wolf being torn to pieces by the Wolves in Black. He had seen it but didn’t believe it until he had a dream the next night about a Red Flame whispering into the ears of the White Wolf. The White wolf had risen from his spot and shook his fur like nothing had happened, but he did take vengeance. The Black Wolves that had attacked him were soon put to the sword but not before one of them attacked the Red Flame. The Flame struck him down immediately. Bran didn’t know what that meant but he knew Jon didn’t die.
“You’re alive…” Bran heard Jon say. Jon carefully sat Bran back down on his seat.
“Theon didn’t kill us. I sent Rickon away with someone who would keep him safe. He’s safe right now with her and Shaggy,” Bran said in an excited tone.
“I know… I know Theon didn’t kill you but I just didn’t know what happened… I assumed the worst-“
“How did you know about him being alive?” Meera cut in from the corner, a dragonglass spear having replaced her three pronged frog one.
“Theon was captured by Stannis Baratheon. He… he had been tortured by Ramsay Snow to the point of being unrecognizable…” Jon paused to look towards the door and sighed. “When he found out he was to be put to death by Stannis, Theon called out for all to hear he wished to take the black… He’s here, Bran.”
Meera stepped out of the corner, Jojen stiffened, Hodor’s head snapped to the door, but Bran was the only one who remained calm. He could tell from Jon’s behavior what had happened to Theon, but the story that was told was horrifying to think about.
“And what of him now? What is his roll at the Wall?” Jojen asked, eyes drifting lazily around the room as if trying to focus.
“Later. For now, you are going to be fed and receive plenty of rest. I have to finish my duties and we will talk later,” Jon explained. He then put his hands on Bran’s shoulders and smiled, “I am so happy you are alive.”
After everyone had been fed, they were shown where they would be sleeping. They were initially going to be given separate rooms beside from Bran but the group objected beside from Hodor who just said, “Hodor.”
They were then shown to a large room with three beds. Hodor was given the largest due to his size while Bran took the middle bed. Jojen took the smallest bed, while Meera took the floor next to Bran’s bed, covering herself in several furs. Summer slept on the floor next to Meera and she used him as a pillow.
At one point in the night, Bran woke up and looked about the room. Bran listened closely to the sounds of his friends sleeping. Hodor snored softly, Jojen hardly made any noise, but Bran mainly focused on the soft sounds of Meera’s breathing. Pulling himself closer to the edge, he looked down at her in the darkness.
He could see the gentle rise and fall of her head from Summer’s breath. He smiled down before laying back and warging into Summer. The increased smell, he noticed the distinctive smell of each person in the room but Meera’s was the strongest and her warmth was comforting. He shifted back into his own skin before going back to sleep.
The group was awoken the next morning by a knock at the door. Meera was always the lightest sleeper so she was the first on her feet and looking for the source of noise but calmed when she realized it was the door.
It was just a Black Brother coming to tell them they needed to report to the Lord Commander after they have eaten breakfast. They were led back to the main hall and were given a breakfast of hot beef broth and hard bread.
Once they were all finished, they were led to the Lord Commander’s room, where Jon was signing a few papers. Jon bid them inside and Bran found himself thankful that the frame was low enough that Hodor had to duck so it was easy for Bran to avoid hitting his head.
Meera helped Bran from the basket that was starting to fall apart and becoming too small. He was put into a chair near the middle of the room while Jon stood to his feet and paced around the room.
He stopped by his desk to take a large sip of wine and sighed. “Bran… The land has changed since we last saw each other. How long were you on the other side of the Wall anyway?”
Bran looked to his companions and they were all looking at him. Bran looked to Summer at his side, who was taking a large amount of room on the floor, then back to Jon. “There was a Black Brother we met. He guided us to the other side of the Wall. He was fat and a woman was with him. She had a baby with her. I think his name was Sam… Are they all right?”
Jon looked at Bran and nodded. “Sam is fine. He’s in Oldtown, studying to be a maester. But that lets me know when you went to the other side…”
“Where’s Theon?” Meera asked before Jon could ask another question.
“Later. I need to know what Bran did on the other side…”
Bran pierced his lips together and drummed his fingers on his legs. He couldn’t feel it but it made his nerves ease a bit. He looked Jon over carefully and smiled, “For the very reason you connect with Ghost.”
“How-“ Jon started but Bran answered by shifting into Summer’s skin. He could see through Summer’s eyes that his body had gone limp. He was happy he was leaning back a bit so he didn’t have to worry about falling out of the chair and hitting his head. Bran wandered up to Jon and placed one of Summer’s paws on Jon’s foot. He then tugged on the hem of Jon’s sleeve with his mouth.
Bran then sniffed the air and wandered out of the room and out of the tower in search of the smell. He soon found Ghost and warged out of Summer so the two wolves could spend some time remembering each other.
Once back in his own skin, Bran looked up to Jon and smiled. “Going into Summer is not the only thing I can do now, Jon. I can connect to the Old Gods. I can see things through their eyes. I saw you, Jon. I saw Arya. I saw father. I saw everyone and I saw everything.”
“Bran… I- I don’t know if I can believe that. I want to but-“
“Queenscrown,” Jojen said from his spot. “We were there Jon Snow. Bran saved you that day. He warged into Summer and saved your life from those wildlings.”
“Is this true, Bran? You were there?”
Bran gave a nod to Jon. “You may not believe everything but believe me when I say that you are special, Jon. I saw what happened… Your brothers… They betrayed you…”
Jon gave a look of surprise to Bran and touched a spot on his stomach where one of the many scars he sported was located. “How…?”
“The eyes of the Old Gods,” Bran continued. “Someone saved you. I couldn’t see them clearly but they were like a red flame. Who was it?”
“Lady Melisandre,” Jon replied with a voice that was mixed with malice but at the same time fondness.
“This Melisandre… Who is she?” Meera asked.
“A red priestess of the god R’hllor. She- I… I did die that day Bran, but Melisandre saved my life. She brought me back. She came here with Stannis Baratheon. When Stannis went south, she stayed here. After Stannis died and saving my life, she stayed at the Wall for a year until she died by one of them…” Jon shook his head and Bran didn’t need any clues as to what he meant. He had seen the ice white skin and bright blue eyes in his dreams.
“She died in a massive battle here at the wall. You saw the damage. The Wall is rebuilding itself in places but it shall take years. Dragonfire burns hotter than wildfire, you know?”
Bran perked up at that. He had not seen anything about dragons at the wall and he gave Jon a smile, “Dragonfire?”
“Yes. The new queen… Daenerys Targaryen arrived with her three dragons and provided incredible aid to our cause. She was the turning point in the war of the South and the one here at the Wall,” Jon explained and poured himself some more wine. He just looked in the cup before shaking his head and putting it to the side.
“Targaryen?” Meera and Bran said at the same time.
“Yes. She came into Westeros with an army and dragons. All of Dorne flocked to her aid along with several Targaryen loyalists throughout the kingdoms,” Jon continued.
“But I thought the Night’s Watch was not supposed to be concerned with the affairs of the South,” Meera said.
“That is true, but we must know who rules and Queen Daenerys explained what has happened in the south when she was came to the wall.”
“Hodor,” Hodor smiled at Jon.
“Does she have the Targaryen features?” Jojen spoke up from his spot.
Jon nodded in return, but they were all interrupted by a knock at the door. “Come in,” Lord Commander Jon called.
The man that came in was carrying a tray of food and a few books under his arm. He walked with a limp, several fingers were missing and others were cut at the first knuckle, his hair was thin and greying despite still looking to be only a few years older than Jon.
The man looked around the room and nearly dropped all his things but recovered quickly. He placed the items on Jon’s desk and bowed his head quickly, “I was instructed to bring these things here. I shall be going now,” he said in a rough voice.
“Don’t go yet. I wish for you to stay and speak with my brother. You owe him that, Theon.”
Theon? Bran’s head whipped back and forth between Jon and the steward. He studied the face of the man carefully and despite the drastically changed appearance, this was Theon Greyjoy. He had lost all his handsomeness and was now just a shell of who he was. Bran felt pity.
Meera stood to her feet and was about to advance on Theon when Jojen and Bran gave her a look to settle down. Hodor just looked weary of the man and backed himself against the closest wall, knocking over a small table in the process.
“Yes, Lord Commander,” Theon replied and turned his eyes to the ground. Bran noticed he was refusing to look at him.
“You betrayed us, Theon,” Bran found himself saying before he could stop.
“You had nearly everyone killed.”
“You were like a brother to me.”
“And I forgive you,” Bran sighed finally. Everyone in the room then looked to Bran, even Theon.
Theon’s gaze then shifted to everything in the room. First the window where the sound of the direwolves could be heard, then to the fireplace which was beginning to dwindle, then to each person who all had varying expressions towards him.
Those next few moments were something that would always be ingrained in Bran’s mind. Theon fell to the ground and wept. He crawled to Bran and his forehead rest on the knees of Bran and continued to let the tears fall. Bran could see a dark stain spreading on his pants but didn’t move Theon away. “I don’t deserve your forgiveness, Brandon, but I accept it with all my heart. I will never forgive myself but I shall have your blessing. Thank you, Lord Stark…”
Bran stiffened a bit at being called ‘Lord’ but he knew that would be his title at this point. Once he left the wall, he would return to Winterfell and Claim what was his.
Bran finally placed his hand on Theon’s shoulder and gave him a gentle pat. “Theon… There is no need for thanks. I am forgiving you but I never want to see you again after I leave this place.”
“Bran-“ Jojen started.
“I do not blame you. I would do the same, My Lord,” Theon said and quickly stood to his feet. He wiped his eyes with his sleeve and looked to Jon, “Permission to leave, Lord Commander?”
Jon gave Theon a nod and he rushed out. Jon then picked up one of the books that was brought to him and thumbed through it before going over to the fire and tossing it in. “Most of these books are going to be rewritten. The free folk are not the dangerous ones and the Others are real. Think you can help, Bran?”
Bran nodded his head and smiled, “Yes, Jon. I shall. I can’t be a knight but I can be a Lord. I shall have the entire realm know of these truths.”
“I know I can count on you, but promise that you will help the Wall when you can.”
“Starks have helped the Wall for generations. I will not be the one who stops. And I will send any men that I can in the future.”
Jon nodded at his brother and smiled, "Sending men may not be an issue at this point but we will take all the able bodied fighters we can get."
"How so?" Bran asked. He had always been told the Night's Watch was always struggling with men.
"The Queen is good. When she was here, me and her set up a deal. The people captured in battle are to be given a choice. They can live life in prison or be sent to the Wall. Most pick the Wall and so many fighters have been captured, we have been able to reopen a few castles," Jon explained.
Bran took in Jon's words and smiled, "That's good, but I will still do all I can for the Wall, Jon. You are still my brother."
“Good. Now, I think we should start discussing how to get you back to Winterfell,” Jon smiled and opened up another book filled with maps.
The next few days were spent conversing with Jon, updating maps north of the Wall, and drafting plans for a harness for Bran. He remembered how Tyrion Lannister made one for him at one time but it was ruined that day he found Osha. He remembered most of it and made adjustments when something was wrong.
In a weeks time, they had five Black Brothers escorting them to Winterfell. Bran felt strange being on top of a horse once again but smiled at seeing how green everything looked. He looked to his friends and noted how Jojen and Meera were riding with relative ease, but Hodor seemed to be struggling. He had been given the strongest horse at the Wall but his years working in the stables at Winterfell didn’t really help him with riding ability. He nearly fell from his horse several times on the trip and would make noises of complaint when he would wake up sore.
When they arrived to Winterfell, there were only a few people wandering around. When the group passed under the portcullis, a young woman with red hair and an elderly woman wandered out to meet them. The older one was using a stick to walk and looked to be blind in one eye but Bran recognized her instantly. “Old Nan!”
Hearing that, the woman strained her one good eye to see the group and her features softened. “Bran? My little Brandon? You live! And Hodor too!”
“Bran?” The red haired woman spoke and Bran saw that it was Sansa. She had tears forming in her eyes at the site of her younger brother.
Bran in his hurry began to unfasten himself and that made a Black Brother come to his aid before he could fall. Old Nan and Sansa moved quickly over to Bran and pulled him from the Black Brother’s arms and they all went to the ground in an embrace. Hodor soon joined them and kept saying ‘Hodor’ over and over as the four people hugged.
A month later, Rickon and Osha returned to Winterfell with a band of Black Brothers. They were found a few miles from Castle Black two weeks after Bran departed. They had all exchanged stories and had a small feast in honor of having both Bran and Rickon back in Winterfell.
Bran had been led to believe Old Nan had been at the Dreadfort after the Boltons attacked Winterfell. She later confirmed that was true. They thought she was too old to be any threat so they made her scrub floors and clean the halls. She had gone completely blind in one eye and her vision in the other was fading daily. While at the Dreadfort, she vowed she would not die in such a place and she did just as she wanted.
Old Nan passed away three months after Bran resumed position in Winterfell. During those months, Bran was telling her stories of what was truly beyond the wall and the magic he had learned to control. He even told her a few of the stories she told him while he was younger. Bran was in the room when she died and he noticed there was a smile on her face at the time.
She was buried in the Winterfell Crypts at Bran’s urging. She was not a Stark by birth but she was family enough to Bran and that was reason enough for him.
When he asked about the Boltons and what happened, they were pushed back to the Dreadfort after Daenerys Targaryen took the Throne. Apparently Jamie Lannister had led the forces against them with armies from Northern and Southern houses alike. All Bolton bannerman have fled and no one is providing aid to the Boltons. The house was falling into ruins.
Jojen and Meera returned to the Neck and they were welcomed back by their father. Bran would communicate with Howland Reed by Raven for the next several months and would inquire about his children. Jojen had died shortly after arriving home. Both Howland and Bran and known it was coming but it affected both their hearts heavily.
A year after his return to Winterfell, the castle was almost fully restored. Sansa went to the Eyrie with Petry Baelish who was promptly put on trial for murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. Bran would spend his days being the Lord of Winterfell but his nights would be filled with dreams and warging into Summer. Life went on at Winterfell.
One afternoon when Bran had finished his duties for the day, he had Hodor carry him to the Godswood. Bran sunk among the roots of the heart tree and went to sleep.
He could see the entire land of Westeros and he was flying high above it. He then flew down to Dorne and noticed a man swinging a large greatsword of Valyrian steel and another man of smaller stature fighting alongside him. They were facing off against knights in white armor in the shadow of a tower. Bran flew to watch the battle from the window of the tower. The two men ended the battle soon and were climbing the tower.
Bran turned around and saw a woman. He could see blue roses surrounded her, he knew them as Winter Rose and they grew in Winterfell, but she was also laying a bed of blood. A wailing sound could be heard and a little baby was in her arms, and she did her best to comfort the baby. Her body was dying.
The man and his friend soon entered the room of the tower and the one with the giant sword knelt down beside the woman. The man’s hair obstructed his face but Bran couldn’t tear his eyes from the scene. The woman pushed the baby into the man’s arms and she mumbled something to him. The woman looked to be pleading. Bran couldn’t hear anything from the man, but the woman’s response was shocking. She said, “Promise me, Ned…”
The man lifted his head up and the hair fell back to reveal his face. Bran was shocked to see it was his father, Eddard Stark. “I promise, Lyanna.” The woman, his aunt. Lyanna Stark, smiled softly and breathed no more.
Ned looked at the baby and sighed. He picked up a cloth near among Lyanna’s things and wrapped him up. ‘Jon…’ Ned said before walking out of the room. The other one stayed behind to look at the woman. He looked at her body and felt saddened. He stayed behind out of duty to his Lord to clean her body of the blood and summoned people to escort her bones back to Winterfell. Bran noticed who he was instantly. Although a bit larger, he looked just like Jojen Reed. That led Bran to believe it was Howland.
Bran woke from his visions with a gasp. Hodor was standing over him and he was brought immedeitly to the Maester at Bran’s orders. A new Maester had been appointed to Winterfell and it was through him that Bran received some council. He wasn’t Maester Luwin but Bran still felt comforted. His name was Maester Cotter. He was a man near the middle of his life with graying hair and a face that always looked happy.
Bran had the man immediately send a raven to Howland Reed for an invitation to Winterfell for him and his daughter. They accepted and arrived a month later.
Howland confirmed that Bran’s vision was true. He had been with his father in Dorne to try and rescue his Aunt Lyanna. They had believed she was kidnapped but apparently his Aunt had kept a journal of her time since before the tourney of Harenhall. Howland had kept it with him for safe keeping and brought it with him to show Bran for he suspected this was what he wanted to speak about.
She talked about being the Knight of the Laughing Tree, Rhaegar putting that laurel crown in her lap, her conversing with him one night and seeing him as a way out. She had detested Robert Baratheon and his whoring and wanted someone who she could trust. Lyanna had trusted Rhaegar and decided to run away with him. She became pregnant with his child and he had her put somewhere safe so he could go off and fight. She became sad when she heard of her love’s death. She wanted her baby to be named Jon after Jon Connington, Rhaegar’s closest friend.
Bran read over the journal a few times and went limp in his high seat on the dais. The one he thought was his half brother all these years wasn’t a brother at all. He was a cousin instead. Jon Snow was both a Stark and Targaryen. This thought made Bran have Maester Cotter write out a copy of the journal and have it sent to the Wall. It was to be for the Lord Commander’s eyes only. Bran gave the original back to Howland and thanked him.
The Reeds stayed in Winterfell for a month. Howland would often converse with Bran about his abilities but often would be in the Godwood. Meera would spend time with both Summer and Bran. They began to grown closer and they would take meals together alone, but when it was in the company of Winterfell, she would be to his left on the dais while her father on Bran’s right.
Three days before she was to leave, her and Bran were in the Godswood. He was nestled among the roots and she was sitting beside him, the carved face was directly above them. Suddenly Bran had an idea. He took her hand and sunk into the tree further to see his visions. He felt her hand tighten a bit but she soon relaxed.
He went through several points in history but settled on the tournament at Harenhall. He could see her father being saved by Lyanna and how they found her armor to compete. They saw how she competed and the smile that was on Howland’s face at her victory.
When he came out of the visions, Meera opened her own eyes and smiled at Bran. She then leaned in and gave him a soft kiss before whistling for Summer. The wolf bound through the Godswood until he found them. She carefully put Bran on Summer’s back and kept him steady as they walked back to the keep. Bran couldn’t think of anything else except for how warm his lips felt.
The next day, Bran met with Howland alone when the sun began to set. He had Howland Reed summoned to his chambers. The crannogman sat upon a nearby chair while Bran rested back against the bed.
“I wish to marry your daughter,” Bran admitted, a slight blush on his face.
Howland rubbed his face and used his fingers to comb his hair back. “That is a large proposal.”
“I know, but I don’t expect you to say yes considering my condition,” Bran replied.
“True, the ability to produce an heir is important, but I don’t care about that. I care for my daughter greatly but I have another son who is eight now. He will take over when my time is done,” Howland went on. “But I want to know why you wish to have her?”
“I like her and I think she likes me…”
“Is that all?”
“I just thought after all the things me and her saw together that we could have something…”
Howland smiled at Bran’s words. If the boy didn’t realize it yet, he would soon enough. “I shall think this over but the choice will be left up to Meera.”
“I understand, Lord Reed,” Bran said and reached out his hand to the man. Howland shook it and departed the room. Bran soon fell asleep and didn’t have any dreams that night.
Bran didn’t see Meera the next day at all. He searched the grounds for her with Hodor. He even warged into Summer and attempted to mask her sent but she went into the Wolfswood and had donned mud and leaves to mask her scent. It worried Bran that he could have made a mistake in asking Howland Reed about marriage.
The next day, the Reeds were heading out to leave. Bran was mounted on his horse and planning to escort them down the Kingsroad for a few miles. The ride was silent but Meera and Bran would exchange glances occasionally. He couldn’t read her expression so it worried him.
When they were five miles from Winterfell, Bran stopped his horse and was bidding his farewells. He was about to turn his horse around when he felt a hand grab onto his forearm. Meera had ridden over beside him and was hanging onto him. Her eyes were downcast but they slowly shifted up to Bran. Before he realized it, she leaned over and kissed him once again.
“If I’m going to marry you, then we are going to have to get a few things straight. I’ll only wear dresses if I have to, no arguments. I will attend all small council decisions, and we make all decisions together,” she stated with a slightly commanding tone.
Bran looked her over and nodded like a fool. He agreed instantly but was still recovering from her kiss. He looked to Howland who was just smiling at them. He then turned his horse back down the Kingsroad and to the Neck.
Bran and Meera returned to Winterfell and announced their impending marriage to the inhabitants.
They were married in the Godswood a few weeks later. There was no bedding ceremony for them but they were fine with that. Instead, they spent the night beneath the heart tree.
Bran had dreams and held Meera’s hand through the night to try and share them. He couldn’t be sure if they were getting through.
The strangest dream he had was of a massive dog kneeling before a wolf and bird. The bird then leapt into the air and nestled itself upon the dogs head. The dog and bird then went off towards a castle and soon emerged with three four winged pups trailing behind them.
Bran awoke soon and looked around the Godswood. No sign of Sansa or Sandor. He dreamt the same dream then as he did the night of his wedding to Meera. It wasn’t until today that he realized what it meant. Smiling to himself, he searched off for Summer and warged into him.
He went on the hunt and soon found Meera. She was wandering through the halls but when she saw Summer, Meera began to follow. Bran led Meera back through the Godswood all the way to the heart tree. Bran left Summer’s skin and back into his own. He gave a smile to his wife as he was helped onto the back of the direwolf. “Remember that dream we shared on our wedding night?”
“The winged dogs?” She puzzled.
“Yeah… You know Sandor Clegane came to Winterfell. He is going to marry Sansa. He calls her ‘Little Bird’ sometimes,” Bran explained as he tried to keep steady on Summer.
“Really? Four years later and you finally know the meaning behind it,” she laughed. Bran looked at her lovingly, he always loved her laugh. “Although… Maybe I should be mad. How dare you dream of someone else having weddings when that was our wedding night.”
Bran kept the smile on his face, “Forgive me, my wife. I had no control over that. However can I make it up to you?”
She paused and that made Summer stand still as well. He turned his head to look at the woman but her eyes were on Bran. “I can think of a few things,” Meera smirked. She then leaned in and held her husband so as to give him a kiss.
“I love you,” Bran whispered once they parted.
“I love you too,” she replied and continued walking back towards the keep with the man and the wolf.