Title: Wolf’s War
Author: Saydria Wolfe
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Political nonsense
Word Count: 2,228
Summary: Ned Stark does what he always fucking should have.
“Welcome to the Great Council of 284,” Lord Jon Arryn greeted the assembled lords.
When asked, Eddard Stark could claim no desire to lead the council, so he had left it in the hands of Lord Jon—a man he knew to be honorable. His second father.
They were in Harrenhal, the home of all Great Councils since the process’s inception, using the same giant, round table that had been used at the previous councils, though none of the Lords had taken their region’s seats evenly spaced around the table the table.
They were gathered in three distinct groups.
House Targaryen was one, represented by Queen Rhaella, Prince Viserys, House Tyrell and House Nymeros Martell.
He led the second. Accompanying them were Lord Stannis Baratheon, Lord Hoster Tully, and Lord Quellon Greyjoy. Ned thought Quellon’s inclusion was a bit of a stretch. There had been no formal agreements between House Greyjoy and the rest of them when House Greyjoy had decided to pillage the Reach, but their pillage had been entirely to the benefit of his cause so he had allowed himself to be convinced.
Lord Tywin Lannister was the third. As with Lord Quellon, he had joined the war late, but none of his actions could be construed to favor one side or the other. Neither had House Lannister accomplished enough to be treated with as their own third side of the war.
Ned honestly considered the man’s taking of King’s Landing as anything more than some sort of revenge against his former friend, King Aerys II.
He had been far from the only one to hold this opinion and the man had been excluded from their side.
“We meet to discuss the end of the Westerosi Civil War and the rightful claiming of the Iron Throne,” Lord Jon finished.
“The Iron Throne is mine!” the mad boy calling himself a King declared. “My father was king! My mother crowned me upon Dragonstone after my father was murdered by traitors! This entire meeting is treason! I will have your heads!”
Queen Rhaella tried to shush her son but he physically pushed her away.
“Your side lost,” Lord Lannister told the boy plainly. “Any claim your family had to the Iron Throne was lost when your brother died upon the Trident.”
“Then it falls to me,” Ned found himself saying. Everyone stopped to stare at him in shock. “The crimes of the Iron Throne against my House are what began this war—King Aerys murdered my father and brother. I created the alliances that won this war—between the Stormlands, the Vale, and the Riverlands. I accepted the Iron Islands into our accord. I led every victory for our side.
“The Iron Throne is mine.”
“Hear, hear!” Lord Tully agreed.
Ned almost sighed at the man’s blatant power grab—trying to make his daughter a queen was what that was—but he refused to express his exasperation. Ned knew that this situation would not end as the man expected.
Lord Tully was quickly echoed by Lord Greyjoy. Even Lord Baratheon nodded his acceptance.
“The only other that could make most of those claims would have been young Robert,” Lord Arryn offered sadly. “Alas, he and Prince Rhaegar killed each other.”
“It was kinslaying,” Lord Tully frowned. “It was bound to happen.”
Ned was not sure he agreed but he knew he did not disagree. “Do you all accept my claim?”
“Aye,” Lord Arryn agreed. All of Ned’s company took their seats at the table.
Prince Viserys puffed up in outrage, but a furious look from Lord Lannister shut him up. His mother, the dowager queen, nodded her acceptance and looked away.
Lady Olenna unsubtly whacked her son in the knee with her cane. Lord Tyrell winced but bowed his acceptance.
“We accept your authority,” Prince Doran voiced for his entire side. “What must we do to sit at your table?”
“Dorne was held hostage by House Targaryen’s hold on the life of your sister. I know that pain well. House Nymeros Martell is forgiven for all actions taken during the Wolf’s War. You may be seated.”
Ned swallowed carefully. He didn’t want to seem nervous but he hated calling the civil war his war because war was nothing to be proud of. Robert had been calling the civil war Robert’s Rebellion for months before he died. Just like Robert—and Jon—had decided he would be king when they ended things.
But Robert was dead. His claim was dead.
Ned’s entire family was all dead barring him, his brother Benjen, and two tiny babies.
Prince Doran bowed and took a seat.
Truly, House Martell had participated in the war as little as possible with Princess Elia’s life on the line, and forgiving them set the best tone he could hope for as they continued the business of ruling the Realm. He expected Dorne would be the most vocal objectors once he revealed his true intentions.
“House Tyrell did extensive damage to House Baratheon,” Ned told Lady Olenna more than Lord Tyrell. “Reparations must be made.”
Lady Olenna inclined her head. “Food, healing, and repair are surely the beginning of what House Baratheon is owed by House Tyrell,” she agreed.
“House Tyrell will negotiate in private with House Baratheon,” Lord Tyrell interjected, attempting to appear in charge. “We will present our agreement to the Council within the week for approval.”
“Any bargain you strike must be sealed with a marriage for lasting peace,” Ned instructed them. “Your daughter to his son.”
Lord Mace Tyrell stared at him blankly. “I do not have a daughter. He does not have a son.”
“Not yet,” Ned agreed.
Lady Olenna took the seat at the table meant for the Reach and Ned could only be amused. She, for one, was being honest about who was the power in House Tyrell.
“You are the Lady of House Targaryen and effectively the Lady of the Crownlands,” he told Queen Rhaella.
“I am—!” Prince Viserys started.
“Silence!” Ned thundered in his battlefield tone and the boy pissed himself.
“Lady Rhaella?” Ned prompted.
She flinched as if struck but nodded. “I am the Lady of the Crownlands,” she agreed.
“There is madness in the male line of your House,” he told her. “That mad boy at your side must be sent to the Wall, for the peace of the Realm.”
“And my daughter?” she asked.
“We shall see,” he promised and gestured for her to sit.
He glanced to Lord Umber. The Lord of Last Hearth responded without question as Ned knew he would and hauled the loudly protesting Viserys from the hall with the company of his sons and a dozen men.
Finally, Ned turned to Lord Lannister.
The Lion of Lannister was proud and could only be pushed so far before he bared his fangs. Many would be afraid to face him, but Ned was a wolf. The pack faced adversity together as a whole while the pride left their king to face his challenges alone.
Ned’s pack was bigger than House Stark alone, now.
He could handle one mangy cat.
“What must I do?” Lord Tywin asked tightly. Ned thought he looked doubtful which was fair—his so-called service had been rejected by Ned already and had been entirely against the best interest of the Iron Throne.
“You can have your son back,” Ned told him. “While the North frowns upon oathbreakers, I cannot blame a boy for defending his father’s life and I find I cannot condemn him to a life on the Wall when he took nothing more than justice for my own father and brother.”
“You have my thanks, My King,” Lord Lannister offered.
“Your daughter must wed one of my most loyal lords as a demonstration of your loyalty and Lord Baratheon requires a wife.”
“As you will,” Lord Lannister agreed.
“Justice must be given to House Martell for the sake of the Peace of the Realm,” Ned continued. “Every man that breeched Maegor’s Holdfast and took part in the brutalization of Princess Elia and her children must be turned over to Prince Doran for justice.”
Lord Lannister did not betray even the slightest upset. “It will be done after this meeting.”
Ned gestured for the man to be seated and was instantly obeyed.
He turned to Lord Mormont. “Bring Wylla.”
Lord Mormont bowed briefly and obeyed.
“We agreed that I have the most right to the Iron Throne,” he told the Lords. “There is another that I believe was born to truly unify Westeros. I will stand as his regent and guard his throne until he comes of age.”
Wylla entered with Jon in his arms.
“You cannot mean to make your bastard our king!” Lord Tully protested
“I have never named Jon as my bastard,” he corrected his goodfather. “I only introduced him as Jon to protect him until this moment. His true name is Aegon of House Targaryen. He is the trueborn son of my sister and her husband Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.”
“You would return House Targaryen to the Iron Throne?” Lord Arryn asked.
He was honestly the only one Ned would have answered so he said, “I would honor my sister. She was stolen from my House. Had Prince Rhaegar asked, there was no way my father would have denied him no matter what had been previously agreed with House Baratheon. My father was loyal” —and ambitious— “and would have never denied the Iron Throne. My sister was abused by Prince Rhaegar. Looking at his mother, I see the same abuse upon her. Mayhaps Prince Rhaegar thought that was the proper way to treat his wives, but that does not change what my sister suffered. Nor does it change that she died from her husband’s abuse even as she birthed my nephew.
“I will raise Jon to be a proper king and an honorable man in the traditions of the Kings of Winter—in Winterfell,” he told the gathered lords. “When he is ten, he will be squired to a proper knight per your southron traditions. When he is six-and-ten, he will marry and become king.
“Until that time, Lord Tywin of House Lannister, I name you Hand of the King. The Realm prospered under your guidance for nearly twenty years despite the Mad King’s influence. I pray it will again.
“Lord Arryn and Prince Doran Martell will stand with me as regents for young Aegon. They will rule the Realm with you while I raise our king.”
“You will maintain final say on our decisions?” Lord Lannister guessed.
“Of course,” Ned agreed. “The Iron Throne is rightfully mine and will legally remain mine until the day I give it to Aegon.”
“Aegon?” Prince Oberyn of House Martell demanded, his face was naught but a black cloud of fury.
“Do you not wonder why there are so many Brandons in House Stark?” Ned asked.
Prince Oberyn jerked in surprise and confusion.
“Bran the Builder, Bran the Breaker, Brandon of the Bloody Blade, Brandon Shipwright, Brandon the Burner, Brandon Ice-Eyes, and those are just the Brandons that ruled Winterfell and earned names for themselves in the North. My own brother—though he never ruled Winterfell—was Brandon Wildwolf.”
“What are you saying?”
“Naming her son after your sister’s son was an act of love and sacrifice by my sister,” Ned explained. “In the North, we believe that naming a child after the honored dead invites the lost one back across the Veil of Tears into this life once more.”
Prince Oberyn considered that. He was just as quick thinking as his reputation implied. “She was trying to save my sister’s son? To bring him back after the Lannisters smashed his head in.”
Ned knew his sister well enough to say that under any other circumstances or if she had loved Elia any less, Lyanna would have named her dragon-blooded son Jaehaerys after Jaehaerys I, called the Wise. He had been the only Targaryen King worth the metal in his crown as far as Lyanna had been concerned and it had been entirely due to his ability to find the right people to fill the right roles for the sake of the Realm—regardless of age, origin, or gender. Such would be a talent she certainly would have wanted in her own royal son whether he was bound for the throne or not.
Prince Oberyn nodded and stepped back from the table, back to his brother’s side.
“May I accompany you to Winterfell?” Queen Rhaella asked.
“Certainly,” Ned agreed. “And your daughter as well.”
“Will your nephew marry my daughter?”
Ned wanted to say no because aunt and nephew were much too closely related for his peace of mind. Cousins was one thing…but niece and uncle had been done twice in the history of House Stark—the same niece to two separate uncles, consecutively—they were historically documented as half-uncles which was nonsense, uncles were uncles. And it left him with no room to judge.
“We have to get him to manhood before such a decision is made,” Ned told them all. “Should anything happen to him, I will, of course come south to rule for myself and leave Winterfell to my brother Benjen.
“For now, I believe it time for your oaths of loyalty. Lord Lannister, as Hand of the King, you will go first.”
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