Title: Ghost of the Red Keep
Author: Saydria Wolfe
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Dark Themes, Major Character Death (Robert Baratheon), Minor Character Death (Gregor Clegane, Amory Lorch)
Author’s Notes: 1.) I got inspired while helping Eff plot her November 2022 Rough Trade/Nano. This is my version. I’m not going as far as she did, obvs, so if you want more along these lines, 100% go read Eff’s fic Divine Intervention. 2.) Dark Themes because this is Game of Thrones. It is Dark AF and if you aren’t prepared for that, please read something else.
Word Count: 2,453
Summary: The Working Title of this was “Jon Saves Elia.” That about sums it up.
“Jon?” Sansa tried to call his attention back to their discussion.
“Hold on,” he grabbed his sword belt off the back of his chair and threw it across his chest. “Ghost needs me.”
“Of course,” his sister that was actually his cousin turned back to her ledgers.
Jon found Ghost waiting for him outside of the family floor. He had never been allowed there as long as Lady Catelyn had been alive but now it was for him and the family he would one day make. The changes his life had gone through since leaving Winterfell as a boy boggled his mind nearly as often as they broke his heart.
Ghost’s ears shot up and the dire wolf scrambled after whatever caught his attention with Jon hot on his heels.
Ghost shouldered his way into the Lord’s Chamber. Jon himself stumbled through the door, absently noting that the gray stone of Winterfell had given way to pale red stone unlike any he had seen before.
When he gathered himself, Ghost was on the bed, standing, head down and silently snarling over a woman clutching two children. The biggest man Jon had ever seen—bigger even than Tormund—stood facing down Jon’s bonded wolf, clearly too stupid to fear a dire wolf.
There were more men struggling into the chamber through a broken window.
Jon rushed forward and kicked the first one back out. The cur wore a manticore on his breast and a red cloak on his back—a Westerman. He fell with a scream that ended rather abruptly.
Jon leaned out the window. Three more men in Lannister colors were hanging on to the side of the building. Below them was a dry moat filled with giant iron spikes.
Somehow, Jon was in Maegor’s Holdfast.
Using Longclaw, he skimmed the side of the Holdfast, removing hands as he went.
The second Lannister armsman tried to catch the first as he fell. The two fell together, knocking the third off the wall as they went. All three landed in the iron spikes and moved no more.
Jon turned to see Ghost was no longer on the bed. He was on the ground. The Mountain—for it could only be the Mountain That Rides—was on his back but putting up a decent fight by the look of it.
Jon walked forward and raised his sword above the Mountain’s head. Ghost jerked back at just the right moment and Jon drove Longclaw down, through the Mountain’s eyes and into the floor below. The Mountain stopped moving, clearly dead. Jon took his head anyway, to be thorough.
“Ser?” a gentle voice pulled him from his post battle fugue.
Jon looked up to see a beautiful but delicate Dornish woman wearing an orange and gold wrap dress. This had to be Princess Elia. In her arms was young Prince Aegon and peaking from being her shoulder could only be Princess Rhaenys.
“Princess,” he greeted in return as gently as he could.
“Ser, I do not know you, but I thank you. You—” she glanced at the Mountain’s headless corpse and blanched. “You saved us.”
“I would not say it was my pleasure but it was my gods-given duty.” Because only the gods themselves could have taken himself and Ghost some thirty years in the past and the entire span of Westeros by walking through a door. “This room is not secure. We need to get you somewhere safe. All of you.”
“Where?” Princess Elia demanded, face growing hard. “If Maegor’s Holdfast is not safe, where will my family be safe?”
Jon struggled to remember his history. He knew this. He did know this.
He had always questioned the improbable timing of his father—his uncle, in truth—arriving in the throne room while Jaime Lannister was still lost in the shock of killing his king and breaking his vows. He had privately held strong doubts about his uncle riding through the depravity of the Lannister Sack of King’s Landing to get there when he did, but now it was useful. His uncle would never harm children. Nor would he allow harm to come to any one once they were in his care.
Jon could use that.
“The throne room,” Jon decided. It was the first place his uncle would go “The Mad King is dead or soon will be. The Iron Throne belongs to King Aegon VI. We will set you at the top—all three of you. Ghost and I will stand guard at the foot any living Kingsguard will stand as Aegon’s shield. As long as we live, no one will touch you.”
“I would prefer you not die,” Princess Elia said.
“So would I,” Jon agreed. It did not hurt to die the first time he had done it but he would rather not test his luck a second time a moment before he had to. “Can you get us to the throne room unseen?”
He accepted his new king in his arms as the king’s mother crawled out of her large bed. Once he returned the tiny bundle, he lifted Princess Rhaenys out of the bed and placed her on Ghost’s back, just behind his shoulders.
“You are safer now than you have ever been in your father’s arms,” he promised the young girl before her mother could protest.
Princess Elia gave him a stern look before she led them into the privy. Hidden behind a tapestry to one side was a small passage way.
“Servant’s passages,” Elia explained. “They will allow us to travel unseen.”
Jon went first, followed by Elia and Aegon with Ghost and Rhaenys bringing up the rear.
They went down for longer than Jon thought the Red Keep could go. Then they crept though the inky blackness of what could only be the Black Cells. On the other side they went up, past a number of dragon skulls, and Jon finally opened a small door.
He was met with a wall of dragon-forged iron. The Iron Throne.
Jon signaled his company to wait. He crept forward and around. Craning his neck, he could see Jaime Lannister younger than Jon had ever known him but recognizably himself, sitting on the Iron Throne, staring in shock at the corpse of the Mad King.
Jon shook his head.
He marched up the stairs to the Iron Throne, pulled the lion-pommeled sword out of the body and cut off the dead king’s head.
“What?” Lannister protested weakly.
“You need a shield,” Jon told the younger man as he hefted the Mad King’s body to the edge and let it fall off the far side of the throne.
“What?” Lannister demanded with more of his usual fire.
“The king is dead.”
“I know!” the golden lion snarled. “I killed him!”
“We must protect the king,” Jon said, blithely ignoring the confession. “You need a shield.”
He picked up the Mad King’s head and gestured for Jaime to follow him. He planted the head on one of the swords toward the base of the throne and led Ser Jaime to the side door.
Jon opened it to reveal Princess Elia and her children.
“I need a shield,” Jaime realized and he scrambled off to find one.
“Cover the lad’s eyes,” Jon instructed Princess Elia. “Little Rhae of Light, I need you to close your eyes for me as well.”
The princess giggled and hid her face in Ghost’s fur.
Jon led his little party to the throne. Elia gasped and clutched her son tighter when she saw her goodfather’s head on a spike. His face was frozen in a mask of madness and fury. Jon sat Aegon on the throne by having Elia sit there and encouraged Rhaenys to join them. He and Ghost were at the foot of the stairs when Jaime returned.
The Kingsguard knight was somehow even more pale than he had been when he left the throne room but he was holding a shield large enough to serve a family dinner upon.
“I found Grand Maester Pycelle with the raven boy he was training.” Jaime said without making Jon ask. “He’s dead. I told the raven boy to send a message to the Dornish ships in the bay.
“We need them,” Ser Jaime hesitated. “Right?”
“Right,” Jon agreed, clapping him on the shoulder. “Well done, lad.”
Relief suffused Ser Jaime’s face and his shoulders slumped as if he had set down a heavy burden.
“Can you wield that?” Jon asked. The shield was far larger than he had expected Jaime to find—painted black with a red dragon picked out in rubies upon the front.
“Aye, I can and I will,” Ser Jaime swore.
“I want you up there with the king,” Jon ordered Ser Jaime. “Ghost and I will defend the steps. No one will get past us but a stray arrow could endanger King Aegon anyway. That is what you are for.”
Ser Jaime nodded but hesitated. “But I… I killed the King.”
“Aerys the Mad was a traitor to everything a king should be,” Jon disagreed. “You saved King’s Landing and the Realm. Now, we need King Aegon to live so he can do a better job than those that came before him.”
“Yes, sir,” Jaime agreed. Then he turned and resolutely marched up the steps to be the king’s living shield.
Jon did not have to wait long for his uncle to arrive with twenty Northmen at his back. At his heels came Dornishmen, with Prince Oberyn in the lead, looking young and shaken. Behind them, and clearly furious for it, came Robert Baratheon with Jon Arryn, Hoster Tully, and Tywin Lannister already negotiating Baratheon’s kingship.
“Elia!” Prince Oberyn cried, racing forward.
Jon stepped aside to allow the reunion.
“Dragonspawn!” Robert Baratheon bellowed and charged forward.
The fool never reached Jon. Ghost took him from the side to the floor and tore out his throat before even Jon saw him move.
The Dornish spears pushed their way forward through the stunned Northmen and established a perimeter in front of the Iron Throne.
“I fear your daughter will not be marrying a king, Lord Lannister,” Jon said. “Though I understand the Lord Baratheon has a younger brother more her age that might suit.”
“And who, exactly, are you?” Lord Lannister demanded.
“Jon,” he said because of all the names he was entitled to or the titles he had carried in his life, that one alone he was entirely comfortable with. Ghost came to stand behind him so Jon could lean against him for comfort—Ghost had grown far too large for them to do things the other way around.
“You keep company with a dire wolf?” His Uncle Ned asked.
“I am a warg,” Jon explained. “Ghost is my bonded companion. He led me to defend King Aegon against Lord Lannister’s men.”
Every Northman in the room turned to face Lord Lannister with their hands on the hilts of their various weapons—clearly marking Tywin Lannister as a threat in their midst.
“He is the sigil of my House,” Ned said softly. He gave his dead friend a sad glance before focusing on Jon. “There have been no wargs in the North since the Coming of the Dragon. Are you a wildling? How did you come to be here?”
“I did live with the wildlings for a time and they taught me to warg, but I was never truly one of them,” Jon admitted. “The gods brought me here to defend King Aegon and that is what I shall do.”
“He cannot be king,” Lord Arry interjected. “House Targaryen lost the war.”
“The gods sent the sigil of my House and a man of the North to defend the boy,” Ned spoke against his foster-father. “King Aegon sits on the throne because of them. They have seen those that have harmed my House punished. I see no reason to remove King Aegon from the throne when the gods themselves have placed him there.”
“There is a simple way to seal the breach between the North and the Throne. A way that will end this concern,” Jon told them. “Lord Stark’s first daughter will be betrothed to King Aegon at birth. They will wed on her sixteenth nameday.”
Sansa would be thrilled. Well, the Sansa he knew before Joffery happened to her would have been thrilled.
“I accept,” Ned said.
“I do as well.”
Jon turned to see Princess Elia at his back. She stood just in front of the Dornish spears guarding the throne. He glanced up to see Prince Oberyn holding Aegon and Rhaenys with Ser Jaime on the throne platform in front of him.
“What did we fight for is House Targaryen remains on the Iron Throne?” Lord Arryn demanded.
“I fought because the Mad King murdered my brother and father,” Uncle Ned said sharply. “With that act, King Aerys committed crimes against the North and the Realm. You fought because the Mad compounded his crimes by demanding mine and Robert’s heads and you refused to give us up to him. Robert fought because he wanted a woman that was never actually his.”
“Lyanna was promised to Robert,” Lord Arryn disagreed.
“My sister is not property,” Ned disagreed sharply. “She is not a toy. Until she was wedded and bedded, she is a member of House Stark under my protection. Prince Rhaegar’s kidnapping of her was a crime against my House, not a crime against Robert or the Realm.”
“You do not agree with betrothals,” Jon realized. Was that why Robb was never promised to anyone? Why none of his cousins were? Other than Sansa, whose hand King Robert had personally demanded for his son.
“I do not,” Ned admitted softly. “If the peace of Westeros did not hinge on it, I would refuse to betroth my daughter.” Ned looked away, frowning.
Jon got the feeling Ned was hoping Sansa would forgive him.
“I do not like it either,” Jon admitted. “But the noble born have authority, power. With that power comes a responsibility to those we rule that overwrites what any of us may want.”
“Well said,” Tywin Lannister chimed in.
“We must end this war,” Princess Elia told them. “Lord Stark, you will write to Lord Stannis Baratheon and order him to King’s Landing for the discussion of peace. I will write to Lord Mace Tyrell and do the same.
“All armies will depart other than those of the North and the Dornish who will guard our Peace Summit. Each Lord Paramount may keep twenty armsmen for their personal defense but the King’s Peace must be kept for negotiations to be held.
“The Realm will have peace.”
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