Nineteen Years Later
Winter was coming, again. But the autumn day was crisp and golden as one of Sansa’s lemon cakes, and the little family bobbed across the rumbling Kingsroad toward the King’s Landing carriage depot. A large cage rattled on top of the laden hand wagons the parents were pushing; inside it, a tiny dragon roared. A direwolf pup trotted beside them. The white-haired girl trailed tearfully behind her brothers, clutching her father’s arm.
“It won’t be long, and you’ll be going too,” Jon told her.
“Two years,” sniffed Viserya. “I want to go now!”
The people of King’s Landing cowered in terror before their queen as the family wove its way toward Platforms 9 and 10. Jorah’s voice drifted back to Jon over the surrounding clamor; his sons had resumed the argument they had started in the Red Keep.
“I won’t! I won’t be in the Night’s Watch!”
“Eddard, give it a rest!” said Daenerys.
“I only said he might be,” said Eddard, grinning at his younger brother. “There’s nothing wrong with that. He—”
But Eddard caught his mother’s eye and fell silent. The five Targaryens approached the platform for the royal carriage, a crowd of low-folk milling about before them. With a slightly cocky look over his shoulder at his younger brother, Eddard took the trolley from his mother, raised his sword, and—his direwolf pup running beside him—slammed into the peasants with a delighted squeal. A moment later, he had vanished into the frightened crowd.
“You’ll write to me, won’t you?” Jorah asked his parents immediately, capitalizing on the momentary absence of his brother.
“We’ll send a raven every day, if you want us to,” said Daenerys.
“Not every day,” said Jorah quickly. “Eddard says most people only get ravens from home about once a month.”
“We wrote to Eddard three times a week last year,” said Daenerys.
“And you don’t want to believe everything he tells you about the Citadel,” Jon put in. “He likes a laugh, your brother.”
The crowd of peasants still blocked their path. Luckily, Drogon was right where Daenerys had parked him, and with a quick “Dracarys!” the path was clear, the platform revealed behind clouds of blood and smoke.
“Where are they?” asked Jorah anxiously over the screams, peering at the hazy, scorched forms they passed as they made their way down the platform.
“We’ll find them,” said Daenerys reassuringly.
A group of four people emerged from the smoke, standing alongside the very last carriage. Their faces only came into focus when Jon, Daenerys, Viserya, and Jorah had drawn right up to them.
“Parked all right, then?” Tormund asked Jon. “I did. Brienne didn’t believe I could find the station. She thought I’d get lost and fly into a rage.”
“No, I didn’t,” said Brienne. “I had complete faith in you.”
“As a matter of fact, I did get lost,” Tormund, who had only recently received his dragon’s license, whispered to Jon, as together they lifted Jorah’s trunk and dragon onto the carriage. “Took a right at Flea Bottom and got stuck on the Street of Silk. I should still be there, whoring! But I’m not,” he added with a hearty laugh.
Back on the platform, they found Tormund and Brienne’s children, Beric and Hugo the Bonebreaker, having an animated discussion about life at the Citadel. Catching Jon’s eye, Daenerys nodded covertly to a point some 50 yards away. The smoke had thinned for a moment, and three people stood in sharp relief against the shifting haze.
“Look who it is.”
Cersei Lannister was standing there with her brother and daughter, a dark coat buttoned up to her throat. Her hair was still cut in a sensible bob; his hand still gleamed, despite the damage it had sustained when they barely escaped the collapse of the Red Keep. The new girl resembled Cersei as much as Jorah resembled Jon. Cersei caught sight of Jon, Tormund, Brienne, and Daenerys staring at her, nodded curtly, and turned away again.
“So that’s little Tywina,” said Tormund under his breath. “Make sure you beat her in every test, Beric. Thank God you inherited your mother’s brains.”
“Tormund, for heaven’s sake,” said Brienne, half stern, half amused. “Don’t try to turn them against each other before they’ve even started school!”
Jon stared up at the sun, still so unfamiliarly warm here in King’s Landing. “It’s nearly noon, you’d better get on board.”
“Don’t forget to give Sam our love!” Daenerys told Eddard as she hugged him.
“Mum! I can’t give a maester love!”
“But you know Sam—”
Eddard rolled his eyes.
“Outside, yeah, but at school he’s Archmaester Tarly, isn’t he? I can’t walk into the library and give him love….”
Daenerys kissed Jorah goodbye.
“See you at the harvest feast.”
“Bye, Jorah,” said Jon as his son hugged him. “Don’t forget Gilly’s invited you for a bread bowl next Friday. Don’t let your dragon burn your dorms down. Stay inside at night—remember, no one can see anything once it gets dark. And don’t let Eddard wind you up.”
“What if I’m sent to the Night’s Watch?”
The whisper was for his father alone, and Jon knew that only the moment of departure could have forced Jorah to reveal how great and sincere that fear was.
“I was in the Night’s Watch,” said Jon, “and it made me the man I am today. Yes, they stabbed me to death, but they were also my brothers.” Jorah still looked frightened. Jon crouched down so that Jorah’s face was slightly above his own. Of Jon’s three children, Jorah alone had inherited the Targaryen purple eyes.
“Jorah Rhaegal,” Jon said quietly, so that nobody but Daenerys could hear. “Sometimes the thing we fear most, like the Night King and his unstoppable army of the dead, turns out not to be that big a deal in the end.”
Jorah jumped into the carriage and Daenerys closed the door behind him. Students were cowering in the windows nearest them. A great number of faces, both on the carriage and off, seemed to be turned toward Jon and Daenerys. The faces were full of terror, and many wept bitter tears.
“Why are they all staring?” demanded Jorah as he and Hugo the Bonebreaker craned around to look at the other students.
“Don’t let it worry you,” said Tormund. “It’s me. I’m extremely famous. Probably because of the time I spent three months suckling giant’s milk. Did I ever tell you that story? The one where your father murdered a giant and then tricked his wife into letting me, your father, nurse at her breast?”
The carriage began to move, and Jon walked alongside it, watching his son’s thin face, already ablaze with excitement. Jon kept smiling and waving, even though it was like a little bereavement, watching his son glide away from him….
The last hoofbeat evaporated in the autumn air. The carriage rounded a corner.
Jon’s hand was still raised in farewell.
“He’ll be all right,” murmured Daenerys. “And if he’s not, well, Valar Morghulis.”
As Jon looked at her, he lowered his hand absentmindedly and touched the scar on his chest from the time he was stabbed to death but miraculously came back to life.
The scar had not pained Jon for nineteen years. All was well.
The Game of Thrones TV Club Recaps Season 8
Watch Game of Thrones on Sunday nights. Then listen to recaps with June Thomas, Sam Adams, Dan Kois, and other Slatesters every Monday.Join Slate Plus