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 WINTERFELL - The White Clasps for the Black Cloak, robb stark, jon snow
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 Posted: Jun 30 2012, 06:38 PM

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Robb Stark
Posted: Mar 4 2012, 03:11 AM
    The Godswood at Winterfell was a special place for so many reasons. Eddard spent a great deal of time out here, and instilled a deep respect for the Old Gods in most of his children. So all of them carried deeply meaningful memories of this place. For being an enclosed forest, as most Godswoods are, Winterfell boasted three acres of space. Robb had never seen another of equal size. No doubt Jon Snow had seen weirwood forests north of the Wall, but all the same it was no surprise that it was here under Winterfell's own heart tree that he found his bastard brother this morning. They'd all just arrived the day before, and of course Robb and Jon had seen one another then. But there hadn't been any time to speak with Jon alone.

    Beside Snow lay Ghost, relaxing with one paw dipped in the hot spring. Ghost knew Robb and Greywind were coming of course, he just didn't seem to be worried about. Neither of the outcasts, Bastard or albino, had enjoyed the warmth of Winterfell or a hot spring for half a year or so. They both earned their complacency now, and Robb wished Snow could stay longer than he likely could. He wished Snow had been with him in the Riverlands. There hadn't been a person in the world Robb missed more out on the march, save for his worry for his father and sisters.

    The morning light lit the Godwoods on fire, which fully embraced autumn colors now. Yellows and oranges now complimented the naturally blood red leaves of the heart tree. Sap pooled and hardened in the heart tree's eyes, giving it red eyes. It wasn't crying today though. How could it? Eddard Stark was home, and the entire family reunited under a single roof once again.

    Each of Robb's steps crunched loudly on dry leaves, announcing his entrance to the clearing by the pool. “Snow!” He said, smiling. He pulled his half-brother into a tight embrace. “I'm glad I found you out here,” he said, pulling away. “I have something for you.” Robb went digging inside a pouch at his side, took Jon's hand, and placed two small silver clasps into his palm. “After we ran the Kingslayer's army off from Riverrun, I had the good fortune to search the Kingslayer's tent myself. I found his white cloak in there. Those are the clasps.”

    Robb placed a hand on Jon's shoulder. “It was a great victory. People are saying it's my great victory. But I made it out of there, though, thanks to all the hours we spent practicing together. And I know, given the choice, you would have been there with me, at my back. It was your victory too. So I wanted you to have those. The white clasps for the Black Cloak.”

Jon Snow
Posted: Mar 25 2012, 05:56 AM
    How strange it was to be back here, strange and familiar at the same time. Even though he had left Winterfell because he never really felt fully accepted there, the place felt so much like home, now that he was back after all this time. Specially the godswood, the heart tree. So many memories were connected with it. Jon had come here, alone, to thank the Gods for the safe return of his father, for Robb's victory, for Bran's recovery and to pray for Arya's and Sansa's well being. And after that he had planned to enjoy the hot spring, as Ghost apparently already did. The direwolf generally wasn't so fond of water but obviously enjoyed its warmth as well.

    When Jon heard the crunching leaves behind him, he turned. "Robb!" he said, returning his smile and got up to embrace him. Robb had been his brother and closest friend since he could remember, and he had been entirely unfazed when he had heard the news at the time that Jon was only a half brother to him. He had been there to console him, many times, when Jon quarreled with his destiny as a bastard, he had been there for pranks and for training, for everything.

    Now Jon looked at him curiously. What was it that his brother had for him? He glanced at the silver clasps Robb had put in his hand, raising an eyebrow til he heard to whom they belonged and why his brother gave them to him. Wordless he enclosed them in a fist and embraced Robb again. "Thank you, brother, you honor me. I wish I had something similar to give you, since our practicing has helped me too." He had been by far the best swordsman among the new recruits up at the Wall which had generated first envy, then respect. He had helped train his new friends as much as he could, even Sam had picked something up by now.

    "But my small victories at the Wall are nothing compared to yours in the field. I've seen father's pride when he looks at you", he smiled. "Are you joining me in the hot spring? I want to hear everything!" Jon started to strip and was in the warm water mere seconds later, leaning back with a sigh. "I wish we had something like that at the Wall..."

Posted: Mar 28 2012, 05:00 PM
    “Why not, eh?” Robb stripped as well and made a small pile of clothing and gear next to Jon's. The hot spring felt so wonderful in the cool autumn air. Come winter, if they weren't all trapped in the south at war, the Stark family would be sharing long lazy afternoons here in the hotsprings. It'd be about the only outdoor activity available to them, and honestly warmer than being indoors unless huddled around a fire. He marveled at the construction of his childhood home. Bran the Builder had been a genius to incorporate the hotsprings into the walls. As far as Robb was concerned it was a crime that Jon wouldn't be able to take advantage of any of it.

    “I'm sure you've heard all about the Whispering Woods already,” Robb settled into the warm water slowly, his elbows propped up on the bank. Greywind plopped down next to Ghost and started grooming his albino brother. They too looked happy to see one another again. “But slightly less famous is my crossing at the Twins. Would that I had the time to go around, but the Kingslayer lay siege to Riverrun, but they wouldn't open the portcullis. For a moment we considered taking it. We had the men, but not the time. No one would let me go inside to parlay either. So my mother went. When she came out I had a Frey squire, four thousand more soldiers, and two marriage contracts. My own and Arya's.” Robb fell silent for a moment at the thought of Arya. She was close to Jon, and he no doubt worried too. “She's going to hate that,” Robb continued. “And I don't know what to think about it either. Black Walder is unhappy that I'm back in Winterfell and have not selected a wife. I can't dodge them forever. I haven't seen any of the girls. I hope they're not ugly. You know Freys and their chins.”

    Robb half frowned and half smiled, keeping it light. It was a strange subject now. He and Jon had talked girls plenty of times in the past. But now Jon swore an oath of celibacy, and Robb had no intention of rubbing that in.

Posted: Mar 28 2012, 06:18 PM
    Lounging in the hot spring with his brother... it was like travelling back into more innocent and less worrisome times, when they were just kids playing here, as they had hours upon hours in the colder time of every year. Jon was really glad about this reunion and even the direwolves seemed to enjoy each other's company.

    Actually Jon really had already heard a lot of stories about the huge victory of the 'Young Wolf' at the Whispering Woods but there were quite some different versions around, and it seemed the further the storyteller had been from the action, the more imaginative the storytelling got. But Robb had his immediate full attention when he started to tell about the Twins, since that was complete news to him, all of it. His eyes widened slightly when his brother talked about the marriage contracts.

    "Oh, she will hate you", Jon confirmed Robb's assumption. Then he half smirked. "And now that she has learned how to survive in the wild, she'll rather join the Wildlings north of the Wall than be tied to a woman's household at the Twins." He also kept the tone light but they both knew there was some truth in it. Arya was simply too young to understand that sometimes sacrifices were necessary. He sighed. "You are paying an expensive price for your victory, brother, but there are so many Frey girls... there has to be one you like, chins or no chins." He closed his eyes briefly, trying to remember any of them but couldn't really.

    "So this is what you'll do now before anything else? Go to the Twins and marry?" Something he would never do now that he had sworn the oath. But maybe it was preferable to not marry at all than to marry someone because political reasons demanded it. Though, as a bastard, the pressure on him was always very light, compared to the one on Robb, the heir of House Stark. "What did father say? Wouldn't he rather prefer a bond like this with the Baratheons?"

Posted: Mar 28 2012, 06:58 PM
    Robb shrugged. “So much has happened, and we've barely had the chance to speak to be honest. He knows, but you know him. I swore an oath, and he's not like to suggest I do anything otherwise. Besides, what Baratheon girl would you suggest? Shireen?”

    Robb didn't dive to deeply into the politics of why he so quickly promised to marry a Frey with the intent to save Riverrun. It was his own grandfather, aunts, uncles, and cousins at risk. Of course Snow knew that and understood. But understandably it didn't carry the same weight. Ironically, Snow lacked the Tully in all the other brothers and sisters. House Stark was his only team, and in a way he was more purely Stark then them all. Not that Robb would ever say that to Catelyn. Or Jon.

    “And I don't know,” Robb continued. “We'll find out what happens in the meeting. I want to go find Arya. The Greatjon thinks it's a waste of a commander though. I feel like I owe it to her. And I worry about her. I'll deal with the Freys when we're all safe. I hear Lord Walder is a family man of sorts. Surely he would understand. Besides, I can't offer Arya to them if I can't find her.”

    "Tell me," Robb tipped his head sideways inquisitively, "How hard is it to get you away from the Wall? If I'm to have a wedding, for better or worse, I would have you there to see it. I hear the Night's Watch has been stirring as of late, but I don't trust rumors. So straight from the source, are they keeping you too busy to see your brother's wedding?"

    Robb thought he knew the answer already. Worse, brother didn't necessarily apply anymore, and as that thought struck him he felt a pang of hurt in his chest. The Night's Watch left family behind and gained a whole knew one. But Robb didn't swear any oaths to disavow Jon, nor did he want to. Especially not with the family in crisis right now.

Posted: Mar 29 2012, 03:34 PM
    "Honestly I rather thought of Arya and Renly, in a few years... but you are right of course, father will have you keep your oath whatever other political scenarios he might have preferred." Jon smirked. "And Arya wouldn't be happy in either case."

    He was letting himself sink under water fully to have the warmth engulf him completely for a few seconds, then came up again, shaking some water off his head and hair, a bit like a wet wolf. "I think you should go after her, one of the family should. Times are strange and I don't really trust anyone else with her. I would go immediately if I could." There was a sliver of regret in his voice. "But I will keep an eye out on my way back up North, maybe Yoren has taken her and the group on some back roads past Winterfell already." Though, if she knew about her destiny, she maybe would try to avoid being found altogether.

    Jon gave Robb a thoughtful look before he answered his question. "I will try everything to be at your wedding, brother. But I have to tell you honestly, strange things are happening at the Wall." He had told his father already but Robb should know as well. "Uncle Benjen... he went out ranging weeks ago and has not returned. The Wildlings are stirring and moving and...", he hesitated if he should really tell him that but ultimately he did, "...and there was a White Walker. I think. At Castle Black."

    All the warmth in this pool couldn't prevent a special kind of cold creeping up his back, remembering that night. "I fought and killed him, barely, he was after the Lord Commander. A former ranger, risen from the dead." He had been lucky, so lucky. "This is why we so urgently need more men. With winter coming... it will be bad up there. So, you see..." He shrugged. "I will try to be there, though, I promise." Jon smiled at him crookedly. "I have to at least see what girl you've picked!"

Posted: Mar 30 2012, 02:36 AM
    “White Walkers?” Robb leaned forward at the news, dropping his arms into the warm water. His casual expression faded quickly. He thought of the deserter executed so long ago, on the day they found Greywind and the direwolves. “And Benjen? No way he's...” missing Robb almost said. Benjen's time as first ranger made him the best tracker and traveler Stark alive. But if not missing, then... “...dead?”

    “No,” Jon answered. Robb didn't think he sounded very certain.

    “I'm at a loss for words.” Robb leaned back again, staring through the water of the hot springs. “But you killed one? The Other.”

    Jon shook his head. “Something, again, a ranger. Walking. I don't know.”

    Robb's jaw clenched. Old stories ran through his mind. Stories of horrors and unending night. But how much could they be trusted? It's been so long since anyone sighted the Others. Long enough that The Young Wolf wanted to disbelieve his own brother. But Jon didn't exaggerate. If he claimed a white walker, he spoke the truth. Locking eyes with Jon he said, “Be careful out there.”

    A silence fell between the two of them, both locked in thought of the battles before them. Robbs seemed insurmountable as the North prepared to take on the Iron Throne. But Jon's... truly unreal. With nothing better to say, he offered, “I understand if you can't make it then. If no, I'll bring her to you.” Robb added, “when I can. But tell me about it. What'd it look like? How'd you do it?”

Posted: Mar 31 2012, 09:21 AM
    "He can't be dead", Jon added with some stubborness in his voice. He had been telling himself that since it was clear that Benjen's return was overdue. Maybe because he feared that if his uncle didn't survive out there... who could? "He'll be back, with some wild story, but he will be back."

    Robb was clearly disturbed about this turn of events. It came on top of all his other worries. And Jon had to admit to himself that he might have a hard time believing storys about White Walkers, Others and Walking Dead, if he hadn't actually lived through it. These were the bedtime storys Old Nan used to tell them, late at night, nothing he had ever seriously considered to be real.

    There was a brief, serious silence between them before Robb continued, wanting to know more. Jon forced himself to relive the details of that night. "He... it was pale and so strong. I stabbed it with my knife, nothing, I cut off his arm, nothing, I ran my sword through its heart." He snorted. "It went down, briefly, then got up again. Fire finally did it. I threw a burning lamp at it." He held up his hand for Robb to see the slight burning scars there. "And it had those eyes, those bright blue eyes..." He shook his head, shivering despite the warmth of the water. "What disturbs me the most: It seemed to have this clear purpose, it wanted to kill the Lord Commander, I was just in the way. It knew exactly where he was..."

    Jon looked at Robb now. "All my fighting skills were worth nothing, I was simply lucky." Then, in a lighter tone, he added: "I'm not sure you should bring your wife to the Wall, just in case." Then he grinned. "Except if you choose so poorly that you are looking for ways to get rid of her. There are a lot of easy ways to die up there."

Posted: Apr 2 2012, 12:09 AM
    Despite the grizzly tale Jon had to share, Robb couldn't help but smile at the joke. “That may well be, Snow. We'll make a deal, if I bring her and scratch my nose twice, show me to the slipperiest part of the top on the windiest night, would you?” Robb winked and grinned.

    But the grin quickly faded. The look of fear and deep concern on jon's face a moment ago told volumes of what was really on the bastard's mind. Worse than tales of it still moving after taking such damage, to believe his brother the white walker moved with intent? Why would it go after the Lord Commander? Jon said it was a ranger in life. Did it react to memories somehow? Or was some force directing it? None of it made sense, but all of it chilled them both to the bone. But even with so many question he didn't want to bring it up further if Jon didn't. Talk would do them nothing in this moment.

    “I'm sure you're right about Benjen though.” Robb tossed a smile at Jon. He knew well that Jon looked up to his uncle, and after taking the black looked on Benjen as closer family than Benjen probably considered Robb. To be thrust upon the wall and to lose the closest connection he had? Jon must feel alone. At least he had Ghost. “Benjen could find his way out of a white walled maze in a snowstorm. He'll come back.” But it was that very fact that made the pit of Robb's stomach churn.

Posted: Apr 2 2012, 03:41 PM
    Jon had to laugh at that. "Deal! Just... at the time, remind me again about the exact number of scratchings so I don't accidentally misinterprete..." This was good. Despite all that had happened, they still had their sense of humor - it was always the best weapon against fear and dread and malice.

    Robb supported his hope for Benjen's safe return but Jon knew that, at least partly, he said it to ease his brother's mind. Of course Jon was terribly worried and he even had had a nightmare after killing this walking corpse. He had been in the courtyard at night when suddenly the heavy gates opened and a hooded rider came through. Benjen! But when he came closer, he realized the eyes, the dead face - and suddenly he had been frozen to the ground, not able to move a finger while the Benjen creature came closer and closer, its intentions unmistakable... Jon swallowed and tried to brush that memory away.

    Then he realized that Ghost was looking at him, intently, as if he was aware of his unease. He smiled at him, then looked at Robb. "Do you also sometimes think, your wolf can read your thoughts? Ghost woke me up that night, you know, the night with the walking dead ranger... if it wasn't for him, the Night's Watch would have to elect a new Lord Commander now." He shook his head. "Oh, did I tell you? They didn't make me a ranger. I was so mad. The master at arms, he really hates me, Ser Alliser Thorne, I don't really know why. Maybe because he hates bastards." Jon shrugged, something he was used to. "They made me a steward. I was so angry, I was ready to leave but one of my friends, Sam, he convinced me that it can be a good thing since I'm the Lord Commanders personal steward. Which means I bring him food and take care of his clothes but I also get to see and hear everything else that happens."

Posted: Apr 30 2012, 07:00 PM
    This encounter had proven to be a more edifying experience than Robb had originally anticipated, in two senses: Firstly, it seemed as though the dreaded White Walkers were not a bit of juggling acted out by the lorekeepers of old, but a gruesome and present reality. And secondly, that Greywind's otherwordly perceptiveness was not a unique one; Jon, too, felt as though Ghost had an innate inclination toward empathy, or perhaps more, a shared consciousness. The idea had often crept its way from the periphery of his daydreams into his daily thoughts, although the utter absurdity of the suggestion sufficed to ward off validating the thought in any way.

    Robb glanced pensively passed Jon's figure, in momentary deliberation as to whether or not to pursue their respective Direwolves as the chief topic of conversation. He decided against the idea, instead referring back to his grievances with his current standing and given position with the Night's Watch,

    "Perhaps it's best you've been appointed the Lord Commander's steward, brother. Imagine the boundless knowledge now readily available to you! Someday, you can enlighten me as to the proper folding methods of a Lord Commander's sheets and blankets while I tell you tales of my victories."

    Jon was less than receptive to Robb's snide attempt at consoling him through humor; Robb's sense of humor was as refined as Hodor's vocabulary. He realized that a genuine expression of concern would be far more appropriate.

    "There will come a time for you as a ranger, I truly believe that Jon, but as for now, you must simply absorb all that you can. Don't allow impatience to squander your potential. Beyond the Wall, the dictates of warfare are void; as you've explained, there are evils infinitely greater than man beyond those walls. And a looming darkness more perturbing than any brought on by Winter alone. "

Posted: May 1 2012, 08:56 AM
    There was something in Robb's glance at him and the wolves that seemed to Jon as if he wanted to say something about that. But then he didn't. Instead he made one of those infamous Robb jokes. Jon gave a slightly tortured smile and hit Robb's naked shoulder with his fist, not too hard but strong enough. The idea of himself as a chamber maid while the great Robb Stark was defending the honors of his House and the borders of the North... not a satisfying thought.

    Robb's next words came quickly though and were more considerate. Jon sighed. "Sam says exactly the same and I suppose you're right. It's just so... frustrating sometimes. Seeing the rangers ride out while I'm stuck at Castle Black, pampering an old man." He let his hands glide through the warm water. "Mormont is okay, though. He is an honorable man and a good leader." Suddenly he remembered, he hadn't Robb shown yet what the Lord Commander had given him. Jon moved through the water over to the pile with their things next to the wolves who looked interestedly at him while he tried to reach the sword without leaving the pleasantly warm water.

    "Look at this", he said when he finally managed to grab it. He moved with the sword over to Robb and held it in his direction. Real Valyrian Steel, and a wolf's head. A beautiful weapon. He still could hardly believe that Mormont had given it to him, the son of the man who had banned the heir of House Mormont to whom it should have gone.

Posted: May 1 2012, 01:12 PM
    Robb had never before seen a blade of true Valyrian Steel apart from Ice, nor had he seen another sword so impeccably constructed. His eyes alternated prudently between the silvery hilt of the weapon, and Jon's facial expression as he also eyed the wolf's head which dominated its design, although it was an altogether ornate object regardless. Robb had occasionally been referred to as The Young Wolf, but some part of him thought this weapon could belong to no other man but his brother; Jon was no steward, Mormont had as much in mind for the future of his brother as Robb did. He would one day quite soon be a man worthy of wielding such an austere weapon. Robb grinned solemnly, understanding all at once that his brother would become a great and loyal ranger, though it could not have occurred at a more precarious time in the history of Westeros.

    "I can't help but assume Mormont went through the trouble of altering this blade to be more fitting of you, Jon." Rob snickered facetiously, "I don't believe bears have much in common with wolves. A suitable alteration, indeed."

    Robb hesitantly removed his hand from the warm waters engulfing his body, reaching instead toward the pommel of the weapon. "Would you mind very much if I held it for a bit?" He questioned lightheartedly. Jon simply nodded his head in affirmation.

    The sword had an ethereal nimbleness to it, oddly light. Keenly balanced. Mostly though, the sword exuded a sort of energy Robb had never experienced. It felt as if waves of turbulence were permeating from its hilt, through his arm and into his chest. This type of weapon was no mere tool of combat: It was a corporeal extension of the wielder's body.

    "You are truly fortunate to have been given such an extraordinary thing, brother. I can think of no man more deserving of such a sword. " Robb thought for a moment of running his finger along the blade, something that in any other instance he would be more than comfortable doing, having been raised in the presence of weapons for as long as he could remember. But something about the sheerness and majesty of this one repelled him. Wise hunters are proven wiser in steering clear of the wolf's mouth, for even after they've been dispatched of, that jagged keenness remains.

    "Well then, all great swords have a name. Have you given any thought to this one?"

Posted: May 3 2012, 02:51 PM
    Jon could see that Robb was impressed. And his brother noted the wolf's head immediately. That Mormont had gone to such trouble continued to impress Snow to no end. When Robb asked if he could hold it, Jon carefully handed it over to him and watched him admire it.

    "You are right, I am fortunate. I guess, the Lord Commander felt he had to give me something in return for his life but... this sword is the heirloom of House Mormont. It was supposed to go to Mormont's son. I don't think I deserve it yet. But I intend to prove that I do", he said, seriously and solemnly. Though to do that, he would have to get out more of Castle Black than a steward usually did. But who knew what the future would hold?

    A name... "I know, I've been working on that. But I haven't really used it for anything yet. It feels as if the name will come to me when I have proven myself with it." He looked from the steel to Robb. "I am open to suggestions though if you have any." Hopefully his brother wouldn't use the opportunity to make some more bad steward jokes.

    He let his brother hold the blade and moved back to a more comfortable sitting position in the warm water. The wolves were peacefully lying next to the water, eyes half closed, ears constantly twitching with any sound. "They are growing fast. How large do you think are they going to get?" They had seen the dead female direwolf the day where they had found the pups but these were male ones, supposedly they grew even larger. "It wasn't easy to have the people at the Wall getting used to Ghost."
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