It was almost time to leave for King’s Landing.
Eddard’s farewell to Bran was followed by our own farewell; to him, and all of the Starks who were going to stay at Winterfell.
“Why don’t you go on ahead?” I said to Jon as we stood outside of the Godswood. “I wish to gaze upon the heart tree one more time.”
Jon nodded and left without a word. He seemed a bit leery of me after I had informed him of my preternatural gifts. The thought was a bit disconcerting, but I shoved it away. He’ll come around eventually. It was a huge subject, after all.
After a bit of time, he’ll realize I won’t be cutting his belly open so I could gaze into his future through his intestines; or whatever other sick stories his Old Nan had filled his head with.
His father, Eddard, had taken it well enough— the fact that I saved his boy from the life of a cripple had just a teensy little bit to do with it.
A pragmatic man, if nothing else.
The Godswood had become familiar to me over the past few weeks; I easily made my way to the heart tree at its center. I remembered the first time I laid eyes on it. A beautiful tree with a thrum of power all its own.
But I felt something else inside of it.
I placed my hand on the tree’s face— carved into it, thousands of years ago— and linked my energy to it.
“I know you’re there. Raven. You are the Raven, are you not? I saw you in Bran’s vision.” I asked.
“Stop hiding from me. I’m not your enemy.” I tried.
I sighed and removed my hand from the tree. Was I wrong? Was the presence a figment of my imagination.I shook my head and walked away.
Then, I felt it.
It was faint, but I felt it for sure. I rushed back to the tree and linked my power with it once more.
“Hello?” I thought, not really expecting an answer.
Hello. The tree answered back in an old, raspy voice.
My breath hitched, my heart quickened, but I quickly mastered myself.
“You are Raven? The one I saw in Bran’s vision.” I asked.
Yes. The tree answered. What are you? You are not of this world.
“I’m a stranger.” I said. “I wish to go home. Do you know how?”
Magic coils around you in such a way that I have never seen— and I have seen much. Raven did not answer my question. Perhaps you will be the one to combat the coming Darkness.
“You think I’m just some lapdog here to do your bidding and fight your enemies?” I snarled. “Or…”
I considered the possibilities and felt hatred and anger build in my chest.
“Are you the one who brought me here?” I said with barely suppressed rage.
I am not. Raven said.
“Oddly convenient, how I show up just in time to fight an army of the dead and these White Walkers of yours.” I countered.
True. Raven admitted as much, patient as can be. But I did not do it. Your arrival here was a complete surprise— many of my plans have gone to the wayside with your arrival. Things are progressing much faster than I believed they would.
The consciousness seemed almost… Irritated?
“I’ll bite.” I sighed and forcefully calmed myself down. “What’s going faster?”
Your arrival. It triggered something. Raven said. Magic has almost dwindled into nothingness, but, with your arrival, it is stronger now than it has been for the past few centuries. I feel my own power rising by the day, as well. No doubt, many of the practitioners to the east are strengthened, most notably the Red Priests of R’hllor. To the North… The Others are also amassing their forces to attack.
“Those beings I saw in the void—”
Yes. Raven confirmed. Let me show you.
What happened next could only be describe as an icy cold sensation covering me whole; almost exactly like a pensieve. Was I about to be shown memories?
No, young mage. Raven rasped. You wished to behold your enemies.
I found myself standing in the snow. As far as the eye could see, there was snow. The breeze changed direction suddenly, and my bile immediately leapt up my throat. This smell— no, it wasn’t just a smell; my energy had linked to it.
To horrific results.
I fought to rein myself in as I took in my enemy’s true nature. The cloying stench of rot and decay battered at my senses. It was a strange rot, eternal and so, so cold. I felt it creep up my own being, and flared my power in response, driving it away like sunlight to a vampire.
Your enemy. Raven’s voice echoed in the lands as I watched the owners of the stench march forth in the snow, not even realizing I was there. Thousands upon thousands of dead bodies, animated by the magic of these Others— there was one.
A female White Walker, she stopped for a moment, letting me get a good look at her features. She had skin as white as the moon and eyes, blue as the sky. Her face, expressionless. Cold. Alien.
Not a shred of humanity to her.
She looked at me for a few moments with unblinking intensity, before resuming her walk, her eyes glued to mine until I could see them no more as she rejoined the head of the army of the dead, climbing onto a giant spider.
Ice Acromantulas? Hell…
That is one of your enemies. I heard Raven’s voice in my head as I found myself elsewhere, watching a man surrounded by men and women in crimson robes. And this is another.
The man was screaming, crying for a reprieve as the funeral pyre beneath him caught fire. The smell of smoke and burning flesh hit my nostrils, making me choke slightly. The noise made them all look my direction, eyes black as night.
They said something in a strange language— High Valyrian from the sound of it— but I understood the name “R’hllor” well enough. Fire suddenly surrounded me from all sides, but I dispelled it with a swing of Erebus, ending the connection and sending me all the way back to the heart tree in Winterfell.
I am not the one who brought you here. Raven said again. And, I do not know if the heralds of fire and ice have done the same. However, they have been aware of your existence the moment of your arrival, and they will not rest until you have been killed— or worse.
My eyes narrowed, remembering the Great Other’s attempt to control me in the void.
“They have no idea who it is exactly they’re playing with.” I snarled.
Indeed. Raven said wryly. Know that I will aid you in any way I can, Harry Potter.
“Why help me?” I asked suspiciously.
Raven was silent for a few moments. I had believed to be only capable of defeating the Others, but not R’hllor. But you… Your song is different. Yours is not of ice. It is not of fire. It is not of ice and fire. Your song is of ice, fire and lightning. The best choice.
“… A song of ice, fire and lightning?” I repeated confused. “What the hell does that even mean, old man?”
You must go. Raven said. Someone has been trying to speak to you for the past ten seconds.
“Wait, I—” That was as far as I got before Raven broke the connection, retreating away from the tree, far to the north of the Wall until I lost track of him completely.
“—rry?” I heard Jon’s voice. “Harry.”
“W-what?” I said, taking a moment to reorient myself. “You stayed behind?”
“No.” Jon said, looking a little amused. “They’ve begun the march to King’s Landing. I told father I would come collect you. They’re not waiting for us.”
“Oh!” I hurriedly followed the fellow teen to the stables. Hodor was already there, holding Geryon’s rein as well as Jon’s horse’s rein. I flashed the big man a grin.
“Thank you so much, Hodor!” I smiled, dug my hand in my gold pouch, and gave him ten gold dragons, to his surprise and widening eyes. “Here.”
“Hodor!” Hodor exclaimed before trying to hand the money back. “Hodor.”
I pushed back, overpowering the giant man’s strength— something Jon noticed— easily and closing his hand on the coins.
“You’ve been nothing short of amazing with Geryon.” I smiled, patting the much older man on the shoulder. “Take it, do whatever you want with it, okay?”
He still looked dubious, but managed a small smile and a nod, before pocketing the coins. “Hodor.”
I nodded back and leapt on Geryon’s back as Jon mounted his own horse. “I will see you again when I come back, my friend.”
Hodor shouted us goodbye in Hodor fashion as we rode out to catch up with the King’s court. The ride was silent, and bit on the long side. How long had I been communing with the heart tree?
Eventually, we saw the small army of Stark, Baratheon, and Lannister banner men in the distance and breathed a sigh of relief and slowed our horses down to a leisurely trot, letting them recover from the long run.
“Jon.” I said.
“Yes?” He turned away from Ghost, who had been running alongside us, to look at me. “Something the matter?”
“Oh, no.” I replied. “I was just wondering about King’s Landing. Do you know anything of it?”
“I’ve never been.” Jon admitted. “But I have heard it stinks both physically and of corruption from the many who’ve visited Winterfell over the years.”
“That so?” I said. “I read that there are whole skeletons of dragons in the throne room— or there were, until King Robert removed them.”
Jon grimaced, but said nothing. I understood why.
“I know.” I said. “I wasn’t expecting some fat shit to be King, either.”
“Harry!” Jon whispered loudly, looking a little panicked.
“What?” I gave him an incredulous look. “They’re all far ahead from us. No one can hear us, here.”
“Still…” Jon said stubbornly.
I smiled indulgently, but didn’t push the issue, as we had finally reached the small army of men. The people gave us curious looks, but let us pass, having recognized us. We passed a few carriages, which probably had Arya and Sansa— as well as the Septa Mordane, a woman I didn’t really talk to— and the wheelhouse likely containing the disgraced former Queen and the former Prince.
A few minutes later, we reached the head of the large convoy.
“Jon. Harry.” Ned greeted us.
“Lord Ned.” “Father.” Jon and I replied.
Robert seemed to find my greeting amusing. “Lord Ned, he says.”
“I’ve brought Harry.” Jon said unnecessarily, but dutifully.
“So I see.” Ned said, before eying me. “What kept you?”
“Apologies. I was praying by the heart tree and lost track of time.” I smiled and slightly ducked my head.
“No harm done.” Ned said, before pointing to two spots a row behind him. They were empty.
We understood easily enough and assumed our positions. And so started the long, boring trek to King’s Landing. If I was riding alone, the trip would have most likely taken me a week.
According to the maps I’ve read, King’s Landing was almost two thousand miles away, possibly even more. So, if we maintained this speed, it would take us over a month to reach our destination.
Maybe two, I redid my calculations. We could only probably cover thirty miles a day, obviously. We were on horses, but there were plenty of infantry and servants on foot.
Another few hours passed slowly before the march was interrupted once more.
“Halt!” We heard someone yell from a fair bit away.
A man rode to the head of the convoy to address the King.
“Your Grace…” The soldier said nervously— he probably drew the short straw.
“Yes?” King Robert blathered impatiently. “Out with it!”
“The Queen’s wheelhouse—”
“Former Queen.” Robert reminded him with a glare.
“A-Ah, yes!” The soldier stammered. “I apologise Your Grace. The Former Queen’s wheelhouse, sire. It’s broken down. The wheel has broken.”
“I swear…” Robert grumbled. “Why I agreed to take the woman as far as the River Road is beyond me. Not worth this hassle.”
“Your Grace…” The soldier tried.
“Should have simply sent her away with the Lannister banner men.” Robert continued as if he wasn’t even there.
“Your Grace.” The soldier tried again, the irritation he felt likely giving him some confidence.
“Still standing here?” The King glared and the soldier wilted. “Have the servants repair that damned wheelhouse.”
“Yes, Your Grace.” The nameless soldier scurried away in fear.
King Robert shook his head, grumbling some more.
This was going to be a long march.
I was irritated.
Really, really, really irritated.
This was the fourth time that shitty wheelhouse had broken down, and stopped us from marching. Every time this happened, we had to wait a few hours for the chicken shit servants to figure out how to fix it.
Another reminder of the absolute inferiority of the people living here. Over eight thousand years of rich history and they still couldn’t figure out how to fix a damn wheelhouse.
Honestly, at this point, it was probably a miracle they had enough brains to even create the wheelhouse in the first place.
The first three times, I was happy that the former Queen Cersei was pissing off the King with every successive break which occurred. The King had even said she would be forced to ride alongside everyone else if this happened once more.
He didn’t follow through with his threat. All he did was grumble ineffectually.
Some King he was.
So, today, while the Queen and the Prince were out doing something else, I went to the carriage and helped the peasants fix the damn thing.
It took a few seconds to find that it was a broken axle this time. A quick muttered “Reparo” had the axle good as new. I followed up with an application of “Pati” on the whole wheelhouse.
It glowed slightly, but the sun shone so strong today no one saw it.
There. That fixes this stupid contraption. I breathed a sigh of relief, before turning to the peasants, who had come back with whatever I had tasked them to retrieve. It was a ploy to keep them away.
“You can take those back.” I waved them off. “I fixed it, myself.”
“Potter, the peasant mender?” A voice crowed from the side. I turned to see Joffrey gazing at me with his malicious gaze; a sword at his side, and that horribly scarred man, too.
It was an imposing look— if I was a little kid who was easily cowed.
“If it isn’t the former Heir to the Iron Throne! At least, Joffrey, I’m good for something. Unlike you.” I smiled back maliciously.
“What did you just say to me?” Joffrey said threateningly, hand on his sword.
“I said that you’re useless.” I dusted off my hand. “What are you going to do about it?”
“I should kill you where you stand!” Joffrey almost snarled.
“You couldn’t fight your way out of a paper bag.” I taunted.
“But, by all means, go ahead.” I smirked and glanced at Sandor Clegane. That was his name. He was also known as the Hound. Rumor had it that his elder brother, the horrible Gregor Clegane, had shoved his face into a fireplace, which was why he was disfigured.
Pretty horrific story.
I put my hand in my pocket, grabbing hold of my wand as Joffrey turned to his loyal bodyguard.
“Rictusempra.” I whispered and a faint silver light shot out and hit the boy, who doubled over, laughing hysterically.
“Um.” I feigned confusion, before addressing Sandor. “What’s wrong with him?”
“AHAHAHAHAHAHA! I CAN’T STOP!” Joffrey crowed with glee.
“I—” Sandor looked absolutely dumbfounded. “I have no idea.”
“D-D-HAHAH! D-Dog! G-Get- HAHAHAH!” Joffrey tried to speak but kept breaking into raucous laughter every time.
This time, I couldn’t help the smug smirk that spread on my face.
“What a waste of my time.” I walked away, as people began to crowd around the boy.
I shook my head in amusement and cancelled the spell, hearing the laughter disappear in an instant.
“Move aside!” I heard his shrill yell, followed by the slamming of the wheelhouse’s door.
“Oh, it’s unspeakable to you!?” King Robert almost shouted.
We were currently taking a short break— we had been marching for five hours straight and stopped at a large, open clearing. We were making good time, already having passed by The Twins. In a few days, we’d reach the Crossroads Inn, and Cersei and her brat Joffrey would piss off for good.
After that prank on Joffrey, I decided to follow up with a few more.
I thanked Fred and George, wherever they were. The day after our altercation, I had snagged him with a Tarantallegra while Arya and the butcher’s boy, Mycah, were sparring against Jon.
Joffrey had shown up with his eternal bodyguard Sandor, and challenged the butcher’s boy to a fight, using live steel blades. Arya tried to yell her way out of the situation but the former Heir was having none of it— he was still a Prince, Heir or not.
Jon couldn’t really say anything. His status as bastard was quite the annoyance.
So I threw the Dancing Feet Spell on Joffrey. The results were hilarious. The fool boy hand moonwalked his way to the water, screeching in confusion and fear the whole time before tripping and falling in the water, back first.
Of course, I cancelled the spell as soon as he was submerged. It would not do for the Prince to drown, no matter how much I disliked his bullying.
A few days later I threw the Confundus Charm on him while he was picking on his younger sister while Tommen, the new Heir, wasn’t there to stop him. It left him prone to suggestions, and he had followed Myrcella’s suggestion to the letter by jumping out of the carriage and planting his face in the mud for a few moments, before he regained his bearings and ran back to his wheelhouse in shame.
I left him alone, after that.
It was getting a little boring, all things considered. He was such an easy target, there was no more challenge in it.
I stared as King Robert and Ned argued while eating lunch. I was one of the assigned guards, made to stand close enough to defend them— as if anyone would attack a group of this size— but far enough I wouldn’t hear them.
But I had some pretty good hearing.
§The fact that you used a spell helps.§ Balthazar quipped.
“Shut up Balthazar.” I quickly said as the two men argued further.
“What her father did to your family.” Robert said as Ned looked away with a pained grimace. “That was unspeakable.”
“What Rhaegar Targaryen did to your sister!” Robert snarled. “The woman I loved!”
He took a breath. “I’ll kill every Targaryen I get my hands on.”
I frowned at the statement. I mean, I understood the need to get rid of possible threats to his throne, but to kill those in exile… Wasn’t that taking things a little too far?
“Well, you can’t get your hands on this one, can you?” Ned asked calmly, probably of a same mind as I was.
“This Khal Drogo.” Robert continued unabated. “It’s said he has a hundred thousand men in his horde.”
“Even a million Dothraki are no threat to the Realm.” Ned replied dismissively. “As long as they remain on the other side of the Narrow Sea.” His voice rose slightly. “They have no ships, Robert!”
“There are still those in the Seven Kingdoms who call me Usurper.” Robert said more quietly as Ned calmed down. “A Targaryen boy crosses with a Dothraki horde at his back… The scum will join him!”
“He will not cross.” Ned insisted contemptuously. “And, if by chance he does, we’ll throw him back into the sea.”
Robert gave his friend a long look, before grabbing his mug and taking a long swig. “There’s a war coming, Ned. I don’t know when. I don’t know who we’ll be fighting. But it’s coming.”
Targaryens in the east. Lannisters from the west. Dissenters in the ranks, especially in Dorne. Despite all of his faults, at least Robert was wise enough to know that war was inevitable.
Today was the day we reached the crossroad between the Kingsroad and River Road, where Cersei and her son would break off from our convoy and head west to Casterly Rock, becoming Tywin Lannister’s problem, and not ours.
Joffrey, when I wasn’t jinxing him, was still prowling around, antagonizing anyone he laid his eyes on.
Arya, Jon, Mycah and I had found a spot to train. Arya and Mycah were just fighting as all silly children do— clash blades together thinking they were in some amazing, world changing fight.
Jon and I, on the other hand, only clashed blades to block and parry strikes which were unavoidable.
The two of us were of a similar build, and fought the same way for the most part.
I had even bestowed a measure of power on him, after a few weeks of arguing.
He had been against the idea since day one. My magic frightened him, I knew this. He seemed leery of Bran for the short while he had discovered of the boy’s own powers.
With me, he was less talkative, more careful in how he dealt with me.
But he eventually warmed back up to me, when he realized I wasn’t going to slit his throat in his sleep, or chop his nut sack off for some ritual or whatever these backwater shits thought. I supposed with the nature of magic in these lands, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the attitude toward it.
Warming up to me was one thing, but accepting the gift of my power was another thing entirely.
For weeks, he had changed the subject whenever I brought it up. When he couldn’t, he simply refused. After his sixth refusal, I upped the ante in our spars. I unleashed half of my true speed on the fellow teen, completely overwhelming him each and every time we fought.
When I was done showing him my superiority in sheer speed, I then demonstrated my physical strength by using a single hand to directly block all of his two handed sword strikes. No misdirection, no parries; just full frontal blocks.
He seemed too angry to want to talk to me, but I kept massacring him in our spars.
After a few days of that, I finally told him why I wanted to give him some of my power. I couldn’t be expected to fight the Others on my own, and I needed his help.
He ended up giving me reluctant consent.
“You won’t regret it.” I had told him, placing my hand over his heart, transfering energy into him— unaligned energy, rather than my Lightning.
Nothing happened for a few moments, but then a ball of sky blue flame exited from Jon’s hand, striking a tree and setting it ablaze.
Jon had been horrified as I quickly drenched it with water.
It took a few sharp slaps, as well as many promises of training, to calm the fellow teenager down. And so, I trained him in the use of his flames at night, making sure to be away from prying eyes.
It was pretty inconvenient, all things considered, but secrecy had to be maintained if we wanted to avoid being lynched— or at least being under the threat of being lynched.
Still, I thought to myself as I parried one of Jon’s strikes— the energy had also made him faster and stronger, though nowhere near my level— he was a child of the North, of the ice, but he had powers over fire.
I was reminded of the Raven’s words; a song of ice and fire.
Tch. The ramblings of an ancient tree entity. What did it matter?
There were more important things to be done.
I left my foot out and Jon tripped over it, but catching himself quickly enough to block the swipe I had aimed at his head.
I smiled, and attacked again.
Whatever was coming, we’d be ready for it.