LADY CATEWYN?: A GAME OF THRONES FAN-FICTION STORY
By Swa-Sa Masou
Word Count: 1,260
Rating: PG for thematic elements
Summary: Catelyn Stark accepts four-year-old Jon Snow into her family and heart.
Note: Jon Snow and Catelyn Stark’s relationship in Game of Thrones bothers me. How can you be that cold to a little boy? I wanted to write a tender moment between the two of them. Maybe the relationship grows colder as he grows older, maybe this is an alternate universe where the relationship is better. You can decide.
Lord Eddard Stark was away from Winterfell again. He had gone to check on a bannerman farther south and had left his wife with their oldest son, Robb, their daughter, Sansa, and his bastard son, Jon. She was heavily with child, and if all the old wives’ tales were to be believed, it was another girl.
This left Lady Catelyn Stark to look after her young ones, and her husband’s illegitimate child. The age difference between Jon and Robb was negligible and the two seemed at the same time inseparable and irreconcilable as brothers and as rivals.
Catelyn tried to stay away from Jon as much as possible, but as her eldest son was always near him, he was not someone she could avoid very well. She was also painfully aware of the whispering of her servants at Winterfell. Ned was considered an honorable man, but his honor left him long enough to betray her. The talk behind closed doors and muttered as serving girls passed by each other wounded Catelyn deeply.
She knew that he had married her out of obligation to his dead brother. She knew that she had married him out of obligation and duty as well. A Tully kept her family and her honor at all costs. However, in their time together, they had grown a dear friendship, then a deep fondness, and now an affection for one another that was increasing into the kind of love she had dreamt of as a young girl.
Jon’s mere presence felt like a poker drawn from the fire and pressed on her heart.
She watched Jon and Robb as she sat nearby and rocked the toddler Sansa. They played together as naturally as brothers could. Jon was not old enough to understand yet; he was fast approaching his fifth nameday and the word “bastard” was not yet among those in his vocabulary. The boys were wrestling and had fallen sideways into the dirt. Another moment and she would interfere for the sake of her son.
Suddenly, Robb began to cry.
“Up! Get up! Sorry!” Jon’s broken vocabulary of a four year old sent chills down Catelyn’s spine. He should not be here. She stood up and went to kneel beside her son, still cradling Sansa against her breast. Robb merely had a scratch across his arm from falling against a rock. Jon’s tears welling in his eyes were of remorse at hurting his brother. Half-brother, Catelyn quickly corrected herself. Half-brother.
Although it was a small injury, not even needing more than the attention of a cold wash-cloth, Catelyn met Jon’s tear-filled, sorrowful eyes with loathing. This child who did not belong here had hurt her son.
“Sorry.” He was trying to reach Robb’s arm, but Catelyn pushed his hand away. The tears spilled over, “So sorry. Robb…”
Catelyn cut him off, “You’ve done enough, Jon Snow.”
The tears came harder now and he ran from her presence. Robb had stopped crying. It was only a scratch after all. He stayed on the ground and watched as Jon ran in the direction of the godswood. “Are you all right, my sweet boy?” Catelyn cooed over Robb as he sat up.
He sniffed softly and nodded. He seemed more upset that his playmate had gone than that he had been hurt, truth be told, as he stared after Jon’s retreating form. Maester Luwin came up behind her with a salve to rub on the small boy’s arm.
“It appears there is a deeper wound than this one. It requires a much different kind of salve.” The old man who she trusted to see to her health and the health of all those in her charge said the words cryptically, but she knew what he meant without much difficulty.
“Are you suggesting, sir, that I have been too hard on my husband’s bastard son?” She stood quickly and motioned to a nearby servant girl to come and collect Sansa.
Maester Luwin stood slowly from Robb, still on the ground, but clearly waiting on the nod from his mother to resume his play time. “No, my dear Lady. I am suggesting that as a human being, you may have reacted too harshly to a four-year-old boy who meant no harm.”
That comment took all of the anger out of her. Whatever anger she had with her husband, whatever hurt she felt at his betrayal, it was not Jon’s fault. He was only a young boy and she was the only mother figure he knew.
“Thank you, Maester, that will be all.” Lady Stark of Winterfell did not like to look the fool. She drew herself up to her full height and stalked away, in the same direction that Jon had just fled.
Catelyn found Jon in front of a quiet pool of water, staring at his reflection. Upon seeing her, he stood as straight and tall as he could and bowed to her. “Lady Catewyn.”
“Catelyn” was too difficult for him to say and the “L” of her name always came out as a “W” when Jon Snow said it.
Catelyn sat down on a fallen tree trunk near to the water. “Why do you call me that, Jon?” She tried to say it as kindly as possible, but she could hear the edge to her own voice and knew it would be plain to his young ears as well.
“Father said not to say Mother.” Jon turned bright red at that. “You Robb’s mum, and Sansa’s. Not mine.” He looked down at the water, where, she realized, he could see his reflection. “Why are you not mine?”
The question caught her off guard. She loathed this boy. She hated that every breath he took was an affront to her marriage, to her loyalty. However, looking at his slight form, looking at the tears he was trying to hold back in her presence, looking at how weak he seemed there in front of her, something broke. “Come here, Jon.”
He looked to her, confusion clear on his face. She had never asked him to come near her before. She patted a space on the trunk next to her and nodded at him.
He came over and pulled himself up. She suppressed a giggle at his attempt at a show of strength, when really he just looked like a silly young boy trying to show off for someone he admired. She realized with a start that this is exactly what he was.
“Jon Snow, you know your name is not Stark. That is something that will never change.” She reached out and put a hand on his shoulder. “Your father loves you, and I love your father. This means that I must choose. I can choose to hurt your father by hurting you, or I can choose to be kind to you, to help your father. This will not be an easy road, Jon Snow, as I am not your mother.” He looked from the hand on his shoulder to her face and back again.
Without warning, he flung his arms around her neck and began to sob into her shoulder. At first, it startled her, frightened her, even, but she soon placed a hand on his back and began to move it in a soothing, circular motion.
Ned Stark came upon the unlikely pair at that moment. He could just barely make out his wife’s voice in the quiet wood: “You are not my blood, Jon Snow, but you are loved. Always know that.”
He stood there, behind a tree for just a moment longer and observed the scene that made his heart swell with joy.