What Ned was excepting when he made it to the top of the Tower and found Lyanna, he would never be able to say but what he found certainly was not it. Certainly Ned never imagined that he would find Lyanna in a bed with blue roses and blood and two children. Ned nearly fell to the floor as he realized what that meant, what had been done to his sister by Rhaegar. And Ned realized what all the blood around Lyanna meant, he remembered his mother and how she had died after Benjen but he refused to believe it. Refused to accept that he would lose Lyanna to after all that had been done to get her back.
Ned stumbled over to the bed and fell to his knees beside it and grasped her hand in one of his, careful not to dislodge the children but needing to touch her. Needing to know that she was truly before him after so long.
"Lyanna." Her name was more moan then word and her smile was more grimace of pain then a smile of joy.
"I'm sorry, Ned.. I love Rhaegar...I couldn't marry Robert, I knew what kind of husband he would be.. What kind of man and then I met Rhaegar and...we fell in love and.. I had to be with him...I'm sorry that I hurt you and our family though...I know that I brought dishonor to the Starks...To the North but...I love him so I married him. We married in the godswood and we...The Heart tree was our witness along with...Arthur...I wish you hadn't killed him, Ned. Arthur was a good man and he loved me...He was just protecting me and the ..children."
"I know..I...We thought that Rhaegar had taken you but...The children.."
"They are my children, Ned..Aemon and Visenya...They were made from love...We loved each other so much, Ned...I know he's dead...I felt him die and I...I must go to him now. Bury me in Winterfell..Don't let my body stay here...Take me home, Ned."
"No. No, Lya, fight. You are the strongest woman...the strongest person I have ever met...You cannot leave me alone, Lyanna. I need you."
"Your not alone, Nedie. You have Brandon and Benjen and Father...I am alone without Rhaegar...I need him like I need air and...Ned, you and Ashara...and the child she bore you...Raise them for me. Don't let them be raised in Kings Landing. Aerys is...mad and I don't want him around my children and the Martells...They might hurt them."
"Brandon...Lyanna, father and Br...Lyanna, you will raise your own children and you will be a wonderful mother and..You must fight and live." Ned could not tell her what had happened to their family, could not take any strength she had left
"I cannot...Promise me, Ned. Raise them and protect them from everything that would harm them... Promise me, Ned."
Ned couldn't help but to start to cry as Lyanna's voice began to fade with every word she spoke, more a whisper than anything, and he was forced to watch as she slowly seemed to wither and fade away right in front of him. After everything he had done to save Lyanna, Ned knew that he was watching her die right on front of him. Lyanna would die and there was nothing he could do to stop it...Save give her comfort so that was what he would do,made easier by the fact that Ned would willing kill anyone that even looked at his new niece and nephew for the simple fact that they were all that he would have left of Lyanna and that they were family. Ned had lost quite enough family.
"I promise..I will protect them with my life..."Ned saw Lyanna smile and grabbed her hands and kissed them desperately." Lya, I love you so much, I.."Ned saw Lyanna's vacant yes and let out a howl of pure grief and rage. His sister was dead. His brother was dead and his father was dead. The Seven Kingdoms had bleed and the Targaryen dynasty had all come to and end all to rescue someone who had never needed rescuing and who had died anyway. It wasn't right and it wasn't fair. Ned started to sob, letting go of the grief that had consumed him since he had heard of Lyanna's supposed kidnapping and then the death of his father and brother.
Ned looked at the babies once he managed to stop crying and couldn't believe all that had happened to lead him to this place. to staring at the rightful King and Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. It was them, not Robert who should be ruling but he knew that it could never be. Even if Ned would go to war against his friend, rise the North in the name of his niece and nephew he would never be able to win. Not alone. Not to mention that if he would declare them as Targaryen, he would be endangering them and he had no doubt that Tywin would seek to kill them as he had Aegon and Rhaenys. Ned had promised to keep them safe and they would be as far from safe as possible if the world knew that they were Targareyn.
"No. You cannot be Aemon and Visenya anymore...but who can you be." Ned picked up the children, awkwardly balancing the both of them. The girl had the Targaryen silver hair while having the Stark eyes while the boy had brown hair and violet eyes. Ned didn't know how to protect them, didn't know what was the best way to keep them safe but he knew the first thing that was needed. New names. For the boy it was easy. Jon in honor of his foster father as it was to early to name after his father or brother as their names still brought him pain and he would not feel pain every-time he heard his nephew's name. Even though Ned knew that they would bring him pain for the reminder they would bring him of Lyanna.
The girl was not so easy though until Ned remembered who Lyanna had always loved and admired when told stories of their ancestors. Queen Arya of the North. The only Queen to ever rule the North in her own right three thousand years before Aegon came. Queen Arya had ruled after her father had died and the North had flourished under her rule for fifty years. Lyanna had always enjoyed the stories about the Stark Queen and enjoyed stories of her namesake Arya Stark, the Lost Princess. The princess that had been promised to Aenys Targaryen after Torhenn had knelt. That Arya had been sent South to wed the Prince but after she had crossed the Neck she had disappeared. And was never to be seen again. Aegon searched all of his new Kingdom for her and Torrhen nearly rebelled against his new King in her name but in the end not a single thing was ever turned up. The Lost Princess had vanished without a trace along with the hundred men that had been sent with her.
Lyanna would have liked to have her daughter named thusly so that what Visenya became. Arya.
Arya and Jon. His niece and nephew.
Now if only the rest of it would come to him and help him find a way to protect his family from any that could harm them in any knew that Robert would kill Jon and Arya and would not regret. For Ned had seen the true side to his friend the day that the Lannisters had laid the bodies of Rhaegar's first children and had been happy, he had called a months old baby dragonspawn and had not blinked at the three year old that had dozens of stab wounds in her. Ned had seen what Lyanna had seen and he had been disgusted by it. By Robert. The man that Ned had grown up with, had wanted to marry his sister to, the man that Ned had thought he had known would never have been happy about such a thing. That man would have killed Tywin for ordering such a thing. Not talking about rewarding him for 'services' to the realm. Ned would never forget that and would never trust Robert again.
Not with his family, not with the truth of...The truth. Ned would not be able to tell anyone the truth of who the children were but he could still claim them as family, as his family. Ned would claim them as his base-born children and would raise them as such so no one would ever question who the twins are. After all, if 'honorable' Ned Stark claims them as his children, they must be. It wasn't the most intelligemt solution but it was the perfect one. Who should he claim as their mother though. Not to mention how would he feed them.
Ned didn't yet know what to do about the twins but he did know that he had to keep his promise to Arthur and return Dawn to Starfall...To Ashara. The woman that he loved so very much and so wanted to marry. Ashara who he had been bethrothed to, who he would have married if not for the Rebellion. Ashara, who had written to him before Brandon was known to be hostage of the King, that she was pregnant. Ashara, whose's brother he had killed. Ned truly did not want to face her but he could not break his promise to Arthur or let Dawn fall into anyone elses hands but House Dayne.
Once Ned tore down the Tower to bury those that had lost their lives there, they set off for Starfall. -
nurse and Starfall was the closest place to hopefully find one otherwise his promise to Lyanna would be broken very quickly as the twins were crying constantly and were obviously hungry. nurse ready and available. The moment that Starfall came into few all Ned could do was breath a sigh of relief while at the same time wishing to turn his horse North and ride until he was in the North again. Only the fact that he had promised to protect the twins and to return Dawn prevented it.
Thus Ned rode into Starfall and was faced with the only woman he had ever loved outside of Lyanna and was forced to destroy her life by telling her of her brother's fate. Ashara's screams brought Aren Dayne, who upon seeing Dawn did not need to be told of his brother's fate and just tried to comforts his sister while holding back his own tears. The war had cost everyone so very much and now it had truly taken from House Dayne. For it had taken the favored of Starfall, Arthur.
Aren was distracted from his grief when he heard a baby cry and he was surprised to realize that the man that had come with Stark had two children in some sort of carrier strapped to his chest. It made Aren forget for a moment what had been taken from his family, for he knew who had dwell-ed in Dorne for the last few months.
"Stark, what of the children. Who are they?"
"They are mine...My bastards." It was the first time that Ned had said that and he found it incredible odd but he knew that he would have to get use to it as he would be saying it for the rest of his life. Though by the look that Aren Dayne was giving him and the stricken look Ashara was giving Arya, he knew that neither believed him so he knew that he would have to practice his lying.
"Lord Stark, we know exactly who was in the Tower of Joy and yet you expect us to believe that the children you bring here are yours. Do you think we are fools?"Aren truly wanted to strike Stark but kept himself restrained by the reminder that Ned Stark was honorable enough to return Dawn to them. The fact that he was also friend with the new King and had just lost his sister also helped restrain him.
"I do not think you fools, but I don expect you to believe that they are mine. They are Starks and they will be safe. I will die to protect what is mine and I will kill to protect is mine. That is all that you need to concern yourself with."
The moment that Ashara laid eyes on Arya, she knew that she was looking at a Targaryen, without the need of Ned to tell her, for it was almost like looking at a feminized Aegon and once she knew that, she knew that they were the reason for Arthur's death. The reason that Arthur was protecting Lyanna even after the death of all the other Targaryens. Her brother had died protecting the true King and Queen. Who were far more worthy of the Throne then that bastard Usurper that had dared to kill Rhaegar and who had been happy that Elia and her precious children were dead. Arthur had died to protect them. Her beloved brother was dead and Ashara would not allow that to be in vain. Arthur deserved to die for something worthy and the protection of the innocent was by far the most worthy thing of all. So she would not let them die, not when it would mean Arthur died for nothing.
"I lost our child...It died and is now buried ...Lost to us..."Her precious son. The boy that she had named in honor of Aegon, had joined his namesake and while Alyria still lived Ashara would never acknowledge her as her daughter. Her mother had been right, no one would take ALyria from the Daynes if it was believed she was a Dayne and not a bastard. Not part Stark, who were well known for taking their bastards bask to their wintery land. Her daughter was dead alongside her son, as her stillborn sister had been placed beside him as was her mother.
"As I lost my own...child, we shall name them as mine...The silver hair came from my brother...as did the eyes."
"Ashara, I cannot ask that of you."
"You are not, I am offering it...Name them as my own."
"Sister, think about this."
"I have...It is the only way to keep their fate from being the same as Aegon and Rhaenys...I will not let them die. I could not protect Elia's children but I can protect them...Please, brother...To many people have died already. Let it be at an end."
Aren looked at his sister and couldn't bring himself to deny her, not after everything that she had lost. "Very well, we shall acknowledge them as Daynes...It was not a secret that Ashara was pregnant so people will believe it."
"I..must go." With that Ashara quickly fled the room.
"Let her go, Stark. You've done quite enough." If looks could kill Ned would be quite dead." Not only did you dishonor my sister by breaking your bethrothal, you killed mybrother and now...Now you mean to depribe our kingdom of its rightful heirs just so your drunken friend can rule after killing a truly great man who both my siblings loved...Your own family you take from for a man that dishonored your won sister with dozens of whores...I just do not understand you."
"Robert...Will be a good king...and there is no way to win a war...Nor is there any way to ensure Jon and Arya's continued survival save through secrecy. No one can know who they are or they will suffer the same fate as Rhaegar's other children. No matter how much protection I give them, something or someone will slip through one day and then they will be dead and for what...A throne...No. Better that they live as bastards then die as King and Queen."
"Perhaps your not as great of a fool that I thought you...What are the names of my new niece and nephew."
"Jon and Arya."
"Jon and Arya Sand...I suppose that is not bad names for supposed Daynes."
"Snow. They will be of the North, so they will be Snows. Jon and Arya Snow."
Two weeks later, Ned left Starfall with the children, Howland, the wet-nurse Wyalla and the bones of Lyanna. They were barely a day away when the news caught up to them and once gain Ned was devastated. For Ashara had jumped of Palestone Sword tower. Ned had truly lost all of his old life now. His father his brother his sister, his daughter and now the woman he was suppose to marry. The woman that he loved had taken her own life and Ned knew that he was largely to blame and he knew that he would never be able to forgive himself for all that he had taken from her. Nor did he suspect the Gods would ever forgive him either.
Ned stared at the twins for hours after receiving the news and knew that he would never tell them who their mother was. Not about Lyanna or the lie that everyone would soon believe about Ashara. Not only did he not want to lie to them, he also did not want them to mourn a mother that was not theirs. If they never knew who their mother was, then they could believe that she was alive somewhere. it would be better that way. The world was the one that needed to believe they were Daynes to keep them safe, not them.
"Well, Jon and Arya Snow. You are of the North and that is all you need to be. You will be safe in the North and nothing shall ever touch you there. I swear it."