?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
23 April 2012 @ 09:47 am
like the stillness in the wind before the hurricane begins, 2/4  
It hurts, Jon thinks as he comes to. He can’t bring himself to open his eyes – it’s a task beyond him right now. Every muscle in his body feels stiff and there’s pain all over his chest; he tries to move his fingers, but he barely manages to curl them into a half-fist.

“Bugger it, he moved,” someone says, and Jon knows that voice but he isn’t really sure he can place it.

“Some,” another familiar one agrees.

Jon would like to see who they are, but right now he can’t even think, and he passes out again.

--

The second time Jon comes to, he does manage to open his eyes. It hurts as much as his body does, at the beginning, but then he forces himself to keep them open and focus.

He’s in a room – what looks like a modest inn’s room. He’s on a bed, which is comfortable enough but most definitely not his. He’s covered with blankets up until his chin, and he stinks as someone who hasn’t washed in a week.

He still hurts all over.

He tries to speak and he only croaks something unintelligible, but then he hears a noise on his right.

“Fuck me, crow, you’re tougher than anyone would’ve thought.”

Jon turns his head, slowly, and his eyes widen as he sees Tormund on the side of his bed. He shakes his head, wanting to ask what he means, but the words won’t come.

“Shut your mouth, you ain’t in no condition to talk. They stabbed you some forty times, I don’t even know how you are still breathing. You can thank your wolf, he tore through that damned crowd of turncloaks before someone could put a dagger in your heart.”

That makes no sense – he remembers the stabbing, but he had locked up Ghost, hadn’t he?

“Oh, now you want to know how that happened? Two of your friends who hadn’t wanted to get through with it had this great idea t’open that door. Lucky for you, right? If it pleases you t’know, we’re in Mole’s Town. In the brothel. It’s me, the red woman, your couple friends, your squire, that other crow who never has anythin’ good to say and all of us wildlings that weren’t going to follow that piece of shit who stabbed you in the back. If I were you, I’d go back to sleep. I’ll go tell ev’ryone else that you’re still among us.”

When he’s gone, Jon closes his eyes again. Gods, how he hurts. He wonders how much time it will be before he can stand up, and then he’s asleep again.

--

The third time he comes to, his body is throbbing with pain, but at least he manages to stay lucid for ten entire minutes without passing out.

He notices that Ghost is asleep by the side of his bed, and Jon reaches down, carding a hand through the direwolf’s fur; he has to stop after ten seconds because it feels too painful. As soon as his senses come back in full force, he realizes that he’s reeking; for a moment he thinks he’ll throw up. He smells like dirt, sweat and rotten blood; he has never wished so bad for a bath, except that he won’t get anywhere near one the way he is.

He looks out of the window, but he only sees snow.

He wonders if he should try to call for someone, but he isn’t even sure he has enough voice to scream, and then he’s saved the trouble because Tormund gets inside his room again.

“Huh, you look better than you did last time. Even if let me tell you, you smell a lot worse.”

“How – how long?” Jon manages. Tormund shrugs, obviously counting.

“Since we spoke last, two weeks. You ran a fever – ev’ryone was sure you’d be dead. Infected wounds and all the likes – I’m not sure y’re out of trouble yet, but you look a lot more coherent. Since those other crows turnin’ on you, about three weeks. Surely you slept a whole fucking lot, this last month.”

Three weeks. Three weeks, and he’s been conscious for maybe fifteen minutes total.

“How are things –”

“Haven’t seen any White Walkers ‘round for now, but considering that thanks to your new commander most of us are comin’ here, it won’t be long before they are. If you get what I mean.”

Jon thinks he wants to cry.

“Y’know what, I’ll just call in someone and get them to clean you up an’ change your sheets. If only I had known I’d end up sitting at a crow’s bedside a couple years ago,” Tormund mutters before leaving the room.

Jon isn’t surprised when ten minutes later Melisandre comes inside along with a basin full of water and a clean cloth.

“I hadn’t thought this was your job,” he croaks. She gives him a small, sad smile and comes closer to the bedside.

“It merely happened to be my turn,” she replies, her voice not betraying a thing. “Well, Lord Snow, I suppose it’s time.”

She yanks down the covers and he almost does throw up; his chest is covered in stab wounds. Some are lighter, some are deeper, a couple are red and angry and there’s one on his hip that has definitely been infected and it’s probably not healed yet. It’s also half the reason why he stinks this much, if he isn’t wrong. And they all hurt.

“Did you – did you give me something?”

“No milk of the poppy around here, Jon Snow.” She runs the wet rag over the shallow cuts first and the deeper ones later, and he has to bite his tongue from screaming in pain when she arrives at the half-infected wound. “You were lucky. I don’t know how can someone be stabbed forty times and none of them in a vital place, or at least not vital enough to kill you.”

Jon closes his eyes when she starts treating the wound on his hip and he sees a disgusting mix of pus and blood come out of it; it’s so ridiculous that he turns his head, and he has seen a lot worse, but he’s also feeling light-headed and he isn’t sure that he can look at himself much more. Also, it’s painful; before he was hurting all over, but now a new, fresh wave of pain shoots up through his side and he thinks he’s going to pass out.

He doesn’t, and when Melisandre starts passing the cloth over his legs and groin and neck he doesn’t even try to move – he’s too tired, too thirsty and too weak to even attempt it.

At some point, someone else comes inside and lifts him up while she drags the soiled sheet he’s on from under him; by then he’s barely conscious, and when he opens his eyes again Melisandre is gone, his sheets are clean and his hip is still hurting, but not as much. His throat is dry – he thinks he could use some water – but he can’t call for anyone, so he lays his head on the pillow again and tries to get back to sleep.

He doesn’t have any of the queer dreams he’s been dealing with lately; this time it’s only regular ones, but it’s not the good kind.

He dreams that he’s walking through the ruins of a burned Winterfell; when he raises his eyes, he sees Stannis’s head mounted on a pike.

It can’t be, he thinks, and then he hears a laugh that comes from nowhere and everywhere at the same time, and – he has heard that voice only once or twice, but he can recognize Ramsay Bolton. He laughs and laughs, and maybe he also says something in between but he can’t make out the words.

The snow under his feet is covered in blood, and there are corpses everywhere; he stumbles as he trips into one, and it feels – it feels familiar, it feels –

He turns it on its back and there’s Arya’s face looking up at him, open dead eyes asking why didn’t you come for me, why didn’t you? , and there’s blood all over her white and gray gown (gods, Jon has never seen her in a gown once, never). His hand that he had put on her cheek comes away wet and red, and Jon thinks he’s about to scream when a shadow covers him. He brings himself up and turns, just to find himself in front of a wight that looks every inch like Sam; Jon takes a step backwards, stumbles into his sister’s corpse, tries to stand up again but it hurts. He looks down at his chest and there are wounds on it and blood everywhere staining the snow, and then he screams himself raw.

He opens his eyes, waking up in that bed, sweat pooling all over his face, his throat hurting like it never has. Someone’s shaking him by the shoulder – Grenn, of course, who could have been his two friends that Tormund mentioned if not him and Pyp – someone else is forcing him to drink water, Melisandre is saying that his fever isn’t gone yet. Jon thinks he might be crying, and it’s so cold; that dream has made sure that he felt it inside his bones.

He’s also sure that he’s talking nonsense – he hears himself mentioning at least Arya, Sam and Robb, but he can’t even hear himself because his hip is flaring with pain.

Gods, he thinks, let it be just a dream.

Then he doesn’t think anymore.

--

“You know,” Pyp tells him the next time he comes to, “you scared us out of our own fucking mind. What in the seven hells were you dreaming about?” Grenn is sitting next to him, nodding in agreement. He pales when Pyp mentions the dream – Jon almost feels guilty for having scared them so.

“I’m sorry,” he replies quietly. “I don’t – it was bad. And I haven’t thanked you yet. You were the ones who freed Ghost, weren’t you?”

“Well, to be entirely fair, you should thank him,” Pyp says nodding to Grenn.

“They hadn’t told us about the plan,” Grenn interrupts. “I guess ‘cause we were friends and all.”

“More because we never thought he was doing a bad thing letting the wildlings in. Anyway, when we realized what was about to happen I told him we should have done something, except that stopping all those men wasn’t exactly doable. Then he started cursing.”

“I did not. I just said that if the fucking wolf’d been around we wouldn’t have to worry.”

“You said, of course. You were screaming your lungs out. Anyway, I hadn’t thought about it, which I reckon means that he can have a good idea once in a while, and so we got to the room where he was. Then we didn’t have the key, but he just kicked down the door and that was some good thinking. Guess he has used it all up for now.”

“I haven’t used up anything. You’re just jealous that I broke that door in one try.”

Jon can’t help it – he laughs. It feels strange, and it still hurts his throat, but he just can’t help thinking that he has missed hearing them bicker. Gods, all that talk about killing the boy and letting the man take control has really just made things worse – he hasn’t heard his friends laugh in such a long time, and he isn’t sure that it was worth it. He can’t help thinking I wish Sam was here to laugh with them, and he feels a pang of regret. What was he thinking when he sent him away? At the moment it had seemed a perfectly good idea, and now the only thing he can think is that there’s a hole in the room and that he should have never put his supposed duties before his friends.

He thinks he likes being Jon Snow better than Lord Snow, and he’d pay anything to hear Sam calling him by his name again. If he doesn’t die first. But Sam is in the south – Jon can’t really hope that they’ll see each other in this life.

“Thank you. The both of you,” he says, interrupting whatever they were now discussing. “I’m – I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have – I should have kept on dining with you and doing the usual. I’m –”

“Jon, shut up,” Pyp replies. “You were the Lord Commander, we weren’t expecting you to have time for dining with us. And you weren’t doing a bad job out of it. If Marsh thinks that he can do better than you, then I guess we’ll have White Walkers among us before a month.”

Jon isn’t sure that he even wants to think about it.

“Wasn’t Ghost here?” he asks, suddenly realizing that there’s no direwolf at his bedside or in the room.

“Left a day ago,” Grenn replies. “While you were having that blasted nightmare. We figured we’d let him go – wouldn’t be a bad thing if he brought some food for us, too.”

Jon nods and doesn’t think much of it. He wishes that Ghost was here, now that at least he seems well enough to carry a conversation and stay conscious (even if his chest still hurts, but by now he thinks he’s becoming numb to it), but there will be time.

He hopes.

--

That night he has one of those other queer dreams. He dreams that he’s at Eastwatch, and that no one else is around. He’s running – he feels the taste of warm blood in his mouth; he has just eaten, maybe, no, Ghost has just eaten. The dock is empty, all ruined ships and no one in sight; this until a small, lone ship approaching. He runs back towards a piece of rock and sees someone getting down from the ship, which departs seconds later. The captain must have been in a hurry to leave – shows that he isn’t a fool.

Jon gasps – it can’t be, it can’t be, but he knows the person who has just set foot on the ground. It could only be Sam, it can’t be anyone else, could it –


Jon wakes up again, no screaming, just breathing heavily; it’s dark, well into the night. He can see a fire out of the window – Melisandre is looking into it, no doubt.

If only it was true, Jon thinks, but he has never made sense of those dreams, and there’s just no way that it’s real.

Maybe he’s just trying to convince himself that he will see his friend again, but he can’t keep on deluding himself. He sighs, curling down under the blankets again. He had found himself missing Sam back then, when the Watch was his, sometimes, but he had too much to think about, too many problems to deal with.

Now he can’t help thinking that maybe if Sam had been there to advise him it wouldn’t have happened. Sam might not have had a lot of fighting skills going for him, but he always could think a lot better than he let others believe, and Jon can’t help wondering if it wouldn’t have helped. But that’s not it. If Sam was here, he’d probably cry, and be concerned, and hover around, and maybe he’d feel the urge to faint at seeing the wounds on his chest, but – Jon thinks he’d like it. He’d do all that, but he also would be around at any time, and he’d find some tale to distract him, and he’d make Jon laugh. (Sam always managed to make him laugh, and it’s something not many people can do – Arya could, and Robb could, and Bran could, but that’s about it.) He’d – he’d be his friend.

It might be pathetic that it’s all he wants now. He has commanded the Watch, maybe not as well as he could have, but he has; he has killed wights, he has beheaded a man, he has taken decisions that most people much older than he is will never have to take, has gained a king’s respect, but it doesn’t make him feel any better.

It takes a certain sort of courage to admit to yourself that instead of the man you thought you became maybe you’re still a lad of seven and ten who really, really wants the best friend he’s ever had by his side right now.

But if Sam could say out loud that he was craven, then Jon can admit to himself that all his accomplishments aren’t doing anything to make him feel any better.

--

The next morning, he forces himself to eat some tasteless soup that Satin brings him saying that they have nothing better for someone who’s still sick, and he sleeps through the late morning and early afternoon – his body still can’t take staying awake for long, even if his fever has broken by now.

When he wakes up again it’s because Pyp and Grenn shake him awake so hard that he couldn’t have possibly kept on sleeping.

And they look – excited? Why?

“What’s –”

“Oh, you have no idea,” Grenn replies, sounding… happy?

“If you hope for Marsh coming from the Wall on his knees to ask your forgiveness, that’s not it, but I think you’d like this better.”

“I’d like – Pyp, what the fuck is going on?”

“Well, your wolf came back from his hunts.”

“Without game,” Grenn adds, obviously displeased. Pyp elbows him.

“He brought something better,” he adds, winking. “Come on, get in!”

When Sam walks into the room, carefully, as if he isn’t sure whether he’s disturbing or not, Ghost next to him, Jon can’t believe his eyes.

He has dark circle under his eyes that weren’t there when he left, and his face is covered in dirt, and Jon can smell sea water from where he is, but it’s Sam, and he wishes he could stand up and run, but he can’t. He apparently can’t find any words, until he manages a how in a voice he barely recognizes as his.

Sam moves closer, sits at the foot of the bed. “We received word of… your demise in Oldtown. I might – I might have escaped and found a ship.”

“Yeah, because it was that simple when you told me first,” Pyp objects.

“No, but… I’m not – it’s not really the time for it,” Sam adds, and Jon only wants to say please talk forever, I missed your voice. “I’m – gods, I was sure that you were dead,” and he sounds as if someone just tore his heart out.

Pyp raises an eyebrow, looks at the two of them and then drags Grenn out of the room.

Jon takes a breath, forces himself to sit up, motions for Sam to move closer.

“Well, if it consoles you I’m not sure of how I’m alive, either. But – Pyp was right – how did you even –”

“I might have – I might have asked my father for enough money to buy myself a passage. And I was lucky I found someone who’d bring me straight here,” Sam adds, moving from the foot to Jon’s side. Ghost sits at the foot of the bed, while Sam glances at Jon’s bare chest – the sheet fell down when Jon had scooted back to make space for him.

Sam becomes as white as the sheet itself when he sees the mess on Jon’s frame (and good thing that neither of them has seen the back – apparently it’s not a nice sight either); but he doesn’t flinch as Jon had expected.

“Gods, Jon, what did they do to you?”

“Stabbed me. Some forty times, apparently.” Jon knows that his voice is wavering, and he wishes it wasn’t, but saying it out loud somehow makes it more real and he isn’t sure that he can keep a straight face much longer.

Not around Sam, anyway.

“Congratulations,” he adds. “I can’t look at them for more than five seconds.”

Sam actually flushes. “I had to cut open a body more than once before I left Oldtown. I think that I can stand looking at some scars now.”

“Sam, about that – fuck, I was wrong. I shouldn’t have – I’m not sure what I was –”

A hand suddenly touches his wrist, hesitant; Jon doesn’t move it away and looks up at Sam instead. “Jon, I get why you did it. If anything – I put you there, it should – it should be me saying sorry.”

“For what?”

“Well, I was the one secretly planning so that you’d get elected, wasn’t I?”

Jon snorts, shakes his head. “Sam, shut up. I was the one that should have paid more attention to what was going on behind my back.”

Sam doesn’t answer, not promptly; he looks down at his hand on Jon’s wrist, then looks up again and the raises his free one, wiping away a couple of tears. “I’m just – I’m – does that hurt a lot?”

“Wait, you mean the wounds? They used to hurt more, but – some. Why?”

“Can you – bring that sheet up? To cover them?”

“Sure.”

Jon does, not exactly getting why Sam is suddenly concerned; but as soon as it happens hands are on his shoulders and he’s hauled forward, cautiously, until his frame is resting against Sam’s, who is obviously going out of his way not to put too much pressure on his wounds.

Jon decides that the Others can take them and grips Sam’s shoulders with as much strength as he can gather (turns out that it’s less than he had thought); his effort isn’t as good as he’d have liked, but Sam gets it and a second later they’re pressed so close that Jon can’t breathe for a moment. But then he can, and he smells ocean and dry earth on Sam’s clothes and on his skin, and he forgets momentarily that he’s still not fine at all and that this will likely make his wounds worse and that the Wall might fall at any point.

He thinks he has earned the right not to think about the responsible thing for a bit.

part three here
 
 
feeling: okayokay