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A Wolf for A Sword

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Davos suspected something was afoot the moment he walked into the inn. It was crowded, fit to burst, Kingsguard and lords and smallfolk alike crowded around a table, looking eagerly at the two dark heads seated in the place of honor. 

Arya's face is impassive and unreadable as always, but Jon's is clearer—there is a touch of laughter at the corner of his eyes that had been absent until Arya returned to Winterfell. 

No one seems to know how to address them—King or Queen or your grace or milord and it won't matter in a few moons, anyway, they will be King and Queen of the North, Lady Sansa will be Warden, and what they are to be called now doesn't seem to bother the two Northern rulers in front of him.  

Lord, technically, since Jon abdicated in favor of Daenerys, and Queen, since Arya is Robb's heir. The smallfolk around them either don't know the distinction or have forgotten, but it's no matter.  

Davos had called her Your Grace once and only once. The way her expressionless eyes had blazed at him is something he will not soon forget. She doesn't like milady any better, but her eyes don't look quite so deadly when he says it. 

.. .. ..

"I'm not letting you take the floor, Jon. You've had enough discomfort in your life." 

"And you haven't? You're my lady, Arya. What sort of lord would I be to make you take the floor?" 

"One who listens to your lady," she mocks. "What my lady wants, my lady gets—that's what you said to me on the street of steel." 

"About armor!" 

They glare at each other for a moment. "You're King. You must take the bed." 

"I'm only a lord now. You're Queen. You must." 

Davos can see the children they must have once been—terrors, he is certain—not the warriors they had to become. There is a joy, a playfulness between them, where with others there is cold calculation and a constant awareness.  

"Well, we can't very well share the bed!" Arya paces, or attempts to. The room is the last one left at the inn. It's barely big enough for the bed and Ghost, so Arya takes two steps before encountering Ghost at the door and has to turn around. Both of them had refused offers from other guests who had come all this way to see them, offers of larger rooms, of an extra room, of a house down the path--all refused. It will be lauded as generous and fair, as kind of the rulers who love all their people, smallfolk and greatfolk alike, and it is, certainly.

It is just...something else, as well. They don't sleep well apart. Davos is not supposed to know this; if he slept well himself he probably would not. He has restless nights, and has encountered a wandering Queen in the dark halls of Winterfell; Jon has kept him company on his ship when the rocking of the waves cannot soothe the nightmares from them.

"You know," Jon says, slowly, as if he has just thought of the idea, but Davos fathered more than one son and he knows better-- "in the days of old, lords and ladies shared a bed with a sword between them for honor's sake." 

"You're not sleeping with a sword betwixt you, milord." Davos knows he's stepped in it then, just can't smell what it is.  

"You're right," Arya nods, as if this was what she wanted him to say. "Ghost will do just as well. Better, even." 

Davos looks at the direwolf, then at Arya, then at the bed. The bed might just fit two grown people, if one of them is small as Arya is. Ghost by himself would barely fit on the bed, much less with two humans.  

Jon's eyes twinkle with suppressed mirth, and all at once Davos discovers he does not care a whit about what is proper. If these two have set their minds to it, he won't be able to stop them, anyway.

"I'll be just outside the door, should you need me," he finally says, letting a warning edge into his voice.  

"Thank you, Ser Davos," the Queen says, leaning over Ghost to press a kiss to his scruffy cheek. He remembers Princess Shireen, and his heart stutters painfully. Good girls, the both of them, couldn't help but love them. This one is just a bit deadlier, and Davos thanks the Mother for it. "Sleep well." 

"And you as well, Ser." The Queen hands him a heavy fur before he leaves and settles himself against the door, staring down two members of the Queensguard and a bard, who's eyes are wide. 

"A sword betwixt them for honor?"  

Oh, seven hells. Are the walls really that thin here? Davos glares at the bard. "A direwolf. Better than a sword." 

The bard looks near to perish with joy. "Oh, what a song I shall write! A noble lord and lady--" he strums a few notes. "Which sounds better—to protect the maiden queen or to protect her maiden honor?" 

"I think silence sounds better," Davos snaps, burrowing into the furs.  

... ... ...

Davos had been with the Starks long enough to see plain what was happening.  

Jon had been summoned by his aunt; Arya had been invited, Queen to Queen, and Lord Bran had told them why. Though Jon had abandoned his claim to the Iron Throne, he was still useful to create alliances. He was being summoned so that his aunt could make him a political match. Arya had been requested because the Queen wished the match to be with the North. 

And so it went. Queen Daenerys commanded Jon and Arya wed, and Jon fumed and stormed like a blizzard and Arya stood stony and impassive as ice. Between them, they brought the spirit of the North to King's Landing.  

Daenerys demanded. Threatened. Beseeched. She spoke about alliances and blood and heirs; about wolves and dragons, and like a storm breaking, the fury faded from Jon and Arya. 

"Jon," Arya turns to him. "If this is what I must do to keep the North, then I will. Mhysa," Arya bowed to the queen, even that gesture cold. "The North will remember what you have asked of us." 

Jon nodded stiffly, and for a moment Davos feared Snow would crack and ruin the whole thing. "My queens," he bowed to each of them in turn. "As you command." 

Davos knows the Starks, now, and it is plain that Jon and Arya are as well suited to one another as two people can be. They will wed, and love, and be happy, but they didn't want it to seem as if the Queen is doing them a favor. 

It was, Davos thought, a bit ridiculous. All of bloody Westeros knows how much Jon loves Arya; of course, most of Westeros also knows the pride of Northerners. Not understanding that had been Daenerys' mistake. Given another six moons, Jon and Arya would have probably just walked in to Winterfell one morning to inform everyone that Bran and Sansa had performed the wedding ceremony in the godswood the night before.   

But there it was: the Dragon Queen with a list of reasons why Jon and Arya should wed, should anyone claim they were shirking their duties as lords of the North, as might have happened if they had just wedded on their own for love. 

.. .. ..

When Davos shoulders the door open in the morning, he isn't surprised that Ghost is sprawled on the floor, or that Jon and Arya are tangled together in the small bed. He doesn't see clothes strewn about the room, so there's that, he supposes. Small mercies. He'd thank the Mother but where Arya is concerned it seems more prudent to thank the old gods and the Stranger. He'll have to light a candle at the next sept they see. 

"Your Graces," he says, staying well out of arm's reach. The pair of them have seen too much horror and fighting to be pleasant to wake. "Your Graces--" 

Ghost growls at him. 

"Don't you give me that, now," Davos growls right back. "Some protector of virtue you are." 

Sleepy laughter comes from the bed. "Thank you, Ser Davos. We will be down shortly to break our fast and ride out." 

"Of course, milady." 

"Ser Davos." 

"Yes, milady?" 

"Ghost protected Jon's virtue admirably. I have the bites to prove it--" Arya's words are cut off by a shriek of laughter as the King starts tickling her. 

The direwolf turns great red baleful eyes on Davos, as if to say, this is what I have to suffer. 

And for the first time, Davos Seaworth and the direwolf are in perfect accord.