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Jon clasped the offered hand. The words of his oath rang through his head. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. And for him a new refrain: I am the guard who opened the gates and let the foe march through. He would have given much and more to know that he was doing the right thing. But he had gone too far to turn back.

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“She has more courage than she knows,” said Sam. “So do you, Sam. Have a swift, safe voyage, and take care of her and Aemon and the child.” The cold trickles on his face reminded Jon of the day he’d bid farewell to Robb at Winterfell, never knowing that it was for the last time.
        “AND PULL YOUR HOOD UP. THE SNOWFLAKES ARE MELTING IN YOUR HAIR.”

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↳ ASOIAF meme | Jon’s childhood memories 
❝You were just a boy, and I was all in black, one of a dozen riding escort to old Lord Commander Qorgyle when he came down to see your father at Winterfell. I was walking the wall around the yard when I came on you and your brother Robb. It had snowed the night before, and the two of you had built a great mountain above the gate and were waiting for someone likely to pass underneath.” “I remember,” said Jon with a startled laugh. A young black brother on the wallwalk, yes… “You swore not to tell.” “And kept my vow. That one, at least.” “We dumped the snow on Fat Tom. He was Father’s slowest guardsman.” Tom had chased them around the yard afterward, until all three were red as autumn apples.❞

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Skulls. A thousand skulls, and the bastard boy again. Jon Snow. Whenever she was asked what she saw within her fires, Melisandre would answer, “Much and more,” but seeing was never as simple as those words suggested. It was an art, and like all arts it demanded mastery, discipline, study. Pain. That too. R'hllor spoke to his chosen ones through blessed fire, in a language of ash and cinder and twisting flame that only a god could truly grasp. Melisandre had practiced her art for years beyond count, and she had paid the price. There was no one, even in her order, who had her skill at seeing the secrets half-revealed and half-concealed within the sacred flames. Yet now she could not even seem to find her king. I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R'hllor shows me only Snow.

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Lord of Winterfell. I could be the Lord of Winterfell. My father’s heir. It was not Lord Eddard’s face he saw floating before him, though; it was Lady Catelyn’s. With her deep blue eyes and hard cold mouth, she looked a bit like Stannis. Iron, he thought, but brittle. She was looking at him the way she used to look at him at Winterfell, whenever he had bested Robb at swords or sums or most anything. Who are you? that look had always seemed to say. This is not your place. Why are you here?

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When Jon had been a boy at Winterfell, his hero had been the Young Dragon, the boy king who had conquered Dorne at the age of fourteen. Despite his bastard birth, or perhaps because of it, Jon Snow had dreamed of leading men to glory just as King Daeron had, of growing up to be a conqueror. Now he was a man grown and the Wall was his, yet all he had were doubts. He could not even seem to conquer those.

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Her swordbelt went into the canal. Her cloak, tunic, breeches, smallclothes, all of it. All but Needle. She stood on the end of the dock, pale and goosefleshed and shivering in the fog. In her hand, Needle seemed to whisper to her. Stick them with the pointy end, it said, and, don’t tell Sansa! Mikken’s mark was on the blade. […] She’d been a stupid little girl when Jon had it made for her. “It’s just a sword,” she said, aloud this time…but it wasn’t. Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell’s grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan’s stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow’s smile. He used to mess my hair and call me “little sister,” she remembered, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes.

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“What are you reading about?” he asked. “Dragons,” Tyrion told him. “What good is that? There are no more dragons,” the boy said with the easy certainty of youth. “So they say,” Tyrion replied. “Sad, isn’t it? When I was your age, I used to dream of having a dragon of my own.” “You did?” the boy said suspiciously. Perhaps he thought Tyrion was making fun of him. “Oh, yes. Even a stunted, twisted, ugly little boy can look down over the world when he’s seated on a dragon’s back.” Tyrion pushed the bearskin aside and climbed to his feet. “I used to start fires in the bowels of Casterly Rock and stare at the flames for hours, pretending they were dragonfire. Sometimes I’d imagine my father burning. At other times, my sister.” Jon Snow was staring at him, a look equal parts horror and fascination.

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Bran’s dream | A Game of Thrones, Chapter 17
He lifted his eyes and saw clear across the narrow sea, to the Free Cities and the green Dothraki sea and beyond, to Vaes Dothrak under its mountain, to the fabled lands of the Jade Sea, to Asshai by the Shadow, where dragons stirred beneath the sunrise. Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him. And he looked past the Wall, past endless forests cloaked in snow, past the frozen shore and the great blue-white rivers of ice and the dead plains where nothing grew or lived. North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks.

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 Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold…

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[…] there above the open water the Titan towered, with his eyes blazing and his long green hair blowing in the wind. His legs bestrode the gap, one foot planted on each mountain, his shoulders looming tall above the jagged crests. His legs were carved of solid stone, the same black granite as the sea monts on which he stood, though around his hips he wore an armored skirt of greenish bronze. His breastplate was bronze as well, and his head in his crested halfhelm. […] Arya could taste salt where the spray had touched her face. She had to look straight up to see the Titan’s head. “The Braavosi feed him on the juicy pink flesh of little highborn girls,” she heard Old Nan say again, but she was not a little girl, and she would not be frightened of a stupid statue. Even so, she kept one hand on Needle as they slipped between his legs.