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must needs the rushes

Quick question for R+L=J believers.

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I imagine that this has been addressed elsewhere, but a site search and skims of relevant threads didn't reveal where, and I wonder what's your interpretation of this passage:

 

"Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys's Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.

 

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. "Never ask me about Jon," he said, cold as ice."

 

This strikes me as stronger confirmation of N+A=J than all indications of R+L=J combined, so I'm eager to learn why you think that Ned meant something else by it.

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Posted (edited)

My take on it comes from the extended passage:

He did more than that. The Starks were not like other men. Ned brought his bastard home with him, and called him "son" for all the north to see. When the wars were over at last, and Catelyn rode to Winterfell, Jon and his wet nurse had already taken up residence.
 
That cut deep. Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys's Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.
 
That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. "Never ask me about Jon," he said, cold as ice. "He is my blood, and that is all you need to know. And now I will learn where you heard that name, my lady." She had pledged to obey; she told him; and from that day on, the whispering had stopped, and Ashara Dayne's name was never heard in Winterfell again.
 
This thought process of Catelyn's starts with thoughts of Jon, and then the rumors of Ashara, and to me, it seems Cat was asking about Jon and who his mother was (Ashara in this case), and of course Ned is hurt by the loss of Lyanna, which leads him to snap about, "never ask me about Jon." He did not say, "never ask me about Ashara," because if he did, then that answer would have been different. What we have here in Cat's POV seems to be a condensed/paraphrased version of the thought process from fifteen years ago. Not the detailed question Catelyn asked Ned... because that would give away way too many plot secrets way too early in the story.
 
So, we are left with a red herring circus, and the omission of the first section by others seems to really fuel many theories that about Jon's true mother. 
 
But, that's just this ol'boufant :D
Edited by The Fattest Leech
Oopsy spelling

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I read it the other way, her asking about Ashara and him answering as he did, since Ashara was the focus of the paragraph preceding the question, but I guess there is some ambiguity to what exactly her question was. 

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Posted (edited)

I think idle gossip is an extremely unreliable source to be making deductions from. He is worried people around Winterfell are gossiping about who Jon's mother is and that his cover story about Wyalla is going to be discredited. The above gossip is clearly riddled with fallacy. We know Ned didn't slay Arthur Dayne in single combat. Why do you hold any of it to be true when it is such an unreliable source? If anything the above passage is a clue to the reader to start asking questions about who Jon's mother really is.

Edited by Makk

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Well, the talk of single combat and other Dayne talk are part of what lead me to believe that Cat asked about Ashara. It's not that I find rumors reliable, rather that I find Ned's answer interesting. 

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Posted (edited)

I think that he meant by it exactly what he said. And the background story went like this:

When Lyanna was at the Tower of Joy, she wasn't alone there. Aside from her and three Kingsguards, there were also wet nurse Wylla, that came from Starfall, and Ashara Dayne, that brought her there. Then, when 3 KG and Ned's companions, aside from Howland Reed, died, Ashara Dayne (that was in love with Howland, since Tournament at Harrenhal, and was either pregnant from him, at the time Jon was born and his mother Lyanna was dying, or she even already gave birth to her and Howland's daughter - Meera Reed, or she became pregnant only after she and Howland got married) changed her name to Jyana Reed (L-ya-n-na - J-ya-na, in memory of her friend, that died in childbirth), and went with Howland to Greywater Watch, where she lived since then as his wife.

And Wylla went with Ned and little Jon to Winterfell, where for the next few years she was Jon's wet nurse. Then she was summoned by Reeds to GWW. Ashara/Jyana gave birth to her and Howland's third child. The boy had blond hair and violet (or blue?) eyes, and thus looked nothing like a cranogman should look. It was impossible to pass him for local, it's the same as trying to make a Valyrian, look like a native inhabitant of Dorne - people won't be fooled by it.

Ashara at least had black/or brown hair, and if she was wearing clothes of right coloring (for example blue, or violet, purple, indigo, lilac, black, yellow), then it would have looked as if though her eyes only look violet-colored, because of her clothes, while actually they probably have slightly different color. If she will be clothed in black, and will be wearing silver jewelry with black and violet stones, then people will think that her eyes are black, and they look dark but slightly violet, only because of her jewelry. While in yellow clothes and golden jewelry with green or yellow stones, her violet eyes will have a slightly greenish hue.

But the baby can't be camuflaged in the same manner. Also it would be too tiring to dye his hair in brown or black color, every two weeks for the rest of his life. So it was easier just to summon Wylla from Winterfell, give the boy to her, and to send her back to Starfall. Where the baby's real identity was revealed to Ashara's closest relatives. And thus the baby was named Edric Ned Dayne, and became Lord of Starfall. And Ned Stark is his godfather.     

So Ashara is not Jon's mother. And at the time, when that conversation between Ned and Cat happened, Ashara was married with Howland.

So from Cat, Ned has found out, that

1. not only his servants and soldiers gossip about Ashara, and spread all over Winterfell and beyond, outrageous lies and speculations, about wife of his best friend (even though people didn't knew that she was alive, the rumors could have reached as far as GWW, and eventually be heard by Howland, and Ashara herself), and mother of his godson Edric, that she supposedly was impregnated by Ned, and that Jon is her child, and that the reason why she commited suicide, is because Ned stole the baby from her,

2. but also that his wife Cat believed in those lies, and was tactless enough, to ask him about this ridiculous bullshit.

So he was outraged, that people were saying such things about him, and Jon, and Ashara, and that Cat heard those gossips, and believed in those lies. She was his wife, but she thought so badly of him. Though mostly he was not Ok, with people tarnishing Ashara's reputation. The girl's brother was killed, she had to forever leave her home, to go far away from Dorne into cold North, and live there for the rest of her life, while pretending to be someone else, and simultaneously keeping a secret about Jon's real identity, and what really happened at the Tower of Joy. So she entirely changed her life, to keep Jon safe. And thus, it will be a really bad repayment for her kindness, and for everything that she has sacrificed, if Ned will let his people and his wife, to say those awful things about Ashara.

And probably he was also horrified, that people were talking about his bastard son. Because he thought, that Jon's secret was safe. So it was a really bad news to him, that people were questioning identity of Jon's mother, and speculating about what could have happened at the Tower of Joy. So he forbade Cat to talk about any of it, ever again, and also said the same to his people. And then all gossips stopped.

Something like that. ^_^

Edited by Megorova

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4 hours ago, must needs the rushes said:

I imagine that this has been addressed elsewhere, but a site search and skims of relevant threads didn't reveal where, and I wonder what's your interpretation of this passage:

"Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys's Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. "Never ask me about Jon," he said, cold as ice."

This strikes me as stronger confirmation of N+A=J than all indications of R+L=J combined, so I'm eager to learn why you think that Ned meant something else by it.

First of all, we aren't believers. We are simply not denying reality
Secondly, it is a book, and a red herrings abound. And a dayne mom would not fit the story as well as a stark and a targ. 

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It’s the believable cover-story that happens to have a cover-story of it’s own wylla the wet nurse of starfall. 

"I shall wear that as a badge of honor," Ned said dryly.
 
"Honor," she spat. "How dare you play the noble lord with me! What do you take me for? You've a bastard of your own, I've seen him. Who was the mother, I wonder? Some Dornish peasant you raped while her holdfast burned? A whore? Or was it the grieving sister, the Lady Ashara? She threw herself into the sea, I'm told. Why was that? For the brother you slew, or the child you stole? Tell me, my honorable Lord Eddard, how are you any different from Robert, or me, or Jaime?"
 
My take is that no one can ever question (as in doesn’t have the balls) to mention Ashara to the  Warden of the North Eddard Stark bc she is known to have committed suicide and it’s kind of an awkward subject. Then Ned goes all in and drops the bomb that his bastard was with a wet nurse named wylla when pressed by Robert and apparently it made it all through the family at Starfall also
 
He looked at her uncomfortably. "My aunt Allyria says Lady Ashara and your father fell in love at Harrenhal—"
 
And then Harwin
 
"That boy Ned said . . ."
"Aye, he told me. Lady Ashara Dayne. It's an old tale, that one. I heard it once at Winterfell, when I was no older than you are now." He took hold of her bridle firmly and turned her horse around. "I doubt there's any truth to it. But if there is, what of it? When Ned met this Dornish lady, his brother Brandon was still alive, and it was him betrothed to Lady Catelyn, so there's no stain on your father's honor. There's nought like a tourney to make the blood run hot, so maybe some words were whispered in a tent of a night, who can say? Words or kisses, maybe more, but where's the harm in that? Spring had come, or so they thought, and neither one of them was pledged."
 
It was a read between the lines if you can get that far kinda deal (I actually find cercei deducing this herself is very much in character)
 
But Rhaegar and Arthur Dayne’s friendship has a big effect on all of this. Ned had to base his lie around that to begin with. I don’t think it’s a far stretch to say this was to protect Jon from Robert but either way, the Ned (in my humble opinion) pulled off the most rock solid double-alibi for his sister’s child given the hand he was dealt. 
 
 
 
 

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My take on it:

Ashara Dayne sacrificed herself for Jon's sake. She "committed suicide" /disappeared/, so it could be suggested she was Jon's mother, in case he started to look Targaryen.  It was smart and very needed solution, but imagine how Ned had felt about this. He hardly was able to swallow his own honor to pretend he fathered a bastard, so how utterly excruciating it must have been for him to drag an innocent lady into this.

Add to this all the other complications  -  Ned was in love with Ashara, she had a thing with Brandon, afterwards she was comforted by Ned and they got close with each other, probably even a marriage was in sight... And then Ned had to abandon all his dreams about Ashara to honor family obligations (and to win the war) and marry Catelyn Tully.

Still, when he found himself with Targaryen ticking bomb, he went to the person he knew he could trust -  Ashara Dayne. I can imagine it was her suggestion "you can pretend I'm the mother" - how he felt at that moment? Wasn't that what he has always wanted - Ashara  to be a mother to his violet/grey eyed children?            
 

Lady Ashara Dayne - dishonored by Brandon Stark, dumped by Eddard Stark, and yet still pretending to be dead so Lyanna Stark' child could be safe.

How could he have her name being discussed in his kitchens (and bed)? Yes, it was all for this exactly purpose, but  as long as Jon's eyes stay grey no way he would allowed it.

 

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8 hours ago, Megorova said:

 Ashara Dayne (that was in love with Howland, since Tournament at Harrenhal, and was either pregnant from him, at the time Jon was born and his mother Lyanna was dying, or she even already gave birth to her and Howland's daughter - Meera Reed, or she became pregnant only after she and Howland got married) changed her name to Jyana Reed (L-ya-n-na - J-ya-na, in memory of her friend, that died in childbirth), and went with Howland to Greywater Watch, where she lived since then as his wife.

The tall and fair Lady Ashara with the stunted crannogman who got his ass kicked by three pimply squires?

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There are many other candidates for Jon’s mother, Ashara is probably second behind Lyanna for me. But I expect she’s a red herring.

Especially if, as I wonder might happen, Jon has purple eyes after being resurrected which can be used to prove is Targ ancestry. But Ashara also has purple eyes which brings a new level of doubt.

Either way, if R+L=J isn’t true in the books and N+A=J is, I would still be satisfied.

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From Cat's POV, she was asking about Ashara. 

From Ned's POV, Cat was prying after Jon's origins. Notice Ned said "Never ask me about Jon," and not "Never ask me about Ashara". Cat knowing Jon's origins (assuming R+L=J) puts Jon, and Ned and the rest of his family, in danger. It has the possibility of starting another civil war, similar to Robert's Rebellion. 

 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, must needs the rushes said:

This strikes me as stronger confirmation of N+A=J than all indications of R+L=J combined, so I'm eager to learn why you think that Ned meant something else by it.

I find this particularly hard to understand. How can you find one quote which is ambiguous more convincing than the mountain of evidence for R+L=J? I'm wondering if perhaps you have not seen/read all the evidence for R+L=J. As the quote basically shows that when Cat asked Ned about Ashara Dayne he dismissed her as irelivant to the thing he wished to hide and told her never to ask about Jon. 

I think also this quote provided by One-eye Misbehavin is pertinent. 

9 hours ago, One-eyed Misbehavin said:

"Honor," she spat. "How dare you play the noble lord with me! What do you take me for? You've a bastard of your own, I've seen him. Who was the mother, I wonder? Some Dornish peasant you raped while her holdfast burned? A whore? Or was it the grieving sister, the Lady Ashara? She threw herself into the sea, I'm told. Why was that? For the brother you slew, or the child you stole? Tell me, my honorable Lord Eddard, how are you any different from Robert, or me, or Jaime?"

This is directly from Ned's own POV. It is followed by this from him. 

Quote

"For a start," said Ned, "I do not kill children. You would do well to listen, my lady. I shall say this only once. When the king returns from his hunt, I intend to lay the truth before him. You must be gone by then. You and your children, all three, and not to Casterly Rock. If I were you, I should take ship for the Free Cities, or even farther, to the Summer Isles or the Port of Ibben. As far as the winds blow."

He does not go on to think about Ashara at any point. This quote refers to the killing of children. And the fact he does not do it. It's alluding to Jon's parentage and what happened to his siblings. GRRM reinforces this by having Ned's next sentance be that he's giving her kids more of a chance than her father gave Rhaegars children, and he states that Robert would follow her to the back end of beyond to punish her; insinuating kill her children. 

The scene closes with him left in the godswood after Cersei makes her when you play the game of thrones statement and he does not think of Ashara. One would think if she were indeed Jon's mother he might reflect upon that and her death at this point? 

And actually Ned does not think of Ashara at all throughout his entire POV. She is mentioned to him and yet he never dwells on her. His thoughts instead go to Rhaegar and promises and Lyanna pleading. 

GRRM has taken a conversation about Jon's mother and turned the discussion to events at the end of the rebellion and dead children here and I doubt that was accidental. 

Edited by The Weirwoods Eyes

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14 hours ago, must needs the rushes said:

I imagine that this has been addressed elsewhere, but a site search and skims of relevant threads didn't reveal where, and I wonder what's your interpretation of this passage:

 

"Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys's Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.

 

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. "Never ask me about Jon," he said, cold as ice."

 

This strikes me as stronger confirmation of N+A=J than all indications of R+L=J combined, so I'm eager to learn why you think that Ned meant something else by it.

I think this is one of the subtle hinds that Ashara is Jon's mother. That theory overall makes a lot more sense if you put all the evidence together and comparing it to the evidence that shows that Jon is the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna.

10 hours ago, Dorian Martell's son said:

First of all, we aren't believers. We are simply not denying reality
Secondly, it is a book, and a red herrings abound. And a dayne mom would not fit the story as well as a stark and a targ. 

This argument is really weak in my opinion (I know you probably have better arguments for R+L=J but I'm just using your quote to tackle this sentiment that is used more often to defend R+L=J). Why would it fit Jon's story to be a Targ besides being a Stark. Jon being a Dayne as well as a Stark would in my opinion improve his story which resolves around fighting the battle for the Dawn not becoming a the king of Westeros.

 

13 hours ago, Makk said:

I think idle gossip is an extremely unreliable source to be making deductions from. He is worried people around Winterfell are gossiping about who Jon's mother is and that his cover story about Wyalla is going to be discredited. The above gossip is clearly riddled with fallacy. We know Ned didn't slay Arthur Dayne in single combat. Why do you hold any of it to be true when it is such an unreliable source? If anything the above passage is a clue to the reader to start asking questions about who Jon's mother really is.

This is actually another argument for Ned + Ashara = Jon. Because if Jon was really the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna he would probably be okay with people thinking he and Ashara are Jon's parents.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, must needs the rushes said:

I imagine that this has been addressed elsewhere, but a site search and skims of relevant threads didn't reveal where, and I wonder what's your interpretation of this passage:

 

"Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys's Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.

 

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. "Never ask me about Jon," he said, cold as ice."

 

This strikes me as stronger confirmation of N+A=J than all indications of R+L=J combined, so I'm eager to learn why you think that Ned meant something else by it.

So, I’m on my phone so I’m sorry if this is a bit of an unformated mess, aha!

Anyway, R+L=J was the conclusion I ultimately came to after reading AGoT the first time and I discounted N+A=J due to a variety of reasons, more so on re-reads than first read but still so.

At first, when I was reading AGoT I took it at face value and thought, “OK, so this is who Cat thought it was...” and I expected some thoughts about Ashara would come up in Ned’s chapters as we went along. He might not have spoken of Ashara but based on Cat’s assumption that he “must have loved her fiercely”, his killing her brother and her apparent suicide, I imagined he would have thought about her - about that day he took Jon from her or the day she died... but he never did. I’m pretty sure the only women who ever really cross his mind much at all are Cat and his sister Lyanna, whose death truly haunts him. That was the first reason why I discounted Ashara. His thinking of Lyanna didn’t even really make me think necessarily that Lyanna might have been Jon’s mother, that came ar a different point, but it just made me wholeheartedly doubt that Ashara was anything more than a red herring GRRM threw in. She gets name dropped but never from a credible source and never with any real significance outside of her beauty and death. I know some people in the fan base like the idea of her survival, like she’s Lemore or Quaithe theories, but... I’ve come to see her as a damp squib.

On reflection, once I completed the series and started a re-read, when I saw that passage again with the benefit of hindsight, knowing that there have been at least two other suggestions for the mother, I realised that Ashara was the first mother suggested to the reader, which also made me question why there would be this big taboo around Jon’s mother if she was named so early on. Plus, the fact he says “Never ask about Jon” not “Never ask about Ashara” on reflection made me realise Ned’s only concern was someone probing into Jon’s origins, full stop. If his mother had been Ashara or Wylla, there’s no real reason for him to get so defensive or to keep the secret.

So, yeah... I guess it’s all up to interpretation but I wanted out outline how I came to dismiss it as a false lead. Since I started this series knowing nothing (like Jon Snow, aha) and came to the RLJ thing organically, it made sense to explain why my attitude to this passage changed with subsequent revisits even before I set eyes on the online fan base and theories. 

Edited by Faera

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, must needs the rushes said:

Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys's Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.

Ned’s soldiers, the ones talking about Ashara, weren’t there... 

Why would Ned keep Jon’s mom’s identity a secret if it was Ashara?

I really don’t understand why anyone thinks it’s a possibility... it doesn’t make sense. 

1 hour ago, The Weirwoods Eyes said:

"For a start," said Ned, "I do not kill children. You would do well to listen, my lady. I shall say this only once. When the king returns from his hunt, I intend to lay the truth before him. You must be gone by then. You and your children, all three, and not to Casterly Rock. If I were you, I should take ship for the Free Cities, or even farther, to the Summer Isles or the Port of Ibben. As far as the winds blow."

"Exile," she said. "A bitter cup to drink from." 
 
"A sweeter cup than your father served Rhaegar's children," Ned said, "and kinder than you deserve. Your father and your brothers would do well to go with you. Lord Tywin's gold will buy you comfort and hire swords to keep you safe. You shall need them. I promise you, no matter where you flee, Robert's wrath will follow you, to the back of beyond if need be."

I think he’s talking about Dany... since he’s recomending to Cersei basically exactly what happened to Dany... whom I believe he sent to exile since he couldn’t pass her off as a bastard like Jon due to the hair/eye color. This is Dany’s cup of ice, which the Undying refer too.

Edited by LiveFirstDieLater

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16 hours ago, must needs the rushes said:

I imagine that this has been addressed elsewhere, but a site search and skims of relevant threads didn't reveal where, and I wonder what's your interpretation of this passage:

 

"Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys's Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.

 

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. "Never ask me about Jon," he said, cold as ice."

 

This strikes me as stronger confirmation of N+A=J than all indications of R+L=J combined, so I'm eager to learn why you think that Ned meant something else by it.

To me, this passage only helps affirm R+L=J.

Remember, that at the time Cat asked Ned per the passage, King Robert was on the warpath for Targs. Ned made a promise to keep Jon (Aegon?) safe.

To have even a rumor of Jon's Targ blood reach Kings Landing would bring potential problems for the Starks, potentially a breakup and war between the Starks and Baratheons as Jon would be seen as a threat for the throne.

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16 hours ago, must needs the rushes said:

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. "Never ask me about Jon," he said, cold as ice."

This strikes me as stronger confirmation of N+A=J than all indications of R+L=J combined, so I'm eager to learn why you think that Ned meant something else by it.

He didn't mean "something else", he meant exactly what he said: "Never ask me about Jon".

Must needs be some darn good reason for Ned to keep it that secret. 

1 hour ago, JS97 said:

This is actually another argument for Ned + Ashara = Jon. Because if Jon was really the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna he would probably be okay with people thinking he and Ashara are Jon's parents.

First, he considered having illegitimate offspring a dishonor. Maybe he didn't want to stain Lady Ashara's good name, considering that she had done nothing wrong.

Second, his strategy was simple: "say nothing". Well, he said one big lie, about Jon being his own illegitimate son, but instead of building a system of supporting lies around it, he flat out forbids people to pry into the subject. Seems reasonable, considering that Ned was seriously incompetent at deception and games like that, and he was well aware of that.

Third, the Ashara lie wasn't at all safe. Say, Ned confirms it - and the rumor, with its uncanny ability to reach the farthest corners of the Universe (even if maybe in a little deformed shape), spreads south. And, one fine morning, Maester Luwin finds a raven sent from Starfall, with a short message: "Hey, wait a fucking minute!". Now what? 

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