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If Ned+Ashara= Jon, was Jon unwanted in Dorne?

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6 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

So you’re saying that in less than three months the following happened:

1. Arryn calls his banners and the Battle of Gulltown is fought.

2. Ned Stark makes his trip through the Fingers, Sisterton and to White Harbor to make his way to Winterfell.

3.  Robert Baratheon sails to Storm’s End where he calls his banners.  Other lords gather to oppose him.  Than the Battles at Summerhall.

4.  Robert marches from Storm’s End where he encounters Randall’s forces at the Battle of Ashford.

5.  Eddard calls his Banners and than marches south where he ultimately meets up with Arryn and his forces.

6.  Eddard and Arryn negotiate with Lord Hoster Tully to gain his support.

7.  Connington chases Robert’s army to the Stoney Sept.  Robert hides out in the Stoney Sept.  

8.  Stark and Tully arrive at Stoney Sept and the Battle of the Bells occurs.

9.  The marriages of Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark are than arranged.

While in your timeline after Robb is conceived nine months elapse before any other battle of significance happens??

Cat says that Robb was born nine months after their honeymoon.  She states that Eddard is still fighting battles in the south.  The battles in the south did not end after the Battle of the Trident or the Sack of King’s Landing.

In fact we know that Eddard rode out after the Sack to continue fighting battles in the South.

We know that the Seige of Storm’s End lasted a good bit after the Sack of King’s Landing.  We know this because we’re told that the war raged for almost a year before the Sack, while the Siege of Storm’s End only began after the Battle of Ashford and it also lasts almost a year.

We have no idea when the Battle at the tower of joy occurs only that it had to have occurred after the Siege of Storm’s End was lifted and within a year of Cat’s marriage to Eddard.

 

 

  • Ned Stark left to cross the Mountain of the Moon before Jon Arryn's banners were assembled and definitely before the Battle of Gulltown.
  • Robert and Jon Arryn fought the Battle of Gulltown while Ned was traveling.
  • Ned did not have to be in Winterfell to call the banners. Benjen or the steward would have done it on his behalf.
  • Robert's Rebellion ended with the Sack of King's Landing. The business with the Tyrells was no battle since they surrendered without fighting. The only possible battles for Robb to have been born before are The Trident, the Sack, or the Battle at the Tower of Joy. Except Robb was born during the war, which disqualifies the battle at the Tower of Joy since it occurred after the war ended and doesn't count as "battles".
  • Robb's birth happened in 283AC. So Ned and Cat's wedding.
  • There is an odd gap, but that's more GRRM's problem than ours. Cat says outright Robb was born when Ned was on campaign, but the only two battles to fight were the Trident and the Sack, which occurred near the same time. The Siege was no battle at all, and while he did fight at the Tower of Joy it was not on campaign.

 

7 hours ago, Melifeather said:

I find it hard to believe that Ashara would hunt Ned down during the war for a bootie call. Ashara was Elia's handmaiden. If she left Elia's side it wouldn't have been for something as frivolous as a sexual relationship. It would be very dangerous to travel for no particular reason other than to try and find Ned.

With regards to Robb's conception - Catelyn said she and Ned were together for two weeks before he returned to the war. 

Ned and Jon Arryn approached Hoster Tully to request men to help save Robert at Stoney Sept. The marriages sealed the contract, and I think the two weeks (fortnight) was the time it took for Hoster to muster his men. Two weeks is also long enough to hold a wedding, so I think they were married before Stoney Sept. Jon Arryn isn't credited with helping save Robert, so it would make sense that after he married Lysa he returned to whatever battlefront he was warring while Ned and Hoster saved Robert.

Robb could have been born during the Sack or even when Ned went to lift the siege at Storms End. This helps place Robb's birthday, but not Jon's. The period from when Jon Arryn called his banners until the Sack is said to be about one year, and the period from the beginning of the siege of Storms End until it was lifted was also said to be about a year. If Ned was still warring, the latest Robb was born was when the siege was lifted. Nine months prior would be Robb's conception with the Battle of the Bells two weeks later.

Sorry. I didn't mean to get into a timeline discussion. Lets get back to the main topic of the OP which is Ashara as Jon's mother...has anyone theorized why Jon was "unwanted" in Dorne? I mean, I don't think he was ever there, but...

It does not necessarily have to be simply a booty call. Ashara might have been sent on Elia's behalf to attempt to use her preexisting connection with Eddard to negotiate some sort of settlement on behalf of Aegon and Rhaenys.

You are correct. It was a two week period.

They married after Stony Sept. Jon's last male line heir were killed in that battle, so he married after it. And Ned and Jon were married to the Tully sisters in a double ceremony.

In regards to Robb's birth, see above. There were no battles after the Sack, save for the short combat at the Tower of Joy - which doesn't seem like much of a 'battle' compared to the actual war which officially ended at the Sack.

Regardless, my point was more that Jon is younger than Robb. I mean, we all know he's obviously Lyanna's son but if we work on proving the Ashara theory than it only makes sense for Jon to have been conceived after the marriage to Cat. Otherwise it makes no sense for Ned to be angsting so much about how he dishonoured Cat and dishonoured his vows and so forth.

I suppose someone could spin it and say that Ned secretly married Ashara and then dishonoured Cat by making a fake vow, but that's not in Ned's character. It seems more likely that he would have just admitted he'd secretly married Ashara Dayne and then offer either Benjen as a substitute or suggest a betrothal between his eventual heir and a child of Cat/Lysa/Edmure.

Jon being unwanted in Dorne is easy:

- The Dornish are more liberal but I think they can't be that liberal. There are a lot of little things that suggest it's less open sexually than it seems at first glance. Oberyn had to fight a duel simply because he was playing with some other dude's paramour. How could dynastic marriages function if people were having so much 'free love' that paternity could always be questioned? Seems more like there is a certain flexibility but things have to be kept on the DL and getting impregnated with a bastard is not that, so a public shame.

- Even if we take the Martells at face value, Ashara was a Dayne. They adhere more to Andal customs and values, so it's a dishonour.

- Ned was at least partially responsible for killing Arthur Dayne. If this combined with Ned's marriage to Cat truly drove Ashara to suicide, it's pretty doubtful they'd want to have Ned Stark's bastard bouncing around Starfall.

Edited by The Jingo

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5 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

I don’t, and I specially don’t see it as stupid. We know Ned wasn’t into whoring, we know he was shy, honourable, quiet. So, he either turns up w/ a baby or tells Robert that he has a bastard son, and also tells Robert he had a fling w/ a woman named Wylla? So, all of a sudden, Ned is not Ned anymore, but had two flings, w/ two different women? So, Ned tells Robert, “I have a bastard son. And btw, I also had an affair w/ a random woman named Wylla”. 

Yeah, I don’t see it. It makes much more sense to keep it simple, one fling, that resulted in a baby.  

To clarify further, the reason I see this as a stupid and unnecessary lie on Ned's part, is that Ned doesn't know (he could ask her, but she wasn't around him and he and couldn't control who else knows that truth) or have control over Wylla's whereabouts, actions or connections around the time of conception.

If Ned says "Wylla is Jon's mother" and witnesses can be found showing Wylla was minding her own business in Dorne for the first 6 months of the war (ie provably nowhere near Ned anytime near Jon's conception range of dates) then Ned can be found out in a clear and plain lie. Which ivites investigation into why he's lying and what he's actually hiding. 
Hence it would be a stupid lie. He can't control it and it is probably provably wrong. Certainly he can't be sure it isn't provably wrong.

Its unnecessary because he could do exactly as we see him doing. Refuse to say anything to anyone, shutting down all discussion aggressively, and let Robert believe the useful wrong thing without claiming it himself (Heck he could outright deny it to Roberts face and Robert would just take that as confirmation!)
 

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For me the matter is simple:

We know from GRRM that he agreed to let Benioff and Weiss make a TV series from his novels, as during a dinner they proofed to have read and understood the story by answering GRRM's question concerning Jon's parentatge correctly.

In the TV series, Jon's parentage is clear. There are only two possibilites for a different parentage:

1) Benioff and Weiss deliberately invented a different parentage for the TV series (very unprobable, because GRRM would have refused).

2) GRRM changed his mind later or didn't tell Benioff and Weiss the truth (for whatever reason). 

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11 hours ago, The Jingo said:

It does not necessarily have to be simply a booty call. Ashara might have been sent on Elia's behalf to attempt to use her preexisting connection with Eddard to negotiate some sort of settlement on behalf of Aegon and Rhaenys.

Anything is possible, but I haven't seen anything in the text to support this idea.

11 hours ago, The Jingo said:

They married after Stony Sept. Jon's last male line heir were killed in that battle, so he married after it. And Ned and Jon were married to the Tully sisters in a double ceremony.

There is contradicting information, so it could go either way. Yes, Denys was killed, but Jon Arryn's forces did not go with Hoster and Ned to Stoney Sept. Lets review a couple passages:

Quote

ASOS - Arya V

"The Mad King's men had been hunting Robert, trying to catch him before he could rejoin your father," he told her as they rode toward the gate. "He was wounded, being tended by some friends, when Lord Connington the Hand took the town with a mighty force and started searching house by house. Before they could find him, though, Lord Eddard and your grandfather came down on the town and stormed the walls. Lord Connington fought back fierce. They battled in the streets and alleys, even on the rooftops, and all the septons rang their bells so the smallfolk would know to lock their doors. Robert came out of hiding to join the fight when the bells began to ring. He slew six men that day, they say. One was Myles Mooton, a famous knight who'd been Prince Rhaegar's squire. He would have slain the Hand too, but the battle never brought them together. Connington wounded your grandfather Tully sore, though, and killed Ser Denys Arryn, the darling of the Vale. But when he saw the day was lost, he flew off as fast as the griffins on his shield. The Battle of the Bells, they called it after. Robert always said your father won it, not him."

Quote

 

ADWD - The Griffin Reborn

And so he swept down on Stoney Sept, closed off the town, and began a search. His knights went house to house, smashed in every door, peered into every cellar. He had even sent men crawling through the sewers, yet somehow Robert still eluded him. The townsfolk were hiding him. They moved him from one secret bolt-hole to the next, always one step ahead of the king's men. The whole town was a nest of traitors. At the end they had the usurper hidden in a brothel. What sort of king was that, who would hide behind the skirts of women? Yet whilst the search dragged on, Eddard Stark and Hoster Tully came down upon the town with a rebel army. Bells and battle followed, and Robert emerged from his brothel with a blade in hand, and almost slew Jon on the steps of the old sept that gave the town its name.

 

It's entirely possible that Denys Arryn accompanied Jon Arryn to Hoster Tully at Riverrun to negotiate the contract and remained while Jon left to command his own front somewhere else.

11 hours ago, The Jingo said:

In regards to Robb's birth, see above. There were no battles after the Sack, save for the short combat at the Tower of Joy - which doesn't seem like much of a 'battle' compared to the actual war which officially ended at the Sack.

Ned referred to battles after the Sack:

Quote

 

AGOT - Eddard II

Ned did not feign surprise; Robert's hatred of the Targaryens was a madness in him. He remembered the angry words they had exchanged when Tywin Lannister had presented Robert with the corpses of Rhaegar's wife and children as a token of fealty. Ned had named that murder; Robert called it war. When he had protested that the young prince and princess were no more than babes, his new-made king had replied, "I see no babes. Only dragonspawn." Not even Jon Arryn had been able to calm that storm. Eddard Stark had ridden out that very day in a cold rage, to fight the last battles of the war alone in the south. It had taken another death to reconcile them; Lyanna's death, and the grief they had shared over her passing.

 

 

11 hours ago, The Jingo said:

Regardless, my point was more that Jon is younger than Robb. I mean, we all know he's obviously Lyanna's son but if we work on proving the Ashara theory than it only makes sense for Jon to have been conceived after the marriage to Cat. Otherwise it makes no sense for Ned to be angsting so much about how he dishonoured Cat and dishonoured his vows and so forth.

You may be convinced Jon is Lyanna's son, but I am 99.99% convinced he's not. I really hope we receive confirmation either way when Winds is published.

Lying is dishonorable and Ned kept so many secrets from Catelyn to protect three people: Ashara, Lyanna, and Robert. Ned knew that Rhaegar never abducted Lyanna, and I think keeping that information from Robert was one of her promises. He nearly spilled the beans on the ride from Winterfell to Kings Landing to become Hand, but trying to get Robert to listen to what he was saying was fruitless:

Quote

AGOT - Eddard II

"Treachery was a coin the Targaryens knew well," Robert said. The anger was building in him again. "Lannister paid them back in kind. It was no less than they deserved. I shall not trouble my sleep over it."

"You were not there," Ned said, bitterness in his voice. Troubled sleep was no stranger to him. He had lived his lies for fourteen years, yet they still haunted him at night. "There was no honor in that conquest."

"The Others take your honor!" Robert swore. "What did any Targaryen ever know of honor? Go down into your crypt and ask Lyanna about the dragon's honor!"

"The Others take your honor!" Robert swore. "What did any Targaryen ever know of honor? Go down into your crypt and ask Lyanna about the dragon's honor!"

"You avenged Lyanna at the Trident," Ned said, halting beside the king. Promise me, Ned, she had whispered.

"That did not bring her back." Robert looked away, off into the grey distance. "The gods be damned. It was a hollow victory they gave me. A crown … it was the girl I prayed them for. Your sister, safe … and mine again, as she was meant to be. I ask you, Ned, what good is it to wear a crown? The gods mock the prayers of kings and cowherds alike."

"I cannot answer for the gods, Your Grace … only for what I found when I rode into the throne room that day," Ned said. "Aerys was dead on the floor, drowned in his own blood. His dragon skulls stared down from the walls. Lannister's men were everywhere. Jaime wore the white cloak of the Kingsguard over his golden armor. I can see him still. Even his sword was gilded. He was seated on the Iron Throne, high above his knights, wearing a helm fashioned in the shape of a lion's head. How he glittered!"

"This is well known," the king complained.

"I was still mounted. I rode the length of the hall in silence, between the long rows of dragon skulls. It felt as though they were watching me, somehow. I stopped in front of the throne, looking up at him. His golden sword was across his legs, its edge red with a king's blood. My men were filling the room behind me. Lannister's men drew back. I never said a word. I looked at him seated there on the throne, and I waited. At last Jaime laughed and got up. He took off his helm, and he said to me, 'Have no fear, Stark. I was only keeping it warm for our friend Robert. It's not a very comfortable seat, I'm afraid.'"

The king threw back his head and roared. His laughter startled a flight of crows from the tall brown grass. They took to the air in a wild beating of wings. "You think I should mistrust Lannister because he sat on my throne for a few moments?" He shook with laughter again. "Jaime was all of seventeen, Ned. Scarce more than a boy."

"Boy or man, he had no right to that throne."

"Perhaps he was tired," Robert suggested. "Killing kings is weary work. Gods know, there's no place else to rest your ass in that damnable room. And he spoke truly, it is a monstrous uncomfortable chair. In more ways than one." The king shook his head. "Well, now I know Jaime's dark sin, and the matter can be forgotten. I am heartily sick of secrets and squabbles and matters of state, Ned. It's all as tedious as counting coppers. Come, let's ride, you used to know how. I want to feel the wind in my hair again." He kicked his horse back into motion and galloped up over the barrow, raining earth down behind him.

For a moment Ned did not follow. He had run out of words, and he was filled with a vast sense of helplessness. Not for the first time, he wondered what he was doing here and why he had come. He was no Jon Arryn, to curb the wildness of his king and teach him wisdom. Robert would do what he pleased, as he always had, and nothing Ned could say or do would change that. He belonged in Winterfell. He belonged with Catelyn in her grief, and with Bran.

I understand that many readers think what Ned was referring to was how the Lannisters tricked Kings Landing into opening the gates and sacking the city, and how Jaime sat the throne to see who would come claim it, but Robert makes it clear that he knew all about it, so that cannot be what Ned was still "haunted" about. I believe that the Lannisters arranged for Lyanna's abduction and Rhaegar was their patsy. Tywin wanted to spark the Rebellion to finally get revenge on Aerys, and to place Cersei on the throne as queen.

Tobho Mott is a master armorer in Kings Landing who wears a large sapphire on a heavy silver chain around his neck. His home is larger and more ornate than any other armorer or blacksmith that lives on the Street of Steel. His home has double wooden doors of weirwood white and ebony black carved with a hunting scene. The man is rich and is one of few that can work Valyrian Steel as well as color metal without using paint. He's known for creating beautiful suits of armor. Loras and Renly each commissioned their highly decorated suits from Tobho, and I think Tywin also had him create a duplicate of Rhaegar's black ruby plated suit.

11 hours ago, The Jingo said:

I suppose someone could spin it and say that Ned secretly married Ashara and then dishonoured Cat by making a fake vow, but that's not in Ned's character. It seems more likely that he would have just admitted he'd secretly married Ashara Dayne and then offer either Benjen as a substitute or suggest a betrothal between his eventual heir and a child of Cat/Lysa/Edmure.

I don't think Ned would have married Ashara without consulting her family. If he wanted to marry her he'd have to wait until after the Rebellion, because the Daynes were part of the royalist side.

8 hours ago, Greywater-Watch said:

For me the matter is simple:

We know from GRRM that he agreed to let Benioff and Weiss make a TV series from his novels, as during a dinner they proofed to have read and understood the story by answering GRRM's question concerning Jon's parentatge correctly.

In the TV series, Jon's parentage is clear. There are only two possibilites for a different parentage:

1) Benioff and Weiss deliberately invented a different parentage for the TV series (very unprobable, because GRRM would have refused).

2) GRRM changed his mind later or didn't tell Benioff and Weiss the truth (for whatever reason). 

Are you satisfied with how the show dealt with every story line? Because Jon's parentage is only one thing. To me it seemed like they fulfilled every popular theory off this forum, but not much of it made any sense. I thought the last two seasons were a disaster and so far away from the text as to be it's own fan fiction.

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Webster's collegiate dictionary

sloe-eyed: (1867) 1 : having soft dark bluish or purplish-black eyes

 

Oxford Shorter English Dictionary:

sloe-eyed: having eyes the color of the sloe; dark-eyed (and they give the color of a sloe as blue-black)

 

Encarta World English Dictionary:

sloe-eyed: with dark, almond-shaped eyes [refers to the blue-black color of the fruit]

 

From a compilation of the Stories of John Cheever: (1974)

"Tall women, short women, sad women, women whose burnished hair flowed to their waists, sloe-eyed, squint-eyed, violet-eyed beauties of all kinds and ages"

 

From the UK wikipedia and another UK site that says the same thing:  "purple sloes, from which comes the expression sloe-eyed"

 

Some random forum post from ten years ago:

"Sloe-eyed means eyes that are dark, with a purple hue (like a black plum),"

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On 1/14/2020 at 11:58 AM, Melifeather said:

It's a sore subject for Ned. He loved Ashara, but married Catelyn out of necessity. That's not to say that he never developed affection for Catelyn over time. He took responsibility for his bastard, but the reason why he doesn't come right out and say Jon's mother was Ashara is because he was protecting her. She wants everyone to believe she's dead and it would have been necessary to erase any trail that would place her at Winterfell. The excuse that she jumped from the Palestone tower over the death of her brother and stillborn daughter is a ruse, but at least it confirms that she was indeed pregnant at one time. Ned told Robert that Jon's mother was named Wylla, and if Ashara is indeed disguised as Wylla, then Ned wasn't technically lying.

This is a very weak response to the question "why the need for secrecy if it's N+A=J?"

 

If Jon is "just" Ned and Ashara's bastard, who cares? Ned condemns Jon to a childhood of not knowing who his mother is, and causes a serious rift in his marriage to Catelyn...for what? To "protect" Ashara?

 

From what? From people knowing that she was at Winterfell (according to your headcanon)? What would the harm be in people knowing that?

 

Frankly, the inability of the N+A=J crowd to convincingly answer the "why the secrecy?" question is why the theory fell by the wayside long, long before Season 6 of the show ended.

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15 hours ago, Melifeather said:

Are you satisfied with how the show dealt with every story line? Because Jon's parentage is only one thing. To me it seemed like they fulfilled every popular theory off this forum, but not much of it made any sense. I thought the last two seasons were a disaster and so far away from the text as to be it's own fan fiction.

I am not satisfied with the TV show at all, at least not after Season 3 or 4. But nevertheless I cannot believe that Benioff/Weiss dared to change Jon's parentage. GRRM was involved closely in the first TV shows, he would have objected.

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On 1/14/2020 at 9:21 PM, The Jingo said:

There is an odd gap, but that's more GRRM's problem than ours. Cat says outright Robb was born when Ned was on campaign, but the only two battles to fight were the Trident and the Sack, which occurred near the same time. The Siege was no battle at all, and while he did fight at the Tower of Joy it was not on campaign.

I think you’re making a bad assumption.  We specifically know that battles occurred after the Sack, and the battle at the tower of joy was considered part of the war.

Quote

Nine moons had waxed and waned, and Robb had been born in Riverrun while his father still warred in the south.

The war continued after the Sack:

Quote

When he had protested that the young prince and princess were no more than babes, his new-made king had replied, “I see no babes.  Only dragon spawn.”  Not even Jon Arryn had been able to calm that storm.  Eddard Stark had ridden out that very day in a cold rage, to fight the last battles of the war alone in the south.

The Worldbook recognized that Eddard’s adventures in Dorne were part of the rebellion:

Quote

Most famous of all was Ser Arthur Dayne, the deadliest of King Aerys II’s Kingsguard, who defeated the Kingswood Brotherhood and won renown in every tourney and mêlée. He died nobly with his sworn brothers at the end of Robert’s Rebellion, after Lord Eddard Stark was said to have killed him in single combat. Lord Stark then returned Dawn to Starfall, and to Ser Arthur’s kin, as a sign of respect.

So to assume that Robb was born at the time of the Trident I think is faulty. 

Edited by Frey family reunion

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On 1/15/2020 at 12:26 AM, corbon said:

I've been over this dozens of times.
Its quite explicit. 
Robert asks "what was her name,(question) that common girl of yours (clarifying statement)?". Everything else is either a statement by Robert or an attempt to self-answer the same question. This includes another clarifying statement by Robert "You know the one I mean, your bastard's mother"
Ned does know who he means. He does know that Robert thinks that common girl is "his". He knows that Robert thinks the girl is Jon;s mother. But the question asked, and answered, is what was that girl, the one Robert is thinking of's, name.

Ned never said that Wylla was Jon's mum. Robert did. Ned let it stand without addressing it, which is deceptive, but not a lie. 

Ned's not a sophist trying to win an argment, Robert asks for Jon's mother name and Ned answers Wylla, as simple as that, anything else is making a mountain of a grain of sand imo, Wylla is a random girl Ned banged once and got pregnant for Robert because Ned told him, there is no reason to believe that Robert and Ned never had that  conversation and Ned in private just gave him a name, nor there is any reason to  believe Robert would make a research for Wylla.  There is absolutely nothing inconsistent and out of characters with this and it's incredibly unlikely that Ned's best pal would not ask about the girl and the boy when the news came to him.

If everyone believes Ned's the father, there is no reason for np one to dig up, why?? Ned had a fling during war and had a kid is the best explanation and no one would bat an eye.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by frenin

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12 hours ago, lehutin said:

This is a very weak response to the question "why the need for secrecy if it's N+A=J?"

 

If Jon is "just" Ned and Ashara's bastard, who cares? Ned condemns Jon to a childhood of not knowing who his mother is, and causes a serious rift in his marriage to Catelyn...for what? To "protect" Ashara?

 

From what? From people knowing that she was at Winterfell (according to your headcanon)? What would the harm be in people knowing that?

 

Frankly, the inability of the N+A=J crowd to convincingly answer the "why the secrecy?" question is why the theory fell by the wayside long, long before Season 6 of the show ended.

While I don’t subscribe to the theory that Jon is Ashara’s child, it’s clear that there may be some shroud of secrecy involving Ashara, and what she was up to during the events surrounding Robert’s rebellion.  At least if you subscribe to the theory that Ashara’s death was faked.  Couple that with the fact that Eddard allegedly refuses to allow Ashara’s name to be spoken at Winterfell, and the odd fact that Edric Dayne was apparently named after Ned, there may be something going on beneath the surface with Ashara that Eddard does wish to keep a secret.

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13 hours ago, lehutin said:

This is a very weak response to the question "why the need for secrecy if it's N+A=J?"

 

If Jon is "just" Ned and Ashara's bastard, who cares? Ned condemns Jon to a childhood of not knowing who his mother is, and causes a serious rift in his marriage to Catelyn...for what? To "protect" Ashara?

 

From what? From people knowing that she was at Winterfell (according to your headcanon)? What would the harm be in people knowing that?

 

Frankly, the inability of the N+A=J crowd to convincingly answer the "why the secrecy?" question is why the theory fell by the wayside long, long before Season 6 of the show ended.

IMO, the so called "need for secrecy" is over-inflated in the minds of readers. Its been built up, because the author has been dragging out the reveal of Jon's parentage for far too long. It makes people think that Ned kept his secrets in order to protect Jon's life, but Ned regrets his promises. He never thinks keeping his secrets were well worth it to preserve Jon's life - no - he thinks about how the lies have impacted his life and made life harder. The lies haunt him at night. If his lies were necessary to protect Jon's life, why would they haunt him?

Quote

"You were not there," Ned said, bitterness in his voice. Troubled sleep was no stranger to him. He had lived his lies for fourteen years, yet they still haunted him at night. "There was no honor in that conquest."

Quote

"Robert …" Joffrey is not your son, he wanted to say, but the words would not come. The agony was written too plainly across Robert's face; he could not hurt him more. So Ned bent his head and wrote, but where the king had said "my son Joffrey," he scrawled "my heir" instead. The deceit made him feel soiled. The lies we tell for love, he thought. May the gods forgive me. "What else would you have me say?"

I think Ned's lies are three-fold. 

1) To protect Ashara. I posit that Ashara fled Kings Landing when she was 6-8 weeks pregnant. There must have been rumors, because Barristan references her "dishonor" and that she "turned to Stark". I also think she became a handmaiden, because she was pregnant. A young woman without a maidenhead and about to become an unwed mother has very poor prospects for a good match in future. If Ned brought Ashara home with the intention of arranging a marriage pact with the Daynes, then marrying Catelyn was an insult on top of injury. Cersei seemed to suspect Ashara was Jon's mother:

Quote

"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?"

Cersei, Catelyn, and Harwin's suspicions include Ashara as a potential mother for Jon Snow. Ned and Ashara's relationship must have been well-known, as was Ned's trip to Dorne as indicated by Cersei. 

Ned seems to have had a good excuse to go to Ashara's home at Starfall - to return Arthur's sword, but it would have been the opportunity for them to talk about his marriage to Catelyn and what Ashara wanted for herself moving forward. Ned would have been motivated by guilt - and love - in order to go along with her fake death. A lie kept for love.

2) To protect Robert. If it's true that Rhaegar never abducted Lyanna and Robert took the throne with the help of Tywin's treachery, then there would be no honor in taking the throne by conquest. It would forever taint his rule and the reigns of his successors, and he would be viewed as a usurper. Ned loved Robert like a brother, and he also knew the seriousness of keeping this lie. He did it to protect Robert's rule and discourage any challengers. Robert took the throne through conquest and it needed to be viewed as legitimate.

3) To honor his sister's last requests - for love. There is symbolic evidence that Lyanna was raped multiple times and then "gored by a boar". Here's a prediction: I think Sumner Crakehall slashed Lyanna with his sword. His sigil is a boar, and Robert's death was a parallel to hers. She was in extreme pain when Ned found her and I think she begged Ned to give her the gift of mercy.

I think we can get an idea of Lyanna's path by looking at everything that happened to Arya. I expect many people won't take the time to read my interpretations. They would rather dismiss my theories, because they are very different than the mainstream, but I don't mind. I think much of it will be confirmed in time.

Deciphering symbolism may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I believe the titled chapters of AFFC and ADWD tell two stories. One on the surface and one hidden. The beginning of Cat of the Canals chapter very strikingly describes places in Braavos that mirror places in the Riverlands:

The Long Canal is a mirror of the Trident. It ends at the Moon Pool. The Trident ends at Maidenpool. Moons and maidens seems apt as women are often associated with moons, because of their menstral cycles.

The Prestayns and Antaryons are two square towers - one on each side of the Long Canal. They are mirrors to the Twin Towers of the Freys that spans the Green Fork of the Trident. Down at the end of the Long Canal lies the Palace of Truth also called the Hall of Truth. The Palace of Truth is on an island located on the western end of the Green Canal. It's parallel is the Isle of Faces in the God’s Eye. The “green copper domes” of the Palace of Truth must be referring to either the weirwood trees on the island or the green men, or both. Tree tops and the tops of heads can both be said to be domes. The Isle of the Gods is across the water from the Palace of Truth to the northwest. Of course the God’s Eye and Isle of Faces is southeast of the Twin Towers of the Freys, which are located on the Green Fork of the Trident.

The sweetwater river is an aquaduct made of stone and is a series of arches. It’s mirror is the Frey’s bridge which is a stone arch between the two towers. The Frey's bridge is guarded in the middle by the Water Tower. It has arrow slits, murder holes, and portcullises for defense, which I believe mimic the defensive details of the Titan of Braavos. The current titan of the riverlands is Walder Frey.

The Inn of the Kneeling Man is located on the Red Fork where Torrhen Stark kneeled. Both Arya and Brienne stopped there. It’s the place where Arya’s true identity was revealed by Harwin. Hot Pie is a baker there.

Silty Town district = the Neck is directly north of the Twins

I hope I've sparked some interest in reexamining the titled chapters, and hopefully a tiny speck of understanding of where I'm coming from.

So back to Lyanna the tomboy wolfmaid... 

In the last few weeks I have been reviewing my interpretations of the Cat of the Canals chapter, and through discussions with St Daga in the Heresy thread, I've changed the way I interpret the repeated parallel histories. It appears the characters are like mummers acting out plays. Each time the play is acted out, the mummers or cast of characters changes, and the finale or ending changes too. Sometimes the characters involved get a repeat performance or they play a different character. Arya is one such mummer. For example, Arya played the same character - "the tomboy wolfmaid" - twice. It's a character that Lyanna had played prior to Robert's Rebellion, but she died at the end of the production. Arya managed to survive each ending, while Sansa played the part of “the Lady” in one play while her wolf, Lady played the part the in the second production. The part of "the Lady" was previously performed by Ashara.

Act one - Arya enters as the wolfmaid. She travelled with her father and her lady sister to Kings Landing. Once they neared the Trident, Arya played swords with Mycah (the freckled boy). The playing at swords was a small echo of Lyanna and Howland at the Harrenhal Tourney - both are suspects for the Knight of the laughing tree.

When Joffrey and Sansa came upon them, the performance had Nymeria bite Joffrey, then Arya threw his sword into the Trident. Their play was smaller - like a children’s theater version of Rhaegar looking for the Knight of the Laughing Tree, with his later defeat in the Trident. The tossing of the sword is symbolic of his lost reign. The two performances were very similar, albeit on a much smaller scale, but the essence of the play remained the same.

Act two - Joffrey is still playing “the prince”, but the wolfmaid and the lady are replaced by understudies: Nymeria and Lady. IMO this character change Is meant to represent the exchange of fates between Ashara and Lyanna, because "Lady" is supposed to get killed. The hunt for Arya the wolfmaid ends with Ned killing Lady in an act of mercy. It’s the play’s finale, and I believe a repeat performance for Ned.

In Arya’s second performance of the play, she walks out on stage disguised as a boy and maybe this is why she survives? Arya is still the wolfmaid, but she is presumed to be dead. Her "part" later gets recast by Jeyne Poole. Gendry is brought in to replace Robert, and Lommy the mottled boy replaces Mycah, since Mycah was cut down by Sandor and was unavailable to play the part. Hot Pie’s inclusion makes me suspect Lyanna had a third companion, but I am unsure who he was in the past. He could have been Benjen, but surely there would be indications - even symbolic ones - that the wolfmaid and the baker's boy were related? Perhaps he's simply confirmation that Lyanna and Howland had assistance from a baker's boy at an inn?. The play unfolds like before, but this time Arya and Lommy's playing at swords turns into a real battle for their lives when Armory Lorch's men attack them. Lommy is injured with a spear to his calf, but he, Arya, and Gendry manage to escape down a tunnel - very symbolic of a death, with a rebirth close to the shore of the Gods Eye. Of course later on they are recaptured by Gregor Clegane's men, and Raff the Sweetling kills injured Lommy with a spear to the throat, but the wolfmaid successully remains hidden by disguise. The wolfmaid is presumbed dead and the freckled/mottled boy is killed - quite a different ending to the play. If we consider the three plays we have three different endings: 

Play #1 - the wolfmaid (Lyanna) died, the Lady is presumed dead (Ashara) and the (injured?) mottled boy (Howland) escaped and survived.
Play #2 - the wolfmaid (Arya) escaped, Lady was given the "gift" of mercy, but the freckled boy (Mycah) died. 
Play #3 - the wolfmaid (Arya) is presumed dead, the Lady was kept prisoner (Sansa), but the mottled boy (Lommy) died.

 

8 hours ago, Greywater-Watch said:

I am not satisfied with the TV show at all, at least not after Season 3 or 4. But nevertheless I cannot believe that Benioff/Weiss dared to change Jon's parentage. GRRM was involved closely in the first TV shows, he would have objected.

GRRM has said that he'll be telling a very different story than HBO and that it'll be up to people to decide which version they prefer.

Edited by Melifeather

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1 hour ago, Melifeather said:

IMO, the so called "need for secrecy" is over-inflated in the minds of readers. Its been built up, because the author has been dragging out the reveal of Jon's parentage for far too long. It makes people think that Ned kept his secrets in order to protect Jon's life, but Ned regrets his promises. He never thinks keeping his secrets were well worth it to preserve Jon's life - no - he thinks about how the lies have impacted his life and made life harder. The lies haunt him at night. If his lies were necessary to protect Jon's life, why would they haunt him?

You said it yourself: GRRM has been "dragging out the reveal for far too long." So the need for secrecy hasn't been "over-inflated" or "built up" by readers. It's a natural consequence of establishing a mystery in book 1 that has yet to be resolved as of book 5 (of 7).

And your version of the N+A=J theory simply fails at explaining why there is a need for secrecy if Jon is just a bastard. I assume you're aware that Ned Stark never thinks of Ashara Dayne in any of his POV chapters, not for any reason or in any context, not even in his final chapter where he dreams of the Tourney at Harrenhal.

 

So you're arguing that Ned has some deeply held, bittersweet feelings for Ashara Dayne, when the fact is that the man never thinks of her. Even when Cersei blurts out Ashara's name, there's no response, internal or external, from Ned; while Ned has an immediate, intense emotional response to Cersei blurting out Lyanna's name:

Quote

“The night of our wedding feast, the first time we shared a bed, he called me by your sister’s name. He was on top of me, in me, stinking of wine, and he whispered ‘Lyanna.’”

Ned Stark thought of pale blue roses, and for a moment he wanted to weep.

Speaking of which,

1 hour ago, Melifeather said:

Cersei seemed to suspect Ashara was Jon's mother:

setting aside that Cersei is literally just repeating a rumor she was, quote, "told" (by whom? nobody knows), if you actually think Cersei Lannister is in any way a reliable source on Jon's parentage, then you're just way too overinvested in your pet theory.

Edited by lehutin
Formatting.

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1 hour ago, lehutin said:

You said it yourself: GRRM has been "dragging out the reveal for far too long." So the need for secrecy hasn't been "over-inflated" or "built up" by readers. It's a natural consequence of establishing a mystery in book 1 that has yet to be resolved as of book 5 (of 7).

And your version of the N+A=J theory simply fails at explaining why there is a need for secrecy if Jon is just a bastard. I assume you're aware that Ned Stark never thinks of Ashara Dayne in any of his POV chapters, not for any reason or in any context, not even in his final chapter where he dreams of the Tourney at Harrenhal.

 

So you're arguing that Ned has some deeply held, bittersweet feelings for Ashara Dayne, when the fact is that the man never thinks of her. Even when Cersei blurts out Ashara's name, there's no response, internal or external, from Ned; while Ned has an immediate, intense emotional response to Cersei blurting out Lyanna's name:

How do you suggest the author handle Ned's thoughts of Ashara if he was also trying to keep from revealing his secrets? It is only natural to wonder about missing information, but we should exercise caution when using a lack of something as evidence.

Of course Ned would have a reaction upon hearing his dead sister's name, especially when in conjunction with her betrothed Robert. It made him want to weep. If Lyanna had been able to marry Robert, she'd likely be alive today. But if Ashara is still alive, then all that's left are the ancient memories of a lost love. Nothing too much to be sad or shocked over hearing their name again.

1 hour ago, lehutin said:

setting aside that Cersei is literally just repeating a rumor she was, quote, "told" (by whom? nobody knows), if you actually think Cersei Lannister is in any way a reliable source on Jon's parentage, then you're just way too overinvested in your pet theory.

I don't know that I'm "invested" in my theories, but I certainly feel comfortable that my theories are closer to the truth than those more widely accepted. 

Edited by Melifeather

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This can't be a coincidence:

naid means "lamprey" and naide means "husband / sinner / baby,"

aschu means "eel" and ascuch "means to escape"

ullahbheist (the u is pronounced "wu") means "lamprey", and ulla means "church"

llamwr means "leaper" and just above it is "llamprai" and "neid" and "naid"

llemprog mean "lamprey" and just above it "neid" and and "llem" and "leaper"

Wyman Manderly is Lord Lamprey, and gwymon is on the same page as gwylla in the Welsh dictionary--and Wymon has a Wylla, and Wyman has a debt to the Starks that can never be repaid.  Jon Stark of the Greystarks built the Wolf's Den. And I think Ned and Ashara got married at the Wolf's Den.  In Latin, lampas means "wedding torch" and there is a secret passage to the Godswood in the Wolf's Den.

 

When Davos is held captive at the Wolf's Den he is called "dead man"--and it is a comfy jail cell:

"As cells went, it was large and queerly comfortable. He suspected it might once have been some lordling's bedchamber."

Someone who is supposed to be dead is staying at the Wolf's Den.

and the jailer's weapons are "Lady Lu" and "Whore" = Lady Lemore.

Davos' death is faked and the "dead man" leaves Westeros on a secret mission to take care of an orphaned child.

 

Edited by By Odin's Beard

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1 hour ago, By Odin's Beard said:

This can't be a coincidence:

naid means "lamprey" and naide means "husband / sinner / baby,"

aschu means "eel" and ascuch "means to escape"

ullahbheist (the u is pronounced "wu") means "lamprey", and ulla means "church"

llamwr means "leaper" and just above it is "llamprai" and "neid" and "naid"

llemprog mean "lamprey" and just above it "neid" and and "llem" and "leaper"

Wyman Manderly is Lord Lamprey, and gwymon is on the same page as gwylla in the Welsh dictionary--and Wymon has a Wylla, and Wyman has a debt to the Starks that can never be repaid.  Jon Stark of the Greystarks built the Wolf's Den. And I think Ned and Ashara got married at the Wolf's Den.  In Latin, lampas means "wedding torch" and there is a secret passage to the Godswood in the Wolf's Den.

 

When Davos is held captive at the Wolf's Den he is called "dead man"--and it is a comfy jail cell:

"As cells went, it was large and queerly comfortable. He suspected it might once have been some lordling's bedchamber."

Someone who is supposed to be dead is staying at the Wolf's Den.

and the jailer's weapons are "Lady Lu" and "Whore" = Lady Lemore.

Davos' death is faked and the "dead man" leaves Westeros on a secret mission to take care of an orphaned child.

 

Very interesting! I’m not very familiar with your work. Are you into anagrams like Seams? What language are some of these words? 
 

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2 hours ago, Melifeather said:

How do you suggest the author handle Ned's thoughts of Ashara if he was also trying to keep from revealing his secrets? It is only natural to wonder about missing information, but we should exercise caution when using a lack of something as evidence.

Just look at Ned's thoughts of Rhaegar and Lyanna. He never reveals in his thoughts that they are Jon's parents. But he still thinks of both Rhaegar and Lyanna quite often in his chapters, especially at crucial points.

 

In comparison, Ned also never reveals in his thoughts that Ashara is Jon's mom. But it's so much more than that: Ned never thinks of Ashara. Ever. Not even once. Ned doesn't even think of anything that might be associated to Ashara the way blue roses are associated with Lyanna.

 

That means you are arguing for a theory that directly involves Ned Stark and Ashara Dayne, yet you have nothing from Ned Stark himself (a major POV character in AGOT) to support the theory. You have to rely entirely on a combination of headcanon and in-universe hearsay from characters who were "told" rumors by unnamed others.

 

GRRM has a bachelor's and Master's in journalism from Northwestern. IMO, his journalism education background can be seen in how he writes about Ashara in the books. Every single time she is mentioned as maybe being Jon's mother, it is from a character who is just repeating some story he/she heard from someone else.

  • Catelyn heard the rumor from her "maids," who themselves heard it from Ned's "soldiers," who heard it from...?
  • Cersei was "told" the rumor.
  • Edric Dayne was told by his Aunt Allyria that Ned and Ashara fell in love, yet Edric Dayne also believes Wylla is Jon's mom.
  • Harwin heard the rumor as a child at Winterfell, doesn't believe it's true, and even explains that if it were true, it wouldn't be a big deal.

Note that Meera never actually says Ned and Ashara were in love. In fact, she says it was Brandon who asked Ashara to dance with Ned, as Ned was "too shy" to leave his bench. So when you actually organize all the "evidence" for N+A=J in the text, it's astoundingly poor. It's literally just in-universe rumor.

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4 minutes ago, lehutin said:

Just look at Ned's thoughts of Rhaegar and Lyanna. He never reveals in his thoughts that they are Jon's parents. But he still thinks of both Rhaegar and Lyanna quite often in his chapters, especially at crucial points.

He thinks of Lyanna quite often, Rhaegar not so much. 

Quote

For the first time in years, he found himself remembering Rhaegar Targaryen.  He wondered if Rhaegar had frequented brothels; somehow he thought not.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition with his earlier thoughts of Jon Snow:

Quote

Riding through the rainy night, Ned saw Jon Snow’s face in front of him, so like a younger version of his own.  If the gods frowned so on bastards, he thought dully, why did they fill men with such lusts?

I suppose you could connect the two thoughts together by coming to the conclusion that Ned thinks that Rhaegar satisfies his lusts with high born maidens like his sister as opposed to common prostitutes.  Yet somehow it doesn’t really fit smoothly.

Rhaegar was never one known for his lustful disposition.

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5 minutes ago, lehutin said:

Just look at Ned's thoughts of Rhaegar and Lyanna. He never reveals in his thoughts that they are Jon's parents. But he still thinks of both Rhaegar and Lyanna quite often in his chapters, especially at crucial points.

 

In comparison, Ned also never reveals in his thoughts that Ashara is Jon's mom. But it's so much more than that: Ned never thinks of Ashara. Ever. Not even once. Ned doesn't even think of anything that might be associated to Ashara the way blue roses are associated with Lyanna.

 

That means you are arguing for a theory that directly involves Ned Stark and Ashara Dayne, yet you have nothing from Ned Stark himself (a major POV character in AGOT) to support the theory. You have to rely entirely on a combination of headcanon and in-universe hearsay from characters who were "told" rumors by unnamed others.

 

GRRM has a bachelor's and Master's in journalism from Northwestern. IMO, his journalism education background can be seen in how he writes about Ashara in the books. Every single time she is mentioned as maybe being Jon's mother, it is from a character who is just repeating some story he/she heard from someone else.

  • Catelyn heard the rumor from her "maids," who themselves heard it from Ned's "soldiers," who heard it from...?
  • Cersei was "told" the rumor.
  • Edric Dayne was told by his Aunt Allyria that Ned and Ashara fell in love, yet Edric Dayne also believes Wylla is Jon's mom.
  • Harwin heard the rumor as a child at Winterfell, doesn't believe it's true, and even explains that if it were true, it wouldn't be a big deal.

Note that Meera never actually says Ned and Ashara were in love. In fact, she says it was Brandon who asked Ashara to dance with Ned, as Ned was "too shy" to leave his bench. So when you actually organize all the "evidence" for N+A=J in the text, it's astoundingly poor. It's literally just in-universe rumor.

The evidence that Rhaegar abducted Lyanna is hearsay also, and nobody, not one single character, ever suggests or hints that Rhaegar might be Jon’s father or Lyanna his mother, even though most everyone believes that he kidnapped her and Ned ended up with a bastard child during the Rebellion. Surely there would have been rumors. 

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5 hours ago, frenin said:

Ned's not a sophist trying to win an argment,

 

No, he's not. He's a man with a deadly secret talking to the very man from whence that danger exists. But he doesn't need to sophistry in this case. Thanks to GRRM, the conversation flows naturally without it.

5 hours ago, frenin said:

Robert asks for Jon's mother name and Ned answers Wylla, as simple as that,

Except thats an inaccurate rendering of the conversation. I don't believe people are being actively dishonest here, but thats a description of a whole different conversation. Its right there in black and white.
I don't understand why people can't just go back and read it with a blank slate and see whats actually there, rather than cling to the inaccurate idea that the conversation was about "Jon's mother".

Robert is reminiscing about old times and freedom, segues to grumbling about Ned never being that free and easy anyway (never the boy you were) and from there to "yet, there was that one time...' and asking for the name of "that common girl of yours".
The whole time, even after Ned gives him the name Wylla again, Robert is thinking about free, fun, times with pretty girls. 

Robert is not asking about Jon's mother. He's asking/thinking about that rare wench that made Lord Eddard Stark forget his honor one time.

The whole Jon's mother thing is nothing more than Robert trying to clarify to Ned who he's think of, to jog Ned's response.

Ned answered the question Robert asked, both literally and in general terms of the conversation. Its not a 'weasel out' from Ned being super careful here and sophist-ing past Robert's question. 
Ned's good fortune about how this conversation ran is due to GRRM, not anything Ned did.

5 hours ago, frenin said:

anything else is making a mountain of a grain of sand imo,anything else is making a mountain of a grain of sand imo, Wylla is a random girl Ned banged once and got pregnant for Robert because Ned told him, there is no reason to believe that Robert and Ned never had that  conversation and Ned in private just gave him a name, nor there is any reason to  believe Robert would make a research for Wylla.  There is absolutely nothing inconsistent and out of characters with this

Yes there is. Its inconsistent for Ned because we consistently see him shutting down, coldly and angrily, any conversation about Jon's origins. And we even see it in this conversation. But there's no point in shutting down the conversation about Jon's mother when you've outright told the other participant who the mother is.

Its out of character for Ned because Ned lies rarely and only out of necessity and never casually. This would have been an unnecessary and stupid lie. If it was done, it must have been done casually without much thought, because it isn't controllable. Its nearly impossible that Ned can know that no one can prove Wylla wasn't anywhere near him in the early war - because she wasn't near him, and she wasn't under his control, nor were the peope around her.
Unless we somehow get new information, that Wylla was a camp follower or similar near him around the time of Jon's conception - something that is currently contra-indicated by her placement at Starfall for over a decade and likely appearance at ToJ. If we get such information, then that changes what is reasonable and relevant for Ned to say.

5 hours ago, frenin said:

and it's incredibly unlikely that Ned's best pal would not ask about the girl and the boy when the news came to him.

We agree.
I'm just also saying its incredibly unlikely King Robert didn't get a report from his Master of Whispers about Ned's visit to Starfall to return Dawn.
So I think Robert came into that earlier conversation with Ned with pre-formed ideas, likely about Wylla being Jon's mum. And in a parallel (why, with all the emphasis in parallel and similarities, does no one else see this?) to what we see, the old conversation showed much the form of the one we witnessed - Robert with assumptions, Ned saying as little as possible but not denying Robert's useful assumptions. 

5 hours ago, frenin said:

If everyone believes Ned's the father, there is no reason for np one to dig up, why?? Ned had a fling during war and had a kid is the best explanation and no one would bat an eye.

If that were the case then Ned has no reason to shut down conversations about Jon's mum. But he does, consistently.

And Ned has a deep dark secret. Its important that people not be suspicious or digging up details. So any lie told needs to be unprovable as a lie - something he can control or know about. Wylla's actions and whereabouts around the time of Jon's conception are almost certainly not such a thing.

What happens to Ned if Varys comes to Robert with a report saying "Your Grace, I have 7 sworn witnesses that say Wylla of Starfall was at Nightsong Feb-June 282AC. She bore Lord Byren Caron a bastard daughter in May 282, who died. She cannot be the mother of Ned Stark's bastard. What is he hiding?"
Obviously that particular report is made up out of whole cloth. The point is that Ned can't control, and likely doesn't know, exactly what Wylla was doing and who she was around during the relevant times. Its almost certain that she wasn't actually around him. That makes this particular lie waaay too risky and stupid. Better to say nothing, as we consistently see him do. Actions speak louder than words, Ned raises Jon as his son.

1 hour ago, Melifeather said:

How do you suggest the author handle Ned's thoughts of Ashara if he was also trying to keep from revealing his secrets? It is only natural to wonder about missing information, but we should exercise caution when using a lack of something as evidence.

By odd bits of wistful memory that are not relevant to the mystery? Thoughts about his feelings, or his 'lost love'. Seems not very difficult. 
But there is nothing. Nothing at all.

Cautious, yes. But caution does not mean ignoring it entirely. We see inside Ned's head a lot, but there is nothing, not the slightest tiny hint, about Ashara Dayne or any lover of his. Only stuff tied to his sisterly love for Lyanna.

1 hour ago, Melifeather said:

Of course Ned would have a reaction upon hearing his dead sister's name, especially when in conjunction with her betrothed Robert. It made him want to weep. If Lyanna had been able to marry Robert, she'd likely be alive today. But if Ashara is still alive, then all that's left are the ancient memories of a lost love. Nothing too much to be sad or shocked over hearing their name again.

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