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Fanfic: Ned Stark Lives
At the very end of A Game of Thrones, the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Lord Eddard Stark is seized for treason after trying to remove King Joffrey from the Iron Throne. He is then forced to take the black and go to the Night's Watch under threat that his daughters' lives will be spared, and that his son Robb Stark will stop his campaign in the Riverlands and return North. Everything goes according to plan until suddenly, Joffrey decides to chop off Ned Stark's head and start the War of the Five Kings.

But what if Ned Stark wasn't executed? What would have happened to the continent of Westeros if the War of the Five Kings became the War of the Four Kings, and that the Starks would return back North?

Ned Stark Lives!, its second and third installments explore this what-if scenario as closely as George R.R. Martin could have written it.

This series provides examples of:

  • A Child Shall Lead Them: In contrast to canon, Robb managed to return the reins of power to his father, and Jon resigned as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch to escort Bran to Coldhands.
    • After Ned went into a coma, Robb took over command once again.
  • All Myths Are True: By the later chapters of Part II, this trope is happening so often that many characters are starting to believe that most (if not all) the stories they were told by the elders when they were kids were true.
  • Alternate Universe Fic: What if Ned Stark wasn't executed?
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Arya takes the news of Joffrey's death very well. The Northmen as well, celebrating after the news starts to spread around camp.
  • Anyone Can Die: It's A Song of Ice and Fire, with the War of the Four Kings raging in the central regions. Come Part II, the second Long Night is upon the continent. What did you expect?
  • Anything But That!: Quoted word-for-word by Ned when Cat threatens to bore him with a sermon or two from her faith's holy book.
  • Arc Words: The house words of House Stark, i.e. Winter Is Coming.
  • Arranged Marriage: Daenerys to Hizdhar zo Loraq though she plans to leaving him on the wedding day and eventually marry Aegon. She also arranges a betrothal between herself and Euron Greyjoy to receive his ships, but plans to kill him just before they reach Westeros.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Jon's charges against the Night's Watch are: aiding the wildlings, giving them knowledge of the Watch's defenses, helping them climb the wall, murdering another member of the Watch, and sleeping with a woman.
    Lord Steward Marsh: How do you answer these charges?
    Jon: Not true! Except that last part.
    • It quickly becomes clear that only Thorne cares Jon slept with a woman, and that's just because he hates him.
  • Ascended Extra: The fic gives POV chapters to many characters that didn't have one in the original series, even minor or mention-only characters. Hot Pie and Shae also get fairly significant story arcs.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: In Ned's dream, Brandon the Builder claimed that the Great Other cannot be killed, but merely imprisoned.
  • Author Appeal: In case the title hasn't given you a hint, the fic is very Stark-orientated.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Probably the only high point for Theon, when he gets crowned at the kingsmoot held to choose Balon's sucessor.
  • Awful Truth: Two of them in Part 2. Jon Snow considers the revelation of his true parentage to be one while Stannis suffers a mini Heroic BSOD when he realizes he's not in fact the Prince that was Promised, despite Melisandre's claims otherwise.
    • Tyrion admits to Kevan that Lancel had been having an affair with Cersei, that he played a role in Robert's death, and that Jaime is the father of Cersei's children. Kevan calls for more wine.
  • Back from the Dead: Robb Stark, after being killed by Ramsay during their trial by combat. Fortunately, his soul escaped into Grey Wind's body and was promptly revived by Thoros soon afterwards.
  • Badass Family: The Starks, moreso now that they're reunited. The Lannisters as well, who start to fight more seriously for their survival after the Fall of King's Landing. Tommen even decides to become more of a man by learning how to sword fight with Jaime Lannister.
  • Batman Gambit: As in canon, Tyrion's a master of this.
    • In order to make the knee-bending ceremony as troublefree as possible, Tyrion proclaimed that only Robb and Edmure need kneel to represent The North and the Riverlands respectively. Just as he predicted, their bannermen knelt as well so that the pair did not bend the knee "alone".
    • Shouting out Sansa's name during Sandor's duel with his brother. It saved the Hound's life.
  • Battle Couple: Arya and Gendry, although Ned and Catelyn both try to talk Arya out of fighting in their battles.
  • Berserk Button: The normally composed Ned Stark punches Alliser Thorne in the face for questioning his choice to have Jon escorting Bran rather than stay to protect Winterfell. Though to be fair, he was under a lot of stress at the time.
    • Do not use the word "bastard" around Arya, unless you want to get all sorts of reactions from her.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Many of the Lannister soldiers end up killing themselves if they're caught and imprisoned, after it becomes clear that Stannis sacrifices his enemies to the Lord of Light (by burning them alive).
  • Big Damn Heroes: Played with. Beric Dondarrion's men save Ned, Arya and the other boys from Vargo Hoat, but Ned was already talking them out of killing them all.
    • A straight example in part II. During the Red Fork Battle between the Baratheon-Lannister-Tully-Tyrell alliance and the Others, the Vale saves everyone's bacon by attacking the others from behind right on time.
  • Black and Grey Morality: See Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! below. There is no "white" morality in Westeros.
  • Broken Aesop: From Robb's rebellion, Arya learnt that it is ok to defy a king if his demands are unjust.
  • The Bus Came Back: Jaqen H'ghar appeared briefly early in Ned and Arya's chapters, before returning in the sequel in Tyrion's chapters.
    • After being missing for the entire sequel, Littlefinger returns with the vast army of the Vale to save the Baratheon-Lannister-Tully-Tyrell alliance from a massive force of Others and Wights. However, after being missing for so long and showing up so conveniently, this just makes Tyrion and Stannis more suspicious of him.
  • Butt Monkey: In contrast to his Tear Jerker status in canon, Theon is this. Besides losing Winterfell after occupying it for a short while, he gets captured after peeing on Tywin's grave during the ironborn's raid on Casterly Rock.
  • Came Back Wrong: All the wights, including Maester Luwin.
  • The Chosen One: Jon Snow is Azor Ahai.
  • Christmas Cake: Alysanne Lefford, which is why she proposes to Tyrion.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Ramsay, in contrast to Robb Stark during their trial by combat, couldn't care less about fighting honorably and plans to cheat his way to victory. This worries Arya to no end. He still dies nonetheless.
  • Continuity Nod: When Cat gives Arya The Talk, she casually mentions that Lysa was quite experienced about the whole thing, and she never knew why. This is because Lysa bedded Littlefinger when they were kids.
  • Cool Sword: The true Lightbringer, found in the deepest part of Winterfell's crypts.
  • Crapsack World: The North may have been spared from a ruinous war as compared to canon, but most of the Seven Kingdoms are still fighting the War of the Four Kings. After the Wall fell, the second Long Night is upon the continent.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Samwell Tarly becomes even more badass, killing an Other that was trying to kill Mance Ryder.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Joffrey gets a suitably horrific death at the hands of Stannis, in contrast to how he died in the books. Also, every prisoner who ends up sacrificed to the Lord of Light.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The Stark kids being wargs. The kids themselves lean towards the Awesome part, their parents the Cursed part.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Stannis.
    • After the North ceases hostilities with the Westerlands, he uses a shadow baby to assassinate Tywin, knowing that Tywin's death will greatly weaken the Westerlands.
    • Also, he uses Melisandre's magic to wreck havoc on the Reach's armies. He also takes Loras and Margaery hostage, forcing Mace to commit his troops to Stannis's cause.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Maester Luwin.
  • Determinator: As in canon, Stannis deconstructs this trope. His refusal to compromise what is his puts the entire continent at risk because he can't work with rival factions to stop the Others. He seemed close to possibly calling a truce with the Lannisters and Tyrells, but the Others attack before he can give an answer.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Just like in canon, Robb regrets his decision to release Theon back to the Iron Isles, while Cat regrets allowing Tyrion to have a trial by combat while he was at the Vale.
    • Theon's plans are this as as well (He did seize Winterfell, but failed to hold it, and the raid on Casterly Rock is successful, but he gets captured).
  • Disney Villain Death: Played straight with Ser Meryn and Ser Boros, when the wildfire starts exploding. Subverted with Joffrey, who is soon captured by Stannis and is immediately killed in single combat.
  • Doomed by Canon: Subverted. Jaime almost loses his sword hand, but convinces the maesters to leave it on.
    • Played straight with Quentyn Martell, who still gets roasted alive by the dragons (although at least he doesn't take days to die).
    • Yoren and Lommy still dies en route to the North.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Ned thinks his dream while in a coma is this. More disturbingly, it implies that Bran will not return from his trip to Coldhands.
  • Emo Teen: Loras Tyrell takes this to new heights after being held hostage by Stannis.
  • Enemy Mine: Happens many times. Most famously, the Lannisters ally with the Tyrells, and the Night's Watch (reluctantly) with the wildlings to fight the Others.
    • Tyrion treats with Stannis and Brynden Tully so they can stop fighting and deal with the real problem: the Others.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Varys and Barristan Selmy had this when Dany asked if Rhaegar had a second son. Varys finally figured out that Jon was that second son.
  • Eye Scream: How Gregor Clegane kills one of Stannis's men during interrogation after trying to learn more about his plans to invade King's Landing now that Tywin was killed.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Tyrion, who explicitly dislikes Joffrey for his cruelty and sadism, is visibly disgusted after he hears what Stannis did to his body after killing him in single combat.
  • Expy: Winterfell when attacked by the Others is one for Helm's Deep during the siege in The Two Towers.
  • Fantastic Racism: The wildlings are on the receiving end of this. After traveling to White Harbor with the Starks and the Night's Watch, the Manderlys refuse to let them enter the city.
  • For Want of a Nail: Ned's stay of execution was due to Varys finding out about Littlefinger's backstab, and drugging Joffrey so that he was unable to pass sentence. As a result, the North is better prepared against the ironborn invasion.
  • Gambit Pile Up: Daenerys planned to betray her husband, take her dragons back, and burn her enemies, but Hizdahr made arrangements of his own. He was planning to killing all her men so she would trapped in Meereen. Then Quentyn Martell showed up to marry her. When she refused, he tried to free her dragons, which gave Hizdahr time to interrogate Missandei and learn Daenerys' plan. When Hizdahr had his man attack her, Ser Barristan defeated them and Daenerys took him prisoner. When they got to the fighting pits, the pit fighters, hired by Hizdahr, tried to kill her. The whole thing ended with Daenerys breaking her dragons free and burning Meereen to ashes. Then Euron Greyjoy showed up...
  • Generation Xerox: As in canon, Gendry looks like Robert at the appropriate age, while Arya resembles her aunt Lyanna. Here, it even extends to marriage.
  • Good Parents: Ned Stark. Catelyn also starts to become more like one once she starts warming up to Gendry.
  • Happily Married: Ned and Cat; Robb and Roslin; Gendry and Arya.
    • For the last pair, the marriage has not been consummated yet.
  • Heel Realization: Eventually, Tyrion realized that when nobles play the game of thrones, it is the smallfolk who suffers the most.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted.
    • During his duel with Gregor, Sandor exploited the fact that his opponent was not wearing a helmet and went straight for the head. He himself took off his helmet, but he ensured that his opponent was Deader than Dead before he stopped.
    • Ned being hit in the head and going into a coma. It was very clear from the narration that without his helmet, he would have died.
  • Heroic BSOD: Arya hits one when she learns Melisandre (King Stannis' red priestess) intends to kill Gendry, and kills two men that had been sent north to take him.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Sandor gets this during his duel with his brother, after Tyrion shouts out Sansa's name.
  • History Repeats: A Stark girl getting married to a Baratheon boy, although the boy is a bastard and the girl likes the boy.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Ned Stark was once this, but ever since his encounters with the Deadly Decadent Court at King's Landing, he starts to become a better judge of character. He even advises his family to arm themselves with hidden daggers when they get to the Twins for Robb's wedding in case of the possibility that the Freys were planning to betray them. They were, but Walder Frey decided at the last moment not to, when he considered that he'll get a lot more with his grandson as Lord of Winterfell.
  • Human Sacrifice: The fate of every Lannister soldier who was unfortunate enough to get captured by Stannis. Melisandre was planning to do the same for Joffrey, but Stannis dissuaded her, reminding her that he wasn't of royal blood and gives him a trial by combat instead.
  • I Have Your Children: When Stannis captures the Tyrell siblings, he uses them to make sure their father fights for him. Mace Tyrell starts to besiege King's Landing for the Lannisters after a Faceless Man frees Loras and Margaery.
  • I Lied: Not that he said the words directly, but Tywin had no intention of keeping to his side of the peace accord he signed with the Starks.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Lannisters lose much of their famous wealth when the ironborn sack Casterly Rock. They could always mine more gold and rebuild the castle, but they don't have the time to do so and need to focus their resources on the current war.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Combined with the local version of Godwin's Law of Time Travel, though not because of actual time travel. In this timeline, because of Ned Stark surviving, the ensuing war is much more brief and less severe than the original War of Five Kings (for the North at least), with a great deal less death and overall more "just" outcome for the North. However, because Eddard is there to keep Winterfell intact, Bran does not leave for the Wall like he should have. This is made plain when Jon brings a message from Coldhands from beyond the Wall. He is expecting meet him when he crosses over, but he isn't there. So Ned's survival is a good thing overall in the short term, but even he knows that he can't stop the Others by himself, and that because of him, Bran's voyage beyond the Wall is dangerously behind schedule.
    • There is also the reforming of the Faith Militant. Bonus points for also being initiated by a Lannister.
    • The Mountain's head still gets sent to Dorne.
  • Irony: Sansa, who was once obsessed with getting married, considers life as a celibate healer, while Arya, who had no interest in marriage, gets married at a very young age. Go figure.
    • The Prince That Was Promised destroying the Wall by blowing the Horn of Winter.
  • It's All About Me: Despite all his talk about serving causes greater than himself, Varys has shades of this when dealing with Littlefinger, in that he cannot stand being outwitted by Littlefinger. Hence, his "disabling" of Joffrey before Ned's public confession and his shock when Littlefinger blackmails him by saying that he is aware of the Spider's "overseas" dealings.
  • Knighting: In chapter 38 of Part 2, Ned knights Gendry as a reward for his service and bravery. And so he'll also be worthy to marry Arya.
  • Jon, I Am Not Your Father: Rhaegar Targaryen is your dad.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Ned towards Robert. Besides the canonical not telling him the true parentage of Cersei's children, there is also Lyanna actually loving Rhaegar.
  • Lighter and Softer: The North, as compared to canon. Robb's rebellion won him fame, Ned leaves King's Landing alive and the Northern lords generally held their heads high. For the rest of the continent (particularly the areas which saw continued warring), not so much. Once the second Long Night begins, all bets are off.
  • Loose Lips: Theon inadvertently tells Shae of his plans to take Casterly Rock, and she escapes to warn the Lannisters.
    • Arya leaked out her marriage to Gendry when he gets arrested at White Harbor.
  • The Medic: Sansa wishes to become this in the later chapters.
  • Madness Mantra: After Gendry gets arrested at White Harbour, Arya goes on a name chanting mantra like she did in canon. Of course, the names now are different.
  • Mundane Afterlife: In a dream, Ned found himself in a great hall which looked like Winterfell's, and the past Lords of Winterfell (from Brandon the Builder to Rickard Stark) are feasting.
  • Mundane Utility: In canon, the Iron Bank of Braavos has a reputation of lending only to the rich and powerful. Here, all involved in the discussion agreed that they should engage the bank to evaluate the material wealth the free folk pay to the Night's Watch to secure their passage south of the Wall, and covert it to coin for the Watch's use.
  • Mythology Gag: In canon, the War of the Five Kings was named as such despite the fact that at any point of the conflict, there were only four kings. Here, only four characters declare themselves kings, and like in canon, at any point of the conflict, there were only three kings.
    • Also, Stannis continues to be the only king out of the original lot to survive the war.
  • Near Death Experience: While in a coma, Ned had this in the form of dreams.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jon taking down the Wall by blowing the Horn of Winter. The fact that it was by accident does not help.
  • The Night That Never Ends
  • Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: In chapter 42 of Part 2, we encounter a zombified giant. It manages to put Ned into a coma before it's defeated.
  • Not So Different: Both Arya and Sansa fell in love with men whom by right could not marry them.
  • Oh Crap: Many, many times. Pretty much half the characters have this reaction, at least once.
  • Ominous Fog: Which catches the Tyrell army completely off guard. Stannis uses Melisandre's magic to his advantage, so that he can remove a potential Lannister ally from the war.
  • Out of Focus: Daenerys doesn't get a POV chapter until chapter 28 of the sequel. May be justified since the events of Westeros haven't really directly affected her storyline, so most of it stays the same until Varys arrives in Meereen.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Daenerys planned to tell Quentyn Martell her plan to flee Meereen as it was happening so he wouldn't spill the secret. The official story was that she would marry Hizdahr and allow her dragons to killed. Quentyn tried to save the dragons, but got roasted. Daenerys told him the truth on his deathbed.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Ironborn take Casterly Rock, but lose a thousand men. Theon is also taken hostage.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: During the Others's march south, Winterfell's defences include Northern soldiers, men of the Night's Watch, wildings, and pretty much anyone who can hold a sword. Even the women, be they wildings like Val or southern ladies like Catelyn, take part in the fighting because there aren't enough men.
  • Reality Ensues: One main reason why Stannis fails to win more lords over to his cause is his religion and Melisandre's not-subtle intention to convert all of Westeros, violently if need be. When there are still followers of the Old Gods after thousands of years of contact with the Faith of the Seven, such a stand is unlikely to win allies.
    • Due to the North staying out of the War of the Four Kings, they were better able to deal with the ironborn's assault on their lands. After this setback, the ironborn naturally turn to the Westerlands, where the Lannisters were embroiled in said conflict.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Ned and Tyrion, for starters.
    • Averted with Ser Axell Florent, who makes all sorts of unreasonable demands at White Harbor.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The Tyrells initially planned to battle Stannis and then deal with the Others. Tyrion pointedly warns them that diverting their attention from the true enemy will certainly have grave consequences for the entire continent.
    • As of her marriage to Gendry, Arya has likely developed a case of this as well. She now wants to kill Stannis, Ser Axel, and Melisandre because they arrested Gendry. Of course, doing this will only make things even more unstable in the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Runaway Bride: Daenerys plots to flee from Meereen the day of her wedding. And she does, with some bumps in the road
  • Sacred Hospitality: This time around, Walder Frey honors it, rather than go through with the Red Wedding. It also helps that Ned Stark still has his head and Robb didn't sleep with the medic.
    • Uncharacteristically, it was Walder himself who insisted on revealing Tywin's treachery.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Cat invokes this to cover up Arya's murdering of two fellows on a king's errand.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Varys promptly abandons the Lannister campaign after it becomes clear that they'll never retake King's Landing from Stannis at this point, and leaves Westeros in search of Aegon VI.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: What sets Roslin apart from the rest of her family is that she cares not for Robb Stark's battle prowess and victories in war, but that she wants her husband to be a good man.
  • Smug Snake: Ser Axel Florent, Queen Selyse's uncle. He's an arrogant knight and fundamentalist who threatens to hang anyone who doesn't kowtow to his will.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Quaithe. She was raped at 12 by her father and older brothers.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Seems to be a curse following Stark girls in this continuity.
    • Gendry is well aware of his growing infatuation with Arya, and tries but fails to control his love for her. Fortunately, Ned is sympathetic towards their relationship and hopes that Stevron Frey (Walder Frey's heir) might be more willing to annul the marriage pact.
    • Sandor and Sansa. Sandor is willing to risk travel to Winterfell to turn in Theon so as to get into the Starks' good books, while Sansa is willing to become an old maid if she cannot marry him.
    • To round it off, we have Lyanna and Rhaegar.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Tywin.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Averted with Petyr Baelish, who remains just as despicable as he is in the books.
  • Take a Third Option: There was a deadlock as to who will take command in the Stannis-Lannister-Tyrell grand alliance. Bronn threw out Tyrion's name, and enough people agreed for it to go through.
  • Thicker Than Water: Tyrion will be the first to tell you that his family, especially Cersei and Jaime, screwed the entire realm over to get what they wanted, but he is still the staunchest Lannister supporter out there. Howland Reed lampshades how odd it is that Tyrion knowingly support his family after all their wrongdoing.
  • Title Drop: Partially. Jon thinks about being ice and fire when he learns who his parents really are.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: The family may still be together, but Arya proves that she can become a murderer if the right buttons are pushed.
  • Turncoat: Littlefinger turns over to Stannis's sides after a failed attempt to get the Tyrells in Joffrey's favor.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Cersei threats to have Shae killed after Shae saved her and her children's lives. Tommen, however, commands that no one may harm her.
  • Violently Protective Girl Friend:Arya.
  • War Is Glorious: For the North, as their short war achieved its aim (getting Ned out of King's Landing alive). See Young Conqueror below for more details.
  • War Is Hell: The Riverlands are devastated by war, along with the lands which saw continued warring after the North's peace accord.
  • We Are Struggling Together: Tyrion recognizes that the Seven Kingdoms are doomed if the great houses don't work together, so he tries to broker peace between several factions, which is pretty difficult since few people trust each other.
    • Rodrik Harlaw warns the ironborn against their conquest of the Westerlands following the same logic, but as usual he's ignored.
  • We Named the Monkey Jack: Tommen decides to name his donkey (an ass) Joffrey. Cersei refuses to let it happen, but Tyrion and Bronn both think its a perfect name.
  • Wham Line: Many.
    • "A rider came in this morning, from Moat Cailin. All three towers have fallen to the Others. Even as we speak, they are coming down the Neck. Soon they will be here."
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Dany may be this in public, but as she found out in the last chapter of Part II, Quaithe deserves the title more than her. It is implied from the narration that comparing her beauty to Dany's is like comparing Rhaegar's to Jaime's.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Varys, who manages to foil Littlefinger's plot to execute Ned Stark after he learns from one of his little birds that he was persuading Joffrey to kill him.
    • Daenerys finally decides to get out of Essos and conquer Westeros or the Others will destroy everything before she even has the chance.
  • Young Conqueror: Although Robb eventually bent the knee and never gets to become the King of the North, his exploits in the short war meant that he becomes this in the eyes of his bannermen.
Of White Trees And Blue RosesFanFic/LiteratureNo Featherbed For Me

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