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Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

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“It’s the last line I best like. My life and honor. At the Wall, honor is another thing it’s admirable to give in defense of the realm, just as men are hailed for giving their lives in battle. By the standards of these oaths, I made the right choice in King’s Landing. There are not words, for how much that matters.”

Jaime Lannister

Life and Honor is an A Song of Ice and Fire Fan Fiction by NoOne0_o. Can be viewed here on Archive of Our Own.

The story is an AU diverging at the end of Robert's Rebellion. After killing the Mad King Aerys, breaking his vows as his Kingsguard to save King's Landing, instead of being left off the hook to please Tywin Lannister, Jaime is instead forced to take the black. Partly to stop his father from restarting the war, and partly out of spite towards Ned Stark, Jaime accepts his punishment.

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A life of tedium and misery seemingly awaits him, but he acclimates surprisingly well and finds an unlikely friend in Mance Rayder, which makes him realize the world doesn't end at the Wall and he can build a new life here. His new role also makes him question and think more deeply about the common Westerosi perceptions of honor, and seek his own definition of it.

But peace does not last forever, and very soon, Jaime and his new brothers have to face an otherwordly threat mounting far to the north...


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Life and Honor contains examples of:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Jaime being at the Wall has killed any affection he and Cersei had for each other, and has caused Jaime to grow apart from Tyrion and from his uncles, aunt, and cousins, though unlike with Cersei he still loves them.
  • Alternate Universe Fic: One where Jaime takes the black and becomes a member of the Night's Watch rather than remain in King's Landing as a Kingsguard.
  • Armor-Piercing Response:
    • When Jaime goes to Orl for help hunting the Weeper, Orl asks why he should help one of the wildings' ancestral enemies. Jaime responds by telling him the story of why he was sent to the Wall.
      Jaime: Do you know what the oaths of the Night’s Watch are? “Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.”It’s the last line I best like. My life and honor. At the Wall, honor is another thing it’s admirable to give in defense of the realm, just as men are hailed for giving their lives in battle. By the standards of these oaths, I made the right choice in King’s Landing. There are not words for how much that matters. This cloak means something to me. Yes, I grasp that the Watch is objectionable in many ways, but it had a purpose once. We're supposed to be guardians, and not only for those under the king's rule. The Watch predates the Wall altogether. When the Watch was formed, the oaths written, there was no distinction between free folk and kneeler. I cannot account for my brothers, but I’ll not shy from serving in that spirit. I don’t want to use you. Only to do my duty. I’ll help northern lords who write to complain about raiders, but I’ll help you also. If there’s anything you’d like from the kingdoms, I can see about trading. If brothers of the Watch give you trouble, I’ll ensure they're held accountable. I’ll carry any concerns you have to Ser Denys, whatever that’s worth. Trust I will do right by this cloak, because I’ve been burned, and tainted, and choked by another.
    • Tormund then gives one to Jaime, telling him that even though Jaime is a good man, the Watch itself is still filled with thieves, rapists, and murderers, and tells him to come back when he's made the Watch better. He only agrees to help when Jaime tells him he dreamed of fighting wights while sleeping underneath a weirwood, and still only as long as it isn't with "crow business."
    • Tyrion says that his life is horrible and his family hates him. Mance responds by telling him that is clearly not true; Gerion clearly loves him, and from the way he talks about them, Genna, Tygett, and Kevan do too. And while being a dwarf is not easy, Tyrion was born with many advantages that other dwarfs were not. Tyrion is forced to accept this.
    • Little Wolf tells Jaime that he shouldn't go after Alysanne Mormont, because "stolen is stolen." Jaime responds, "You or your sister would not like to be stolen by the Ice River clans, would you?" Jaime also tells Little Wolf that she is eleven. Little Wolf agrees to help Jaime bring her back.
    • When Ygritte says that being stolen by someone like the Weeper is the cost of being free:
      Jaime: Not everything that comes from freedom is good. The freest men are monstrous, unrestricted by laws, sympathy or sense. They do whatever they want, and don’t care if others are hurt.
      Ygritte: You're talking like a kneeler.
      Jaime: I bet there are free folk who think the same. What of your mother? She’s tied to you, to Orl, to Eva and your clan and her duties. Would she not be freer if she cast it all aside?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Davos tells Stannis that he and Jaime aren't so different, Stannis can hardly believe it because of Jaime being "reckless, willfully disobedient, and charming.” According to Davos’s internal monologue, “He spoke the final descriptor like it was the worst of the three.”
  • Asshole Victim: The Weeper getting mauled to death by Lyuk.
  • The Bard: Mance, an avid player of the lute.
  • Base-Breaking Character: In-Universe. Some of the Watch loves Jaime for bringing back some semblance of the Watch's noble roots, while others hate him for attempting good relations with the wildings and/or not following rules, among other things.
  • Being Good Sucks: Jaime has given up a lot doing the right thing over the course of the story, and he often wonders how much he has left to give. All the same, he never stops trying to do good.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Lyuk.
  • Birds of a Feather: Jaime and Mance, in a lot of ways.
    • Leo being Jaime's squire only made sense; Leo was the only young recruit Jaime ever could have found who was as crazy as him. Jaime doesn't take it well when Leo is murdered.
    • Mance and Aeron, both having left the Watch for good reasons, having a connection to Dalla and Val (though with different natures thereof), and both wanting to help Jaime, naturally would team up. Dalla notes that they cover each other's stupidities well.
  • Canis Major: The giant dogs the Frozen Shore tribes raise to pull their sleds.
  • Cassandra Truth: Defied. Jaime and Qhorin know Ser Denys wouldn't believe them if they told him they had reason to believe the Others were coming back, so instead they frame it as something some of the wildings believe so he will at least take note of it.
  • Celibate Hero: What Jaime is by virtue of his vows as a man of the Watch, which he takes seriously, unlike his Kingsguard vows. He is tempted a few times though, most notably by Silver Wolf.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Mance being half-wilding is cause for mistrust amongst the Black Brothers, even if the Watch practically raised him.
  • The Chosen One: Mance ponders over the similarities between Jaime and the last hero's tale. He concludes the three-eyed crow is actively grooming a hero to fight the Others.
    • Many other characters seem to agree. Little Wolf, a wilding from the Frozen Shore, joins the Watch to fight alongside him, Aeron Greyjoy believes Jaime is destined to oppose Euron, Aemon thinks Jaime might be connected to the prophecy of the Prince who was Promised, and a Red Priestess who is implied and confirmed by Word of God to be Melisandre has set up beyond the Wall in hopes of finding Azor Ahai. According to one of Craster's wives, even the White Walkers themselves fear that Jaime might be this.
  • Cool Uncle: Gerion Lannister, for both Jaime and Tyrion.
  • Damsel in Distress: Alysanne Mormont is abducted by the Weeper in order to provoke Jaime into walking in an ambush.
  • Death by Adaptation: The Weeper.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The Weeper impales the heads of slain Night's Watchmen in front of the Wall to send a message to Jaime. Jaime turns it around on him when he leaves Ulf the Grim's head on a spike to goad the Weeper.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: As per the course for the series.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Ulf the Grim is a rotten excuse for a king, but he won't take an eleven-year-old as a wife.
    • Even though the Weeper hates Jaime and wants to kill him for ruining his reputation, he admits he respects that Jaime chose to do something about a wicked king, and he thinks it wrong that he was punished for it.
    • Maybe not "evil" so much as "obstructive Jerkass" but Mallador Locke hates Jaime and wants him stripped of his position. However, he won't involve anyone else in his feud; his talk of murdering a wilding woman was a lie simply meant to goad Jaime, and he's horrified by Leo's murder.
  • For Want of a Nail: The entire premise, which has for Point of Divergence Jaime being sent to the Wall for kingslaying instead of pardoned like in canon. Among other consequences, Cersei gives Robert a legitimate heir in Prince Steffon Baratheon.
  • Going Native: Essentially Jaime and his companions for three months while they are prisoners of the Frozen Shore tribe. Jaime is even technically married to one wildling woman since she "stole" him. Mance is later forced to do so by circumstances, permanently in his case.
    • Later, Ser Blane contemplates how much he’s become a man of the North, and his prayers to the Seven feel like they belong in the mouth of another man.
  • Handicapped Badass: Jaime.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jaime and Mance.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Downplayed. In most respects, Jaime is a very good judge of character. However, he has a tendency to see others as antagonistic to him, even when they aren't. Particularly when he had a bad first impression of them. It takes him a very long time to come around to both Ned and Benjen Stark. Unfortunately, after toppling Ivar Blessedbow and being flogged by Jeor Mormont, Jaime's suspicions toward Benjen resurface, Jaime falsely believing Benjen considers him a traitor.
  • I Choose to Stay: Discussed. Jaime sometimes resents having actually been sent to the Wall, but he acknowledges that if he were pardoned and allowed to return south he would not. The Watch is simply too big of a part of his identity now.
  • I Gave My Word: After spitting on the Kingsguard's oath, Jaime is rather more stringent about the promises he swears.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite the different timeline and circumstances, Jaime still loses his right hand.
    • Mance still deserts the Watch, albeit for completely different reasons and reluctantly at that.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Tywin wants very badly to get Jaime back to be his heir, and is willfully blind to the fact that Jaime will never leave the Watch.
  • Irony:
    • The Seven Kingdoms look down on the wildlings, calling them savages and uncivilized. Yet the free folk offer nothing but validation and admiration for Jaime slaying the Mad King, while Westeros condemned him for breaking his oath.
    • The Starks think highly of the man Jaime has become. Contrast that to canon.
  • Kill the Cutie: Leo.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: Jaime is slowly growing into this. The whole thing with Aly Mormont really helped.
    • Commander Mallister decided he would be this, as he wanted for honor to mean something. He's quite happy to see Jaime adopting the same behavior.
  • Large Ham: Tormund.
  • Never My Fault: Ivar Blessedbow's Fatal Flaw is that he can't see the consequences of his actions. He considers himself a Necessary Evil, but he can't see when he's opening Pandora's Box.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: It could be the alternate title, for all that it holds true. Though ironically, "Dolorous Edd" Tollett, who firmly believes this, has been one of the few do-gooders not to be hit with this, aside from Jaime giving him extra responsibilities.
  • The Oath-Breaker: Jaime, earning him the nickname "The Kingslayer" after killing the king who he swore to protect, and regarded comptemptuosly by the rest of the Seven Kingdoms for it. He is not this at the Watch, but the Watchmen who hate him refuse to belive that.
    • Later what the rest of the Night's Watch regards Mance and Aeron Greyjoy as.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Ser Blane the Steadfast wasn't given that title for nothing. But when Lord Commander Mormont goes to negotiate a treaty with several of the major wilding bands, he brings several of the most bigoted men in the Watch with him, who look down on Blane for being lowborn (he was knighted by Jaime for his courage) and who clearly have no interest in any treaty with the wildings. Eventually, when Mormont decides to stop at Craster's, Blane decides the entire endeavor is doomed to failure, and returns to the Wall.
  • Original Character: A few.
    • Blane, knighted by Jaime as Ser Blane the Steadfast, a poacher who was sent to the Wall and became an exemplary ranger.
      • Edit: he might be this instead. Assuming it's the same person, a briefly mentioned commander at the Shadow Tower has that name in canon.
    • Silver Wolf and Little Wolf, a sister and brother from the Frozen Shore who help Jaime bring back Aly Mormont. Little Wolf joins the Watch afterward, to the consternation of some of the Watch, though few can argue with the results he gets.
    • Ulf the Grim and Ivar Blessedbow, two would-be claimants for King-Beyond-the-Wall who have their reigns cut short by Jaime.
    • Leo, Jaime's squire who gets murdered at Tywin's order.
  • Parental Neglect: Cersei completely ignores her infant son Steffon for being Robert's offspring. Still, at least she knows how old he is - something Robert can't be bothered with.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Jaime's punishment by being sent to the Wall.
    • To be frank, Jaime himself actually considers his position at the Wall more noble than his position as Aerys’s Kingsguard, so it’s not totally played straight. How noble it actually is in his eyes depends on how much good he feels he is doing, but no matter what, it’s still more good than he did guarding the Mad King.
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: When Jaime was sentenced to the Wall, his reputation was in the toilet. Spending a whole winter searching for Aly Mormont and losing a hand to bring her home safe and sound redeems him a lot in the North.
  • The Red Baron: "Kingslayer" for Jaime, a title which earns him scorn in Westeros, but fear and respect among wildlings due to their contempt of kingship.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Ivar Blessedbow’s mother betrays him. She gets killed for her troubles, as the wildings believe she would never be trustworthy.
  • The Social Expert: Mance knows just how to appeal to the emotions of others to get what he wants. And half of them don't even end up blaming him for it afterwards.
  • So Proud of You: When Jaime is promoted First Ranger, Commander Mallister warmly congratulates him for finding his honour back and holding so firmly to it.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Jaime still carries a torch for Silver Wolf, the wilding woman who helped him save Alysanne Mormont, though he hasn’t seen her since. As for Cersei, that flame has died.
  • Title Drop: As shown in the page quote, "life and honor" are in the last line of the Night's Watch's vows as something the recruit gives in service of the Watch. When he first says them, Jaime curses the gods for taking everything from him, but he later reconsiders the words and finds that they actually fit him very well.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: The main struggle of many characters in the fic is determining whether it is better to follow the rules even to the detriment of others, or to do the right thing even when it isn't necessarily honorable.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Donnel Hill, over the course of two chapters, goes from a Dirty Coward and a weakling to successfully uncovering Othell Yarwick's involvement in Leo's murder by tricking the First Builder into thinking he was sent by Tywin.
  • True Companions: Jamie develops this status eventually with Mance, Qhorin, Dolorous Edd, Ser Blane, Little Wolf, Aemon Targaryen, Leo, and to a lesser extent Denys Mallister. Benjen Stark isn't quite there yet, but he's on his way.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Averted by the Weeper, who in his second fight with Jaime wears armor and rides a horse, having learned from his first encounter. Jaime had been feeling overconfident and is taken by surprise by the Weeper's good planning, and it costs him his hand. The Weeper, however, didn't account for the spearwife from the Frozen Shore who was with Jaime. More importantly, he doesn't account for her dogs. That costs him his life.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Over time, Benjen and Jaime develops this relationship over their initial mutual hostility.
  • Walking the Earth: Dalla, Val, and their aunt Sefa before them, are druka, a term in the Old Tongue for wandering wise women, travelling all over the lands beyond the Wall, learning, keeping, and passing down knowledge orally, and providing (mostly medical) aid wherever they can.
  • Warrior Poet: Mance can write songs as well as he can fight.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Little Wolf considers killing Ser Byam to keep him from denouncing Mance as a traitor, but Mance tells him not to. When Little Wolf informs Jaime, despite Jaime knowing that Little Wolf did the right thing and that Byam in no way deserved to die, he can’t help but wish Little Wolf had killed him.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Jeor Mormont, as per canon. He simply doesn't understand that he isn't in the south any more.
  • Young Future Famous People: Jaime meets and befriends a young Ygritte, who is still a child at that time.

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