It's official. As of last week's episode of Game of Thrones, the only two confirmed living Targaryens, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, are gearing up for a family reunion in Dragonstone. The only hitch? In a twist of dramatic irony, Jon and Daenerys don’t know they’re related. We don’t blame Jon for not knowing he’s a Targaryen – he’s not platinum blond, and he's been told his entire life that he's Ned Stark's bastard son.
In short, Daenerys Targaryen is Jon Snow's aunt. How’s that possible? To understand their shared lineage, we have to travel 17 years prior to the start of Game of Thrones, when the events that led to Jon Snow’s birth happened to be the same events that led to the collapse of the Targaryens’ centuries-long hold on the Iron Throne.
First, let's start with Jon Snow. As Bran's flashback during the Season 6 finale proved, Jon Snow is not the bastard son of Ned Stark, as he long thought growing up on the sidelines of Winterfell and getting side-eye from Catelyn Stark. Jon is actually the son of Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark, and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, the son of King Aerys and heir to the Iron Throne.
Depending on who's telling the story, Rhaegar either captured Lyanna, or they eloped. Either way, they conceived a child, Jon Snow. At the time, Lyanna was engaged to Ned’s friend, Robert Baratheon, and Prince Rhaegar was married to Elia Martell. Lyanna's abduction set off a series of events called Robert's Rebellion, a civil war which ultimately deposed the Targaryen family and put Robert Baratheon the throne.
Before dying due to childbirth complications, Lyanna made Ned swear to look out for Jon. "If Robert finds out, he’ll kill him, you know he will. You have to protect him. Promise me, Ned," Lyanna whispered.
Lyanna had reason to worry about the fate of her half-Targaryen infant son. The Targaryens were essentially decimated during Robert's Rebellion.
After the Lannister troops stormed King's Landing during the last act of Robert's Rebellion, the erratic, unstable King Aerys II Targaryen was killed by Jaime Lannister, a member of his Kingsguard. Aerys' heirs were also effectively removed: Prince Rhaegar, his wife, and two sons were murdered.
This brings us to Daenerys Targaryen, the infant daughter of Aerys II Targaryen, the so-called "Mad King." After Robert took the throne, Aerys' pregnant wife fled King's Landing along with her son, Viserys. Like Jon, Daenerys was born at the tail end of the rebellion; like Jon, her mother died in childbirth.
With the help of Targaryen loyalists, the infant Daenerys and her brother, Viserys, were carted over the Narrow Sea to Essos, and spent their lives trying to reclaim the Targaryen place on the Iron Throne. Viserys was later killed when Khal Drogo gave him a "golden crown."
Daenerys and Jon Snow have quite a bit in common. They were raised without mothers. They are talented at making rousing speeches and raising armies. Factions of the R'hollor religion are convinced each is the Prince — or Princess — that was Promised, the individual sent to vanquish darkness from the world.
Instead of debating whether Jon or Daenerys is the chosen individual, also known as Azor Ahai, it's quite possible that they both are. The Azor Ahai prophecy indicates the "the dragon has three heads,” leading some theorists to conclude that the Prince will manifest himself in three "dragon riders." If fans are right, and Tyrion Lannister actually is a Targaryen, then Daenerys, Jon, and Tyrion will form three points of the Azor Ahai trinity.
Either way, Jon and Daenerys' union, whether political or marital, will have huge repercussions in Westeros. Yes, we said marital. Did you really think being related disqualifies them from getting married? The Targaryens were notorious for their inclination toward incest — in fact, the original Targaryen who conquered King's Landing, Aegon, was married to both of his sisters.
If they're not squeamish about their shared blood, Jon and his aunt Daenerys could restore the Targaryen line to the Iron Throne together.
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