Anonymous asked: You wrote “Ned allowing Ashara to be used as a herring for Jon’s birth suggests that Ned knew to cover his bases”, but Ned forbid anyone in Winterfell from talking about her, and when pressed by Robert gave a different name. Are you referring there to his lack of response to Cersei’s questions about Jon’s mother?
I did write that! I very briefly cover the other herrings in that section of part one (Purple Herring), as Ned does let other women take the blame, but Ashara tends to take the brunt of the rumors.
While not the only herring to Jon’s parentage (see: Wylla, a serving woman from Starfall (Arya VIII, ASOS), as well as the Fisherman’s Daughter in Sisterton (Davos I, ADWD)), Ashara sits center stage as the most likely candidate. As a result, characters project failures, jealousy, and hunger for power on a dead girl with no voice, but sad, beautiful eyes. -PT1
I agree, Ned “silenced” those rumors, but not before the entire kingdom had it in their mind that he banged Ashara. Let’s review: he dances with Ashara at Harrenhal, and it’s all anyone seems to know about. Edric says Ned fell in love with Ashara then. Barristan thinks Ashara turned to a Stark. Cersei knows that bringing Ashara up will hurt Ned (incredibly guilty feeling Ned). Catelyn hears the whispers from servants in Winterfell – even the serving people knew there was a rumor about Ned and Ashara and Jon.
While Ned eventually silenced it, this rumor spread far and wide through the kingdom – and what did it matter? Ashara was a dead girl, who couldn’t stand up for herself against these rumors, and Ned had made promises to Lyanna.
He thought of the promises he’d made Lyanna as she lay dying, and the price he’d paid to keep them.
Eddard IX, AGOT
Ashara Dayne was one of the prices paid to keep those promises, and it probably haunted Ned every day.