"You're mine as I'm yours. And if we die, we die. But first we'll live."
―Ygritte to Jon Snow.[src]

Jon Snow and Ygritte were two lovers from opposing sides, the Free Folk and the Night's Watch.

History

Season 2

At the Frostfangs, Qhorin Halfhand's scouting party encounters a small group of wildling scouts and engage them in combat, killing all except Ygritte. Qhorin questions her, then instructs Jon to kill her, and catch up to him afterwards. Jon prepares to kill Ygritte, but cannot bring himself to; Ygritte begs him to get it over with, but he hesitates and she seizes the opportunity to escape. Jon recaptures her, becoming isolated from his brothers in the process. With night approaching, Jon decides to stop, and refuses to make a fire. Ygritte persuades Jon to huddle next to her to share body warmth; she makes sexual advances towards him, which he rebuffs.[1]

Jon is still separated from his scouting group. He attempts to locate them, traveling with his prisoner. She and Jon argue about freedom, his oaths, and who is invading whose lands. Ygritte mocks Jon's sexual inexperience, surmising that he is a virgin, a subject which embarrasses him. Jon tells Ygritte his father was Ned Stark, thus he has the blood of the First Men just like she does, to which Ygritte asks Jon why the Watch fights the wildlings. She states that the animosity of the southerners toward the wildlings is arbitrary, given that the wildlings are only distinguished from them by not living in stone castles and not taking commands from old men. She keeps taunting him by speaking about sex. She escapes and leads him into an ambush. Ygritte says that Jon should have taken her when he had the chance.[2]

Jon is brought before the Lord of Bones, who orders him executed, because he has already captured Qhorin and doesn't need two "crows" for questioning. He orders Ygritte to kill Jon, but Ygritte convinces him to spare Jon because of his Stark blood.[3]

The wildings lead Jon and Qhorin on a march. Ygritte playfully tortures Jon by batting him with his sword. She tells Jon they should reach the camp by sundown, where Mance Rayder will interrogate them. Jon taunts her for using the sword so clumsily, and that she looks like a baby with a rattle. They square off and the Lord of Bones tells them to stop. Qhorin seizes the opportunity to get free and grab a sword, then pretends to attack Jon. Ygritte gives Jon his sword. He fights with Qhorin and kills him. Ygritte says that they can tell Mance that Jon is the man who killed Qhorin. The Lord of Bones takes Longclaw and cuts Jon free of his bonds. Ygritte tells Jon to follow her. They look down on a vast wildling camp, and Ygritte says that it is time for him to meet the King-Beyond-the-Wall. She descends the snowy slope. Jon looks back at Qhorin's body and then follows her towards the camp.[4]

Season 3

Jon and his captives arrive at the wildlings' main encampment. He is startled to see a giant. Ygritte warns him not to stare too long, as the giants are shy but also quick to anger. Jon's dark clothes are noticed by the other wildlings, who mock him. Small children throw rocks at him, but Ygritte shoos them off, and tells Jon that some of them lack discipline as they have no fathers; their fathers are dead, some killed by crows like Jon. Ygritte tells him not to worry, as if Mance likes him, he will live another day.

Jon is brought before Tormund, whom Jon mistakes for Mance. Ygritte states that Jon killed Qhorin, and wants to be one of them. Mance approaches. He dismisses Ygritte and the Lord of Bones, noting a look that passes between Ygritte and Jon. Mance asks Jon if Ygritte is the reason he wants to join them.[5]

While Jon travels with the wildlings, he notices Orell scouting via a raven. Ygritte is surprised to find that Jon has never seen a warg before.[6] Some time later, they arrive at the Fist of the First Men. They survey the bloody aftermath of the assault on the Night's Watch by the army of the dead.[7]

Jon and Ygritte are among the group of wildlings, who were sent ahead by Mance to scale the Wall and attack Castle Black from behind. Tormund questions Jon about the defences of the Watch. Orell calls Jon a liar, and when Ygritte defends Jon, Orell rudely tells her "Just 'cause you want him inside you don't make him one of us." Ygritte draws her dagger and challenges Orell, but Tormund intervenes. Jon and Ygritte walk away. She playfully she steals his sword, making him chase her, and leads him into a nearby cave. Ygritte tells Jon she wants him to break his vows, and disrobes. Jon is hesitant to break his vows. They start kissing, and eventually have sex.

Afterwards, they lie together in a naked embrace. Jon admits he's never had sex with anyone before. Ygritte tells Jon about the wildlings she's had sex with before. They slide into the hot springs pool, and romantically cuddle more. Ygritte tells Jon she wishes they could stay in this cave forever.[8]

The wildling party prepares to climb the Wall. Jon and Ygritte talk about the impending climb and their relationship. Ygritte reveals she is aware that Jon is still loyal to the Night's Watch, but promises not to expose him. She says that the Watch and Mance do not care if they live or die, since to them Jon and Ygritte are expandable pawns; she demands Jon to be loyal to her.

While climbing, Ygritte jokes with Jon, but soon the climb becomes dangerous. Jon nearly falls when a cluster of ice hits him. A large sheet of ice falls and sends several wildlings to their deaths. Ygritte and Jon hang precariously by their safety rope. Orell attempts to cut them loose, but Jon manages to save himself and Ygritte. They finally reach the top of the Wall, and Ygritte is awed by the view south of the Wall. She and Jon share a passionate kiss, grateful to be alive after such a narrow escape.[9]

The party continues toward Castle Black. Ygritte asks Jon about the way armies march, with drums and banners, and finds it ridiculous. Tormund humorously advises Jon about the way he should have sex with Ygritte. Orell chides Ygritte for choosing a mate who is not "one of them". Ygritte admits that she loves Jon. Orell warns her "You won't love him so much when you find out what he really is".

Ygritte, who has never seen a building before, spots a windmill, thinking it is a palace. Jon explains to her what the building is, and says that one day he'll maybe take her to Winterfell. Jon tries to persuade her that the wildlings' cause is doomed to failure, reminding her that six Kings-Beyond-the-Wall attacked the southern lands in the past and failed. Ygritte refuses to listen and points out that Jon is technically one of them; if the attack fails and the wildlings die, so does he. She renews her passion for him and tells him bluntly that if they die, they die, but first they will live; Jon agrees.[10]

The wildlings capture an old man. Orell demands that Jon kills him. As Jon hesitates, Ygritte shoots the old man, killing him. Now that Jon's cover is blown, Tormund and Orell intend to kill him; Ygritte stands aside Jon. A brawl breaks out. Tormund grabs Ygritte, telling her that Jon is one of "them", but she wouldn't listen and tries to help Jon, till Tormund restrains her. After killing Orell, Jon escapes while Tormund and Ygritte look on.[11]

On the way to Castle Black, Jon stops to rest and tend to his injuries. Suddenly he is confronted by a furious Ygritte, who has an arrow ready to shoot him. Jon tries to talk Ygritte out of shooting him, insisting that he still loves her, but he must go home, and that she always knew his loyalty to the Watch was never gone. Though his feelings are clearly reciprocated, Ygritte is still angered by his betrayal and shoots Jon three times, as he flees from her, tearfully watching him go.[12]

Season 4

Jon tells Sam about Ygritte. Sam wants Jon to tell what it is like to love someone and be loved, since they are going to die soon. Sam asks how it was like to sleep with Ygritte; Jon attempts to explain, but cannot properly express it, proclaiming exasperatedly that he's "not a bleeding poet."

At the wildlings' camp, Styr confronts Ygritte about Jon, questioning her loyalty. Ygritte angrily states that she will kill Jon, and kill anyone else who will try to kill him.

While Jon is fighting Styr, Ygritte has a chance to shoot him, but does not, despite her earlier words. After killing Styr, Jon turns around and sees Yrgitte aiming an arrow right at him. They both stare, Jon smiles. As Ygritte hesitates, an arrow goes straight through her chest, shot by Olly, and she falls to the ground. Jon rushes to catch Ygritte. Near death, Ygritte reminds Jon of the cave, and says they should have stayed there. Jon says they'll go back there. Ygritte says "You know nothing, Jon Snow" and dies in his arms.[13]

Jon goes to parley with Mance. Mance asks him about Ygritte, and he sadly says she was killed, though not by him. They drink to her memory.

Following the battle, Jon visits the captive Tormund. Tormund asks if Jon really loved Ygritte, telling that Ygritte loved him. Jon asks if Ygritte told Tormund this; Tormund says no, he knew Ygritte loved Jon because all she ever talked about was killing him. Saddened, Tormund implores Jon that Ygritte's final resting place should be in "the real north", where she belongs. Jon takes Ygritte's corpse to the north side of the Wall and builds a funeral pyre for her near a sacred Heart tree. Jon looks at his lover one last time and lights her pyre, weeping silently as he turns his back and heads home.[14]

Season 5

Davos tells Jon that he was seen taking Ygritte's body beyond the Wall, and asks him for the reason; Jon explains "It's where she belonged". Davos warns him that has led some brothers to believe that Jon has too much sympathy for the wildlings.[15] Later, during the choosing for a new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Alliser Thorne cites Jon's affair with Ygritte as one of the reasons not to vote for him as a candidate.[16]

When Melisandre attempts to seduce Jon, he rejects her advances, explaining that he swore a vow and that he still loves Ygritte, even though she is dead. As Melisandre leaves, she quotes Ygritte by telling Jon, "You know nothing, Jon Snow."[17]

Appearances together

Season Two appearances
The North Remembers The Night Lands What Is Dead May Never Die Garden of Bones The Ghost of Harrenhal
The Old Gods and the New A Man Without Honor The Prince of Winterfell Blackwater Valar Morghulis
Season Three appearances
Valar Dohaeris Dark Wings, Dark Words Walk of Punishment And Now His Watch Is Ended Kissed by Fire
The Climb The Bear and the Maiden Fair Second Sons The Rains of Castamere Mhysa
Season Four appearances
Two Swords The Lion and the Rose Breaker of Chains Oathkeeper First of His Name
The Laws of Gods and Men Mockingbird The Mountain and the Viper The Watchers on the Wall The Children

Image gallery

In the books

When a wildling man wants a wife (wildling or non-wildling), it is custom that he must capture her while risking a severe injury, or even death, by the woman and her relatives, and the woman must fight back. As a rule, the wildlings do not capture married women. As Ygritte explains to Jon - who is unaware of this custom - if the man succeeds kidnapping the woman, it shows that he is strong, brave and cunning, and this is what wildling women seek in men. If the man turns out to be an abusive husband, the wife can always slit his throat.

When Jon and the ranger Stonesnake capture Ygritte and her fellow wildlings during their ranging, Jon is unaware of this custom, and didn’t even know Ygritte was a woman at the time - believing her and her fellow wildlings to be men, until he sees her face after the capture. While they wait for the other rangers, Ygritte converses with Jon. She tells him the story about Bael, a former King-beyond-the-Wall, who kidnapped the daughter of Lord Stark. As she explains later, the story was meant to hint Jon what to do with her.

Some time later, Qhorin and the other rangers arrive. Ebben and Dalbridge want to execute Ygritte. Jon objects and wants to spare Ygritte, saying that she surrendered. Qhorin gives the task to Jon and simply tells him "to do what needs to be done." Jon can't bring himself to go through with it and he saves Ygritte's life, letting her go.

Because Jon captured Ygritte, Ygritte - who is attracted to Jon - explains the aforementioned wildling marriage custom to him and insists that they might be considered technically married because of it (according to loose wildling customs, which are not strictly defined "laws") and this stuns Jon. Jon explains this was not his intent and his capture of her was not for sex, but Ygritte is too stubborn. She tells Jon she expected him back then to have sex with her or to kill her, or both, and was confused that he did neither - not even after she told him the story about Bael.

At first, Jon rejects Ygritte's advances, not only due to his vows, but also because he does not wish to dishonor Ygritte and hurt her feelings, because sooner or later, he'd have to leave her and return to the Night's Watch (likewise, Sam felt bad about having sex with Gilly for the same reasons). Moreover, he may get her pregnant. He discusses this with Tormund, who fails to understand why Jon captured Ygritte if he does not want her. He explains to Jon that there is nothing dishonorable about free folk laying together and, in case Ygritte becomes pregnant - she can either drink moon tea, give birth to a strong son, or a lively laughing girl kissed by fire, and where's the harm in that? Jon has no answer. Later, when Mance grows suspicious of Jon's true motives, Ygritte assures him that they sleep together. This convinces Mance. Afterward, Jon has no choice but to have sex with Ygritte. However, Jon and Ygritte fall in love and share a deep affection.

Jon feels ashamed, for the aforementioned reasons he had for initially rejecting Ygritte, and also for his feelings toward her. He is unsure what to do: to stay with Ygritte, he would need to become a wildling heart and soul; if he abandons her to return to his duty, the Magnar may cut her heart out, as a punishment for his treachery; if he takes her with him… assuming she will go, which is far from certain - no way he can bring her back to Castle Black to live among the brothers. A deserter and a wildling could expect no welcome anywhere in the Seven Kingdoms.

At one point, Jon tries to convince Ygritte that Mance Rayder cannot win: the wildlings are very brave, but they are undisciplined, and in battle - discipline beats valor every time. He fears that she and the rest of the wildlings will die. Ygritte is very angry to hear that, and implies that maybe he is still a crow in his heart. She tells him, "You're mine. Mine, as I'm yours. And if we die, we die. All men must die, Jon Snow. But first we'll live".

After reaching Castle Black, Jon reports to Donal Noye and Aemon, openly revealing that he has broken his vows by sleeping with Ygritte - because Qhorin told him to do what it takes.

When Ygritte is mortally wounded, it is not clear whose arrow she was shot by, but it was not by Jon's. Unlike in the TV series, Ygritte was not shot in front of Jon while the wildlings and Night's Watch are trading arrow fire back and forth during the battle. In the novels, Jon finds Ygritte after she is injured and, for a frantic moment, he fears that it was his arrow which shot her; he checks the arrow, he sees it was not his (by the fletching), but feels as if it was. Ygritte dies in Jon Snow's arms, with essentially the same dialogue as in the TV series. Desperately, although it is obvious the injury is mortal, Jon tells her she is not going to die. Ygritte smiles at this, reminding him the cave they spent their first night in together, and Jon promises they will go back to that cave and again tells her she isn’t going to die. Ygritte cups Jon’s face, as Jon remains unable to accept her impending death, and she passes away in Jon’s arms. Jon is deeply grieved by her death. He does not know which of his sworn brothers killed her, and hopes he'll never learn this information.

When Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt interrogate Jon roughly, they accuse him, among other charges, of oathbreaking by having sex with "this unwashed whore". Jon replies that Ygritte is no whore but admits that he had sex with her and tells them, "The Halfhand told me not to balk, whatever the wildlings asked of me, but... I will not deny that I went beyond what I had to do, that I... cared for her." Jon's confession of his affection for Ygritte angers his superiors further because it is a more serious breach of his vows. Jon knows well that many of the sworn brothers often visit the nearby brothel, but refuses to dishonor Ygritte's memory by comparing her to the whores of Mole's Town.

Afterward, throughout the novels, Ygritte is ever-present in Jon's thoughts.

References

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.