The old man laid a withered, spotted hand on his shoulder. "It hurts, boy," he said softly. "Oh, yes. Choosing... it has always hurt. And always will. I know."
You don't know, Jon said bitterly. "No one knows. Even if I am his bastard, he's still my father... "
Maester Aemon sighed. "Have you heard nothing I've told you, Jon? Do you think you are the first?" He shook his ancient head, a gesture weary beyond words. "Three times the gods saw fit to test my vows. Once when I was a boy, once in the fullness of my manhood, and once when I had grown old. By then my strength was fled, my eyes grown dim, yet that last choice was as cruel as the first. My ravens would bring the news from the south, words darker than their wings, the ruin of my House, the death of my kin, disgrace and desolation. What could I have done, old, blind, frail?