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No Such Joy in the Tavern

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The girl filling his cup entertains herself playing with his hair, snarled black strands hanging down that long because he doesn't care about himself, although it will grow much, much longer in time. Aeron is six and twenty, old enough to know better than to drink himself into a stupor in the darkest corner of the tavern at Lordsport since the Silence is one of the ships hosting for war. It has crossed his mind this might be unwise, but the ale numbs him enough for that not to be a problem.

“You're not yourself tonight, milord, if you don't mind my saying.” She whispers salaciously. “Not quite so...lively, as usual.”

He laughs at that, and slides a warm palm up the inside of her thigh, pinching skin where he finds it soft and sweat-streaked under her skirts. He wonders if not stopping until he slips inside her smallclothes will earn him an arousing slap, and manages to keep from glancing sharply in the face of her smile when he discovers she's not wearing any. He's scarcely a stranger to the wiles of women, or infinitely less of one than Victarion, at any rate. They like Aeron and his knack for playing the fool at their request, although he doesn't have the knack of holding onto them. Nor does it bother him unduly that they run back to their husbands once the reality of his aimlessness and profligate ways is no longer attractive.

His advances are interrupted as someone slams another tankard down to join his on the table. He grunts frustratedly, the wandering, unhurried progress of his fingers stilled, and looks up into the piercing beam of Euron's smiling eye.

“I thought I might find you here, brother.”

The Crow's Eye has come alone, not that he should need any help to best Aeron, if it came to blows. He stands at complete ease with his thumbs hooked into his belt. Aeron remains where he is, not rising to greet his brother with open arms nor does he brush across his sword hilt. He is hardly ever aggressive when drunk, only raucous and unruly, and so very wary where Euron is concerned.

He steadies his elbow propped upon the knotted wood, willing his hands not to shake as he turns his cup around and feigns interest in its contents.

“Why should you come looking for me?” He asks, because he cannot see any reason to, although he has his suspicions. He has never voluntarily sought Euron's company as far as he can recollect, and to his deep-seated mistrust, it feels too much like he has been hunted down.

Euron rests the heels of his hands on the edge of the table and makes a plainly overwrought case of not having seen him in years. It has truly been a long while, but Aeron hasn't forgotten Euron's capacity for lies, or the cruelty in his voice.

“Come now.” He coaxes, “Surely you would not begrudge me to share your supper, meagre though it is. And maybe,” he whispers, leaning over too close for Aeron's liking, “I came here because I wanted a whore.”

The wench sensibly moves to take her leave as he seats himself opposite, not yet entirely mesmerized. Euron strikes like a viper on a mouse and pulls her forcefully onto his lap, but he is watching Aeron, was watching him all along. She looks to him too, pleading with him to intervene as Euron roughly fondles her teats and her cunny, and she quakes, predictably finding the Crow's Eye terrifying. Her eyes outright condemn him as a coward when he makes no attempt to rescue her. His own are dark like jet stones, and she won’t glimpse any pity in there; they don't even reflect the firelight. So what if he does nothing. She is only a thrall's daughter, after all, and Euron takes what he wants, especially if it belongs to Aeron.

Euron laughs when he has no reaction other than to stare sullenly and drain his ale. He shoves her away with no harm done except a spanked arse, and she scuttles off, it appears to Aeron like an old, hunch-backed crone although she was both young and fair. He suddenly comes to the realization he is very drunk and therefore unlikely to triumph in the game Euron likes to make of being reasonable.

“I meant what I said,” Euron murmurs, pouring from the pitcher she left on the table in her haste to escape. Aeron wants to suggest he might prefer to drink the same vile Qartheen nightshade that taints his lips but he keeps quiet. “It is my first night in port, after all.”

“There are plenty upstairs.” He says gruffly, covering his skittishness with assumed ignorance.

“I think you know those don’t interest me.”

“Don't try and put me out of countenance.” He retorts, ill-disposed to venture any further into this conversation. “I’m not a frightened child anymore.”

Euron smiles a bitter, but somewhat appreciative grin at his bluntness. “No, of course not. And yet I'll wager you still lay awake trembling when you heard of my return. Had you hoped I was lost at sea, never to darken our late father's hall with my presence again?”

Aeron gets up then, head spinning and the floor beneath him seeming to tilt as if he stands on the deck of the Storm. “Aye, perhaps I had. But I am a man, now. You cannot think to practise your foul perversions on me as you once did.” He believes saying it out loud will convince Euron he does not fear him, but the words ring hollow, even to his own ears.

“I was afraid you’d say that.” Euron says, not sounding very regretful at all. “I’ll just take you in a different way.”

Euron's shadow envelops him and Aeron shies away as he's embraced, then dragged down onto the bench, but Euron is stronger, faster and hard against him. His bony elbows are cinched together by the span of Euron's hand, practically touching one other behind his back and held so his strength ebbs away from him every time he jerks, cursing, tightness rising in his chest. It is said the Crow's Eye has learnt new tricks every time he comes back from the far-flung corners of the world. Euron wrenches his head back by the hair, baring his neck just to watch him swallow, or perhaps making up his mind about whether he wants to throttle him or not.

“Ah, yes.” He says. “You're the sweetest of all of us, you know.” Aeron knows he doesn't mean sweet, that he really means weak. “Your squalls are so very easily dowsed.”

Aeron swears and strains against him, keeps repeating to himself there is nothing he does like about this for him not to fight. He closes his eyes as his breeches are opened and he is stroked, thrumming hot against the slim fingers teasing him, and the humiliating fact his brother can hold him fast with one arm. Euron does however offer him the choice to move his lower body and he twice succumbs to the invitation to thrust and sate himself, unconsciously or not. Those concessions are rewarded by an amused snort. There is no knife against his throat, but he stays still as if there is, after that. The Crow's Eye doesn't need blades to make a point, nor to rob him of his wits, or cheat him, and play with him like always.

“I have a plan for destroying the Lannister fleet, by the way. Don't worry, you're not involved much. All you have to do is try not to get killed.” He rakes him painfully as he says that, tugging hard at the thatch below his belly.

The implied threat sends Aeron wrenching forward, spurred into action. He knocks the jars and candle over in a desperate attempt to attract attention without calling out and he'll be forever thankful people turned towards the sound of earthenware crashing into jagged shards. Euron makes a disgusted noise and throws him into the light, onto the floor. He hopes they see what he wants them to see, him rolling over glowering, tangle-haired, proud, as his tormentor steps over him.

“It appears my brother has overindulged in his cups. I pray you throw him out, should he become any more of a nuisance to you.”

Foreign coins spill from his fist onto the table, gold more than enough to pay for the damage and the ale. Aeron waits for the heavy creak of the hinge in the opposite direction, the blessed surety that Euron is gone.

He pushes his hair out of his eyes and picks himself up gingerly, acutely aware of all their gazes on him, intent although it must be nothing new to them, it's certainly not unheard of for the youngest of Balon Greyjoy's brothers to come among them and make an ass of himself before the night is out. It takes him far too many tries to get to his unsteady feet. Before long, they will take him to the moonlit pools at the edge of the sea, dragging as if he is trailing an anchor's weight behind him.