“Goodnight, your grace.” Jaime Lannister respectfully nodded his head, leaving Elia alone in her bedchambers. She was lying on her bed, eyes red from weeping, and stomach swollen with a mother’s belly. The Lannister was the only one to still visit her, now that Rhaegar was gone to Storm’s End and Ashara was at Starfall, visiting her parents. Her first child was leaving her so cripples she could not even enjoy the warm sun.
Elia loved her brother more dearly than even herself. She had been only 9 moons old when Oberyn was born. The first memory she had was of them both. Oberyn’s beautiful brown eyes peering into her own. She had only been just short of her second name day, but this was what she remembered.
“Stay, Ser Jaime. Please. I do not bear being alone.” Elia begged as he was half out the door. The young Knight stopped short and looked over to where Elia was looking up at him.
“Your grace …” He protested.
“Please, Ser Jaime.” Elia begged. The blonde lion sighed and turned around, closing the door behind her. He sat down on the chair next to Elia’s bed and Elia reached out and took his hand.
She felt like a traitor to her house. Unbent, unbowed, unbroken. She was bent, bowed and broken. She was nothing like her strong mother, who with a single command could tell armies what to do, she was nothing like her strong brother, who married his woman, no matter the consequences, she was nothing like her strong Oberyn, who was called the Red Viper because of his strength and wit. No. She was Elia Targaryen, the frail, weak wife of the king who could not get out of bed long enough to walk in the sun. She was bent. She had been bent by the hand of King Aerys. She was Bowed. She had been bowed by the hand of King Aerys. She was broken. She had been broken at the hand of Elia Martell.
“Elia!” Oberyn had cried as he chased them through the streets of Sunspear. The people went out of their way, smiling at their Prince and their Princess and their immature ways. “I’m gonna catch you.”
“Never, brother.” Elia yelled. Oberyn snorted and lunged for Elia, knocking them both into a bed of hay. Oberyn looked at her with his youthful, smiling face. She reached out to put a strand of dark hair behind his ears, and just as Oberyn leaned into her touch, jerked her knee up into his manhood. As he groaned, she could hear the cheers of the people surrounding them and she stood proud over him. He glowered up at her, but it was not long before they both collapsed laughing again.
Elia had been 13. Oberyn had threatened her for weeks following. That if there was permanent damage to his manhood he would do the same to her. They had played the same game again not 2 weeks later and Oberyn had won, putting his hand between her thighs, a smirk on his face.
“Do you know Oberyn?” Elia asked Jaime weakly. He shook his pale hair, so much like that of his sister. “I wish he was here.”
She was silent, so was he, and she pulled her knees closer to her chest.
“Do you think that Father will survive?” Elia asked quietly. Oberyn and her were lying, forehead to forehead, knees to knees, elbow to elbow, foot to foot, on her cot. They were on their way to Sunspear after hearing of their father’s illness. “We would never see each other again if I get betrothed or you are fostered.”
“I won’t be fostered somewhere else.” Oberyn disputed her immediately. “Mother won’t allow it. She will not let me be fostered or you get betrothed I know it.”
“I never want to marry anyone.” Elia whispered, her forehead crinkling as the tears shot to her eyes. Oberyn took one look at her and stretched to his full height – nearly a head larger than Elia – and engulfed Elia in his smell and touch as he embraced her. “Promise me I never have to marry anyone.”
“Not if I can help it.”
Oberyn had always been much better at reading her than anyone else. She was sure that he knew her better than she knew herself. Later, much later, Elia had asked him why he was ruining all her chances of getting married, he came back to this promise.
“Why are you doing this?” Elia screamed at her brother. They were in the privacy of his chambers. She had burst in while he was reading in a book Doran had brought from the free cities. “They were good and honorable men.”
“I did not force you to reject them.” Oberyn said calmly. “That was your choice.”
“Why did you act like a brat? Mother says you were acting like a brat and I agree.” Elia spat harshly. Oberyn’s façade held strong even as Elia’s fists beat his chest in anger. He eventually held her fists tight and looked down at her. Oberyn towered over her, more than a head taller, and his body pressed close to hers, as he looked her in the eyes.
“you made me promise.” Oberyn said quietly, almost sadly. “I break no oath.”
“That was years ago.” Elia said stunned. She stared at her brother, whose unforgiving dark eyes stared into her own. She did not think her brother remembered that. “We were both sick with grief.”
“I remember everything you say.” Oberyn told her. Elia fell silent and there they stood. He rested his chin on her head and hugged her close. Elia felt sad in a way. She did not know why, but she felt sad.
“I love you.” Oberyn whispered in her hair.
“I wish my sister were here.” Jaime said quietly. He squeezed Elia’s hand. “She and I planned for me to join the Kings Guard to stay close to each other. Now she is in Casterly Rock with father and I am stuck here with King Aerys.”
“Oberyn raged when I was just thought of a potential suitor. Then he helped Rhaegar win my hand and I still know not why he did it.” Elia whispered. Jaime looked at him with his green, Lannister eyes.
“He loves you.” It was not a question, but a simple statement. “Take it from a brother who loves his sister as well.”
“Oberyn and I, we were to marry you and your sister. We arrived just shortly after Lady Joanna died at Lord Tyrion’s birth.” Elia looked at the young lion, who looked surprised at her words.
“You call him not the Imp?” he asked. Elia just smiled at shook her head.
“He is ignoring us.” Oberyn raged. “Lord Lannister has no right to ignore us like this.”
“No. Calm yourself, brother of mine. It is the grief. Do you not remember how mother was at the time of father’s death.” Elia took hold of her brother’s hands and placed them on her heart. He calmed down, his wild rage fleeing from his eyes and soul. “I am sure it will be fine once the grieving period has gone.”
“Have you seen the Imp yet?” Oberyn teased. Elia silenced him with a glare.
“Tyrion is a wonderfully sweet and loving baby. I wish you men were not so easy to judge a little character who was born unlucky.” Elia scolded him gently. “You will have to see him. He is a beautiful little boy.”
“When I last saw Lord Tyrion he was a perfectly healthy boy who had not yet grown to his size.” Jaime gave her a brilliant smile at her words. Elia’s façade wavered. It was so like Oberyn’s when she had seen him with baby Tyrion at Casterly Rock.
Elia clasped Jaime’s hand with hers and held them like a child would hold her mother’s hand.
“Deep in the meadow, under the willow
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow
Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes
And when again they open, the sun will rise.”
Elia watched with wonder as her brother sang to the little baby. He was holding Tyrion in his arms, swaying to the sway of the song as he looked at the little boy. The Dwarf-Boy was chewing on Oberyn’s shirt and gurgling happily.
“Hey.” He says with a blinding grin. “You were right. Lord Tyrion is very sweet.”
Elia says nothing, she does not need to. Her face pours every emotion – love and even more love – out onto Oberyn. Her mind wanders into forbidden territory. What if he were their child? They were to live alone away from everyone? They were married and have more children?
She snaps out of it when little Jaime Lannister comes running into the room. He stops short when he sees them both and runs out again. Oberyn places Tyrion back into his crib and takes Elia’s hand as they leave the room together.
They fall asleep like this. Elia holding Jaime’s hand and Jaime crouched uncomfortably on the much too small chair. It is the position Eleanor, Elia’s maid, finds them the next morning. Eleanor is the best maid Elia has, only second to Ashara. She says naught but only gently wakes the young lion and helps Elia dress.
Rhaegar will not come back for another week, Rhaella tells her later that day. Rhaella, who is living proof of the King’s madness, is a sweet and kind woman and had always been lovely to Elia.
That night Elia invites Jaime Lannister back into her room. They talk for hours, always carefully evading the topic of Lady Cersei or Oberyn.
“Have you heard of the betrothal of Lyanna Stark and Robert Baratheon?” Jaime asks her. Elia is more than surprised. She had met Lady Lyanna Stark and her brother Lord Brandon when she was on her way back to Sunspear from Casterly Rock.
“They are quite tedious are they not?” Brandon Stark was a boy of two-and-five. Elia looked down to where Lyanna Stark, who was only eight, was playing catch with Oberyn. “Little siblings?”
“But one does still love them.” Elia sighed. Brandon smiled at her.
“One does.” Brandon leaned over the barrier and shouted something down to Lyanna. The girl looked up and shot Brandon such a beaming smile, Elia was surprised at the force of it. She recognized the look Brandon was now giving Lyanna. A look full of love, tenderness and affection. It was a look Elia gave Oberyn.
Her friendship had been a short, but welcome one. They stayed in touch after that. Sending ravens from the most southern point of Westeros to the highest northern point of Westeros took long and often Elia would wait a moon until she got Brandon’s reply to her letter. She felt for the dear Ashara and her Ned. If a friendship like Elia and Brandon’s was frustrated by the long ways, how would a love like Ashara and Ned’s survive?
Oberyn was waiting in her chambers. It was short before they were to arrive at Sunspear after months of being away from home. She noticed the moment she looked at him that he had drunken more than he should have. He reeked of wine and his eyes were glazy.
“What in the Seven Hells happened to you?” Elia said sharply. She pushed her brother onto a chair and trust a goblet of water into his hand.
“Elia?” Oberyn whispered. “Do you love me, Elia?”
“Of course I love you. You are my brother.” Elia took a step back and watched as her brother’s dark, haunting eyes turned to her.
“Do you love me more than just a mere brother?” Oberyn asked, his voice breaking. Elia rushed forward and hugged him. Now this, she thought, was venturing into forbidden territory.
“Of course, Obie. You are my brother, my best friend and my woman.” Oberyn did not laugh at the jape, but just looked at her, anger claiming the sadness in his eyes.
“So you do not love me?” Oberyn asked. His gentle, calm tone was gone and his infamous temper was rising. Elia held his hands together and she leaned closer to him and leaned her forehead on his shoulder.
“I love you with all my heart.”
Oberyn lifted her head and as he stared into her eyes, pressed a urgent, but fleeting kiss on her lips. Elia nearly sobbed when she saw his heartbroken expression when she tore away from him, eyes wide.
They stared at each other for a moment, until Oberyn snapped. “So you do not love me enough to kiss me? Elia, I hope the Seven Hells get you.”
Elia hit him.
Her temper was much softer and calmer than his and he had yet been the only one to coax it out of her. But if her temper came it came hard and rash and left everything burning in its wake. “Leave! I hope you get the sweat fever and I never have to see you again.”
“Fine.” Oberyn spat and he spun around and ran out of her room.
Jaime watched Elia, she knew this. His concerned look wandered over her passing beauty and he held her hand strongly, never had his grip wavered.
She had curled up into her little hole again, one arm wrapped around her knees, as they were pressed against her chest. Her head was on her knees and her hand holding Jaime’s was hurting from the hours of holding Jaime’s.
Elia could not stand being away from Oberyn. She was miserable. It felt as if the reason why she lived was being ripped away from her. Elia had not spoken to him since that night when they fought. Doran was concerned, asking both Elia and Oberyn what was wrong.
“Do not do this.” Doran tells Elia. She looks at him and his brotherly concern in coming out in heaps. “Please sister. Our strong, viper brother is crying.”
Elia’s eyes water and before she knows it she is in Doran’s arms. She clutches at her brother, tears streaming down her face. He murmers sweet nothings into her hair, soothing her. “Go to him, Elia. Stop this madness.”
She goes to him.
He is in his chambers, eyes red from crying and nose swollen and runny. To Elia he has never looked so utterly perfect in his life. She watches him curled up on his bed for a while. Sometimes she forgets that no matter how tall, proud or beautiful her brother might be, he is still just a child, younger than Elia.
She curls up next to him and they mirror the position they had adapted when their father had died. Noses touching, each breathing the others breathe, and bodies pressed close to each other. He just regard her. Quietly, calmly and almost with an air of sadness.
“Oberyn.” She mutters softly. He turns his head away, just does not move anywhere else. He lies still waiting for Elia’s next move. She reaches for his face in a sort of stupid rashness. Her lips finds his as easily as his had found hers weeks before.
Oberyn says nothing but leans into the kiss and closes his eyes.
Elia watches carefully as Prince Rhaegar nears her with a bouquet of lavender. Elia loves Lavander. It is her favorite flower and favorite scent.
“A present for the most beautiful lady in the lands.” Rhaegar says as he presents her with the flowers. She smiles and says her curtsies.
“How did you know about the lavender?” Elia asks the Prince. He blushes lightly and bows his head.
“Your brother, Prince Oberyn helped me.”
Elia storms into her brother’s chambers, interrupting his studies with three squires.
“What game do you think you are playing?” She yells at him. The squires run out of the room and Oberyn turns to Elia, confused.
“What are you talking about Elia?”
“Why are you helping Prince Rhaegar court me?” She yells at him. Oberyn flinches at her volume but does not back down.
“Prince Rhaegar is a good match for you. He is nice, comely and I believe would be a good husband.” Elia stares at her brother. Agony and pain deep in her soul, threating to bubble over. She feels her eyes water and her lip starts to waver.
“I want you.”
Elia’s wedding is a grand and emotional affair. Her mother cries as Oberyn hands her to Rhaegar Targaryen, a courtesy actually Doran’s but he had passed it to Oberyn.
“I will vow to honor and love her always.” Rhaegar promises and Elia smiles as they kiss gently. From the edge of her vision she can see Oberyn clench his jaw, but force a smile on his face for Mother’s sake.
Oberyn. Oberyn. Oberyn. Rhaegar does not leave her after the bedding ceremony. They spend the night together. Rhaegar is a nice man. They can talk for hours, but both know the other is not their true love. Oberyn. Oberyn. Oberyn.
Oberyn visits her the first time a week after she is married. He looks shyly at her, then laughs when Elia attacks his lips and breeches with a fervor not unknown to either.
Jaime lets out a surprised yelp when Elia suddenly sits up in her bed and clutches in stomach in pain. She looks down to her thighs to find them entirely wet.
“She is coming.” Elia is not sure why she was sure at that moment that her child was going to be a girl, but she hopes, she wishes.
Jaime runs off to find Rhaella and the Maester. When they come Elia is already half in birthing pain. The birth is a quick, but not painless affair. Not by dawn Elia holds her daughter in her arms.
Rhaenys. Rhaenys is purely Martell, dark hair, dark eyes (not blue like every babies) and olive skin. No part Targaryen in her blood.
A wave of relief runs through Elia and she peppers her daughter with kisses.
When Rhaegar returns to the Red Keep days later he is not coming for a son, he is coming for a child of theirs, but it is a child of Elia’s he gets.