When his son is born, Rhaegar has never been happier, though he hadn’t been able to witness the birth. Though the happiness around the Red Keep is forced, he ignores it, he is happy at least. The war is over, his second wife is healthy. He sees young Rhaenys playing with her cat. He smiles as he goes to her. She looks up to him and smiles, before looking confused, then hurt and turning her attention back to her cat, shoulders slumped. His son is momentarily put aside for his oldest child and he kneels beside her, smiling and touching her shoulder gently.
“Rhaenys, my darling are you well?” He looks to the cat and struggles to remember its name. Balerion, that’s right. After the dragon. He smiles wider. “Is Balerion as fierce as he was before I took my adventure?”
He remembers how she’d act as if it were the Black Dread itself, how she’s praise its strength and cunning.
“Balerion isn’t fierce…he’s just a cat, a good cat but he is not a dragon, he is not the Dread. It was a silly game.”
Rhaenys looks to him before looking away, petting the cat all the while. He blinks at his daughter, once so full of stories. Once so full of joy. But the war seems to have changed her slightly. To have-
“Why don’t you love mother and brother and I anymore, papa?”
Her voice is so clear and leveled that it breaks him from his thought. Her violet eyes look up to him, not meeting his own before looking back to the cat. Rhaegar is stunned to, say the least, and he smiles gently to his daughter.
“Darling, I do love you, and Aegon, and your mother.”
Her brows furrow gently and she frowns. He wants to reassure her more, to say it in words that she will understand. But suddenly she looks to him again and her eyes are far too serious to be a child’s. Brows still furrowed and mouth still set in a frown she speaks more like an adult than he’s sure she should.
“Then why did you start a new family? You wouldn’t start a new one unless you didn’t want the other one…so…you don’t want us anymore….Mother cries a lot now, and Uncle Oberyn says you will make the new baby your heir instead of Aegon and send us all back to Dorne or lock us up in the Holdfast again like grandfather did…I don’t like the Holdfast…men broke mother’s apartment up during the war after you took the Stark girl that everyone talks about…we were really scared and mother had this vial - like the ones the maester’s keep medicine in - in her hands the whole time while she held Aegon and me and she wouldn’t stop crying, but she told us it would be okay and she sang to us and told us we must be brave and that she was of the sun so she would always take care of us - like the sun does - and make sure nothing bad happened to us…I like it when mother sings…I don’t like the Holdfast…I don’t want you to be my papa anymore…” Tears are slipping down her little face and she looks away, gathering her cat in her arms and walking away with it.
Rhaegar is speechless and can only watch his daughter leave. And suddenly he doesn’t feel so happy anymore.