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Perchance to Dream

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People liked to call Dany a “pretty child”.

Then, as Aegon liked to say, she opened her mouth.

It wasn’t that Dany was rude- no daughter of Rhaella Targaryen could get away with being rude. Her mother, faded as she seemed, had a core of dragonsteel and believed to her bones that manners and Protocol were what kept the Blood together. It was that she told impossible tales, of creatures even her oldest brother thought fantasy or long dead. It was that Dany had special friends, and secrets, and whenever she was silly or excited enough to mention them, she saw the absent dismissal in people’s eyes.

Well, not Aegon’s uncle, but everyone knew the Red Viper was half-crazy.

She was a witch who could not even wield basic Craft, much less wear the Jewels, people rationalized. Of course she made up stories to rationalize her difference. It was a shame, of course, but these things happened.

She shouted and she protested until she was as red in the face as Vhagar, but no one listened.

So she sulked, and tried to figure out how to get people to listen .

~

Rhaenys combed her hair after Dany had gotten sick of adults petting the long blonde braids and hacked it off to her ears. The older girl still had twigs in her hair, and had a slight cut on her hands, flicking into view whenever she twisted her wrist. She’d been playing a game with Edmure Tully and her cousin Nym, and had snuck back in the house. “You know you have to be careful,” the older girl said, her Rose Jewel seeming to shift slightly in the light. Dany huffed. “Do you know what could happen?”

Rhaenys was quiet, never speaking to not-family unless it was to answer questions in a slow, thoughtful voice. Viserys liked to say she was born a fifty-year-old nun. She hid and stayed with her books, only showing temper when someone was bothering her friends.

She was boring, mostly. She didn’t skip lessons to visit dragons in their caves, or watch iele dance, or go to a market in far off places. She was merely a light-jewelled queen, clever, but more noticeable for the startling purple eyes in her dark face, and the fact that her family were considered Very Important.

Dany had spent her morning with a lovely silver unicorn, talking about the woods the Queen tended. She hadn’t spent it learning history in the dusty library.

“How was Cassie?” Dany asked, figuring she should be nice to the person who believed her. Cassie had been one of her mother’s ladies, once, and a Black Widow. Something had happened, involving Dany’s father, but no one would say anything in front of Dany.

Rhaenys sighed, sounding a lot older than thirteen. “Stubborn. But she was saying stuff.”

Dany wanted to argue that Cassie never mentioned stuff that wasn’t like a hundred years old and wasn’t part of her dream world, and whatever it wasn’t couldn’t be that bad.

“She says… well, just promise me you’ll be quiet? They’ll think you’re as mad as Granddad if you aren’t careful,” Rhaenys said, biting her lip. Things had been changing, slowly-  got called a pretty child with a lot of other stuff added in- “pity she’s mad”, “unreal”, “if only she would be sweet and listen”. Rhaenys got people who smiled at her and her dad let her sit with the adults sometimes, showing her off.

But even if people liked sweet, quiet Rhaenys who was clever like a trap and cleverer because she hid it, it didn’t matter. Rhaenys still chose to teach her the stories Dany knew she needed to hear, hadn’t laughed when Dany’s experiments with Craft had gone wrong- she really hadn’t meant to turn everything blue, just Aegon’s hair- and had been delighted when Dany brought back thirteen glittering Black Jewels from her offering, hidden in her jacket pocket. And she hadn’t given them to her father, which was... nice. Dany shouldn’t be afraid of her oldest brother knowing, Rhaegar was kind and clever, everyone said so, but…

Something told her that would be a bad idea.

So she sang the song the unicorn had taught her, in sharp fluting tones none of the Blood of Dragonstone Island knew, as Rhaenys used Craft to try and fix Dany’s hair before their mothers saw it.

~

“Friends are good,” Rhaenys had told her, smiling sadly when Dany had indignantly said Tyrion and Sarella and Brienne and Edmure and Jynessa were her friends.  She’d explained they were Rhaenys’ friends, too old for a younger girl to hang out with all the time.

So, Dany thought, she’d make friends she could take home with her. That couldn’t be so hard.

Arwyn Frey was thin and reedy and should be learning about her Black Widow gifts before they devoured her alive. But they said that Late Walder Frey doesn’t believe in teaching girls more than a few bits of polite magic, and the only reasons he doesn’t break them is the spectre of Blackfish Tully and Oswell Whent standing by, with dark Jewels and vicious temper at the ready.

Dany brings her books and begs Nymeria to help her friend, and Nym gives that scary smile that means she finds this hilarious. Or that this will annoy someone Nym doesn’t like, which is the same thing. Elia Sand, who scowls fiercely whenever everyone calls her “Little Bit” to make it clear they aren’t talking about her aunt, follows, and Little Elia is bright and fun, even if she doesn’t follow strict Protocol as Rhaella Targaryen preaches it.

Daario is another person who sees her as… her brain still shies away from the word, but he gifts her a riot of roses, a wicked-looking dragonbone knife, and an offer of loyalty. He is hers , and part of her Circle, the magic and instinct forming a two-way binding, but there is something too sharp in his smile, something that revels in the cold and sharp parts of being Blood. She is reminded a bit of Rhaenys’ Uncle Oberyn, but without the warm loyalty towards his family.

Jhiqui, Irri, and Doreah are students in Elia’s tutelage, clever and quarreling. Jhiqui is better with languages than anyone, even Rhaegar, and there is something about sweet Irri that makes Dany blush and get tongue-tied. Doreah is an Older Girl, dreamy and romantic, who she hasn’t known since she could talk. Viserys tries to sleep with her, years before her Virgin Night, and when she finds them, Rhaenys turns on Viserys in her rage , a single, freezing “Attend” that makes him look like she ran him through, her Rose Jewel seeming darker from its makeshift cage. Viserys has always hated it, but Rhaenys is his Lady, at least until he finds someone to properly serve.

(Once Dany had been convinced that Rhaenys had secrets of her own, and had sworn she’d seen her niece walking quietly through the halls of a library that wasn’t… that her friends tended. But Rhaenys had looked at her strangely, and said she had spent her day with Sarella. And Rhaenys was boring, sometimes, and far too… nice to have secrets.)

Her mother clearly bit her tongue a few times, and Dany was pretty sure that someone- Elia, probably, because after giving Rhaella Targaryen two grandchildren and not murdering Rhaegar after his affair, or denying paternity and access to Rhaenys and Aegon, when Jon’s existence came out two weeks before Rhaenys’ birthright ceremony, Elia could do no wrong in her mother’s eyes.

(Dany had found out about Jon, who was almost exactly Dany’s age, when she turned ten. She’d met him in school, when he was transferred over with his cousins. He was… kind of boring. In a different way to Aegon, who was cheerful, popular, and thought she was bonkers. Maybe he’d be more interesting when he was older? Elia and Oberyn had spoken about him when he was older as if something would happen. She’d need to ask Rhaenys when no one was listening. She’d almost worked out how to fix it to stop anyone from listening in. Even if Edmure had ended up unable to hear anything for two days.)

But Dany was happy with her friends- Margaery Tyrell, who her mother had brought over a few times, clearly didn’t want to be friends with Dany, and was fonder of Jon’s cousin Sansa and her Tyrell cousins. Sansa wouldn’t come over, even if she liked Dany’s stories in writing class. (Though she didn’t know they were real.)

Plus, she thought, sliding through the cool, dark place, stepping into the shifting light and sweet, pine-y breezes of the forest of the unicorns, she still had her other friends, even if she couldn’t speak about them to her mother.

~

Dany knew the stories about Witch, of course.

There were the Blood, who tended the land, who tended the gates, and had power stretching from the pale shadow and slight magic of the White to the myth-rare, singing depths of the Black. Once, it was accepted that the world was full of magic, and dragons soared the skies, selkies came to the beach to bring music to the Ironborn, and the Children were to be found behind every tree.

Now, of course, the rules were stricter, and the fluid, whirlwind dance of Protocol was stricter, like a… pretzel stick.

Dany, as Sansa liked to say in writing class, was not very good at metaphors.

But she could see something was wrong. There were rules, old rules. The stories she was told by the demon-dead in the shadowy lands and what the old, old librarian had told her made it clear- this was something that had been getting worse over a long period of time. People wanted power, so they used loopholes in Protocol to keep people from noticing. From there, they twisted what the Blood were supposed to be, straddling the line from caretaker to controller. They convinced people, slowly, that the old ways were wrong, and they offered up people who couldn’t fight back as temptation.

The demon-dead, who kept their bodies working through power and sheer will, were considered monsters, all of their personality ignored because they shunned sunlight and were lesser versions of Guardians.

Cassie, the Black Widow who had served her mother, had her mind broken and warped, shattering the Opal jewel she wore then, trapping her mind in the Twisted Kingdom.

If the rumors were true, Dany was really, really happy that Elia had poisoned her… had stopped Aerys.

That was what Rhaenys had meant, wasn’t it? When Dany had been seven, and she was ten, and she’d told Dany to be careful, because people didn’t like it when you were unusual. Or when you had things people In Charge didn’t like.

Even Dany’s mother wasn’t fond of Black Widows, saying they were amusing as fortune tellers, but you shouldn’t take lunch with them.

(Tyene Sand was sweet, and had fixed Dany’s dress before church more times than Dany could count. Oberyn Martell, who was strange and sometimes a bit scary, but it wasn’t because he had studied to be a Black Widow, which was, okay, boys didn’t do that, ever, but…

And Nym! Nym was one of like three people who could make Rhaenys laugh and make her talk a lot. She even got Rhaenys in trouble, once. Clearly, she wasn’t evil.)

 

Dany knew that something was wrong with this, could see it in the blank face Rhaenys used, in Aegon’s furrowed brow when what his mother and cousins said didn’t match with what others did, in Cersei Lannister’s cold fury when she was talked over, in the way Sansa was treated by her teachers when she got better grades than almost anyone.

She just didn’t know how to fix it.

 

Her special friends, the great shaggy unicorn with a dark horn that seemed to absorb light, and the dryads in the mountain forests, they called her Witch, with an emphasis she didn’t quite catch, thinking it was…

 

She wasn’t sure. She couldn’t be special, she knew that from how the people who visited treated her, from Rhaegar just… skipping over her, and Viserys’ taunts.

 

(At least, until Rhaenys had heard him, and told him if she ever, ever heard him treating a girl like that again, she’d sic all of her cousins on him. Since no one would believe Rhaenys able to take Viserys, who was half a foot taller and two years older, not to mention his Green jewel that outranked hers like mad, it was the only way he’d stop.)

 

She’d attended Winsol, of course, hiding behind Rhaenys or Arianne, talking to Elia Sand, and she’d seen the adults raising a toast to Witch.

 

“If they ever met Witch in all her glory,” Arianne said, raising her eyebrows and smirking, “they’d probably need their brown pants.”

 

Rhaenys had bit her lip, looking at nothing in particular. Elia had cackled, throwing back her head.

 

“An angry saint,” Doreah agreed, “would not make good company, for a sinner.” Her heavy blonde hair is pulled up in what seems like a very adult way. Or maybe that’s because Doreah is twenty-one, now, and will be making her Offering and receiving her adult power once Winsol is over. She makes a smiling complaint every year about her birthday falling in the two-week holiday. And every year, Jhiqui points out that she likes to pretend all the parties are for her.

 

“An angry saint?” Nym tilted her head, dark eyes narrowed faintly. “An angry goddess, I’d think.”

 

Irri gives a bright, curious smile that usually means she is going to question something that she is afraid of. “But surely the Blood all honor Protocol and would not question how things should be?”

 

No one is quite so brave as to laugh, not with Tywin Lannister so close.

 

(Though, Dany figured from the stories told by the Dowager Prince of Sunspear, Tywin Lannister does at least value the idea of a good Queen. No one she has heard spoke badly of Joanna Lannister’s quick mind or the steel will that so matched her husband.)

 

But it is only two months after Winsol that Dany, now fourteen, realized that, well…

 

Witch, Dreams Made Flesh, Our Lady of Justice, Balancer of the Scales, Mother of the Lost, The Wind that Scours the Wicked- she liked that one, she heard it from Ellaria Sand- is actually Dany.

 

Dany, when she realized that it is not that they don’t feel her worthy of the “lady” that all Blood females are supposed to get, does not feel terribly like an angry goddess. Or a saint.

 

She felt… helpless. She could barely manage basic Craft! She’d never had formal lessons, just Rhaenys talking her through some spells, and showing Rhaenys how to do things like air-walking, but that wasn’t a spell, really, just… she’d wanted to do it, and that was the result.

 

How was she supposed to fix… anything?

 

More to the point, Dany only found this out because one of her friends told her. If she had a special destiny, shouldn’t she have been born knowing?

 

(Mind, a voice that sounds suspiciously like Arwyn thought, the thirteen Black jewels should have been a tip-off.)

 

When her mind finally came back to reality, Bryn was looking at her.

 

He isn’t quite demon-dead- he’s not quite alive, she knows that, but it isn’t just his Red jewel keeping him alive. Rhaenys, when Dany asked her, thought he might possibly be a Guardian. After reading up on Guardians, and how they were different from vampires, she had tentatively asked his lady, whose bright eyes matched the Green and Sapphire jewels she hid in a collar amid their non-magical cousins. (She made a game of her name- Bryn called her Star of the Evening, Cranky Witch of His Heart, and other things, depending on his mood. But neither would tell Dany her real na,me.)

 

The lady had laughed, a lovely sound like fairy bells, her silver-and-gold hair falling over her face. “Oh! Oh, I simply must tell him, this is priceless, if only Baelor was here to here this one…”

 

Dany blushed, feeling terribly silly.

 

“Oh, no, don’t worry, you aren’t the only one to think that,” she laughed. “I think Dya, our youngest nephew’s wife, thought the same when they met, only she asked him in public. I wasn’t there, but Gwen teased him mercilessly for weeks.” There was a merry expression that didn’t fade when Dany asked for help with some tricky bit of Craft.

 

“Shiera,” Bryn called, slightly panicking. “I think I might have broken her.”

 

“I am not broken,” Dany said, the unfortunate choice of words too close to bad memories and trains of thoughts for it come out as anything but a snarl.

 

The room, which was always slightly cool, grows freezing, and Dany’s breath is coming out like smoke from a dragon.

 

“Lady, calm,” he said, firmly, and she thinks later there was something slightly… it is a bit like the expression on Nym’s face when she plays poker with Rhaenys. “I mean you no harm.”

 

“I can’t be Witch,” Dany said, hating the shakiness of her voice. She steadies herself. “You must be mistaken.”

 

“He isn’t,” the Lady said, glaring at Bryn. “Though I suspect he could have told you more kindly.”

 

“But would it have worked?” he asked.

 

She sighed. “It is true, though.”

 

Dany frowned. “But… why me? Why now?”

 

They looked at each other. “A terrible lot of reasons, I’m afraid,” the Lady said. “I suspect the universe was merely at a tipping point, and a sort of… response creates Witch. After all, the idea of Witch is a Blood lady who poised to fix a problem that cannot or will not be addressed by the community at large. Therefore, there have been rather more Witches than you would expect. Their success rate isn’t perfect, of course, but…”

 

“...Witch is a Black-jewelled queen,” Dany pointed out. “That would be something you hear about.”

 

“A selkie Witch would be common knowledge?” the Lady asked, smiling. “Besides, Witch as the Scourer is what you are thinking of, and only a facet of the possibilities. There are quieter dreams than the fate of the universe, darling.”

 

“Though you do wear the Black already, which is puzzling,” Bryn said, tapping his bone-pale fingers on the desk. “I still don’t understand it. What happens after you make your Offering?”

 

Dany looked around the library, trying not to let on how that worried on her. When the Blood came of age and made the Offering, they descended up to three ranks, White to Rose, Red to Black, and everything in between. No one ever received darker than Red for their Birthright.

 

“We still have seven years,” the Lady said, firmly. “We’ll worry about that later.”

 

And that, Dany suspected, would be the only answer available today.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Two:- Lysa

 

Lysa had never dreamed of marrying Jon Arryn.

 

Little girls, when they planned their weddings, did not dream of men like Jon Arryn. He was older than her father, had buried two Queens, had horrible breath, and he was arrogant. Not for him was the lazy deadliness of Jaime Lannister, the hidden power of her Uncle Brynden, or even the boundless everything of Brandon Stark.

 

(Though Brandon Stark had died messily. So maybe Lysa didn’t want to marry a Brandon Stark, unless she hated him enough to want to be a widow before being a bride.

 

So she actually wished Jon Arryn was that impulsive, when it came down to it.)

 

But she was a witch- a Queen, even- who had made her own Virgin Night, without careful consideration before the bedding, or any of that.

 

Mostly because Petyr only wore the Yellow, while she wore Purple Dusk, and Lysa had wanted it. From the whispers she and Cat had gathered, shock, fright, and someone wanting to cause harm were why a witch could break.

 

Her father had not seen a Healer about procuring the moon tea, not wanting to risk gossip. He’d gone to the Steward, a man who had known Hoster Tully his whole life and who was solemn and loyal. Not really much else, but solemn and loyal.

 

Lysa hadn’t known- her father didn’t believe in moon tea. Uncle Brynden had said it often enough, before and after.

 

(Lysa wondered if it was a reference to her mother, who had died when something went wrong in the birthing bed, only a Summer Sky Healer nearby. Or perhaps there was more than a whiff of hypocrisy about her father.)

 

When she rose out of the Healing webs, pale and tired, she hadn’t wanted anything. The world seemed terribly out of focus, cold and grey.

 

And her father had found her Jon Arryn. Lysa would consider it a punishment, really, but she didn’t think her father saw it as such. After all, she was technically considered an equal to Cat, in this. Cat was one rank darker, with her Birthright Opal who descended two modest ranks to Sapphire. If her father had wanted to punish her, he would have married her off to a lesser Frey.

 

(Really, Cat’s Jewels were Arryn colors, Opal and Sapphire, and Cat was two years older. Why couldn’t she have married Jon Arryn and his wretched breath, and Lysa married the dull Prince.)

 

The feathery falcon wings should have been interesting- they were a unique feature of the Vale, the way Dornish Blood were all supposed to be slightly immune to poisons, even those who weren’t Black Widows.

 

Still, she tried to like the Vale- not Jon, never Jon, who was Lord Protector and overrode everything she did. Her aunt Shella said there was beauty in everything, if you took the time to look.

 

But surely someone would be kind? Petyr came from the Vale, after all, though he was not of the older Blood there- his mother had been a witch from the Sisters, and her grandfather from Braavos.

 

So Lysa did her duty. Uncle Brynden followed, as Master of the Guard. He gave her a puzzled look when she asked why, and said that she’d need someone there. She chose Bronze Royce for the post of Steward on his recommendation- he was rather like Uncle Brynden, she could recognize that most days.

 

Her mother had tried to teach her, when she was younger. Aunt Shella, as well, when they were young and Father still spoke with her.

 

Queens were the moral center of the land. They were to be good, and fair, proper ladies and ensure the people and land were well. If a Queen was not strong in her Craft, her Circle was to shoulder the burden and guide her.

 

And she was to choose her Circle. Aunt Shella had been very firm on that. She would know who was hers, feel it somehow. And she would work it out from there. There was a give and take, to reflect all castes and views.

 

Clearly, none of Jon Arryn’s wives had ever taught him that part.

 

After she had formally announced her uncle as Master of the Guard, one of the three highest positions in a Circle, and floated the idea of Yohn Royce as Steward, Jon had put his foot down. There were thirteen men in a Circle- the three men who formed an Inner triangle of sorts around the Queen. For her, it would be Uncle Brynden, Yohn Royce, and her husband. Jon had selected the other ten men- none of the Gulltown Arryns, who he looked down on, but families mostly known for their Andal blood, who didn’t marry outside the Vale.

 

It was smothering, for all of the wild winds that blew over the mountains. Oh, there was beauty in it, and the stars

 

Lysa disobeyed Jon the most when she went to one of the observation towers to watch the stars on clear nights.

 

After all, she had precious little else to do. Nonmagical roads did not easily reach the Eyrie, the mountain-top capitol of the Province. The way up and down was perilous, good for defense but not for travel. The magical roads were all down in the hills, none reaching higher than the Moon Gate.

 

It was terribly eerie, and claustrophobic- when the wind blew just so, it stole the breath from Lysa’s chest, leaving her gasping and unable to breathe.

 

Lysa was trapped. She could she it in the pitying glances sent her way, in the way conversations died when she entered the room.

 

She was a Province Queen, supposed to be the heart and soul of the Vale, and she had as little power as her serving maid.

 

~

 

Childbearing could be dangerous, she knew. How could she not?

 

There is danger in power, and a fragile babe in the womb could not last long with too much power in use. (Children do not get their Jewels until they are seven, cannot do more than the most basic spells. Trying to do too much would burn them up in a flash, and there are stories the septas tell recalcitrant young witches, of arrogant dark jeweled Queens who were left childless for not being careful.)

 

And Jon Arryn blames her for not having children, when he had been married twice before, and her babe had clung so fiercely to life it nearly took her into the afterlife with them.

 

When Robin started shaking, Lysa was half out of her mind with worry. She wanted… she wants to plead with the gods, because she is terrified. She wanted to have a chance to argue with Witch herself, if it would do any good.

 

But she cannot, and she is left trying to do what she can. The weight of her dead babes hangs around her like an anchor, dragging her down into the depths of despair. She thinks back on her pregnancy, trying to isolate if she did something wrong, if her hatred for Jon caused this.

 

The court whispered, of course, about the half-mad Queen and her ill son. And her husband sank into himself, avoids the stares and the whispers. He was pitied, a man older than her father with two childless wives before her. And Robin’s illness, his dead brothers and sisters, they were her flaw.

 

A Queen, Lysa knew, should not have to hide herself, hide her child, whenever illness or weakness is a possibility.

 

Cat probably did not have to do so.

 

The Eyrie is a place supposedly made for the grand views and considered the crown of the Vale. Lysa could only notice the tension and speculation, cutting into her skin as deeply as the wind from the Moon Door.

 

So she watched her son take his first, hesitant beats of his wings, Craft and feathers holding him aloft for a few dizzying moments, heart in her throat…

 

It only took a few tries before he manages to stay aloft, and Lysa counts that as a triumph.

 

~

Something was terribly wrong, even if no one would talk to the half-mad Queen who sits in the shadows a half-step behind the Falcon’s Seat.

 

Lysa could never sure when it began, to be honest- her mind has been too full of fears and shadows, circling protectively around Robin as much as she can. (Jon liked to say she was smothering him, spoiling him, but she cannot trust Harry Hardying, not when he smirks whenever someone slips and calls him Harry the Heir. The only good things she had to say about him is that his head isn’t quite as thick as Jon’s could be, and that he has yet to break a witch. For a woman raised on tales of courage and cleverness, it is hardly a ringing endorsement.)

 

Perhaps it is the lingering resentment around Black Widows, who can spin visions, illusions, and prophecies with their gifts. The small poison sac under their ring fingers has always been cause for a mild worry, but Uncle Brynden furrowed his brow when he hears Lord Templeton and Lord Lynderly discuss a young Black Widow who sought sanctuary in the court.

 

“Well, she’s a sturdy little thing, and clever enough, for all her rough manners…” Symond Templeton mused, the Knight of Ninestars sounding unconvinced. The problem with him, she mused, was that he was terribly fond of seeming like he was making a decision, while in reality he was merely doing his best to avoid confrontation.

 

“Aye, an illusion made with sweet words, no doubt,” Jon Lynderly snorted. “We shouldn’t trust a word out of her mouth. If Lord Arryn is feeling merciful, she’ll be sent to the Silent Sisters.”

 

She looked at Uncle Brynden, scowling and about to have words with the men. Which, as entertaining as that would have been, would run counter to her purposes.

 

Cat could have the girl- Black Widows were not as feared in the North, if she remembered right, though Cat would possibly grouse about not sending her a Healer, instead.

 

For their mother’s sake, though, Cat would take the girl in.

 

Mya was stubborn, and she loathed the thought of leaving the Vale. Lysa understands that, the fear of leaving everything you have ever known.

 

But she sees Baratheon blue eyes, and straight dark hair, and the girl is taller than Lysa by a good deal.

 

“You will be forced to leave, by Lynderly and my husband,” Lysa said. “The maesters say that you hid your abilities, that trusting you with the Vale’s food is a gamble with all of our lives. They will call for you to be sent to the Silent Sisters.”

 

Mya blinked. “But Mychel will tell them…”

“Mychel Redfort? His father was the one who brought this to the lords’ attention,” Lysa said, knowing it would cut deeply, but not having the time. “Mychel did mean to marry you, I believe, but…” Young men are thoughtless, reckless creatures, and if the girl had told him, he probably tried to talk his father around. It was, if not openly stated, an open secret that Mya was Robert Baratheon’s daughter. He’d probably hoped that his three older brothers, dark jewels and Baratheon blood- and a drop of Targaryen blood- would prevail over her bastard status and caste.

 

Horton Redfort was not a reasonable person, however, and wanted status.

 

Mya looked devastated, and Lysa took a crumb of a story that she had heard from Royce. “My sister is married to a man who knew you when you were an infant- a friend of your father. She told me, once, that your father’s wife refused to allow you in Storm’s End, and he left you at the Gates of the Moon to save your life. Lord Eddard would be pleased to see you again, I think- my sister claims he has a soft spot for bastards.”

 

It had puzzled the both of them, before Cat had bemusedly suggested that it was due to the different marriage customs in the North, and admitted that it would not affect her personally. (And Eddard Stark was honorable enough not to stray from his lady and Queen’s bed.) They were from the Riverlands, where such a viewpoint was perilous- after all, a multitude of the Great Bastards had come from the Riverlands, and they had suffered horribly in wars for succession. After all, there was no law against murder among the Blood, and bastards could win by dint of ending the competition..

 

“How do you want me to leave, m’lady?” Mya Stone looked lost, and Lysa hoped that she would find some comfort in the North.

 

~.

 

She could not trust her husband to do anything properly, it seemed.

 

He refused to allow Petyr into her Court, and Uncle Brynden actually agrees with him, for reasons she cannot fathom.

 

(Surely no one but Father knows that Petyr is the father of her murdered babe. Besides that, Petyr is clever, and burned with the thirst to prove himself. He was humiliated by her father, by Lysa too, she realized, in her eagerness and willingness to hope that she was in a song.)

 

Then Yohn Royce started to worry for his son. Waymar was not the best of his sons- there is Robar, who loves tourneys, and Andar, who dotes on his silly sister, the one set to marry a morose Mychel Redfort. Waymar left for the Wall, half in a huff, perhaps a year before, and had sent what had to be wildly exaggerated stories of his time among the black brothers.

 

Waymar had been a man hungry for glory, for recognition, and tended to seek them by chasing material goods and commands. He was, in short, the sort of man who could be used, and she would have regretted losing him, except he was so very tiresome.

 

The letter with the black seal- they all knew what it meant, that Yohn Royce at least had the dubious comfort of knowing his son had not died a deserter.

 

Lysa made allowances for his grief, because grief made him somber and quiet, though he did lash out the once- one of the younger members of her circle, a Warlord with nothing to distinguish him but his family name. The boy had said something foolish, a slight on the Watch and those who swore an oath of their own will.

 

There had been a lash of power, the boy had fallen, living, but with broken ribs.

 

The rest of the Court had watched Lysa, watched Jon, waiting for a response.

 

Lysa sighed. “It isn’t as if he wasn’t baiting him,” she pointed out, knowing it would go over her husband’s head.

 

Jon had overridden her, of course, and sent Royce away.

 

Jon had died a week later, and Lysa, hearing the news, had blinked.

 

Shouldn’t she feel… something? Sadness, grief, the urge to turn cartwheels?

 

It had been too long, she suspected, and she had nothing left to give Jon.

 

She put on her mourning clothes, and settled into the task at hand- ruling the Vale in her son’s name. Ensuring that Sweetrobin lived, became old enough to make the Offering and achieve his adult strength, married.

 

It would be a long, hard fight, and she needed to figure out how to keep the lords at bay.

 

She’d need to recall Royce, she decided, and write to Cat, seeing what could be done there.

 

After that, she would have to look into those rumors brewing, north and south.

 

What else, what else…


There would always be a new problem arising.