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"What Fire Joins"

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It had been the easiest childbirth Cersei ever had, and she knew it was because Melisandre was by her side, singing to her softly to soothe her pain. Perhaps Melisandre had secretly given her a potion beforehand to lessen the pain; Cersei did not know, and she did not care. She was just relieved that her baby girl was alive and safe as Melisandre brought the infant to her to hold for the first time. As Cersei looked into the infant’s green eyes, the hip-length blonde hair Melisandre had restored to her through magic lying damp against her pillow, tears of happiness rolled down her face. Fuck prophecy, Maggy the Frog was wrong. I have a child, I have a lover and partner, I am the queen, and I am happy . Lying in her grand bed with Melisandre sitting beside the bed, stroking her arm, Cersei grasped the infant to her breast, which the child began to suck. This child had been Cersei’s greatest hope for the future, and now she was here. She will be good; she will not be like me. The people will fear her but also love her. She will be good and bright like Myrcella but she will live. She will live. With my Lady by my side, she will live. She continued to cry tears of joy as she sat upright naked in bed, Melisandre continuing to stroke her arm with her long fingers.

She felt Melisandre’s gaze hit her eyes, and she returned that gaze, smiling, and said, “I know you were reluctant to discuss this in case something went wrong on the birthing bed, but I wanted to know if you had thought of any names.” Cersei shook her head. “I was too busy just hoping she would come to think of a name. But I know I must do so quickly for a royal announcement.” Melisandre gave Cersei one of her mysterious smiles, and the ruby that Qyburn had permanently affixed to her neck glowed. “I had one in mind. I know she is your child, but I had an idea.” Cersei used the hand that was not holding the infant to her breast to take her lover’s hand. “She is my child, but you are my Lady. She is here because of the light you brought me. You will be the parent her father” she had not thought of Jaime for so long since he had left King’s Landing and Melisandre had arrived “could never be. She is our child. Tell me your idea.” “Well,” Melisandre looked at the child and smiled, “I knew she would be a girl. I always knew it. And I know how important continuing the Lannister legacy is to you. But I thought about the past of that legacy too. And she looks so much like you, who looks so much like another. And you will be there for her for her whole upbringing like the other woman could not be there for yours…” “ Joanna ” Cersei whispered the name of her lady mother, the name she thought of every day, the name of the woman who had died during her childhood but who she wished more than anything she could talk to, laugh with, consult with, just be with, ever since. Melisandre nodded, a smile forming on her lips. “Oh, yes!” Cersei smiled, “Yes, she must be the Princess Joanna!”

Still holding the infant to her breast, she leaned towards the beautiful woman sitting alongside her bed and kissed her passionately. When they separated, Cersei placed the princess into Melisandre’s arms. “The Princess of Light,”  Melisandre said “she will keep the darkness at bay and bring peace and happiness to Westeros and cleanse us of our sins. For the night is dark and full of terrors…” “But the fire burns them all away” Cersei added. She did not consider herself a devout follower of R’hllor, but after Melisandre’s magic had made her hair, her beautiful golden crown, grow back, and after Melisandre had used the magic R’hllor gave her to help defeat Cersei’s enemies, Cersei felt His presence. She saw it in her Lady’s red eyes, and felt it in the fire that rushed through her body when Melisandre made love to her. As she held the Princess to her breast, she beckoned to Melisandre. “Come, my love, come join me in this bed.” Melisandre took off her clothes, so that they would not be dampened by the sweat in the bed, and sat alongside Cersei. When Princess Joanna was finished feeding, Cersei placed her in Melisandre’s arms. The infant’s green eyes widened, and she smiled. She had not yet cried at all, and now she seemed to glow. “A strong girl, a powerful girl, our girl,” Cersei told Melisandre, and they kissed.

Eighteen months later

Cersei watched as Melisandre sat next to the Princess in the study, singing to her in High Valeryian. It was important that she begin learning languages early so that she would retain them, and the Princess absorbed her lessons best when they were sung to her. Sitting at the back of the study, Cersei looked on approvingly. The Princess Joanna’s hair tumbled in golden curls around her face, and dressed in Lannister red and gold, she was the perfect little princess. As the lesson finished, Joanna reached up to Melisandre to give her a kiss, and Melisandre took her into her arms, nuzzling her nose and kissing her on the cheek while rocking her back and forth in her arms, Joanna laughing in happiness. Melisandre put Joanna back on the floor to play with her, kneeling alongside the Princess, and Cersei felt as though her heart might explode. The words came to her as though summoned supernaturally:

“Melisandre, will you marry me?”

Melisandre looked at her with an eerily knowing smile. She looked back at the Princess and held her hand, squeezing it, and drawing her in closer for a hug. Cersei continued to stand at the back of the study as Melisandre alternated between playing with Joanna and looking Cersei in the eyes playfully. The silence was deafening. After a few more moments of silence, Cersei could bear no more. She stormed up to Melisandre, her long blonde hair streaming behind her. “ Is that a no? What are you waiting for? ” she shouted. Melisandre calmly released her hand from Joanna’s, who stood next to them watching in interest, and stood up to face Cersei and looked her directly in the eyes. She took Cersei’s hands into her own, and her skin was hot to the touch. “Cersei, will you marry me ?” she asked, and squeezed her hands. “Of course! That’s why I asked you!” They both started laughing and fell onto the floor, the billowing fabrics of their red dresses intertwining as Cersei lay on the floor and Melisandre kissed her while grabbing the back of her hair. Cersei pushed Melisandre’s piles of red hair to the side and bit her ear, which made Melisandre sigh. Lying atop Cersei, Melisandre whispered, “perhaps we should call a handmaiden to look after Joanna so we can have some time to ourselves?”

Cersei sat up, her golden hair tousled and falling around her body. “Bernadette!” she cried out. Her most faithful handmaiden appeared, nonplussed by the sight of the two women on the floor together—all of Westeros was accustomed to their unusual arrangement by now. “Please take the Princess Joanna to her chambers. The Lady Melisandre and I need some time to...arrange plans for an important event” she said, smirking at the last part. The Princess smiled and touched Cersei’s shoulder. “I love you, Mommy,” she said, giving her a kiss on the cheek, “and I love you, Melly” kissing Melisandre’s cheek. The two women gave their daughter a hug before she and Bernadette left the room and left them alone together to make love on the floor, as Cersei began to raise her skirts.

One Month Later

Making the wedding arrangements had been less challenging than expected. The main obstacle was how the rites should be performed. “You and I have different ways,” Melisandre reminded Cersei, while braiding her hair naked in bed together. “I cannot be wed in the name of false gods.” “And you shall not be,” Cersei replied, giving Melisandre’s breast a tight squeeze. “You know I will never follow R’hllor like you—as if anyone could,” she rolled her eyes, “but He brought you to me, and we will be wed under Him, using His rites. Bu there’s no one in King’s Landing who could  perform the rites besides you.” Melisandre beamed. “Excellent, my queen. I have an old friend who can perform the rites. I’ll send a raven now before I forget.” She climbed out of bed naked, her red hair trailing her and covering her entire backside, falling nearly to the floor, as she took out a scroll and quill. After writing for a minute, she sealed the scroll. “I shall pass this on later. But right now…” she dove under the covers and put her full lips to Cersei’s sex, and eat her out so furiously that Cersei’s roar could be heard throughout the seven kingdoms.

Now, the day had come. Or really, the night. For under the Lord of Light’s wishes, weddings took place in the evening. This felt so different from Cersei’s first wedding, when she was just a girl, standing on the steps of the Sept of Baelor, her arm intertwined with her father’s as she prepared to marry that black-bearded brute, Robert Baratheon, her heart palpitating with fear. She had loved him briefly, but when he called her “Lyanna” on their wedding night, she knew their union was doomed. Now, her heart beat rapidly not with fear but with excitement as she stood near the entrance of the Dragonpit with her arm locked with the giant arm of her silent savior, Ser Gregor. She was no maid, and the two women had decided to dispose of using a maiden cloak (“What a sham; why pretend either of us are maids?” Cersei had asked as she rode atop and into Melisandre with their strap-on), but Cersei still wore white, for she felt reborn, cleansed by the red woman’s love. She could not remember the last time she had worn white—perhaps it had been on the day of her first wedding—but her gown tonight was exquisite: ivory, with bell sleeves. The interior of the sleeves were a bright gold, and as she walked, the full skirt revealed slashes of gold. Her crown sat atop her golden hair, which was left simple, since it outshone any crown. Her hair hanging in loose waves to the small of her back, hitting the top of her rear, she looked as beautiful as she had that day so many years ago when she married a man who never deserved her. And now, she finally had found someone who did.

The dragonpit was the only place they could host the royal wedding, in order to create the ditch that was needed for a wedding that followed the rules of the Lord of Light. Although its former glory was mostly in ruins, the commoners filled its seats, where years ago, some had watched dragons, eager to see the Queen and her Red Witch. Most Westerosi still believed in the Seven, but could not help but be intrigued by this unprecedented union.

Music started to play, and the audience watched as Queen Cersei strode into the center of the dragonpit on the arm of Ser Gregor from one side, the Lady Melisandre on the arm of Qyburn from the other side. Melisandre was in her usual red garb, but for the special occasion, she had piled the front of her masses of lustrous crimson hair into an elaborate braided headband, as the rest trailed behind her in the wind. Fire danced in her eyes more brightly tonight than ever before. As the two women approached the center and drew nearer, they smiled at one another. There in the center of the dragonpit was a ditch filled with fire, presided over by a mysterious man with a patch over one eye. Beric Dondarrion, a powerful follower of R’hllor who Melisandre had encountered in the Riverlands and from whom she learned about reanimating the dead, had answered her raven and accepted the duty of administering the wedding rites. Next to him, Bernadette held baby Joanna, clad in a tiny dress of red and gold, a miniature crown atop her golden curls.

When the two women stood next to one another, facing the ditch. Beric Dondarrion began to speak: “R’hllor, You are the light in our eyes, the fire in our hearts, the heat in our loins. Yours is the Sun that warms our days, yours the stars that guard is in the dark of night. The night is dark and full of terrors. Alone we are born and alone we die, but as we walk through the black vale we draw strength from one another, and from you, our Lord.  Two come forth today to join their lives, so they may face this world's darkness together. Fill their hearts with fire, my Lord, so they may walk your shining path hand-in-hand forever”

He turned to Cersei. “Who comes to be wed, and who brings this woman to be wed?”

“I am Queen Cersei of House Lannister, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms.” An awkward silence persisted as everyone looked at Ser Gregor, who could not speak. Cersei spoke for him. “Ser Gregor Clegane, a member of the Queensguard, brings me to be wed”

Beric continues  “Who comes to be wed, and who woman to be wed?”

Melisandre’s deep, accented voice rang out over the dragonpit. “I am Lady Melisandre of Asshai.” Qyburn gripped Melisandre’s arm, “I am Maester Qyburn, Hand of the Queen, and loyal servant to the Queen’s Lady”

“Queen Cersei of House Lannister, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, will you share your fire with Lady Melisandre and warm her when the night is dark and full of terrors?”

Cersei’s green eyes stared into Melisandre’s as they faced one another, and she gave one of her smirk-smiles. “I will.”

“Lady Melisandre, will you share your fire with Queen Cersei and warm her when the night is dark and full of terrors?”

“Until her blood is boiling,” Melisandre replied, with a sly smile.

“Then come to me and be as one.” Melisandre took Cersei’s hand and side by side, and squeezing one another’s hands, they lept the ditch, without either of their long skirts or sleeves catching on fire, and the crowd cheered.

Beric’s voice boomed through the vast space: “Two went into the flames, one emerges. What fire joins, none may put asunder.” Qyburn gave Cersei the final touch: the robe that her father Tywin Lannister had put upon the shoulders of her mother Joanna when they wed. Cersei took the robe from him and Melisandre turned her back towards her. Cersei placed the red and gold robe, with the large embroidered sigil of the Lannister lion, onto Melisandre’s shoulders. This was the conclusion of the wedding rites, and the two women drew one another in for a passionate kiss. Princess Joanna scurried over to them and hugged Cersei’s legs, and Cersei reached down to stroke her daughter’s hair, smiling the most genuine smile she’d possibly ever had on her face.

The crowd stirred. Cries of, “and the wedding feast?” rang throughout the dragonpit. Cersei and Melisandre faced the crowd through the flame, but only could see one another. Joanna stumbled over to hug Melisandre’s legs, and Melisandre scooped her up and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “There shall be no official wedding feast for the court,” Cersei announced, and the crowd grumbled. There was no need for an official feast with anyone but one another; when Melisandre put Joanna down to return to Bernadette, the Queen and her Lady would gorge themselves on one other’s bodies in their chambers, eating one another out with the heat of the flames from the ditch climaxing within them. For the night was dark, and would be full of pleasures.