“ by dornish law the iron throne is hers; she was made to be queen ”
She hears the whispers around Sunspear, around dark corners lit only by the warm flicker of fire, or by the golden sunlight streaming through the slatted blinds, or through the vines and petals in the flower garden, walking with her arm linked with Trystane, pretending not to hear. Oberyn Martell’s body was returned not even two weeks ago, and whenever there is a knock at her bed chamber door Myrcella has to suck in a steadying breath before she gives her ascent for the person to enter, wondering if one day a knock will signal a lonely boat back to the wheel of King’s Landing.
She spends the warm days sewing in the garden while she watches the Sand Snakes spar, or walking through the flower gardens with Trystane or taking a ride along the beach with him. She breaks her fast with Ellaria and she laughs so hard her cheeks hurt, and she is so unbelievably happy, breathless with golden wisps of hair escaping her braids. And she waits in agony for Prince Doran to call for her and send her back to King’s Landing.
Instead, when Ellaria says she is being called for, Prince Doran watches her curtsey, tears brimming in her eyes and then says, “Princess Myrcella, do you like Dorne?” and the question shocks her, momentarily.
“Of course, my lord.” She replies, surprise coating her tongue.
Prince Doran shifts in his seat. “Do you love my son?” He asks and out of the corner of her eye she spies Trystane, standing by the window, watching carefully.
She can’t help but smile. “Of course, my lord.” She says, clasping her hands in front of her. “With all my heart.”
“I suppose you’ve heard of the death of Oberyn Martell, Princess Myrcella.” Prince Doran continues, steepling his fingers and Myrcella’s face falls, bowing her head in respect. “He died championing for your uncle, The Imp, in a fight against your mother.”
Myrcella bows her head further, offering him a sympathetic look. “I have, I am sorry for your loss, Prince Doran.”
He waves her off with a smile that strains. “I am sure you also know of the death of your siblings, Kings Joffrey and Tommen.” He continues and Myrcella nods, hands folded in front of her. “In any case, that makes you the oldest living child of the Baratheon line. Princess Myrcella, do you understand what that means?”
Myrcella pauses, eyes darting between Ellaria, Prince Doran and Trystane, and then she looks back and carefully wets her lips. “I’m afraid I do not, my lord.”
Prince Doran settles more comfortably into his chair. “You are living in Dorne now, and you have been Dornish since you came here when you were a little girl, and you are now almost a woman grown. By Dornish law, any woman has the same right of heir as her brother.” Myrcella looks at him, eyes wide and heart thudding in her chest. “I consider you a daughter to me, you will be a good wife to my son and you will be a wonderful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.”
Her heart stops. “I…” She begins, her voice cracking. “I don’t believe I understand…”
Ellaria steps forward, crossing the room to take Myrcella’s hands in her own and offer her a soft smile. “My sweetling, Oberyn’s death was not a mere accident, and your mother killed him. She is barely hanging on to her throne with Margaery Tyrell in her court as pure as a Septa, and you are her and Robert Baratheon’s oldest living child.” She says and Myrcella’s heart strings tug, the lie like venom on her tongue. “The Iron Throne is yours, sweetling. Once you and Trystane marry you will be as Dornish as the women born here, and that throne is yours by law and I swear it to you that I and my daughters will do anything to protect you.”
Myrcella’s heart catches in her throat at the emotion of it all, a hand leaving Ellaria’s to clutch at her collar. “You… want me to be queen?” She asks, tasting the words on her tongue.
Ellaria cups her face gently and gives her a smile. “Sweetling, you were made to be queen.” She says and Myrcella tears up, a smile on her lips. “We will prepare you for it, do not worry.”
* * *
And then Uncle Jaime comes.
He is older, silver hairs hidden amongst the head of shorn-close gold, he is less broad in the shoulders than she remembers, his stubble more prominent, and more obviously his right hand is now brilliant gold. That is the most shocking thing to her. He was always Ser Jaime Lannister, Kingslayer, the man who had never been in fell in battle, his armour never dented.
He has changed, though, she supposes so has she.
He wants her to come back to her mother, to King’s Landing and she wants to refuse, every cell in her body screaming at her to push him away and kick and cry and make him see that it was wrong. That she was heading into a pit of vipers to go back. But instead she takes his flesh hand and leads him to Prince Doran, Trystane’s fingers interlocked with her other hand.
As she had hoped, he understands, his shoulders slumped as she beacons her forward and holds her close to him for just a moment. He then tells her he won't take her back to Cersei, but that he’ll take her and Trystane somewhere else instead if Prince Doran permits; he mentions the North, Sansa Stark who is nothing but a red blur with frighteningly blue eyes as beautiful as the trees she had spied in Winterfell’s Godswood, and Daenerys with her grown dragons, and he promises her and her intended safety away from King’s Landing.
Prince Doran agrees on the condition that she and Trystane be married before they go. He then waves her forward and she bends to hug him, thanking him for all that he has done for her, and she swears she almost sees tears in his eyes.
That very evening, under the stars and the eyes of the Seven, her uncle and Prince Doran and Ellaria, she takes Trystane’s cloak upon her shoulders and they share a kiss as sweet as frozen berries. Under the cover of night, Myrcella Baratheon becomes Myrcella Martell, and she leaves her home for somewhere colder.
* * *
Her mother is delivered ashes in a pretty gold box, and she feels more relieved than upset.
Her father returns to her mother, and as she stands watching the boat disappear over the horizon she shivers and tucks her cloak closer around her. Trystane circles an arm around her waist and pulls her close to his body, eyes fixed on the horizon.
Tears bead in her eyes. “Trystane?” She asks.
“Yes?” He replies.
“I want to go home.”
Warm lips press against her forehead and she swallows down a sob, his voice a soft murmur against her skin. “As do I, my sweet. As do I.”
* * *
She kneels to Daenerys Targaryen after she bends to allow her Uncle Tyrion to take her in his arms and smooth her hair softly, and she is as pretty as she is terrifying; unsure if the expression she studies her with is one of anger or one of contemplation.
“You are Cersei Lannister’s last living child.” Daenerys says, and Myrcella knows it isn’t a question.
She answers anyway, “Yes, your grace.”
“I won’t harm you,” Daenerys tells her, and in the moment she turns to study the view behind her Myrcella lets out the baited breath she had been holding, and Trystane squeezes her hand. “You have proven your loyalty, and should you not betray it, I’m sure we will become great friends. The Martells have always been kind and given me help when I should need it.”
Trystane nods his head, offering her a half-smile. “It’s a pleasure to aid you, your grace.”
Daenerys turns back to them, her hands folded in front of her. “Lady Martell, your uncle has requested I take you on as my companion, is that something you would like?” She asks and Myrcella’s heart catches in her throat.
“I…” She begins and then she tops for a moment, gathering herself. “Would it please you, your grace?”
Daenerys laughs then, a smile curling at her lips and it is the happiest that she has seen her. “You’re a wonderful woman, Lady Martell, it would please me greatly.” She says. “I can give you counsel, and in exchange I would like to hear of your time in Dorne and King’s Landing.”
It feels like selling herself when she smiles and says, “If it should please you, your grace, I would be happy to do so.”
Her eyes catch Tyrion’s and he is looking back at her with an expression she can’t quite read.
* * *
“Wouldn’t it be much easier just to kill her?” A voice comes.
There is a brush of fabric against stone. “No. It will be much more useful to get her on the throne.” Ellaria’s voice comes, and then there is a small sigh. “Though with Daenerys…”
“We could always kill her too.”
The clattering of metal bracelets. “Don’t speak in that way again, do you want to lose your head? We won't be killing anyone.” Footsteps. “We need to focus on Princess Myrcella, and getting her on the throne.”
“Not if you’re sneaky enough.”
Myrcella slips into the library as they pass her.
* * *
Months later, when she is up North and Sansa’s companion instead of Daenerys’, she realises that the look she saw was the same one on Sansa’s face when she was forced to give up Lady. Resignation, the guilt dripping from every pore, the faint realisation of having done something that would have gotten someone hurt.
The realisation of having practically given the very weaknesses of her mother to Daenerys, of being used to win the Game by both Ellaria and Daenerys, and Myrcella drinks another cup of wine and tries to forget about it.