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A Promise

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A grey sky spread over King’s Landing, fat droplets of rain pouring from the sky. King’s Landing was as grand as she had imagined it, but it smelled fouler than a pigsty.

Not even the Red Keep with its bright red walls and the Sept the Baelor with its crystal towers were able over make her forget the foul smell.

Lyanna was used to fresh snowfall,  the smell of pines and the weirwoods. Not this city full of stone and blood.

At least the city is still whole, she thought and shuddered when she thought of the battle that had decided the war in favor of the Targaryen loyalists and had sealed Robert Baratheon’s fate. The Battle of the Bells, it was called, a battle Jon Connington, now Hand of the King, had won by giving half of the city to the flames.

The Bloody Hand, they had called him now.

Lyanna had wept bitter tears when she had heard about it. She had wanted to leave, but she had been heavy with child and Ser Arthur Dayne had been able to convince her to stay. And after she had finally given birth, she had been forced to keep to bed for several more weeks, before she was strong enough to travel to King’s Landing. By then, the Rebellion had been over and Storm’s End had fallen into Mace Tyrell’s hands.

Your brother has been captured, Rhaegar had informed her through a raven. He is wounded, but alive.

Lyanna had been relieved to hear it, though she dreaded the prospect of speaking to her brother. Brandon’s and her father’s death were another matter that weighed heavily on her mind and had given her many  a sleepless night.

I shall explain everything, she thought and took a glance at the babe in her arms.

She had birthed him two moons ago, but he was rather small. He had been born a moon too early, but his appetite was strong and his soft brown hair reminded her of Benjen.

Benjen she had missed the most.

“He is always sleeping,” Wylla, her nursemaid, remarked. She had the Dornish looks, dark hair and sun-kissed skin, but her eyes were lighter, a clear blue color. She was a few years older than Lyanna and had already birthed three babes. “The world could fall apart and he wouldn’t wake.”

Lyanna chuckled and pulled her babe tighter to her chest. In that moment he opened his dark eyes, his father’s eyes.

Rhaegar she didn’t want to think about. They had a terrible fight, before his departure to King’s Landing.

She had wanted to leave, but he had forbidden it, claiming that Robert would not care to hear her explanations.

He was probably right about that, but that didn’t ease her guilt.

“I think he is hungry,” Lyanna said and handed her the babe to Wylla.

Wylla smiled and bared her breast, allowing him to suckle as much as he pleased.

Lyanna watched him with a sad smile, while holding unto the back of the cart she had been placed in.

Riding was out of the question, though she couldn’t help but to give Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent and Ser Gerold jealous looks.

Ser Gerold, a tall and bulky man, rode in front of the cart. Right beside him, rode Ser Arthur Dayne and behind them was Ser Oswell Whent.

“Ah, it’s good to be back!” Arthur exclaimed, his violet eyes falling upon Gerold Hightower. “I missed the smell of shit and sweat.”

Gerold Hightower rolled his eyes while Arthur was gracing Lyanna with an amused smile.

He wanted to cheer her up.

“Lift your spirits, my Lady. The babe is well and the war is over. And Rhaegar will pardon your brother.”

Lyanna had no doubt about that, but that didn’t change the sadness she felt.

Yet, she didn’t want to insult Ser Arthur.

“All shall be well,” Lyanna agreed. “But I doubt Ned will see it the same way.”

“Your brother shouldn’t have supported Robert Baratheon in his rebellion,” Ser Arthur said. “He might have had his reasons, but treason is treason, no matter the reason.”

“I suppose so,” Lyanna thought and realized that Ser Gerold was looking at her, his dark eyes boring into hers. Being blunt worked the best with a man like him. So much Lyanna had seen. “What is on your mind, Ser Gerold?”

“We are to bring you to Maegor’s Keep,” he explained. “Not everything is as peaceful as Arthur likes to pretend. We should be careful.”

“Please do not fret,” Lyanna assured Ser Gerold and pointed at the hood of her cloak. “I shan’t be a burden to you.”

“My thanks, my Lady,” he replied and continued to lead the way along the cobbled road.

More and more houses they passed, some as high as the grey towers of Winterfell and not taller than a hovel. The amount of people was just as startling.

Some watched them with interest, but most went about their daily business without paying them much attention.

Only a handful of children followed after them, their feet dirty and their clothes tattered.

Arthur waved back at them, Ser Oswell ignored them and Ser Gerold glowered at them until the crowd of children had finally dispersed.

“That is why I joined the Kingsguard,” Gerold remarked. “No children.”

Wylla chuckled and Lyanna took in the road ahead.

As they continued their travel, the streets grew narrower and Gerold had to ask the crowd to make space for them.

Next, they made their way up Aegon’s Hill. Here the street was much better. No holes and bumps littered the street and no onlookers pestered them.

The portcullis of the keep were already lowered when they arrived, men in golden cloaks guarding the walls.

A tall man greeted Ser Gerold and the other members of the Kingsguard and brought with him a handful of able hands, mostly squires and stable hands, who took hold of their horses.

“Good to see you alive, Stokeworth,” Ser Gerold remarked sarcastically as ever. “I heard  King Aerys’ funeral was a rather somber event.

Stokeworth gave a curt nod. “Very sad, indeed.”

Lyanna didn’t know what to make of their strange exchange. She only knew that the King was dead, but not what had happened to him.

Rhaegar….Did you finally kill him?

“Well, the King expects us,” Ser Gerold explained and waved his hand at Lyanna and Wylla, who were about to climb out of the cart. “Where can we find him?”

Stokeworth gave her a curious look, but said nothing.

“The King was indeed expecting your arrival. The rooms have been prepared.”

“I shall escort Lady Lyanna,” Arthur offered warmly. “Where is his Grace?”

“Maegor’s Keep,” Stokeworth replied. “The King’s Chambers.”

Arthur bowed his head and led the way, Lyanna following after him with her babe in her arms and Wylla beside her.

They entered through a backdoor, wrought in iron. The Great Hall loomed dark and foreboding, but Ser Arthur pulled her up a staircase.

The chamber that followed was narrow and decorated with tapestries in black and red, dragons and other fearsome creatures.

The guards opened the last door, allowing them entrance into a long corridor with black walls.

More and more dragons swirled along the walls, before they entered a large chamber where she found three men seated at a table.

There was Rhaegar, a red-haired man who she recognized as Jon Connington and another man with brown hair, who had his back turned to her. When he turned around she recognized him as Ser Richard. The Knight of Skulls and Kisses. He had assisted Rhaegar in saving her from King Aerys’ henchmen.

When Rhaegar had noticed her presence, he dismissed them quickly. Ser Richard flashed her a smile, but Lord Connington looked very unhappy.

A ghost of a smile washed over Rhaegar’s lips, but there was something cold and broken about him.

“Thank you, Arthur,” he said. “Please, escort Lady Wylla to her chambers.”

Arthur did as he was asked and left in company of Wylla, who flashed Lyanna a concerning look, probably because she was still cradling her babe in her arms.

Once, Arthur was gone, Rhaegar’s gaze softened, his dark eyes darting to their son.

“He is small, but strong,” he said and touched the sleeping babe’s head. Then, he lifted his hand to touch her cheek. “I was worried to leave you in that tower. It was good that Arthur brought you to Starfall.”

“He was born a bit too early,” was all Lyanna managed to say. “There was much blood, but I suppose that is normal.”

Rhaegar dropped his hand, when he noticed her lack of response.

“Have you chosen a name?”

“He is a Targaryen Prince,” Lyanna replied. “It is for you to choose his name.”

“Aemon then,” he said and smiled when their babe wrinkled his nose. “He looks like an Aemon.”

“What about your other son?” Lyanna asked, coming straight to the point. “Aegon. Is he here?”

“He is at Dragonstone with his mother and sister. My mother is also there to keep them company. My father’s death rattled her,” Rhaegar explained and averted her gaze. “I shall send you there when all is said and done. Elia shall be Queen as promised and reside here at King’s Landing.  You shall have a home at Dragonstone. Would that please you?”

“It would please me to see my brother,” Lyanna replied as softly as possible, but couldn’t help but to show her displeasure. “You did not lock him in the Black Cells, did you?”

“He is under house arrest,” Rhaegar assured her. He looked exhausted, his cheeks hollow and pale. “I told him the truth, but he wouldn’t listen.”

Lyanna chuckled dryly. “That doesn’t surprise me. Ned won’t believe anyone, but me and even then he might cling to the lies he heard. Lies you helped to grow by hiding away in that tower.”

Then, she exhaled deeply and sat down. Her body was still recovering from the birth and was often exhausted.

“What about Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully? What about Robert’s brothers?”

“Jon Arryn is hiding in the Eyrie and Lord Hoster was captured. I shall take his head for this. He had no reason to fight. Jon Arryn shall be pardoned. He was only acting in the interest of his wards. I cannot fault him for that. As for the Baratheons. Stannis was captured and shall be pardoned as well. Renly shall be a hostage of the crown to keep his brother loyal.”

Lyanna’s guilt was eased to hear this, but it was not enough to wash away the sour taste in her mouth.

“I shall speak to my brother. He will see reason when I tell him the whole truth. Ned will hate me, but he won’t harm his own blood, let alone his nephew.”

Rhaegar nodded his head and fell to his knees, covering her hands with his.

“I hope so. I do not wish to harm him. I never did, you know that.”

Lyanna nodded her head and trembled. She needed to know if Brandon and her father had been avenged.

It was the only way she could forgive him.

“Did you do it? Did you kill him?”

Rhaegar’s eyes widened and a grimace of pain washed over his face.

“I killed him,” he said, his lips trembling as he buried his face in his hands. “I killed him.”

Lyanna felt no sadness over Aerys’ death. He had not only sent men to defile her, but had also mistreated her. He had killed her father and brother.

He can burn in the Seven Hells.

Yet, when she saw Rhaegar’s tears, her heart softened.

“You did the right thing. Fuck those, who call you a Kingslayer. He was a monster and needed to die.”

“He was not always a monster,” Rhaegar replied and tightened his grip on her hands. “He gave me my first harp. He loved me once. The crown made him into person he was. The burden was too much for him.”

“Do not defend him,” Lyanna couldn’t help but to reply, but regretted her decision when her babe stirred from his slumber. She instantly softened her voice. “He does not deserve your love.”

“He is gone now,” Rhaegar replied and watched as she was rocking their sons. “I do not want to speak about him anymore. Let us speak about the future. Dragonstone….,” he began, but Lyanna cut him off.

“I shall go there, when I have spoken to my brother. Then, your Queen can return to King’s Landing without having to look at me. I know my place.”

Surprise showed on Rhaegar’s face.

“You are so cold. I thought you might refuse…,” he began, but Lyanna cut him off.

“Why would I refuse? Do you think I will be welcome in the North? I can’t go back there. So much I know. Besides, I won’t have my son grow up like a bastard. He deserves better than that and I expect of you to make sure that he is treated not lesser than your other children. I do not care what your Queen and the other ladies think of me. They can call me whore for all I care, but my son will be treated well. That is all I care about.”

Rhaegar looked hurt, but smiled, nevertheless.

“He is the Prince that was Promised. I would never hurt him. I promise.”

Lyanna believed him and gave him a trembling smile. She loved him still, but she would need time to heal her wounds.

“Can you promise me another thing?”

Rhaegar nodded his head.

“Everything you want? Just say it!

“Stop calling him that. He is just our son. Prince Aemon Targaryen. That is enough of a burden to bear for a child so young.”

Rhaegar’s expression was a mixture of sadness and regret, as he touched her shoulder.

“I promise.”

Chapter Text

Ned

Ned narrowed his gaze against the bright sunlight falling through the high windows. It was a great relief to feel the sunlight on his cheeks, even if it was only through painted glass.

Two days ago, he had arrived in King’s Landing and had been put into a comfortable chamber. It was a small room, meant for highborn guests with all its luxury. There was a featherbed, he had received fresh clothing and a proper meal: venison with potatoes soaked in butter and cream.

It was the best food he had tasted in nearly a year, but he felt like a dirty traitor for consuming it.

That he had been locked up all day, only helped to increase his impatience. He was also not used being treated like a prisoner.

That’s your own fault, Ned chided himself. You should have spoken more calmly while facing the Prince…No, the King.

It felt almost a lifetime ago, since the Prince had attempted to speak to him after his capture by the hands of Lord Randyll Tarly.

What the King had revealed to him, had shaken Ned’s believes, but even so he hadn’t been able to believe him. Instead he had cursed the King and had probably sealed his and Lyanna’s fate.

I shouldn’t be here,  he thought and brushed his hand over the yellow glass, watching the men in the courtyard below. I should be in Winterfell.

Winterfell was another thing he had never expected to inherit. His brother Brandon had been meant to inherit Winterfell and it was Bandon who had been meant to wed Catelyn Tully. At times, it was hard think of her as anything but the girl Brandon had been meant to marry, though Ned had wed her barely a year ago in the Sept of Riverrun.

What he thought of her he couldn’t say. She was a stranger to him and his son…he didn’t even know the boy’s name.

I ought to call him after Jon, Ned mused. Or perhaps Rickard? Or Brandon?

In truth, Jon Arryn had always been more of a father to him than Lord Rickard. The elderly lord had given him the fatherly warmth his own father had never been able to give. The death of Ned’s mother had turned his heart to ice.

Thinking of Jon Arryn made him also think of Robert. His hot-headed friend had dreamed of murdering Prince Rhaegar and King Aerys, but in the end he had found a gruesome death at the Battle of the Bells.

Ned didn’t want to think of this heinous butchery, making him realize again the futility of this war.

Perhaps it is our punishment for our attempted treachery.

Ned had only fought to keep his head, but Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully had wanted to give Robert a crown. Ned had only desired King Aerys’ head and had wanted to save his sister, but if what the King had told him was true it was another lie.

No, it can’t be true. The King must be lying.

His confused thoughts dispersed into nothingness when he heard the groan of the door and noticed the entrance of a young girl, a very familiar girl, his sister.

His sister spoke no word, before she threw herself into his arms.  Ned had been so startled that he had nearly stumbled backwards.

Lyanna lifted her head, her brown hair in disarray and her grey eyes wet with tears.

Ned couldn’t believe it. Lyanna was alive and well.

“Lyanna,” he said, his voice strained as he touched her cold cheek. “You are alive?”

“What Rhaegar told you is the truth,” she replied an let go of him, taking a step backwards. There was an unknown softness in her long face. “It was all a misunderstanding.”

Ned’s mind started to circle madly. He recalled all too well what the King had told him. That he had saved his sister from his father’s men and that he had wed her beneath the weirwood tree.

“You were the Knight of the Laughing Tree?” Ned asked. It was the first thought that had entered his mind. “Gods, be good…and Aerys’ men….they…,” he stuttered, but Lyanna silenced him with a sharp  look.

“Aye,” she confirmed, but left the rest unspoken. She trembled visibly, her fist clenched. “But that is in the past. What is important is that I am wed to Rhaegar and that I have born his child…a son…Prince Aemon Targaryen.”

Ned backed away, trying to take in this piece of information. The King had only told him that he had wed her, not that Lyanna had a child from him.

“Are you sure it is his? After…” he began, but Lyanna cut him off with an angry glare.

“Of course he is …Gods, Ned. I drank a load of moon tea before the wedding. I also had may moonblood a moon later. There is no doubt.”

Ned lifted hands to his face and sat down in the nearby chair. He felt dizzy.

He took a moment to exhale deeply, before lifting his head to search his sister’s face.

“Still, you could have sent a raven…Why?” he asked accusingly. “Why not?”

Lyanna’s gaze fell and she knelt down before him. “And what use would that have been? Do you think Robert, Brandon and father would have believed Rhaegar if he came forward and it was discovered I was no longer a maid? No, they would have accused him of the very thing Robert was spreading around…that he abducted and defiled me. And then there was Aerys…Rhaegar was not sure what the King would do to him for thwarting his plans. Thus, we decided to take shelter in Starfall until the situation calmed down. Ned, I didn’t think Brandon would do this…I never expected…I didn’t want him to die, “ she trailed off.

Ned believed her, but the resentment was still there burning inside his chest.

“Robert died for you too,” Ned accused her. “He died to save your honor.”

Lyanna paled visibly and clenched her teeth, her grey eyes burning with anger.

“My honor? Really, Ned?” she asked in disbelief. “Well, I think he was just trying to keep his head, like you.”

“He loved you,” Ned insisted and buried his face between his hands. “More than this Prince, who made you his whore.”

Lyanna grew very still, her grey eyes narrowed. She looked like a wolf watching her prey.

“Well, I like being the Prince’s whore more than I liked Robert Baratheon’s stinking breath or his filthy hands brushing beneath my skirt.  At least, Rhaegar gave me a choice.”

Ned sighed deeply and lifted his head again. He had never heard her speak with so much hatred, but then he had also stoked the fires by giving her such an unseemly title.

He had regretted his words the moment they had left his mouth. He had spoken in anger, spurred on by his grief.

“Did you really hate him that much? Why did you not tell me?”

“I did,” she insisted fiercely. “More than once, but you never listened. And for your information, I never hated him. I just didn’t want to wed him. Is that so hard to understand? You loved him, I know that and if you think I wanted him to die as he died you are truly fool, Ned.”

“Even so, the old gods mean noshing in the South. Such a marriage has no legitimacy and your child…,” he began, but Lyanna cut him off again, grabbing his arm.

“Is Prince Aemon Targaryen. Rhaegar promised me that he would be treated equally to his other children. I care not for the crown…Elia Martell shall be Queen.”

Ned could only shake his head.

“How can you be so sure he is not just using you?”

“He isn’t using me,” Lyanna replied with unflinching honesty. “He risked his head to save me. He won’t betray me.  I know it.”

Ned exhaled deeply, his head pounding painfully.

“Very well,” he sighed. “What now? What will happen to me?”

Lyanna’s gaze softened. “Rhaegar wants to pardon you in exchange for your vows of loyalty. He intends to offer the same courtesy to Jon Arryn and Stannis Baratheon. In exchange for hostages, but it could be much worse. Please, Ned. Be reasonable. Winterfell needs you.”

Ned had expected worse conditions and he longed to go home.

Still, he felt like a traitor as he nodded his head in agreement.

“I shall bend the knee,” he promised weakly, searching his sister’s face once more. “I shall bend the knee.”

Lyanna squeezed is hand. She looked utterly relieved.

Yet, Ned destroyed that all with his next question.

“What of Hoster Tully?”

Lyanna’s silence told him everything he needed to know.

Chapter Text

Rhaella

Rhaella watched as her grandson raced through the green grass, Viserys and Lady Lyanna, her son’s beloved, running after him.

Her good-daughter was the first one to catch the boy, a squealing sound spilling from his mouth  while Viserys continued to race along the muddied path towards the heart tree.

Aegon’s Garden was not particularly spacious and thus he returned moments later, seeking her gaze.

Her boy’s lilac eyes were wide with joy as he threw himself into her arms.

“Did you see?” her little boy asked. “I was much faster.”

Rhaella smiled and smoothed his hair. “Aye, I saw it. You were faster. That will serve you well in the Vale.”

Viserys’ expression soured at once.

“I won’t go,” her little boy replied flippant and rushed away towards the underwood.

Rhaella sighed and shifted her attention to her daughter seated on the grass, her nursemaid Miriam showing her the flowers that were growing a few feet away from them. Daenerys was barely a year and showed not much interest in the flowers, pulling them out rather than admiring them.

She will be a stubborn child, so much she could see. Much like Rhaegar.

Her grandson, who had inherited nothing of the Targaryen coloring beyond Rhaegar’s dark eyes. Yet, he had much of Rhaegar’s quiet and observant character. Alone that was enough to love the little boy, despite his rather questionable birth.

She had yet to make up her mind about her good-daughter, but her boy had won her heart in a matter of days.

“Lady Lyanna,” Rhaella called out to her good-daughter, who still carrying her little boy around. “I think a little bit of shade will be good for you?”

Her good-daughter had heard her and quickly joined her side, placing her little boy next down Daenerys and whispering something into his ear. He giggled and continued pulling out the flowers one after another while the nursemaid kept watch over them.

“Aemon likes the warmth,” her good-daughter replied politely, pulled up her skirt and sat down in the chair across Rhaella. They had tea and cakes, though most of them had been eaten by Viserys. “I suppose he is more of dragon than he looks like.”

“True,” Rhaella couldn’t help but to agree and took in her good-daughter’s appearance. By what she had heard of Lady Lyanna, she had expected to find a wild girl from the North, but the young woman was pretty civilized. She wore a pale chiffon dress and a bluish shawl was wrapped over her naked shoulders. She was pretty too, her face sharp and delicate and her dark hair shiny and healthy. Yet, Rhaella had seen much prettier girls. Cersei Lannister came to her mind, her first choice as a wife for her son, but a choice that hadn’t pleased Aerys. Elia, she hadn’t known very well when she had arranged the match, but she had always been fond of her mother and  Aerys had liked the idea of a Dornish match, though she had realized too late that it was just another way for him to get back at Lord Tywin. Only after the marriage had she found out that Lord Tywin had humiliated the Dornish by refusing a match between Princess Elia and his heir Jaime. Again Rhaella had been a playball of her friends and husband. The thought saddened her. “But the boy has much of Rhaegar. Perhaps one of your other children will have the Targaryen coloring.”

Rhaella read surprise on Lady Lyanna’s face.

“More children?”

“Of course,” Rhaella replied. At first, she had thought that was the very reason her son had wed the girl, but now she wasn’t so sure anymore. It was clear that Rhaegar had fallen for the girl. Thus, she had assumed there would be more children. And while It was wrong to think like that, she wanted Rhaegar to have more children. More sons to continue his line, a duty Rhaella hadn’t been able to fulfil.  Aerys was right. I was a failure. “I suppose my grandson has Daenerys, but Viserys will soon leave for the Eyrie to serve as Lord Royce’s page and it will take years before Aegon will be allowed to come here. Your boy will be lonely. It is good for a child to have younger siblings. It will teach him responsibility.”

Lady Lyanna nodded her head. “I shall speak with Rhaegar about it once he returns.”

Rhaella nodded her head and poured herself more of the cold tea. She had dismissed the servants, for she knew they would be listening to every word she was saying and she had enough of such spying after spending most of her life in King’s Landing

“You ought to get a nursemaid as well,” Rhaella offered and jerked her head at her grandson. “It is not good for him to cling to your skirt. He has to learn to be away from you or it will only be harder for him once Rhaegar calls him to King’s Landing.”

Displeasure showed on her good-daughter’s face, but she remained polite.

“Do you have a suggestion, your Grace?” Lady Lyanna asked sweetly and feigned a smile. Rhaella was pleased. That would serve her well in the future and showed her the girl in front of her had potential to be more than just her son’s bed warmer.

“Rachelle, the current Mistress of the Chambermaids raised my Rhaegar,” Rhaella replied. “I shall ask her. She can attend to him while you are tending to your own duties.”

Lady Lyanna’s delicate eyebrows rose to the top of her head.”My duties?”

Rhaella smiled and placed her cup back on the table. “Of course. You were thought how to run a household, weren’t you?”

Lady Lyanna folded her hands in front of her as she angled her head to look at Rhaella.

“I lost my Lady Mother when I was eight namedays old and I was educated by my nursemaid Old Nan. That means…Aye, I have been running Winterfell’s household since I was ten and one, though how could I was I couldn’t say.  I was always good at calculating. The only ability Maester Walys found praiseworthy about me. Well, Old Nan was never satisfied, but then she was a always a strict taskmaster.”

Rhaella was pleased to hear this. “You shall oversee the accounts and help me with my daily duties as my son tasked me to rule Dragonstone in his stead until Aegon comes of age.”

“Rhaegar told me so much,” Lady Lyanna agreed and picked a cake from the table, taking a hesitant bite. “I suppose he won’t have time to come here all too often. His duties as King must keep him occupied.”

“That is so,” Rhaella confirmed and was pleased to see Viserys emerge from the underwood, brambles and leaves sticking in his hair as he went to join Daenerys and Aemon, swinging around a wooden twig he must have found somewhere. “He is soon attending a wedding in Oldtown. Lord Stannis Baratheon is to be wed to Lynesse Hightower.”

“Hightower?” Lady Lyanna asked, her voice laced with sudden curiosity. “Isn’t that a bit much? Won’t Rhaegar’s allies be displeased if he shows so much favor to Lord Baratheon?”

“They certainly voiced their displeasure,” Rhaella told her. “But such displeasure is easily forgotten when one is rewarded with a match or a pretty title. Lord Mace Tyrell was most unhappy, but he fell silent the moment Rhaegar announced a betrothal between his son Willas and sweet Rhaenys. He even made the boy his personal squire. Now, Lord Mace is among those who wholeheartedly welcome Lord Stannis’ new position in the King’s council. Well, the fact that his wife is Lord Hightower’s direct kin should also help to keep Lord Baratheon in his place. Not that I think he would dare. Lord Stannis is very different from his brother. He knows his place. The only one who is still unhappy with the King is Lord Tywin, but that has more to do with the fact that he wasn’t offered the position he desired.”

“He wanted to be Hand of the King,” Lady Lyanna added. “Rhaegar told me about Lord Tywin’s ambitions.”

“When my husband was calling to war, Lord Tywin was hiding away like a coward. Many thought that even offering the position as Master of Coin was too much of an honor for him. And there is also his daughter, Lady Cersei. Lord Tywin was always hoping for a grand match for her, but now there is not much left for her, but leftovers.  It is a most humiliating situation for him, which is why I advised offering him the position of Master of  Coin.”

“And he refused,” Lady Lyanna replied. “Well, I suppose that is understandable. Rhaegar told me that he was once one of the most revered lords of the realm. Instead Lord Connington his being praised for his bloody butchery. Mayhaps Lord Tywin ought to wed Lady Cersei to the King’s Hand?”

Rhaella couldn’t help but to notice the hint of sarcasm in her voice.

“I think not, especially since Lord Tywin lacks an heir of his liking. Ser Jaime refused to leave the Kingsguard and his youngest son is a misshapen dwarf. Lady Cersei is the only one who can continue Lord Tywin’s line. I suppose he is going to wed her to a younger son and have the lord take the Lannister name.”

“I most humiliating situation,” Lady Lyanna repeated Rhaella’s earlier words. “I have seen her at the tourney. She seems a very proud woman.”

“Her mother was like that as well, but softer of heart. I loved her dearly, despite my husband’s desire for her.”

If Lady Lyanna was insulted it didn’t show on her face. She simply looked away and folded her hands in her lap.

“I suppose Queen Elia doesn’t like me.”

Rhaella was surprised by so much honesty. Her years in King’s Landing made it an almost novelty.

“No,” Rhaella replied. “She does not, but I doubt you ever expected that.”

Lady Lyanna nodded her head in understanding.

“I expected that.”

Chapter Text

Lyanna

His warm breath brushed over her shoulder, the sting of his bite leaving behind a pleasant pain. At times, Rhaegar literally proved a dragon and if she had taken a look she was sure she would find find teeth marks showing on her flesh; but she couldn’t move, still trembling from the aftermath of pleasure.

Rhaegar’s dark indigo were misty as he rolled unto the side, leaving her longing for his warmth. Lyanna inhaled deeply and sat up, pulling the bedding over her naked form.

She could hear the chambermaids scuttling outside the wooden door. That was something she disliked about Dragonstone. The castle was too small. Winterfell had been wide and you could easily find a place to hide away from the prying eyes of the servants.

It was also much warmer here, though that had pleased her at first. Storms came and went occasionally, but it was nothing against the icy winds of the North. No, here everything smelled of smoke and salt.

This castle is built on volcanoes, Rhaegar had told her upon her arrival. The air is always filled with the smell of smoke. That is why the dragons liked breeding here.

Rhaegar told her many more things about dragons and had taken her to explore the caves beneath the castle, telling her how he had hoped to find dragon eggs as a young boy, but had only found bones, strange carvings and steaming springs.

Lyanna had been fascinated, but that had been nearly two years ago and in that time he had visited her only a handful of times. There was always enough to do and she liked the presence of Queen Rhaella, but at times it was also plain boring and she disliked having to wait for his visits like some impatience child.

I am no longer a child, she reminded herself and sat up, placing her bare feet upon the Myrish carpet.

She felt the soft touch of the carpet on her toes as she bridged the distance to the strongbox placed beneath the arched window, allowing a good view on the stormy sea below.

She opened the box and pulled out a black dress. It was a summer dress, something a Northern Lady would never wear, but she was no longer in the North. You have to adapt, child, the Queen had told her and she had followed her advice, commissioning a handful of southern dresses, most black or red, but some more colorful.

“Is that a new dress?” Rhaegar’s question caused her turn around.

Lyanna turned around and sat down on the bed, sinking deep in the soft mattress.

“I commissioned them. No silk though, only soft wool or brocade. Silk is not to my taste.”

Rhaegar gave her a warm smile and brushed his hand over the cloth of her dress. “I like it, but think silk would look very good on you.”

Lyanna smiled, but her worries made it harder than excepted.

Rhaegar seemed to notice her sadness and dropped his hand, giving her one of his usual frowns. His son had the same habit, but his hair was dark like hers instead of Rhaegar’s silver locks.

“Are you well?”

Lyanna forced another smile over her lips and pulled her legs up, sitting cross-legged as she searched for Rhaegar’s face.

“I am not sick,” she avoided the topic at hand and fumbled with the hem of her dress. “But I have been barely able to keep down my supper. Your mother has been noticing it too, but she is far too polite to make note of it.”

Realization washed over Rhaegar’s face and a laugh spilled from his lips.

“That is wonderful, Lya.”

He seemed happy, but Lyanna hadn’t expected anything less.

Lyanna herself was not so pleased. She had hoped it would take a bit longer, given how burdensome her son’s birth had been.

Well, she had only tried to follow the Queen Mother’s advice. Besides, drinking moon tea was not a remedy for the long term as it often had unpleasant side effects: bleeding, stomach cramps and at the worst infertility if prepared from an unable hand.

Now, she regretted having listened to the Mother Queen. She felt bad about this, though it would certainly help to cement her position.

Even better would be if this child was born with silver hair, she thought, but brushed these thoughts away before they could take hold of her mind.

 “You don’t look happy,” Rhaegar remarked.

She nodded her head, pleased that he had seen what she hadn’t been able to express.

“You don’t have to bear this child,” she told him rather bluntly. “It is not as pleasant as you might think.”

Rhaegar blushed, though she was not sure if it was displeasure or embarrassment.

“Oh, I do know how painful it is. You are wrong if you think men do not hear the pains of their women. Yet, we are not allowed to be there. ‘Tis is the business of women,’ as my mother would say. I have seen her go through most of her births. I know very well how painful it is.”

He had mentioned his mother, but not the stranger that stood between them like a dark shadow.

“I shouldn’t have said that,” she apologized quickly. “Forgive me.”

Rhaegar shook his head and sat up, brushing her hair out of her face.

“No need. I am not easily insulted. You ought to know that by now. A King has to hear worse things from his subjects, though they conceal it behind false smiles and poetic flattery.”

She sighed in relief and smiled once more. This time it was an honest smile. “You are King.”

Rhaegar returned her smile and was about to lean closer when someone suddenly knocked at the door.

Lyanna hopped from the bed and threw Rhaegar a chiding look, indicating for him to dress, before she slowly opened the door to get a look at the visitor.

It was a serious face that looked back at her, lined with numerous wrinkles. Her head was covered with grey hair, braided strictly. It reminded her of Old Nan.

It was Rachelle, her son’s nursemaid, who had also taken up to educate Daenerys when the Queen Mother was not able to attend to her as Miriam her previous nursemaid was with child.

“What is it?”

“The Prince asks for your attention, my Lady,” came the tense answer. The woman didn’t like her, so much Lyanna knew, but her son seemed to like her, but that didn’t mean he was always satisfied with her company, especially when he was still feeling a little sickly.

“I shall…,” Lyanna began, but Rhaegar cut her off. “I shall go. You can rest.”

The nursemaid gave him a strange look, but this was the King and not even Rachelle the Dragon, as she was lovingly called by the younger chambermaids, would dare to go up against a real Dragon.

“Of course, your Grace,” the Lady replied and made space.

Lyanna smiled. “Very well, but do  not keep him up for too long. He had a cold.”

Chapter Text

Viserys

Viserys was woken by the sound of a song. He recognized the voice immediately, but being half-asleep, he had first believed that he was still dreaming.

He rubbed his eyes and climbed out of bed, leaving the warmth of his furs behind him. The stone floor beneath his feet felt cold and he picked up his velvet cloak along the way, fastening the silver clasp that held the garment together.

The music grew louder when he opened the door and stepped outside on the dark corridor. Around the corner one could usually find a guardsman or two, but that didn’t affect Viserys all too much since the music came from the chamber across his own, which belonged to his nephew.

A year ago, he had still slept in the nursery with Viserys’ younger sister Daenerys, but now that he was nearly three his Lady Mother had thought it appropriate for him to be moved to his own chamber, though she had insisted that Viserys would sleep close to him.

Viserys hadn’t known what to make of that, because in nearly a moon he would leave for the Eyrie and it would be years before he could return to Dragonstone. By then, his nephew and even his sister would have probably forgotten about him.

You are going on a grand adventure, his Lady Mother had tried to comfort him. Like the brave knights in the tales.

And while Viserys desperately wanted to be like one of the knights in the tales, he didn’t want to be leave his home. Why couldn’t he be a knight here? Why did he have to go?

Father would have never sent me away.

Yet, when his brother’s soothing voice filled his ears anew, he forgot his grudge and pushed the door open.

Rhaegar stopped at once, his dark indigo eyes searching for Viserys.

His nephew’s chamber was smaller than Viserys’, but that was no surprise. His nephew was still half a babe.

As expected, he found his nephew asleep ,curled up beneath the furs, only a patch of dark hair visible on the pillow.

Rhaegar was seated beside him, his wooden harp in hand. Viserys recalled that Rhaegar had sometimes played for him when he was very little, but as he had grown older his brother had stopped doing it. Viserys wasn’t sure, but he believed it had been because of his father, who had often spoken ill about his brother, calling him a ‘usurper’ and a ‘bad son´.

Viserys had asked his mother if that was true, but she had assured him that his father had not been feeling well. Viserys had believed her of course. His Lady Mother would never lie to him and it was true what she had said. His father had often felt ill. He would never eat without someone tasting his food and he had often grown out his hair and beard until it was full of knots. At one point, he had also stopped cutting his fingernails and whenever Viserys went to see him he had bloody cuts on his hands and neck.

Even so, Viserys missed him, for father had always been kind to him. He had shown him the dragon skulls and at times he had also allowed him to sit on the Iron Throne, telling him that he would one day be a great King.

Not that Viserys wanted to be King. ‘Tis wouldn’t be proper’ as his Lady Mother would remind him. Besides, Viserys rather wanted to be like a Knight in the Tales. Mayhaps he could even be like one of these Winged Knights his Lady Mother had told him about.

“Brother,” Rhaegar’s voice snapped him back to the present, though he had spoken very softly. “Did I wake you?”

Viserys raised his head and smiled at his brother.  He whispered, because he didn’t want to wake his nephew. “I like your song. What is it called?”

Rhaegar didn’t answer at once and picked him up from the floor, carrying him along the corridor and down the whirling staircase. There, they crossed another corridor and reached his brother’s study.

“Jenny of Oldstones,” Rhaegar answered and placed him on the ground, covered with a soft carpet. “I composed the song myself. It is a quiet song, well-suited as lullaby.  Aemon liked it well enough, though I think he would have been satisfied with everything.”

“I am surprised he didn’t ask for Lady Lyanna,” Viserys replied, unsure why his brother had brought him here. “You should come more often, brother. I missed you.”

Rhaegar smiled sadly and patted at the cushioned chair next to the hearth. “I missed you too, Vis, but I have my duties. But now we can speak.”

Viserys shuddered when he heard this, pulling the cloak tighter around his shoulders.

“About what? The Vale? I told you…I don’t want to go there.”

Rhaegar sighed and pushed another chair closer towards Viserys.

His hair was shorter, Viserys noticed, only reaching to his chin. It made him look older.

“Tis isn’t about wanting, brother,” Rhaegar replied and leaned closer, placing his hands on Viserys’ shoulders. “I gave a promise to send you there, a promise I cannot easily break. Besides, Lord Royce’s oldest son is training to be a knight. You could make friends with him.”

It sounded tempting, but Viserys didn’t believe Rhaegar.

“Father always said a Prince has no need of friends.”

“Father said many things,” Rhaegar replied calmly and touched his cheek, forcing Viserys to look at him. “But even your father had friends, good friends. Had he listened to them he might have been a better King.”

Viserys was surprised to hear this.

“Who were father’s friends?”

“Lord Steffon Baratheon and Lord Tywin Lannister. Both intelligent men whose council he should have respected more.”

“Lord Tywin is a traitor,” Viserys repeated what father had often said in his presence. “He hated him. Steffon Baratheon I don’t know…Is he kin to the pretender who tried to kill you?”

“Aye, he was his father,” Rhaegar confirmed and dropped his hand, leaning back in his chair. “As for Lord Tywin…he and father had a silly quarrel. Lord Tywin has his faults, but father was wrong to treat him as he did. He was a good Hand, though I cannot bring myself to trust him after he held back his swords when House Targaryen had need of them.

“Father said the same. Lord Tywin is a coward,” Viserys added eagerly. “So, he was right to hate him, wasn’t he?”

“This once, father had reason to mistrust him,” Rhaegar agreed hesitatingly and searched Viserys’ face once more. He looked as if he was afraid to speak. “But what father did was not right, Viserys. He was not always good. You need to understand that.”

“Father was King. A King cannot be wrong.”

“A King is just a human being of flesh and blood, brother,” Rhaegar countered. “Beggar or King we all  have to die one day. And father did die, didn’t he? So, tell me brother, what makes him so different from the beggars in Flea Bottom?”

Viserys didn’t know what to say to that. He didn’t even know how his father had died. His mother had told him it was his heart and since Viserys had no reason to question his mother he had accepted it as the truth.

He had been very sad, but his father had always been so angry. His heart must have burst from all the rage inside him and according to his mother it had been a quick death.

That had pleased Viserys. He had never liked watching his father burn the thieves. It had always taken so long and their screaming had scared him.

“Father died,” Viserys repeated at last and pulled up his feet, resting his chin atop his knees. “But surely a King is more important than a beggar?”

“Perhaps,” his brother agreed. “But the point is: all humans make mistakes. Father as well.”

Then, he looked away as if he was pondering a very important question, before he shifted his attention back to Viserys.

“Did you hear what happened to Lord Brandon Stark and Lord Rickard Stark?”

Viserys nodded his head. Father had wanted him to see it, but Mother had sent him away with her ladies. Viserys had been upset, but he had been even more upset when he had seen his mother that night. His father had been angry with her and had punished her. She had been bleeding between her legs and she hadn’t been able to walk for days afterwards.

That was the only time he had been afraid of his father.

“He punished them because they committed treason,” Viserys replied what he had heard from Queen Elia’s ladies. “Brandon Stark wanted to kill you and Rickard Stark was defending the traitor. Father said so.”

“Father was wrong,” Rhaegar corrected him, anger apparent on his usually calm face. “Brandon Stark thought I hurt his sister. Tell me, Viserys…What would you do if anyone hurt Daenerys?”

That answer was easy.

“Hurt him too.”

“Well, there you have it. Are you a traitor?”

“No.”

“Well, then…Lord Rickard only came to help his son. Father was wrong to kill him. No, King ought to kill a man with fire. Fire is no champion, Vis. It is only fire. Do you understand?”

Viserys believed he understood, but there was another question lingering on his lips.

“What about the pretender? Was he a traitor?”

His brother shook his head. “No, he was not.”

Viserys realized at once that his brother didn’t want to speak about this matter.

“Do I still have to go to the Vale?”

Rhaegar nodded his head in confirmation. “You will go to the Vale and you will make many friends. It will be good for you, Vis.”

Viserys couldn’t help but to frown.

“Can I write you?”

Rhaegar gave him a surprised look. “Since when are you interested in writing, little brother?”

“I don’t like it, but it’s the only way we will be able to talk.”

Rhaegar smiled warmly and leaned closer to pull him into an embrace. Viserys was surprised by that. Not even father had ever embraced him.

“I shall write to you as often as possible and answer all your letters. I promise.”

Chapter Text

Rhaella

Rhaella had hoped with all her heart that her son would have one more son, but that her good-daughter would bear two babes was a blessing indeed, though her little granddaughter had been born sightless or at least that is what Maester had told her after delivering the babe into Rhaella’s arms.

Now, as she was watching the sleeping babes, she couldn’t help but to be happy and sad at once. The oldest babe was the very picture of her oldest son, all silver haired and deep violet eyes that were nearly black. It were Rhaegar’s eyes and her grandson’s eyes that were staring back at her whenever the little babe opened his eyes, though at times they also resembled her oldest grandson’s eyes. The other babe took more after Lady Lyanna, as she was born with a patch of brown hair atop her head and these pale unseeing eyes that had looked grey at the first sight.

Compared to her brother, the little girl was awfully quiet. The boy had come squalling and red-faced into the world, but the girl had made not much more than a small whimper. No, in temper the boy resembled more Lady Lyanna, who had been cursing and screaming throughout the whole delivery and had nearly frightened the other ladies attending to the birth.

Undignified, some of the younger ladies had called it, but these maidens knew nothing of the woes of childbirth and thus she had forgiven them the moment they had uttered these headless words.

“Have you decided for a name?” Rhaella asked Rhaegar, who sat next to Lady Lyanna’s bed, who had been prescribed two weeks bed-rest, an order she had ignored more than once or so the servants had told Rhaella. A good dozen of times the girl had been seen sneaking around to see her oldest son, instead of simply calling for his nursemaid.

Said nursemaid had complained about that to Rhaella, but she couldn’t fault the girl for her actions. Rhaella had done the same with Rhaegar and later with Viserys.

Aemon was also there, watching the babes with a quiet and serious expression.

“Visenya for a girl,” Rhaegar added without hesitation, but the expression on Lady Lyanna’s face told Rhaella that she didn’t quite approve of his choice of name. “I have not thought of a name for a boy. I was sure it would be a girl. Perhaps Jaehaerys?”

“Jaehaerys. Visenya. Aegon,” Lady Lyanna muttered to herself and squeezed the bedding. “Do you know no other names?”

Rhaegar chuckled. “As if there isn’t a Lord Brandon in every single Stark generation.”

“True, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow into their footsteps,” Lady Lyanna admitted and jerked her head at the crib. “May I suggest a name for our little girl?”

Rhaegar nodded his head and smiled warmly. “I am all ears.”

“Alysanne,” Lady Lyanna announced solemnly. “A Targaryen name that is well-liked in the North and fits her Northern coloring.”

Rhaella was surprised by the name, but it fitted. It was true, Queen Alysanne had been well-liked in the North. Perhaps that will help to heal wounds, Rhaella thought, but the more cynical part of her cautioned her against such vain hopes. Or they will think it an insult.

“Alysanne it is,” Rhaegar agreed. “And our little boy?”

“May I make a suggestion for my grandson’s name?” she asked and lifted Aemon from her lap, his dark eyes following the movement of her head even as she placed him on the carpet below.

Lady Lyanna gave a hesitant nod. “What name do you have in mind, your Grace?”

Rhaella smiled and touched the babe’s soft silver hair.

“A name I had in mind for my own son, but Aerys always insisted that his sons ought to be called after Kings, but I have always been fond of the dragonlords of old. How about Gaemon? Gaemon the Glorious must have been a capable man if they gave him the moniker ‘The Glorious’.

“Gaemon,” Lady Lyanna repeated the name a handful more times. “It sounds similar to Aemon. I like it.”

Rhaegar nodded his head in approval.

“Well, I am just glad it is not Aerys.”

Rhaella was shocked Rhaegar would suggest something like that, but when he saw her horrified face, he started to laugh.

That stunned her even more. It was such a rare occurrence to hear her son laugh.

“I was jesting, mother,” Rhaegar said and drew closer, placing a kiss on her cheek. “I was merely jesting.”

Rhaella gave him a playful slap on the shoulder and pulled Aemon back into her lap, after he had walked around the room to admire the colorful tapestries embellished with golden dragons.

“Did you like the dragons?” she asked her always quiet grandson.

“They are pretty,” he replied and chuckled. “I want one.”

Rhaella chuckled as well and kissed the top of his head.

“And your brother and sister? Do you like them too?”

Aemon took another glance at the sleeping children and frowned as if he didn’t know what to make of them.

“They are boring,” he gave his opinion and searched his father’s face. “I want Vis back. He is not boring. He always plays ‘Slay the dragon’ with me.”

Rhaella nodded her head in understanding. She knew that game very well. It included Viserys pretending to be a dragon and chasing her daughter and grandson through the entire castle.

“What about Daenerys?” Lady Lyanna asked. “You can play with her.”

Aemon frowned again. “She only wants to play with her stupid cat.”

Rhaella laughed and gave Rhaegar an amused look. “Mayhaps we should get another cat?”

Rhaegar’s smile faded at once.

“Rhaenys’ cat is bad enough. Not another one, mother. These bothersome beasts leave hairs everywhere.”

“Well,” Rhaella began. “Perhaps it would be a good I idea to send for Aegon?”

Rhaegar gave her a serious look, as if to say: ‘Tis is a bad moment to bring this topic up, mother’.

Rhaella quickly overplayed her earlier question.

“Well, they will grow,” Rhaella told Aemon. “And then they will not be boring at all.”

Aemon gave her a hesitant smile.

“When they are bigger. Like me. Right?”

Rhaella laughed and praised him for his proper answer. He was an easy child, but he could be stubborn too and sometimes he had worse temper tantrums than Viserys, but so were all children. They never liked it when things didn’t go their way.

“Indeed, when you are bigger.”

“Why did you avoid my question, Rhaegar?” she asked her son later, after they had left Lady Lyanna to rest and had left her grandson in his nursemaid’s hands. “Aegon is five. How long do you want to wait to acquaint the boys with each other? Aemon asked me a week turn a go if Daenerys is his sister?”

Rhaegar sighed deeply. “I asked Elia and she also agrees that the boys must meet, but she wants to wait until they are a bit older.”

“She doesn’t want Aegon around Lady Lyanna,” Rhaella gave the real truth. “And that is understandable, but for the good of the realm it must be done. We cannot have them become estranged, no matter what her relatives think. I know they think the boy a bastard, but what Dorne thinks and the realm thinks are two different things.”

“Perhaps Rhaenys should accompany Aegon? She is older than Aegon and understands these matters much better.”

Rhaella was pleased with this suggestion.

“Then, I shall write Elia myself. It is time Rhaenys and Aegon pay me a visit. I missed my oldest grandchildren.”

Rhaegar gave her a thankful look.

“I shall leave it to you, mother.”

Rhaella returned his words with a smile.

“I am glad that I can be of help.”

Chapter Text

Rhaenys

“Stop being such a baby!” Rhaenys grumbled for the hundred time since their departure from King’s Landing. Aegon was usually a ray of sunshine, but now he was skulking like a little babe that had lost its favorite toy.

“I don’t like it here,” Aegon threw back, his crop of silver hair hidden beneath the hood of his cloak. “It’s wet and the clouds look scary. I don’t like thunder. Why do I have to come here?”

Rhaenys sighed and pulled him along the stony steps leading from the beach to castle Dragonstone. The guardsmen and even her Grand-Uncle Lewyn were giving her impatient looks.

“This is Dragonstone,” Rhaenys tried to explain as they started to climb the steps one after another, the strong wind blowing her hair into her face. “The ancient seat of House Targaryen. We were both be born here, brother. And one day you shall be the Prince of Dragonstone.”

Aegon lifted his head to search her face, his purple eyes wide and his nose wrinkled in displeasure.

“I don’t want this castle. I smells of fish and smoke. And I don’t like the dark clouds. It means there will be thunder and I hate thunder.”

Rhaenys sighed and pulled Aegon up the next step.

“I told you before, Aegon. Thunder cannot hurt you and it can be quite sunny at Dragonstone too,” she explained and angled her head to search Ser Lewyn’s face. “Isn’t that so, Grand-Uncle? You have been here numerous times.”

“Indeed,” her Grand-Uncle agreed and grimaced when a spray of rain met his face. “Days at Dragonstone can be full of sunshine and you will have plenty of time to enjoy them, your Grace.”

Aegon gave him a disbelieving look. “It still smells like smoke.”

Rhaenys had heard enough and pulled Aegon up the last part of the staircase. Reaching the top of the steps, it was only a short distance to the castle gates. Along the way they were met by Ser Bonifer Hasty, a tall and serious knight that held her grandmother’s favor and was currently the captain of the guards of Dragonstone.

When the gates were opened with a loud groan, Ser Bonifer’s greeting was drowned out.

“Welcome, your Grace,” Ser Bonifer greeted them and waved his hand at the opened gates. “Your grandmother awaits you inside. Please follow after me.”

“Thank you,” Rhaenys replied politely and dropped a curtsy, before shifting her attention back to Aegon, who was still scowling and clinging to her hand.

Rhaenys felt the urge to throttle her brother and squeezed his hand.

Aegon finally understood what he was supposed to do and dropped a quick bow.

“Thank you, good Ser.”

Their grandmother awaited them in her solar, seated atop a wooden armchair furnished with red plush. She hadn’t changed much since Rhaenys had last laid eyes on her. Only a handful more wrinkles lined her eyes and her mouth. Otherwise, she was still a beautiful woman, all silver-haired and purple-eyed like Rhaenys’ father.

She smiled warmly when she spotted Rhaenys.

“If that isn’t my oldest granddaughter?” she asked softly and spread her arms wide. “I scarcely recognized you, sweet Rhaenys. Come closer and let me take a good look at you.”

Their grandmother’s smile didn’t falter as Rhaenys walked into her grandmother’s arms and leaned closer to place a kiss on her cheek, Aegon still holding tightly onto Rhaenys’ arm.

“It is good to find you hale, grandmother,” Rhaenys replied and smiled sweetly, jerking her head at Aegon. “Isn’t that true, Aegon?”

He gave a quiet nod. “Well met, grandmother.”

Queen Rhaella chuckled and leaned down to touch Aegon’s shoulder.

“Oh, are you afraid of me, little one?” she asked and placed a kiss on Aegon’s cheek. “I don’t bite. So much I can assure you.”

This seemed to stir Aegon’s pride and he finally let go of Rhaenys’ hand.

“I am not afraid, grandmother,” he replied and rubbed his cheek. “I am just tired and I don’t like the rain.”

“Of course, you are,” Rhaella replied and waved her hand at one of the servant girls. “We shall have supper a bit earlier than usual. And we shall also have cream pie afterwards.”

The expression on Aegon’s face had changed within the matter of a heartbeat.

“Cream pie?” he asked as if their grandmother had offered him a piece of paradise.

“Indeed,” their grandmother confirmed. “I was told it is your favorite. Is it true?”

Aegon nodded his head enthusiastically.

“I love cream pie.”

Rhaenys was relieved and the rest of the evening passed without much complaint. Aegon didn’t even complain when Rhaenys brushed out his disheveled silver hair and had him change into more proper clothing.

When Aegon was ready, Rhaenys put on her new dress and joined her grandmother who had assembled the rest of their family.

Rhaenys recognized Aemon at once. They shared a similar coloring, dark-brown hair and dark-indigo eyes. Rhaenys marveled at how much he had grown since she had last since him at age one.

Beside their grandmother was their Aunt, a silver-haired girl that was cradling a white kitten in her lap.

Rhaenys made use of the moment of silence to introduce herself, her gaze flickering to Aemon.”

“Well met, brother,” she said and graced him with a warm smile. “It has been a long time that we have last seen each other. I doubt you can recall my last visit.”

Aegon stayed close to her side and introduced himself as well.

“Well met, brother,” he mumbled and sounded unsure and fearful.

Aemon smiled openly at Rhaenys. “I like the books you sent me, sister. Grandmother reads them for me every night.”

Rhaenys was pleased to hear this and patted Aegon’s shoulder.

“Aegon likes it too when I read for him. Sometimes, he is reading for me as well to improve on his letters.”

Aemon’s eyes widened in wonder. “You can read and write?”

Aegon’s breast swelled with pride.

“Of course, I am nearly six.”

“I have nearly learned all my letters,” Aemon replied quickly. “Soon I will be able to write and read too.”

“You can’t,” Aegon insisted stubbornly. “Five-year old’s cannot read and write.”

Rhaenys pulled Aegon’s shoulder and gave him a chiding look.

“That is not true. I could read when I was four, brother. Age has nothing to do with it, only practice.”

Aegon looked unhappy with her answer and shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, I can ride with a pony,” he said and gave Aemon a challenging look. “Can your ride a pony?”

Aemon nodded his head in confirmation.

“I can ride my pony. It is called Comet. What is yours called?”

Aegon finally seemed to forget his sullen mood.

“Vhagar,” he replied proudly. “After one of the Conqueror’s dragons.”

Aemon wrinkled his brows in confusion.

“Why did you not name it after Balerion? That sounds far scarier.”

“Rhaenys’ cat is already called Balerion,” Aegon replied quickly and flashed Rhaenys’ an accusing look. “She forbade me to call my pony liked her cat.”

“You have a cat?” their Aunt asked suddenly and continued to scratch her kitten’s head, making the little one purr with happiness. “I have one too. Mine is called Moonbeam.”

Aegon’s purple eyes darted to the kitten and then back to his Aunt.

Then, he burst out in loud laughter.

Aemon laughed too, covering his mouth with his hands. Rhaenys slapped her brother’s shoulder when he saw their Aunt’s hurt expression.

“Aegon,” she snapped. “That is not very polite. Stop your laughing.”

“Forgive me…,” Aegon stuttered and pointed at the cat. “But Moonbeam…that is such a stupid name.”

“Aegon!” Rhaenys chided him once more, but it was already too late. Their Aunt’s violet eyes were narrowed and her nose was scrunched as she clutched her kitten to herself.

“Moonbeam is not stupid! You two are stupid!” the little girl snapped back Aegon and Aemon, her eyes burning with tears and rage.

“Of course not, sweetling,” her grandmother assured Daenerys and kissed her head, before flashing Aegon and Aemon a damning look. “Moonbeam is a perfectly fine name. Isn’t that so?”

Aemon seemed to recognize the severity of the situation and nodded his head in confirmation.

“It is a girlish name, but a good one,” he replied diplomatically.

Aegon replied bluntly as ever.

“It is a stupid name. I say so.”

Daenerys buried her head in the crook of her mother’s neck and started to weep.

Rhaenys sighed deeply and her grandmother gave Aegon a stern look.

“And I am the ruler of this castle, grandson,” her grandmother said. “And now I ask you to apologize.”

Aegon looked like he had been slapped.

“Apologize for what?”

“For calling me stupid!” their Aunt threw back, rubbing her tears away with the hem of her violet dress. “Stupid is a dirty word. You shouldn’t say it.”

“I can say what I want,” Aegon insisted stubbornly. “I am a Prince.”

Rhaenys knew it was already too late when her grandmother started to shake her head.

“A Prince that will go to bed without supper. That is if you refuse to apologize.”

Aegon’s gaze was full of defiance.

“I won’t,” was his answer and thus Rhaenys was left to take supper alone with her grandmother, Aemon and Daenerys.

“A pity that father isn’t here,” Rhaenys remarked as she poked the untouched piece of cream pie.  She wanted to eat it, but felt pity for her brother, who had been sent off in company of Aemon and Daenerys to prepare for bed. “I hoped to see him and meet Lady Lyanna.”

Her grandmother looked surprised.

“You want to meet her?”

Rhaenys nodded her head. “She is Aemon’s mother. I want to see what kind of a person she is.”

“Very spirited and adventurous,” her grandmother replied and poured Rhaenys a cup of tea. “And your brother? What do you think of him?”

“He is less stubborn than Aegon,” Rhaenys replied and brought the cup to her lips. The tea was too sweet, but she overplayed it with a quick smile. “I suppose that is a good thing.”

“Aegon is a willful child,” her grandmother replied. “He is much like Rhaegar and Viserys in that regard. Aemon and Aegon will make good companions. He too has his ‘sullen moments’, Aemon just knows when he is overstepping his bounds, but Aegon has yet to learn it.”

“Oh, Aegon does know his bounds,” Rhaenys assured her grandmother. “He would have never dared to behave like that in mother’s presence. He just misses his friends and it usually takes a bit of time for him to get used to new people.”

“You don’t have to apologize for Aegon,” her grandmother assured her in return. “It is partly my fault. I should have shown more presence in his life, but I like my life here. I also didn’t want to be in your mother’s way. I am no longer the Queen.”

“You are the Queen Mother,” Rhaenys replied and put a piece of cream pie into her mouth. “And my mother could use your help. She has been sick again.”

“I heard about it,” her grandmother replied sadly. “She is writing me to keep me informed about you two, but I rather not. King’s Landing was never my true home.”

Rhaenys understood and decided to change the topic.

“It is not going to be easy with Aegon. Don’t expect him to get along with Aemon immediately. It also took him a while to get along with Harry and Quent.”

“Harry?” Queen Rhaella asked in confusion.

“Harrold Hardyng…Harry is was Aegon calls him,” Rhaenys explained. “Gods, that boy is even worse than Aegon. They are always up to no good and Quent…he is always caught in the middle of it. He is too quiet for his own good. Arianne would fit much better in their company, but she is a girl.”

“And I suppose you are trying to keep them in line?” her grandmother asked.

“I am trying my best,” Rhaenys replied. “But I will not be there forever. I ought to go to the Reach to acquaint myself with my future home. At least, that is what mother thinks.”

“A good idea,” her grandmother agreed. “Mayhaps I shall send Daenerys to Highgarden as well when she is a bit older. She has need of female companions. She is far too boyish for her own good.”

Rhaenys gave an understanding nod.

“Lady Margaery is only a year older than her. They should get along splendidly, but be careful, grandmother. Mace Tyrell might take it as a sign that you are going for another match with the Reach.”

“What a smart girl you are,” her grandmother said and gave her a proud smile. “But you don’t have to fret about that. I know how to handle Lord Mace Tyrell. His mother and I are in constant correspondence and she knows well that I have other plans for Daenerys. Your father wants her to wed Aemon.”

Rhaenys  was surprised by this.

“Why that?”

“Simple,” her grandmother replied and poured tea into her empty cup. “That way nobody can say your father is favoring your brother with a powerful match.”

“So much is true,” Rhaenys replied. “And Daenerys seems like a nice girl. A bit sensitive, but that will change quickly once she spends a bit of time in company of Lady Margaery and her horde of golden flowers.

“My daughter is a soft-hearted girl,” her grandmother replied. “But Aegon ought to be careful. She can be quite hot-heated if someone riles her up.”

Rhaenys chuckled. “That will be good for Aegon.”

Chapter Text

Lyanna

Lyanna squeezed her eyes against the bright sunlight creeping over the blackened ruins of Summerhall. She had come here before, scarcely a moon after her escape from King Aerys’ henchmen.

Not much had changed ever since. The blackened ruins lay motionless in the valley, greenery meandering its way over the crumbling stone walls and towers. Trees could also been found here and there, growing out of the ruins and melted glass that littered every part of the ancient ruin.

“It could be accomplished within a few years,” Rhaegar’s iron voice rang in her ears and caused her to lift her head while she was trying her best to keep her little girl from running off.

Alysanne was barely one year old, but it was hard to keep him in place, despite her impediment.

“Mam!” she complained and pulled on Lyanna’s hair, causing her to gasp in pain. “Mam!”

Lyanna sighed, pulled her little girl’s hand away and picked her girl from the ground before making her way back to Rhaegar, who was carrying a snoring Gaemon.

Lyanna was not surprised that he had fallen asleep. Her little boy had been running about all day, admiring the butterflies hovering over the red flowers growing all over the hill.

“Mam!” Alysanne called out again and Lyanna took her little hand before she was able to grab her hair again. “Mam!”

“Aye, I heard you,” Lyanna whispered to her little girl and touched her cheek, assuring her that she was here. “And I am here.”

Then, she shifted her attention back to Rhaegar, who had been watching her with an amused expression.

“Next time it will be my hair that suffers,” Rhaegar assured her and tousled Alysanne’s dark hair. “Put her down. She needs is not as helpless as you think.”

Lyanna was hesitant, but placed her little girl unto the meadow that spread over the ridge leading up to the castle ruins.

Alysanne cooed happily as she fell on her bottom, tearing out a handful of flowers as she crawled over the wet grass.

Lyanna’s gaze followed her as Rhaegar knelt down beside her,

“Gaemon is heavy sleeper,” Lyanna admired her son’s ability to sleep in such a cursed place.

“He is exhausted,” Rhaegar replied in a low voice. “And you still haven’t said anything about my plans?”

Lyanna sighed and shrugged her shoulders. She was a Lady of the North, not a builder. Yet, she was sure that it would cost a great amount of gold to restore Summerhall back to its old glory.

“Do you have enough coin to rebuild Summerhall?”

 “I spoke with my mother. It won’t be as grand as in the past, but Dragonstone’s coffers would be able to finance the rebuilding of Summerhall and on the long term the expenses could be covered through the resettlement of the lordship,” Rhaegar explained with an assuring smile. “Besides, one day Aemon will have need of a lordship and Aegon will one day rule Dragonstone.”

“And then we will have to leave,” Lyanna replied in understanding, her gaze never leaving Alysanne, who was pulling out another handful of flowers. “I suppose your mother and I will have to pester my Aemon until the end of our days.”

“I am sure Aemon won’t mind,” Rhaegar added with a chuckle and jerked his head at the cursed ruin looming ahead. “But what of Gaemon and Alysanne? You only ever speak about your plans for Aemon, but never of them.”

“Gaemon is a third son,” Rhaegar added and regarded their sleeping son in his arms. “Mayhaps he might be interested in joining the Kingsguard. Only time will tell.”

Lyanna didn’t like the sound of that, though it certainly was a reasonable consideration.

“What if Gaemon wants a family of his own?”

“Then I shall find him a pretty Lady,” Rhaegar promised and pondered over her question for a brief moment, before continuing to speak. “Perhaps Lady Cersei Lannister’s daughter. She is only a bit older than Gaemon and then Lord Tywin might finally stop pestering me.”

Lyanna wasn’t sure if she liked the idea, but graced Rhaegar with a smile.

“What about Alysanne?”

“It will not be easy to find her a match with a High Lord,” Rhaegar explained. “My mother suggested sending her the Faith.”

Lyanna froze, horrified by the idea that her daughter would be given to these serious women sitting all day over their prayer books.

“No,” Lyanna insisted firmly. “My daughter will never go to these old women.”

“Do you really think I would agree to that?” Rhaegar asked and laughed, his cheeks suddenly flushed. Then, he pointed at Summerhall. “Alysanne will have a fine man to love and care for her. This I promise.”

Lyanna smiled, though she was not sure if Rhaegar would be able to keep all these promises, no matter how much he wanted to.

Yet, that was still far in the future, an uncertain future…

“Aemon will be happy to have Summerhall,” she said and smiled when she saw Alysanne crawling back to her side.

She must have heard Lyanna’s and Rhaegar’s voices.

Rhaegar had noticed this too and smiled proudly.

“She is a clever girl,” Lyanna remarked and opened her arms to receive her little girl.

Alysanne chuckled and Rhaegar was about to open his mouth to speak, but the sound of footfalls caused him to turn around.

It was Ser Arthur, his armor cast in golden sunlight.

“Your Grace,” he said and searched Rhaegar’s face. “Lord Fell has sent a rider. There are urgent news from the capital.”

Rhaegar rose to his feet, though carefully as not to wake their son. Ever quietly, he put the child into Ser Arthur’s arms and picked the raven scroll from Ser Arthur’s gloved hands.

Lyanna held a squirming Alysanne in her arms as Rhaegar unrolled the piece of paper and read quickly, his elated expression changing back to its usual somber expression.

Suddenly, his dark indigo eyes were searching for hers.

“It seems Lord Balon Greyjoy wants to stir up a Rebellion.”

Lyanna shuddered, clutching Alysanne close to her chest.

“Does that mean there will be war again?”

Rhaegar gave a hesitant nod.

“Most likely, which is why we must make haste. I shall return to the capital and you may travel back to Dragonstone with the children. Perhaps it would be wise to send Rhaenys back to Elia. Aegon shall remain at Dragonstone…I don’t want to scare him.”

Lyanna didn’t like the sound of that, but there was naught she could do to help Rhaegar.

Women could only wait and watch. It was a terrible fate and woke an old anger inside her chest.

Chapter Text

Rhaella

“They are coming!They are coming!“ Aegon’s bright rang through the solar, causing Rhaella to lift her head from her embroidery. Within the blink of a moment she had completely forgotten about her work. “I can see father and Ser Gerold…and Ser Arthur!”

Rhaella wasn’t surprised, for Aegon had his face plastered against the painted glass. He had been sitting there almost every day since he had found out that his father had gone to war, though Rhaella had tried her best to hide the ugly truth from her grandchildren. Eventually, one of the page boys had blabbered out the truth in front of Aegon and there had been no peace to be had. Rhaella had tried her best to explain that a battlefield was not the best place for a young Prince like him, but Aegon had been inconsolable and had refused to speak to her in the following week.

That had been until Lady Lyanna had returned, for then Aegon’s attention had been elsewhere. Rhaella had been most worried about Lady Lyanna’s presence and Aegon had been watching her warily as if he didn’t quite know what to make of her, but one day he had sat down beside them while Lady Lyanna, Aemon and Daenerys were playing cyvasse, a game well-known to Aegon due to his Dornish relatives. Suddenly, the boy had no longer been scowling in the corner of his room and had started to explain the rules of the game while Daenerys and Aemon had listened with rapt attention. In that moment, Aegon had been all like her father. King Jaehaerys had been a well-read man and had often taken great delight in explaining things to Rhaella and her brother. Pride was also a trait Aegon inherited from his Targaryen kin but it wasn’t the worst kind of character trait. A King needed to exhibit an aura of confidence or no lord, nor small or big, would follow him, though Rhaella was also aware how pride could lead to one’s doom. Aerys’ fate had shown that.

Yet, Aegon was still a child and it had eased  her nerves to see him smile about his father’s return.

.Rhaella herself had scarcely slept through a single night in the last six moons and with every raven that had arrived at Dragonstone she had been hesitant to break the seal.

The war had begun in the Westerlands, where Euron Greyjoy had smashed the Lannister Fleet, before spreading to the Riverlands where the Ironborn had been defeated beneath the walls of Seagard. There, as the battle had raged Lord Jason Mallister has slain Roderik Greyjoy, Balon Greyjoy’s oldest son. With the death of Balon Greyjoy’s heir, the tide of the battle had turned. Yet, that had not been the end of the rebellion, for Rhaegar had to chase them all the way back to Pyke to put an end to Lord Balon Greyjoy’s kingly ambitions.

Thus, the Greyjoy Rebellion had been ended with the Siege of Pyke and the death of Balon Greyjoy’s second son, Maron Greyjoy. Squashed by a collapsing stone tower, Viserys had written to her in his beloved and unrecognizable penmanship. He had written little else, but Rhaegar had done so. Twenty letters she had counted, detailing the most important parts of the war and how his younger brother had endured the hardships of the campaign.

Rhaella had been thankful for very letter. Viserys had been gone for six years, but for Rhaella he was still her little boy.

And he is finally coming home, she hoped and rose to her feet, joining Aegon’s side. Below she spotted numerous riders and she immediately recognized Rhaegar by his gleaming black armor and Ser Arthur and Gerold Hightower by their white cloaks.

All in all, it seemed that Rhaegar hadn’t brought a big retinue, but that was no surprise to her. Her son had the tendency to travel lightly.

She still saw no glimpse of Viserys, put perhaps he had simply changed so much that she didn’t recognize him. Could a mother forget her son, Rhaella wondered and turned around when she heard the sound of Lady Lyanna’s footsteps on the thick carpet.

She wore a black dress and her brown hair was braided over her shoulder, fastened ruby clasp. It were simple garments, but lovely to behold. She would make a good appearance at court, but that would never be.

“Mam!” Alysanne exclaimed as she buried her fat fists in Lady Lyanna’s cape. “Mam!

Gaemon said nothing, holding onto Lady Lyanna’s arm as he tried to walk on his small feet. They were twins, but looking at them it was hard to see. Gaemon had inherited the silver hair and purple eyes of his father and little Alysanne was all her mother, grey-eyed and dark-haired.  A dragon and a wolf.

“They are back!” Aegon informed them as well, his voice ringing loudly through the solar. “We should go down to the hall!”

Aemon, who had been sitting beside Aegon, smiled at his mother.

“I can take Gaemon,” he offered quickly and received a thankful smile from Lady Lyanna, who allowed Aemon to take hold of his little brother’s hand. The boy didn’t protest and was smiling happily as he pulled on Aemon’s black tunic embroidered with a red dragon. It was Rhaella’s work and it seemed her grandson was enchanted by it.

“Mam!” Alysanne exclaimed again as she was placed on the ground and Lady Lyanna took her hand. The girl was blind, but agile like a squirrel. “Mam!”

A moment later, Daenerys stormed into the solar, chasing after her cat.

Rhaella picked her up before she could escape, allowing the cat to flee beneath the table.

Daenerys frowned. “Now Moonbeam is gone.”

Rhaella chuckled and placed her back on the ground, eying her bare feet with displeasure. “Where did you leave your slippers and your nursemaid?”

Daenerys blushed and looked down at her toes.

“Oh, Mary has them.”

Mary was her nursemaid and entered the room a heartbeat later, carrying Daenerys’ slippers.

“See,” Daenerys replied quickly and pointed at the slippers. “There.”

Rhaella couldn’t be angry with her daughter and brushed her silver hair out of her face. “Well, I suppose that means everyone is ready, isn’t that so?”

“Aye,” Aegon added anxiously. “Let’s go.”

Rhaella allowed the others to go first while she watched Daenerys put on her slippers. Then, they followed suit.

Rhaegar was the first one to greet her and pulled her into a tight embrace. He looked thin, his silver hair shorter than Rhaella remembered.

“It is good to see you hale, my son,” Rhaella said and kissed his cheek, reveling in his presence, though Viserys’ absence was starting to worry her.

Next came Lady Lyanna, who received a kiss and then came the children, one after another. Aegon was quickly lifted in Rhaegar’s arms and received an unhappy complaint about leaving him behind, to which Rhaegar found a quick way to silence him. “I brought you a present.”

Luckily, Aegon was immediately enraptured by the idea of receiving an Ironborn shield to decorate his chamber, but then Aemon came with many questions about the sea battle. Rhaegar answered the questions as best as possible, before he moved on to Alysanne and Gaemon, who only managed a handful of half-hazard sentences.

At last, Daenerys stepped forward and was quick to apologize that she hadn’t brought her cat to greet Rhaegar.

“Oh, I think he shall be forgiven this once,” Rhaegar declared at last and swept his gaze over his retinue of knights and squires. Lord Monford Velaryron and a good dozen of men-at-arms were also there, laughing and smiling at the silly question. Rhaegar was not prone to jesting and thus it didn’t surprise Rhaella that some of the men looked stunned. “What do the others think?”

They all muttered their agreement and thus Moonbeam the Cat was pardoned by the King, which seemed to please her little girl.

That night they had a proper feast, a seldom event since Rhaegar had taken the crown. Aerys had loved lavish feasts, tourneys and hunts where he could show his kingly presence, but Rhaegar rarely indulged in such endeavors.

But things were different now. They had quenched a rebellion. Peace was restored and Rhaella had insisted that the event would be properly celebrated.

Rhaegar had agreed and thus Rhaella had spent the last weeks to preparing for said. She had called for maids from the nearby village and had ordered spices and meat from the merchants harboring in Driftmark. She had even asked Lord Monford to send her a minstrel, a plump fellow wearing a motely of crisscrossed bolts of turquoise and white, the colors of House Valeryon. Pimple, they called him, a name given to him by Lord Monford’s bastard brother, young Aurane Waters.

The dishes her maids had cooked up had pleased her even more. There were three different courses being served: A soup of garlic and mint and with a pinch of whipped cream on top, honeyed pig-feet covered with sauce, parsley and mint and at last cakes made from cherries, apples and peaches, all covered with even more cream and plenty of sugar, just like her grandchildren liked it.

The children certainly enjoyed their cakes while the knights enjoyed the Arbor Gold that Rhaella had been gifted by Lord Mace Tyrell.

The minstrel delighted them even more whenever he played up his jolly tunes and showed them a trick which included juggling ten colorful balls while standing on one foot.

Six times the poor man was asked to perform this task until one of Lord Valeryon’s knights attempted the same, nearly stumbling over his feet.

The drunken men howled with laughter and the children giggled madly.

By the time the eight hours had come and gone, Lady Lyanna went to settle the children for bed, though Aegon had protested vehemently.

“You promised to bring Viserys,” she remarked later when she found Rhaegar standing in the Room of the Painted Table, staring down into the black sea. “Where is he?”

“He refused to come,” Rhaegar explained as his dark indigo eyes found hers. “It seems he likes the Vale more than we anticipated.”

Rhaella had hoped for this, but her heart still ached to see her younger son.

“Well, perhaps in a year from now. He is a knight now, is he not?”

Rhaegar nodded his head in confirmation and brushed his hair out of his face.

“Aye, he killed two men, more than most squires can say about themselves, though he was quite shaken afterwards. I have never seen him so disturbed.”

“And that bothers you?” Rhaella asked.

Rhaegar’s eyes widened.

“It doesn’t bother you?”

Rhaella laughed and clutched her chest. “Of course not. I had feared that Aerys’ burnings numbed my boy against such horrors.”

Rhaegar nodded his head in understanding.

“Well, Viserys is nothing like father.”

Rhaella was pleased to hear it and drew closer, enclosing Rhaegar’s arm and resting her chin on his shoulder.

“So, what will you do with the Greyjoys?”

Rhaegar kissed her brow and squeezed her hand. “I have taken his boy hostage and I intent to send him to Mace Tyrell.”

“I suppose Jon disagreed with your idea?” Rhaella asked carefully.

“He thinks I should have killed Balon and his son, but I don’t want another Brandon Stark and Elbert Arryn. Balon is a fool, but his still a father and perhaps the boy will prove smarter than him.”

“Indeed,” Rhaella agreed and smiled. She was pleased with his decision, though she wished Balon Greyjoy had found an early grave for his foolishness. “So, when will you return to King’s Landing?”

“In a week,” Rhaegar replied and smiled sadly. “I want to take Aegon and Aemon with me.”

This stunned Rhaella.

“Does Lyanna know?”

Rhaegar bit his lips.

“Not yet, mother. Well, I doubt she will be pleased, but I think it is time. The longer I wait the harder it will be for him.”

As a mother, Rhaella understood Lady Lyanna’s feelings, but she had also been forced to send away her son as a hostage. It was only right that Aemon would go to King’s Landing to foster a fruitful relationship with his brother.

“He will welcome it…Aegon told him colorful tales about King’s Landing,” Rhaella assured her son. “Do you want me to speak with her?”

“No, I shall do it myself.”

With these words Rhaella returned to her chambers and was surprised to find a candle lit.

When she noticed the presence of a person seated in the armchair beside the hearth her heart nearly stopped.

“Mother,” the young man said as he rose to his feet and lowered the hood. “Have I changed so much?”

Rhaella blinked once, twice and a third time, before she finally recognized her boy. His face was still much the same, sharp cheekbones and lilac eyes, but his hair was nearly black.

It was Viserys.

“Did you paint your hair?” Rhaella asked in disbelief, tears burning in her eyes. “Why?”

Her son graced her with a crooked smile.

“I wanted to surprise you.”

“Aye,” Rhaella laughed and enclosed him in a tight hug. “And you did surprise me, my son.”

Chapter Text

Lyanna

Prince Viserys has grown into a man, that was the first thought that had entered Lyanna’s mind when she laid eyes on Rhaegar’s younger brother. He was no longer the thin and pale-faced boy that had wept whenever he was denied his favorite dish. No, Prince Viserys had grown into a graceful young man like Rhaegar, though he still lacked his brother’s soft beauty as Rhaella liked to call it.

He takes after Aerys, the Queen Mother had told her more than once.

Lyanna couldn’t say if that was true, for she had never faced the King in person. She had only seen him from afar, but back then he had been in the worst state possible, his ragged beard reaching nearly to his boots and his nails long and yellow like piss. He had had looked the monster he had turned out to be. Just thinking that this man had laid hands on Queen Rhaella made Lyanna shudder and realize that Rhaegar had spared her from a terrible fate, though she supposed he would have rather burned her alive than lay a hand on her.

His henchmen did that for him, Lyanna thought and searched Prince Viserys’ face. Prince Viserys might look like his father, but he was very different from his father. I took after my Lady Mother, but I never had her grace. Father never failed to remind me of my failures.

Thinking of her father made her bitter and sad at once. She hadn’t wanted him to die, but she wouldn’t have been able to fulfil her duty either.

“Did you slay a kraken, brother?” Princess Daenerys asked excitedly. She was sat cross-legged on the ground beside Viserys’ feet, her cat running circles around her and waving his tail in whirling motions. “Aegon said that the Greyjoys command krakens.”

Princess Viserys threw his head back and laughed. “Oh, no. They had no krakens, but they had mighty axes and some of them looked like wild beasts.”

Daenerys looked slightly disappointed and pulled Moonbeam into her lap, rubbing her hand over his big belly. “Well, did you slay one of these wild beasts?”

Viserys stopped laughing at once, a serious expression taking hold of his face.

“I did,” he confirmed and tightened his grip on the handle of his chair. “It was not fun.”

“Why not?” Aegon asked and jumped to his feet. “Are you not proud to be a knight?”

Aemon nodded his head in agreement, but remained seated. “You are a knight, aren’t you, Uncle?”

“Aye,” Viserys replied in disbelief and looked at his mother, who was seated beside Lyanna. “I am really knight.”

“War is no game, children,” Rhaella added and graced Aegon and Aemon a warm smile. “And being a knight is not like in the tales you have heard.”

“But the Ironborn are evil,” Prince Aegon insisted firmly. “King Aegon also burned Harren the Black, because he was evil.”

“Evil men or not,” Queen Rhaella replied unhappily and put down her embroidery. “These men also have women and children that will grieve for them.”

Aegon’s eyes widened as if a sudden realization had entered his young mind.

“Oh, I never thought about it that way,” he said and as he allowed himself to fall back into his cushioned chair. “But you are right, grandmother.”

Rhaella seemed pleased with Aegon’s answer and leaned over to pat Prince Aegon’s hand. “You are young. There are a great many things you still have to learn.”

Lyanna believed she knew what she was referring to, for neither Aemon nor Aegon were aware of King Aerys’ crimes.

Lyanna leaned forward, watching her son closely. As usual, he had listened to Viserys’ story in solemn silence, but she had seen the glint of excitement in his eyes whenever he spoke about the battles he had seen.

It was quite clear that Aemon desired a similar future, but that was no surprise to Lyanna. He had grown up hearing heroic tales of knights. Truly, it was inevitable. Now no day was going by when he wasn’t running about, slaying invisible enemies with his wooden swords.

Seeing this, it made her all the more aware that Rhaegar was right.

If Aemon stayed here he would continue living on in his fantasy world. He needed to see the truth, no matter how painful it would be.

She knew so much, but it wasn’t any less painful for her to see him go.

She was glad that Rhaegar had at least delayed his departure for a few more moons to prepare herself emotionally.

“Lyanna,” Rhaella’s calm voice called her back to the present. “Did you hear what I said?”

“Forgive me, my mind was straying,” she apologized quickly and realized that Daenerys, Aegon and Viserys were already standing at the door. “What did you say, your Grace?”

Only Aemon had remained beside her, his dark eyes searching her face.

“I only reminded the children, that it was time for supper,” Rhaella explained and graced Lyanna with a smile. “Lord Benjen announced his coming, didn’t he?

Lyanna nodded her head in confirmation, though she was surprised by Rhaella’s forward question.

“Uncle Benjen is coming?” Aemon asked, his face suddenly lightened up by a smile. “Really?”

“Aye, Uncle Benjen is coming,” she confirmed and placed a kiss on his cheek. “He promised so in his last raven.”

With this answer the children were ushered out of the chamber to prepare for supper. Prince Viserys was the last one to leave and dropped a respectful bow before closing the door behind him.

“My son has turned into a true knight,” the Queen said proudly.

Lyanna smiled. “That he has.”

“Sadly, he will return to the Vale until he is of age,” Rhaella replied and sighed deeply. “Well, it was good to have him here…even if it was only for a short while.”

Lyanna was surprised to hear this. She had expected that Prince Viserys would remain here or that Rhaegar would find him a match. He had spoken about it more than once.

“I thought Rhaegar wanted him wed to Arianne Martell?”

“And perhaps he still plans to do that,” Rhaella replied. “But I would prefer someone else. I have heard some concerning rumors about the girl.”

Lyanna gave her a curious look. “Rumors?”

Rhaella looked embarrassed. “Some say the girl is no longer a maid.”

I wasn’t a maid either, she felt the urge to reply, but decided it against in the last moment.

“Well, there are other maids,” Lyanna offered diplomatically, her mind fishing for a good example. “My brother has a daughter…Sansa. It might help to endear the former rebel lords to have Rickard Stark’s and Hoster Tully’s granddaughter wed to a Targaryen Prince. It would show unity.”

Rhaella smiled.

 “How old is the girl?”

“My niece is a year younger than Daenerys,” Lyanna replied. “A bit young, but there is no need for Viserys to be wed in the next years. Rhaegar has enough heirs.”

“Having many sons means nothing, “ Rhaella countered. “Sickness and war could claim them.”

Lyanna gave Rhaella a knowing look. “Aegon the Unlikely was the fifth son. Nobody expected him to be King.”

“Indeed,” Rhaella added and rose to her feet, violet silk fluttering past Lyanna. “But that is not for me to decide. He is the King.”

And the Queen’s kin wouldn’t like it if Prince Viserys were to wed Sansa, Lyanna concluded.

Chapter Text

Benjen

Dragonstone was a castle of twisted towers and walls of shining black stone. He had visited this place numerous times, but everytime he was awed by its grim beauty.

Today, the sky was heavy with black clouds and a strong current made his cloak flap like the wings of a bat, but that was nothing compared to the sharp winds of the North.

When he reached the gates, he was greeted by a familiar man, Ser Bonifer Hasty, the Captain of the Guards of Dragonstone. During his time in King’s Landing, Benjen had seen him numerous times, attending council meetings on behalf of the Queen and had heard numerous rumors about him.

In his youth, he had supposedly courted the Queen, but given his low birth he had not been allowed to wed her. It seemed that even years after the Queen’s horrid marriage to King Aerys, she had not forgotten about the knight of her heart and had shown him all kinds of favors. The King didn’t seem to mind, but the courtiers were constantly whispering about it. Benjen couldn’t care less who the Queen Mother showed favors to or if she bedded the man in front of him, but like so many things Benjen couldn’t help but to consider such matters. With Lyanna’s “marriage” to King Rhaegar, they were irrevocably connected to the royal family, no matter how much Ned dislike this notion.

“Welcome back, Lord Benjen,” the solemn knight greeted him and led him into the castle and the Queen Mother’s solar. Unlike in the past it was only Lyanna and her son Aemon that awaited him there.

Benjen marveled at how much his dear nephew had changed. He had grown at least a handful of inches and his features had lost the plumpness of youth so common to young children. No, his face had grown only longer, though his straight nose and his dark eyes betrayed his Targaryen birth.

“Uncle Benjen!” he exclaimed loudly and didn’t hesitate to jump into his arms, nuzzling his neck against Benjen’s shoulder. “Do you remember me?”

Benjen laughed and mustered his nephew from head to toe, pretending not to recognize him.

“No,” Benjen replied, feigning confusion. “Who are you, my young Lord?”

Aemon frowned in disbelief.

“You are lying.”

Benjen chuckled and placed a kiss on top of his head, before placing him back on the ground.

“Aye, I was lying. I would never forget my nephew.”

“And your sister I hope?” Lyanna added, a warm smile playing on her lips as she regarded Benjen from the distance, but remained standing beside the armchair made of red cherry wood. Its’s arms and feet were made of snarling dragons, like the castle itself.

“Of course,” Benjen replied and pulled his sister into a tight embrace, smelling sandalwood and lavender in her hair. It was a smell that reminded him of his mother. “Why would you think otherwise, dear sister?”

Lyanna’s warm breath tickled his neck, her grey eyes glittering with sadness.

Benjen knew that something was amiss when she had called upon him so urgently, but he didn’t ask her about it. He wanted to give her some time to enjoy in their reunion. It had been a year.

“You haven’t visited in nearly a year,” Lyanna complained and touched his cheek. “You are now a man.”

“And soon to be wed,” Benjen announced solemnly. It was Lady Dacey Mormont, the eldest daughter of Lady Maege Mormont, who had shared his camp during their campaign against the Greyjoy’s. He was sure that Ned would have preferred a better match for him, but he was the younger son. He had no reason to wed for power. Robb would inherit Winterfell one day and not Benjen.

Lyanna’s smile brightened. “Who is it?”

“Lady Dacey Mormont.”

“A good match,” Lyanna complimented.

“And a proper Northern woman. Well, you have my blessing,” she added and kissed his cheek once more.

Then, she let go of him and shifted her attention back to Aemon, who had watched them with curiosity.

“Will you bring your Lady to court, Uncle Benjen?”

Benjen was surprised to hear that and gave Lyanna a confused look.

Lyanna was quick to react and leaned down to press a kiss on Aemon’s cheek while her other hand pulled on his arm.

“Aemon….Would you leave us for a while?” she asked and her boy gave a solemn nod, though Benjen could see the disappointment in his dark eyes.

“But mother…,” he began to protest, but Benjen’s smile silenced him at once.

“You should listen to your mother. I shall attend to you later, nephew.”

Aemon nodded his head. “Promise?”

Benjen smiled. “Promise.”

When the door had closed behind the little Prince, Benjen shifted his attention back to Lyanna.

“What was that about King’s Landing?”

Lyanna exhaled deeply and crossed her arms in front of her.

“To put it bluntly: Rhaegar wants Aemon to go to King’s Landing and I hoped I could convince you to stay for a while longer…to make sure that Aemon settles in.”

Benjen understood her reasoning, but wasn’t sure whether Dacey would like the idea of residing in King’s Landing.

“I shall accompany Robb to King’s Landing,” Benjen explained and squeezed Lyanna’s shoulder. “I could stay a while longer…” he trailed off.

Lyanna nodded her head and searched his gaze, her lips trembling with emotion.

“You know what court is like. Rhaegar thinks it will all work out perfectly, but Aemon will be alone. True, he will have Aegon and I do not deny that the boys get along well, but there are many others who will mislike my son. To have you there would be a great comfort to him.”

Benjen nodded his head in understanding, though his heart longed for home.

“I could stay another year,” Benjen offered. “But then I must return. Ned has plans for me. I have left him alone for too long.”

Lyanna seemed pleased with his offer and embraced him tightly.

“How can I ever repay you?”

Benjen chuckled and patted her head. “Don’t be silly, sister. There is no need for repayment.”

Lyanna smiled.

“It will also be good for Robb.”

“Aye,” Benjen laughed. “Ned tells me he is very excited about the prospect of going south.”

Lyanna laughed. “I supposed my nephew also dreams of becoming a knight like his Uncle?”

Benjen laughed. “Aye, I suppose that is the case.”

Chapter Text

Aemon

The blow against his helmet made his head squirm.

Keep your shield up, you fool, Aemon reminded himself for the hundred time and that day and barely managed to parry the next blow to his left.

He clenched his teeth as his brother’s sword clashed against his wooden shield and drove him backwards. A handful of aggressive hacks followed and Aemon’s luck turned.

When Egg was getting this handsy it meant that his brother was losing his patience.

Watching his brother’s movement, he anticipated the next blow in time.

He lifted his shield in time and brought his blade forward, aiming at his brother’s weaker side.

The blade darted off his armor, bring forth a clinking sound, but that was only the beginning.

Aemon stepped backwards and lifted his blade, feinting a blow to brother’s left side. Egg’s hasty movement betrayed his displeasure of having been outsmarted in the previous round engagement. In a real battle that could have meant, something Arthur  never failed to remind him of.

Aemon went for it and brought his blade down on Egg’s left side, his blade ganging against his brother’s helmet.

The metal rang loudly and Aemon wasted no time to use Egg’s confusion to his advantage. He used his shield as a weapon and shoved Egg backwards before aiming at his left side.

His brother could barely lift his blade, before Aemon’s blunted blade clashed with Egg’s arm.

A muffled cry of pain escaped him, the blade slithered out of his hand and lost his footing altogether.

That’s it, Aemon knew and kicked Egg’s leg, causing him to fall unto his ass.

Aemon’s breathing was labored when pulled his helmet from his head and brought his blade to Egg’s neck.

“Well done,” Egg replied, his voice muffled by the visor of his helmet. “You treated me like a bull!”

Aemon laughed and brushed his sweaty hair out of his face.

Then, he leaned down and offered his hand to his brother.

Egg laughed as Aemon pulled him back to his feet.

“You got me there,” Aemon replied with a smile.

Egg lifted his helmet from his head and grinned, despite his defeat.

“Well, tomorrow is a new day,” Egg replied enthusiastic as ever. “But on the morrow we shall train with the lance. Then, I will get my victory.”

Aemon nodded his head and watched as Ser Arthur drew closer, his violet gaze narrowed against the bright sunlight. It was nearly midday and the heat was burning down on them like the breath of hell.

“You did well,” Ser Arthur said. He was always sparse with compliments. “But you must keep your shield up. I have told you a thousand times.”

Then, he shifted to Egg who shrugged his shoulders as if he already knew beforehand what Arthur would tell him.

“I know…I mustn’t be so hot-headed,” his brother jested. “It must be my dragonblood speaking or is it my Dornish blood? What say you, Ser Arthur?”

A hint of a smile played on Arthur’s lips. It was hard to be angry with Egg.

“You ought to curb your hot temper, your Grace,” he replied and brushed the sweat from his brow. Then, he turned around to shift his attention to the  other boys who had sought shelter beneath the trees lining the moss-covered walls of the courtyard.

There was Harry the Heir, blond-haired and as vain as a courtesan, Quentyn Martell, a gentle boy, but as boring as a cup of milk, followed by Gerris Drinkwater and Daemon Allyrion, formerly the bastard of Godsgrace. Both were Dornish and both disliked Aemon, so much he had realized during their first meeting. At last, came Robb, his cousin and one of his few real friends at court beside Egg and Harry.

“Alright, my young lords. Pack up your things and fetch your midday meal.”

Egg grinned at Aemon.

“Mother invited us. We should hurry.”

Aemon returned his brother’s smile as he picked up his helmet.

“Aye, let’s hurry.”

Robb grinned and patted Aemon’s shoulder to stop him along the way. “You were quick as ever. I could scarcely follow you. I ought to partake in the joust or melee in honor of your sister’s wedding.”

Aemon nodded eagerly. “It’s only a melee for the green boys, but by winning it I could win my spurs.”

“That will be me this time,” Harry added brazenly. “Unless Mace Tyrell’s golden boy partakes as well. Then, we are all fucked. They say he is an excellent swordsman.”

“He heard he likes to wear a flower cloak,” Daemon Allyrion sneered.

“I agree with Daemon,” Gerris Drinkwater added in amusement and crossed his arms in front of him. “Besides, everyone knows that Loras Tyrells prefers the joust. That means you will have to take it up with me, your Grace.”

Aemon tried not to show his annoyance.

At least, Daemon Allyrion was able to hide his dislike easier, but that was no surprise. He had been a bastard before his father had legitimized him scarcely two years ago.

“All of you are so ambitious,” Egg added in amusement and placed his hand on Aemon’s and Harry’s shoulders. “It will be a pleasure to watch you from the sidelines.”

Aemon chuckled, but felt a hint of pity for his brother. Queen Elia had forbidden him to partake in tourneys.

The smell of perfume was the first smell that assaulted his nostrils as he entered the Queen’s solar. It was a mixture of sandlewood and lavender with a hint of roses. It was the smell of Queen Elia’s ladies.

Their soft giggling grew only louder as Egg brushed aside the silken drapes and they entered a round chamber held by marble pillars and covered with gilded correlations.

The Queen always reminded him of a statue, seated as she was among these giggling girls holding their pieces of embroidery in their laps.

My mother hates it, Aegon had told him more than once. She prefers hawking and dancing, but her health does not allow for it.

That was certainly something Aemon could agree on and it made him all the happier that he had been born a boy and didn’t have to waste his time on such useless things as embroidery.

“Girls,” the Queen said, her voice firm, but strained from her constant bouts of coughing. “I fear I must ask you to leave me. I wish to dine with my son…and Prince Aemon.”

Prince Aemon. That was the only way she addressed him. It was a way to differentiate him form Aegon, so much he knew, but then it was much better to be called ‘Prince’ than ‘Bastard’. Of course, nobody would have ever dared to say such an insult to his face, but that didn’t mean Aemon wasn’t aware of the names he was given behind his back.

The Queen was not such a person, but her Dornish ladies were different. Especially, the new ones often looked at him as if he was some sort of ugly demon, but once they get used to his presence they usually kept their mouths shut.

As always, the girls fluttered away like a horde of butterflies, leaving only Aemon, Aegon, the Queen and the young page boy that remained standing.

“You look better, mother,” Aegon remarked and placed a quick kiss on the Queen’s cheek.

Aemon kept his distance and lowered his head in reverence. “Your Grace.”

The Queen tensed, her frail body wrecked by a coughing fit.

Once, the fit had subsided Aemon sat down in the cushioned chair placed near the table and took in the Queen’s appearance.

She did looked a little better, but the consumption had left its mark on her. The heavy gown of striped red, orange and black silk helped to hide her thin body, but the fact that it was at the height of summer and the Queen was covering herself in pelts was no good sign.

But Aemon kept these thoughts to himself.

“We should eat,” the Queen remarked, a tense smile crossing her lips as she waved her hand at the page  boy, who rushed off as if his life depended on him. His name was Little Richard Lonmouth, Lord Richard’s and Lady Ashara Dayne’s only son and heir. He had his father’s brown hair and blue eyes, but lacked his famous temper. On the contrary, Little Richard was a shy boy and lived to please everyone around him.

Not long after, the boy returned with two servants that brought them a bowl of steaming honey fingers, accompanied by fresh vegetables. They had no wine, though, only some fruity syrup mixed with honey and cooked water. It was a Dornish drink common for younger children, for the Queen held great dislike for wine.

That the Queen had ordered Aemon’s favorite dish surprised him even more, but when he saw Aegon’s grin he knew that it had been his brother’s idea.

“You should eat,” Aegon suggested and placed a piece into his mouth. “Or there will be nothing left for you, brother.”

Aemon nodded his head and ate slowly, enjoying every bite, but that didn’t make the whole meeting any less uncomfortable.

The Queen ate nothing and spent her time listening to Aegon’s tales, but rarely looked at Aemon.

Not for the first time, he wondered what the Queen would do if Aegon had been born with the Dornish looks and Aemon with the silver hair and purple eyes so common in his family. It was a shameful thing to do, but at times Aemon couldn’t help but to nurse a grudge against the Queen and her kin. He couldn’t accept that his mother had to hide away like a common whore, even though she was his father’s second wife.

“Prince Aemon,” the Queen addressed him politely. “I heard your name day is drawing closer…” she trailed off, as if she didn’t quite know what to say to him.

“It’s in a moon turn,” Aegon provided quickly. “By then we will be in Highgarden.”

The Queen nodded her head and cradled her cup of tea in her hands. A hint of a smile curled on her painted lips. “Good that you are bringing up Highgarden, my son. Your father has sent word that he won’t return to King’s Landing before the end of the week, which is why I want you and Prince Aemon to ride to Highgarden without us. We should be there in time for the wedding, though.”

“I see,” Aegon replied and scowled. “That means I have to play King, doesn’t it?”

“You don’t seem very pleased, “ the Queen said. “Why is that?”

“Because it means I will have to entertain Lord Pufffish”, Aegon said and made a swimming motion with his hands.

The Queen frowned and Aemon had a hard time keeping his laughter at bay. Richard, who was standing near the wall, was covering his mouth with his small hands, his cheeks deeply flushed.

“Aegon….that is no way to refer to the Lord Paramount of the Reach,” the Queen chided her son, but there was still a hint of amusement in her voice.

“Why not?” Aegon asked and poured down the food with his cup of fruit syrup. “His own mother calls him that.”

“It is true,” Aemon added politely. “Rhaenys said so.”

The Queen said nothing to his pointed remark, her dark eyes fixed on Aegon.

“You must stop acting like a little boy,” she chided her son and exhaled deeply. “You are nearly a man grown.”

Aegon scowled at that, but didn’t protest. Instead he lowered his head and smiled at the Queen.

“I shall do my best, mother,” Aegon promised.

Aemon remained silent for the rest of the evening and watched little Richard trying to stand still next to the door. It was an amusing sight to behold, because he was constantly squirming as if he was about to pee himself at any moment.

He was also thankful that Aegon was doing all the talking for them. It made it easier to eat and to avoid the Queen’s gaze.

Aemon was glad when it was time to leave, but to his surprised the Queen asked him to speak in private.

“What can I do for you, your Grace?” Aemon asked.  “Is there something amiss?”

“Nothing is amiss,” the Queen assured him. “I only wanted to ask for a favor.”

“A favor….Of course, anything you want.”

The Queen nodded her head in acknowledgment.

“I want you to keep Aegon away from Margaery Tyrell.”

Aemon was surprised by the Queen’s request, but couldn’t help but to defend his brother.

“Have you so little trust in Aegon, your Grace?”

“It’s the girl I don’t trust,” the Queen replied and coughed. “She is too much like her grandmother. I suppose you heard the famous story how Lady Olenna won herself a husband?”

Aemon felt slightly embarrassed to discuss such a matter with the Queen.

“Rhaenys told me the story.”

“Good,” the Queen replied curtly. “Then, you know the danger this girl could pose.”

Aemon swallowed hard and lowered his head in understanding.

“I shall do my best, your Grace,” he replied and lowered his head in understanding. “But why are you asking me?”

The Queen chuckled drily.

“Aegon listens to you. That is why.”