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Jaenara Targaryen always promised her daughter that she would become someone great, a woman of fire and flame. Valaena stares into her silver mirror, memorizing the lines of the silver and sea green cloak upon her back. Today, she gives up the colors that are her father's and embraces the colorless cloak of her mother's family.

The only child of Maegon Targaryen, Jaenara was overlooked in favor of her already-married uncle Aerys when it came time to name her father's heir. Named for the legendary explorer Jaenara Belaerys who flew her dragon to Sothoryos, Jaenara was as wild and demanding as a dragon. She grew bitter at the family who abandoned her and the mother who never gave her a brother to wed. Married off to the quiet, bookish lord of a vassal house so the world would forget her, Jaenara made sure it did anything but. She twirled Vaelor Velaryon around her finger with her joyous laugh and fondness for dancing, and gave him three handsome sons and a beautiful daughter in quick succession. And when it came time to make a match for each of their children, Jaenara had but one suitor in mind, only one man worthy enough of her daughter: Aerion Targaryen, Lord of Dragonstone, third son of the uncle who stole her rightful crown.

So much did her mother push the match that meek Lord Vaelor sailed a ship to the greater island and demanded Aerion's hand for Valaena and threatened war against the dragons if Aerion did not accept. Having no sisters of his own, Valaena was clearly the most superior match for a Targaryen dragonlord, and one the whispers said was already on Aerion's mind before her father's proud display. 

Aerion accepted, and now she is to be the dragon's bride.

A knock on the door startles away the handmaids that around her like flies. As they stepped away with heads bowed low, the eldest of her brothers enters her chamber. With a raised hand, Valaena sends them scampering from the room. Sheep. She thinks, watching them disappear, even her bastard half-sister who knows the truth and should know better than to leave these two alone. They may be Velaryon by name and half by blood, but Jaenara raised her most precious children two children the closest and made sure they were dragons in their hearts. And Aemond is the most Targaryen man she's ever met, with silver hair and purple eyes as dark and sparkling as amethysts and a chiseled face as beautiful as any sculptor could hope to make. Valaena was not allowed to meet her husband, but she is sure Aerion will never compare to this.

When she was just a girl and Jaenara told her about how the dragonlords of Old Valyria married brother to sister, she imagined herself with Aemond for months. Until her handmaid found the pictures beneath her pillow, with her and Aemond flying on dragonback together. She cried for days when Jaenara and Vaelor said she was destined to marry someone else, and even after she would spend her days hand-in-hand running through the hills of Driftmark with her brother. He had been her first kiss, first touch, although they did not go beyond the bounds of property - she would meet her husband as no more than a well-practiced maid. 

As Viselle Waters shuts the door behind the handmaids, Aemond surges forward and pulls his sister flush against his body. Her hair is too intricate to feel the weight of his hands running through it, but she can still feel his hardness pressed against her core where they perfectly me and the heaviness of his breath before he catches her lips in his and kisses her, hard and demanding, for what they both know will be the last time they can share in this love.

Valaena wants to crawl inside her brother. If only Vaelor was her father-uncle and not merely her father, they two would have been sister and brother and wife and husband, Lady and Lord of Dragonstone as they are meant to be. Targaryens they were meant to be, but only she will have the name they deserve. Aemond will be Lord of Driftmark once their lord father passes and only Valaena will ever bond with her own dragon once it hatches, as her husband promised in letters as her bridegift.

She sets a delicate hand upon his chest and pushes away. "You know this cannot continue."

Aemond nods solemnly. "I will be away on Driftmark, until I find my own bride and have a few heirs by her."

"In another life - " Valaena begins, but swallows her words. "But this isn't another life, is it?"

"Mayhaps someday your daughter can marry my son. Our ties together again." Aemond suggests, a smile on his lips.  Valaena steps back from his embrace for what surely will be the last time.

"No!" She insists, shaking her head so hard a pin flies out. Her hand brushes Aemond's as he too bends down to pick it up. And suddenly, all the little fires that spread from his touch a thousand times are no longer there. This brother who she thought understood her so well, understands her not at all. Valaena's duty is to secure her children's future and her families traditions. The Velaryons may have turned their backs on the ways of Old Valyria, but she will not let the Targaryens descend into that rampant madness. The last pair of brother-sister marriages was between Maegon and his beloved Maegelle. There was no sister for Aerys or Daemion or Aerion. The dragonblood is diluted; Valaena is more a Targaryen than her own husband. For Aemond to suggest she would do something so vilely against her own family's best interest - he does not know Valaena at all.

"My daughters will marry their brothers, like true Valyrians do." She says, resolute in her determination to give her husband all the children they may require.

"And if you do not have enough sons?"

"Then - then my son will have two wives, or three!"

Her palm meets his face as he laughs, an angry, bitter thing. "You laugh, but I will be mother to dragons and your children will be nothing compared to mine. How dare you suggest that they would marry someone so beneath them?"

Aemond rubs the redness on his face, smirking all the while. "Well, sweet sister, I will walk you down the aisle now, before you start to breath fire."

She takes a deep breath and sets her hand upon his elbow. Today, she rises. Today, she wakes the dragon inside. 

Chapter Text

Rhaenys was four when her mother lost the baby who would be her husband and the maester said she would have no more.

The image of Velaena Velaryon leaning into her husband's shoulder, a stony, distant look in her eyes, would haunt Rhaenys' dreams for years to come. Her mother was strong and vivacious, brimming with plans And ideas for improving the quality of life at Dragonstone. Yet silence gripped her for days after the baby died.

On the fifth day, she found Rhaenys in the family chamber overlooking the Narrow Sea and pulled the little girl into her lap. Velaena stroked her hands through her daughters soft, silver curls before gently setting a kiss against her forehead. She asked, “Do you remember what I told you about your new brother?”

Rhaenys nodded and repeated her mother's words. “He was going to be my husband. Like Gaemon and Daenys.”

“Well that's not going to be anymore.”

Rhaenys tilted her head, blinking up at her mother with her purple eyes. “Will I marry Orys, then?”

“No.” Velaena’s voice was cold and cruel. She did not like Aegon’s playmate and always treated him as if he were no more than a fly buzzing in the corner of the room. But yet he was also her children's brother, and those children loved Orys. “You will marry Aegon.”

“But Visenya is supposed to be his wife. Papa says.” In that moment, the little girl did not understand her mother's words. Rhaenys was close with her brother and idolized him even more than their older sister. Kind, strong, and a natural dragonrider, Aegon would also someday be the Lord of Dragonstone with Visenya at his side. “Aegon can only have one wife, anyway.”

Her mother's hands ran across her wild hair again, bringing it back behind her head. With deft fingers, Velaena began to cross the hair in a complicated four-strand plait. “Our history says otherwise. Your great-great-great-grandfather had many wives. But Aegon will not have many. He will just have two, and from his marriages will come the greatest leaders and dragonriders the world has ever known. Do you understand?”

Rhaenys was too young to truly comprehend her mother’s words then, having not yet even claimed her own dragon. But she liked to make her mother happy. So she smiled in that pretty way of hers, that always got her extra sweets even when she had been naughty. “Yes, muna.”

Her mother tied off her braid and patted her head. “Lovely. Now, would you like me to take you flying?”

Joy at the prospect rushed through her and Rhaenys nodded enthusiastically. Her eyes lit up with hope. Aerion gave Velaena a silver-and-gold dragon egg as a wedding gift, and it hatched nearly a year later. Her mother name the beast Meraxes, for an ancient Valyrian god. The creature was the prettiest of all the dragons. After each of her children were born, Velaena took them flying in their swaddling. She sometimes took them as a special treat, although Rhaenys did not know which she had done to get the offer.

Velaena guided her by her pale little hand, down the Castle stairs to where the dragons were, as if she was taking little Rhaenys out to face her destiny and the rest of her life.